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Could You

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***

Taehyung felt he lived a pretty charmed life. He went to a pretty good school, lived with one of his best buddies in a nice place close by, where he even had his own room that he could watch porn or jerk off in at his leisure. And study, of course. Like, there was a kitchen, but his own room was something else entirely. Mostly it was Jungkook’s doing, when he invited Taehyung to live with him. He’d said where, and Taehyung had almost bounced out of his slippers trying to get into his shoes to go check it out. He could practically look down on his class building, which was some other level, and Jungkook, when faced with the obvious question of “how much??” shrugged, and said, “You’ll have to ask my brother.”

Taehyung had seen Jungkook’s brother from afar, once, maybe, but all he really knew about him was that he was a lawyer. But when Taehyung eased into apartment Jungkook was inviting him to share for the final reckoning, he was pretty sure Min Yoongi was not a lawyer, but maybe a judge, and a priest combined. Maybe a whole pack of priests. He reasoned having three jobs to pay for a place to live was probably too much, so he could turn it down even if he was going to probably have to be drug out of there on a sled. He didn’t have a twin, so bartering two kidneys was kind of out of the equation, too. Maybe if he threw in half his liver?

(“He just wants to be sure you’re not an axe murderer,” Jungkook had said, when Taehyung was curious why it had to be so formal.)

Maybe he was underdressed, because Yoongi was sitting in a chair - just a chair! Not a judge’s bench - and was wearing a suit and tie, and some probably astronomically expensive haircut. He wanted to reach up and straighten the collar of his loud green t-shirt and hoped there weren’t a whole lot of frayed edges. He had clothes, he swore.

“Nice to meet you,” Taehyung said, and didn’t stutter, and even made it into a seated position. Excellent, step one. He wasn’t being prosecuted for anything. He looked at Jungkook, and Jungkook was on his phone and looked like he was gaming instead of helping him out.

“Jungkook said you liked the place, too, and accepted his offer.”

“Well, I, uh,” Taehyung said, and wished Jungkook was close enough to kick. Sure, he’d shouted “Hell yeah!” so loud it’d echoed off the bathroom walls, but there were technicalities. “I’d like to, but. He didn’t know how much it’d be?”

Was it a question? Taehyung hissed. No, he hadn’t, and Yoongi raised his eyebrows and the moment of silence was enough for Jungkook to realize he was being stared at.

“What?” he asked, staring between Yoongi and Taehyung.

“I told Jungkook he could choose someone to share it with. I wouldn’t be asking for any rent,” Yoongi explained. And Taehyung knew his jaw was getting lower and lower as Yoongi talked. “I don’t want Jungkook having to work while he’s studying, and it wouldn’t be fair to who he’s living with to, either. So, as long as Jungkook wants you here, and you’re not failing out of school, it’s yours.”

That? That was the big talk? Hey, here’s your apartment that’s free and close, and awesome? He whooped, in his head anyway, and then couldn’t stop his mouth.

“Wow, I— Yes? I accept, I’ll study all the time!”

Yoongi smirked a second before Jungkook outright laughed, and Taehyung’s face went magma-hot. But it was cool. He had the codes to get in, and a key, and his own fucking room, and he actually whooped once he knew Yoongi was way out of earshot, and chased Jungkook from one side to the other trying to beat him with a pillow.

They ordered in chicken and Taehyung forgave Jungkook not giving him the details.

Though, it was so big, and it was so free, that Taehyung pointed out, “We could fit five other guys in here.”

And Jungkook, who was face-first into a mound of blankets on the couch, mumbled, “Yoongi made me promise one. He doesn’t want it to be like some frat, so I will actually study.”

Okay, that was a point. Not that he could tell anyone about it, because it was too good to be true almost, and he didn’t want to make everyone jealous. Except, no, he’d tell Jimin. Some things were sacred. Taehyung wondered why he didn’t have six brothers who were lawyers, because they were clearly awesome.

***

It was a little like he’d fallen into a fairy tale. Taehyung’s parents were skeptical, but they knew Jungkook, too, so it wasn’t like he was falling in with some kind of gang or doing something illegal. He was just living it up, and printing out agreements on who cleaned the bathroom every week. Most everything else they flipped for, like dishes, and Jungkook couldn’t even get out of that by using The Eyes or feigning he forgot since Taehyung would stand there and stare at him like the wrath of satan until movement was made. Jimin had come over and given the apartment the googly-eyed approval Taehyung had been waiting for. And he only felt a little guilty because he knew Jimin and Hoseok lived in a hole the wall by comparison.

It was pretty perfect, actually. Not to mention sort of fairy godfather-like, since Jungkook had a card for “discretionary spending” as he put it, which really meant, “make sure you have food and don’t starve.” So they had groceries delivered, and late night fast food, so that they weren’t existing on an expired can of sardines, and some gross protein powder that Jungkook was into for five seconds and then lost interest in because it was gross.

It was all great, but that didn’t cover walking out of his room in his underwear, thinking that Jungkook was talking to the TV while he gamed - which he did - to find said fairy godfather in a chair, facing him. He stared at Yoongi. Yoongi stared back.

And Taehyung scuttled back into his room so fast it was like the doorway had absorbed him.

When he emerged two minutes later, after having changed his shirt twice, he was very Casual about it. Very Nonchalant, like that had never happened. Jungkook was judging him and Yoongi coughed as Taehyung continued Casually Living and trying to pass by after saying hello.

“No one bites out here,” Yoongi called after him.

Haha. No one bites. They were all guys. Bites where, even. His shoulder twitched as he got a drink and tried to decide whether he wanted to continue his existence in his room or interrupt brother time, or if he’d have a choice, really.

“Hey, you want to go get barbecue?” Jungkook asked, before Taehyung had to choose one way or the other in the living room.

