Taehyung stretches, arms reaching high above his head, until his back cracks, as he steps out of his dorm into the blank, narrow hallways of one the school's housing blocks, bag hanging daringly off his shoulder. Class starts in and around five minutes, but that doesn't stop his feet stubbornly dragging him at a steady speed of two miles per hour.
One of the (only) beauties of living in the dorm he does is that he just so happens to live the closest to the studio than anyone in any other building in the entire school, and saying that it's the only place he ever needs to go, what, with Seokjin, Yoongi and Jimin already dragging his ass any other place he'd ever need to visit at irregular and often inconvenient times, it's kinda handy that the only thing that stands in his way every morning between him and the art building are late students trying to get to class and the science block.
If he veers left there's the library that he inhabits for a research homework a commendable twice a year, and if he veers right there's a campus diner/café hybrid that he inhabits a worrying twice a day.
But straight ahead is the glorious, rectangular building with four abstract sculptures (a nice way of saying they look like nothing even remotely recognisable to anyone) surrounding the entrance like creatively menacing bouncers and a large mural decorating the exterior wall that every student is allowed to add one thing to when they join, and another when they leave.
Taehyung added a starfish, unsurprisingly to literally everyone else now that they know him.
Taehyung's a fish nerd, as Yoongi puts it. He prefers the term 'Aquatic Creatures Stan' but his friends whole-heartedly disagree.
"It's not stanning, Tae. Stanning is crying over Jinyoung's airport look - not over a new species of Stickleback."
"You should see them, Jimin - they're amazing!"
No doubt, Jimin agreed but Taehyung knows he didn't believe him. He's not sure why everyone has such a problem with his interest in sea creatures, he's just very, very aware that they do.
Which is why it barely comes as a surprise to Taehyung when his teacher looks at his planning sheet for his next project and sighs, agonisingly deeply.
"Taehyung," he says in a tone of exhausted disdain he's pretty sure he's reserved just for him, "I can't let you do another project on Sealife. That'd be... three?"
It's four, but Taehyung doesn't correct him, just letting out an exaggerated "But Professor Kang," in a whine, followed by "I was gonna do it on the fang blenny fish, you know that they've got a painless bite? People think they can use them for new painkillers and-"
It's during these rambles that people often ask Taehyung why he didn't go into biology instead, going onto become a marine biologist in place of a... magazine illustrator or whatever he plans to do with his degree.
In short, there are two reasons: He doesn't like swimming (or water,) and he doesn't like science (particularly not plants or human biology.) And if he can't work with fish, he wants to draw them instead. It's perfectly logical in his mind.
"Do you think Sea World would take me as a part-time fish carer?" He'd once asked Jimin, who immediately erupted into laughter, cackling until he realised Taehyung was serious and he forced himself to be subdued again with a cough, backtracking by saying "Maybe, yeah- you know, they could..."
Taehyung figured it was a no.
"I'm afraid I really can't let you do fish again. You're only third year so it's not too late to broaden your project themes, but if I let you do another project on fish, well, what if you never find your passion?"
Taehyung wants to tell him that drawing fish is his passion, but that's kind of a lie. He likes the idea of it, being that close to the aquatic creatures themselves - or, from a photograph, obviously because there's no way he'd ever be able to draw one live; that'd ended badly last time - but in reality, drawing fish doesn't give him the same sort of thrill that looking and learning about them does and- hey, maybe he should become a fish photographer; is that a thing? Is it too late to change his majo-
“Taehyung, are you listening?”
He flinches slightly, a sure sign that no, he was not, but he smiles and nods anyway, resulting in another heavy sigh from his teacher.
"Go to the library after class, find an art book. Be inspired," he says, wrangling up an amount of enthusiasm that never fails to impress Taehyung, "Either that or I'll pick your topic for you."
His face screws up. He's been trying to get him to do portraiture since week one of his freshmen year when he forgot to take pictures for his fish observations and drew Seokjin because, in his words, if you draw someone as handsome as me, your teacher will have no issue with your screw-up at all.
He was right, but Taehyung decided to tell him his teacher made him clean all of the oil paint brushes by hand, instead of admitting he was so.
Regardless, Taehyung does not want to draw Seokjin or any of his other friends for, like, an entire year's project. No thank you.
So, Taehyung figures he should probably try and find something else, and he salutes his professor, a chipper "aye-aye, captain" following it; it wasn't supposed to be a fish reference but his teacher takes it as one and the enthusiasm falls with a frown.
For the three hours he's got free studio time, Taehyung goes between sifting through the books already there, news reports about the newest aquatic discoveries and pictures of Jinyoung's airport looks, to see if he tears up after all.
He comes close a few times.
But besides from a few pictures of GOT7's treasured vocalist and his new bias, Taehyung feels uninspired and vaguely 'meh' after the three hours. Which of course means his very soul is crying out for a sugar fix.
He grabs his unused portfolio, flings the totally-not-his-mom’s-handbag-but-totally-his-mom’s-handbag-bag over his shoulder and is about to go fulfil his burning desire when he feels a clap on his back and a call of "Taehyung, remember to go to the library," from Kang and he inwardly shrivels up.
"Actually, I was gonna get-"
"No avoiding it, Taehyung; you have to pick a good topic by tomorrow."
"-But, Professor Kang, I was just gonna go-"
"No, no excuses. In fact, I have some books to return, so we can go together. I'll pick you out a few books."
Taehyung outwardly shrivels up.
In his mind.
The walk to the library, though very short in reality, is a monumental crawl marathon for Taehyung, the whole time walking with Professor Kang being a lecture on inspiration and creativity and trying new things and Taehyung just wants to curl into a ball and slurp hot chocolate through an extra-long bendy straw (so it could reach him while he's curled up.)
But alas, he only has the solution of texting Jimin a frantic message, something along the lines of being held captive by his teacher, forced to erase all artistic integrity and be so starved of glucose that his smile is nowhere near as dazzling as usual (since he's powered by sugar.)
He thinks he'll get the idea.
"Right, Taehyung, sit down here and I'll go get you some books to start you off," Kang says easily, as Taehyung sits in one of the only available seats in the library which just so happens to be a wobbly chair at a mediocre sized table (clearly, all the good ones are gone.) He nods at him, refraining from saluting again and instead going for a more socially-acceptable smile.
When the man turns away, Taehyung thumps his head down on the desk. He feels something touching his hair and it's only then that he looks up and realises that he is not the only one sitting at this crappy two-seater library table. No, no. The table is most definitely meeting its people capacity right now and Taehyung tries not to be surprised, but that doesn't register with his mouth, which lets out a small 'oh fuck, hi,’
The 'I'm sorry for putting my head all over your notes' is implied.
The student opposite him gawks, eyes wide and vaguely resembling the grace and innocence of an animal (those sorts of descriptions are always when Taehyung knows he's been thinking about art too long), treacle brown hair contrasting with his sweet honey complexion and cherry red lips and- wow, he must really be craving sugar, too.
Taehyung waits for him to reply, but he doesn't. He just keeps staring. He's about to ask him if he has pen ink or something on his face from his notes but then Kang comes back with a mountain of books so high that when he puts them on the table he seriously can't see the guy opposite him anymore.
They're portraiture books, Taehyung notes with a sinking heart.
"Professor Kang, I can’t do portraiture. I don't have anyone to draw so-"
"Of course, you do! You have that boy you drew last time, and those two that always mooch about in the studio with you. You know, the ones that broke my stepladder doing... What was it again?"
Taehyung sighs, rather despondently.
"A... a re-enactment of Bop to the Top."
He remembers it well. Yoongi had been much, much less enthusiastic than Jimin had, outwardly, but Taehyung knew that, deep down, he was squeeing at dancing with secret-not-so-secret-still-unconfirmed-but-pretty-likely love of his life, Park Jimin.
And then, the stepladder gave out and Jimin fell movie-style into Yoongi's arms. It was unbelievably sweet.
Until they both plummeted to the ground, which resulted in a round of classic bickering between the two, following along the lines of ‘yah, Min Yoongi – you can’t even hold up someone two years younger than you for half a second?’ to ‘it’s not my fault you spend every waking minute either in the gym or at the studio. Muscle weighs more than fat, idiot.’
Taehyung saw the love in their eyes, though. Trust him. Unconfirmed but pretty likely.
"Yes, those two," Kang says, as usual, with an air of enthusiasm streaming through his smile, but Taehyung doesn't miss the bitterness in his voice.
"I can't base a project off of any of my friends, my creative intentions will be hindered by the fact that it's them."
The kind of 20+ year olds that do High School Musical re-enactments (Taehyung would be lying if he hasn’t done ‘Fabulous’ with Jimin in their dorm a few times, though) and cry over the final of MasterChef (Seokjin, however, is just weird.)
"Well," Kang says, voice straining further (Taehyung seems to have that effect on him) "there's thousands of people at this university. Surely you've more than three friends."
Taehyung hums. He does not.
He has friends of friends like Jung Hoseok who is Seokjin's partner for every exercise and practice scene that Theatre Performance and Production Studies throws at them and likes to come around to their place to practice, loudly, at eight in the morning, and he has Kim Namjoon who's been Yoongi's best friend since, like, almost birth and who additionally has some serious heart eyes for the handsome, broad-shouldered drama major that Taehyung practically shares a room with alone since Park Jimin decided to betray them and hang out with his unconfirmed boyfriend at his dorm most of the time, instead.
Everyone around him is basically dating and Taehyung is tragically, eternally alone.
Even Hoseok, king of not settling down, has his eye on one of the set designers, lately.
But, his singleness aside, Taehyung doesn't really have anyone else he could ask to base his entire project around. Not someone close enough to not earn a restraining order filed against him for asking but not someone new enough to him that he could focus on their aesthetic beauty without thinking of them walking around in their underwear, eating some sort of molding leftover and scratching their bed-matted hair (this applies to all aforementioned candidates.)
Kang seems to notice that Taehyung's gone into one of his deep thinking states (usually he's just thinking of how cute he thinks he looks that day or what RomCom he'll watch with Seokjin that night but nobody knows this, so it's fool-proof) and decides to leave him alone with a not very encouraging 'good luck', likely assuming he's thinking about his project and not his friends' tendencies to be hot-messes.
Taehyung picks one of the books off of the top, reads 'Portraiture Through the Ages' and suppresses a yawn, discarding it onto the floor, gently enough that the librarian doesn't come and pinch his ear with a lecture (again.)
He takes another, sees 'The Most Influential Portrait Artists in History' and does yawn, throwing the book slightly less delicately than the last onto the slowly building pile, and before he can add to it any more he hears a sharp whisper of "Kim Taehyung, if I see you throw one more book onto that floor-" he swivels around in his seat to see a deceptively kind looking women scowling at him, hair loose and free around her face, seeming much more like a stereotyped mother than a librarian.
He holds up a hand in apology, knowing she wouldn't appreciate him making further noise, and breathes a sigh of relief when she turns away.
"It's probably a bad sign that you only come here, like, once every two months and yet she knows you by name."
Taehyung turns back in shock, having entirely forgotten the guy whose notes he'd caressed with his precious caramel-tinted hair (God, he needs sugar.)
He's less obviously staring now, the gawk having dissolved into a cool gaze and Taehyung takes a moment to appreciate that, because he hadn't noticed he was hot, earlier, too focused on his similes for the boy instead. But he's like, hot, hot. 'If only we met at a party, not a library' hot.
Taehyung leans on his hand, elbow on table to attempt to look vaguely suave as he says "Actually, its a lot less frequen-" but then he realises "hey, wait, how do you know when I come here?"
The coolness disintegrates as the boy stammers immediately, breaking eye contact with Taehyung almost panickingly. "I-I'm here a lot, so, you know..."
"But there's so many people here, how-"
"I'm observant," he snaps, reaching hastily for his notes and textbook splayed across the table (he assumes, at least, the books are still kind of in the way) in an attempt to most likely look busy.
"But-" Taehyung tries before he's cut off again with the boy slamming his textbook down on the table, spitting, "Fucking drop it already,” with a considerable redness to his face.
Taehyung blinks, words dissolving on his tongue. People at other tables are staring at them but the boy across from him doesn't seem to care about that. Maybe his face has reached maximum blood capacity. Taehyung almost wants to press him on the situation, but the glare the boy sends his way when he opens his mouth is enough to make him reconsider.
A minute passes and Taehyung has resorted to looking at titles of the books and throwing them down on the floor again, since he still couldn't really see most of the boy and, honestly, when he can, he is horrified to see that he clearly works out. His arms and most of his chest are covered by an oversized, unbuttoned button-up shirt, but when he leans on the table Taehyung can see his biceps push out and the firmness of his chest through his t-shirt. His mouth goes a little dry, and when the guy looks up, sharply, with a hint of a glower, Taehyung blurts out "What're you studying?"
He doesn't blink.
"Oh!" Taehyung exclaims, "I know..." nothing "about that..." It's amazing how one attractive person can send Taehyung into social meltdown. He'd consider himself something of a social butterfly, having no trouble talking to hot people usually but - God - is he having trouble here.
The guy looks at him with a quirked eyebrow, non-verbally telling him he thinks he's an idiot, but he doesn't actually reply. Just looks back down to his notes. How does one go from an awkward mess to a cool asshole in, like, thirty seconds with such… seamless grace?
Taehyung takes another book down, not bothering to read the title this time, instead peering over the remainders to see the boy's notes. They are indeed physics notes from what he can tell. God knows what category or topic of it, though. There's too many formulas.
"I'm an art major - fine art, but you probably knew that," Taehyung rambles, making the boy's eyebrows shoot up in scandal before Taehyung realises what he just implied. Now, his face heats up.
"No, no!" he says, "Not because you stalk me or anything - not that I think you stalk me you don't look like a stalker but I don't really know what they look like I assume kinda gross and not nice and you look nice, really nice not nice as in kind, though, you look pretty mean but you're attractive - I mean, I'm not attracted to you but, well, I guess I am but not in that way I-"
"Taehyung," the guy snaps suddenly, and Taehyung’s mouth closes just as firmly.
His lip quivers in surprise, he sinks further down into the chair as he mutters "Oh, ok-" but then he realises something again.
"Wait, how'd you know my name?"
The boy stalls, animal-like eyes returned and wide, and his mouth opens and closes a few times before he says, "Your... Your teacher said it. Obviously. Why else would I?" and his (natural?) grimace is back, coldness reimbursed in his eyes. Taehyung hums.
"Good point, sorry. Hey, what's with the sports bag, by the way - what sport do you do?"
He looks up with a sour expression, oozing sarcasm as he asks, "Are we playing twenty questions?"
"No,” Taehyung snorts, “that usually ends with an interesting make-out with a fuckboy - although, you play a sport. Are you a fuckboy?"
"No, God, I do dancing, so-"
"No way! I have a dancer friend!"
"No way," he repeats, much less enthusiastically, in fact, completely dripping with mockery. Taehyung frowns momentarily. But then he musters up excitement again from the prospect of his awaiting beverage, saying "He'll be here any minute, actually, I asked him to go get me a drink."
The boy says nothing. Taehyung frowns again, throwing a few more books down to the pile to give him something to do while he wracks his brain for another topic. Of conversation, that is - art is long gone in his mind.
And then he gets one from a book written by a 'Marsha Zodiac.'
"So, are you a horoscope kind of person? I'm a Capricorn."
Alright, there were probably, like, fifty better topics to pick, but either way the guy at least looks up at him, stare conveying contempt quite clearly, but he’s not ignoring him.
"Virgo," he replies shortly.
Taehyung almost has to pinch himself, splurging out "Hey, we're compatible!" at an unacceptably high volume for the location. A few people look around at them, again, but both parties are oblivious this time.
The boy ducks his head, looking back down at his notes again as he mutters "Where is Jimin with your drink, shit, the café isn't that far."
Taehyung's mouth shoots open.
The boy looks up in confusion as to why Taehyung echoed him.
"I never told you who my friend was. Or that he was at the campus café."
His eyes spring wide, and the flurry of red heat rushes to his face again, he stumbles briefly, with an "Uh..." before Taehyung leans enthusiastically across the table, a teasing smirk on his face as he says, "How do you know all of this, hm? I'm definitely not here enough times in the year for you to take notice of me at all, never mind that much."
There's a heavy silence. Students rustle paper and pages. Pens scribble furiously. Keys tap.
"I have to go."
Taehyung should've expected that.
He stuffs all of his work into a bag and moves so quickly, all Taehyung has time to say is "Wait-"
He whips around as the boy rushes past him, a predictably uncomfortable look on his face, eyebrows knitted in assertion. He pushes past a confused looking Jimin who'd just arrived, one hand paused in a mid-air wave and the other holding a suspiciously attractive looking café take-away cup.
