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Maybe a Little Less Mayonnaise?

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“They’re staring again.”

Yoongi looked up, and surely enough, there they were, staring with an intensity that would have been flattering if it was actually focused. It didn’t help that one of the guys had ketchup smeared on the side of his cheek. The other was almost cross-eyed because of how hard he was focusing, and neither seemed aware of the expressions they were making. Wherever their thoughts were, it was dead space.

Namjoon’s mouth twitched into a concerned frown as he rang up the next order and passed Yoongi the slip of paper with the list of drinks. “Do you think they know where they are?”

“I wouldn’t bet money on it,” Yoongi replied, finally looking away from the table and turning his attention to the coffee machine. Two cappuccinos on the way, one with low fat milk. “If they had any awareness of their surroundings, they certainly wouldn’t be looking at us, not with Jin cleaning tables nearby.”

“Who brings fast food into a coffee shop, anyway?” Namjoon muttered. Yoongi passed over the coffees with a smile, and as soon as the customers were sat and the counter was free, both men’s shoulders slumped immediately and they breathed out long sighs.

“I don’t know, but what I wouldn’t give for a burger,” Yoongi said, not bothering to hide the envy in his voice. Three hours into his shift and he already wanted to curl up beside the sacks of coffee beans in the back and nap the rest of the day away.

“Your lunch break is in half an hour, you can make it until then.” Namjoon punctuated his words with an energetically raised fist and a flash of his dimple. “Keep fighting!”

Yoongi snorted. “Put your fist down before you punch yourself.”

Namjoon lowered his arm with a terribly disguised pout, but was quickly distracted by Jin’s return, his arms ladened with empty cups. It would have been pathetic to watch how quickly Namjoon scrambled to ease the burden if it wasn’t for the way Jin’s cheeks turned pink and his perfect smile flashed, so full of warmth when his eyes landed on Namjoon. They really were disgustingly oblivious, but it kept Namjoon busy and lessened the chance of him breaking anything, so Yoongi kept quiet. He moved out behind the counter and took a handful of napkins as he made his way to the table with the cute faces and vacant stares.

The napkins landed on the table with a soft thump, but neither boy reacted. Yoongi lifted his foot and nudged the leg of the one without ketchup on his face. “Hey. Kid.”

The boy’s eyes slowly moved to Yoongi, but they still seemed to have trouble focusing. “Hello. Can I help you?”

“I brought you and your friend some napkins. Might want to wipe away that sauce before flies start to land.”

“Ah,” he said, not a confirmation or rejection. His leg lashed out suddenly and hit his companion in the shin with a solid smack. “Tae, you’re attracting flies.”

Tae, whoever he was, just blinked. “I don’t think I can move.”

Yoongi felt unease twist deep in his gut. “Do I need to ring an ambulance? How high are you?”

“High?” the other boy repeated slowly. “We’re not high, just tired. Sorry if we’re being a bother.”

“You were staring to worry us,” Yoongi said. “Thought we might have to roll you both out when we close the shop tonight.”

Tae reached for a napkin and begin to wipe at his face. Finally, his expression moved from blank into potent distaste. “Oh, gross, it’s all dried on me.”

“I mean, you’ve both been sat here for like an hour now, doing nothing but staring,” Yoongi said. He glanced back at the counter, but there were no new customers, and Jin was showing Namjoon how to do something with his hands. Their heads were bent together, and Namjoon’s eyes never once glanced down at their task, instead preferring Jin’s profile.

“An hour?” Tae repeated. He groaned. “I need to go home.”

“Me too,” his companion agreed, rubbing at his eyes with the sleeves of his blue cardigan. “My eyes hurt so bad that I can barely see past my nose.”

“When was the last time you slept?” Yoongi asked before he could think about it. It was half amusement and half concern that fuelled the question. He’d never seen lack of sleep do this to anyone before, but they looked like college kids, and Yoongi knew from experience that college could fuck up a perfectly respectable sleeping pattern like nobody’s business.

“What day is it?” Tae asked.

“Tuesday,” Yoongi said. More amusement than concern now.

“Tuesday?” The other boy echoed. “I don’t know then, three days maybe?”

“Three days? What the fuck makes you stay awake that long?”

“Exams,” Tae said.

“Procrastination,” the other boy said. He blinked up at Yoongi with his features all squashed up with confusion. “Are you sure its Tuesday?”

“Yes.”

“Ah, that’s no good,” he said with a sigh. “I guess we really do need to go sleep. Thanks for the napkins and the drinks.”

“You didn’t order anything,” Yoongi replied, looking down at the table pointedly. “You came in with fast food and then stared so hard that you made my colleague sweat.”

“Yoongi!” Jin called. “Can you come and help me with the sandwiches? Namjoon has cut his finger, so he’s gone to get the first aid box.”

Yoongi nodded and began to move away, but he was stopped by a hesitant, “Hey.”

