“You did what?!” Jimin yells. He stares at the packed suitcase in front of him, panic and disbelief coloring his voice.
The day at work had been exhausting. The new contractual partner was hard to please, which led to spending a lot more on the deal than originally planned. All Jimin had wanted as soon as he came home was to crawl into his bed and forget about everything for a few hours.
But it seems like this simple plan is going south. Namjoon and Yoongi are standing in front of him, both with their arms crossed, unbothered by his yelling, but with a glint of mischief and expectation in their eyes.
Apparently, they are still sure that this is the greatest plan of all time.
“I can’t go anywhere, guys. There’s too much to do,” he tries again, a little calmer now.
“Told you he’d react like this, Joon,” Yoongi sighs.
But Namjoon simply wraps his arms around his scowling boyfriend from behind, and the small display of affection makes the frown on Yoongi’s face vanish almost instantly.
“Your secretary, Seokjin-ssi?” Namjoon begins, “He called me, said you had twenty-one vacation days left. He sounded worried about you. So—”
“—we’ve kind of booked an adventure vacation for you,” Yoongi concludes.
“I hate adventures,” Jimin says, frowning at his best friends, hoping that at least Yoongi of all people will understand that adventures are not cool.
They are not cool at all.
“But maybe it’s exactly what you need, Jimin-ah. All you’ve done during the last two years is work, sleep, and occasionally eat something.”
Jimin already knows that this is a lost fight, that he has no chance against the two of them. They can be very persistent once there’s an idea in their heads. Or their head. Singular.
Ever since they’d gotten together four years ago, Jimin sometimes thinks of them as one being; that’s how alike and in sync they can act. He assumes that this is why their music company is thriving. Their bands are steadily collecting 1st place trophies at national music shows. Everything they do seems to happen with a mutual understanding. It’s fascinating. Fascinating, and a little scary sometimes.
“We’ve packed everything you need. Your flight is leaving in two hours, and then you won’t have to worry about a single work-related thing for three amazing weeks.” Namjoon’s words sound final.
“Three weeks,” Jimin huffs. He knows he needs some time off. He knows he should be thanking his friends for basically forcing him into this vacation. He knows that his employees are more than capable of surviving three weeks without him.
But an adventure doesn’t sound like the perfect solution. It sounds like stress, danger, and adrenaline.
Exactly what he doesn’t need.
Twenty-two hours and two connecting flights later, Jimin gets off the last plane.
Namjoon and Yoongi hadn’t told him where exactly he would end up before they had shoved the boarding pass into his hand and ushered him to the gate without giving him a chance to back out.
The name of the city doesn’t ring a bell either. Jimin doesn’t even know how to pronounce it without sounding like a complete fool. He can’t tell how often he has tried to reach for his phone in his back pocket, only to be remembered by the emptiness he’s met with over and over again that Yoongi has taken his phone, so he “won’t be tempted to check in with work”. It feels like he’s missing a limb. Now that he thinks about it he’s not even able to use his phone to look up where his ‘best’ friends sent him. He knows he’s in Europe. But that’s about it.
From what Jimin has seen during the landing, the city is surrounded by mountains. Some of them with snowy peaks, painted a glowing orange in the setting sun. It looks beautiful, and Jimin prays that his friends had been smart enough to pack his camera. The fact that this is the final destination calms him down a great deal. He has imagined all kinds of horror scenarios: Deserted islands, humid jungles with god knows what kind of dangerous animals, survival camps in the desert.
But mountains? Mountains he can handle.
At least he can try to keep telling himself that.
Namjoon had mentioned that he would be expected. So Jimin follows the other passengers to the baggage claim and through customs to look for a sign with his name on it.
Exhaustion is tingling through his entire body, although he slept through most of his flights. His skin is uncomfortably oily from the air conditioning, and he already hates the fact that it will act up throughout the next couple of days, complaining about the lack of hydration. He still hasn’t found the perfect solution for preventing this, even with all the business trips he’s been taking to the States lately.
Jimin is surprised, more than surprised, when he sees his name written on a piece of cardboard – in hangul. It looks odd, like a child’s drawing, but then he takes notice of the man who’s holding the sign, and it takes all his willpower not to let his jaw drop to the ground. The man looks Asian, Jimin isn’t sure yet if he’s Korean, but it would make sense if he’s the one who made the sign.
There’s something about him. Something raw. An effortless beauty Jimin is unable to wrap his head around.
He might feel tired and exhausted but his eyes work just fine, and there’s no other word to describe the other man.
His skin is tanned, glowing, almost a caramel color while his fair, light brown hair creates a breathtaking contrast to his shining dark eyes. The man looks up when Jimin comes to a stop right in front of him. A wide, boxy smile forming on his lips. It doesn’t quite reach his eyes, there’s the smallest of furrows drawing his eyebrows together.
“Hi,” the guy says in Korean before Jimin gets the chance to worry about the smile, his voice dark and full. “You must be Jimin.”
Jimin catches himself staring. This isn't what he has expected. He isn't even sure what he has expected. Maybe a local who has learned Korean at some time in his life. But – sure as hell – not this.
“Taehyung Kim, nice to meet you.” The man – Taehyung – holds out his hand, and Jimin looks at it for a second too long before he takes it. The long fingers wrap around his, warm, strong, and rough on the fingertips. There is something different about the way the taller man lets the words tumble over his lips. Softer somehow, the rhythm of speech heavy with an accent.
“Park Jimin,” he manages to choke out as Taehyung loosens the grip on his hand again.
“Oh right, I forgot. Last name goes first. But since we’ll be up in the mountains tomorrow anyway – where everyone is on a first-name basis – I guess Jimin will do, right?” He talks informally, speaking slowly, occasionally searching for words.
“Okay, this is unusual, but I guess I’ll call you Taehyung then?” He’s worried about the ‘mountains tomorrow’ part. So, that’s what his friends have planned for him? Hiking?
“Tae is totally fine.”
“How old are you, Tae?” Jimin asks.
“Twenty-five, turning twenty-six in December.”
“I’m turning twenty-six in two and a half weeks.” It’s only then that he realizes he will be here for his birthday.
Taehyung laughs, “I hope you don’t expect me to call you— what was it?”
“No, we are born in the same year, there’s no need for you to call me that.”
“Great,” Taehyung says, reaching for the handle of Jimin’s heavy suitcase.
“You don’t need to do this. I can carry it myself.”
“Nah, it’s fine. I guess I’m a lot stronger by the looks of you, and you’ve had a long flight.”
Jimin gives in, knowing that Taehyung is right, but there’s something about the way his shoulders are drawn together when Jimin follows him through the almost deserted airport that doesn’t sit well with him.
He has so many questions. One being of course where they’re headed, if Taehyung is going to stay with him for the three weeks, or if he’s just here to pick him up. But he hurries through the corridors, and all Jimin can do is follow him, almost running to keep up with Taehyung’s pace.
Eventually, Taehyung comes to a stop in front of a Jeep, and Jimin – tired to the bone – almost runs into his broad back.
“You’ve got to be more careful when we’re up there,” Taehyung chuckles, “Don’t want you to take both of us down the abyss.”
“Thank fuck this is a parking lot then,” Jimin snaps.
He’s tired to the bone but still regrets reacting so harshly as soon as the words leave his lips. Taehyung doesn’t say anything but heaves his suitcase into the trunk with more force than necessary. Jimin tries not to be mesmerized by the way the muscles in his upper arms and shoulders are flexing, the tight functional shirt not doing much to hide anything. Jimin tears his gaze away quickly when Taehyung turns around to face him again. Damn it— where is that stupid heat on his cheeks coming from?
The passenger seat seems like the perfect escape for the moment, and so he rushes to the front of the car, pulls the door closed behind him to wait for Taehyung to take the driver’s seat next to him. He needs to stop acting like a fucking teenager, especially with Taehyung acting like he doesn’t seem too thrilled to be here with him.
“So, where are you taking me?” Jimin asks when Taehyung has steered the car out of the parking structure onto a freeway which leads up into the mountains.
“What do you mean?” Taehyung sends him a quizzical look.
“My friends booked this for me. Apparently, I need to ‘chill’,” Jimin huffs.
“Well, that explains a lot.”
“Well for one you don’t look like you’ve got a lot of stamina.”
Jimin scrunches up his nose. He works out three times a week at the gym if he can make it, thank you very much.
“Will I need it?”
“Your friends booked quite a lot of hiking tours and other stuff for you, so yes.”
“Will you be the guide?”
Taehyung doesn’t elaborate after this and Jimin is painfully aware of the fact that Taehyung is not too eager to continue the conversation during the drive.
It takes them almost another three hours to reach their destination. At one point, Jimin’s head can’t carry its own weight anymore, and he lets it sink against the cold car window defeatedly.
He wakes up to Taehyung parking. It’s pitch black outside once the headlights of the car are switched off. Jimin tries to retrieve his phone again to use the flashlight but then remembers. Fuck. He has no idea what he’d done before he owned a smartphone.
“Wait here for a sec, I’ll go turn on the lights.” Taehyung sounds exhausted, and Jimin is feeling half bad for making him drive for so long before he remembers it’s not even his fault that they’re here in the middle of nowhere.
Just when he decides to leave the car after five minutes have passed, and Taehyung hasn't come back yet, the lights of a chalet not too far from the car are switched on. Jimin hops out to get his suitcase from the trunk. He doesn’t want Taehyung to think that he’s a useless, spoiled brat. The nagging feeling inside him tells him that this is precisely what he thinks of him.
And Jimin hates it.
His airways are hit with chilly but unbelievably clean air. He can make out lights in the distance, further down, so they must be relatively far up. There’s no chance to find out how far up they are exactly in the darkness.
Jimin heaves his luggage out of the trunk, then shoulders his bag as he drags his suitcase to the lit-up chalet.
Taehyung meets him halfway. “Light is on, as you can see. I left the door open. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Wait, don’t you sleep in the house, too?”
“No, I’ll sleep over here,” he points towards a very small, very run-down cottage. “The chalet is for the rich people only.” He suddenly sounds right out hostile, and Jimin feels a faint trace of anger bubbling through his stomach.
“There’s no need to talk to me like that. I was only asking. The house seems big enough for at least ten people, so knock yourself out.” Jimin keeps walking up to the chalet without looking back, leaving Taehyung behind. He's far too tired to care anymore.
Twenty-four hours ago, he was about to crawl into his comfy bed. Now he’s god knows where, with a person who doesn’t want to be here, with no way to call Yoongi and Namjoon and tell them very nicely to fuck off for sending him here. He’s supposed to relax and regain energy. But right now, he feels drained of any energy he might have had left.
