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It all starts with a coat of clear nail polish.

 

They're all sitting in the dance studio, finally on their break after having just finished up an intense dance practice. All that can be heard is their labored breathing, sound bouncing off the walls and ricocheting around the nearly empty room.

Taehyung is sitting with his back against one of the walls, head tipped back and heaving for air. His heart is pounding so hard it feels like it’s going to burst through his chest, fall to the floor and flop around helplessly. A bit lightheaded, he takes the bottle of water Jeongguk hands to him, right after he has downed half the bottle himself.

He gulps down the rest of the water, handing it back to Jeongguk who groans, "You can’t just drink all of it!"

"You offered," he shrugs, wincing a bit when Jeongguk hits the top of his head with the bottle. "That hurt!"

"Yeah, well, bring your own bottle next time."

"Agreed – you really have to start bringing your own water to practice, Taetae," Jimin adds from his place next to Jeongguk.

Taehyung just grunts in response.

Silence falls over the room, their heavy breathing and heartbeats calming down as they’re resting. Taehyung finds his gaze flickering over to the other side of the room where Yoongi, Hoseok, Namjoon and Seokjin are sitting. Yoongi is sitting with his knees pulled up to his chest, arms around his knees and chin resting on them. It seems like he’s trying to catch some shut-eye. The sight makes the corner of Taehyung’s mouth twitch into a little smile. He looks so soft.

Suddenly, his heart isn’t so calm anymore, pace picking up to where it was when they finished dancing. He swallows.

Hoseok’s whining cuts through the silence, his head resting on Yoongi’s shoulder, "Hyung, how are your nails so nice?"

Everyone’s eyes fall on the pair in the corner.

Yoongi’s eyelids flutter open, cat-like eyes squinting at Hoseok, clearly not happy with being woken up, "What?"

"Seriously – how? They’re like a girl’s nails!" 

Yoongi just shrugs, making Hoseok's head slump to the floor with a thump in the process. They all laugh while Hoseok rubs his head.

Jimin walks over to Yoongi on his knees and takes one of his hands in his, holding it up close to his face to examine it. Yoongi yanks it away and sits on both of his hands, hiding them under his thighs. He’s staring intently at the floor and Taehyung thinks he can see the faint pink of a blush on the tips of his ears.

"No one has nails like that naturally," Jimin says, "It's nail polish." He makes his way back to Jeongguk and Taehyung. The way he’s walking on his knees looks ridiculous and Taehyung huffs out a laugh, but everyone else is otherwise occupied, focused on Yoongi.

A few snickers, targeted at Yoongi, spread among the others and Taehyung frowns. Yoongi is still staring at the floor, blush having spread down to his neck. Usually, he would’ve quipped back, but he’s eerily quiet and it makes Taehyung’s stomach drop. He’s suddenly struck by how… small he looks. Petite frame swallowed up by big, black clothes. Taehyung gets this urge to wrap him up in a blanket and serve him endless cups of green tea. Protect him from all evil.

"I'd never think Yoongi hyung of all people would wear nail polish," Jeongguk says, "That seems more like something Jimin hyung would do."

Jimin has already plopped down next to him again and hits his shoulder repeatedly, "Hey! Don’t talk about your elders like that!" 

Everyone laughs and Yoongi’s nail polish is forgotten.

 

A few hours later when they meet for dinner after resting, Taehyung sees that Yoongi's nails aren't as glossy as earlier. Long, bony fingers with bare nails handling the chopsticks.

 

***

 

Taehyung is laying on his bed with his laptop sitting on his pillow. It’s late and he should be sleeping, but practice had run long and no matter how tired he may be, he always needs a few hours to himself to do whatever he wants to do. Play some games, watch an episode of anime or just fuck around on the Internet, like he’s currently doing.

He has checked all his social media at least twice, but it’s one of those nights where he knows he should be going to bed, knows how drained he’ll be in the morning, but he doesn’t want to acknowledge that the day is coming to an end – that tomorrow is creeping up on him.

He has fallen down a wormhole on YouTube. One moment, he was watching videos of dogs being reunited with their owners after years apart, and now he’s watching some weird conspiracy video on how Denver International Airport in the U.S. is actually the headquarters for the Illuminati. Usually, he wouldn’t believe that stuff, but it’s dark and Namjoon is already fast asleep in his bed across the room.

One of those click-away ads pop up on the bottom of the video. A small bar showcasing some makeup web store.

He doesn’t know why the fuck him of all people are getting this exact ad. Even though he wears makeup for appearances, he has little interest in it himself, usually just zoning out whenever Jimin tells him about some new BB cream or some other dumb thing Taehyung doesn’t care about. Skin care, however, is something he values, so he assumes the ad pops up as a result of him watching probably too many skin care routines by beauty gurus.

He’s about to cross it out when a couple of nail polishes in the bottom right corner catches his eye. He clicks on the ad. It’s probably the first time he has actually clicked on a YouTube ad, because who even does that? The website that loads on his screen is very cutesy – all pastel colors and animal emojis that look like they come straight out of SNOW. Beautiful girls with big eyes showing off products like fake eyelashes and liquid lipsticks.

That’s not what he’s after, though. He locates the nail polish tab and quickly scans the options. There are so many. He had no idea that there were so many types of nail polish. Powdered nail polish? What the fuck even is that? Eventually, he finds just straight up normal nail polish. Still – there are too many brands and colors to pick from. He doesn’t really know what Yoongi would like, so he adds two multipacks to his cart. One of the packs has five pastel colors. The packaging is very cutesy – pink hearts and flowers, while the other packet consists of five darker colors, the packaging more sleek and elegant.

He adds priority shipping and checks out.

 

When the package comes in the mail a couple of days days later, he puts the nail polish in a black, discreet gift bag with tissue paper on top, before sneaking into Yoongi and Seokjin’s room and putting it under Yoongi’s pillow. He fights down the urge to lie down in his bed and smell his pillow, only casting a longing glance at his white sheets as he exits the room without a sound. Even though sneaking into his room is pretty creepy, he’s not that creepy. Probably.

 

***

 

"Where is Yoongi?" Taehyung asks.

Namjoon shrugs, "Probably in his studio or something."

All of them, apart from Yoongi, are watching The Handmaiden, which is one of Namjoon’s favorite films. Namjoon has made them watch The Vengeance Trilogy about three times and by now, they’ve almost worked their way through the entirety of Park Chan-wook’s filmography, but Namjoon hasn’t forced them to see this particular one yet. Taehyung doesn’t mind though, he appreciates good film. Cinematography in particular.

And this film is gorgeous. It’s almost overwhelming in the beginning – every shot leaving him kind of breathless with its pure beauty. It’s something he could only ever dream of catching in a photograph.

They’re only about halfway in, but it’s a long one, so Taehyung can see some of the others being more captured by their phone screens rather than the TV screen.

Namjoon slaps Jimin’s thigh, making him squeak in shock. Everyone laughs and Namjoon sends each and every one of them a death glare. Taehyung is slightly offended, seeing as he actually was paying attention. "You guys have to pay attention! Everything is very important."

"I don’t know, I think it’s kind of weird to be watching this with everyone," Jeongguk says from where he’s sitting in the corner of the sofa, not even looking up from his phone.

"But that’s the whole point! You’re supposed to feel uncomfortable."

Jeongguk sighs and rolls his eyes, "Watching sex scenes with you is like watching sex scenes with my parents, it’s weird."

"First of all," Namjoon starts, "I’m only three years older than you." Jeongguk waves his hand dismissively at that. "Second of all," he presses on, "It’s an important film. The whole point is to deconstruct the straight male gaze and –"

"Yeah, well, don’t force me to see it. I’m not the one who downloads porn to our computer."

There’s a few snickers at that and Hoseok whispers, "Exposed." The movie is abandoned by everyone at this point to watch the exchange between the two.

Namjoon opens his mouth, about to retaliate when the lights flicker on – turning the dark blue tinted room bright and warm.

Taehyung’s eyes find the doorway, where Yoongi is standing with his hand on the lightswitch. His hand falls down along his side.

"Do you think this is funny?" Yoongi says, posture straight and staring right at them, but he’s not keeping eye contact with anyone. It seems like he’s staring at the wall right above their heads.

Taehyung’s gaze flickers down to Yoongi’s hands – one of which is wound into a tight fist, knuckles white against the slightly tan skin of his hand. The other one is clutching a gift bag. Taehyung stops breathing.

