The man's voice is low and lovely, deep yet melodious, and Namjoon is transfixed despite not understanding a single word. He blinks dumbly, struck speechless not only by his genuine lack of language skills but also by just how breathtaking this man is. Dark hair falls across darker eyebrows, a sharp jawline frames a soft yet handsome face, the wintry sunlight casting dappled marks over the tan skin of his cheeks.
The stranger mirrors Namjoon's stare with his own similarly blank one. He says something again, lips curving up jovially at the end of his sentence, as though offering some small joke that Namjoon desperately wishes he understood. His lack of response must seem rude so he answers the best he can.
"Sorry, I don't speak Korean."
And he truly is sorry.
Namjoon has no idea what the man is saying, but Namjoon feels as though it would brighten up his day immensely to hear it. For now, he makes do with the surprised flutter of eyelashes and hint of blush that creeps across the stranger's features once he hears Namjoon's American lilt.
He doesn't walk away though, simply sits down on the bench next to Namjoon and looks at him, curious. He seems to be pondering something, eyebrows scrunched together in concentration.
"My name is Taehyung."
Namjoon can't help but smile, the sentence slow and heavily accented but clear enough. Taehyung smiles back, pleased, and his eyes shimmer with interest.
Taehyung keeps on smiling.
Namjoon sincerely regrets ignoring his parent's attempts to teach him Korean as a child. He's learnt a few phrases over the years but really, it's embarrassing how little he can speak. He never had any interest in learning a language that wasn't even his parents' first language; it was something old, something his grandparents found important but not Namjoon Kim. Nope, he was American through and through and there were much more crucial things to be doing as a kid than learning an irrelevant language.
How he regrets it bitterly now as he lays in bed that evening. The business conference he's attending lasts five days and from the first moment he set eyes on Taehyung he just wants to know and understand him more and more. They managed some stilted chat on the park bench earlier, although it was hard for any real conversation to flow. At least not any further than introductions, where they live, hobbies; anything taught at a basic level in schools. Not that it deterred either of them from exchanging phone numbers; to what end, Namjoon isn't entirely sure. Conversation over text seems even more impossible than in person.
The first photo comes through during the earliest seminar Namjoon attends. The second shows up when he's hiding out by the coffee machine during a break, trying to avoid the dreaded corporate networking. The third sets his phone buzzing during the last session of the day. They're all of different places in Seoul, Taehyung apparently keen to give him a virtual tour despite being trapped in this soulless conference centre all day.
Namjoon eventually sends him back a picture of a half empty lecture hall, a dreary presentation on the screen and a smattering of grey and black suits in the chairs. Taehyung sends back one of himself this time, mouth turned down in a sympathetic pout. Namjoon's stomach somersaults.
Namjoon's twenty minutes late to the dinner, but he feels it's actually fairly reasonable. The awkward telephone call during which Taehyung apparently decided that yelling the words would make them more understandable - it didn't - wasn't the most helpful for giving Namjoon directions to the restaurant.
When he does turn up, panicked and dishevelled and late, Taehyung just smiles at him warmly and motions for him to sit down. Taehyung takes over the ordering, selecting dish after delicious dish until they are both too full to move. It doesn't matter how difficult making conversation can be, because simply being in Taehyung's company feels easy and far too natural. From the way his gaze keeps lingering on Namjoon, he sort of hopes that Taehyung feels that way about him too.
It's the third day when their quiet companionship gets a little more intense. When Taehyung introduces Namjoon to Soju and Namjoon's thinking starts to become slower, more blurred. So much so he doesn't quite realise that it's happening until it's over.
Namjoon watches as the elevator doors close, Taehyung's happy and giddy face disappearing from view as the elevator starts to slowly rise to the floor of his hotel room. Namjoon brings his fingers cautiously to his mouth, as though he might erase the touch, lose the memory.
He doesn't though, and he falls asleep that night with his mind full of stolen kisses and the way that Taehyung's soft, breathy laughter felt against his lips.
