There are some questions they get asked every other time they’re on a radio show or interviewed for a magazine or on TV for the first time. Questions like If you were a girl, which member would you like to date? or Which member would you bring with you to a deserted island? are just par for the idol course. Ridiculous, obviously, but also so routine Yoongi could answer them in his sleep. For whatever reason, these are the questions people want the answers to, as if wanting to date Seokjin could possibly mean anything more than what it means, which is that Seokjin is one of the best guys Yoongi knows.
The really illuminating questions would be the simple ones. Which member would you share your clothes with? Who would you trust to cover your back if you snuck out the dorms at night? Who doesn’t make you want to kill him, and then yourself, after living with him basically 24/7? Or the easiest question, the one Yoongi seems to face every other week: who’s the best person to go on a quick late-night convenience store run with when you’ve been practicing for twelve hours a day and you haven’t seen sunlight in a week?
Yoongi thinks he knows the answer to that one, or at least he would if not for a number of conditions mitigating his situation. Namjoon is still at the studio, Seokjin is showering, and Jimin makes a face, puffing out his cheeks and saying he’s on a diet so sadly Yoongi vows to bring him back a treat. Hoseok is listening to music and wearing pajama shorts, and maturely pretends not to hear Yoongi when he asks, rolling over and playing dead, even though the music blasting out of his earphones is loud enough to blow out an eardrum. And Jungkook is already asleep, his mouth open and his shirt twisted around his belly, the skin underneath smooth and young. Irritated but endeared, Yoongi pulls Jungkook’s shirt down, and Jungkook groans, curling up into himself, drool shiny against his cheek.
That leaves Taehyung, who is already pulling his shoes on at the door. Whatever. Any port in a storm, right? But when Yoongi tries to nudge him out of the way to get to his shoes, Taehyung doesn’t budge, turning to Yoongi with an expectant look on his face.
Yoongi looks back. Ten seconds pass, and then he catches on. Taehyung’s waiting for him to ask. For fuck’s sake, he thinks. “For fuck’s sake, Taehyung,” he says. “Do you want to go to the convenience store with me?”
Taehyung brightens and slides over, holding Yoongi’s sneakers up to him like an offering. “I’d love to!” he chirps, bouncing up.
Yoongi barely resists the urge to roll his eyes too obviously. It’s not that Yoongi doesn’t like Taehyung—or, anyway, even if he hadn’t at one point, it doesn’t matter anymore. He likes Taehyung fine. It’s just that Taehyung is the kind of kid who does shit like this, as if he had an idea of how the world should pass in his mind that he refused to compromise, but also refused to explain in a way that would make sense to anyone else. This gentle but steadfast air of expectation used to exasperate Yoongi to no end when they first met. It was in the way he said and did (and still says and does) things at his own pace, waiting for everyone else to either catch up or accommodate him, showcasing an easygoing confidence in his own strangeness that Yoongi could tell had been cultivated by an adolescence of being carefree, popular, and well-loved. But that sounded too much like bitterness if Yoongi dwelled on it for too long, and he wasn’t, so he doesn’t dwell.
“Hey hyung,” Taehyung says with the solemn voice that fools everyone upon first meeting, Yoongi included, into taking his words more seriously than their meaning ever deserved, tugging at the back of Yoongi’s hoodie as they walk down the stairs. “Can we ride our bikes there?”
Living up to its name and function, the convenience store is a convenient two blocks away, which means an approximate four-minute roundtrip door-to-door if Yoongi walks at a brisk pace. It’s way past midnight, nearing one A.M., and all Yoongi had wanted was a quick snack, which he figures he more than deserves after the week they’ve been having. He had it all planned out—leave the apartment at 12:40, grab a bag of chips and a vitamin water, get back before one, and get in a luxurious five hours of sleep before he has to wake up again. No studio time for him tonight. Instead, it’s 12:51, they’re just pedaling out thanks to an incident between Taehyung’s flip flop and the wheel that ends with a decisive knockdown for the former, and Yoongi is mentally kissing his five hours of sleep goodbye. He should’ve figured this would happen with Taehyung. Should’ve said no to the bat of Taehyung’s eyelashes, more gross than charming, and should’ve just gone to the damn convenience store on his own. Curse the human desire for company and the late hour for his lowered defenses. Usually the best thing about Taehyung, to Yoongi anyway, is how easy he is to say no to.
