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City of Trees

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Namjoon was on his third Rum and Coke before he looked at Jungkook long enough to ask why he had huge dark circles under his eyes.

“SCAD’s fall semester starts next week. Someone moved in right over me last night between 11:00 and 3:00 am.”

“And you woke up this morning? Why?”

“Early shift at the Bee Company,” Jungkook said, his head falling on the counter, “And it was fuckin dead in there except for the most annoying customers. 10:00 a.m. on a Thursday? Who the hell buys artisanal honey at 10:00 on a Thursday? Bottle-blond Southern women with way too much time and too many friends, that’s who. It was terrible.”

Namjoon snorted. “Can you add lime to this next one?”

Jungkook took his head off the bar. “You don’t like Cuba Libres. Every time I put lime in there you don’t’ finish it.”

“C’mon, kid. I’m just trying it out. I’ll like it this time if you just put less in.”

“No. And don’t call me kid.”

“Kid is the perfect fuckin title for you.”

“You call me Kid, I call you Deadbeat in front of every woman you try to flirt with. Deal?”

Namjoon swayed across the counter, one finger pointed right in his face. “I will talk to your manager, young man.”

“Do it. You know she’s looking for a nickname that’ll bother you. She’s your manager too, you know, and she doesn’t like you flirting on the job. Your beautiful hair is really fucked up.”

Namjoon dropped his glass on the counter and ran a hand through his slicked-back blond hair. “Better?”

Jungkook snickered and shook his head.

“Fuck.”

Jungkook left him smoothing his hands over his hair and made more drinks down the bar. Namjoon was a bouncer, and a loyal patron when he wasn’t working, so Jungkook had his drink preferences down to a science.

It was unusually lively for a Thursday night down in The Bar Bar, filled up with what he could only assume were students at SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design, with their brightly died hair and pseudo thrift shop, probably Urban Outfitters clothing. Jungkook bought his clothes at Old Navy and usually felt right at home in the bar’s “no frills atmosphere,” even if he was too young to drink, but ever since the students started getting back in town he’d felt a little out of place.

“Hey, kid,” someone with a crisp flannel shirt and a backwards snapback said, snapping for him. He looked the type to wear sunglasses at night. Jungkook tried not to roll his eyes. The guy was barely older than he was.

“Yeah?”

“Martini. Shaken, not stirred.”

Jungkook gave him a baleful stare.

“Dude,” said someone else sitting along the bar with a beer bottle in hand, some scaddy with fluffy blue hair and a completely expressionless face, “Are you twelve?”

“Get off my ass! Let the kid make me a James Bond martini.”

“They’re called Vesper Martinis and they’re kind of gross,” Jungkook said. “Are you sure you want that? I can make you a better martini if you want.”

The dumbass stuttered a little. “Just as long as it’s shaken, that’s fine.”

“I don’t fucking shake martinis.”

Fluffy blue hair snickered. “You got a problem?” The dude yelled. Blue hair looked up stoically, as if he wasn’t easily half his size and considerably shorter.

“Yes. Many.”

“Can I see your ID?” Jungkook asked before blue hair got smacked the fuck up.

“I’m fuckin twenty-five!”

“I don’t believe you. Can I see your ID?”

“Fuck you, dude.” Mr. Bond wheeled around to leave and slammed into someone coming from the other direction, knocking him completely to the ground in a flurry of skinny jeans and what looked like a varsity jacket made of random fabric scraps.

“Fuck. Taehyung.” Blue hair put his drink down quickly and got up to make sure the guy on the ground was okay. Mr. Bond stormed out of the bar without a second glance.

“You chasing off my customers?” Victoria asked, strolling up on her five-inch heels and staring curiously over the edge of the counter to where blue hair was practically dragging the dude off the floor.

“Pretty sure he was underage. Asked me for a martini. ‘Shaken, not stirred.’”

“Doesn’t mean he’s underage. I’ve done that.”

“I think he was underage.”

“Okay. Your call. Oh that’s Yoongi!”

Blue hair turned around. “I give you loyal patronage for three fuckin years, and you only just now recognize me? I’ve been here for an hour now.”

“You changed your hair! Who’s your friend? He got a fake ID too?”

“Bitch, I turned twenty-one two years ago. My ID ain’t fake anymore.”

Jungkook wasn’t paying attention. Yoongi’s friend was finally up off the ground and facing him, obviously more than a little drunk with the way he hung off Yoongi’s shoulder. His hair was light lavender, his face delicate but bright.

“You ok?” He asked.

“Huh?” The guy asked, fixing his hair and not really looking at him.

“Are you ok?”

Lavender hair flashed a brilliant, rectangular smile and a wild thumbs-up before dropping his head onto Yoongi’s shoulder and sagging sideways. Jungkook blinked rapidly, completely dazzled.

“Holy shit, Taehyung. Sit down.”

“I should probably do my job and offer him a drink, but maybe not…”

Victoria shook her head. “Ambulances are bad for business.”

“Yoongi, do you want a drink?”

“I’m still finishing my beer,” he said, hoisting Taehyung onto a bar stool.

“Treat him well,” Victoria said, motioning to Yoongi. “He’s one of our best regulars during the school year. Yoongi, this is Jungkook. He just graduated high school and started working here this summer. Be nice and break him in slowly. You can be kind of scary and I want to keep this kid.”

Jungkook grinned bashfully. Yoongi grumbled something about not going easy on anyone’s ass and Taehyung tried to balance several dirty glasses on top of each other. Jungkook took them from him and walked to the sink. Taehyung didn’t seem to notice.

Namjoon called him over. “Kookie, make me a Cuba Libre. With lime!”

“Fucking fine.”

“Is that Yoongi down there?” Namjoon asked when he handed him the Cuba Libre without lime.

“Yup, that’s Yoongi. You know him?”

“Fuck yeah, I know him. He’s the only good thing about SCAD being in session and having all these rich, pretentious kids around acting like they know anything. Art students. I love that guy though. He’s been coming here since I was still in high school. He must be a senior by now. I’m gonna go say hi in a minute. Is that kid his boyfriend?”

Jungkook sincerely hoped that wasn’t a swooping sense of disappointment in his gut.

“I don’t know.”

“Fuck, this Cuba Libre is good. See? I have good judgment.”

“That Cuba Libre is good because there’s no lime in it.”

Jungkook escaped Namjoon’s hissy fit by running down to take care of a few more orders waiting for him. By the time he had a few seconds to rest, Namjoon was chatting with Yoongi, a very drunk mop of lilac hair and fabric scraps hanging off his neck. Yoongi looked on with a vicious smirk.

“This guy is Drunk,” Namjoon told Jungkook when he walked over. “Drunk with a capital D. If I was on duty I might tell him to go home.”

“He looks like he really wants that D,” Yoongi murmured.

Taehyung tried to kick him and missed. “Fuck yeah, I want the D. That’s why I fucking came out here with you.” Not Yoongi’s boyfriend then. Jungkook found himself smiling. His voice was surprisingly deep for such a cute face. “I’m fuckin…” He caught sight of Jungkook. “Whoa. What’s your name?”

“Jungkook?”

“Fuck, you’re pretty.”

Jungkook stammered and flushed. He wasn’t half as pretty as Taehyung. Taehyung just stared blankly at him, eyes wide, perfect lips slightly open, slipping lower and lower as he put more and more of his weight on Namjoon.

“Look, kid,” Namjoon said, trying to pry Taehyung’s arms off his neck. “This is real flattering and all, but I’m kind of not into men.”

Taehyung dragged his eyes away from Jungkook. “Awww what? You don’t even want to try it?”

“He did,” Yoongi said.

“Yoongi, please don’t talk about that in public. People know me here.”

“There’s no reason to be ashamed of it. Jeez.”

“I wouldn’t be, except that it was you.”

“Ow.”

“You fucked Yoongi,” Taehyung slurred. “Ok. Not interested anymore.” He let go of Namjoon’s neck and fell off the bar stool.

“I’m not fucking helping you up after that shit,” Yoongi said. Namjoon stared down at him thoughtfully, his fruitless Cuba Libre travelling slowly to his lips. “I’d help you up, but I think you’d just fall off your stool again. You sure you’re old enough to be drinking? You don’t look any older than Jungkook here, and he’s eighteen.”

“Taehyung’s twenty.”

“Don’t say that with us right here!” Jungkook said.

“Why not? You’re eighteen.”

“I’m still kind of obligated to kick him out.”

“I’m not. I’m off duty,” Namjoon said.

“How do you even work here?” Yoongi asked Jungkook.

“It’s completely legal so long as I never drink where they find out about it. I can still mix drinks really well, so they don’t care. That guy—”

“Taehyung.”

“—down there with the purple hair, is very clearly intoxicated, and if he can’t prove that he’s twenty-one I have to kick him out now. Is he cuddling the leg of the pool table?”

“Relax. He has a fake. Plausible deniability.”

Jungkook walked away. He cut off contact with the group for the rest of the evening unless he was serving them drinks, because, for some reason, he really did not want to kick Taehyung out. He usually had no problem with it, but he watched, completely captivated, as Taehyung attempted to pole dance against a brick wall, fucked up someone’s pool game, and then spent a good five minutes imitating a parakeet, and could not bring himself to toss him out the door. Yoongi seemed remarkably unfazed by all this. Namjoon looked completely mystified.

“He’s not that drunk,” Yoongi told Jungkook as he handed over another beer. “He’s like this all the time.”

“Fuck. What?”

“He’s pretty horny and I’m trying to find him some fun. He likes you. You wanna take him home tonight?”

“The fuck? No!”

“Don’t like ‘em with dicks, huh.”

“Don’t like them drunk! I’m fine with dicks!”

Yoongi gave him a very interested once-over, like he might take him home himself, then shook his head. “Nah. Too young.”

Jungkook went to hide out in the back room for a bit. By the time he came out, two other SCAD-looking kids had arrived and were in the process of carrying Taehyung out the door. Namjoon gave him one last wave over Yoongi’s head and went with them. He was very sorry to see them go. The rest of the night was quite averagely tedious, completely free of lavender hair and dazzling smiles.

 

Taehyung didn’t come back to the bar that week, though Yoongi did. The anticipation followed by disappointment kept him in a constant bad mood. He didn’t dare ask Yoongi about him, beyond a casual, “How was his hangover?” the next day, to which the answer was, “fucker doesn’t get fucking hangovers yet. It’s shitty as fuck.”

The following Wednesday, though, on his day off, he opened his apartment door to take the trash out and Taehyung walked right past him in the middle of his apartment building.

“Morning,” he muttered, canvas messenger back bouncing against his hip.

“Hey, wait.”

Taehyung turned around curiously. His hair hung in his eyes. His shirt had a distracting image of a ghastly-looking stag on it and some pastel triangles.

Maybe it was the shirt or maybe it was his intimidatingly expectant stare, but Jungkook felt adrenaline shoot out of his brain. He tried to stay calm. “I’m, uh, I’m the bartender. From last Thursday.”

Taehyung stood there for a minute, mouth hanging open and searching the ceiling as if trying to remember, and Jungkook felt himself flushing. If he’d been looking up for Taehyung every time the bar door opened and Taehyung didn’t even remember him that would be seriously pathetic.

“Oh yeah! I did go drinking last Thursday. I’m sorry, were you there? I don’t remember who the bartender was.”

Jungkook felt like whacking his head on a wall. “Yeah, that was me.”

“Ah. So are we neighbors then?”

“Yeah.”

“Ok, cool. I’ll stop by later for a drink, Mr. Bartender.” He shot him an exaggerated peace sign and his bright smile and then disappeared down the stairs yelling “I’d stay longer but I have class!” behind him.

Jungkook just stood there outside his door and attempted to analyze the interaction.

Halfway through the next hour, Jungkook caught himself staring at the door as if Taehyung would knock on it at any second.

“Jesus Christ it’s only been thirty minutes; what’s happening to me?” he asked the TV, which replied with another commercial for Taco Bell. Not a positive response. It occurred to him that Taehyung wasn’t going to come over anyway and he’d just said he would to politely get out of talking to him. Maybe he wouldn’t remember.

He figured he shouldn’t care. His day off meant eight hours of Halo, and he didn’t plan on skipping out on that, Taehyung or not. He’d already taken enough time away at the gym. He fired it up and got completely lost in the game.

It had only been ninety minutes before there was a knock on the door. He swore, put down the controller, and only remembered Taehyung as he was turning the knob, and was entirely unprepared to see him on the other side of the door, him and his scary t-shirt.

“Oh shit!”

Taehyung smirked. “I’ve been called worse.”

“Ah. Sorry. Um. Right, come inside. Let me pause the game over here.”

“Halo, huh?”

“You play?”

Taehyung shook his head. “I did some Legend of Zelda when I was younger. And Pokémon, of course.”

“Obviously. I never got into the Zelda franchise though. Did you want a drink?”

“You did say you were a bartender, right?”

Jungkook skirted around him, skinny jeans and an old, worn-out t-shirt standing in the middle of his living room, and had to stop for a minute and stare.

Taehyung snickered. “Yeah?”

“Sorry. It just hit me that we’re neighbors and you’re in my apartment.”

“That I am. Is that weird?”

“I guess not. I just only met you once and you were shit-faced.”

Taehyung groaned and sank onto the floor. “Why do I always meet everyone that way? I don’t remember the last time I met someone and I wasn’t drunk. It sucks! I’m always the asshole that never remembers anyone.”

Jungkook snorted. “Yeah, that stung a bit. What do you want?”

Taehyung popped up behind the counter, messenger back gone. “Martini! Shaken, not stirred.”

“Oh god.”

“Kidding, kidding. What can you make me with vodka?”

“Uh, you want a Screwdriver?”

“Just vodka and OJ? Can I have something fancy?”

“Vodka Martini? Bloody Mary? Cosmo? Sex on the Beach?”

Taehyung grinned. “That shit hurts. Sand everywhere, and I mean Everywhere. Let’s go with that one.”

Jungkook giggled and pulled the peach schnapps off the top shelf.

“Hey, if you’re a bartender, can you hook me up with alcohol? I don’t like using my fake.”

“Dude, I’m eighteen.”

“Seriously? I thought you looked younger than me. And you’re a bartender?”

Jungkook nodded. “I’m allowed to handle drinks, just not drink them.”

“Who buys you all of this?”

“Namjoon, usually. You do remember him, right?”

“Namjoon, Namjoon, um… Must have been the hot guy with the blond hair, right?”

“Yeah. Jeez. You were hanging all over him and you don’t even remember his name? You left with him.”

“We hung out all night, too. I think I kissed him at the end. I don’t think he liked it.”

Jungkook snorted in disbelief.

“You gonna have anything?” Taehyung said, nodding at the drinks.

“I’ll do the screwdriver.”

“Ooh! I want a Mimosa after this!”

“I’m sorry. I don’t have any champagne.”

Taehyung pouted, then started playing with his facial expressions as Jungkook made the drinks, sucking his cheeks in a crossing his eyes. He bit his lip and puffed his cheeks out, eyes bugging, and Jungkook burst into giggles. Taehyung looked up innocently.

“What?”

“What are those faces?”

Taehyung shrugged, grimacing adorably, and picked up his drink. Jungkook couldn’t help but watch as Taehyung took a long, testing sip, and then burst into a smile so bright Jungkook could swear it came with a sound effect. “This is awesome!”

He turned to go sit down. His ass was precious in those skinny jeans. Jungkook took a swig of straight vodka before he grabbed his drink and went to sit beside Taehyung, who was curled around his Sex on the Beach like it was a hot cup of coffee. At least it hid the dead stag on his shirt.

“So what do you do to have such a nice apartment?” Taehyung asked, eyeing him flirtatiously up past the rim of his glass.

“I’m a bartender trying to earn enough to stop working at the Savannah Bee Company store and pay for this apartment on my own. Mom’s paying for half of it.”

Taehyung got an ‘I’m trying not to make fun of you’ face, a kind of muted smirk. “That’s pretty cute.” Jungkook refused to be embarrassed.

“What about you?”

“I’m on scholarship. My mother is also helping me pay for my lovely, unfurnished apartment upstairs. I should probably get a job if I want to pimp it out enough to take people home.”

“So you go to SCAD?”

“Yup. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah Campus, Junior. Illustration. Last year everything started with S until my major. I wrecked it.”

“Huh. Pretty easy when ‘Savannah’ is at the front of half of those. Illustration?”

Taehyung put his knees down and awkwardly pulled out the front of his shirt with one hand. “I drew this.” Ack. “Pretty typical stuff, but hey, this aesthetic sells, and if anyone asks me where I got it, I can sell it to them right off my back.”

Jungkook snorted and Taehyung flashed him a grin. “What’s your major?” he asked.

“I’m not in school. I just work.”

“Huh. I should get a job. Do you do any arty stuff on the side?”

“Sometimes I work out. I can kind of sing and dance,” Jungkook murmured, “and I draw a little.”

“Cool! I sing too. I have some friends who are dancers. You should meet them.”

Jungkook tended to stay away from scaddies. He stayed quiet and sipped his drink. Taehyung didn’t seem bothered, staring around the apartment with wide eyes, bobbing his head like he was listening to music. “So Halo,” he said, staring at the TV. “You play this a lot?”

“Yeah, all the time.”

“With friends or by yourself?”

Jungkook snorted. The last several months had been lonely to say the least. “I don’t really have any friends beside Namjoon. Everyone moved away for college. Or stopped talking to me completely.”

“You should totally come hang with the gang.” He made finger guns around the glass in his hand.

“I’m not twenty-one. I can’t drink.”

Taehyung stopped shooting his finger guns. “Neither am I! And I don’t mean bars. What are your favorite things to do here?”

“Halo.”

“Really? You live and work in downtown Savannah and you play Halo? Where do you go when you want to get out and do something?”

“I don’t know, the gym? The candy store on River Street?”

Taehyung gaped at him. “Like a fucking tourist. You’re kidding.”

“This town sucks! Why would I leave this apartment?”

“It only sucks because you think you know the place. I see that all the time. People come here from cool cities and they’re so glad to get away from home, but after the first break they come back homesick and heartbroken and very appreciative of where they come from. You’d do the same thing. This is a tourist town for a reason. There’s an art college here for a reason.”

Jungkook shook his head, needing to get back onto solid ground when it came to his own fucking city. “This is a tourist town because the art college revived it, not the other way around.”

Taehyung waved a hand in the air, “Doesn’t matter. Do you know what Foxy Loxy is?”

Jungkook snorted. “That’s some hipster coffee shop, right?”

Taehyung scoffed, stood up, and chugged the rest of his drink. “Some hipster coffee shop. That place is the shit! Fuckin bourbon bacon brownies. BBB.”

“Bro. Chill. What?”

“We’re going there. Right now. I am spending the rest of the day introducing you to your own city. You have no say in the matter. I’ll pay for everything. Get up! It’s already noon!” Taehyung turned off the TV, then attempted to turn off the game system and gave up. Jungkook did it for him, still confused. “Hold on, what are we doing? Let me change out of my pajamas.”

Taehyung giggled and followed him into his bedroom. “Nice little room you got here. Overlooks Broughton. Nicest street in the city, this.”

“What? It’s the shopping street. It’s too loud.” Jungkook said, yanking open his dresser. “I hope they don’t string the lights across the street from my window in the winter. See that hook there?” Taehyung walked to the window and looked down at a metal hook in the wall right under his window.

“But the lights are so pretty,” he whined.

“I bet they’re not when there’s one shining directly into your bedroom all night every night.”

“I’m gonna pull it out.”

“Wait, what? No! Vandalism! They’ll make me pay for it.”

“Too late.”

Jungkook jumped across his bed to find Taehyung already unscrewing the hook. He snickered evilly and dropped it on the pavement below. “There. It fell out. Not anyone’s fault but gravity.”

“Your fingerprints are on that!”

“As if they’d check. Lighten up! Let’s go!”

Jungkook wasn’t sure why he was agreeing to go run around the city in the middle of the afternoon in August when he could be happy at home playing Halo and drinking more vodka. He’d planned to stay in his pajamas all day. He still pulled his pajama shirt off and went for a shirt in the drawer.

“Hey, turn around,” Taehyung said.

“Why?” Jungkook asked, turning curiously. For the first time that day, Taehyung looked intensely serious. Jungkook suddenly wondered if there was a spider on him or something. “Taehyung…”

“I’ll tell you in a minute. Keep turning.”

Jungkook turned till he was fully facing Taehyung, very tense and a little freaked out.

“Huh,” Taehyung said, voice soft, one hand playing with his lips. “You’re a lot more built than I thought. Those are some muscles, those are.”

Oh. That was all. Jungkook leaned over and put his hands on his knees, huffing out a relieved sigh. “Dude, don’t scare me like that. I thought there was a spider or something. I have enough trouble with cockroaches in here; I don’t need black widows too.”

Taehyung laughed, oddly reserved. He was still staring at Jungkook’s torso. Jungkook gave him his most intense look of suspicion, and pulled his shirt on.

“Aw, damn,” Taehyung murmured.

Jungkook flushed. “Can you turn around? I need to change the rest of my clothes.”

Taehyung turned very slowly, keeping his eyes over his shoulders till the last moment, bottom lip between his teeth, and then faced front with a sigh. Jungkook didn’t think he’d ever changed his underwear so fast. He nearly fell over getting tangled in his basketball shorts. “Ok. You can turn around.”

Taehyung immediately dropped his torso down to stare at him from between his legs, lavender hair brushing the floor, forearms flopping flat on the carpet, and dead stag t-shirt slipping up towards his face over his own surprising set of abs. “Yay! I can see you now!” He looked totally different upside-down with his hair off his face. Weird and older. And really fucking flexible.

“Um.”

Taehyung stood straight again, back arching, and fixed his t-shirt. “We’re getting lunch first.”

Jungkook pulled on a snapback and vans. “Let’s go.”

They ate at the Asian noodle place called the Flying Monk Jungkook always passed on the way to work. He could tell why it was crowded all the time. The food was fucking delicious, but Jungkook spent about half the meal with his chopsticks hanging halfway out of his mouth as he stared at Taehyung. Taehyung put salt in his drink just for fun, added soy sauce to the soup for no reason, made a sculpture of a Danish windmill out of napkins, tried to take a bite out of the menu, and ate an eggroll without using his hands.

Taehyung dragged him up the entirety of Broughton Street, stopping in every half interesting store for all of ten seconds. They stopped in the Paris Market, a vintage-y decorative curio shop of a place, and Taehyung covered himself in sample perfumes and sat in the back corner of the basement for a couple minutes poking at an old typewriter. Jungkook went back upstairs to look at some photography books, and turned around to find Taehyung with a sparkly-gold, very expensive looking headband in his hair.

“How do I look?”

“Cute?” He answered honestly, and Taehyung giggled curled adorably in on himself. “The gold looks good with the purple.”

“I’ll buy it.”

“The headband? It’s so girly though.”

“And its twenty-seven dollars. Never mind.”

Jungkook would not let them go into the Savannah Bee Company store. Taehyung grabbed his arm and tried to drag him into the store.

“Hell no! I work there! Why would I want to do that? I thought you were supposed to be showing me things that I don’t already know.”

“Awww, but I wanted to make puns about bees and honey!”

Jungkook threw his legs into yanking away from Taehyung, and only ended up pulling him hard into himself. They both fell over on the sidewalk.

“SCAD students,” some man muttered while walking around them.

Jungkook sighed. Taehyung was still flopping around on top of him giggling. “Let’s go read funny books in Urban Outfitters.”

“I have not entered that store since it opened.”

“Time to break the streak! It’s that or I make you come with me into Victoria’s Secret. You do not want to see what I’m like in that store.”

“Fuck. Fine.”

Jungkook left the store with a book of recipes for marijuana food. Taehyung left with dark teal nail polish. “I think this will be my next hair color.”

“You’re not going to keep it purple?” Jungkook asked, reaching out to touch it.

Taehyung leaned his head into Jungkook’s hand, which almost made him yank his hand away. “I change it every month or so. No big deal. I’m fickle, impulsive, spontaneous. What are you going to do?”

“Uh, nothing?”

“Ok. That was a pretty unusual quote. Not something people reference very often. My fault.”

“What’s it from?”

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

“Never seen it.”

“And now I know what we’re watching tonight.”

The walk to Foxy Loxy was much longer than Jungkook anticipated, but there was a lot to see on the way. Taehyung led him through several squares, shaded parks every couple blocks all over the city, full of umbrella-like live oaks dripping with grey moss. These, at least, Jungkook new, having spend countless hours trying to skateboard along the brick walkways with his friends in middle school, or holding his mom’s hand as she led him through crowds of cheerful drunks filling the squares on St. Patrick’s Day.

Taehyung muttered, “It’s really hot,” and then dunked his head in a public fountain. His hair turned a lovely vibrant purple when it was wet. They visited the world’s cutest little house-turned-bookstore with Taehyung’s hair still dripping water onto his shirt, turning the white just a little translucent.

“You’re a mess,” Jungkook said as Taehyung pawed through the romance novels.

“I’m hot!”

“You should not have worn skinny jeans.”

“But they make my butt look good.”

“What butt?”

Two very nice-looking, very grumpy old ladies chased them out of the store when Taehyung started throwing books at him.

“SCAD art store!” Taehyung said, leading him into a glassy trinket shop full of artsy accessories, pillows, and paintings. “My stuff is gonna be good enough to sell stuff out of this place before I graduate,” he said, skipping around with his arms over his head. The three other customers in the wide, open store turned to stare. Jungkook hid behind a table of candles.

One of the smallest candles was seventy-five dollars. “Taehyung, please don’t drip on anything.”

“If I had more cash, I’d buy everything in my house from stores like this. There’s a place back down on Broughton that sells furniture made of actual airplane parts. I want some of those. One day, hopefully soon, when I marry a very rich man that’s never around, all the cool furniture will be mine.”

Jungkook looked at some prints at the back, and then got bored and wandered to the front where Taehyung was leaning across the counter, flirting shamelessly with the cashier, a tall, blond man with a lip piercing and tattoos covering his arms. Jungkook felt a little intimidated.

“Can we go?” he asked quietly.

“Ok!” he turned to the guy. “I wrote my number on that bag. Call me.”

“Do that a lot?” Jungkook asked.

“Yeah. I love sex.”

Jungkook snorted. “Not even gonna ask him to dinner first?”

“No way. I don’t want a boyfriend. I’m kind of a free spirit, ya know? I keep my emotions and my love life waaaay separate.”

“Can’t be healthy,” Jungkook said.

“It’s working out so far. I don’t get relationships. Everyone I know who gets in a relationship suddenly has no time for anything but that. It seems so constrictive. I can’t imagine being so emotionally and recreationally dependent on just one other person. Wouldn’t do it.”

“I think that sounds kind of nice,” Jungkook muttered, remembering all the exhausted evenings he’d spent lying in his apartment wishing he wasn’t alone.

“Well, we’ll just have to find you a girlfriend then. Or boyfriend. There’s a cool tea room across the street if you want to go.”

And there went that conversation. “What the hell is a tea room?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never been. I guess you drink tea there? Jimin—he’s a friend—told me it used to be a legit apothecary and they still have the walls lines with tons of old books and shit.”

“Damn. I knew this city was a hipster’s wet dream, but I never really got how bad it was until today.”

“Hipster, hipster. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

“Oh really. What does it mean then?”

Taehyung shut his mouth for a minute, head tilted to one side, his hands behind his back, thinking. “I don’t actually know. I think people mean different subsets of people when they say it because it encompasses such a wide range of people. In pure terms its just younger people who keep up with alternative trends and fashions to the mainstream, whatever that is. I think you mean pretentious idiots who subscribe to a really stereotyped version of hipster stuff and are actively scornful of anything outside of it. That’s actually kind of a mainstream thing to be, right now, so they’ve completely defeated the purpose of alternative, progressive living in the first place and bought into the capitalist system they claim to reject. That’s not what hipsters are, though. That’s just a subset.

“And really, hipsters are so different from each other that I don’t like defining anyone that way, because they’re all splitting off into their own things, and you could call someone a hipster and mean one thing, and they call themselves a hipster and mean something else entirely.”

“Are you a hipster?”

“I’m sure some people would say so, yes. I call myself an artist and a whack job. Are you a hipster?”

“Not at all.”

“Huh. Really? I don’t meet many of those.”

“Many not hipsters?”

“Yeah. I do go to SCAD, though. Nobody’s not a hipster in one form or another.” Taehyung looped an arm through Jungkook’s and skipped off down the sidewalk, dragging him along.

Forsyth park, a huge, long rectangle of greenery in the middle of the southern half of the city, was strangely crowded. Jungkook felt like a dog walker missing a leash as they walked in and Taehyung immediately ran over the top ledge of a bench, then across the walkway to the bench on the other side, bounced on top of a trash can, and then ran in a circle around Jungkook and jumped on his back. Jungkook flailed and grabbed his legs, but dropped him. Taehyung immediately took off into the azalea bushes. Jungkook waited for a moment on the huge central sidewalk, a thirty-foot-wide corridor of cement squares under towering oaks down towards the gleaming postcard fountain, hoping Taehyung would come out on his own. He didn’t. Jungkook felt like a fifty-year-old man looking after a toddler. He took a moment to gather his breath, and followed him through the azaleas.

Taehyung was halfway up a small tree when Jungkook found him.

“Dude. Seriously? You’ll break it.”

“I’ve climbed this before. It’s safe.”

“You’re gonna hurt yourself.”

“Are you seriously only eighteen? You fret like my mother.”

“Oh god, you have a mother. That poor women. Bless her soul.”

Taehyung giggled and hung himself upside-down from a branch, one hand grabbing at Jungkook’s shoulder and the other holding his own shirt down (up?). The stag looked even spookier at this angle, weird black lines blotting out its dead body except for one gleaming eye that looked even crazier upside-down. “We could Spiderman kiss right now.”

“You could also get down.”

“You’re no fun.” He smacked the brim of Jungkook’s hat, turning it sideways. Jungkook just turned it all the way around.

“It’s already three in the afternoon! When are we going to get to the damn coffee shop!”

Taehyung hoisted himself back up onto the branch and then practically fell out of the tree with how fast he got down. He jogged down the grassy, shady stretch, nearly knocking pedestrians off the paths, and Jungkook followed helplessly.

The other side of Forsyth beyond the oaks and famous fountain, was some sort of giant monument between two long grassy fields, playgrounds and a soaring circus-tent-like band shell with a café area on the near end, and tennis courts in the distance by the road. Scaddies swarmed the fields, Frisbees and soccer balls flying. A dance troupe practiced on the band shell stage. People lay out sunning in swimsuits on the grass. Several girls with dreads hula-hooped over old-fashioned picnic baskets and gingham blankets. Until a couple weeks ago, Jungkook could almost have guaranteed that he’d run into people from his high school out there, but the underclassmen had been back in school for weeks, and his graduating class was all off at college. He felt a little lonely.

Taehyung was walking on top of the playground monkey bars.

“All these parents are going to sue you when their children try to copy you and fall on their faces.

“These parents can suck m—You know, actually, I think I’m going to keep that thought to myself with all these kids around.”

“Good plan. Can we please go see the damn coffee shop?”

Taehyung gave him a Look. “Ok, Mr. Grouchy Gills. We can leave this awesome playground, but I did not drag you out here today to visit a simple coffee shop. I dragged you out here to have fun. Now let’s go join that ultimate Frisbee game.”

That sufficiently derailed Jungkook’s train of thought. “Join what?”

Taehyung was not a shy person. He was also very good at butting into someone else’s Frisbee game. He was not the best player, but Jungkook was good enough for both of them. No one can expect someone with purple hair that can’t focus long enough to eat a meal without incident to pay close enough attention to have any idea of what’s going on in a fast-paced game of Ultimate anyway. He could throw the damn thing, but he could not remember if he was on shirts or skins, even though he was still wearing his fucking stag shirt, and he never knew which side of the field he was supposed to go towards.

He made a great wild card and he was a natural at distracting the opponent, attempting a back flip and landing on his face, impersonating a gorilla, simply making faces, or howling and racing towards them with his eyes bugging and his arms stretched out.

An hour later they went looking for water, clothes soaked through with sweat and covered in grass stains. Jungkook bought water bottles in an “inferior,” coffee shop, by Taehyung’s title, as Taehyung spent a few minutes in the bathroom. He came out with his hair bright, wet purple again, and his clothes even more soaked than before, stag shirt clinging to his abs.

“What did you do?”

“I took off my clothes, washed them, and myself in the sink, wrung them out, and put them back on. They’ll dry the minute we walk outside. You should do the same. Can I have the water bottle? I have to get out before the manager sees me.”

Jungkook stared at his red, sweaty face in the bathroom mirror for a few seconds, legitimately wondering if he’d been having some sort of weird, adventurous stress-dream this entire time, before his eye caught on some stands of purple hair in the sink drain. The floor was already soaking wet. He followed Taehyung’s lead and took a sink bath and rinsed his clothes off.

Halfway to the door he saw the manager coming out from behind the counter, jaw locked and face livid. He sped up, depending on the obstacle course of tables between himself and the manager for protection, and ran out the door. “Taehyung, go, go, go he’s coming, he’s coming, fuckfuckfuckfuck—”

Taehyung was already up and running. Jungkook heard the door slam open behind him and picked up speed. They slowed down a couple blocks later, leaning on the wall and panting in the oppressive heat, dripping on the sidewalk. Jungkook’s cheeks hurt from smiling. He turned to Taehyung, who looked up at him from under his purple fringe, grinning excitedly. He snickered and ruffled Jungkook’s hair. “There it is. Good boy.”

“Huh?”

“Nothing. Let’s go. Damn I’m glad my wet clothes are cooling me off.”

Jungkook squirmed uncomfortably. “They keep sticking to me.”

“They’ll be dry in fifteen minutes out here.”

Taehyung chattered too much for Jungkook’s level of exhaustion, talking about anything from the genetic differences of azalea colors to the outcome of that summer’s CrossFit games, which were both things that Jungkook had never thought to even consider, then moved on to Cowboy Beebop, apparently the world’s best anime. Jungkook had nothing to contribute. When Jungkook realized the conversation had moved through prophetic dreams and was now meandering down the trail towards the true nature of good and evil he had to stop walking and put his hands on his knees.

“You ok? Foxy is right there.”

“I just. I need a minute.”

Taehyung crouched down on the ground to look up into Jungkook’s face. He looked a little like a bird. “I’m sorry. I’ve been told that I overwhelm people sometimes. Should I shut up?”

“No, no. Don’t do that. I just never knew there were so many things to talk about and I can’t contribute to anything.”

Taehyung laughed quietly. “You should hear my lecture about giant squid. I can usually swing into a discussion about Yetis vs. Sasquatches, and then smoothly transition to human evolution. I’m pretty proud of that one.”

“I can’t help you with any of those either. Maybe sasquatches, a little.”

“You look tired. Let’s get you some coffee.”

He’d expected Foxy Loxy to be underwhelming after all the buildup, and in a way, it was. It was just a house turned into a coffee shop, the serving counter where the dining room should be, seating filling the rooms, and art papered the walls. They sat in the large back courtyard surrounded by high, ivy-covered walls, a stoplight and a carousel horse, herbs growing in the corner, a fire pit, and a small stage called “The Acoustic Alter.” For the first time that day, Taehyung stopped talking and held still, and they sipped their coffee in silence

“I love this place,” Taehyung said, crushed up into his chair around his iced coffee.

“It’s…kinda weird,” Jungkook said. “It’s absolutely not the kind of place I’d usually go, but I’d come here again. It’s really cool.”

“Too hipster, right?”

Jungkook snickered. “Yeah. I guess that’s not so bad though. This bourbon bacon brownie is awesome.”

“They have great tacos.” Taehyung’s hair was dry again, and very fluffy. Jungkook wondered if he would purr like a cat if he pet him, then shook that thought quickly from his head.

“I’m weird, right?” Taehyung said softly.

“What? No! Well…yeah, you’re really weird, but I hadn’t thought of it like that until this moment.”

Taehyung stared at him for a moment. “What did you think then?”

“Well, you’re kind of nuts, but it’s a good nuts. It’s really fun. Thanks for taking me out and dragging me around today. You’re right. I haven’t tried to have fun here in a while, and I think I’ve been missing out.”

Taehyung smiled widely. “Yay! Mission accomplished. I’d better get back, though. I have homework. I don’t think I’ll have time to watch Scott Pilgrim with you tonight.”

“I’m having a hard time imagining you actually working.”

“I’m very diligent if I like what I’m doing.”

Taehyung wouldn’t let them leave for another half hour, though, so Jungkook spent the time watching the alternative crowd filling up the tables around them and striking up occasional conversation about cocktails or high school. Taehyung didn’t seem to remember his school fondly. He’d change the subject to prank wars or the concept of hell whenever it came up.

On the way back, they touched on sex.

“Ok, this is my favorite topic of conversation.”

“Really? All that stuff about giant squid and the concept of good and evil and your favorite topic is sex?”

“Sex is awesome. Do you have a problem talking about sex?”

“No, it just seems kind of pedestrian after listening to you wax philosophical all day.”

“There were a lot of good words in that sentence. I applaud you. And who says I can’t wax philosophical about sex? There’s something truly sublime about having a dick up your ass.”

Jungkook burst out laughing.

“You should try it sometime,” Taehyung said, eyes twinkling.

“I have. It hurt like fuck. I hated it.”

“Your partner was doing it wrong.”

“Believe me, I could tell.”

“Ever had sex with women?”

“Nah. I’ve only ever been interested in a few people and they’ve all been men.”

“Interesting. Good to know. I like it how you never used the word ‘gay’ to describe your clearly homosexual orientation. I feel like there’s something significant about that.”

“Stop being a fucking psychologist. I just don’t think about it very much. Yeah, ok. I’m gay. I like watching men fuck each other on the internet. I’d love to have a boyfriend.” He paused. “Actually I’d love to have a girlfriend too. I wouldn’t have sex with her, I just like the concept of being with someone.”

“So weird,” Taehyung murmured, shaking his head.

Jungkook shrugged. “Everyone else is on board. You’re the weird one.”

The walk back was long and hot, and Jungkook still felt sticky from the ultimate game. Even Taehyung seemed a little subdued, bouncing along beside him, only stopping to poke through one trash can with a stick, eyes picking out shapes in the clouds that Jungkook couldn’t find.

At Jungkook’s door Taehyung said goodbye by pinning him to a wall and nuzzling roughly into him like a cat. Jungkook whined and tried to scramble out of the way, but Taehyung held on tight and giggled. “See you later, Kookie. I’m serious about you hanging out with my friends, by the way. We’ll come find you. Enjoy Halo!” He skipped away down the hall with a last grin back at him.

Taehyung walked right back in through the unlocked door ten minutes later to find Jungkook lying shirtless on the couch, staring at the ceiling. “Left my bag,” he said to Jungkook’s bewildered face. “Nice abs.” He leaned down over the back of the couch and gently bit his stomach. An uncomfortable electric feeling laced straight down into his cock. Jungkook yelped and flailed. Taehyung giggled and let go, then quickly kissed the crown of his head and ran out.

Jungkook went to be bed early, drunk, and dizzyingly confused.

 

August ended and Jungkook turned nineteen to very little fanfare. Namjoon gave him a few bottles of liquor. His mom gave him a huge load of groceries and cleaning products, and then let him fix her a drink. They stayed up late talking in his living room.

“You should get a girlfriend to move in with you, help out, and keep you company around here. This place is big enough for two,” she said, “I wish you were back home to help me. That place fit three people easily, and it feels a bit luxurious for just me.”

“Boyfriend.”

“What?”

“I should get a boyfriend.”

She blinked a couple times. “Spell this out for me, dear.”

“I’m gay.”

He let her digest that for a minute and calmly sipped his own drink.

“Really?” she asked.

“Yeah.”

“Since when?”

“I came out of the closet after graduation.”

“Never would have called that,” she said, shaking her head. “And you didn’t tell me. I’m hurt. Why not?”

“It didn’t come up till now. It wasn’t like I didn’t want you to know, or anything. It’s just something I don’t talk about very often.”

She raised her drink slowly to her lips and didn’t put it down for a while.

“You ok there? You look a little upset.”

“I worry about you, honey. Being gay is hard, I think. I guess I wouldn’t know. I just want your life to be easier than mine. And I wish you would have told me while I still had you in the house.”

Jungkook put down his drink and scooted over to hug her. “Sorry. Didn’t think it mattered that much. I’m sorry I worry you.”

“It’s my job to worry about you.”

They sat quietly in the dim living for a few minutes, just hugging, till mom whined “Are you gonna adopt? I was hoping for grandkids.”

Jungkook laughed. “I’m eighteen, mom. I mean nineteen. I don’t even have a boyfriend yet. I have no idea. Ask me that in, like, eight years.”

“Have you ever had a boyfriend.”

He shook his head.

“My little Jungy’s still a virgin?” she asked, giggling.

He flinched a little. “That’s such an uncomfortable question coming from you, Mom,” he said, hiding behind his drink. “And no, I’m not.”

“Jungy! Be safe!” She started smacking him with a throw pillow and he had to put his drink down fast and run away.

“Work tomorrow,” she said an hour later, hovering by the door. She was still wearing her Macy’s manager uniform with her purse. “I’ve got a new girl working in the children’s department who doesn’t know how to do anything yet, so I’ll be policing that all day tomorrow. Are you happy, Kookie?”

He shrugged. “I’m not unhappy, really. I’m managing. The bar is awesome.”

She gave him a sympathetic grimace.

“Honestly, Mom, I think you have it worse than I do right now, and you’re still helping pay for my rent, so relax a bit. Someday soon I’ll be helping you with rent instead.” She gave him a hug, and he hugged back and rested his chin on the top of her head like she used to do. She’d gotten so much smaller than him. He felt like Frankenstein’s monster.

“I need a boyfriend to help out too,” she muttered, “A real one. Not your deadbeat father.”

“I have this friend named Namjoon I could hook you up with. He’s a bouncer at the bar I work at, so if you don’t mind tattoos…”

“And how old is he?”

“He turns twenty-two in a couple weeks.”

She snorted and whacked him. “Children. All of you. I’m going to go sleep now. I’ll see you soon, dear.”

 

The next time Jungkook saw Taehyung past frustratingly brief conversation in the hallways was when he walked in the door of The Bar Bar with several other friends in tow a couple weeks later. Yoongi was one of them, but he didn’t think he’d seen any of the others there before.

“Sex on the Beach, please,” Taehyung said, and Jungkook had missed that smile.

“I’m working tonight, babe. How about this weekend?”

One of Taehyung’s friend’s right behind him burst into loud, boisterous laughter.

“Jimin,” Taehyung said with a lazy wave of his hand. “Animation major.”

Taehyung had his hair styled half up off his forehead, purple grey in the half-light, and he looked too good for Jungkook’s health, intimidatingly beautiful and older, but his friend Jimin looked even better in a tank top and skinny jeans. He looked real good bending over the pool table with that perfect ass, tousled brown hair hanging in his face. When he picked Taehyung up and carried him off while he was trying to make a shot, his arms bulged like a bronze statue. Jungkook felt his eye drawn to him whenever he moved. He poured drinks and tried not to stare, especially when Taehyung wrapped his arms around him from behind and leaned close, pink lips brushing against his ear, and Jimin listened with hooded eyes and a half smirk.

“Cute, ain’t he?” Yoongi said, motioning to Jimin.

“How does anyone have an ass that nice?”
Yoongi smirked slowly, looking between Jimin and Jungkook.

“What’s your major?” Jungkook asked, hoping to distract him.

“Getting a Masters in photography. Would you like to meet him? I can bring him over here.”

“Do you always try to pawn off your drunk friends on the bartender? I met him. Taehyung introduced me.”

“Yeah but did you talk to him? Get to know him a little? Maybe get his number?”

“I’m not really…um,” Jungkook said quietly, watching the way Taehyung and Jimin started grinding on the dance floor. Yoongi looked a little disappointed. Jimin moved like smoke, every shift silky and fluid. Taehyung looked a little like a rubber ball beside him, drunkenly trying to nae nae and failing horribly. “Is he a dancer?”

Yoongi’s smirk came back. “Yup. You know what? I’m going to get him to come get a drink from you.”

“Who else would he go to?” Jungkook said, not really paying attention.

Not ten minutes later he turned around to see Jimin waving to get his attention.

“Yeah?”

“Make me something with whiskey?”

Jungkook laughed. “You’re getting the most expensive thing I can make with whiskey.”

“No, don’t do that,” Jimin said, looking flustered.

“Don’t tell him our tactics!” Victoria yelled on her way past with a large bowl of chips.

Jungkook made him a mint julep. Jimin took a sip, plush lips soft against the glass, and then leaned close over the counter. “Taehyung says you’re his neighbor.”

“Yup. I think I live on the floor below him.”

“Cool, cool. I’m there all the time.”

“Yeah, me too,” Jungkook said, and then felt very awkward when Jimin snorted.

“Are you in school or are you from Savannah?” Jimin asked.

“I’m from here. Just graduated high school.”

“Whoa, shit dude.”

Jungkook moved quickly past that. “You’re an animation major?”

“Yeah! I wanna work for Pixar. Stretch goals. I’ll settle for anything, really, I just love doing it. I’m pretty good, though. I think I’ll make it.” His eyes looked adorably sleepy.

“Awesome! I’ll just be here for the foreseeable future.”

“Not a bad place. How often do you work here?”

“Most nights.”

“Well,” Jimin took another sip of his drink, “I guess I’ll be coming here a lot more often then.”

Jungkook couldn’t help but smile.

Jimin kept coming back over the next hour, sometimes to use drinks as an excuse to chat, sometimes to just sit down on a stool and flirt. He kept having to get up to go grab Taehyung, who was always there over Jimin’s shoulder, jumping up onto his other friends, rolling around on the pool table, trying to climb one of the central brick pillars, and generally almost getting thrown out every ten minutes. The bouncer was Namjoon, though, so he got away with the stunt he pulled with the pool cues, and even stripping on the dance floor.

Jimin laughed, jumped off his bar stool, and ran over to pull Taehyung’s shirt back down over his head. Taehyung immediately snuggled in close to him, hips rocking against Jimin’s, and slid his hands up under his shirt. Jungkook was startled by the sudden wave of jealousy that hit him. Jimin caught Taehyung’s arms and he froze. Jimin said something. Taehyung’s eyes slid right over to Jungkook behind the bar and he got a conspiratorial look on his face and pulled his hands out from under Jimin’s shirt, nodding. Jungkook went back to mixing drinks, frustrated and confused.

When Jimin next came up to the bar, Jungkook came clean a little. “Bro, I really appreciate this, but I don’t get off work till 4 a.m., and then I have to go straight home and sleep, so you won’t be getting anything out me tonight.”

Jimin sighed, “Damn. I’ll be around though, ok?”

