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If You Love Me, Let Me Go

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i. [******] Is A Place On Earth With You

 

Jungkook sees him first. Brilliant, sheathed all in white, looking every part the angel. Jungkook swears he does see an angel, and no, it isn’t the alcohol getting to his brain. But the angel’s head is thrown back in ecstasy, the curve of his neck as enticing as it is scandalous, having snorted a line of white powder. Angels don’t do cocaine, but if God were to make any kind of exception, he would no doubt make them for him.

A name pops up in the back of his mind. In the oblique fog of his memories.

Taehyung.

The name reverberates around the chambers of his mind, louder than the cacophony of the beats the DJ is throwing, thundering like a chorus of sirens luring unsuspecting sailors to their measly deaths. And Jungkook is entirely enraptured by the symphony that is Taehyung.

With a tunnel vision focused solely on Taehyung, he makes his way towards him then, pushing past the bodies on the dancefloor. Ignores the girl he was dancing with before. His feet are heavy, as though his shoes are weighed down by boulders the size of his clamouring heart.

The thing about Taehyung is that if he is breath-taking from far away, he’s ethereal up close. Unbelievable. The dense, flashing LED lights do him no justice. If love at first sight was possible, if Jungkook believed in fictitious tales like those, then he would have thought right then and there that he had fallen in love with Taehyung. But Taehyung is a stranger – a beautiful stranger, someone he does not know.

People don’t fall in love with strangers; they fall in lust. But that doesn’t matter, not really. Jungkook had fallen hard and fast – like a car crash, a train wreck, a calamitous disaster.

“Take a picture, it’d last longer,” comes Taehyung’s voice. Deep, soulful. Hits Jungkook right in the chest and steals the breath right out of his lungs.

Jungkook isn’t a man of many words. Doesn’t like to waste his time on people he doesn’t give two shits about. But Taehyung has him rendered speechless, and in an entirely involuntary way.

Taehyung, whose dark bandana bares his forehead and shows off how goddamn sexy he is without even seeming to try. Taehyung, whose come-hither eyes are languid, lingering on Jungkook’s figure, sliding up and down, appreciative. Taehyung, whose pretty pink lips curl into a figment of a smirk, the ghost of an invitation.

“What’s your name, huh?” Taehyung says, biting down on his bottom lip in a way that is meant to suggest he hopes Jungkook isn’t wasting his time. He sees the man sitting beside Taehyung elbow him, say something like “You better not give this kid any coke,” but in all honesty, Jungkook only registers Taehyung. Everyone else around Taehyung gets written off as not-Taehyungs, unimportant people, forgettable.

“I don’t want cocaine anyway,” Jungkook mutters, and Taehyung raises an eyebrow.

Taehyung laughs, and Jungkook’s brain does a mind-jizz or something. Jungkook tries to maintain some form of composure. Taehyung looks good when he’s bored. Taehyung looks great when he’s interested. And Taehyung looks like his beauty has transcended every known plane of reality when he’s happy, when he’s smiling, when he’s laughing.

“Well, what do you want?” Taehyung asks, rising to the bait.

“You.” Jungkook is bold. He doesn’t have much to lose. If he doesn’t have Taehyung, then he has nothing. It’s as simple as that.

“Blow me,” Taehyung replies, as though he receives valiant proposals from random strangers all the time. He probably does.

“Okay,” Jungkook says. If any of his friends were here now, they would be hauling his ass out of the VIP part of the club and to the quiet of the night for him to sober up. Jungkook is drunk on more than whatever shots he’s had tonight; no, he’s high on everything Taehyung is. “Okay, whatever you want.”

There are loud guffaws from Taehyung’s friends when Jungkook gets on his knees right in front of Taehyung.

“You’re not joking, right?” Jungkook checks. Just in case. So, he does, maybe, kind of have a modicum of self-preservation, but somehow, for some stupid reason, he’s willing to throw out all sense of rationality for Taehyung.

Taehyung replies with a lazy pat to his crotch, spreading his jeans-clad legs wider. Eyes keen on Jungkook. “Not joking, honey.”

Maybe Jungkook will regret his brazen words and his even more shameless actions later, but later is a time when Taehyung is gone, and Jungkook doesn’t want to think of later just yet. He meets Taehyung’s eyes and swears he sees a glint of recognition. There’s a bond that ties the two of them together, and he swears Taehyung knows. And if Taehyung knows, whether he cares or not, he unzips his pants in a torturously slow manner, and Jungkook’s mouth goes dry, a fist clenching tight around his heart.

Jungkook doesn’t want anyone to see this. He doesn’t want anyone seeing him pleasure Taehyung. He doesn’t want strangers looking on when Taehyung comes. Because Taehyung is his.

Because Taehyung is Jungkook’s.

Because no one deserves, not even in the slightest, to see Taehyung at his most vulnerable. Because no one deserves to have Taehyung. No one.

“You gonna spend all night thinking or what?” Taehyung asks, impatience so unlike him. Or perhaps it’s Jungkook’s presence that has him acting out.

Taehyung is a stranger, Jungkook knows this, but Taehyung feels every iota a lover when Jungkook runs his hands up Taehyung’s thighs, when Jungkook pulls Taehyung’s length out and wraps his lips around him. Taehyung is familiar on his tongue; even the salty tang leaves vestiges of remembrance.

There’s a lot of things Jungkook would like to say to Taehyung, but he also has Taehyung’s dick in his mouth, so.

He settles for deep-throating Taehyung, meeting Taehyung’s fiery gaze, and Taehyung stares back, poker-faced as though he couldn’t care less for the bitch boy sucking his dick. But then Jungkook pinches Taehyung’s inner thigh, and Taehyung lets out a deep moan that has everyone in hearing vicinity hot and bothered.

It takes only a few minutes from then to reach Taehyung’s climax. When Jungkook has successfully sucked Taehyung off, swallowing Taehyung’s come without a care, Taehyung is quick to zip up his pants and stand up.

Jungkook sees past the mask of apathy. Probably received the best blow of his life – the least Taehyung could do is say thanks.

Getting up to his feet, Jungkook feels an odd urge to embrace Taehyung. Perhaps they had something in a past life, if reincarnation was real. Perhaps they are lovers in an alternate universe, in a realm distant from this one. Perhaps.

Jungkook looks at Taehyung, feels his heart blossom with warmth. Grabs Taehyung’s hand, just holds him in his palm. A perfect fit, if Jungkook were to intertwine their fingers. The millisecond of intimacy – somehow far too intimate for Taehyung, whose dick he had just sucked – has Taehyung ripping away from Jungkook, affronted.

“Fuck off,” Taehyung says, finality in his voice, brutality in the silence between the syllables. Behind him, his entourage make oohs and ahs, enjoying the shit-show more than they should.

Jungkook rolls his eyes. Flips his middle finger at Taehyung. “No need to be so pissy just because I haven’t stuck this up your ass yet.”

Jungkook walks away, smug when he hears the raucous outburst he leaves behind. No, he doesn’t glance one more time to see Taehyung’s indignation, as tempted as he is to etch another of Taehyung’s expressions into his mind.

He figures he’ll see Taehyung again. Somehow, somewhere, they’ll find each other.

That’s how love stories go, right?

 

 

Jungkook wakes up with a raging headache. He glances down, sighs. A raging hard-on too. Wonders if he had dreamed Taehyung all up. He is plastered somewhere, crashed somewhere after clubbing last night. Looks to be Yoongi’s place.

