When they first slept together, Jeongguk wasn't thinking of anything else other than the fact that he wanted to get smashed. All he wanted to do was to get away from all the exams, notes, homework and thinking, and forget about his classes and grades. If he could have, he'd forget about university altogether, but he still has two years left to go and he really can't give into that kind of whim. So he’d gone and slept with the first pretty thing he laid eyes on the moment he stepped into the first club on club day. The moment he exchanged glances with Kim Taehyung, who was standing on stage, crooning some love song in his deep, husky voice, Jeongguk already knew he was fucked. But he didn’t know then how fucked up he was going to be over him.
Because as Taehyung gets up from the bed, not even bothering to check if Jeongguk is already awake, Jeongguk wonders how a one-night stand could have evolved to this: meeting up practically everyday after classes, exchanging kisses and taking each other’s clothes off every chance they get. Jeongguk is no stranger to having fuck buddies and being friends with benefits, but Taehyung is neither his buddy nor his friend so he’s not entirely sure where they stand. Especially not when Jeongguk thinks he’s starting to see Taehyung as more than both of those things.
“Early class?” Jeongguk asks, turning on the bed to watch Taehyung struggle with his jeans.
Taehyung looks up, caught with trying to zip up, dark brown hair adorably tousled, lower lip in between his teeth. “Hey,” he croaks and then clears up his throat. He’s only started sleeping over in this last month but Jeongguk has noticed how Taehyung has been leaving earlier and earlier each time. “Hey,” he repeats. “I didn’t know you were awake. I have, uh, to meet up with some classmates before class starts. There’s this report we have to do.”
Jeongguk doesn’t doubt Taehyung whenever he gives him the schoolwork excuse because Jeongguk has no reason to. He also has no right to doubt Taehyung and all the things he does without Jeongguk. “Good luck,” is all he says before turning his back on Taehyung and squeezing his eyes shut as he tries to pretend that he doesn’t wish there was more than this. He takes several breaths, each one hoping to calm him better.
“Jeongguk?” Taehyung says after a while and Jeongguk has to keep still to show that he’s already fast asleep. Because what else is there to say? It’s morning and Taehyung is leaving. “Jeongguk?” he repeats and this time, Taehyung’s voice is nearer, right above him, like he moved around to Jeongguk’s side of the bed. Still, Jeongguk doesn’t answer, eyes still closed, breathing even.
He’s not sure what he was expecting. Maybe for Taehyung to just leave right then, which is what he usually does. But Jeongguk certainly doesn’t expect his hair being brushed back from his forehead, touch gentle and soothing, and he certainly doesn’t expect the press of a kiss to his brow. His heart is pounding on his chest as Taehyung kisses him again, this time on the corner of his lips. This isn’t necessarily out of character for Taehyung, who sheds affection like it’s his life’s mission. But it kind of is when it comes to what he has with Jeongguk. They started out with a few knowing looks at a club, after which Jeongguk had decided that he was just going to go for it and grabbed Taehyung’s hand and kissed him at the back of the club. Taehyung had kissed back and then went down on his knees to suck Jeongguk off before asking if Jeongguk wanted to go back to his place. It was exactly what Jeongguk had hoped for then. But he’s not entirely sure what he’s hoping for now.
“I’ll text you,” Taehyung whispers like he knows Jeongguk can hear him and then he’s leaving. Jeongguk kind of wishes Taehyung doesn’t take his heart with him every single time.
The next time Jeongguk and Taehyung see each other is not because Taehyung texts him. Taehyung usually does text him when he says he would. But this time, Jeongguk has to go to a party for him to know that Taehyung is doing just fine and is busy without him. It’s not like Jeongguk doesn’t know that Taehyung sleeps with other people. It’s one of those unspoken things because Taehyung is too social by nature, having friends and connections everywhere in and out of university, and Jeongguk figured that if he could sleep with Taehyung, anyone else could be sleeping with him too. Besides, Taehyung had called him out on being too clingy when Jeongguk had accidentally whined when Taehyung moved to leave on about the fifth time they got together. Granted that Taehyung had said it with laughter on his lips, Jeongguk had vowed since then not to show too much of his feelings because they’re both in this for the conveniently good sex.
“You don’t look so good,” Jimin comments beside him.
“I’m fine,” automatically slips from Jeongguk’s lips, even as Jeongguk has to watch Taehyung practically grind his crotch against Minjae's on the dance floor. He grabs two drinks and downs them both in a gulp.
