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The Chaos Next Door

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“Hoseok, I don’t think I really need something like that,” Yoongi said, standing cross-armed behind his friend as he watched him set up an electronic device on a shelf in his living room.

“Hyung,” Hoseok stopped what he was doing and turned around to give Yoongi his signature ‘We already talked about this’ look. “You ignore 99% of my text messages.”

“Everyone ignores their text messages!” Yoongi protested. “This Amazon Echo whatever thing is just another capitalism trick to make you think you need something when you actually don’t.”

“Start calling it Alexa,” Hoseok said. “And you’re the only one who ignores text messages.”

“I still reply!”

“Like five days after!”

That kind of shut Yoongi up. He was practicing hard for a recital during that day and Hoseok was texting him to make sure that he was eating. Apparently Hoseok was minutes away from using Yoongi’s secret key to break into his apartment.

‘Hoseok’s just being a good friend, like always,’ Yoongi reminded himself. He sighed and picked up the Amazon Echo user manual. “So, what else does it do?” he decided to ask.

“It streams audiobooks, podcasts, and playlists for you,” Hoseok answered. “Which I think you’ll like if you want to have a secret dance party in here or something.” Yoongi rolled his eyes. “It also reads out news updates and text messages. And it can set alarms for you and everything.”

“Do you think it has a chance of becoming self-aware?” Yoongi joked. “What if I wake up with my brains right beside my pillow?”

“I don’t need that image in my head right now,” Hoseok groaned. “Alright, I think it’s all set up,” he stood up and stepped back. The device, which looked like a cylindrical speaker with glowing light blue lights, was only plugged into an electrical outlet and nothing else. Yoongi had no remote idea as to how Hoseok set it up, except for maybe hooking it up to his cellphone and Amazon account.

“So… is it on?” Yoongi cocked his head.

“I don’t know, ask it.”

“You’re the one who installed it!”

“Fine,” Hoseok cleared his throat. “Alexa?”

The blue lights on the device blinked and an electronic female voice spoke. “How may I help you?”

“Alexa, are you plotting the downfall of mankind?” Yoongi blurted out.

“Hyung!” Hoseok elbowed him.

“Very funny,” Alexa said. “But that is not part of my programming.”

“She has your sass,” Hoseok said. “By the way, you have to say her name whenever you ask for something."

"I could get used to this,” Yoongi shrugged.

“Here’s the best part,” Hoseok grinned. “Alexa, play All Star by Smashmouth.”

“Playing… All Star by Smashmouth.”

“NO NO NO!” Yoongi yelled as the first few parts of the song started to play.

“Somebody once told me the world was gonna roll me,” Hoseok sang along.

“Alexa stop playing All Star by Smashmouth!” Yoongi yelled over Hoseok’s singing. The music stopped abruptly.

“So, now you know how to work Alexa,” Hoseok laughed.

“Thanks for the tutorial,” Yoongi punched Hoseok on the shoulder.

“Hello?” the two of them jumped slightly when they heard the knock on the door.

“Shit, I think we disturbed the cranky old lady next door,” Yoongi cursed.

“That doesn’t sound like an old lady,” Hoseok frowned. Yoongi quickly walked from the living room of his small apartment to the door and opened it. Standing in front of him was the exact opposite of a cranky old lady. To his surprise, Yoongi found a young man, slightly taller than him, with floppy brown hair and a mischievous glint in his eyes. He was wearing a bright purple sweater, something Yoongi thought would never in a million years look good on anyone yet suited the man quite well, and dark jeans that made his legs appear even longer. Despite the fact that the guy was staring down at him, he had a polite, friendly smile on his face.

“Um, are you looking for anyone?” Yoongi asked.

“No, no not really,” the guy shook his head. “I just wanted to introduce myself to my neighbors.” He stepped back and reached a hand out. “My name’s Kim Taehyung and I just moved into the apartment across yours.”

Yoongi shook his hand and glanced at the apartment right in front of his which, just a few days ago, was completely empty but now completely filled with boxes. “No kidding,” he nodded.

“New neighbor huh?” Hoseok appeared right beside Yoongi. He flashed a friendly smile at Kim Taehyung. “Nice to meet you. My name’s Jung Hoseok,” he said, shaking hands with the new guy as well.

“Ooh, are you two roommates?” Taehyung asked, returning Hoseok’s smile. Yoongi narrowed his eyes. Seeing the two of them felt like watching two suns crash into each other.

“Nah, just a very worried friend who sometimes stops by to see if this guy is still alive,” Hoseok wrapped an arm around Yoongi’s shoulders. “Right, hyung?”

“I’m not the one who keeps messing up my laundry,” Yoongi snickered and elbowed his friend.

“Hey! Taehyung! Don’t leave me alone with all these boxes!” another guy appeared, lifting five boxes and setting them down by the front door of the apartment. He was tall too, but not as tall as Taehyung, with floppy black hair that curled slightly at his forehead. He was wearing a black hoodie with matching black jeans, clothes that Yoongi definitely would wear.

“Sorry Jungkookie,” Taehyung smiled innocently. “I was just meeting the new neighbors,” he said, pointing at Yoongi and Hoseok standing by their doorway.

“Hey,” Yoongi waved.

“Nice to meet you,” the other guy bowed politely. “The name’s Jeon Jungkook.”

“Wait, Jeon Jungkook?” Hoseok’s mouth fell open as he pointed a finger at the new guy who appeared. “As in, Closet Gamer Jeon Jungkook?”

“Closet what?” Yoongi frowned in confusion. Meanwhile, Jungkook sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck.

“That’s me,” he smiled shyly. “You watch my videos too?”

“Yeah, but not as much as my friend Seokjin-hyung does,” Hoseok grinned widely and shook Jungkook’s hand. “So you must be Gamer V then?” he pointed at Taehyung.

“That’s me!” the other boy grinned excitedly, holding up a V-sign in front of his eye.

“You’re those gaming Youtube people Seokjin-hyung’s crazy about,” Yoongi said, realization finally dawning on him. He’s never actually watched any of their videos since he wasn’t a gaming fan himself but Seokjin would always talk about their new videos whenever they’d meet up.

“They’re not just gaming Youtube people,” Hoseok said exasperatedly. “They’re the top gaming Youtubers in Korea!” he gestured wildly at the two men standing in the apartment in front of them.

“Not much of a gamer yourself, are you?” Taehyung smiled.

“Not really,” Yoongi shook his head. “Uh, the name’s Min Yoongi, by the way…”

“Min Yoongi,” Taehyung repeated. Yoongi observed that his voice was just as deep as his own voice was.

“He’s twenty-five,” Hoseok added. “Also a genius pianist.” Yoongi smiled shyly and nodded at the introduction.

“That explains the huge piano in the living room,” Jungkook said, peering into Yoongi’s apartment from the doorway.

“Are you guys roommates?” Hoseok asked.

“Nah,” the two of them shook their heads. Yoongi raised an eyebrow at how similar their mannerisms were.

“He can’t handle city life as well as I do,” Jungkook elbowed his friend. “And he needed a more quiet place to move to.”

“I see,” Yoongi nodded. That was one of the reasons why he moved to a small apartment complex in a less-populated area in Seoul. He needed a place to focus on his music and his piano practice.

“Well, we’ll get back to unpacking,” Taehyung said, speaking a bit more formally this time. “I hope to get to know you more too, Min Yoongi-hyung.”

“Just Yoongi is fine,” Yoongi shrugged. “I don’t care much for formality.”

“Alright,” Taehyung smiled brightly.

“Tell us if you need help with anything,” Hoseok offered.

“Will do,” Jungkook waved and him and Taehyung walked back to their apartment.

“Seokjin-hyung will flip when he hears about this,” Hoseok shook his head once Yoongi closed the door. “Hey, do you think there’s space for the two of us here to room in with you? We can help pay for the rent.”

“No, definitely not,” Yoongi deadpanned. “I’d rather have Alexa scoop out my brains.”

“I am unable to do that, sir,” Alexa beeped. Yoongi glared at the machine.

“Fine,” Hoseok sighed.

“Don’t tell Seokjin-hyung about it yet either,” Yoongi said. “I think Taehyung moved here for some peace and quiet. A popular gaming Youtuber probably has a ton of fans here so maybe he doesn’t want his cover to be blown. Ask permission from him or something first.”

“Alright, good thinking,” Hoseok said, sitting down on the couch. “Maybe I’ll just get their autographs sometime and then brag about it to Seokjin.”

“That sounds evil enough,” Yoongi grinned, imagining his hyung’s reaction, before sitting down on the piano bench.

“Well, I have to get going,” Hoseok said, gathering his backpack and phone from the couch. “Jimin’s been texting me about practice since I came here.” At the moment, Hoseok was working as a dance teacher in a nearby high school but Yoongi knew he was still on his way towards his dream of becoming a famous choreographer. Aside from that, he and one of his underclassmen from college, Park Jimin, made Youtube videos of dance covers and other choreographies they made themselves. Yoongi always left likes and supportive comments, often using a bunch of different accounts, whenever they posted a new video.

“Get some dinner on the way,” Yoongi called after Hoseok as he made his way to the door.

“I will, hyung,” he waved. “Answer my texts this time, okay?”

“Alright!” Yoongi nodded as Hoseok left. The house felt much more quiet now with him gone. Quiet was something Yoongi liked but he never liked the silence that falls after one of his friends leave. Yoongi knew that his friends, after being together for years, would pretty much drop everything and spend time with him if he wanted. Yoongi would do the same. But he couldn’t just ask them to do that, they all had their lives to focus on after all.

Yoongi turned back to the piano and stared at the white and black keys in a row. He had his life to focus on as well. To be more specific, another piano concert a few weeks from now.

“Time to get to work,” he muttered to himself, arranging the sheet music in front of him. He had already finished learning his new piece, a Chopin piano concerto, and all that was left to do was refine it. Yoongi sat up straight and stretched out his fingers on the keys.

“New message from Jung Hoseok,” Alexa spoke just as Yoongi was about to press down on the keys. The surprise from her voice made him hammer down on the keys instead. He winced at the noise and glared at the glowing machine again.

“Alexa, read message,” he said through gritted teeth.

“Hey hyung! Hope my timing wasn’t bad,” Alexa read out. Yoongi rolled his eyes at that part. “Just wanted to check if Alexa works. If you don’t reply I’m sending more messages. Make sure to eat your dinner!”

Despite the interruption, Yoongi found himself smiling slightly listening to his dongsaeng worry about him. Hoseok’s message caused something inside him to soften even though it was being read aloud by Alexa’s monotone robot voice. Yoongi never quite developed the habit of self-care, but he was glad he had a friend like Hoseok to replace that.

“Alexa, compose message,” he spoke.

“Composing message,” Alexa responded.

“It works,” Yoongi said, speaking as clearly as possible. “I’m practicing now. Travel safely.” He wished he could come up with better words to send but that was all he could muster at the moment.

“Alexa, send message.”

“Message sent.”

Yoongi smiled and went back to his piano. He could definitely get used to Alexa.

“Dude, what are you going to do for soundproofing?” Jungkook asked. The two of them were standing right smack in the middle of Taehyung’s small living room with piles of boxes around them. Before this place, Taehyung lived in an apartment complex as well in the city and knowing that there were a ton of residents on his floor and that becoming a gamer Youtuber involved a lot of yelling, he invested in soundproofing equipment. Unfortunately, his new landlady wouldn’t let him install some in the apartment. According to her, it brought “bad karma.”

“Maybe I can just record in my room?” Taehyung bit his lip.

“If we heard ‘Allstar’ by Smashmouth in your neighbor’s room from downstairs, do you think your neighbors wouldn’t hear you yelling from here?” Jungkook lifted an eyebrow.

“Whatever, I’ll figure it out eventually,” Taehyung sighed and opened another box of his figurine collection. He’d need to find a space for those soon. “There aren’t that many people in this complex anyway, remember? That’s why I picked it in the first place.”

“Alright, your roof your rules,” Jungkook raised his hands up in surrender. “Are you still going to record a video tonight?”

“I don’t want to let my viewers down. I promised another ‘Five Scary Games’ video,” Taehyung pouted. Despite occasionally forgetting appointments for things, Taehyung stuck to a very strict video upload schedule. He hated letting his followers down because after all, they were the ones who helped get this far.

“We could still do it at my place if you want,” Jungkook offered.

“Nah, I kind of set up my recording equipment and PC the first time I got here,” Taehyung grinned sheepishly. “You better get home already, I know you’ve got a lot of editing to do.”

“Just call me if you need help,” Jungkook said. “Oh, and you might still want to keep it down a bit. I don’t think Min Yoongi is the type of guy you want to upset.”

“Who knows, he might be a bit different,” Taehyung shrugged. “He was playing ‘All Star’ after all.”

“I’m pretty sure it was his friend who was playing ‘All Star’,” Jungkook mused. Taehyung mulled that thought for a while and nodded.

“Yeah, definitely his friend,” he agreed. “Anyway, see you Jungkook! Thanks for helping me move stuff again!”

“No problem!” Jungkook waved again before finally leaving. Taehyung gazed at all the unpacked and packed boxes around him and huffed. He was terrible at unpacking but he didn’t want to take any more of Jungkook’s time either. He knows how antsy his friend could get after not editing videos or making more videos or basically doing anything productive after a while.

“I should unpack this now…” Taehyung sighed to himself before his gaze drifted over to his set-up PC. “Or… later!” And just like that, he surrendered himself to the temptation of procrastination.

He turned on his PC but right before he could put on his headphones, the sound of piano playing drifted into his apartment. Taehyung paused, finding himself drawn to the music, before standing up and walking towards his door where the sound was louder.

Min Yoongi. A genius pianist. He recalled how Hoseok described his neighbor earlier. And he wasn’t lying. Taehyung himself had listened to classical music concerts before when his friend Namjoon brought him so he could definitely tell how great of a player Min Yoongi was. Curious, Taehyung pulled his phone out of his pocket and looked up the name ‘Min Yoongi.’ The first search result revealed a page dedicated to Min Yoongi on a ‘Classical Music in Modern Korea’ website. Scrolling through the page, Taehyung found quite a lot of interesting things.

“Started playing in piano concerts at ten,” Taehyung murmured to himself. “That’s quite young.” He was probably addicted to Pokemon at that age. Min Yoongi’s father was a businessman and not much was known about his mother. Min Yoongi apparently rose to fame as well due to constantly winning in piano competitions as he grew older.

And it appeared to be what he was doing until now.

Taehyung smiled to himself as he leaned back against the door and continued listening to his neighbor’s piano playing. He almost didn’t want to get back to his gaming. After a good long while hearing the same piece again and again, Taehyung finally stood up and went back to his gaming.

“Alexa, what time is it?” Yoongi asked for what was probably the eighth time that night.

“2:45 am,” Alexa answered. Yoongi had transferred the device to his room to play some music before he slept but right now, he was simply using it to check on the time. No music could drown out the loud voice he heard coming from the other room.

“AHHHHH! GOD ANOTHER JUMPSCARE. UGH, IT KEEPS DOING THAT.”

Yoongi groaned and rolled over on his bed. Ever since he started hearing Taehyung’s voice from the other apartment, Yoongi could tell that he was starting to record one of his gaming videos or something. He didn’t bring it up or anything with his neighbor because he thought it would end in an hour… or two. But judging from the continuous yelling, that didn’t seem to be the case.

Yoongi picked up his phone and texted Hoseok. He probably was awake right now since he would play games at this hour as well.

                to: jung hoseok (forever brother)

                >>> HE. HAS NOT. STOPPED. HIS GAMING WHATEVER THING.

                >>> IT’S ALMOST 3 AM I NEED MY SLEEP

A reply came shortly after.

                from: jung hoseok (forever brother)

                >>> well that’s kind of what his job involves

                >>> lots and lots of yelling and screaming

 

                to: jung hoseok (forever brother)

                >>> I NEED IT TO STOP

                >>> I’M GONNA GO OVER TO TELL HIM

Yoongi pulled his blankets off and was about to get up from his beloved bed when Hoseok quickly texted him back.

                from: jung hoseok (forever brother)

                >>> NOT A GOOD IDEA RIGHT NOW BRO

                >>> you see he’s recording a livestream right now and people are watching him LIVE so if you

come in right now people will see YOU interrupt him and be mad at YOU and taehyung will

probably get mad at you too      

Exhausted, Yoongi rubbed his eyes and lay back down on the bed.

                to: jung hoseok (forever brother)

                >>> what the fuck am I supposed to do then???

