It’s 6 o’clock on a Friday evening at Taehyung is exhausted. This Friday evening is not unlike the last Friday evenings that Kim Taehyung has worked. The office is alive with anticipation for their weekend plans and admittedly, Taehyung can’t keep his mind off his own schedule for the night after another tiring ass week at work.
Letting his eyes fall shut for a few seconds of what he hopes will be peace, he massages his neck and hears the door to his office open slowly, as though his visitor was afraid to disturb Taehyung in the midst of his Friday afternoon laziness.
He expects his assistant, Jennie, but his eyes are met with a mop of messy, light brown hair that he could recognize anywhere. More than that, his nose is met with the smell of the promise of relief in the form of caffeine. Carrying two cups of coffee, Park Jimin makes his way into the chair in front of Taehyung’s desk as he wordlessly sets the cupholder down. Taehyung’s best friend tilts his head to one side, eyes investigative, scanning over Taehyung’s tired eyes, stiff neck, and Taehyung’s deep sigh as he picks up one of the cups.
A few moments of silence pass as Jimin continues to observe Taehyung’s workspace.
“Let’s go”, Jimin decides, standing up abruptly and walking around to Taehyung’s side of the table.
Jimin engulfs Taehyung in what he thinks might be the biggest hug he has ever received, as Jimin wraps his arms around him and nuzzles his head into the crook of Taehyung’s neck. As cringey as it is, the familiar scent of strawberries makes Taehyung smile into Jimin’s arms. At twenty-four years old, hugs from his best friend are still the only thing that can chase away any grey clouds brewing in Taehyung’s mind.
Taehyung says something muffled, making Jimin uncurl himself and stand up straight. “What?”
“I still have some things to finish up,” he lies. “Thanks for the coffee, where did you come from?”
“From home. My soulmate senses were telling me that you were stuck in here shrivelling up and that if I waited any longer, I’d find nothing but a suit. Rest in peace, Kim Taehyung, death by overworking.”
At this, Taehyung smiles and knows Jimin’s right, he’s done for the day, but all he gets out is, “you’re stupid.”
Jimin grins, his eyes turning into crescents. “You know I’m right. Walking into this room, even I knew I was right. Plus, we gotta look good for tonight. A few of Seokjin’s other friends are coming and I don’t want the only two people at my funeral to be you and him. That’s pathetic.”
Packing some files and a laptop into his suitcase, Taehyung scoffs. “You have plenty of friends. Besides, you’d be lucky if the two of us even showed up to your funeral.”
They continue to bicker on the way to Jimin’s car, playful quarrel coming to an end once they get on the road. And as Jimin drives fast along the highway, playing some lo-fi he’s been recently listening to, Taehyung lets his mind wander, and he wonders if anyone but Jimin and Seokjin would show up to his funeral.
“Get your ass out of the bathroom in five minutes or we’re really going to be late!” Jimin is yelling from the living room of their penthouse as he makes some last minute adjustments to his hair in the reflection of the balcony door. The two have lived together since university, as roommates, and then together still as they moved into the top floor of one of Taehyung’s father’s buildings after graduating. Jimin had majored in dance from Seoul Academy of the Arts, and Taehyung with a degree in Fine Arts, specializing in Photography. Having been the heir of Kim Incorporated since he was born, Taehyung also has a Bachelor of Commerce that he studied for at the same time as his arts degree, at the request of his father.
It is nothing surprising to say that Taehyung is good at what he does, he was raised to only expect the best for himself, at any cost. He excelled in school, building his reputation and at getting the right connections, which is all that he was told had mattered. A life of wealth and success earned from hard work and determination, a beautiful, couple-million won apartment in the heart of Seoul, CEO of one of the largest conglomerates in Asia, Taehyung couldn’t complain.
