TUESDAY, 8:51 PM | TAEHYUNG & JEONGGUK’S APARTMENT
Taehyung has a problem.
"Dude, you’re too... fuckin’ nice,” Jimin says slowly, letting out an exaggerated breath and massaging his temples disappointedly.
Across the table, Jeongguk nods his head in agreement.
That’s his problem, apparently.
Honestly, Taehyung doesn’t think there’s such thing as being “too nice”. As far as he’s concerned, he should be nice to everyone. All the time. Even the people he doesn’t like too much. Maybe that’s just how he was raised, and because of that it’s the only way he knows, but he always goes out of his way to make sure he doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
Taehyung can’t stand the look in someone’s eyes when he does something to let them down. The longer he looks them in the eye when trying to explain, the longer he ends up just giving in. Maybe he’s a bit of a push-over. Maybe. But he’s definitely not too nice .
Slapping his hand on the table, Taehyung says to Jeongguk, “You don’t get to agree with him when you’re the reason I’m in this mess!”
Innocently, Jeongguk bats his eyelashes and says, “Me?” Then, in a more serious tone, “You did this to yourself.”
Ask Taehyung what his problem is and he’d say it’s Jeongguk. Jeongguk is the one who forced him to join that stupid dating app. He’s the one that put in all of Taehyung’s information. He’s the one that picked Taehyung’s profile picture. He even wrote his damn mini-biography! Taehyung, 21, aspiring photographer... buy me dinner and I’ll let you be my muse (if you’re lucky).
It’s easier to say no through a phone screen, so he spent the first thirty minutes sliding his finger left to (respectfully) pass over any possible contenders. By minute thirty one and a half Jeongguk was a little tired of watching Taehyung say no over and over again. He had pushed Taehyung’s shoulder and told him he had to swipe right for someone. Anyone, really, just to add some excitement.
But Taehyung’s never been this shallow; he doesn’t know how to decide if he wants to date someone solely based on a strategically picked picture and some clickbait of a biography. He wants to actually get to know someone first. Meet them somewhere conventional like a bar or a campus party or Walmart. Maybe Taehyung’s actual problem is that he’s old-fashioned. Having the first step in dating someone being a sweep of a thumb seems too arbitrary.
Thirty-three minutes and a lot of added peer pressure later and Taehyung had finally swiped right for someone. Truthfully, Taehyung did it because he thought the guy looked remotely familiar. Like maybe he’d seen him in passing somewhere. And that faint feeling of vague familiarity made him feel slightly better about swiping right. Almost immediately, his phone vibrated in his hand and a notification popped up obnoxiously on the screen: It’s a Match! You and Daejung have liked each other!
Jeongguk was delighted. Taehyung was terrified.
Taehyung and Daejung had chatted in the app’s built-in instant messaging feature for a few hours. Daejung flirted, Taehyung played innocent. He messaged Taehyung goodnight and good morning. He did things like ask Taehyung about his day and seemed genuinely interested in Taehyung’s answers. They even started to get to know each other if asking for favorite colors, favorite foods, and most desired places to travel counts. It was only when they started talking about classes that Taehyung ran into his first problem: they have the same Thursday, 3 PM class. Modern Art. Professor Lee.
Taehyung had no problem chatting; because if he exited the app he could pretend it’s not there. He never actually planned on seeing any of the guys he matches with through it. Looking them in the eye makes it real. Taehyung isn’t sure if he wants it to be real.
“So what exactly are you gonna do when you see this guy on Thursday?” Jimin asks, eyebrow raised and smirking just slightly. He interlocks his fingers and rests his chin on them, interested in Taehyung’s escape plan. He seems amused.
Sighing, Taehyung admits, “I don’t know.”
Jimin says, shrugging, “It’s not too late to drop classes. The semester just started.”
That earns him an eye roll from Taehyung. He’s not gonna drop his class over this. It’s not that serious...he thinks.
“How the hell did you not know he was in your class already?” Jeongguk criticizes.
“I don’t know, there’s like two hundred people in that class!”
With the semester just a week old, the only thing Taehyung can remember about any of his classes is that he didn’t read the syllabus. School is pretty much a blur to him as it is, he definitely doesn’t take extra time memorizing his classmates' faces. Taehyung places himself toward the middle of the room to blend in, retains as much from the lectures as he can with minimal effort, and leaves.
Maybe he’s doing this whole college thing wrong, but he doesn’t take any extra time scoping out attractive people in his classes. As far as Taehyung is concerned, they’re all just suffering souls like him and the lecture hall is their shared torture chamber. They’re just lucky to make it out alive every week.
Jimin says, “It only gets awkward if you two make it awkward. So don’t make it awkward.”
Easier said than ddone, Taehyung thinks. It doesn’t help that Taehyung is terrible in these situations. He doesn’t date, and he has a really bad habit of keeping his emotions and possible interests to himself. So, historically, they’ve never become a problem.
A vibration shakes the table and Taehyung’s phone illuminates. Daejung’s name appears on the screen, followed by a message Taehyung doesn’t get to read because Jimin picks up the phone before he can.
Aloud, Jimin reads, “Wanna hang out after class this week? We should get drinks.”
Taehyung’s mouth goes dry.
Jeongguk pushes his bottom lip out and raises his eyebrows. Despite his facial expression, he stays silent.
“He moves fast,” Jimin comments. There’s something in Jimin’s tone that’s almost disapproving. Taehyung would’ve caught it if he was listening closely enough.
But he’s too busy internally panicking. He asks, looking almost frantically back and forth between the two, “What should I say?”
Handing the phone back over, Jimin tells him, “Say whatever you wanna say.”
That doesn’t help. Taehyung needs a word for word response to type out or he’s never going to answer— which is probably worse. Definitely ruder.
Almost pleadingly, Taehyung looks over at Jeongguk. He shrugs and says, “A free drink is a free drink, right?”
“You’re both useless,” Taehyung whines. He stares at the message on his phone for what feels like at least a decade before it’s being pried from his hands.
Jeongguk is mumbling, “Well if you’re not gonna say anything….” as he’s tapping his fingers on the screen in response. He hits send and slides Taehyung’s phone back to him with a satisfied expression on his face.
Taehyung reads his response:
Taehyung, 9:07 PM
what time? :)
And then Daejung, who is intimidatingly quick at responding:
Daejung, 9:07 PM
8? The bar on the east end of campus?
Taehyung, 9:13 PM
“You make me sound way too eager,” Taehyung critiques. The three exclamation points are a little much. He looks down at the thread of messages with a disgusted, horrified look on his face.
Jeongguk sucks his teeth. “Write the shit yourself next time then.”
WEDNESDAY, 7:00 AM | TAEHYUNG & JEONGGUK’S APARTMENT — TAEHYUNG’S BEDROOM
When Jimin sleeps over, he sleeps in Taehyung’s bed. That’s just what they’ve always done. Jeongguk has gotten to know them well enough not to question the things they do; and sometimes, if he’s honest, he thinks it’s better not to ask.
Being best friends since the first year of high school made them close. Taehyung and Jimin feel like they’ve been through everything together. They’ve spent most of their time sharing things with each other than their own family members, and that wasn’t going to stop just because they came to university. What’s Taehyung’s is Jimin’s, and vice versa.
Sickeningly, Taehyung’s alarm on his phone blasts. He set it for Jimin because Jimin never quite remembers before he goes to bed, and Taehyung always ends up regretting it. Being a good friend comes at a cost. Taehyung doesn’t even have class until noon.
“Jimin,” Taehyung mumbles into his pillow, only half-awake. “The alarm.”
Against his back, he feels Jimin’s warmth. Although he’s facing the other way, Jimin has an arm over Taehyung’s side. It’s comfortable. The two of them fit well. Truthfully, they always have.
He hears Jimin groan. Whoever invented 8 AM classes should be ashamed of themselves.
Still, the alarm blares and Taehyung thinks his skin is actually beginning to crawl.
He says louder, “Jimin, the alarm.”
Sleepily, Jimin answers, “Hit the snooze.”
Blindly, with his face still planted against his pillow, Taehyung searches for his phone. He slaps his hand against the screen until it registers his finger against the snooze button, allowing them ten extra minutes. Taehyung rolls over, phone in hand, and rests it next to Jimin’s ear on his pillow.
When it rings again, Jimin has no choice but to shut it off. He does it quickly, in an attempt to spare Taehyung this time, but he seemingly sleeps through it anyway. He does all he can not to wake Taehyung up, and presses his tongue against the inside of his cheek for balance and grace. In slow, careful movements Jimin replaces Taehyung’s phone back on the nightstand beside the bed.
With his coordination level at a minimum, Jimin quickly dresses (his pants, Taehyung’s shirt) and combs his hair until it looks semi-decent. Despite that, he pulls on a black beanie. It takes him an extra five minutes to find his shoes and to remember that he left his bag on the kitchen table. Jimin grabs his phone from off the side of the bed, then gently gives Taehyung more of the blanket now that he’s the only occupant.
On his tiptoes, Jimin heads for the door. He opens it slowly, knowing Taehyung’s door is notorious for squeaking. Jimin freezes when he hears Taehyung mumble, “Have a good day, Jiminie.”
When Jimin looks back, Taehyung is curled up with the blanket nearly over his head. He’s completely still, breathing rhythmically, and Jimin begins to question if he said anything at all. But from past experience, Taehyung has a very cute habit of wishing Jimin a good day before he leaves in the morning. Jimin isn’t sure if Taehyung even remembers saying it, but he always does.
“See you later, TaeTae,” Jimin whispers back as he closes Taehyung’s door.
Jimin doesn’t know why, but he smiles all the way to class.
WEDNESDAY, 2:33 PM | A SLICE OF LIFE, CAMPUS PIZZERIA
Jimin has Taehyung’s usual order waiting for him by the time he arrives. Pepperoni, extra cheese, and a Coca-Cola. He sets it up nicely on their usual table in the back of the pizzeria. Each with a napkin, and a sugar packet for Taehyung to mix into his soda— as if it didn’t make him hyper enough.
From across the loud and crowded room, Jimin spots Taehyung entering. He seems preoccupied; head lowered as he’s texting and walking. Taehyung maneuvers through bodies, only mumbling a half-sincere apology whenever he bumps into someone. But it’s college and everyone is used to existing within inches of each other, so no one truly bats an eye when Taehyung accidentally invades their personal space bubble.
Amused, Jimin rests his chin on his hand and watches Taehyung nearly stumble his way toward the small flight of stairs to reach the upper level of the pizzeria. He looks up briefly once, when he gets close to his and Jimin’s table, and shoots Jimin a quick smile.
“Everything okay?” Jimin asks once he’s in earshot. But Taehyung’s got tunnel vision on his phone right now and seemingly doesn’t hear him.
Taehyung shrugs his shoulders to remove his book bag and lets it drop to the floor carelessly. He’s still texting; standing beside his chair instead of sitting in it as he types away. Jimin rolls his eyes. Just a little bit.
Clearing his throat to get Taehyung’s attention, Jimin says, “Earth to Taehyung.”
Looking up with his eyes wide, Taehyung says, “Huh?” Then, setting his phone on the table and himself in the chair, “Sorry, um. Hi. How’re you?”
“Hi,” Jimin replies, laughing a little. “And I think the better question is: how are you?”
The first thing Taehyung does is open the sugar packet and add it to his soda. He stirs it in as he says back, “Me? I’m okay. It’s just— this guy, I don’t know. He’s very...I don’t know.”
Jimin raises his eyebrows. “He getting pushy with you?”
Instantly, Jimin’s defenses are up. His facial expressions quickly darken and his eyes narrow in Taehyung’s direction. His Taehyung lie detector switches to high gear, analyzing his mannerisms. It’s cute, really. Taehyung can’t help but scrunch his nose at how quick Jimin is to protect him.
Back in high school, it was a bit of the opposite: Taehyung standing up for Jimin, Taehyung making sure Jimin felt comfortable, Taehyung being Jimin’s safety net. It’s still that way because their relationship has always been reciprocal, but back then Jimin was shy and Taehyung was popular and they fell into a pattern.
Nowadays, Jimin finds himself looking out for Taehyung more. It was natural, the way they switched roles gradually. They got older and Jimin began to feel the need to guard that something inside of Taehyung that he always knew was rare and unique. Because Taehyung is good. He’s special. If Jimin can help it, he wants to maintain that. And the world, he’s learned, is not quite as kind-hearted as his best friend.
But Taehyung is waving his hand to shoo away Jimin's jumped conclusion. With a smile, he says, “No it’s not that, he’s just…so eager.”
Slowly, Jimin sits back in his seat to listen.
Taehyung continues. “He texts quicker than anyone I know and he just keeps talking about how... happy he is to see me in class tomorrow, and to go to the bar, and—“
“Let me know when you get to the bad part,” Jimin jumps in sarcastically. He takes a sip of his soda and adds, “Honestly, dude, he sounds nice. Like...really nice.”
“He is nice,” Taehyung confirms with a sigh. Deep down Taehyung knows that should be enough, but somehow it isn’t. Maybe it’s because they met through an app Jeongguk paid a couple won for and a mutual swipe of a finger, but something feels off. Maybe Taehyung is just being close-minded.
There’s silence that falls over the table while Jimin bites into his pizza. Taehyung watches him chew for a moment and then lets his eyes drift from unfamiliar face to unfamiliar face across the room.
When Jimin makes eye contact again, he’s met with Taehyung looking at him like a kicked puppy.
Jimin rolls his eyes for real this time. “Be nice in class, go on the stupid date, and then move on if you don’t like him. No one's saying you have to marry the guy or anything.”
Taehyung takes a big bite out of his pizza and nods reluctantly. He knows Jimin’s right, but he already feels bad for turning down the second date he knows Daejung is going to offer.
“I’ll go on the date,” Taehyung says softly.
Jimin gives him a thumbs up from across the table due to his full mouth. When he swallows, Jimin says, “You’ll be fine.”
Despite his track record for doing it, Taehyung’s never been good at telling people no. He does it, sure. But it’s always hard and he feels terrible after. And looking back, he can never pinpoint exactly what it was that impeded his attraction to whoever was trying to date him. Taehyung is always just so...uninterested. Everyone seems to be lacking something, even if he doesn’t know what it is. Jeongguk tells him he’s too picky, but Jimin says it’s good that he doesn’t settle. Taehyung just thinks it’s another problem to add to his apparently long list.
“Plus,” Jimin adds, wiping his fingers on his napkin. “If the guy turns out to be a dick to you, just text me and I’ll come kick his ass.”
Taehyung laughs. He leans toward the table, sliding his foot forward as well until it knocks into Jimin’s. Neither of them moves away. Their ankles cross with one another.
“A bar fight, huh?” Taehyung asks with a smile. He places his hand over his heart for dramatic effect. “My hero.”
“Always,” Jimin tells him.
WEDNESDAY, 6:26 PM | UNIVERSITY LIBRARY, FIRST FLOOR
The three of them don’t do their school work at Taehyung and Jeongguk’s apartment, or Jimin’s dorm, so there’s not much logic to thinking they’d get anything done at the library. But here they are, Jeongguk at the computers, Taehyung and Jimin on the couch a few feet behind. The semester has just begun so none of their assignments are hard or too time-consuming, but the three of them figured they needed to be somewhere different for a while.
“What are you even typing?” Jimin asks Jeongguk, trying to peek over his shoulder at the screen but Jimin’s too far to get a proper look and Jeongguk’s shoulders are too wide. They’ve been here for at least forty minutes and Jimin is convinced Jeongguk has been on the same paragraph since the ten-minute mark.
“Chapter summary thingy,” Jeongguk replies, clearly bored. “We have to do one after each chapter that’s assigned to prove we read it. Due tomorrow.”
Jimin huffs. “And did you actually read it?”
Jeongguk is silent for a minute. “Of course I did,” he says with a little too much confidence. A clear indicator that he’s lying. Then starts to type again.
Shaking his head, Jimin says, “I see you’re off to a great start to the semester. What was your GPA last semester? Two point—”
“Shut up,” Jeongguk tells him. He would throw his book if he wasn’t pretending to retrieve information from it. “I read it. Most of it. Just….shut up.”
Jimin and Taehyung both laugh. Jeongguk turns around and says, “It’s so boring. It’s all so boring, dude, like...I feel my brain melting.”
“That’s what you get for being a Liberal Arts major,” Taehyung comments.
Jeongguk laughs sarcastically. “Says the Photography major. You gonna talk me into an early grave by explaining the differences in lenses to me?”
Shrugging, Taehyung says, “Still more interesting than whatever the hell you’re doing.”
Taehyung’s phone rings, making all three of them stop talking for a moment. A second later it rings again. Then once more.
Jeongguk mumbles, “Answer your husband,” before spinning around in his chair. Taehyung flips him off but his back is turned before he has a chance to see it.
