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(Maybe I Love You) We're Too Young For That

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The restaurant turns out to be one of those places with no sign that requires a reservation seven months in advance, has a national treasure of a head chef who cooks for world leaders every time they make a diplomatic stop in Seoul, serves eight courses of artfully arranged compositions of food that are smaller than the palm of his hand and look more like something that should be locked behind a glass case at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art than something Taehyung should be stuffing in his mouth and shitting out in about 24-72 hours.

So, basically super casual. Also, RIP his wallet.

Of course, Jungkook managed to get them a table within a day, one by a window overlooking the skyline no less, because he “knows a guy,” privileges of being about two degrees from all of Seoul’s elite, and Taehyung has never been struck harder than now about how the world is such a wide open place ripe for the picking for people with connections.

“So what do you think?” Jungkook asks after the fifth portion is placed in front of them, some sort of fish ensemble resting on a piece of rock that looked like someone had cleaved from its natural place in nature five minutes ago.

“It’s nice, like really. Everything looks like art,” Taehyung blinks down at the Jackson Pollack esque splattering of sauces as he tries to remember what region in Italy the waitress mentioned the olive on his plate hailed from. “How about you?”

“It’s great but,” Jungkook eats everything in three bites and winces as his stomach rumbles. “I, uh, might be slightly hungry after this. Practice was pretty brutal.”

“Yeah, me too,” Taehyung hesitates, Jimin will never let him live this down for this suggestion if he found out, but fuck it, he had a craving, “Wanna get a shitton of fried chicken when we drink? I just need to stuff my face with something and not feel bad about it.”

“We think alike.”

The mistake that Taehyung makes is that he says yes to the wine. Because he has a habit of guzzling anything that’s liquid and near his hand when he really gets into a conversation (also, when he’s gets nervous, not that he is right now, seriously). Which he proceeds to do with the pairings, finishing off every glass as he debates with Jungkook about the best Overwatch hero (Jungkook could spew all the bullshit he wants about how it’s not about the hero it’s about the player’s skills and preferences even though he still thinks it’s uncontestedly a tie between Widowmaker and McCree, and it won’t even rustle Taehyung’s belief that D.Va is by and far the best).

And so it’s not surprising that by the end he’s kinda shitfaced, snickering into the palm of his hand about something Jungkook said that was probably not even that funny as he signs off the check.

“How much did you even drink?” Jungkook takes Taehyung’s glass and tips it towards himself.

“All of it?” Taehyung frowns, wine lingering on his breath. “I’m kinda lightweight.”

“That explains it,” Jungkook gets up, chair legs scraping against the hardwood floor.

“I’m not that drunk,” Taehyung protests, tottering a bit when he follows Jungkook out the door.

“Whoa,” Jungkook quickly stabilizes Taehyung with a hand on his back. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Taehyung tries not to lean into his touch as they walk towards Jungkook’s car.

A young couple walks into view, and Jungkook immediately drops his hand and puts distance between them. Even though the two are clearly preoccupied with each other, Taehyung still pulls his facemask over his face for good measure. They pass without looking up, and Taehyung breathes a sigh of relief.

“So,” Jungkook says as Taehyung slides in the passenger seat and he starts up the car. “Where did you wanna go now?”

“Are we still gonna go drink?”

“If you want to,” Jungkook pulls out his phone, the glow of the screen lighting up his face in the dark.

“Sure,” Taehyung yawns, running a hand through his hair. “But maybe I should take a break first.”

“Can,” Jungkook shrugs. “Your choice”

“Know any good places to just chill at?”

“Yeah. Well, actually I haven’t been there before,” Jungkook starts some navigation app. “There’s a place along the river I wanna check out.”

“Is it one of your Top 10 Date spots?” Taehyung flicks his eyes over at Jungkook. “From the list?”  

“Maybe?” Jungkook looks over his shoulder as he pulls his car out of the parking spot.

“How can it be maybe,” Taehyung snickers, even though it’s not that funny. “It either is or isn’t.”

