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Fifty-Two

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Taehyung says, “Let’s go to Italy,” on a warm spring morning, and an hour later Jeongguk has a plane ticket in his hand and Taehyung’s urging him to pack enough for a week.

“This is a bad idea,” Jeongguk tries to say. Taehyung stands in his living room, scanning channels for something to watch on TV while Jeongguk drags his feet quite obviously. “We have a shoot in New York in four days.”

“We’ll be back in three.”

At twenty-three, Jeongguk has never been to Italy. He’s been to his parent’s home in Busan, done shoots in Seoul, Tokyo, New York, Paris, and the likes. But he’s not been to Italy. He’s learning to expect a lot of things he hasn’t anticipated doing at such a young age since his first shoot with Taehyung almost four years ago, but impromptu flights across the world are still taking some getting used to.

Taehyung doesn’t wait once the plane touches down, running from the first class cabin without even grabbing his duffel bag. Jeongguk loops both bags in one hand and follows to security; feeling lost staring at all the signs in Italian. He’s lagged from the flight, tired and ready to sleep off the jet lag and order too much room service, but it seems Taehyung’s got other plans.

“I made dinner reservations,” Taehyung says, finding Jeongguk by the baggage claim. He’s been in Italy for all of half an hour and he’s already glowing, wide smile on his lips and weight shifting between both feet. “Let’s go.”

Italy is beautiful, Jeongguk learns. His fatigue seems to melt away as he follows Taehyung around the city, taking pictures of landmarks and of Taehyung each time he asks, leaning against fences and throwing his trademark peace sign against his cheek. He urges Jeongguk into more selfies than Jeongguk can count, squishing their faces together with a wide grin.

Jeongguk is ready to fall asleep during dinner, his eyes heavy and refusing to stay open for longer than a few seconds at a time. He still has no idea how Taehyung maintains so much energy for so long, speaking enthusiastically with the waiter and asking for recommendations for where to visit in the morning. The restaurant is nice, with lights twinkling and the walls decorated with gold and red trimmings. Jeongguk feels exhausted, but luckily it’s getting closer and closer to an acceptable time to fall asleep.

“How are you not dead tired?” Jeongguk asks halfway through dinner, watching the way Taehyung twirls his spaghetti dish with his fork.

“I am. I’m just better at hiding it. That’s why I need less makeup for shoots.” Taehyung winks, stealing a piece of chicken from Jeongguk’s plate.

“Oh, shut up, that was one time. And I was nineteen.”

“Still spent two hours longer than me in makeup.”

“How long do you think it takes to cover a black eye with makeup?”

Taehyung laughs, ordering another glass of wine as the waiter passes. “Relax, Jeonggukie. Your skin is so pretty lately. I think you need the least amount of makeup now.” Taehyung reaches across the small table, bypassing the candle in the center to run the back of his fingers across Jeongguk’s cheek. Jeongguk jolts a little, but stays still.

Jeongguk drops his gaze to his plate. “Thanks, hyung.”

Their hotel is small, but neither of them mind when it’s a soft bed after a flight and an entire day of sightseeing. Jeongguk collapses onto the bed nearest the door as soon as he can, not bothering to tug off his dirty clothes. Taehyung disappears into the bathroom to shower, humming a new song he’d been listening to before the flight as Jeongguk unlocks his phone with the intent to check his emails and answer the messages left from his manager, but he dozes before he can click on the email icon.

Jeongguk briefly drifts back awake to feel Taehyung unlacing his boots and dropping them off the bed, grabbing a blanket from his own bed to drape it over Jeongguk, who hadn’t bothered to crawl beneath his own covers, whispering, “Good night, Jeonggukie,” before he’s out again.

 

 

Visiting the Colosseum on the second day takes the entirety of the day, but Jeongguk finds he doesn’t mind. Taehyung wants to explore every inch of the landmark, wants to take pictures at several angles every few feet. And Jeongguk enjoys it, enjoys kneeling among other tourists to get the best angles for Taehyung’s pictures. If anyone recognizes them, they’re kind enough not to bother the models while they’re exploring.

Taehyung’s constantly on his Instagram, updating with several photos from all over the city and snags pictures of Jeongguk when he’s not looking. He tags Jeongguk in all of them, even though their profiles are as different as they can be. Taehyung’s are aesthetic and pretty, shots from wonders all over the world and several pictures with tiny dogs, while Jeongguk’s most recent picture is of himself doing a skateboarding trick behind his old high school.

Jeongguk pretends not to notice that the pictures Taehyung tags him in have the most likes of any of their posts.

Tonight, they have dinner on a rooftop deep in the city, their seats close to the edge for the best view of the city’s skyline. Taehyung doesn’t even sit at their table until he’s gotten someone to take their picture against the skyline, but once they’re seated he puts his phone in his pocket and forgets about it.

“Have you spoken to Yoongi hyung?” Jeongguk asks.

“Nah. Forgot to buy a data card and don’t want to go over my limit.”

“He’s gonna be pissed.”

Taehyung orders three different desserts to taste. “You talked to him?”

“Nope. Did you remember to buy tickets to New York?”

“Yes, Jeonggukie,” Taehyung says around a mouthful of fluffy chocolate cake. A young girl steps up to their table, shyly asking for Taehyung’s autograph, which he happily gives, waiting until she’s far enough away before turning back to Jeongguk. “We’ll get there for the shoot in time.”

Taehyung’s correct in that they make it in time for the shoot, but they don’t get there early enough for proper hair and makeup. On the morning of their third day he insists on wandering around a beautiful park until Jeongguk has to drag him away with a gentle hand around his wrist and a not so gentle reminder that Yoongi would kill them if they didn’t show up to work.

He pouts a little on the flight to New York, wearing one of Jeongguk’s oversized hoodies so he can hide his hair, wet and messy from his recent shower. But Jeongguk reminds him that they can always come back when they’re not in the middle of back-to-back campaigns, and Taehyung brightens considerably.

Yoongi does not look pleased when Jeongguk and Taehyung stumble into the hotel an hour after their call, both weary and looking worse for wear after heading straight to the studio from their flight. Namjoon, another of the models booked for the afternoon, snorts as Taehyung attempts to hide behind Jeongguk.

“Idiots,” Yoongi sighs, pointing them to their respective chairs. They’re modeling suits tonight- Armani- so at least they don’t have to worry about the skin of their legs or stomachs. “Where the hell have you been, and why the hell haven’t you been answering your phones?”

Makeup artists surround their chairs, pressing foundation to the circles beneath Jeongguk’s eyes, and covering up any imperfections on their faces. Taehyung scrunches his nose, his eyes falling shut as his artist works the brushes over his skin. He always hated the heavier foundation; you couldn’t see his nose mole after the skin was covered in powder.

“We were in Italy, boss man,” Taehyung says, leaning back in his chair.

Yoongi fixes his disapproving stare on Jeongguk. “And why were the two of you in Italy so close to a shoot?”

Jeongguk shrugs. “Ask him.”

Yoongi has been Jeongguk’s manager since Jeongguk accidentally stumbled into a beach side shoot during spring break in his last year of high school. He’d been thoroughly embarrassed and desperately trying to ignore the laughter coming from one of the models- who turned out to be Taehyung- and ready to run and hide when Yoongi had stopped Jeongguk just off set and invited him to lunch. When Jeongguk had asked a few years later why Yoongi had thought to sign him, Yoongi had said he’d taken a chance on a pretty face and was just glad that Jeongguk hadn’t cost him his job.

Jeongguk had scoffed, blushing furiously and stuffing his face with more dessert. Why Yoongi dropped bombs like that during dinner was always a mystery to Jeongguk. But then again, why Jeongguk followed Taehyung around the world at the drop of a hat would likely forever be an uncertainty to Yoongi.

And Taehyung? His own manager, Jung Hoseok, had set up a shoot between Taehyung and Jeongguk almost a year after Jeongguk’s first campaign, and since then Taehyung has made sure they were inseparable.

Now, Yoongi whacks the back of Taehyung’s head with his palm. “Quit stealing my moneymaker. What if you two hadn’t gotten back in time?”

Taehyung leans his head back as his artist starts to apply powder to his nose, humming quietly. “You have other models, don’t you?”

“None as good as him. Just you watch, he’s going to be top in the world by next year.” Yoongi drops his gaze to his tablet, leafing through emails and job offers.

“Or I’ll be top,” Taehyung says, as his makeup’s finished and he stands. “We’re ranked about the same.” He’s directed to the other side of the room, where two pressed suits are waiting. Taehyung’s is grey slacks and jacket, a white button down, and a silk black tie. He disappears behind the partition to change, singing the same song he’d had stuck in his head for the duration of the flight.

Namjoon laughs quietly, “Maybe. If you show up to your job on time.”

“I’m here, aren’t I?”

When Jeongguk’s finished with makeup Yoongi directs him to his suit. His is almost entirely black, the only source of color coming from the grey dress shirt he’s to wear beneath his jacket. He’s struggling with his tie as he joins the others, their suits matching only with hints of grey- Namjoon’s tie- for the theme. Taehyung is at his side in an instant, replacing Jeongguk’s fumbling fingers with his own to smoothly loop tie the knot in the tie.

“Thanks.”

“You should really learn how to do this,” Taehyung hums. “That way you can do it when I’m not around.”

“I don’t think I will. This way, you’ll have to stay by my side, right?”

“Gross.” Yoongi frowns. “Let’s go before the two of you melt each other.”

The shoot is being held in the ballroom of the hotel they’re in, the entire room having been rented out for the afternoon. Yoongi, Namjoon, a few makeup artists, and a cameraman take the first elevator to the ground floor, Yoongi making sure to threaten both Jeongguk and Taehyung’s ass if they don’t follow right away.

“Hey,” Taehyung says in the elevator. “Gigi Hadid is having a party tonight. Check if you’ve got an email invite, if not you can be my plus one.”

Jeongguk snorts. “So considerate, hyung.”

Jeongguk tugs his phone out of his pocket, sorting through the emails to see if there’s a party invite anywhere. He leans against the glass mirror of the elevator, head dipped, and sees Taehyung pull up the camera on his own phone and angles it to begin recording a video to flaunt his impressive suit. Taehyung always looks immaculate in a suit, hair parted neatly and sunglasses hanging on the front of his neck, his skin still glowing from their short trip to Italy, and he knows it, grinning at the camera and throwing up peace signs, miming biting at the camera before he turns it to the left and gets a piece of Jeongguk’s head on the camera before ending the video.

“You look cute, Jeonggukie.”

“My hair looks flat.” On the ground floor, Jeongguk follows Taehyung past all the lights and chairs set up, weaving through the staff and additional few models on the set. He keeps a hand on the back of Taehyung’s suit to keep from losing him. “You gonna post that?”

“Definitely. I look good. Did you get an invite?”

“Yeah.”

“Cool. I hope Celine Dion is there.”

The shoot goes well, as they usually do when Jeongguk and Taehyung work together. Taehyung has this uncanny ability to change his personality as soon as a camera is pointed in his direction. Unless the shoot calls for giggly, unabashed posing, Taehyung manages to turn into the most professional man Jeongguk has ever worked with, sending smoldering looks at the camera and quirking his lips into the perfect almost smirk. It’s a complete one-eighty sometimes; a change that had left Jeongguk winded the first time they worked together.

At one point, Taehyung stands between Namjoon and Jeongguk, his elbows resting on one of their shoulders each, Jeongguk alternating between looking at the camera and glancing at the men beside him. Taehyung hooks his finger into the corner of his mouth and leans his head almost entirely on Jeongguk’s shoulder, and the cameras go crazy. Jeongguk grips the back collar of Taehyung’s suit, looking away from the cameras for a moment, and hears one of the cameramen say, “Wonderful, guys. You all look wonderful.”

They each take a few solo shots in different areas of the ballroom, and then take a couple shots with the female models hired to showcase the women’s suits, and then the shoot is wrapped up when Taehyung launches himself onto Jeongguk’s back, nuzzling into his neck with a laugh.

Jeongguk washes the makeup off before they leave the hotel, preferring not to risk getting any foundation on his white t-shirt. Taehyung leads him out of the hotel, their duffel bags still hooked over their shoulders, and hails a taxi on the side of the street. The shoot had taken most of the afternoon, and now the sun’s sitting low in the sky while the nightlife of New York City comes alive.