It’s expected, but Taehyung still feels a bit of a shock when he looks at his screen and sees the notification beginning with Daejung’s name. He sent him two text messages and a picture message.
Taehyung types in his password and clicks on the screen to open the message.
Daejung, 6:41 PM
i’m sooooo bored :(
what are you up to?
The image attached is a meme of a small bird falling from a tree with the words “HELP ME” written in white, bold letters. It makes Taehyung smile, to say the least. He feels Jimin watching him from across the couch. Intentionally, he keeps his eyes on his phone as the types back.
Taehyung, 6:42 PM
at the library with friends pretending to study lol
Daejung, 6:42 PM
Taehyung puts his phone down.
“Is that him?” Jimin asks. Despite his question, he only looks vaguely interested. He sits up straighter and suddenly has more interest in his book than he does in Taehyung.
Swallowing hard, Taehyung says, “Um, yeah. He’s just...saying hi I guess.”
Jimin hums but doesn’t answer.
Again, Taehyung’s phone rings.
Daejung, 6:43 PM
come pretend to study with me
i’m a really great study partner ;)
Taehyung wasn’t going to his place. Not tonight, at least. He knows that ninety-nine percent of the people who use these dating apps are mostly using them for hookups and one night stands, but Taehyung has never been into that. He doesn’t fault Daejung for what he’s implying, nor does he think he’s a bad person for it. But it does make Taehyung note that the two of them are on completely different pages right now.
In response, after thinking about what to say for a while, Taehyung writes simply:
Taehyung, 6:50 PM
can’t just leave my friends lol
Daejung, 6:51 PM
come hang out with me taaaaaetaaaaae
TaeTae. Only Jimin calls him that. It’s weird coming from someone else— especially someone he hasn’t formally met in person yet or know much about. Technology makes people feel like they’re closer than they actually are. Taehyung and Daejung aren’t nicknames type of close. At least not to Taehyung.
Jimin stands up then and sits next to Jeongguk at the computers. Taehyung watches him walk the short distance toward the younger of the three and nudge his shoulder. For a few moments, Taehyung watches them interact. It seems Jimin is offering his services to help Jeongguk finish his assignment. Jimin has always been a fast reader.
Daejung texts again before Taehyung has a chance to reply to his first message.
Daejung, 6:55 PM
an incentive to say yes...
It’s a picture of a huge bottle of vodka set between a bottle of white wine and a cheap case of beer with two beers already missing. Taehyung can’t help but roll his eyes just a bit. Honestly, despite agreeing to a bar date, Taehyung doesn’t drink too often. He doesn’t particularly like the taste. He’s not sure anyone truly does. But he can only tolerate a beer or two. He’s had the brand in Daejung’s picture before, though. Jimin’s roommate Hoseok buys it often.
Clearly, Daejung doesn’t know Taehyung well enough to know alcohol isn’t the way into his heart. Or his pants, for that matter.
Taehyung, 6:59 PM
Truthfully, Taehyung’s deep need for spontaneity and adventure is the only thing inside of him that’s mildly interested in actually taking Daejung up on his offer. That, and the fact that he does genuinely like being around people. Especially new people. Getting to know them is always the best part. Taehyung takes it as an opportunity to learn something.
But he knows he and Daejung have two different ideas of the way the night will go if he does go to his place. No need for mixed signals. Especially this early.
Taehyung looks up at Jimin and Jeongguk just as his phone is ringing. He looks down a second later to read the message.
Daejung, 7:01 PM
so give into temptation
Taehyung, 7:03 PM
can’t, i’m sorry! I’m with friends!!
but I’ll see you tomorrow in class?
Daejung, 7:03 PM
it’s okay lol
if we cant find each other in the lecture hall, we’re definitely still on for tomorrow night right??
Taehyung tells himself over and over that he at least has to try. He can’t just say no to every person just because he wants to find something wrong with them. If he’s honest with himself, that’s what he’s been doing. He looks for a red flag and then jumps ship. He owes it to himself to at least give the date a chance to be good.
Sighing, Taehyung types back:
Taehyung, 7:05 PM
yeah, see you tomorrow!
Daejung, 7:06 PM
Pressing the button on the side of his phone to make his screen go dark, Taehyung stands up and heads toward the other two. They still have their back to him when he approaches, but Jeongguk asks him, “What’d he want?”
There’s definitely a lot more written on the screen since the last time Taehyung looked. Jeongguk and Jimin have really been working. Jimin’s always been good at school, though. He’s more or less tutored the both of them in various subjects more than a handful of times.
“For me to come over,” Taehyung says honestly.
Jimin looks back at him, then back at the screen.
Taehyung bites the inside of his lip.
Jimin asks him, almost too casually, “So you’re gonna go over?”
Taehyung shakes his head even though neither of them is facing him to see it. Then he says aloud, “Nope.”
He leans forward and wraps his arms around Jimin’s shoulders. Gently, Taehyung rests his chin against the crown of Jimin’s head and allows his hair to be his pillow. Taehyung says, “Told him I’d rather stay here.”
WEDNESDAY, 11:17 PM | TAEHYUNG & JEONGGUK’S APARTMENT — TAEHYUNG’S BEDROOM
Taehyung’s ceiling always seems plainer when he’s lying flat on his back and staring up at it for hours. He’s been doing this more often lately. This. Whatever this is. Sulking, or whatever. Overthinking. Worrying. Throwing a pity party.
Before it was about money, and how the hell he was going to afford another year here. And then about classes, and picking the right ones to fit his major. Now it’s about Daejung and what Taehyung is going to say to him tomorrow. He worries about their date, and what will happen at the end when he inevitably tells Daejung that it was nice—really it was— but he’s not sure if he’s ready for a second date.
Taehyung thinks he’s going to get the reputation as University Heartbreaker if he keeps this up. Dating app or no dating app, Taehyung has said no to more people than he’s said yes. And when he does say yes, it usually ends in a no anyway. Two different routes to the same destination.
In Taehyung’s defense, he’s not trying to break anyone’s heart. He just...doesn't want to commit to someone he knows he shouldn’t. Maybe Taehyung has seen a few too many romantic movies, but he thinks love should be special. And dating leads to love— or so they say. So he should be careful about that too. Or… so they say.
That’s what Jimin says at least. And Taehyung can trust Jimin. Sometimes, after Jimin’s been talking to Namjoon for too long, he gets a bit philosophical about love. Namjoon was Jimin’s mentor freshman year. After chats with Namjoon, Jimin tells Taehyung slow and steady wins the race when it comes to love. Whatever that means. But he seems satisfied whenever he repeats the phrase.
Like Jimin can feel Taehyung thinking about him from across campus, Taehyung’s phone vibrates.
Jiminie, 11:30 PM
think i left my shirt in your room
bring it tomorrow if you find it?
Taehyung smiles. There’s not a day that goes by where the two of them don’t forget something at each other’s place. A book, a clothing item, a toothbrush, a laptop.
But Taehyung found Jimin’s shirt earlier this evening; flung over the shower rod and forgotten. Taehyung had retrieved it and folded it nicely because he’s not a barbarian. He was waiting for Jimin to notice it was missing.
Taehyung, 11:31 PM
already found & folded
Jiminie, 11:31 PM
ur the best!!!
Taehyung, 11:32 PM
and youre a slob!!!
Jiminie, 11:34 PM
but I’m YOUR slob
With his cheeks starting to hurt from smiling and his face feeling unusually warm, Taehyung rolls over to plug his charger into his phone. It vibrates shortly, indicating the charging has begun, and Taehyung places himself back in the center of his bed.
Recurring thoughts of seeing Daejung tomorrow flood his brain and he closes his eyes just to make them file in one at a time. Taehyung’s mind has always been a little too quick for him. It feeds him more information than he’s ready to take in at once sometimes. He’s working on thinking in bite-sizes.
Class, home, bar, home.
That’s the plan for tomorrow.
Class, home, bar, home.
It seems a lot less stressful when it thinks of it like that.
Class, home, b—
Taehyung’s cell phone vibrates again. Intuition tells Taehyung it’s not Jimin that’s texting him again. So he waits a few minutes for good measure. Just in case. Then, with a bit of a sigh, he leans over to look at his phone.
Daejung, 11:45 PM
your’re probably asleep but i just wanted to say
i’m really excited about tomorrow
meet me at the top of the stairs by the lecture hall after class?
Taehyung reads his message over a few times and can’t decide if he should respond or not. Eventually, he settles on not. He can’t think of anything to say.
Instead, he reopens his message thread with Jimin. He types:
Taehyung, 11:52 PM
goodnight my slob
Jimin’s typing bubbles appear almost instantly.
Jiminie, 11:53 PM
Taehyung switches on his alarm and replaces his phone back on the nightstand then. He tells himself it’s time for bed. He needs to be well rested for tomorrow. Something tells him it’s going to be a long day.
THURSDAY, 12:04 PM | NORTH SIDE OF CAMPUS
So far there’s been radio silence from Daejung today. Taehyung still hasn’t texted him back from last night, but he isn’t sure he has to. He knows they’re going to see each other in class; so they’ll talk, and then meet up again later at the bar. Taehyung isn’t too sure what Daejung needs to meet him at the top of the stairs for when with Taehyung’s luck they’ll sit right next to each other for the two-hour lecture.
Jeongguk’s taking a bite out of the ice cream cone he won’t share as he’s asking, “So are you at least going to pretend to be excited about tonight?”
Taehyung is staring off into space, holding Jimin’s shirt in his hand so they both won’t forget it this time, as they sit on an open bench waiting for his class to end. It takes his brain a minute to register that Jeongguk is talking to him. He blinks, then blinks again, before he says, “I’m...excited.”
“Now say it again like you mean it,” Jeongguk responds. Another bite of his ice cream goes. He and Jimin eat their ice cream rather weird. Taehyung isn’t a very judgmental person but...ice cream is meant to be licked, not bitten.
Taehyung pushes aside his ice cream eating critique to say, “I mean it. I’m excited. This is exciting stuff.”
Still, Jeongguk looks unamused, but he’s smiling just slightly. “I hate you.”
“Now say it again like you mean it,” Taehyung mocks in a whining tone, raising his pitch an octave and twisting his mouth downward at the corners. It earns him a shove from Jeongguk he pretends not to feel.
Quickly, they settle. Taehyung tries again. Because he wants to appear eager about this. He says, “Seriously, dude. Tonight should be nice. And I’ll text the two of you if it turns out to be not-nice.”
“Black belt in Taekwondo. Just— remember that. I can take him.”
Taehyung smiles. He twists Jimin’s shirt in his hands. It’s definitely not folded anymore, but he knows Jimin won’t care. He tells Jeongguk, “Thanks.”
A parade of students begins to exit from the front doors of the building to the right of Taehyung and Jeongguk. Patiently, they wait for one of those students to be Jimin. He’s close to the front, as he always is, and is jogging over toward them.
As he’s approaching, he’s wagging his fingers in a “gimme” motion, like he and Taehyung are in a relay race and his shirt is the baton. Taehyung isn’t quite sure what the rush is but he passes off Jimin’s shirt to him as he zooms by.
“Where are you going?!” Taehyung calls after Jimin, standing up so he doesn’t lose him in the crowd. He shades his eyes from the sun and squints to keep Jimin in his line of vision.
Jimin yells back, “Dance practice!”
He’s camouflaged into the sea of bodies quicker than Taehyung can register he’s lost him. Jimin’s dance classes are always scheduled at random times during the week because his instructor is always so busy. Taehyung keeps telling Jimin that he should be the instructor. Jimin has a lot of talents but he’s definitely the best dancer Taehyung’s ever seen. And he’s not just saying that because Jimin’s his best friend and he has to. He means that.
Jokingly, he always reminds Jimin not to forget him when he’s rich and famous someday. And very seriously, Jimin always reminds him back that he’s unforgettable.
Taehyung sits back next to Jeongguk silently. As he’s settling into his seat, his phone rings.
Jiminie, 12:17 PM
FORGOT TO SAY THANK YOU!!!
Taehyung smiles. A natural smile that he has just for Jimin sometimes. He doesn’t even try, but he always makes Taehyung happy.
He types back:
Taehyung, 12:18 PM
no need to thank me
have a good practice :)
Jeongguk has a 12:30 class, so the two of the walk toward the end of the path together but separate at the fork. Jeongguk goes left, Taehyung goes right. He doesn’t have a class until his 3 PM one with Daejung. He thinks maybe he needs a nap before then.
THURSDAY, 2:40 PM | MODERN ART, LECTURE HALL 185
Being twenty minutes early ensures that Taehyung will see Daejung before Daejung sees him. That’s the plan, anyway. Taehyung is never one of the first thirty people in class, but he is today. Here among the overachievers and the speed-walkers. Naturally, most of them file toward the front of the auditorium. He guesses they’re the ones that actually pay attention in class. Taehyung always counts it as a win if he doesn’t fall asleep.
A creature of habit, Taehyung walks up toward the second tier of the auditorium. He seats himself somewhere toward the center. But not too far center. Doesn’t want to draw attention to himself. Strategically six seats to the right of center, Taehyung settles.
Taehyung takes out his notebook and his iPad. Truthfully, in this day and age, the two sort of cancel each other out. Considering that you can takes notes on an iPad or a laptop quicker than you can write it by hand. But Taehyung likes to pretend to take notes as he watches anime on his iPad with the subtitles on and the volume off. To his professor, he looks studious times two. And to his peers, he’s a genius.
Ten minutes to class, and it’s really starting to fill up. There are nearly two hundred people in this lecture hall. Since it’s a Sophomore level class, it’s still considered part of general education, so just about anyone can take it. Taehyung never thought professors actually taught in auditoriums with rows and rows of seats like they do in movies until he actually came to college. It’s quite intimidating, even for someone like Taehyung who is a people person.
Like a hawk, Taehyung watches his classmates file in. He didn’t realize how many of them he recognizes from other places until now. The girl in his Calculus class. The guy who always sits three tables away from him and Jimin at the pizzeria. The guy on Jimin’s dance team—
Taehyung’s brain thinks it short-circuits. He sits up straighter as memories from last week flood into his brain. Taehyung had stayed late at the Performing Arts Building with Jimin to cheer him on during tryouts. Jimin makes the team every semester, but his coach says it’s only fair that he goes through the process just like everyone else. And vaguely, just barely, Taehyung remembers Daejung there. He had a multi-colored bag and the colors of it reminded Taehyung of the Impression, Sunrise painting by Monet. Which is just about the only reason why he stood out to Taehyung.
He’s on Jimin’s dance team.
Maybe that’s where he’s seen him before, and it’s just a coincidence they have the same class too. Life works in mysterious ways. Good thing Taehyung doesn’t believe in fate or he'd really be freaking out.
Daejung’s got long black hair with the tips of it ombré’d into a shade of dark brown. Today, he's wearing a navy blue beanie that hides the length, but the strands fall in his face aesthetically. He’s good-looking, Taehyung couldn’t deny that. And from what he can tell, he’s got really nice eyes. Double-lidded, which is unique in itself sometimes, and full lips that remind Taehyung of Jimin. Kind of.
Despite Taehyung spotting Daejung, he doesn’t spot him. But if Taehyung is guessing right, he seems to be looking for him. Taehyung watches Daejung’s eyes scan over the crowded auditorium. There’s a moment when Taehyung is sure they’ve made eye contact, but Daejung is too far and doesn’t seem to recognize Taehyung. As quickly as he can, Daejung finds an empty seat and refocuses his attention on the Professor.
Taehyung stares at the back of Daejung’s head the entire lecture. He can’t help it. Half-paranoid that eventually he’s going to look behind him and see him too, Taehyung keeps his notebook close to his face.
He knows there’s no real sense in hiding. The fact of the matter is that he’s got a date with his guy tonight. But right now Taehyung is still a bit in shock. What if Daejung knows Jimin?
“...we’ll pick back up on that next week, though,” Professor Lee is concluding. He presses a button on his computer, switching the PowerPoint slide to the final page. It’s blank, signaling the end of his lecture and the end of his class. Immediately, students pop up from their seats and rush toward the door. Taehyung watches Daejung head toward the exit. If he’s true to his text message, he’s going to the top of the stairs to wait for Taehyung.
Taehyung pulls up the messaging app on his iPad and taps on Jimin and Jeongguk’s name to open their THREE MUSKETEERS group chat.
Taehyung, 5:11 PM
well this just got weird…
or interesting, if you like plot twists
Jiminie, 5:12 PM
Jeongguk, 5:14 PM
HE’S GOT A TWIN
Taehyung gathers his belongings and heads down the steps to the lower level of the classroom. There’s a lump in his throat as he approaches the exit. Taehyung is usually never nervous to talk to people. Interacting is his strong suit. He’s been told time and time again that he’s a social butterfly. But right now, Taehyung doesn’t really know what to say. Or how to act.