Jungkook looks out of the driver’s side window and mutters, “...okay, yeah it is.”

“Oh nice,” Taehyung leans back in the chair and watches the street lights as they pass by, eyelids growing heavy. “We can check it out in advance of your actual date.”

And Taehyung dozes off right before Jungkook can respond.

 

 

+++

 

Taehyung wakes up when Jungkook pulls over on some road and parks, tires crunching on gravel at what looks like a tree-lined park.

“I’m not asleep,” Taehyung sits up and blinks blearily.

“Sure,” Jungkook shakes his head as he gets out of the car. “You were out like a light.”

“Sorry, I’m a sleepy drunk,” Taehyung yawns as he steps out and shuts the door.

“I figured out that much,” Jungkook rubs his nose as he strides over to a park bench and plunks himself down.

“Detective JK, coming through,” Taehyung settles down next to him, hands fisted into his pockets as he leans back in the bench. The park is empty except for them, the only sounds except for their voices were the rustling of the trees in the wind, the gentle lapping of water from the river, and the rumbling of cars off in the distance.

“I try,” Jungkook kicks a rock. “So what do you think?”

“It’s super pretty,” Taehyung takes in the scene, a beautiful view of the river under falling red leaves with the city lights twinkling off in the near distance, swallows the faint bitterness and grins. “I’m sure whoever your date is will like it. And I say that confidently, without knowing anything about them.”

“Yeah,” Jungkook shakes a few leaves from his head and turns to Taehyung slinging his arm casually over the back of the bench, the lights sparkling in his eyes, the slightest hint of a smile curving the corners of his mouth. “I think so too.”

It feels a bit like a dream, the wine’s still in control, the wind feels warm, Jungkook’s lips look so appealing, and Taehyung’s so close, he blinks as Jungkook’s next words wash over him, lets his eyes drop down to Jungkook’s lips, and thinks about how it would be so easy to go for it, how it would just take one little lean to close the gap.

So he does.

Eyes fluttering closed, heart racing, he stops thinking about consequences for a split second and tilts his head and leans in until their lips touch.  It feels electrifying even through the haze of insobriety, and his thoughts start racing between a general range of things including, wow, this is nice, to Jungkook’s lips are as soft as fuck, to what the hell was he doing. The last point was a pretty good question so he leans back and cracks his eyes open to get a read on Jungkook's reaction.

And Jungkook’s sitting there, frozen, wide-eyed, brows furrowed, mouth gaping and growing redder by the second.

It’s cute, Taehyung gauges with half lidded eyes, heart beating loud in his ears, but it doesn’t exactly come across as a ringing endorsement. So he starts wheeling out the excuses to cover up his tracks.

“Sorry,” Taehyung raises a hand and curls his other white-knuckle tight around the edge of the bench. He throws in a giggle to add to the effect, “Honestly I’m quite drunk right now. My bad, just rolling with the mood.”

“The mood?” Jungkook thaws, speaking swiftly and slightly higher than normal. He looks around quickly, before leans in until he’s close, so close, too close, and Taehyung’s getting intoxicated by his cologne. “What does that mean?”

“I don’t know?” Taehyung giggles and pushes Jungkook away with a hand. “I’m having problems forming words, no wait, sentences? Correctly. Yeah. Ignore me, I’m not thinking.”

“Oh,” Jungkook blinks. “Okay?“

“Consider it practice for your date,” Taehyung giggles and goes on defense. “Here’s some advice, don’t gape after they go in for the kiss, you looked kinda dumb.”

“Oh shit I did?” Jungkook claps his face with his hands and snaps his mouth shut. “Shit.”  

“Second piece of advice,” Taehyung rubs his nose and taps Jungkook on the shoulder furthest away from him. “Always be on guard.”

“Huh?” Jungkook falls for it and looks over his shoulder in that direction. After a second, he covers his face with his hands, “Oh my god, I can’t believe I fell for that.”  

And Taehyung knows the idea he has is a bad one, but he can’t help himself. When Jungkook swings back to face him, Taehyung steals another kiss, this time off the corner of Jungkook’s mouth.