“Can we stop by our hotel and nap?”

Taehyung laughs, jotting down the address of the party for the driver. “We can nap when we’re dead, Jeonggukie. Now let’s go!”

 

 

Spring shoots are always beautiful, but over the top as well. As the cherry trees begin to bloom and the days get warmer there are always more outdoors sets, but they always last longer. The directors of these shoots always want early morning pictures, midday shots, and pictures standing against a sunset. Jeongguk likes spring shoots, but he really doesn’t like waking for his call at three am, and not being allowed to go home to sleep until almost ten at night.

His partner today is a girl named Yerin, a student in her first year of modeling. Together they’re standing in a park in the middle of Seoul, leaning against a cherry blossom tree as the staff rush to finish setting everything up. They’ve been done with makeup for almost two hours now, dressed in some Louis Vuitton summer wear before it’ll be revealed for the season.

“Want a coffee?” Yerin asks, eyeing the table set up with coffees and snacks for the crew.

“Nah. Coffee doesn’t settle well in my stomach.”

“Oh.”

Jeongguk glances at her, chewing on her bottom lip and messing with her lipstick. She isn’t looking at him, staring at the large cameras a few meters away, at the staff setting up lights and white backdrops to maximize the natural light of the spring morning. “Nervous?”

Yerin briefly flickers her gaze to Jeongguk before nodding. “This is the biggest shoot I’ve done, and I’m doing it with you. It’s kind of terrifying.”

“I’m terrifying?”

“A little,” she says, giggling at Jeongguk’s comically confused expression. “You’ve done shoots all over the world! And I’ve never even left Seoul.”

Jeongguk contemplates it for a minute, staring at an intern holding a camera for one of the photographers. He’s been where Yerin is right now, shaky and terrified of destroying the legacy of his partner- his first large scale shoot was with Park Jimin, after all- but he’d had Yoongi at his side, talking him through his nerves with quiet sincerity and a promise of ice cream if everything went well. And after that, Jeongguk had Taehyung at his side, and he slowly settled into a routine and found his niche as a model.

“Can I tell you a secret?” Jeongguk asks, sticking his hands into his pockets. Yerin nods, finally looking away from the staff. “At my first big shoot, I had no idea what I was doing. I was so nervous that I spilled coffee all over the shirt I was modeling- a shirt that cost twice as much as I was making for the job. I wasn’t even drinking the coffee, either. I was holding it for my manager.”

“What did you do?”

“I paid for the shirt even though I was told not to. Also ran away to the bathroom for a couple hours,” Jeongguk continues, grinning at the memory. “Yoongi hyung found me in there and threatened to chop my dick off if I didn’t go do the shoot. I’d told him I was quitting, he said over his dead body, and I did the shoot. The rest is kind of history.”

Yerin laughs genuinely, and it’s the first real smile he’s seen on her face since they met that morning. “Maybe I should find a manager like Min.”

Jeongguk grimaces. “Last week he poured a glass of orange juice on my head to wake me up. I’d suggest starting with someone a little softer.”

During the shoot, the directors have Jeongguk pick Yerin up and spin her around beneath the trees as a few staff members shake the branches to get petals to fall around them. They’re supposed to be a happy couple ready to take on the world in their expensive, fashionable clothing, smiling widely at each other. The last few shots are of the two of them in the grass, Jeongguk’s hands on Yerin’s waist and hers resting on his jaw. Jeongguk stares softly at her eyes while Yerin glances up at the camera, as if scolding the viewer for interrupting such a beautiful moment.

“That’s a wrap, folks,” the director announces after taking a few shots in the setting sun, Jeongguk resting his head atop Yerin’s as they watch the sunset together.

“Want to grab dinner together?” Yerin asks, after they’ve changed back into their clothes.

“I’d love to,” Jeongguk starts. “But I’ve got an early flight to get back to the states. I have another shoot in two days, and I think Taehyung misses me. He’s sent me a hundred snapchats. A hundred, Yerin.”

By the time Jeongguk gets back to his hotel, the number of snapchats has increased by fifty and Jeongguk has decided that he’s not going to answer any of them. Taehyung had made the account for him months ago but that didn’t mean he had to use it.

Without Taehyung dragging him around the city, Jeongguk is far less inclined to go traveling. He didn’t know Seoul as intimately as he would like to, but he knew it well enough to get some good from a place a few blocks over without getting lost. And on the way back to the hotel, Jeongguk’s phone rings with a Face Time call.

“Hey, hyung.”

“Gukie!” Taehyung’s face is grainy through the poor connection, his eyes puffy with sleep. He’s got one eye open as if he’d just woken up, hiding a yawn behind his hand. “Did you finish working?”

“Yep. Got some food before my flight later tonight.”

Taehyung frowns and pulls his covers closer to his chin. Jeongguk realizes he must still be in bed. “You should explore, Jeongguk. It’s all work and no fun with you.”

“I went to an amusement park three days ago.”

“When I dragged you out of your apartment!”

Jeongguk breaks apart his chopsticks, propping his phone against a lamp in his hotel room and dodges the accusation by shoveling food into his mouth. “Do you work today?”

“Nope,” Taehyung says through a yawn. It’s almost ten where Taehyung is, but he looks sleepy enough for it to be the middle of the night. “I don’t have another shoot for almost a week. What about you?”

“A few hours after I land in Los Angeles.”

“Damn. You might take the number one spot before me if you keep taking every gig you’re offered.”

“Bills, Taehyung. They don’t pay themselves.”

Taehyung finally sits up in bed, the shift in angle allowing the thin beam of light from the window to slice across his face. He looks exhausted, and Jeongguk wonders if Jimin had kept him out all night again. “Come visit when you’re back, Gukie. I miss your hangover cures.”

Jeongguk grins, tries to hide it through a mouthful of food. “Just don’t drink as much. You’re hungover now?”

“Yes,” Taehyung groans, dramatically flopping back onto his bed. “Jimin challenged me to shots last night with Joy and the others. I need coffee.”

“I’d bring you one if I wasn’t on the other side of the world.”

“That’s why I need you in my life, Jeongguk,” Taehyung says, already looking like he’s drifting off again. “You’re always there when I need you.”

 

 

Taehyung doesn’t post his Instagram video until Jeongguk gets back from his shoot in Seoul. When Jeongguk asks why, Taehyung only shrugs and says the time hadn’t felt right until now, even though the campaign for the Armani suits had been premiered almost two months ago, and Jeongguk gets the notification that the video is posted while at the supermarket to restock his fridge. He isn’t sure how long he’s back in his L.A. apartment for, but he is sure that it’s completely void of food.

After dropping his food at home Jeongguk calls an Uber to get to Taehyung’s place in Malibu. It’s a long drive, pretty out of the way from Jeongguk’s own place, but he doesn’t mind. He picks up some pizza on the block before Taehyung and Jimin’s house and lets himself in with his spare key, announcing his presence with a loud, “Taebae, I’m home.”

Jimin’s sitting at a stool in the kitchen, giving Jeongguk one of his famous, “I’m disappointed but not surprised” looks over the top of his phone. “Why are you always in my house?”

Jeongguk holds up the pizza as a peace offering. “Because you love me?”

Jimin sighs, but there’s a smile tugging at the corners of his lips. He never could stay mad at Jeongguk, a well-known fact that Jeongguk was absolutely fine with exploiting. “Fine. You’re forgiven. Now, give it here.”

He does, setting the pizza onto the bar counter on the opposite side of the kitchen, sneaking a slice and folding it in half before letting Jimin get to it. A door slams from upstairs, and he hears someone stumble down the stairs. “Jeonggukie!” Taehyung comes to a halt in the kitchen, taking a bite of Jeongguk’s pizza before he can see it coming. “Did you bring coffee?”

“No?” Jeongguk asks, aware of Jimin watching the two of them with a little smile. Taehyung tries to reach for Jeongguk’s pizza again, which he holds high above his head until Taehyung relents and grabs a plate for his own food. “You didn’t ask for coffee.”

“But you said in Seoul that you’d bring me some.”

“That was three weeks ago!”

Taehyung waves away his little outburst, settling on the barstool next to Jimin. A TV in the living room is playing some Hollywood news station, the reports alternating from what the youngest Kardashian is wearing to whether or not Park Jimin really just brought back stripes for the summer. At one point, Jeongguk’s own face is on the screen for a story about the mystery items he was seen leaving the store with, and whether they offered any clues as to if Jeongguk had finally gotten himself a girlfriend. He’d picked up packing tape, for God’s sake, not a truckload of condoms.

Jimin eventually changes the channel to an old movie when one of the hosts goes on a spiel about how he’ll never properly pull off stripes. “I look good in stripes,” he says; tone a little bitter, fishing for another slice of pizza.

Walking further into the familiar kitchen, Jeongguk lets Taehyung deal with this one. “You look good in everything, Chim. That shirt? Gorgeous. But it’d look even better on my floor,” Taehyung’s saying, as Jeongguk gets to work digging through Taehyung’s cabinets for some coffee beans. Despite claiming he needed the drink to function, Taehyung either never had any mix in the house, or it was always in a new place every time Jeongguk came over.

“Shut up, Tae,” Jimin’s laughing, covering his mouth with his palm. “You’re ridiculous.”

“No, I’m serious! That red would look so nice on my carpets. Come strip for me.”

Jimin shoves Taehyung’s face away. “Never. You’re gross.”

Jeongguk finishes the coffee, brewing enough for only a few cups, and brings a mug over to the island with a little bit of cream in the cup, just how Taehyung takes it. Immediately grabbing it, Taehyung takes a long drink of the coffee, sighing once he’s finished. “You’re the best, Jeongguk.”

“You’re welcome, hyung.”

Jimin mimics barfing over the side of his chair. “Why don’t you two just get married already?”

Taehyung shrugs. “Jeonggukie hasn’t proposed yet.”

“Oh my God,” Jeongguk mutters, definitely not blushing, and shoves his palm against Taehyung’s pizza to smash the food into Taehyung’s face. Ignoring the indignant noises coming from Taehyung’s side of the table, Jeongguk leans his weight on his elbows and addresses Jimin with determination. “Got any projects lined up?”

“Just one before the summer begins,” Jimin says, reaching for red pepper flakes for his pizza. “That Saint Laurent fall campaign. After that I think I’ll go visit my parents in Busan for a while, at least until fashion weeks begin in June.”

Jeongguk picks at the cheese on his pizza. “Is that the campaign with the Jenner girl?”

Jimin fixes him with a flat look. “You really should know more people in the business, Jeonggukie. What if you’re offered a solo with ‘the Jenner girl’? It could be huge for your career!”

“No-yeah, hyung, that’s what I’m saying. I think Yoongi hyung emailed me about this campaign?”

“Really?”

Jeongguk digs his phone out of his pocket, wiping his greasy hands on a few paper towels before unlocking the device. He searches for the email he swears he read a few mornings ago, when the sun had shone unforgivingly against his eyes after only a couple hours of sleep before he’d ultimately re-locked his phone and fallen asleep for the rest of the afternoon.

Taehyung makes a noise of remembrance, still wiping grease from his nose. “I think Hoseokie hyung mentioned that campaign to me last week.”

“Here it is,” Jeongguk says, turning his phone around so Jimin and Taehyung could see the offer. “It must be big, if they’re calling in all these people. Hadid, Jenner. Oh! My partner in Seoul was invited, too.”

“You guys gonna do it?” Jimin asks.

Taehyung sighs dramatically, slumping in his chair and staring at the ceiling. His hair curls over his brows, his lips pouted out as he pinches the bridge of his nose between two fingers. Jeongguk bites on his tongue to keep from grinning too obviously. He knows what’s coming when Taehyung lets out a deep breath again. “When are they going to put me in Gucci? If I keep taking all these other brands, Gucci might think I’m cheating!”

“You can’t cheat on a brand, Tae,” Jimin says, patting Taehyung’s back.

He continues, “Maybe this is why no one from Gucci has contacted me yet. They see me wearing Louis Vuitton or Saint Laurent and assume I’m a taken man! Haven’t they seen my phone case- or my socks? Pretty sure at this point I bleed Gucci.”