Admittedly, the chalet is amazing. It’s built from arolla pine wood, but everything has a modern design, all lines and squares, but with lovely details and small spotlights here and there. No one can force him to climb a fucking mountain, right? He’ll just stay here for the duration of the three weeks, and do absolutely nothing.
He takes the first room he finds with a bed in it, toes of his shoes, and then curls up in the bed not even to about take off another piece of clothing or brush his teeth. Sleep hits him almost as soon as his head sinks down on the pillow. At least he can rest now, he can deal with everything else later.
When Jimin wakes up, he doesn’t know how far gone the day already is. If he’d known that Yoongi would take his phone at the airport, he would at least have put on a watch. He gets up, groaning while he’s stretching his stiff limbs, padding over to his suitcase to find out what his friends have packed for him.
The sound of splashing water draws him out of his room before he gets the chance to open his suitcase. There’s a pool on the patio, and Jimin doesn’t get time to take in the breathtaking scenery that opens up in front of him when he sees that Taehyung is swimming. In. The. Freaking. Pool.
The water ripples down the toned muscles on Taehyung’s back, sparkling drops glistening in the morning light. Jimin’s stomach plummets, when Taehyung notices him standing there, watching like a creep, and stands up in the pool to wave at him, with the water running in rivulets down the tanned skin of his bare upper body.
Jimin has to gulp thickly. Why does Taehyung have to look like a freaking water god? So perfect, so captivating? And yet so distant and inscrutable. It’s not what he has signed up for.
Jimin doesn’t want to feel this way, his stomach all in knots.
He’s going to kill Yoongi and Namjoon.
It's this thought that repeats itself again a few hours later when he’s trailing behind Taehyung on a steep path littered with coarse gravel and slippery tree roots. The jet lag lingers, makes his limbs heavy, and his head fuzzy. The new tramping boots are stiff and uncomfortable on his feet, and he’s sweating in the functional jacket he’s wearing. But he doesn’t want to seem weak. He doesn’t want to live up to the expectations he knows Taehyung has of him. He doesn’t want to fail, doesn’t want to make a fool out of himself.
They haven’t talked about what had happened on the driveway last night and Jimin can’t get Taehyung’s closed-up, angry expression out of his head. Taehyung's mood seems to be a little better today, at least he hasn’t snapped at Jimin yet. He had even helped Jimin to pick out the things he would need. It’s not like they are talking about anything else than the absolute necessities, but at least the hostility from yesterday seems to be gone.
Jimin is barely able to take in the scenery around him. The waterfalls and crags that rise hundreds of meters up beside the winding path are drowned by how out of place he feels here, his breath labored, and his legs feeling like they will give in any second. Taehyung is walking slowly, muttering something about how Jimin has to get used to the thinner air first. But it’s still too much.
“How are you holding up?” Taehyung asks, leaning his trekking poles against the crag on their right before he gets his water bottle out of his backpack, gesturing for Jimin to do the same.
Walking with the poles has been strange at first, but now he’s glad Taehyung has forced him to take them with him. He leans his next to Taehyung’s and takes out his water bottle as well, thankfully gulping down the cool water before he answers, “I’m fine.”
“You don’t look so fine. We don’t have to go up all the way, you know. I’m responsible for you as your guide, and if you don’t tell me how you feel I’ll still be responsible if you can’t go on, or go back which would be even worse.”
“It’s not like I’ll faint anytime soon.”
“But you don’t feel too well either?” Taehyung probes, tossing his water bottle back into his backpack.
“No, not really.” Jimin blushes when he has to voice it out, admit his defeat. But it’s more the anger directed at himself than anything else. He sees reason in what Taehyung has said earlier. And risking both of their well beings just because he wants to impress Taehyung doesn’t seem like the right approach either.
“It’s not a bad thing, Jimin. You brought your camera, right? Let’s take some pictures, so this hike will have had at least a purpose other than getting you used to the mountain air.”
They do just that, and after a short while, Jimin begins to appreciate the beauty nature has created within this ravine. He takes countless photos of the sparkling waterfalls and impressive rocks, and maybe Taehyung ends up as a subject on some of his photographs as well.
It’s simply too captivating how symmetrical Taehyung’s facial proportions are, how his long eyelashes come to rest on his cheeks when he blinks, how his eyes haven’t lost the boyish charm yet. He seems curious and fascinated by everything he lays his eyes on.
It’s endearing, really. But Taehyung’s otherwise honest and open expression shuts down every time he looks at Jimin, becomes weary and uncertain, only feeding the uneasy feeling that has settled in Jimin’s stomach ever since the night before.
Two hours later, they are back at the chalet where Jimin lies down on the couch in the living room as soon as they arrive, planning to sleep off his jet lag. Only when Taehyung speaks up, Jimin realizes that he has actually followed him into the house.
“You’ll never get used to this time zone if you fall asleep now. Let’s cook together and then you can go to bed, for all I care.” Taehyung walks straight to the kitchen, not even bothered if Jimin follows him or not.
It shouldn’t bug him as much as it does that he can’t read the other man. He never knows what Taehyung is thinking, and Jimin is usually good at reading people. But with Taehyung he’s at a loss. Reluctantly, he decides to join him, and when he walks through the kitchen door, Taehyung has already put a pot on the stove while he’s filling another one with water at the sink.
“How can I help?” Jimin tries to keep the annoyance out of his voice, really wants to help, because god damn it, he might be rich but he sure as hell knows how to cook and take care of himself. “You don’t need to cook for us too, you know?”
“It’s only pasta with canned tomato sauce today anyway. We’ll have to drive down to the village tomorrow to get some basics. You can cut the onion and stir-fry it. Oil’s over there.”
Jimin can hear in Taehyung’s voice that he wants to test him in one way or another. He stays calm, switches the stove plate on and adds a little of the olive oil before he starts peeling the onion. There is some garlic as well, and he simply goes for it and adds it to the onion. Soon an appetizing smell is rising from the pan, the vegetables sizzling in the hot oil, and Jimin feels beyond satisfied when Taehyung sends him a surprised but acknowledging look as he comes over to the stove to put the sauce into the pan, seeing the onion and garlic perfectly braised.
“So, are you going to stay here with me the whole time?” Jimin asks while he continues stirring the tomato sauce, preventing it from painting red bubble stains all over the kitchen.
“It’s what I’m getting paid for,” is all Taehyung says.
They eat in silence, Jimin is too tired to start a conversation, considering that Taehyung is most probably not very interested in talking anyway, and so Taehyung leaves the chalet again with a curt goodnight as soon as they’ve put the plates into the dishwasher.
The light outside is soft when Jimin steps out on the patio with a beer in his hand, the sun has already set behind the high snow-clad mountain on the left side of the valley, but the brightness lingers, painting everything it reaches in different shades of orange and pink. A sudden wave of loneliness hits him. This isn’t a scenery one should look at alone. It’s something that needs to be shared, to be experienced with another person. His thoughts jump to Taehyung again. Taehyung who is only a few meters away, in the run-down cottage, too proud for his own good.
Jimin heads back inside soon, closing the door to the patio behind him. He still needs to unpack and investigate what his friends have packed for him and he supposes that now might be as good a time as ever.
The suitcase is mainly filled with clothes, as he’s already seen earlier while he was searching for something adequate to wear for their first ‘hike.’ He’s not sure he can call the stroll they took a real hike.
He finds a suit and two dress shirts, the rest are mainly functional clothes of all kinds. Jimin puts everything into the wardrobe opposite from the bed. He’s decided to stay in the small room. It has a nice enough view, an adjoining bathroom and he’s basically too lazy to carry everything into another room by now.
He discovers some gadgets in the suitcase as well. A fitness tracker (Come on, guys. Really?), some high-calorie granola bars (he doubts he will get physically fit enough in three weeks to undertake a long enough tour) and – what the actual fuck – lube and condoms. He shakes his head and leaves the last items in the suitcase before he puts it on the bottommost shelf of the wardrobe. As if he would need those. Here. In the middle of freaking nowhere.
And no. He can’t let his thoughts wander to Taehyung again.
The next day brings rain and wind, and Taehyung doesn’t even try to talk Jimin into leaving the house. He has been swimming again, despite the cold; his hair still wet and stringy when he comes over for breakfast. Tiny droplets are running over his golden skin, over his half-exposed clavicles, then vanishing under the collar of his low-cut shirt, and Jimin tries his best to keep his mind on the cereal in front of him.
It’s a lazy day. Taehyung asks if he can watch TV in the living room, and Jimin quickly gives up trying to keep up with what is happening on the show, as it’s in the native language of the country. He takes a stroll through the house, discovering five more bedrooms, and a spa area as well as a gym with basic fitness equipment in the basement. And so the plan for the rainy day is quickly made.
Jimin changes into comfortable exercising clothes and works on his core and legs, enjoying how his body welcomes the known movements, then he steps on the elliptical to get some cardio done as well. Taehyung has told him that the chalet is 1600 meters above sea level, so he can at least try to get his body used to the mountain air. He doesn’t want to experience another failure like the one on the day before.
It’s astonishing how his heart and breathing rate go up way faster than usual, although he’s barely done anything yet. But he fights through it and stays on the gym machine for an hour. He showers afterwards, takes his e-book reader and joins Taehyung in the living room, towel slung around his shoulders to keep the water running from his still wet hair into his shirt.
He can’t be sure, but it’s almost like Taehyung’s gaze lingers on him a little too long when he sits down in one of the comfortable armchairs. But then the moment is gone, Taehyung is focussing on the thick textbook in front of him again, and Jimin is as clueless as he’s been before.
When it clears up in the late afternoon, they drive down to the small town and stock up on vegetables and fruit, most of the other basic groceries have been put into the pantry by the owner of the chalet. Jimin also raids the small corner of Asian food, surprised to find canned kimchi there. He plans to cook kimchi jjigae for them this evening, the weather just asks for the dish – it has begun to rain yet again – and it’s one of Jimin’s favorite recipes.
“You never had kimchi jjigae before?” He asks incredulously as Taehyung watches him attentively while he prepares the dish once they are back at the chalet.
“I’m adopted, I’ve lived here all my life,” Taehyung says softly. For a while, Taehyung cutting the spring onions is the only sound in the room.
Jimin doesn’t know how to reply to this information. It’s a very personal thing to share, and he’s grateful that Taehyung finally tells him something about himself. So he simply hums, giving the silence no chance to thicken, and Taehyung seems glad that Jimin doesn’t probe.