“Whoa,” Jungkook reels back in surprise, eyes widening again.

“Constant vigilance,” Taehyung snickers, because it’s funny, it’s a joke, and flicks the bottom of Jungkook’s chin. “Hope your date likes people who are kinda slow. Are you ever going to tell me who they are? I’m still curious.”

“Oh. My god. Ugh. Fuck. I,” Jungkook buries his face in his hands again, ears tomato red, and loses his next few words to mumbles “—reading things wrong, but,” Jungkook’s furiously blushing at this point, “Um yeah I’ll, I think, I’ll tell you. I’m in, no wait, fuck, um, restarting, how should I say this,” Jungkook takes a deep breath. “The person I’m i-interested in is—“

And suddenly Taehyung, fear seizing his chest, realizes he really doesn’t really want to know. From the way Jungkook looks totally out of his element, like a complete mess really, looking at the ground somewhere between his knees, flustered, red, hands clasped together, subtly shaking, it’s clear the individual of interest was taking up large swath of prime real estate in Jungkook’s heart. And perhaps even more clearly, there were no vacancies left for anyone else.

And it’s been such a fun night, he laments as he stretches, hands lacing together as he pulls his arms high above his head, he doesn’t really want to ruin it with the fallout from his own broken feelings. So he stands up abruptly, thankful that the alcohol is protecting his heart from his real looming emotions with a liquor-laced cushion, and pats Jungkook on the shoulder.

“It’s fine, you don’t have to tell me,” Taehyung cuts Jungkook off. And he grins for good measure to drive home that he’s totally cool, “Sorry I’ve been teasing you. I’ll stop now.”

“Wait,” Jungkook looks up from his hands, face still red, brows furrowed. “I mean—“

“You look super flustered, so worry about it,” Taehyung hopes his smile looks real and he shrugs. “Like I’ve just messing with you, honestly, I don’t really care about it.”

It’s a bald faced lie, but it’s for the better.

Some expression flashes across Jungkook’s face, but it’s gone before Taehyung can catch it and is quickly replaced with an easy smile. He pulls his facemask quickly over his face as a girl and her dog scuttle by, and looks down at his watch.

“...alright,” Jungkook mumbles into his mask. “Wanna go pretty soon?”

“Yeah,” he was starting to sober up, and Taehyung was really going to need more to get through this night. “Let’s go now.”

 

 

+++

 

“Hey, can Jimin hang with us too?” Taehyung asks as they’re speeding off towards some chimaek place in Hongdae. “ And a few of the other producers? Like RM, Yoongi, and Hoseok. I wouldn’t ask normally, but I did cancel on them last minute for this, and there’s a non-zero chance we’re going to run into them which is super awkward—”

“Oh yeah for sure,” Jungkook blinks. “You canceled for this? We could have just had dinner another day.”

“Yeah,” Taehyung scratches the back of his ear. “But this was more important.”

“It was?” Jungkook looks surprised.

“Yeah, it was an apology dinner right?”  

“Oh,” Jungkook nods, expression unreadable. “Right.”

“Yeah, oh and Jin might come too. They said they’ll meet us there.”

“Cool,” Jungkook props an arm against the car door, one hand guiding the wheel. “It’ll be fun to see them.”

 

 

+++

 

Chicken. Beer. Friends. The perfect recipe to get wasted. And Taehyung finds himself doing exactly that as he laughs like it’s the funniest thing in the world as Namjoon fucks up the counting game for the fifth time in a row and he drains half a glass in solidarity because his throat feels dry.

One of the fun parts about being drunk is that everything slows down, his breathing, his thoughts, his movements. He relaxes, the edges on the world dull, worries are pushed aside, and life melts into a pleasant blur as he exists and just takes everything in. Jin and Yoongi are bickering about company politics in the background, and Jimin’s trying to convince Jungkook to say his CF’s catch phrase (“Crispy and Delicious~”) as Hoseok just shakes his head at it all.