“I bet you’ll have a contract with Gucci before your birthday this year,” Jeongguk assures, reaching across the table to flick at Taehyung’s nose. He’s still pouting, but at least now he’s no longer staring hopelessly at the ceiling. Taehyung’s modeled almost every top brand in the world and was still neck and neck with Jeongguk on their ascension to the top, but he still hasn’t gotten the one offer he really, really wants.

“Do you think they make Gucci condoms?”

“I think,” Jimin reaches under the bar table for the first bottle his hand comes in contact with- a malt scotch. Jeongguk groans, heading to the fridge for hard lemonade instead. “It’s time to change the subject.”

 

 

They all end up taking the job, mostly because it’s always fun to work with friends, but also because it’s a job and as Jeongguk is always ready to remind Taehyung, there are bills that need to be paid. Despite living in a modest apartment, Jeongguk sends most of his money home to his family and constantly has to talk Taehyung down from splurging on anything that crosses his line of sight. Right now he’s got his eye on a pretty house in Palm Springs, and Jeongguk knows he’s powerless to stop Taehyung once he really wants something.

The setting for this shoot is a hotel room, the underlying story something about rich socialites spending their free time lounging around in expensive suits in expensive suites. It’s a little ridiculous, Jeongguk thinks, to be placing so many models in just two rooms, but that’s what they’re doing. The girls are all in fancy evening dresses with slits to their hips and low backs that give the illusion of no back whatsoever, while the guys are all in suits, either full ones like Jeongguk, or in slacks and a button down like Jimin.

They got Kim Seokjin for this and Jeongguk can’t help but openly stare at the guy from across the room after finishing with hair and makeup. Seokjin’s top dog, been doing this for so long that there’s speculation no one could ever be as good as him, and Jeongguk feels absolutely small in the same room as the icon.

They’d never worked together before, and the terribly shy part of Jeongguk had secretly hoped they wouldn’t. Taehyung, as with most things, doesn’t seem to mind.

He elbows Jeongguk in the side as soon as they’re in the designated room before running off to meet Seokjin. Taehyung’s dressed in a baby blue full suit today, the color soft and pretty against Taehyung’s golden tanned skin, making the dark of his freshly dyed black hair, styled to show his forehead, stand out even more. His eyes are shining and bright, and the white of the shirt beneath his jacket looks devastatingly gorgeous against Taehyung’s strong skin. He could steal Jeongguk’s lead with this shoot, and the worst part about it is that Jeongguk wouldn’t even mind.

“You’re drooling there, champ.” Jimin claps Jeongguk on the shoulder, sneaking up on him. Jeongguk actually wipes at his mouth with the back of his hand, Jimin staring at him incredulously. “I was… kidding, Guk. I was kidding.”

“Shut up.”

“Don’t tell me-”

“Hyung. Shut up.”

“Don’t tell me you’ve finally realized.”

Jeongguk shrugs Jimin’s hand off his shoulder, some odd feeling trying to kick its way through his stomach. Across the room, Taehyung laughs at something Seokjin is saying, and Jeongguk finds his expression softening. “Don’t know what you’re talking about. Don’t want to know.”

Jimin stares at Jeongguk’s profile for a long, silent minute. Around them the other models are finishing with their hair and makeup, the final zippers being done up and suit jackets being cuffed. Jeongguk feels marginally exposed under Jimin’s intense gaze, and his hair is done up and away from his forehead today, so he can’t even hide under his bangs. The most he can do is will himself not to flush, and furiously try not to hear Taehyung’s voice as he tells a joke back to Seokjin.

“Whatever,” Jimin finally says. “Whatever, let’s go meet Seokjin, huh?”

Seokjin is nice, really nice, and very excited to finally be meeting Jeongguk. He reminds Jeongguk a little of his older brother, but with way more dad jokes and a laugh like windshield wipers that has Jeongguk’s worry and apprehension fading away. In the middle of one of Seokjin’s stories Taehyung rejoins Jeongguk’s side, hooking his chin onto Jeongguk’s shoulder with a little hum.

Yerin finds them huddled in the corner, still laughing at some story being told, and Jeongguk introduces her to his friends with an arm around her shoulders and her head tucked under his chin.

Jeongguk ends up paired mostly with Seokjin for the duration of the shoot, the two of them seated in plush chairs by the window. After a few pictures there, Jeongguk takes initiative and walks behind Seokjin’s chair, pausing just at the end to stare back at the camera as Seokjin reaches for a glass of something to hold. Behind the director’s head, Yoongi sends Jeongguk thumbs up, and he turns his head away- to the staff, he looks aloof, but to Yoongi, he looks like he’s trying to hide a grin.

His next few pictures are staged on the bed, where he lies on his back with Yerin on one side and Karlie Kloss on the other, their heads vying for room on his chest. The director says he looks a little uncomfortable and Taehyung snickers, standing on the side of the bed that’s not in the angle of the shots and taking as many pictures as he can with his phone. Yerin reaches for Jeongguk’s hand and squeezes it, and after that he finds it much easier to be posed around the female models.

His last few pictures are Taehyung’s first few, and these are done in the hallway just inside the hotel door. They lean against opposite walls, facing each other with legs propped against the wall and grins on their lips. A few people gather around the main photographer to watch while the other models get their pictures taken around both rooms. When Taehyung thinks the director is distracted he grabs for Jeongguk’s tie and tugs until Jeongguk loses his footing and nearly stumbles into Taehyung’s chest, his heart beating wildly with the adrenaline that comes with being interrupted. Or so he tells himself. Taehyung tips his chin, whispers something about Hoseok’s hand being in the back pocket of Yoongi’s jeans for the better part of an hour before letting Jeongguk go. Jeongguk tries to look mad, but he just ends up grinning by the time the flash is going off again.

Taehyung sets off to do his individual shots and a few poses with Bogum, and Jeongguk sits in a corner waiting to see if they need him again.

“Hey,” Jimin stands in the doorway to the bathroom as the entire shoot starts winding down, staring into the mirror to look at everyone. As soon as he was given the green light Jeongguk had ditched his suit jacket and gotten to washing off his makeup, Taehyung sitting on the side of the bathtub scrolling through his phone, and Yerin sitting on the sink next to Jeongguk. “Everyone’s heading to Dirty Laundry for some drinks. You guys in?”

“Sure,” Taehyung answers and Yerin initially declines.

“Don’t you want to drink?” Jeongguk asks as they’re leaving the hotel and heading to the parking garage.

She shakes her head. “Not old enough to drink in the states.”

“Oh. Sucks.”

“Yeah.”

“You should still come, though. It’ll be a good chance to get to know everyone.”

The club is packed by the time everyone gets there, but luckily Karlie had secured two of the VIP booths for everyone to sit at. Dirty Laundry is dark, lights flashing throughout the club and backlights washing out dirty secrets. People dance filthily on the floor, screaming and laughing and knocking back drinks that the bartenders keep sliding over, taking credit cards and starting tabs with wickedly polite grins.

Taehyung orders his usual and orders a drink for Jeongguk as well, picking them up at the bar before settling at Jeongguk’s side, Yerin at his other. Jimin quickly knocks back a few shots with Kendall, his shirt loose and mostly unbuttoned, skin glowing in the disco lights of the club. The music pounds against Jeongguk’s ears as he sips at his drink, watching Taehyung swipe Jimin’s third shot.

After his first drink Jeongguk is relaxed and smiling, not far gone enough to be willing to grind up against strangers, but definitely tipsy enough to appreciate the view of the pretty people dancing on the floor. He thinks he spots a few famous actresses, and makes a note to send Taehyung into the bathroom to make friends with them.

Halfway through his second drink he turns to Yerin, nursing a Coke with her free hand in a bag of chips, looking a little lost and intimidated. Jeongguk has to shout a little to be heard over the music. “So, when did you leave Seoul?”

Yerin brightens considerably, and turns away from the guy who’d been trying to hit on her. “A week ago! I wanted to call you to let you know, but I, ah, I don’t have your number.”

“Oh, here.” Jeongguk grabs his phone off the table, unlocking it and handing it to Yerin.

Taehyung taps his shoulder, lips close to Jeongguk’s ear when he says, “I’m gonna go dance.”

“Sure,” Jeongguk says, shivering a little in the absence of Taehyung’s body heat. He watches Taehyung from the corner of his eye, aware that both of them are shit at holding their alcohol, but when he doesn’t trip or puke on the first person who crosses his path, Jeongguk allows himself to relax, and turns his attention back to Yerin. “Are you in town for long?”

“I’m doing a shoot with Park Bogum in a couple of weeks, but after that I’m not so sure. I don’t have a place in the states yet, so I might just go home. I’m already homesick.”

“I get that,” Jeongguk says, finishing off his second drink and ordering a third. “If it helps, our campaign was wildly popular, so if your manager needs another partner I’m more than willing to help out.”

Yerin grins, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “Really? That would be amazing, oppa. Seriously.”

Jeongguk chokes a little on his drink, coughing around a cube of ice. “No need for the formalities, please. I’d love to work with you again. And maybe I could give you Jimin’s number, he pushed me so hard in our first shoot together I probably wouldn’t be where I am without him.”

He gets a little distracted by the change of song, the music changing from that Bruno Mars song Taehyung had been singing for weeks, something about Versace, and into something more upbeat. The people dancing start screaming, thrilled with the choice of music, and Jeongguk’s eyes scan the crowd until they land on Taehyung with his arms wrapped around Jimin’s shoulders and a box of a grin on his lips. Jeongguk finds himself intoxicated on the way Taehyung dances, the sway of his hips as he’s grinding against Jimin. And Jeongguk knows there’s nothing more to that, to the little dance Taehyung’s doing, but Jeongguk can’t help but watch every little moment and maybe, as he takes another long drink, wish that he were there instead.

Jeongguk’s a little distracted and he writes Jimin’s name incorrectly on Yerin’s phone three times before ultimately giving it up for her to do instead, laughing in that way drunk people do when they’re trying not to appear so drunk. Taehyung’s turning Jimin around, pressing his front flush against Jimin’s back as they move in tandem, and Jeongguk’s fine. Really he is.

“Sorry if this is bold,” Yerin says, taking the shot glass Jeongguk wasn’t aware he’d just drank from out of his fingers. “But are you and Taehyung together? You seem kind of inseparable.”

“He’s my best friend.” Jeongguk says through a sour taste in his mouth, lips turning down before he can try to school the expression. Taehyung slips his hands beneath the hem of Jimin’s t-shirt and Jeongguk grips his drink just a little tighter. “Plus, he’s clingy.”

“Oh.”

If Jeongguk had thought things couldn’t be worse, he would have bitterly lost that bet because in that moment Bogum crosses the dance floor with two bright colored drinks and hands one to Taehyung. Jimin hobbles off to the bathroom, and then Taehyung and Bogum are linking their arms together to throw back the drinks before settling in each other’s arms to dance. One of Taehyung’s arms loops over Bogum’s shoulders to hold him close, the other hand squeezing Bogum’s hip as he grinds.

Taehyung is the picture of pure sin in the club lights, all dark lined eyes and wicked smirks set to capture the fancy of any and everyone who happened to look his way. His button up is half undone and sloppily tucked into his black jeans, which are Jeongguk’s jeans and ergo a little big on him, but Taehyung just makes it work. Like he makes it work when he goes to the airport dressed in loose slacks and shirts with holes that he cut himself. Or the way he makes it work when he’s strutting down a catwalk or borrowing a model’s pair of heels to see if he can dance in them. Or when he’s just in jeans and an old punk band t-shirt of Jeongguk’s, sprawled along Jeongguk’s couch and trying to decide if he needs to buy a vintage GameCube if they’re never going to make more games for the console.

Taehyung just makes everything work, and right now everything is working against Jeongguk.

Bogum leans down to whisper something in Taehyung’s ear and Taehyung laughs, throwing his head back and laughing so loudly that Jeongguk can hear him over the music. Taehyung pulls Bogum close enough to mouth at the hollow of Bogum’s throat, and Jeongguk reaches for the shot the waiter had been trying to hand to Seokjin.

“Dude,” Seokjin says, sharing a look with Yerin. “What’s your limit?”

“Don’t know, don’t care,” Jeongguk shrugs, repeating his words from earlier but this time Jimin would say that he does care, and the scowl that darkens his features is more than enough proof of that. “What were you talking about, Yerin?”