 

                from: jung hoseok (forever brother)

                >>> invest in earplugs?

“I don’t think I can get those right now,” Yoongi mumbled and pulled the blankets right over himself again.

“ALRIGHT FOLKS, THAT’S ALL FOR TONIGHT,” he heard Taehyung yell. Yoongi perked up and kept listening. “ONCE AGAIN, THANKS FOR COMING TO THE LIVESTREAM. PLEASE SUBSCRIBE IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY. REMEMBER THAT MY FIVE SCARY GAMES LIVESTREAM HAPPENS EVERY THURSDAY SO HIT THAT NOTIFICATION BELL IF YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS ANYTHING. AND ONCE AGAIN, GOOD NIGHT!”

Then, silence.

“Thank God…” Yoongi sighed with relief and closed his eyes.

But then… did he hear that correctly?

It couldn’t be.

Yoongi sat up in cold sweat. “The livestream is every Thursday???”

“Ah, that’s enough for today,” Taehyung nodded, looking pleased with himself as he surveyed his living room. Over the past few hours, he had built two of the shelves he brought from IKEA and had finished displaying his figurines on them. And posting his favorite movie and game posters on the walls. After some time, he realized that he had more posters than actual walls so some of them had to go in his bathroom and kitchen.

Taehyung went back into his bedroom and sat down before his computer table. As soon as he turned on his PC, his phone rang and, seeing that the person calling was Jungkook, Taehyung answered right away.

“Hey, have you seen your livestream activity yet?” Jungkook said by way of greeting. Taehyung grinned and leaned back. His best friend always went straight to the point when making calls.

“Seeing that I finished at around three a.m., I kind of just crashed when I uploaded the video,” Taehyung chuckled.

“Well, you better look at it now,” Jungkook said. “There are so many comments and views. I think this must be your most popular livestream yet.”

“That’s great!” Taehyung practically gushed at the news. Considering other Youtubers in the gaming area of expertise, Taehyung himself was pretty new. He never quite that thought that he would gain such a large number of followers in his first year. Knowing that, he was so thankful for every single subscriber that followed him and devoted himself to making videos they would enjoy. Livestreaming was pretty new to him and not something Taehyung was quite used to and knowing that his subscribers enjoyed it made him even happier.

“Hey, do you think…” Taehyung paused and bit his lip. “Do you think I could do one of those charity livestreams that you do? I’ve always wanted to do one…”

“You should have asked me that months ago,” Jungkook responded.

“I didn’t think I was quite ready for it,” Taehyung said sheepishly.

“You were ready for it ever since you started,” Jungkook said encouragingly. “I mean you’re just as weird and spontaneous in livestreams as you are in all your other videos. Your subscribers love it.”

“And they love you for being so handsome,” Taehyung teased. 99% of the comments on Jungkook’s videos were about how cute or how hot he was.

“Anyway,” Jungkook pressed, eager to change the subject. “Want to do my charity livestream for tomorrow night? It’s to help out ‘Paws for Life’. You know, the pet adoption center near my apartment.”

“Sounds good!” Taehyung agreed. He always had a soft spot for animals. “What game are we playing.”

“Oooh, you should check out the one I’m playing right now,” Jungkook said excitedly. “’Welcome to the Game.’”

“The creepy dark web one?” Taehyung only saw Jungkook release a ‘First Impressions’ video of that one.

“I’ve been playing it pretty much non-stop since I first tried it out,” Jungkook continued. “The first game is pretty sure but the second one is amazing.”

“Do you think I should do a reaction video for that one?” Taehyung asked.

“Definitely. I can’t wait to hear your manly screams for that one.”

“Hey, you’re the one who does all the manly screams,” Taehyung shook his head. “I do the ‘staring intently with eyebrows furrowing’ look.”

“Well, whatever. You should check it out and play the second game for the livestream,” Jungkook said.

“Alright, I better get to it,” Taehyung said.

“I’ll get back to playing. See ya, Taehyung.”

“Bye,” Taehyung responded and hung up. He turned back to his fired up PC and started looking for the game Jungkook suggested. Once he downloaded both versions one and two on his laptop, he checked on his webcam to see if it was working before taking a soundcheck. Just before he was about to start recording he heard the sound of piano playing coming from Min Yoongi’s apartment.

“Really, right now?” Taehyung groaned. Well, maybe the piano playing won’t be heard so much from his mic. He spoke a few words into his mic, getting as close as possible to it, and listened to the recording. It was no use, Yoongi’s piano playing could still be heard.

“I guess I’ll have to wait then,” Taehyung sighed and flopped backwards on his chair. If he recorded later after lunchtime, he would still have time to edit the video that night. Maybe he could do something else that was productive, like unpacking the stuff in his new apartment. Taehyung groaned thinking about it but willed himself to leave his comfy computer chair nonetheless.

He worked on unpacking his stuff until lunchtime.

Then a little past that.

And then well into the afternoon.

“Does he never stop playing?!” Taehyung found himself yelling out of exasperation in his empty apartment, and partly at his Spiderman poster. Min Yoongi’s playing was good, no doubt about it, but hearing the same piece over and over again was bound to make someone go crazy.

“I can’t take this anymore,” he muttered, running a hand through his hair. He walked out of his door and knocked directly on the front door of the apartment across his.

Yoongi didn’t hear the knocking on his door until it was practically hammering. Annoyed, he abruptly stopped his playing. He barely got any sleep last night before his handy dandy Alexa alarm clock woke him up. Yoongi would have shut her up and crawled back into bed if he wasn’t constantly beating himself up when it came to piano practice.

“Hoseok,” Yoongi said, raising his voice so his friend outside could hear, and walked to answer the door. “Don’t you have high schoolers to tea—”

“Hey.” Yoongi stopped, holding the door midway. The person standing in front of him wasn’t Hoseok, his usual visitor, but his new neighbor Kim Taehyung. The one who kept him up all night. Yoongi felt his irritation escalate.

“Uh, hi,” Taehyung greeted. “Um, you… play the piano! I’ve been listening to you since this morning, all day in fact…”

“Whatever you’re going to say, just say it straight out,” Yoongi crossed his arms. “I have to get back to practice.”

“Well, that’s the thing,” Taehyung looked up at him. “You’ve been practicing all day.

“And?” Yoongi raised an eyebrow.

“Look, I kind of googled you yesterday after hearing about you being a genius musician and damn son you are a genius musician,” Taehyung explained. Yoongi noted how his hands tended to move about as he spoke. “And I know that you probably practice quite a lot for your competitions and stuff but I was wondering if you could… not play for the entire day?”

“Oh, like you could have not stopped yelling and screaming while recording yourself play a game last night,” Yoongi argued. “I couldn’t even sleep!”

“I’m sorry about that but it is part of my job,” Taehyung explained. At least he had the decency to apologize for it.

“And playing the piano all day is part of mine,” Yoongi shrugged.

“You have to take a one-hour break or something some time,” Taehyung spluttered. “I mean, have you eaten lunch or anything?”

“None of your business.” But now that he mentioned it, Yoongi was beginning to feel hungry. If only Alexa could make him a sandwich too or something. “And I have a competition coming up in a few weeks so expect more of the piano playing you seem to dread so much.”

“Come on,” Taehyung groaned. “My subscribers are expecting me. I adhere to a very strict upload schedule and tonight is supposed to be a ‘V Checks It’ video. If I don’t upload anything tonight it’s going to mess up my entire schedule,” he protested.

“Wow, this is so sad Alexa play ‘Despacito.’”

“Playing… ‘Despacito’”, Alexa beeped and the beginning of the song started to play.

“No, no! Alexa, don’t play Despacito. I wasn’t being serious!” Yoongi snapped at the machine which abruptly stopped playing the song.

“You know I would have respected you a lot for that memelord sass if you weren’t such a jerk,” Taehyung nodded.

“You should’ve reconsidered recording a video in the dead of the night,” Yoongi shrugged carelessly. “But I’m going to pass on your request for now and keep practicing. Unlike you, my ‘annoying piano playing’ actually gets me somewhere ,” he smiled before shutting the door in Taehyung’s face.

“WHATEVER, I’M RECORDING ANYWAY,” Taehyung yelled from behind the closed door. “I’LL JUST TELL MY VIEWERS THAT MY NEIGHBOR IS POSSESSED BY THE SPIRIT OF AN ANNOYING OLD TURTLE THAT ISN’T THE ONE FROM ‘KUNG FU PANDA’.”

Yoongi didn’t even have half the strength to respond once he made his way back to his piano. Now that the Taehyung kid brought it up, Yoongi was starting to feel tired from practicing for hours. “Stupid neighbor Youtuber kid,” he muttered to himself, stretching the cramp out of his shoulders.

But despite how annoyed he was by his new neighbor, deep down, Yoongi knew that Taehyung probably wasn’t a bad person. His energy and politeness reminded him a lot of Hoseok and Seokjin. He even regretted saying what he said about his piano playing getting him somewhere. Firstly, because Taehyung’s gaming actually did get him somewhere. And secondly, because Yoongi didn’t even feel like his piano playing got him anywhere.

It took him to competitions, both locally and abroad. It brought him medals and trophies. But that was about it.

Yoongi still felt as if he was standing still with everyone he knew running forward.

But like his mother always told him, was there anything for him in the music world other than participating in competitions?

Yoongi stared down at the piano. There was no doubt that he still loved it and felt more like himself near it. But he missed the time when he felt free while playing, not shackled to a piece he was supposed to memorize and play perfectly.

“Did you really call your neighbor an ‘annoying old turtle?’” Jungkook laughed over the phone.

“He is! And not the kind of annoying old turtle from ‘Kung Fu Panda,’” Taehyung said indignantly. As soon as he got back into his own apartment he called Jungkook to rant about Min Yoongi right away. “I mean, look at his face!”

“I can’t believe you’d say that out loud though,” Jungkook continued to laugh. “Man, I wish I could have been there.”

“Focus on the issue here, Jungkook,” Taehyung rolled his eyes.

“Right, right, sorry,” Jungkook apologized. “He’s kind of got a point here though. I guess you two are just unlucky you’re each other’s neighbors.”

“Very unlucky,” Taehyung agreed.

“You’re still going to make a video, right?” Jungkook said.

“Hell yeah I will!” Taehyung exclaimed. “And I’m not backing out of that livestream either. I’ll yell at the top of my lungs if I have to.”

“That’s the spirit,” Jungkook said. “Well, good luck with your future annoying turtle endeavors. And start playing that game I sent you!”

“Alright, alright,” Taehyung grinned and sat down before his computer.

“I seriously have not been able to put this down,” Jungkook murmured. “Anyway, see ya!” he said before hanging up. Taehyung put down his phone and started the game. The sound of piano playing resumed and Taehyung scowled but started to record anyway.

“Hey everyone!” he spoke up as loud as he could and grinned at the screen, flashing a V-sign at his webcam. “This is Gamer V and if you hear any piano playing in the background it is because my neighbor is an annoying old turtle, not the kind from ‘Kung Fu Panda.’ So yeah, he’s just going to keep playing but don’t mind him I’ll talk as loud as I can.

“Anyway, my best friend Jungkook, or Closet Gamer, recommended this game for me to check it out. It’s called ‘Welcome to the Game.’ Now, I’ve read the premise and it does sound pretty unique…”

“I can’t believe he called me an annoying old turtle!” Yoongi ranted at Alexa who was currently connecting him to a call with Hoseok.

“Yeah, you’re more along the lines of ‘exhausted, exasperated tortoise,’” Hoseok replied.

“Not funny Hoseok,” Yoongi said through gritted teeth. Things people said about him never really got to Yoongi. After all, he spent years hearing whispers from people behind his backs calling him an emotionless robot. But when Taehyung called him an ‘annoying old turtle’, it somehow got to him.

“Sorry hyung,” Hoseok apologized. “Anyway, maybe you two could work out a schedule or something?”

“I already know that’s not going to work out,” Yoongi rolled his eyes. “He did another one of his video recording things last night.”

“It must have been a scary game. Seokjin-hyung was screaming all night,” Hoseok said. “Usually Youtubers like him would have soundproofing equipment. Maybe you can bring that up with him?”

“Maybe,” Yoongi sighed. “Well, I should get back to practice.”

“Alright hyung,” Hoseok agreed. “I’ll get back to my class soon. Bye.” Then, he hung up. Yoongi turned back to his simple dinner of ramyeon and egg. Not the most healthy thing in the world but it did fill him up. As the days went by, Yoongi found himself appreciating Alexa even more now that he could use her to set alarms reminding him when to eat.

He couldn’t say the same about his neighbor though.

“AHH THE HITMAN! THE HITMAN IS HEEERE,” he heard Taehyung yell from his apartment. Yoongi didn’t if it was just him or Taehyung’s yelling got exponentially louder ever since their fight the other day. It did prevent him from sleeping that well at night but not from practicing. Yoongi actually hoped that his piano playing was disturbing Taehyung’s videos in some way.

Quickly, he slurped up the last of his ramyeon, cleaned up his bowl and utensils, then went back to the piano.

“Shhh… guys we have to keep quiet now,” Taehyung whispered into the mic. Right now, his character was hiding in the bathtub from a hitman who just entered his apartment. Suddenly, the sound of piano playing came in from the apartment across his. Taehyung sighed, Min Yoongi’s thirty-minute break was good while it lasted. Once Taehyung heard the hitman leave his apartment, or at least tried to through the sound of piano playing, he let his character leave the bathtub before whispering into the microphone.

“Sorry about that guys, my annoying old turtle neighbor is playing the piano again.”

Despite that, however, Taehyung still saw a lot of viewers attending his current livestream. It made him happy seeing all of them comment and encourage his performance while playing the game. Taehyung smiled to himself and made his character move back into his studio apartment room and sit before his computer monitor.

“By the way guys, while there aren’t any Deep Web murderers attacking me right now, I want to take a minute to thank you all for joining this livestream and most importantly for donating to ‘Paws for Life.’ The link to the website where you can send your donations to is in the description box below. Any amount is appreciated and don’t forget to check out Closet Gamer’s livestream of ‘Welcome to the Game’ as well,” Taehyung said.

“Now, back to the game,” he turned his attention back to his screen, and more importantly, his player’s computer screen. “All I need to do is look for that website link…” Suddenly, the lights went out in his player’s apartment and everything on the screen went black.

“Shit…” he muttered to himself. “Got to reboot the power.” As he made his character stand up and use his flashlight while leaving the apartment, Taehyung glanced at some of the comments on his livestream.

“’BITCH YOU BETTER HURRY UP’. Thanks, I am hurrying it up,” he read out loud. “Don’t panic guys, I just need to turn on the switch in the maintenance closet and—”

Suddenly, his entire screen as well as the lamp on his desk went out. Taehyung froze. This wasn’t just the game anymore, it was happening in his apartment. He thought about all the creepy characters in his game, especially the ones who purposely shut the power to hunt his character in the dark, and felt himself sweat. Surely that wasn’t a real thing.

Suddenly, his phone buzzed. Taehyung jumped slightly at the noise but was instantly relieved to find that Jungkook was calling.

“Hey dude what happened to your livestream? One of your fans said you just disappeared,” Jungkook said.

“Yeah, the power went out in the building, for real,” Taehyung explained.

“No way, do you think--?”

“I am trying not to think about it,” Taehyung groaned. “Anyway, I’ll try to see what’s causing the blackout. Can you explain the situation to my viewers for me?”

“Alright, I’ll tell them you were captured by the bogeyman, you got it,” Jungkook joked. “Also, can I have your ‘The Last of Us’ poster if you go missing?”

