“Hey, you know what I think?” Taehyung asked, popping his head out from under the covers.
Jimin grunted in response. He had his first paper of the semester due in two hours, and he still had a page and a half left to write. Taehyung had been sulking under the blankets ever since Jimin had told him he needed to focus. It was surprising to see him resurface. Jimin had thought he’d have suffocated a long time ago.
Taehyung traced pictures on Jimin’s hipbone with his finger. “I think we should get married.”
“Taehyung, I told you. Just give me a little bit of time to finish this paper, and then I’ll pay attention to you.”
“No, I’m serious,” Taehyung said, his voice slightly gravely. Jimin’s fingers paused above his keyboard. He looked down at Taehyung. His hair was static-y from the sheets, but the look in his eyes was determined.
“How serious?” Jimin asked.
Jimin huffed. “No, you’re not.” He turned back to his paper. Taehyung wiggled a little and pressed further against him as if Jimin’s twin-size bed didn’t keep them close enough.
“Yes, I am. Really. I’ve been thinking about it, and...” Taehyung took a breath: nervous with his eyebrows pinched together. Jimin tried to ignore him. “I want to spend the rest of my life with you. And I want to always be able to sleep in your bed and use your pillow because I want it to be our bed and our pillow. And I want to make you your weird Annie’s mac and cheese, and I want to squish your cheeks and massage your butt after dance practice.”
“Okay, that happened once, and only because you were being weird.”
Taehyung made a whining noise. “Why won’t you take me seriously?”
“Taehyung,” Jimin snapped. “It’s 10pm on a Tuesday. You’re proposing to me. We’re not even dating. You figure it out.”
Taehyung grabbed Jimin’s hand and forced him to stop typing. Jimin turned to glare at him but stopped when he saw the genuine look in Taehyung’s eyes. His breath caught in his throat. Taehyung rubbed the back of his hand with his thumb. “Maybe we’re not dating, but I love you, Jimin.”
Jimin’s heart seized up. “Oh my god.”
“Okay,” Jimin answered. Maybe Taehyung was crazy, but Jimin had never questioned him before.
“Wow, Jimin. Nice ring,” Hoseok said, taking Jimin’s hand and peering at it closer. Hoseok was touchy when it came to jewelry. “This diamond almost looks real.”
“It is real,” Jimin said, pulling his hand away so he could splay his fingers out above the steering wheel. When Taehyung gave him the ring, his mom had warned him to watch the road while he was driving. Now Jimin understood why. The sunlight had a way of bouncing off the diamond through the windshield and making the whole car glitter. Even quick trips to the grocery store were treacherous affairs.
“What?” Hoseok asked, pulling Jimin’s attention back to the road.
“It’s real,” Jimin repeated. “Taehyung gave it to me. It’s a family heirloom.”
Jimin wasn’t looking at Hoseok, but he could feel his stare drilling into the side of his head. “How did you get a Kim family heirloom?” Jungkook asked from the backseat. He had already taken his Stacy’s pita chips out of his grocery bag and started eating them a handful at a time.
“Oh, um...” Jimin blushed. “Taehyung and I are engaged.”
Jungkook choked on his pita chips.
“What?” Hoseok asked. “You’re engaged? I didn’t even know you were dating!”
Jimin put on his blinker as he turned down College Avenue. “Well, we were never dating. We’re just... engaged now, I guess. Which reminds me...” he pulled up to a stop sign and turned to Hoseok. “I always thought Taehyung would be a groomsman, but considering he’s the groom...” Jimin trailed off, and Hoseok gasped.
“You’re asking me? To be in your bridal party?”
“If you’re willing,” Jimin said.
“Hey!” Jungkook whined. “I want to be a groomsman.”
Jimin looked at Jungkook through the rearview mirror. “Relax, I was going to ask you, too. But one of you have to plan the bachelor party because Yoongi already said he won’t do it.”
“Is Yoongi your best man?” Jungkook asked.
“Well, he is my brother.”
“But I want to be your best man,” Jungkook pouted. “I’m the college roommate. That’s important, too.”
Jimin arched an eyebrow. “Do you? Do you really want to be my best man?” Jimin was a perfectionist, and Jungkook was too naturally gifted to put effort into anything. Besides, the only one who really knew how to calm down a panicked Jimin was Taehyung with Hoseok as a distant second.
“Geez, I’m not even sure I would want to be your best man, come to think of it,” Hoseok teased. “Planning the bachelor party is going to be so stressful.”
“Oh my god, true. Hoseok can do it,” Jungkook promised.
“Suddenly, I’m offended,” Jimin complained. He put the car in drive when a truck behind them beeped for them to move forward.
“I’m just teasing,” Hoseok said. “But honestly, I feel like I’m being thrust into this position. I’m not prepared. I didn’t expect anyone to get married so soon, and now here I am, a groomsman in a bridal party for my two friends who, to my knowledge, weren’t even dating,” Hoseok mused. Jimin sighed. “How did you two end up engaged, anyway?”
“I dunno, he just asked me,” Jimin answered.
“When?” Jungkook demanded.
“So are you dating now?” Hoseok asked.
Jimin frowned. “...I don’t know, I guess.”
“Jimin, no offense, but this sounds weird,” Jungkook said.
“Weddings are never weird,” Hoseok snapped, but his face fell a second later. “Or maybe they are. This does sound kind of sketchy.”
“It’s not so sketchy,” Jimin argued. “Taehyung says he loves me, and I believe him.”
Hoseok’s face softened. “Well, then, I believe it, too. Congratulations, Jimin.”
Jimin looked down at his ring again, the sparkle catching his eye. A fond smile crept onto his face. “Thanks.”
Jimin didn’t have any memories without Taehyung. They had grown up next door to each other; their moms were best friends. Jimin’s mom still bragged about having her babies first, while Taehyung’s mom bragged about her sons being taller. (To be fair, Taehyung and Seokjin were both string beans. How were Jimin and Yoongi supposed to keep up?)
The video footage of Jimin’s first steps showed a baby Taehyung eating a fistful of grass in the background. Jimin’s first kiss was a wet, clumsy thing from a four-year-old Taehyung. Taehyung came to all of Jimin’s dance recitals, even when he played a ladybug for his kindergarten debut, and Taehyung was the one who held Jimin’s hand on their first day of school.
And ever since, Jimin had followed Taehyung’s lead.
Taehyung was confident and outgoing. He made friends easily compared to Jimin, who was shy and chubby for most of primary school. Taehyung introduced Jimin to new people, and foods, and experiences. Taehyung never let Jimin stay home; he was always dragged him out of the house to try new things, like Hawaiian pizza and roller-skating.
Jimin had never once said no to Taehyung, and he had never once regretted it. Not even now, as Taehyung stuffed another wedding cake sample into his mouth. “Ugh, Taehyung, stop, I’m going to explode.”
“But you like cake,” Taehyung said.
“Not this much cake,” Jimin argued. He rubbed his tummy. “I feel like a beach ball.”
“A cute beach ball,” Taehyung promised. “That was lemon and lavender. What do you think?”
Jimin pouted and swallowed. “I dunno... It’s kind of soapy, honestly. I know it’s supposed to be some gourmet thing, but lavender stuff always tastes gross to me.”
“I’ll write ‘soap-flavored’ down in my notes,” Taehyung said. This was the fourth bakery they had visited, and Taehyung had a binder full of flavors and opinions. Mainly Jimin’s opinions. Taehyung was being surprisingly organized about wedding planning and surprisingly thoughtful. He seemed more interested in Jimin’s thoughts and feelings than his own. “Now open up: one more bite. This time imagine being your mom and tell me what she would think about it.”
“No, Taehyung, I can’t eat anym-“ Jimin was cut off when Taehyung fed him another big bite of cake and sugary frosting. Jimin moaned. As much as he was complaining, he really did love cake and it wasn’t often he indulged himself. Most of the time, he was too busy thinking about his waistline, or his dance team, or his mother’s opinions. “Oh my god. This one is really good,” Jimin said.
“It’s chocolate orange,” Taehyung said.
Jimin sat up straight. “But you’re allergic to oranges.”
“Yeah, that’s why I didn’t try it,” Taehyung said.
“Taehyung,” Jimin said. “You can’t be allergic to our wedding cake.”
“If it’s your favorite, I’ll sacrifice,” Taehyung said earnestly, and Jimin huffed and leaned back in his chair. He was too full to sit up straight.
“You’re ridiculous. And anyway, this isn’t my favorite. I think I like the strawberry cake best.”
Taehyung smiled. “Really? I like that one, too.”
Jimin grinned fondly. “Figured you would. And, anyway, our wedding is in June. I think that would be nice and summery.”
“It would be summery!” Taehyung chirped. “I was actually thinking, I mean, if you didn’t have any strong feelings about it, it would be nice to do kind of like... alternating layers with the peach and strawberry? And maybe we could let the colors of the cake show like how they have it in the display case? So, like, pink and peach?”
“Those would be really pretty wedding colors,” Jimin agreed.