“Oh, uhm.” She looks a little surprised when Jeongguk tries valiantly to focus on her again, but her face keeps splitting into two and merging and it’s making Jeongguk’s head start to spin. “I guess, just that I hope to find someone as good to me in the industry as Taehyung is to you.”

“Yeah, Taehyung.” Jeongguk repeats, rolling the name around on his tongue. His head lolls for a brief second before he forces himself onto shaky legs. “Where’s Taehyung? Need him to take me home.”

“Wait, Jeongguk.” Yerin reaches for his hand but he shakes her off. “I’m the one to-”

The rest of what she had to say gets lost in the background as Jeongguk stumbles his way onto the dance floor, body being jostled between everyone who’s dancing. He’s focused on Taehyung, who’s grinning and smiling, looking so unfairly gorgeous beneath the harsh club lights. No one’s supposed to look that good in these lights.

Jeongguk doesn’t tap on Taehyung’s shoulder or wait to be seen, does nothing that could be constituted as polite. Instead, he walks right into Taehyung’s side and wraps his arms around Taehyung’s waist, breathing in the sweat and musk of his neck. Taehyung startles and drops his arms to support Jeongguk’s weight when his legs almost give out.

“Jeonggukie?” Taehyung says, loud enough to be heard but not loud enough to Jeongguk. He shares a look with Bogum above Jeongguk’s head, adjusting his arms under Jeongguk’s shoulders to better support him. “Silly, how much did you drink?”

“Mm, missed you.”

“Jeongguk, I’ve been here all night.”

Jeongguk pulls his head back to pout up at Taehyung. “But you haven’t been with me.”

Taehyung’s eyes soften and Jeongguk’s head spins, trapped in this odd moment of too much, the lights and music and drinks; and not nearly enough, Taehyung’s hands innocently placed on his shoulders, not any lower. He forgets about Bogum standing behind them, forgets about everything to shove his face against Taehyung’s neck again.

“Sorry,” Taehyung’s saying, reaching one hand to stroke through Jeongguk’s hair. He shivers. “Sorry, Bogumie. I think I better take him home.”

“It’s cool,” Bogum says, and Jeongguk mocks his tone silently against the skin of Taehyung’s collarbones. “You good to drive?”

“Nah. I’ll call an Uber.”

“Call me if you need anything.”

It takes a lot of effort to get Jeongguk out of the club. He’s drunk and he’s clingy, unwilling to let go of Taehyung for even a few seconds. Jimin thinks it’s hilarious when they stop by the bar to say goodnight, and even Taehyung’s laughing as he hooks one of Jeongguk’s arms around his shoulder. But that isn’t good enough for Jeongguk, who risks tripping over his own two feet to keep both arms around Taehyung.

“Jeonggukie, dude, I can’t really breathe,” Taehyung laughs, squeezing Jeongguk’s waist, but he doesn’t relent.

They only have to wait for the Uber for a few minutes outside the club, the air a little too warm for Jeongguk’s drunken liking. It makes it difficult to cling onto Taehyung, his skin slick with sweat, but Jeongguk makes do.

In the Uber, Jeongguk presses Taehyung’s body against the opposite door, laying his body along Taehyung’s to nose along the column of his neck. Taehyung repeats Jeongguk’s address to the driver, trying to push Jeongguk off but it proves fruitless when Jeongguk holds on that much harder. His head is still spinning, center of gravity completely thrown off by the last few shots he had taken, and the only thing that seems to make sense to him in that moment is Taehyung’s skin against his.

“Guk?” Taehyung is laughing, carding his fingers through Jeongguk’s hair. It can’t be comfortable wedged against the car door, but Taehyung doesn’t complain. And the Uber driver doesn’t make a comment, has probably seen worse things in the back of his car on a Friday night.

“You’re warm,” Jeongguk sighs, whispering the words against Taehyung’s throat. His body is so warm and soft beneath Jeongguk’s, his arms strong around Jeongguk’s back that he’s craving even more.

“Are you feeling alright?”

“Perfect with you here.”

Jeongguk’s slurring, he’s well aware that he is, but he isn’t aware enough to push himself off of Taehyung’s body. His face moves slightly and then Taehyung’s stiffening beneath him as Jeongguk mouths along his jaw, kissing any skin he can reach.

“Jeongguk-”

“Shh, hyung.” Jeongguk’s arms give out and he collapses fully on Taehyung’s chest, keeping his lips somewhere near Taehyung’s collarbones as he sucks and bites along the spot.

Taehyung stays silent, occasionally squirming beneath Jeongguk as they’re driven home. His fists are curled in the back of Jeongguk’s t-shirt, and when the car stops outside Jeongguk’s apartment, he scrambles to get out of the car, letting Jeongguk fall face first onto the fake leather of the seat as he murmurs apologies to the drivers and leaves a large tip.

His arms snake beneath Jeongguk’s shoulders, struggling to pull him out of the back of the car. Jeongguk’s head flops against Taehyung’s chest, his legs refusing to work properly and he’s giggling, clinging onto Taehyung’s waist and laughing at everything and nothing in particular. Taehyung uses his spare key to get the door open, but Jeongguk doesn’t want to go any farther than the couch, dragging Taehyung down with him.

 

 

Jeongguk passes out with his face in Taehyung’s shoulder, and wakes up alone on his couch. His head is pounding, vision a little blurry as he comes to. There’s a blanket draped over his body, fluffy and warm against his grimy skin, and the room spins as Jeongguk tries to sit himself upright. He spots Advil and a bottle of water on the coffee table, and risks the nausea to lunge for them.

Cruelly, Jeongguk remembers everything. He remembers blowing Yerin off, remembers crashing into Taehyung on the dance floor, and worse of all he remembers keeping his lips on Taehyung’s skin for as long as possible.

“You goddam moron,” Jeongguk berates himself, staring at the takeout order he’d just placed on his phone.

His hangover keeps him in bed for most of the day, wrapped in as many blankets as possible as he tries to ignore his memories and ignores the messages lighting up his phone- except for Yerin. He apologizes about ten times to her. He’s an idiot, an absolute dumbass. Jeongguk wasn’t a stranger to the rumors, to the stories that gossip columns like to write about him, asking why he’s never had a girlfriend or why he’s always hanging around Taehyung. But he never thought it would take one baby blue suit and a few good shots to send Jeongguk into a spiral.

Did he love Taehyung? Of course Jeongguk did. He had been Jeongguk’s best friend for almost five years now, knew things about Jeongguk that his own family didn’t even know. Taehyung had been attached at his hip since their first shoot together, had dragged Jeongguk all over the world just to see landmarks, just to kill time, or just because. Jeongguk spent more time at Taehyung’s place than his own when they were both in the country together and linked his fingers through Taehyung’s on instinct whenever they stood near each other. Jimin constantly made jokes that all Jeongguk and Taehyung needed was a marriage license to make things official, and Jeongguk would always scoff and shove Taehyung’s face, eyes fluttering sweetly, as far away as possible.

Was that love? Had Jeongguk been in love the entire time?

Jeongguk’s front door slams open and he winces, poking his head out of his sheets to glare at his front door. Jimin and Namjoon would be too hung over to come visit, but there is one person Jeongguk knows who doesn’t give a shit about manners.

“Rise and shine, sleeping beauty,” Yoongi says, voice monotone. He yanks open the curtain at the window and Jeongguk groans, burying his head under his blankets again, but Yoongi doesn’t stop there. He pulls the blankets off Jeongguk’s body, waiting patiently through the spiel of curses that fall from Jeongguk’s lips. “Don’t give me that shit, kid. You have that eyewear gig today, remember?”

“No,” Jeongguk says. “No, I don’t, hyung.”

“Yes, you do. It’s on you for forgetting. Now get up and shower, and you better pray that the studio has enough makeup to fix your mess of a face.”

And after the disaster of a shoot, where Jeongguk spends a whole five hours in makeup trying to hide the dark bags under his eyes, things start going bad when Jeongguk declines an offer he knew Taehyung already accepted.

Jeongguk very rarely turns down offers. He knows he’s lucky to be where he is today, to get to work with the top brands and with the top elite of the modeling world, and because of that he’s only ever said no to a few jobs throughout his career. But as soon as the brand clicks in Jeongguk’s mind as a project Taehyung had mentioned a month ago, Jeongguk turns it down.

He tries to pretend the night at the club never happened, but it’s difficult to do so when he turns up to lunch with Taehyung and Jimin a few days later and sees the violent hickey he left in the dip of Taehyung’s neck.

“Dude, who the hell mauled you?” Jimin had asked, fingers in Taehyung’s collar to try and see the mark better.

Jeongguk’s cheeks had burned, gaze on his plate of food as Taehyung tried to laugh it off, swatting at Jimin’s hands. “Do I have to tell you about each of my endeavors?”

“Yes? The fuck, dude, bro code says so.”

And if Jeongguk remembers everything from that night, then Taehyung does, too. Taehyung remembers what he said and did, probably even better than Jeongguk himself, but he doesn’t bring it up. And Jeongguk doesn’t bring it up. And they dance awkwardly around the subject while Jeongguk tries desperately not to let it affect their friendship.

Between projects Jeongguk takes a trip to Busan to visit his parents. He leaves about a week after Jimin had, Taehyung lamenting losing both of his best friends when he himself didn’t have any time for a vacation, but Jeongguk had just forced a smile and pat the top of his head as if nothing had changed, and promised to bring him some souvenirs.

His parents are more than excited to see him, and on Jeongguk’s last day in the town he invites Jimin over for dinner.

“Has anyone ever told you you’re an idiot?” Jimin asks out of the blue, as he and Jeongguk are washing the dishes after the meal.

“Elaborate.”

Jimin dries the plate in his hand, placing it on the pile before continuing. “Taehyung told me about what happened in the Uber, Jeongguk.”

“Oh.”

“Oh? That’s all you have to say?” He hands Jimin a bowl to dry, hoping the drain could pull him into the water to drown. Jeongguk had really hoped to avoid this topic forever. “Why would you string him along like that? I’ll admit you’re doing an okay job at pretending nothing ever happened, but. Jeongguk, if you like him you have to tell him.”

Jeongguk frowns. “I don’t like him. Not like that.”

“That’s got to be your worst lie yet, and I watched you try to act.”

Putting all of his energy into washing the dishes, Jeongguk doesn’t look at Jimin. “I’m not. Hyung, I really. Don’t. Know what-”

“Oh my God, use your words, Jeongguk.”

“I do not know if I like him or not!” Jeongguk hisses, splashing some soapy water at Jimin’s shirt. He gets a nasty glare in return, but it’s better than the uncomfortable knot in Jeongguk’s stomach that had refused to come undone. “He’s my best friend. I don’t want to lose what we have.”

“You two already act married half the time, what the hell could change?”

“The intimacy? I don’t know if he wants that with me.”

Jimin looks unamused. “I once walked in on the two of you asleep on the couch with Taehyung’s hand down your pants-"

"His hands were cold-"

"Shove it. It can’t get much more intimate than that.”

“Yes, it can-”

“Talk to him,” Jimin interrupts, speaking over Jeongguk’s protests. “At least talk about what happened outside the club. I get concerned when the two of you aren’t being all weirdly domestic together.”

Jeongguk whines a little, handing over the last of the plates to be dried. He contemplates missing his upcoming job to stay in Busan for… the rest of his life so as not to have this conversation with Taehyung. “Can’t you do it?”

“No way, man. I’m not the one with the boner for him.”

 

 

Yoongi picks Jeongguk up at the airport and instead of taking him home; he drives Jeongguk to the nearest dock. He recognizes the set up of a job, cameras lining the deck of a pretty yacht, people walking on and off the boat as they load supplies onto the ship. He recognizes a few makeup artists he’s worked with before, and the director from his shoot in the hotel room with the others.

“I don’t have a job today.” Jeongguk says, as Yoongi turns the car off. He didn’t get very much sleep on the flight home and was really looking forward to sleeping the next few days away.

“You don’t, but Hoseok called.” Yoongi says, slipping on a pair of sunglasses. “Something about moral support.”

“Moral support?”

“You’ll see.”

Yoongi leads Jeongguk onto the set, enough of the staff recognizing them that they aren’t stopped on their way to the boat. Jeongguk’s trying to figure out why he’s needed here, looking for a newbie or an overemotional model and wondering why he was brought here. Namjoon and Jimin were better at calming down models before the shoots began. Jeongguk was better at sitting in the corner and ignoring everything that wasn’t his job.

