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Answer Me

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“Ah, yes, indeed it's fun times, fun times.” 
SureShot, The Beastie Boys

September 2012

“Who's turn for—?” Seokjin shouts, but before he's finished, Taehyung appears at the sink.

“Dishes,” Taehyung says. “Me.”

Seokjin prods the sizzling chicken with a spatula. “Again?” he asks.

In lieu of an answer, Taehyung says, “We need music.” He pulls his phone from his pocket and queues up a song Seokjin's never heard before, something discordantly American. He proceeds to hop-dance around the kitchen, shouting the few English words he knows into a kitchen spoon.

Seokjin laughs, he can't help but laugh, and Taehyung takes this for encouragement. He arches against Seokjin, pinning him to the counter. Taehyung offers the spoon-mike at the song's refrain, and even though Seokjin doesn't know the words, he yells along, matching Taehyung's volume if not his pitch, which can only be described as shrill.

Hoseok and Namjoon materialize from opposite sides of the dorm, each wearing expressions of equal parts consternation and alarm. Then Hoseok recognizes the song and leaps into the dance while Namjoon observes from a safe distance, muttering occasional warnings when Taehyung and Hoseok come too close to colliding with stuff. But after a few seconds, even he succumbs to the beat, trading his leader's demeanor for a kind of infectious, frenetic flailing.

Seokjin watches the reckless flapping that has overtaken his kitchen. He's torn between observing the spectacle and keeping the chicken from burning. Because the space is too small for them to join in, Jimin and Jungkook hover in the doorway, grinning as Hoseok and Namjoon croon the last notes of the song into Taehyung's spoon.

As the music fades, Jimin skirts Namjoon and tries to take Taehyung's phone from his hand. They begin bickering over what to play next while Hoseok leans over Seokjin's shoulder to peek into the pot of gently boiling water.

“Noodles?” he asks, hopefully.

“Vegetables,” Seokjin says.

“Ugh, again?” Namjoon groans.

Affecting an MC's persona, Seokjin says into his spatula, “Anticipate a delicious, healthy soup. But don't hate the chef, I just work here.”

Hoseok clicks his tongue. “Smells good, anyway.”

Jimin manages to wrangle Taehyung's phone from him, and the three maknaes crowd around it, arguing over song selection.

“Hyung, when will it be ready?” Jungkook asks.

Seokjin fishes a bit of carrot from the boiling water, but before it can properly cool, Taehyung swipes it, popping it immediately into his mouth.

Amidst everyone's protests, Taehyung shouts, “It's hot.”

Pabo,” Namjoon cries. “He just took it out of the water.”

“But is it done?” Jungkook asks.

Taehyung alternately chews and blows to cool his tongue. “It's crunchy,” he says.

“Not done yet.” Seokjin pets Taehyung's shoulder. “Everyone out, now. I need this space to work the magic.”

Namjoon and Hoseok spread their arms to herd the maknaes from the kitchen, and they go somewhat willingly, though Jimin and Jungkook are still glued to the playlist on Taehyung's phone. Taehyung trails after, and Seokjin thinks—maybe hopes—that he looks a little dejected. So Seokjin catches his wrist and tugs him back.

“Not you,” Seokjin says. “You're on dishes, remember?”

The way Taehyung brightens, like he's the first pick for a team in gym when he was resigned to be the last, gives Seokjin's heart a painful squeeze. Taehyung is still in high school, and from what Seokjin has gathered from their conversations, Taehyung protects Jimin. Jimin's the new kid; the one with the awkwardness and the baby fat. Jimin's the one struggling to fit in, but Seokjin wonders if maybe Taehyung is, too.

Taehyung takes up a set of chopsticks and beats a rhythm along the edge of the sink.

He says, “They took our music.” Then he taps the chopsticks across Seokjin's fingers, up his arms, over his shoulders, and along his neck. Seokjin squawks as he tries to fend him off, but there's no escape because the kitchen is so damn small.

“Yah,” Yoongi moans from the doorway. His eyes are so puffy, they're almost fused shut, and his hair is a disheveled fluff upon his head. “Must you be so loud?”

And Taehyung points to no place in particular and goes, “But they—”

And Seokjin says, “But we—”

Yoongi gives them the stare of death. He says, “When will dinner be ready?”

“Soon?” Seokjin says. He looks at Taehyung, who still brandishes his chopsticks.

Taehyung folds his hands around them and bows like some kind of utensil knight. “Soon, hyung,” he agrees.

Yoongi grunts. He squints at them before padding back to their bedroom, trailing a long, withering sigh in his stead.

And behind his back, Seokjin and Taehyung dissolve into laughter.