Taehyung brightened, hugging his wedding binder to his chest. “You think?”
Jimin nodded. “Sure.”
“Okay,” Taehyung said. He looked pleased. “Okay, so maybe try each cake one more time, just to make sure you like them.”
Jimin groaned. “Ugh, it’s like you want me to get chubby again.”
Taehyung blinked, as if considering. “Oh.” He melted in front of Jimin’s eyes. “Chubby Jimin is really cute. I love chubby Jimin.”
“Well, I don’t love chubby Jimin.”
“That’s okay, svelte Jimin is a good, handsome Jimin, too,” Taehyung said, still misty-eyed. Jimin stuck his tongue out at Taehyung’s dreamy expression.
“It’s not gross. I love all iterations of Jimin,” Taehyung said. “Friend Jimin, fiancé Jimin, and husband Jimin.”
Jimin snorted. “Sure.”
Taehyung frowned. “But I do.”
“Yeah, okay,” Jimin said, stretching his arms above his head and then pulling his shirt down over his tummy. He felt gross. “Are you ready to get out of here?”
“Two more bites,” Taehyung said, stabbing the strawberry cake again. “For both of us.”
Jimin sighed and grabbed his own fork. As he took a bite of peach cake, Taehyung took a bite of strawberry, frosting smearing on his bottom lip. He hummed happily, and Jimin reached across the table unthinkingly. “Here,” Jimin said, thumbing frosting from Taehyung’s bottom lip.
“Thank you, Jimin!” Taehyung chirped, licking the frosting off Jimin’s hand. That was enough to snap Jimin out of it.
“Ew,” he complained, rubbing Taehyung’s spit off his hand onto Taehyung’s t-shirt. Taehyung laughed, and Jimin tried to put the moment behind them. He’d never touched Taehyung’s face like that before; he’d never wanted to. But suddenly, he wanted to cradle Taehyung’s face in both hands and never let him go.
Taehyung spun a quarter on the coffee table. Yoongi slammed his hand down on top of it. “Can you stop that? I’m trying to help you here,” Yoongi said as he skimmed over Taehyung’s resume for a third time. Taehyung was really focused on getting a job. Jimin had never seen him so determined before, except maybe when he was trying to decide on tuxes or suits for the bridal party.
“Sorry,” Taehyung said apologetically, squirming in his seat. Yoongi rolled his eyes and handed back Taehyung’s resume.
“This looks good, kid. I think you’ve nailed it.”
“Really?” Taehyung asked, brightening.
“Yeah, it seems good. But remember, your resume is a fluid document. It should change depending where you’re applying.”
“Right, right, right,” Taehyung said, sticking his resume in his folder. “Thank you so much, Yoongi. Seokjin looked at it, but he’s terrible at this kind of thing. People just give him stuff, you know? It’s his charm.”
Jimin, who had been sitting by the fire and stirring hot chocolate with a spoon, decided to cut into the conversation. “Taehyung, you have just as much charm as Seokjin. Probably even more so.”
Taehyung beamed. “Thanks, Jimin!” He turned back to Yoongi. “And thank you again, Yoongi.”
Yoongi shrugged. “No problem. That’s what brother-in-laws are for,” Yoongi said, and Taehyung’s smile grew impossibly wider. Yoongi frowned. “What?”
“I just... I didn’t think of that! We’re going to be brothers! For real!” Taehyung exclaimed.
Yoongi rolled his eyes. “Well, don’t be too excited about it.”
“No, this is the best news ever!” Taehyung said. “And your mom is going to be my mother-in-law! And your dad will be my father-in-law! This is crazy! This is insane! This is why they say your wedding is the best day of your life! I’ll have Jimin and all of you guys!”
Jimin snorted. “I’m not sure you want all of us,” Jimin said, earning a scoff from Yoongi. Jimin hated coming home for the holidays. As much as he loved seeing Yoongi, his mother could be... stifling. Jimin’s house constantly smelled like Clorox and Pine-Sol. There wasn’t a crumb on the counter or a curtain left undrawn. It was perfect, and Jimin was supposed to somehow fit into this perfect house with his perfect family like he was perfect too.
Jimin was far from perfect.
Taehyung was close with his big smile and long, skinny limbs.
“No, I do,” Taehyung said honestly. “It’s exciting. You guys have always felt like family, now we can make it official.”
Yoongi groaned. “Fuck. I guess I’m stuck with you forever.”
“Rude,” Taehyung said, trying to kick at Yoongi, but Yoongi caught his ankle. Taehyung yelped as Yoongi tried to pull him off the couch by his leg.
Jimin licked his hot chocolate spoon, watching as Yoongi and Taehyung wrestled. Taehyung was losing, but —per usual when the wedding was the topic of discussion— he looked happy. Jimin wasn’t sure he felt the same way. The wedding felt... distant. Hoseok kept asking how he was feeling about it, and Jimin kept answering ‘surreal,’ like it wasn’t ever happening and it wasn’t ever coming despite how much planning he had done for it.
Jimin pulled out his phone and texted Hoseok.
FROM: Jimin (8:06)
Jin is going to be my brother-in-law
FROM: Hoseok (8:07)
FROM: Jimin (8:07)
“Jimin, help!” Taehyung squealed as Yoongi pinned Taehyung’s lanky arms to the ground. Jimin rolled his eyes and got up from his cozy spot in his grandpa’s rocking chair.
“I got you, kid,” he said, tickling Yoongi’s neck to make him squirm off of Taehyung. Jimin looked at Taehyung, judging. “You’ve known Yoongi almost as long as I have. You should have learned his ticklish spots by now.”
“Tickling is cheating in wrestling,” Taehyung said.
“Yeah, it’s cheating,” Yoongi said through laughter. “Cut it out!”
“Fine. As long as you promise to leave my TaeTae alone,” Jimin said, extending a hand to Taehyung to help him off the ground.
“He attacked me first!” Yoongi complained. Jimin’s phone buzzed in his pocket.
FROM: Hoseok (8:09)
Having second thoughts?
Jimin frowned down at the text message and looked at Taehyung, who was a little bit flushed and already wrapped up in another argument with Yoongi (this time about who started it). Jimin paled. He didn’t think he could put up with a lifetime of Yoongi and Taehyung goofing around, but even if he didn’t marry Taehyung, he didn’t think he’d be able to avoid it.
FROM: Jimin (8:10)
No. I don’t think so.
At least for now.
Jimin stabbed at a crack in the housing insulation with black paint. He was taking stagecrafts as a creative expression course. Taehyung had insisted on going to a liberal art school, and Jimin couldn't imagine college without his best friend, so now here he was: stuck painting sets every Monday afternoon for lab.
Fortunately, he’d been able to convince Hoseok to join him.
“So,” Hoseok asked, dry-brushing some crates a steely grey. Jimin was stuck painting cracks in the rocks of the larger flats. “Jungkook said that Taehyung spent the night in your room. ‘Said he woke up to the sight of a naked Taehyung smothering you in your sleep.” Hoseok wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
Jimin crinkled his nose. “So? Taehyung sleeps over all the time.” Jimin dipped his brush in the paint bucket and remembered to add on, “And he wasn’t naked. Just shirtless. Taehyung only sleeps in boxers, everyone knows that.”
“Still,” Hoseok said.
“Why is this suddenly a big deal?” Jimin asked.
Hoseok blinked slowly. “I mean, you’re engaged.”
“Oh my god.” Jimin dropped his paintbrush and it splattered on the black box floor. “Nothing happened. Taehyung just thinks it’s comfortable to sleep on top of me.”
Jimin held his hands up, as if warding off Hoseok’s doubt. “No, no. My mom used to freak out because baby Taehyung would try to smother me in my sleep. Our parents stopped letting us nap in the same crib.”
“Right,” Hoseok said.
“Seriously,” Jimin promised, bending down to pick up his paintbrush. “I mean, Taehyung would never... He’s never... I mean, he hasn’t even-“
“Jimin,” Hoseok interrupted. “Taehyung did propose to you. If you’re suggesting that Taehyung wouldn’t make a move on you, like... too late. He already did.”
“Yeah, but it’s not like that,” Jimin said, waving his hand.
Hoseok frowned. “Then why are you getting married?”
“TaeTae loves me,” Jimin answered. He stabbed at the Styrofoam harder, trying to get to the back of the crack with his paintbrush.
Hoseok was quiet for a minute. “Do you love him?” he asked eventually, and Jimin licked his lips.
“O-Of course,” he said. “He’s Taehyung. I spend every minute of my life with Taehyung.” Jimin slowed his painting and stared into the black crack like it was endless abyss instead of only a few inches deep. “...Taehyung is an amazing person. He doesn’t overthink his decisions. He’s confident. He works hard, but he knows how to take breaks and have fun, and he pulls me away from my homework, and he distracts me, and he compliments me, and he looks at me like... I dunno, like I matter. He listens. He cares. Of course I love him,” he said, this time certain.
“Then do you think you two could ever...” Hoseok makes a wiggly motion with his fingers. Jimin winced.