On the first floor Jeongguk loses Yoongi to Hoseok, both men leaning against the small bar in the middle of the boat. This still isn’t making sense to Jeongguk, weaving through the men and women trying to set the proper ambiance for the shoot until Jeongguk catches sight of Taehyung speaking to the director, and everything clicks into place.

“Jeongguk?” Taehyung catches sight of him, politely excusing himself from the conversation to cross the floor. He’s wearing a bathrobe; the suit or whatever he’s modeling likely underneath, and his hair is fluffy and falling naturally into his eyes. He looks soft and clean, and Jeongguk’s heart pitches violently into his throat. “What are you doing here? I thought you were still in Busan.”

“Just landed. Hoseok called Yoongi about someone here needing moral support.” Jeongguk chuckles, and Taehyung offers an uneasy smile. “You’re still afraid of boats?”

“Kind of difficult to get over it when you avoid boats at all costs.”

“What made you take this job?”

“Hoseokie said it could be good.”

“Ah.”

Taehyung hooks his fingers into the loops of his bathrobe, looking out of place without the pockets of his slacks to hide his hands in. He looks away from Jeongguk and a light sparks in his eye. “I need a shot.”

Jeongguk follows Taehyung to the bar, worrying his bottom lip as he keeps watch for the director. He knows the stories about some professionals who can’t work unless they’re buzzed, who have been in the business for so long it takes several shots just to get them pliant enough to do a decent job. It’s not something Jeongguk’s ever done, and neither has Taehyung. “This isn’t a good idea, hyung-”

“Relax, Guk.” Taehyung says, fishing behind the bar for a bottle of something and a shot glass. He knocks back a shot before he stands, placing the bottle on the bar. Yoongi and Hoseok had disappeared to talk business, and Jeongguk wonders if they’ll come back before the boat sets out to sea.

He gets his answer when the boat lurches and Taehyung’s smile falls, reaching for the bottle to take another shot before Jeongguk can take the alcohol. “No more, okay?”

“Okay.”

“Relax, hyung. You’re going to be fine.”

“Taehyung?” The director calls, a tiny woman with a seriously intimidating arch of her brow. “We’re ready to begin.”

If things were bad before, they get marginally worse for Jeongguk as the shoot begins because Kim Taehyung is doing an underwear campaign. Calvin Klein, he’s told just as everything begins. Taehyung is in only a pair of white boxers, his crotch so distracting to Jeongguk that he almost runs back to the bar, but he can’t risk it.

The first scene of the shoot is on the bottom level of the yacht, Taehyung sitting against the wall with one of his legs propped over the other. He’s been given a few fake tattoos for the shoot, black swirls of fake ink on his arms and shoulders and it’s so fucking gorgeous. Taehyung always said he didn’t want tattoos because of his father’s opinion on them, but Jeongguk couldn’t deny that he looked sexy as hell with them. Taehyung spreads his legs, looking away from the camera with his lip bitten between his teeth, and Jeongguk reaches for one of the water bottles on the snack table.

Taehyung sneaks another shot as they move to the second level of the boat.

Jumping onto the bed in the room of the second set of photos, Taehyung snuggles beneath all of the blankets for a few long moments before the director reminds him that they’re on a schedule. “Sorry, sorry,” Taehyung’s saying, cheeks flushed. “Underwear shoots still freak me out a little.”

Underwear and shifting waves, Jeongguk knows is what Taehyung means. The boat lurches with the waves, undulating softly beneath Jeongguk’s feet, and he knows that Taehyung is incredibly out of his element. Before the camera starts going off again, Jeongguk squeezes Taehyung’s fingers in his hand. Steady. Supportive.

The highlight of this set of pictures comes with Taehyung hanging halfway off the bed, smirking seductively at the camera with nothing but the boxers to cover him, his hand resting not so innocently on his own hip.

Jeongguk wishes they would put Taehyung in more conservative underwear.

(No, he doesn’t.)

“You doing okay?” Jeongguk asks during a break after the second group of photos. Taehyung is sitting on the bed, in a big, fluffy bathrobe so he doesn’t get cold. From across the room, Jeongguk can see the director looking over the photos so far. “Hyung?”

“I’m okay, Jeonggukie. After all, I’m on a boat.”

Jeongguk rolls his eyes, but a smile tugs on his lips. “Did you take this job just to say that?”

“It may have crossed my mind.”

Jeongguk doesn’t see, but he’s sure Taehyung brought the bottle onto the upper deck with him for the final set of pictures. He’s been changed into black boxers this time around, smaller than the white ones, and Jeongguk’s absolutely dead. The director leaves him in the silk white bathrobe and gets him to lean against the railing of the yacht, the midday sun shining on his back, making his skin glow.

Taehyung has sunglasses hooked on the back of his head and he’s grinning in the warm sun. He lounges against the railing, arms spread and expression relaxed. How any of this is supposed to properly sell a package of boxers is beyond Jeongguk, mouth still dry and gaze fixated on Taehyung’s strong thighs.

Did Yoongi bring Jeongguk here for moral support or to get him to throw himself overboard? Because the second option was beginning to sound really good to Jeongguk.

“That’s good, Taehyung. I think we have enough pictures, but we’ll let you know soon,” the director says, looking up from her computer monitor.

Taehyung ties the silk belt around his waist. “When do we dock?”

“An hour or so.”

“I need the bathroom.”

Taehyung stumbles off the set and Jeongguk follows, concern weighing his limbs down as Taehyung fumbles with the knob to the nearest bathroom.

“Tae?” Jeongguk closes the door carefully behind himself, Taehyung leaning over the sink to splash water on his flushed skin. He’s swaying a little, but Jeongguk can’t quite discern if it’s because of the shots he’s taken or because of the way the boat is moving.

“Sorry,” Taehyung says into his hands, water streaming down his forearms. “Sorry. I just really, really hate boats.”

“You don’t have to apologize to me, hyung.” Jeongguk reaches for some paper towels to dry off Taehyung’s skin, turning the water off for him. “But hey, you’re done now. After today you never have to step foot on another boat again.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

Taehyung lets out a sigh and finally lowers his hands from his face, flushed red from nerves and the water. He bites at his lip, fidgeting before Jeongguk, eyes flickering between glancing at Jeongguk and at the floor, and Jeongguk’s suddenly hyperaware of his lack of dress, of the unspoken hickey, and the strange charge to the air between them.

He drops his hands, dropping the paper towels too, and takes a step to put some space between himself and Taehyung. But Taehyung just closes that distance, skillfully dismantling every one of Jeongguk’s defenses.

“Gukie,” Taehyung murmurs slowly, staring at Jeongguk’s lips. A shiver passes its way down Jeongguk’s spine, fixated on the way Taehyung’s tongue brushes over his lower lip. “Can you promise me another thing?”

Jeongguk breathes, “Anything.”

Taehyung closes the sparse distance between them, kissing Jeongguk forcefully, lips stumbling into his. Jeongguk jerks a little at the contact, eyes falling shut as he kisses back, opening his mouth to Taehyung’s eager tongue. Hands grasp at Jeongguk’s waist, tugging him flush against Taehyung’s warm body as they kiss, wrapped up in each other and Jeongguk’s so damn pleased in this moment he wouldn’t mind if the world ended here and now.

The silk of the bathrobe is soft against Jeongguk’s fingers as he wraps his arms around Taehyung’s frame. Everything is spinning, the taste of whiskey and chocolate hidden on Taehyung’s tongue while the world re-orients itself around the two of them and Taehyung breaks the kiss to trail his lips down Jeongguk’s neck.

Jeongguk moans, consciously trying to keep himself quiet as Taehyung nibbles on a sensitive spot beneath his ear. His legs threaten to give out, desire pooling in the pit of his stomach as he tugs Taehyung’s mouth back to his.

“Tae- Taehyung,” Jeongguk whispers, whining in the back of his throat when Taehyung’s fingers snake into his hair, tugging harshly.

“Sh,” Taehyung mouths at his throat. “I got you, Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk pushes and Taehyung relents, allowing him to push Taehyung against the nearest wall, using the leverage to kiss Taehyung even deeper. He can’t get enough of this, Taehyung’s hips beneath his fingers, his mouth, and breathing heavy as Taehyung takes the opportunity to suck a hickey somewhere in the valley of Jeongguk’s throat. Payback, says the wicked look that Taehyung gives him; more says the frantic way Jeongguk kisses him again, hips snapping against Taehyung’s.

The loose knot of Taehyung’s belt gives easily beneath Jeongguk’s shaky fingers, the silk slipping until the bathrobe falls open. Taehyung shivers; he hadn’t had time to get dressed after the shoot had ended, but his hands are hot on Jeongguk’s shoulders, urging him along with a nip to his bottom lip.

“Is this okay?” Jeongguk whispers into Taehyung’s mouth, his fingers dancing along the hem of Taehyung’s boxers.

“Please, Guk.”

Jeongguk slips his hand into Taehyung’s boxers, wrapping his hand around the hot length, the tip already wet with precum. Taehyung shudders violently, squirming in Jeongguk’s arms until he’s got a thigh wedged between Jeongguk’s hips, and he may be the one crowded against the wall by Jeongguk’s frame, but Jeongguk’s the one rutting down on Taehyung’s thigh, distracted by the pleasure that wracks his body at the contact.

And whereas Jeongguk was hesitant, carefully taking Taehyung’s hard cock into his hands, Taehyung holds nothing back. He drops his hands from Jeongguk’s shoulders, hurriedly undoing the button of Jeongguk’s jeans to shove his hand inside, pressing the heel of his palm against Jeongguk’s cock.

“Fuck,” Jeongguk hisses, hips stuttering into the touch.

“Kiss me again,” Taehyung demands, tugging Jeongguk’s pants and underwear down just enough to get his big hand properly around Jeongguk’s cock.

Jeongguk’s a mess, he can fucking tell as much, whining into Taehyung’s mouth as he kisses him and misses his mark more often than not. He blames Taehyung, with his deft fingers twisting and sliding up Jeongguk’s cock and bringing him closer to an edge Jeongguk feels that he’s been standing on for longer than he can remember. Taehyung’s name mixed with a litany of curses fall from Jeongguk’s lips, but he’s not gone enough to forget that they aren’t alone on this forsaken boat, hiding his face in the crook of Taehyung’s neck to try and muffle his noises.

“Tae- Tae, please,” Jeongguk whimpers, voice pitching with each syllable. He can barely maintain a sloppy rhythm of his hand on Taehyung’s dick, body arching into Taehyung’s and teeth closing over a shoulder to quiet his particularly loud moan. “Please, more- hyung.”

“Here,” Taehyung’s voice is a growl, low and deep in Jeongguk’s ear that it punches another desperate noise from his throat. “Let me.”

Taehyung knocks Jeongguk’s hand out of the way- not that it was doing much- and wraps his own long fingers around both of their cocks, the friction a little dry until he pulls back to spit on his palm and try again.

“Fuck.” Jeongguk’s nails are digging into Taehyung’s biceps, the silk bathrobe hanging around his wrists, showcasing the fake tattoos, and Jeongguk’s getting ideas. Which really never end well for him. “Nasty.”

“Shut up. You love it.”

He loves anything Taehyung does, but he’s not about to let that information slip. “Just- fuck. Go faster, please. I’m close, Tae.”

Jeongguk all but collapses against Taehyung’s chest, barely holding himself up with shaky arms all the while Taehyung’s hand strokes along their lengths with a practiced ease that makes Jeongguk’s head spin something fierce. Taehyung twists his wrist on the upstroke and lets his thumb catch on the tip of Jeongguk’s dick, making his hips buck in search of more of the delicious friction. He’s moaning Taehyung’s name, crying out each time Taehyung grips him tightly only to ease his grip, Jeongguk’s face pressed to his throat.

“Look at you,” Taehyung murmurs into Jeongguk’s ear, the low tone sending a shiver down his back. When Jeongguk doesn’t move, Taehyung nudges him with the arm helping to support his weight and he opens his eyes, glancing into the mirrors lining the wall above the sinks. “So pretty, Jeonggukie. So wrecked for me.”