Jimin stepped off, and then went straight back to dancing with Taehyung, pulling his hips right back against his crotch. Taehyung’s head flopped right back onto Jimin’s shoulder, smiling lips back at his ear. His hand ran up into Jimin’s hair and Jungkook’s stomach felt a little tight.

“You let him get away?” Yoongi squawked from across the bar.

“I can’t do anything tonight. I have to get up early tomorrow.”

“So you make an excuse and leave work! I’d do fuckin anything to get in those jeans. You have wasted your opportunity.”

Jungkook snorted. “You go flirt with him then.”

Yoongi shook his head. “Nah. Jimin’s too promiscuous. I woudn’t be able to cope with that. Taehyung gets to him sometimes. They’re going to be all up on each other for the rest of the night. I don’t mind watching that either, though.”

“Are they, like, a thing?”

“Just friends with benefits, I think. Don’t worry. Dat ass is still a perfectly viable option for you.”

Even without alcohol, Jungkook felt a little buzzed just looking out on the floor. Jimin’s skin had begun to shine from sweat in the colorful lights. Taehyung’s eyes closed where his head lolled on Jimin’s shoulder, hips swinging along to Jimin’s obscenely graceful grinding. Taehyung didn’t see Jimin look right over his head at Jungkook, eyes hooded, one hand very clearly dipping under the edge of Taehyung’s pants. Jungkook had never really wanted to know what it was like to serve drinks while trying to not get hard.

They left around 1:30 am. Jimin set his glass down on the counter before they went, then took Taehyung’s empty bottle out from where his lips were wrapped gorgeously around it and put that down too. He gave Jungkook one last long once-over and a beautiful smirk, even with his arm still wrapped tightly around Taehyung’s waist, pressing him in against himself.

The last thing Jungkook saw as they waited for Yoongi by the door, was Jimin pressing his lips almost casually to Taehyung’s, and the way Taehyung slunk even closer into his space, slow and smoldering. Yoongi arrived, and they both glanced heavily at Jungkook before following him out the door, and if that didn’t shock him right down to his dick.

Near 5 am, Jungkook fell asleep annoyingly half-hard, Taehyung’s and Jimin’s lips still sliding together in his mind.

 

Namjoon, of all people, walked right into Jungkook’s miserable shift at the Bee Company the next day in the early afternoon.

“Namjoon, what are you doing here?”

“Yoongi’s crowd wanted to see you.”

“What?”

Taehyung popped out from behind him. “Hey, honey. Fancy BEEting you here.”

“No.”

Jimin appeared at Namjoon’s elbow. “This place is pretty…sweet.”

“Oh god.”

“I see the employees match the merchandise.” He bit his lip and wiggled his eyebrows.

“Can’t BEEt the Bee Company for hot employees. It’s all the buzz. They’re BEEautiful.”

“Taehyung, no.”

“Whatcha gonna do, sting me?”

Jimin said, “I wouldn’t mind getting your stinger in me, if you know what I mean.”

Taehyung cackled. Jungkook felt his face turn tomato red. Namjoon put his head right down on a counter covered in honeycomb-based hand creams.

“We brought friends,” Jimin said. “You know Yoongi.” Yoongi waved, but didn’t look up from the label on a boxed honeycomb. “That there is Hoseok, also animation. Amber is…what are you?”

“Interactive design and game development. Video games and stuff, basically.”

“Cool. Seokjin there is writing. That’s Krystal. She’s illustration, like Taehyung. Taehyung, don’t put that on your face. Really don’t. And Luna does video games with Amber. Everyone is a grad student except for Taehyung and I.”

“Well aren’t you special.”

“We’re the bee’s knees.”

“Don’t make me throw jars of lip balm at you. Don’t make me lose my job.”

He turned to Amber and Luna. “Video game design? Are you serious?”

“Yup.”

“Damn. And you’re girls. That’s awesome.”

“Our major is pretty devoid of girls. It’s kind of depressing.”

Jungkook reflexively wondered if they were gay and then internally smacked himself. Amber was pretty androgynous. Shouldn’t matter.

The crew spread out over the store, leaving Jungkook to Jimin. He wore bright red skinny jeans that hugged his thighs almost magnetically. Jungkook had trouble not looking down. “When do you get off work?” he asked.

“About twenty minutes.”

Jimin smiled. Taehyung appeared out of nowhere and yelled, “Dude! Look at these honey straws!” right in Jimin’s ear. “Look! Its sealed straws full of honey and you pop the end and mix it into your tea!”

“Or you just eat them,” Jungkook said. Taehyung immediately popped one open and stuck it in his mouth, sucking gently, lips puckered around it. He moaned quietly, eyebrows drawing together.

“Hun,” Jimin said. “Not in public.”

“That was not a sample. You’re buying that entire pack,” Jungkook said.

“I’m ok with that. We need to go to the Coffee Fox right now so I can try one of these with tea.”

“Just how many fox themed coffee shops are there?”

“I think Foxy Loxy and the Coffee Fox are run by the same people. They’re going for the same boho aesthetic. (“boho aesthetic,” Jungkook snorted.) You’ve been to both, right?” Jimin asked.

“I went to Foxy Loxy with Taehyung a couple weeks ago.”

“Dude. The Coffee Fox is right next door.”

“When I want coffee I go to Starbucks where I know how to order.”

Jimin fainted dramatically into Taehyung’s arms.

“Kookie! You’ve killed him! Did you sting him? God dammit, what if he’s allergic to bees?”

“Go drink your hipster coffee. I’ll meet you there in twenty minutes.”

The summer was still so hot that all the stores on Broughton had their doors closed instead of open and welcoming, trapping the air conditioning inside and turning every building into a refrigerator, which meant Jungkook came to work in long pants every day and kept a sweater in the back, just in case. And when he stepped out onto the blazing afternoon cement shortly after 2:00, finally free to yank his beanie down over his hair, it felt more like sinking into a hot bath than stepping into a frying pan. He stood there on the doorstep to the Bee Company and stared at the fluffy clouds drifting quickly over the old time-period patchwork buildings, a faded Disney World Main Street kind of place.

The clouds passed, sunlight poured burning down onto the street, and Jungkook felt his body heat up like he was standing over a stove. He hurried, already sweating, into the Coffee Fox.

“What can I get for you,” asked a woman with buzzed blonde and blue hair and huge black glasses.

“Uuuuh, if I give you my Starbucks order, can you give me something really similar to that.”

“mmmNo.”

“Give him a Mexican Mocha,” Taehyung said from right beside him, then shoved an opened honey straw in between Jungkook’s lips and hung off his shoulder.

“Got it. Anything else for you, Taehyung?”

“Can I have another cup of hot water and chamomile tea, please?”

“Sure thing.”

Jungkook tried to hand over his card, but Taehyung slapped his hand away and paid for both of them. “Her name is Ellis. She’s a junior sculpture major. We lived down the hall from each other last year.”

When they returned to the group crammed into a back table along the wall with their drinks in hand, there was only one small seat left next to Jimin on the bench. Taehyung pushed him in tightly against Jimin’s side and then sat sideways on his lap, easy as anything, legs stretched out and tangled with Jimin’s. Across the table, Luna openly snorted at them. Yoongi gave Taehyung a weird look.

As a bartender, Jungkook’s automatic response to awkward situations was usually to pick up the nearest glass and start drinking, just to give him something cool to do. Unfortunately, his mocha was still entirely too hot, so he settled for grabbing Jimin’s iced latte.

Jimin just grinned.

“Sorry,” Jungkook said, and pointed at Taehyung. “It’s hot under here.”

“I get it. Lots of hot gas.”

“Lots of hot ass,” Taehyung muttered, thoughtfully stirring his tea with a honey stick.

Jimin snorted. Jungkook felt him hook one ankle around his under the table.

Well. Two hot guys smothering him. Jungkook supposed he’d had worse days.

“Are there peppers in this?” he asked when he finally tasted the mocha.

“Habanero,” Taehyung said. “That’s, like, my favorite thing here.”

“You’re, like, my favorite thing here,” Jimin said. Taehyung patted his cheek with a grin, then went back to slowly sipping his tea.

“You are super calm in coffee shops,” Jungkook said.

“They’re my happy place.”

Jungkook wordlessly wrapped an arm around Taehyung’s back and squeezed a little. His other hand rested gently around Jimin’s arm where he’d slung it across Taehyung’s thighs. Luna took interest in him from across the table. “You just graduated high school, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Aw. Little guy.”

“Well I wouldn’t say that,” Taehyung said, rocking his hips hard on Jungkook’s lap, sliding over his dick, which would have felt nice if Taehyung had weighed under twenty pounds.

“Ow! Fuck!” Jungkook knocked him off his lap and Luna cracked up.

“So I’m curious. And I’m assuming you’re gay. All evidence suggests it,” she motioned to Jimin, who had just rested his head on Jungkook’s shoulder. Jimin’s fingers caressed his stomach and Jungkook breathed deeply, fighting the urge to close his eyes and enjoy it. Taehyung slid back onto his lap. “We were talking about high school this morning, and Taehyung here was making the argument that being gay in high school sucks everywhere, but Savannah is a pretty accepting community, so I was wondering it was any different.”

“I wouldn’t know. I didn’t tell anyone.”

“Oh.”

“It just made things easier if people thought I liked girls. I’m gonna side with Taehyung on this.”

“Oh yeah, I agree, I was just wondering if it was better here.”

“You’re forgetting we’re still in the south, and Savannah may be accepting, but that’s mostly SCAD, which doesn’t matter much in high school. It’s probably a lot better here than some places, but its still worse than others.”

“So enough about being slowly tortured to death in a land of idiocy,” Taehyung said, “What are we going to do for the rest of the day?”

“Wow. You really hated high school,” Jungkook said.

“Oh you’re a smart one.”

“It’s too late for the beach,” Hoseok said, “not that half of us would go there anyway,” he nudged the grumpy Yoongi, “And too early for the bar.”

“Aren’t you the expert on having fun here?” Jungkook asked Taehyung. “What do you suggest?”

“Let’s all go get drunk in the bartender’s apartment!”

“Wait, what?”

“Pre-game the bar! Let’s go!”

“Haven’t finished my coffee,” Jungkook said.

“You’re in Savannah, right? It’s not St. Patrick’s Day, but make that coffee Irish.”

“You’re ok with this, right?” Namjoon asked on their way out the door.

“Yeah, sure. I don’t mind. It’s clean and I’m not hiding—ow, the fuck?”

Someone had just shoved Jimin into Jungkook. Jimin casually wrapped an arm around his waist. “Hey, girl. Come here often?”

“Nope. Never.”

“Will you take me home with you?”

A hypothetical question, surely, since they walked in the door only ten minutes later. His apartment was unused to so many people, and he slunk into the kitchen, listening to the loud voices crowding the small living room. The college kids seemed perfectly comfortable fitting too many people in a dorm-sized space.

“Drinks?” he asked, and got nine orders at once. He made something for everyone and then started up a Smash Bros tournament to keep them busy.

Taehyung was abysmal. He couldn’t even key smash effectively. He died first in every single round and didn’t even care. He’d spend the rest of the games trying to mess everyone else up.

Jimin was good. He and Jungkook could go toe-to-toe with their favorite characters. The game design girls smashed both of them into the dirt, while having a calm discussion on algorithms in the game mechanics.

After they’d both been defeated, they watched Luna and Amber kick each other’s asses as Taehyung threw Cheetos into their hair. Jimin ran a hand very purposefully up the inside of Jungkook’s thigh, pausing near the top and just tapping his finger there. Jungkook realized he had to decide what he wanted with Jimin soon. He’d never been the type for casual sex, too much of a romantic to handle that. He decided he wanted another drink.

When he came back, Taehyung had taken a seat on Jimin’s lap and was whispering into his ear. He moved his feet so Jungkook could sit down, and then threw them back onto his lap, but never moved away from the side of Jimin’s head. At some point they moved on to Mario Kart and someone ordered pizza for dinner.

How did Taehyung look so good putting anything in his mouth? It was a fucking slice of pizza, for god’s sakes. It made his lips look good in the way lacy thigh-highs made nice legs look good.

The conversation turned to literary theory, Namjoon debating with Seokjin, the graduate writing student. Jungkook had a hard time listening with Jimin tracing the inner seam of his jeans with his fingernail. He had just enough presence of mind to be impressed that Seokjin could keep up, even with his education. Namjoon had tattoos of Da Vinci’s sketches up one arm and an increasing collection of famous literary quotes up the other. Krystal the illustration major kept up as well. Jungkook could count on no hands how many times he’d had a serious conversation about an ancient Greek scholar outside of a classroom. By the looks on everyone else’s faces, they were about as lost as he was.

Taehyung didn’t look lost. He was carefully tying Amber’s shoes together. She shifted her feet to give him a better angle. Yoongi made everyone who was not part of the conversation another round of drinks and then they all gave a silent toast over a debate about the value of Aristotle. The alcohol made Jungkook’s head heavy. He dropped it on Jimin’s shoulder.

“You’ve had sex before, right?” Jimin asked, quietly.

Jungkook snorted. “Yeah.”

“Casual sex?”

“Yeah, I’ve done that.”

“Cool.”

Jimin let the topic drop, and Jungkook looked suspiciously up at his impassive face. The side of his hand lay right against Jungkook’s crotch, absolutely still, but his thumb still traced small circles against the inside of Jungkook’s thigh. He shivered a little.

Taehyung threw his butt right down onto Jungkook’s lap and jammed Jimin’s hand hard into his balls. He made a loud gasping-choking noise and flailed. Jimin yanked his hand away and Taehyung giggled and bounced up and down while they both recovered.

“What the fuck just happened over there?” Yoongi asked.

“Guys, stop tormenting the kid.”

“Taehyung and Jimin are bigger kids than Jungkook is,” Namjoon muttered, coming admirably to Jungkook’s defense.

“My dick,” Jungkook squeaked.

“I’m cutting in,” Taehyung said, looping an arm around Jungkook’s neck. “That ok with you, doll-face?”

“Fuck. My dick. Ow. Hurts.”

“It’s like watching puppies trying to fight and tripping over their paws,” Luna said.

“I smell a threesome,” Seokjin agreed.

“Would you let me kiss it better?”

“Off. Off.”

Taehyung shifted unsympathetically further down his thighs. Jungkook picked him up, turned around, and dropped him on Jimin, and then stalked off to the kitchen. Jimin turned around of the couch and shouted, “Are you ok? Will you live?” after him.

“No! I need more alcohol.”

Taehyung fell off Jimin and onto the floor, giggling.

Namjoon, considerably more taken with the whole group than he had been before Seokjin had matched him in a literary debate, decided it was time to head to the bar.

“You should get a degree in literature,” Seokjin told him, “or philosophy. Become a professor or some shit.”

Namjoon smiled thoughtfully and shook his head. “I’ve never thought of myself as college material. I’m one of those smart, no-money, no-motivation, too-cynical-about-the-system-to-willingly-enter-it kind of guys.”

Jungkook supposed that was the nicest way Namjoon could say that he loudly mocked college students for buying into a failing system and dumping money into degrees with decreasing chances of returns. SCAD students, in his opinion, had the most self-assured attitudes and the bleakest futures. Namjoon had decided to take his chances in “the real world,” halfway through high school, and had never given college a second thought. Jungkook privately thought it was a shame. He’d have killed for the money to go to college or the brains to get a scholarship, like Namjoon.

Meanwhile, Hoseok and Luna struggled to get Amber’s shoes laced correctly again, and Taehyung certainly wasn’t helping. Jungkook, still miffed on behalf of his recovering dick, stuck close to Jimin’s side, going so far as to pull Jimin between himself and Taehyung.

Taehyung took no offense, though Jungkook wished he would. He danced like an elf around Amber, squawked like a pterodactyl at tourists, and then he climbed onto Hoseok’s back and rode him down the street, both of them shrieking. He tried to steer and Hoseok grabbed a light post to keep from falling. When Taehyung latched onto Namjoon’s side outside the door of the bar, Jungkook felt an uncomfortable twinge of jealousy. He slid a light hand over Jimin’s lower back to distract himself, right where it curved smoothly into his ass. Jimin smiled and shifted close to Jungkook’s side, an arm over his neck.

Jungkook caught Taehyung staring like an alligator above the water over Namjoon’s shoulder.

Jungkook didn’t even think anything of it when he walked into the bar without getting ID’d on the way in. Presumably they’d missed him in the ten-person rush of scaddies, most of them fairly frequent visitors. Lucky. He’d never been to this place, though. Jimin bought him a drink and pulled him onto the floor, all that smoky grace turning under his hands, making his head reel.

It was one cocktail further than he probably should have gone. Soon the bar was a deep haze of bright colors and shadowy faces. He put his drink down on a random table and left it there, hoping he wouldn’t get any more drunk before he got better. His motor function was still mostly fine, as was his balance, and he was sober enough to know he should stop drinking, so he let Jimin pull him to the center of the dance floor and line up against his back.

He closed his eyes and focused on Jimin rocking against his ass. Who had the last person he’d hooked up with been? Zitao from high school, maybe, who was super bad at topping. Years ago. The half-hard dick at his back felt so good he almost felt himself moan.

Another hot, heavy weight pressed up close against his front. Jungkook couldn’t be bothered to stop dancing because now there were hips grinding against his dick too. And these pants definitely hurt. Way too tight. Why the hell did he wear skinny jeans? Oh shit, was he still wearing his work uniform? Was he really out at a bar wearing a Savannah Bee Company t-shirt? He could not afford to get fired. He’d only just started paying another quarter of the rent.

He opened his eyes. The person attached to his front was Taehyung, arguing with Jimin over his shoulder. Or maybe making out? He turned a little awkwardly to look. Maybe both? Taehyung grabbed Jimin’s hair and forced him into a tight lip-lock. Jimin’s hands tightened on Jungkook’s sides, the dick against his ass became much more pronounced. Jungkook moaned out loud and both boys turned to look at him, lips slick and wet, cheeks red.

“Not a gay bar!” Someone right beside them yelled, and then slammed into them. The dance floor burst apart. Jimin was still on his feet, Taehyung somewhere on the floor, and Jungkook was trying to stand up, when someone grabbed his arm painfully hard and forced him upright. “No fuckin way this fag’s twenty-one. Someone get the bouncer over—”

Jungkook punched him hard in the face, then overbalanced and fell over. He stood up, using a bar stool for help. That guy shrieking on the floor with blood spouting out his nose probably had friends. He needed to leave.

The crowded dance floor was good cover. He made it all the way out the door and half a block down the street before he felt a hand on his arm.

He turned around fast, arm flailing, and smacked Taehyung square in the jaw. Taehyung gasped and sat down on the sidewalk.

“Fuck! Oh shit! I’m so sorry. I thought you were one of that fucker’s friends coming after me. Shit. Are you ok?” He knelt down beside him and pulled his hand gently away from his face, cradling his other cheek.

Taehyung stared up at him with wide eyes. “Ow. You’ve got an arm on you.”

“Yeah, two of them. Please stand up. We have to go. It’s not safe.”

“Chill. That place is crazy. We’ll be fine.”

Taehyung stood, his hands still on his face, jaw working.

“If I had been one of his friends, I think you’d be fine right now. My face hurts,” he said, pulling out his phone. “I’m texting Yoongi and telling him we’re heading back to the apartment. Night’s over.”

When he didn’t move fast enough, Jungkook grabbed him by the arm and steered him along as he texted. To their left was a square dark with oaks and street lights that didn’t illuminate anything but a few leaves around them, no one in sight, all quiet churches and dark businesses. Jungkook didn’t feel safe.

“Sorry about that,” Taehyung said, eyes still glued to his phone. “Maybe I shouldn’t have, I don’t know, made a scene back there, or something.”

“Taehyung, all you do is make scenes. Don’t blame yourself for this one. For the record, I’m sorry I agreed to come out to the bar when I don’t have a fake and put everyone’s evenings at risk.”

Taehyung slid his phone in his pocket and kept pace with Jungkook, glancing back every few feet.

“Shit,” he said, “Do you think Jimin’s ok?”

“Namjoon’s there,” Jungkook said, “I’ve seen him overpower two giant trucker types at once before. He’s a smart fighter. Jimin’ll be fine.”

“Can we slow down? No one’s following us. You’re kind of freaking out.”

“I wanna get home—” He tripped and fell flat on his face.

“Jungkook? Oh my god, Jungkook, please get up. Please don’t have just knocked yourself out.”

“I’m ok,” Jungkook muttered, muffled against the sidewalk, “Just gonna chill down here and nurse my ego for a bit.”

“Sounds fun. I’ll join you.” Taehyung lay down beside him, cuddled up with his head on his back, pressed tight to his side, one arm slung over his lower back, joining the weight of alcohol in his core.

“Comfortable?” Jungkook asked as he felt Taehyung tangle one leg in between his.

“Yeah. You?”

Jungkook took stock. The ground was warm and hard, and it stung. Taehyung was warmer, but soft, all t-shirt material and soft skin with a little give, not to heavy. One of his knees burned. His hands and one of his forearms burned. His chin and one toe hurt. The alcohol made it easy for him to close his eyes and let his weight sink closer to the asphalt, all muscles relaxing. “Hell yeah. Super comfy.”

Taehyung giggled, shoved a head under one of his shoulders, and rolled him limply onto his back so he could curl across his front.

He looked down towards Taehyung and found his face inches away, his hair falling sideways off his forehead, ugly yellow-grey in the streetlights. He was silent, one lip between his teeth, eyes wide and flickering between Jungkook’s. His fingers traced slowly up the side of his neck. Jungkook pulled him up closer by the shoulders and pressed his mouth gently to Taehyung’s soft bottom lip. It was every bit at delectably soft as he’d imagined. Taehyung gasped, tensing and clutching, and Jungkook brought his other arm over, the stinging one, and pulled him right on top of himself. Taehyung moaned quietly and licked gently down between his lips.

Jungkook felt a knee between his thighs, one bony hip against his crotch, and pulled his knees up to press his leg against Taehyung’s ass, who moaned quick and quiet, cut off and ignored.

“How’d you get so pretty, kid?” Taehyung asked, and Jungkook snorted.

“Don’t call me that, sweetheart.”

Taehyung hips twitched and he sucked a heavy breath in past his teeth. Jungkook sat up quickly, got his arms under Taehyung’s legs, and stood up. Taehyung’s legs squeezed around his sides. “Fuck.”

“You like being carried around, babe?” His arms threatened to start shaking, though, so he pressed Taehyung up against a brick wall and sucked roughly at his throat.

Taehyung bucked against him, arms tight and painful around his neck. “Take me home, Kookie. I wanna get your dick down my throat.”

 

Halfway though getting his soul sucked out through his dick Jungkook had a moment of clarity as Taehyung took a break to drink water. First, he realized that he was sobering up a bit, which was a relief. Second was that he’d been flirting with Jimin all day, but it wasn’t Jimin down there sucking on him like he needed his cum to survive.

He muttered, “Jimin,” distractedly, just as Taehyung deep-throated him again. Terrible timing. Taehyung froze, then pulled off immediately.

“Did you just fucking call me Jimin?”

Jungkook snickered. “No, actually. I just remembered that he existed, and that having you sucking me off on my couch is kind of a plot twist after flirting with him all day.”

Taehyung giggled. “He’s gonna be so pissed at me. He should have known I was going to win, though. I never lose this shit.”

“Never lose…what?”

“Later,” Taehyung promised, and then went back to swallowing down his dick tongue working hot along the underside. Jungkook was ok with later.

Later meant thirty minutes later, in his bed, with Taehyung kneeling over him thrusting two fingers into his own ass, and Jungkook’s hands were tied to the headboard.

“I fucking win. Jimin and I came up with a contest in the Coffee Fox before you got there. Whoever gets your dick in their ass first wins.”

What?

“I win,” Taehyung said, and sat down on Jungkook’s oversensitive dick in one fast slide. Jungkook back locked up, arms yanking at the headboard. He choked. When he could finally open his eyes and bend his neck to look, Taehyung was hunched over on his chest, whimpering, long high whines punctuated with sobs. Jungkook badly wanted to reach down and run a hand through his hair, or pull his face up so he could see it, kiss him till his stopped crying. He yanked at the restraints on his wrists.

“Taehyung, baby, look at me.”

Taehyung slowly brought his head up, eyes tight and leaking tears, mouth set in a rectangular grimace. He choked out another sob and wiped his wet face off on Jungkook’s chest, who groaned.

“Dude, gross. Fuck. Are you okay?”

“Hurts. Shouldn’t have…done that. I’ll be okay. Just give me a minute. Didn’t prep enough.”

“For the love of all that is good and holy, please untie me.”

“Can’t reach. Wait a minute? I really don’t think I can move right now.”

“Ok. It’s ok, Taehyung. Just. Take care of yourself, ok?”

“Yeah. I do that to my dildo all the time, but I think you’re bigger.”

And now Jungkook was imagining Taehyung fucking himself hard and fast on a dildo. His dick twitched. “Fuck.”

Taehyung pushed himself upright, all his weight heavy on Jungkook’s chest. He wiggled his hips in tiny circles and made a sound that could have been either from pain or pleasure. Jungkook tensed up, mouth falling open.

“Baby, don’t hurt yourself.”

Taehyung gritted out, “I like it when it hurts,” and dragged his body slowly upwards, shaking. “Next time you’re gonna fuck me so hard I can’t move.”

Jungkook worried he would slam himself back down again, but he slid on nice and easy, bottoming out with a blissed expression, his head tipped back towards the ceiling. The heat was delicious. Taehyung cackled a little maniacally, tears still running down his face. “There it is,” he said, and finally started moving faster. Jungkook groaned and gripped the restraints on his hands, his eyes closed.

“You want me to untie those?” Taehyung said, voice low and raw.

“Don’t fucking stop.”

He giggled and bounced faster, abs tense, thighs working. Jungkook braced his feet against the sheets and started thrusting up to meet him. Taehyung spine arched. His moans sounded strangled, his beautiful lips red against his open mouth. His tears had smeared black down his cheeks. He made the most beautiful desperate throaty noises and Jungkook wanted to hear them drawn out and loud.

“I changed my mind. Untie me.”

“Don’t want to. Not done,” Taehyung gasped, shifting back a little and then thrashing and grinding, frantically crying out. Jungkook stopped cooperating, stilling his hips on the bed. Taehyung just growled, swore, and started doing all the work again, now that he knew how to get to his prostate.

“Fuck! Just untie me!”

“Can’t...stop…Nearly…there.”

“Taehyung!” He thrust brutally back up into him. Taehyung’s body stilled and he just sat there above him and took it, panting and grabbing Jungkook’s knees behind him for something to hang onto.

“Please touch me,” he begged.

“I’m fucking tied up, bitch!”

Taehyung eyes shot open. He gave a high bark of laughter, and then came messily all over Jungkook’s stomach. He flopped into it.

“Taehyung, oh gross. Now we’re both nasty.”

Taehyung hummed contentedly.

“Untie me, you fucker. Untie me right now so I can fucking get off.”

“I already got you off once this evening.”

Jungkook ground his hard-on deep into Taehyung, who gave a tiny moan and bit Jungkook’s ear. Jungkook nearly cried from frustration. “This isn’t fucking fair. Taehyung, untie me, please, so I can deal with this myself since you’re not going to do it.”

“Who says I’m not going to do it?”

“Then fucking untie me!”

Taehyung reached one hand leisurely up, felt around, and then very slowly tugged the knots loose. He had barely a second of warning as Jungkook tensed under him before he’d flipped them both over and started thrusting powerfully, taking full advantage of how far he could push Taehyung’s legs back to get in deep and hard.

And if Jungkook had thought Taehyung looked beautiful riding his dick, it was nothing to the way he arched against the mattress, eyes shut tight and lips hanging open, sweating and writhing with oversensitivity, his hair splayed out off his forehead, just taking it. His cheek was still swollen where Jungkook had accidentally slapped him, and he moaned shamelessly when Jungkook bent down to kiss it.

Jungkook came watching that under him, Taehyung’s nose scrunched and his eyes squeezed tight, twitching and keening through clenched teeth, skin shining with sweat. He pulled out and cleaned up, throwing out his condom. Taehyung blinked sleepily up at him as he walked back to bed.

“Did not think you had that in you,” he murmured. “I thought you’d be, like, painfully vanilla.”

Jungkook didn’t know if he should be insulted or not. “I like watching people enjoy themselves. Whatever you’re into is ok with me.”

“I loved it when you called me a bitch. Will you hit me and call me a whore next time?”

“…No.”

“Would you come out to a horse barn with me and have pony sex?”

“Hell fucking no. That is so illegal, and so morally questionable on so many levels, and it sounds about as fun as living inside a horror movie.”

Taehyung giggled. “It would fucking hurt too.”

“Aaaaaaa-I don’t want to think about this anymore. Here’s something I do want to think about. You and Jimin having a contest over my dick like you assume I’ll be totally up for it.”

“You were. You just had sex with me. You would have had sex with Jimin.”

“Fine. Okay. Yes. Luckily for you, I was.”

“We would have given up if you weren’t up for it. Might have taken a couple weeks, but we would have. We know the rules. It’s not like we haven’t done this before.”

“What? You do it to other people? How fucking often do you do this?”

“A lot.”

Jungkook went to the bathroom to take a piss and think about things. Flattering, sure, but he’d never seriously considered having no-string-attached sex with anyone until just that day, and now he had, and he felt a little set up, a little used, like half of Jimin’s and Taehyung’s attraction towards him might’ve just been competition while Jungkook naively went along with whatever because he didn’t want to act like the baby of the group.

When he came back to bed, Taehyung shuffled his back into Jungkook’s chest, fit their hips together, and pulled Jungkook’s arm over his body. Jungkook struggled with the other arm.

“Never spooned before?” Taehyung asked, the smirk obvious in his tone.

Jungkook gritted his teeth. “I have. It was awkward. Don’t remember what I did.”

“Put it under the pillow under my head.”

“Kay.”

There were several beats of silence while Jungkook shuffled minutely, trying to get comfortable.

“Are you mad at me?” Taehyung asked sleepily.

He sighed. “A little. I’ll get over it.”

“I wanna do this again. A lot.”

“Okay,” Jungkook said, even though he felt a prickle of unease, and pressed a soft kiss right under Taehyung’s hair at the top of his neck, barely giving a thought to how domestic that was. He drifted off to sleep, unaware of Taehyung lying abruptly wide awake with his eyes open in front of him.

 

Jimin got over it fairly quickly. He showed up in the apartment and smacked Taehyung with a pillow a few times while Jungkook flushed red and hid behind his Snapchat feed for a little while. Nothing interesting. Kris Wu at a college party getting turnt, Zitao at a college party getting turnt, Baekhyun at a college party getting turnt with Chanyeol, Jess hanging out with friends in the library, singing Disney and tossing snack wrappers at each other. He felt a twinge of loneliness. He watched her story whenever it came up, but it’d been months since she last sent a snap just to him.

His current, very new, very strange friends were currently engaging in a cushion battle over who sat on his dick the night before. Not something he’d ever had to worry about with friends before.

At The Bar Bar that night, Jimin stopped dancing with Taehyung long enough to ask Jungkook out on a date.

“After that shit you two pulled yesterday? I don’t know if Taehyung told you, but I wasn’t ok with that. I’m not sure you’re serious.”

“Fuck. I’m sorry.” He looked adorably distressed, lip pulled into his mouth.

“I’ll go on a date with you.”

His face lit up. “Really?”

“Yeah, but only because I feel bad for fucking Taehyung after I’d been hanging on you all day, so I think we’re even. And you’re cute.”

 

Over a week later, Taehyung came down to Jungkook’s apartment to help him prepare for the date.

“P-prepare? I’m ready, I think. It’s not for another two hours. We’re just eating dinner and then going to watch a movie in the Lucas, and I’m not dressing up for that. I don’t care if there’s real gold in the ceiling. I refuse to dress up for a movie.”

“Jungkook. Sweet, small, adorably inexperienced Jungkook—”

“I will fucking kick you out.”

“—there is more to dressing for dates than ‘fancy,’ or ‘casual.’ That outfit won’t cut it.”

“The fuck? It’s a t-shirt and shorts! I’m gonna wear a cool hat!”

Taehyung snorted. “A cool hat. I’m going to go through your closet again. I already have several ideas in mind.” Taehyung was obviously one of those people who looked through other people’s bathroom cabinets, and since he’d been over in Jungkook’s apartment nearly every day since they’d hooked up, he not only knew which drawer Jungkook kept his socks in, but could also find the strainer in his kitchen faster than he could, and knew exactly how many partly-empty painkiller bottles he kept in his medicine cabinet.

“Have you ever been on a date, Kookie?”

“Yes,” he said, through gritted teeth.

“Mmm, Daddy drove you to prom, did he?” Taehyung said, throwing a pair of pants on the bed, and then the only other pair. Jungkook kept quiet about it being way too hot for long pants.

“Daddy drove me to prom four years in a row with a different girl every time.”

Taehyung whispered, “prom slut,” under his arm.

“It pays to be a sweet, cute, friendly kid. My best friend was a girl.”

“Pretty cute. Ever been on a date with a guy you actually wanted to impress?”

“Yeah. Kind of.”

“And what did you wear?”

“Clothes.”

“Not good enough! This is a date! Dates are about feeling good about yourself! If you want the full experience you dress like you expect someone to have a camera pointed at you! Jimin is going to be staring at your body all evening! Dress like it!” He started pawing through Jungkook’s shirt draw, pulling out each one, unfolding it, staring at it, and then tossing it on the floor. Jungkook flinched as each one hit the ground.

“You’re folding all of those later.”

“Haha, no I’m not. I’m doing you a favor. You’re lucky you have me in your corner because I know Jimin and I know what he likes to see. Would you mind too terribly if I tore massive holes in the knees of your jeans?”

“Taehyung, its so hot.”

“You’re wearing skinny jeans.”

“I only have two pairs. Please do not tear holes in my clothes.”

“I might have to. I’d give you my pants but he’d recognize them.”

“I probably wear a bigger size than you anyway.”

Taehyung glared at him. “We’re the same height.”

“I have more muscle mass.”

“I have. So many muscles. Have you seen my abs? I’m fucking proud of these! Don’t be so mean!”

“Wrestle me right now and see who wins.”

“Oh, baby, maybe later, but you’ve got a date with another man coming up.”

Jungkook put his head in his hands.

“Honestly, Kookie, you act so much like a straight boy I forget you’re gay half the time.”

“Wow. Stereotypes.”

“I love stereotypes. I find them fascinating. They’re a very human form of identification, both of yourself and others. People conform to them almost automatically. Watching people divide up their own worlds with really trivial shit like mannerisms and the stores people shop at is really cool.”

“I thought stereotypes were bad.”

“Sure, they’re bad for people who don’t fit them, or fit into what the majority has decided are ‘bad’ ones. Doesn’t make them any less important to how people find each other in society, or fun to watch. Just look at us. All our friends are fucking Asian and most of us have taken piano lessons. Stereotypes. Now where was I? Jeans. Which pair would you rather I tear holes in?”

“Don’t tear holes in my clothes.”

“That wasn’t your choice. I’m asking which one.” Taehyung’s face was devilish.

“The black ones. They’re not as nice.”

Taehyung murmured, “you are so whipped,” and disappeared into the kitchen. He returned a few minutes later with artfully ripped knees. And thighs. Jungkook fell right down on the floor next to the pile of shirts he’d just folded. “My pants! I can’t wear those in public!”

“You can, you will, and you’ll look fucking hot doing it. I’m not done with you.”

After Taehyung had gone through every shirt Jungkook owned, he had two tanks and a t-shirt sitting on the bed, standing over them critically. “And you’re sure there are no other shirts in this apartment.”

“No, none at all. Oh wait, just my ugly step-shirt locked in the attic, but it couldn’t possibly be her.”

“Was that a Cinderella reference?”

“Yes.”

“That’s adorable. Do you refer to all your shirts as female?”

“What? No! They’re shirts!”

“No more shirts? None at all?”

“You’d know better than me. You’ve dug through this apartment more recently than I have.”

“Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to ask. Why the tampons under the bathroom sink?”

“You should always keep spare pads and tampons in your house. It should be common courtesy. They’re important, like toilet paper and pain killer.”

“Never mind. You are gay.”

“Just because I don’t consider the needs of women as abnormal? I keep tampons in my apartment because my best friend in high school was a girl! How many times do I need to tell you this!”

“All the past tense. Aren’t you friends anymore?”

“No.”

Taehyung seemed to decide that he didn’t want to have serious talk. “Dude, I don’t think this date is gonna go well. Your clothes don’t really fit his aesthetic.”

“Oh my fucking god, I have heard the world ‘aesthetic’ more times in the past two weeks than I have ever heard it in my entire life. Fucking artists. You’re gonna kill me. It’s going to become engrained. I’m going to start fucking using the word ‘aesthetic.’ My high-school-self will be so ashamed.”

“Yeah? Best to leave that shit in the dust anyway.”

“Not all of us hated high school, Taehyung.”

“Wear this t-shirt. It’s the closest we’re gonna get. If only you could wear that one long-sleeve one you have. Or a sweater. A sweater would fix this.”

“It is the first week of September and we’re in Georgia. Jeans are pushing it. Are you going to make me wear real shoes too?”

“Fuck yeah. Luckily, you have black vans, so shoes won’t be a problem. Put all these on. And these briefs. Why do you own Calvin Kleins?”

Jungkook blushed. “They make me feel hot.”

“There it is! This is the kind of shit you wear on dates! Do you have any other clothes you wear when you want to feel hot?”

“…I have a leather jacket.”

“You’re so cute. What a bad boy. One of these days I’m going to make you wear just the Calvin’s and the jacket and I’m gonna ride you again.”

If Jungkook wasn’t very familiar with the feeling of his dick getting interested in something, he would never have thought that would turn him on.

“But it’s too hot for a leather jacket, so that’s not happening.”

Jungkook changed, pointedly not looking at Taehyung sprawled out on the bed and enjoying the show. When he had the full ensemble on, plus a watch, he turned to Taehyung and opened is arms. “Dressed for my date now. Can I go back to watching the Food Network?”

“Oh we’re not done. Do you have any eyeliner?”

“No.”

“I’m going up to my room. I’ll be back down in a minute.”

Jungkook gave up and let him do his makeup without complaint, just a little eyeliner and concealer. He insisted on watching Chopped at the same time. Then he let him do his hair.

“I’m going to go wash it off.”

“If you come back here with that stuff messed up, I will draw on your couch with this lipstick.”

“What color is the lipstick?”

“Pink. Why?”

“Put it on.”

Taehyung raised his eyebrows and walked to the bathroom with Jungkook to use the mirror. He turned towards him, lips shiny-pink and delicate, and Jungkook gently grabbed his chin with one hand, staring at them, the way they curved, the way they matched his soft skin and lilac hair. He met Taehyung’s eyes with a practiced smolder. Taehyung leaned a little towards him, lips parting a little as he took a deep breath.

Jungkook had to touch, and Taehyung’s tongue flicked wet over the pad of thumb when it brushed the damp pink of his lips. “So pretty,” he murmured. Taehyung swayed closer for a moment, one hand coming out to gently brush against Jungkook’s raised arm, and then he pulled away.

“Jimin is going to pass out when he sees you.”

Jungkook glanced back at himself in the mirror. “Yeah. I look hot. Thanks.”

“You look like you’ve put in an effort. I think Jimin would have been kind of put off if you showed up looking normal while he went all out.”

“I’ve never worn makeup before. I don’t want to give him the impression that I’m going to keep doing this.”

“Why not? You look hot.”

“I don’t know how. And how do I not fuck it up now that I’m wearing it?”

“Don’t rub your face and don’t cry.”

 

Jungkook and Jimin ate at a different hipstery Asian fusion place than the one he’d been to with Taehyung. “I think its run by the same people,” Jimin said.

“Do they own both the Foxy coffee shops too?”

“What? Maybe? That’d be pretty funny.”

They’d ended up dressed almost exactly alike, black ripped pants and a dark grey shirt. Jimin’s was a tank. Jungkook laughed out loud when he saw him. Jimin dragged his attention away from Jungkook’s eyeliner long enough to mumble “huh?” and Jungkook spilled right there that Taehyung had dressed him and had apparently hit Jimin’s date style perfectly on the head. Taehyung smacked him and stomped off.

“How does Taehyung even know how you dress for dates?” Jungkook asked, halfway through a plate of the most delicious egg roles he’d ever eaten.

“I guess he’s watched me prepare for them enough times. It’s not like he’s been on a date in years.”

“Really? He was getting super passionate about the dating experience back there.”

“What a weirdo. He doesn’t do dates. He’ll go out with someone as long as he knows he’ll get laid at the end of the evening, and I don’t think that counts. I’ve been asking him on dates for two years now. No luck.”

Jungkook sighed.

“Wait, you’re not considering asking him out, are you?”

“Not anymore.”

“Man, I don’t blame you. Fuck, he’s so attractive. I’ll settle for friends with benefits though. He’s hot and really fun, but I get the feeling he’d suck in a relationship. He knows it too.”

Jungkook pouted. “He’s just. He’s like, fluffy and purple.”

Jimin laughed out loud, eyes nearly shut. “You like the princess look, huh? Wait till you see him when it gets cold and he starts wearing huge knit sweaters.”

Jungkook fell over on the booth seat.

“This is such weird date conversation,” Jimin said when he resurfaced, “I wanna talk about you.”

“Oh good, my favorite subject.”

It didn’t take them long to find out that their only common interests were alcohol and Taehyung.

“Seriously? You’ve never heard of Chrome Sparks?”

Jungkook said “I understand that that phrase is in English, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.”

“Chrome Sparks is so fun to listen to when you’re high!”

“I listen to Kid Cudi.”

“Typical. We’ll have to change that.”

And Jungkook, who had always assumed that a lack of common interests was an automatic ticket to really bad conversation and boring dates, was pleasantly surprised. It was very different from Taehyung, where Taehyung rambled while Jungkook occasionally had to pull him off the sides of buildings. Jimin had plenty to say, always took Jungkook’s input into account, and asked plenty of leading questions to keep both sides of the conversation going. He also introduced him to bubble tea. Jungkook ordered two at the restaurant and one to go.

Jimin didn’t try to hold his hand on the walk to the Lucas, an old, luxurious theater with all the lights out front and all the gilt edges and chandeliers inside. Jungkook had seen an opera here once, probably for school, and he watched performances from the music festival there every year. They also loved to play classic movies.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Jimin said, reading the marquee. “You’ve never seen this, right?”

Jungkook shook his head. “You’re a movie buff, aren’t you?”

“Oh yeah.”

“Fuck. This is going to be a serious, emotionally engaging movie without car chases or hot villains, isn’t it?”

“It’s Audrey Hepburn.”

“Oh, fancy. Didn’t know I was signing up for this.”

He sipped his bubble tea thoughtfully, then turned and found Jimin staring right at where his lips wrapped around the straw. “What if I don’t like it,” he asked, teasing.

“Then I will have no desire to ask you for a second date,” Jimin replied, though Jungkook found it easy to call his bluff with the way he was staring, eyes hooded, the corners of his mouth turned up just a little, just enough to make his neutral expression look slightly lecherous. Jungkook played with the rim of the straw with his tongue and teeth, just to see what would happen. Jimin looked at his mouth, then looked at his eyes. Jungkook released the straw and waited for a reaction.

Jimin glided smoothly up into his space, hands coming up to grasp his sides under his elbows, and pulled the straw into his mouth with his tongue. His thumbs rubbed distracting circles over Jungkook’s chest. Jungkook leaned into it, watching the boba travel up the straw into Jimin’s mouth.

They were still standing in the middle of the crowd trickling in to watch the movie. Jungkook’s face flashed bright red. Jimin let the straw go, huffed out a laugh at Jungkook’s wide-eyed, flushed face, then rested his palms on either side of Jungkook’s jaw and kissed him gently, chaste and entirely too sweet for the eye-fucking they’d just finished. Just one quick, warm press that was every bit as sweet and romantic as any first kiss between two people should be. Jungkook felt a little wobbly.

“You’re too fucking cute,” Jimin murmured.

Jungkook tried to resist being adorably bashful and failed. Jimin pulled him in for the warmest, firmest hug he’d ever felt.

“Do we have to watch the movie?” Jungkook said, quietly, into Jimin’s shoulder. “Can’t we just go back to your apartment and hug it out for a few hours?”

“No way, we’re gonna watch this, but maybe I’ll hold your hand the whole time. You should have told me you were a sucker for romantic shit.”

“I like chick flicks and Nicholas Sparks too.”

“Fuck, you’re adorable. I’m not even going to question your taste in film. You act like such a bro all the time and then you pull this shit.”

Jungkook pulled away, face flaming, and noticed a few people staring. “Let’s go get our fucking seats before I die of shame.”

“Ok, cutie.”

Jungkook was glad Jimin didn’t hold his hand till they were sitting in their seats. That would just have felt needy and entirely too familiar. The lights went down and Jimin picked Jungkook’s hand up out of his lap and laced his fingers through Jungkook’s, real casual.

“uhh, isn’t this song the one about the river out to Skidaway Island?”

“’Moon River’? Famous jazz standard written for this movie by the great lyricist Johnny Mercer? Yes, its about the stupid little creek in the marsh out by Skidaway.”

Jungkook snickered. Wider than a mile, the lyrics say. The river itself was less than a mile long, barely a blip on the map otherwise covered in enormous snaking rivers and wide brackish savannas. It wasn’t nearly as beautiful as some of the other stretches of marsh between the islands. Jimin pressed his lips to the back of Jungkook’s hand.

Throughout the entire movie, Jungkook watched Holly Golightly, an ex-farmgirl socialite, run from love, chase men for their money, and get herself into trouble by being weird and unpredictable. Her apartment neighbor fell in love with her. At one point they went off for a day to do interesting things that they’d never done before. Jungkook was reminded strongly of Taehyung dragging him around Savannah.

By the end of the movie, Holly Golightly stopped being afraid of love, started caring, and she and the neighbor got together. Cute. Audrey Hepburn was gorgeous. Her neighbor was classically dashing and nice to look at. There was a cute cat involved. Jimin kissed him in the middle of the lobby when he said he enjoyed it.

“Now what?” Jungkook asked when they emerged onto the brightly dim nighttime streets.

“We could go home. We could go out for a drink.”

“Oh right, because that went so well last time. What I’m asking, is if this is one of those dates where you kiss me at the front door and then we carefully plan a second date, or is this the kind of date where you take me home and fuck me? What kind of relationship are we setting up here?”

Jimin laughed. “Jeez. I hadn’t thought that far into it.”

“Ok then, did you intend for this to be casual or serious?”

“Definitely casual.”

“Then take me home and fuck me.”

Jimin offered an arm. “Right this way, sugar.”

Jimin’s dorm was nice, lots of storyboards and potted pants lying around. His bed was nicer. The way he fingered Jungkook slow and deep when he learned he’d never had a good experience bottoming before was nicer still. And even Jimin’s roommate busting in as they cuddled up to go to sleep later didn’t effect how wonderful it felt to drift off with someone placing lazy kisses in his hair.

