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Taehyung’s urgent need for a job becomes apparent to him and everyone else when the third month of sleeping on his brother and his boyfriend’s couch starts. It’s not like Namjoon or Yoongi would ever kick him out, and it’s not like he feels unwelcome there—he doesn’t. But as much as he loves them, it’s impossible for it to feel like a home when he not only feels like he’s invading their privacy but also feels like he’s leeching off them.

“I just don’t get how you haven’t kicked me out yet,” he whines to them, once again complaining. He does it for the three of them since he knows Namjoon loves him too much and Yoongi probably doesn’t want to upset Namjoon. “I promise as soon as I get some money, I’ll fuck right off. I just don’t know what to do.”

During the last three months—and ever since he finished college, if he’s honest—Taehyung has been stumbling from one job to another, all of them shitty. First, a worker at a fast food chain. Then, a clerk at a store. For some reason, he’s unable to get a job in something he’s qualified for, something to do with education. Taehyung always told himself he’d end up working with children with special needs when he grew up, but now he doesn’t see that as clearly as he did before. Mostly, because no one fucking hires him.

“Because you’re my brother and I love you,” comes Namjoon’s reply. This conversation is one they have very often, the responses almost coming out on autopilot. Doesn’t mean Taehyung is not serious or honest about it, though. He does feel awful about this situation, it’s not like he wants to take advantage of Namjoon and Yoongi like this. “It’s not a bother. I’ll repeat it to you every single time; you’re always welcome here.”

“I need to find a new job now,” he complains. He never lasts long in those little jobs he gets because he hates them. But he doesn’t want to have Namjoon and Yoongi pay for his expenses, so he jumps from one place to another, quitting not too long after because it just isn’t for him. Taehyung knows he wants to work with children. “God, why can’t anyone just hire me yet?”

“Maybe you could try something else this time around,” Yoongi chips in then. “Something more along the line of the work you want, you know? Related to kids.”

Taehyung sighs, because he fucking wishes. He applies for every single education-related position he sees on the internet or in the newspapers, but his lack of experience or connections doesn’t make it easy for him. “I’ve tried everything, hyung.”

“Not everything,” Yoongi says then. “Listen, there’s this guy at my workplace who needs a babysitter, like, right now. And you need a job just as urgently. I know that babysitting is a little less than one expects after graduating, but… it could work until you find something else.”

Taehyung exhales harshly through his nose, thinking about it. Like Yoongi said, babysitting is not what someone studies for. It’s a job that teenagers all over the world do just to earn some extra money, but then again, there are people who babysit for a living. He knows that the kind of babysitting Yoongi is referring to is not the one-night kind, but something regular.

Straight away, it doesn’t sound awful. Nothing involving kids ever sounds awful to Taehyung, who enjoys their company just as much as they enjoy his. And, well—it’s exactly what Yoongi said. He could try this as another of his provisional jobs while he finds a position that goes more with what he studied. Until then, this is worth a shot. He’ll definitely enjoy it way more than he enjoyed making greasy burgers, that’s for sure.

Like Yoongi had said, it’s more along his line of work than any other thing he could be doing right now. And any experience he gets with kids will benefit him in the future, that’s for sure. Even if he wasn’t convinced at first, after thinking it through it, babysitting sounds like a great idea.

“Do you think the guy will mind that I’m young?” he asks then. He knows some people are a little funny about leaving their kids with younger people, dubbing them as less trusting and responsible. “And… will he mind that I’m a guy? Since most people usually want women.”

“I don’t think he’ll be too preoccupied with either of those factors,” Yoongi says, waving his hand as if to dismiss it. “Plus, like I said, he’s in desperate need of a babysitter; he told us about it the other day.”

Taehyung nods, then. He feels sorry that the poor guy is so desperate, but it does benefit him if it’s such an urgent matter. It means more probabilities of him being hired, after all. “It’s actually a very good idea,” he says, watching Yoongi’s mouth stretch into a gummy smile. “Do you think you could get me an interview with him or something?”

“I’ll talk to him tomorrow at work,” he says. “I’m sure it’ll work out this time around, Taehyung.”

“I hope it does,” he replies, with a sigh. He’s tired. Going from one shitty job to other is consuming him, and doing something he actually enjoys and is good at seems like… a breather. Exactly what he needs.

“It will.” This time it’s Namjoon who speaks, sliding down on the couch so Yoongi can wrap his arm around his shoulders. It’s not like Yoongi is a dwarf, but Namjoon is noticeably taller than him, and the fact he has to lower himself for this seems adorable to Taehyung. “Besides, he’d be dumb to reject a babysitter with a degree in education. There’s no one more suitable for the job if you ask me.”

“You’re my brother!” Taehyung replies then. Namjoon’s compliments make him feel happy, of course, but he knows that they partly come from the fact that they’re brothers and not only because of his skills. “Of course you’re going to think I’m his best option. Honestly, I would feel betrayed if you didn’t.”

Namjoon fondly rolls his eyes at that, and the three of them fall into playful banter and away from such conversation. Still, the thought lingers in Taehyung’s mind. He wants that job. He wants it so, so badly.

 

 

The day of the interview Taehyung makes sure he looks like a wholesome, respectable graduated young man before he leaves his brother’s home. It’s a Saturday morning since just like Yoongi, his co-worker only has weekends free.

Taehyung is not nervous. Well, maybe a little, but not enough for it to be worrisome. He has always taken pride in being able to remain calm in stressful situations, and he knows this will help him this time around. He wants to seem reliable to his future employer, like someone his child or children would be safe with. And being a nervous mess wouldn’t help his case.

He gets to the address Yoongi gave him, his co-worker’s house, right on time. He checks the apartment number on Yoongi’s text one last time before pressing the buzzer, looking into the camera.

Hello?” calls a distorted voice through the buzzer. Taehyung can’t make much out of it, just that it belongs to a male.

“It’s Taehyung!” he replies. There is a camera, yeah, but the people he’s meeting up with don’t know him—of course, he needs to introduce himself. “The babysitter.”

The strident noise of the door being unlocked sounds then and Taehyung pushes it open before walking to the elevator. It’s only now that he starts feeling a little more restless, but he’s sure part of it is excitement as well. He’s about to meet the person who might become his next boss, after all. Only this time, it’s a job he likes, so that’s why he’s feeling like this.

He takes a deep breath as the elevator goes up painstakingly slowly. When he’s finally there, his palms are clammy. Looking around himself, he finds the right apartment and stares at the wooden door for a moment before ringing the bell, convincing himself he can do this.

Taehyung doesn’t know what he was expecting. Maybe a middle-aged couple looking for someone to take care of their kids. Probably someone who looked more like a father and less like an older brother. The man standing on the other side of the door definitely looks younger than what Taehyung was expecting, probably around the same age as his brother and Yoongi, and also fairly attractive.

Taehyung’s preconceived idea of what this man would look like being broken is not enough to bring him down, though. He bows enthusiastically, smiling as he introduces himself. “Good morning! My name is Taehyung. As Yoongi told you, I’ interested in babysitting for you.”

“Jeongguk,” the man introduces himself, bowing politely. He seems a little taken aback by Taehyung’s fervor like he’s not used to it and doesn’t know to react. Taehyung doesn’t really care—in his twenty-three years of life, this isn’t at all the first time this has happened. “Come on in, then.”

Jeongguk leads him inside to his living room. Taehyung, who has two younger siblings and Namjoon as his older brother (and he’s probably the worst), can recognize intensive tidying when he sees it—everything is in its place, too immaculate for it to be casual with little kids around. It’s obvious that Jeongguk, and his partner, if there is one, was trying to make a good impression.

And he succeeded, really. The apartment is modest, not too fancy or extravagant, but still cozy. Taehyung is fresh out of college and is now living with Yoongi and Namjoon, who aren’t too bothered with home decor, so he’s not picky. He thinks the place looks inhabited even in its immaculate state, frames with pictures of a little girl on the walls and shelves, Jeongguk appearing with her in some of them.

That catches Taehyung’s attention. As Jeongguk gestures for him to sit down, Taehyung lets himself notice the absence of a mother, or even another partner. It’s only Jeongguk and the girl in most pictures, and in some of them who he assumes must be Jeongguk’s parents. And it doesn’t look like there’s anyone in the house with them right now.

Taehyung doesn’t want to jump to conclusions too fast, but it looks like Jeongguk is raising the little girl on his own.

“So,” Jeongguk starts as he sits down on the couch as well, a respectable distance between Taehyung and him. “As I’m sure Yoongi told you, I am in very desperate need of a babysitter. If this goes well, I’d be needing you come Monday.”

“That’s totally fine with me," Taehyung says, nodding. “I just quit my last job, so I’m available all day, every day.”

“Now that’s convenient,” Jeongguk says, more to himself than to him. “So, Taehyung. Why do you want this job?”

The interview goes well. Jeongguk asks questions about Taehyung, whether he can drive, cook, if he has had any babysitting jobs before. Taehyung tries to reply as honestly as he can, but painting himself in a good light; when he says that he has never had a job like this, he makes sure to add he has been taking care of his younger siblings and cousins for much of his life, for example. Jeongguk mentions that he knows he can be trusted since Yoongi wouldn’t have recommended him if he wasn’t, and to Taehyung that feels like a little victory—at least he has that.

Still, Taehyung doesn’t get the certainty that he’s got this until Jeongguk asks what he studied in college. When he replies to him and tells him that he studied Education, his whole face lights up.

“Education?” he repeats, sounding delighted. Taehyung nods. “So you’re qualified to work with kids?” he asks further.

“I am,” Taehyung replies, smiling a little. He’s happy about the direction this is taking. “And I have a vocation, too. I am good with kids and they like me, so working with them has always been what I wanted to do. Not babysitting, per se, but I still want this job.”

“That’s very good,” Jeongguk says, nodding. “I’m sure Nari could benefit a lot from you taking care of her. And you say you have experience with kids, yeah? That you’ve been looking after your siblings and cousins for years?”

“Yeah, exactly. My little cousin is around five, now. And my siblings are older, but when I was a teenager and my grandparents were busy it used to be me who took care of them. My older brother helped too, but I’ve always been better with kids.”

Judging by Jeongguk’s words and his newfound enthusiasm, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when he tells Taehyung that the job is his, but he still can’t help but feel a little caught off guard. This is not like getting a call on the phone where he’s told he got another job that he didn’t even want—this seems good. He’s still a little bit in disbelief as Jeongguk and he discuss what his salary will be, and even when he starts giving him pointers on how to take care of his daughter. It just seems too good to be true.

“Nari has kindergarten to attend to thrice a week,” Jeongguk explains. “You should pick her up in the afternoon every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The rest of days, on Tuesday and Friday, you’ll start at eight, since that’s when I leave for work.” Taehyung nods. Jeongguk already told him he’ll give him all the directions he needs later so he’s not worried about that now. “It’s, um, it’s just me, so you’ll have to take care of her until I’m back from work in the evenings.”

Taehyung doesn’t miss Jeongguk’s quick admission, seeing his suspicions be confirmed. “Sounds perfect,” he says, Jeongguk giving him a tight-lipped smile. “And, uh, if something ever comes up and you need someone to take care of her one night or on a Saturday, I’m available. Just thought I’d let you know.”

Jeongguk’s mouth tilts up into a small smile as he replies, “Hopefully that won’t happen since it’d mean I get to spend even less time with her, but thank you. I’ll take that in consideration.”

They exchange phone numbers before Jeongguk gives him a small tour around the apartment, showing him where everywhere he’ll need is and how to use the appliances. Just like Taehyung noted at first, the place is not obnoxiously big—Jeongguk’s bedroom, Nari’s, and one for guests; one bathroom, the living room and the kitchen. But it still looks quaint, and Taehyung already knows he’ll feel comfortable here while taking care of the girl.

When he’s done, Jeongguk walks him to the door, a smile on his face. He’s clearly happy which Taehyung guesses has a lot to do with the fact that, according to Yoongi, he desperately needed a babysitter. It’s understandable since the guy works from morning to evening and is alone, with no one else to take care of his child.

Jeongguk tells him to come by earlier on Monday since he needs to introduce him to Nari’s kindergarten teachers so they know who will be picking her up from now on. Taehyung promises he’ll be there, making a mental note to set an alarm.

Taehyung feels like he’s a man in a movie as he gets in the elevator and leaves the building. Jeongguk described Nari as a handful, but further from scaring Taehyung away that just intrigues him and makes him even more excited. As he walks away from Jeongguk and Nari’s home and back to Namjoon and Yoongi’s place, Taehyung knows that this will be a good one.

He can’t wait for it to be Monday.

 

 

As soon as Taehyung gets to the apartment he’s received with a rushed string of excited How did it go? How did it go? How did it go? from both Namjoon and Yoongi. Deciding to play with them, he tries his best to pull a disappointed face as he steps into the living room, two pairs of eyes immediately on him.

“Well…” he starts. He feels guilty as soon as he sees Namjoon and Yoongi’s expressions change, something akin worry in their faces.

“Tae…” Namjoon starts, but before he has the time to say something else Taehyung interrupts him.

“I got it!” he says, Yoongi smiling widely as Namjoon jumps from the sofa and pulls him in for a hug. “I’m starting on Monday. I’ve seen some pictures of the girl, and oh, my God, she’s so cute, I can’t wait to meet her.”

A few whines and complaints follow, Taehyung catching a you’re so full of shit and you can’t do this to us while he takes his coat off and sits cross-legged on one end of the couch, facing his brother and Yoongi. He hates to admit it, but they’re kind of cute—Yoongi is sitting, almost on the edge, back against the armrest as he faces Taehyung and does something on his laptop, and under his bent knees sits Namjoon, using Yoongi’s knees as a lectern. His whole life since he moved in here has consisted of pretending to be disgusted by their displays of affection and domesticity, mostly because it’s what he feels is his duty as a younger brother. But deep, deep down he longs for something like that.

“Damn, Jeongguk really must have been desperate,” Yoongi mumbles to himself. Taehyung knows he’s just teasing, but he still throws a pillow at him punctuated by a hey! “I’m, kidding, I’m kidding! Don’t throw stuff at me, my child is on my lap.”

“You’re the child,” Namjoon says, Yoongi pinching his arm playfully. Taehyung rolls his eyes, even if he doubts either of them is paying any attention to him. In the end, Namjoon addresses him again to ask, “So, on Monday? What are they like—the family.”

“It’s just Jeongguk and Nari,” Taehyung replies. He doesn’t know Nari yet, apart from the very little information Jeongguk gave him, and there’s not much he can say about Jeongguk himself, either. “Also, I would have loved a heads up that it’s just them. I could have fucked up by asking about his wife or something.”

“Oh?” Yoongi says, sounding surprised. “I didn’t know it was just the two of them. I recall meeting his wife at the Christmas dinner last year. I honestly didn’t know they weren’t together anymore, or that anything at all had happened.”

“Well, it’s okay, now,” Taehyung says, leaning back against the armrest. “Luckily for me, I was quick to notice he wasn’t wearing a wedding band. Talk about resourcefulness.”

“You checked the hands of a guy you just met looking for a wedding band?” Namjoon asks, an inquiring tilt to his voice. “Resourcefulness is not what I’d call that.”

“What exactly are you trying to imply, hyung?” Taehyung asks, stretching his legs so he can nudge at Namjoon’s thigh with his foot.

“I’m not implying anything. Yah, stop!” he says, grabbing Taehyung’s ankle and tugging when Taehyung keeps nagging him. It makes Taehyung giggle, squirming on the couch as he tries to free himself from Namjoon’s grip.

He hears Yoongi sigh something along the lines of and I’m the child, but it goes unnoticed as Namjoon groans when Taehyung accidentally—he promises it was accidental for real—kicks him in the stomach.

It’s only after Taehyung’s legs are securely away and Namjoon is not threatening him anymore that Taehyung decides to investigate a little. Jeongguk has clearly tried to put distance between Taehyung and himself, a barrier of sorts. So if he can’t find a lot about whom he is working for through his boss himself, he might have to turn to other resources. Other resources meaning Min Yoongi.

“So, hyung,” he starts, both of them turning to look at him. “Yoongi hyung. What does Jeongguk do at the company?”

Yoongi is quiet for a moment, gaze lost somewhere behind Taehyung’s head before he replies to his question. “I’m pretty sure he’s in the call center?” he says, sounding a little doubtful. “Yeah, the call center. I think he was in training when I first joined, but I’m not sure.”

Taehyung nods, not expecting it. For some reason, he would imagine Jeongguk was the kind of guy to have a big job with a big responsibility, but then again, it makes sense. It fits the apartment Jeongguk has, and his difficulty in finding a babysitter who wouldn’t be too out of budget, as Jeongguk himself had worded it.

“That doesn’t seem like a big paycheck,” he comments distractedly.

“Why? Are you worried he’s not going to pay you?” Yoongi jokingly asks. “He’s a reliable guy, Tae.”

“He needs some cash so he can finally move away from our couch,” Namjoon adds. Taehyung gasps at that, feigning offence.

“Wow, just say you want me gone,” he says accusingly, narrowing his eyes down at his brother.

“That is not true.”

“It so is!” Taehyung exclaims, watching Namjoon frown a little. Honestly, he’s just teasing, but he knows this is the expression in Namjoon’s face when he knows he’s fucked up. So, trying to make it clear he’s just messing around, he adds, “Betrayed like this by my own brother. I can’t believe you’re going to leave me wandering the streets.”

“Oh, my God,” Namjoon says. “You know you’re always welcome here. I would never leave you without a place to stay. I’m your hyung, I’m supposed to take care of you.”

Taehyung presses his lips into a thin line. Maybe he took it a little bit too far, since he knows this is a sensitive subject. Even if their parents offered to give Taehyung a place to stay, he refused to have them pay for his expenses for yet another year, after paying for both their colleges and residences for years. But things didn’t go as planned, and Taehyung didn’t get a decent paying job which meant he never really got a place for himself—he spent some months crashing on friend’s couches, waking up at morning without knowing where he’d sleep at night. And he was fine like that, really. But when Namjoon found out, he said wouldn’t allow that.

If you’re going to be sleeping on random couches you might as well sleep on mine, he had said, and just like that, Taehyung had taken the few possessions he owned—a suitcase and a bag full of the mostly random junk—to Namjoon and Yoongi’s place. He was a little worried Yoongi would feel uncomfortable, even if they had known each other for years, but it worked it out well.

But now, Taehyung knows that this can’t go on for much longer. For starters, he doesn’t think his brother’s landlord will be too happy about the arrangement. And besides, he doesn’t feel good about the situation himself. He likes independence, both from his parents and brother. He doesn’t want to leech off him and take advantage of him anymore, especially because he knows Namjoon means it when he says he’s always welcome.

“I know, Joonie,” he says, offering his brother the warmest smile he can manage. Taehyung loves all of his siblings, but there has always been a connection with Namjoon that is different from the one he was with his younger siblings—not better, not stronger, just different. He has grown up admiring Namjoon, and that has stuck with him. He doesn’t think it’s ever going to change. “But as much as I love you and Yoongi, this can’t go on forever. Plus, I’m sure you miss your privacy.”

“We’re fi—” Namjoon starts, but Yoongi interrupts him.

“I miss having sex with the bedroom door open, I must admit that,” he says. Namjoon goes red in the face, eyes shooting open as he looks at his boyfriend. “What? You know I don’t like closing doors. It makes me feel—”

“Ew, I didn’t need to think of you two having sex,” Taehyung says, wrinkling his nose in distaste. The fascination he used to feel for Namjoon’s sexcapades when they were teenagers and he first got with a girl is now long gone, replaced by profound disinterest. He honestly couldn’t care less about Namjoon and Yoongi’s sex life, especially given the fact that said sex life happens when he’s just a couple rooms away.

“You two are so weird,” Yoongi says, but Taehyung knows he doesn’t mean it. Yoongi loves them—not only Namjoon but Taehyung as well.

He’s going to miss this when he moves out, he must admit it; how much both of them care for him, having someone interested in how his life is, spending time with them. They have become such an essential part of his life, and he feels his bond with Namjoon—and now Yoongi—stronger than ever.

But he has to do this for himself. And he won’t stop until he gets it.

 

 

Usually, waking up early is not something Taehyung is fond of. He wouldn’t consider himself one of those people who dread mornings, but he must admit that the warmth of his bed—well, couch—during an early morning is very, very tempting. Even if he’s not sleeping, just lazing around in bed.

But Monday comes and he’s excited. He needs to be at Jeongguk’s by eight, so at half past six in the morning he’s up and ready to take a shower, have a big breakfast and get himself ready to meet Nari. Everything comes down to this day, in a way—this could be the beginning of a good ride, if he gets along with her, or literal hell, if for some reason they don’t seem to click. So there’s no time to be lazy and procrastinate.

He has never considered himself a perfectionist, but he does want this to work out well. Again, he makes sure he leaves his home with enough time, but he doesn’t want to show up excessively early either since that would be imposing. Especially with how hectic mornings must get for Jeongguk, who has to get both himself and Nari ready.

He has breakfast with Yoongi, both of them keeping it low since Namjoon’s still sleeping in the other room. As an editor, Namjoon can work from home, something Yoongi is always whining about, saying how jealous he is. And up until now Taehyung could relate, since he has dreaded every single job he’s had and staying at home seemed like a far better idea. But now he’s thrilled to leave the house and start taking care of Nari.

By the time eight comes around, Taehyung is already by Jeongguk’s building, wasting a little time so he’s not too early. He goes to the buzzer when the time comes, pressing the button to Jeongguk’s apartment and staring into the camera as he waits for him to open.

The elevator ride seems even longer now, but after what feels like ages he’s finally in front of Jeongguk’s door waiting for him to open after ringing the bell. Even from outside he can hear a young girl saying, Daddy, he’s here! and he feels himself practically buzz with excitement.

When Jeongguk opens the door, a little oh can be heard in Taehyung’s mind. When he first saw him, Jeongguk was dressing casually—jeans and a black sweater with nothing remarkable about it. Living with Yoongi, he knows the dress code to their company is strict and requires a suit, but he just wasn’t expecting Jeongguk to look that good in a suit. His hair is parted on his forehead, carefully styled, and there’s something about the way he looks that has Taehyung a little… distracted.

“Hey, good mor—” Jeongguk starts, bringing Taehyung back to reality, but then someone else pipes up and gets his attention.

“Hi!” calls the same voice he had just heard, this time clearer. Jeongguk steps to the side then, and when Taehyung looks down he can see an adorable little girl right before him. “I’m Nari.”

She bows down a little as she says that, and Taehyung mimics her before crouching down next to her. “Hi, Nari,” he says, offering her his biggest, brightest smile. She’s just as adorable as she was in pictures, with her huge, doe brown eyes and her doll mouth. “I’m Taehyung. I’m your new babysitter.”

“I know!” she replies excitedly, smiling back at Taehyung. “Daddy told me! He said you’re going to take care of me now when he’s not home.”

“That, I will,” he says, raising his hand and showing Nari his palm. “We’re going to be great friends, aren’t we?”

“Yes, yes, yes!” she says, each time punctuated by a little slap of her tiny palm against Taehyung’s. “Can we play now?”

“Not now, little lady,” Jeongguk says. “You need to get ready for school.”

“But I don’t wanna go,” she says, pouting a little. “I wanna stay and play with my new friend Taehyung.”

“We’ll play together later,” Taehyung assures, bopping her nose. She doesn’t seem too convinced, so he adds, “You need to go to school or your friends there will be sad because they miss you too much. And we don’t want that, do we?”

Nari shakes her head, lips still pulled in a little pout. “Come on now, go get your bag and your coat and then Taehyung and I will walk you there, okay?”

“Okay, Daddy,” she reluctantly agrees then. She turns around and disappears between Jeongguk’s legs, Taehyung getting back up on his feet again.

“Come in, please,” asks Jeongguk, Taehyung obediently stepping inside as Jeongguk closes the door behind him. He doesn’t know what to do, but chooses not to get rid of his coat and shoes since it looks like they’ll be leaving soon—Jeongguk is ready, he’s just fixing his hair in the mirror in the hall.

It’s not long before Nari comes back, a small backpack in one hand and her coat in the other. Jeongguk squats down next to her this time around, helping her with her coat and backpack. As Taehyung watches him fix her hair he feels oddly endeared, watching how Jeongguk turns around her. When he’s talking to Taehyung, Jeongguk is usually colder and uptight, even. But it’s easy to see that around his daughter he melts, turning all soft and affectionate. With a sweet kiss to her forehead, Jeongguk stands up and grabs his coat and his keys.

“I’m driving you there today since I need to get to work right after,” he says as he locks the door. Taehyung just nods. “It’s close, though. Jimin used to walk her there, didn’t he, princess?”

“Yes, he used to walk me to school before,” she tells, sounding a little sad, her hand holding on to Jeongguk’s bigger one as they wait for the elevator. “But now he can’t anymore because he’s busy.”

“I’ll figure out the way back here after we drop her off,” Taehyung says. It can’t be that far away if they can get there walking, and he has the Maps app on his phone.

The ride there is full of Nari chatting their ear off. Taehyung chose to sit in the backseat with her, the perspective of being there with her more way appealing than sitting by Jeongguk’s side. Don’t get him wrong, Jeongguk has been nothing but nice and polite to him. But he’s too cold, too impersonal, whereas Nari is like a big ray of sunshine. There is really no debate.

He understands what Jeongguk meant by a handful, though. Nari is what Taehyung would call a little madam—cheeky in an adorable way that is not insolent. She makes him laugh, and for a four-year-old, she’s very perceptive. Taehyung is delighted, and in all honesty, he can’t wait for the afternoon to come by so he can get to know her a little better.

Just like he promised, once they get there Jeongguk introduces him to Nari’s kindergarten teachers. She’s more than happy to show off her new friend, introducing Taehyung as she excitedly jumps around.

The time to leave comes around but Taehyung is already looking forward to coming back to pick Nari up later. Her presence is just so bright and refreshing in the most endearing of ways, and Taehyung has a feeling they’ll be great friends.

 

 

As Taehyung walks home, he comes to the conclusion that he loves his new job. It’s the evening now, and even if he feels a little tired—Jeongguk wasn’t exaggerating when he said Nari was hard to keep up with—he is very, very happy.

It feels rewarding to be doing something like this. Even if it’s not precisely what he imagined himself doing, it’s a job just as good as any other, isn’t it? Taking care of kids is a great responsibility, and he really does hope he does well. Nari seems happy about him, and when Jeongguk got home from work and Taehyung told him how well the day went, he seemed relieved. So, what’s there to not be happy about?

As soon as he gets home, Namjoon and Yoongi flood him with questions. Taehyung is used to this since it always happens when he has the first day at a job or has an interview—and he must admit both of them have happened an embarrassing amount of times in the last few months.

He replies to all of them happily, narrating how his day with Nari went. Honestly, he finds himself a bit in love with the little girl and her brightness—she’s really everything Taehyung could ask for, and he’s sure with her he won’t have one boring moment.

And it’s right then when Yoongi mentions it, an arched eyebrow as he asks, “So, you love the child. But what about Jeongguk?”

Taehyung frowns. “What about him?”

He doesn’t really think there’s much to say about him. He spent around thirty minutes with him in total and he was quiet for most of it, Taehyung or Nari doing the talking for him. What’s there to comment on him?

“What do you think about him?” Yoongi asks. Taehyung is about to repeat his question when Yoongi adds, “Handsome, huh?”

There’s a devious smile on his face as he asks that, one that looks pretty comical in opposition to Namjoon’s eye roll. Of course, Yoongi has seen Jeongguk—he knows he’s attractive. And while Taehyung can accept that, that’s as far as he’s willing to go. It’s his boss, Christ. The father of the little girl he’s babysitting.

“Don’t answer that, Tae,” Namjoon says, but it’s too late since Taehyung is already opening his mouth to reply.

“I guess he’s okay,” Taehyung shrugs, not too sure of what to say. “He looks good for his age.”

Taehyung is creeped out by the way the room goes quiet then, both the playful banter between them and the sound of Namjoon typing on his laptop stopping. Taehyung feels both their eyes on him, and for some reason, he’s starting to feel like he said something very, very wrong.

“For his age,” Yoongi repeats. When Taehyung doesn’t say anything, he adds, “His age.”

“Yeah?” Taehyung replies, although he’s so confused his voice tilts up as if he was asking a question. “What about that?”

“Jeongguk is twenty-seven,” Yoongi replies. Taehyung’s mouth falls open then, realizing his mistake. By saying that, he kind of, sort of, maybe implied Jeongguk was old. But turns out he is not—he is younger than both Namjoon and Yoongi.

“Oh,” is all Taehyung says.

They’re all silent for a dramatically long moment then, before Namjoon asks, “Do you think we’re getting old?”

“Jesus, that’s not what I said!” Taehyung rushes to explain. “I just thought he would be around thirty-five, or something. Because of the child and all that.”

“If Jeongguk looks thirty-five I don’t want to know what I look like,” Yoongi says then, complaining. “I am not ready to look older than thirty-five. That’s almost forty, oh my God.”

Taehyung tries to talk, saying, “Guys, you’re being so—”

“But we’re almost thirty now,” Namjoon interrupts. “You’re turning thirty next year! I am not ready to be thirty. Thirty is old.”

“You’re looking too much into it,” Taehyung says. He doesn’t even know how the conversation got to this. “I just thought he was way older because not a lot of people have kids before thirty nowadays, that’s all.”

“You don’t understand,” says Yoongi then, sounding pained. “You’re under twenty-five.”

Taehyung’s mouth falls open, looking for the words to say and not finding any. Mostly, he’s speechless about the fact that his brother and his boyfriend are having a meltdown like this in front of him. He doesn’t know what to say to comfort them, nor can he run away and hide in his room since the living room technically is his room.

So he just sits there uncomfortably, hearing Namjoon and Yoongi whine about how old they’re getting and how they wish they could have gotten married before their thirties. It goes on for about an hour, and Taehyung only comes to one conclusion—people over twenty-five are very, very weird.

 

 

Taehyung is coming to treasure the little chats Nari and he have when he comes to pick her up from kindergarten, walking hand in hand towards the apartment. Usually she tells her about her day and her friends but today is different.

Today, as they walked back home she said, “Do you think we could go see Jimin someday?”

Taehyung frowns for a moment, not knowing who she’s talking about. It takes a few seconds for him to realize who Jimin is—Jimin, who previously took care of Nari and he assumes is Jeongguk’s friend, more than a babysitter.

“You should ask Daddy that, Nana,” he replies. On their first afternoon together he found out she likes being called that, and now the nickname rolls off his tongue naturally. “I don’t know Jimin, I can’t take you to see him.”

“I just miss him,” she sighs, sounding a little tight. Taehyung squeezes her hand on his lightly, making a quaking sound and making her erupt into giggles. “I miss Daddy when he’s at work, too.”

“Oh, angel,” he replies. There’s something about the admission that makes Taehyung’s heart break a little. He knows Jeongguk works hard and for long, but it’s understandable—it’s just one salary to raise Nari, pay the bills and pay Taehyung, among many other expenses. He knows Jeongguk works more hours than a regular shift, but he also can see why he needs to. “I’m sure Daddy misses you a lot when he’s at work, too. You’re all he thinks about.”

“I know he does!” she says, matter-of-factly. “But he’s free on weekends and we’re together all day, and he dances with me and we play hide and seek and tag.”

“He dances with you?” Taehyung asks, incredulous. With how formal and proper Jeongguk seems to be all the time, he’s having trouble imagining him dancing with his little daughter. But then again, he’s a parent, and a good one at that. He’s sure that when it’s just Nari and him, Jeongguk gets a little sillier. “What do you two dance to?”

“Daddy puts all those groups on the TV,” she starts explaining. “And we copy them. Daddy is so good dancing but I’m way better.”

“Nah, you can’t be that good,” Taehyung teases her. “I won’t believe that until I see it.”

Nari sounds offended then, gasping as she tugs at Taehyung’s hand. “I’ll show you!” she exclaims, determined. “I’ll show you and you’ll see I’m the bestest dancer in the worldwide world!”

Taehyung laughs then, endeared. He needs to figure out how to put all those groups on the TV, but he guesses he can ask Jeongguk later.