Taehyung isn’t wrong; Jeongguk’s eyes are rimmed red, his hair an absolute mess as his mouth hangs open, panting for breath with each slide of Taehyung’s palm along his cock. He looks past the point of desperate, should be embarrassed at how quickly Taehyung can work him up and work him into a tizzy, but he can’t find it in himself. Taehyung isn’t looking in the mirror; instead he’s staring at Jeongguk’s profile with an expression Jeongguk can’t read in his haze.

“You like this, don’t you?” Taehyung bites at the lobe of his ear, cruelly slowing his pace again. “Like seeing how desperate I can get you, baby? Bet you’d look even better stretched around my fingers, look absolutely gorgeous stretched around my cock.”

“Taehyung, please-

Jeongguk doesn’t know what he’s begging for anymore, just that his hips are desperately moving with the rhythm Taehyung’s set and that he’s so close to coming a few more flicks of a thumb against his tip could send him over the edge. Thankfully, Taehyung chooses that moment to take pity on him, jacking them off with quick, precise movements of his hand until Jeongguk’s entire body is tensing and he barely has enough sense to breathe out a warning before he comes, painting Taehyung’s chest white.

He shudders through the aftershocks; his entire body trembling as Taehyung chases his own orgasm, pressing little kisses to Taehyung’s chest and neck.

“Wait,” he says, as he feels Taehyung approaching his high. “Hyung, wait, let me-”

Jeongguk lowers himself onto his unsteady knees, taking Taehyung’s cock between his lips and reveling in the sting of Taehyung’s hands in his hair, urging him to go deeper. Taehyung’s already on edge, trying to chase the warm heat of Jeongguk’s mouth, but Jeongguk keeps his hands on Taehyung’s hips, working his tongue over the underside of his cock when he comes, startling Jeongguk. As he pulls away, he gets the majority of Taehyung’s come on his tongue, but some ends up on his cheeks, his nose, and Jeongguk’s pretty sure there’s some at the corner of his eye.

Taehyung’s hand slips from Jeongguk’s hair to cup his cheek, thumb stroking along his skin and Jeongguk preens just a little bit, leaning into a touch he hadn’t realized he wanted so badly.

“Fuck- holy shit, Jeonggukie.” Taehyung’s panting, struggling to catch his breath as he urges Jeongguk back to his feet, reaching for paper towels to wet and clean the come from Jeongguk’s face. “You good?”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk whispers, watching Taehyung’s face. “Yeah, m’good.”

Taehyung cards his fingers through Jeongguk’s hair, smiling so fondly that Jeongguk can’t keep looking at him, can’t look at the evidence of what they’d just done. Jeongguk was supposed to talk about the damn hickey from the club with Taehyung, not suck his dick in the bathroom while he was in the middle of doing his job. But Taehyung looks so pleased, his skin glowing faintly with pleasure, and Jeongguk’s stomach swoops in that familiar way he’s recognizing whenever he’s with Taehyung.

Conversation can wait, but for now-

“Let’s get you cleaned up, Jeonggukie.”

But the universe is not often that kind to Jeongguk, and before Taehyung can even dispose of the dirty towels for new ones there’s a knock on the door, and the director of the shoot is calling, “Taehyung? We need you back on set. We want a few more shots on the bed.”

There’s come on Taehyung’s boxers and chest and his cheeks are still obviously flushed. Jeongguk feels immeasurably guilty until Taehyung chuckles quietly and grabs a handful of towels to hastily clean his body, winking at Jeongguk. Their little secret.

Taehyung pushes the hair away from Jeongguk’s forehead. “Sorry I have to leave you, Jeongguk.”

“It’s okay,” Jeongguk shakes his hair back into place, trying to dispel the phantom touch. “But hyung, your underwear-”

“I’ll have to change them for the bedroom set, anyway. Hopefully director Park just won’t ask any questions.”

Before he leaves, Taehyung presses a lingering kiss to Jeongguk’s forehead, effectively sending his heart back into overdrive and making him flush so violently that he splashes cold water on his cheeks in hopes of losing the color. Jeongguk feels a little cold cleaning the come off of his lips and nose on his own, staring at his reflection in the dirty mirror and noticing the violent hickey on his throat for the first time.

The ship pulls into port and Jeongguk’s still sitting on the floor, fingers pressed into the bruise on his neck and wondering if he’d just managed to fuck everything up again, maybe this time for good.

 

 

Jeongguk is in line at the corner store when he gets a phone call that ruins everything. Maybe he’s being dramatic, but he’s just trying to buy some milk and pop-tarts without being recognized so he can go back to the blanket burrito he’d recently vacated on his couch. He’s been doing a wonderful job of avoiding Taehyung the past few days, only answering texts so as not to raise suspicions, claiming to be busy.

He couldn’t stop thinking about the afternoon on the yacht, about how prepared he was to talk everything through with Taehyung, only for Taehyung to get caught up in the post-production of the shoot, Hoseok swooping in to hover over Taehyung’s shoulder and monitor the entire process. Yoongi had been the one to drag Jeongguk away, reminding him quietly about his jet lag and that he hadn’t eaten, had even gotten Jeongguk take out before leaving him for the night.

Now, Jeongguk had fallen into the bad habit of eating unhealthily, of eating take out and frozen food instead of bringing in his nutritionist and chef, and his skin was starting to pay for it. But he was a weak man and he didn’t have any shoots coming up until the fashion weeks began, and the blanket burrito was really cozy.

He planned to talk to Taehyung eventually and pretend everything was fine until then, but nothing ever goes according to plan.

Why don’t you ever answer the first time I call?” Yoongi’s asking, sounding distracted while Jeongguk’s trying to figure out the self-checkout line. He really doesn’t want to deal with the cashier recognizing him and stuttering out a conversation, his cap pulled low over his head.

“My phone was on silent.” It’s a lie and Yoongi knows it, but for once his manager doesn’t press the subject.

I have big news, kid.”

The corner store is close enough that Jeongguk hadn’t bothered to drive, the sweltering sun beating down on the back of his neck as he walks home. “What’s up, hyung?”

You got Vogue.”

Jeongguk stops in the middle of a crosswalk and nearly drops the bag of snacks he’s holding. Words don’t find the tip of his tongue, his feet frozen to the asphalt and there’s a car honking at him from the stop sign. He gets the finger from the woman driving the SUV and finds his footing again, jogging to the other side of the street.

His grip on his phone could break it. “Don’t fuck with me, Yoongi.”

Yoongi laughs quietly. “I wouldn’t lie about this shit. Jeongguk, you got Vogue.”

“I got Vogue?”

September issue, too. You have any idea how many strings I had to pull for that?

Jeongguk grins, incredulous, and tips his head to the sky to hide his smile. “Next time we’re in Korea, hyung, I’ll take you to the fanciest place in Seoul. My treat. Is it a solo?”

Partners. They want you and Taehyung to be on the cover, and are willing to triple the pay for an exclusive interview with the two best models heading to the top.”

“Taehyung?” Jeongguk repeats, his smile suddenly tasting like ash in his mouth. “I have to do it with Tae?”

If Yoongi notices the drop in Jeongguk’s voice, he doesn’t comment on it, rattling off the details of the upcoming project. “It’ll take place this weekend so they can get the issue out by September first, Jeongguk. Check your email for your ticket, and if you’re still weird with Taehyung I will personally strangle you. And not in the kinky way.”

“I can always count on you, hyung.”

The shoot takes place in Japan and Jeongguk’s flight is way, way too early in the morning. His car shows up at the airport at the same times Taehyung’s does, smiling blearily at Jeongguk as he stumbles onto his feet. It’s been a while since they saw each other, but Jeongguk’s stomach does that traitorous swooping thing again.

A small crowd of fans were waiting for them at the doors of the airport, pointing cell phones and cameras at them to get a peek, and a few even follow the duo inside. Hoseok and Yoongi, along with a small team of professionals, are somewhere behind them, separated by the horde of fans. Jeongguk was used to this when visiting Korea but at LAX? It was too early and too hot, and Jeongguk already wanted a nap.

Barely inside the doors, Taehyung steps behind Jeongguk and wraps his arms around Jeongguk’s back, staying close as they walk through the airport. It’s sweltering, between their backpacks and light jackets, but Jeongguk revels in the proximity. He swears, over the screams of a few girls behind them, that he can feel Taehyung’s nose on the back of his neck, inhaling deeply.

He’s blushing profusely once they get through security, sitting two chairs over from Taehyung even as Taehyung leans over the space to show off pictures or high scores on his phone. Yoongi is staring pointedly from where he’s seated, but Jeongguk ignores the look.

Things don’t get much better for Jeongguk from there. Despite his desire to fucking talk about what happened with Taehyung, there’s just no time. Taehyung falls asleep for the majority of the flight and as soon as they land they’re whisked away to the shooting site for a night scene.

Jeongguk’s hair is curled lightly and there are flower petals strewn within the stands. To his right, Taehyung has a beret pulled over his hair, his eyes lined with purple and silver makeup to match the petals in Jeongguk’s hair. They’re taking pictures on a bridge, standing in the moonlight. Jeongguk tries to sit on the railing of the bridge, Taehyung laughing at his side with a hand gripping his thigh like a lifeline, at least until Jeongguk is scolded by some of the interns, and the shoot ends for the night.

They share a hotel room and Jeongguk wants to talk, but he falls asleep while Taehyung is in the shower and doesn’t wake up until his alarm goes off in the morning, and he spends the last few minutes before makeup call washing off all of his makeup from the day before.

The first part of the day is spent in a gorgeous forest taking pictures beneath the trees. Most of them have lost their leaves, but a few still have pink flowers blooming on the branches. Taehyung and Jeongguk are both dressed in loose button ups, soft pink and dark blue, leaning against the trunks of a tree and staring at the country. Yoongi tells Jeongguk to knock off his “aloof” attitude, Jeongguk throws him the finger, and Taehyung laughs for so long the directors joke they’ll have to change the concept to keep Taehyung’s smile.

By the afternoon, Jeongguk and Taehyung have been moved to the hotel lobby for the interview. There’s talk of one more set of photos before their flight back to LA in the morning, but for now they’re seated comfortably with a young, pretty reporter, reminiscing about their first gigs and whether or not they think they can overtake Kim Seokjin.

“Jeonggukie was so nervous when we first worked together,” Taehyung’s saying, laughing with every word. “No one knows this, but he tried to quit before we had taken a single picture!”

“You tried to quit?” The reporter asks, trying to bring Jeongguk back into the conversation. He’s been pretty quiet, letting Taehyung’s loud, inclusive personality take the reigns.

“Yeah, uh.” Taehyung’s arm is resting on the back of Jeongguk’s chair and it’s incredibly distracting. “Working with hyung was really nerve-wracking. I thought Tae was really cool and really professional, but now I know he’s just a nerd who still wears his lucky Pokémon boxers to most of his shoots.”

Taehyung looks positively scandalized, glancing at the reporter with wide eyes. “Jeongguk! I trusted you.”

The reporter giggles, tossing her hair over one shoulder. “Any other secrets you think your fans would be interested in knowing?”

“Taehyungie-hyung sings Celine Dion songs in the shower,” Jeongguk snickers.

“If Jeongguk doesn’t listen to BigBang at least once on set his nerves will come back,” Taehyung says, and Jeongguk glares at him. “Oh! And early last year he tried to do the cinnamon challenge and cried, I think I still have the video-”

“No!”

“Gentlemen,” the reporter continues, glancing at her notes. On a small table between them lays a recorder and a few bottles of water. “Both of you have been involved in several high profile projects over the last two years, especially. For the two of you, this is your first Vogue cover. Do you see yourselves surpassing Kim Seokjin’s legacy anytime in the future? He’s a regular at Vogue nowadays.”

Taehyung strokes long fingers through the hair on the back of Jeongguk’s neck. “It’s an honor to even be compared to him, truthfully. I don’t know if we can ever be as wonderful as him, but it’s a nice goal to have. Seokjin hyung has worked with a lot of amazing companies that we’ve only dreamed of partnering with.”

“It would be amazing,” Jeongguk agrees, feeling a little sleepy under Taehyung’s touch. “But I don’t think it’s a goal we’re actively trying to achieve. We love what we do, and as long as I’m working with Taehyung hyung I’ll be satisfied.”

“Do either of you have a goal for the last half of the year?”

“A Gucci job,” Taehyung says quickly. It probably wasn’t the right thing to say in the middle of a Vogue interview, but the reporter’s laughing along with him.

