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strawberry boy

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The boy sits on the bridge.

Taehyung observes. (He doesn’t feel like a creep, although he really should.)

His hair is pink, fading a little to the bleach at the tips and the black roots near his scalp. He’s wearing a grey hoodie, far too big for him, the hood pooling at his neck, the hem scalloping around his waist, the arms bathing his hands in soft cotton.

And he’s holding a cardboard box. There’s a stick in his mouth.

(Taehyung raises his camera. He’s a big fan of asking permission after he’s got the perfect shot - he’ll tell his blog readers his theory of moments if they ever ask.)

At first, he thinks the boy has a cigarrette, but there’s the absence of curlicuing smoke in the air, and then Taehyung realises -

The boy bends his head to the notebook balanced on his knees, and fishes a new pocky stick out of the box in his slender hand, letting it dangle between his lips like a careless smoke break would do. He smiles around the chocolate, and Taehyung snaps.

(He never gets to ask the boy on the bridge whether he can take his photo, or what his name is, or if he’d like to go out to drink. The sun sets and the boy slips away while Taehyung is switching lenses, and he kicks himself about it for a week, and Jimin gets so fed up with his whining that he picks up extra assignments from his theoretics professor.)

(Anyway.)



Taehyung is obsessive.

He picks a moment - a person -

A girl on the train, her hair too long, her eyes bright as they stare out the window, and the moment where she crosses and recrosses her legs, biting her bottom lip.

A boy in a rainstorm, as Taehyung is looking out the bus window, and the boy has no coat, no jacket, just a t-shirt and a smile as he dawdles along the street, getting totally soaked.

A boy on a bridge, eating pocky and kicking his feet against the stone walls and writing scratch-scrawl into the notebook balanced on his knees.

Taehyung picks a moment - a person -

And talks about them for a week. Takes pictures of them, then asks for their name, and the magic is gone - the girl is called Jiwoo and she’s a psychology major and she’d got pins-and-needles sitting in the same place for so long. The boy is called Seungchul and he works at a cafe down the street and he’d been working on autopilot to his flat because he’d just had a ten-hour shift.

The magic goes, and Taehyung is briefly depressed, bereft of a beautiful mystery, until the next moment comes along.

Taehyung is obsessive, and soft pink hair, and grey hoodies, and notebooks on bridges, and Jimin rolling his eyes and telling Taehyung to shut up and get dating, or something.

Taehyung hums a non-committal non-agreement. Satisfied, Jimin shuts up.



At five in the morning, Taehyung grocery shops.

(Composition starts at seven, and he needs to stock up on pot noodles and a sense of purpose.)

So, anyway. Taehyung. Shop. Five in the morning, and he’s turning his cart into the snacks aisle, and there he is.

The boy on the bridge, except that he’s not on the bridge anymore, he’s sitting cross-legged in front of the shelves, playing absently with the sleeves of a giant cream sweater, staring at the food in front of him. His jeans are holey; a sliver of skin is revealed up his mid-thigh, and there’s nothing fashionably distressed about how torn the knees are, rough and ruined.

At five in the morning, Taehyung smiles. He doesn’t have his camera with him - it’s in the flat, back with Jimin - but he wishes he did.

The boy on the bridge reaches out, snaffling a box from the bottom shelf, and stands. Taehyung can hear his knees cracking.

(His hair is a little longer. A week’s worth of growth.)

And they both head for the self-checkout.

Do it, Kim Taehyung. Do it. Do it. Do it.

“Hi? I’m a - I’m majoring in fine arts - yeah, uh, photography. Um, this is my number? Can you - I mean, I’m a bit weird, but you just looked so - uh, composition, the shelf and the - awh, fuck.”

The boy on the bridge smiles, closed-lip, eyes crinkling. He’s buying laundry detergent, a pack of a hundred ballpoint pens, and a little cardboard box of strawberry pocky. “Um. Thank you?”

Kim Taehyung - ca ll mE !! ^^ written awkwardly on the back of his grocery receipt; the boy takes it, folds it twice, and puts it in his pocket. “That’s me,” Taehyung says unnecessarily. “I’m Taehyung.”

“O-oh. I’m Yoongi.”

“You’ll text, right?”

Yoongi puts the detergent and the pens in his backpack -

A little black one with paws and red cheeks and cartoon eyes and, oh god, he’s got a Kumamon backpack, little paws on the front pocket and ears for zips and oh god it’s so cute -

“I’ll text,” he says quietly.

Taehyung picks up the pocky. “You forgot to put that in.”

“Nah. I wanna eat it on the walk.”

“You walk home?”

“Yeah, I live -” Yoongi gestures vaguely, the sleeves of his sweater falling down over his knuckles, “Over past campus. Like, that way a little.”