“You should definitely show me because until then I will believe I am the best dancer.”

“You dance?” asks Nari, sounding amazed.

If swaying a little at a club while being intoxicated counts as dancing, then yes. Taehyung is a dancer, and a great one, at that. Nari just doesn’t need to know the context, nor does she need to see Taehyung’s specialty. He could try—and ruin—idol choreos, though.

“Of course I dance! I am the dancing king. And if you want to be a dancing queen, you’re going to have to defeat me in a dancing competition, missus.”

Nari gasps then, fascinated. “Okay!” she says then, excited. “You’re gonna eat the dust and I’m going to be a queen,” she singsongs, skipping while still holding Taehyung’s hand tightly.

“Bite, Nana,” Taehyung corrects, endeared. “Bite the dust.”

He knows that as soon as they get home and he gets Nari in her comfy clothes, they’re going to have a dancing competition. And if he’s being honest with himself, he can’t wait.

 

 

It doesn’t take too long for Taehyung to figure out that, despite the obvious differences between them, Nari and he have a lot in common. They’re both loud and bright, even if Taehyung’s spontaneity has obviously been reduced because of his age. Regardless of that, every day with her is a chance to see a little bit of his past self in her, and some remains that still linger in him today.

But the similarities grow even bigger when he picks her up from kindergarten one afternoon. While he waits for Nari, he sees the rest of kids come out with sheets of paper in their hands, colorful drawings on them. As soon as Nari comes out she walks to him, a wide smile on her face that is only slightly covered by her thick scarf.

“Tae!” she greets then, Taehyung pinching her cheek lightly before affectionately running his fingers through her hair.

“Hey, Nana,” he says, giving her his warmest smile. “What do you have here then?” he asks, nodding in the direction of Nari’s other hand.

“It’s a drawing!” she explains enthusiastically as they walk out, interrupting herself to say bye to the other kids. “We all did drawings today and we had to explain what they are to the rest of the class.”

“Oh, that sounds like so much fun,” Taehyung says then, stealing glances at the drawing as they walk. He’ll have to wait until there’s a red light to take a good look, but he can make out a house, two people and the sea in the background. It’s obviously not the best art piece he has ever seen, but for a four-year-old, Taehyung must admit it’s good—and he’s not saying it out of bias. “What did you draw?”

“I drew grandma and grandpa and their house in Busan,” she announces then, and Taehyung nods. It makes sense it’s Busan—both for the sea in the picture and the slight accent of Jeongguk’s that slips only sometimes and Taehyung hadn’t been able to identify yet. “And the teacher said it’s really good!”

“It really is, Nana,” Taehyung observes, a proud little smiling appearing on his face. “Do you draw a lot?”

“Sometimes,” she replies. “Sometimes Daddy buys me things to draw, but not always. That’s why I like drawing days in kindergarten!”

“You’re so good at it, I’m almost jealous,” Taehyung says, making her giggle. “Do you think we could draw together sometime?” he asks.

“Do you draw too?” she asks, excitedly.

Taehyung does draw and paint. It’s not more than a hobby, but he must admit he’s quite good at it—especially since he’s self-taught. He’s never had more formation than his art classes during high school and a couple of courses in college, but never anything too specific. He’s good at art, even if he hasn’t had much time or will to paint lately, with everything going on in his life. This is the perfect chance to rescue an old hobby of his and to bond with Nari.

“I do,” he says, Nari’s gloved hand squeezing his as she lets out a delighted squeal. “So, what do you say?”

“Yes!” she says, jumping a little. Taehyung smiles, endeared. “We’re going to draw, we’re going to draw!”

Taehyung laughs, watching her bounce on her feet as she sing-songs. As soon as they get home, he needs to set a reminder on his phone to get art supplies soon.

 

 

Loyal to his word, that very same week Taehyung shows up at the Jeon’s with art supplies for him and Nari. She lets out a squeal when he tells her that afternoon, immediately insisting to see them. It’s not a lot, but it will do—sketchbooks, pencils, erasers, crayons and colored pencils. If they have fun he could get markers or even watercolors in the future, but he’ll see how this goes for now.

As expected, Nari loves it and is more than excited. The moment she sees everything she starts clapping, a wide smile appearing on her face as she takes the brand new sketchbook in her hands, looking at the baby blue background and daisy pattern. The other one is identical except it has sunflowers, and Nari runs her hand over the cover of that one, too.

“Which one do you like the most?” Taehyung asks. If she likes both, she can keep them—Taehyung would rather she had them both, if that’s what’d make her happy.

“They’re both beautiful,” she says, looking from one to the other. She shows Taehyung the first one she took, the one with the daisies, and says, “But I like this one the most.”

“Do you want both?” Taehyung asks, doubtful. He brought paper sheets with him as well, so he’d have something to draw on, too.

“No!” Nari exclaims right away. “You need to get that one, Tae. So we match.”

Taehyung laughs then, and after that they decide on what to draw. One drawing leads to another, and the whole afternoon flies past as they get lost in the pages of their sketchbooks. They show each other what they do, Nari’s eyes widening when she sees what Taehyung has done, and Taehyung must admit his heart swells a little with pride when she tells him she wants to be as good as him when she grows up.

After a little break for Nari to have dinner they go back to drawing, and that’s exactly what they’re doing when Jeongguk comes home. Apparently, there are only two things to snap Nari out of her drawing induced daze—hunger and her dad.

Every day, as soon as she hears the door open, she excitedly stands up and runs to the front door to greet Jeongguk. By the time Taehyung gets there he always finds Jeongguk lifting her up, spinning her around and making her giggle as she wraps her tiny arms around him and gives his cheek a noisy kiss. It always makes Taehyung smile, watching them—Jeongguk looks obviously drained, but his face never fails to brighten up when he sees his daughter.

Today is the same, of course. As always, she starts telling him what Taehyung and she did that day or what she did in kindergarten. It’s amazing and incredibly refreshing how everything is exciting to her, regardless of not being new.

“Daddy, Taehyung brought stuff to draw!” she tells him. “We’ve been drawing! I want to show you because I did a picture of you.”

“You did?” he asks, bopping her nose. “I’m going to need you to show me all those drawings, princess.”

And that’s how they both end on the couch, Nari sitting on Jeongguk’s knee as she shows him the drawings. Jeongguk sends an apologetic look in Taehyung’s direction, who nods in understatement—he doesn’t mind waiting a little to go home. He doesn’t want to interrupt such a precious moment between the two of them. Besides, there is something he wants to tell Jeongguk.

It takes a while since she’s especially hyper today, but Jeongguk finally manages to get her in bed so they can talk, at last. The first thing Jeongguk says to him that night definitely catches Taehyung off guard.

“I can’t thank you enough for this,” he blurts out, completely out of the blue. Before Taehyung can ask what he’s referring to, Jeongguk adds, “I don’t always have time or money to spare, so… it’s just—hard.”

He chokes the words out almost with shame, and that makes Taehyung’s heart break a little. He knows that Jeongguk makes more than sure that Nari has everything she needs, but it’s obvious that he struggles a little. Yoongi also mentioned to him that his salary isn’t very… generous. So raising a child with a paycheck like that and paying for both their expenses must be hard. Taehyung, who comes from a humble family himself, understands.

“No need to thank me,” he says, offering the sweetest smile he can manage. He doesn’t want Jeongguk to think he pities him because he doesn’t. He sympathizes, because not only is he going through his bad situation financially speaking, but he also has seen his parents struggle with money during his younger years. “She just… I think she has a lot of potential, you know? And it’s something she really enjoys doing. I think it’d be a shame if she didn’t get to explore that.”

“I know, I know,” Jeongguk sighs, sounding defeated. “Her kindergarten teachers told me that, as well. They recommended me to get her to an art class for kids but I just—there’s no way I can afford that.”

Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip. He has a proposition to make but he doesn’t know how to address it. He’s afraid he might seem arrogant by suggesting it, or too… overwhelming, in a way.

“I…” he starts, Jeongguk raising his eyebrows inquiringly. “I can draw well. And I know how to teach kids. I could try to help with that, even if I don’t really have any art formation. And obviously, it would be included in my job as a babysitter.”

“You draw?” Jeongguk asks, Taehyung nodding in response. “Is that so? Nari mentioned something the other day, but I can’t say I gave it too much thought,” he says, apologetic.

“I mean, I’m not Picasso,” he says, jokingly. “But I’m quite good, I guess? I have some drawings I did with Nari today if you wanna see.”

Never in a million years did Taehyung see this coming, but somehow, he ends up staying to talk to Jeongguk over a cup of tea. They both look through the drawings and Jeongguk is full of praise and compliments, making Taehyung even embarrassed. After that Jeongguk offers him a hot drink, and before he can even think about it, Taehyung is accepting.

It’s quite surreal but conversation flows easily between the two of them. They start talking about art, Jeongguk asking Taehyung if he ever thought about professionally dedicating himself to the arts, and Taehyung ends up telling him about his dilemma between Education and Art when the time came to choose a degree. In exchange, Jeongguk tells him a little bit about how he used to draw when he was younger, but how he never was as serious about it—just something he did when he was bored.

From there, they jump from one topic to other—what college was like for him, what his ideal job is, Nari. Jeongguk’s warmer side is blossoming now, and Taehyung can’t say he’s not glad he’s finally getting to know this part of him. After weeks working for him, Jeongguk had always been kind of… impersonal with him, cold, something Taehyung could tell he wasn’t because of how he acted with his daughter. But now they’re finally getting to know each other, and Taehyung knows this will make things even easier.

He doesn’t stay for too long, since he has a long walk back home and he doesn’t want to come back too late. Still, when he leaves Jeongguk’s apartment that night he feels warm inside, for plenty of reasons—he’s happy with his job, he has drawn after what feels like ages, and he’s finally getting past Jeongguk’s wall. And right now, he’s happier than he has been in a long, long time.

 

 

After that day, the shift in Jeongguk’s and his relationship is notorious to Taehyung. They still aren’t friends, Taehyung wouldn’t say so, but their little conversations at the end of the day are a little longer, and aren’t only centered on Nari. Taehyung will ask about Jeongguk’s day, and Jeongguk will often ask how Taehyung is doing. They’re not friends yet but Taehyung is sure that in the direction they’re going, it won’t be long until they are.

It’s good to get to know Jeongguk a little bit better, and now Taehyung is starting to see proof of the caring, goofy person that Jeongguk actually is. It wouldn’t be the first time Jeongguk offers to give him a ride home, but Taehyung always declines—he knows Jeongguk comes home exhausted, so the last thing he wants to do is inconvenience him. It’s autumn and it’s cold, but it’s nothing he can’t deal with.

Still, and even if he’s starting to get used to it, it still catches Taehyung off guard. For example, one night a week or so after their little chat that day, Jeongguk makes an admission that leaves Taehyung speechless for a few moments.

They’re just talking about the day, Taehyung telling him something about Nari. He loves telling Jeongguk funny anecdotes because his eyes always get crinkly with how hard he smiles. Honestly, he must admit that Jeongguk’s unconditional love for his daughter never ceases to make him swoon.

And then, completely out of the blue, Jeongguk says, “I’m so, so glad it was you that I hired in the end.” Taehyung’s mouth opens for a moment, not knowing what to say, but then Jeongguk elaborates, “It’s just—you and Nari click so well. She clearly is very comfortable around you and is always talking about you, you know? I’m glad she has someone like that in her life since I can’t spend as much time with her as I would like to.”

And for some reason, Jeongguk’s words make Taehyung feel so, so warm inside. He can’t even put down into words how happy that makes him, knowing that not only is Nari happy with him, but that Jeongguk is glad about how well they get along. Winning a child’s heart over is easier than getting their parent’s approval, Taehyung knows that. He’s glad he’s making a positive impact in Nari’s life, and also glad Jeongguk appreciates it.

“That’s—I really don’t know what to say, but that’s so flattering, Jeongguk,” he says, his mouth stretching into a wide smile as he speaks. “This makes me happy, too. You already know this, but I had some shitty jobs before this one, and I hated all of them. So getting to do this—I really enjoy it. And I’m happy with it, and also happy you gave me this chance.”

 “Then it’s a win for everyone, isn’t it?” he asks, a little smile dancing on his lips.

Taehyung tries to hold back a smile by biting his lower lip, but he doesn’t really succeed. “It really is,” he says, leaning back on the frame of the door. “It is, it is.”

The conversation keeps going after that, changing to more banal topics, but it’s still in the back of Taehyung’s mind, who replays it in his head as he walks home. Fuck all the schools that rejected him—right now, he wouldn’t change his word for anything in the world.

 

 

One afternoon when he goes to pick Nari up from kindergarten, the most unexpected thing happens to Taehyung. He was on his phone, waiting for the kids to get out when someone approaches him.

“Excuse me,” a voice calls. Taehyung raises his eyes from his cell-phone, looking at the woman standing in front of him. She must be around thirty, and Taehyung vaguely recognizes her—he has seen her here before, picking up one of Nari’s classmates. “You’re Taehyung, right?”

“That’d be me, yeah,” he replies, nodding. “Can I help you?”

“Very nice to meet you, Taehyung,” she says. Taehyung mutters a likewise and bows a little, smiling at her. “My name’s Haseul. I am the mother of Jisung, one of Nari’s classmates,” she starts, Taehyung nodding as he listens. “Nari has been telling Jisung and other kids in the classroom that you’re giving her art lessons. And she has shown them a drawing you did for her and they’re all very, very impressed.”

Taehyung’s mouth falls open. He wasn’t expecting Nari to tell her friends about that, much less for them to tell their parents, although he should have seen it coming with how much Nari shares. About the drawing he did for Nari—it wasn’t anything serious. Not even a portrait, just a small chibi he did on the corner of a page in her sketchbook, because there was a blank space and she was upset about it. Taehyung doesn’t know why anyone would be impressed by that, but he can’t deny it makes him feel oddly proud.

“That’s very flattering,” Taehyung says, scratching the back of his head. “I do give her some lessons sometimes, yeah.”

“I was talking to some of the other parents the other day,” she carries on, “and we were wondering if you’d be interested in teaching some other kids, too. Again, they’re all very, very impressed and Nari says you’re very lovely. Plus, we know you’re reliable if Jeongguk trusts you with his daughter.”

Taehyung smiles at that, feeling a little flustered, and he’s glad his cheeks are already flushed from the cold. “An art class?” he asks, a little stunned. He never thought he’d get offered anything like that, but right now, it seems like a dream turned true. “That’s—I’m very, very flattered you’re interested in that.”

She laughs then, throwing her head back a little. “Just think about it, yeah? You don’t have to come to a conclusion right now, but give it some thought.”

After that, they make small talk until the kids are out. The idea lingers at the back of Taehyung’s mind during the walk back and even later, when he’s playing with Nari. There’s no denying that it’s a great chance, an easy way to get some extra cash. But he doesn’t have anywhere to give the class—he inconveniences Yoongi and Namjoon enough, and bringing a group of kids in the afternoon to their place won’t help. Plus, Namjoon works from home. Their place is already discarded.

He spends the whole afternoon and evening overthinking it, and before he even realizes, it’s Nari’s dinner time, followed by her bath. That’s enough to distract him a little, at least until Jeongguk comes back. Once he does, when they’re talking and Jeongguk asks him about his day, it all comes back to him. He debates for a moment whether he should tell him or not. But he needs to get it off his chest and he won’t be getting home until later, so in the end, he tells him.

“I was offered a job today,” he says. Jeongguk frowns instantly, and Taehyung rushes to add, “Don’t worry, it’s nothing that wouldn’t allow me to take care of Nari. Some parents from Nari’s kindergarten are interested in me giving their kids an art class since Nari told them about the lessons I give her and showed them one of my drawings. But… I don’t really know if I could do it, you know?”

“Why not?” asks Jeongguk, cocking his head. “It doesn’t seem like too bad of an idea. Teaching kids a few afternoons a week sounds like something you could do in your sleep.”

“There are a few things,” says Taehyung with a sigh, looking down to his palms. “First of all—I know you’re paying me to take care of Nari, exclusively. So even if I still would take care of her, I don’t know if it’s something you’d be okay with?”

There’s silence for a moment, and Taehyung is scared of being right until Jeongguk speaks softly. “Taehyung,” he starts, and something about his tone has Taehyung looking up to look at him. “Of course I would be okay with it. You’ve proven to be wonderful with kids and responsible, and I don’t doubt you’d be more than capable of handling a small group of kids. Plus, I like the idea of Nari seeing and playing with her classmates out of kindergarten. Sometimes she goes to the park with them in summer, but now it’s too cold for that, and I want her to be with people her age.”

There’s something about the way Jeongguk says it that makes it look so evident, almost like Taehyung was ridiculously wrong to think otherwise. Taehyung wonders how he makes everything sound so easy.

“It’s not just that,” he says, reluctantly. “I currently live with my brother and his partner. I don’t think either of them would be pleased if I brought a group of kids to their house so they could be noisy and make everything a mess if I’m honest.”

Jeongguk laughs then, eyes crinkling a little. “Okay, that sounds fair enough,” he says. “So. The problem is you have nowhere to hold the class in, yeah?” he asks.

“Yeah, basically,” confirms Taehyung.

Jeongguk hums then, scratching his jaw. “Well,” he starts then. “I could offer my house. As long as you promise to clean that mess you’re talking about afterward, though.”

Taehyung’s mouth gaps. “You’re serious?” he asks. Jeongguk nods. “You can’t be serious. Your house?”

“It’s convenient,” Jeongguk says. “It’s close to the kindergarten so probably to most of the kid’s houses, too. There’s space here in the living room for a small group. And that way you and Nari don’t have to come and go. I think it’s a good idea. Again, as long as you keep everything in order and clean up the mess. But I know you’re more than capable of that.”

“Are you for real?” Taehyung asks again, stunned. Jeongguk’s act of kindness has him speechless—he’s offering him his place. For an art class with kids. “Just—oh my God, I can’t believe this. Are you serious?”

“I’m very serious,” Jeongguk says. “I think it’s a great opportunity for you. You’re good with kids, you’ve been formed to teach—it’s perfect. And I know you could use the extra cash. I won’t be home in the afternoons so if you want to bring them here during weekdays, you’re more than welcome to.”

“Oh my God,” Taehyung says. Before he can even stop himself he surges forward, wrapping his arms around Jeongguk’s shoulders in a tight hug. “Thank you, thank you, thank you. I really could never thank you enough for this. God, you’re amazing.”

Jeongguk laughs, and when Taehyung pulls away, he almost can tell there was a faint blush on his cheeks. Must be his imagination.

“Please, I’m not,” Jeongguk says. “I just think it’d be a shame if you didn’t take up this chance, you know?”

Taehyung smiles then. He knows Jeongguk will contradict him every single time, but he’s still infinitely grateful. Jeongguk probably doesn’t know how much this means to him, and how big of a favor it is.

“Still, thank you,” he says. “This is very, very kind of you, Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk gives him a warm smile, and something about it makes Taehyung’s toes want to curl. He shouldn’t be surprised, should he? He is just now seeing confirmed what he has been thinking for a while—Jeon Jeongguk is indeed amazing.

 

 

For Taehyung, the babysitting job came with something he hadn’t known for a while: completely free weekends. So, from Friday evening to Monday morning, Taehyung’s natural state was wearing pajamas, being curled up on the sofa under a thick blanket, ingesting unhealthy quantities of junk food and binge-watching some show. And that’s exactly the state he is in when his phone rings, startling him.

What surprises him the most is seeing Jeongguk’s name on the caller ID. Why would Jeongguk be calling him on a Saturday afternoon? In the fraction of a second he takes to actually answer the phone, a million different thoughts cross his mind—what if something happened to Nari, or to Jeongguk himself?

“Hello?” he asks as soon as he replies. He hates that he sounds a little panicked—why does he allow himself to get paranoid like this?

Hi, Taehyung,” Jeongguk greets him, and his tone alone makes Taehyung want to sigh in relief. He knows there’s no way he’d sound that calm and casual if something bad had happened. “I’m sorry I’m calling you on a Saturday when it’s your free day.

“Oh my God, don’t sweat it,” Taehyung says, sitting upright on the couch. Now he’s curious as to why Jeongguk called. “What’s up?”

First of all, don’t feel pressured to say yes if you don’t want to,” Jeongguk says, making Taehyung frown. What is it that he wants that is making him act like this? “It’s just—I have somewhere to be tonight. And Jimin was going to take care of Nari, but a family emergency came up and so he can’t come anymore.”

“Oh?” Taehyung asks, voice tilting up in curiosity. “You’re going out tonight?”

He shouldn’t be shocked, honestly. Jeongguk is only twenty-seven; of course he has the right to want to have some fun on a Saturday night. He’s young.

Yeah, I am,” Jeongguk replies. His voice sounds a little smaller than usual, and Taehyung is about to tell him he has no reason to be embarrassed when he speaks again. “I have a date. So obviously, don’t feel obligated to say yes. I can cancel. And of course, if you accept, I’ll pay you extra for the night.”

“You’re going out on a date!” he replies, almost jumping in excitement. Going out on a date means Jeongguk would be taking out time to relax and, most importantly, for himself. Taehyung sees on the daily how much of his life, time and efforts he dedicates to Nari. So to know that he’s doing something because he wants to is, well—it’s a relief, in a way. “You know I love Nari, it’s not a bother at all. When do you need me there?”

Half past six, maybe?” Jeongguk suggest. “If you can make it. If not, I can call and delay it a bit.”

Taehyung checks the time on his laptop, nodding to himself. “Yeah, don’t worry, I can make it on time,” he says. He has more than enough time to shower and get there on time. “We’ll see each other then, yeah?”

Yeah, yeah, okay,” Jeongguk says, sounding relieved. “You don’t even know how much this means to me, Taehyung. You really are a lifesaver.”

“I’m just okay, but keep the praises coming, mister,” he says, laughing. “Listen, I need to hang up and get ready now. But I’ll talk to you later, yeah?”

Sure thing,” Jeongguk says. “And again, thank you.”

They say their goodbyes and hang up, Taehyung running off to shower. During the process of getting ready and his walk to the apartment he doesn’t really think about who Jeongguk could go on a date with. In all honesty, he knows it’s none of his business, so he’s not going to ask Jeongguk. If he wanted him to know, he’d tell him. But part of him still wants the date to come pick Jeongguk up, so he could see what they’d look like.

He gets there right on time—maybe he didn’t have more than enough time, after all—and Nari welcomes with a tight hug to his legs as soon as he opens the door. Taehyung crouches down next to her, letting the little girl kiss his cheek repeatedly.

“She was so excited when she found out you’d be coming to play tonight,” Jeongguk explains. It’s then that Taehyung’s eyes fall on him for the first time that evening, and he’s not quite sure he’s able to keep his reaction to himself.

He sees Jeongguk wear a suit every day, sure, but this is the first time he sees Jeongguk dressing up for a date—when he not only wants to look presentable, or professional, but also wants to look good. Desirable. And damn, didn’t he achieve all of that.

Honestly, Taehyung doesn’t mean to stare, but it’s a little hard not to. Jeongguk has his black hair parted down the middle, as he always does for work, but he still looks better now, without the sleepiness of 8 AM on him or the exhaustion after a long day of work. He’s wearing a black shirt of what looks like the softest material Taehyung has ever seen, and he has to hold back from reaching out and feeling it for himself. The shirt is tucked into his dress pants that cling to his legs in a way Taehyung never knew could be so… attractive.

And yeah, he really didn’t mean to stare, but that’s exactly what he does.

He quickly composes himself, hoping that Jeongguk didn’t notice his… little lapse right there.

“Hey there,” he greets, picking Nari up before he stands up again. The child squeals in delight, hooking her legs around Taehyung’s frame. “Someone is all dressed up, huh?”

“Oh, shush,” Jeongguk says, looking away. He tries to hide it by turning his head, but Taehyung can still see the light blush on his cheeks. Adorable. “Come on, come on in. There’s some stuff I need to tell you before leaving.”

The stuff Jeongguk had to tell him was that dinner is in the fridge, ready to be reheated, and what Nari’s weekend bedtime is. He checks the time on his watch constantly, probably out of nervousness, and Taehyung can’t help but smile, endeared. He doesn’t think Jeongguk has anything to worry about. Looking the way he does now and being as charming as he is, anyone would be stupid to let him go.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay, princess?” Jeongguk says, kissing Nari’s forehead as she hugs him tightly, little arms around his neck.

“Okay, Daddy,” she says. “Have fun with your friend! I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you, too. And be good to Taehyung, listen to him,” Jeongguk adds, making Taehyung break into a smile.

“I always do,” Nari says, letting go of her dad to put her hands on her hips, pulling her lips out in a pout.

“That, she does,” Taehyung says, laughing. Nari makes a content noise, and Jeongguk gives him a quick smile. “I’m sure she’ll be good tonight too, and go to bed when she’s meant to, right?”

Taehyung’s curiosity doesn’t end up being sated since Jeongguk is the one who goes to pick up his date—or his friend, as he refers to them in front of Nari. He leaves not long after Taehyung arrives, taking his coat and his car keys before leaving. Taehyung sighs when he leaves, giving himself a minute to acknowledge what he has been trying to ignore when Jeongguk was there: whoever is going out with Jeongguk tonight is one lucky, lucky person.

He touches his cheeks and hates how warm to the touch they are, a reminder of how stupidly flustered he is. He sees Jeongguk every single day. He talks to him, jokes with him, teases him on the daily. He’s his fucking boss. Sure, he looks hot, but that shouldn’t be enough to turn Taehyung into a blushing mess.

Truth be told, he’s almost mad at himself for acting like this, but he swallows it down. At least he gets to spend the rest of the evening with Nari, which grants a good time, and he’s sure to keep his mind away from Jeongguk and his annoyingly handsome face. And from how good he looks in all black. And from the way his clothes cling to his big thighs. And—

“Tae!” calls Nari then, trying—and failing—to snap her fingers in front of his face. “Listen to me!”

Tonight is going to be so, so long for him.

 

 

Taehyung and Nari are playing with a firetruck when Nari randomly blurts out something that will linger in his mind for weeks. It all starts innocently, and the beginning of the conversation doesn’t surprise Taehyung. Nari loves her dad, and she surely loves talking about him.

“Sometimes Daddy goes out with friends he kisses in the mouth,” she says. Taehyung is endeared by it, huffing out a laugh.

“Is that so?” he asks, not paying too much attention.

“Yeah!” Nari replies. “But it’s not Jimin, or Hoseok, or Seokjin he kisses,” she carries on. Out of all those, Taehyung has only heard about Jimin from Jeongguk, but he’s sure he recalls Yoongi mentioning a Hoseok at some point, so it must be a coworker. “But once I was staying with Jimin for the night, and when Daddy’s friend came to pick him up, he kissed him on the mouth.”

It’s so small that Taehyung almost missed it. But when he processes Nari’s words and it clicks in his brain, he can’t help but repeat, “Wait, he kissed him?”

It can be possible that he misheard, right? Or that Nari got confused. She’s a kid, after all.

“Yes,” Nari says. “He came to pick Daddy up, and Daddy kissed him on his lips when he opened the door.”

“Ah, that’s very cute, Nari,” he says, passing her the firetruck again. “Very cute.”

And really, Taehyung knows that she still could have seen wrong. Or misinterpreted the situation. Or hell, maybe even imagined it. But now there is a what if, a possibility. What if Jeongguk is, too, into men? Not that Taehyung is going to do anything, obviously. Jeongguk is his boss. But he’s just a nosy man.

Ah, whatever, the most rational part of himself tells him. Don’t let yourself obsess over it. It’s none of your business.

(Needless to say, Taehyung doesn’t listen.)

 

 

Taehyung wakes up to the smell of fried bacon, and that’s exactly when he knows something is off.

You see, Namjoon and Yoongi are lazy people. And that laziness only gets accentuated at morning. Usually, their breakfasts consist of milk and cereal. Toast, if they’re having a more active day. But bacon? Not a chance in hell.

His eyes snap open then, and although he’s more than familiar with the living room he’s in, it takes him a minute or so to figure out where he is. And then, he realizes he’s still in Jeongguk’s house.

“Oh, fuck,” he mumbles. His body is more than used to sleeping on a couch so it’s not that he’s worried about. The blanket that he didn’t remember covering himself with falls to his lap as he gets his phone, resting on the couch right by his head. And… there they are. A shit ton text messages from both Namjoon and Yoongi, along with ten million missed calls. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.”

He hates worrying his brother and Yoongi, and he knows that right now they’re probably sick with worry. He debates whether calling him or not right now is a good idea, but in the end decides it can wait. He doesn’t want to intrude in Jeongguk’s home anymore. So he sends Namjoon a quick text, explaining he fell asleep at Jeongguk’s house, and makes his way to the kitchen.

In there he finds Jeongguk alone, wearing an apron and facing the stove. Taehyung smiles at the image, taking in the two plates with bacon on them.

“Good morning,” he calls, speaking as softly as he can in order to not startle Jeongguk. He’s frying what Taehyung suspects are eggs so he’d rather not cause any accidents.

But Jeongguk is used to having a toddler in the house with him, so he just sends Taehyung a quick smile over his shoulder as he greets, “Good morning yourself.” He looks back to what he’s doing again, and adds, “Did you sleep well?”

“Oh, yes. You have a very nice couch,” Taehyung says, making Jeongguk laugh. “You should have woken me up, though. Instead of giving me a blanket.”

“I would have never,” Jeongguk says then, taking one egg out the pan before cracking another one. “You looked like you were in deep sleep. I came home later than I was expecting, so I thought I’d let you sleep. I’m sorry about that, by the way.”

“Nothing to be sorry about,” Taehyung says, leaning against the countertop as he crosses his arms over his chest. “Are you cooking breakfast for Nari and yourself?”

“Uh? No, Nari is still asleep. And you know all she eats for breakfast is that stupid fruity cereal,” he says. Taehyung laughs, nodding. “It’s for you. I figured you’d be hungry, and I didn’t want you to have to go all the way home before getting to eat something.”

“Oh my God, Jeongguk!” Taehyung says, making sure to keep his voice down now he knows Nari is still in bed. “You shouldn’t have. I seriously feel like I am abusing your hospitality right now.”

“You’re not,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung mustn’t look too convinced, because Jeongguk adds, “Seriously. You aren’t. Consider this a thank you for taking care of Nari on a Saturday night. I’m sure there are places you’d rather be instead of with a four-year-old.”

And really, Jeongguk must think Taehyung’s life is interesting and exciting, but it really isn’t. Looking after Nari is probably the most exciting thing he has done on a Saturday night since graduation. Well, unless playing board games with Namjoon and Yoongi counts as exciting.

“You’re way too good, but I’m not going to say no to bacon,” Taehyung says, making laughter bubble up from Jeongguk’s chest.

Jeongguk finishes cooking and they both sit on the kitchen table, a glass of juice before them. As per usual, Jeongguk asks him how his time with Nari went, and Taehyung tells him all about it. He doesn’t miss the look of pride in Jeongguk’s eyes when he tells him Nari went to bed without complaints, before Jeongguk explains that when Jimin first started taking care of her, she would often disobey.

“So, I need to ask this,” says Taehyung, Jeongguk raising an eyebrow at him. “How was your date?”

He tells himself he’s just being polite by asking, since it’s not too out of this world to ask this. But deep down, he knows he’s being nosy. Plus, after Nari’s comment last night, he’s… curious. Maybe Jeongguk can confirm that his suspicions—Jeongguk not being straight—are true.

“Do you need to or do you want to?” asks Jeongguk with a raised eyebrow, Taehyung smiling at him widely in response. “I mean… it was okay, I guess. She was nice.”

“You guess,” Taehyung says, raising an eyebrow. Jeongguk bites down on his bottom lip, and Taehyung adds, “I guess she was, since you came home late.”

“Taehyung!” Jeongguk says in a hushed voice, Taehyung wiggling his eyebrows at him. “Nothing like what you’re thinking happened.”

“Oi, just thought I would ask,” replies Taehyung, resting his chin on his palm. “You know that there would be nothing wrong with it happening, right? You can have fun, still. Being a parent doesn’t take that away from you.”