But Taehyung doesn’t care about any of that because the only thing that matters is Jungkook, sitting by his side, facemask covering his face, with his shoulder looking like a really prime pillow right about now. Taehyung thinks hard about just going for it, hard enough to not notice the way the glass in his hand was beginning to tip over onto the concrete below.

“Careful,” Jungkook mutters as he quickly swipes the pint in Taehyung hand and puts it on the table.

“Mmm,” Taehyung’s head flops to one side and he reaches towards the beer-filled glass with a grabby hand. “I want more though.”

“What pint are you on?”

“My…” Taehyung squints, a loopy grin set on his face. “...I forgot.”  

“Yeah, time to stop,” Jungkook smacks Taehyung’s hand away.

“Okay,” Taehyung pouts. He stares at Jungkook’s shoulder for a moment longer before he decides to finally just do it, dropping his head into the crook of Jungkook’s neck abruptly. It’s not soft, but it’s just the right height, and so it’s about as comfortable as Taehyung had imagined.

And of course they fit together like a missing pieces, or some sappy shit like that, even if Jungkook stiffens on contact.

“Are you tired?” Jungkook murmurs, shifting a bit.

“Yeah.”

“You can sleep if you want.”

“Good idea,” Taehyung lets his eyes droop.

He’s not sure how long he’s out for when he’s lightly shaken awake, but when he opens his eyes, the size of their group has doubled. To his surprise, quite a few trainees have randomly joined them, he sees Jihoon and gives him a slight wave before he closes his eyes again.

“Hey, Taehyung,” Jungkook’s jostling his shoulder, his facemask still covering his face. “We’re gonna head to Jimin’s place, we’re attracting too much attention.”

“What? Okay,” Taehyung sits up blearily. “Have they recognized you?”

“I don’t think so,” Jungkook’s eyes flick over to the crowd. All of the phones are trained on the trainees and Jimin, “I kept my mask on.”

“Okay,” Taehyung yawns and stands up. “How are we getting there?”

“Probably a cab,” Jungkook wearily looks around. “Gotta shake them off our trail.”  

 

 

+++

 

At some point, tranced by the moving lights, Taehyung falls asleep again. And he has what he passes off as an odd dream when he wakes up the next morning, slightly hungover and tucked in with a blanket on Jimin’s couch.

He was lying on that same couch in a setting that seemed to take place last night, eyes barely cracked open, listening passively to a conversation that seems crazy in the sobriety of the morning.

“So when’s the final evaluation?” Yoongi asked, nose stuck deep into his glass.

“Next Wednesday,” a trainee said, tapping his knees nervously.

“If you want any advice,” Yoongi claps Jimin and Jungkook on the shoulders. “You got two former BTD members here to answer any questions.”

“Jungkook’s a way better person to ask,” Jimin points. “I haven’t done this stuff since BTD disbanded.”

“What do you even do now anyway?” Jungkook turns to Jimin. “I feel like you’re just doing a bunch of random shit.”

“Officially I’m an Executive Creative Director,” Jimin sniffs. “It’s a very critical role that has responsibilities including—”

“Seems fake,” Jungkook cuts in.

“You seem fake.”

“Okay, you guys,” Hoseok smiles, aggressively sunny and bright. “Not in front of the trainees.”

“So, um,” Jihoon speaks up. “This is kind of generic, but what’s the best part of being an idol?”

“The fans,” Jungkook responds automatically.

“Textbook answer,” Namjoon holds out a thumbs up. “Nice.”

“It’s true,” Jungkook says defensively. “They made me who I am. I wouldn’t be anyone relevant without them.”

“Do you have any advice about evaluations? I guess I’m asking Yoongi specifically,” some trainee, Taehyung thinks his name is Daniel, suddenly asks.

“Do your best, pretty much,” Yoongi snorts. “Though if any of you are worried about your chances and want an edge, honestly follow Jihoon’s lead.”

“What do you mean?” Jihoon looks up.

“Buddy up with Taehyung,” Yoongi lifts his brows. “That guy can produce miracles.”