He turned. “Yeah, kid?”

Tae rubbed his eyes again and looked about half of his actual age, whatever it was. “Thanks for not kicking us out. It's been a tough weekend.”

“Sure,” Yoongi replied. “Make sure you get more sleep from now on. Staying awake all night won’t help your grades when the only thing fueling you is blind panic.”

He was rewarded with an almost painfully adorable smile. “Next time I’ll remember to buy coffee. I hear it’s good for brain power.”

Yoongi felt a reluctant, answering smile begin to tug at his mouth.“Anything is better than nothing at this point. I doubt you guys could survive with any less brain power.” He departed with a lazy wave and sauntered back to the counter, where Jin was busy chopping lettuce. He sent Yoongi an apologetic glance.

“Sorry, but I want these done before the lunch rush arrive, and Namjoon got blood on some of the bread. Do you think you could start buttering what we have left? Just until some customers come to order.”

“Of course,” Yoongi said, because as much as he hated to do things, he hated to see Jin stressed more. Not that he would ever admit that. He wouldn’t admit he watched the two boys leave either, or that the Tae, still with ketchup on his cheek, was already looking when Yoongi’s eyes moved to the door. Yoongi looked back down to the bread before he let his smile escape. If Jin saw, he would never let Yoongi live it down.

-

Tae was back the next morning, much more awake, and much more obnoxious. He smiled at Yoongi, all boxy grin and shiny teeth. If Yoongi had slept for more than four hours, maybe it would have been easier to stomach, but as it was, looking at that smile felt like staring at the sun. It was uncomfortable and Yoongi’s retinas were burning.

“It’s too early for this,” he grunted. “What do you want?”

The smile faltered. “Ah- coffee?”

“You sure about that? Want to stand to the side while you decide?”

“Yoongi,” Jin chastised, maternal even at eight in the morning. He addressed the boy. “Ignore him, he didn’t sleep well and he’s grouchy on the best of days. What can we get you?”

“Coffee,” Tae said, only slightly more certain the second time.

“What kind?” Jin asked with the patience of a saint.

“Uh... something sweet?”

Yoongi sighed. “Get him a hot chocolate or we’ll be here all day.”

Tae pouted. “You work here, aren’t you here all day anyway?”

“Nice,” Yoongi said. “Another low blow like that and you’re getting an espresso and nothing else.”

“You were much nicer yesterday.”

“You were quieter.”

“I’ve barely said anything!”

“Your aura is loud.”

“Hey!”

“Hot chocolate coming up!” Jin said with a forced smile. He gave Yoongi a stank-eye. “Make the man a hot chocolate, Yoongi.” 

“With extra marshmallows,” Tae said smugly. “And sprinkles.”

Jin’s expression was fearsome enough that Yoongi managed to bite back his reply before moving to the machine and making the drink. “To stay or go?”

“To go.”

Yoongi put exactly three marshmallows on the hot chocolate, and way too many sprinkles. Like, an obscene amount. He passed over the atrocity of a drink. “Here. Enjoy.”

“Thanks,” Tae said. “I’m Taehyung, by the way.” 

“Okay,” Yoongi replied. “Enjoy your sprinkle juice, Ketchup-Face.”

Taehyung didn’t seem bothered, even as Jin’s face slowly reddened into mortification. “You’re Yoongi, right?”

“No.”

“Oh. Then what’s your name?”

“Why do you care?”

“Jungkook wanted to know so that he could apologise in person, but he chickened out, so I came instead.”

“There’s no need to apologise,” Yoongi replied. Jungkook must have been the one with the blue cardigan and the exhaustion and the sweet face. “Tell your friend that.”

“Okay,” Taehyung agreed. “But hey, you might want to crack a smile for customers, you know, Yoongi-hyung? No wonder the shop is empty. If I wasn’t doing this for Jungkook, you might have scared me off.”

Jin choked on air and made an awful attempt to hide his laughter.

Yoongi, on the other hand, was considering how many marshmallows it would take to choke a man. A tall man with a boxy smile, who shouldn’t be enjoying that shitty hot chocolate, but seemed to appreciate the first sip anyway. 

“Ah I have to go. See you around, and I’ll make sure to bring Jungkook next time!”

“If you come back I’ll kill you,” Yoongi said.

“Until then!” Taehyung replied, uncaring of the imminent danger. “I don’t get what Jungkook was whining about though; you’re not cute at all.”

He left before Yoongi could register the words. Beside him, air escaped from Jin’s lungs in laughter that sounded like a chorus of deflating balloons.

“If you say anything,” Yoongi warned softly, “You’ll regret it.” 

-

Back at the apartment, Hoseok was looking smug as soon as Yoongi walked through the door. “Hey.”

“Hey,” Yoongi replied suspiciously. “What’s going on?”

“Can I not greet my oldest and most precious friend with a nice, polite hello?”