 

“I fucking hate that movie,” Taehyung said later, lying with his feet in Jungkook’s lap and his arms over his head, shirt riding distractingly up over the lower curve of his abs. They’d just gotten back from a walk down to the Coffee Fox and Taehyung’s illustration homework was spread out all over the living room. Jungkook could stare at them all day, scenes and characters, old haunted mansions and rainy landscapes. An old sea captain shared the page with a goofy sixties greaser and a futuristic secretary.

“You hate Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Why? Audrey seems a little too familiar, does she?”

“Fuck you. She’s exactly like me. But she’s a fucking classic Manic Pixie Dream Girl, which doesn’t automatically discredit the character, mind you, but then they fucking hand her to the man at the end of the movie like her whole philosophy was completely stupid and irrelevant, like it was inevitable that she falls in love and lets herself get tied down at the end. I fucking hate it. I loved that character so much, and I had to watch her get destroyed.”

“Some would classify that as character development and maturity.”

“Fuck those people. She’s a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. One of the requirements of those characters is a conveniently under-developed backstory. They’re meant to be the easy, perfect answer to a sensitive young man’s lost soul. They’re empty. I hate looking at one and seeing myself, especially when it makes so much sense. I won’t be anyone’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I’ve got my own problems.”

He pulled his feet off Jungkook’s lap and curled up into a scowling ball against the couch’s armrest. “I’m tired of always being some kind of trope. Class clown, token gay kid, the problem cousin. I don’t want Manic Pixie Dream Girl on that list too.”

Jungkook didn’t know what to say, so he went back to staring at the TV. Taehyung scratched away at his sketchbook for a solid thirty minutes before either of them said a word. “Hey Jungkook, I drew you as a girl.” He turned the sketchbook around. There was Jungkook sitting on a couch with long hair, a thinner jawline, and a dress.

“Wow. That really looks like me.”

“You’re so pretty.”

“Thanks.”

“I meant my drawing.”

“Oh. Not…thanks?”

“Let’s go somewhere,” Taehyung said quietly, his chin propped up on his knees. He stared up at Jungkook through purple bangs. “I wanna go somewhere with you.”

“Foxy?”

“Rome.”

Jungkook stared at him for a moment, blinking.

“I don’t know. Can we go drink coffee in the Paris Market or something?”

“Yeah. Let’s do that.”

They ended up boarding a tricked out hearse with the roof extended upwards so people could hang out the top, a Savannah ghost tour. “Most haunted city in the United States,” Taehyung snickered, “Behind New Orleans and St. Augustine. Wonder why they’re all in the South.”

“Civil war,” Jungkook said. “When General Sherman marched through the south, he stopped at Savannah.”

“Ah. I bet other cities disagree anyway.”

Sure enough, most of the stories had to do with confederate soldiers or slave holders hanging out in old buildings causing trouble. A couple pirates haunted the Pirate House Restaurant, a couple immigrant women from the early years of the city appeared in the squares.

Jungkook hadn’t seen the city from a slowly circling touring vehicle since he was a kid. He hung out the window, legs kicking distractedly at the window by his feet, and watched the ancient brick houses and equally ancient twisting oak trees roll by. There was a slight breeze, and Jungkook could hear the familiar sharp rustling and cracking of palm fronds in the dark squares. Jungkook could see why someone would fall in love with such a beautiful, peaceful city. Pedi-cabs drove by, bearded men on bikes dragging chariot-like seats behind them.

Taehyung seemed rather subdued. He threw things at pedestrians, giggling, and kept up a constant low commentary about the ghosts, pulling faces and messing with the kid sulking beside his parents across the aisle.

“You ok?” Jungkook asked when Taehyung rested his head on his shoulder, one hand fiddling with the brim of Jungkook’s snapback

Taehyung giggled. “I’m lovely, thanks. You seem kinda down though.”

Jungkook shrugged. “I feel bad for upsetting you earlier.”

Taehyung got off his shoulder and set his head on Jungkook’s elbow up on the edge of the car. “It’s ok. I can handle it. Everyone’s gotta be upset sometimes. Don’t worry about it.”

“You’re quiet too though.”

Taehyung turned his head towards the street and sighed. “Long day. I’m feeling anxious already. Got a mediocre grade on an art project. Ran out of food money. Don’t know how I’m going to get more. I’m hungry.”

Jungkook sat up a little. “Were you going to do anything about that?”

“I don’t know. I could always ask mom for money. She’d give it to me.”

“Do that. You need to eat.”

“I don’t want to. I want to be independent. I need a job, but I don’t want to work.”

“I’m gonna take you to dinner.”

“No no. I’ll call my mom.”

He produced a phone from his jeans, something with a very pink and teal case, and Jungkook realized he’d never seen Taehyung’s phone before. The screen was shattered, and Jungkook was honestly not surprised. He called his mom right in the middle of the the tour guide’s rambling story about some young woman and a dead baby.

“Mom? Ow. Yeah, I’m still alive. You’re still picking up my rent, remember? Yeah, yeah.” He tapping the side of the car for a minute, giggling along with something his mom was telling him. “Hey Mom, I ran out of food money and I need help.” He was quiet for long while. Then murmured. “Thanks. I love you. Yeah. Sorry. Love you too. Bye.” And hung up.

“First time we’ve talked since school started!” Taehyung said.

“Taehyung, I worry about you.”

“I worry about you too.”

“About me? What’s to worry about?”

“The stupid Savannah Bee Company and how terrible you look whenever you come home.”

Jungkook couldn’t stop the wave of anguish. “Oh god, I hate that place. I never want to eat honey again. I’ve started avoiding the aisle with honey in the grocery store. I threw out the bottle of Tennessee Honey Jack Daniels that Namjoon bought me. I’ve developed a new fear of bees.”

“Holy shit, Jungkook, this is getting bad. I guess I shouldn’t tell you that I was planning to watch the Bee Movie with you tonight.”

“Holy fuck you wouldn’t do that to me, Taehyung.”

Taehyung burst out laughing, the familiar surprisingly deep rumble interrupting the tour. Everyone in the car turned and stared. He quickly slapped a hand over his mouth and Jungkook snickered into his arm. The kid Taehyung had been bothering was smirking viciously over his shoulder. Taehyung threw an empty coke cup at him.

“Mom’s getting money to me tomorrow, so I just have to hold out till then.”

“Nope. I’m buying you dinner.”

“I won’t let you.”

“I owe you anyway.”

“I don’t care.”

“Friends don’t let friends go hungry.”

They got kicked off the tour by the graveyard when Taehyung started smacking him and yelling “No food! No food!” at the top of his voice.

“Damn field full of cement blocks is fucking closed,” Taehyung grumbled, staring through the high, wrought iron fence. “Let’s jump over.” He found an area under a low-hanging tree and struggled up the narrow bars.

“Taehyung, get the fuck down! We’ll get fucking arrested!”

“They won’t catch us,” Taehyung said, and then landed on the other side of the fence and pressed himself right up close to where Jungkook clung to the bars, face inches away. “Well isn’t this romantic,” Taehyung said, eyes glinting in the dim street lamp. “Come catch me, baby.” He sprinted off between the ancient, towering tombstones and brick paths. Jungkook crouched on the sidewalk for a moment, whining in panic, and then backed up and launched himself up the fence, parkour style, and dropped smoothly onto the other side. Much easier than Taehyung had made it look. He sprinted off after him.

Taehyung was waiting for him crouched behind a low mausoleum aged with lichen and black moss. He pulled Jungkook right down on top of him. “I saw you clear that fence. Holy shit, that was hot. Like you were floating. God damn. Flex for me, let me feel those arms.”

Jungkook was already flexing to hold himself up, splayed over Taehyung, who ran his hands up under his shirt and moaned loudly, stroking his abs. “Fuckin humidity. You’re already all sweaty. I am all for switching this from a bros date to a friends with benefits date if you’re up for it.”

“No fucking way. Fear is a major turn off for me and I’m so scared of security right now. The police station is on this fucking block! They’re so serious about trespassing in this place. We’re going to get arrested forever. Mom will make me live at home!”

“Baby,” Taehyung cooed, hiking Jungkook’s shirt up under his armpits and continuing the slow, firm strokes down his chest. “Mama can’t take care of you forever.”

Jungkook sputtered. His mom hadn’t paid a dime towards his survival in three years until she agreed to help him pay rent until he could pay her back. “Do you have any fucking idea how illegal this is?”

“Your mom will make you live at home. Most of the time I forget how young you are.”

“I’m less than two fucking years younger than you!”

“I’ve been living away from home for two years. It makes a difference. You’ve still got mommy close by. You’re so cute. There’s a reason we all call you kid, you know.”

Jungkook sat up. “Fuck you. Did you think about what will happen to you if you get arrested? Has it even crossed your mind? Neither of us are kids anymore. We’re adults, and they’ll arrest us like adults. I’ll lose the two fucking jobs that I need to survive. You’ll lose your scholarship. For christ’s sake, Taehyung, I’m the kid? I’ve been forced to be independent since I was sixteen and Mom couldn’t afford to feed me anymore, and its been fucking hard, and all you fucks can do is act like I’m some adorable kid. Look who’s talking. You’re in a fucking art college and you ask your mom for food money, you shit.” He stood and walked towards the gate.

He didn’t expect Taehyung to come after him, but he did, grabbing his arm and yanking him behind a tombstone.

“Get off.”

“You’re walking straight towards the cameras,” Taehyung whispered.

Jungkook murmured “fuck,” and then put his face in his hands.

“I’m sorry.”

Taehyung had crumpled himself up against the tombstone, knees to his chest, still gripping Jungkook’s wrist. “I didn’t know. I’m sorry.”

“How do we get out of here?”

Taehyung swallowed and took a deep breath. “Same place we came in. Jungkook…” He gripped Jungkook’s wrist a little tighter. Jungkook could just barely see him in the light of distant streetlamps, his face striped with black shadows, but he could see Taehyung avoiding his gaze, lips dangerously turned down.

“Wait, are you—? Don’t cry,” Jungkook said.

Taehyung nodded and bit his lip. Jungkook’s anger dissolved, leaving him distressed and tired. Taehyung’s hair hung in his eyes, and the way he blinked quickly and rubbed his eyes like a child was completely heartbreaking.

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook murmured, and pulled Taehyung awkwardly into his lap. Taehyung laughed a little as Jungkook shuffled around, and a sob escaped. “Jeez, Taehyung. I’m so sorry.”

Taehyung took a couple deep breaths and pressed his face to the side of Jungkook’s head. “I didn’t know any of that. I thought you were just… I’ve had such a bad day, Kookie. I fucked up. I know I’m hard to be around. I’m so sorry.”

Jungkook nuzzled his hair affectionately. “You don’t suck. I love having you around. If I didn’t have you around I probably would have collapsed under stress by now.”

“I’m definitely the kid in this friendship.”

Jungkook rolled them both sideways to lie on the grass. “You know why I’m always surprised you have a mom? You remind me of Peter Pan.”

Taehyung snorted. “Yeah, that’s about right. Perpetual playful child who won’t grow up and leads all sorts of bizarre adventures. At least it’s better than being Audrey.” He rolled off Jungkook but stayed close to his side, staring up at the starless city sky.

“We’re in a graveyard,” Jungkook snorted.

“It’s a nice place to be.”

“Sure.”

 

The next afternoon, Jimin picked Jungkook up after a very trying morning of dealing with his honey-obsessed manager and no fewer than twelve families with small children trying to grab glass objects off high shelves. He took him on a tour of City Market art galleries, airy little nooks so different than the literal hole-in-the-ground bar Jungkook worked in, that it was hard to believe they were only a block away, things he heard of but never bothered to visit.

“SCAD art?” he asked as they entered the little mall-like space with art galleries instead of stores.

“No, local artists. People who actually make a living with this. I’m betting a lot of these pieces are multiple thousands of dollars. This is art collector material.”

Some galleries brimmed with beautiful paintings of the way afternoon light played off the Forsyth fountain or the stretching limbs of a sprawling oak, covered in dangling mosses, impressionist paintings. Other galleries were Gullah Geechee artwork, in tribute to and created by the local people, freed slaves that set themselves up on the sea islands and created works of brilliant color.

He loved the photography of landmarks and trees, that particular low-country style of architecture that people came to Savannah and Charleston to see.

He stopped in front of one particular painting of River Street, seen from the opposite shore at night, the old warehouses on the river walk lit up for tourists, the shops and restaurants gleaming against the dark water, the gold-roofed dome on the courthouse glinting, Savannah as if a Venetian canal. He felt a deep swell of pride.

“I’ve never seen the city like this,” he told Jimin.

“Do you think its inaccurate?” he asked.

Jungkook shrugged. “Might be more accurate than what I see, actually. It’s beautiful. I let my own hang-ups get in the way of actually appreciating what I have living here. That’s how I became friends with Taehyung, you know. He said he was going to introduce me to my own city.”

“I heard about that,” Jimin laughed, “I think he was very proud that he could do that for you. Did he succeed?”

“Yeah. He keeps doing it too. I might actually love living here by the end of the year, especially if he keeps talking about how shitty his high school was and how bland life is up in Maryland where he lives.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” Jimin said, “I love living in New York, the state, not the city. But this place is better. How’s Taehyung doing by the way? Like, did he seem weird yesterday?”

“Yeah, he was kind of off yesterday.”

Jimin pursed his lips thoughtfully. “How so?”

“Said he’d had a bad day. Went on a rant about how much he hates Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Got a bad grade on a project, ran out of food money. We went on a ghost tour. Then he dragged me into the graveyard at night and I may have yelled at him a bit. He may have, um, cried, just a little. Why do you ask?”

Jimin stared at the bottom of the painting. “I yelled at him yesterday too. He was over at my place after class and I was trying to do homework. He wouldn’t stop complaining about getting a fucking B on his art project, which is a good fucking grade, from what I’ve heard about that class. I snapped.”

“Oh, shit.”

“Yeah. He left after that, and he only looked a little annoyed, but I know he’s touchy about how distracting his personality can be, which is what I yelled at him about, so I felt terrible the rest of the day.”

Jungkook wondered how often they accidentally acted like Taehyung’s mom and ex-boyfriend, teachers and friends, and made him feel like his personality was a problem. “Now I feel terrible too.”

“Why’d you yell at him?”

“He was acting really careless and then making fun of me for being a kid. I hate it when you guys do that.”

Jimin’s eyebrows furrowed. “You do?”

Jungkook hesitated. “Yeah. You all treat me like I’m so much younger and so, like, naïve and inexperienced, or something, and its frustrating because…” he glanced up at Jimin’s beautiful eyes and cut off. “Um. I’ve always been the oldest out of my friends because I was the oldest in my class in school, so I’m used to being seen as the most mature, not the least, and… Well, Namjoon and I think you all act like spoiled kids. Especially you and Taehyung.”

“What?” Jimin sat up a little, looking upset.

“Ah no, that came out weird. It’s just… Namjoon never went to college, and I’m not going to, and we’ve both been struggling to make enough money to even fucking eat for years now. And we see a bunch of crazy people going to an art college, of all things, all the time, like they’ll never have to worry about the same shit we do. You and Taehyung just happen to be close to the weird as fuck SCAD stereotype that we’ve been mocking.”

“You make fun of me?”

“No. Jimin. You’re awesome. I’m on a fucking date with you. I think you’re great. That’s not the point. I’ve been fending for myself for four years now, which is more than any of you can say, but everyone still treats me like the child in the group. The only person who’s struggled more than I have is Namjoon, and he’s the only one I’m actually ok with calling me ‘kid,’ even if I give him a hard time for it.”

“You could have just told me.”

“I just did. That was me telling you.”

“But I’ve been calling you kid for weeks now.”

Jungkook groaned and dropped his head into his hands. “I’m always so worried nobody will take me seriously.”

“Of course I’ll take you seriously.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry.”

Jimin shuffled closer and pulled Jungkook into a hug, knocking their foreheads together and turning it into a mid-gallery cuddle. Jungkook blushed again. “I’ll try to stop. No promises, though. I have a younger brother so some of its engrained. No offense, but you look young. Whenever we do stuff, you’re always the one who still isn’t legal or who hasn’t had sex more than once or twice.”

“There is so much more to being an adult than sex and alcohol.”

“I know. But I don’t actually have to act like an adult yet, so its easy to forget.”

That night Jimin asked Jungkook to fuck him, and though it felt a little like being pacified, he couldn’t really watch Jimin moan mindlessly as he twisted in the sheets and still honestly complain.

“Watch a movie with me,” Jimin murmured into his shoulder afterwards.

“What movie?” Jungkook asked, thinking of things like Fast 7 or Stepbrothers.

“I feel like watching Miyazaki.”

Jungkook giggled. “What’s that?”

“Ugh, I keep forgetting you’re not a nerd. Haven’t you ever watched anime?”

“Does Dragon Ball Z count?”

“Actually, kind of. Yes. But everyone and their mother has seen that.”

“Is Miya-whatever more obscure or something?”

Jimin gave him a withering look. “Not at all. He’s won tons of awards. Like Oscars and shit.”

“Damn.”

“He’s a world class director. His works are classics. Have you ever heard of Spirited Away?”

Jungkook figured that sounded a little familiar. “Maybe?”

“We’re watching that. You’re probably going to think its weird.”

Jungkook sighed and pulled himself upright as Jimin set up the computer and then cuddled up against his chest.

“It’s in English. I thought obscure animes were in Japanese.”

“It’s dubbed really well. All his movies are. One was dubbed by Miley Cyrus’s little sister or something. They’re not obscure. Like at all.”

“Huh. Well, excuse me for being a culture-less American.”

“That’s something that bothers me about America,” Jimin whined. “We’re so dominated by our own pop culture that its practically socially faux pas to be interested in anything from other counties until its accepted into American entertainment, which isn’t valid.”

“Shh, I wanna hear the pretty music.”

The movie was weird. From the minute the Chihiro and her family walked through the tunnel, to the moment when the river dragon guy pushed her towards her parents and told her not to look back, Jungkook just stared at the screen with his mouth hanging open.

“Look,” Jimin said when she emerged on the other side of the tunnel. Their car was filled with dust and covered in leaves. “All the red paint has peeled off the building and its covered in vines. The road has grown in and the trees are closer to the road. That little nub in the middle of the path was a concrete statue when they went in. They’ve been gone for somewhere between fifteen and thirty years.”

Jungkook felt the weirdest lump in his throat. The credits rolled. Jimin let sit there in silence and digest the movie until they finished.

“Did you like it?”

“Can we watch it again?”

Jimin smiled widely and crawled heavily over Jungkook, pinning him to the bed. “His movies are why I’m majoring in animation. I’m glad you liked that.”

“There are more? Can we watch another one?”

“It’s nearly two in the morning. Let’s do that tomorrow.”

They slept with Jimin curled up against Jungkook’s shoulder, hands clasped tight in the sheets, and Jungkook felt comfortable in ways he never felt alone in his apartment. Going back to the Bee Company the next day didn’t even seem that bad.

 

October crept up on them, the days turning pleasant instead of scorching, and Taehyung practically moved in. He learned to pick the lock on the door, and more often than not, Jungkook would wake up or come home to find Taehyung on his couch, sleeping, or painting his toenails a lurid green, or sometimes doing homework. “Your apartment is nicer than mine,” he claimed, “and I miss living in a dorm with lots of people around.” His presence was enough to erase any anxiety lingering from work, taking him out of his own life and dropping him into a world where typeface aesthetic and the difference between red-orange and burnt-orange actually mattered, and a cheerful face always snuggled with him until he smiled again. It was almost like having a boyfriend.

Work dragged. The bar was nice when Namjoon or one of Yoongi’s crew was there, but the Bee Company felt like a blot in the middle of his day. If he hadn’t needed the meager hours of pay, he would have quit. He felt like he could only stack so many jars of hand cream before he cracked. Coming home to Taehyung in his living room was a blessed breath of chaos after fighting store entropy all day, restacking unstacked stacks, placing inventory back in its proper spot, rearranging disrupted displays, and dealing with careless, overly casual customers.

“You’ve gotta be a good salesman,” his manager said to him one day, pulling him into the back for a pep talk. “Sell the products, don’t just handle them. Make people want to buy it. Be obnoxious.”

Jungkook bit back a, “you’d know all about being obnoxious, wouldn’t you?” he went home and fell onto Taehyung’s lap and let him sketch a tattoo sleeve in thin black marker down his arm for nearly two hours. It took days to wash off. People at the bar loved it. The Bee Company made him wear long sleeves until it went away.

Taehyung appeared in his bedroom one midafternoon as he was changing out of his Bee Company outfit and into a graphic tee with the definition of the work “Fuck” on it, and threw open all the windows in his apartment.

His hair was orange.

“There’s a nice breeze.”

“Holy shit, your hair isn’t purple.”

“Jimin and I did it yesterday. Halloween is coming up, you know. Thought I’d start celebrating early.”

He looked bright, and somehow older. Jungkook just stared at him for a few minutes until he skipped forward and got very close to his face, grabbing some of Jungkook’s bangs and holding them close to his own. “Orange and black. Halloween colors.”

“You look like a fox,” Jungkook said, and Taehyung smiled.

“A mischievous trickster, I am.”

Jungkook went back to pulling his pants on. “Speaking of tropes, why are foxes always portrayed at mischievous tricksters? I mean, they’re playful, but where does it come from.”

“Native American folktales always portrayed them as trickster spirits. Japanese folktales called them kitsune, and they could shapeshift and cause trouble. It’s just how cultures have always seen them. I’d say its less of a trope and more of an archetype.”

“You know everything, dude.”

“Nah. I don’t know calculus or politics. I just know really random fun shit and then some philosophy. Science is fun too, because then you can argue with stupid people.”

“That’s not fun.”

“Really? I love arguing with stupid people. There is no better way to feel good about yourself than arguing with stupid people.” He wandered out the door as if he didn’t realize he was moving.

“Or its just frustrating and sad.”

“You’re not doing it right,” he yelled from inside the bathroom. Jungkook looked through the doorway and saw him examining his orange hair in the mirror, lip between his teeth. “Oh yeah, I remember why I came in here.”

“Why’s that?”

“I need help carrying a futon up to my room.”

So Jungkook, in work clothes, helped Taehyung carry a very large box and mattress up three flights of stairs.

“I’ve never been in your apartment before,” Jungkook panted as Taehyung fiddled with the keys.

“That’s because it sucks.” He swung the door open and they entered.

At first glance, Jungkook thought it was completely empty. Then he noticed the stack of boxes open along the wall, spilling books and art supplies.

“Along the far wall,” Taehyung ordered. “Tomorrow I’m gonna get a coffee table and a couple cheap target chairs. Will you help me assemble this thing?”

Jungkook was too busy exploring Taehyung’s apartment, pulling open all the kitchen cabinets and the fridge to find them nearly empty. He ran past Taehyung, who was sitting on the floor staring at the futon’s assembly instructions, and into his bedroom. There was a pillow and a sleeping bag on the floor and several piles of clothes.

“You have fucking nothing in here!”

“Well the place didn’t come with furniture, and I don’t have any money.”

“Why don’t you live on campus?”

“Housing and a meal plan is actually a lot more expensive. I’d like to get a roommate here too to help with costs. I invited Jimin, but he was already set up. People never want to room with me for some reason. I think I’ve figured this out. Do you have a screw driver?”

Jungkook got up and down more than Taehyung for once, running around the empty apartment to look at things, like the full box of manga, or his makeup-filled bathroom cabinets. After he got over the emptiness, there were a lot of personal Taehyung touches everywhere. He’d drawn a cartoon character on the bathroom mirror in that pink lipstick. There were two cactuses sitting in the living room window, and the whole wall around the door was covered in drawing projects.

“Taehyung, you sleep on the floor,” Jungkook said, halfway through screwing the legs onto the frame. “Why didn’t you tell me? I’d help you.”

“You do. I sleep on your couch almost every single night, even when you don’t notice.”

“Oh.”

“I’d like to sleep in your bed though,” He said, and winked.

“You do.”

“I’ve only slept in your bed twice.”

Once the futon was complete, Taehyung slung an afghan across it, made tea, stripped to his boxers and the dead stag t-shirt Jungkook remembered from their first afternoon as friends, and curled up on it looking right at home. “My first furniture,” he sighed happily, and blew on his tea.

“I’m gonna take a picture to commemorate this,” Jungkook said.

“Ooh! Snapchat it!”

“So you’re gonna get more furniture soon?”

“Yeah. I might hit up Goodwill or the Salvation Army or whoever does that stuff and get a cheap dresser or bookshelf. Table and cheap chairs. Maybe I’ll steal one of those tall stools from an art room so I can eat at the kitchen counter.”

“Hold on, how do you suddenly have so much money?”

Taehyung looked intently at his tea for a moment, then said, “Some rich guy mistook me for a prostitute yesterday. I thought he’d figure out that I wasn’t pretty quick, so I told him a full night with me cost five-hundred dollars. He bought it. I have five-hundred dollars more than usual today. Well, four-hundred after that futon.”

“Taehyung, the things that happen to you…”

“I really hope I don’t have any STDs.”

“Good lord.”

“Worth it. I have a futon now. I’m gonna have to go get Jimin to fuck me tonight to get my game back together, though. He was terrible. Worst night I’ve had in a really long time. He was so bad.”

“How often do you and Jimin fuck?”

“What? Like, once every other week or something? Sometimes more. Why?”

Jungkook fiddled with the back of the futon for a moment. “We’ve been on, like, five dates now, and I still have no idea what our relationship is supposed to be.”

Taehyung shrugged. “Does it have to be anything specific? Just do what you’re both comfortable with.

“I have no idea.”

“Don’t ask me. I know nothing about this. I’ve only ever dated one person, and I don’t date people anymore. That’s how that went.”

“Who’d you date?”

“Some guy in high school.”

“ooooh, is that why—”

“There are many reasons why I hated high school,” Taehyung said, “He’s just one of them.”

Jungkook didn’t know how to continue the conversation after that. He noticed weird light patterns playing across white paint on the back of the counter. “Did you do something to the wall over there?”

“I think I drew a backwards fairytale in white crayon back there when I was high a few weeks ago. I kind of want to get a black light and see what I drew, but I also kind of don’t want to find out. It probably just looks like I let a five-year-old loose in here with a crayon and a challenge to fuck shit up.” He sipped his tea and stared around the nearly empty apartment. Jungkook thought he saw the perpetually cheery and excited expression slip a bit. “Sometimes my life feels like a war zone. Me vs. my own destructive tendencies. Everything I own eventually gets destroyed or turned into an art project.”

“I was beginning to wonder if you even realized how recklessly hyperactive you are all the time.”

Taehyung laughed, looking embarrassed. “You’re so honest. Everyone but you and Jimin beats around the bush like its something they shouldn’t talk about.”

“Even Yoongi?”

“He never mentions it, beating around the bush or otherwise, but I can tell he enjoys it, so that’s fine. I don’t think Hoseok’s even noticed. He’s the same way I am, only, like, softer.”

He rolled over sideways and plopped his head into Jungkook’s lap, orange hair laying it shiny streaks across his pants. “I know I’m nuts. I like it, most of the time. Other people, not so much. My teachers got my mom to get me on Adderall in high school, not because there was any definitive proof that I had trouble focusing, but because they literally wanted to medicate my personality. It felt like I was in someone else’s head all the time. I hated it, but every time I didn’t take it they could tell, and they’d give me shit for it.”

Jungkook ignored how Taehyung’s fingers were picking at his ripped jeans like he was plucking a violin as he spoke, and threaded his fingers into Taehyung’s hair, scratching gently. Taehyung’s eyes slid closed.

“Once I told a teacher I hated taking that shit, that it made me feel sick and angry, and I lost weight and my grades dropped when I was on it, and he said ‘well everyone else’s grades drop when you’re not on it,’ like that justified anything.”

Jungkook imagined a stoic, focused, miserable Taehyung, sitting in the back of a classroom where everyone else considered him a nuisance, where every piece of his personality was treated as a flaw, and all his resistance was reduced to stubborn, childish insubordination. He felt absurdly protective.

“I don’t blame you for hating high school.”

“I started dyeing my hair just so I could continue being an obnoxious little shit even when I couldn’t mentally make myself do anything stupid or distracting.”

“Do you even have ADHD?”

“Who knows. I think I just have a lot of energy and no brain to body filter. Does it even matter?”

“No,” Jungkook answered emphatically. Taehyung smiled a little. His fingers wiggled into the tear on Jungkook’s thigh and just stayed there, cool against his skin. Jungkook pulled the afghan up to cover his shoulders. They had a quiet moment just long enough for it to feel sweet and comfortable, and then Taehyung rolled abruptly off his lap and onto the floor.

“I want alcohol. Can we go back to your room?”

“I’ve got work in an hour.”

“It’s at a bar! Have one drink with me. You’re not a lightweight, are you?”

“I’m average. Taehyung, at least put your pants on before you leave.”

He didn’t. Jungkook had to deal with long bare legs running around his kitchen and boxers with emojis all over them.

“I’m gonna mix my own drink.”

“Do you know any?”

“I’m gonna make it up as I go along. What’s this?”

“Cointreau. Tastes like oranges.”

“Some of that, some vodka, do you have any lemons?”

“Oh that’s just a lemon drop martini.” He got him some lemons.

“I’m making something else now,” Taehyung said, and refused the lemons. He dumped a little of every slightly citrusy liquor Jungkook owned into a glass and sipped it. “Fuckin nasty.”

“Well obviously. That incredibly unbalanced. How fucking sour does that taste?”

“It’s awful.”

Jungkook sighed, poured a tiny glass of Cointreau, and threw a large chunk of very bitter dark chocolate into it. “Try this.”

Jungkook sipped happily. The drink matched his orange hair and dark eyes.

“Here. You can have mine,” Taehyung said.

He was still pants-less and drinking in Jungkook’s apartment when he left, and he was pants-less and passed out on the couch at 4:00 am when Jungkook returned, curled up and shivering. “You could have used the bed,” Jungkook said. He picked him up off the couch with a grunt and stumbled into his room. He lay him down as gently as possible. Taehyung stirred and rolled over, sighing. Jungkook got his pajamas on and brushed his teeth, and then climbed in beside him. It was a full-sized bed. Technically there was plenty of room for both of them. Taehyung rolled right up into his side and latched on anyway.

“Taehyung?” Jungkook murmured.

“Cold,” he whined, and shoved his frigid fingers right up Jungkook’s shirt. Jungkook gasped and flinched when the fingers ran gently down by his side and tucked in under him. Taehyung hummed happily, lifted his head, and placed one sloppy and very confusing kiss on Jungkook’s jaw. Then he fell asleep. Jungkook lay awake a little while, warm and wanting, until Taehyung’s breathing lulled him to sleep.

 

School got busier as the semester went on, and though he saw Taehyung all the time, he was usually locked into a sketchbook or ready to take a nap. Sometimes they’d both have free time and Taehyung would make his day by dragging him off somewhere in the city to a cute coffee shop or a SCAD gallery. He met all of his professors and modelled for a portrait drawing class once, just because they needed someone when he and Taehyung showed up, and he was the only person who didn’t want to practice sketching.

“It helps that you’re hot,” Taehyung told him afterwards. Jungkook felt hot. He felt like his face might burn off from blushing so hard under the shrewd gaze of fifteen artists with their pencils for about an hour. He’d seen some of the works. Not all of them had been flattering.

“My nose isn’t that big, is it?”

“It’s not that big.”

“I’m gonna wear one of those face masks that doctors wear for the rest of my life.”

Taehyung showed him his own sketch, a photo-perfect picture of himself looking nervous and shy, which was how he’d felt in real life, but that definitely hadn’t been the face he was wearing.

“You know my face really well, don’t you?”

“I like your face. I spend a lot of time staring at it.”

Jungkook blushed again.

Though his friendship with Taehyung felt stronger by the day, his dates with Jimin had trickled to a halt, since any time Jimin had free was usually right when Jungkook had a shift at the bar. They flirted there on the weekends, but he had started depending on Jimin’s Snapchat story for news almost as much as his high school friends. It felt like summer again, no one but Namjoon for company.

Jimin turned twenty-one, and Jungkook couldn’t celebrate with him. He saw him briefly as they passed through The Bar Bar, and Jimin gave him a huge kiss as Taehyung cheered. It was the third bar of ten the entire crew wanted to hit, so soon they left, taking Namjoon with them, and Jungkook felt so lonely and young that Victoria noticed and sent him home early.

One afternoon, Amber turned up at the Bee Company to invite him to the Halloween party she and Luna were throwing. “Jimin said he’d kill me if I didn’t invite you, but jokes on him, you were already on the list. Boy doesn’t have enough faith in me.”

Which meant he needed a costume.

“I don’t know,” Taehyung said later, sprawled out on the couch and twirling his own hair between his fingers, watching the way it caught the light. “I’m so completely swamped with illustration right now that I wasn’t even going to get a costume. Maybe I’ll go as a ketchup bottle or something. You could be a bunch of fries.”

“No. Taehyung, your hair is orange! Use that. Be a leprechaun or a fox or something.”

Taehyung sat up fast, nearly knocking his computer to the floor. “I wanna wear one of those super sexy girl’s costumes. Maybe I’ll be a French maid or something.”

“I bet those costumes are super uncomfortable.”

“You’d want to see me wearing one though, wouldn’t you?”

“Uhh….”

“You should wear one too.”

“Why on earth would I do that?”

“Because Jimin will be there, and I know it’s been a while since you two have hooked up. Don’t you want him chasing your tail?”

“I’m not wearing a girl’s costume. Those things look really uncomfortable. And cold.”

 

On Halloween night, Jungkook stood in front of the mirror in a cop costume with leather pants, a sleeveless uniform shirt, the hat, a baton, and handcuffs. He heard the door open. “Taehyung?”

“I brought makeup!” he responded, and walked into the bathrooms wearing a frilly, low-cut, mini maid’s outfit, completely with fishnet stockings, a bow in his hair, a lacy choker, and little fingerless white gloves with black ribbons. His make-up looked a little more pronounced than usual.

“Holy fuck, Taehyung. Jimin’s gonna be all over you. How the hell am I supposed to compete with that?”

“I don’t know, but when I wear the five-inch stilettos I feel sexy AF. I came here to do your make-up. You look good, by the way. Those arms. Wow. And the leather pants. I wouldn’t worry too much. Now please hold still while I put all this shit on you.”

Jungkook stood patiently and watched Taehyung’s wide eyes as he rubbed foundation onto his cheeks. “I’ve got some sunglasses you should wear with this, cutie,” Taehyung murmured.

“You’re wearing that goddamn pink lipstick.”

Taehyung smiled flirtatiously. “I know what you like, officer. Don’t smile. It’ll mess me up.”

“I’m starting to think I’d rather go home with you.”

Taehyung smiled thoughtfully. “Hm. Eyeliner. Close your eyes.”

Jungkook didn’t know what to make of that, and Taehyung remained silent until he’d finished with eye makeup. “What if we lured Jimin into a threesome?”

And that really shouldn’t have given Jungkook such an adrenaline punch, but it did. “Oh fuck. That’s such a good idea.”

“It won’t take much. We’ll just both flirt with him all night and then get him to take us home. His dorm is the nicest and he has the best toys.”

“What? He has toys?”

“Tons.”

“Why didn’t he fucking tell me?”

“Wait, he hasn’t used toys with you yet?”

“We’ve only fucked three times! He pulled out a vibrator once.”

“Nice. Did he use the purple one or the blue one?”

“…The pink, blue, and yellow striped one.”

“Oh damn. That sounds snazzy. When I get one I want it to be as cool as that.”

“I really suspected you’d have a vibrator already.”

“I’m broke! It’s at the top of my wish list for the next time some rich guy thinks I’m a hooker though. I really want one. You’re walking me there, sugar. I’m gonna need your arm to lean on.”

“Wait, we’re walking? Down Broughton? Like this?”

“We’re meeting Yoongi and everyone else in City Market, and then they’re driving us down.”

“That’s like half a mile. That’s a really long way to go in heels. Are you sure you don’t want to bring an extra pair of shoes?”

“No. I am strong. I shall endure.” Taehyung was spinning around the living room to make the costume skirt fluff out, and Jungkook kept getting very enticing glances of something light pink at the top of his thighs. The back of his dress was lace-up

He tried to focus. “Even girls who…um, wear heels all the time don’t like walking distances that long. My best friend in high school always brought extra shoes.”

Taehyung stopped spinning. “I don’t have any other shoes that look good with these tights. And am I ever going to learn this girl’s name? Why aren’t you friends anymore?”

Jungkook sighed. “Her name is Jess. When I came out she stopped talking to me.”

“Damn. Homophobia sucks.”

“She wasn’t homophobic,” Jungkook said, even then hating to hear someone criticize her. She’d always been his partner in crime. “She wanted to date me. I think our entire friendship was just her trying to date me, and after I came out she didn’t see the point anymore and gave up.”

Taehyung fiddled with the edge of his skirt looking taken aback. “I’m sorry. At least now you know?”

Jungkook snorted. “Sometimes I miss her. She’s up in Atlanta for college, though.”

Taehyung looked uncharacteristically sad, so Jungkook ushered him upstairs to grab his shoes. He came back down, five-inch velvet pumps clomping on the stairs, and shoved a wallet and a tube of lipstick in Jungkook’s back pocket. “Since this dress doesn’t have any storage,” he said, and then looped his arm through Jungkook’s.

“You are uncomfortably taller than me now,” Jungkook said, looking up almost half a foot to Taehyung’s face. Taehyung smiled and practically skipped down the stairs, astoundingly steady on the heels. His legs looked amazing.

“Taehyung, did you wax?”

“Yup. Everything.”

He really was shameless. Jungkook could feel his face burning the full twenty minutes down to city market, a closed off, cobbled street full of flowers, cute stores and bars on the edge of a wide park with fountains. SCAD students swamped the area, rambling groups of slutty little dresses and obscure pop-culture references. Taehyung was definitely no longer the most unusual thing in sight, though he got many appreciative stares. He had not stopped beaming the entire way there. They found Yoongi wearing a Scooby-doo costume. Namjoon had dressed like Eminem, Hoseok and Krystal like Calvin and Hobbes. Victoria was Iron man, and Seokjin was Pepper Potts.

Jimin was a…was that a green cape with wings emblazoned on it? Boots, white pants and shirt, tan jacket, and leather straps cris-crossing his entire frame. Jungkook had no idea.

“Levi!” Taehyung yelled. “Holy shit that cosplay is excellent!”

“I’m Mikasa, dammit. Can’t you see the red scarf?”

“I have no idea who you are,” Jungkook admitted.

“Holy shit, have you never seen Attack on Titan?”

“Oh. No. I’ve heard of it though.” He’d heard the geeks in high school raving about it in the lunchroom.

“Ok, we’ll have to fix that.”

“Add it to the list,” Jungkook said, eyeing the way Jimin’s hand had already snuck under the edge of Taehyung’s skirt.

“Wait for the party, Mikasa.”

“How are your feet doing?” Jungkook asked as they got in the van.

“For a while it was only searing pain and a steadily intensifying numbness in my muscles, and I was pretty sure I could handle it, but then we reached the cobblestones and now I think most of the bones in my feet are broken.”

“Ok. Glad to hear you so cheerful despite your crippling injuries.”

Jimin climbed into the other seat beside Jungkook and immediately started poking his thighs. “Dude. These are firm as fuck. Nice leather pants. You should wear these all the time.”

Jungkook giggled and slung one leg over Jimin’s lap.

“Oh, so it’s going to be one of those nights, huh,” Yoongi said from the front seat.

“With these two looking like they do? Oh yeah,” Jimin said. Taehyung and Jungkook’s eyes met. All according to plan.

Yoongi gave Taehyung and Jungkook a long once-over, then turned back to the road muttering “sluts” affectionately.

Luna and Amber, dressed as Mario and Luigi, had rented out the entire top floor of a bar. “HOW?” Taehyung yelled.

“We got club funding,” Amber said, from where she was crouched inside a modified children’s bicycle on the floor, now made to look like a Mario kart. Her fake mustache was a little crooked. “I can see right up your skirt from down here. Quite an eyeful. Nice panties.”

Taehyung grinned brightly and made no move to cover himself. Jungkook eyed the edge of the skirt with increased curiosity. Taehyung practically skipped off in those heels. Jungkook followed, hands out bracingly in case he tipped over. Jimin turned up out of nowhere, green cape and tan jacket gone, and holy shit his costume was sexy. He could see it now. The way those leather straps stretched across his muscles was absolutely sinful. He had two solo cups in hand, and gave one to Jungkook.

“What about me?” Taehyung yelled over the music.

“Go get your own!” Jimin yelled. Taehyung huffed in disgust and stomped off.

They spent a good hour taking part in a Smash Bros tournament on a huge screen on one side of the room. Amber won, but Jungkook got far enough to be proud. He hadn’t seen Taehyung in quite a while. Jimin had gotten knocked out sooner than him, so Jungkook walked back to the dance floor to find him, rounded the dance circle Hoseok was easily dominating with a really cool popping routine, and found Jimin on the other side, his hips working to the beat.

“Finally alone,” Jimin said, sultry, and then louder and giggly when Jungkook had to lean way into it to hear him. “How’ve you been, babe?”

“Fucking tired as shit. The Bee Company sucks!”

Jimin grabbed the hem of his pants and pulled him onto the dance floor. “Dance it off! I like that hat on you.”

Jungkook smiled and did his best to dance with a nearly full cup of…something orange…in his hand. As always, Jimin moved like lazy smoke, like ice melting, like his body was made of air. And whatever the orange stuff was must have been strong, because half a cup in, and Jungkook’s senses were already warping. He hadn’t seen Taehyung in a while and wondered if he’d forgotten the plan, but didn’t care much. He could tell this evening would end well no matter who took him home.

Jimin slid closer. Jungkook had never quite appreciated that they were the same height before Jimin finally stepped all the way forward, and without anyone having to crouch or stand on their toes, they were standing forehead to forehead, elbow to elbow, hips to hips, and everything lined up as they finally kissed. The dancing turned to slow grinding. When Jimin grabbed his ass, Jungkook shuddered and pulled his head back to gasp. Jimin kissed wetly up his neck to his ear and slid his hands into Jungkook’s back pockets.

“Jimin, gotta…Jimin...Jimin, I’ve gotta…”

“What do you want, sweetheart,” he breathed into his ear.

“I gotta take a piss. I’ll be right back.”

“God damn it, Kookie.”

Jungkook snickered. “Nature calls. I drank way too much of that orange shit super fast, and two whole water bottles after going to the gym earlier.”

After using the tiny, gross bathroom, he found Namjoon sitting listlessly at the bar, watching Luna and Amber getting underfoot in their tiny karts. “Hey kid,” he said, resting a heavy paw on Jungkook’s shoulder, “remember this summer when we spent so much time mocking SCAD students and kids who go to college for being naïve, playful idiots with huge piles of debt and no future, and how college parties were just people being stupid and college was just people being stupid and how they didn’t know how to drink or really party or be adults and all that shit?”

“Uh, yeah, I guess so.”

“It’s been, what, three months? Look where we are. A fucking college Halloween party. I think,” Namjoon raised his own cup of orange to his lips for a long swig, squinting around at all the scantily clad game design and animation students, “I think we were just jealous.”

“You are such an old man. Stop maudlin and go pick up some girl in Wonder Woman lingerie.”

“SCAD girls are scary. Some of them will hit you if you flirt with them. I don’t get it.”

“If I get laid tonight and you don’t, you will never hear the end of it from me.” Namjoon glared, finished his drink, and then stood and wandered into the crowd.

Jungkook made his way back to the dance floor, stumbling slightly in the half light. The alcohol had made its way around, the room smelled like weed, and disgustingly horny couples littered the room, grinding against the walls or practically fucking on the dance floor. He even saw some costumes as quality as Taehyung’s, curtesy of the fashion majors, maybe. Someone knocked his hat crooked and he couldn’t be bothered to fix it.

After stumbling through the crowd for a while, he finally found Jimin with a beautiful boy in a little black dress and fishnets clutched tight in front of him, the shoes gone. Jimin’s hand hiked up one side of Taehyung’s fluffy skirts, exposing the frilly white layers underneath, and the wide, lacy side of what looked like little pink boy shorts against slick, tan skin. Jimin had his mouth turned into Taehyung’s ear, whispering, and Taehyung’s eyes were shut tight, his head limp on Jimin’s shoulder, hands clutching at Jimin’s arm, the back of his neck. Jimin’s hand moved over his hipbone, lowering the skirt a little, and then pushed it back up. Jungkook saw the edge of Taehyung’s hard-on shamelessly filling the front of the pink shorts.

He stepped forward breathlessly and grabbed it, fingers low enough to feel his balls. Taehyung jumped, head snapping back, and moaned loudly enough for Jungkook to hear it over the music. Jimin looked up, surprised, saw who it was, and then smirked wickedly. Jungkook smiled back and kissed him messily over Taehyung’s shoulder. He felt Taehyung turn his head to look at them, his hips still jumping into Jungkook’s grip.

“Koo-kookie,” he whined.

Jungkook pulled away from Jimin and looked back down at Taehyung, sagging against Jimin’s strong arms. “Call us both ‘sir,’ baby girl.”

Taehyung’s eyes widened. Jungkook felt his knees give out. He rushed to help Jimin hold him up.

“Should I call you ‘officer,’ then?” Jimin asked.

Jungkook snickered. “Hell yes.”

“Fuck,” Taehyung groaned. Jungkook slid a hand back over his cock and squeezed gently. Taehyung’s forehead knocked against Jungkook’s shoulder. He just stood there, rocking a little to the music, palming Taehyung through his silky pink boy shorts. He realized he’d been staring blankly over Jimin’s shoulder for a few minutes and blinked, moving them to his eyes.

“Looking a little distracted there, officer.”

“Shut the fuck up.” He leaned in for another kiss and let Taehyung rut frantically against his hand for a minute while he kissed Jimin slow and deep.

It’s not that Jungkook forgot that there were people surrounding them, bumping into them and possibly staring at the way Taehyung was sandwiched and writhing between them, he just really didn’t care.

Yoongi showed up at one point, and joined the grind train behind Jimin, who looked back over his shoulder with a grin, then smirked wickedly and began moving his hips with a fury, grinding like a stripper. Taehyung seized a little against Jungkook, eyes flying open and hips twitching restlessly. Yoongi just laughed and snapped the costume straps across his ass. Jimin jumped and blushed a little.

Jimin went to go fetch them all a round of shots, and left Taehyung gripping Jungkook’s shoulders and rocking steadily against him as Jungkook gripped his ass under all the fluffy layers, kneading and pushing. He looked wrecked already, eyes glazed, hands shaking, a fine sheen of sweat making his skin dewy.

