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lost in the desert (you’re my oasis)

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“Kim Protective Services. Security and satisfaction guaranteed.” Jeongguk rattled off into the phone, leaning back against his creaky desk chair and yawning.

You would think that being the most in-demand bodyguard within the company and even all of Seoul would excuse him from office duty, picking up phone calls and dealing with the most stupid questions. No. Kim Namjoon, his boss and the founder of the company, believed that doing the most benign tasks with patience would “build character.” Fuck that.

He took a deep breath, exasperation coursing through his veins and pulsing in his skull. “No, sir, we do not provide protection for animals, plants, or other animate or inanimate objects. Unless you are a citizen of South Korea, an international political figure, or otherwise stated in our website, we highly suggest for you to search for another organization.” And there went the yelling.

So tempted. He was so tempted to click the phone shut, instead he set the phone aside and plugged in his headphones, firing up Maple Story and getting down to the real business.

Jeongguk thought it was ridiculous. He sometimes wondered why he kept working for Namjoon’s company when he could’ve gone independent, why he kept being a bodyguard in the first place. He had to deal with the shittiest people (in other words, people who just thought they were important figures and, God forbid, tried to boss him around like a trained lapdog) and a team from the company that rotated for shifts and clients, yet somehow managed to be almost always completely useless.

It was as if he was a rookie again, picking up small gigs, lower-profile clients that none of the higher-ups wanted to deal with. He could still hear his seonbaes’ laughs while they chatted over coffee in the downstairs lounge. “You’re still a kid, Guk-ah. Better build up those muscles if you want to do a real man’s job.”

That had pissed the fuck out of him. And Jeongguk was never one to back down from a challenge.

So he shut his mouth, grabbed any client he could get his hands on, and worked his ass off, from guarding awards shows (those were always fun) to being a private bodyguard for rising idols (these were never fun). His popularity ranking skyrocketed with the positive reviews for his strength and dedication to his work. Working his way up the ladder through the ass crack of dawn and the nights when the clouds covered the moon, breaking his bones (literally and metaphorically) for his clients, he finally got to where he stood today.

Not only was he the highest ranked bodyguard in the company, he managed to shut up his seonbaes’ comments.

“Jeon Jeongguk, do I see you slacking off on the job?”

Namjoon’s voice, God knows how, managed to cut through the sound effects in his headphones and he scrambled to take them off and close the browser window, turning to smile at him. “Hey, hyung, what’s up?”

“Jeongguk-ah, I know desk jobs aren’t your thing, but they—”

“Build character,” he sighed. “I know, I know. But I can’t help it when there are only idiots sending in emails and phoning in.”

His boss gave him a look, sharp and criticizing. “If you were in their position, you’d have the same inquiries. Cut them some slack.” Jeongguk slumped in his seat. “Come to my office. I have a new client for you.”

This perked him up as he collected his suit, shrugging it on and feeling the fabric fit snugly around his broad shoulders and muscled arms. “New client? That’s fast. I finished a job just last week. Thought you’d want to put me on phone duty longer.”

“As much as I love to entertain you with customer service tasks, this one is—” He paused, searching for the right word. “A special case.”

“That’s what you say for all the clients,” Jeongguk laughed, following after Namjoon down the hallway as he walked past the cubicles and down to his office at the very end.

Most people thought that, if they ever pit Jeongguk against Namjoon, Jeongguk would surely win due to his bigger build in comparison to Namjoon’s lanky one. But he had learned the hard way that there was a reason why Namjoon still stood at the top of the company hierarchy instead of any of his rising staff.

Kim Namjoon was charming and strong. He might not seem as bulky as the rest of them, but never judge a book by its cover. He had mastered nearly all the martial arts during his years abroad, studying philosophy and training his body and mind, or so he said. Taekwondo, Aikido, judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu. You name it. Beyond that, he was also highly intelligent and calculating. He wasn’t known as the king of strategy in the field for nothing.

Jeongguk cleared his throat, “So why me specifically? If this client really is important, you’d be hurrying to get my ass back on the field. But you’re relaxed about this.”

He turned to the younger, lips tight. “I wouldn’t call it a priority case, but it is highly important.”

Jeongguk wasn’t sure what he meant but slipped into the office anyway, seating himself across from Namjoon.

His boss believed in transparency. Literally. That was why the doors and walls of his office that faced his employees were made with glass. He would never want the people working under him to think awfully of him or assume things behind closed doors. However, whenever he needed a little privacy for higher profile clients, he’d activate the blinds that blocked him from the rest of the floor.

Which was exactly what he did then.

It was confusing. Jeongguk pondered who the hell it could be. Not priority, but important. Important enough that Namjoon would close his office to the rest of the world. “So, uh, what’s up with this person again?”

“Not a big case, but the pay’s really good.”

Jeongguk scowled, taking complete offense in the sentiment. “Give it to a rookie then. Heard Hoseok was looking for something high-paying, said something about taking his boyfriend to elope in Europe or something.”

Namjoon rolled his eyes, flipping open the folder and adjusting his glasses. “Like I would ever supply his unhealthy habits of rotating through boyfriends and making reckless decisions. He does enough impulsive stupidity on the field already.”

“Heard this one was the one,” Jeongguk grinned, voice laced with mirth.

“That’s what he said for the last three,” Namjoon sighed. “I’ll speak to him later to hopefully get him to come to his senses. However, back to the case. This is one I’d personally like for you to take on. 

He raised an eyebrow, “Thought we didn’t do personal favors.”

The elder’s lips twitched. There was something in his eyes that Jeongguk couldn’t quite name. Irritation? Worry? He had never been good at labeling emotions. “I’m making an exception. You’re starting today and you’ll be meeting with the client’s parents at one today. Do not be late, these people are very busy. 

Fuck. Jeongguk could already tell that this was another spoiled brat case. There were always parents with important positions—lawyers, government officers, doctors—that believed the whole world was out to get them and their kid. Forty percent of them were usually right, the other sixty just thought too highly of themselves.

“Hyung, come on. You can’t seriously be giving me a job to protect a kid, are you?”

“Jeongguk,” Namjoon’s voice was stern, making Jeongguk scowl like a petulant child. “I’m giving you a task that I believe would be suitable for you. Don’t underestimate it and don’t disappoint me. 

He sighed, picking up the folder and flipping through it. Vague. Extremely vague. There was only the name of the client. Kim Taehyung. The name sounded familiar but, with no picture, he couldn’t attach it to a face. God, this was going to be the worst. He couldn’t even recognize the brat’s name, how was he supposed to think anything of this client. 

“You’re reporting to this address. Tell the front desk that you’re Jeon Jeongguk with an appointment under Kim Protective Services.”

“Got it,” Jeongguk nodded. “Anything else I should particularly take note of?"

Namjoon was silent for a moment before his gaze flicked up to meet Jeongguk’s. “Remember our motto. Security and satisfaction guaranteed.”

Jeongguk snorted, giving a small salute. “Never understood why you needed the two, but alright. I’ll see you later, hyung.”

“Call me after you meet them and let me know how it goes.”

 

♦︎ ♦︎ ♦︎

 

It probably was a safety hazard but Jeongguk read over the files as he kept one hand on the steering wheel and the other stuffing his mouth with sandwiches.

Kim Taehyung

Birthday: 30 December 1995

Blood Type: AB

Height: 179 cm

Weight: 62 kg

Family: Kim Jeonggwon (Father) and Lee Hyeseon (Mother) - m. 1993; single child

Known Associates: None

Education:

– Daewon Foreign Language High School (2010)

– Harvard University (2013) ; Finance and Accounting

– Massachusetts Institute of Technology (unfinished) ; Mathematics

Weird. This kid was fucking weird. That was what Jeongguk concluded at least. Kim Taehyung was a fully grown man, two years Jeongguk’s senior. He was a single child and highly intelligent, but he had no known associates? No known friends whatsoever.

His education was incredible too. Daewon prep has always been one of the highest ranking high schools in Seoul, Jeongguk figured he would be entered into such a prestigious program. But Harvard and MIT? That blew his goddamn mind. 

The GPS signaled his approaching the location. His glance darted over to the dashboard. 12:43 PM. He was early. Good. Stepping out of the car, he adjusted his tie and was greeted by a man. “May I take your car, sir?”

“Is there a parking area?”

“Kim Electronics takes care of all the vehicles that enter the premises. We can assure you that we will be bringing your vehicle back unharmed.” He explained as if he had memorized the script for the billions of idiots that came in asking the same question. “Security reasons require us to take your vehicle until you are ready to leave.”

Jeongguk handed over his keys, “Alright, thank you.”

Kim Electronics. The massive 50-story building was located in the center of Yeongdeungpo District, rising above the surrounding structures with architectural glass that reflected the sun when it rose in the east. The organization was the most successful electronics company in South Korea, monopolizing the market for all household and professional goods and devices. They’re acknowledged globally for their innovative technology and their incredible advancement in the industry. 

“You’ll be meeting with President Kim and his wife. Be on your best behavior.” Namjoon had warned him.

As he entered the building, he had to go through security check (thank fuck he hadn’t brought his gun with him today). Then he moved to the main lobby’s front desk to obtain a visitor pass and was escorted up to the top floor where he would wait for President Kim. In the top floor, he had to again present his name and leave his ID card at the front desk. Jesus, this was on another level of paranoid.

“President Kim will see you now.” The secretary led him down a long hallway before knocking on the door. “Sir, Jeon Jeongguk from Kim Protective Services is here to see you.”

“Thank you, Jieun, you may leave.” She bowed before closing the door behind her.

Jeongguk bowed before approaching the man’s table, shaking his hand when offered and sitting down when told to do so. He felt a little tense being here, under the scrutinizing eyes of President Kim and the even curiouser eyes of his wife. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir.”

“The same to you,” he nodded. “And I believe you’ve been briefed on the situation and the client.”

“Yes, sir.” He nodded.

As expected, President Kim was a little on the stiffer side, all cold facts and hard truths. He gave a short rundown of Taehyung and his daily routine, with tightened lips, Jeongguk noted. Seemed like there was a little bad blood between them. In turn, his wife was much more amicable, regarding Jeongguk with a little too much excitement. She walked around the desk and shook Jeongguk’s hand with a twinkle in her eye. “My, Namjoon didn’t mention that he’d send such a handsome young man. How old are you, boy?”

Jeongguk held back his choke and cleared his throat. “25, ma’am.”

“Oh! My son is 27, how perfect is that?” She grinned.

President Kim called her to his side, voice sterner than before. She didn’t seem to mind his tone but did as was told, still smiling at Jeongguk as she stood by her husband’s side. “Excuse my wife and her tendency to match everyone to our son. I just wanted to highlight the importance of Taehyung’s safety and security. His life is critical for the legacy of Kim Electronics to continue and I expect the highest quality of service. If you ever need an extra hand, my security team is at your disposal and so is your company’s. Money is no object.”

 “If I may, sir,” Jeongguk started, President Kim raised an eyebrow. “If you do have a security team, why would you need Taehyung-ssi to have a bodyguard?”

The older man’s gaze flew up to meet his wife’s face. She smiled, “I thought it would be more appropriate. Taehyung is still young, I’d rather not expose him to a Big Brother type of environment. Rather, think of your position as a friend. A very protective friend, but a friend nonetheless.”

Jeongguk stiffened. The idea of it made him a little uncomfortable. He always distinguished between work and pleasure. Whenever he was with his friends, work stayed out of it, mainly due to the confidential nature of his job. Being a friend and a bodyguard seemed a little strange. “I see.”

President Kim waved her off, turning his focus back onto Jeongguk. “Taehyung doesn’t come to the office everyday, only when he is summoned for special purposes. You’ll be meeting him at his apartment. Here is the address and access codes, Taehyung’s apartment phone number is listed as well as his personal cell phone. I’ll expect you to remember them and shred them afterwards." 

“Certainly,” he nodded. “Should I let him know that I’ll be arriving?”

“He already knows.”

Taehyung’s place was unsurprisingly located in Gangnam. The building itself seemed like any high-end apartment that Jeongguk’s been to, though he did notice that the security system was tighter (albeit still had plenty of loopholes that he mentally noted to fix). He took the elevator up all the way to the penthouse (of course). He moved with ease out of the hallway only to be stopped by two security guards.  

“Identification.”

“Jeon Jeongguk with Kim Protective Services.” He stated calmly as they began searching him.  

“Please take the stairs up to the second floor,” they nodded and let him pass. 

Not bad. He did as he was told and observed the surroundings as he climbed up the last step, only to have his movements halted by the sight before him. Two guys were making out right in front of him. One was frantic, his hands roaming all over the other man’s body, sinking into the man’s hair as he moaned into the kiss. He opened his eyes and found Jeongguk staring right at him, seemingly unfazed.

( Jeongguk would be lying if he hadn’t been turned on at the sight ) 

The boy’s eyes were wild, brown, piercing eyes staring straight into him, even with another man in his arms. Soon enough they parted, gasping breathlessly. The boy gave one last smile before the other guy turned around, walking in a daze towards Jeongguk, a satisfied smirk plastered on his face. As he walked past Jeongguk, he gave him a pat on the back. “Kid is crazy in bed, but he’s fucking amazing. Have fun.”

Jeongguk blanched a little, frowning and instead turned his attention to the boy who was already moving back down the hallway and into his apartment.

“Are you just going to stand there and look pretty?” The boy turned around, grinning mischievously at Jeongguk. “Or are you going to be protecting me?”

He knew then that he was absolutely and utterly fucked.

 

♦︎ ♦︎ ♦︎

 

Taehyung seemed to be entirely in his element, drifting to the rhythm of the jazz tune crooning from the speakers around the kitchen. He looked as if he was preparing a five star meal when he was in fact pouring milk into his cereal bowl. Jeongguk could only stare by the doorway.

“There’s a thing called a chair that you’re free to use,” Taehyung deadpanned, gesturing to the six chairs that Jeongguk could’ve easily taken, 

“It’s quite alright, sir." 

He laughed, bubbly and mocking. Jeongguk felt irritation prick his skin. “Sir is my father. You can call me Tae. Though, you can call me sir in bed." He paused. "Please, take a seat, I want to talk to you a little before, you know, you start protecting my body and all.”

Jeongguk made his way to the kitchen island, seating himself down on a bar stool. The marble was smooth and glossy. Somehow, he doubted that Taehyung polished it himself." 

Taehyung eyed him carefully, running his gaze down Jeongguk’s chiseled jawline, the adorable downturn of his lips, to his particularly attractive collarbones, and not to mention those broad shoulders that filled out his suit just right. He licked his lips. “So, Guk-ah, tell me a little about yourself." 

This question was not uncommon for his clients, who were curious about both his history and personal life (some more so than others). “Jeon Jeongguk, 25, born and raised in Busan before I moved here for college and work. I’ve been with Kim Protective Services for over three years now.” He finished promptly.

Taehyung raised an eyebrow, waiting for him to add on, but was more than a little disappointed when that was the extent of his entire autobiography. Another work machine. He sighed, slumping back against his seat and tapped his finger on the table thoughtfully. Jeongguk narrowed his eyes at the younger boy. He felt a little offended by his goddamn sigh.

“Nothing you do for fun?” Taehyung inquired further.

“I work out,” he shrugged.

He blinked, curious brown eyes peering into him. “That’s… fun?”

Jeongguk sighed, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. “For some of us, yes.”

Taehyung’s lips twitched into a smirk, “Well, I have a work out that’s much more fun than going to the gym anyway.”

As if instinctively, Jeongguk’s gaze fell to the spattering of blues and purples on Taehyung’s creamy, golden skin. His silk pajamas had been buttoned up all wrong, the collar hanging haphazardly for dear life off his skinny shoulder, exposing more than enough for Jeongguk to understand just what Taehyung considered fun exercise. When he looked up, he found the elder staring right back at him, devious grin dancing on his lips. Jeongguk stiffened.

Stay professional, Jeon Jeongguk. You know better than this.

“Come on,” Taehyung was standing by the door, one hand tucked into the pocket of his silk pajamas (hanging low on his hipbones too, fuck) and the other with a curled finger to gesture Jeongguk closer. “I’ll take you to your room. 

Namjoon had mentioned that it would be a stay-in job, meaning he would be out of his own apartment for quite some time. Taehyung needed a twenty-four-seven surveillance and apparently he had been gracious enough to provide Jeongguk accommodation in his humble abode. 

Jeongguk just prayed that Taehyung never fucked in that room. 

He led him down a hallway, pointing to one of the many doors. “This is your room,” then motioned to the room at the end of the hallway. “And that’s mine, so we’ll be close in case you need anything.” Opening the door, Taehyung ushered the younger in.

Jeongguk should’ve known that the opulent had different standards for guest rooms than he did. While he offered his friends his couch, Taehyung had given him a place that was probably bigger than his own flat downtown.

“This is your place. Feel free to decorate it as you wish since you’ll be here for a while. Make it your home. I’m assuming you’ve brought your things with you so I’ll give you some time to settle in while I take all the time in the world to get ready.” Taehyung smiled, a little too sweet, a little too devious. “Don’t miss me too much.” He gave a small wave before disappearing down the hallway again. 

Jesus Christ. He would throttle Namjoon for giving him yet another brat, but Namjoon would probably beat his ass to it. After collecting his two duffle bags from the car (he packed light), he returned to the room, dropped everything and went to explore the flat. He needed a briefing with Taehyung’s security team on what surveillance and safety precautions they’ve taken so far, and hopefully will cut down on quantity and improve quality instead. But he supposed that could wait a little longer, so once he’s seen all the cameras planted on nearly every corner of the rooms, he went back to his own to find Taehyung staring quizzically at his bags.

“A problem, sir?”

Taehyung whirled around, glaring at him. “Sir is my father. Stop calling me that.” Jeongguk felt the need to take a step back, surprised by how venomous his voice sounded so he just nodded. “Is this all you brought?”

“Yes,” he cleared his throat. A ‘sir’ was on the tip of his tongue, which was basic protocol on how to speak to his clients, but he held himself back. 

“I hope you know how to dress well, I don’t want you sticking out like a sore thumb when I go to nicer places.”

Jeongguk suppressed his eye roll and irritation. “Of course.”

“Good.” Taehyung said. “You may proceed.”

He inwardly sighed and moved to his own bags to start unpacking.

Sometimes, Jeongguk really hated how observant he was. While the nature of his sharpness to detail came in handy when he needed to be vigilant, he was hyperaware of Taehyung’s presence and temperature standing behind him. He, of course, already noted that Taehyung had shown up to his room in nothing but a bathrobe, skin still steaming with heat and his hair wet with droplets that rolled down his chest and disappeared into the v where the robe met. He did his best not to stare.

While Jeongguk has had his share of attractive and beautiful people to work with and, well, fuck, Taehyung was on another level altogether.

Call him sentimental but he always carried around a picture of his family for good luck. He placed it atop his bedside table. As he moved to take out his clothes, Taehyung had shifted towards it, picking up the photo frame, his eyes scanning each individual in the photograph. “Family?”

It had been a picture from their last trip to Japan, which had been an anniversary gift for his parents. Though, Jeongguk and his brother ended up third-wheeling after all. Jeongguk recounted all this to him.

“Must be nice,” Taehyung murmured, a twinge of something in his voice that Jeongguk couldn’t quite name but chose to ignore. Clients were clients. He didn’t intrude when he didn’t have to.

Jeongguk raised an eyebrow, “Do you go on family vacations?”

“Business trips mainly, last one was to Europe. Spain was nice, warm weather, good food.”

He once again stopped himself from scoffing. He would never understand the rich.

 

♦︎ ♦︎ ♦︎

 

Taehyung’s pleasantries and kindness were short-lived. Jeongguk had thought that Taehyung (hopefully) wouldn’t be that bad of a client, but he was just as bratty as the other snobs he’s had to deal with in the past. Having lived independently for years, Jeongguk knew the basics of laundry and house cleaning. While he couldn’t cook up a restaurant-worthy meal, he got by off internet recipes and ramyeon.

All of this seemed to utterly fascinate Taehyung.

He’d listen, starry eyed, body leaning in too close for comfort (Jeongguk could smell the earthy aftershave he used) whenever Jeongguk talked about his life at his place (under his insistence). “So you can cook and clean?” Jeongguk shrugged. “Oh, this is perfect! Now I don’t have to find a replacement maid. You can do it for me!"

What the actual fuck.

“What?” He snapped. “You want me to be your maid?”

“The last one was fired, my father thought she knew too much and was getting a little too attached to me.” Taehyung shrugged.

“Taehyung-ssi, I was hired to be your personal bodyguard, not your servant.”

“Of course, of course!” He nodded, waving it off. “Is it a matter of money? I’m sure my father wouldn’t mind increasing your—”

Jeongguk gritted his teeth, willing his patience to persevere through Taehyung’s oblivion. “It’s not the money. I have a role to play here and a maid isn’t one of them.” The elder pouted, slumping in his seat before dropping his forehead to the counter with a whine. Jeongguk would feel bad for him if it weren’t for the bottled up exasperation inside of him. “I can, however, help you learn.”

Taehyung perked up, his chocolate eyes practically sparkling as he bounced on his seat. “You will?”

“Yeah, we can start with grocery shopping considering how empty your fridge is. I’ll teach you how to cook a little afterwards before I talk your security team.”

He practically launched himself across the counter towards Jeongguk, grabbing his face in his hands and squishing it. “I’m so happy I could kiss you.”

Jeongguk scowled, prying the boy’s surprisingly large hands off his face, allowing the air to cool his skin where Taehyung had touched. “Please don’t.” 

The ride there had been pleasant to say the least. Jeongguk never liked anyone messing with his radio, especially not when BIGBANG was coming on, and he was more than pleased to find that Taehyung could spit out all the lyrics down to a T. Though, he’d never admit it aloud that he found his client a teensy bit cute at that moment.

When Jeongguk dressed down in his sweatpants and hoodies, he seemed to always lure in attention. The fact that he was attractive didn’t go past him. But him in a suit, doing something so utterly domestic, was more than enough to have people blatantly staring at him. Usually, he would let himself offer a flirty smile or two, but at that moment, he was too busy keeping his eyes trained on the giant baby that was ogling everything on the shelves.

Taehyung looked like a kid let loose in a candy store, grabbing boxes here and there and tossing them into the cart only for Jeongguk to shove them back onto the shelves, deeming them completely unnecessary. He also found out that the elder was a sweet tooth when he gathered boxes of ridiculously unhealthy sweets into his hands and put his foot down when Jeongguk tried to take them away.

“I never knew there were so many frozen goods. Where have they been all my life?” He sang out, oblivious to the curious stares he was receiving from the rest of the patrons. Instead of curious towards his strange behavior, they seemed more interested in the fact that Taehyung was incredibly good-looking with eyeliner smudged around his eyes, giving him a sexy touch.

“You’ve never been grocery shopping?”

He pursed his lips, tilting his head from side to side in thought. “I have, but not in a while. I’m usually not allowed to wander around without a guardian or a friend and, really, who would be willing to accompany someone go grocery shopping?” He gave him a look. “So, I usually leave the fridge stock-up to my housekeeper.”

Figures. Jeongguk wondered how Taehyung had survived all this time being so secluded from the rest of the world considering how much of a genius he was. He’s heard plenty about children who had been locked away all their lives, in probably much worse conditions than Taehyung, and couldn’t help but pity him a little in spite of his fortune.

“Not that my father doesn’t already keep a GPS tracker on me,” Taehyung muttered bitterly, shuffling his feet a little. 

Jeongguk found Taehyung’s expression to be one of discomfort as he began to be more aware of his surroundings, the stares a little too unnerving. He took Taehyung’s elbow, his touch warm, “Well, you’ve got me now and I’ll have your back, alright? I’m working for you and not your father so, if you ever need me to keep anything on the down low, let me know.”

Taehyung perked up at that, his eyes brightening a little, which had Jeongguk’s heart skipping. A smile twitched on his lips as he needed eagerly, the corners of his eyes crinkling. “Thanks, Gukkie. Now, let’s finish shopping so you can make me dinner.”

We’re making dinner. I’m not your maid.”

“Right.” He beamed, unapologetic.

As the two finally returned to the building, Taehyung was quick to prance to the kitchen, pulling out a frilly pink apron (Jeongguk realized that he should stop questioning things like these) and slipping it over his head. “Alright, let’s do this.”

Cooking with Taehyung was as frustrating as he expected it to be. He was inhumanly slow in chopping vegetables, overly careful when he kept track of the exact three minutes that he had to  cook the pasta sauce ( “it’s exactly three minutes… three minutes one second…”have you been counting in your head” “I can count perfectly ).

Jeongguk felt a little odd sitting across from Taehyung and actually eating dinner with him. He had never been particularly close with his clients and Taehyung seemed more intent on breaking his resolve than ever.

So do you have a girlfriend? Boyfriend?

How many people have you fucked? Or do you get fucked? I can do either.

How big is your dick?

If he could get through anymore of his questions without strangling him, Jeongguk would declare himself a saint.

Instead, he turned the inquisition towards him. He had to understand his clients after all, what they wanted and their habits if he were expected to protect them. “Have you always lived with a security team?”

Taehyung shrugged, slurping up his noodles and licking his lips. “Not until a year ago. Shit happens. I hate it, my father doesn’t care. So I do the next best thing.” Jeongguk didn’t even have to ask when a sly smirk curled on his lips. “I screw them over. In both sense of the phrase.” 

Jeongguk grimaced at the thought, speechless.

“And you know what, Jeon Jeongguk,” he whispered, voice dark and husky, eyes swirling with the kind of determination that Jeongguk has seen in his own. “I’m going to ruin you.”

Over his dead body.

 

♦︎ ♦︎ ♦︎

 

It had been then Jeongguk learned that Taehyung was a man of his word. As much as Jeongguk tried to maintain his indifference towards Taehyung’s advances, he was only human. It certainly didn’t help that the taller boy kept brushing up against him, crotch pressed up against Jeongguk’s ass whenever he asked Jeongguk for help with cooking.

Jeongguk would have his hand on the handle and his mind running haywire as he attempted to get his boner in check.

Of course, Taehyung refused to stop there, refused to give up when he hasn’t broken through Jeongguk’s walls, which were surprisingly strong enough to hold a resolve against Taehyung. Even if that meant that he’s had to jack off in the shower more often than not and find himself a good fuck whenever he had time off, which wasn’t often, unfortunately enough.

Whenever he had his biweekly briefings with the security team, Taehyung would pop in every so often to drape an arm around Jeongguk’s shoulders, “Treat him well, boys. I need him in one piece.”

Fuck. It was bad enough that he could humiliate Jeongguk’s conscience, he had to also go ahead and cause his fucking team to hide their smiles and discomfort towards their boss’ relationship with his boss. He’s had to clear his throat more than once and even offer a threatening glare to get the team in check.

His fuck buddies or whatever the fuck Taehyung called him would also turn up once in a while (heaven forbid, one of them had come dressed in fishnet stockings and a leather bustier). Jeongguk had to hide his annoyance as he pat them down for potentially threatening belongings.

Then Taehyung gave them a personal pat down. All the while staring at Jeongguk and Jeongguk was forced to watch as Taehyung looked at him dead in the eyes over the guy’s shoulder, mouthing, “pervert” as if Jeongguk had a choice in the first place.

While most faces blurred together over the next couple of weeks, there was one that he could distinguish between the others because he frequented much more often.

Park Jimin. 

Jeongguk wondered why he wasn’t listed as one of Kim Taehyung’s known associates, but he supposed a fuck buddy wouldn’t necessarily be considered a significant enough associate. Taehyung called him a friend, a close one. Jeongguk doubted that. But Jimin would pop by every now and then, asking Taehyung for advice on business matters. Park Jimin was much shorter than the two of them, yet his presence was enough to have the security team straightening and greeting him with the sort of regard they would offer their own higher ups.

Considering how reckless Taehyung was, Jeongguk was highly concerned that Jimin was even taking into account Taehyung’s suggestions. He didn’t ask questions though, he shouldn’t and he never did.

Jimin smiled over the cup of coffee, his gaze flicking over to Jeongguk. “He’s a cute one, a new bodyguard?”

“Yep,” Taehyung nodded, barely fucking dressed in his robe that fell open down the middle, dangerously close to exposing the length between his legs. “He’s my favorite so far. Unbreakable as far as I know.”

The boy (older than Taehyung, Jeongguk learned after doing a thorough background check as he did with all of Taehyung’s friends) hummed, pleased. His eyes twinkled mischievously when he returned his focus to Taehyung. “Play nice, Tae. You know you don’t want more trouble than you’ve already caused.”

Taehyung laughed, “Jiminnie, you know I like trouble.”

“Unfortunately,” he rolled his eyes, but the fondness was evident in the softness of his voice. “I should get going, they’re expecting me at the office. Give me a call sometime and we can arrange for tea.”

“In two months? I’m sure your secretary would be pleased to find that she can finally slip me in for a date with you when you’re free, you busy, busy man.”

Jimin shrugged, “You know I’ll always have time for you, Tae. I’ll see you soon.”

The taller of the two nodded, seeming a little disappointed, yet he just flashed a smile at Jeongguk. “Jeonggukie,” he sang. “Escort Jiminnie out will you?”

As Jeongguk walked Jimin to the door, quiet as he followed after the man’s footsteps, Jimin turned around, eyes all too observant as he scanned Jeongguk up and down. Whatever he saw, he seemed to approve as he smiled gently at him, “Take care of him, yeah? He might be a handful, but he’s a good kid.”

He said nothing to this.

Jimin pressed his lips together before continuing, “That’s all he is. A kid. Let him be one, he never got the chance to after all.”

The pressing need to further question was there but Jeongguk ignored it for the sake of work ethics. So he only gave him a nod of affirmation as Jimin gave him a pat on the back and walked into the elevator.

Aside from keeping Taehyung out of the dangerous hands of his “friends,” Jeongguk also had to make sure that he stayed sober whenever his father called him in for a board meeting. Those meetings, Jeongguk would have to stand outside while they discussed official matters behind soundproof walls. Taehyung was usually quieter, sulkier, whenever he was called in for these meetings. Jeongguk figured it was because the boy was given responsibilities and everyone seemed to be aware of how much Taehyung just loved responsibilities.

While he couldn’t snap to Taehyung’s face for his bratty and all too inappropriate antics, it didn’t mean that he couldn’t bitch about it to Namjoon as he did about most of his clients.

He had called Namjoon a week ago, whining like the twenty five year-old that he was. “Hyung, please, out of everyone, everyone, I’ve worked with, this kid is something else.”

A sigh from the other line.

“You could’ve given Hoseok this, he would’ve liked the money and probably would’ve gotten along well with the kid too. Jesus.” He paced outside the door, knowing that Taehyung was in the shower when he heard the water run and Taehyung’s rendition of an EXO song.

“Jeongguk-ah, you know I trust you the most. You’re my best man with a lot of experience in your hands. Plus, you’re absolutely stubborn so I know you wouldn’t be swayed.”

“All of your bodyguards are stubborn as fuck.”

“I just thought it’d give you a little more insight to the job than what you’ve known so far. Being a bodyguard isn’t just protection, Jeongguk-ah. Remember our motto?”

“Security and satisfaction guaranteed,” Jeongguk muttered.

“Exactly. If a client is safe, but not satisfied, have we really done our job? Would we really be the highest ranked security company in South Korea?”

Jeongguk still didn’t understand Namjoon and his strange ideologies. If a client was safe, why wouldn’t they be satisfied? Jeongguk’s stuck to this perspective for as long as he could remember and he’s never had anyone supposedly dissatisfied with his services. 

He broke out of his thoughts when his phone rang, finding Park Jimin’s name printed across the screen. Irritation flooded his veins. Yes, he had given his number in case Jimin ever needed it, but the man had been incessantly calling him, asking to talk to Taehyung despite specific orders from President Kim to leave the meeting uninterrupted. 

“Jeongguk, get me Taehyung.”

“Sir, I am employed to Taehyung and President Kim, he specifically asked me not to—”

“Jeongguk, get me Taehyung.

“Look—”

“I’m not going to ask again. President Kim would forgive Taehyung easily if it were you calling him instead of my calling into the office. Would you really want your client to get into trouble?”  

Jesus H. Christ. He should get a bonus for babysitting two brats. Breathing in, he knocked on the door and waited for a voice to call him in. “My apologies for the interruption, President Kim. May I speak to Taehyung for a moment?”

President Kim looked far from amused, his lips set in a thin line. “I suppose a break may do us some good. Go ahead, Taehyung. 

Taehyung, looking as grim as ever, stepped out and raised his gaze to meet Jeongguk’s. There was always a certain aura to Taehyung whenever he went to the meetings. He could feel the distance the elder put on him, the air of wealth more prominent during these times. He handed his phone to Taehyung, “Jimin has been calling you.”

His eyes flashed briefly and he smiled weakly at the younger, murmuring, “Thank you.” He didn’t know what for. Then he took the phone and stepped away.

That night, Taehyung insisted that they go out, demanding that he let himself have a little free time considering the exhaustion he had experienced from the meeting. While Jeongguk himself could enjoy the nightclub atmosphere, his task that night was to keep Taehyung in line and that meant staying sober, much to his suffering.

He had followed him around for the first half an hour before Taehyung whirled around to snap at him, “Stop following me around, Jesus Christ. I’ll find you later.”

With gritted teeth, he had stuck by the bar, his gaze never once leaving Taehyung as he sipped on his soda (the bartender had looked at him funny). Music throbbed through the speakers, filling the crowd with the kind of energy that left them high above the clouds. Taehyung had fallen into the same excitement, sliding into the dance floor, lithe body moving to the beat as more and more people came up to him, dancing and grinding up on him.

Before jumping to the center of the mess, Taehyung had tipped back one too many shots. He was swaying on his feet, body leaning back against whatever guy he was dancing with, his head tipped back onto the man’s shoulder as the man ran his hands all over Taehyung. 

Jesus, fuck.

If there was anything Jeongguk hated more than bratty clients, it would be drunk clients. They had bodyguards for a reason and yet they still allowed themselves into the front lines, putting their lives in danger when they were at their most vulnerable. Jeongguk broke out of his thoughts when he realized that Taehyung had started making out with the guy, lips sloppily slotted over each other, his thin arms dangling loosely around the guy’s neck.

Professional. Be professional.

Although all his instincts and common sense screamed at him to turn away from the intimate moment, Taehyung was his client first and foremost so he kept his eyes trained on him. They started pressing up against each other again. He could see the silhouettes of their bodies moving against each other, Taehyung’s front rubbing up against the man’s.

It wasn’t until the man started fully groping Taehyung, hands sliding all over his thin frame, and into his pockets that Jeongguk pushed himself off the counter and onto the dance floor. “Alright, that’s enough.” He glared at the guy who had been caught red-handed. Fucking pickpockets. Who the fuck did that in clubs? “Back the fuck off."

“Fuck, what the hell is your problem, man?” The guy only spat out but retreated. As if he’d pick a fight with a guy twice his size.

“Gukkie,” Taehyung slithered up to him, hands sliding around his torso and all over his chest. “Fuck, you look so hot tonight.”

 Jeongguk bit his tongue, turning around to glare at Taehyung. “I think that’s enough for tonight, Taehyung. You’re drunk.”

“Drunk and horny,” he sang out, giggling. “And your chest, wow.” His hands roamed Jeongguk’s front again, warmth pressing up against the dips and hardness of his abs. “You’re so hot, goddamn. Why won’t you fuck me already?” He slung his arms around Jeongguk’s neck, tugging him towards his body, his front pressed flush up against Jeongguk’s. Maybe it was the alcohol, but Taehyung’s voice dropped a pitch, his voice raspy as he whispered, “Dance with me.”

“Tae,” Jeongguk sighed, attempting to pry his hands off.

“One song, just one.” Taehyung grinned, a devilish twinkle in his eye as if he knew that he already had Jeongguk wrapped around his finger.

“One song,” he caved. This would be faster than arguing with Taehyung who would most likely throw a tantrum.

Taehyung’s hands slid down the younger’s form, all hard planes and smooth skin, taking Jeongguk’s hands and placing them on his hips. Then Taehyung moved his arms back around the other’s neck, pulling him closer. He threw his head back, letting the pulsing beat move his body, swaying from side to side as he pushed up even more into Jeongguk. “Don’t be so stiff, this is why you should’ve gotten drunk.”

Jeongguk gave him a look.

He only smiled in return, teeth showing, as he licked his lips and buried his face in Jeongguk’s neck. Despite his efforts to distance himself physically from Taehyung, the elder had his mind set and that meant that he wasn’t letting go anytime soon. Literally. “Fuck,” he muttered, breath hot against the sheen layer of cool sweat on Jeongguk’s skin. “You’re so hot, shit. Bet your cock’s just as big as you, bet you can fuck me real good, can’t you, Jeonggukie?”

The filthy words Taehyung was spewing out did a number on Jeongguk, though he’d never admit that. Instead, he listened closely to the music to distract himself of the fact that Taehyung’s crotch was rubbing up against his own, his hands raking down Jeongguk’s back, gasps leaving his pink lips. Fuck. 

“Okay, song’s changed. We’re leaving.” Without waiting for a response, Jeongguk took Taehyung’s hand and pulled him out into the parking lot. The chilly air was sobering, Jeongguk’s thoughts cleared as he draped Taehyung’s arm over his shoulders. His watchful eyes kept track of his surroundings as he took Taehyung to the car.

“Nooo,” he moaned childishly, shaking his arms in an immature act of defiance. “I want to sit up front with you. What if I roll over and die in the back? You wouldn’t know!”

“Tae, you’re not going to—"

Stumbling over to the passenger seat, Taehyung slipped himself in and locked the door, crossing his arm over his chest. Jeongguk counted to ten and prayed to whoever was up there to give him strength and patience for as long as Taehyung was his client. Or for as long as he was alive. Whichever would destroy him first.

It seemed that Taehyung didn’t understand the fact that he was Jeongguk’s boss. That Taehyung was his goddamn client. That Jeongguk needed to focus on the street he was driving on instead of Taehyung who lightly ran his fingertips over Jeongguk’s thighs. “God, you’re so thick, Guk. I could just imagine sucking you off, your thighs keeping me in. Fuck, I’d like that.” He licked his lips. Jeongguk noted from his periphery that Taehyung’s eyes were practically sparkling, his lips parting hungrily.

“Taehyung, enough. I don’t need both of us to get into a goddamn accident.”

“Think they’ll put us both in the same bed in the hospital if I ask?” He teased unapologetically.

“Jesus,” he muttered, disbelieving. Instead of attempting to convince Taehyung that this wasn’t appropriate driving behavior, he wrapped his fingers around Taehyung’s, holding it down onto his lap. “Stay still. We’re almost home."

Jeongguk had been too focused on the road ahead of him, completely unaware of the way Taehyung’s eyes softened beside him and the way his body slackened for the first time that day.

Taehyung demanded that Jeongguk give him a piggyback ride into his place. “Taehyung, I have no time for jokes. You’re drunk and you need sleep.”

“Carry me then.”

“Taehyung—" 

He let out a childish whine that had Jeongguk’s skin prickling in irritation. He actually dropped down to the cemented floor of the parking lot, crossing his legs and pouting, staring up at Jeongguk with the biggest puppy dog eyes. “Carry me.” 

Although he was admittedly annoyed at how ridiculous Taehyung was being, he couldn’t help but find him a teensy bit adorable with his full bottom lip jutting out, eyes sparkling and pleading. He preferred this over the sexy Taehyung that he could never resist. Then again, at that moment, he couldn’t even deny Taehyung of his demands when he was looking like a kicked puppy. “Jesus, fine.” He crouched down in front of Taehyung, letting the elder clamber onto his back and wrap his arms around Jeongguk’s neck.

“Go forth!” Taehyung pointed, giggling as he leaned his head down on Jeongguk’s shoulder. “Faster! Faster” He nudged Jeongguk forward with his entire body. Thank God Jeongguk had lifted weights, otherwise the force of Taehyung’s movement might’ve hurled him forward.

Then again, his steps did falter a little and it might or might not have been due to the fact that Taehyung’s hard on was pressed up against him and he was basically grinding against his back.

Taehyung never behaved for long. Rather, he never really behaved at all. It didn’t take him long for his mouth to wander along Jeongguk’s exposed skin, his teeth grazing over the smoothness of his neck, nipping down, earning a scowl from the younger. “Taehyung, stop that.”

“You’re so delicious, Gukkie. You look so cute and edible, I just wanna eat you up.” He paused then laughed softly. “And maybe suck your dick but that’s another story altogether.”

Jeongguk felt his cock twitch in his pants at the thought and hated himself for it. Passing by the security guard at the lobby, he could only keep his head high, lips pursed, to hide his embarrassment. Though, it certainly didn’t stop him from throwing a glare in their direction when they looked all too amused with the situation.

The situation being Taehyung who was announcing to the entire fucking floor that Jeongguk was the “most delicious pumpkin bun on earth” and would proceed to take a big chomp out of Jungkook’s shoulder while nudging forward, his hard-on still pushing up against Jeongguk’s back.

Fuck his hormones. 

Even when he attempted to drop Taehyung onto the bed, the elder would only cling onto him with a whine, practically choking Jeongguk with the deadly hold he had around his neck. “Sleep with me,” he cried out. “Sleep with me! Do me, Gukkie!”

“Tae, Jesus Christ, just go to sleep.” He grunted, wrangling the boy underneath the blankets after pulling off his shoes. Taehyung just whimpered again, kicking off his blankets like a petulant child that had been refused candy. “Tae, you’re drunk. You have a long day tomorrow. Go to sleep.”

“Don’t remind me,” Taehyung groaned. “Hate that office, hate it, hate it.” Then he was on all fours, crawling towards Jeongguk who was on the edge of the bed. His thin arms wrapped around Jeongguk’s waist as he nuzzled his face into crotch. “Fuck, you smell so good, Guk. So fucking manly. I want to suck you off so badly. Please let me suck you off.”

The change in demeanor made him jump, his hands flying to get rid of Taehyung’s around his body. Fuck. Taehyung’s mouth began to mouth at the clothed fabric, his drunken state making him miss his target every time (thank the lords). Jeongguk growled, shoving Taehyung underneath the blanket and wrapping him up again so he couldn’t move. “Go to sleep. I’m going to shower and check on you later and you better be out cold.”

“Guk,” he said again, face scrunching up in annoyance, but his bodyguard was already hightailing out the door and into a very, very cold shower.

Jeongguk let the warm water run down his back, droplets dampening his hair as he attempted to shove thoughts of Taehyung out of his head. His eyes, hungry, and glimmering underneath the club’s psychedelic lights. His lips parted, full and kissable. His hands that moved all over Jeongguk, touch leaving a blazing trail of fire in its wake. His hard-on that he had felt against his own. His mouth, breath hot, against his sweaty skin. Fuck.

His hand slid down his abs, to his cock that hung between his legs, hard enough to bother him. He wrapped his fingers around it, tightening his old and groaning with how incredible it felt. He spread his precum that leaked from the tip of his cock down his length, stroking it with an urgency, 

Flashes of Taehyung appeared in his mind. Eyes. Lips. Tongue. Hands. Beautiful, beautiful hands. The curve of his hips. Collarbones. Neck, too enticing and mouthwatering. His wrists flicked faster, pants escaping his lips as the elder’s name slipped past his lips one too many times.

“Fuck, Taehyung, fuck.” He gasped, feeling his cock weigh heavy in his hand. He pumped his length over and over, harder and faster. “Fuck, just like that.” Oh God. He slammed his eyes shut as the shower continued to pound water down his back. The heat was scorching but the fire that was burning in his stomach was a bigger issue at hand.

He could just picture getting behind Taehyung, his hand on the smooth curve of his gorgeous ass. Jeongguk’s paler skin a delicious contrast against Taehyung’s golden one. He jerked at the thought of fucking Taehyung on his kitchen counter, have his hands around Jeongguk’s neck as Jeongguk pounded into him, telling him what a good boy he was for him.

God, he could just hear Taehyung’s deep moans, taste Taehyung on his tongue. Taehyung whimpering, begging for him to go faster and harder, to completely wreck him so he couldn’t move the next day. Oh fuck.

Strings of white landed against the blue tiles of the bathroom as Jeongguk let out another choked breath, shutting his eyes as he stroked his length harder, milking the extent of his orgasm for as long as he possibly could. His lungs felt heavy in his chest as he attempted to regain his composure.

His high had been the best he’s had in a while, but it didn’t last very long when the guilt began to course through him. Taehyung was lying dead drunk on his bed and there he was jerking off to his fucking boss. Jeongguk has had to deal with temptation towards his clients before, but Taehyung—fuck—Taehyung was infuriating and hot and sexy and just goddamn indescribable.

He soaped himself clean, attempting to get rid of the remorse on his hands. Quickly drying himself off and shrugging on comfortable clothes, he padded over to Taehyung’s room again, finding the boy tossing and turning, a frown on his forehead.

Jeongguk approached him, pulling the blanket higher to keep the boy warm and brushing the strands of hair that stuck to his forehead. Taehyung wouldn’t stop mumbling, which pissed Jeongguk off because why won’t he just go the fuck to sleep.

Taehyung looked younger asleep, his lips pouty, his features softened. There was a tugging in his heart that he chose to ignore and instead he stood up to walk out, 

“Gukkie,” Taehyung’s voice was barely audible but Jeongguk’s attuned to him at this point, turning around and quickly moving over to ensure that he was okay. He crouched down to observe the boy’s face, wondering if there was anything wrong. He was no doctor but he’s observant enough when it came to physical pain. “You’re so nice."

He wanted to snort. “Okay, you’re drunk. Go to sleep, Tae.”

The elder barely opened his eyes, sleep quickly catching up on him. “Really, you’re so, so nice.” He paused, his earnest gaze finding Jeongguk’s confused one. “You’re the only one I can trust, no one else.” These words had been a whisper. His voice was quiet, but the honesty in his voice rang too loud in the dead of night when exhaustion was weighing heavy on their shoulders.

 And maybe there was something to his words, to his confession, that made Jeongguk’s heart ache for the boy. Taehyung had never lived with anyone else, always been alone in his penthouse aside from the multiple men and women he’s brought over for nights of fun.

Jeongguk never questioned his clients on their personal endeavors, but he couldn’t help but notice the strong itch in the back of his head that urged him to ask Taehyung more about him, about his life.

But Jeongguk’s never been good with emotions. He dealt with tangible things, logical patterns. He was starting to wonder if he better started trying with Taehyung.

 

♦︎ ♦︎ ♦︎

 

Early the next morning, Jeongguk was greeted by the sight of Taehyung nursing one of the worst hangovers of his life. He had dragged himself in, slippers shuffling on the carpet, before dropping himself onto one of the kitchen stools. “Fuck, why’d you let me do that to myself?" 

“To punish you for being a brat,” Jeongguk muttered, setting a bowl of yogurt in front of him along with a cup of mint tea. “Eat up, it’ll help. I’ll make you soup too.” 

“I want something greasy and disgusting,” Taehyung pulled a face.

“You’re going to feel greasy and disgusting. Stop complaining and eat up.” Jeongguk huffed. “Or did you need me to spoon-feed you?” Taehyung’s eyes lit up. “Over my dead body.”

“Mean,” Taehyung sulked, but complied to his demands. He spooned the yogurt into his mouth, grimacing when the tanginess hit his flavor buds, before sipping on the warm tea.

While Taehyung ate breakfast behind him, Jeongguk couldn’t help but let his mind wander to the previous night. He had a feeling that he should probably ask Taehyung if he was okay, if he needed anything aside from his security services. Aside from Jimin, he had never seen Taehyung around anyone else close to him. No friends. Maybe the boy was a little lonely, and Jeongguk allowed himself to feel a little sympathy for him.

However, Taehyung seemed to forget about his moment of weakness altogether and returned to his normal self soon after. He had showered, then choosing to waddle around naked in the house, asking Jeongguk to solve his boredom. Jeongguk tried his best to ignore the fact that Taehyung’s pert, little ass was right there, and flicked his forehead, telling him to go find a hobby.

Thinking that it was going to be like any other day had probably jinxed things for him. His phone rang as he cleaned up the mess in his kitchen. Reading his mother’s contact name flash on the screen, he grinned and answered. “Hey, mom. Miss me already?”

“J-Jeongguk-ah.”

Her voice had wavered, then it was a sob.

“Mom, what’s wrong? Hey, are you okay?”

“I-It’s your dad.” His blood ran cold, his heartbeat faltering for a second, as he took a deep breath. “He-he was fixing the roof and he—he fell and he’s just in the emergency room right now and, God, I don’t know. I’m so, so scared, Jeongguk-ah.”

“Hey, mom, mom,” he said, hoping that his voice would remain steady enough to convince her. “It’s going to be fine okay. Dad’s strong. I’ll call the hospital to see if I can pull some strings. It’s fine. Did you call Jeonghyun?”

“Uh, he’s on a case right now and can’t leave. Are you working?” She sniffled.

His heart lodged in his throat. He hadn’t seen his family in a while, mainly because his work was based in Seoul and that consisted of long hours and long days, possibly stretching into months. “Yeah, I’m with a client. But I’ll do my best from here okay. I promise it’ll be okay.” He looked at his hand. It had a tremor and Jeongguk balled it into a fist and gritted his teeth, willing the anxiety away. “Keep me updated. Text me what hospital you’re in and I’ll call them."

“I’m sorry, Jeon—”

“Don’t ever be sorry,” he chided. “You know I’m your son first and I’ll always be there for you. I’ll call you if I hear anything from the hospital okay. I’ll make the arrangements. Get some rest, mom. Drink lots of water and eat up okay. I don’t want you getting sick at a time like this.”

“Okay,” she whispered. “I’ll talk to you soon, honey.”

“Okay, mom. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

Jeongguk set his phone down, clenching his jaw when he felt his knees weaken. God, this could not be happening. His dad was perfectly healthy and he had to go ahead and try to fix—fuck. He hadn’t been this scared in years, not since Jeonghyun had collapsed in college when no one else was around.

“I can practically hear you screaming in your head from the living room,” Taehyung’s voice jerked him out of his thoughts. He turned to face him and the worry must’ve been written all over his face, because Taehyung’s voice grew serious as he frowned. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” he cleared his throat and straightened. “Just need to make phone calls, if that’s okay with you.”

“Jeongguk-ah.”

He gulped, ignoring the uncomfortable stirring in his stomach. “Just my dad. He fell and he’s in Busan and my mom’s there and she’s worried and my brother can’t go—”

“Pack your bags,” Taehyung snatched his phone from the counter and punched in a few numbers, pressing the phone to his ear. “Let’s head to Busan.”

“Tae, we can’t just—”

“I’ll arrange transportation and accommodation. You’re in no state to be doing anything right now. Pack your bags.

Jeongguk winced. God, he hated feeling weak like this, especially in front of a fucking client. How unprofessional could he be? Taehyung shot him a look, telling him to get moving. So he did. He worked on autopilot and shoved just enough of his clothes into his bag. 

Two hours later, the two of them were situated in the first class car. “Yeah, Namjoon-hyung, we’re heading to Busan.”

Jeongguk could still hear the other end of the conversation as Namjoon spoke up. “Is Jeongguk okay? Why didn’t he call?”

“I wouldn’t let him, trying to get him to relax a little.” Taehyung set a hand on Jeongguk’s knee, which he hadn’t realized had been bouncing. His thumb stroked over the fabric soothingly and Jeongguk ceased his movements. “Yeah, don’t worry. He’s still got my back, I trust him.”

Despite Taehyung sitting calmly next to him, his mind was frantic. All sorts of scenarios flashed behind his eyes. He had called the hospital earlier and they had told him that his father was getting checked up and in line for the surgery. But there was nothing else. His fingers fiddled with his phone, hoping for a text or a call to let him know what was going on, 

“Gukkie,” Taehyung’s hand felt warm on his head, rubbing it thoughtfully. “Calm down. We’re going to be there in no time and your father will be fine.”

Sure enough, the elder had kept his word. A car had been ready at the station to pick them up and take them straight to the hospital while Taehyung told the driver to drop off their things at the hotel.

The hospital felt too clean, too white. He rushed to the front desk, asking for his father’s name. Taehyung beat him to it, telling the front desk secretary to provide the best care possible, the VIP room, and assign the most appropriate doctor to perform the surgery. 

“Tae, I appreciate it, but—”

“If you’re worried about the money, I budgeted it based on your income, current savings, and your father’s insurance, you’ll be fine.”

“How do you even know—actually, do I want to know?”

Taehyung only smiled, patting his shoulder. “You’re in good hands, Guk.”

“Mom!” Jeongguk rushed over when he saw his mother’s small figure in the waiting room.

His father had been entered into surgery as soon as Taehyung ordered the front desk to arrange whatever they could for him. They had been briefed on the procedures and, while Jeongguk didn’t know shit about medical procedures, Taehyung had nodded understandingly, bringing up a few concerns that he hadn’t even considered to the doctor. The doctor looked surprised as well but he explained everything thoroughly to Taehyung until he was satisfied. 

“Jeongguk!” She fell into his arms easily, burying her face in his chest. “Oh God, what are you doing here? I thought you were working.”

“Long story, but it’s fine.”

Jeongguk turned around to introduce Taehyung to find him curiously peering at the two of them. “Uh, mom, this is Kim Taehyung, my client."

Taehyung bowed politely and shook her hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Jeon.”

“Oh, oh, I’m so embarrassed. I’m terribly sorry that Jeongguk had to come all the way here.”

He shook his head with a reassuring smile, “It’s quite alright. I’ve always wanted to visit Busan anyway and Gukkie here gave me an excuse to do so.”

His mother slackened in relief, “That’s good to hear. Please, please, take a seat. It’ll be a while.”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk nodded, ending up sitting in between his mother and Taehyung. “We took care of the arrangements, so you just have to worry about dad okay. But he’ll be fine, we made sure of it.”

His mother’s eyes sparkled with something he couldn’t tell. “I see, that’s good to hear. Thank you so much, Jeongguk, Taehyung.”

After the surgery, which had been an easy success, his father had been moved into one of the rooms that was much too luxurious than they initially anticipated. Jeongguk had turned to Taehyung, worried that it might go over budget. Taehyung only grinned, “My father owns some shares from this hospital so we can get a discount.” Of course.

Taehyung always sat on the sidelines and Jeongguk fussed over his parents. He made sure that his mother would go home and get herself some clothes before she stayed over with his father. Taehyung had nudged them out the door, reassuring them that he would look over Jeongguk’s father while they were gone. Jeongguk had given him a grateful look.

The two returned later on in the afternoon, finding Jeongguk’s father still asleep and resting on the bed. Taehyung smiled, greeting them a welcome back. “Taehyung-ah,” Jeongguk’s mother brushed past her son to hand a box over to Taehyung. “Eat something, son. You haven’t been out of here the whole day. Please.”

“Oh,” he looked genuinely taken aback. “Thank you very much.”

“It’s nothing big, just some leftovers and a few things I could whip up. I hope it’s to your liking.”

“I’m sure I’ll like whatever you make, Mrs. Jeon.”

She giggled, “What a flatterer you are. You must get all the girls and boys with that mouth.”

“Not everyone,” Taehyung had chuckled easily. 

As Jeongguk’s mom busied herself with ensuring that everything was okay with her husband, Taehyung and Jeongguk sat together at the small dining table in the room. Taehyung was stuffing his face with food while Jeongguk looked at him curiously. “Why are you so excited over a homemade bento?”

He shrugged, shoving kimchi into his mouth. “Never really had one, except for the ones my chef cooked for me when i was a kid.”

Jeongguk sighed, “Sorry this one might not be up to par then. Mom didn’t really have time—”

Taehyung looked positively offended, scoffing, “Nonsense.” He quieted for a second. His eyes softened, he looked a little fond, sentimental even. “This is better.”

When Jeongguk’s father had woken up, his family had quickly jumped to him only to have him grunt, “You’re all worrying for nothing. I’m indestructible.” Taehyung had laughed while Jeongguk groaned. Of course, he was too curious about the additional presence in the room, one that was unfamiliar to him but seemed too familiar with Jeongguk. “Ah, Taehyung, I see. I hope Jeongguk here hasn’t caused too much trouble." 

His son had snorted, “Please, if there’s anyone I’m keeping out of trouble, it would be him.”

Taehyung had given his father a look, winking. “Don’t worry, I’ll keep him in line.”

For the next few days, Jeongguk and his mother would monitor his father’s condition, choosing to spend time together to catch up on lost time. It felt good to be back home, to be in his family’s warmth again. Although Seoul was great, there was something to Busan that kept him grounded. Taehyung chose to explore with the driver he had hired, wandering all over Busan and sending Jeongguk pictures (under Jeongguk’s insistence obviously, he was still on the job after all). Though, he’d be lying if he didn’t appreciate Taehyung’s selcas, his face sometimes blurry when he got too excited or his rectangular smile glowing on his screen.

Taehyung would always drop by later in the evening, bringing dinner for all of them and waving off Jeongguk’s mother’s concerns, telling him to stop spoiling them. “Really, Tae,” his mother had started, smiling mischievously. “If you get any sweeter, I might ask you to marry Jeonggukie here.”

Jeongguk had choked. 

But whenever the family was spending time together, Taehyung would choose to sit by the sidelines, working away on his computer on whatever assignment his father had sent him. Jeongguk felt shitty that he was enjoying this trip without taking Taehyung into consideration.

After Jeongguk’s father had been discharged from the hospital, Jeongguk knew he had to return him and Taehyung to their lives back in Seoul. His mother had demanded that she drive the two of them to the station to which the two reluctantly agreed.

“Ah, Taehyung, you’re always welcome here, okay. Any time you want to drop by, with or without Jeongguk, please do.” She kissed both his cheeks, earning a delightful giggle from the boy. 

When Taehyung went over to check on their train times, Jeongguk’s mother had patted her son’s cheek thoughtfully. “Jeongguk-ah, be good to him okay.”

He rolled his eyes, “Okay, mom. I know he helped with all of this but no need to kiss his ass.”

She smacked him, laughing. “Not that. He’s just—he seems lonely, quieter than you might think.” Jeongguk knew what she meant so he took her words to heart and nodded, promising her that he’d do his best.

The train ride back was unnervingly silent. Taehyung spent the hours staring out the window, gaze and mind seeming out of reach. Jeongguk shifted around next to him, hoping that Taehyung would strike up conversation or small talk that would ease the tension that had never existed between them before.

However, the silent treatment was broken when Taehyung turned to him the second the two stepped into his apartment. “Jeongguk, can you do me a favor?” He raised an eyebrow in response. Taehyung didn’t ask, he just demanded. So for him to be this polite, he couldn’t help but be a teensy bit curious. “Will you cook breakfast for me everyday? And maybe lunch and dinner if we’re at home.”

The request was nothing out of the blue. Taehyung’s always wanted Jeongguk to teach him how to cook or to prepare meals for him. But it was strange that Taehyung seemed a little shy, ducking his head a little. Jeongguk could even see a faint blush dusting pink onto his cheeks as he shuffled his feet. Adorable.

“You do realize I’m paid to protect you, not feed you.”

He stuck out his bottom lip, widening his eyes, “You need to protect my health too. it comes with the package.”

Jesus, this kid was something else. His lips twitched. “Yeah, sure. Any preferences for tonight’s dinner?”

Taehyung’s entire face lit up, every inch of his features brightening, from his eyes to the brilliance of his smile. “Pasta!”

Thus, without fail, every morning, Jeongguk would have breakfast ready for Taehyung or have Taehyung stand by his side as he prepared breakfast and showed him the steps. It was a good thing he was an early riser, otherwise he probably would’ve been snappy in the morning whenever Taehyung would sleepily cuddle up to him, mumbling something about being tired and hungry.

However, Jeongguk couldn’t help but note that there was a certain energy to Taehyung, a certain excitement, whenever he whipped up something for the elder. He had the same look as the time his mother had given him a homemade meal.

“Why are you so excited over this? I’ve done this before for you.”

He shrugged, grinning and stuffing his face with more rice. “It’s nice. Feels domestic, don’t you think? Like we’re boyfriends.”

Jeongguk choked and never asked again.

Strangely enough, he fell into the habit without complaint. Taking care of Taehyung and cleaning up after him (he made sure Taehyung felt plenty of regret for it later) were as important as Taehyung’s security. At one point, Taehyung asked again what he did for fun.

He thought about it for a moment. “Paintball.”

“Paintball? Like the shooting thing?”

“Yeah.”

“Is it really fun?”

“Yeah, if you’re into the adrenaline sort of thing.”

Taehyung tilted his head, looking hesitant for all of two seconds before he nodded. “Let’s go give it a try.”

“What? Today?”

“Yeah, why not?” A look of dread settled on his face then. “Wait, did my father call me in?”

“No, not today.”

He breathed out, then nodded in determination. “Okay, let’s go. I want to play.”

Jeongguk should’ve listened to the bells ringing in his head, telling him that this was a terrible idea. He should’ve known that his competitive nature would come back to bite him in the ass (and also that one time he shot Hoseok down with three paintballs during a company outing). Taehyung wanted them to be on separate teams, to “up the stakes.” And combined with other people, the two split into two groups and went out into the field.

He knew that field well, knowing the corners to hide in, the spaces that amateurs would go to. He knew how to work the field, even more so when he’s worked as a bodyguard and as part of security teams for years.

When Taehyung wandered over to the area Jeongguk was watching (he could spot that lanky frame anywhere), he was an easy target. Jeongguk had let out a maniacal laugh before he shot Taehyung in the arm. 

Big mistake.  

His cry of pain had nearly stopped Jeongguk’s heart altogether. Dropping his gun, he rushed over to Taehyung, pulling off his mask and searching Taehyung for any other signs of injuries aside from the huge splatter of blue on his arm. “Fuck,” he muttered. “I’m so sorry. Shit, you were just there and I—fuck—President Kim is going to kill—”

However, his words caught in his throat when Taehyung burst out laughing, his head thrown back, eyes curving into crescent moons. “Oh fuck,” he chuckled. “Oh God, that hurts like a bitch. Is it bruising?”

Jeongguk froze and quickly opened up the patch to find that there was already a blue patch on his otherwise smooth, clean skin. Goddammit. “I’m so fucking sorry, holy shit.”

“Gukkie, it’s fine. It’s just a bruise. And I’m” — he paused — “I’m human. It’ll heal.”

All the way back, Jeongguk profusely apologized, ‘sorry’s and curses tumbling past his lips much to Taehyung’s amusement. He obviously found Jeongguk’s being flustered entertaining. After rubbing cooling ointment onto his skin, Jeongguk cooked him his favorite food that night, producing a meal (it could even count as meals) fit for a king.

“Hey, it’s really fine, it’s just a bruise.” Taehyung smiled, hoping to ease Jeongguk’s conscience. “Plus, I had fun. I didn’t know paintball could be so entertaining, I felt like I was about to piss myself. But the good kind, you know.”

“Your dad will slaughter me.”

“I can cover it up easy with a little makeup. I can even wear long-sleeves.” 

“Still, I’m so sorry. I should’ve warned you that paintball could hurt like hell.”

“Hey, Gukkie, look at me.” Jeongguk painfully brought his gaze up to meet the elder’s, his smile far from comforting. “I’m fine. You told me you’d protect me, remember?”

Jeongguk sighed, “With my life." 

“Exactly, now pinky promise me that.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Ouch, I think the bruise—”

“You’re a demon.” Jeongguk raised his finger.

Taehyung giggled.

 

♦︎ ♦︎ ♦︎

 

The following morning, Taehyung had been in a good mood. Bad mood Taehyung was one that sulked and whined in every corner of his apartment, begging for Jeongguk to carry him. Good mood Taehyung was flirty, brush-up-his-crotch-against-Jeongguk’s-ass kind of happy. Jeongguk had made omurice for him, even did a fancy flip for the omelette which had Taehyung laughing in excitement, a sound that echoed warmth through his veins.

As he cleaned up in the kitchen, he listened to Taehyung singing in his bedroom as he got ready, finding himself chuckling to the lyrics of his obviously self-composed song. His phone blared next to him and he quickly straightened himself. “President Kim.”

“Jeongguk, bring Taehyung over at twelve today. I’ve already informed him of this and I need you to make sure he’s on time. Board meetings don’t wait for anyone.”

Jesus, a board meeting? Taehyung could barely wash dishes. “Yes, sir. I’ll make sure of that.”

Then the line went dead. He wiped his hands and went over to Taehyung’s room, knocking on the door. He had stopped singing, instead standing stiffly in front of his closet, staring at his rows of monochromatic shirts. 

“Hey, Tae. We’re leaving by eleven alright, traffic’s usually pretty heavy.”

Taehyung turned around to nod then faced his closet again.

The heaviness didn’t ease in the car either. Taehyung was silent, sitting tensely in the back seat and looking out the window. Jeongguk found himself checking on Taehyung every few seconds through the rearview mirror, concern creasing his forehead. “Hey, Tae, you okay?”

“Fine." 

Too curt. Taehyung was never curt.

Jeongguk chose to stay silent, not knowing what words to say and fearing that he’d say all the wrong ones. They arrived fairly early to the office. “Can you just stay with me for a little while? Before I have to go in.” He asked Jeongguk, seeming small as his fingers found the fabric of Jeongguk’s suit.

“Yeah, of course. Do you want me to get you coffee or tea?”

“No, just—just stay here with me.”

President Kim arrived a few minutes before twelve and greeted the two of them. He smiled at Taehyung, “It’s going to be a long day today, son. Better get yourself ready. Wait outside, Jeongguk, unless I call you.” Jeongguk nodded, his gaze darting over to Taehyung’s stiff figure next to him. He was a bit reluctant to let him go, but what choice did he have?

Taehyung disappeared, head ducked down, into the meeting room, slamming the door. The sound echoed down the hallway, causing uneasiness to settle in his stomach. He sat down by the door, watching as people walked by. Suits, suits, suits. The office seemed too clean cut and neat, too cold and detached. But he supposed that’s how offices were supposed to be. He just got used to Namjoon being too friendly by fraternizing with his employees.

Jeongguk wondered if Taehyung was alright, if his dad was pushing him too hard. Taehyung was smart, no doubt, but God forbid if he was overworked.

The hours dragged by excruciatingly, the clock ticking loudly on the wall only worsening his worry. When there was rustling from the inside, he quickly jumped to his feet, straightening his tux and standing straight. President Kim was out first, laughing as he shook hands with whom Jeongguk guessed were his employees and associates. They thanked each other and bid them farewell. “Jeongguk, good work today. You may return Taehyung to his penthouse.”

A bite of irritation nagged at his mind with President Kim’s words. Taehyung walked out then, catching Jeongguk’s attention with the blankness in his eyes.

Taehyung’s eyes have always been expressive, their chocolate colors switching from one shade to another. They always brightened and dimmed according to his mood, switching from hazel to soft brown to a sweet caramel.

But in that moment, there was nothing. Jeongguk saw absolutely nothing.

President Kim, on the other hand, seemed all too pleased, patting Taehyung on the back with a smile. “Good work today, son. Get some rest.”

Taehyung only nodded, bowed, and waited for Jeongguk to lead the way. The ride back was even more painfully silent. He could hear his heart thrum in his chest, waiting to see if Taehyung would say anything, react in any way. Just give him something to let him know that he was okay.

As he walked Taehyung towards his room, he cleared his throat, “Hey, want to go out for barbecue? There’s a good place that just opened up not too far away.” Taehyung shook his head, mumbling something about not today before closing the door on Jeongguk.

Not once has Taehyung ever refused barbecue. Or food for that matter.

Jeongguk was left to pace his room, the carpet flattening out beneath his feet. He checked his phone, then the clock on the wall, out the window at the quickly darkening sky, and repeat. He didn’t know how much time passed. His legs grew weary as he slumped back on his bed, draping his arm across his eyes with a groan.

God, he didn’t sign up for this.

He became a bodyguard to protect the safety and rights of his clients, to keep them out of trouble and away from threats. He didn’t want to be a sap, didn’t want to go soft, and actually consider how they were feeling outside of what he was supposed to get involved in.

A crash in the kitchen yanked him from his thoughts, jerking his reflexes into motion as he rushed towards the room. Finding Taehyung attempting to climb the counter to open the top shelves shouldn’t be surprising, but it didn’t stop Jeongguk from jumping into action to keep the boy steady when he was already swaying from side to side. “Jesus, Tae, what are you doing?" 

He giggled, singing a song that Jeongguk had heard his mother listening to before. An oldies kind of song he couldn’t name. “I want the tick—no the deck—te-qui-la!” He cheered, flinging his arms in the air and throwing off his balance.

Jeongguk caught him easy in his arms, bridal style, staring at Taehyung with concern.

“You’re so pretty, Jeonggukie.” He cooed, running his fingers over Jeongguk’s lips.

For once, he blushed, shaking his touch away and setting Taehyung on his feet. “And you’re so drunk.” 

“You’re so, so cute, Jeonggukie.” Taehyung grinned, eyes glazed over with a haziness that only alcohol could provide. “I like you so much. You’re so nice too. How are you so perfect?” He stumbled over to Jeongguk who managed to seize him before he face planted on the floor. Taehyung looked at Jeongguk, into his eyes, watching the uncertainty in the younger boy’s irises. Then he shifted closer. And closer. And closer.

So close that Jeongguk could feel the warmth of his breath, the gentleness of his touch, the brush of his hair tickling his cheek. So close that he could smell the whiskey scent in his mouth.

Jeongguk pushed Taehyung away, holding him at arm’s length. “Stop it, Tae. I mean it. You’re really, really drunk, and I work for you.” The words tasted like poison in his mouth, the tone sour on his tongue. There was nothing more that he wanted than to kiss Taehyung but he wasn’t about to take advantage of Taehyung’s intoxication. “I’m trying to be professional here, Tae.”

He could’ve sworn he saw a flicker of hurt pass through his eyes for a minuscule of a second. But then Taehyung exploded in laughter, the sound much too loud for the empty space. “Fuck, I’m kidding, Guk-ah. Calm down. Come on! I want to go clubbing tonight! A strip club! I wanna see some cute booties on stage today.”

“I really don’t think that’s a good idea, you should rest up. It’s been a long day." 

Taehyung huffed, cocking his hips, and crossing his arms in protest. “I’m not a baby, Jeon Jeongguk. Now, either you’re going to take me there or I’ll leave you here and catch a cab."

Goddammit.

In Taehyung’s previous state, amplified by the glasses he tossed back with a proud, wonky grin on his face, Jeongguk wasn’t surprised to find Taehyung hollering at everything and nothing. He sat uncomfortably in the seat at the table, keeping his eyes on Taehyung but also any other possible means of exit in a time of emergency.

However, the only thing that alerted his mind of any danger was the fact that one of the strippers had come up to Taehyung, grinding his leather-clad crotch up on the elder. Jeongguk could see Taehyung letting out a hiss, his eyes darkening with lust as he handed over the dollar bills.

It irked him. It irked him to no end to see someone so close in contact with Taehyung. But this was Taehyung’s personal life. It was none of his business.

Yeah, he wasn’t supposed to get involved.

Instead, he gritted his teeth and continuously checked his phone, hoping for a text or a call, any reason for him to drag Taehyung out of there and back home where he would be safe with Jeongguk.

“Guk,” Taehyung called out. When he looked up, the elder was already closer towards the edge of the seating area, an ominous smile dancing on his lips as he curled his finger in a gesture for Jeongguk to come close. “Come on, I’ve got a little treat waiting for me in one of the private rooms.”

His heart leapt to his throat, bile tasting bitter in his mouth. The last thing he wanted to do was watch Taehyung get down and dirty with someone else. Alas, fate never played her part in his life and he ended up by the door, watching as a guy came up to Taehyung, straddle him, and started making out with him.

The sloppy noises of mouth against mouth bounced off the walls, the rustling off clothes sounded deafening in Jeongguk’s ears. He prided himself on his patience and tolerance to a certain extent, but in that moment, there was nothing more he’d like to do than take Taehyung across his knees to teach him a lesson.

“I’ll wait outside,” he cleared his throat, reaching for the knob.

“No.” 

The refusal stopped his movements, freezing him altogether as he tossed a disbelieving look his way. “What?”

“Stay and watch, Gukkie. We don’t mind. You have to make sure that I’m safe right. Keep your eyes on me.”

“I’m not—”

“Stay.”

His voice was stern. Demanding. Jeongguk bit his tongue and turned around again, pressing his back against the door as Taehyung continued to kiss the man. The guy buried his face in Taehyung’s neck, breathing in his scent and swallowing the delicious moans tumbling from the boy’s lips. His hips moved against Taehyung’s, lining up perfectly with his front and creating a wonderful friction that sent electricity coursing through him.

Jeongguk shouldn’t have been pissed. He really shouldn’t. Taehyung was his boss. Taehyung was a fucking grown man that could make his own decisions, rational or not.

But it didn’t stop his blood from boiling when the man sank to his knees and unbuckled Taehyung’s pants. It didn’t stop his heart from racing in fury, his fingers curling into his palms, when he heard the sounds of pleasure Taehyung released with the man’s ministrations.

There has never been a more awkward silence than the ride back. Jeongguk was more than pissed to say the least, his gaze focused solely on the road ahead of him, completely ignoring Taehyung’s happy humming in the backseat. Of course, Jeongguk’s internal screams didn’t go by unnoticed by Taehyung who seemed all too pleased with his bodyguard’s displeasure with the whole situation.

“What,” Taehyung laughed, mocking. “You’re pissed now?”

“Go to sleep, Taehyung.” Jeongguk shrugged off his coat, hanging it in the hallway closet. He stormed towards the kitchen, pouring himself a glass of water and chugging it down, hoping that the cold water would cool his temper down. 

Taehyung, obviously, didn’t get the hint, following after him, and throwing his hands in the air. “You weren’t fucking interested, Jeongguk. Why are you getting pissed at me now?” 

“I’m not. Go to sleep.”

“Yes, you are. I can see you. Your vein is practically popping out of your neck.” Taehyung chuckled, running his finger down the line on the younger boy’s skin.

He jerked away, scowling at Taehyung. “I mean it, Taehyung. Get some rest. You’re done for the day.”

“Are you jealous?” Taehyung taunted further, leaning into him. “Jealous that you weren’t the one sucking me off? Did you want to suck me off, Jeongguk? Want me to come into your mouth, hm?” Jeongguk breathed out, glaring at Taehyung. He was close to his last string of patience, all  his other ones had snapped hours ago when the man had carelessly tossed bills on stage in exchange for compromising dances. “Or did you get hard? Did you get horny watching that, Jeongguk? Did you want me to suck you off instead? You know the offer still stands.”

And that was it. He backed Taehyung up into the counter, slamming his palms down on the marble surface, feeling his skin sting with the contact. “I told you to fucking stop it.”

“Or what? Are you going to send me to my room? Or maybe report me to my dad? Fucking bite me, Jeongguk.”

“Why the fuck are you such a dick?” Jeongguk blurted out. “Don’t you ever get tired of being an asshole?"

“I don’t know, why don’t you tell me if you ever get tired of being stiff with that stick up your ass?”

“Unlike you, Taehyung, I have my responsibilities and I know where I stand in this house.” He scooped up Taehyung behind the knees, throwing him over his shoulder. Taehyung’s screams echoed down the empty hall, his fists banging against Jeongguk’s hard back as he carried him all the way to his room and flung him onto the bed.

Taehyung sneered at him, “Why don’t you fucking admit that you’re just a goddamn coward? If you want something from me, you take it. Isn’t that what people have always done? They just take, take, take. They never think of me anyway.”

Jeongguk’s heart ached in his chest. God. When did this turn into such a mess? Taehyung sobbed then, tears streaming down his face as he buried his face into his pillows, yelling at him to get the fuck out. His feet couldn’t move, cemented onto the floor. His uncertainty had Taehyung’s temper flaring once more as he tossed pillows his way to tell him to leave.

Unfortunately, his rage took over so he slammed the door closed as he left. If Taehyung was going to act like a brat, then he sure as hell will be treated like one.

 

♦︎ ♦︎ ♦︎

 

The next morning, Jeongguk woke up his heart heavy in his chest and an acid aftertaste in his mouth. The guilt ran heavy inside of him, so he pushed aside his ego for two seconds before he quickly cleaned up, then headed over to Taehyung’s room. He knocked lightly on the door to no answer. “Tae?”

Peeking inside, he found that the room was void of any presence, the bed looked untouched, the space eerily silent. He wasn’t used to quietness, not in Taehyung’s place. He frowned and stepped inside, moving towards the bedside table to find a note. 

Gone to my father’s office. Take the day off. – Taehyung

Well, that was curt. He rolled his eyes, punching in the numbers for the security team in the Kim Electronics Tower. Sure enough, they confirmed that President Kim has granted him a free day and to pick up Taehyung later when summoned.

Instead of wallowing around Taehyung’s issue, he decided that it would be a good day to catch up on gym days he’s missed. Cooking for Taehyung meant preparing a shit ton of food with too much carbs. Fortunately for Taehyung, his digestive system worked 24/7 and that was how he managed to stay so fit despite eating like a pig. Unfortunately, Jeongguk wasn’t one of those people. Thus, he spent a good few hours working out at the gym.

Those hours, he might or might not have been cursing out the presence of Kim Taehyung and his drunken, flirty ass.

Fuck.

A sweaty mess in the evening, he showered it all off, scrubbing away the grime and anger. The water was cool against his skin, managing to ease some of his frustrations. His gym was located conveniently near a coffee shop that provided the best lattes in the area, so he figured a little caffeine wouldn’t hurt to deal with the incoming mess.

“Jeongguk?”

He looked up from his phone to find Park Jimin staring at him, blinking. “Oh, hey.”

“Damn, almost didn’t recognize you without a suit.” He chuckled. Jeongguk had dressed down for the day, opting for a t-shirt and jeans that were loose enough to fit his broad shoulders. “Still looking mighty fine though.”

Jeongguk blanched, taking a sip from his drink. “Uh, thanks.” He licked his lips, tasting the bitterness left on the corners of his mouth. Jimin stared at him, head tilted to the side as if in question. He pursed his lips, wondering if it would be out of line for him to ask for a little insight into Taehyung.

“You look like you have questions.” Jimin pointed out, grinning. “I have some time. Won’t you join me for a drink?”

The two of them settled on a table in the far corner of the small café, far from prying eyes and ears. Jimin leaned back, eyes analyzing Jeongguk for any signs of discomfort or curiosity. It really was strange to see the man out of uniform. He looked a little boyish. Young. Reminded him a little of someone they both knew.

“So, questions?”

“I don’t think it’s my place to ask.”

Jimin waved it off, “Taehyung likes you. He trusts you, so I trust you.”

His lips pinched defensively. “I’m his employee.”

“An employee he trusts with his life, no?” Jimin casually took another gulp of his drink, setting the mug down on the table and fingering the handle. His gaze flicked up to meet Jeongguk’s shifting figure. “Of course, we don’t have to talk about Taehyung. I just thought you might be interested as to why Taehyung is, well, Taehyung.” 

“I am,” he admitted. “I’m just not sure whether it would be an intrusion of his privacy.”

The elder nodded, sighing. “I mean, if you worked for the company, for any company closely associated with Kim Electronics at least, you would know all about the genius Kim Taehyung.” The word ‘genius’ perked his ears up, his glance flying to meet Jimin’s. “It’s common knowledge that Taehyung was born a prodigy. A math prodigy specifically. Though, he did excel in piano and saxophone from an early age too because his exceptional math abilities allowed him to maintain rhythms and tempos immensely well.” 

Interesting. Jeongguk never would’ve guessed. “So he’s important because he can count? 

Jimin laughed, “Oh, my sweet, naive Jeon Jeongguk.” Jeongguk scowled. “You have to understand that in finance, numbers are everything. The alpha and omega, sun and moon, and all that, I suppose. His father noticed early in his life that Taehyung was incredibly capable of handling numbers and data analysis, things us normal beings could never comprehend in such a short amount of time. Even when he was in elementary school, his father would test the waters with him, handing him data and keeping him updated on the stock market to ensure that his investments would return tenfold.”

“Elementary school?” Jeongguk couldn’t imagine that. When he was a mere brat, all he did was run around the playground collecting bruises and avoiding cooties from girls. Taehyung being stuffed into a crisp shirt and shoved into an office room with paperwork when he was at such an impressionable age left an uncomfortable feeling in his heart.

“It might’ve started before that, we never know. From what I’ve heard from his employees, Taehyung started showing up in the office in about third grade. By the time he was a teenager, with private tutors having given up on trying to teach him anything because he basically knew everything, he was a better analyst than most of his father’s employees.”

It baffled Jeongguk. His parents always told him to take life at his own pace (his much slower than his brother’s who had gone off into law school while Jeongguk was still exploring his sexual preferences and the wonders of dicks). Of course, he was aware of some parents being stricter than others, but to have delved into an adult world at such a young age must’ve taken away a lot from Taehyung.

“That it did,” Jimin agreed, nodding with a grunt. He must’ve said the last part aloud. “Physically and emotionally. Taehyung finished his studies in high school in no time despite spending barely half the week attending classes, most of his days went to the office. Then he went off to university. The United States at least granted him a little breathing room from his father. 

“It wasn’t all business, the work. Companies hardly stay off the dirty path when it came to winning over the top spot in the economy. There had been instances when people have tried to come for Taehyung, use his skills for their own benefit. God, that one week when nobody fucking knew where he was. It was as if President Kim had ripped open the earth on every axis. The man didn’t survive to say the least. Hence, security was upped for Taehyung and he’s basically been put on lockdown ever since.”

“I don’t understand though, he was a kid. He was in elementary school. How can his father ever think that that would be a good idea?”

“President Kim’s always been a tough one, just like his dad. That’s why Kim Electronics is so damn successful. Everyone figured Taehyung would follow in footsteps, including President Kim, so he paved the way for Taehyung.”

“What about his mother? She seemed pleasant enough when I met her.”

Jimin gave him a look, taking another gulp of his drink. “She’s wonderful, an absolutely lovely woman. But you know who the alpha is in the family. She does want the best for Taehyung, wants him to live a normal life instead of being drilled and grilled into being his father’s successor.” He paused, as if in thought. Tapping his lips thoughtfully, he continued with a smile. “I heard from a little birdie that she was the one who took the lead in hiring a new bodyguard for Taehyung, personally requested Kim Namjoon for someone who can help Taehyung. Guess he picked the right man after all.”

Warmth tinged his ears as he cleared his throat, eyes darting away from Jimin’s intense gaze. “I don’t know why he chose me. He knows how impatient I am with clients like Taehyung."

“Who knows?” Jimin shrugged. “Maybe he knew that you’d be patient enough considering how eager you are to jump into Tae’s pants."

“I am not,” he scoffed.

“Tell that to your persistent boner. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve never seen Taehyung happier. He still feels like shit with the office visits but it seems like he’s enjoying himself with you. So, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.” Jimin stood up, shrugging on his coat again, and glancing down at him. “Taehyung is a brat, not going to lie. He likes putting himself at risk, seduces every fucking bodyguard he’s had. Don’t feel too bad if you fall into the temptation.” 

“I’m not going to.”

“That’s what they all say,” he snorted, giving a little salute as he walked away from the younger. “Take care, Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk returned to his car with more than enough food for thought. His mind was whirring with all the newfound information. For a little while, he sat there in the driver’s seat, head deep in thought. He supposed it all came together than. Taehyung had been a real life Mr. Robot, churning out numbers and analyses for his father since day one. Getting hurt in paintball, throwing himself at harm’s way. Jeongguk wondered if that was a scare tactic for his father.

Taehyung had always been more of a company asset rather than a son.

For the first time, he sort of pitied the kid.

 

♦︎ ♦︎ ♦︎

 

Returning home that night to Taehyung’s closed door, Jeongguk couldn’t help the guilt that instantly flowed through his veins. He knocked lightly on the door, creaking it open only to find Taehyung out cold on the bed, snoring away.

His sleep was restless to say the least. He got up much too early before the sun even peeked over the horizon, prepared breakfast and got himself ready for the day, checking in on Taehyung’s schedule and routine. Seeing a meeting listed on his planner, Jeongguk felt his stomach churn at the thought of bringing Taehyung to the office. 

“Morning, Guk.” Taehyung’s voice sounded from the doorway. It’s been much too long (it’s been a day but it felt like an eternity after journeying down Taehyung’s entire past) since he’s seen him last. The older boy stood there, rubbing sleep away from his eyes, hands covered to the tips of his fingers with his oversized pajamas.

“Morning,” he murmured in return. “Breakfast is ready if you want to eat now.”

He hummed happily and settled down on the counter. “Great, thanks. How was your day off?”

“Productive, I suppose. I got some work done in the gym.”

Taehyung chuckled, “Figures.”

“How was the office?”

His lips tightened noticeably, but he shrugged. “Same old, same old. What’s on the agenda for today?”

He was going to feel like absolute shit. “Office meeting at noon. But then you’ll be free the rest of the day, I can take you wherever you want to go. Maybe BBQ? Or you said you wanted to take a pottery class?” Jeongguk knew that his words did nothing to the console Taehyung. He observed the way his lips quivered for a second before he took a deep breath and nodded.

He wished—God, he really fucking wished—he wasn’t on duty. He wished it wasn’t President Kim paying him, then he would’ve had the ability and guts to say fuck it and take Taehyung away for a break. After the things he’s been put through all these years, he needed twenty more years for redemption from this kind of hell.

“Yeah, I guess. We’ll see,” he nodded glumly. “I’ll get ready then, see you in a bit.”

The ride was unsurprisingly silent. Taehyung with his chin propped up on his palm, eyes trailing after the blurry view outside the window. Jeongguk snuck glances every once in a while just to ensure that he wouldn’t throw himself out of the car out of desperation. Taehyung wordlessly entered the conference room, leaving Jeongguk to wallow with his thoughts and worries outside, pacing the floor with pursed lips.  

It was no different when they returned home. Taehyung choosing to lock himself in his room while Jeongguk could do nothing except wait and wait and wait in the silence of his room. He really shouldn’t be worrying too much. Taehyung was a client. All he had to do was keep him safe and secure. Nothing else.

Right?

A little over nine, just as Jeongguk finished typing up his report for the day to send to Namjoon, Taehyung burst into his room, palms splayed on the door, a wide grin spread across his face. He wobbled over towards Jeongguk, dropping himself sloppily on his lap. The younger could only blink incredulously. “Yah, Jeon Jeongguk.” He giggled, tapping Jeongguk’s nose. “You’re so fucking hot, you know that.”

“You’ve made me aware of the fact.” He replied simply.

“Take me out. Dancing. I want to dance with you. Wanna dance with you until everyone around us tells me to stop grinding on your dick.”

“I think you’ve had enough to drink, Taehyung. Maybe you should just go to—”

“No!” Taehyung wailed, wriggling on Jeongguk’s lap in an act of defiance that did nothing except make him aware of the fact that Taehyung’s pert ass was sitting nicely on his dick. “I wanna go. Let’s go dance and drink and get trashed.”

“Let’s get you to bed, hm?” Jeongguk easily lifted him up, tossing him over his shoulder and carrying a crying and whining Taehyung all the way back to his room and dropping him on the bed. “You’ve had too much to drink—”

“You know what, if you won’t drive me, then I’ll fucking call a cab to get there myself. Out of my way, Jeongguk!” Of course, Taehyung’s lean frame could never compare to Jeongguk’s years of strenuous workouts and painful training regime with Namjoon. He was practically a wall. “Let me go, Jeongguk. I mean it.”

“Get back to bed.”

“You’re not my fucking parent, Jeongguk!”

“I’m not, but I am your bodyguard and that means that I have to stop you from doing stupid shit when you’re stupidly drunk.”

Taehyung gritted his teeth. He’s never had a parent, not then, not now. Jeongguk sure as hell wasn’t his dad. “Move.

“Try me.”

“Move!”

“You’re being a brat, Tae." 

“Oh, what a surprise! Not like I wasn’t one before.”

Jeongguk only sighed.

“What is wrong with you? Why are you always trying to meddle in my life?” Taehyung snapped, hands shooting out to shove at Jeongguk. “You’re only my bodyguard. All you have to do is protect me. Nothing else. So, for God’s sake, if I want to forget about my life for all of one second, just fucking let me. If I wanted to disappear for one second, just one, let me live.”

“I’ll let you forget, I’ll let you distract yourself.” Jeongguk stated patiently. He breathed out, hoping his temper wouldn’t fail him. “But I won’t let you destroy yourself, Taehyung. Not for someone who’s not even worth your time.”

That seemed to be the last string that held him together. Taehyung let out a growl, fists beating against Jeongguk’s chest tirelessly. The younger even began to feel the sting of his incessant blows on his skin. His fingers closed in around Taehyung’s smaller wrists, turning the two of them around to pin Taehyung up against the wall and keep him in place. Every time the elder tried to wriggle free, Jeongguk would only press in deeper.

Through gritted teeth, Taehyung grunted. “I don’t need you to fucking save me, Jeon Jeongguk.”

“I’m not trying to save you, Taehyung.” He paused, lips parting as his strength faltered for a millisecond. Seeing Taehyung like this was painful. It cut him deep knowing that Taehyung was suffering this much and yet there was nothing he could do to ease any of it. “I’m just—I’m being a friend.”

However, Taehyung wasn’t having any of it, yanking his arms again. “We’ve never been friends. Not now. Not ever.

“Tae, listen to me.” Jeongguk ducked his head a little, his free hand catching Taehyung’s chin to tip his head up so he could look directly into his eyes. There was nothing but earnestness and sincerity in his gaze, an intensity that had Taehyung weakening in his hold. “Remember that night you were drunk? Remember what you told me?”

He stubbornly pressed his lips into a thin line.

“You told me then that I was the only person you could trust, so here I am, Tae. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. All I’m asking you to do is rely on me a little, lean on me. Trust me.” He gulped, eyes searching Taehyung’s pained ones. “I’ve got your back okay. Not just as your goddamn hired help, but as your friend." 

The elder was silent, before his stare flicked up to meet Jeongguk’s face. “You’ll protect me?” His voice was quiet, none of the bravado Jeongguk had heard before. There was a quiver to his voice that provoked the protectiveness within him.

“With my life.” 

With his words, Taehyung let out a sigh, head falling back against the wall in defeat. Jeongguk slipped his arm around his small waist, helping him back to the bed where he tucked Taehyung in and bid him goodnight. Just as he was about to leave, Taehyung’s thin fingers tugged at his shirt. “G-Guk.” He started, clearing his throat awkwardly.

“Yeah?”

“Stay with me tonight?”

And perhaps agreeing to his request had been Jeongguk’s first mistake of the night. He looked doubtful for a second but Taehyung pulled on his shirt harder, insistent. “Alright.” Taehyung’s smile made his reluctance worth it. The elder scooted over in the king-sized bed, providing enough room for Jeongguk to slide in next to him. Much to his surprise, Taehyung curled up into him, his arm sliding around Jeongguk’s torso as he leaned his head on his shoulder. “Tae, I don’t think this is a good idea.”

“S-Sorry.”

The disappointment in Taehyung’s tone was more than enough of a reason for Jeongguk to pull him closer instead, tucking his head into the crook of his neck. “Never mind, get some sleep. You need rest.”

There was a moment or two of silence in which all Jeongguk could listen to was the soothing sound of Taehyung’s breathing as he watched the slow rise and fall of his chest. Taehyung’s fingers still clutched onto his shirt as Jeongguk’s absentmindedly stroked his hair.

“Guk?”

“Hm?”

“I’m just—” pause. “Can you do me a favor?" 

“You’re demanding tonight, aren’t you?” He chuckled. “What is it?”

“Can you help me forget?”

That questioned rendered him speechless, his body stiffening against Taehyung’s as he attempted to shift into a more comfortable position, if there was even one for that matter. He knew the implication of his request, yet he couldn’t bring himself to say anything except, “What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean, Guk-ah.”

“I can’t do that, Taehyung.”

“Can’t or won’t?”

He sighed, “Both. You’re in no state to be—”

“I’m upset, but it doesn’t mean I can’t make rational decisions. Stop patronizing me.” Taehyung tilted his head up to glare at him. Though, his looks could never be threatening, he looked like a Pomeranian.

“I’m not patronizing you, I’m just saying it’s not a good idea.”

“Why?” He pressed into him, one of his legs thrown over Jeongguk’s to prevent any form of escape.

“I’m your bodyg—” Jeongguk’s words died in a choke when Taehyung began to rub himself against his thigh, letting out a small moan of satisfaction at the tiny bit of pleasure granted. “Tae, Jesus Christ. Stop that." 

“Please,” he whimpered. “i just—I haven’t gotten fucked in so long, Guk-ah.” His voice faltered as he shut his eyes, body still moving against Jeongguk’s own to gain some friction. “Fuck, Guk. Just one night. Just once, listen to me." 

“I should be saying that to you,” Jeongguk muttered.  

“Please.”

Jeongguk had always been one to resist temptations, never once to waver under pressure, but he supposed Taehyung was the only exception. In a blink of an eye, he had Taehyung pinned underneath him, large frame casting a looming shadow over the elder. “Don’t push me, Tae.”

“Or what?”

Ducking his head, he grazed his teeth lightly over the shell of Taehyung’s ear. “I’ll make sure you regret all the times you’ve teased me, baby.”

Taehyung visibly shivered, long fingers twisting into the sheets, as he grinned devilishly up at him. “Bite me.

With that, Jeongguk crashed his lips down on Taehyung, mouth brutal and unforgiving. His teeth nipped and nibbled on Taehyung’s plump ones, earning a delicious groan from Taehyung who jerked his hips up in response. He delved his tongue into Taehyung’s mouth, twisting against the boy’s and savoring the intoxicating bitter aftertaste of alcohol.

Jeongguk didn’t pull away once, not as his hands slipped underneath Taehyung’s shirt, feeling the smooth, silky skin underneath. God, his body was warm, shivering underneath Jeongguk’s cold fingertips. “Fuck, you’re so beautiful.” He muttered into Taehyung’s mouth, pushing the fabric up to reveal the gorgeous caramel skin.

“G-Guk,” he whimpered, hands reaching out to pull Jeongguk down again. “Kiss me again.”

His lips found Taehyung’s again as his hands drew circles onto his skin, moving upwards until he could feel the pert peaks. Taehyung’s mewls fell into his mouth as he pinched the buds, rolling them between his fingers. His hips ground down against Taehyung’s. He could feel their bulges rubbing together, feel himself getting harder and the need to come even stronger. “Fuck, Tae, you feel so good. You look so good underneath me like this.”

“Always knew I’d end up underneath you. I am at your mercy, Jeon Jeongguk.” He giggled, long arms wrapping around Jeongguk’s neck to pull him down for another chaste kiss. 

God, Jeongguk should be saying that to him. He’s never been as weak for a person as he has been for Taehyung. Taehyung with his wild eyes and soft cries. Taehyung with his stubbornness and plump, intoxicating lips. Taehyung with all his resilience and spirit, everything that Jeongguk admired and respected and wished he could have.  

With his legs thrown on either side of the elder, Jeongguk caught the boy’s face in his hands and smiled as he kissed him again. “God, I can’t fucking resist you.”

“I know you can’t,” Taehyung grinned, eyes crinkling around the corners. “Now, come here and put your skills to the test, Jeon Jeongguk.”

It didn’t take them long to fill the room with broken moans and Taehyung’s quiet whines, his pleas for Jeongguk to move faster, to map his hands all over his beautiful skin, from the curve of his elegant collarbones to the softness of his stomach and down between his legs. Jeongguk showed him once—twice—countless times that night how well Jeongguk could work his hands and mouth.

His hand wrapped around Taehyung’s cock, running his palm over the veins that ran along his length like rivers across a desert. His mouth closed around the tip, sucking it in and tasting the bitter precum that leaked onto his tongue. Taehyung draped an arm across his eyes, desperate pants leaving his mouth as he begged Jeongguk to let him come. 

“Louder, baby, I want to hear you, want to hear how good I make you feel.”

Jeongguk tasted Taehyung over and over, savored the sweetness of his mouth and skin, and tucked the delicious sounds that tumbled past his lips into a corner in his brain. He hoped that nobody would ever hear Taehyung like this ever again, never be able to touch him the way he did. 

Ever the gentleman, Jeongguk waited for the lube to warm on his fingers before sliding his digits into Taehyung who moaned in satisfaction. Taehyung had flipped around, burying his face into his bed with his ass up in the air. He pushed them into Taehyung over again, fingertips brushing over his prostate, a gesture that had Taehyung writhing into the bed, his own cock pushing up against the sheets to gain friction. 

“Fuck, Guk,” he choked out, voice muffled by the pillow. Jeongguk took his few seconds of vulnerability to turn him over, pushing Taehyung’s legs up and over his shoulder. As his fingers continued to pump into the boy, his free hand wrapped around Taehyung’s member, his wrists flicking quickly to jerk him off. 

Stutters of Jeongguk’s name echoed in the room as Taehyung felt the smooth slide of Jeongguk’s cock into his tight hole. It really had been quite some time since he’s gotten fucked and fucked properly at that. Jeongguk was more than a blessing to his barren sex life—and maybe tremulous emotional state. With Jeongguk inside of him, Taehyung found his worries evaporating into a thin mist of pleasure that covered him in a sheen layer of sweat. The younger went rough and fast the first time, just how Taehyung liked it.

The second time, Jeongguk peppered kisses all over his skin, worshipped his cock and thighs with bites to remind him that Jeongguk was there to stay.

The third, he couldn’t even remember his name.

And it was followed by the fourth and fifth until the two lost track of time. 

Jeongguk knew that calling this love would be too thoughtless. He didn’t want to rush into labeling his emotions, not when he wasn’t even sure what he was feeling. Taehyung deserved better. Jeongguk was a mess of confusion. On one hand, he felt the sort of caution that came attached to his job, but on the other hand, there was the kind of protectiveness that went beyond his work description, an occupational hazard that Namjoon had once warmed him about and he had laughed at.

Never in his life did Jeongguk expect to care so deeply for a client—for anyone for that matter. Many thought that he was married to his job, sticking close to his goals and his rise to the top. He wouldn’t call Taehyung a game changer, but he certainly became an integral part of his life, much more than he anticipated.

As Taehyung came down from his high (his last of the night, Jeongguk promised despite Taehyung’s complaints for more), Jeongguk whispered kisses onto his forehead as he tucked the elder underneath his blanket. “Get some sleep, Tae."

Taehyung had other plans though, shifting closer to him, palm on his skin as he rolled over to drape himself over Jeongguk. He propped his chin up on Jeongguk’s chest and blinked innocently, eyes still hazy with the remains of his pleasure, “Jimin told you, didn’t he?”

Jeongguk breathed in, biting down on his bottom lip as his gaze found Taehyung’s curious ones. “I asked, I’m sorry.”

He shook his head, smiling softly. “If it’s you, I don’t mind.”

Taehyung’s faith in him was unnerving. While he’s had people put their trust in him, there was always the boundary that kept them on a professional level. But Taehyung acted as if he had placed his fragile heart in Jeongguk’s reckless hands. It was intimidating.

“You trust too easily, you know.”

“I really don’t,” he chuckled. “I just know the right people to trust.”

“Smart,” Jeongguk murmured.

“Since you’ve heard the gist of it from Jiminnie, you know I am.”

“More than that. You’re smarter than what people say,” he brushed Taehyung’s bangs away from his face, giving him the opportunity to appreciate the light flecks of gold in his bright irises.

Taehyung hummed, nuzzling his nose into Jeongguk’s neck. “You look like you have more questions.”

“Just a few.”

“Fire away.”

“I really don’t—”

“I don’t mind, Guk-ah. I kind of want you to know things from my side anyway. Who knows what bullshit Jimin spewed out? He could’ve told you about the time I peed on my college’s mascot statue.”

“You did what?”

“Okay, maybe not that.”

Jeongguk chuckled, leaning back against the headboard with one arm behind his head and the other around Taehyung’s naked body. “Tell me about that. College. How was it?”

“Oh, it was a wild ride. Some of the best years of my life.” Laughter bubbled up his throat. A genuine one that Jeongguk hadn’t realized he had missed. “The drinking was always great, frat parties and all that. My bodyguard was nice enough to nail me some booze when I wasn’t legal yet. Great guy that guy." 

Jeongguk rolled his eyes. 

Taehyung cuddled closer, giggling softly. “But you’re still my favorite, Guk-ah.”

“Mhmm,” he huffed a laugh through his nose. “I bet.” 

“Haven’t had good dick like that in a while, ten out of ten—”

Jeongguk silenced him with a kiss. “You were saying about college?”

Taehyung recounted his adventures and friends from a different time, tales of a young boy who came to discover himself through trials and errors, much to his father’s contempt. Taehyung had picked good friends who showed him the ropes and kept his grades above dangerous waters.

“If you had such a good time, why did you drop out?” Jeongguk pondered aloud, regretting it soon after when he noted Taehyung pursing his lips. “Of course, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. Whatever you’re comfortable with.” He gave a squeeze for extra measure. 

“The workload was getting boring, picking up after lessons was easy for me. My father was also worried about security overseas, didn’t trust people, and especially hated how close my bodyguard and I were getting.” He grunted bitterly. “So he yanked my cute butt back to Korea to make sure he could keep an eye on me and apparently the people I have sex with.”

Jeongguk pressed a kiss onto his forehead to which Taehyung purred delightedly. “How about your childhood? Any good memories?" 

Taehyung’s eyes flashed with surprise. Jeongguk supposed it was a bit strange to ask him about something more personal and wondered if he had crossed the line. However, Taehyung softened and sank into Jeongguk’s touch. “Don’t have a lot honestly, but I remember bargaining with my mom to stay up late.” Jeongguk chuckled. Of course he did. “Asked her if I could stay up late if I finished my workbooks on time, and my mother had laughed me off, agreeing. She didn’t know that I had basically finished off my entire workload for the entire semester so I could stay up to watch Detective Conan.”

A hearty laugh rumbled Jeongguk’s chest, vibrations that Taehyung could hear and feel on his fingertips. “I really shouldn’t be surprised. Sounds like something you’d do.” 

“What about you? You’re tight with your parents, what’s that like?”

The two of them ended up sharing stories from different sides of the pond. Jeongguk listened closely to Taehyung’s words, tightening his hold around the boy whenever his voice cracked. Taehyung seemed to indulge in Jeongguk’s brawls with his brother and fights with his parents. The two of them fell asleep with sleepy questions on the tip of their tongues, with a future of uncertainty between them.

Yet, Jeongguk didn’t mind it in the least.

 

♦︎ ♦︎ ♦︎

 

Taehyung’s visits to his father’s office grew more frequent with the stock market standing unstable for all the big investors. Telling Jeongguk everything was a weight lifted off his shoulders. It also made it all the more easier for Jeongguk to find ways to distract and keep him entertained and happy. Jeongguk still did his job, reporting to Namjoon once a week and keeping a tight leash around Taehyung.

However, it didn’t stop there. Jeongguk took him out to eat, brought him to do things Jeongguk enjoyed (pottery for one, which Taehyung turned out to be excellent at). The worrying over Taehyung’s wellbeing didn’t cease, it never would, but Jeongguk swore on his life to do his best to protect and keep Taehyung happy.

It didn’t mean that everything was finally perfect. There were nights when Taehyung would drink, hurl things across the room at him, and scream, “If I were gone, I’d only be another loss of investment” or “who would care if I disappeared, Jeongguk? Who?” The words were blows to Jeongguk’s heart and pride, but he’d remind him over and over, soothing words slipping past his lips to cease his cries and allow him the peace of sleep.

Fortunately enough, no one caught on to the change in dynamics between them, the secret smiles and glances they shared. Except, well, Namjoon.

Nothing went by unnoticed with his boss, which made it all the more awkward for Jeongguk.

 

(“You know, your reports sound different now. I could’ve sworn I saw a smiley face.”

Choke. “I did not—I mean, I wouldn’t.”

“You guys fucked, didn’t you?”

“Hyung!”

“As long as it’s all good and he’s happy, we’re fine.” As a last note he added, “You know when I made satisfaction guaranteed, this wasn’t the kind of satisfaction I had in mind—Jeongguk? Hey! Did you hang up on me?” )

 

However, he should’ve known that happily ever afters were never meant for people like them—two cracked souls entwined in an unfortunate twist of fate. Jeongguk didn’t see it coming, although he should’ve. But he didn’t.

He supposed it began that night. That one night, as the two of them laid wrapped up in each other in Taehyung’s bed after Jeongguk had gotten the “best dicking of your life” as Taehyung would so eloquently put it, Taehyung turned to Jeongguk, fingers brushing over Jeongguk’s cheek, over the small battle scar that he had earned in a fight against his brother. “I have a question.”

“Hm?”

“Why did you want to be a bodyguard?”

Jeongguk breathed in, eyes flying up to the ceiling. “I don’t know, I’ve always liked the idea of protecting people and keeping them safe. My house was broken into when I was in fifth grade, put us in a bad place. Cops came in to help, I was starstruck.” He chuckled. “I’m pretty stubborn so I stuck with it, wanted to do some good. But being a cop was too straight-laced and then a friend of mine introduced me to Namjoon." 

Taehyung laughed freely when Jeongguk told him how terrible of a troublemaker he was before he got his shit together, his brother’s moving away for university and work being the catalyst for his self improvement.

“How did you stay so focused? I can barely focus on a video game.”

“I had an end goal in mind, it was easier that way.”

The elder stayed quiet for a beat or two, expression giving away his being deep in thought. “If you don’t have a goal, what do you focus on? What do you live for?”

Jeongguk thought about if for a second and shrugged, “I honestly don’t know. I suppose you just have to keep searching until you find one you’re really passionate about. Sounds cliché, I know. But I never had my shit together, nobody really does. It takes time, but once you figure it out, you just don’t let it go.”

His answer was vague, yet Taehyung churned it over in his mind, before seeming pleased by his answer. He nodded understandingly and leaned his head down on Jeongguk’s chest with sleep drawing him in soon after.

And it was then in the early hours of dawn when the moon illuminated the sky and the stars, and the clouds drifted across the endless ocean of darkness outside his window that Namjoon’s words sank in. Being a bodyguard went beyond keeping someone physically safe. He has always lived alone, lived for himself. Taehyung had transitioned from a client to a friend that he would take a bullet for, not for the money, but for him.

It scared him a little, thinking about how much Taehyung meant to him at that moment. Taehyung was a contradiction of vulnerable and tenacious, the sort of dangerous combination that could get himself killed. Jeongguk knew that it was his duty to protect him, but his feelings—all too unfamiliar—that rose to the surface may be overwhelming, blinding.

He could only hope that this flaw wouldn’t cloud his judgment.

 

♦︎ ♦︎ ♦︎

 

Life went on as it should. Taehyung still went for visits from time to time, but days were spent mainly with Jeongguk, exploring Seoul and all it had to offer, but also exploring every dip and curve of each other’s bodies.

There were days Taehyung went a little quiet, days where he worried Jeongguk to no end, but he pinned it down on the nerves towards his father. He’d sometimes walk in to Taehyung arguing on the phone before the elder quickly hung up, tossed his device aside, and begged Jeongguk to distract him.

He supposed he should’ve seen it coming from miles away. His observance had dulled over the weeks Taehyung spent preparing him, buttering him up and sweetening the deal each time with a kiss on his lips.

It was on a Wednesday afternoon that Jimin dropped by. Jeongguk found it a bit strange since he never appeared during the week, usually opting to take Taehyung out over the weekend for drinks. He patted him down as per procedure before letting him in. Taehyung had instantly grinned and pulled him in for a hug, even going as far as smacking a kiss on his cheek, to which Jeongguk scowled at (Taehyung noticed and smirked).

“Jeonggukie, would you mind if I spoke to Tae alone?” Jimin smiled, patting Taehyung’s back. “Just work stuff.”

Jeongguk’s gaze darted over to Taehyung who gave him a reassuring nod. He pursed his lips. He really wasn’t supposed to leave Taehyung alone even if it were with someone as familiar as Jimin. Someone Taehyung trusted.

“How about getting us some food?” Taehyung chirped, clapping his hands together. “I know this great chicken place a little way from here. We’ll be done in no time." 

He hesitated, eyes narrowing at Jimin who was still beaming brightly at him.

“Don’t worry, Gukkie. I’ll be just fine, I promise.” Taehyung had curled up around Jeongguk, eyes twinkling with the soft smile painted on his lips. “We’ll be done talking in no time.”

Taehyung’s words didn’t ease the uncomfortable stir in his gut, but he nodded. “Alright. But stay in here, I’ll be back in ten minutes.”

“Gukkie,” the elder whined. “Stop worrying so much. You’re going to get grey hair.”

“If I do get grey hair, it’ll be because of you. Behave.” He scowled at the two of them, hoping to seem as threatening as possible, before he took his phone and left the penthouse. Downstairs, he turned towards the men on duty (thankfully they were ones that Jeongguk knew didn’t slack off). “Taehyung is not to leave the building and nobody else leaves without getting checked. Understood?” They both gave prompt nods and salutes as Jeongguk left. 

The walk to the restaurant didn’t take long, but what bothered him was the fact that they took forever to prepare a meal for three. He glanced at his phone to find no messages, figuring that the two were probably too busy chatting about business.

Literally Hard Ass [ 4:23 PM ]

 

Just checking in, you doing okay? Need anything?

The reply came in minutes after, pacifying some of his worries.

Kim Taehyung [ 4:26 PM ] 

YEP ^_^ dw, take ur time!! <33

Breathing a sigh of relief, he even shot Jimin a message for safe measure only for the boy to send him a flipping off emoji, telling him to calm down and that Taehyung was in good hands. Taking the food, he rushed back to the apartment, quickly checking in with the security downstairs only for them to say that nobody had left the building. 

He nodded promptly and took the excruciatingly long trip back up to the penthouse. Strangely, his stomach hadn’t stopped rolling since he left the place. His palms felt clammy as he stepped out of the elevator and called out for Taehyung. The echo was eerily unnerving, causing him to pinch his lips as he walked towards the living room to find it empty, towards Taehyung’s room to find no one there. 

His fingers twitched, his heart raced. He quickly punched in Taehyung’s number and pressed his phone to his ear to find ringing only for his call to go unanswered. 

Taehyung knew never to leave without him. Taehyung knew that Jeongguk had put his trust in him to listen to him and to depend on him.

Calling Jimin, he shouldn’t be fucking surprised at that point to hear the automated voicemail yapping in his ear. He backtracked through the apartment again, finding it completely void of any form of life. He called in security downstairs and the parking lot only to receive the same response that no one had left the goddamn building.

He took a deep breath. Calm down, Jeongguk. You don’t know. He’s safe. But Jeongguk knew better. He was trained to think the worst of every situation, to take every preventive measure as precaution. And he knew that was what he was supposed to be doing but his mind was running a mile a minute on all the possible scenarios, each worse than the one before.

Hours and hours he spent that day calling everyone he knew. Namjoon, Taehyung’s parents, Taehyung’s associates from high school and college, everyone who’s even talked to Taehyung once. All this he did while he drove from place to place, bars Taehyung frequented, the office, places that Jeongguk took him to, his childhood home. He tore through Seoul like a demon.

Safe to say, he didn’t sleep a wink that night. His fingers worked on autopilot to call Taehyung over and over, praying by some miracle that he would answer or give him something—anything. He received an earful from Namjoon already, but of course was given even more backup to aid his search for the boy. His parents caught wind of the clusterfuck and gave him even more hell than he gave himself.

It was frustrating, so fucking frustrating, knowing that he had fucked up the one job he had to do. All he had to do was keep Taehyung safe and out of trouble. As much as he wanted to deny it, his mind had blinded him to the fact that Taehyung also wanted freedom, that Taehyung was reckless enough to pull shit like this to gain that. He didn’t want to believe that this was all his doing but the niggling feeling in his gut reminded him that it was entirely possible.  

That this had been Taehyung’s choice.

He sat in his car, finger tapping on the steering wheel as his phone rang the dial tone again. He waited and waited and waited, because that was all he could do.  

Taehyung’s name glowed on his screen, taunting him.

His irritation went beyond the fact that he had fucked up in his job, let his personal business mix into his professional life. It was also the fact that he had trusted Taehyung. He had let Taehyung in.

The crackle from his phone provoked a knee jerk reaction for him to brake, screeching to a stop as he slid his car to the side of the street, earning more than a few honks. “Fuck, shit,” he muttered, shaking fingers scrambling for his phone. “Tae? Jesus, fuck. Tae, are you there?" 

“Hey, Guk.”

God. His eyes slam shut, relishing the sound of Taehyung’s deep voice. It felt like years since he’s heard it. “Jesus, Tae, where are you? I’ll come get you and—”

“No.” Fuck, Jeongguk knew that tone, knew that he was going to be stubborn about this. 

“Tae—” 

“No, I’m serious. Do not come find me. It’ll just be a waste of time.”

“No, I’m fucking serious. Do you know how worried sick we’ve all been? We’ve been looking everywhere for you.”

“And you won’t find me.”

“Tae, for the love of God, please.” His voice was laced with desperation and exhaustion, both emotions were the only ones he’s been consumed with for the past few hours since his adrenaline ran out. “Please, fuck, I’m worried. Everyone’s fucking worried. What’s going on? Just—we’ll talk this out okay. We’ll work this out.”

Taehyung’s voice softened after a heartbeat of silence, “I need to do this for me, Gukkie.”

The nickname. Jesus Christ. Tears welled up in his eyes as he slammed them shut and urged the lump in his throat away. “Tae, please.” He heard his voice crack as he leaned his head onto the steering wheel. “Please.

“I just wanted to give you one last call before I—well, just one last call.”

“Tae, for the love of everything good, don’t talk like that.”

“I’m not attempting anything, don’t worry.” He chuckled. How could he still laugh at a time like this? “I’m just—I’m doing this for me. Trust me when I say that I’ll be fine, I’ll be safe, and I’ll… maybe, I’ll come home.”

Come home now, Tae. Don’t say maybe. Come home. Come home to me.

Jeongguk wanted to beg and plead but he bit his tongue. “And you won’t tell me where you are or where you’re going?”

“Sorry, Guk.”

“You’re not fucking sorry.” He laughed, bitter as he leaned back, glaring at the street in front of him. “If you were sorry then you’d come back." 

“I don’t have much time, Guk—”

“Are you at the airport?”

“Guk—" 

“I’m coming." 

“I’m leaving.”

“Don’t do this, Tae.” He fumbled with the keys, starting up his car, before speeding into the main road and in the direction of Incheon.

“I just wanted to say thank you. For everything. Honestly, you’ve done more for me these past few months than anyone else in my life. Thank you. I’ll see you around, Jeon Jeongguk.”

“Fuck, Tae, don’t—”

And the line went dead and Jeongguk was left to curse heaven and hell as he did his best to race through the empty streets. He shouldn’t have been surprised to get there and get absolutely nothing.

Kim Taehyung was never there. He was never at the airport. No flights. No telltale signs of his having even been there.

Just like that, Taehyung was gone.

 

♦︎ ♦︎ ♦︎

 

Seasons passed and even after months of endless searching and picking up more jobs to distract himself (each client seemed worse than the one before, but none of them had been on Taehyung’s level of hell thankfully), Jeongguk still found his mind drifting towards Taehyung when his thoughts came to invade him in the dead of night.

After Taehyung’s last call and disappearance, Jeongguk had tracked his phone to a privately owned airport which just happened to belong to Park fucking Jimin. Needless to say, Jimin deserved the beating he got and Jeongguk definitely deserved getting cuffed by Jimin’s security team.

“I gave him the necessities,” Jimin had confessed afterwards. “Where he’s going, what he’s doing, none of that is my business. No one knows of his plans except himself.” Then he laughed, leaning down to taunt Jeongguk even more from where he was strapped to the chair after four of his men strangled him down to it. “Hell, I don’t think he even knows what he’s doing.”

“You’re an asshole, you’re putting him at risk.”

His lips twitched as he straightened, flicking dust off his suit. “I just gave him what he wanted and needed, Jeongguk-ah. He can take care of himself. Have a little faith.”

“It was my duty to protect him.”

“He’s an adult. If this is what he wants, then we should respect it, shouldn’t we? Don’t you think he’s had enough of people telling him what to do?” Jeongguk stayed quiet at this. “Let’s just trust him for this, Guk. He deserves this.”

Jeongguk knew that Jimin was right, that Taehyung had suffered through a lifetime of suffocation, and that he deserved this opportunity. But it didn’t mean that he would give up. He exhausted the company’s resources to search for the boy, tracking down and looking into everything and nothing.

Every time he caught wind of a lead, Taehyung seemed to know all his tactics, leading him straight to a dead end with nothing to hold onto except what could’ve been.

He went from the tip of northern Gangwon to the ends of Jeju. He combed through every inch of South Korea, called his connections in the United States, and even some acquaintances in Europe and Asia.

It was difficult—so fucking difficult—to stay encouraged when the chances were bleak. He’s gone through everything, gotten earfuls from Namjoon and everyone he knew telling him that he was wasting his fucking time if Taehyung didn’t want to be found. But what else could he do? Kim Electronics had cut off all ties with him and had given a scathing review of Namjoon’s company.

“Jeongguk-ah, don’t worry about it. Reviews are reviews. What matters is the quality of our services and we can’t have you in this condition.”

Namjoon had drawn the line in his obsession by the third month, dragging him out of his hellhole of a mind and tossed him into a job underneath one of his best men (a dishonor Jeongguk had scoffed at). It kept him on track for a while, gave him something else to focus on aside from Taehyung’s absence.

“I think it’s time to let him go, Jeongguk. It’s been months.” Namjoon sighed. “I’m not saying that there’s no hope—”

“Who are you kidding, hyung?” Jeongguk had snorted, gritting his teeth and running his fingers through his unkempt hair. “There is no fucking hope. I’ve tried everything. I’ve begged, hyung, and I don’t fucking beg.”

Namjoon had pulled him for a hug, clapping a hand on his back. “Then I think it’s time to move on and step up from this, Guk.”

It took everything in him to pull his life together, to surrender all the resources he had going on Taehyung to Namjoon. Jeongguk threw himself into work instead, picking up one job after another, always choosing ones that would go on until late nights to keep his nightmares away.

It took him a couple more months but Jeongguk had accepted it, accepted that Taehyung was gone, accepted that Taehyung didn’t want to be found. He had to live on and just hold onto that last string hope that maybe, just maybe, Taehyung would come back, come home to him.

Maybe Jeongguk had just been another notch in Taehyung’s belt of lays, but Jeongguk thought of Taehyung as so much more. He had to live with the fact that he wouldn’t know, not for a while at least. 

He was picking up after another client, Kim Seokjin, a model who supposedly knew Namjoon well—scratch that, too well considering the shit he was spewing out to Jeongguk in his drunken state: “tell your fucking boss to fucking fuck me again fucking dammit” and Jeongguk thought he had a filthy mouth—when his phone rang, his mom flashing on the screen.

“Hey, mom.”

“Don’t ‘hey, mom’ me, Jeongguk-ah.” His mom grunted, though she sounded more cute than annoyed. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen my lovely son. Why don’t you come visit anymore?”

Because I’ve been trying to get my shit together and maybe my sanity too. “Just been busy, Namjoon-hyung’s piling on the workload.”

“Oh, I’d like to give that man a piece of my mind.”

“Please don’t, I want to keep my job.”

“Come home, Jeongguk-ah. Your brother just left and he’s working full-time and is married.”

Oh God. “Mom, please don’t start with the marriage thing again.” He groaned as he shoved the snoring Seokjin as gracefully as possible into the car. “I told you I’m not doing relationships right now.”

“I’m getting old, Jeongguk, and you’re not getting any younger.”

Mom.”

“Just come visit, will you? We miss you.”

He sighed, “I will. This weekend maybe? I’ll get hyung to give me some time off.”

“Good, and if he says no, give me his number." 

“Mom, I’m an adult.”

“But you’re still my baby, Jeongguk-ah.” She cooed.

Good lord. “Okay, I’m on the job and I really shouldn’t be calling you considering my client is passed out in the backseat.”

“Ooh, who is it this time? Do I know him—" 

“Goodbye, mom." 

He huffed. Parents. He couldn’t help the small smile on his face.

Calling Namjoon about taking the week off had gone unsurprisingly well. “About time you gave yourself a break, go get yourself laid, kid.”

He had scoffed, “I’m visiting my parents.”

Namjoon only laughed, “Then don’t do that, it’ll be scarring for your parents.”

Still, Jeongguk couldn’t leave without having the last word so, right before he left, he tossed out, “Seokjin wanted me to tell you that he misses your dick.” He left with the satisfaction of hearing his boss’ choke.

The ride to Busan always reminded him of the day Taehyung had picked up everything up and arranged everything for him. The memory used to leave a bitter aftertaste in his mouth, but thinking about it then only left him with a warm sort of longing and nostalgia.

His parents had greeted him with plenty of kisses to last him a lifetime but also a shit ton of chores for him to do since he was officially the Labor Man of the family, which included raking the leaves outside (he was this close to cutting all the trees, environment be damned) and getting bossed around to do laundry and clean the house.

Maybe this was why he rarely went home.

“Jeongguk-ah, we’re running out of beef and kimchi.” His mom called from the kitchen to him who was lounging lazily on the couch with his mom’s homemade Galbitang. “Can you run out to the market?" 

He glanced out the window to find the rain splattering against his windows, a ridiculous downpour expected of spring. “It’s raining.”

No response.

Goddammit. Parents everywhere were the same. “I’m on it.” Grabbing his coat and umbrella, he trudged through the mess outside. The market was a bit of a walk away and the old lady who ran the specific shop his family always went to spent more time fawning over him and attempting to match him with her son and daughter (yes, both of them), so it took him an hour to get everything together and bid farewell to the grandma as politely as possible (“no thank you, halmeoni, I’m not looking into dating anyone right now” “oh but you’re so old, Guk-ah” thank you for the reminder). 

The groceries managed to stay dry as he arrived back home. He cracked his neck and shook off the cold as he stepped into the warm house. “Mom! Dad! I’m back.” He heard them laughing. He rolled his eyes, smiling as he dropped off the groceries in the kitchen before heading in their direction. “I can’t believe you sent me out in the pouring—” 

Everything else he had to say died in his throat when he saw the appearance of a third person in the room. Their back faced him, but he could recognize that body anywhere. He spent weeks exploring every inch of him, he was all too familiar. Not to mention, his laugh. God, his laugh that had Jeongguk’s skin prickling, his hairs rising. He knew that sound too well.

His mom’s voice could barely rise above the sound of his heartbeat thundering in his ears. “Jeongguk-ah, come in! You should’ve told us your friend was coming over. We would’ve prepared something.”

And it was then that Taehyung turned around, his golden skin and his beautiful face in full view to Jeongguk. He looked exactly the same, yet at the same time completely different. The same features, the same eyes, the same nose, the same lips and mouth and collarbones. His eyes sparkled when they landed on Jeongguk, his laugh bouncing off the walls and straight into Jeongguk, taking his breath away. “It’s totally fine, I was actually planning on surprising him.” Then he turned to Jeongguk, a soft smile on his lips, the familiar mischievous glint dancing in his eyes. “Hi, Gukkie, how’ve you been?”

I’m going crazy. I’m actually going crazy. Note to self: Make an appointment with Dr. Min again.

“Uh, can we talk in my room?”

“Yeah, sure.” Taehyung beamed as if this didn’t feel like the second coming. He bowed politely, saying something along the lines of a “thanks for the tea, Mrs. Jeon” before following Jeongguk down the hall and into his room.  

The elder quickly made himself at home and settled on the bed, swinging his legs over the edge and grinning at Jeongguk as he rambled on about how Busan was ridiculously cold in the spring, that the temperature should be much lower and that flowers should be blooming outside. “Oh God, you should’ve been there, Gukkie. The weather was so warm where I was. The sun was shining, the sky was so blue you could taste it. The guys were pretty hot, but none could compare to you obviously.”

Jeongguk remained silent.

Taehyung pouted, skipping over to Jeongguk and hugging his arm. “Guk-ah, stop ignoring me. You know I need my daily dose of Jeongguk attention.”

That was when he snapped, yanking his arm away from Taehyung and scowling. “Didn’t seem to need it when you upped and left without as much as a goodbye.”

He sighed, bottom lip still sticking out adorably. “You know I couldn’t.”

Jeongguk breathed through his nose, keeping his emotions in check. Don’t be weak, Jeon. Not to him. “I’m going out.”

“It’s raining!”

“And I expect you,” he jabbed his finger on Taehyung’s chest. “To be gone and a fucking dream when I come back. Then I’m going to take my parents to meet a therapist because apparently they can see you too.”

Taehyung grabbed his arm, lips quivering, the first sign of insecurity Jeongguk has seen on him. “Guk, I’m really here. This isn’t a dream.”

“God, I really must be going insane. Holy shit.”

“I’m back, Guk. I haven’t told my parents yet, I thought I should come in to see you first.”

“How do you even know that I was going to be home in the first place? I’ve been in Seoul for months.” The elder gave him a look. “Right, I forgot genius and all. You probably hacked into Namjoon’s system or my phone.” Taehyung didn’t deny. Jesus Christ. “What do you want?" 

Once Taehyung made sure that Jeongguk wasn’t plotting another escape, he released his arm, stepping back a little to give him space. “I wanted to apologize first. I know I put you in an awkward position” —Jeongguk laughed, Taehyung winced— “by taking off like that. I’m sorry. It was selfish but I needed to do it for me and I know you probably hate me, which is understandable.”

“That’s an understatement,” Jeongguk muttered bitterly under his breath.

Taehyung worried his bottom lip, eyes staring at Jeongguk with a sincerity that he couldn’t avoid. “But I wanted to ask you for your forgiveness first.” He stayed quiet at this, gaze glued on the floor. “But I mainly came back to say thank you. Thank you for letting me lean on you, for reminding me that I’m as human as everybody else, for making me understand that I was worth more than what everyone told me I was.”

Jeongguk wasn’t a crybaby in the least. Yes, he got upset and angry, but he didn’t cry. So, he was more than surprised to find the salty taste of his tears on his tongue. Fuck. Slamming his eyes shut, he prayed that this nightmare would fade away. He’s had too many dreams, too many sleepless nights, thinking that Taehyung was back home with him, back in his arms. He didn’t need this. This felt too real. This felt as if Taehyung really was back.

Taehyung’s shoes blurred in his vision as the elder cupped his cheeks and forced him to look up to him. “Thank you,” he whispered again. “For everything. I owe everything to you.”

“You fucking moron,” he snapped and Taehyung could only giggle, cooing at how Jeongguk was actually crying. Jeongguk could only muster up enough energy to pull Taehyung in for a hug and holy fuck it felt like home again and he’s missed Taehyung so fucking much. “I can’t believe you goddamn disappeared on me for an entire year. Do you know how many years I’ve aged looking for you?” 

Taehyung laughed, his thin arms wrapping around Jeongguk. “I’m sorry.” He didn’t even sound sorry. “But I’m back now and I feel like I’m more prepared, more mature. I’ve reached enlightenment and all that.”

Jeongguk scowled, huffing and flicking his forehead. “Idiot. You make it sound like you went to heaven and met God."

“Maybe I did,” then he winked. “But then again, the closest to God I’ve ever gotten is you.”

God, a fucking comic. Jeongguk choked a laugh and grunted, unable to suppress the grin slowly stretching across his face. “Fuck you, you don’t get to say cheesy things like that to butter me up.” 

Taehyung only offered his signature grin, rectangular, bright, turning his eyes into crescent moons. “But you love me anyway.”

Yeah, yeah, he did. He’s come to terms with that. Jeongguk sighed, softening and pressing a kiss onto Taehyung’s forehead. “Unfortunately.” 

The elder melted into his touch, smiling from ear to ear. “So you’ll keep going right, you’re still going to protect me?”

“With my life.”