Jungkook rubs at his face, sitting up and stretching his sore limbs. Didn’t even get to fuck Taehyung, or anyone for that matter – his body has no right to betray his tiredness. He glances back down at his dick, tries to will it away with the force of his mind. Gives up. He’ll have to jerk this one off, but he doesn’t want to revisit his memories of Taehyung. He really should’ve just taken a picture.

He spies Jimin, Yoongi’s unofficial bed-warmer, walking towards him, a mug of something in his hand. Yoongi is probably still snoozing, even though it’s half past noon.

“Water,” Jimin says, ever the thoughtful angel. “You got a killer hangover, right? I heard you blew some random guy at the club. Don’t you know STDs are a thing?”

“Thanks,” Jungkook says too early.

Jimin throws a mugful of cold water in his face.

Jungkook opens his mouth like an incredulous goldfish. “Fuck you, Park Jimin!” he splutters, trying to maintain what little inner serenity he has. Well, at least that’s his morning wood taken care of.

“I heard you blew Kim Taehyung,” Jimin says conspiratorially, nursing the empty mug in his small hands.

“You blew Kim Taehyung?” screeches another voice. Hoseok – Yoongi’s other unofficial bed-warmer. He pops out from the kitchen, all wide-eyed and far too awake for whatever the fuck this was. Hoseok slaps Jimin’s ass on his way over.

“He blew Kim Taehyung,” Jimin confirms, pressing a tender kiss to Hoseok’s cheek. Turning his accusing eyes to Jungkook again, “Do you even remember who Taehyung is?”

Jungkook takes off his wet shirt, ignoring them. “Maybe? Not really? Is he famous or something?”

Is he famous or something?” Jimin mocks, huffing. “Taehyung’s my best friend, idiot!”

“How come I’ve never seen him before?” Jungkook says, wondering whether he should dump his shirt in Yoongi’s laundry basket. Not that Yoongi would even realise.

“Because he’s busy, and he just moved here from Daegu,” Jimin says. “I swear I’ve told you about Taehyung a billion times.”

“He’s also a popular actor,” Hoseok adds, far more helpful. “And a prolific model. He’s the global ambassador for Gucci. I swear to God, everyone knows TaeTae. Yesterday was the celebration of his debut on the big screen. How do you not even know?”

“So he is famous?” Jungkook asks, thinking about how fond he is of this shirt. The first shirt that’s witnessed him performing fellatio on Taehyung. He can’t leave such memorabilia in the hands of the undeserving.

“No,” Jimin answers, while Hoseok says, “Yeah, man.”

Jimin and Hoseok exchange a look. A look that Jungkook is wholly unsure of. A look that Jungkook shrugs off as a mini lover’s spat. None of his business.

Thankfully a knock at the door gives Jungkook leave. Making his way to the entrance, Jungkook doesn’t give a second thought as he opens it, assuming it’s Namjoon or Seokjin. Instead, he’s greeted with the sight of Taehyung.

“What the fuck?” Taehyung says on both their behalves. His eyes are bloodshot. His blond hair is tousled, bed-hair probably, except he definitely doesn’t look like he has slept. He’s still outrageously good-looking though, far too handsome. Jungkook has half a mind to shut the door in Taehyung’s face, but he is nowhere that dramatic.

Taehyung’s eyes roam Jungkook’s nude torso, some kind of path that Taehyung really can’t help himself from trailing. Jungkook tries to keep the smug expression off his face, but really. Really, he can’t help it. Taehyung is so blatantly checking him out. Of course he’s going to revel in this moment.

“You done yet?” Jungkook asks, unapologetic, crossing his arms over his chest as he leans against the door frame. He knows that that only serves to make his muscled arms bulge nicely. And yep, Taehyung’s eyes definitely go there.

Taehyung has the decency to look abashed, glancing at the floor. “What are you doing here?” Taehyung asks, voice small.

Okay, now, Jungkook kind of feels bad for being so mean to Taehyung. “What?”

“You looked better in the dark,” Taehyung says, firming up and staring Jungkook dead in the eye. It takes all of Jungkook’s self-will and pride to return the glare. “When I couldn’t see you properly.”

Jungkook lets out a short bout of laughter. Disbelieving. “What, my mouth not good enough for your famous dick?”

“Famous dick?” Taehyung questions, one eyebrow raised. “Is that what this is all about?”

“Y’all, stop flirting and close the door already,” Jimin sing-songs, probably enjoying the scene more than he should.

Jungkook does as he’s told, closing the door. He shuts both him and Taehyung out of Yoongi’s place, wet shirt still in hand. “So, you’re famous. Is that why you act the way you do? To stop people getting too close to you? It’s pathetic, don’t you think? How you can’t compartmentalise so now you’re acting both on and off the screen. You’re probably more of a flop than Jared Leto as the Joker.”

Taehyung opens his mouth, offended. Closes his mouth without saying a word. Pouts, and oh fuck, he is so cute that Jungkook wants to just squish him to his chest and pamper him with kisses. Taehyung whacks Jungkook on the arm, a harsh slap against his bicep.

Jungkook flinches, surprised by the action. He’s even more surprised when Taehyung’s hand stays there, his thumb rubbing soothing circles over the skin. Okay. Well. This is nice. Nice and gay. Jungkook can get with this.

“Okay, first of all,” Taehyung starts, stepping closer, and Jungkook tries to not step back into the door. “Just because you blew me doesn’t mean you know me. Second of all, just because we didn’t fuck doesn’t mean we are gonna fuck, okay? You’re not really my type. And third of all—what was your name again?”

Jungkook’s prepped counter-argument gets thrown into the wind with that question. Right, Taehyung still has no idea who he’s dealing with. “I’m Jeon Jungkook.”

Taehyung squints. “I feel like I should know who you are, but I don’t. Are you someone important?”

“No, not really,” Jungkook replies as nonchalantly as he can. Jeon Industries, the largest tech company in Asia is probably the last thing anyone would connect to him, one of its heirs. To be fair, it’s not like his face is plastered on their products or on media sites, nor is it that journalists love detailing his personal life, considering how he prefers to keep a low profile. And also because nobody wants to get on the bad side of someone who can buy out their whole lives and more.

“Great! So it was fantastic knowing you, Jeon Jungkook, and it will be fantastic forgetting you too!” Taehyung says, feigning cheeriness, making a move to step past Jungkook.

Jungkook doesn’t budge. There’s something about Taehyung – and it’s not terribly poor acting skills – that has Jungkook seeing straight through him. Taehyung can pretend all he likes, but Jungkook has never had the patience for bullshit.

“What’s your number?” Jungkook asks.

“There’s no way I’m giving it to you,” Taehyung says, keeping up the façade for a second before he relents. “Not without something in return.”

“Okay, what do you want?” Jungkook figures he might as well play Taehyung’s game. Taehyung is cute. Taehyung is worth it.

“Another blowjob,” Taehyung says, completely serious.

Jungkook tries not to smirk. Still, somehow his face contorts into an amused expression that has Taehyung rolling his eyes. “All right.”

And that’s how they exchange numbers, and also how the apartment complex’s fifth floor stairwell gets a white splatter on the handrail that is definitely not paint.

 

 

The thing with firsts is that they’re hard to forget. Everything else thereafter becomes a point of comparison. How does it measure up to the first? How is the first, marred with equal parts nostalgia and regret, somehow always better than the moments that come later?

How are his memories of Taehyung the ones he cherish more than anything else?

 

 

First kiss: Kim Taehyung.