“So pretty, baby girl,” Jungkook murmured, and finally took the chance to bite his pretty, light pink lips, rub his own lips against them, lick to get the taste of lipstick on his mouth. Taehyung moaned low, a little too far gone to properly kiss back while also shifting his dick against the fly of Jungkook’s pants, through the layers.

Jimin returned with shots. The speed and efficiency with which Taehyung grabbed his and knocked it back showed that he was much more lucid than he let on.

“Dude, when do you guys wanna get out of here?” Jimin asked.

“That threesome’s happening then?” Jungkook asked.

“Aw, yeah. High five,” Taehyung said.

“Wait, did you fuckers plan this?” Jimin asked. Jungkook and Taehyung nodded.

“Let’s stay for a bit. It’s only been, like, two hours, and this party is awesome. We’ve gotta make it at least three,” Taehyung said. “Jungkook, can you get your hand back on my dick?”

“That’s not what you’re supposed to be calling me.”

“Can you feel me up in the middle of this here dance floor please, Sir?”

“There you go,” Jungkook said, and snaked a hand down between them, Taehyung immediately groaned and buried his head in Jungkook’s shoulder. Jimin let out a low whistle and then lined up behind him, kissing gently over his neck. He took charge of the dancing, keeping them moving so they weren’t just standing awkwardly in the middle of all the other groups of friends and couples. People stared enough as it was.

After a few minutes of lazy groping and Taehyung’s fingers digging hard into Jungkook’s shoulders, Jungkook felt Jimin’s hands lift the hem of Taehyung’s panties up and push them down. Jungkook finally wrapped his hand fully around Taehyung’s dick and stroked slowly over it. His eyes flickered through the drunken, oblivious crowd around them. Jimin was smirking evilly as Taehyung practically vibrated with tension. “You’re a bit of an exhibitionist, aren’t you?” Jungkook said in his ear, loud over the pounding music.

“I’m a little bit of just about everything you can name,” Taehyung groaned back, breath hitching. Jungkook teased until he was entirely too nervous to continue, which took a while, Jimin holding Taehyung upright.

“Fuck everything. We gotta get out of here,” Jimin yelled.

Jungkook nodded and began pulling Taehyung off the dance floor. “Where are your shoes, babe?”

“Under the bar.”

“Jimin?”

“On it.”

Jungkook stood near the door and waited for him, Taehyung sucking on his neck and grinding his hips against Jungkook’s thigh, whimpering. Namjoon, now with at least three woman hanging off his arms, gave him a salute. Jimin turned back up with the shoes and kissed Jungkook as his hand slid over Taehyung’s ass. When he pulled away, Jungkook got a good view of Namjoon giving him a huge dimpled smirk and two thumbs up. He left the building grinning.

Seokjin, the sober sitter, drove them to Jimin’s place, bitching about his Pepper Potts heels all the way. Jungkook sat up front with him and let him rant, giggling and making jokes about his ginger wig. Just as they pulled up to Jimin’s apartment, Taehyung gasped a few times, then made a very pornographic moan in the back and both Jungkook and Seokjin turned to stare.

Taehyung was laying limply in Jimin’s arms, his hands over his face. Jimin looked very caught-in-the-act with one hand up the front of Taehyung’s skirt.

“Jesus Christ. Not again. Why always in my car, Jimin?” Seokjin said. “You can’t wait to you’ve got him inside? Get him out before he drips cum everywhere. That stuff did not wash out of my car seats last time.”

“What?” Jungkook yelped, and then cackled.

Taehyung chuckled weakly.

“Get the keys out of my back pocket,” Jimin said, carrying Taehyung out of the car. He had a first story room, so he carried Taehyung all the way to the door.

“Left my shoes in Seokjin’s car,” Taehyung whimpered.

“And I left my cape. We have bigger issues to worry about.”

Jungkook shuffled with the keys as Jimin pinned Taehyung against the wall and reached back under his skirt. Taehyung’s moans turned high and frantic, and he knocked his head back against the wall.

“What are you doing?” Jungkook asked.

“Using his spunk as lube,” Jimin answered.

“Ok. No. You are not going to make him come again right now. Hands off.”

Jimin pouted at him. “No.”

“No?” Jungkook said, voice dangerous.

“No, officer?” Jimin guessed.

Jungkook threw Jimin’s keys at him and pushed him off Taehyung. “Good boy. Now unlock your own goddamn door.”

Jimin rushed to comply as Jungkook slid his tongue into Taehyung mouth.

“You takin charge, officer?” Taehyung breathed.

“Yeah.”

“I got jizz all over my dress,” Taehyung giggled.

“Dirty girl.”

“Fuck me, officer.”

Taehyung made it to the bedroom before he started trying to take his soiled dress off.

“Hold on. I got you,” Jimin said, and pulled the knot out, loosening the ribbons lacing the back together. Taehyung tugged it off and then sprawled across the bed wearing only the pink boy shorts, the lacy choker, an arm band, and the fishnet stockings. And the bow in his hair. It clashed oddly with his abs and strong thighs. Jimin flicked a couple small lamps and some string lights on, and Jungkook could see strips of white wetness glinting on Taehyung’s stomach and the tops of his legs. The front of his boy shorts were stained and already beginning to fill out again.

“Grab the headboard,” Jungkook said. Taehyung scrambled up the bed and stretched out on his back, his hands grasping the low strip of wood around the upper edge.

Jungkook straddled Taehyung’s chest and slapped the handcuffs around one of his wrists. Taehyung muttered, “Fuck,” and Jungkook smirked and looped the chain around a bar between the bedframe and the headboard and then tightened it around his other wrist.

Jimin climbed on right behind Jungkook and wrapped his arms around Jungkook’s waist, mouthing along his neck. With one hand he pulled the uniform shirt up over Jungkook’s abs. The other popped the button on his pants, unzipped his fly, and stroked into the front of his pants to press warmly against his dick. Taehyung watched, panting, under them, arms flexing against the handcuffs.

“Did you get naked?” Jungkook asked Jimin.

“Yes, officer.”

“Put the leather straps back on.”

“Shit,” Jimin said, and jumped off the bed.

Jungkook pulled the uniform shirt off over his head and knocked his hat off with it. He untangled it from the shirt and put it roughly back on. Taehyung moaned and squirmed. Jungkook shifted down to grind his crotch against Taehyung’s, black leather against light pink satin and smooth, tan abs striped with cum. He groaned and rocked down hard. Taehyung moaned behind clenched teeth.

Jimin shuffled around for a few minutes, giving Jungkook enough time to lick all the cum off Taehyung’s stomach and thighs and slowly pull the shorts over his thin hips, and then off his legs. He took his time feeling the smooth, waxed skin along the crease of his hips, close enough to tease. Then Jimin crawled back on the bed holding a long black pole.

“Spreader bar,” he said, and Taehyung groaned and spread his knees. Jimin strapped it on, and Jungkook slid off the bed to take off his pants and get a long look at Jimin, crisscrossed with leather straps, framing his chest, circling his thighs. Two crossed under his belt, right over his dick.

“Fuck, you look so hot,” he said, crawling back onto the bed and pinning Jimin down beside Taehyung to lick quickly into his mouth. Jimin tangled one hand in his hair and slid the other over his bare back, trying to control the kiss, and Jungkook growled, pressing harder and grabbing Jimin’s dick. Jimin gasped into his mouth and fought it, pressing up and tightening his hand in Jungkook’s hair.

“Don’t make me belt you to the bed beside Taehyung. I’ll fuckin do it.”

Jimin swallowed back a whimper and struggled, still trying to get on top and control it. Jungkook wrestled both of Jimin’s wrists into one of his hands and slammed them into the bed over his head, then bit into the solid muscle between his shoulder and neck, his other hand snaking down to roll Jimin’s balls in his hand. Jimin writhed, yelling, and his knees slid open, even as he tried to pull his hands out of Jungkook’s grip. But he was at an awkward angle, and Jungkook was stronger.

“You gonna behave, baby?”

“Yes, sir,” Jimin whispered brokenly.

Taehyung groaned. He’d shifted a little higher on the bed so he could put his head up a little and watch. Jungkook let him go, grabbed his fallen hat, and pulled it jauntily onto his head. Jimin didn’t move, just lay there with his arms over his head, panting and staring at the ceiling, his hands limp on the sheets.

“Did you—Did you just,” Taehyung gaped between Jungkook and Jimin, “Are you gonna top?”

“’Are you going to top,’ who, sweetheart.”

Taehyung snorted. “Officer.”

“Good girl.”

“Oh fuck, I like that way too much,” Taehyung said, going limp on the bed.

“Jimin, prep her.”

“Yes sir,” he said, and grabbed the lube off his desk. “sorry, officer.”

“I’ll let it slide.”

Jimin snickered and slid up beside Taehyung, slicked up his fingers, and reached between Taehyung’s spread knees to stick his middle finger right up into his hole with no warning or warm up. Taehyung made a gravelly sound deep in his throat and shut his eyes tight. Jimin stared heavily back at Jungkook, who was just enjoying the view, one hand working his dick.

“Well, officer? You gonna get to work too?”

Jungkook broke character and giggled a little. “Yeah, ok.” He grabbed the lube and Jimin got on his knees beside Taehyung, still managing to work a second finger into Taehyung.

The leather X’d twice over Jimin’s back and crossed on both sides from the top of his ass down over the curve to the outside of his strong legs where it met the belted straps around his thighs. Jungkook traced a finger slowly along where the leather met the skin of his ass, and Jimin’s head dropped onto his arms. Jungkook teased his entrance for a moment, and then pushed slowly inside.

“Jimin, why are you stopping,” Taehyung whimpered. “Don’t stop.”

Jimin growled. “What are you supposed to be calling me, bitch?”

Taehyung gasped, and yelped “Sir!”

“Jimin, what the fuck?” Jungkook said, freezing.

“Don’t worry. He likes it.”

Jungkook remembered that Taehyung had come when he called him a bitch when they’d had sex, and stored that information away for later thought, then continued thrusting gently into Jimin’s ass. His knees spread further apart on the sheets, inviting Jungkook to reach between his legs and grab his dick, so he did. With each slow stroke up Jimin’s dick, he could feel the leather straps crossed under his belt brush against his knuckles.

“So hot, Jiminie.”

Jimin moaned, arm muscles twitching as he worked inside Taehyung, who was gasping, mouth hanging open, frantic moans squeaking out high in his throat.

“My neighbors are gonna fucking kill me,” Jimin muttered into the sheets.

“Remember when they started blasting gospel music last time we did this?” Taehyung giggled.

“That was fuckin—oh god. Jungkook, officer, please do that again.”

Jungkook stroked another tight circle around Jimin’s sweet spot to watch all the muscles in his thighs tense. “Is Taehyung ready?” he asked.

“Couple minutes, officer. I just added the third finger.”

“Better hurry,” Jungkook murmured into Jimin’s lower back and added another finger. “You’re already pretty loose.”

“Must have sat on something this morning,” Jimin hissed out.

Jungkook worked his fingers deeper. He didn’t think he was very good at this yet, but the way Jimin practically purred whenever he scissored and twisted deeper had him focusing on finessing his movements, trying to draw his soft moans out into louder whines.

Taehyung’s orange hair had begun sticking to his forehead. Jungkook could see his arms tightening in the cheap handcuffs. His eyeliner had smeared a little and the bow was lopsided.

“He’s ready, officer,” Jimin grunted.

“You’re not though. Hold still for a minute.” He thrust a third finger in and twisted, spreading them apart, one thumb rubbing firmly against the skin behind his balls. Jimin panted. His hand stilled in Taehyung.

“Please, officer,” Taehyung begged.

“Get condoms,” Jungkook said, pulling his fingers out a wiping them on the sheets. “Like, four of em, just in case.”

Taehyung’s spreader bar rattled a little and Jungkook looked down to see squirming uncomfortably on the bed. “You ok?”

“Need something in me.”

Jungkook reached down and pushed three fingers in, thrusting gently, and Taehyung’s eyes fluttered shut. With his eyes still glued to Taehyung’s face, he lowered his head and sucked his dick into his mouth, still thrusting. His moans pitched higher and his head flopped backwards. Jungkook heard a condom packet ripping open, and Jimin spreading lube on his cock. Then another packet ripped open and Jimin gently pulled Jungkook’s briefs off, pushed his hips sideways so he could get to them, and rolled the condom on. Jungkook kept his eyes on Taehyung’s who was watching him suck him off under the spreader bar looking absolutely tortured.

Jimin spread freezing cold lube down Jungkook’s dick and Jungkook pulled off so fast he smacked the back of his head on the bar and knocked his hat off. “Ah! Fuck!”

Jimin giggled hysterically. “That’s what you get, bitch!”

“Fuck! So fucking cold! Ow, my head.”

Taehyung cackled.

“Fuck you both!”

“Yes, do that please. I’m gonna get soft up here,” Taehyung said, and then tacked “sir,” onto the end as an afterthought.

Jungkook extracted himself carefully and let Jimin line up behind Taehyung. He grabbed the spreader bar with one hand and pushed it roughly back, bending Taehyung in half. Taehyung’s handcuffs rattled against the bed. Jimin lined up and pushed in slowly and then immediately began slowly thrusting. Taehyung squirmed and grit his teeth, chest heaving. “Hurts?” Jimin asked.

“Yes…sir,” Taehyung said. Jimin didn’t slow, perfect dancer body rolls pushing into Taehyung like ripples on a lake.

“Good?”

“Yes sir,” Taehyung said, hissing. Jimin braced both hands on the spreader bar and held on, controlling the angle, and Jungkook admired the way his muscles locked out like they’d been molded there. Taehyung’s head tipped sideways onto one of his stretched arms. The lacy choker looked completely off-kilter.

Jungkook adjusted his hat, and then lined up behind Jimin. “Forward a bit,” he said, and Jimin pushed the spreader bar further, rising up higher onto this knees so Jungkook could get under him and sink in. He stopped rocking into Taehyung and just sat back onto Jungkook’s cock, nice and easy. Hot, tight heat swallowed him up, and his spine gave out. He collapsed against Jimin’s back, just clutching at the leather straps along the side of his chest and breathing. Jimin panted, arms shaking on the bar, thick muscles taught and straining, his head dropped below his arms. Taehyung whimpered and squirmed.

“You both good?” Jungkook asked.

“No sir,” Jimin whispered.

“Ok. Ok we can wait.”

“Can’t wait, officer.” Taehyung said.

Jungkook reached impatiently around Jimin and tugged at Taehyung’s cock, who moaned in earnest.

“You’re too nice to him, officer,” Jimin whimpered.

Jungkook kissed his shoulders gently. “You ok?”

“Yes sir. Please pull out mostly. I wanna try something.”

Jungkook slid out till only the tip remained. Jimin shuddered for a moment, and then shifted his hips backwards slowly onto Jungkook’s dick again, out of Taehyung. Taehyung whined, eyes trained on the top of Jimin’s head where it hung below the bar. Jimin rocked forward into Taehyung again, off of Jungkook, and then tentatively began a slow, filthy rolling motion perfectly between them, back onto Jungkook and forward into Taehyung. They both held absolutely still and watched Jimin work. Jungkook took his hands off Taehyung and put them on Jimin’s waist, sliding under the leather straps to feel his muscles tense as he moved with the grace of a whirlpool under his hands, pulling them both in. Pleasure pulsed pleasantly through Jungkook, up from the steady, careful rocking on his dick.

When Jungkook’s fingers slid softly across his abs, Jimin finally threw his head back, body arching, and Jungkook barely missed getting his nose broken, ducking to the side so Jimin’s head landed on his shoulder. He was flushed and sweating, absolutely wrecked, eyes shut, eyebrows pushed up and together, teeth clenched.

He wasn’t breathing well, little gasps slipping in and out when he could manage them past all the muscles coiling around his ribcage, both from holding Taehyung’s weight steady and shifting relentlessly in his little eddy between their bodies. Jungkook leaned forward and sucked on the bite he’d left in Jimin’s shoulder earlier, and Jimin moaned, high and sharp, cut off on his next gasp.

“Breath, baby.”

Jimin sobbed. His chest strained under the leather straps. Jungkook’s fingers ran lightly over Jimin’s nipples, and he choked, jerking hard into Taehyung, who yelped. He reestablished his pace and pushed forward, a little quicker. He leaned his weight forward onto the spreader bar a little, and Jungkook shuffled a little closer to stay in him and Jimin picked up speed, breathing a little easier and using that to push harder between them. Jungkook felt himself moan a little too, closing his eyes and focusing on the rolling pressure building so slowly. Jimin did not have enough leverage to punch with the speed Jungkook really needed, but that was fine. He could wait.

He opened his eyes and watched what little he could see of Taehyung over Jimin’s head, just his face and his arms stretched over his head. Jimin must have found Taehyung’s prostate, because he jolted beneath his spread legs and moaned breathlessly, his little mouth falling wide open.

“Taehyung, you’re beautiful,” Jungkook murmured, and he smiled.

“Taehyung,” Jimin gasped, “you look like a fucking slut.” Taehyung’s eyes fluttered and he moaned happily.

“Damn right I do. I feel like a fucking slut. But don’t be telling me that when you’re fucking yourself back on Jungkook like you need dick to survive. You’re ruined,” Taehyung was smirking up at him now, even as his body rocked against the mattress with every thrust, his voice low and crackling. “I’m not calling you ‘sir’ when you look like that.”

Jimin growled and thrust faster. Jungkook had to grab onto his arms and suck air in through his nose, forehead pressing against his back.

Jimin wore out eventually, thrusts becoming gracefully erratic, his arms trembling with the weight of holding Taehyung up for so long. His head flopped forward and he moaned quick and distressed at the end of every breath.

Jungkook took over, grabbing Jimin’s hips and taking control, steering them and hunching Jimin over till he just collapsed on top of Taehyung in a panting heap, pressing the bar all the way into Taehyung’s chest, who gasped, wide-eyed, and moaned out loud. His stockinged legs framed Jimin’s leather-strapped back. Jungkook somehow found the bed through the mess of legs and bodies, braced his arms, and started threw all his weight into pounding into Jimin. Jimin keened and managed to get his legs under his hips enough to put himself at a good angle to keep pounding into Taehyung too.

“Not. Fucking. Enough.” Taehyung grunted. Jimin brought and hand up and smacked his ass. “Sir!”

“Good girl,” Jungkook said, giggling.

“Jiminie, sir, fuck me harder, please, please fuck me harder.”

“Can’t move…” Jimin groaned.

“That was amazing, Jiminie,” Jungkook murmured into his back. “The way you move is fucking beautiful. I could get high just watching you.”

Jimin moaned “Thank you, sir.”

Taehyung abruptly moaned louder. “Jimin, I’ve never, ugh. Fuck. I’ve never seen you so submissive. I can’t…It’s so hot. Jungkook, you don’t know how weird this is. He never bottoms for me. I never get to see this. I wanna…glare at me all you want, sir; I’m not gonna shut up. Jungkook, I wanna see you tie him to the bed and put a collar on him. I wanna see you fuck him with a ball gag and a blindfold.”

Jimin made a couple very odd noise somewhere between surprised, distressed, and hopelessly turned on.

“Yeah, whimper, Jiminie. Like a bitch in heat. Like the dirty slut I know you are—”

Jimin tightened frantically around Jungkook’s cock and for a moment Jungkook thought the world was ending, swallowed up by impossibly tight heat and a throaty, loud sound like moaning. He blinked his eyes open and realized that his elbows had given out and Jimin was whining under him. He gave a slow thrust. Jimin tightened up again, gasping with oversensitivity, and Jungkook realized he’d just come from Taehyung mocking him. Jungkook pushed himself up. Jimin had his face hidden in a gleefully grinning Taehyung’s chest.

“Get him off,” Taehyung said. “I can’t breath.”

Jungkook pulled out and carefully pulled Jimin’s limp, heavy body off of Taehyung’s, who groaned loudly and slowly lowered his feet back onto the sheets, grimacing. Jungkook got Jimin over Taehyung’s knee and let him flop over beside them to come down, eyes closed and breathing deeply.

Jungkook ripped his condom off, put another on, and straightened his hat, which made Taehyung giggle.

“Ready, ma’am?” Jungkook asked.

“Yes officer.”

He thrust fast and hard into Taehyung’s body, then stayed there deep and grabbed the spreader bar with one hand, pushing it experimentally forward to watch the way Taehyung’s eyes glazed over, and then punched forward at a rapid pace, heavy and hard. His hat fell off. Taehyung went mindless, moaning and yelling, eyes shut and mouth open, arms tight in the cuffs, wiggling to try to thrust back onto his cock, but between the cuffs and the spreader bar in Jungkook’s grip, he couldn’t move.

Jungkook had already been close when Jimin finished, and the pressure built quickly from there with beautiful Taehyung giving him eyes beneath him, the choker definitely twisted up, the bow almost all the way out of his hair. He closed his eyes and chased it until it washed over him. He hummed contentedly and rode it out slowly in Taehyung’s ass, then pulled out and stripped the condom off.

He crawled up over Jimin, who turned a little towards him, still blissed out and flushed red, and kissed him hungrily, sinking into it.

“Officer?” Taehyung asked, voice unusually high. “Hey, officer. Sir, either one of you. Please either get me off or let me free. Officer? Hey!”

Jimin and Jungkook smirked and continued kissing. Jimin made quiet, adorable noises when they kissed.

“Kookie!”

“That’s not what you’re supposed to call me.”

“Get me out of these cuffs.”

Jungkook smiled and kissed down the side of Jimin’s neck, grabbing the straps to haul him closer.

“Not that this isn’t hot, but it’s really not what I need right now. Let me out!”

“Call me sir.”

“You don’t fucking deserve it! Jungkook! Get me out.”

“Hey, this reminds me of something awfully similar that you did to me the first time we had sex. Does it remind you of when you tied me up and then wouldn’t let me go after you came?”

“I didn’t fucking do it for this long!” Taehyung shrieked. “I’m fucking dying! My dick hurts!”

“You already came once this evening,” Jimin said calmly, his hands running up and down Jungkook’s sides.

“I fucking hate you both! I hope you get abducted by aliens! I hope you trip on a cracked sidewalk and knock over a hot guy in the middle of crowded street, and I hope he gives you shit for it!”

Jungkook laughed. “Those are costume cuffs. You could totally get yourself out right now if you wanted too.”

Taehyung started fiddling frantically with the cuffs. It was obvious he’d never had costume cuffs as a child. While he was preoccupied with that, Jungkook slid between his legs and swallowed his cock as far down his throat as he could manage. Taehyung froze and moaned desperately while Jungkook shoved two fingers back up his ass and focused on giving him the best blowjob he’d ever attempted. Jimin pet Jungkook’s hair and then slid his hand slowly up to slip his fingers between Taehyung’s lips. Taehyung opened up wide, licking and sucking with those beautiful pink lips and his long clever tongue, eyes closed in concentration.

“You look like a ten-dollar whore, baby girl,” Jimin said, and Taehyung moaned throatily and sucked harder. “Jungkook, look at this.”

Jungkook pulled off long enough to murmur, “I am,” and then went back down on him. Taehyung’s hips bucked, and he came down Jungkook’s throat without warning. Jungkook swallowed, flinching, and then pulled off, trying not to gag. Taehyung went completely limp on the sheets, panting, his face slack.

Jimin wiped his hand off on the sheets and then un-cuffed Taehyung’s hands and massaged his wrists. Jungkook removed the spreader bar and carefully straightened his legs. Taehyung groaned and grimaced, legs twitching. “Really hurts,” he whispered.

“Lie still, sweetheart. We’ll take care of you,” Jungkook murmured, kissing his forehead. Jimin was already ambling to the bathroom with his leather straps and broad shoulders to get a wet washcloth. Jungkook removed the rest of Taehyung’s costume pieces and then cleaned Taehyung up as he watched Jimin do the same, maneuvering the maze of leather straps.

“That was awesome, guys,” Jimin said a few minutes later when they were curled around Taehyung, who had just opened his eyes and was blinking dazedly at the ceiling. “Go team.”

“I learned some weird shit about you two today,” Jungkook said.

“I’m going to be covered in bruises tomorrow,” Taehyung muttered.

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Jimin said. “You make a good maid. Maybe you should come clean my apartment sometime.”

“Fuck you,” Taehyung said, slinging an arm over his face. “Go get eaten by a titan.”

Jimin giggled and met Jungkook’s eyes across Taehyung.

“That was hot AF, Jungkook. Where the fuck did you learn to take charge like that?”

“You’re both always so surprised. I’ve had sex before. I watch porn. I’m pretty confident. I’m not sure I’m the best at sex yet, but I feel like I can do the attitude.”

“Speaking of best at sex,” Taehyung said, glancing at Jimin, “You need an award. Way to make a weird position work for you. I thought I was gonna die watching you work yourself up on us like that.” Jimin smiled bashfully. “Now both of you shut up. I need to sleep.” They were quiet for all of ten seconds and Taehyung fell asleep.

“He’s adorable,” Jungkook giggled. “Look at that. He’s so quiet. He’s not making any weird faces.”

Jimin smiled softly across at him. “You’re adorable when you sleep too. So shut up and go to sleep. Don’t you have work tomorrow?”

“Not till the evening, but yeah. I’ll sleep. I take all I can get these days.”

“Goodnight, officer.”

Jungkook giggled again, and the fell asleep with his face in Taehyung’s shoulder and his hand clasped with Jimin’s over his stomach.

 

Thursday on November 3rd was a bit of a dead night at The Bar Bar. Namjoon and Jungkook both sat, leaning over the counter to chat.

“I’m going to get rid of cable,” Jungkook said.

“That’ll cut down costs a little bit. I did that last year. Have you thought about getting rid of your phone or internet too?”

Jungkook snorted. “I need those to survive. I think I can safely get rid of cable. I usually play video games with the TV anyway.”

“How much money do you spend on that?”

“Besides the electricity bill? Nothing anymore. I’ve gotten a couple new games for Christmas and stuff like that over the past two years, but I haven’t bought myself a new game in, like three years now.”

“At least you don’t have car insurance to deal with. And gas.”

“Holy shit, I really need a car. Don’t remind me.”

“You’re doing fine without one.”

“Oh yeah? You try to walk to and from the grocery store on a hot afternoon in the middle of summer with a shit ton of bags that you have to get into the fridge.”

“You have me. I’ll always drive you.”

“Maybe I can be a manager here. God knows the Bee Company is never going to promote me. I need to get out of that place. Maybe I should find a different secondary job, like the Coffee Fox or something.”

Namjoon snorted. “You want to be a hipster barista? Join the SCAD train? Start dressing like your hot boyfriend?”

Jungkook snickered. “Jimin’s my boyfriend yet, but damn he dresses well. I just might.”

“I’m kidding. I love those guys. The Coffee Fox is probably better than working at the Bee Company. You’re good at making drinks and obviously you think its fun. Maybe you’d increase their business and they’d pay you for it.”

Jungkook laughed.

“I’m not kidding. Your smile is something else, kid. Business picked up after you started working here.”

“Wait, what?”

“It did. Not by very much, but some people started coming more often, like that middle-aged woman that always parks herself at the end and talks loudly to her friends. Before you arrived she was a once-or-twice-a-week kind of patron. Now she’s here nearly every night. There are a few others. I know I’ve enjoyed working here a lot more since you showed up. You make good conversation. That’s important,” Namjoon said. Jungkook smiled bashfully.

“I’ll think about switching jobs. Don’t tell Taehyung. If I get the job, I want to see him flip out when he sees me behind the counter.”

Yoongi sidled up beside them. “Hey Namjoon. Jungkook, what’s this I hear about Jimin fucking two girls from the architecture department last night?”

Jungkook shrugged. “Hadn’t heard about it.”

Namjoon flinched. “Yikes. Thought you were dating him. I mean, I get Taehyung, but letting him sleep with other random people?”

“We just both sleep with other people.”

“Open relationship?” Yoongi asked.

“Not a relationship at all yet.”

Yoongi shook his head, frustrated. “Jungkook, you are dating the cutest, sweetest, kindest, sexiest man I have ever met, and you haven’t locked him down yet? What is wrong with you? Have some balls! Make some demands if you want to keep him.”

Jungkook cringed a little. “Don’t know if we’re there yet? I want to move things further, but I don’t know if he’d be up for that.”

“I have no fucking idea, but the limbo you two are in right now can’t be doing a lot for either of you.”

Jungkook wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, but thinking about his relationship with Jimin suddenly felt more stressful. When he got home that night he could barely get in bed fast enough, rolling Taehyung onto his back and snuggling into his shoulder, one leg thrown over his hips.

“Hard night at work, honey?”

“So fucking stressed.”

Taehyung hummed and started scratching gentle circles in Jungkook’s scalp. “Did you know that alligators can die of stress? They can’t effectively get rid of chemicals that stress produces. Be glad you’re not an alligator.”

“Pretty sure I wouldn’t have to work at the Bee Company if I was an alligator.”

Taehyung yawned. “Imagine if society was full of walking, talking animals, taking our jobs and owning businesses and shit. Maybe the world would be less racist if we had a bunch of different species.”

“Then the different species would just get all the hate. It has to get vented somewhere.”

“Hm. I hope that’s not true. I don’t think you’d be an alligator, though. I think you’d be a black bear or a badger or something.”

“I don’t think I’m fierce enough to be either of those things. You’d be a squirrel.”

“I accept that. Maybe you’d be a llama.”

“God no.”

“Black rat snake.”

“These keep getting worse.”

“Namjoon would be crow because they’re really smart. Yoongi would be something really grumpy, but pretty.”

“Poodle?”

“Oh god, yes. Seokjin’s a sparrow, Hoseok’s a Jack Russell, Jimin’s a fucking caribou or something.”

“What am I?”

“Hm.” Taehyung traced his fingers thoughtfully along Jungkook’s jaw and across his lips. “I suppose you’d probably hate it if I said a worker bee.”

“I would make you go sleep on the couch.”

Taehyung tilted his chin up to look at his face, and Jungkook could see the dim streetlight painting the planes his face in ugly yellow, his hair shining. He looked soft and ephemeral. “I might stick with bear. One of the smaller, less aggressive ones. What do you think you’d be?”

“I could get on board with being a bear. I get to hibernate in a warm cave half the year, right?”

“Yeah, but you’d be alone. I know you wouldn’t like that.”

Jungkook snorted. “That’s just accurate, though.”

“Not exactly,” Taehyung said, pulling him in close and snuggling into his hair. “Squirrels kind of hibernate, and I’d be warmer with you.”

Chapter Text

On Saturday, Taehyung popped up at his door. “Do you know what day it is?”

“Uh, Saturday? November fifth?”

“Exactly! Remember, remember, the fifth of November.”

Jungkook blinked.

“Please tell me you’ve seen V for Vendetta.”

“Oh my god!” Jungkook yelled. “It’s the fifth of November!”

“Thank Jesus, finally you’ve seen something worth watching. I’ve got the DVD! We’re watching it!” He put his laptop down in Jungkook’s lap and said “Violá! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissittudes of Fate,” as he popped opened the DVD case and removed it with flair, “This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished.”

“Holy shit, did you memorize that entire speech?”

Taehyung slid the DVD into the drive on the side of his computer as he continued, loudly, “However, the valorous visitation of a bygone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.”

He nearly knocked Jungkook over swiping a large V across his chest with a finger, and climbed on top of him, yelling “The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous.”

“You keep spitting on me!” Jungkook yelled, wiping his face furiously as Taehyung snickered and sat back.

“Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.”

“Are you, like, a crazy person?” Jungkook quoted in a bad British accent, giggling.

“I am quite sure they will say so,” Taehyung answered.

“You can bet your nickname is going to be V from now on. That was awesome.”

Taehyung quoted his way through the entire movie. Jungkook got distracted partway through the prison scene with Evey, and watched Taehyung sprawled out on the couch, knees weirdly pretty through the holes in his light blue jeans. He had a big white knit sweater on that swamped him and hung unevenly on his shoulders, showing his sharp collarbones making him look smaller. The orange hair was growing out, lying in fluffy layers across his forehead. “I need a Guy Fawkes mask,” he said.

“You just love chaos, don’t you?”

“Chaotic neutral, that’s me.”

As the movie finished, Jungkook glanced back over at Taehyung, who had his sweater pulled up to his soft lips as he watched, long fingers peeking out of his sweater paws. He crawled on top of him and snuggled in. “Wow, this sweater is nice. It’s, like, heavy and silky instead of fluffy.” He felt impossibly cuddleable, all hard muscles under the soft fabric, gentle heat and the smell of laundry detergent.

“Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpower treason and plot,” Taehyung said absent-mindedly, releasing the sweater and scratching at Jungkook’s scalp. “I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.”

“It’s so huge on you. I bet we could both fit in it.” He wiggled under the hem, and Taehyung wasn’t wearing a shirt underneath. Taehyung pulled the sweater over Jungkook’s back until he forced his head out the top, right in front of his face. “This this is so comfortable.”

“It’s my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.”

“Ok, V. Kiss me?”

“There is a face under this mask, but it’s not me.”

“Oh shut up,” Jungkook said, and kissed him. His lips were so warm. He kissed Taehyung till he had him pliant and sighing against his lips, and then unbuttoned his pants and gave him a slow handjob just to hear him making those soft, deep moans on his breath and see the way his lips parted and his eyebrows drew together. Taehyung’s arms flopped limply away from Jungkook’s shoulders, lying on either side of his head. Jungkook had never seen him so still and quiet, yet awake, the ever-present energy completely absent.

He moaned a little louder as he got close, and his back arched weakly off the couch. Jungkook drank in the way hair slid in layers across his scalp, the way the tendons in his neck flexed, and the way he looked almost like he might be crying when he came into Jungkook’s waiting hand.

He went to the bathroom and washed his hands off. Taehyung joined him groggily, to wipe the rest of the spunk off his dick, and then dropped to his knees right there in the bathroom.

“What?”

“Your turn.”

“I wasn’t going to make you do that.”

Taehyung frowned up at him. “I want too. We’re friends with benefits. That’s how this works. There’s no way you did that just because you wanted to.”

“I did though.”

Taehyung looked a little confused, and muttered, “I want to do this, then.” He pulled Jungkook carefully out of his jeans and wrapped his mouth around the tip. Jungkook decided there was no reason to resist and enjoyed the quick but lazy blowjob, leaning back against the bathroom counter with his hands in Taehyung’s soft orange hair. Each small, breathy noise he made rang in the small room, and Taehyung’s pretty eyes flickered up to his face, an orange-haired innocence completely at odd with the way he lovely lips stretched around his cock. When he curled forward and came easily into Taehyung’s waiting mouth, Taehyung moaned at loud around his dick and sucked him through it.

Taehyung wiped his wet mouth with his sweater paw and Jungkook’s knees gave, dropping him down in a slouch on top of Taehyung’s thighs. They stared at each other for a moment. “You are a thing of beauty when you come,” Taehyung said, “I would suck you off again right now to see that face. You’re so pretty.”

If Jungkook hadn’t already been flushed right down below his shirt collar, he would have blushed. He suddenly didn’t know where to look, and ended up running a hand through his hair nervously as he stared at the floor. Taehyung cooed. Jungkook rolled his eyes, grabbed the front of his fluffy sweater, and reeled him in for a deep, slow kiss full of soft lips and dragging tongues.

“Don’t make it gay. Jeez,” Taehyung said. Jungkook snorted and kept kissing. Taehyung pulled back, looking overwhelmed. “I mean this feels all emotional and shit. This is how you’re supposed to kiss Jimin, not me.”

“I kiss Jimin all sorts of ways,” Jungkook said, “I like kissing like this.”

“I don’t like it. I’ve never been much of a kisser.”

Jungkook frowned. “Ok. We can stop.”

Taehyung blinked, then scooted out from under Jungkook and stood gracefully, checking himself in the mirror. Jungkook stayed on the floor and tucked himself back into his pants, staring at the thin strip of skin he could see below the hem of Taehyung’s sweater while his arms were raised to his hair. Taehyung rolled his hips a little. “You like that?”

Jungkook nodded. Taehyung snickered and pulled the hem of his sweater up a little. Jungkook rose up on his knees and happily nuzzled his face into Taehyung’s abs.

“Can you feel the baby kicking?” Taehyung asked. Jungkook bit him.

They went back to the living room and Taehyung sprawled out on the couch again, but his knees pulled together like a wall, so Jungkook had to sit on his side of the couch.

“Food network?” Taehyung asked.

“I got rid of cable. It’s video games or nothing, pretty much.”

Taehyung groaned but reached for a controller.

“You know I’m bad at this.”

Playing games with Taehyung was always halfway between a frustrating experience and the funniest fucking thing in the world because he was so bad at it. Jungkook knew better than to play smash bros or Mario Kart with him. Taehyung liked going on joy rides off the course to try and find short cuts, and his strategy in Smash Bros was to run away as long as possible and make his character do really dumb shit in the corner.

He put in Grand Theft Auto 5. “You ever played GTA?”

“Have I ever played what?”

“If you haven’t, you’re going to love it, V.”

And he did. Jungkook didn’t even play. He just gave Taehyung the controller and let him fuck around for hours. Jungkook tallied up thirty-seven totaled cars, two motorcycles, five helicopters, and a jet. Taehyung was just getting a better handle on the controls when Jungkook had to get up and go to work. Taehyung remained shrieking on the couch as he wildly beat up a passerby.

“Hey, can you do me a favor this weekend?” he asked, key smashing his way through a police chase.

“What is it?”

“There’s this hot freshman I want to take home for a romantic evening between the sheets, if you know what I mean, but I don’t have a bed. Can I just use your apartment for a few hours? This place looks nice and its always clean.”

Jungkook stood in the doorway, ready to leave, raking through the waves of indignant jealousy to try to consider the request properly. “Are you going to tell him its yours?”

“Nah. I’d be honest. He’s just kind of a princess, so I doubt he’d be dtf on a sleeping bag or a futon.”

“Um. Ok. Just let me know beforehand so I can be up in your apartment by the time you get here.”

“Great. It’ll be within the next few days.”

Jungkook huffed and left. With any luck he’d be at work the entire time and wouldn’t have to deal with it.

 

He wasn’t at work. Taehyung texted him on a rare evening off on Friday night, and Jungkook gathered his stuff, and a black-light flashlight, and raced up to Taehyung’s apartment. He immediately flicked the flashlight on and sat down in front of the wall covered in white crayon. Taehyung wasn’t wrong. It was a complete mess, but Jungkook could just make out Beauty and the Beast. He’d even tried stained glass as a style at the beginning, and then moved onto his sharp, bug-eyed cartoon style.

He had a hard time figuring it out, but it looked like Belle tamed both the beast and the wolves in the woods and led them in an attack on the village to kill Gaston. They went off to live with the wolves like a cross between the Jungle Book and Tarzan. Belle left the Beast for Gaston’s little side-kick. Jungkook was not disappointed.

He had plenty of time to burn, so he called Jimin and found him in the middle of a project, but quite happy to take a break and chat.

“Can’t get these frames to transition smoothly,” he growled. Jungkook whined about wanting his bed back.

“You agreed to this, bruh.”

“Yeah I know. I’ll wait it out. His apartment sucks to be in though. No wonder he’s never here. I’m gonna read one of his books or something.”

“Read a whole manga series. Find the girliest one he owns a read that. It’ll probably keep your spirits up pretty effectively. Those things are cute. Also, I just unironically used the word ‘bruh,’ and you didn’t even call me out on it.”

“Why…would I have called you out on it?”

“Because it’s funny and dumb?”

“I say that all the time,” Jungkook said quietly.

Jimin snickered. “You’re such a bro. I love it. You’re so cute. I love it when you wear snapbacks. I’m gonna start teasing you when you say that though.”

“Why?”

“It is to me what the word ‘aesthetic’ is to you.”

Jungkook had to laugh. “Yeah, ok. It’s pretty dumb.”

“Half the time, so is ‘aesthetic,’ but we’re all artists, so at least its relevant.”

“Nope. You’re all irrelevant all the time.”

He could practically hear Jimin smile through his frustrated sigh.

“Well speaking of dumb and irrelevant, I have to struggle through this minor assignment, so I should probably get back to work.”

The empty apartment felt really melancholy with all the lamps sitting on the floor and no TV to fill the silence. Somewhere downstairs Taehyung was fucking someone that wasn’t him on his bed. He glared at the weird-ass Beauty and the Beast on the opposite wall. Was Taehyung fingering someone open on his sheets? Was he sitting on someone’s dick the way he sank down on Jungkook’s the first time they’d fucked? Maybe he was sucking them off, bright orange hair getting in his eyelashes. Maybe he shouldn’t be thinking about that right after talking to Jimin.

Jungkook moodily figured out how to read comic books backwards, and then read halfway through some sickeningly sweet manga called Fruits Basket before he realized he was super hungry and Taehyung had no food in his house. He texted Taehyung and asked if it was okay to come back down yet. It had been over three hours. Taehyung said sure, so he gathered up his stuff and rushed down. He had leftover cake in the fridge. He needed that fucking cake.

He’d figured Taehyung and his fuck buddy would be in the bedroom, but they weren’t. They were out on the living room couch drinking something, and Jungkook did a double take. Taehyung’s hook up was Zitao from high school, the one guy he’d ever had a fling with, and it had been a big mistake. He was sitting shirtless and messy on the couch, hair askew, make-up smudged. He knew what Zitao looked like after a good fuck.

“uhhh…” That was definitely guilt rolling in his stomach.

“Jungkook? Is this your apartment?”

“Do you two know each other?” Taehyung asked.

“Hey, Zitao, your hair is black. Looks good.”

“Thanks. It’s been a fucking year since you talked to me.”

“I’m just gonna grab food and leave. Ignore me.” He rushed to the kitchen.

“No, wait. Hold up. You’re not getting away this time, asshole,” Zitao said, getting up off the couch and backing Jungkook into a corner.

“Whoa,” Taehyung said.

“What happened with you?” Zitao said. “I mean I get it if you were freaked out. I know you’re straight. I’m sorry for pushing you, but you could have just talked to me instead of brushing me off for a year.”

“Hah. Um. No, that’s not what it was.”

Zitao looked a little confused. “Was it me then? What happened?”

“It’s…um.” He could see Taehyung leaning on the kitchen counter with one hand over his mouth looking comically shocked. “Well first, I was never straight, Zitao. I lied. About that.”

Zitao blinked a bit, eyes widening. “Oh,” his high voice sounded a little lost. “Then why did you stop talking to me?”

Jungkook bit his lip. “I had been. Flirting. with Sehun Oh. And then I hooked up with you.”

Zitao backed off. “Fucking Sehun. Ok. Yeah, I get it.”

Zitao’s and Sehun’s hatred for each other in high school had been infamous. Zitao had been the rich, fashion obsessed, tall, blond, Asian, gay guy. Sehun had been the sandy beach bum tall, blond, Asian gay guy; the “other one.” Sehun had been the only person in high school that Jungkook ever told about his being gay, and they’d nearly gotten together, and then Zitao had reeled him in at a party when he was too drunk to properly consider the consequences. Sehun had looked completely broken the next day, curled over his desk in the back corner of math class. It still made Jungkook’s hands shake to think about it.

“I hate that guy,” Zitao said, but he looked sad. “One of my best friends started hooking up with him this summer, and now he doesn’t talk to me anymore.”

“I don’t get it,” Jungkook said, “You’re both cool people.”

Zitao snorted. “I’m a bitch. He’s a fucking angel or something.”

Jungkook realized he couldn’t actually disagree with that. “I’m sorry, Zitao. I didn’t realize you would care.”

“You thought I just wanted sex, and that was it?”

He shifted a little. “Yeah?”

Zitao shrugged. “I mean, fair, but refusing to even be near me after that was a dick move.”

“I thought you knew about Sehun and me, and that’s the only reason you wanted to hook up with me in the first place. You kind of, I don’t know, made a habit of stealing his guys.”

Zitao leveled him with a look that made him cringe back against the cabinets. “That was one time. I thought you were straight, idiot.”

“You’ve done it at least three times. He told me it was twice before you did it with me.”

Zitao cringed. He looked really fragile in the darkened kitchen, arms crossed tightly over his rail thin body. “Five. I’ve done it five times. It was only intentional once.”

“Oh.”

Taehyung’s gaze bounced between the two of them like he was watching a tennis match.

“I’m gonna go,” Zitao muttered at Taehyung.

Taehyung pouted and Jungkook yelped, “No no, please stay. I’ll just go back upstairs. I’m sorry. Didn’t want to interrupt. I’ll just grab food and go.”

He yanked open his fridge. “Taehyung? What happened to my cake?”

“Oh I ate that shit yesterday.”

Jungkook sagged against the side of the fridge, then grabbed a bottle of whiskey out of the cabinet, and walked out, giving Zitao a wide berth. Taehyung laughed nervously behind him.

Fifteen minutes later, Taehyung came up to find him. He was already slumped sideways on the couch, liquor bottle dangling from his fingers.

“Oh shit. I thought you were kidding with the alcohol. You’ve gotta come back downstairs and eat something. I’m sorry about the cake.”

“Zitao’s gone?”

“Yeah, he’s gone. You’ve got history with him, huh?”

“He’s the other guy I’ve hooked up with, besides you and Jimin. He thought I was bi-curious, or something. I kinda…I don’t know, betrayed this other kid when I started messing with him.”

“Yeah, I heard. Dick move, honey. You little player.”

“I felt terrible. Sehun didn’t talk to me after that, and I didn’t want to be around Zitao.”

“And Zitao’s done that five times?”

“I only knew about three. I guess he’s done it twice since me.” He raised the bottle of whiskey to his mouth again. Taehyung watched him suck down a few swigs. “I wonder how Sehun’s doing.”

“I think Zitao had a serious crush on you.”

“Oh god, don’t tell me that.”
“He seemed kinda torn up after you left.”

“Fuuuuuuuuuuuck.”

Taehyung coaxed him downstairs and onto his own couch. “Thanks for not doing that before I had sex with him, I guess. I had a great night. How much of this have you had?”

“I don’t know. It was almost full when I started.”

“Fuck. That’s a lot. I’m gonna get you some food. You lie down.”

Taehyung had left the whiskey on the table. Jungkook grabbed it. A couple minutes later he heard Taehyung mutter “fuck,” and pull it from his hand. “Jesus Christ, Kookie. What’s going on with you today?”

“I hate thinking about Sehun. I feel terrible. So much regret.”

“Here. Pretzels. Go ham.”

Jungkook ripped the package open and shoved a handful in his face, still whining at Taehyung.

“Okay, honey, I get it. You’re a dick. People got hurt. Why the hell did you drink more than a quarter of a bottle of whiskey in thirty minutes?”

“Good question.”

It was a testament to Taehyung’s patience and friendship when he sat behind Jungkook and rubbed his back while he threw up into the toilet ten minutes later.

“Everything sucks and I’m not ok.”

“Baby,” Taehyung cooed and pet his hair. “You’ll survive. I promise.”

“I wanna sleep.”

“I’m gonna give you another few minutes to get this out of your system.”