“Yeah!” he said. Because that was the only answer.

“Cool. I’ll get my coat! Don’t leave without me!”

“I only did that once,” Yoongi said, more to Taehyung than Jungkook. “And I was waiting at the car.”

Oh. Oh, Yoongi was going too, since they weren’t just going to leave him there in their apartment.

“Figured you guys’d want something that didn’t come out of a box for a change,” Yoongi said. “Or deep fried.”

There was some kind of amusement there as Yoongi chuckled, shrugging into his coat. So, Yoongi was taking them to eat. That was fine. That was good.

“Are you going?” Jungkook asked, coming out and staring at Taehyung, who was still standing there with a bottle in one hand and no coat to speak of.

There was no casual left in his body as he went for his coat.

***

Taehyung hadn’t recovered still, not after hunkering down in the very nice backseat of Yoongi’s car (no, he hadn’t needed Jungkook’s eyebrows to waggle as they’d gotten in, he knew what the car cost). His coat hadn’t just swallowed him up into oblivion during the ride, listening to Jungkook be partly peppy and part bemoaning his work load as Yoongi both encouraged him and made neither of them anticipate any kind of higher degree, ever.

He and Jungkook ended up sitting across from Yoongi at the restaurant, and the feeling of going out to eat with the king, or the president, or something had still settled behind the embarrassment of earlier. He was marshaling his forces, because Jungkook talked about Yoongi like he was some really great guy. A really great guy who got his brother an apartment, and took him out to dinner, and made sure he was eating. A really great guy with a rusty kind of laugh, who was wearing earrings and not dressed in a suit. Not the Pope, then, just a dude who had a really, really nice car, and—

“I thought you said he was never quiet,” Yoongi said to Jungkook, gesturing to Taehyung and speaking as though he was in some glass case in a museum.

“He thinks you’re going to kick him out,” Jungkook said, clearly having not one subtle or loyal bone in his body. “He makes me do the dishes.”

“When we flip for it!” Taehyung yelped. It wasn’t like he was using Jungkook as a servant. He couldn’t just tell Yoongi that.

“Maybe I’ll kick you out then,” Yoongi told Jungkook.

Yeah, so there!

He and Yoongi, they shared a grin, as Jungkook sputtered, and Taehyung let himself relax a little bit after that. Food made him greedy, and it was hard to be both uptight and pretending he was dining with the king, and greedy at the same time. Nice guys weren’t going to make him ride home in the trunk, or put him out in the street before Christmas. Still, he bet it was a nice trunk, too.

Yoongi ate like he had no hurry in the world, occasionally signaling for more plates to be brought as Taehyung and Jungkook systematically demolished the meat, and the rice, and the stew, and the sides. He even got Yoongi to laugh a few times once he finally started talking, because professor talk was good! He was going to school, their agreement still stood.

“You sure you haven’t given away all the food you bought in the last week?” Yoongi asked, the sound was mild, having finished up the last of what he’d taken before they could snatch it away.

All Taehyung could do was moan, and Jungkook eyed him. There was one piece of meat left, and Taehyung was full up to his eyeballs.

“Go for it,” he said. He was magnanimous. Look at him be the good guy, taking care of his younger friend. Still, he could taste it, watching Jungkook bite in, and he settled for taking a swig of his tea. Yoongi looked some kind of pleased/amused like they were his baby chicks that he’d just filled up. It might’ve been kind of weird if it hadn’t been nice, and they shuffled right back out again. Taehyung petted the backseat upholstery as he lapsed into a food coma on the way back. Jungkook tried to make noises about him sitting in the front seat, and as much as he wanted to personally put his hands on all the tech, and he’d opened up and said more than three words to Yoongi, he hadn’t graduated to that yet, no.

“Get out, I need to talk to Taehyung,” Yoongi said when he’d parked by their building. Yoongi actually smacked at Jungkook’s coat, and Jungkook blew him a raspberry, and then blitzed across the front seat to give him a hug before getting out of the car.

And then Jungkook left him there, frozen in the back seat of a nice car with his seatbelt half undone. And Yoongi wasn’t a taxi driver, or like, a friend’s mom or something, so it was just him, and Yoongi, Yoongi having twisted around to peer at him.

“I figure Jungkook at least partially told you that the card he has is for food and stuff, since he mentioned he’d shared with you. I already told him what food he gets should be for both of you, so if you need to add stuff to it, or get double, that’s fine, just tell him so he can get it. I just wanted to make sure I told you myself so you know you don’t have to worry if he didn’t explain well.”

There was heat rising up his neck, and Taehyung hardly knew what to say since thank you didn’t seem to cut it.

“I— Thanks, that’s really— I have some money, too, so I could give—“

Yoongi shook his head. “I appreciate the offer, but it’s the same as the apartment. Hard to study if you’re hungry. So, do your best in school, and make him do the dishes every once in a while. He has to scrub the toilet?”

“Every other week,” Taehyung said with glee, forgetting his thankful mortification. “He hates it. I have pictures.”

Yoongi actually cackled at that. “You should send them to me. And you guys are getting along? You don’t need anything?”

“No, it’s great. Everything’s great.”

He’d have started listing individual things that were great too, into infinity, if Yoongi hadn’t told him to get his phone out so Yoongi could give him his number. He got out one last round of thanks before he got out of the car, and even managed to leave the seatbelt behind. There had to be something he could do, if Yoongi wouldn’t take money. Some gift, or something, to express his thanks at being given so much and Yoongi expecting nothing more than what he and Jungkook ought to have been doing anyway. But what to get a guy with what all Yoongi had? If his car was that nice, then Taehyung bet where he lived was nice, too. It wasn’t like he could just buy a spoon and say hey, thanks.

Pictures of Jungkook grumbling and on his knees in the bathroom were one thing, but that only went so far.