“I know it doesn’t,” Jeongguk says, sounding reluctant. “It’s just… right now I’m not really looking for a fling, you know? And if I want a partner, I need to make sure that they’re good for me and Nari before getting involved.”

Taehyung nods, understanding. Jeongguk makes a valid point, truly. He’s old enough to know what he wants, what he’s looking for, and what is best for him and his daughter.

“It’s good to see you put her before anything and anyone else,” Taehyung says. “I mean, that’s what you should expect from every parent. But sadly enough, not everyone is like that.”

Jeongguk smiles a little. “Well, you know me,” he says. “You know she comes before anyone else.”

And Taehyung does, really. That’s something that he has known without a doubt since he first started taking care of Nari, and the main reason why he thinks Jeongguk is a great, great parent.

“I know she does,” Taehyung says. “I know, I know.”

 

 

Taehyung doesn’t want to admit he has thought about it, but by the time he gets home on Monday night, he must say that he has thought about Jeongguk and his date a few times that day. He found out the name through Jeongguk, and when he talked about it to Yoongi he discovered that she’s a co-worker. That’s why he’s been thinking about it today. To see if there is any update.

The other things that Taehyung has heard about Hyoyeon aren’t very encouraging, though. According to Yoongi she is indeed nice, but he has never seen any kind of chemistry between Jeongguk and her. Plus, from what Yoongi has said, she’s not very fond of kids. And Taehyung trusts Yoongi’s word. And well, Taehyung is nosy. So when Jeongguk gets home that night, he can’t help but ask.

“Is there any news on Hyoyeon?” he asks, not even bothering to be casual or smooth. Jeongguk raises an eyebrow then, so he adds, “I know you work together.”

“I don’t recall telling you that,” Jeongguk replies, a teasing edge to his voice.

“Well,” Taehyung starts, crossing his arms over his chest and looking at Jeongguk with a smile. “I did my homework.”

His response makes Jeongguk laugh before he says, “I see, I see. But… I have been thinking about it all day yesterday, and today, too,” Jeongguk says, Taehyung nodding along. “And… I’m not sure if we’re the best match. She’s not big on kids.”

“That’s definitely a problem,” Taehyung says, followed by Jeongguk sighing. He doesn’t sound too sad or disappointed so he must not have liked her that much. “It’s such a shame, but I am sure eventually you will find a woman who loves you and Nari.”

And that’s when Jeongguk says, “It doesn’t have to be a woman.”

“Uh?” Taehyung asks. He’s aware that he must sound like a total imbecile, but it’s the only thing he can get out. Did he really hear right?

“I said, it doesn’t have to be a woman,” Jeongguk repeats. “Anyone. Anyone who loves both me and my daughter.” Taehyung is silent for a moment, so Jeongguk adds, “I hope that’s in no way a problem?”

Taehyung can’t help but break out into a big, wide smile. So what he has been suspecting since Nari told him about Jeongguk’s friend is true, huh? That’s interesting.

“Not a problem at all!” Taehyung rushes to add. “Please, no way. I’m gay myself, so. Yeah. No problem in the slightest.”

“Uh huh,” Jeongguk says, smiling back at him. “Don’t ask me why, but I had a hunch?”

“And what is that supposed to mean?” Taehyung asks, feigning offence. Jeongguk just laughs, so Taehyung insists, “Jeongguk!”

He doesn’t stay much longer after that, walking back to Namjoon and Yoongi’s. As soon as he’s in, and after taking his shoes off, he stomps into the living room, pointing an accusatory finger in Yoongi’s direction.

“You!” he exclaims then, watching confusion take over both Yoongi and Namjoon’s faces. “You never told me he wasn’t only into women!”

“He, who?” Namjoon asks then, confused.

“Jeongguk!” Taehyung says. “He told me today.”

“I didn’t know, sexuality is not something we discuss during coffee breaks, you know,” Yoongi says then, making Taehyung huff. “Plus, I fail to see how it is any of your concern.”

“Please,” Taehyung says then, giving Yoongi a look. “You know me. You know I’m nosy.”

And,” Namjoon interjects then, “you know how is. Isn’t that Jeongguk guy attractive?”

Yoongi bursts out into laughter then, Namjoon following suit as Taehyung crosses his arms over his chest and looks at them, baffled. “Look, I don’t know what perception you have of me,” Taehyung starts then, “but I am capable of being around attractive men while still doing my thing. I am a professional.”

He knows both of them are teasing him, but what can he say? He falls for the teasing, if what falling for it implies is standing up for himself.

“And I don’t doubt that, but you’re a bit too concerned about Jeongguk’s sexuality, aren’t you?” Yoongi asks. Taehyung pouts. “Just admit you’re attracted to him, and that’s why you’re happy he is into guys.”

“I will never,” Taehyung says. He realizes his cheeks feel a little warm now, and that added to the looks on Yoongi and Namjoon’s faces tell him they don’t believe him. “What?”

“Nothing at all,” Yoongi says, and Taehyung takes that as his cue to leave his room and walk to the bathroom. When he’s about to close the door behind himself he hears Yoongi add, “Just know we’re here when you want to admit you have a crush!”

Taehyung just gasps and closes the both between himself, not bothering to reply.

 

 

 

When Taehyung got a text from Jeongguk at the start of the afternoon saying that he’d be coming home a little later than usual, Taehyung didn’t think much of it. He doesn’t really have to rush back home, since he has nowhere to be, so he’s not bothered about staying for a little longer if he’s needed. It’s fairly early in the evening still, so it’s not that bad by Taehyung’s standards.

Clearly, his standards and Jeongguk’s are not the same.

“Wait, you’re walking home at this hour wearing just that?” Jeongguk asks, pointing at Taehyung’s denim jacket and scarf with disbelief written all over his face.

“Uh, yeah?” Taehyung replies, scratching the back of his head. “Why?”

“It’s almost December,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung furrows his eyebrows. “It’s cold.”

“Oh my God,” Taehyung says then, rolling his eyes. “It’s still fall. It’s not that cold, I have a scarf.”

Jeongguk seems almost offended by his words, his eyes widening comically. “A scarf is in no way enough for this weather! You’re going to freeze if you go out like this. Trust me, I just got home and I’m freezing.”

Taehyung laughs then, endeared. He finds it incredibly sweet how Jeongguk is concerned about his well-being, but he’s more than fine. “And I go home like this every day, and I’m perfectly fine,” he replies. “I’ll be fine!”

“No,” Jeongguk insists. “No way am I letting you walk back home in this cold wearing just a denim jacket. That’s laughable.”

“Jeongguk—”

“Look, if you think it’s weird that I care about your health, look at it this way,” he starts. “You take care of my daughter and you know how kids are with colds. I don’t want you to get anything and pass it to her.”

“Firstly, I don’t think it’s weird,” Taehyung says with a laugh. “And really, I’ll be fine. I’ll bring a coat tomorrow, I promise.”

“Yes, you do that,” Jeongguk says, nodding. “As for tonight, I’ll drive you home.”

“No way,” Taehyung says, feeling his face warm up. He knows Jeongguk is tired after a long day—last thing he wants is for him to have to drive him home because he didn’t bring a coat with him. “I won’t let you! You stay here and rest, come on.”

“Yeah, and let you freeze to death?” he says. Before Taehyung can reply that he won’t freeze to death, please Jeongguk is adding, “I’ll wake Nari up and we can go, okay? She hasn’t been sleeping for long, she’ll be fine.”

As much as Taehyung tries to argue, Jeongguk won’t give in. That’s how he finds himself in the passenger seat of Jeongguk’s car, giving him indications of how to get to his place as Nari sleeps in the backseat.

The drive there is not long, the car filled with their hushed voices as they try to keep their voices down to let Nari rest.

“See? It’s cold,” Jeongguk says when they stop at a traffic light, pointing to the thermometer. “And you wanted to walk wearing just that, tsk.”

“You worry too much,” Taehyung says, laughing a little as he turns to look at Jeongguk.

Jeongguk looks back at him, face bathed with the red from the traffic light. “I don’t worry too much,” he says. “I just care.”

Taehyung swallows then, worrying his lower lip between his lips since he doesn’t know what to say that. Jeongguk’s comment made his stomach feel funny, and Taehyung is pretty sure that is what people refer to when they talk about butterflies.

Before he can say anything the traffic light changes to green, and Jeongguk is looking back to the road away. Now that he doesn’t have Jeongguk’s big, doe eyes on him Taehyung feels like he can breathe again, but it doesn’t stop the warmth from spreading in his chest. And he doesn’t know why.

They eventually get to Taehyung’s street and Jeongguk parks the car, their time together coming to an end. Taehyung is about to thank him and leave when Jeongguk starts talking.

“I swear I’ve been here before. When have I—? Wait,” he mumbles, more to himself than to Taehyung. “Yoongi! You live with Yoongi?”

“Oh, God,” Taehyung says. “Yeah, I do. He’s my brother’s boyfriend. I thought you would have figured out? Since he put me in contact with you.”

“I had no clue!” Jeongguk exclaims, voice still hushed. “I know you said you lived with your brother and his partner, but I had no idea it’d be Yoongi.”

“Oh, well,” Taehyung says with a smile. “It’s him. I have been crashing on their couch for a few months now.”

“You sleep on their couch?” Jeongguk asks then, sounding mildly scandalized. “I thought you had a room.”

“It’s not a permanent thing,” Taehyung rushes to add. “I just need to get enough money for a place of my own. And, well—you know up until I started taking care of Nari I didn’t have a stable job. Now, both with the babysitting and the art classes, hopefully it won’t be too long until I find somewhere else.”

Jeongguk hums. Taehyung knows that Jeongguk himself has struggled with finances in the past and still does nowadays, so he knows that Jeongguk knows where he’s coming from, and why he sticks to a couch.

And then Jeongguk nods, because he knows and understands. Of course he understands.

“So,” is what he says next, a devious smile appearing on his lips. “What is like living with Yoongi hyung?”

 

 

The moment Jeongguk tells Taehyung one night that he has to talk to him, Taehyung’s imagination runs wild. He can’t help but put himself in the worst case scenario, wondering if perhaps Jeongguk wants to fire him. Not that anything has gone wrong, at least in Taehyung’s eyes, but he can’t help it.

“Sure, sure,” Taehyung says, sounding strained even to himself. “What’s up?”

“It’s nothing bad, I promise,” Jeongguk says, definitely noticing Taehyung’s nervousness. “You can—we can sit on the couch and talk about it, yeah? I’ll make some tea.”

Taehyung almost wants to say no, to tell Jeongguk to get straight to the point, but he ends up accepting and helping Jeongguk with the tea. So a few minutes later finds both of them sitting on Jeongguk’s couch, each of them with a cup of tea, while Taehyung waits for Jeongguk to start.

“Well,” he says. “I’ve been doing finances tonight, and—I had an idea. But you don’t have to feel pressured to accept if you don’t like it, you know? No pressure. It’s just a suggestion, something that could help both of us.”

“Cut to the chase, Jeongguk,” Taehyung says, giving Jeongguk a small, nervous smile. What is it that Jeongguk has thought about, that he sounds so insecure about? “No pressure. Just lay it on me.”

“Ah, well, so,” Jeongguk starts, “I have been doing finances, as I said, and… it’s hard, you know? To pay for everything when it’s just my salary, especially now that the winter months are coming. So, I was wondering… I have a guest room. And you’re looking for a place to stay. So maybe it’d be a good idea if you moved here? Like an au pair sort of thing, except I’d pay you your salary and I think we could split the bills and some other common expenses. Plus, I think it’d be a good idea because of the babysitting and the art classes, you know? Because they’re here, and—”

“You’re rambling,” Taehyung interrupts with a smile.

“Sorry,” Jeongguk says, swallowing down. “Just—I don’t need an answer straight away, you know? You can think about it.”

Taehyung nods, staying quiet for a moment to process all of it. As Jeongguk said, there are a lot of pros, and it’d be easier to take care of Nari like this. It’d be like a roommates sort of arrangement, except he’d be taking care of Nari. And he knows Jeongguk—he’s sure they’d get along just fine living together.

It’d obviously be more expensive than living with Namjoon and Yoongi, since they’d be sharing expenses, but it’d be fair. Plus, he is tired of leeching off people. He wants to be independent, to have his own source of income and be able to pay bills with his money. He’s an adult now.

“I like the idea,” he says, watching Jeongguk’s face transform with surprise. “Like you said, I’m looking for a place and me living here would be convenient for both of us. But are you sure? It’s just you and Nari—a family. I don’t want to intrude in any way.”

“You wouldn’t be intruding in any way,” Jeongguk rushes to add. “I offered. Believe me, I have been thinking about it and I’m sure. You know I wouldn’t be offering you this if I wasn’t sure it’d be good for Nari, and for our family overall.”

Taehyung nods. “Then, I think yes?” he says. “Like—it’s a yes, from my side. I think I want to talk to Namjoon and Yoongi a little about it, but yes. I think it’s a good idea.”

Jeongguk’s face lights up then, mouth stretching into a smile so wide it shows all of his teeth. He’s adorable, really.

“Oh, God, thank you so much,” he says, leaving his cup on the coffee table. He then surges forward and pulls Taehyung into a tight hug, repeating, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Taehyung laughs, returning the hug. If his relationship with Jeongguk keeps going as well as it has up until now, he has no doubt this will go great.

 

 

The night he moves out of Namjoon and Yoongi’s apartment, both of them take him out for dinner, as a sort of a farewell. He goes by Jeongguk’s to drop all of his stuff off beforehand, an opportunity Namjoon takes to introduce himself to Jeongguk. He told Taehyung that he wanted to make sure his little brother was in good hands, but Taehyung knows that in reality he’s just nosy. It runs in the family.

He tells Jeongguk that they’re going out and ask if he wants to join, but Jeongguk declines, saying he’d rather spend some time with Nari now that he can. Taehyung smiles warmly at him and promises to not come back late before leaving with a see you later, roomie!

They decide to go for Korean beef because it’s a special night, or at least that’s the reasoning Taehyung gives when they ask him what he feels like eating. So they go to their favorite place, one they have gone to together plenty of times before.

See, the thing with Taehyung is that he is definitely a lightweight. So, even if he drinks not a lot of soju and while eating, by the time it’s time to go home and stand up he realizes he’s… not sober. Maybe even tipsy. Yep, he’s definitely tipsy.

“I can’t believe you’re coming home drunk the first night after moving in with Jeongguk,” Namjoon teases, Taehyung clinging to his arm as they walk to the car. “You okay there?”

“I am not drunk,” Taehyung says. He can walk, he just doesn’t feel like making the effort. The world is shaking just a little bit, but he still has balance, thank you very much. He just feels his cheeks so, so warm. “Do you think Jeongguk will mind?”

“Hopefully not?” Yoongi says. “I can’t tell, I’ve never discussed how he feels around tipsy roommates around his daughter, sorry. But we’ll make sure to mention this is not a recurring thing, okay? And that you don’t drink a lot.”

“Yeah, exactly,” says Namjoon as they get in the car. “Plus, maybe you’ll feel a little more sobered up by the time we get there.”

Truth is, they get to the building and Taehyung feels just as buzzed. Namjoon and Yoongi accompany him to the apartment, even if Taehyung tries to protest and say he, obviously, is well enough to go on his own. Jesus, he just had a few drinks. He’s a lightweight, yeah, but he can think with clarity and is aware of what he’s doing. He’s just a little happier than average.

He manages to get his key in the lock on the first try and looks over his shoulder to stick his tongue out at Yoongi, who teased him and said he wouldn’t be able to. He opens the door and sees Jeongguk’s head peak through from the living room. He’s already in his pajamas, something Taehyung hadn’t seen even the day he stayed the night at the apartment, and it makes Taehyung smile widely.

“Hello there, roomie,” he greets as he steps inside. He looks back at Namjoon and Yoongi, starting to say, “Now you two, good—”

“Before he kicks us out,” Namjoon interrupts, much to Taehyung’s displeasure, “he’s a little buzzed. Not that he has drunk a lot, but he can’t hold his alcohol.”

Taehyung crosses his arms over his chest, rolling his eyes with a sigh as Yoongi gives him a sympathetic smile. It seems like it’s in Namjoon’s blood to want to embarrass him. He wonders if it’s a thing all older siblings do, or if it’s just because Namjoon is like that.

“I’m good,” Taehyung insists, turning around to look at Jeongguk. He doesn’t want Jeongguk to get the wrong idea of him. “He’s overreacting, I’m good.”

“Just a little friendlier than usual,” Yoongi says, one corner of his mouth lifting up in half a smile. Taehyung narrows his eyes at him. Traitor. “But he’s good. You’re just a little bit of a lightweight, aren’t you?”

“They are just trying to defame me,” Taehyung says. “Honestly, how do you expect me to not kick you out?”

“We’re not staying, thank you very much for the offer,” says Yoongi with a smile on his face, sarcastically. “We don’t want to wake Nari up.”

“If you guys want to come in for a bit to chill it’s fine, really,” Jeongguk says. “She’s not a light sleeper, so as long as you keep it relatively low, she’ll be fine. Don’t let her stop you from staying.”

Much to Taehyung’s relief, Namjoon and Yoongi politely decline. He loves them, of course he does, and he’s going to miss them a lot, but he’s a little annoyed right now. He wishes they would stop babying him, especially in front of other people. He can take care of himself, he’s not a little boy anymore.

Both of them leave and for a moment Taehyung stays there, not sure of what to say and do. It’s suddenly the same as the first night he spent with any of his past roommates in college, where he didn’t know what to do or say to act normal.

But then Jeongguk asks, “Are you tired?”

“A little, yes,” he says. He wasn’t feeling tired earlier, but after the car ride he’s feeling a little sleepy. He could use a bed right now. “I think I’m gonna go to bed now.”

“I was about to sleep, too,” Jeongguk says, Taehyung smiling at him. “You sure you’re okay?”

“I’m more than okay,” Taehyung says, frowning a little. “Just—Namjoon can get a little overprotective at times, you know. I’m good. I’m an adult.”

“I know you are,” Jeongguk says. “If I didn’t think you were responsible, I wouldn’t let you take care of my daughter, you know that. And I’m sure Namjoon knows, too.”

“I think he forgets at times,” Taehyung says with a sigh. “Anyway! Enough of that. Have I thanked you for letting me live with you, hm?”

“A few times, yeah,” replies Jeongguk with a laugh. “Are you going to thank me again?”

“Yes,” Taehyung says. And this is probably what Yoongi meant by friendlier because suddenly he’s surging forward and wrapping his arms around Jeongguk’s shoulders, pulling him in for a hug. “It means a lot to me. You’re so good to me, Jeongguk. Thank you so much.”

Jeongguk freezes for a moment, but soon enough he’s wrapping his arms around Taehyung’s middle and hugging him back. He’s saying something, but Taehyung doesn’t pay attention and instead chooses to press a noisy kiss against Jeongguk’s cheek.

He chooses that moment to pull away, raising his hand to wave his fingers at Jeongguk. “Goodnight, Guk,” he says. “I’ll see you tomorrow!”

He starts walking back then, leaving Jeongguk alone in the hall. When he gets to the guest room—his room, he tries to figure out if what he saw on Jeongguk’s cheeks was actually a real flush, or just a product of Taehyung’s tipsy imagination.

 

 

Life with Nari and Jeongguk turns out to be easy, so easy that a couple of days in it almost feels surreal to Taehyung that he didn’t have this that long ago. They split the house tasks, take turns cooking and taking care of Nari, bathing her and getting her ready for school. It’s so, so easy to fall into routine—easier than Taehyung had even anticipated.

Something he has noticed is that lately Jeongguk has to stay a lot later in the office, getting home more tired than ever. He tells him one night that it always happens as Christmas time approaches and that as soon as December is over his schedule will get back to normal, to not worry about it. But Taehyung still worries—how could he not?

So he decides to make something for Jeongguk, and cook dinner for the three of them. Usually he makes dinner for Nari and feeds her before Jeongguk gets home, and then, after she’s asleep, they both cook something together. But since today is a Friday and that means Nari’s bedtime is later, he decides it’d be a good opportunity for the three of them to eat together, to have a proper meal.

He starts early into the evening, and if he’s honest he must admit he’s grateful Nari decided to be good and play by her own in the living room, away from the kitchen for most of the evening. He’s almost a little worried his timing might have been off, but in the end he manages to make everything in time, just before Jeongguk arrives home.

His face when he sees what Taehyung has done is priceless, eyes going wide as he takes it in. Nari is hanging from his neck, chatting his ear off, but Taehyung can tell that for a few seconds Jeongguk isn’t listening to her, looking at the dishes.

He gives Taehyung a look, one that says we’ll talk later, and Taehyung just sticks his tongue out at him while the three of them take their seats at the table.

They don’t get a chance to talk until after Nari goes to her bedroom to get ready for sleep, when Taehyung starts picking up the plates from the table.

“Absolutely not,” Jeongguk says, holding his wrist. “You have done more than enough today. I will wash the dishes and clean up now, come on.”

“Yeah, no way,” Taehyung says then, raising his eyebrow at him. “The reason I did it is because I know you’re stressed these days. Letting you clean up would be unfair.”  

“And letting you do it all on your own would be taking advantage of you,” Jeongguk replies, not looking like he’s going to give in.

Taehyung is stubborn, but he feels like Jeongguk is even worse than him. So in the end, he ends up suggesting, “We can split it. You wash and I dry. How does that sound?”

And that is what they end up doing in the end, which happens to be all pros, since they also finish way sooner than expected. It’s not like there is a lot to wash, so they’re done relatively soon, Nari still awake and wandering around.

“Well, that’s it,” Jeongguk says then, taking the rug to dry his hands. He then raises one of them, the palm facing Taehyung. “We make a good team, don’t we?”

Taehyung high fives him, laughing. Something tells him that Jeongguk doesn’t refer to this particular episode, only. He probably means the time since Taehyung moved in, or even before. It feels like they have been a team for a while, now.

“Absolutely,” Taehyung replies, Jeongguk smiling softly at him. “We make the best team.”

(And if the look on Jeongguk’s face right then makes Taehyung’s heart skip a beat, no one needs to know.)

 

 

When the first heavy snow of the season falls at the beginning of December, to say Nari is excited would be an understatement. She even makes Jeongguk and Taehyung promise that, if it snows enough, they will spend the morning together the next day, playing in the snow. Luckily, it’s a Saturday night, so Jeongguk doesn’t have to work the following day.

Turns out, much to Nari’s happiness, that it does snow hard enough. Everything is white the morning after, and Taehyung is woken up by Nari’s squeals of delight when she looks out of the window.

And that’s how he knows he won’t be sleeping much on that Sunday morning.

The three of them have a big breakfast, put on their warmest clothes and venture into the snowy city. They find a park, somewhere they can play safely in. They, obviously, start by doing what everyone needs to do: build a snowman. Nari insists on giving it her scarf, since she doesn’t want it to be cold. In the end, with the help of Taehyung who picks her up, she ends up giving it a face with some pebbles Jeongguk collected for her.

And then, when Nari is safely on the ground and when Taehyung least expects it, it happens. Jeongguk throws a snowball at him.

In all honesty, Taehyung has been involved in quite a fair few snowball fights during his twenty-three years of life, and he must say he’s good at it. So he doesn’t hesitate to collect some snow and throw it right back at him.

Soon enough, the two of them are in a full-blown war, careful not to hit Nari, who is running around between the two of them and throwing both of them snow. When she’s close enough, Taehyung throws her some snow, too, always making sure to not use too much strength and hurt her.

Needless to say, Jeongguk doesn’t have that care with him.

“Why do you keep aiming at me?!” Taehyung asks with a yell, cheeks hurting with how hard he’s smiling. He knows the answer—because he, obviously, is not going to fight his daughter. He still wants Jeongguk to reply.

But instead of him, it’s Nari who replies. “Because Daddy likes you!” she exclaims then, hands on his cheeks as he looks at Taehyung with a wide smile.

“Oi! What was that you said, missus?” Jeongguk replies, walking to Nari and holding her middle so he can spin her around, legs flying as she giggles.

Taehyung wishes he could say he doesn’t pay much attention to it, especially because of the way Jeongguk dismissed it and shrugged it off as if it was nothing—and it probably is nothing to him. But to Taehyung, it is a lot. It makes his heart beat like crazy.

Still, he doesn’t let himself obsess over it. He enjoys the rest of his day with Nari and Jeongguk, from the time in the snow, to the lunch they have out together, to the hot shower he takes once he’s home, only after Jeongguk and he have bathed Nari. While Jeongguk showers, Taehyung makes hot chocolate for the three of them, assigning Nari the task of picking a movie, a task she is an expert at.

It’s not the Sunday he had planned, honestly. But as the evening comes by and he finds himself lying on the couch in his pajamas, tummy full and warm with the hot chocolate, he feels content. Jeongguk is next to him, focusing on the movie, and Nari drifts to sleep between the two of them, exhausted after a long day of playing in the snow. And in that moment, Taehyung realizes he wouldn’t change this for anything in the world.

 

 

No matter how hard Taehyung tried to push it to the back of his mind, the thought of Nari saying that Jeongguk likes him still lingers in Taehyung’s mind. He promised himself he wouldn’t ask, but it’s hard not to. And in the end, he caves in.

Nari and he are home alone during one of the afternoons when there’s not an art class, playing in the living room when Taehyung brings it up.

“Nana, listen here,” he starts, the child humming as she looks up at Taehyung with wide, inquiring eyes. God, she looks so much like Jeongguk. “Remember what you said the other day, when we were in the snow? That Daddy liked me?”

“Yes, I remember,” Nari says, nodding her little head. “Why?”

“What makes you say that?” Taehyung asks. He just hopes that Nari doesn’t tell Jeongguk about this or he’ll be mortified to death and back. He doesn’t want Jeongguk to know he’s curious about this.

“Because he picks on you,” Nari replies, as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “I remember when Daddy and Mommy liked each other and she lived with us, they would always pick on each other.”

“Ah, okay,” Taehyung says, nodding. He bites on his bottom lip, considering asking more about Nari’s mother. He doesn’t want to upset her, but from what he has seen so far, she talks about her very naturally. Maybe asking wouldn’t be such a wrong move, right? “Do you see your Mommy often, Nari?”

“I haven’t seen Mommy since she left,” Nari confesses then. “When it was my birthday I spoke to her on Daddy’s phone! But that ages ago.”

Taehyung nods again, thinking. Jeongguk hasn’t told anything about Nari’s mother, but from his time here and taking care of Nari he could guess she doesn’t keep a relationship with any of them. He just wanted further confirmation.

Before he can think of anything else to ask, Nari says, “Taetae oppa, I want to draw a jellyfish!” pointing to the TV screen, where a documentary is playing. “Can we, can we, can we?”

“Of course, Nana,” he replies, laughing. “Go get the sketchbooks and the markers, okay? And we can draw.”

Nari stands up excitedly, running to her room in search of the drawing supplies. Taehyung sighs. He’s still curious, but he doesn’t want to press the subject any further. He might ask Jeongguk about it someday, maybe. Until then, the small bits he knows will have to do.

 

 

Turns out, arguments about who has to clean end up being a recurring thing between Taehyung and Jeongguk—and it's never because one of them wants to slack off, but quite the opposite. They both offer, and are too stubborn to let go of it and make turns.

Today, Jeongguk has taken the rug Taehyung wants to clean the table with and is hiding it behind his back, not letting Taehyung use it. And Taehyung—well, he's pretending to be angry, laughing and feigning frustration as he fruitlessly tries to snatch it from Jeongguk.

“Just give it to me!” he says, Jeongguk smiling. “Why do you want to clean up so badly? You're so weird.”

“If I'm weird then you’re weird, too,” Jeongguk says, a stupidly charming smile on his face. Who gave him the right to be so handsome, really?

“It was me who spilled ketchup all over the table,” Taehyung says, as a reminder. “Let me clean it up! It's my mess.”

They're almost chest-to-chest now, and maybe that's one of the reasons why Taehyung gets so flustered and Jeongguk says, “How badly do you want it?” He can't help it, but his mind wanders... somewhere else.

“You're terrible,” Taehyung says, ignoring the question. Jeongguk smiles, leaning back against the countertop. Taehyung tries to reach out and grab the cloth again, but Jeongguk manages to get it out of his reach again, and Taehyung's action only brings them even closer together. “Just give it to me.”

“Let's make a deal,” Jeongguk says, and Taehyung looks at him with his eyebrows raised, expectant. “Kiss me and I will.”

Taehyung huffs out a laugh, but he can't deny that Jeongguk's words made him feel a... certain type of way.

“I'm being serious!” he insists, trying to hide how much he likes Jeongguk's proposition, even if he's joking. “Give me the rug.”

“Give me a kiss,” Jeongguk insists, looking straight into Taehyung's eyes.

Taehyung stops fidgeting then, considering the teeny, tiny possibility of Jeongguk being serious. The intensity in which Jeongguk is holding eye contact with him makes him want to squirm, but he really can't bring his eyes away. It feels like Jeongguk has him trapped, even if he can turn around and look away whenever he wants.

“You sure?” he finds himself asking, voice smaller and raspier than usual. It's just a whisper, but Jeongguk still hears and nods. “I will kiss you, then.”

“Good,” Jeongguk says, and Taehyung can't help but notice that Jeongguk's voice is lower now, too. Both in volume and pitch.

Before he can bring himself to regret it, Taehyung leans forward and plants a kiss on Jeongguk's mouth. For a fraction of a second he thinks he misread Jeongguk, his arms hanging awkwardly around his body as his lips press against Jeongguk's, but that's before Jeongguk reacts. He wraps his arms around Taehyung's middle, one around Taehyung's waist and bringing him closer, the other on his hip. And he's kissing back—or rather kissing Taehyung himself, since all Taehyung did was press his lips against Jeongguk's. Taehyung snaps out of his daze then, moving his arms so they curl around Jeongguk's neck, and kisses him properly this time.

Jeongguk's lips are incredibly soft and sweet as they move against Taehyung's, leaving him out of breath and making his toes curl. It's not just the most physical reaction, but his insides are also in flames as Jeongguk kisses him. His mind has gone blank: all he can think is that he's kissing Jeongguk, and fuck, he's loving it.

Taehyung feels Jeongguk's tongue shyly press against his bottom lip, asking him to part his mouth so he can deepen the kiss. Taehyung does so, anticipating, and then—

“Daddy!”

Both Taehyung and Jeongguk pull away at the same time, almost as if they burned each other, and it would be comical if Taehyung didn't feel as disappointed as he did. Jeongguk gives him a look, Taehyung smiles reassuringly at him, as if to say that it's all good, that he should go check up on Nari. And that's what he does.

Jeongguk leaves and Taehyung gives himself a minute to calm down, leaning back against the countertop as he brings a hand to his lips. He really has just kissed Jeongguk. And he wants to kiss him again, and again, and again.

He’s still like that, fingertips lingering against his lips when Jeongguk comes back. “She wants you to read her a bedtime story,” Jeongguk says, Taehyung looking up surprised. “Because she says you always use all the voices.”

Taehyung nods. He doesn’t really know what to say right now, if he’s honest. This is nothing like him, who always has something to say in return. So he just starts walking and mumbles a, “Coming.”

Jeongguk grabs his arm softly as Taehyung tries to walk past him, making him look at him. “You alright?” he asks, frowning a little. Taehyung nods. “We’re good?”

“We’re good,” Taehyung says, nodding again. “I just—the kiss—did you want that to happen?”

Jeongguk’s fingers loosen up around his arm, expression softening. “Yes, Tae,” he says. “I wanted it to happen.”

Despite his efforts to bite back a smile, Taehyung fails terribly, face splitting into a wide smile that he can’t hold back. “Okay,” he sing-songs. “We’ll talk about this later, yeah?”

Jeongguk hums in agreement, and Taehyung finally makes his way to Nari’s room. He doesn’t know when, but after Jeongguk eventually comes, too. He leans against the doorframe and watches both of them, Taehyung as he reads—and obviously, uses all the voices—and Nari as she sleepily giggles. It’s not too long before she’s asleep, and only then does Taehyung look at Jeongguk, even if he has been feeling his presence in the room for a while. There’s such a soft, gentle smile on his face that it makes Taehyung’s chest feel too tight for his heart.