“I’m not even that drunk!”

“Trust me, you’re wasted. Drinking a bunch of poison really fast will get you both wasted, and sick. Bad way to handle things, dude. You have terrible emotional coping skills. I’d hate to ever see you in a real crisis.”

Jungkook fell asleep with his face on the toilet seat, and Taehyung finally got him up and dragged him to bed. Everything felt dark and wobbly, even Taehyung’s warm arms. He passed out curled up against Taehyung as he hummed a slow and ominous lullaby that sounded suspiciously like it was from Pirates of the Caribbean.

 

On the second night of Thanksgiving break, Jungkook ran into another memory from high school when he turned around to get an order someone who was calling for his attention and came face to face with Kris Wu, the most charismatic and socially iconic member of his graduating class.

“I know for a fact you’re not twenty-one.”

“I have an ID that says that I am.”

Jungkook stood there for a minute, calculating, as Kris gave him a significant stare with those intimidating eyebrows. He had Yongseon with him. Jungkook had always liked her. “What can I get you both?”

Kris smirked triumphantly. He mixed both him and Yongseon a Long Island Iced Tea, turned around to hand it to them and found Jimin on his knees on a bar stool, leaning across the counter. “Jimin I thought you were going home!” He yelped, setting the drinks down fast to let Jimin pull him in for a kiss.

“Car broke down. Can’t go home for break. Staying here with you and Taehyung instead.”

“You’re still bi-curious?” Kris asked, nodding to indicate Jimin.

“Gay, actually,” Jungkook said.

“Ah. That your boyfriend then?” Kris asked.

Jimin laughed. “We’re something, at least.”

Jungkook gathered up payment for the drinks as Jimin grinned and giggled like a happy puppy on the bar stool. Taehyung sauntered up behind up behind Jimin and bit his neck. Jungkook completely ignored them as they flailed around and knocked over a few bar stools.

Taehyung had on a letterman’s jacket made of fabric scraps that Jungkook vaguely remembered. It was somehow very Taehyung, his “aesthetic,” if Jungkook dared to use the word. It really was a ridiculous piece of clothing.

“Your hipster scaddy boyfriends are fucking shit up over there,” Kris told him.

“My what’s? Who? Never seen them before. Namjoon! Please throw those two assholes in the broom closet to quiet down for a bit?”

Taehyung hated the broom closet. It was full of cockroaches. Namjoon stalked towards him and he crawled under a pool table to hide.

“Have you talked to Baekhyun and Chanyeol recently?” Kris asked.

“Not since graduation. Why?”

“You’re not the only one who’s come out since then. They’re together now. Like, Baekhyun confessed to him or something and they’re boyfriends now. I don’t really get it.”

“Huh. That’s pretty cute. They were, like, a platonic power couple or something.”

“Not so platonic, apparently.”

Jungkook chewed his lip thoughtfully. He’d been friends with them in high school. Not close, but close enough to spend some time together outside of school and sit with the same people at lunch. It was kind of odd to think of them together, and yet completely natural. He wondered if there was a not awkward way of contacting them like “hey, we all came out after high school. Let’s hang out.”

Taehyung was making out with Jimin on the pool table.

“So not actually your boyfriend then,” Kris said.

Jungkook sighed through his nose. “It’s too fucking complicated.”

After all the Snapchats he’d seen of Kris at college, he’d expected him to be a lot more of a problem, but he and Yongseon parked themselves at the end of the bar and talked quietly, giggling and sipping their drinks. Meanwhile, Taehyung challenged Jimin to a fight with the pool cues. Namjoon confiscated them and Jungkook threw a bar towel at him.

For a Wednesday night, the bar was ridiculously busy. Lots of men escaping their frantically cooking wives and last minute Thanksgiving trips to the overcrowded grocery stores, no doubt.

He finally got a break and spent the entire thing cuddling with Jimin against the bar, watching Taehyung play some weird version of pool by himself while a couple big scary men sat in the corner and ground their teeth waiting for a turn.

Taehyung fucking handed them the pool cues when he finished, basically telling them he’d been fully aware that he’d been screwing around rudely while they waited, and then skipped over to snuggle roughly against Jungkook’s shoulder, grinning and giggling, shoving him against the bar. Jungkook hugged him tightly, scratching at his orange hair.

“Sex on the beach, please!”

“Why do you always ask when I’m working? If you want to go fuck on Tybee beach so bad, remember to ask when I’m not stuck here.”

Taehyung sparkled when he laughed. Jungkook smiled and fixed him his drink. He took a long sip of it before handing it over, and had to duck away from Taehyung’s swatting hands. Taehyung attempted to dance with a very put-out Namjoon as Jungkook and Jimin cackled, and accidentally on purpose dumped a large wave down the front of Namjoon’s shirt. Namjoon locked him, shrieking, in the broom closet. Jungkook had to rescue him. He sagged onto the floor when Jungkook unlocked the door. Jungkook somehow got him into a fireman’s carry and dropped him limply on Jimin’s lap, then ran off to catch up on drink orders.

When he dropped off Yongseon’s and Kris’s second round of drinks, Kris smirked conspiratorially at him and winked.

“You know I’m not kicking you out because I like Yongseon, not you, right?”

“Fuck. Ow.”

“You can handle it,” Jungkook said.

Yongseon giggled and fist bumped him.

“Why are you rewarding him for that?”

“You can be an arrogant shit,” she said, “I appreciate it when people knock you down a peg.”

“First Sehun now you. Everyone who likes me eventually turns everyone I know against me.”

Jungkook’s stomach twisted unpleasantly. “Sehun Oh?”

“He had a crush on me. I was an asshole. He made me regret it.”

“Makes two of us,” Jungkook muttered, but Kris was too busy being smothered by a very affectionate Yongseon to hear. They were adorable, and Jungkook had to grin. “You two are so cute.”

Kris blushed, and said, “You and your boyfriend something are cuter.” And now they were both blushing.

Yongseon snickered. “You know who’s cuter than you and your boyfriend something though? You and crazy over there.” She pointed discreetly towards Taehyung, lying on the bar and making low whistling noises over the mouth of an empty beer bottle. Jungkook shook his head quickly.

“No, no way.”

“You don’t think so? You two both smile at each other the same way.”

“That’s such a weird thing to say,” Kris muttered.

“Nah, I work better with Jimin,” Jungkook laughed. “Taehyung and I wouldn’t work at all.”

Yongseon looked at him like she thought he wasn’t sure.

“No,” Jungkook told her, because that topic was even scarier than Sehun.

She agreeably changed the subject. “You really were gay then?”

“Yeah.”

“How did Jess take that?”

“Hold up. Did you know she wanted to date me?” he said.

“Everyone knew she was after you. She’d been trying to get you to date her since sophomore year.”

Jungkook sighed hard. “She, well, she hasn’t answered my texts in months.”

“I’m sorry. That must hurt. You two were practically twins in high school. We all thought she’d get you by the end.”

“She was easily half my high school experience,” Jungkook said, “and that entire friendship feels like a lie now, so yeah. It kinda sucks.”

Kris said, “She got friend-zoned.”

“I got date-zoned by my closest ally, who ditched me the minute I came out.”

Kris was quiet for a minute. “Ok. I get it.”

Yongseon rolled her eyes. “Yeah, you get it when it happens to a guy, but when a girl friend-zones someone she’s a bitch. Come on, Kris. Getting date-zoned feels awful.”

Jungkook nodded. “It feels like someone’s reduced your personality down to personal opportunity and you’re worthless if you’re not giving them exactly what they want.”

“I said I get it,” Kris said, withdrawing into his iced tea.

“He gave my friend shit for friend-zoning someone and I’ve been giving him shit back ever since,” Yongseon explained.

“I also didn’t friend-zone her,” Jungkook said. “I didn’t say ‘she’s friend material, but not girlfriend material,’ I just said, ‘I’m gay,’ and she said ‘you’re not worth my time anymore.’”

“Bitch,” Kris said.

“I wish I could just be mad and get over it, but I miss her.”

“I wanna meet this girl,” Taehyung said from right beside him, “your former best friend, my competition.”

“Jesus, V, where did you come from? Why are you on this side of the bar? Why the hell is she your competition?”

“For best friend in the world status! Stop pushing me! I’ll go on my own!”

Jimin arrived on the wrong side of the bar too and Jungkook gave up and hugged him, very aware of Yongseon and Kris staring. “Aw, poor Kookie, Taehyung making your life difficult?”

“Why won’t you kick Jimin out, huh?” Taehyung said, one foot still all the way up on the bar on the customer side. “Why just me? I’m your best friend, Kookie, not him!”

“My best friend is Namjoon! Stay on your side of the bar!” Namjoon looked up from the pool table and smiled like a deer caught in the headlights. Taehyung jumped him.

“And I thought your friends in high school were weird,” Kris said. Jungkook figured that was supposed to come off as teasing, but it just sounded rude. Instead of responding, he steered Jimin out from behind the bar, thoroughly dissatisfied with the way the evening was going.

Namjoon appeared right behind the couple as Jungkook served them their third drinks. “You three know each other?”

“We graduated together.”

“Huh. That’d make you both eighteen, right?”

“Oh fuck,” Jungkook said, jumping a little as Kris and Yongseon paled, “I forgot you were the bouncer. That’s on me,” he chuckled a little, “I mean, I lied. They totally graduated three years ago.”

Namjoon had his thick, tattooed forearms crossed authoritatively over his chest as he stared them down. “Wanna see my ID?” Kris asked.

“No. I think I’m gonna take Jungkook’s word on this,” he drawled, low, slow, and threatening.

Jungkook fought a grin. Namjoon would never actually throw them out of the bar, because acknowledging that he’d just learned their ages would incriminate Jungkook for actually serving them drinks, but Namjoon loved to scare people.

Kris stood up, probably to assert his manliness or something, and was suddenly at least three inches taller than Namjoon. Namjoon actually snorted. “If you need us to go we’ll fuckin go, but you could also do your job right and look at my ID and not just listen to what your underage bartender blurts out.”

Namjoon didn’t flinch. He started up evenly into Kris’s face, his best game face on. There was absolute silence between them for a few charged seconds. Jungkook could see Yongseon gripping Kris’s hand on the counter.

“Are you wearing makeup?” Kris asked.

Namjoon leaned around his wide shoulders and grinned at Jungkook. “Your friends are all so cute. Sit your tall ass down; I ain’t throwing you out. That’d probably get Jungkook in deep shit.”

“Are you wearing makeup?” Jungkook asked him, since he hadn’t answered.

“Yeah. Hoseok and Yoongi put some on me. I look fuckin great.”

“I know how that feels. Taehyung keeps drawing all over my face with whatever he can find in his bathroom. We’ve both willingly been abducted by arty students who treat us like mannequins and practically force stupid shit on us.”

“After all the shit-talking we did all summer,” Namjoon agreed. “Damn, we’re desperate for friends, scraping the bottom of the barrel and abandoning our principles.”

Kris sat back down looking a little lost. “You’re not scary,” he said.

“Don’t let the eyeliner fool you,” Namjoon said. “I’m a monster.”

“You’re wearing lipstick,” Taehyung yelled, and Namjoon’s face shifted into a sheepish, half-annoyed, half-amused smile, showing his dimples and the way his eyes arched, officially turning him into a human-sized, tattooed teddy bear rather than a terrifying bouncer. Kris relaxed completely onto his stool. Yongseon patted Namjoon on the cheek. Friendship was established. The evening progressed much more smoothly from there.

 

Jungkook’s mother made Thanksgiving dinner for all three of them because she was an angel. “And your father might stop by,” she said, after they’d already walked in the door.

“Seriously? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I thought it might scare you off of bringing your friends.”

“You were right. Can I send them home?”

She gave him a stern look and then turned his attention to Taehyung, who was sitting on the floor in front of the oven as if viewing the gates to heaven itself.

“I SMELL TURKEY.”

“Your friend. He’s. Um…”

“He’s nuts. Just roll with it and try not to let him destroy anything.”

As Taehyung talked about majoring in Illustration with Mom, Jungkook pulled Jimin aside. “So my Dad might show up.”

“You have a Dad? Of course you have a Dad. I’m stupid. So he might show up. Is that good or bad?”

“Hard to say. He’s not a bad guy. We’re friends. He’s just even worse off than we are and he’s never been around very much. He might have a drinking problem? We’re not sure. Point is, things are always awkward when he’s around because he has a different idea about where he stands in our lives than we do.”

Taehyung was remarkably well behaved. He didn’t look through any cabinets or knock over any furniture, and when he dumped potatoes all over the table, he apologized about twenty times.

Mom made the mistake of asking Taehyung what his hobbies were in his free time.

“Oh here we go,” Jimin muttered.

“I have a list. It’s really long. You ready?”

“I guess so,” she answered, smiling.

“I like drawing stuff, either from life or just from my head, running around the city, visiting coffee shops, trying to learn guitar, singing on River Street to see if people will give me money, trying to perfect my nacho recipe,”

The list went on. Instead of getting aggravated, Mom looked more pleased the longer he talked. Jungkook realized he’d looked towards the door five times in two minutes. Jimin slid his hand into Jungkook’s under the table and rubbed soothing circles against his thumb. Jungkook relaxed a little.

The list had turned into a conversation on the merits of learning magic tricks. Jimin said, quietly “Could you please pass the stuffing?” and as Jungkook passed with his non-dominant hand, since Jimin was still holding his right, he said, “Thanks, honey.”

At the pet name, his mom’s gaze immediately flashed towards the pair, zeroed in on the awkward way Jungkook was handling the stuffing plate, the hand in which Jimin received it, and then glanced down towards their hands as if she could see right through the table. She gave Jungkook a very significant Look. Moms. Fucking Psychics. He felt himself blushing right down to his chest. Jimin remained oblivious. Taehyung, however, had his lips quirked up in a knowing smirk as he continued describing a card trick. He made eye contact with Mom and giggled.

“Did I miss something?” Jimin asked.

“Nope. You’re fine.” Jungkook said. Jimin did not look convinced. Taehyung snorted and then continued the conversation like nothing had happened. Mom became worryingly impassive towards everything but Taehyung’s monologue.

Jimin and Taehyung did the dishes, which left Jungkook and Mom sitting silently in the living room, nursing their food babies.

“Still going to the gym?” she asked.

“Shit’s expensive. I look up workouts online and then go do them in the park. Used the kids’ playground to do a hundred pull-ups the other day.”

“A hundred pull-ups. Why would you want to?”

“It’s a Crossfit workout called the Murph that they do to honor someone that died in Afghanistan every year. It’s a mile run, one-hundred pull-ups, two-hundred push-ups, three-hundred squats, and then another mile run, all wearing a twenty-pound vest. I don’t have the vest, but I thought it sounded brutal enough without it, so I tried it out.”

“How’d you do?”

“Took me forever. Those guys have inhuman stamina. Even without the vest it nearly killed me. I threw up.”

“Since when were you interested in Crossfit?” she asked. “I remember you saying just last year that you’d try Crossfit the day you actually bought something from Whole Foods, and that was never.”

“Hah. Yeah, I’ve done both those things now.”

Her eyes twinkled. “Will you be becoming a vegan soon too?”

He laughed.

“Is it these SCAD students?” she asked.

“Yeah. They’re breaking me out of my self-imposed shell a little bit.”

“I’m glad,” she said, “The two of us could use a little ‘unusual’ in our lives. I realized yesterday that I’ve worked the same dead-end job every day for the last fifteen years. Fifteen years, Jungkook. It’s been three years since I even left the city. My life is monotony. We both need to be weird every once and a while.”

He didn’t know what to say to that.

In the kitchen, Taehyung gave a sharp peal of laughter and started yelling something about having a Santa soap bubble beard.

“Can I keep that one?” Mom asked.

Jungkook snorted. “I’m afraid he has this thing about being tied down, and he won’t let anyone keep him.”

“You can’t have him so you settled for Jimin?” she said, kind of sharply.

“What? No! He was—He and I have been—I’ve been dating Jimin for a couple months now. Taehyung’s just my best friend.”

“Shame,” Mom said. “I like Taehyung better.”

“Mom!”

“I’m kidding. Jimin is lovely. You know them both better than I do.”

“What made you think I wanted Taehyung?”

“Don’t think I haven’t noticed the way Taehyung snuggles up to you, or the way he flirts with Jimin. If I didn’t like him so much I’d warn you to watch out for him. I might warn you anyway.”

“I don’t know what my life is anymore.”

“At least you have a boyfriend.”

“He’s not even my boyfriend.”

“You’ve been dating the man for two months and you don’t call him your boyfriend?”

Jungkook quietly voiced the fear he’d had about their relationship for a while. “He doesn’t want to stop sleeping around and I don’t want to stop sleeping with Taehyung, so we’re not official yet.”

“Those are problems. Those are definitely issues.”

“At least I think that’s what’s happening. I can’t tell.”

“I honestly have no idea what to tell you. That’s complicated.”

“Noooo, give me some Mom advice.”

“Figure out what you want? Talk it out with them?”

“No way. No to that second option. That sounds like a terrible idea.”

“Men,” she muttered. Jungkook had to smile.

“Speaking of,” she said, “don’t tell your father about, you know, boyfriends. I have no idea how he’d respond to you being gay. You might want to warn Jimin so he doesn’t give you away again, ‘honey.’”

“I don’t give a shit about what he thinks.”

“I do, though. If he responds poorly, I’m the one that will have to deal with him. Please don’t make me do that.”

Jungkook pouted into the couch cushions. “Fine.”

Now that the cat was out of the bag, Jungkook had no problem with pulling Jimin down onto the couch to sit leaning against his chest like an extra couch cushion. It was easy and affectionate, and Jungkook closed his eyes and enjoyed it. Jimin’s voice hummed against his chest every time he spoke, almost like a cat purring. Jungkook wanted to know how it would feel if it was Taehyung’s deep voice. He fell asleep, too many shifts at the Bee Company catching up to him.

Jimin shook him awake some time later. “It’s already eleven. I think we should go home now.”

Jungkook opened his eyes and found Taehyung’s resting his chin on the couch a foot away from his face, smiling cheerfully.

“You ok, honey?” his mom asked.

“So tired. I don’t sleep enough.” He shifted comfortably onto his back behind Jimin and his eyes slid closed again.

Taehyung’s heavy steps bounded away across the floor as he yelled, “We got leftovers! I’ll go grab em.”

Jimin’s weight shifted on the couch and Jungkook blinked his eyes open in time to see Jimin leaning down, then closed his eyes again and felt their lips touch gently. He kissed back sleepily. His mother’s living room couch was so comfortable for this.

“Hm,” she said.

“You two are gross. Cut it out,” Taehyung whined.

“You’re making the single people in the room feel left out,” his mother said.

“We could always kiss each other,” Taehyung told her. “Ow! Shit! Fuck, Kookie, that’s gonna bruise.”

“’Kookie,’” his mother mused, “That’s a good name. Why didn’t I ever think of that?”

Taehyung fell asleep across the back of the car on the way home. “Dad didn’t show up,” Jungkook said. “I can’t tell if I’m relieved or disappointed. Maybe I just don’t care.”

“I hope its not that option. Apathy is the worst.”

“Apathy is just neutral, though, isn’t it? Isn’t that better than feeling disappointed?”

“Are we talking about apathy?” Taehyung yawned from the backseat. “Good subject. Apathy is almost never the answer! Don’t lock yourself away from the world by responded to it with apathy! It turns you into a self-centered, uncaring, unhappy jerk!”

“That’s if your life is mainly something to be happy about,” Jungkook said, “Imagine if your family is working hard but still struggling and your Dad is never home, you deny who you are to make life easier, and everyone you know is thinking about which college major will best jumpstart their hopeful future while you’re finishing up your crappy high school education by applying to minimum wage jobs. Apathy is how I’ve survived until now. If I cared about every curveball life threw at me, I’d never get out of bed. And my life is pretty good compared to some people I know.”

The boys were silent. He hadn’t meant for that to be a shut down, so he added, “You’re right, Taehyung. Too many people are apathetic that shouldn’t be. On the other hand, some people care a lot even though their lives suck. I don’t know if I’m any happier than those people, but they’re certainly more upset and angry than I am. Don’t count apathy out so fast. Maybe theoretically my life would be more fulfilling if I cared about shit, but it certainly wouldn’t feel that way.”

Taehyung and Jimin were silent. Jungkook began to feel a little embarrassed.

“You know I love you and I want you to be happy, right?” Taehyung asked, stretching his arms over Jungkook’s shoulders and squeezing as best he could around the car seat. Jungkook turned and smiled at him. “I declare your argument valid and will take it into account on all future considerations of the topic.”

“Thanks, V.”

“It’s funny that you should call me that now, because a big message in that movie is to choose against apathy in difficult situations.”

“It’s a great movie, but I believe its talking about politics and the greater good in a situation where huge change is possible and necessary, rather than individual happiness and coping mechanisms.”

“I know. I didn’t intend to compare it that way, I was just pointing out the irony.”

Jimin dropped them off at the apartment building, and Taehyung walked right into Jungkook’s place with him, brushed his teeth with the toothbrush he left in Jungkook’s bathroom, and slid into Jungkook’s bed to sleep without further comment.

Despite his eloquent defense of apathy, Jungkook was beginning to wonder if apathy was not the right response to the whole Taehyung situation, how he felt about the way Taehyung’s hair fell across the pillow, his calm face when he settled into sleep, the way he looked naked except for two black studs in one ear.

Or the way he felt when Taehyung dropped his shields when he was half asleep and snuggled affectionately into Jungkook’s chest, the way he smelled like drawing paper and something distinct he’d come to associate with late nights and long walks through the quiet city.

He drifted to sleep thinking about lying on his mother’s couch again, but this time with Taehyung lying against his chest just like he did in bed, deep voice rumbling, a bright ball of dormant energy in his arms.

 

“Has Jimin always been this bad at answering his phone?” Jungkook asked Taehyung.

“Oh yeah. He’s terrible at phone stuff. I was surprised he did so well with you for so long, but both of us tend to stay off our phones for the most part. Finals are coming up. Don’t worry about it.”

Jungkook frowned down at his unanswered message from the previous night. “I haven’t seen him in five days, and he hasn’t texted me.”

“Like I said, finals.”

“Bitch, I work two jobs and I don’t fucking sleep and I still make time to text him every day. When was the last time you saw him?”

Taehyung came out of the bathroom, hands still messing with his newly light brown hair, the old dead stag shirt making another appearance. The brown hair looked alarmingly average after the orange. “I hung out with him after class yesterday. We had lunch and talked about how finals were swallowing his life. You should go sleep over in his dorm or something.”

Jungkook glared moodily at his phone, then threw it back on the couch and sighed.

“Why does it matter so much?” Taehyung said, shifting awkwardly. “I never text you and it’s fine.”

“You’re here every day, and you’re not my boyfriend.”

“Neither is he. He’s not obligated to take care of you, you know.”

Jungkook curled up on the couch and stared out the window. Wind blasted down between the buildings, whipping the potted plants across the road into a frenzy. The sky looked like dirty graphite smudged unevenly across a sheet of paper.

“Do you have work again today?” Taehyung asked.

“I’m at the bar tonight. The Bee Company sucked this morning. I always leave feeling shaky and stupid. God I want a boyfriend so bad.”

“Why?”

“Jimin could be, but he won’t talk to me about it.”

“I don’t get it,” Taehyung muttered, “Why would you want to be responsible for someone’s happiness?”

“That’s not what it is. When I get home and I just want to collapse, it would be nice if there was someone here who I knew wanted me around and wanted to make me feel good.”

“I’m here,” Taehyung whined.

“Well as you’ve already established, you’re not obligated too. You haven’t promised to be here whenever I need you to be, and kiss me when I walk in the door, and make us both coffee in the morning.”

Taehyung face crinkled up in distaste. “Sounds smothering.”

“See? You’d rather just take care of yourself. You’ll take care of me when you want too, but not when you have yourself to worry about too. I know you don’t want to be tied to only one person. You’d rather give up security for absolute freedom, whether it feels good or not. I don’t really care about that. I want to feel happy. I want a boyfriend.”

“And you want Jimin?” Taehyung asked quietly. He looked uncomfortable. Jungkook didn’t care.

“He’d be great. I thought that’s where we’ve been headed, but I brought it up once and he either didn’t understand what I was getting at or he changed the subject on purpose, and now I’m scared to talk about it again. Sometimes we’re so close that I forget we’re not technically together, and then he’ll do shit like not contact me for a whole week and then I’m just not sure again.”

“Talk to him about what you want.”

“But what if he wants something different than me, and I end up without even the half relationship that I have with him? I don’t think you understand how much I need this right now.”

“I don’t. I don’t get it at all.” He came and sat on the floor in front of Jungkook’s head. “Let’s go somewhere.”

“Foxy?”

“Cairo.”

Jungkook stared into his dark eyes for a moment, under his perpetually over-long bangs. He looked younger and softer again, like he had with lavender hair.

“Can we stick with Foxy? I don’t have money for plane tickets.”

Taehyung giggled. “Ok.”

They only made it down to the Coffee Fox, and Jungkook fell asleep with his head on the table as Taehyung worked on an assignment in his sketchbook. He woke up to Taehyung showing him a beautiful, simple sketch of himself sleeping, his beanie slipping sideways off his hair and one hand still wrapped loosely around his coffee mug.

 

He brought up his boyfriend hang-ups with Jimin the next week. Jimin blinked at him for a minute over one of his owl-patterned coffee mugs and then said, “You sure one week before I leave for a month is the best time to figure this out?”

Jungkook blushed. “It’s not like I planned it this way. I’ve been trying to bring it up for weeks.”

“Oh. Well I’m fine with being your boyfriend.”

“’Fine.’ You’re ‘fine’ with it.”

He looked uncertain. “Yeah? If you want to call us that, I’m totally up for it. Was that a bad thing to say? Would anything change?”

“Would anything—That’s what I’m fucking talking about you fucking artist!”

“Jeez. Ack. I’m sorry.”

“I’m not asking to call you my boyfriend like I’m fourteen or something, I’m asking you if this is going to ever be an actual relationship and not just two friends who go on dates and make-out.”

“I thought this was an actual relationship,” Jimin said, pouting.

“I never see you! You go off the radar for days at a time! We both still hook up with Taehyung, or other people too, in your case.”

“I made out with Yoongi yesterday,” Jimin said, as if suddenly remembering.

Fuck Yoongi. Jungkook put his coffee down rather loudly on Jimin’s glass coffee table and put his head in his hands.

“Ok. Yeah. I see your point. Please don’t break anything. Uuummmm, hm. I haven’t actually thought about this. Can we sort this out after I get back from break?”

“So you can keep hooking up with friends from home before I get my claws in you?”

“Oh don’t phrase it like that. It would just be weird to decide that and then disappear for a month.”

“That’s really what it is though, isn’t it? You’d rather keep hooking up with other people than actually make this a thing.”

“What about you?” Jimin asked, “Are you sure you want to stop hooking up with Taehyung?”

And the horrible answer to that question was “no.” He was going to miss Taehyung’s lips as much as Jimin’s. It really hit Jungkook for the first time that he was going to be alone for a month, alone and exhausted and fighting through the fucking Christmas season without any friends.

Jimin let the question drop. “Do you wanna see the project I’m working on for my animation final?”

“Sure,” Jungkook croaked. Jimin looked worried.

The cartoon was a beautiful little action sequence of two mantises fighting with twig swords and leaf shields. “That’s amazing. I’m really impressed.”

Jimin grinned and pulled him into his lap to kiss him breathless. Jungkook draped his arms around his shoulders and let himself relax a little, pulling his shirt off and letting Jimin pick him up and put him on the bed. Maybe as a plea for affection, Jungkook gave easily under Jimin’s hands, quiet and soft.

“Every time I have sex with you, its different,” Jimin said as he slid into Jungkook, easy as anything, and Jungkook just moaned against his hand, his head turned towards the pillow. “You right now and you back when we were having the threesome. So different.”

“I think I like this better,” Jungkook said, “I’m a one man kind of guy.”

Jimin giggled, “But your, like, with both me and Taehyung right now.”

Jungkook sighed as Jimin started rocking, “I don’t think…I have either of you. He’ll never be mine, and I’m starting to think you won’t be either.”

Jimin slowed to a stop and Jungkook opened his eyes to find Jimin staring at him worriedly. “I’m yours, Jungkook.”

Jungkook snorted. “You have a very odd way of showing that. Didn’t you make out with Yoongi yesterday? Didn’t you ignore my texts for a week?”

“Don’t be clingy,” Jimin warned.

“Don’t be so distant,” Jungkook answered, and then rocked down on Jimin’s dick, shivering, to get him to move again, “Don’t treat me like you don’t want me around.”

“Baby,” Jimin breathed, “I want you.”

“Act like it.”

Jimin bent low over him and thrust heavily in. Jungkook gasped and arched up, straining for contact. “Beautiful,” Jimin huffed above him, and Jungkook gazed up through his eyelashes. He came, trembling, a long while later, and let Jimin ride it out in him. They fell asleep tangled together in his sheets. Jungkook tried not to mind when he had to wake up and leave early the next morning for the Bee Company, and Jimin stayed in bed.

 

The Coffee Fox had no job openings. “Aren’t most of your employees are SCAD students? They’ll be gone for a month.”

The manager, a tall man with long hair and a carefully crafted beard, stared at him shrewdly. “We’ve got enough employees to manage, and we don’t want to over-employ and have to fire people when the students get back.”

Jungkook sighed. “Ok. Thank you anyway.”

“If you leave your number, we can call if anything opens up.”

“Really! Yeah, yeah! Where can I write it down?”

The manager smiled at his enthusiasm, and Jungkook left feeling only a little disappointed. He found Taehyung drinking his alcohol when he returned.

“Shouldn’t you be packing? You leave tomorrow.”

“Turns out Mom never ordered the tickets like she said she did, and now they’re too expensive. So I’m staying here for the entire fucking break.”

That was the best news Jungkook had heard all day, but Taehyung looked absolutely miserable, so he tried to keep his excitement in.

“My Mom is gonna make your Christmas awesome.”

Taehyung smiled. “I know. I’m looking forward to spending another holiday with the Jeon family. It’s just, I was just actually looking forward to seeing my family, for once. At least I get to stay down here where it’s warm. It’s not all bad.”

He looked optimistic. The glass of pure scotch in his hand said otherwise. Jungkook took the glass from his hand and then settled in next to him on the couch, pulling him close. “I’m sorry you don’t get to go home. That sucks. I will do my very best to make sure you enjoy Christmas anyway.”

Taehyung flopped sideways into his lap and nearly kicked the scotch off the table. “You’re the best, dude.”

“How were finals?”

“Fan-fuckin-tastic. Professor said she might be able to hook me up with some website to sell artwork out of so I can get cash. I might be able to talk to someone about getting some small things in the SCAD art store next semester.”

“That’s fantastic! Are you going to find a job anyway?”

“Yeah…”

“You’ve gotta do that, Taehyung.”

“But you’re so miserable all the time. I don’t want one.”

“Get a job at a coffee shop. You’d have fun.”

Taehyung rolled over and pressed his face into Jungkook’s stomach.

“Gonna go work out today?”

“Yeah. I was going to do that now, actually. I don’t have that much time before I have to get to the bar.”

“Good. I like watching you come back all tired and sweaty. Turns me on.”

Jungkook blushed.

“And then when you get out of the shower after that. Yum. Oh yeah, did you ever talk to Jimin about the boyfriend problem?”

“Yeah, a whole week ago. Where have you been?”

“In your apartment, mostly. Why didn’t you tell me? How’d it go?”

Jungkook’s silence gave Taehyung his answer. “What happened?”

“He asked to avoid the problem until after break, which means I get another month in limbo wondering what the fuck is going on.”

“Ah. That sucks.”

Jungkook distracted himself by pushing his hands through Taehyung’s soft hair. “He wants to go home and keep hooking up with people before he comes back and lets me tie him down, which I resent. He doesn’t care as much as I do.”

“Well that’s a problem.”

“Yeah. It is. And I’m worried about Yoongi. He keeps telling me to get a lock on Jimin and not waste the opportunity of a lifetime or something, and then he went and made out with him a week ago.”

“Be worried,” Taehyung said seriously, “He and Jimin have had this weird flirty relationship for two years where Yoongi’s really into him but won’t admit it, and Jimin plays hard to get because he doesn’t understand that Yoongi’s serious.”

“He’s gonna try to steal Jimin from me, isn’t he?”

Taehyung snorted. “He’s a dick, but he’s not that much of a dick. What am I going to do for the whole of Christmas break while you work?” Taehyung whined.

“You’re going to find a job? Keep drawing? Put on your maid’s uniform and clean my apartment?”

“Only if you let me call you master and fuck me over the kitchen counter when you get home.”

“I can do that.”

“You have to call me slut while you do it.”

“No.”

“Not happening then.”

Jungkook sighed.

“Spank me. Tell me I’ve been a bad boy.”

“I’m going to go exercise now.”

“I’m going to practice card tricks.”

“Cool.”

When Jungkook got back, Taehyung sucked him off in the shower. He was suddenly glad Jimin had decided to wait till after break to start anything.

 

After work at the Bee Company, Jungkook waited out in the balmy sun for Taehyung to arrive so they could go o the Coffee Fox together. People wearing t-shirts did their Christmas shopping out under the strings of glass bulbs crossing back and forth across the street. Someone had re-attached the hook under his window, and Jungkook had the first-hand pleasure of enjoying how bright those lights were every fucking night.

He turned towards the shop and saw Taehyung already inside. “Fuckin,” he opened the door and walked in. “Hey, V, you were supposed to—Wait, Baekhyun?”

The Taehyung lookalike was none other than Baekhyun Byun, from high school. “Whoa, you look different wearing make-up! I’m meeting someone here that looks just like you.”

“Jungkook! Yeah, the make-up is cool! Good to see you!” He got up out of his seat to hug him. “Sit with me! It’s awkward being here alone.”

Jungkook sat down at the table with him, smiling widely. “I heard you’re dating Chanyeol now.”

Baekhyun grinned. “Yeah, I caught him.”

“How’d that happen?”

“It’s a long story. I’ve liked him for years though. I got tired of hiding it. It kind of came out, and Chanyeol said he wanted to try dating me, and it’s been excellent.”

“That’s awesome. You two were pretty much already a power couple in high school. I honestly wasn’t even that surprised.”

“I was,” Baekhyun said. “I was so scared I’d lose him.” He put down his coffee. “Speaking of, I talked to Jess the other day.”

Jungkook’s stomach swooped. “Yeah? What’d she say?”

Baekhyun hesitated. “She seems bitter and unhappy about the whole thing. I don’t really want dwell on it. I just bring it up because she told me you were gay too.”

“Yup.”

“I’m honestly shocked. Never would have called that. You were such a player.”

Jungkook blushed a little. “I never had sex with anyone but Zitao.”

“Wow. That’s true. Why did I never see it before? Everyone thought that was just a one-and-done thing though.” He shook his head. “I don’t like that guy. He’s such a fuckin man-stealer.”

Jungkook snorted uncomfortably. “Don’t be so hard on him for that. He does a lot of it on accident.”

“Really? He did it to Sehun four times,” Baekhyun said.

Jungkook got a bit of a lump in his throat. “I heard five.”

“Well, once this summer too, but Sehun won the guy back anyway.”

“Zitao didn’t know Sehun was involved with four of them, including me.”

“You?”

“I was one of the four guys.”

“Oh shit. Didn’t know that.”

“I talked to Zitao about it recently. Don’t be so hard on him. That one was mainly me being an idiot and I’ve felt terrible about it ever since.”

“I guess you know best,” Baekhyun said, looking doubtful. “I’m studying music performance at Georgia Southern,” Baekhyun said, “It’s killing me slowly. What’s up with you?”

Jungkook dramatically lamented his job at the Savannah Bee Company while Baekhyun giggled.

Taehyung arrived, conspicuous in his fabric-scrap jacket. “Kookie, you went in without me! I’ve been out there for five minutes now!”

“I’m sorry. I saw this guy through the window and came in. Baekhyun, this is Taehyung. Taehyung, Baekhyun. You look alike.”

“We do?”

“Yeah.”

Baekhyun smiled. Taehyung’s eyes narrowed. “Another competitor, hm.”

“What?”

“He thinks he has to compete with people to be my best friend. He already has it out for Jess.”

“Don’t compare me to her. She’s a bitch,” Baekhyun said evenly. Taehyung smiled and settled into the seat beside him. Friendship achieved.

Within ten minutes, Jungkook regretted introducing them to each other.

“Let’s tie that woman to her chair using her dog’s leash,” Baekhyun said.

Taehyung replied, “Ok, I’ll distract. You do the work.”

Jungkook, very aware that he had a secret almost application to work there, quietly left the premises, Taehyung’s booming voice echoing behind him, “WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE A MAGIC TRICK?”

Baekhyun and Taehyung met him a block towards the apartment a few minutes later.

“Why’d you leave, Kookie? It was fucking fantastic! We nearly broke the furniture! The dog went nuts and started humping her head! I nearly died!”

“We got thrown out,” Baekhyun said, “but the employee was laughing the whole time.”

“Can we go home?” Jungkook whined.

“Do you two live together?” Baekhyun asked when they walked in and Taehyung threw his sweater on a building pile of his clothes by the TV.

“Kind of?” Jungkook said. “He lives upstairs but his place sucks so he’s always here.”

“Huh. Ok, I guess.”

Jungkook settled onto the couch and Baekhyun sprawled on top of him, and Jungkook remembered him doing shit like that in high school, collapsing all over anyone sitting down like an affectionate dog. “You always were the touchy, cuddly type, weren’t you,” he said.

“Yup. Drove Chanyeol crazy when I snuggled everyone but him. That’s part of the reason I did it. Now that we’re dating he won’t let me cuddle anyone else though, so I have to get it out of my system when he’s not around.” He made a nest for himself in between Jungkook’s legs and leaned sideways against his chest. “You don’t mind, right?”

“I guess not. I cuddle this dork all the time, anyway,” he said, gesturing to Taehyung, who was sitting on the floor in front of the TV looking oddly intense.

“Yeah, but I usually let you fuck me in the ass afterwards and I don’t think he’s gonna do that.”

“Oho! Whoa!” Baekhyung said, looking up at Jungkook’s reddening face. “Didn’t realize you two had that kind of relationship. I’ll get off.”

Jungkook grabbed him around the waist and said “That one’s not even my almost boyfriend. Don’t listen to him.”

“Fucker,” Taehyung muttered.

“Are you jealous?”

Taehyung grumbled and backwards-somersaulted all the way into the bedroom. Jungkook giggled. Baekhyun watched him go curiously. “What was that all about?”

“I don’t even know. He’s weirdly possessive of our friendship.”

“I am not!”

“Yes you are!”

Baekhyun felt nice in his lap. He was much smaller than Taehyung or Jimin, even though he was about the same height, and much calmer than either of them, though the mischievous quirk to his mouth made Jungkook worry.

Taehyung came back into the room wearing that beautiful white knit sweater again, draping unevenly from his bare shoulders.

“Dude, are you wearing anything under that?” Baekhyun asked. He was facing forwards now, his legs draped haphazardly over Jungkook’s, head against his shoulder.

“I wear sweaters as shirts a lot in the winter.”

“Wow. I should do that. Chanyeol would go crazy.”

“Do you always cuddle people like you cuddle Chanyeol?” Jungkook asked, maybe too aware of how close Baekhyun’s face was to his ear and how warm and small he felt leaning against his chest.

“Only when I don’t have him to cuddle instead. We’re going out to the beach to see Sehun tomorrow. You should come with.”

“No way,” Jungkook said, Sehun’s crushingly disappointed face popping up in his mind and making him cringe. “I haven’t spoken to Sehun since the Zitao thing. I don’t think he’d be happy if I showed up.”

“Ok. Fair enough.”

Baekhyun stayed there for another couple hours, eventually switching over to lie on top of Taehyung, tangled around each other, giggling like maniacs.

“Are you sure Chanyeol would be ok with this?” Jungkook asked as Baekhyun pushed his hands up under Taehyung’s shirt to run over his abs.

“Oh yeah. He’d be fine with it. I’ve done this a bunch before, and sometimes it leads to awesome threesomes, so he’s ok with me doing some scouting outside the relationship as long as I don’t start hooking up with anyone.”

Taehyung looked thoughtful. “That doesn’t sound that bad, I guess. Does he get to mess around?”

Baekhyun sighed. “He’s mostly straight. I let him hook up with girls sometimes.”

“Oh. Wow. He must really love you then.”

Baekhyun’s bothered expression turned into a giant smile. “Yeah. He does. I love him too. Light of my life, he is.”

Jungkook felt like squealing, it was so cute.

“I don’t get it,” Taehyung murmured, throwing an arm over his eyes.

“Don’t get what?”

“He thinks being in a relationship sounds like torture,” Jungkook said.

“You don’t know what you’re missing,” Baekhyun sighed.

“I don’t want to be responsible for anyone’s happiness. I’m a self-centered, crazy, free-spirited asshole who doesn’t want anyone tying me down.”

Baekhyun turned to look at Jungkook with a “can you believe this?” expression. Jungkook rolled his eyes.

When Baekhyun left, he made sure they had his phone number and he had theirs. “We have to hang out again. Chanyeol will want to see you. And you,” he said, slipping his arms around Taehyung’s waist and pulling him in close to his hips, “stay out of trouble and be nice to Kookie.”

“Yes sir,” Taehyung said with a grin.

 

“We should go somewhere,” Taehyung said after four days of sitting around at home playing video games and reading through Taehyung’s collection of graphic novels, manga, and comic books. He was lying with his head in Jungkook’s lap, a graphic novel called Persepolis in his hands. Rain thundered against the windowpanes and chilled the apartment. Taehyung wore a heavy, grey-blue sweater that matched the weather perfectly and made him look like a one of the couch cushions.

“In this weather? I guess we could go to Leopold’s. It’s right across the street.”

Taehyung smiled a little. “I meant some place like Moscow. The Swedish Alps, Machu Pichu, Australia.”

“When will I stop falling for that?”

“Falling for what? I wanna go somewhere with you, Kookie.”

“We’re both broke as fuck.”

“I still want to go somewhere with you. Santorini, maybe, or India. Cape Town. I feel like you’d be even prettier on vacation, just enjoying yourself and not stressing about life.”

Jungkook pulled Taehyung easily up off his lap and kissed him deeply. Taehyung shuddered and clung to the front of his shirt, kissing back like he couldn’t keep up, like he was having trouble breathing.

“Not your boyfriend,” he whispered, wide-eyed, when he pulled away.

“If you don’t want me to kiss you like a romantic, don’t say things like that.”

Taehyung blushed, and Jungkook had a hard time believing his eyes. He looked precious, eyes shifting to the side, cheeks flushed, one sweater paw pressed to his mouth.

“Christmas is in three days. Have you gone Christmas shopping? We could do that.”

Taehyung shook his head. “I literally have forty dollars to feed myself until January. I can’t afford any Christmas presents.”

“Ok. Wanna call Baekhyun and ask him to hang out?”

Taehyung brightened. “Sure! Let’s do it!”

Baekhyun and Chanyeol were free, but Chanyeol had to stay home with the new puppy. “So you’d have to come here,” Baekhyun finished.

“Fuck. Neither of us have a car.”

“That’s ok. We’re just out on Whitmarsh. I’ll come get you.”

Whitmarsh Island was kind of in the direction Jungkook’s mom lived in, so the route was familiar until they crossed the giant bridge over the vast marsh, miles and miles of brown, salty savanna in the rain, struck through with steel grey veins of water reflecting the sky, mud banks invisible under the high tide. Baekhyun and Taehyung chattered in the front about spending summers out on the water in their family’s speedboats.

“I’d love to go tubing out here. This place is a maze,” Taehyung said, staring out the window.

“Tubing here is so much fun. The waves get kind of crazy out in Wasaw sound near the ocean.”

Jungkook had never been tubing. He ignored the conversation in favor of staring out over the incredible beauty for which the city was named. Small hammocks of dense trees stuck up here and there like oases in the desert. He missed the summer marsh, lurid green with streaks of bright blue water and the smell of sulfur mud.

Chanyeol nearly ran him down when he greeted him at the door, showing even more enthusiasm than the puppy frantically circling their feet. “Jungkook this is so cool!” his voice boomed, even deeper than Taehyung’s. “It’s great to see you! Welcome to my house!”

“This place is fucking huge.”

Chanyeol laughed and looked around as if just noticing. “Yeah, it’s pretty nice. The marsh is right out back. It’s a great view.”

“Marsh-front property. Wow.”

“Come see it from my room.”

He picked the tiny puppy up, since it couldn’t climb stairs.

“Is that a Pomeranian?” Jungkook asked.

“Yeah. Mom just got him. He’s so funny.”

The Pomeranian was practically twitching with excitement, which made it look like it was trying to swim out of Chanyeol’s arms and up the stairs towards the visitors, but it looked positively bored next to Chanyeol’s bright smile. Jungkook noticed Taehyung taking not-at-all-subtle appreciative glances at Chanyeol’s bright red hair and toothpaste commercial grin.

Chanyeol’s room was huge, painted blue with grey carpets and standard, dark-wood furniture. Baekhyun climbed right onto the queen-sized bed like it was his own. Jungkook went right to examining the game cabinet, and Taehyung went right to the window. “Fuck, you have a balcony? Nice digs.”

“This couch is amazing!” Jungkook yelled. It looked like a row of black leather bucket seats with arm rests between them and formed a sitting area completely separate from the bed. “This room is as big as my whole apartment.”

“The couch has surround sound and you can lean the sections back,” Chanyeol said. “They’re for gaming with friends.”

“I’m never leaving!” Jungkook yelled. Chanyeol cackled and the puppy barked along.

“What’s his name?” Jungkook asked, pointing at the fluffy dog, who jumped excitedly when Jungkook pointed at him.

“Um. Max. My mom isn’t very creative. I’ve been calling him Skrillex because it really doesn’t fit him.”

The light tan puppy sat on the floor with his pink mouth hanging wide open as he panted, beating the carpet with his tail.

“Skrillex doesn’t fit him at all.”

“It really doesn’t,” Chanyeol agreed.

Baekhyun jumped off the bed and rammed Taehyung into the glass door onto the balcony. “Time to get wet!” He opened the door and shoved Taehyung out into the rain. Taehyung tried to rush inside and slammed into the glass door again. He stood there scowling at Baekhyun and getting soaked for a minute as Baekhyun rolled around floor howling with laughter, and then turned to look out at the marsh. He held a hand out as if to test and see if it was raining, then started a silent comedy routine of trying to use various items on the porch as an umbrella.

Chanyeol and Baekhyun cackled. Jungkook stared blankly. “He’s going to soak your carpet coming back in. We didn’t bring any spare clothes.”