Okay, this is a lie. Jungkook has kissed many people before. Kissed his parents goodnight when he was five. Kissed his babysitter, thinking she was his mum, when he was high on cough syrup – also when he was five. Kissed girls, kissed boys, kissed people who didn’t subscribe to a gender. To summarise, Jungkook has had his fair share of kissing.

But kissing Taehyung is something else. Kissing Taehyung is like opening his eyes and seeing colour for the first time in a previously monochrome world. Kissing Taehyung is like holding something dear in his hands and thinking I never want to lose you. Kissing Taehyung is like seeing fireworks in the evening sky, knowing that even though beauty will fade, memories won’t.

Somehow, the fleeting nature of something – the ephemerality emphasises their beauty. And perhaps that is what had drawn Jungkook to Taehyung, knowing he is only one of many to desire him, but also knowing he is the only one to be able to touch and worship the way he wants to.

Their first kiss happens only a few days after they exchange numbers. Most relationships don’t go from blowjobs to first kisses, but whatever. Jungkook likes Taehyung’s dick plenty enough, but it’s his lips he’s been hungering to kiss. The pretty lips that gasp open when he moans, when Jungkook touches him just right. The pretty lips that Taehyung has a tendency to lick when he’s trying to lie or hide something. The pretty lips that Jungkook wants to capture with his own.

Ditching his shift at his company where he’s meant to be working on coding on their new launch project, Jungkook visits Taehyung when he’s shooting a commercial for fried chicken. Taehyung has to be popular if he’s already scoring CFs for chicken – Korea’s favourite food, a staple right after kimchi. Maybe Jungkook should consider asking Taehyung to be the model for Jeon Industries. Their profits are already impressive, but they would reach new heights with Taehyung as their spokesmodel, probably.

Another thing Jungkook notices about Taehyung is that he is incredibly professional on set. He’ll sit through biting spicy chicken wing after spicy chicken wing, but when he gets backstage, to where Jungkook is waiting away from the CF workers, he spits in the aptly named spit bucket without a second thought.

“I hate spicy food,” Taehyung says, noticing Jungkook pretending to be grossed out. “It upsets my stomach.”

“Yeah, sure, says the person who lives on cola, cocaine and burgers,” Jungkook quips.

Taehyung shrugs. “Wouldn’t expect someone like you to understand the refined taste of a gourmet connoisseur,” Taehyung replies, sticking his tongue out.

Jungkook surges forward, grabbing hold of Taehyung in his arms, and Taehyung gasps. Electricity running through both their veins, Jungkook meets Taehyung halfway and kisses him. He tastes like sugar and spice; he feels Taehyung melt into him, all tension from work dissolving as their lips meet in a wet mess of tongue.

When Jungkook pulls away, Taehyung is flushed, although his make-up covers it well.

“Well, you are definitely not sucking my dick today,” Jungkook says. “That is spicy.”

Taehyung laughs, the same brilliant, melodious sound that Jungkook fell in love with – if it is even possible to fall in love with only a part of someone.

 

 

First time: Kim Taehyung.

Okay, another lie. Jungkook has fucked with a lot of people before. But, yep, you guessed it – fucking Taehyung is something else altogether.

The first time they have sex, Taehyung insists on doing it at Jungkook’s place, because he doesn’t want any sasaeng fans possibly spying them together. On the other hand, Jungkook insists on doing it at Taehyung’s apartment because he doesn’t want Taehyung seeing his place (read: family mansion).

Yeah, Taehyung still thinks Jungkook is some kind of average university student, which is kind of cute. Jungkook doesn’t mind Taehyung wholly underestimating him.

In the end, they decide on doing it at Jimin’s place. Just because it’d be funny pissing Jimin off. They trick Jimin into collecting the pizza, citing that there was no one available to deliver the pizza to them. Then, once the door has closed – because they at least have the decency to wait for Jimin to leave before initiating their scandalous affair – they make for the bedroom, where Jungkook takes his time stripping Taehyung, and Taehyung has too much fun putting on a show for Jungkook.

“You only get to see my cute nip-nips if you promise you’ll fuck me extra hard against the wall,” Taehyung says, one hand grasping Jungkook’s and stopping him from removing any more of his shirt, the other holding tightly onto Jungkook’s bicep.

“Wait.” Jungkook pauses. Takes in the sight of Taehyung spread out on the bed. Okay, now he kind of wishes it was his bed Taehyung was spread out on. Sue him, he’s possessive. He can’t help it. Taehyung is entirely too beautiful. “You want me to fuck you?”

“No, I just wanted a prostate health check,” Taehyung deadpans.

“If you wanted to roleplay, you should’ve just said so, you kinky minx,” Jungkook replies.

“Oh, oppa, stick your twig into my hole,” Taehyung says, bursting into laughter when he sees Jungkook’s disgusted face at oppa. No need to be upset at his dick being called a twig though, considering how well-endowed and blessed they both know he is.

“Hyung,” Jungkook whines, “I’m gonna fuck you extra slow. I’ll make love to you.” He means it as a joke. Making love that is.

Still.

When Jungkook is all lubed up, condom on, and fucking into Taehyung, he can’t help but take his time. Jungkook unravels Taehyung, spreads Taehyung’s legs apart like some kind of reverent worshipper, sliding into Taehyung as though he can make himself a home there if he buries his dick far enough. Sex isn’t poetic – not for Jungkook at least. It’s meant to be hard and fast, all desperate inhibitions left at the shoreline for his no longer lust-imbibed later self to collect; but with Taehyung, he’s controlled in his thrusts, thinking less about how much he wants to get off and more about how he wants Taehyung to feel good.

If this is making love – well, Jungkook swears it’s not.

Somehow, their first time is super cheesy. Taehyung grasps at the bed sheets, knuckles burning white, trying not to cry out every time Jungkook rocks into him. Jungkook ends up taking Taehyung’s hand in his own – and yeah, they fucked while holding hands.

It gets worse.

“You’re not a virgin, right?” Jungkook asks, because Taehyung kind of looks like he is (no offence). Taehyung has that wide-eyed look, blushing red from his earlier exertion riding Jungkook, and now that Jungkook has laid him back down, he can see that Taehyung is pretty much about to come.

“Why? Do I look like I am?” Taehyung gasps, trying to sound offended but his voice comes out as a whimper, and Jungkook musters up all his self-control to not grin.

“Yeah,” Jungkook says. Actually, what he means is that Taehyung looks far too pure to be defiled in a way like this – angelic to every definition, but in his heady haze, he ends up using the word virgin instead of any other more flattering descriptor. Classic Jungkook move.

“You’re not my first, and you’re definitely not gonna be my last,” Taehyung scoffs, grabbing a hold of his own dick. Slick with precome, he tightens his hands around his dick, moving up and down a few times, and Jungkook can feel Taehyung clenching around him, and the pressure has him coming then and there, basically climaxing at Taehyung’s beck and call.

Taehyung beams, a sweet and toothy smile, and Jungkook mumbles, “Fuck, I love you so much.”

Taehyung ends up coming at those words.

“I didn’t know love was your kink,” Jungkook says, after he’s cleaned up and thrown the condom away.

“Shut up,” Taehyung replies, pulling Jungkook into a hug and kissing him on the lips. “You’re an idiot.”

Jungkook is fond. So unbelievably fond, as he returns the embrace, knowing how lucky he is to be able to hold Taehyung in his arms. He is enamoured, his heart a ticking time bomb, ready to explode in a fit of smiles and laughter at the faintest touch. He is vulnerable, because that’s what love does to even the strongest people. Because he wants to protect Taehyung. Because he has only known Taehyung a short while, but he feels as though he has known Taehyung his whole life – and in every other lifetime too.

