Chapter 1: when i first saw your smile
It's not a surprise to anyone that Taehyung and Jimin are getting married.
It is, however, a bit of a surprise to Taehyung how quickly they're getting married, but he's known they'd be together practically since they were born.
His mother probably knew before they were born.
There are things that bring people together, like fate, but this isn't that sort of arrangement.
It's a matter of politics.
The first time Taehyung sees Jimin is a month before their wedding day. He's seen pictures before, seen him on the internet only a few times (the boy is either very obedient or a master at avoiding scandals), but he's never talked to him. Maybe he should have. Honestly, he didn't even feel like a real person. Until this moment, Park Jimin has just been a non-playable character in a quest Taehyung hasn't quite made it to. A book that Taehyung's had on his shelf for years and somehow forgotten to read.
Now, Taehyung could touch him if he wanted to.
He won't, because that's creepy and weird and definitely uncalled for, but he could.
If he wanted to.
Park Jimin is cute in the way that an awkward teenager is cute. He's halfway between baby fat and the definition that comes with maturity, his face a little squishy but promising. His nose has a little bump in it, and his lips are almost too big for his face. Not that Taehyung has any room to judge. His ears stick out funny and he hasn't grown into his limbs yet, so he kind of stumbles around and prays he doesn't break anything. His mom says that his brother was just the same, but it's not reassuring because Namjoon is still the same and Taehyung doesn't want to have to worry about ruining dishes for the rest of his life.
Jimin holds out his hand. It's small and chubby and cute, his nails are nicely trimmed, but it's also shaking a little in the way that his voice doesn't when he says a short, "Hello, nice to meet you."
Taehyung feels a little bad. He's not scary, but he's really tall. Much taller than Jimin, at least, although looking at him it's probably not that hard. He wishes he could make himself a little smaller, if only to make Jimin more comfortable.
Not running into things as much would be a nice bonus.
Of course, Taehyung knows that it's probably less his physical size that's making Jimin's hand shake and more the fact that they're going to be married in a month.
The only reason Taehyung's not shaking is because Park Jimin is still making the transition from Semi-Known Entity to Physical Presence. Even seeing his mother bustling over the wedding plans for the past few months has not affected him as much as a short, rehearsed, over-polite sentence from this stranger that he's going to be spending the rest of his life with.
He's not so different from the people his parents rule. His life is in the hands of the government just as much, if not more.
Politics have determined his entire future, handed it to him in a neatly wrapped bow in the form of Park Jimin, and Taehyung would be unwise not to take it.
In all honesty, he's happy with the decision his parents have made for him. He has far more leeway than Namjoon-hyung when it comes to prospective partners. For example, gender.
Taehyung has known he was gay from a young age - maybe too young. But when you're surrounded by very physically fit bodyguards in all black day in and day out, you're bound to notice some things.
When he told Namjoon, his brother just laughed like the ass he is.
He's happy, though, that he's the second son. It would be...hard, being next in line for the throne. Namjoon has to make every decision for the sake of the country.
Taehyung just has to do this.
He doesn't need to produce an heir. He doesn't need to keep the family name going for the sake of politics, for the sake of making things easy for his children's children. He can marry whomever he pleases, as long as it's beneficial to his country also. Which is, honestly, still a fairly short list, but at least it’s longer than Namjoon’s.
It was decided that he would marry Jimin far before he was old enough to have an actual opinion on anything, but Taehyung trusts his mother's instincts almost as much as he trusts his own. He knows that she wouldn't hesitate to call it off if it seemed that Park Jimin was not a good fit for her son.
He wonders if Jimin has that sort of faith in his family.
He wonders what Jimin thinks about all of this.
He wonders if he and Jimin will ever actually fall in love, the way his parents did.
It's impossible to tell, but the walls behind Jimin's eyes make Taehyung think it might be a little harder than he's prepared for.
The wedding is a simple affair.
For Taehyung, at least.
For everyone else, no extravagance is spared. It's a party for them, for the country, a national affair, but Taehyung has trouble enjoying any of it through the butterflies in his stomach.
The only thing Taehyung really cares about is the food at the reception (his mother made sure to order all of Taehyung's favorites, and Taehyung made sure she ordered all of Jimin's, too) but the amount of time, effort, and money that went into this wedding is so much that it makes Taehyung's head hurt.
The ceremony is held in the gardens, not the ones that Taehyung likes to stroll through in the morning, the ones where Jimin talks to the gardeners and maybe sometimes Taehyung, but the big ones in the Arboretum, where the more interesting indigenous plants grow. Where it feels more like a fairy tale than real life.
Taehyung has always really liked these gardens, used to get lost in them when he was a kid. He would wander off for hours, irritating his guards and his mother and his father and also sometimes himself, when he got so lost even he didn't know where to go. Namjoon always knew where he was. Somehow. Would always know exactly where to find him. And he'd always say, "It's time to go home. Let's go together."
And they would.
Taehyung wonders if Jimin would know where to find him.
The past month has done very little to help Taehyung get any closer to his future husband. Jimin isn't shy, exactly. Not with anyone else, anyway. All he's heard from the staff is how lovely the prince is. He helps out in the kitchens when he can. He's on a first name basis with the gardeners. The other day, Taehyung was passing by one of the extra bedrooms only to see a glimpse of Jimin helping one of the maids make the bed.
Taehyung might have said something, gone in and made conversation, if it weren't for the fact that Jimin was taking great pains to avoid him.
It's not that Jimin doesn't like him. Taehyung doesn't think he does, anyway. Jimin doesn't even know him well enough to dislike him, unless he's one of those people that makes extreme assumptions based on first impressions. Which would be unfortunate because Taehyung doesn't really like those people.
But that seems against everything else about Jimin that Taehyung has observed so far.
Taehyung thinks that Jimin might just be having a little extra trouble adjusting to the idea of being married. They're young, only 16 (Jimin is turning 17 soon), and marriage isn't really on the agenda for most kids their age. He knows that the other kids in his class at school whisper about it a little bit behind his back, but as far as he's concerned it doesn't appear to be malicious. For the most part, they're just excited. More excited than Taehyung is. But he guesses that it makes sense. For them, it's just a party.
For Taehyung, it's his whole life.
For Jimin...who knows what it is.
But this marriage is a marriage of friendship. A joining of two countries on good terms.
Taehyung hopes that they can be friends, too.
They talked once, in the gardens after Jimin stopped talking with the gardeners.
"It's nice out here, isn't it?"
Jimin had seemed surprised to see him out there. To see anyone other than the gardeners and his own shadow. Taehyung didn't take it personally. "Yes, it is," he answers simply, smiling lightly. His face was illuminated by the sun as he looked up at Taehyung. Taehyung remembers that very clearly.
The season was just starting to flip the switch from summer into autumn, and Jimin was just sitting there on the stone bench in his hoodie and jeans, his black hair unstyled, cheeks red from washing his face in the morning and eyes a little puffy from sleep.
"It's a little early to be taking a stroll," Jimin had said casually.
Taehyung remembers trying to decide if that was a hint that Jimin wanted to be alone. "I often take strolls in the morning."
There was a moment of silence before Taehyung said, "I hope I'm not disturbing you."
"It's okay," Jimin had answered, and Taehyung is still confused about whether he was disturbing Jimin or not. "I just like it to be quiet in the morning."
So Taehyung had sat down on the ground at Jimin's feet, leaning his back against the bench, close enough that he could have leaned against Jimin's legs if he had wanted to.
He didn't, because that would have been weird and uncalled for, but he could have.
If he had wanted to.
Just based on that interaction, Taehyung thinks they could be friends.
He hasn't seen Jimin yet today. It's the Day. Taehyung's mother had spewed off some nonsense about not being able to see each other until the ceremony. Something about luck, or something stupid, because even at 16 Taehyung knows that a relationship isn't luck, it's hard work, and if it works it won't be because he didn't see Jimin until they met at the altar.
In reality, he's kind of glad they don't see each other because he doesn't think he could handle it if his husband ignored him on their wedding day.
It's the Day. Their Day.
They're not in love but some day, that's going to mean something.
It means something to Taehyung.
He wants to ask Jimin what it means to him.
He'll find out eventually.
There is no bride in this wedding, so they both walk aisle at the same time. It's better that way, Taehyung thinks. Puts them on the same level, right from the beginning. This may be Taehyung's country, but they're still walking in at the same time. Jimin isn’t behind Taehyung and Taehyung isn’t behind Jimin. They’re together.
He hopes this is how it always is.
Jimin looks nice, the way a teenager forced to dress up for a family photo looks nice. He's uncomfortable. Taehyung doesn't know him that well yet, but he's good at people. He can see the strain in the corner of Jimin's eyes, in the way he smiles. This isn't the smile he gives the cooks or the gardeners or the maids. It's not even the one he gave Taehyung out there on the bench.
Taehyung wants to smooth the strain away, if only because no one should deal with that kind of stress on their Day. He wants to brings his fingers up the corners of Jimin's eyes and rub his headaches away.
Now, he takes Jimin's hand, smoothing his thumb over the back of it, back and forth, back and forth, and Jimin might be thankful. He doesn't know Jimin well enough to tell, but it makes Taehyung feel better, so he continues through the sermon, through the vows, and before he knows if they're sealing the deal with an awkward kiss and the clapping is so loud it seems a little bit like the sky is falling.
Taehyung presses the memory into the folds of his brain. It means very little to him now.
But maybe one day it will mean more.
The reception passes by in a blur. The students from his classes, usually nameless but now suddenly close friends, come up and congratulate him. Taehyung makes sure to always introduce the people who greet them to Jimin, properly, without titles, because people know who Jimin is but they don't Know, and Jimin doesn't Know them at all.
Jimin is grateful.
Taehyung is able to tell.
There are some people from Jimin's country, also.
Taehyung has met Jimin's mother and father before, at least twice, at important functions. Their kingdom is smaller than the one Taehyung's family controls, but they're extremely vocal. Influential. Taehyung knows his parents consider them to be trustworthy. Almost friends.
Maybe definitely friends, if political jargon didn't get in the way.
Jimin's older brothers are also there, causing trouble in a good natured way, and Taehyung immediately likes them. He likes Jimin with them. He's so much more comfortable. Taehyung almost wishes this marriage happened the other way around, where Taehyung traveled to Jimin's home, because Taehyung feels like it might be easier for him to open up around Jimin's family.
He thinks about being so far away from his parents and brother and he feels so sad.
Jimin must be very strong, to be able to keep a happy face on whenever important people are around.
Taehyung's almost glad that Jimin avoided him for the past month if it means that Jimin didn't pretend around him.
Pretending is a step away from lying. Taehyung understands, but he'd rather start off their relationship on a cleaner slate.
Jimin is still going to pretend, though. Jimin is the sort of person to hold back so that others don't worry.
Taehyung worries anyway.
That might be what Jimin needs.
Someone to worry about him whether he wants them to or not.
To Taehyung, that sounds an awful lot like a mother's job, but he's a Husband now, and he doesn't know what Husbands are supposed to do, so he carefully files that away under his mental list of Husband Duties.
He thinks he'll ask his dad about it later.
He doesn't have to worry right now, though, not when Jimin is with his family and friends. His smile lights up the whole room. His entire presence is brighter than the light of the chandeliers overhead.
"He'll be a good match, don't you think?" Namjoon slides up beside him, grinning so his dimples show. His hair is shaved on the sides and bleached blond. Taehyung remembers his mother's face when she'd first seen it.
He smiles into the glass of wine in his hand. "I hope so."
They both look at Jimin in the the middle of the ballroom, dancing with one of his small cousins, her shiny shoes scuffing his own as she stands on them. Jimin stomps, extra exaggeratedly, and she wails in delight loudly enough that her mother moves to shush her. Jimin deftly twirls the girl away and grabs the aunt instead. "May I have this dance?" he asks cheekily.
"Rascal," his aunt says fondly, face a little flushed with wine and embarrassment.
Taehyung is grinning from the side of the room. "I think he will be, actually." He nibbles his lip. "After he gets used to everything."
"You both will have some things to get used to," Namjoon points out casually, smiling at a duke and duchess as they pass by.
"But he's so far away from home! His family won't be as close as mine is." Taehyung swirls the wine in his glass, a nervous tick.
"You won't exactly be next door."
His parents have gifted him a nice estate a few cities away, not quite secluded but in a small, sleepy town, the kind that Taehyung has always wanted to experience. Nothing is too far nowadays, not with planes, trains, and automobiles, but it will definitely be something new and different.
Taehyung is equal parts nervous and excited. "I'll still be closer, though." Not only that, but some of the staff from the castle will be following them to the new estate. Taehyung has lived in the castle since his birth. He knows almost all of the staff. He hopes that at least some of the people that follow them are the ones that Jimin has befriended. Hoseok the gardener, maybe. He should ask.
If Jimin finds it easier to talk with the staff than with Taehyung, then, well, that sucks, but Taehyung is going to do his best make him as comfortable as possible.
If the the past month has been frustrating, and the Day has been slightly off, that night is just...
They're both tired, enjoying the party to the fullest but on their own, with different people. They barely acknowledged each other’s presence during the reception, unless you count eyeing one another the whole evening.
Taehyung spent a lot of time talking with Jimin's brothers, actually. He was very careful not to ask any personal questions; he'd rather Jimin answered those himself. But he asked about favorites. Foods, colors, music, movies, books. The kind of things you tell strangers on the bus.
He doesn't ask, but he learns that Jimin is somewhat afraid of thunderstorms but likes it when it rains. Jimin can't sit still for too long before he starts getting antsy. His parents put him in dance classes and fencing when he was little to try and siphon off some of his energy. Jimin wants to dye his hair orange.
Taehyung thinks Jimin would look good with orange hair.
He doesn't know what Jimin was doing during the few times where he was out of Taehyung's line of sight, but he hopes that Jimin was at least interested in him enough to ask Namjoon a few questions. Not that Namjoon would ever tell him if that were the case.
Although, thinking about it, it might be better if Jimin didn't. Namjoon has no qualms telling anyone about every terrible thing Taehyung has ever done. It's just good dinner conversation to him. The verbal equivalent of his mother pulling out baby pictures. Hey, have you heard the story of that one time Taehyung got stuck in a tree and cried for hours before someone found him? Well, you have now.
Jimin has his entire life to figure out exactly how lame Taehyung is. He'd rather they didn't start too early.
But maybe hearing about Taehyung's ridiculous escapades as a child would help break the ice.
As it is, the room is practically chilly from their awkwardness alone. It's not just Jimin either. It's Taehyung who's hesitating to step through the door. Jimin is already bustling quietly around the room, looking extremely tired if the set of his shoulders means anything. All of their belongings are in suitcases, ready to leave in the morning when they wake up for their...for their new life together. So Jimin has to rifle through bags and more bags to find the stuff he needs for bed. Taehyung can hear him muttering to himself softly, mildly berating himself for not leaving out the stuff he needs. Taehyung's mother has set his clothes for the morning on the dresser, his sleep clothes on the bed, and he kind of wishes Jimin's mom were here instead of on the road back home so that Jimin's clothes were sitting right next to his, if only for Jimin's own comfort.
Taehyung goes through the motions of getting ready for bed on autopilot. Jimin is ready before he is, out of his overly formal wedding clothes and into a t-shirt and boxers, makeup washed off except for the little smudges of eyeliner under his eyes that he's probably too tired to care about. He ruffles his hair out of it's styling on his way out of the bathroom and slides under the sheets without a care in the world.
If there's one thing Taehyung is grateful for, it’s that not only is Jimin not making a big deal out of them sharing the same bed, but he also seems completely content to just...sleep. Taehyung would have been really surprised if Jimin suddenly wanted to do the dirty or something, based off of everything else he's noticed, but they're horny teenagers so what the hell does Taehyung know? Anything could happen.
He really hopes not, but anything could happen.
Taehyung slides into bed, watches Jimin set his alarm in the morning a little early so he has time to shower. Taehyung sets his own a little later. He doesn't smell too bad, and he'd rather just take one shower after their flight instead of taking two. He hates sitting around in travel grime. Least favorite.
They're both still lying there. Awake. Taehyung is staring at the ceiling, thinking thinking thinking and it's annoying, really. He'd rather sleep than think almost always. At least he's not alone. Taehyung knows that Jimin is awake too from the quiet, frustrated huffs every once in awhile on his side of the bed.
"How do you feel about flying, husband?" Taehyung asks softly, almost to no one but not quite.
Jimin's back stiffens. His whole body. Taehyung can feel it through the mattress just as well as he can see it in the semi-darkness of the temporary bedroom. He almost wonders if Jimin won't answer him. Exactly how far is Jimin going to take the avoidance. It's frustrating. Taehyung is too tired.
"I like flying," Jimin answers.
Taehyung isn't surprised that it was the casual husband that made Jimin uncomfortable. It was out of his mouth without a thought, but it might have been too soon. He can't wait until they get to the point where the word doesn't make either of them tense like they're about to be assaulted. His filter is gone. Maybe he shouldn't be talking.
Keep it safe. "What's your favorite color?"
Jimin snorts a little bit. It might be cute eventually. "Starts with b and ends with loo." It's a lot of words considering how late it is and how sleepy the room feels. They both want to sleep so badly. Taehyung can tell.
Taehyung hums. "Ah. I like green, too."
Another snort. It's growing on him. "Dumb joke."
"M'not funny after midnight."
"That's a shame."
Taehyung laughs a little, lazily, sleepily into his pillow, more smile than sound. "So, you only like me because I'm funny?"
"I'm not even sure if I like you at all."
It's said...just a shade too seriously for Taehyung not to feel the brunt of his words. Not meanly, but not kindly either. Like a smack that hurts a little more than intended because it hits a sensitive place. That's not even a metaphor, that's exactly what it is.
Park Jimin seems to lose his filter at night, too.
It's a minute, at least, before Taehyung can trust himself to answer. "Harsh." He keeps his voice light, but the tense atmosphere his silence has created has to have clued Jimin in on the fact that he's hit a nerve.
Jimin must know, because he doesn't reply.
Doesn't ask Taehyung any questions that might lighten the mood.
Taehyung turns in the bed so he's facing the opposite wall.
"I like blue, too."
It's a long night.
Taehyung wakes up with the sun.
It's unusual that Taehyung is up so early, especially when he was up so late and was so emotionally exhausted as he had been the night before. When he wakes up, he feels the stress of the last night, the last month, feels it settled in his bones now that he's letting himself acknowledge it. His head still feels heavy. His too long limbs want to settle into the mattress and stay there forever.
But the more Taehyung wakes up, the more he realizes that maybe it wasn't the sun that woke him up.
Maybe it was Jimin.
Jimin isn't in bed with him anymore. He's not too far away. Taehyung can hear him still, probably sitting in the bathroom, on the toilet.
Taehyung is awake.
It doesn't matter that they don't know each other well. There's nothing worse than crying in a bathroom by yourself. Taehyung strongly believes that crying deserves company, even if it's silent. But not everyone subscribes to that belief. Taehyung knows this, so when he pulls himself out of bed, running a hand over his face to rub away the sleep, and makes his way to the slightly open bathroom door, he makes enough noise to betray his presence, and then he waits.
"Shit." Jimin's voice is muffled by something, probably his own hand. Taehyung swallows. "Shit, come in."
With Jimin's consent, Taehyung pushes the door open a little further and slips inside.
Jimin is sitting there, still in his bedclothes, towel in one hand and travel clothes in the other, crumpled in his fist. His hair is a mess, sticking flat to one side of his head, and the make up that had been smudged under his eyes has migrated down his face and been rubbed at so it's smeared over his cheeks. It's impossible to tell if the residue left around his eyes is eyeliner or dark circles, because Jimin looks so. Tired.
And sad. There is a snotty wad of toilet paper sitting on the bathroom counter and tears are running down his face.
Taehyung wants to give him a hug but that's weird so he doesn't.
"I..." Jimin's voice cracks. He takes a deep breath. "I can't figure out how to work the shower."
He could have woken up Taehyung, and Taehyung would tell him so if that was actually the problem. So he just moves to sit on the counter beside where Jimin sits on the toilet, left butt cheek slipping a little into the sink, but he's not sitting for comfort, at least not his own.
When Jimin reaches for the toilet paper again, Taehyung gently holds his wrist to stop him and then opens one of the drawers underneath him and pulls out a travel pack of floral printed tissues (not his choice). Jimin sniffles gratefully as he takes one. "Sorry." He wipes at his cheeks. He misses a lot of the makeup but it's alright.
"Don't be sorry."
"No, I'm..." Another deep breath. "I'm sorry about last night." His voice is wavering, but this, this apology, is firm. There's no room for wobbling. "I shouldn't have said that. I...I like you." He swallows. "You've been nothing but nice to me, and everyone has only...mostly nice things to say about you."
"I knew you talked to Namjoon-hyung."
Jimin smiles. It's watery but it's okay. "I just...didn't want you to still be hurting because I said a few words I didn't really mean."
"Apologies are good band-aids." Taehyung smiles too, softer than he usually does, because Jimin is soft, almost fragile at the moment. "I hope that's not why you're sitting in here by yourself."
"And I really hope it's not because you can't figure out the shower."
He laughs. "Nope. That was just...the straw that broke the camel’s back. Can't even figure out the shower.” He laughs again, but it sounds more like a strangled sob. “Everything is different to the point where I can't even figure out the damn shower."
Taehyung pulls his legs up, crossing them to sit Indian-style, the bones of his ankles digging a little into the ceramics of the counter but he doesn't mind. "Do you want to talk about it?"
A part of him expects the answer to be no. Jimin has been rather closed off, and he's more vulnerable now, but that doesn't mean his walls are down.
But maybe they are, because he leans back against the back of the toilet, and he says, "I miss home, mostly." He swallows again. Taehyung sees his Adam's apple bob. "I...I've never even been in a relationship, and now I'm married? I knew it was going to happen but..."
"Yes!" This is the first time Jimin has looked at him throughout their conversation. "Everything is different. This month has been so different, because you're real. You're not just in the background anymore. It's..."
Taehyung grins. "Different."
"Yeah." Jimin smiles a little too, a little less watery than before. "It's different."
"Maybe 'different' can be our 'always.'"
"Don't." Jimin smacks him.
The room is lighter.
"I'll get used to it," Jimin says after a while.
"It's okay if it takes you a while," Taehyung tells him. "But avoiding me probably doesn't help."
Jimin doesn't pretend not to be guilty. "Sorry...I thought that...if I avoided you it would be...less real?"
"There is no one within this entire castle that knows more about what you're going through than I do." Jimin sighs, but Taehyung keeps going. "I don't know everything, because this is my country, my castle, my family, but pretty much everything else. Everything else I can connect with at least a little bit better than the gardeners."
"The gardener is nice!"
"He's coming with us," Taehyung says absently.
Jimin perks up. "He is? Hoseok-hyung?"
Taehyung smiles. "Mhmm."
"I asked him a few weeks ago and he said he wasn't!"
"I am a prince," Taehyung says, mockingly scandalized. "I have connections."
"Okay, I asked my dad."
His smiles brightens, big and real and genuine, and Taehyung barely even notices the makeup still on his face. It falls a little, suddenly, not into sadness but into confusion. "Why?"
Shit, Taehyung didn't think about this very well. "You...liked him?" That sounds bad. "I mean, you guys are friends! I wanted you to have people you know whenever we leave! The cook has to stay and the maid you're friends with has a family here so she couldn't come."
Jimin is staring at him.
"Shit, sorry, is that too much?" Taehyung is so ready to backtrack. He will backtrack to the womb. Goodbye world. See you later.
"No," Jimin says, right before Taehyung is about to start ascending from the mortal plane. "It's not too much. It's nice. I didn't know you had noticed."
"I wasn't the one avoiding you," Taehyung points out, not harshly, but maybe a little pointedly. "It seems like you talked to everyone in this castle except for me."
"I haven't talked to your brother."
"That's a lie."
"That's a lie," Jimin admits, smiling.
"You've talked to Namjoon-hyung more than you've talked to me! And Namjoon-hyung is so lame! I'm much better company."
Jimin makes a face. "I thought Namjoon-hyung was fine company."
"But I'm better company, that's the whole point," Taehyung says, sitting primly on the bathroom sink.
"I'll have to trust you on that, I guess."
The atmosphere gets quiet again, less tense than before, but it's still there, right underneath. Taehyung doesn't want to pry anymore than he has, but he also doesn't want Jimin to feel like Taehyung wouldn't listen again. "You don't have to tell me everything, but I'll listen if you need me to." He grins. "I'm also very good at distracting."
Jimin hums, taking a deep breath. Taehyung wonders what Jimin sounds like when he sings.
He bets it would be really nice.
"I might take you up on that later." He checks the time on his phone. "Maybe not right now. I'm already running late."
"I'm running early." Taehyung's alarm isn't supposed to go off for another half hour.
He laughs. A full laugh. A belly laugh. It's warm. "Maybe you've got time, but I don't."
"We do." Taehyung says. "We've got a lot of time."
Jimin looks at him for a seconds. Then he nods, nose a little pink.
Taehyung stands up. "Let's me show you how to use the shower."
The ride to the airport goes quickly. They don't have to go through security because it's a private flight, but it's still...a hassle.
There are paparazzi waiting for them by the doors. There's very little Taehyung wants to do less than smile for the cameras right now. He's tired, Jimin's tired. Jimin's eyes are still red and puffy under carefully applied makeup. Jimin does a better job of pretending than Taehyung does, even when Taehyung probably feels better in the long run. Or maybe Jimin just likes cameras. Taehyung will have to remember to ask later.
Things feel better, though. Even if Taehyung feels tired, things feel better. He doesn't want to say he's glad that he caught Jimin crying, but he's glad that choked feeling has dissipated. He isn't sure what he would do if he had to just sit there, stewing in it, for the entirety of the 2 hour flight. It's not that long for a flight, but it's too long for that. No thank you.
Jimin smiles right up until the doors close behind him. "Oh my god." His entire bearing dims a little bit. "I hate that."
That answers that question.
"You seemed right at home," Taehyung points out. He knows the way to the boarding area by heart. He could do it with his eyes closed. Jimin is forced to follow. His hands clench and unclench a little, reaching every once in awhile, like he wants to hold onto Taehyung so he doesn't get lost. Taehyung wouldn’t mind, but he's not sure they’re at the point where hand holding would feel anything less than unnatural.
"Cameras are exhausting." Jimin sticks close instead. His feet almost hit the back of Taehyung's carry on. The bodyguards around them should be enough to make Jimin feels safe, but it's probably more just a natural reaction to being in a new place than any sort of actual fear. "You've got to make a beeline, get through it as fast as possible." He makes little hand motions that Taehyung appreciates.
"But then you're rude."
"I know! It's the worst!" He groans dramatically. "Trying to deal with a pushy cameraman and a nosy interviewer while also trying to talk nicely about someone you don't like?"