“I’ll lend him some clothes,” Chanyeol said, “We’ll have to get him a towel though.” Baekhyun ran off to retrieve a towel as Chanyeol pulled spare clothes out of his dresser. Taehyung had begun to look very cold, his hair flat against his head and his clothes sticking to him like a bedraggled cat, hugging himself. Jungkook fired up Towerfall on Chanyeol’s PS4. They got Taehyung wrapped in towels and shuffled him into the bathroom to change.

Chanyeol grabbed Baekhyun by the hips and lifted him five feet up onto the top of the dresser, easy as anything. Baekhyun giggled and wrapped his feet under Chanyeol’s arms to trap him, pulling him in and kissing the top of his head. Jungkook smiled and looked courteously away. Baekhyun waited up there for Taehyung to get out of the bathroom while Chanyeol flopped into the seat beside Jungkook to play Towerfall with him.

They played through several rounds of the game, falling easily back into old rhythms from high school. Taehyung and Baekhyun ran in and out of the room, laughing at everything and trailing the puppy.

“So how did this happen?” Jungkook asked, “You and Baekhyun, I mean.”

Chanyeol smiled. “Well, it’s kind of cute. He wanted to date me for years, and then Sehun kind of got us together this summer.”

Jungkook groaned despite himself, “Sehun. Ah.”

“You don’t like him?”

“No, he’s a really cool guy. I was a dick to him and I feel really bad about it.”

“Huh. Tell me more about that in a minute.”

“I’d rather not. Please continue with your story.”

“So Baekhyun became friends with Sehun, which, according to Baekhyun, made him brave enough to drunkenly come out to a large group of people about having sexual fantasies about me. I know, not very romantic, but then he ran off, and I ran after him because that’s some serious shit and he was really upset. And I’d already identified, secretly, as bi, at that point, but had been too shy to tell anyone. I kinda prefer girls anyway. And I thought, why not. Baekhyun’s pretty much everything I’d ever want in a boyfriend or girlfriend already. I had no problem trying it out, and I think it would have destroyed our friendship not to take that step. And it’s worked out really well. We’ve been friends for years, so if anything isn’t working, it’s easy to talk it out and fix it.”

“That sounds perfect. I’m jealous. I keep wishing I was straight so I could have kept Jess.”

“We’ve got Sehun to thank for everything, really.”

“Sehun keeps popping up everywhere.”

“What a cool dude. I spent most of the summer with him.”

“What he up to these days?” Jungkook said.

“He was a lifeguard on the beach for a while, which was perfect for him. He does nature tours for the aquarium out there now. He’s like a native guide.”

Jungkook sighed. That sounded so much better than the Bee Company. “He’s happy, right?”

“You must have hurt him pretty bad to be this concerned about him. Yes, he’s very happy.”

Jungkook lost the level and wasn’t even surprised. He couldn’t remember playing most of it. Baekhyun and Taehyung stomped back into the room and piled onto the bed, rolling over each other. Chanyeol’s clothes hung off Taehyung’s body. He settled in on top of Baekhyun, his chin resting on his chest. Chanyeol started side-eyeing them. Jungkook beat him to try to get him to start paying attention again.

“Whoa! You have two piercings in the same ear I do!” Taehyung said.

“Really? Two in your left ear?”

“Yeah! And one in my right, but I don’t use that one very often.”

“That’s so cool! We could be twins!”

“I’m older than you though,” Taehyung said.

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, I’m a junior and you’re a freshman.”

“Oh, shit. Jungkook, you didn’t tell me you were sleeping with older men.”

“I’ll be twenty-one at the end of the month.”

“Really?” Jungkook said, spinning around. “What day?”

“December 30th.”

Jungkook turned around. “So you’re missing your birthday with your family too? That sucks!”

He nodded. “And the New Years bonfire. Triple whammy.”

“Fuck.”

Baekhyun had pulled his legs up to bracket Taehyung’s hips, his hands stroking slowly over Taehyung’s sharp shoulder blades through Chanyeol’s t-shirt. Jungkook started having as much trouble as Chanyeol concentrating.

“Back to these earrings through,” Taehyung said. “Does Chanyeol know how to play with these?”

Chanyeol glanced away from the screen a second too long and died. “Fuck,” he muttered. Both he and Jungkook focused back on the game.

“Play with them?” he heard Baekhyun ask.

“Like this,” Taehyung’s voice rumbled, smooth as silk.

There was a moment of silence and then Baekhyun gasped and whimpered softly. Jungkook was focusing so hard on the game that his hands were already sweating on the controller. Chanyeol cursed under his breath beside him, buttons clicking. Baekhyun’s breathing rapidly picked up. He let out one squeaky, high-pitched moan, and Chanyeol paused the game, gave Jungkook one long-suffering look, and then turned to the bed. “What the fuck are you two doing?”

Jungkook looked over. Baekhyun’s head was turned sharply to the side on the pillow, eyes shut tight, and Taehyung had his mouth wrapped around his ear, glancing under his lashes over at Chanyeol and Jungkook. One of his hands was up under Baekhyun’s shirt, moving slowly against his nipple. Baekhyun’s hands pulled Taehyung’s shirt tight over his back. His legs pulled up against Taehyung’s sides.

Taehyung pulled lazily away from Baekhyun like a lion distracted from dinner, giving his piercings one last suck that arched Baekhyun’s spine, and said, to Chanyeol, “Baekhyun said you wouldn’t mind.”

Chanyeol gulped, frozen, and then murmured, “keep going.”

Jungkook’s head swam a little watching Taehyung, so submissive to him most of the time, taking confident control of Baekhyun. He wasn’t totally sure he should be there if that was a show for Chanyeol, though. His eyes flickered nervously between Chanyeol’s nearly stoic face, Baekhyun moaning under Taehyung on the bed, and absurdly, the puppy, who was chewing on a shoe on the floor.

When Taehyung stripped Baekhyun’s shirt off, Jungkook murmured, “Can we get Skrillex out of here?”

“Oh shit,” Chanyeol said, jumping up. “You can’t be in here, Skixy; you’re a baby.”

“Skixy,” Jungkook snorted. Taehyung was flicking his tongue over one of Baekhyun’s nipples as he panted. Chanyeol threw the dog out the door and walked back over to Jungkook, eyes still glued to the bed.

“Do you do this with all your guests?” Jungkook murmured.

Chanyeol shook his head, glancing back at Jungkook and smiling a little guiltily. “Baekhyun told me he and Taehyung had this planned already. He didn’t tell you?”

Jungkook’s jaw dropped a little and Chanyeol giggled, then quickly turned the couch around to face the bed with Jungkook still on it. “Want popcorn?” he joked, turning off the TV and sitting down in his seat, perfectly at ease. Jungkook, once again, felt like the youngest in the room. The other three seemed perfectly at ease, one couple, and one guy very used to casual hookups, but to Jungkook, this was his best friend and a couple of guys from high school who had seemed intimidatingly straight at the time.

Still, he could not deny the way his breath caught when Taehyung pulled his own shirt off, and then got to work on Baekhyun’s skinny-jeans as Baekhyun stretched out on the bed, showing off his mouth-wateringly petite body with just a shade of musculature. Jungkook felt his dick jump a little.

“Taehyung’s got some abs,” Chanyeol muttered, “I was not expecting that.”

“Fuck him,” Jungkook said, “he doesn’t work out at all. He just burns all his fat off by being fucking hyper all the time.”

Taehyung smirked at him from the bed and then pulled Baekhyun’s briefs off and swallowed his dick all the way down. Baekhyun jerked and cried out. Taehyung used one arm to hold down Baekhyun’s knee closest to Chanyeol and Jungkook so they could see the way he worked his throat around Baekhyun, the way his lips stretched obscenely around the base of his dick as his eyes tightened. Jungkook knew exactly how Taehyung’s blowjobs felt. He watched the way Baekhyun twitched and bit back a moan of his own.

Baekhyun’s hands gripped the pillow tightly so he wouldn’t block any of the view. “Chanyeol,” he gasped, “lube.”

Chanyeol stood up and walked leisurely over to the dresser, opened a drawer, and pulled out two bottles of lube. “Do you want blueberry or pineapple?”

Taehyung pulled off with a loud pop and said, “Definitely pineapple. I’ve never even heard of that before. Give it.”

Chanyeol gave him a wide smile and threw it to him. Taehyung caught it and wasted no time squirting some onto Baekhyun’s dick just to lick it off. Baekhyun jumped. “Fuck! Cold!”

“I ain’t waiting to warm this tasty shit up. Get used to it.” He squirted some on his fingers and pushed one inside Baekhyun at the same time that he swallowed him back down. Jungkook moaned quickly with Baekhyun. Chanyeol returned to the couch. “Are you into this? We get kind of rough.”

“Fuck yeah. I’m not leaving.”

“Are you topping, or am I?” he rumbled.

Jungkook’s throat went a little dry staring up at him. “You.”

Taehyung’s head popped up off of Baekhyun again. “Fuck. I get to see you bottom? Fuck yes!”

Chanyeol wasted no time yanking Jungkook out of his chair, pulling his pants and briefs off, and then bringing him to sit slouching across his lap. Jungkook had a great view of the way Taehyung stared up at Baekhyun’s face, all his manic energy focused in close in the way he fingered Baekhyun relentlessly. Chanyeol dripped the cold blueberry lube down his dick and start stroking firmly. Jungkook bit his lip as heat surged up through his body.

Up on the bed, Taehyung found Baekhyun’s prostate, and Baekhyun twitched and whimpered, panting frantically, his head tipped back and his pretty mouth opened further. Even from across the room, Jungkook could hear the whispered litany of “please, please, please, please, please,” coming from his lips.

He felt a deep moan rattle through Chanyeol’s chest behind him and went completely limp in Chanyeol’s arms. Chanyeol’s not slippery hand found his nipple over his shirt and stroked in slow circles. Jungkook arched his chest out to give him a better angle, panting. Chanyeol got his knees in between Jungkook’s thighs and spread them outwards. Jungkook felt Chanyeol’s slick fingers pressing gently against his hole and whimpered.

When he opened his eyes, Taehyung was staring at him, eyes wide, the smallest, most dangerous hungry smile on his lips. Jungkook closed his eyes again.

“May I fuck your boyfriend, Chanyeol,” Taehyung asked, “He’s begging for me.”

“Do it,” Chanyeol said, pushing a finger into Jungkook, who grasped the arm rests of Chanyeol’s fancy couch and hung on tight.

Taehyung pulled a condom out of his back pocket, then yanked his pants off and slid it on. He slicked up and pushed in, holding Baekhyun’s leg up so the others could see every slow inch disappearing into Baekhyun’s ass. Baekhyun sobbed, his arms shaking. Taehyung was merciless, sliding immediately all the way out and then thrusting in again just as torturously slowly. Jungkook didn’t even try to stop his own overwhelmed moan.

Chanyeol thrust a second thick finger up into Jungkook and rubbed a soothing hand over his chest as he twisted his fingers, searching for his sweet spot. Jungkook gasped when he found it, his hips twitching to get Chanyeol to thrust, but Chanyeol kept it at slow, intense brushes every few seconds as he continued to work Jungkook open. At the third finger, the angle was too awkward to keep hitting his prostate, so Jungkook just sat there and whimpered in pleasure and frustration.

“Up, Kookie. You’re nearly ready,” Chanyeol said, and steered him to the side of the bed, then pressed him flat down with his hips just far enough from the bed that his dick didn’t touch, and his face right in Baekhyun’s crotch. Baekhyun gasped above him.

“Arms over your head,” Taehyung ordered, and Jungkook tentatively stretched his arms over Baekhyun. Taehyung grabbed both wrists in one hand and pinned them to the bed, then grabbed the hair on the back of his head and used that to guide his mouth over Baekhyun’s cock. “Slowly. Don’t make him come too fast,” Taehyung said, and began thrusting evenly again. Chanyeol thrust four fingers back into his ass at the same time.

He whimpered quickly and then suckled at the head of Baekhyun’s dick to distract himself. “Fuck,” he heard way up the bed, breathless and high. “Jungkook, oh my god, please.” Jungkook moaned and sucked him in deeper. He rocked dangerously towards his throat with every powerful thrust.

“You’re always so nice during sex,” Taehyung murmured above him, pulling him off by the hair. “Don’t give him what he wants.”

Jungkook scalp tingled. He was dizzyingly turned on. He started licking tentatively at the dick in his face, eyes on Taehyung for approval. Taehyung smiled sweetly. “Good boy.” He shoved him further down and Jungkook nearly choked. He sucked and swirled his tongue to hear Baekhyun gasping.

Behind him, he heard Chanyeol take his shirt off and pull his zipper down after a couple more moments of slick sounds, he felt the tip of Chanyeol’s dick breach him, pause, and then shove all the way inside with a powerful thrust. He keened loudly around Baekhyun’s dick, gasping through his nose. Baekhyun swore, hips jumping.

Jungkook overpowered Taehyung’s hand to yank his head off so he didn’t gag and throw up everywhere, swallowing and gasping. He could feel drool running down his chin, tears at the corners of his eyes, sweat dripping down his back, lube sliding down the inside of his thighs, and precome cooling the tip of his dick.

“Fuck,” he said, and his voice was raw. Chanyeol started thrusting hard and fast into him and his head dropped onto Baekhyun’s hip, his wrists straining against Taehyung’s grip.

Baekhyun seemed to be getting close under him. Taehyung grabbed the back of his hair again and Jungkook went willingly, opening up and taking him in. “Deep breath,” Taehyung murmured, and Jungkook’s eyes few open. He sucked in a deep breath, fleetingly realized he’d never deep-throated anything before, and then Taehyung shoved him abruptly all the way down onto Baekhyun’s cock.

He yelled in his throat, which was probably the only thing that kept him from choking, throat protesting frantically. Baekhyun convulsed above him, screaming. Jungkook’s throat worked frantically around Baekhyun’s cock, eyes dripping tears. His lungs burned. The hand holding him down by the hair felt like a crushing weight. Chanyeol found his sweet spot and the world tunneled, all focused in on the light feeling in his head, the pleasure intensifying to a consuming ache on his prostate, and the way his chest felt like it was about to collapse. Baekhyun wailed. The world turned black and fuzzy.

Air flooded his lungs and his gasped, swallowing down his gag reflex. His orgasm felt seconds away, but faded as breathed. His knees must have given out, because Chanyeol was holding him up. “You ok?” Chanyeol asked.

Baekhyun abruptly shrieked, “Please, please, please, please, NO! FUCK! Taehyung, you dickbag, let me COME, you fucker!” he dissolved into sobs and punched the bed as Taehyung giggled nervously.

“We have to see if Jungkook’s ok. I may have almost choked him to death on your cock.”

“I’m ok,” he wheezed, “almost came. Vision went black. Don’t do that again.”

“Impeccable timing,” Chanyeol said to Taehyung, and then pulled out and lifted Jungkook onto the bed. Jungkook opened his eyes. The room was very blurry, he blinked until more tears followed well-worn tracks down his face and his vision cleared. Since he was right next to Baekhyun, he rolled over and wrapped an arm and a leg around him. Taehyung was pulling a condom onto Baekhyun and slicking him up.

“Sleepy cuddles later,” Chanyeol said, dragging him upright over Baekhyun and pulling Jungkook’s shirt off.

“Oh fuck,” Baekhyun muttered, “You’re all ripped to hell. I’m in heaven.”

Jungkook giggled and did a body roll, flexing, his dripping ass sliding up Baekhyun’s lower stomach, and Baekhyun squirmed and moaned.

“Sit on his dick,” Chanyeol told him.

Jungkook did as he was told, propping Baekhyun’s dick up under him, and then sliding down. He was smaller than Chanyeol, so it didn’t feel overwhelming, and he established a quick pace that Taehyung matched behind him. His head rolled back onto Taehyung’s shoulder as he bounced. “Fuck,” Taehyung muttered in his ear. “Jimin told me you were an even better bottom than I am. I didn’t fucking believe it, but god damn, you look so perfect with a cock in your ass.”

Jungkook whimpered. Chanyeol lowered his head and swallowed Jungkook down as he bounced. His rhythm stuttered, then picked up again, fucking into Chanyeol’s wet, slack throat as he pulled off of Baekhyun. Taehyung’s arms slid around him and roamed over his chest, and Jungkook arched into it. Baekhyun made a couple beautiful, small, shocked noises and Jungkook cracked his eyes open to find Baekhyun staring wide-eyed right at him. He must have looked fucked out, because when they made eye contact, Baekhyun’s eyes rolled back into his head and he came.

Behind him, Taehyung swore and pulled out fast, but Jungkook rode him through it till he was squirming and crying beneath him, teeth clenched, and then Taehyung pulled him off Baekhyun’s softening cock, and back onto his own, further down the bed. Chanyeol disappeared from his cock to go kiss Baekhyun as he came down, and Jungkook slumped down, arms bracketing Baekhyun’s body, and let Taehyung set the pace, pounding into him from behind as he moaned into Baekhyun’s chest.

Chanyeol backed up to watch, stroking his own dick slowly until Baekhyun pulled him onto the bed over his head so Chanyeol could thrust into his mouth. Jungkook started working on a hickey right across Baekhyun’s nipple and Baekhyun moaned around Chanyeol’s cock.

“Fuck, you’re gorgeous,” Taehyung grunted into his shoulder, he hands sliding up Jungkook’s abs. He wished he’d wrap them around his dick instead, which felt cold and lonely without Chanyeol’s mouth. Taehyung’s fast slide against his prostate built him up slowly, pushing the heat tighter and tighter. Far too soon, Taehyung moaned into his ear and came, shuddering, into his condom. He thrust for a few more seconds, and then pulled slowly away, collapsing sideway onto the bed.

“Chanyeol,” Jungkook whimpered. Chanyeol paused halfway out of Baekhyun’s mouth to look back at him, “Come fuck me, please.”

Chanyeol pulled away from Baekhyun, gave him a quick kiss on the forehead, and then rolled Jungkook over to lie on his back beside Taehyung as he pulled another condom on. He stared down at Jungkook spread out on the bed below him like something he couldn’t wait to eat, his head cocked a little to the side. Jungkook just stared back pleadingly until Chanyeol thrust his dick back into him, bigger than Baekhyun’s or Taehyung’s, and Jungkook filled up with a gasp, his eyes slipping closed.

He tried to rock his hips back against him, but a few thrusts in, Baekhyun’s mouth slid over his dick and he froze, every muscle in his body locking tight as he waiting for the heat to break. It didn’t. It coiled impossibly tighter, hovering right between too much and the delicious edge. His moans sounded wrecked.

Taehyung rolled right up against his side and bit his ear, his fingers flicking over his nipples. “You should get piercings too, Kookie, so I can work you up like Baekhyun.”

“Fuck.”

“Come on, baby. That’s it. Come apart for us.”

Baekhyun, Baekhyun Byun from high school, did something fantastic with his tongue just as his boyfriend, Chanyeol Park, from high school, slammed in impossibly deeper, brushing roughly against everything good inside him, and Taehyung pinched a nipple and bit gently at his earlobe at the same time. He screamed as he came, body tensing hard as he shot cum halfway up his stomach and then shook through what felt like minutes of aftershocks.

He couldn’t really move after that. He watched Baekhyun ride Chanyeol as Taehyung fingered him to orgasm through a haze of sweat and tears, his hearing coming back slowly as blood found its way back to his head. Baekhyun and Taehyung took charge of cleanup, throwing washcloths at each other. They both cleaned up the wrong guy, Baekhyun giggling and gently wiping Jungkook down as he watched Taehyung act like a very old woman as he fixed up Chanyeol.

Then Taehyung tackled Baekhyun and cleaned him up roughly, with way too much biting. Baekhyun ended up coming again under Taehyung’s mouth as Chanyeol and Jungkook watched from up by the headboard. Taehyung carried Baekhyun into the bathroom and Chanyeol followed.

Jungkook only got a few minutes of sleep before Chanyeol came in and dragged him into his giant master-sized bathroom and dumped him in the bathtub sunk in the floor that was big enough for all four of them. Taehyung, Baekhyun, and Chanyeol all washed him off, giggling incessantly and poking him at inopportune moments. Taehyung looked like an angel with wet hair and a giant rectangular smile.

“Seriously, though,” Baekhyun said, “part of me feels woefully inadequate next to all the abs in this tub right now, and part of me just feels really fucking happy.”

Taehyung and Jungkook immediately slid up close to where Baekhyun was leaning against Chanyeol. Jungkook lifted him and stood up, holding them above the water. Baekhyun squawked and hung on. “Am I stronger than Chanyeol?”

“No fucking way,” Chanyeol rumbled, his round doe-eyes taking on a dangerous glint. He stood and wrapped himself around Baekhyun’s back, arms snaking around his chest.

Taehyung also stood and wrapped his arms around Baekhyun. “Group hug, right?” he said.

“I think I’m gonna pass out,” Baekhyun whimpered, “So many abs hugging me. Its like being in a porno.”

“This entire afternoon has felt like being in porn,” Jungkook said.

“I haven’t kissed Chanyeol enough,” Taehyung announced. “Bring that beautiful smile back over here.”

Chanyeol giggled and latched onto Taehyung, leaning down to kiss him. “You’re both almost as short as Baek,” he muttered.

“None of us are short,” Jungkook said. “We’re just not as tall as you are.”

Baekhyun kissed him and he decided to stop arguing.

“So weird,” Jungkook murmured against his mouth.

“Weird how?”

“You’re Baekhyun and Chanyeol. You were like the school’s power team in high school. I took Spanish with both of you and we at lunch together on Tuesdays and Thursdays senior year and I still didn’t know you that well. And we were all straight. This is not a situation I ever in my wildest dreams imagined we’d be in.”

“Please stop talking about high school. I get PTSD.”

“Oh shut up, Taehyung. That’s how we know each other. Not my fault you’re the odd one out here.”

Baekhyun and Jungkook sat to the side and watched Taehyung go to town on the very smiley Chanyeol, who managed to be both commanding and adorable, his arms spread out over the marble rim of the tub.

“It’s weird because he looks like you,” Jungkook giggled. “Got a type, Chanyeol.”

“My type is Baekhyun,” Chanyeol answered.

Jungkook and Baekhyun both melted against the side of the tub, clutching each other.

“Good,” Taehyung muttered, “I’ve heard I look like him. And I like cute, straight-ish boys with big eyes and nice smiles. I usually go for those,” he said, looking right at Jungkook.

Jungkook gave him his biggest goofy smile with really wide eyes. Taehyung snorted and got off Chanyeol. “That’s it. Mood ruined.”

As they all dried off, Chanyeol looped a towel around Baekhyun’s back and pulled him close, fluffing the towel through his hair like a puppy. Baekhyun stood still, giggling softly, his arms spread out patiently as Chanyeol moved down his body, his mega-watt grin firmly in place. He draped the towel around Baekhyun’s shoulders and wrapped him close in a warm hug. For a moment, they stood very still, Baekhyun pressed up tight to Chanyeol’s chest. “You smell good,” Chanyeol murmured quietly into Baekhyun’s hair.

“Like your shampoo?”

“Nah, just like you. Smelling you makes me happy.”

Baekhyun wrinkled his nose, and smiled so hard it looked like his face might break. He snuggled into his chest, towel covered hands patting around Chanyeol’s back. “You’re so weird. I love that. Never change.” Chanyeol rubbed his face back and forth across Baekhyun’s head.

Jungkook felt like he needed to sit down so he didn’t faint from cute. The couple seemed oblivious, Baekhyun’s feet between Chanyeol’s, pressed as close together as they could manage standing up.

“I love you,” Baekhyun said, like a reminder, his head falling back as he looked up into Chanyeol’s face.

“Love you too, more than you know,” Chanyeol said, and kissed him softly, and there was the depth of love wholly absent from any sex Jungkook had ever experienced.

They stayed there for a long minute, just holding each other as, presumably, the other two got dressed behind them, but Jungkook was having trouble because his chest physically hurt, he wanted that so bad. Taehyung, on the other hand, wasn’t looking at them anymore, but Jungkook could see his face in the mirror, and he looked, for the first time in Jungkook’s memory, completely lost, and a little lonely.

 

“Kookie.” That was the voice of someone who must want to die. Jungkook tried to stay asleep by sheer force of will. “Kookie, wake up, its nearly 9:00.”

He’d never been in a bed so comfortable. His body was just the right level of wonderfully warm, even if it felt like his feet were hanging off the bed. The pillow held his dead weight admirably.

“Stop grumbling and get up. It’s Christmas!”

He opened his eyes slowly. They were in his old room at his mother’s house. He blinked a little. Oh right. They’d gotten drunk on cheap champagne the night before and had to stay on his old tiny bed instead of going home. Taehyung was completely naked, how he often slept. They’d made him a bed out of couch cushions on the floor, but he’d abandoned those as soon as Jungkook’s mother had closed the door, stripped out of his remaining clothes, and climbed in behind him.

“You can’t sleep in on Christmas! Get up!”

“It’s 9:00? We’ve already slept in.”

“Pssh, nah that’s normal wake-up time.”

“That’s when I have to be in to work in the morning, ‘or else.’”

“Ugh, that’s awful.” He was pulled his boxers on, and Jungkook’s t-shirt, but Jungkook didn’t bother telling him he had the wrong one. “Christmas! Your mom’s been up for, like, two hours. Let’s go.”

His mom raised an eyebrow when Taehyung walked in with a bed head, bouncing up and down and wearing a t-shirt from Jungkook’s senior class. Jungkook followed groggily behind him and went straight for the fridge.

“Kookie, no breakfast! Presents!”

“I have to eat, V. Want an omelet?”

“Oh hell yes. Fuck presents.”

His mother poured them coffee, eyes suspiciously on Taehyung’s boxers. “I could have sworn those were yours, Jungy.”

Jungkook looked down at Taehyung’s legs. “Oh. Those are mine.”

“Fuck, seriously? Must have mixed them up when I did our laundry on Tuesday.”

“You two do your laundry together? That’s helpful.”

Jungkook didn’t respond, too busy staring appreciatively at how his clothes looked on Taehyung, his shirt hanging on him like all those damn giant sweaters, his familiar worn boxers showing too much of his thighs.

There were barely any presents. Mom gave Jungkook a new comforter since his apartment got terribly cold at night. She gave Taehyung a gift card to Foxy at Jungkook’s suggestion. Taehyung squealed. “Mom, thank you so much for endorsing my bad habits. You have no idea how awesome this is. I waste so much money at that place.”

Jungkook gave his mother one of those big Barnes and Noble classic edition books of Jane Austen novels, the one with a flowery cover and gilt gold edges. “What’s this?” she asked.

“I know how much you love romance novels, so there’s some classic literature while you’re at it. No smut, I’m afraid.”

She swatted at him, but looked very pleased. Taehyung giggled. “You should get some Anne Rice next. Literarily respectable vampire romance novels with smut.”

“I’ll look into that,” she said.

He hadn’t known what to get Taehyung, so he’d gotten him a woven, deep green sweater, several tubes of pink lip balm, the Maus graphic novels, and a lot of honey straws. Taehyung turned the bag upside-down before looking in it, and let it all dump out onto his lap. He didn’t squeal like he had with the gift card. He stared for a moment, and then brought his knees up to his chest and buried his face into the pile of stuff, smiling helplessly. “You’re the best, Kookie.”

Then Taehyung surprised both of them by bringing his own gifts out. He’d found a picture of Jungkook with his mom on Facebook and had drawn it in his own half realistic, half artistically simplified style, both of them smiling happily and hugging each other. He’d even mounted it in a poster-board frame with metal bits to hang it on the back. He gave it to Jungkook’s mom and let her rave over it for a bit before handing a small sketchbook to Jungkook. It was filled front to back with sketches of their friends.

“That’s what I’ve been doing while you’re at work,” he murmured. The first page was a very familiar selfie with himself and Taehyung, himself in a headlock, trying to get his phone back, and Taehyung making one of his weirdest faces up at the camera. It looked like a comic book frame in fish eye. He flipped through as Taehyung leaned on his shoulder and watched. There was a cute, chibi Yoongi sitting on a bar stool and pouting, there was Hoseok dancing in the park with Seokjin trying to follow along and failing.

There was Jimin sitting on spread knees and rumpled sheets wearing only his costume leather straps and grinning at some spot below the camera. Jungkook knew for a fact they hadn’t taken any pictures. “Wow,” he said, impressed. “You did that from memory?” He was glad his mother was in the kitchen refilling her coffee and not looking at the book.

“I used some reference photos, but yeah,” Taehyung murmured.

There was a picture of Taehyung sleeping that Jungkook had taken on his own phone, his hair falling off his forehead like it rarely did, wrapped up to his chin in a blanket and looking for all the world like a sleepy kitten. “Damn. You found my blackmail.”

“Yeah I went through all your photos.”

He flipped past a picture of Namjoon brooding at the bar full of dark patches of ink and over-simplified shapes, “The Philosopher,” written in ink at the bottom. Jungkook snickered. Namjoon said the weirdest fucking shit when he was drunk.

Right past that he’d drawn a picture of Zitao lying on Jungkook’s bed, naked. “Jesus Christ, why?”

“It’s pretty funny. That was a good night. I figure that’s a view you’ve seen before.”

“God yes. I’m still not used to the black hair though. Fuck, he’s pretty.”

There were sketches of Jimin lying against Jungkook’s shoulder and holding his hand, sketches of Amber and Luna in their tiny karts and Halloween costumes, a sketch of himself playing Frisbee and little cartoon depictions of group inside jokes. Himself as a bee, Victoria beating Namjoon with a bar stool as Jimin, and Yoongi watched and Taehyung flipped a pool table over in the background. He’d drawn pictures on neighboring pages of both himself and Jungkook handcuffed to a bed, and right after that, a rough sketch of Jungkook sleeping in the morning, his hair an absolute mess on the pillow.

Towards the end he found what must have been Taehyung’s view as he nearly chocked to death on Baekhyun’s cock, Taehyung’s hand in Jungkook’s hair as tears dripped down his face. It was one of the most beautifully realistic, and yet lightest and simplest pen drawings in the book. He whipped around to make sure his mom was still in another room. Taehyung snickered. The next picture was a small, distant view of Chanyeol hugging Baekhyun with a fluffy towel. He remembered Taehyung’s lonely face in that moment and unconsciously leaned closer into his side.

The last picture was one of the few full-color drawings, a two-page spread of the two of them sitting in Foxy Loxy’s courtyard. Taehyung’s hair was purple and they were both obviously soaking wet, their first day out together. He felt warm all over, the kind of cozy warm he’d felt in his bed that morning.

“You like it?” Taehyung murmured, tipping his head back where it was cushioned against Jungkook’s arm to look up at him with wide eyes.

“Hands down, best present I’ve ever gotten.”

“Really?”

“I love it. Thank you.” He started turning through the pages again, handling them like he was afraid to smudge the ink.

Taehyung smiled softly against his shoulder.

“May I look through it?” Mom asked.

“No way,” Jungkook said.

“Oh please. I can handle anything.”

“I don’t want you to handle some of the stuff in here.”

“Wow.”

“I’m sorry Mom. I love you.”

“You’re only nineteen.”

“I’m legal, mostly.”

“What’s even in there?”

“Hopefully you’ll never know. I’ll show you some of them.”

Taehyung fell asleep as he went slowly through it with his mom, holding the book out of view every time he turned the page. She caught sight of Jimin in his leather straps, but other than that, they got through it safely.

“Marry him,” she mouthed, nodding towards where Taehyung sagged into his shoulder.

Jungkook laughed quietly.

“I’m not kidding,” she murmured.

“He’d never let me,” he whispered back.

Much later that day, back in his apartment, he was looking through the sketchbook again, and Taehyung threw himself down onto the couch, tucking his hand down under Jungkook’s arm, squirming into his lap.

“I’m glad you like it so much,” he murmured, “Took me forever.” He crammed further into Jungkook’s lap till his ass was planted firmly between his thighs and his head was snuggled into his shoulder. He fell asleep again, and he must know much Jungkook loved his face when he slept with the amount of times his own sleeping face had shown up in the sketchbook. Taehyung, so afraid of being connected to someone else, had drawn their entire friendship for him.

Jungkook felt safe like Taehyung was his own, curled up like a cat across his chest, his forehead against Jungkook’s jaw, exactly the kind of affection Jungkook craved. Maybe Taehyung did everything on accident, the way he made Jungkook want him more and more by being everything Jungkook wanted. He wondered if Taehyung even realized that he acted exactly like the boyfriend he didn’t want to be.

Jungkook woke up in the middle of the night still sitting on the couch with Taehyung slumped over in his lap and a blanket thrown across both of them. His phone glowed, meaning he’d just been woken up with a text. He grabbed it carefully, Taehyung snoring ever so quietly in his ear, and turned the brightness way down to look at it.

Two texts from Jimin, the first since break started: So ducking wastd and getting m dick sucked rn. Then Sorry, wrong person. Taehyung’s phone buzzed on the coffee table, and Jungkook didn’t have to guess who it was from.

He put his phone on do not disturb and sat there in the dark for a minute. He didn’t really need Jimin’s answer when he got back. As sweet and fun as Jimin was, he didn’t want him. Jimin may have actually dated him, but Jimin would never fall asleep on his lap after spending Christmas with his mother, or draw an entire book of sketches for him. He would never make Jungkook feel like there wasn’t enough air in the world, or not enough time in the day just to be near him. Jungkook didn’t smile every time he saw Jimin. He didn’t come home excited to see Jimin on his couch, or go out to coffee shops to chat for hours when he could be playing video games.

He wanted Taehyung, and Taehyung would leave him if he knew.

 

Taehyung’s birthday was a quiet affair with no one in town. He called his mother when he thought Jungkook was asleep, and Jungkook lay quietly in the next room and listened to him make dumb jokes and apologize for all the damage he did to her vagina twenty-one years ago.

“Worst Christmas present ever, dear,” he heard ringing over the line from the next room. Taehyung went out and bought alcohol legally, and came home to find Jungkook awake and ready for the day.

“I got peach schnapps and more vodka.”

“But I have so much vodka already.”

“I’m gonna drink all of it, and I know you’ve nearly run out of peach schnapps.”

“Careful, dude. Do you want me to make you a Sex On the Beach before I go to work?”

When he came back, Taehyung was well on his way to thoroughly drunk. He sat down on the couch by his head and pulled Taehyung into his lap.

“How have you spent your birthday so far?”

“Filled a water bottle with Sex on the Beach, walked all the way down to Foxy, spent nearly half of the gift card your mother gave me, and then walked back. Had to piss so bad, I did it in a square. It’s getting kinda chilly out.”

“You could get arrested for that.”

“I had no choice!” He took another swig from his water bottle.

“You’re wearing the green sweater I got you.”

“S’warm.”

“You look super cuddly.”

“Cuddle me.”

Jungkook muscled him up close and kissed him gently. “The longer you have brown hair, the more I like it.”

“I might let it grow all the way out to black this time,” he murmured, and then kissed him back, hands tangling in the front of Jungkook’s Bee Company shirt. Jungkook melted into it, lying sideways over him. At any moment, he expected Taehyung’s hands to start wandering, for him to pull back with that mischievous glint in his eyes, but he never did. The kiss stayed deep and slow, dripping with passion and soft moans.

“Thought you didn’t like kissing like this,” he murmured, throat tight.

Taehyung sighed, “I’m trying it out. You’re safe. I like the way you kiss me.”

Jungkook smiled and tried not to read too much into that.

“I got you a birthday present,” he murmured after a while.

“Right after Christmas? You didn’t!”

He sat up and retrieved a box hidden under the couch and handed it to him.

“Why the hell did you hide it under the couch?”

“It was the only place I could think of that I figured you don’t look through regularly.”

Taehyung ripped it open. It was the same blue, pink, and yellow vibrator Jimin had.

“Oh. Oh god. Holy fuck. No.”

Jungkook had already put the batteries in it. He watched, amused, as Taehyung turned it on and tested the strength against his hand.

“Fuck.”

He stuck it down the back of his shirt and lay down on top of it. “Oh god. And it makes a great massager.” He moaned loudly. “Kookie, you devil, whatever am I to do with you?”

“I can see you getting hard through your jeans.”

“Go get the lube.”

Jungkook sucked Taehyung off while twisting the vibrator in his ass. He came in minutes, and sucked Jungkook off without removing the vibrator, having to stop and pant every few minutes, eyebrows drawn together and tearing up from overstimulation. Jungkook came watching him work himself back up as he tried valiantly to give Jungkook the blowjob of his life.

“Let’s go somewhere,” Taehyung said a half hour later as he emerged from the shower.

“Let me guess. Tahiti or some shit.”

“Not this time. I was just gonna take you to Planet 3 and get your ears pierced.”

“Oh.”

“If you’re cool with that.”

“Sounds expensive?”

“Mom sent me a ton of money for Christmas, and I want to say thank you for being here for me this break.”

“No way, thank you. I would have been so lonely without you here.”

“Jungkook, can I please get your ears pierced? I think you’d look great.”

So Jungkook got his ears pierced because Taehyung had him completely whipped. Several hours later he stood in his bathroom, staring curiously at his own reflection. Taehyung popped up behind him with eyeliner, an eyeshadow pallet, and his water bottle of alcohol. “Wanna see you looking super hot with this stuff on.”

“Let me do that. You’re so drunk you’d just poke my eyes out,” Jungkook said, and Taehyung swayed dangerously, giggling.

“You can put eyeliner on by yourself now! So proud.” He bounced back into the bedroom. Jungkook could hear him jumping on the bed and humming “Let it Go” to himself.

“Don’t fall and kill yourself on your birthday.” Taehyung jumped off the bed and bounced like a pinball off the wall and out into the living room. Jungkook finished with the eyeliner and stared at his reflection a little. Eyeliner, black studs, and a beanie pulled low over his hair. He looked like one of the punk kids in high school that his friends giggled about behind their hands. He also looked pretty hot. “Taehyung Kim, what are you doing to me?” he sighed.

Taehyung skipped in right on cue and pulled his grabbed him by the jaw, staring him down.

“You look like a skater. Or a scene kid. I like it. You’re super hot.” He handed Jungkook his water bottle and leaned heavily on the sink as Jungkook took a swig.

“To getting super fucked up on New Years tomorrow night!” Taehyung yelled.

“To not having to work the next day,” Jungkook yelled back, hefting the water bottle aloft.

They spent the next forty-eight hours wandering the city aimlessly beneath the string lights and the wintery smell of live oaks and horse-drawn carriages over car fumes and piss, Jungkook’s childhood Savannah. No matter how far away Taehyung ran, escaping like a dog out the garden fence every few minutes, he always came right back to Jungkook’s side, leaning close and holding on tight like he didn’t realize what he was doing.

Perfect, Jungkook thought sometime around 5:00 a.m. on New Years as they lay on their backs in the middle of a cold square, breath ghosting out in a mist and hands tangled together. He’s Perfect. Just date me already, he thought at Taehyung, who didn’t seem to pick up on the telepathic link, playing with Jungkook’s fingers over his fabric-scraps jacket, and staring up at the velvety black sky through the street-lamp-stained Spanish moss overhead. Jungkook felt himself fall a little further in love.

 

A week later, Jungkook realized that the best way to tell if Taehyung was drunk or not was by determining whether or not he would let Jungkook kiss him without immediately demanding sex afterwards. He then realized that Taehyung was drunk a lot more often than he used to think. He spent the night out at the bar, working, with Namjoon.

“Damn, I miss the kids,” Namjoon said, swirling his Cuba Libre sin lima in one hand.

“Most of them are older than you are.”

“They’re kids until they have to pay all their own bills, and only Yoongi does that. You’re still a kid too, you know.”

Jungkook sighed and filled another drink order. “I just can’t fucking get over the last quarter rent. I need more hours, but the Bee Company seems to be trying to turn me into a part-timer with the shit hours they give me every week. It’s like working at Wal-Mart. They’re trying to get me to quit.”

“Are you going to?”

“I’ve put in applications at, like, every coffee shop within walking distance, and at the Flying Monk, though that’s a last resort. I do not want to be a waiter. The Coffee Fox would be perfect, but really, I’m not picky. Paris Market would be good too.”

“I heard Taehyung asking about jobs in the Coffee Fox only yesterday. He has an in, too. That girl that he’s friends with, Elliot, or something.”

“It’s Ellis. Fuck. He’d be perfect. I can only hope the Paris Market will pick me up, but then I’ll have to deal with inventory too.”

“It’s a better inventory than fucking bee products. Sometimes you come to the bar still smelling like that damn shop, you know. At least there you can deal with vintage jewelry and broken down furniture and photography books. It’s a cool place.”

“I hope they hire me if the Coffee Fox doesn’t, but every time I go in there, all their employees are really sweet-looking white girls with straight hair and nice shoes, and I just got my fucking ears pierced.”

Namjoon flinched sympathetically. “My last employer didn’t like my tattoo sleeves or my blonde hair, so I get that. You sure your cute face won’t make up for that?”

“Careful. Your face is awfully cute too when you’re not careful.”

Namjoon narrowed his eyes and took a long sip of his rum. He looked dangerous. Jungkook snorted. “You should see this picture Taehyung drew of you. It’s just you drinking moodily with ‘The Philosopher,’ written under it. Fucking hilarious.”

“Fuck you. My drunk ramblings are better than any college philosophy course.”

“Sure, Aristotle.”

“Don’t fucking call me that asshole’s name. Led us astray for centuries.”

Jungkook giggled. “Go get a philosophy degree, Namjoon.”

“I might.”

“What?”

“I might go to college if I save up enough, maybe apply for some scholarships or something. Seokjin keeps talking about these really awesome courses he took in college, and, I don’t know, I’m interested.”

Jungkook gaped. “What happened to college being a worthless money trap?”

Namjoon shook his head. “Back to your job problem. Maybe Taehyung should get the Paris Market job. He could pass for a cute, sweet white girl if he really tried. He’d have to use his phone more and stop bouncing off walls in his free time.”

“Throwin some dangerous shade, there Namjoon. I’m not sure if Taehyung or white girls should be more offended.”

Namjoon took another long sip of his drink. “What’s going on with you and Taehyung? And Jimin. What happened to you and him?”

Jungkook was not prepared for that question, and he was sure it showed on his face.

“No need to look so freaked out. Jeez. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, but I’m worried about you, kid. That’s all starting to look like a real mess.”

Jungkook chewed on his lip and thought about it for a moment. “God, I wish he’d date me. He’s kinda perfect?”

“Oh.” Namjoon, just as lonely as Jungkook, had had the relationships debate with Taehyung multiple times. “Right. So no Jimin then?”

“He’d know I was just settling for him. I don’t want to do that to anyone. I’m gonna call it off when he gets back.”

“Good. He’s not ready for a serious relationship anyway. On nights that you’re not here he’ll flirt with anyone and it makes me uncomfortable.”

“I know he does. We’re not after the same thing.”

“But neither are you and Taehyung.”

“That’s the difference. It doesn’t bother me that Jimin and I aren’t after the same thing. Sure I got frustrated with it when we were actually dating, but calling all that off and just being friends doesn’t bother me. The fact that Taehyung and I are at odds is beginning to actually hurt. I don’t know how to fix it.” He wondered if this is what Jess had felt like with him, and immediately felt a wave of loneliness.

Namjoon shook his head. “I’d help you if I could, kid.”

“I’m worried this is gonna fuck me up.”

“Don’t give up yet.”

 

“Wait, you don’t want me to be your boyfriend anymore?”

Jungkook took a deep breath, the cooling tea in Jimin’s owl mug held protectively over his face. “Yeah.”

“Oh good. I was stressing out about it all throughout break because I was gonna tell you that we should stay fwb, you know?”

Jungkook had expected it, but his heart sank anyway. “I’d figured, yeah.”

“Would you still be up for hooking up or not?”

Jungkook sighed in frustration. “Is that what you care about?”

“I’m assuming we’d still be friends, I’m just wondering if you’re ok with me flirting with you and trying to pick you up at the bar.”

“Yeah, I’m ok with that. I just…might not reciprocate because…reasons.”

“Did I do something wrong? I’m sorry.” Jimin suddenly looked like a worried puppy, his droopy eyes going wide, pouting.

“No, no. It’s not anything you did, besides just not being good boyfriend material.”

“I’m not?”

“You’re constantly flirting with other people. You decided yourself that you’re not up for being my boyfriend. Don’t give me grief for it. And when I say it’s me, not you, I mean it. It’s about Taehyung.”

“Oh fuck, you’re not still trying to date him, are you?”

“Why would I try? He’s never gonna go out with me. You should see how he pulls away when I get sweet and he’s paying attention. It hurts. I want him so bad. I just don’t want to go out with anyone else while I’m still hung up this bad. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll get over it. I’m trying to be satisfied with what we have.”

“Should I stop hooking up with him?”

“No, do what you want,” Jungkook said, and cringed internally. “The last thing I need to be doing is limiting who hooks up with him. I’m not a jealous asshole. Or I try not to be, at least.”

“Are you going to tell him you want to date him?”

“No. He’d run away.”

“That’s true.”

Jungkook sighed. “I’m just going to live with it.” He rolled over sideways on he couch a little and croaked, “this sucks,” into the pillow. Jimin took his tea gingerly out of his hands so he didn’t dump it on the couch cushions.

“Do you have work today?”

“Nah.”

“Let’s go down to the Coffee Fox, without Taehyung, and see what mischief we can get up to.”

Jimin kept up a steady stream of distracting conversation all the way there, and when they walked in, the manager called him over and said, “We have a job opening if you want it.”

“Really? Sweet! That’s great! When can I start?”

“Come in whenever you can tomorrow and we’ll get your paperwork sorted out.”

“Good shit,” Jimin said, when he came and sat down, grinning.

“I can quit the fucking Bee Company! I can put in my fucking two-weeks notice tomorrow! Don’t tell Taehyung.”

 

A week later, he figured he should at least ask if Taehyung really wanted that job. “Yeah, I asked,” Taehyung responded, “but I honestly don’t think I’d be able to get up the balls to do it even if they called me.”

“Dude, people work. That’s what they do. You’re going to have to jump on that bandwagon eventually.”

“Ugh. I don’t want to. Can’t I just live off my mom forever? I hate being responsible for myself. It’s scary.”

“Someone’s gotta be responsible for you. I thought you wanted to be independent.”

“I do, but I want to be drawing for it.”

Taehyung snatched the snapback off of Jungkook’s head and tried to imitate the style he’d just been wearing it in, putting the cap on backwards with his bangs pushed back underneath. Jungkook’s jaw dropped a little. He looked astoundingly handsome. He’d nearly forgotten Taehyung had such sharp, thick eyebrows, since he never saw them but for rare moments in bed when Taehyung’s hair was everywhere at once.

“That is the most I’ve ever seen of your forehead,” he said in a low voice.

“Yeah?” Taehyung asked.

“You look really good.”

Taehyung immediately got up and skipped to the bathroom to look. “Huh!”

Jungkook followed him in. Taehyung was grinning at himself in the mirror. “I look like a total bro! I’d fuck that!”