“Look, I know that you’ve been hell-bent on this mission to get away from anything academic since last year ended. But we’re one-fourth into the semester, Jeongguk,” Jimin reminds him, a warm hand on his wrist. “Summer is over and you have to get back to work. You don’t want to do anything you’ll regret.”
Summer is over. It was convenient that he didn’t have any classes over the summer but had chosen to remain in university. Because while Taehyung still had to run around and fulfill requirements, all Jeongguk needed to think of was forgetting all of that and focusing on Taehyung instead. Which now, he realizes, is a bad idea because it seems he’s gotten it into his head that this isn’t just a fleeting thing. This isn’t real and is very temporary. And, obviously by the way Taehyung presses his face against Minjae’s neck, Taehyung thinks so too.
“Right,” Jeongguk responds, downing another shot. “Of course. Summer is over."
The logical thing to do at this point is to probably just leave the party and wallow in his misery by himself. But then he decides that he shouldn’t wallow in it alone and thinks that taking Taehyung with him is even better. Ignoring Jimin’s calls, Jeongguk marches towards the dance floor and grabs Taehyung off of Minjae, who barely has any time to protest before Jeongguk’s kissing Taehyung. Right there. In the middle of the dance floor where everyone they know, who have no idea they’ve been sleeping together, can see them. Because what better way to say goodbye than to inform everyone else that this thing that’s been going on for a few months now is ending?
Taehyung doesn’t seem to mind, if the way he kisses Jeongguk back, arms around Jeongguk’s neck, hips pressed together, is any indication. It breaks something in Jeongguk’s chest, knowing that Taehyung just keeps playing along and doesn’t seem to care about anything but maybe taking Jeongguk’s dick. Jeongguk wouldn’t usually mind that, but this isn’t just play to him anymore. Somewhere along the way something changed and Jeongguk can't change it back to how it was. Maybe for Taehyung nothing has to be different, but the way Jeongguk’s heart aches as he pounds into Taehyung, the sheets wrapped around them, him whispering Taehyung’s name into his neck as Taehyung clings to him, his fingernails scratching Jeongguk's back, tells Jeongguk that this can’t go on any longer. It shouldn’t because Jeongguk is going to be sprouting and doing things that Taehyung would think worse than being clingy and Jeongguk doesn’t want to subject Taehyung to that.
So, in uncharacteristic fashion, Jeongguk gets up before Taehyung this time. It’s his apartment and he shouldn’t have to leave, but who cares these days? Taehyung should get it, he thinks. He’ll understand because the last thing Jeongguk ever wants to do the morning after good sex is to move. So move he does, picking up all his clothes and putting them on, while Taehyung is fast asleep in bed, shoulder peeking as he’s wrapped up in the comforter, looking warm and snuggly. They have their cuddling moments after sex because Taehyung is like a human koala bear, but it’s gotten sparse recently, just like the way Taehyung staying over later has, and Jeongguk thinks that’s good as a sign as any that this thing has gotten too far. Taehyung is getting tired of what they have and Jeongguk is weary of continuously pretending that he doesn’t see it coming.
Jeongguk kind of wants to kiss Taehyung before he goes, as twisted sort of goodbye, something to take with him while he remembers Taehyung like this, all soft, sweet and homey, but he decides against it. What’s the point of kissing someone when they won’t kiss you back any longer? So Jeongguk just goes, hoping that whatever’s left of his heart are pieces that he can put back together.
The thing about flings is that they almost always don’t work out, even worse when it’s a summer romance. Not that Jeongguk thinks what he had with Taehyung was a romance, but with the small and rare instances of Taehyung watching television with him and them doing homework together before they do any frisking has stuck with him as kind of romantic and domestic. Sometimes, he’d come back to the apartment with Taehyung already there, rummaging through his fridge and cupboard for anything remotely edible, and Jeongguk would just pick up the phone and order in. These are few and far in between but it had given Jeongguk a glimpse of what could be. As it is, none of it is even is possible.