Instead, Taehyung pulls up beside Yoongi, leaning so far over his handlebars Yoongi worries his hoodie strings are going to get caught in the spokes and he’ll have to watch the grisly dismemberment of a bandmate and friend, which is unfortunate, no matter how troublesome said bandmate and friend is. “Hyung,” Taehyung whisper-shouts. “I’ll race you!”
I don’t want to fucking race you, Yoongi thinks, I want a bag of chips and I want to go to sleep. “If I win, you’re paying,” is what he says, and then he takes off.
“I didn’t say start yet!” Taehyung yells after him through a mouthful of giggles, not even bothering to pretend to whisper now.
“You snooze, you lose,” he calls back over his shoulder. It’s so cheesy it almost physically pains him to say it, but Taehyung loves that kind of stuff. Yoongi isn’t usually so charitable, but there’s something about riding a bike through the relative coolness of a summer night that makes him feel light-hearted and invincible. Fuck it.
With Taehyung’s breathless laughter accompanying his mad sprint to the convenience store, Yoongi just barely beats him there, braking to a stop so suddenly he almost pitches over. Taehyung reaches out an arm to haul him upright, which has the effect of actually tipping him over. Yoongi hops off, stumbling a bit, and winces as his bike crashes to the ground, startling the few college-aged kids lounging at a far table. Yoongi raises a hand in apology, wondering if they would recognize them. When they look back down at the bottles of sikhye in front of them after a cursory glance, Yoongi takes that as a no.
“For that, you can pay next time too,” he tells Taehyung, who makes a face from where he’s locking their bikes together.
Taehyung darts out from behind him once they’re inside, and Yoongi ducks his head at the cashier in preemptive apology. He’s just reaching the zenith of his sleepless euphoria, which, combined with the burst of adrenaline from their bike ride, is making him giggly. When Taehyung grabs two ice cones and holds them upside down over his head, making what Yoongi supposes are meant to be alien noises but really just sound like the human equivalent of a fork scraping against a plate (then again, what does Yoongi know—of the two of them, Taehyung is definitely more likely to know what an alien sounds like), Yoongi laughs so hard he almost knocks over a magazine rack.
Taehyung grins, delighted to have made Yoongi laugh, not even noticing the drip of candied red into his hair. From the register, the cashier gives a pointed cough. A-hem.
“Ah sorry, sorry,” Yoongi says, chuckling. He grabs his chips and vitamin water and a bag of M&Ms for Jimin and beckons at Taehyung, who approaches, ice cones still in hand.
“These too, please,” Taehyung says, turning the beam of his smile to the cashier. “Sorry my hand’s sticky.”
The cashier has to reach under the counter for a wet wipe for her hands after folding the crumpled money Taehyung hands her into the register, but she still smiles back. “Eat those quickly,” she warns, but all the scold’s gone out of her voice. She even waggles her fingers goodbye at Taehyung, though only Yoongi sees. Figures. She’s pretty, too.
Outside, Taehyung carefully unwraps one of the ice cones, fixing a napkin around it, before handing it to Yoongi in a clumsy gesture. He rips the damp paper around his unceremoniously, taking a bite and wincing when the cold hits his teeth. “Hyung,” he says, his mouth already turning blue. “Want to eat these in the park?”
Taehyung is humming as they approach the park, like he can’t believe his own good luck, getting away with asking two requests of Yoongi in one night. Yoongi can’t quite believe it either. He’s way off his earlier schedule, and will probably hate himself come morning. But the weather’s not too hot, he’s got an ice cone in hand and chips in a plastic bag around his wrist, and even Taehyung hasn’t been too annoying. Yoongi hasn’t known what 100% relaxed feels like in years, but for the moment he can feel the ever-present fist of tension in his chest loosen, and it’s good enough.