“He’s Taehyung,” Jimin said.
“That’s not an answer.”
“He’s Taehyung,” Jimin said with finality. “What will come will come. This is just a wedding, it doesn’t have to mean anything.”
“If you say so,” Hoseok said, but he didn’t sound convinced. Jimin stabbed at the wall again. There was no reason to rush to conclusions. Taehyung was his fiancé, but he didn’t have to be anything more just yet. They had time.
Taehyung blew on Jimin’s coffee for him, and Jimin snatched it from Taehyung’s hands. “Okay, enough of that,” Jimin said, taking a sip and for once not scalding his mouth on hot coffee. “But thank you,” he tacked on begrudgingly.
Across the table, Seokjin held up his cup to Namjoon. Namjoon rolled his eyes and blew on it for him.
“So,” Seokjin asked, drinking his caramel macchiato smugly. “How is the wedding planning going?”
“Great!” Taehyung chirped. “I was worried with classes and graduation it would be stressful, but it’s coming together really easily.”
“Speak for yourself,” Jimin said. “Finals are coming up next week, and Taehyung has barged into my room to ask about centerpieces at least six separate times in the past two days.”
“I have candle inquiries,” Taehyung said.
“The wedding isn’t until June. I don’t even know what I’m getting you for Christmas yet, let alone what to get for centerpieces for our wedding tables that will be set in an undetermined location where we’ll eat undetermined food from an undetermined caterer.”
“Wedding stress,” Taehyung said dismissively. Jimin bit his lip. Wedding stress...
Seokjin hummed. “It’s crazy you two are getting married,” he said, staring at Taehyung thoughtfully. Namjoon shoveled apple crisp into his mouth. “All this time, I was so worried about baby TaeTae finding a partner. I should have known the perfect husband was right under my nose the whole time.”
“Is it surprising that it’s me?” Jimin asked, suddenly uneasy. He’d been rolling with the punches for most of the engagement so far, but he was starting to feel... anxious.
“No, no,” Seokjin promised. “It’s just, well, I would have thought Namjoon and I would have gotten married first, considering we’ve been dating for three years.”
Namjoon bristled. “If that’s another ‘subtle’ hint that I should propose, I’ve told you already. I want to be-“
“Financially secure, yeah, yeah, yeah,” Seokjin finished for him. “But look at Taehyung and Jimin. They’re not worried about finances, or graduation, or anything. They’re just worried about each other.”
“Okay, well, we’re not Taehyung and Jimin,” Namjoon said.
“Maybe you’re not Taehyung and Jimin,” Seokjin said with an eye roll.
“That doesn’t even make sense.”
“Jimin and I,” Taehyung said, resting a hand on Jimin’s. Jimin hadn’t even realized how fast his heart had been beating until Taehyung’s touch calmed it down. “Are figuring it out one step at a time. I know I love him and want to spend the rest of my life with him. We’ll figure the rest out.”
Jimin wasn’t so sure. “What do you mean ‘worry about finances’?” Jimin asked.
Namjoon frowned and straightened his glasses. “Well... You both don’t have jobs yet. How are you going to support yourselves? Where are you going to live?”
“We’ll live together,” Taehyung said confidently.
Jimin blanched at the thought. “We will?”
Taehyung licked his lips. His hand found Jimin’s. “Yeah, we’ll be married.”
Jimin pulled his hand away. “Oh.”
There was an awkward pause, and Seokjin clapped his hands together to break it. “Well. I’m sure it will be fine. Does anyone else want apple crisp? Namjoon practically swallowed his.”
“It was delicious,” Namjoon said, helping with the subject change.
“Sure,” Taehyung said gracefully. Jimin stayed silent. “And Jimin will take one too.”
“On it,” Seokjin said, standing up. “Jimin, would you want to help me carry them over? I think I’ll need more than two hands.”
“You should know,” Namjoon said with a pointed look at Jimin through his glasses, “When one of the Kims asks you to do something, there’s no saying no.”
Jimin swallowed. “I’m well aware,” he said, standing up from his chair on wobbly knees. He followed Seokjin to the counter. Seokjin ordered and lead him over to the pick up counter.
Seokjin rubbed his back a little. “You and I both know Taehyung can be a little shortsighted,” he said sympathetically as they waited.
Jimin sighed. “Tell me about it.”
Seokjin snorted and then looked at Jimin so thoughtfully, it made Jimin squirm. He’d known Seokjin just as long as he had known Taehyung. He was just as much of a brother to him as Yoongi. Seokjin could see right through him. “Taehyung is also a little oblivious. And he feels things really deeply, really fast.”
This time when Jimin swallowed, his mouth felt dry. “He... He’s like that sometimes, yeah.”
Seokjin nodded. “But Taehyung is also a good listener. And he accepts when he is wrong.”
Jimin kicked at the ground. “Maybe.”
“You could talk to him,” Seokjin said, “if you’re having second thoughts.”
“I’m not having second thoughts,” Jimin said, side-eyeing Taehyung from across the coffee shop. He was laughing at something Namjoon had said, head thrown back so his long neck was full on display. To be honest, Jimin had never thought much about getting married in the first place. “I just... didn’t think about living arrangements or anything like that.”
“I understand,” Seokjin said. “Namjoon’s really freaked out about that kind of thing, but I think Taehyung is right. It’ll work itself out. Worry is only wasted time.”
Jimin crinkled his nose. “You’re the most anxious person I know.”
“Which is why you can trust that I know what I’m talking about,” Seokjin said, winking. He ruffled Jimin’s hair, and Jimin scuttled out from under his touch.
“I know it will be fine,” Jimin promised. “I trust Taehyung. I love him. It’ll be okay.”
“It will be okay,” Seokjin agreed. “Whatever you decide to do.”
With a ding, their order was served ar the pick up counter: three steaming apple crisps. Jimin helped Seokjin carry them back to the table and tried not to feel guilty while he slowly picked at his. At the very least, Taehyung seemed delighted to see him eating, like the moment of tension between them had completely washed away.
There was a knock on Jimin’s window. There was only one person it could be.
Jimin crawled out of bed and unlocked the latch. “Hey, what’s up?” he asked, Taehyung crouching on their town house’s connected roof. Taehyung’s window was wide open, and Jimin could see snowflakes fluttering onto his windowsill.
It would be a white Christmas.
“I couldn’t sleep,” Taehyung said. “I was thinking about you.”
“You were thinking about me because you couldn’t sleep? Or you couldn’t sleep because you were thinking about me?” Jimin asked.
“...Both,” Taehyung answered. “I don’t want you to be mad at me.”
“I’m not mad at you,” Jimin said, confused. Taehyung didn’t offer an explanation. Jimin opened the window wider. “Why don’t you come in? If you fall off the roof and die on Christmas Eve, my mom will never let me hear the end of it.”
“You mean my mom’ll never let you hear the end of it,” Taehyung laughed, but it was forced. Jimin frowned.
Taehyung crawled into Jimin’s bedroom. There was a big wrapped box in his hands, and Jimin bit his lip, wondering what it could be. Absentmindedly, Jimin twirled Taehyung’s ring around on his finger.
Silence stretched between them, and Taehyung took a big breath of air, so sudden it startled Jimin in the quiet. “I don’t want you to be mad at me,” Taehyung said again.
“I’m not mad at you,” Jimin repeated, just the same. “Why do you think I’m mad at you?”
“I don’t know,” Taehyung said, his eyebrows pinching together. He looked confused, like Jimin was a problem instead of just Jimin. Taehyung was never confused by Jimin.
“Hey,” Jimin cooed. He reached out and grabbed Taehyung’s hand. “I’m not mad at you. Don’t be sad. What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know,” Taehyung repeated. He looked down at his feet. “I don’t have a job.”
“That’s okay,” Jimin promised.
“I’m supposed to support you,” Taehyung said.
Jimin brushed his fingers over Taehyung’s cheek. “We’re supposed to support each other.”
Jimin leaned in. Taehyung gasped a little. Jimin hadn’t realized how close he had gotten to Taehyung until his lips were pressed to Taehyung’s forehead. He pulled away with a kiss. Taehyung squeezed his hand in a death grip. “I love you, Jimin.”
“I know you do,” Jimin said, fingers coming up to his mouth in shock.
“I... I bought you your Christmas present, but I don’t want to give it to you with everyone else watching tomorrow. Do you think... do you think we could give each other our gifts now?” Taehyung asked. He looked a little teary and a little overwhelmed, just like Jimin.
“Um... Sure,” Jimin agreed. “Let me just grab it.”
Jimin fished Taehyung’s present out from under his dirty laundry. Taehyung sat on his bed and fiddled with the bow on Jimin’s present. He passed it to him wordlessly, and Jimin sat next to him before opening it. Things usually weren’t so quiet between them, but Jimin had been avoiding Taehyung for the past couple days. Apparently it had been obvious.
Jimin tore off the paper. “Taehyung...” It was a box full of books. The Five Love Languages, You’re So Money, and a red plaid cookbook.