“Okay, you’re freaking me out,” Yoongi said, toeing off his sneakers. “What’s happened?”

“Jin-hyung text me that a handsome young man caught your eye this morning,” Hoseok said, wiggling his brows suggestively. He was sprawled across the sofa, still in the sweats he wore while he was instructing at the dance studio, so he probably hadn’t been home long. That meant he wouldn’t need to stretch, so if he gave chase then Yoongi would have no chance of catching him. It was the only factor that prevented Yoongi from throwing his shoe and starting a fight. His head felt like it might crack open from the force of his pulsing headache.

“Hoseok,” he said, “I found him annoying. That’s it.”

Hoseok examined Yoongi’s face carefully, and after a few seconds of soul searching, his crafty expression fell. “Boo, that’s no fun. I wanted romance.”

“Then go find your boyfriend and exchange romantic blowjobs somewhere I won’t see or hear them for once.”

Hoseok cackled. “If you were getting laid you wouldn’t be so bothered by my extremely active sex life.”

Yoongi didn’t bother replying to that. Instead, he flopped down next to Hoseok, who was still warm and smelling vaguely of sweat. Not in a bad way, just in a... Hoseok way. He smelt like raw energy. Without Yoongi asking, Hoseok slid one hand into the fall of Yoongi’s bleached hair and began gently massaging his scalp.

Yoongi sighed and sank lower, closing his eyes. “Thanks.”

Hoseok just hummed. “Bad day?”

“Work was fine.”

“That’s not what I asked.”

It wasn’t a question Yoongi wanted to answer, but he knew that he was meant to, so an attempt was made. “I didn’t sleep much. Couldn’t. It meant that little things got to me more than they should have.” 

Hoseok hummed again. “Want pizza for dinner?”

“I thought you were on some weird dancer diet again?” Yoongi asked, but what he really wanted to say was, ‘I would give a minimum of three organs in exchange for pizza right now.’

“Pizza and friendship is more important than salad,” Hoseok said sagely. “We’ll get pizza. But first, I want you to tell me three good things about yourself.”

Yoongi opened his eyes. “Hos-“

“Three things or I’m putting pineapple on the pizza.”

That was no hollow threat, Yoongi knew. Hoseok was too good at being a supportive friend, and sometimes it felt like he was in cahoots with Yoongi’s therapist or something.  But nothing was worse than pineapple on pizza, so he gave the order some serious consideration before answering.

“I’m good at rapping.”

Hoseok nodded. “You’re amazing. What else?”

“My hair looks really nice. The white suits me.”

“Superficial, but I’ll allow it. One more, and make it about your personality.”

He sighed and closed his eyes again. “I don’t like talking about it, but I have the best of friends. Sometimes I surprise myself by how far I know I would go to make sure that they’re happy and safe.”

Hoseok’s fingers in his hair were almost as soothing as his voice when he replied, “And they feel the same way about you, because you deserve it. You want garlic bread?”

Yoongi laughed past the lump in his throat. “What kind of shitty question is that? Who would say no to garlic bread?”

-

“It just occurred to me that you told us off for not sleeping, but then yesterday you were acting like an angry bull because you didn’t sleep enough,” Taehyung said, sticking his fingers in his second hot chocolate to fish out a marshmallow. “That’s hypocrisy.”

“And that’s revolting,” Yoongi replied, pointing to Taehyung’s sticky chocolate fingers. “Seriously. Get a napkin or go and wash your hands. That’s gross.”

“So is your face.”

“Mature. How old are you, twelve?”

Taehyung grinned. “I’m much too tall to be twelve. You, however-“

“Don’t,” Namjoon warned as he passed by. “Just don’t. Please.”

Taehyung stuck his finger in his mouth and began to lick off the chocolate. At his shoulder, Jungkook looked caught between mortification and the void. His own hot chocolate was untouched in his hand as he stared at his friend.

“Go and sit down or leave,” Yoongi said once he realised that there would be no immediate response.

Taehyung smiled again. “Sure, Yoongi-hyung. You look much better today. Did you get more sleep?”

He’d slept surprisingly well, considering the amount of pizza he’d consumed the previous night was enough to feed a small village. How Hoseok was dancing today, teaching energetic small children, Yoongi would never understand. It felt like there was a boulder of dough in his stomach. But yeah, he’d slept well, and he felt pretty good. “Yes. Is your sleeping pattern back to normal?”

“Well... it was never that great in the first place,” Taehyung admitted. “But I got seven hours last night, which is good.”

“I’m very proud,” Yoongi deadpanned. “Now go and sit down.”

Taehyung grinned. “Do you like my hair today?”

His bangs were somewhere behind a black bandana, which, paired with the leather jacket, made him unfairly attractive. “Do you have a big forehead or something?”

The smile fell into a scowl immediately. “Yes, but you can’t tell that from just looking! Can you?”