“You like total bros?”

“I like you, don’t I?” He stood there, tilting his head back and forth and pulling different faces. “Fuck, I’m hot.”

Jungkook smirked. “Yeah you are.” He wrapped his arms around Taehyung’s waist. Taehyung giggled and grinned, but his nose wrinkled and he squirmed out of his grip.

“Don’t make it gay. Jeez.”

“We’re both gay, dude.”

“I fuck women sometimes.”

“You fuck anything that looks at you the right way.”

Taehyung leaned against the sink, grinning. “Let’s go somewhere.”

“Where?”

“New Zealand. I wanna see hobbits.”

“I’ve never seen those movies.”

“Let’s go wander around River Street. I’ll dress like you, and you dress like me.”

“Why on earth would I do that?”

Taehyung pouted. “You always rave about me wearing fluffy sweaters. I want to see you in one. No shirt underneath! I’m gonna go grab one of your giant white shirts.”

Jungkook really hoped he didn’t look as stupid as Taehyung did in a giant hoodie and a backwards snapback. He also hoped he didn’t look as dumb as thought, wearing just Taehyung’s excellent white knit sweater and his ripped up skinny jeans and tan work boots. At least the weather had warmed up a little, a bearable, if slightly uncomfortable fifty degrees and a breeze that bit into Jungkook’s borrowed sweater and right through his beanie.

Taehyung dragged him down the steep, steep, centuries-old stairs down the bluff at the edge of the city to River Street. “I like your Vans. They’re comfortable.”

His teeth chattered. “It’s windy down here by the water.”

“Remember the summer when all the marsh grass was green and more trees had leaves,” Taehyung said, pointing at the opposite bank, a long dusty green island in the middle of the marshy river with only a few huge buildings. On the other side of that was South Carolina.

“Of course I do. I’ve lived here for nineteen years. Fuck, Taehyung. Are you always this cold?”

“Why don’t you have an accent?”

“My parents are northern. Most of my friends from school didn’t have an accent. This city is a pretty weird mix of yankees and southerners.”

“C’mon. Candy store.”

River Street Sweets had tubes of candy running from the middle of the wall up to the high ceilings. Barrels of candy sat everywhere. Jungkook slipped into the familiar pattern of exploring the shop like a normal person as Taehyung bounded off like, well, a kid in a candy store, Jungkook’s hoodie flapping like a cape behind him, bunched up at his wrists, his cap an unfamiliar flag in the crowd for him to keep track of. He missed the orange hair. It had been so easy to spot him.

Taehyung bounded back up with no few than three giant lollipops, and a bag of saltwater taffy. “I want.”

“Do you have money for that?”

Taehyung shook his head, still smiling expectantly.

“I’m not paying for your candy.”

Taehyung pouted, those eyebrows drawing up so expressively. His hoody hung off one shoulder.

“I’ll pay for something, but not that much.”

Taehyung actually jumped up and down in excitement and then rushed off again. Jungkook watched him put everything back and trailed after him, confused. He found his way back to him at the glass counter in front of the huge slabs of fudge.

“We’re getting some of that. Which one do you want?”

“The one with peanut butter. Really? Fudge? That’s more expensive than the other shit you wanted.”

“Ah, but we’re having less of it.”

Taehyung ordered for both of them, leaning up against the glass with his arms crushed in front of him. The smiley girl on the other side kept fluttering her eyelashes at him. A family with three loud, young children tried to crush past and Jungkook scooted close to Taehyung, his hands on the glass on either side of him, his body lined all the way up against his back. Taehyung glanced over his shoulder at Jungkook’s face, mere inches away as he made sure the last straggling child got past. “I’m not your boyfriend, honey,” he said, eyebrows raised, a clear demand for Jungkook to stop caging him against the counter.

Jungkook gave him a long stare, because really, after all the shit he put Jungkook through in public, after sitting on his lap in coffee shops and rutting into his hand at the Halloween party, why the hell would this matter? “Will you and Jimin cut it out with the ‘honey?’ I know its weird, but that really bothers me. You’re both northern, so you don’t get what that really means down here.”

“It’s supposed to be sharp and condescending, right?”

“Yeah. You two use it for that, and for affectionate, and everything in between and all I ever hear is sharp and condescending, and it’s fucking insulting when anyone says it, but you two especially.”

“I meant it as sharp and condescending though.”

“Fuck you,” Jungkook said, and backed off. “I’ll fucking trample the children next time. Let me just pay for your fucking fudge and stand quietly in the corner then.”

Taehyung’s eyebrows drew in, confused and a little hurt. “What—? Why are you so mad?”

Jungkook rolled his eyes and paid for the fudge. He turned to see Taehyung still lying against the glass, his head on the top of the counter, staring worriedly at Jungkook.

“Here,” he murmured, and handed Taehyung his fudge. Taehyung took it gently, staring up through his lashes.

“I’m sorry I snapped at you?” he offered.

“It’s ok,” Jungkook said. He felt like kicking himself. “It’s just…you know how I am with condescending.”

Taehyung bumped shoulders with him and murmured another apology. Jungkook gave him a quick side hug and they kept walking.

There were so many cheap tourist shops down the street, and by the time they had strolled it end to end, the cold had intensified. Taehyung’s boundless energy returned at full throttle, and Jungkook had to wrestle him down from an actual tree once, and drag him away from imitating two street performers. Taehyung went willingly, giggling so hard he needed to stop walking and breath a couple times. Jungkook snickered affectionately.

Taehyung kept messing with his hat, pulling it forward and checking himself in shop windows as they walked past. Jungkook kept messing with the sweater, tangling the bottom around his hands to feel the weight and softness of the threads.

Taehyung hooked an arm around his shoulder, real casual, and said, “Not that I don’t enjoy getting an eyeful of your abs every few minutes, but some chick nearly walked out in front of a car staring at you, so you might want to stop pulling your sweater halfway up your chest. I thought you were cold.”

“I’m freezing. The wind is terrible and the sweater does nothing. It really does not make a difference whether it’s on or off my body. I wish you’d let me put a coat on, like your fabric-scraps jacket or something. And, like, another two sweaters, a scarf, and gloves.”

Taehyung snickered. “It’s only fifty-five degrees out here. You need to wear clingy clothes more often, Kookie. You look good. No homo.”

“We’re both gay, you idiot. What’s gotten into you today? Just because you’re wearing a snapback doesn’t mean you have to act like a douche.”

Taehyung smacked the hat sideways on his head and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Do I look like a dick now?”

“God, I hope I don’t look like that when I wear those clothes.”

“You do though.”

Jungkook remembered his high school days when he was proud of looking like that and groaned. “All you artists are fucking me up. I used to be a respectable asshole, you know!”

Taehyung giggled and turned back into an alternative teddy bear, curling over with a massive, infectious grin on his face. “Seriously though,” he said, nodding at the sweater, “you look fantastic. You need to update your wardrobe.”

“People like my usual look at the bar.”

“People like your drinks. They won’t care what you’re wearing. They don’t care about us scaddies.”

“They do though.”

“…Oh. You wanna get ice cream? I think there’s a gelato place somewhere down here.”

Taehyung got in a gelato-stealing fight with a seven-year-old, and they got thrown out only halfway through Jungkook’s mint flavored scoops. Taehyung danced down to the waterfront where the wind was worst and hopped up and down on the stone benches, looking dangerously like he might fall at any second. Jungkook followed, eating quickly.

A huge container ship drifted past, higher than any of the city buildings, and blasted its horn. Taehyung hopped down quickly, as if personally offended, and then ran right up to the railing and yelled back. Jungkook threw his gelato cup away, shivering so hard his hands shook, and then stumbled up and wrapped his arms around Taehyung from behind, sighing and slumping into the warmth.

“Not your boyfriend, Jungkook,” Taehyung said softly. Jungkook realized Taehyung wasn’t leaning back against him like did every single other time Jungkook had ever given him a back hug. He was gripping the railing and stiff as a board in Jungkook’s arms. He slowly let go and backed up, hugging himself tightly, his heart hammering in his chest. The gelato felt like it was freezing his body from the inside.

“Since when did that matter?” he asked. “You are distressingly unaffectionate today.”

Taehyung looked at him with a dangerously blank frown. Jungkook was no longer sure if it was the frigid gelato and wind combination or his heart frantically slamming against his ribcage that had him shaking so bad.

“Stop treating me like a boyfriend. You know that shit scares me.”

“Fuck, Taehyung, I’m not doing anything different than what you always do. I don’t know how I’m supposed to act. I’m not treating you like my boyfriend. I’m treating you like you, because that’s how we’ve been for months. I’m fucking freezing, Taehyung. If I can’t use you as a space heater, can we go inside?”

Taehyung looked back out at the water like he was thinking about swimming. The thought made another round of chills race through him, and he crouched down on the ground to try to conserve warmth. Taehyung stared, statue-like, out at the container ship.

The wind ripped right through the holes in Jungkook’s sweater and he tensed up so hard he fell over with a yelp onto the freezing bricks.

“Georgians,” Taehyung scoffed, and finally moved, helping Jungkook off the ground. “Let’s go the fuck home then. You’re freezing.”

“We could, like, go in other stores or something. I don’t want to make you go home before you want to.”

“It’s cool. I’m not in the mood to fuck around out here anymore.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You’re fine. It’s my fault. I’m a dick. I’m sorry I made you wear that.”

Jungkook snorted. “Don’t be. This shit is so comfortable you’re never getting it back. I just wish it was warmer out today.”

Taehyung smiled just a little, but he stayed at least two feet away from Jungkook all the way home and refrained from running down alleys and greeting every dog in the squares. When they finally walked into the apartment, Jungkook was practically delirious from cold. He collapsed onto the couch and yanked the blanket around him, wishing it would warm up faster. Taehyung put a movie in and sat on the very end of the couch.

“What are we watching?” Jungkook whimpered, still shaking like a leaf, wishing Taehyung would crawl in with him and warm him up.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World, finally. I’ve been wanting to show you this since day one.”

“Day one? I’d known your name for, like, two whole weeks at that point.”

“You know what I mean,” Taehyung snorted.

They watched the movie in steadily warming silence. Sometimes Taehyung would quote a line. Sometimes Jungkook giggled at the brilliant over-acting.

“She’s another Manic Pixie Dream Girl, you know,” Taehyung said, halfway through, “Ramona is. She’s one of the only things that bothers me about this movie.”

“What bothers you about her?”

“They build her up to be such a strong, wild person, but by the end she’s just another prize to win. She doesn’t grow or change. We learn no lessons from her. Her strength is a personality quirk. That’s it. And it doesn’t even help her. She needs fucking ‘if your life had a face I would punch it’ Scott Pilgrim to save her.”

“Dude, don’t spoil it.”

“But you see my problem though. That was super predictable, right?”

“Yeah. I see it.”

As the credits rolled, Taehyung huffed and turned the TV off. “There it was. The cult movie of our generation.”

“Well that’s a claim.”

“I make it. I make that claim.”

Jungkook waited for the usual after-movie monologue. Taehyung just curled up on his end of the couch and played with the snapback.

“Taehyung, what’s wrong?”

“My ex-boyfriend called me yesterday.”

“Yeah?”

“He wanted to know how I was doing. He said he missed me. I feel terrible because he’s still so attached to me, but I absolutely hated being with him.”

“Why?”

“He was like the teachers in high school. He liked me when I was medicated and treated me like an idiot when I wasn’t. I felt owned. He was so sweet though, and he meant everything to me, enough that I felt worthless whenever he got annoyed. Then he said he loved me and I fucking ran.”

“So that’s why you’re scared of relationships, right? Because of him?”

“Yeah. It’s a trap!” he said, and laughed a little.

“Do I ever do that?” Jungkook asked, “Like, make you feel worthless or whatever? Is that why you kept shrugging me off today?”

Taehyung looked surprised. “No, never. None of my friends do. I’m sorry about all that, by the way. I felt freaked out and I took it out on you. You can hug me whenever you want.”

Jungkook went limp against the couch with relief. “I was worried I’d done something.” He was worried Taehyung had figured out his very unfortunate feelings and decided he didn’t trust him anymore. The feelings would go away soon enough anyway. They had to.

“I’d never—we’d never try to control you like that, Taehyung. We all love you too much.”

Taehyung smiled. “I know. And you all dump affection on me anyway so I don’t even need anyone else around.”

“What about when we all have boyfriends or girlfriends of our own?”

Taehyung blinked, staring at the snapback, then took a deep breath and put it back on, and that lonely look from back in Chanyeol’s bathroom was so much more heartbreaking when Jungkook could see his eyebrows. “Don’t do that to me,” he said softly, finally meeting Jungkook’s eyes. “Don’t leave me.”

“No promises,” Jungkook said.

Taehyung face twitched a little towards heartbreak. “Yeah. Ok. I’m sorry.”

Jungkook lifted the blanket, his arms spread for a hug, and Taehyung climbed immediately in to lie against him, burying his face under Jungkook’s chin and wrapping his arms around him. Jungkook covered them both with the blanket and they fell asleep still wearing each other’s clothes.

 

Taehyung came into the Coffee Fox on Jungkook’s very first day working there, wearing a new flower-patterned snapback, which looked great with the dead stag shirt and the fabric scraps jacket. They both gaped at each other for a few moments. “The fuck are you doing behind the counter?”

Jungkook giggled. “I quit the Bee Company. I’m free!”

“Holy shit! I just went in there to show you my snapback! I was so confused when you weren’t there.”

“Can I get you something to drink?”

“Chamomile tea, please. I’ve got your honey straws in my backpack. Gotta stay prepared, you know?”

“You liked the snapback enough to buy one, huh?”

“I look fuckin fantastic. I’m gonna start a collection. You need to start buying cute sweaters so I’m not the only one changing up my fashion sense.”

Jungkook took a step back to show him the extravagantly patterned blue and black thing he was wearing. “Found this in my mom’s closet.”

“Oh fuck, that’s the perfect thrift store grandma sweater. I love the way it hugs your pecs. You look good. See if she has any more.”

“How about I just borrow yours? Love wearing your clothes, babe.”

“Jungkook, don’t flirt with the customers!”

“But what if it gets us more business?”

His manager’s man-bun and fuzzy beard appeared around an espresso machine along with one plaid shoulder. “I guess that’s ok then—Oh Taehyung! Didn’t realize that was you. Ok flirt away, Jungkook, I know how he is.”

Jungkook snorted at Taehyung’s put-out expression. “I’m not that bad, am I?”

“You’re a terrible flirt, V.” Jungkook handed him his chamomile and watched him retreat to a corner and pull out his sketchbook. For the next two hours, he didn’t move. It was astounding. He finally got up and strolled up to the counter.

“More hot water please. I’ll re-use the teabag.”

“I have never seen you sit still for so long.”

“Hey, I’m concentrating. I’m in the zone. It’s a beautiful thing. Look. I drew a short comic of you and man-bun over there being cute and in love.”

“Are—are you shipping us?”

“Yup.”

Behind him, man-bun burst into hysterical laughter. Jungkook turned bright red.

“It’s my first day on the job, Taehyung. Why are you doing this to me?”

Jungkook dropped his sketchbook on the counter. “I think it’s perfect.”

“I like women,” man-bun snickered.

“Oh my. This story just got a lot more interesting. Do you mind if I make you chick, Kookie?”

“Fuck it. Do whatever. Did you do any homework while you sat over there?”

Taehyung flipped a page over. “Sexy orcs concept art. This is one fucking weird assignment.”

Jungkook put his head down on the counter and giggled helplessly. Man-bun came over and nodded thoughtfully. “I like the grungy aesthetic.”

“Yeah, I figured that’d work best. With huge tits.”

“There’s not much else you can do with orcs.”

“I’m gonna die,” Jungkook moaned.

“This is so much better than selling artisanal honey to bottle-blond housewives and vapid tourists, isn’t it?” Taehyung said.

“My life just got an upgrade.”

Man-bun smacked him on the back. “Glad you see it that way, kid.”

Taehyung snickered when Jungkook’s face flattened at the nickname.

He stayed in the corner with his sketchbook only long enough to finish his second cup of tea, then came back up to the counter where Jungkook’s manager was showing him how to distinguish between burritos on the menu. Several attractive young women and a couple dudes with skateboards waited patiently near the register. “I’ll see you later, Kookie. I’m so fucking glad you work here now. I’m gonna have so much fun with you, but right now, I’m gonna go to your apartment and sit on the vibrator you got me and make a fucking mess of your sheets. Bye!”

The entire crowd of people turned, slack-jawed, and watched him walk out the door, then turned back around to see Jungkook, only to find that he’d disappeared below the edge of the counter. Man-bun stared down at him on the floor for a minute, and then lifted him back up with surprising strength and, smirking, forced him to complete the order with a bright red face and shifty eyes.

“Didn’t know you two were together.”

“We’re not,” Jungkook answered miserably.

He returned to find Taehyung naked and sweating on his couch, thrusting the vibrator lazily in and out of his ass, Jungkook’s snapback lying half on his head, have pinned between him and he couch.

“Fuck, Taehyung, it’s been three hours. Are you still at it?”

“Three hours? Shit.” He panted for a minute. “I’ve been…edging…since I got here.”

Jungkook’s clothes were already halfway off.

“Make me come. Fuck, Kookie, I need you so bad.”

Jungkook shivered and took the vibrator from Taehyung, thrusting hard and fast and watching his abs clench and his neck stretch. “Do it, baby. Come for me.” Taehyung whined through clenched teeth and grabbed Jungkook’s hair, pulling him towards his dick. Jungkook complied easily, sliding his mouth and sucking heavily.

“Oh god, Kookie. Best fucking view. I love watching—Aughh! Love watching you with a dick in your mouth. You look…you look kinda peaceful actually,” he laughed frantically, “But intense. God, Jungkook, please. I’m gonna—uughh.” He trailed off into gasping sobs and then his body bucked frantically and he came crying, his hands so tight in Jungkook’s hair that he felt a few strands snap.

He pulled the vibrator out and threw it in the bathroom sink to deal with later, and then wiped the lube off the insides of Taehyung’s thighs with a wad of tissues. “Thanks, bruh. You’re the best,” he managed, barely able to keep his eyes open.

“Were you wearing my snapback?”

“Huh? Yeah, I guess I was.”

“Fuck, that’s kinda hot,” Jungkook said. Taehyung smiled sheepishly. “Are you gonna return the favor?”

“Let me suck you off.”

“Be my guest.”

Taehyung struggled to sit up so Jungkook tugged him upright and leaned back, watching Taehyung’s bangs flop back down over his forehead.

Taehyung eyes furrowed and he moaned like a starving man eating chocolate as he sank down over Jungkook’s dick, and Jungkook’s neck stopped supporting his head. It thunked on the armrest and he had to look down past his nose to see Taehyung tucked in tight between his legs, bangs in his eyelashes yet again.

“Fuck, how are you so good at this.”

“The secret,” Taehyung said, taking a quick break to tease the head of his cock with his fingertips, “is to enjoy the hell out of it.” He sucked him back down. Jungkook moaned and closed his eyes, letting his mind focus in on the slick heat on his body.

“Hurry, V. I gotta get ready to go to the bar soon.”

Taehyung hummed low on his dick and went to work, sucking and bobbing, cheeks hollowed in. He felt Taehyung tongue flick pointed and sharp under the head and hips jerked. Taehyung looked like he was trying not to grin. One of his hands smoothed up his clenching stomach and just pet him appreciatively. Jungkook came in minutes and didn’t even have the presence of mind to be embarrassed about it.

They showered together, no sex, just bros getting clean, jammed into a tiny space that they had trouble fitting into just one at a time. Taehyung washed Jungkook’s hair for him, and it took a lot of resistance not to just stop right there mid-shower and kiss him silly. He felt hesitant to initiate things though. Taehyung scared easily.

 

“Yoongi and Jimin are together now,” Taehyung told him, a week before Valentine’s Day.

“You’re kidding.”

“I’m not. That’s why neither of us have seen him around much.”

“He was still around when he was dating me.”

“You aren’t Yoongi. Yoongi’s tying him down big time. I feel bad for the guy, but he fucking deserves it. He should know what happens when you let someone claim you.”

Yoongi and Jimin showed up at the bar later on, and sure enough, Jimin was latched onto Yoongi like a cat in a high tree. “Hey Jungkook—”

“That was fast.”

Jimin looked very guilty. “He, um, was very persuasive.”

“Does this mean you’re exclusive now?” Jimin blushed and accepted his favorite drink, which Jungkook had started mixing the moment he walked in the door.

“Yeah, we are.”

Jungkook raised his eyebrows. “Wow.”

Yoongi sidled up next to Jimin and threw an arm around his shoulders, clearly possessive. “I grabbed him the minute you let him go. Worked out real well. He’s mine now. Paws off.”

Jimin tried to look annoyed, but Jungkook could see the happy smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

“You fucking snake,” he said to Yoongi, “You were just waiting for us to fall apart weren’t you.”

“Oh yeah. I feel a little bad,” Yoongi said with a smile.

“I will hurt you if you’re not perfect to him.”

“I’m not worried,” Jimin said.

Jungkook smiled. “Both of your first drinks are on me. Congrats.”

Taehyung thankfully understood that it was now poor form to grind on Jimin on the dance floor, or cuddle him from behind as he ordered drinks at the bar. He did, however, sit on Jimin’s feet and hug his legs while he was trying to play pool, and attempted to carry him from the bar to the bathroom later on in the evening. He failed. They both ate dust on the bar floor. Yoongi was amused.

Then Jimin and Yoongi left early, and Taehyung collapsed on a bar stool, strumming an imaginary guitar and crooning goofy love songs to Amber and Namjoon. Eventually even Namjoon and Amber left and Taehyung stayed at the counter and sketched on napkins with one of Jungkook’s pens.

“Ok, Taehyung. Spill. What’s up?”

“I lost my bar buddy. Jimin found a new bar buddy to fuck around with. You’re too young. I don’t have a bar buddy anymore.”

“You were fucking around with Jimin all night.”

“Not like we used to,” Taehyung said, “And then he left.” He stuck out his bottom lip, head on his arms, and stared morosely up at Jungkook under his bangs.

“You look like a five-year-old.”

“I want my Jiminy Cricket back.”

Jungkook came all the way out from behind the bar to give him a hug.

He stayed till Jungkook’s shift ended and they walked home together, Taehyung’s head sagging tiredly. He grabbed Jungkook’s hand and held on. “Don’t ever leave me,” he murmured. “You’re not allowed to. Someone’s gotta stick with me forever, right? I was depending on Jimin but he betrayed me. You’re not gonna leave too, right?”

Jungkook squeezed his hand tightly. “I can’t stay single forever, V.”

“Yes you can. I will. I’m not Jimin. I’d never let someone cage me up like that.”

“Jimin’s happy. Be happy for him.”

“Fuck Yoongi.”

“I’m happy for Yoongi too. Stop being so possessive of poor Jimin.”

“I’m not!” Taehyung backed off looking alarmed. “I’m letting him go, aren’t I?”

“Shhh, It’s, like, 3:30 a.m.”

“I want him back!”

“Taehyung, shh,” he roped him in with an arm around his shoulders and clutched him tightly. “You’re ok. Calm down.”

Taehyung chilled out a bit, and they continued walking, hand-in-hand.

“How are classes going?” Jungkook asked, grabbing for the most generic distracting conversation he could think of.

“Good. I’m doing well on projects. I’m just… stressed out. I don’t know.”

Jungkook and Taehyung brushed their teeth in the bathroom together like siblings, both trying to hog the sink. Taehyung eventually knocked everything off the surface of the sink and onto the floor and finished brushing his teeth while Jungkook frantically cleaned everything up and made sure nothing had gone in the toilet.

When he finally had everything cleaned up, and his teeth brushed, he turned around with the full intention of just collapsing into bed face first and not moving till 9:00 a.m., but Taehyung was leaning against the wall of the bathroom with an expression like glass, staring at him. “You’re wearing my pajamas,” Jungkook said.

“They’re a little big on me,” Taehyung answered.

“They’re a little big on me too.”

“You pull it off better, sexy.”

You’re beautiful, Jungkook wanted to say, but didn’t, the way his bangs brushed to the side just a little, showing a little slip of forehead, the way his delicate lips drew attention to themselves just by being perfect, the way his brown hair was slowly growing in black and natural underneath, making him look a little sloppy.

“Kiss me?” Taehyung asked, eyebrows drawing together under his bangs in a plea, as if Jungkook could refuse. “Kiss me like you love me,” he whispered, right before Jungkook’s lips touched his.

And wasn’t that just so easy.

Jungkook drew him close, one arm around his neck, the other tight around his lower back, his lips sliding slow, savoring every inch of Taehyung’s mouth, nipping ever so gently. Maybe he even groaned into it a little and didn’t notice, too caught up in kissing Taehyung exactly the way he wanted to, with such numbing intensity that it bordered on desperation. Taehyung sagged in his arms, letting Jungkook hold his weight, gripping the front of Jungkook’s shirt and kissing back just as passionately.

When Taehyung finally broke them apart, pressing against Jungkook’s chest and leaning back, his eyes were wide and lost, his mouth red and open, breathing heavily. He gulped, and Jungkook realized he was still looking at him like he was the only thing he’d ever kiss again.

“Is that…really how you like to kiss people?” Taehyung asked.

“Mostly just you,” Jungkook said, and hoped that was as close to a confession as he’d ever need.

“Just me. I guess you can’t really kiss anyone else anymore,” Taehyung muttered, pushing away. “Now that Jimin’s hopped on the exclusive train. I suppose maybe if Chanyeol and Baekhyun took you back in.”

Jungkook swayed the minute Taehyung shifted away, like his anchor had broken off. He wanted nothing more than to pull him back and kiss him until one of them had to leave the next morning, kiss him to say he’d never kiss anyone else like that, kiss him like he was getting paid for it, kiss him like he loved him, because holy shit, he did, but Taehyung was already crawling into bed, way on the edge like he wasn’t expecting to cuddle.

Jungkook found some new pajamas and slid in on the other side. Taehyung snored quietly on the other side of the bed, but Jungkook wrapped himself around his pillow and wished that it was Taehyung, that he didn’t have the exact feelings that would hurt Taehyung the most, and that he was allowed to kiss him like that again without his stomach boiling with guilt and longing.

After an hour like that, pain hard in his chest and tears tugging on his throat, he scooted backwards on the small full-sized bed until his back was pressed against Taehyung’s. It was only after that that he could fall asleep.

 

Being around Taehyung hurt. When he wasn’t being affectionate it just stung, when he was, it ached. He wanted. Deprived of his best friend and all the affection that came with, Taehyung was around even more than he always had been, filling up the spare corners of Jungkook’s week with inappropriate jokes and whimsical rambling. Jungkook made sure he had his worst schedule on Valentine’s Day: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Coffee Fox, and 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. at The Bar Bar. Taehyung found him anyway.

“My valentine was Jimin last year,” Taehyung said, leaning over the Fox counter at an oddly quiet moment between sickeningly cute couples on dates coming in. “He wasn’t even in class today. No way in hell he’ll be answering my texts. I wanna fuck someone.”

“I’ll be your valentine?”

“You’re working all day, and I’m kinda trying to be less dependent on my fwb’s, you know?” That made Jungkook pretty nervous. “I think I have some spare booty-calls in my phone. I wonder how desperate a booty-call on Valentine’s Day comes off as.”

“Probably pretty desperate.”

Taehyung sat in the corner and did homework. At around 2 p.m., Jungkook brought him another hot cup of water and prepared him tea as he woke up.

“You’re fucking amazing! Oh my god, Kookie, what did I do to deserve you?”

Jungkook leaned forward to knock heads with him. Taehyung leaned away, giggling. “Gross, Kookie. You’re chasing away potential valentines. There’s a bunch of hot people in here right now, and they all look single and ready to fuck.”

“Desperation is not a good look on you, V.”

“I’ve gotten laid on Valentine’s Day five years in a row now, and I’m not gonna break the streak. God, I love Valentine’s Day. Single forever!”

Jungkook watched in dismay as Taehyung chatted up some pretty girl sitting right behind him, watched as they hit it off, kinda saw, out of the corner of his eye, when it turned to flirting, Taehyung leaning on the back of his seat, smoldery smirk in place, hair flicked out of his eyes. They left arm and arm, Taehyung throwing him one last excited smirk over his shoulder. Jungkook laughed, impressed.

And then realized he was crushingly furious and distraught.

“You ok, Jungkook?” Man-bun asked, “You look kind of sick.”

“I’ll live,” he answered, hands shaking on the counter.

“God, what do I do?” Jungkook asked Namjoon over drinks later that night. Jungkook had a vodka tonic passing for water in a capped Styrofoam cup, and almost didn’t care if his manager caught him. “I can’t live like this.”

“You two are already boyfriends, whether he likes it or not,” Namjoon said, “Practically speaking. You live together, eat and sleep together, support each other, go on dates. The only thing missing is, like, acknowledging feelings and being exclusive.”

“That’s the issue. That’s what he doesn’t want to do, and that’s what I really need. Sometimes he does really cute things with me, and acts like a boyfriend, and then he turns around and gets bitchy when I so much as touch him, or point-blank reminds me that he’s not my boyfriend, like in those words. I feel like I’m being romantically blue-balled here. Such a fucking tease.”

“Tell him what you want?”

“He’ll hate me. I can’t. He feels personally betrayed that Jimin’s fallen into the relationship trap. I can’t imagine how disgusted he’ll be with me.”

“Rough, man. Well hey, it’s after midnight. One more Valentine’s Day gone and we’re both working and very alone. On to the next holiday.”

“St. Patrick’s Day,” Jungkook agreed. “God, the parade. It’s gonna be a fucking nightmare working down here.”

“Don’t worry,” Victoria said, “We do it in shifts so you’ll have time to go get trashed.”

“Kid’s so young, though,” Namjoon said.

Victoria laughed, “Oh yeah, like you won’t be making your best effort to get him white boy wasted.”

Namjoon shrugged. “If he remembers the entire day, I will have failed in my duties as a bad influence.”

“I’m gonna go back home to an empty apartment.”

“Drink more. Drown your sorrows.”

“I can’t drink, I’m on the job.”

Namjoon remembered Victoria and wisely shut his mouth about the vodka tonic.

 

At nearly six in the morning, he woke up with Taehyung climbing into bed with him. “Decided to do the walk of shame early. She seemed kind of attached, so I left.”

“You’re a dick.”

Taehyung sat still in the bed beside him, a dim silhouette against the city lights coming through the window. “Wow. I really am, aren’t I?”

Jungkook sat up groggily. “I didn’t mean it. You’re not that bad. Leaving early from a stand doesn’t make you that much of a dick.”

“Yeah but I left because she looked like she’d want my number. I’m just gonna keep humping and dumping until I die and eventually every single person is gonna be looking for some kind of commitment and I’m going to be an ass to all of them.”

Jungkook’s sleepy brain tried to sort through that monologue. None of his old friends randomly burst into deep, depressing, personal introspection. Artists threw him for a loop. “You could always, um, just…”

“I could always what?”

“Never mind. I was about to say you could always just stick to one person but that’s exactly what you don’t want, isn’t it.” He lay slowly back down on his stomach, sleep dragging him back towards the pillow like a magnet.

“Having just one friends with benefits would be doable.”

“That’s called having a boyfriend. Or girlfriend, I guess.”

“No, because they don’t try to control you or monopolize your time or fix you or—”

“Dude, none of that happens in a good relationship either. I think you have a skewed idea of relationships.”

“If I knew I was gonna get chewed out about this shit again I would’ve stayed with the clingy girl,” Taehyung muttered, “You’ve never had a relationship, Jungkook. No one’s ever wanted you like that. What the hell would you know?”

Even half asleep, Jungkook felt that hit him pretty hard. He took his head off the pillow to retort, couldn’t think of anything through the haze of ‘no one’s ever wanted you’ slamming into his head like an anvil, Taehyung at the forefront of that massive crowd of indifferent humans looking at him and saying ‘meh, not really my thing.’ He’d never thought of it that way. Jimin hadn’t wanted him either. Jess had wanted him but not as a friend. Maybe Sehun had wanted him like that once upon a time. He’d fucked that up. It didn’t matter. It was entirely too early in the day for an emotional breakdown, but Jungkook’s throat was closing up anyway.

Taehyung must have seen Jungkook’s face screw up in the dim light, because he made a small, distressed noise as Jungkook turned away and quickly flattened himself against his side. “I’m sorry, that came out super bad. I know how much that means to you. I’m an idiot. I’m so sorry. You know how I look at things. I meant that it’s good that no one’s ever—I mean…it sucks, Jungkook. Having someone wanting you like that is the worst. It’s so much pressure and it hurts.”

Jungkook felt his guts twist with shame and guilt. He took a shaky breath.

“I’m sorry. Am I making things worse?”

Jungkook lifted his arm and put it over Taehyung’s head, squeezing him close.

“Ew, armpit,” Taehyung muttered. Jungkook rolled back a bit to put some distance in between Taehyung’s face and his armpit, and Taehyung squeezed into the space under his body, worming his way in. Jungkook didn’t help, just waited patiently while he shoved a leg between Jungkook’s and managed to stick an arm under his head.

“I’m sorry, Kookie,” he murmured, finally, when their foreheads were pressed together. Jungkook wished he were brave enough to lean forward and kiss him, but it was late, and they were tired, and Taehyung had just finished saying that being wanted sucked. “I’m sorry, I just honestly don’t get why you want a boyfriend. I didn’t mean to say you were, like, undesirable or something.”

“I just want someone to love me,” Jungkook said, and hated how ripped apart and broken and desperate that sounded.

Taehyung didn’t respond, and Jungkook fell asleep as a miserable, pathetic, rather sweaty ball of unhappiness.

 

“Don’t do that,” Taehyung said, rubbing his head where Jungkook had kissed him like he’d just been hit there, “It’s like, domestic and cutesy and shit. I know you’re upset that you’re single, but I don’t wanna be the replacement. I just live here.”

Jungkook rolled his eyes at him while his heart told him to curl up in a ball on the floor and mope for the rest of the day. Taehyung loaded his sketchbook and mess of pens into his backpack and shouldered it to leave for class. He paused on his way out the door.

“Hey, I’ve been thinking, what if I moved in. I’d take half the rent and then we’d both have money to spare.”

Jungkook nearly dropped a full bottle of tequila. “Holy fuck! That’s such a good idea! Why haven’t we thought of this before?”

“Well on my side, its because I rented an apartment this semester partly to get out of rooming with anyone else, but I’m already rooming with you, practically, and its perfect. There’s plenty of room for my stuff in here.”

“We should have done that, like, two months ago! I could’ve saved so much money by now!”

“Ok cool! We’ll talk to the landlord later. I’m gonna go to class now though. Buh-Bye!”

As soon as the door slammed, Jungkook’s face dropped. He stared down at the tequila bottle in horror. There he’d gone, thinking with his wallet without considering the implications. Taehyung, living, eating, showering in his apartment, his stuff all over the floor, sleeping in his—their?—bed every night. It sounded so wonderful he was sure it would kill him with heartache. He would not get over Taehyung any time soon by having him around more.

He called his mother.

When she had no helpful advice except, “suck it up and let his mother pay for half of it,” he called Namjoon.

“You’re going to have to tell him at one point or another, Jungkook.”

“I’ll tell him in ten years after we’re old friends and I can laugh about it and it’ll be too distant in his memory for him to think anything more than ‘ah, college, what a crazy time in my life.’” He held the Christmas sketchbook open on his lap, staring at the first page with both of them smiling at the camera.

“You’re crazy about him, kid. He’s crazy about you, but he doesn’t see it.”

“Yeah he’s crazy about me as his best friend, but I don’t think he has the capacity to see it further than that.”

“You’re not gonna get over this. You need to tell him and tear your friendship apart before its too late, or live in constant pain for the next year and a half until he graduates, moves away, and never contacts you again, because he’s the type to leave the people he loves behind. Look at the way he treats his own mother.”

Jungkook’s stomach turned nervously.

“He doesn’t want to be tied down, but you have to take that risk if you want to keep him. Boys a kite.”

“Damn philosopher.”

“I’m your own personal life coach.”

Jungkook crumpled to the floor in his kitchen. “Rejection is gonna hurt like a bitch, Namjoon.”

“Are you that sure he’ll reject you? He wants you too. You’re already fucking dating, you two. It’s just the idea he hates, and he has the wrong fucking idea. One goddamn bad experience and he’s given up love for life. You should hunt down his ex and beat up his high school.”

“I can’t do it, Namjoon. Not right now. I’d rather lose him in a year and a half than lose him now.”

 

But Taehyung made it hard with his steadily darkening hair and his soft, playful eyes, one minute tantalizing warm, the next heart-crushingly distant. As soon as they’d decided to move in together, Taehyung seemed to take their relationship out of the fwb zone, and slide it into the roommates zone. Less cuddles, less sex, more talking about money, more distance.

Jungkook made it till the beginning of March before he every moment with Taehyung felt like someone had a fishhook in his chest.

Twenty minutes before, Jungkook had reached out for a hug, and Taehyung had asked “why?” completely mystified, and Jungkook was still sitting silently on the couch, wondering why something so simple hurt so much.

“I feel like sex,” Taehyung said from the table. “Maybe I’ll go down to the Coffee Fox and see if I can get lucky again.”

And why would Jungkook ever tell him he shouldn’t, except that he knew just a month ago Taehyung would have just grabbed the lube and made a mess of Jungkook and his couch. He’d taken that for granted, a month ago. Now the thought of Taehyung with some other faceless person felt so completely wrong.

“Taehyung…”

“Yeah?”

“…Let’s go somewhere.”

A small, soft smile crept onto Taehyung’s lips. He looked up from his homework slowly. “Foxy?”

“Seoul.”

Taehyung sat up, grinning. “Let’s go.”

It was exactly like the first date back in August, right down to Taehyung running into random stores and Jungkook dragging him away from the Bee Company as Taehyung shouted puns at it. The city was decked out in green. They’d already dyed the fountain water and stores had already filled their front displays with green streamers and tinsel. Outhouses had started appearing on random street-corners in preparation for the 300,000 people prepared to flood the city in two weeks, over twice the entire population living within city limits, for one of the world’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day Parades.

Jungkook did not feel lucky, but he did feel happy for the first time in a while. They circled all of Broughton Street and then headed south through the middle of the city down a line of squares, and Taehyung stopped to climb all the trees he could reach.

“Don’t think that’s legal,” Jungkook called up at him.

“Your face isn’t legal!” Taehyung called back, hanging upside down from his branch, “People are gonna crash cars trying to get a second look at your pretty smile.”

Jungkook pulled his shirt over his face and laughed. Taehyung jumped down and ran up to knock his forehead against Jungkook’s. “You’re so fucking cute, kid.”

“Ugh, don’t call me that,” he said, but dropped his shirt, still grinning. Taehyung looped his arm tight around his shoulders and dragged him off at a stumble.

“It’s so fucking warm out. I love it here. I never want to leave,” Taehyung said. “Back up north we’d still be getting snow and I’m in a t-shirt and life is good. Look! You can see the fountain in Forsyth all the way from back here.”

He pointed down two blocks of street, and the wide avenue of trees, and Jungkook could see the flashy white of the postcard fountain in the distance. “That’s your symbol, Savannah Native. That’s what people see on all the postcards.”

“I thought our symbol was the statue from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

“Hah. I have never read that book.”

“I haven’t either, but every second tourist you ask has.”

Taehyung’s arm felt so warm around his neck, his energy something bright, tangible, and fizzling at the top of Jungkook’s throat, making him want to giggle or mix it with the ball of anxiety sitting sick in his stomach. Maybe he’d explode and not have to worry about Taehyung anymore.

Halfway down the park towards the fountain, Taehyung abruptly took his hand off Jungkook’s shoulder and giggled, “Sorry, people might think we’re together or something, and I wanna land at least one hot night before I get home today.”

Jungkook really did feel sick now. He stopped walking and clutched his stomach a little.

Taehyung turned around. “You ok?”

“No.”

“What’s wrong? See a spider or something?”

“What changed between us, V? Why is it different now?”

Taehyung eyes widened. “It’s different? How?”

“You don’t—want me touching you anymore. You used to hug me all the time, now half the time when I hug you, you push me away.”

“Oh that. Well, you want a boyfriend, I want no boyfriend, so I figured it might be good if we got out of the friends with benefits habit. So many people are like ‘but won’t your boyfriend mind?’ when I give them my number and I have to be like, ‘no way, not my boyfriend,’ and if you spend all your affection on me, how are you gonna get anyone else?”

“I don’t want anyone else. I want you.”

Jungkook saw the exact moment that Taehyung got it. He blinked, stood a little straighter. In a couple quick seconds, Jungkook saw surprise, denial, confusion, panic, disappointment, anger, and then finally, crushingly, hurt, flash on and off his face. He looked off into the park like he was searching for something better to do.

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook whispered.

“Why the fuck are you sorry?”

“I know you don’t want that.”

“You’re my best friend, Jungkook.”

Jungkook had no idea how to respond to that.

“Well you’re not anymore,” Taehyung said, still not turned totally towards him. “Fuck you. I should’ve known you’d do this, Mr. Needs-Someone-to-Save-his-Lonely-Soul. I’m never gonna be anyone’s fucking Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Go find someone else.”

Jungkook almost felt his heart stop. “No. Taehyung, I want you.”

“No, I want me! I want everything I do to be mine. I don’t want anyone’s input or approval. I don’t want anyone waiting for me or watching out for me. I want friends to fuck or friends to drink with, but I don’t want anyone feeling like they have to fix my problems. I can handle them on my own. I don’t want your help, and I don’t want to help you.”

“I don’t want anything to change, Taehyung.”

“Then why bring it up? You want something to change or you wouldn’t be so upset.”

“I just want you to stop pushing me away.”

“Fuck no. You’re out. I won’t ever stop pushing,” he backed up, eyes wide, arms protectively crossed over his chest like Jungkook might try to grab his heart.

Jungkook felt like he might throw up. “Taehyung,” he said, rough with need, and his voice broke.

“Why are you so desperate for a fucking boyfriend to chain you down that you’re ok with throwing me away? You know I don’t want that fucking shit. You knew I would act like this.”

Jungkook’s vision was getting dangerously blurry. “I love you.”

“No you don’t. Don’t say that.”

“I’m sorry.”

Taehyung was still looking at him, but Jungkook couldn’t see his face clearly anymore. He turned and walked away and Jungkook stood there frantically blinking the tears down his cheeks until he couldn’t see him anymore.

 

Jungkook’s first thought: “This is when I do something impulsive and stupid.” He walked all the way to Planet 3 and got two more ear piercings in his left ear. He realized as he walked away, that Taehyung had two piercings in his left ear. The piercings got too special too fast. He’d barely avoided crying in public for the second time that day.

 

“Jungkook are you sure you’re ok?”

Jungkook looked down at the broken martini glass in his hand. “Is my hand bleeding?”

“Oh fuck. Hold still,” Victoria took the pieces of glass gently away from him and then got to work wrapping his finger up. “You can’t work like this, Jungkook. Blood is a biohazard.”

“I could…clean something. Please don’t make me go home.”

“Why not? What are you avoiding at home?”

“No one.”

“Ah. No one. Got it.”

“No one’s there.”

She paused for a moment, hands hovering around his bandage. He stared blankly at the place where blood was seeping through the bandage.

“You can’t work while you’re injured,” she said softly.

“Can I stay here?”

“Technically yes, but you can’t drink. Why would you want to?”

“Maybe I’ll just sit in City Market and pick up smoking or something.”

“Namjoon will probably be here soon. Just wait here for him,” she patted his shoulder and added, “He’ll know what to do,” under her breath.

Jungkook sat down on a bar stool and focused on breathing evenly. His finger started hurting and he barely noticed.

Namjoon arrived at some point. One moment Jungkook was alone, and the next moment Namjoon had been rubbing his back for nearly an hour. He realized that Namjoon had stopped talking a while ago and he hadn’t processed a single word he’d said.

“I thought heart-ache was just an expression,” he managed, and Namjoon leaned in to hear him. “It physically hurts.” He rubbed a hand across his ribcage where it felt like his heart was trying to pull out of his chest. He met Namjoon’s eyes. “It hasn’t stopped all day. Is that normal?”

“I have no idea, kid. I’ve never gotten my heart broken.”

He sagged back onto the bar. “It hurts. I want it to stop.”

Namjoon spoke low like he was calming a scared animal. “Jungkook, if you want to talk about it…”

Jungkook shook his head. “I don’t want to think about it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I stopped thinking about anything, but now my head hurts and the pain won’t go away.”

“Jungkook, I’m sorry.”

He reached blindly for Namjoon’s other hand. “I don’t want to go home.”

“Come to mine for the night. I have a really comfortable couch.”

He didn’t sleep. He went in to the Coffee Fox the next morning with a carefully changed bandage courtesy of Namjoon, and the same clothes he’d worn the day before.

He made it through half his shift before Man-bun asked him if he was doing ok.

“I’m alright. I’m functional.”

“Your hands are really shaky today.”

“They won’t stop.”

“When was the last time you ate?”

“Oh.”

Man-bun leveled him with a harsh look. “When?”

“Might have been…yesterday morning? Or the evening before that? I can’t remember.”

“Eat something. I’m putting you on break right now.”

He barely choked down a baguette and some soup from Panera, then came back, a little less shaky and a little more nauseous.

“How much sleep are you running on?”

“None.”

“This isn’t going to be a normal thing, is it?” Man-bun asked.

“God I hope not.”

“You’re not on drugs are you?”

Jungkook laughed hollowly. “Is that what it looks like?”

Man-bun nodded.

Jungkook tried to find a quick, non-revealing, simple version of the truth that he didn’t have to think too much about, and was a cool way for dudes working together to face the situation. “Someone took a shit on my heart.”

“So you got dumped?”

It sounded so stupid.

“Oh shit, sorry dude. Didn’t realize it was that bad. There is no crying in barista-ing, you know. Here, I’ll get you some napkins.”

He whispered, “I’m ok. I’m ok. I’m ok. I’m ok,” to himself, a personal, desperate pep-talk.

“Look dude, just tell me what you need. You need time off work, just let me know.”

“No, I need to be here as much as possible so I’m not at home.”

“So it was Taehyung. I was right. You were together.”

Jungkook shook his head.

“Wait, did he just turn you down? Is that what this is all about? You got shot down?”

Jungkook felt a refreshing little flash of annoyance. “Fuck no. I’m gay, not pathetic.”

“What happened?”

Jungkook sighed and felt a wall break in his head, the full situation closing in on his psyche. “I told him I loved him. He pretty much told me to get out of his life.”

 

Taehyung’s absence dug the worst kinds of holes. There was no one to greet him when he came home from work, and no one to go out with in his free time. Halo was wholly uninteresting. A week later, Jimin and Yoongi hadn’t shown up at the bar. Taehyung was keeping all his friends. The apartment felt like it wasn’t his anymore.