“And for you, Jeongguk?”

He doesn’t have to think for very long, gathering extra courage in the way Taehyung fits his hand around Jeongguk’s neck, glancing at him from the corner of his eye. “I want to be happy with what I do. I want to live the rest of the year without regrets, with hyung and my best friends by my side. And maybe finally nail that cinnamon challenge.”

Their issue sells out the stores before fully hitting the shelves

 

 

Jeongguk ends up staying in Japan for a little longer than he anticipated, leaving the hotel before his alarm on the morning of his flight and taking a taxi around the city of Osaka. He wishes Taehyung were at his side, longs to hold Taehyung’s hand with his own as he explores.

He thought he was ready to talk to Taehyung, to confront the tightening in his chest and the elation he feels whenever he’s with Taehyung, but he had proven himself wrong. Without a data card, Jeongguk couldn’t call Taehyung when the nights drag on for too long, when his thoughts are too loud and he wants someone by his side. A confession sits at the tip of his lips, but Jeongguk is terrified. He’s terrified of ruining what he has with Taehyung, even if their friendship had been reduced to an awkward intimidation of what it was supposed to be.

Leaving Japan takes longer than Jeongguk would like since he had forgotten to buy himself another ticket, and an issue with his temporary visa would either have him staying in New York City for a few days or staying a week longer in Japan. And because he’s a coward, Jeongguk stays.

There’s almost a thousand messages on Jeongguk’s phone when he returns to the states, mostly from Jimin and Taehyung first asking where he is and then threatening to eat whatever food was left in Jeongguk’s fridge. There are some from Yoongi, congratulating him on being an idiot with Taehyung, and the most recent comes from Namjoon, inviting Jeongguk to a night out with a bunch of their friends.

One quick shower and a change into jeans and a dark red sweater, Jeongguk gets an Uber to the bar Namjoon had sent directions to. He recognizes Jimin’s car out front, and spends a few more moments collecting his resolve in the back of the car.

Someone screams from a table in the back when Jeongguk walks in. He tries to school his smile as he orders something from the bar, but his grin is wide as he turns to face his friends, sitting in a large leather booth nestled in the back of the bar. Taehyung all but pushes Jimin off of his lap to get to his feet and crushing Jeongguk into a hug the second he gets close enough.

“Tae,” Jeongguk laughs quietly as they pull apart, reveling in the solid weight of Taehyung in his arms. “You changed your hair.”

“Yeah,” Taehyung says, sheepish. He plays with his bangs, hair now dyed a brilliant red, and Jeongguk reluctantly lets his hands fall

“Why didn’t you have that for the interview? Osaka would have loved it.”

“Didn’t want to look too wild for our first Vogue.”

“Ah.”

Jimin throws his arms over Jeongguk’s shoulders in an odd combo of a hug and a chokehold, smiling into Jeongguk’s neck. “You asshole! Why didn’t you tell us you were back?”

“I just got back today, hyung.” Jeongguk shifts until Jimin finally lets him go and makes his way to the rest of his friends, hugging Namjoon and Hoseok and letting Yoongi threaten to kick his ass again. Yerin’s sitting on the edge of the booth, looking small and intimidated between Seokjin and Namjoon. He hugs her quickly before someone gets a grip around his wrist to tug him into a seat, and there’s a shot glass being pressed into his hand before Jeongguk even has a chance to blink.

The club is too loud, Jeongguk belatedly realizes, pop music blaring through the speakers and echoing around the room. It’s a wonder the bartenders can even hear their customers screaming over their tables, people dancing and grinding on the floor, holding their brightly colored drinks high over their heads.

“So!” Taehyung says, close to Jeongguk’s ear. He’s between Taehyung and Hoseok, squished uncomfortably on the small couch. “How was Japan?”

“It was nice,” Jeongguk admits, still nursing his first drink. “Would have been nicer with you there, hyung.”

“I would have stayed, Jeonggukie. If you asked.”

Jeongguk can’t meet Taehyung’s eyes. “I know.”

Jeongguk drinks slowly and lets himself get pulled into conversations with Namjoon about any plans to go back to college, with Seokjin about possible projects for the end of the year, and listens intently as Jimin tells story after story, a red flush sitting high on his cheeks. Hoseok is the one to keep ordering drinks, but Jeongguk caps himself when he feels the beginnings of a buzz. There’s no use in repeating what happened last time he was at a bar with his friends.

There’s a hand on his thigh, placed innocently enough to ignore, but Taehyung’s long fingers digging into Jeongguk’s jeans are hard to forget about. But Taehyung doesn’t draw any attention to it, doesn’t mention the thumb rubbing circles along his thigh, listening to Jimin speak with full attention as Jeongguk forgets how to breathe properly.

It’s Hoseok that suggests dancing, pulling Yoongi along by the wrist to the dance floor, closely followed by most of their friends. Taehyung doesn’t go.

Jeongguk’s hoping, futilely, that nothing will progress from here. He’s admittedly antsy, close to squirming in his seat both from the proximity and from everything unsaid that’s been hanging between them. Beside him, Taehyung is staring at a spot on the dance floor, his thumb no longer smoothing circles on Jeongguk’s thigh, but it hasn’t moved. The room is suddenly too hot, the music stifling and making it difficult for Jeongguk to focus on anything other than Taehyung, even if he’s all that Jeongguk wants.

“Tae-”

“We need to talk about it,” Taehyung murmurs, rolling an empty shot glass between the fingers of his free hand. “About the kiss, and… stuff.”

“It was an accident,” Jeongguk blurts at the same time Taehyung says, “I wouldn’t mind doing it again.”

Taehyung faces him properly, both eyebrows arched in confusion. “You regret it?”

“No,” Jeongguk admits in a sigh, too tired to keep up his façade. He missed Taehyung, and honestly, he missed kissing him. “No, I don’t regret it.”

Silence stretches for a long moment wherein Taehyung stares at the floor again with a purse of his lips. Jeongguk’s about to speak again, to take any and everything back when Taehyung beats him to the punch. “Would you let me kiss you again?”

Jeongguk swallows thickly, his voice quiet when he says, “Yes.”

The hand on Jeongguk’s thigh trails up to the back of his neck and Taehyung turns Jeongguk to look at him, thumb trailing long the skin just below his eye. He’s giving Jeongguk a chance to change his mind, to back out once and for all or to forget about everything that happened in the last couple of months. But Jeongguk’s tired of running, tired of pushing his feelings away, and he closes the distance between them hurriedly.

The kiss doesn’t stay gentle for long, Taehyung’s hand curling around the back of Jeongguk’s neck to hold him in place and licking forcefully into his mouth. Jeongguk nearly whimpers, hadn’t realized how desperately he missed Taehyung’s touch until he had those hands back on his body, until he had Taehyung’s mouth moving hurriedly against his own.

Taehyung uses his other hand to cup Jeongguk’s cheek, breaking the kiss for only a second to breathe before diving back in to kiss him breathless. Jeongguk moans, low in his throat, and forgets about everything around him as he opens his mouth to Taehyung’s tongue, curling his fingers around Taehyung’s wrist.

“I missed you,” Taehyung whispers to his lips.

Jeongguk shivers. “You too, hyung. You too.”

With a gentle tug, Taehyung urges Jeongguk onto his lap, thick thighs straddling Taehyung’s. The new angle allows Jeongguk to kiss harder and deeper, clutching at Taehyung’s neck and cheeks, unwilling to allow any space between them. Jeongguk wants more, wants all of Taehyung and wants to give all of himself as well, and hopes the way he bites at Taehyung’s lower lip and draws it into his own mouth can convey the message better than words.

“Hyung.” Jeongguk whines, his hips jerking slightly against Taehyung’s. Taehyung’s hands grip tightly to Jeongguk’s thighs, holding him steady in his lap. “Hyung, I want-”

“What do you want, Gukie?”

“I want you, dammit.”

Taehyung nibbles at the skin just below Jeongguk’s ear, sending an electrifying shiver down his spine. “Yeah?” Jeongguk nods, opens his mouth to more kisses. “Let’s get out of here?”

“Yeah.”

“Took you idiots long enough,” Namjoon snickers as they stand up, the club rushing back to the front of Jeongguk’s attention. Taehyung only laughs, wrapping his arm around Jeongguk’s shoulders as he leads them from the club.

Taehyung drives them back to Jeongguk’s place after borrowing Jimin’s car with only a text saying they were leaving and a quick jab from Jeongguk about whether Taehyung could drive while so intoxicated on his presence. With hands clasped together on the center console, Taehyung hums along to the radio as he drives, a sow drizzle of rain darkening the sky above their heads. His heart threatens to dive right out of his chest and out the car door.

Jeongguk’s apartment is dark and a little cold; his hand shaking as he unlocks the doors due to Taehyung draping himself over Jeongguk’s back. He keeps pressing little warm kisses to the back of Jeongguk’s neck, smiling widely against the flesh. Inside, Taehyung wastes no time before shoving Jeongguk against the closed door and kissing him swiftly, his arms falling around Taehyung’s neck.

When he pulls back, Taehyung’s eyes are bright and warm, his smile infectious to Jeongguk. “Hey.”

Jeongguk laughs, easy. “Hey.”

“I’ve been thinking about you,” Taehyung whispers, forcing a thigh between Jeongguk’s legs.

He squirms, loving the pressure of Taehyung’s hands on his waist to keep him pressed to his thigh. “Yeah?”

Fuck, yeah. Ever since the day on the boat when you didn’t wait for me. You have any idea how many times I’ve come to the memory of my come on your face, Jeonggukie?”

Jeongguk whines, arching into Taehyung’s hold. He’s half hard and past the point of embarrassment, just needs Taehyung to do something to him. Taehyung does, dipping his head to kiss and bite along the skin of Jeongguk’s neck, marking him where anyone could see. The thought of seeing the bruises in the morning and knowing that Jeongguk has this, has Taehyung crowding him against a wall and forcing him to rut against his thigh, sends arousal to settle deep in Jeongguk’s belly.

“I’m,” Jeongguk gasps, clinging onto Taehyung’s shoulders. “I’m sorry I didn’t wait. Hyung, I-”

“It’s okay, Jeongguk. You’ll just have to make it up to me.”

“Yeah. Yeah, of course.”

Taehyung kisses him again, knocking his head against the door with the force. He lets Jeongguk deepen the kiss, grinding against his thigh desperately when Taehyung doesn’t touch him anymore than hands cupping his cheeks. His body feels hot, skin receptive as Taehyung reaches down to tug off Jeongguk’s shirt, to run his warm hands across Jeongguk’s chest and abs.

“God, you’re so pretty,” Taehyung whispers, kissing him again before he has a chance to respond.

His cheeks flush at the praise. “Tae, c’mon. Let’s- ah- let’s go, come on.”

“So impatient.” Taehyung chuckles against Jeongguk’s neck, sucking another mark onto the skin. “Come on, baby.” Fingers curl into the waistband of Jeongguk’s jeans, tugging him deeper into his apartment to the bedroom at the end of the hall. His floor plan is familiar to Taehyung, who pushes Jeongguk onto his bed with a hand pressed flat to his chest.

Jeongguk props himself on his elbows as Taehyung kneels between his spread legs, smoothing his big hands up Jeongguk’s clothed thighs. He quickly yanks down Jeongguk’s jeans, leaving his boxers on as he kisses back up Jeongguk’s legs, pausing at sensitive areas to bite and suck marks on the skin, and Jeongguk can’t stay quiet. He squirms on the bed, hands tightening in his sheets as Taehyung holds him down, marking him.

“Taehyung, please,” Jeongguk groans, his head dropping onto the mattress. “Please, please, your clothes-”

Taehyung pulls back to rid himself of his shirt and slacks, but he doesn’t give Jeongguk a moment to ogle the revealed skin before he’s back between Jeongguk’s thighs, kissing to the hem of Jeongguk’s boxers and back down.

“So, so pretty, baby.”

“Please, hyung. Please just- do something… please.”

“Want me to suck you off?”

God, yes.”

Taehyung hooks his fingers into Jeongguk’s boxers, pulling them infuriatingly slowly down Jeongguk’s legs and throwing them somewhere onto the floor. Jeongguk expects a moment’s pause, expects Taehyung to say something, but what he doesn’t expect is for Taehyung to swallow down his cock without hesitation.