“That poster will follow me to my grave,” Taehyung hissed and hung up. He turned on flashlight mode and used the light to navigate his way through his apartment. His senses were on hyper-alert, making him jump and almost scream in surprise when he bumped into another guy across him holding a flashlight.

“M-min Yoongi?” he stammered.

“That’s me,” his neighbor said. “Why, scared of the bogeyman?”

“Very funny,” Taehyung rolled his eyes. “Anyway, the power went out.”

“I am aware of that.”

“I’m sure you are, smartass. Anyway, do you know who to call to fix it or something?” Taehyung asked.

“Yeah, this happened last year and I think you’re just supposed to restart the power from the maintenance closet. I have the key with me,” he added, holding a key ring up. This was sounding way too familiar to Taehyung. In the game he was just playing, there were creepy murderers who purposely switched off the power in the apartment and attacked the character in the dark. He often had to go to the maintenance closet to restart the power if that happened.

“And where is that maintenance closet exactly?” Taehyung asked.

“Down the hall,” Yoongi gestured with his head.

“Alright, I’ll come with you,” Taehyung said.

“Why, too scared?” Yoongi smirked. Taehyung found it incredibly annoying that Min Yoongi could smirk so well and effortlessly.

“No way,” Taehyung shook his head quickly. “In fact, I’m coming with you to help restart the power.”

“I can handle that by myself thank you very much,” Yoongi huffed.

“Not listening, still coming,” Taehyung walked ahead of him down the hallway.

“It’s the other way, genius,” Yoongi called after him. Taehyung stopped and walked the other way.

“I knew that…”

“Can’t you hold the flashlight steady enough?”

“Can’t you hurry with opening the door?”

“There are a lot of keys here. You try opening it,” Yoongi snapped back. That shut Taehyung up, thankfully. Yoongi tried out another key and successfully managed to insert it into the lock. Unfortunately, the lock hadn’t been fixed in years either.

“What’s wrong?” Taehyung frowned when he saw Yoongi aggressively turning the key.

“It’s stuck. The lock hasn’t been fixed in years,” Yoongi groaned.

“Let me try,” Taehyung offered. Yoongi stepped aside and held his flashlight steady while Taehyung attempted to unlock the door. “A wiggle to the left… the right… and there!” The lock clicked and Taehyung turned the knob.

“Nice trick,” Yoongi raised an eyebrow.

“That’s practically the only thing I learned in high school when they gave me a shitty shoe locker,” Taehyung shrugged and opened the door. Yoongi helped him out since it was quite heavy and swung shut automatically behind them.

“Alright, here’s the switchboard,” Yoongi said, directing his flashlight at an electric switchboard on the wall. He handed his flashlight to Taehyung and opened the panel. The main switch for the power in the entire building was a large lever near the bottom which Yoongi to the left and then right to restart it.

“Turn the light on to check if it worked,” he ordered Taehyung. The younger boy nodded and flicked the switch on the wall nearest to the door. Nothing happened.

“Shit, what does that mean?” Taehyung cursed.

“It means we’ll have to wait until morning until a real electrician comes to fix things,” Yoongi groaned and ran a hand through his hair.

“No!” Taehyung wailed. “I’m in the middle of a livestream right now and the viewers are waiting for me!”

“Tough luck kid,” Yoongi rolled his eyes and started to leave the room. He used his keys to unlock the door again but somehow couldn’t get the knob to turn. “Hey, can you come over here?” he called to Taehyung. He nodded somberly and walked over to unlock the door. Taehyung did the same thing he did last time: wiggle the key left, then right, but the lock wouldn’t click.

“Something’s wrong,” he wiggled the key more forcefully now as he looked about with wide eyes. “I think someone’s locked us in!”

“No way,” Yoongi shook his head. “I’m sure the lock on this door finally failed after all this time.” He twisted the door knob more forcefully and started to ram his shoulder against the wall in an attempt to push at it.

“HELP! SOMEBODY HELP US!” Taehyung slammed his fists against the door and yelled. Even with a voice like his, Yoongi didn’t think that anyone would hear them in the apartment.

“Do you know anyone in the apartment we can call?” Taehyung asked Yoongi, bringing out his phone to dial someone.

“I don’t have anyone’s numbers, sorry,” he shrugged.

“What do you mean you don’t have any of your neighbor’s numbers?” Taehyung scowled at him. “Haven’t you been living here for years?”

“I don’t really have any plans of talking to them,” Yoongi felt his eyebrow twitch in annoyance.

“Ah right, how could I forget? You’re an annoying, old turtle after all,” Taehyung huffed.

“Why the hell are you calling me that?” Yoongi snapped, hearing the same description that annoyed him ever since it came from his annoying neighbor’s mouth. “I don’t look anything like a turtle.”

“Oh yes you do,” Taehyung pointed at his face.

“So, what are you then? A furry? Trying to uncover my fursona?” Yoongi argued.

“I’m. Not. A. Furry,” Taehyung fumed. Yoongi felt a smirk grow on his face at the reaction he was receiving from Taehyung.

“Really? What are all those boxes in your apartment for then? Your furry suits?”

“Is this really the time?”

“Sounds like something a furry would say.”

Taehyung took one long, look at Yoongi before shaking his head. He couldn’t understand the guy. One minute he was annoyed at Taehyung for not holding the flashlight straight and now he was accusing him of being a furry. But, now that he thought about it, this was the kind of bickering he would have with Jungkook. Only Min Yoongi was not his best friend but an annoying neighbor.

Suddenly, Taehyung’s phone rang. When he checked the caller ID he saw that it was Jungkook calling again. Not a surprise since it’s been some time and he hadn’t returned to his livestream yet.

“Hey, Jungkook.”

“So, am I in full ownership of your ‘The Last of Us’ poster now?” his best friend greeted. Taehyung saw Yoongi smirk while overhearing the message.

“Sounds like my kind of best friend,” he sighed and sat down on the ground.

“No, I am still alive, much to your disappointment,” Taehyung said. “But right now I am locked in the maintenance closet with, drumroll please, the annoying old turtle.”

“I can hear you!” Yoongi yelled.

“Shit,” Jungkook cursed, echoing everything that Taehyung was feeling at the moment. “Are you sure he didn’t plan this or something?”

“Nah, he’s not smart enough too,” Taehyung said. Yoongi glared at him before turning back to stare at the wall. “Anyway, do you think you’ll be able to come and karate chop this door down.”

“I do taekwondo, not karate,” Jungkook pointed out. “There aren’t any buses around at this time so I’ll have to call a taxi or something. Just sit tight my friend.”

“Thanks,” Taehyung sighed. “Has the livestream ended?”

“Yeah, sorry man.” Taehyung held his head in his hands. His first attempt at a charity livestream and this happens.

“But you still managed to gather some money. It’s quite a lot for a livestream cut short,” Jungkook added. “And a lot of people left in the chat were theorizing about what happened to you. It was pretty funny but no, they don’t hate you for suddenly disappearing. I explained everything.”

“Thanks Jungkook,” Taehyung felt himself sigh with relief.

“Well, I’ll be there in an hour or something. See you!” he said before hanging up.

“You really care about making videos that much, huh?” Yoongi spoke up. Taehyung leaned against a wall a good distance away from him. “I never really quite got into the whole Youtube trend so I don’t understand the hype.”

“You can say it if you want to,” Taehyung raised an eyebrow at him. Yoongi had a puzzled look on his face.

“Say what?”

“Say that what I’m doing is a complete waste of time,” Taehyung threw his hands up in the air exasperatedly. “Say that I’m useless to society and that I should just get a real job instead of just recording myself play video games. Say that I’m just a dumb loser who should find something better to do with my life. I’ve heard it all before,” he muttered and hugged his knees to his chest. Min Yoongi had that look of disapproval on his face after all when he saw Taehyung move in and when he told him off for recording at night. He was just like his teachers and practically ever adult he’s ever met before he finally became one.

But what Yoongi said next caught Taehyung completely off-guard.

“I was never going to say anything like that,” Yoongi said.

“D-don’t try to pretend,” Taehyung stammered. “I mean, that’s why you’re always pissed at me.”

“Idiot, I’m pissed at you because you always record your videos at night. How’s a guy supposed to sleep?” Yoongi frowned at him.

“Oh… “, Taehyung looked down, embarrassed now once he realized the reason was a simple as that. “I thought you looked down on me for not being a ‘contribution to society.’”

“You thought you’d hear that speech from me?” Yoongi snorted. “I earn a fucking living from playing the piano well in front of judges every month, not for treating patients or designing buildings. I’m the last person who should be judging you.”

“Yeah, but what you’re doing requires actual talent,” Taehyung argued. He didn’t think he’d ever defend Min Yoongi in an argument but he felt himself saying it anyway. It was really admirable that Yoongi was so devoted to practicing and refining his skills.

“And you’re saying what you’re doing doesn’t?” Yoongi looked at him seriously. “You have a strict upload schedule, don’t you? Do you know how many employees and companies miss their designated schedules? Even with all the people they have on hand?

“I may not know much about gaming but even I know that it requires actual skill. Memorization, muscle memory, visual skills. And you’re not just blindly gaming either, you give reviews and comments on them too. Comments that these game developers listen to and use to refine their work. So, in that sense, you’re helping them too,” Yoongi finished. Once he fully realized the extensive speech he just made, he bit his lip to keep silent. What was he doing after all, defending his annoying neighbor? He was supposed to be irritated with him. But for some reason, Yoongi couldn’t find it in himself to shoot another snide comment.

Taehyung himself was quite overwhelmed as well. He didn’t expect himself to defend Yoongi, but neither did he expect his neighbor to defend his profession either. But he did echo the feelings that Taehyung held deep inside for so long, and the arguments he could have made to those who looked down on him. The only thing he managed to say was:

“You’ve done your research.”

“I have a friend who’s a gamer,” Yoongi explained. “His name’s Seokjin and he subscribes to you and your friend’s channel apparently. It’s all from him.”

“I see,” Taehyung nodded. He had a feeling that Yoongi was just brushing off what he just said but he accepted the explanation anyway.

“I’m not too thrilled about you recording and screaming at night when I’m trying to sleep but I won’t shit on your dreams, Kim Taehyung,” Yoongi said.

“That’s probably the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me,” Taehyung smiled. “Maybe you are a nice old turtle after all, like the one from ‘Kung Fu Panda.’”

“You’re ‘Not a Furry’ case is sinking down the drain,” Yoongi pointed at him. The two of them laughed. Yoongi knew that it was a bit strange, considering the current situation he was in and the relationship he had with Kim Taehyung, but it felt good to laugh with him. He had a side of himself, an unreasonably goofy side, that often came out when he was with his closest friends. And for some reason, it was out here now while he was with Taehyung.

“So, have you been dreaming about becoming a Gamer Youtuber your whole life?” Yoongi asked.

“Not exactly a Youtuber,” Taehyung shrugged. “I didn’t really have an idea about what I was going to be. But I loved playing games ever since I was young. It’s not that I hated the world or anything. I have a good family and great friends. There’s just something about games, about the all the different forms and controls and worlds it holds, that always drew me away from the rest of the world.

“Not a surprise that I turned into a high school bum. People kept on putting me down for not having any real goals or dreams and I guess I believed them for some time. And then when the Youtube gaming trend came along, I found myself taking part and here I am now,” Taehyung finished.

“In a maintenance closet,” Yoongi nodded.

“In a maintenance closet,” Taehyung agreed. “What about you?”

“Well, you googled me on the internet,” Yoongi shrugged. “You tell me what you know.”

“Um, you started playing piano and joining competitions at ten years old,” Taehyung said. “You’re seen as a genius for being able to play pieces perfectly and for winning every competition you participated in, both locally and internationally. And to this day, that’s what you’re still doing. Except, you do less international competitions now.”

“Thorough,” Yoongi raised an eyebrow, impressed. “But not thorough enough.”

“Well, we are locked in a maintenance closet,” Taehyung gestured around them. “It’s a perfect time Into be thorough.”

“Indeed,” Yoongi folded his fingers together and looked up at the dusty, ceiling with paint peeling from it. He honestly had no idea why he was choosing to tell Taehyung his life story after only knowing him for a few days and spending a good portion of that time being annoyed with him. Yoongi knew very well that maybe something else was at work, that maybe he was opening up to Taehyung because he was starting to like him as a friend. But at the moment, he chose to blame it on the fact that it was late at night and he tended to feel more emotional and open at that time. After all, he did confess to being gay in a groupchat with Seokjin and Hoseok at three in the morning.

“Well, what the articles don’t exactly tell you that much is that my father was a businessman and my mom was a pianist too. She taught me everything I needed to know,” Yoongi said. “And I really loved playing the piano too and I guess I inherited my Mom’s skill. She entered me into a competition when I was ten and I loved it. So, as the article very accurately stated, I joined a bunch of those competitions.”

“I feel like there’s going to be a but somewhere here,” Taehyung said.

“There is a ‘but,’” Yoongi smiled to himself at Taehyung’s comment. “And that ‘but’ is, I wanted to compose my own music.” Taehyung cocked his head at him.

“That is a very good but,” he said. Yoongi smiled shyly and played with a loose thread on one of his pockets. “I thought so too at that time. But my parents didn’t think so.

“Since dad was a businessman, he wanted to me to get a better job. A ‘contribution to society’ kind of job. You’re probably familiar with that whole spiel,” Yoongi waved a hand carelessly. “And my mother, I thought she would be the one to understand me… but it turns out she was on the same stance as him.”

“Oh, I’m sorry…” Taehyung said softly. He knew exactly how it felt to be shut down.

“Well, that didn’t get me down yet,” Yoongi continued. “I still wrote my own compositions and practiced them. I even took a break from participating in competitions. And then there was this one time, I got invited to play at a gala concert. Judges from competitions tend to do that to show of the young prodigies.

“They asked me to play a specific piece but I planned to play one my compositions instead, just to see how people would react. And I played it, in front of everyone.” Yoongi paused as he felt his fingers begin to pick more at the loose threads on his pants. He had a tendency to pick at things with his fingers whenever he felt antsy or nervous. Taehyung was still silent.

“It wasn’t received well, of course,” Yoongi said, deciding to skip to the end. “The worst part about it was that my parents were in the audience too, watching me. They had major ‘I Told You So’ looks on their faces.”

“So, you kept on joining competitions instead,” Taehyung continued.

“I still couldn’t fully part from music,” Yoongi shrugged. “So, I did keep on joining competitions. My dad stopped complaining about my job since I earn pretty well from winning. But once I got old enough, I left their house and lived on my own. I couldn’t stand to keep seeing their faces.” A moment of silence passed between them as Yoongi’s story sank in.

Finally, Taehyung spoke.

“Well, those articles sure aren’t thorough,” he said.

“They sure aren’t,” Yoongi shook his head.

“Now I see why you don’t want to shit on my dreams,” Taehyung said softly. “I have another friend, Kim Namjoon, who’s a musician too. He works for an entertainment company and helps produce tracks for songs. He kind of went through what you did. Apparently he was an academic genius, one of the top students in Korea even. His parents wanted him to enter a good college after high school because of his grades but Namjoon-hyung didn’t. He chased after his dream instead and even though the life he lives isn’t as good as it could have been if he had become a doctor or something, he says he’s never been happier.”

“Sounds like a lucky guy,” Yoongi smiled somberly.

“He always told me that people have dreams for a reason, and that reason is to live for those dreams,” Taehyung said. “Those dreams could be big life goals or small, simple, everyday accomplishments that make you happy. Most of the happiness in this world comes from not living for those dreams.”

“That makes me one unhappy person then,” Yoongi said.

“But that doesn’t mean you’ll stay like that,” Taehyung shook his head. “You’re still quite young. You have the skills to get you where you want to be. And if you need support, all you need to do is ask around.”

Well he sure got it now. Yoongi smiled down at his hands which stopped picking at the loose thread. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Taehyung smiled.

“HELLO?” someone hammered on the door. Yoongi and Taehyung jumped up at the noise and looked at each other in surprise.

“HELLO, TAEHYUNG? IT’S ME, JUNGKOOK!” he yelled through the door.