"Jim, over here!” he calls, earning another glare from the librarian, mentally threatening his banishment, but at this point, Taehyung just wants a hot sugary beverage - who cares if he can't figure out a topic here? Maybe he can look at GOT7's airport fashion and call the project 'Unattainable Beauty.'
Although, speaking of unattainable beauty, Jimin is looking quite attractive all of a sudden while holding a very beautiful hot chocolate. He seems dazed when he reaches Taehyung, but he doesn't have time to think about the boy. He just wants his drink.
"Who was that guy? Totally weird,” He says out of polite conversation (and okay maybe he's a little curious. He was absurdly hot, after all.)
"Jeon Jungkook," Jimin answers hesitantly, "Second year. He’s in one of my classes and I dance with him. We study together, you should know him – I’m sure I’ve mentioned him..."
Taehyung begs to differ, he would remember that face. Jimin gives him a disapproving glance when he says, "Why did he look like he was gonna shit himself - what did you do?"
"Nothing!" Taehyung defends, "I just asked him how he knew stuff about me. Did you tell him?"
Jimin shakes his head, picking the drink out of Taehyung's hands and taking a sip, "He asked something about you once or twice - just your name, major. Whatever."
"Oh, that's okay, I-"
"I think he might have the hots for you, though."
If Jimin hadn't stolen his drink, he would've totally spit it out right now.
"No, he doesn't! Did you see him? He hates me, already!"
Jimin gives him a look as he hands his drink back.
"What?" Taehyung asks.
"Haven't you watched any RomCom ever? The misunderstanding is the first step," He says teasingly, poking Taehyung's cheek as he pouts. He’s watched plenty RomComs, thank you very much.
"Next thing you'll know, you'll be bumping into each other everywhere and fall in love."
Taehyung huffs and gets out of the uncomfortable, crooked chair, mock-sulkingly (deep down he’s wondering if he could get that game of twenty questions, after all.) He stands over the looming pile of books that have now migrated to the floor.
"Just help me put these back, you asshole."
Bumping into each other everywhere - what a joke; this is the first time today he’s ever even seen Jungkook, despite them having a pretty mutual mutual-friend. He’s not just going to randomly start seeing him everywhere. He’s not Bridget Jones.
Taehyung very well could be Bridget Jones or any RomCom lead, really, considering how absolutely absurd it is to meet Jungkook again, a day later, like this.
He is horrifically late to his studio time – not that it really matters that much because he still doesn’t have a topic and Professor Kang will want to flatten out his head with a printing roller – and he’s also fairly underdressed in red pyjama pants, flip-flops and a grey hoodie that’s probably Seokjin’s if the sprite form of Princess Peach on the front is anything to go by.
But Kim Taehyung does not accept defeat, so, he takes off with his bag secured across the princess’ face, running as fast as he can in flip-flops and bringing too much attention to himself once he gets out onto campus, considering they’re flapping against the concrete with each step. He sounds vaguely like a cartoon duck.
He checks the time on his phone, smiling a little to himself as he sees the lovely picture of a mandarin fish on his lock screen but it doesn’t last long because, then, he sees that he is twenty minutes late all because he told Seokjin his casserole was sucky last night and the man decided not to wake him up this morning (it wasn’t even sucky, Taehyung just wanted pizza) and Jimin slept over at Yoongi’s last night again, so he didn’t wake him either.
He’s about to put his phone away, but then he sees that he got a notification from his favourite aquatic forum (infofishers.com) and mentally squeals a little as he goes to click it.
And it is then, his phone goes flying out of his hand because Taehyung’s flip-flop get mixed up with his pyjama pants and he ungraciously trips. But the thing is, Taehyung is expecting concrete. What he gets is immediate angry cussing and a rather firm, but warm landing.
Taehyung lifts his head from where it’d unceremoniously landed on a solid chest that, any other time, he would be grateful for. But then he sees the daggers being sent his way by the owner of said chest.
“Oh, it’s my stalker!”
Really, Taehyung didn’t know what he expected to happen from saying that, but regardless he ends up rolled over onto his back, harshly hitting the stone ground as Jungkook brushes himself off with a horrendous-looking scowl.
“Mean,” he laments, but before he can actually apologise about slamming into the guy, he’s already dashing off.
“Meaner,” he concludes, raising himself from the floor with a huff. He checks his phone again, sees he’s almost twenty-two minutes late now, and figures he might as well take his time, considering he feels like he’s broken a bone, even with the initially good landing.
He hopes Jungkook’s not any worse-off – just because he’s not an asshole, unlike some.
“Twenty-five minutes late, Kim Taehyung,” Kang calls out just as Taehyung’s sneaking past the fashion mannequins in a vain attempt to somehow not get noticed and pretend he was here on time for once.
Taehyung stops, sends an endearing grin to his professor (who doesn’t fall for it) and says, “That’s a new record, right?”
Kang sighs deeply. Trademark reaction to… pretty much anything Taehyung does ever.
“No, actually; you were forty-seven minutes late once last year.”
“Ah…” he mutters, face crumbling into a considerably awkward grimace. He remembers that. He’d gotten up early just to go to the ice-cream shop a little ways down from campus to be the first to try the new flavour they were unveiling. It was reasonable enough; who wants ice-cream at eight in the morning?
Apparently, college students do. A lot of them.
Taehyung queued for one hour, realised when he got to the front that it was some sort of lemon flavour and he doesn’t even like citrus, walked away at an absurdly slow pace due to his crippling disappointment, and managed to be ridiculously late to class.
Kang had made him come back in the evening to take down all the old display pieces and put up the new ones for the university open morning (Taehyung doesn’t have long enough nails to easily take out the pins so it was a painful and never-ending procedure) and he ended up missing Jimin’s dance competition who promptly wanted to kill him for doing so.
“Did you find a topic?”
‘No’ is the answer, but Taehyung thinks this over for a moment.
He’s late to class, came in his pyjamas so it’s kind of obvious he overslept and didn’t get stuck behind a small parade or had to help an injured bird (besides, he’s used both of those excuses before.) He’s pretty sure he doesn’t even have his sketchbook with him and on top of that he hasn’t picked a topic like the man had practically begged him to.
Taehyung likes his head the way it is, thank you very much. He does not want to look like Andy Warhol’s latest printed masterpiece when his professor decides to steam-roll him, never mind take a printing roller to him.
“Yeah!” Taehyung enthuses surprisingly convincingly for someone who is lying and also dead inside from having to take the one thing he despises most in the world besides citrus.
“I’ve decided to take your sound advice and do portraiture,” he explains, watching as his professor’s face lights the fuck up. It warms Taehyung’s heart, really. He likes to see the man happy. That’s why he’s buttering him up with the ‘sound advice’ and cheesy smiles. Not because he’s terrified of being forced to neaten up all the department’s tissue paper by way of safety-scissoring off the cut-up scraps left attached and the gaping holes in the middle who the hell cuts right in the middle when he tells him he doesn’t have his sketchbook.
Or… any of his supplies, really.
“I’m so glad, Taehyung!” He says, and for a moment he lets himself feel a sense of pride and ease as the man smiles jovially at him and Taehyung returns it without worrying about his impending sentence.
“Now, did you attempt some rough sketches like I asked?”
Taehyung shoves his phone back into his hoodie pocket with a groan. Now Seokjin’s gonna be on his ass with the ‘if you keep being late you’ll fail and have to mooch off of me for the rest of your life’ lecture that he gets a good thrice a week.
Honestly. He forgets his sketchbook and the sketches that he was supposed to do and his portfolio and then he bumps into another student and spills acrylic paint everywhere and Kang tells him he has to come back in an hour to clean it up. Is that supposed to be justice?
It’ll have dried by then, what kind of sadist is he? (actually, on second thought, acrylic is the bitchy older sibling of fast-drying paints. It probably dried before he even got caught.)
Jimin had sent him a string of laughing emojis when he told him, whereas Yoongi had just called him an idiot. But, they had at least both offered to PayPal him money for his lunch to cheer him up (Taehyung thinks they’ve got some sort of telekinetic brain connection that makes them always come up with the same ideas,) and that was good enough for him to stop intensely moping, knowing that he can buy lunch fit for a king. Or, at least, not a broke college student.
Hopefully they don’t talk to each other about it otherwise they’ll both probably hit him with something.
In spite of the financial aid, however, Taehyung is still moping just a little bit.
Luckily, he had the sense to go to one of the cafés closer to the town centre, full-well knowing that every lazy student that goes to this university will be at the one on campus around about now -and he’d rather not wait forty minutes to get some mediocre hot chocolate and an over-priced bagel.
He did, however, not consider going back to his dorm to go get changed out of his pyjamas first and, while it’s very common to see students dressed in such attire, that’s only accepted on campus.
He’s at the counter, looking over the absurd amount of food they have on offer and thinking that $20 really is way too much money for one person because Taehyung wasn’t even really that hungry until he saw all of this and was given a whole $20 to spend on it, and it’s then that he hears the café’s bell ring and signal someone’s entry into the shop. He turns out of interest.
And classic Romcom luck, apparently.
Jungkook limps (limps?) into the queue behind him, head down and looking at his phone and Taehyung ignores the barista’s request for his order, blurting out “You’re limping? Was that because of me?”
Jungkook’s head whips up like he’d just heard the ghost of one of his ancestors calling out to him. He looks down at his ankle, then back up at Taehyung, mouth agape as he mutters “Oh, uh-,”
“I’ll buy you lunch to make up for it! Jimin and Yoongi lent me money,” he says, wiggling his eyebrows at him with his debit card in hand. Jungkook doesn’t say anything for a moment, but then he slowly puts his phone away and says “I’ll have an americano…”
He looks like a coffee drinker.
Taehyung smiles enthusiastically (a little too enthusiastically apparently, because Jungkook looks marginally freaked out with those wide sets of eyes of his) and tells him to go find somewhere to sit, he’d join him in a minute.
Taehyung orders a double caramel hot chocolate with extra cream and cinnamon on top, making sure it comes with the heart-shaped marshmallows, and it makes Jungkook’s regular americano look rather anti-climactic, so he orders two chocolate marble loaf cakes and one large triple chocolate cookie and hopes Jungkook likes chocolate.
He does, evidentially, because he grins a little when Taehyung approaches the little table picked out beside the window and sets the tray down while Taehyung tries not to let his excitement show on his face but it’s difficult because wow, he got him to smile. He throws in the explanation of the food being an extra compensation for his ankle which he does genuinely feels bad about, being a dancer and all, even though Taehyung’s initial intention was just that he wanted to sit with the younger for a reason vaguely vague to him.
At that, Jungkook looks up and the curve of his smile depletes a little, turning into something almost a little sheepish for a moment before he says “I hurt my ankle at dance practice. It wasn’t you.”
It takes Taehyung one, two, three seconds to process what Jungkook just said. And then…
“Hey!” He whines, lowering his drink from where he’d been just about to take a sip, and unveiling a stern pout behind the rim of it. He’s a broke college student and still had the kindness in his heart to pay for someone he thought he crippled, the audacity of this guy.
“I felt really bad about that, you know.”
Okay, he felt half bad, half as if he deserved it for being so mean. But the guilt was definitely there somewhere.
“Sorry,” he says softly, breaking off a piece of cake and nibbling on it – the action so endearing, Taehyung completely disregards any malice he had just to mentally gush. He’s adorable. Like a bunny.
A sort of assholeish bunny, but one he wants to hug, nonetheless.
Taehyung gets to see him smile a total of four other times, throughout their short lunch – his heart full-on, gym-rat-workout clenching with all four. But it’s only on the way back to the studio when he’s scrolling down his favourite fish blog on tumblr and has decided that Jeon Jungkook does not have the hots for him, regardless of what Jimin thinks (after being hastily rejected on his offer to help him back to his dorm and left without an actual goodbye. There was only a little offence taken, but his point thoroughly proven) that Taehyung realises how bizarre it is that that fact makes him feel… almost disappointed.
And not just because he was hoping for a make-out or two.
And then he also thinks that it was also weird that his stomach kept flipping anytime the guy so much as looked at him.
And then… the cause fully dawns on Taehyung, and he almost drops his phone again.
Taehyung drags himself through the door of their dorm room an entire eternity later, fingers red and raw from scrubbing acrylic of the floor… and the desks… and one of the walls, and Seokjin looks at him almost sympathetically from where he’d been typing loudly on his laptop at their small sofa suite of three – but he can see the underlying ‘you brought this on yourself for being late again’ in the expression even though his lateness was merely the filling of the cake, not the iced ‘you’re a failure’ as the message on top.
“You’re finally back!” he thankfully says instead of reprimanding him, “How was it?”
Taehyung flops down on the hard squarish leather, mirroring that of which Seokjin’s sitting on with a weary sigh.
“Horrible,” he deadpans, making Seokjin snort obnoxiously across from him. He can almost hear the ‘aish, so dramatic.’
The elder goes back to typing: an essay, an e-mail, a plead to a hitman to sabotage his tardy friend for him – whatever – (it would explain the lack of a lecture) and, naturally, his next question is “Did you get lunch, at least?”
It’s a polite thing to ask, but it’s also a very Seokjin think to ask, and Taehyung smiles to himself at it, despite his façade of being horribly, tragically distraught right now (though, if any of those feelings are so, it’s only partly because of his aching hands.)
“Yeah,” he answers after a brief moment of contemplation on said lunch which didn’t get much farther than god, he’s attractive, “I went to a place off-campus. Yoongi and Jimin PayPal’d me money because they felt pity. That’s what good friends do when they hear about things like that.”
Seokjin promptly ignores his unhidden jibe at him, and instead clicks his tongue in disbelief, saying “Who are you to talk about being a good friend when you ripped yours off like that, hm?”
“I’m broke now though,” Taehyung says as if that excuses it (Seokjin’s look of disapproval says otherwise,) “I bought Jeon Jungkook coffee, too.”
His friend glances at him over the shiny silver of his laptop (decorated with cute pink stickers that Taehyung’s considered nabbing a few times) and he can feel the bewilderment radiating off of him.
“You bought… Jeon Jungkook coffee,” he asks slowly, clearly having heard of him somehow, since Taehyung didn’t mention the library incident to him for no reason except partial embarrassment.
“Long story,” Taehyung waves off dismissively, and at the gesture the man curiously goes back to his computer, typing for only a few seconds before his fingers stop again and he says, “I didn’t know you two knew each other… you’re usually holed up in the studio or in your room when he studies with Jimin.”
Ah… that makes sense.
Taehyung slumps further into the couch at this, drawling “We don’t, really,” with more melancholy than he’d meant to and it’s then that Seokjin shuts the lid down on his laptop completely, pointing an accusative finger at him, asking “Why are you pouting?”
“I’m not pouting,” Taehyung insists, clearly pouting.
Seokjin stays silent for a moment, eyes narrowed at him before they shoot open and he groans, “Oh god, don’t tell me you’ve got a crush on him your heart is so volatile.”
Taehyung flails slightly against the sofa, comparable to a fussy toddler when he moans “I can’t help it! I didn’t like him until…” he checks the time on the cracked wall clock across the room (indoor game of basketball initiated by a drunk Min Yoongi.)
“Three hours ago!” He concludes, falling onto his side like a domino and pulling his knees up to his chest, muttering “It’s all Jimin’s fault,” to himself, in lieu of a startled but not surprised Seokjin.
“Jimin’s fault?” The elder repeats, shooting him a look of apprehension as if Taehyung has a track record of blaming Park Jimin on things that were not the fault of Park Jimin (he does, but that’s beside the point.)
Taehyung nods with vehement agreement, saying “Yes! He told me Jungkook had the hots for me but he lied,” he stresses, almost in a whimper. Seokjin doesn’t look as sympathetic as he should, really. Just amused.
“Ah, the complications of young love.”
“Shut up, this is serious.”
And it is serious. It’s serious when Taehyung arrives at the dance studio at 10 pm and lets out a small yelp, contemplating hiding behind a bush when he sees Jungkook because that’s crazy, how is he here?
Okay, maybe it’s not that crazy to see Jimin’s supposed dancer friend at the dance studio. But it is a little weird to see him at 10 pm, just as the place is closing for the night, coming out of the building with the very item that Jimin had guilt tripped him into retrieving.
(“How many times have I went to get your belongings from frat houses after you forgot them in your alcoholic blitz?”
“That’s different! You’re basically an adopted frat boy. I’m by no means a dancer!”)