As expected, Daejung is waiting at the top of the stairs. He’s got his phone in his hand but he looks up when Taehyung approaches him with a smile. He says, “Taehyung? Taehyung, hey! I was just texting you!”
He’s got a nice speaking voice. Slightly deep, with a bit of an accent that tells Taehyung he’s not from Seoul. Up close, Taehyung can tell that the dye job to Daejung’s hair is fresh. It looks really nice. Taehyung’s always wanted to dye his hair, but he’s never gotten around to it. Jimin’s done it before— took the extreme route and dyed it red their freshman year. He pulled it off, though. Taehyung’s always thought he’d look good with blond hair. Maybe he’ll have Jimin dye it for him one of these days.
“Hey,” Taehyung says back. He hates that he sounds way less enthusiastic as Daejung. He’s trying, but as always, whatever feeling that should be there just isn’t. It’s lacking already.
Classmates squeeze past the two of them, who are more or less blocking the stairway, and Daejung takes Taehyung’s wrist to move them somewhere else. He’s explaining, as he’s leading Taehyung toward a less crowded spot in the hall near the bulletin boards, “I just figured the top of the stairs was an easy landmark, but. We can talk over here. There are fewer people.”
Taehyung lets himself be led by Daejung to the other side of the hall. They stop by a water fountain and Daejung stares at him nervously, like he’s waiting for Taehyung to say something first. He and Taehyung are roughly the same height, which is nice to not have to adjust for eye contact. But that just makes it harder when Taehyung is sort of avoiding it.
“Um,” Taehyung says, trying to think of something to talk about. “Did you—“
”Can I just say something?” Daejung cuts him off. Taehyung stops talking. He holds his hand out, signaling that the floor belongs to Daejung.
Taehyung says softly, “Yeah, sure.”
Daejung fidgets with his phone in his hand. He seems nervous. Taehyung watches him bite his lower lip as he stares at the floor, seemingly trying to gather his thoughts. When he does speak, he talks quickly. All in a rush. It’s hard for Taehyung to keep up.
“I didn’t mean to act the way I acted last night. I was just— I hope I didn’t scare you away at all. I just. I don’t know I had a little to drink, and. I just. I’m sorry, I guess,” he spews out. When he’s done, he looks into Taehyung’s eyes deeply. Like he’s searching for his response there before it comes out of Taehyung’s mouth. Feeling a weird sense of exposure, Taehyung takes a half step back.
Shaking his head, he responds truthfully, “I don’t think I know what you mean.”
Daejung’s fingers slide upward on his screen. When Taehyung looks down, he sees that he’s scrolling through their messages from last night. He stops at a specific spot and explains, “I was way too forward with you. Just— some of the things I said and the way I was acting. I’m— I don’t know I just wanted to say I was sorry. We haven’t even gone on a date yet and I was asking you to come to my place. I’m not usually like that, I swear.”
Taehyung remembers now. He says almost dumbly, “Oh.”
Nodding, Daejung concludes, “I just wanted to say that. And to make sure we were okay. Before...the date. If you still wanna go?”
The first thing that pops into Taehyung’s head is here’s your out! but he’s positive that makes him a horrible person. So he ignores that thought and listens to the one that tells him that he should at least give this guy a chance. Just like Jimin said: go on the date and if he doesn’t like the guy, then he never has to go out with him again.
Slowly, Taehyung says, “We...can still go.”
Relief is the emotion Taehyung recognizes first on Daejung’s face. He sighs a happy type of sigh, and says, “Really?” Then, before Taehyung could confirm, “Great, so eight o’clock? The bar on campus?”
Taehyung nods, that’s all he can do.
Daejung touches his hand. A brief squeeze of his fingers around Taehyung’s.
He says gently, “Okay, see you soon. Drinks are on me tonight,” and walks off.
THURSDAY, 6:04 PM | TAEHYUNG & JEONGGUK’S APARTMENT
“He’s on my dance team?”
Jimin’s face is caught somewhere between skepticism and confusion. Uneasily, Taehyung nods. Then he shrugs his shoulders. Truthfully, it’s just a guess. But he thinks it’s a pretty solid one. How many people on campus would have that same exact gym bag?
With a short humming sound, Jimin sits forward on Taehyung and Jeongguk’s couch. He sweeps his hand through his pitch black hair and shakes his head. He says like he’s come to a conclusion, “No.”
“No?” Taehyung’s eyes go a little wide. “What do you mean, no?”
“No,” Jimin repeats. A hand runs through his hair again, tugging just a bit when he gets to the ends. He looks up at Taehyung, who’s standing in front of both Jimin and Jeongguk like he’s giving them a lecture, and tells him, “I know everyone on the team there’s no…”
His voice trails off, and he begins snapping his fingers searching for the name.
“Daejung,” Taehyung assists with a roll of his eyes.
Jimin points at Taehyung. “Daejung. Right. None of those.”
“You don’t know everyone,” Taehyung corrects. “Especially not the new people who just auditioned last week. And you’ve had, what, three practices since then?”
Jimin is silent now. He rubs just under his bottom lip with his index finger and Taehyung finds himself a bit transfixed by the motion of it. His eyes focus on Jimin’s mouth and he doesn’t snap himself out of it until Jimin is flipping his hand over palm up to say, “Well who cares, right? It’s not that big of a deal. All this means is he’s a dancer. You’ve finally picked someone with good taste, Taehyungie.”
That earns a snicker out of Jeongguk who’s been nearly silent since Taehyung burst through the door and sat them in the living room to tell them, as Taehyung put it, important news. Which, in Jeongguk’s opinion, wasn’t very important at all now that he’s heard it. Mildly informative at best.
“I can never go to your practices again,” Taehyung tells Jimin, slight panic interlacing his tone. “Or your competitions. Not when he’s there. Not after this date. I don’t even like him, I only swiped right because of Jeongguk—“
“You did it yourself,” Jeongguk interjects flatly.
He’s got his eyes on his phone, scrolling leisurely, only half-listening to Jimin and Taehyung. He sweeps the hood off of his head and sits up straighter.
When his eyes meet Taehyung’s, Jeongguk adds, “And you’re being way too negative, hyung. Who’s to say you won’t like him once you’re actually on the date? Give him a chance.”
Taehyung is silent; there’s no point in him trying to describe the feeling he has. The feeling he always has when he tries to allow himself to date someone. It’s the feeling that it’s somehow over before it’s even started. It’s the feeling that the person who’s interested in him somehow doesn’t have what Taehyung’s needs, and never will. They’re always missing something. Taehyung never exactly knows what though. Jimin always tells him to keep searching until he finds someone that has it.
Softly, Jimin suggests, “Maybe you’ll like him?”
His tone is off, and if Taehyung were more analyzing and Jimin was more honest with himself they both would’ve noticed. Jeongguk however, looks at Jimin with a questioning look. His eyebrows furrow a bit and he puts down his phone slowly. He repeats, with more genuineness, “Yeah, maybe you’ll like him, hyung.”
Taehyung whines, running his hand through his hair and tugging on the front a bit. He tells them again that he has a bad feeling about tonight. And Jeongguk tells him again that it’s all in his head. Tells Taehyung that even if he doesn’t like the guy it doesn’t have to end badly. Says mature adults can be honest about their feelings.
“When the hell did you grow up so much?” Jimin asks, laughing a bit at Jeongguk’s slightly impressive speech.
Jeongguk shrugs. “I have my moments.”
THURSDAY, 8:19 PM | ON THE ROCKS, CAMPUS BAR
Taehyung is fashionably late to his own date by almost twenty minutes. But he’s not late to make a statement, Jimin and Jeongguk had to talk him out of canceling at least four times. He’s never been quite this nervous for a date and he’s not sure why. Maybe it’s because this didn’t happen how it usually happens. Taehyung doesn’t use dating apps, he doesn’t filter his dates by swiping left or right. He doesn’t do... this.
He makes Jeongguk and Jimin promise to stay by their phones for backup and conversation while he’s on his date. And Jimin tells him again that he’d be more than happy to come kick this guy’s ass if he even looks at Taehyung wrong. Which, truthfully, is sweet. But Taehyung is almost positive this guy isn’t a creep. Taehyung’s just also almost positive he isn’t interested in him.
The bar is crowded for a Thursday and Taehyung wonders if it’s some kind of holiday or reason to celebrate. People take just about any reason to drink, though. So it’s possible that today is just normal traffic for a typical day.
Squeezing past several slightly drunk bodies, Taehyung makes his way to the bar. Daejung is flagging him down, waving his hands almost embarrassingly high in the air and smiling at him. He seems excited, eyes sparkling even in the dimmed bar light, as Taehyung approaches him.
“I was beginning to think you stood me up,” Daejung says. Taehyung can tell by the relief on his face that he’s only half-joking. He twirls his drink a few times with the straw like he’s nervous to make eye contact with Taehyung. But then he says, smiling, “I’m really glad you’re here.”
Taehyung smiles back politely. He tells Daejung that he didn’t mean to be late but his roommate had a bit of an emergency he had to help him with before coming. Says he would’ve called if he’d known it’d take almost a half hour, but hopes Daejung understands.
His first lie of the night.
Taehyung’s really good at lying, mostly because no one quite expects him to do it. He’s still got the perfect amount of innocence to his face and his personality that people give him the halo effect almost naturally. He only uses it to his advantage sometimes.
“Well, I’m just glad you made it,” Daejung says. He steps aside and gestures for Taehyung to sit down. He’s been saving him a place at the bar since 7:45 PM. Taehyung is only slightly flattered.
They order drinks— actually, Daejung asks Taehyung what he wants and then he orders it for him— and begin to chat. Taehyung’s never been too fond of alcohol, so he tells Daejung that a beer is fine and he plans on nursing the bottle until the end of the night. Daejung seems like he’s on his second drink though if the empty shot glass is a true indicator.
He seems sober enough, only one shot and a half of a beer in, and asks Taehyung about his day.
“I know we had class together, but...the other parts of your day? Or, your week? How was that?” Daejung asks between small sips of his drink.
He’s got his hair out now, no longer hidden under the beanie, and Taehyung thinks he likes it better this way. He’s got nice hair; flowy and soft and perfectly dyed. He seems to care a lot about his appearance, which Taehyung can appreciate and relate to.
“It was okay,” Taehyung says after a few extra seconds, and hates himself for not having anything to add. Nervously, he picks up his beer. He puts the bottle to his lips and takes the tiniest of sips just to give himself something to do.
Out of nervous habit, Taehyung thinks about picking up his phone. Not even necessarily to talk to Jimin or Jeongguk, but just to make himself seem occupied. But he’s on a date. The person he’s with is supposed to be occupying him. He has to remind himself not to reach for his phone unless absolutely necessary.
Usually, Taehyung isn’t too attached to his phone. But similar to biting his nails and the fidgeting he starts doing, it’s a nervous habit. It eases his mind to have his phone and knowing he can scroll through social media or play music to calm himself down. Right now he couldn’t do that though. So he forces himself to turn toward Daejung and at least act like he hadn’t already deemed this date over.
“What about yours?” Taehyung asks, partly out of common courtesy. “How was your day?”
“It was alright I guess,” Daejung starts. “Had an 8 AM class which was torture, then a 10:30 class. I met up with some friends at that pizza parlor on campus— you ever go there?”
“Slice of Life, yeah,” Taehyung says, nodding. He spins the beer bottle in his hands and wonders if Daejung notices he’s not actually drinking it. He clears his throat and adds for whatever reason, “Jimin and I go there all the time, it’s like part of our routine.”
There’s a moment where Taehyung can see Daejung mental wheels turning. He can see him pondering if he should ask the question Taehyung knows he wants to ask. He doesn’t, though. He bypasses Taehyung’s casual name dropping and continues on with his story. He tells Taehyung about his morning classes and how he regrets picking them, then talks about how he still hasn’t decided what he’s going to major in.
Either the bar turned the music up a little or the place is getting more crowded because Taehyung finds himself yelling just to have a conversation with Daejung before he knows it. They both lean in a bit, trying to hear each other well enough that they don’t have to ask the other to repeat themselves. Daejung takes that opportunity to place his hand over Taehyung’s. Taehyung only gives it a minute before he pretends to scratch the back of his head, setting that hand free.
“Photography is a cool major, though,” Daejung says comfortingly after Taehyung complains about there being no solid jobs out there for photographers, especially ones that don’t have any experience.
Taehyung takes his first real sip of his beer. He swishes it around in his mouth for a moment, letting the flavor he doesn’t particularly have interest in settle on his tongue.
Slowly, he swallows and says, “I enjoy it, it’s just discouraging sometimes to know that I’m most likely going to have to get a job I don’t like as much and do photography on the side or something.”
Smiling, Daejung suggests, “Your own personal studio would be nice.”
“Yeah,” Taehyung agrees. His blunt fingernails scratch at the wrapping of the beer bottle. His eyes drift around the room lazily. He isn’t sure what he’s looking for but he allows his eyes to zigzag from face to face until it lands on Daejung again. He adds, “That would be nice. I think I’d like being my own boss.”
“Give me a call when you’re looking for models, huh,” Daejung hopelessly flirts, bypassing Taehyung’s casual conversation making. He bumps into Taehyung’s shoulder and wags his eyebrows at him a bit. Something Taehyung has only seen happen in the movies, so truthfully he almost laughs. It takes a lot of willpower not to laugh out of pure nervousness nonetheless.
For a moment, Taehyung stares at him rather blankly. Then, he informs him rather bluntly, “I prefer landscapes.”
Daejung must think Taehyung is playing hard-to-get because his flirting turns up a notch shortly after that. Despite Taehyung’s near deadpan, Daejung never misses an opportunity to brush their hands when he speaks or intentionally leans in closer to say something. For the most part, Taehyung doesn’t mind. He’s flattered that Daejung seems to really like him, but he keeps regretting when the part of the night inevitably arrives where Taehyung has to tell him he’s just not that interested.
Just as Daejung is finishing his beer and in the middle of telling Taehyung a story about his childhood, Taehyung’s phone buzzes. It’s Jimin.
Jiminie, 9:08 PM
Taehyung, 9:09 PM
It only takes a second for Taehyung’s brain to start screaming that it’s rude for him to be looking at his phone, especially while Daejung is talking, so he quickly flips his phone face down. It makes a loud banging sound when the front of his phone makes contact with the wood. Taehyung finds himself hoping he didn’t break his screen.
“...so that’s when my Mom—,” Daejung stops short and gestures to Taehyung’s hand covering his phone. He tells Taehyung, laughing just slightly, “You can answer it.”
Taehyung is quick to shake his head; apologizing with his body language before his mouth has a chance to catch up. Mentally, he starts cursing at himself for not being more considerate. Or at least more discrete. Immediately, Taehyung is waving his hands in Daejung’s direction.
He tries to look convincing when he responds, “No, I’m sorry. Please, keep going.”
“Really, I don’t mind—“
“No,” Taehyung says as politely as he can. “It can wait. I’ll answer them later.”
Daejung studies Taehyung’s face for a few long moments. Deeply into his eyes and then roaming his face for slight changes in his expression. But what Daejung doesn’t know is that Taehyung really should’ve been an actor, or a poker player at least, because he keeps his face convincing. Despite wanting nothing more than to write Jimin back and telling him he wouldn’t totally hate it if he came to the bar to rescue him.
There’s another wave of relief that washes over Daejung. He smiles warmly at Taehyung and reaches out to cover Taehyung’s hand with his own. His fingers grip gently at Taehyung’s and he rubs his thumb back and forth over Taehyung’s skin.
“So, as you were saying?” Taehyung prompts, trying to get Daejung focused on his story and less on his hand. Taehyung is pretty sure he’s supposed to feel some type of...spark or connection when Daejung does things like this. But instead, he finds himself just wanting to pull away.
Daejung is quick to jump back into his childhood story. Taehyung only half-listens. He catches small parts of the narrative and manages to register in his brain to laugh when Daejung laughs, but the conversation is more or less one-sided. He nods, makes small noises of agreement and approval, and even manages to seem interested. But again, Taehyung should’ve been an actor.
Eventually, their conversation transitions to a ping pong match of them asking questions back and forth. An unofficial game of twenty-one questions it seems, but Taehyung finds that a lot easier. It feels more like he’s just telling Daejung facts about himself without giving too much away.
Taehyung realizes that his answers, in comparison to Daejung’s, are very vague and blunt. He’s got two-word answers versus Daejung replying with full-blown stories. Part of him feels bad, but the bigger part of him is just satisfied for seemingly getting through the night.
What Taehyung doesn’t realize is how many of the stories he did manage to tell were about Jimin, or referenced an experience with Jimin, or had to do with something Jimin does.