He tugs his collar tighter around him, breath coming out like smoke, as he makes his way across campus. He's been doing well with fulfilling his promise to Jimin that he’d get his act together and remove all thoughts of being lazy with school, but when Jeongguk needs to go to the library all the way on the other side of university in this bitch of a cold weather, he sometimes wishes he didn’t care. Who cares about doing research for something that he probably isn’t going to remotely care about or even think of after graduating? But Jimin cares, more than he does, and Jeongguk cares about him so he’s going to have to do it. He understands that he needs this for a better future, but he really wishes that it didn’t have to be such a struggle to go to classes he knows he won't find a use for once he's done with academics, anyway. All Jeongguk wants to do is to make music, maybe sing if possible, and taking literature classes is the last thing he thinks he needs for it.
At least the library is warm and cozy, he muses. He dusts his shoes off and takes off his coat, hanging it on one of the seats for a bit, to let in some of the heat. Jeongguk walks straight to the back where the literature books are, along with a reading area with cosier couches. He hopes none of the students are there, getting too friendly with each other, and on an early Saturday morning, too. He grabs the books that he needs and walks back to the front desk to get them all checked out when he hears a laughter that has him stiffening with it’s painful familiarity.
Of course Taehyung would be in the library on an early Saturday morning of all places, laughing with Hoseok this time. Jeongguk isn’t sure why he knows pretty much all of the people that Taehyung sleeps with, but it sure sucks. Because he kind of knows Hoseok from Jimin’s classes and he knows that Hoseok is kind and funny. Jeongguk hates that he wants to dislike Hoseok because Taehyung has every reason to like him. Sucking in a breath when Taehyung leans close to run his fingers at the hair at the back of Hoseok’s head, he whirls around, and unfortunately hits his hip on the corner of a table, dropping all of his books to the floor.
Jeongguk squeezes his eyes shut. On any other instance, he would revel at the way Taehyung’s tongue curls around his name, but not this time. Not when it sounds so different, more shocked than anything else, after no contact for several months. Not when it was summer when they last saw each other and now it’s practically winter. Not when Taehyung has clearly moved on, unlike Jeongguk who continues to yearn for Taehyung and whatever it is that Taehyung can give him.
“You alright?” Taehyung asks.
“I’m fine,” Jeongguk says, opening his eyes and gathering his books in his arms.
“You sure?” Hoseok asks this time as Jeongguk stands, not bothering to dust himself off or fix his shirt.
“Sure,” Jeongguk answers with a prompt nod, not even looking at either of them. It’s rude but he doesn’t care. It’s a good thing he and Hoseok don’t know each other that well. Hoseok can let this pass. “I’m gonna go ahead. Bye.” He walks out of the library, putting the books down on the table nearest the door and leaves without them. He doesn’t really need it right now and can always go back for them some other time, anyway.
What were the odds of them seeing each other in the library of all places? Jeongguk hasn’t so much as seen a hair on Taehyung’s head after he left the apartment that day and now they see each other in the library? On a Saturday morning. When most students are still buried in bed because of drinking from the night before. Jeongguk supposes he was kind of asking for it when he chose a lit class when Taehyung is a literature major. Still. He didn’t expect for them to see each other at all. Taehyung must hate him for what he did. Jeongguk hates himself for what he did, walking away without even saying a word. Taehyung didn’t sound upset at all, though. Jeongguk scoffs as he shoves his hands in his pants pockets.
Why would Taehyung even bother being angry? Fuck buddies are just fuck buddies. They’re that way for a reason. No feelings of any sort are supposed to be involved.
He takes the long way back to the apartment, wanting forget whatever had transpired that morning. He also starts strategising how he can get the books without stepping into the lit section of the library. Maybe he can get Jimin to do it. Or Yugyeom. He’d probably agree because he has a crush on that tall and long-faced lit senior, Mark, who hangs out in the library a lot. That’s right. He’d get Yugyeom to check the books out for him.
The apartment door is ajar when Jeongguk gets home. Jimin never forgets to lock up whether he’s inside or out so this kind of bothers him.
“Jimin? Why is the door open?” he calls as he moves to take off his coat, but stops when he realizes that he’d forgotten it in the library. Cursing under his breath, he thinks for a second whether he’s going to go back for it or not. That’s his warmest coat and the weather just looks like it’s going to be colder. But, at the same time, he’d really rather not run into Taehyung and his boy toy again. Not so soon at least. He thinks a month or two should suffice. That should be enough time for Jeongguk to be okay with seeing him with someone else again.
“Looking for this?”
Jeongguk curses again, this time louder. Standing inside his apartment with Jeongguk’s coat is none other than Kim Taehyung, a small, tentative smile on his lips, one that barely shows his teeth.