"The worst!" Jimin grins. "There's a reason I'm not on television much."
Taehyung hums. He'd wondered. "Why is that? You're a perfect angel?"
"That," Jimin agrees. "And also I told my mom that if she made me appear on too many television broadcasts I'd pick a wedgie or something on camera."
Taehyung's pretty sure he's done that before. "There are worse things."
"Please don't tell my mom."
Surprisingly so, after the wall Jimin's had up for the past month or so. Maybe it took a lot for Jimin to build that wall. Maybe it wasn't his normal self at all. Maybe he's naturally open and friendly, like he is now. And it was just...
It was just Taehyung.
It makes sense, after seeing him more or less charm the pants off of the entire wait-staff, but it still stings. Just a little bit.
But it's better now, and that's all that Taehyung cares about really.
This conversation is really nice. Even without the past month, it's still really easy. Easier than it should be. Taehyung is also friendly, also open, but things don't always click, not even between two open and friendly people.
Easy bodes well.
Jimin takes a window seat on the plane.
There is a lot of space, a lot of seats. Which one does Taehyung take. Would it be awkward to sit right next to Jimin? Would it be awkward to sit down somewhere else? What does he do. His mother didn't prepare him for this.
Jimin makes the decision for him. "Stop making that face," he says flatly, patting the seat beside him.
Taehyung stores his carry on and sits down. Jimin is staring at the window, even though all he can see right now is asphalt and the people running around, scrambling to make sure the plane can take off without sudden death or spontaneous combustion.
"Do you like flying?" Jimin asks.
"Not particularly." Taehyung shrugs. "I prefer driving."
Jimin grimaces. "Sitting still for that long hurts me, both physically and emotionally."
"But on a car ride, you can stop and get ice cream. Just pull off of the highway whenever you want and pick up a Blizzard from DQ and suddenly the world is a better place."
Jimin is still looking out of the window. "Ice cream doesn't help my ass."
"Besides." Jimin taps his fingers against the arm rest a little. "I'm more of a milkshakes guy."
Taehyung looks at him dumbly. "A Blizzard is a milkshake."
"Not if you can't drink if through a straw," says Jimin incredulously, like he's put off by the very thought.
"What kind of rule...you can't just make rules up!" Flabbergasted.
Jimin sticks his tongue out. His tongue! Out. At Taehyung. How unprincely. "Someone has to."
"I want a divorce."
He pretends it doesn't hurt when Jimin throws his shoe at him. "You punk, you're stuck with me forever." His voice hardly even wobbles.
"I'm glad." Taehyung smiles his brightest smile. He's joking, but he's not, and he needs Jimin to know. "I don't know you very well, but I'd rather be stuck with you forever than that girl staring me down at the reception."
Jimin goes back to looking out the window. Taehyung thinks he might be blushing just a little bit but he can't be sure. "There were many girls staring you down at the reception, Taehyung, you looked very nice."
"There were more people staring at you."
Jimin's laugh is disbelieving but Taehyung knows this is fact because he counted. "You looked hot. You have to accept it."
"Accepted." He laughs. "Although it might have had more to do with the fact that none of them knew who I was."
"Hot and mysterious. The complete package."
"All that and a bag of chips."
Taehyung laughs. "If there was a bag of chips in that reception my mother would have had a conniption."
"I'll sneak some in, next time," Jimin says casually. "Crinkle the bag really loudly just so she knows I've got the goods.When I open them, the whole room will smell like potatoes and grease and trans fats."
"It's not like you're going to get married again," Taehyung says, only realizing how true that is after the words have already flown out of his mouth.
Jimin chews on his lip for a second. Taehyung can't tell if he's digesting this fact or if he's trying to figure out how to respond or if he's thinking about what an idiot his brand new husband is or—
"When's the next reception?" Jimin says easily, after only a few seconds of Taehyung panicking. "I'll take care of catering."
Another second, before Taehyung can properly analyze Jimin's fragile emotional state from that response, he decides to just go with it and worry about it later. "An entire evening sustained by Lay's chips and a 2-litre."
"Hey, I know how to throw a party," his husband says, disgusted at the insult. "There would be at least three 2-litres of different soda, and one lemonade for the people who are healthy or whatever."
"Of course." Taehyung nods. "Maybe even a large pizza or two."
"At least two." Jimin is looking out of the window again, chin propped up on his hand, short fingers covering his smile as he watches the employees scramble to get everything finalized so that they can leave. "The key to these events is variety."
"Ah." Taehyung bites his lips, trying to control his smile. "Have you thrown many of these events?"
"Oh, hundreds. I'm the major event coordinator back home."
"Everyone must roll around instead of walk."
"It's balanced out by lots of exercise."
Taehyung can't keep himself from grimacing. "Exercise is the worst. No, thank you."
"Exercise is wonderful, excuse you." Jimin looks at Taehyung incredulously, brow furrowed and lips pursed in an expression that's more ridiculous than anything. "It's what gets me out of bed in the morning."
"Oh no." Taehyung rolls his eyes. "Are you one of those people that wakes up early to go run or lift weights or something? Because I'm still waiting for that divorce."
Jimin smacks him on the arm. "Exercise is an important part of life, Kim Taehyung. It makes it so you don't become one with the couch cushions."
"Have you talked with my mom recently? Because I'm pretty sure she's said that at least a million times."
"Your mom is a smart woman." Jimin's eyes crinkle as he smiles. "She makes good tea, too. I didn't expect that."
Taehyung gapes at him. "You had tea with my mother?"
Jimin hums affirmatively.
"Have you gone hunting with my father, too?" he grumbles.
Jimin scrunches up his nose at the thought. It's really cute. "I'm not big on hunting, actually." He smirks at Taehyung. "Although we have chanced upon each other in the library. Did you know your father has exceptional taste in books?" He blinks innocently.
"I can't believe you're friends with my entire family," Taehyung wails. "First loser Namjoon-hyung and then my loser parents! I'm the coolest."
"I think loser is genetic."
"Bitch, it might be." Taehyung sniffs haughtily. "But I'm the best loser in my family."
Jimin barks out a laugh, one, sharp and loud and from his belly, throwing his head back against the headrest.
The pilot comes on the intercom and tells the two of them to buckle their seat belts. Jimin goes back to looking out of the window, smile not quite fading, and as the plane makes its way down the runway and up into the air, Taehyung might even be a little bit excited for the future.
It’s a big house. That’s Taehyung’s first thought when they pull up.
Not as big as the castle obviously, but probably about the same size as where they go for vacations sometimes. More of a mansion than a house, with lots of green lawn and a dark blue roof and soft white stone and the promise of a really nice garden in the back (Taehyung’s parents know how much he loved the garden) and Taehyung is kind of itching to go check it out. Would Jimin like to come with him? Jimin really liked the garden at home.
The garden might have to wait though.
All of the staff is waiting for them by the doors, standing in neat rows on the lawn to welcome them, and although there are some familiar faces, for the most part there are plenty of new friends to make. It gives Taehyung a good feeling. Starting over. But...not. Just enough old to offset the new. To keep things from being too scary.
Taehyung turns to grin at Jimin as he gets out of the car, but Jimin barely spares him a smile before going to greet the staff. He looks nervous, a little green, but by the time he reaches the first person, a smiling man with dirt on his forehead named Lee Jinki that Taehyung is left to assume is a groundskeeper, all unease is gone from Jimin’s face, his shoulders, and he’s smiling back just as brightly.
It’s a little worrying how well Jimin can turn it on and off, but Taehyung shouldn’t be surprised when they grew up the same, knee deep in politics and forced into smiles and nice suits.
Jimin makes his way down the line, greeting everyone. It’s not until he breezes up the main stairs and smiles at Taehyung over his shoulder before going inside that Taehyung realizes Jimin barely looked at him at all.
“Welcome home, sir,” Jinki says when Taehyung greets him, bowing politely.
“Home.” Taehyung takes a deep breath and smiles. “Home sounds nice.”
“Jimin?” he asks one night, lying in bed, talking to the back of Jimin’s head. Jimin is sitting at the desk, writing a letter by hand to someone that Taehyung has never met.
There are boxes piled up in the corner, half unpacked. Taehyung’s shoes are thrown haphazardly in his closet and all of Jimin’s hoodies are piled up on the dresser by the bed. It’s been a week and Taehyung still has an entire box full of clothes he has to put away. Don’t even get him started on his books and papers and toiletries. His mother would be appalled. The only thing that he’s completely unpacked are all of his picture, carefully hung on the walls and set on tables around the house.
But the staff is nice. Smaller than Taehyung is used to, which just means that he can know everyone, and doesn’t have to settle for knowing most of them. And he can know about their families, and their pets, and their lives. Not just their faces and names and job description.
He thinks he’s excited.
Is Jimin excited? They can be excited together.
Taehyung watches as Jimin finishes his sentence, stabbing the ending period with extra fervor, pursing his lips a little. Finally Jimin smiles at him over his shoulder. “Yes, Taehyung?” He looks nice in the lamp light, kind of tired. But nice.
“Do you like it here?”
Jimin pauses, eyes flitting up to the ceiling lazily as he carefully considers his words. He smiles. “Yeah, I think I do.” And then he goes back to writing.
Taehyung settles into to bed, pulling the covers up by his chin, and falls asleep to the sound of Jimin’s pencil scratching against paper.
Jimin is gone before Taehyung wakes up.
It’s been awhile since Taehyung woke up with the sun.
Jimin is beside him this time, his hands clutching at his face and the blanket tossed aside sometime during the night. Taehyung is careful not to wake him as he gets out of bed.
His bare feet dig into the lush carpet as he quietly waddles around, trying to remember how to walk in the dim light of the morning, pulling on some slippers and throwing a sweatshirt on over the t-shirt he slept in before walking out the door and into the hallway.
He stops by the kitchen first, where one of the cooks hands him a muffin and a glass of juice and ruffles his bed head, tutting like the mother she is. Taehyung thinks her name is Heeyeon. He’s almost certain but he’s also half awake so he thanks her genuinely and profusely without using her name and then wanders off through the mansion until he reaches his destination.
Taehyung has always loved the garden.
This one isn’t the one that he grew up getting lost in, but it’s a close second, carefully cultivated under his mother’s watchful eye because she knows how to make her son happy.
He’s always been grateful. Now he’s grateful and he misses his mom.
There’s something to be said about being outside in the morning. When the sun is bright but not blinding and the autumn-soon-winter chill is kept at bay with layers of cotton and fleece and a good feeling. Taehyung breathes in, the air is crisp, and he thinks this might be his favorite thing.
By this point, they have been here long enough that Taehyung has wandered the garden a fair few times, usually in the evenings or just after lunch right before his food stupor hits. There is usually a lot of bustle, at least three staff members flitting about for Taehyung to chat with. Jongdae, one of the waitstaff, often hides in one of the trees until Junmyeon comes and scolds him, but until then Taehyung thinks that Jongdae is pretty good company.
Now, though, it’s soft and quiet, and Taehyung is soft and quiet, and everything fits tightly and comfortably together.
Taehyung doesn’t come across another soul until he’s deep in the garden, his mind far away, and realizes there is a man there humming as he waters flowers.
“Hello,” Taehyung calls.
It takes another few tries before he manages to get the gardener’s attention. The other man turns, pulling out one of his earphones, and Taehyung laughs because Kanye West seems a little abrasive for the early morning.
The man looks embarrassed. “Ah, sorry, sir.” He bows. His hair is short, black, unstyled in the early morning, but his skin glows and his presence is big and Taehyung thinks he rather likes him.
Taehyung squints at the groundskeeper’s face, going through the list of names in his head. Jinki is the head gardener, and Taehyung hasn’t talked with many of the others, but he knows this man’s name for sure. “Hoseok-ssi, right?”
“Yes.” Hoseok grins. “You can probably call me hyung, if you’d like.”
“You’re the friendly sort.”
“So are you, if I’ve heard correctly.”
Taehyung smiles, taking a seat on a stone bench near where the older man is standing. “You’re friends with Jimin, I know. Does he call you hyung?” Taehyung remembers Jimin calling him that, a long time ago. In the bathroom where Taehyung thought things might become different. That feels so long ago.
His smile becomes a little more brittle.
“He does,” Hoseok confirms.
“Then so will I.” Taehyung sits criss-cross on the bench, holding onto onto his ankles and trying to keep the chilly air from going up his billowy pants.
“Does Jiminie talk about me often?”
“I wouldn’t know.”
Hoseok smiles - or, not exactly smiles, but his face softens, his sharp edges smooth. “Ah.”
“Ah,” Taehyung repeats. He smiles. He doesn’t think it reaches his eyes. “You don’t sound surprised.”
“Jimin is only good at talking when the talking doesn’t matter.”
Taehyung doesn’t know what that means, but Hoseok says it with such certainty that he doesn’t feel the need to evaluate whether he agrees or not. “He’s just getting use to the new situation, I think.” He pulls his legs into his chest, resting his chin on his knee. “It’s really new. A lot to take in. Married life is hard.”
“Hard for you both, I would imagine.” Hoseok turns, refocusing on the plants he’s paid to care for, but taehyung would kind of like a friend right now more than he would like a gardener.
“Sit with me?” he asks, his voice small.
Hoseok pauses. “I could use a break,” he says after a moment, even though it’s early enough that he surely hasn’t been out here for that long. He groans as he sits down. “Old bones,” he comments when Taehyung looks at him.
“You can’t be that much older than I am, hyung,” Taehyung tells him with a smile.
The other man ignores him. “I’m old and wise.”
“Like an elephant.”
“Like an elephant.” Hoseok snorts. “Tell this old man your heart.”
“My heart is empty,” Taehyung says with a blank face. He shivers a little in the cold of the morning.
Hoseok runs a hand through his hair. “If anything, I’d say you have the opposite problem.” He crinkles his nose at the younger boy. “Your heart is too full.”
Taehyung keeps his face blank. “I’m overflowing with emotion.”
“That’s the spirit.”
He laughs, breaking into a grin. He hides it in the crook of his elbow and peers over his arm at his new friend. “I don’t know if it’s a problem,” he mumbles.
“What was that?”
“I don’t think it’s a problem,” Taehyung says a little louder, raising his head so the sound isn’t muffled. “It’s just inconvenient at the moment.”
Hoseok ruffles Taehyung’s hair familiarly, and maybe Taehyung should be offended but mostly he’s just comforted. “It’ll be a huge asset later, don’t you think?”
“I don’t think loving too much will ever be a problem,” Taehyung hums thoughtfully. “Some people are just harder to love.” Some people don’t give it back. His stomach drops. He hopes that isn’t the case.
Honestly, he’s probably overreacting, because things really are better than they were before. Jimin talks to him fairly regularly, usually initiates conversation, but Taehyung can’t help but feel a little jerky, a little like he’s walking on eggshells waiting for the next time Jimin wants to see him, and it’s exhausting to be ready and waiting all the time. But Jimin is easing into a new lifestyle, and Taehyung can stay ready and waiting until finally they both can breathe freely together.
It’ll even out.
Taehyung firmly believes that.
“It might not be a problem,” Hoseok is saying, and it pulls Taehyung out of his own head. “It might just make things tricky.”
“Things are always harder when you care about how they end up,” Hoseok tells him with a shrug. “Jimin knows a lot about that.”
Taehyung messes with the drawstring on his sweatshirt. “Jimin cares a lot?”
Hoseok laughs, more hot air than noise. “Jimin makes things harder.”
“I wish he would talk with me more.” Maybe he could help. Taehyung wants to help.
“Honestly, Taehyung-ah.” Hoseok pats him on the back, and it’s not exactly soothing but it reminds him that Hoseok is there. “You might have to talk first.”
That’s what Taehyung doesn’t want to hear. He hides his face in his arms again. “I don’t know if he’ll want to listen.”
Hoseok hears him, this time. “Maybe you’ll just have to make him.”
Home will be a little harder than Taehyung anticipated.
It’s more than just moving in boxes and unpacking clothes. It’s more than talking to the staff and filling out paperwork and setting up family pictures. It’s more than shoving his dirty socks under the bed.
His family has lived in the castle for generations. Decades of life seeping into the floorboards and the stone and the wood and mortar. He’s had enough time to get settled, to breakdown the cardboard boxes and mess up his room and make friends with the staff, but the house feels a little empty without the memories of sliding down the banisters to color the walls.
(He amends this almost immediately. Minho the security guard gives him tips.)
The mansion is more objectively homey than the castle Taehyung was raised in. But Taehyung was right in his first impression. It’s big. Too big for two teenage boys who are married and barely know each other. Too big for two teenage boys who are a mess and need to get to know each other.
Taehyung thinks about this while he sits in this kitchen, hopped up on the counter with a mug of hot chocolate in his hands.
"You're not supposed to be here, your Highness," the cook, Kyungsoo, tells him flatly, even as he makes him midnight pancakes.
"Hyung, please enable my late night snacking."
"This is a full meal."
"Depends on how many pancakes I eat."
"You're going to eat all of them," Kyungsoo says, unimpressed as he puts more pancakes on the plate by the stove. His eyebrows furrow. “Actually.” He takes his phone out of the pocket of his apron, setting the now empty pan on a different burner while he types something out with slow fingers. “You’re only eating half of them.”
“Aw, Hyung, are you going to join me?” He reaches his feet out toward the older man in a lazy mockery of reaching for a hug.
Kyungsoo looks at Taehyung’s sockfeet blankly. “No.” He pours more batter into the pan.
Taehyung sighs, falling backwards dramatically onto the island, remembering last minute to control himself so he doesn't slam his head onto the counter. It's too late, really. Taehyung should be asleep. He wants to be asleep.
But he can't.
He's been feeling bizarrely on-edge for the past week. He's never had a big move like this, but with all of the activity, it's not surprising that Taehyung is a little jittery. He's been dusting shelves with the maids, and planting flowers with the gardeners, and washing dishes with the cooks, and getting himself well-acquainted with the house that's his now.
Taehyung bangs his head lightly on the table
Jimin has been doing pretty much the same things as Taehyung, but he always seems to be doing them at a different time or in a different place and honestly, Taehyung wants to go back to the airplane where he got to talk to Jimin about catering a party with chips.
He had hoped that things would only improve, but even though that conversation felt like one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind, everything since then has been one big regression. One step forward, two steps back. And another two steps. And another.
For a while, Taehyung was able to convince himself that it was like a fever, and it would get worse before it got better, and Jimin would figure out how to tuck himself into Taehyung’s life and let Taehyung tuck himself into his and they would figure things out together.
The transitional period has long since passed.
It’s been months and things are only getting worse.
It’s frustrating. He just wants to talk to his husband. His husband who he is going to spend the rest of his life with. His husband that he can barely get to sit down and talk with him for ten minutes.
And it isn’t even like Jimin is rude or anything. When they do talk, Jimin is wonderful. Funny, quick, kind. He doesn’t seem angry, or hesitant, or anything. Taehyung feels so warm after those conversations, like he can see the two of them maybe having coffee together when they’re old and still being happy in each other's presence. Something soft and easy and settled.
Until Jimin leaves and that’s the last Taehyung sees of him for days.
They sleep in the same room, the same bed, but honestly Taehyung isn’t even sure if Jimin sleeps at all. Taehyung isn't an early sleeper, but every night he goes to bed alone, no husband to be seen, and every morning he wakes up with an empty, warm spot in the blankets which is the only real indicator that Jimin has even been there at all. He can only think of one time where Jimin was asleep before him and that was when Jimin had been up for a solid 48 hours beforehand. The only reason Taehyung even knows that Jimin was up for that long is because of the staff Jimin had spent some of his time with and the man working the security cameras. And no, Taehyung didn't ask anyone for Jimin's whereabouts. The security guard, an older man named Minwoo that Taehyung likes quite a lot, had apparently seen Jimin wandering the grounds well past midnight and gotten concerned. Which, frankly, Taehyung understands. Because that's concerning.
And Minwoo had asked Taehyung about it, because he is Jimin's husband, and should know something.
But he doesn't.
"Maybe you should ask him about it," Minwoo had said. "Next time you see him."
"I can almost guarantee you'll see him before I do," Taehyung had replied, smile stretched thin.
Taehyung feels a little bit like Sisyphus rolling the stone up that goddamn hill only to have in inevitably roll back down again.
Taehyung gives Kyungsoo a thumbs up and a groan.
A moment passes.
"Hyung, how do you make friends?"
Kyungsoo doesn't blink. "You talk to them."
"What if they don't want to talk to you?"
Taehyung sits up with a frown, leaning on his elbows. "We're talking purely hypotheticals."
Kyungsoo looks at him over his shoulder, unimpressed. "Okay." He snorts. "Hypothetically, you're married."
"And your hypothetical husband seems to be avoiding you."
"Meanwhile, he's making friends with all of the staff, and he seems fine talking to them."
Something acidic drops in Taehyung stomach. He picks at the sticker on a piece of fruit and doesn't look at Kyungsoo while he hums in agreement.
"So clearly he wants to talk."
"He just doesn't want to talk to me." He sounds too bitter, even in his own ears.
Kyungsoo looks at him.
"Hypothetically," Taehyung clarifies.
"Of course." Kyungsoo turns off the stove. He takes the pan and spatula over to the sink, pushing his sleeves up the elbow and busying himself with the dishes. The clink of the dishes against the sink and the smell of soap and maple from the syrup is calming. "You're young, you're in a weird situation. You're allowed to be upset about it."
Taehyung closes his eyes. Why can't he be asleep right now? "Hypothetically upset."
Kyungsoo throws the drying towel at him.
"I am basically your boss!" Taehyung squawks through the towel over his face.
Kyungsoo ignores him. "He isn't talking to you, and it's not because he doesn't want to talk. So, why?" He sets the pan and cooking utensils, now clean, down beside the sink and opens his hand towards Taehyung. Taehyung throws him the towel back, and Kyungsoo slowly starts to dry. "What's different about you?"
"I'm his hypothetical husband!" Taehyung pouts. "He should want to talk to me! We're going to be together forever."
With a sigh, Kyungsoo sets the towel over his shoulder and starts wiping down the counter with a sponge. "Young people make me tired."
"You're not that much older than me, Hyung," Taehyung sings. Levity feels a little heavy right now, but he tries his best. Kyungsoo sees straight through, but Taehyung soldiers on. "Are the pancakes done?" He doesn't want to talk about this anymore. He's making himself upset thinking about it.
Kyungsoo sighs again, and it feels like a judgement, because Taehyung isn't dealing with his problems, or something. "Do you want some milk, too?"
"No, I still have my hot chocolate," Taehyung answer, picking up his slightly cool mug again.
He turns around, looking for the voice in the doorway.
Jimin grins. "Hey there, stranger!" It's too loud and cheerful for this late at night. Taehyung can feel the bag under his eyes, and he can see the ones under Jimin's, but Jimin looks at ease. He thinks it might be a lie, but Taehyung might also be bitter. "Any hot chocolate left?" Jimin looks hopefully at Kyungsoo.
Kyungsoo puts two plates of pancakes down on the table, and Taehyung suddenly knows who Kyungsoo was texting earlier. He squints at the cook, betrayed.
The cook ignores him, as per usual.
“Actually, is there any coffee?” Jimin asks Kyungsoo hopefully.
Kyungsoo shoots him a look, pouring him a cup of hot chocolate. “It’s past midnight.”
“The night is young.”
He shoves the mug of hot chocolate at Jimin. “No.”
Jimin pouts, and Taehyung hates that it’s the cutest thing ever. He’s surprised Kyungsoo’s heart of stone doesn’t crack and melt.
Evidently, he’s been around Jimin enough to be immune. “Sit down and eat pancakes.”
“Yessir.” Jimin grins, holding his mug in both hands. He’s wearing a gray sweater and he looks really warm and soft and Taehyung could probably hug him if he wanted to.
He wants to.
If only for the reassurance.
He doesn’t know what Jimin would do, and he’s feeling a little fragile right now. He’s not sure what he would do if Jimin pushed him away.
Probably cry about it to Namjoon and his parents.
He’s already cried about it a little to Namjoon, but there is only so much that his brother can do from miles away. Honestly, Taehyung hasn’t told Namjoon just how much this whole thing is bothering him. This is his first time trying to deal with something on his own, and trying to figure out a marriage isn’t exactly easing into adulthood, but it would hurt to admit to his brother that he can’t even make his husband like him.
He isn’t even sure if he could actually say it out loud. It’s just kind of…
Taehyung watches Jimin happily pour syrup on his pancakes, watches Jimin warm his small hands on his cup of hot chocolate, and everything feels one step away from right, slightly askew like a picture frame on a wall, a few degrees from perfect, and Taehyung hates it.
“Jimin?” he asks after a moment. Jimin looks up at him, mouth full of pancake, completely at ease, and Taehyung is going to break that, but he thinks Jimin probably deserves it. “Do you not like me?”
There’s a moment where no one in the kitchen is sure what to do. Taehyung is staring at Jimin, determined to get an answer, but Jimin seems too shocked to say anything, not even chewing, just staring back.
“Alright, I’m leaving,” Kyungsoo says. “I’ll be back in an hour to clean up the plates if I don’t hear any yelling.”
And with that, he’s gone.
Jimin swallows his pancakes as the kitchen door swings shut behind Kyungsoo. “Why—” he chokes out, coughing a little into his hand. His voice sounds too forced to be cheerful. “Why would you think that? Of course, I like you. Why wouldn’t I?” He’s gone from staring to looking anywhere but at Taehyung.
If Jimin thinks that Taehyung isn’t going to talk about this to spare Jimin’s feelings, then he would probably be right. Except this has been happening for a couple of months and it’s not just Jimin’s feelings that need to be spared. Taehyung is two wrong steps away from exploding, but that’s not what he wants.
So he swallows it down. Or tries to. His words still come out harsh and bitter. “See, that’s what I’m trying to figure out.” He sets his jaw. It’s late and Taehyung is tired, more than just psychically, and usually him losing his filter means a soft, silly Taehyung, but right now he feels jagged around the edges. “Because I keep trying to think of why you would be avoiding me and I can’t figure out a reason. Except that you’re uncomfortable with me but I can’t…” He tightens his grip on his mug. “I can’t do anything about that if you don’t talk to me.” He chews on the inside of his cheek. “And you’ll talk to everyone else in this whole household but you won’t talk to me, your husband.”
Jimin runs a finger around the tip of his coffee cup. “We talked just yesterday,” he says confidently, but he’s still looking at the stove and not at Taehyung.
“You said hello to me in the hallway and introduced me to a staff member I already knew and then you left!” Taehyung huffs. Wheein had been really funny about it, teasing Jimin and slapping Taehyung on the shoulder like they were old friends (Taehyung had found that very comforting, honestly) but Jimin had turned bright red and left soon after.
Wheein had patted his shoulder kindly. “Fix your face, buddy,” she said, tickling his chin. “Never play poker.”
“I’m good at poker.” He’s just tired.