They ask each other what they wanted to be with they were younger, and Taehyung doesn’t even realize he starts his answer with, “Well when Jimin and I were in high school, for some reason he convinced me that we were both going to be cops…”
Daejung laughs along and doesn’t point out that that’s the sixth time Taehyung has said Jimin’s name tonight. He’s a good sport about it for as long as anyone would expect him to be. Around the tenth namedrop though, Daejung just can’t resist not asking.
The topic is currently Daejung’s hair. Or, more specifically, their opinion on dyed hair. Which Daejung happens to have personal experience with. He asks Taehyung if he would ever dye his hair and Taehyung responds with, just as casual as ever, “I’ve thought about it before. Blond seems like it might be a nice color for me. The extreme opposite of what it is now, you know? I keep telling Jimin I’m gonna—“
“Why do you keep mentioning him?”
Taehyung stops mid-sentence. His eyes displaying clearly that he’s confused. Absolutely caught off guard, and he shakes his head like he doesn’t understand. Nervously almost, he laughs. Then he swirls his more-than-half-full bottle of beer a few times.
After attempting to swallow the lump in his throat, Taehyung asks dumbly, stumbling slightly over the singular word, “W-who..?”
Daejung laughs. Actually laughs out loud, and Taehyung takes a step back with his eyebrows furrowed. Taehyung looks around at the other occupants of the bar like somehow they were going to clue him in on the joke.
But the only one who seems to understand is Daejung. He looks equally as confused as Taehyung though when he stops laughing. A sarcastic laugh, Taehyung is coming to realize. Especially when Daejung nearly yells back, “Jimin! Whoever the hell that is!”
Like clockwork, Taehyung’s phone buzzes again. By habit, he flips it over in his hand to read the message.
Jiminie, 9:58 PM
are you okay??
hope you’re not answering cause your date is
going well and he didn’t like...kill you i guess
Taehyung flips his phone back over as quickly as he can. Like if he does it at light speed, it would magically be too quick for Daejung’s mere human vision to register and he won’t see it. Of course, he does, and it just results in Daejung looking annoyed and Taehyung looking back at him sheepishly.
Still, Taehyung’s words are getting tripped up. “I...I—um hadn’t….noticed I was—”
Daejung points at Taehyung’s phone. He raises an eyebrow and asks, “You need to get that?”
“No,” Taehyung says instantly.
But then Taehyung’s phone again:
Jiminie, 10:02 PM
if he kills you i’ll just have to kill him…
Jiminie, 10:03 PM
don’t tempt me
Taehyung sighs. He flips his phone back over, face down on the bar, and looks up at Daejung. By now he just looks exhausted and Taehyung is genuinely sorry for that. He always knew tonight was going to be a bad idea, but Daejung didn’t. Taehyung knows he’s letting him down.
As he takes his seat at the bar again, Taehyung flips his phone upright in his hand. This instance is to genuinely check the time, but Jimin’s messages greet him loudly like the elephant in the room it is. And Daejung, slowly and almost regretfully, takes a seat as well. His eyes glance down at Taehyung’s phone and then settle level with Taehyung’s eyes.
Daejung has a nervous habit of running his hand through his hair. Taehyung’s noticed over the couple of hours they’re spent other. He’s doing it as he says with a loud sigh, “I just don’t understand what’s going on.”
Truthfully Taehyung doesn’t either.
His phone rings again then:
Jiminie, 10:10 PM
if you’re having fun that’s great but
at least let me know you’re having fun
so i stop worrying my best friend
He’s quite dramatic when he wants to be.
Taehyung sighs. He closes his eyes for a moment, rubbing them roughly with both of his hands. This is all spiraling out of Taehyung’s control and he doesn’t know how to get a grip back on it. And he didn’t expect Jimin to be at the core of the night going awry.
There’s an awkward silence between the two; both not sure who should speak first or what to even say if they took the lead in the conversation. So they’re both quiet for a long while. But Daejung seems like he’s thinking. Like he’s planning out what he’s going to say before he says it.
He raises his index finger, getting Taehyung’s attention, and asks nervously, “Can I just...say something?”
No, Taehyung thinks.
“Yeah,” Taehyung says.
There’s a pause before Daejung finally speaks that just gives Taehyung time to become hyper-aware of how fast his heart is beating. He takes in a breath through his nose and holds it.
“Jimin,” Daejung starts. Taehyung’s stomach turns just a bit at Daejung saying his name. “He’s clearly….someone very special to you…”
He’s choosing his words carefully, Taehyung can tell. Not to overstep or assume, but to firmly state what he’s been seeing as a fact throughout the night. Taehyung isn’t sure if he nods, but Daejung continues a few seconds later.
“You’ve talked about him almost nonstop all night, and from what I can tell he’s been texting you all night too.”
Still, Taehyung is quiet. He doesn’t know if there’s anything he can say. Or should say. So he doesn’t even try. Lucky for him, Daejung has more.
“Seems like you’re into him. Way more than you’re into me…”
His voice trails off and Taehyung guesses this would be his time to jump in and give his perspective but he doesn’t know what to say. In a way, Daejung is right but he’s making it sound like Taehyung and Jimin are a thing. Which they aren’t.
Taehyung debates what he should say. Because he’s only got a few seconds after Daejung’s implied ellipsis before the tension between them begins to rise again.
“Um,” Taehyung says emptily. Again, he fumbles with the bottle in his hand just to have something to do. He pretends that fidgeting buys him some time. It doesn’t, and Daejung is staring at him absolutely expectantly when he looks back up.
“I like you,” Daejung professes, cuts him off. Taehyung stops, mouth hanging open. He bites the inside of his lip just to make it close. Daejung’s head tilts to the side like he’s admiring Taehyung as he tells him, “You’re gorgeous, you’re interesting, you’re smart. I like you, and I wanna get to know you more.”
Taehyung’s phone buzzes again. He’s trained his hand and his brain finally to not even look. It’s too late though because the vibration shakes the table and Daejung looks down at his phone illuminating. He sighs.
“But you….don’t like me?” he concludes in a slightly questioning voice.
So Taehyung tries again, he starts, “Jimin is….,” but this time he stops himself. He doesn’t know how he wants to end that sentence. He doesn’t know the proper way to describe who Jimin is. Calling him his best friend doesn’t seem like enough, but calling him anything more than that seems scary. Like it’s too much.
“...someone you’re interested in?” Daejung guesses.
Taehyung doesn't know why he nods but he does. He says yes with his body and then yes with his voice and tries not to think about the comfort it brings him.
Instantly, Taehyung’s mind tries to explain the feeling of relief. He tells himself it’s because he’s getting out of this situation with a believable reason. If Daejung thinks he’s into someone else, that’s a pretty good reason to part ways and never talk to each other again.
“I’m kinda…dating him,” Taehyung says, half-mumbling. He squints at Daejung cautiously, hoping he doesn’t detect his lie. But Daejung just nods his head. He doesn’t look happy, but he nods.
He’s quiet now, so Taehyung thinks he should at least finish explaining. He says, “We’ve been getting more serious lately and even though we’re not, like, official...I don’t know, I think we might be soon.”
“So why the hell are you here on a date with me?”
The lump in Taehyung’s throat grows bigger. His throat becomes drier too, but he’d rather choke than take another sip of his beer. So he clears his throat and says, “Because I’m still single. Technically, I guess. And we matched on that thing so I figured it’d be okay to come here with you but—”
“But you’re dating Jimin,” Daejung repeats bitterly. His eyes stare down at the floor as he speaks. He says Jimin’s name rather harshly, with a slight rolling of his eyes to accompany. Taehyung can’t make himself do anything but nod.
Daejung stands abruptly. Taehyung leans backward on instinct, not necessarily because he’s scared. But when Daejung’s eyes meet Taehyung’s he just seems sad now, not angry.
He opens his mouth to say something to Taehyung, but Taehyung’s phone buzzes again. It’s Jeongguk this time, but neither of them knows that. Taehyung closes his eyes, squeezing them shut. He knows it’s just making the situation worse.
Daejung’s shoulders deflate like he’s been defeated. He reaches into his back pocket, flips through his wallet, and drops money on the bar for both his and Taehyung’s drinks. He blinks at Taehyung expressionlessly.
Gesturing to Taehyung’s phone and he says, “Guess you can tell your boyfriend you wanna be official now.”
He leaves after that. He takes another look at Taehyung and then heads for the exit with his hands jammed in his front pockets. Taehyung watches him squeeze past the people in the bar and then turn right once he gets out the door.
For the first time all night, Taehyung feels like he can breathe properly. He’s a little dizzy when he finally looks at his phone again.
Jiminie, 10:23 PM
Jeongguk, 10:34 PM
lol jimin-hyung says if daejung didnt
kill you he’s gonna kill you himself
stop making out and text him back
Taehyung just stares at the messages for a while. He doesn’t know what to say back to either of them, or where to start. He rereads Jimin’s messages over and over, trying to make himself type something back before there’s a search team out in Seoul looking for him and his possible remains.
He taps the textbox with his finger and types back to Jimin:
Taehyung, 10:45 PM
i’m okay, i’m coming home now
are you at our dorm?
Jiminie, 10:46 PM
been here all night. i’ll just stay over
Taehyung exits the bar feeling an equal mix of relief and panic. He’s gotten out of his dating app situation, but he’s thrown himself face-first into an even bigger and messier situation. A situation where he has to get Jimin to agree to be his boyfriend. Well, his fake boyfriend. But his real boyfriend in everyone else’s eyes.
He and Jimin have always said they’d do anything for each other. Taehyung hopes Jimin doesn’t draw the line at kissing him in public and maybe bringing him flowers.
THURSDAY, 11:14 PM | TAEHYUNG & JEONGGUK’S APARTMENT
When Taehyung gets home, both Jimin and Jeongguk are just about where he left them. On the couch in the living room. The only difference is the television is on when Taehyung walks in. But Jimin quickly turns it off when Taehyung opens the door.
“Hey,” Taehyung greets somewhat shakily. He’s looking back and forth at the two of them with a weird expression on his face that Jimin catches quickly. Jimin sits forward and furrows his eyebrows in Taehyung’s direction.
Jimin’s responds with, “What’s wrong?”
Jeongguk says, “How’d it go?”
“Nothing...fine,” Taehyung replies, answering both of them at once. But his tone is off, and he seems nervous. He circles around the couch the long way and sits on the coffee table in front of the two.
Still, he can feel Jimin trying to decode him. Taehyung doesn’t even know why he ever tries to hide anything from Jimin. He never can. Even small things like getting a bad grade on a test or where he hid Jimin’s birthday present. The outcome is always the same: Jimin finds out.
“What happened?” Jimin tries. But Taehyung’s silent, like he isn’t sure where to start.
Both of them watch Taehyung yank at his sleeves the way he does when he’s anxious and it’s just making Jimin anxious watching him. Biting his lip, Jimin reaches out and touches Taehyung’s knee.
“You said you’d do anything for me, right?”
Taehyung's question overlaps Jimin’s voice. They both stop short and stare at each other. Jimin’s eyes show his concern, Taehyung’s openly displaying what Jimin interprets as fear.
Jimin’s a bit taken aback. Rightfully so. He looks over at Jeongguk just to have somewhere to look but then resettles his vision on Taehyung. This time Taehyung can tell Jimin is studying him almost clinically, looking him over more in depth. Like he’s searching for something he might’ve missed a moment ago.
“He do something to you?” Jimin’s voice darker now. He leans forward so he can look Taehyung in the eye. Taehyung has the tendency to look elsewhere when he’s upset or lying.
But Taehyung is quick to shake his head because he doesn’t want Jimin to worry any more than he has to. He says, “No, I’m okay.”
Jimin squints. “You sure?”
“I’d tell you if he did anything. You know that,” Taehyung reasons. He picks at his thumbnail as he says, “It’s more of something… I did.”
With his eyebrows raising, Jimin questions, “You?”
Taehyung’s still got his eyes angled downward, fumbling with the sleeve of his jacket, when he says softly, “I lied about something and now I need your help.”
Jimin and Jeongguk both lean forward as Taehyung lets out a deep breath. When he lifts his head he’s looking at Jimin with an expression neither of them can describe. He looks worried, and a bit stressed, but there’s also the faint twitch of his upper lip like he’s going to laugh any second. Neither of them knows what to make of it.
There’s an extra beat of silence before Jimin tells him, “I’m listening.”
Taehyung sits up straighter, hands up in the air already declaring innocence and starts with, “Jimin, I’m sorry I panicked.”
Jimin’s eyes open wider, confusion growing and patience running out. He asks, “Dude, spit it out! What did you do?”
But Taehyung bypasses Jimin’s question and says, “The night was going awful— like I said it would— and the whole time I just kept trying to think of a nice way to say I wasn’t into him. But he just kept talking and talking and talking, god, he wouldn’t stop!”
Naturally, Taehyung speaks with his hands. But when he’s hurriedly telling a story, like he is right now, they’re all over the place. That, mixed with the fact that he’s speaking so quickly now all of his sentences seem like one long word, he looks rather mad.
Taehyung takes in a breath and continues: “He was flirting and you both kept texting me and he was getting annoyed at that but then he told me he liked me! Out of nowhere, he just said it! But I don’t like him and I didn’t know what to tell him so I told him—”
He stops himself, hands still up and his eyes open almost as wide as his mouth. Taehyung is beyond animated when he’s excited. Between the sound effects he adds to his stories and the jumbled way he tells them, Jimin’s just always proud of himself for comprehending the main points.
Jimin shakes his head. He asks slowly, “So….you told him what…?”
Taehyung folds himself in half, covering his face with his hands, and confesses through his fingers, “I told him you were my boyfriend!”
What follows next is a deafening silence. Absolute silence from the two of them and Taehyung thinks he’s going to explode. He doesn’t have it in him to look Jimin in the eyes yet so he keeps his face resting on his knees. But his heart is beating so loud he knows the other two must hear it from where they are on the couch. Taehyung holds his breath.
“You—,” Jimin starts after what must’ve been a decade of nothingness. But he stops himself short like he doesn’t know what to say. He laughs, a pure nervous laugh, but then that stops short too. Taehyung doesn’t have to see his face to know he’s internally panicking a bit.
Jeongguk’s face has been frozen in a goofy, questioning type of expression since the words left Taehyung’s mouth. With his lips parted obnoxiously, only his left eyebrow raised, and his head tilted just slightly Jeongguk looks back and forth between the two.
Blinking, Jeongguk says, “That was…”
“Stupid,” Taehyung finishes, his voice whining. He’s still bent over, hiding his face. Jeongguk can see him rubbing his eyes in frustration.
“Gold,” Jeongguk says, laughing now. “Comedic gold.”
Jimin is scratching the back of his neck like he does when he’s nervous and asks, “You told him I was your boyfriend?”
Slowly, Taehyung sits up. He still has hands on his face when he says, “Yeah. I panicked. I’m sorry. I thought maybe it was nicer to be unavailable than to be uninterested, I’m— Jimin, I’m sorry.”
Taking in a breath and letting it out slowly, Jimin follows up with, “It’s fine, um...I’ll do it. It’s... I’ll do it.”
There’s a shift in the room that all three of them feel. The atmosphere literally changing around them. Taehyung face goes through a set of emotions before it finally settles on a mix of shock and relief. Jeongguk’s jaw drops just a bit and he stares at Jimin’s profile so hard his eyes will burn two holes through Jimin’s cheekbone soon.
Taehyung blinks wildly. “You will?”
Jimin’s smiling now, warming up to the idea and realizing from a lot of standpoints, not much will change. He says, “How hard can it be, right? What do I gotta do? Walk you to class? Hold your hand? Piece of cake.”
“You do that now,” Jeongguk mumbles.
“Besides….I guess if I were to date any dude on campus it’d be you, Taehyungie,” Jimin says smugly. Jimin twists himself to face Jeongguk and gently pinches his chin between his index and thumb. Pouting, he says in a teasing tone, “No offense, Jeonggukie.”
Jeongguk sits back and scoffs. He mumbles, “None taken, dude, I promise.”
Taehyung’s got his face covered again, but this time because he’s so relieved. He runs his palm upward and then through his hair. He says, “It won’t be for long, I promise, okay? Just until Daejung sees us enough to think we’re legit and then he backs off for good. Because he probably thinks I was lying at the bar.”
“You were,” Jimin corrects. “But that’s beside the point, I guess. Because we’re gonna make it look real.”
Reaching out to take Jimin’s hand in his, Taehyung says, “You’re already the best fake boyfriend, real best friend ever.”
FRIDAY, 9:00 AM | TAEHYUNG & JEONGGUK’S APARTMENT — TAEHYUNG’S BEDROOM
On Fridays, both Taehyung and Jimin only have one class. Taehyung’s at noon, Jimin’s at 11 AM. Strategically, they both made their schedule like that. In theory, it was to ensure them being able to sleep in some and then have the entire rest of their day free. Especially since it’s the day before the weekend.