And yet, here he was, staring at his reflection over the bathroom sink, with a vacant feeling in his chest to which he can’t put a name. So he blinks a couple times and tells himself to put on a face just for the next few hours. Tonight, he opted for a light blue dress shirt and some black slacks. He hears Jimin yell something unintelligible, so he leaves the bathroom after one last sigh in the mirror, somehow feeling less excited to go out and a stronger desire to curl up in his bed for the rest of the weekend.
The tiny tug in his gut telling him to stay home suddenly shuts up as soon as he sees Jimin standing by the door, an angry look on his face. His best friend is clad in all black, a leather jacket and his blond hair is styled perfectly tonight, exposing the tiniest bit of his forehead. Jimin’s classic going-out look. He remembers what Jimin said about wanting to make a good impression tonight, and he realizes that’s why he must look so cute. Well, everything but his expression.
“Sorry sorry sorry”, Taehyung giggles as he rushes to grab his keys and Jimin’s hand as he leads them both to the elevator.
Still holding hands, Taehyung presses the button to the parking garage and looks at his angel of a best friend apologetically. “Don’t be mad, you said we had to look good.”
“Stop holding my hand, that’s gay.”
“Jimin, you are gay.”
“Yeah, well so are you, and this makes you even more gay than me.”
“I don’t think that’s possible.” Taehyung turns to Jimin and pouts. “I said I was sorry.”
Jimin glances at his pout from the corner of his eye and the slightest grin dances across his lips. “Fine. You’re driving us there.”
They get to the restaurant with two minutes to spare.
Taehyung and Jimin had met Seokjin in university, where he was studying to become an actor. Two years their senior, Seokjin was Jimin’s big when they were in Sigma Chi together, so naturally Taehyung had built a solid friendship with him too. It was his twenty-seventh birthday and for this year’s dinner, Seokjin had told them that he was going to invite some of his friends he had met while working in the media industry.
The hostess greets them with a large smile, her name tag reading ‘Mina’, “Hello! Welcome to Jungsik Seoul, do you have a reservation with us this evening?”
She’s cute. Taehyung smiles back at her. “Yeah, we’re here with Kim Seokjin? They might already be here.”
“Ah yes, you can follow me right this way!” Mina leads the two men down to the back of the restaurant and into the private room, already booming with laughter.
“You do this every year, Hoseok-ah, you know you don’t need to buy me anything,” Seokjin’s kind voice comes out on top of all the laughter. “Although, I’m glad you didn’t take it too seriously this time. Thanks for the gift, you fool.”
Taehyung and Jimin take seats next to each other at the large, circular table. Four other men surround Seokjin, Taehyung recognizing one of them as Hoseok, a dancer that attended SAA with them.
“Tae! Jiminie! You guys made it!” Seokjin stands up and hugs them. “Glad you’re here, thanks for coming.”
“Happy birthday, Jin-hyung!” Jimin looks Seokjin up and down before taking his seat. “What the hell is on your head.”
Taehyung glances up after greeting Seokjin and taking his seat, only to find a turkey hat sitting atop Seokjin’s hair.
“Hoseok’s present. Like it?” Seokjin giggles, the table erupting in laughter once again, Taehyung and Jimin included.
Taehyung takes his time to look around the table, greeting Hoseok and nodding at the rest of the guys he doesn’t recognize.
“Taehyung, Jimin, these are my friends that I met the past few years,” Seokjin introduces. “Kim Namjoon, he produced one of the songs whose music video I acted in. Min Yoongi, another producer, pretty big in the underground rap circle too.” Seokjin smiles as he looks over at them.
Slouching in his chair, Yoongi looks at the two of them and just nods, he’s smilling a little bit if Taehyung squints. Okay, maybe not so friendly, Taehyung takes a mental note.
Taehyung and Jimin nod and smile back at him, Taehyung noticing Jimin staring a bit too long at Seokjin’s silver-haired producer-slash-rapper friend.
Continuing with his introductions, Seokjin clears his throat. “This is Jung Hoseok, you remember him from school, he’s touring now, but made some time for his hyung’s birthday. And that’s Jeon Jeongguk, my favourite dongsaeng that I’ve met while acting.”