Jeongguk’s back arches from the bed, curses and Taehyung’s name falling wantonly from his lips like a twisted prayer. Taehyung hollows his cheeks around Jeongguk’s cock, bobbing his head to lick at the tip before going back down, swallowing like he was made for it. Jeongguk struggles to hold his upper body up, to watch the way Taehyung’s hair falls into his eyes as he goes down on Jeongguk, the way he takes a deep breath through his nose to take Jeongguk even deeper.

His tip hits the back of Jeongguk’s throat and he keens, shoving a hand into Taehyung’s hair to hold him there until Taehyung can’t stand it anymore, pulling off Jeongguk’s cock with an obscene, wet noise, pumping his hand over Jeongguk’s length slowly.

“Good?”

“Fuck,” Jeongguk breathes, struggling to get his breathing back under control. “Fuck, hyung.”

Taehyung takes Jeongguk’s cock back into his mouth, sucking him off so well that Jeongguk fears he won’t survive. He’s on edge already, toes curling and body tensing with the promise of pleasure. Jeongguk tries to express this, tries to warn Taehyung to pull off before he comes, but his body betrays him, moans spilling from his lips as his hips cant up into the warm, addicting heat of Taehyung’s mouth.

His orgasm takes him by surprise, body bowing as he comes deep in Taehyung’s mouth. Taehyung milks him through it, sucks harshly at the tip until Jeongguk’s nearly sobbing with overstimulation and he pulls away, grinning cheekily.

“You look so pretty when you come, Jeonggukie.”

Jeongguk laughs sharply, body feeling loose after his orgasm. “You’re so weird, hyung.”

“Do you want my tongue?”

“Your-?” Blinking, Jeongguk looks down with hazy vision. “But I just had-”

“No, baby boy. Do you want my tongue in your cute little hole?”

“Oh,” Jeongguk’s entire body shivers in anticipation. “Yes, fuck, hyung. Yes.”

Taehyung drapes Jeongguk’s legs over his shoulders and grips Jeongguk’s ass in both hands, spreading his cheeks to better see his hole. At the first touch of Taehyung’s tongue Jeongguk flinches, torn between grinding onto the wet muscle and getting away from the sensation, still sensitive from coming earlier. Taehyung makes the decision for him, pinning his lower body to the bed as he licks at Jeongguk’s hole, pressing his tongue in deep as he tries to loosen the muscle.

“Do you have lube?” Taehyung asks suddenly, pulling away. Jeongguk whimpers, head spinning a little as he tries to chase the feeling. It takes him a moment to process Taehyung’s question, pointing to the nightstand by the head of his bed. “Thank you, baby.”

Taehyung gets the lube and pours a generous amount onto his fingers, waiting for it to warm before pushing a slicked up finger into Jeongguk’s hole next to his tongue. Jeongguk cries out, grinding down onto Taehyung’s hand as he’s stretched. Taehyung seems to lose his patience then, shoving a second finger in before Jeongguk’s fully adjusted, but Jeongguk revels in the slight sting, moaning without abandon when Taehyung removes his tongue, kissing at Jeongguk’s hipbones.

“You look so good like this, Gukie,” Taehyung hisses. “Wish you had a mirror here, wish you could see how pretty you are so stretched for me. Dripping for my cock.”

It’s obvious when Taehyung finds his prostate, fingers brushing against the spot, when Jeongguk’s back arches violently and his groan of Taehyung’s name breaks on his lips. Taehyung abuses the spot, wicked grin in place as he works Jeongguk up, three fingers thrusting harshly into his ass.

“Please,” Jeongguk begs, struggling to open his eyes and watch. “Please, Tae, I’m ready. Want you in me, hyung, please!

“Want me to fuck you?” Taehyung teases, slowing his pace while Jeongguk all but wails. “Make you feel so good, baby boy?”

Yes.”

Taehyung rips open the condom he’d grabbed earlier, rolling it onto his hard length. Jeongguk aches to have Taehyung’s dick in his mouth again, even contemplates asking Taehyung to wait so he can suck him off again, but the request dies and his mouth dries as he watches Teahyung slick himself up.

“How do you want to do this?”

“This is fine,” Jeongguk mumbles. “Wanna see you.”

Taehyung presses a kiss to Jeongguk’s nose as he lines himself at his hole, making Jeongguk’s nose scrunch. As he pushes in, Jeongguk hisses, struggling to adjust to Taehyung’s thick length, but Taehyung goes slow, infuriatingly so, until he was buried to the hilt inside Jeongguk.

“God, fuck- fuck, hyung, so big,” Jeongguk’s rambling, nails digging into Taehyung’s shoulder blades. “So deep, hyung, so good-”

“You’re not too bad yourself.” Taehyung grins, kissing Jeongguk again.

Jeongguk wraps his legs around Taehyung’s waist as Taehyung pulls out almost entirely and slams back in, jerking Jeongguk’s body on the bed. He feels close already, hard cock trapped between their bodies as Taehyung pounds into him, hips flush against Jeongguk’s ass.

He grasps for Taehyung’s cheeks, pulling him into a searing kiss that’s more tongue and spit than any proper kiss. Jeongguk’s moaning, head thrown back and giving Taehyung the opportunity to mark more of his neck.

Taehyung’s cock nudges his prostate and Jeongguk nearly sobs, grinding down to chase the feeling as Taehyung adjusts his angle, hitting the spot dead on with each thrust. “So good for me, Gukie,” Taehyung whispers into Jeongguk’s ear. “My beautiful baby boy. Does it feel good, feel nice that I’m finally fucking you so well?”

Jeongguk can’t respond, managing only a nod as Taehyung’s hips snap erratically against his. Taehyung keeps whispering filthy praise into his ear, taking him higher and higher as pleasure clouds his mind.

“Tae- oh my- fuck, Taehyung-”

“Can you come like this, baby? Come just from my dick in your ass?”

“Hyung, I don’t- shit- I don’t know,” Jeongguk moans. “Please, please just let me come.”

Taehyung brings a hand between their bodies, stroking Jeongguk’s cock with light touches as Jeongguk’s entire body tenses when he comes between their chests, pooling on his stomach. Jeongguk’s mouth falls open on a silent moan, nails digging hard enough into Taehyung’s shoulders to likely draw blood. Sitting back on his heels, Taehyung grips Jeongguk’s hips and fucks into him deeply, working Jeongguk through his orgasm and chasing his own with hurried movements, burying himself in Jeongguk’s ass before he comes, his head thrown back in pleasure.

He slumps onto Jeongguk’s chest, paying no mind to the come cooling on both of their chests. Jeongguk’s chest heaves as he slowly comes down from his high, fingers twisted in Taehyung’s hair to hold him close. With a quick kiss to Jeongguk’s sternum, Taehyung pulls his softening cock from Jeongguk’s hole, tying off the condom before finding a shirt on the floor to clean the come from Jeongguk’s skin, and then his own.

Hesitating for only a second, Taehyung lays back in the bed with Jeongguk, pulling the covers over their bodies as Jeongguk finally manages to settle his breathing into something normal. Jeongguk drapes an arm over Taehyung’s shoulders, urging him close, and Taehyung settles on Jeongguk’s chest, lying between his legs.

Jeongguk dances his fingers down the expanse of Taehyung’s back, humming in relaxed pleasure at the little kisses Taehyung presses to his chest. “I can’t believe we could have been doing that all summer.”

“Mhm, if only you hadn’t run away.”

“I’m sorry-”

“You don’t have to keep apologizing.”

“Right. Sorry.” Jeongguk pauses, propping an arm beneath his head as he stares at the ceiling, stroking his fingers through Taehyung’s vibrant hair. “Why didn’t you call me out? Like, why not tell me how stupid I was being in Japan?”

“Honestly?” Taehyung folds his arms on Jeongguk’s stomach, resting his chin where they overlap. “I thought you were into Yerin.”

Jeongguk scowls. “Yerin? She’s just a friend.”

“Well, I know that now,” he laughs, pinching Jeongguk’s side quickly. “But you seemed close at the club, and I guess I was a little jealous.”

“You could have talked to me.”

“You could have, too. And done so without bruising me for a week, Gukie.”

“Right. We’re both idiots.”

“That we are.” Taehyung’s grin sparkles in the moonlight slipping into the window, his hair mussed and falling messily into his eyes. Jeongguk doesn’t think he’s ever seen anything more beautiful than the sight, than Taehyung’s cheeks flushed with remnants of pleasure Jeongguk had given him. “Want to go again?”

“Seriously?” Jeongguk stares at him, eyes wide. “You want to?”

“I’ve got lost time to make up for, baby. We’ve got all night, and I want you in me.”

Neither of them get very much sleep that night. Making up for lost time never felt so good.

 

 

It’s Taehyung’s cell phone that finally drags them out of bed after more than three days. They haven’t moved far from the bedroom except to answer the door for the takeout they order each day, one afternoon they hadn’t even managed to get back to bedroom before Taehyung was dropping to his knees.

Jimin had been calling so often, more than likely about his car, that Taehyung silenced his customized ringtone, so they’re both caught off guard when the default tone goes off.

Jeongguk grabs the corner of a pillow, whipping it in the general direction of Taehyung’s body. He was too warm, sated and comfortable, body loose from Taehyung sucking his soul out of his dick to be getting up to answer a stupid call. “Answer your phone, ass.”

“You love my ass,” Taehyung grumbles, pulled back from the edge of sleep. The phone rings again and Taehyung finally gets out of bed to answer it, standing in the middle of Jeongguk’s room in nothing but his old t-shirt, Jeongguk’s blood already beginning to stir again. “What’s up, Hoseok?” He’s quiet for a moment, then his eyes grow wide and he’s nodding, mumbling things to Hoseok hurriedly as he grins, nearly dropping the phone when he hangs up.

“Babe, what did Hoseok say?” Jeongguk sits up, staring tiredly at his overexcited boyfriend. “Babe.”

“I got a Gucci gig,” Taehyung whispers, awestruck. “They want me for their new line. Jeongguk, I got Gucci!”

Taehyung throws himself back into bed, letting Jeongguk gather him into a crushing hug. He kisses Taehyung slow and deep, his own excitement betraying him when he breaks away to grin, to press quick little kisses all over Taehyung’s face. “I’m so proud of you, hyung. And see? I told you that you’d have Gucci before your birthday!”

“I am never doubting you again,” Taehyung declares seriously.

“This calls for a celebration.”

Taehyung grins. “I was just thinking the same thing, baby.” He rolls to hover over Jeongguk’s body, pressing the heel of his palm to the heat between Jeongguk’s legs. “Let’s go to Brazil.”

 

 

“This is a bad idea,” Jeongguk says, standing behind Taehyung at baggage claim. It’s way, way too hot in Brazil, but it doesn’t even look like Taehyung’s breaking a sweat, leaning around other passengers to try and locate their luggage. “Hyung.”

“Relax,” Taehyung looks over his shoulder, smiles brightly at Jeongguk. “The Gucci deal doesn’t start for almost a month. I know my time management isn’t great, but I think I can make it back in time. Did you bring the extra camera?”

“I don’t know about that.” Jeongguk grabs a few travel brochures. “And yes.”

“Such little faith, baby.” Taehyung spots their bags, excusing himself into the crowd to grab them. “And good, I want a million candid shots of me or we’re breaking up.”

He takes his bag from Taehyung. “Knowing you, you’re going to get distracted by a waterfall and forget to buy our tickets to L.A. I don’t want to die in Brazil, hyung.”

“Where do you want to die?”

“Hm. I hear Prague’s nice.”

“That’ll be our next vacation.”

“Wow.”

There are a few reporters scattered throughout the airport, paparazzi and fansites lurking to try and snag a few photos of the rumored couple. Taehyung chooses that moment to put the rumors to rest, linking his fingers with Jeongguk and tugging him close to press a kiss to his temple. Jeongguk flushes red, but he’ll forever blame it on the Brazilian heat.

“I won’t let you die in Prague.”

Jeongguk hums and let’s Taehyung wind their arms together. “I appreciate that.”

They pause at the doors to the outside, and Taehyung turns to face him with a smile that melts the last of Jeongguk’s heart. It’s Taehyung’s now. It probably always has been. “Ready to see more of the world, Jeonggukie?”

“With you? Always.”