“Filters, guys,” Jin shakes his head. “We’re not supposed to give under the table advice.”

“No but, Yoongi’s right, if you were to say Jungkook’s fans made him into who he is,” Jimin laughs, glass clinking in the background. “Then you’d have to say Taehyung basically created him. He’s like, Jungkook’s god or something. He pretty much considers him as one anyway—“

“That’s way over-exaggerated. Also, shut up,” Jungkook hisses. “He’s like right there.”

Jimin cranes his neck, “Don’t worry, he’s passed out.”

“Why are you even bringing him up?” Jungkook glares.

“We’re turning this into an expose Jungkook night, that’s why,” Jimin whispers really loudly, hand cupped around his mouth and jabs a thumb in Jungkook’s direction. “If you guys didn’t know already, he’s Taehyung’s biggest fan.”

One of the trainees slaps Jihoon on the shoulder, and snickers, “Jungkook’s got competition here.”

“Could you not, Jimin,” Jungkook scoffs. “You’re making me sound like an obsessive.”

“You definitely idolized him as a trainee,” Hoseok coughs.

“Yeah, as a trainee. I was what, 15?”

Jin mutters something that Taehyung can’t quite hear and everyone except for Jungkook explodes with laughter.

“Whatever, that doesn’t matter,” Jimin waves a hand. “The point is, Jungkook probably wouldn’t be sitting here with us if it wasn’t for Taehyung,” Jimin holds his fingers an inch apart. “Did you guys know Jungkook was this close to not making it into BTD?”

The trainees shake their heads.

“He was like a mile from even being actually considered before Taehyung stepped in,” Yoongi snorts. “He had like no personality. And look at him now, the breakout member and BigCube’s biggest chance at cultivating a top star.”

“Jimin, Yoongi,” Jungkook reaches over whacks Jimin in the shoulder. “Could you guys not.”

“Why are you only hitting me?! Yoongi’s sitting right next to you,” Jimin complains as he squints. “At the end it was between him and one other guy, what was his name? I can’t remember.”

“Me neither,” Namjoon snorts into his glass. “But Taehyung calls him, or called him, Fuckface McGee.”

“Oh yeah.” Jimin scowls as he rubs his arm. “That piece of shit.”

“Didn’t that guy have a huge thing for Taehyung? That’s all I really remember about him,” Jin takes a sip before glancing over at Jungkook. He immediately bursts out laughing and points at Jungkook, “Look at his face right now.”

“He did, feels bad for Taehyung, man,” Jimin laughs and smacks Jungkook. “The only people he manages to attract are a bunch of weirdos—”

Jungkook punches Jimin in the arm.

“Honestly,” Yoongi shakes his head. “That was the most messed up shit though. Also felt hella bad for Taehyung.”

“What’d he even do?” Namjoon leans forward. “Taehyung never told me the specifics, I just know what he did ended up tanking Taehyung’s—“

“Now’s not the best time.” Hoseok frowns and waves a hand, “We’ll tell you later...”

Taehyung’s memory shorts out right about there, and he feels disoriented by how vivid and real it seems. But since his whole day is spent locked up in his studio, engrossed in engineering Breakout Suckup’s winter ballad solo debut title, it quickly slips from his thoughts and he forgets about it by the afternoon.

 

 

+++

 

It was mentioned previously that karma bit Fuckface in the ass, and that was the reason for his fall from idol grace.

Taehyung would like to correct the record on that one, because it was not so much a product of chance as the wording implies, as it was a deliberately orchestrated takedown. And what he means by that is that he, personally, hand-picked karma, trained him, and sicced him on Fuckface McGee’s career chances a few weeks before the final cut.

Of course he’d never do something like that now, he’s like, super zen and shit about life and stuff. The greatest revenge, he’s found, is living well, and damn is it a wholesome way to exist. So he tries to not go out of his way to mention this story, because he does, to some extent, feel a degree of guilt about it at the end of the day, and it was 50 shades of moral grey. But Jimin, from time to time, likes to trot it out as an example of Taehyung’s wilder days and point to it as the reason Taehyung was cemented at as high of a position in the company as he was.

