When you hate someone, it starts being about the little things.
Like normally, Taehyung probably wouldn’t think twice about someone not holding the door for him, but because it’s Jungkook who does it, suddenly it’s suddenly the biggest offense committed against him. Possibly ever.
Of course he doesn’t say anything and just stews about it instead as he tosses his bag on his couch and taps the trackpad on his laptop to wake it up. If Taehyung’s ever learned anything from group project work from his university education, it’s that you don’t want to piss off someone you actually want to get something from.
Thanks college, for broadening his horizons.
In this case, that “something” that he wanted from Jungkook was signing off on Remember Me. And if Taehyung was lucky and Jungkook was feeling cooperative, they could possibly knock out the recording as well.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t a pipe dream goal. It’s happened before, a few times, just never on a title track.
Taehyung takes a deep breath he opens the file and immediately starts spitting disclaimers, “So it's not complete, there's some things that are off, also the bridge needs fixing, and there’s an underlying drum beat that I haven’t—”
“Just go already?” Jungkook flicks a hand in his direction, head slumped on the other, upmost boredom written all over his face. “I’ve got other things to do.”
Taehyung was nervous. After Jungkook’s previous comment on his vocal stability, Taehyung had been working on his voice more than he’d like to admit. Somehow, through a lot of begging and rain-checked coffees, he had convinced their best in-house vocal coach to give him special after-hours lessons. And so, unbeknownst to Jungkook, playing the song meant more to Taehyung than just getting the song approved, he wanted Jungkook to have nothing negative to say about his vocals.
So it’s not that he wants validation from Jungkook, okay? This is just a benchmark for improvement. Whatever that means.
He hits play and immediately looks down at the floor and picks at the hem of his pants. Jungkook’s silent for the duration the whole song, swivel chair creaking slightly as he swings back and forth in it.
Then immediately after it’s over, he speaks.
“Yeah,” Jungkook shrugs. “It works.”
“That’s it?” Taehyung snipes before he can contain himself.
“Yeah?” Jungkook looks up as he picks his nails. “I mean it’s like a standard summer hit. The beat is nice, I guess. Oh and your vocals got a lot better.”
“That wasn’t me—” Taehyung feels his face heat up as he impulsively lies.
“Yeah. It was,” Jungkook rolls his eyes at him. “Even though you pitched it, I can tell by your pronunciation. Were you taking lessons? You improved pretty fast.”
“I, yeah. I had to beg Luna for lessons. I owe her about 10 coffee dates now.”
“Luna? Really?” Jungkook snorts as he fidgets with his shorts. “You could have just asked me, you know.”
It’s a crazy statement for a couple of reasons including their current nemesis status and, well, the fact that Jungkook had vastly more valuable things to do, and his eyes seem to widen with realization at the inconsistency of his personality the second Taehyung chokes out, “Um.”
“So, um, recording? Let’s record?” Jungkook stands up abruptly. “I can do that now. I have some time.”
“Oh, yeah,” Taehyung points to the door. “We can use that sound booth. How long do you need to practice?”
“Give me half an hour,” and Jungkook disappears into the room.
Jungkook seems distracted by something as he sings, and so maybe it’s that swirled with a lack of discipline that causes him to sound like he was reading off something mundane, like a grocery list.
“Stop, stop, stop,” Taehyung waves his hand for what’s probably the 14th time. “You’re singing monotone and with zero expression, it's putting me to sleep. Come on," Taehyung snaps his fingers. "Focus Jungkook.”
“I’m fucking trying,” Jungkook grabs a fistfull of his hair in frustration.
“Just like,” Taehyung drums his fingers near his MIDI. “Sing it like you would have to your girlfriend. Or boyfriend. Or whatever, significant other, this is a judgement free zone. Or more like a judgement apathy zone.”
“Oh, uh,” Jungkook freezes. “I don’t—”
“Don’t tell me you’ve never gone out with someone,” Taehyung deadpans. “I won’t believe you. It’s an animal kingdom out there.”
“No, it’s just, it’s uhm, been a while,” Jungkook squirms.
“I’m not the public, you don’t have to lie. Or even tell me, I really can’t work up a fuck to give.”
“I’m telling the truth,” Jungkook insists. “I mean I go on dates, and like I, like—you know—but—”
“Excellent,” Taehyung flips through the lyric sheet. “That works. This is all generic bullshit, and I can say this as the lyricist. I mean, come on: You’re my everything. I want to you to stay, here with me. When it’s over, I want you to remember me, remember me, and so on, ten more times. There’s some situation you’ve gotta be able to apply this to.”
“I mean those lyrics sound completely meaningless, full offense intended,” Jungkook glares. “It’s hard to sing it with any sort of sincere feeling.”