Jungkook stops in his tracks when he sees him and Taehyung feels a faint blush creep up past his t-shirt that he desperately hopes is not visible in the low-key light of the moon because this is the first time he’s seen Jungkook since his small revelation and he was caught off-guard. Mostly because wow, was he right about that physique of his. In nothing but a pair of shorts and a tank-top he can clearly see the sturdiness of his biceps and forearms and the suggestion of a nice set of abs from where the material of his top is clinging to him.
His brain melts a little bit.
“That,” Taehyung points awkwardly, “That’s Jimin’s jacket.”
Jungkook looks down at his hand, clutching the red cotton material, and then he glances back up at Taehyung with a gaze that makes him seem as if he’s unsure whether to be condescending or not. In the end, it’s half and half as he says “I know. I was gonna go give it back to him.”
“Couldn’t you just have waited until tomorrow?” Taehyung asks dubiously, partially recovered now from his thirst, “Isn’t it sorta weird to go at this time of night?”
Jungkook stammers for a second, disbelief flashing onto his face and he says “I guess, but I have to talk to him about the rout- Hey, wait!” He stresses all of a sudden, and Taehyung chuckles a little at his frustration.
“You came all the way here for it. I was already here. Aren’t you being weird?”
“Jimin made me,” Taehyung explains with a smirk tugging at his lips. Jungkook lets out a quiet ‘oh’ sound, shoulders untensing as he does.
He holds the jacket out to him, and Taehyung walks the few feet between them to get it. He takes it with a firm thank you, shrugging it on which seems to amuse the younger. Then, Taehyung notices something.
“Your ankle,” He says, examining the bandage-less stretch of skin below his shorts (he has good legs, too. Both to Taehyung’s delight and misfortune.) Jungkook follows his line of sight and nods, though Taehyung didn’t ask anything, just pointed out a part of his body like a dumbass.
“Yeah, it’s… all better. Wasn’t a big deal, but thanks for your concern,” He says, meeting Taehyung’s eyes when he looks back up with one of those smiles he likes so much. This one, somehow, seems just that little bit more genuine than the previous ones, though. Even if that’s just placebo.
He’s adjusting his bag on his shoulder, shifting his weight slightly to the foot that wasn’t injured when Taehyung says “That’s alright. I had fun buying you coffee.”
“You did?” He asks, eyes shooting to him with something akin to surprise. Taehyung laughs at that, tells him he had a lot, actually and then Jungkook grins. Properly.
Taehyung feels lightheaded.
“You said you need to ask Jimin about a routine?” He asks to distract himself from the radiance of that smile, dear god, “He’s playing Mario Kart with our roommate right now, you can catch him.”
Jungkook laughs kind of shyly at his wording, likely knowing that Jimin is elusive if you don’t know him like ‘that.’ And even though Taehyung knows him like ‘that’ - better than ‘that’ – he still can’t find him half of the time.
He sounds a little hesitant, a little reserved or something. But Taehyung’s just glad that he didn’t outright reject him this time. And that his first impression of him being an asshole was wrong. Or, for the most part. He did scam him out of a coffee.
It does lead him off to wondering why he came off so asshole-ish at first, but he puts it down to strong embarrassment and the fact Taehyung called him a stalker indirectly several times (and then once directly...)
They don’t talk that much during the walk.
Correction: Taehyung talks a lot. Jungkook mostly just laughs nervously or mumbles a two-word response and the closer they get to Taehyung’s dorm, the more wound-up he seems to get, but Taehyung does a good job of ignoring it. Instead, he focuses on the way Jungkook’s just a tiny bit taller than him, and how each passing streetlamp casts his already golden skin in an orange glow.
But there’s only so much you can ignore.
One thing he cannot ignore is how Jungkook stops right outside the dorm building’s entrance, and Taehyung looks back at him with a sense of hesitation because is he okay? He just stopped.
“You know what,” Jungkook says, a sheen on his forehead that he’s pretty sure wasn’t from dancing, “I’ll just text Jimin about it… - It’s no big deal really-,” He insists when Taehyung opens his mouth to counter his statement.
He’s already backing away, mumbling about how it’s ‘just about a… you know… a step… a-a tiny step. Baby step,’ before Taehyung can so much as tell him that Jimin’s out of credit (which he only knows because he used it all up calling Yoongi and complained when their conversation got cut. He’s told him so many times to get a contract with free calls. Or, you know. Skype.)
It’s the fourth time he’s run off on him. Taehyung wonders if he was ever taught a proper goodbye as a kid.
“I have no topic, Kang is ready to destroy my ass and I’m gonna di-,”
Taehyung’s exclamation catches in his throat when he swings the door of his dorm open and expects to see his roommates looking at him with poorly hidden disdain.
“Oh…” he says when he actually sees Jeon Jungkook: sitting on his couch and looking at him like he just admitted to robbing a bank.
This is payback from the art gods for all the times he’s disrespected them, isn’t it? Now Jungkook’s gonna think he’s some sort of freak (yet to be proven by a scientific professional) and never come near him again-
“You… don’t have a topic?”
He hasn’t got up and left yet. He just looks… alarmed. But still there.
He can work with this.
“No, I do…” Taehyung says in a normal tone of voice, not yelled to the art heavens, in an attempt to seem composed.
“Just not a subject. I told my professor I’d do portraiture – but I don’t wanna draw any of my friends.”
Really doesn’t. If portraiture is going to be a thing he’s doing for a while (and probably evermore if Kang gets his way) then he’d like it at least fifty feet away from his obnoxious friends, thank you very much.
He wants pretty – but not pretty, followed by the flashbacks that he has of that one time they did that one thing that Taehyung’s never been able to uningrain the memory of out of his brain that comes along with it (telling Kim Seokjin that his food is molding before his very eyes only to have his roommate ‘tsk’ at him for encouraging food waste and eating it without hesitation is one of the many instances that come to mind.)
“Oh,” Jungkook says simply, lips closing together again just as quickly as they’d opened and the startled roundness of his eyes being blinked away until his neutral face makes a re-appearance.
Ah, so pretty, Taehyung thinks.
No immediate mental recall of a traumatic experience… hm.
Taehyung’s glad the room’s already well-lit because he’s pretty sure the metaphorical lightbulb that shines over his head all of a sudden would draw some attention. He plants himself down on the sofa opposite of Jungkook, bag drooping off of his shoulder at his feet.
He unzips it as inconspicuously as he can.
“So, are you waiting for Jimin?”
Jungkook nods, and only now does Taehyung notice the textbook in his lap as he says, “Yeah. We’re supposed to study, but he’s running late.”
Jimin majors in a branch of dance choreography (he can never remember the actual name, he usually just calls him Leonardo Dance-Vinci which Jimin says isn’t as clever as Taehyung thinks it is,) but yet, because he is so incredibly excessive in everything he does – a trait that makes them self-proclaimed bromates – he also minors in physics, and takes a few of the same classes as Jungkook does, only a year above (Taehyung just found this out recently, after grilling Jimin for all he knows about The New Crush in the least creepy way possible.)
Taehyung doesn’t have to wonder where Jimin is, though.
Min Yoongi: a viable reason for many of his latenesses – but, for once, it comes in handy.
Taehyung takes out his sketchbook and draws. And if he draws the person opposite of him a few times (most of the times) then, it can’t be helped. He is right there, after all. Pretty and not linked to any traumatic incidents and right there.
He’s halfway done a sketch that he actually thinks could turn out pretty good - like, usable – when there’s a loud ding that goes off across the room, and Jungkook looks up from his textbook to the flashing device beside him.
“Oh, it’s Jimin,” he says sounding vaguely hopeful before he suddenly looks as if someone’s insulted his grandmother and he lets out a long groan.
“He said he can’t make it – his dance teacher’s kept him to help out with a class.”
Taehyung’s admiring the pout of his lips when Jungkook seems to snap back into reality and out of Jimin getting caught up with dance, yeah, sure, enjoy Min Yoongi’s ass, Park Jimin, as he mutters to himself, when Taehyung snorts at the comment and he looks largely apologetic.
“I’ll just… go then. Sorry for intrud-,”
But Taehyung thinks having someone around who has felt the woes of Yoonmin could make for a satisfying evening. And if that person just happens to be the hot guy he’s totally crushing on at face value and a little bit of aw he’s cute and shy sometimes then it is totally out of his hands.
Even if those hands of his are making little grabby motions to convey something along the lines of ‘mine! mine!’
“Hey, wait no. You wanna get food? I’m starving we can get food.”
Taehyung ate an entire double layer cheeseburger on his way home from the studio out of stress. He’s really not hungry.
But Jungkook doesn’t need to know that.
“Can you help me with physics, too?” Jungkook asks, a teasing edge to his tone of voice and Taehyung can’t help but cringe at what comes out of his mouth in response.
“I… yes. I… know about physics.”
Damn it, Jimin.
“Really?” He sounds surprised and honestly Taehyung’s a little surprised, too, because what the fuck, he doesn’t know anything about physics. “Okay, then. Let’s go.”
Taehyung stands up, grabs his bag and his sketchbook, naturally – he needs to finish those sketches even if that wasn’t his priority in going out with the boy.
If he’s gotta eat, it has to be grilled meat. If Jungkook agrees then he’s willing to declare that he is the man of his dreams, no shit.
And it’s as they’re laughing about it together, heading out the door, that Taehyung begins to think his volatile heart actually did him a solid, this time.
Jungkook is a lot easier to talk to with a little alcohol in his system. If he hadn’t already told Taehyung that he belonged to one of the frat houses on campus, he probably would’ve been making those assumptions around about now considering his tolerance is absolutely off the charts. Because ‘a little alcohol’ is what he called it. Taehyung would be black-out drunk with the same amount.
But a fraternity? So that’s how he knows Jimin. Taehyung thought it was strange that they somehow became friends in classes considering Jimin goes into study lockdown in lectures and he’s pretty much unreachable until the class is over (he knows this because he once came to get his key from him since Taehyung left his in his other jacket and he had to actually ask the lecturer to tell Jimin for him because no amount of shaking his shoulders would snap him out of it.)
Jungkook is laughing, rosy-cheeked and all smiles and Taehyung really, really likes the sight.
“You don’t drink?” He asks once he’s not touched the bottles of soju on their table, and has instead been alternating between sketching this ethereal radiance before him and nabbing anything off of the grill once it’s cooked with the precision and swiftness that only comes with someone who’s had several years of eating with three, occasionally five, food-loving college students.
Taehyung does drink – just not often. His tolerance, unlike the boy opposite him’s, is terrible and so he only drinks cocktails because a) they’ve barely got any alcohol in them, and b) he’s a classy bitch.
Jungkook laughs in ripples when he tells him this. Taehyung wishes he could add audio into his art, somehow.
The table’s cleared once they’re done eating, and Jungkook breaks out his work only to have Taehyung shamefully admit that he actually knows nothing about physics and failed in in high school.
“I thought you said you knew!”
Never trust a Kim Taehyung under the influence of thirst.
“I know how to fail it.”
Somehow, Jungkook finds his answer entertaining enough to forgive him, and he studies with a smile on his face for a little while, whilst Taehyung captures the moment on paper.
By the end of the night, he has quite a few nice sketches and he’s genuinely a little excited to hand them into Kang. He figures he should probably ask Jungkook to use him as his subject.
But he only thinks of that when he gets back to his dorm.
And thus, begins a habit that’s a little harder to break than Taehyung’s willing to try.
Kang thinks his sketches are wonderful, as he half-expected and Taehyung tries very hard to keep the grin on his face as he says “I can’t wait to see where this goes, Taehyung – you could really make a career out of this.”
Portraiture… his entire life…
There’s a bead of sweat forming on his forehead, he can feel it. But then, he thinks over drawing portraits of Jungkook… his entire life…
And decides that, yeah, that’s a little better. Portraiture isn’t that bad, really. A few pencil sketches here and there and he doesn’t even need to go to the library anymo-
“It’s important to use different media and such, though. Why don’t you go back to the library and-,”
Externally, Taehyung smiles and nods.
Internally, he’s screaming a little.
He does go to the library, half because Kang’ll fuck him up if he doesn’t (in the form of making him get the paint stains out of the sponges – it’s no wonder the art studio is always so clean with all this forced labour) and half because he has no idea how to go about using different media, he really does need to read up on it.
And he’s semi-cheerful about it (though, he’s semi-cheerful about most things,) gripping onto his sketchbook with a small smile on his face until he actually gets into the library and sees Jungkook. Right there at the table.
The guy lifts a hand at him in greeting and Taehyung is suddenly met with such fond that he gushes that he needs a book and launches himself behind a shelf before he does something stupid like confess his undying crush on him because, in case you wanted a small update on that, it is growing by the hour and totally ensnaring his heart like those dolphins that make the mud nets to catch shoals of fish.
Maybe he should’ve done his topic on dolphins. It would’ve saved him the bother of hopelessly crushing on a guy that probably still thinks he’s moderately annoying - and technically dolphins are mammals, so he could still call it portraiture, right?
No. Probably not.
So, Taehyung takes a book out at random (he’s lucky he ended up in the art section – it would’ve looked really weird if he hadn’t) and he flicks through it for a few moments, too many needlessly lengthy descriptions when he’s looking for brief step-by-step with lots of pictures, and he’s about to put it back when he realises something.
He can totally see Jungkook through this gap.
He puts the book back, walks around to the shelf angled a little better so he can see most of the front of his face, and takes another book from the shelf.
Yup, there he is.
God, that’s so creepy.
And Taehyung’s about to laugh at himself and walk away but then he thinks… he could totally sketch him right now. He doesn’t have to confront him and ask, and get a restraining order probably – he won’t even know.
So, he puts that book back too and sits on the floor, pulling a few out in a row to get a good view and, then, he gets his sketchbook.
He comes skipping out behind the shelf a mere twenty minutes later with a few nice sketches (hoping Jungkook doesn’t wonder why it took him twenty minutes) and he sits down in front of the boy with a cheerful greeting, ready to continue his work from a different angle.
But then he notices that Jungkook’s staring at him rather expectantly, and Taehyung asks if there’s something on his face.
“No… I just. Did you… not find a book?”
Oh shit. He completely forgot.
“Uh, no. No I… they’re… out.”
“They’re out of books.”
“No, the… they’re out of portraiture books.”
Jungkook turns his head towards the art section, more specifically, the entire shelf dedicated to portraiture books, and then looks back at Taehyung who can barely keep himself from staring at the floor for the next hour or flailing himself out the window.
“It’s a very specific book,” he lies, and to his surprise, Jungkook just laughs at him, under his breath, turning his attention back to his work as he mutters, “Alrighty…”
Taehyung takes that as his cue to rapidly change the subject as he asks, “Are you doing more physics?” which sounds like a stupid question, considering he’s a physics major of some kind, but Taehyung’s looking down and not seeing formulas and diagrams with lots of arrows. He’s just seeing words and physics, from what he remembers, doesn’t like to use actual words – it likes to use a lot of made-up words and put letters where they don’t make sense.
Jungkook looks up, appearing a little caught off guard as he briefly looks back down at his… words… and then up at Taehyung again.
“Ah, no actually,” he confesses, “I minor in photography, so I’m just… writing some analysis for my newer photos.”
Huh. He figured he minored in dance.
Man, this guy gets around, doesn’t he? Extra-curricular-ass-
“Ooh, lemme see them!”
The younger man smiles at him, a subtle tint to his cheeks as he passes over his phone with the photos on it.
They’re landscape photos and for a minute Taehyung thinks he’s showing him artist references or something but no, they’re his.
Taehyung doesn’t know an awful lot about photography – only what he’s had to learn to pursue fine art – but even he can tell the compositional choice is comparable to an actual, paid photographer’s. He pulls focus to the middle of the picture, often, but always to lead your attention somewhere else, to the real subject of the photo instead. He has such an eye for balance of colour, it’s almost like he painted them himself.
They’re not exactly Yoongi’s photos – who Taehyung swears is some kind of photo-taking-god - but they’re amazing.
“…You’re really good,” Taehyung tells him, sounding more than a little stunned. Jungkook laughs in the shy, high-pitched way that Taehyung doesn’t hear quite enough, and he passes the phone back to the boy who mutters a thank you, hand over most of his face.
“You should try snapping me, sometime, though,” Taehyung says cheerily, shooting him a greasy wink just because and Jungkook laughs again, a little quieter this time as he tells him “I only do landscapes.”