Which is probably true, and at some point career heights can only be achieved by stepping on the shoulders of others and knocking people to the ground.

Which is especially true with jobs where there can only be one.

Not entirely tangent, but idolship, it turns out, tends to be one of those jobs. The advantage of a boy band, when assembled correctly, is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Each member, usually unable to succeed on their own as solo star because of some lacking trait(s)—singing, dancing, visuals, personality, age, hype—adds their unique traits and abilities to the group so that the machine that appeals to a broad(er) spectrum of people. It’s the classically known advantages of teamwork applied to music, and it turns out it works really well. And to create the most robust team, each member needs to contribute something unique enough, since duplicate archetypes will only end up cannibalizing each other’s popularity.

In other words, there can only be one cute member, and Fuckface McGee was currently far and beyond the frontrunner in that category. And Taehyung needed to knock him the fuck down.

It was just really unfortunate. But unsurprising. Fuckface was cute and charismatic when he wanted to be, and flawless at singing and dancing, which further reinforced his advantages in the eyes of the evaluators. At this point, he was all but a confirmed member, and by the way he was prancing around the practice room and greeting the staff like they were his best friends, he fucking knew it.

And that’s why Taehyung was here, roughly nine months before BTD’s official debut, slouching on a bench watching the weekly evaluations, scanning the crowd of trainee hopefuls as they currently execute a dance routine to some generic western EDM song with a longcon plan to enact revenge by dashing Fuckface’s hopes in one of the most painful ways possible.

He’s got some grievances, yeah.

The group’s an interesting bunch of twenty or so guys though. They’re all within the top tier among all of the trainees, in either singing, dancing, looks, prior fame, or nepotism, and scanning the crowd, it’s easy to pick out who is who. The frontrunners are easily identifiable. Including Fuckface and Jimin, there’s eight other guys out in the literal front with familiar names and familiar faces, each with a strong advocate behind them for a multitude of reasons that ranged from sheer talent to hailing from a chaebol family. Too bad there’s only five spots.

Fuckface makes eye contact at that moment and winks at him, and Taehyung does his best not to succumb to the flaring desire to drive his fist through the nearest wall. Jimin had only told him about what Fuckface had done only a few days ago, and if revenge was going to be as sweet as he wanted it to be, Taehyung was going to have to bide his time and pretend he knew nothing about it.

There were probably people out there who would give him the conventional wisdom 'don't dwell on it' or ‘find the silver linings' um coughHoseokcoughand proceed to basically hint that he should cool his jets or something. But Taehyung’s just really sick of people thinking they could try and screw him over with no consequences.

And the fact that Fuckface had apparently done it because he had a thing for Taehyung, oh man yeah Jimin had shown him all of the text receipts, had just made it even worse. It’s such a stupid reason, Taehyung fumes as he cracks a few knuckles on his left hand with his thumb, it’s not like he would have considered going out with Fuckface in the first place, but this was just drilling screws into an already interred coffin.

Like, sorry, Taehyung doesn’t dig backstabbing pieces of shit. It’s kind of a turn off, to be honest.

But he gives Fuckface a smile anyway, he needs to keep his cover, and tries keep the bile down at the way Fuckface runs a hand through his hair and smirks back. Then he continues to scan the crowd until he spots the person he came here to watch. He’s a small kid who hangs out in the back, almost dead last in the rankings and a couple of years younger than anyone else. He’s clearly skilled if he’s made it into this final consideration group, supposedly through stellar recommendations from the dance and vocal teachers if Jimin was to be believed, but during evaluations, at least the ones Taehyung’s been to, it doesn’t show. He’s nervous and timid, his voice wavers and he makes simple mistakes when he dances. He’s also the same archetype as Fuckface, the cute type, and honestly looks like he could be a distant younger cousin, which places him in a direct competition with Fuckface for a debut chance that he’s currently losing in a landslide.