He’s tired now.
Jimin can tell exactly how upset (hurt, confused, frustrated) Taehyung is by the set of his jaw and the strain around his eyes, which might be why Jimin isn’t looking at him, because he seems to prefer avoidance to actually dealing with anything.
Taehyung can almost feel his blood boiling. “Look at me,” he snaps. Make him listen.
Jimin looks at him - oh, he looks at him, harsh and sharp and Taehyung doesn’t even care. “I don’t want to talk about this right now. I just want to eat pancakes.” His pancakes sit half-eaten on his plate, gripped tightly in one hand.
Taehyung’s own meal suddenly looks unappetizing. A cold, sticky mess. “You never want to talk about anything,” he says, jaw clenched and everything about him right now is sharp and pointed and Taehyung honestly doesn’t like that but there isn’t anything else he can do.
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Jimin tells him coldly. “I like you fine.”
Taehyung scoffs. “Clearly.”
The clatter of Jimin’s plate slamming down on the table is so loud. Jimin slides off of the counter. “I’m going to bed.”
“Are you sure?” Taehyung calls behind him, feet swinging, leaning back on his hands. “Then you’ll have to deal with me again later when I go to sleep, too. Twice in one day.”
Jimin actually hesitates at that. “It’s not that I don’t want to deal with you,” Jimin tells him, but he’s gone back to looking away, walking purposefully towards the door. Look over your shoulder, Taehyung prays to someone, maybe Jimin. Please, at least look back. “I told you, I like you.”
Taehyung’s heart shakes a little. “I liked you better when you told me you weren’t sure.” Even thinking about that night makes his heart shake a little more. “At least then, you weren’t lying to me.” He doesn’t bother snapping this time. He’s almost soft Taehyung again, but it still feels a little like he’s broken.
He’d thought it was okay, he’d thought they were okay, after that talk before. After the airplane. Taehyung thought that they had figured it out.
Maybe that just makes this worse.
He hears Jimin take a deep breath. When he looks, Jimin’s hand is on the door, knuckles white. He can’t see the other boy’s face, but something tells Taehyung it’s jagged, too, just like his own. “I’m not lying.”
“Then why.” It’s an accusation, a lazy one, halfway between a statement and a question.
Taehyung is willing to wait.
“We’re going to be together forever.”
Taehyung has said those words himself. To everyone. To Kyungsoo, to his parents, to Namjoon.
Hearing those words out of Jimin’s mouth sounds like they mean something different.
“Yeah,” Taehyung says, when it’s clear that Jimin isn’t going to continue without some prodding. It gets stuck in his throat.
“I…” Jimin takes another breath. His hand hasn’t moved from the handle, and Taehyung thinks that’s probably because Jimin would rather be anywhere but here. He’s shaking though, and Taehyung’s heart drops because this is the last thing he wants.
He just wants Jimin to talk to him.
“We’re going to be together forever,” Jimin says again with a sigh, more to himself than to anyone else, setting his forehead against the cool metal of the kitchen door.
Taehyung stares at the back of Jimin’s head. “I know.” He’s confused.
Jimin shakes his head. “You’re going to have to put up with me forever.”
“I want to.” It’s sincere.
“You don’t know me.”
“I’m trying.” Taehyung has to actively remind himself to stop holding his mug so hard. He’s going to snap the handle off.
“I…” Jimin groans in frustration, but now Taehyung thinks it might just be frustration at not knowing the right words to say. “I’m trying to…” It’s so quiet that when Jimin swallows nervously, it’s audible. Or maybe Taehyung is focusing so hard his giant ears are picking up whatever he’s focusing on and right now he’s focusing on Jimin.
“I’m trying not to embarrass myself!” Jimin chokes out, forehead still pressed to the door, and his face is so red Taehyung can see it from his spot on the island.
Taehyung blinks at him. “What?” he says dumbly.
Jimin finally releases his hold on the door and starts pulling at his bangs in distress. “We’re going to be together forever!” he almost yells, turning to look at Taehyung again.
“I know!” Taehyung almost yells back, alarmed.
This is a different Jimin than Taehyung has seen. Different than the one on their wedding night or in the bathroom or on the plane or the months before and after those events. His eyes look wild and he’s talking with his hands. “I’m trying to—” He cuts himself off with a loud whine.
“Stop groaning at me,” Taehyung says.
“I’m not groaning at you!” Jimin snaps back. “I’m groaning at me!”
“Don’t tell me what to do!” Jimin picks up the dish towel Kyungsoo was using and throws it.
“That’s the second time!” Taehyung complains, pulling the towel off of his face. “Stop!"
“You really don’t want to deal with me forever!”
Taehyung throws the towel back. “You don’t know what I want!”
The towel flops over Jimin’s shoulder, but Jimin barely notices. “I know me, though!”
“Well!” Taehyung’s face is red from yelling and he can’t think. “You don’t know me!”
“I’m trying not to ruin anything!”
Taehyung can’t even think of a response, he just looks at Jimin incredulously and gestures frantically around the room.
Jimin pouts. “I’m trying!”
“I woke Kyungsoo up to make me angsty midnight pancakes!” That would have been guaranteed death if Taehyung didn’t sign off on Kyungsoo’s paycheck. “What would you ruin?"
“I’m really lame!” Jimin snaps defensively. “And I’m not funny.”
“I think you’re funny!” Taehyung is still yelling. He takes it down a few decibels. “We talked about bad movies the other day and I laughed for hours.”
“I have to think of conversation topics ahead of time!” Jimin is pulling at his hair again.
“So I don’t embarrass myself!”
“Well, stop!” Taehyung growls.
It’s quiet again.
Jimin looks shocked, but he still waits, holding himself tightly around the stomach. His eyes are red and watery. He’s breathing hard. He’s looking. He’s looking and he might finally be seeing.
Taehyung takes a second to catch his breath.
“I don’t care about what you think about you,” he says after a moment. “I want to know what I think about you.”
Jimin opens and shuts his mouth once, twice. Third time. “Okay.”
Taehyung’s heart stops shaking.
That night, Jimin is there when Taehyung goes to sleep, and in the morning, Taehyung wakes up with Jimin close enough to touch, if he wanted to.
He won’t, because he’s not sure they’re there yet.
But he could.
If he wanted to.
Jimin still wanders the house, and Taehyung still wanders the house, but most days they decide to wander it together.
It never felt lonely exactly, because the household was big enough that Taehyung could always find someone to talk to, but it’s different to have someone with him. It’s nice.
Sometimes Jimin still tenses up, or gets really quiet, and Taehyung is content to let him think to himself for a little while until he’s ready to talk again. Taehyung is slowly learning Jimin’s tells, trying to figure out when to leave him alone and when to distract him with jokes and happiness and maybe even a little affection eventually, when Taehyung feels more secure offering it. The nice thing about Jimin is that he wears his heart on his sleeve, once you start looking at his seams.
Today, though, Taehyung is by himself. He just came from bothering Byulyi from maintenance to try and teach him how to fix things, but once he dropped a wrench and nearly broke his toe, she sent him away with a sigh and a smile. At least he tried.
He tried to sneak a cake from the kitchen, but Kyungsoo just slapped an apple in his hand and told him that sweets weren’t for breakfast.
“Aren’t I the head of this household?” Taehyung mutters good-naturedly. One of two heads. Like a mythical, two-headed beast. Regardless, Kyungsoo should let him steal cakes. He takes a bite of his apple.
Jimin was in their room this morning when Taehyung woke up, said a sleepy good morning as he wrestled into his jeans, but by the time Taehyung is in and out of the bathroom Jimin has disappeared, leaving a post-it note on the door saying that he was off to chat with a new friend and he would see Taehyung at lunch.
Taehyung assumes that this new friend is a part of the staff, which means that Jimin is surely in the house somewhere. So he isn’t surprised when he hears Jimin’s voice floating down through the hallway. His words, however, are a little shocking.
“..can’t marry you, Jungkookie,” Jimin is saying. Taehyung stops chewing immediately, trying to hear. The door to the little office is ajar, and Taehyung can see the tufts of Jimin’s hair through the crack. “I’m already married to Taehyung. We can’t be together.”
Taehyung pushes the door open. “What?”
Jimin looks over at him, sitting casually in a chair, the look on his face somewhere shocked and amused, which Taehyung thinks is a rather interesting face for someone to have when their husband walks in on them with another man.
It takes a while for Taehyung to pinpoint exactly who Jimin is talking to, purely because the other person is much closer to the ground than Taehyung expected.
Like, not even four feet off of the ground.
And he’s glaring at him like Taehyung has punched someone’s grandma.
“What?” Taehyung asks, confused.
Jimin is trying not to laugh in that way you do when kids are dealing with serious business, one small hand coming up to cover his mouth as he looks at his husband. Taehyung doesn’t know where to look, so he settles on the child.
It’s a boy, small, kind of scrawny, but his fists are clenched like his might try to punch Taehyung in the knee. He has a small, round face that’s doing it’s best to scowl but honestly Taehyung just wants to coo.
He does not coo.
“Taehyung,” Jimin says after a moment, doing his best to arrange his face neutrally but he’s still smiling. “This is Jungkook-ah. He’s the son of Heeyeon-noona, in the kitchens. Jungkookie?” Jimin makes very direct eye contact. “This is Taehyung. He’s my husband.”
Slowly, Jungkook’s eyes travel up and down Taehyung. Taehyung doesn’t know what to do with his hands so he awkwardly clasps them behind his back while the child gives him a once over
“Is it because he’s tall?” Jungkook asks after a second.
Taehyung snorts but tries to pass it off as a cough.
“No, Jungkookie, it’s not because he’s tall.”
“Because my mom says that I’m still growing,” Jungkook says, still eyeing Taehyung before going over to where Jimin is sitting. Jimin doesn’t hesitate to pick him up and put him in his lap. Jungkook taps on Jimin’s chest with chubby fingers to get his attention, even though he has it all anyway. Taehyung wants to clutch at his face, it’s too cute. “I’ll be taller than him one day, maybe! My mom says so!”
Jimin smiles and repeats himself. “No, Jungkookie, it’s not because he’s tall.”
“If I get taller than him, will you marry me instead?” he asks earnestly.
Taehyung is about to melt on the floor.
Jimin laughs, soft and cute, and ruffles the kid’s hair. “But then what would I do with Taehyung? This is his house!”
Taehyung wants to say no, Jimin, it’s our house. But Jungkook beats him to it.
“We can switch rooms,” he says. “He can sleep in my room and I can sleep in your room. I can clean up my room and everything.”
Taehyung cannot believe that this child is the most adorable thing he’s ever seen.
Jimin pets Jungkook’s hair. “I’m sorry, Jungkookie, but Taehyung and I are going to be together forever.”
Jimin is also the most adorable thing Taehyung has ever seen.
“But what if Taehyung is not a good dad?” Jungkook pauses. “What’s the word for a dad without a baby?”
“Husband,” Taehyung answers.
“Thank you,” Jungkook says politely. He turns back to Jimin. “What if Taehyung is a bad husband? You need a good husband.”
“But what if Taehyung is a good husband?” Jimin asks, trying to keep Jungkook from seeing the way Taehyung is physically biting his own fist to keep from freaking out over how cute this is. “We can’t get rid of him, because what if he’s really nice?”
Jungkook looks at Jimin with wide eyes, thinking. “But how do we know?”
Jimin smiles. “Why don’t you ask? What do you need to be a good husband?”
“If you’re going to interrogate me, shouldn’t this be official?” Taehyung asks suddenly, grinning.
“You’re going to ask me lots of questions right?”
“Yes!” Jungkook sets his jaw mulishly. He looks rather threatening for a 6-year-old.
Taehyung does his best to look cowed. “Why don’t you and Jimin come up with some questions to ask and I’ll go to your mom in the kitchens and get some food and we can discuss this over tea, since we’re adults and this is serious business?”
Jungkook frowns. “What kind of food?”
“That’s up to your mom but…” Taehyung taps his chin. “What’s your favorite thing?”
Jimin is startled. He scoffs and buries his face in Jungkook’s hair, trying to hide his smile.
Which is all very good, but Taehyung has a much harder time controlling himself because Jungkook is currently staring him down and if Taehyung laughs at him then all will be lost. “I'm afraid we can’t have Jimin for tea. What else do you like?”
Jungkook thinks very hard. “Apples? When they are in things.”
“Like those little pies Kyungsoo-hyung makes?”
Jungkook nods vigorously.
“Okay.” Taehyung takes out his phone. “I will go and see if I can sneak away some of those little pies while you and Jimin think of some things, okay?” He shoots a text to a few people to commandeer some help. “Don't miss me too much.”
He doesn't think that will be an issue because Jungkook is already asking Jimin for a pencil and paper.
Taehyung grins on his way out the door.
Taehyung doesn't even need to steal any pies, because Jungkook’s mom is in the kitchen when he gets there, and happily gives away quite a few.
“He’s been good,” Heeyeon tells him, setting some pies artfully on a tray. “He can have sweets before lunch every once in awhile. I can't say the same for you.”
“Noona,” Taehyung whines, grinning.
Heeyeon sets down another pie. “It's okay. I won't tell your mother.”
There ends up being more food than anticipated, so Taehyung has Baekhyun and Jongdae from the waitstaff help him carry the many trays of goodies to where Jimin and Jungkook are waiting. Jungkook is sitting in Jimin’s lap at the table, a stack of flashcards in front of him and Jimin’s chin is resting on Jungkook’s head, watching at the little kid’s chubby hands shuffle and sort through the cards.
Baekhyun and Jongdae are taking this tea party arguably more seriously than their actual job, masterfully setting the table, setting down a vase and dramatically setting flowers in it (the flowers are a little beat up, and Taehyung strongly suspects that Jongdae just grabbed a handful from the garden while Taehyung and Baekhyun made a second trip). They’re even fussing over Jungkook, making sure he’s comfortable and the table is perfect for him, filling his plate, asking if the color of the napkin is okay, and Jungkook is positively beaming under all of the attention.
By the time Taehyung sits down in his spot, Jungkook already has pie filling on his fingers.
Jimin picks up the napkin to wipe them off but Jungkook is already reaching for the note cards. “Taehyung!” he starts.
“Hyung,” Jimin gently corrects.
Taehyung grins as he takes a sip of his tea.
“Okay, Taehyung-hyung,” Jungkook starts again, looking at his first index card. “Can you make good macaroni and cheese?”
He has to think for a second. “I think I make the second best mac and cheese.”
“Who makes the best?”
“I don’t know.”
“Okay.” Jungkook switches cards. “Are you good at scaring the monsters out from under the bed?”
“Hmm.” Taehyung taps his chin. “How big is the monster?”
Jungkook thinks. “Really big.”
“Does it have claws?”
“Probably. All monsters have claws.”
“Good point.” Taehyung bites his lip. “I think I’d be a very good monster scarer,” he decides finally. “But you have to be careful with monster scaring because sometimes they’re nice.”
Jungkook doesn’t look like he believes Taehyung, but he looks up at Jimin behind him. Jimin nods seriously and Jungkook goes on to the next flash card. “Do you like Iron Man?”
In all honestly, Taehyung prefers Deadpool, but he likes Iron Man well enough.
“Good husbands like Iron Man?” Jimin asks curiously, before Taehyung can reply.
“Yes,” Jungkook answers. He looks at Jimin pointedly. “I like Iron Man.”
“Do you?” says Jimin, raising his eyebrows. “Does that mean you’re a good husband?”
Jungkook shrugs dramatically, head jutting forward, “Probably.”
Taehyung clamps a hand over his mouth because this child is too much for him and he wants to hug him right now. He takes a bite of his mini pie instead. “I like Iron Man, too,” Taehyung says finally, after he’s managed to collect himself.
Jimin looks at him knowingly, laughing quietly above Jungkook’s head.
“Of course, you do,” Jungkook says wisely. “Everyone likes Iron Man.” Next card. “Do you share your toys?”
“Always.” Taehyung leans forward so Jungkook knows he’s serious. “Just like my mother taught me.”
“Good. Sharing is caring,” Jungkook recites.
They nod at each other.
Jimin’s face turns a little red from holding his smile in. He looks like he wants to scream but instead he buries his face in his shoulder.
Jungkook flips his card one last time and stares at it. “Jimin-hyung?”
“Did we have any more questions?”
Jimin blinks, trying to remember. “Can he reach the cookie jar?”
“Oh, right.” Jungkook switches cards again, and Taehyung is almost 100% sure that the cards are blank. “Can you reach the cookie jar?”
“There’s never been a cookie jar I can’t get to.” Taehyung is nailing this interview.
Carefully, Jungkook sets his flashcards down on the table, paper sticky with apple pie filling. “What about hugs?”
“Do you give good hugs?” Jungkook crosses his arms. “Jimin-hyung likes my hugs the best.”
Jimin nods. “It’s true.”
“I think I give pretty good hugs,” Taehyung says defensively.
“I guess the two of you will have to have a Hug-Off.”
“Clearly.” He looks at Jungkook. “Now we just have to hug each other.”
“No!” Jungkook says, clambering out of Jimin’s lap. “We both have to hug Jimin-hyung and then Jimin-hyung decides.”
“Wha—” Taehyung isn’t sure that he and Jimin have even...really hugged before? Weird. They should fix that. Taehyung wants to hug Jimin a lot, suddenly.
Jimin is his husband, so surely they should.
Jungkook runs around the table and pulls Taehyung up out of his chair. “You go first,” he says, physically pushing Taehyung towards where Jimin sits awkwardly in his chair. He pulls Jimin up, too. “And then I go second because my hugs are the best.”
“Of course,” Taehyung says warmly. He opens up his arms.
Jungkook is not impressed. “You have to give good hugs or Jimin will not like you,” he warns. “Do you want me to show you?”
“You can show him after, Jungkookie, so he sees how it’s done,” Jimin says lightly, stepping out from around the table and opening his arms, too. “Let’s go, Husband.”
“Okay, Husband.” He wraps his arms around Jimin's shoulders.
The way that Jimin slots into Taehyung’s arms is surprisingly nice. Or, not surprising, because Jimin has always looked like he would give really good hugs, in Taehyung’s opinion, but Taehyung expected there to be more elbows, more space between them. But Jimin is pressed up against his chest and Jimin’s head is resting on his shoulder. Taehyung can’t think of a single moment where they’ve been closer.
Jimin’s arms are wrapped tightly around Taehyung’s waist, strong and firm. Taehyung tries to remember if he’s ever paid enough attention to Jimin when his shirt is off. Probably not. They’re still at the point where the second skin shows, eyes are averted, but maybe Taehyung needs to start paying more attention because those feel like really nice biceps and they probably need to be properly appreciated.
But it’s not the biceps that he focuses on, or the way Jimin sighs into him and he can feel the breath on his shoulder, but the way that Jimin is present and solid and there. Taehyung squeezes tightly, resting his cheek on Jimin’s head, and everything feels soft. Together, Taehyung thinks they could melt into the floor.
Right when Taehyung feels Jimin start to pull away (for some reason, Taehyung really wants to see the look on Jimin’s face), Jimin stutters forward, falling into Taehyung’s chest again with a little oof.
He looks down over Jimin’s shoulder and sees a head of hair, small and close to the ground, and there is Jungkook clinging to the back of Jimin’s legs.
“My turn,” he says. He looks up at Taehyung. “You were taking too long.”
“Of course, Jungkook-ah.” Jimin’s voice is a little shaky as he twists around in Taehyung’s arms. His ears look a little red. “Your turn.”
It’s only when Jimin is trying to turn all the way around in Jungkook’s grasp that Taehyung realizes he still hasn’t let go. He hastily steps aside.
Jimin bends down and lets Jungkook throw his arms around his neck. Taehyung can see how tightly Jungkook squeezes. “You know, I have to say Jungkook’s are better,” he says after a moment of deliberating, but when he turns back around his cheeks are a little pink.
“I accept defeat.” Taehyung bows his head.
“Taehyung also gives good hugs though, Jungkookie,” Jimin says thoughtfully, picking Jungkook up. “Do you think I can keep him? Is he a good husband?”
Jungkook thinks long and hard, pulling on his bottom lip. “I think you can keep him but only if you like him.”
“I do like him,” Jimin says seriously.
Taehyung smiles. “Are you sure?”
Jimin smiles back. “I’m sure.”
They’re out in the garden when it happens.
“It” being the torrential downpour that drowns the hydrangeas.
“What.” Jimin pulls his sopping t-shirt away from his skin. “The fuck.”
Taehyung shakes out his hair, spraying water everywhere in a way that makes Wheein frown at him flatly while she hands them towels. “Mother Nature wins again.”
“Mother Nature can suck my dick,” Jimin says primly, running the towel over his hair and then throwing it around his neck.
“Does that count as adultery?” Taehyung asks with a snort, following Jimin on their way to their room.
“What?” Jimin looks over his shoulder. “If I get oral from a concept?”
“Adultery is also a concept.”
“I forget that you and Namjoon-hyung are brothers and then you say something annoying and suddenly I remember.”
Taehyung throws his towel at the back of Jimin’s head. “He’s your brother now, too.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t inherent existential crises so it’s fine.” He turns around and waits for Taehyung to catch up to him. They continue walking together. “Did you two get that from your mother or your father?”
“Grandfather,” Taehyung answers, opening the door for Jimin. “It skipped a generation.”
“Lucky you.” Taehyung puts the towel over his head. “You get to deal with all of this.” He makes a seductive gesture towards his body.
Jimin looks at him, unimpressed, and makes his way to the bathroom. “Lucky me.”
And then he takes his shirt off.
And Taehyung makes sure to look this time because the Bicep Revelation was a real thing and also it’s right there and wow, Taehyung really should have looked earlier.
Jimin is 18 and small and soft and squishy, but his arms and his chest are well-defined and his waist is trim and when he turns around to wring his shirt out in the bathtub his back muscles roll under smooth skin and Taehyung kind of wants to touch but he’s not going to do that, don’t worry.
He wants to.
But he won’t.
That would probably definitely to be weird.
He’s still a little sad when Jimin puts his shirt back on but it’s okay, it’s probably fine, he doesn’t have to think about it that much.
His eyes are a little glazed when he looks up to find Jimin looking at him and realized Jimin asked him something. “What?”
“Why are you still in wet clothes?” Jimin repeats. “Kyungsoo-hyung won’t let you into his kitchen if you’re dripping and that’s the only way you’re getting hot chocolate.”
“I’m Kyungsoo-hyung’s boss.”
“No one is Kyungsoo-hyung’s boss, he is the boss.” Jimin throws a pair of pajama pants at his husband. “Come on, there is liquid chocolate to be had.”
“Excuse me, isn’t it always me waiting for you?” Taehyung grumbles, peeling his shirt off and hanging it over the bed’s headboard. He pulls on a fresh t-shirt and turns around. If Jimin’s face is a little pink it probably has nothing to do with Taehyung.
As the rain started Kyungsoo started making the hot chocolate, so it’s not long before they have hot mugs in their hands and they’re sitting inside by a window watching the rain. They’re sitting on the window seat, sinking into the cushions, legs almost tangled together but not quite there.
Taehyung sighs. “Don’t you think it’s kind of romantic?”
“The sky opening up and shitting on you?”
He laughs. “I guess you don’t.”
Jimin pauses a moment and brings his mug up to his lips. “I do.” He takes a sip, looking out the window.
Taehyung leans back against the wall with a happy sigh, the kind that settles deep in your chest and warms up from the inside. He cradles his mug in both hands. “On a scale of one to ten, how romantic?"
“Getting caught in the rain, or rain in general?”
Jimin taps his thumb against the handle. “Rain in general, like a 7?”
Taehyung grins. “Getting caught in the rain?”
“If I say I think it’s an 8.5, does that mean we just had a romantic moment?”
“Then it’s a sold 2.7,” Jimin answers with an innocent smile. “And you can’t hit me because I’ll spill hot chocolate all over the pillow and I know you love this pillow.”
“Curses,” Taehyung says happily. “Married people don’t have romantic moments anyway.”
Jimin snorts. “I don’t think it’s marriage so much as children.”
“We should find a child so that we’re safe.”
Jimin pretends like he’s going to kick Taehyung in the shin, bare foot coming up, toes curling threateningly, and Taehyung would tickle the bottom of it if he didn’t know that Jimin would scream and freak out and Jimin is right, Taehyung does love that pillow.
By the time Jimin settles back down, he’s soft again, melting against the wall. “Don’t think we could be trusted with a child right now.”
“You do a good job with Jungkook.”
“So do you,” Jimin says quietly, taking another drink and pulling his sleeves down over his palms to try and warm himself up.
“I just don’t want to change any diapers.”
Jimin grimaces. “Agreed.” He pauses, looking out the window. “We should get a fake child.”
“Like what, get one of those babies you use for those high school projects or…?” Taehyung frowns. “Because I’m not game for that. I hated that project.”
“Nope,” Jimin says, popping the p and taking a drink. His eyes shift from the window to Taehyung. “How do you feel about dogs?”
Taehyung lights up. “I love dogs.”
“So much.” Taehyung flops his arm over his eyes dramatically. “Jiminie, I love dogs so much.”
“Do you love that dog?”
Taehyung stops his dramatics long enough to look confused. “Which dog?” There aren’t any dogs in the house. Taehyung knows because he asked all of the staff. Kyungsoo does, however, have a cat who loves to be cuddled but hates to be moved. Taehyung loves that cat too.
Jimin taps a chubby finger against the glass. “That dog.”
“Oh,” Taehyung says softly, peering out into the rain. “That dog.”
Outside of their window, camouflaged by gray skies and rain, is a dog. Sitting. Just sitting. Looking at the them, merely a few feet away, ears it hasn’t grown into yet, head cocked to the side. The house is gated pretty firmly, and Taehyung has no idea how this dog got in, but he thinks that the dog should be rewarded for it’s hard work.
A fake child.
Their fake child.
“I think I love that dog.”
Jimin brings his knees up to his chest, resting his chin on the them and smiling. “I think I love that dog, too.”
Chapter 2: i felt like i had the whole world
Seems like everyone is falling in love.
ellie! thank you for being a great beta and holding my hand always
A NOTE: there is a time skip! i did my best to make it clear in the writing, but between each chapter there is a significant amount of time that's passed. let me know if this is too confusing but i think it should be clear :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It’s a complaint, albeit a vague one, but the staff is used to Taehyung foregoing actual greetings.
Minseok looks up from his sandwich. “I thought his name was Prince Phillip,” he says, raising an eyebrow. “His title was impressed upon me at great length.”
Taehyung sighs and flops into the seat across from the security guard. His shirt and pants are drenched down the front and there’s soap suds in his hair. “Only when he’s good. When he’s been bad his title is rescinded. He becomes The Dog Formerly Known as Prince.”
Minseok smooths the napkin down on the table, rubbing crumbs off of his fingers, unfazed. “How long did it take you to come up with that joke?”