It explains a lot though. Why Taehyung’s Korean sounds a little odd but still endearing with the way he slurs on the consonants. Why he knows his way around here perfectly. Jimin doesn’t get how Yoongi and Namjoon probably found the only Korean speaking mountain guide in the whole country. But it doesn’t matter. Taehyung hasn’t said anything vexing to him yet today, and Jimin is slowly getting his hopes up that he has come to realize that he’s not an insensitive, rich asshole.
“I hope you like spicy food then,” Jimin asks as he adds the gochujang.
“I’m not picky when it comes to food, and I like trying new things, so this is a nice change.” He takes the spoon from Jimin and continues stirring. “Did you work out earlier?”
“Yeah, there’s a small gym in the basement,” Jimin answers while he picks up the cubed tofu he prepared earlier and adds it to the already simmering ingredients.
“That’s good. It’s going to rain for the next two or three days so you can do what you did today, and you’ll get used to the altitude in no time.” Suddenly, he turns around and faces Jimin, with a real, god damn beautiful smile on his lips.
Jimin almost chokes on the slice of tofu he’s chewing on.
It's puzzling to hear honest praise coming from Taehyung. See a real smile. Jimin’s heart flutters for a few seconds. It’s an alien feeling. Something he has almost forgotten. While he divides the jjigae into two bowls he wonders why he had to be sent away by his friends first to feel like this again.
Taehyung loves the kimchi jjigae and surprisingly, he starts talking at some point during their dinner. It makes Jimin’s heart soar. He listens to Taehyung as he tells him about his life here. He’s a med student – just about to start his internship – earning some money on the side by guiding mountain tours during the summer and working as a skiing instructor in winter. He has a little sister as well, six years old, who came as a total surprise to their parents.
Taehyung’s eyes shine when he’s talking about his sister, and he even shows Jimin a picture of her on his phone. The blonde girl is holding a candy cone, Jimin guesses that it’s her first day of school, and Taehyung kneels next to her on one knee, looking at her with pride and love in his eyes. The beauty of the picture warms Jimin’s heart deeply.
“She’s lucky to have you as her brother,” he says, unable to hold back the words.
Taehyung simply smiles at him again, and Jimin melts a little.
They move on to him then, and Jimin becomes painfully aware of the fact that there’s not much more than his work to talk about. So he does tell Taehyung about his company for a while. He has no siblings, and Yoongi and Namjoon are his only friends.
It’s that moment when he realizes that he’s incredibly lucky to have them in his life. They’ve stayed, although he has barely seen him during the last two years. Maybe this is one of the reasons they’ve sent him here, to remind him of what is really important in life.
He knows he’s been too involved in his work. He knows that it’s not healthy that even his dreams are about his company most of the time. He knows that lately he might have been existing, yes, but not living.
Taehyung listens to everything he says, his face open and interested, his lips slightly parted and swollen from the spicy meal. Jimin is sure he’s blushing every time his eyes get caught on Taehyung’s lips because he has thousands of other ideas in his head for what else could be responsible for the swelling.
It’s almost midnight when they decide to call it a day. They leave the mess in the kitchen for the morning, slowly walking to the living room together.
“Hey, Taehyung?” Jimin calls out when the other man has almost stepped out of the door. “Stay here tonight? It’s still raining, and there are five empty bedrooms.”
“But—,” Taehyung turns around, his eyebrows drawn together.
“Come on. Please? It feels strange sleeping alone in this big of a house.”
“Don’t you live alone at home?”
“That’s different. Please? Stay here?”
“Why are you so nice?”
This is definitely not a question Jimin has expected. “W-what?”
“You are way too nice. Aren’t you supposed to act all superior and CEO-ish? I bet your employees take advantage of you all the time because you are so soft.”
“What the fuck, Taehyung?” The evening had been so nice until now. “What is that even supposed to mean?”
And suddenly, the words tumble out of Taehyung’s mouth like he has tried to keep them in for a long time. “My birth parents didn’t want me because apparently, I wasn’t compatible with their career plans. They gave me up for adoption when I was two. It took them two fucking years to realize they couldn’t take care of a child. I got adopted quickly after that though, and I don’t remember anything from my time in Korea. But seeing you, all rich and educated—. It made me angry. I thought ‘this could be me,' you know? I take every mountaineering job I can get so I can pay for university. And for people like you, everything happens without putting any effort in at all. Everything is easy because you are born into this kind of life.”
Jimin keeps the silence between them for a few seconds. Tries to sort his words, tries to simmer down the seething anger, tries to prevent himself from saying anything he’ll regret later.
“I don’t come from a rich family. I’m not a chaebol,” he says quietly. “I’ve worked for everything I’ve got now like a freaking maniac. Ask my friends. Since high school, I’ve worked my ass off. My parents wanted me to take over their grocery store. They didn’t want me to leave Busan for Seoul and become something— more? Something they never had the chance to become? I ran away from home on the day I graduated, never spoke to them again, had to hear them say that I’m not their son anymore. I worked day and night to pay for my tuition. I might be rich now, I don’t even try to deny that. But I’m not like your birth parents, Taehyung.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” Taehyung’s voice is rough, and by the look on his face, he seems deeply affected by what Jimin told him. He looks at him with an apologetic smile. It’s soothing on his heart that is still racing with anger. It doesn’t fix everything, but seeing his smile is healing in a way.
“How could you have known? I don’t have a sign on my forehead telling the whole story of my life, right?”
Jimin can see where Taehyung’s disapproval of rich people comes from, but he’s not like them. He will never be like any of those people. Not that he would be able to have children anytime soon with the politics being how they are in South Korea, but being rich has nothing to do with the fact that some people are simply not made to be parents. That is exactly what he tells Taehyung.
“Wait, are you gay?”
“I swear to god if you have something against gay people too—,” Jimin starts, and Taehyung’s face hardens again.
“Jimin, calm down. I’m gay as well,” Taehyung says quietly, the hard glance in his eyes softening. “And you might have changed my opinion about rich people too.”
Jimin’s heart is exploding in his chest. He tries to play it down, simply smiles at Taehyung, who giggles – he fucking giggles, and Jimin will be damned if this isn’t the nicest sound he’s heard for weeks – as he scratches the back of his neck, looking a little embarrassed.
“Good to know,” Jimin manages to get out after a while, and wants to bash his head against a wall as soon as the words have left his lips.
A grin which could almost be described as a smirk forms on Taehyung’s lips when he closes the door again. “I guess I’ll stay at the house then.” Only then he seems to realize how what he’s said might come across. “I mean. God. I’ll take one of the other bedrooms. Which one’s yours?”
“The first on the right. You can take whichever you like best.”
“Thank you.” There’s the smile again, just a little more bashful this time. Jimin thinks he could get used to this smile.
“Don’t,” is all he says.
They quickly fall into a routine after their rocky start. Taehyung swims in the mornings, they have breakfast together, work out, read, watch TV, drive down to the village to buy groceries, and cook together. They also talk. A lot. It’s noticeable how much Taehyung’s Korean has improved in only a few days. He tries to copy Jimin’s pronunciation, and it makes Jimin smile when he notices how tiny bits of his Busan dialect can now be heard in the way Taehyung speaks.
Jimin still can’t tear his gaze away from the beauty that is Taehyung most of the time. But more often than not he catches Taehyung looking at him as well. And each and every time his heart comes to a stuttering halt before it resumes beating so, so fast.
It continues raining for four more days, but finally, the sun lets herself shine again on the fifth, and Taehyung is bursting with energy starting from the early morning. He comes back from his swim only clad in swimming shorts and a bathrobe fastened – very loosely – around his middle.
“You think you’re up for a bigger tour today?” He asks, his smile wide on his lips, and Jimin thinks that he would say yes to anything if he asked him like this.
When they stand next to a summit cross a few hours later, Jimin’s thighs and lungs burning from the climb, he wants to burst with pride. Taehyung keeps sending him knowing looks and takes what feels thousands of photos of Jimin in all possible and impossible angles to capture the moment.
“Knew you could do it, Jimin!”
Jimin hadn’t been so sure. But the view they are granted from up here, and experiencing all of this together with Taehyung is worth the pain. After Taehyung has finished taking the pictures, they keep sitting on the bench under the cross for a little while. There’s no one else but them on this particular mountain and Jimin feels like they could be the only two remaining people in the world. He keeps stealing glances of Taehyung, alternating between looking at the mountain scenery.
The higher peaks around them are whiter than just a few days ago. While it had been raining further down, it had already been cold enough up there to snow.
“It’s getting colder,” Taehyung says, sniffing in the air.
“And you know that by the smell of the air?”
“Yup, my grandfather taught me. Give or take a few more days, and we couldn’t have come up here.”
“There’s going to be snow already? In October?”
“The first snow of the year almost always happens in October. We’ll have to see what we can do, once it happens, but I guess you won’t mind staying at the chalet?”
“Wasn’t that hard to figure out, was it?” Jimin chuckles. “I really liked the hike today, but I’m not keen on doing this every day.”
“Thought so.” Taehyung smiles, reaching out for Jimin’s hand to help him up from the low bench, and he holds onto him safely until the path gradually becomes too steep, forcing them to use their trekking poles again.
The small gesture is enough to make the air around them shift slightly. Jimin’s heart hammers against his rib cage, although the descent is comparatively easy. He can’t put this finger on what exactly has changed during the last few days, but it’s real and palpable, and he hopes that it’s not just him. Hopes that Taehyung feels the same.
“Jimin, wait a second,” Taehyung says quietly when they reach the plateau again.
And Jimin stops still in his tracks at the urging trace in Taehyung’s voice, turning around to face Taehyung just to see him lean his poles against a tree stub. There’s something different about his eyes when he rushes towards him, and Jimin’s breath catches in his throat when Taehyung cups his cheeks in his warm hands.
“I’ve wanted to do this since the morning, since you got out of your bedroom with your hair all messed up, and god forgive me, but I can’t wait another second.”
It doesn’t even take a full second for their lips to connect. The touches are light as feathers at first, and Jimin wants to respond to the kiss, wants it so badly. His heart wants it with all its might, but his brain tells him to stop, tells him that he’s only here for a limited time, tells him that this – whatever this is morphing into right now – can’t linger.
He’s weak though. So weak.
His heart takes over, leaving no coherent thought behind. There’s only Taehyung, and Taehyung’s lips, and one of Taehyung’s hands sliding from his cheeks to the back of his head, tangling in his hair, while the other moves to the small of his back, pressing Jimin closer to him.