He couldn’t help the snigger. “No, I’m just being mean. It looks nice.”

“Nice?”

“Yeah.”

“Awesome. Well, you look pretty hot today.”

“I know,” he said without thinking. Taehyung looked surprised, but Yoongi knew that it was nothing compared to Namjoon’s shock. He didn’t even have to look. He could practically hear his own words rattling in Namjoon’s brain as he tried to pair them with Yoongi. But what could he say? Taehyung was cute and Yoongi felt weirdly good. It must have been because of the pizza afterglow.

You know? I wasn’t expecting you to say that.”

“What were you expecting?”

“I don’t know, maybe a stuttered denial. You look down, almost afraid of the intensity of your emotions, but you can’t keep your eyes from me for long. Slowly, you look back up through your eyelashes, and our gazes meet, and-“

“This sounds like the beginning of a terrible porno,” Yoongi said. “You don’t know me at all.”

“I know that you make really bad hot chocolate,” Taehyung said, grinning again. Yoongi’s goddamn retinas were suffering again, and so was his dignity as he fought down a stupid blush. “But hopefully if I buy enough of them I’ll start to enjoy them more.”

“Not if I can help it,” Yoongi found himself replying. Talking to Taehyung was like an out of body experience. Where was Min Yoongi? Who was this in his place?

“No? Then I guess I’ll keep coming back to see,” Taehyung said. “Later, Yoongi-hyung.”

He and Jungkook left to go and find a table. After a few heavy seconds of silence, Namjoon said, “I’m going to ignore that until you bring it up. Which, if it’s never, is totally fine with me. This never happened until you explicitly tell me it has.”

Yoongi patted his shoulder. “I’ve always known you were the smart one.”

-

“Are you at college?”

“No, I graduated a couple of years ago.”

“Cool! What was your major?”

“Music. What are you studying?”

“I’m studying music too! But I also love art and dance, so I’m not sure what to go with yet.”

“Go with whatever feels right.”

“Yeah, maybe. Ah, Yoongi-hyung, this hot chocolate tastes even worse than normal. What did you do to it?”

“I put mayonnaise in it.”

“Are... are you joking?”

“I don’t remember.”

Taehyung’s laughter was as ridiculous as his ridiculous smile and Yoongi was not charmed. Especially not when Taehyung drank the hot chocolate without finding out if it really did contain mayonnaise. 

(It didn’t contain mayonnaise, but the next one did, and Taehyung drank that one too, smiling all the while.)

-

“So things are getting pretty serious,” Taehyung was saying to Jin. “Yoongi-hyung has made me fifteen hot chocolates in the past three weeks. We’re practically engaged now, right? I swear fifteen hot chocolates was the only requirement for marriage.”

“Where’s the ring? Yoongi won’t marry you if you don’t get him a ring.”

“I won’t marry him anyway, and the fact that I needed to say that out loud makes me upset.” Yoongi didn’t look up from where he was fiddling with the cash machine. Something was broken, but he didn’t know what.

“Aw,” Jin crooned. “Look at you, talking about your emotions. So grown up.”

“How’s Namjoon? Are you a fan of his new undercut?”

Really, it was too easy to make Jin choke on his own breath.

Taehyung giggled. “You like Namjoon-hyung, Jin-hyung?”

“He’s a good person,” Jin replied, still clearing his throat.

Yoongi grinned into the cash machine. “And scary intelligent. Sweet, but not a pushover. You know he can take charge. Clumsy and terrible at cooking, but that just means that he needs a firm hand to guide him, right? And that deep voice, the way he raps, the way he speaks English so fluently-“

“Shut up, Yoongi,” Jin hissed, leaning over to smack the back of his head.

“- the way he so clearly reciprocates my feelings but we’re both too dense to make the first move.” Yoongi sat up and gave a glowing smile. “There. I’m all finished.”

“With the register or destroying our friendship?”

“I’ll let you hazard a guess.”

Taehyung laughed softly. “I have to get to class, but thanks for the hot chocolate as normal, Yoongi-hyung. Jin-hyung, I hope you find your courage soon. See you!”

They both watched him leave.

“He only comes in on your days at work, you know,” Jin said. “I’ve never seen him here while it was just me or Namjoon. He must have asked someone for the rota to see when you’d be on shift.”

“That’s kind of weird.”

“He likes you,” Jin said simply. “But you can be unapproachable, so he’s probably worried about coming on too strong all at once.”

“That doesn’t sound like what I know of Taehyung,” Yoongi said doubtfully.

“Hmm? And what is it that you know about Taehyung?”

“His name is Kim Taehyung, he’s twenty one years old. His parents have a dog that he misses almost as much as the kids in the family, but not quite. He studies music, but he loves making art. Jungkook is helping him to improve. He knows that the hot chocolates I make are deliberately terrible, but he drinks them anyway. He doesn't know the meaning of subtle.”