They leave the room and walk down the corridor in silence. And only when they make it to the living room, does Taehyung speak.

“I bet you cleaned the kitchen,” is what he says, as embarrassing as it is. He’s about to beat himself over it when Jeongguk laughs, and well, if it makes Jeongguk laugh it can’t be that bad.

“I did,” Jeongguk says. “But only so we wouldn’t waste talking time, you know. Since you said you wanted to talk.”

Taehyung nods, swallowing. He did say he wanted to talk, but right now he’s not too sure of what to say. He thinks that how he feels about Jeongguk is kind of obvious, if you ask him. Isn’t his crush showing? He feels like it’s showing.

“What I really meant is that I want you to talk and I want to listen,” Taehyung says, watching Jeongguk’s eyebrows lift up. He looks so unimpressed, but a small, little smile still makes its way to his lips.

“That doesn’t sound fair at all,” Jeongguk says, Taehyung smiling at him widely. He knows he can get away with this. “But, okay. It’s just… I was talking to Nari this morning on the way to kindergarten, you know?”

“Hmm, so?” Taehyung asks, tilting his head to look at Jeongguk. God, he has an idea of where this is going, and he is starting to feel embarrassed already. “What about it?”

“She told me about something you two talked about the other day,” Jeongguk says. “Something you asked her.”

Taehyung groans, taking one of the cushions from the couch to cover his face with it. He can’t believe Nari told him that, even if he should have seen it coming. Nari is the kind of kid to share, share, and share, especially with her dad. If he’s honest with himself, asking her was a stupid move on his side. But he just needed to know.

“Oh, my God,” Taehyung says, still hiding his face. “I can’t believe she told you that. Except, I can believe she did, and what I can’t believe is that I went and asked her.”

Jeongguk laughs, and Taehyung feels tempted to let go of the cushion and look at him just because of how beautiful he looks when he laughs. But yeah, as gorgeous as Jeongguk is, Taehyung is still mortified.

“You know, you could have asked me,” Jeongguk says, and even if his words are confident, Taehyung can still hear a hint of shyness in it. “I bet I understand my own feelings way better than my four-year-old daughter.”

“Shush,” replies Taehyung, and this time he does let go of the cushion to throw it to Jeongguk, who catches it between his hands with a laugh. “She’s the one who said it. I wanted to know what she meant.”

“Still,” Jeongguk says, leaving the cushion aside. He shifts a little closer and Taehyung’s heart speeds up, itching to get closer, too. Or all over him. Both would work. “You should have asked me. Still can ask me.”

Jeongguk,” Taehyung says, feeling shy. He’s sure he’s blushing now, Jesus. He never blushes.

“Just ask me,” Jeongguk insists, Taehyung pouting his lips at him.

Jeongguk is looking at him with those eyes again, making Taehyung what do things he needs to ask permission for first, and he can’t help but bite down on his bottom lip. Right now, it’s so obvious where this is going, the tension between them so palpable. So why is he still scared?

“So,” he starts, catching on to Jeongguk’s tongue darting to wet his lips quickly. Oh, God. “Do you like me?”

There’s not a second of silence before Jeongguk is replying, sounding sure of himself as he says, “Yes.” Taehyung releases a breath he was holding in. “Yes, I like you.”

“God, just say you want to make out with me,” replies Taehyung, unable to hold back a big, wide smile.

Jeongguk’s mouth breaks into a toothy smile as well. “Excuse me? Just say you want me to want to make out with you,” he says, making Taehyung laugh loudly.

“Oh, wow,” he says. “Okay, okay. I want you to want to make out with me.”

Jeongguk narrows his eyes again, lips parting, and Taehyung tilts his head, expectant. He can tease, too.

And then Jeongguk reaches out, fingertips brushing against the side of Taehyung’s hand, and hushes out a, “Come here.”

The second time they kiss they’re sitting on the couch, Jeongguk’s hand cupping the back of Taehyung’s neck as Taehyung tenderly holds onto his wrist. It’s slow, even slower than the first time, and they both take their sweet time feeling each other’s lips before pulling away. When Taehyung pulls out to breathe Jeongguk surges forward again and gives him a peck, then another one, and another until Taehyung is laughing into his mouth.

“Wow, and I was the eager one, uh?” Taehyung says, which makes Jeongguk laugh as he gives a squeeze to his thigh.

It’s still early, so they decide to settle in the living room for a while and watch a movie. What does happen in the end is that they cuddle and make out, the movie playing almost as background noise while talking in between kisses.

In that moment, Taehyung feels the urge to ask questions. He wants to know more about Jeongguk, where he comes from and how he got here. And he also wants to know about his marriage.

But right now, he feels at peace, and he loves the feeling of Jeongguk’s hands on him and their mouths together. He doesn’t want to ruin something good like this, so he just gets lost in Jeongguk’s kisses and lets it go. For now, at least.

 

 

Taehyung doesn’t fully know what to expect when Jeongguk tells him his friends will be coming over one Saturday night, after Nari is in bed. At first he offers to go to his room so they can have some alone time, but Jeongguk is adamant on him staying and meeting them. And, well, Taehyung can’t help but melt a little at that.

Things between them are definitely not ambiguous, but it’s not like they’re going to jump into anything. Days are now filled with stolen kisses when Nari is in the other room or when she’s asleep, and Taehyung must admit he loves getting to know this side of Jeongguk. He hopes that it progresses into something as time goes by, but he also understands why Jeongguk doesn’t want to rush into anything. These matters are always delicate when kids are involved, so Taehyung can and will wait.

But that is also why, after accepting to hang out with Jeongguk and his friends, he wonders how he’s supposed to act around them. Besides, Jeongguk hasn’t told him whether his friends know or not about what’s going on between them, and he doesn’t want to be the one to tell them, instead of Jeongguk.

So, in the absence of an answer—he, for some reason, doesn’t want to ask—he decides to go for what is the most logical option: act platonically.

Jeongguk’s friends are Seokjin, Hoseok and the infamous Jimin that Nari talks about so much. They’re not staying for long, they explain, since they plan to go out for drinks.

“Not until late,” Jeongguk says, Hoseok rolling his eyes behind him.

“Just go out and have fun, you know I can handle Nari,” Taehyung insists.

It’s endearing to see how Jeongguk is around close friends, around people his age. The side of Jeongguk that Taehyung is used to is the loving, caring father. And this is not how he acts around Taehyung himself, exactly—with Taehyung he’s more teasing in a flirtatious manner, and they didn’t know each other for too long. It’s very different, but also refreshing to see Jeongguk in his element like this. Joking around with his friends, turning a little louder, laughing at old jokes and talking about people Taehyung doesn’t know.

And despite that, he doesn’t feel out of place or uncomfortable. Jeongguk and his friends do their best to include him, and Taehyung’s extroverted personality helps. And, he must admit, it feels good to see himself fit in Jeongguk’s world.

He insists on helping Jeongguk, and when they’re getting ready to leave, Taehyung takes the glasses they’ve been drinking from to the kitchen. It’s then that he realizes Jimin has followed him, taking the bowls where Jeongguk poured snacks.

“Ah, thank you so much,” Taehyung says, taking the bowls from Jimin’s hands with a smile. He can hear Seokjin and Jeongguk bicker from the living room, making him smile even wider.

“It’s no problem!” Jimin says, smiling warmly at him. “Also—how are you and Jeongguk doing living together? Are you getting along well?”

“It’s going very well,” Taehyung replies, truthfully. “It works out good for both of us and it’s cheaper this way! Plus, I love Nari and I’m glad to help Jeongguk.”

“That’s very good,” says Jimin, nodding. “It’s good he has you to help with Nari, now. Since his wife left he’s barely been living, all he did for a while was work and stay with her until I offered to stay with her sometimes. It’s been a while since we last had a night like this for us.”

“Yeah, I can imagine,” Taehyung says. “We don’t talk much about it, but I know how Jeongguk is, and I know from the little things Nari tells me.”

Jimin sighs, then. “I just want him to be happy,” he confesses. “Jeongguk is like a little brother to me, so seeing him as consumed as he was last year… I want him to be happy, and find someone and rebuild his life, eventually.”

“Do you think he needs to be in a relationship to be happy?” Taehyung asks, curious.

“Oh, no, no. I don’t think he needs to,” Jimin replies, laughing. “But I also know he’s a romantic kind of guy, you know? He wants a partner for life, someone to raise kids with, someone to be with forever. Right now, I’m sure all he needs to be happy is Nari. But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t like to be with someone.

“Yeah, I get what you mean,” Taehyung says, pensive. “I know he would like to spend some more time with Nari. They barely spend any time together when he has to work, but they love each other very, very much.”

Jimin smiles then, his face lighting up. “Yeah, tell me about it,” he says. And well—of course he would know better than Taehyung. He’s one of Jeongguk’s closest friends, and also the one who took care of Nari before Taehyung was in the picture. “I know they’ll be fine—that he’ll be fine. But I just worry sometimes.”

Taehyung gives him a warm, understanding smile. He gets Jimin’s feelings, because he worries about Jeongguk, too. But like him, he knows both Jeongguk and Nari will be fine. And deep down, he hopes he can be part of that.

Their conversation is over when Hoseok appears in the kitchen, asking Jimin whether he’s ready to go or not. Taehyung accompanies them to the hall while they get their coats and shoes on, Jeongguk telling him around what time he’ll be back and saying that he can go to bed earlier if he’s ready.

“Hurry up!” Seokjin calls from outside the apartment, from where the three of them are standing in front of the elevator.

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” calls Jeongguk over his shoulder. He then turns to look at Taehyung, giving him a smile. “See you later, or tomorrow, yeah?”

“Later,” Taehyung corrects, heart beating a little faster when he sees Jeongguk smile brightly at his comment. “See you later. Have fun!”

Jeongguk leans forward and presses a quick kiss to his cheek, his friends cooing from where they are. Taehyung notices both the slight blush on Jeongguk’s cheeks and the look on Jimin’s face, who raises an eyebrow as an amused smile appears on his face. Taehyung knows why—after their conversation in the kitchen, seeing this might come as a bit of a surprise.

After that, Jeongguk quickly pulls away and meets his friends in the elevator, Taehyung waving them goodbye one last time before he closes the door. When they’re gone, he leans back against the door and lolls his head back, feeling how warm his cheeks are under his palms. God, this man is going to kill him.

 

 

It’s later that very same night that Taehyung gets to meet inebriated Jeongguk for the very first time. Not buzzed, not tipsy, but full on drunk Jeongguk comes home that night, with his cheeks flushed and the three top buttons of his shirt undone (and Taehyung refuses to look, with Jeongguk in this state. Even if he’d like to see that chest some other time).

“Oh my God, Guk,” replies Taehyung as soon as Jeongguk steps into the living room, standing up from the couch to help him stand upright. Jeongguk hums then, wrapping his arms around Taehyung’s middle and burying his face into the crook of his neck. “You okay? How much did you have to drink?”

“Not a lot,” says Jeongguk, words slurred together. The fact that he’s mumbling right into Taehyung’s neck doesn’t make it easier for him to understand, either. “I had the same as Jimin. And he’s fine! I don’t understand.”

“Looks like someone else is a lightweight,” giggles Taehyung, amused by the confession. At least he was just tipsy. This is better teasing material, and way funnier. He hopes someone took pictures. “You okay there? I’m assuming you didn’t drive.”

“Hoseok did,” Jeongguk says then, and Taehyung remembers that Hoseok only had juice while all of them were getting started here. “I think I forgot how to drink. It’s been so long since I had more than a—hip—than a glass of wine.”

“Oh, he’s hiccupping,” says Taehyung, amused. He pulls away a little, using one finger to lift Jeongguk’s chin and make him look at him. “How about you get to bed now? I’m sure you could use some sleep.”

Jeongguk surges forward, trying to peck Taehyung’s mouth, but ends up landing one kiss right over his lips. “Okay.” He tries again, this time more accurately. “You smell good. You showered?”

Taehyung laughs, but pulls away. Not because Jeongguk reeks of alcohol—he’s willing to make an exception for him—but because he doesn’t want to take advantage of the situation. Even if he always wants to kiss Jeongguk.

“Yes, right after you left,” says Taehyung, pulling back with a giggle when Jeongguk stretches his neck again to kiss him. Jeongguk pouts. “Go to bed. I’ll bring you something for the headache you’re surely going to have tomorrow, and a water bottle, okay?”

“Mm, ‘kay,” Jeongguk says, closing his eyes. “Walk me to my room?”

Something Taehyung finds out while walking with Jeongguk to the latter’s room, is that Jeongguk is the clingiest drunk Taehyung has ever been with—clingier than Taehyung, even. He wraps an arm around his waist to keep him close, even if that makes them almost trip quite a few times. He also doesn’t want to let him go get the water bottle and the painkiller, even if Taehyung insists. And he tries to steal a lot more kisses, some successfully.

Taehyung finally gets to the kitchen, getting a big water bottle from the fridge and a painkiller. He also gets his phone, scrolling through some social media to give Jeongguk time to change. Luckily for his sanity, when he gets to Jeongguk’s room again he’s dressed in his pajamas and in bed, lights still on.

“Here, have this,” says Taehyung, circling the bed to leave what he’s carrying in what he has come to learn in is Jeongguk’s side of the bed. “I’ll see you tomorrow, yeah?”

“Noooo,” Jeongguk says then, reaching forward and holding Taehyung’s arm. Taehyung raises his eyebrows. Jeongguk tugs at his arm then, adding, “Come here, come here. Sleep with me tonight.”

A blush makes its way to Taehyung’s face instantly, and he stutters a little when he says, “C-come on, Guk. Let go.”

“Nope,” Jeongguk says, stubborn. “Sleep with me. I want to cuddle, and you’re very cuddlable. I like cuddling with you.”

Taehyung laughs, heart swelling a little with Jeongguk’s confession. “You’re a charmer even while drunk, aren’t you?” he asks, which makes Jeongguk bat his eyelashes at him. “Are you sure you want me to sleep in the bed with you?”

See, this is unknown territory for Taehyung, at least with Jeongguk. And even if he knows he would want to share a bed with Jeongguk, he doesn’t know if sober Jeongguk would want to share a bed with him. And, again, he doesn’t want to take advantage of the situation.

“I am positive,” Jeongguk says. “Stay. Please.”

Taehyung is about to say no, but then Jeongguk looks at him with those eyes of his, and really, Taehyung can’t resist. They will just cuddle, that’s for sure.

“Okay,” he says, watching Jeongguk’s face light up at his words. “Make some space for me then, boy.” Taehyung gets in the bed then, and Jeongguk turns the light off before curling around him, pressing his chest against Taehyung’s back. He presses a few kisses against Taehyung’s nape, making him smile. “Sleep, Gukkie. Sleep.”

Taehyung thinks he could get used to this.

 

 

The next morning, Taehyung wakes up feeling like he’s the luckiest man on Earth. Jeongguk is still sleeping, and he’s is not afraid to admit he spends his sweet time watching him before he stirs awake, too.

“Creep,” is the first thing Jeongguk tells him, making Taehyung huff out a laugh.

“I’m cute, not creepy,” he replies, Jeongguk smiling as he twists on the bed so he can lie on his back. “How are you feeling? How’s that hangover?”

“Well, I feel like a truck ran me over and like I could throw up the first meal of my life, but apart from that, I’m quite alright,” Jeongguk says, Taehyung rolling his eyes at him fondly. “At least I don’t have a headache. That’s good, right?”

“Very good. Headaches are the worst part, if you ask me.”

They talk a little, both still under the covers. It becomes hard to tell where one’s body ends and where the other’s begins, since eventually their limbs intertwine under the covers and they’re cuddling again. Taehyung finds it hard to hold back or to turn Jeongguk’s advances on him, so soon enough they’re sharing chaste, close lipped kisses, which mostly consist of their smiles pressed against one another.

It’s right then that they hear Nari’s door open, followed by her footsteps approaching. Taehyung and Jeongguk both freeze, sharing a look—Nari can’t find them in a situation like this without anything being explained to her, much less before Jeongguk and Taehyung themselves determine what’s going on between them. They hear her knock on another door, Taehyung’s, and call his name without getting any answer.

So when the footsteps get closer and closer, Taehyung does the rational thing that any other adult like him would have done: he jumps off the bed. The door is on the opposite side of the bedroom, so when Nari comes in she won’t see him. And he trusts Jeongguk to take her out of the room.

There’s a weak knock on the door, but Nari doesn’t wait for an answer before opening, calling out a sleepy, “Daddy?”

“Good morning, angel,” Jeongguk says, practically jumping out of the bed. “You’re awake so early today, honey.”

“Hi,” Nari replies, followed by a moment of silence. Taehyung can’t see what’s going on, but he assumes they’re hugging then. “Daddy, where’s Taehyung? He’s not answering.”

“Oh? That’s odd, hm,” says Jeongguk, his tone making Taehyung crack up in a smile. “Maybe he wants to play hide and seek, hm? We should look for him and find him.”

“Okay,” Nari says then, and Taehyung can hear her skip on the spot. “We need to find him!”

Jeongguk laughs then, and Taehyung can hear both of them step out of the room and into the corridor. Now he just needs to get out of the room and pretend to be hiding somewhere. He’s about to leave when he hears Jeongguk call out from somewhere in the apartment, “Loser makes breakfast.”

Taehyung narrows his eyes, grinning again. Realistically, he’s going to lose, since there aren’t a lot of hiding spots in the apartment. But, as he’s starting to realize, he doesn’t mind at all.

 

 

Movie nights have become a regular for Taehyung and Jeongguk. And by movie nights, they mean lots of making out while a movie plays in the background.

They both have found a common liking for making out when Taehyung is sitting on Jeongguk’s lap, so they’re indulging in it a lot. Especially tonight. Indulging in it so, so much that somehow Jeongguk’s hands have found their way to Taehyung’s ass, and now they’re kneading and squeezing it greedily.

Taehyung knew the day when things between them stopped being as chaste would come, and he’s glad it has come like this—just during a day like any other, candidly and without it being forced.

He doesn’t know how or when he started, but he’s pretty much grinding on Jeongguk right now, and he’s pretty sure Jeongguk is hard. Not that he is the only one, anyway; Taehyung can feel himself getting excited, too. Which he should have seen coming, with the way Jeongguk touches him and kisses him.

They’re kissing heavily now, tongues curled around each other as Jeongguk grunts into his mouth, making Taehyung grind a little harder every time a sound escapes. He doesn’t know for how long they have been kissing, but even if his lips are kind of numb he still loves the feeling of Jeongguk’s mouth on his.

But sadly enough Jeongguk lets go of his mouth, Taehyung protesting with a whine that turns into a pleasured one when Jeongguk attaches his lips to his neck. Taehyung’s fingers tighten around Jeongguk’s shoulders as he holds his breath, throwing his head back to give Jeongguk more access. His neck has always been terribly sensitive, and with how riled up he is now… The way in which Jeongguk is pressing wet, open-mouthed kisses on his neck is literally making him melt.

He lets his hand fall down from Jeongguk’s shoulder and between their chests, fingers slowly running down the fabric of Jeongguk’s shirt. He can see Jeongguk doesn’t really think much of it until Taehyung gets to his crotch, palming Jeongguk’s erection through his pants and making him take a sharp breath.

Taehyung pulls back a little then, looking down at Jeongguk as he asks, “Can I?”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk says, tilting his head up so he can whisper his words against Taehyung’s lips. “Yeah, go for it.”

Taehyung smiles then, pressing more insistently against Jeongguk’s hard-on now. He’s already so hard, and it takes everything there is in Taehyung to not undo the button of his pants and stroke him properly once and for all. He wants to tease Jeongguk a little bit before giving him what he wants, if he’s honest.

Jeongguk catches his lips in another kiss, this one even hungrier and a little more rushed than the other ones, and Taehyung can’t help but whine into it, still stroking Jeongguk through the fabric of his pants. He drags the pad of his finger over the outline of Jeongguk’s cock, rejoicing in the way it throbs and teasing the head.

And really, it doesn’t take much to know Jeongguk is so, so turned on. That knowledge ignites a fire inside of Taehyung, who threads his other hand through Jeongguk’s hair and pulls him closer. Jeongguk’s breathing turns heavier and heavier each time, and every now and then he lets out the occasional moan when Taehyung’s touch gets a little bit too much.

It’s not long before both of them grow impatient, Jeongguk sucking insistently on Taehyung’s bottom lip until he reaches and pops the button of his pants open. Taehyung kneels up on the couch, still straddling Jeongguk, and the older takes that as his cue to lift himself from the couch enough for Taehyung to pull down his underwear and pants.

Jeongguk’s cock springs free then, and Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip as he looks down at it. He feels almost hesitant when he reaches out and wraps his slender, nimble fingers around Jeongguk’s cock, not missing the way his breath hitches.

He gives himself a moment to get used to the feeling of Jeongguk in his hand, the weight of his cock. They’re not kissing anymore, rather than that Jeongguk is just breathing heavily into Taehyung’s mouth. He slowly starts giving him long, slow strokes, all the way from the base to the tip, and it makes Jeongguk moan brokenly in his mouth. Despite knowing he’s being torturously slow, Taehyung doesn’t hurry his pace up. He keeps it slow, feeling the way Jeongguk’s body tenses under his with anticipation.

At some point he starts stroking to just focus on the tip of Jeongguk’s cock, using his thumb in the parts that he knows are the most sensitive. He relishes in the hisses, the moans and the sighs that Jeongguk exhales into his mouth, in the way he quivers and his hips jerk.

“Fuck, Tae—” Jeongguk lets out, biting down on his bottom lip to quiet himself down.

“I know,” Taehyung says, sounding a little strained himself. How could he not, when Jeongguk is bucking his hips and thrusting into his fist. “I know, babe.”

Jeongguk’s hands slip under his t-shirt, fingers digging into the soft skin of Taehyung and the small of his back. The feeling of skin on skin makes Taehyung gasp, inching closer as he squeezes Jeongguk’s cock in his hand.  He can feel it fucking throb in his hand, driving him crazy.

Reached this point Jeongguk can’t hold back his sounds anymore, moaning against Taehyung’s lips before he kisses him and swallows the noise down. He loses the little self-control he had left, fisting Jeongguk’s cock again and resuming with his strokes, this time faster.

Jeongguk exhales through his nose, his fingers squeezing Taehyung’s hips tight as he gets closer and closer to the edge. Knowing that makes Taehyung smile into the kiss, mouth parting as Jeongguk lolls his head back onto the backrest of the couch.

“Fuck, you—” Jeongguk babbles, words dissolving into a moan when Taehyung leans forward to kiss his neck. “God, baby.”

The movement of Taehyung’s hand around Jeongguk’s cock turns erratic, and so does the jerking of Jeongguk’s hips as he thrusts into Taehyung’s fist. One of Jeongguk’s hands moves from his hip to the back of Taehyung’s head, still buried in Jeongguk’s neck, and thread his fingers through his hair as he moans lowly.

And that’s how Jeongguk comes, holding tightly onto Taehyung as he presses kisses on his throat. He spills all over Taehyung’s hand, who strokes him through his orgasm before bringing his hand to his mouth and licking his fingers clean.

“You’re a menace,” groans Jeongguk then, eyes following closely the way Taehyung’s lips wrap around his digits. Maybe he’s deliberately doing it a little slower than necessary, but no one needs to know that.

“I think I’m quite alright,” Taehyung says, tilting his head to look at Jeongguk. “I think you should shower.”

“I probably should, shouldn’t I?” Jeongguk says, smoothing his palms over Taehyung’s jean-clad thighs. “I think you should join me. And I could take care of you.”

Taehyung knows exactly what Jeongguk means, his cock rock hard inside his jeans. How is he supposed to say no to an offer like that? His lips curl into a small grin, and in the way Jeongguk’s eyes light up he can see that he already knows what the answer will be.

“Sounds like a plan.”

 

 

The first person to bring it up is Yoongi, one night he and Namjoon come over to spend some time with both Taehyung and Jeongguk. The four of them are sitting together, just drinking some wine—except for Yoongi, who has to drive—and talking. Something that Yoongi and Namjoon have in common, Taehyung knows, is how incredibly perceptive they are. So Taehyung shouldn’t be surprised when Yoongi comments on their relationship.

“You almost look like a couple now,” he says, Taehyung and Jeongguk sharing a look then. Jeongguk looks at him with a raised eyebrow, and Taehyung wiggles his at him, making him laugh.

They drop it then, but it still lingers in Taehyung’s mind for the rest of the evening. Not just the fact that they look like a couple, per se. But to him, it does feel like they’re in a relationship now. And if Jeongguk feels the same… well, maybe then they have a future as something official.

He decides to talk to Jeongguk about it once they’re alone, when Namjoon and Yoongi leave. So once that happens, after they’ve cleaned up and when they’re just chilling together, he asks.

“Jeongguk, what are we?”

Taehyung has never been one to be subtle, neither does he like to beat around the bush. Sometimes it can be an inconvenience since he knows delicacy is sometimes needed. But if you ask him, it’s something convenient. Especially in moments like this.

“What do you mean, what are we?” Jeongguk asks, tilting his head at him.

Taehyung frowns. He doesn’t think his question is ambiguous at all, but he still adds, “Well, you know. We’re… something. But are we together?” he says. “Do you want us to be together? Like—a couple.”

“Ah, well…” Jeongguk looks down, then, nervously playing with his fingers. “I want to be. But—I know before that I need to tell you about Nari’s mom and the, uh… the way things are with her right now. Because it’s fair for you to know, if we’re going to be in a relationship.”

There’s something about Jeongguk’s words that makes Taehyung anxious almost. Maybe the ambiguity of his words, and all the different things that could be implied. Taehyung doesn’t want any surprises here, God. But at the same time he’s relieved; he’d be lying if he said that he doesn’t wonder about Jeongguk’s ex every once in a while, and like Jeongguk himself pointed out, it’s only fair for him to know.”

“Yeah, I think that’s for the best,” he says, nodding. “So… tell me, then?”

Jeongguk sighs. “Nari’s mother and I got married when we were young, just twenty-one. And as you know, we had Nari not that long after. For a while things were alright, but I don’t think she was ready to settle down and have a family yet, so…” he says, trailing away. “Around a year ago, she left. She just—one day she disappeared, you know? When I called all she said is that she didn’t want this anymore, so… I don’t know, I don’t know. I haven’t seen her ever since, and the only times we’ve spoken is when she called to greet Nari for her birthday, and for Christmas.”

“You haven’t spoken to her or seen her ever since?” Taehyung asks, starting to see where this is going. Jeongguk shakes his head. “So… You didn’t get a divorce, right? She’s still your wife.”

“Yeah, exactly that,” Jeongguk replies. “That’s, uh—that’s what I wanted you to know. We aren’t together anymore, obviously. But… we aren’t divorced. Yet.”

Taehyung nods, understanding. He knows these things take time, and he had a hunch that Jeongguk and his wife’s split up was quite sudden.

“That’s… that’s not a problem for me, Jeongguk,” he says, reaching for Jeongguk’s hand and squeezing. “And did it just happen?”

“I mean, obviously, things hadn’t been working for a while,” Jeongguk admits. “But I never thought she would just… leave like that. I thought we’d split up and get a divorce. But that’s the way it is, I guess. Nothing can be changed about it now.”

“It’s fine, Jeongguk,” Taehyung insists. “I know the situation is not ideal, but I will be with you through this. Well, if you want me to.”

“I want you to,” Jeongguk rushes to reply. “I do. But I also have to take care of Nari, and I know these things don’t always work as easily as they could when kids are involved. I know she loves you and I’m sure she’d love for us to be together, but maybe we should… give ourselves some time? Just to be sure we want this. I don’t want to tell Nari something and then tell her the opposite and confuse her.”

Taehyung watches Jeongguk ramble with an adoring smile on his face, nodding along. “I completely understand that, Guk,” he says. “She’s your priority, and I wouldn’t even think of changing it. Maybe we could go out on a few dates? See how they go before becoming official.”

“Thank you, Taehyung,” says Jeongguk with a wide smile. “I think that’s a great idea. We’ll do that, yes.”

Taehyung smiles, clicking his tongue. “Amazing,” he replies, leaning forward to press a quick peck on Jeongguk’s lips. “Then, I can’t wait to go on a date with you.”

Jeongguk smiles then, whispering a soft likewise before kissing Taehyung again. He really, really can’t wait.

 

 

Turns out that Taehyung and Jeongguk’s first date is a double date with Namjoon and Yoongi. Which, needless to say, wasn’t Taehyung’s idea. Everyone is so amused by it, except for him.

“I just don’t get it,” he complains from the passenger’s seat of Jeongguk’s car as he drives them to the restaurant where they agreed to meet up. “Who wants to go on a date with their older brother and their significant other? Not me.”

“You whine so much,” Jeongguk says, which makes Taehyung cross his arms over his chest and give him a look. “I used to love going out with my older brother, you know? I just thought he was so, so cool. So any excuse to hang out was good.”

“And you don’t think he’s cool anymore?” Taehyung asks, arching an eyebrow.

“Not at all,” Jeongguk replies, smiling a little. “Now I am way cooler.”

Taehyung laughs, then. “Wow, I don’t want to imagine what a loser he must be for you to be cooler, then.” When Jeongguk whines in protest Taehyung laughs again, adding, “I love Namjoon. But it’s our first date! We should be alone. I don’t want to think of Namjoon and Yoongi every time I look back to our first date.”

“Well, we can’t exactly bail on them now,” Jeongguk says, Taehyung mumbling something in agreement. “But we’ve had a lot of stay at home dates, though. Movie dates.”

“That doesn’t count! We live together, if we counted that every night and every dinner would be a date,” Taehyung protests.

“See? That sounds a lot better. It’d mean I get to go on a date with the most gorgeous boy on earth every single day. Aren’t I lucky?”

“Oh my God, shut up,” Taehyung says then, although he can’t deny that Jeongguk’s words make him a little flustered. Even if he’s most likely playing around.

Taehyung kind of hopes he means them.

They get to the restaurant, eventually, and Namjoon and Yoongi are already waiting for them. Taehyung should have seen it coming, because in the end he ends up having a lot of fun. Namjoon is goofy and Yoongi is witty, and when they first started hanging out Taehyung was almost surprised to find out how well the four of them worked as a group. And tonight is no different; even if Taehyung really would have preferred an intimate first date with Jeongguk alone. But hey, he must admit it’s a great night, regardless.

Yoongi and himself end up drinking soju, their cheeks getting red as Namjoon and Jeongguk tease both of them. Yoongi can hold his alcohol better than Taehyung, but he also drinks more, so his words end up a little slurred.

“You’re just jealous,” replies Yoongi with a smug smile when Namjoon teases him about it. “But it was your turn to drive. I did last time!”

“Gotta be safe here, huh?” Jeongguk asks then, looking at both of them.

“You should let me drive next time. Namjoon says I drive very, very well,” Taehyung informs, patting Jeongguk’s thigh to get his attention. “Plus, you’re clingy when you drink.”

“Oh, is that so?” Jeongguk asks, wiggling his brow as he leans towards Taehyung. “You make it sound as if that’s the only time when I cling.”

“That’s not what I said,” says Taehyung, giggling when Jeongguk gets even closer, making him giddy. “Shush, we’re in public, you menace.”

Jeongguk pecks Taehyung’s jaw, and even though Taehyung tries to keep himself composed, he can’t say the affectionate gesture doesn’t make him melt.

They decide to go home right after dinner since Jimin is staying at home with Nari. The way home is full of chattering, and Taehyung’s tummy feels full with content and happiness. It might have a little to do with the fact that he’s a little tipsy, but mostly happiness. And the Jeongguk effect.

They’re still in the elevator when Taehyung wraps his arms around Jeongguk’s neck, pulling him down for a kiss that catches him off guard. It makes Jeongguk laugh into his mouth, his hand tenderly cupping Taehyung’s face, a gesture that makes Taehyung’s knees go weak.

“I like you,” whispers Taehyung. Their foreheads are resting against each other, their noses are brushing and he can’t stop smiling. And he really doesn’t have a doubt of what he’s feeling. “I like you so, so much.”

“I like you more,” Jeongguk replies, always one to be competitive. Taehyung laughs again. “I like you so, so much. You don’t even know.”