“That’s the point, it’s a pop track,” Taehyung rolls his eyes. “It’s non-specific enough where anyone can relate to it if they want to. So do the same.”
“Relate to it,” Taehyung sighs, “You’ve got to be interested in someone.”
Jungkook’s blush is an interesting thing to watch.
“Oh?” Taehyung raises a brow. “Now just imagine you’re singing to that person, and channel those emotions while you sing. Ignore the words for the most part, just capture the feeling.”
“Try harder? I think you’re just getting nervous,” Taehyung sighs. “Relax a bit, and let’s start from the top.”
“Okay,” Jungkook gets up and stretches. “Give me a moment.”
After a few deep breaths, he tries again and, well, nails it. And then he’s out of the studio as soon as Taehyung gives the cue, bolting out the door with his backpack without so much as a goodbye.
As Taehyung’s sound mixing the track later, adjusting beats and adding the final touches, inadvertently listening to the way Jungkook’s voice cascades with melancholy over runs again and again, he can’t help but wonder who was able to draw that much emotion out of his voice. It was natural curiosity, right, like what kind of person did it take to soften a douchebag’s heart?
In any case, clearly, Jungkook cherished that individual a lot.
The next few weeks are a flurry of activity, as everyone associated with the release rushes to complete the album.
Jimin's tearing out his hair over the choreography, he lets Taehyung know over a cup of coffee.
"Normally, working with Jungkook is great—"
"I would like to raise an objection," Taehyung interjects.
"—on the dance side," Jimin qualifies. "But this time, upper management really wants me to incorporate new trainees. Did you know they're releasing a new group in October?"
"News to me, but not surprised."
"Same, anyway they're under-qualified to dance at a debut stage. They're completely sloppy and get this, they get wiped out after Remember Me. That's the first song! And even worse, they're cocky, like being associated with BigCube makes them celebrities already, it's so, the disrespect, it's so, ugh—"
Jungkook, by some grace of the industry gods, does not give Taehyung that much trouble this time around. And he wonders if it’s because Jungkook’s stretched a little thin this time. One of the major music programs agreed to give him a debut special stage, and so instead of the two song load he would normally have had to prepare, he's had to prepare for five.
Surprisingly, Jungkook finds time for his album. And maybe it’s a requirement, because the marketing team recommended he try to sell himself as a producer-dol this time around. Normally that meant idols would write lyrics for a verse or two, send it in remotely, and Taehyung would tweak them to fit the song. So it catches Taehyung by surprise when he hears a knock on his door and finds Jungkook warily peering around the doorframe.
“Hey,” he says, fidgeting, the bags under his eyes apparent even under dim lighting. “Can I come in?”
“I wanna help.”
“Song composing. I want to learn.”
Taehyung blinks, “Uh, sure. Pull up a chair. Maybe just watch me today? It’s a little complicated, and honestly watching is faster than me verbally telling you how.”
And Jungkook diligently complies. He comes back the next day, and the next, until it becomes a routine. He usually only shows up for about an hour at a time, Taehyung’s not really sure what he gets out of it, but Jungkook keeps out of his hair and so he finds he doesn’t mind it. He’s got larger things to worry about, anyway.
They talk sometimes, about random things, mostly because Taehyung’s got a condition where he can’t stay quiet for more than a few minutes. And he finds that Jungkook’s actually somewhat fun to converse with because he’s got interesting opinions and they share more than a few common interests. Somewhere along the way the hate Taehyung used to feel any time he saw Jungkook’s face simmers down to a cordial tolerance. And while he’d never say he'd ever want to explicitly spend time with Jungkook, he does find himself looking forward to their daily meetups.
Anybody is pretty much better than nobody. It gets lonely in the studio, you know.
At some point, he sees Jungkook itching to play with the MIDI and digs out an old one and points him to an old computer. It takes more than a week, and in what feels like an applied case of the infinite monkey theorem, Jungkook manages to produce an underlying drumline for the title track that’s of passing quality. It’s pretty close to the standard kick-snare, and while it’s not terribly creative, it works. And honestly, for a first effort, Taehyung’s impressed. He includes it and lets the marketing team know, fans, after all, love singer-songwriters and this was enough to qualify.
The only real surprise that happens is Taehyung coming back from the bathroom to find Jungkook listening to a personal project piece he forgot he had left on his old computer. It was titled Cozy Conversations, and it was an experimental Folk piece he had written after dreaming of a beat. Although at the time he had worked on it pretty extensively back when he was gearing up for a potential solo run himself, he had never shown anyone it (honestly he had forgotten it existed), and the embarrassment hits him almost immediately.