“You know what, Yoongi?”

“What?”

“You sound exactly like you just criticised me for being about Namjoon.”

“Oh.”

“Yep.” Jin patted his shoulder reassuringly. “I can see the freak-out approaching from within you Yoongi, and I want to tell you in advance to cut it out.”

“I’m not freaking out,” he said, most definitely freaking out. Kim Taehyung was a big, bubbly, beautiful person with a smile that still left Yoongi’s eyes burning and his pulse thudding in his throat. He drank Yoongi’s shit hot chocolates and spent too many hours gaming with Jungkook instead of studying. He knew Jimin, Hoseok’s chirpy, sweet boyfriend, which made far too much sense. His favourite painting was Starry Night, and he loved Gucci. He was far too happy to tell his local barista the intimate details of his life, and Yoongi was an idiot.

Jin must have seen the exact moment that Yoongi’s mood fell. He sucked his lower lip into his mouth. “Oops. I should have left you to figure out your feelings on your own.”

“I don’t have any feelings for Taehyung,” he said easily, picking up a wet rag to wipe the counter. “He’s a good kid, and we get on well.”

“Yoongi,” Jin said softly. “Don’t freeze him out now. Please don’t, I’m sorry for saying anything.”

How could he express his feelings? Hoseok wasn’t there to nudge him along, and he couldn’t find the words on his own, not yet. I’ve known Taehyung for less than a month, and I can already say with certainty that he’s too good for me.

He looked down to where he was rubbing the cloth into the same part of the counter, and he was gripping the cloth so tightly that his knuckles were red. I overthink everything and I know I’m overthinking this. But it doesn’t make it easier to breathe when I think about the cold back of someone as they walk away from me. I see Taehyung leave the coffee shop almost every day, but it would feel different if there was no reassurance of his return.

It all narrowed down to something much simpler.

I want him to keep coming back.

-

He tried to act normal, he really did. Taehyung kept coming in, and Yoongi kept finding new and creative ways to make each hot chocolate repulsive in its own, individual way. Those boxy smiles kept flashing, but they flashed at everyone, so Yoongi tried not to get ahead of himself. You're not special. 

He went home on the nights, opened his laptop, worked on his music, wrote lyrics. Hung out with Hoseok, sometimes Jimin, sometimes Jin and Namjoon.

Bad days came, like they always do, but Taehyung never once stopped smiling, not even when Yoongi spilled a full hot chocolate because his hands were shaking so badly and his brain felt like weak cotton.

Gently, Taehyung said, “I’m not that thirsty today, hyung. Can I have a brownie instead?”

Jungkook popped his head around Taehyung’s shoulder. “Can I have one too please?”

“Sure,” Yoongi said, staring down at the mess. He ventured into the back to get two slices of brownie, and when he came back, both boys were behind the counter, mopping the spill with easy movements. Taehyung’s smile was as bright as it ever was. No pity, no confusion, no discomfort. Just Taehyung.

“I’m actually sort of pleased,” he said. “At least there’s no chance of mayonnaise in the brownies, right? Jin-hyung would never do that to us.”

“What are you saying about me?” Yoongi asked, only half paying attention. He wasn't embarrassed, just tired. Exhausted, even. “Move out of the way, idiots. Don’t do my job for me.”

They complied easily, but most of the spill had already been cleared up.  “I’m just saying that you have a very specific sense of humour, Yoongi-hyung,” Taehyung said, passing Jungkook one of the brownies. “But I’ll be back for another hot chocolate tomorrow.”

“Masochist.”

His box grin widened. “I guess so, but that’s just how I am. Besides, the taste doesn’t matter that much to me when the sight is so good.”    

It was still a bad day, but Taehyung was like sunshine peeking through the clouds.

-

“You’re so short.”

Yoongi raised a brow at the man speaking. Another college student that thought this shit was appropriate with a barista that was working at eleven at night. Like Yoongi didn’t already want to leave. “Really? I don’t think we have that on the menu. You’ll have to try somewhere else.”

“That’s a mean face for such a short guy.”

Usually Jin was the one that handled this with polite coldness, but he was in the back making bread for the next day. Taehyung and Jimin, both studying, watched curiously from a nearby table.

“That’s an ugly attitude for a guy that wants me to make him a drink. What would you like?” 

“A cappuccino.” 

Yoongi nodded and set to work. He didn’t make it a shit one, because he didn’t want the trouble, and Jin would shout at him. “There you go.”

“Thanks. Hey, what time do you finish work?”

“Late.”

“Maybe we could-“

“No. I don’t think so.”

“You haven’t even heard what I was going to suggest.”

His patience was wearing thin, and he could tell by Jimin’s face that his mood was reflected in his expression. Jimin always found Yoongi’s anger a source of humour. “I don’t want to hear it. Enjoy your drink.” And fuck off.