Taehyung has his alarm set for 10 AM for Jimin, but they’re both already awake. Taehyung is usually an active sleeper, he tosses and repositions even on his best nights of sleep. Last night was no different; he’s sure he moved quite a bit because he’s in a completely different position than he fell asleep in.
He feels a noticeable sense of warmth and comfort, but if he’s honest he always feels that when Jimin is near him. But despite the fake dating plan they may or may not have to put into action today, Taehyung doesn’t feel worried. Right now, he doesn’t feel anything but Jimin.
“You awake?” Jimin asks in a whisper, breaking the silence of the room. There’s something that sounds like nervousness in Jimin’s voice. He tries to hide it by clearing his throat.
Taehyung feels Jimin’s fingers petting the back of his hair stop abruptly a moment later. With Taehyung resting on Jimin’s chest like this, Jimin can’t see his face. So he’s just guessing solely off the change in Taehyung’s breathing. But when it comes to Taehyung, Jimin is always right.
Slowly, Taehyung opens his eyes. He’s been awake for a little while now, but he’s been enjoying listening to the sound of Jimin’s heartbeat playing in his ear. And the way Jimin was playing with his hair. He misses Jimin’s hand now that it’s gone.
Truthfully, Taehyung doesn’t remember at which point in the night he ended up cuddling Jimin like this. His arm is slung over Jimin’s stomach, his head resting on Jimin’s chest, and his knee is bent just slightly over Jimin’s leg. When he lets the reality of his position set in, and really think about what they must look like, Taehyung rolls off of Jimin.
He lands on his back, shoulder to shoulder with Jimin now, and finally responds, “Yeah.”
Laughing a bit, Jimin responds, “Well I see that now. What’re you doing up so early?”
Taehyung shrugs. “You’re up this early.”
“I’m always awake before you.”
“Just not tired anymore I guess,” Taehyung tells him.
An easy silence takes over the room. It’s never an uncomfortable or awkward silence with the two of them. It’s one of the perks of being best friends and genuinely enjoying each other’s company. There’s never that feeling that implies they have to talk or something’s wrong. Sometimes, there’s just nothing to say and that’s perfectly fine.
Jimin tells Taehyung his phone was buzzing earlier, but Taehyung doesn’t care to check to see who it was. Worst case scenario it was Daejung, best case scenario it was literally anyone else. Taehyung thinks it’s too early to gamble so he doesn’t even attempt to reach for his phone. Besides, he and Jimin aren’t even supposed to be awake for at least another hour. He’s got an allotted amount of time to pretend he didn’t see the messages.
But the possibility of a messaging from Daejung waiting for Taehyung on his phone does make him start to think.
“So,” Taehyung says aloud slowly, getting Jimin’s attention. “If we see Daejung today, what’re we going to do?”
Jimin’s quiet for a moment as he thinks. Then, he says, “I’ll mount you.”
As quickly as he says it, Jimin’s got his arms up protectively shielding himself from the shove Taehyung gives him. But they’re both laughing, though. Jimin at Taehyung’s expense because he quickly turns a deep shade of red. Taehyung is already regretting having Jimin be his fake boyfriend. He knew he’d have too much fun with it once he warmed up to the idea.
“Be serious,” Taehyung whines. Slowly, they both settle shoulder to shoulder again. Jimin’s still giggling. He tells Taehyung he was being serious and that earns him another shove that he doesn’t put too much effort into blocking.
With his hand covering his face, Jimin says, “I’ll...hold your hand?”
Taehyung’s smile is warm. He looks over at Jimin and tells him, “That’s better.”
FRIDAY, 7:59 PM | CAMPUS BOOKSTORE
Despite the jokes, neither of them are actually prepared to see Daejung today. So when he approaches Taehyung in the Modern Art section, looking for the same exact book for the same exact class, it’s safe to say Taehyung panics.
Taehyung’s preoccupied with reading the titles on the spine of the textbooks to notice who’s approaching him. But he came here with Jimin, the bookstore closes in half an hour, and no one was here when they walked in.
So he just assumed Jimin was the one walking up to him. Taehyung asks, without even looking up, “After I find this book, you wanna go watch a movie?”
His face immediately pales and his heart slams when a voice that definitely doesn’t belong to Jimin answers back, “Well...hello to you too.”
Taehyung spins, back now pressed against the shelves of multicolored books, and looks at Daejung with wide eyes. His chest is huffing and he looks down at the light brown carpet for a moment before looking at Daejung again. Just to make sure he wasn’t hallucinating. He’s not, and now he just looks like an idiot.
“Fuck,” Taehyung says, clearly startled. Daejung raises his eyebrows, his face caught somewhere between being amused and confused. He scratches behind his ear and waits for Taehyung to calm.
With his eyebrows furrowed, Daejung says, “Didn’t mean to scare you.”
Pushing himself off of the shelf behind him, Taehyung finally stands up straight. His eyes look over Daejung’s shoulder trying to spot Jimin. When he’s nowhere in sight after a few seconds, Taehyung tells Daejung, “You didn’t scare me.”
Daejung’s response is a soft chuckle. A coulda fooled me expression flashes across his face for a moment. He takes a step back to give Taehyung some space. Clearly, he needs it.
The library’s overhead lights cast a shadow across half of Taehyung’s face. One that highlights his cheekbone, and his jawline, and makes Daejung sort of angry that he still finds Taehyung so attractive. Their disaster of a date was just last night, so it’s rather pathetic in Daejung’s eyes that he definitely would’ve said yes to Taehyung’s offer if it were actually for him.
With his left hand, Taehyung fumbles with his earring. After clearing his throat, he asks Daejung, “Are you um...looking for that book for class?”
It’s a dumb question, but it’s all Taehyung can think of.
Nodding, Daejung says, “Yeah. We need it for the assignment next week so I just figured I’d come to look for it.”
Again, Taehyung’s eyes avert to slightly over Daejung’s right shoulder. He’s still trying to spot Jimin. Partially to be his fake boyfriend, and partially just to be his best friend and make up an excuse for Taehyung to leave. But of course, Jimin is probably somewhere in the front of the store waiting for Taehyung to find his book and come pay. He’ll come looking for Taehyung eventually. Maybe. Hopefully.
“Yeah,” Taehyung responds. “It sounds pretty hard to do without the book. Especially since we need sources and whatever.”
Daejung only nods.
The silence between Taehyung and Daejung is totally different than the silence between Taehyung and Jimin. It’s awkward when one of them isn’t speaking. Taehyung finds himself noticing how dry his throat is and wishing there was a vending machine in here he could excuse himself to.
Daejung sighs, like he’s mentally decided to take a chance on something, and begins, “So last night—“
“Did you find it?”
That voice is definitely Jimin’s.
He’s approaching the two from behind Taehyung, so Daejung sees him before Taehyung does. Taehyung watches him raise his eyebrow at Jimin, like he’s unimpressed, and then shifts his gaze back to Taehyung.
As Jimin’s walking up to them, he finds himself judging whoever the hell Taehyung is talking to. It’s a bad habit of his, but he does it all the time. He thinks the guy’s good looking enough, but Jimin isn’t a fan of the way he dresses. The guy has a dark brown bag slung over his shoulder that looks more like a satchel from the early 1800s than a proper school bag, and he’s wearing boots that clash with his business casual outfit. Jimin rolls his eyes just slightly.
“Jimin...,” Taehyung calls. His voice sounds weird— sounds strained. Jimin catches it instantly. Taehyung angles himself in Jimin’s direction, holding his arm out to present him. He looks at Daejung and says, “This is Jimin. Jimin, this is Daejung.”
Taehyung blinks at Jimin an obnoxious amount of times and Jimin’s almost positive he’s trying to send him a message. But Jimin doesn’t know how to decipher Morse Code and besides, Jimin knows what he’s supposed to do. Game on. Boyfriend mode: activated.
Jimin holds his hand out for Daejung to shake. As he does so, he wraps his other arm around Taehyung’s waist to hold him close. Jimin says, “Nice to meet you, man. You a friend of my Taehyungie’s?”
There’s a look from Daejung to Taehyung like he’s unsure of what to say. Jimin can see him trying to figure out if Taehyung simply didn’t tell Jimin about him, or if they’re both putting on an act. He swallows hard, returns Jimin’s handshake, and classifies himself as, “Classmate.”
“Oh, okay, cool,” Jimin says. Then asks, way too casually, “Is that where you two met or…?”
Tilting his head, Jimin looks a bit too eager to hear Daejung’s answer.
Taehyung’s nails dig into Jimin’s shoulder, trying to shut him up. But Jimin pretends he doesn’t feel it. Instead, he rubs at Taehyung’s side. Obnoxiously long strokes that start at Taehyung’s hipbone and end at the middle of his rib cage, just to make sure Daejung catches the movement out of the corner of his eye. He does, and Jimin watches with satisfaction as Daejung’s eyes dart down to spot Jimin’s hand.
Again, Taehyung’s nails dig.
“Yeah,” Daejung lies. “We met in class.”
Taehyung clears his throat. “We’re um...actually looking for the same book,” he tells Jimin.
Daejung is the one that looks nervous now. He points a few rows over and says, “It’s this one, actually.”
He plucks the book out of line and holds it in his hand. It’s got a maroon color to it, shiny in the library light, and looks rather heavy. When he looks back at the shelf he makes a confused type of noise. “But this one seems to be the last one.”
“You can have it,” Taehyung offers immediately. He waves his hand and says, before Daejung even has the chance to speak, “Really, I’ll just...buy it online or something.”
For a while, Daejung is silent. But he asks, more out of common courtesy than anything else, “Are you sure?”
This time Jimin answers. He says, “Keep it, man.” Then, to Taehyung but loud enough for Daejung to hear, “I’ll buy it for you tonight, baby. Don’t worry.”
Baby. It takes all of Taehyung’s willpower to not make a face at Jimin’s use of a pet name. Taehyung smiles an uneasy type of smile.
Through his teeth, Taehyung says back, “Thanks...babe.”
Daejung thinks he has seen enough. For only a moment more he watches the two of them, with their arms around each other, talking like he’s not only a few steps away.
His final goodbyes are directed at Taehyung, but Jimin, clearly on a roll says, “We’ll see you later, Dihyun!”
“Daejung,” he corrects Jimin, tapping at the textbook in his hand.
Jimin blinks at him. “Right,” he says flatly. “My bad.”
Daejung leaves after that. Gripping the textbook to his chest, he brushes past the pair and heads for the registers. Neither of them looks back to see if he’s staring, but Jimin takes Taehyung’s hand and starts walking in the opposite direction just in case.
As they exit the bookstore, still hand in hand, Taehyung asks Jimin, “You really gonna buy my book for me?
Jimin laughs. “Buy it yourself,” he tells him.
They hold hands all the way back to Taehyung’s dorm.
SUNDAY, 10:47 AM | SEOUL PANCAKE HOUSE, RESTAURANT
“Why am I third-wheeling right now?” Jeongguk asks from across the table. He’s got a pile of pancakes in front of him he’s been ready to devour since he ordered them. Pushing his sleeves up, because this is serious business, he reaches for the bottle of syrup and pours a hefty amount straight down the center of the stack.
Taehyung and Jimin both have French toast and the three of them are sharing a plate of bacon placed at the center of the table. They’re in a booth, third in the row, and the place is only half full. The happy (fake) couple on one side, Jeongguk on the other.
Between bites, Taehyung says, “What? No one’s third wheeling, dude.”
Jimin nods but doesn’t add to Taehyung’s response because his mouth is full. He and Taehyung look at each other, but Taehyung is the one that continues. He tells Jeongguk, “We’re not an actual couple, Jeonggukie.”
Jeongguk has to make a split decision to either call them both out on their bullshit or to take a bite of his pancakes. He chooses pancakes, for their benefit and his. Suddenly, his mouth is too full to respond and Taehyung lets the comment drift away.
But still, the three of them can feel it lingering between them. It hovers over their heads like a raincloud just waiting to open up and downpour. Taehyung sneaks another glance at Jimin. Like it’s a signal, Jimin is the one that talks this time.
“Why do you feel like you’re third-wheeling?” Jimin asks. Nervously, he picks at his French toast. He’s trying to hard to appear less nervous to hear Jeongguk’s answer than he actually is. And Jeongguk is too much of a good friend to the both of them to tell them something they’re clearly not ready to hear.
Between bites of his pancake, Jeongguk mumbles, “Just kidding.”
If Jeongguk was honest, he’d tell them that he legitimately thought they were dating the first day he met Taehyung, and Jimin came over to help move his stuff in. Something about the way they were together; sure they’ve known each other for years but there’s always been something more there. It’s in the way they look at each other, the way they seem to have no boundaries, the way they share everything they own with each other.
More or less, Jeongguk is joking about third-wheeling. Because there’s always a negative connotation to that, and if he’s super honest he’s been rooting for them since day one. Not to mention they’ve acted like this since before they even knew Jeongguk and Jeongguk has never once felt out of place or unwanted around them. The three of them are good together.
But Jeongguk knows he can’t push them to see what’s right in front of them if they aren’t ready to see it themselves. So instead he’ll silently take bets on how long it’ll take the two of them to realize their fake dating isn’t so fake, and honestly never has been.
“This is so good, try this,” Jimin says. He’s got strawberry syrup on his French toast instead of the regular one. Literally the only difference between his meal and Taehyung’s, but he cuts off a piece and feeds it to Taehyung away.
Jeongguk has his money on a week. They’ll be accidentally-on-purpose engaged before they know it.
TUESDAY, 3:50 PM | EAST SIDE OF CAMPUS
Taehyung figures there’s no rules that say he’s not allowed to be a great fake boyfriend too so he waits outside of Jimin’s classroom for it to end at 4 PM. Taehyung’s class ended at 3:30 PM and he headed straight across campus to get to Jimin’s class before it let out.
He sits in the hall across from Jimin’s door and scrolls mindlessly through his social media. He checks Twitter, then watches some of his friends’ stories on Snapchat. Before he knows it, Jimin’s classroom door is opening and students are filing out.
So Taehyung stands, brushing the possible dirt off the back of his black skinny jeans and the end of his royal blue hoodie. It’s Jimin’s hoodie actually, but he found it slung over a chair in the kitchen this morning and figured it was his now.
Jimin looks happily surprised when he spots Taehyung standing outside of his classroom door. His eyes instantly perk up and he says, “Hey! What’re you doing here?”
Taehyung turns to walk with Jimin down the hall. He bumps into him playfully and says only loud enough for the two of them to hear, “Being a great boyfriend.”
Jimin shrugs his book bag off his shoulder and asks sweetly, “Does my great boyfriend wanna hold my bag?”
“No, he does not,” Taehyung says back, just as sweetly. He bats his eyelashes at Jimin and spins out of Jimin’s reach when he goes to shove him. He giggles when Jimin’s face turns sour.
But Taehyung holds his hand out a moment later, signaling for Jimin to hand over his backpack. Taehyung rests it over his shoulder with a roll of his eyes, but Jimin knows he’s only joking. They carry each other’s bags all the time. Taehyung’s just being a brat. As always.
“How was your class?” Taehyung asks, making conversation.
Jimin takes in a deep breath and lets it out slowly. “I survived,” he says.
Taehyung laughs. “That’s all that counts.”
Just as they were exiting the building, someone calls Jimin’s name from behind them. When they turn around, they see Jimin’s friend Chongil waving them down.
He jogs up to the two of them and greets them both. He does a handshake with Jimin that most of Jimin’s dance team do with each other. Jimin taught it to Taehyung two years ago, but since Taehyung isn’t actually on the team he’s never done it with anyone but Jimin. He thinks it’s cute though.
He tells them with a smile, “There’s a party Saturday night if you guys wanna come?”
“Yeah?” Jimin asks. “Where?”
Chongil tells the two of them it’s a house party thrown by one of the fraternities that want to partner with the dance team and have them dance at their ceremony next month. They’ve been trying to spread the word around campus and have it be the biggest party this year. And they know if they get the dance team to show up, more people will. They’re all pretty popular.
Pointing to Jimin, Chongil says, “They’ll probably wanna talk to you soon about that. Partnering up with us or whatever for their ceremony.”
Considering Jimin’s the captain of the team and has been since sophomore year, most of the team’s decisions are either made by him or approved by him. Taehyung knows Jimin doesn’t like to admit it too often, but he loves the power.
Jimin hums in response to Chongil, and then looks over at Taehyung who pokes his bottom lip out and shrugs. “Sounds fun,” Taehyung says. “I love parties.”
Nodding, Jimin looks back over at his friend and tells him, “We’ll probably check it out. Thanks for telling us.”
Chongil tells Jimin he’ll text him the details later. The two do their handshake again and then Chongil goes his own way. He makes sure to say bye to Taehyung before he takes off.