“Not kicking you out?” Jungkook teased, as Taehyung got out of his shoes and wandered over to flop in a chair.

“No, jerk. Your brother is really cool,” Taehyung said.

Jungkook grinned the grin of someone who knew what he had and appreciated someone else appreciating it.. “Yeah, he is.”

***

When Taehyung accepted having a fairy godfather, basically, he wasn’t expecting him to also be the Santa Claus of really useful yet odd items. Like one time, Jungkook mumbling that Yoongi was coming over, which helped because Taehyung was able to put on pants in time. But Yoongi came in the door wth an industrial sized package of toilet paper. Taehyung was mildly alarmed, and Jungkook was doing his purposely blank face so that Taehyung couldn’t tell if this was a surprise gift or if Jungkook had asked for it.

“I heard someone had diarrhea,” Yoongi joked as he set the package down on the table.

Then Jungkook groaned, at least, as Taehyung tried not to physically morph into a hyena. On the bright side, they were never going to have to buy toilet paper again. On the down side, they had toilet paper stacked actually everywhere, and he was kind of sure Yoongi really did think they were inept kittens who were one day going to be reduced to wiping their butts with their class notes or something.

When Jungkook did think to at least give him a heads up, Taehyung could go around and pick up some of his scattered things so that Jungkook could be thrown under the clutter bus (he was family, okay). Jungkook still tattled but Taehyung prided himself on at least caring, and also because he should’ve picked up his stuff before then anyway. Plus he got to be all puffed up when Yoongi called him out as an example. Kim Taehyung, paragon of house cleaning or whatever, as said by Min Yoongi himself.

He was at least dressed, when Yoongi dropped by the first time without any notice, but more importantly, without Jungkook home at all. Taehyung was wiping his mouth of any imaginary crumbs and fought to not pat his hair as Yoongi hailed him and walked right in. There was a box that time, unmarked, also sat on the table, while Taehyung tried to shuffle through every concept of adult hospitality he had ever been exposed to in his entire life.

“Jungkook’s clothes from home,” Yoongi explained. “He said carrying them on the bus would shorten his life expectancy by a decade.”

Yoongi’s tone said bullshit, and cried out Jungkook’s laziness, but there Yoongi was, having hauled it himself in his precious car so that Jungkook had what he wanted. Taehyung half wished he had a box of anything for Yoongi to bring him, which was a ridiculous thing altogether.

“I’ll tell him,” Taehyung said, not that Yoongi wouldn’t text him, too. “Did you, uh. Want some water, or…?”

“Nah, I have to go. Deposition tomorrow that—“

Yoongi’s words fell into a pot of lawyer speak that Taehyung nodded through, shuffling forward like he thought he should anyway as Yoongi made for the door.

“Everything good here?”

“Yes. Good. Very good.”

Yoongi looked slightly less than convinced, but he nodded, said goodbye, and left anyway. Taehyung flopped on the couch, like he’d just run a marathon through the desert. It was okay. He was okay.

***

Taehyung’s headphones were trying to do their duty. It wasn’t like Jungkook was loud, and he didn’t think Jungkook and whoever it was he’d brought home were banging. Yet. But there was the wafting of laughter, and Jungkook having sent him some dire text messages like STAY in your room I’m bringing a girl home and maybe wear headphones in case I get lucky. A heads up more for Jungkook than him. So, if Jungkook totally struck out with the girl, the one he assumed Jungkook had been making awkward wistful noises about, sad for him. Taehyung would’ve just left, if he’d had somewhere to go. He supposed he could’ve holed up in the library, but he was trying to ignore his homework on the weekend, not actually work on it.

Even over his music, his eyes opened when he realized the laughing had stopped. Actually, so had the talking altogether. That meant either Jungkook and his date were having a nice nap, or they were finding things other to do than talk or laugh. Which meant— Taehyung closed his eyes again, intending to crank the volume up a little higher.

Except. He heard the front door. Maybe she was leaving? Taehyung pried out one of his earbuds, listening for a long second. The door shut. Jungkook’s voice, from his room, not from the front door. The only person who had a key was—

Taehyung shoved his legs into his jeans in record time, almost tripping over his backpack on his way out his bedroom door. None too soon, since Yoongi’s mouth had just opened like he was about to call out to see if anyone was home.

“Oh, Taehyung. I texted Jungkook but didn’t get a response. What’s up?”

“Oh, it’s fine. Everything is just— Jungkook is busy, so he’ll text you later? Or call, yeah, I’ll tell him to call. I don’t think we need anything.”

Was that what it was like herding cats? Yoongi had wandered over to the table set up to eat on, and Taehyung was trying to keep his body between Yoongi and the hall to the bedrooms. He didn’t know how good of a sound block he was, but he was trying and Yoongi wasn’t getting the message as Taehyung inched forward and tried to mentally shove Yoongi at the door.

“He have homework?” Yoongi asked.

Taehyung didn’t want to lie. He wasn’t going to lie. He was just—

“Seems like we always do!” Taehyung got out, laughing and trying to cover for that sound that he hoped Yoongi hadn’t heard. “I’ll tell him you were here! He’ll call!”

And maybe let Taehyung kick his ass for making him face down Yoongi on his own.

“Sounds like pretty loud homework,” Yoongi mused. “Maybe I should check—“

“No, he’s okay!” Taehyung burst out, stepping forward when Yoongi did. He couldn’t just pick Yoongi up and cart him out the door like a soccer ball, but he was tempted. He was an icicle just trying to imagine how he could put his hands on Yoongi to get him to stop and leave, and listen. Or not listen. Not listening to what Jungkook was doing at all. Yoongi just kind of stared up at him and Taehyung tried, really tried, to make his smile one that said he was a good person who was to be believed. He was being honest! He just— He was going to come down with a rash, if Yoongi stared him down much longer.