“But-“

“Enjoy your drink.”

The guy picked up his cappuccino, looking vaguely lost, and left. Once the door closed, Jimin dissolved into giggles. Taehyung just looked confused.

“Yoongi-hyung, I haven’t heard you sound so annoyed in months! You really didn’t like that guy, huh?”

“I don’t like it when people pester me and I’m at work. It means I can’t tell them the truth.” Taehyung’s expression fell, and he looked down at his notes. Yoongi told himself it wasn’t guilt and endearment that fueled his words when he said, “Apart from you guys, anyway.” Taehyung looked back up, and Yoongi attempted a uneasy smile. Reassurance wasn't a strong point of his. “I guess you’re the exception.”  

The boxy smile slid back into place. “Yoongi-hyung, can I have a refill?”

“Sure. Another hot chocolate, coming up.”

“Less cinnamon this time?”

“Extra salt? You got it.”

-

Hoseok passed Yoongi a beer. “When are you going to admit you like him?”  

“When are you going to stop asking me?”

“I just want you to be happy.”

It was understandable. To Hoseok’s left, Jimin was curled up, asleep less than twenty minutes into the film he had picked for them to watch. His face was squashed into Hoseok’s neck, and his sleeping expression was so goddamn tender that watching them made Yoongi’s chest ache. But he knew himself, and he knew the truth.

“I don’t need anyone to make me happy, I have myself for that.”

Hoseok shrugged. “You think I don’t know that? I would never try and make you pin your happiness on someone else, but that’s not what relationships are about. Why be happy alone when you could be even happier with Taehyung? He’s a great guy.”

“He’s big and clumsy and messy.”

“And you’re small and angry, but he likes you enough to spend all of his money on hot chocolate anyway. Grow some balls.”

“You’re just saying this because you know I wouldn’t wake up Jimin just to hit you.”

“Of course. Why else would I be this brave?”

“He’s not gonna be sleeping on you forever,” Yoongi warned.

“And you’re not gonna be alone forever,” Hoseok replied. “So stop thinking you should be. There’s nothing wrong with you.”

Yoongi sighed. “I just-“ He paused. “I don’t know how much I can offer right now, as I am.” 

Hoseok heard all of his unspoken thoughts and groaned softly. “Taehyung talks about you all of the time, and then Jimin comes and tells me about it. He likes you Yoongi, not your potential, so stop setting goals for yourself that you’re worried you won’t achieve. He likes you as you are, not how you could be in five years if your music really takes off and you’re world famous.”

“Stop telling me what I need to hear,” Yoongi grumbled into his beer. He turned back to the television and ignored Hoseok’s probing stare for the rest of the film.

-

A couple of nights later, when his phone began blaring, Yoongi didn’t bother to check the time before answering with a muffled hello. 

“Yoongi-hyung?”

The voice was familiar. Deep and soft. “Taehyung? How the fuck did you get my number?”

“Jin-hyung gave it to me yesterday.” There was a pause, and Yoongi tried to shake off sleep. “You weren’t working, but I knew it was your shift.”

“Someone else was ill, so I traded and did the evening shift instead,” Yoongi said. “How do you know when I work?”

“Jin-hyung told me weeks ago.”

Of course. “Well, I’m fine. There’s no need to worry.”

“I’m not worried; I’m just a little drunk. I wanted to see you.”

Ah. “Make sure you drink lots of water when you get home then, won’t you?”

“Yoongi-hyung, do you think I’m attractive?”

If Yoongi was struggling before, he was certainly awake now. “What?”

“Three weeks is longer than it would usually take; I feel like I’m losing my game,” Taehyung admitted in a dramatic whisper. “I really like you, but I really hate your hot chocolate.”

“You barely know anything about me,” Yoongi murmured, almost consoling Taehyung. Definitely consoling himself.

“What I do know I like,” Taehyung insisted. “You have great hands. You rap, but you won’t show me any of your music. You’re the perfect size, and when you get frustrated your nose crinkles, and when you get genuinely angry your face goes pale and you look really cocky, and it’s so hot. You like dogs, you play piano, and you really love Kanye West. You’ve collaborated with Namjoon and Hoseok but they won’t let me listen to the music either, because they’re kind of scared of you and that’s hot too. Your hair is hot and your face is hot and your ass in those work trousers is especially hot. I want to see what else about you is hot.”

“So you just want to see me naked?”

“No, I want to see your hot personality.” Another pause. “But I wouldn’t complain if you sent me a sexy picture. My taxi is late and this party is boring.”

Soft in a way he truly wished he wasn’t, Yoongi hung up and turned on his front camera, sending a low lit picture of his face all scrunched and muddled from messy hair and the dregs of sleep.

Less than a minute later, Taehyung rang again. “That wasn’t really what I asked for, but I like it even more. Yoongi-hyung, will you go on a date with me? I’m starting to get worried that one of your hot chocolates will actually make me ill.”