Maybe he doesn’t know what love is. Maybe love is an indescribable avalanche of feelings. Maybe love is just a word people spout to protect themselves from what they really feel.

Maybe.

But Jungkook knows that when he holds Taehyung in his arms, he doesn’t want to let go. Not at all. Not ever.

When they manage to make it to the dining room, where an unimpressed Jimin is waiting with a stack of pizza boxes and three mugs, Jungkook knows what is coming.

“I guess I should be glad you didn’t use my double-ended dildo,” Jimin says, still smiling murderously as he approaches them with two mugs in his hands.

Taehyung, the classic fool, thinks the water is for him. Well, it is, but not really.

“Run! Save yourself!” Jungkook shouts, shielding Taehyung with his body, as Jimin throws the water, trying to drench them.

“How am I meant to run and save myself when you’re holding onto me?” Taehyung retorts, breaking into laughter when he sees Jungkook’s mop of wet hair.

Jungkook drops to the floor, spread eagle. “I’m down, Taehyung. I think I need a kiss to revive me.”

Somewhere, Jimin makes a mock retching noise.

Taehyung crouches down beside Jungkook. “Nah, I think I’ll run off with Prince Jimin and his three boxes of pizza.”

When Jungkook gawps in disbelief, Taehyung’s laugh is the song that could raise even the dead from their coffins. Once Jungkook has sat up, Taehyung presses a kiss to Jungkook’s forehead, and then to his lips. “Love you, idiot.”

 

 

First love: Kim Taehyung.

Well, this isn’t a lie, or a pseudo-lie, even.

Jungkook isn’t sure when it starts. Falling in love, that is. Was it when he first saw Taehyung that night at the club? Or was it way before then, when their names had been inked in the sky some million years ago, joined together in a myriad of constellations? Or was it after, when Jungkook would wake up beside Taehyung and think he had found some kind of inner peace, that everything would be okay so long as he had Taehyung.

Maybe it’s when Jungkook’s father calls him up, mobile phone buzzing noxiously on the bedside drawer, and asks, “What’s this about you bringing home a boy again? You’re meant to be working on the code for our project.

Jungkook glances at Taehyung, where he’s slumbering, the trail of hickeys on the tender skin of his neck and the agile curve of his back painted visible by the morning sun’s rays. The other way around more like, Jungkook thinks, because Taehyung is the very source of sunlight, illuminating the darkness. Science be damned, Jungkook is in love.

Jungkook lets the bed sheets pool at his feet when he gets up, making his way to the bathroom where he’s less likely to be overheard by Taehyung. This isn’t a conversation he likes others hearing.

Jungkook wants to retort that this isn’t any boy. That this is Kim Taehyung, internationally acknowledged as a masterpiece of art. This is Kim Taehyung, who Jungkook has given his heart too, would happily watch it break and crumble in his hands even, so long as Taehyung is the one crushing it. This is Kim Taehyung, who Jungkook has irrevocably fallen in love with.

“Would you rather I bring home a harem of boys?” Jungkook asks, feigning boredom.

Get your act together, son. I don’t want any negative news on the launch day of our new project. You know it’s going to be the next big thing in technology. It’s world-defining, so keep it in your pants for a few more months, or I will force you to… I don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but the company always comes first. Remember that.”

“I know.” Jungkook hangs up, sighing.

He knows he has his priorities all fucked up. He knows he shouldn’t be spending his days fucking around with someone who’s going to forget all about him some years later. He knows, but that doesn’t stop him from not giving a shit.

He wants Taehyung. He wants Taehyung despite all the consequences.

“Everything okay?” Taehyung asks, sensing something amiss. His voice is groggy with sleep. Turning over to face Jungkook, he greets him with an adorable smile, motioning for Jungkook to give him a kiss.

Jungkook acquiesces, lying down and pressing his lips to Taehyung’s forehead. He bumps his nose against Taehyung’s, stifles a giggle, and sighs when their lips meet. “I’ll be fine,” he dismisses.

“Nuh-uh,” Taehyung tuts. “Tell me what troubles you, and I’ll reward you with… hm, a kiss?”

Jungkook, a thief, steals the kiss first, much to Taehyung’s chagrin. “How long have we been together?”

“I don’t know. I don’t really keep track of anniversaries and stuff,” Taehyung says, frowning. “Is this what this is about? If it is, sorry—”

“No, it’s not that.” Jungkook smiles, reassuring Taehyung, trailing a finger down Taehyung’s cheek to his broad shoulder. Taehyung has been working out, trying to get into shape for his next role so that he’s less of a beanpole. “Do you remember when we first met?”

“Yeah, not that long ago,” Taehyung says. “You sucked my dick. That was memorable.”

“What did you think, when you first saw me?”

Taehyung’s face riddles up with thought. “Honestly?”

“Yeah, honestly,” Jungkook says, preparing himself for the worst. Although Jungkook figures he’d probably forgive Taehyung even if his first impression was that Jungkook was a complete tool, or that he was some pretty boy he just wanted to fuck and humiliate, or whatever.

“Well, I really wanted you to ride my dick,” Taehyung answers, stretching out his words. His eyes brighten at the thought, and Jungkook tries to keep a serious face on while he’s listening. “And honestly that’s all I could think about while you were sucking my dick. And when you had your hands on me, I really wanted you to spank me. And then when you were walking away from me, I wanted you to choke me with your thighs and I also really wanted you to eat my ass out. So, yeah.”

“We could do all that now,” Jungkook suggests, glad that they’re both already naked.

Taehyung considers it for a second. Grins. Turns over, getting on his elbows and knees for Jungkook. “Okay, you better destroy my ass with that naughty mouth of yours.”

Jungkook slides a slim finger between Taehyung’s round ass cheeks, before spreading Taehyung open with his hands. Jungkook leans in, his tongue wetting the road from Taehyung’s balls into his hole, stretching past the rim.

And it’s not that Jungkook really thinks about love when his face is buried in Taehyung’s ass, or that he has half a mind for comprehensive thoughts at a time like this, but Taehyung’s ass is soft and sweet like a marshmallow, and then he thinks about how he wants to marry Taehyung’s ass. But no one marries one part of someone – no, they marry one whole of someone, the good and the bad. And even though Jungkook finds it difficult to see the bad when it comes to Taehyung; and even though marriage doesn’t equate to love; and even though Jungkook tries desperately to shoo away these thoughts in the middle of sex, he thinks how beautiful it would be if he could marry Taehyung.

If Jungkook could show the world that he loves Taehyung, and that Taehyung loves him too; if he could give Taehyung the promise of a whole lifetime of being by his side; if he could give Taehyung more than just today – if he could make Taehyung happy, well, that’s all Jungkook wants.

And that’s love, isn’t it?

 

 

First loss: Kim Taehyung.

“We should break up,” Jungkook suggests.

“Okay, sure,” Taehyung replies, without even sparing a glance at Jungkook, still perusing the menu.

They’re eating dinner together at a world-class restaurant in Gangnam. Jungkook had insisted on paying. He owes that, at the very least, considering how he is dumping Taehyung now.

Jungkook bumps his foot against Taehyung’s under the table, attracting his attention. “I’m being serious, Taehyung.”

“Oh?” Taehyung places the menu down. Stares into Jungkook’s eyes, trying to decipher the puzzle laid out before him. Frowns, the corners of his lips pulling down. “What’s brought this about?” He fidgets with his napkin. “I thought we were going fine.”