“So tell me,” Taehyung tempts. The elevator door opens then, and Taehyung pulls back a few inches. “When we’re alone, tell me. We have all night.”

Jeongguk narrows his eyes at him, and in that moment Taehyung lets go of him to walk towards the apartment. He knows nothing else—nothing remarkable—is going to happen now, but he also knows they don’t need it. He’s already so, so happy, the warm feeling bubbling in his belly.

Taehyung can’t exactly pinpoint what it is, but there’s something about Jeongguk that makes him incredibly happy. And he’s going to chase that feeling.

 

 

After a few successful dates, Jeongguk and Taehyung decide it’s time to not only make their relationship official, but also to tell Nari. He knows that Jeongguk is afraid of rushing into it, but at the same time, it’s important that Nari finds out through him. If Nari were to find them sneaking around the house… hell, Taehyung doesn’t want to think about that. Kids can be unpredictable, especially if things take them by surprise like that.

To say that Taehyung is nervous when the time to tell her comes, would be an understatement. Jeongguk is talking to Nari in her bedroom since they agreed it’d be best for him to break the news to her on his own.

So now, all Taehyung can do is wait. And he feels like he has been waiting forever.

The most unnerving part of it is that Taehyung doesn’t know what to expect. No matter how much time he spends with Nari and how much he tries to empathize with her, he obviously has an understanding of the world that she doesn’t have. So he wonders—wonders what is going on, how Nari took it and if she’s happy about it. It’s no secret that Nari is Jeongguk’s priority, and he knows that what she thinks is important.

After what feels like a lifetime, he can hear the door to Nari’s room being opened, and he lets out a sigh of relief. He can hear her little steps in the corridor, and soon enough Nari is skipping into the living room, a wide smile on her face.

“Taetae!” she says as she enters, launching herself into Taehyung’s arms. Taehyung picks her up as she jumps, lifting her up and sitting her on his knees. “Daddy said you and him like each other.”

“Hm, did he say that?” Taehyung asks, Nari nodding enthusiastically as he steals a glance at Jeongguk, who is leaning against the doorframe with his arms crossed over his chest and a smile on his face. “And what do you think?”

“I think it’s very good!” she exclaims, clapping her tiny hands. “Because Daddy says that you make him happy, and I always want Daddy to be happy.”

Taehyung can’t hold back a smile at that, watching Jeongguk’s cheeks blush furiously. “I’m very glad, Nana,” he says, poking her tummy softly and making her giggle. “Your Daddy makes me very, very happy, too. And knowing that you’re happy with this makes it even better.”

“So then,” she starts asking then, eyes turning curious, “does this mean you’re going to stay forever?”

“Hopefully,” Jeongguk intervenes there, face still red. “But that’s enough questions for today, angel. You’re such a nosy little thing.”

“Just one more thing!” she says, hands clasped together as she pouts and bats her eyelashes at Jeongguk.

And Jeongguk, well—it’s no secret to Taehyung that Jeongguk has a huge soft spot for his daughter. So it’s no surprise when he says, “One more, yeah?”

Taehyung should have seen it coming.

“Do you kiss each other on the mouth?”

 

 

Going out with Namjoon and Yoongi seems to become a routine for the both of them, since they find themselves in their company on yet another Friday night. This time they’re staying at their flat, and Taehyung has an emotional reunion with his old bed.

It’s right then that they bring up something that they have been talking about for the last few days—how they want some alone time. In private, not out on dates.

“You know I love my daughter more than anything,” Jeongguk rants, looking at the ceiling as he lolls his head back against the wall behind the couch. “But some alone time is essential in every relationship. I have never had an alone night with Taehyung. Not even one!”

“I mean, yeah,” Taehyung says. He’s not too bothered by the whole ordeal, but he must admit some private time with Jeongguk sounds very, very tempting. “Someday. You’re going to need to hire a backup babysitter because you want to go on a date with your current one.”

Jeongguk laughs, his hand clasping around Taehyung’s knee and making him feel butterflies in his tummy.

“I mean, probably,” Jeongguk says. “I know Jimin would say yes if I asked him, but I feel like I have taken advantage of him already. I’m a terrible best friend.”

“God, just say you want to have sex without Nari in the house,” Yoongi says.

“I bet sex with a four-year-old sleeping in the next room isn’t as enjoyable,” adds Namjoon, both Taehyung and Jeongguk wordlessly ducking their heads down.

I wouldn’t know, thinks Taehyung to himself. Because, well. Jeongguk and he have done stuff—a few handjobs, a couple of blowjobs, but that’s all. They haven’t gone all the way yet. And both Namjoon and Yoongi seem so sure that they have.

“Are either of you a screamer?” Yoongi asks then, a mischievous eyebrow raise.

“Ew, too much info,” Namjoon replies then, frown on his face. “It’s my little brother. I don’t need or want to know whether he’s a screamer or not.”

“Well, I’m not going to tell you, so don’t worry,” Taehyung says, kicking Namjoon lightly. “You’re safe. So is your peace of mind.”

“Okay, but jokes aside,” Namjoon says then. “I must do my job as… step-uncle. Whenever you feel like having some alone time, Yoongi and I can take care of her.”

“Sounds dangerous,” Taehyung comments with a smug smile, Namjoon narrowing his eyes at him.

“I promise it’s not,” Yoongi says, almost protesting. “Maybe Namjoon is a little clumsy sometimes, but Taehyung is always exaggerating, so. Don’t trust his word. We’ll be good step-uncles.”

“Ah, I’m sure you will,” Jeongguk says, sheepish smile appearing on his face. Taehyung leans forward and pecks his cheek, Namjoon and Yoongi cooing at the same time. “Maybe she can stay with you sometime? Only if you’re sure. She is settling now, but she’s a handful.”

“We’ve been talking about it, actually,” Namjoon says, stealing a glance at Yoongi. “Let’s see how we do with this parenting thing, hm?”

Taehyung squeals then, mouth opening in an ‘O’. “You want to be parents?” he asks, Namjoon and Yoongi sharing a look. “You want to adopt? Oh my God. Oh my God! Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because we’re still discussing it,” Yoongi replies. “And there is still a lot to discuss. But yeah, we’d take care of Nari anytime, guys. Tomorrow is Saturday—does that work well for both of you? We aren’t doing anything.”

Taehyung looks at Jeongguk, only to find his eyes already on him. “If you’re up for it, I’m up for it,” he says, biting down on his bottom lip.

“I’m up for it,” Jeongguk says, nodding. Taehyung wets his lips. Why is he suddenly nervous?

“So…” Namjoon says. “Tomorrow, yeah? You can drop her off in the afternoon or the evening. Whatever works for you, honestly.”

Both Taehyung and Jeongguk nod, Jeongguk replying to Namjoon, but Taehyung isn’t really listening. All he can think about is that it’s happening, it’s really happening. Because he knows what is—most likely—going to happen if they get to be alone one night. And God, he wants it. Of course he wants it.

But he’s also so fucking nervous, because it’s Jeongguk.

When Taehyung tunes in again, it’s to Namjoon asking, “So, tomorrow at six?”

And, yes. It really is happening.

 

Turns out, Jeongguk is the real definition of a gentleman. Since, for once, they get to have the house for themselves, they decide to stay in and have dinner at home. Jeongguk doesn’t let him help, though. In his own words, Taehyung is banned from entering the kitchen, and every time Taehyung tries to sneak in Jeongguk will get him out of there before he can even take a look at what Jeongguk’s doing.

Still, Taehyung changes so he’s not in his pajamas. Even if he’s not sure about what Jeongguk is cooking, he can smell it, and he knows that’s not their every day dinner. Plus, Jeongguk asked him if he’s okay with drinking wine. Wine. So dress up, he must. Even if it’s nothing too crazy.

Jeongguk makes him promise he won’t sneak into the kitchen while he himself gets changed, but he doesn’t trust Taehyung’s word to not go steal a glance, so he ends up changing with Taehyung lying on the bed. Not that he’s going to complain, for real. Jeongguk half-naked is a sight, and there’s something endearing about the way he wiggles into his pair of dark jeans.

“What are you looking at?” Jeongguk asks smugly then, throwing at his head the pair of sweatpants he was wearing.

Taehyung laughs, putting them aside only to find out Jeongguk has now taken his tee off. Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip, taking in the sight of Jeongguk’s abs before he turns around. He has a nice—and by nice Taehyung means excellent, amazing, worth-drooling-over—back, so there’s not really any loss.

“At a sexy man,” Taehyung replies then, Jeongguk scoffing lightly. “What?”

“You’re such a flatterer,” Jeongguk replies, opening his wardrobe. He’s trying to play it cool, but Taehyung can see the tips of his ears go red.

“I’m nothing but an honest man,” Taehyung replies. “You come here, trap me in your room and then strip and show me your muscles. Are you trying to seduce me, Mr. Jeon?”

Jeongguk laughs then, slipping his arms into the sleeves of his black shirt. The material looks so soft, Taehyung thinks. He can’t wait to feel it under his hands when he kisses Jeongguk later.

“You’re terrible,” Jeongguk says. “And I did not trap you. But you are not stepping into my kitchen yet, mister.”

Taehyung gasps, feigning offence. “You said that I’m sexy?” he asks, Jeongguk turning around with a raised eyebrow as he starts to button up his shirt. “But Mr. Jeon, I am the babysitter. We can’t.”

“Is role-playing something you’re into?” Jeongguk asks then, teasing him.

Taehyung jumps to his feet then, getting closer to Jeongguk. He’s now doing the top buttons of his shirt, but Taehyung takes his hands in his own before taking over Jeongguk’s task.

“Well, I’m into you,” Taehyung says then. He’s looking down at his hands working on the buttons, but he can feel Jeongguk’s stare on him. When he’s done he looks up at him, their eyes meeting. “Especially when you’re in all black. Again—you’re sexy. So hot.”

“And again—you’re a flatterer.”

Taehyung doesn’t say anything, just leans forward and brushes his lips against Jeongguk’s. The touch is barely there, but it’s still enough to send electricity down his spine. He can feel Jeongguk’s breath against his lips, feel the way his chest heaves up and down under his palms. And he knows that they have dinner waiting and the stove still on, so there’s not time for this. Yet…

“Hm, your shirt is so soft,” he says then. There’s a beat of silence before Jeongguk smiles, laughing quietly, and Taehyung’s own mouth breaks into a grin then.

“My shirt is—really?” Jeongguk asks, pulling back a little so he can look at Taehyung without going cross-eyed. “You’re a terrible tease, you know that?”

Dinner is ready soon after that, and to say that Taehyung is impressed would be an understatement. He doesn’t know how Jeongguk managed to make so much—and such quality—all on his own, especially since it’s not like he had a lot of time. Taehyung knew that Jeongguk went grocery shopping earlier that morning, but he didn’t see all of this coming. But well, something he has come to learn about Jeongguk is that he’s a superhero of sorts.

They move to the sofa over another glass of wine, and Taehyung rests his legs on Jeongguk’s lap while Jeongguk mindlessly draws patterns into his slacks. They talk about everything and nothing, about Nari, about Yoongi and Namjoon thinking about each other—they talk about themselves, who they are and what they are to each other. Taehyung must admit that he still gets lightheaded every time he says us, or we. It’s crazy to think that they’re in a relationship now, that they’re boyfriends. But with how comfortable he feels with Jeongguk, how at home he is, the little situations like the one they’re in right now… with all of that, how could they not be together?

Taehyung makes sure to not drink too much, and even if Jeongguk hasn’t explicitly said anything, Taehyung thinks he’s doing the same. He declines Jeongguk’s offer for another glass when he finishes his own, and it’s not too long after Jeongguk himself is putting his own glass away, too. They’re still in the same position, Taehyung sitting with his legs on Jeongguk’s lap and facing him, but they’re closer this time. And although it wouldn’t be the best position, he could lean forward and kiss him.

Jeongguk’s hands are on his thigh, and Taehyung catches them with his own and interlocks their fingers. He doesn’t say anything as he rests his cheek on the back of the sofa, eyes staring intensely at Jeongguk as he plays with his fingers.

“What?” Jeongguk asks then, inquisitive. Taehyung bites on his bottom lip but his mouth still stretches out in a smile as he shakes his head. “What’s up, baby?”

Taehyung melts a little at the pet name, heart skipping a—just one? It felt like more—beat. How does this man have such an effect over him?

“Nothing,” Taehyung says, but he can see on Jeongguk’s face that he doesn’t believe him. “I was just thinking that you look very handsome tonight.”

“Come here,” Jeongguk says then. His voice is hushed still, even if they’re alone now. For some reason, it makes Taehyung’s toes curl.

“Come where?” Taehyung asks, even if he knows well what Jeongguk means by here. He just wants to hear him say it.

“Come sit on my lap,” Jeongguk replies, and there it is. Taehyung swears he really doesn’t know what it is, but there’s something about Jeongguk that makes him, so, so weak.

So Taehyung moves, taking his legs off Jeongguk’s lap only so he can crawl back to it. Jeongguk’s hands hold onto his hips as soon as Taehyung is sitting on his lap. Neither of them say anything then, but there’s no need to—with the way that Jeongguk is looking at him now, he needn’t say anything.

He rests his palms on Jeongguk’s shoulders, feeling the soft material of his shirt under his palms as he tilts his head a little. The tension between them could be cut with a knife, especially because they both know where this is headed. This is not like the previous times where their kissing turned into something more, where they really didn’t have any plans of taking things further. But Taehyung isn’t nervous, oddly enough. There’s always something about Jeongguk and the intimacy of that moment that makes him feel safe and soothed. And to him, that means a lot.

He doesn’t know which one of them leans in first, but then Jeongguk’s lips are on his own, soft and sweet as always, but with a slight tang of wine on them now. Taehyung exhales through his nose, shifting a little on Jeongguk’s lap so they’re chest to chest now, and wraps his arms around his neck before deepening the kiss.

Jeongguk and he had kissed a lot, but never like this. Every kiss, even every touch seems to make Taehyung needier and needier. It’s like he can’t get enough of Jeongguk’s mouth, and every time they pull back for breath it ends with Taehyung diving back in, drowning Jeongguk in more and more kisses.

He’s burning under Jeongguk’s hands, that move from his hips to his thighs, sometimes settling on his ass and giving it a squeeze. Taehyung gets even closer then, trying to hint at Jeongguk that he wants more—needs more.

And so, all he can do is nod wordlessly when Jeongguk asks, “Bedroom?” He was about to pull out of Jeongguk’s lap and start walking towards his bedroom, but then he feels Jeongguk’s hands wrap around his thighs as he stands up, Taehyung yelping in surprise as he clings to Jeongguk’s shoulders.

“You okay there, babe?” he asks, humored. Taehyung doesn’t have the energy or will to reply or fight back, so he just buries his face in Jeongguk’s neck, tightening the hold of his legs around Jeongguk’s hips.

“You’re such a show off,” he says, muffled against the skin of Jeongguk’s neck.

Jeongguk laughs then, opening the door to his bedroom and turning the lights on before he gets to the bed and gently drops Taehyung. Before he has a chance to step back, Taehyung wraps his arms tighter around his neck and pulls down, making Jeongguk fall on top of him with a giggle.

He pulls him in another kiss, smiling into it as he rolls so he can be the one on top of Jeongguk. He shivers when he feels Jeongguk’s tongue gently pushing at his bottom lip, asking for access that Taehyung grants. He can feel Jeongguk tugging at his shirt from where it is tucked in his slacks, slipping his hands under the hem of it when he’s done. He can feel the goosebumps appear on his skin when Jeongguk’s hands are on the small of his back, the tips of his fingers playing with the waistband of his pants.

Taehyung is up to no good, though. Just like he buttoned Jeongguk’s shirt earlier, he’s now making sure to blindly pop all the buttons open, not detaching his mouth from Jeongguk’s. He’s hypersensitive to the feeling of his hands and mouth on him, especially as he lets the pads of his fingers wander down Jeongguk’s now bare chest.

Jeongguk’s tongue feels like lava in his mouth, curling against Taehyung’s and making it harder and harder to breathe each time. He feels like his lungs are screaming at him to breathe, but that’d mean not kissing Jeongguk for some precious seconds, and he’s not going to allow that.

He shivers when the tips of Jeongguk’s fingers slip under his pants, timidly stroking the lower part of his back. Or is that considered ass, already? Taehyung doesn’t know, but what he’s sure of is that he wants to get rid of those stupid slacks so Jeongguk can slip his hands further down, so he can touch him everywhere. He’s getting impatient, but truth is that this has just begun.

“Sit up, babe,” Jeongguk mutters against his lips, voice strained in a way that makes Taehyung oblige without question. They’re in the same position they were back on the sofa, with Taehyung sitting on Jeongguk’s lap, when Jeongguk’s hands move to his shirt and unbutton it. Unlike Taehyung, he’s fast, his agile fingers quickly popping the buttons open.

“Someone’s eager,” Taehyung jokes then, mouth splitting into a smile when Jeongguk’s eyes meet his. He doesn’t stop undressing Taehyung, though, pulling Taehyung’s shirt down once it’s unbuttoned.

“Yeah, and that someone is me,” Jeongguk replies, leaning down to kiss Taehyung’s shoulder. Taehyung giggles then, throwing his head back when Jeongguk makes a path of kisses from his shoulder all the way up to his neck. Taehyung sighs at that, and Jeongguk whispers against his skin, “Fuck, babe. So sexy.”

“Shush,” Taehyung says, feeling his cheeks get warmer at the attention.

He can feel Jeongguk’s fingertips linger on his back, rising goosebumps at their wake and making Taehyung shiver. And there’s something about this, about being in Jeongguk’s arms, that makes him feel in a way he hasn’t felt before. Happy, safe, comfortable, but also very turned on—all at once, to the point where it’s almost overwhelming.

Before he can do anything, Jeongguk leans forward again and pulls him in for yet another kiss. Taehyung doesn’t waste any time, hands fumbling with the few buttons that he hasn’t opened yet, and pushing Jeongguk’s shirt out of the way when he’s done. As soft as it is, Jeongguk’s skin is softer; soft, and warm, and so, so kissable. Taehyung can’t wait to trace all of it with his mouth and his hands, until every corner of Jeongguk’s body is engraved in his memory.

Jeongguk shifts on the bed, moving towards the middle of it and taking Taehyung with him, before lying on his back again. This time Taehyung doesn’t lie back with him, though. He’s kneeling with his legs at each side of Jeongguk’s hips, hovering over him, who is looking at him with a raised eyebrow.

“What are you doing?”

“Oh, nothing,” Taehyung says, sitting on top of Jeongguk’s thighs and going for his belt. “Just, you know. Chilling.”

Jeongguk sits up a little, resting the weight of his upper body on his elbows so he can look at what Taehyung is doing. Not that it’s not obvious, or that he’d need to look at him to know. Still—Taehyung can feel Jeongguk’s eyes on his hands, watching closely as he undoes it and pops open the button of his jeans.

It’s not the first time he does it, of course. And even if he hasn’t done it that many times, he swears it feels almost like second nature now. Yet, at the same time, it feels new. Different, probably. Call him stupid, but to him this holds significance—going all the way with Jeongguk means something. And tonight, the way they’re being and acting with each other is clearly different from all the other times they have been sexual with each other. There’s a connection and an intimacy that, even if always there, seems stronger than ever tonight.

Taehyung thinks that the difference lies in the fact that tonight is not want-driven. Tonight is about their feelings, about the fact that they’re a couple now. And, in a way, Taehyung thinks that tonight could be about their future, too.

He gets rid of Jeongguk’s jeans and throws them to the floor, giving Jeongguk a coy smile as he does so. He’s feeling confident now, if he’s being honest. It seems like being with Jeongguk gives him such a rush; he feels wanted, he feels desired, he feels sexy. Jeongguk is looking at him with lust-filled eyes and is already hard in his underwear, and all from just kissing. And he—well, Taehyung is the same. Which would be embarrassing, if not for the fact that it’s Jeongguk.

“Your waist looks tiny with your slacks like this,” Jeongguk comments then, hands wrapping around Taehyung’s clad hips. Jeongguk is right—even if his waist is already narrow enough, the way his slacks fall around his body give the illusion that it’s even smaller. Taehyung smiles down at him.

“Your waist is tiny,” he says, covering Jeongguk’s hands with his own. Because, yeah, if Taehyung has a narrow waist, Jeongguk’s is even narrower. Which gives him the most wonderful body proportions, slim waist and hips opposed to the broadness of his shoulders and his big thighs. “Teeny tiny. So cute.”

“Come here,” Jeongguk says then, hooking two of his fingers on the waistband of Taehyung’s slacks and pulling down. “I want to kiss my boyfriend.”

Taehyung laughs, leaning down so his forehead is pressed against Jeongguk’s, their noses touching. “Aren’t you going to get me out of these clothes first, huh?”

Jeongguk clicks his tongue, then. Taehyung knows he’s being a tease, but he’s doing it on purpose. Not only because he likes teasing Jeongguk—which, he does; a lot, actually—but also because he’s getting impatient now. And he knows how Jeongguk reacts to being teased.

Which is exactly why Taehyung isn’t surprised when Jeongguk wraps an arm around his waist and flips them around, leaving Taehyung on his back, and in between his parted thighs, Jeongguk kneeling up. A little grin appears on his face then, noticing the way Jeongguk’s eyes wander down his body.

Yeah, this is exactly what he wanted.

When Jeongguk reaches out to unbutton Taehyung’s slacks, he does so staring right into Taehyung’s eyes. Taehyung can’t bring himself to look away, biting down on his bottom lip as he feels Jeongguk’s hands working on the zipper, feels him tug down at the fabric. He lifts his ass up to make the task easier for Jeongguk, the material of his pants tickling him as it slides down his thighs and calves. Wordlessly, Jeongguk completely takes it off and then leaves it on the floor, eyes falling to Taehyung’s crotch.

Taehyung gulps.

“This, too?” Jeongguk asks, voice husky in a way that makes Taehyung want to kiss him stupid. He nods, Jeongguk licking his lips quickly.

Taehyung swears that Jeongguk is deliberately going slower now, hooking both his thumbs on the waistband of Taehyung’s briefs and pulling down. Taehyung sighs in relief when his cock springs free—it was starting to get a little too much, the tightness around his erection. He’s so hard, and he needs Jeongguk now.

“Better now?” Jeongguk asks once he discards the underwear on the floor, resting one of his palms on Taehyung’s inner thigh.

“So much better,” Taehyung replies, voice airy even to his own ears. “Take yours off, too.”

Jeongguk doesn’t need to be told twice. He pulls his own underwear down, considerably faster than he did with Taehyung’s, and gets rid of it, too.  His eyes are fixed on Taehyung’s, almost as if he’s hesitant about what to do next, but Taehyung knows well what he wants.

He parts his legs even further and wraps them around Jeongguk’s hips, crossing his ankles against the small of his back and pulling Jeongguk closer. Like this, Jeongguk leans forward and balances his weight on one elbow, using the other to stroke Taehyung’s cheek lightly while looking at him.

“I want you so badly,” he confesses in a whisper, Taehyung letting out a low whine at the confession.

Fuck, how does he have this effect on him?

“I want you,” Taehyung replies, words slurred together. “I need you. Come on, I just—oh, God, I want you inside of me.”

Jeongguk groans at the words, wiping his thumb over Taehyung’s swollen bottom lip.

“Fuck, you can’t—” he starts, choking on his own words. “You can’t say things like that. My poor heart can’t take them.”

“But your dick can,” Taehyung says. He reaches down and wraps his fingers arounds Jeongguk’s cock, feeling it throb. “And it seems to be happy about it, too.”

Jeongguk laughs breathlessly, pressing one kiss against Taehyung’s neck that makes his toes curl, eyes fluttering shut. “You really want that? Want me to fuck you?”

“Yes, yes, yes,” Taehyung says, nodding along. “I can’t wait for you to fuck me. Give it to me.”

“God—alright, babe,” he then pats Taehyung’s calf a couple of times, adding, “Let me go get the stuff.”

Reluctantly, Taehyung lets go of him. It’s not like Jeongguk is going far—he just moves to the edge of the bed, opening the first drawer on the bedside table and pulling out a condom wrapper and a bottle of lube. Brand new.

Taehyung picks it up, amused. “Do I get to start a new bottle?” Taehyung asks, watching Jeongguk’s cheeks go red.

“Shush. It’s been a while since I’ve last been with a guy. A long time,” he says, rubbing the back of his neck as he admits to it.

Taehyung laughs, cheery. “I’m honored I get to start it, then,” he says, the corner of Jeongguk’s mouth twitching up in a small smile. “And I know you’ll finish it with me, so.”

Jeongguk nods then, taking the bottle of Taehyung’s hand and tearing the plastic with his teeth. As he opens it and squirts some on his fingers, he says, “I mean, I was going to call you cocky but we both know that’s true. Or, at least, it hopefully is.” Taehyung gives him a warm smile as Jeongguk coats his fingers with the lube, then adding, “I’m gonna go now. Are you ready?”

“Yes, yes, come on,” Taehyung says, overridden with anticipation. He feels like he’s been waiting for this for ages.

Jeongguk pushes one finger inside of him slowly, and once it’s in to the knuckle Taehyung lets out a breath that he didn’t know he was holding. For him, it’s been a while, too. Last time he did it himself, but it’s never the same. The burn is way better and far more exhilarating when it’s someone else. And with Jeongguk—well, even just the first finger is mind-blowing. Taehyung doesn’t know how he’ll get through tonight.

His breath quickens when Jeongguk thrusts his finger in and out of him, slowly as if not to hurt him. He’s so careful, crooking his finger inside and looking at Taehyung to see his reactions. All Taehyung can do is whisper encouraging words, but he feels his eloquence start to dissipate when Jeongguk presses another finger in.

The sensations feel much stronger now, with Jeongguk scissoring his digits inside of him. Taehyung lolls his head back, eyes closing on their own just with how good it feels. He tries to say something but can’t form the words. Jeongguk presses a kiss on his kneecap, and something about it makes Taehyung whimper—maybe the tenderness of it in a moment as intimate as this, even if it seems oddly innocent and out of place.

He’s almost craving it when Jeongguk eases three of his fingers inside of him, Taehyung drowning his moan in the palm of his hand. He’s feeling so damn full, so stretched out around Jeongguk’s fingers. It gets even better, stronger, when Jeongguk starts thrusting his fingers inside of him, slowly at first but picking up a pace with each time. It’s then, when his three fingers slide inside of Taehyung easily, that he starts angling his fingers and looking for his spot.

When he finds it, Taehyung can’t keep his moans to himself. “Oh, holy—right there, yes,” he says, body tensing. Jeongguk repeats the motion, and Taehyung inhales sharply as he lolls his head back against the mattress. “God, I’m—”

They can’t keep that up for much longer, Taehyung feeling his limbs turn into jelly with each brush of Jeongguk’s fingers against his prostate. He’s practically begging Jeongguk to fuck him by the end of it, squirming on the mattress as Jeongguk continues to finger him.

In the end, Jeongguk has mercy and takes his fingers out of him. He feels wrecked already as he watches Jeongguk get a condom wrapper and tear it open clumsily with his lube-coated fingers. He can’t articulate words; instead just watching Jeongguk put the condom on before he’s looking at him again.

“You want to do it like this?” he asks, briefly squeezing Taehyung’s ankle.

Taehyung nods. “Yes,” he says, parting his legs a little further. “I want to be able to look at your face when you do it.”

“God, that’s—okay, yes, yes,” Jeongguk says. He shifts then, holding his cock with one hand and guiding it to Taehyung’s hole. Taehyung gasps; even if Jeongguk’s isn’t pushing in yet, the feeling of it against his hole is enough to drive him crazy and make his breath quicken. “Are you ready?”

“Yes,” Taehyung replies, not missing a heartbeat. “So ready. Just—please, please. Come on.”

Jeongguk is slow as he presses inside, but Taehyung loves it. He loves how he can feel every inch of Jeongguk slide into him, loves how his heart is racing so much he feels like his chest will explode. He loves how Jeongguk’s other hand is holding onto his waist, and loves how he doesn’t stop looking at Taehyung not even once. Even when his eyes flutter closed and his mouth falls open in pleasure, he still can feel Jeongguk’s eyes on him.

“Good?” he asks once he’s all the way in. Taehyung nods, not trusting himself enough to speak right now. “God, babe. You’re so tight.”

Taehyung wraps his arms around Jeongguk’s shoulders, nosing at his jaw. Jeongguk is staying still now, giving Taehyung a few moments to adjust to his size. “I feel so—so full,” is what Taehyung manages to say, swallowing down hard. He’s hyperaware of every inch of his skin that is touching Jeongguk’s, and it’s making him go wild.

Jeongguk presses a kiss to the bone of his eyebrow, then to his cheekbone, then to the corner of his mouth. Taehyung can almost feel himself melt, and he wonders how a man can make him feel so much at the same time.

“Go now,” he says, squeezing his arms around Jeongguk’s shoulders to make him look at him.

Jeongguk nods. And then—and then, Taehyung swears he completely loses his fucking mind.

He starts off slow, but not for that it’s any less delicious. The drag of Jeongguk against his walls is everything Taehyung needs and more, making his eyes rolls back in ecstasy since moment one. Jeongguk reaches and interlocks their fingers, joint hands resting by Taehyung’s head, and he squeezes Jeongguk’s palm in his so, so tight.

Jeongguk builds up a pace, hips jerking and fucking into Taehyung rhythmically. Taehyung wraps his legs around Jeongguk’s hips, unsuccessfully trying to bring him closer, deeper into him.

“Good? Jeongguk asks, whispered against Taehyung’s ear, and Taehyung nods as he lets out a whimper. They’re alone, so he’s going to be as loud as he feels like being. Plus, he doesn’t miss the way Jeongguk’s eyes glisten every time he lets out a sound.

“So good,” Taehyung replies, watching Jeongguk’s mouth split into a smile. “Just—more. I want more.”

Jeongguk pulls back a little to look at him, not stopping the movement of his hips, but not going any faster, either. There’s something about the way Jeongguk is looking at him that makes Taehyung even needier, reaching up with his free hand to wrap his fingers around Jeongguk’s forearms. He doesn’t even know why, but he needs to touch Jeongguk—everywhere.

“You want more?” Jeongguk repeats then, staring right into Taehyung’s eyes.

Taehyung nods, biting down on his lower lip. “Faster,” he manages to get out, even if his mind is starting to get clouded now. “Harder. More.”

He’s aware of how he can’t even form proper words anymore, but he doesn’t care. He’s literally falling apart in Jeongguk’s arms, Jeongguk fucking every last bit of coherence out of him. All he can think of is Jeongguk, Jeongguk, Jeongguk. And nothing feels like enough anymore.

It’s right then that Jeongguk speeds up the pace of his thrusts, making Taehyung cry out loudly. Involuntarily, he tightens his hold around Jeongguk’s forearm, moaning loudly at the feeling of Jeongguk inside of him.

“Kiss me,” he almost begs then. He says the words before he can even process he wants—needs Jeongguk’s lips on his. “Please, please, kiss me.”

And Jeongguk complies, always so generous. He dives in for a kiss that is wet and hot from the start, Taehyung’s mouth eagerly welcoming his as their tongues curl around each other. There’s not much finesse to it, all teeth and spit, but it’s enough to make Taehyung clench around Jeongguk, eliciting a moan from him.

Jeongguk’s resolve to go slow seems to disappear right there and then, as he kisses the life out of Taehyung. His hips falter, but when he starts thrusting again he does so with renewed vigor, harder and stronger. It makes Taehyung break the kiss to let out a loud whimper, and Jeongguk takes that moment to bite and suck on his bottom lip.

“Love the way you feel around me,” Jeongguk says once he lets go, voice low and husky in the sexiest way. “Fuck, Taehyung—”

Whatever he was going to say dies in his mouth as Taehyung interrupts him with a moan, lolling his head back into the pillow. Jeongguk just thrusted right into his sweet spot, sending electricity down all of his body and making him tighten his legs around Jeongguk’s hips.

“Right there,” he says, only noticing then that he’s digging his nails in the skin of Jeongguk’s back. “Right fucking there, Jeongguk, please.”