Namjoon looks at the others for an explanation, confusion in his eyes, but eventually picks up the remote and pauses the film, "What’s up?"

"Who did this?" he lifts the bag, warm yellow glow from the ceiling lamp reflecting off it.

"What are you talking about?"

"This," he says, shaking the bag. His voice is calm, but there’s a slight quiver to it, and Taehyung feels his chest tighten, constricting. Making it hard to breathe.

The others look at each other. Taehyung keeps his eyes on the floor. 

"We don't know what you're talking about," Namjoon says.

Yoongi walks into the living room and empties the contents of the bag on the coffee table, nail polish clattering against the wood. He tosses the gift bag on the table as well.

No one says anything. Taehyung thinks he can hear Jungkook gulping next to him, but it may be himself.

Yoongi walks out of the room, leaving them and the nail polish behind.

 

Taehyung is standing outside Yoongi’s studio, gift bag with nail polishes in hand. After Yoongi left, no one had been in the mood to finish the film. The mood had turned tense and awkward, everyone eventually left to do whatever, to escape. Taehyung stayed behind and carefully placed the nail polish back in the bag, making sure the packaging hadn’t been damaged in the fall.

Most of the others have gone to bed, apart from Jimin and Hoseok, who are practicing in the dance studio.

He can't hear anything coming from the soundproof room, but he knows Yoongi is in there. He usually is.

He knocks and waits for a few moments, shoulders tense. Trying to ease himself, he rolls his neck. It doesn’t help.

Yoongi opens the door, puffy eyes widening when he sees him, "Hey."

"Hey," Taehyung whispers, "Care for some company?"

Yoongi just pushes the door open wider and Taehyung slips inside.

Taehyung looks around the room, taking it in for the some-hundredth time, not knowing where to look, "You okay?"

Yoongi shrugs, but wipes the sleeve of his hoodie over his eyes in a swift motion. Then, his eyes flicker down to the bag in Taehyung's hand and his breath hitches.

"It was me."

Yoongi nods slowly, "Why." Yoongi looks at him and suddenly he’s aware of everything. Of his breathing – he has to concentrate on breathing in and out, the usual reflex disappears under Yoongi’s scrutinizing gaze. He doesn’t know what to do with his hands and fuck, where does he usually keep his tongue? At the roof or bottom of his mouth? If he becomes any more self-conscious, he’s going to have to force his heart to beat.

"I didn't do it to mock you, and I'm so sorry I made you believe that was my intention." He’s talking fast, stumbling over his own words. It feels like he’s trying to talk while chewing one of those one meter long rolls of gum he used to get at the convenience store as a kid.

Yoongi's eyes are empty. "Why," he presses.

"I wanted to make you happy," he says. "It made me very sad that you took –" he pauses for a second, "it off after the guys teased you the other day."

Yoongi scoffs, turning his head to the side, "They had every right to."

"No, they didn't!" His voice comes out louder than intended and he can see how Yoongi flinches. He clears his throat, lowering his volume, "No, they didn’t. Friends don't make friends feel bad for enjoying stuff."

Yoongi is looking down at the floor, bangs covering his eyes. He’s rubbing his hands together.

Taehyung takes a deep breath before saying, "If this makes you happy, I think you should do it." He tries to catch Yoongi’s gaze, but fails, seeing as the older man is more occupied with studying his hands, "Does it make you happy?"

"Y-yeah."

"Okay," Taehyung breathes, "Wanna check out the colors together?" he reaches the bag out to Yoongi.

Yoongi reaches out to grab it, but his hand stops in mid-air, fingers twitching with anticipation. Taehyung gives him an encouraging smile and a nod. He gives a tight smile back, takes the bag, walks over to the small seating area and puts the bag on the table, taking each individual nail polish out of its packaging, lining them up neatly.

Taehyung joins Yoongi on the sofa, sitting down next to him. Yoongi is sitting with his hands in his lap. He hasn’t noticed before, but Yoongi’s nails are meticulously groomed – filed into tiny, perfect ovals that barely reach beyond his nail bed. His cuticles are pushed down as well, leaving a good amount of nail to paint.

Taehyung picks up a dark red one and inspects the label, "Vampire," he reads. "Kind of a lame name, but I like the color."

Yoongi lets out a small puff of laughter and picks up a dark blue polish, eyeing it. He puts it down and picks up the black polish. He keeps picking up the darker shades, but Taehyung can see him eyeing the pastel ones out of the corner of his eye.

Taehyung picks up the mint green one, inspecting it. It’s called Mermaid Seafoam. All of the polishes have weird names. He doesn’t really get why they can’t be just called straight up Pastel Green instead of Mermaid Seafoam or Red instead of Blood Orange. Just call a spade a spade.

"I think this would look good on you," he says, voice considering. He takes Yoongi's hand in his, holding the polish next to his hand. "Yeah!" he nods,  "Wanna try it on?"

Yoongi takes the polish and looks at it, turning it over in his hand to read the label.

"It's very pretty. It'll look good on you."

He can see the faintest smile playing at the corner of Yoongi's mouth.

"I think so too," he says, meeting Taehyung's eyes before putting the polish down on the table again.

"Aren’t you going to put it on?"

Yoongi shakes his head, "Not in here. The ventilation is horrible."

"Oh, okay." He has to fight back a frown.

 

A few hours later when Taehyung is laying in bed, about to drift off, his phone vibrates on the mattress next to him. He has this bad habit of falling asleep with his phone in bed, but he can’t seem to put it on his nightstand. It has turned into an extended limb of sorts, seldom leaving his person.

He fumbles around in the dark for his phone. Finally grabbing it, he squints at the bright screen, warm smile spreading across his face when he sees who it is.

 

***

The smell of mackerel and seaweed soup oozes from the kitchen, making Taehyung’s mouth water as he exits his and Namjoon’s room. On the weekends, if they have time, Seokjin wakes up extra early to cook a proper breakfast for everyone. It has grown into a tradition over the years and everyone appreciates it immensely. It’s very nice to have a hearty meal in the morning instead of a bowl of cereal or slightly burnt toast with jam.

Taehyung rubs sleep from his eyes as he pads into the living room, approaching the sofa where everyone else apart from Seokjin is seated.

"Good morning, Taetae!" Jimin beams. He’s kind of like the sun from the Teletubbies.

"Morning," Taehyung mumbles, still a bit sleepy, plopping down next to him.

The others greets him as well, no one as energetic as Jimin.

"Is there any coffee left?" he asks, leaning his head on Jimin’s shoulder.

"No, I’m sorry." Jimin ruffles his hair, "I just had the last cup."

Taehyung whines, "What kind of best friend are you?"

Jimin just sticks his tongue out at him.

That’s what he gets for being the last person to get out of bed. Their coffee maker doesn’t make enough coffee for all of them, so unless someone makes a fresh pot after the first one is emptied, it’s first come first serve. Those who rise late have to resort to the shitty instant coffee – those powdered ones that come in bags and resembles muddied water after you’ve poured the water in. Just thinking about it makes Taehyung’s tastebuds prickle.  

"Can someone help me set the table, please?" Seokjin yells from the kitchen. Namjoon immediately stands up and flees to help him out. The clatter of bowls and dishes from the kitchen ensues. Glasses clinking against each other, followed by laughter.

His gaze flickers over to Yoongi, who’s deep in conversation with Hoseok about the upcoming album. Yoongi catches him looking and gives him a brief smile, merely a quirk of the corner of his mouth, but it still makes warmth spreads throughout Taehyung’s chest and suddenly having his usual morning coffee doesn’t seem that dire anymore.

"Breakfast is served!" Seokjin calls and everyone rushes to sit down at the dining table where Seokjin and Namjoon are already seated.

Everyone starts helping themselves, chatter spreading throughout the room as they pass bowls and dishes among each other.

"Tae, could you pass me the kimchi, please?" Yoongi asks from across the table.

Taehyung nods, picking up the bowl and passing it to Yoongi. Their fingertips brush in the exchange, sending a shiver up Taehyung’s arm, the hairs there standing up straight in alert. He looks down at Yoongi’s hands holding the bowl. Veiny hands with long, bony fingers and… Naked fingernails. Yoongi snatches the bowl away from Taehyung swiftly, avoiding his eyes as he helps himself to the dish.

No one pays attention to the exchange, busy with eating and chatting among themselves.