“We are going fine. We were going fine. Listen, it’s not you, it’s me,” Jungkook says, cringing at his own words. Taehyung doesn't look impressed either. “I’m not supposed to date guys. That’s how my family is. They want me to carry on the family line and all.”

“So, if you knew all that, why did you want to date me?” Taehyung asks, his curiosity only affording him more pain. “Why did you tell me all that… shit about being in love? What the fuck were those stupid couple bracelets and rings and shit all for?”

The date is already dragging on longer than Jungkook had expected it to go. Jungkook doesn’t know whether he should be thankful or not – being able to see Taehyung a bit longer, or knowing that he’s the cause of Taehyung’s sadness. Because that means that Taehyung cares – cared – for him the same way he did for Taehyung.

“You wanted to try dating someone famous, wanted to see if he’s as gay and foolish as the rumours say he is? Had your fun and—whatever, I don’t care.” Taehyung flattens the napkin on the table, grabs the pen he uses for autographs and signs his name with a flourish. He throws the tissue paper in Jungkook’s face, vigour granted by the hurt and grief rushing through his body. “Keep it, just in case you wanted to show off to your friends that you fucked me. That’s why you wanted me, isn’t it? Because I’m not even a person to you people – I’m just some fucking sex object. Well fuck you, Jungkook, I have feelings too.”

Taehyung’s fury is both beautiful and devastating. A squall that whirls out of his life as quickly and ruthlessly as it had entered; a storm that Jungkook is sure he could never forget. And Jungkook knows that, despite the crushing ache in his chest, he will cherish this memory of Taehyung just as much as every other memory he has of Taehyung.

Daring to breathe, Jungkook drinks some of the water in his glass, ignoring the curious looks of the other restaurant-goers. Taking the napkin in his hand, he sees the words: FUCK YOU. Love, TaeTae

Well, Jungkook wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

 

Despite their messy break-up, Jungkook finds himself seeking Taehyung out again. They say that when two people are destined for each other, they find each other no matter the odds. They say many things about soulmates, but sometimes they also say that some soulmates aren’t really meant for each other. Jungkook hopes they weren’t talking about him and Taehyung.

“Make it quick. Some of us have work to do,” Taehyung says, face set in disdain as he shuts the maintenance closet’s door behind him. The room they’re in is tiny, forcing them to be pressed up against each other. Probably Taehyung’s grand master revenge plan. Jungkook can say that it is working, because fuck, he’d love to bang Taehyung right now. “I have to MC soon.”

“I have a confession to make,” Jungkook says.

“What, you miss me?” Taehyung says, voice bored. His eyes are still on his Music Bank cue cards. “You can’t stop thinking about me, you want to get back with me, yada yada. I’ve heard it all before. Get out, if that’s all you came here to say.”

Jungkook grabs Taehyung by the collar of his shirt, fisting it in his hands, and pulls Taehyung in for a kiss.

Taehyung drops his cards, caught in surprise, but then he’s wrapping his arms around Jungkook’s shoulders, pulling him in closer and kissing deeper. It’s a scurry of limbs as Jungkook carries Taehyung against the wall, wanting to take his shirt off. Taehyung whispers, “Stop messing up my styling.”

“I miss you,” Jungkook says, as Taehyung smiles around the kiss. “I can’t stop thinking about you,” he adds, dropping a kiss to Taehyung’s neck, wanting to leave hickeys but knowing he shouldn’t. “I want to be with you,” he finishes, sliding his hand down to palm at Taehyung’s crotch, revelling in how Taehyung shivers and moans with anticipation.

“I have feelings you know,” Taehyung says, sighing as he tries to pull away from Jungkook’s touch, barely an inch between them.

“I know. I’m selfish,” Jungkook replies. Because even though he feels guilty, he wants Taehyung in a way that defies all logic and good sense. “I’m sorry.”

“Whatever.” Taehyung seems to understand. He grabs at Jungkook’s hair roughly, dragging him back in for a kiss. “You better give me the best orgasm of my life though.”

“When have I not,” Jungkook retorts, grinning. Jungkook doesn’t jerk Taehyung off though, since he rather enjoys teasing Taehyung more. He kisses Taehyung all sloppy tongued because he likes Taehyung looking dishevelled when he shouldn’t be, promises that they’ll talk it out properly after Taehyung’s finished emceeing, and waits and watches for Taehyung to go on stage with an erection.

Taehyung has a sizable dick, so it’s definitely going to be noticeable to his die-hard thirsty fangirls. What Jungkook expects is for Taehyung to be flustered about being so improper on broadcast, but once the camera is on Taehyung, there is no shyness, no coyness that he displays when in bed. Taehyung smirks and flirts with the camera so naturally that it’s hard to believe he’s not in the flesh standing before him. Jungkook ends up as one of those thirsty fans.

Once recording has finished and Taehyung’s manager has dismissed him, Jungkook escorts him to the underground parking lot.

“This is your car?” Taehyung asks, surprised. “You drive?”

Jungkook nods, humming to himself. He doesn’t tell Taehyung that he only learnt to drive for him, or that he bought the car just to show off to him. The red Porsche 911 Carrera is flashy, making a statement to Taehyung, who requires a few seconds to take it all in.

Taehyung grabs Jungkook by the shoulders and shakes him. “You deceived me this whole time! I thought you were some poor university kid who just liked to sneak into VIP clubs and blow hot guys. Jungkook, please, we have to fuck on this car.”

Jungkook laughs. “Okay, okay, we can fuck on my car, but later. First, I wanna take you somewhere.”

Taehyung bends lewdly over the hood of the car, enjoying the opportunity far too much. “Oh baby, take me here now,” Taehyung says, throwing himself onto Jungkook as he doubles over in laughter.

The human mind is a peculiar thing. Memories aren’t taken in snapshots. Memories aren’t seen through a viewfinder, nor through any kind of man-made screen. Memories are hard to visualise and even harder to decipher than a codex written in a long lost language. The memories remembered – if Jungkook could choose the memories he would remember, he would choose every moment with Taehyung.

The good. The bad. The brilliant. The sombre.

But people don’t choose memories, even though memories are so often what define a person.

Jungkook remembers this part with a painstaking clarity: Taehyung stepping into the passenger seat of the car, Jungkook eager to show Taehyung the sights of Busan.

“Put your seatbelt on,” Jungkook says, starting the ignition. “Safety first, safety second, coolness third.”

They chatter aimlessly while ‘ILYSB’ plays from Taehyung’s phone. It’s a good day, even though the rain has begun pouring down in sleets.

Despite his favourite aphorism; despite seeing the truck coming his way; despite slamming his foot on the brakes and trying to swerve out of the way, their journey is cut miserably short. They’re not even on the highway yet, still another left turn to go.

He takes one last look at Taehyung. Just in case.

The airbags deploy, hitting both of them in the face. Jungkook’s hands release the wheel, knowing it’s useless now trying to control the fate of the car, the large impact caused by the semi-trailer having thrown them into mayhem, worsened by the hostile weather.

The car flips multiple times; Jungkook doesn’t keep count. He keeps his eyes sealed shut, frightened of what he might see if he dares to look. When the car shudders to a stop, Jungkook can already hear the buzzing of the emergency services, the cacophony nothing compared to the deafening fear of losing Taehyung.

Jungkook grabs for Taehyung’s hand. Cold but clammy. Nonresponsive.

Opening his eyes, Jungkook searches for Taehyung, the physical pain nothing compared to the overwhelming possibility of losing him.