“Oh shit! We’re saved!” Taehyung stood up and knocked on the door. “JUNGKOOK, IT’S US!” he yelled back.

“ALRIGHT, STAND BACK GUYS. I’LL KNOCK THE DOOR DOWN,” Jungkook yelled. Taehyung took a step back besides Yoongi. There was a thud on the door, followed by another, and then another. On the fourth one, the door completely swung to the side, revealing Jungkook dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans, holding a flashlight in his mouth.

“You just kicked the door down,” Yoongi looked at the door and then at Jungkook in surprise. “You just kicked the door down.”

“Glad to see you’re both all in one piece,” Jungkook said.

“You came to save us!” Taehyung grinned and hugged his friend. “You should be my Emergency Contact or something.”

“I am your Emergency Contact.”

“He just kicked the door down,” Yoongi repeated, still not quite realizing what just happened.

“I think you need some sleep now,” Taehyung grinned and patted his newfound friend on his arm. “And don’t worry, I won’t make any videos tonight. I’ve had a little too much of maintenance closets.”

“He just kicked the door down,” Yoongi muttered and shook his head as he started to walk back to his apartment.

“There must be something wrong with him,” Jungkook shook his head.

“Let him be, he hasn’t slept properly in a while apparently,” Taehyung said and walked back to his apartment. “And I guess we all deserve a good night’s sleep after everything,” he yawned.

“You can say that again,” Jungkook agreed.

The next morning, Yoongi felt renewed after finally getting enough sleep. And, judging by the beeping Alexa in his room, the electricity was back. Yoongi wondered if what happened last night, with Taehyung and the maintenance closet, was a dream. But, seeing that he was still wearing the same clothes he was wearing yesterday, then it was all true.

“I can’t believe I spilled my entire life story to him,” he muttered and ran a hand through his hair. Oh well, that didn’t exactly mean they were going to be best friends or anything from here on out. Unfortunately, he wasn’t that convinced with the idea, knowing that he felt a great sense of relief last night sharing with Taehyung.

But there was still the matter of their former quarrel. Taehyung couldn’t exactly stop recording videos and Yoongi definitely couldn’t stop practicing for his competitions. He sat on his bed and drummed his fingers on the covers. Suddenly, he had an idea.

Beside him, on his nightstand, was a pad of paper and a pen that he kept for last minute reminders before he slept. Yoongi took the two items and began planning.

“Are you sure that’s going to work?” Jungkook asked, looking up at Taehyung who was standing on a chair trying to duct tape a rolled-up blanket to his doorframe.

“Not completely, but maybe enough to let Yoongi sleep through the night,” Taehyung said.

“Well, if you don’t need any help, I’ll be going now,” Jungkook said. He decided to spend the night in Taehyung’s apartment after the ordeal with the maintenance closet. It was the least Taehyung could do for him.

“Alright, get home safely,” he waved at Jungkook and stepped aside as his friend exited. Just as Taehyung was about to get back to his task, someone knocked on the door.

“Hello?” he heard the familiar sound of Yoongi’s voice. Taehyung quickly stepped down from his chair and answered it.

“Hey,” he greeted. Yoongi was still dressed in the clothes he wore before and judging from his hair, he was still fresh out of sleep. Taehyung thought he looked rather cute like this, not so much like a grumpy old turtle. ‘Must be because he actually got some sleep last night,’ he thought.

“I… uh, thought about last night and it seems to be that we both have demanding things to do,” Yoongi explained. “So, I decided to make a sort of schedule for it,” he added, presenting a sheet of paper to Taehyung. He looked at the chart on the piece of paper and sure enough, Yoongi organized everything. Taehyung was also pleased to find that both of them would have equal hours of time to do what they wanted.

“This is great!” Taehyung exclaimed, grinning up at his neighbor. To his surprise, Yoongi smiled back.

“Thanks,” he nodded.

“Oh, while we’re at it, I want to show you something,” Taehyung took Yoongi’s hand and pulled him inside the house. “Ta-da!” he said, presenting the rolled-up blanket still being duct-taped to the doorframe.

“Uh… what am I… looking at?” Yoongi frowned in confusion.

“DIY Soundproofing!” Taehyung grinned. “I saw this being done in a movie wherein there was this teacher teaching kids rock music but the kids were from this really strict prep school and they were learning rock in secret so they had to soundproof the classrooms.”

“School of Rock?” Yoongi smiled. “I haven’t heard about that movie in ages. Yeah, I remember them doing that.”

“I was thinking of doing my recordings at night too so you would have more time to practice in the morning,” Taehyung said. “So, I kind of need to soundproof stuff so that you can sleep well.”

“Sounds fair,” Yoongi nodded. “Let me help out.”

“Are you sure? Don’t you need to practice today?” Taehyung asked.

“Not until later,” Yoongi shrugged and took the duct tape from Taehyung. “I’m actually pretty good at stuff like this. I installed my own shower heater and everything,” he boasted.

“Wow, could you help me install mine too?” Taehyung grinned cheekily.

“Don’t push your luck, kid,” Yoongi pointed at him but smiled all the same.

That night, Yoongi could definitely tell that the makeshift soundproofing Taehyung used was actually working. Everything he was saying was much more muffled and it didn’t sound like actual yelling and hollering.

Actually, now that Taehyung’s voice was more muffled, Yoongi would dare to say that he sounded cute. He had a certain way of talking that made the way he pronounced words sound softer. Yoongi could hear him laughing a lot too while playing his game in between his screams of surprise. He liked that laugh too.

Tonight, Yoongi thought that he could play music using Alexa to drown out the remaining sounds of Taehyung’s voice. But now, he kind of felt that he didn’t mind hearing him at all.

Yoongi smiled to himself and pulled his blanket over his shoulders. He could get used to Kim Taehyung.

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe you live next door to V Gamer, the Youtuber who I’ve been following and loving ever since he released his first video, and Closet Gamer, another Youtuber I’ve been following and loving, and you didn’t even think of telling me!” Seokjin ranted by way of greeting when he and Hoseok went over to visit Yoongi.

“I did think about telling you, I just thought it would be funny not to,” Yoongi shrugged and grinned, before reaching for the plastic bag full of food that Seokjin brought along.

“No!” Seokjin yanked the bag away, making Yoongi pout. “You don’t deserve any of the special Kim Seokjin soybean paste stew!”

“Come on, just let it go,” Hoseok grinned and thumped Seokjin on the back.

“Don’t think you’re out of this either!” Seokjin huffed.

“Yoongi-hyung probably didn’t tell you about it since he kind of hated Taehyung at first,” Hoseok nudged Yoongi. “By the way, why don’t you tell us about your night?”

“What night?” Seokjin asked.

“We got stuck in a maintenance closet,” Yoongi explained. “And I guess we had time to talk things out while we were there because we finally managed to fix the whole dilemma of having noise-related jobs.” Then, as if on cue, Taehyung’s yelling came bursting through the door.

“GOT IT! TIME TO JUMPSTART THE GENERATOR EVERYONE, AND HOPEFULLY NOT DIE ALONG THE WAY!” It was his time now to game since it was noontime. Taehyung offered to keep his DIY soundproofing up during this time but Yoongi told him not to worry about it during the day. Partly because he wasn’t sleeping, and partly because he was pretty much used to his voice at that point. Or maybe because he kind of liked it already.

“Is that… him?” Seokjin pointed at the door with wide eyes.

“That’s the door,” Yoongi said sarcastically. Hoseok burst out laughing.

“I can’t believe it… one of my favorite Youtubers… just two doors in front of me…” Seokjin reached a hand towards the door longingly.

“Hey! I thought Jimin was your favorite Youtuber,” Hoseok pointed out.

“Shut up, you know I can’t dance nor can I follow Jimin’s dance steps or covers,” Seokjin waved him off.

“Well, now that you’ve finished fanboying over my neighbor, can we please eat lunch?” Yoongi asked, reaching again for the bag in Seokjin’s hands.

“I guess you’re forgiven since we have great ambience here,” Seokjin gave the bag to him.

“Weirdo,” Yoongi rolled his eyes but accepted the food gratefully. He only knew how to cook simple meals by himself, ramyeon and egg being his most common menu item. He took advantage of the opportunity to eat Seokjin’s delicious home cooking whenever he could.

A few minutes later, Seokjin’s soybean paste stew along with some other side dishes, courtesy of Hoseok, and cooked rice, courtesy of Yoongi, were laid out on the table. It had been two weeks since Yoongi last saw Hoseok, even longer since he last saw Seokjin. The two of them knew how close Yoongi’s next piano competition was going to be so they gave him some space to work. Of course, Yoongi was grateful for their consideration but he still couldn’t help but feel lonely.

However, he did find himself feeling a little less lonely now that Kim Taehyung was around. Most of the time the two of them were holed up in their respective apartments but they did have their little interactions when they bumped into the convenience store nearby or when they picked up their mail downstairs. Now that they weren’t annoying each other, it was very rare that they knocked on each other’s doors now.

But speak of the devil.

“Do you think that’s him?,” Hoseok said when the sound of knocking interrupted their conversation. Now that Yoongi noticed, he wasn’t hearing any of Taehyung’s shouting so there was a strong chance it was Taehyung.

“Oh my god!” Seokjin stood up. “He’s here! Should I change into my cool jacket?”

“What are you, going on a date?” Hoseok laughed as he watched his hyung panic.

“Just sit tight and don’t do anything weird,” Yoongi ordered Seokjin and walked to the door to answer it. Standing outside was Taehyung wearing what appeared to be purple, striped pajamas. He seemed to have a thing for the color purple.

“Ah, Yoongi! Just the person I wanted to see,” Taehyung grinned.

“Yeah, you literally knocked on my door…” Yoongi said.

“Sorry, was I interrupting anything?” Taehyung asked.

“Not really,” Yoongi shrugged. “I was eating lunch with my friends.”

“Wow, you have friends?” Taehyung teased. Yoongi rolled his eyes but smiled at the joke nonetheless. He beckoned Hoseok and a still-nervous Seokjin to come to the door.

“This is Hoseok, you guys met before,” Yoongi said.

“Nice to see you again!” Hoseok grinned. “Thanks for taking care of this guy and not murdering him in the maintenance closet.”

“I think I should be thanking him,” Taehyung smiled at Yoongi.

“And this is Seokjin-hyung,” he continued, gesturing at Seokjin who looked like he was about to faint. “He’s a big fan of yours, as you can see.”

“Ah, Yoongi told me a lot about you,” Taehyung nodded at him. “Thanks a lot for watching my videos.”

“It’s amazing to see you in real life!” Seokjin grinned widely. “I’ve watched all of your videos! Including that livestream when you disappeared.”

“I think that one’s my favorite,” Yoongi muttered. Taehyung glanced at him and another smile tugged at the corner of his lips.

“Thanks again for watching. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you and everyone else,” he bowed slightly but sincerely. “Also, I really wish I could’ve changed into something other than pajamas if I knew I was meeting a subscriber today.”

“Seokjin-hyung doesn’t mind,” Hoseok said, still chuckling at Seokjin’s giddy reactions towards Kim Taehyung.

“I don’t mind,” Seokjin shook his head quickly.

“He wouldn’t mind if you run him over,” Yoongi shrugged.

“Well, I came here to invite you to my housewarming party,” Taehyung said. “I know it’s like a few weeks late but that’s kind of how long it took for me to fully unpack my belongings. I invited Jungkook and Namjoon-hyung to come and I was hoping you could make it too.”

“Gee, I don’t know,” Yoongi looked at the distance between their two apartments. “Looks like a bit of a stretch to me.”

“Is he always like this?” Taehyung sighed and looked at Hoseok and Seokjin. The two nodded quickly.

“I’ll see if I can,” Yoongi nodded.

“Oh, you guys are invited to if you can make it,” Taehyung said to Yoongi’s friends.

“R-really?” Seokjin stammered.

“I’ve always wanted to meet a fellow subscriber,” Taehyung said sincerely. “As long as you don’t disclose the location of my apartment to anyone, you’re free to come. Also, Jungkook’s a big fan of your channel, Hoseok.”

“Th-thanks,” Hoseok blushed and smiled from the appreciation.

“He just didn’t say so when he first saw you. Kookie’s a bit shy,” Taehyung added. “He also loves your fellow dancer’s channel, Park Jimin right?”

“That’s him!” Hoseok nodded. “Want me to bring him along too?”

“Sounds great,” Taehyung said. “Let’s give Jungkook the shock of his life!”

“I think we’re getting the shock of our lives,” Seokjin laughed.

“It’s this Friday, by the way,” Taehyung added. “I hope to see you all there.” Yoongi made a mental note about it. He knew he still had to practice on that day but maybe stopping by for an hour or two wouldn’t hurt. ‘Maybe I can cook something too. Something that isn’t instant noodles, I guess,’ he thought.

“See you there!” Taehyung grinned and waved before going back to his apartment.

“Yah, who would have thought I’d be invited to by favorite Youtuber’s party,” Seokjin sighed and placed a hand on his chest. “My heart feels like it’s going to burst.”

“Wow, never would have guessed,” Yoongi snickered and sat back down at the table to resume eating his lunch.

“Seriously, it’s so frustrating that my non-gamer best friend is Gamer V’s neighbor,” Seokjin pouted. “Hey, Yoongi! Want to—”

“Nope,” Yoongi cut him off before he could fully say his request.

“Come on!” Seokjin groaned.

“He’s gotten used to Taehyung already,” Hoseok grinned at his hyung. “I guess he isn’t that much of a nuisance anymore, right hyung?”

“He can still get annoying,” Yoongi looked down at his food. “It’s just that it’s going to be hard moving my piano again.”

“Yoongi’s such a tsundere,” Seokjin shook his head and resumed eating.

“Am not!” Yoongi protested.

“He is,” Hoseok nodded at Seokjin as if he hadn’t heard anything.

“Why do I even invite you over to my house?” Yoongi sighed.

“Because I make better food,” Seokjin chuckled and high-fived Hoseok. Yoongi scowled but finished the rest of his stew anyway and got seconds. Seokjin did make better food than he did.

For some reason, Yoongi found that Taehyung’s invitation to his housewarming party made the week seem even longer. Not even the hardest piano exercises and endless repetition could keep him thinking about what to bring to the party. He expected Seokjin to be the one who was restless but he hardly even called Yoongi to rant about how excited he was.

That meant Yoongi was left alone to fret over this simple housewarming party. And Alexa, of course. After all, there was no one better suited for helping Yoongi search for cooking recipes.

“Chicken pieces, potato starch, gochujang, sesame oil,” Yoongi read out his shopping list to himself as he climbed up the steps to his apartment carrying a bag of groceries. He had a tendency to check and double-check things, especially shopping lists, to make sure he got everything right. As soon as he got to his floor he spotted Taehyung standing in front of his apartment, still wearing his pajamas, checking his mail.

“Morning, Taehyung,” Yoongi greeted. His neighbor looked up at him and smiled sleepily.

“Hey…” he said faintly in a hoarse, raspy voice.

“What happened to you?” Yoongi frowned and pressed the back of his hand against Taehyung’s forehead. “Are you sick?”

“I kind of… exerted my voice,” Taehyung chuckled and gently removed Yoongi’s hand. “I’m fine, thanks for asking.”

“You must have been yelling a lot,” Yoongi remarked.

“It was a 5-hour livestream,” Taehyung explained. “But it’s for charity so it’s worth it.”

“Well, you better rest up then,” Yoongi stepped back towards his house. “Drink some tea or something.”

“Will do,” Taehyung saluted. “Oh, do you need help with the groceries?”

“No, no, I got it,” Yoongi hastily shook his head. “I’ll see you later, okay?” Taehyung cleared his throat, attempting to choke out a reply, before changing his mind and waving before Yoongi entered his apartment. Once inside, he carried his bag of groceries to the kitchen and laid out all the ingredients on the table.

“Alexa, read out recipe for spicy fried chicken,” he said out loud. Alexa beeped.