“I thought, maybe, you know, we should be prepared,” Taehyung said as Jimin looked closer at the contents. “So... so I read all of these, and now I’m giving them to you, so you can read them too, because I thought... I thought a book on marriage, a book on finance, and a book on cooking would be good to start out our life together, you know?”
Suddenly, Jimin felt overwhelmed again. The house was so quiet. “Oh, Taehyung,” he said again, choked up. “Taehyung, you read all of these?”
Taehyung nodded. “... I’m physical touch and quality time,” he said, and belatedly, Jimin realized he was talking about love languages. “I think you’re words of affirmation and acts of service, but you should take the test so I can know for sure.”
“Taehyung,” Jimin squeaked again, like it was all he was capable of saying. “This is so thoughtful. I’ll read all of these, honest.” Jimin was touched that Taehyung had thought to prepare for their future. Taehyung was so considerate, and Jimin was such an asshole. “Fuck, my gift is so stupid compared to this.”
“Well, what did you get me?” Taehyung asked.
Jimin gestured to the box now in Taehyung’s lap, pushing tears away with the base of his palm. “See for yourself.”
“’Kay.” Taehyung ripped open the wrapping paper. Jimin hid his face behind his hands, humiliated.
“We usually do funny gifts,” Jimin said. “I thought we were doing funny gifts.”
“Oh my god.”
Jimin had bought Taehyung knitted elephant underwear. There were two eyes on the front and the trunk was.... Well, it’s obvious what the trunk was supposed to be. There were even ears and a tail sewn on the hips and butt respectively. “You like elephants. You have elephants.” Jimin pinched about where Taehyung’s mole-elephant would be, if he weren’t dressed for a snowstorm. “We usually do silly gifts.”
“I... I love it,” Taehyung said, his face suddenly lighting up in a massive smile. “Oh my god, this is the best thing I’ve ever been given.”
Jimin held his breath. “Really? I thought you could like, I don’t know, sleep in them.”
“Yes,” Taehyung said. “Yes, I can sleep in them. As long as it doesn’t creep you out, sharing a bed with me and my new friend,” Taehyung said, holding the underwear close to his chest. He looked so happy.
Jimin’s stomach flip-flopped. “Of course not,” he said, anxiety about their wedding creeping back into his heart. He hadn’t thought about having to share a bed with Taehyung.
“You’re the best,” Taehyung said with a smile, but Jimin didn’t feel like it.
“Jimin,” Taehyung said, barging into Jimin’s dorm at seven in the morning. It was the first day back at school. Jimin was still on a winter break schedule: going to bed at three in the morning and waking up at noon.
On the other side of the room, Jungkook whined and curled to face the wall.
“Shh,” Jimin hushed Taehyung gently. He blindly stretched a hand out for Taehyung, squinting in the early morning light. The second Taehyung was in reach Jimin pulled him close. “What do you need?” he asked quietly, trying not to disturb his roommate. They were both still snuggled up in bed, covers up to their chins.
“I don’t know what to wear,” Taehyung whispered, still too loud.
Jimin blinked. He squinted at Taehyung, his eyes nearly swollen closed. “You’ve never cared about what you wear,” he pointed out.
“Yeah, but today I have a job interview.”
“Shit, right,” Jimin said, sitting up. He scrubbed at his eyes and belatedly realized that Taehyung had his whole entire wardrobe in his hands. Jimin took his clothes and started leafing through them. Taehyung had two suits and three work shirts. Jimin bit his bottom lip. “I think your grey suit and your blue shirt.”
“What tie?” Taehyung asked. He didn’t argue. Jimin put a hand to his forehead. Why didn’t Taehyung ever argue with him?
“Um... The navy one would look nice. But don’t wear the rubber ducky tie-pin. Borrow my plain one.”
“Okay,” Taehyung agreed. He gave Jimin a kiss. “Thanks, Jiminnie.”
Jimin blinked. He fell back on his mattress. “No problem,” he said, voice watery, but Taehyung had already ducked out back to his dorm. Jimin stared up at the ceiling, fear freezing his limbs to ice. “Taehyung just kissed me,” he said out loud.
“Yeah, man, he’s your fiancé,” Jungkook grumbled.
Jimin scrunched his eyes closed and rolled onto his side. “Oh my god.”
In the quiet of the library, Jimin was hyperaware of Taehyung’s hand sneaking closer and closer to his own. Jimin moved out of Taehyung’s reach. Taehyung scooted his chair over. Jimin held onto his textbook with white knuckles. Taehyung pried his fingers away.
Jimin clenched his teeth together when Taehyung somehow managed to successfully hold his hand.
Hoseok looked up from his computer. “Cute,” he said, noticing Taehyung’s happy smile and Jimin’s blush.
Taehyung, encouraged, leaned over and kissed Jimin’s cheek.
Jimin hopped his chair a little closer towards Jungkook’s side of the table. At the sudden closeness, Jungkook’s eyes flickered away from his own homework. “I see you two are finally acting like a couple.”
“I love Jimin,” Taehyung said out loud.
“Taehyung loves me,” Jimin groaned, putting his head down on the table.
“Of course I do,” Taehyung promised. Jimin tensed. He didn’t have to look up to feel Hoseok’s stare on the back of his neck.
Taehyung seemed to sense Jimin’s discomfort.
A painfully awkward tension fell over the group until Taehyung stood up from the table. “Ah, well, I should be going. I have class now,” Taehyung said, which was a lie Jimin wouldn’t call him out on. “I’ll see you guys later.”
“See you,” Jungkook said, oblivious. Taehyung left, the warmth of his hand leaving Jimin’s, and Jimin peeked his head up to watch him go. He had wanted Taehyung to stop touching him, he had wanted him to go away, but seeing him leave so painfully wasn’t the way Jimin wanted it to happen.
“Jimin,” Hoseok said.
“Please don’t,” Jimin said.
“Are you leading him on?” Hoseok demanded.
“What?” Jungkook asked, whipping his head up from his math homework.
“No,” Jimin promised, aghast.
“Then what the hell was that?” Hoseok asked.
“He was...” Jimin screwed his face up. “He was touching me. Like... like more than a friend.”
“You are more than friends,” Hoseok said. “You’re engaged. He loves you. He’s supposed to want to touch you and hold your hand. You’re supposed to want that back.”
“It’s different with us,” Jimin insisted.
“Is that what Taehyung says? Or is that just what you say?”
“What does it matter?” Jimin asked. “Taehyung and I are usually on the same page.” He wrung his hands together. Jungkook was looking at him with big round eyes, and Hoseok was glaring at him.
“I don’t like this,” Hoseok said.
Jimin frowned. “Then don’t be in the wedding.”
Hoseok blinked. His face fell. “What?”
“You heard me,” Jimin said, closing his textbooks and cramming them in his backpack. “I’m leaving.”
“Jimin-“ Hoseok tried, but Jimin was already gone.
FROM: Hoseok (1:02am)
Look, I’m sorry
I just want you to make the right decision
For BOTH of your sakes
FROM: Jimin (3:04pm)
Well don’t worry so much
I know I’m making the right choice.
FROM: Hoseok (3:06pm)
As long as you’re sure
The problem with fighting with Taehyung was that —even when they disagreed or when tension rose between them— Jimin couldn’t exist without him. He still found himself in Taehyung’s room or vice versa.
Right now, they weren’t exactly fighting, but they definitely weren’t comfortable. Jimin didn’t know if he should blame Taehyung or himself for the stifling atmosphere building between them. Jimin was the one who had pulled himself into a ball the second Taehyung sat on his bed. Taehyung was the one who refused to relax his shoulders.
Jimin tapped away at his data analysis for his thesis. He was majoring in biology with hopes to become a doctor one day. He knew that was part of the reason Taehyung was so stressed to find a job. If Jimin wanted to go to medical school, Taehyung would have to support them on his own. Currently, Taehyung was pounding out another cover letter for an interview he had at the end of the week if the last couple job applications didn’t turn out.
Jimin assumed it was because of the cold February air creeping into his dorm room.
Taehyung sniffled again.
Jimin looked up sharply. “TaeTae?”
“Sorry,” Taehyung squeaked. He hid his face behind his hands. “Sorry, God, I didn’t want to bother you again, I’m so sorry, I’m fine. Work on your thesis, I’m fine.”
Jimin bit his lip, not sure what to do or say. But he’d never missed out on an opportunity to comfort Taehyung, and he wasn’t going to start now. “You’re not fine.”
“Yes I am.”
“Shh,” Jimin hushed. He saved his work and put down his laptop. Taehyung flinched away from him when Jimin crawled across the mattress. “Hey,” Jimin said. He ran a hand through Taehyung’s hair. “Why is TaeTae crying? What’s wrong?”
Taehyung shook his head.
“Come on, don’t do that. Is it because of me? Did I do something wrong?” he asked, knowing full well that he’d been ignoring and avoiding Taehyung for months now. He wasn’t being a good fiancé, and he was sure it was stressing Taehyung out.
