Weddings, Jeongguk will learn, are the exact opposite of an expensive bottle of wine. Wine gets better with age, the taste becoming fuller and more delicious the longer the bottle stays unopened. Weddings, however, are really only fun during the first few attended, when everyone is still young enough to enjoy dancing into the late hours of the night, or to drink with no fear of what the morning will bring, or when you’re not one of the last in your group of friends to not be married.
Because when game night starts to feel a lot more like a date night that he’s crashing, Jeongguk starts to resent weddings. At least he gets free drinks out of them.
The weddings start while Jeongguk is still in college, surviving on instant ramen and staying up more nights than days to finish his projects on time. His brother’s engagement comes just after the start of his first semester, when Jeongguk is about ready to give up on his calculus homework and eat an entire tub of ice cream instead, but the actual wedding date doesn’t come around until after the midterm week of his second semester.
Jeongguk can admit that the wedding is absolutely gorgeous, even if he feels that he’s three seconds from falling asleep during the ceremony. It’s not his fault, truly. His mom had insisted he take the first train back to Busan after his last midterm, and his girlfriend- sitting on the groom’s side after it had turned out she wouldn’t walk down the aisle with Jeongguk, as the bride’s sister did instead- had talked his ear off during the entire train ride. Then came the rehearsal dinner and the walkthrough, and the bachelor party that turned into a late night trip to McDonald’s, and a very long conversation with Jeonghyun about his nerves which all led to Jeongguk getting a grand total of five hours of sleep in the three days leading up to the wedding.
Their parents hadn’t spared a dime when it came to planning the wedding, held in a beautiful chapel near their home with a hotel reception to follow. Jeongguk’s old suit from prom hadn’t fit anymore, but they’d managed to salvage one of his dad’s suits. Jeonghyun looks so happy, as his soon to be wife walks to him, but Jeongguk has to admit that he’s bored . Everyone knows the fun at weddings comes at the reception.
So he busies himself with people watching, making up stories about the guests. He recognizes family members that he hasn’t seen in years, and keeps himself from grimacing at the thought of the questions they’ll ask. If he’s eating well, how his studies are going, whether he and Jiyeon plan to marry anytime soon. Jeongguk barely manages to catch his look of disgust, knowing perfectly well that his parents would kill him if his sour expression ended up among the professional photographs. Instead, Jeongguk glances at Jiyeon, who waves shyly, and promptly does a double take at the boy sitting behind her.
He can’t be much older than Jeongguk himself, dark brown hair falling in messy waves against his forehead. His suit is neatly pressed, accentuating his broad shoulders and strong chest, and Jeongguk can’t help but feel self-conscious knowing he’s standing with the wedding party in a poorly fitted suit. The boy sits reclined, completely at ease and smiling softly at the vows taking place to Jeongguk’s right, the delicate curve of his features has Jeongguk’s knees feeling weak, his heart doing some weird version of a dance as he stares, unabashedly, at the beautiful boy sitting on the groom’s side.
The girl sitting at his side whispers something to his ear, and the boy drapes his arm over her shoulders, rubbing warmth back into her bare arms. Jeongguk briefly wonders, through the unexpected jolt of pain that hits his chest as he watches, how she can survive the intensity of that boy’s stare. What he wouldn’t do to be on the receiving end of such a strong look in his eyes, to be the one on the receiving end of the kiss the boy presses just behind her ear-
He catches Jeongguk staring.
As he turns back to watch the end of the vows, the boy catches Jeongguk staring and winks, an easy smile spreading along his lips. Jeongguk startles, cheeks heating excruciatingly hot with embarrassment, and he belatedly notices that Jiyeon giggles a little at his reaction. She must have blown a kiss, or something.
With fire red cheeks, Jeongguk resolutely Does Not look back at the audience for the remainder of the ceremony, focusing instead on the way his brother’s hands shake when he places the ring on his wife’s finger. When they kiss, everyone erupts into cheers, and Jeongguk sees his mother wipe away her tears with a small tissue.
He’s second to follow his brother out of the church, offering his arm to the cousin he’d walked in with and still not glancing in the other boy’s direction. He only hopes it’s an open bar and that his parents won’t mind if he gets tanked before the night ends.
Just as predicted, Jeongguk barely gets through dinner before the onslaught of questions from his relatives begins. Jeonghyun is too wrapped up in feeding his wife strawberries that he can’t save Jeongguk, and Jiyeon is only trying to be polite in not ignoring any of their questions.
“School, Jeongguk? How’s school? Are you still studying in Seoul?” His grandmother keeps eyeing the bottle of beer at Jeongguk’s place, and he bites back the comment about how he’s of age, and how she’d know if she ever visited.
“I am,” Jeongguk says around a sigh. He really wasn’t getting out of this. “Graphic design, remember?”
“And what do you want to do with it?”
Jiyeon, sitting between Jeongguk and his grandmother, handles this one. “He wants to make video games! It’s how we met, actually. He was in the common room trying to draw an entire map from the game someone else was playing, and when I saw him there after my lectures I brought him something to eat.”
“Video games?” His grandmother asks, turning her nose up, slightly. Jeongguk can’t help but roll his eyes, taking a long drink of his beer. “Are you sure that’s a good idea, Jeongguk-ah?”
“Jeongguk oppa is really good at designing, ma’am. He has the highest marks in his class.”
“Jiyeon, please.” Jeongguk murmurs, squeezing her thigh, lightly. There really was no point in trying to change his grandmother’s mind.
“Jeongguk!” That’s an aunt, Jeongguk thinks. “How long have you and Jiyeon been together? Any wedding bells in the near future?”
“It’s only been a few months,” Jeongguk says. His dinner no longer looks appealing, and sometime since the start of these questions Jeonghyun and his wife left for their first dance. His beer is empty and he can see more aunts descending on the table, and he panics. “Baby, want to dance?”
In her heels, Jiyeon barely reaches Jeongguk’s chin, and judging from the thumbs up that his mother sends his way, she thinks it’s absolutely adorable. They join the dance floor in the middle of the second dance, Jeongguk’s hand on the small of her back and the other wrapped around hers. The band is good, his brother is exceptionally happy, and the cake is at least six tiers, but Jiyeon isn’t much of a dancer, and as the songs blur together she steps on his toe too many times for Jeongguk to count.
“Sorry,” she says every time, grimacing.
“It’s okay.” Jeongguk always responds, tracing his thumb against her jawline. “It’s cute.”
“Thanks for bringing me along, Jeongguk. Your family is lovely.”
“My immediate family is,” he corrects with a grin. He could never hate his extended family - he doesn’t see them nearly enough for that - he just hates the pressure of living up to their expectations. “I think my mom really likes you.”
“Oh, thank goodness. I was terrified of her.”
“Of my mom?” Jeongguk can’t help but laugh loudly at that. They’ve graduated to swaying in the same spot on the dance floor, Jiyeon clasping her hands at the back of his neck. His mom was sitting in Jeonghyun’s abandoned seat, laughing at whatever her sisters were saying, a slight pink settled high on her cheeks. She was tiny, smaller than Jeongguk before he’d finished high school, and had rarely raised her voice at him. “You were scared of her?”
Jiyeon nods, hitting him lightly on the chest when he laughs again. “I still am, you jerk. She made you, she has to be pretty incredible.”
Jeongguk scrunches his nose. “Gay.”
“Literally the most hetero thing ever, but sure.” At the final note of the song, Jiyeon whines quietly. “My feet are killing me, I need a break.”
“You could hang with my mom.”
“You’re not funny, Jeongguk.” She stands on her toes to press a lingering kiss to the corner of his mouth before taking her heels in hand and heading off in the direction of the bathroom.
Jeongguk contemplates going back to the appetizer buffet for more food but he knows a distant relative with make a snide comment about either his weight or a diet, so he turns on his heel before they can notice he’s alone in the middle of the dance floor. He could ask to cut in with Jeonghyun and his wife, do the proper best man thing and get a dance with her, or bring his mom back out here for a dance, but as another song starts up, Jeongguk catches sight of him again.
Truthfully, Jeongguk had begun to think the beautiful boy had left after the ceremony. He hadn’t been able to spot the stranger from his seat at the front table, and the dance floor was crowded enough that he hadn’t seen more than Jiyeon and his direct peripherals, but the boy is there on the other side of the dance floor, swinging his girl around a little too fast for the beat of the song.
He doesn’t know what it is, Jeongguk could not put a name to it if he were prompted, doesn’t know what it is that has him crossing that dance floor. The first thing he hears as he approaches the boy is loud, raucous laughter that echoes in Jeongguk’s ears, both from the girl and the boy as they ignore the odd looks the other guests are giving them.
They don’t notice Jeongguk as he closes in on them, startling a little when Jeongguk taps the boy on the shoulder. And he blanks, staring with wide eyes as the couple stares back expectantly.
“C-can I- uh. Can I cut in?” Jeongguk finally manages, looking at his shoes.
“Oh, sure man.” The boy’s deep voice sends shivers down Jeongguk’s spine as he steps back, leaving more than enough room for Jeongguk to dance with his girl.
He panics again, glancing up sharply. “No, uh- I mean- meant, well… You. Can I. With you?”
The boy smirks. “Gonna need a verb in there, somewhere.”
Jeongguk curls his hands at his sides. “Dance with me?”
The boy grabs Jeongguk’s wrist, pulling him close enough to get a hand on Jeongguk’s waist as his date giggles, likely at the way Jeongguk’s cheeks burn from the proximity and the embarrassment. He can’t fucking believe he’s got his hands on the same boy that distracted him from his own brother’s wedding.
“Want a drink, Tae?” The girl asks, taking small steps backwards towards the bar.
Tae nods, both hands on Jeongguk’s hips now. “Something with rum. Thanks, babe.”
Jeongguk was right.
He was absolutely correct back in that chapel, when he’d imagined that having this boy’s full attention would lead to an early death. His gaze is strong; his features devastatingly beautiful, even with his shaggy hair touching his eyes. Jeongguk’s knees threaten to give out, but he somehow manages to stay upright, belatedly bringing his hands to rest on Tae’s shoulders.
“Kim Taehyung.” Taehyung introduces himself, guiding Jeongguk into a dance that is mercifully slower than the one he’d shared with his date.
“Jeongguk,” Jeongguk says. The song is fast but the dance floor is too crowded to move too much. “Jeon Jeongguk. How do you know the couple?”
Taehyung hums. From this close, Taehyung is even more beautiful, long lashes brushing his cheeks every time he blinks. They’re about the same height, Taehyung might have a centimeter or two on him, his shoulders sturdy beneath Jeongguk’s hands, and - holy shit he’s not going to survive the night. “I sucked off the groom a few years ago.”
“Wait- what?” Jeongguk startles so violently he nearly throws himself out of Taehyung’s arms. “You. Really?”
“Yeah?” Taehyung scrutinizes Jeongguk’s reaction. “We met in a club before he enlisted and I sucked him off in the bathroom. Kept in touch a little but, shit, I was surprised when I got the invitation.”
“I didn’t even know he was into boys,” Jeongguk murmurs, trying not to get distracted by Taehyung’s pretty pink lips.
“You know him, too?”
“He’s my brother.”
That stops Taehyung in his tracks, genuine surprise morphing into an easy grin. Jeongguk’s almost offended. Taehyung should be far more embarrassed than this. “Well. He’s got a nice dick.”
“I don’t want to know that!”
Taehyung laughs, his back curling forward with the force of his chuckles. Jeongguk just knows that he’s flushing again, scanning the room to see if anyone had noticed Taehyung’s reaction. They’re in the clear, and the odd heaviness surrounding the two of them seems to disappear as Taehyung stands up straight again, dragging Jeongguk into their dance with newfound conviction.
“We were both a little drunk, if that helps my case.”
It really doesn’t help. It doesn’t help because now Jeongguk is picturing his brother hooking up in bars a few years ago, and even worse, Jeongguk’s imagining the things that Taehyung might’ve done to his older brother, the things he might want Taehyung to do with him-
“I don’t think anything could help you right now,” Jeongguk says, letting Taehyung take his hand and spin him to the beat of the music.
“Aw,” Taehyung pouts, gripping Jeongguk’s waist when they come back together. “What if I bought you a drink?”
“It’s open bar. And also my family.”
“Damn. You got me there.” Taehyung’s eyes sparkle with trouble, and Jeongguk finds himself wanting to follow Taehyung right into the danger zone. “I could suck your dick in the bathroom, then the two of you would be even.”
Jeongguk shakes his head, trying to ignore how enticing the offer sounds. “I don’t think my girlfriend would like that very much.”
“Mine, either.” Taehyung says with a sigh.
He tries to drag Jeongguk into a painfully deep dip at the crescendo of the song, but Jeongguk still has his pride, thank you very much, and he’ll be the one doing any sorts of dips tonight. Their dance brings them across the dance floor and Jeongguk can see Jiyeon speaking amicably with his mom, knows that he should probably go back there instead of continuing to abandon his date for a stranger, but then Taehyung spins him again and Jeongguk forgets to care.
“To what do I owe the pleasure?” Taehyung asks, when the songs begin to blur together. Jeongguk never had more than that one beer, so he can’t blame the slight haze to his thoughts on any alcohol, only the way Taehyung looks at him like he’s the only one in the room.
“What had the brother of the groom asking me to dance?”
“Oh. Um.” Fuck. Jeongguk hadn’t realized he was dreading this question until Taehyung had already asked it. He didn’t have a good reason for why he crossed an entire room of people to reach Taehyung, interrupted his dance, and stole his time and attention. “I didn’t recognize you.”
“At… at the ceremony. I recognized my family and my hyung’s friends but I didn’t… didn’t recognize you.”
“You’re telling me you recognized every person in that entire room except for me, and that’s why you asked me to dance?” Taehyung’s grinning, voice trailing off teasingly. He moves one hand from Jeongguk’s waist and lays his palm heavily on the crook of his neck, thumb dangerously close to the knot of Jeongguk’s tie. “What about that ugly old lady sitting in the corner? You gonna ask her to dance?”
“That’s my other grandmother.”
“Damn,” Taehyung can’t help but laugh, and Jeongguk quickly loses his serious expression in a sheepish grin. “You are not going to be hot when you’re old.”
Jeongguk’s chest swells with something warm. “You think I’m hot now?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“You might as well have.”
The song ends with a few long notes, Taehyung still holding Jeongguk close even when they come to a stop. Then, his gaze softens and he bops Jeongguk’s nose with the tip of his finger. “You are a very attractive young man, and if we were both single I would have sucked you off the moment I saw you in the church.”
“You saw me?”
“Like a spitting image of the groom,” Taehyung pauses. “Only cuter.”
Jeongguk ducks his head with a smile, fingers fidgeting where they’re still clutching at Taehyung’s shoulders. When his words sink in, Jeongguk looks up, lips parted with accusations sitting sharp on his tongue. “Wait. Then you knew who I was-”
“Ya! Jeongguk-ah, come here!”
The music hasn’t picked up again, Jeongguk realizes, as he glances around to find whoever had called him. It’s Jeonghyun, waving him over where he and his wife are standing by the cake. Right. Best man duties include a speech and to help pass out the cake. But Taehyung’s hands are warm on Jeongguk’s body and he really- really - doesn’t want to leave this.
“Better get going, little Jeon.”
Jeongguk punches him lightly in the shoulder, tells himself it’s for the nickname and not as an excuse to spend just a few more seconds here. “You’re not off the hook for this. For any of this.”
But Taehyung only grins again, leaning in to press a soft kiss to Jeongguk’s cheek. “Run along.”
Jeongguk isn’t proud that he stumbles a little on his way to his brother, but he is proud that he managed not to cup his cheek, to feel the warmth he knows is staining his skin, to check if he could still feel the ghost of Taehyung’s lips. He gives the speech he’d written while drunk a couple weeks ago and edited while sleep deprived on the train ride back home, and Jeonghyun laughs hard enough to make the dangerous look their mother sends their way worth it, even if she does wipe frosting on Jeongguk’s cheek in retaliation. Taehyung disappears sometime between the speech and the distribution of cake slices. He tries not to feel disappointed that Taehyung- and his girlfriend- aren’t there anymore.
On the train home, Jiyeon is oddly not touchy. She doesn’t play with his fingers as she usually does, or lean her head on his shoulder, or talk so much that Jeongguk contemplates pretending to fall asleep for some relief and to deal with the hangover he’d woken up with that morning.
“I didn’t know.” She says, a little over an hour into the trip.
“Know what?” Jeongguk murmurs, close to falling asleep now.
“That you’re. Well. You like guys.”
Jeongguk cracks an eye open to glance at her. She must have seen all the dances he stole from Taehyung, or worse, the way he’d kissed Jeongguk before the end of the night. He sighs, closing his eyes again. “I’m bi.”
“Is that a problem?”
“Of course not!”
It’s going to be a long ride home, Jeongguk realizes with a soft sigh, as Jiyeon squeezes his hand too tightly. And it’s only when they’re more than halfway back to Seoul that Jeongguk becomes aware that he’d forgotten to ask for Taehyung’s number.
Namjoon snakes an arm around Jeongguk’s waist, holding him close to try and stop the way his hands are very obviously shaking in his pockets. It’s not even his own wedding but Jeongguk looks more nervous than the groom did, waiting at the end of the aisle.
“You’re sweating, Guk.”
“Shit- Am I?” Jeongguk wipes the back of his hand against his forehead, and sure enough his bangs are damp with sweat. “Gross. Sorry.”
“You’ve been tense all morning,” Namjoon murmurs, as Jimin and his wife finally arrive at the reception hall, both smiling sheepishly at the eruption of applause that greets them. “Are you okay?”
Jeongguk doesn’t answer at first, leaning against Namjoon’s side as Jimin and Nayeon make their rounds, shaking their guest’s hands and hugging their friends. Jimin drags Jeongguk into a pretty aggressive hug, laughing a little in disbelief. He watches as Namjoon introduces himself to Jimin, and they seem to hit it off immediately, though it might just be the type of cordial politeness that comes with meeting a man that just got married.
“You better dance with me tonight, Jeongguk.” Jimin says, as he’s being dragged away by friends who’ve known him for longer.
Jeongguk smiles, neck prickling slightly. “If your wife can let you go.”
“She’ll need to save her strength for later.”
“Okay, gross,” Jeongguk says, as Nayeon slaps lightly at Jimin’s bicep. “I’ll see you guys later.”
“You better. Nice to meet you, Namjoon!”
“Come on,” Namjoon says, laughing at something he hasn’t let Jeongguk in on. Jeongguk turns his head against Namjoon’s shoulder, feels him press a kiss to the top of his head as he rubs at Jeongguk’s arm. “Let’s get you a drink.”