“Maybe we should let him to it, then. You busy?”

“Oh, no,” Taehyung denied. “No, I just. It’s a nice day. I like…nice days.”

Somewhere in the back of his head there was a continual Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck shut the fuck up scrolling in endless waves.

“Those are good,” Yoongi said. “Well, since you’re free, want to get something to eat?”

“Yes! I’ll get a sweater!” It meant Yoongi would leave. He sounded like a chirping fucking bird, Taehyung realized as he took two long strides, heard a moan-esque sound, and about-faced almost right into Yoongi himself. “Just kidding, I just need my coat, and it’s right here, are you ready? We should go. I’m starving!”

Yoongi took about 5 years to put on his shoes as Taehyung counted flecks in the ceiling paint, and it was only by sheer luck as he closed the door behind them that he realized yes, he had his keys and some cash, though he had no phone to speak of. But, Yoongi wasn’t just going to leave him by the side of the road because it was Yoongi, and Yoongi was cool.

But that led to a few wobbly steps on the way to the elevator, because he realized what he’d just done to himself. In trying to get Yoongi to leave by any means necessary, to protect Jungkook and his own embarrassment, he’d just agreed to go with Yoongi to eat. By themselves. And sure, he didn’t think Yoongi was some woohoo, high and mighty whoever anymore, but he was Yoongi. His blush was blushing by the time they got in the elevator, and Taehyung stared at the descending floors and corresponding beeps like they were going to save his soul. Yoongi wasn’t talking. He wasn’t talking. And that was weird, right? Taehyung glanced in horror like Yoongi might be staring and waiting for him to human up, but Yoongi was just standing there with his hands shoved into the pockets of his navy pea coat and his eyes closed. He was just resting, like humans did. He’d come over to see his brother, and he had Taehyung instead. Ha. Haha.

“I’m parked this way,” Yoongi said, when they’d finally reached the ground floor after twelve hours of deliberation. Or, twenty seconds, whatever. He led Taehyung toward a side entrance, and it caused another hitch in Taehyung’s walk. Parked. Like, with his car. Yoongi with his car that he drove, that Taehyung had only sat in the back seat in, that he was going to be in with Yoongi alone. And he couldn’t sit in the back seat like he was in a taxi, because that would be a giant weird move.

But the car was so pretty, Taehyung almost couldn’t be sad about it. He oozed into the front passenger seat and the seat welcomed him like it was home. He didn’t think he’d done anything audibly, except that Yoongi made a sound of amusement.

“Yeah, nice, right?”

“Really nice,” Taehyung said, and did get himself buckled in without any fanfare or accidents. The car purred to life, and Yoongi poked a couple of buttons getting things starting to warm up.

“So, he has condoms, right?”

Taehyung squeaked, and knew it, then. Yoongi was staring at him. Taehyung was staring back. He opened his mouth for a giant lie of denial before he deflated. Yoongi clearly had figured it out, so there was no use.

"When did you know?"

"The second you came to the door trying to shove me out like my pants were on fire. He could’ve just texted me he was busy today and it would’ve saved you a lot of hassle.”

Jungkook was going to hear about that. If he could text Taehyung, he was going to have to, without fail, text his brother. Taehyung would’ve collapsed against the window, except he didn’t want to get a sweaty head print on it.

“I don’t mind, though. Kind of fun watching you squirm.”

Taehyung pouted at that, not really knowing what else to do when his ears were probably ten feet high with flames.

“Well, I don’t. He’s. Yeah.”

Yoongi smirked, shifting the car out of park. “I meant it, about the food though. We’ll go get something cool, and he can feel like he missed out.”

Taehyung’s grin in response to Yoongi’s was reflex. And he took maybe his first full breath since Yoongi’s arrival.

“Sounds like fun,” he said. And, he actually let himself relax and really enjoy the comfort of Yoongi’s car. Not like it cost more than a small country, but it was nice. It had all the touch screens and dials and buttons and features that Taehyung’s parents’ old car definitely lacked. They had a CD player, but it was stuck in long after the car was made, that was for sure.

“It’s kind of cool how many options they make cars with now,” Taehyung said. He didn’t mind talking. Talking, actually, was a happy habit of his, so as long as he thought about that and not about anything else, he was fine.

“Very cool,” Yoongi said, executing a confident turn that had Taehyung admiring the way he turned the wheel and then also the way he maybe kind of cursed under his breath at someone merging in a less than polite manner. “So cool I don’t use half the things. My mom likes the heated seats, though.”

Ah, that’s why his butt was glowing. That was good to know.

“Actually, I almost don’t drive it enough to justify it. I did, at first. I mean, when I got my first real job out of law school, I was making pretty good money, but it was either a nice apartment, or a nice car, and I prioritized the car. So I drove to work a lot since I lived in fucking nowhere. But, then I moved closer, and the bus is faster than driving.”

Yoongi’s harsh little laugh had Taehyung chuckling, too.

“Still, at least you have it when you need it.”

“True. Definitely quicker to get over to this part of town. I think Jungkook thinks I might’ve gotten it as his own personal moving van.”

Yoongi said it, and yet he used his precious car to ferry Jungkook and his things, and his friends, and Taehyung didn’t even know what else. It was nice, was what it was. He didn’t know if he admired that more than Yoongi’s driving, but it was a thing.

“Do you have to get up early to take the bus?”

“Not really. Actually, if I got up in time and the weather wasn’t sneezing or dropping blocks of ice, I could probably walk. But, mornings aren’t really my thing.”

Yoongi winced a bit. Ah, not a morning person then. Well. Taehyung settled even more, then. He could really, truly believe that Yoongi was an okay person then, in that case. He didn’t really trust morning people.

“We have a couple of choices here, but there’s a good all-you-can-eat sushi place if that sounds okay?”