“It’s not you,” Taehyung promised. “It’s just... My mom is texting me about- About how she can’t afford real plates for the reception, and your mom is mad because she wants there to be dishes, but my family can only afford plastic right now with my dad’s business not doing well, and...” Taehyung took a gasping breath. “And I don’t care that it’s plastic, but I want your mom to be happy and proud because I know how important it is for you that she approves, but... but it’s so hard to make everything happen that needs to happen.”
“Taehyung-” Jimin tried, but Taehyung steamrolled over him.
“And I don’t have a job. And my parents aren’t going to be able to help us. I need to have a job so you don’t have to worry, and so you can go to school and study. But I’m not good at interviewing, and I’m not qualified to do anything, and I don’t think my portfolio is big enough, and Com majors don’t even make a lot of money when they’re good students, and I’m such an idiot, I have no idea how I’m supposed to beat out people with experience and... and knowledge. I’m not doing a good job, I’m not working hard enough, everything is a mess, and now I’m bugging you again, and—“
“Okay, hey, hey, hey, you’re not bothering me,” Jimin promised. “Don’t be worried about that. You can’t help when you need a hug.” Speaking of, Jimin gently moved Taehyung’s computer out of his lap and opened his arms wide for Taehyung to crawl into. Taehyung looked at him nervously. “Come here, TaeTae. I want to help.”
“I don’t want to make you have to help.”
“Taehyung, I’m your best friend. Of course I have to help when you’re sad, that’s practically written into the job description.”
Taehyung squeezed his eyes shut. “Please don’t talk about job descriptions.”
“Just come here,” Jimin cooed, pulling Taehyung into his lap. Taehyung followed his touch willingly, clinging with arms and legs. It had been a long time since Jimin had held Taehyung, and having him so close made Jimin’s stomach knot up painfully. “I’ve been neglecting my TaeTae,” he realized out loud. “I’m sorry, TaeTae. I’m sorry.”
Taehyung sniffled. “It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not. I missed you,” Jimin said honestly. Taehyung was huge in his lap: tall and gangly. But his shoulders were narrow and his waist was miniscule. “And you’ve got so much piled up, I wish I had known.”
“I don’t want to be a bother,” Taehyung said, and Jimin shushed him.
“You’re never a bother,” Jimin promised, smoothing the hair at the nape of Taehyung’s neck. “And you’re putting too much pressure on yourself. That’s my job.”
Taehyung managed a laugh at that.
Jimin drew circles on the back of his neck, Taehyung’s head slotted perfectly under his jaw. “I don’t care about the plates. My mom might, but also my mom’s a dick, so it’s fine. And I don’t need you to get a job straight away for us. I don’t even need you to support me. If we have to live at home for a little, that’s okay. We’re practically in the same house anyway, there’s only a wall between us.”
“I just...” Taehyung trailed off, and Jimin rubbed his back, urging him to continue. “I just want to be a good husband, and I know I’m already failing.”
“You’re not failing,” Jimin said. “You couldn’t possibly be failing.”
“What makes you figure that?” Taehyung asked.
“Because you’re not a husband yet. You’re just a fiancé. And you’re doing a great job,” Jimin promised. “I’m sorry I haven’t been making you feel that way, but you really, really are.”
“Really?” Taehyung asked.
“Yes, goofball, I just said ‘really’ twice,” Jimin said, tickling Taehyung’s side. Taehyung didn’t have the energy to laugh, and Jimin felt awful. “I’m going to do a better job of making sure you know how great you are. I’m sorry I’ve been ignoring you for so long.”
“It’s okay,” Taehyung said. “Wedding stress.”
Jimin smiled wanly. “Yeah. Wedding stress.”
When Jimin got back from his night class, Taehyung was waiting outside his door. “Ready to go?” Taehyung asked.
“Sure, let me just put my stuff down,” Jimin said.
Taehyung had been going on interviews between classes and group projects for the past two months, but finally he had gotten a job. The smile on his face when he told Jimin was almost unreal.
Jimin had always loved Taehyung’s smile (he had always been proud of him), but there were some moments where Jimin’s feeling for Taehyung snuck up on him. He loved him so much. Jimin had always loved Taehyung. Even if it was strange to be engaged, he loved Taehyung.
And Taehyung had a job! That was so exciting! Jimin was taking him to glow bowling to celebrate. You had to be 18 or older to go to “glow bowling” at their hometown’s bowling alley. Jimin and Taehyung had been dying to find out why since they were seven.
“I can’t believe we’re actually doing this,” Jimin said as they walked out to Jimin’s Jeep.
“Neither can I,” Taehyung said excitedly.
It wasn’t a far drive to the bowling alley. As much as Jimin had wanted to get away from his mother, Taehyung hadn’t wanted to move away from his own. Their college was half an hour away from home max (like... fatal car accident and rush hour traffic max).
“Hey, you want to know what I’m wearing?” Taehyung asked, throwing his feet up on the dashboard.
Jimin looked at Taehyung skeptically. “Um... sure?”
Taehyung pulled at the ankles of his jeans. “Ta-da!” As he lifted the hems to his jeans, he revealed neon rainbow socks.
Jimin snorted. “To glow in the dark?” Jimin asked. Taehyung nodded. “Well, then. Fun fact: I’m wearing a little something-something, too.”
“A little something-something?” Taehyung asked. Jimin slyly lifted up the bottom of his sweatshirt. Taehyung gasped. “Is that-“
“It’s neon orange.”
“It’s glow bowling. For 18 and up.”
Taehyung’s smile couldn’t stretch any wider. “You’re so prepared,” he teased.
Jimin hummed and pulled the car out of his parking spot. “I’ve been waiting for this night my whole life. I’ve had a long time to think about it.” He swiveled his head to make sure he wasn’t backing into anything. When he turns back around to face the windshield, he catches Taehyung staring at him. “What?”
“I just... I dunno, you seem like you’re in a good mood.”
“I’m always in a good mood,” Jimin said. He threw on his blinkers as he pulled out of the parking lot.
“Not with me.”
Jimin huffed. “Well, that’s because you won’t stop kissing me, weirdo,” Jimin said. Taehyung puckered his lips, and Jimin shoved his face away before he could get too close. “Chill out,” he whined.
“But I like kissing Jiminnie.”
Jimin rolled his eyes. “No, you don’t.”
“Yes, I do. I like your fluffy, happy, pillow-y Jimin lips,” Taehyung said, reaching out to poke at Jimin’s mouth. Jimin smiled into Taehyung’s hand and dodged his head away.
“Yeah, okay,” he said dismissively.
“Just one more kiss,” Taehyung said, leaning in and Jimin nearly jerked the car off the road.
“Taehyung! I’m trying to drive!”
“But I love you!”
“Believe me, I know,” Jimin promised.
“What about you?” Taehyung asked. Jimin hummed, and Taehyung clarified. “Do you love me, too?”
Jimin bit his bottom lip, holding back a smile. He reached for Taehyung’s hand, finding it on the center console. “Of course, I do. You’re my TaeTae.”
“But you love me love me, right?” Taehyung asked.
Jimin giggled. “What does that even mean?”
“Like... you love me like I love you?”
“I love you every way I could love you, Taehyung,” Jimin promised, genuine, as he pulled onto the highway. He had to turn his head to merge, but when he looked back, Taehyung seemed happier than Jimin had seen him in weeks. “Hey, goofball, how about you turn on some music for us, huh, pumpkin?”
“Pumpkin is on it,” Taehyung agreed, stealing the aux chord. Six versions of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” later, Jimin was parking the car at the bowling alley.
“What are you most hoping it’ll be?” Jimin asked as Taehyung belted out the final notes. He loved how happy Taehyung looked when he was singing. He loved how Taehyung danced in the car.
“Strippers,” Taehyung said, breaking out of song.
“Lady strippers or gentleman strippers?”
Taehyung jumped a little in his seat. “You know, I never considered male strippers at the bowling alley, but now that I am, that’s what I’m hoping for.”
Jimin snorted. “I’m trying to think of some good bowling euphemisms,” he said.
Taehyung unclicked his seatbelt. “Hey, baby, you can knock my pins down any day. Don’t forget to polish my balls after.”
“Ew,” Jimin complained. He paused. “Now I’m trying to come up with a joke about bowling balls and, like, the three holes for your fingers? I feel like there’s gotta be something there.”
“Three more holes for dick,” Taehyung said, punching his armrest.
“Oh my god, we’re getting out of the car,” Jimin demanded. He climbed down out of his jeep and closed the door behind him. Taehyung appeared on the other side of the car, and Jimin let him lace their fingers together. He was trying to be a better friend to Taehyung and not squirm away every time Taehyung touched him. “Ready?” Jimin asked.
“God, no. This night is a lifetime in the making.”
“Save that kind of talk for the wedding day,” Jimin teased. He squeezed Taehyung’s hand. “Let’s go, kiddo.”
They walked up to the sliding doors where a bouncer awaited them. “ID?” Taehyung bounced on his toes as he handed over his license. Jimin had to let go of Taehyung’s hand to fish in his wallet. “You’re good,” the bouncer said, once he verified their ages.