“Oh! So do I!” A lie - “I’ll walk you!”

By the end of the walk, Taehyung is calling him hyung, and he’s got to hear Yoongi’s laugh and see his smile.

The real one. Gummy smile, lips spread, eyes crinkling at the corners like they’ve been pinched, and the real smile looks like a delicately folded paper crane or something. The origami Taehyung’s seen people do in their spare time. Yoongi looks delicate, like a paper bird, like one gust of wind might blow him away.

And, for once, knowing the truth behind the moment - behind origami and hoodies, into Kumamon bags and laundry detergent, this time, doesn’t make the moment seem less special.



Yoongi texts with alternating eloquence and shyness, like he isn’t sure whether Taehyung really wants to be talking to him. He’ll be talking - texting - with confidence about how the Peer Gynt Suite really is a masterpiece of romantic work, and in the next breath - text - he’ll be apologising for keeping Taehyung up so long.

He’s a moment. If moments were people, Yoongi would be a -

Taehyung spends hours on the two shots he has of him. The silhouette on the bridge, the stick of pocky pursed between pale lips, the notebook over his knees, the fluff of pink hair.

The one a week later. Groceries, hand stretched out, hoodie too big, hair curling at the nape of his neck, detergent and ballpoint pens and a Kumamon backpack. Taehyung’s final project has no focus, yet - he wants to do people, but his professor told him he needed a more focused focus than that.

He tells Yoongi this. Yoongi texts back a little ^.^ i’m sure youll find your focus taehyungah!

And Taehyung coos at his phone, and thinks he might have already.



“Taehyung-ah?”

“Yoongi!”

Taehyung, camera in hand - a Canon, the 60D II, the cheapest semi-pro he could find - has been sitting cross-legged on the grass of the park, taking pictures of the bouncy golden labrador. Yoongi stands beside him now, feet crossed over one another awkwardly, in a different pair of jeans (just as holey as the last), the sort that flare to the bottom. They’re too big for him; Yoongi’s rolled them up three times at the ankle. He’s wearing a flannel over a black t-shirt, knotted loosely at the front, a little duck-tail of spare fabric poking out the back. “Hi?”

“Hi,” Taehyung smiles warmly, patting the ground beside him. “You wanna sit?”

“I - yeah. Yeah, thanks.”

“No problem.” Taehyung sets his camera down beside him, nestling it on top of it’s strap, and turns his attention to Yoongi.

Okay. So. Yoongi’s had a haircut, because in the week and a half since the grocery shop, the curls at the nape of his neck have vanished and the darkness at his roots has vanished, redone with pale pink. There’s a scab on his bottom lip where he’s bitten it, and his slender fingers are feeling around inside his Kumamon backpack, his soft eyes searching inside it. “Mm. Do you mind if I eat lunch here?”

“Not at all. I’m gonna eat mine too.”

Yoongi smiles happily. “‘S like in those films. How come we never plan to meet, Taehyung-ah?”

“It’s better if we don’t plan, though. Makes seeing you-” Taehyung bites back on his theory of moments, about how seeing Yoongi is like seeing a brief flash of fate every few days. “Makes seeing you funnier.”

“I think I know what you mean. Uh…” Yoongi pulls out his lunch, which turns out to be a small bottle of chocolate milk, a box of coconut pocky, and a plum wrapped in a tissue. “Uh, did you mean it? When you wanted to take my picture? Or was that a weird can-I-get-your-number that I didn’t pick up on?”

Taehyung’s lunch is a buttered bread roll and chocolate biscuits shaped like animals. “No, that was - well, it was sort of both, really. I am a photography major. Like, fine arts and all that.”

“You can draw, too?”

“Yeah?”

Yoongi smiles, biting into the plum, rich juice running down his chin and pooling in the corner of his lip. “That’s the talent, Taehyung-ah. Can I see what you do sometime?”

“Yeah.” Taehyung bites the head off a chocolate monkey. “What’s your major, hyung?”

“I - music. It’s music.” Yoongi shreds the grass by his knee, then wipes the juice away from his mouth with the back of his hand. It’s only a little successful. His lips look sticky and discoloured.

“Music?”

“I c-compose, a bit, I guess. I - I’m studying, studying to be a - a conductor,” Yoongi mumbles off into himself, into the shoulder of his flannel. A little duck-tail, fluffing out over the top of his jeans. “Of orchestras. I write orchestras. Music.”

“Hyung?”

“Yeah?”

“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

Yoongi pinkens, and giggles. “Sounds like we’re about to give brojobs, or something.”

Taehyung waggles his eyebrows.