Taehyung’s eyes are closed, face tranquil. His neck is angled at an awkward angle, blood painting a worrisome trail down his temple, and Jungkook panics.

Taehyung’s side of the car has been demolished, crushed by the headlong momentum of the twenty tonne truck. Taehyung – Jungkook isn’t even sure if he’s still alive, but he screams his name and the tears that fall from his eyes don’t even feel real, because if Taehyung isn’t here anymore, then—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

ii. [******] Couldn’t Wait For You

 

“Jungkook!”

The voice sounds familiar.

Opening his eyes, Jungkook sits up straight away, expecting to feel some kind of pain. He’s in the dark, not a hospital like he would expect. He’s in his bedroom – the one at his family mansion. The curtains are drawn, but even the darkness of the room can’t drown out the light in front of him.

Jungkook throws himself on top of Taehyung, suffocating him with a hug. His body feels fine. “You’re alive!”

He has never felt more relieved seeing Taehyung alive, feeling Taehyung’s skin on his, hearing Taehyung’s heart beat a steady rhythm. He has never felt more agony than thinking and believing that Taehyung might no longer be his.

“Did you have that nightmare again?” Taehyung asks, voice soft as he rubs circles in Jungkook’s back. “You were crying and shaking in your sleep. I was so worried.”

“You’re here,” Jungkook says, more to himself this time. Pulling away from the embrace to cup Taehyung’s jaw, he presses a kiss to his lips. Taehyung is soft like he remembers, sweet and pliant. “I thought I lost you. There was a car crash and this truck hit us—hit you. I thought I lost you. I was so scared.”

Taehyung frowns, a despondent expression. He pulls Jungkook in for a hug again. “I’m here now. I’m here now, Jungkook.”

“Please don’t leave,” Jungkook nearly sobs, the fear of having lost Taehyung striking too close to home. He wraps his arms around Taehyung again, and they fall asleep a second time like that – Taehyung’s back pressed against Jungkook’s chest, Jungkook finding safety in having Taehyung here with him.

“I won’t leave you,” Taehyung promises, pressing their palms together and intertwining their fingers.

Jungkook wishes he could freeze this moment in time. But love isn’t about only capturing and preserving the favourable memories. Love is about so much more, and Jungkook is frightened of discovering what more, of loving Taehyung any more than he already does. And despite this, Jungkook closes his eyes and finds his solace in the steady tandem of Taehyung’s heartbeat.

And that’s love, isn’t it? Losing pieces of yourself to someone else; finding pieces of yourself in someone else.

Taehyung is his love, his best friend, his soulmate – Jungkook is sure of it.

 

 

“You have a meeting with your father today,” Taehyung reminds Jungkook as they’re getting dressed. Taehyung places a cup of coffee on the dining table and moves to help Jungkook with his tie.

“When did we move in together?” Jungkook asks, surprised by the domesticity of the scene. “How do you know about my father?” He had never introduced them to each other, and he hadn’t had any plans on introducing them in the near future either.

“After the accident,” Taehyung answers, a smile on his face as though he isn’t reminiscing about a painful event. “It’s been months since then. There was a car crash, and both of us were in the car, but none of us died. See, we’re here now. I’m here. You’re here. Both of us are well. I met your father then at the hospital. You don’t remember? He told me – that you’re one of the heirs to his tech company, along with your older brother. Can’t believe I’ve been shacking it up with a chaebol heir.”

“Not a chaebol heir,” Jungkook bites back with no vehemence. He wonders if he should broach the topic, considering it was the reason for their break-up. “My father was okay with us… with us being the way we are?”

“Yeah?” Taehyung finishes the knot on Jungkook’s tie and pulls him closer to give him a peck on the lips. "Your father had no qualms about our relationship. He saw us together at the hospital. I talked to him as well, when you were sleeping. I guess I’m just too good with winning over all the boys.”

Jungkook laughs, relieved. Then he wrinkles his nose. “Wait, what’s my meeting for?”

“Ah, Jungkookie, you’re so forgetful these days,” Taehyung chides. “It’s about the launch of your new project – the one with the android robots. The company decided to delay the launch when we got into the accident. Not much has changed though since then, but they said they’re finally ready to go. You’re gonna be a major shareholder of a multibillion dollar company now.”

“Come with me,” Jungkook says, feeling an odd sense of trepidation. “Unless you have a scheduled event, of course.”

“I’ll come with you,” Taehyung says without hesitation. He combs his hand through Jungkook’s hair, flattening the unruly strands, a soothing action that has Jungkook realising how unbelievably grateful he is to have Taehyung in his life.

“I love you,” Jungkook states simply.

“I know.” Taehyung smiles. Replies, “Love you too.”

 

 

When the Hwayangyeonhwa android models are revealed for the first time to the press, Jungkook is sitting front row with Taehyung. They’re not an out couple, but the public knows they’re close friends. A bromance, if you will, because most of the conservatives in Korea are too frightened to think up the plausibility of one of their most popular model-cum-actors being gay, and with another influential man no less. Conservative being a euphemism for a closeted bigot, according to Taehyung.

“Our Hwayangyeonhwa models are the first prototypes in our line of androids. These androids are meant to represent the happiest times of our lives,” Jungkook’s father says into the microphone, his voice booming across the audience hall. Behind him are some of the androids on display, although they look nothing like what robots traditionally are stereotyped to be. “They function like you and I. They are human. They talk like we do. They live like we do. They love like we do. They feel loss the same way we do. They cry, they bleed, they are the new generation of us. No longer will we need to fear being alone; no longer will we need to fear that no one in this world could ever love us. These androids, once programmed, will provide you the experience of your happiest time of your life – whether it’d be your first love, the re-experiencing of your youth, or the safe fulfilment of a bloodlust-like violence. These androids are the future of technology. These androids are the future of us.”

The androids had been in development for numerous years, spanning decades even. The talk of science fiction in the flesh before them. They look like humans – flawless skin manufactured to the exact reality of human skin: texture, nociception, even the goosebumps humans get when they sense something dangerous. Their posture, their gait, the way they walk, the way they blink, how they each have their own mannerisms, how they have consciousness – Jungkook had seen all those elements created in the laboratories. He had watched these creations come to life. He had even participated in altering and fixing codes for some of them.

Taehyung leans in to whisper, “Damn, this stuff is actually kinda scary. They always have movies about this kinda stuff where it goes way out of hand.”

“Progress is never frightening,” Jungkook replies, assured in the quality checking of their androids. “Humans are the real horrors of today. They’re the ones who want this kinda shit because they feel so entitled to claim another person’s life as their own. Isn’t it kinda sad how this is the only option where people don’t have to lose their lives to better another person’s?”

“Yeah,” Taehyung says, and even though he’s agreeing with what Jungkook is saying, there’s another one of his melancholy frowns on his face, making Jungkook want to reach across and wipe away the sadness with a kiss. Jungkook refrains.

The line of androids begin to descend from the stage, showing off their wares to the audience, while Jungkook’s father continues his speech. “These models are not for the general market just yet, since they are still incredibly expensive to produce. However, we do plan on releasing a more consumer-friendly line in the near future. We at Jeon Industries anticipate that the everyday person will be able to upload their desires, their memories, everything and anything they want onto a blank model to humanise them, so that everyone can experience their happiest moments in life with someone they choose, rather than what fate or destiny may choose for us. Thank you.”