“Reading: spicy fried chicken recipe. First, wash chicken and marinate with salt, pepper, soy sauce, pepper paste, and sesame oil…”

About half an hour later, Yoongi really wished he had paid attention to Seokjin’s cooking lessons. But then again, he never really imagined himself in a situation wherein he was stressed out trying to cook for his neighbor’s housewarming party. ‘I should have just ordered some from a nearby restaurant,’ he thought as he carefully dropped a few more pieces of chicken in the frying pan.

“Ah—AHHH!” he yelled as the hot oil crackled and splattered on his hand when he dropped the chicken in. Yoongi bit his lip and shook his hand to numb the pain a bit. Why did cooking have to be so hard? He ran a hand through his hair and surveyed the mess in the kitchen that he had to clean up soon before his eyes landed on the plate of hot fried chicken. Yoongi already tried a piece beforehand and, to his surprise, found that it did taste quite good.

“Hopefully they’ll enjoy it,” he said to himself and carefully turned the chicken pieces in the pan using a pair of tongs. An image of Taehyung’s boxy grin floated up in his mind and Yoongi cried out again in surprise when the hot oil crackled again.

“Ahh! They better enjoy this!” he yelled frustratedly and backed away from the pan.

“You invited who?!” Jungkook exclaimed as soon as he heard the news from Taehyung.

“Jung Hoseok and Park Jimin,” Taehyung said, or rather, rasped, nonchalantly as he hung up some colorful streamers that Jungkook brought over for the party. “They were Yoongi’s friends so I thought why not invite them? You know how friendly I am around people.”

“Aish, I can tell you have a different motive for this,” Jungkook said irritably. Taehyung bit his lip to keep himself from laughing. Jungkook may be complaining at the moment, but later on he’ll be grateful to Taehyung for bringing in his favorite Youtubers. “You could have told me sooner so I would have worn something cooler.”

“Like another white t-shirt?” Taehyung raised an eyebrow at him. “How unique.”

“Shut up,” Jungkook threw a plastic cup at him which Taehyung dodged.

“You can wear my clothes if you want,” he offered. “I think I have a jacket somewhere there.”

“Thanks,” Jungkook nodded and headed to Taehyung’s room. Taehyung finished fixing the last of the streamers and fixed the plastic cups over by the drinks table. The chips and dip were ready on the coffee table and the pizza that Jungkook ordered was on the kitchen counter as well. Apart from his sore throat, Taehyung knew that everything was going to go well this evening.

“Does this look okay?” Jungkook asked, emerging from his bedroom with a black, denim jacket thrown over his plain, white t-shirt.

“You could use a tie,” Taehyung joked.

“Yeah, maybe a top hat while we’re at it,” Jungkook added. The sound of knocking on the door caught their attention.

‘Might be Yoongi,’ Taehyung thought as he walked to answer it. After all, he lived the closest. Instead, he saw his old friend, Kim Namjoon, standing in front of his apartment. Seeing him didn’t stop Taehyung from breaking into a wide smile and hugging his friend.

“Ah, hyung!”

“Nice to see you too man,” Namjoon grinned and hugged him back. “Congratulations on your new apartment.”

“Thanks! Come in!” Taehyung ushered his friend in.

“What happened to your voice?”

“I had a five-hour livestream,” Taehyung explained. “But it’s getting better.”

Jungkook-ah! You’re here early,” Namjoon greeted and hugged Jungkook as well.

“Someone had to come and help Taehyung with setting up,” he replied.

“Hey, my apartment’s not that messy,” Taehyung pouted.

“Yet,” Namjoon and Jungkook chorused.

“Anyway, I brought some meat that we can grill,” Namjoon added, holding up a grocery bag. “There are some hotdogs there too.”

“Ah, hyung’s really generous today,” Taehyung grinned and took the bag from him just when he heard another knock on the door. “I’ll get that. Can you start grilling these in the kitchen?”

“Got it,” Namjoon nodded and took the shopping bag back. Taehyung opened the door to find Seokjin, one of Yoongi’s friends, holding a huge cloth bag.

“Hello!” he greeted. “Am I too early?”

“Not at all,” Taehyung cleared his throat and shook his head.

“Let me guess, that’s from the five-hour livestream last night.”

“Yup,” Taehyung sighed and invited Seokjin in. “Nice sweater, by the way.”

“Thanks,” Seokjin grinned and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Jungkook.

“You must be one of Yoongi’s friends,” Jungkook said and waved hello politely. Taehyung could easily tell how awkward he felt being around a subscriber. He knew that the ones Jungkook met would often crowd his personal space, something that he didn’t like, which was why he was a bit hesitant around them. But based on his first meeting with Seokjin, he could tell that even though he was a big fan, he wasn’t someone who would do that.

“Wow, this is probably the climactic moment in all my twenty-seven years of being alive,” Seokjin sighed and dramatically placed a hand on his chest.

“Where’s Yoongi?” Taehyung rasped, looking around.

“He said he’s still cleaning up the kitchen,” Seokjin said. “He cooked something apparently and so did I!” he said while lifting the bag he was carrying onto the table and removing containers of food. Jungkook watched him with wide eyes.

“Wow, you made all of that?” Taehyung exclaimed.

“It’s nothing,” Seokjin shrugged. “I work for a caterer and as a part-time food blogger,” he grinned.

“AHHHH!”

Taehyung looked up with a start to find Namjoon standing in front of a flaming gas stove. “Turn the fire down!” Seokjin yelled, running quickly to switch the dial on the stove back to a medium flame. Everyone in the apartment, including a shocked Namjoon, sighed with relief.

“I thought this was going to be a literal housewarming party,” Jungkook looked wide-eyed at Taehyung.

“Sorry, everyone,” Namjoon apologized.

“Don’t worry, the meat isn’t burnt… yet,” Seokjin announced. “I can handle the grill here.” Even though he’d been standing in front of the stove for barely a minute, Seokjin was already seasoning the meat and adjusting the heat like a real pro.

“I trust you,” Taehyung grinned. “You can ask Namjoon-hyung for help too.”

“I’ll go get plates or something,” Namjoon said sheepishly.

“Hey, Taehyung-ah,” Taehyung felt Jungkook nudge his shoulder. He turned around to find the younger boy already eating one of the lamb skewers that Seokjin brought along in one of the containers. “This tastes amazing. Thank god you invited that guy.”

“Go on and tell him that yourself,” Taehyung chuckled and reached for a lamb skewer himself when another knock on the door was heard.

“Ah, that must be Yoongi,” Seokjin said. Taehyung quickly handed his skewer to Jungkook, who accepted it gratefully, and headed to the door. He quickly checked his hair and clothes before greeting his neighbor.

“Hey!” he said, wincing slightly after hearing how his voice sounded.

“Man, your house sure was hard to find. I got lost twice,” he joked. Taehyung chuckled as he let Yoongi in. He usually saw him dressed in jeans and a hoodie or a t-shirt, kind of like Jungkook. But today, Yoongi was wearing a dark blue, long-sleeved, button-up shirt and dark jeans with a matching shoulder bag. Taehyung would usually suggest not wearing dark colors all the time to his friends but he had to admit that Yoongi’s clothes played well with his skin tone.

“I’m glad you were able to still make it despite the heavy traffic as well,” Taehyung added.

“Oh, you wouldn’t believe the traffic,” Yoongi grinned and held up a baking dish wrapped in foil. “By the way, where I can set this?”

“I’ll take it,” Jungkook offered, still chewing on a lamb skewer. Yoongi handed the dish to him and Jungkook set it down carefully on the table of food. “Wow! Spicy fried chicken!” he exclaimed after peeling off the foil.

“Wow, did Yoongi cook?” Seokjin appeared from behind the kitchen counter holding a plate of grilled meat. “He must really like you, Kim Taehyung.”

“I do know how to cook, Seokjin,” Yoongi crossed his arms.

“Ahhh, you sure cooked a lot,” Taehyung grinned when he looked at the tray full of fried chicken. “I feel so touched, Min Yoongi,” he placed a hand over his chest and smiled over at his neighbor.

“It was pretty easy, cooking it,” Yoongi shrugged and scratched his arm. Even behind his raised-up arm, Taehyung could spot a small, shy smile on his face. “You better finish everything.”

“It’s really good,” Jungkook said, chewing a mouthful of fried chicken.

“Really?” Seokjin raised an eyebrow. Jungkook nodded and offered the piece of chicken he was eating for Seokjin to take a bite. The older man chewed for a while before looking at Yoongi with wide-eyed surprise. Yoongi smirked and shrugged a shoulder.

“Well, you’re already getting friendly with him,” he remarked. “Weren’t you nervous just a while ago about meeting one of your favorite Youtubers?”

“Food brings people together,” Seokjin answered. Jungkook nodded beside him.

“When are Hoseok and Park Jimin coming?” Taehyung asked Yoongi.

“They texted me saying they’re on their way,” he answered. “Oh, before I forget…” he reached into his shoulder bag and handed Taehyung a warm thermos.

“What’s this?” he asked, curiously opening the thermos and taking a sniff.

“It’s for your throat,” Yoongi said. “Ginger tea with a little bit of honey. It always works for me when I have a sore throat.”

“Wow, thanks…” Taehyung said gratefully. He decided to take a sip of the tea to hide the giddy smile that was about to spread on his face. Yoongi was just being concerned about him, why did he have to get all hyped up about it?

“So, how is it?” Yoongi asked. The tea was pretty spicy due to the ginger and sweet because of the honey but when Taehyung swallowed, he could really feel it soothing his throat.

“It’s really spicy but with a surprising sweetness too,” Taehyung described and raised an eyebrow at Yoongi. “Kind of like someone I know.”

“An annoying old turtle?” Yoongi joked.

“An annoying old turtle,” Taehyung nodded and looked over at the rest of his friends.

“The meat is all grilled,” Namjoon announced, setting the plate of grilled pork over at the food table where Jungkook was still eating. “But not by me, thank god. Seokjin did all the work.”

“Are the slightly burnt pieces grilled by you, hyung?” Jungkook laughed.

“Yeah…” Namjoon sighed.

“Don’t feel bad,” Seokjin patted him on the shoulder. “Practice is all it takes.”

“I should learn how to cook too,” Jungkook muttered and reached for another piece of Yoongi’s fried chicken. “Instead of just making ramyeon.”

“Same here,” Namjoon agreed. “Jungkook-ah, you have some sauce on your face.”

“Where?”

“Here,” Seokjin took a paper napkin and used it to wipe the corner of Jungkook’s mouth.

“Thanks, hyung,” Jungkook nodded.

“Your friend sure gets along well with other people,” Taehyung chuckled as he watched the trio.

“He and Hoseok always were the more social ones among the three of us,” Yoongi smiled at his friend. “Seokjin was kind of like the Mom Friend in our group. And apparently it still shows around his favorite Youtuber and your other friend.” As he spoke, Seokjin was handing out more paper napkins to Namjoon and Jungkook while they were eating.

“That’s Namjoon-hyung, the friend I told you about. I think you would get along with him,” Taehyung said and took another sip of tea. He could already feel his voice getting a lot less raspy.

“More than I get along with you?” Yoongi looked up at him. Taehyung, for some reason, almost choked on his tea.

“Well, we are getting there,” Taehyung said once he recovered. To his relief, he heard someone knocking on his door again. He excused himself from Yoongi for the moment and headed to the door, all the while wondering why he had that kind of reaction earlier. But then again, he had to admit he felt a bit giddy again when Yoongi mentioned that they got along.

Taehyung exhaled, as if that could help, and opened the door.

“Hello!” Hoseok greeted with a bright smile on his face. Taehyung felt as if he was staring into the sun. Beside Hoseok was another boy, roughly around Yoongi’s height, with blonde hair and a sweet, slightly shy smile on his face.

“Not at all, you guys are just in time,” Taehyung invited them in. “You must be Park Jimin, right?” he asked the shorter boy.

“That’s me,” he nodded. “I’m a big fan of yours by the way, too.”

“He jumped to the ceiling when he heard the invite,” Hoseok chuckled and patted Jimin on the shoulder.

“Well, someone else did the same thing when I invited you guys,” Taehyung grinned cheekily and led them to the kitchen area. “Jungkook-ah! Hoseok and Jimin are here!”

“Closet Gamer Jeon Jungkook…” Jimin breathed out in awe. Jungkook turned around with his mouth still full and once his eyes landed on the new guests, started to choke on his food in surprise.

“Nice to… meet you…” he greeted in between coughs.

“A-are you okay?” Jimin rushed over to his side. “Do you need water? Seokjin-hyung, could you get some water?”

“On it,” Seokjin hurriedly fetched water.

“Get ahold of yourself Jungkookie,” Taehyung bit back a smile as he patted his friend’s back. “He’s a big fan of you and Hoseok by the way,” he told Jimin.

“U-us?” Jimin looked at Jungkook in surprise. Jungkook swallowed and hurriedly took the glass of water from Seokjin.

“Aish, he’s really shy,” Taehyung explained.

“What took you guys so long?” Yoongi asked Hoseok.

“Learning a new dance,” Hoseok replied, setting the box of cake he brought on the food table beside everything else. “It’s a bit tough to learn and Jimin kept on making mistakes.”

“So did you, hyung!” Jimin protested.

“Maybe you should replace him with me,” Seokjin joked. “I’ve got the moves and the looks too!” he winked.

“Your viewer rating will rise by eighty percent,” Yoongi joined in.

“Wow, show us a sample then, hyung,” Hoseok clapped.

“Sample? You want a sample?” Seokjin challenged. He put down the plate of food he was holding and started to dance, or rather, flail around with his arms. Everyone burst out laughing.

“Namjoon-hyung can dance too,” Jungkook laughed and pointed at Namjoon.

“Dance Monster!” Taehyung cheered and Namjoon broke into a series of half-assed breakdancing moves.

“With this, the viewer rating will rise by one hundred percent,” Yoongi laughed.

“This really is starting to feel like a party now,” Taehyung grinned as he looked at everyone.

“How about you make a toast or something?” Hoseok suggested.

“Good idea,” Taehyung nodded.

“I can start serving the drinks,” Yoongi volunteered. Minutes later, everyone was gathered around the food table with a cup of soda in their hands, except for Taehyung who opted to finish Yoongi’s tea.

“Everyone, first of all I want to thank you so much for coming over to my party,” Taehyung began. “I don’t mean to brag or anything but even though having a lot of subscribers makes me feel less lonely, it’s different from having a group of friends I can eat with. And even though I’ve only known most of you for a while, I hope we can all hang out again from time to time.

“So, here’s to old friends, new friends, and less annoying neighbors,” Taehyung raised his thermos and glanced at Yoongi from the side. Yoongi smiled and shook his head but raised his cup anyway.

“Cheers!” everyone toasted.

Taehyung expected his party to be a bit awkward from the start, especially considering how shy Jungkook might be around his favorite Youtubers. But in the contrary, everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun and engaging in conversations left and right. Namjoon, Hoseok and Yoongi were talking about their favorite music while Seokjin, Jimin, and Jungkook were busy playing one of Taehyung’s board games. The last time he had this much fun was with a group of friends during college. But unfortunately, he lost touch with most of them except for Namjoon-hyung and Jungkook. Maybe this time, he had a chance to start over again with a new group of friends.

“Man, this fried chicken really is good,” Taehyung smacked his lips as he finished another piece.

“Right?” Seokjin said. “He must have really worked hard on this.”

“Earlier he said it wasn’t such a big deal though,” Taehyung wondered aloud.

“He has a thing for downplaying his gestures of kindness,” Seokjin waved him off. “But that guy is really sweet.”

“Really?”

“Yup,” Jimin spoke up. “I haven’t known him for as long as Hoseok-hyung and Seokjin-hyung but he’s been really kind to me. Once, he went with me and Hoseok-hyung to our audition at a talent show. I didn’t pass and Yoongi-hyung found me crying outside the room. We only knew each other through Hoseok-hyung at that time but he invited me out to lunch.”

“That sounds like something he’d do,” Seokjin smiled to himself.

“I know he doesn’t have much experience with failure,” Jimin continued. “But he sure knew what to say to me back then.”

“Is that so?” Taehyung looked around to find Yoongi deep in conversation with Namjoon and Hoseok.