Their ice cones are done by the time they actually get to the park, and Yoongi can feel the fatigue settling over him when he jogs to a trash bin to throw out his and Taehyung’s wrappers. Taehyung makes an aborted move in the direction of the playground, but he looks tired too, eyes heavier and droopier than usual. As the hyung and, more importantly, as a human being with at least a shred of self-preservation, Yoongi makes an executive decision, laying his sticky fingers on Taehyung’s forearm.
“Alright, it’s time to go,” he says, tugging. “Hobeom-hyung’s gonna be pissed if we fall asleep on the radio tomorrow.”
“Yoongi-hyung,” Taehyung whines, but there’s no conviction behind it, and he trips along easily enough. And then, with a hoarse slur that betrays his tiredness more than anything else, he asks, “Have you heard that exposure to radio waves can give you cancer? We should sit out tomorrow and sleep in. I’ll tell Hobeom-hyung. He probably doesn’t want us to get cancer.”
“Anything can give you cancer,” Yoongi says, a little shortly, and the roughness of his Daegu accent slips out. Taehyung blinks at that, pulls his arm back where Yoongi had forgotten it in the circle of his grasp. They’re passing by the convenience store again to collect their bikes, and the cashier inside looks up, gives them a little wave. Yoongi grimaces a smile back at her but her eyes are on Taehyung and she’s giggling, and Yoongi can picture the half-blink wink that surely precipitated it.
“I’ll race you back,” Taehyung says suddenly, swinging a leg over his bike. “First one there doesn’t get radio cancer.” He zooms off, leaving the huhuhu of his giggle in his wake.
“You—yah, Kim Taehyung!” Yoongi yells after him, feet scrambling at his pedals despite himself. “That’s not how cancer works!”
Taehyung is triumphant when Yoongi catches up with him at the front of the BigHit building, his full mouth curved into a smirk.
“Shut up,” Yoongi says, alighting from his bike with as much dignity as possible.
“I didn't say anything!” Taehyung protests.
“Insurance against the next time you decide to talk, then,” Yoongi says, throwing an elbow into Taehyung's side.
Taehyung stays mum as they lock up their bikes, and Yoongi can’t tell if he’s pouting or if his mouth is just naturally like that. Whatever. He takes the stairs two at a time, rubbing at his eyes with his wrist. It's 1:30, and he has popsicle juice streaks down his arm. It'd almost be worth it to shower again, but—nah. He's pretty sure the blanket on his bed is Hoseok's, anyway.
He fumbles for his keys outside the door, before Taehyung's hand appears next to his face, key dangling between his fingers. It's attached to a hideous and humongous Doraemon keychain, because of course it is. Yoongi closes a hand over it, mumbling a thanks. Still, Taehyung doesn’t say anything back.
“Tired?” he asks around a yawn. “It’s your own fault, you know. This was supposed to be a quick trip, you menace.”
“Mmph,” Taehyung says. Yoongi looks at him full in the face. Taehyung has his lips pressed firmly together. “Can I talk again?” Taehyung asks out of the corner of his mouth. “Has your insurance run out yet?”
This gets a laugh out of Yoongi, and he chucks the bottom of Taehyung’s chin with his fist, key side up. He unlocks the door, squinting into the dark of their living room. "I like you best when you listen to me," Yoongi says, surprised into fondness, leaning down to untie his shoelaces. On the come up, he almost knocks himself out on Taehyung’s shoulder.
“I like you when you’re nice to me,” Taehyung says, in that solemn voice of his, and the tone tricks Yoongi into looking. Then, swift as a stairway light going out, Taehyung leans in, planting an open-mouthed popsicle-sticky kiss on Yoongi’s cheek and blowing so hard he gets spit all over Yoongi’s face in the process. But before Yoongi can get a hand on him, he’s already darting into their dark dorm, laugh bright enough to follow.