Namjoon orders their drinks, finding a seat at the crowded bar for Jeongguk to sit on. This wedding is a bit more casual than the ones Jeongguk’s been to in the past - taking place in Jimin’s parent’s backyard with the reception in the house to follow. Jeongguk supposes it’s a good thing Jimin’s father has a bar set up in the basement, tucked in the corner away from a makeshift dance floor surrounded by the furniture all pushed out of the way. Dinner will take place upstairs sometime after Jimin has greeted all of his guests.
“I fucking hate summer weddings,” Jeongguk mutters, complaining just for the sake of it. He holds his drink against his temple, sighing softly at the cold condensation. “My suit is too heavy.”
“Your suit is fine,” Namjoon says. “We got it tailored and everything. You look good, Jeongguk.”
Jeongguk doesn’t feel good. He feels like he’s getting too old for these kinds of things, even though he’s barely brushed the surface of his twenties. Seoul is too hot in the summer and Jeongguk’s suit still feels too tight, he doesn’t know why he’s so uneasy this afternoon. Doesn’t know why he can’t bring himself to finish one drink or why he turns down Namjoon’s offer of a shot. Maybe it’s because this is the first major event he’s ever gone to with his first boyfriend. Or maybe it’s the way the girls at the bar keep eyeing Namjoon where he leans, effortlessly handsome, against the bar top. Jeongguk hopes the way he shoves his hand in Namjoon’s pocket says more than he can.
“Are you sure you’re feeling okay?” Namjoon asks, after dinner has passed and Jeongguk is still nursing the same drink, the two of them sitting at the bar again.
Jimin is leading his wife into their first dance as a married couple. Jimin’s mom, a wonderfully sweet woman who’d made Jeongguk an entire plate of brownies during finals week, is weeping quietly at the edge of the room. There’s the prickling sensation on the back of Jeongguk’s neck again, and he blames it on the sun setting in the open window.
“I- no,” Jeongguk admits. “I’m not sure what’s up.”
Namjoon’s expression twists with concern. He strokes his thumb along Jeongguk’s neck, kissing his cheek and forehead. “Want to leave? I’m sure Jimin would understand.”
“You don’t know Jimin like I do,” Jeongguk chuckles, but it sounds weak even to his own ears. “He’ll be mad at me even when I’m old and changing his diapers.”
“Pretty sure you’re not the one that married him, babe.”
“He’d convince me to do it, somehow.”
“Go dance with him, then,” Namjoon urges. “Get your dance with the groom, we’ll dance if you feel up to it, and then we can go back to my place and watch Netflix until we pass out. Sound good?”
“Yeah,” Jeongguk says, smiling genuinely for what felt like the first time all day. He stands and kisses Namjoon, somewhat sloppily. “Sounds good.”
Jeongguk weaves his way through an absolute mess of a dance floor. It seemed that sometime after the first song, a goddamn anime opening theme that Jeongguk just knows Jimin chose, everyone had decided to fuck the usual system and dance to anything and everything. A few people were actually dancing along to the song the DJ was playing, but most were in their own little groups dancing to whatever.
Jimin grasps Jeongguk’s wrist between three women all trying to grind on the same guy- his beard was ashy, Jeongguk wanted to tell the women that he wasn’t worth it- and drags him close. “Took you long enough!” Jimin shouts over the music, Nayeon smiling shyly at both of them.
“Got held up at the bar,” Jeongguk says as an excuse. “I believe I owe you a dance?”
“Get your ass over here, then.”
Nayeon’s father takes her to dance with him, as Jimin gets his hands on Jeongguk’s waist, twirling him a little too fast. Their height difference makes it a little awkward for Jeongguk, trying to decide where to place his hands, and eventually settles them on Jimin’s shoulders. The wedding is nice, the casual atmosphere suiting Jimin’s personality well.
When Jimin had told Jeongguk he was getting married, making the announcement shortly after graduating university more than two years ago, Jeongguk had honestly expected something over the top, elaborate, and a little crazy. Maybe Nayeon reeled him in. Or maybe Jeongguk really didn’t know his roommate as well as he’d previously thought.
“How’s it feel to be a married man?” Jeongguk asks, as they do a little more swaying than dancing.
“Ask me in the morning, Guk.”
“You’re so gross, hyung,” Jeongguk laughs.
“What about you and Namjoon? You like him a lot?”
Jeongguk resists the urge to roll his eyes. “We’ve been together for a month.”
“My brother’s known his boyfriend for a month and they’re about ready to tie the knot.”
“Why does everyone always ask?” Jeongguk whines, dropping his forehead on Jimin’s shoulder. He’s well aware this isn’t how a grown man is expected to act at a wedding, but Jimin has seen him at his absolutely worst, exhausted and looking like the living dead, asking himself if university was worth it while chugging Red Bull and vodka at the crack of dawn.
“Fine,” Jimin laughs, not necessarily at Jeongguk but it makes him grumble nonetheless. “How’s school?”
“Oh my God, that’s worse.”
Jimin’s laughter is infectious, finally getting Jeongguk to crack a smile, as well. They fall into easy, companionable silence for a few moments as they dance. He catches Jimin’s grin every time he and Nayeon spot each other from across the room, and when he follows Jimin’s gaze he stops dead in his tracks.
Kim Taehyung was standing by the bar, doing a quick succession of three shots with Namjoon, of all people. He’s laughing loudly enough for Jeongguk to hear on the other side of the room, the same girl from Jeonghyun’s wedding hanging off his arm. He clinks his shot glass against Namjoon’s, and downs it before Jeongguk can even find it in himself to blink.
“What?” Jimin asks, when it becomes clear he’s not going to get Jeongguk to move again anytime soon.
“Uh, um- it’s.” Jeongguk can’t look away. He can’t look away and he’s going to go insane. “Nothing. It’s nothing, sorry.”
“No, you’re looking at something.” Jeongguk tries to angle his body, use his height to his advantage to block Jimin’s view, but when Jimin is determined there’s nothing that gets away from him. “Oh, holy shit- Taehyung! Tae!”
Taehyung looks up at the call of his name, lips turned up and eyes still pinched in laughter. His entire face lights up when he catches sight of Jimin, waving obnoxiously and gesturing him over.
Jeongguk keeps his back turned as Jimin drops his arms to drag Taehyung into a bruising hug, punching him in the shoulder as they separate. “You absolute dick , you can’t just show up after not RSVP’ing!”
“I got Burger King before I came, you didn’t even need to feed me!”
“I got Burger King, he says, I didn’t want your fancy wedding food, he means.”
“Damn, you know me too well.”
“I didn’t even know you were back in Korea!”
“I’ll be here all week,” Taehyung says, and Jeongguk shivers at the drop in his tone. Then there’s a big, warm hand on Jeongguk’s back and he knows he’s been caught. He’d probably been spotted long before he even knew Taehyung was here. “You’re cheating already, Chim?”
“As if, asshole.”
“Who’ve you got here?” As if Taehyung doesn’t already know. Jeongguk sighs and finally turns around to face Taehyung, unsure of why his cheeks burn so hot with embarrassment. “Oh, it’s little Jeon!”
“Little Jeon?” Jeongguk splutters, eyes wide as he stares at Taehyung.
“Forgot your name,” Taehyung says with a wink. “Although, the name doesn’t seem to fit anymore. You look like you’ve doubled in size since I last saw you. How’s your brother doing?”
“Well, thank you.”
“Oh, Nayeon needs me. You’re buying me dinner after my honeymoon, Tae.” Jimin’s excusing himself before Jeongguk can say anything or get a fistful of his suit jacket and beg silently for Jimin to stay .
Jeongguk has half a mind to run away from Taehyung, to drag Namjoon into a dance so they can leave and watch too much Netflix but he doesn’t move. Taehyung still has a hand on Jeongguk’s back and he’s still so devastatingly handsome. He’s not going to survive the night. So he doesn’t say anything, and he lets Taehyung make the first move, slide his hand down to Jeongguk’s hip and pull their bodies flush together.
They don’t dance, at least not right away; Taehyung links his hands at the back of Jeongguk’s neck and leaves the rest up to him. Jeongguk waits for another minute, kidding himself into thinking they’re not going to do this, and holds Taehyung’s waist.
“Damn, what happened to the confident guy who sought me out across a crowded room?”
“I have no fucking clue,” Jeongguk admits, and somehow that eases the awkward tension that had surrounded them since they came back together, both of them laughing as couples dance around them.
Taehyung knocks his knuckles against Jeongguk’s temple. “You’re all sweaty, that nervous around me?”
“We’re in an air conditioned basement, little Jeon.”
“Okay,” Jeongguk laughs. “I know you remember my name, Tae.”
Taehyung is just as beautiful as Jeongguk remembers, eyes sharp and dangerous. He looks older, features a little more defined, but his hair is still long and shaggy, effortlessly messy in a way that reminds Jeongguk of a naïve high school first year. But it works for Taehyung, his easy grin and his fingers stroking through the fine hairs on the back of Jeongguk’s neck. He’s not in a suit, but dressed in a light button down and pressed slacks - maybe that would have kept Jeongguk from sweating his balls off during the ceremony. Jeongguk shivers, a sting of guilt dripping slowly down his spine.
“You look good.” Jeongguk says. “What’s it been now? Four years?”
“Shouldn’t you know? It’s your brother that got married.”
“I’ve been balls deep in graphics for the last three years, I’m lucky if I remember what day it is.”
For a long moment, Taehyung doesn’t speak. Jeongguk squirms a little under his intense stare, wondering if they were going to dance again or if Taehyung had just been humoring him for Jimin’s sake. “It’s stuffy in here, don’t you think?”
Jeongguk nearly blanches. “You just made fun of me for-”
“There are some pretty neat gardens out back, want to go get lost in them?”
“Uh, I- sure?”
Taehyung wraps strong fingers around Jeongguk’s wrist, leading him in the direction of the bar. “Red or white?”
“Do you prefer red or white wine?”
“Oh, I’m not really a wine person.”
“Well, I like red. So we’re taking red.”
Taehyung disappears behind the bar, giving Jimin’s dad a quick hug before rifling around for a bottle of something. Jeongguk pushes through the small crowd that has amassed as the afternoon dragged on to get to Namjoon, garnering his attention with a hand on his shoulder.
“Hey, you feeling any better?”
“A little,” Jeongguk says, smiling into the kiss Namjoon drops on his cheek. He’s a little drunk, swaying in his seat. “I’m gonna head outside with… with a friend.”
“Should I come get you for cake?”
“No, thank you. My gym would kill me for all that sugar.”
Namjoon rolls his eyes and pokes lightly at Jeongguk’s toned stomach, knowing very well that Jeongguk could afford to skip a day at the gym or eat a piece of cake. Jeongguk leaves with a squeeze of Namjoon’s hand, finding Taehyung standing in the middle of the makeshift aisle, reading the label of the wine bottle. Jeongguk catches a sigh behind his lips. Taehyung looks really good standing there.
“You ever been in Jimin’s gardens?”
“Not really,” Jeongguk admits. “I’ve only been here a few times.”
“They’re nice, Jeongguk. Like, really fucking nice.”
“Hah!” Jeongguk follows Taehyung’s lead, feeling like he does that a lot whenever they see each other. “Knew you didn’t forget my name.”
Jimin’s family has a lot of land in Seoul, something of a luxury in this area. It reminds Jeongguk of the small plot of land his family has in Busan, something that Jeongguk misses almost every time he steps onto the crowded Seoul sidewalks. But he doesn’t have a garden like this, lined with tall shrubs and bushes, flowers planted in neat lines. It feels like a maze to Jeongguk, as he follows Taehyung deeper. The shrubs grow taller, nearly blocking out the light of the sun before Taehyung comes to a stop by some tall flowers, a small water fountain with a few benches pushed up against the shrubs.
“Told you this was nice,” Taehyung says, bypassing the benches to settle on the grass. He brings a wine opener out of his shirt pocket, easily tearing through the wrapping on the top of the bottle. “His parents import nearly all of the flowers.”
Jeongguk can almost hear the heart attack his father would have if he knew Jeongguk was sitting on wet grass in his suit, likely staining the fabric as he settles next to Taehyung, their shoulders close to touching. “Didn’t think to bring a blanket?”
“Didn’t think a lot of things.” Taehyung takes a long drink of the wine before passing it over to Jeongguk, their fingers brushing as he does. “How do you know Jimin?”
“He is, was , my roommate at uni.” Jeongguk swirls the wine in the bottle. “He graduated before me but we shared an apartment. I’ll have to find someone else now that he’s married.”
“You’re still in school?”
“Mhm. About to start my last year. Graphic design.”
“Oh, neat.” Taehyung pauses, and shoots a smarmy grin Jeongguk’s way. “That makes me your hyung. Gotta start being formal with me.”
“Eat my ass.”
Jeongguk finds himself holding back a sigh. “No.”
“Guess not, then.”
Jeongguk takes a drink of the wine, the sun warm on his face. He hands the bottle back to Taehyung before shrugging out of his suit jacket, sighing at the slight relief it brings as he folds it at his side. “How do you know Jimin? Please don’t tell me you sucked him off, too.”
Taehyung snorts around the mouth of the bottle, wiping his lips with the back of his hand. “Sorry to burst your bubble, man, but I’ve known Jimin my entire life. He’s been my best friend forever, my soulmate, other half, all that fun gay shit. We fooled around all during high school. He’s the reason I knew I liked guys.”
“Honestly? Same.” Taehyung leans back on his elbows, looking away from a fancy plant to stare at Jeongguk instead. He can’t bring himself to feel the same shock from learning Taehyung had blown his brother. He knew Jimin slept around a lot, had been pretty shocked when he settled down with one girl. “What about you? Jiminie said he didn’t know you were back.”
“Hm. Got my degree when I was seventeen, I’ve been traveling a lot ever since.”
“Really? Where?” Jeongguk takes a long drink, grimacing a little at the taste. He’s too used to the hard stuff he drinks at parties, the burn of tequila and shock of vodka and someone’s hand on his back when he’s sick later that night. He gives Taehyung the wine.
“America. Brazil. I was in France for a whole year. Sri Lanka, Japan, uh, Canada for a few days. Lots of places I forget about until I check my postcards. I’ve been all over.”
“Kind of.” Jeongguk looks over his shoulder, but Taehyung isn’t looking at him. He’s reading the label on the wine again. “I have a photography minor, so I’ve been taking a lot of pictures.”
Jeongguk takes the bottle back, a little selfishly. He wants to see what Taehyung will do without the wine to occupy his fingers. “You only come back to Korea for weddings?”
“Sure feels that way,” Taehyung laughs quietly. “Why the fuck is everyone so eager to get married?”
“Beats me.” The wine goes down easier this time, and Jeongguk takes a longer drink. “I’ve been with Namjoon hyung- the guy you were doing shots with- for a little more than a month and people are already asking when we’ll be married.”
“Oh, you’re not with that girl anymore?”
“No.” Jeongguk scowls at the bottle. “She was uncomfortable with me liking guys.”
“Good riddance, then.”
“She was a good person, despite.”
“Nope.” Taehyung tips the bottle back to Jeongguk’s lips. “Drink to the death of that relationship. Drink to that gay shit.”
Jeongguk laughs, drinks a little more, and laughs a lot more. “You’re ridiculous. You still with that girl from hyung’s wedding?” He already knows the answer, but wine loosens his tongue unlike anything else.
“Yeah, Jesus. It’s been like five years now.”
“Are you thinking of proposing?”
“Nah. My parents don’t approve of her and she doesn’t like how much I travel.”
Birds scream from somewhere above their heads, and Jeongguk lets himself lie comfortably on his back to watch as they fly away. The sun is beginning to set on the horizon. Jeongguk wonders how long they’ve been out here. Taehyung follows his lead, rolling onto his side and propping his head on his hand.
Taehyung holds the wine between them, his dress shirt crumpled in some places. His hair flops into his eyes, hiding part of his face, and Jeongguk finds himself wanting to brush it away, to not miss any part of his expression. “Is Namjoon your first boyfriend?”
“Is it that obvious?”
“You looked so uncomfortable all afternoon, like you were expecting everyone to judge you for liking cock.”
Jeongguk startles at the brazen, directness of Taehyung’s statement. He’s never even said this aloud to himself, and it took him almost a whole year to ask Namjoon out for pizza because he was so afraid. “Won’t they?”
Not looking away from Jeongguk’s unsteady demeanor, Taehyung shakes his head furiously. “Trust me. No one cares. And if they do care, they’re a goddamn asshole unworthy of your time. Whether you like girls or boys, Jeongguk-ah, it doesn’t matter. You’re still amazing, and you’ll find someone worthy of spending their time with you.”
“O-Oh. Thank you, hyung.”
Taehyung smiles softly. The hand not supporting his head twitches in Jeongguk’s direction and then pauses before he changes his mind again, brushing Jeongguk’s hair out of his eyes. There’s something sad in his gaze, like he’s not telling Jeongguk everything, like there’s more to his speech about acceptance and never settling for less than he deserves- then again, why should he? Jeongguk was practically a stranger to Taehyung, just a guy he’s spent some time with at two different weddings. The most they have in common is they’ve both seen Jeongguk’s brother’s dick. (Although Jeongguk had been three and they’d been in the bath together. Taehyung couldn’t use that excuse.)
His hand lying lightly on the side of Jeongguk’s neck, Taehyung searches for something on Jeongguk’s face. He has no idea if Taehyung finds what he’s looking for, gets a little distracted in the soft touch of Taehyung’s thumb on the sensitive skin of his neck and doesn’t ask what’s on Taehyung’s mind. It’s none of his business, anyway.
“It’s getting kind of late,” Taehyung says eventually. “We should probably head back.”
“Fuck.” Jeongguk drops his head heavily on the ground and immediately misses the weight of Taehyung’s hand on him. “I don’t want to go back to school.”
“Not enjoying it?”
“It’s just a lot. A lot of stress and assignments that feels useless.”
“You’re almost out.”
“No guarantee of a job.”
“Damn,” Taehyung laughs quietly, but Jeongguk doesn’t open his eyes to watch. He can almost picture the pinch of Taehyung’s eyes as he laughs. “Are you this much fun at every party you go to?”
Jeongguk scoffs, feels Taehyung drop tiny blades of grass all over his face. “Jerk.”
“You’re doing fine, Jeongguk-ah.”
Opening his eyes, Jeongguk is almost disappointed to see Taehyung’s kept a formal distance between them. “You really believe that?”
“Of course I do. If Jimin can graduate with honors, you can do anything.”
That gets a laugh out of Jeongguk, watching as Taehyung pushes himself to his feet and brushes the grass and rogue flowers from his slacks. “Why the fuck is Jimin friends with you? You’re so mean .”
“His life is boring without me, trust me.” Taking Taehyung’s offered hand, Jeongguk stands with a groan and a few cracks of his knees. “Come on, let’s go before your boyfriend worries.”