When they’re alone, Jimin wags his eyebrows at Taehyung and asks, “Wanna be my date to the party?”
Taehyung adjusts Jimin’s bag on his shoulder and says, “I’d love to. Boyfriend.”
WEDNESDAY, 2:20 PM | SLICE OF LIFE, CAMPUS PIZZERIA
It’s Wednesday so Jimin’s waiting for Taehyung at the pizzeria like he is every Wednesday around this time. And as per usual, he’s got Taehyung’s order waiting for him and a sugar packet on the side. Jimin sits at their usual table and waits for Taehyung.
Jimin’s engrossed in his phone, texting with his teammates in his SEOUL DANCE KINGS™ groupchat and doesn’t even realize someone’s standing in front of him. Not until they clear their throat just to get his attention. Jimin puts his phone down, looks up, and feels his air get caught in his throat.
It’s Daejung. He’s standing in front of Jimin like he doesn’t know what he’s doing there, and Jimin is sure he’s reciprocating the same facial expression. Jimin immediately does a quick search of the pizzeria, just to make sure Taehyung hasn’t arrived yet.
“Oh...hey?” Jimin says, sort of like a question, but mostly because he’s caught off guard. Jimin puts his phone down, presses the button to make his screen go black, and gives Daejung his attention. He runs his hands through his hair and says, “Daejung, right?”
Jimin knows exactly who he is but he doesn’t need to let him know that. He watches Daejung try not to roll his eyes. He presses his index finger to his lips for a moment, like he’s trying to keep a sarcastic reply to himself, and says back, “Yeah. Hey.”
There’s silence then, especially since Jimin wasn’t the one that came up to Daejung’s table like he has something to say. So Jimin waits for him to say something else. It takes Daejung a moment to realize that, but when he does he seems to jump right into it.
He asks, “How’s Tae?”
“Taehyung is fine. Thanks for asking,” Jimin responds. Purposely emphasizing Taehyung’s full name. Daejung doesn’t get to do nicknames.
He pokes out his bottom lip and nods at Jimin’s implication. He mumbles an apology and then sits down without Jimin offering him to.
“Look,” Daejung starts. He leans forward on the table, pushes Taehyung’s food aside, and asks, “Are you and Taehyung like...serious?”
Jimin’s eyebrows raise. Honestly, he didn’t know what he expected Daejung to say but for some reason, it wasn’t this. He hopes the surprise on his face doesn’t linger for too long.
He clears his throat and says, his voice polite despite his words, “Why are you asking?”
Again, Jimin’s eyes scan the pizzeria. It’s always so crowded in here, especially between common class times, that it’s hard to spot Taehyung most days. Jimin just doesn’t want him walking up to see him and Daejung talking. It’ll just stress him out, and Taehyung doesn’t need that.
Daejung pushes his long hair behind his ears and says, “Because the last time I spoke to Taehyung about you he said you two were more or less working on becoming official.” He makes air quotes around the last word. “I was just wondering if you two made a decision.”
Once more, Jimin asks, “Why?”
Now Daejung looks a bit annoyed. “Because I like him. Obviously. But I can’t and won’t do anything about it if you two are actually a thing.”
Jimin’s quiet for a moment. He takes a sip of his drink just to give himself time to think. He knows all of this is just pretend, but saying it aloud like this is still somewhat nerve-wracking. Actually having the words leave his mouth that he likes Taehyung has more than a friend is scary but Jimin doesn't know why. There's a golfball in Jimin's throat, restricting his air and clouding his mind just a bit. Jimin clears his throat and takes in a deep breath.
“We’re a thing,” Jimin tells him finally, his tone is borderline mocking Daejung’s word choice. He can’t stop himself from using air quotes as well.
Daejung squints at him like he doesn’t quite believe what Jimin’s saying.
Instead of questioning, Daejung reasons, “Because if we’re going to be on the same team we can’t be fighting over the same guy. That’s just awkward.”
Nonchalantly, Jimin responds, “Didn’t know we were in a fight.”
Some students walk into the pizzeria and Jimin leans to the side to make sure none of them are Taehyung. When none of the people who enter look familiar, Jimin returns his gaze to Daejung.
“We’re not,” Daejung clarifies. “I’m just saying, it’d be weird if we were both trying to bone the same guy at the same time.”
Jimin’s eyes narrow. He leans forward a bit, nails scratching at the palms of his hands now that they’re loosely in fists. He asks, “That’s all you’re after him for?”
Daejung freezes a bit, realizing his words and exactly who he’s saying them to. Almost immediately, he holds up his hand. He says, “No, I— fuck, I worded that wrong. You know what I mean, though.”
Jimin’s silent. Intentionally, he stares at Daejung until it becomes uncomfortable to sit there and just have Jimin shoot bullets with his eyes at him. Shifting in his seat, Daejung plays with the ends of his hair.
He says, “Um...I’m sorry, dude. I really worded that wrong, didn’t I? I was just asking because I really like him, but if you two are together then—“
“We’re together,” Jimin says, cutting him off. “I already said that.”
Dropping his eyes, Daejung says like he’s disappointed, “Right.”
Jimin lets him sit there for a few seconds more. But then, quite frankly, he gets tired of looking at his face and asks, “Are we done here?”
But they both know that’s code for go away now. Daejung takes the hint and stands up. Politely, he pushes in the chair and bows just slightly at Jimin, thanking him for his time and for not strangling him.
He walks away without saying goodbye, not that Jimin cares, and Jimin watches him exit the pizzeria.
Once he’s gone, Jimin throws out the pizza he originally got for Taehyung and stands back in line to buy him a new one. He tells himself it’s because Taehyung is running a little late now and his food is cold, but in reality, he’s just trying to get rid of any remnants of his little chat with Daejung.
Jimin is placing Taehyung’s food on the table just as he noticesTaehyung coming through the pizzeria door. Quickly, Taehyung spots Jimin and sits at their table.
“Hey, sorry I’m late,” Taehyung apologizes, stripping himself of his backpack and letting it drop to the floor beside their table. "Class ran late. We were out on campus taking pictures and we all sort of lost track of time."
Twirling the ice in his soda, Jimin says, “It’s fine.”
"Hope you didn't miss me too much," he teases, tearing open the sugar packet and adding it to his soda.
"Always miss you."
Taehyung’s eyes sparkle the way they do when he’s fascinated. He asks Jimin, “Anything interesting happen to you today?”
But Jimin just shrugs. He says, “No, not really.”
THURSDAY, 3:04 PM | MODERN ART, LECTURE HALL 185
This time, Taehyung and Daejung know exactly where each other is sitting. Because they’re seated only four seats apart. Taehyung sinks into his seat, trying to stay hidden behind the four bodies that are separating them. But he swears he feels Daejung looking at him anyway.
Taehyung is on the aisle, the first row of the second section. Not his usual seat by any means, but here he has a perfect view of the professor and of the door. The professor is setting up his slideshow. One hundred pages of boring information that Taehyung only retains if he can make a reference to his personal life somehow. But that happens rarely.
Already bored, Taehyung has his chin resting on his hand as he lazily gazes around the front of the class. Familiar black hair partially shielded by an even more familiar white beanie appears in the doorway and makes Taehyung sit up a little straighter. Taehyung’s eyebrows knit together as he realizes who’s coming through the door.
It’s Jimin, carrying a maroon textbook in his hand and styrofoam cup. Whatever is in the cup is still hot; steam is drifting away from the liquid as Jimin takes a few cautious steps into the classroom.
He’s clearly looking for Taehyung, eyes scanning each row. Eventually, he finds him and his eyes light up. Smiling big, he says, “There you are!”
His voice catches the attention of Taehyung’s professor, some of Taehyung’s classmates, and Daejung. Their eyes all fall onto Jimin and watch him power walk toward the stairs, approaching Taehyung. He’s wearing a plain white shirt with a green plaid button-up tied around his waist that’s long enough to flow in the wind when he walks. Despite all eyes on them, and Jimin usually embarrassed in situations like these, he seems to be on some sort of mission.
When he’s close enough, Taehyung stands up to greet him.
“Hey!” Taehyung says loud enough for everyone to hear. He gives Jimin a hug, and when they’re close enough he whispers in his ear, “What the fuck are you doing?”
“Being your boyfriend. Like you asked me to, remember?” Jimin says back through his teeth. He’s smiling big, fooling everyone who might be watching them. But their only real audience is Daejung, who they both know is definitely watching.
Other classmates walk behind Jimin in attempt to get to their seat. Taehyung pulls Jimin closer, just to move him out of the way, but Jimin presses himself up against Taehyung instead. Taehyung is caught somewhere between being embarrassed and actually enjoying this. Jimin’s cute, he has to give him that.
Jimin says, just loud enough to make sure Daejung hears, “I brought you coffee. And your textbook came in today.”
Jimin actually did end up buying Taehyung his book. He tried to pretend to be annoyed about it, but he and Taehyung love buying each other things. Even if it’s just a stupid book for school. He had told Taehyung he owed him $59.95 for it, but they both knew he was joking.
Still smiling, Jimin passes the cup and the book to Taehyung. At first, Taehyung tries to refuse the drink. He can smell the caffeine from where he’s standing.
Taehyung laughs. He says under his breath, “You know I don’t like coffee.”
And Jimin, “They were fresh out of cocoa, get over it. Take the damn cup.”
It’s less about if Taehyung likes the drink or not, and more about Daejung seeing Jimin bring Taehyung the drink. It’s all about keeping up the appearance, and after Jimin’s little talk with Daejung, he was determined to do just that.
Taehyung takes the cup from Jimin’s hand and places it on his desk. He repeats the motion with the textbook. Behind Jimin, Taehyung’s professor makes an impatient noise.
“Is the honeymoon over?”
His eyes display just how unamused he is by all of this. They only seem half-open as he’s watching Taehyung and Jimin steal all of the class’ attention. He taps at the podium in front of him like he’s bored.
“I’m leaving,” Jimin promises to Taehyung’s professor. He bows at him sheepishly, then turns back to face Taehyung.
When they’re eye to eye, Jimin mumbles, “You have to kiss me.”
Taehyung’s face reddens. His eyes widen and he thinks his knees threaten to give out.
Blinking, Taehyung says, “Huh?”
But Jimin seems completely serious. His hand snakes its way onto Taehyung’s hip to pull him closer. Despite his advances, he’s blushing and Taehyung can tell he’s nervous too.
He tells Taehyung in a rushed, hurried tone, “He’s watching us. When I turned back around I saw him. We have to.”
There’s no more talking after that. Taehyung isn’t sure who leans in first, but before he knows it, he and Jimin are centimeters apart. Seems like the entire world stops when Jimin— definitely Jimin— removes the last bit of space between their lips.
And Jimin’s lips are just as soft as Taehyung’s always thought they would be. Over the years, he tried not to think about how many times he’s daydreamed about kissing Jimin. Because Jimin’s his best friend and you don’t kiss your best friends. At least, not in the way Taehyung has always caught himself thinking about.
But now here he is living it. Taehyung closes his eyes naturally and lets himself relax into Jimin’s arms just a little. It’s a quick kiss; definitely more of a peck if Taehyung looks back on it. But to him, it lasted a lifetime. Happily so.
When they pull back, they’re both giddy. Smiling like two kids who just kissed behind a bush in the playground. They can’t hide the goofy, satisfied smiles on their faces. And Jimin knows both he and Taehyung look painfully uncool right now, but they don’t care. There’s a deep feeling of satisfaction in the pit of Jimin’s stomach. Like maybe he’s been waiting his whole life to do that.
With his hand still curved around Taehyung’s side, Jimin says slowly like he’s dazed, “I’ll...see you later.”
Taehyung is nodding in agreement before Jimin is even done with his sentence. But it doesn’t matter. He’d say yes to anything Jimin told him right now.
He smiles. “Yeah, okay.”
Jimin’s hand falls from Taehyung’s side and he takes a step back. They’re staring at each other now like they’re seeing each other clearly for the first time. Both of their faces are a little flushed and there’s a silence in the classroom that tells them they’re still the center of attention. And they’ve definitely put on a show.
Taking another step back, Jimin says sweetly, “Have a good class, baby.”
And Taehyung, “Yeah, you too.”
Jimin isn’t going to class. His classes are over for the day. But Taehyung’s brain doesn’t work right now. He’s still thinking about what it felt like to have Jimin’s lips against his.
Eventually, Jimin leaves and Taehyung all but melts back into his seat. The world picks it’s rotation back up and Taehyung’s professor begins his lesson. Time moves on for everyone else except for Taehyung who’s caught between 3:07:55 PM and 3:08:02 PM.
His mind is frozen; stuck replaying the few seconds Jimin kissed him over and over.
THURSDAY, 6:38 PM | LECTURE HALL 185, HALLWAY
Taehyung’s not much of a poet but he thinks he could fill up a whole journal trying to perfectly describe Jimin’s mouth. Ever since they kissed, as short-lived as it was, it’s all Taehyung can think about. Scarily so. He knows he shouldn't be this hung up on something that should be minuscule. Taehyung tells himself that the kiss probably meant nothing to Jimin. It was all an act. They were pretending.
With his back pressed against the tile wall, Taehyung opens his phone and taps on his message thread with Jimin. He finds himself staring at the contact picture he has for Jimin: a close up of his face, flipping off Taehyung’s camera with a smile. Jimin’s got a beautiful smile. He’s got a beautiful everything.
Shaking his head, Taehyung taps on the textbox and begins to write:
Taehyung, 6:43 PM
think your plan worked
he walked right by me after class
barely even looked at me lol
Not too long ago, when Professor Lee finally lifted the lock to his lecture hall dungeon, Daejung was one of the first people out of the door. Taehyung, truthfully, hadn’t noticed class was dismissed. He was still a little too busy daydreaming. But when he came to his senses, he took notice of Daejung’s empty seat.
Taehyung’s phone rings, displaying Jimin’s name on his screen.
Jiminie, 6:46 PM
glad i could be of service
There’s a wanting feeling flowing throughout Taehyung’s body. The feeling of needing to talk to Jimin about the kiss. There’s a part of him that is dying to know if he felt the same type of rush too. Like the first breath of fresh air after being underwater for too long. Like stepping out into the sunlight after it rains. Like coming home.
More than anything, Taehyung wants to just ignore it. He wants to, but he doesn’t know how long he can pretend there’s wasn’t an electric shock sent through his body when their lips connected. But that terrifies him too. Because the reality is that Jimin is his best friend. Not his boyfriend.
Taehyung thinks maybe he’s getting too in his head about this. He’s overthinking.
With a sigh, he writes back:
Taehyung, 6:49 PM
youre the best
i owe you!
Jiminie, 6:50 PM
anything for you
They need to see each other. Even if they don’t talk about the kiss, they still need to see each other as far as Taehyung is concerned. Because fake dating is a full-time job and they need to talk strategy and tactics and other things that make it sound like they’re on the front line in a war.
Inside his chest, Taehyung’s heart slams. He’s never been nervous talking to Jimin before. Or just thinking about him. But right now he can’t get his heart to slow down or his hands to stop shaking. And he hasn’t stopped thinking about Jimin’s lips since he felt them.
With unsteady fingers, Taehyung texts Jimin again.
Taehyung, 6:52 PM
are you busy??
Jiminie, 6:52 PM
Taehyung presses the lock button on his phone and heads down the stairwell. A moment later he feels his phone buzzing, but he intentionally waits before answering it. Taehyung knows there are times when he speaks before he thinks and then he regrets it. And he doesn’t need to possibly ruin his friendship with Jimin just because he’s overreacting.
At a calmer pace, when Taehyung is finally outside of the building and on his way back to his apartment, Taehyung opens his messages again. He’s got two now. One from Jimin and one from Jeongguk.
Jiminie, 6:53 PM
leaving dance practice now
gonna shower but then i’m free i think
Jeongguk, 6:56 PM
going to namjoon-hyung’s apartment
prob gonna be home late
if you lock me out I’ll kill you
Namjoon is a Philosophy major, but he does music on the side. Taehyung has always told him he’s got a real talent for writing music and producing, but Namjoon just says it’s something he does to relax him. And Jeongguk’s got a really nice singing voice. Not too many people know that because he’s shy, but Namjoon is one of the few people he’s not scared to sing in front of. Sometimes they make music together.
Taehyung’s heard some of their songs— Namjoon’s words, Jeongguk’s voice— and he’s been genuinely impressed each time. He keeps telling them both they need to switch their major to something in music, but they’re both hard-headed and don’t think they’re good enough. Maybe one day they’ll see that they’re wrong.
Keeping Jeongguk’s message in mind, Taehyung writes back to Jimin:
Taehyung, 7:02 PM
wanna come over when you’re done?