He gets a sinking feeling in his stomach. Like a rock that has been left out in the freezing cold has been placed there, weighing him down. Why had Yoongi removed the nail polish? He seemed so happy about it mere days ago. What if he had felt like he had to accept Taehyung’s gift? That’s literally the last thing Taehyung wants.

He looks at Yoongi, who’s quieter than usual, but no one seems to notice.


Not wanting to put Yoongi on the spot in front of the others, he waits to text him until they’ve all gone their separate ways. He considers confronting him in person, but he doesn’t want to seem like he’s being aggressive or attacking Yoongi in any way. Texting seems like a more delicate approach. All of them have developed this bad habit of texting each other when they’re in the same apartment, or even in the same room anyway, so it’s not that weird.

 


 

A little while after dinner, Taehyung knocks on the door to Yoongi and Seokjin’s room.

"Come in!"

Taehyung opens the door slowly, uttering a small "excuse me" as the room comes into view.

Yoongi is sitting cross-legged on his bed, nail polishes carefully laid out in front of him on the mattress. There are other tools as well, which Taehyung isn’t familiar with.

He sits down on the edge of the bed slowly, not wanting to topple the nail polish over with his weight. "Okay, so," Taehyung starts, "how do we do this?"

Yoongi shrugs, "Uhm, how about you pick a color and we can start from there?"

He nods in response, scanning the colors. His eyes fall on the one he picked out the other day in the studio, Vampire.

"What about this one?" he points to the crimson polish.

"Good choice." Yoongi picks it up, "It’ll complement your skin tone very well."

It’s an innocent remark. Friendly. Nothing, really, but Taehyung still feels his cheeks burn hot, blood buzzing under his skin, "Th-thanks."

Yoongi puts the nail polish to the side and takes Taehyung’s right hand in his own.

"Sorry, I’m kinda clammy," Taehyung mumbles, rubbing the back of his neck.

"It’s fine." Yoongi picks up a tiny bottle of clear liquid.

"What’s that?"

"Cuticle oil."

Taehyung has no idea what the fuck cuticle oil is, but he doesn’t ask any further questions, just keeps still as Yoongi applies the cool liquid to his cuticles.

It’s strangely intimate, Yoongi holding his hand carefully in his own. His skin is warm against Taehyung’s. Taehyung’s hands are big, but Yoongi’s are quite large as well. His fingers are long, slightly too big knuckles protruding from under his skin. Graceful. Like he has done so many times before, Taehyung wonders what those fingers would feel like around his.

When he’s done with the oil, he picks up a tiny stick, slightly pointed at the end and uses it to push Taehyung’s cuticles down.

He’s suddenly self-conscious, his nails nowhere as neat as Yoongi’s. They’re kind of stubby because he has a bad habit of biting them when he’s nervous. He has tried to stop so many times. Sometimes, he can go about a month without biting, but then he suddenly finds himself with his fingertips in his mouth, chewing away. He doesn’t even realize what has happened until it’s too late.

However, Yoongi doesn’t seem disgusted at all. He just keeps on pushing Taehyung’s cuticles down with the stick, tongue stuck out in concentration, eyes glued to Taehyung’s hands. His eyelashes cast intricate spiderwebs over his cheeks. They’re thick and long and Taehyung realizes he’s wearing mascara. None of them are averse to makeup – they’re always wearing at least some when going out in public, but it’s seldom something they do on their own time, especially mascara. Taehyung wants to count each individual lash with his fingertips, and then kiss them.

The oil has seeped into his skin by now, making it smooth. Yoongi picks up another bottle with clear liquid, rubbing it back and forth between his hands in a circular motion, and Taehyung cocks his head to the side.

"Base coat," Yoongi explains, "to protect your nails."

Yoongi unscrews the cap, wiping away the excess against the head of the bottle. He leans in close to Taehyung’s hand, still held in his own, and slowly brushes the bead of polish out on his nail in a thin layer.

After putting the base coat on every nail, he picks up Vampire, rubbing it back and forth in his hands like he did with the base coat.

He paints Taehyung’s nails precisely. Taehyung’s hands are shaking slightly, making him mess up a few times, painting outside the nail, but he simply removes the mistakes with a Q-tip dipped in something with a strong chemical smell that makes Taehyung feel a bit lightheaded.

When he’s done with the first coat, they have to wait for it to dry until he can apply the last coat. It’s taking way longer than Taehyung expected. Although Yoongi is skilled and works fast, there are so many steps. The few times he had painted his little sister’s nails, he just put it on right away with no preparation of aftercare. Albeit, he has to say that his nails look infinite times better than what his little sister’s did after one of his paint jobs.

While Yoongi works on his nails, he explains everything he’s doing and why he’s doing it. Usually, Taehyung would zone out at something like this, but Yoongi’s raspy voice, talking slightly faster than he usually does with a glint of excitement in his eyes makes the lesson in painting nails much more interesting. He finds himself asking questions when he doesn’t understand something

"Are we done now?" Taehyung asks when Yoongi is finished with the second coat.

"No."

Taehyung whines and Yoongi smirks at him, "This is the last step, I promise." He presents two bottles of clear liquid to him, "You want a glossy or matte top coat?"

Taehyung’s mind wanders to Yoongi’s glossy nails from the other day, how pretty they looked, "Uh, glossy?"

Yoongi nods and uncaps the bottle of glossy top coat, following the same procedure from before.  

"This is way more intricate than I expected," Taehyung huffs out when Yoongi finally caps the top coat bottle. He flops down on the mattress, hands stretched out above him as he studies his freshly painted nails.

"Careful. They’re still drying."

Taehyung hums in response, bringing his hands closer to his face to look at them up close. Though his nails are short, square and are nowhere near of going past his nail beds, the glossy dark red polish still brings a newfound beauty to them. The color pops and draws attention from the fact that his nails aren’t very well-kept.

"I like them a lot," he says, looking at up Yoongi who’s still sitting, "thank you."

Yoongi drops his head, smiling, "You’re welcome."

Their eyes meet and Taehyung’s breath stutters. Yoongi is so beautiful. Slightly sunkissed skin, brown hair falling into his eyes, dark pools so endless they could be galaxies. Galaxies Taehyung wants to explore.

Yoongi clears his throat, "I’m gonna do mine now, so you don’t have to stay."

"What if I want to?" Taehyung frowns. "Stay, I mean."

"Then you can stay."

He observes Yoongi while he paints his own nails. He’s mostly silent, concentrating on the task at hand, but he hums in agreement every now and then at Taehyung’s commentary.

When he’s applying nail polish to his right hand, Taehyung breaks the silence, "Can I try?"

Yoongi stops and looks at him quizzically. He blinks a couple of times, but hands the bottle and applicator to Taehyung anyway, "Sure."

He takes Yoongi’s hand in his and does his best at not flinching when he feels a bolt of electricity going up his arm.

Yoongi chuckles, "That’s way too much."

"Well, how am I supposed to do it, then?"

"Here." Yoongi takes Taehyung’s hand and wipes the excess product off at the head of the bottle, "Like that."

Taehyung swallows thickly and nods. He leans in close and brings Yoongi’s hands up to his face so he can properly see what he’s doing. His hand is trembling a bit, so when he wipes the applicator over Yoongi’s nail bed, the polish goes outside the lines. He lets out an almost inaudible, "Fuck."

Yoongi laughs, "You’re like a jeweler."

"A what?"

"You know, someone who makes jewellery and they have these like, I don’t know, handheld magnifiers and they bring the gems up to their face real close and –" he shakes his head, "Forget it, it’s dumb."

"No, not at all. I know what you mean." He shoots a brief look and a smile at Yoongi before continuing, trying to clean up his mess, but he just ends up messing up even more. The fingertips on Yoongi’s right hand are practically covered in pastel green. It’s easy to tell who did which hand.

Taehyung groans in frustration, "This is hard!"

"Don’t worry about it. I can just clean it up afterwards."

"Yeah? I didn’t fuck up your nails?"

Yoongi laughs, dropping his head and looking at Taehyung through his eyelashes, "No."

They’re both sitting cross-legged on the bed and they’re so close their knees are touching. Everywhere his and Yoongi’s bodies meet – knees, hands, his skin is burning. It’s kind of an awkward angle, their knees and laps in the way, but he could just lean forward and –

The door flies open and Seokjin enters the room, startling them both. He pauses in the doorway and looks between them and the nail polish. Taehyung straightens his posture, leaning away from Yoongi, who visibly tenses. He’s still holding Yoongi’s hand in his, just finishing up the thumb.