Jeongguk tries- and fails- not to read too much into Taehyung not letting go of his hand as they gather their things from the garden. Taehyung grabs the wine, only half-empty, and Jeongguk slings his suit jacket over his shoulder, Taehyung’s palm warm against his. He tries not to be too obvious about his staring at Taehyung’s profile, but he’s pretty sure he fails at that, too.
They get back to the house just as Jimin and Nayeon are leaving, dashing out to the car to the background music of a lot of cheers. They have a late flight and a long layover before they’ll get to their honeymoon. Jeongguk is exhausted just thinking about it.
Taehyung hums, letting go of Jeongguk’s hand as people start filing out of the house. Women carry their heels in hand and wobble against their partner’s shoulders, some people laugh too loudly, and some are trying to smuggle a few extra drinks for the road. “I don’t think there are many people left inside.”
“There you are!” Namjoon pushes lightly through some people leaving to reach where Jeongguk is standing, looking marginally more sober than when he’d left. “I honestly was starting to think you ditched me.”
“I could never.”
“Did you have a good time?”
“Yeah,” Jeongguk says truthfully. He laces his fingers with Namjoon’s, brings their hands up to kiss at the back of Namjoon’s knuckles. “Yeah, I had fun.”
Namjoon picks a stray piece of grass out of Jeongguk’s hair. “We never got our dance.”
“Oh, fuck- sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it, there are some other dances we can do at my place.”
Jeongguk blushes a bright red, he’s absolutely sure of it. He punches weakly at Namjoon’s shoulder, as he laughs, throwing an arm around Jeongguk’s shoulder and dragging him close.
“Wait,” Jeongguk says, suddenly. They’re at Namjoon’s car, Jeongguk halfway from sitting in the passenger seat when he remembers something. “Fuck, I wanted to…”
“Guk? Is everything okay?”
“Yeah,” Jeongguk whispers. He’d really wanted to get Taehyung’s number this time around, if for nothing more than a good friend to text whenever Taehyung had Wi-Fi while abroad. But he’s nowhere to be seen, not in the faces of the people stumbling into their cars, not supporting his girlfriend as they walk to the subway, or talking with Jimin’s parents. He must have dipped as soon as Namjoon spotted them. Something uncomfortably heavy settles in Jeongguk’s gut, the calm lull he’d fallen under with Taehyung crashing forcefully against his temple until it ached.
“Yeah,” Jeongguk says again, tongue too heavy in his mouth. He slips into the car, toeing off his dress shoes because they hurt . “Everything’s fine.”
If Jeongguk had to rank all of the weddings he’s been to over the years, beachfront weddings would absolutely be at the top. There’s nothing to hate about exchanging nuptials on the beach, the wind in everyone’s hair and the sun high in the sky setting the perfect mood for the happy day. Except, maybe, for the sand in the shoes and the seagulls trying to get the food, but other than that. It’s great.
“Brings a goddam tear to your eye, don’t it?”
Someone slings an arm over Jeongguk’s shoulders as Bogum is reciting his vows. It’s not Yugyeom, because Yugyeom is sitting in his proper seat and Jeongguk is not. He’d arrived at the venue late, held up in a meeting that ultimately finished with an announcement to push Jeongguk’s release back some months, and he’d decided to stand at the back of the congregation of people, rather than fight to get to his seat. The voice is familiar, though, the way the stranger rests his chin on Jeongguk’s shoulder with no preamble. Jeongguk knows who this is, and finds a grin on his lips despite himself.
“Hyung.” Jeongguk smiles at him, at the innocent flutter of Taehyung’s lashes and tries not to snort. Innocent. “I’m not even surprised that you’re here.”
“Gonna ask if I sucked this guy’s dick, too?”
“Unfortunately, I did not.”
Jeongguk snorts. “ Unfortunately .”
Taehyung’s arm on his shoulder is a comfortable weight, even if the weather is a little too warm for such proximity. The breeze from the sea is nice, a little salty on the back of Jeongguk’s tongue, blowing lightly through his hair as Taehyung sways their bodies back and forth.
“I know Bogum through a mutual friend,” Taehyung whispers, as the couple is exchanging vows. “Don’t really know his partner, though.”
“He’s friends with my boyfriend,” Jeongguk answer. “Minjae? Minhyuk? Min… something.”
“Thank you for that information.”
“At least I had information-”
“Want a drink?”
Jeongguk frowns in confusion. The ceremony isn’t over yet. “The bar isn’t open.”
“Bogum’s an actor and I know him. The bar is open for me.”
He chooses not to question Taehyung’s logic, asking for a vodka soda and enduring Taehyung’s scoff about drinking the most predictable drink. Instead of watching the last of the ceremony, Jeongguk watches Taehyung on his way to the bar, laughing at whatever it is the bartender is saying. It doesn’t even look like he tries to dissuade Taehyung from ordering, despite the fact that Bogum and his new husband are sealing their marriage with a kiss.
It ends by the time Taehyung is turning back around, two drinks in hand. He makes it back to Jeongguk after everyone has stood up, stretching their legs and getting ready to head to the large beach tent where the reception would take place a handful of meters from the ceremony.
“Vodka soda for the lame baby,” Taehyung says, the glass cold against Jeongguk’s fingers.
“What did you get?” He nods at Taehyung’s monstrosity of a drink.
“Sex on the beach.”
“Of fucking course. Your hair is shorter.”
“Hm?” Taehyung downs almost half of his drink in one go.
“Oh! Yeah.” Taehyung runs a hand through his hair, way shorter than Jeongguk remembers it being and styled away from his eyes. He must have dyed it recently, the color a warm, reddish brown. “Had to cut it all off for the military, dude.”
Jeongguk brushes a loose strand away from Taehyung’s forehead. “You enlisted?”
“Yeah, just got out a week ago. It’s a good thing Seokjin - the mutual friend - told me about Bogum’s wedding otherwise I wouldn’t have entered in time. What about you? Anything new in the last two and a half years?”
“Graduated from university,” Jeongguk begins.
Someone slams into Jeongguk’s side, gathering him into an overeager hug and nearly sending Jeongguk toppling over. Yugyeom might already be a little drunk, crushing Jeongguk’s body against his own and trying to drag him in the direction of the reception. Jeongguk tries to steady him, but Yugyeom had stopped live tweeting his pre-game this afternoon after four shots and Jeongguk really had no clue where he was at.
“Yugyeom, just give me a second-”
But Taehyung was being tugged by a tall, pretty boy in the crowd of attendees and away from Jeongguk. He looks over his shoulder as the boy talks his ear off, but Jeongguk can’t be certain if he’s trying to find Jeongguk or someone else with so many people between them.
With a sigh, Jeongguk lets Yugyeom link their arms and he tries to pay attention to what he’s saying. They find the table settings with their nameplates, pretty far away from the front, and Yugyeom joins the small crowd of people trying to get drinks. He doesn’t know any of the other guests at their table, but they don’t give him a chance, closed off in their own private conversations. Normally, Jeongguk would kick himself for being so distracted, so turned off during a wedding, (he knows his mother would have his head if she found out he wasn’t paying any attention to the toasts, poking his food around his plate while Yugyeom leant his weight against Jeongguk’s side) but the wedding itself was just so boring .
Jeongguk can understand why Bogum and Min Something would want a lowkey wedding, something small without paparazzi or stress, but Jeongguk wishes there was a magician or something. Anything to keep him from falling asleep. He’s barely finished the drink Taehyung picked up for him more than an hour ago, but he can’t bring himself to leave his chair to get another.
“Hey, Jeongguk. Did you hear what I said?”
Looking up from the napkin he’s been tearing into little pieces for the better part of half an hour, Jeongguk faces Yugyeom, looking at him expectantly. Luckily, no one else has seemed to notice Jeongguk zoning out. In fact, some people have left the table to try and dance to relieve boredom. Or at least, that’s what Jeongguk assumes.
“Sorry, what were you saying?”
Yugyeom takes one of Jeongguk’s hands in both of his, playing lightly with his fingers. “I said. What do you think about moving in together?”
Jeongguk knows exactly what he thinks about it. He knows, that despite living in a less than stellar apartment with a couple of roommates he’d met through his job, that he’s not ready to move in with Yugyeom. It’s nothing against Yugyeom, of course. He’s a wonderful boyfriend, someone who Jeongguk really likes to be around, but he isn’t sure he’s ready to take this next step.
“Uh, I.” He makes sure not to show his displeasure at the offer on his face, but he’s not entirely certain he managed. “Yugyeom, I-”
“Excuse me.” Taehyung rests his palms on the table between Jeongguk and Yugyeom, making them drop hands. Taehyung looks at Yugyeom, his back to Jeongguk. “Mind if I borrow your boyfriend for a bit?”
Yugyeom glances to Jeongguk with wide eyes. “Uh-”
Jeongguk swats at the back of Taehyung’s head. “What is this? The eighteenth century? Gotta ask permission to spend time with me?”
“Depends, are you going to show me your ankles like a naughty girl?”
Still, Jeongguk shoots Yugyeom a sheepish glance as he stands up, grabbing a few of the unopened beer bottles littering the table before following Taehyung away from the reception tent and to a gathering of rocks further down the beach. They spend a few minutes climbing to a good rock, one that’s been warmed by the summer sun and was relatively flat enough to sit on.
Taehyung takes one of the beers as Jeongguk sits and cracks it open. “You’re welcome, by the way.”
“Saving your ass. You looked about ready to drown yourself sitting there.”
“It’s a boring wedding.”
“I’ll be sure to tell Bogum that.”
Jeongguk cracks his own beer, clinking it against the neck of Taehyung’s. “Please don’t, I don’t want to alienate Yugyeom’s friends.”
“My ideal wedding would be at a laser tag place,” Taehyung says, tilting his head to the sky. It exposes the pretty slope of his neck; exposes Jeongguk’s well-hidden desire to stroke at the smooth skin there.
Instead, Jeongguk thumbs at his beer bottle. He deadpans, “A laser tag place.”
“Hell yeah, seal the deal with a kiss and immediately shoot each other for a high score. What could be better?”
“There are some points he has made.’’
“What about you?”
“What about me?”
Taehyung nudges his arm. “Your ideal wedding.”
“Oh.” Jeongguk glances to the ocean, sitting on his hand to keep from fidgeting, swishing his beer around. “I haven’t really thought about it. Something small, I guess. With my family there. I wouldn’t mind eloping, actually.”
With a hum, Taehyung reaches up to loosen his tie, glancing at Jeongguk briefly. “So I guess you and Namjoon broke up?”
Jeongguk sighs, “Yeah. A few months after Jimin hyung’s wedding.”
“Damn.” Taehyung leans back a little, and Jeongguk tries to ignore how his arm would appear to be around Jeongguk’s body if anyone from the pier behind them would happen to look over. “I liked him. He had those soft sugar daddy vibes.”
That gets a genuine, startled laugh out of Jeongguk. “He did not.”
“He did! Looked like he smelled like money.”
“He wasn’t my sugar daddy.”
“I bet you,” Taehyung says, around a large drink of his beer. “Everything in your wallet that he’s the one who paid to get your suit tailored.”
Jeongguk has no rebuttal. He hands Taehyung his beer and digs into his pocket for his wallet, rifling through the few bills and cards inside, tries to angle it away so Taehyung doesn’t see the picture of IU that he has in the license slot. “Congratulations, hyung, you are now the proud owner of… four thousand Won.”
He puts the crumpled bills in Taehyung’s open palm, who stares at them with an expression Jeongguk can’t read, before he looks up as if pained. “I suddenly feel compelled to give you my entire wallet and buy you dinner.”
Jeongguk snorts. “You should feel bad, you just took my ramen budget for the week. Like a lunch bully.”
“Make sure you shove a bunch of those hot pretzels in your pants before you leave.”
“Way ahead of you.”
It was the wrong thing to say, Jeongguk learns, as Taehyung starts to laugh and pat at Jeongguk’s thighs, saying something about finding the pretzels so they can share them, they would go so well with their beers. Jeongguk does his best to fight him off, threatening to dump the rest of his beer on Taehyung’s head before he finally relents.
“You’re not with that girl anymore?” Jeongguk asks, when he’s almost sure Taehyung won’t try to stick his hands in Jeongguk’s pants again.
Taehyung finishes his beer and doesn’t bother opening a new one. “Nope. She told me to propose to her and quit traveling or she’d leave me.”
Jeongguk frowns, squeezes Taehyung’s shoulder lightly. He’d been with another girl before Yugyeom, but she’d walked out while Jeongguk was staying up late in the night trying to finish his video game pitch, saying he cared more about games than her.
“What did you do?”
“I fucking went to Rome for three months,” Taehyung says, grinning wickedly.
Jeongguk rolls his eyes, but finds that he’s smiling fondly. “I’m not even surprised.”
“She was out of my place by the time I got back, which was good since I’d come home with a guy practically on my dick.”
“And the guy you’re with today?”
“Met him in Rome, actually. His name is Seojoon. We ran into each other at a coffee shop in Seoul when I had a short leave from the military and after I sucked his dick a few times he asked me out.”
“Modern day romance,” Jeongguk snickers.
“Enough about this lame shit,” Taehyung suddenly says, before Jeongguk’s even finished swallowing his next gulp. “I’m not spending another wedding with you talking about our relationships.”
Taehyung stands, grumbling about something that Jeongguk can’t decipher. He loosens his tie enough to tug it over his head, chucking off his suit jacket as soon as his tie is off. It’s when Taehyung goes for his slacks that Jeongguk recovers enough to cover his eyes, turning away and spluttering, “Hyung, what are you doing?”
“We’re going skinny dipping.”
“We’re- what - ? ”
“Except, not the naked part. Get up, Guk-ah! You can’t swim in your stuffy suit.”
Jeongguk would love to say that he put up one hell of a fight, or that he talked Taehyung down from this ridiculous idea and they went back to the end of the wedding. Wants to say that he was thinking about Yugyeom when he caved and started to loosen his tie- definitely not watching while Taehyung bent over to wrestle off his shoes- but Jeongguk is not a liar. So he throws his jacket on top of Taehyung’s and desperately tries not to stare at Taehyung’s ass as he goes charging into the ocean.
“Come on!” Taehyung shouts, his head poking out of the water. “Live a little, little Jeon!”
The water is freezing as Jeongguk runs in, the sleeves of his dress shirt rolled up past his elbows. He yelps, the sound nearly lost to Taehyung’s maniacal laughter and the roar of the easy waves. He loses sight of Taehyung almost immediately after he resurfaces, only for Taehyung to grab one of his ankles from underwater and drag Jeongguk underneath, himself.
From there, it’s easy.
It’s easy and familiar, the way Taehyung would grab at Jeongguk’s waist while trying to throw him into the water. It’s easy for Jeongguk to laugh in Taehyung’s face, to try and swim away when Taehyung threatens to wrap him in seaweed. They scream and they laugh, splashing each other and flicking wet hair out of their eyes. When they end up in slightly more shallow water, Jeongguk dips underneath the surface to haul Taehyung over his shoulder, carrying him, kicking and squealing, deeper before dropping him under a particularly rough wave.
Taehyung looks gorgeous like this, Jeongguk thinks, enduring the splashing barrage that Taehyung unleashes on him following his little carrying stint. His wet hair flops into his forehead, only for Taehyung to keep brushing it away, his smile wide and boxy and his laugh loud and uninhibited. Jeongguk’s fingers slip into the empty spaces between Taehyung’s when together they reach a stalemate, neither able to push the other into the water again through their laughter, doubled over so far they nearly trip back under the waves.
“Please,” Jeongguk gasps, trying to catch his breath as they lug themselves out of the water, tripping on debris and relying on the other. “Please tell me you brought towels.”
“It’s a no from me.”
Jeongguk groans, trying to shake his wet hair out of his eyes. It’s a little colder now that the sun’s beginning to set, and Jeongguk wants to be mad at Taehyung for getting him all wet, but he can’t find it in himself to do so.
“Here,” Taehyung throws something at Jeongguk’s head. “Just use my jacket.”
“What’ll you use?”
They manage to dry off enough to wrestle their slacks back on, but Jeongguk takes one look at his sandy feet and dress shoes and chooses to hold the shoes, instead. Taehyung loosely loops his tie around his neck again, and Jeongguk finds that he really doesn’t want this to end.
Taehyung has become a constant in Jeongguk’s life when it comes to weddings. He’s only been to one wedding without Taehyung and he’d been so bored he got drunk enough not to feel embarrassed about singing along to the DJ, even if his girlfriend at the time had been mortified. Weddings with Taehyung just feel better , and if Jeongguk were being honest with himself, he’d say that at the start of any wedding he goes to, he feels those traitorous seeds of expectation take root deep in his chest, only to bloom into a beautiful garden when he catches sight of Taehyung across the room.
He feels lonely, somehow, when the weddings end and he doesn’t get to see Taehyung anymore. Because even though they live in the same city, their careers keep them distant from each other. Two to three years between each time they see each other isn’t enough for Jeongguk, but he doesn’t know how to ask for Taehyung’s number- just to keep in touch- without appearing like he wants something more. (Even if he finds himself imagining what it would be like to spend time with Taehyung outside of a formal setting, if Taehyung looks as good in jeans or sweatpants as Jeongguk imagines he does.)
Jeongguk doesn’t want to say goodbye.
“You want ice cream?” Taehyung asks, staring at the lights starting to brighten up the pier. “I think I saw a shop on my way here.”
“Yeah,” Jeongguk whispers, so incredibly grateful that Taehyung wasn’t done with him yet. “That sounds really good.”
They sling their suit jackets over their shoulders and gather up their shoes to walk to the nearest pier entrance in search for some ice cream. They pass carnival games and face painting stands, small booths with hand-painted portraits of names, kids screaming and crying while their exhausted parents try to usher them in the direction of the parking lot. Passing pizza and pretzels, questionable foods that have been deep fried, and cotton candy, they eventually find the ice cream shop further down the pier.
Using the four thousand Won that Jeongguk had given him earlier, Taehyung pays for their ice cream, convincing Jeongguk not to get the same flavor so they can share. By share, Taehyung apparently means leaning over to lick at Jeongguk’s cone as they walk, slowly, as if trying to prolong their time together.
“I meant to ask,” Taehyung says as they’re passing another face painting table. “Do you top your boyfriends, too?”
Jeongguk nearly chokes on a piece of cookie dough. “I- I don’t… Hyung- Taehyung. Why-?”
“Relax, Guk,” Taehyung laughs, briefly throwing his arm around Jeongguk’s shoulder and squeezing. “Just curious. There’s shit I’d love to do to you if you were single, just wanted to know which way it would go. Want to know if I’ve pictured this correctly.”
“You’ve thought about me?” Jeongguk asks, unable to keep himself from blushing.
