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For Now, Forever

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“If there’s a chance, I’ll catch you
I’m running, it’s starting, count down
I’m ready to be cut by your rose-like embrace,
as I hold you again.”
Hold Me Tight, BTS – written by Kim Taehyung

April 2015, Part One

Seokjin is loud.

At first, Taehyung thought this was solely for his benefit – Seokjin's way of letting him know his work is appreciated. Over time, Taehyung has learned it's more than that. It's defiant, territorial; his way of staking claim.

But only when it's allowed. When Seokjin's certain they're alone. And by alone, he means there are no members or managers in the adjacent rooms. But when they're certain no one can hear them, Seokjin yowls like a kid on a roller coaster.

Taehyung loves it. It makes him feel wanted, exalted, adored.

And after, once Seokjin dissolves into stunned laughter and they curl together, Taehyung clings to the echo in his ears.

Seokjin drapes his arm around Taehyung's shoulders. The room sighs around them, dust motes and pine pollen adrift on the soft air from the open window. Street sounds fill in the blanks as they slowly breathe themselves back down to the world.

“I wish—” Taehyung says it before he's really thought it through.

Seokjin smooths his thumb along the curve of Taehyung's jaw. “What does my VV wish?”

Taehyung shifts his weight to rest his chin on Seokjin's collarbone. “I want them to hear us,” he says.

“Who?” Seokjin asks.

“Them,” Taehyung answers. “Everyone. I want the whole world to be wild with envy.”

Seokjin knuckles Taehyung's ribs, and he convulses with laughter. Seokjin catches him, pulls him tight against his chest. The blanket he hugs to their shoulders smells of candle wax. It feels scratchy against Taehyung's bare skin, but in a good way. He likes the salty starch of the sheets, the way they feel damp from the humidity.

“They would be wild with envy,” Seokjin muses. “You have the best tongue on the planet.”

Taehyung bites his lip. He says, “Tell me more.”

Seokjin props up on his elbows. “There should be a point-rank system of some kind – a championship, maybe? – because you would definitely take first place.”

Taehyung laughs. “Next challenger on Korea's Top Tongue—”

“—Not just Korea,” Seokjin cuts in. “The whole world.”

“Well, I'd have to qualify first. There would be finals and then semi-finals, multiple rounds of competition—”

“—No.” Seokjin turns sullen. “No, I changed my mind.”

“But I'm a contender,” Taehyung teases. “You said I have a real shot.”

Seokjin pouts. “I don't want to share.”

“Aw, my silky prince is jealous.” Taehyung arches up to bite Seokjin's chin.

“I am not jealous,” Seokjin says. His eyes twitch.

Taehyung goes, “Aww,” and Seokjin jabs him in the hipbone, prompting a spasm that almost catapults them from the bed.

“Don't touch the floor,” Seokjin warns, dragging Taehyung back to the center. “It's sticky.” Then his lips curl into a smile as he says, “Hey, Taehyung-ah—”

“—No, hyung,” Taehyung says, trying to cut him off, but...

“What's brown and sticky?”

“No.” Taehyung shakes his head for emphasis.

But Seokjin says, “A stick.”

And Taehyung groans as Seokjin honks like a goose.

“That's it, I'm leaving,” Taehyung says, but Seokjin snags his wrist.

“You're my prisoner,” he says, “And you have to be grateful for me, and love me for the rest of your life.”

Though Seokjin's tone sounds playful, Taehyung detects the tremble beneath the words. He notices it more now since Tokyo, and it makes him think of jagged rocks beneath the surface of a calm pool of water.

“I am,” Taehyung assures him. “And I will be.”

“Promise?”

“I promise,” he says.

Taehyung rests his head on Seokjin's chest. For a moment, he listens to Seokjin's heartbeat, which is slightly elevated, even though he's pretending to be calm. From this angle, Taehyung can see an empty chips packet beneath the vanity table. He hopes Seokjin doesn't see it. That kind of thing bothers him more than he lets on.

They've used this love hotel several times, but it's greasy in the way that Seokjin hates. The last time they were here, he insisted they switch rooms after finding a clot of yellow hair clogging the bathtub drain. The carpet bears cigarette burns, and the TV only plays Japanese porn. But the ahjussi at the desk wouldn't know Bangtan from Beethoven, so it's a safer option than the high-quality place in Myeongdong. Two weeks ago, some Brazilian tourists recognized him and Seokjin in the lobby. Said tourists tried to convince the concierge to sneak them up to their room, hence their return to the shabby-yet-familiar hovel in Sinsadong.

The Myeongdong place better fits Seokjin's tastes. Yet he chooses to be here because it's the only way they can be alone. This tugs on Taehyung's heart like the dull edge of a razor blade.

“I really do wish they could hear us,” Taehyung says.

“The whole world, you mean?” Seokjin asks. He's tracing lazy circles on Taehyung's shoulder with his thumb.

“I mean, I wish it didn't matter,” Taehyung says. “Like, we have rules now for where we stand and how we touch in public, and I wish... we didn't.”

“It's to keep us safe,” Seokjin says.

As if Taehyung doesn't already know.

As if that makes it all okay.

As if it's something he'll just accept.

Because of course he will. They both will. Taehyung knows how the world works. And he loves the others too much to risk everything just because he wants to hold hands with his boyfriend on the street.

Plus, there's the possibility that Minyeong knows. If he does, he could take the information to Bang Sihyuk, and then he and Seokjin could be replaced for violating the dating clause in their contract. So they're trapped.

Taehyung almost says, I hate this, but he catches himself. He knows how much it would hurt Seokjin, and anyway, it's not true. He loves his life and his friends so much that it aches. But in a good way.

He does hate the hiding, though. And the wishing. The wishing sucks.

“Taehyung-ah,” Seokjin whispers.

“Hm?”

“I wanted to tell you, I really like your song.”

Taehyung began writing his song on the train to Osaka the morning after their horrible night in Tokyo. A week later, he showed it to Namjoon, who coaxed him to continue. A week after that, they brought in Yoongi and Hoseok, and the four of them breathed life into Taehyung's first fully-formed piece of music.

“My parts are about us,” Taehyung says.

“I know they are.”

“Good.”

Taehyung grinds through the memory of that night – the ice in his lungs, the fear in Seokjin's eyes, the thought that this could be over. So much of that anguish ended up in his lyrics. He says, “Maybe...” But he trails off, chasing the idea through his head as Seokjin threads his fingers through his hair.

“Maybe?” Seokjin prompts.

He says, “Maybe that's how they can hear us. With our songs.”

“I would hope so,” Seokjin says. “That is the point of our existence.”

“I mean—”

“—I know what you mean,” Seokjin says. He tilts Taehyung's jaw so that they can see each other. He asks, “But is it enough? It's still a kind of hiding, just hiding behind words.”

It isn't enough, Taehyung knows. But for now, it's all that they can have.