“Where did you find that?” Taehyung reaches over Jungkook’s shoulder and hits the pause button.
“On the desktop,” Jungkook knocks Taehyung’s hand away and presses play again. “Did you write this?”
“Yeah,” Taehyung presses pause again. “But it’s shitty, so I wouldn’t listen to it.”
“Stop, I want to hear,” Jungkook hits play again and Taehyung’s left to awkwardly squirm as Jungkook laces his fingers together and bobs his head to the music.
“So?” Taehyung asks, nervously, hand resting on the back of Jungkook’s chair.
“It’s good, I like this. Could I,” Jungkook pauses. “Use this on my album?”
“You heard me,” Jungkook taps his fingers against the desk. “I could sing over it, make it into a duet thing. I actually like this song a lot.”
“Oh, um, yeah,” Taehyung scratches his ear and tries to stop his expression from revealing that this exchange actually meant quite a bit to him. His face heats up anyway, and he uses his hand to try to cover it, “Clear it with Jin, but I’m fine with it.”
Jin approves, and Jungkook records over it and adds a few of his own lyrics. It sounds great when Taehyung hears it, their voices match surprisingly well. And Taehyung has high hopes when he sends it off to the producer board.
They like it, a lot actually, and approve of it almost instantly. But they also point out that the tone doesn’t match the rest of the album, a singular folk song on a dance-heavy tracklist. And so it’s decided that it’ll be added as a hidden track, a gift for fans for purchasing the album.
They take it a step further and suggest taking Taehyung’s vocals off of the track. A few reasons fly behind it, including the emphasis should be on Jungkook and Taehyung’s vocal color was unorthodox in a not-so-public-friendly way. And honestly, Taehyung’s so used to getting run over and put down by decision-making boards he doesn’t even think twice when he stammers out his verbal agreement.
Someone else, later down the road intervenes, and the final version includes Taehyung’s voice, although pitched up quite a bit, to his surprise.
He finds out from Jin that it was Jungkook who had put his foot down. Maybe, Taehyung begins to think, he wasn’t such a bad guy after all.
Remember Me, the song and the album, drops with much fanfare. The fans go crazy over it, and the single enters the charts at number one and stays there for a personal best of two weeks. It beats out a full house with some pretty solid acts with strong fandoms to boot, and that’s when Taehyung knows he’s truly made a public-friendly hit. It’s great, he’s bombarded with congratulatory texts, but Taehyung honestly feels a little bit empty about it because he’s pretty sure the weight of Jungkook’s name was doing most of the hard carrying.
At this point, Jungkook’s at the level where he can probably get a Top 40 hit with a five second soundbite where he just farts in a can. (Speaking of which, Taehyung just had a new idea for Jungkook’s next single: Breezin’.)
The music critics are divided on it. The ones that give actual critiques hate it more or less (5/10, it’s a snooze of a song), but they’re more inclined to unorthodox indie and hip hop anyway and Taehyung’s never seen a pop tune get higher than a 7. The EDM blogs are conflicted and oscillate between calling it a well-executed track (9/10) and criticizing the fact that tropical house was a summer genre pop copout and did nothing to move house music forward (7.5/10). The pop magazines rave about it (11/10, Jungkook’s best song yet), but the writers tended to be brown nosers looking to appeal to the most popular opinion of the minute and Taehyung’s never seen a song get lower than an 8.5.
The consensus? If you love generic EDM and/or Jungkook, you’re probably going to love this song. If you don’t, it’s not changing any hearts or minds.
Taehyung’s at peace with it. At the end of the day, the royalties are amazing, and Taehyung puts himself on the waitlist for the newest exclusive electric sports car and treats everyone in the agency, from the CEO to the sound guys to the cleaning staff, to a congratulatory dinner where he books out an entire Michelin star restaurant for the night.
The vibe is great, everyone knows the company is on the rise, and Taehyung probably gets a few hundred pats on the back. He gets commended by upper management, roughly thirty or so forgettable trainees introduce themselves to him, Namjoon keeps refilling his drinks, Yoongi pushes his face into a cake, Jin videocalls in, Hoseok pops champagne a little too close to his face, and Jimin boasts about him to anyone willing to listen.
Jungkook does not show up, but it’s a show night and so Taehyung’s hardly surprised. What does surprise him is the apology text Jungkook sends his way.
Can’t make it to the thing
MuBank appearance tonight
Thanks for the invite though
Come thru next time
Jimin reads the exchange over his shoulder, and when Taehyung asks what time MuBank’s on that night, he tells him 11pm, an amused grin decorating his face.