“Have you seen your thighs, Jeongguk? It’s a miracle I didn’t try to bite one earlier.”
Jeongguk punches weakly at Taehyung’s shoulder. “Hyung.”
“Oh, the things I would do to you, Jeon Jeongguk.”
He doesn’t know what to say . Jeongguk had honestly believed that he was the only one out of this duo who’d thought about what could happen if they were both single at one of these weddings. To find out that Taehyung’s thought about the same thing- maybe even more - has thrown Jeongguk off more than he’d like to admit.
Their knuckles knock lightly into each other as they walk, fingers never quite linking up but never moving too far away. Taehyung talks about the trip he’d taken to Peru just before enlisting, how he’d climbed Machu Picchu and taken over three hundred photos on that day alone. Jeongguk asks to see them and Taehyung eagerly agrees, only to deflate when he realizes he’d left his phone back at the reception and Jeongguk had left his on the table.
“Yugyeom mentioned something about moving in, right? You gonna do it?”
Jeongguk sighs. “I don’t know. I like him a lot, but I’m so busy with different games and designs, and I’m still trying to pitch my original game. Plus, he’s been talking about enlisting soon so it almost feels like he’s just trying to make sure he has a home to go back to.”
“What about you?”
“What about me?”
“Enlistment. Kinda want to know if I should still be looking for you every time I see a wedding setup.”
This time, Jeongguk can’t even pretend that statement doesn’t bring warmth to his chest. “He’s got me thinking I should do it soon. I’ll be twenty six this fall, after all.”
“I’ll do you one better, I’ll be twenty eight before the year ends.”
“Damn, you’re old.”
“Watch it, Little Jeon.”
Jeongguk finishes off his ice cream as Taehyung grips his waistband to bring him to a stop in front of one of the pier games. Something about tossing hoops onto bottle tops for small plushies. Jeongguk tugs lightly on his wrist. From here, they can see the reception and the way it’s starting to wind down. “Hyung, we should probably head back. It’s been a pretty long time.”
Taehyung forks over a few thousand Won to the game employee, who looks more interested with whatever she’s reading on her phone. “Give me two minutes, Guk.”
So Jeongguk watches, hands in his pockets as Taehyung tosses plastic rings onto bottles, enough so that the employee hands him the small bunny plush toy that he points to. A few kids who had been trying for their own prizes eye Taehyung with thinly veiled disbelief and anger.
“For you,” Taehyung says, dropping the toy into Jeongguk’s hands.
“Oh, hyung- Thank you. But why a bunny?”
“You look like a bunny. My bun.”
Jeongguk’s blush is hot and embarrassing, and he stares at the toy instead of looking at Taehyung’s soft expression. If he had any cash left, Jeongguk would be all over that Test Your Strength! machine a few meters away and win Taehyung any of the toys that he wanted, but before he can so much as offer, someone is calling Taehyung’s name.
“Tae!” It’s Seojoon, approaching and waving what Jeongguk assumes is Taehyung’s phone.
Taehyung’s smile immediately drops. “Sorry, Jeongguk. I have to take this, but I’ll only be a few minutes, okay?”
When Taehyung answers the call, Jeongguk doesn’t hear more than, “I told you not to fucking call me during the week-” before there’s a tug on his own arm, Yugyeom looking at Jeongguk with something akin to betrayal burning like a cold flame in his eye, glancing away to murmur, “Our Uber is here.”
“Oh, shit. Yugyeom, I’m sorry. We lost track of time-”
“It’s cool,” Yugyeom says, though he looks anything other than okay with how the night turned out. “I grabbed your phone, too. Jimin hyung has been texting you a lot.”
“Oh! Oh, great, let me just-”
Taehyung is still on the phone when Jeongguk turns around, arguing with whoever is on the line as he stands between Seojoon’s legs where Seojoon is sitting on a nearby bench. Jeongguk wants nothing more than to go over there, to exchange kkt usernames or even damn Snapchat accounts, but Taehyung is moving further down the pier now, the conversation appearing to become more heated. And with Yugyeom tugging insistently on his arm saying that they need to catch the Uber, Jeongguk doesn’t get a chance, and he regrets it from the moment the car door slams shut, cradling the tiny bunny in both of his hands.
“Oh, my God, Jeongguk!” Namjoon stumbles a little as he stands up in his excitement, gathering Jeongguk into an eager hug. His body is achingly familiar against Jeongguk’s, and he leans into the embrace a bit more than is probably appropriate. “I wasn’t sure if you’d make it!”
Jeongguk flicks Namjoon in the arm as they pull apart, Namjoon grinning at him. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
“Military treating you okay?”
Jeongguk brings a hand up to his head, rubbing the shaved cut with his fingers. He misses the fuck out of his hair, and honestly can’t wait until the next year is up and he’ll be discharged. “As okay as I anticipated.”
With his arm around Jeongguk’s shoulders, Namjoon guides him to the other side of the table, where his new husband sits with an amused tilt of his lips. “Yoongi hyung, this is Jeongguk.”
Yoongi holds out his hand, standing to properly shake Jeongguk’s. He’s dressed impeccably, as is Namjoon, dark blond hair brushed away from his eyes. Jeongguk only knows Yoongi through the pictures and stories that Namjoon has told him over the years since they rekindled their friendship after one of Jeongguk’s coworkers left to join Namjoon’s company.
At first, it had been a little awkward. Namjoon hadn’t been sure if he wanted to talk about his new relationship with his ex-boyfriend but Jeongguk had just been glad to have Namjoon back in his life as a friend. He’d looked up to Namjoon since the day they met in University, and though their relationship hadn’t worked out, Jeongguk found he kind of liked the two of them better as friends. And he’d seen the way Namjoon’s face lit up whenever he talked about Yoongi. How could he even think to be jealous when Yoongi made Namjoon so unbelievably happy?
“Jeongguk,” Yoongi says, squeezing Jeongguk’s hand. “I’ve heard so much about you. It’s good to finally meet you.”
“You, too. It’s good to meet the guy Namjoon’s been squealing about.”
Namjoon splutters, “You little-”
“Aw, babe, you squealed about me?” Yoongi teases.
“Where are you sitting, Jeongguk?” Namjoon asks to change the subject before Yoongi can drag him any further. Never mind the fact that Namjoon and Yoongi made the seating plan together, they had announced their engagement after Jeongguk already enlisted and he’d truly had no idea whether or not he’d be able to attend.
He might’ve cried a little bit when he’d called Namjoon to tell him about the circumstances. Namjoon had calmed him down, and told him to come if he was able. That he’d always be welcome whether he attended the entire thing or only made it to the end of the reception. Thankfully, Jeongguk had gotten a two-week leave granted and made it to the whole wedding, granted without having the chance to let the couple know.
Jeongguk points to the back of the ballroom. “Somewhere back there. I haven’t found my place card yet.”
“None of that,” Namjoon says. He disentangles himself from Jeongguk to pull a chair from a nearby table over to their own, on Namjoon’s left. “You’ll sit here now.”
“It took us three weeks to finalize the seating plan,” Yoongi complains, whining a little. Jeongguk doesn’t see the highly acclaimed producer who signs mostly angry, underground rappers in the man pouting at his husband for dragging an extra chair over.
Jungkook shakes his head. “I don’t want to impose-”
But Namjoon is adamant, tugging Jeongguk’s hand to get him to sit down. He recognizes Namjoon’s mother and whom he assumes is Namjoon’s father and sister, and probably Yoongi’s family in the other seats at the table. “You’re practically family, Guk-ah.”
“Oh, shit.” Jeongguk turns in his seat, spotting his girlfriend at their table way across the room. In his defense, he had told her he’d be reuniting with Namjoon for the first time in almost two years and warned her he might not be back for a while. Still, Jeongguk sends her a quick text and gets a thumbs-up in response. “She’s good. She just signed with a modeling agency.”
Yoongi leans forward to look at Jeongguk around Namjoon’s body. “Really? Which one?”
“Uh. Either SM, or… a different one.”
“Give him a break,” Namjoon laughs, linking his fingers with Yoongi’s. “He’s been busy. Speaking of being busy, how goes your video game release?”
Jeongguk lets out a heavy, angry sigh. At this point, the wait staff is delivering everyone’s dinner, so Jeongguk waits before answering Namjoon’s question. Yoongi leans against Namjoon’s shoulder as they’re eating, expression soft in a way Jeongguk didn’t often get to see in the selfies that Namjoon sent him over the months.
“They pushed back my release again ,” Jeongguk complains, aggressively stabbing at his vegetables. “And when I told my bosses I was enlisting they said they wanted to wait until I got back. At this rate, my game is never going to come out.”
“Should I call your company?” Yoongi asks, very seriously. “I could talk to someone there about being less of a stupid dumbass.”
“No, please,” Jeongguk says hurriedly. “I’ve barely been promoted out of a cubicle, I can’t take being fired.”
Namjoon pinches Jeongguk’s cheek fondly. “Don’t get discouraged. Yoongi’s company is always looking to hire creators, so if your asshole bosses leave you hanging you’ll always have us.”
“Thank you, hyung.”
Embarrassed, Jeongguk shoves his face in Namjoon’s shoulder, feeling his cheeks heat up at the way Yoongi chuckles at his behavior. He sits up properly when both Yoongi and Namjoon are urged into conversations with their parents. He almost feels like he was the one who got married with how many of both Namjoon and Yoongi’s relatives ask about his work, his life, whether he and Seolhyun are planning a wedding once Jeongguk’s out of the military.
And Jeongguk hates himself a little for it, but he’s searching for one person in particular. He knows Namjoon might’ve made friends with this guy, but he also knows it’s a long shot that he’d be invited to this wedding. And, eyeing Yoongi as he talks animatedly about his dog, he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy he would suck off. Jeongguk doesn’t see him at any of the tables, standing by the bar, or sneaking in late. Disappointment blooms like a poisoned seed in his chest at the realization, the petals scraping the insides of his lungs when he catches Seolhyun’s eye across the room.
“He’s here,” Namjoon says out of the blue, when most plates have been cleared from dinner.
Yoongi is grinning, taking Namjoon’s hand as they both stand. “It took him long enough, I thought his dumbass self was going to bail on us.”
“You gave him the lyrics, right?”
“Fuck yeah, I did.”
Jeongguk’s answer comes in the form of Namjoon and Yoongi moving to the front of the room to stand before the small, makeshift stage behind the dance floor. A guitar, bass, drum set, keyboard, chimes, and more are set up in their proper positions, and Jeongguk really should have expected a live band from a couple of music producers.
Namjoon asks for everyone’s attention for their first dance, which is to be sang by one of Yoongi’s close friends. It’s an original song, he says, one that Yoongi wrote for Namjoon over the course of their engagement period, and that he’d only finished this morning. Had Yoongi’s friend not shown up, they just would have played the demo recording that had been done a few weeks ago before allowing the band to follow with their repertoire.
“Anyway,” Yoongi finishes, while the band is finishing up tuning their instruments. “I really hope you like the song, and I love you a lot, Namjoon.”
It is Taehyung that takes the final empty seat on the stage, hair looking windswept and frazzled as if he’d sprinted the entire way here. He holds the microphone stand in front of his body, smiling widely at Namjoon and Yoongi where they head to the dance floor. He drops his suit jacket onto the floor, tie loose and hanging at an angle as he points at Namjoon and Yoongi.
“Here’s to a couple of my favorite hyungs,” Taehyung says into the mic. “Let’s do this thing.”
The song starts slowly, guitar layering over keyboard to create something almost sorrowful. Jeongguk hasn’t seriously studied music, but being close to Namjoon for so long has given Jeongguk more knowledge than the average person, and he may not be the musical expert that Yoongi is, but Jeongguk can tell that Yoongi poured his heart and soul into this piece.
Taehyung starts to sing after nearly a minute, voice low and deep in a way that sends shivers down Jeongguk’s spine. He holds the microphone close to his lips, eyes closed as he sings. The lyrics are beautiful, littered with metaphors of what Jeongguk assumes are moments that remind Yoongi of Namjoon. Jeongguk recognizes some of them, and finds a soft smile on his lips as he watches Taehyung sing, getting louder with the small crescendos of the music and then backing down before his voice can overpower anything. Yoongi and Namjoon are dancing along, and from how close he’s sitting, Jeongguk can see the fierce blush on both sets of their cheeks. It’s understandable, Jeongguk thinks. If he had someone as beautiful as Taehyung singing a love song dedicated to him, he’d probably be burning as well.
Jeongguk can’t look away . He knows the purpose of the first dance is to watch the new couple dance together before everyone joins in with their own dances, but Jeongguk can’t look away from Taehyung. Taehyung is somehow even more beautiful than Jeongguk remembers, his hair a soft golden brown now. It’s still relatively short, but the color suits his skin tone and the cut emphasizes the gorgeous angles of his face. Jeongguk feels something painful in his chest, killing the flowers that had bloomed and leaving a hollow spot in their wake.
The song is hauntingly bewitching, chimes layering in to add an extra element and show off Taehyung’s voice. Jeongguk didn’t even know he could sing.
When it ends, people stand as they applaud for Taehyung. Even Namjoon and Yoongi break apart so Yoongi can haul Taehyung into an impossibly tight hug. They’re laughing, Namjoon clapping as the rest of the band starts preparing for the rest of their set list. Taehyung bows deeply to the reception, and Jeongguk wants to clap, he wants to clap and to cheer and to tease Taehyung for not telling him that he could sing. But his hands don’t move, they stay folded beneath his thighs as he stares at Taehyung, at Taehyung’s wide smile and the sheepish shaking of his head as Yoongi thanks him again and again, ruffling his hair.
And Jeongguk wants this. He wants the kind of love that Namjoon and Yoongi have, deep and unapologetic. The kind of love you would sacrifice everything for. The kind of love when you wake up in the morning and feel nothing but undivided love for the person you share a bed with.
He wants to be in love, wants to be loved . Jeongguk wants that person who’ll hold his hand when things get too tough, when he’s coming home from work with the rise of the sun and he’s been fucked over by his bosses again. Wants the person who’ll tease him when he gets too drunk but still leaves a glass of water on his side of the bed, strokes his hair until the room stops spinning and he falls asleep. The person he doesn’t immediately reject the idea of marriage with. The person who brings about those butterflies, those beautiful flowers that will grow in his lungs when his parents ask how they’re doing together, the petals that will line the aisle of their wedding because Jeongguk doesn’t hate the idea of marrying them.
He doesn’t want to switch partners every year, to be walked out on and ignored, to call his mother with thinly veiled tears in the back of his throat when he gets home and the person he thought he could love was gone.
He wants this more than anything.
Jeongguk wants this.
“Taehyung!” Yoongi’s mom hugs Taehyung tightly, and Jeongguk hadn’t even realized that Taehyung had gotten close. “That was so lovely, dear. It’s so good to see you again.”
“You, too, ma’am.”
Taehyung looks over and catches Jeongguk staring at him as if he held starlight in his being. He’s cosmic in the way he carries himself, shoulders straight but expression uncertain, eyes burning bright. “Hi, Jeonggukie.”
“Hyung,” Jeongguk chokes out, and his voice sounds fucked and washed out even to his own ears. “That was-”
“Taehyung, you shit!” Yoongi smacks Taehyung on the back of the head, but he’s smiling fondly and Taehyung doesn’t seem to mind, if his jovial laughter is anything to go by. “I saw you checking the lyrics on your phone, you couldn’t even memorize them?”
Taehyung splutters. “You sent me the finished version an hour ago!”
“I expect you in the studio the minute Namjoon and I are back from Hawaii to record the final song.”
“Don’t I get a say in this?”
“After that performance?” Yoongi asks, his smile gummy and his eyes a little red. “Absolutely not. Come here, Seokjin hyung will have my head if you don’t talk with him.”
With Yoongi’s arm on his shoulders, Taehyung glances back at Jeongguk, still shock-still on his seat. “Jeongguk. I’ll catch you later, yeah?”
He doesn’t get a chance to answer before Yoongi has dragged Taehyung to a group of stuffy men in suits. The music the band plays is decent, but it lacks after Taehyung’s soulful song. Namjoon eyes Jeongguk curiously, tapping the side of his head with his knuckles.
“Guk. You good?”
“Yeah,” Jeongguk manages. “I’m good.”
Jeongguk hits the bar.
❃ ✽ ❃
“Hyung, please. I love you, but if I don’t go the bathroom I’m going to explode.”
Yoongi grimaces and shoves Taehyung off his shoulder. “No one’s stopping you, idiot.”
“You’ve been introducing me to your ugly business friends for hours!” Taehyung complains, laying his arms on the table and his head on top of them. The plate of food he’d managed to scrounge together had luckily been pushed to the side by Namjoon; his savior. “I hate business.”
Yoongi rolls his eyes. “You’re literally in line to inherit an electronics company.”
“Doesn’t mean I enjoy it!”
“Hey,” Yoongi says quietly, after Taehyung has complained for another solid five minutes about how Yoongi needs to pay him if he’s going to commandeer all of his time. “Thank you again for doing this. It wouldn’t have been the same with a recording.”
Taehyung rests his forehead against Yoongi’s temple, hiding his smile in Yoongi’s hair. Namjoon is watching them fondly from Yoongi’s other side, hand secure on Yoongi’s thigh ever since they quit dancing a while ago, feet hurting too much for anything more. Taehyung has really enjoyed reuniting with Yoongi’s family and doing a couple of shots with Namjoon - for old time’s sake - but speaking with businessmen and CEOs has kept him away from the bar for most of the night, and away from the one person he’d actually enjoy spending time with.
In fact, Taehyung hasn’t seen Jeongguk since his song finished. Namjoon had said he’d gone to the bar, but Taehyung couldn’t see him anywhere. And Taehyung knows that Jeongguk respects and loves Namjoon too much to leave at the beginning of his wedding reception.
“Thank you for asking me,” Taehyung says, kissing Yoongi’s temple just to hear him grumble and push Taehyung away again. “It’s been way too long since I last sang.”
“I keep telling you to join me in the studio, I have new trainees every other month with voices that would go really well with yours.”
Taehyung hesitates, lets the silence grow for a few minutes too long. “I have… a question. An inquiry, of sorts.”
Eyeing him warily, Yoongi rips another piece of the brownie he hasn’t been eating. “Okay?”
“And you’re not allowed to ask for context-”
“I’m not having another threesome with you.”
“No!” Taehyung laughs, ducking his head. “It’s nothing about sex, actually.”
“Oh, fuck, you’re being serious. A whole ass serious adult. Are your socks pressed and everything?”
Taehyung sends a withering look to Namjoon, who only shrugs helplessly. “Is he this unbearable at home, too?”
“Worse, if you can imagine.”