Shoving his shoulder, laughing a little louder, Yoongi finishes the plum and slides a stick of coconut pocky into his mouth, and his eyes are glimmering with happiness and in that moment, Taehyung lies flat on his back and aims his camera any way he can - he just wants to catch the moment. The sun shining almost as bright as Yoongi. The duck-tail. The plum juice, the sticky lips, the flush on Yoongi’s cheeks.



Taehyung’s blog doesn’t have many followers. A thousand, maybe a little more, maybe a little less. He’d like to write stories to go with the moments he posts, the bird in the middle of the street, the spires of the cathedral in the distance, but he doesn’t think he has the words inside him to describe how the moments feel.

He’s saving Yoongi. Boy on the bridge. Groceries. Grassy lunch. Nobody’s seen those snaps yet.

They’re sitting on Taehyung’s bed.

(Taehyung isn’t sure why.)

It’s two in the morning, and Yoongi is sitting on his bed, and Yoongi’s socks have little ears at the top of them, Ryan-bear socks. His Kumamon backpack is sitting by Taehyung’s bedroom door, the paws askew where he’s knocked them against the wall, and his eyes are droopy and sleepy and oh-so-very awake. Taehyung met him when he was walking home -

(“I thought you said you lived near me, Taehyung-ah?”

“I lied, of course.”)

- and now Yoongi is here, curled up in the space between Taehyung’s shoulder and the wall, looking at Taehyung’s shut laptop. “Can you show me?”

“Show you what?”

“The - your - the photos. Your photos?” Yoongi has strawberry pocky again today, and he offers one to Taehyung, his sleeves slipping over his knuckles.

“You want to see them?”

“If you want to show me.”

Taehyung’s spent money on this blog, not to mention his own blood, sweat, and tears. It’s gonna help him when he graduates, help him get his name out on the map, and it’s minimalist and has its own dot-com and theme and update days and everything. “Of course I wanna show you, hyung.” Taehyung wants to show Yoongi everything. Taehyung wants Yoongi to show him everything. Sticky lips, sleepy eyes, hands curled in the hems of his sleeves.

Yoongi is quiet, drinking in the depth of it. The last picture is one of Jimin, sauce on his cheek, a skewer in his hand, mid-laugh, the whole thing bathed in warm reds and browns - he and Taehyung visit the hole-in-the-wall place once a weekish, and it’s perfect.

The caption is just friend dates and chicken skewers.

“It’s really pretty,” says Yoongi softly.

“So are you.”

Taehyung doesn’t know if he says it loud enough to be heard. His cousin used to tease him back when they were babies that he fell in love too quick, but Taehyung doesn’t think so. He just sees things worthy of love, and he gives it - to puppies and flowers growing through the cracks of the pavement, and small boys who like cartoons and have fruit-pink lips.

Quietly, while Yoongi is scrolling down Taehyung’s laptop, Taehyung reaches for his camera.

Yoongi doesn’t even hear the snap.



They go on their first date a month after that. Taehyung’s final project is only two months away; he’s haunting the cafes and bistros around the canal, trying to find people to focus on, trying to pretend (to himself) that his final project isn’t shaping up to be a portfolio full of pictures of Yoongi.

He sees Yoongi first, sitting on the wall of the canal, kicking his feet against the wall, nibbling through a slim stick of pocky. Yoongi dyed his hair last week, from pink to dusky grey, and he’s bringing out wide-neck sweaters, thick and knit. This one is pale blue. Has a little kitten stitched where a breast pocket would be.

Lifts his camera -

Snap.

“Yoongi?”

“Taehyung-ah.” Yoongi looks up and he’s so lovely, so soft, sleepy and pink and grey and blue. “What were you doing here?”

“I - was photographing you.”

“You followed me?”

Taehyung slides down to sit next to Yoongi, his tanned hand supporting himself right next to Yoongi’s - almost, but not quite, touching. “No. Everywhere I go, you’re already there. I kinda think you’re following me.”

“No I’m not,” Yoongi pouts at the accusation, the cupid’s bow of his top lip darkening in shadow; soft skin that Taehyung longs to touch.

“Must be fate, then.”

“Fate. I could well believe that, Taehyung-ah.”

“Hyung?”

“Yeah?”

Taehyung makes eye contact with dark, glimmering eyes, curled lashes, a cute freckle where eye melts into cheek melts into nose. He lifts his hand, moving just a half inch, and deliberately curls his fingers around Yoongi’s. “I think we should stop trying to annoy fate, then, and just do what she wants us to do.”

“You mean-” Yoongi blushes dark as Taehyung’s ever seen it, dark as strawberries, roses blooming on his cheeks. “You want to d-date?”