The audience gives an excited round of applause. Clapping, Jungkook is proud to be on the team that helped develop these models, glad to finally be able to reveal these to the public. Having been in the Internal Coding team though, Jungkook had never expected the androids to look the way they do – so completely human-like and too utterly real.

Jungkook’s eyes linger on the android that passes by them. Tall, around Taehyung’s height – an aesthetic preference. The android has wide eyes, empty of any emotion, having yet to be adequately programmed to feel. He has a small, symmetrical face, every feature in perfect proportion to each other that it’s almost eerie.

“Checking out the robots already?” Taehyung murmurs, more amused than aggrieved.

“Jealous, baby?” Jungkook whispers into the shell of Taehyung’s ear, knowing it’ll look borderline scandalous if the press were more interested in them than the robots. They’re not though, so Jungkook gets away with it. “He kinda looks like you though.”

Taehyung’s eyes widen. “In what way?” he asks, alarmed.

“Perfect,” Jungkook says, taking in Taehyung’s face. A sculpted jawline that makes the gods burn with envy, full lips that entice even nuns to kiss his image, a face that deserves to be admired in art galleries for centuries to come.

Taehyung has always been perfect.

Too perfect.

 

 

Taehyung starts to catch onto Jungkook’s stares that linger far too long to be normal. “I know you think I’m beautiful, but really there’s no need,” Taehyung says, humming as he places the fan letter he’s reading down on their private table of the Korean Air first class lounge. They’re travelling back to Seoul, after Taehyung had accompanied Jungkook to the Japanese press conference of the Hwayangyeonhwa models.

Taehyung wears glasses. His eyesight isn’t perfect.

Sometimes Taehyung gets irritated when Jungkook doesn’t listen to him. Sometimes Taehyung gets totally smashed on drugs when he’s had a shit day at work, finding comfort in a high instead of a positive outlook. Sometimes Taehyung gets frustrated and upset when people criticise his acting without merit and say that he only ever lands his roles for his pretty boy looks.

“No matter how often I see you, I never get tired of your face,” Jungkook admits, albeit he’s using that to cover up his real motives. It’d be weird if Taehyung caught on, right? No one likes doubting their own existence after all.

Taehyung’s body, no matter how much cocaine he snorts or how much junk food he inhales, never seems to be bothered by poor lifestyle choices. Being a celebrity doesn’t suit everyone, but it fits Taehyung fine.

Taehyung had survived a car crash – one that had left Jungkook with a scar on his cheek. Taehyung had survived a car crash with his skin as flawless as ever, not a single scar on his beautiful body. Taehyung, if his nightmares had been based on truth, had been so badly hurt, it should have been impossible for him to be the way he is now. Neither damaged physically, nor psychologically bothered by nightmares like Jungkook is.

“Sometimes I can’t tell if you’re real,” Jungkook confesses.

“What’s that meant to mean?” Taehyung goes on the defence.

“You’re so unbelievably perfect,” Jungkook says, cupping Taehyung’s cheek. He pulls Taehyung in for a chaste kiss. Presses their foreheads together. “I’m so lucky to have you. I can’t bear the thought of losing you.”

“I’m real, and I’m here,” Taehyung reassures. “I won’t leave you... but if those nightmares are still bothering you, maybe we should see a specialist?”

Jungkook shakes his head. “It’s not that, don’t worry. I just.”

Sometimes Jungkook grows overwhelmed with love. Sometimes he gets the inkling that he’s thinking too much about Taehyung, but it’s as though he can’t think of anyone except for him. Sometimes he looks at Taehyung and wonders if it’s the Taehyung he had first fallen in love with, or the Taehyung who had replaced the one who died in the crash.

They’re meant to be one and the same. The person in front of him is meant to be Taehyung. Feels exactly like Taehyung. Kisses exactly like Taehyung. Loves exactly like Taehyung.

But he isn’t. He isn’t. He isn’t.

Despite this, for the sake of the Taehyung in his memories, he will try to love him the same way he had loved the Taehyung of the past.

 

 

Jungkook realises that sex is still possible. Blood doesn’t flow through androids’ bodies, but their skin releases a blood-like substance when lacerated, mimicking the visual effect of blood. Blood may not run through Taehyung’s body, but his dick still grows hard when stimulated and leaks pre-come.

Jungkook isn’t too fond of cocaine, not enjoying the thought of growing addicted to any substance. But he does enjoy pleasuring Taehyung, so when he licks the strip of cocaine from Taehyung’s navel to the stiff line of his dick, he does it so that both of them can fuck while high.

A few minutes pass. Jungkook is thrusting his fingers in and out of a giggling and flushed Taehyung. “I don’t feel high,” Jungkook says, although he attributes that to taking the drug in orally.

“Oh, I forgot about that,” Taehyung says, making little sense.

“What?” Jungkook pauses in his finger-fucking and Taehyung groans.

“I forgot that your metabolism is like some speed demon, I don’t know, but please keep fucking me,” Taehyung says rapidly, words coming out of his mouth faster than he can keep up with forming them. His fingers dig into Jungkook’s shoulders, leaving indents in their wake. “Please, just keep going,” he begs, as though he’s desperate to feel human again.

When Jungkook enters him, Taehyung is warm. Taehyung’s breaths are hot, fogged with desire. Taehyung is a fire, Jungkook realises, because eventually their relationship will burn to the ground when the inevitable realisation that one of them will age and the other will not dawns on them; when the divide between human and inhuman grows harder to ignore; when Taehyung is programmed to love him, and Jungkook is not.

 

 

Jungkook contemplates telling Taehyung.

“You’re not human,” Jungkook rehearses in his mind.

Considers bringing Taehyung to where the androids are made and showing him his home.

Cruel.

“I think we should break up,” Jungkook rehearses in his mind.

Considers taking Taehyung on a dinner date and telling him then—

No.

“I think we need to talk,” Jungkook says instead, face-to-face with Taehyung.

Taehyung is already wearied from work. He grimaces, never bothering to hide his emotions from Jungkook, knowing it’d be a pointless exercise. He looks up from the script in his hand. “What?”

They say many things about love. That love can conquer all. That love only works with sacrifice and compromise. That love makes life worth living.

Jungkook thinks that love is this: it can’t be created artificially. It can’t be programmed by coders. It can’t be birthed from simple commands. Love is wanting to hold onto someone so dearly, but letting them go when you know they deserve to make their own choices, to choose their own love. Love is not a one track destination, but a choose-your-own adventure type of journey. And it is because he loves Taehyung, both the Taehyung of yesterday and the Taehyung of today – that he is willing to do this. That he is willing to let his own heart break to save Taehyung from his own later.

“I don’t think you’re real,” Jungkook confesses, sitting awkwardly in the seat beside Taehyung. On the couch they’ve slept on, fucked on, watched Ghibli movies on. “I think you’re one of the androids my father created.”

Taehyung’s mouth opens in shock. He lets out a short bark of laughter, now bemused. “Are you serious? You think I’m a robot?”

“Yeah,” Jungkook says. “You’re just so… perfect? You don’t have a single flaw, or well, nothing that can’t be written out of your code. You left that car crash untouched. You’re exactly like Taehyung, except ever since the accident, you’re a lot more mellow? Like the Taehyung I knew was replaced with someone who’s more subdued, more willing to listen and obey the words of your owner or something...”

Jungkook expects a multitude of painful reactions, but he doesn’t expect the tears that flow from the corners of Taehyung’s eyes to grip his heart and twist it out of his body.