“See if I suck your dick at all this honeymoon, Joon-ah-”
“Okay, Jesus, quit distracting me.” Taehyung tugs at Yoongi’s sleeve. “Have you ever heard Jeongguk sing?”
“Jeon Jeongguk?” Yoongi asks. “Namjoon’s Jeongguk?”
Namjoon looks up at his name. Taehyung thinks that they should be working the floor a little more, walking around and talking too much with all of their guests, but they’ve been seated for a while and have waited for anyone who wants to see them to come over on their own. “My Jeongguk?”
Yoongi nods. “Let’s not pretend he showed up here for any reason other than you, Namjoon.”
“Wait, yeah,” Namjoon agrees. “How do you even know him, Tae?”
At that, Taehyung falters. He very well can’t tell his friends that he’d hoped on the plane back to Incheon that Jeongguk would be at this wedding. He knew, of course, that Namjoon and Jeongguk had ended on good terms, but he didn’t know if those terms had been good enough to warrant a wedding invitation. But when he’d seen Jeongguk sitting behind Namjoon and Yoongi, too close to the stage for Taehyung not to spot him, his chest had nearly concaved, and he’d kept his eyes closed because he was sure he’d do something stupid if he didn’t.
If Jeongguk hadn’t mentioned him to his friends, then it wasn’t his place to reveal their friendship. Not that they had anything to hide. Hell, it had been almost two years since they last saw each other, and for all Taehyung knows, Jeongguk got married during that time, or moved out of the country, or became a recluse with twelve cats all named after Taylor Swift songs.
He hopes it’s not that last one, but he’d help support Jeongguk’s cats however he could.
“You told me about him,” Taehyung says, scrambling a little for a decent story. “Drunk, last time we saw each other. Namjoon had told you he used to sing a little and you were complaining that Namjoon hyung had never brought him to the studio, and-”
“Sounds fake, but I’ll let it slide,” Yoongi says, rolling his eyes. “I haven’t heard him sing. Why?”
“He’s got… the face of an idol,” Taehyung mutters, not even bothering to put his heart into the lie. “Mixed with my gorgeous voice we could save your failing company, hyung.”
“My company is doing wonderfully you insolent little-”
“Taehyung, didn’t you have to pee?” Namjoon interjects, looking tired. Taehyung doesn’t take any offense from it. If he’s learned anything from weddings it’s that they’re exhausting and stupid and the dresses are too tight and the suits dark enough to reveal stains from closet handjobs and Namjoon likely doesn’t want an argument breaking out so early in the evening.
“I did, thanks for reminding me.” Just to fuck with him, Taehyung presses a wet smack of a kiss to Yoongi’s cheek before he stands up to leave the ballroom, Yoongi landing a solid hit to his arm before he goes. “Catch you gentleman on the, what do the young kids call it these days, flip side.”
“Have fun,” Namjoon calls after him. “Don’t fall in.”
Weaving his way through the crowd, Taehyung leaves the fancy ballroom and turns into an even fancier hallway. He thinks this wedding could be a bit more fun, but considering it’s Yoongi , it’s about as entertaining as he could have hoped. He absolutely could do without all of the businessmen asking about his father and where Taehyung has been the last few years, why he missed whatever conference calls or meetings Taehyung had told his secretary never to tell him about, but it’s not his wedding. He doesn’t get to complain about the guests.
He finally finds the bathroom and opens the door just as a girl pushes through, makeup smudged and expression fierce with anger. Double-checking the bathroom, he’s sure it’s not the women’s room, and he laughs a little as the door closes behind him.
Jeongguk comes stumbling into his arms, tripping on his feet and relying on Taehyung’s quick reflexes to keep them from falling over. He giggles into Taehyung’s shoulder, eyes glassy and hair a mess as he sways. And he’s fucking heavy , leaning almost all of his weight against Taehyung while simultaneously trying to hold himself up enough to look at Taehyung properly. He’s lost his jacket sometime over the last couple hours, and when Taehyung tries to look him over he sees Jeongguk has a shoe untied and his pants undone.
Taehyung has seen Jeongguk after a couple glasses of wine or a few beers, but he’s never seen him like this. He’s never seen Jeongguk wobbling on his feet, barely able to stand with flushed cheeks and a distant expression. Taehyung can’t help but sigh. There go his plans to spend the night talking with Jeongguk.
“Hyung, I missed you,” Jeongguk slurs, trying his very hardest to bring Taehyung into a hug. “You’re here. Why are you here? You… you don’t know Namjoonie hyung. Did you suck his dick, too?”
“No, Jeongguk, Yoongi and I are close.”
Jeongguk pouts, and it’s so unfairly adorable that Taehyung almost wants to coo. “Closer than us?”
“No, of course not,” Taehyung grunts, as Jeongguk nearly manages to trip on nothing and fall on his ass. He finds it absolutely hilarious, cackling with laughter as Taehyung helps him up. “Oh, Jeongguk. Please tell me you have a way home.”
“This is my home, now,” Jeongguk says, pointing to the closest stall. “I live here.”
“No, you don’t. Come on, stand up.”
“No,” he whines. “You didn’t tell me you could sing.”
“You never asked.”
“Sing to my ass.”
It takes a lot of effort on Taehyung’s part and the promise of getting milkshakes (and the help of a man who walks in on Jeongguk trying to tug Taehyung on top of him, who only shakes his head before helping Taehyung get Jeongguk back on his feet) before Jeongguk stands. He gets Jeongguk to lean against one of the sinks but when he turns to one of the urinals, Jeongguk grabs his sleeve and refuses to let go.
“I have to pee, Jeongguk.”
“I’ll be so quick.”
Taehyung sighs and takes a minute to untangle Jeongguk’s fingers from his sleeve. “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to take you back to the ballroom and get you the largest glass of water, and then I’m going to call you an Uber.”
Immediately, Jeongguk’s shaking his head and Taehyung prepares himself himself for Jeongguk’s drunken reasoning for why he should be able to keep drinking. Judging by the ridiculously high flush on his cheeks, Jeongguk’s likely been drinking hard since he first went to the bar.
“Hyung, I don’t want that.”
“I don’t want to leave you.”
“Then what do you want, Jeongguk-ah?” Taehyung asks, trying not to let his frustration bleed into his voice. This wasn’t how he wanted to spend the night. “Want to go back to Namjoon hyung?”
“I want you.”
He says it with a lot of strength for someone relying on a bathroom sink to stay on his feet, eyes hard with resolution and mouth set in a frown. Taehyung sighs, and ducks down to retie Jeongguk’s shoe, thinking it over for a second before securing the button on Jeongguk’s slacks.
“No, hyung, I want you.”
Rolling his eyes, Taehyung stands and pulls Jeongguk’s arm over his shoulder, supporting his wobbly weight. “You don’t want me, I’m just here.”
“No!” Jeongguk struggles in his hold, but Taehyung’s not keen on helping him from the floor again. His speech slurs and stumbles in his hurry to explain himself, trying to hold Taehyung’s gaze. “No, hyung, even when you’re not here. I want you. I said… I said your name, Seolhyun- my- not my girlfriend anymore- she, she sucked my dick and I said your name so she left me-”
“Jesus, Jeongguk. I don’t want to know about your sex life.”
“But I want a sex life with you!” He determinedly tries to dig his heels in. “You said- you said on the beach, you held my hand and you- you said you’d do things to me. You wanted to. You can let me, please. I can- I can be good for you- I want to- hyung, please-”
“Keep your voice down,” Taehyung hisses, leading Jeongguk from the bathroom.
“No! Everyone should know that I love you.”
Taehyung stumbles over his own feet and nearly sends them both sprawling onto the floor. But he knows it’s not true. Despite Jeongguk’s wide eyes and the conviction with which he spoke, Taehyung knows that it isn’t true.
“Don’t fucking say that shit, Jeongguk,” Taehyung mutters, looking away.
“It’s not shit.” Jeongguk insists, voice panicky and high. “I love you.”
“I love you when I’m sober. I want to kiss your face and hold your hand and call you when you’re not in the country. I want to fall asleep with you on FaceTime and pick you up from the airport; I want to be the one sucking your dick at a wedding. Hyung, we can- we can now. I just got dumped, we can, hyung, please say that we can-”
“I’m not single, Jeongguk,” Taehyung lies.
He lies straight through his teeth and endures the way Jeongguk’s hopeful expression crumples. His face, blotchy and red from drink, pinches as if close to tears. Taehyung lies, because even though he’s wanted this for so long - granted, he’d pictured Jeongguk far more sober whenever either of them considered a possible relationship with the other- he can’t do it now. He won’t do this with Jeongguk so far gone, drunk off his ass and hiding his face in Taehyung’s shoulder so Taehyung won’t see him cry. God, he really hopes Jeongguk’s not crying. He’ll never be able to live with himself if he made Jeongguk cry.
“I’m sorry,” Jeongguk whispers. He’s no longer trying to fight against Taehyung’s leading him back to the reception hall. “I’m sorry. Tae, m’sorry-”
“Don’t, Jeongguk,” Taehyung says, suddenly feeling exhausted. “Don’t apologize.”
The reception is nowhere near winding down as Taehyung guides Jeongguk to the head table. People are still dancing, the band playing a new, popular song that Taehyung recognizes from the shops around Sinchon. A few people eye Jeongguk with disdain, clearly the most intoxicated person in the room, but he doesn’t even see them where his face is buried against Taehyung.
“Hyungs,” Taehyung says, standing before Namjoon and Yoongi. “Do you know where Jeongguk is staying tonight?”
“Shit.” Namjoon stands, and tries to help alleviate the heavy body against Taehyung’s side but Jeongguk refuses to let go. “What the hell happened?”
“Your open bar happened,” Taehyung snaps, before immediately apologizing at the sharp look he receives from his friends. “And Seolhyun dumped him, I’m trying to get him home before he passes out, or worse- gets sick.”
“Oh.” Namjoon brushes his fingers over Jeongguk’s short hair, earning a small whine in return. “Oh, Jeonggukie. Hyung, do you know where he’s staying?”
“No,” Yoongi says. “We recommended that hotel nearby, think he booked a room there?”
Namjoon excuses himself to a quieter corner, fishing his phone out of the bag at his mother’s seat. Yoongi eyes Taehyung curiously where he stands, trying to keep Jeongguk from slipping out of his hold and back onto the floor. He doesn’t see the girl from the bathroom anywhere, and figures it’s better that the last time she sees Jeongguk isn’t like this.
“What really happened, Taehyung?”
With a sigh, Taehyung shakes his head ardently. “It doesn’t matter. I just need to get him somewhere safe.”
Yoongi nods, shaking a hand through his hair. “Want us to take him? I wouldn’t mind dipping early.”
“I really don’t think he’ll let go, if we’re being honest.”
“Jeongguk booked a room,” Namjoon says, slipping his phone into his jacket pocket as he returns. “Should I call an Uber?”
Taehyung shakes his head again. “I drove here. I don’t think I’ll be back tonight, but it was good to see you again, hyungs. Don’t be strangers, okay?”
“You’re one to talk,” Yoongi teases, doing his best to give Taehyung a one-armed hug. “Stay in Seoul longer than a month this year, yeah?”
Namjoon folds Jeongguk’s jacket over his back, but Jeongguk doesn’t even think to let go enough to get it onto his frame properly. “Be safe, call Yoongi when you’re done.”
“Got it. Congratulations again, my dudes.”
Jeongguk is quiet on the way to the car, easily allowing Taehyung to help him into the front seat and buckle the belt. He can’t help the way he strokes his fingers across Jeongguk’s jaw, something painful and mean punching his chest when Jeongguk turns his face into the touch.
Yoongi texted the address to Taehyung and he drives in silence, keeping the radio low as Jeongguk dozes against the window. He wants to reach over and hold Jeongguk’s hand, wants to apologize for ruining Jeongguk’s night and worrying Yoongi and Namjoon. He wants things to be different, wants this to be the wedding he does more than talk with Jeongguk at a crowded reception hall, but things have never been that easy.
“Hey. Jeongguk.” All he gets is a groan. “You still with me?”
“How are you feeling? Feel sick?”
“Shit- really? Need me to pull over?”
“No. Wanna sleep.”
“Shh, everything is spinning.”
With Jeongguk’s arm over his shoulder, Taehyung guides him into the hotel lobby almost thirty minutes later. It’s empty and quiet, the receptionist close to falling asleep where she stands at the front desk.
“Hello, there should be a room booked for Jeon Jeongguk?”
She clicks at her computer. “Yes, a single room. It hasn’t been paid for, yet-”
“That’s fine,” Taehyung says, digging into his pocket for his wallet, sliding his card across the desk and signing the receipt she hands him. “Thank you, have a good night.”
Jeongguk falls into the bed with a sigh, face shoved entirely into a pillow and Taehyung rolls his weary shoulders back as he straightens. He gets to work tugging off Jeongguk’s shoes and wrestling off his slacks, throwing them and his jacket at the end of the bed. Pulls the comforter over Jeongguk’s frame. He urges Jeongguk’s face out of the pillow and grabs a bottle of water out of the fridge, placing it on the nightstand.
“Don’t go.” Jeongguk whispers, snatching Taehyung’s hand before he can turn away.
“Jeongguk, if I don’t pee I’m literally going to die.”
Jeongguk cracks an eye open. “Just hold my hand, please. I feel like I’m going to be sick and need someone. Just- just until-”
Taehyung sits on the edge of the bed, in the curve of Jeongguk’s body. “Sleep, Jeongguk-ah. I’m here.”
When Jeongguk’s hold loosens in his sleep, Taehyung leaves.
❃ ✽ ❃
Jimin opens the door with bright red eyes and the messiest hair that Jeongguk has ever seen and a scowl that dominates his entire expression.
“Oh, good. The golden boy is here.”
“Uh.” Jeongguk holds up two bottles of wine. “I brought wine.”
“Thank God, the eight bottles I have wouldn’t be enough.”
“ Eight - bottles, hyung, what-?”
Leaving the door open, Jimin turns and all but trips over his own feet on his way inside the apartment, announcing, “Jeongguk is here and better than you.”
From his announcement, Jeongguk thought there would be more than one person sitting on the couch inside the apartment. He deposits the wine in the kitchen among the other open bottles. Jeongguk had only been to Jimin’s house once since his wedding, so he’d been more than concerned when he got a text from Jimin that said nothing more than an address in a different district and a message saying, 7pm bring liqur .
The stranger rolls his eyes. “You’re only saying that because I didn’t let you start drinking the moment you woke up.”
“That’s only something an asshole would do.”
“Jeongguk. It’s nice to meet you, Jimin’s had nothing but good things to say,” the man says, standing up to shake Jeongguk’s hand. “I’m Hoseok, I work as a choreographer for Yoongi.”
“Jeongguk. Less than willing best friend.”
“Don’t be an ass,” Jimin says, pouring himself a large glass of wine. He comes back to the living room and hands Jeongguk the glass, taking a long, long sip from the bottle. “I’ll kick you out.”
Hoseok sighs, flopping back onto the couch. “Did he give you any context?”
“He told me he was in mourning.”
“Nayeon’s been cheating. Since before the wedding.”
“Oh.” Jeongguk blinks, watching Jimin pour half a bottle of wine down his throat. “Holy shit.”
Jimin finishes off the bottle and sways his way to the kitchen for a new one, holding it up as a toast. “Welcome to the fun home, Jeongguk.”
“We’re celebrating the death of my marriage.”
With that, Jimin sits heavily on the floor with his bottle of wine and a faraway look in his eyes. The thinly veiled tears that greeted him at the door suddenly make a lot more sense.
Jeongguk sits in the armchair and places his glass of wine on the coffee table. “How is he?”
“He’s… drunk.” Hoseok sighs. “Been drunk for about four days, since he walked in on her. Showed up here and has been clearing out my liquor cabinet since.”
“Hyung,” Jimin lolls his head back against the couch. “I want barbeque.”
“You’re too drunk for barbeque,” Hoseok replies without missing a beat. “The others should be here soon, Jimin sent out a mass text like this was actually a party.”
As if on cue, the front door slams open and Taehyung, followed by Namjoon and Yoongi, comes stumbling in. Taehyung zeroes in on Jimin, sitting folded in on himself on the floor, and runs straight into him to gather Jimin into the tightest hug.
“Hoseok,” Yoongi greets. “Any change?”
Namjoon turns on Jimin’s favorite movie and Yoongi sets to gathering snacks, everyone settling on the couches and chairs with glasses of wine that Jimin insists on keeping full to the brim. No one drinks as much as Jimin, who’s given up on his glass entirely, and to any outsider it might look like a reunion between good friends. But Taehyung hasn’t let Jimin out of his lap and Jimin’s been on the verge of tears for hours, everyone careful not to talk about Nayeon or relationships while he’s still so sensitive.
At a lull in the little conversation they’ve managed to urge Jimin into, Taehyung rests his chin on the top of Jimin’s head and says, “How’s the video game, Jeongguk-ah?”
“Oh.” Jeongguk drops his gaze, feeling weak under Taehyung’s attention. It might’ve been a little more than a year since Namjoon’s wedding, but the time apart hadn’t changed the way he felt. “I uh. Quit that, actually. At least for a little while.”
“Oh, no,” Taehyung frowns. “What happened?”
“They kept pushing back my release and eventually cancelling my meetings while releasing new games. I quit a few months ago.”
“He’s been shadowing me in the studio,” Yoongi says, still on his first glass of wine. “You’d know this if you’d been in the country, Taehyung.”
Taehyung glares at him over Jimin’s head. “I’ve been home for four months. Not my fault I had shit to do.”
“Shit more important than this? Have you even told you father-?”
“Don’t put this on my shoulders.”
“It’s your life, Taehyung .”
“Jimin, get off, I need to go kick some ass-”
“No,” Jimin says forcefully. He tips the bottle against Taehyung’s lips to get him to drink. “None of you are allowed to fight while my life is falling apart.”
Yoongi sighs. “Sorry, Chim.”
Jimin sends a nasty look at all of them, and despite not even getting involved; Namjoon and Jeongguk look away as if guilty. “Now someone order food, if I don’t eat soon I am literally going to die.”
“When is the last time he’s eaten?” Namjoon asks, scrolling his phone to find somewhere to order from.
“I don’t know,” Hoseok admits. “I’ve gotten some snacks in him between bottles but he hasn’t had a full meal in days for all I know.”
Jeongguk slumps in his chair and tries to distance himself, just a little bit. He knows Jimin is miserable right now, and could probably use some words of encouragement, but Jeongguk doesn’t know what he can do. He’s better on his own, when he tries to comfort a friend without an audience. So he settles for making sure Jimin’s favorite show is on TV and keeping an eye on the number of bottles that piles up by his feet.