“Thanks,” Jeongguk says, yanking it from his grasp and hanging it in the closet. “You didn’t have to bring it back. I was going to go back for it.”
“Were you?” Taehyung asks, and there’s a challenge in there somewhere that has Jeongguk meeting his eyes for the first time. “Because from the looks of it, it seemed like you weren’t going to go back to the library any time soon. Not when you know I hang out there.”
Jeongguk has to blink several times to understand what Taehyung means. It's been so long since he's heard Taehyung make a sound, much more speak to him, and just hearing Taehyung say all these things has him catching his breath. . “I—it’s the library,” he says when he finds his voice. “Of course you can hang out there. Anyone can hang out there. And I was going to come back. For the coat. And the books.” He swallows when Taehyung just raises his eyebrows at him. “Eventually,” he finishes.
“Lucky you won’t have to,” Taehyung says, his tone cool and kind of calculating. It makes Jeongguk shiver. “Hoseok had the idea of us checking the books out for you.” He gestures towards the living room and, sure enough, the four books that Jeongguk needs for his research is right there. “So you won’t have to bother making up excuses just because you want to avoid me.”
This time, Taehyung sounds like that actually hurts him. But Jeongguk doesn’t know what to say, not when Taehyung is right. He hopes that Taehyung understands though — having to disappear all of a sudden and walk out earlier without so much as addressing Taehyung with a glance. He really does. Jeongguk did it because he’s selfish and wants to have all of Taehyung. He didn’t do it just for that, however. He also did it because he would never want to hold Taehyung back with those feelings and wants Taehyung to keep on doing what makes him happy. If it’s seeing several people all at once, then so be it. Jeongguk doesn’t want to stand in the way of that.
“Thanks,” Jeongguk mumbles. He takes a deep breath. “Did you want anything else? Were you looking for Jimin? I’m not sure where he is but I’ll text him and you can wait for him here.”
“Will you stay while I wait?” Taehyung asks.
“Uh,” Jeongguk stammers, not sure why Taehyung would want that. “I actually have to be somewhere.” He ignores the way Taehyung presses his lips together. “But you’re welcome to stay. You’re welcome to watch TV and welcome to anything in the kitchen. You know where the food is—and there’s actually food this time.” He bites the inside of his cheek just so he can stop rambling and turns towards the door. It’ll take him the whole afternoon and maybe a bit of the evening before he comes back to make sure that the apartment doesn’t smell like Taehyung anymore.
“You could have said something, you know,” Taehyung calls after him just as Jeongguk opens the door.
“What?” Jeongguk asks, surprised as he faces Taehyung again.
“You could have said something,” Taehyung repeats. “You could have told me that you didn’t want to hangout with me anymore, that you wanted to stop things. You didn’t have to just… disappear.” His voice breaks at the last word and Jeongguk feels like shit. Even in their situation, Taehyung had deserved better than Jeongguk being a jerk.
“I’m sorry,” Jeongguk lets out and it’s a relief because they’re words he’s wanted to tell Taehyung for a long time. “I didn’t want to make things complicated for you. I figured that was the best way to end things.”
Taehyung laughs. It’s dry and has to be one of the unhappiest sounds Jeongguk has ever heard. “When did you find out?” Taehyung demands, his hands clenching and unclenching at his sides. Jeongguk blinks at him. “When?”
“When did I find out what?” Jeongguk asks, slow and curious. Is he asking him when Jeongguk started to have feelings for him? But that can’t be because Taehyung doesn't know about that, can't know about that. Jeongguk has been very discreet about it. Even Jimin doesn’t know. “What are you talking about?”
“I’ve heard people say that you’re shit with feelings and run at the first sign of it,” Taehyung tells him and Jeongguk’s heart seizes in his chest. almost sounds like a confession of Taehyung’s knowledge about Jeongguk’s heart. “But I didn’t think you’d actually do it to me. So I want to know when you found out. Come on, I can take it.”
“I don’t think—"
“Tell me.” Taehyung’s eyes are blazing with emotion and Jeongguk thinks that he owes Taehyung this. At the very least, Jeongguk needs to tell him the truth.