“Like, a year. At least.”
He snorts. “What did Phillip do this time?”
“We were trying to give him a bath and he ran away and got water and soap literally all over the house. I thought Seungkwanie was going to explode when he saw the mess.” Taehyung holds his head in his hands. “This happens every time we’ve tried to give him a bath. He nevers learns.”
“Maybe you should just take away his title permanently?” Minseok offers. He’s still dressed in his security uniform, but he has a little mustard on the corner of his mouth and he looks extremely soft and unthreatening. Taehyung wants to pat his cheeks but he doesn’t, because he knows the older man is slightly terrifying on the inside.
“He’s still a puppy,” Taehyung answers. “How could we not forgive him?”
“Maybe we should ask Seungkwan,” Jimin chirps from the doorway of the breakroom.
“Jimin!” Taehyung sings, trying to twist around in his chair. “How are you?”
“As good as I was the last time you saw me,” Jimin answers with a smirk.
Taehyung pouts. “That was so long ago.” This morning.
Jimin pats Taehyung on the head. “I had some business to attend to.”
“Did that business include Jungkook demolishing you in Mario Kart, or?”
He laughs. It’s still a nice sound, even though Taehyung has heard it a million times. “This time, no.”
“We should have Namjoon-hyung come and visit and bring his new advisor along,” says Taehyung, grinning up at his husband. Jimin runs his short fingers through Taehyung’s hair as he listens. “I hear that Seokjin-ssi loves Mario more than life.”
Jimin tugs gently, chastising. “I’m not sure how Kim Seokjin-ssi feels about crushing the hopes and dreams of an 8-year-old but by all means, invite him.” His fingers ease down Taehyung’s scalp and settle to scratch at the short hairs on Taehyung’s neck. “Maybe not right now, though. We have other guests to attend to.”
Taehyung turns his head to look up at him, hand coming back to hold Jimin’s so that he doesn’t stop scratching because Taehyung loves it when he does that. “Who? Are my parents visiting again?”
“Not your guests,” Jimin says simply. “My guest.”
“You have guests?” Taehyung asks excitedly. “Who are they?”
He knows that name. “The grumpy one?”
Jimin smiles. “Yeah, the grumpy one.”
Taehyung is excited to meet him. “Did we know he was coming?”
“I don’t think so.” Jimin nibbles on his bottom lip. “I might have forgotten, but—”
“But!” Jimin uses his free hand to cover Taehyung’s mouth. “I’m pretty sure this is a last minute thing.” He playfully slaps Taehyung’s cheek, gently, with a cupped hand. He started wearing rings recently and the metal is cool on Taehyung’s skin. Taehyung leans into the touch just a little bit. “Sometimes he needs to get away from home, you know?”
Taehyung hums in understanding. “Just him?”
“Probably. If his mother knew he was coming I would have heard about it before now so I’m sure he snuck out.”
“Should I call Junmyeon and get him to set up an extra room?” Minseok asks, wiping the corner of his mouth.
“No, I already told Junmyeon-hyung about our guest.”
Taehyung takes out his phone. “I’ll text Soo-hyung and tell him to make an extra plate for dinner.” He looks up at his husband, thumb paused on his phone screen. “Do you think Yoongi-ssi will be hungry when he gets here?”
“You can probably call him hyung,” Jimin tells him softly. “My friends are your friends.”
“Yoongi-ssi is yours, he can’t be mine, too,” Taehyung sings teasingly.
“You’re also mine.” Jimin grins, tickling Taehyung’s chin. “So what I say, goes.”
“Yessir,” Taehyung answers, leaning his head straight back to rest on Jimin’s stomach. “Whatever you say.”
Minseok looks at them, unimpressed. “You guys are gross.” He plops his sandwich down on the table in mock disgust.
“Minseok-hyung, how are things with you and the barista in town?” Jimin asks innocently, batting his eyelashes. “Did he draw a heart in your coffee again? Write a pick-up line on your cup?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Minseok says casually, turning his half-empty coffee cup around so that the writing on the side is hidden from them, but Taehyung is almost certain he sees a heart drawn on it. Maybe even a smiley face.
He snickers into his hand. He knows the exact expression on Jimin’s face behind him.
Jimin pats Taehyung’s chest and grimaces. “Your shirt’s all wet. Go change.”
“I don’t want to.”
“What happened to ‘whatever I say?’” Jimin asks, raising an eyebrow.
“I forgot about it as soon as you wanted me to move.”
“I’m not getting you a shirt.”
Taehyung opens his mouth.
“I will tell the rest of the staff not to get you a shirt, also.”
Snaps it shut. Frowns. Jimin knows him too well. “Just give me your hoodie.” He tugs at the extra material around Jimin’s hand, a faded dark green with a little hole in the elbow. Taehyung pokes his finger through it absently. “It’s mine anyway.”
Jimin purses his lips. “What if I get cold?”
“That’s what hugs are for.” He gets a swat on the back of the head for that one but it’s okay because he can already tell that Jimin is going to cave.
At this point, Jimin barely even puts up a fight. “Fine.”
Minseok rolls his eyes fondly.
“I don’t know who is more whipped, honestly,” Wheein stage whispers as she passes by, coming in quickly to steal one of Minseok’s grapes.
“The whipping is mutual,” Taehyung says matter of factly as he pulls the hoodie on.
Jimin snorts, helping Taehyung find the head hole when he gets tangled up. “Kinky.”
Minseok grimaces. “Maybe not.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Wheein chirps, stealing more grapes.
Neither Taehyung nor Jimin hear her.
“Come on.” Jimin pulls Taehyung up by the arm. “We have to go get ready.”
Taehyung whines. “What did I just say about moving?”
Jimin leans down and sings in his ear. “I will tell Jungkook where you keep your Oreo stash.”
It takes a second for that to process. “You wouldn’t.”
Taehyung thinks about it. “You would.” He gets up.
What Jimin says, goes.
Meeting Min Yoongi goes much more smoothly than Taehyung anticipated.
He’s heard plenty of stories, but he pictured...something else.
Min Yoongi is an earl of infamy, mostly for his more reserved nature. His mother calls him a recluse. Min Yoongi also calls himself a recluse. Taehyung doesn’t mind if he’s reclusive because he’s friends with Jimin and that means Taehyung likes him.
He’s pleasantly surprised when he finds out that Yoongi is genuinely likable even without the shield of Jimin’s friendship.
“He doesn’t look like Grumpy Cat at all,” Taehyung says sweetly when Min Yoongi walks up the front lawn. The car he’s traveling is beat up and ugly, probably rented shortly after his plane landed, and he tosses the keys at Soonyoung the valet with a short nod and generous tip.
“Tell him that,” Jimin says, just a sweet. “See what happens.”
“Will he punch me?”
“Nope.” Jimin waves at his friend. “He’ll get embarrassed and not talk to you for the entirety of his stay.”
“Ah.” Taehyung smiles as Yoongi walks up. “I’ll avoid that then.”
“At least for now.” Jimin grins at him for a moment, maybe a heartbeat, before launching himself at his friend. “Min Yoongi!”
“Hyung!” Yoongi corrects, opening his arms as Jimin flies down the stairs and jumps on top of him.
“No need to call me hyung,” Jimin answers cheekily.
Yoongi swats the back of Jimin’s head, but Taehyung doesn’t miss the way that Yoongi hugs Jimin tightly before that. Taehyung warms up to him immediately.
“Oh, Yoongi-hyung,” Jimin says, quickly turning around to where Taehyung is slowly walking down the front steps. “This is Taehyung, the husband.”
“I’m Taehyung, the husband,” Taehyung greets. He holds out his hand.
Yoongi stares at it. His hair is dyed blond, the kind of blond that catches the light and makes sunspots in Taehyung’s eyes, but his expression and carriage feels more muted. He looks from Taehyung’s hand to his face and back down again. “You look like a hugger.”
Taehyung blinks. “I am a hugger.”
Begrudgingly, Yoongi opens his arms.
Taehyung loves Min Yoongi immediately.
Yoongi settles into their household easily, with the sort of quiet charisma only found in people who are careful with their words but not with their love.
The staff loves him. Taehyung sees Yoongi in the kitchen peeling potatoes with Kyungsoo, sees him meet Jungkook and Heeyeon for the first time, sees him teach Jungkook how to play with Prince Phillip using a laser pointer, sees him play basketball with Minho the security guard right before the sun goes down and Minho has go back to work his shift.
Taehyung rarely sees Yoongi anywhere near his bedroom.
It's not that Yoongi doesn't sleep, because he does. But rarely in his own bed and rarely at night. Taehyung has seen the older man curled up on couches and chairs and, one time, on the floor behind a fake ficus, leaning back against the wall with his eyes closed and his breathing even.
It seems like the only time when Yoongi doesn’t sleep is when the sun is down and the castle is quiet and everything is settled except for the mice and, apparently, Min Yoongi.
Taehyung's starting to wonder if wandering around at night is something carefully cultivated into people where Jimin is from. Is he going to have to break Yoongi of that habit, too?
Of course, Taehyung also has a habit of wandering, but at least he only wanders every once in awhile.
Yoongi doesn’t look surprised when Taehyung pushes open the kitchen door, simply looks up from where he’s stirring his coffee absently. “Good morning.”
It’s 4 o’ clock.
It seems a little early for coffee.
“Trouble staying awake?” Taehyung asks cheekily, taking his usual spot on the counter of the island.
The clink of the spoon against the ceramic mug is rhythmic and a little comforting, the only other sound being the buzz of the refrigerator and the gravel of Yoongi’s voice as he says flatly, “I need this. Don’t take this from me.” But then he smiles, tapping the spoon once, twice against the rim and setting it down in the sink. “I’m not sleeping anymore tonight. Might as well.”
Sounds familiar. Sometimes you just have to accept that sleep isn’t coming. “Did you learn that from Jimin?”
Yoongi snorts. Takes a sip. “Jimin learned that from me.” He frowns a little. “It’s probably not a good habit.”
“Don’t worry, I give him decaf.” Taehyung grins.
“Do you?” Yoongi says flatly, almost fondly, still not surprised, never surprised. “How is Jimin?” He’s a lot more talkative in the early morning.
Taehyung smiles softly. “He’s good. Asleep right now. No midnight excursions for him.”
“I am one with this house,” Taehyung says seriously. “I can sense disturbances. Like wandering guests.”
“In that case, I’m surprised this is the first time we’ve met like this.”
He shrugs. “It’s finicky. Nobody’s perfect.”
“Do you like being married to him?”
Taehyung isn’t sure whether Yoongi is asking the coffee or not, because Yoongi seems very focused on it. Taehyung blinks. “Jimin?” They’re talking about Jimin, right?
Yoongi raises an eyebrow and looks up at him. How many other husbands do you have?
Taehyung flushes. “It’s early and that was a sudden change of topic. I swear I only have two husbands.”
“Jimin and Kyungsoo-hyung’s cooking. But Jimin and I have a fake child so he takes precedent.” His grin melts into something softer. “I like being married to Jimin a lot.”
“You don’t regret it?”
“Not once.” Taehyung doesn’t hesitate. “Not one single day.”
Yoongi looks at Taehyung over the lip of his mug. “Not even at the beginning?”
Taehyung watches him carefully as he takes a drink. Watches Yoongi set his coffee back down on the counter and then watches some more. “No,” he answers. “Not even then.” One beat. Two beats. Watching. “Why do you ask?”
It takes a second for Yoongi to think about what he’s going to say. “He...talked to me a lot, during that time.” He pauses again. “Probably more than his family.”
“It was a hard transition.”
“For both of you.”
Taehyung watches Yoongi, takes a slow, deep breath. “Yeah.” Smiles softly. “For both of us.”
Yoongi is leaning against the counter opposite Taehyung, and Taehyung doesn’t know him that well but he can see a little discomfort in the crease of his forehead and the corners of his mouth. Just a hint, but Taehyung knows that the only reason Yoongi is talking about this at all is because he cares.
“He was.” Yoongi takes a deep breath, letting his head loll back on his shoulders. “He was really nervous about getting married.”
“Did he tell you?”
Taehyung thinks about that night, in the kitchen, that final shift before things clicked into place. “Yeah, he told me.”
Yoongi sighs heavily, running a hand through his hair. “He’s delicate.”
“He almost punched me in the jaw over dumplings.”
“That sounds like him,” Yoongi admits. “But his…” He frowns. “Insides.”
“His insides are delicate?”
Yoongi scowls at the ceiling. “Yes.”
Taehyung smiles to himself. “Yeah, I know.”
“So you need to be nice to him.”
“I will protect his delicate insides with my life.” He holds up two fingers. “Scout’s honor.”
Yoongi looks at him closely.
Taehyung wants to laugh but feels like he should be holding his breath.
“Good.” His fingers tap incessant rhythms on the counter, but otherwise he tries to look very nonchalant.
A smile spreads slowly across Taehyung’s face. He can feel it growing. Yoongi is looking pointedly everywhere but Taehyung, and Taehyung is suddenly so fond.
“Jimin is…” Yoongi starts saying to the wall, but Taehyung knows it’s for him. “Jimin is lucky. To have married you.”
“You barely know me, Yoongi-hyung.” Taehyung cocks his head to the side, grinning ear to ear.
“Jimin—” Yoongi stops himself.
Taehyung’s eyebrows go up, up, up into his hairline. “Jimin what?”
Yoongi twists his mouth and takes a sour drink from his mug.
“Yoongi-hyung,” he whines.
Taehyung thinks he might be hopelessly endeared.
A few days later, Taehyung finds Jimin hiding in a bush.
It’s not early, around mid morning, when Taehyung decides to go for a walk in the garden, and it is only about thirty minutes after that decision when he runs into Jimin, and split seconds after he runs into Jimin when Jimin fists a hand in his shirt and pulls Taehyung down into the bush with him.
“Good morning?” Taehyung tries, but Jimin slaps a hand over his mouth, frantically shushing him.
Jimin’s arms are wrapped around Taehyung’s chest, holding him securely like he’s afraid Taehyung is going to stand up and reveal their position.
Taehyung wants to lick Jimin’s hand like a 10-year-old to make him let go but he’s an adult now, nearly 20. Nearly 20-year-olds don’t do that sort of immature thing. So he settles for shoving a finger in Jimin’s armpit instead.
Jimin curses quietly, flinching away.
Taehyung is free. “Are you and Jungkook playing Hide and Seek again?” is the first thing he asks.
“No,” Jimin answers simply.
Once again, Jimin shushes him, holding a finger to his mouth and then slowly pointing out towards the garden clearing.
“Is that…” Yoongi?
Jimin breaks into a grin.
Hoseok is crouched down on the path, covered in dirt and looking like sunshine, holding some weeds he’d been pulling loosely in his hand. He’s not exactly beaming, his smile is somehow softer and sharper at the same time, but he’s glowing.
Yoongi is glowing a little, too.
He’s leaning back against one of the big trees, ignoring the bench completely like he’d stopped by expecting a quick chat and quickly got so distracted he didn’t even think about moving. His hands are in his pockets and his shoulders are slumped down the way they are when he’s completely at ease. His eyes are warm.
Taehyung feels like his heart is about to burst. “How long has this been going on?”
“About fifteen minutes.”
He squints. “Have they not met before?”
Jimin shakes his head. “This is the first time,” he whispers, trying to hide his grin behind his hand. “Tae, Yoongi-hyung doesn’t act like that with anyone. Not within fifteen minutes of meeting them.” He’s so excited. Taehyung can practically see him vibrating.
Taehyung smiles at him. “Should we get them together?”
Across the clearing, Hoseok says something that makes Yoongi hide a smile in his shoulder. If they were closer, Taehyung is pretty sure Yoongi’s entire face would be pink.
“I think they’re doing that just fine on their own,” Jimin says with a happy sigh.
“It’s like you’re watching a romcom,” Taehyung teases.
Jimin swats at his hand with a pout. “Don’t ruin this for me.” He flicks Taehyung in the shoulder. “Yoongi-hyung deserves this.”
Taehyung snorts. “Deserves being spied on?”
“Deserves being happy!” Jimin insists, a little too loudly. His eyes widen.
They both look over at the other couple, but neither of the other two appear to have heard him.
Jimin releases a held breath. “Taehyung, they’re gonna get married.”
“Jimin, they just met.”
“Nope, I’m calling it.” He shoots Taehyung a serious look, but his eyes are dancing. “Place your bets, bitch. I say it’s true love.”
“You’re such a romantic,” Taehyung says fondly.
Jimin scoffs. “And you’re not?”
That’s fair. Taehyung is probably the more romantic one, between the two of them, but every once in awhile Jimin has his moments. Jimin knows both Yoongi and Hoseok better than Taehyung does, and if Jimin says they’re getting married, then Taehyung is willing to wait and see.
When they look back out, Hoseok has stood up. He's throwing the weeds in his hand into the big bag he has off to the side. He walks towards Yoongi, pulling off his gloves and putting them in his pocket. He bows politely.
Taehyung sees Yoongi raise a sarcastic eyebrow, probably saying something about how Hoseok should have bowed earlier, and Hoseok says something brightly back to him, and Taehyung doesn’t want to bet against Jimin, honestly.
It could be true love.
Taehyung wants it to be true love.
The next day, Jimin wants to go to town.
More specifically, he wants the four of them to go to town. Jimin, Taehyung, Yoongi, and Hoseok.
And a bodyguard or two.
They’re all sitting around Jimin and Taehyung’s room when it’s first brought up. “Hyung, I want to see the town!”
“You’ve lived here for over two years, Jimin-ah.” Yoongi sounds bored, writing things down in a notebook with one hand and pouring sugar in his coffee with the other. He’s sitting at a small table by the window, brought in specifically for him, because the desk that Taehyung uses is covered in all sorts of shit and the only other flat surface in the near vicinity is the dresser, which is too high to be used comfortably.
“It’s a new place everyday, hyung,” Jimin says dramatically, pouting at Yoongi who is resolutely ignoring him.
“Now who is Namjoon-hyung rubbing off on,” mutters Taehyung, not surprised when Jimin kicks him in the shin but he still curses under his breath.
“We can ask Hoseok-hyung to come with us,” Jimin sings.
Yoongi huffs, but Taehyung sees him blushing. “Why?”
“Don’t you want to spend more time with him?” Jimin asks casually, turning the mirror to adjust the beanie he’s shoving on his head to hide his hair.
“Hoseok-hyung barely ever goes to town,” Taehyung notes.
Yoongi squints at him. “Et tu, Brute?”
“Hyung,” Jimin whines, and when Jimin whines, he whines to win. Taehyung can already see the defeat in Yoongi’s eyes. “Hoseok is currently my favorite hyung.”
“What? But Jim—”
“If you want to be my favorite hyung again you’re going to have to fight for it.” He looks at Yoongi with pleading eyes. “And I want the four of us to go to town.”
Yoongi shoots Taehyung a distressed look, but Taehyung just shrugs with a grin. “What Jimin says goes,” he tell the older man. Yoongi stares at him with dead eyes.
“Exactly.” Jimin and Taehyung bump fists before Jimin turns back to Yoongi. “Why don’t you call him, hyung, and see what he’s up to?”
“Hoseok?” Yoongi asks after a moment.
“Yes, who else?”
“How do you even know I have his number? We only met yesterday.”
Jimin raises an eyebrow.
Crosses his arms.
“Fine.” Yoongi goes off to call Hoseok.
Taehyung sighs. “I love it when you do that.”
“Do what?” Jimin asks, grinning at Yoongi’s back as he shuffles out the door. Taehyung watches as Jimin’s eyes scan the top of his dresser, searching.
Taehyung goes over to the table Yoongi had been using and picks up the fake pair of glasses that are there leaning against a half-finished cup of coffee from Jimin’s breakfast. “Use your powers for good and not evil.”
“I only use my powers for good,” Jimin sniffs. He plucks the glasses from Taehyung’s hands and slides them on, carefully arranging his hair where it sticks out from his beanie and taking a step back to look at his reflection. His cheeks aren’t as full as they were when they first got married, but he looks so cute that Taehyung still wants to pinch them. “Glasses or no glasses?”
“Glasses,” Taehyung says firmly. “You look cute.”
Jimin grins at him in the mirror. “I’ve got a hot date.”
“That guy who sells the kebabs in town?” Taehyung asks. “What’s his name…”
“Ah, right! Ilhoon.” Taehyung waggles his eyebrows. “Got a hot date with a Ilhoon the Kebab Salesman? Or is your date the kebab?”
“Actually, my hot date is my hot husband, if he would actually put some pants on.” Jimin digs through Taehyung’s drawer and pulls out a pair of jeans.
“You know,” Taehyung counters, catching the jeans when Jimin throws them at him. “The argument could be made that I’m significantly hotter without pants.”
“There’s got to be two sides to every argument, Tae, which side do you wanna be on?”
Taehyung pauses. “If I say against, does that mean you have to argue that I’m hotter pantsless?”
“No, it just means you’re an idiot.”
He hums in understanding. “You know, you’re right. Only an idiot would argue against.”
“I take it back. You’re no longer my hot husband, just put your pants on.”
“Can’t a man walk around pantsless in his own town?” Taehyung pouts, struggling to pull on his jeans. “Jimin, these are too tight.”
“They’re skinny jeans.”
“Jimin, my legs need to breath.”
Jimin rolls his eyes fondly. “Wouldn’t want them to choke.” He rifles through Taehyung’s drawer again. “Do you want sweats or shorts or...less skinny jeans?”
“How skinny is less skinny?”
“This skinny?” Jimin holds up a pair. They’re old, well-worn.
“Those are fine.” Taehyung reaches out and Jimin tosses the pants to him. “Gotta live up to my Hot Husband Expectations.”
Jimin snorts. “Tomorrow I’m going to walk into the kitchen and you’re going to be wearing those pants that make you look like you recently lost 30 pounds and haven’t bought new clothes yet."
Taehyung gasps. “I love those pants.”
“I know,” Jimin says, raising an eyebrow as he watches Taehyung struggle to put his jeans on. “That’s the only reason they haven’t mysteriously disappeared.”
“You do care.”
Jimin snorts. “Come on, Hot Husband. We should make sure Yoongi-hyung hasn’t ditched us.”
“He can’t ditch us! This is a double date.” Taehyung squints. “Unless you’re actually going to go woo Ilhoon the Kebab Salesman. Then I’ll just be an awkward third-wheel. Fifth wheel? Fifth wheel.”
“You got me,” Jimin says, holding the door open as they both follow in Yoongi’s direction. “I’ll tell Ilhoon you said hello.”
“Do I get a kebab out of it?” Taehyung asks, hooking his elbow around Jimin’s as they walk down the hallway. “Can you flirt your way into a kebab discount?”
“Isn’t that an abuse of power as this town’s resident royalty?”
Taehyung shrugs. “I mean, I’ve never gotten discounted kebabs so I don’t know if being royalty helps.”
“You must be a terrible flirt,” Jimin notes with a laugh.
“Aren’t we flirting right now?”
He grimaces. “Probably,” he admits, “and it’s awful.”
Taehyung pouts. “So you’re saying you wouldn’t give me discounted kebabs?”
“I don’t sell kebabs.”
“But if you did.”
“What would you give me in return?” Jimin sings, grinning up at him.
Taehyung thinks. “Flirts?”
“What about a kiss?” He wiggles his eyebrows, suddenly all grin and grease.
Jimin pauses to consider. “What kind of kiss?”
Taehyung reaches over with his free hand and bops Jimin’s face with one long finger. “Cheek kiss.”
“I only give kebabs for real kisses,” Jimin says shortly, batting Taehyung’s hand away. “And I don’t want any from you.”
“I will attack you with them,” Taehyung says teasingly, puckering his lips. “Overwhelm you in sheer number for the sake of a dollar off my kebab.”
“Quality over quantity, TaeTae,” Jimin tsks, pulling away from Taehyung and ducking out of his reach. “Only good kisses get kebabs.”
“Oh, and how would you know a good kiss from a bad one?” Taehyung asks, giggling. He’s not expecting an answer.
And then, suddenly, Jimin gets that look on his face like he’s been caught, still laughing even as the look in his eyes shifts to something a little panicked.
Taehyung’s grin widens. “Jimin.”
“What?” Jimin asks, still laughing even past the point of manic.
Taehyung walks towards him, laughing at the dramatics as Jimin scrambles backwards, and the look on Jimin’s face when his back hits the wall is priceless. “Jiminie?” Taehyung sings. “How would you know?”
Jimin might be sweating under his beanie. “I…” Another nervous burst of laughter. His eyes widen. “Hyung! Hello. Welcome.”
Taehyung looks over his shoulder. Yoongi is standing at the end of the hallway, his cell phone hanging loosely in his hand and a look on his face that Taehyung doesn’t know him well enough to read.
Jimin ducks under Taehyung’s arm. “Did Hoseok-hyung answer?”
Yoongi raised an eyebrow at Jimin. “He’s free.”
“So he’s coming?”
“He’ll meet us out front in about half an hour.”
Jimin claps his hands, nearly giddy. Yoongi rolls his eyes at Jimin’s obvious, match-making inspired enthusiasm, but he also doesn’t say anything to deter him. Taehyung takes that as a good sign.
Then Yoongi turns his sharp look to Taehyung, and Taehyung takes that as his cue to go. “I’ll go find Soonyoung and tell him to get the car.” He smiles brightly at Yoongi, and then at Jimin, and then he leaves the two of them to themselves.
They ditch Yoongi and Hoseok almost as soon as they arrive, but Taehyung feels better about it when they walk out the front door and he sees the face Yoongi makes when he finds Hoseok waiting for them at the bottom of the stairs. Yoongi isn’t tense, never tense, but one look at Hoseok has him melting where he stands. Like every heavy thing in his life rolls off his back and hits the pavement and he’s free.
Taehyung thinks it might be true love.
That’s the only real reason why, once they pull into the parking garage and Jimin suggests Hoseok show Yoongi around, Taehyung agrees wholeheartedly. “Hoseok-hyung knows town way better than either of us,” he points out.
Jimin comes Taehyung from behind, his chin digging into his husband’s shoulder as he grins at Yoongi. “Exactly.” Slowly, he starts walking backwards out of the parking lot, which is a little dangerous since it’s down an incline, but Taehyung just goes with it. “Taehyung and I are boring and married, we’re no fun.”
Yoongi looks one step shy of convinced. “Hoseok is going to get us lost.”
Hoseok laughs, loud and bright, and Yoongi’s mouth twitches up at the corners a little.
“That’s what Minho-hyung is for,” Jimin says.
Minho is leaning against the car they just got out of, trying not to smile.
Yoongi squints at the bodyguard. “Minho-hyung is too tall.”
Minseok agrees. “But he’s an excellent replacement for a parasol.”
Hoseok clucks his tongue. “Don’t be bitter, hyung, just because you’re small.” He laughs again, when Yoongi turns to stare at him blankly. He drapes his arms dramatically over Yoongi’s shoulders. “I like shorter guys, anyway. Better for hugging.”