Sometime after Namjoon orders enough food to feed them until the end of the week, Jeongguk stands and starts collecting the empty bottles. He doesn’t know the specifics of Hoseok’s apartment, but he finds the recycling in the kitchen easily enough. He knows Jimin’s probably almost done with his bottle, so Jeongguk sets to opening another one and wonders if he’ll be able to get away with watering it down. Jimin hasn’t gotten sick yet, but he’s fallen every time he tried to stand up and his words trip and stumble each time he speaks. Maybe Jeongguk could replace one of the hard lemonades in the fridge with actual lemonade.
“I wouldn’t try it,” someone whispers from behind him. Jeongguk slams his head into the shelf of the fridge as he startles. Taehyung laughs from behind him, but he does look the slightest bit apologetic. “I tried this in high school, he can tell when his drinks aren’t fully alcoholic.”
“What the fuck.”
“It’s scarily impressive. We turned it into a drinking game before I graduated early.”
Jeongguk frowns, shutting the door of the fridge when the timer beeps. “I don’t want him to get sick, hyung.”
“I know, but he’s not going to listen to any of us. At least not right now.”
“I can’t believe she’s been cheating.”
Taehyung’s expression falls, and Jeongguk notices the dark bags beneath his eyes. “I don’t understand how anyone could even think to do this to him, he’s always been too kind. Too good for this shit.”
“What is he going to do?”
“I’m not sure. Hoseok hyung said he wanted to go back and destroy their home, but it was likely just drunken ramblings. We’re trying to find a good day to keep him sober so he can go get his things while she’s not there.” Taehyung presses his palms to his eyes, shoulders tensing for a long moment before he sighs. “I don’t have the free time I want to be able to help.”
Jeongguk nods. “Has he filed yet?”
“Not yet. He did try to break his phone the first time she called him, though.”
Frowning, Jeongguk watches Taehyung pull open the pantry doors. “We just ordered.”
“Yeah, but Hobi always has the best snacks. Your hair looks nice, by the way. Military service did you good.”
Jeongguk stays leaning against the fridge as Taehyung pulls out a couple packs of cookies and some other snacks. There’s something nagging at the edge of his mind, but he can’t quite put his finger on it. Still, he knows there’s something he has to get off his chest before the evening ends and he doesn’t see Taehyung again until the next wedding.
“Who the fuck doesn’t buy double stuff Oreos?” Taehyung mutters, turning around with three cookies stuffed between his lips. “What’s up, buttercup?”
“I-uh. I wanted to say I’m sorry for the last time we saw each other.” Jeongguk can’t look Taehyung in the eye, embarrassment painting his cheeks red. He whispers, so the rest of their friends don’t overhear. “Namjoon hyung told me you got me to the hotel and I know I’m kind of a mess when I drink, so. Sorry. That you had to deal with me. I never usually drink that much.”
Taehyung is silent for a few minutes, chewing quietly on his cookies. When Jeongguk looks back up, he can’t read the look in Taehyung’s eye. “Don’t worry about it. What are friends for, y’know?”
“Do you remember anything?”
Jeongguk chuckles weakly. “I remember your song and getting blown in the bathroom, and then I woke up to my ex telling me not to come home for a few days so she could get her stuff. I didn’t say anything embarrassing, did I? Namjoon hyung told me I get super talkative when I drink-”
“You raved about how IU deserves better,” Taehyung says, tapping Jeongguk’s hip so he moves away from the fridge to pour himself a glass of milk. “It was cute.”
“And also true. Now that you’re working with Yoongi hyung you should convince him to do something about it.”
“I’ll get right on that,” Jeongguk snorts. Finding the strength from somewhere, Jeongguk closes the distance between them to hug Taehyung tightly. Taehyung stiffens for a moment, before relaxing enough to squeeze Jeongguk’s shoulders. “It’s good to see you again, hyung.”
“You, too,” Taehyung whispers. “It’s been too long.”
The doorbell rings, and from somewhere in the living room, Jimin screams that it must be the food, but the door opens on its own and it’s not a delivery boy but Kim Seokjin who walks in, looking weary and carrying a few bottles of whiskey. Jeongguk disentangles himself from the embrace, watching Seokjin navigate the apartment with ease.
“What the fuck.” Jeongguk hisses, trying to hide behind Taehyung. “What the fuck is Kim Seokjin doing here? Holy shit. Jimin hyung doesn’t know any actors.”
Taehyung tries to glance at Jeongguk over his shoulder. “Jimin and Hoseok are good friends, Hoseok coordinates Seokjin’s dances. Seokjin is signed under Yoongi’s agency, who’s married to Namjoon, who became decent friends with Jimin at his wedding. You should take notes, there will be a quiz later.”
Jeongguk laughs, accepting the cookies that Taehyung dumps into his arms when there’s a knock on the door - actually the food this time. He returns to the kitchen a couple minutes later, bogged down by an impossible amount of bags. Jeongguk’s stomach hurts just looking at it, and he knows he’s in for a rough night.
“Come on,” Taehyung sighs. “We’ve got a long night of cheering up ahead of us.”
“Okay, who’s staying over? I love you guys but I love sleep more.”
Late into the night, they’ve finally managed to convince Jimin to give up on the wine. He’s drunker than Jeongguk can ever remember him being, even when they were back in college drowning their sorrows and deadlines in cheap liquor at parties. Jimin’s lying on the couch now, quiet where he has his head in Hoseok’s lap, staring almost unresponsively at the window. He hasn’t cried- at least not audibly, in the last few hours, but Jeongguk worries what the rest of the night will bring him.
There are empty food containers and whiskey bottles littered on the floor. Taehyung is sitting on the end of the couch with Jimin’s feet over his thighs. Namjoon and Yoongi are sprawled on the floor, Seokjin leaning against Jeongguk’s body on the armchair.
“I’ve got a meeting early,” Yoongi says. “Don’t want to wake anyone, so Joon and I will head out.”
“You been drinking?” Hoseok asks.
Namjoon is unsteady on his feet as Yoongi helps him stand. Namjoon giggles and says, “Been drinking for two.”
Taehyung snorts violently. “Holy shit- Yoongi, you’re pregnant?”
“Shut the fuck up, Taehyung.”
“Two- me and Yoongi.” Namjoon grins, proud.
Yoongi rolls his eyes, but he’s smiling fondly. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Hope you’re not too sick in the morning, Jimin-ah.”
While Seokjin’s playing lightly with his ear, Jeongguk asks, “Hyung, should I be at the meeting tomorrow?”
“I don’t think so,” Yoongi says, giving up on getting Namjoon’s coat and shoes on and choosing to hold them instead. “Get some sleep, you’ve been working too much overtime lately. Goodnight, everyone.”
Jeongguk pouts a little. He’s only working so hard because he doesn’t have much else to do while pitching his game to development companies and waking up to emails that begin with We’re sorry to inform you -
“Oh,” Jeongguk says, checking the time. “The subways aren’t running anymore. At least it won’t be snowing tonight when I walk home.”
Seokjin tries to pat his shoulder and misses, swatting lightly at his jaw. “Nonsense, I’ll drive you.”
“With how many shots you took? No way,” Hoseok says. He strokes his fingers gently through Jimin’s hair, looking so unbearably fond that Jeongguk can’t even watch, longing rising like a terrible wave through his chest. “I’ve got a spare room and a couch. Seokjin hyung gets the couch.”
Seokjin scowls. “You don’t get breakfast in the morning.”
Hoseok tells them not to bother cleaning up, that he’ll deal with it later or bribe Seokjin to bring his cleaning service over. He gets Jimin to his feet, not quite asleep but definitely not steady on his own. Jeongguk hugs him as he passes, feels something crack in his heart at the way Jimin all but collapses against him, as if he doesn’t even have the energy to give a fuck. And Jeongguk never knew Nayeon well, but in that moment he hates her and will never forgive her for hurting Jimin like this.
“You’ll be okay, hyung.”
Jeongguk follows Taehyung deeper into the apartment; a little too wired for how late it is. He didn’t drink, hadn’t really wanted a repeat of what happened at Namjoon’s wedding. He knows Taehyung brushed off Jeongguk’s drunken self last time they met, but they don’t get many chances to spend time together and Jeongguk had wasted it by being an absolute idiot. He’s still embarrassed, despite Taehyung making light of the whole situation, because he’d been a fool around several of his good friends.
“You can take the bed,” Taehyung says. “I’ll crash on the floor.”
Jeongguk shakes his head. “No, Tae, I’ll take the floor. You’ve done more than enough for me.”
“I’m not letting you sleep on the floor, Jeon Jeongguk.”
Wrinkling his nose, Jeongguk unzips his jacket and tosses it onto the nearby chair. “I’ve slept on worse. In college I woke up in plenty of bathtubs so I really don’t mind.”
“What the fuck- you’re not sleeping in a bathtub. Share the bed with me.”
Jeongguk freezes where he’s wrestling off his socks. “What?”
“Just share with me. It’s big enough and I need to cuddle something to sleep well, anyway.”
“Uh. Um. I.” Jeongguk cringes, his mind working overtime to come up with a reason why he can’t share a bed with Taehyung. His feet smell. He has terrible morning breath. He has unidentified feelings for Taehyung and he’s terrified of what’s going to happen when they share a pillow. Taehyung’s partner will be pissed. Still, there’s that tiny voice in Jeongguk’s head, and he says, “Okay.”
“Cool. I’m gonna hit the bathroom. Borrow some of Hobi’s stuff if you want, I’m sure he won’t mind.”
Jeongguk doesn’t. As soon as Taehyung’s left the room and he’s finished tugging off his socks, Jeongguk gets into the bed as far to one side as possible. His chest aches, heart beating way too quickly for how sober he is. He almost wishes he’d drank, wishes that he passed out already because he wasn’t sure he could handle sleeping so close to Taehyung for a good six hours.
When the covers rise on the other side of the bed, Jeongguk startles. Taehyung laughs quietly at his reaction and doesn’t bother with the bullshit pretenses like Jeongguk, closing nearly all of the distance between them as he settles in. He lies on his side, head propped on his arm to look entirely at Jeongguk.
Taehyung tweaks his nose. “Why do you look so scared? I won’t hold you if you’re uncomfortable with it.”
“No!” Jeongguk says, too quickly, before Taehyung can even think to move away. “No, sorry. It’s not you. I’ve just got a lot on my mind.”
It’s hard to see Taehyung well in the darkness of the room, the heavy curtains blocking out any light from the moon, but Jeongguk can picture it. Can see the calm, effortless beauty in front of him. He wants more than anything to move until they’re lying against each other, to let Taehyung hold him. To let it mean something.
Jeongguk hums quietly. “For the most part, yeah. It’s hard to focus on the career my degree is in when Yoongi’s pushing me so hard in the studio.”
“Just quit and move in with Yoongi and Namjoon.”
“I can’t do that, Tae.”
“Lame.” Jeongguk aims a light punch at Taehyung’s shoulder, both of them laughing quietly and it seems to dispel any lingering tension that had been in the air all evening. Taehyung’s smile is wide as they settle back down, close enough for Taehyung to hang his arm over Jeongguk’s waist. “How’s your… girlfriend? Boyfriend? I hope the next wedding I attend is yours.”
Jeongguk tries not to let his displeasure at that statement show. “Ah, I’m. I’m not seeing anyone right now. After the Seolhyun disaster and changing jobs, I’m just trying to keep my life together.”
“Big mood,” Taehyung agrees. “None of those cute idols in training catch your eye?”
“Half of them are underage, Taehyung,” Jeongguk says flatly.
“Jesus- really? I can’t keep up with these rapid debuts.”
“What about you?” Jeongguk asks, unable to keep that treacherous seed of hope from taking root in his chest. It seems to be a common occurrence when it comes to Taehyung. Beautiful flowers blooming in Jeongguk’s lungs only to burn later in the evening until he’s coughing up soot alone in his bathroom. “You and Seojoon still going strong?”
Taehyung scoffs. “We haven’t been together in a long time, Guk-ah.”
“O-Oh. Anyone new, then?”
“I’m not with anyone now.”
Jeongguk bites his tongue to stop himself from saying something stupid. He’s thought about this moment a lot more than he’d like to admit, albeit more when he was a little drunk than not. He loved being friends with Taehyung, he really did, and he cherished the few hours they got to spend together whenever they ended up at the same wedding, but. He couldn’t help but think about something more, when he gets home to another girlfriend walking out and has only one person on his mind for who he wants to tell about it. When he’s eating too much takeout and there’s only one person he wants to share with.
Or, and Jeongguk thinks this is the worst, when there’s frost on the windows and Jeongguk doesn’t have to be up early for work, staring at the empty spot in his bed with longing and knowing exactly who he wants to fill that space.
“It’s better, anyway,” Taehyung is saying. “No one to get pissed at me when I fuck off to the Philippines for two months, y’know-?”
“Can I tell you something?”
Taehyung nods, the cutest little pout on his lips. “You know you can tell me anything, Jeongguk.”
Without giving himself anytime to even consider it, Jeongguk shifts forward and softly presses his lips against Taehyung’s.
Taehyung’s mouth is motionless beneath Jeongguk’s, hand holding the back of Jeongguk’s shirt too tightly. Shutting his eyes, Jeongguk kisses him harder, a little of the desperate yearning he’s repressed for the last near decade bleeding through in the tiny whimper he lets out.
When he pulls away, Taehyung’s eyes are wide, body unmoving and horror crashes through Jeongguk’s frame. He fucked up. He fucked up so bad . He loves Taehyung’s friendship. He loves it. And now he’s ruined it all.
“I’m sorry,” Jeongguk says hurriedly. He pushes the covers away, jerking out of Taehyung’s embrace and trying to remember where he kicked his shoes, unable to even think of looking at him. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry.”
“I’ll just catch a taxi home, it’s fine. I’m sorry-”
“Jeongguk, stop talking. ”
Taehyung curls his fingers into the waistband of Jeongguk’s jeans, hauling him back onto the bed from where he’d managed nearly to fall. Jeongguk yelps, eyes shut tight as he feels Taehyung holds his hips tight and drags him so harshly that Jeongguk lands on top of him. As if afraid that Jeongguk will try to bolt again as soon as he’s free, Taehyung grips his hip. He might, honestly. He just kissed his friend and ruined whatever it was that they had. There was no way he could sleep in the same bed as Taehyung now.
But the scolding never comes. The laughter never comes. Instead, Jeongguk feels the softest touch against his jaw, and then the press of lips in the same spot. Taehyung kisses his jaw, up to his cheek, and then his lips.
Jeongguk gasps, fingers curling in the sheets as Taehyung kisses him slowly, gently, soft presses of his lips to Jeongguk’s. He’s shaking. He loathes to admit it, but Jeongguk has wanted this for so long , that just Taehyung’s hand on his jaw and his thumb stroking his hip are enough to rile him up. He thinks he should roll away, so that he’s no longer hovering above Taehyung’s body, but Taehyung’s touch is intoxicating, mouth perfect against Jeongguk’s that he finds himself pushing closer, kissing back harder, whining a little pathetically.
Taehyung bites lightly at Jeongguk’s bottom lip as he breaks the kiss, trails his thumb over it as Jeongguk bites back a whine. “Hey,” Taehyung whispers. “Am I really that ugly?”
“I’m afraid if I open my eyes this will all be a dream.”
Taehyung laughs quietly. “I’m right here, Jeongguk-ah. I’m not going anywhere.”
In the lowlight, Jeongguk can barely make out the tiny scar on Taehyung’s cheek when he opens his eyes again. “You’re not mad?”
“Do you have any idea how long I’ve wanted to do that?” Taehyung moves his hands to cup Jeongguk’s cheeks, stroking the skin just beneath his eyes.
“Then… then you wouldn’t mind if I did it again?”
“Kiss me, you fool.”
This time, when Jeongguk closes the distance between their mouths, there’s no trepidation or apprehension in the action and Jeongguk kisses him hard. He feels Taehyung’s smile into the kiss, dropping his hands from Jeongguk’s cheeks to grip at his hips instead. Those damn flowers in Jeongguk’s chest bloom dangerously quickly, body warm and nerves alight because he’s kissing Taehyung. He’s kissing Taehyung.
They kiss for so long that Jeongguk feels himself getting lightheaded- though he has an inkling that it has more to do with Taehyung than anything else. Taehyung slips a hand beneath Jeongguk’s shirt, trailing his fingers along Jeongguk’s heated skin.
Taehyung dips his fingers below Jeongguk’s waistband before splaying his hands along Jeongguk’s waist, so tiny compared to Taehyung’s hands. It’s not something that Jeongguk has ever noticed before, never getting the chance to experience Taehyung holding him like this. It makes him whimper into the kiss, pressing his mouth to Taehyung’s even harder, knowing that Taehyung can grasp nearly the entirety of Jeongguk’s waist like this. God, he’s so whipped and they haven’t even done anything.
Hitching Jeongguk’s shirt up, Taehyung lightly drags his nails along the exposed skin of his back. As he kisses across Jeongguk’s jaw he whispers, “Take this off, baby.” Jeongguk stops himself from whining out loud, sitting up on Taehyung’s thighs to yank his shirt off, he takes it one step further and wrestles his jeans off. Taehyung snaps the hem of his boxers. “Yeah?”
“O-Oh. I’m sorry, I didn’t even ask- is this okay?”
“Fuck, Jeongguk, of course it’s okay.” As Jeongguk gets to work on the buttons of Taehyung’s shirt, Taehyung runs his palms along Jeongguk’s chest, over the dips and defined lines of his abs and shoulders. “Jesus. You never told me you were this ripped.”
Jeongguk bites his lip, cheeky. “You never asked.”
Dipping his head, Jeongguk kisses along Taehyung’s collarbones and chest, dizzy on the newly exposed skin. He takes his time, sucking marks onto Taehyung’s chest as Taehyung drops his hands to Jeongguk’s ass, squeezing harshly and tugging him forward in his lap.
Taehyung threads his fingers into Jeongguk’s hair and tugs him into another harsh kiss, urging Jeongguk to grind against his lap. Jeongguk lets out a whine into the kiss, breath hitching as Taehyung licks into his mouth. Taehyung kisses him until Jeongguk is dizzy with want, hips stuttering against Taehyung’s lap, breaking the kiss only to trail his lips down Jeongguk’s neck. He shivers again as Taehyung tugs his lobe between his teeth, nipping the piercings and making Jeongguk moan.
“Shh,” Taehyung presses a soft kiss to his temple. “We don’t want to wake anyone up.”
Jeongguk had forgotten they weren’t alone, forgotten that they were in Hoseok’s apartment late into the night. It was the effect that Taehyung had on him. Whether they were hanging out at a wedding or Jeongguk was grinding against his lap, just being with Taehyung had Jeongguk losing track of time. It always makes it so much harder to say goodbye when their time together comes to an end.