Words are almost completely unnecessary when their limbs are entwined, pillows and bedsheets falling to the floor as their bodies press together, heated and needy and almost desperate. They only met four days ago but Namjoon feels as though he's been waiting for this for much longer. It's too good, too perfect, the way Taehyung fits against him like this, fits next to him as they walk down the street. As though there has been a space in Namjoon's life that's always been ready for Taehyung to fill, as illogical as that may sound
Taehyung's fingertips trace eager trails over Namjoon's chest, along his thighs. Namjoon wants to close his eyes, savour every sensation, but he can't resist watching Taehyung as his lips follow the path of his fingers. Namjoon's heels press into the mattress and his jaw goes slack when Taehyung's mouth sinks down on him, the wet, messy heat feeling close to heavenly. Taehyung's hair is soft between Namjoon's fingers but Namjoon doesn't guide him; just strokes through the strands, calming and encouraging at the same time.
The sounds that spill past Taehyung's lips when Namjoon slides into him, however- well, those make Namjoon's stomach swirl, his insides hot and writhing with want, with desire. Taehyung is warm and good and right, and Namjoon feels stupidly like he's home, despite being thousands of miles from where he lives.
A litany of words fall from Taehyung as Namjoon fucks him, slow and deep and passionate. Namjoon doesn't understand a single one other than his own name, but he doesn't really care. All he cares about is the way that they're uttered, breathless and dripping with pleasure, and that's enough to make Namjoon happy.
Sentences escape Namjoon too, things that he never thought he would hear himself say, and he sincerely hopes that Taehyung's English is indeed as bad as it seems. Because he can't hold back from describing how wonderful Taehyung feels, how amazing he is, and how badly Namjoon wishes that this wasn't a one time affair.
As full of unexpected emotions as the night brings, it's the last morning when Namjoon feels the full brunt of them. When he wakes up to Taehyung nestled in his arms, to lazy smiles and even lazier kisses. Namjoon's a man who likes to talk with people at great length about anything and everything, and yet, despite barely understanding each other, he feels a connection with Taehyung like he's not experienced with anyone else.
Putting on his suit that morning is the slowest he's ever gotten dressed, far too distracted by watching Taehyung sprawled out on the bed, sleepy and smiling. Namjoon's chest gets unbearably tight when Taehyung's palm smoothes across the front of his shirt, fingers wrapping around his tie to pull Namjoon down into one more slow, tender brush of lips together.
It's one of the few words that Namjoon does understand and yet the only one he wishes that he didn't. He pulls Taehyung into an embrace, arms holding onto each tighter than it needs to be. It's only been five days and yet-
And yet Namjoon feels like he's leaving something far bigger. Leaving the promise of what could have been, if only circumstances were different. He presses a soft kiss to Taehyung's temple and Taehyung presses a scrap of paper into his hand.
Namjoon waits until he's on the plane to open it, keen to read what it says and to help ease the image of Taehyung giving him a small, sad wave farewell before he walked through security.
Namjoon unscrolls it and his heart sinks. It's in Korean; he can't understand.
"Who is this from?"
His mom raises an eyebrow, intrigued and suspicious. Namjoon hopes that it isn't anything raunchy; he hadn't even considered that, but from the look his mom is giving him, he's beginning to get a little concerned.
"It doesn't matter who it's from," Namjoon sighs. "What does it say?"
"Let's not give up on something so special so easily."
Namjoon blinks, surprised, just as his phone buzzes in his pocket.
Taehyung grins, giving a thumbs up and uttering something far too quickly for Namjoon to pick up. Namjoon preens a little at the praise. Well, what he thinks is praise at least. Korean is fucking hard.
"Thanks," Namjoon mutters, switching back to English. "Your turn."
Taehyung purses his lips together, looking up at the ceiling. Not for the first time Namjoon longs to be there, to be seeing his expressions in person rather than over a video call. But it is enough, for now at least.
"Uh, I am look forward to seeing you again."
Taehyung breaks out into a grin and Namjoon can't help but do the same at the sentiment. Not perfect, but pretty close.
"I can't wait either."
The airport is packed with people but Namjoon spots him immediately, surrounded by way too many bags for one week's stay. Namjoon chooses to save that comment for later, instead much more focused on flinging his arms around Taehyung and muffling the surprised laughter with a kiss that has been far too long coming. One year too long.
Neither says anything for a while, just gazing at the other. Taehyung's eyes are full of warmth and excitement and- Namjoon's stomach flips. He sees it too, he's sure of it.
"Saranghae, Taehyung," he whispers, the one word he has been saving to use in person.
Taehyung's teeth show as he grins, wide and happy. He leans in, bringing his lips to Namjoon's in a gentle yet dizzying kiss. His words are pressed against the corner of Namjoon's mouth when he eventually replies.
"I love you too."