Yoongi looks like a slightly grumpy hedgehog. “I hate this.” He doesn’t.
Taehyung can tell.
“Well, with that, I think we’re off?” Jimin says, phrased like a question, but he’s already tugging on Taehyung’s sleeve, and Minseok follows the two of them fondly, waving goodbye to Minho behind him.
The last thing that Taehyung sees is Hoseok grinning down at Yoongi, and Yoongi sighs a little, resting his head back on the other man’s shoulder, and then all he sees is pavement, but the sight lingers in his mind’s eye long after they walk out of the parking lot and into the sun light.
The weight of Jimin’s hand in his feels heavier.
“You okay?” Jimin asks a second later, skipping a little so that they’re in step as they walk down the sidewalk.
It’s only then that Taehyung realizes he was staring at their hands. He grins. “Of course,” he says. “Never better.”
“Of course, since you’re with me,” Jimin teases, batting his eyelashes.
“I’m always with you.”
“Wow, you’re so lucky.”
Behind them, Minseok rolls his eyes, but neither Jimin nor Taehyung notice.
Whenever they’re in town, they always stop through the market first. In the morning, either Jimin or Taehyung will head down the kitchens as Kyungsoo is making breakfast and ask for his grocery list. Nowadays, they walk in and Kyungsoo just hands it over, maybe adding an item or two before gently placing it in their hand.
At first, Kyungsoo insisted on going with them to the street market, but after two years he trusts them well enough. “Remember what I taught you,” he says each time.
“Get freebies at the end?” Taehyung says hopefully.
And then they’re sent off.
Most times, they like to spend hours there, talking with the people who run the stalls and snacking on free samples. Taehyung licks something sticky sweet off of his fingers while Jimin learns how to turn a bruised apple into a flower from the old woman who sells fruit. The stand is run by her children and grandchildren during the week, but she likes to come out on Sunday mornings, and this is the first time they’ve seen her for a while.
They have a lot of catching up to do.
Taehyung watches as Jimin carefully takes the small knife from the old woman and starts slicing the fruit with small, steady hands, jaw set in concentration. There’s a little crease between his eyebrows that Taehyung wants to smooth out with his fingers. That would probably be distracting.
Also his fingers are still sticky and Taehyung isn’t about that life. Jimin’s frown would be cute, though.
Jimin is halfway through his second attempt when someone calls out to them. Taehyung watches as Jimin very carefully finishes his slice before looking up. His face breaks into a smiles. “Ah, hyung! Good morning!”
Luhan is standing just outside the stall, a few bags hanging from one hand and a crate full of something held in his arms. He’s bright in the early morning, eye’s sleepy but smiling all the same. Taehyung rarely sees him out of his green apron, the one he wears in the cafe, but he looks nice.
He spares Minseok a look and his face doesn’t reveal anything, but he’s definitely paying more attention to Luhan than anything else.
Taehyung smiles into the heel of his palm.
“Haven’t seen you in a while,” Jimin is saying, setting his apple flower down carefully on the table and licking some juice off of his thumb. “How’s business?”
“Regular,” Luhan says with a grin. His eyes flicker over to Minseok. “Your bodyguard there could probably save our entire business alone with the way he drinks coffee. You’d think there was a caffeine ban at your house.”
Minseok blinks once, twice, and the color of his collar bones darkens just a little bit, but the way he keeps his face fairly impassive is pretty impressive.
“That’s funny,” Taehyung notes, leaning against the table.
Both Luhan and Minseok frown, though probably for different reasons. “Why?” Luhan asks.
Because Minseok hates spending money and they have free coffee at home, but it’s not exactly a surprise that Minseok would go there for a reason other than good coffee. So Taehyung just grins at his bodyguard and says, “Minseokie-hyung is just a funny guy.”
“He is,” Luhan agrees with a smile, and the color spreads from Minseok’s collar bones up to his neck and ears, and it’s cute, the way Minseok is almost holding his breath. “Will you guys stop by later?” Luhan asks.
Taehyung and Jimin look at Minseok.
“Probably,” Minseok admits.
Luhan sighs, like maybe he had been holding his breath too. “Good.”
Jimin makes a weird noise in the back of his throat, likes he’s swallowing a squeal, and suddenly the two of them realize how hyper-focused they are and pull themselves back into the real world.
Surprisingly, it’s Luhan who manages it first. “I’ll see you all later, then.” He bows to all of them as best he can while his arms are full. Minseok’s hands twitch, like he’s two seconds from racing over to help, but Luhan rights himself just in time.
Minseok lets his hands fall back to his sides, going back to leaning against the table.
Taehyung looks at Minseok, and then Luhan, and then Jimin, and Jimin is beaming at him, delighted, and for a moment Taehyung forgets what they’re grinning about but he’d like to stay here, on this Sunday morning, forever.
“Bye, hyung,” Jimin says after Luhan collects himself again, waving his fingers cutely as Luhan turns a bit red and bobs his head goodbye. He leans past Taehyung to look at the bodyguard. “He’s so cute, hyung, don’t you think so?” Jimin nods firmly. “I approve.”
“You should begin a courtship,” Taehyung says seriously. “Snatch him up.”
Minseok rolls his eyes. “I don’t need relationship advice from either of you, honestly.”
Jimin frowns. “What’s that supposed to mean?” He looks at his husband. “We’ve been successfully married for years now—”
“Two years isn’t exactly—”
“For years,” Taehyung says firmly, placing a hand on Jimin’s shoulder. “We’re the poster children for romance.”
Jimin flutters his eyelashes. “Oh, Husband!” he calls in a high falsetto. “Will you miss me when I’m gone?”
“I miss you whenever you’re not beside me,” Taehyung cries dramatically.
With a laugh, Jimin pulls Taehyung down to sit in his lap. It’s a bit of a tight squeeze, and Taehyung’s side is digging into the table with all of the fruit laid out on it, but he threads his arms around Jimin’s neck and beams up at Minseok, and he’s probably never been more comfortable. “Look at how happy and in love we are.”
“The Most Successful Marriage,” Jimin agrees. Taehyung can feel Jimin’s breath on the back of his throat.
“Hold still,” Minseok says suddenly, digging his phone out of his pocket. “Say cheese.”
Minseok starts typing.
“Are you setting our love as your background?” Jimin chips.
Minseok snorts. “No.”
“Was that just for posterity?”
Taehyung grins. “It’s because we’re cute.”
“Sure,” Minseok says absently.
“Hyung,” Jimin whines.
“I sent it to Kyungsoo, don’t worry about it.”
“Ah.” Taehyung rests his head on top of Jimin’s. “To show how productive we’re being.”
“Wait!” Jimin unwraps his arms from around Taehyung’s waist and reaches for the apple he was slicing earlier. “Send him a picture of my flower!” He pokes Taehyung’s shoulder. “You hold it, your hands are prettier.”
“What the hell? Your hands are adorable,” Taehyung say with a frown. “There will be none of that in this stall or in my house.”
“I’m not holding your apple.”
“Fine, but I still want a picture.” He pouts at Minseok. “Please, hyung?”
Jimin holds his flower cupped in both hands, his arms around Taehyung, his chin digging into Taehyung’s shoulder as he grins, and Taehyung feels warm in the chill of fall.
The fake shutter on Minseok’s camera clicks and Taehyung thinks he might be beaming but he’s not sure.
“I want to see,” Taehyung whines, and Minseok shakes his head with a smile and turns the phone around, and there is Jimin with his cute flower in his cute hands and Taehyung in Jimin’s lap and he was definitely beaming. He definitely was and he definitely is now. “Look how cute, Jiminie.”
Carefully, Jimin puts down his flower down on the table. “The cutest,” he says, grinning into Taehyung’s shoulder. Taehyung can feel his mouth moving over the fabric.
It’s a good day.
They don’t end up stopping by Luhan’s coffee shop, but they do stop by a stand selling caramel apples. Their arms are laden with bags of produce and goodies, sweets that Kyungsoo will surely pretend to scold them for, but what’s one more thing to carry when it’s delicious and makes Taehyung think of only good things?
“Caramel apples are best eaten in the park,” Jimin says authoritatively. There’s caramel on the corner of his mouth, and his beanie is sitting slightly crooked on his head, one tiny little ear poking out, from where Taehyung tried to wrestle it off earlier because he was cold.
(He lost, because he always loses, because Jimin has arms like a tank and he always plays dirty, but Jimin bought him a scarf when they passed by a little boy and his mother selling them, and his fingers brushed Taehyung’s skin when he wrapped it around his neck.)
“You only want to go to the park because of that carousel,” Taehyung says.
“Oh, like you don’t want to go?”
“Of course, I want to go! It’s a carousel!”
“You get me.”
Minseok laughs and off they go, letting their feet take them through the streets and towards the park. They can hear the laughter of the kids running to and from the stalls, candies held in sticky hands and shoes untied and hair flying and Taehyung is really happy. A soft, gentle kind of happy that seeps down into your bones and settles because you know you’re in a good place with good people.
The line to get on the carousel is always so long, and they could probably jump to the front if they wanted, being resident royalty and all, but Taehyung’s found that he prefers just to wait. It’s nice and familiar, the general noise of the people in line and their children and the birds and the cheerful tune playing over the speakers. The wind is crisp, fresh. Taehyung presses the scarf Jimin bought him up against the skin of his cheek.
They talk, the casual kind of small talk that feels comfortable not because it’s safe but because you already know everything about each other. They talk about Namjoon and Taehyung’s parents, and how Namjoon’s new advisor is doing, and how big Jungkook is getting, and who is going to give Phillip a bath next time. It’s Jimin’s turn, but somehow they always end up doing it together, covered in soap and dirt and dog hair and they’re always soaking wet but they’re always laughing so neither of them mind.
When they get to the front of the line, apples long eaten, they leave Minseok waiting off the side and climb onto the platform, Jimin’s fingers gripping Taehyung’s tightly as he leads them along. They have favorite horses, side by side, an ugly blue and beautiful, and they’re always a little devastated when they’re taken, but because it’s a good day the horses are free.
Jimin steps up and swings his leg over gracefully in a way Taehyung never quite manages to achieve. And Taehyung knows that Jimin knows this because when he finally hauls himself up onto the horse Jimin is sitting there grinning at him, arms hanging loosely in his lap and his cheek pressed against the metal bar as he watches his husband. “Cute,” Jimin says, once Taehyung is settled in the settle and not about to fall off with a slight breeze.
“Don’t mock me.”
“I’m not!” Jimin insists. He’s on the outside of the carousel, and the sun shines behind his lopsided beanie. “You’re cute.”
“The cutest,” Taehyung agrees, feeling a little warm. Probably the physical exertion of climbing onto a fake horse meant for children. “You’re such a lucky man.”
There’s a groan as the machinery kicks up, shrieks as the children feel the jolt of the platform underneath them, and Taehyung tightens the scarf around his neck in anticipation for the breeze as the carousel starts turning.
He misses whatever Jimin says. “What was that?”
Jimin shakes his head. “Nothing.” He goes back to looking out at the trees, the people waiting in line, the peaks of the tents in the market sticking up with lurid colors in the near distance.
Taehyung leans his head against the pole and watches his husband fondly.
They make another rotation or two, enjoying the quiet company, and Taehyung watches the way the wind ruffles the hair sticking out of Jimin’s hat, the way goosebumps rise on the skin of Jimin’s neck, the way Jimin pulls the sleeves of his coat further down over his hands, the way Jimin traces the horse’s decorations with absent fingers. Hears the clank of Jimin’s rings tapping against the fiberglass. Watches the cold make Jimin’s cheeks rosy.
A good day.
Jimin is looking at him.
Did he say something?
Jimin rolls his eyes. “They’re cute.”
“Who?” Taehyung smiles. “Is there a baby I need to appreciate?”
“There are plenty of cute babies,” Jimin admits. “But I meant our bodyguard and his barista.”
Taehyung peers around Jimin, the opposite of subtle, and right before the carousel carries him out of sight he sees Minseok standing against the gate, their bags of produce and goodies resting delicately at his feet, and Luhan smiling, leaning against the top of the railing, handing Minseok something warm in a familiar brown cup.
Something in his heart shifts. “Seems like everyone is falling in love.”
Jimin smiles at him and it settles back into place. “Tis the season.” He lets his head fall back, breathes in deeply through his nose, eyes closed, small hands holding lightly onto the bar. “What do you think of the hyungs?”
“Minseok-hyung and his barista?”
“No.” Jimin laughs, head still back and eyes still closed. “Yoongi-hyung and Hoseok-hyung.”
Taehyung smiles, his eyes drifting from Jimin’s profile to the faces of the people waiting at the gates. “What was it you said earlier?”
“That they’re gonna get married?” Jimin lifts his head again, bring his hands up to his face cutely as he grins, like they’re sharing a secret.
“I think I might agree with you.” The ear that has escaped from Jimin’s beanie is a little red from the chill, so Taehyung reaches over and tucks it back under, smoothing over the black material with careful, gentle fingers.
“Is there a reason for that other than the fact that I’m always right?”
“Do I need any other reason?” Taehyung grins at him. “Didn’t you tell me what you say goes?”
Jimin sniffs haughtily. “It does.” All of the air gets knocked out of him when he giggles. “Should I just tell them to get married, then?”
“That’s really only one step up from ditching them to a romantic date of window shopping and buying delicious snacks in the market.”
“And walks in the park.”
Jimin laughs again, bright and happy. He sighs, biting lightly at the hem of his sleeve. His eyes are far away. “I think that Hoseok-hyung is good for him.”
Yoongi is a good man. He deserves a lot of kindness for all that he gives. He deserves something good. Taehyung smiles. “I think so, too.” He saw the way that Yoongi looked at Hoseok when they were in the car, how Yoongi laughed at the stupid jokes, how Yoongi couldn’t tear his eyes away.
And more than that, Taehyung is pretty sure the feeling is mutual.
Because Hoseok talks like every word is carefully constructed just to make Yoongi smile, and Yoongi does smile, and whenever Hoseok’s careful attention affects Yoongi in even the smallest way it’s like they’re both glowing.
“I think they might be in love.”
Jimin smiles at him. “Well. Like I said.” He grins, and the sun shines behind him again. “Tis the season.”
When Soonyoung pulls Yoongi’s beat up car into their driveway and Yoongi slides into the driver’s seat to head back to the airport, Taehyung doesn’t know if Hoseok and Yoongi are going to end up getting married, but he does know that their hug lingered, and that Hoseok muttered something into Yoongi’s ear, and that Yoongi’s smile could have lit up a whole city, and yeah.
He really thinks it’s love.
Taehyung can count the number of times Kyungsoo has left them in his kitchen unsupervised on one hand.
But Heeyeon has been taking care of sick and grumpy Jungkook for the last few days, and Kyungsoo has been racing around trying keep his kitchen in order with his right-hand man temporarily out of commission. There’s a new kid, Chanyeol, who is tall and handsome and clumsy but a hard-worker, that’s trying to pick up the slack, but it’s hard to train someone for a position and also have them fill another position that’s not even theirs at the same time.
Kyungsoo is a little frazzled.
They all agree that he could use a night off. Jimin says he’ll buy the pizza and Kyungsoo goes to his room with a crease between his eyebrows and some flour on the tip of his nose.
Being in the kitchen alone is a little unnerving. The kitchen help has left, too. Partially because Taehyung asked to do this by himself and partially because once the pizza boxes were broken down and set aside to be recycled there wasn’t a lot for them to do.
He’s just making soup.
How hard can it be?
The door opens. “What are you doing?”
Taehyung stares at the vegetables lying on the counter. “I’m wishing very hard,” he tells Jimin, who he knows is standing behind him with a look that’s somewhere between amused and judgemental, “that all of this will jump into the pot and make soup so that Jungkookie will feel better.”
“A valiant wish,” Jimin tells him, stepping forward until they’re side by side. The door gently swings shut behind him. By the time it settles, the two of them are already leaning against each other. “Although I haven’t seen any shooting stars around here, so I’m not sure what you’re wishing on.” Taehyung watches Jimin pick up the knife lying next to the celery. “Did you get all of these ingredients out yourself?”
“I just asked Kyungsoo-hyung to get out what he usually puts into chicken noodle soup.” Which was stupid, because Taehyung is pretty sure Kyungsoo makes everything from scratch and Taehyung really isn’t ready for that. But there are a couple of boxes of broth set out that Taehyung knows Kyungsoo wouldn’t have touched without prompting, and there’s a little Tupperware container full of chicken that’s already been cooked, and Taehyung thinks he’s lucky to have a hyung like Kyungsoo.
“Well.” Jimin looks up at Taehyung. “Pass me the cutting board, then.”
Wordlessly, Taehyung does. Jimin reaches for the celery, and Taehyung pushes that towards him, too. “Go ahead and melt the butter in the pot.”
And Taehyung does. Because what Jimin says goes.
By the time the butter is melted Jimin has finished chopping the celery, setting it aside in a little bowl Kyungsoo has left out on the island, and has moved on to the onion, pausing a little every once in awhile to sniff and wipe at his eyes when they start to water.
“You don’t have to help me,” Taehyung offers.
“My poor duckling,” Jimin tuts. “You’d be lost without me.”
Taehyung smiles at him. “True.”
The way that Jimin moves is precise and efficient and graceful all at the same time. When he’s finished he carries the cutting board carefully over to the stove, scraping the onion into the pot. “Put the celery in, too.”
When Taehyung brings the bowl over and upends it into the pot, Jimin stands there and stirs, one hand on his hip as he adjusts the heat of the stove.
“How long do we wait?”
Jimin frowns. “Until it’s soft?” He looks at the time on his phone. “Maybe five minutes?”
It smells like butter and whatever it is Taehyung picks up and starts chopping. “What is this? Should I be cutting this?”
“It’s oregano and yes.”
Taehyung holds up a leaf to inspect it. “I’ve never seen it in this form,” he says dramatically, voice low, like a scientist in a movie, twirling the leaf between long fingers.
Jimin laughs and snatches it out of his hand. “Yes, you have. Jinki-hyung grows it in the garden.”
“He grows everything in the garden!” Taehyung whines. “How am I supposed to keep track?”
Mercifully, Jimin lets him have that. He cups the leaf in both hands, an offering, and Taehyung plucks it from his palm and places it back on the cutting board with the rest.
Taehyung peers at the side of Jimin’s face. “What’s next?”
“It looks like Kyungsoo-hyung already did the chicken,” Jimin notes, nodding to the little container off to the side before picking up the knife again. “So all you have to do it put all this shit into the pot, let it boil, and then wait for it to cool a little.” He looks over his shoulder at Taehyung, who has returned to the stove to give the buttery mess a stir. “You couldn’t do this by yourself?”
“I could!” Taehyung insists, tapping the spoon against the metal indignantly. “The sheer number of ingredients worried me. I was mildly overwhelmed.”
Jimin holds up the carrot he’s about to cut and points it at him mockingly. “Kim Taehyung: overwhelmed by produce.”
Taehyung mimes picking up the pot and dumping it over Jimin’s head. “I’m trying to make a sick child feel better! You should be nicer to me.”
“I’m the nicest!” Jimin sings.
Honestly, Taehyung probably agrees. Even when Jimin is teasing him.
The sound of the knife on the cutting board and the smell of butter and vegetables and warmth of the kitchen all meshes together into something familiar and comfortable and good, a memory he wants to keep safe in his back pocket and take out on rainy days.
It feels an awful lot like home.
“Did you cook a lot?” Taehyung asks. “When you still lived with your family?”
Jimin laughs. “Clearly more than you did.”
He flushes. “Shut up, I don’t deserve this.”
“Okay, okay.” Jimin hums, quiet and satisfied. “I'm not particularly good at it. I helped out with little things. Soup like this is easy. I made it a lot. My cousins were always getting sick.”
Taehyung remembers Jimin with his cousins from the wedding, a memory that’s somehow not long ago and yet so far away. They’re in a different place now. He likes this better, but there are good memories, too. He remembers Jimin letting the little kids stand on his feet so they could dance together. “You have a lot of them. Cousins,” he clarifies, when Jimin looks at him over his shoulder.
“My mom always tells me I felt more like an older brother than the baby,” Jimin admits, tapping the flat of the knife against the board idly before brushing the chopped carrot away and picking up the next one. “They clung to me. I had to take good care of them.”
Honestly, Jimin takes care of almost everyone he meets, even the hyungs who don’t need to be taken care of. Only a couple of hours ago he was ushering Kyungsoo out of his own kitchen and ordering pizza for everyone at the same time.
“We should visit your family soon,” Taehyung says.
Taehyung is watching him from the back, and sees the way that Jimin’s head tilts slightly to the side, and he knows that Jimin is smiling, and he knows the kind of smile it is, and he’s happy. “I’d like that.” Jimin’s shoulders jerk up in excitement. “We can go see my uncle! He owns a lot of farmland. I know you love farms.” Jimin laughs and looks at Taehyung knowingly. “And his wife just had twins.”
“Baby!” Taehyung coos at Jimin as he walks over to dump the carrots and the chopped oregano into the pot. “Now we have to go.”
“I knew that would get you.” Jimin walks around the island to grab the two boxes of broth, reading the labels as he walks back. “Where are the noodles?”
“Ah!” Taehyung goes to grab them from the pantry. “How old are they?”
“Mhmm.” When Taehyung returns Jimin is stirring the broth in. He dumps the noodles unceremoniously while Jimin adjusts the heat again. “Are they cute?”
“They’re only a few months old, and they’re adorable,” Jimin says proudly. “I haven’t seen them in real life yet, Youngbae-hyung is really passionate about taking pictures.”
It sounds like it would be a nice trip. Farms and babies and Jimin.
“As soon as Jungkookie is better, let’s make the plans, okay?” Taehyung says, holding out his pinky.
Jimin links their pinkies together. “It’s a deal.”
The deal doesn’t happen, but Taehyung doesn’t have the heart to be mad about it.
“Sorry,” Jimin says softly, bundled up in a million blankets. He’s wearing one of Taehyung’s old sweaters, a huge one that’s a faded navy blue and too big for Jimin, too big for Taehyung. Jimin always manages to find it when he’s upset.
“It’s okay,” Taehyung tells him, and he means it, both for their plans being cancelled and for being kicked temporarily out of their room.
He’s got a few things cradled in his hands, his phone charger tangled up with his computer charger somewhere buried in the lump that is his sweatshirt and his laptop stuck underneath his arm. All he can see of Jimin is the top of his head and his eyes, and just the tips of his fingers underneath the sweater where he’s clutching the blanket closer to his face. Taehyung wants to finish the rest of their I’m-upset-and-need-comfort tradition. Jimin’s got the sweater and the blankets and Prince Phillip curled up at his feet, and Taehyung wants to run his fingers through Jimin’s hair and let Jimin lay his head on his chest and they can watch Netflix together, like they usually do.
He hates it when one of them is sick.
It’s usually Taehyung who gets the worst of it, but he’s not convinced that’s not just because Jimin is too stubborn to accept when he needs rest. Taehyung can count on one hand how often Jimin has been bedridden, and he would still have fingers left over.
Taehyung wants to pet Jimin’s hair and cuddle and watch Netflix, but Jimin is always adamant about not being around other people when he’s sick.
Or, at least, that’s what he says.
It’s Taehyung’s honest opinion that Jimin knows he’s a pathetic, clingy sick person and sends people away so that no one finds out.
Not that Taehyung is going to press, especially not when Jimin looks so sorry kicking Taehyung out of their room so that he can nap.
So Taehyung walks around the bed and plants a kiss right on the center of Jimin’s forehead, and Jimin relaxes into it, eyes closed. “I’ll be back later. When do you want me to wake you up?”
“Before dinner,” Jimin mumbles into the sheets, sinking further under the covers. Phillip moves up on the bed, nuzzling up against Jimin’s side like he’s a lapdog and not as big as a small person. “This is what I get for taking advantage of Jungkookie being sick to beat him at Mario.”
“Wow, I can’t believe you’re the worst.” He smiles, rubbing his thumb over the area his lips just touched. “Sleep well.”
Taehyung flips the light off when he leaves.
Kyungsoo is waiting for him in the kitchen. “I knew you’d come.”
“Hello, hyung, feeling awfully dramatic today, I see,” Taehyung greets cheerfully.
The set up on the counter looks remarkably familiar.
“At least I can help you this time,” Kyungsoo says flatly.
“That’s okay.” Taehyung picks up the knife. “Jimin taught me how.”
There’s no response when Taehyung knocks softly on their door, just the muffled sound of the fan they have going. Not a peep.
When he opens the door and peers into the room, not a single thing has changed. The curtains are still drawn and the lights are still off. Taehyung still has to be careful about the small pile of clothes sitting casually on the floor. The dog is still splayed out, nestled against Jimin’s side, nose resting against the pillows. The blankets are still twisted around Jimin’s body and Jimin is still curled up as small as he can be, small hands fisted in the sheets, mouth a little open because he can’t breathe out of his nose.
The drool is new.
Taehyung stifles a coo as he carefully shuts the door behind him, balancing the tray he’s holding in one hand. “Jiminie?” he whispers. “Wake up.”
There’s a groan. Taehyung sees Jimin turn a little, head rolling around. He looks ridiculous.
“Jiminie,” Taehyung tries again, careful to avoid anything left on the floor and setting the tray on the bedside table. He trails his hand up the side of the lamp to find the switch, and as soon as the soft light switches on Jimin groans again and curls up even more tightly. “I brought you food.”
“Wake me up for dinner,” is what Taehyung thinks the response is supposed to be but Jimin is mumbling too much for him to be sure.
“Jiminie, I brought dinner.”
Jimin stops trying to make himself a ball. He turns his face towards Taehyung, eyes still closed and a little puffy. “Hmm?”
Taehyung smooths down his husband’s bedhead. “Dinner.”
“Yum.” Jimin yawns.
Taehyung’s palm slides down from Jimin’s head to cup his cheek. “Are you awake?”
He yawns again. “Mmm.” He nuzzles the pillow.
“Jimin, are you awake or do I need to spoon feed you?”
“Spoon feed me.” Eyes still closed, Jimin opens his mouth like a baby bird and waits.
His mouth shuts with a little click. “Lame.”
With another stifled laugh, Taehyung helps Jimin get adjusted against the pillows. It’s less helping and more manhandling Jimin to sit up, but Taehyung will leave Jimin with his dignity. Phillip whines when his human heater is moved, but he quickly readjusts, shoving his face in the limited space beneath the crook of Jimin’s elbow so that he can rest his nose in Jimin’s lap.
Taehyung sits down beside Jimin, knees almost knocking into the bedside table, and pretends to be surprised when he feels the familiar weight against his back. “You aren’t so sick you can’t sit up on your own, are you?”