Taehyung turns and meets Jeungguk’s eyes, a shockingly handsome raven-haired man, Taehyung feels his breath hitch. Jeungguk seems unfazed. He smiles at Taehyung, bows, and turns to Jimin to do the same. “Nice to meet you two.” His voice is like velvet, Taehyung thinks. He forces himself to take his eyes away from probably the most handsome man he’s ever seen.
Jimin elbows Taehyung’s side, making him yelp. “What?”
“Do you have plans to ever join us tonight? Stop zoning out, Jin-hyung’s asking about the business.”
Taehyung is surprised, the three of them never talk work when they’re together. He feels like he should be professional now. “Kim Incorporated? Why, what’s up?”
“I don’t know, tell us about it. What you’ve been up to, these guys only have tonight to decide whether they like you or not, and I guess being CEO is a good place to start if you wanna impress my friends,” Seokjin grins.
Namjoon and Yoongi’s eyes widen in sync at the mention of CEO. “Ah, Jin-hyung, I forgot you mentioned him. No wonder you look so familiar,” Yoongi mutters the last part, seeming to be much more interested in Taehyung than when Seokjin had first introduced them.
This is what Taehyung hates. The disbelief when people first find out you’re a young CEO, as if it’s something so impossible. He works hard to get what he wants, what’s so difficult to understand about that? Taehyung spends his weeks grinding in the office, looking forward to a night out with his friends to drop his professional act, and hopefully relieve at least some of his pent-up anxiety and stress and —
“Dude, you’re doing it again.” Jimin gives him another nudge and Taehyung hears him apologize to the group on his behalf. “He had a really long week.”
“Oh! It’s all right, we shouldn’t talk about work anyways. Hoseok, have you ever seen Jiminie dance?” Seokjin continues. At this, Taehyung pushes his work-related anxiety, his socially-awkward related anxiety, and the rest of his anxiety away and decides it’s going to stay that way for the rest of the night. It’s not good to seem stressed-out, even when you are. Don’t seem high strung, people want relaxed and friendly. He remembers his father telling him how to make friends when he was younger. Maybe Jimin was right. Maybe tonight is a good night to make some friends.
Taehyung feels his face put on a faint smile and looks around where he’s seated, ready to join whatever conversation the guys are having.
He notices Jeongguk isn’t talking, albeit his face seems to show he’s invested in the excited discourse that Jimin and Hoseok are having about this new routine they were both interested in learning. “So what is it that you do, Jeongguk?” Taehyung pries. He pushes aside his thoughts about how cute this boy is when he must think nobody is watching him.
Jeongguk looks up and smiles, as if he’s coming back from a daydream. “Hm?”
Cute. “I asked what you do,” Taehyung replies.
Jeongguk nods. “Ah, sorry. I’m a lawyer, I work for the company as Jin-hyung’s signed with.”
“Ah, behind the scenes! Your company’s building is right across from Kim Tower.” Taehyung is surprised he’s never seen this man before, considering the proximity of their workplaces. And also, how good looking he is.
“That’s the one,” Jeongguk offers a charming smile, even though it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “I see you in the news quite a lot, they often question the future of your company after you stepped up.”
What the hell. Taehyung hides the fact that Jeongguk’s comment came out of nowhere and slapped him in the face.
Taehyung decides to lie, and he plays the overconfident card. “We’re used to the attention, it’s just talk. And as for the future, I work hard for what I want, that’s all it’s ever been. I think my efforts, along with the rest of the company’s, will be met in time.” Jeungguk’s face twists at Taehyung’s egoistic reply. He guesses that it was a pretty cocky thing to say. Whatever.
He looks young, Taehyung thinks. “Do you mind me asking how old you are?”
What the hell. “You’re out of law school at twenty-two?”
“Yeah. What about it, CEO?”
Taehyung realizes the irony of his question and feels heat rise to his cheeks. “I didn’t mean it that way.”