“I’m going to pass out,” Taehyung said as the automatic doors opened in front of him.
There were no strippers —male or female— waiting to greet them. In fact, it looked just like a normal night of bowling, just with less couples and more black lights. A Katy Perry music video was playing so loudly on the televisions, Jimin couldn’t hear himself think.
“This seems just like normal,” Taehyung shouted over the music.
“Maybe we should ask someone,” Jimin said. He went up to the shoe rental counter. “Hey!” he yelled. “Why is it 18 and up tonight?”
“Ah, we sell alcohol on Thursday nights! Gotta keep a handle on things, make sure no one gets crazy.”
Jimin looked around and saw a handful of younger-looking patrons wearing color-coded bracelets. There were maybe only ten people in the place. Jimin looked to Taehyung, who had been pressed to his side, listening in, and Taehyung frowned. “I don’t drink,” he said over the music. “This is super anticlimactic. Want to just leave?”
“I guess,” Jimin answered. He followed Taehyung out through the doors, past the bouncer, and into the car. Come to think of it, Jimin hated bowling and so did Taehyung. It wasn’t until Jimin was trying to buckle himself in with his seatbelt that he started laughing.
“What?” Taehyung asked. “Aren’t you disappointed?”
“Wh-Wh-Wh-“ Jimin was laughing too hard to get it out. “Why didn’t we just ask?” he asked.
Taehyung looked at him, eyebrows nestled together, before a giggle escaped past his teeth. The sound of Taehyung laughing made Jimin laugh harder, until he was doubled over in the driver’s seat, and Taehyung was slumped up against the passenger window, feet on the dashboard, as he laughed so hard he cried.
“I was hoping for so much more,” Jimin wheezed, wiping tears from his eyes. “I let it build up so much in my brain.”
“Same,” Taehyung said, still snickering in spurts. “I thought I’d get to smoke hookah or something.”
“Well, we can still do that,” Jimin offered.
Taehyung blanched. “Ah, no, that seems....” Taehyung trailed off. “I mean, I know you’re wearing a mesh shirt, but I just wanted to have a nice time with you, not like... I mean... There are things— I don’t want to go crazy, I just—“
“Hey,” Jimin said, cutting Taehyung off. He knew Taehyung was nervous about things like smoking and drinking. (He had a great family with great morals. He didn’t feel the same need to escape Jimin did sometimes.) “I have a better idea. Let’s get Gelato.”
Taehyung relaxed. “Yes.”
Jimin smiled. Usually he didn’t like eating junk food, but for Taehyung, he’d do just about anything.
Jimin found that the best way to distress about wedding planning was to pretend it didn’t exist. He and Taehyung weren’t engaged. The ring on his finger was just a ring, not a symbol of the inevitable death of a bachelor. Jimin was graduating college with his best friend at his side, and nothing was going to change at all.
Jimin was living a lie, but it made it easier to talk to Taehyung.
“Okay, so I know you’re not the biggest jazz fan, but what about ‘Come Away with Me’ by Norah Jones,” Taehyung suggested. They were sitting on Jimin’s dorm room floor with cheap Chinese food spread between them (including the super doughy fried dumplings Jimin loved and two orders of shrimp lo mein), as well as Taehyung’s wedding binder. They were trying to nail down some last minute details. Currently, they were choosing the song for their first dance.
“That’s boring,” Jimin said.
“You’ve said that about every choice I’ve made,” Taehyung said, cramming a third piece of General Tso’s into his mouth. Jimin grimaced as his cheeks bulged out.
“That’s because you keep picking Ed Sheeran and Frank Sinatra songs,” he said, picking at his sweet and sour chicken. “I want to be original. We should do something different.”
“Hear me out: ‘I Write the Sins Not Tragedies,’” Jimin suggested, stabbing at his lo mein with wooden chopsticks.
Taehyung frowned. “Are you trying to tell me something?” he asked, and Jimin laughed around a stream of noodles. Taehyung laid down on the hardwood. “Why is this so hard?”
“Because all good slow songs are sad or have been overused in this context,” Jimin said, then snapped his fingers together. “Oh! I just remembered! The Pisiform! That’s the one I’m missing!”
“The missing hand-bone?” Taehyung asked. Jimin had been studying for his anatomy final earlier, and Jimin had blanked on a couple terms.
“Yes,” Jimin said. “But anyway. Continue. Any more ideas?”
Taehyung groaned and looked up at the ceiling. “Maybe... What about ‘For Once in My Life’?” Taehyung asked. “The Temptations version.”
“I don’t know that one,” Jimin frowned.
“You should listen to it,” Taehyung said, rolling to his side. He slipped a finger into Jimin’s sock. “I think about you whenever I hear it.”
Jimin put down his chopsticks. “Why?” he asked, wary.
“I dunno...” Taehyung, rubbed Jimin’s ankle with his thumb. “Paul Williams’s voice is amazing, you know? But his family always told him he couldn’t sing, and he died an alcoholic not knowing how wonderful I think his voice is, and... And the song is about finally finding the person who will need you and who’ll you’ll need right back. Like the person who makes you feel strong, and who makes your sadness and fear feel less hard, and who makes you feel secure...” Taehyung pressed his lips together. “It makes me think of you.”
“Then that’s the song,” Jimin said.
Taehyung blinked at him. “You haven’t even heard it.”
Jimin lay down on the floor next to Taehyung so he could look at him properly. Their noses were inches apart. “That’s the song,” Jimin repeated. “That’s the song.”
Taehyung looked upset.
“Hey, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I’m just...” Taehyung managed a watery smile. “I’m the luckiest person in the world to be marrying you, Jiminnie.”
“I’m going to kiss you,” Taehyung said.
Jimin flushed. “I don’t know if—“
“Just let me kiss you, Jimin, just once,” Taehyung said, leaning in. His mouth was on Jimin’s before Jimin could say yes or no. He tasted like pepper and oil. His hand was big and strong on Jimin’s hip.
Jimin’s eyes slipped closed just as Taehyung ended the kiss. “Lord knows I need you,” Taehyung whispered, like Jimin wasn’t supposed to hear. He shifted as if to move away, but Jimin caught him before he could.
“Put on that song,” Jimin said. “I want to hear it.”
Taehyung looked startled. “Okay,” he said. His phone synced to the Bluetooth speakers. Strings filled the room, and Jimin found Taehyung’s waist in both of his hands. “D-Did you want to listen?” Taehyung asked.
“No,” Jimin breathed, and crashed their lips together again. Jimin felt Taehyung’s flat nose push into his cheek; he felt his own nose poke at Taehyung. He felt Taehyung’s boxy smile get eaten up by his wide one. He felt Taehyung’s teeth on his lip, and Taehyung’s lip between his own teeth. Jimin felt himself, and he felt Taehyung, and he felt all of Taehyung, spread out beneath him: substantial and vulnerable.
Jimin held Taehyung with shaking hands.
“I,” he felt like he was choking. For once I can say: “This is mine, you can’t take it.” Jimin panted above Taehyung. “Taehyung, I—“
“Just relax,” Taehyung instructed, looping his arms around Jimin’s neck and pulling him closer. Jimin found himself splayed out on top of Taehyung, terrified to go any further, but Taehyung’s hands weren’t searching and his hips weren’t bucking. Jimin let himself be kissed.
Once again, Jimin followed Taehyung’s lead.
Jimin’s graduation party had been loud. There had been more of his mom’s friends than Jimin’s. There had been alcohol, and a mechanical bull, and a bounce house, and a Korean food truck.
Taehyung’s graduation party, however, was a lot smaller. While Jimin had been flushed with tequila at his graduation party, Taehyung was flushed with laughter at his own. His face was lit up in the glow of the bonfire. He had a marshmallow roasting on a stick, and his ankle was brushing up against Jimin’s.
“You did it, kid,” Seokjin said, when he laughter died down. He was holding Namjoon’s hand and smiling at Taehyung, something fond in his eyes. “I’m so proud of you.”
“It’s all coming together,” Namjoon agreed.
“It’s weird,” Yoongi said. “This is going to be our group from now on. Holidays, weddings, funerals... After June 11th, we’ll be family.”
“Not true,” Seokjin argued as Namjoon hummed around a sip of his lemonade. “Namjoon has yet to marry in.”
“Okay, well, I will. One day. Give me a chance,” Namjoon said, his eyebrows pinched together. Jimin didn’t miss Seokjin’s reassuring smile or his thumb rubbing at the back of Namjoon’s hand.
“Seriously,” Yoongi said. “This is it. I always wondered what we’d do for holidays when we all moved away and started our own lives, but it seems like we’re starting our lives together.”
“Yoongi gets weird at night,” Jimin said, and Yoongi threw a marshmallow at him. Taehyung caught it before it hit his face and stuck it on his stick and into the fire.
“I like it,” Taehyung said. “It’s the only time I can talk to him.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Yoongi asked.
Seokjin snorted. “It’s probably a dig at how confrontational you are.”
