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Symmetry of Your Grin

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Saturday February 4 11.44 pm

This is Yoongi’s first time out with the kids now that they’re both old enough to drink legally, and he’s surprised, but it’s not that different from before.

It’s actually nice, sitting with his friends and talking shit and laughing. He doesn’t know how he went so long without seeing them, but putting their weekly group lunches on hold for break definitely contributed. The bar they’re is unremarkable, the same as any other, lively without being crowded. Top 40 hits are playing loudly, though they’re sitting far enough away to speak comfortably. Yoongi had missed the last few weekends of bar hopping; he’d foolishly offered to cover for Zhou Mi and meet with his students while he’s on vacation over winter break. He’s busy but it’s amazing how much rich kids will pay someone to help them get into grad school. He’s done this weekend, at least, just in time for the semester to start, so he buys another round for everyone in celebration.

He’s walking back to their table from the bar, stuffing cash back into his wallet when he catches Jimin and Hoseok being disgusting and in love, dancing and staring into each other’s eyes, probably not blinking because they’re gross like that.

Taehyung’s talking to some guy, who’s kind of tall and generally attractive. The guy’s standing between Taehyung and the rest of the bar, hand extended in a placating gesture. He brushes a hand against Taehyung’s side and Yoongi forces himself to relax, the glass leaving red marks in his hand. He stops pretending to be subtle and just watches, frown forming on his face. The others seem to already be immune to Taehyung's honeypot charm, but normal or not, there's a tense knot in his stomach at the scene.

The guy's back is to Yoongi, but Yoongi doesn’t have to hear the words, catches Taehyung's eyes flick to their group, mouth turned down in discomfort, and that’s all the hesitation he needs to see. A flush of indignation runs through him and Yoongi immediately stands and strides over, slips right through the press of bodies to stand toe to toe with Taehyung, hand gliding over his hip as he leans in to ask, "You okay? Wanna come sit?” At Taehyung's wide eyes and eager nod, Yoongi turns and shoulders past the guy, body language eloquently speaking back off.

He touches a gentle hand to Taehyung’s back and leads the way. “That guy looked like an asshole,” Yoongi attempts, tone carefully light and conversational.

“Just couldn’t take a hint, I’m okay hyung,” Taehyung offers with a shrug and a small smile that pulls up the corner of his mouth.

Yoongi hums and doesn’t say anything. What exactly is the protocol for this? He sure as shit doesn’t know.

“Gross,” Namjoon says back at their table, and Jin nods, frown pulling at the corner of his mouth. He pats the seat next to him, which Taehyung takes. Jimin and Hoseok are there in the next moment, and Jimin moves straight to Taehyung’s side to squeeze his shoulder. “Are you okay, Taehyungie?”

“I’m fine, seriously.”

He smiles at Jimin, and then Yoongi, and it’s genuine so Yoongi relaxes, lets the discomfort in his chest ease with his exhale.

Don’t worry, his ass. Taehyung is too smiley and attractive for sober people to resist. Add the fact that drunk people can be creepy and entitled and low in self-control, and here they are.

Sunday February 12 12.22 am

A week later, it’s late (or early) and Yoongi’s a little drunk and dodges a drink that sloshes dangerously, barely avoids getting it all over his shoes. Namjoon laughs next to him, and Yoongi should shove him, let him get covered in sticky alcohol. He rolls his eyes instead. He preferred when house parties were their hang out, restricted as they were by their underage group members. But he’s here because… why is he here? He’d gotten lunch with Namjoon, Jimin, and Taehyung, and sometime during then he'd agreed to come out tonight.

Well he thinks about it, and Namjoon hands him his third free drink (ah, that’s why he’s here), listening to Hoseok explain how he knows half the people here, that it’s a funny story actually. Namjoon nods along to this right, listening and being a good friend. Yoongi’s trying not to watch Seokjin, Jimin, and Taehyung on the dance floor, laughing at Seokjin’s shoulder popping more than they’re actually dancing.

He turns away just in time for them to come back to down their drinks and then they’re beckoning everyone to the floor. Yoongi shakes his head, he's good, but Hoseok goes with a smile, no manhandling needed. Namjoon waves them off with a dimply, “I’ll guard our drinks”. Suddenly Taehyung lands in the space next to him, leaning against him heavily and smiling.

“Hyung, do you wanna dance?”

Yoongi looks at Taehyung in the only appropriate way he can think of, with pinched brows, openly gaping in surprise. “What?”, he asks incredulously, and he admits that’s maybe a bit overboard, but it’s already out of his mouth, so.

“Normally I’d ask Jimin but…” Taehyung looks over his shoulder and Yoongi gets it, now. Jimin and Hoseok are shifting and swaying together, smiling in that unconscious way people do when they’re really, ridiculously happy, just because, and that means Yoongi’s his last option.

They're friends though, last option or not, and Yoongi makes a face of pained acquiescence, nods his head and then he’s looking back at his seat longingly as Taehyung tugs him along, doesn’t miss the disgusting smitten looks Namjoon’s sending to Seokjin. Having two sets of friends dating in one group is a lot, okay.