Taehyung’s laying contently in bed, artwork more than a little neglected as of the past twenty-four hours since he has been in the same spot, surrounded by crumbs of snacks and two very large bottles of pink lemonade and watching documentary after documentary on Netflix about marine life.
He’s probably too into this one that’s questioning the cruelty of having fish perform for audiences in captivity when his text tone goes off with the call of a beluga whale and he’s so startled he yells two octaves above his normal voice and thanks Poseidon and Neptune that no one else is home right now, Jimin at dance practice and Seokjin rehearsing for his next musical.
Taehyung springs out of bed, spraying crumbs everywhere like gross confetti and he stumbles across the room, trips over his laptop wire and falls hard to the floor. Then, he accepts his fate and shimmies out of his generic-fish print pyjamas then and there, crawling over to his closet so his feet don’t betray him again.
Once wearing semi-acceptable clothes (four changes that ended up as light blue jeans that dig into his tummy when he sits and a baby pink dress shirt – definitely casual…) and fixing his appearance in his mirror in the form of combing his fingers through his hair and rubbing off the mark of chocolate near his mouth, Taehyung grabs his laptop and launches himself down onto the sofa, resuming his documentary like he’d totally been doing this for a reasonable amount of time.
The door opens a short while later and Taehyung makes a point of not yelling this time and in steps Jimin and Jungkook, the former of which gives him two thumbs up when he sees him (Jimin’s brutally honest with these things. It’s a good sign.)
Jungkook looks at him for a moment, eyebrows raised which… sort of makes sense because any time they’ve met Taehyung’s either been in his I’m an artist I’ve no time to shower or his I’m an artist that slept in, I’ve no time to get dressed states – neither of which are particularly good looks.
“Hey, Jungkookie! What a nice surprise to see you… I wasn’t expecting that.”
Jimin’s satisfaction with his best friend evaporates and he screws his face up in a weird smile when Jungkook looks over to him.
“Uh, yeah. I don’t like studying at my place. My roommate’s too loud and, you know. Frat houses never sleep, the grind never stops,” he rhymes off like it’s part of the Frat Boy Code or- actually, it could be, “So, it’s either here or the library.”
Taehyung pauses. So, the library is a regular hangout for him. I.e. he can sketch him there and here.
“Feel free to drop by any time!” not to sound creepy but please do “Seokjin and Jimin are always practicing so I’m almost always the only one here.”
Just… don’t come by when I’m in my fish pyjamas.
Jungkook nods, seeming less hesitant than he had been a second ago, and says “I’ll remember that.”
Hook, line and sinker.
Taehyung is reading one of the many books from the shelf that Jungkook had pointed out to him on portraiture and, now that he isn’t distracted by wanting to sketch or just by his general hotness, he’s surprised to find that it’s actually interesting.
Who is he becoming?
“You come to the library a lot lately,” Jungkook comments, and Taehyung frowns at the page, trying to remember if and why he has.
“Yeah,” he says, and Taehyung looks up to find the boy already looking at him and not his physics(?) work, though his hand is still writing.
Impressive considering Taehyung struggles to walk and talk sometimes.
“It’s the third time this week I’ve seen you.”
It suddenly hits him that he hadn’t actually sat with Jungkook any of those times and that he came to sketch him which makes him look like a) a bad person who doesn’t sit with their friend (friend?) and b) suspicious. He’s gonna think he’s selling drugs behind the bookshelves.
“…There’s good books here,” Taehyung mutters stupidly because of course there are, dummy. It’s a library. He ducks his head back down, pretending to be interested in his book but now that he’s seen the boy opposite him’s face again it’s kind of incomparable.
Jungkook laughs and it’s pretty, pretty, pretty, when he agrees, “Yes there are, surprisingly.”
He dares to take a glance at him when he hears him shift his chair closer to the table, move some of his pages about and he feels like he’s been hit in the stomach with the younger man’s MacBook when he does.
He’s got a soft, concentrated smile on his face, light hitting him beautifully at such an angle that the shade being cast by how he’s leaning on his hand brings out the contrast of the warm, saturated colour in his hair.
Taehyung feels an excitable rush pulse through him, one he’s come to know lately as his desperation-to-draw feeling. So, he takes out his pencils.
“You’re creepy,” Jimin says very assured of himself and Taehyung is affronted.
He comes into his kitchen, eats his pasta and now he’s telling him he’s creepy while he’s having to remake his entire meal (of plain pasta that takes ten minutes tops)?
Not on, Park Jimin. Not on at all.
“I’m not creepy!” Taehyung defends, lip jutting out as he accidentally pours too much pasta into the pot. Oh well, guess he’s eating cold pasta for breakfast tomorrow.
Jimin’s face might as well spell out ‘I am patronising you right now’ because he slowly raises an eyebrow at him (seriously, like… escalator slow) and he says in a ridiculously even voice, “You’re practically making an entire project on someone and he doesn’t even know.”
Taehyung scrumples up the empty packet of pasta and throws it to the trash.
He growls a little.
“It’s art. Art is not creepy.”
Slight lie. He’s certainly seen some creepy art in those books he’s been reading lately – but Jimin doesn’t need to know that.
“When did you become such an artist, huh? I thought you only cared about fish.”
Taehyung stalks over to the plastic that fluttered mockingly to the floor and shoves it in the trash, considers throwing himself into it to (or Jimin) but doesn’t, and he instead turns back to his boiling mound of carbohydrate mush in the pot with a noncommittal noise.
“I’m kinda behind on fish,” Taehyung admits, feeling desperately guilty for it because his marine life friends (his crew-staceans as they’re referred to as on the forum) have been messaging him saying they miss his fish meme page, but Taehyung’s continued being pretty much MIA as of late.
“I’ve been reading up a lot on art lately, though! It’s kinda cool,” he admits, feeling a certain warmth emerge at the simple thought of the subject. Which is weird, he’s never felt that before. He smiles to himself as he takes the wooden spoon and tries to make sense of the gargantuan mess of melting pasta and cloudy boiling water in his cooking pot.
“You’re studying art at university – I’d sure hope you’d think that,” Jimin quips and Taehyung stalls in his stirring of the goop just to glare at him until he asks, “But really? No fish?”
“Not no fish. Come on Jimin, who do you think I am?”
He spent four hours last night watching documentaries and then another two getting in an intense discussion in the comment section of one over what exactly is the coolest fish (he figured it was the porcupine puffer because they’re so fucking cute – but not everyone agreed.)
“I just don’t want to draw them anymore,” he says simply, giving up on his congealed mess and opting to order food in instead. The first batch went so well… thanks Jimin.
He’s flicking through a menu he has bookmarked for a nearby Chinese restaurant online when Jimin asks “You mean you like portraiture better?”
Taehyung crinkles his nose in thought. Maybe. A little.
“Or you like Jeon Jungkook better?”
Taehyung sends him daggers past his phone.
“Yes, now shut up and leave me alone – important business.”
Does he want sweet and sour or honey chilli chicken?
It’s a little while later, when Seokjin’s come home and they’re all waiting for the food to arrive (they both forced Taehyung to buy them some too) that Taehyung’s decided to work a little more on his sketches to pass the time.
And it’s then Jimin says “Hey, how are you even going to submit all of this without having pictures? I thought you had to have proof of reference for observational drawings.”
Taehyung’s pencil slows to a stop.
Jimin snorts, patting his shoulder in faux-sympathy as Seokjin sweetly sighs “Ah, the stupidity of young love.”
“Shut up, hyung.”
Taehyung has easily made his way through a fifth of the portraiture books in the library by now, and he has still not asked Jungkook even know he’s right there every time he’s read one of those books.
He has to ask him so he can take photos. He can’t take photos and submit them as part of his project and not ask. That is creepy.
But he just keeps drawing, as if Jungkook will tell him to use him for his art project, or something. Which he won’t. The guy’s no longer running away from him or being a bitch but he’s not that bold.
Five minutes later, Taehyung’s tongue is sticking out of his mouth in concentration but he almost chokes on it after Jungkook says “Can I see? You never show me your art.”
I can’t show you my art it is you.
“No, you can’t see.”
Jungkook looks somewhat stunned, eyes a little wider than usual and lips parted ever so slightly.
He feels a little bad.
But then Jungkook just frowns, rather determinedly and asks “Why not?”
“You just can’t!” he tells him, standing up, sketchbook tucked under his arm as he hastily says “I need another book.”
He sits down in his usual spot (it’s bad he has one of those) and takes out the same books, thankful that Jungkook never studies in the same way because all of his drawings would probably look the same if he did and he goes to untuck his pencil from behind his ear, only to knock it out completely and have it roll under the bookshelf.
“Ugh, why me,” he mutters, putting his book down beside him and crawling onto his tummy to reach under the shelf. He gets the pencil in his hand and then startles so hard he hits his head off of the shelf when he hears someone say “If you wanted to draw me you could’ve just asked, hyung.”
Taehyung crawls back, hesitantly and sits up on his knees to see Jungkook standing over him, sketchbook in hand.
His sketchbook in hand.
“Oh fuck, hi,” Taehyung says, same as the first time they met in the library, and Jungkook seems to remember too as his eyes crinkle into that adorably amused smile of his.
“Who’s the stalker, now?”
But he doesn’t seem mad. Or creeped out. And those are both good signs.
Taehyung has an idea.
“Okay,” he says, slipping out his phone from his back pocket and pressing on his camera app, “I’m gonna tell you something – so let me take a picture.”
Jungkook’s expression grows slightly dubious but he must be used to Taehyung’s whimsicality by now because he gives an agreeing nod, anyhow.
Taehyung holds up his phone, framing the boy’s face who’s peering down into it, the angle just below him and wow, he looks gorgeous with backlight. Not many people look gorgeous with backlight.
“I’ve been drawing you for a month or so now as my subject for my project and my professor really likes it but I was in too deep to actually ask you.”
Taehyung taps onto his gallery, checking the photo with a grin.
Ah, his first observation.
“It’s perfect,” he says more to himself than to Jungkook, who crouches down beside him, chin leaning on his shoulder as he checks out the photo, too. Taehyung feels his heart beat a little faster when the boy turns his head towards him and he can feel his soft breaths on his cheek as he asks “You’re going to draw that?”
Taehyung makes the mistake of looking to his side to get a whole close-up of Jeon Jungkook and never mind his heart beating faster it stops. Or explodes. Or shrivels up.
“Yeah…” he says distantly, barely even hearing the words come out of his mouth because fuck.
“What do you think? Chalk pastels or acrylic?”
Taehyung adds another stroke to the canvas, hitting it too hard again so that it splashes right back onto him. The fourth-year student he’s half-friends with, Minho, that he started to talk to one day when he couldn’t get the printer working tells him he looks kind of like the music video for Gotye’s Somebody I Used to Know and Taehyung’s lets out a heaving sigh.
He knew he should’ve went with chalk pastels. Though, he rarely comes out totally clean with those either…
He tries to add more yellow to his brown mixture for a little variation, balancing his palette on the inside of his elbow while he fights with the stubborn lid of the paint, brush wedged between his teeth, when Minho lays a hard flurry of pats to his back and curse his fragile body he stumbles and almost drops everything.
But no, he catches it. Just ends up hugging it to his chest.
“Nice… print,” The elder says, laughter teasing in his voice and Taehyung can do nothing but huff.
This was his last clean shirt.
“What did you want, hyung?” He asks bitterly (except not really because it’s Minho), peeling the palette off of his shirt to see all of his precious colours now staining his shirt.
Could he just use his chest as a palette?
He snaps open the lid of the yellow, strongly considering just squeezing some on there when Minho says “Nothing, it’s just that sophomore you’ve got a huge thing for just walked in.”
Taehyung stares at him in shock.
“How do you know I’ve got a thing for him?”
The man looks towards Taehyung’s canvas, and then the rest of his work as well. Then, he glances back at him without a word.
Taehyung almost gets whiplash from how his head snaps to the door and he nearly screams.
Jeon Jungkook. Seeing him covered in paint like this. Nope.
“Give me a towel, hyung. Hyunghyunghyung give me a towel-,” Taehyung’s grabbing onto Minho’s sleeve, shaking him slightly and the elder looks severely startled, handing him the towel he was using to clean his hands just moments ago.
Taehyung starts viciously cleaning his face, draping the towel over his entire head and just rubbing in the hopes that it’ll take something off and, if not, Jungkook won’t know it’s him.
“Hyung? Are you okay?”
Life is seriously unfair.
Taehyung slowly brings the towel down from his face, immediately making eye-contact with the boy standing right there in front of him. Minho’s nowhere to be seen.
Jungkook smiles at him, the gesture illuminating his whole face as he lets out a breathy laugh and takes the towel from Taehyung’s hands saying, “You’re so messy. Here, hyung, let me.”
Taehyung watches him lean over to the sink beside them and does nothing but stare as the boy wets the towel and starts dabbing it carefully over his skin. He cleans his face, and takes his hands, too, individually cleaning each of his fingers and Taehyung almost shivers from how warm and comforting his own are.
He flips the towel around to the dry end and starts to wipe off the blobs of paint on his chest when Taehyung pushes the towel away, face flaring up with heat as he stammers “I-it’s acrylic it’ll dry and flake off.”
Jungkook makes an ‘ah’ sound at the back of his throat, setting the towel down on Taehyung’s workstation and turning back to him with a small smile, which grows a little concerned as he does.
One of his hands reach out and poke at Taehyung’s face, and his brow furrows as he says “I think I rubbed too much. You’re all red now.”
“…Sensitive skin,” Taehyung lies, giving him an unconvincing grin that, thankfully, the younger seems to buy.
A month and a bit together, and now Taehyung is the one blushing and stuttering. Go figure.
“So, why are you here?” He asks once he’s recovered, and Jungkook’s expression is cloudy with confusion for a second before he seems to even remember and he says “Oh. I need to talk to my photography professor about our assignment – but I can’t find her. I was hoping yours would know.”
Taehyung nods, okay, that makes sense. And he picks up his brush again, trying to scrape any paint off of his palette that hasn’t been smeared to his shirt and finish the strand of hair he’d been working on, as he tells the subject of the picture, “I think they went out together for a staff break.”
Kang’s totally got a thing for that woman. They go out for lunch every day.
“Oh,” Jungkook says quietly, though, not sounding too disheartened for whatever reason when he does. In fact, he sits himself onto the desk beside the elder’s canvas and says “I’ll just stay here and wait then.”
“Great!” Taehyung enthuses, accidentally splattering more paint somewhere with the excited flick of his wrist, “You can model for me.” He reaches for a blank page, leaving his earlier painting in the dust so he has an excuse to stare at Jeon Jungkook non-creepily for a while.
(“You’re a really great artist, hyung…”
“Oh. Your face is red again. Are you allergic to paint?”)
Taehyung finds his bearings within their small dynamic very quickly after one supportive conversation with Park Jimin that went something like ‘you told me you thought my ass was the best thing you’ve seen all week the first time you met me – how can you be awkward?’ and suddenly he is unafraid to text Jeon Jungkook at any waking moment with ‘jungkookieeeee I need more pictures. wanna meet up???’ and too many emoticons.
Some may call it a poor development, but at least he’s not like Yoongi and Jimin: constantly insulting the other to hide their true love.
Jimin walks in one afternoon to see a clusterfuck of art spread around the room but Taehyung hadn’t actually planned out his project and where he was going to go with it and it’ll be a long and confusing year if he doesn’t sort it out now. So, naturally, he’s tried to put his pieces into an order to figure out a story – and the only way to do that is to clip, hang and display them around their living room.
“It looks like Leonardo Da Vinci exploded in here. Tae? You around?”
Taehyung comes out from behind a particularly large canvas that he hasn’t even touched yet but he knows he wants to do something with it – it’s too big not to – and scares the living shit out of Park Jimin when he says “Da Vinci was an inventor and sculptor as well. It’s more like Rembrandt exploded.”
Jimin, clutching his heart, scowls a little at him, before he continuously shakes his head, saying “I cannot believe one boy has gotten you so ridiculously into art. If I knew it was that easy to get you kick-started I would’ve introduced you to him ages ago.”
Imagine knowing Jeon Jungkook for a whole year previously. What a great year that would’ve been.
“He is art Jimin. He’s art.”
Jimin lets out a soft groan into both of his hands when he covers his face, and stays still for a second before he brings them down and looks at Taehyung with sound desperation.
“When are you going to tell him he… makes your heart melt like wax crayons or whatever you said the other day?”
Taehyung’s so taken aback he stumbles into one of his other blank canvases and ends up knocking down two others in an attempt to stay upright. Once he does, he’s only a little hysterical when he yells “I can’t!”