Jeongguk gives him a look that makes Taehyung shiver, pre-come leaking from his cock. It’s lust-filled, so straight-up obscene it makes Taehyung reach down for his cock and give it a stroke, sending relief all down his body. He doesn’t tear his eyes away from Jeongguk’s as he jerks himself off, Jeongguk’s tongue darting out to wet his lips.

“You close?” Jeongguk asks then, and all Taehyung can do is nod hopelessly. “Good, babe. I’m so—ugh, so close now, too. You feel fucking heavenly.”

Taehyung moans at that, closing his eyes and letting himself indulge in the feeling of Jeongguk thrusting right against his prostate over and over again. It’s then that he feels Jeongguk gently slap his hand away from his cock, his fingers soon replacing Taehyung’s around it.

The few favors they exchanged before tonight have made them familiar with each other’s bodies, and Jeongguk knows exactly how Taehyung likes it, and how to make him come. His fist works fast around his cock, and every once in a while he thumbs at the head just like Taehyung likes it. And it’s getting too much, way too much. He’s about to come now.

“I’m s-so close,” he stutters out, voice weak. “God, I’m so—I’m gonna come, Guk.”

“Come for me, baby,” Jeongguk says then, dropping a chaste kiss on the corner of Taehyung’s mouth. His voice seems breathier than usual, also more strained. He’s going to come soon, too. “Come on, come on. Come for me.”

There’s something about Jeongguk encouraging him like this that makes goosebumps raise on Taehyung’s skin, a moan falling from his lips. He clenches around Jeongguk and makes him groan, and only then does he realize that he’s bucking his hips to meet Jeongguk’s thrusts halfway. They’re both desperately chasing release now, their hips working in tandem as they fill the room with their moans.

It’s right then that Taehyung comes, throwing his head back as a lewd cry leaves his mouth. He can feel Jeongguk kiss his neck as he spills all over his stomach, hips still working in and out of him even with how hard he’s clenching around him. He’s still fisting his cock and stroking him through his orgasm, and Taehyung feels himself start to shake because of the oversensitivity.

F-fuck,” Jeongguk moans then, his hand squeezing Taehyung’s.

He comes then, spilling inside the condom as his hips falter. He lets go of Taehyung’s cock and holds his weight on his palm, thrusts turning more and more erratic until they finally come to an end.

Jeongguk collapses on top of Taehyung with a groan, face buried in the crook of his neck, which he pecks. They give themselves a moment to catch their breath, only their pants being heard in the room for a few moments.

After that Jeongguk looks up at him through half-lidded eyes, one half of his face still hidden. “Hey,” he says, and Taehyung groggily smiles at him before threading his fingers in Jeongguk’s hair and running them through it.

“Hi,” he replies, softly. “How are you feeling?”

“Quite great, if I’m honest,” Jeongguk replies, Taehyung laughing. “You?”

“Very, very good,” Taehyung replies, honestly. “That was amazing.”

“I’m glad you think so,” mumbles Jeongguk before gently kissing his collarbone. “Let me go get something to clean you up."

“You don’t have to,” Taehyung says then. He has woken up in worse states than with dried come on his tummy, if he’s honest.

“I want to,” replies Jeongguk pulling out of him and making Taehyung sigh. He hasn’t been gone for a second yet, and Taehyung is already missing the warmth of his body against his own.

“Thank you, my gentleman.”

Jeongguk doesn’t reply, just winks at him while he gets the condom off and ties it up, leaving it on the bedside table.

Luckily enough, Jeongguk is back soon and with a wet, warm cloth to clean the lube from Taehyung’s ass and thighs and Taehyung’s come from both their bellies. Taehyung, who is already feeling sleepy and soft all over, is terribly endeared by how gently Jeongguk wipes him clean, and especially by the kiss he drops on his forehead before he goes to get rid of the cloth and the condom he left on the bedside table.

Jeongguk is feeling sleepy too, so after that they slip under the covers and decide to turn the lights off. They’re alone, but they still talk to each other in whispers until Jeongguk drifts to sleep.

And just like that, Taehyung starts to come to terms with everything that is going on with Jeongguk. Not that he is in denial, but everything is happening so fast and at the same time so little by little, that it was hard to realize. Hard to realize that he’s already in love.

 

 

It’s on one night around the middle of December when, while they’re in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner, Jeongguk, out of the blue, blurts out “I won’t be needing Taehyung the babysitter from December 20th to December 28th.”

Taehyung turns around to look at him, a hand on his hip and the drying cloth in the other. “What do you mean you won’t be needing Taehyung the babysitter, gentleman?”

“Well,” starts Jeongguk, turning around. He uses both his hands to lean against the counter, saying, “What I mean is that I managed to change one week off my summer holidays. So… I won’t be needing you to take care of Nari.”

Taehyung nods. Jeongguk had commented to him that he would try to get some free time for Christmas, but that was even before they got together. That’s why it didn’t sink in at first, with Jeongguk bringing it up without any context.

“That’s very good, Gukkie,” Taehyung says, smiling at him. He knows that Jeongguk is a Christmas enthusiast so he’s genuinely happy for him. “I’m very glad you’ll get to spend the holidays with Nari.”

“And with you,” Jeongguk adds. “I won’t be needing Taehyung the babysitter, but I would very much enjoy Taehyung the boyfriend’s company. You know full-well that he’s always welcome around.”

Taehyung laughs, then. He must admit he wasn’t expecting that—from what he knows, Jeongguk likes to spend Christmas with his closest family. He wasn’t sure whether Jeongguk would like to include him in his Christmas plans or not, but he must admit it makes him warm inside, that it makes him happy.

“You want to spend Christmas with me?” he asks, a little incredulous.

“Yes, of course I want to,” Jeongguk replies, not missing a heartbeat. “You’re my boyfriend. I want you to be part of it.”

Taehyung smiles, then. “Really? That’s just—wow.”

“Unless you have any plans with your family that you don’t want to miss,” Jeongguk rushes to add. “Don’t feel pressured to spend it with me if you don’t want to, or if you have other plans. I understand.”

“No, no, nothing like that!” Taehyung says. “My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas. So, I’m all yours for the holidays.”

Jeongguk seems to be in deep horror at Taehyung’s confession, mouth wide open. “Are you serious?!” he asks, Taehyung nodding. “So you’ve never celebrated Christmas.”

“Only at school and with secret Santa things with friends. But no, I’ve never celebrated Christmas at home, or anything like that,” he admits. Jeongguk’s eyes widen even more. “What?”

“Well,” Jeongguk starts, then. “It looks like I have a new mission.”

Taehyung frowns, confused. “What do you mean by that, Guk?”

Jeongguk grins at him, mischievously. “My mission is to make sure you find out what a good Christmas surrounded by your loved ones is.”

Taehyung bursts into laughter then, but he must admit that Jeongguk’s confession makes his heart skip a bit.

“Do your best then, boy.”

 

 

Taehyung’s first step towards getting to know Christmas is putting up a Christmas tree and other decorations with Jeongguk and Nari. Just seeing the joy on Nari’s face the moment she sees Jeongguk with the box containing all the décor makes Taehyung’s heart happy, but the actual process… He thinks he could get used to the whole Christmas process.

He helps Jeongguk and Nari build the plastic tree they have, putting all the branches in place. Taehyung must admit he’s impressed—it’s not a small tree, but a big one that stands as tall as Taehyung and Jeongguk.

After that’s done, it’s time for decorations. With the help of Nari, they wrap the tinsel and the lights around the tree before turning to ornaments, such as the red Christmas balls with silver glitter on them that Nari is so enthusiastic about.

Jeongguk insists on making a whole photoshoot of Nari and Taehyung next to the tree, and only after Taehyung insists a lot he agrees to pose with Nari himself.

“That would make a cute Christmas card,” Taehyung comments, scrolling through the pictures he just took.

Jeongguk laughs then, leaving Nari on the floor and reaching for his phone. “Listen, I’m a Christmas nerd, but I’m not that bad.”

When Nari is home they tear open the letter she wrote to Santa, Jeongguk writing everything down on his phone notes. It’s then time to think of gifts for Jeongguk’s family, which turns out to be harder since they don’t exactly have a letter.

Still, both of them end up coming up with a nice list, one they’re both satisfied with. And Taehyung even decides to get something for Namjoon and Yoongi.

“I never got any gifts for my brother, but I know Yoongi’s family celebrates, and Namjoon spends the holidays now that they’re together,” Taehyung explains when Jeongguk asks about it. “Plus, it can also be a thank you for letting me stay with them for so long.”

Jeongguk nods, understanding. “It makes me happy that you want to celebrate with me, you know?” he comments, kissing Taehyung’s temple. “It means a lot to me.”

“This whole Christmas ordeal seems fun, you know?” he says, Jeongguk smiling at him. “When, uh, when are we going to see your family?”

They had already established that they’d meet up with Jeongguk’s family, both of them. According to Jeongguk, they have all been dying to meet him ever since Jeongguk told them there was someone—Taehyung totally doesn’t melt when he finds out Jeongguk has talked to his family about him—and it’d be a perfect chance for them to meet him, and for Jeongguk to formally introduce him to his family. Plus, Jeongguk adds, when he said he wanted to spend the holidays with Taehyung, he meant the whole holidays.

“Oh, I wanted to talk to you about that, actually,” Jeongguk says then. “So… Since Nari was born, we’ve celebrated Christmas here instead of going to my family or to my ex’s. And it sort of became a tradition, you know? So, I meant to ask you sooner if you’d be okay with my parents and my brother and his fiancé coming on Christmas day and staying the night.”

“You celebrate here? And you cook Christmas dinner and everything?” Taehyung asks, mouth splitting into a grin. The image of Jeongguk cooking dinner and getting everything ready for his family is just so, so endearing.

“Oh, God, yes,” Jeongguk says, laughing. “Since last year I was alone my parents came in the morning to help. But… yes. We do it here. So, are you up for it?”

“Of course I am,” Taehyung replies. “I’m not about to come here and change everything.”

“I don’t know, I don’t know—it’s a lot of work from early in the morning. And my mom offered to do it, both last year and this year. So… it’s up to you.”

“I want to do it,” Taehyung says, firmly. “We’ll do it together, okay? And then I’ll meet your family and we will have the best Christmas.”

Jeongguk smiles at him, widely. “God, you’re heaven-sent,” he says with a groan.

“None of that,” Taehyung says, nudging him on the arm. “We make a good team, remember? We’ll do this together.”

Taehyung’s heart skips a heartbeat with the way Jeongguk looks at him now, reaching down to hold his hand and give it a squeeze.

“Yes, together,” he confirms, smiling at Taehyung. “We’re the best team, after all.”

 

 

Christmas shopping is nowhere as enjoyable as Christmas decorating, Taehyung finds out. The mall is crowded as Jeongguk and he step inside—Nari is staying with Jimin since they’re buying her presents and she obviously can’t join them today—and until Taehyung gets used to it, he must admit it feels a little overwhelming.

But he’s with Jeongguk, and he’s starting to believe that with Jeongguk, no day can ever be completely bad. They let themselves have fun, even with all the mess and the stress going on around them. They goof around, looking for ugly Christmas sweaters in every store they step into, and in the end, they buy matching, ugly ones since they’re the best.

Once they’ve bought everything they need they relax a little, going to a café for a quick snack, but once they’re sitting Jeongguk slams his palm against his forehead.

“Damn, I forgot my credit card at the last store we went,” he says. Taehyung offers to accompany him there, but Jeongguk refuses and leaves quickly.

Taehyung could have sworn he saw Jeongguk put it in his wallet before leaving, but there’s no point in thinking too much about that, he guesses. Jeongguk is back with his card within fifteen minutes and they get to eat their muffins, and that’s what really matters.

After they go home he walks to Jimin’s to pick Nari up while Jeongguk takes everything home and hides it, and on the walk back she tells him about everything she and Uncle Jimin did that day.

“You miss him a lot, don’t you, bug?” he asks, holding her gloved hand in his as they walk.

“I do miss him,” Nari says then, sounding pensive. “But I think I like being with you better because we get to draw and do a lot of fun stuff. But I love Uncle Jimin.”

Taehyung feels the urge to pick Nari up and pinch her round, chubby cheeks then, feeling warm inside. Something about her confession makes him feel so welcome, which added to the fact that he’s getting to do all the Christmas preparations along with Jeongguk for his family, is special. He feels like he’s part of their life now, like he has a spot. He feels like they love him, and it makes him incredibly happy, because he loves both of them, too. So, so much.

 

 

At the Jeons, on Christmas Eve night they happen to have a tradition. They get in their new, fluffy pajamas—Taehyung’s face when Jeongguk hands him the package meant for him is one of pure delight—and drink hot chocolate, watching whatever Christmas movie they feel like watching.

And that is exactly what Taehyung finds himself doing. He changes in Jeongguk’s bedroom—he spends more time in it now than he spends in his own—while Jeongguk helps Nari put hers on, and while they wait for Jeongguk to change and finish making hot chocolate, they both find a movie to watch.

“Have you picked anything yet?” Jeongguk asks as he enters the room, carrying a tray with three mugs on it.

“Yes, Daddy!” Nari replies, jumping a little on the couch. “We’re watching Polar Express!”

“Angel, don’t jump on the sofa,” Jeongguk scolds, Nari crossing her arms over her chest as she sits on the couch, pulling out her bottom lip on a pout. “Should we put it on, then? We need to go to bed early tonight since Santa is coming.”

Nari giggles then, urging Taehyung to put it on, and Taehyung obliges.

The three of them curl up together on the couch with their hot chocolate, Taehyung and Jeongguk’s legs tangled together under the blanket and Nari sitting between them, looking at the TV screen attentively. She moves a lot, from the couch to the carpet, then to Taehyung’s legs, then to the carpet again, so in the end Taehyung ends up leaning against Jeongguk’s chest and letting Jeongguk put his arm around his shoulders, cuddling into him.

“Looks like you’re not too entertained,” Jeongguk whispers in his ear and Taehyung can hear the smile in his voice, even if his eyes are still on the TV.

“I just hate this movie,” Taehyung complains, speaking low so Nari can’t hear him. “It’s just—so dumb.”

“It’s a family Christmas movie, babe,” Jeongguk says, making Taehyung giggle under his breath. “But yeah, I get what you mean. I think there’s something about Tom Hanks—I don’t think I can enjoy any Tom Hanks movie, ever.”

Taehyung smiles at that. “Oh, really? Not even Forrest Gump? The Green Mile? Wow.”

Jeongguk is quiet about it for a moment, before saying, “Okay, maybe it’s just a Polar Express thing. But I don’t like his character. He’s creepy.”

“It’s just a voice actor.”

“Still creepy,” Jeongguk assures.

“Wow, you’re such a bullshitter,” Taehyung giggles again.

If Jeongguk was going to reply, he’s interrupted by Nari, who is standing on the carpet with her hands on her hips, looking at both of them.

“What are you doing, bird lovers?” she asks, looking at them.

Taehyung and Jeongguk stare at her in silence for a few seconds, neither of them saying anything and trying to understand what she means. And then, it finally clicks in Taehyung’s brain.

“Nana, you mean lovebirds?”

“I want cuddles too,” she protests, climbing to the couch and getting herself in the middle of Taehyung and Jeongguk. “I want cuddles from Taetae and Daddy.”

Taehyung laughs then, poking her tummy until he gets the little pout she’s sporting on her lips away. She giggles when Jeongguk tickles her, laughing in delight as she hugs her father. Taehyung is mesmerized looking at them for a moment, but then Nari is looking at him and wrapping her tiny arms around Taehyung’s neck, leaving a kiss on his cheek.

In the end, they don’t finish watching the movie. Instead, they decide to get the milk and cookies ready for Santa that Taehyung and Jeongguk share once Nari is asleep.

It’s well past Nari’s bedtime once they get her to bed, and after she’s fast asleep, Jeongguk and Taehyung go to the living room and put on another movie—a more mature one now. They also are a lot more affectionate now that Nari isn’t with them in the room.

It’s past midnight when the movie is over, and they decide to set all the presents ready then. Once they’re done and careful for Jeongguk to not see him, he slips the envelope with Jeongguk’s gift along with the rest, hidden between some of Nari’s gifts so he doesn’t see right away. After that, they finally move to the bedroom, but before they get into bed, Jeongguk wraps his arms around Taehyung’s waist and pulls him closer, whispering against his lips, “Merry Christmas, love.”

And really—Taehyung knows this will be a very, very merry Christmas. At least for him.

 

 

On Christmas Day, Taehyung doesn’t wake up with Jeongguk in the bed—he wakes up with Nari. While she bounces on the mattress. Screaming.

“Santa came, Taetae!” she repeats over and over excitedly. “Santa came and he left lots of gifts under the tree!”

Taehyung yawns, stretching his limbs and stealing a glance at the digital watch on the bedside table.

Eight-fucking-AM.

Well, looks like finally Taehyung has found a side of Christmas he’s not all that fussed about.

In all fairness, he knew he would have to wake up early. He and Jeongguk have a lot to do—although Taehyung must admit he’s planning on doing most of the work in order for Jeongguk to spend the day with Nari—so it’s not like he can laze around.

The three of them move to the living room, where the tree is with all the wrapped gifts still under it. Jeongguk and Taehyung sit on the floor, cross-legged, and Nari starts picking the gifts up.

“This one, Daddy!” she says, taking a big package. She takes it to Jeongguk, who pretends to not know who the gift is for as he looks for the tag.

And only then does Taehyung realize that he doesn’t know who that gift is for. He lay the presents out with Jeongguk last night, and that one definitely wasn’t there.

“Looks like Santa left something for Taetae, huh?” Jeongguk says then. He tries to stay serious, but a little smile slips, and Taehyung knows. “Give it to him, love.”

Nari takes the big package over to him, and Taehyung gives Jeongguk a look. When? And how, to be fair. How did he sneak that into the house without Taehyung noticing?

“Oh my God, let’s see,” Taehyung says then, anticipating. Neither him or Jeongguk agreed to not give each other gifts, and Taehyung himself got Jeongguk a gift, but it still comes as a surprise. He wasn’t expecting anything, really. With a smile, he adds, “I’m kind of nervous.”

“Open it!” Nari insists then. “I want to see what Santa brought you.”

Taehyung laughs then, but he still tears the paper away. Inside there is a wood case, dark and smooth to the touch, and Taehyung feels his heart in his throat as he gets an idea of what’s inside.

“What’s that?” Nari asks then, getting by his side and looking down at the case with inquisitive eyes.

Taehyung completely removes the wrapping paper then, saying, “Shall we open and see?”

He doesn’t wait for Nari’s excited yes before he’s laying the case in front of himself, leaving it on the carpet before opening it. He doesn’t know why his hands are shaking as he opens the case, but they are—maybe it’s because Jeongguk did this for him, even if they have known each other for a few months, only. It makes his heart beat faster, chest feeling so full of affection, love, and so many feelings that he’s never experienced before. Because, as he opens it and reveals one of the most impressive art sets he has ever seen—and definitely the best he has ever owned—Taehyung’s mouth falls literally open.

It’s not just about material things or about the value. It’s the fact that Jeongguk knows him well enough to get him something like this, and also that he is willing to spend this much on him. Taehyung knows that art sets aren’t cheap, let alone good ones. And even if it’s not about the value, the fact that Jeongguk got something like this for him makes him feel dizzy, in the best of ways.

“Santa wants us to paint together!” Nari says then, making Taehyung giggle and taking his attention away from the acrylics, the coloring pencils, the watercolors in front of him.

“I think that set is only for professionals, angel,” Jeongguk says then teasingly, making Nari pout at him. Then, looking at Taehyung, he asks, “So… did Santa get it right?”

“Oh, Santa got it so right,” Taehyung says then, unable to contain a smile. Why is Jeongguk quite literally the sweetest person in the whole world? “Santa, if you’re here and listening, please know that I love it. So much!”

Jeongguk laughs too, reaching out to push Taehyung’s knee lightly. “You’re so silly,” he says then, Taehyung sticking his tongue out at him playfully.

“Nana, you should check to see if there’s something for Daddy in there,” Taehyung suggests then. If he has gotten his gift already, it’s only fair Jeongguk gets his as well.

“Okay!” Nari says then, crawling to the tree again. There’s not a lot to go now so she leaves aside the ones where she can recognize her name. Taking the red envelope in her hands, she reads, “J-Jeongguk. Daddy, this one’s for you!”

“Is that so?” Jeongguk asks, narrowing his eyes as he takes the envelope in his hands. “I don’t remember asking Santa for anything, though.”

“Maybe you’ve just been so good this year that he still brought you a little something,” Taehyung says then, watching Jeongguk smile as he tears the envelope open.

Jeongguk’s mouth splits into an even wider smile, taking the ticket out of the envelope. “A day at a spa,” Jeongguk says then, grinning. “Well, that sounds very tempting.”

“Looks like Santa knows you need to relax,” Taehyung says, wiggling his eyebrows at Jeongguk.

Jeongguk just rolls his eyes at him, and Taehyung takes that as his chance to get closer and drop a kiss to Jeongguk’s cheek. Before he can pull away Jeongguk is grabbing his wrist and tugging him close, pecking his lips briefly.

“Thank you,” he mutters against his lips, Taehyung pulling back with a giggle.

Nari interrupts them by asking if she can open her next gift already. Once they’re done Jeongguk cleans up the living room while Taehyung takes Nari to her bedroom and changes her, making her bed while she gets dressed. Before starting with the food, they make sure to get the guest room ready for Jeongguk’s parents to stay. Unsurprisingly enough, Nari is so fascinated by her gifts that it’s not hard to keep her out of they kitchen while they start cooking, even if Taehyung keeps insisting on Jeongguk to go play with her.

It’s still pretty early when the buzzer sounds, Jeongguk cleaning his hands with a cloth before he goes to answer. Taehyung knows that it’s probably Jeongguk’s parents since he mentioned they insisted on getting there early to help them. And, well—Taehyung is nervous. He has had a couple of boyfriends, but he was never introduced to their parents. With Jeongguk things seem more serious. Not only because he knows Jeongguk wouldn’t get involved in something that he didn’t intend on making last, but also because there is some maturity to their relationship that his previous ones were lacking.

Jeongguk is back in the kitchen after buzzing them in, a smile on his face. “It’s my parents,” he announces, and Taehyung forces himself to smile and nod, even if he feels like throwing up his lungs. Jeongguk notices how stiff he looks and adds, “You okay, Tae?”

“Yeah!” Taehyung rushes to add, although judging by Jeongguk’s expression it must not be very convincing. “Just—it’s your parents. I’m a bit nervous, I guess.”

“Ah, babe,” Jeongguk says, getting closer. He squeezes Taehyung’s hip lightly as he briefly kisses his temple. It’s barely a brush of his lips against Taehyung’s skin, but it’s enough to make him feel a little better. “They’re going to love you, you’ll see. How could they not?”

“I have thought about a million different scenarios that could result in them hating me and never wanting to see my face again,” Taehyung protests, Jeongguk laughing in response. Taehyung pouts his bottom lip out. “I’m serious! I’m terrified.”

“Well, if you have thought about it then you know what not to do.” Taehyung whines at that. “But, for real—I know they’ll adore you. Just be yourself, and all that.”

“Thanks a lot for the advice,” Taehyung huffs out then, but his mouth still curls into a smile. The doorbell rings then, and after swallowing down he says, “Come on, go open the door for them.”

Jeongguk leaves, and Taehyung cleans his hand as he takes a deep breath before he follows. Jeongguk picked Nari up on his way there, so before he even gets to the hall he can hear her squeal in delight, and a lot of smooching sounds.

“You’ve been losing weight again,” Jeongguk’s mother says as she cups his face in her hands, squeezing his cheeks. “Look at that—you should come home more often and let me feed you.”

“Mom, I have a job,” Jeongguk complains.

By their side stands Jeongguk’s father, who has picked Nari up and is pretending to steal her nose and making her giggle, hiding her mouth behind his palms.

The first one to notice him is Jeongguk’s mother, whose mouth splits into a wide smile the moment her eyes fall on him. “Ah, you must be Taehyung,” she says. Before he can even do more than smile in response, she adds, “Jeongguk talks a lot about you. You’re just as handsome as he says.”

“Mom!”

“Nari, love,” she says then, changing the topic as she gets a package out of the box she’s carrying. “Look what we have here!”

After Jeongguk properly introduces him to both their parents they move from the hall to the living room, Nari leading them to show them the presents they got. While she shows her grandparent her new toys, Jeongguk’s mother talks to Taehyung and asks him questions—how old is he, how did they met, what he studied. It should almost feel like an interview, but Jeongguk’s mother is warm and he doesn’t feel like he’s being interrogated. The big smile on her face makes Taehyung want to sigh in relief, so at least there’s that.

Taehyung notices Jeongguk entering and leaving the room to go check on the food, and on one occasion he puts his hands on Jeongguk’s shoulders and forces him to sit down, saying, “You stay here with your family. I’ll take care of that for now.”

Jeongguk tries to protest, but Taehyung pretends to not listen as he leaves to the kitchen. He knows that Christmas is an important day for Jeongguk so he wants him to be able to relax as much as possible and for him to be able to spend time with their family. Especially with Nari.

It’s not long before Jeongguk’s father is joining him in the kitchen. As soon as they arrived he only had eyes for Nari—not a surprise, since Jeongguk had mentioned to him the huge soft spot that he had for his granddaughter—so they hadn’t had the chance to talk a lot. He offers to help, and during that, they get to talk a little. Jeongguk’s father doesn’t speak as much as his wife but he’s just as affable.

“It’s good to see Jeonggukie is with someone again,” he comments. “After what happened with Naeun, we were worried he wouldn’t give himself the chance to fall in love again.”

Taehyung feels himself blush at the thought of Jeongguk falling in love with him. Which, he shouldn’t be doing—if they are in a relationship, it’s for a reason. Yet thinking about it is enough to make him flustered.

“When I first met him I noticed straight away he didn’t really get any time for himself, or that he didn’t do much for himself, either,” Taehyung says. “I mean—it’s hard when you’re a single parent. But he’s doing an amazing job, and I think he’s getting better at taking care of himself, too.”

The day almost flies by then since they’re busy, and in between Jeongguk’s parents and Taehyung himself they manage to make sure Jeongguk doesn’t step one foot in the kitchen for the whole day. Nari wants to play with every toy with each one of them so they take turns to help in the kitchen.

It’s early in the evening already when the buzzer sounds again, Jeongguk’s mother leaving to answer. “Jeonghyun and his fiancée are here!” she announces soon after, stepping into the living room.

This time around, Taehyung is not as nervous. Don’t get him wrong—he knows how important to Jeongguk his older brother is. But siblings aren’t as intimidating as parents. Plus, he’s been spending the whole day with Jeongguk’s family already, and they make him feel very welcome. So he figures that the same will happen again.

And it does. Jeongguk’s brother greets him warmly, almost as if they had known each other for a long time but without seeming unpolite, before he introduces him to his fiancée. Dinner is almost ready, so there’s not a long wait after they arrive and give Nari her Christmas gift.

The evening is full of talking, food, and a little of the wine Jeongguk’s parents brought with them. They talk about their relatives and how they’re doing, gossip about acquaintances. Taehyung, even if he has heard Jeongguk talk about some of the people they’re mentioning, is a little lost. But he can’t wait to get more and more familiar with the names, to match them to a face. It’s crazy how he can already be feeling so included in Jeongguk’s family, so he can’t wait for it to evolve even more.

By the time dinner is over their tummies are full and happy and their—at least Taehyung’s—minds a little fuzzy from the wine. He’s not drunk—just a little tipsy. Not enough to be embarrassing or bad, especially in front of a child, but enough to make him laugh a little easier than usual.

They take the dishes to the kitchen and put the leftovers in the fridge, moving to the couch when they’re finished. Taehyung doesn’t know who brought them or if Jeongguk had them already at home, but suddenly Nari has reindeer headbands and Santa hats in her hands, assigning one of each to everyone. She has her own headband, too, obviously different from the rest—two candy canes placed as if they were reindeer ears. Taehyung thinks she looks adorable.

“You get this, Daddy,” she says, giving Jeongguk a Santa hat as she smiles widely. Jeongguk thanks her and gives her a noisy forehead kiss, that makes her giggle before she moves to Taehyung. “And you! You need to match with Daddy. You get a Santa hat too!”

Taehyung, who is sitting on the couch, leans forward so Nari can place the hat on his head. When it’s done and she is moving to one of her grandparents he looks at Jeongguk, who snorts.

“What?” he asks, raising one of his eyebrows.

“You look ridiculous,” says Jeongguk, sliding closer on the couch. “Come here.”

Taehyung waits patiently as Jeongguk adjusts the hat, taking the time to look at him. He’s frowning lightly and his lips are slightly parted, as they always are when he’s focusing on something. And he looks good, terribly good. And happy.

Christmas looks good on Jeongguk, Taehyung decides.

“There you go,” Jeongguk says once he’s ready.

“Thank you,” Taehyung replies, leaning forward for a quick peck to the cheek. Just a quick thank you. He thinks no one saw them but then he hears Jeongguk’s brother coo at them.

It’s then that Jeongguk’s father takes his phone out and starts taking pictures of everyone. Taehyung is almost caught off guard when Nari jumps in the middle of him and Jeongguk, calling, “Grandpa, picture!”

Not a lot passes until Jeongguk’s brother and his fiancée leave, since they have to drive back home, and soon after Jeongguk takes a sleepy Nari to bed. After that, Taehyung sits with Jeongguk and his parents for a while to talk quietly.

Taehyung figures out that this is why Jeongguk likes Christmas. Not because of the date itself, or the presents, or even the food. But Taehyung knows that Jeongguk doesn’t get to see his family a lot, or as often as he’d like to. For Taehyung it’s been so, so easy to fall into the dynamic of Jeongguk’s family—the banter, the jokes, the dances, the games with Nari. He feels at home in an odd way, and he feels like he’s a part of it. Which was his main fear about today. And what’s weird is that, even if it’s the first time he has ever met Jeongguk’s family, that happiness is contagious.

Jeongguk looks happy. Tired, but happy. Taehyung finds himself staring at him while he speaks, lips stretching slowly into lazy smiles. Taehyung wonders if his silly little heart can take it, because sometimes Jeongguk makes it beat so fast he’s afraid it might stop.

Maybe it’s because he’s terribly smitten, but Taehyung must admit he has liked Christmas quite a lot. He, too, is a little in love with Christmas now.

 

 

The realization hits Taehyung once the holidays season is over, when Jeongguk is back to work. Technically, Jeongguk being away during the day means that he can’t take care of Nari again. Which means, Taehyung is back on his duty as a babysitter. A paid babysitter.

Something about that feels terribly wrong.

He’s got a dilemma. On one hand, he thinks that taking care of his boyfriend’s child shouldn’t be a paid job. They’re in a relationship, and he actually loves both Jeongguk and Nari. It’s not just a job. But on the other hand, there’s the fact that they haven’t been together for that long. And Taehyung doesn’t want it to seem like he’s rushing into things by giving up the job itself and taking care of Nari for nothing in return. He would love to do that, but he doesn’t want to scare Jeongguk away.

So, yes. He has a dilemma. And he’s torn about what the best option is right now. Because, again, he doesn’t want Jeongguk to pay him for taking care of Nari. But he’s afraid of bringing it up.

He decides to do it anyway, because Taehyung is the kind of person who needs to let out the things that trouble him. And he decides to do so one night after Nari has fallen asleep, in those moments where he and Jeongguk can get to talk—or… other stuff—for a while without interruption.

“What is it?” Jeongguk asks, inquiring eyes looking at Taehyung,

And he’s nervous. There is an anxious knot in his stomach, and he thinks that when he inhales it’s a little shaky. But they need to at least discuss it, for peace of mind.

“I’ve been thinking about us, and the place we’re at right now, and what we are,” Taehyung says. He can see Jeongguk’s eyes widen in what appears to be panic, so he rushes to add, “I’m not trying to break up! It’s just—it’s about babysitting Nari. I don’t think I can consider this a job anymore, Guk.”

Jeongguk frowns a little, confused. “What do you mean by that?”