Yoongi sips his rum and coke and bobs to the rhythm, pleased that if they’re going to be hanging at clubs on Saturday nights, at least they pick places with good music, as the hip hop beat shifts to something slower and smoother. He likes this song, likes the artist’s smooth delivery of the chorus, the fullness of the bass line. He catches Taehyung’s grinning look and smirks back, maybe shifts a bit closer.

It’s kind of hard to dance like he wants to with a glass in his hand so he makes a ‘just one moment’ gesture and pushes through the crowd to get back to their table. Downing the last swallow, he turns around and sees some girl plastered against Taehyung’s back, hands roaming pretty aggressively along Taehyung’s body. Which would be fine, yeah, if Taehyung wasn’t making the most awkward, confused, ‘how the hell did this happen?’ face at him, eyes bugged out. Taehyung’s mouthing, ‘Help!’ and seriously, Taehyung, you can’t go one minute without attracting someone drunk and handsy?

He trudges back through the crowd to tap the girl’s shoulder, who responds after a drunken delay, “Wha?”

He leans in, says, “Can I have my dance partner back?” though it comes out loud, to be heard over the music. He sends his best faux-friendly smile and she backs off without a fuss, wanders off somewhere, probably to stalk out new prey.

He gets back into Taehyung’s space and rolls his eyes at Taehyung’s grateful smile, though his shoulders relax and he exhales the tension. He can feel Taehyung’s relief from here, can see the way he’s grinning up at the ceiling. It makes him a little proud, to be able to help put that smile there, though he’ll blame his own small smirk on the alcohol, if anyone asks.

Wednesday February 15 2.42 PM

Later in the week, Yoongi acknowledges that something is very, very wrong when he walks home to find Kim Taehyung pacing outside his apartment door, tense and maybe a bit manic. He's seen Taehyung frustrated and upset, sure. Hurt, even defensive, but never truly, seriously angry.

Yoongi stands in the stairwell and just watches Taehyung for a while, perplexed. He can see Taehyung’s posture is rigid, movements jerky and without Taehyung’s usual casual grace. He’s frowning, too. It looks an awful lot like Kim Taehyung is genuinely mad, and that's the second warning sign, now.

The first was the fact that Jimin has been sleeping at his and Hoseok's place for three nights in a row, seemingly fine, but everyone can tell when Jimin's putting up a strong front. Jimin hadn't wanted to talk, and Yoongi hadn't pushed, trusted Hoseok was helping, at least. Now this.

He wonders if it has anything to do with the creepy propositions Taehyung has received lately, the ones Jimin doesn’t know about until after, because he’s too busy with Hoseok. It must be something serious, whatever it is.

"Hey, what's going on?"

Taehyung stops his angry pacing to frown at Yoongi, and what the hell did he do to deserve that look?

"Nothing, hyung." Taehyung's tone is short, and Yoongi knows that's bullshit, can practically feel the weight of the something under Taehyung's words, and he barely resists rolling his eyes.

"Do you want to come inside?"

"That's what I'm trying to decide,” Taehyung says with a short, hollow laugh, a laugh that’s almost the antithesis of who Taehyung is, and Yoongi doesn’t like it, frowns as Taehyung crosses his arms over his chest and glares at the door.

"I can't help if I don't know what's going on."

Taehyung turns his head in Yoongi's direction and his eyes widen in what looks like alarm, or fear, and Taehyung shakes his head harshly, hands out in a placating gesture. "Hyung it's not a big deal, I just really need to talk to Jimin."

"Okay, so talk. He's probably inside." Yoongi unlocks the door and throws it open before Taehyung can rush forward and stop him. Yoongi glances between the open door and Taehyung meaningfully, insistent, and the apprehension on Taehyung's face is a relief. Anything is better than the red hot fury, the empty blankness of earlier.

He tosses his head at the door in impatience and Taehyung goes, slips off his shoes and Yoongi leads him into the living room, where Jimin is sitting cross-legged on the couch. Jimin's face is blank, and Yoongi wonders how long he'd been sitting like that, tv off, in total stillness and silence. More warning signs.

Leaving for his room is out of the question; he wants to be nearby incase things get heated, but he retreats to the kitchen to give them privacy, a middle ground.

They've spent months being friendly without being close, he has no idea how they keep ending up in this unfamiliar, strangely intimate territory. Ever since he met these kids, they've been making his life fucking weird, he probably shouldn't be surprised.

The other room is silent, and he can't see what they're doing, so he texts Hoseok to update him and ask what the fuck is going on with them?
He hears the low murmur of a stilted conversation, and a few moments later he gets a reply.

Hoseok 2.47 pm
I really wish I knew, Jimin's refusing to share details.

Hoseok 2.48 pm
All I know is that Jimin's worried about Taehyung,
they even had a fight over it, and that's why Jimin's
been sleeping here.
Why? Did something happen?

Before Yoongi can reply, he gets a frantic series of texts.