“In what fucking world—“
“Hey,” Namjoon piped up, interrupting. “The wedding is only two weeks away,” he looked at Taehyung and Jimin. “How are you guys feeling? Are you freaking out? Or is everything wrapping up?”
“I think everything is wrapping up,” Taehyung answered. “I’m just looking forward to the bachelor party. Seokjin won’t give me any hints.”
Jimin patted Taehyung’s back. He knew Taehyung was desperate to know what Seokjin was planning for the bachelor party, but Seokjin wanted to keep it a surprise. Apparently, he was taking Taehyung and his other two groomsmen, Bogum and Minho, for a hot air balloon ride at four in the morning.
They were going to drag Taehyung out of bed by his ankles. Jimin was excited to hear the story from Taehyung when he made it back home.
“What about you, Jimin?” Namjoon asked.
Jimin blinked, surprised to have everyone’s attention. “Am I looking forward to my bachelor party?”
Namjoon frowned. “Sure.”
“I’m excited,” Jimin promised. “Hoseok said he has a wild night planned for us.”
“Woo,” Yoongi said dryly. He didn’t look excited. But he also hadn’t offered to do any of the planning, so he didn’t get to complain.
“But how are you feeling about the wedding day?” Seokjin asked, a little too pointedly, and Jimin looked to Taehyung. Taehyung seemed just as expectant.
“Ah, kind of weird,” Jimin said. “It’s like it’s not really happening.”
“Well, that’s normal,” Taehyung was quick to justify. “That’s fine. Lots of people feel that way before their wedding.”
“Sure,” Seokjin agreed, but he didn’t look convinced. Jimin slunk down in his chair. Two weeks and the wedding would be over. Maybe then, they could finally stop talking about it.
“Oh my god, Jimin are you okay? Are you dying? Are you alive in there?” Hoseok knocked frantically on the bathroom door.
“No,” Jimin cried into the toilet bowl before violently upheaving at least three of the mojitos he had chugged earlier. “Oh my god.”
“Okay, I’m getting Yoongi,” Hoseok promised. Jimin heard his stumbling footsteps on the other side of the door.
Hoseok had done a great job planning the bachelor party. He’d booked rooms in Atlantic City. They’d hit the casino, the pool, the strip club, and Jimin had drank the entire time.
With his wedding two days away, it seemed like an appropriate time to get wasted.
In fact, even when they got back to the hotel, Jimin hadn’t stopped. Jungkook and Yoongi had fallen asleep the second they walked in the door, but Hoseok had stayed up with Jimin.
And now they were both hammered. Jimin wasn’t sure Hoseok even knew what Yoongi looked like anymore, he was so drunk, and Jimin felt like the bathroom tiles were rising and falling like a moon bounce beneath him.
He puked again. Hard.
Tears streamed down his face.
“He’s here. He’s here,” Jimin heard Hoseok shout through the door.
“Jimin?” It was Yoongi. He sounded tired. “Jimin, I’m coming in.” Jimin blinked at the bathroom door as it opened, but the movement made him throw up again. He gagged around a sob, and Yoongi huffed out a breath of air.
“Fuck.” He knelt down next to Jimin. “You okay?”
“No,” Jimin squeaked.
“You’re crying,” Yoongi pointed out.
“I don’t want to get married,” Jimin said out loud. “It’s too crazy, I don’t know why I’m getting married.”
“Everyone feels that way before their wedding, especially after they’ve consumed an entire handle of vodka.”
“No, but I really, really- Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.” Jimin hugged the toilet with arms and legs like it could stop him from swaying. He dry heaved and Yoongi rubbed his back.
Out in the hall, Hoseok sniffled. “Don’t make him do it. He doesn’t want to. Don’t make him do it.”
“Don’t make me do it,” Jimin sobbed as he gagged. “I don’t want to marry Taehyung, it’s not right, I can’t do it, don’t make me.”
Yoongi looked between them. “God, it’s like I go to sleep and everyone goes fucking crazy.” He stood up. “Okay, Jimin, you stay here. I’m putting Hoseok to bed.”
“Don’t make me do it,” Jimin squeaked, his voice way too high pitched, even to his drunken ears.
“No one’s making you do anything,” Yoongi promised. “Just stay here. I’ll be right back.” Jimin watched as Yoongi lead Hoseok away by the shoulders. Tears streamed down Jimin’s cheeks as they disappeared from sight, and he rested his nose and eye on the cool toilet seat.
Jimin woke up on the floor of the bathroom with a pillow stuffed under his head and a blanket over his shoulders. He was missing his shirt and a sock.
He stared at the wall and worked up the energy to stand up.
Jimin shuffled out of the bathroom, his head pounding. In his bedroom, Jungkook was sitting up in bed on his phone. Hoseok was still under the covers, his head buried beneath his pillow. Jungkook’s eyes flickered over to Jimin, and he winced at the sight of him. “Hey. You okay?”
“No,” Jimin answered. He scrubbed at his face. “Fuck. What happened last night?”
“You drank your entire body’s weight worth of alcohol, came back here, threw up, and then broke down crying.”
Jimin pressed at his swollen face. “Sounds about right.”
Jungkook looked at him quizzically. “You said you didn’t want to get married,” he said. “Yoongi was telling me he was worried. You should probably talk to him. Or at least talk to Taehyung.”
“I said that?” Jimin asked.
“Um, yeah,” Jungkook answered, uncomfortable. “A lot of times, apparently.”
“Oh.” Jimin’s stomach churched. He shook off the uneasy feeling as best he could with a hangover threatening to crumple his bones like an empty Coke can. “Well... I mean... I don’t remember, but... I guess I’m a little nervous, but that’s just it. I’m just nervous.”
Jungkook looked concerned. “Hoseok has been telling me you don’t seem super convinced about Taehyung.”
Jimin’s jaw clenched. “Why would he say that?” Jimin asked.
Jungkook wavered. “Well... are you convinced about Taehyung?”
“Of course I am,” Jimin said, offended. “What the fuck, why doesn’t anyone believe me? I wouldn’t have agreed to marry him if I didn’t love him.”
“I just seems like maybe you don’t love him.”
“Of course I love him,” Jimin argued. “You know what, fuck this. I have a headache.” Jimin crammed his feet (one with a sock and one without) into his Timberlands. He opened up the door. Jungkook stood up, as if to follow him.
“Where are you going?”
“Out,” Jimin said. He slammed the door behind him.
The hallway was too bright, and the elevator was brighter. Jimin walked through the lobby and out to the boardwalk. The salty sea air filled his nostrils. Little kids ran past him with sand shovels and pails. Jimin fished his phone out of his pocket and called Taehyung on 8% battery.
“Hello?” Taehyung answered.
“Taehyung,” Jimin said, pinching at the bridge of his nose. “We’re making the right choice getting married, right? It’s not a mistake.”
“I mean...” There was a rustling noise over the line. “I think it’s the right choice.”
“I do, too,” Jimin said, as if convincing himself. He leaned up against the boardwalk railing. He let the tension leave his shoulders. “So... How are you?”
“Good,” Taehyung chirped. “How are you? How was the bachelor party?”
“The answer to both questions is completely fucked up,” Jimin answered, and Taehyung snorted on the other side of the line. Jimin relaxed. “Wanna hear about it?”
On the morning of the wedding, Jimin woke up to a Starbucks coffee thrust in his face instead of a soiled toilet seat.
“Good morning,” Yoongi groused.
Jimin took the cup and sipped it without tasting.
“Oh, Jimin, you look so handsome,” Taehyung’s mother crooned when she saw him his tux. Taehyung’s father smiled at him and gave him a thumbs up.
“Looking very dapper, young man.”
“Just a couple more pictures,” the photographer said, cheery despite the early morning hour. Jimin felt like his heart was beating in his throat.
The morning of his wedding day passed by so quickly, that Jimin didn’t feel like he was living in it until right before it was time to walk down the aisle.
“Okay, places, places,” Namjoon instructed. He had offered to organize the behind the scene aspects of the wedding, given that he couldn’t sit with his boyfriend. (Seokjin was too busy being Taehyung’s best man).
Taehyung bounced on his toes next to him. “This is it! I’m so nervous, are you nervous?”
Jimin blinked at Taehyung.
“What the fuck are we doing?” Jimin blurted out before he could stop himself.
Taehyung frowned. “I’m sorry?”
Jimin looked around. He’d managed to catch the entire bridal party’s attention. Bogum and Minho looked confused. Jimin’s own groomsmen knew him better. He flinched at the knowing look in Hoseok’s eyes. “I- I have to go,” Jimin stammered. He spun on his heel and made a run for it.
“Jimin?” Taehyung called out behind him. “Jimin!”
Jimin dashed through the church, refusing to turn around. He heard Taehyung’s footsteps behind him, and he couldn’t stop. He didn’t want Taehyung to catch him. He didn’t want to see him.
Jimin turned down random hallways until he reached a dead end. He threw open a door, praying for an escape, but instead found himself cornered in a children’s nursery. Taehyung followed him in.