“Only if you want to date, of course.” Taehyung grins at him, his heart in his throat - Yoongi is so cute that it hurts - “And I want to keep taking your photograph. And talking to you about how pretty you are.”

Yoongi turns his hand around, sliding his fingers to tangle with Taehyung’s. “Yeah,” he whispers, so softly Taehyung has to strain to hear him. “Yeah. Of course I want to.”

They just sit there and talk and hold hands until it starts to rain, and it’s the best first date Taehyung’s ever been on.



And this is the first time they kiss, two days after their first date, curled up together on Taehyung’s bed. Yoongi brought pocky sticks and a little punnet of raspberries, and they entertain themselves by balancing the raspberries on the end of the pocky and nibbling them off. Yoongi’s mouth is stained red.

“Yoongi?”

“Taehyung-ah,” Yoongi says his name like a weight on his tongue.

He’s so pretty.

“C’n I kiss you?”

Yoongi tastes like raspberries and chocolate, and when he kisses Taehyung back his lips slide delicate and cute and he allows Taehyung to grasp his sweater, stroke his cheek, and Yoongi is pretty. Everything Taehyung could ask for.

He takes a picture of Yoongi afterwards, swollen and sleepy, lips bright red both from the fruit and from Taehyung’s own ministrations.

“How’s that final project shaping up?” Yoongi mumbles into Taehyung’s chest.

Taehyung smiles against the crown of his head. Kisses there, light and soft. “Shaping up good, hyung.”   



Yoongi composes music.

“I want to be a conductor,” he says, voice hoarse, lying with his head in Taehyung’s lap - they’re in the composition room Yoongi’s commandeered for his time in college, a little box of a room full of instruments, computers, and beanbags, all second-hand castoffs. “I want to conduct the music I write. Wanna write music for films and concerts and - and I want to be a conductor.”

“You’ll do it, hyung,” Taehyung murmurs. He rubs his thumb down the curve of Yoongi’s ear, tangling his hand in grey hair, smiling unseen at the crown of his head. “I know you will.”

“I might.”

“You will.”

“You haven’t even heard what I can do,” Yoongi nuzzles his head into Taehyung’s hand, so like a kitten that it makes Taehyung smile.

“Why don’t you show me?”

“You want me to?”

“Always, darling.”

Pet names make Yoongi smile in delight; he sits up lazily, looking happy and soft and tired, and clicks the mouse on the desktop a few times. “I’ll show you this - this is what I just finished. Do you want to hear?”

“Yeah.” Hand on Yoongi’s waist, Taehyung leans forward to drop an open-mouth kiss on the back of his neck. “Yeah. Always.”

“Tickles - that tickles, Tae-” Yoongi squirms around a bit, trying to click into some app or other, but eventually melts back into Taehyung’s embrace. “It’ll play in a couple seconds. It’s not long or anything.”

“I’m sure it’s gonna be…”

With a small trill, music fills the air.

Taehyung wouldn’t describe himself as someone who’s good at music. He listens to the odd sonata, the relaxing piano compilations, the classics - Vivaldi and Dvorak and all that - but he’s not good at this sort of music. It’s not his favourite genre. But Yoongi -

Eyes big and wide, looking up at Taehyung, fingers playing with Taehyung’s hands, searching wordlessly for approval or criticism, for some reaction to -

“Jesus, baby.”

“You liked it?”

Taehyung takes a photo of the happiness sparkling out of Yoongi’s open mouth, his flushing cheeks, his eyes bright and happy. “I loved it. Can I listen to some more?”



(They have sex and Yoongi wears Taehyung’s jacket afterwards, asleep in his blankets, fists curled close to his cheeks, and Taehyung doesn’t use those pictures for his project, but he treasures them close. His folder full of Yoongi is growing, along with the place in his heart for him.)



He gets an A.

Of course he gets an A.

Yoongi gets so embarrassed walking around Taehyung’s exhibition that his whole body seems to be pink, especially the pictures of him smiling and of him fresh-kissed and beaming and of him reading, at ease. Namjoon and Seokjin, Yoongi’s best friends, coo over the photos and ruffle his mop of mint-green; Jimin, Jeongguk, and Hoseok all tease Taehyung mercilessly for them.

“I got an A, hyung,” says Taehyung, when everybody has left and they’re sitting in a corner of the room, holding hands, so entangled that they might as well be one being.

“I knew you would.”

“Y’know why I did?”

“Mm?”

“‘S cause I fell in love,” and Taehyung is smiling, and Yoongi is smiling, and it’s all okay. It’s all good.

“So did I,” whispers Yoongi.

On the way back to Yoongi’s flat, they hold hands and share a box of strawberry pocky.