“You’re unbelievable,” Taehyung mumbles, throwing the script to his feet. Taehyung is an actor. He knows how to convince. He knows how to trick others into thinking he’s human. “I am human. I’m not perfect. I have a nose that’s way too big and I get random pimples when I stress too much. I talk in my sleep and I’m addicted to coke and I forget important dates like anniversaries and shit. I’m the furthest thing from perfect. I am not an android. I was not made in a factory. My parents made me when they had sex together!”

Taehyung is an android who has convinced even himself that he is human.

Jungkook is sorry.

Taehyung gets up from the couch, now fuming at the accusation. He disappears into the kitchen.

Jungkook follows after him. He begs, “Taehyung—”

Taehyung’s hand clenches tighter around the glass of water he’s drinking from. When he places the glass down, he says, “I’m not the android here,” eyes and stance firm, despite the slight waver in his voice.

Jungkook catches the implication.

“Did you ever think,” Taehyung says, face pained, “that the person we lost in the crash was you? That I became ‘more subdued’ because I had experienced losing you? That I love you so much that I still loved you even when you became an android, even when I knew that your love for me was because I made it so?”

“How am I not human? I feel human. I feel exactly the same as before. I feel love, grief, happiness, sadness, everything. I feel heartache when I look at you and think that you’re programmed to love me,” Jungkook asks, completely in disbelief. He walks towards Taehyung. Grabs the knife on the counter. Thrusts it deep into his own thigh. He will bleed and he will scar, but at least he will show Taehyung that underneath his skin is not machinery. “I just didn’t want you to feel like you had to love me. I wanted to free you and let you make your own decisions.”

“Idiot,” Taehyung says, tears starting to fall as he stares at the wound Jungkook has created. “I love you because I choose to love you.”

Jungkook stares too, because he is not human—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

iii. Maybe I Don’t Want [******]

 

“You were beyond saving,” he is told. “You were going to die and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you. I begged anyone who would listen to save you, to do something. Your father came at the last second. He looked at me and seeing how distraught I was, he asked if I was your lover. I said yes. He said, why does my son love someone like you. I said, I don’t know but please save him. He asked me if I would still love you, even if you weren’t human. Even if you were made an android. I said yes, I would love you no matter what. So, he had your body transported out of the hospital and I watched as they reconstructed you.

“Then, your father asked me, what memories are important to Jungkook. I said, I don’t know. Then, in selfishness, I said maybe me, maybe Jungkook’s memories of me. Your father said that this would skew your thoughts, your consciousness, because they couldn’t preserve every memory of yours in its exact quality in the limited amount of time that they had. In selfishness, I said, that’s okay, as long as he remembers me.

“They made you an android, the first of the Hwayangyeonhwa prototypes to be launched. You were alive before my very eyes, and I didn’t know how to feel. I saw you die before my very eyes, and then I saw you come back to life. And I knew that you wouldn’t be the same person. I know that you’re programmed to respond to me. I know that you’re programmed to love me, because I chose that life for you. I told your father, can you take away his memories of the crash, so that he doesn’t realise anything might be wrong. Your father told me that it wouldn’t be possible taking away every aspect of that memory since I was so intrinsically linked. I said, so long as Jungkook doesn’t realise he’s an android, so long as Jungkook continues to love me the same way he did before.

“I was scared. I knew that when you woke, there was no guarantee that you would still love me. I was scared, because that’s what being human is. I knew that you would die if you weren’t artificialised, but I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle losing you a second time, because I didn’t want to only have you for a temporary amount of time. I wanted you to be the same person you were before – the person who was irrevocably in love with me. I wanted you only to love me. I couldn’t bear a future without that love.

“But your father warned me. He told me that if you ever realised you weren’t human – that everything from your thought patterns to how you chew has been patterned and coded – that you would start to doubt not only your existence, but also the integrity and truth of your memories. Of your real memories. Because you wouldn’t be able to tell which ones were real and which ones weren’t. Because you wouldn’t be able to trust me anymore, even though you’re programmed to give your all to me. He told me that memories are what make up the human mind, that without them, we are nothing but empty shells. He told me that if I messed with your memories, I would create a crack, a discontinuity that would stop you from being Jungkook and would make you Taehyung’s Jungkook instead. You wouldn’t be you, but I said, I don’t care as long as he loves me.

“I traded away your humanity because I was selfish. I traded away the very essence that makes you you, because I wanted a future where you would love me wholly and forever, rather than a future where you might love me temporarily, even if I were to ever fall out of love with you. I thought only of myself. I was selfish. I am selfish.

“I’m sorry, Jungkook.”

 

 

The truth is: most people are cowards.

“I love you,” is an excuse people use to get what they want.

“I’m sorry,” is an excuse when they don’t.

 

 

Jungkook is given a choice. He can continue his life the way it had been. The machines at Jeon Industries will mend his wound, repair it and make him feel like brand new. They can wipe away the memory of the epiphany, slough away those doubts about Taehyung. They can fix him and he’ll be okay, for just a while longer, until he has the same epiphany again. They may not be able to travel back in time, but they can take away the painful memories. Again and again, if need be.

Taehyung is wracked with guilt. Taehyung is the one who suggests this.

Because his memories are tainted, because he will eventually become unstable from questioning his own existence, because if he continues knowing that his memories might be fake and that his love for Taehyung might not be real, Jungkook is better off being completely wiped. His memories will be stored in a data cloud, rather than in an android to act out his consciousness. Taehyung will be able to review those memories when he wishes to revisit the past, when he wants to see through the eyes of the man who once loved him. Taehyung will be able to remember, even when he grows old and forgets everything else – at least, he can remember Jungkook if he so chooses.

But for Jungkook, who has never been allowed to choose, who was forced into consciousness, the choice is difficult. Even now, he cannot tell if his thoughts are because of self-actualisation or because he is programmed to think such thoughts.

Before he makes his final decision, he looks into Taehyung’s eyes one last time as this version of Jungkook. He has always been fond of looking at Taehyung, of admiring and appreciating him.

“I have a last request,” Jungkook says. They’re alone in Jungkook’s bedroom. There’s a song playing faintly from the speakers of Jungkook’s phone. The lyrics go like this: Oh, my heart hurts so good. I love you, babe, so bad, so bad.

“Okay.” Taehyung’s voice is small. He looks away. He blames himself.

Jungkook takes a hold of Taehyung’s chin, pulls him in for a kiss. Maybe it feels different for Taehyung, but it has always felt the same for Jungkook. It has always felt like love for Jungkook. And it’s not an excuse, not for him, at least. “I want you to believe that you will fall in love again, that someone will love and cherish you no matter what. I want you to love someone the same way you love me – selfishly, and without worry of consequence. I want you to be happy, Taehyung. Can you promise that for me?”

Taehyung takes a while to answer. His voice is barely audible. Jungkook is scared to hear the crack in Taehyung’s voice, the fault in his strength, the break in his resolution. Taehyung is strong, and he will continue to be, even without Jungkook. “Okay. I promise.”

Jungkook smiles. “Okay, I’m ready—”

“Wait!” Taehyung grabs a hold of Jungkook’s hands, entwines their fingers. “You know I love you. That I love you even if you’re an android holding the memories of the man I love. You know it’s you I love. I love you so much, Jeon Jungkook.”

“I know,” Jungkook says, his smile growing undeniably fond. I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if my existence stopped you from finding the happiness you truly deserve goes unsaid. Taehyung is his love, his best friend, his soulmate – Jungkook is sure of it, and he would never let anyone hurt Taehyung, not even himself. “I love you too, Kim Taehyung. Please, let me go.”

And that’s love, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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