Because, for what it’s worth, Fuckface is amazingly talented, at least toe-to-toe with Jimin, maybe even edging him out slightly with singing. That’s his thing, he’s been a ready-to-go model of an idol out of the box since he arrived here as a trainee years ago. And he quickly caught the evaluators’ eyes with his charisma, perfect Seoul accent, and his ability to perform. Their only reservation was his personality—brash, cocky, and conceited—which many were convinced could be trained out of him or at least suppressed enough in the remaining months. And Taehyung would probably have agreed up until recently. But now? He’s pretty much an irredeemable piece of shit. And Taehyung would like to make his eventual failure as painful as possible by trouncing him with the darkest horse he can find.

Speaking of which, Taehyung winces as the kid misses a step and stumbles over his Timbs, breaking the formation in a way he’s sure even Namjoon notices. The kid, clearly rattled, scrambles to get back into position and continues, a fraction of a beat off. Fuckface starts subtly laughing at him from the sidelines, and Taehyung hopes the kid doesn't notice. He manages to get back on tempo by the end, but it’s not enough, at least for the evaluator to Taehyung’s right as she shakes her head and ticks off some boxes off a sheet.

He needed some work, to say the least. On that, and also on the fact that the kid is also woefully, woefully shy.

It’s to the point where he clams up when someone asks him a question in front of an audience larger than five people, and it’s almost painful watching him eek out the least number of words possible to answer the question as he looks terrified out of his wits. Which is kind of what was happening now, as a dance choreographer calls him out specifically to ask him how much he’s practiced over the last week, stuttering with his satoori as he confuses hours with minutes, his hands clenching and unclenching as he corrects himself. He’s not going to lie, Taehyung may or may not see a bit of himself in the kid.

From snooping around, Taehyung’s found out that the general consensus among the decision board is that they’re not particularly impressed with him. And considering Yoongi keeps forgetting he even exists—

(“Hey Yoongi, do you know the name of the kid in the back?”

“Which one?”

“The one with the Timbs.”

“I’ve literally never seen him before. Is he new?”

“No, he’s been here for a few months.”

“Shit, really?”

“I’ll take that as a no.”)

—it’s pretty clear he’s currently not on the shortlist for BTD.

In other words, he’s perfect. A diamond in the rough buried deep in a backwater swamp, okay a bit of a hyperbole, but exactly what Taehyung’s looking for.

So when evals are over and the trainees are packing their bags, Taehyung brushes past Fuckface like he doesn’t even see him (“hey, you free—Taehyung, hey, I’m talking to you!”) and crouches down next to the kid.

“Hey,” Taehyung leans down and taps the kid on the shoulder. The kid whirls around in surprise, towel slung over his neck, and Taehyung grins, boxy and bright. “I don’t think we’ve met before.”

Up close, the kid doesn’t look like much either, features a little too big for his face, unchecked acne trailing across his skin, hair cut in a generic bowl shape. He probably has the makings of a visual in the future, since everyone here does, BigCube must have looked at his parents or something to get a gauge. But Taehyung’s not really into prepubescent teens and so honestly at the moment he can’t tell.

“Oh, um, hi?” The kid blinks, nervously adjusting his baseball cap, ears tipped with the faintest hint of pink.

“I just wanted to say I think you have a lot of potential, and so I just wanted to introduce myself,” Taehyung extends a hand and smiles gently, a bit like he how would approach a small dog. “I’m Taehyung.”

The kid looks down at his hand, quickly wipes his own on his shirt, and tentatively shakes it. His grip is limp, adding more to the overall pile of his unimpressive traits, and Taehyung mentally notes to train him out of that. Right after, Taehyung’s eyes flick down to the kid’s choice of clothes (an eyesore of a combo of some designer knockoffs and a basketball jersey), he fixes his choice of wardrobe.

Nine months until debut. He could make this happen.

“N-nice to meet ya,” The kid mumbles, staring at Taehyung with eyes opened wide, “Name’s Jungkook.”