He doesn’t bother picking up the canvases, just goes back to the sofa where his laptop is sitting patiently and resumes the video he’d been watching before he decided to unleash artistic chaos in the room.
“I can’t tell him,” Taehyung mumbles just a little childishly, curling up on himself as he shoos Jimin away blindly, hand waving in the air, saying, “Now go away – I’m watching a video on the depletion of the world’s fish.”
Then, almost like a warning, he adds, “Go. It’s sad. I’ll cry.”
Jimin laughs heartily at him, jumping onto the sofa beside him which makes the colouring pencil set he had sitting on the edge of the sofa’s arm spill onto the floor. Jimin doesn’t seem to care, and he slings an arm around his best friend, snuggling close to him, somehow managing to sound fond when he says “You’re still a fish nerd, deep down, aren’t you?”
Taehyung pauses the video, looking over to his friend in an overdramatic, wistful glance, saying “My passion for fish is the ocean floor and art is the water.”
Jimin scoffs, dubiously asking, “Art is the water? Or Jungkook is the water?”
“Like I said: to-may-to, to-mah-to.”
As for the order or general direction of his project?
Eh, he’ll figure it out later.
Taehyung stands happily beside his professor as he sifts through his portfolio, passing comments every so often on each piece – what’s good about it, if he should add something – so that he can clean up what he’s got so far for his midterm review and Taehyung listens intently because, hey, Kang actually knows what he’s talking about. Who knew?
“It’s going great, Taehyung,” Kang says, getting to the end of his work with a pleased ‘I’m glad you’re doing what I asked’ smile of a teacher, “There is one thing, though. I think-,”
Just then, Taehyung hears the studio doors open, and he looks to them with strong interest because the only person that comes halfway through a class is Taehyung when he’s very late (which happens much less frequently now, considering he actually really likes art these days.)
But it’s not him. Obviously. It’s Jeon Jungkook, looking unsure of himself, peering around the studio.
“Ooh! Okay, hold that thought, sir- JEON JUNGKOOKIE!” he yells, leaving his professor with charcoal and painted versions of the boy he just ditched him for as he skips over to Jungkook standing near the door, who suddenly looks a lot less unsure and lost when he sees Taehyung. In fact, he smiles a whole lot.
“Oh, hey Tae! I was just… here to… um… you know…”
Taehyung grabs his hand without a second thought, too excited to listen to his excuse as he tugs the boy across to his workstation, urging “Come and see what I’ve been working on.”
Jungkook lets out a short, disbelieving laugh, but lets him take his hand anyway.
“Alright. Sure, hyung.”
(Taehyung never did find out why Jungkook came. If he needed to talk to Kang again, he must’ve forgot because he didn’t leave his side once.)
Trips to the library have become a lot less frequent for them both, since Taehyung can’t really conduct a photo shoot there and they both talk too much for the librarian.
Besides, sitting on one of their couches, closer than necessary, perhaps, and being able to look over Jungkook’s shoulder at his physics or photography or dance choreography plans is a lot better than having to lean over the table.
But, Taehyung’s fairly absorbed in a little oil pastel piece he’s working on right now, tongue poking out which Jungkook keeps pointing out that he does solely when he’s doing art.
And then he hears a click.
Taehyung looks to see Jungkook, lowering his camera that he had been flicking through the gallery of for the past twenty minutes or so. He tilts his head at him, a non-verbal um?
“It’s, uh. For my project,” he tells him, turning his attention back to his camera gallery, as if it hadn’t happened at all.
“I thought you were a landscape photographer.”
Jungkook’s cheeks seem to flush a little.
Taking pictures without someone’s permission? He has half a mind to call him a stalker again.
But, then, he remembers that he drew him in secret for, like, a month and decides to drop it.
“My professor suggested trying other things, too.”
Taehyung nods in understanding, then notices how cute the younger man looks right now, a faint red shyness to his skin, and he gets out his phone to take a picture of his own.
Jungkook’s used to him snapping random pictures of him by now, so he doesn’t say anything, just softly chuckles when Taehyung looks at the photo for a second before saying “Watercolour.”
Taehyung comes home one night, fairly late, from the studio – bag hanging off his shoulder and sketchbook tucked underneath one arm as he smiles a little creepily at a photo of Jungkook on his phone.
He’d gotten paint on the device and Jungkook had laughed so hard at Taehyung’s exclamation of literally fuck me, Vincent van Gogh (a common turn of phrase, of course) that there were tears streaming down his face when he looked at him.
It was pretty. Too pretty not to paint. Or draw. He might do this one with charcoal – but he doesn’t want to lose the beautiful array of colours in his skin tone anymore.
Monochrome does not do him justice, that’s for sure.
He expects the room to be empty, Jimin conked out with a textbook on his face in his room and Seokjin getting his ‘mandatory eight hours of sleep’ to maintain his ‘unrealistically perfect looks.’ The man has never done so much as a single all-nighter in his entire college life and Taehyung needs a guidebook on how the fuck because lately he’s been doing art well into the night and then into the morning to meet the stupid mini-deadlines Kang gives them so they stay on top of things.
To be fair, if he didn’t give him those, Taehyung would probably be spending his studio time getting lost in Jeon Jungkook’s eyes a lot more than he already does – and not the painted ones.
But it’s not empty. Not at all because Taehyung nearly screams when Jimin flicks on the small lamp on the table beside him, sprawled out on the sofa like some sort of weird, sensual villain in a Bond film and says “Unbelievable, you were drawing again, weren’t you? You’re so whipped.”
Taehyung recovers from his unsubtle lurch backwards at the man’s sudden appearance, and gains a haughty look as he pats down non-existing wrinkles in his clothes, sneering “No, I am not. I want to get my project done, Jimin.”
He leaves out the part where Jungkook came to visit him as he does way more than Taehyung imagines he should have time for and that he ended up doing very close to absolutely nothing but pining after him like a damn pilot fish following a shark around.
Jimin looks at him with a set, unconvinced, frown that looks somehow menacing with the shadows the light casts on him (see, this is why he couldn’t draw his friends. If it was Jungkook sitting there he’d look incredible.)
“Just tell him already.”
Jimin doesn’t even need to specify for Taehyung to know exactly what he’s referring to. The menace whines some sort of garbled version of his name that sounds mostly like ‘TaEEe e e E-uh,’ varying levels of volume and pitch throughout his drone, intending to get his frustration across.
Taehyung sets down his things, and goes to walk out of the room before Jimin snaps, “Hear me out!”
He is a kind human, unlike his invasive friend, so, he turns back around to him and gestures him to go ahead, even though he’ll likely ignore whatever he says.
“I told you he had the hots for you before you even met him! He has much more than the hots now – come on! Don’t wait until after midterms you punk-ass bitch I’ll shrivel up.”
That’s his pep talk.
Taehyung considers this. The grand old question that has been re-emerging and floating about in his mind like unwanted driftwood for months, now.
Does Jungkook truly have the hots for him?
Besides from getting embarrassed sometimes, Taehyung would have to give a firm no on that, purely based on his own research and evidence.
Additionally, the source (Witness: Mr. Park Jimin, age 22, certified pain in the ass and very cranky when woken up outside of his designated sleeping range – but loveable, proven by Evidence 1: Min Yoongi. Sufficient evidence to convince anyone) is rather unreliable, unfortunately. He’s been wrong about many many things in his life, particularly romantic things.
But Taehyung is optimistic, bordering on stupid, and so he mulls this over a little longer in complete silence as Jimin stares at him in anticipation.
“Okay. I’ll think about it.”
His friend whoops in response.
And boy does he think about it. He thinks about it so much that he can’t stop thinking about it any time he’s within 300 miles of the man in question. And that’s all the time. They hardly ever leave campus never mind the city.
But on this day in particular, they do leave campus, albeit together so the Thinking TM doesn’t actually stop.
They sit on a bench outside Starbucks, a very big mistake on their part because it’s December now and it’s cold but Taehyung likes to think it’s rather romantic, drinking hot chocolate while they’re bundled up and sitting close together to prevent frostbite, as Taehyung had reasoned it.
And he is done thinking about it, because Jungkook gets whipped cream on his nose and Taehyung’s hands move to wipe it off for him, licking it off his finger without a moment’s hesitation.
“Mm, the cinnamon cream is good.”
Jungkook giggles, the initial shock of the elder’s actions wearing off and he just nods in agreement, along with a quiet admission of “Yeah, it is…”
And since he is done thinking, his mind immediately thinks okay, quick, Bridget Jones – what is the classic Rom-Com way to get a cutesy winter kiss?
Taehyung takes a sip of his drink in thought, his mind yelling EUREKA when cream gets caught on his top lip and he looks over to Jungkook with some awkward attempt at being sort of seductive as he says “You wanna try mine?”
Good, it’s going great. Good idea-
“Sure,” Jungkook says, missing the point entirely and taking Taehyung’s cup from his hands, taking a quick drink and handing it back to him, concluding “Ah, that’s nice. I’m not that big of an almond fan, though.”
It’s okay. This sort of thing happened to Bridget, too – didn’t it?
Taehyung belatedly notices Jungkook’s wistful glance across to the shops across the street, tiny smile on his face as if he’s finding amusement in a secret and he takes out his phone, snapping a picture of his profile.
Ink, he decides.
Taehyung almost pulls a neck muscle with how loud he screams, hurling himself off of the sofa and onto the floor because life is very, very, very mean and unfair and Park Jimin is a shitty best friend and Taehyung is not at all ready to see his Mega Hot Crush TM because he looks like the garbage disposal men accidentally dropped him after collecting the trash of a suburban family of fifteen.
Can’t a man chill-out looking like an oily, undercooked Taco Bell burrito on his couch in his underwear without being interrupted by Literally The Hottest Human Alive?
No, apparently. The answer is no.
Taehyung pushes himself up onto his bare feet with paint in his toenails, somehow, and starts to scamper around the room without a real aim. He trips over the laundry basket, falls face-first to the floor and then remembers yes, clothes that is what he needs.
So, he gets himself back up, only to trip again on a pair of shoes that had been for some reason put on top of the pile (Seokjin washing his damn shoes again, who does that?) and his lanky, flailing arms decide that it’s a good idea to reach out and knock an entire litre of soda onto the floor because Jimin does not understand the concept of screwing lids on tight.
His roommates suck major ass. Like, Gucci ass.
He stands up for the third time and cautiously leaps over the counter into the kitchen because if that dries it will stick and Seokjin will stick his head on a large pole after decapitating him and display it as a warning sign to those who do not clean up their messes.
And this is how, Kim Taehyung - twenty-one-year-old male who likes fish, hates Sea World, kind-of-sort-of-arts sometimes and is Whipped With A Capital wuh-PSSSH!! for a certain bunny-smiling beauty - ends up wiping the floor of lime flavoured soda with one of Jimin’s old shirts because this entire thing was his fault, just as there’s a knock at the door.
He is still bordering on very naked.
Jeon Jungkook is at his door.
Alternatively: hello, Taehyung, it’s your brain here (yes, you do have one.) Get dressed before you scare him off, you absolute mess of a human.
Taehyung decides to take his mind’s unnecessarily scathing, but helpful advice.
Oddly enough, his brain kind of sounds like Yoongi.
Taehyung (fourth time and counting) leaps to his feet, pulls out the first shirt he sees that looks long enough to cover his Finding Nemo briefs and tries not to seem like such a ginormous mess when he opens the door.
Jungkook smiles for 0.2 seconds and then looks down at Taehyung’s t-shirt.
Taehyung has to squint a little to figure out what it says and when he does he tries not to fall through the floor.
I eat asses like yours for breakfast.
His roommates really do suck major ass, apparently.
Jungkook has politely averted his eyes, clearly trying not to laugh while Taehyung keeps himself from yelling PARK-FUCKING-JIMIN I WILL DESTROY YOU AND YOUR SLEAZY SHIRTS.
“It’s not…” he struggles, then deciding it’s probably best to just pretend it never happened.
He steps aside to let him in.
Any vague, pondered, distant plan he may have had to confess tonight tragically dies just as Taehyung takes one last look down at his t-shirt.
(“Wasn’t that the perfect opportunity, though?”
“How was that the perfect opportunity, Jimin?”
“You could’ve said ‘but I’ll eat yours anytime, big-boy’ insert real-life semi-colon face here”
Wink. He means winking.
“How did you actually make me think that was a missed opportunity for a second? Big-boy… Jesus fuck.”)
His paint water is gross. Really, really gross. He has this habit of using water and then not cleaning it out for four days until he decides it’s fine and he can just re-use it under some guise of it being resourceful I love recycling.
He dips his brush in, and more goes onto it than comes off it.
And then, Taehyung decides, he should go change it.
So, Taehyung wraps his blanket cocoon a little tighter around himself and waddles out of his bedroom, gross water in hand and then, when he reaches his living room/kitchen area he realises that there are two people in said living room/kitchen area and not one as he had initially thought.
“Hi, Jungkookie. I didn’t know you were here.”
Jimin gives him a doubtful sort of look as he asks, “Didn’t you hear us?”
Taehyung dumps the water down the sink, doesn’t even wanna know what the lumps in it are, and says “I did, but I thought that was just you being very loud and lonely.”
“What are you guys playing, anyway?” Taehyung asks, ignoring the look of repulsion Jimin gives him as he watches the goop spill out of his cup.
Jimin shoots a slimy sort of smile, then, and Taehyung raises an eyebrow at him, scrubbing at the… mold?... that has formed where water once was and he only has to take one look at the television screen to see why.
“No fucking way, you play Dead Nation?”
Jungkook looks around with a glimmer of hope in his eyes, as if he’d been trailing Jimin’s ass along as his pathetic teammate all afternoon.
Jimin scoffs, loudly, obnoxiously…
Taehyung narrows his eyes at him. This is one of his plots to get him to confess, isn’t it? Just like the 5-minute warning text last week.
“Tae spent all last summer glued to this couch playing that stupid game. I don’t like shooters, or top-down games, or zombies, so I never played with him. But now you’re here, Taehyungie, you can put poor Jungkook out of his misery.”
So, he does, he takes the bait – ‘confess to him, Kim Taehyung’ look and all. Even if the wiggle of his eyebrows is a little more R-rated than he feels they should be.
Taehyung plants himself down beside Jungkook, taking the second controller just as Jungkook graciously decides to start a new game. Playing as Park Jimin’s – King of Bad Video Game Choices- crusty ass character? No thanks.
“Just so you know, I’m super good at this game. Never die until at least the ninth level.”
“Ninth, huh? Ever beat it?”
“Plenty of times.”
“Good, me too.”
Jimin chirps in then, saying in a bad-faux-innocent voice “Why don’t you guys make some sort of bet? You’re both super competitive…”
A sleazy wink shot his way, so gross Taehyung actually wipes his cheek.
But he gets the message. Some Interesting Penalty.
“Okay, we’ll keep playing until one of us dies. If we manage to beat it first time, not having to start over, then we’ll play again.”
“Oh, sure. How about the loser has to…” Jungkook drifts off, eyes darting around the room and he almost wants to obstruct his view like me, kiss, we have to kiss look at me. His eyes light up when he looks at Taehyung and he’s thinking ‘yesssss, Park Jimin, you beautiful man, you got me this, son’ until Jungkook opens his mouth.
“Down that entire bottle of hot sauce.”
The idiot in silent question makes a clean, nervous getaway before Taehyung can throttle him.
He is not all that good with spice. He is definitely not good with a bottle of hot sauce that has a warning label with a skull on it on the front, either.
He will not die first.
(“You absolutely let me win, Jeon Jungkook.”
He downs the bottle quickly, erupting into a funny sort of dance when the heat hits him, shaking his limbs as if ridding himself of a demon and yelling.
Taehyung pours him six glasses of milk before he tells him he’ll overdose in lactose or calcium or something if he has any more.)
Despite his body’s protests, who was happily snuggled up in blankets watching Shark Tale (not as good as he remembers, really, but still amusingly bad,) Taehyung gets semi-dressed (i.e. he pulls a jacket on over his Elmo onesie that he bought when he decided to “relive his childhood” for a day) and slips on a pair of battered shoes he’s fairly certain actually belong to Yoongi.
He picks up the first hoodie he finds in their laundry basket, lamenting when it’s his that he has to lend, and sets off on a Friday night across a college campus in an oversized ridiculously red and fluffy onesie, hood pulled up over his head because wow it’s cold and just hopes that there aren’t any parties going on tonight to be seen like this.