“I’m dying, maybe,” Jimin says, burying his face into Taehyung’s back. It’s arguably the most active he’s been all day, the way that Jimin slides his arms limply over Taehyung’s shoulders and presses his face into the warm skin of Taehyung’s neck.
Taehyung can feel Jimin’s eyelashes flutter when he blinks.
He has a cute husband.
“I’m still not feeding you,” Taehyung reiterates. “No matter how cute you are.”
Jimin whines, just a little, but his hands grip in Taehyung’s shirt and he doesn’t seem like he’s going to let go. “I just want to cuddle.”
“If by sick you mean dope as fuck.” His voice cracks.
“I didn’t mean that, actually.” But Taehyung is smiling, and even though Jimin is sick and potentially still contagious, he feels better having him close. “I made you soup, though, even though you’re a loser."
Jimin blinks again, once, twice, against Taehyung’s neck before looking up at him. “Soup?”
“Yep.” Taehyung turns a little, reaching around to pat Prince Phillip’s head. His fur is soft and warm and Jimin’s hand lazily joins his, Jimin’s chin digging into his shoulder.
“You made soup?” Taehyung feels Jimin’s breath on his cheek.
He laughs. “Yes. Just like you taught me.”
“I bet it’s shit,” Jimin says, but he’s melting, his smile is soft and sleepy and bright.
“I bet it’s shit, too.”
Jimin kisses the corner of Taehyung jaw, nothing new or unusual, just safe and comfortable and affectionate, before sitting back against the pillows. “I love you and your soup,” he says, with the sort of guileless sincerity that comes with being sick and tired. His face is still puffy and his eyes are half closed and he’s started petting Taehyung’s hand instead of the dog.
This feels like home, too.
Maybe it’s just Jimin.
Taehyung is an affectionate person.
Some people have issues with it, or don’t know how to handle it, but Taehyung has a hard time holding himself back. He loves love, and he loves touching, and he loves affection. It’s simple.
The nice thing about Jimin — one of many — is that Jimin loves love, too.
Jimin is made of small touches and soft words and a little bit of a temper, just to keep things interesting, but mostly Jimin is made of cuddling and lazy Sundays.
They’ve been together for long enough that Taehyung doesn’t question it when Jimin slides his hand in his and locks their fingers together, and Jimin doesn’t even blink when Taehyung presses a good morning kiss into his forehead.
They spend nights wrapped up in blankets and limbs, the sides of their legs always touching, and Taehyung has found that Jimin sleeps better, longer, the closer they are when they fall asleep. Taehyung doesn’t mind.
There is a easy sort of comfort with being close to Jimin. The cheek kisses and the hand holding and the way that Jimin barely reacts, pulls his in tighter even, when Taehyung needs someone to love and drapes himself over Jimin’s shoulders.
At the very least, Taehyung is happy that someone is there to indulge him.
It does cause it’s own issues, of course. For example, if one of them wakes up first, it’s extremely difficult to get out of bed without waking the other person up. How many times has Taehyung woken up to either Jimin nearly falling off the bed trying to escape or his husband blinking at him, wide awake and desperate to go to the bathroom.
And sometimes, maybe when they’re sitting beside each other watching Netflix, they end up a little too close. And maybe Jimin says something really cute and Taehyung goes to kiss him on the cheek right when Jimin turns his head.
And sometimes Taehyung misses Jimin’s cheek entirely and gets his mouth instead.
By sometimes, Taehyung means this time, because this has never happened before and he isn’t really sure what to do. “I…”
Jimin is staring at him.
Taehyung is frozen.
Voltron plays in the background.
“Whoops,” Taehyung says, slightly strangled. He has blinked for a solid ten seconds at this point. “We...did...a lip touch.” Taehyung can’t think of the actual word. Did his brain shut down? That seems like an overreaction.
Jimin looks at him, a little flustered but mostly mildly alarmed at Taehyung’s inability to form a real sentence. “Yes. We did.”
A part of Taehyung’s soul leaves his body. “Whoops.”
“It’s okay, it’s not a big deal.” Jimin pats Taehyung’s shoulder with one hand.
Taehyung trips over his own tongue. “I’m sorry, Jimin, I’m really sorry. It was an accident.”
“Taehyung, it’s really—”
“I was just going to kiss your cheek, I promise! I didn’t mean—I mean, how rude is that? Just to kiss without asking first?” The noise Taehyung makes would make Namjoon actually die of laughter.
Jimin looks two steps away from dying of laughter himself, and Taehyung honestly does not think he’s taking this matter seriously at all. “TaeTae, we’re married.”
“Not like that!”
“With the lip touching!” Kiss. That’s the word. Taehyung saves that word for later
And yes, they’re affectionate. They are affectionate people. Cheek kisses and nose kisses and forehead kisses. Sure. Lip kisses are new. There is a very different feeling curling around Taehyung’s stomach. He isn’t sure how he feels about it.
“We’ve been sleeping in the same bed for nearly three years, Tae, you really think an accidental kiss is going to bother me?” And yeah, Jimin has a point, but there is something in Taehyung’s chest that’s making his heart beat terrifyingly fast and he isn’t really sure what to do with it but he doesn’t like it. Not at all.
For a moment, he wonders if maybe Jimin is secretly disgusted on the inside, even though that’s overdramatic to an absurd degree and Jimin seems more amused than offended, but what if. What if the balance they achieved is suddenly overturned by a poorly timed head turn and a sudden gush of casual affection?
“I’m sorry,” Taehyung says again. Whoops.
And then Jimin laughs, soft, and Taehyung feels Jimin’s fingers slide under his chin, soft, and then Jimin presses their lips together.
Taehyung is soft. His insides.
Jimin looks significantly less affected, cool and composed while Taehyung tries to find his feet again. “It’s fine, see? Now we’re even.” And Jimin readjusts and goes back to watching Netflix.
Taehyung has to fix the puzzle pieces of his insides back together, because something is just the slightest bit off, something doesn’t quite fit, but Jimin is warm and steady, and although Taehyung isn’t entirely sure what just happened, he knows that Jimin is still beside him.
He takes a deep breath. One one thousand. Two one thousand. Three. “You’d better not get me sick.”
Jimin laughs, loud and high, resting his head for just a moment on Taehyung’s shoulder before saving his neck the discomfort, and Taehyung kind of wishes that he’d left it there.
His lips feel weird.
His stomach feels weirder.
They watch Voltron and Taehyung pretends he hasn’t stumbled on something new.
The something new lingers.
Taehyung spends each day trying to sort out his puzzle pieces and figure out what exactly is out of place. What’s new, what’s different, what changed. What switch flipped that’s making him feel like someone moved all of the furniture two inches to the left.
Everything is new and the same.
There’s a niggling at the back of his mind every time Jimin looks and him and smiles, every time Jimin hugs him from behind and presses a kiss into his shoulder because he’s too lazy to stretch a little to reach Taehyung’s cheek. Every time Jimin walks through the damn door.
He finds himself staring a lot.
Sometimes it’s just because Jimin sparks intense thought and Taehyung zones out with his eyes locked on Jimin’s nose, hands, back, feet.
Sometimes he just stares.
It doesn’t help the pieces click into place but it does make him feel like he’s three steps away from finding his feet.
These days, it’s usually Taehyung who can’t sleep. He’s been slightly off-kilter for about a week now, and each night Jimin falls asleep before he does, and every night he gets up out of bed and wanders.
Not tonight, though.
They’re too tangled up in each other, Taehyung’s face resting on Jimin’s chest and his arms wrapped around Jimin’s waist. Their legs are tied in knots, Taehyung’s cold feet pressed against the bare skin of Jimin’s calf and Jimin not complaining, not even a little. One of Jimin’s hands is scratching lazily at the nape of Taehyung’s neck, running through the short hairs there. The other hand is warm on Taehyung’s back.
This is the most settled he’s felt all week.
He still can’t sleep.
He brings one hand up towards his face, drawing small, light circles into Jimin’s shirt with a single finger. Jimin makes a soft noise that Taehyung feels more than hears, a happy little sigh before he takes a deep breath, his fingers pressing a little more firmly into Taehyung’s skin. It’s nice and familiar.
“Jimin?” He doesn’t mean for it to be a be a whisper, but even though it ends up being more breath than voice it still sounds too loud in the quiet.
“Are you awake?”
Taehyung bites his lip. “Will you…”
The hand stills, waiting, and Jimin only says something once he realizes that Taehyung isn’t going to finish his thought. “Yeah, Tae?”
“Will you sing me a lullaby?” Taehyung asks, tapping out a rhythm on Jimin’s chest.
Jimin moves his hand up further into Taehyung’s hair, fingers combing through the strands in a way that’s soothing for them both. “What do you want to hear?” His voice is groggy.
Taehyung hums as he thinks. “Anything.”
There’s a moment of silence, maybe two, while Jimin rifles through the songs he has locked away in his head. It’s a comfortable kind of quiet, close and warm, easy.
He hears the sound building in Jimin’s throat a good second before he can make sense of the words. “—our eyes and li..listen to my st...ory.” Jimin is humming more than he’s singing, still half asleep. “Before my story ends...you will dream.”
It takes a second for Taehyung to place the tune, with the weird breaks in Jimin’s words and the sleep-addled brain and the way Jimin is running his hands through his hair.
Little star, tonight.
“All night, I will watch over you.” Jimin’s voice is fading softly into sleep, but he keeps going with a yawn.
That thing, that something new, lets go of Taehyung’s stomach and cradles his heart in its hands.
It's too late at night to have revelations.
Is this a revelation? It feels softer. As Taehyung shuffles his pieces around and things start to make sense, it feels less like something new and more something old. Something you forget you know until it's time to remember.
He snaps the last puzzle piece into place.
How long has he been falling?
Jimin’s song has trailed off into nothing. His breathing is deep. His eyes twitch with dreams. Taehyung peers up at Jimin through his eyelashes, fist twisted in his husband’s shirt.
It's a bad angle.
“I love you,” Taehyung whispers.
get ready because the feeling floodgates have been opened
slow burn is really hard
let me know what you think! ^^
Chapter 3: forever, i'll watch over you
Taehyung is in love.
And he’s in good company.
i want to thank ellie for always doing the most. honestly, this fic could not have been done without you to motivate and cry with me.
thank you to everyone who supported me and talked with me and read this and commented and...idk i'm just really thankful.
i hope you all enjoy the last chapter! ^^
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
When Jimin walks up to him, it’s with two bottles of strawberry juice and a letter in his hands.
“Okay, so,” he says, plopping down next to Taehyung on the bench, wiggling a little until Taehyung moves aside to give him room. Their arms brush. “I have good news and better news.”
Taehyung shuts the book he’s reading, quickly leaning awkwardly to the side so that their heads touch for just a moment before straightening again. “It’s a beautiful day and you love me?”
“That is also true,” Jimin says dismissively, even though Taehyung presses his words into his memory book. “Are you ready for the actual good news?”
“Hit me.” Taehyung places his book down on the bench beside him, careful that it won’t fall onto the ground. He borrowed it from Namjoon the last time he came to visit, and his hyung always gets pouty when his books get dirty.
The sun is bright today, a sweet sort of warmth that is Taehyung’s favorite part about being outside in the late summer. His feet are bare and there is dirt up between his toes. His shirt is too big for him and Jimin always teases him about the holes he cuts in them, says he’ll get funny tan lines for the sake of fashion.
“Well,” Jimin says pointedly, clearly excited about something. He hits Taehyung’s shoulder lightly with the letter he’s holding before handing it over. “The good news: this came in the mail this morning.” The envelope is a bright blue and ripped almost to shreds because Jimin can never seem to open letters without causing some sort of destruction.
Taehyung runs his fingers over the ruined paper for a moment before taking the letter out. “And the better news?”
Jimin grins. “The better news is that I’m always right.”
It’s a wedding invitation.
Black and sleek and very at odds with the happy blue envelope. The calligraphy on the front is so fancy that it’s hard to read, and when he opens it up he’s still slightly confused until he sees the ridiculous picture of Yoongi and Hoseok in front of the Statue of Liberty, both wearing cheesy tourist hats and grinning cutely.
You are formally invited to the wedding of Min Yoongi and Jung Hoseok.
The envelope is bright and the invite is sleek and the picture is ridiculous and nothing fits together except for Yoongi and Hoseok and suddenly Taehyung is grinning because it’s finally happening.
“It took them long enough,” he says, still looking at the letter.
“Three years, almost,” Jimin agrees, rolling his eyes. “Seems like a really long time to wait for true love.” He shrugs. “But I said it was going to happen and it is, so clearly I’m a prophet.”
“Clearly.” Taehyung inspects the card more closely. “It says it’s a formal invite but there’s no date or anything?”
“Yoongi-hyung’s mom probably got really excited,” Jimin tells him, giggling into his hand. “They got engaged and had them send out invites to let everyone know.”
“Hasn’t she heard of Facebook?”
“If Yoongi-hyung had a Facebook it would be only pictures of Hoseok and videos of his dog.”
Taehyung’s heart wants to burst. “Their dogs.”
Jimin blinks at him. “Their dogs.” He bumps Taehyung’s shoulder with his own. “Their dogs. A cute little family.”
Prince Phillip is lying nearby on the garden path and Taehyung reaches out to pet him with this toes. “Not as cute as ours.” Phillip’s fur is warm under Taehyung’s feet. The dog gives a happy sigh, nuzzling his nose between his paws and Taehyung wants to coo at their child. “We should take family Christmas photos.”
“Isn’t it better to be prepared?”
Jimin leans his head on Taehyung’s shoulder. “Can we have fake snow, then? It’s not Christmas without snow.”
Taehyung leans his head on Jimin’s. “We can buy ugly sweaters online.”
Jimin laughs, squirming a little, but when Taehyung moves his head to grant his escape Jimin remains where he is. “We can get one for Phillip. Or a Santa hat.”
“Let’s decorate the living room like a snow globe.”
“Ah!” Jimin jerks his head up, his hair brushing Taehyung’s cheek, and Taehyung kind of wishes he would have stayed. But his hand grabs Taehyung’s thigh in excitement and Taehyung has to work really hard to focus on what Jimin is saying to him. “Doesn’t your grandmother knit?”
Taehyung grins. “She’d love that, honestly.” He knows exactly how that conversation would go down. His grandma loves a good joke, and Christmas, and Taehyung, and also Jimin. She loves Jimin the fierce way one can only love the people they considering their own family. “She’d even make yours the ugliest.”
“Would she really?” Jimin is genuinely delighted. He reaches down to rub Phillip’s back excitedly. “You hear that, buddy?” Phillip looks back at him, tail thumping curiously. Jimin grins and Taehyung’s heart flutters. “We’re going to get you a sweater.”
Phillip will probably hate it, but Jimin is so happy about it that the dog is also happy about it.
Taehyung is happy about it, too.
He watches Jimin and their child wrestle for a moment, lots of pats and play fighting and dog hair everywhere, before Jimin slides back onto the bench, reaching down to grab one of the bottles of juice. He opens the lid and hands is to Taehyung. Their fingers brush. Taehyung is very aware of it. Pays close attention to the feeling every time it happens.
Let’s himself cherish it.
A small gift to himself.
Their thighs are pressed together and their fingers are brushing and Taehyung is happy and in love.
A nice feeling. Familiar.
A couple of years ago he would be bursting at the seams, would want to scream it from the rooftops, but he’s at home with this feeling now. It doesn’t buzz under his skin any more. It’s settled in his bones. Seeped into his pores. Taken over the way his heart beats. Deep and intrinsic.
Taehyung is warm.
His leg is shaking, heel thumping against the brick pavement, because he’s happy, and that feeling isn’t buzzy any more but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel the thrill of it.
Jimin places his hand on Taehyung’s knee until it stills. “You’ll make me spill my juice,” Jimin pouts, lower lip jutting out outrageously.
Taehyung bops him on the nose. “Anything for you, my jewel.”
“The light of my life.”
Jimin rolls his eyes.
“My sun, my moon, my stars.”
“My one and only.”
Jimin laughs harder. “That one, I’ll accept.” He elbows Taehyung lightly.
Taehyung wants Jimin to accept them all, but he won’t ask for anything more than Jimin is willing to give.
Jimin has taken to waking up early to go running.
The weather is nice recently, and there is a path that goes through the gardens and into the valley behind their house that’s really nice, and Jimin seems to get restless if he doesn’t tire himself out before the day even starts.
At least, that’s what Taehyung thinks.
Jimin has been getting up earlier and earlier, because there seems to be more and more to do once the sun really comes up. Shortly after they got the invitation, they got a video call from Hoseok. It’s always nice to hear from him. He’d left his position about a year ago, to go live with Yoongi, and both Taehyung and Jimin miss him terribly.
Hoseok got Yoongi on the phone, a feat in and of itself, and the four of them sat down and talked together, and Taehyung doesn’t know if he’s ever seen two people more in love. They bickered as they propped the phone up and they clung together once they settled down and Taehyung thought he might need sunglasses to look at them, they were beaming so brightly, if the quality of the video wasn’t so shitty.
“We don’t really know what we want for the wedding,” Hoseok told them, all fluttering hands. “Well, Yoongi-hyung says he wants what I want, so.” He laughs. “I don’t know what we want for the wedding.”
It was very clear that Yoongi wasn’t paying attention. He was just grinning into Hoseok’s shoulder, face red, peeking up to look at the ring on Hoseok’s finger, comparing it to the ring on his own. Like he couldn’t believe it.
If Taehyung held Jimin a little closer and let himself be a little more in love than usual, no one said anything about it.
Jimin certainly didn’t. Jimin inched closer, tangled their legs together, physically moved Taehyung’s arm around his shoulders so that he could fit into Taehyung’s side more comfortably.
Taehyung stared at the way Jimin’s lashes fluttered against his cheek each time he blinked.
He remembers seeing his phone go off.
He remembers what it said.
You’re married already.
Just kiss him.
Taehyung wants to. He really wants to. Wanted to then, wants to now.
But he can’t.
So he held Jimin a closer, a little tighter, and reveled in his hyungs being in love.
The conversation ended with them offering up their home for the wedding (“Since it’s the first place you met!” Jimin had said, squirmed in excitement. “How romantic would that be, Tae?”) and their hyungs wanted to take some time to think about it but Taehyung knew they were going to say yes from the way Yoongi went to reach for Hoseok’s hand.
They call back two days later to talk details.
The following madness has been a delight.
Taehyung and Jimin both love weddings, and they love Yoongi and Hoseok, so putting the two together fills the whole house with something vibrant and alive. The staff seems to be just as swept up in it, planning meals and decorations. Hoseok’s friend is designing their suits, a fashionable young man named Kibum who lives a town over from Taehyung and Jimin. When they met him he was all sharp edges and snark, and now he’s still all sharp edges and snark but he plays fetch with Phillip and teaches Jungkook how to tie a tie.
Jimin spends most of his free time talking with the staff about the wedding arrangements, calling Hoseok and Yoongi to confirm details, visiting Sehun and Soojung at the flower shop in town to talk about the prices, trying to match color swatches exactly. Taehyung joins him almost all the time, especially when they go to town, and Taehyung will swing by Luhan’s cafe and tell him a fact about Minseok in return for a discounted coffee price, and he’ll hand Jimin his drink with a smile. Jimin will always, every single time, buy a flower just to tuck behind Taehyung’s ear.
“You remind me of sunflowers the most,” he’ll say. “But I don’t think your ears are big enough anymore to hold one.”
It’s always the same flower, pink, small, lots of petals. Jimin always places it delicately over Taehyung’s ear.
He asked Sehun what it was.
Sehun had smiled, small and secret and annoying. “Camellia.” Soojung snickered behind him.
They refused to tell him what it meant.
Taehyung looked it up on his own.
It had taken a full hour to remind himself that Jimin probably had picked that flower by chance.
His heart beats a little faster every time he thinks about it.
He isn’t sure why his heart is beating faster now, with the sun still barely even considering opening it’s eyes, and Jimin leaning over him, trying to pull his arm out from under Taehyung without waking him up.
Taehyung’s eyes are still fluttering open, and even in his haze he can still see the guilt flashing clearly over Jimin’s face. “We’ve got to stop meeting like this,” Taehyung croaks, voice thick and deep with sleep.
Jimin’s voice is no better. “Sorry,” he says, pulling his arm the rest of the way out and using his newly freed hand to brush some stray hair out of Taehyung’s face.
Taehyung holds Jimin’s hand there for a moment, trying to gather his brain from where it’s scattered during the night. He wiggles his toes and feels Phillip sleeping at his feet. Family bonding. “Where you going?” He yawns through it, but Jimin understands.
“Alone?” He wants Jimin to come back. Jimin is warm. He wants to cuddle. “Let’s cuddle instead. You, me, and our child.”
“We cuddled all night.”
“Just let me be close to you,” Taehyung whines, and it’s supposed to be overly dramatic but if it’s a little too close to home then, well, Taehyung is sleepy and it’s allowed.
Jimin laughs quietly. “You could always come running with me.”
He always asks, every time he accidentally wakes Taehyung up. And every time Taehyung laughs and says, “Maybe next time,” because Taehyung doesn’t run.
“I’ll go with you.”
Jimin blinks. “What?”
“If you cuddle with me for half an hour, I’ll go running with you.” In half an hour, it will still be way too early, and Taehyung will definitely regret this decision, but that’s okay. It will probably be worth it.
For a moment, Jimin is still, poised above him, debating. And then he smiles, shaking his head in disbelief. “You won’t get up.”
Jimin tickles under Taehyung’s chin playfully. “You’ll seduce me with cuddles and then neither of us will get up.”
“Slander.” Although that is definitely something Taehyung has done before and will do again. “Set an alarm. Half an hour.”
The hand under Taehyung’s chin turns his face towards Jimin. “And then we run?”
“And then we run,” Taehyung agrees through a yawn.
“Pinky promise.” Jimin holds up his pinky.
Taehyung links his with his husband’s. “I promise.”
“Then I accept. Cuddles for companionship.”
“No four syllable words until the sun’s up.”
And Jimin giggles, slipping back under the covers and molding himself against Taehyung’s back, and Taehyung pulls Jimin’s arm around his waist, and they breathe together.
There’s a reason why Taehyung never goes running and it’s not because he just wants to sleep.
That is a reason, but it’s not The Reason.
The Reason is that Jimin would leave him in the dust.
Taehyung isn’t as scrawny as he once was, certainly has grown into himself since he met Jimin, as any 17-year-old should as he ages to a lovely 23. His ears don’t stick out as much. His limbs are significantly less gangly. He looks less like a kid. Sharper. He can admire his face in the mirror some days, when he’s feeling particular confident.
Even if he doesn’t look quite as much like a noodle, it still doesn’t mean he has the sort of muscle mass Jimin does.
A lot of that is simply because Jimin puts a lot of effort into his whole body. Jimin is also naturally more muscular, more compact, built sturdy and solid, and Taehyung has to work hard sometimes to fill out his frame. He delights in being bigger and broader, but they both know Jimin could take him down if he really wanted to.
Jimin runs, and lifts, and stretches, and conditions, and Taehyung is happy to work to get himself where he’d like to be and no further. He can run fine, he’s done it before, but he strongly suspects that Jimin is working his way up to a marathon and Taehyung isn’t about that life.
But when the alarm that Jimin set goes off and Taehyung forces himself out of bed and Jimin practically puts his shoes on for him, Jimin doesn’t take off. It’s warm, even with the sun down, and Jimin matches Taehyung’s pace, a gentle rhythm on the pavement as they make their way around the house, back to the garden, past the fountains and flowers.
Taehyung knows that Jimin could leave him in the dust, but it’s nice that he doesn’t.
He is, however, a little pissy that Jimin’s barely out of breath when Taehyung feels two steps from coughing up a lung.
It’s not a shock to anyone, but Taehyung keeps going anyway. He refuses to be the one who makes them stop.
A water break would be nice.
They have an easy sort of silence, even though Taehyung’s chest feels a little tight, and the weather is nice and the path is a pretty one, the sky all orange and gold as the sun comes up. Taehyung hasn’t been out and about before sunrise in awhile.
“There’s a bench up here,” Jimin says, a little sweaty and gross looking but in much better shape that Taehyung. “We can stop for water and then go back, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Taehyung manages, and his throat is very dry. “Good plan.”
Taehyung flops down onto the bench, an old wooden one with metal armrests that looks both out of place and right at home in the middle of the wooded running path, and Taehyung relates. He and this bench are going to be good friends. They are the same.
“It’s a beautiful day,” Jimin is saying, and Taehyung has to physically force himself to focus on Jimin’s words because he feels a little like he’s dying.
“Water,” Taehyung answers, taking a very long drink. “Is this what death feels like?”
“I wouldn’t know, seeing as I’m very much alive.”
“Good,” Taehyung mumbles. His head lolls slightly to the left. His hair is sticking to his neck and forehead. “I’m glad you’re alive.”
Jimin sits down next to Taehyung on the bench, significantly less gross and floppy and splayed out. “I’m glad we’re alive together.” He doesn’t mind putting his arm around Taehyung’s extremely sweaty shoulders or pushing his nose into Taehyung’s hair. “You need a shower.”
The breath from Jimin’s laugh tickles Taehyung’s ear. “Only a mile left to go and then a shower.”
Taehyung groans, slumping even more in the bench. “A mile? Still?”
“Yep.” Jimin pauses. “A little less than. Back the way we came.” He takes a drink from his water bottle, something dark blue and professional looking. Taehyung watches his throat move as he drinks. “We can walk some of the way.”
“Doesn’t that defeat the point of going for a run?” Taehyung asks. “Otherwise it’s just going for a walk.”
“If you’re being a smart ass it means you don’t need to sit any longer.” Jimin stands up, brushing some nonexistent dirt off of the back of his pants, and the newly risen sun makes him glow.
Taehyung makes grabby hands. “Carry me.”
“Bitch, please.” Jimin does, however, grab Taehyung’s hands and hoist him to his feet, using all of his body weight for leverage. It’s cute. “You’re a giant.”
“I’m your loving husband.”
“You’d carry Jungkookie!”
Jimin scoffs. “Not a mile!” He reaches over and absently pulls Taehyung’s sweaty shirt away from where it’s clinging to his skin. Taehyung feels the cool air blowing up through the fabric but he also feels rather warm. “Besides, Jungkookie is like, 5 pounds. A scrawny 11-year-old boy who would probably rather admit to treason than ask for a piggyback ride.”
“Oh, please,” Taehyung says. He’s recovered enough that he can run and be annoying at the same time. “He’d love a piggyback ride from you. His precious hyung.”
Jimin veers into Taehyung’s path just to be annoying too. “My precious dongsaeng.” He sighs wistfully. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about his offer to be my husband instead and have you sleep in his room. I should have taken it. How foolish I have been.”
“That was years ago. He’s probably changed his mind.”
“Missed opportunity.” Jimin laughs, more a huff than a noise. “You’re not so bad, though. Even if you can’t run.”