Jimin’s quick to say he’ll be over when he gets out of the shower. Says he might stop to get something to eat with his roommate Hoseok, but he’ll come over right after. Taehyung doesn’t answer that message, but there’s that tingling feeling coursing through his veins again. An excited, anxious type of feeling that he’s never had before. At least, not toward Jimin.
Suddenly, everything feels new and confusing.
THURSDAY, 8:15 PM | JIMIN & HOSEOK’S APARTMENT — BATHROOM
Jimin stands in his shower, water shooting across his face, with his eyes closed and his hands in his hair. He’s been like this for a while now since he came home from dance practice and hopped in the shower. Jimin knows he should leave, but he can’t make himself move. He’s paralyzed by his thoughts of Taehyung.
It wasn’t supposed to be anything. The kiss, that is. And their fake relationship. But Jimin’s mind has been on a loop of Taehyung and his lips ever since they kissed in front of his entire class today. And he doesn’t mean to, because he knows Taehyung isn’t actually his boyfriend, but he can’t make his brain stop.
The water is nearing a scorching type of hot, mirroring Jimin’s desire. With his eyes closed like this, he just sees Taehyung’s face and he doesn’t know how to make it stop. But there’s a bigger part of him that doesn’t want to stop at all. And that within itself is scary to Jimin.
Jimin’s heart is racing— literally slamming in his chest still and has been ever since he left Taehyung’s class. He thought it was just the rush of kissing in front of Daejung, but then Jimin was halfway across campus and his heart was still beating quickly. He had tried to ignore it and attempted to dance off the feeling during practice. Needless to say, that didn’t work too well. Taehyung preoccupied his mind as he danced as well; his face lingering in the back of Jimin’s mind as he moved to the music.
And now here, alone in the shower, Jimin is defenseless to what his mind and his heart clearly what. He can’t stop his hand from traveling lower on his abdomen, his fingertips just inches from facing his desire head-on.
He’s your best friend, Jimin thinks to himself. He says it over and over again in his mind, trying to form some type of mental block on Taehyung. But it’s useless. The only thing Jimin can think of his Taehyung’s mouth, and his lips, and how much he wants to kiss him again.
It’s only after his hand has a firm grip on himself, quick strokes back and forth, that he no longer fights the feeling. It’s useless, apparently. Jimin’s no match for what his body wants. And right now, his body wants Taehyung. So he’ll have to settle for the thought of him.
When Jimin comes, not too long after that, he’s whimpering Taehyung’s name and biting his bottom lip. He envisions Taehyung under him, kissing at his neck and begging Jimin not to stop. He imagines kissing Taehyung over and over and over.
The water is lukewarm now and Jimin spends a few extra minutes cleaning himself off again. He twists the knob a bit, making the water run a little cooler on his body. Jimin splashes it on his face, trying to snap himself out of whatever lovesick, lustful trance he’s gotten himself into.
Eventually, he turns the water off. His thoughts seem extra loud now that the shower isn’t running and unable to drown them out.
Jimin steps out of the shower feeling satisfied but very, very guilty.
THURSDAY, 9:07 PM | TAEHYUNG & JEONGGUK’S APARTMENT
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Taehyung comments when he opens his apartment door to let Jimin in. But more accurately, Jimin looks like he is the ghost. His skin is definitely more pale than usual, like he’s sick or scared. Taehyung’s furrowing his eyebrows and looking him over in more detail as he walks by him and enters.
Jimin makes an awkward type of laughing sound. He says, “No, I’m fine. Just tired, I guess.”
As Taehyung’s closing the door, he asks, “Well, do you wanna sleep? We can just—“
“—no, it’s okay,” Jimin says, not letting Taehyung finish. He waves his hand in Taehyung’s direction and sits down on his couch. Just to have something to do with his hands, Jimin picks up the television remote and flips through the channels.
He doesn’t think it’s a good idea to even have thoughts about Taehyung right now. Especially when they’re ones about sharing a bed with him. Being only centimeters apart. Knowing he can reach out and kiss him so easily.
Taehyung sits down next to him on the couch. Nearly right next to each other, barely touching, despite the entire couch being open. Jimin finds himself wondering if he and Taehyung have always been like this. Is he just now noticing?
Jimin tells himself to relax. Taehyung isn’t acting weird so he shouldn’t either. Actually, Taehyung looks fine. Not even phased in the slightest about their kiss, and Jimin wishes he were more like Taehyung. Jimin turns his head to look at him, because he can’t resist it, and he thinks he stares right at Taehyung’s mouth. Quickly, he averts his eyes back toward the television.
They’re silent for a while. Taehyung watching Jimin pass by television shows and movies. He settles on one just because there’s a fighting scene and Jimin’s always liked martial arts. Taehyung’s taste is more romantic comedies, but he doesn’t mind any type of movie as long as it’s interesting. Anything Jimin picks is interesting.
The elephant in the room seems to grow the longer they sit in silence, barely inches apart, and don’t talk about it. Taehyung keeps stealing glances at Jimin, and Jimin keeps pretending he doesn’t feel Taehyung looking at him.
Taehyung, the braver out of the two for the moment, says, “That was quick thinking on your part today.”
Jimin feels his heart pick up speed again at just the thought of it. But he acts causal, tries not to show it on his face. Smiling a mellow type of smile, he shrugs one shoulder and says simply, “Thanks.”
But then Taehyung asks, “Do you think anyone actually believed it?”
Jimin squints. With his face a bit scrunched, he turns to look at Taehyung. He asks, “Believed it?”
Taehyung raises his arms and puts them down. He says, “You know, like… do you think the kiss looked real?”
“Pretty sure it was real, Taehyung,” Jimin says back in sort of a mumble. It’s hard to hear Taehyung over how loud his heart is beating in his ears.
Scooting to the edge of the couch, Jimin watches Taehyung pull at his the ends of his shirt. He’s wearing a long sleeve sweater with their university’s name on the front. He’s in gray sweatpants that Jimin is almost positive belong to Jeongguk considering they’re tight around the ankles and rather fitted to Taehyung’s form. He typically opts for clothes a size to two bigger.
Scratching at his ear, Taehyung asks Jimin shyly, “Do you think...we should practice?”
Jimin is pretty sure his mouth is hung open, stuck in that position for a few seconds. He blinks at Taehyung, trying to decide if he heard him right or not. Because this could rightfully just be Jimin’s wishful thinking.
“Um,” Jimin says emptily. He closes his mouth and stares at Taehyung.
But his lack of response is just making Taehyung more nervous. He’s fidgeting now and Jimin hates when Taehyung fidgets. It just means he’s getting anxious, and Jimin’s never been the one to make Taehyung anxious before. Jimin wants to kiss him just to calm him down. To apologize. To comfort him.
Taehyung twists the fabric around his knuckles, straining the cloth and turning his flesh a paler color under the pressure of it. Taehyung licks his lips, eyes focused on Jimin’s.
He’s sort of rambling now, like Jimin’s mouth his hypnotizing him. The more he talks, the closer the two of them seem to get. Like a magnetic pull between them, guiding them closer and closer. Like fate aligning them. Like the owner of their red string sewing them tighter.
“Like...so if we do it again… it looks real? Like— like we’re dating for real, like…” Taehyung’s voice trails off but that’s okay because Jimin’s hand cups behind the back of his head and presses their lips together.
Their mouths are slow to connect; the last bit of nervousness in their bodies slowing down their inertia before completely giving in. Jimin loves the way Taehyung leans into him like he did last time in class. The way Taehyung presses his body weight into Jimin’s; giving himself to him, and trusting Jimin to know exactly what to do.
Jimin’s eyes fall shut and everything else in the world disappears beside Taehyung. All he feels is him, all he tastes is him, all he hears is him. It’s beautiful to be surrounded by nothing but Taehyung. He could drown in Taehyung’s existence and feel like he was floating instead. Taehyung makes him feel like he’s drifting.
On his right, Jimin feels Taehyung’s hand petting gently at the sides of his hair. In a steady rhythm, Taehyung’s thumb sweeps back and forth, gliding through the strands. Jimin leans his head toward Taehyung’s touch.
When they break apart, partially because neither of them remembered to come up for air, they’re both panting. Only inches apart now, they both still have one hand hooked around each other, keeping him close.
Taehyung’s lips are glistening; they’re slightly parted and a deepened type of red color from kissing. He’s staring at Jimin like he’s seconds from begging Jimin to kiss him again. Jimin watches Taehyung’s teeth trap his bottom lip for a moment. He lets it go and Jimin can’t think about anything else other than wanting to bite it himself.
Jimin leans in, and so does Taehyung.
Before they overthink it, they’re kissing again.
Deeper this time, because they’re more comfortable. Jimin sticks his tongue out a bit, trying to get Taehyung to open his mouth. There’s no hesitation to the way Taehyung does what Jimin wants. He parts his lips, relaxes his jaw, and lets Jimin gain entrance.
Jimin’s tongue is soft and warm against Taehyung’s. And he’s gentle with the way he sinks his teeth into Taehyung’s bottom lip. He pulls at it softly, just enough to feel the hitching in Taehyung’s breathing, and then kisses him again.
Taehyung’s hands begin to roam. He cups both sides of Jimin’s face in his hands to keep him still. Jimin lets Taehyung have control; stays put as Taehyung explores him.
His hands are much bigger than Jimin’s so they cover most of his face when he’s holding him like this. But Jimin doesn’t mind; he loves the feeling of Taehyung’s hands against his skin and the way they tilt his head just a bit to adjust their kiss.
Just like with everything else Taehyung does, he’s careful with kissing Jimin. Jimin can feel him thinking about every move he does before he does it. Calculating just how hard to kiss Jimin this time, how much of his tongue to use, how much closer he should pull himself.
But Jimin doesn’t want Taehyung to think. He wants both to do whatever comes naturally and then go from there. Suddenly, at that moment, Jimin has no fear. There’s never anything to be afraid of when they’re together.
In each other’s arms is the safest place either of them has ever been.
They kiss for what feels like a lifetime. Two lifetimes, maybe, one for each of them. Jimin’s taken back the lead now; addicted to the way Taehyung becomes docile under Jimin’s touch. He moans, just a bit when Jimin presses into him and it makes Jimin want to know what else he can do to make Taehyung moan.
Jimin only breaks their kiss long enough to tell Taehyung in a whisper, “Lay back, baby. Lay down.”
The pet name doesn’t seem forced this time and there’s no one here but them to hear it. This time around, it sounds sweet and Taehyung feels his heart beat funny when Jimin says it.
Taehyung listens, doing as Jimin says without much question. He pushes himself toward the arm of the couch and leans backward until he’s lying flat. Jimin is on top of him seconds later. He taps at Taehyung’s legs, wanting him to part them, and then looks up at Taehyung to see if it’s okay.
There’s a teasing type of smile on Taehyung’s face as he spreads his legs and motions for Jimin to come closer. He misses his lips and his hands and his warmth in the few seconds they were gone.
Taehyung’s sweatpants give away his excitement. Once Jimin is comfortably settled with Taehyung’s legs wrapped around his lower back, Jimin can feel that he’s already half-hard. Taehyung reaches for him, makes a motion with his hands and lifts his chin, asking for another kiss. Jimin can’t help but smile. He’s just too cute.
Jimin’s never been able to deny Taehyung anything and he doesn’t plan on starting now. Softly, Jimin reconnects their lips. They’re old pros at it now and Jimin feels like he and Taehyung have been doing this for years. It would be scary how natural the two of them fall into place, but somewhere deep down they both know this was written in the cards for them. Inevitability finally catching up to them and transforming itself into reality.
They fall into a nice motion; Jimin pushing down when Taehyung pushes up. It gives them the friction they’re both craving. They make a good team, adjusting to each other within seconds. It doesn’t take long for them to figure out exactly what each other wants, and the right way to move to make him start to unravel.
“Oh, fuck,” Jimin moans, breaking their kiss to bury his face in Taehyung’s neck. He occupies his mouth by kissing and licking at Taehyung’s skin. He peppers kisses over Taehyung’s pulse and up toward his ear.
Taehyung is starting to sound desperate and Jimin guesses this is how he gets when he’s close. It’s like music to Jimin's ears, suddenly his favorite song, the way Taehyung’s moaning. He curls his arm around Jimin’s head, cradles it against his, and bucks his hips upward.
He’s not nearly as coordinated as Jimin but he’s completely how Jimin would expect him to be. He’s overeager and panting and moaning Jimin’s name along with a string of mostly nonsense.
“I’m so close, Jimin. I’m—” Taehyung is whimpering into Jimin’s hair. He’s got his eyes closed, squeezing them shut a bit, with his mouth going slack. Jimin lifts his head, because Taehyung sounds way too pretty right now to not look at, and presses their foreheads together.
Jimin holds Taehyung’s hips and pushes forward into him, bringing himself closer and closer to his climax as well. He’s making steady eye contact and whispers, “No, baby, look at me,” whenever Taehyung’s eyes flutter shut.
It’s not too long after, that Taehyung is making high pitched whining sounds as he’s coming. He knows Jimin wants him to keep his eyes open but he can’t help the way they close automatically. He hugs Jimin closer, and Jimin stays still and lets him grind against him as his orgasm begins to subside.
He’s out of breath now. Panting heavily still when Jimin starts moving again to finish. He goes for a few minutes longer; having to hold Taehyung in place now that he’s sensitive.
When Jimin comes, he kisses Taehyung to keep himself quiet. He holds his breath and pushes against Taehyung until he can’t anymore. And when he’s finished, Jimin all but plops himself down on top of him.
Minutes pass slowly, and when Jimin finally peels himself from Taehyung he smiles. Taehyung has his eyes closed, breathing slowly, like he’s still lost somewhere in his head. With his index finger, Jimin pets Taehyung’s cheek to get him to open his eyes.
“Anybody in there?” Jimin jokes, still petting lovingly at Taehyung’s flushed cheek. Jimin decides right then when Taehyung’s eyes open drowsily and he looks at Jimin like he’s his entire world, that fucked-out is by far his favorite look on Taehyung.
Sitting up a little more, Taehyung mumbles back sluggishly, “I think my brain just restarted.”
Jimin laughs. Taehyung does, too.
This time, Jimin doesn’t feel nervous when he ducks his head to kiss Taehyung. His lips are just as sweet as ever. Soft and inviting. Jimin’s new favorite thing.
He doesn’t want to, but Jimin has to ask. “Should we get up? Jeonggukie should be coming home soon, right?”
But Taehyung shakes his head. He closes his eyes again as he tells Jimin, “Went to Namjoon-hyung’s to record. Won’t be home till later.”
That’s the best news Jimin’s heard all year. He raises his eyebrow and says, right before kissing Taehyung again, “Then I guess we can stay like this for a little while.”
FRIDAY, 4:45 PM | JIMIN & HOSEOK’S APARTMENT
“They’re acting different,” Hoseok observes, leaning into Jeongguk. They both sit on the sofa and watch Taehyung and Jimin in the kitchen.
The two of them are cooking something. Neither Jeongguk or Hoseok is sure what, considering neither of them are fantastic cooks. But if Jeongguk had to guess, based solely on what they usually make at their house, the two of them are making ramen. Doesn’t usually take two to boil some noodles and a few eggs, but the two of them have been even more attached at the hip than usual.
Jeongguk rubs his bottom lip. He watches Taehyung excitedly scroll through his phone, stop on something, and show it to Jimin. They both laugh. The type of laugh that would seem fake or super obnoxious to Hoseok if he couldn’t see how happy the two of them genuinely were.
Crossing his arms, Hoseok says, “What’s going on with these two?”
Laughing sarcastically, Jeongguk says, “Where do I start?”
Tapping Hoseok on the shoulder, Jeongguk asks as he’s giggling, “Did you hear what they’ve been doing for the past week?”
Hoseok shakes his head. He watches Jimin take over stirring the pot while Taehyung heads to the refrigerator for what Hoseok assumes would be the carton of eggs. He rummages through the items inside, spots what he’s looking for, and walks it back over to Jimin.
Taehyung’s more of a glorified assistant when it comes to anything in the kitchen. He’s helpful, listens well, and has more creativity than he knows what to do with. But he’s definitely not your first pick when you need someone to make you a meal. Jimin’s more trustworthy in that sense. Hoseok can understand why Jimin is the one by the open flame and Taehyung is the one handing Jimin the ingredients.
“They’ve been fake dating.”
Scrunching his face, Hoseok looks over at Jeongguk like he doesn’t understand. He asks, “Fake dating?”
It’s a joke; they both laugh. No one would actually know they were faking anything, especially because this is exactly how they’ve always acted. Since Hoseok has known Jimin, Taehyung has been attached to him. They’re constantly by each other’s side; the university’s own Batman and Robin of sorts.