“Yoongi-ah doesn’t show emotion much but he is a pretty sensitive guy,” Seokjin added. Taehyung remembered the conversation the two of them had back at the maintenance closet. It sure felt like Yoongi was opening up to him about things, but at the same time, Taehyung wondered what else he still kept inside.

What struck him the most was Yoongi’s story, the one that wasn’t included in the short online biographies about him. Taehyung knew what it was like to have people judge his dreams and goals in life, but here was now making them come true with ever video he released. But Yoongi, he was still stuck in a position his parents forced him into.

It wasn’t any of Taehyung’s business exactly, but he couldn’t help but want to step in.

“I’m getting more food,” Seokjin said, picking up his plate. “You should eat more too, Jimin.”

“Oh, let me get some,” Taehyung offered. “You guys just sit tight.”

“Can you get some for me too?” Jungkook asked.

“Alright, alright,” Taehyung nodded and walked over to the food table. Even though everyone brought quite a lot of food, almost all of it was finished. Hoseok and Jimin were especially hungry from dance practice and Jungkook probably finished half of the lamb skewers. And of course, everyone seemed to love Yoongi’s fried chicken. Taehyung piled some of that on a plate for the others.

“Someone’s eating for two.” He didn’t even have to turn his head to know that Yoongi was standing beside him.

“Four, actually,” Taehyung said, gesturing over at the coffee table where Seokjin, Jimin, and Jungkook were still playing the board game. “But then, their appetite probably accounts for eight people.”

“That must be why Seokjin-hyung brought so much food.”

“So, how’s practice going?” Taehyung asked. “Your competition is next week, right?”

“Yeah,” Yoongi nodded.

“You’ve pretty much got it in the bag,” Taehyung chuckled. “Your playing is perfect.”

 “We’ll see about it,” Yoongi shrugged. “Do you… want to come watch?” Taehyung blinked in surprise at the invitation.

“Y-you don’t have to, of course,” Yoongi stammered. “I mean, you might be busy and the competition is a bit boring and—”

“I’d love to come watch!” Taehyung said hurriedly. “I’ve never been to one before.”

“Great,” Yoongi smiled. “We can get something to eat after.”

“How about a movie?” Taehyung offered.

“If it has something with animals in it, it’s a no for me,” Yoongi looked at him seriously.

“Very funny,” Taehyung rolled his eyes.

“I wonder what your subscribers would think if they found out about your dark secret.”

“You really are an annoying old turtle,” Taehyung sighed and shook his head while Yoongi laughed. Taehyung felt that weird giddy smile making another appearance on his face. No matter how annoying Yoongi was, he’d probably make five hundred furry jokes about himself just to see him laugh.

“Taehyung-ah! The food!” Jungkook whined.

“Aish, it’s coming,” Taehyung called back., slightly that annoyed that his conversation was interrupted. Suddenly, he heard a phone ringing and Yoongi reached into his pocket to pull his phone out. After glancing at the caller ID once, Yoongi frowned and put down his drink.

“Sorry, I got to take this,” he apologized.

“Sure,” Taehyung nodded and watched him excuse himself out of the apartment to take the call. He was curious as to who could be calling Yoongi and why he looked so uncomfortable and considered maybe eavesdropping from the door when the rest of his friends called him over to eat again.

“Hello?”

“Yoongi, how have you been?” his mother answered.

“I’m okay,” he mumbled and picked at his shoelaces while he was crouching down outside by the wall.

“Have you been practicing for the upcoming competition?”

“What else would I do?” Yoongi sighed as he felt himself getting increasingly uncomfortable as the conversation passed. His mother rarely called him, a good thing really, since Yoongi found himself having difficulty listening to her voice and the underlying tones of pity and sometimes hostility.

“You’re right,” she said. “You have learned your lesson after all. You’re good at quickly picking up on things.”

Yoongi fell silent. ‘And you know how to hit the right nerves,’ he thought. Of course she would bring up that gala, the only time Yoongi didn’t hear applause after playing. His parents sat in the front row on that day, it made it easier for Yoongi to see the looks on their faces.

“If you called me for a reason please say it straightforwardly,” Yoongi said through gritted teeth.

“Alright. I’ll be coming to watch your competition,” his mother finally said. “I’d like to know if you still play perfectly after all these years.”

“I can send you the medal when I’m done,” Yoongi said, disregarding how harsh his tone sounded. “There’s no need for you to come.” No way was he going to allow his mother to meet Taehyung or ruin their plans for that night.

“Don’t disappoint me,” was all she said. Yoongi resisted the urge to throw his phone. “And Yoongi…”

“What?”

“Don’t forget, this is the life you chose for yourself.” And with that, she hung up.

“You don’t have to remind me,” Yoongi whispered and put down his phone. He had already chosen the music life ever since he persisted playing piano and joining competitions. All the fame and praise got to his head and Yoongi found himself dreaming further. It wasn’t unlike that story about Icarus, the boy with wings who wanted to fly even higher. And like him, Yoongi found himself falling instead of flying further the moment the piece he worked weeks on composing was met with disappointment.

It was better for his wings to remain clipped and tied to the ground. After all, he could only go so far with music.

From where he was outside, Yoongi could still hear his friends having fun in Taehyung’s party. During his years in the conservatory, Yoongi often skipped out on parties and hanging out with his friends. He was extremely lucky that his friends were understanding about it. For once, he even thought he could actually enjoy himself in a party. But even with those things, Yoongi could only go so far.

He stood up, hesitating a bit before Taehyung’s door, before turning around and going back into his own apartment.

“Hey, where did Yoongi go?” Hoseok asked, sitting next to Taehyung on the couch.

“He said that he needed to take a call,” Taehyung replied and gestured at the door. “He’s outside but he’s been gone for some time too.”

“I see,” Hoseok pulled his phone out and texted a quick message.

                to: yoongi-hyung (forever brother)

                >>> hey are you okay? you’ve been away for a long time

A reply came just a few seconds after.

                from: yoongi-hyung (forever brother)

                >>> mom called

                >>> i’m practicing. haven’t done it all day

Hoseok cursed under his breath when he saw the message. Taehyung looked over at him.

“Everything okay?” he asked.

“Yoongi-hyung said that he’s going to practice now,” Hoseok said and put his phone away. “I guess he felt nervous about it since he hadn’t practiced all day.”

“What’s there for him to be worried about? He’s a genius,” Taehyung frowned.

“Taehyung, has Yoongi-hyung told you anything about his life?” Hoseok asked. At the sound of his serious tone, Taehyung looked attentively at him.

“Yeah, he told me about the gala and his parents and why he joins a bunch of competitions,” he said.

“Wow, that’s quite a lot,” Hoseok smiled slightly. “He seems to trust you pretty well.”

“I was hoping that he’d trust me more…” Taehyung muttered. “I… I see him as a friend too.”

“You’re a good guy Taehyung,” Hoseok patted his shoulder. “I’ve been friends with Yoongi-hyung since we were in middle school so I kind of saw everything that happened. He looked so happy when he was composing his piece for the gala but then afterwards… he just wasn’t the same.”

“I can imagine,” Taehyung nodded.

“He may be a grown man but I still worry about him,” Hoseok admitted. “Music used to make him smile but now he’s just overworking himself learning pieces again and again. I know he’s talented enough to do what he loves but what happened in the gala really crushed him.

“I’ve really tried to get him back to what he wanted to do then, but Yoongi-hyung just doesn’t seem to be up for it again,” he finished.

“I don’t think he’s given up on them for good though,” Taehyung said. “When he was talking about his past, I could still tell that he longs for what he let go before. I guess Yoongi could just use a little help.”

“And I haven’t given up hope on him yet,” Hoseok smiled. “Maybe knowing someone like you will change things. But at the moment, I’m not really asking for much, do you mind checking on him from time to time for me?”

“What do you mean?” Taehyung cocked his head.

“Yoongi-hyung has a tendency to forget to eat or take care of himself whenever he’s immersed in his practice, that usually happens before a competition,” Hoseok confessed. “A month ago, he didn’t respond to my texts so I broke into his house and found him passed out from near hunger in front of the piano.”

“I-I won’t let that happen then,” Taehyung said determinedly.

“Thanks Taehyung,” Hoseok grinned. “Also, in case you do need to break into his house, he keeps a key under the mat in front of his door.”

“Got it,” Taehyung nodded.

“Thanks for inviting him and all of us here, by the way,” Hoseok added. “Yoongi-hyung wouldn’t go to parties back when he was studying at the conservatory. I bet he really enjoyed himself.”

“And we sure enjoyed his fried chicken,” Taehyung grinned.

“He must have been really excited,” Hoseok nodded. “So was Jimin when he got invite.” He looked over at Jimin who, despite his nervousness earlier, was deep in conversation with none other than Jeon Jungkook.

“Hey, wanna make a bet?” Taehyung nudged Hoseok.

“What are we betting on?”

“Those two,” Taehyung pointed at Jimin and Jungkook. “I bet they’ll be together by the end of the month.”

“Really?” Hoseok grinned. “Alright, my bet is two months.”

“Hey, can I join in?” Seokjin whispered, leaning over the couch behind them.

“Sure,” Taehyung smiled up at him. “My bet is one month. Hoseok is two.”

“Reallly?” Seokjin shook his head. “Okay, mine is two weeks.”

“Hey, isn’t that pretty quick?” Hoseok frowned.

“Two weeks, guaranteed,” Seokjin nodded.

“Alright, what are the stakes?” Taehyung asked.

“How about, losers have to appear in either one of your channels and do whatever the winner says on-screen,” Seokjin suggested. The other two nodded at the idea.

“I’ll make you guys play the scariest horror game I know,” Taehyung grinned devilishly and rubbed his hands together.

“What are you going to be if you win?” Hoseok asked. “That’s a big ‘if’ by the way.”

“If I win…” Seokjin mulled the thought over. “I get to make a food trip vlog and post it on your channels.”

“That doesn’t sound like that bad of a punishment,” Taehyung frowned.

“But, I get to choose your outfits,” Seokjin grinned.

“There’s the punishment,” Hoseok nodded.

“Deal?” Seokjin raised his hands at the two of them.

“Deal.” The three of them shook hands.

“Thanks again for coming!” Taehyung bowed appreciatively at Hoseok and Jimin as they packed up to leave.

“Are you sure you guys don’t need help cleaning up?” Jimin asked.

“It’s okay,” Jungkook waved him off. “You guys live pretty far.”

“Thanks again for inviting us,” Hoseok smiled. “Let’s hang out at my place next time, alright?”

“I’ll look forward to it,” Taehyung grinned.

“Ah, Jimin! You got my number, right?” Jungkook called after them.

“Yeah!” Jimin smiled back. “I’ll text you.” Taehyung glanced at Hoseok and Seokjin who smirked and held up two fingers. ‘Damn, he’s good,’ Taehyung thought.

“Safe trip!” Namjoon waved as Hoseok and Jimin left. Seokjin packed the last of his empty food containers into a bag and walked over to Taehyung.

“I have some pink onesies that I think would fit perfectly on you,” he whispered.

“Whatever, I’ll still win,” Taehyung shook his head.

“Anyway, I’ll be off now,” Seokjin said.

“Are you headed to the bus station?” Namjoon asked.

“Yeah, want to go together?” Seokjin offered.

“Sure,” Namjoon nodded. He finished off his sweeping and put the broom back in the kitchen before joining Seokjin. “See you Taehyung,” he added, hugging his friend again.

“Thanks for coming!” Taehyung smiled. Jungkook waved goodbye and the two finally left. “Well, that was fun.”

“And tiring,” Jungkook sighed and sat down on the couch. He decided to sleep over since he didn’t feel like going all the way home that night. And because there were still some leftover lamb skewers.

“It’s too bad Yoongi couldn’t stay for the whole thing,” Taehyung pouted. Almost as soon as he heard that Yoongi left, all he could hear from the other apartment was the sound of piano playing. It was going on until now.

“His fried chicken was delicious,” Jungkook nodded.

“I was wrong about him,” Taehyung said. “I really thought he was nothing but an annoying old turtle but he really is a kind person. I think he was cooking that fried chicken for the entire afternoon since he wasn’t practicing. He even brought me tea for my throat.”

“Hmmm… someone seems whipped,” Jungkook murmured. Taehyung felt his face heat up.

“N-no way! I just met the guy,” he stammered. Jungkook raised an eyebrow at him.

“You have that look on your face again.”

It was true. Taehyung could feel the giddy smile spreading on his face again. All he needed to do was laugh nervously for Jungkook to finally confirm his ‘Whipped Boy’ theory.

“It’s not that,” Taehyung groaned. “I just feel this way because I’m surprised that he’s a nice guy! That’s all.”

“Right,” Jungkook nodded, unconvinced.

“Well, what about you and Jimin then?” Taehyung pointed out. The tips of Jungkook’s ears turned pink and Taehyung knew he hit the right nerve. “You guys seemed to enjoy talking.”

“H-hey, I told you to throw the trash earlier, why haven’t you done it?” Jungkook dodged the question and dumped the bag of trash by the couch in front of Taehyung. “Go on and do it already!”

“Why, I’m the one who lives here?” Taehyung groaned.

“That’s exactly why,” Jungkook wrestled him off the couch. “Come on, man of the house.”

“Fine,” Taehyung stood up and dragged the bag of trash with him. “But if you guys do plan on dating, can you do so a month from now?”

“What?”

“Nothing,” Taehyung shook his head and hurried out with the trash. Once outside, the sound of piano playing was even louder. ‘He usually stops at around this time,’ Taehyung wondered as he walked towards Yoongi’s apartment. The two of them agreed that they would knock on each other’s door if either of them didn’t follow the schedule that Yoongi made but at the moment, Taehyung figured that he’d step back.

He stood right in front of Yoongi’s apartment and gently pressed his forehead against the door. What Hoseok said earlier echoed in his mind with the sound of Yoongi’s piano playing. ‘I haven’t given up hope on him yet. Maybe knowing someone like you will change things.’ It probably wasn’t just Hoseok who was worried about him but Seokjin and maybe even Jimin as well. And now, so was Taehyung.

“I hope you find your way back, Min Yoongi,” he whispered.

“Alexa, what time is it?” Yoongi yawned and rubbed his eyes as soon as he woke up.

“7:30 a.m.,” she beeped. “Reminder set for eating breakfast at 8:30 a.m.”

“Thanks Alexa,” Yoongi mumbled and got out of bed. His hands ached from playing piano all night so Yoongi stretched them gently. The competition was tomorrow and he decided to practice for only two hours and spend the rest of the day resting his hands. Despite that, Yoongi knew that resting would be the hardest part of the day since it often drove him crazy not being able to practice.

“But first, breakfast,” he told himself. As soon as he reached the kitchen, however, there was barely anything in the pantry or the refrigerator. The last time he bought groceries was when he was buying fried chicken ingredients. Of course, he didn’t think about buying actual food for the rest of the week.

Annoyed by the extra chore, Yoongi went back to his room and changed into some jeans and a hoodie. He took his keys and wallet as well and headed out of his apartment. Thankfully, the grocery was just a few blocks away across the park so Yoongi didn’t have to walk for such a long time. But during his short journey, he took his time to enjoy the sights of a city that’s just about to wake up. In the park, there were only a few people walking their dogs as well as a few old ladies doing what appeared to be yoga right in front of the fountain. Even though Yoongi loved sleeping in and hated getting up early in the morning, he’d admit that walking in the park was more enjoyable at around this time.

In the grocery, he made his rounds and went directly to the aisles he often visited. Yoongi really didn’t opt to make extravagant or complicated meals like Seokjin did so he settled for buying a few simple ingredients. But as soon as he passed by the meat section, he thought about the fried chicken he made for Taehyung’s party and how good it apparently was. It was a pain to make, but he could get used to it. With that thought, Yoongi added a pack of chicken to his shopping basket.

“Are you planning to make it again?”

Yoongi looked up at the owner of the voice and smiled to find Kim Taehyung standing next to him in the aisle. Even though his head and face were covered by his jacket hood and face mask, Yoongi could still it was him. Primarily because he was almost a whole head taller than him.