Fear made his stomach harden, and his breath shook when he released it in a long sigh. “Taehyung, I don’t think you-“

“I know I’m younger,” Taehyung cut in, voice suddenly urgent. “And I’m good-looking, but I’m kind of uncool. But I swear if you go on a date with me I’ll wear a tie, and I’ll try so hard not to spill any food or anything.”

“What?” Yoongi asked, mystified enough to halt his panic. While Yoongi had been worrying about his image, his own failings, had Taehyung really been thinking the same of himself?

“I’m not as cool as you,” Taehyung said.  “But I’ll try to make it up to you.”

Someone screamed in the background, and Yoongi laughed, momentarily distracted. “Was that Jungkook?”  

Muffled voices, and Taehyung’s low drawl moved away from the phone to speak to the screamer. “Ah, sorry hyung, yeah. G-Dragon came on the playlist.”

“Yoongi-Hyung!”

There were more noise, curses, and suddenly Jungkook had the phone.

“Hey Jungkook, you doing okay?”

“Kind of, but Tae and I really want to leave. Things are getting too wild for us, you know? But our taxi still hasn’t arrived, and we’re both too drunk for public transport right now.”

“Is this you fishing for a lift?”

“Only if you have a car,” Jungkook replied. “Because a car would be needed.”

“I’m insured on Hoseok’s, I’ll come and get you both if you give me the address,” Yoongi said, sitting up and turning on his light. Thanks to the shift switch, he had the following day off, so he could travel the city in the early hours without repercussions. Jungkook rattled off the address, and then Yoongi asked, “Where did Taehyung go?”

“I’m sat on him.”

That made about as much sense as anything else they did, so Yoongi didn’t question it. “Alright, I’ll see you in about twenty minutes.”

-

They were both sat on the curb of a trashed house when he turned up about twenty five minutes later. Jungkook was asleep on Taehyung’s shoulder, so Yoongi parked up and got out to help Taehyung wrestle Jungkook into the car. Taehyung said something, but the thudding bass from the music in the house drowned out his words. Yoongi focused his attention on attempting to control Jungkook’s long, useless limbs.

He was pink and lightly sweating by the time Jungkook was settled across the back seat of the car, and Taehyung was bent over, panting. “He’s heavier than he looks. It’s easy to forget he’s a gym freak when he eats the same junk food as me.”

“You look amazing,” Yoongi said before he could stop himself. Taehyung was wearing tight jeans and a billowy white shirt with another of his many bandanas, and a single, long earring. He looked beyond amazing. Yoongi was fucking thirsty. 

Taehyung blinked, before a tiny, sincere smile graced his mouth. Yoongi wanted to kiss him. “Thank you. I think you do too.”  

He was in sweats and two jumpers, his shoe laces were barely tied, and the only way he could have controlled his hair in such a short amount of time was to squash it under a backwards snapback. In other words, he looked the opposite of good. “Thanks. Get in the car.”

“Taehyung!” Someone shouted from the house. “An- oh? Yoongi-hyung?”  

“Hey Jimin,” Yoongi called. “You want a lift?”

“No thanks, I’m going to stay a bit longer, but I’ll see you tomorrow night, okay?”

The gig. Shit, Yoongi had forgotten that Jimin would be going. “Sure, see you then.” He climbed into the car and started the engine. “So where to?”    

“Jungkook and I live in the same apartment, so you only have one stop. It’s not too far,” Taehyung said, and then began pointing Yoongi in the right direction. He didn’t give the address, just kept saying left or right, straight ahead or third exit, and every time Yoongi slowed for a junction Taehyung would rest his big hand on Yoongi’s leg and lean forward to examine where they were before pointing the right way. Yoongi’s pulse thudded a dull, skittish rhythm the entire way to the building, because Taehyung was still smiling, and he smelt like strawberry daiquiri, and he wanted to go on a date with Yoongi. He thought Yoongi was cool, and attractive. He’d seen Yoongi on some of his bad days, and he still smiled like all he wanted to do was hold Yoongi’s hand. It was pure in a way few things were, and it was reciprocal.

They arrived in silence, and Yoongi took the task of waking Jungkook while Taehyung searched his many pockets for his keys and went to unlock the front door.

“Oi, kid. We’re home.” Yoongi punctuated his words with a gentle shake. “Jungkook, come on. You’re too heavy to carry."

Jungkook grumbled but slowly his eyes opened and he focused on Yoongi. He smiled. “Hey, I get it now.”

“Get what?”

“Why Taehyung drinks those horrible hot chocolates and wastes his money just to see you every week.”

Yoongi swallowed. “Yeah, well I don’t get it. Come on, let’s get inside.”

“You should think more of yourself.”

“You should shut up.”