He tries not to think about that now, though, as Taehyung squeezes Jeongguk’s thigh to get his attention again. Jeongguk runs his palms up Taehyung’s exposed chest, leaning down to bite at Taehyung’s neck. He spends time sucking a mark just beneath Taehyung’s ear, filing away the wet gasp that falls from Taehyung’s lips for later. He feels fingers in his hair just before Taehyung yanks his head back up again, kissing him wet and messy with his other hand dipping below Jeongguk’s boxers to squeeze his ass, hard . Jeongguk’s aching cock slides hot against Taehyung’s hard length, making him choke on a gasp.
“Fuck.” Jeongguk hisses, as Taehyung bites his lip hard enough nearly to draw blood. “Shit, hyung. Are we doing this?”
“Do you want to?” Taehyung asks, grip tight on Jeongguk’s hips. He rubs his thumbs over the exposed skin, and Jeongguk nods. “Then we’re doing this.”
Without warning, Taehyung surges forward to knock Jeongguk onto his back, kissing him again as he settles between Jeongguk’s legs. Jeongguk hurriedly shoves Taehyung’s shirt off, greedy for Taehyung to be as naked as he is. “Take your pants off.”
Taehyung chuckles into Jeongguk’s neck. “Someone’s eager.”
Jeongguk nudges Taehyung’s face up, pouting lightly at the wide grin on his lips. “At the beach you said you’d do things to me-”
Taehyung snorts. “ Do things- ”
“Hush, hyung. I want to do them. I want to do everything. With you.”
With another kiss, Taehyung sighs gently, and whispers against Jeongguk’s mouth, “I wish I could give you everything, Jeongguk.”
“I don’t want anything else when I have you.”
“ Oh , Jeongguk.”
Taehyung leans over Jeongguk’s body, searching through the nightstand by the head of the bed for condoms and lube, dropping them on the bed by Jeongguk’s head. “Oh, fuck. Why does Hoseok hyung stock up with flavored condoms in his guest room.”
“Why does he have condoms in the guest room in the first place?” Jeongguk counters, propping his weight on his elbows.
“That is one question I don’t want the answer to.” Taehyung sits up, sliding his palm up Jeongguk’s thigh before popping the cap of the lube. He’s still in his jeans, unbuttoned though, hard cock straining the front of the denim.
Jeongguk’s heart beats too fast, threatening to jump right out of his chest, and before Taehyung can pour any of the lube onto his fingers, Jeongguk grabs his wrist and chokes out, “Wait.”
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Taehyung pushes Jeongguk’s hair away from his forehead, very gently swiping his thumb over Jeongguk’s bottom lip where he has it trapped between his teeth. “Do you want to stop?”
“No, no, it’s not that. It’s just… I. I haven’t, ever-”
“You’ve never been fucked?” Taehyung finishes, eyes widening in surprise.
Jeongguk ducks his head. “You don’t have to say it like that.”
“Hey, hey.” Propping his fingers beneath Jeongguk’s chin, Taehyung plants a wet kiss to his nose and urges him to raise his head again. “I’m just taken aback, is all. You never did anything with your boyfriends? With Namjoon hyung?”
“N-not really,” Jeongguk admits. “Yugyeom and I weren’t together long enough, and Namjoon hyung could tell I was uncomfortable whenever we tried to do much more than. Well, y’know. Handjobs.”
“Have you done anything?”
“My own fingers, mostly. But I can give killer blowjobs.”
Taehyung’s smile is small and achingly beautiful when he laughs gently. “I’d take you up on that, but I’m not going to last. Not with how long I’ve wanted this.”
“I’ll do it, though,” Jeongguk says, hurriedly when Taehyung shifts his weight. “I’ll do it with you, just let me prep myself, and-”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Taehyung reassures him, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “And I’m not going to pressure you to take it up the ass when you’re looking at me like a terrified rabbit right now.”
Jeongguk scrunches his nose. There are the dumb bunny comparisons he’s missed so much. “But, hyung-”
“I’ll ride you,” Taehyung interrupts. “How does that sound?”
“Shit. Shit, that sounds good.”
Taehyung is quick to wrestle his pants off, shooting Jeongguk a dirty look when he gets his foot stuck and Jeongguk can’t help but laugh. It eases some of the apprehension that Jeongguk had been feeling, the nervousness he couldn’t shake. Because although he wants Taehyung, although he wants nothing more than to feel Taehyung everywhere , to have Taehyung’s hands all over his body, he’s more than a little glad that Taehyung can read him so well.
Taehyung tugging off his boxers and taking Jeongguk’s cock in his hand, stroking it almost thoughtfully, drags him out of his thoughts and he watches as Taehyung’s big hand slides slowly over his heated length. Jeongguk curses as Taehyung digs his thumb into the slit before popping his thumb into his mouth, licking the precum off.
“Oh my God, hyung.”
Laughing, Taehyung disposes of his own boxers so they’re both naked, chilly and feeling anticipation deep in their bones. Jeongguk wishes the lighting was better, but he’ll have to make do.
Popping the cap on the lube again, Taehyung pours a generous amount onto his fingers, kneeling up above Jeongguk’s thighs and reaching around himself to his entrance. Jeongguk can tell when he pushes the first finger in, shoulders tensing before he relaxes substantially with a sigh, Jeongguk mirroring it almost subconsciously as he bites back an embarrassing moan. Taehyung isn’t slow about it, either, shifting his arm to push in a second finger, stretching himself quickly.
“Tell me? How it feels.”
“So good, Jeongguk-ah.” He spreads his legs more, sinking down further on his fingers with a gasp of Jeongguk’s name. Jeongguk grips his hips, knows he’s holding too tightly, but he needs this. Needs this reassurance that this is real , that he’s not about to wake up to an empty bed, to another few years without Taehyung until another distant friend announces an engagement. But judging by Taehyung’s little whimper, he seems to like the pressure, so Jeongguk does it again, digging his fingers into the soft sides of Taehyung’s ass. “Fuck. That’s it, Jeongguk.”
“Have you done this before?” Jeongguk asks, head swimming as he watches Taehyung slowly start to fuck himself onto his hand.
“What? Finger myself? Or finger myself to the thought of you?” Taehyung grins. “Because the answer to both is a lot.”
Jeongguk pinches his thigh and earns a stutter of Taehyung’s hips. “You’re ridiculous.”
“Sure, sure. Tell that to your blush.” Taehyung crooks his fingers and his back arches, eyes fluttering closed from what Jeongguk assumes is a few well-aimed touches to his prostate. Arousal burns hot through Jeongguk’s entire body knowing that in a few minutes he’ll be buried in that wet heat. “Fuck. You ever fingered anyone?”
“Here, just give me your hand.” Jeongguk does, offering his hand for Taehyung to squirt lube onto his fingers. He guides Jeongguk’s hand around his body to Taehyung’s stretched, wet rim. Taehyung pulls out his own fingers and lets Jeongguk push his inside, and he nearly chokes at the tightness. “Good, good. Scissor your fingers, you’re not going to hurt me.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung puts his hand, still wet with lube, on Jeongguk’s dick again, stroking him slowly as Jeongguk follows Taehyung’s instructions, thrusting his fingers into Taehyung’s hole and trying to find that spot that will have Taehyung falling apart in his arms. “Fuck, I love your ass.”
“It is a good ass, isn’t it?” Taehyung teases, the effect lost when he shivers and lets out a moan, Jeongguk brushing over his prostate.
“Don’t make me spank you.”
“Don’t act like I wouldn’t love that.”
Jeongguk laughs and experimentally nudges a third finger into Taehyung’s hole, falling dangerously in love with the noise that tumbles from Taehyung’s lips. His pace on Jeongguk’s dick becomes sporadic, torn between fucking down on Jeongguk’s fingers and focusing on his length.
“I’m good, I’m good,” Taehyung says hurriedly, wiggling as Jeongguk slips his fingers out. “You want a cherry or strawberry condom?”
“Strawberry it is, then.” Jeongguk’s hips buck as Taehyung rolls the condom down his length and coats him with a generous amount of lube, kneeling above Jeongguk’s lap to position himself. “Tell me if it’s too much.”
It is. It absolutely is too much as Taehyung slowly seats himself on Jeongguk’s cock, going slow. It’s too much, the tight, wet heat that sucks Jeongguk’s cock in as it breaches the first ring of muscle. Jeongguk can’t help the choked cry he lets out, more than a little overwhelmed by the obscene pleasure that overtakes his senses. His grip on Taehyung’s hips is tight, moans unsteady, and his eyes fall shut as Taehyung bottoms out.
“Oh my God ,” Jeongguk whines, throwing his head back. Taehyung kisses down Jeongguk’s chest as he adjusts, taking Jeongguk’s nipple between his teeth and his back arches, a moan falling from his lips. He hadn’t even known he liked that.
“Not too loud, Guk-ah.” Taehyung reminds him, dragging his tongue up Jeongguk’s neck to kiss him again. “Hobi’s room is pretty far, but we don’t want to risk it.”
“R-right,” Jeongguk whimpers. “You feel so good, hyung.”
“You, too, Jeongguk. Such a good cock. Now show me you can use it.”
Digging his heels into the mattress, Jeongguk thrusts up as Taehyung drops his hips again, settling into a messy rhythm that doesn’t give Jeongguk much time to catch his breath. He gasps each time Taehyung grinds against him, chest heaving beneath Taehyung’s nails and teeth. He’s absolutely overcome by all of it, by the wet moans that Taehyung breathes against the shell of Jeongguk’s ear, the stutters in his pace whenever Jeongguk hits his prostate.
Taehyung kisses him when his noises get too loud, crying out Taehyung’s name and trembling against the sheets, back flushed with sweat. Part of him wants to slow this down, to take his time to map out the constellations written in the freckles dotting Taehyung’s skin, to kiss each spot and find every inch of skin that Taehyung likes to have touched, but this is the pace Taehyung sets. He grinds harsh and fast, dropping his hips and staining Jeongguk’s skin red where his nails bite into it. It’s not exactly how Jeongguk imagined their first time, on those nights he’d get a little drunk and lose himself wondering if Taehyung ever thought of him this way, but it’s still so good . Taehyung sucks on his tongue and swivels his hips in a way that Jeongguk thinks might just kill him, and he can’t help but lose himself in Taehyung entirely.
Bringing his hands to Taehyung’s ass, he spreads his cheeks and swallows the appreciative groan that Taehyung feeds into his mouth. Jeongguk can feel, when he hesitantly moves his fingers, where his cock slides into Taehyung’s ass with every thrust, and just that knowledge alone nearly has Jeongguk coming too soon.
“Shit, hyung-” Jeongguk cries out as Taehyung nips at his ear, clenching his ass on Jeongguk’s cock. “Fuck, oh Tae . I’m not going to last- ah-”
“Yeah?” Taehyung hums, dipping his head to lick hotly up Jeongguk’s neck before kissing him once, twice. He lowers his body, changing the angle that Jeongguk thrusts into him, moaning into Jeongguk’s mouth. “Are you close, baby? Love fucking me that much?”
“ Yes . ” Jeongguk keens, relying on Taehyung’s lips on his to keep his volume down.
He’d given up on that long ago, unashamed to let Taehyung know exactly how good he made Jeongguk feel. He wants this every day for the rest of his life, knows it’s a ridiculous expectation considering the nature of their relationship- or, lack thereof. Because even though Jeongguk would give anything to have this, to get Taehyung fucking deep inside of him, tracing his sated, sweaty skin or waking him up with soft kisses in the warm sunlight of the morning, he doesn’t know if Taehyung feels the same. He wants to believe that Taehyung does.
Taehyung draws one of Jeongguk’s nipples between his teeth, making him sob with pleasure. He forgets, briefly, where his thoughts were going, and loses himself in Taehyung again. He’ll cross those bridges eventually. Or never, if that’s what Taehyung wants.
He doesn’t know where he finds the courage, but Jeongguk suddenly tightens his arms around Taehyung’s waist, rolling them over and putting everything he has into another kiss with Taehyung. Legs tight around Jeongguk’s waist, Taehyung throws his arms around Jeongguk’s neck to keep him close as Jeongguk fucks into him sloppily, losing all sense of his rhythm in the feel of Taehyung’s body beneath his. The smooth thighs beneath Jeongguk’s palm. The intoxicating taste of his neck between Jeongguk’s teeth.
“ God , Jeongguk.” Taehyung moans, clinging onto Jeongguk’s hair.
“Gonna come,” Jeongguk hisses, sucking a mark onto Taehyung’s skin. “Hyung, I’m so- shit - close. I need- need to come, please-”
“Come for me, Jeongguk. Come, baby,” Taehyung whispers, feeding the words into Jeongguk’s mouth. His hips snap painfully against Taehyung’s until his entire body tenses, and he’s coming with a poorly muffled whine of Taehyung’s name against his collarbone, all but collapsing against Taehyung’s body.
“Tae- that was. Oh my, God -” Taehyung wiggles a little beneath him, humming in agreement, but Jeongguk feels his hard cock against his abdomen and pulls back in mildly disguised horror. “You didn’t come.”
“It’s okay,” Taehyung says quickly, trying to draw Jeongguk’s face back to his for a kiss, but Jeongguk’s pouting too much to make much of a contribution. “Jeongguk. Don’t worry about it-”
Jeongguk ignores his ramblings, carefully pulling out of Taehyung and sliding down his body to take Taehyung’s cock into his mouth. Taehyung curses, legs straining where Jeongguk holds them apart with his palms. He swallows down the entire length, spurred on by the moans that tumble from Taehyung’s lips, the way he grips Jeongguk’s hair like a lifeline. Jeongguk can tell that he’s close, worked up from getting fucked, body taut and voice breaking before he’s coming hard down Jeongguk’s throat.
Kissing up Taehyung’s thighs after swallowing, Jeongguk keeps going until he can press a kiss to Taehyung’s lips. And then another, just because he can.
“Shit, Jeongguk-ah.” Taehyung sighs, brushing away the hair that falls into Jeongguk’s eyes. “You weren’t kidding about that blowjob thing.”
“Yeah,” Jeongguk grins, a little smug. But it falls quickly. “Sorry I couldn’t… couldn’t make you come without it.”
“Hey. Don’t apologize for that, for your first time fucking a dude you did really well.”
“Really?” He asks, preening a little under the praise.
“Absolutely. Now pass me my shirt, the lube is cooling.”
Jeongguk misses the warmth of his body the second he steps out of bed, picking up Taehyung’s crumpled shirt from the floor. “I’ll just grab a towel from the bathroom.”
“And risk waking everyone up? Pass the shirt and get back here to cuddle me.”
“You shut your mouth.”
Grinning, Jeongguk tosses Taehyung his shirt before peeling off the condom and tossing it in the nearby trash. He grimaces, planning a heartfelt apology to Hoseok should the evidence be discovered, but for now it’s none of his concern. Jeongguk’s only concern is Taehyung, and the warm skin that waits for him in the bed.
Jeongguk tugs on his boxers and crawls back into bed, shoving his face against Taehyung’s chest as Taehyung laughs quietly and draws him close, both loose-limbed and sated. He feels Taehyung kiss the top of his head, and can’t remember a recent time when he was happier.
“Tae?” Taehyung hums, his fingers dancing a slow waltz across Jeongguk’s back. “Why do you travel so much?”
“I like to get away from the stress of the city. There’s something really freeing about getting lost in a country where you don’t know the language, where no one's chasing you down about deadlines. Taking pictures of flowers like they’re all you need.”
Jeongguk props his head on his fist, splaying his hand over Taehyung’s heart. “You never told me what you do.”
“Marketing,” Taehyung sighs. “Double majored in marketing and business, graduated when I was nineteen and immediately started working in the city. I stayed back a few extra days when the company went to Italy, and fell in love with traveling on my own, for pleasure instead of business. I dreamed of doing art when I was a kid. This is as close as I’m going to get.”
“I’m sorry,” Jeongguk whispers, ducking his head to kiss Taehyung, slow and deep.
“Don’t be sorry for my actions, Jeongguk-ah.” Hooking his hand around Jeongguk’s waist, Taehyung pulls him close and holds him like he’s terrified Jeongguk will disappear like smoke in the night. “I don’t regret any of it.”
“Can I take you for coffee in the morning?” Jeongguk blurts, trying to hide his blush by yanking the duvet to cover their bodies.
“I don’t drink coffee.”
“Oh- shit, uh. Then-”
Taehyung quiets him with a soft, wistful kiss, the taste of something sad sticking at the back of Jeongguk’s throat. “We’ll talk later, okay? It’s so late now.”
Still, they talk about nothing of importance, just the quiet exchange of words in the aftermath of sharing such deep pleasure. Jeongguk asks about Taehyung’s favorite video game and is absolutely offended when Taehyung replies that he was never allowed to play any. Taehyung asks about his family, is very quiet as Jeongguk raves about his mom.
They fall asleep like that, tangled in each other and talking until nothing more than quiet murmurs and hums fill the air between them, living and dying in the miniscule space between their fingers, linked on the pillow they share.
Jeongguk wakes up to a cold bed and the sound of something breaking inside the apartment. He ignores that second bit, stomach sinking with great force as he runs his hand over the sheets and comes to the conclusion that Taehyung had left hours ago. The sheets on his side were drawn up neatly, duvet tucked around Jeongguk’s body with care. He blinks his eyes open and swallows back the overwhelming disappointment he feels and sits up.
He can hear Jimin and Hoseok’s voices deeper in the apartment. The sun is shining brightly through the window, and it would be pleasant warmth on Jeongguk’s skin if he didn’t feel so cold. None of Taehyung’s clothes are on the floor, not even the come stained shirt, and it all feels like a particularly brutal dream.
Resisting the urge to pinch his arm, Jeongguk sighs. He should have known the sex last night was too good to be true. Taehyung was too good to be true.
There’s something on Taehyung’s pillow, Jeongguk notices as he’s getting dressed. He buttons his jeans and reaches for it- a note written hastily on a takeout menu that must have been lying around somewhere. He reads it once, and then again, throat closing alarmingly quickly as he tries to make sense of what it says.
If you’re reading this, it means I chickened out. I’m so, so sorry to do this to you. You have to know that leaving you was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I meant it when I said I wish I could give you everything. You deserve so much better than me.
I’m getting married today, Jeongguk-ah.
I’ve never met my future wife, so please don’t think of yourself as a cheater. There was no relationship to cheat on. The only one I’ve wanted was with you. If you never find it in yourself to forgive me, I’ll understand. I don’t regret any of it.
The only thing I regret is not telling you sooner, Jeongguk, because even if you can’t remember any of it, I love you, too.
I love you.
A tear blurs Taehyung’s nickname on the bottom of the menu and Jeongguk chokes on his inhale, hurriedly wiping it away from the page and then brushing his palm below his eyes. He’d thought… he’d really thought he had a chance; that the love he’d harbored for so long could bloom into something beautiful. Instead, it had burned into something devastating, and Jeongguk feels that soot trying to climb up his throat, the bile threatening to make him sick.