Two and a half minutes later, he walks by one of the other dorm buildings, the one between the gym and the food court (aka home for rich kids that just decided to pick a degree at random and just wanna to have a good time, bruh, *sunglasses emoji*, *100 emoji*) and he’s only lightly surprised when there is an Absolute Rager going on and he only gets two feet across the lawn where people are throwing alcohol at each other and screaming, the faint sound of bassy EDM coming from the building, when someone shouts to him “Heyyyy, Elmo! Come join.”
Taehyung does not join, no matter how tempting (it’s a little tempting, he likes socialising despite only having, like, four proper friends,) and the people look reasonably disappointed which is understandable because Elmo is the life of all parties.
He gets to the studio a few minutes after that, ready to hit Jimin over the head with the hoodie because not only did he drag him out of bed watching the greatest (eh) movie of all time, but he made him pass up a party in which he could’ve had the reputation as ‘that guy dressed up as Elmo’ which he thinks sounds pretty cool.
But, when he gets into the studio, along to the main room where Jimin insists on practising because he believes it’s the only room that the cleaners actually clean, he’s surprised to see a flurry of darkish hair, swept back off of a glistening forehead belonging to a very nice broad and rather muscular body wiping down in the practice room.
And not his nasty best friend.
“Jungkook…” Taehyung says as a greeting when he opens the door, music flooding to his attention as he does, and the man turns around to him with vague wonder, smiling as Taehyung tries to not do something absurd like touch his biceps. Even though they look ridiculously touchable.
“Have you seen Jimin anywhere?”
The sooner he does his delivery mission, the sooner he can come back here to Jungkook and be a huge, gaping creep.
Jungkook shakes his head at him, though, which is very strange but not as strange as when he adds “He hasn’t been here today.”
Taehyung ponders on this for a moment.
Jimin… texting him sporadically to bring a hoodie to the studio when he was fairly certain he was with Yoongi. Jimin… who probably knows Jungkook’s practice times as his study buddy and occasional dance partner.
Jimin… who has been trying to force them to have ‘’’moments’’’ every chance he’s gotten, lately.
He paused Shark Tale for this?
He takes another glance at Jungkook, chest obvious through his damp tank top, sweatpants clinging low on his hips.
Yeah, okay, this was worth Shark Tale.
“Right… that’s fine. Are you going now?” He asks, watching the man nod as he shuts the music off and gives one last fluff of his hair with a towel.
“All done. It’s cold as hell out there, though – I keep forgetting it’s winter. I totally forgot to bring a hoodie.”
Park Jimin, you are a genius. Sort of.
“You can have this!” Taehyung enthuses, holding out the hoodie towards him with eager hands that Jungkook doesn’t pick up on, too busy relieved that he won’t get frostbite on his beautiful pecs.
“Thanks, Tae. My hero.”
Hahahahah. It’s the least I could do for the man that I am cripplingly infatuated with.
Would be what he would say out loud if Jimin’s potential plan had worked to his full possible intention. But, regardless, Taehyung is not a man to leave empty-handed.
“Let me get a picture.”
Taehyung flicks through the photos on his phone sort of astonished, though he probably shouldn’t be, to find out that he’s already used almost every photo of Jungkook he’s taken.
He’s tried to go about it all a bit more chronologically, lately, but he can’t figure out the order they should even be arranged in, just that he knows there are some photos that aren’t quite ready to be put into his project yet – mostly the ones where Jungkook’s looking at the camera, and he’s not sure what it is about them that makes his brain go not yet, dumbass – do you have no mindfulness at all?
So, he flicks onto his messaging app, there being only one person that can help when he needs more pictures of Jungkook (besides hiring some sort of sneaky tabloid photographer, he guesses.)
Jungkook’s a rather blunt texter compared to Jimin, but he’s not as bad as Seokjin and definitely not as bad as Yoongi and the heart emoji warms his non-emoji heart.
The photo lab that Jungkook doesn’t spend as much time in as he probably should, considering he minors in photography, is pretty close to the art studio that Taehyung, a model student as of a few months ago, spends a lot of time in as he should, majoring in fine art (he never bothered applying for a minor – back then he figured he’d eventually become a famous fish blogger and wouldn’t need his degree.)
So, it’s not a lot of time since he texted that Taehyung bursts through the door to the computer suite of the lab not even making the lone figure flinch (maybe he’s used to Taehyung’s sudden entrances) where he’s wedged into a back corner, curtains shut in the room, glow of the PC screen illuminating his nose and nothing else since his hood is pulled up and tightened to create what Taehyung once drunkenly called the butthole hood, trying to flirt with an upperclassman.
Needless to say, it didn’t go well.
“Working hard?” He asks, plopping down on a plastic spinny chair beside him and wiggling a little to rotate it as the man in question turns around, nose and eyes visible only, but he can see the smile in it from the crease at the corners of them and the crinkle of his nose.
“You know me.”
This is the bizarre thing about that statement: Taehyung does know that Jungkook works hard because he’s never behind on anything, never stressed out.
But he hardly-to-never sees him work.
He swears he’s got some sort of doppelganger going around, doing all the educational parts for him.
This is one of the rare times he has caught him actually doing things that reassure the fact that he doesn’t have a work-loving twin running about, clicking on sliders and drop down menus and a bunch of other things on Photoshop that Taehyung’s never understood as a traditional, not digital, artist.
His initial plan was to get here, take pictures and then boot it back to the studio to get back on schedule, but now, with the gentle hum of the computer and Jungkook’s frequent mouse clicks, he thinks he might just stay a while.
“How’s physics going?”
Jungkook loosens his hood, then, pulling it back so Taehyung can see more than a quarter outline of his face (much appreciated, it’s a nice face and he wasn’t planning to just draw his nose for his next picture.)
“Honestly, I think Jimin-hyung’s getting a little frustrated with me.”
“I keep correcting him when we’re studying.”
Taehyung snorts. Trust Jungkook to wind up knowing more about a subject than a person the year above him does.
“In my defense, I do major in it.”
He’s got a point.
Some time later, Taehyung is feeling mushy watching Jungkook so concentrated and in the photography zone that to distract himself from saying something stupid like if you were a picture, I’d frame you in my heart, he asks “Why did you pick photography to minor in and not dance, or something?”
Jungkook saves another properly edited photo to his pen drive and scrolls down the folder titled ‘photolicious (definition make them boys go loco)’ as Taehyung aptly suggested, while he thinks this over.
“I like to take pictures of pretty things,” is what he comes up with.
Taehyung grows a smug sort of look that Jungkook doesn’t see, eyes trained to the photographs as if he’s wondering whether they’re good enough to call it a day (they’re not, apparently; he re-opens one.)
“Oh, is that why you took a picture of me?”
His hand stops over the slider, bug-eyed sort of look on his face as he doesn’t dare take his eyes off of the screen. Taehyung doesn’t know if the warm hue on his face is bounce light from the photo, or something else.
Taehyung brings up his camera app, and snaps the photo.
“This is a good one, you look cute” he murmurs to the photo, “I mean you always look cute, but…”
When he looks back up, the bug-eyed look is directed at him.
Taehyung takes a minute to backtrack and figure out why.
He almost falls off his chair when he does.
“I, I mean – you know. It’s. I…”
When he tells his friends later that he ran out of the studio yelling ‘GOODBYE JEON JUNGKOOK IT IS TIME FOR ME TO GO NOW,’ they all start leaving the room like that for a solid week.
Midterms ended up hitting Kim Taehyung like the huge canvas that he was saving in their dorm to use until it fell on him trying to move it to the studio last week and accidentally punctured a him-sized hole in the middle of it.
Hard, that is.
One minute he was telling Jimin he’d totally confess to Jungkook before midterms, and the next, he was accidentally stirring his coffee with a paint-soiled brush and spreading yellow gouache on his toast in the morning because the containers are identical thanks to Seokjin’s splurge on Tupperware when he insisted everything in the dorm that could get moved into one, got moved into one.
But now they are passed, and that is a huge amount of relief for most students on campus.
Being coursework based from studying fine art, he didn’t have an official exam per say, but he did have a check-in with his work so far (none of it was arranged at all but Kang showed gracious mercy because his art is fucking dope to not quote him directly at all) and a small theory exam which he forgot to revise for until the night before and, despite all that, he thinks he did kind of alright.
However, now he is tumbling towards his actual course deadline at full-speed, no brakes, slicked-up with oil wheels on ice as each day passes while everyone else is having a jolly old time after their studies are pushed aside for another few months.
And there are two main side effects to this.
Number one is that he is closing his eyes and seeing Pebble Charcoal No. 83 instead of just plain black which is neither positive nor negative – just very concerning.
And number two is that he has to see a lot of his subject.
I.E he gets the absolute glory of seeing Major Hottie, Global Sweetheart Jeon Jungkook on a pretty much daily basis.
And it’s one of those days where Taehyung has managed to get out of bed at a reasonable time to head to the studio nice and early, that he does so with Min Yoongi who… just so happened to be in their dorm room at nine AM, on his way out when Taehyung caught him red-handed.
Or should he say, smooching Park Jimin?
He shouldn’t, Yoongi insisted, not if he wants to keep his limbs.
He reluctantly agreed to let Taehyung walk with him to their classes if he did not breathe a word of why he was there, who he was with, when he arrived, why he left so early or anything related, and Taehyung also agreed because a question had suddenly popped into his mind that he figured was a great one to ask his good friend and studier of the same subject as Jeon Jungkook who this question was totally about.
“Have you seen Jungkook’s project for photography?”
Yoongi raises a sharp, perfectly shaped eyebrow (photography has made the man an aesthetic/Instagram hoe) and lifts his shoulders in a vague shrug.
“I don’t see him that often. Actually, I mostly see him ‘cause of Jimin.”
“Does he only do landscape?”
“Jimin told me you like him,” Yoongi says at a reasonable volume like there aren’t humans on campus with ears at nine AM. The prime time for classes! He clamps a hand over the elder’s mouth who makes a surprised, muffled sound as Taehyung looks around them, having people stare at him with minimal alarm. This could be down to the fact he just slapped his hand over a guy’s mouth, or because they heard.
Yoongi pushes Taehyung’s hand off of him, snapping, “It’s because you just looked like you were attempting to kidnap me, you little weirdo.”
Oh, did he say that out loud?”
“You really don’t have a filter, do you?”
Taehyung shakes his head with a happy smile, before he actually remembers what they were talking about and he lowers his voice, eyes darting around the campus still as they start to walk again and he tells him, “Yes I do. A lot. A whole, whole lot.”
He could add on a few more variations of that, there, he thinks.
Yoongi scoffs, unsurprised and unbothered by the revelation and seems satisfied with Taehyung’s stress peak enough to tell him, “Okay, yes. He only does landscape. He’s literally on a specialised course for it. Why?”
He asks a lot of questions, doesn’t he?
“He took a picture of me one time and said it was for his course.”
The man rolls his eyes to the point of maximum teenage angst, a little outdated for a fourth-year college student, and says, “Typical. He never shuts up about you. Literally, it’s Taehyung this – Taehyung that. And that says a lot considering I barely even know the kid.”
Taehyung’s organs sizzle a little at that.
He talks about him?
Like, to other people?
Taehyung’s barely even paying attention to anything other than that when he says, “You’re like that with Jimin.”
Yoongi nudges him hard in his ribs with his bony-ass elbow he swears he sharpens those damn things.
“Brat,” the man mumbles at him, “Why are we friends?”
“Because you have a huge, obvious thing for my bromate.”
Another nudge. Taehyung wonders if he’s bleeding yet.
Taehyung’s eyes are starting to go out of focus.
He’s sitting on his desk, swinging his legs in some unannounced rhythm and watching Jungkook edit more photos on his laptop, chilling on his bed like there’s nothing weird about it.
He even questioned why Taehyung wasn’t sitting with him.
Unbelievable. Him. Sitting on a bed. With Jungkook.
It’s just a ridiculous idea, really.
He’s gotta tell him. His brain will seriously not shut up about it, like, at all.
It’s reasonably past midterms, now - enough for Jungkook to stop boycotting all work in some sort of quote-unquote stress break and finally start doing things again and yet, Taehyung has not confessed like he told a certain small, nagging orange-haired best friend that he totally would.
And now even his brain’s at him.
“Okay, Tae,” Jungkook says all of a sudden, snapping down the lid of his laptop with a semi-loud click that makes Taehyung jump far too noticeably. He almost falls off the desk.
“What’s the deal?”
He regains his balance as suavely as he can (a grand total of not very) and plays it as cool as he can because what else can he do, it’s a vague question and he is nothing if not cool right now.
Okay, in conclusion, he is nothing.
“You’ve been staring at me for like… twenty minutes. What’s up?”
He’s fairly certain it was longer than that, but if Jungkook wants to say twenty minutes, then twenty minutes it was.
“Nothing?” The younger man asks, peering at him in such a way that he feels kind of like he’s sitting with a nasty school teacher who’s interrogating him about his homework as opposed to his definitive crush.
Or Seokjin after he broke something and didn’t tell him. It’s very much the same thing.
Regardless, Taehyung feels a trickle of sweat slip down his temple.
“Nope, not a thing.”
He lies, his brain says – supposedly having suddenly channeled Voldemort in the first Harry Potter.
Great series, he can’t exactly blame it.
Jungkook pushes his computer off to the side of him, patting the free space on Taehyung’s bed without any hint of a verbal request and, somehow, Taehyung follows him – albeit very unwillingly.
He shuffles onto the mattress, a good few feet away lest he clings to Jungkook and never let go until someone pries him off, crying ‘please date me,’ and the man doesn’t comment on it, but does give him a very sceptical glance.
“You’ve been acting weird all night,” he says, and Taehyung wants to deny this but he doesn’t think he can. It’s all Jimin’s fault, really. Now, yes, he says that about a lot of things – but this really was, because right before Jungkook arrived for their Study Sesh, Jimin told him that if he didn’t confess to him tonight, he would horribly mutilate his Elmo onesie and would never get to be ‘that guy dressed up as Elmo’ at a party and it got him all nervous.
It’s a cold, cruel world when your best friend is a heartless asshole.
“Or, you know,” Jungkook continues with an apparent moment of re-evaluation, “weirder than usual.”
Now his crush is a heartless asshole too? Who has he left?
“Seriously, what’s up?” The man asks, genuinely sounding concerned when he looks at Taehyung and okay maybe his crush is not a heartless asshole but Park Jimin most definitely is and he needs to do this. For the sake of Elmo.
Elmo cannot believe he’s being betrayed right now.
“Tae, I know you,” Jungkook says very seriously with the usual lack of honorifics. They only really used formal language for a month or so with each other before they decided it just wasn’t right and… well, Jungkook talks to him boldly regardless so what’s the point?
“You never stay quiet for longer than two minutes – and even then I’m a little wary – and yet you’ve barely said a word all night. Is it about your project?”
Damn it his project is him.
Taehyung presses his lips together enough to make his mouth feel all tingly as he thinks this over.
Pros of telling him? Well, they could end up dating which would, of course, be wonderful. Or it’ll save Taehyung the embarrassment of accidentally saying it in front of, like, the entire university and then getting rejected. Also, he’s less likely to shrivel up from keeping it inside for so long. And Elmo will be safe!
Crippling, life-ruining, traumatic rejection.
It’s a tough call.
“I…” he starts, the younger man perking up at this and the little spark of light in his eyes right now is enough to give Taehyung fake confidence as he fools himself into thinking that that could be hope that he’ll confess! Don’t think any more about it! Just say it! Say the words!
“When a male angler fish, typically small, hungry and weak compared to the females of their kind, finds a mate using his keen sense of smell he has from the time of birth, he attaches his mouth to her digestive system and his lips and internal organs start to melt until it releases an enzyme as he becomes nothing more than a part of her, relying on her to supply him with nutrients that he receives as they share the same circulatory system…” Taehyung takes a deep, gasping breath.
“And their hearts beat as one.”
Jungkook stares at him, mouth hanging just a little bit open and Taehyung gives a countdown in his head, not sure where he’s counting to because the man looks out of action, to be entirely honest.
“What?” He finally asks.
Shit. Abort. Abort.
“Just a… little fish fact that’s been making me think.”
Totally wasn’t supposed to be a metaphor for how I feel like I’ve become dependent on you for my own happiness or anything that’d be ridiculous.
Jungkook laughs, shaking his head with an amusingly disbelieving glimmer to it and says, “I’ve never met someone so into fish…”
I’m into you, actually.
It’s not until after the man leaves, that he realises that saying that probably could’ve saved it.
He’s sorry, Elmo.
Jimin does not mutilate his onesie, because he’s so stupefied by Taehyung’s explanation for why he totally shouldn’t because he did try.