“Sounds great!”

He decided he could definitely eat, since his stomach had calmed from the whole panic-oh-no, Jungkook debacle. He felt like he could at the very least eat a dozen rolls of sushi, and knew he was probably overstating things, but his stomach felt how it felt. Yoongi parked and led them inside, and Taehyung felt his lack of sweater after they got a seat and started pouring over the menu. But the tea warmed him up at least, and the miso soup after that with their first round of rolls. They’d both gotten two different kinds, left to mix and match depending on their tastes. Taehyung’s eyes drifted closed at the pop of fish eggs in his mouth, switching almost immediately to a tuna roll that was just on the edge of being too spicy, but was so good that it almost made him want to bounce in his seat.

“Wow, uh. Wow, that’s really good,” he said, once he’d swallowed. He had relaxed, but he retained some animal-brain worry in the back of his head of accidentally spitting out a grain of rice while talking. That, of course in his worst scenario, would fall into something Yoongi was eating. He was a college student, but he was an adult. He could adult. It was okay.

Though, he almost belied that when Yoongi started talking. Only instead of rice out, it was rice inhaled. He covered his near-choke experience with what had to be a concerning chug of water judging by Yoongi’s eyebrow dip.

“My week,” Taehyung croaked in response to Yoongi’s question, clearing his throat. “It was good. No surprise quizzes, finals are still a couple of weeks away, so I can pretend.”

“Ah, I remember that feeling. It’s so far away, but it’ll also be here tomorrow,” Yoongi said, shaking his head. “Make sure you start reviewing early. I did not make life easy on myself sometimes.”

“What about your week?” Taehyung asked. That seemed to be a thing to do. Reciprocating questions. Not just talking about himself, like he was 12 and being asked by his relatives how he was, and how tall he’d grown.

“Eh,” Yoongi said, definitely still with his mouth half full at first. “I have… I guess he’s a rival, though we’re on the same side. Anyway, caught a case he was lusting after and he’s been giving me the stink-eye for the last few days. It’s been pretty great, actually.”

Taehyung laughed at Yoongi’s smug enjoyment of it. “So if it goes well, maybe you’re able to get more that he wants.”

“Exactly,” Yoongi said, pointing at Taehyung. “Though, I may end up pulling him in in the end, we’ll see. He’s smart, just kind of a dick. Whatever makes it work.”

Taehyung’s mouth decided to take off before his brain could. “You’re smart, too, though. Jungkook said you graduated with all kinds of awards.”

Yoongi actually looked a bit pained at the praise, and Taehyung half wished he had more to heap on, because that was fun.

“Jungkook has a big mouth when it suits him. But anyway, I’m not an expert in every facet of law, so more brains are helpful sometimes.”

Taehyung nodded, understanding that. That was the whole point of teamwork, and why sometimes two were better than one. His thoughts were on hold when the waitress came by to ask if they needed anything else, Taehyung had his next two choices already queued up. Though, Yoongi held up a finger before she could go.

“I’m pretty much done, here. You sure you can do two more?”

If they didn’t finish, it was extra money. Taehyung took a poll with his stomach, thought of how many pieces came with each, and the several they had left. He nodded slowly. “Yeah, I think I can.”

The look that Yoongi shot him, Taehyung wasn’t sure if it was impressed or skeptical. But he nodded at the waitress, and she left them. He thought he was going to get a lecture about his eating, but Yoongi slouched back a little, considering him. Taehyung could feel his eyes widening as he tried to figure out what he’d done, or what was on his face, maybe.

“Speaking of Jungkook, he mentioned that you weren’t sure you could go on the ski trip? He was kind of vague on why. Are you going home to see your family?”

“Oh. I’m not going, but they’re coming up around the new year,” Taehyung said, brightening for a moment. “But I’ve been trying to save all the money I’m not spending on rent toward tuition so they don’t have to give me anything. And I wouldn’t want to interrupt your trip.”

As much as a ski trip sounded like fun. He hadn’t been skiing in forever, and Jungkook had been pretty excited, too. It made him want to kind of sink in his chair, as Yoongi considered him. Taehyung chewed on his bottom lip, and sat up a bit straighter as the new rolls were delivered. Salmon and eel, and he shoved a piece in his mouth as he thought. Even Yoongi reached out and snagged a piece, chewing before talking.

“You wouldn’t be interrupting. We try and get away a couple of times a year, since our parents don’t have a lot of time. Jungkook told me when your last final was, so I scheduled it so you could go, too, if you wanted. There’s no cost involved for you, though, if that’s all that’s keeping you from going.”

“Uh,” Taehyung said, blinking. Dinner, now and then was one thing. The apartment, and the food Jungkook brought wasn’t that hard to swallow. Most of the time. But it made his face flush again, because a vacation was different than all of those things. It wasn’t just things people needed to exist, but something optional. “I couldn’t— You don’t have to—“

“The room is a perk from the company, and has breakfasts included, and then I get a deal on the rentals and tickets,” Yoongi said, laying it out for him. “Think of it like a Christmas gift. It’s not going to cost me anything more to drive three people than two. And you’d be doing Jungkook a favor, actually, since Jungkook likes to get out and ski, and I’m more of a…”

“Inside type?” Taehyung asked, and got narrowed eyes but a nod. Taehyung didn’t ask why Yoongi would choose skiing when he didn’t relish getting out there and doing it. Spending time with Jungkook when they weren’t skiing, making Jungkook happy. It seemed to be a bit of a theme, but even with the lower outlay of money on Yoongi’s end, it felt like he was almost taking too much. Though it’d cost a little bit more to drive, just from extra weight. Not enough to be really worried about, though.

“There’s skiing, inner tubing, swimming. Fireplaces,” Yoongi said, grinning at the last one. As a lure, it was working.