“Fake dating,” Jeongguk repeats. He presses his index finger to his lips, keeping his smile at bay. Honestly, he thinks it’s cute. He’s enjoyed the week of watching the two of them amp up their relationship in the name of bad app dating and actually just fall for each other even more. His hyungs are idiots, but they’re cute idiots.
Taehyung pushes himself up to sit on the counter. He’s got his feet swinging, barefoot now that they’re all inside, and flicking his finger upward on his phone. He’s telling Jimin something about a new song Gallant is coming out with and Jimin, a fan of anything Taehyung is a fan of, tells him he’s excited to hear it.
Hoseok watches Jimin place the lid on the pot while the water boils, rest the spoon on the stove, and walk toward Taehyung. He places himself between Taehyung’s legs; hands on both of Taehyung’s thighs, and lifts himself on his tiptoes to get a good look at Taehyung’s phone screen.
Pointing, Hoseok says, “This is fake?”
Shaking his head, Jeongguk answers, “To them, it is, yeah.”
Jimin turns his head to look straight at Taehyung, and with Taehyung’s head a bit bowed, their bangs interlace with each other. Taehyung laughs and Hoseok hears him say something about it tickling his nose. So Jimin shakes his head, sweeping his hair back and forth over the bridge of Taehyung’s nose now just to make him laugh. Taehyung hugs him to make him stop.
“So I’m not seeing any of this right now?!” Hoseok asks, laughing just a bit because this is a little insane. These two look completely head over heels for each other and he’s supposed to just take it as they’re, as Jeongguk says, fake dating.
Scratching the side of his head, Jeongguk responds, “Oh, no you see it. They’re just...pretending.”
He turns his head to the side and gives Hoseok a look. One that says it’s all a load of crap and he’s waiting for the two of them to admit it to themselves. It’s tiring watching your two best friends fall in love and not even being able to celebrate it because they aren’t ready to admit it. Jeongguk hopes he isn’t this dense when he falls in love.
“That’s bullshit,” Hoseok comments, rolling his eyes.
Jeongguk couldn’t agree more.
Taehyung is pushing himself into a standing position now, but Jimin doesn’t give him much room to do so. So instead they end up chest to chest, Jimin ticking Taehyung’s side. And Taehyung smiles his world-famous smile— nearly all his teeth showing, eyes scrunched up, and his eyebrows raising.
Jimin shows mercy after only a few seconds and lets Taehyung walk by him. He’s going to check the boiling eggs. When he’s at the stove, Jimin comes up behind him and wraps his arms around Taehyung’s waist. They watch Jimin rest his head on Taehyung’s shoulder as he watches him rotate the contents of the pot.
If it were anyone else besides these two pretending to date because they’re too scared to date for real, Hoseok would be fed up. But he can’t hide the smile on his face he gets when he watches them together. He’s only been Jimin’s roommate for a year now, but he’s clearly happiest when he’s with Taehyung. It’s nice to see him smile like this.
With fictitious annoyance, Hoseok says, “They’re lucky they’re cute or I would’ve kicked their ass by now.”
Chuckling, Jeongguk tells him, “I would’ve helped you.”
They take bets on how long it'll take the two of them to come to their senses.
FRIDAY, 7:14 PM | STUDIO B, PERFORMING ARTS BUILDING
With a change of clothes slung over his shoulder and an ice cold bottle of water, Taehyung arrives at the end of Jimin’s dance practice. It was only for an hour and a half today, usually nearing an hour more, but since it’s Friday their coach was a bit more lenient.
Jimin had texted Taehyung a few minutes before it started to ask him to bring him a chance of clothes. He left his gym bag at his apartment, and since Taehyung lives much closer to the Performing Arts Building than Jimin does, it just made more sense to have Taehyung bring him clothes. Plus, if Jimin’s honest, he just wanted to see him again.
Taehyung thinks he must be falling hard because he doesn’t even bat an eyelash when Jimin walks up to him and he’s nearly dripping wet with sweat. In fact, Taehyung finds it kind of sexy. Jimin's hair is beginning to stick together and plaster itself to his forehead. Taehyung thinks it’s cute the way Jimin' cheeks are red from being too warm. It looks like he's blushing.
“Hey, baby. Thanks,” Jimin says as he lifts his chin to kiss Taehyung. Daejung is somewhere in the room, but that’s not even on their mind anymore. They’re no longer doing this for him, they’re doing this for them. And if he happens to see them, well, so be it.
It’s natural the way they are now. More natural than before, that is. But truthfully, not much is different. Even if they weren’t fake dating or real dating or whatever the hell this is, Taehyung would have still been here right now with a change of clothes and water. Because more than anything Jimin is his best friend. He’ll always be there for him.
But Taehyung would be lying if he didn’t say that kissing Jimin whenever he wants now is a definite perk. And Taehyung, Jimin is beginning to learn quickly, likes to kiss a lot. Probably his favorite thing after cuddling. He’s cute like that.
Taehyung hands over the bottle of water and says, “I’ll wait here for you.”
Jimin smiles at him. For a moment he just stares at Taehyung, and Taehyung isn’t quite sure what he’s looking at or what he’s thinking. But then he’s cupping the side of Taehyung’s face and kissing him again. It’s a deeper kiss; like they’re making a statement, but Taehyung doesn’t pull away.
It’s nice to do this— to feel free enough to do this. To simultaneously not care who sees them and wanting everyone to see.
Taehyung purses his lips and lets Jimin get his fill of him. Stands there with his arms loosely around Jimin’s waist and kisses him back. For as long as he wants. Taehyung doesn't care. He'd stay like this for an eternity. It feels like forever, but in reality, it was just a minute to two.
When Jimin pulls back, he’s a little heavy winded. He smiles at Taehyung again, licks at his lips and says, “I’ll be right back.”
Jimin peeks over his shoulder and spots Daejung chatting with some of the newer teammates. Jimin looks back at Taehyung and asks, "You'll be okay?"
"I'll be fine," Taehyung says. He thinks Daejung get the point now. And even if he doesn't, Taehyung clearly isn't interested in him.
Some of Jimin’s teammates ooh and aah at the two of them when Jimin lifts his head to steal one more kiss from Taehyung's lips just because. A few even whistle at them but it’s all lighthearted. If they’re all honest, it feels like they’ve been waiting years for them to get to this point too.
Taehyung and Jimin and glad they can help align everyone’s stars.
When Jimin’s gone, disappeared into the locker room, Taehyung sits down on the hardwood floor. He keeps his head down, texting Jeongguk the details of the party tomorrow when he feels someone coming up to him.
“Hey,” the voice greets.
Blinking, Taehyung looks up. Daejung is standing in front of him with his hair pulled up into a bun and a black sleeveless shirt that shows off his muscles. There’s a smile on his face that shows he’s nervous. Taehyung puts his phone down.
“Hi,” he says back.
Daejung is quick to say, “I’m not here to cause any trouble, I just wanted to say...you and Jimin look happy. It’s nice. I guess… I’m happy for you.”
Taehyung almost laughs. A little sarcastically, Taehyung answers, “Thanks, I guess.”
Somehow, he and Daejung fall into a conversation after that. He asks Taehyung how he’s coming on his paper for their shared class and Taehyung tells him he hasn’t even started it yet. The semester is still young, Taehyung figures he has plenty of time.
To be polite, Taehyung asks Daejung about his paper. He tells Taehyung he’s in the same boat, but since he’s not a good writer, he might need a tutor.
“Jimin tutors,” Taehyung says out of reflex; it comes out of his mouth too quick for him to be able to stop it. Instantly, he ducks his head and laughs. This is the same thing that got him in trouble on their date. He just can’t seem to stop talking about Jimin.
But this time Daejung is nice about it. He makes a joke out of it and says, “Don’t think he’d wanna tutor me. It’s probably for the best.”
When Jimin comes back, he walks upon the two of them laughing. His eyes narrow suspiciously and he says, “Hey,” to both of them.
He holds his hand out for Taehyung to take, assisting him to stand up. Once Taehyung is upright, Jimin looks at Daejung and says, “Good practice today. You did well.”
Jimin thinks Daejung didn’t expect him to say something that nice, so it takes him a minute to respond. Jimin watches him blink like he’s shocked, and then he replies, “Yeah, thanks. I’m not nearly as good as you but...I’m trying.”
Smiling, Jimin tells him, “You’re still new, don’t be so hard on yourself.”
Daejung’s nod is his only answer. He takes a step back, giving the two of them an open path to the door. Holding his hand out, he says to them, “Guess I’ll see you guys around.”
Taehyung offers him a small wave before he and Jimin walk hand in hand toward the exit. As they’re leaving, Jimin’s teammates remind him about the party tomorrow. Too many people have told Jimin so he says they’ll definitely be there. But Taehyung doesn’t mind; like he said, he likes parties.
“You were nice tonight,” Taehyung says, playfully punching at Jimin’s arm once they're out of earshot from any of Jimin's teammates.
Jimin looks offended. He says, “I know how to be nice.”
Taehyung laughs. “To Daejung? Only sometimes, babe.”
Jimin can't argue with that, so he doesn't. But Jimin doesn't feel the need to be hostile toward him anymore. He thinks they're all on the same wavelength. Just about the whole world knows Taehyung and Jimin are together now.
SUNDAY, 10:23 AM | JIMIN & HOSEOK’S APARTMENT — JIMIN’S BEDROOM
They’re both hungover but being hungover together is better than being hungover apart. The party last night was definitely the biggest party of the year, and it’s definitely the most the two of them have drunk in a while. Jimin is pretty sure he was dancing on a table to Yeah! by Usher and pulled Taehyung up with him during the chorus.
And Taehyung, bless his little lightweight heart, more or less tapped out after his fourth shot. But Jimin’s proud of him, he lasted longer than he thought he would’ve considering he had two beers before that. He even had a few sips of Jimin’s cranberry-vodka.
When Taehyung’s drunk he gets much more touchy than he usually is. Which is hard to do, but he manages to do it each time. And Jimin, who’s much better at holding his alcohol, found himself trailing Taehyung all night making sure he didn’t get into trouble. The most trouble Taehyung would ever get into while drunk is innocently flirting with someone or falling sleep on the kitchen floor, but Jimin was around to make sure none of that happened.
But all Taehyung wanted to do was dance. By his second shot, he was bouncing around the house like an excited puppy, spilling what was left in his beer bottle over anyone in his range. Normally Taehyung or Jimin would apologize because that’s rude and they might’ve ruined their clothes, but both of them didn’t care.
Most of the night, truthfully, Jimin doesn’t remember. But the highlights are as followed: making out with Taehyung at the bottom of the staircase for what must‘ve been half of the time they were there, Taehyung excitedly introducing Jimin to everyone they passed as “This is my boyfriend, Jimin!”, and Taehyung’s slurred but adorable singing as Jimin piggybacked him back to his apartment.
So in short, Taehyung was the highlight. As he always is.
And even now, Taehyung is the highlight. They’ve come to realize that this is the way they always end up no matter how they fall asleep: Jimin on his back, Taehyung curled up against his side with his head on his chest, and Jimin’s hand gently on the back of his head.
As usual, Jimin’s awake before Taehyung and this time he’s not worried about taking his hand away in time so that Taehyung doesn’t know he was playing with his hair. It’s okay now, and Jimin loves knowing that. He wants Taehyung to wake up to the feeling of Jimin petting his hair, and knowing that he’s safe as long as Jimin is around.
It takes about fifteen minutes, but Jimin eventually feels Taehyung waking up. He’s rubbing the side of his face against Jimin’s bare chest as he’s beginning to open his eyes. Jimin thinks he’s cute, and can’t wait for him to lift his head so he can kiss him good morning. Disgusting, hungover morning breath and all. Jimin doesn’t care.
Taehyung’s hand curls into a loose fist as he stretches his left arm. He yawns softly, warm air brushing over Jimin’s sensitive skin, and then adjusts his head on Jimin’s chest again. Scratching softly at the back of Taehyung’s head, Jimin asks, “You awake now?”
“Mmm,” Taehyung groans. Jimin can’t see his face, but he can tell he’s squeezing his eyes shut dramatically as he whispers back, “Not so loud.”
Taehyung’s throat is scratchy. He feels like he needs to drink a gallon of water. And wear a black sheet over his head to block the sun from his eyes. His head is pounding. Everything hurts. He wants to go back to sleep.
Sympathetically, Jimin rubs Taehyung’s back. Softer, Jimin says, “Sorry, baby.”
But Taehyung turns his head so that he can face Jimin now. His eyes are only half open when they meet with Jimin’s slightly brighter ones. After a few moments, Taehyung asks, “Are you hungover?”
Laughing, Jimin whispers back, “Clearly not as much as you.”
Again, Taehyung groans. He lifts himself enough to nuzzle against Jimin’s neck. He buries himself there. It’s dark and it’s warm and it smells like Jimin. That's all Taehyung could ask for right now.
Jimin’s hands are a little clammy as they rub circles on Taehyung’s back. His blunt fingertips feel good against Taehyung’s slightly heated flesh. He makes a content type of sound in Jimin’s ear, and Jimin can’t resist turning to the left to kiss the side of Taehyung’s head.
“You were quite the party animal last night, baby,” Jimin tells him in a hushed tone. He laughs, Taehyung whines.
With his voice muffled, Taehyung complains, “Why did you let me drink so much?”
Jimin ruffles the back of his hair. “You make your own decisions, Taehyungie.”
Again, Taehyung whines.
“What kinda boyfriend are you?”
Jimin giggles. “A great one. Apparently. That’s what you told everyone last night at the party.”
Taehyung sits up then. His bed hair makes his confused face even cuter. Again, Jimin sneaks a kiss. He loves that he can do that now. But Taehyung seems unphased by Jimin’s lips. He blinks and asks, “Huh?”
Shrugging, Jimin asks almost rhetorically, “So you don’t remember dragging me all around the party introducing me to everyone as your boyfriend? Telling them I’m great?”
Embarrassed, Taehyung returns to the home he’s made himself against Jimin’s neck. Once his face is covered again he says, “Did not.”
“Oh, but you did,” Jimin says, laughing. “I have a video of you saying it if you wanna see it later.”
Taehyung’s response is simply another groan.
His arm hooks around Jimin’s neck and he tells Jimin, “I take it back now.”
Jimin raises an eyebrow. “Which part? The boyfriend part or the part about me being great?”
Taehyung lifts his head so that he’s hovering over Jimin. They’re nose to nose. The sunlight is shining right across Taehyung’s face, directly through his right eye, making it appear much more brown. Jimin finds himself thinking, yet again, that everything about Taehyung is pretty.
Jimin angles his chin upward so that his lips can connect with Taehyung’s. Immediately, Taehyung exhales, relaxing against Jimin’s body. He slides his arms under Jimin’s head, supporting his neck as he kisses him. After a few moments, they pull apart.
Pouting, Taehyung says, “I guess I won’t take back the boyfriend part.”
SUNDAY, 2:28 PM | SEOUL PANCAKE HOUSE, RESTAURANT
Hoseok is convinced that the best remedy for a hangover is pancakes so here they all are. All four of them are sitting in the exact same booth they were in about a week ago. Jimin is convinced the waitress did that on purpose. She was here last time too.
Despite Hoseok’s advice, the two of them order waffles instead. Hoseok and Jeongguk order pancakes. And since they’re all nursing a hangover, they order eggs and bacon and fruit to share.
Taehyung takes another bite out of his waffle and then leans against Jimin, resting his head on his shoulder. He closes his eyes and says, “I’m not even hungry, I just wanna sleep.”
“Such a lightweight,” Jeongguk says teasingly. He reaches over the table and cuts himself a piece of Taehyung’s waffle. Just because Taehyung isn’t going to eat it doesn’t mean he won’t.
Jimin leans over to the side and kisses the top of Taehyung's head.
Hoseok looks over at Jeongguk and says, “Was that a pretend kiss or a real kiss?”
Jeongguk laughs, Jimin flips him off.
“Shut up,” Taehyung mumbles, not even bothering to open his eyes to entertain Hoseok.
Holding his hands up defensively, Hoseok says, “Hey, I’m sorry I can’t keep up with you two. First, you’re just friends that look like you’re dating, then you’re not, then you are dating but it’s fake— I’m just confused. Anyone would be.”
Again, Jimin flips him off.
Under the table, Taehyung rubs Jimin’s thigh.
Jeongguk asks, a lot gentler, “So...are you guys still pretend, fairytale dating or…?”
He looks at Jimin, then down at Taehyung who’s got his eyes open now. Jeongguk stops chewing and waits for an answer.
Taehyung decides to take the lead. He says simply, “Not pretending.”
Order the table, Jimin holds Taehyung’s hand. Jimin repeats, "Not pretending."
It feels nice to say. Really, really nice.
Rolling his eyes, Hoseok says, “Fuckin’ finally.”
It’s safe to say everyone at the table feels the exact same way.