“The fifth time we got together,” Jeongguk answers, clasping his hands together and playing with his thumbs. “You—you were wearing a dress shirt and slacks because you’d come from doing a presentation and you asked to come over because you were so tired. You were hungry so I made to order take-out but you said you missed your mom’s home cooked meal and we attempted to make kimchi jjigae together.” He chuckles at the memory, even as Taehyung’s mouth drops open. “It was a disaster, of course. But we ended up eating it anyway and you said it was one of the best meals you’ve had.” He pauses for a second to take a breath, because this retelling has his chest feeling too tight, steps back to lean against the door, thankful for his regained balance. “Then we went to bed and…” He shrugs. “I don’t know. It just felt different and I wanted you to stay in the morning but you just laughed and called me clingy and…” He shrugs again, blinking and blinking because tears are pooling in his eyes and he can’t fucking cry in front of Taehyung. That's just stupid.
“Jeongguk,” Taehyung’s voice is so much louder and when Jeongguk looks up, Taehyung is right there, cupping his face when tender hands. Jeongguk flinches back, but doesn’t get very far when the back of his head hits the door. He’s not going to cry just because Taehyung sounds s tender and sweet Taehyung saying his name like that. He can't. “I didn’t realize you felt that way,” Taehyung continues and Jeongguk takes in a shuddering breath. “Jeongguk, please,” he asks, thumbs caressing under Jeongguk's eyes.
When Jeongguk opens his eyes, he sees that Taehyung in tears, as well. Jeongguk doesn’t hesitate to wipe them away, reaching out even if he feels constrained by Taehyung's arms on either side of him, keeping him from moving around, moving away. “Don’t cry,” Jeongguk croaks. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to tell you because it’s not worth telling. We started this thing with the idea that we’d just sleep with each other because it’s convenient. I didn’t mean to have feelings. I’m sorry.”
“Jeongguk,” Taehyung whispers, laughing a little. “When I asked you when you found out, I was talking about me.” Jeongguk furrows his brows in confusion. “I meant me… and my feelings for you,” he clarifies and Jeongguk’s hands still before he pulls them away from Taehyung’s face. “I thought you found out that I liked you and that it made you uncomfortable that’s why you left the apartment that day.” He laughs some more, his eyes even glassier than it was before. “I waited for you, you know. I made breakfast and waited for you to come back. I figured I could tell you then about how I felt, but then you never came back and I just…” He laughs, pressing closer to Jeongguk as he buries his face in Jeongguk’s the crook of neck.
Jeongguk wraps his arms around Taehyung, the collar of his shirt dampening with each passing second. He presses a kiss to Taehyung’s head and whispers, “I’m sorry.” How could he have been so stupid? How could they have both been so stupid? If Jeongguk had just manned up… There’s no use thinking about what he could have done. Now is what’s important and, right now, Taehyung is in Jeongguk’s arms, having confessed his feelings for him.
“Taehyung,” Jeongguk whispers, voice gentle. “Taehyung, look at me.”
Taehyung pulls away, his face all red and splotchy, and Jeongguk laughs. “Shut up,” he says, shoving Jeongguk back a little.
Jeongguk cups Taehyung’s face this time and pulls him close for a searing kiss, where Jeongguk tries to tell Taehyung all of the things that he’s felt and all of the things he’s been going through without him. He knows it’s not enough, but it’s all good for now, when he sees the way Taehyung beams at him when they come up for air.
“What about Minjae? Hoseok?” Jeongguk doesn’t hesitate to ask this time because he’s not going to share Taehyung with anyone. “I’m going to tell you now that I’m not going to let you see them if we’re going to do this—of course, that is if you want to do this—because I want you to see just me. Of course you can still be friends with them, but I’d rather you slept with no one else but me.”
Taehyung laughs and presses a kiss to Jeongguk’s lips. “I haven’t slept with anyone else after I met you,” he reveals, making Jeongguk hiccup with surprise. “And I definitely want to do this… if you’re willing.” Jeongguk nods so seriously that Taehyung starts laughing again. “You're so cute,” he says. “I can’t believe I get to keep you.”
Jeongguk stares at him in disbelief because if anyone in this room is lucky, it’s Jeongguk, because he gets to have Kim Taehyung on a more permanent basis in his life. He’s not sure how to say this without sounding incredibly cheesy so he just kisses Taehyung again and hopes that it’s enough. He hopes that they are enough.
The thing about flings is that they almost always don’t work out. But when they do, Jeongguk knows it’s something worth keeping. He should know, he muses as he ganders at Taehyung. He's a living testament to it.