“Jimin, what-“ Jimin turned to face Taehyung, his breath catching in his throat. Taehyung took one look at him and froze. “... Jimin, you...?”
“I’m so sorry,” Jimin said, and Taehyung’s face collapsed. “I’m so sorry, Taehyung, I can’t do it. I can’t do it, this is... this is crazy.”
“What?” Taehyung asked.
“I mean, really, what the fuck, right?” Jimin asked, feeling a little bit like he was going crazy. “We’ve... we’ve never even dated. We’re just getting married. We don’t even hold hands. We can’t, I mean, this is crazy, right?” Jimin asked, desperate for Taehyung to understand. “This is insane.”
“It’s not insane,” Taehyung said. “Not if we love each other.”
“But do we love each other?” Jimin asked. “Or are you just, like, weirdly attached to me? Am I just weirdly attached to you?”
Taehyung looked like Jimin had kicked him in the stomach instead of asked him a question. “No, I-“
“Taehyung, this is fucking nuts, I can’t marry you.”
“But you already said yes,” Taehyung tried.
Jimin felt his breathing start to pick up. He didn’t want to cry; he didn’t want to hurt Taehyung. But he was overwhelmed; he had been for a long time. He couldn’t go through with this. “And now I’m saying no.”
“Jimin, please. Everyone’s waiting, they started playing our music. We’re supposed to walk down the aisle.”
“Okay, well, I’m not fucking going anywhere, and everyone else can suck a dick or...” Jimin’s face screwed up as he thought of his mother in the front row. “Or, I don’t know, deal. It’s not my fault that I don’t want to be here.”
“You said you wanted to do this,” Taehyung reminded him. “You said yes; you helped me pick table clothes and... and hors d’oeuvres. We’ve been talking about this for months, you can’t just suddenly change your mind.”
“Too late,” Jimin said hysterically.
Taehyung’s nose was pink and his eyes were starting to narrow as he held back tears. “Jimin-“
“No,” Jimin cut him off. “No, no, no, no, no. Never. I can’t do it. Ever. No, no, no,” Jimin said through a scratchy throat. His vision blurred.
“But you said yes,” Taehyung said, jaw tight, until a crushing weight collapsed his expression. “But I can’t make you marry me. So we don’t... We don’t have to be together if you don’t want to be. I just-“ Taehyung looked so completely devastated, Jimin felt like it was his own heart cramming itself down his sleeve. Twin tears rolled in a heart shape down Taehyung’s beautiful face. “I just thought the feeling was mutual.”
Jimin pressed his lips into a thin line, feeling tears start to leak down his own cheeks. Guilt swept over him. “I don’t know what to tell you.” He could see the gears turning in Taehyung's head, and he felt like the worst person in the entire world for doing this to him. Taehyung floundered.
“Can you just... Can you just be the one to tell my mom? Because she’s gonna be..., I mean...” Taehyung laughed in spite of himself. “I’ve made such a fucking mess.”
“You didn’t make a mess,” Jimin said weakly.
Taehyung looked at Jimin. His chin was wobbling. There were tearstains on his lapels. “I just love you, Jiminnie. I never wanted to have to miss you.”
Jimin felt emotion surge through his chest. "I'm... I'm so sorry." He took a gasping breath, crying like Taehyung was dying in his arms, like his world was falling apart. “I don’t want to have to miss you either, and I’ve... I’ve ruined things more than you ever could. I’ve been feeling anxious about this for so long, I should have just said something,” he wept.
Taehyung’s eyebrows furrowed together. “You’ve been anxious?”
“I just don’t know how we fit,” Jimin tried to explain. “And it’s hard to think about... about suddenly living together, and sharing a bed every night, and... and I love you, Taehyung, but I don’t think I can have sex with you, like... tonight. We’ve only kissed, like, twice. It’s all just so much to think about.”
“Okay,” Taehyung said. “Well... Well, we don’t have to jump into all that,” Taehyung said slowly, pushing tears out of his eyes with the back of his hands. He grabbed a tissue from the counter and held it out to Jimin. “I don’t really want to jump into all that either. We can just... we can just keep things like they are now. Go slow. I thought we would go slow anyway. I know you don’t like to jump into anything.”
Jimin nodded. He whimpered. “That’s why getting married is so hard.”
“It’s a big decision,” Taehyung agreed. His fingers laced with Jimin’s, and Jimin rubbed at his eyes and nose with his tissue.
“The biggest decision.”
“Yeah,” Taehyung agreed. He was still sniffling and crying. Jimin was too. “But... But that’s why I felt like I could make it with you, you know? Because you always make so much sense, even when I don’t.” Taehyung pressed his lips together. Jimin felt like sobbing all over again just looking at him.
Jimin took a shuddering breath. “I wasn’t being fair earlier,” he admitted. “It’s not that I don’t want to marry you ever. I just... I want to date you first before we, like, live together. I don’t want to be thrust into this. You’ve always been around, but not as my husband, you know?”
“Okay,” Taehyung agreed. “Well... well, could we get married and still have that?” Taehyung asked.
Jimin pushed his hair back off his head. “What?”
“Could... could we just get married and then... and then date? And then live together when you’re ready?” Taehyung winced. “We’ve already done so much out of order, maybe it would be okay to still be a little... a little funky about it.”
Jimin looked at Taehyung. He stared at his red eyes and the slope of his shoulders. He stared at his cute little face and tiny wrists. Jimin stepped forward and held his arms open. “It wouldn’t be funky. Just different. Like us.”
Taehyung rubbed at the back of his neck sheepishly. “We are a little different.”
Jimin pulled him into a hug. Taehyung’s arms wrapped around his shoulders hesitantly. “I guess... I guess if we date after, then we can get married,” Jimin agreed, a huge weight falling off his shoulders. “I’m sorry for getting cold feet. I shouldn’t have freaked out on you like that, especially because... I mean, I do want to spend the rest of my life with you. I do love you, Taehyung.”
“I love you, too,” Taehyung promised. “It’s okay. Wedding stress.”
Jimin laughed, exhausted. “Yeah. Wedding stress.”
Jimin dragged Taehyung back downstairs. They’d splashed their faces with water in one of the little kid bathrooms, but Taehyung still looked like a mess, and Jimin didn’t look much better.
The second Seokjin saw them, he ran up to greet them. “What happened. What’s going on? Are you two okay?” he asked, eying their intertwined hands as he rushed forward.
“We’re okay,” Jimin promised, squeezing Taehyung’s hand. “We’re okay, right?”
“I just want to get married,” Taehyung said. He wrapped up Jimin’s small hand in both of his large ones.
“And I want to get married, too,” Jimin said. He locked eyes with Hoseok across the church’s lobby. “I promise, I really do.”
Something in Jimin’s expression must have been earnest enough because Hoseok’s eyebrows fell back and he clapped his hands together. “Alright, then what are we waiting for? The strings quartet your mom hired has run through their set list four times over waiting for you two to get your act together.”
“Okay, line up everyone,” Namjoon ordered, and Taehyung’s hold on Jimin’s hand tightened. A moment later, the doors opened and Jungkook and Bogum headed out first.
Jimin looked at Taehyung. “Still nervous?” he asked.
Taehyung laughed and ran a shaky hand through his hair. “You have no idea,” he said, and Jimin rubbed his arm caringly. He’d just dropped the biggest bombshell in the world on Taehyung. He could understand why he’d feel shaken.
“It’s going to be okay. It’s happening,” Jimin promised.
Taehyung took a shallow breath of air. “Right. It’s happening.”
Soon enough, it was their town to walk down the aisle. Taehyung swiped at his face uselessly. Jimin tangled up their arms a little further, walking so close to Taehyung, their hips pressed together. Everyone stood up as they walked in the room. The music swelled.
Jimin pinched Taehyung’s butt, and he managed a smile.
They only had the church rented for a few hours, and they were nearing the end of their lease. Their officiant seemed aware of the time restraint because he rushed through the vows.
They exchanged rings. Taehyung squeezed Jimin’s hand, and Jimin squeezed Taehyung’s right back.
The officiant cleared his throat. “Because you two came here today intending to marry, because you joined hands and made solemn vows and exchanged rings to remind you of those vows, and you are now joined as partners in mutual love and respect, according to the powers vested in me and the highest power of the land and the sea; I pronounce that your wedding vows are sealed. You may now kiss your husband.”
Jimin looked at Taehyung anxiously. “Slow,” Taehyung whispered, leaning forward to kiss Jimin’s cheek.
The officiant repeated himself. “You may now kiss your husband.”
“I am,” Taehyung replied, and their audience laughed. Taehyung kissed Jimin’s other cheek, his forehead, his nose, and each eye. As he pulled away, Jimin felt regret swirl in his stomach.
“Just come here,” Jimin demanded, reaching forward and pulling Taehyung into a proper kiss. He cupped Taehyung’s jaw, and Taehyung’s hands moved up to his wrists. Jimin melted into the kiss. He wanted to move slow with Taehyung, but he didn’t want to leave him for a second.
No matter where Taehyung went, Jimin would be sure to follow.