He stumbles out of the room, everything reminding him too much like Taehyung and the menu crumpling in his hand as he hurries to the front door. But he can’t remember the layout of Hoseok’s apartment, and really; he never stood a chance to get out without being noticed.
Hoseok is trying to keep a weary Jimin on his feet, grumbling something that Jeongguk can’t hear as he tightens Jimin’s tie. They’re both dressed impeccably, in dark suits with their hair done nicely. Jimin looks like a truck hit him, but even then he manages to pull the look off. Both of them startle when Jeongguk tries to leave, Hoseok jumping over the coffee table to get to him, to steady him when his legs threaten to give out.
“Shit, Jeongguk. What the fuck happened- where is your shirt? Are you okay?”
“Leave me alone,” Jeongguk mutters, but the bite is lost in the gurgle of tears.
“What happened to you?”
“Why are you dressed up?” Jeongguk asks instead. His vision is blurry and his cheeks are wet, but he can still see that Hoseok looked too well put-together for an easy Saturday morning. He knows the answer. God, he wishes he didn’t know the answer.
Jimin takes Jeongguk’s face between his palms, wiping at his tears. He smells like wine and vomit when he speaks, but Jeongguk figures it’ll take a bit more than one brushing before the aftermath of last night is gone for good. “We’ve got Tae’s wedding this morning.”
“Which we’re late for, by the way.” Hoseok cuts in, glaring sharply at Jimin. “What kind of best man gets himself drunk instead of the groom?”
“The kind whose marriage just fucking ended, hyung .” Jimin snarls back, adding the honorific bitingly. He sighs, running a hand through his hair. “Sorry. I think I’m still a little drunk.”
“You get a pass, but we really need to get going. Jeongguk, do we need to stop by your apartment?”
Jeongguk blinks. His throat hurts when he speaks again. “For what?”
“Your suit?” Hoseok replies, like it should be obvious. “Unless you were planning on wearing the shit you slept in.”
“Wait, Jeongguk.” Jimin still hasn’t let go of Jeongguk’s face, and he’s sure he’s not doing a good job hiding his inner turmoil, but he can’t bring himself to care. He just lost Taehyung for good. “Did Taehyung not invite you? He talks about you nonstop, I honestly thought he would replace me as best man for you.”
His voice breaks as he says, “He never told me he was getting married.”
He knows they can see the bruises likely littering his chest and collarbones, the only evidence Jeongguk has that last night even happened. Hoseok cups his hand at the back of Jeongguk’s neck. He needs to leave now, before he breaks in front of his friends. Jeongguk has always been strong, shouldering as much of the weight of the world as he could so as not to let anyone else feel burdened. Now he just wants to let the world crush him into dust.
“What a piece of shit,” Hoseok says.
Jeongguk winces. “Please don’t.”
Because even now, clutching a crumpled piece of paper and reeling with the aftermath, Jeongguk can’t find it in himself to hate Taehyung. Maybe Taehyung will be okay with being friends again. Even if Jeongguk doesn’t have his love, at least he would have Taehyung in his life.
“Okay, get dressed,” Jimin says. “Hobi hyung, get him a shirt.”
“We’re going to this wedding,” Jimin says, eyes hard. “And you’re getting your man.”
Twenty minutes later finds Hoseok driving through the busy Seoul traffic, Jimin clutching the door handle for dear life. It’s not that Hoseok is a bad driver, but Jimin’s already been sick twice this morning, and his drunkenness is starting to wear off to being horribly hungover. Jeongguk can barely focus on it, sitting in the backseat with his hands clasped between his thighs, legs shaking.
“I want answers,” Jeongguk says, trying to sound demanding. He folds and unfolds Taehyung’s note for the tenth time. “Why wouldn’t he tell me?”
Jimin sighs, glancing at Jeongguk in the rearview mirror. “Taehyung’s always been horrible at facing his problems. It doesn’t excuse his actions, of course, but maybe it can help you understand.”
“He wrote that he hasn’t met his bride yet.”
“It’s an arranged marriage,” Jimin explains. “His parents set it up six months ago, and Taehyung came back from three months in Sicily to fight them over it. He’s set to inherit his family’s electronics company, but his father refuses to hand it over unless Taehyung is married with a guaranteed heir on the way. Instead of telling his dad that he never wanted the company, he’s fucked off to as many countries as possible for as long as possible.” Jimin groans when Hoseok hits a particularly hard pothole, rubbing his temples. “I thought he’d stand up to his father after he met you, but I guess not.”
“He was scared, I think.” Jeongguk murmurs.
“Scared or not,” Hoseok says, blowing through a yellow light. “He’s had plenty of chances to come clean to you, or tell his dad what he wants. He wasn’t fair to anyone, least of all himself.”
Jimin winces as Hoseok takes a sharp turn. “Speaking of coming clean. Do you have a plan, Jeongguk?”
The truthful answer is no. Because even if Jeongguk could never hate Taehyung, even if he’d drop everything for him in a heartbeat, that only works if Taehyung is willing to meet him halfway. And their tryst last night might not have hurt anyone (his own feelings exempt) but the same can’t be said if they meet again in the future and Taehyung is married with kids on the way.
Jeongguk just wants to talk to Taehyung, to hash things out, maybe to ask why Taehyung had written I love you, too instead of just I love you . He can get his closure and finally start to move on from Taehyung. Years of pining certainly take their toll.
Hoseok parks in the last empty spot in front of a gorgeous, tall chapel. The brick building is intimidatingly beautiful and very obviously expensive, the exact place Jeongguk knows Taehyung wouldn’t want to get married in. It’s too extravagant, too much. Jeongguk would bet his left foot that there would be no laser tag at this wedding ceremony. Would bet his memory foam mattress that Taehyung had no say in how this wedding would play out. He follows Jimin and Hoseok into the building, Jimin explaining that Jeongguk was his plus one for the wedding to the man standing by the doors.
“Shit, we’re so late.” Hoseok says, checking his phone. “Jimin, you remember where you were supposed to go, right?”
Jimin nods. “I’ll try to stall the ceremony. Jeongguk, think about what you’re going to say.”
He can’t, truthfully. Jeongguk’s heart is threatening to jump right out of his chest and run screaming out of the chapel. Last night it had all seemed so simple. He would wake up in Taehyung’s arms, ask him out on a proper date, and try this thing out for real. But now, just behind the double doors that Hoseok and Jimin are standing in front of is a life waiting for Taehyung that has exactly zero Jeongguk in it.
Jeongguk doesn’t think there are any words that can help him in this situation. What can he say to someone he’s never confessed to when they’re about to be married to someone else? Please leave your secure job and fixed future for some uncertainty with me?
Hoseok curses. “Jimin says the ceremony already started. He’s going to get into his position next to Taehyung, but they’re almost at the vows.”
Jeongguk’s spirits sink and then he squares his shoulder. He quit his job because things weren’t going his way. He’s been following Yoongi around at the studio because he was too uncertain to do things on his own. He hadn’t asked for Taehyung’s number for nearly a decade because he was afraid. He’s spent a lot of time running away.
He’s not going to run away from this.
“Jeongguk- hey! Jeongguk, what are you doing-!”
Jeongguk shoves the double doors open, stands at the head of the aisle in day old jeans and a crumpled shirt, his hair knotted and messy, Taehyung’s note still clutched in his fingers and he yells, “I object to the wedding!”
The entire congregation turns around to look at him, but Jeongguk is focused solely on Taehyung, standing at the altar and holding his fiancée’s hands. Jimin, standing just behind Taehyung, looks absolutely shocked. The expressions of the guests range from amused to incredibly pissed off. Jeongguk pays them no mind. Just like he doesn’t budge when Hoseok grabs his arm and tries to drag him out of the room. He’s not running.
“Well, uh.” The pastor looks to who Jeongguk assumes is Taehyung’s family, sitting in the front row. “We haven’t gotten to the objections part.”
Jeongguk falters, “O-oh. I’ll wait, then.”
He slips into an empty seat in the last pew, embarrassment burning hotly on his cheeks. Hoseok joins him; patting his back in what he’s sure is supposed to be supportive. When Jeongguk manages to raise his head again, Taehyung is staring at him instead of his soon to be wife, doing a very poor job of hiding his grin. Jeongguk smiles back. It goes like that: Taehyung paying very little attention to the ceremony and instead sneaking glances at Jeongguk where he tries to avoid the dirty looks from the guests.
Vows are exchanged, the audience shifting uncomfortably as the ceremony moves closer and closer to the final shot and objections. People keep turning around to glare at Jeongguk, but he won’t let them drive him away.
“If any of you has reasons why these two should not be married-”
“Me,” Jeongguk announces, standing up hurriedly. “I object. You know exactly why, Tae.”
Taehyung’s face breaks into an expression of such unadulterated relief that it nearly makes Jeongguk cry again . “I’m so glad you’re here, Guk-ah.” He brings the woman’s hands to his lips, kissing her knuckles slowly. “Sana, from what I gathered in the twenty minutes I’ve known you, you are very wonderful and very gay.”
Sana sputters a little, cheeks reddening. “I don’t want to know how you figured it out.”
Taehyung smiles at Jeongguk, standing shock still at the end of the aisle. “I speak from experience. Thank you all for coming, I’ll be keeping the good gifts. There’s still an open bar across the hall, please make sure to toast to me being written out of my father’s will.”
A man who bears a startling resemblance to Taehyung stands at the front of the room. “Taehyung. Kick this boy out and continue with the wedding, I will not let my son-”
“I’m tired of doing everything for you, dad,” Taehyung snaps. From behind him, Jimin squeezes his shoulder in silent support. “I spent years leaving my home, leaving a profession I enjoyed and a boy I began to love behind just to keep you quiet. I’m done. You have five children with two prostitutes to give the company to, instead. I don’t want it.”
Gasps of horror echo through the room, but there’s nothing quite as loud as Taehyung’s mother standing up to scream accusations in her husband’s face. Taehyung ignores it all, bumping his fist against Jimin’s before taking off down the aisle, grabbing Jeongguk’s hand as the two of them run out of the church. They make quite a pair, Jeongguk thinks, as they descend the stairs at the front of the building. Taehyung in an expensive suit and running away from a multimillion-dollar marriage, and Jeongguk in borrowed clothes, looking like he’d had more than a rough night. Seoul doesn’t stop for them, no deceleration of time as they run away from Taehyung’s wedding.
Taehyung stops them at the bottom of the steps, grasping desperately at Jeongguk’s face and pulling him into a messy kiss, his desires and regrets and ambitions spelled into every press of his mouth to Jeongguk’s.
“I’m sorry,” Taehyung says between kisses. He presses his lips to Jeongguk’s nose, his chin, both his cheeks, his eyelids, before returning to his mouth again. “I’m so sorry, Jeongguk. I wanted to tell you, fuck I’ve wanted to tell you how I felt for years. But I- I didn’t, I never knew what to say . Jimin always told me I was a coward, I’m so sorry I almost left you-”
“It’s okay, hyung.”
“I forgive you.”
“Would you stop?” Jeongguk curves his hands over Taehyung’s waist, draws him closer. “You can make it up to me, if you really want to. We have all the time in the world.”
Taehyung hums, kissing Jeongguk again. When they break apart, Taehyung takes his hand and leads him in the direction of the parking lot. “I really like the sound of that. But I think we should do it right, let me take you out on a proper first date?”
“Holy shit- yes.” It’s all Jeongguk has wanted. Taehyung stops in front of a sleek black motorcycle, handing Jeongguk a helmet before putting on his own. “Jesus,” he says, struggling with the strap on his helmet. “Of course you ride a motorcycle. Badass rebel.”
Taehyung snorts. “Got something against motorcycles?”
“This is just… every wet dream I had in high school coming back to haunt me at once.”
“Tell you what.” Taehyung tugs on Jeongguk’s waistband. They can’t kiss with the helmets on. The realization makes Jeongguk pout. “You ever been to Bali?” When Jeongguk shakes his head, he continues. “That’s where my honeymoon was supposed to be. What do you say to a first date in Bali?”
“That sounds… Tae, that sounds amazing.”
“Then we can come home and fuck against my bike,” Taehyung grins; barking out a laugh at the flat expression Jeongguk fixes him with. “And on my balcony. In a proper bed, I’m not letting you leave my bed for at least three days. Maybe six.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Jeongguk settles on the bike behind Taehyung, wrapping his arms tight around Taehyung’s waist as Taehyung starts up the bike.
“Hope you’re ready for the ride of your life, Jeon Jeongguk.”
Jeongguk laughs, throwing his head back and feeling light. “You’re ridiculous!”
He can picture the grin on Taehyung’s lips. “But you love me anyway.”
“Yeah,” Jeongguk agrees, before Taehyung is pulling into traffic and the wind keeps them from being able to hear each other. “I really do.”
Taehyung and Jeongguk have an agreement during their trips, and that agreement is that for at least one day they’ll ditch their phones and focus solely on each other. And Jeongguk has been very good about sticking to that agreement, only fucked up once in Greece when he was going to lose a high score on a game, but this time he can’t help it.
In his defense, they’re not technically on a trip anymore. They’d just gotten back from a week in New Zealand, having stumbled into Taehyung’s loft shortly before the sun was to rise. (Turns out, Jeongguk learned on the plane to Bali, Taehyung’s mom had helped set aside a fund for Taehyung, disagreeing with her husband on how he’d chosen to raise their son. Now that she’d divorced Taehyung’s dad, Taehyung was sending back a lot of what he made to her in Daegu every month, but the gallery he’d finally opened at the beginning of the year was starting to turn serious profit, and Taehyung’s happiness at finally doing what he loved made all of it worthwhile.)
Jeongguk had gotten a call after only a few hours of sleep, answering it on the balcony and rubbing his eyes with the sleeve of Taehyung’s shirt. What he’d been told over the phone, however, had all traces of exhaustion disappearing from his bones, and the second he’d hung up he’d thrown himself back onto the bed, poking at Taehyung’s face to wake him up.
“Tae.” An unintelligible grumble. “Hyung.” Nothing. “Tae hyung .”
Taehyung catches Jeongguk’s wrist when he goes to poke again, cracking open one eye. “I fucked you in New Zealand not even twenty-four hours ago. I’m not doing it now.”
“No- Tae, that’s not it,” Jeongguk laughs, trying to pry Taehyung’s hands away from his face.
Taehyung swats weakly at Jeongguk’s face in feeble attempt to fight him off. “Babe, I love you, but I really love sleep more.”
“Hyung, I have a release date.”
Silently, with bated breath, Jeongguk watches Taehyung’s brow furrow before understanding dawns, and his mouth opens and closes, then opens again. “You-”
“You do? Really?”
Jeongguk nods, his cheeks sore from how widely he’s grinning. “You kept telling me to approach different companies with the game and I- I did. I didn’t really think. I never thought it would happen. My video game is really going to be released.”
“Jeongguk, that’s amazing!” Taehyung loops his arms around Jeongguk’s waist, pulling him down onto the soft, silk sheets and kissing all over his face. “You deserve it, truly. Who picked it up?”
“Bangtan Electronics,” Jeongguk whispers, still in awe that one of the biggest designing companies wanted his product. “I think I’m in shock, am I still smiling?”
“Yes, and it’s beautiful.” Taehyung pinches his cheek, cooing obnoxiously. “Wait, Bangtan Electronics? I sucked their CEO’s dick in college.”
“Okay, fuck you.” Jeongguk rolls his eyes, trying to shove Taehyung’s arms away as Taehyung chokes on his laughter. “It’s not funny, you prick. That’s a conflict of interest, what if they pull my project-!”
“I’m kidding,” Taehyung manages between wheezes. “I’m kidding, babe. When we wake up this afternoon we’re ordering expensive champagne and inviting everyone over to celebrate. My baby’s going to have his game on every shelf in Korea.”
Jeongguk squirms a little under all of the praise and Taehyung’s hand stroking beneath his shirt. “Not every shelf, hyung.”
“It will be if Yoongi and I have anything to do with it.”
Shoving his face in Taehyung’s shoulder, Jeongguk breathes out all of the stress he’d been carrying in his shoulders since he first started pitching his game to developers again, all at Taehyung and Yoongi’s insistence. “I’m just so happy. I don’t know what could make this better.”
“I know one thing,” Taehyung says, and Jeongguk has a pretty good idea of where this is going.
“Eating my ass-”
“-Move in with me.”
Jeongguk’s eyes go comically wide, Taehyung’s lips flattening in an attempt to hold back another wave of laughter. “I-hyung.”
“We just celebrated our two year, most of your stuff is here, anyway. It’s closer to Yoongi hyung’s studio and Bangtan Electronics, and we can have loud, kinky sex without worrying about paying Hoseok hyung and Jimin to leave the apartment for the night-”
“They went on a date last week.”
“Good for them. That doesn’t help me eat your ass anymore often.”
Jeongguk swats at Taehyung’s chest. “Is that all you think about?”
“No.” Taehyung grins. “Sometimes you’re the one eating my ass.”
“Oh my God .”
“I’m serious, Jeongguk-ah.” Taehyung rests his linked hands at the small of Jeongguk’s back. “I love you, and I love coming home from work to you being here. I want it all the time. Want to kiss your face and call you when I’m in a different country. Want you to pick me up from the airport and sext me during meetings. All that jazzy romance.”
The decision is easy. “Yes.”
“Of course I’ll move in with you, hyung. Your loft is like, way nicer than my apartment.”
“I’m sure I’ll be offended by that when I’ve had more than an hour of sleep.” Taehyung flops unceremoniously onto his stomach, his arm thrown over Jeongguk’s waist.
Jeongguk kisses the shell of his ear. “Love you, too, Tae. Sleep well.”
There’s a ring burning holes in Jeongguk’s jacket pocket back at his apartment, waiting for Jeongguk to muster up the strength to endure another wedding to ask. And though he’s managed to convince himself lately that he can’t stand weddings, he can’t bring himself to hate them when they’re what brought him and Taehyung together in the first place.
He’d endure a million more weddings if it meant having Taehyung at his side, spelling love in the way he fits his fingers between Jeongguk’s.
“Hm,” Taehyung rubs his thumbs in soothing circles on Jeongguk’s hips, smiling lightly. Jeongguk had thought he’d fallen back asleep. “I’m so glad you confessed at Yoongi hyung’s wedding.”
“Wait-what?” Jeongguk props his elbows on Taehyung’s chest. “What are you talking about? You confessed first.”
“Goodnight, Jeongguk-ah.” He giggles, eyes closed and pretending to snore.
“Hyung, no- I know you’re not asleep. Don’t pretend you can’t hear me, Tae. Tae! When did I ever confess-!”