“He likes you a lot,” Junkook said, climbing out of the car. He slung one arm over Yoongi’s shoulders and used him as a prop. “Min Yoongi this, Min Yoongi that. He really wants to hear you rap, you know. Taehyung loves rap.”

“He wants me for my fame,” Yoongi murmured with amusement. Sure, the Agust D persona was pretty popular, but he’d never given Taehyung the name.

“He wants you for you,” Jungkook said, trying valiantly not to trip over his own feet. “You’re a nice guy, and you’re funny. Go on a date with him.”

“Don’t tell your elders what to do,” Yongi warned as they made it into the apartment. Taehyung was in the tiny kitchen and a kettle was boiling.

“Tea is a good idea to sober you both up,” Yoongi called.

“Oh, really? I was boiling water because Kook likes to sleep with a hot water bottle.”

“That’s... stupid but surprisingly sweet,” Yoongi admitted. “I’ll get him to the bed.”

And so he found himself tucking Jungkook into bed, after removing his boots and his coat. Jungkook looked much younger than Taehyung, and with his eyes closed, features relaxed, Yoongi almost felt maternal. He was a weird kid with too much energy and way too many facial expressions, but he was a good person. Clever and talented and kind. Just like Taehyung, but a younger version, and slightly less obnoxious.

Taehyung bustled in with a hot water bottle and a tall glass of water. His hair was mused and his bandana was slipping down his forehead, but he looked more sober than he had sounded on the phone. He stroked the hair from Jungkook’s forehead with long established familiarity.

Yoongi then found himself alone in the kitchen with a cup of tea and Taehyung, who was pink in the face and picking at the skin around his nails.

“Thanks for coming to get us. I wasn’t going to ask, but Jungkook took the phone before I could stop him.”

“I remember,” Yoongi said, enjoying the way Taehyung bore his teeth, not exactly in a smile, but something like embarrassment. “I wouldn’t have come if I minded.”

“I’ve ruined your sleep,” Taehyung mourned. “You’ll be grouchy tomorrow.” How he could be so concerned and so annoying at the same time, Yoongi would never understand. But that was fine, because he kind of enjoyed the fresh surprise of it each time Taehyung spoke.

“I have the day off.”

“That’s good. What are you going to do with your time?”

“Rehearse, I guess. Work on my songs a little before the show.”

“The show?”

Yoongi gathered his courage and drank his tea. “Yeah. I’m performing tomorrow night. I figured you could come along and we could maybe go for a meal afterwards.”

Taehyung’s eyes widened. “Are you sure?”

Yoongi hid his soft laughter behind the sleeve of his jumper. “Yeah, I am. I’ll pay, okay? To make up for the money you’ve wasted on shitty hot chocolate.”

The sun came out from behind the clouds again, as Taehyung smiled wide enough to bathe Yoongi in gentle light. No more burning, just warmth. “Can I tell you a secret? I don’t like hot chocolate anyway. I wanted to order a mocha the first time, but I forgot the name because you were so growly and attractive that all I could think about was your mouth.”

He didn’t hide his laughter this time, or miss the way Taehyung’s eyes trailed down his face to fix on his smile. “You’re such a weird guy, Tae.”

“Jin-hyung said that when I told him I want to date you.”

“It’s true.”

Taehyung slid his fingers over Yoongi’s hand that rested on the table. When Yoongi didn’t object, he kept it there, a solid warmth. “I think I’m pretty smart, actually.”

“We met because you’d kept yourself awake for three days straight and you had dried ketchup smeared on your face.”

“But I did get to meet you,” he said, too earnestly for Yoongi to do anything but cringe and blush.

“You couldn’t have known that.”

“Actually,” Taehyung said, in such a way that Yoongi already knew there would be kneecaps to break by the end of the sentence, “Jimin talks about you all the time. I think he’s been trying to set us up, but you’re too slippery.”

“Slippery,” Yoongi repeated.

“Like a fish.”

“You want to date a fish?”

“I want to date you; anything else would kind of suck in comparison.”

“I’m not that great,” Yoongi said uncomfortably. To soften the blow he turned over his hand and linked their fingers together. It was nearly dawn and the tea was getting cold, but Taehyung looked so damned happy.

“Maybe you don’t think so, but I’m more than willing to be your hype-man,” Taehyung said. “I’ll be there tomorrow with a sign and a foam finger. I’ll pull out all the stops.”

“And I’ll have a napkin on hand to clean the food off your face when we eat,” Yoongi replied. He was nervous, but Taehyung knew just what to say to settle Yoongi’s stomach and make the fear worth the payoff of each smile.

“It’s a date then,” Taehyung said happily. “Hey, it’s really late. Do you wanna stay over? I have a big bed, and you can borrow some pyjamas.”

The sun was rising outside of the tiny apartment, but within it was already too bright for Yoongi. Closing his eyes and resting sounded like bliss, especially if it was next to Taehyung.

“Yeah. Yeah, I wanna stay.”