“Heating swimming, I hope,” Taehyung said, mock shivering. It would be fun. And Jungkook might have more fun, having someone there to have fun with. If he thought about it like that, he was just making Yoongi’s gift to Jungkook better. With his presence. “If it really wouldn’t be a problem…”

“It wouldn’t,” Yoongi said. “I’ll make sure the tickets are finalized when I get home later, then.”

And that was that. Yoongi picked up a piece of the eel roll and seemed to be completely unconcerned by Taehyung and his red face. Taehyung had been gently steamrolled into a mostly expenses-paid vacation. Though, he thought he could probably pay for something in there somewhere. Gas. Dinner. Something he could thank Yoongi with somehow. He chewed hard on the next roll because a thought occurred to him: a Christmas gift. Yoongi had a great car, and probably a great apartment. He could afford to house and feed his brother, and take him on vacations. What exactly did someone like Yoongi want, much less need? He put that aside for a second, or it was going to fill up his belly more than the food was.

“I know who to take for all-you-can-eat to get my money’s worth,” Yoongi said, when Taehyung had mowed through the rest of the sushi.

“You might have to leave me on the curb,” Taehyung said, patting slowly at his belly.

“I’m sure they have some kind of moving cart around there somewhere,” Yoongi said.

Taehyung groaned instead of laughed, but it didn’t stop him from grinning. He shuffled back out into the cold with Yoongi, relaxing and being tempted to just doze right off with the warm seat.

“We’ll get something from McDonald’s on the way there for Jungkook,” Yoongi said.

Ah. All that worry had some satisfaction after all.

***

The idea of a trip had finals not looking quite like such a bad thing. Though, no, finals were still the giant wall that had to be scaled to get there. Jungkook had rolled his eyes when Taehyung came home asking if Yoongi really meant it, and that Taehyung could really go along. Because yes, apparently Yoongi wouldn’t have brought it up otherwise, and didn’t have much patience for games. Jungkook made noises about Yoongi bringing over winter clothes, and Taehyung was buffeted along on a nice little vacation wind. Though, Yoongi had said three people, meaning Taehyung was going, too. And maybe it’d just been meant for Yoongi and Jungkook? But he’d sworn Jungkook had mentioned Yoongi and a date from some previous trip.

“Is Yoongi bringing his girlfriend on the trip?”

Jungkook, in some ratty old robe eating ramen in the kitchen at ten in the morning, stared back at him for several seconds.

“Um. Hold that thought,” Jungkook said, grabbing his phone and typing something on it rapidly. He nodded his head like he was waiting for some kind of response, which chimed in a few moments later. “Ah, so I just had to be sure he was cool with me telling you. But yeah, no. Yoongi definitely doesn’t have a girlfriend. He’s gay.”

Taehyung blinked. Yoongi? Yoongi, the guy who bought them toilet paper, and bought sushi, and drove an awesome car?

“Hope you’re cool with that?” Jungkook said after a second of Taehyung’s Stunned Silence.

“My best friend is gay!” Taehyung said. And that, in his head, normalized things. Jimin was gay in his own Jimin way, and Yoongi was gay in his own, lawyerly, cool kind of way. That made more sense. It was still not expected, but it sort of— No, he was going to have to think about that some more. Jungkook kind of looked relieved, which made sense. If Yoongi was really into looking after Jungkook, Jungkook had a protective streak for Yoongi to go with the proud one. That sibling bond he kind of envied.

“Then is his boyfriend coming along?” Taehyung asked, realizing then that there were different options for that question.

“Nah. I don’t think he’s dating anyone right now. He usually says something if he is. The last guy he dated moved to like… Australia or Austria or something. I don’t know. He was like, 40 or something.”

Jungkook said “40” like it meant the dude was some kind of crypt keeper. Though, it had Taehyung blinking.

“40?”

“Yeah. He’s into older guys I guess,” Jungkook said, shrugging a shoulder.

If Jungkook guessed, Taehyung had no idea, but he filed that factoid away. He’d forgotten all about it by the time Yoongi bundled in the door with a big box and a sack.

“I’m just about done playing taxi driver for your clothes,” Yoongi said.

“Sure,” Jungkook said, being all cheeky, but leaning on Yoongi’s shoulder. “This is more than I thought.”

“Yeah, I got Mom to drag out everything, in case something will fit Taehyung, too. You don’t have snow pants?” Yoongi asked, leaning around Jungkook.

“Not really,” Taehyung said.

“We’ll tape you in with duct tape then if something doesn’t fit,” Yoongi joked. “Better than jeans. These are your new ones, right?”

Jungkook claimed a set of dark blue snow pants, and a set of gloves, and a hat. A few other things, a coat, more accessories that Taehyung was offered and accepted, and another set of snow pants followed. Taehyung had to think fast, lifting his arms as Yoongi tossed the green pants at him.

“Try these on over the pants you have on, and we’ll see.”

Taehyung was a bit taller than Jungkook, which he was keeping thank you, but the pants fit pretty well. They didn’t cut him off too high, and he’d have boots on over those anyway. He was actually pretty pleased, and then frozen, when Yoongi got down on the floor to poke at something by Taehyung’s knee. He didn’t know where to look. The ceiling seemed weird. Jungkook was definitely out. Yoongi was worse, and Taehyung reminded himself breathing was good. Breathing meant not collapsing onto Yoongi.. What was he even—

“They have a fucking rip. Why are they ripped, Jungkook?” Yoongi asked, glaring over at him.

“I don’t know? Maybe that’s why I got the new ones.”

“I don’t mind,” Taehyung offered. They still fit, and like Yoongi said, it’d be better than just regular pants.

“I do. It’s a pretty straightforward rip, though, so I can get it back together. Won’t be watertight, but. Might be able to put some glue over it or something. That going to bother you?”