“Ah, well,” sighs Taehyung. “You know… We’re together. So I don’t feel like you should be paying me for taking care of your daughter. It doesn’t feel like a job anymore, you know? I love her, and well—after Christmas I feel it a lot stronger. I feel—please, stop me if I am getting ahead of myself—but I feel like I want to be part of your family. So I don’t want to get paid for taking care of Nari anymore.”

Jeongguk blinks at him for a moment, quiet. There is something about his silence that is incredibly innerving to Taehyung, who feels tempted to shake Jeongguk to get an answer.

“So…” he starts after what feels like centuries, but wasn’t even a minute. “You want to take care of Nari for free? You don’t want to get paid.”

Taehyung nods, nervously playing with his hands. “Yeah, that’s what I’d like,” he replies. He doesn’t know if Jeongguk is purposefully ignoring the part where he said he wanted a family or going bit by bit, but it still makes Taehyung anxious to not have a reply. “I can’t consider this a job anymore.”

“Okay, yeah—I get that, yeah,” Jeongguk says, nodding. “I just—I think I’d feel bad? Your time is precious.”

“Oh no, no, no. None of that,” Taehyung interjects. “I want to do this. Plus, it’s not like I have anything getting in the way of it and soon enough she’ll be starting school. And I have the art classes! It’s something I want to do, Guk.”

Jeongguk nods, looking down at Taehyung’s hands and reaching with his own to brush their fingers together. “Also…” he starts, and when Taehyung looks at him he can see the tips of his ears are red. “You want a family with me?”

“I want nothing more,” Taehyung replies in a heartbeat. If there is something he is sure about, it’s this.

It’s been around four months since Nari and Jeongguk waltzed into his life, and even if many will argue that this is a decision that he should think more about, Taehyung is positive about this. Call him a romantic, but he thinks that there is a certain type of connection that you can only find with someone once in a lifetime. And that’s what he feels with Jeongguk.

“Okay, that’s—yes,” Jeongguk says, the words clumsily leaving his mouth. “We’re a family. No salaries.”

Taehyung smiles then and starts to lean forward, trying to drop a soft kiss on Jeongguk’s mouth.

 “But then—no rent, either,” Jeongguk adds. Taehyung stops midway to gasp.

“Jeongguk! I waste a lot of energy, and space, and hot water!” he protests, poking Jeongguk’s sides and making him flinch.

“Well, you’re not paying me back for your showers,” Jeongguk says.

“We can pay for expenses together,” Taehyung insists. “Like a family! You need a tutorial on how to family, huh?”

Jeongguk rolls his eyes, fondly. Taehyung smiles, aware that Jeongguk will give in eventually. When doesn’t he?

“You’re terrible, Kim Taehyung.”

 

 

Something Taehyung had been planning was giving Jeongguk a second Christmas gift. But because Jeongguk’s parents were staying with them on Christmas day, he couldn’t give it to him then. And after that he kept forgetting about it, and before he realized it was mid-January.

But he was determined to fix that now. It’s Saturday, he and Jeongguk are just hanging out in the living room, and Taehyung has a plan.

Not that it’s a very thought out plan. Nor a subtle one. So he just says, “I have a late Christmas gift for you.”

And that’s enough. Jeongguk’s interest is piqued as he turns to look at Taehyung, eyebrows raised inquiringly. “Oh?” he says. “What is it?”

“You need to see for yourself,” Taehyung says, standing up and taking Jeongguk’s hand in his own. “Come here, I’ll give it to you in the bedroom.”

“What is it?” Jeongguk asks, curious. Taehyung says nothing. “Where have you been hiding it.”

“My lips are sealed,” Taehyung says. When they’re in the bedroom he spins Jeongguk around and pushes down on his shoulders to sit him down on the bed. “I need to go get it. I’ll be right back.”

He hears Jeongguk protest as he leaves the room, but he pays it no mind. He knows Jeongguk is going to love this. Jeongguk himself has said so.

So, he goes into the bathroom and gets changed.

It’s the first time Taehyung wears lingerie—excluding when he tried this on, but that barely counts because he didn’t try on the underwear—and there is something about it that makes him feel filthy, but in a good way. Sexy. It’s not something he ever saw himself doing, and he must admit he likes it a lot.

It’s not the flashiest lingerie outfit, but it’s cute. He’s wearing panties, stockings, a garter belt and thigh garters, all red. He turns around to look at himself in the mirror, to check how the underwear fits around his ass. The panties are the reason why Taehyung thought about this, since they reminded him of a present. There is a ribbon connecting the waistband to the G-string, one that Jeongguk could very easily undo if—whenever—he wanted to. It also has two pieces of lace that go from the sides of his hips to the crotch, covering the outer part his ass cheeks but leaving the inside exposed.

He just hopes Jeongguk likes it.

He’s excited, but also feeling a little shy at the moment. He folds his clothes neatly and leaves them on one of the shelves, on top of a pile of towels. He’s mostly wasting time now because he’s nervous. Up until now his plan seemed great to him, but now he’s starting to wonder.

Either way, he can’t backtrack now. So he opens the door to the bathroom, looks around the hallway before stepping out, and then makes his way back to the bedroom, knocking softly. And when he goes in, he swears Jeongguk’s jaw drops to the floor.

“Oh my God,” is all he says. And well, just by the way Jeongguk is looking at him—eyes dragging up and down his body, taking in every inch of both exposed and covered skin—he can guess it’s a good oh my God.

Still, he wants to hear it.

“Is that bad or good?” he asks, acting coy. He also takes that as his moment to turn around, making sure Jeongguk gets a good look of his ass as well.

“It’s—it’s good,” Jeongguk replies, stumbling upon his own words. He sits a little straighter on the end of the bed, making Taehyung bite back a smile. “Very good.”

“Ah, I’m glad,” Taehyung says as he starts walking in Jeongguk’s direction. Jeongguk looks up at him once Taehyung is in front of him, his hands barely brushing his clad legs. “I was worried you might not like it.”

“No, no,” Jeongguk says, sounding a little out of breath. “I love it.”

Taehyung smiles at him, slowly straddling his hips before sitting on his lap. Almost on autopilot Jeongguk’s hands crawl up his legs, feeling his thighs up until they get to the garters. He plays with them with his fingers, making Taehyung’s skin tingle.

“I’m glad you like it,” Taehyung says, voice low. Jeongguk looks up at his face again, eyes dark with so much want it makes something bubble inside of Taehyung. “I really like how wearing it feels.”

“H-how does it feel?” Jeongguk asks, stuttering.

“Rough,” Taehyung says. “I never imagined it’d feel so rough. Especially on my cock. But I like how it constricts everything.”

Jeongguk swallows then, exhaling deeply. Taehyung’s tongue involuntarily darts to wet his lips, but he can’t say he regrets it when he sees Jeongguk’s eyes follow the movement.

“You look so sexy,” Jeongguk says. “You’re so hot.”

Taehyung laughs, but before he can say anything else Jeongguk is leaning forward and kissing him. Jeongguk’s mouth is firm and almost rough against his, prying Taehyung’s lips open before their tongues curl together. His hands keep creeping up Taehyung’s thighs until they get to his ass, giving it one hard squeeze.

Taehyung feels himself melt.

He curls his arms around Jeongguk’s neck, trying to bring himself closer to him. He’s never had Jeongguk kiss him this harshly, this urgently, but he loves it. Even if it’s already getting messy and sloppy, he loves it.

He knows he’s now getting hard, and he can also feel Jeongguk’s growing erection under his ass. He pulls away but only to start kissing down Jeongguk’s neck, making the most delicious sounds slip from his mouth. Usually, Taehyung holds back. But there is something about the atmosphere right now, about the way Jeongguk’s kisses and touches feel now, that makes him go wild. He sucks a mark onto Jeongguk’s neck, Jeongguk’s fingers tightening their hold around Taehyung’s thighs in response.

“F-fuck, Taehyung,” Jeongguk says, sounding already so broken. Taehyung is the same, though—for some reason he feels so undone, already. And they’ve just gotten started.

He pulls back a little, making sure that Jeongguk’s eyes are on his as he lets his palms run down his clothed chest. “What do you want to do to me?” he asks in a whisper. After all, this is Jeongguk’s gift. It’s only fair he gets to choose.

Jeongguk is left speechless for a moment but by the way he swallows thickly and the way his eyes widen almost imperceptibly, Taehyung knows that he heard him loud and clear. He seems to think about it hard. His lips part and he looks like he’s about to say something before they close again, doubtful.

“I want to eat you out,” is what he finally feels. Those words make a fire start in Taehyung’s insides, a rush of heat on his cheeks. He knows Jeongguk can read him as well as he can read Jeongguk, and that there is no way he missed the way in which Taehyung’s thighs tightened around his body. “I want you on your hands and knees, and I want to eat your pretty ass out.”

Taehyung lets out a low moan at that, feeling like his knees would be shaking if he were standing. Something about Jeongguk eating him out sounds pretty fucking great, so he nods eagerly.

“Yes, yes,” he rushes to reply, hands wrinkling the fabric of Jeongguk’s cotton white t-shirt. “But you take this off first.”

It’s almost comical how much Jeongguk rushes then, taking his t-shirt off over his head and carelessly throwing it to the bedroom floor. When he’s done he holds Taehyung’s hips and brings him closer, pulling him in for another kiss.

Eventually they move, Taehyung crawling to the middle of the bed under Jeongguk’s eyes that don’t move away from him for one second. Aware of that, Taehyung teasingly wiggles his eyes, Jeongguk finally moving and facing him.

“These look ridiculously sexy,” he comments, running his fingers over the patches of lace on Taehyung’s ass. Taehyung bites back a smile. “Can I undo the ribbon?”

“I don’t think so,” Taehyung replies, arching his back a little. “But they look like a present. That was the whole point, if I’m honest.”

Jeongguk laughs then, kissing a patch of exposed skin as he gives each one of his ass cheeks a gentle squeeze. He’s almost shaking with anticipation, growing more and more eager as Jeongguk teases him by brushing his fingertips against the skin where his ass meet his thighs, not covered by the lingerie. It’s so faint, almost like a ghost of Jeongguk’s proper touch, but it’s enough to make Taehyung’s breath catch in his throat.

Finally, Jeongguk gets his hands to the small of his back, pads of his fingers tracing the waistband of his panties until they get to the ribbon. Taehyung almost wants to tell him to hurry up, but Jeongguk looks mesmerized. It makes Taehyung’s stomach do pirouettes.

And it’s right then that Jeongguk decides to hook one of his thumbs on the G-string, pulling it aside as he spreads Taehyung’s cheeks open. Taehyung feels terribly exposed and vulnerable like this, but he likes it. He can feel Jeongguk’s eyes looking at him, and it makes want bubble inside of Taehyung.

He’s definitely not ready for the feeling of Jeongguk leaning forward and licking slowly and almost teasingly at his hole. He lets out a gasp, moving his weight from his palms to his forearms as he looks over his shoulder. This time Jeongguk deliberately looks straight into his eyes as he dives in again, this time giving a firmer lick.

And then Taehyung’s thighs start trembling.

In all fairness, Jeongguk is eating him out like his ass is the last thing he’ll ever take to his mouth, and something about it makes Taehyung’s cock twitch in the panties as he clenches the sheets in his hands. If he thought the lace was constricting before, now it’s even crazier—he is so sensitive and feels every little bit of texture against his dick, and he loves it.

And Jeongguk’s mouth feels heavenly on him. He has to bite on his own fist to muffle the moans coming from his mouth as he presses his hips back involuntarily, looking for more. He feels like his knees are about to give out, like the only thing keeping him up are Jeongguk’s hands on his hips.

“P-please,” he whines as Jeongguk teasingly circles his tongue around his rim. He doesn’t think Jeongguk realizes how fucking needy he is right now. Maybe Jeongguk doesn’t credit his ass eating skills enough. “I want—I need—”

“Shh, baby,” Jeongguk shushes him, pressing a tender kiss on his ass cheek. “Breathe in. You look so pretty like this, you know? All exposed and needy for me. I love it.”

Taehyung lets out a moan. He might have a bit of a praise kink because Jeongguk’s words not only make his head spin, but also make pre-come leak from his erection. He needs Jeongguk to do something—anything. Preferably, fuck him.

Jeongguk doesn’t look like he’s in a much better state than Taehyung. His cheeks are bright red, pupils blown, and he has spit on his chin and the corners of his mouth. His hair is a mess where Taehyung might have grabbed it, pushing him further against his ass. But what really is killing Taehyung is the amount of lust in his gaze. He feels so incredibly wanted, and it feels like he has been lit up in flames.

“I think I want to fuck you like this,” Jeongguk says then, one of his hands going to the small of Taehyung’s back, resting between the dimples of his back. “I want to see the way your ass sucks my whole cock in.”

The words make Taehyung’s rim clench around him, Jeongguk humming approvingly as he brushes his thumb over it. Taehyung gasps at the feeling of Jeongguk’s thumb circling around his hole, gently pushing in. It’s not too uncomfortable with the amount of spit there is on his hole. So when Jeongguk pushes his digit in he hisses but not out of pain.

“You good?” Jeongguk makes sure to ask, staying still. He relaxes a bit when Taehyung nods, adding, “You’re so tight.”

“I want you to finger me and then fuck me,” Taehyung says, spreading his knees a little but more far apart. Jeongguk lets out a sharp breath. “Please, Jeongguk.” Jeongguk doesn’t say anything in response. Instead, he moves towards his bedside table and gets a bottle of lube. He fishes in for a condom, and Taehyung says, “Wait.” Jeongguk looks back at him. “So like, you might not want to do this—but I’m clean. So, if you’re clean, too, and you’re up for it, we can… do it without a condom.”

“Oh, fuck,” Jeongguk says then in a groan. “Okay, yes. No condom. I want to feel all of you around me.”

Taehyung lets out a moan at Jeongguk’s words, the thought of feeling Jeongguk inside of him with no barriers between them more than tempting. He was worried Jeongguk wouldn’t be into it, but now he can’t wait to feel all of him. Fuck, will he accept to come inside him? Taehyung thinks he’d like that, even if he has never had sex without a condom before.

While he was rambling in his head Jeongguk squeezed some lube in his hands, coating his fingers with it. The wet, squelching sound makes Taehyung burn with anticipation, craving the feeling of Jeongguk inside of him.

“Ready?” Jeongguk asks, lightly brushing his fingers against Taehyung’s rim. Taehyung nods wordlessly. “Okay, okay.”

The feeling of Jeongguk pressing his middle finger inside of him feels like a victory, making Taehyung’s mouth fall open in a silent cry. Jeongguk presses in slow and gently, and it goes inside easily and without resistance. Once he’s fully in Jeongguk starts moving it around, thrusting in and out, and soon enough the digit doesn’t feel like enough on its own.

“More,” he says, sounding as out of breath as he feels. “I want more. Please, Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk complies. He pulls his finger out; only to press it back in, now joined with one more finger. This time Taehyung can feel a slight burn to it but he loves it. He loves the feeling of being stretched out like this, his walls clenching tight around Jeongguk’s fingers. When they’re all the way in he starts moving them to try and stretch Taehyung open, making him whine.

“Your fingers feel so good,” Taehyung babbles. He’s positive he’s drooling on the sheets, but right now he doesn’t care. Jeongguk is finger fucking him and it feels amazing.

“Is that so, baby?” Jeongguk asks. “Do you want one more?”

“Yes,” Taehyung replies, not missing a beat. He does want more.

And that’s how Jeongguk presses three of his fingers inside of Taehyung, and Taehyung swears that he can see stars in his eyelids when he closes his eyes. Jeongguk goes in slow and carefully, making sure that it doesn’t hurt at all, and Taehyung feels so taken care of that it makes his dick throb in the lace panties. That, added to how intense the feeling of fullness is, is more than enough to make his mouth water.

He thrusts them in and out, angling them, and it’s not long before he finds Taehyung’s prostate. That makes Taehyung let out a moan as he clenches around Jeongguk’s fingers, toes curling. Jeongguk keeps thrusting against his sweet spot again and again, to the point Taehyung knows he will come soon if he keeps it up.

“J-Jeongguk,” he ends up moaning, almost desperate. “I’ll come if you keep doing this, please—please fuck me now.”

Taehyung is not looking at Jeongguk anymore, but he can hear him swallow, even over the sound of his own pants. “Okay, yes,” Jeongguk says then as he removes his fingers from inside of Taehyung. His panties are still messily pulled to the side, and Taehyung has a feeling that Jeongguk isn’t planning on taking them off. Not that he’s complaining, though. There’s something both incredibly dirty and hot about being fucked like this, with his underwear pushed aside. Besides, they feel incredible against his dick. He’s so caught up in his thoughts he didn’t even notice Jeongguk was undressing, throwing his pants and his underwear to the floor.

He can hear Jeongguk uncap the bottle again and pour more lube in his palm, followed by a hiss when he slicks his dick up. His hole is lubed up enough as it is already, but Jeongguk still pours some more lube. Just to be safe, he says.

The moment Taehyung feels the head of Jeongguk’s cock press against his rim, he tenses up. Jeongguk shushes him, and with the hand that is not guiding his dick to Taehyung’s hole he soothes circles on the small of his back. It’s not like he’s nervous, but he’s anticipating. He’s incredibly turned on, and in addition to that, it will be his first time having sex without a condom. Of course he’s anticipating.

Jeongguk slowly pushes his cock inside of Taehyung, and it’s everything Taehyung was waiting for and more. He swears he can feel every inch go inside, the feeling knocking the air out of his lungs. He clenches the sheets tight on his hands and squeezes his eyes shut, reveling in the feeling of Jeongguk’s hand clasping around his hip, the light kiss that he drops on Taehyung’s shoulder.

He’s waiting for him to adjust, Taehyung knows, but he doesn’t need it. Well, maybe he’d need a few moments, but he doesn’t want them. The stretch burns a little, but Taehyung likes it. It’s filthy and nasty, and it’s probably even nastier that Taehyung loves the way it feels, but well. He’s letting his boyfriend fuck him in a set of red lingerie. Maybe he’s a little bit nasty, after all.

So he says, “Move.” Jeongguk doesn’t do anything, probably shocked, and Taehyung looks over his shoulders as he repeats, “Move. Please, Guk. Fuck me.”

That seems to be all it takes for Jeongguk to snap out of his daze. He pulls back then until only the tip of his cock is inside, and Taehyung feels his skin tingle in anticipation before Jeongguk is thrusting in again. He steadily builds a rhythm, both hands holding Taehyung’s hips and pulling him back against him to meet each thrust. There’s something incredibly hot about being fucked like this, Taehyung thinks.

“More,” he calls out. He loves this, but he wants it harder, faster. He wants Jeongguk to fuck the coherency out of him, to make him forget even his own name. “More, more, please.”

“Fuck, Taehyung,” groans Jeongguk, fingers tightening around Taehyung’s hips as he speeds his thrusts up. “You love my cock this much, huh?”

“S-so much,” says Taehyung. His voice sounds terribly strained right now, but he can’t bring himself to care. Not with the way Jeongguk is fucking into him.

“You take it so well,” Jeongguk carries on, his words making Taehyung’s dick leak even more pre-come. “You’re so good, baby. Fuck, and so tight.”

The words make Taehyung choke out a sob, clenching around Jeongguk. It’s crazy how someone can make him feel so much just with talk, and up until Jeongguk he had never felt that way with anyone else. Maybe it’s because Jeongguk is more experienced, or maybe because he knows how him so well, already.

As Jeongguk keeps fucking into him, Taehyung feels himself get closer and closer to orgasm, and with that, needier and needier. He moans more, he begs more. And judging by Jeongguk’s sounds and the way he thrusts into him, the way his hands tighten around Taehyung’s hips, he’s loving it.

“Baby,” Jeongguk calls, the endearing term making Taehyung let out a whimper. No matter how often Jeongguk uses, Taehyung’s heart will never not skip a beat at it.

He looks over his shoulder and locks his eyes with Jeongguk’s. They’re dark and full of want, lips parted and letting out low sounds as his hair sticks to his forehead with sweat. Jeongguk reaches out then, and Taehyung kneels up out of instinct. Jeongguk’s mouth meets his in a wet kiss, tongue curling against his as he wraps one arm around Taehyung’s middle to keep him up, the other hand still on his hips.

Jeongguk’s hips keep thrusting into him while they kiss, both of them swallowing the pleasured sounds the other makes. Taehyung’s fingers wrap around Jeongguk’s forearm as the kiss ends, but neither of them pull back.

“Feels so good,” Taehyung says then. Jeongguk groans, exhaling against Taehyung’s lips. “Fuck, you’re—you fuck me so well, Gukkie.”

It’s right then that Jeongguk finds Taehyung’s prostate, thrusting right into it and making Taehyung whine as he digs his nails into Jeongguk’s forearm. Jeongguk notices and thrusts straight into it again, and again, and again, making Taehyung literally melt in his arms.

“R-right there, God,” he manages to get out. He’s surprised he can utter semi-coherent sentences now, with how dizzy he feels. “Please. Please, I—oh, God, I’m gonna come.”

“Can you come untouched, baby?” Jeongguk asks. He still brushes his fingers lightly over Taehyung’s neglected cock, making his mouth fall open in a moan. “Just from me fucking you?”

“Yes,” Taehyung says. “Yes—I’m so close. Jeongguk, please, please. Make me come.”

Jeongguk moans, too, pressing wet kisses against the column of Taehyung’s neck. By the way his thrusts turn erratic and sloppy Taehyung can tell he’s close, too, and the thought of Jeongguk coming and spilling inside of him is what sends Taehyung over the edge.

He stains the front of his panties, moaning something that sounds a lot like Jeongguk’s name while he clenches around him. He’s gone, so gone, but he still notices the way Jeongguk moans before he finally spills inside of him, body going still for a second.

They collapse on the mattress then, their legs tangled and with Jeongguk sprawled on top of Taehyung, who looks back over his shoulder to get a slow, sweet kiss from Jeongguk. They stay like that for a few moments, but it soon gets uncomfortable.

When Jeongguk is about to pull out, Taehyung says, “Wait.” Jeongguk looks at him inquiringly. “We’re gonna make a mess when you pull out.”

Jeongguk snorts then, laughing a little. “Is that what you’re worried about?” he says, Taehyung nodding. He doesn’t particularly mind sweaty sheets or a few come stains—they’ll change them tomorrow, he promises—but Jeongguk’s whole load is a bit… excessive. “Stick your finger in your ass and come to the bathroom with me. We could use a shower.”

“What—I’m not going to stick my finger in my ass, Jeongguk!” he protests, Jeongguk laughing at him. “You’re terrible. I really don’t know you.”

“Well, then during our way to the bathroom I can stick my finger in your ass. Again,” he says, a smug smile on his face.

Jeongguk.”

“What? It’s like a butt plug. A DIY butt plug.”

“God, please,” Taehyung says, although he can’t deny the fact that he’s laughing. “Why am I dating you?”

“Because you like me so, so much,” Jeongguk says, dropping a kiss on his cheek.

Taehyung says nothing and just rolls his eyes, but of course what Jeongguk said is true. How could it not be?

 

 

 

Taehyung and Nari slide back into routine easily, even if during the first days Nari would say she miser her dad a lot. Luckily, kindergarten and Taehyung’s games and plans are enough to keep her entertained.

It’s on one afternoon when they’re both drawing that it happens. As much as Nari likes to talk, when she’s drawing that goes away—she’s so focused that she goes completely quiet, only the noise of her pencils against the paper being heard in the room.

She has also been getting a lot better, if you ask Taehyung. And Jeongguk agrees with him. It’s something that she’s good at and that she clearly likes a lot, and Jeongguk is almost more excited about her little gift than Nari herself is.

The doorbell sounds then, startling both of them. Taehyung doesn’t have any class scheduled for today and he hasn’t got any texts or calls from someone who might visit, so he’s a little confused. They don’t get visits a lot, much less unannounced.

“Wait here, Nana,” he says, standing up from the floor and walking to the hall. Behind him, Nari calls, okay!

Because Taehyung doesn’t believe in peepholes he opens the door straight away, without bothering to check who’s there. Not that it would have made any difference—there is a woman there, maybe a few years older than him, but Taehyung has no clue of who it is. A neighbor, perhaps. A lot of people live in Jeongguk’s building, and Taehyung can’t recognize more than half of them.

“Good afternoon,” he says, “Can I help you?”

“Hi, good afternoon,” the woman says, smiling at him. Behind him he can hear Nari stand up and start walking to the hall, but he doesn’t think too much of it. “I was wondering if Jeongguk was home?”

“He’s not home at the moment,” Taehyung replies. “But I can let him know you came by when he’s back. I’d invite you to come in and wait, but he won’t be home for a few hours. It might get long.”

“Oh, actually that’s—” she starts, but then she stops herself as she looks at something behind Taehyung. Her mouth stretches into a smile, and before Taehyung can even process what’s going on she says, “Hi, sweetheart.”

“Mommy?”

 

 

Out of all the violent and uncomfortable moments that there have been in Taehyung’s life—trust him, there have been a lot—being alone at home with his boyfriend’s ex and his daughter was one of the worst ones. He had seen Naeun before, but for some reason he didn’t recognize her at first. Maybe he was just in denial.

Even if all he wanted to do the moment he found out it was Jeongguk’s ex standing before their door was to slam it closed and tell her to get lost, he knows he can’t do that. He’s not going to be petty. So he invites her to come in, and that Naeun does.

Nari, unsurprisingly enough, is not cold towards them. Taehyung offered a drink, so while he makes the both of them a tea in the kitchen he can hear Nari and her mom talk, excitedly. And it’s making him sick. Because how could she walk away from this and now reappear like nothing? Does she not feel guilty?

“So, who are you?” she asks once Taehyung is sitting with them, both of them sipping their tea. “Sorry if I sound indiscreet, but a mom worries about who their child is left alone with.”

Taehyung almost wants to laugh. How does she have the nerve to say she worries when she has been gone for so long?

“Ah, yeah, I understand,” is what he actually says. “I, um. I’m Jeongguk’s boyfriend.”

Naeun’s eyebrows raise and she is left speechless for a moment. “Oh, well—that’s great!” she says. It sounds a little fake to Taehyung’s ears, but he must admit he’s not being fair. He’s skeptic to anything right now.

“Taetae used to take care of me,” Nari starts explaining then, unaware of the tension in the room. Taehyung kind of wishes he could be like that, too. “But now Daddy and he like each other and they kiss on the mouth.”

“Oh, so you were the babysitter?” she asks, Taehyung nodding with a yes. “Very cute, very cute.”

Nari carries most of the conversation, and it’s not too long before Taehyung excuses himself to say he’ll call Jeongguk to let him know his ex is here. He is supposed to only call Jeongguk during working hours if there is an emergency, but he’s going to be selfish for a moment and ask Jeongguk to hurry home.

Babe?” Jeongguk asks as soon as he picks up. He sounds worried, and Taehyung worries that he’s making him worry over something like this. “Is everything okay?

“Yes, yes, everything is fine,” Taehyung says, stretching one arm and resting his weight on the countertop. He sighs. “It’s just—we have a visitor. Naeun is here.”

There is a moment of silence where neither of them says anything, and Taehyung swears he can’t even hear Jeongguk breathing on the other end of the line. When he finally speaks, all he says is, “Pardon?

“She, uh, came by a while ago asking for you,” Taehyung explains. “I told her I would tell you she came by, but she insisted on waiting until you came back home. Said it’s urgent and that she needs to talk to you today. Now she’s with Nari in the other room.”

What the—what the fuck is she doing here? She just showed up out of nowhere?” he asks. Taehyung hums affirmatively. “Okay, fuck—I’ll be home in around an hour. That’s… what the fuck. What the fuck.”

“You’re starting to repeat yourself now,” Taehyung says, teasingly. He surprises himself—he doesn’t really feel like teasing right now, if he’s honest.

I don’t really know what else to say,” Jeongguk admits. “Has she said what she wants?

“Nope,” Taehyung replies, drumming his hands on the marble. “Guess we’ll have to find out.”

She’s going to want to stay for dinner,” Jeongguk groans, his tone making Taehyung smile. He’s glad to see he’s not the only one who isn’t enthusiastic about the visit, if he’s honest. “Oh, God, end me now.”

“I’ll start cooking now then,” Taehyung adds. Then, in a lower voice so he can’t be heard from the living room, he adds, “Anything as long as I can get out of there, for real. I feel so uncomfortable.”

Jeongguk laughs, and after that they say their goodbyes. Once they have hung up he asks Naeun if she’d like to stay for dinner, which she accepts. He knows that whatever Naeun and Jeongguk want to talk about is not something that Nari should witness; if they couldn’t do it over the phone, then it must be serious.

At least he gets to distract himself. Not that his thoughts are any less bitter as he cooks, but at least he’s doing something. Before he even realizes Jeongguk is back home, and dinner is already done, so it’s all advantages.

Dinner time is very, very tense. Conversation is very stiff, and Jeongguk is clearly not pleased with the visit. Naeun is, well… She’s actually the one acting the nicest, Taehyung must admit that much. But she’s also the one who came back from nowhere after abandoning her husband and their daughter without a word. Coming back being rude would take her nowhere.

Taehyung is positive she wants something. He knows he’s being harsh, but why else would she come back now? Plus, it’s not like she suddenly misses Nari; she said she specifically wanted to speak to Jeongguk.

Dinner is over and Jeongguk puts Nari to bed after she says goodbye to her mom. While Naeun waits in the living room Taehyung washes the dishes, still not in the mood to face Naeun alone. Especially not now that they’d be completely on their own, without the safety blanket that Nari is.

Once he’s done, Jeongguk stops by the kitchen before moving to the living room where Naeun is. “Tae?” he calls softly, Taehyung humming inquisitively as he looks at him over his shoulder. “Mind coming to the living room with me?”

“Oh?” asks Taehyung, surprised. He definitely wasn’t expecting this. “Really? I was planning on hanging in the bedroom until she left, to let the both of you speak in private. I’m not sure she’d like me to be in there…”

“Well, I do,” Jeongguk says, simply. “You’re my boyfriend, and she’s in our house. So, if you want to, you can be there. Only if you want to.”

Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip, but ends up nodding. “Okay, yes,” he says. “Give me a moment. I’ll be there.”

He finished rinsing the plate in his hand and dries his hands, both of them walking to the living room together. If Naeun is surprised to see him there, she doesn’t show it. Jeongguk and Taehyung sit side by side on the L of the couch, a considerable amount of space between them and Naeun. There are a few moments of stiff silence until Jeongguk says something.

“So…” he starts then, awkwardly. “What brings you here, Naeun?”

Naeun sighs, rubbing her palms against the fabric of her jeans. “Straight to the point, I see,” she comments. Jeongguk doesn’t reply. For the first time since she showed up at their doorstep she seems kind of nervous, and it makes Taehyung wonder what the real reason behind her visit is. “So… I think it’s about time we get a divorce, don’t you?”

She says it so nonchalantly, and Taehyung can see Jeongguk stiffen by his side. Taehyung doesn’t let irrational thoughts get the best of him—he knows that Jeongguk doesn’t not want the marriage to end. That’s not why he tensed up.

“Well,” he starts, an edge of irritation to his voice. “I do think that, yeah. Maybe if you had done things like a normal person back then we would have gotten one long ago.”

Naeun rolls her eyes. “Whatever, Jeongguk,” she says then. “I’m not here to fight. I don’t want the house, the car, the child, or anything—you keep it all. I want you to agree to sign the papers and meet up with me and my lawyer when everything is ready. That’s all.”

“You could have said that over the phone,” Jeongguk remarks. “You can’t just come back into Nari’s life one day all of sudden, just to disappear again. You’re confusing her.”

“It’s something that I’d very much rather discuss in person, Jeongguk,” she replies.

Jeongguk scoffs sardonically. “That’s new for you.”

“Will you let go of that?”

“Well, your wife disappearing one day is not something easy to let go of.”

There is something uncomfortable about sitting there and watching them bicker. Their little quarrel is literally the epitome of a married couple argument, and as Jeongguk’s boyfriend, Taehyung doesn’t really like witnessing that. And not only because of that. The atmosphere is obviously tense, and Jeongguk very obviously holds a grudge against her. He’s hurt, and Taehyung understands why—when you give all your time, your life to a person, you don’t expect them to just disappear one day. Even if things go wrong. Leaving without a word… Taehyung doesn’t think he would be able to handle that, especially with a child in the equation.