He called and told his mom that the plan to share the rent had fallen through. She would have to keep helping.

“Very rude of Taehyung to make that offer and then back out. You should talk to him and try to get him to reconsider.”

Long pause.

“Jungkook?”

He hung up.

He slept on the couch at night. Whenever he lay in bed, the need for another body to rest against was so strong that it strangled in his chest and kept him wide awake and close to whimpering.

He couldn’t talk to people about it, too much “I told him. I said something stupid. I made him hate me. I did exactly what he’s scared to death of people doing. I fell in love with him and he didn’t want me.”

He got drunk on a bottle of whiskey again, threw up in the kitchen sink, woke up on the kitchen floor late for work, and didn’t let himself skip because it was his own fault.

At first he blamed the heat, blamed Namjoon’s advice, blamed fucking Taehyung for not having his shit together, blamed himself for opening his mouth.

He couldn’t stand the squares. They all had climbable trees, and he kept looking for Taehyung in one. He hated all the restaurants he’d ever been to with him, which made eating difficult because home was even worse. He didn’t want to see his mom, because she’d be so disappointed if she knew Taehyung had gotten away. The Coffee Fox and The Bar Bar felt so lonely without him. Every piece of the city had sucked Taehyung up like a sponge, vibrant, exciting, beautiful, fun, everything he’d never seen before Taehyung had told him to look. It was like a layer of memory over every inch of brick and every tree limb. Taehyung had taken his Savannah from him.

He went to Forsyth, the scene of the crime, and tried the terrible Crossfit workout again, but ran two miles on each end instead of one. He barely stumbled home. He sat on the floor of the kitchen and chugged water until he threw up in the sink again, then fell asleep on the kitchen floor.

“There’s such as thing as good coping mechanisms,” Namjoon said when he arrived two hours late to the bar, barely able to walk from the soreness in his legs, from the leftover dehydration nausea and headache.

“I don’t need to cope; I need to fuck myself up. How did I not realize how much I fucking love him?”

“Stop being so angry. You’re just going to get hurt.”

 

All of Taehyung’s belongings disappeared from Jungkook’s apartment while he was at work. He sat against the door of his apartment for two hours, staring out the window from across the living room, scared to walk into his room and see the missing toothbrush or the missing pile of laundry, three days cleaned and folded and laid out neatly for whenever Jungkook could get up the courage to give them back, or give up the hope that he’d ask for them. Taehyung took them like a ghost.

He’d left the Christmas sketchbook. Of course he had. It had been a gift. But Jungkook knew he must have seen it sitting there on his couch, maybe sitting open where Jungkook left it nearly every day. Looking through it sucked now, but he couldn’t help but flip through to remind himself that he’d had all of that. Now he clutched it like a lifeline as he sat against the door, his last physical link to Taehyung.

Eight days without seeing him. He could have been there. He might have been drawing or scattering his comic books all over the floor. He might have been giggling at the pigeons across the street. Maybe he would have been laying on the couch, soft blackening hair scattered in soft feathers across the worn, blue fabric.

Taehyung should live here. He fit so well in this space, so well away from the emptiness upstairs. Taehyung could live here. Jungkook would go back home and live with his mom. He’d stay in the empty apartment upstairs. He’d sleep in the fucking gutter outside if it meant Taehyung could sleep in that bed again. Jungkook sure wasn’t using it.

Even on the couch, he stayed awake, exhausted and frustrated, hating that every time he closed his eyes he could see pink lips, fluffy sweaters, ripped jeans, sometimes a large, heart-stopping smile.

He wished he could take it back, laugh it off, let Taehyung believe it was just a stupid prank, spend the rest of his life lonely and watching from beside him, watch him go through life as a free-flowing breeze without fucking it up or hurting him. He’d gladly live without hugs or cuddles, or even affection, as long as he could just see him there, make sure he was doing ok. Anything was better than knowing that somewhere in the city Taehyung hated him.

 

St. Patrick’s Day crept closer. The bars filled every night. People packed the streets already. People with dreads and one pair of clothes camped in the square with their bicycles and tired dogs. The horse-drawn carriages rattled past, completely full, all day.

With everyone converging on the city, there was always the risk of running into people he hadn’t seen in a while. Two days before the parade, Jess walked right into the Coffee Fox with some of their friends from high school, none of whom had contacted him since graduation, some of whom had unfriended him on Facebook. He forgot he was supposed to take their orders. They stared at each other. Her face colored, but she showed no signs of greeting him.

“Ho-Horchata latte, please,” she said, and Jungkook remembered spending senior prom night getting drunk with her on the beach, giggling about dumb shit in science class, throwing food at each other at lunch, saying hi to her parents in the mall, laying on her bed till midnight talking about all the small things they were going to learn after high school, like cooking, and riding a unicycle.

Jungkook rang it up in silence, made it, handed it to her gently, and then took everyone else’s orders without meeting anyone’s eyes. Man-bun walked up to him afterwards, as he took care of the next customers with a rather shaky smile.

“You could at least look at the cute girls,” he muttered, “Your smile gets us business with those, you know.”

“I know them already.”

“Oh.”

“Can you take over, I need to go out back and cry into my apron for a few minutes.”

“Damn, Kookie.”

“Please don’t call me that.”

He couldn’t even cry. He just sat in the dirt and wished he smoked so he had something to do while he contemplated the anti-magnetism he possessed towards people he loved. Jess and Taehyung, both gone forever.

He didn’t expect her to be there when he went back in, but all his old friends were still sitting in the corner, giggling away about whatever.

She’d curled her hair too early in the morning. Jungkook could tell because they looked a little closer to her natural waves than they were supposed to, and because he could see come kinks at the bottom like she’d been tired when she did it. Not that he was staring at the back of her head or anything.

When her friends left, she came up to the counter. “Jungy-yungi,” she called, and her voice was a little too high, too nervous.

“Yes, Jess?” he answered, smiling a little with the familiarity.

“Um…I just thought I should say hi.”

Some other customers came in and walked up to the counter, and she stood there awkwardly as Jungkook came up to take their orders before Man-bun bumped him out of the way.

“I’ll take care of it. You go deal with your personal problems.”

“Thanks.” He walked around the counter and stood in front of Jess. She seemed further away than she used to. “Have you gotten shorter?”

She smiled her toothy smile, always so sunny. “I think you’ve gotten taller.”

“Only a little. Can I hug you?”

She held out her arms and he stepped in and wrapped his arms around her small shoulders, his face pressed against the top of her head. She wasn’t nearly as solid or familiar as Taehyung, not as warm, but so comfortingly and distantly familiar.

“How’ve you been?” she asked when he backed away, nervously fiddling with his apron pockets.

“Mostly good. I’ve had a good year. Work is fun. I work here and at a bar down in City Market. Finally quit the Bee Company.”

“Good! Good for you! School is fun! I, uh, I haven’t found a new best friend yet though, so…I miss you sometimes,” she said with a smile, that peppy, quirky head nod going.

“That’s too bad. I had one to kind of…fill in for you. We fell out though, so I’ve been. Well. Barely holding it together recently.”

“Oh no! What happened?”

“I fucked it up.”

She shuffled uneasily, trying to stare up into his face. “Jungy, what happened?”

“I said I loved him.” He took a deep breath and tried to make it sound lighter. “He dumped me.”

She stared at him for a long moment as he sighed with a little too much force to try to keep in the heartbreak always threatening to slip free, and then rubbed frantically at his eyes. She gave him another hug, and he really did tear up a little, hiding it in her shoulder, which had him hunching over quite a bit.

“I’m here now,” she said, “If you want me back. I’ve gotten over myself and I’m here for you. I’m sorry.”

“Can I meet up with you on St. Patrick’s Day? He took all my friends with him.”

“Ok. Yeah. You have my number. I have yours. Let’s meet up. We’ll talk things out. I wish we had more time so I could really tell you how sorry I am about everything.”

He waved a hand. “I was never mad. We’ll fix it.”

 

St. Patrick’s Day arrived, green and warm, a crystal clear sky and the sound of drum lines and bagpipes everywhere. Savannah was unrecognizable beneath the crowds, the lack of cars, the growing stench of puke and urine. Vendors wandered around the crowds of children with plastic swords, green beads, and light up fans for sale. Adults packed the squares under crappy tent awnings in “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” shirts and green beer in go cups. Namjoon handed him a plastic cup of shitty, cheap beer and a tied a rolled-up green bandana around his head as he drank it.

“How many kisses are you gonna get?”

“More than last year,” Jungkook answered, honestly grinning for the first time in two weeks. This was his Savannah, one he’d never experienced with Taehyung, and his first year at the parade without his mom two streets away.

“Here’s your first kiss,” Namjoon said, and kissed him bruisingly hard in the middle of his cheek. “That’s practically an invitation for girls to give you more. Go stock up. When do you work?”

“Two till six this evening. It’s, like, perfect. I’m gonna get so many tips, hopefully.”

“Don’t you have to be sober to work?”

“Not today! Victoria actually said, to my face, that she’d be disappointed if I showed up sober. Gimme that lipstick. I gotta get you.”

They both wiped the hideous green off their lips and then rambled off through the city. Jungkook had an invitation to meet up with Jess around 12:00, but it was only 11:00, and they had time to see things. Namjoon stopped them in the middle of a normally quiet square, now packed to the brim with shrieking children, hollering drunks, and vendors, and got them more beer, flirting shamelessly with the lady behind the keg. She gave him a big green kiss to send him off.

“Kookie!” Someone shrieked, and Jungkook turned anxiously towards the voice.

“Baekhyun!” He responded in relief and ran over, Namjoon following behind.

“Gimme that face,” Baekhyun yelled, green smeared all over his lips, and kissed Jungkook right across his surprised lips.

“Is that mark gonna stay?” he heard, and looked up to see Sehun in an ugly green tank-top and black nylon shorts that looked suspiciously like—”

“Are those swim trunks?” Namjoon asked.

“Yeah. I have more swim trunks than shorts, and I ran out of shorts. Figured I’d just go swimming in a fountain or something.”

Jungkook was drunk enough to start speaking before considering the consequences. “Are we gonna do that awkward thing where we pretend out relationship isn’t really fucked up and ignore all our problems?”

“That’s what I was gonna do, but you just shot that plan.”

“Oh. Sorry.”

Sehun smirked. “Get me the lipstick, Baekhyun.”

Sehun kissed him sweetly right at the corner of his mouth, one firm, lingering press of his small lips, leaving him dizzy and very confused. Sehun smelled unmistakably like the beach. “Baekhyun told me all about your guilt over Zitao. Don’t worry about it. I got him back last summer.”

“Are you sure? I was always super sorry about that. I’m a fucked-up idiot and I chase away everyone who cares about me, so please don’t take it personally.”

Sehun’s eyebrows rose a bit. “I won’t.”

“Where’s Taehyung?” Baekhyun asked. “I thought he’d be with you.”

Jungkook felt his face shut down before he felt the lingering distress sweep back into his body. “He’s…um…” He started chugging his beer.

Namjoon must have signaled something, because Baekhyun and Chanyeol were both nodding and upset when he looked up. “It’s ok, Kookie. Um… Let’s change the subject?”

“Please don’t call me Kookie.”

“Ok. Won’t do that. Alcohol and making out?”

“Wow,” Namjoon said when Baekhyun latched onto Jungkook’s shirt and kissed him until he was kissing back, Chanyeol still standing right behind Baekhyun with his hands on his waist.

“You ever want another threesome, foursome whatever, text me. Seriously.”

“Wow,” Sehun muttered. “I knew you were friends, but I didn’t know about that.”

Jungkook blushed and smiled.

They hung with the group for another half hour. Sehun’s best friend Kyungsoo showed up with some guy named Minseok and Minseok’s girlfriend, so Sehun detached from the group a bit to hang out with them, and Jungkook watched him, kind of mystified. He had no lingering attraction. That had been swallowed up by guilt a while ago, but he remembered passing Sehun in the hallways on the way to class and feeling electric with want, and then later on burning with guilt, so it was strange to see him and feel a little happy.

“He’s got a nice ass, right?” Baekhyun said, “Don’t get your hopes up. He’s got a sweetheart named Jongin that stays here every summer and they’re totally cute.”

Jungkook smiled. “That’s good. I’m glad he’s happy.”

He and Namjoon left to go find Jess. “You don’t have to stay with me, you know,” Jungkook said, “I don’t want to keep you from hanging out with your friends.”

Namjoon shrugged. “My friends are all bouncers. They were planning on being fucking stupid today, so I told them I’d be with someone else.”

“You could be with Yoongi and…the others.”

Namjoon shook his head. “My advice got you into this mess. I’m sticking with you.”

“I don’t regret it. He’d started changing our relationship to be more platonic anyway, and that would have hurt too much. It wouldn’t have been fair to him.”

Namjoon nodded thoughtfully. “Would’ve been a lot like lying to him.”

When they found Jess, she was completely sober. “You mean you haven’t drunk any alcohol at all?”

“That is what sober means.”

Jungkook handed her his beer.

“Are you sure? I’m only nineteen.”

“I know. I sent you a message on Facebook on your birthday.”

She laughed nervously. “Oh yeah. I saw that. I think I liked it?”

“You didn’t.”

She grimaced. “Ok, about that. I have to clear the air here.”

Namjoon walked off to flirt with her friends.

“I’m sorry for being such a bitch. I’m sure you figured out why I stopped talking to you.”

He nodded. “Other people from school told me. That’s why I never tracked you down and talked to you about it. I just felt kind of weird.”

“I’m sorry. I was so sure I loved you for so long that when I found out you were gay and I’d never be with you, well. I was a little broken up about it and I blamed you. I’m sorry. I should have been there for you instead of being so selfish.”

Jungkook sighed. “I’m sorry. Honestly, I should have come out to you years ago. You were my best friend. I don’t know why I didn’t.”

She shook her head. “You did everything you needed to when you were ready. Don’t fault yourself for it.”

“Yeah, but I came out to Sehun a year before I came out to anyone else.”

She did look a little put out about that. She took a distracted sip of the beer and then handed it back to him looking disgusted.

“Forgot what that was. That’s gross. I’ll stick with water and Coke.”

He laughed and took another sip. “Are you still unhappy about it?” he asked.

“About what?”

“About me being gay.”

“No! No way. I went off to school and realized that friendships like ours don’t get built overnight. It’s gonna take me years to get anything else close. So I got over being butt hurt and realized that I wasn’t really in love with you. I just really wanted a boyfriend like you. I wanted to make up with you but wasn’t sure how. I’m sorry.”

“It’s ok. I’ve missed you.”

“It’s not ok. I feel terrible, but thanks for not being angry,” she gave him a hug, easy as anything, like they hadn’t been apart a day. “I’ll be the best friend the world has ever seen to make it up to you.”

He figured he shouldn’t tell her that the best friend the world had ever seen was Taehyung, and she didn’t stand a chance against him.

They watched the parade go by, high school marching bands and old men with bagpipes, float after ridiculous float. People ran around every one handing out necklaces and candy. Jungkook built up a huge collar of plastic bling.

He got kisses from all Jess’s friends, but not one from Jess herself. She refused to give Namjoon one either, and Jungkook respected that.

An hour before work, he was at the point of drunk that every movement he made came out bigger than he expected and he could no longer stand up on the first try.

“No more booze for you until your shift,” Namjoon said.

Jess looked nervous. “Did you always drink this much?”

He shook his head. “It’s fuckin St. Patties Day. And I’ve been a fucking alcoholic all year, so…”

“He hasn’t,” Namjoon said, slurring. “He’s very responpible.”

“Responpible.”

“…yeah, that.”

“Don’t worry, Jess. I can handle it. I’ll be fine in an hour.”

“You won’t though,” Namjoon said.

“Whatever. Can we go on a walk or something? I need to walk this off.”

Jess looped an arm around his waist, and he lay his across her shoulder, and they walked off just like they’d always done in school, Jungkook shortening his steps to make up for her short legs. Namjoon just grinned beside them.

“You two really look like you’re together.”

“We always did,” Jess said cheerfully, “People would be so surprised when we told them we weren’t.”

Jungkook snickered and nodded, then quickly asked, “Oh shit, did that bother you?”

“A little,” she said, “but not really. I wasn’t actually that invested. Don’t worry about it.”

They walked alongside the parade. Jungkook pulled Namjoon into his side so he didn’t look like a third wheel. Some guy dressed up as a marble bust waved from the nearest float. The parade was walking speed, meandering through the city squares, so they followed it along, stumbling and smiley. They ran into Kris and Yongseon who were both shit-faced and very affectionate, and Namjoon’s friends, who were so drunk one of them didn’t even recognize him.

“Jesus Christ, it’s one in the afternoon,” Namjoon muttered, “They’ve gotta last all night.”

The loud, colorful crowd echoed off the sides of short historical buildings and got swallowed up by the stately squares. People hung over balcony railings and hollered at people down in the streets. They took shelter in the shade of squares as often as possible, ducking out of the hot sun and into the crowds of green shirts and ginger wigs.

As they walked along the edge of a very crowded square, Jungkook saw Jimin with bright orange hair standing on the roots of a tree and yelling at the branches. He stared for a moment, just Jimin alone a completely jarring sight, especially with hair as orange as Taehyung’s in October. Then he followed Jimin’s gaze.

Taehyung lay on one branch twisting over the road like a jungle cat, a wide smile on his face as he stared straight down at the floats passing underneath. He’d dyed his hair a bright, pinkish-red, almost neon. He wore all black except for bright green shoes. His face and neck were mottled with green kisses.

Jungkook froze, stopping Namjoon and Jess with him, staring up at his beautiful best friend, lips as soft pink as ever, hair hanging down off his forehead, one long arm stretched downwards to try to touch the tops of floats.

Before Jungkook could figure out what to do, Taehyung saw him. His smile evaporated. He sat up on his branch, looking down with wide eyes.

After two weeks of planning exactly what he would say the moment he saw Taehyung again, Jungkook turned, grabbed Jess’s hand, and walked back the way they’d come, doing his best not to break into a run. Namjoon followed beside him, and Jungkook saw him mouthing “Get down,” at Taehyung, pointing at the ground.

He choked up. They made it past the square and Jungkook had to lean against the brick wall of a building, his hands over his face.

“That was the guy? The one in the tree?” Jess squeaked.

Jungkook nodded.

“I got you,” she said, helping him sit down on the ground and blocking him in with her arms. “Get it out. I’ll cover you.”

He wrapped his arms around her waist, so small after being so used to Taehyung, and pulled her close, burying his face in her shoulder and letting himself go.

“Crying safety position number eight,” she told Namjoon, and Jungkook felt a chuckle slip into his frantic sobs.

“Usually its you needing the cover,” he said. She kissed the top of his head.

“We might want to move. He’s on the ground now.”

“He’s not gonna want to see me,” Jungkook said, “But yeah, let’s get out of here.”

He’d sobered up a bit before work. The bigger problem was his tendency to start randomly leaking tears at odd moments and have to crouch down on the sidewalk to recover. Halfway through a debate about Vans vs. Converse, tears. In the middle of a comment about the green fountain looking like poison, tears. Some guy threw up on the sidewalk and sent a whole slew of parade-goers scrambling away, tears. They ran into Chanyeol and Baekhyun again and Jungkook burst into tears before he could even say hi. Each time, Jess pulled his face into her shoulder and patted him on the back till he pulled himself together.

“I have never seen you cry before,” she murmured.

“I’m a fucking mess.”

“You’re a beautiful mess, a mess that will recover and regain his dignity after the storm has passed.”

“I love you.”

“I know.”

Namjoon and Jess dropped him off at The Bar Bar, and he left to walk her back to her friends.

He began to pass the hours filling his concentration with mixing drinks, forcing his way past the need to hang out on a barstool and chug some whiskey. A long way into the blur, well past he’d reached the point of sober enough to mistake his state for completely sober, and after he’d finally cleared Taehyung out of the forefront of his mind, he turned around to get the next order, and found Taehyung there, bright pink hair flashy in the lights, a soft, expectant look in his eyes. “Sex on the Beach,” he said.

Jungkook figured out he wasn’t completely sober yet when he realized he was crouching on the floor behind the bar with his face pressed full up against a cabinet and his hands over his head, frantically willing away another bout of desperate crying. Longing and regret tore through chest. The roar of the bar never settled. He stood up, not looking at the counter, and grabbed a glass and Taehyung’s favorite vodka, and started mixing, gritting his teeth. He had to wipe his eyes a couple times to see what he was doing.

When he turned around, drink in hand, Taehyung had vanished. He had only a second to feel empty and lonely before he saw Taehyung shoving his way past Victoria on the wrong side of the bar and barreling towards him.

Taehyung grabbed the sides of his face, and yelled at him over the noise of the crowd. “I don’t want to be your boyfriend, or anyone’s boyfriend. Don’t call me that; it scares me.”

Jungkook gulped, his face warming beneath Taehyung’s hot hands.

“But I’m lonely, and I miss you,” Taehyung continued, eyes narrowed and angry. He was wearing green contacts. Jungkook felt his ribs meet a countertop and he had to stop backing up. “I want you to hug me when I’m sick, and cuddle me when we watch movies, and kiss me in the rain, or whatever the fuck it is you think you want. God, Kookie, I love you so much. Why did you have to fuck me up like this?”

Jungkook was gripping Taehyung’s arms now, scared to let go.

“I’m not your Manic Pixie Dream Girl!” Taehyung yelled.

Jungkook shook his head frantically.

Taehyung pulled their foreheads together, knocking into him jarringly hard, his hands falling, shaking, onto his neck and sliding lower on his chest. “Don’t call me your boyfriend,” he said, his tone deep and earnest, raw and cracking, “but I’m yours.”

 

Jimin told him, later that day, through a haze of green alcohol and the very warm feeling of Taehyung lying across his lap, that Taehyung’s last two weeks had been as broken-hearted as Jungkook’s with more internal turmoil thrown in. He’d started off angry and then gotten quiet and crumpled, “like a bird with a broken wing,” as Jimin put it.

Taehyung stuck his head under Jungkook’s shirt and bit his navel. Jungkook jumped and pulled him back out, Taehyung snickering, his bright red hair slipping across his forehead.

He snuggled up roughly against Jungkook’s chest and tucked his face against the side of Jungkook’s head murmuring, “Mine. My Kookie.”

Jungkook wrapped his arms around him and pressed small, hot kisses to every inches of his face that he could reach. “Taehyung.”

“What?” he asked, giggling.

“Nothing. I just love you.”

Jess and Namjoon found them eventually, Jess’s friends in tow. It looked like Namjoon had finally convinced her to let him get her a drink, and she was giggly and affectionate, one arm latched around Namjoon’s. Taehyung stiffened up a little in Jungkook’s lap when she approached, squeaking with excitement when she saw who Jungkook had in his lap. “You’re Taehyung, right? I’m Jess! Nice to meet you!” She held out a hand.

Taehyung stared at the hand for a moment, then looked back at Jungkook with a very clear, “the hell is going on here,” look on his face. Jungkook grabbed his arm and forced his hand into Jess’s. She shook it enthusiastically.

“Be nice to him or I’ll murder you,” she said with a wide grin.

“I could say the same,” he snapped.

Namjoon hauled Jess off to watch some drunk guys trying to juggle before anyone could get too hostile.

“I’m your best friend, right? Not her; she hurt you.”

“So did you. The best friend award goes to Namjoon.”

The night stretched on into thinning green crowds, until 4 a.m. came in a daze of emergency vehicle lights on the road and couples making out by the waterfront. Someone walked by handing out leftover cans of beer. A biohazard team tackled someone’s bright green vomit thirty yards away. The drunken hollering like dogs barking to each other across a neighborhood finally began to fade.

Taehyung pulled Jungkook down into the mulch of a flower bed along the river walk and kissed him deep and slow, arms barred around his back, something forceful in the way he tangled his legs with Jungkook’s and sucked on his tongue.

“I love your hair,” Jungkook murmured.

“I thought you loved it black and normal-looking.”

“I did. You looked so honest. But with the red you look like candy.”

Taehyung grinned and stretched his head back so Jungkook could get to his neck.

“You looked fucking fantastic with orange, too,” he murmured between hickeys. “You looked like an anime character.”

“Oh god, I love it when you talk like a nerd,” Taehyung moaned.

Jungkook brought his head up to look Taehyung right in the fake green irises, “But promise me you’ll go back to lavender someday soon. That was so beautiful.”

Taehyung smiled dazzlingly. “I think I’m going white next, like almost silver. Or dark brown with teal streaks.”

“You’ll be fucking gorgeous either way,” Jungkook said.

They fell asleep for a little while in the mulch, and woke to the sun breaking over the river and a police officer telling them to go home.

 

Taehyung came home from the Coffee Fox two days before April to find his apartment full of Taehyung’s stuff, and Taehyung sitting on the couch with light lavender purple hair, wearing nothing but a pair of checkered boxers and his dead stag shirt.

“I moved in,” Taehyung said, “And your dad stopped by. Didn’t know you had a dad.”

“Good! Your hair! Dad? What?”

“I kinda, um, outed you. On accident. To him.”

“Oh. Really? How?”

“He asked if I was going to sleep on the couch and I said I slept with you. Then he asked if I was your boyfriend, and I said kind of, in a way. He didn’t look happy. Things got awkward and he left right after that.”

“It’s whatever. I don’t give a shit about him. Oh my god, your hair.” Jungkook flopped down on top of Taehyung and cuddled him into the couch. “Baby, your hair. And I’m kind of in a way your boyfriend?”

He giggled and sat still while Jungkook trailed kisses all over the crown of his head. “Sure. Fuck it. Why did you never tell me you had a dad?”

“I don’t really. He’s an idiot and I try not to associate with him. I’m surprised I haven’t told you about him.”

“You don’t talk about yourself much, Kookie. I’ve always liked that about you.”

“Your hair is beautiful.”

“If you ever want to talk about your family issues, that’s literally why I’m here.”

Jungkook hummed in acknowledgement and continued running the lavender hair through his fingers.

“I got a job too.”

“Really? What is it?”

“I’m going to be a studio assistant for one of my professors over the summer.”

“Dude, that’s perfect. You’re going to love that.”

“I’ll have to get up in the morning!” Taehyung yelped. Jungkook snickered and kissed him.

“Look at you, finally growing up. I’m so proud. Can I take you out to dinner?”

“Take me to Foxy.”

Taehyung was dizzyingly affectionate, hand looped around Jungkook’s arm, smile effortless. “Change of plans. Let’s go eat at Fire.”

Jungkook remembered his first date with Jimin in that same restaurant. He’d never been there with Taehyung, and had to wonder why. The food was cheap but amazing, better than the Flying Monk down on Broughton. They both ordered bubble tea, and Taehyung tormented the waiter with weird requests for different sauces, and changed his order three times as the waiter tried to write it down.

“You’re a dick.”

“You love my dick.”

Jungkook did not deny. He’d let Taehyung fuck him several nights ago for the first time since Chanyeol and Baekhyun. It had been a magical experience for both of them, Taehyung talking sweet and dirty in his ear, the sheets at his back, Taehyung taking breathless care of him.

“I love your dick because its attached to you.”

Taehyung crinkled his nose the way he always did when Jungkook got sappy, not meeting Jungkook’s eyes and fiddling with a straw. “Love you too,” he said, quietly, his feet tangling with Jungkook’s.

Halfway through the meal, Jungkook looked up to see Taehyung staring at him, the sweetest smile half on his face, eyes wide. He looked down bashfully like he’d been caught, but his smile spread into something soft and strong.

“What?” Jungkook laughed.

“I like that you’re mine.”

After dinner, Taehyung took him to the roof of a fancy hotel overlooking River Street. They stood at the railing and gazed in silence out across the city in the late afternoon sunshine.

“Thanks for making this city awesome,” Jungkook said.

“Thanks for spending time with me instead of Jess yesterday.”

Jungkook snorted. “I can’t believe how jealous you are of her.”

“Do you have work tonight?”

“Nah. I’m free for the night.”

“Good. I want to consummate my first night officially in the apartment.”

Jungkook snaked an arm around his waist. “Good excuse. Let’s get home.”

At home, Taehyung lay down in the middle of the living room floor, knees spread.

“The floor? Really?”

“Yup. We’ve done shit on the bed tons of times. I wanna do this somewhere different.”

“Yeah, but on the floor?”

“Would you rather we use the kitchen counter? Maybe up against the front door?”

Jungkook took off his own shirt, then knelt down to remove Taehyung’s and smiled. “This damn dead stag shirt. You were wearing this the first afternoon we hung out.”

“I was? Damn. That means I drew it wrong in the sketchbook.”

“You designed it, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Has anyone ever bought one?”

He laughed. “Yeah. It’s cheaper than what the same thing would cost at Urban Outfitters, and it sold pretty well in my art classes. This is the last one I have left, or I’d give you one.”

Jungkook shook his head. “You don’t have to give it to me. I’ll just borrow it when I want to wear it.”

Taehyung grinned. “Go get lube and condoms before we start.”

Jungkook fetched them, and returned to find Taehyung naked except for his briefs, lying on Jungkook’s afghan, spread out on the floor. He toed out of his own vans and pulled off his clothes as Taehyung watched, head propped up on his arms, lavender hair flicked out of his eyes. “Bring those abs over here,” he said, and Jungkook giggled and flattened himself over him, lying on the lube, and kissing him deeply and sweetly.

“I must admit, I love the way you kiss me,” Taehyung said when he broke away to mouth gently down Taehyung’s neck.

“Good. I love kissing you like this.”

He worked his way down to place light, appreciative kisses up and down Taehyung’s chest as he sighed.

“I had lunch with Zitao yesterday,” Taehyung said, his hands petting the back of Jungkook’s neck.

Jungkook snorted. “Yeah? And?”

“He’s a diva. But he’s great at sex. We should have a threesome with him sometime.”

“Oh jeez. I don’t know if I’m emotionally prepared to handle that.”

“But orgies with you are so great. I want more.”

“Can you focus on just me right now please?”

“Jealous?”

“Maybe a little.”

“I’m not your boyfriend though,” Taehyung sing-songed.

“No you’re not, and I love having sex with you and other people at the same time, but right now I’m the only person here.”

“Ok, Kookie. I’ll pay more attention to you.”

Jungkook pulled Taehyung’s briefs off his legs and then kissed gently up his leg. “You should wax your legs again sometime. I loved when you did that for Halloween.”

“Oh but it was horrible growing back in,” Taehyung groaned. Jungkook bit the inside of his thigh, and he gasped, “I’ll do it. Sometime. I don’t know. For you.”

Jungkook licked lightly at the tip of his cock, looking up to where Taehyung sat up on his elbows to watch him. “You’re so pretty,” he murmured as Jungkook dipped the tip of his tongue into the the slit. “How’d you get so pretty?”

Jungkook smiled and sucked the head of his dick into his mouth. Taehyung leaned forward and yanked the beanie Jungkook had forgotten about off his head. Jungkook pulled off to giggle and then went back down, slowly and gently.

Taehyung groaned. “Stop teasing, you shit.”

Jungkook sucked him in deeper.

“You’re so nice during sex,” Taehyung said, “Maybe that’s what makes you such a good bottom. You’re so docile.”

Jungkook hummed in response and struggled to go deeper. He bobbed up and down slowly, straining his throat and fighting his gag reflex, working his tongue and swallowing. Taehyung moaned above him and dropped his hands to trail along the sensitive skin behind Jungkook’s ears. Jungkook flinched and pulled off.

“Careful. New piercings.”

“What?” Taehyung sat up and turned Jungkook’s face in his hand. “Whoa! When did you get these?”

“About an hour after you left me in Forsyth.”

Taehyung urged him up off the floor to kiss him gently. “Namjoon said you handled things poorly. Kookie, what all did you do when I left you?”

“Got the piercings. Didn’t eat much. Slept on the couch for two weeks, once on the kitchen floor. Got blackout drunk a couple times. Did workouts till I could barely move. Cried everywhere. Was late to work a couple times.”

Taehyung blinked and made a vaguely impressed face. “Wow. And I thought I handled it poorly.”

“I’m bad at handling things. When Dad left I played video games for seventy-two hours without stopping. Got really dehydrated.”

“Seriously, if you ever want to talk about the dad thing, I’m here.”

“How about not in the middle of me sucking your dick.”

Taehyung kissed him again, and gently touched his new piercings. “They’re like mine.”

Jungkook laughed, “That was unintentional. Must have done it subconsciously.”

Taehyung lay back down, smiling. “I love those. I’m sorry you had such a miserable couple of weeks.”

Jungkook snuggled into his abs for a minute, hands tracing up his sides. “I can’t believe you’re back. Sometimes I worry I’m just dreaming again and I’m just gonna wake up and feel crushed again.”

Taehyung ran his hands through Jungkook’s hair, scratching comfortingly. “Sorry, Kookie. You’re stuck with me until I get sick of you.”

Jungkook snorted. “Thanks. That’s reassuring.”

Taehyung giggled and bucked his hips a little, his cock rubbing against Jungkook’s chest. He made a soft noise in his throat. “As much as I’d love getting off on your beautifully defined chest, I’d really like to have something in me right now.”

“We’re going slow today.”

“I don’t like slow.”

“You’ll learn to like slow.” He sucked Taehyung’s cock into his mouth again, and Taehyung moaned softly, eyelashes fluttering. He swallowed, forcing past his gag reflex and relishing every noise Taehyung made.

“You trying to deep-throat, Kookie?”

Jungkook hummed an affirmative and Taehyung swore under his breath. “You can do it. I believe in you! I can help with brute force if you want.”

Jungkook pulled off to giggle and breath, and then went right back down again.

“God you’re so sexy,” Taehyung moaned. “How are you only nineteen?”

“I grew up faster than you.”

“I know.”

Jungkook sank back down, getting lower and lower, encouraged by the bubbling moans above him as Taehyung relaxed on the floor and enjoyed it.

A few minutes later he was coming up for air more often, and his jaw had started hurting, but he was getting very close and Taehyung hadn’t said a word in quite a while, too busy making tiny gasps and low noises. He pulled the lube out from under his stomach and popped it open as he sucked lower again, throat protesting, eyes squeezing tight as he forced himself, and Taehyung twitched a little.

The lube was perfectly warm when he squeezed it onto his fingers, and he traced Taehyung’s rim gently with the tip of one finger. Taehyung shivered, the muscles in his legs tensing a little on either side of Jungkook’s head. He just stayed there, touching and moving in small circles, sometimes just brushing repeatedly over it, until Taehyung whacked him on the head.

“Fucking do it, asshole.”

Jungkook laughed a little through his nose and pushed one finger slowly in. Taehyung sighed happily, twitching and Jungkook kept it at a snail’s pace, mouth working sluggishly at getting all the way down, finger thrusting very slowly and gently, often stopping to just move deep inside him.

Jungkook finally got all the way down, face pressing to Taehyung’s hot skin, and Taehyung lay panting above him when he finally pulled off and then sank immediately back down and back up again, started a slow pace. Taehyung moaned loud and long, pure relief in his low voice. Jungkook added another finger and traced circles along his inner walls. On any other night, it would have been nowhere near enough, but Taehyung could barely breath, he was so lost.

“Feels so good,” Taehyung whimpered, “Not enough.”

So Jungkook found his prostate. Taehyung tensed all over, his mouth dropping open and his head falling back. Jungkook felt him tugging on the afghan below them.

“God. Fuck. Oh god.”

Jungkook pulled slowly off his dick. “Too much?” he asked, tracing his fingers gently over the small spot.

Taehyung was already relaxing without Jungkook sliding up and down his dick, taking deep breaths. His skin shone dimly in the evening light coming in through the windows, making his hair look more blue than lavender.

“You’re my aesthetic, V.”

Taehyung grinned. “Music to my ears,” he gasped, “So cheesy. Never thought…I’d hear you use that word.”

Jungkook giggled. “You’re my everything.”

“I haven’t changed you, have I?”

Jungkook shrugged, still stroking deep inside him. “You’ve made me happier, less apathetic, and more accepting of the world.”

“Fuck. I really am your Manic Pixie Dream Girl, aren’t I?”

Jungkook laughed. “I’m in love with you, Taehyung, not the idea of you. You’re safe.”

“You’re beginning to sound like Namjoon, Mr. Philosopher.”

Jungkook thrust a little faster. “I think Jess is going to convince him to apply to her school up in Atlanta.”

“You’re kidding,” Taehyung said around a harsh grunt.

“He wants a degree in philosophy. I hope he becomes a teacher.”

“A teacher with—ah! Two sleeves of tattoos—nnnngggg.” Jungkook had started flicking his tongue over the head of his angrily hard cock. “Kookie, you’re gonna kill me!”

Jungkook added a third finger, thrusting deep, firm and slow, rocking Taehyung’s body against the afghan. Taehyung gasped with it, eyes shut tight.

“What’s your aesthetic, Taehyung?”

“You’re gonna—” he dissolved into whimpers for a few seconds, “You’re gonna ask me that with three fingers in my ass?”

“Yeah.”

“That vibrator you gave me,” Taehyung said, “the sixties color scheme—ahnnn—and early 2000’s pattern on a sex toy. Fuckin perfect.”

Jungkook smiled. “Urban outfitters is my fuckin aesthetic,” Taehyung gasped, “I’m ashamed to admit it, but fine! I love that store! I like weird Hawaiian shirts and leather shoes. This apartment. Cabinets full of liquor, tiny bathrooms, bright lights under the window in the winter—” he cut off and gasped for a few seconds as Jungkook sucked thoughtfully at the head of his cock. “Spanish moss and old statues. Brick buildings and palmettos. Snapbacks. The way you look when you fall on my lap after working an eight-hour shift.”

Jungkook smiled and sucked gently at the vein on the underside of his dick.

“I love you!” Taehyung gasped.

Jungkook sat up and pulled on a condom, staring down at Jungkook’s sweat-damp hairline, his thick eyebrows, the round set of his panting lips.

“My aesthetic,” Jungkook said, pouring more lube on his hand, “is lavender hair.”

“Oh god, you didn’t call it light purple. Bless you, you beautiful man.”

“My aesthetic is the drawings you did of us both with our hands tied to the bedframe. It’s Fire and Foxy, and the way Spanish moss looks under streetlamps. It’s letterman’s jackets made of fabric scraps, and weird Asian guys wearing clothes that look like they came from Urban outfitters, even though I know you get all your clothes from that weird thrift store down the street.”

“Civvies,” Taehyung snapped, “It’s high-end.”

Jungkook finished stroking lube onto his achingly hard cock and lined up carefully, Taehyung’s hips on his lap and his legs hooked over Jungkook’s arms. Taehyung whimpered with want. “Hurry, Kookie. Please.”

Jungkook pushed in, slow and steady, till he bottomed out, and both of them stayed there for a long moment, locked together and breathing on the floor.

“You know what?” Taehyung murmured weakly, “My aesthetic is crumpled up sketches covering your worn-out couch.”

“Mine is ripped jeans and eyeliner.”

“Mine is Vans and big, white t-shirts. And hoodies. Seeing those on a man gets me wet.”

Jungkook kissed him, deep and slow, lips almost demanding against Taehyung’s. “Your mouth gets to me,” he admitted.

“Can’t be prettier than yours,” Taehyung said, “I could fill a sketchbook with different pieces of your face.”

“That was potentially a really creepy sentence.”

“I’m gonna kill you in your sleep. For art.”

Jungkook laughed and finally pulled slowly out and began the most leisurely pace he’d ever used for sex, an easy, slow drag, in and out, more suited for morning sex than sex on the apartment floor. Taehyung squeezed his eyes shut and tightened up.

“I’m so fucking oversensitive already,” he whimpered, “Fuck you, Kookie.”

Jungkook smiled and focused on the powerful roll of his hips, and the way Taehyung’s nails scratched at his sides, hands trembling.

“Love how you can manhandle me,” Taehyung murmured.

“I worked hard for these abs.”

“I didn’t work at all for mine.”

“You know what? Shut up.”

He leaned down and flicked his tongue over one of Taehyung’s nipples. He whimpered, high pitched and loud, hips jerking weakly against Jungkook’s thrusts. He tried helplessly to arch up, crunched against the floor as he was, then went lax and panted, twitching lightly. Jungkook started working on a hickey against one of his nipples while he pressed Taehyung’s hips up higher, trying to get a better angle. He slid across Taehyung’s sweet spot and heard him sob.

“Relax, V.”

“God, its so much. Fucking speed up, you shit.”

“You want it faster?”

Taehyung squirmed under him, arms knocking against the floor, head rolling to the side, “Fuck! Yes. Please, oh god, please go faster. I need it.”

Jungkook slowed down to deep, even thrusts. He sat up, lowered Taehyung’s hips back into his lap, and watched Taehyung’s eyes open and stare harshly at the ceiling like he was offended. Throaty, desperate moans pressed out of his throat with every sluggish slide.

He reached down and rubbed his thumb gently under the head of Taehyung’s dick, and he rocked his hips desperately, arching his back, eyes snapping shut again. His face screwed up and he threw and arm over his mouth to try to stop himself from crying. Jungkook used his other hand to gently play with Taehyung’s balls and he arched further, a breathy, high whine squeaking out from behind his arm. He flopped back on the floor, panting, and Jungkook saw tears tracking down his face.

“You ok, baby?”

Taehyung sobbed loudly, but nodded. Jungkook was having trouble breathing, he looked so beautiful.

“Hey gorgeous,” he said. Taehyung opened his eyes and looked up at him under sweaty bangs. “Want more?”

Taehyung glared and whacked him with his leg and then seized up, moaning, when that squeezed Jungkook tighter inside him. Jungkook gasped and got his arms locked out under him for a moment, hips stuttering.

Jungkook began slowly speeding up. Taehyung whimpered and twisted, grabbing onto Jungkook’s arms, his head snapping back again, and Jungkook only got faster, gritting his teeth and really beginning to chase the good feeling in his gut, coiling the pressure tighter in his dick. Taehyung bit his own arm to muffle his yelling, torso locked up and solid under Jungkook’s arms.

“Can’t, g-god! Kookie! So close. So close.”

“Come, baby.”

“Can’t! Hurts. Can’t get there.”

Jungkook thrust even faster, angling up to find his prostate again, and Taehyung’s head fell back. He could feel how close Taehyung was by how he twitched around him, the way his breath came in short and irregular, and how he his eyes closed so tight, eyebrows drawing into his forehead. His grip like death on Jungkook’s arms.

His fingernails bit into Jungkook’s arm, and heat surged through his own gut. He growled and bit his lip, then cut his pace in half, punching as hard as he could into Taehyung’s prostate on the way in, and pulling out heavy and slow. Taehyung screamed in frustration.

“So close! Fuck! God dammit I was right fucking there!” he broke down into rattling, breathless sobs.

Jungkook smiled into his chest and began slowly picking up speed again, still punching forward with every thrust and drawing out easy. Taehyung never stopped moaning. The got up to a speed Jungkook knew he’d have a hard time maintaining for very long, and he sat up again, Taehyung’s flexible legs braced on his shoulders, and pressed his hand gently around his balls, the other thumb rubbing tight circles under the head.

Taehyung yelled, locked up, and then bucked frantically under him, cum spilling over his stomach. Jungkook milked him through it and then slowed again, dragging his dick in and out, his hands moving sluggishly. Taehyung writhed and gasped, choking moans and sobs scratching out of his throat, his hands shaking hard against Jungkook’s arms.

When it looked like Taehyung was going to pull his muscles if he continued tightening up like that, Jungkook let go and pulled out, gently lowering his hips to the ground, and Taehyung’s arms flopped against the carpet, his legs fell open, and he panted on the afghan as Jungkook stripped off the condom and started jacking off quickly, his eyes on the way Taehyung’s chest rose and fell. When Jungkook came across his stomach, he moaned quietly, but didn’t react further than that.

When Jungkook finished cleaning him up, he still hadn’t moved or opened his eyes, so he picked his limp body up off the floor and carried him into the bedroom to lay him down. He brought him a water bottle.

“C’mon, V. Hydrate or diedrate.”

He got an arm under Taehyung’s shoulders and hefted him up. Taehyung groaned and leaned his head against Jungkook’s shoulder. Jungkook managed to get the cap on the water unscrewed and then shook Taehyung till he opened his bloodshot eyes.

“Water. Open up.”

Taehyung opened his soft lips and Jungkook tipped the water bottle between them and watched him chug it down.

“Good boy.”

“That was so fucking intense,” Taehyung groaned, “Can I sleep now?”

“You don’t want to shower first?”

“I can’t move my hands.”

“Ok. I’m putting you back down.”

He lay Taehyung back on the pillow and curled himself around him. “Did you even enjoy that? I’m having a hard time telling.”

“Fuck. I loved that. That was so intense. It’s been a while since someone fucked me into oversensitivity before I even came.”

“Glad I could do that for you.”

“God you’re perfect.”

Jungkook smiled into his shoulder, sweaty arms latched around Taehyung’s sweaty body, and it felt a little heavenly.

“Can we do that, like, every night for the rest of our lives?” Taehyung asked.

“Until you get sick of me,” Jungkook murmured.

“That’s not happening,” Taehyung murmured back, “I love you. I’m gonna be here all summer and you’re gonna fuck me like that all the time. Maybe we can finally have sex on the beach.”

“I thought you said that hurt.”

“We’ll find a lifeguard stand or something.”

Taehyung got him up eventually, throwing boxers at his head and insisting on dinner. Jungkook picked up the dead stag shirt on his way through the living room and pulled it over his head.

“Looks good on you,” Taehyung said, rubbing his palms over the image on the front. “You fill it out really well.”

“You mean its too small for me.”

“Nah. It’s perfect.”

Halfway through cooking spaghetti noodles under Jungkook’s watchful eye, Taehyung turned to him and asked, “Is this what you always what you imagined when you wanted a boyfriend?”

Jungkook smiled. “This is better. You’re a lot more high-energy. It’s a lot more exciting than what I pictured. I go to bed exhausted every night.”

Taehyung scowled. “That just sounds like you’re calling me high-maintenance.”

Jungkook laughed and snapped the band Taehyung’s checkered boxers. “You are.”

Taehyung stirred the noodles and frowned at the stove. “I’m not your boyfriend,” he muttered.

Jungkook smiled softly. “You’re better. You’re my best friend with benefits. You’re my one and only. You’re my North Star and Southern Cross. You’re my—”

“Ok, slow down Mr. Cheese Factory,” Taehyung snorted, “We’re not writing pop song lyrics here. But same. To all that.”

Jungkook smiled and dumped tomato sauce into a frying pan full of hamburger meat and onions.

“How’d you get so pretty, kid,” Taehyung asked, pressing up against his side, and Jungkook tipped his forehead onto Taehyung’s, bumping him like a cat.

“It’s only because I’m so in love.”

“Yeah, you quote the worst line in the entire Star Wars franchise. Steal my heart.”

“Nothing but the best for you, babe,” he said, and Taehyung kissed him like he meant it.