“Yeah, after all this competition craziness is over and I have more time,” Yoongi said. He looked at Taehyung’s shopping basket and found a huge assortment of energy drinks and candy in it. “You do know that those things are going to make your voice worse.”

“Yeah but I have an awesome neighbor who makes awesome tea,” Taehyung pulled down his mask slightly and smiled at him. Yoongi felt the corner of his mouth turn up slightly at the sight of that smile.

“But this awesome neighbor isn’t going to help you out when you get a toothache or diabetes,” Yoongi pointed. “Geez, and I thought I had bad eating habits. Can you put at least one vegetable in there or something?”

“Do potatoes count as vegetables?” Taehyung joked. Yoongi smacked his arm making Taehyung laugh. “Alright, alright I’ll get some vegetables or something. Wait for me, okay?”

“No, I’m going ahead,” Yoongi walked off but waited nonetheless for his neighbor at an aisle near the counter. Taehyung caught up to him a few minutes later and after Yoongi checked the contents of his shopping basket to make sure he had enough healthy food, and a little less snacks, they finally headed for the checkout counter and walked back home.

While walking, Yoongi found himself enjoying the morning even more, even though he usually was asleep at around this time. Earlier, he felt as if this today was going to be filled with restlessness and anxiety about the competition the next day. Somehow, finding Taehyung in the grocery store and walking home made it better. Yoongi looked at Taehyung walking beside him and wondered how this tall, lanky guy made his day just a bit brighter.

“So, what time is your competition?” Taehyung asked. The two of them were walking through the park carrying their own shopping bags with them. Taehyung offered to carry Yoongi’s but he insisted on bringing it himself.

“It’s at five pm and it should be done by six-thirty,” Yoongi answered. “We can leave at four.”

“Alright,” Taehyung nodded. Yoongi looked around and found a few middle-schoolers wearing baseball uniforms getting ready for a practice game. “Did you play before?” Taehyung asked, looking over at him.

“No,” Yoongi shook his head. “Hoseok did. I played basketball for a bit but my mother made me stop in case I sprained my wrist or a broke a finger.”

“I see,” Taehyung nodded. “I played basketball too.”

“The actual kind or the one in video games?” Yoongi smirked.

“The actual one,” Taehyung nudged him. “I wasn’t that unhealthy. I bet I could beat you.”

“Yeah right,” Yoongi rolled his eyes. “I bet I could beat you with one hand behind my back,” he challenged.

“Oh yeah? I bet I could beat you with one foot tied behind my back!”

“How does that even work?” Yoongi laughed. “Speaking of feet, your shoelaces are untied,” he pointed down at Taehyung’s feet.

“Aw, damn, I forgot to double-knot them,” Taehyung sighed. “Give me a second.” He put down his shopping bag near Yoongi’s feet and crouched down beside a nearby bench to tie his shoelaces. While waiting, Yoongi turned around to watch the middle school baseball players. He was just in time to watch the pitcher pitch a fast ball and the batter to hit it back. But instead of the baseball curving upwards, it flew quickly in their direction. Rather, in Taehyung’s direction.

And it was closing in quickly.

“Look out!” Yoongi yelled and ran after him. Taehyung looked up in surprise at the speeding baseball but remained frozen on the spot. Yoongi quickly closed the distance and raised a hand in an attempt to catch the ball.

But instead, it hit him squarely on the tips of his fingers. Yoongi couldn’t tell if he could really hear them snap when the ball hit but he felt the jolt of pain as soon as the ball hit. He looked down at Taehyung to find him in shock but thankfully unharmed.

“Yoongi…” Taehyung stood up. “You’re hand.” That’s when the pain really sank in and Yoongi finally realized that his right hand was trembling. He was too scared to even look at it.

“I-it’s fine. I can… I can still play…” he stammered.

“No! Your fingers,” Taehyung reached down for his hand. That’s when Yoongi finally forced himself to check. He found that his middle and pointer finger were almost bent back and the rest of his hand was bright red and swelling from the impact. ‘So that’s why I couldn’t feel anything in those two fingers…’ Yoongi thought as he bit his lip to keep from crying out in pain. For some reason, looking at it made it feel even worse.

“We need to get you a hospital, okay?” Taehyung said gently, looking him in the eye. “Don’t think about piano practice for now. We need to get your hand treated.”

“Alright,” Yoongi gasped and inhaled deep breaths to focus on something other than the pain. This kind of accident was the main reason why his mother stopped him from playing sports or learning how to cook to protect his fingers. His piano playing fingers.

And just like that, his happy morning ended.

“How long is it going to take for it to heal, doctor?” Taehyung asked. He and Yoongi took the bus to the nearby hospital. There, Yoongi’s hand was X-rayed before getting wrapped up with a splint on the middle and pointer fingers.

“Four to six weeks,” the doctor answered. “Try not to exert it and make sure to put it on an ice pack every three to four hours on the first day.”

“I see,” Taehyung nodded. He looked over at Yoongi who was silent spaced out for almost the entire time they were in the hospital. “Yoongi…” Taehyung said gently, placing a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “I know you have a competition tomorrow but you need to rest, okay?” Yoongi only nodded slowly.

“Here’s a prescription of his pain medication,” the doctor pushing a piece of paper towards them. “Follow the instructions on when to take them.”

“Thank you doctor,” Taehyung bowed and got up. Yoongi cradled his injured hand gently and left the office without a word.

He didn’t even say anything after Taehyung bought his medications and during the short bus ride on the way back to their apartment. Taehyung could tell, however, that Yoongi could only be worried about his upcoming competition. It sucked having this kind of accident the day before such an event especially after all Yoongi’s hard work practicing for it. But surely there were other competitions he could join afterwards. Taehyung was sure that Yoongi could get back on his feet.

“Hey, since you can’t cook or anything, what about I make dinner for you?” Taehyung offered, looking over at Yoongi sitting beside him. “I mean, I’m not as great a cook as Seokjin-hyung is but I can make some simple meals. I’ll promise I won’t give you food poisoning or anything,” he laughed nervously. Yoongi didn’t say a word and continued to look out the window. Taehyung bit his lip and hung his head.

And the silence between stretched even more.

After the bus ride, Taehyung used Yoongi’s keys to open his apartment to let him in. He asked if there was anything else Yoongi wanted him to do, but the only response he received was “Please leave me alone.”

“Audio message received from ‘Mother,’” Alexa beeped. Yoongi was sitting on the floor of his bedroom with his back resting against the wall near his bed. He still found it hard to believe that the fingers of his right hand were wrapped up with a splint and that he wouldn’t be able to play tomorrow at the competition.

“Play message,” Yoongi swallowed.

“Son, why haven’t you answered any of my calls?” his mother’s voice filled up his empty bedroom. Yoongi felt himself curl up even tighter. “Please let me know what time you’ll arrive at the venue area and when your turn begins. This is serious, please call back.”

There was silence afterwards before his mother said one last thing. “Don’t even think about missing this competition.”

“Audio message ended,” Alexa said. “Would you like to reply?”

“Alexa, don’t reply,” Yoongi said and gazed long and hard at his fingers. This was the first time he’s ever broken them, but it wasn’t the last time he missed out on a competition.

The first time happened after the gala, when Yoongi fell into depression after his failed attempt at showing off something he created himself. He didn’t even want to touch or look at a piano. His parents left him alone during that time but his mother reminded Yoongi that his avoidance would someday stop. He loved the piano too much.

And she was right.

Yoongi stood up and made his way out of his bedroom to the piano, which looked lonelier now as it sat in the very dim light of his apartment. He sat down on the bench, lifted up the lid, and rested the fingers of his left hand on the keys. Then, the bandaged fingers of his right hand.

He remembered that one time he was playing the piano late at night once, back when he was in middle school. Instead of practicing for the piece he was supposed to learn for the gala, Yoongi felt his fingers playing a different melody. One that didn’t come from any famous composer but from himself, from his late nights of tossing and turning in his bed, from the scraps of melodies he wrote in his notebook during class. At that time, Yoongi felt himself asking the piano if it was okay for him to dream farther than the competitions his mother signed him up in. He asked if it was okay for him to create something.

And then he got the answer to that on the fateful gala night.

“Don’t forget, this is the life you chose for yourself,” his mother’s words echoed in his head.

‘No,’ Yoongi thought bitterly and ripped off the bandages from his right hand. ‘This is what was given to me.’ And with that thought, he began to play.

“Alright, this should be enough,” Taehyung muttered to himself as he packed some rice into a container and added it into a bag which was already filled with containers of some side dishes and soup. He didn’t have much cooking know-how but he did learn enough from his grandmother to make a few dishes.

Taehyung kind of felt bad earlier when Yoongi told him to leave the house instead of asking for help. But he also remembered his promise to Hoseok about taking care of Yoongi. The poor guy was probably still reeling from the accident earlier so Taehyung brought it upon himself to cook dinner for him.

“Yoongi! I brought some dinner!” Taehyung called and knocked on the door. “Yoongi?”

And that was when he heard the noise: the faint sound of piano playing. Taehyung froze, ‘No way, Yoongi wouldn’t be this careless,’ he thought. He pressed his ear against the door and sure enough, he was hearing the sound of piano playing.

“Yoongi! You can’t play the piano yet!” Taehyung knocked harder on the door. “You have to let it rest or it won’t heal properly!” Yoongi still didn’t answer the door and the sound of piano playing continued.

“Shit,” Taehyung cursed and put down the bag he was carrying. Remembering again what Hoseok said, he flipped over the mat outside Yoongi’s apartment door and picked up a spare key. He quickly unlocked the door and burst into the apartment.

“Yoongi!” he yelled but without so much as a response from his neighbor. Min Yoongi was sitting hunched in front of the piano. Even in the dim light, Taehyung could see his right hand shaking as he pressed the keys. He rushed over to his neighbor and grabbed Yoongi by the shoulders.

“Snap out of it, Yoongi!”

“Taehyung…” Yoongi mumbled, looking up at his neighbor. “Please, just leave me alone,” he pleaded. Taehyung looked down at his injured hand which was starting to swell again. It should be hurting like hell but Yoongi seemed unfazed by it.

“What have you done?” Taehyung shook his head at the sight. “The doctor said it takes four to six weeks to heal. You can’t play in the competition tomorrow.”

“I have to!” Yoongi cried and took his hand back. “I have to make it tomorrow and play perfectly!”

“There are other competitions out there!” Taehyung attempted to reason with him. “I know it sucks that you practiced so long and hard for this one but we have to prioritize your health. We’ll find a new one, I promise.”

“You don’t understand,” Yoongi shook his head. Taehyung could hear the sound of his voice cracking. “These people are unforgiving. Yes, they’ll call you a genius if you have talent. But after just one slip-up they’ll be all over you.”

“Who are you talking about?” Taehyung crouched in front of Yoongi gently placed a hand on his arm. Yoongi sniffed wiped the tears that were now flowing out of his eyes.

“Everyone…” he sobbed and covered his mouth with his hand. “Mom and Dad. The competition judges. The media. The audience. Everyone.” Yoongi shook his head.

Taehyung looked down and felt tears welling up in his eyes as well. He always found himself crying after seeing other people cry. Seeing Yoongi, his tough, strong-willed neighbor like this, crying in front of a piano with broken finger, made Taehyung’s chest especially hurt.

“It was so hard getting back to competitions after the gala,” Yoongi sniffed. “I stopped playing but when I finally started again, hardly anyone would let me join. They knew how much of a failure I was. But when I was finally allowed to join some, everything changed.

“I can feel them all staring down at me when I play,” Yoongi shuddered and sobbed harder. “I know they’re all waiting for me to screw up again.”

Taehyung struggled to find some words to say. All he could think about was how difficult the past years have been for Yoongi. “It must have been hard for you,” Taehyung whispered and took Yoongi’s hands in his. “And I can’t even begin to understand a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of that pain you’ve been carrying around all this time.” He knew it wasn’t the most comforting thing in the world to say, but he’d rather tell Yoongi what he really felt instead of spouting some bullshit.

“It’s so hard being on that stage,” Yoongi confessed. “It’s so hard not being able to play the piano again.”

“Don’t go back on that stage then,” Taehyung implored, lifting up Yoongi’s chin with a finger so he’d look at him. “If you can’t take it then don’t go back. I know you’ve wanted to do something much more than this. You told me yourself that you wouldn’t shit on your dreams so don’t be a hypocrite and shit on your own.”

“A dream?” Yoongi shook his head and smiled bitterly through his tears. “I don’t think I even have that.”

Taehyung sniffed and wiped his eyes. It felt as if he was the one who was crying more between the two of them. Even now, he still felt like hitting himself for not having anything good to say. But after what Yoongi said, Taehyung felt as if he was drawn back to his own high school years. He knew that feeling of not knowing what to do and being stuck in place while everyone was passionately running forward. It all felt like a race to him back then with Taehyung right smack in the starting line. But despite that, he got to where he wanted to be.

“Yoongi,” Taehyung gently rested his hand on Yoongi’s left. “It’s okay to cry about it now, it’s worth crying over. And it’s okay if all you want to do later is eat and sleep for twenty hours. God knows you deserve it.

“It’s okay to feel hurt about this and be confused because that’s the first step to figuring things out,” he continued. Yoongi wiped the tears from his eyes and finally looked him in the eye instead of avoiding his gaze. “You have friends with you and I know they’ll do anything to help you out.”

Yoongi bit his lip and looked down at where Taehyung’s hand was resting on his. Gently, he closed his fingers over it. He opened his mouth as if to say something before hesitating and pursing his lips. Taehyung smiled reassuringly and waited patiently for him to say anything. Finally, he spoke.

“Will you help me?” Yoongi looked down as he said those words before glancing up at Taehyung with a worried look on his face. Judging from that look, Taehyung could only imagine how rarely Yoongi said those words. It was an expression that Taehyung knew he used more than once throughout a day, but with Yoongi, he knew it held more weight than he could ever imagine.

Taehyung smiled and got up to wrap his arms around Yoongi.

“Of course I will.”

Chapter Text

“Min Yoongi, you are a grown man! I can’t believe you would do something so stupid,” Alexa spoke. Taehyung couldn’t help but pause while cooking, or rather, attempting to cook, to watch Yoongi react to the text messages Alexa was reading out. At the moment, he was at an in-between regarding whether he should feel afraid at the ferocity of Hoseok’s text messages or laugh because Alexa’s voice made it sound so deadpan. Yoongi, however, looked quite calm sitting in front of Alexa with his knees pulled up and the faintest trace of a pout on his lips.

“If it wasn’t for Seokjin-hyung coming to visit you and me monitoring my students’ dance rehearsal, you would be dead meat,” Alexa continued. “And I hope this time to take a break will force you to think about how to take better care of yourself.” There was a short pause and Taehyung waited to hear more until Alexa finished with “Message ended. Compose reply?”

“Alexa, compose reply,” Yoongi spoke. “I’m sorry for worrying you. I…I won’t do it again.” Taehyung watched him pause and glance slightly at his still-bandaged fingers before asking Alexa to send the message.

“Well, I guess Seokjin-hyung is coming over later,” Yoongi said, standing up and walking over to sit down at the kitchen counter.

“That’s good news,” Taehyung nodded and stirred the stew he was cooking on a small pot on the stove. Apart from checking in on what Yoongi was doing from time to time, Taehyung could hardly let himself look away from anything he was cooking. “You won’t have to put up with my cooking anymore,” he chuckled.

“Your cooking is pretty good,” Yoongi said.

“I triggered the smoke alarm a couple of times and somehow managed to evaporate an entire pot of water.”

“You’re… improving,” Yoongi corrected himself. With that, he picked up a spoon, dipped it into the stew Taehyung was cooking, and tasted it. Taehyung saw Yoongi wince slightly before faking a smile and nodding. “See? It’s good.”