His trekking poles fall to the side, forgotten.
Taehyung’s lips are soft but urging, and finally, finally, Jimin kisses back. There’s the smallest of moans humming on Taehyung’s lips when he starts responding, and Jimin doesn’t hesitate to let his lips part when Taehyung licks over them teasingly. He fists his hands into Taehyung’s shirt, pulls him closer, lets the kiss deepen, become more heated, and only when a gust of wind hits them full force and brings rain droplets with it, they break apart. They look at each other breathlessly for a few seconds, as if they both can’t believe what’s just happened.
“Fuck—,” Taehyung yells against the wind. “This has come quicker than I thought.”
Jimin keeps staring for a few seconds at the sky wondering if Taehyung is talking about their kiss or the dark clouds that are quickly moving to cover the sun, but Taehyung’s offered hand pulls him out of his stupor and lets Taehyung drag him along, down the winding path.
They practically run the last few meters to the summit station of the mountain cableway, and it’s all thanks to Taehyung knowing the owner that they are allowed to take the last one before the facility closes for a few hours because of the weather. The cabin sways slightly in the wind, and Jimin would be scared out of his mind if it wasn’t for Taehyung who intertwines their clammy fingers as soon as they sit down.
The absurdity of the situation makes Jimin laugh, makes him laugh with all his heart, because Taehyung looks like a drenched puppy, and he knows he doesn’t look much better. It’s been a while since he’s laughed like this, and it feels good and right and it’s exactly the thing he needed. He doesn’t care anymore about the wet clothes sticking to his skin, or that the sway of the gondola feels like it’s going to crash any second. Taehyung looks at him with his big eyes, chuckling when he finally calms down.
“I just realized you haven’t laughed before. It’s the first time I’ve got to see you laugh.”
“It’s all you,” Jimin says, and if it sounds cheesy, he doesn’t care. Because right at this moment he realizes it’s true. He might’ve been mesmerized by Taehyung’s looks from the beginning, but being able to get to know the person behind it all, finding out that Taehyung’s mind is even more beautiful than his body is utterly fascinating. And it scares Jimin. It scares him because he knows he’s starting to fall for Taehyung.
Not fast enough.
He pushes Taehyung’s damp fringe out of his eyes, taking in all the warmth that radiates from his brown eyes.
They kiss again until they reach the valley station, Taehyung’s kisses taking away every last ounce of fear.
The evening is slow and lazy, and Jimin loves the domestic feel of it.
They are cooking together as usual, but it’s different. For the most part, they take every chance they get to brush against each other, Taehyung lets his chin rest on Jimin’s shoulder, watching him as he keeps stirring the sauce, and it makes Jimin’s knees weak, and his stomach surge with butterflies. He’s not able to pay proper attention to what he’s doing, and Taehyung has to wrench the sugar dispenser out of his hand at one point, preventing him from adding some to the sauce and destroying the whole meal.
Later that evening they watch the movie they’d bought a few days ago. It has English subtitles, so Jimin isn’t at a total loss. Taehyung has laid his head down on Jimin’s lap five minutes into the movie, sighing softly whenever Jimin caresses through his silky hair.
“I love your hair,” Jimin says quietly, “It’s so soft. Like feathers.”
“Nah, it’s not.”
“It is. Shut up, baby bird.” Jimin chuckles, ruffling through the hair, making it stand up with electric tension.
Taehyung grumbles something unintelligible as he reaches up to smooth his hair down again. Jimin is tempted to do it again, but he moves on to Taehyung’s neck instead, lets his hand run over the toned muscles. His skin feels so good under Jimin’s fingertips, smooth and warm, and his mind is already a step ahead, thinking about how it would feel to undress Taehyung, to explore every dip and curve of his body with his fingers and lips.
He stops right there, retracts his hand from Taehyung’s neck and lets it rest on his shoulder for the rest of the movie. A safe layer of fabric between Jimin’s hand and Taehyung’s warm skin. It’s hard to withstand the urge to go back on touching him, but Jimin doesn’t want Taehyung to think that he sees him as nothing more but a holiday fling. Because Jimin knows deep inside his heart that he’s not. He’s definitely not.
And he hopes that Taehyung thinks the same, feels the same, wants the same.
“We should head to bed, I’ve got something exhausting planned for tomorrow,” Taehyung says, sitting up when the ending credits scroll over the screen.
“Okay? Any hints?” Jimin stretches, his muscles are tense from the hike and from sitting in the same position for two hours straight because he didn’t want Taehyung to move his head from his lap.
“It’s going to be wet,” he smirks, and Jimin’s brain short circuits for a fraction of a second, leading him back to his previous train of thoughts.
“Tease,” he coughs, but Taehyung only laughs. He switches the TV off and holds out his hand to help Jimin up from the couch after he stood up himself.
Jimin gets up on his tiptoes and places a soft, sweet kiss on Taehyung’s lips, while he caresses over Taehyung’s slightly calloused fingertips with his smooth ones. He has learned that they became like this from climbing. It made Jimin ask himself if there was anything Taehyung couldn’t do.
“Good night, baby bird.”
“Not this again,” Taehyung grumbles, but there’s a faint blush on his cheeks. “I’m taller than you, you know?”
“I know. But your hair still reminds me of a baby bird. Height doesn’t play into this. Plus, you’re younger than I am.”
Jimin thought he’d actually forgotten how to flirt, but with Taehyung everything comes naturally to him. Even the cheesy as fuck pet name.
Taehyung intertwines their hands yet again when they walk to their rooms, wants to pull Jimin along the hallway to his room, but Jimin stops them before they can pass the door to his own room, standing his ground.
“Tae, don’t get me wrong. But if I came with you to your room, I wouldn’t be able to hold myself back from touching you. And, Tae? I don’t want to rush things. It might sound stupid, especially looking at the situation, but if I touch you, and let you touch me, which I want – god, I want it so much – but I also want it to matter.”
Jimin’s afraid, so afraid when he finishes that he actually needs to force himself to look up at Taehyung again. He’s not met with the expression he’s been so afraid of – anger and disbelief – but with understanding and a smile. A smile that turns his knees into unsteady, uncontrollable goo.
“I get it. It’s the same for me, Jimin. I didn’t want to imply anything by simply taking you to my room. I thought sleeping next to each other would be nice. But you’re right. I don’t think I could hold myself back either. You’re just so, so—,” he searches for the word, “—desirable? Can you use this here?”
“You can, but it— it’s—,” Jimin can feel a blush creeping over his cheeks again. “It says a lot. Implies a lot.”
“Good.” Taehyung says, walking into the general direction of his room, but then turns around again, his eyes dark, “That’s what I wanted it to. Good night, Jimin.”
Jimin doesn’t know how he manages to fall asleep this night. He’s half hard when he slips under the covers, aroused by Taehyung’s poor – or not so poor – word choice, aroused by Taehyung’s whole being. Knowing that he could be in the other man’s room right now doesn’t help. He pictures Taehyung above him, panting and moaning, rolling his hips, and it takes all he has to hold back the moan which builds up inside him. It has been a while since he’s been feeling this way. Aroused, heated. His hand slips into his boxers as if it’s on autopilot, and his thumb goes straight for the spot he knows will make him feel good.
In his mind, it’s Taehyung’s hand that closes around his cock, it’s Taehyung’s hand that plays with his nipple, it’s Taehyung’s hand that brings him close, so, so close.
Jimin asks himself if Taehyung is as desperate as he is, lying in his own bed, just meters away from him, touching himself, thrusting into his own hand. The picture is enough to push Jimin over the edge. He stifles his moans with his pillow, presses his face into the fabric until the climax has washed over him.
He’s never been more thankful for the enclosed bathroom in his room as he cleans himself up before he slips into a new pair of boxers and then back into his bed. But not even the afterglow manages to pull him under.
He lies awake for what feels like hours, asking himself how he came to this point. How they came to this point. How Taehyung became more than the mountain guide.
“You want me to get into that boat. On that river.” Incredulously, Jimin stares at the white waves and splashes of the mountain river below them, then he looks back at the inflatable canoe which Taehyung has connected to some kind of air pump that’s connected to the no-load running car. He almost has to scream for Taehyung to understand him, the rushing of the water roaring in his ears. Whitewater rafting isn't something he had expected when Taehyung had said it would be ‘wet.’
“Come on, Jimin. It’s gonna be fun!”
“How can it be fun when you can die while doing it?”
“You won’t die,” Taehyung rolls his eyes, “it’s perfectly safe. You’re going to wear a lifejacket, and I know this river by heart.”
“Great,” Jimin mutters, as he snags the lifejacket from Taehyung’s hands.
“Jimin. I would never suggest doing something that would put you in any kind of danger, okay?” He gingerly puts his hand on Jimin’s arm to get his full attention, his voice suddenly a lot more serious. “Trust me on this? Please?”
Jimin doesn’t know how he should ever succeed in saying no to anything Taehyung asks of him. He finds himself losing his mind every time he sees the intense gaze in Taehyung's dark-brown eyes. So he all but nods, and the smile that unfurls on Taehyung’s lips makes him forget the dangers of the river for a few seconds. It makes him forget that he’s in an uncomfortable wetsuit, with the lifejacket that makes him feel like he’s gained 10 kilos. It makes him forget that he’s freezing.
It makes everything so much better.
They clamber down to the riverbed, with the canoe between them. The spot where they are starting from is relatively calm, and Taehyung helps Jimin into the boat before he hops in as well.
“Shit, you’re trembling,” he says, letting go of Jimin’s hand when they’ve both settled into their seats. “If you don’t want to go—?”
“No. We’re in the boat, and I’m not planning to back out now. Let’s go.”
“Are you sure?”
He’s not sure. He's scared out of his fucking mind.
“Yes. My friends wanted me to be adventurous. So if I die, it’s on them.”
Taehyung laughs heartily at that, “Well as long as you won’t blame me and come back to haunt me?”
“Hey, you said I won’t die,” he complains jokingly, although he’d rather throw up, his stomach churning with anxiety.
And then Taehyung pushes the canoe away from the shore with his paddle.
When the first wave hits them, Jimin is sure they’re going to capsize, and he will indeed die. The water is icy, taking his breath away for a few seconds as it hits his face. He almost lets go of his paddle trying to find something to hold on to on the slippery wet surface of the boat, and he screams when he’s finding his voice again, screams like a coward. But then it’s over and surprisingly, he’s still in the boat.
Taehyung turns around to face him, totally unfazed, and the smile he has on his lips is wide and happy. “Told you it was gonna be fun,” he yells against the roaring sound of the river.
“Fun,” Jimin mutters. But he hasn’t got much time to ponder on what Taehyung defines as fun because he realizes that the first slide down, the first wave, was only an appetizer of sorts.
Five more minutes into the adventure and Jimin starts to relax a little, seeing that Taehyung knows perfectly well what he’s doing and he does his best to follow his instructions, paddles left or right when needed and soon he doesn’t scream from fear but is whooping along with Taehyung.
He forgets for the next hour that he’s Park Jimin, afraid of basically everything dangerous and unknown. He just enjoys the novelty of this adventure, enjoys that he’s here together with Taehyung. At some point, he even dares to look at the spots that Taehyung draws his attention to, and to his own bafflement he’s disappointed when they reach another calm spot of the river, similar to the one they took off, and Taehyung begins steering them towards the riverbank.
Only then Jimin asks himself how they are going to get back to their car, but before he can voice his concern, he can see an SUV coming into view. A middle-aged, blond man is leaning against the driver’s door.
“Papa!” Taehyung calls out and waves. The man waves back, and once they’ve dragged the boat up the riverbank and Taehyung opens the lid to let the air out again, he fires away rapidly in the language Jimin got used to hearing by now whenever the TV is on or Taehyung’s on the phone. He doesn’t understand a word though.
“That’s my dad,” he explains eventually.
Jimin had figured out that much when Taehyung called the man Papa, but he’s at a loss when he extends his hand and continues speaking in the foreign language when Jimin shakes it.
Taehyung laughs when he sees Jimin’s face which must look puzzled. “He says, nice to meet you, and something I’m not going to translate.”
“Come on, Tae. I’m sure he didn’t say something you cannot translate.”
Taehyung squirms a little, looking uncomfortable in his own skin.
“He, oh god, he also said ‘So you are the one our son can’t shut up about.’”
Taehyung has been talking to his parents about him? This comes unexpected, as well as the warm feeling that’s spreading through him although he’s wet and cold from head to toe, just as Taehyung has predicted the previous night.
“I hope you only told them how great I am then,” he smiles.
Taehyung cackles at that, but there’s still a flush of pink clinging to his cheeks.
They heave the boat up into the pick-up truck together once it’s completely deflated, and then they change quickly into dry sets of sweatpants and loose t-shirts so they don’t get the car seats wet. Naturally, Taehyung’s clothes are too big for him, but Jimin feels content wearing them, safe.
“So your parents know you’re gay?” Jimin asks when Taehyung’s dad drives them back to the car.
“Yes, it isn’t that big of a deal here. I mean you get assholes everywhere, but generally, the people are getting used to all types of relationships and family constellations. And my parents took it in a way which was amazing, they actually scolded me for not coming out to them sooner.”
“That sounds like paradise,” Jimin sighs, “How old were you when you told them?”
“Fourteen,” Taehyung smiles, apparently very fond of the memory. “Did you ever tell your parents before you left home?” he asks after a while.
“No, they wouldn’t have taken it well. They are very traditional, very set in their train of thought.”
“I’m sorry,” Taehyung says softly, reaching out for Jimin’s hand.
“It’s okay, Tae. I overcame this a long time ago.”
Jimin’s not sure if he would’ve been able to deal with this so calmly if it hadn’t been for Yoongi and Namjoon. He befriended them in a club which was known for being gay-friendly. A rarity in South Korea. They had shown him that it was alright to be gay, that it was alright to be who he was supposed to be. And his best friends were ultimately his relationship goal. It was still amazing to see how they completed each other, how they always put the other first even after four years of being together.
Jimin had dated some guys while he was still in college, nothing serious, mostly they’d been both interested in the sexual side of a relationship, putting any kind of feelings to the side, but when he started his company, time became scarce, and the last guy he’d been with left him because according to him Jimin was never there. And to be honest, he had been relieved back then. It was one responsibility off of his list, and when he’d had that thought, he knew he wouldn’t go back to dating for a long time. Not until he sorted out his priorities. He never got to that point, his work too demanding, too time-consuming.
He’d never thought he had it in him to feel like he feels now, overcome with fondness for Taehyung whenever they look at each other, whenever they kiss. It’s a novelty, and for the most part, he doesn’t know how to handle all of it. Even now when all Taehyung does is holding Jimin’s hand loosely in his, there’s this tightening in his chest, so palpable it’s almost suffocating him. But it feels good. Actually, it’s the best feeling in the world.
He gets lost in his thoughts, questioning every fiber of his being, and only realizes that they are back at the car when Taehyung bumps him gently into his side with his elbow.
“Hey, you okay?”
Jimin nods, what else should he do? He feels vulnerable in his current state of mind. Almost on the verge of tears when he realizes that all he wants and needs is Taehyung.
“My dad asked if we want to come home with him? My mum is making a local dish. Well, actually it’s my favorite dish, and I’m afraid she’s only making it to get me home and uhm— to get to know you too.”
“Seriously, Tae. What have you told them?”
“I— might have mentioned that I actually enjoy spending time with a client for once. That you’re not the usual rich asshole prick. And I might have told them we kissed. They got so excited. Fuck. I shouldn’t have said anything at all.” He’s never seen Taehyung like this before. Flustered, his hands shaking slightly, his eyes almost comically widened.
“Tae, it’s alright. And I really enjoy spending time with you too. I mean it’s a bit early to get introduced to the parents, but—”
Taehyung splutters. “It’s not like that!”
But something deep inside his beautiful eyes tells Jimin that it’s exactly like that. And he’s torn. Torn between feeling elated and feeling— he can’t even name the feeling he gets whenever he thinks about being here for only two more weeks.
Taehyung’s parents live in a beautiful, small house at the end of the street in one of the villages down in the valley. His mother opens the door and hugs Taehyung as soon as he’s stepped up the stairs leading into the house. Jimin extends his hand but gets pulled into her strong hug as well. He’s startled, a silent gasp shuddering through him. The hug pulls at his heartstrings, and when Taehyung’s mother lets go of him again, he can feel burning tears at the back of his eyes.
He can’t remember how it felt to be hugged by his own mother, but the warm and heartfelt hug makes something ache deep inside him. He hadn’t realized that he missed this kind of maternal affection, hadn’t realized how much it hurt to be deprived of it for such a long time.
Suddenly, someone thunders down the staircase which leads down to the hallway they are standing in. Jimin only sees a flash of blue and blond and then a little girl throws herself in Taehyung’s extended arms.
“TaeTae, you’re home!!”
The commotion gives Jimin time to collect himself again, but the smile on Taehyung’s mother’s face tells him that she’s noticed how touched he is by the hug.
Jimin realizes that the girl has been speaking Korean when she comes to stand in front of him, throwing her small arms around Jimin’s waist without hesitation. It makes Taehyung laugh, his voice sounds soft when he says something to his sister before he turns his attention to Jimin again.
“That’s Mia, my sister,” Taehyung introduces her. Then he switches back to the other language, but Jimin can make out his name being said, so he assumes that Taehyung’s introducing him to his sister and mother.
“Annyeonghaseyo,” Mia says when she eventually lets go of Jimin. And he says it back, smiling fondly at the girl.
“I’ve been trying to teach her some words when I was skyping with her” Taehyung explains. “She’s a quick learner.”
Mia takes one hand each of Jimin and Taehyung and starts pulling them through the kitchen to the patio, quickly talking to Taehyung, who tries to translate.
“She wants to show us her rabbits. I haven’t been home for a few weeks, I’ve picked you up from the airport on my way back from university. They were still babies when I last saw them.”
The rabbits are still pretty small, Taehyung can hold one of them in one of his big hands without a problem while Jimin has to use both hands.
“It’s cute that your hands are so small,” Taehyung says softly, holding out his free hand to cover one of Jimin’s with it.
Jimin gets flustered, but he pays him right back, “I hope you calling my hands cute means you are fine with me calling you baby bird?”
“Sounds fair,” Taehyung admits, and even takes it without complaint when Jimin ruffles through his silky hair.
Then they are called in for dinner, and they settle down at the table once the three of them have washed their hands after petting the animals. Jimin has never felt this welcomed before – aside from Namjoon and Yoongi of course. After they’ve finished eating, Jimin feels like he has gained a sister.
Mia wants to know everything about him, his favorite color (light blue), his favorite food (kimchi jjigae), his favorite animal (rabbits for now – he doesn’t want to blow it with her right from the beginning), so all Taehyung does during the meal is translate, asking Jimin multiple times if he’s okay with Mia asking so many questions.
But the only thought on Jimin’s mind when they drive home this evening, his fingers interlaced with Taehyung’s on the center console of the car, is that he wants to belong to this family. Wants to be part of the safety and comfort he’s experienced there. But he can’t see how. Can’t see past the two weeks he has left here.
During the next few days, Taehyung takes Jimin up every mountain he can, since it will be too dangerous for Jimin to hike with nearly no experience once the first snow has fallen. It gets easier and easier, his body is getting used to the strenuous activities, and nothing is more satisfying than looking down the mountain he has just climbed.
They steal kisses from each other whenever they can. And Jimin can’t look away from the fact how they last longer and get more heated every time. He doesn’t know how much longer he can hold himself back. The urge to feel Taehyung’s skin on his is almost getting unbearable.
Once again, Jimin is scared and unwilling when Taehyung tells him that the plan for the next day is canyoning. He doesn’t even know the term, and Taehyung has to explain to him that it includes climbing and waterfalls, which might have something to do with his refusal in the first place.
But just as it had happened on the day they’d been rafting, he finds enjoyment and relaxation after a while. His fear’s forgotten quickly, and the adrenaline that’s rushing through his body makes everything more exciting. He knows he can trust Taehyung, even when he asks him to partly jump, partly slide down a freaking waterfall.
They are both still freezing from the cold water they spent most of the afternoon in when they get back to the chalet that day. Jimin suggests using the sauna to warm up again. It takes a while for the bio sauna to warm up to 65 degrees and so they spend their time waiting outside in what Jimin has dubbed as ‘sky bed.’ It’s a four-poster outdoor bed with curtains at the sides but no canopy at the top, granting a breathtaking view of the blue sky and the mountains on the other side of the valley. They bring some pillows and blankets from the living room and settle down there, both of them already wearing nothing but their bathrobes.
Taehyung snuggles up to Jimin almost as soon as they’ve lain down, his lips finding Jimin’s as he starts to kiss him lazily. Jimin loves being kissed like this, so slow, yet so deep and thorough. He parts his lips willingly, he lets Taehyung explore his mouth, his tongue curling around Jimin’s as if it’s its only purpose. Jimin slips one of his bare legs between Taehyung’s, tangling them together, and Taehyung sighs into the kiss when the timer of the sauna beeps not soon after, barely audible out there, and they reluctantly break away from each other.
“If you wanted to see me naked you could've just said so, you know?” Taehyung jokes as he lets his robe fall unceremoniously when they arrive at the small vestibule in front of the sauna. And Jimin tries so hard not to stare as he curses himself for bringing up the idea to use the sauna together. He keeps his gaze down at his feet as he slips out of his bathrobe, letting it fall on the chair behind him, flustered, although he knows he has nothing to hide.
“Shit, you are ripped,” Taehyung’s eyes are wide when he looks at Jimin, honest surprise sparkling through them. “I thought with a stamina like yours, you'd be all soft and smooth, but— you’re gorgeous.” He reaches out, a fleeting touch ghosting over Jimin's abs and his breath catches in his throat. Fuck. He's god damn naked, and Taehyung touching him isn't what he needs right now. Now that there's nothing to cover him.
And of course, his body right out betrays him then and there.
“Jimin,” Taehyung whispers.
And when Jimin looks up from his feet, he can't stop his gaze from fluttering over Taehyung's crotch. He's not prepared for what he sees there. Taehyung's dick isn’t hard, but he’s not exactly flaccid either.
He reaches out, takes Taehyung’s hand in his and leads them back to the four-poster bed. They don’t need words right now.
Taehyung’s hand is cold in Jimin’s, and for a second he contemplates if it wouldn’t be better to use the sauna after all, but the blankets on the bed are still warm from the sun, and Jimin’s skin is feeling so hot with anticipation already, he’ll do his best to warm Taehyung up quickly.
Jimin takes his time to admire Taehyung’s body when he stretches out on the bed again. He sees him almost naked every morning when he swims his rounds in the pool, but seeing him like this, aroused and ready for whatever might happen? It’s different.
“Like what you see?” Taehyung whispers, as he wraps his hand loosely around his cock, giving himself two languid strokes, his gaze never leaving Jimin’s eyes, and his words and actions make Jimin’s cock twitch, he can feel himself becoming harder by just watching Taehyung lying on the bed, utterly comfortable with himself and his body.
“God, Taehyung. Don’t ask me something like this when you— Shit, of course I like what I see.” He wants to explore that beautiful body, wants to taste him, touch him everywhere he can.
Slowly he joins him on the bed, and Taehyung doesn’t waste another second to pull Jimin down to him by his shoulders, claiming his lips again. His cold hands slide into Jimin’s hair, tilting his head slightly to allow the kiss to deepen even further. Jimin loves it, loves the urgency of the kiss, the way Taehyung’s hands tug gently on his hair as he sighs into Jimin’s mouth with his dark, roughed up voice.
He leaves Taehyung’s lips to kiss down his jaw, over his lean neck to his collarbone, their breaths labored and erratic. It’s been so long, so, so long since Jimin has been close to anyone like this. But even then, he’s never felt the way he does now.
His whole body is brimming with excited anticipation, but there’s more. The tightening in his chest is back when he looks up into Taehyung’s eyes between the kisses he’s peppering over the sun-kissed skin and Taehyung meets his gaze warmly and surely. It’s a feeling he can’t quite place.
He takes his time, leaves open-mouthed kisses and small wet trails with his tongue on his way down, taking in every small sigh he can elicit from Taehyung. Almost every day since he’s arrived here, he has thought about how it would feel to explore Taehyung’s body, how his skin would taste, how it would feel under his fingertips. But the way he has Taehyung under him now, reacting to every touch, goosebumps spreading from every spot Jimin kisses? Nothing could have prepared him for this. Nothing could have prepared him for the way Taehyung whimpers his name when he flicks his tongue against one of his nipples and lets his hand trail over the inside of his thighs, feeding to the desire that keeps building up inside him.
Jimin tends to the perky nipples for a while before he continues his way down, knowing exactly where he’s going, and by the sound of Taehyung’s voice when Jimin kisses past his belly button he has an idea as well.
Jimin kisses his way over the hip bones to the soft inner thighs, sucking the smooth skin into his mouth whenever he can, not caring at all if he leaves marks. The faint bruises look so good on Taehyung’s tan skin, so sinful, and Jimin loves the fact that he’s the one who’s able to leave them there.
“Is this okay?” Jimin asks, stopping his ministrations barely millimeters away from the base of Taehyung’s cock. He can feel the heat emanating from it, and it makes his breath go shallower by just thinking about taking it into his mouth.
“You’re about to go down on me, and you ask me if I’m okay with it?” Taehyung chuckles, “God Jimin, have you seen how hard I am? How hard I am for you even though you haven’t touched me yet?”
"'tis better?” Jimin asks, letting his tongue play around the base cheekily.
But Taehyung’s huff turns quickly into a moan when Jimin starts trailing up the underside with his tongue, slow and dragging, lapping up stray beads of precum as he goes.
“Fuck, Jimin,” he gasps, when Jimin can’t resist any longer and takes Taehyung’s length into his mouth, sucking lightly on the sensitive tip, his tongue flattened against the spot under it. “Feels so good—,” Taehyung gets lost in what he’s saying with Jimin taking in more of him, relaxing his throat as goes down on him. Taehyung’s hands are finding their way to Jimin’s hair, tugging on the strands until an almost exasperated groan leaves his lips.
“Stop, Jimin. Stop. I don’t want to come just yet,” his breathing is ragged, his voice dripping with arousal. “You are too good at this.”
Slowly, Jimin crawls up again, his lips much more sensitive to the passionate kiss Taehyung tugs him into now, moaning when he can taste traces of his own precum on Jimin’s tongue.
Taehyung flings them around, and suddenly Jimin lies under him, pressed into the cushions. They continue kissing, all teeth and tongue and Jimin can’t get enough of the way Taehyung sucks and nibbles on his lower lip. But it is quickly forgotten when Taehyung lowers his body and lets his cock slide against Jimin’s. It’s slick from precum and saliva, and the friction is almost more than Jimin can take. He grinds his hips up against Taehyung’s, the kiss coming to a stuttering halt until their mouths are only millimeters apart, their hot breaths and moans mingling.
“Taehyung, please,” he whimpers, not sure what he’s begging for. But he knows he needs more. More than this, and when he sees the flash of desire in Taehyung’s eyes, his abdomen clenches almost painfully from want.
“Did you bring anything? Please tell me you did.” Taehyung asks quietly.
“Namjoon and Yoongi they— they must have thought it was funny to pack certain things for me.”
“I like your friends already.”
This time it is Taehyung who pulls him along, up from the bed and into the house. Jimin’s legs are shaking so much he can barely keep up with the pace. He’s fumbling for the lube and condom in the big suitcase, pushing the items into Taehyung’s hands without another word.
“Are you sure?” Taehyung asks, his eyes widening.
“Yes, Tae. Want you inside me.”
Jimin can’t deny that he has imagined it the other way around before, but right now he feels the need to be filled up, he needs Taehyung so badly inside him.
“Come on, baby bird,” he teases, reaches out for Taehyung’s hand and pulls him towards his unmade bed when the Taehyung keeps standing in the middle of the room.
Countless kisses and eager touches let them ease into it again. And when Jimin hears Taehyung popping the lid of the bottle open, his cock is twitching expectantly in Taehyung’s other hand.
“Ready?” Taehyung asks gently, and Jimin nods, watching in awe how Taehyung lubes up his long, slender fingers. He leans back against the cushions, pulling one of his legs up to his chest to make it easier for Taehyung.
“You’re so beautiful,” Taehyung whispers, the fingers of his clean hand tracing patterns along Jimin’s thighs.
“Tae—,” he whimpers, more a plea than anything else.
“I’ve got you,” Taehyung says softly, and when Jimin can feel a finger circling over his rim, he doesn’t fight the urge to moan but simply lets himself fall. They are alone, there’s no need to hold back because of thin walls or people who could overhear them. Jimin’s never had this kind of freedom before.
“God, Taehyung,” he breathes when he presses the first finger in. It burns slightly, but the pain quickly turns into pleasure when Taehyung starts circling his finger, dragging it expertly along his walls.
Jimin doesn’t even notice that he starts pushing back against the digit until Taehyung asks, “Another?”
“Fuck, yes please.”
Jimin breathes through the hint of blunt pain when Taehyung adds a second finger, and he takes note, slowing until Jimin’s accustomed to the stretch.
“You’re so tight,” Taehyung says quietly.
“It’s been a while.”
“I bet you haven’t forgotten how this feels though.”
And when Taehyung curls his fingers, Jimin can’t help but cry out in pleasure. He hasn’t forgotten, but it’s different when someone else touches him there. His own fingers are never enough.
“See?” Taehyung’s voice is nothing but sinful when he lets his fingers run over the bundle of nerves again and again, turning Jimin into a whimpering mess underneath him, completely immersed in the pleasure he receives from Taehyung’s finger, Taehyung’s lips on his neck, Taehyung’s sweet words.
His world is completed, everything around him coming to a stuttering halt when Taehyung is slowly sliding into him after he put on the condom. He gives Jimin time, simply holds him as he peppers kisses over his jaw and neck, keeps telling him how beautiful he is.
It’s too much, it’s too perfect. And Jimin doesn’t know how to hold back the sob that’s suddenly shuddering through him. How can he feel this much for someone he’s barely known for two weeks? He’s scared by the intensity of his own feelings.
“Did I hurt you?” Taehyung asks, sounding anxious.
“No. God no. Just feels so good. You feel so good inside me. Please, Tae, please take me.”
Taehyung complies, and when he starts rolling his hips Jimin can’t think about anything else, the pleasure pulling him under, drowning him. He wants this, needs it, needs every single one of the sharp thrusts which take both of them further up the mattress, which make him whimper a neverending litany of Taehyung’s name. He watches Taehyung lose himself in him, tiny beads of sweat running down the strands of his silky hair. Their voices – so different – are sounding as one through the room, moans and whimpers connecting them.
Jimin’s climax builds up slowly, then crashes over him all at once. He wraps both of his legs around Taehyung’s waist, makes him push into him even deeper, his insides clenching around Taehyung’s pulsing cock as he lets go, coming between their bodies.
“Jimin. I—, C-can I come like this?” Taehyung mumbles, his body trembling, his eyes having trouble focussing.
“Please,” he doesn’t manage more than a whimper, he’s already on the verge of oversensitivity, but with the last of his remaining strength Jimin moves against Taehyung’s thrusts, welcomes him when he comes inside of him.
They keep lying still connected with each other until they are able to breathe normally again.
“Jimin, this was—,” Taehyung’s voice trails off.
“It was the best sex I ever had,” Jimin finishes the sentence.
“Yeah, that,” Taehyung chuckles and only then he slides out of Jimin carefully and collapses next to him.
Jimin feels empty as soon as Taehyung leaves him, but he compensates at once, draping himself over Taehyung, not caring about the stickiness or that they are both shining with sweat.
“Can’t you stay a little while longer?” Taehyung asks, his hands drawing unintelligible words on Jimin’s shoulder blades.
“I wish I could. But I will come back here, I promise.”
The hum Taehyung utters after this sounds uncertain, and Jimin wants to show him that he means it, kissing Taehyung with all his heart.
When they finally make it to the shower, Taehyung compensates for Jimin’s blowjob earlier that evening, makes him come again as he kneels down in front of him, taking him into his mouth while he’s jerking himself off. It’s selfless and fucking hot, and Jimin enjoys watching Taehyung immensely, his second orgasm almost overshadowing the first one.
They go to sleep in Taehyung’s room that night. Together. And when they wake up on the next morning, entangled with each other, the light that’s simmering through the blinds is too bright.
It has been snowing overnight.
Everything is perfect. Too perfect for the next few days. Jimin tries to ban every thought about leaving this place – leaving Taehyung – in the farthest corner of his mind.
There’s this constant nagging inside his chest, this slight almost physical pain reminding him that this can’t last. And when they lie next to each other at night, Taehyung breathing evenly next to him; he tries to think of solutions, as he sees the hourglass inside his mind running out.
Ten days turn to six days quickly. Too quickly. They’ve spent the last three days at the chalet, as the snow outside doesn’t leave them much choice. But Jimin thinks that even if the sun were shining, even if it were the most beautiful weather outside, they would still have stayed in, kept exploring each other, kept talking about everything that comes to mind.
“Fuck. I can’t believe this shit.” Taehyung flings his phone onto the couch, his eyebrows furrowed when Jimin comes into the living room after his morning shower. He’s only wearing his boxers, as dressing has proved ridiculously unnecessary during the last few days.
“What’s happened, baby bird?” he asks, hugging him from behind, but Taehyung winds out of his grasp, turning to look out of the window. It hurts. The distance between them hurts.
“I have to go back to the city I study at in three days. I’ve got an interview for my one-year internship at one of the biggest children’s hospital in the city. I can’t skip this, Jimin.”
“But that’s great! Pediatrics, exactly what you’ve wanted!” It is great. But Jimin’s heart sinks nevertheless. Three days. Two nights. His throat constricts uncomfortably.
“No, it’s not. I thought we had six days and now we’re down to three.”
“You're not some summer fling, Taehyung. We won’t end after those three days. Right? Please tell me you're not thinking of me as one.” He rests one of his hands on Taehyung’s shoulder, but the younger shrugs it away.
“No, Jimin. No, I don't. But tell me. Tell me how this should work?”
“We need to figure out a way.” Jimin pauses, trying to collect himself, “Because I’m not falling in love with you, Tae. I’ve already fallen.”
“Jimin.” Taehyung turns around to face Jimin again, his voice shaky, his Adam's apple moving when he swallows. “Do you mean it? Because if you don’t mean it I—”
And Jimin falls again, falls even harder when he sees those big, beautiful eyes looking at him, scared and vulnerable.
“Of course I mean it. I’ve fallen in love with you, Kim Taehyung.”
They kiss like they haven’t kissed before. Slow but so deep it stirs something inside Jimin, and soon the taste of the kiss gets bitter with his tears.
“Um, if we’re interrupting we’ll just leave again.”
At the sound of the familiar voice Jimin whirls around. Yoongi is standing in the door to the patio, Namjoon behind him, both looking equally embarrassed, sensing that they’ve clearly interrupted something.
“Shit,” Taehyung murmurs behind him.
Jimin can feel his own mouth open and close again, not knowing what he can say to dissolve the awkward moment. They probably came for his birthday, and he can’t even manage to give them a proper greeting. He almost angrily wipes the remainder of tears from his cheeks.
“How about you both get dressed properly and then you can introduce the guy to us, Jimin-ah?” Namjoon offers.
Jimin almost yelps when he realizes he’s indeed not dressed. It’s not like his friends haven’t seen him in underwear, but this is different. Kissing Taehyung always leaves traces.
He all but dashes off to his room, Taehyung following on his heels.
“Yoongi and Namjoon?” Taehyung asks, and Jimin all but nods.
“I didn’t know they would come here. I’m sorry this is so sudden, especially now when we’ve only got thr—”
“Jimin. It’s fine. They are your friends. Let’s not make this more awkward than it already is, come on get dressed.” He throws a pair of jeans at him and Jimin catches them halfheartedly. Of course he’s happy about the surprise visit. But there’s also the prospect of having to say goodbye to Taehyung in three days, leaving an ambivalent mess of feelings inside him he can’t possibly sort right now.
Namjoon and Yoongi have settled down on the couch when they come back to the living room. They both look tired from the journey, Namjoon is rubbing calming circles on Yoongi’s back.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” Jimin says when they get up from their seats so he can hug both of them. “I mean, I’ve wanted to kill you so many times for sending me here. But I guess I’ve kind of overcome that.”
“We can see that,” Yoongi says with the slightest smirk.
“Um, well. This is Kim Taehyung, my mountain guide, and— boyfriend.”
He can feel Taehyung tense next to him, but then he threads their fingers together, and Jimin knows he’s chosen the right words to introduce him.
“Boyfriend,” Yoongi and Namjoon echo almost scarily simultaneous.
“Hi,” Taehyung says eventually when both of Jimin’s friends are clearly too baffled to say anything. And Jimin can’t hold it against them, an hour ago he most probably wouldn’t have used the word ‘boyfriend’ either, but after their confession, after the kiss they’ve shared— everything else would’ve sounded wrong.
“Nice to meet you, I’m Kim Namjoon, and this is Min Yoongi. My boyfriend,” Namjoon says after a while, extending his hand. Taehyung quickly lets go of Jimin to shake Namjoon’s and then Yoongi’s hand.
Jimin suddenly has to laugh at the scene that unfolds in front of him. “Okay, this is awkward enough for the moment. Hyung, why don’t you help me in the kitchen, get some drinks for us all,” Jimin says pointedly to Namjoon, and he can almost feel Taehyung roll his eyes when he uses the honorific.
“You love him.” Namjoon doesn’t ask. He states the fact as soon as the door closes behind them. And when Jimin doesn’t answer, can’t answer the question that isn’t one, Namjoon sighs. “Oh Jimin, what have you gotten yourself into?”
“It’s more like what you guys have gotten me into,” Jimin scowls as he gets coke and water from the fridge, handing them to Namjoon so he can grab the glasses from the cupboard.
“Right. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t say that, hyung.”
“Shit. You really do love him. You’ve only been away for all but two weeks.”
“He’s something else. You have to meet his family, his sister, they are amazing.”
“You’ve met his parents?” Namjoon gapes.
“They live down in the village. Tae’s adopted, he’s been living here for most of his life.”
“But what happens when you leave, Jimin-ah?”
Of course Namjoon has to ask the one question Jimin can’t answer yet. He just shakes his head, signaling that he doesn’t want to talk about this right now. And when they walk back to the living room Jimin is aware of Namjoon’s worried gaze on him.
The next day turns into Jimin’s best birthday of his life. Taehyung wakes him up with languid kisses which turn into lazy, amazing birthday morning sex. The drawn-out thrusts make him shiver throughout the day whenever his mind replays the perfect morning in his head.
They drive down to the valley later, the snow almost gone again. Taehyung doesn’t tell him where they are going but Jimin recognizes the way to Taehyung’s parents’ house, and when they arrive he’s being greeted with table fireworks and a discord recital of Happy Birthday. But he couldn’t care less, he’s happy. So, so happy and lucky to be here, and he doesn’t even notice the tears on his face when he has blown out the candles on the handmade birthday cake until Taehyung kisses them away, which makes Mia giggle and the others groan.
He wouldn’t even have needed the presents which are piled up on a small side table. There’s a drawing from Mia which shows him and Taehyung with the rabbits. Taehyung’s parents have gotten him a woolen jersey, similar to the one he keeps stealing from Taehyung in the evenings. Yoongi and Namjoon have gotten him four round trip plane tickets, and Jimin doesn’t even think before he shoves two of them into Taehyung’s hands, and only then he thanks his friends. Of course, he has no problem spending money on plane tickets, but this present holds a deeper meaning. It shows that his best friends are wholeheartedly supporting his relationship with Taehyung, and he knows his boyfriend gets it as well when he hugs them as if he’s known them forever.
Taehyung has printed all the selcas he has taken of them with his phone and put them into a pretty notebook, with ‘plenty of room for more.’
Yoongi mutters, “Please don’t tell me we were this sickeningly sweet when we first got together,” when Jimin kisses Taehyung enthusiastically to thank him, and Jimin can’t help digging out some stories of how bad it indeed had been, Taehyung translating everything for his family.
They stay at the house past midnight, Mia soon falling asleep on Taehyung’s lap while the adults play tabletop games. It’s such a carefree, perfect day and Jimin’s able to forget about the fact that he has one day left with Taehyung.
It hits him like a freight train when they lie in bed in the early hours of the morning. Taehyung has to leave around midnight, it takes three hours to get to the city he attends university at, but it is known for the horrible traffic situation at all hours of the day. Which leaves them with less than twenty hours they can spend together.
“Baby bird,” he whispers, tears clogging his airways as he plays with Taehyung’s hair. “It hurts—”
“I know,” is all Taehyung says. He starts kissing him like Jimin loves it, deep and deliberate, and when Jimin starts sobbing so hard they can’t continue, he holds him, whispers sweet nothings into his ear despite his own tears until Jimin falls asleep on top of him again.
When they finally leave Taehyung’s room – which became their room – around noon, there’s a note on the table.
‘We thought you’d like some time for just the two of you. We’ll be back tomorrow. Namjoon & Yoongi’
They spend almost all day on the ‘sky bed,’ huddled together under warm comforters against the wind, simply enjoying one another’s presence.
“I promise I’ll come to the airport. Don’t tell me goodbye just yet.”
Jimin has lost count of how many times they’ve already had this conversation during the last twelve hours. It almost always ends with new tears and promises, and Jimin thinks that the waiting for the actual goodbye is what makes it a hundredth time worse.
“I’d never thought this could happen to me,” Taehyung says. It’s already dawning, the canopy of the sky turning into a darker shade of blue by the second.
“Hm?” Jimin asks.
“Falling in love like this. So abruptly and without a warning sign.”
“It happens to the best of us,” Jimin says, kissing Taehyung softly on his temple.
“I love you, Jimin.”
Jimin’s heart feels like it’s come to a standstill and exploding out of affection at the same time. He’s wanted to say it before Taehyung left, but his boyfriend beating him to it—
“Taehyung,” he swallows thickly, he can’t cry again. Not now. “I love you too.”
His friends don’t even try to get him out of the house during the last two days. Even packing is exhausting, and Jimin knows he’s going to see Taehyung again, but living through all these emotions of the past few days has left him depleted and tired.
Taehyung calls him on Namjoon’s phone twice a day, but he’s in such a rush they can barely talk. According to him, the interview went well, but he won’t know for sure until two weeks time. Jimin wishes he had his own phone with him so he could at least send text messages to his boyfriend, encourage him, but his friends have left it in Korea so he wouldn’t be tempted to check into work even one minute early.
But work is the last thing he thinks about right now.
The very last.
“He’s not coming,” Jimin says defeatedly, handing his boarding pass to the hostess as they are already late. Taehyung had wanted to be here two hours ago, but he never showed.
Jimin whirls around at the sound of the dark, vibrant voice, his heart is almost rupturing in his chest when he sees Taehyung running along the gateway. And then he starts running as well, flinging himself into Taehyung’s arms.
“There— There was—,” Taehyung gasps for air, “I got stuck in a freaking traffic jam, I was so scared I wouldn’t make it, and my phone battery died, otherwise I would have called. I’m so sorry, Jimin.”
“I'm going to miss you, baby bird.”
“Don't go,” Taehyung whispers and Jimin doesn't want to go. He doesn't want to leave. Leave Taehyung when he looks at him like this, tears in his eyes, the eyes that became Jimin’s world in a heartbeat.
“Jimin-ah, we're going to miss our flight.”
He wants nothing more than to ignore Namjoon and stay here – at this moment – forever, but then he steals one last kiss of Taehyung. It's desperate and deep, and he couldn't care less that they are in public.
But then the last call for their flight is echoing through the high halls, and Jimin has to go, has to leave. And it hurts, hurts deep inside. He looks back until the view is obscured by too many people until he can’t see Taehyung anymore.
Jimin curls himself up in his seat with the provided blanket as soon as they’ve taken their places in business class.
Namjoon sniffles quietly beside him.
“Joon, you’re such a sap,” Yoongi sighs, but there’s this deeper sound of care and love in his voice which always comes through whenever he talks to Namjoon.
“I’ve told that kid if he ever hurts him, we’ll come for him. Don’t worry.”
Jimin pretends not to listen in to his friend's conversation, his chest is aching, he tries his best not to cry, he really does. He knows that they will see each other again soon, Jimin is going to make use of those plane tickets as soon as he can. But right at this moment, everything is too much. He leans against the window, glad that he's seated there and lets his tears flow freely. He has cried way too much during the last few days. At one point, he can feel Namjoon's hand on his shoulder, letting him know that he's here for him, that they are both here for him.
He still doesn’t know how he’s lost his heart in three weeks. He’s fallen so hard. He’s so much in love with Taehyung. It’s a cruel twist of fate to let him find someone like this in a foreign country, putting obstacles in their way left and right.
Three months later
To say he’s not scared would be a lie. Taehyung calls him on skype only once a week because their schedules don’t match most of the time. But they send text messages to each other whenever they can. And now it has been three days since Jimin last heard from his boyfriend.
He doesn’t know how many times he’s reread their last conversation, asking himself if he’s said anything that made Taehyung angry at him. But there’s nothing. Just their usual talk about their days; things that made them happy, things that didn’t sit well with either one of them, and of course the uncountable ‘I miss yous’ and ‘take cares’.
Taehyung has decided to use the months before his internship is starting for volunteering to get his credits up, and is working at a free clinic six days a week.
Jimin feels anxious thinking about how it will be when the internship starts with its twenty-four-hour shifts. When even calls will become problematic to schedule. He’s become used to set his alarm in the middle of the night if it means he’ll get to talk to Taehyung for a few minutes, hear his voice even though it sounds different through the phone speaker or his headset.
He misses all those small things about Taehyung’s voice. Feeling the vibration of his laughter against his cheek whenever he’d lain down his head on Taehyung’s chest. The little gasps when he started nibbling on his collarbone as he could never stop himself from doing this. His cheeky chuckle when Jimin reacted exactly how Taehyung had expected him to react whenever they did something adventurous. The deep, drawn-out moans when he pushed himself into Jimin.
Whoever says heartache isn’t real, can’t be physically felt, is either a liar or hasn’t experienced love. Hell, Jimin would have denied the existence of the painful tugging in his chest as well if he would’ve been asked four months ago. But Taehyung changed his view on a lot of things, made him reconsider his life.
Ever since Jimin came back, he’s been trying not to obsess about work, and every time it becomes too much he’s thinking about how carefree and good he’d felt when they’d been on the river, jumping down a freaking waterfall as if it was the most normal thing to do in the world. He’d left everything behind at that moment.
Jimin’s delegating a lot more tasks, gives his employees more autonomy when he realizes that they’ve just been fine without him during the three weeks of his absence. And slowly but surely, he enjoys getting up and leaving for work in the mornings again.
But on this particular Monday, he’s restless. It’s not like Taehyung to ignore his messages, emails, and calls as he’s practically married to his phone. And three days? Even if he has lost his phone? It’s too long.
Jimin calls Namjoon as soon as his driver has picked him up in front of his building.
“Jimin-ah, how are things.”
“The usual,” Jimin doesn’t want to sound too anxious, too clingy, “Listen. Could you do me a favor and call Tae? I haven’t heard from him since Thursday morning.”
“Sure, will do. But Jimin-ah? Don’t worry too much. I’m sure he’s just busy. Isn’t his internship starting next week?”
“I know. I’m trying, I really am. But it sucks not to be able to check up on him. I’ll call his parents tonight if I haven’t heard from him by then, but it would be great if you could try as well, maybe I said something— I don’t know, I’m worried.”
“I’ll try calling him right away.”
Five minutes later, there’s a message from Namjoon telling him the call went straight to voicemail, but he’ll keep trying.
Jimin’s heart sinks. Even if Taehyung’s phone would have been stolen, he could at least tell him by email that he’s alright. Jimin tries to stop himself from playing out all sorts of scenarios in his head but doesn’t succeed.
He has to stay at work until the very end of the day, doesn’t want to postpone the meetings with the contractual partners because he can’t stop worrying. His gaze flies to his phone every other minute as he sits through the hours of presentations and planning, but the screen stays a depressing black.
On the way home, Jimin asks himself if having a driver is worth all the money. The streets are congested again, and he’s sure he would be much faster if he’d taken the subway.
Calling Taehyung’s parents to ask them if his boyfriend is alright is the only thing on his mind right now, and he hasn’t saved the number in his phone yet, it’s still in the small envelope inside the notebook Taehyung has given him for his birthday.
He rushes through the lobby of his apartment building. Not even greeting the concierge in his hurry. There’s no time, not if something has happened to Taehyung.
Of course, none of the elevators is on the ground floor, and he stabs the button repeatedly as if it would make it come down faster.
“You are home late today,” someone says behind him.
This voice, it can’t be.
Taehyung is nine thousand kilometers away, probably getting ready for his afternoon shift at the clinic.
Jimin is too afraid to turn around, too afraid that he imagines things that aren’t here because it wouldn’t be the first time he’s thought he heard Taehyung’s voice in a room full of people. But he’s alone in the hallway, the only sound is the whirring of the elevator.
“Jimin. I’m here. Look at me, please?”
Jimin turns around. Slowly. As if he could scare Taehyung away by moving too fast.
He’s hit by how beautiful Taehyung looks as if it’s the first time seeing him. He’s smiling widely, there’s only the tiniest hint of exhaustion in his beautiful eyes, and for a few seconds all Jimin can do is look at him, taking in every single detail.
Taehyung has dyed his hair. It seems almost black at first glance, but it’s actually a warm, dark brown, close to the color of his eyes. And Jimin can’t resist, reaches out to let his fingers run through the silky strands once. They are so soft, just as he remembers them.
“Baby bird,” he whispers, “You’re here.”
“I am.” Taehyung’s eyes soften when Jimin uses the pet name, and Jimin loses himself in those eyes, sees his whole future in them.
For a while it doesn’t matter why Taehyung is standing right in front of him, all that matters are his lips on Jimin’s, his arms around him as soon as they step into the elevator, and only later when they are lying in Jimin’s bed as close as humanly possible, Jimin asks, “How?”
He’s still breathless, giggling softly at how Taehyung follows the lines of his face with his fingers, the faint touches tickling over his cheeks.
“I didn’t want to tell you until it all worked out. I transferred to a pediatric hospital here in Seoul for the time of my internship. I even get extra credit for it. Learning different techniques, having to converse in another language, and so on. It was actually Yoongi-hyung who forwarded me the employment notice.”
Jimin can’t believe what he’s hearing. He will never be able to pay his friends back for all the good things they brought into his life. For bringing Taehyung into his life.
“Are you telling me, that you’ll be here for an entire year? What about your family, your friends?”
“You are all I need right now,” Taehyung says so quietly that it’s barely audible.
Jimin hugs him even closer at that, needs to feel Taehyung so close to him to be sure that he’s not dreaming.
“Can I stay here?” Taehyung asks after a while.
“Nope, this apartment is for the rich people only,” Jimin laughs, in a mimicry of what Taehyung has said to him on the first night at the chalet. “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to sleep in the pantry.”
Taehyung nudges him playfully into his side.
“Of course you can stay,” Jimin says much more serious. “Did you really expect me to ask you to stay somewhere else?”
“It’s so sudden, I should’ve warned you at least.”
“It’s just how we are, Tae, everything happening at lightning speed. Like— a baby bird that gets pushed out of the nest by its mother, and has to learn how to fly in a matter of seconds. Because this was exactly how it felt, falling in love with you.”
He doesn’t know yet how to maneuver loops or spins, but now that Taehyung is here with him, they can figure it out. They can learn how to fly, together.