“I work hard for what I want, that’s all it’s ever been.”
For a second, Taehyung is scared he’s offended Jeongguk until the raven-haired man giggles in the cutest way a twenty-two year old can.
“Just kidding,” Jeongguk says, “we’re both successful. We can leave it at that.”
Taehyung learns that Jeungguk is from Busan and came to Seoul when he graduated high school, finished his degree in three years and started at BigHit as an entertainment attorney a few weeks after graduation. Taehyung recites his classic introduction, the art-school-and-business-degree-at-the-same-time story, inheriting one of the biggest companies in Korea, and the rest being history. Jeongguk is a good listener, nodding where he needs to, laughing when Taehyung makes a joke.
Although it was another shallow first conversation with a stranger that Taehyung can add to his list of shallow first conversations with strangers, it also happens to be one of the rare occasions that he hopes that this is not their last.
Taehyung and Jimin make it through the birthday dinner after a few drinks and some wholesome conversations getting to know the other men, who they warmed up to very quickly. It turns out Jimin and Hoseok were into the same style of dance, and have made plans to sign up for classes together in the following weeks. Seokjin’s friends learn that Taehyung is a photography major and subconsciously respect him at an even higher level after learning he was CEO of Kim Inc., because he is also an artist. Taehyung, Jimin and Seokjin share some stories about their frat days in university and the night comes to a close after some more stories about Jimin not being able to hold his liquor and Jimin consequently trying to prove that he can hold his liquor.
Taehyung stands to leave as everyone is wishing each other goodbye, and he can’t help but notice Jeongguk brooding near the outside of the group by the door. “Hey, it was nice meeting you. Maybe we’ll see each other around sometime on the way to work.” He offers a smile, and Taehyung swears he sees Jeongguk’s eyes sparkle as he turns to smile back at Taehyung.
“Yeah, hopefully we’ll see each other again. Good luck with the business stuff.”
“Good luck with the lawyer stuff.”
Taehyung listens to Jimin talk about how he all of a sudden thinks silver hair is extremely hot as they walk to the car, with Jeongguk’s soft smile still replaying in the back of his mind. On the drive home, he lets Jimin take the wheel, after hearing his roommate complain about how long it took for them to get there and how quickly he wants to change out of his clothes and pass the fuck out. With the window rolled three-quarters of the way down, Taehyung lets his hand move with the wind breezing past them as Jimin floors it on the freeway.
Taehyung lets out a sigh as he crawls into bed. He settles for calling tonight a success, he did end up making some new friends. And some actual, potential new friends, Taehyung thinks to himself. He did like the guys he met tonight, and it seemed as though they liked him too. His mind wanders to the raven-haired lawyer who really only looked like a boy lost in his thoughts when he thought no one was looking.
It’s only when Jeongguk’s wrapped in his blanket in the middle of his king sized bed and staring out the window of his bedroom, because he knows there’s no use in trying to sleep, that he realizes it really was nice to meet Kim Taehyung tonight, despite his chaebol-turned-CEO rich kid vibe. He wishes he could have talked to Taehyung longer, had his nerves not been flying through the roof. Jeongguk’s heart is still swelling a bit after thinking about those chestnut bangs and sky blue shirt. And at this, he can only hope that Taehyung believed him when he said he hoped they would see each other again.
It’s 11 o’clock on the next Friday night and Taehyung is exhausted. After a day full of meetings, Taehyung had barely gotten any work done at the end of an even busier week. Finding himself too tired to have a drink but too awake just to head straight home, he contemplates calling Jimin until he remembers his best friend talking about a dance class he’d be going to tonight, and decides that he should call it a night.
He drives home and replies to a few emails before getting into bed.
It’s 11:50 on a Friday night and Taehyung is exhausted.
And it’s at this time, when there are no more meetings to attend, no more messages from Jennie about who’s on line two, and no more emails to reply to, that Taehyung also recognizes a vacant feeling in his chest to which he can’t put a name.