Hoseok 2.48 pm
Hyung!!! Nothing happened right?
??????
????!!!!??
Hyung?

Yoongi 2.49 pm
Relax, nothing happened.
I found Taehyung pacing outside our door looking
pissed as hell. I let him in and now they're in the
living room talking.

Hoseok 2.49 pm
Oh okay good. Keep me posted, yeah?

Yoongi sends him a thumbs up emoji and puts his phone back into his pocket so he can pay attention. He hears the sound of pacing feet, and he assumes that's Taehyung.

“Why won’t you come home?”

“It could be the fact that every time I try to talk to you you haven’t been wanting to listen. I hate fighting with you, but I can't say nothing, so I thought this was the next best thing. So I can at least get what I want to say together.”

“I didn’t wanna talk because I don’t wanna make this a big deal.”

“Well I think it has been a big deal, though. It’s a big deal because I can’t keep watching you hurt yourself and do nothing about it.”

So much for privacy, Yoongi thinks, seeing as he can hear every word, and because they sound mostly calm, he considers locking himself in his room to give them space. He starts tiptoeing quietly across the kitchen until he hears the volume in the other room increase.

“Is this about that guy? Yeah, I slept with him once and it’s over, okay? Not a big deal.”

“Tae…”

“I’m having a hard time not hearing the word slut underneath everything you’ve been saying to me.”

Yoongi hears Jimin make a hurt noise, and in a quiet voice reply, “I’ve never thought you’re a slut. But I can tell, these casual relationships are getting to you. It’s not fixing anything. I think what you really need to do is talk to him, Taehyungie.”

“Jimin…”

“Tae… please. Just, I can go get-" Yoongi hears the creak of the couch that suggests Jimin's standing, now.

“Jimin, seriously, what-“

“He’s right-“

"Jimin!! What the hell, Jimin, seriously-" Yoongi hears Taehyung's shaky inhale like he's in the room, the crack in his voice. There’s the creak of feet walking across the floor and then-

"Please please Jimin, please." Taehyung's voice is quiet, words hurried. There’s a hiccuping breath. “Please don’t Jimin”, he pleads, voice cracked and weak and oh my god, Taehyung is crying, that is the voice of a crying person.

Taehyung is tripping over his words now, voice small, "Don't, don't say anything, you can't-" He's cut off by his own gasping cry, and Jimin sounds how Yoongi feels, panicked and worried and little bit heartbroken, "Shit, shit I won't, I’m sorry, that was shitty, I'm so sorry, it's okay, please don't cry."

Yoongi squeezes his eyes shut, he has no idea what the fuck is going on, but he tries to focus on breathing, on easing the ache he feels in his chest for how small and helpless and hopeless Taehyung sounds.

"Shh, shhh Taehyungie, I fucked up, I'm so sorry." Jimin sounds like he's on the verge of tears, too, and this is so, so messed up.

Taehyung hasn't said anything, but Yoongi can hear him trying to get his breathing under control, can hear Jimin's soft, comforting murmurs, a mix of apology and the promise that everything will be okay.

Yoongi shakes himself from where he was frozen in place, it’s probably best if he goes the hell to his room to give them space. As he walks away, right before he shuts his bedroom door, he hears Taehyung speak quietly, voice still watery, muffled like it's pressed against Jimin's shoulder, "I don't know how not to love him..."

Yoongi shuts his door as quietly as humanly possible and takes a deep breath.

“What the fuck” he says, in a harsh whisper.

Okay, so…. There’s no use acting like he didn't hear because he did and he has to do something, can't do nothing. He’s still struck by just how much of that he probably shouldn't have heard, and how the fuck have Jimin and Taehyung been going through all this shit and none of them knew about it? Taehyung's in love with some guy he can't even speak to, cries when Jimin attempts to contact him. And he’s tearing himself apart over it and Jimin’s obviously been worried for a while, and, well.

Jimin and Hoseok have spent a lot of time together recently, and Yoongi knows he misses his own best friend. He’s happy for him, yeah, but he misses him all the same. Taehyung’s probably been missing his best friend too- it must be much worse for Taehyung, when he and Jimin are practically codependent. Taehyung’s reliance on him these past few weeks makes a bit more sense now.

Well, maybe it's for the best that Taehyung and he are being thrown together, by way of their best friends dating each other and drunk people being the worst. In this moment Yoongi regrets letting Taehyung keep him at arms length, what the fuck kind of friend is he?

That makes his chest ache all over again, but the feeling is soon replaced with anger for whoever the fuck broke Taehyung's heart so thoroughly he feels like he can't even talk to the person about it.

He wants to text Hoseok to let him know the situation's diffused, but he's not sure how much to share. He wasn't supposed to hear any of that, he knows, so he definitely shouldn't be sharing it, even if it is Hoseok he's sharing it with.

He compromises with a simple, 'Hey, I think they're okay now, thanks', and slips his headphones over his ears, to start working and to drown out the way he can remember every detail of the sound Taehyung made, begging Jimin not to say anything. He is not equipped to deal with any of this.