Taehyung shook his head back and forth vigorously. “No way. It’ll be like a pirate badge of honor or something.”

Yoongi creaked a little laugh up at him, and Taehyung almost wiggled having gotten that response.

“All right, fine. I’ll take these home and fix them. I think that’s everything, then,” Yoongi said, standing up and nodding over the carnage as Taehyung got back out of the snow pants. “Just, you guys pack what you have here, and I’ll pack these with me once I fix them.”

Better fixing an old pair than buying something new. He was just happy for that at all, and already ten steps closer to enjoying days of snow.

“Thanks for letting me borrow this stuff,” Taehyung said, in a heaven of Jungkook-made hot chocolate several minutes later.

“They’re yours for all I care,” Yoongi said. “Jungkook hasn’t grown two extra legs, and they’d just be tossed out anyway. No way I’m hauling this junk home again.”

“At least not until spring,” Jungkook singsonged.

Yoongi kicked at him, but not very hard. Taehyung grinned at their bickering, settling in and happy, and forgetting about the looming avalanche of finals, at least for a while.

***

Seeing the pile of borrowed clothing, minus the snow pants Yoongi had taken with him, didn’t lessen Taehyung’s stress. He and Jungkook had more or less gifted each other housework which was pretty tame but it wasn’t like they had money pouring out their ears. Yoongi was furnishing him housing, and taking him on an awesome trip, and it wasn’t like he could just pop by and clean Yoongi’s bathroom in thanks. Jungkook was a singular disaster as an informant, because he didn’t know what Yoongi wanted, and Jungkook was getting Yoongi what he apparently always got Yoongi: a new scarf. It was brotherly tradition or some shit that helped Taehyung zero. He couldn’t beg to go halvsies on a scarf.

“Does he like cookies?” Taehyung asked, really grasping at things. He’d done that. He’d baked with his family. Homemade stuff was nice, right? And not like, a paper crane or something. Which was nice! Just, not really the vibe he was going for.

“Does anyone not like cookies?”

“Some people don’t like sweets,” Taehyung pointed out.

“If you put them in front of him, he’ll eat them.”

Taehyung wanted to grab Jungkook by his ankles and wave him out the nearest window until he got a good answer.

“That’s not the same as liking them.”

“He’d— Are you seriously thinking of making him cookies? Look, he’d dig it. He’d probably go all googly eyed and tell you that you didn’t have to, which is what I’ve said a dozen times, too. He isn’t hung up on that stuff.”

Which was how they ended up calling Jungkook’s mom, or Jungkook did mostly as a hostage. No, there wasn’t much Yoongi disliked, was the answer there. And that was fine. Taehyung could work with absolutely no direction at all. He knew what he didn’t want to do, and that was anything fancy. No rolling, or cutting, or anything like that. He could handle balls. That was fine. Or just dropping on cookie dough, and going with it. Chocolate chip cookies were classic for a reason. If Yoongi didn’t really like sugar, he could use a less sweet version of chocolate to balance it out, but still be appealing.

And maybe a sugar cookie. That maybe seemed opposite to his “not extra sweet” campaign but it was for two reasons: one, they looked easy and there was a recipe that didn’t require rolling, and two, he could decorate them. Not like there was anything keeping him from putting colored sugar on the chocolate chip cookies, but it just looked more fun. Even if Taehyung had to eat them all, it was fine.

Taehyung didn’t exactly have stuff for baking coming out his ears, so he debated. He borrowed some cookie sheets and measuring cups from Jimin, and didn’t bother asking what he or Hoseok used them for. They had a big bowl, and a spoon and spatula. Jimin wanted to observe, and maybe record Taehyung baking for posterity, but he wanted to do it himself. When he handed them to Yoongi he wanted to know he’d done every step himself. He was also a little afraid of failing, so he didn’t really want anyone to witness that. And because of Taehyung wanting to give them to Yoongi on the trip - snow, cookies, seemed legitimate - that meant he had banished Jungkook from the kitchen the night before they were set to leave, and stared at his carefully purchased ingredients.

He’d done it before, he told himself. He hadn’t been in charge, but he’d surely learned something by osmosis.

He didn’t have a mixer, so he found a cookie recipe that used melted butter instead. There was even music for a while, until he got distracted bopping to it and losing his place in the recipe. He read the ingredients like, fifteen times at least. And only just remembered to turn on the oven. That helped. Cookies wouldn’t bake at room temperature. But the dough looked okay. It smelled okay. He portioned it onto a baking sheet, and put it in the oven.

And mostly prayed to whatever baking gods there were out there.

Jungkook came wandering out for a drink, and judged him silently for sitting on the floor with his nose an inch from the oven door window. Watching cookie dough melt wasn’t fascinating, but he felt like if he walked away, they’d throw themselves off the pan and onto the heating elements. He wished he’d done a test batch a week before. But knowing his luck, those would’ve been perfect and his real batch would’ve flopped. No, he was doing the right thing. He just had to be in bed by a certain time so he didn’t zombie out to the car. He was still paranoid that Yoongi was just going to pop in at ten at night and catch him at his surprise.

The first cookies out looked like cookies, and tasted like cookies. The second pan was baking as he debated. And then he took a cookie to Jungkook.

“What do you think? A little longer?”

“Tastes fine to me,” Jungkook said, having devoured it in one bite.

Taehyung sighed, and wished Jimin really was there for a second. But yes, he added on an extra minute. They were fine, just a little pale. He just kept rotating pans in, carefully inspecting cookies for flaws, and selecting only the most perfect ones to go in the plain blue tin he’d bought to house them. He wasn’t really counting - just sticking in as many as could fit. He ate most of the ugly ones, reserving a couple in case the others burst into flames or something. He was in a sugar coma by the time the last pan came out of the oven, 300% done with baking, and with a bandage on one finger from swiping it against the oven rack. Eating a cookie while nursing his hand under cold water had helped a little. And Jungkook had only bounced out afraid the whole building was falling down from Taehyung’s yelp. Jungkook got a cookie for that, too. At least Jungkook cared.