Jimin, Yoongi and Seokjin are all sitting around the living room, judging him.
“You tried to confess…” Yoongi says slowly, “with a fish fact.”
“Don’t talk to me about confessing, Min Yoongi,” he snaps right back and Yoongi lays a firm punch to his arm which are every bit as bad as his bony nudges and Taehyung flops over onto the sofa with a yowl of pain.
Jimin looks even more confused. Seokjin’s laughing at all three of them, the all-knowing asshole.
“No, but really, Tae. All you had to do was kiss him or something. The mood was totally right!” Jimin practically laments, grieving the wasted opportunity like it was his own and Taehyung doesn’t even get why he’s so invested in this but can’t judge him for it. He’s invested in it too, after all.
Does he know nothing about romance? He should’ve just kissed him? The mood was right?
“Yes!” Seokjin cuts in, sharply, apparently having had enough of all of this, exasperatedly telling him, “Just… just kiss him. No… floundering.”
Okay, no, that’s why he wanted to have an input. A stupid pun.
Over Seokjin’s spring-cleaning-ass laugh at his own joke, Taehyung hums unnecessarily loudly.
That terrible fish pun gives him an idea.
Taehyung has gotten himself into some sort of weird loop with Jungkook, all thanks to Kim Seokjin.
It starts with Taehyung being a little late to studio because he may like art now but that doesn’t mean his tardiness as a human being and wonderful ability to sleep through seven alarms magically disappear altogether. It’s just a little less frequent.
But he is rushing out of his dorm, book in hand and just so happens to see a beanie-headed physics student loitering around the science block who has a fantastic back, even through his hoodie, and before Taehyung can even acknowledge what he is about to do, he’s yelling “Hey! Jungkook!” and the man is turning around with incredulity and wide, pretty eyes.
“If I were a fish I’d be hooked on you!”
He laughs so hard he drops his file and all of his papers spill out.
It may not have worked as intended, but he did get to spend some time with him peeling his notes off of the concrete, so it’s something.
It’s only a few hours later when Taehyung happens to stumble into Jungkook on his way to get lunch, and thinks of another ingenious line that is… sort of like his last one but better.
“Hi, Tae- you wanna go get some foo-,”
“Have you ever been fishing, Jungkookie?”
The man closes his mouth, midsentence after being interrupted, and stares.
“…No, actually I h-,”
“Because I think we should hook up.”
He expects maybe an embarrassed laugh or a judgmental shake of the head.
He does not expect Jungkook to thump his shoulder, scolding “Kim Taehyung!”
He at least goes a lovely shade of pink, though, and he gets a photo out of it. Taehyung counts it as a win.
A night later, Jungkook is coming around to study some physics with Jimin – No ‘heart-eyes Taehyung’s allowed, supposedly, after last time where Jimin claims he was just third wheeling their flirting the entire time.
So, naturally, when the door of their dorm knocks, Taehyung vaults over the couch he had sat himself on, shoulder barges one very surprised Park Jimin out of the way and yanks open the door, not even giving Jungkook time to greet him before he says, “There’s plenty of fish in the sea, but you’re the real catch.”
Thank goodness it actually is Jungkook and not some randomer who came to tell them they’re too loud or their shower’s leaking through the wall or something.
Jungkook cracks a glorious, sparkling smile. Actually, it’s just a regular smile – but any Jungkook smile gets an A+ in Taehyung’s book.
“Okay, I like that one.”
Jimin makes an exasperated noise in the background.
(“Are you actually trying to ask him out with these or do you just think you’re hilarious?”
“So, let me get this straight,” Minho says, scrubbing at one palette of many as punishment by Kang for not cleaning his out properly last class.
“You are trying to ask him out… by using fish-related pick-up lines?”
Taehyung gives an enthusiastic nod.
He makes a loud noise of offence (nobody looks over at them, they’re well used to Taehyung exclaiming random things during classes, his most memorable probably being ‘Damn! He could get it!’ during one of their lectures about J.M.W Turner when their lecturer showed them his self-portrait.) He points his paintbrush warningly in his direction, an ‘I will paint your face green, Choi Minho. Upperclassman or not’ implied in it.
“Well, when you say it like that, of course it’s going to sound ridiculous, hyung.”
“It sounds ridiculous either way.”
A third voice that is most definitely not Choi Minho’s (it’s far less asshole.)
Taehyung whips around, accidentally splattering paint on the owner of the third voice, and Jungkook spits a little bit of paint out, smiling too much for just getting attacked.
“Good morning, Jungkookie! You look fintastic today.”
Huh, he’s getting picky now, is he? Seriously, you tell a guy like twenty pick-up lines in a few weeks and suddenly he’s rating them.
“Okay…” he mutters, wracking his brain for another one he didn’t see on the back of a box of frozen fish sticks. Then, he clicks his non-brush-wielding fingers.
“Are you an octopus? Because you octopi my thoughts.”
Jungkook snorts so hard he has to hold his nose in pain after.
Not… exactly the ideal reaction – but still good.
How unbelievably rude.
Yet, Taehyung still knows the man won’t actually say no, and tells him he’ll meet him outside his place because Taehyung cannot be bothered climbing all the stairs to the man’s room – the elevator’s been broken for months now because Woo, Thug Life 420 Blaze It My Boys Lets Break The Elevator By Throwing A Party In It and it’s not raining right now so Jungkook has no excuse.
Jungkook comes down in a nice button-down shirt, and some dark-wash jeans, hair flattened down neatly for once instead of being parted or wavy (Taehyung’s convinced he usually curls it a little.) He takes one sleazy look up and done at the younger man and clicks his tongue with a nod of satisfaction.
“If you were a fish tank, I’d tap that.”
Jungkook goes goddamn vermillion with one simple choke of spit.
“Kim Taehyung!” He snaps once again when he recovers, running a hand over his already smoothed hair seemingly subconsciously more than anything, and he gives him a light smack on the arm (though ‘light’ in Jeon Jungkook’s books means ‘probably won’t bruise.’)
“What is with all of these pick-up lines lately?”
Taehyung completely brushes him off. It’s only been a month or so since he started this – he’s still got a few gems left, there’s no reason to explain himself.
That’s just silly.
Taehyung realises that he’s sort of forgotten the point of initiating the Pick-Up Line Thing entirely.
And it’s a clean two months later by the time Taehyung has well and truly exhausted every fish pick-up line under the sun (he researched more and everything – he even asked Seokjin) and by that stage he is also just plain exhausted because art drains.
Art is like a leech that you think is just too nice to prevent from sucking all of your blood out of your body.
“Funny, I think love’s like that too,” Park Jimin said one night he was feeling particularly philosophical (someone offered him the shadiest fruit punch ever at a party they went to a few weeks back and he was smashed in three sips.) Taehyung choked on his drink (chocolate milk and vodka because he is an adult) and looked at his friend with an air of outright scepticism.
“What do you know about love?”
Jimin’s face chameleon’d to match the orange-red hue of the punch and he took another long gulp before brushing it off by greeting someone he didn’t know across the room.
The least subtle person he’s ever seen in his entire life.
Actually… Yoongi could be slightly worse.
But regardless, his chameleon friend may be right. But Taehyung wouldn’t know. He doesn’t have time for love. He has time for art… fish…
And Jeon Jungkook (cue all of his friends groaning in the background – for various reasons.)
After his fourth late night in a row because Kang, to put it simply, Taehyung’s mind has melted down to a whole lot of mush and he just tried to take a bite out of an orange oil pastel thinking it was a dustless Cheeto.
Those would probably taste slightly worse than an oil pastel, he reckons.
And it’s just when he sets the stupid thing back down, a little more disappointed than he should be, that the studio doors swing open and Taehyung’s eyes flicker shut. When they flicker back open, there he is. The prettiest human on campus.
Unless Taehyung’s dreaming. Then he’s the prettiest human he can dream of.
But, no, it must be real, because Taehyung feels real pain when Jungkook asks “Hey, Tae – are you alright?” and, in order to raise his head, he has to rip his cheek from a generous splat of dried acrylic on a loose page.
Once he’s sworn under his breath at that and regains from delirium only to become more delirious just looking at all that beauty mm, he says, “Oh, yeah, hey Kookie – yeah, no.. I’m just…” it doesn’t go well. His eyes begin to flutter and his head dips back down onto the page. He hopes there’s no more acrylic on there. Or worse, super glue.
Jimin spent a full hour trying to remove his best friend’s hand from his cheek when he fell asleep at midterms.
Jungkook sounds amused, nonetheless, because he chuckles in that sweet ‘oh, hyung, you’re so stupid’ way that he shouldn’t let him get away with so often and jests, “Wow, no pick-up line?”
Taehyung can’t even process those words for a full five seconds. His brain goes through a progression of what’s a pick-up line to where did the expression ‘wow’ even come from and why is Jungkook here? Why are any of us here? Before he understands what he even asked.
No, no pick-up lines. It’s been a long few months with an astounding result of not working at all and Taehyung can barely remember his name right now, never mind a stupid joke.
“No..” he mumbles, words muffled slightly by the charcoaled sleeve of his shirt (he’s probably going to have a smudge of that on his cheek) and his hair which is getting far too long but also looks dope and Jungkook likes it so why cut it when he can suffer with its aggravating length.
Fashion, like art (and love if you’re Jimin, probably) is suffering.
“I’m done with those,” Taehyung tells him, trying to stop his eyes from closing with slow, sleepy blinks but they do anyway when he adds, “they don’t work.”
Any other time he wouldn’t have said that. But sleepy Taehyung is no-filter Taehyung. And Taehyung already has a pretty shitty filter in full, energised awareness.
“What do you mean?” He sounds as if Taehyung’s talking nonsense and he is, but he also isn’t. They don’t work. Jungkook hasn’t flirted back or whatever the original intent was and Taehyung’s lost all amusement in it because it just got depressing.
“They just… don’t…” He dismisses, raising his head from his arm again and sure enough there’s something on his cheek because Jungkook’s eyes flicker to it and he laughs, lightly, leans down and licks his thumb, smoothing it off with a few quick wipes and while Taehyung’s brain is living for the lack of space between them and his heart is just about the opposite, he doesn’t move back.
Which is… interesting. Because Taehyung’s pretty sure this is far too close for regular conversation.
Or any conversation.
His gaze runs up Jungkook’s face to meet his, and Taehyung doesn’t mean to swallow so hard, staring into those rounded Series A, Shade Number 381 - Vandyke Brown eyes.
And he thinks, not for the first time by any means, God, he is so beautiful.
Jungkook blinks a few times, eyelashes fluttering at him, pupils darting up and down the elder’s face like they can’t quite keep still and it’s as he runs his tongue over his bottom lip that Taehyung feels a weird sense of nervousness overcome him in the form of a nauseating knot in one of his vital organs.
“Try it again,” the younger says. No explanation, no nothing – just a look akin to concentration harassing his features.
“Again?” He parrots and Jungkook nods twice, with haste. Eyes not breaking from his anymore.
Taehyung wracks his brain for another. One last one. Something simple, maybe a little corny – Jungkook’s liked those ones the best and he stares and stares at him thinking what could he possibly say?
Everything he can think of is too stupid, too dorky because just look at this boy – the way the light of the studio’s uneven, illuminating him in a sort of glow and making him look all too angelic when Taehyung looks like a-
Oh, he remembers one.
Taehyung lets his mouth curve into a loose smile when he murmurs, “Hey baby, is your Latin name ‘Pterophyllum?’”
Jungkook stares at him, expression unchanging, like he’s just waiting.
“Because you look like an angel…fish… to me.”
He waits for the boy to say something. Laugh. Call him an idiot, wipe more art of his face and smirk with a different kind of art on his.
But no, he doesn’t do any of that.
Jungkook doesn’t need to lean much further when he kisses him, lips softly gracing his with a warmth and intimacy he didn’t even know he needed – didn’t even know Jungkook felt and all he can think right now, as inappropriate as it seems, is wow, Jimin was actually right.
And his fucking pick-up lines worked.
And that gives him the incentive to kiss back, to rake his hand up Jungkook’s arm, past where his sleeves are rolled up to and up the smooth bump of his bicep, straining at the cloth material of his button-up shirt (at last, he gets to touch it.)
His hand runs along the back of the boy’s neck, up into his hair and it tangles into it with a ferventness of hi, this is mine to do this to, now that he never realised he so desperately wanted.
Okay, he realised a little – but we don’t talk about that. And we certainly don’t talk about how Jimin once tried to talk about it one unfortunate morning he barged into a just-woken-up Taehyung’s room and ended up saying hey, maybe that ass-eating shirt of mine wasn’t so far off the truth, ha heh.
They don’t kiss so delicately after a clean thirty seconds, and within a minute of lips running over and over and Jungkook being tugged onto the elder’s lap because he wouldn’t want his back getting sore from leaning over, of course – everything starts to move into Uncomfortable To Witness With Your Parents and then into You Will Get Arrested For Doing This In Public because he’s pretty sure the smack of their lips and the breathy little sounds they’re both making with Taehyung’s hands gripping the youngers hips tight in his lap as they move down in circles…
Yeah, that’s definitely public indecency.
And neither of them particularly want to get it on in an art studio either, not with so much paint nearby, so when they pull back to catch their breath, Taehyung decides to cup Jungkook’s cheek with one of his hands, watching the hazy look in his eyes twist and swirl with lust, yes, but emotion, too and that’s easily the best part.
“Jimin told me you had a thing for me before we met, yes or no?”
Jungkook laughs and it bounces off the walls, cheeks tinging just that tiny bit pinker at the question when he confesses “Yes, dear god, yes – thirsting after you since Freshman year. I thought Jimin and Yoongi were going to kill me at one point for not saying anything.”
Relatable. But then, a realisation.
“Shit, that’s why you were so bitchy when I called you out in the library.”
Jungkook nods, exasperated.
“I think my heart dropped out of my ass about forty times. Like, the guy I’d been crushing on for a year magically sits in front of me, starts talking like he wants to actually know me and then accidentally accuses me of being a stalker after I keep saying things I shouldn’t know about him out loud.”
Yeah, okay, the bitchiness was a nervous reaction.
Taehyung kisses him once more just because he can, and then he lets his eyes run over the boy in front of him simply down to the fact that that actually happened – and it certainly did, because there’s the mussed hair and blown pupils. Tinted, warm skin and glossy, swollen-red lips.
But it’s how it all works together. That… that look on his face. That emotion he can’t quite put his finger on but why does it feel so familiar?
He wants to capture that look, he wishes he could capture that look-
“A photo? Looking like this?”
He didn’t mean to say it out-loud but how wonderful that he did because he loves that expression. The way he’s just ever so slightly shy about it, blending with the other look and he nods, grabs his phone and nods.
“You look beautiful,” he says without a second thought, Jungkook shifting back a little on his lap so Taehyung can get a better angle.
“Look at me, not the camera.”
He doesn’t mean to hold his breath when the boy’s eyes drift to meet his, but he does.
Taehyung doesn’t have to look at the photo. He knows it’s perfect.
Taehyung gets back late.
See, it was already late when Jungkook showed up, and then they made out so long Taehyung’s mouth still stings from it and the younger walked him back, leaving a little Eskimo kiss on his nose that turned into more than an Eskimo kiss and by the time he actually got into his dorm (i.e. now) it’s late.
But does that stop him from yelling at the top of his lungs?
Absolutely fucking not.
“KOOKIE KISSED ME, KOOKIE KISSED ME-,” an interlude where he breaks into Jimin’s room, before he continues singing, “SCREW Y’ALL’S METHODS, THE PICK-UP LINES WORKED- hi Yoongi-, CALL ME J.M.W TURNER BECAUSE I AM ROMANTIC.”
About the only thing he learned from that lecture minus the fact that, you know.
He could get It™
Jimin sits up in his bed, eyes crinkled half-shut and hair tossed everywhere. Yoongi, sleeping beside him because in-denial puts a pillow over his head and threatens to rip out his vocal chords if he doesn’t shut up.
“Took you both long enough,” the orange-haired boy mutters, fixing his shirt back onto his shoulder from where it’d slipped off, deliriously, “It’s almost May, Taehyungie.”
Taehyung suppresses a snort. He only calls him that when he’s either shitfaced, sarcastic or out-of-it in some shape or form.
He must realise the time at this point and notice the paint marks all over his general being because then Jimin sighs, saying, “Your project must almost be done, at least. You spend forever in the studio.”
Taehyung laughs at that.