"Can you do mine as well?" Seokjin asks, directed at Yoongi, "I assume you’re the pro." He eyes the hand Taehyung is holding and wrinkles his nose at the messy application.

"Yeah, of course," Yoongi says, a bit startled, "Not right now though, I’m kinda tired."

"Cool," Seokjin nods, padding over to his own bed before flopping down on it.

And that’s that.

 

***

 

Whenever Yoongi raps, Taehyung is always taken aback by the sheer force of it.

They’re practicing for the last few concerts of the tour. Even though they’ve practiced and performed all their songs so much that they’re all ingrained into their memory – the dance movements like a reflex, a heartbeat. The lyrics gushing from their mouths like rivers, they still practice before every stage, concert and appearance. There’s little room for error, but they’re only human – sometimes they slip up.

Namjoon, Hoseok and Yoongi are currently on stage, yelling their heart’s content out. It’s fascinating to look at. They always get so into it when performing the Cyphers. Voices loud, jumping around on stage, hyping the others up while they’re rapping. It’s no mystery that the Cyphers always get some of the best reactions during concerts – you can clearly see that the three men on stage are having fun and love what they do.

Taehyung however, is captured by Yoongi. Even when it’s not his verse, Taehyung follows his every move. Every "uh-huh" and "turn up". Every roll of his hips and raising of the microphone in the air.

Yoongi can seem kind of cold – like he doesn’t care, but Taehyung came to understand a long time ago that he cares a lot. He cares so fucking much and it shows in everything he does, you just have to look for it. In how he passes the others water bottles without looking at them, keeping his gaze fixed at something else while shoving the bottle into their hands. In his smile – teeth and gums on display for the world to see.

On stage, this passion becomes so obvious. Taehyung isn’t one hundred percent sure of exactly when his crush on Yoongi had started to develop, but he knows it must have been when he was performing.  

When his verse comes up, Yoongi is on fire. Burning hot like the blue part of a flame, really. Fucking ferocious like a wildfire there was no use in trying to put out because the flames would continue licking up everything in their path for days. Taehyung can see it in almost everything he does, in the way he spits out verses like it’s nobody’s business on stage. In how his hands move along to the words, pastel green nails punching the lyrics into Taehyung’s heart. His hand is a snake, getting ready to snatch its prey.

They nearly scream out the last chorus, the other members, including Taehyung, hollering from the side of the stage.

Taehyung hands Yoongi a water bottle when he gets off a stage, who mumbles a breathless "thanks". There’s a sheen of sweat on his forehead, droplets collecting at his hairline and running down his neck. He uncaps the bottle and downs it in one go. Taehyung’s mouth is dry as he eyes the bob of Yoongi’s adam’s apple, the long expanse of his neck exposed as he tips his head back to get every last drop of water.

Hoseok slaps Taehyung’s shoulder, making him jump and tear his gaze away from Yoongi, "What? We don’t get any?"

No words come out of his mouth, lips merely parting and closing like a fish.

"Taetae is hyung’s biggest fan, after all," Jeongguk pipes up from where he’s leaning against the wall. Taehyung shoots him a dirty look, but he just smirks and wiggles his eyebrows in return.

Everyone snickers and Taehyung wants to be flung into the sun.

His eyes flicker towards Yoongi, who’s looking down at the bottle in his hands, peeling at the label that’s gone soft from condensation.

Seokjin hands the other two a pair of bottles. They gulp down their water as well, while Taehyung stares at the floor, the tips of his ears burning hot.

The others compliment the rap trio, telling them what they liked about the performance and what they should do different. Taehyung only catches small snippets, kind of spaced out. He sneaks a few glances at Yoongi, who’s engaged in conversation with the others, though still scratching at the bottle label with his nails. Taehyung frowns. His nails are going to be ruined if he keeps that up.

Namjoon bumps Taehyung’s shoulder with his, snapping him out of his trance, "You too, huh?" he glances down at Taehyung’s maroon nails before looking him in the eyes.

Taehyung raises an eyebrow at him, "You got a problem with that?"

"Nah, not at all. I think it’s cool. Fuck gender roles and all that."

He nods, "Cool." He shoots a look at Yoongi, who’s now abandoned the water bottle, cleaning the residue of the label away from his nails. Even though he’s looking down, Taehyung can tell that he’s smiling.

 

***

 

Yoongi keeps wearing nail polish, changing the color about once a week. Taehyung’s is gone – Yoongi helped him clean it off when the polish started to chip.

The others pay it no mind, Hoseok and Jimin even complimenting his nails from time to time.

Taehyung's heart hurts a little whenever Yoongi has to remove the polish for an appearance or when the manager narrows his eyes at Yoongi's pastel blue nails during dance practice.

Yoongi, however, seems happy, and that's all that matters.

***

 

 

Taehyung pulls on a pair of joggers over his boxers before padding down the hall to Yoongi and Seokjin’s room.

The door looms in front of him and he feels a bit awkward – like just letting himself in is an invasion of privacy, intruding on Yoongi’s space, even though he has permission. Just allowing someone to let themselves into your most private place, your bedroom, is a declaration of trust, Taehyung thinks. He hopes Yoongi does too.

Instead of just barging in, he gives the door two gentle knocks before carefully sliding the door open.

"Hey," Yoongi says from where he’s situated on his bed, leaning back against the headboard.  The covers are pooled around him, covering up his legs. He’s fiddling with his fingers and Taehyung can see pastel purple nails peeking out from the long sleeves of his hoodie.

Taehyung closes the door behind him, trying to be as quiet as possible. It’s not particularly late and he knows the others will be awake for hours, but this feels strangely intimate. Private. Like no one else should know he’s here, "What's up?"  

Yoongi's breath shudders, "Y-you said I should do what makes me happy, right?" His voice is a bit higher than usual, breaking on the last syllable.

"Yes," Taehyung nods. He’s standing in the middle of the room, not really sure what to do with himself. He still doesn’t know why he’s here.

"No matter what it is?"

"Of course. As long as it doesn't hurt anyone."

Yoongi nods. Taehyung can tell he’s biting the inside of his bottom lip. It’s barely noticeable, but it’s there if you know what to look for. One of Yoongi’s nervous habits.

"What is it, Yoongi?" he asks, voice soft.

Yoongi still has yet to look at him, his gaze glued to his hands which are resting in his lap. He inhales – Taehyung can see his chest expanding, lungs filling with air. With a swift movement, he tears the duvet away from his legs and most of it slides down to the floor, only one of the corners still laying over Yoongi’s foot. He gently kicks the rest of the covers down, leaving his legs fully exposed.

Yoongi is wearing a pair of black thigh highs.

Taehyung’s breath hitches. He tries to feign indifference. That he’s not surprised. That he has seen a lot of adult men wear thigh high stockings, "They're very pretty."

Yoongi crosses his arms over his chest, "You're just saying that."

"No, they –" he pauses, corrects himself, "You look good."

Finally, Yoongi looks at him, his mouth turning into a shaky smile, "Really? You don't think it's weird?"

Taehyung shakes his head. And it’s true. He doesn’t think it’s weird. Uncommon, yes, but certainly not weird. It makes a lot of sense, actually. Yoongi’s long, slender legs wrapped up in a pair of stockings, making them seem even longer. He hadn’t lied before – they are very pretty.

"I want to wear –" he swallows, "other things too."

Taehyung nods, "You should."

"Skirts." It sounds like a challenge. Like Yoongi thinks Taehyung is going to make a disgusted grimace at him and exit the room without another word.

"It'll look cute."

Yoongi stands up, the hoodie falling down over his thighs. He crosses the room in a couple of long strides, opens his arms wide and envelopes Taehyung in a big hug. He looks up at Taehyung, eyes glassy, before snuggling his face into the crook between his neck and shoulder.

Taehyung blinks a couple of times before wrapping his arms around his middle, Yoongi’s small frame fitting in his embrace perfectly.

"Thank you," Yoongi mumbles against his neck, hot breath on his skin making him shiver.  

 

***

 

Yoongi starts wearing thigh highs when he's lounging around the dorm in the mornings and evenings, joggers replaced by thigh highs, oversized hoodie covering up most of his thighs, leaving only a small sliver of skin exposed.

Yoongi seems more at ease, more comfortable. He’s still reserved, still his old self, but there’s a lightness to him now. Laughter a bit more careless, hand not covering up his mouth whenever he laughs.

He’s more affectionate too.  

All of them are gathered in the living room for a movie night. Namjoon had suggested watching Oldboy for the fourth time, but he was quickly downvoted by the others. They ended up with Howl’s Moving Castle, even though they’ve seen it five times already, chosen by Jeongguk and voted on by everyone but Namjoon and Yoongi.

Taehyung is laying on the couch, legs spread, one of them dangling off the cushion to make room for Yoongi who’s settled in between his legs. His head is resting on Taehyung’s chest, radiating warmth. When Yoongi first laid down on top of him, Taehyung’s heart was beating so hard and fast he was certain Yoongi had to feel it. How could he not? But he has grown more comfortable, playing with a strand of Yoongi’s hair absentmindedly while watching the film, stealing a few glances down at him every now and then.   

The smell of buttered popcorn fills the air, due to the three gigantic bowls Seokjin carries into the room and places on the coffee table.

"We don’t need that much popcorn," Jimin says.

"You say that every time, but by the end of the movie you’re always complaining that there wasn’t enough popcorn!" Seokjin scolds him, pointing his finger at him.

"I mean," Hoseok starts, "it is true."

Jimin crosses his arms over his chest and pouts.

Jeongguk shifts around from where he’s sitting on the floor in front of the sofa, craning his neck to see the screen, "Move! You’re blocking the TV!"

Namjoon hushes all of them with his pointer finger to his lips, so Seokjin just swats the top of Jeongguk’s head before plopping down in the armchair in the corner, his usual spot.

Jeongguk sticks his bottom lip out and rubs at his head, but keeps quiet.

Yoongi shifts around so he’s on his side and stretches his neck, mouth close to Taehyung’s ear. Warm breath hits the shell of his ear. Taehyung shudders.

"They’re like a parent and child," Yoongi whispers, his lips brushing against Taehyung’s ear with every word. He’d be turned on if it wasn’t for the giggle bubbling in his chest. It’s not even that funny, but he feels like a twelve-year-old trying to hold in a laugh in class. They try to keep down, but Yoongi’s cheeks are puffed out and he’s crumpling his mouth shut, doing a bad attempt at forcing the laughter down. It’s too funny. Taehyung bursts into a fit of giggles, dragging Yoongi down with him. He snuggles his face into Taehyung’s soft sweater, his small frame shaking against him.

"What’s up with you two?" Namjoon asks, eyes flitting between them, "Are you dating or something?"

Yoongi’s head whips up so fast Taehyung is worried he’s going to get whiplash, "No! What? No. Of course not. No. What makes you think that? No."

"Four no s?" Taehyung asks in spite of the blush he can feel starting to spread down his neck, "Really?"

"You’ve just seemed awfully cuddly and giggly lately."

"And?" Yoongi frowns, "Jimin and Hoseok cuddle all the time."

"Yeah, but you don’t."

No one says anything. The film is still running, but no one’s watching. The flashing images from the screen casts colorfuls lights over them in the dark room.

It’s true. Everyone else is very affectionate with each other. It’s not rare for them to fall asleep in the same bed spooning or cuddling. Hoseok’s bed is practically a free-for-all to anyone who might be having a hard time. Taehyung has cuddled with Hoseok sometimes when everything just got a bit too overwhelming. Yoongi is the only one who always sleeps alone.

"It’s not a big deal," Namjoon finally says. "You cuddle. Whatever."

And that’s that. Everyone returns their attention to the screen once again.

Yoongi stays in the same position for the rest of the movie, but he’s stiff as a board.

 

***

 

Taehyung is laying in bed, being slowly lulled to sleep by the rain crashing against the window. His eyes are open, barely, to watch the raindrops hit the window, creating rivers running down the glass as the city lights from outside play in the streams.

His limbs ache, but it’s that good ache, the one telling him he has worked hard and that he deserves to rest.

A loung ping! Resounds through the dark room and something under his head vibrates against the hard mattress. He’s disoriented from sleep, but shoves his hand under his pillow and digs around for his phone, hoping Namjoon didn’t wake up from the noise.

He squints at the screen, harsh blue light burning his eyes.

 




***

 

"How come you haven't worn a skirt yet?"

Yoongi looks up from his book. They're in his and Seokjin’s room, just hanging out. Yoongi is laying on the bed reading and Taehyung is propped up against the bedframe, scrolling through his social media. It’s a habit they’ve developed over the course of the last few months – hanging out in one of their rooms, doing their individual things, just enjoying each other’s company. They’re mostly silent, only exchanging a few words every now and again. It’s nice.

"You said you wanted to," Taehyung adds when Yoongi only blinks at him.

Yoongi closes the book and puts it down next to him on the mattress. His hand rests on the cover, eyes studying it, "I'm… working up to it."

Taehyung nods.

"I do have a few, though," he says, hesitating for a second. "You wanna see?"

Taking a deep breath, he says, "Yeah."

Yoongi stands up and goes over to his dresser, looking around in the bottom drawer, pulling out articles of clothing and discarding them on the floor behind him. Mostly black fabric. His back is turned to Taehyung, but he can still see him holding up clothes in front of himself, considering them before either throwing them over his shoulder into the pile behind him or folding them neatly and placing them down carefully at his side. It seems like he’s picking out an entire outfit.

Yoongi is making that sucking noise he makes with his mouth when he concentrates and Taehyung has to bite the inside of his cheek to keep himself from laughing.

He closes the drawer and looks at Taehyung over his shoulder, "Could you, uh, turn around?"

"O-oh, yeah," he says, the blush already present on his cheeks growing more intense, "of course." He turns around, facing the wall.

The thought of turning around hadn’t even crossed his mind. They see each other in various states of undress almost every day. Even though Yoongi is the most private one out of all of them, Taehyung has still seen most of his body in the past. A glimpse of a bare back in the changing room before a concert, spine protruding from under light golden skin. A soft stomach, exposed by a shirt riding up during dance practice. A defined chest getting measured for a new stage outfit.

Now, all he can see is a white wall, but he can hear the shuffling of clothing behind him. The tell-tale softness of cotton dragging against skin.

He can hear Yoongi dragging in a deep breath, holding it and then releasing. Slowly. "Okay, you can turn around now." And maybe there’s a minor shake to that low voice, but Taehyung can’t be sure.

He turns around, shuffling around awkwardly seeing as he’s still sitting cross-legged. He’s occupied with repositioning himself for a few moments, but then he looks up and… Oh.

Yoongi is standing in the middle of the room, clad in a cropped white hoodie, hem hanging just above a high waisted skirt which reaches his mid thigh. He’s fiddling with the bottom hem of the skirt, crumpling the maroon fabric in his hand. His favorite thigh highs are also on, feet parted and stance strong, almost like he’s standing at attention, waiting to be dissected by an officer’s judging eyes.

Taehyung’s gaze is far from judging. He takes in all of Yoongi, eyes wandering up and down his small frame. Noticing how the hoodie paired with the skirt makes his legs appear even longer, how the skirt makes his waist seem slimmer and his hips wider.

"You're so pretty," Taehyung says.

Yoongi looks at him with wide eyes, "Really?" he asks, voice in disbelief and it makes Taehyung’s heart break a little because he just assumed Taehyung wouldn’t accept him. Assumed Taehyung wouldn’t support him. That he would be disgusted by something as innocent as a boy in a skirt.

"Yeah, super cute."

He feels so privileged. So blessed to be the first one who Yoongi shares this side of himself with. To be the first one Yoongi lets into this part of his life. It feels like a declaration of trust.

He’s not really thinking. His mind is a blank canvas and he just acts. There’s not a thought in his head when he stands up, strides across the floor to Yoongi and cradles his head in his hands. No thoughts cross his mind when he leans down and presses his lips to Yoongi’s. His mind is empty when he kisses the person he has been aching to kiss for months. Maybe years – he’s not sure.

His autopilot mode comes to a stop when he finally realizes that Yoongi’s lips are not moving against his. They’re closed shut, mouth a thin line against Taehyung’s pliant lips. His hands are not touching Taehyung. They hang limply by his sides.

Taehyung backs away immediately, pulling his hands away from Yoongi so fast as if he was burned.

"Fuck, I'm so so –"

Yoongi interrupts him, "Get out." His voice is cold. Void of the warmth Taehyung has grown accustomed to.

"Hyung…" He wants to reach his hand out to comfort him, but doesn’t want to do any further damage, so his hand stays fixed by his side, fingers twitching.

"Get out!" Yoongi yells and his bottom lip shakes.

Taehyung flinches at the volume, but he abides, walking out of the room with his eyes on the floor.

When the door clicks shut behind him, he knows he has lost something very important.

 

***

 

It’s not hard to tell that Yoongi is avoiding him. He’s only in the same room as him when he has to because of work or social obligations. They’re never alone together. When their choreographer tells Yoongi and Taehyung to pair up to practice a move, Yoongi walks over to Hoseok instead. If Yoongi is alone in the kitchen or living room, he leaves without a word as soon as Taehyung makes an appearance.

It hurts. It hurts so fucking much. Being in the same room as the person you cherish the most and not being able to touch them, to speak to them. It’s like always being in the same room as an open flame. No matter how much you want to touch it, you can’t.

He knows he fucked up. That he stepped over a line Yoongi didn’t want to be crossed and he understands if Yoongi doesn’t want to be his friend anymore. He never expected Yoongi to return his feelings. Never planned on doing anything about them because what good would it do? Nothing. It would only lead to misfortune. And it did.

When he’s laying in bed at night, waiting for oblivion to wrap itself around him and drag him down, he feels this intense ache inside himself. He knows what it is.

A part of him is missing.

And it would be okay. It really would. If that’s what Yoongi wants, Taehyung will respect his wish. If you love someone, let them go and all that jazz. All he ever wanted was for Yoongi to be happy.

The thing is, Yoongi stops wearing nail polish and thigh highs.

Taehyung doesn’t notice at first. Wanting to give Yoongi some space, he stays away for a while. And he had grown so accustomed to the nail polish and stockings that he never really thought twice about it when seeing Yoongi. They had become a part of him.

But one night when he’s playing video games in the living room with Jeongguk and Jimin, Yoongi passes them without even offering them a glance, just floating past as if he was a ghost. Taehyung looks after him when he disappears into the kitchen because he can have this, at least. For now. Looking. He can look, but not touch. His eyes go down Yoongi’s frame. When he reaches his legs, he furrows his brows.

Yoongi is wearing sweatpants. The ratty grey ones he always used to wear before starting with the thigh highs.

Taehyung stands up abruptly and just stares at the doorframe where Yoongi was just seconds ago. His controller lays abandoned on the floor.

"What the fuck, Tae?" Jeongguk asks from where he’s sitting cross-legged on the floor, "Sit down. We’re going to lose to Jimin."

"Nah, just keep standing," Jimin chimes in and Taehyung can hear a slap, but he’s not sure who hit who because he’s not looking at them.

Yoongi reappears in the doorway, a glass of water in his hand. The hand holding the glass is sporting bare nails. Not even a glossy top coat. He halts a bit when spotting Taehyung, but picks up the pace almost immediately and brushes past him.

Taehyung turns to look at him as he walks down the hall to his room. He wants to call his name. Wants to go after him, grab his arm and pull him into a hug.

But he stays where he is, hands hanging useless down by his sides.

Yoongi slams the door to his room shut behind him and Taehyung closes his eyes.

 

***

 

Taehyung is half-sitting, half-laying down in his bed, back propped up against the headboard. He’s snuggled up under the covers, laptop placed on his stomach. There’s an empty tub of ice cream on the nightstand next to him because yeah, he’s a fucking cliché.

The room is dark, only source of light being the flashing images on the screen in front of him. He’s watching the remaining half of The Handmaiden. It intrigued him when they watched it together a few months prior and he has already caught up with all his animes, so why the fuck not, right?

There’s a scene where the two leading women are destroying the erotic books and illustrations belonging to the uncle of one of them. They rip out the pages of his so-called novels , push his displays over and pour ink over the pages. Taehyung is entranced. It’s shot beautifully, the music fits so well and the voice-over makes tears well up in the corners of his eyes.

There’s a knock on the door and his heart flutters. He lets himself be hopeful for a nanosecond before shutting it down completely. Forget it.

He wipes at his eyes with the back of his hand, pauses the movie and yells, "Come in!"

The door opens, and Jimin sticks his head in, "Hey, what’s up?"

Taehyung shrugs, "Just watching a movie."

"Want some company?"

Taehyung nods, "Sure," and puts his laptop down next to him on the mattress.

Jimin points at the empty ice cream tub, "Wanna talk about it?" and Taehyung sighs, sinking down further under the covers. Jimin flops down on the bed next to him and stretches his arm out, "C’mere," he says and Taehyung crawls into the crook of his arm, snuggling in close.

Jimin strokes his hair, "Have you and Yoongi been fighting?"

"Kinda. Can you tell?"

"Oh, honey," Jimin exhales, "It’s like you’re a divorced couple who ended on bad terms, but tries to tolerate each other because of the kids. And doing a bad job at it."

Taehyung groans and shoves his face into Jimin’s shoulder.

"I know, I know, " he coos, "You wanna tell me about it?"

"I fucked up," Taehyung sighs, "I did something I shouldn’t have and broke his trust." He’s keeping it vague because most of the story is Yoongi’s to tell. Jimin doesn’t push it. He’s great like that.

Jimin hums, "You two have been close these past few months, huh?"

"Yeah, but I ruined it."

"Have you tried talking to him?"

"No, I don’t know. I’ve been trying to give him his space. He clearly doesn’t want to talk to me."

"Look, Taetae, I don’t know what happened between you two, but I’m sure you didn’t ruin anything."

"I don’t know, it was pretty bad."

"How bad?"

"Bad like... I may have kissed him out of the blue and he didn’t kiss back? And then he yelled at me to get out?"

"Ah," Jimin hums, squeezing Taehyung’s arm, "Yoongi is a reasonable guy, I’m sure he’ll listen if you confront him."

"Don’t you think it’s best to just give him his space? It seems like that’s what he wants – he’s avoiding me."

"Sometimes," Jimin starts, looking into the room at nothing in particular, "people avoid each other, even though they know they shouldn’t, because talking about what’s really up is uncomfortable."

"When did you become a wise old man?" Taehyung squints up at him, "It seems like just yesterday you were eating cereal straight out of the box at three am."

Jimin tilts his head back and lets out a small laugh, "Honestly, I still do that." He grows stern again, "But stop dodging my point, mister!" He pokes Taehyung in the side between every word, hard.

Taehyung swats his hand away and whines, "What?", stretching the syllable out.

"That you should just get it together and talk to him!"

Taehyung opens his mouth, about to protest, but frankly, the pointed look Jimin gives him scares him and he shuts his mouth fast, teeth clacking together at the impact. A staring contest of sorts ensues, Jimin’s brows furrowed and mouth pressed together into a thin line, while Taehyung just looks at him helplessly, trying to sway him over on his team.

"I guess you’re right, as always," Taehyung eventually sighs, admitting defeat, "I’ll try to talk to him."

"Good." Jimin pats his head.

"You wanna watch the rest of the movie with me?"

"Which one is it?"

"The Handmaiden."

"Is that the weird one Namjoon made us watch that one time?"

"Yeah."

"No to that."

"Age of Youth?"

"Perfect."

Taehyung finds it on Netflix and clicks on play. He places the laptop on their laps, so it’s balancing on one of their thighs each. Jimin continues to stroke his hair, Taehyung’s head resting on his shoulder.

"Hey, Jimin?"

"Yeah?"

"I love you."

"Love you too."

 

***

 

Confronting someone who is avoiding you proves to be a challenge.

Yoongi is doing a damn good job at making sure they’re never alone together. And it’s not like Taehyung is going to confront him in front of everyone else.

At first, he tries to text him, but all of his KKT messages are just met with that godforsaken yellow 1, indicating that they have been received, but not read. Knocking on his bedroom door proves to be of no use either. Damn peepholes.  

So he tries to corner Yoongi. After practice and between meals, but his attempts at approaching Yoongi always ends up with him fleeing before Taehyung can utter a single word. It’s like they’re playing cops and robbers – and Taehyung is losing.

He finally manages to catch him one evening when he’s sitting outside of Yoongi’s studio. He has been there for about an hour, occupying himself with checking the music charts and yeah, he definitely feels creepy.

A faint creaking disrupts the silence and Taehyung’s head whips up from the screen.

Yoongi is walking down the hallway, looking down at his phone, earbuds in. He’s nodding his head along to the music and Taehyung is going to burst because he has missed him so much. Seeing him like this, so in his element, so unaware of the world around him, makes every nerve-ending in Taehyung’s body feel like they’re on fire. And Yoongi is just walking, wrapped up in his own world, not aware of the light from a thousand suns that’s seeping out of him.

Taehyung scrambles to his feet and Yoongi looks up from his phone, right at him. His eyes widen and he grinds to a halt, sneakers squeaking against the linoleum floor. For a few seconds that feel like an eternity, they’re just staring at each other.

Then, Yoongi turns around on his heel and he looks like he’s about to bolt right the fuck out of there.

"Wait," Taehyung says, voice raised, "I know you don’t want to speak to me, but please just let me say this one thing. Okay?"

Yoongi stops and looks back at Taehyung over his shoulder. His eyes flit between Taehyung and the exit a few times.

"Okay," he says, turning back around to face Taehyung properly.

"I'm really sorry for what I did, I really am," Taehyung puts a hand to his heart, but drops it immediately because it feels so fake. What the fuck does he usually do with this hands? "But I wish my actions wouldn’t affect what you wear."

Yoongi furrows his eyebrows and crosses his arms over his chest, "I can wear whatever the fuck I want." The hostility in his voice stings.

"I know, but I thought you wanted to wear skirts and stuff."

"I –" Yoongi starts, "I wore those things for me, you know? Not for anyone else."

"I know."

"Not to satisfy some –" he spits out the final words, "sexual fantasy or kink you have."

Taehyung looks at him, confusion in his eyes.

"I'm not a girl either, just because I like to wear skirts."

"I know that."

"Then why did you kiss me?"

Taehyung blinks at him, "Because I like you?"

"What."

"I've had a crush on you for like half a year."

"What," Yoongi shakes his head in disbelief, "is that why you’ve been encouraging me?"

"No, it's because I want you to be happy."

"Not because boys in skirts turn you on?"

Taehyung shakes his head.

"Or because you’re having some kind of gay panic?"

"What, no? Of course not. I’m bi. I thought you knew that."

Yoongi shakes his head.

"You thought I was straight?" Taehyung points at himself, "Me?"

"Well, yeah."

Taehyung can’t help it. He starts laughing. The kind of laugh where you have to double over to stop the ache in your stomach. Where you can hear how loud and awful your laugh is, but you just can’t stop. And you know it’s not an appropriate situation to laugh at, but somehow that just makes it even funnier.

"What’s so funny?" Yoongi frowns while Taehyung is squeezing his arms around his stomach, laugh reverberating down the empty hall.

"I can’t believe – you thought – ," Taehyung says between hiccups of laughter still making their way through his body in waves, "Me – a straight!" He can’t even get out a coherent sentence at this point.

Taehyung looks at Yoongi and he can’t be sure because there are tears in his eyes, but he thinks he can see a quirk at the corner of Yoongi’s mouth. He opens his mouth like he’s about to say something, but then he bursts, laughter sputtering out like a broken fire hydrant. It’s loud and it squeaks and it’s fucking adorable. God, how Taehyung has missed that laugh.

He’s so relieved. Relieved it was all a misunderstanding. Relieved Yoongi doesn’t hate him. Relieved they can laugh together again.

Their laughter eventually dies down, the only sound left in the empty hall is their strained breathing.

"Okay, now that that’s out of the way," Taehyung says, wiping at his eyes when he finally has some control over his breathing again, "Will you start wearing whatever the hell you want again?"

Yoongi beams at him, "Yeah, definitely."

"Good." Taehyung runs a hand through his hair and lets out a breathless laugh, "We really should start to communicate better."

"Agreed."

"Speaking of communicating better." Taehyung bites the inside of his bottom lip, "I’ve been meaning to ask..."

"Yeah?"

He rubs at the back of his neck, "If you, I don’t know, want to be called by different pronouns or something?"

Yoongi shakes his head, "No, I just want to wear skirts and stuff sometimes."

"Okay."

"But thank you for asking."

Taehyung clears his throat, "Alright, I think that’s enough awkwardness for one night."

Yoongi just nods in response.

"So I’ll just, yeah." He points awkwardly at the door behind Yoongi and walks down the hall, passing Yoongi in the process, "Guess I’ll see you later?"

He doesn’t get a reply, so he just keeps on walking. Even though a huge weight has been lifted off his shoulders, his heart is still just as heavy.

Suddenly, bony fingers are grabbing his wrist and before Taehyung can even comprehend what’s happening, Yoongi pulls him back by his wrist, spinning him around so they’re facing each other.

Taehyung’s eyes are wide, but all he can see is Yoongi’s face, surging up to his.

And then there are a pair of lips against his own.

It’s fast. So fast Taehyung can’t be one hundred percent sure that it even happened. He just stands there, dumbfounded, mouth hanging open as he watches Yoongi stand back. He had been on his tippy-toes so he could reach Taehyung.

Yoongi’s eyes are darting around, searching Taehyung’s face for a reaction, but he can’t do anything. Can’t react or make any facial expression apart from Dumb fish. His brain feels slow, as if it’s treading water. In spite of the tingling on his lips, he still can’t believe it happened. Can’t believe he’s that lucky.

Finally, he’s in control of his body again. "Can you, uh," Taehyung licks his lips, "do that again?"

"Yeah," Yoongi breathes, voice almost inaudible. He takes him by the back of the neck and brings him down.

This time, he knows it’s happening. Because those are Yoongi’s lips against his. And that’s Yoongi’s nose bumping against his, trying to find a good angle. It’s miles per hour and Taehyung’s thoughts are rushing through his head faster than ever before, an endless cluster of please, please, please and Yoongi, Yoongi, Yoongi.

Yoongi’s hands travel down Taehyung’s sides, a faint touch that makes Taehyung shiver. They settle on his hips and pull him in closer. He’s breathing in Yoongi’s scent through his nose – something kinda earthy, yet citrusy. He’s everywhere. Yoongi is in his veins.

Taehyung rests his arms on Yoongi’s shoulders, crossing them behind his neck. He parts Yoongi’s lips with his own and Yoongi makes an appreciative sound in return. It’s only a small hum, and it may be Yoongi’s tongue in his mouth – he’s not sure, but Taehyung’s knees feel like they’re about to buckle. It takes every ounce of willpower in him to do so, but he tilts his head back, stopping the kiss.

He rests his forehead against Yoongi’s and opens his eyes only to find him looking right back at him. They’re just breathing with each other. Yoongi’s thumbs are rubbing circles on his hip bones and it’s so easy, so goddamn easy.

"Why?" Taehyung whispers against his lips.

"Because I like you too, you idiot," Yoongi whispers back and brings him down again.

 

***

 

"Out!" Taehyung yells, shoving jackets into his friends’ arms and kicking their shoes at them, "You said you’d be out by now!"

"Jeez," Jimin sighs, jumping around on one foot as he tries to tie his shoelaces, doing a bad job at keeping his balance, "Calm down – your date isn’t even ready yet."

His date isn’t, but everything else sure is. Netflix is up on the TV, ready for Yoongi to choose a movie. The food is laid out on the table, the styrofoam containers it came in nowhere to be seen, instead replaced by proper dishes and bowls. Taehyung isn’t the best cook, so he decided to just order in some food instead of risking burning down the kitchen. Even though it would’ve been a memorable first date, it wouldn’t be in the way he hoped for. Yoongi had said he could cook for them, but Taehyung had refused, explaining that he should be in charge of the food, seeing as he was the one who asked Yoongi out.

There’s also a bottle of red wine he knows Yoongi likes, already opened and poured into a decanter for maximum taste. He even lit a few candles and placed them in the middle of the table, the warm glow from the flame providing some light in the dark room.

They can’t physically go out as in go outside, so Taehyung is trying his best to make everything as nice as possible. Yoongi has assured him countless of times that it’s fine, but Taehyung really wishes he could take him out to a proper restaurant and a movie at the cinema.

Namjoon shrugs on his jacket before adjusting the lapels, "Cut him some slack. He’s obviously nervous."

"Nah, he just wants Yoongi hyung all to himself." Jeongguk is taking an agonizingly long time in putting on his clothes, casting teasing looks at Taehyung who sticks his tongue out at him in return.

Seokjin is wrapping a scarf around his neck and Taehyung kinda wants to give him a big hug and tell him he loves him because he’s actually almost finished with dressing. That is until he says, "Taehyungie, can I have some noodles before we leave? They smell delicious."

"No!

"Please? I’m hungry…"

"Are you fucking serious? You’re literally going out to eat right now."

"But the restaurant is so far away and then we have to order and wait for our food," he puts the back of his hand against his forehead like a damsel in distress, "I’m going to die of hunger by then!"

"Oh my God, could you be any slower?" he whines.

"Alright, calm down, Chandler from Friends," Namjoon says, "No need to be rude."

Taehyung grabs the beanie Namjoon is about to put on from his hands and pulls it down over his head so it’s covering his eyes.

"Hey!" He pulls the beanie up and is about to give Taehyung a talking-to by the looks of it, when Jeongguk wolf whistles, "Damn."

Taehyung spins around and yeah. Damn indeed.

Yoongi is leaning his shoulder against the doorframe leading to the hall. He’s occupied with pulling up the pink strap of his satin slip dress which has slid down his arm. When he has finished the task he looks up and meets Taehyung’s gaze. He smiles, gums and teeth and everything. Taehyung wants to kiss him. Ever since they kissed for the first time, he’s always wanting to. Always.

"You look very nice!" Jimin says.

"Very pretty," Seokjin agrees.

Yoongi smiles at them, "Thanks."

Hoseok saves the day by saying, "Come on, guys. Let’s leave the lovebirds be."

Thankfully, everyone has finished putting on their outerwear, so Taehyung shoos them out the door while the guys snicker and say things like "Have fun!" and "Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!". Taehyung shuts the door behind them. As they make their way down the hall outside, he can still hear their yelling and he’s pretty sure Hoseok fucking moans – he’s going to kill them all when they get back.

He turns to look at Yoongi again, "Well, that was embarrassing."

"It’s not a real first date unless your family embarrasses you somehow."

"I think that’s like, a first high school date? Like in those American prom movies."

Yoongi smirks at him, "Are you taking me to American prom, Tae?"

"Yeah, we can take embarrassing couple pictures and everything."

"Sounds great," Yoongi says, putting a hand on one of Taehyung’s cheeks and giving him a brief kiss on the other, "I’ll go find a movie, okay?" Yoongi slaps him gently on his chest a couple of times and disappears into the living room.

Taehyung stands in the other end of the hallway, eyes lingering at the spot where Yoongi was standing only seconds his later. The warmth from Yoongi’s lips is still present on his cheek, along with something sticky. He runs a finger over the stickiness before looking at his fingertip. There’s glossy residue there, glistening in the light coming from the ceiling lamp.

He realizes his mouth is hanging open and shuts it abruptly, not really knowing how long it has been like that. He shakes his head, takes a deep breath and walks into the living room.

Yoongi is sitting on the sofa, basking in the blue light from the TV screen and the warm gleam from the candles. He’s glowing – like the moon. The sight leaves Taehyung a bit breathless, loitering in the doorway, just watching Yoongi’s eyes scan the screen for interesting titles.

"Is this one okay?" Yoongi asks, pointing at the TV screen with the remote.

Taehyung looks at the screen while sitting down next to Yoongi on the sofa. "Yeah, sure!" he smiles and Yoongi narrows his eyes at him, but presses play nonetheless.

It’s some thriller movie Taehyung has no interest in. Usually, the two of them could bicker for hours about what to watch. Yoongi always wanted to watch some mindless action or comedy. Watching movies is a form of relaxation for him, something to do to unwind, something he didn’t have to pay too much attention to. Taehyung on the other hand, prefers artsy foreign movies, often Italian or French ones, or animation. He appreciates film as an art form and watching movies with car chase scenes and excessive gun violence makes his head hurt. The few times they actually agreed on a movie (after hours of arguing back and forth), they’d end up with some critically acclaimed American gangster movie. Taehyung is pretty sure he has seen Scarface at least three times.

They’re mostly silent during the first half of the movie, leant over the table to shove food into their mouths. Taehyung tries to be graceful at first, seeing as it is a date, but he abandons that train of thought when he sees Yoongi eating with his usual vigor in his peripheral vision.

Taehyung is having a hard time concentrating on the movie. Between eating and looking at Yoongi, there’s not much room left to pay attention to what’s happening on the screen. He’s sure the plot isn’t very complicated, considering the fact that there has been two car chase scenes already, but he hasn’t even grasped the main character’s name.

When Yoongi has finished his meal, he throws an arm over the back of the sofa. Taehyung doesn’t hesitate in snuggling up in the crook of Yoongi’s arm, resting his head on his shoulder. The bare skin feels soft and warm against his cheek. Yoongi’s hand drifts to Taehyung’s hair and he starts playing with it, eyes still fixed on the screen and Taehyung is going to combust, he wants to kiss him so bad.

His eyes grow more and more occupied with Yoongi rather than the screen, looking at his reactions, his facial expressions. How he mouths along to the lyrics of one of the soundtrack songs, lips barely moving. How his eyes widen and lips twitch at a particularly loud explosion.

He is snapped out of his trance by Yoongi’s low laughter, rumbling in his chest. "Are you even paying attention?" He looks down at Taehyung and smirks at him.

He lifts his cheek off of Yoongi’s shoulder, not wanting him to feel the warmth that’s spreading across his face. "I’m sorry," he mumbles and turns his face to the side.

Then there’s a hand on Taehyung’s cheek, guiding him to look back at his date again. Yoongi is smiling – a warm, close-lipped smile Taehyung wishes he could take and keep in a box for rainy days. A box full of sunshine.

"Don’t be," Yoongi says, eyes dancing with amusement as he swipes his thumb across Taehyung’s bottom lip, making his breath hitch in his throat.

Taehyung doesn’t know who leans in first, but then they’re kissing and all he can think about is how Yoongi’s lips taste like cherries. How soft his hair feels when he runs his fingers through it. He kind of can’t believe he can do this now. That he’s allowed to do this. Feel the silky strands between his fingers. Can’t believe he can brush the tip of his tongue against Yoongi’s and feel him shiver under his touch, hear the small whines of pleasure in his throat. Yoongi’s noises are really something. Taehyung can’t get enough of them. They’re not moans, just small hitches and choked syllables. If he could, he would sample them in a song.

Yoongi gently pushes Taehyung down so he’s laying on his back on the sofa with Yoongi between his legs. He readjusts the bottom of his dress, pulling it down so it’s not hiking up over his ass, giggling into the kiss as he does so. The kiss turns clumsy, teeth clacking together and noses bumping due to Yoongi’s shoulders shaking with laughter.

His head falls to Taehyung’s chest, forehead resting right over his heart, "Ah, fuck – I tried to be so smooth," he huffs, "and then I failed miserably."

"No, not at all," Taehyung assures, stroking his back, but there’s a definite tease to his voice, "You’re the smoothest, truly."

"Shut up." Yoongi punctuates by kissing him under his eye. On the bottom of his nose. Taehyung realizes and giggles as Yoongi kisses the side of his bottom lip, "Are you kissing my moles?"

He can feel Yoongi smiling against his chin, "They’re cute."

Once again, Yoongi rests his head on his chest, listening to the beat of his heart and Taehyung wonders if he can hear the love rushing through his veins as well.

 

***

 

Sometimes Taehyung’s boyfriend wears skirts, sometimes he wears dresses.

It's not all the time. Sometimes he wears ripped jeans, sneakers, hoodies and hats. Sometimes he wears suits, bare fingernails.

At first, Taehyung thinks it's because he has to – because their work, other people and their expectations don’t allow him to wear what he wants, but he quickly comes to understand that it's because he wants to. Sometimes Yoongi wants to wear skirts, sometimes he doesn’t.

There’s a duality to him. The duality between harsh and soft, masculine, feminine and everything in-between and beyond. Yoongi is an enigma and he can’t be contained within the walls of one role.

He does see how Yoongi scrubs his nails with acetone the night before an interview. Sees how managers and coaches frown at the mom jeans and crop tops he wears in private. The guys back him up, giving anyone who gives Yoongi the stink-eye, an even stinkier eye in return, but it still makes Taehyung's heart feel heavy. 

Yoongi assures him that it’s fine – as long as he can dress and act and live how he wants and be comfortable with that, he is happy. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

And so it doesn’t matter to Taehyung either – as long as Yoongi is comfortable and happy, Taehyung is too.

All that matters is Yoongi’s hand wrapped around his own, thumb with a nail painted pastel green rubbing circles into the back of his hand.