The whole counter was splotched with blue sugar from the sugar cookie decorating, smears of chocolate in other places. The sink was brimming with dishes that he grimaced at and then shoved into the dishwasher to run so he didn’t come home to rancid cookie dough dregs.

“They’re so good, Taehyung. I can’t believe you made these, Taehyung,” he muttered to himself, imagining Yoongi’s response when he opened it up. The tin, carefully packed with paper towels, went right into his bag. He could just imagine walking out the door without it and realizing halfway there. He couldn’t just have Yoongi turn around to go back for cookies.

He put the extras in a baggie so Jungkook wouldn’t have to be stealing Yoongi’s, and at midnight, after hours fraught with cookie peril, fell face-first into his pillow. Gift giving was worse than finals.

***

“Shotgun!” Taehyung shouted as they got in sight of the car. He grinned delightedly at Jungkook’s shocked face, and it wasn’t his fault. Yoongi had called to say he was there and they’d hauled their luggage right out to his car.

“When—“ Jungkook protested as Yoongi got the trunk open for them.

“I sat in the front seat when we brought you chicken nuggets,” Taehyung said, since it was still a secret what they’d eaten. No, he wasn’t the little mouse any more. He had precedent!

“We’ll probably stop halfway anyway,” Yoongi said, averting the clash that was brewing. “You can switch then.”

The cookies were burning a hole in Taehyung’s bag and his mind all the way from the trunk, but he ignored it, settling into front seat and buckling in just before Jungkook started squirming between the seats.

“Don’t touch that radio!” Yoongi said, before Jungkook could get there.

Jungkook settled back with a grumble, and Taehyung laughed, Jungkook smacking him on the shoulder.

“You can set it to something,” Yoongi said, giving Taehyung the go-ahead gesture and getting himself buckled in also.

“Really?” Taehyung asked, his lips parting.

“Yeah, really. Just nothing classical. I like it but I want to stay awake until we get there.”

Yoongi sent a venomous but totally toothless glare to the back seat where Jungkook had snorted. Taehyung immediately busied himself learning buttons and how not to deafen them all. Something bubbly and pop started playing, and since Jungkook immediately started singing along, he left it there. And there he was, in a car with Jungkook and Yoongi, and Yoongi was merging them into traffic.

“We’re going on a trip!” Taehyung blurted, absolutely delighted with life.

It was a karaoke session between him and Jungkook when a good song was on, and a complain session when a song came on they didn’t like. Taehyung dutifully fished around until they did find a better one, and happily surfed if they couldn’t find one. Yoongi judged them a little, mostly driving and belting out a word here or there in punctuation in dramatic fashion. But Taehyung was panting and happy and searching for another song, and totally unaware.

“You have a nice voice,” Yoongi said, and Taehyung blinked at him, almost looking to his right like maybe Yoongi was talking to someone beyond the car window.

“I— Oh, I, uh. I like to?” Taehyung tried to say, his face suddenly at peak blood flow at the unexpected compliment.

“You haven’t heard him in the shower at night,” Jungkook said. Taehyung twisted in mock anger as Jungkook did some kind of weird falsetto of a song he’d maybe, maybe sang in the shower once.

“I wasn’t singing for you,” Taehyung shot back, and heard Yoongi laughing a little next to him.

At least Yoongi thought he had a nice voice. He wanted to pass a compliment back but Yoongi hadn’t really been joining in, except throwing out raspy comical interjections or humming, but not really singing. He had a nice speaking voice, but Taehyung kind of wondered what he’d really sound like if he tried. Probably nice, he thought. And he couldn’t just throw out some other compliment like hey, you’re a good driver, or that he liked Yoongi’s soft-looking sweater. So he had to dig deep down and find the unselfconscious part of himself that wasn’t waiting too far along, especially when the bounce of a favorite song started up. It wasn’t like he could really embarrass himself. Yoongi had seen him in his underwear. A few off notes was nothing to the fun.

But it passed the time, maybe too well. He beelined to the restroom the second they stopped, with Yoongi giving an order for a drink to Jungkook and staying behind to gas up the car. No more warm front seat, or sharing grins with Yoongi when Yoongi happened to glance away from the road. He’d be firmly in the back seat again. But he had no complaints. He got himself a drink after his trip to the restroom, and settled into the comfortable back seat as Jungkook cheered his way into the front. Taehyung only jostled the seat a little, before Yoongi got back in. No, he was soul of well-behaved then.

“Everyone buckled and ready? Okay, it’s not much longer,” Yoongi said, glancing back between the seats to confirm with Taehyung, too.

“Ready,” Taehyung said, saluting.

The back seat wasn’t so bad. He could dramatize without worrying about shifting the car out of drive, and at one point he and Jungkook were holding hands over the seat and warbling with the radio.

“I hope you guys don’t do this instead of studying,” Yoongi said.

Jungkook just scoffed at him, and tried to play GPS when they started to see signs for their destination. Skiing! Fireplaces! Taehyung had won the who-got-better-grades race by a third of a grade, if only because Jungkook had accidentally bombed a quiz - something Yoongi had already talked to him about. It made Taehyung feel pretty good considering one of the conditions of the apartment was him not failing out. Not like he wanted Jungkook to have bad grades. That’d make him look like a horrible influence, even if it wasn’t his fault at all. They’d both done well. Yoongi had given them the nod of approval, so that was all that mattered. A few classes down and something like 600 left to go.

Jungkook whooped as the lodge and ski lifts came into sight. Vacation!

***