Totally. Done. All that studio time. Totally working. Not staring at Jeon Jungkook and talking with Jeon Jungkook and watching videos on YouTube with Jeon Jungkook. Of course, not.
He keeps his creepy laughter going as he backs out into the hall. But then, he hears Seokjin telling him “Congratulations, Tae – now shut up,” and decides to graciously adhere to his request before he ‘lets him sleep in’ and be late for class in the morning again.
Taehyung goes to bed feeling contently warm that night. His grin hurts his cheeks after five minutes and he’ll probably wake up with a face cramp, but that doesn’t stop him.
And as Park Jimin predicted the next morning, sipping on his holier than thou coffee (it’s a shitty brand, anyway,) Taehyung is absolutely, undeniably fucked once he snaps out of his JeonJungkookKissedMeOnTheMouthSeveralTimesAndWe’reDatingNow haze and promptly becomes a Red Bull away from a heart attack after three all-nighters in a row and a literal stack of empty energy drink cans, arranged like a pyramid because constructions are fucking cool when you’re sleep deprived in an art department.
“What’s the meaning behind this one?” Jungkook asks sarcastically, feet propped up on the desk beside Taehyung, observing the mountainous product of his failure to function as a decent human being and hand intertwined with the one Taehyung isn’t holding a pencil in (he technically needs both but catch him telling his hot boyfriend not to hold his hand.)
“It’s a representation of my impending doom,” he says very sweetly – far too sweetly for talking about doom, “I call it ‘I’ve spent all year hopelessly infatuated with a grossly attractive boy instead of doing work and now I’m cripplingly behind’”
Jungkook hums in faux thought before clicking his fingers at him and concluding, “Catchy.”
“True,” the older boy corrects, taking one look at his grossly attractive boyfriend and groaning with the lamentations of a thousand unfortunately-dead spirits.
“You’ve made my art project so difficult, Jungkookie.”
The boy practically splutters at that, swiping his feet off the desk to swing around in his chair and face him, prompting, “What? Why? I thought I was helping!”
Taehyung grins, virtual grease building up inside of him just looking at this boy.
“Because I’ll never create something as beautiful as you.”
The Top Ten All-Time Favourite Things of Kim Taehyung:
10. Jeon Jungkook blushing.
9. Jeon Jungkook’s face turning red in embarrassment.
8. When his boyfriend blushes.
7. Blood surfacing in the face of Jeon Ju- ah, you get where this is going.
1. Jeon Jungkook (particularly when blushing.)
Jungkook lightly slaps his arm, nose crinkling with half-cringe as he laughs until his cheeks tinge pink. Taehyung catches his hand as it trails down his arm after its brutal attack, and interlaces their fingers together – who needs to hold a pencil when you can hold both of your hot boyfriend’s hands?
“Seriously,” Taehyung sighs, reminder of his own deadline reminding him how Jungkook’s doing with his and how much better he is at life in general as he stresses, “I don’t know how you’re on top of things like, what the fuck, Kook? A physics final, a photography project and a dance recital – yet you’re still here every day babysitting me.”
Jungkook gives both of his hands a squeeze as his eyes drift across the opposite wall, deadpanning, “I’m part cyborg.”
“Please exterminate me.”
“I said cyborg not Dalek,” He tells him but he laughs bright and loudly anyway – mostly out of sympathy for how melted Taehyung’s brain has gotten, probably.
“But, seriously, Tae – you’re stressed. And tired. And about to overdose on sugar and/or caffeine.”
True, true and already starting.
“Point?” He asks bluntly, making the other boy shake his head with a tinker of affection but also a large amount of concern.
“My roommate’s out for the next couple of days – housed himself in the music department – so, why don’t you come back to mine for a while? Have a break.”
“What’s on the agenda?” He asks as the older boy disconnects their hands and starts cleaning up Taehyung’s supplies of his own accord, having apparently decided for him.
“Well,” he says, snapping the lid back onto a bottle of acrylic, sneaking a scan at the older boy and suggesting, “getting the paint out of your hair before it goes matted-,”
“-Getting steamy in the shower,” Taehyung cuts in with an even greasier than earlier wink, “I see your angle here, Jeon.”
The younger boy snorts, but politely ignores him as he dumps out the leftover globs of paint swirled into a vomitty-green colour on his palette.
“And we could order food and watch a movie-,”
“Netflix and chill? Really?”
He half-laughs, half-chokes this time, mid-cleaning and whipping around to point at him with a rather unthreatening paintbrush, whining, “Shut up! Fine, how about you borrow one of my hoodies and you can take a nap. I’ll even rub your back until you fall asleep if you want.”
Jeon Jungkook is boyfriend of the year, trying to make things sound as cute and wholesome as possible, even with the older boy’s teasing.
Unfortunately, Taehyung isn’t done yet.
“Undressing and in bed, how convenient.”
“Okay,” Jungkook decides, giving him a coyish look out of the corner of his eye as he stacks the paintbrushes in their pot, “I think you’re the one with the angle.”
Yet, Taehyung shakes his head at him, staying adamant when he says, “If anyone here has an angle, it’s you. Know why?”
Drum roll, please.
“’Cause you’re acute.”
Three seconds pass in which Jungkook simply blinks at him. Then, he breaks out into waves of hyena laughter, steadying himself on the table with his hands as he cackles with most of his body.
Could be worse, he could be like Jimin who literally laughs with all of his body, bending into weird shapes apparently subconsciously and Taehyung has seen him fall over so many times because of it.
Once he finally recovers, he looks up through laugh-tearing eyes and swears, “You’re the dorkiest fucking boyfriend in the world.”
And later, as if breaking in their new boyfriend awards, they do shower and watch a movie and nap – all sorts of angles wedged in amongst it.
“That… wasn’t supposed to be a sex joke,” Taehyung promises when he’s recounting the event to his best friend in the whole wide world the next afternoon.
“Yes it was, you heathen,” Jimin says with a sour expression and obvious shudder to which the other man simply shrugs.
Maybe it was. Sue him.
“Chim, how do I arrange all of these?” He asks, catching the man coming out of the kitchen after a search for food or… a sense of purpose maybe, judging by the washed-out aura represented by his greasy-ass bangs and grubby sweatpants. A general eugh feeling about him that could only have resulted from non-stop dance practice, a physics final and not seeing Min Yoongi in three days.
“The what now?” He asks, and Taehyung would tut at him and probably tell him he looks like the moldy pasta welded onto the bottom of the cooking pot they haven’t bothered to clean out since their four AM pastadventure last week if he didn’t kind of relate a lot.
Besides, the guy did promise to help him out with all of this on the condition that he does not tell him another single detail about Jeon Jungkook In Bed™ for the rest of their lives.
A small price to pay. He’s just been grossing out Seokjin instead.
“My project,” Taehyung says, gesturing to the mess of paper and canvas and one failed sculpture that he’s putting in anyway that’s swallowed up the entirety of their living area floor, “I’ve got all the analytical stuff down but I don’t know what order to put the pieces in.”
Curse the him that had the easy ability to be distracted by fish when he was going to sort this all out months ago.
Jimin’s eyes lazily scan over the collection, and he seems to snap out a little of his haze then, popping open the bag of chips in his hand and stuffing too many into his mouth before he mumbles, “Huh, lemmeh seeth,” around the mess of corn tortilla mush.
“Ew,” He snaps, grabbing the man’s wrist before he can touch one of his murals, “get your nasty ass Dorito Dust fingers away from my art.”
Jimin makes a face, like he’s the unreasonable one, and pulls back his wrist from Taehyung’s grip, making a show of licking all five fingertips clean before waving the tiny appendages back at him with a smirk.
“All good, see?”
“Nuh-uh, cheese fingers.”
“Maybe I should go find a best friend that appreciates my cheese fingers and not help you.”
Taehyung wants to tell him that he’ll literally be looking for the rest of his life but he doesn’t have time for that, just grabs his friend’s elbow, saying, “Okay, no, come back – what do I do?”
Jimin is by no means an artist (connoisseur of drawing sharpie dicks over Taehyung’s notebooks in high school, maybe,) but he has eyes, whereas Taehyung’s are clouded over by lack of sleep and the inability to look at his own art and see it as art, instead of his art.
In short, even his cheesy-fingered friend is better than him in this situation.
“I don’t know, Tae,” Jimin says earnestly, but not without consideration, “Why don’t you… just… put it in the order of what feels right. Chronological, maybe.”
“Of when I made them? I don’t know, it’s not really all that interesting,” he says, thinking back to just how many times he’s chucked them in like that over the years – even back in high school. Usually it works, but this time… this project feels different – like that wouldn’t do it justice. Wouldn’t portray its meaning.
Not that it actually has a meaning. He’s hoping Kang’ll pull something out of his ass to give it one.
“Then, how about in order of when you took the photos? At least as a starting point. Anything that doesn’t feel right, you can move yourself.”
He pauses. He hadn’t actually considered that. He didn’t use the photos horrifically out of order, but in the middle, things got a little jumbled – he was spending so much time with Jungkook that he just drew whatever was handy, not necessarily in the order he took them.
“Good idea, cheese fingers.”
Jimin scoffs, flips him off with one hand, the other shoveling more chips into his mouth.
“You like this cheese finger?”
Taehyung is sweating balls.
After a very, very long month of trying not to get distracted by his boyfriend and his boyfriend’s face and lips and stupid jokes and general… presence… he has finally, finally reached the point that all art students love more than anything else in the world: handing in your work with the mentality of ‘oh well, I did what I could – I’ll just copy Jackson Pollock if it doesn’t work out.’
He’s talked to many other students this morning – trust him, it’s mutual.
But he is sweating balls because it’s not just a matter of handing it into the examiner and going straight home to chug five litres of Kool-Aid and hopefully pass out from a sugar rush until he gets his mark back - he has to watch Kang go through it first, too.
A final check in which you have no time to actually do anything after, but have to live with the fact that any criticism can’t be fixed and you can rot from it inside-out until the results come in.
“You’re dramatic,” Yoongi told him earlier, lazily polishing the lens of his camera for an indistinguishable reason because he’s long finished taking pictures for his project. He was probably just trying to non-creepily take pictures of Jimin, instead.
“Of course, I’m dramatic, Yoongi. Art is dramatic.”
“Are fish dramatic, too?” Jimin asked from where he’d taken purchase reading a magazine with his head in Yoongi’s lap. No actual curiosity at all in his question, of course, 100% mockery.
“No,” Taehyung replied, only half joking when he said, “fish are superior to humans in every way.”
They kind of are. They don’t pollute the oceans. They don’t start wars. They don’t give stupid deadlines to easily-distracted artists.
“Oh, so you are still a fish nerd,” Yoongi noted, looking up from his camera for 0.2 seconds just to give him that good old Min Yoongi teasing smirk.
“Casual fan,” He corrected. After all, he hasn’t been keeping up on the forums, or watching all the new documentaries.
Just five. In the last week. Not that many.
“What do you stan now?” Seokjin asked, knowing very well about Taehyung’s obsessive tendencies from having to live with him living through them. He can’t just like things, he has to completely encompass himself in one thing until it’s time to move onto another thing.
“Me,” Jungkook said with understandable confidence, barely even bothering to open his eyes because he finds Taehyung’s shoulder way too comfortable to lean on, supposedly.
“He’s not wrong,” He told them, and got the feeling that, this time, there won’t be any ‘moving on’ to something else.
Kang clears his throat and Taehyung looks back down at the table to see all of his pieces suddenly laid out and flicked through and wow, he spaced out bad. Always does when Jungkook’s thrown in the mix.
“Wh-what do you think?” He asks, because the man has this strange look on his face that looks a little surprised and he’s really hoping it’s not because it’s so awful he’s genuinely shocked.
“I… I’m impressed, Taehyung. I’m really very impressed.”
“You know, when you came to me in your first year, I thought you’d never actually become an artist-,”
“But this? It shows you always had it in you. And the story. It really has such a strong narrative to it.”
Remind him to thank Jimin for suggesting putting it into that order. Buy him more chips – maybe some baby wipes, too.
But Kang nods, apparently very aware of this narrative that Taehyung is not and he suddenly understands how all those writers they studied in English back in high school probably felt having their poems and stories given all these random, deep meanings they didn’t intend.
“At the start, it’s like the viewer has an interest in the subject, right? From the roughness of the pencil sketch – the pen… the marker. It’s mostly outlines. It’s loose. Raw, rash. Unsure but hasty and then, with the layering of the acrylics, the misplaced colour, the surprise on his face… It’s all very adolescent and impulsive.”
Taehyung never thought about it like that. He just… used whatever felt right… did whatever his hands decided to do.
“But then, you start to use softer mediums here, lighter, delicate colours. There’s less contrast with the chalk pastels and the way he’s smiling at nothing – almost shy - it seems like the interest turns into something more intimate… maybe even mutually.”
He swallows, doesn’t know why he feels his face heat up except is it that obvious?
“You can see the look in his eyes change too, can’t you?”
He can. He really can.
“And then… your final piece shows it so clear, the whole message. It’s the development of love, right?”
Taehyung almost chokes.
“Love,” he rattles, mouth having lost all of its moisture in one instant, but Kang doesn’t seem to notice, nodding enthusiastically before he claps him on the back and Taehyung feels as if he might fall over if he does it again as he says, “Amazing project, Taehyung, I don’t know how you managed to imitate human emotion, such a… unique journey so well. It’s like it’s real! I really don’t know how you did it.”
His knees keep shaking.
He’s standing outside the dance studio entrance, trying to calm himself down from the revelation thrust upon him by his art teacher that he is very in love and his goddamn knees are not letting that happen.
“Hyung! How’d it go?!”
“Kang really liked it. He, uh… he said it was original and… will probably score really well.”
“That’s awesome! Shit, guess all the caffeine crashes were worth it, huh?”
All of them except the one that hit him just as he was walking down the stairs in his dorm building and earned him a nasty bruise on, oh, just about everywhere.
“I wish I got to see it properly before you sent it off, though. What bullshit did Kang make for the theme of it? Did he give you something like you hoped he would?”
“Yeah, uh…” you know, just the way I feel about you and all, “He said that it seemed to follow the development of…. Love.”
Jungkook’s brow knits together at that, and he confusedly repeats, “Love?” and Taehyung kind of considers not saying any more but then his mouth’s like fuck no, son let’s get this over with, and he adds, “How… the viewer and the subject seemed to fall in love.”
The younger boy stares at him, eyes wide and unblinking, a tint of pink over his face that Taehyung’s fairly certain isn’t from practice because Jungkook blushes four hundred times a day and it’s fantastic as he mumbles, “R-really… that’s-,”
“-And I was thinking…”
“That maybe he was wrong.”
Jungkook’s expression crumbles, lip practically quivering and the reaction in itself makes Taehyung’s heart skip six thousand beats in a row, because out falls a soft, “Oh,” from the boy’s mouth.
“Maybe the viewer didn’t fall in love…” Jungkook’s mouth opens, maybe going to agree and run off like he might’ve when they first met, but Taehyung cuts him off before he can.
“Maybe the artist did.”
Taehyung laughs at that, because, God, here he was thinking he was dense for not picking up on Jungkook’s feelings all of this year, but nope – his boyfriend is there too.
“I… I think I’m in love with you, Kook.”
“Fuck,” he swears, face glowing with the prettiest amalgamation of shades no painting could ever imitate, “I love you too, I-,”
But he doesn’t finish his sentence, because he yanks the older boy to him by the back of his neck, crushing their lips together hastily and a little painfully but it’s perfect. And they’ve kissed a thousand times by now (they work fast) but this, this feels better than any other. He feels the younger’s heart in it, the electricity soaring through them. He tastes the saltiness of dance-sweat on the boy’s upper lip and is not in the slightest grossed out, just like Jungkook doesn’t say anything about the taste of paint water on the elder’s tongue.
It was an accident, by the way, he didn’t just drink it.
They pull back and Taehyung just looks, looks right at the boy in love with him and thinks about how much better it is seeing this in real life, not on a canvas. Goddamn Monet couldn’t even get this amount of beauty right.
“You fell for me because of my pick-up lines, right?” Taehyung, mood-killer extraordinaire asks.
But luckily, his boyfriend is every bit the huge nerd that he is, and he snorts at the question, agreeing, “Yeah, I think the angelfish one really got me.”
Taehyung smirks at that, deciding to take the opportunity for one last joke before he really does run out of them.
“Well then, come over here and I just might cast you a line…”
The younger boy slaps a hand to his face and groans into it, but lets Taehyung pull him to his chest by his waist and peel off the extremity to kiss him gently on the lips again, anyway.
Wait, wait - no.