“He really fixes up for the cameras well,” Jimin comments after Taehyung flips to the channel with MuBank to catch Jungkook’s debut stage. “From punchable fuckboy to idol heartthrob in less than three hours. It’s amazing what stylists and image coaches can do.”
They’re back at Taehyung’s apartment, a glitzy flat in the heart of Gangnam, lounging on his custom-made couch as they watch the show. They catch Jungkook right when he’s in the middle of a side-stage interview, shiny and bright, reciting pre-planned answers awkwardly as Relevant Teen Actress of the Year (RTAOTY) giggles next to him. Taehyung can tell that her words are scripted, but her interest in Jungkook is not, and for some reason the giggles, the glances, the blush, it all kind of bothers him.
The fact that it bothers him, well, also kind of bothers him.
“Boo,” Taehyung calls to the screen, cupping a hand around his mouth as he drapes himself over the couch’s armrest and snaps a unflattering pic of Jungkook with SNOW. He mutters, as he captions it (REMEMBRE MEH) and sends it to everyone relevant on his list. “Save yourself, he’s an asshole.”
“Why did you send something to me? I’m sitting right here,” Jimin shakes his head at him.
“Just open it.”
Jimin does and chokes on his laugh, “Oh this is beautiful, I’m sending it to Jin.”
“So Jungkook,” RTAOTY giggles again, beautifully manicured fingers covering her lips. She’s really pretty, and Taehyung’s sure Jungkook notices, “I heard you helped produce parts of your album.”
Jungkook nods and gives the camera his best classic closed-lip grin, “I did.”
Both Jimin and Taehyung erupt in laughter at that.
“Okay, okay,” Taehyung wheezes. “He did actually contribute a beat here and there, got to give him some credit.”
“Oh he did? Here I was thinking that just meant adding like a line to a song.”
“Well, he did that too.” Taehyung snickers into his curled fist as Jungkook performs his “skill,” a shitty impression of some old-timey actor that really only required a specific face contortion and lowering your voice a few octaves. Honestly, though, if they weren't self-proclaimed nemsises, he probably would have found it cute.
“Wow that was amazing,” RTAOTY claps, a little more enthusiastically than necessary. God fucking damn, why was this bothering Taehyung so much, “So what’s your favorite song off the album?”
“I’m putting my money on Remember Me,” Taehyung points at the screen and yawns. “His team really wants to cement it in the weekly Top 5.”
“The followup’s fair game too,” Jimin looks up from his phone. “Isn’t he performing Look Here today too?”
“Oh yeah. It’s slipping out of the streaming Top 20. I could see it happening.”
"It’s the hidden track, Cozy Conversations.”
Taehyung’s jaw drops.
“It was written by TAE, and really it’s so good it should have been the title. But, it didn’t match the themes of the rest of the album, so I decided to keep it as a little treat for fans. It’s a slower song than what I usually put out, but I hope people enjoy it as much as I have.”
“Can you sing a bit for us?”
“Dang,” Jimin whistles and Jungkook belts a few lines. “Well that came out of left field. And he gave you a shoutout.”
“There’s a reasonable explanation,” Taehyung immediately realizes. “They want to sell more albums.”
“Oooh. Amazing!” The MC claps delicately and beams at Jungkook. “Thanks Jungkook, and good luck with your stage. We’ll be back after the commercials.”
Jimin mutters into his phone, “Compelling theory, I’m not sure that’s it.”
“How can you tell?”
“Jin’s freaking out right now, apparently Jungkook went rouge,” Jimin points at his phone. “He was supposed to say Remember Me, you were right with the whole Top 5 push.”
“Really?” Taehyung stares at the TV in confusion. “What is he trying to pull?”
“Who knows,” Jimin shrugs before snicker. “Hey it’s that chicken ad you’re obsessed with.”
“Park fucking Jimin I will end you.”
Jungkook’s stage for Remember Me is flawless, especially the chorus. It sends shivers down Taehyung’s spine, the way he looks at the camera and croons. It’s weird, but Taehyung’s really into it and if Jimin notices, he thankfully doesn’t give Taehyung shit for it.
And oddly, Taehyung can’t help by feel a bit of envy for the person Jungkook was singing it for.
Lmao you were watching?
My Mubank interview
Wait how did you know
Jin showed me that pic
You took of my face
During my interview
Oh shit really
I’m super sorry
Please don’t kill me
What? It’s fucking funny
Sorry not sorry then?
What’s your SNOW?
I want to add you
Oh, uh, I mean sure
But all I send are bad food pics
Or shitty pictures of ppl’s faces
Are you sure?
It’s very low quality
Just give me your goddamn username already
Okay, okay, sheesh
You can’t say I didn’t warn you