Taehyung wiggles his eyebrows. “I can run into your arms.”
“Shower first, please.”
“Okay.” Taehyung smiles, and he only regrets going out with Jimin a little bit. “First the shower, then the running into your arms.”
Jimin runs a hand through his hair, pushing it back off of his forehead. He grins. Taehyung takes a second just to admire him. He’s so bright. The sun rose twice this morning. “I can’t wait."
There’s a reason why Taehyung never goes running but, at this moment, he seems to have forgotten it.
Taehyung stares at the box in his hands. “Are you sure about this?”
“Well, it’s too late now, isn’t it?” Jimin says, and there’s an edge to his voice that means he’s nervous. He tugs at the ends of his hair, an ugly straw blond that Taehyung thinks Jimin could make work if he wanted to. Jimin goes cross-eyed staring at it. “I can’t keep it like this. I’ve committed.”
“Mostly, I mean are you sure you want me to do this instead of going to a salon?” Taehyung laughs, opening the box. “I don’t know why you didn’t just have them do it when we got it bleached.”
“You’re supposed to like…” Jimin runs a hand through his hair and grimaces. “Let it rest, or something? So it doesn’t hate you.” He sighs. He’s wearing an old tank top, that gross one with the hole in the seam right under the armpit, sitting on top of the seat of their toilet. He takes the box from Taehyung’s hand and reads the back. “This is going to be a disaster. I’m a disaster.”
“It would be less of a disaster if you just went back to the salon.”
Jimin looks up at him. It’s still weird, seeing the blond color on him instead of the black. A little out of place. Even though Taehyung knows it’s just a transition, it’s still hard to accept. He’s known Jimin for six years now. This is a different Jimin. “Didn’t you say you’ve done this before?”
Taehyung grunts affirmatively, putting on the gloves. There was a maid, back home, who would ask Taehyung for help whenever she needed to do her hair, and he did it for some of her friends sometimes, too. He has good hands, they said, like that matters.
Jimin bites his lower lip. “Orange.” The color on the box is a soft red. Different and new. Jimin scrunches his face up. “This is a terrible decision.”
Taehyung laughs. “And yet.” He mixes the dye and motions for Jimin to put the ratty old towel over his shoulders.
He had been surprised when Jimin asked if he would dye his hair for him. “I trust you,” Jimin had said, and Taehyung had snorted.
“Trust the hairdressers more.”
“Yeah but.” They’d been at the store. Jimin’s fingers brushed over the box of hair dye on the shelf. “I want you to do it.”
So here they are.
“Be gentle,” Jimin says suggestively, overly delicately, that edge of nervousness still right there but carefully hidden.
Taehyung doesn’t point it out. He just massages the back of his husband’s head for a moment. “Always.”
Jimin snorts. “You’re wiggling your eyebrows, I know that you are.”
He is. “I’d never.”
The hair dye mixes a bloody red. Taehyung sees Jimin frowning at the bottle, but they picked out a color with Sowon, their usual hairdresser, and she says this brand is true to the label, so Taehyung runs a gloved hand through Jimin’s hair again. “We can always dye it back if you hate it.”
Jimin takes a deep breath. “We can always dye it back if I hate it.” His nose scrunches up. It’s cute.
Right when Taehyung is about to squeeze the dye into Jimin’s hair, Jimin speaks again. “What if Yoongi-hyung hates it and won’t let me be his best man?”
Taehyung snorts. “Please. He dyed his hair fucking green, he has no room to judge.” He rests his wrists on Jimin’s shoulders, the sound of the plastic gloves crinkling as he leans down to set his chin on Jimin’s head. “Besides, you’re basically organizing his wedding. If he kicks you out of best manship because you look like a carrot, I’ll fight for your honor.”
“A carrot!” Jimin jerks up and if Taehyung didn’t know to lift his head just in time, his jaw would have been slammed shut.
Taehyung snickers. “I’ll love you either way.”
“Stop this.” Jimin grabs Taehyung’s sleeve. His fingers clench tight in the fabric. “Encourage me. Don’t tease.”
“I’m not.” Taehyung leans over a little further and kisses Jimin’s forehead. “You’ll look great no matter what.”
Jimin slumps back against him. Taehyung can feel him breathe. “Okay.” His voice is small but the edge is gone.
His shoulders are tense again when he sees the color of the dye in his hair while they let it sit, but Taehyung sits him down and they watch television and he tells Jimin about that time when he was little that his mom put green hair spray in his hair for Halloween and Taehyung cried because he thought it would stay forever.
“My mom is going to freak when we FaceTime next,” Jimin notes when Taehyung leads him back into the bathroom.
“Your dad will like it, though.”
Jimin laughs. “He always wanted me to dye it.” He goes to run his hand through his hair and stops himself just in time. “Do I just...shower now?”
“I was going to rinse it out for you but you can do either.” Taehyung starts running the water in the bath.
It’s a moment before he realized Jimin had answered. He turns around and Jimin looks like he’s thinking really hard.
It’s quiet. “You can do it,” he says, finally. Like he’s admitting to something. He bites his lip. “I want you to do it.”
Taehyung smiles. “Okay.”
If Taehyung takes a little longer massaging Jimin’s head once the water comes clear, it’s not a big deal. If the way Jimin melts at the touch of his hands makes his heart swell, that’s no one’s business but his own. If he takes a little more pleasure in drying Jimin’s hair than is strictly necessary, there’s no one here to judge him.
If the way Jimin looks once his hair is done makes Taehyung’s heart stop, well.
That’s nothing new.
There hasn’t been a single day where Taehyung regretted being married to Jimin. Not even at the beginning, not even when they’re fighting, not even when he thinks about being in love by himself forever. Because he can’t imagine spending the last six years without Jimin. He can’t imagine spending the rest of forever without Jimin. Even before he settled into his feelings, a world without Jimin was hard to fathom. He lived without him for 17 years. Another 60 years sounds like too much to ask.
So no, Taehyung has never regretted it.
Not for a second.
But it’s hard, sometimes.
It’s hard when Jimin is himself and that person is everything Taehyung has ever wanted. He thinks back to the beginning, when Jimin worried that Taehyung would grow tired of him, or annoyed with him, and all of that seems so impossible now. Jimin is a different person now than he was then, in the way that a teenager grows into something almost like a man, and Taehyung has grown, too. Different. It just happens, all the time, to everyone. People grow, usually in different directions.
Jimin and Taehyung have grown together.
Taehyung wants to hold Jimin’s hand, so he does.
Taehyung wants to kiss Jimin’s cheek, so he does.
Taehyung wants to love Jimin forever, and he doesn’t think there is a single thing on this earth that could stop him from doing so.
But Jimin doesn’t love him in the same way, and that’s okay.
He doesn’t regret falling either.
He’s okay loving alone.
Jimin is worth that.
It doesn’t mean it’s easy, all the time, because Jimin is Jimin and Taehyung doesn’t think it’s impossible for Jimin to love him back but Taehyung would never ask for more than he’s given. For three years, Taehyung has known that he’s in love, and everyday he’s grateful.
The love comes in waves, always there, but sometimes it’s manageable and sometimes Taehyung feels like he’s drowning in it. It’s overwhelming, all consuming, and he feels like he has the sun in his stomach and he has to stop himself from exploding.
Soft love or consuming love, his feelings are the same. Steady. Unmoving.
He would never want to get rid of them.
But when he’s keeping himself from exploding, and he can’t talk with Jimin, his best friend, where is he supposed to put the sun? Hold it in his hands and hope it doesn’t burn?
Today was an overwhelming day.
Not because of anything Jimin did, but just because of who Jimin is.
Sometimes, that’s just a lot.
Kyungsoo flips on the light. “Hello?”
Taehyung looks up at him from the floor. “Hello.” His breathing is still shuddery but he’s not crying anymore.
The kitchen floor isn’t the most ideal place to have a breakdown in the middle of the night, but he didn’t think anyone would find him here, so it seemed as good a place as any. He tries to even out his breathing. He wipes his eyes with the sleeves of his oversized shirt. His knees are pulled into his chest. He feels very small.
Kyungsoo is wearing slippers and a huge fluffy robe and his eyebrows are knit so tightly together Taehyung expects them to produce a pair of baby booties at any given moment. He laughs a little at the image. It comes out watery, more like a gurgle.
“Been here a while?” Kyungsoo asks, leaning against the island.
“I don’t know,” Taehyung says, laughing a little. “What time is it?”
Taehyung sighs, letting his head fall back against the cupboards. “Then yeah,” he says. “I’ve been here a while.”
He’d tried to go to bed, but it’s weird how he can’t think when he needs to and when he doesn’t, like when he wants to sleep, suddenly he can’t stop. Thinking and thinking and thinking and trying not to explode. It’s exhausting.
And yet. He’s awake.
Kyungsoo hums sympathetically, toe tapping against the tile the way that it does when he’s trying to figure out what to say. “Are you hungry?”
Taehyung laughs again. “Hungry?”
“Isn’t that a thing?” Kyungsoo tries to think of the word. “Comfort food?”
“Comfort food.” Taehyung looks at Kyungsoo fondly with tired eyes, smiling softly. He looks like a mess, he’s sure, red eyes and puffy cheeks and snotty nose. He’s still sniffling a little. He’s trying to do it strategically so that Kyungsoo won’t mention it. “That is in fact a thing.”
“Do you want me to make you pancakes?”
“Ah—” Taehyung blinks. His heart feels heavy. “No. No pancakes.” The last thing he needs is to think about Jimin.
There is a heavy sigh above him, and when Taehyung pulls himself out of his own head he sees Kyungsoo sliding down to sit on the floor across from him, delicately placing his slippered feet on either side of Taehyung’s bare ones. “You’re never going to tell him, are you?”
“Tell who what?” Taehyung blinks at him, but he can’t even act innocent when his thoughts are written all over his damn face. He wipes his nose with his sleeve again.
“You’ve been in love with him for how long?” Kyungsoo asks. His hair is sticking up in the back. He cut it short recently, for ease, but right now it looks kind of funny.
Taehyung doesn’t want to think about his question.
“I don’t know,” he answers softly. “Six years, maybe.” He bangs his knees together absently, rhythmically, trying to get the jitters out. “Three years, definitely.”
For long moment, Taehyung knows Kyungsoo is just looking at him, searching for something Taehyung knows he’ll be able to find because Taehyung has never felt more vulnerable than right now, on the floor, avoiding his hyung’s eyes because he’s tired of the truth staring him in the face.
“That long, and you still won’t tell him?” Kyungsoo sounds tired too.
Taehyung thinks, thinks, and thinks some more, but he’s thought about this enough. He shakes his head, smiling. “I don’t want to...make him...I don’t want to push him into anything.” Push Jimin away or push Jimin into loving him. Both of those options make Taehyung feel hollow inside. “This is enough. I’m okay with this much."
Kyungsoo stares at him blankly. “Okay,” he repeats pointedly.
“Okay, listen, I know that I was crying on the kitchen floor, but I really am okay. I’ll be...better in the morning.” Taehyung leans forward urgently. “I don’t need him to love me that way. I don’t need it. It’s just.” His mouth twists, trying to find the word. “It’s hard.” His whole body slumps. He feels Kyungsoo’s hand pat his shoulder. He’s thankful.
“You’re an idiot.”
The sound Taehyung makes is barely human, somewhere between a surprised squawk and a laugh. “Probably.” It wasn’t the response he had been expecting, but hell if Taehyung doesn’t agree.
Kyungsoo is scowling. “You’re both idiots.”
“We’re soulmates. It fits.” They fit.
Silence. Thinking. “I hate this.” Kyungsoo covers his eyes. “You’re both ridiculous and I’m tired.”
Taehyung frowns. “You can just go to bed, hyung, if you’re tired.”
“That’s not…” Kyungsoo laughs, almost bitter. “Unbelievable. You’re exhausting.”
“My mom says that about me, too.” A joke. Jokes are funny. Taehyung is fine. He grins. It’s a little watery but otherwise fine.
And he is. He will be. Fine. Great, even.
In the morning.
He wishes it was Jimin talking to him right now. Jimin would drag him off to their room and force him to sleep and cling to him and tell him a joke and kiss his shoulder and they’d talk until Taehyung’s eyes started to droop.
And when he woke up he’d be in love.
Taehyung can’t think of a better way to spend a morning.
“This is enough.” And it is. All he needs is Jimin. Jimin is enough.
“Bullshit.” It’s not aggressive. Incredulous, but not aggressive.
“It is,” Taehyung insists with a laugh. “Contrary to what the current situation might imply, he makes me really happy. Just like this.” He loves Jimin, and he has forever to love him, and if Jimin loves Taehyung forever the way he loves Taehyung now, then Taehyung is content with that.
Kyungsoo hands him a tissue. Taehyung is crying again. Just a little. “Why is it so hard?” he asks, laughing. He runs a hand down his face. “He’s my husband, so why is this so hard?”
Taehyung wipes his eyes, crumpling the tissue up in his hands with an over exaggerated sniff.
“The only people making this hard are you two,” Kyungsoo says flatly. “It’s easy if you let it be easy.”
“Eh.” With a sigh, Taehyung leans back against the island. “It’ll be easier in the morning.”
Kyungsoo stares at him, the way he stares when he’s trying to make sense of something because he’s blind and refuses to wear glasses. Taehyung feels like he’s being peeled apart. He smiles reassuringly, but Kyungsoo just shakes his head. “You’re really never going to tell him.”
It’s not a question.
Taehyung doesn’t bother answering.
“Think you’re going to stay here for a while?” Kyungsoo asks, standing up. He’s creaky and tired and Taehyung wonders what he’s doing out of bed at this time of night.
“Probably.” He doesn’t really feel like he’s ready to sleep. “I might make hot chocolate or something.”
With a grunt, Kyungsoo makes for the door.
“Will you turn off the light?” So that Taehyung can be emotional alone in the dark because that’s just what feels right.
Taehyung turns to look at Kyungsoo, who is waving nonchalantly over his shoulder as he walks out the door. “Don’t move.”
“Oh.” Taehyung laughs. “Okay, hyung.” Even though Kyungsoo can’t hear him anymore.
Maybe it’s a good thing Kyungsoo left the lights on, because now the world is clicking back into place and he’s able to start orienting himself again. Collect his puzzle pieces up off of the floor and push them gently back into place.
When Kyungsoo comes back, Taehyung can almost make out the picture.
He isn’t expecting Kyungsoo to thrust a piece of paper into his hands. “Um, I don’t need another tissue that badly,” Taehyung tells him mildly.
Kyungsoo doesn’t take it back, just humphs and turns on the stove. “You’re reading that and I’m making you hot chocolate.”
“I’m your boss,” Taehyung answers, just to be contrary, even as he’s unfolding the piece of paper with careful fingers.
The handwriting is awfully familiar.
“I’m the boss,” Kyungsoo says shortly, digging around to get the ingredients out of the pantry. “Now listen to your hyung. For once.”
Taehyung barely hears him.
He’s barely breathing.
It’s a list. A neat list in neat handwriting with two columns, one labeled Pros and one labeled Cons, and on the page in familiar handwriting someone has written out every weird thing Taehyung does. His name isn’t on it, isn’t written anywhere, but someone’s written out all of his little things and who else could it be?
His feet are always freezing and he likes to put them on my bare skin when we sleep.
He does this thing with his tongue that’s really annoying.
He always knows when I’m sad.
Taehyung knows what this is, probably, but his brain doesn’t seem to be able to process it. He’s too tired, his heart is beating too hard, the truth is staring him in the face but he can’t believe it because...he doesn’t know why. Because it seems right outside the line of possibility.
But he’s holding this list in his hands and he doesn’t know if a piece of paper has even had so much weight.
He talks with his mouth full when we eat.
He always knows what I need.
He always beats me at every game.
He’s good with kids and it makes me want to cry.
He gets his jokes from the internet and they're all memes from 6 months ago.
He’s my best friend.
He doesn’t clean up his side of the room, ever.
When I ask him to clean up his stuff, he does, and he never complains.
Taehyung doesn’t really notice Kyungsoo holding the mug of hot chocolate out to him, barely registers anything except for the words on the page. Takes the drink absently. Holds it close to his chest for the comfort. Doesn’t even realize he should say thank you.
Kyungsoo doesn’t mind.
He puts shit on the top shelf so I have to ask him to reach it for me or else I have to use the bedazzled step stool he got me for my birthday and I refuse.
He’s dumb and I hate him.
He’s dumb just to make me laugh.
His eyebrows move so much and it’s distracting.
“What is this?” Taehyung asks. The words get caught in his throat and it comes out like a whisper, quiet and soft and small. The mug feels warm in his hand. The paper is wrinkling from where he’s gripping it so hard.
The Cons side is empty.
Everything is under Pros.
“Proof that you’re both idiots,” Kyungsoo says, tired and fond.
Taehyung reads the last one and his heart stops. His puzzle pieces are all in the right place but now he’s finally looking at the full picture.
I love him.
“This kitchen has seen plenty of breakdowns about being in unrequited love with your husband,” Kyungsoo says, wiping his hands off with the kitchen towel. “And not all of them have been yours.”
Taehyung folds up the paper, half, half, half, careful of the creases. He holds it out to the cook.
“Keep it.” Kyungsoo throws the towel on the island and yawns. “A reminder. I’m going to bed. Unlike some people I can’t be awake at all hours of the night.”
“Morning,” Taehyung corrects, but he’s still staring at the little square of notebook paper in his hand. His hot chocolate is cold but he feels warm.
“Isn’t it morning, now?” It’s after four. The sun is closer to coming up than going down. It feels like morning.
Kyungsoo smiles. “Feel better?”
His throat is tight but Taehyung refuses to cry again. “Yeah.” He laughs. His eyes feel a bit watery but he’s not crying. “Yeah. I do.”
“Should I turn the light off?” Kyungsoo asks, going towards the door again.
Taehyung can’t stop smiling. “No.”
He wants to explode but it doesn’t hurt anymore.
He’s drowning and he’s in love.
When he goes back to their bedroom, he’s still in love, and Jimin is awake.
“I saw you were gone,” Jimin says, voice surprisingly clear considering how late it is. His hair is sticking up on one side, and there are creases from the pillow pressed into one of his cheeks. The dog is splayed out over his lap and his small fingers are buried in Phillip’s fur. “I texted Kyungsoo to go find you. I…” knew it was about me. Because even if Jimin doesn’t know his thoughts, doesn’t know why, he knows Taehyung. Knows everything about him.
Taehyung is in love.
And he’s in good company.
He wants to scream, he’s so happy.
“That was awhile ago,” he says instead. “Have you been up this whole time?”
“I…” Jimin yawns, bringing one hand up to cover his mouth and petting the dog with the other. “I wanted to make sure you were okay first.” He reaches over and turns down the covers on Taehyung’s side of the bed. The dog wakes up when Jimin moves and stands to take his traditional spot at the foot of the bed. “Come on. I’ll let you be the big spoon.”
Taehyung whistles low. “An honor.”
“You don’t deserve it,” Jimin pouts and Taehyung slides into bed beside him. “For worrying me.” Jimin picks up Taehyung’s arm and pulls it around his waist
For a moment, Taehyung has the chance to just breathe, in out in out, and he feels Jimin settling into his hold, and everything is right where it should be. It’s the first time in a long time he feels like he can hold Jimin as tightly as he wants.
Jimin let’s him.
“Are you okay?” he hears Jimin whisper after a moment, quiet.
He kisses the back of Jimin’s head. “I am now, yeah.”
Jimin presses back against him. “Good.”
They slot together, easy and familiar and perfect, and this is the picture that Taehyung sees in his puzzle pieces.
The wedding is a big affair.
Not big in the way that it’s overly decorated and ornate and bustling, but there are a lot of people, and there is a lot of happiness, and Taehyung is happy to be a part of it.
He loves weddings. There’s something about them, an intrinsic level of contentment when everything is up and going and planned and smooth and all that’s left, after the running around and the organizing, is the love. That’s cheesy and Taehyung is ashamed of himself, but that’s what he feels.
It’s the first time in a long time that Taehyung has attended a big event without a date by his side, but when Jimin walks down the aisle, orange hair and sleek tuxedo, Taehyung doesn’t mind because Jimin looks as happy as he ever has. They make eye contact and Jimin somehow grows brighter.
Taehyung’s stomach flutters with butterflies.
He sticks his tongue out as Jimin passes him.
It’s a good feeling.
They’ve been to plenty of weddings together since they’ve been married. Plenty of affairs where the lovely couple must present themselves in their Sunday Best. Meetings and balls and dinners and weddings.
But this one feels different.
It’s different than anything Taehyung has ever experienced because Taehyung knows exactly how much Yoongi loves Hoseok and exactly how much Hoseok loves Yoongi and there’s a part of him that wants to burst into tears but it’s fine, he’s fine. He can’t be a public embarrassment today, it’s not happening.
There’s a moment when the grooms are standing on either side of the altar, saying their vows, when Taehyung flashes back to his own wedding.
“It’s weird, isn’t it?” Jimin had said that morning, putting the final touches on some of the decorations in the garden. There were people hired to do that, but Jimin always liked to do more than necessary. “Think back to when we got married.”
Taehyung had grimaced. “I’d rather not.”
Jimin laughed, trailing off into a sigh. “Yeah.” He stepped down carefully from the ladder Taehyung was holding in place and kissed Taehyung’s cheek. “I like this a lot better.”
“I should hope so,” Taehyung said. “We’re six years in, I should hope you like me more now.”
The List is burning a hole in Taehyung’s pocket.
He keeps it with him. A reminder, like Kyungsoo said. A reminder that he needs to talk with Jimin. That he’s one talk away from being happier than he’s ever been. He’s still psyching himself up for asking the question.
He’s waited for a long time. He can wait a little longer.
But he isn’t sure he wants to.
When Yoongi and Hoseok kiss, Taehyung breaks his rule about being a public embarrassment and catcalls. The old woman that Taehyung thinks is Yoongi’s aunt frowns at him. He sees Jimin try to hide a laugh.
Hoseok is grinning, and even though it’s the evening and the sun is going down Yoongi looks at him like it’s risen again.
They’re in love and so is he.
Their ballroom rarely gets this much use.
They hold the occasional party, sure, and a dinner or two when necessary, but they’re simple people with simple pleasures and usually those include pizza and a movie.
But Taehyung has to admit that it looks good like this, covered in lights and flowers and draping fabric that makes the open space feel closer and homey. Yoongi hadn’t wanted to make much of a fuss, and Hoseok and Jimin had stayed up late several nights, planning and fussing. It turned out well. Taehyung hopes that Jimin is proud of himself.
Despite being a so-called recluse, Yoongi has enough friends to give Hoseok a run for his money. There are several people at this wedding that Taehyung is surprised to see, people of all ages from all sorts of corners of life, and everyone has good things to say. Taehyung recognizes a lot of Jimin’s family in attendance, his cousins much bigger than they were six years ago. There are just as many friends here as there is family. A lot of them Taehyung is meeting for the first time, and Taehyung thrives like he always does when there are new friends to be had.
Still, it’s nice to see a familiar face.
“Tired of dancing, hyung?” Taehyung teases when he places the shadow suddenly cast over him with a face.
Seokjin sits down at the table with a huff. “Dancing is tired of me,” he says with a grimace. “I’m too old for this.”
“You’re in the prime of your life,” Taehyung says, pouring the advisor a glass of water from the pitcher in front of them. “I saw the way you killed the Cha Cha Slide. You can’t fool me.”
“The benefits of regular exercise,” Seokjin retorts, taking the cup offered to him with a small thank you.
“I’ll remember that. I’m always looking for ways to improve my wedding dances. I don’t want to embarrass my husband and the dog.”
“Where is he?”
“Phillip is around here somewhere.”
Seokjin laughs, smoothing out his suit. “I meant your husband.”
“Ah.” Taehyung laughs, too. “He’s around, too. He went to get some snacks.” Jimin had found Taehyung immediately after the ceremony ended, pushed through the crowd to reach him. He’d linked their arms together, Phillip’s leash in hand, and demanded to be escorted.
“Whatever you say,” he’d replied.
Taehyung doesn’t remember a time he’s been happier.
“So.” Seokjin wipes his mouth delicately with a napkin and checks his hair in the camera of his phone. Not a hair is out of place. “Have you talked with him yet?” Seokjin looks at Taehyung primly out of the corner of his eye. “And I don’t mean the dog.”
Taehyung sighs. “Namjoon-hyung always has been a snitch.”
“Please.” Seokjin sets his phone back on the table. “Even if he wasn’t a snitch, do you really think I couldn’t have gotten it out of him. Besides.” He leans in closer. “I have eyes, don’t I? A child could tell that something is repressed."
“Hey!” Taehyung flicks water at him and doesn’t feel bad about it.
“Come, my child.” Seokjin bows his head in prayer. “I will advise you.”
“You’re Namjoon-hyung’s adviser, not mine,” Taehyung says, just to be belligerent. But he smiles, resting his cheek in his hand and propping his elbow on the table. “And who says you’re as qualified for matters of the heart as you are for politics?”
“‘Matters of the heart.’” Seokjin snorts. “My first bit of advice is to read fewer romance novels. No wonder you’re repressed.”
Taehyung groans. “Enough.” He flops back in his seat. “If you’re going to advise, than make it worth something.”
“I thought that was good advice.” Seokjin sniffs, but then he’s sitting forward in his chair and Taehyung feels like he’s talking to a different person. “So you haven’t talked with him?"
“Uh.” Taehyung gulps. The folded up piece of paper feels heavy in his pocket. “No.”
Seokjin squints at him. “Why not?"
“Because…" I’m afraid that it’s not real. “It’s not the right time.”
“When is it ever the right time?” Seokjin rolls his eyes. “Shouldn’t you create your own timing?”
Taehyung grimaces. “I’ll lay off the romance novels if you stop with the self-help books.”
“Respect your elders.” Seokjin dips his fingers in his cup and flicks water at Taehyung. It’s much more dignified when he does it. “All I’m saying is, haven’t you waited long enough?”
“Well. Yes.” Taehyung blinks. “I’m just a little worried about the fact that my life is going to change forever. It’s fine.” Because it will. Even knowing that Jimin loves him, taking that final step still feels like a big mountain
In reality it’s a small thing, one he knows he’ll get over, but the whole situation still seems so unexpected and Taehyung is worried that making one wrong move will have everything toppling down at his feet.
How many friends have tried to be more than friends and failed miserably?
Taehyung must have said that out loud.
“You’ve been crazy for him for how long?” The question is rhetorical so Taehyung keeps his mouth shut. “You live together. You’ve been in love with him for forever. It’s not like your feelings are shallow.”
They’re not shallow. Taehyung’s so deep in feelings that his feet can’t touch the bottom.
"If your relationship isn’t solid after six years, that would be it’s own problem.” Seokjin takes a mini quiche off of a passing waiter’s tray. “You should give yourselves more credit. Aren’t you soulmates or something?” He pops the food in his mouth. “These are really good.”