“It needs more salt, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, way more salt,” Yoongi nodded. Taehyung sprinkled three more pinches of salt into the stew. Ever since that night after Yoongi broke his fingers, Taehyung took it upon himself to take care of him. His neighbor, of course, denied his help and tried to do things by himself. But, after a few days of arguing, threatening, and an incident involving Yoongi burning himself after trying to eat ramyeon with his left hand, he finally gave in and let Taehyung take care of things.

Of course, Taehyung himself wasn’t that good at everything. Triggering a few smoke alarms wasn’t an exaggeration and if it wasn’t for the fact that Yoongi pretty much wore only black and white, half his laundry would have been stained. But, after a bit of practice, he eventually learned his way around things.

He was surprised though that Yoongi wasn’t fed up with him yet. ‘Maybe it’s because I’m the only one readily available,’ he thought sadly as he tasted his stew again to make sure it was actually palatable.

“I’ll start setting the table,” Yoongi offered, tiptoeing to reach the plates in the cupboard. Taehyung’s hand immediately shot out to take a couple of plates instead.

“I can take care of it, go sit down already,” he said, nodding his head at the table.

“Taehyung, I’m not completely helpless you know,” Yoongi said, raising his left hand and twiddling his fingers in the air. “Besides, you’ve been a lot of help here lately. I can still do my part.”

“Even with one hand, you can probably do things better than me,” Taehyung felt himself pout slightly.

“I… I didn’t mean that,” Yoongi frowned slightly, pouting his lips again. “I must have worded it wrong again… I-I meant that you’ve been really nice to me by helping out. I guess, nicer than I really thought you could be. And you’re already pretty nice in the first place.”

Taehyung paused what he was doing as realization set in. Yoongi did tend to say things in such a way that sounded a bit blunt and bordering on harsh at times. But when he explained himself again, like right now, Taehyung finally understood the care and consideration that Yoongi really meant.

“I… I see,” he nodded. With a small smile to himself, Taehyung remembered something that his grandmother always reminded him: “Sometimes people would rather hear ‘You’re welcome’ rather than dodging the compliment.” With that, Taehyung turned to Yoongi and said “You’re welcome. I’m happy to do it for you.”

Another one of Yoongi’s small, embarassed smiles appeared on his face and Taehyung immediately gave himself a mental high-five for saying the right thing that produced the right reaction. He turned away and started ladling the stew in a bigger bowl so that he could hide his own embarassed, giddy smile.

“I-I’ll serve this soon so sit at the table already,” he said.

“I’m going to set the table too,” Yoongi said adamantly and pulled a couple of bowls from the shelf. This time, Taehyung let him be.

Yoongi never thought that receiving help would be so hard.

Physically, of course, it was less draining having someone with two capable hands helping around the house compared to constantly spilling things himself and using twice as much energy. But, there was something mentally draining with having to admit to needing help after Yoongi had lived so independently before. He knew how to take care of things himself. Whenever he had a high fever or a cold, he’d just heat some soup, drink some medicine, and sleep it off. So having to sit back and watch someone else do things for him made him feel quite unsettled.

Another variable that factored into his feeling of slight discomfort was the fact that that someone who was now doing things for him over the past two weeks was Kim Taehyung. Actually, discomfort wouldn’t exactly be the term. No, the feeling of having Taehyung constantly around him was restlessness. If Taehyung was in one room of the house, Yoongi felt caught in a limbo of whether or not he wanted to be in that room or out of it. And as much as he hated to admit it, seeing Taehyung eating across him at the dining table made his previously lonely apartment seem much more… cosy. As if somehow, it was meant to be that way.

“Yoongi! Earth and stars and the planet Mars to Yoongi!”

Yoongi blinked in surprise as he was snapped out of his thoughts to find Taehyung calling him to attention. “S-sorry, what were you saying?” he asked.

“Do you need help eating again?” Taehyung repeated his question. “You were holding your spoon weirdly and not eating anything.”

“It’s nothing, I was just thinking about stuff,” Yoongi mumbled and went back to eating, spooning up his stew using is left hand. It took quite a bit of practice doing that but before he learned how, Taehyung had to help him eat at one point. He didn’t do a bad job of it but Yoongi felt a hundred times more restless when it happened.

“Alright then,” Taehyung shrugged and returned to eating his stew. Whenever he ate, Yoongi noticed how he would always fill up his mouth with food, making his cheeks look extra puffy when he did so. Yoongig couldn’t help but find it quite endearing, even if Taehyung did tend to have sauce or bits of rice stuck near his lips.

“Maybe you’re the one who needs help eating,” Yoongi snickered as he looked over at him.

“What?” Taehyung glanced up. Yoongi licked his thumb and reached over to wipe a trace of sauce at the very corner of Taehyung’s lips. His eyes widened slightly with surprise at the suddenness of what he did and Yoongi himself instantly felt a rush of embarassment. But not before having a short, two-second thought about what it would feel like to really run his thumb across Taehyung’s lips.

God, what was happening to him?

“M-maybe you should eat with some paper napkins and stuff on hand,” Yoongi stammered and folded his hands on the table in front of him to prevent them from doing anything he’d regret later. “You usually have sauce around your mouth and everything…”

“R-right, thanks for telling me,” Taehyung nodded. The two of them fell silent for a while when suddenly Yoongi heard someone knocking on his door outside.

“MIN YOONGI YOU BETTER NOT BE DEAD,” he heard Seokjin’s voice echo through the door. Normally, Yoongi would be annoyed by the interruption but right now, he eagerly headed to the door to answer it.

“Thank god, you’re still alive,” Seokjin sighed with relief as soon as Yoongi opened the door. Without even waiting for Yoongi to let him in or greet him, Seokjin pushed past and placed a large shopping bag on the table. From there, he proceeded to remove different kinds of containers full of food from the bag.

“Sure, Seokjin-hyung, you can come right in,” Yoongi said belatedly before following him to the dining area again.

“Don’t get all sassy with me, I’m your food angel, remember?” Seokjin raised an eyebrow at him before smiling at Taehyung and patting him on the head. “But I see you have another guardian here too.”

“I’m not much of one,” Taehyung smiled sheepishly.

“Anyone who takes care of Min Yoongi here is a great guardian,” Seokjin reasoned. “But seriously, thanks a lot for helping him, Taehyung.”

“It’s not a problem,” he smiled kindly and shook his head. “My grandmother told me it’s always good to help a neighbor out.”

“I bet I owe you a million favors right now,” Yoongi said.

“Don’t think of it as that,” Taehyung waved him off.

“Alright, I can’t stay quite long. I just brought a bit of food with me for Yoongi to eat,” Seokjin said, folding the empty shopping bag and placing it under his arm.

“A bit?” Yoongi raised an eyebrow at the mountain of food containers on his table.

“Share it with Taehyung then if it’s too much.”

“Wow, did you cook all of this?” Taehyung grinned as he opened a container full of gimbap. “I’ll definitely be having some of this.”

“Oh yeah, while I’m here…” Seokjin smiled sneakily and edged closer to Taehyung. “Any updates on our bet?”

“Bet?” Yoongi frowned. Taehyung, however, grinned smugly and crossed his arms.

“Still no news,” he said. “ And your two weeks are almost up. Face it, Seokjin. You’re going to lose.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” Seokjin returned the smug smile and raised up his phone. “Jimin just asked me about advice on how to dress well for a ‘friendly hangout.’ The last time he did was when he went out with someone.” Taehyung’s face fell.

“Th-that doesn’t mean anything!” he stammered.

“What are you two talking about?” Yoongi finally asked when the confusion was too much to handle.

“We made a bet with Hoseok at the party about when Jungkook and Jimin were going to start going out,” Seokjin answered. “And I bet that they would get together in two weeks.”

“I guess it’s too late to tell you this now but, don’t ever make a bet with Seokjin-hyung,” Yoongi warned Taehyung. “I once had to take a selfie while sipping a milkshake and have it posted on his food blog.”

“It was a cute selfie,” Seokjin pointed out. “But he’s right, never make a bet with me.” Taehyung pouted and Yoongi couldn’t help but chuckle at his expression. Just then, Taehyung’s phone started ringing. Seokjin took one look at it and started cackling. Meanwhile, a look of worry came upon Taehyung’s face when he saw the caller ID as he picked up the phone.

“It’s Jungkook…”

“Put him on speakerphone why don’t you?” Seokjin grinned. Taehyung pouted again and did as he was told.

“Yeah, Jungkook?” he answered the phone hesitantly.

“Dude, you gotta help me,” Jungkook immediately said.

“W-what happened?” Taehyung asked, casting a nervous glance at Seokjin.

“I… kind of asked Jimin out on a date,” Jungkook said slowly. At the sound of this, Seokjin began jumping around cheerfully and waving his arms in the air. Yoongi grinned and shook his head at his hyung’s antics.  

“I told you to ask him a month from now,” Taehyung groaned.

“I couldn’t help it!” Jungkook protested. “I was just chatting with him and showing him memes and before I knew I just typed ‘Wanna go out to a theme park?’ and he said ‘Sure!’ and now I don’t what to do because I haven’t said it was a date and I kind of want it to be a date but I don’t know if he wants it to be a date so you have to help me here.”

“Well, why are you asking me? I’ve never been on a date before,” Taehyung said. Yoongi couldn’t help but suddenly look up Taehyung who, for some reason, also turned to look at him as soon as he said so. Quickly, Yoongi looked away and pretended to study something on the ground. But what Taehyung said did remain in his head.

“I think I could be of assistance here,” Seokjin said, holding his hand out to Taehyung for the phone.

“Wait, is that Seokjin-hyung? Are you on speakerphone?!” Jungkook spluttered.

“…Sorry,” Taehyung grinned sheepishly. “Yoongi’s here too, by the way.”

“Oh wow Yoongi-hyung is there too. Are you so whipped tha—”

“Okay here’s Seokjin-hyung with stellar dating advice,” Taehyung cut him off and handed the phone over to Seokjin.

“Pro-dating advice coming right up!” Seokjin exclaimed, thrusting a hand in the air as he walked into Yoongi’s bedroom.

“Sure, you can use my room too if you want,” Yoongi said belatedly again.

“Is Jungkook in good hands?” Taehyung raised an eyebrow.

“Very,” Yoongi nodded. “Seokjin-hyung is quite the expert with both girls and guys.”

“I see,” Taehyung nodded. “And… what about you?”

“Me?” Yoongi blinked in surprise at the suddenness of the question.

“I-If you’re comfortable talking about it, that is,” Taehyung said hurriedly.

“It’s fine,” Yoongi shrugged. “And to answer your question, I’ve never gone on a date.”

“No one’s ever asked you?”

“Yeah, and I never asked anyone. I do get pretty busy studying for piano competitions,” Yoongi added. “But I guess I kind of do have time now.”

Ever since the night of his accident, Yoongi found himself in that same position he was in before wherein he stopped playing the piano completely. And it wasn’t just because of his injured hand. It’s not like he hated the piano and wanted to smash it to pieces. Yoongi could never hate music. But right now, he just needed some time to breathe and think things through.

Of course, with Taehyung around causing that overall restless feeling, it was harder than he thought.

“Well, you can make a Tinder account with one hand,” Taehyung shrugged.

“Hmmm,” Yoongi smiled and played along. “’Min Yoongi. 25. Genius pianist.’ That sounds like a pretty good profile.”

“More like ‘Min Yoongi. Annoying old turtle. Black and white aesthetic,’” Taehyung teased.

“Well that’s much better than ‘Kim Taehyung. Full-time furry. I love foxes.’”

“Well, for your information I don’t need Tinder. I’ve got a ton of subscribers who would totally go on a date with me,” Taehyung bragged.

“How come you haven’t gone on one then?” Yoongi challenged.

“Well, if I do want to go on a date, I want it to be with the right person,” Taehyung said almost quietly. “I’m not really the type who’d go on blind dates or mixers or stuff like that. I’d rather get to know the person first and ask them out if I see a possibility of getting together.”

“I see,” Yoongi nodded. “Well, we’re kind of the same then. I don’t see the point in spending time with someone if I’m not quite sure I want to spend even more time with them.”

“Yeah?” Taehyung raised an eyebrow at him. “Well, I bet I’m still a bit more different from you.”

“How so?” Yoongi snorted.

“Because…” Taehyung paused and Yoongi saw him bite the corner of his lip a bit. “I kind of… like guys?”

And for a second there, the Earth seemed to stop revolving. Yoongi questioned every statistics report he looked up regarding the gay population in Korea. According to them, only one out of twenty males were homosexual but there was literally a gay, Korean man standing right next to Yoongi in his very own kitchen. ‘Accurate statistics, my ass,’ he thought.

“Why are you quiet?” Taehyung’s voice broke Yoongi out of his reverie.

“Uh, nothing. I totally respect and acknowledge that,” he replied. “It’s just…”

“Not what you expected?” Taehyung guessed.

“No,” Yoongi shook his head. “I mean, it is a bit of a surprise. But I was just thinking about how statistics often show that not a lot of men in Korea are gay when literally all of my friends are. Except for Hoseok, that is.”

“Ahhh, the designated straight,” Taehyung nodded sagely.

“Every group needs one,” Yoongi grinned.

“Well, I kind of figured you would be cool with it so… thanks for actually being cool with it,” Taehyung said and turned his attention to the large stack of food containers on the table. “I’ll go ahead and start putting this in the refridgerator now,” he offered. Yoongi, having learned of Taehyung’s tenacity to take care of things himself, decided to let him be and instead busied himself with packing away the used dishes. Seokjin was still in Yoongi’s room giving what seemed like a ton of stellar dating advice so it was just him and Taehyung alone in the rest of the apartment. Taehyung started washing the dishes after putting away Seokjin’s food and Yoongi, after being caught in that same limbo of stay-or-go and choosing to stay, leaned beside him on the counter.

“You know, I really think I should repay you for helping me out here,” Yoongi mumbled as he played with the bandage on his fingers.

“And I told you, I really don’t think you need to,” Taehyung said exasperatedly but with a bit of a smile on his face.

“What if I treat you to a meal or two instead?” Yoongi offered. “Or to coffee or something?” Taehyung paused for a minute and seemed to consider it.

“That would work,” he nodded and Yoongi stood up even straighter. “I don’t really drink coffee though…”

“How about hot chocolate?” Yoongi asked. “I know a place that serves great hot chocolate.” At the mention of the words ‘hot chocolate’, Taehyung’s eyes practically lit up.

“Bingo!” he grinned. “Café it is then.”

“Great,” Yoongi smiled. “When is it okay for you to go out?"

“Maybe… Wednesday? I recorded a video in advance for that day so I just need to do a bit of editing,” Taehyung said.

“Alright,” Yoongi nodded. “Wednesday it is. My treat, okay?”

“Okay,” Taehyung grinned.

“So,” Seokjin suddenly spoke up, making both of them turn around in surprise. He stood behind the kitchen counter with a smug grin on his face, holding Taehyung’s phone in his hand. “Should I be giving more dating advice to anyone?”

“I-It’s just a café hang out, geez!” Taehyung stammered.

“I’m being a good neighbor!” Yoongi protested at the same time.

“Alright, alright,” Seokjin nodded, placing Taehyung’s phone back on the counter. “No need to reason yourself out of this.” He picked up his shopping bag and headed to the door. “I got to get back to work now. See you guys!” he waved.

“Whatever,” Yoongi grumbled.

“Oh, and remember to use condoms!” Seokjin added.

“GET OUT!”

“So, how did your date go with Jimin?” Taehyung asked, flopping down on his bed with his phone pressed against his ear. Even though he knew he’d have to do Seokjin’s request because he lost the bet, Taehyung still felt really happy for Jungkook. He was always a bit uncomfortable around girls, since they constantly wanted to ask him out, and guys, because he was afraid of social rejection due to his sexuality. But now, it looked like Jungkook did have serious feelings towards Jimin who, based on impressions from the party, seemed to be a pretty sweet guy.

“I almost don’t want to talk right now because I’m afraid you’ll make fun of how I sound,” Jungkook answered. Even through the phone, Taehyung could detect the giddiness and joy in Jungkook’s voice.

“Fine, fine. I won’t make fun of you for it,” Taehyung chuckled. “I swear on my beloved collection of ