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this is how it starts (is this how it ends?)

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This is how it starts.

For a suffering pre-law major, Kim Taehyung finds himself at parties thrown by dance majors suspiciously often. It isn’t all that suspicious once the name of his roommate comes up; Park Jimin is not only a gifted dance major, but also the kind of person that other people are drawn to, even though he doesn’t realize it himself. That’s why where there’s a party there’s always Park Jimin, and where Park Jimin goes, Kim Taehyung follows close behind.

Taehyung doesn’t remember the name of the host or even his face, just that he’s Jimin’s senior by two years and that according to Hoseok, another dance major, he has been trying to get into Jimin’s pants since week one. Taehyung doesn’t know anything about that, but he does know a thing or two about the slight downturn of Hoseok’s lips when he talks about this suitor of Jimin’s, as well as the way his gaze rakes over Jimin’s body when the latter one isn’t looking.

“I thought Yoongi was coming tonight,” Jimin says, scanning the crowd around them in search of said friend of Hoseok’s. Taehyung has never met this Yoongi who is neither a dance major nor a party person, but he knows that he’s two years older than Taehyung and Jimin and that his major isn’t quite music but something sort of related.

“He is. He’s just running late, I think,” Hoseok says. “Probably holed himself up in the studio again, but he’ll be here. He said he would.”

“Are you sure he didn’t just say that to get you out of his hair?” Jimin asks, laughing. “Because to me that sounds exactly like the sort of thing that Min Yoongi would do.”

Hoseok shakes his head firmly, hopping a little to see past the crowded living room floor. “I know he loves his studio more than he’ll ever love me, or anyone else for that matter, but he doesn’t go back on his word, that’s for sure. He can be an asshole sometimes but at least he’s a damn dependable asshole.”

Taehyung is about to ask what it is that makes Min Yoongi any sort of an asshole at all when Jimin perks up, a hand shooting up to wave at someone. “Looks like you were right,” Jimin says. Hoseok lights up and waves with both of his arms, yelling Yoongi’s name to make sure he has his attention, as well as everyone else’s in the very packed living room.

When Taehyung turns around to see the infamous Min Yoongi he’s heard this and that about, he almost snorts his drink up his nose. No one told him that Hoseok’s friend is, well, hot as hell, with his blond, tousled hair and blue, skintight jeans.

“Jimin thought you were going to stand me up,” Hoseok says, throwing an arm around Yoongi’s shoulders.

“Jimin wasn’t wrong. I was going to stand you up.”

Even his voice is attractive, all low and deep and a little raspy, just plain tempting. Taehyung swallows, hoping the sound isn’t as loud as it feels to him.

“Lies, sweetie,” Hoseok coos, petting Yoongi’s cheek. Yoongi swats his hand off with a suffering groan and a roll of his eyes.

Then that thing happens, that thing where Yoongi’s attention shifts and his eyes, partially hidden behind his shaggy fringe, meet Taehyung’s, and Taehyung swears to all the stars above that time slows down, even if just a little. Taehyung’s blood turns hot, and he prays it’s just alcohol that’s making his cheeks feel so flushed because otherwise this is all sorts of embarrassing. Yoongi’s face is a mix of soft and sharp, his eyes triangular and his lips a piece of art, with a cupid’s bow that was surely crafted to inspire poetry, and god, Taehyung needs to get a grip.

“Hey, I’m Taehyung, Jimin’s roommate,” he says, schooling his facial muscles into a friendly smile.

“Yoongi. Hoseok’s friend.”

Maybe it’s just wishful thinking (it probably is), but when Yoongi quirks his lips, Taehyung catches himself thinking this might turn into something. At least he can hope.

 

 

When Jimin and Hoseok get swallowed up by the dancing crowd, Taehyung and Yoongi find themselves a comfy spot in the corner of the large living room, sitting on the floor close enough to each other for their arms to brush. Two drinks in, Taehyung shows Yoongi the elephant he can make by pinching the skin between twin moles on his arm.

“How did you even come up with this?” Yoongi asks, amazed. “I mean, who even thinks of something like this? Who looks at their moles and goes like ‘hey, if I pinch a little here, this’ll look exactly like an elephant’?” He sounds genuinely fascinated, which Taehyung finds flattering but also a little strange because while he’s shown this trick to a large number of people (it’s one of his many party tricks, and a personal favorite), he’s never gotten a reaction quite like this.

“How drunk are you?” Taehyung asks, three parts amused and two parts suspicious. “Don’t get me wrong, I think my elephant is the most awesome thing ever, but you’re like, the first person to actually agree with me.”

“I’m not drunk. I’m a heavyweight,” Yoongi says, scrunching up his nose at the accusation. Taehyung’s gut feeling tells him that’s a lie but he chooses not to call Yoongi’s bluff. “I just think it’s amazing, you know? Your brain’s amazing, for coming up with shit like this. And elephants of any kind are awesome by definition.”

Three drinks in, they’ve discovered that music is their common ground and now it’s all they talk about, throwing out names of obscure indie acts and getting excited whenever they discover an artist they both like. Yoongi is a third year audio engineering major, juggling an impressive and slightly intimidating collection of music-related minors on the side, and when he talks about music, he shines.

Four drinks in, their arms aren’t just brushing anymore. They are pressed together, bodies leaning into each other as they laugh over something that Taehyung can’t even remember. He’s caught up in the way Yoongi laughs when he’s drunk and sleepy, the sound of it warm and raspy, making the hairs at the back of Taehyung’s neck stand.  

“They’re having a gig next weekend,” Yoongi says. Taehyung has to take a second to conclude that ‘they’ in this context must refer to the band they were just talking about. “Want to go see it with me?” Taehyung doesn’t need to be asked twice, and Yoongi bites back a smile.

Some time later, Taehyung is no longer sure how many drinks they’ve had – more than five but (hopefully) less than ten. All he knows is that he’s got Yoongi’s head on his shoulder, Yoongi’s breath on his collarbones and his arm around Yoongi’s shoulders. His body is heavy and boneless from alcohol, and he thinks this is the best party he’s ever been to, even though he’s spent about eighty percent of it in a dimly lit corner and talked to exactly five people – Jimin, Hoseok, that girl who tripped over his legs earlier, that one tall friend of Yoongi’s who came to chat with them for a bit, and Yoongi. Yoongi, Yoongi, Yoongi. Yoongi who’s soft and smells nice and laughs at Taehyung’s stupid jokes and finds Taehyung’s elephant amazing.

“Can’t believe Hoseok kept you to himself all this time,” Yoongi mutters. “I like you already and I’ve only known you for… six drinks? Or seven?”

“Probably seven, if not eight,” Taehyung contemplates. Yoongi cranes his neck to look up at Taehyung with a serious expression, lips slightly pursed as he gives a solemn nod.

“Probably eight,” he agrees. “Point still stands. I like you.”

Liquid encouragement in his blood, Taehyung tightens his hold of Yoongi just a little, pulls him just a bit closer simply because he’s somewhat addicted to how their bodies fit together. He meets no resistance to speak of – on the contrary, Yoongi folds himself into Taehyung’s side, even slings his legs over Taehyung’s thighs. A soft, content sigh reaches Taehyung’s ears, but he’s not sure if it came from himself or Yoongi.

They don’t drink after that because Yoongi falls asleep on Taehyung’s lap – confirming that he did in fact lie about being a heavyweight – and Taehyung’s already drunk enough as it is, both on cheap alcohol and Min Yoongi.

And that is how it starts.

 

 

pause; fast-forward

 

 

It ends like Yoongi never thought it would: in raised voices and bitter tears eight years down the road.

The door slams shut, the sound sucking away the last bit of strength left in Yoongi. His knees give out and he slumps down on the couch, only the echo of the argument ringing inside his head.

After that, a silence falls. Silence isn’t a stranger to this apartment — it has crept in and become a permanent presence over the past months — but this is a new type of silence. This silence isn’t tired and numb, but intense and crushing, out to suffocate, and it has Yoongi choking on air. His chest is too tight and small a cage for a heart that’s doing its damnedest to break out, its beat so strong and frantic that Yoongi can feel it all the way to his fingertips. His blood pulses hot and cold at the same time and his hands shake, and Yoongi feels sick.

Thoughts come to him from a distant place, traveling slowly through thick fog. If he ran now, Yoongi might still be able to catch Taehyung before he makes it to the car, but his body is granite. It feels like those fever nightmares he used to have as a child, the ones where he’s stuck in quicksand as large boulders barrel down the hill for him. He can’t move or even think properly, and for a moment, he manages to make himself believe that this really is a nightmare because that seems like the most logical explanation.

If he tries to be rational about this and break everything around him into logical, bite-sized pieces, this situation doesn’t make any sense at all. It doesn’t make sense that Taehyung just told Yoongi he wanted to break up and walked out on him because Taehyung wouldn’t even give him a reason. Besides, breaking up after eight years sounds completely impossible even on a practical level. They live together, they own everything together, they even have a dog together. They can’t break up, they just can’t. They really can’t, it’s impossible, and therefore all of this can only be the worst fever nightmare Yoongi has ever had.

But Yoongi knows that one can’t feel nausea in a dream, not even in a nightmare, or a heartbeat so rabid that it feels like a series of strong punches to his ribs. In a dream, one shouldn’t be able to feel anything at all, yet right now all Yoongi can do is feel.

This isn’t a dream. Taehyung is gone and it isn’t a dream.

Soonshim whimpers as she nudges his legs and puts her head on his knee, looking concerned. The dog then trots to the door, whining some more before hurrying to check the bedroom and the kitchen just in case Taehyung might be hiding somewhere. When she returns to the living room, she jumps on the couch and forces her way into Yoongi’s lap without caring if she’s too big to pass for a lapdog. Yoongi wraps his arms around her, presses his face into her white fur and tries to force himself to calm down.

Her weight on his chest feels like a piece of the home Yoongi thinks he’s just about to lose, or maybe already lost.

 

 

pause; rewind

 

 

“So, you and Min Yoongi, huh?”

Taehyung looks up from the pizza he and Jimin ordered for hangover breakfast. His brain is still running slow and he hasn’t been awake long enough to have pieced together everything that happened last night. Based on what he does remember without having to torture his poor, hungover brain cells and risk a migraine attack, he doesn’t think he deserves that smug look Jimin is giving him.

“Me and Min Yoongi what?”

Jimin props his elbows on the table, resting his chin on his hands. “Don’t act like you guys weren’t glued together the whole night,” he singsongs. Oh, that. Taehyung definitely remembers that, and the memory is pleasant enough to make him smile. Jimin doesn’t miss that, judging by the way his face slowly morphs into a wide grin. “Aw, Taetae, you blush so pretty.”

Pretty sure he isn’t actually blushing because it isn’t that easy to fluster him, Taehyung shrugs and takes a bite of the pizza. He takes his sweet time chewing and pretends that he doesn’t notice how Jimin keeps staring at him, eagerly waiting for his best friend to spill the beans and all dirty details like he usually would.

“What do you want me to say?” Taehyung asks when he’s swallowed his mouth empty. “You and Hoseok  deserted us so we bonded over that. Speaking of you and Hoseok, though…”

“That bonding,” Jimin hurries to cut him off, “looked an awful lot like cuddling, that’s all I’m saying. Yoongi literally fell asleep in your lap, and Hoseok and I had to use physical strength to peel him off of you.”

That is one of the more blurrier parts of the night. Taehyung does recall Yoongi mumbling in his sleep against his shoulder, but that’s where the film ends for him. He isn’t entirely sure how he made it home, but he’s pretty sure he has Jimin to thank for that. “If it looked like cuddling, it probably was cuddling. You know I’m all about cuddling, especially when I’m drunk,” Taehyung says matter-of-factly. He always ends up cuddling with someone once he has a certain amount of alcohol in his system.

Jimin sighs heavily, his expression entirely unimpressed. “Cuddling isn’t the point here. Cuddling with Min Yoongi is,” he says. “Come on, Taetae, give me something at least.”

When Jimin gets up to refill his glass, Taehyung’s phone buzzes against the table. Taehyung smiles to himself when he sees a text from a certain someone saved as ’Mini Yogi’ — damn autocorrect.

“Do you want a full customer review?” he asks when Jimin returns to the table with a glass full of orange juice, and clears his throat. “Min Yoongi is very soft and kind of small, which makes him very snuggly. He also smells super good and has the most attractive voice in the history of the human race. He also has a fantastic taste in music and knows a lot about it too, so conversations with him are just as satisfying as the cuddling. Overall I would give the experience ten points out of ten.”

As soon as Taehyung’s done, there’s a Park Jimin ruffling his hair, cooing and giggling, and though he tries to scowl, Taehyung can’t help grinning back. “That’s my boy,” Jimin says as he pats Taehyung on both cheeks.

“Now that that’s been dealt with it’s your turn,” Taehyung says. Jimin instantly backs down and slinks to his own seat, suddenly very interested in the pizza toppings. “Funny how my snuggling is the hot topic of the morning when you’re the one who sucked face with Hoseok. Don’t even try to deny it. I saw you guys, and so did Yoongi.”

Jimin flushes beet red in less than a blink. “That was purely platonic,” he exclaims in indignation. Taehyung raises his brows to give Jimin his best ‘cut your bullshit’ look. “Come on, Taetae, we were both drunk and having some fun. It was no big deal, just, you know, friends messing around. You know how it is.”

“Chimchim, my sweet dumpling, please define ‘platonic face sucking’ because I have no idea what that is,” Taehyung says. “If it’s too hard to explain it in words, you can always demonstrate.” Jimin hisses and tosses a napkin at Taehyung’s cheeky grin and wiggly eyebrows.

Taehyung saw the way Hoseok had Jimin propped up against a wall and the way Jimin had his legs hooked around Hoseok’s waist, and there wasn’t a single drop of ‘platonic’ about it. The only thing more surprising than the two spending the night in their own beds is the fact that Jimin’s still blind enough to insist that this is all just two friends fooling around because he doesn’t think Hoseok sees him ’like that’. Taehyung is quite positive that everyone knows Hoseok sees Jimin exactly like that – everyone except Jimin.

“Let’s make a deal,” Taehyung says. “If I score a date with Yoongi, you’re going to ask Hoseok out. Call?”

Jimin hesitates for a while – a long while – before finally nodding, agreeing more for the sake of Taehyung’s date than his own. It’s a cheap trick and Taehyung knows it, but it’s okay if it’s done in the name of love. “Call,” Jimin says and holds out his pinky, hooking it around Taehyung’s to seal the deal.

Taehyung smirks as he slides his phone over to Jimin’s side of the table.

“Get on it, Chimchim,” he singsongs and gets up, landing a big smooch on Jimin’s cheek before waltzing out of the room.

 

[12:22PM] Mini Yogi:
hey, it’s me, yoongi. hope you remember me?

[12:22PM] Mini Yogi:
anyway i just wanted to say that it wasn’t just the vodka that wanted to see that gig with you so the invitation still stands

[12:23PM] Mini Yogi:
i mean if you’re still interested ofc

[12:23PM] Mini Yogi:
so how about it?

[12:26PM] Taetae:
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm~~

[12:26PM] Taetae:
is it a date?

[12:28PM] Mini Yogi:
maybe?

[12:28PM] Taetae:
make that a definite yes and we have a deal? :3

[12:29PM] Mini Yogi:
then it’s a definite yes

[12:30PM] Taetae:
then it’s a deal!!!

 

 

 

pause; fast-forward

 

 

 

[10:21PM] Yoongi:
are you at jimin’s? did you get there ok?

[10:58PM] (ICE#1) Tae:
yeah. i’m at jimin’s and i’m ok

[10:59PM] (ICE#1) Tae:
are you ok?

[11:09PM] Yoongi:
yeah. i’m ok

 

How much time has passed, Yoongi isn’t sure, but he’s still lying on the couch, still staring up at the ceiling, still trying to hold himself together.

The world is still spinning too, although not as fast as Yoongi’s mind. There are thousands of thoughts, all in disagreement with one another, each of them loud and confusing, and slippery, impossible to grasp. He’s at Jimin’s. You should go get him home, one voice in Yoongi’s head tells him, certain that if Yoongi just talks to Taehyung, everything will be alright again. No, you should leave him alone since that’s what he wants, that’s why he left, says another voice, pointing out that Taehyung hasn’t been happy for a long time now and that he’d have stayed if he wanted to talk about it. Maybe this is just temporary, a third, hopeful voice suggests, because all couples fight, even the ones who have been together for eight years and never once walked out on each other like this. It’s over. He’s had enough and you’re never getting him back, a fourth voice scoffs bitterly, because it’s been keeping a list of every single one of Yoongi’s mistakes all these years, and that list is more than long enough to prove that Taehyung probably did the smart thing. Congratulations, it took a surprisingly long time but now you’ve finally done it, a fifth voice sneers, cold, biting and unforgiving.

It must already be long past midnight, but it doesn’t really matter since Yoongi doubts he’ll be able to sleep at all. Soonshim is restless as well, alternating between watching the door and watching Yoongi, pacing back and forth and whining as she goes, quiet but rueful. Even the smallest sound in the staircase has her ears shooting up and fluffy tail wagging with tentative hope that always dies when she realizes that the footsteps don’t match, that it isn’t Taehyung making his way back home.

“Hey, Shim, come here,” Yoongi calls out to the dog who’s now sitting at the living room doorway, eyes fixed on the door at the end of the hallway. At the sound of her nickname, she turns to look at Yoongi and walks over, hopping on the couch when Yoongi pats on the empty space. Soonshim settles half on top of his chest, head on his shoulder, and Yoongi wraps his arms around her, desperate for some comfort.

The silence of the apartment is like a physical, tangible thing, and it comes with an air of finality that makes Yoongi anxious and afraid as he listens to the tiniest sounds with Soonshim, hoping for a miracle he’s not sure he deserves or even believes in.

The thing about Kim Taehyung is that his entire life philosophy can be summarized into one word: hope. He has an uncanny ability to detect every silver lining and always see the brighter side of things first, and he’s damn stubborn about chasing after those flickers of hope too. Yoongi, the textbook example of a pessimist with a penchant for nihilism, didn’t get it at first, he couldn’t understand how a person like Taehyung could exist, let alone function as an adult. Now that never-ending optimism is one of the biggest reasons why Kim Taehyung is, without a single cloud of doubt, the best thing that’s ever happened to Yoongi, and why he’s made Yoongi’s life infinitely better over the years they’ve been together. Taehyung believes enough for them both, even when Yoongi is in over his head and running dangerously low on faith. Taehyung does not give up, as long as there’s even just the tiniest smidgen of hope left for him to latch onto.

”I can’t do this anymore,” Taehyung yelled earlier, tears streaming down his cheeks although Kim Taehyung loathes crying and is an expert at holding back his tears. His words left a stunned, shocked silence in their wake, as if even Taehyung himself hadn’t known just how tired and broken he was until the truth made itself heard, loud and clear. For a long, terrible moment Taehyung simply stood in the middle of the room, lips parted in shock as he kept staring at Yoongi who couldn’t move or say a word because the horrid truth had turned him into stone. ”I really can’t do this anymore,” Taehyung whispered after what felt like an eternity, his thin voice shattering with the harsh sob he couldn’t swallow.

It was then that Yoongi knew that after eight years, he had discovered the one thing about Kim Taehyung he never wanted to learn: his ultimate breaking point.

Yoongi doesn’t realize he’s crying until he feels a cold nose press against his cheek, and Soonshim scampering even closer, large eyes alarmed. For some reason that just makes the tears burn that much more.

 

 

pause; rewind

 

 

The gig is great, but Taehyung thinks that the second part of the date might be even better. They go to a small noodle place just off the campus, and although the food is good, it gets a little cold before either one of them remembers to eat it, both of them too immersed in their conversation. Although Taehyung loves a good gig, it’s much easier to talk in a quiet restaurant that it is in a loud live club, and Taehyung just happens to like talking to Yoongi and laughing over the smallest things with him a whole lot.

“And that’s how I almost became a world-famous saxophonist,” Taehyung says. It truly was a long story, but since there’s a lingering smile on Yoongi’s lips and an amused glimmer in his eyes, Taehyung figures that Yoongi doesn’t mind his rambling all that much.

And even if he did mind, he’d only have himself to blame because it’s Yoongi’s fault Taehyung’s initially pretty short story about his very short career as a saxophonist turned out so long. It was Yoongi who kept egging Taehyung on, asking questions and indulging him with genuine interest, so he’s going to have to take at least half of the blame there.

Almost became a world famous saxophonist, huh?” Yoongi repeats, and yeah, Taehyung really likes that look on him, that expression that’s sort of a smile and sort of a smirk.

“Yeah. It was really close. I could almost taste success,” Taehyung says seriously, wanting to milk that smirkish smile for all its worth.

“If only you hadn’t quit playing when you were ten,” Yoongi sighs, shaking his head for the dramatics. “Success was right within the grasp of your palm, but then…”

“But then the universe decided it had other plans for me, so now I’m just going to have to become a world-famous something-else instead,” Taehyung finishes the sentence when Yoongi leaves it hanging. Yoongi nods, trying to keep his face straight even though the corners of his eyes are crinkling. “Seriously though, the universe missed out. My interpretation of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was so soulful it could make a grown man cry.”

When Yoongi laughs, Taehyung wants to record the sound and set it as his alarm sound, because damn if it wouldn’t be awesome to wake up to that. That, however, is a very creepy and inappropriate thought to have, especially about someone he’s known for less than a week, so Taehyung drops it promptly.

He could, however, be convinced to pick it back up at some later point, when it isn’t quite as creepy anymore.

 

 

pause; fast-forward

 

 

In recent years one of Yoongi’s preferred stress-relieving methods has been organizing his and Taehyung’s massive CD collection. It’s something he usually does when he feels out of control, when the world is turning too fast for him to hold on, or his own thoughts and feelings get too much to handle. Tonight, two days after Taehyung walked out, somehow falls into both categories.

The shadows on his mind are always longest at night, which is why he so often ends up sitting on the living room floor at some time between midnight and dawn, surrounded by stacks after stacks of albums. When Taehyung was sleeping in the room next door, Yoongi would always make sure to keep quiet, careful not to step on anything or knock down the towers he was building, or even let the plastic cases clatter against one another. Still, nine times out of ten, Taehyung would end up padding out of their bedroom with a blanket wrapped tight around himself, sleepy eyes full of concern that he’d do his best to tone down. What happened after that depended entirely on what type of a night it was.

On some nights, Taehyung would simply grab a book and read it on the couch without a word, waiting for Yoongi to be done so they could go back to bed together. He knew that on those nights Yoongi didn’t want to talk so he offered him quiet support instead, maybe knowing that just his presence alone made it that much easier for Yoongi to think clearly. On other nights Taehyung would sit next to Yoongi on the floor and help him with the albums, especially eager if Yoongi had decided to organize them by color because Taehyung loved the way the rainbow of music looked on their shelves. It was easy for Yoongi to forget about his worries when Taehyung kept engaging him in light conversations and debates (”Don’t you think this is more purple than that one?”), and those were often the nights that ended in kisses and cuddles, setting the tone for the following day.

There were also nights when he’d gently take Yoongi by the hands to stop him and pull him into a hug, holding him tight against his chest and muttering words of comfort and unconditional support when the tears would finally start coming down. And once the tears had stopped, nights like that often ended with the two of them skin to skin, Taehyung thrusting into Yoongi slow and deep until Yoongi came undone in his arms, all pieces aligning so that he could feel like himself again, full of something other than stress and uncertainty.

Taehyung seemed to have a sixth sense for Yoongi’s mood. No matter how Yoongi tried to hide it, Taehyung would always notice when rain clouds started to form above his head. What always baffled Yoongi was how Taehyung seemed to know just how to handle him and all of his moods, even at his worst. He knew what Yoongi needed even when Yoongi himself didn’t and he’d readily offer it, whether it was time alone, a listening ear, cuddles and sweet words, vanilla sex or a rough fuck. He always knew and he was always there, unconditionally, no questions asked unless questions were what Yoongi needed.

But now there’s no Taehyung. There’s just Yoongi and dozens, maybe hundreds of albums that he can’t decide how he wants to organize. They were in color order before but now Yoongi needs something that won’t scream Taehyung so loudly, so he’s going back and forth between a chronological order and an alphabetical one. His own indecisiveness is driving him crazy because he’s only got so many hours before he has to start getting ready for work, and if he wants to be done with this project of his by then, he needs to decide how to go about it just about right now. There isn’t much time but there are so many albums to organize — how did they even end up with this many? No one even buys albums these days.

Then a thought hits Yoongi out of nowhere, making him freeze. If he and Taehyung really do break up, what are they going to do with all these albums? He scans the closest stack with his gaze, distressed when he realizes he can’t remember who some of them originally belonged to, or who bought them.

He grabs a handful and starts to sort the CDs into three piles: the first one is for Taehyung’s albums, the second one for his own, and the third one for those that Yoongi isn’t sure about. Brown Eyed Soul’s The Wind, The Sea, The Rain is Taehyung’s, Dynamic Duo’s Lucky Numbers is Yoongi’s. Anything Michael Bublé is Taehyung’s (and Yoongi, no matter how heartbroken, refuses any association with it), and anything Kanye is Yoongi’s. It’s easy enough for about ten album so Yoongi relaxes a little, thinking that this might actually be something he can do.

But then he gets to Drake’s Views and comes to a screeching halt. He has no fucking idea whose it is. It could be his but it could be Taehyung’s just as well, or it could be one of those things they bought together. Yoongi doesn’t know which pile it belongs to, can’t even make an educated guess.

This was a bad idea, Yoongi decides, feeling his throat start to close up. A really shitty fucking idea indeed.

Not letting his throat close all the way, he puts Views out of his sight and combines his and Taehyung’s stacks. Sucking in a deep breath, he starts over, deciding to go for the alphabetical order instead.

 

 

pause; rewind

 

 

“So,” Taehyung singsongs while still keeping his voice just low enough not to disturb any fellow library users, “did you ask Hoseok out yet?”

Jimin lets out a heavy, suffering sigh and throws an exasperated look over his shoulder before going back to examining the contents of the bookshelf in front of him. ”No, Taetae, I didn’t.”

”Hey, we had a deal,” Taehyung points out, a little whiny and plenty pouty. ”You aren’t holding up your end of it.”

”Don’t you think that deal’s null and void, you cheater?” Jimin counters, standing on his tippy toes to reach a book on the top shelf. He’s still lacking a centimeter or two. Taehyung watches the struggle for approximately two seconds before stepping in. Jimin huffs a thank you and removes the book from the list on his phone.

”I don’t get why you’re being this frustrating. You want to ask Hobi out and I’ve given you the perfect excuse to do that, so why aren’t you just going for it?” Taehyung whines. ”Chim, good things don’t just happen, you’ve got to make them happen! And when they do happen, you need to grab them before they unhappen.”

”It isn’t that simple,” Jimin mutters.

”Um, yeah, it really is if you just stop being so…”

Taehyung trails off when his phone beeps in his pocket and effectively steals 99.5 per cent of his attention, making him forget what he was saying. Jimin turns to smirk at him, all smug and knowing, and maybe happy now that he’s been let off the hook – for now.

Unfortunately when Taehyung unlocks the phone, what he sees is not a text from Min Yoongi, but a picture of a distressed-looking Shiba Inu, with colorful Comic Sans all over.

”Not your boyfriend in the making?” Jimin asks while calmly picking up two more books.

Taehyung ignores the b-word. ”It’s Kook,” he says. ”He forgot he has a test today so now he’s sending me sad doge memes. He also wants to know if it’d be more effective to slit his throat with the test paper or suffocate himself with it. What do you reckon my baby cousin should do?”

”That poor child,” Jimin sighs sarcastically, clicking his tongue. ”Tell him I recommend looking at his notes instead of memes.”

That’s what Taehyung is about to do, only destiny decides to intervene. At that very moment, Taehyung just happens to look up for no apparent reason, and as if tugged by the red string of fate, his gaze is drawn to Min Yoongi a few aisles down. Although Yoongi is dressed in a dark bomber jacket several sizes too large and has pulled up the hood of the black hoodie underneath, Taehyung has no trouble whatsoever recognizing him. And while Taehyung does not outright stare, he does appreciate the sight.

Noticing Taehyung’s sudden silence, Jimin turns and follows his line of sight, smirking once again when he spots Yoongi. ”It’s your lucky day, Taetae,” he hums. ”What was that thing you said about good things happening? Gotta grab them before they unhappen?”

”Worry not, Chimchim, I practice what I preach,” Taehyung says and slips out of the aisle, drawn to Yoongi like the infamous moth to that infamous light.

When Taehyung reaches Yoongi’s aisle, he stops to hesitate. Yoongi doesn’t notice him, busy looking at some book on traditional music, and Taehyung considers taking a brisk but very casual walk around a few aisles to give Yoongi time to finish what he’s doing without Taehyung there to bother him. It turns out he doesn’t need to do that, though, because Yoongi looks up soon enough, and the hint of a smile on his lips is enough of an indicator that he isn’t too bummed to see Taehyung.

”Hey,” Yoongi says, and yeah, that’s definitely a smile and Taehyung definitely likes it.

”Hi,” Taehyung replies, and takes a step closer. ”What brings you here?” A stupid question, but at least it’s a conversation opener.

Yoongi lifts the book in his hand, showing it to Taehyung. ”I need to write a paper for class. I’m looking for something useful on pansori,” he says. ”How about you?”

”Ah, I’m with Jimin. He needs some books for his dance history class or something.” Taehyung motions vaguely towards where he left Jimin but Yoongi doesn’t avert his gaze, keeping it on Taehyung.

”If you’re free, do you want to grab lunch with me?” Yoongi asks, kicking the floor with the tip of his sneaker.

Oh yes, Taehyung definitely wants to, very much wants to, and would jump at the offer, if only… ”I was actually going to do that with Jimin after this,” he says, unable to keep a pout off his face. ”But…”

”But Jimin’s a big boy and can feed himself,” Jimin pipes in, appearing at Taehyung’s side out of thin air. He slings an arm around his friend’s shoulders and flashes Yoongi a pleasant smile. ”Taetae’s free and all yours.”

Taehyung kind of wants to smack Jimin for that last bit, but decides against it when Yoongi chuckles. ”To be honest, I was supposed to have lunch with Hoseok,” Yoongi says to Jimin, ”but I’m not as loyal as Taehyung is, so if you want company, Hobi’s in the cafeteria downstairs.”

Jimin perks up, his cheeky and playful demeanor melting away as he retracts his arm from Taehyung. ”But is it okay for me to go if you’re the one he made plans with?” he asks, as if he didn’t already make up his mind the second the opportunity presented itself. He’s already moving towards the self-checkout, most likely without even realizing it.

Yoongi snorts softly. ”Yeah, trust me, it’s okay,” he says. ”See, I’ve got a feeling that Hobi’s going to be pretty happy if you show up in my place.”

”So follow your heart and run free, Chimchim,” Taehyung says, nudging Jimin’s side with his elbow. “By the way, this doesn’t count because Yoongi did it for you. Our deal is still on.”

Jimin sends him a withering glare, but even that isn’t enough to keep him from practically skipping to check out his books, all the while still trying hard to appear cool and totally composed. It’s a funny sight to behold, if Taehyung is honest.

“Good to see that it’s mutual, then,” Yoongi muses.

“Yeah,” Taehyung agrees. “They’re both idiots, but I’m hoping they’re getting closer to realizing it.”

Yoongi hums in agreement and puts his book back in the shelf. “Should we go?”

“You aren’t checking it out?” Taehyung asks as he follows Yoongi towards the exit.

“Nah,” Yoongi says, shrugging. “I’ll just come back later.”

 

 

pause; fast-forward

 

 

Monday rolls around, marking day three of the new world order and Yoongi’s first day back at work after Taehyung walked out. Yoongi gets through it okay, stays busy and doesn’t think about Taehyung, but the missed sleep weighs on him more than it usually would. He tries to power through the exhaustion at first, but in the end it gets the better of him. For the first time in a long time, Yoongi clocks out early, fantasizing of a long nap the whole way home.

When he enters the apartment building he and Taehyung have lived in for the last six years, he’s overcome with a strange feeling. Inside the elevator he stares at the digital floor numbers while trying to pinpoint what that feeling is, but he’s none the wiser when he reaches the seventh floor. If anything, the odd pressure on his ribs only intensifies when he enters the keycode and opens the door. He steps into the apartment cautiously, shutting the door behind himself as he toes off his shoes. That’s when his eyes land on a pair of blue Vans, the tips damp from the rain outside. Heartbeat growing louder, Yoongi lets his gaze sweep across the coat rack, and sure enough, he spots a coat of Taehyung’s that’s also been missing for a few days.

The soft laughter coming from the living room fills Yoongi with relief and he can’t possibly get his coat off fast enough so he just yanks it off and shoves it into the clothing rack, not caring when it drops right to the floor. He forces down a deep, steadying breath before letting himself be drawn to that sound, his heart rate now closer to that of a humming bird.

He comes to a halt at the door, overwhelmed by the sight that’s still so familiar even though he hasn’t seen too much of it lately. Taehyung is sitting on the floor, engaged in a tug-of-war with a very happy-looking Soonshim, and he looks happy too, or happier, at least. That smile on his face and especially in his eyes is another thing Yoongi has missed terribly, and it works like magic, turning the empty, sad apartment into a home in an instant.

But then the minute hand of the large clock above their television nudges forward with a loud, ugly clank that breaks the spell. The illusion shatters, revealing the ugly reality lurking right underneath the picture perfect surface.

There’s a black duffel bag open on the couch, stuffed with clothes and toiletries, the corner of a laptop peeking out. Yoongi’s breath gets stuck in his throat as the reality catches up to him, too fast. Taehyung only then notices Yoongi’s presence and looks up, the smile on his lips withering away and morphing into shock, fingers loosening around the leg of the giraffe toy he and Soonshim were playing with. Yoongi can’t breathe, let alone say a word, when cold, sharp claws of anxiety dig into his lungs.

Taehyung hasn’t come home, and judging by the full bag, he isn’t planning on doing that anytime soon.

The minute hand moves again, the metallic clatter cutting through the thick silence. Taehyung stands up slowly, holding onto the couch for support, and Soonshim trots over to Yoongi to greet him, dropping the giraffe at his feet like a present. Yoongi remains frozen and speechless even when Soonshim pushes her head against his knees, asking for attention.

“I… You’re early,” Taehyung stammers. “I just… I came to get some more clothes and other stuff. I’m not… I mean, I was just about to leave.”

Yoongi knows he should be more level-headed about this and capable of thinking past the aching void inside him, but it’s proving difficult. He can’t stop staring at the bag Taehyung has packed full, fear swimming in circles in his stomach like a shark. He’s scared that now Taehyung will leave with a duffel bag but next time it will be with cardboard boxes and Soonshim.

Another minute comes to a close.

“Aren’t you going to say anything?” Taehyung asks softly. He’s trying to establish eye contact but Yoongi’s eyes are still on the bag.

“What do you want me to say?”

Taehyung shifts nervously. His hand goes up to his neck, fingers curling around the necklace he’s hardly taken off since he got it years and years ago. Yoongi bites his tongue so hard that he’s surprised he doesn’t taste blood.

“Something. Anything, really,” Taehyung mutters. “We should talk. I mean, we need to. We can’t just…” He cuts himself off, looking away.

They do need to talk, Yoongi knows that – if they’re really done like it now seems they are, there are so many things that need to be settled – but right now he’s tired and sad and all he wants is to curl up in bed and sleep all of this off.

“It doesn’t look like you came here to talk tonight.”

Taehyung opens his mouth but closes it just as quickly. If he’d come to talk, he wouldn’t have looked like a burglar caught red handed when he saw Yoongi. If he’d come to talk, he wouldn’t have timed himself so that on a normal day Yoongi wouldn’t have been home for at least another couple of hours. They both know this, so Taehyung doesn’t try to insist otherwise.

“I’m sorry,” he mutters, though Yoongi isn’t sure what it is that he’s apologizing for. He isn’t sure Taehyung himself knows either, but somehow apologies do seem fitting for the situation.

“Yeah,” Yoongi says. “Me too.”

Taehyung’s eyes are rimmed with tears, and Yoongi knows he isn’t going to let them out until he’s out the door and back in the car. “I’ll come again in a few days,” Taehyung says. “Then we’ll talk, okay?”

“Yeah. Sounds good.”

Yoongi watches with unseeing eyes as Taehyung zips up the duffel bag and hoists it on his shoulder, and leans down to say goodbye to Soonshim.

Taehyung stops at Yoongi’s side, and for a second it’s almost like he’s about to say something more, or touch, or something, and Yoongi hates the way his entire body screams for it, yearns for it, burns for it, whatever it is. But Taehyung says nothing, does nothing — he just walks out once again.

 

 

pause; rewind

 

 

Date number five falls on a Sunday night. Taehyung is pretty sure Jungkook will murder him in cold blood once he hears that Taehyung watched the new Marvel movie without him, but that’s a risk he’s willing to take.

He and Yoongi decide to walk back to the campus after the movie since it’s close enough and the late September night is chilly but not unpleasantly so. At Taehyung’s insistence they take a detour through a street lined with food vendors and tiny street restaurants, and buy a large serving of tteokbokki to share as they walk. Yoongi talks about his new school project, a song he’s clearly a little proud of even though he tries to mask it with a layer of indifference, and Taehyung hangs onto every word, loving how animated Yoongi’s face is when he talks about his music.

It’s cliché how their fingers brush together as they walk, but Taehyung is, unashamedly, the type of person who enjoys a healthy dose of cliché in his life every now and then. When they round the corner and come to a smaller, quieter street, Taehyung seizes his chance and hooks his pinky with Yoongi’s. The other man’s words get cut off for a second as he looks down at their hands, and the tiniest bit of a smile and the small shake of his head have Taehyung grinning and his heart leaping. When Yoongi grabs Taehyung’s hand properly and intertwines their fingers, Taehyung’s sure he stops breathing. Yoongi’s hand is cold and bony but it feels nice in Taehyung’s, fits into it just right.

“An important question next,” Taehyung says. Yoongi hums, a sign to go on. “What superpower would you want to have?”

Yoongi purses his lips in thought, and Taehyung tries not to stare at him. He stares at their hands instead, fighting a smile. “My lazy ass wants to say teleportation. Or telekinesis,” Yoongi admits. Taehyung chuckles. “But honestly? Probably time control. That’d be useful.”

“But doesn’t that also kind of fall under that same lazy ass umbrella?” Taehyung teases, earning a roll of eyes and an elbow to his side. “Okay, but seriously, why time control?”

Yoongi doesn’t answer right away, but the quiet moment doesn’t make Taehyung uneasy. He uses his free hand to snatch the last piece of tteokbokki from the container Yoongi is holding and chews on it as he waits for Yoongi to talk. “I think it’d be cool if you could revisit memories, play them like a 4D movie or something like that,” Yoongi says eventually, nodding as if to approve of his own answer. He spots a trash can and stops to get rid of the now empty container before he continues talking. “And, well, it’d obviously be pretty handy to be able to go back in time and fix things when you fuck up.”

Taehyung hums in thought. “But isn’t fucking up an essential part of life?” he points out. “I mean, I personally think that some mistakes just need to happen, you know? Because good things come out of them. Like, maybe we need to make mistakes to realize what’s important and what’s not a mistake.”

It gets quiet again. When Taehyung glances at Yoongi, he finds his eyes on him, and in them a look he can’t describe in words. It resembles the way Yoongi looked at Taehyung that first night when Taehyung showed him that elephant trick of his, but it’s a little more than that. It’s intrigued and fascinated, and then something else, and it makes Taehyung’s skin prickle because he isn’t used to being looked at like that.

“Yeah, you’re right,” Yoongi finally says, startling Taehyung who barely even remembers what they were talking about. “I’ll take teleportation instead.”

Superpowers, right. Taehyung is back on track. “It’s a good pick. It’s useful, fun, and it comes without many downsides. I approve.”

Yoongi smiles. “How about you? What superpower would you take?”

“Shapeshifting. No doubt about it.”

“Why?”

“Because then I could do more or less anything. I could be pretty much anything,” Taehyung says. ”I mean, imagine how convenient it would be to just, I don’t know, dragonfly yourself out of a sticky situation. Plus, I really like animals, so there’s that too.”

Yoongi nods, looking impressed and fully convinced.

“That’s a good one,” he admits. “Shit, it’s way better than mine. It really would be pretty damn handy to be able to dragonfly the hell out of things sometimes.”

They reach Yoongi’s dorm building first, Taehyung living two more blocks down the street, but even as they stop in front of the entrance, neither one of them does anything to unfurl their fingers. Taehyung briefly considers suggesting another walk around the block, but it’s getting late and Yoongi looks like he’s shivering so it doesn’t seem like a very good idea.

“So, um, are you free tomorrow?” Taehyung asks, because he’s caught himself staring at Yoongi’s lips and wondering if it’s too early and if he’s brave enough.

“Yeah. You already asked that, back at the food stand,” Yoongi says, smirking slightly. “I didn’t change my mind yet.”

“Ah, good, then. I just had to make sure because, well, you never know.” Taehyung grins to hide his embarrassment. “Anyway, it’s late and I should probably get going, so… Good night! I’ll text you later.”

When he turns to leave, there’s a hand on his arm, stopping him from going anywhere. Taehyung turns to face Yoongi just in time to catch him scanning their surroundings for other people before looking up at Taehyung. “Since you pretty much walked me home,” he says, voice quieter and deeper than it was before, “you should follow the proper etiquette.”

Taehyung doesn’t get to ask about that etiquette before Yoongi steps closer and curls his fingers into the collar of Taehyung’s hoodie. Taehyung’s hands automatically settling on his waist and Yoongi pauses, to look at Taehyung’s face, to look into his eyes and then at his lips, to ask permission perhaps, before leaning in with the faintest bit of a smile in the corner of his mouth.

All he really tastes is the spicy tteokbokki, and Yoongi’s lips are a little chapped but so, so warm despite the cool weather. The kiss may have been intended to be kept short and chaste, a model example of a kiss goodnight, but neither Yoongi nor Taehyung seems inclined to leave one another’s personal space anytime soon, which results in a long, long string of small kisses that tickle at Taehyung’s heart. The taste is spicy but the feeling is sweet, lingering and highly addictive, leaving Taehyung craving when Yoongi pulls back.

”Now you can go,” Yoongi says, although he still has Taehyung’s collar bunched in his fists.

”But do I have to?”

Yoongi laughs, letting go of Taehyung as he steps back. ”Go. I’ll see you tomorrow, yeah?”

”Yeah,” Taehyung admits reluctantly. ”Okay, I’ll go.”

After stealing one last kiss, Taehyung all but skips down the street, heart racing, unable and unmotivated to fight off the stupid, lovestruck grin, or the small giggles that keep escaping. Sometimes he just loves his life, and this is definitely one of those moments.

 

 

pause; fast-forward

 

 

The worst part, Yoongi decides, is that he still doesn’t know exactly what went wrong or when.

He finds himself agonizing over it yet again that night, hours after Taehyung has left. He sits on the couch in the dark living room, bundled up in a blanket, because it’s only now occurred to him that their bed is too big and cold, a real waste of space if he’s honest. Yoongi himself was the one who won the right to choose the bed when they moved into this place. Taehyung, on the other hand, got to choose the couch.

Unable to sleep or focus on the drama he was trying to watch (Taehyung’s favorite actor plays the main role), Yoongi takes a trip down the memory lane in a yet another attempt to pinpoint the moment things started to go downhill. It’s a habit for him, trying to get to the bottom of things and figure out why things happen the way they do, and it bothers him that in this case, he really doesn’t know how he and Taehyung got to this point.

The first months of the year were happy, there’s no doubt about it. Yoongi remembers how Taehyung used the money he’d secretly been putting aside to book them a room in a five-star hotel for the weekend before Yoongi’s birthday, and Yoongi pretended to be mad at him for wasting money for about six and half seconds before Taehyung kissed him into submission. ”No sum of money’s a waste if it’s spent on you,” Taehyung murmured against Yoongi’s neck. ”I wanted to do something like this for you for actual years, and now that I finally can, just let me.”

Yoongi doesn’t remember much about the summer that followed the blissful spring, save for cursing the sweltering heat, being stuck in the studio until ungodly hours, and missing Taehyung. That’s what started it, isn’t it? He was so busy, swamped with two back-to-back albums that had him locking himself up in the studio, refusing to settle for anything less than pure perfection as per usual. When he wasn’t working, he was too exhausted to stay up even when he tried to, even when he wanted to. Taehyung said he understood, and Yoongi knows that he meant it too.

They were both used to Yoongi getting extremely busy every now and then, and it had never actually been a problem, even though Yoongi used to feel bad for it in their early years. Last summer didn’t feel any different then, but in retrospect, maybe something was off after all because after that, things never really went back to normal. Yoongi noticed that Taehyung often seemed down and somewhat troubled but never wanted to talk about what was on his mind when Yoongi asked. ”I’d rather you give me something better to think about,” Taehyung would say, claiming that what he needed wasn’t a heart-to-heart but distraction. Yoongi didn’t push him because he knew that if Taehyung said he didn’t want to talk about something, it meant that he really didn’t. It also meant that he would eventually tell Yoongi everything, once he was ready and done processing. In the meantime, Yoongi did what he could to help, shed his clothes and offered distraction, relieved when it seemed to work to lift Taehyung’s spirits.

But now, as Yoongi shifts to lie on his side, he thinks that maybe he should have kept his clothes on and made Taehyung talk. Maybe he should have pushed a little more and tried a little harder, instead of giving in and hoping what Taehyung wanted was also what he really needed. Maybe that would have made a difference. Maybe Yoongi could have made a difference.

The fall came and Yoongi got busy again, the timeframe for the new debut fucking impossible but non-negotiable, despite Yoongi’s and Namjoon’s combined best efforts. He can still taste blood and bile on his tongue when he thinks back on September and October, and feels the ghost of the typhoon of stress, exhaustion, anxiety and fear that swallowed him whole. If he remembers little about last summer, he remembers even less about the past two months – their last two months.

He does remember forgetting their anniversary, though. Taehyung forgot too, and it was a first for them both. Yoongi remembers how Taehyung stared at the calendar in shock a week later, realizing only then that October 14th had come and gone. During those couple of months, Yoongi saw very little of Taehyung who pulled long hours at his school, offering extra tutoring to help his students prepare for their quickly approaching SATs. Even when Yoongi did see Taehyung, they barely had anything to say to one another, and it felt awkward to touch too, as if they had somehow lost the right to do so. And then, out of the blue just when Yoongi was done with the album and ready to start examining and fixing the damages it had caused to his relationship, there was Taehyung with a tear-streaked face, a packed bag and dark shadows underneath his eyes, saying he wanted to break up because he was too tired to go on anymore.

And that was that.

But it makes no sense. Yoongi groans as he rolls over to lie on his stomach, careful not to kick or jostle Soonshim who has finally stopped whining and pacing for the night and fallen asleep at the other end of the couch. It doesn’t make sense, no matter which angle Yoongi tries to look at it from. It defies any logic known to him that the job Yoongi’s had for almost seven years would suddenly tear them apart like this, especially when Taehyung spent such a huge part of those seven years teaching Yoongi to feel less guilty about it. Taehyung started his first permanent job at the beginning of the year and although that was a big change on paper, the only remarkable difference between that and the temporary ones he’d had until then was that Taehyung was over the goddamn moon about it, excited to finally be a real homeroom teacher with a class of his own to take care of. His hours weren’t any different than they had been when he was doing gigs as a substitute teacher, and the amount of work he brought home was just about the same as well. It’s hard to see how their jobs could have driven a rift between them since they were already seasoned professionals at balancing their relationship and work. It had never been a problem for them, so why would it suddenly have become one a few months ago? Yoongi really doesn’t think their problems had anything to do with work.

So in that case, what the hell happened to them? What is it that burned Taehyung out and snuffed out their relationship? If they’d been talking, maybe Yoongi would know. But the silence was heavy and strained between them for the last months, and Yoongi has no idea what got lost in it. What is it that he missed? What is it that Taehyung refused to talk to Yoongi about, no matter how many times he asked?

Soonshim jolts awake with a sound that’s somewhere between a cry and a bark. She springs to her feet and dashes to the door, whining in front of it for a good minute before returning to Yoongi. She hops on the couch and lies down on top of him with a heavy sigh, staring up at his face.

He brings his hand up to scratch behind her ear, releasing a sigh of his own. ”I know, Shim,” he mutters. ”I miss him like hell too.”

Soonshim sighs again and closes her eyes, soon dozing off again. Yoongi tries to do the same but he’s significantly less successful.

 

 

pause; rewind

 

 

Jimin’s birthday party is a small affair because the man of the hour likes it simple and intimate, but also because there are only so many people his and Taehyung’s place can accommodate. There are only twelve people in the apartment, but the party is still nicer than most of the ones Taehyung has been to, and it isn’t just because this is the second party he’s been to with Yoongi, though that is an undeniably important factor.

Throughout the entire night, Jimin keeps calling Yoongi Taehyung’s boyfriend, whispering the word in Taehyung’s ear every chance he gets, snickering like a twelve-year-old with either a secret or a crush, or both, in Jimin’s case.

But despite what Jimin might think, Taehyung and Yoongi aren’t boyfriends. Not yet, anyway. Or if they are, Taehyung is unaware of it because that b-word has never passed between them.

By now Taehyung has stopped counting their dates because it’s hard to keep track of them now that they see each other almost daily, even if sometimes it’s just for a handful of minutes at a time. It’s easier to measure the passing time: Taehyung has known Yoongi for one month and two weeks, and he’s definitely falling in love.

Still, they aren’t boyfriends and haven’t made anything official, even though their hands fit together really nicely and kissing goodbye (and hello and thank you and you’re welcome) has become a habit, even though Yoongi listens to Taehyung unlike anyone else and ends up laughing at his jokes and anecdotes even when he tries so hard not to, even though Taehyung’s become a dedicated collector of smiles and all things unconventionally beautiful.

Hours later, when most of the guests are gone, there’s no more of Jimin’s teasing or meaningful looks. The only sounds in the apartment are those of Jimin and Hoseok playing Wii in the living room, giggling loudly and bumping into each other, both very drunk but also very happy. They are talking, too, Taehyung can hear their muffled voices through the closed door of his bedroom but he can’t make out the words, nor is he trying to. And soon, he stops hearing the giggles and the squeals, not because they aren’t still there, but because it’s hard to focus on irrelevant things when there’s a pair of lips moving against his, fingers threading through his hair, and the faint scent of Yoongi’s cologne making him lightheaded.

Their bodies are tangled up in each other on Taehyung’s bed, touching everywhere, but neither one of them pursues anything beyond what they are doing now – they are drunk, and even if they weren’t, this wouldn’t be the right time or place. They’re both teetering on the border of sleepiness, having reached that stage of drunkenness when the alcohol turns into liquid lead in their veins. That’s why they kiss slow, so slow, and a little sloppy, tired yet unable to stop kissing and touching. The lead in Taehyung’s blood is warm and it too flows slow, it makes him shiver and it makes him feel full to the brim. Yoongi tastes like the punch Taehyung and Jimin spent the whole afternoon concocting, strawberries and soju, and he kisses like the world will never end, like they’ve got the rest of eternity to kiss and kiss and kiss.

Despite what Jimin might think, Taehyung and Yoongi aren’t boyfriends – yet. But the word tastes sweeter than the punch and it has Taehyung’s heart thrumming, so maybe soon they will be. Not tonight, not when they are drunk and tired and high off on each other, but soon.

Soon.

 

 

pause; fast-forward

 

 

Yoongi gets another visitor the next day, but this time it isn’t Taehyung.

Jeon Jungkook squats down to pet Soonshim when the dog dashes to greet him. Yoongi gets up from the couch where he’d been napping after a long day at work, and shoots Jungkook a wary, suspicious look. How the hell did the kid even get inside? And more importantly, why is he here?

”Taehyung left something behind. Jimin sent me to get it,” Jungkook explains. He crosses his arms across his chest when he stands up, adopting a defensive stance that draws attention to his biceps. Jungkook isn’t the type to pick a fight or provoke, but he is the type to play all of his cards to get his point across.

”Okay,” Yoongi says slowly. He isn’t used to receiving cold treatment from Jungkook, of all people, but he understands it. Jungkook is very protective of his cousin, has apparently been ever since Taehyung saved him from bullies in middle school. ”What did he leave? I’ll find it for you.”

”His migraine meds,” Jungkook says. ”Not the pills. The spray.”

”Is he having an attack?”

Since Taehyung was prescribed his current medication, his migraine attacks have been rare, occurring only once every few months. The downside is that when he does have an attack, it’s always intense enough to leave him fully incapacitated for a day or two if he doesn’t get his ’magic spray’ in time. His migraine attacks never fail to make Yoongi feel useless because there is very little anyone can do to help once Taehyung’s own head turns against him. That’s why Yoongi thinks that his concerned and slightly frantic question is perfectly justified; just the thought of Taehyung lying crippled in a dark room is enough to make him uneasy and restless with worry.

Jungkook’s face softens a touch and he shakes his head. ”No, he’s fine.”

Sighing in relief, Yoongi nods and tells Jungkook to wait a second. He goes into the bedroom, heading straight for the top drawer of Taehyung’s bedside table. The large box is the first thing he sees, taking up a good portion of the drawer. Yoongi takes it out and checks that there’s still medication left inside before taking the box to Jungkook.

When he hands it over, he has to stop himself from rattling off every tip and piece of migraine-related know-how he’s accumulated over the years, like what smells Taehyung should avoid and how neck pain is always a sign of an oncoming migraine attack and how Taehyung gets cold when his he’s having an attack and how it helps if you very gently massage his neck and scalp and pet his hair.

He doesn’t say any of that. He tries not to say anything at all, but one thing, the most important one, slips out. ”Tell Jimin that it’s really important Taehyung uses one of those as soon as his head starts to ache, especially if he’s been complaining neck pain,” he says, uncomfortably aware of how he sounds like an overbearing mother. ”Sometimes Taehyung still insists on waiting to see if his headache really is a migraine attack even though it always is, so… you need to be firm with him.”

Despite the slight frown on his face, Jungkook gives Yoongi a curt nod. ”Got it,” he says. ”This is all I came for, so I’ll just, um, get going now.”

”Yeah, okay. See you around.”

After a couple of steps towards the door, however, Jungkook stops in his tracks, releasing a heavy sigh, and turns around. ”Look, Jimin told me not to say anything extra, and he’s going to skin my ass when he finds out I didn’t listen, but I just can’t hold it in.” He sighs again, stuffing his hands in the pockets of his jeans. Direct confrontations have never been a speciality of Jeon Jungkook’s.

”Go ahead.” Shoot away.

Jungkook looks up, taking a breath to steel himself. ”I just don’t get it,” he says. ”It’s like just a few months ago we were all just waiting for our wedding invitations to drop. Even after such a long time together you guys just… I mean, you still looked at Taehyung like he was the single best thing about your life, and he still talked about you with this weird mix of awe and adoration, like you’d single-handedly built the galaxy or something.”

Suddenly Yoongi isn’t so sure he wants to hear this after all.

”But now Tae’s just…” Jungkook cuts himself off, making some vague gesture with his hand. ”All he needs is to feel like he’s important and loved and wanted, you should know that better than anyone. So what the hell happened?”

Isn’t that the million dollar question, Yoongi thinks bitterly, chewing his lip so the words don’t escape.

”He’s been feeling like a burden. He’s been so tired and unhappy but he felt like he just had to suck it up so it wouldn’t inconvenience you,” Jungkook goes on, scowling now, every word of his like another punch to an already battered spot. ”He needed you but you weren’t there and I just don’t get why.”

There’s that all too familiar pair of cold hands gripping Yoongi’s lungs and his heart, claws digging in and leaving bloody welts. The room is spinning and Yoongi’s head is spinning too, and Jungkook’s words sound oddly muffled even as they effectively pierce through every weakness of Yoongi’s, repeatedly, without mercy.

He needs Jungkook out now.

”Jimin was right, you know,” Yoongi grits out as calmly as he can. He doesn’t want to start a fight. He just wants Jungkook to leave. ”You shouldn’t have said anything. It isn’t your place.”

”I know it isn’t but what else am I supposed to do?” Jungkook snaps, maybe provoked by Yoongi’s faux indifference. ”You two aren’t talking to each other because he’s scared of you and you don’t seem to care, so…”

”Jungkook,” Yoongi cuts him off sharply. ”Shut the fuck up.”

He’s scared of you. You don’t seem to care. He’s scared of you. You don’t seem to care. He’s scared of you.

Taehyung is scared of Yoongi.

Taehyung hasn’t told Yoongi about being sad and tired because he was afraid Yoongi might think of him as an inconvenience, a burden. Taehyung thinks Yoongi doesn’t care, and Yoongi feels sick.

Jungkook is staring at him with his mouth still open, stunned into silence. He says something but Yoongi’s too lost in his own spiral of self-loathing and panic to make out the words.

”Just go, okay?” Yoongi hears his own voice, although it sounds strange and distant.

”I didn’t mean to…”

”I get it so just,” Yoongi takes a breath, ”go. Just get the hell out.”

Thankfully Jungkook gets the message and backs down, looking guilty as hell, like he’d accidentally run over a squirrel. He backs away slowly and warily, clearly hesitant, but eventually slinks out of the living room, muttering another apology and some sort of an explanation Yoongi doesn’t quite catch.

Yoongi’s walls give out the second the door closes, first sob tearing out of him. He’s scared of you, he’s scared of you, he’s scared of you, Jungkook’s voice taunts him, over and over on an endless loop that sounds exactly like the soundtrack of Yoongi’s worst nightmares. His lungs don’t work the way they’re supposed to, the fingers around his chest are squeezing too tight, leaving him gasping and sobbing and clawing at his own sides and hitting his chest in an attempt to find some relief.

He’s scared of you, Jungkook’s voice says again. I can’t do this anymore, Taehyung adds, the memory of his tear-stained face so clear that it makes Yoongi’s entire body shudder. I don’t know how to talk to you anymore, I don’t even know how to be with you anymore…

Everything hurts, or maybe just his heart does but the pain radiates everywhere, like shards of a grenade tearing through everything in their way.

 

 

pause; rewind

 

 

The morning after Jimin’s birthday, Taehyung wakes up to a quiet flat, curled up against a warm body. Although his mouth is drier than all his textbooks combined and it tastes like a wasteland, his bladder is about to burst and his head feels like someone stuffed a pillow inside his skull, Taehyung smiles, happy little shivers rippling through his body.

He needs to pee and he needs to drink, and he could use a painkiller too, but his cheek is squished against Yoongi’s chest and there are arms around him, and he isn’t sure which two of the four tangled-up legs are his. Sunlight filters through the half-closed blinds, the morning sun giving the room a golden hue, and Taehyung desperately wants to let this moment run its course, stretch it out and bask in it. He doesn’t want to detach himself from Yoongi, not at all, but if he doesn’t go now, there’s a very real chance that he might wet the bed and then proceed to die either from humiliation or dehydration. In other words, he has to put his big boy pants on and act before it’s too late.

Slowly and as gently as possible Taehyung wiggles himself out of the bed, immediately whimpering at the cold air. He pulls on a hoodie that’s hanging off the back of his chair and turns to take one last glance at Yoongi’s sleeping form before tiptoeing out of the room.

Taehyung is fast and efficient, first taking care of the most urgent matter and then downing two glasses of water and grabbing a bottle to bring back to Yoongi. He brushes his teeth and splashes his face with some water, and even combs through his hair with his fingers in an attempt to tame the wild bedhead. It takes less than five minutes for him to return to his room, ready to crawl back into the bed and continue where he left off, but when he enters his room, he finds Yoongi already awake.

Yoongi doesn’t look very awake, though. He’s sitting in the middle of the Taehyung’s bed, the sheets pooled around him, lips pouty, brows furrowed and eyes barely open. His hair is a hot mess, strands of blond sticking out in every direction, and that giant black t-shirt of his reveals one shoulder, and god, Taehyung’s heart clenches so hard that he nearly doubles over.

“You woke me up,” Yoongi mutters in this rough, deep voice that feels like rocks falling to the pit of Taehyung’s stomach, but in a strangely nice way.

“Ah, sorry,” Taehyung stammers, feeling his cheeks warm up for no apparent reason. “I had to, uh, go. And get some water.”

Hangovers are supposed to feel terrible, and they’re definitely meant to look equally bad. Hangover means a bloated face, bloodshot eyes, dark circles, bad breath and messy, possibly greasy hair, and none of that should look good on anyone, yet there Taehyung is, tongue-tied and stupefied, all because of the sleepy rumble of Yoongi’s voice, the messy nest of blond hair and the lazily blinking eyes.

It doesn’t help at all that Yoongi is doing this outrageous ’hungover but gorgeous’ thing of his in Taehyung’s bed, looking all sorts of pouty, snuggly and kissable. It really, really doesn’t help.

“Stop staring,” Yoongi grumbles, wrinkling his nose. “C’mere. It’s cold.”

Kim Taehyung is whipped, so whipped that he’s in no place or condition to disobey such a pleasant order. He puts the water bottle on the corner of his nightstand and climbs back into bed, pausing to wonder what he’s supposed to do next. Lie down and go back to sleep, maybe? That was his original plan, but that plan was made when Yoongi was still asleep. Now Yoongi is awake, more so with every passing second, and he’s looking at Taehyung with an odd look in his eyes, like he’s thinking about something very seriously, weighing pros and cons and probabilities.

Up this close, it’s even harder to think straight and keep his breath from being stolen away, but it’s okay because it seems to be exactly what Yoongi is going for. He moves to straddle Taehyung, seating himself in his lap and wrapping his arms loosely around Taehyung’s neck while Taehyung’s hands find themselves a spot on Yoongi’s hips. There’s nothing sleepy about the way Yoongi stares into Taehyung’s eyes, his fingers threading through the shorter hair at Taehyung’s nape. Taehyung shivers, his blood like hot, bubbly lava.

”Sorry about the breath,” Yoongi murmurs, giving Taehyung no other warning before bringing their lips together.

It’s still as lazy as it was last night, still languid and unhurried, the way their lips move against each other, small kisses melting together into one very, very long one. Yoongi hooks his ankles behind Taehyung and cards his fingers through Taehyung’s hair, and Taehyung thinks he’s gone to heaven and never wants to return to Earth ever again. He wraps his arms around Yoongi’s middle to bring him even closer until they’re chest to chest, still kissing, and kissing, and kissing.

Taehyung chases Yoongi’s lips with his own when the latter one pulls back a little, which has Yoongi laughing and pushing Taehyung by the shoulders, fingers curling into the fabric of Taehyung’s hoodie. ”Hold on just a sec, I’ve got something to say,” Yoongi chuckles when Taehyung lets out a displeased whine.

”What is it?”

Yoongi presses his lips together, taking a moment to organize his thoughts perhaps, as his thumbs rub small circles into Taehyung’s shoulders. ”I’ve been thinking, you know,” Yoongi says, keeping his gaze somewhere below Taehyung’s face, on his neck or collarbones maybe. ”Do you have time later tonight?”

”I guess that depends,” Taehyung hums while running his hands up and down Yoongi’s sides. ”What do I need to have time for?”

”Me,” Yoongi says. He bites his lip and looks up slowly, eyes finding Taehyung’s again. ”Do you want to go out with me tonight? You know, as my, um, boyfriend?”

Taehyung tries to hold it in but a huge grin takes over his face anyway, his heart performing an impressive and seemingly never-ending series of cartwheels and somersaults. ”I guess I’ll have to make time then,” he manages to breathe out. ”Just for you, boyfriend.”

Yoongi lets out a breath, as if he’d seriously been entertaining the possibility of Taehyung actually saying no. ”Okay, great,” he says, and lets out a small, nervous laugh before adding, ”boyfriend.”

Taehyung’s got a piece of heaven in his bed and in his heart and now he gets to call that piece ’boyfriend’. All things considered, hangover aside, this has to be one of the best mornings in his life.

 

 

pause; fast-forward

 

 

Three days after Jungkook’s visit and exactly a week after Taehyung left, Yoongi wakes up from another nightmare where Taehyung stands in the middle of packed cardboard boxes, the floor flooded with his tears, and whispers that he can’t stay because he’s too scared — too scared of Yoongi.

Yoongi slides out of the bed, pulling on the bathrobe discarded on the floor, and leaves the room without waking up the dog lying sprawled across Taehyung’s side of the bed. He walks into the kitchen, considers a cup of coffee but settles for tea, and sits on the counter while he waits for the drink to brew. He’s not sure why his eyes burn with tears, but he guesses it’s the joint effort of the lack of sleep and the remnants of the nightmare. Exhaustion often has a way of making his tear ducts loose and unpredictable.

He draws his knees to his chest, hugging them close, and shuts his eyes. The apartment is just as cold, empty and dark as it has been every night since Taehyung left, but tonight Yoongi’s having trouble convincing himself that it’s only temporary. Finality hangs particularly low and heavy in the air tonight, it seems. The writing’s on the wall already, it’s been there for a while, but only now is it downing on Yoongi that this really is where the road, their road, should end.

He’s scared of you, Jungkook’s voice whispers again for what must be the millionth time by now. The voice brings memories to the surface, memories of Taehyung wandering around the apartment like a ghost, keeping his distance and getting lost in his own head, and memories of Yoongi coming back home to find Taehyung in bed, pretending to be asleep. All this time Yoongi has been wondering why Taehyung stopped talking to him, but it seems like Jungkook has given him the answer. Taehyung didn’t tell Yoongi what was going on because he was afraid, because he felt like a burden, because it seemed like Yoongi didn’t care.

And the worst part is that even in retrospect, Yoongi doesn’t know what it is that he should have done differently to avoid this outcome. He tried his best, he knows he truly did. He tried to be there for Taehyung but there’s only so much he could do when Taehyung was so insistent on handling his problems on his own. Yoongi used every trick in the book to try and coax Taehyung out of his shell and get him to talk but nothing seemed to work. He tried to be there more, stole hours away from his packed schedule and showered Taehyung with attention, and when that didn’t work he tried to be there less, gave Taehyung the time and space he needed. He tried not to ask too many questions, and then he tried to ask all of them, he tried to be soft and encouraging and then he tried to be firm and unyielding.

He tried everything and nothing worked. He tried so hard but it still wasn’t good enough, he still wasn’t good enough, and now he’s got no tricks left in his sleeve. It seems like what Taehyung needs isn’t something Yoongi can give him, and if that’s the case…

A sob tears out of Yoongi, loud enough to physically hurt. Taehyung said he was tired, but Yoongi is tired too, so goddamn exhausted that the tears just keep coming and he can’t even be bothered to try to stop them. So he just sits on the counter and cries, tea long forgotten and cold.

Maybe this is the way it’s supposed to be. That pill’s a fucking bitter one to swallow, but Yoongi will do it if he has to, and right now it looks like that’s the only thing he can do.

 

 

pause; rewind

 

 

Their first month together passes in a blink. One moment they’re in Taehyung’s bed, tossing the brand new word ’boyfriend’ back and forth between kisses and silly giggles, and the next thing Taehyung knows, it’s already been five weeks and he is still stupidly, so very stupidly falling a little bit more every day.

It’s a Tuesday night in late November, and Taehyung knows he should be a good student and go home because he has a morning class the next day and it’s hard enough to find the motivation to attend it even after a good night’s sleep. But he’s so comfortable on Yoongi’s couch, tucked against Yoongi’s side, breathing in Yoongi’s scent and basking in all things Yoongi. They were watching a drama a while ago but the episode has already ended and technically Taehyung is out of excuses to stay, so he really should get going. He really should.

He gives himself five more minutes before forcing himself to sit up, staying firm even though his body immediately misses the warmth of Yoongi’s. Everything is going just fine, Taehyung is about to leave and go to bed early like the diligent pre-law student he’s supposed to be, but then he screws it all up, and naturally it’s all Yoongi’s fault. There’s something about the way that Yoongi leans against the wall, dressed in sweats and an oversized hoodie, his eyes somewhat sleepy, that makes all of Taehyung’s diligent thoughts scatter. Morning class, he reminds himself, but his voice of reason is nothing but a quiet, squeaky whine at the back of his mind now. He hates morning classes anyway (he hates almost all of his classes, if he’s honest), and he knows he’ll be tired no matter how much he sleeps, so he might as well be tired for a good reason, right? His voice of reason doesn’t answer to him, and Taehyung takes that to mean he may proceed.

Honestly, all Taehyung is looking for is a standard goodnight kiss, maybe with a little bit extra, but the kiss goes from chaste and family-friendly to something deserving of a Parental Advisory sticker faster than Taehyung realizes. Taehyung blames Yoongi for that too, even though technically it’s Taehyung who both initiates the kiss and pins Yoongi against the wall. It is Yoongi, however, who tips his head back and parts his lips first, and it’s his hands that slide up Taehyung’s back and get caught in his sweater. The kiss itself is intense and hot, hot mouths, hot tongues and hot breaths, and hungry enough to make it hard to remember that oxygen is not optional for their continued survival.

Taehyung closes his lips around Yoongi’s bottom one, sucking, enjoying the little sound the other releases at the back of his throat, but his own breath hitches when Yoongi’s hands travel down, down, down his back until they are cupping his behind. Taehyung’s moan is soft enough lose in the kiss and hide underneath Yoongi’s tongue, but concealing the shiver that runs up his spine when Yoongi’s fingers begin to knead his cheeks is a much more challenging task. The circular movement is slow and maddening, almost too much and at the same time never enough.

Gently, very gently and slowly, Yoongi uses the leverage he has of Taehyung’s behind to pull him closer, still making sure to leave him an out in case it’s too much and too soon. The open invitation is all Taehyung needs to press their hips together, the sweet, warm friction shocking a gasp out of them both. Taehyung’s voice of reason must be lying passed out somewhere because it’s not even whimpering anymore, morning class long forgotten as he rolls his hips against Yoongi’s experimentally and drinks up the muffled moan he earns for that. His lips depart from Yoongi’s to take a trip south, kissing along the jawline and then down the column of his throat, careful but deliberate about letting his teeth drag across the skin.

It’s uncharted territory for them, the way their hips move together and breaths come out as hot puffs of air, and Taehyung isn’t sure how deep into it they are headed, but he’s an adventurer at heart and open to a good handful of options.

Only tonight isn’t the night he gets to explore any of them, because right as he discovers a particularly sensitive spot right below Yoongi’s ear, the door opens, and someone screams.

”I swear to God I’m going to pee on everything you love, Min Yoongi!”

Taehyung jumps back and nearly stumbles into the coat rack in his haste, saved in the nick of time by Yoongi’s lightning-fast reflexes when he grabs Taehyung by the arm to steady him. Kim Seokjin, on the other hand, kicks off his shoes and huffs so loudly that his nostrils flare. He’s intimidating enough to cause even Yoongi to shrivel up, his eyes darting around like those of a puppy who knows he’s about to get scolded.

”Have we or have we not agreed that any and all physical activity rated above PG should take place in our own rooms behind closed doors?” Seokjin rants as he yanks off his coat and proceeds to hang it primly. ”And that activity right there was worth a solid R, don’t you think?”

Yoongi mumbles something that Taehyung doesn’t quite catch. If Taehyung was even just a bit less mortified, he’d find it fascinating how Seokjin talks to Yoongi like a stern mother to her rebellious pre-teen and how Yoongi just takes it, resigning himself to his part. In his current predicament, however, Taehyung is too preoccupied, plotting a way to slip past Seokjin and out of the apartment so he can go drown in his humiliation. His only consolation is that at the very last this isn’t the first time he’s met Seokjin. Getting caught grinding (oh god) against his boyfriend really wouldn’t have been the ideal way to be introduced to said boyfriend’s roommate and close friend.

Another mitigating factor is the fact that Seokjin likes Taehyung, has liked him since they first met a couple of weeks ago. Even now when he’s scowling at Yoongi, he pauses to greet Taehyung with a sweet smile. ”Don’t worry, Taetae, I’m not mad at you. You don’t know our house rules yet but this one,” Seokjin says, pinning Yoongi with another deadly glare that literally makes Yoongi flinch, ”oh, this one knows, he knows them so very well, and yet he chooses to disrespect me.”

Taehyung considers confessing to having been the one who initiated the whole thing, but Seokjin merely walks past him with a pat on his shoulder, and stops to shoot Yoongi one last look before deeming the situation adequately dealt with and sauntering off into the kitchen.

”Sorry about that,” Yoongi mutters, rubbing his neck with one hand while using the other to motion in Seokjin’s general direction.

”It was kind of my fault,” Taehyung points out. ”I started it.”

”Well, I’d call it joint effort,” Yoongi says, the right corner of his mouth lifting.

”We make a good team, then.”

Yoongi smiles, eyes warm and inviting. ”Yeah, we do.”

Morning lecture, Taehyung’s voice of reason whines weakly, and now Taehyung decides to listen to it. ”I really need to go now,” he says. Yoongi nods, and this time they manage to keep the good night kiss brief and innocent enough to avoid another lecture from Seokjin.

”Text me when you get home, yeah?”

Taehyung hums an affirmative, grabs his coat, and snatches one more little kiss before heading home with his heart still racing.

 

 

pause; fast-forward

 

 

That Sunday morning is a rainy and gray one, the weather a perfect match for the atmosphere inside the apartment.

Taehyung sits at their tiny kitchen table, fingers curled around a cup of coffee that he hasn’t drank from. Yoongi sits on a counter because the table is so small that his knees and feet would brush against Taehyung’s if he were to sit there and he doubts either one of them is in the mood for footsie now. Soonshim has parked herself next to Taehyung, her head in his lap as if to make sure he won’t leave again, and Taehyung keeps scratching behind her ears exactly the way she loves. She sways on her feet, looking like she’ll fall asleep any moment now.

The only sound in their kitchen is the rain that pounds against the window. No one has spoken since Taehyung came in and said they should talk and accepted the coffee Yoongi offered. Now Yoongi stares at the empty playground through the blurry wet glass and tries not to remember the times Taehyung would drag him out to the swings in the middle of the night just for the hell of it. In a silence like this one, those memories seem surreal, only flickers of a happy lucid dream they can’t dream again.

It’s been nine days since Taehyung said he wanted to break up and six since the last time they’ve been in the same room, and Yoongi has spent that time doing a whole lot of thinking. Now all those thoughts weigh down on him as he tries to come up with an opening line, but in the end it’s Taehyung who speaks first. His voice is so frail and thin that it would be easy to miss, if only the words didn’t knock the wind right out of Yoongi like a punch he didn’t see coming.

”Do you really want to break up?”

For a moment, Yoongi thinks he might have heard Taehyung wrong, but Taehyung’s eyes are sad and sincere yet hopeful, driving a nail into Yoongi’s chest. Taehyung did ask that, he really did, and he meant it too. Rain thunders down and Yoongi feels like he’s drowning.

Just a moment ago it was Yoongi at the gunpoint, but now he’s the one with the gun in his hands.

”What do you mean?” he breathes out, his throat burning. Taehyung isn’t supposed to ask that, Taehyung isn’t supposed to want him back (he’s scared of you, you don’t seem to care, he’s scared of you, you don’t seem to care), Taehyung is supposed to be here to end things for good. He isn’t supposed to… Yoongi’s chest is closing in on itself again, his world tilting on its axis, and Taehyung continues to look at Yoongi with sad, tired eyes that Yoongi has come to know better than he ever wanted. ”You said you wanted to break up. You said you couldn’t do this anymore, you… You broke up with me. So why are you…”

Yoongi is blabbering, unable to string together coherent sentences. Words aren’t on his side — they are never on his side.

Taehyung bites the inside of his cheek hard, averting his gaze to stare at Soonshim who’s now snoring softly, her head still in Taehyung’s lap. ”Yeah, I did, but… I was just… I’ve been thinking,” Taehyung says, throat bobbing. ”Maybe we don’t… I mean, we could still… What I’m trying to say is, what if there’s still hope?”

Hope. How is it that such a beautiful little word now makes Yoongi’s stomach lurch? He should have seen this coming. Yoongi should have known that Taehyung would dig up some leftover grain of hope and plant it like a seed, wishing it would grow into a forest of new happiness where he and Yoongi could live and forget how their first one got burned down. Yoongi should have known.

Had it come a few days ago, Taehyung’s question would have made Yoongi scoop him up in his arms without a moment of hesitation, but now he’s had too much time to think, too much time to face too many facts and truths. Now the memory of Taehyung’s slumped shoulders, red eyes and broken voice is etched too deep, mixed with the endless loop of Jungkook’s cold voice.

Does he want to break up? No, of course he fucking doesn’t, but that isn’t what this is about. That isn’t the question Taehyung should be asking. This is no longer about wanting or not wanting, and even if it was, what Yoongi wants more than to keep Taehyung is to make sure he’s happy. Since it seems that those two things have now become mutually exclusive, Yoongi has to make a choice that doesn’t even feel like a choice.

The only thing worse than hearing Taehyung say he wants to break up is Yoongi having to tell Taehyung that now he’s the one who thinks this should be where it ends.

 

 

pause; rewind

 

 

Once their finals are over and it’s time for the well-deserved winter break, Taehyung and Yoongi take the same train to Daegu. They spend the train ride watching movies, sharing a pair of earphones while listening to music and eating their way through Taehyung’s snacks. When they reach Daegu, Taehyung manages to sneak in one last kiss before they have to part ways to find their families, and the way Yoongi smiles against his lips is enough to alleviate any oncoming angst Taehyung might have about not getting to see much of his boyfriend for the next few weeks.

Any remaining traces of sadness die away the second Taehyung spots his family waving at him by the entrance. Grinning, he all but runs over, laughing as his twelve-year-old twin siblings Jaehyun and Saebin throw themselves at him. It’s a shame they’re too big for him to spin around in his arms like he used to, but the group hug is very much welcome all the same. His parents are the next ones in the hug line and Taehyung wastes no time wrapping his arms around them both, secretly tearing up just a bit because he’s missed his family so much.

Once they reach home, Taehyung’s parents busy themselves making dinner and shoo Taehyung away to unpack his bags when he offers to help. Saebin and Jaehyun trail after him to his room, sitting on his bed as he unzips his duffle bag. Unpacking feels great because it makes Taehyung feel like he’s here to stay. He knows that he’ll have to go back at the end of January, but at least for now he can forget about it for a while.

”Who was that boy you were with?” Saebin asks.

”What boy?” Jaehyun asks his sister.

”The blonde one. He had a gray beanie and a massive blue scarf,” Saebin says, but Jaehyun continues to look clueless. She sighs heavily, giving up on him and turning her attention back to her older brother.

”His name is Yoongi,” Taehyung says casually while stacking his clothes on the corner of his desk. ”We met a few months back through some friends we have in common. He goes to my university too.”

”I still don’t know who we’re talking about,” Jaehyun whines, only to be completely ignored by his sister.

”Is he your boyfriend?”

Taehyung almost chokes on his saliva. How exactly did his twelve-year-old little sister deduce that from the maximum of ten seconds she must have seen of Yoongi and Taehyung together? Then again, he really shouldn’t be this surprised because he knows his sister. Kim Saebin is the child genius extraordinaire who already drove their parents and Taehyung crazy at the tender age of two by figuring out how to open every single child safety lock in their house to steal snacks and share them with Jaehyun. Since then, she’s only grown even smarter and stealthier, enough to keep the entire family on their toes at all times. There’s no such thing as keeping something a secret from Kim Saebin. She smells secrets.

His reaction must be more than enough of an answer to her, judging by the smug smirk that takes over her face. Jaehyun, on the other hand, looks entirely displeased. ”My brother has a boyfriend and I didn’t even get to see him,” he mutters and flops back on the bed dramatically.

Once again forced to accept his fate as the older brother of a dangerously smart and observant sister, Taehyung digs out his phone, looks up a picture of Yoongi and shows it to poor Jaehyun who brightens up as soon as he gets the phone in his hands. Saebin moves closer as well, eager to see the picture.

”I don’t understand how you got that from like, one glimpse,” Taehyung says to her. ”Is it written on my forehead or something? Explain, Kim Saebin.”

Saebin snorts and shakes her head. ”Nope, not yours,” she says, a mischievous glimmer in her eyes. ”I just knew it when he kept staring after you and smiling for like, a billion years. It wasn’t very hard to guess.”

Well, okay, that’s. Okay. Cool. If Taehyung blushes beet red, no one mentions it, although Saebin does grin at him like she’s on to all of his secrets. He’s suddenly wondering if he’s got it all wrong these years because there’s no way Saebin can really be twelve. How do twelve-year-olds even catch things like this? It’s the modern society, he decides, making kids grow up so fast. When Taehyung was twelve, he wanted to be a Pokémon trainer with an army of Eevees, though honestly, that’s still his ultimate dream.

”Why do I never see these things,” Jaehyun mutters. Taehyung swoops in to retrieve his phone before either one of his siblings decides to look for more pictures because, well, reasons.

”Because I got a one-minute head start in life and that’s made all the difference. My brain’s more developed so I’m always going to be one step ahead of you, Hyunnie,” Saebin says, patting her melodramatically sighing brother on the back before turning her attention back to her older, blushing brother. ”Your boyfriend is cute so I approve for now. And I won’t tell Mom and Dad, and neither will Hyunnie.” Jaehyun nods in agreement, pressing one hand to his chest and lifting the other one as if to take some brotherly oath. Taehyung smiles.

He has a feeling he’s going to miss Yoongi a whole lot over the next weeks, but surrounded by his family, he’s sure he’ll manage.

 

 

pause; fast-forward

 

 

”I think we really should break up.”

Yoongi’s own voice sounds foreign to him, the words even more so.

It’s sad how the image of Taehyung’s face crumbling and his posture deflating isn’t so unfamiliar now. The shadows of exhaustion and defeat make Taehyung look older than he is, and sadder than he should ever have to be. I’m just tired, Yoongi remembers Taehyung’s words from weeks and weeks ago, when he’d once again tried to ask what was wrong, if there was anything he could do to help. I’m just tired all the time and I don’t know why. I wish that would stop. That’s all Taehyung would tell him before he twisted his face into a smile and shook his head, touched Yoongi’s cheek and said it would be alright, that he was just stressed out, too affected by his students’ personal problems.

He’s scared of you and you don’t seem to care, Jungkook whispers, just as Taehyung speaks again. ”But what if I don’t want to?” he asks, and there’s still hope in his voice, but it’s laced with fear, panic, and despair. ”I thought about it, and I just… I don’t want to do this, Yoongi. I don’t want to break up with you. That night I was just…  I was just tired and I didn’t mean it. I swear didn’t.”

Taehyung’s fingers curl around the silver elephant resting on his collarbones. Yoongi stares at the pendant, fighting against the itch behind his ear as the elephant there calls out to the one Taehyung always wears around his neck. Soonshim stirs, lifting her head and looking between him and Yoongi before lying down on the floor, on top of Taehyung’s feet.

”But we both know that’s not true. You would never have said something like that if you didn’t mean it.”

Yoongi’s gaze travels lower, to the spot on Taehyung’s chest where he knows there’s an anchor tattooed right above his heart. Anchor symbolizes hope but to Taehyung it symbolizes Yoongi first and foremost. Now, however, Yoongi no longer wants to be an anchor if it means all he does is weigh Taehyung down.

”I know you aren’t happy anymore. You said you were hurt and lonely and that you couldn’t handle it anymore, and…” And Jungkook said you were afraid of me, and that’s one thing I can’t live with. ”And now I’m the one who can’t do this. I can’t just… I can’t, Taehyung. I can’t do this if I don’t know for sure that there’s something I can do to change things. I’ve torn myself into fucking pieces trying to think of a way to fix this, but…” He sucks in a steadying breath to calm down his shaking voice. ”But I don’t know what went wrong. And I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know how to fix us.”

”So you aren’t even going to try?” Taehyung asks. The crack in his voice hurts, like a shard of a broken glass cutting through the skin of Yoongi’s chest. ”You’re just going to give up on us? Just like that?”

It feels unfair. It feels so fucking unfair that Taehyung’s the one who started this, he’s the one who said he wanted to break up and walked out, he’s the one who’s been talking to their friends about how he’s afraid and hurt and lonely but refused to tell Yoongi a thing, and yet now suddenly Yoongi is the quitter with no fighting spirit. For the first time, Yoongi feels anger brewing in the pit of his stomach, maybe because it’s been days since he slept properly and everything hurts and this is all just fucking unfair.

”What do you want me to do, Taehyung?” he asks, sliding off the counter to stand up. ”Tell me what you need, tell me how I can help you and I’ll do that, I’ll do whatever it takes and give you whatever the hell you want but you’ve got to tell me first.”

”You,” Taehyung answers without missing a beat. ”That’s all I want and need and I’m sorry for losing sight of that for a second, but…”

”You had me,” Yoongi cuts him off. ”You had me the entire time but where did that get us? Right fucking here.”

”No, but you weren’t…”

”But I was! Fuck, Taehyung, I was here the entire fucking time these past months, don’t you get it?” Taehyung shrinks, looking away. ”If you needed me or wanted me, all you had to do was ask, or even answer when I asked, and I would have dropped everything else. But you just didn’t. You just pushed me away.”

Taehyung swallows hard and sucks in a shaky breath. And then he presses his lips together into a tight line, the one that always drives Yoongi insane because it means Taehyung’s clamming up and no longer wants to continue the conversation. That expression means that Taehyung is done talking and only wants to get out of the situation, and if Yoongi doesn’t take the hint and drop the topic, Taehyung will tune out completely or even go as far as leaving the room. Trying to talk to him when he has that line where his mouth is supposed to be is like trying to have a conversation with a petulant child who doesn’t want to put his shoes and refuses to cooperate or even compromise out of pure spite.

If this fight was about anything else, Yoongi would just throw his hands in the air and give up, reschedule the conversation for another day, but today that expression is simply too much for him to take. He’s been seeing too much of it lately.

”For fuck’s sake, Taehyung, what the hell is it that you want?”

”I don’t know!” Taehyung exclaims, his voice rising, frantic and frustrated. Soonshim barks and scampers to her feet, startled by the sudden noise.

And then Yoongi’s focus slips, the grip he has of his temper loosening just a tiny little bit, yet still enough for his mouth to spit out something he knows he’ll regret for a long, long time.

”No shit, hasn’t that always been the running theme with you?”

Deathly silence falls upon them like a bucketful of ice water, and Yoongi’s heart twists in horror because he knows he’s fucked up, and god, he’s fucked up bad.

”Oh fuck you,” Taehyung hisses, eyes filling with the tears he’s been holding for the entirety of their conversation, and storms out of the kitchen. Yoongi runs after him, anxiety gripping him so tight it’s impossible to breathe.

”Wait, I’m sorry, baby, I didn’t mean that, I…”

Taehyung spins around so suddenly that Yoongi nearly bumps into him. ”You know what? I think you did.” He wipes his tears off with the sleeve of his sweater in a sharp, angry movement, and fixes his burning eyes on Yoongi. ”And do not call me that anymore.”

The sound the door makes when Taehyung slams it shut is louder than anything Yoongi has ever heard before.

 

 

pause; rewind

 

 

On the day before his birthday, Taehyung gets a text from Yoongi asking if he can spare his boyfriend a couple of hours of his night. Taehyung doesn’t exactly need much persuading, so once the clock strikes nine, he waves goodbye to his family and slips out of the house, ignoring the knowing look he gets from Saebin. Yoongi is waiting for Taehyung in his parents’ car at the end of the street, and Taehyung greets him with a peck on the lips as soon as he gets into the car.

”Where are we going?” he asks when Yoongi starts to drive, heading out of the city.

”Outdoors,” Yoongi replies, wrinkling his nose as if to say he’s still on the fence about his own idea. ”I have a feeling I might regret this but there’s this place I wanted to show you. I think you’ll like it.”

’Outdoors’ turns out to mean a small tower in the mountains just outside of Daegu. Yoongi isn’t sure if it’s meant for stargazing or birdwatching, but either way, it offers a breathtaking view of their entire hometown and the clear, star-studded night sky. Yoongi shivers even though he’s dressed for an arctic expedition, yet he doesn’t complain about the cold even once. On the contrary, he looks damn pleased with himself when he finds out that he was right about Taehyung loving this place. And, well, Yoongi being a weakling when faced with cold just gives Taehyung the perfect excuse to wind his arms around him from behind to share some body heat, and Yoongi really seems to appreciate that, judging by the way he nestles himself closer to Taehyung’s chest and lets out a pleased little sigh.

”How do you even know about this place?” Taehyung asks, hooking his chin on the curve between Yoongi’s neck and shoulder.

”My Grandpa really liked hiking and often brought me along when I was a kid,” Yoongi says. ”We came here a lot since he and Grandma lived nearby. This place was where we’d always eat the kimbap Grandma packed for us.”

Taehyung hums. The mental image of a tiny Yoongi munching on kimbap with his grandfather is endearing, and being the family person he is, Taehyung wants to ask more, but he notices the past tense and the slight shift in the atmosphere and decides to save it for another time. ”But shouldn’t we have hiked here in that case?” he teases. Yoongi scoffs, knocking the side of Taehyung’s head with his.

”Ungrateful brat,” he huffs, though it comes out without any actual bite. ”I like you but not enough to die from hypothermia on a mountain hike. I’ve got to draw the line somewhere.”

”You like me, huh?” Taehyung’s pretty sure he’s radiating. At least his ears are, they feel so hot.

Yoongi huffs again, flicking his bangs off his face in a way that Taehyung knows is a sign of embarrassment. ”Well, yeah,” Yoongi mutters. ”I thought that was clear by now.”

”Yeah, but this is the first time you’ve actually said it,” Taehyung says with a grin, and turns his head to whisper in Yoongi’s ear. ”I like you too. A lot.”

The whisper makes Yoongi shiver, but he still sighs like being in this situation is the world’s greatest pain. Taehyung smiles to himself, chest swelling with affection. ”Should we go back to the car to warm up for a bit?” he suggests, nosing the side of Yoongi’s face. ”Since I like you a little too much to let you freeze yourself for my sake.”

They relocate in the backseat of the car, Yoongi reaching out between the front seats to crank up the heating and turn on the radio, Epik High’s new album Shoebox starting to play. Taehyung watches in confusion as Yoongi continues to fumble around, looking strangely nervous. It all makes sense once he produces a small box from the glove box and hands it to Taehyung.

”Um, I just saw this at the store and it reminded me of you. But if you don’t like it or whatever, I can take it back, no big deal,” Yoongi says, scratching the side his neck. How he expects Taehyung not to like whatever is hidden under the silver wrapping paper is a great mystery. At this point Yoongi could give Taehyung an old sock and Taehyung would still love it. ”Anyway, happy birthday, Tae.”

When Taehyung tears off the wrapping paper, he isn’t surprised to discover that Yoongi’s gift is far from an old sock. It’s a silver necklace with an elephant pendant the size of Taehyung’s thumb nail.

”I thought it was fitting, since you kind of had me at the elephant thing, and…” Yoongi trails off, adorably flustered as he brings up a hand to mess with his own fringe. Who would have thought that Taehyung’s elephant trick would get him a man, and not just any man but Min Yoongi? Not Taehyung, that’s for sure. He sort of wants to tease Yoongi for it, but right now he simply lacks the mental capacity to think of anything suitably witty to say, which means that teasing is out of the question.

”Thank you,” he says, feeling a smile spread across his lips. ”I love it. I really do.”

Relief crosses Yoongi’s face the same way it did the morning he asked Taehyung to be his boyfriend, and Taehyung wonders why, but before he can ask about it, Yoongi speaks. ”Aren’t you supposed to put it on?”

Taehyung snorts. ”Aren’t you supposed to put it on me?” he points out, holding out the box. ”It’s the rule, you can’t ignore it.”

Yoongi scoffs and rolls his eyes but obeys anyway. He takes the necklace out of the box with careful fingers, opens the clasp and slips the chain around Taehyung’s neck. He even takes his time adjusting the chain so that the clasp is at the back of Taehyung’s neck and the elephant rests below his collarbones. ”Happy now?” he asks, his hands moving down to Taehyung’s waist.

Taehyung hums noncommittally. ”Almost,” he says. ”See, this birthday party is still missing one thing.”

Before Yoongi can call him an ungrateful brat again, Taehyung leans in to shut him up with a kiss.

 

 

pause; fast-forward

 

 

It’s strange how the world goes on even though Yoongi feels like it’s ended.

His life, post-apocalypse, doesn’t look all that different. Although the lack of sleep takes its toll, as does the emotional exhaustion, Yoongi still manages to function somehow. He wakes up, goes to work, does what he does, goes home, sleeps, and keeps repeating that cycle. He feels like he’s missing a limb or two but no one seems to notice because Yoongi still copes, still gets his work done and doesn’t act much different from usual.

Namjoon, however, does pick up on something. “What’s wrong?” he asks when they’re in the middle of mixing. “Don’t tell me nothing is. I know something’s up when you’re all… mellow. You don’t even glare properly.”

Yoongi stares at the computer screen, at the track he’s trying to work on. “It’s nothing,” he says. “I just haven’t been sleeping lately.”

It isn’t a lie, but it also isn’t the truth and Namjoon seems to notice that, although he doesn’t call Yoongi out on it. Yoongi thinks Namjoon is going to drop it when he switches the topic and asks for a second opinion on what he’s done with the bridge, but he’s wrong. After a couple of minutes of silence, Namjoon speaks again, this time delivering a critical hit.

”How’s Taehyung, by the way? Now that I think about it, I haven’t heard from him in a few weeks. Are the kids at his school giving him a hard time?”

In Namjoon’s defense, it really doesn’t seem like he’s playing Hoseok’s version of Minesweeper and asking Yoongi questions figure out what’s wrong and where exactly the mine is hiding. Namjoon just sounds casual and genuinely curious. It might even be that he asked about Taehyung because he wanted to cheer Yoongi up by bringing up his favorite conversational topic. Unfortunately for him, this time the question lands straight on the mine, and the game’s already over on his first turn.

It’s been four days since their fight and Yoongi hasn’t heard from Taehyung since. He’s tried to text him and apologize, but Taehyung while Taehyung has at least read the messages, he hasn’t replied. Under normal circumstances Taehyung isn’t the type to hold grudges or stay mad for very long because his anger tends to simmer down very quickly, leaving him feeling lonely and miserable and craving affection, but this time’s different. This time Yoongi crossed the line and cut too deep, stabbed Taehyung right where he knows it hurts the most.

”I don’t know,” Yoongi mutters, hoping Namjoon will take the hint and drop the topic.

But the thing about Namjoon is that he’s a worrier, even when it goes against his own better judgement. He sucks at dealing with other people’s emotions but constantly finds himself neck-deep in emotional crises that he isn’t equipped to handle, all because he simply can’t look away when he senses that something isn’t quite right.

”Is everything okay between you two?” Namjoon asks, hesitant now that he knows he’s standing on a land mine that’ll blow up if he makes a wrong move. ”I mean, you remind me of a deflated balloon these days, and Taehyung’s been uncharacteristically distant, so I was just wondering…”

”We broke up.”

As he clicks through the layers and messes with the sliders to keep himself distracted, Yoongi realizes that this is the first time he’s said it out loud. They broke up. He and Taehyung broke up. They really did.

In his peripheral vision Yoongi sees Namjoon close his mouth and then open it again, close it and open it, unable to wrap his head around the news bomb that Yoongi just dropped. Though Yoongi’s had some time to try and come to terms with it, he can still relate.

”Are you serious?” Namjoon finally asks, staring at Yoongi like he’s just waiting for him to cackle and say it’s all just a stupid prank. His reaction would probably have pissed Yoongi off, if not for the fact that he and Taehyung really did pull that prank on their friends one April Fool’s a couple of years ago. Namjoon was the only one who actually fell for it, and now Yoongi wonders what made him and Taehyung think anything about it was funny. There’s nothing funny about this situation Yoongi is currently in.

”Shit,” Namjoon mutters, mostly to himself, when Yoongi doesn’t say anything. ”But why? What happened?”

And there it is once again, the million dollar question that no one seems to know how to answer. ”I don’t know,” Yoongi says and continues to stare at the screen without actually seeing anything. ”I’m still trying to figure it out myself.”

Namjoon presses his lips into a line, looking lost and completely out of his comfort zone. As expected, this isn’t his area of expertise, and Yoongi bets that he’s wishing that Hoseok or Seokjin would materialize in front of him and take over. ”Maybe it’s just temporary,” he offers, rubbing the back of his neck. ”What I’m saying is that you guys have been together for… shit, I don’t even remember how long.” In true Namjoon-esque fashion, he actually stops to do the math. ”Eight years, right? Anyway, maybe you’ll get back together. You were so good together, I mean, fucking perfect. It’s not like you can just… break up. I mean… It makes no sense. Why would you two ever break up? I don’t get it.”

If Yoongi’s heart and life weren’t in bloody pieces, he might find it in himself to feel bad for Namjoon. He looks so lost and confused, like he’s just been told that something he’s believed in for his whole life has been proved false. The Earth isn’t flat, Pluto isn’t a planet, Kim Taehyung and Min Yoongi are no longer together.

It’s befitting, considering how about two years ago Namjoon even wrote a song about Yoongi and Taehyung. He denies it to this day and will most likely continue to do so on his deathbed, which Yoongi understands one hundred per cent — Yoongi sure as hell would never admit to such a thing. Once again in Namjoon’s defense, the song was actually about the concept of true love and how he personally used to not believe in it, but he didn’t conceal his source of inspiration well enough to keep a certain Kim Taehyung form connecting the dots and decoding the metaphors. Yoongi actually helped Namjoon out with that song but even he didn’t put two and two together until Taehyung first heard it and broke into a grin halfway through the chorus.

The thing is, among their circle of friends, Yoongi and Taehyung have set the standard for a long-lasting relationship. Even as everyone else around them kept falling in and out of love, getting together and breaking up, reuniting and breaking up again, he and Taehyung stayed together through thick and thin. It was something of an universally accepted fact among their friends that the world would end sooner than Taehyung and Yoongi’s relationship, and it was nothing out of ordinary for someone to casually mention their wedding, future kids or a house with a view of the sea, as if those things were just a matter of time, something bound to happen sooner or later.

And yeah, maybe that talk got to Yoongi too, and maybe that’s what went wrong. Maybe he started to feel complacent, a little too secure, maybe he started to take Taehyung for granted.

Maybe that’s why Yoongi’s grip on the mouse is so tight and the taste in his mouth so bitter. Maybe that’s why he can’t think of anything to say to Namjoon who’s looking at Yoongi like he’s still expecting this to be nothing but a more elaborate version of the old April Fool’s prank.

Yoongi wishes he could tell Namjoon that, laugh in his face for falling for the same thing twice and then call Taehyung so they could laugh at Namjoon together. He really, really wishes he could do that right now because he misses Taehyung’s laugh so much that just thinking about it hurts. He wonders if he’ll ever get to hear it again.

 

 

pause; rewind

 

 

When Taehyung finds out that Jimin and Hoseok have finally (fucking finally) gotten their act together and started dating right under Taehyung and Yoongi’s noses, Taehyung has to admit he’s a tiny little bit offended. Jimin and Hoseok were his project, and after putting so many hours into building up Jimin’s courage and squashing insecurities like moles as they popped up, Taehyung thinks he deserved better than walking in on the two when he comes back from Daegu one fine Friday night in late January.

”I thought you weren’t coming back until Sunday,” Jimin squeaks as he haphazardly tosses Hoseok his shirt and Hoseok pulls his hands out of Jimin’s pants.

Taehyung’s eye twitches, and he’s immensely grateful he didn’t make that food run on his way back because who knows what he would have witnessed if he’d walked through that door ten minutes later. He lowers his duffel bag on the ground and tries his pockets to make sure he has his phone and money. ”Okay, yeah, I’ll just get going so you two can just… carry on and enjoy yourselves,” Taehyung says, turning towards the door.

”Sorry we didn’t tell you, but it’s only been a couple of months and…” Hoseok clicks his mouth shut when Taehyung whips around to gape at the duo.

”Excuse me? A couple of months?”

Taehyung can’t believe this. This was his project. His project has been successful for a couple of months yet it didn’t even bother to deliver him the happy news. Oh, the betrayal, how sour it tastes.

Jimin gets up and smacks Hoseok with a cushion, hissing something incomprehensible, and hauls Taehyung into his room, shutting the door behind himself.

”I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, I really am,” Jimin says urgently, holding Taehyung’s both hands in his. ”It’s just, it was complicated, okay? I didn’t really know what we were until the day you left for Daegu so I wanted to tell you when you came back, but…” Jimin trails off, pursing his lips.

”Okay… So you’ve been together since the start of winter break?” That’s not too bad. Taehyung can accept that.

Jimin shifts his weight from one foot to the other. ”Well… officially we’ve been together since then, yeah,” he says slowly.

”And unofficially…?”

”That’s… um. That’s a bit tricky. I said it was complicated, right? Hard to define, when exactly…” Jimin clears his throat when Taehyung shoots him a pointed look. ”Look, Taetae, the thing is… We may have, um, had some sex on my birthday night. And then, uh… a few times after that.”

Wait. Hold up. Hold the fuck up. ”What?”

”I’m so sorry, Taetae!” Jimin yelps. ”The only reason I didn’t tell you was because it was so embarrassing that I had my brains fucked out on the couch while you and Yoongi were right next door, but I swear…” Jimin shuts up, letting out a squeaky sound of pure humiliation when he realizes that he’s revealed more than Taehyung ever wanted or needed to know.

Taehyung kind of wants to scream. He’d thought Jimin and Hoseok were playing Wii that night because that’s what it sounded like, and that’s what they were doing when Taehyung last saw them, but as it turns out, fact is always stranger than fiction. It’d be one thing if Jimin and Hoseok had done the deed in Jimin’s room, behind closed doors. Taehyung would have had absolutely no problem whatsoever with that, but knowing they did it in the living room where Taehyung and Yoongi could easily have walked in on them (in fact it’s a miracle neither of them did) is just a tad too much.

It’s too much. Taehyung isn’t equipped to handle this on his first night back in Seoul, not at all, nope.

”Okay, so. First things first, congratulations, Chimchim, I’m happy for you and we’ll celebrate this later,” Taehyung says. ”But now… now I need to get out. So. You guys have fun but, like, it’d be super cool if you could make it to your bed this time.”

Jimin whimpers, still mortified, but gives a nod and another apology.

Fifteen minutes later, Taehyung finds himself sprawled across Yoongi’s bed while the elder moves around the room, unpacking his bags.

”Jimin said they had sex on the couch on his birthday,” Taehyung mutters numbly, staring up at the ceiling. ”I thought they were playing Wii. It sounded like they were playing Wii. They were playing Wii when we went into my room. I really thought they were playing Wii.”

Taehyung hears Yoongi pause. ”So basically we were listening to them fucking while we were making out? Isn’t that like… accidental voyeurism?”

Okay, Taehyung hadn’t thought about it from that angle, but now that he has, he can’t stop thinking about it like that. He lets out a strangled cry and buries his face into Yoongi’s pillow. It smells like Yoongi’s shampoo, almond and vanilla, and that makes Taehyung feel a little better. For a second, at least.

”Does this mean Jimin and Hoseok moan like Wii characters?”

That little shit. Taehyung sits up and flings the pillow at the cackling Yoongi who’s clearly enjoying Taehyung’s emotional distress a bit too much. Taehyung throws another pillow just for good measure, though that one Yoongi manages to dodge. ”You are the worst,” Taehyung huffs. ”Why do you find my trauma so amusing?”

Yoongi is still chuckling when he crawls into the bed, and Taehyung swears he tries to resist him, he really does, but there’s only so much he can do when he is such a weak soul who has missed his boyfriend terribly. Terribly.

With Yoongi working at some small studio all through the five weeks they were in Daegu and Taehyung slaving off doing extra reading and extra online classes and extra this and that to brush up his credits and make up for what he didn’t do when he was supposed to, on top of helping out at his mother’s bakery, there was very little time for the two of them to meet. It didn’t help that Daegu had never felt bigger than it did when Taehyung and Yoongi were located on the opposite ends of the city. That’s why in addition to Taehyung’s birthday, they managed to steal time for a date a grand total of two times, and as nice as those were, they just left Taehyung craving for more.

It was a dramatic change, to say the least, going from being separated by just two blocks to an entire city stretching out between them. To his horror, Taehyung sometimes caught himself looking forward to the day he was set to go back, and he felt absolutely horrible for it. He had missed his family so much the entire fall term and had been counting days to see them. But even though he was so incredibly happy to be back home with his family and far, far away from his university, he couldn’t seem to swat away the small rain cloud that followed him everywhere. It felt a little silly, missing someone he’d only known for a few months so bad, especially when he’d lived his life just fine when he hadn’t yet met Yoongi, but… that was then. That was before.

So all things considered, maybe Taehyung doesn’t put up such a big fight when Yoongi cups his face and captures his lips in a kiss. Maybe Taehyung doesn’t put up any fight whatsoever. Maybe he just melts into the kiss right away, putty in Yoongi’s hands that caress his cheeks. He missed this so much, he missed Yoongi so damn much that his entire body shivers and hums in satisfaction, arching into Yoongi now that he’s finally right there, soft and warm and real.

Taehyung doesn’t resist when he’s pushed back until they are both horizontal, Yoongi half on top of him, and Taehyung and still wants to get closer, until he can feel Yoongi’s heartbeat right against his own. His heart warm, full and content as their lips move together to an unhurried rhythm. It’s all very slow-motion, lingering and reverent, the kind of kiss that defies the concept of time, so by the time they break it, breaths mingling and foreheads pressed together, Taehyung doesn’t know if it’s been minutes or hours. His lips are tingly and swollen, and his limbs feel like some sort of heavy pudding but in a good way, like he’s just waking up from a long, nice nap.

It does feel like a daydream, the way Yoongi keeps looking at him, thumb brushing across Taehyung’s cheekbone. He looks at Taehyung the way he does sometimes, his eyes soft and fond but hesitant, like he’s debating whether or not he should voice what’s on his mind.

”You know,” Yoongi murmurs, ”I really missed you.”

The quiet little admission washes away the last trace of Taehyung’s uneasiness. It feels stupid now, after that kiss, those eyes and those words, but a part of Taehyung was still wondering if maybe he was the only one with a raincloud stuck above him, if maybe he was the only one who’d been moping and longing and counting days. He wondered if he’d missed Yoongi more than Yoongi had missed him, but now he thinks he knows the answer.

”I missed you too.”

He curls up against Yoongi’s chest, tucking his head in the crook of his shoulder, and inhales deeply, breathing in his boyfriend’s scent. Yoongi’s fingers card through his hair slowly, his heartbeat like a lullaby in Taehyung’s ears.

Maybe Taehyung is nervous about starting his new part-time job on Monday, and maybe he’s already dreading the start of his second year of being stuck with a major he might secretly hate a little (or a lot), but right now, in this little bubble, with Yoongi’s arms wrapped around him and their legs tangled up, he feels warm and safe.

It’s not quite like home, the feeling isn’t the same, but that doesn’t mean it’s anything less.

 

 

pause; fast-forward

 

 

[08:33PM] (ICE#3) Hobi:
ok so joon called me just now and told me to call you

[08:33PM] (ICE#3) Hobi:
so i did but you didn’t pick up

[08:33PM] (ICE#3) Hobi:
and this situation is about 101 shades of concerning so what’s going on

[09:11PM] (ICE#3) Hobi:
hate to be that guy but i’m gonna ask taetae if you don’t answer me within the next hour istg min yoongi

[09:11PM] Yoongi:
don’t ask him. i’m ok

[09:12PM] (ICE#3) Hobi:
ok wtf yoongi time to explain

[09:13PM] (ICE#3) Hobi:
i’ve barely heard from you in weeks and then i get a very weird call from kim namjoon who just cryptically tells me to call you bc you need me

[09:14PM] (ICE#3) Hobi:
and why did you reply the second i said i’d ask tae

[09:15PM] (ICE#3) Hobi:
i know it’s been weird between you lately but we all know he loves you so why am i not allowed to contact your boyfriend when you obviously need him

[09:16PM] Yoongi:
bc we broke up

[09:21PM] (ICE#3) Hobi:
i’ll be there in 20. don’t fight me on this

 

When Yoongi comes home from work, early because he couldn’t handle the way Namjoon kept looking at him like he expected Yoongi to break down, he grabs a sheet of paper, sits down, and starts to make a list. There are things that need to be organized, so many practical matters that need to be taken care of, and he feels like such things fall into his sector of responsibilities.

That part of Yoongi that wasn’t deep in denial thought it was all over when Taehyung walked out that first night, but he now realizes it isn’t that simple. Ending a relationship that’s over eight years old is less like a breakup and more like a divorce: it isn’t just about the moment someone decides enough’s enough and walks out — it’s about everything that comes after. Yoongi can’t believe it didn’t occur to him earlier that there’s so much to do before a long-term relationship can be brought to a clean conclusion, but now the reality is catching up to him fast.

He starts off by listing things that he and Taehyung need to divide. First of all, there’s this apartment they’ve been renting together for years, splitting the rent, safety deposit and all bills. Then there’s all the furniture they bought together and collected over the years, some of it dating back to their first shared apartment they moved into Yoongi had just graduated. There’s also the car that was originally Yoongi’s and on paper it still is, but it’s been almost exclusively in Taehyung’s use for a couple of years. There’s their savings account, the money they’ve been putting aside while talking about a house with a garden big enough for Soonshim and her future siblings to run around without a leash amid apple (or pear) trees. And then there’s of course Soonshim, although Yoongi has already accepted the inevitable fact that losing Taehyung means losing Soonshim as well.

He’s only a few items into the list but it’s already starting to feel too much. All it seems to do is prove what Yoongi already knew: everything he and Taehyung have they have shared for years. Items that are clearly either his or Taehyung’s are hard to come by in their apartment, and the only examples of such things that Yoongi can think of straight away are their toothbrushes, laptops, tablets and phones (but not chargers), as well as Yoongi’s music equipment. Even some of their clothes are shared property — there are numerous sweaters, shirts, beanies and scarves whose original owner has long since been forgotten. Hell, they even stopped trying to keep their goddamn underwear separate about a year after moving in together, and if that doesn’t demonstrate just how tight of a unit they are (were), Yoongi doesn’t know what will.

The fact that he and Taehyung have been together for most of their adult lives (almost their entire adult lives, in Taehyung’s case) used to make Yoongi feel warm and safe, secure and grounded. Now it makes him anxious. Their lives are so tightly intertwined that it’s hard to tell which parts belong to who anymore, and although that never posed a problem before, it now makes everything impossibly complicated. How are they supposed to cut each other out of their lives when there hasn’t been a clear line between ’Yoongi’ and ’Taehyung’ for so long?

And what if they do manage to draw that line and make that cut? What happens after that? Yoongi is terrified of the void he knows he’ll be left with because he can already hear it whispering and sighing in the corners of the apartment and he does not like it one bit. After all’s been said and done, he’s sure his life will have more holes in it than anything of substance, and he isn’t sure how he’s ever going to be able to patch it up, or even cover up the Taehyung-shaped spaces left behind.

This isn’t a breakup. It feels more like a divorce, but it isn’t that either. This is a goddamn amputation with no anesthesia whatsoever, performed by a surgeon who has no fucking clue what he’s doing or where he’s supposed to cut.

If not for Soonshim’s mad dash for the door, Yoongi wouldn’t have heard Hoseok’s arrival. He hides the list under the table cloth and forces down a deep breath and then another one for good measure. He hears the thud as Hoseok’s sports bag lands on the floor, and then Hoseok’s high-pitched voice cooing greetings to Soonshim, eliminating any remaining bit of hope that the visitor might be Taehyung after all.

”How does everyone know the keycode?” Yoongi asks when Hoseok comes into the kitchen.

”I asked Jimin,” Hoseok says, making a beeline for the fridge with the plastic bag he’s brought along. ”I wasn’t sure you’d let me in so I took precautionary measures.”

Yoongi doesn’t say anything to that, just watches as Hoseok stores the contents of the plastic bag — beer, beer, and some more beer — in the fridge, leaving out two cans. He hands one of them to Yoongi and sits down at the table, and Yoongi pulls his chair back when their knees knock together.

In his usual style, Hoseok doesn’t waste time and cuts straight to the chase. ”What happened?” he asks softly.

Yoongi stares at their reflection on the dark window, picking at the ring of the can with his index finger. Third time’s the charm but Yoongi still has no answer to that question.

”I don’t know,” he says, and wonders if he will ever know.

 

 

pause; rewind

 

 

Their 100th day anniversary fell on a day when they were both still in Daegu. Despite their best efforts, they couldn’t get their schedules to line up for the day because it also happened to be Taehyung’s grandfather’s birthday, so they celebrated it simply with an extra long phone call late at night, and that was that. If he’s completely honest with himself, Taehyung was a little sad about it for a second, but by the time he came back to Seoul, he had already forgotten all about the minor disappointment and he really was going to just move on. It turns out Yoongi had a different plan in mind, and Taehyung can’t say he minds at all.

”You aren’t supposed to be here,” Yoongi says when Taehyung drops by for a surprise visit on a Saturday night. Taehyung smells food and hears music playing inside.

”Oh really? But something tells me this is exactly where I’m supposed to be,” Taehyung singsongs, standing on his tiptoes and craning his neck to see past Yoongi.

Yoongi’s response is to literally shut the door in Taehyung’s face. Taehyung stares at the door for a few seconds, speechless, and then bursts out laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Rude, he thinks, but also kind of cute, in a twisted way — just like Yoongi.

 

[06:04PM] My Yogi:
take two laps around the block and come back

[06:04PM] Taetae:
nope my feelings are hurt i will never come back

[06:04PM] Taetae:
my love you had your chance now its gone

[06:04PM] Taetae:
we could have had it all

[06:05PM] Taetae:
… rolling in the deep~

[06:05PM] My Yogi:
jfc tae

[06:05PM] Taetae:
you had my heart inside of your hand

[06:06PM] My Yogi:
who told you to drop by unannounced

[06:06PM] Taetae:
and you played it to the beat

[06:06PM] Taetae:
uhmmmmmmm you did?? ”tae baby you can come here whenever you want the door’s always open for you”

[06:07PM] My Yogi:
that’s one extra lap for you for lying and making up quotes

[06:07PM] My Yogi:
i have never called you baby

[06:07PM] Taetae:
but you could yk i’m js

[06:12PM] My Yogi:
three laps and i’ll let you in

[06:12PM] My Yogi:
also sorry i slammed the door in your face

[06:12PM] My Yogi:
i panicked

[06:13PM] Taetae:
ok but i’ll have to ask adele if she agrees that you deserve a second chance

[06:14PM] My Yogi:
just finish the laps and get your ass over here

 

So Taehyung obeys like the exemplary boyfriend he strives to be and walks around Yoongi’s block three times just as instructed with a stupid, giddy smile stuck on his face. There’s a flower shop across the street, and Taehyung walks past it two times before he gets an idea, skipping across the street when he makes it to his third and final lap.

This time Yoongi doesn’t shut the door in Taehyung’s face. Instead, he stares at the single yellow daffodil Taehyung holds out to him, brows raised. ”I asked the florist across the street what flower I should give my boyfriend to say that I forgive him and want to start over,” Taehyung explains, ”and she gave me this.”

Yoongi sighs heavily and shakes his head, but he isn’t fooling Taehyung — he’s got that telltale quiver in his lips, giving away amusement and fondness. ”So Adele gave us her blessings?” he asks and takes the flower, making a show of smelling it before pulling Taehyung inside and shutting the door.

Taehyung has to take a second to remember what this Adele thing was about, but once he does, he gives a solemn nod. ”Yeah, she said I’d be an idiot to let a man this good slip through my fingers.”

He eats up the faint blush that rises up to Yoongi’s cheeks. ”Well, at least she knows.”

There’s dinner waiting in the kitchen, homemade burgers and some fries on the side, and a playlist of handpicked songs playing in the background. Yoongi acts like it’s no big deal, says it didn’t take that long or require much effort, but Taehyung knows better than to buy it. He wasn’t expecting anything like this, he just dropped by for some kisses and snuggling and maybe some low-key groping, but now he feels a little choked up. Kim Taehyung, almost moved to tears by burgers. This is what his life has come to, though he can’t bring himself to complain.

It isn’t just the burgers, though. It’s also the way Yoongi takes out a tall glass, fills it with water and puts Taehyung’s daffodil in it, disappears into his room for a second and returns without the flower. It’s the sum total of all these things, both big and small, that Yoongi keeps doing that make Taehyung feel important and valuable in a very special way.

”Why are you smiling like that?” Yoongi asks.

”No particular reason,” Taehyung says. ”I guess you just make me very happy.” Plus I’m stupidly in love with you.

Yoongi averts his gaze, doing that shy fluffing thing to his hair. ”Yeah, whatever,” he says. ”Let’s just eat before the food gets cold.”

Taehyung nods, covering his smile with the back of his hand.

 

 

pause; fast-forward

 

 

A week passes before Taehyung comes back again.

”About our stuff,” Yoongi says, flattening his palms on his thighs as he sits on the couch, enough space for two people left between him and Taehyung. ”We should figure out what to do about it. Is there anything you want?”

Taehyung’s face is unreadable. Soonshim is sleeping on the couch between them, her head in his lap, and he threads his fingers through her fur at such consistent and measured intervals that he must be keeping up the steady rhythm on purpose. ”I just want Soonshim,” he says, his eyes fixed on the corner of their TV stand.

Yoongi expected as much. This entire time he has known that Taehyung would be taking Soonshim, but still, having his hunch confirmed hurts. ”Of course you can have her,” he says, squeezing the words out. Taehyung was always better at taking care of Soonshim anyway, he’s the bigger dog person, and more importantly, his work schedule is much more suitable for her, so there’s no reason for Yoongi to put up a fight. ”What else do you want? The car, probably? You can have it, I never use it anyway.”

A few beats pass. Taehyung still doesn’t look at Yoongi, still keeps a careful mask on his face and focuses on petting Soonshim. ”Nothing,” he says. ”I just need Soonshim and my clothes.”

His tone and posture give Yoongi a bad feeling, yet he pushes on. ”What about the apartment?” He pauses to hesitate, biting his lip. ”And the savings?”

Mentioning the savings gets a reaction out of Taehyung. He flinches, as if the word causes him physical pain. ”Keep the apartment, safety deposit, whatever else there is, I’ll move out,” he says, his voice impossibly tight. ”And you can take the money too.”

Yoongi holds back a frustrated sigh. ”The apartment’s one thing, but you’ve got to take at least half of the savings,” he says. ”There’s a lot of money in that account, Taehyung, you know that. We saved it together so we have to split it.”

”Just keep it,” Taehyung grits out. ”I don’t care about the money and I definitely do not want it.”

Even though some impatient part of Yoongi wants to grab Taehyung by the shoulders and shake him, a much larger part of him understands why Taehyung is being like this and shares the sentiment. Taehyung doesn’t want to split the money because when they opened the bank account four years ago, they vowed not to touch the money until they’d saved enough to buy or build their dream house. That money is (was?) sacred because it symbolizes (symbolized?) their future, so dividing it feels not only final but also horribly wrong. It’s like robbing a metaphorical piggy bank: once they smash a hammer into it, they’ll never get it back.

”I don’t want the money either but we’ve got to do something about it,” Yoongi says. ”I can’t just keep it, so…”

”Then donate it,” Taehyung says. There’s a sharp edge to his tone now, and the look he shoots Yoongi feels like a challenge. ”If this really is the end, just give the money to the animal shelter we got Soonshim from.”

Yoongi stares at him, lips slightly parted, his patience fraying too soon, too fast. When the hell did he get this impatient with Taehyung? ”Could you at least try to be practical about this?” His voice remains mostly stable but he feels the tremble in it, and he knows Taehyung will pick up on it as well and recognize it as barely contained frustration. ”If you don’t want the apartment, you’ll have to look for a new place to live, which means you’re going to need the money.”

”I don’t need the money, Yoongi. I’ve got a job and I can take care of myself now, so just stop.” Taehyung bites down on the inside of his cheek hard. ”Do we really have to do this today? I just came to get some papers and more clothes.”

”It’s better if we just get this over and done with as quickly as possible,” Yoongi says, and instantly regrets his phrasing when Taehyung turns to look at him.

”’Over and done with’? ’As quickly as possible’?” Taehyung repeats slowly, as if to test whether he really heard it right. ”We were together for eight years and now it’s been two weeks since we broke up and you’re already in a hurry to split our property and move on?”

”You know that’s not what I meant,” Yoongi groans, dragging a hand through his hair as he stands up. ”What I mean is that this is something we have to do anyway and prolonging it isn’t going to make it any easier.”

What Yoongi also means is that the rug he built his life on has been pulled out from him, his life’s been turned upside down and now he desperately needs to sort things out, stabilize the situation and regain his footing. He has no clue how he’s going to live from now on, how he’s supposed to pick up the leftover pieces and use them to rebuild his life after this, so right now he needs something concrete to show him the direction. He needs to know who’s going to keep the apartment, who will take the car and how their CD collection will be divided so that he can feel a little bit more in control, and he wishes Taehyung could just help him out a little, just a tiny little bit. Unfortunately that seems to be too much to ask.

Taehyung chews the inside of cheek, a sure sign that he’s trying to hold his temper and keep himself from saying something he knows he’ll regret later. ”Then I’ll make it super easy for us both,” he says, averting his eyes again. ”I want Soonshim and everything that’s clearly mine. You can keep everything else, and I really mean everything. The apartment, furniture, money, car, rings, and whatever food’s left in the freezer, it’s all yours. Can I go now?”

Anxiety and frustration swirl around in Yoongi’s stomach like the beginning of a storm, and Yoongi tries to count to ten but only makes it to six.

”Can’t you just stop and think for a second? What the hell are you planning on doing from now on?” Yoongi’s words come out louder and sharper than intended, making Taehyung wince, but Yoongi is too lost in secondhand anxiety to rein his temper back in. Taehyung has no plan, no direction, and he’s being reckless, emotional and short-sighted. Yoongi truly wants to shake him now because what he needs more than anything is to know that even after everything’s been said and done, Taehyung will be okay, one way or another.

But that, too, must be too much to ask.

”Frankly, Yoongi, I have no clue,” Taehyung says, his voice now louder as well. ”I’m very sorry to disappoint but you can’t just expect me to pull some kind of a five-year plan out of my ass on the spot!”

Not helping, not helping at all. At the back of his mind Yoongi knows that he’s being unreasonable and that he should know Taehyung better than this, better than to drive him up against a wall on purpose and corner him with questions he has no answers for. If Yoongi could stop himself for a second and be rational, he’d remember that Taehyung is more than capable of taking care of himself and making his own decisions, always has been, but right now Yoongi can’t think straight.

”Fine,” he snaps. ”Then do whatever the fuck you want because I’m done caring.”

”Great,” Taehyung hisses right back. ”I’m only surprised it took you this long.”

This time it’s Taehyung whose eyes are flooded with instant regret the second the words get out, and Yoongi whose weakest spot takes a critical hit. How and when did things get this bad? Or was their relationship poisonous to begin with, all weapons simply hidden from view, waiting for the worst possible moment?

”What the fuck’s that supposed to mean?”

Taehyung looks absolutely crushed, devastated, and Yoongi just knows that the words hurt him almost just as much as they hurt Yoongi. ”It’s supposed to mean nothing,” Taehyung chokes out as the first tears roll down his face. ”Really, I… I swear I didn’t mean that, I’m just. God, I’m so fucking sorry, Yoongi, I can’t believe… I can’t believe I said that.”

Anger evaporates from Yoongi’s body in one big whoosh, leaving him tired to the bone, too tired to even stand up. He lets himself slump down on the couch and rubs his eyes with the heels of his hands when he feels the first tears starting to leak out. Taehyung leans against the backrest, eyes closed and head lolling back, silent tears trickling down his cheeks.

It’s all there, the final page of an eight-year-old fairytale getting written as the two men cry in silence on the opposite ends of the couch, their dog looking between them, confused and alarmed. This is the end, this is their point of no return.

”I’ll take half of the money. And the car,” Taehyung sobs out. ”You can keep the apartment.”

Yoongi manages a nod. ”We can figure it out slowly.”

 

 

pause; rewind

 

 

Taehyung and Yoongi end up in Yoongi’s bed after finishing the dinner, some American thriller playing in the background although they’ve both stopped paying attention to it a while ago. Taehyung is swaying back and forth between ’awake’ and ’asleep’, eyes slipping shut every few seconds. The thought of an after-dinner nap sounds particularly tempting with Yoongi lying half on top of him, head pillowed on Taehyung’s chest, because naps with Yoongi are the best kind of naps.

The only reason Taehyung is still fighting sleep is Yoongi. He’s been acting a little strange all evening, somehow absentminded and lost in thought. It’s like he has something to stay but he doesn’t know how to say it, or if he even wants to say it at all, and it makes Taehyung extremely uneasy because he has no clue what kind of a bomb it is that Yoongi is making in his head. It could be something good, but it could just as easily be something bad as well — the look on Yoongi’s face gives nothing away.

At least Taehyung is just about positive that Yoongi isn’t about to break up with him. This isn’t a setting for a breakup, with Taehyung’s daffodil endearingly placed on Yoongi’s nightstand, Yoongi’s fingers tracing random patterns on Taehyung’s chest, and their bellies full from the dinner Yoongi must have spent a good while making. No, Yoongi isn’t going to break up with him, but the line between his eyebrows could have fooled someone — not Taehyung, obviously, but, well, someone.

So Taehyung keeps himself awake by tracing the outline of Yoongi’s spine with his fingertips as he waits, waits and waits, until…

”I might get really busy this year,” Yoongi mutters in that sleepy rumble of his, mindlessly drawing the figure eight on Taehyung’s chest. He looks troubled, eyes fixed on some spot near Taehyung’s collarbones, teeth worrying his bottom lip. ”It’s my final year and that’s already a lot, but since I’m also  starting that internship in April on top of that… I’ll be busy, yeah.”

Something cold touches Taehyung’s heart, something like fear, chasing away any and all remaining traces of drowsiness in him. He doesn’t say anything, though, and just waits for Yoongi to continue.

“I just thought you should know. I won’t have much extra time but I’ll try my best if… if you still want to be with me, regardless,” Yoongi says. “What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that I get it if you want to end things between us.”

Well, that came out of nowhere, so out of nowhere that Taehyung’s whole body freezes and his brain struggles to process what Yoongi means. Yoongi thinks Taehyung wants to break up with him? In what parallel universe would Kim Taehyung ever want that? The thought is downright outrageous. Taehyung would understand it the other way, he’d get it if Yoongi had done some thinking and decided that he wants to break up so that he can focus on more important things, but that’s not what this is.

“Why would I want to break up with you?” Taehyung asks. He sits up, forcing Yoongi to do so as well so that they can face each other. That doesn’t do much, however, because Yoongi still continues to stare at Taehyung’s collarbones instead of meeting his eyes. “What makes you think I would?”

It’s not like Taehyung didn’t already know about the internship. He was the first one Yoongi told about it back in Daegu when he’d just gotten a call from the company that wanted to scout him. Yoongi’s eyes were practically shining when he talked about it, and there was a hopeful lilt to his voice that Taehyung hadn’t heard before. He could hardly sit still, hands gesturing wildly and mouth constantly stretching out into a huge grin despite his best attempts to stay true to his character and tone it down. It was obvious, even to the dimmest individual, that the internship meant the world to Yoongi, and seeing him like that made Taehyung’s heart soar as well, proud, happy and excited for his boyfriend.

Of course he also understood that the internship would take up a whole lot of Yoongi’s time. It’s something like a part-time job at a recording company, a minimum of three or four nights a week on top of Yoongi’s usual classes and school work. Taehyung can’t even begin to imagine that workload, and he thought it was self-evident that dates would no longer be a daily thing for the time being. Still, not even for half a second did the idea of complaining about it, let alone breaking up because of it, come to his mind.

“I just wanted to put it out there,” Yoongi says. “I know I’m going to be busy and stressed as fuck, so, I don’t know, if you think it’s more hassle than it’s worth, now or at some later point… I won’t hold it against you, okay? That’s what I wanted to say.”

Taehyung can’t help but stare. He kind of wants to cry out because he can’t believe Yoongi thinks that Taehyung will inevitably get sick of him sooner or later and decide that Yoongi just isn’t worth his while, that being with him is ’more hassle than it’s worth’. It prods at Taehyung’s own bundle of insecurities too, but he ignores that because this isn’t really about him. It probably isn’t about the internship either. This is about the uncertainty and unease marring Yoongi’s face, the bottom lip that he worries with his teeth, the eyes that continue to avoid Taehyung’s. This isn’t about Taehyung’s insecurities – it’s about Yoongi’s.

This is about the doubt and worry that make an appearance every now and then, clouding Yoongi’s face and making him quiet and hesitant. Taehyung has never asked Yoongi about it, or even addressed it directly, worried that he would be overstepping his boundaries too early or making things worse by poking at the sore spot instead of giving it time to heal on its own. Now he doesn’t think he can ignore it any longer because he feels too guilty, scared that he’s somehow contributed to this. If there’s something about Taehyung himself that’s given Yoongi the idea that he’s keeping one foot out the door, prepared to flee the second things stop being all roses and rainbows, Taehyung needs to know.

“Why do you seem so convinced that I’m going to dump you?”

Yoongi’s throat bobs but he keeps his eyes fixed on the same spot – the elephant necklace, Taehyung now realizes. “It’s not that I think you’re going to dump me. All I’m saying is that I’ll understand if you do. That’s all.”

All Taehyung hears is ‘I’ll understand if one day you won’t want me anymore’, and it honestly breaks his heart. It’s like Yoongi thinks he’s already on borrowed time, nearing his expiration date and already dreading the day he gets thrown out like yesterday’s trash – and it’s only been a little over three months.

“Why?” Taehyung asks. He tries hard to keep his voice normal yet it comes out a little choked up, a little pained. It draws Yoongi’s attention, his eyes flicking up to Taehyung’s. “Why would you understand that? Where’s this even coming from?”

Yoongi breaks the eye contact again, this time looking out of the window. ”Because that’s what happened before and there’s a good chance it’ll happen again.”

”What do you mean? What happened before?”

For a long time, Yoongi stays quiet, staring at something outside the window as he strings the thoughts and words together in his head. “There was a guy, in my first year. We were together for over a year and it was pretty messy.”

Taehyung frowns. “Messy how?”

“He needed more than I could give him, I guess. More time, more attention, just, I don’t know, more. And because I couldn’t do that, I made him feel like some kind of a secondary or tertiary priority that I didn’t actually care all that much about.” Yoongi pauses to bite his lip. ”I did care, though, I just… I didn’t know how to make him feel it, you know? I tried, I really did try but it just wasn’t good enough.”

Taehyung has to fight the urge to cut in with his comments.

”It’s a really shitty feeling, caring about someone and wanting them to be happy but also seeing that no matter what you do it just… isn’t enough. And that in the end all you really do is hurt them,” Yoongi continues, and looks Taehyung in the eye. ”I don’t want a second round of that. I don’t want to hurt you the way I hurt him. That’s why I’m telling you all this.”

”But that was that and this is this,” Taehyung says. ”I’m not your ex.”

Yoongi nods. ”Yeah, you’re not. But I’m still me,” he says with a shrug. ”It’s just… I don’t ever want to make you feel that way, like I don’t care about you. Because I do, okay? I care so much about you, even though it doesn’t always come across.”

”But it does,” Taehyung argues without missing a beat. ”It does come across.”

Yoongi’s brows are furrowed when he looks at Taehyung. His expression is seven parts doubt and disbelief, three parts confusion, but there’s a sprinkle of hope somewhere in there too, perhaps even the beginnings of relief.

”It does come across. I know you care about me because you show it all the time,” Taehyung repeats, grabbing Yoongi’s hands for added emphasis. The thing about Yoongi is that the care and affection he expresses explicitly is only the very small tip of a very large iceberg. He only verbalizes a fraction of his feelings, but that doesn’t mean the rest isn’t there, hidden in plain sight. ”You took me to see the stars on my birthday even though it was December and you hate cold, and you also gave me the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten. You let me pick a movie suspiciously often even though you always say my taste sucks. And I know you don’t like burgers, which I personally can’t understand, yet you spent the whole evening making some for me, and you put the daffodil I got as a joke in a glass to keep on your nightstand, and…”

Yoongi cuts him off by covering Taehyung’s mouth with his palm. ”Okay, okay, I get it, you’ve made your point,” he huffs, cheeks burning.

Taehyung’s mildly disappointed because his list is long and he’s only just gotten started. He hasn’t even mentioned how Yoongi always tells him to text once he gets home even though it’s pretty unnecessary and pointless when they live so close by, or how Yoongi remembers weird little things about him that Taehyung doesn’t even recall telling him, or how Yoongi constantly worries about the smallest inconveniences in Taehyung’s life and tries to think of ways to make them less inconvenient. Still, Taehyung decides he can save those things for later because he’s fairly sure this won’t be the last time they’ll have a conversation like this one.

Taehyung grabs the hand covering his mouth and brings it down to his lap. ”You know, I wasn’t kidding earlier when I said you make me happy. You really do,” he says, looking Yoongi straight in the eye in hopes of conveying just how much he means it. ”I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, you’re good enough, more than good enough. That’s why it’s okay even if you get busy. I want to be with you anyway.”

Yoongi stares down at their joined hands in Taehyung’s lap for a while before looking up, finally meeting Taehyung’s eyes properly. ”Same,” he says after a while, slowly looking up. ”You make me happy and I want to be with you too. And you’re way more than just good enough for me.”

If Taehyung’s heart skips a beat or ten, there’s no one to prove it. ”Isn’t that all that matters?” he asks. “We’re happy now so let’s not worry about how or when it’ll end.”

Yoongi nods, humming. ”Yeah. You’re right.”

Although he says that, he continues to nibble on his bottom lip. Taehyung watches that for a moment before leaning forward to land a kiss on his cheek, too quick for Yoongi to duck. ”Stop that,” he says when he pulls back, grinning at Yoongi’s bewildered expression. ”Stop worrying and trust me. We’ll be okay.”

He gets in a peck on Yoongi’s other cheek, and then another one despite Yoongi’s best attempts to dodge and swat him away. Giggling, Taehyung goes in for one more that never reaches it’s target because Yoongi grabs him by the cheeks and squeezes hard enough to make Taehyung yowl.

”Cut it out, you little shit,” Yoongi says, although fondness leaks into both his voice and eyes. He rearranges his fingers from a brutal pinch to a gentle cradle, thumbs brushing over the skin of Taehyung’s cheeks in a soothing manner.

Taehyung has some comeback thought out and ready to go but he quickly loses it in the way Yoongi looks at him. It’s one of those looks that warm Taehyung up from the inside yet also make him shiver. It has him holding his breath, every nerve-ending of his body tingling and his heart thudding. Yoongi has a way of looking at a person — or at Taehyung, at least — that makes said person feel like time’s stopped and the world’s standing still around them, it too holding its breath in anticipation. It’s so soft, so warm, so affectionate, so…

Yoongi kisses him, and that too is soft, warm and affectionate. Taehyung can’t help but sigh and melt as he kisses back, body automatically moving closer until he finds himself seated in Yoongi’s lap. Taehyung feels like there’s a hand petting his heart, making it purr, and though it might sound a little weird, it’s a good feeling. It’s the best feeling.

”We’ll be okay,” Yoongi mutters against Taehyung’s lips, so quiet and subtle it almost gets swallowed up by the following kiss. But Taehyung does hear it and smiles, the words like a small victory, a step in the right direction, and an assurance Taehyung needed as well.

”Yeah,” he says. ”We’ll be just fine.”

This is not how it ends.

 

 

pause; fast-forward

 

 

This is how it ends.

One day in December, Taehyung comes with empty cardboard boxes and leaves with each of them full, a confused Soonshim in tow when he walks out of his and Yoongi’s shared home.

Hours later, Yoongi comes home to a completely empty apartment — no Taehyung but also no Soonshim — for the first time in years.

Yoongi’s plan for the night is to go to sleep early and end the day as quickly as possible. That plan is ruined when he hears someone enter the apartment. Some small, stupid part of him still hopes it might be Taehyung, but he isn’t surprised when it’s Hoseok and Namjoon who walk into the living room, heavy-looking plastic bags in their hands.

”What are you doing here?” Yoongi asks as he crawls out of his blanket cocoon on the couch and stands up. It’s a stupid question — he’s pretty sure he knows exactly why his friends are here.

”Jimin called me,” Hoseok says while Namjoon goes to take the bags to the kitchen. ”He said you could probably use some company today.”

Yoongi isn’t so sure about the company, but he’s grateful for the alcohol he can hear Namjoon loading into the fridge, and he tells himself that’s the only reason he lets Hoseok and Namjoon stay. It’s not because he feels lonely — he just likes the way soju burns on its way down.

The burn fades away after the first couple of shots, replaced by numbness that isn’t too bad either. Namjoon keeps Yoongi’s glass full, alternating between soju and beer, and Hoseok keeps the silence away, so it’s alright. Everything is alright and Yoongi is doing just fine, and judging by the buzz in his head, he might be able to stick to his original plan and pass out early after all.

The only problem is that there’s still an ache in his chest that he can’t drink away. The canary yellow wall behind the couch is another problem and it makes the first problem worse because the color is so bright and obnoxious that no matter where Yoongi looks, he can see it in his peripheral vision. He thinks it’s unfair — Taehyung should have taken that wall with him, or at least painted over it. That would have been the decent fucking thing to do, instead of just leaving Yoongi here alone with that eyesore.

”How long did it take for you to get over Jimin?” Yoongi asks Hoseok, slurring a little but sometimes he slurs even when he’s sober so it’s fine. Everything’s fine, but Hoseok still sighs, reaching out to squeeze Yoongi’s shoulder.

”You can’t compare me and Jimin to you and Taehyung. It’s totally different,” Hoseok says. ”Jimin and I were over each other long before either one of us mustered the courage to call it quits, and when we did break up, we were both just relieved. But you and Taehyung… It just isn’t the same.”

Yoongi wishes it was the same, he wishes he too could hit the ground running, but he knows Hoseok is right.

”I read somewhere that it takes three months on average to get over a break up,” Namjoon pipes in. He seems to regret it right away, judging by the way he winces at himself and hurries to pop open a beer.

Yoongi blinks, his drunk brain cells struggling to process what Namjoon just said. ”Three months?” he repeats. ”You mean, three months?”

It took Yoongi a little over three months (a little over a hundred days) to realize that he was irrevocably in love with Kim Taehyung, but according to Namjoon’s science fact of the day, he should also need three months get over it. Yoongi thinks about that as he reaches for his beer and takes a long swig.

Hoseok glares at Namjoon, causing him to shrivel up. ”On average,” Namjoon mutters.

”How many months is eight years?” Yoongi asks.

It’s a little funny, the way Namjoon looks like he’s actively trying to get swallowed by the couch. ”Ninety-six.”

That’s even funnier, and the joke just keeps getting better when Yoongi forces his sad little brain cells to perform some mental arithmetics for him. ”That means our 100th month anniversary would have been on Valentine’s Day,” he says, snorting too loudly. ”Shit, Tae would’ve made such a huge fucking deal out of it. He would’ve thought it was some sign from the universe or something. I mean, it obviously doesn’t matter anymore, but…”

He thinks it’s fucking hilarious, but neither Hoseok nor Namjoon laugh. Instead, Hoseok gets up from the floor and sits next to Yoongi on the couch. He pulls Yoongi into a tight hug, and it’s only then that Yoongi notices that his vision is a little blurry, and it isn’t because of alcohol. Yoongi has no idea how long he’s been crying.

”You’ll be okay,” Hoseok says as Namjoon leaves the room to fetch some tissues. ”But you don’t have to be okay right now.”

Yoongi isn’t okay at all, isn’t sure how he could be when half of his life is gone and suddenly there are empty spaces everywhere around the apartment. Science says it should take him three months to get over the last eight years of his life, but it sounds like a tight schedule, even for Yoongi who’s usually good with impossible deadlines.

About a hundred months ago, Yoongi forced himself to go to a party out of sheer loyalty, met Kim Taehyung, and fell asleep in his lap at the end of the night, and that is what started everything. As the closing credits of their movie start rolling down, it’s Hoseok’s shoulder Yoongi cries and falls asleep on. In his dream, he’s eight years younger and his heart stutters every single time Kim Taehyung smiles.

And that is how it ends — at least for now.