“Look I said I’m not here to argue—”

“Why now?” Jeongguk interrupts. Her lips fall closed again, and she presses them into a thin line. Seeing her reluctance to reply, Jeongguk asks again, “Why now? What’s the rush to get a divorce?”

“I want to get married again.”

Taehyung’s lips part open after that, and his instant reaction is to look at Jeongguk to see how he took the news. He has raised his eyebrows, but he looks… unimpressed, Taehyung would say.

“Pardon?” Jeongguk says.

“I want to get married again,” she repeats. “I’m with someone else. And we want to get married soon. So… I need this marriage out of the way.”

“Out of the way,” repeats Jeongguk, bitterly. “You—it’s been one year. You’re getting married again?”

“It’s been a year, but you know full well it’s been longer since we’ve been okay, Jeongguk,” she says. “One year ago I wasn’t in love with you, and you weren’t in love with me. So don’t put up the act of the tormented husband because you know full well you don’t care about my love life.”

“Oh, no, I don’t give a fuck who you’re with,” Jeongguk says, starting to lose his temper. Taehyung reaches out for his knee and gives him a squeeze. He has never seen Jeongguk angry. Annoyed, yes, but never angry. And he’d like to not see him angry, especially not over this. “You be with whoever you want. But remarrying after one year of abandoning your husband and your daughter? You sure enough aren’t wasting any time.”

Naeun scoffs, bitterly. “Well, neither have you,” she says, her eyes flickering between Jeongguk and Taehyung. “The babysitter? Really? Never thought I’d see you turn into such a cliché.”

“You don’t know anything, Naeun,” Jeongguk says, clenching his jaw as he stands up. “Call me when those papers are ready. But for now, get out of my house.”

“Gladly,” Naeun says, standing up as well. Taehyung stays frozen on the couch, not knowing what to say or do. “No need to walk me to the door—I know the way. Bye Jeongguk. Taehyung—it was nice to meet you. I’ll see you.”

“Likewise,” Taehyung says, out of instinct. He doesn’t really know what to say, Jesus. “I will, uh—I’ll see you. Bye.”

Jeongguk mutters his farewell as well, and with that Naeun starts walking and leaves the room. Soon enough, there’s the sound of the front door shutting and her heels clicking on the floor as she walks to the elevator.

“Well, uh,” Taehyung says, interrupting the silence. “I think we could have handled that better.”

 

 

 

It’s not usual for Jeongguk to call Taehyung to say he’ll be getting home later than usual that evening, but it happens sometimes. And every single time it breaks his heart to have to tell Nari—he knows the little girl looks forward to those moments at the end of the day with her dad, so he never fails to feel sad whenever that can’t really happen.

Tonight is one of those nights, unfortunately, and when he tells Nari that Jeongguk won’t be home early she pulls her lips out in a pout. He feels tempted to go get Jeongguk and drag him home—only after maybe scolding his boss for making him stay until late—or delay Nari’s bedtime. Which, well… is not the best option. But it’s one option.

In the end, his brain wins the battle to his heart and he makes dinner for Nari, those dinosaur-shaped nuggets that for some reason she seems to love. After that he runs her a bath, and one hour later Nari is ready for bed.

It’s crazy to do this on his own. Before he moved in, when he was exclusively Nari’s babysitter, he had to do all of this too, sometimes. But now it had been a while since the last time, and recently he had gotten used to doing it with Jeongguk. It was routine. So him not being there while Nari baths, during the time of her bedtime story… It feels weird.

“Goodnight, Nana,” Taehyung says once her bedtime story is over, leaning forward to press a kiss on the forehead of a sleepy Nari. “Sleep tight, angel.”

“Goodnight,” she says in a mumble. “Taetae… You’re my Daddy too, now?” she asks.

Taehyung freezes for a moment, not knowing what to reply to this. This—this isn’t something he feels able to reply to without talking to Jeongguk. His heart feels warm, so, so warm after Nari’s question. But he knows it’s not something he has the answer to.

“Aren’t you a curious little thing?” he asks, trying his best to swerve the question. “Go to sleep now, Nana. Questions during the daytime, sleep during the nighttime, okay?”

“Okay,” she says. She’s too sleepy to care or even notice Taehyung’s awkward response, thankfully, so she just closes her eyes and cuddles her plushie. “Goonight, Taetae.”

Taehyung wishes her a goodnight again before making sure her night light is on and leaving the room, closing the door behind him as quietly as he can.

He’s happy. He thinks back to Nari’s words and a huge, toothy smile appears on his face. Because now, now he feels like he’s part of the family, too.

 

 

To say that Taehyung is surprised when the doorbell rings one afternoon and he, again, finds Naeun on the other side of the door would be an understatement. He’s shocked, to say the least.

“Uh—hi, Naeun,” Taehyung greets. “Jeongguk is not home yet, in case you were looking for him.”

“Oh, no, not this time,” she says, giving Taehyung a blinding smile. “I’m actually looking for Nari. She’s home, right?”

“Oh,” Taehyung says, unable to hide his shock. “Yeah, yeah she’s here. Do you, uh. Do you want to come in?”

“That’s very lovely of you to offer,” Naeun says, “but I actually wanted to take Nari out to the park today. I feel like I’ve been missing a lot of mother-daughter time, so I was wondering if we could have a bit of us time.”

Taehyung’s mouth opens, conflicted. What is he supposed to do now? Most importantly—what would Jeongguk do?

“Ah, well, I don’t know if I can do that,” he tries to excuse himself. “Like—I don’t know, I don’t think I could let you take her without Jeongguk agreeing first.”

“Oh, well, I understand where you’re coming from, see,” she says. “But Nari is my daughter, as well as Jeongguk’s. I made… some questionable choices that took me away from her for so long, and that’s what I’m trying to fix right now. I know she’s not getting a conventional family life, but I want her to at least have a relationship with her mother—with me.”

“Still…” Taehyung says, reluctantly. He’s very, very conflicted.

“Come on, Taehyung,” she insists. “I’m her mother, after all. I just want one afternoon with my daughter, that’s all. I promise I won’t kidnap her, Jesus Christ—Jeongguk has my number, and I can give you my current address.”

“I—” Taehyung starts. He wants to look for more excuses, but he doesn’t know what else to say. Naeun has a point, she’s Nari’s mother, after all. And she has more authority over Nari than he has. Who is he to forbid her from spending time with her mother? Plus, the other day Jeongguk didn’t seem too upset that they spent the afternoon together. “Okay. Okay, yes. Come in while I get her ready to go outside, then?”

Naeun does, and after Taehyung changes Nari into her clothes, both of them leave. Naeun said she’d go to the park nearby, which is only a few minutes walk away. It will be alright, or at least that’s what he tries to tell himself.

Maybe it’s fate trying to play sick little games for them, or maybe it’s just a pure coincidence, but Jeongguk actually gets off work earlier than usual that day. As soon as he opens the door, he starts saying something about his boss having mercy on him for once and letting him out sooner. But then he notices something—the lack of Nari’s Daddy! and her running to the door to meet him.

“Where’s Nari?” he asks, stepping into the living room with his coat and his shoes still on.

Taehyung’s heart feels heavy. Yeah, letting Nari go doesn’t seem like such a good idea now.

“Naeun came by this afternoon,” he says. Jeongguk’s expression turns alarmed then, and Taehyung carries on. “She asked to take her to the park, to have some mother and daughter time, and—”

“And you let her take her?” Jeongguk asks. Taehyung shuts up, biting down on his bottom lip. Yeah, it doesn’t seem like such a great idea now. “Tae, why’d you do that?”

“Well, I don’t know,” he replies, not wanting to meet Jeongguk’s eyes. “She—she’s her mom. And I’m not anyone to forbid her from being with her daughter, and she said they’d just go to the park and that they’d be back soon, so I just—I don’t know.”

Jeongguk sighs almost exasperatedly, and Taehyung feels his heart sink. He really fucked up, didn’t he?

“Taehyung, think about it for a moment,” Jeongguk says. “She has been gone for over a year. Do you really think she has the right to just show up and take her to the stupid park? I don’t give a shit if she’s her mother. She’s not raising her, she has no right to do this.”

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung says. “I just—I’m sorry.”

“To the park nearby?” Jeongguk asks. Taehyung nods. “Okay. I’m going to go get her.”

“Wait, I’ll change and we can go together,” Taehyung offers, looking up at Jeongguk, but Jeongguk shrugs.

“No, it’s okay, I’ll go alone,” he says. He doesn’t sound like he’s saying it to save Taehyung the bother, though. He doesn’t sound like he’s too happy with Taehyung right now. “It’s fine. I’ll be back in ten minutes.”

Taehyung doesn’t know what to reply, and all he can utter is a small bye before Jeongguk is out of the door again. He doesn’t know how long Jeongguk is gone for, but it feels like more than ten minutes. He has time to think of a lot of bad scenarios in his head—Jeongguk yelling at him for being irresponsible, or Jeongguk being disappointed in him for being so careless. But most importantly, he’s worried about Nari. Naeun said that she wasn’t going to kidnap her and Taehyung doubts that’d be the case, but his mind is going one hundred miles a minute and he can’t stop it.

The longer he waits the more anxious he gets, and by the time he hears the door to the apartment click open again he was on the verge of pulling all of his hair out. He jumps off the couch and rushes to the hall, frowning confused when he sees Jeongguk alone.

“Where’s Nari?” he asks, voice coming out strangled. Jeongguk looks composed, which is good enough. Still, his heart feels like it’s about to tear his chest open with how fast it’s beating.

He’s scared. And he feels guilty.

“They weren’t there,” Jeongguk replies. “I called Naeun and she said she took her to her place because it was could. Like, what the fuck? Who the fuck does that? She should have dropped her home and then fucked off again,” he rambles, Taehyung biting down on his bottom lip. “I came back to get my car keys. I’m driving to pick her up.”

“Please let me go with you,” Taehyung says. He’s not even going to get changed—he’s wearing comfy pants and a sweatshirt, but he can just put some shoes on and leave.

“Yeah, yeah, of course,” Jeongguk says, taking his car keys from the little bowl in the hall. “But let’s go now. I don’t like Nari being with her for so long. Gives me the chills.”

Taehyung gives him a tightlipped smile, and less than two minutes later they’re both out of the door. It doesn’t seem like he’s angry with him but Taehyung feels… overwhelmed. He’s overridden with guilt and anger at himself; for being so careless, for letting Jeongguk down, for making him worry. He’s lucky Naeun was honest. Had she had ill intentions, she would have gotten away with it so easily. And it would all be Taehyung’s fault.

So he’s too caught up in his thoughts that he doesn’t say anything the whole drive there. He wants to cry, if he’s honest. And he never cries.

They eventually get there, parking the car and buzzing the button for Naeun’s apartment. On their way up in the elevator Taehyung considers saying something—apologizing again. But it feels redundant so he doesn’t say anything, and Jeongguk doesn’t, either.

And for the first time, Taehyung feels uncomfortable in Jeongguk’s presence.

It’s almost a relief to get out of the elevator and be able to put some distance in between them, Taehyung leaning against the wall as they wait in front of the door to Naeun’s apartment. He hates feeling like this—it’s not like Jeongguk has been hostile, it’s not like he has yelled at Taehyung or blamed him for anything. He knows that the tense moment they had right after he got home was just a result of anxiety for not knowing where Nari was. Yet, he can’t help but feel like he’s to blame for this, and like Jeongguk secretly hates him now.

The door opens and Naeun appears behind it, smiling as always.

“Where’s Nari?” Jeongguk asks as soon as the door opens, not wasting anytime.

“Good evening to you too, Jeongguk,” Naeun says as the smiles falls off her face. “Come in. She’s in the living room.”

Jeongguk walks inside, followed by Taehyung, and Naeun guides them to the living room. There is Nari, sitting on the carpet, and playing with a man—Naeun’s partner, Taehyung assumes.

“Daddy!” exclaims Nari as soon as she sees both of them come in. It almost feels like a repeat of Nari welcoming Jeongguk home every day—he crouches down, pick her up, she hugs his neck and kisses his cheeks. “Daddy, I’m so happy that you’re here! I had a great day with Mommy today, and she has a boyfriend like you, too! And we played games and they even said I can stay with them whenever I want.”

“That’s really great, angel,” Jeongguk says, pulling back and stroking Nari’s cheek lightly with his thumb. Taehyung knows that Jeongguk doesn’t feel like it’s great at all, but he’s doing a great job of acting normal in front of his daughter. “But we need to go home now. It’s getting late, and you need to have dinner and go to bed for kindergarten tomorrow.”

“She had dinner here actually,” chimes in Naeun’s boyfriend then. Jeongguk tries hard to keep himself composed and keep a straight face, but Taehyung doesn’t miss the way the corner of his mouth twitches at the word.

“Ah, well—still, she needs to go home now,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung can hear Naeun sigh, but no one argues. “Where’s your coat, angel?”

The way back home is… definitely not quiet since Nari keeps chatting and telling them about her day with her mom. But it’s just a tense. At least, on Taehyung’s side.

It’s not long before Nari says, “I missed Mommy so much, Daddy.” Jeongguk hums distractedly. “I’m so happy she’s back. Do you think we can be a family again?”

 Taehyung’s eyes widen then. He steals one glance at Jeongguk and sees the look of hurt on his face, the way his lips part just to close again, not knowing what to say.

“We—we’re a family, Nari,” Jeongguk says. His voice sounds a little choked, and Taehyung can feel a knot form in his own throat. “We’re a family.”

Nari and Jeongguk keep talking for the rest of the ride, but Taehyung is too immersed in his own thoughts to hear them. All he can think about is we can be a family again, the words feeling like a dagger in his chest every single time. And he knows he has no right to feel this way—it’s not his family. Nari is not his child. Nari is not his family, even if he has been trying to convince himself that he is part of… well, of everything.

Realization hits him like a bucket of cold water poured on him to the point where he almost feels like shaking. He feels incredibly ridiculous now. Nari has a dad and a mom, and Taehyung is in no way going to replace her real parents. And even if the most rational part of himself tells him that he has no reason to be upset, it still hurts. He’s Jeongguk’s boyfriend, but that’s all. He’s not part of his family, and he’s definitely not a father for his daughter.

He knows he should be more centered on how Jeongguk feels—the implications in Nari’s words that they haven’t been a family since her mother left are still there, and Taehyung knows that they hurt. But he still feels overwhelmed, and he feels like he can’t breathe. Everything is crashing down on him at the same time: Nari’s words, the feeling of guilt for letting Nari go, feeling like he doesn’t belong with them. And he can’t breathe.

“Can you drop me off at Namjoon’s?” he asks. And he didn’t even register the words leaving his mouth until Jeongguk looks at him with a frown. Hell, he didn’t even think about them—he just blurted them out.

“Uh, sure thing,” Jeongguk says then. “Do you need to pick something up?”

Taehyung feels cruel. He feels cruel and he feels selfish, but he needs out. He feels like he can’t breathe in the car with Nari and Jeongguk, and he knows it’ll just get worse and worse when they get home, when they’re alone and he has to face Jeongguk. He’s feeling too much, and he knows that Jeongguk is too. And he’s terrified of the outcome it might have.

So he says, “No, I think I’m going to spend the night there.” Jeongguk doesn’t say anything, and in a lower voice, Taehyung adds, “Maybe a few days.”

“Okay,” says Jeongguk. There is a cold edge to his tone that makes Taehyung feel small but he knows it’s deserved. He’s the one who’s running away, isn’t he? “Okay. Let’s go, then.”

Jeongguk’s knuckles turn white around the steering wheel as he drives, and the atmosphere is so tense that Taehyung feels like his skin starts itching. Nari falls asleep eventually, and they fall in complete silence, not even the radio playing.

They get there and Taehyung mutters a low goodbye, see you soon before he gets out. He wasn’t expecting Jeongguk to get out of the car, too.

“Taehyung, wait,” he says. Taehyung sighs and turns around, looking at Jeongguk silently. “What is all of this about? Why aren’t you coming home?”

“I just—I feel—” he starts. The look on Jeongguk’s face makes him feel even guiltier and his voice breaks. He hates it—he feels so weak, so stupid. He looks away from Jeongguk before he adds, “I need some space. I need time.”

“Space and time for what?” Jeongguk replies. He takes a step closer, but stops in his tracks when Taehyung raises his hand. “Tae, what…”

“To think,” he says. More so, to sort out his feelings and figure out if he sees himself capable of doing this. Maybe he didn’t realize all the implications of what he was getting himself into. Maybe he didn’t think everything through. “I need to think. I’m sorry, Jeongguk.”

“A-alright then,” says Jeongguk, and he sounds so broken that it feels like Taehyung has been punched in the gut. He loves him, and he hates to be the reason why he’s hurting. He wishes he could be braver, selfless. “Okay. I’ll… please, don’t disappear. Talk to me.”

“I will,” Taehyung rushes to add. “I’m sorry, Jeongguk. I just—I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Jeongguk replies. “It’s fine. Take care, yeah? I’ll see you soon.”

Taehyung mutters his goodbyes and turns around as Jeongguk gets back in the car. He knows that Jeongguk won’t leave until he makes sure that Taehyung gets in the building safely, and he hates the way his hand trembles as he unlocks the door.

He watches Jeongguk drive away before heading to the elevator, and even then, all he can hear is Jeongguk’s words echoing in his mind.

Please, don’t disappear.

 

 

Taehyung does kind of disappear. It’s been three days since Jeongguk dropped him off, and so far he has only texted him once to let him now he’s okay. And it didn’t even turn into a proper conversation—Jeongguk said I miss you, Taehyung replied I miss you too, and that was it.

It’s a Friday night and Taehyung is back to sulking on Namjoon and Yoongi’s sofa, a place and situation that he feels all too well. It almost feels like the last months didn’t happen, but there is a big difference now: Taehyung is very much in love, and very much hurting.

Namjoon and Yoongi left for one of their usual Friday night dates, which means he has time alone to feel sorry for himself and think about how much he misses Jeongguk, how much he misses Nari, and how badly he wants his life back. But also how scared he is to be invading, to be somewhere he doesn’t belong.

And that’s exactly what’s keeping him from messaging Jeongguk and apologizing, from asking how things are, if he can come back home. People usually say home is where the heart is, and Taehyung’s home is in the safety of Jeongguk’s arms, the warmth of his hugs and the love in his kisses.

He’s stuck. It’s been a long while since he has felt this way, since his own fears and insecurities stopped him from getting what he wants. Namjoon and Yoongi have been understanding—they told him to give himself time to figure things out, but to not let Jeongguk go. Taehyung is scared he’s going to take so long that Jeongguk leaves, or even worse, that he feels like Taehyung left.

His thoughts are interrupted by the sound of the buzzer. He almost considers ignoring it, since he doesn’t really want to see anyone, but decides to go get it—maybe Namjoon and Yoongi forgot something, and they need Taehyung to open the door for them. He drags himself away from the couch and to the hall, and as soon as he takes a look to the camera of the receiver, his heart skips a beat.

It’s Jeongguk.

“Uh, hi,” he speaks into the receiver. He’s so awkward. Why he so awkward? That’s his boyfriend, the man he’s in love with.

Hi,” says Jeongguk. “I, uh, I came here to talk. If you want.”

Taehyung swallows down. He feels slightly more ready than he did a few days ago, but he still doesn’t know how to put his feelings down into words and explain them to Jeongguk. Still—if he says no, it’s going to come out completely wrong, and make things even worse. He doesn’t want Jeongguk to think he doesn’t want to talk or fix things.

So, it looks like it’s time to face him now.

“I’ll buzz you in,” Taehyung says, about to press the button to unlock the door.

Can you come downstairs? I was thinking we could talk in the car or something,” Jeongguk replies. “PleaseI don’t really feel like going up.”

“Okay, okay,” Taehyung says. “But still—I’ll buzz you in. Wait inside, it’s cold.”

Taehyung gets changed into something halfway decent and goes down as soon as possible. He starts to feel nervous, which is ridiculous. It’s Jeongguk, after all. He has no reason to feel anxious about seeing him.

The moment they see each other feels… stilted. Taehyung is now used to greeting Jeongguk with a kiss, and now neither of them knows what to do. Go for a kiss? For a hug? In the end neither of them does anything, they just exchange timid hellos before Jeongguk takes Taehyung to where his car is parked.

The smell of air freshener in Jeongguk’s car is familiar, almost welcoming. It comforts Taehyung in an odd way. If this is how he feels now about something so small, how will it feel to hug Jeongguk again? Or how will it feel to be back after more than a few days away?

Taehyung isn’t sure if he’ll ever be gone again, but there is something he is certain about—he will always want to be back. Always.

They drive silently for a few moments, but it’s not uncomfortable. Maybe Jeongguk is doing it on purpose or maybe out of instinct, but he’s driving home. Taehyung knows the way like he knows the back of his hand.

And it’s not until he parks on his street that he finally sighs, saying something for the first time since they got in the car.

“Do you want to go up and talk?”

“Ah… no, not really,” Taehyung says, not daring look at Jeongguk in the eye. “It’s fine here. Where’s Nari?”

“She’s at Jimin’s,” Jeongguk replies. Taehyung nods. “I… I wanted to talk freely without having to worry about her overhearing or anything.”

“I see, I see,” Taehyung says, nodding. “Makes sense.”

There’s a moment of silence, almost as is neither of them know what else to say. Once the small talk is over… Well, it means it’s time to really address the issue.

“Tae…” Jeongguk starts. That alone, how devastated he sounds, is enough to make Taehyung’s heart break a little. “Tae, what happened?”

How to explain? He can’t even make sense of his own thoughts and feelings himself, how is he meant to make Jeongguk understand?

“I don’t know how to explain,” he says, honest. He can see Jeongguk deflate, so he adds, “I just—I don’t know, Jeongguk. It’s not like I’m having doubts about what I feel for you, or about wanting to be a part of your life.”

He knows that Jeongguk is confused. But then again, so is he. He knows that his fears and feelings are irrational, but he doesn’t know how to stop them. Reassurance from Jeongguk, maybe? Perhaps all he needs is for Jeongguk to tell him that he’s important, that he matters. But to get that, he needs to be brave and tell him.

“Then, what?” Jeongguk asks. “What did I do wrong?”

Taehyung feels himself drown in panic. Knowing Jeongguk, he should have known that he would blame himself for what happened. And that’s the last thing Taehyung wants to happen, for Jeongguk to feel guilty. So yeah, he’s panicking.

“No, no, no, no, it’s nothing like that,” he rushes to reply. “It’s just—I don’t know what to feel, Jeongguk. I was starting to feel part of the family. With your parents, your brother, with Nari—did you know the other day she asked me whether I was her Daddy now? And I just—I felt like I belonged with you, and like I was an important part of your life. But then—” his words come out messy and slurred together, but he can’t stop now. Even if this is the part he’s embarrassed about. “Naeun came back and I messed up. I let Nari go with her and let you down, and then… then, when we were in the car and Nari asked if now that her mother was back you could be a family again… that really hurt, Jeongguk.”

“Tae…”

“No, let me finish,” he says. He needs to let it all out now because God knows that if he doesn’t at this moment, he might never do it. “It hurt, and I felt like I was invisible, or redundant. Because on that day I went from feeling terribly guilty to being redundant because I really have no authority over Nari, to feeling like I’m invading. And Nari has a dad, and a mom, and I just—I feel redundant. I feel like I don’t belong with her or with you. And I love you, and I don’t know why I’m suddenly feeling this way or why I’m letting it get in the way of us, but I hate it.”

He feels relieved, somehow. Even if he’s aware that none of what he says makes sense, at least he has let it out. It finally feels like a weight is off his shoulders. Besides, heart matters rarely make sense, anyway.

He was looking at the console the whole time while speaking, and when he finally looks at Jeongguk, his expression is unreadable. Or maybe it’s just that Taehyung is far too emotionally invested in this to think clearly.

“You—oh, Tae,” Jeongguk says. He reaches with both of his hands for Taehyung’s cheeks, holding his face and looking at him. “Look at me. Look at me, baby—you’re important to me. And you’re important to Nari. You belong with us, and I won’t let you feel like you don’t. Because it’s not true. I don’t care if you’re not Nari’s biological father—that means shit. You’re taking care of her, teaching her, loving her—you’re raising her. And that’s what makes a parent a parent. Not genetics.”

“I just—I feel awful. I feel awful for even saying all of this, but Naeun coming back has made me really insecure about where I stand in your family, and has made me feel like I don’t belong,” he confesses. “And I feel like shit. Because none of this is your fault and I’m aware I’m acting stupidly. But it hurts.”

“It’s not stupid,” Jeongguk says. His eyes are actually glassy, like he’s about to tear up, and it makes Taehyung’s heart hurt a little. “I do wish you had brought it up instead of just running away from me. I thought—I thought you’d leave, that you didn’t want this anymore because Naeun coming back had made it too complicated. I was scared I was losing you.”

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung replies. He reaches out with his hand and gives one of Jeongguk’s wrists a squeeze, his palms still pressed on Taehyung’s cheeks. “I promise I don’t know why I’m feeling like this. And it’s not like I want to keep Nari away from her mom. But I—God, I’m so sorry.”

“You don’t have to apologize for how you feel,” Jeongguk says.

“But I do have to apologize for suddenly leaving, for making you worry,” Taehyung replies. “Just—tell me something. Not that I don’t know, or at least I think I do, but I need to hear you say it. Because I want a life with you and Nari, and I want to know… What am I to you?”

There’s a beat of silence, but Taehyung knows it’s not Jeongguk doubting his answer. Rather than that, it feels like he’s putting his thoughts in order.

“Taehyung, I love you,” says Jeongguk. Taehyung’s heart skips a beat. “I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to raise my daughter with you. You’re part of my life and you belong right where you are. I know we still have to work on things and figure stuff out, but we can do it together, Tae. Together.”

Taehyung feels a knot form in his throat, making it hard to speak. “I know,” he says, voice choked. “I know. I wish I had been able to tell you all that when it happened, but I was overwhelmed, Guk. And I felt left out.”

“And that’s valid,” Jeongguk says, letting go of Taehyung’s face only to hold his hand. “It’s okay to feel scared or overwhelmed. I know you’ve put a lot on the line for this relationship and getting yourself involved in something big—a kid, a family. But next time something like this happens, or next time something is troubling you, talk to me. I will do my best to understand and we will work it out. Together, we can work out anything, yeah?”

Taehyung nods. “Yes, yes, you’re right. Oh, God, I love you,” he chokes out, Jeongguk’s face splitting into a smile. “Let me hug you. Fuck, I missed you.”

“I missed you too,” says Jeongguk as he pulls Taehyung into a hug. It’s not the most comfortable since the console is in between them and they can’t hug properly. Jeongguk kisses his cheek and Taehyung melts. “So, so much. Please, don’t leave me like that ever again.”

Jeongguk’s smell is almost intoxicating but in the best of ways. Taehyung’s head feels like it’s spinning with a mixture of emotions—happiness, relief, contentment.

“I won’t ever,” Taehyung says. He knows he’s speaking big words, but he has the certainty that none of this will happen again. He loves Jeongguk. And Jeongguk loves him, and is able to soothe his pain and calm his worries like no one else. Like Jeongguk said—they can work anything out together.  “Oh, God, I really can’t believe I did all that. I’m so dramatic.”

“You’re fine, baby,” Jeongguk replies. He pulls back a little to look at Taehyung properly before he leans forward and presses a slow, sweet kiss against his lips. It’s slow, Jeongguk’s hand cupping his cheek before Taehyung covers it with his own and he gives it a squeeze. “Let’s go home, yeah?”

Taehyung nods. Home. He wants to go home—wants to go back home to Jeongguk.

 

 

Life falls back into place eventually. That very same night Jeongguk and Taehyung go upstairs and talk for hours—about their relationship, about Nari, about Naeun. Turns out Jeongguk actually signed the divorce papers that week and he talked to Naeun. She said she just wanted to spend a day or two with Nari since she and her boyfriend (soon to be husband, apparently) would be moving to Ulsan soon. Taehyung hates that he’s relieved to hear that.

Also, Taehyung finds out through Jeongguk that Nari missed him a lot, and finds out through Nari that Jeongguk was sad while he was gone. Which, too, should not make him feel relieved. But he can’t help to, since, in a way, it makes him feel wanted.

It’s fair to say that Taehyung feels better than ever, both with Nari and in his relationship with Jeongguk. He feels important, and for the first time since he got back, he’s not overthinking things, or his value in their lives.

And things keep getting better for him. It happens one afternoon when the parents and caretakers of the kids from Taehyung’s art class come pick them up. Yubin, the mom of one of the kids, asks him if they can talk a little after everyone else leaves

“You see, I have a proposition to make,” she says after Taehyung has made both of them a tea, Nari and her friend playing on the carpet. “My husband is working in the development of a center for kids with special needs and they plan to open next year. They’re looking for people now and as soon as they mentioned it I couldn’t help but think of you,” she says. “I know you have a degree in education, and I’m positive it’s something you’d be good at—if you’re interested of course.”

Taehyung is quiet for a moment, not knowing what to reply. Truth is, this is everything he has ever wanted and more. His ideal work. So of course he’s going to say yes.

“That’s—that’s actually great,” Taehyung says, still in shock. “I really would love that, yeah. I’m interested.”

“Ah, I thought so,” she replies with a soft smile. “I’ll tell my husband then. I’ll give him your number and he’ll get in contact with you soon.”

“Thank you so much, Yubin,” he says, honestly. “I really appreciate it.”

Taehyung can’t wait to tell Jeongguk. With Nari starting primary next year they won’t be in need of a new fulltime babysitter, and even if they needed to hire someone, at least Taehyung would have a new source of income. He talks with Yubin a little more and finds out the center would just be morning and early afternoon classes, so there’s a big possibility of him being able to still take care of Nari and give some art lessons to kids.

Life is smiling at Taehyung, and Taehyung can’t help but smile back.

 

 

It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while, Jeongguk gets a free afternoon from work. On days like that he spends time with Nari and Taehyung, and if Nari has kindergarten, he goes with Taehyung to pick her up.

Today is one of those afternoons. Taehyung and Jeongguk go hand in hand to pick Nari up, earning him some dirty looks but mostly soft, knowing smiles from the parents around them. Nari is not discreet, and kids live for the gossip. So most of them are aware that Taehyung has been more than Nari’s babysitter for a while.

The wait is nice. It’s starting to get sunnier and warmer now to the point it’s enjoyable to wait outside for the kids to get out. Since Jeongguk doesn’t stop by often a lot of people approach them, making small talk and asking how he is.

“I didn’t know you were so popular,” Taehyung teases, low enough so no one around them can hear them.

“Shut up,” Jeongguk says, playfully. “You’re just jealous.”

They don’t have to wait long before the kids are released. They come out excitedly running, and Taehyung notices the kids from Nari’s class are coming out with drawings in their hands. Taehyung is excited to see what Nari drew in all honestly.

It’s not long before they get to hear a more than familiar, “Daddy!” Nari is running to Jeongguk, who picks her up, and blowing kisses in Taehyung’s direction, too.

“What do you have here, angel?” says Jeongguk, taking the paper sheet from Nari’s hand. “Let me see.”

Taehyung, nosy, hooks his chin on Jeongguk’s shoulder to steal a glance. And as soon as he sees what’s on the paper, he can’t help but break into a wide smile.

In the drawing there are three people. Nari is in the middle, a big smile in her face. To her right there’s Jeongguk, dressed in his office clothes. And to her other side is Taehyung, long bangs included. There are hearts everywhere, and at the top, in the handwriting of Nari’s teacher, it says Nari’s Happy Family.

“That’s a very beautiful painting, Nana,” he says, Nari squealing in delight at the praise. “You’re such a great artist, aren’t you?”

Nari whines something, hiding her face in the crook of Jeongguk’s neck in embarrassment, and Jeongguk laughs cheerfully. Taehyung can’t help but smile, too, watching the two of them.

Finally, he feels like he has found his place in the world.