“I’ll tell Kyungsoo-hyung you think so.” Taehyung’s voice sounds far away.
He hears the sounds of crinkling plastic and looks down. “Lay’s chips?” he asks.
Jimin grins down at him. “My delicacy of choice as caterer.” He sits down on Taehyung’s other side, saying a short hello to Seokjin. “I had to sneak it in, though. Kyungsoo-hyung would have freaked out.”
Taehyung has a flashback to a conversation on an airplane and feels his cheeks warm. “How do you even remember that?”
“It’s one of the first real conversations we ever had, TaeTae,” Jimin says flatly, as serious as anything. “There are three 2-litres of soda in our fridge but don’t tell."
“What about the lemonade?” Taehyung asks.
"For people who are healthy.”
Slowly, Jimin’s face breaks into a grin as he drops the joke.
Seokjin raises both eyebrows at Taehyung.
“Do you want to dance?” Taehyung asks suddenly.
Someone else might be surprised by Taehyung’s abruptness, but Jimin knows him too well. “Sure.”
They both stand, Jimin offers Taehyung his arm, and the last thing Taehyung sees as they leave the table is Seokjin leaning over to take the bag of potato chips.
Taehyung would like to let himself believe that it’s a coincidence that the music softens the second that they both get to the dance floor, but he knows better. He sees the way Hoseok’s eyes widen, and he sees him whisper in Yoongi’s ear, and he sees Yoongi get up out of his seat and go talk to the DJ.
Jimin drags him by the hand to the middle of the floor, even as the DJ croons into the microphone. “We’re going to slow it down for a minute.”
When Jimin puts his arms around Taehyung’s neck and leans in close, Taehyung really doesn’t mind the meddling.
The first chords of the song start to play, and Jimin melts a little. Little Star. “A coincidence, huh?” He doesn’t sound surprised.
"Our song.” Taehyung smiles at him. Even pouting, Jimin looks happy. “They think they’re cute.”
Taehyung snorts. “They just got married.”
“Yeah, well, we have a dog.”
“Valid.” They’re already swaying together, and Jimin rests his head on Taehyung’s shoulder, laughter mellowing into something soft and pliable. Sweet and good. Jimin smells like strawberries and hair dye.
I can’t take my eyes off of you for a second. You’re so pretty. I feel like my breath will stop.
Jimin melts a little more, and it’s only then that Taehyung realizes he’s singing. An automatic reaction. It’s usually Jimin singing this song to him, but it feels right for it to be the other way around.
My two eyes, my world—You stole them all.
He feels Jimin take a big breath, suspiciously shuddery, and he sees Hoseok and Yoongi watching them in the corner, pretending to teach Jungkook the proper way to shuffle the fancy cards that are one of their wedding favors. Seokjin and Namjoon are drinking wine not far away, pretending like they aren’t watching at all and failing miserably.
Wheein and Hyejin, her friend from town, gossip as they dance together, and Wheein keeps shooting them pointed looks.
The song is still coming to a close when Taehyung whispers in Jimin’s ear. “I need to talk to you.”
They sway a little longer, after the music has died out, before Jimin silently nods his head. Taehyung feels it more than sees it.
Jimin pulls back for a moment and smiles, and it’s a weird smile but Taehyung thinks he likes it. “Maybe somewhere a little more private?” he suggests.
Junmyeon almost face plants trying to dance and spy on them at the same time.
“How convenient!” Taehyung grins, exaggeratedly offering his hand. Jimin delicately takes it, prim and proper. “I know just the place.”
There’s something so peaceful about the garden at night. Usually it’s quiet and still and the air is clean and it’s the nice kind of isolated, like you could reach out and grab someone’s hand if you wanted to.
It’s not as quiet or as still. The ballroom doors leading out into the yard are open, and the sounds of music mixing with people floats high and happy over the trees. There’s fabric everywhere, sheer white and carefully placed, and lights are wrapped around the branches. Everything shines
The garden has always been beautiful, but it feels like something out of a fairy tale.
Jimin is leading him out to their favorite bench, a little further in, and the low lighting on his hair makes him look warm. Taehyung squeezes his hand.
They can still hear the music, a small connection back to the real world, but once they sit down, all Taehyung can see is Jimin. It’s quiet and still and the air is clean and Taehyung doesn’t feel isolated at all.
Taehyung is in the process of counting Jimin’s eyelashes when he hears, “You wanted to talk?”
“Oh.” Taehyung takes a deep breath. “Yeah. Yeah, I did.” He clears his throat. “I do.” His fingers are knotted together, just like his stomach, and for something that’s supposed to be straight-forward, easy, it still seems like if he takes the wrong step everything will be ruined.
Jimin puts his hand over Taehyung’s. “Then talk.” Jimin is leaning in, close.
Taehyung stares into his eyes for too long. He feels a little breathless. “Give me...give me a second.”
With a hum, Jimin taps his fingers lightly against the skin of Taehyung’s hand, a waltz, like the music from the reception. One two three one two three one two three. Taehyung’s heartbeat settles into the rhythm.
Jimin is still humming.
“I love it when you sing,” Taehyung says wistfully, softly, almost a breath.
Jimin laughs a little. He keeps humming, resting his head on Taehyung’s shoulder.
“I love it when you kiss my shoulder,” Taehyung tells him. “I love it when you take forever in the bathroom and make us late.”
Surprised, Jimin snorts. “A weird thing to love.”
“But I do.” Taehyung has never been more earnest in his life. “I love it. I love the way you take care of me, even when I don’t need you to.”
“I’ll always take care of you, Tae,” Jimin says. The crease between his eyebrows means that he’s confused, but even in the dim light Taehyung can see the blush creeping up Jimin’s neck and over his cheeks.
Taehyung wants to kiss him.
“I love the way you nag at me when the paperwork doesn’t get done,” he says instead. “And I love the way you always join in when I’m being dumb, even if it’s just to encourage me.” His heart is beating so loud he thinks Jimin can probably hear it.
Jimin’s hand has stopped tapping, there’s no more humming, and Taehyung feels like they’re both holding their breath. Jimin’s hand trails lightly up Taehyung’s arm to grip his bicep. Taehyung shivers when Jimin’s fingers brush against the bare skin at his wrist. “Taehyung, what is this about?
Taehyung can’t hear the music anymore, can’t even think about anything else. “I love it when you boss me around. I love your terrible taste in romcoms. I love the fact that you’re so small and I get to hold you and it’s perfect.”
For a moment, Jimin just stares at him, eyes wide, breathing in and out like he’s trying to focus on making it even. His hand is gripping Taehyung’s arm so hard it’s going to leave bruises but Taehyung doesn’t mind.
“I love that you’re the first thing I see everyday.” He swallows. His chest is tight. He puts his hand on Jimin’s knee and holds on for dear life. “I love the way you leave your shit all over the bathroom counter.”
Jimin laughs, but it sounds suspiciously watery. “Is this what you wanted to talk to me about? Hmm?” he tries to joke. His voice sounds thick. “You could always just ask to me to clean it up.”
“But I love it. Everything about you.”
Taehyung feels Jimin’s entire body tense.
Slowly, Taehyung reaches into his pants pocket and pulls out the square of paper, soft at the creases because of how often Taehyung has unfolded it and refolded it and unfolded it again. His reminder.
Jimin has to rip his eyes from Taehyung’s face, looks down at the paper in confusion. He opens it, mouthing the ghosts of words, and Taehyung waits for the light of recognition to come on before he takes the next step.
“I love you.”
“Oh.” Jimin is shaking. He might be crying. “I’m going to kill Kyungsoo-hyung.”
Taehyung reaches out to hold Jimin’s hand. “I’m in love with you.”
Jimin looks at him, sees him, and he can’t seem to decide whether he wants to take a breath or hold it in.
It’s quiet and still.
“I’ve been in love with you for so long I don’t even know when I started falling.”
It’s Jimin’s turn now, and Taehyung waits.
Jimin takes the deep breath, that moment to collect his pieces. He’s staring at the notebook paper, his feelings in writing. “Me too,” he says softly. He closes his eyes for a moment, and then a smile spread over his face. “At least we landed together.”
Taehyung’s world reorients itself and his world is Jimin.
“I can’t believe you made me cry,” Jimin pouts, minute later, years later, when they’re done grinning at each other. When Jimin sets his world on two feet again. “Kiss it better.”
And even though there isn’t a thing in this world that Taehyung would rather do, nothing that Taehyung has thought about more other than Jimin’s complete and total happiness, Taehyung is, at heart, an idiot and he panics. “Don’t you wanna take it easy?”
For a moment, Jimin looks at him in disbelief, pulling away to laugh at him incredulously. “Easy?”
“Yeah, like.” Taehyung wants to pull his own hair out because he’s playing himself but he’s already committed. “It’s a big change. Shouldn’t we? Ease into it?” That is the last thing he wants.
Jimin knows that, too, but he’s not above playing games. “We’ve been married for six years, but yeah, we can ease into it.”
And Taehyung is a little bit devastated.
But then Jimin leans forward, into Taehyung’s space, right where he wants him. He puts his hand on Taehyung’s side, and it feels like it’s burning. Jimin presses a kiss to Taehyung’s shoulder, firm and sure. “Easy,” he says into Taehyung’s neck.
Jimin’s hand comes up to cradle Taehyung’s jaw, pinky fitting right under Taehyung’s ear and thumb rubbing softly. Slowly, lingering, he kisses Taehyung’s cheek. “Easy.” Taehyung feels Jimin’s breath on his face.
It’s something old and something new and Taehyung wants to drown in this forever.
Jimin turns Taehyung’s face towards him, leans in closer, closer, until they’re a hair apart. The shortest step Taehyung’s ever had to take.
Taehyung takes it.
Their lips slot together, Jimin’s hand moving to tangle in Taehyung’s hair. Taehyung wraps his arm around his husband, that last puzzle piece, holds him tightly, wants to envelop him and keep him forever.
Jimin tastes like chapstick and something darker and Taehyung is so in love.
When they pull away it’s for air, and that lingers too. Taehyung wants to chase Jimin’s lips again, taste him again, wants to kiss him forever.
He can now.
If he wants to.
They press their foreheads together.
Jimin’s hand is still on the back of his neck, holding him there, and Taehyung hears the music again once he comes back down to earth.
“Easy.” Taehyung grins. Easy. Uncomplicated. Perfect.
Jimin laughs with his whole body, and that’s another thing that Taehyung loves.
“We’re going to be together forever,” Taehyung says in a daze, words he’s said a thousand times and suddenly they mean something so different.
Jimin kisses his nose. “I will gladly put up with you.”
Taehyung loves him.
Something must be written all over their faces, because as soon as they walk back into the reception, Hoseok screeches. “They kissed!”
And immediately it’s madness.
Taehyung doesn’t know who started the clapping, but he strongly suspects it to be Minseok, and slowly the whole room is full of noise, cheering and whistles and clapping and there’s a girl in the corner that suddenly bursts into tears and has to be consoled by Jonghyun the tour guide.
And even though it’s a mess and it’s crazy and everything is happening all at once, Jimin is laughing and Taehyung is laughing and he doesn’t want to be anywhere but here.
“I can’t believe Jungkook won the bet,” he hears someone say sadly amongst the bustle of congratulations.
“What bet?” Jimin asks.
“What bet?” Jungkook asks.
“You were eight,” Wheein says dismissively. “You don’t remember.”
“That was years ago!” Taehyung squawks, laughing, linking his fingers with Jimin’s. “How long has this been going on?”
“How long have you been married?” Wheein returns flatly, but her face breaks into a smile seconds before throwing her arms around their necks. “I can’t believe it.”
“It’s about time,” Minseok tells them, and Taheyung has to agree.
“What bet?” Jungkook asks again. “Do I get anything?”
Jimin nudges Taehyung with his elbow and points to the wedding party, and Taehyung looks over just in time to see Yoongi passing Hoseok his glass. Hoseok picks up his knife aggressively and then the whole room is clinking their glasses.
Taehyung looks over at his brother and Seokjin, over at Jungkook trying to figure out what the bet was, over at Yoongi and Hoseok.
Over at Jimin.
He could kiss him, if he wanted to.
So he does.
it's done...i can't believe it...i've been working on this for six months and now it's done...
i'm obscenely proud of this! please please please cry with me i've been emo for a million years
again, a huge thank you to every one involved in making this and also everyone of you who has read it! it means the world to me <3
Chapter 4: my two eyes, my world (epilogue)
Taehyung wouldn't change their wedding day for anything. He wouldn't change anything for anything. Not a single thing.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“How much taller do you think Jungkookie is gonna get?”
“Taller than you.” Taehyung looks up from his phone from where he’s sitting on the kitchen counter.
Jimin throws the mixing spoon into the bowl. “I know!” He pouts. “I’m upset with him.”
“You’re making him a cake.”
“Taehyung, he’s so cute.” Jimin mixes the cake angrily. “He’s 14 and a fucking giant and I’m mad about it, but he’s so cute.” He looks over his shoulder at his husband. His lower lip is sticking out, pouting to full-effect. Taehyung grins at him fondly. “Do you remember when he was like, 6? And the cutest thing I’ve ever seen?”
“Yeah.” Taehyung scrunches up his nose. “What happened.”
“He got taller!” Jimin exclaims. “Listen, if I have to be this tall for the rest of my life, the least the universe can do is make me taller than Jungkook.”
As much as Taehyung wants to reassure him, Jungkook has barely hit his growth spurt and is already shooting up like a tree. Taehyung slides down from the counter, slipping his arms around Jimin’s waist from behind and kissing his ear lightly. “At least you’ll always be the cutest.”
Jimin whines. “Not encouraging.”
“My cutest Jiminie.” Taehyung kisses his neck and digs his fingers into Jimin’s sides playfully.
“Don’t”! Jimin jerks. “Don’t tickle me! If I ruin this cake I will never forgive you.”
Taehyung continues his attack, if only because Jimin falls back into his chest and laughs so brightly. Jimin giggles when Taehyung kisses his ear again. With a grin, Taehyung settles down, pressing his fingers into Jimin’s hipbones and holding him there.
Jimin lets his head fall back against Taehyung’s shoulder. There’s flour on one of his cheeks. “I hate you.”
Another kiss. “How unfortunate.”
His husband sighs, melting into him a little more. “You’re not allowed to move until I catch my breath.” He puts down the spoon and moves his small, flour-covered hands to rest over Taehyung’s, holding Taehyung’s arms firmly in place around his waist.
Taehyung hums. “Don’t want to move, anyway.”
“I learned from the best.”
“Namjoon-hyung?” Jimin says innocently. “I agree.”
“What was it you said to me last night?” Taehyung pauses dramatically. “Wasn’t it…‘you’re weird and that’s why I like you.’”
Jimin wiggles in Taehyung’s arms. “That’s just the truth.”
“That you like me?” Taehyung nuzzles his face into Jimin’s hair.
“That you’re weird.”
Taehyung smacks Jimin’s stomach. “Rude.”
Jimin flinches backwards into him again with a laugh. “You’re weird and I like you.” Jimin grins. “Probably love you, too.”
“You’d better.” He feels the way Jimin’s fingers move to trace over Taehyung’s wedding ring and his heart flutters. “After...how many years?”
“Eight,” Jimin hums.
“After eight years, if you didn’t love me, I’d be concerned.”
Jimin is quiet for a moment. “Do you ever think about our wedding?”
Taehyung laughs. “All the time,” he coos. “It was easily the best and worst day of my life.” They’re swaying back and forth a little bit, to music that isn’t there. Jimin’s eyes are far away.
“I always feel bad about that first night.” Jimin frowns. “That first, like...four months, actually. I feel bad about.” Jimin starts playing with Taehyung’s fingers. Taehyung opens his mouth to reply, takes the breath and everything, but Jimin pinches the skin of his hand to stop him. “I know that you say I shouldn’t feel bad about it, but I do.”
“It wasn’t your fault, Jimin,” Taehyung says, fond and soft because he’s in love and Jimin is in love and even if their wedding was a little rough, this is what he got in return. It’s worth it. Everything in his entire life has been worth it just so that he can hold Jimin and kiss Jimin’s ears and tell Jimin he loves him.
“I didn’t make it any easier.”
Taehyung holds Jimin a little tighter. “Not everything can be easy.” This is easy. That’s enough.
Jimin makes a soft noise in the back of his throat.
“It was hard for us both,” Taehyung reassures him, because Jimin is too hard on himself, even still.
“That was a big day for you, though,” Jimin reminds him. “Your Day. It’s important.”
“And it was!” Taehyung laughs. “I got you! Even if it was hard at first, the outcome is the same.” He moves his hands softly up and down Jimin’s sides, comforting.
For a second, they stay there, together, swaying, dancing, happy, and then Jimin pulls away to give the cake batter another stir. “I’m glad Heeyeon-noona is letting us make this cake.”
“I’m surprised, honestly,” Taehyung answers. It’s a sudden conversation shift, but Taehyung doesn’t mind.
They have forever to talk about it.
“We’ve been getting better at cooking recently,” Jimin says. “Seokjin-hyung has been teaching us very well!”
“We only see him when we visit my brother,” Taehyung reminds him. “That’s not optimal for actual progress.” Honestly, Seokjin has his hands full trying to teach Namjoon how to take care of himself on top of all of his other duties, so their cooking lessons are usually cut short. “And this is baking, so it’s different.”
“Baking is easier.” Jimin shrugs, digging in the cupboard to pull out a cake pan. “Do we have to spray this?”
Taehyung has no idea. “Couldn’t hurt?”
“I don’t trust you,” Jimin tells him, but he’s moving to get the cooking spray out of the pantry anyway.
“Do we get to make the icing, too?” Taehyung asks, looking at the ingredients spread out on the counter.
“Heeyeon-noona is doing the icing. Apparently Jungkook is very picky.” Jimin rolls his eyes. “He should just accept it if it’s given with love.”
Taehyung laughs. “I wouldn’t put it past you to sabotage his cake out of anger at him being taller than you.”
“He’s not!” Jimin says, poking his head out of the pantry and motioning like he’s going to throw the can in his hand at Taehyung’s head.
Jimin’s face falls. “Soon.” His eyes look fond. “Another person to get shit off of the top shelf for me, I guess.”
Taehyung frowns. “Where’s the step stool I bought you?”
“That bedazzled monstrosity?” Jimin snorts. “Far away where you will never find it.”
“What if I refuse to reach things for you?”
“Didn’t I just say I would get Jungkook to do it for me? He’d never refuse me. I’m his favorite.”
Debatable but Taehyung is probably biased. “What if I tell him I’ll buy him that new game if he doesn’t?”
Jimin sprays the pan down and sets it on the counter firmly. “Then that’s cheating.”
Taehyung moves the bowl of cake batter closer to Jimin so he can starts pouring it into the pan. “I’d call it innovation.”
“Would you.” Jimin doesn’t look impressed. It’s hard to look that done while scraping batter out of a bowl but somehow Jimin manages it. Kyungsoo has taught him well. “I don’t care either way. I’m not using the step stool.”
“But it was given to you out of love!” Taehyung grins. “Shouldn’t you just accept it?”
Jimin looks like he’s regretting his words, but it doesn’t stop him from answering snippily. “I refuse.”
“My love? Ouch.”
With a groan, Jimin moves to kick Taehyung’s shin. “I hate you.”
Taehyung sighs happily. “You love me.”
Jimin grimaces. “I love you,” he agrees. “It makes my life very hard sometimes.”
Taehyung kisses Jimin’s shoulder. “But I’m cute.”
“I’m the cutest.”
“You love me,” Taehyung says again. Their faces are close.
Jimin smiles. “I love you.” Jimin leans in.
The kiss is sweet, lazy, simple. Good for an early morning. Jimin’s hand comes up behind Taehyung’s neck and settles there, and Taehyung’s butterflies fly up and settle there, too.
There’s a sharp ding, the oven letting them know it’s preheated, and Jimin’s hand moves, slides down to rest on Taehyung’s chest, but the butterflies stay.
With a happy sigh, Jimn steps away to put the cake in the oven and set the timer.
Taehyung kisses the flour off of his cheek.
“You’re awfully affectionate this morning,” Jimin notes, swatting Taehyung away.
“You’re awfully…” Taehyung can’t think of a word. His mind goes blank.
“Okay, Tae.” Jimin snorts. “Whatever you say.”
“You’re so just…” Taehyung smiles. “I can’t believe I have the hottest husband. I’m besotted.”
Jimin rubs some of the flour on his hands off on Taehyung’s t-shirt just to be annoying and laughs when Taehyung pinches his arm in retaliation. “I thought I was cute?”
“You can be both,” Taehyung tells him firmly. “Human beings are multifaceted.”
“Like how I hate you and love you at the same time?” Jimin wipes off the counter with the kitchen towel before hooking a finger in Taehyung’s pocket and pulling him closer.
“Jiminie,” Taehyung tuts. “That’s just you lying to yourself.”
Jimin headbutts Taehyung’s chest. “I’m always 100% honest.”
“You’re a liar and you know it.”
“False.” He takes a deep breath. “TaeTae?”
Taehyung slips his hands into Jimin’s back pockets. “Yeah? Are you gonna finally admit your love for me?”
“I already did,” Jimin points out. “Twice. In the past ten minutes. Take what you’re given.”
“So rude. I can’t believe you.”
“I’m asking you a question.”
Taehyung laughs. “I’m listening, I’m listening!” He moves to kiss Jimin’s head but his husband jerks away with an indignant noise. Taehyung pouts, but the corners of his mouth still pull up in a smile without his permission. “Let me love you.”
“You’re so needy,” Jimin whines, but he doesn’t move out of Taehyung’s hold either. “I’m trying to ask you something but if you keep being annoying, I’ll leave.”
“You won’t leave Jungkookie’s cake,” Taehyung says knowingly. “And I’m always annoying.”
“Both of those things are true.” He sighs. “Why do I even bother with you?”
“Because I’m cute as hell.”
Jimin groans. “Why am I nervous about this?” he asks Taehyung.
Taehyung smiles at him, all teeth and sunshine. “I don’t even know what it is. I don’t know why you’re nervous. You haven’t been nervous around me in a long time, which either means you’re about to do something super cheesy or you did something really stupid.”
“I’m trying to ask if you want to get married again, so.” Jimin grimaces. “Both.”
Taehyung blinks at him. “What.”
Jimin sighs, leaning his head forward to rest on Taehyung’s chest as Taehyung’s hands slip out of his back pockets to hold his waist. Jimin can probably hear the way Taehyung’s heart started sputtering. It’s like he’s a schoolboy with a crush. Which he isn’t.
He’s married, happily, in love and loved.
He still feels the butterflies.
“Kim Taehyung,” Jimin asks, voice slightly muffled in the fabric. “Will you marry me?”
Taehyung laughs. “Again?”
Taehyung feels Jimin’s face break into a smile, feels the muscles of his husband’s face move, feels the way Jimin seems to grow in happiness.
He feels like he’s growing, too. “Is this about the wedding thing?” Taehyung asks, but he’s smiling. “I just said that it doesn’t matter.”
“It does, though,” Jimin groans. “It was important to you.” He takes a deep breath. “Your Day.”
“Well.” It’s true. It was. “I wouldn’t trade that day for anything,” Taehyung says. “I wouldn’t trade anything for anything.” Which is also true. He wouldn’t. He wouldn’t change a single thing.
“I know.” Jimin’s voice is soft. Jimin is soft. Taehyung rubs his thumb on the bare skin of Jimin’s hip under his sweater. “But. Maybe we can have another Day. One that’s just like the one you always wanted.”
Taehyung looks at Jimin. Soft. “Is that what you want?”
Jimin smiles shyly. His cheeks are red. “I want that very much.” He threads his arms around Taehyung’s waist and links his fingers together. Taehyung can feel the warmth of his hands pressing into his back.
They feel close.
Jimin still has some flour on his face and it’s adorable. Taehyung wants to put icing on Jimin’s nose and kiss it off.
“Can we celebrate both anniversaries?” Taehyung asks.
Jimin’s scrunches up his nose. “Another date you have to remember.”
“Hey!” Taehyung pinches Jimin’s hip lightly. “I’m good with dates. You’re the one who forgets everything.”
“Never an anniversary,” Jimin says skeptically.
“Then having two doesn’t seem like it will be too much of a problem, does it?” Taehyung says, pondering for a moment. “I guess we can get double married.” He laughs. “It will be cute. We can train Phillip how to carry in the rings.”
Jimin smiles. “We can have it in the garden.”
“Jungkook can be the flower girl.”
“He’ll hate it.” Jimin snorts. “Let’s do it. We can invite our parents. And all the hyungs.”
“The staff.” Taehyung grins. “They all still have they ‘TaeMin group chat.’ Wheein will probably freak out.”
“‘TaeMin’?” Jimin laughs, head thrown back. Taehyung can see the laughter bubbling out of him. “Taemin-hyung must get so confused.”
“I think it’s cute.” He kisses Jimin’s cheek. “We’re cute.”
Jimin grimaces playfully. “This is gross.”
“And probably not very hygienic, since we’re baking.”
“True.” Jimin walks over to the sink, and Taehyung feels a little colder when they’re not pressed up together. “We should wash our hands before the cake is ready to come out.”
Taehyung watches as Jimin lets the water run over his fingers until it’s the right temperature. Watches Jimin standing there, humming a little under his breath. Watches Jimin.
It’s the best thing he’s seen in a long time.
When the water is warm enough, Jimin slips his hands under the stream, and Taehyung walks up beside him and follows his example, pouring soap into Jimin’s hands before taking some for himself.
Their hands keep bumping, and eventually it turns into a fight, and Taehyung is unapologetic about the water he sprays on Jimin’s shirt and he also isn’t bitter about it when Jimin takes a handful of soapsuds and splats it on his hair. It’s gonna be gross in five minutes, and Jimin is probably going to get cold. Taehyung will probably give Jimin the hoodie he’s wearing and Jimin with gently wipe the soap from Taehyung’s hair. And then Jimin will start running his fingers through the strands. And Taehyung will melt a little.
And then the cake will probably be a little burnt when they remember to take it out of the oven.
“Taehyung?” Jimin asks softly, rinsing the soap of his hands and trickling warm water over Taehyung’s.
“Hmm?” Taehyung is warm and soft and happy. He’s bursting and falling and drowning, all the time. It never gets old.
Jimin leans his head on Taehyung’s shoulder for a moment, just a beat. There’s a wet patch on Taehyung’s shirt, but Jimin doesn’t seem to mind. “Let’s keep going for a long time.”
Taehyung wants to.
So they do.
this is just something short to wrap things up <3
i have been OVERWHELMED by the love this fic has received and i keep getting emotional about it i love you and i'm so so thankful
i apologize for any comments i haven't replied to i've been having a rough time but i will! i promise! i love all of you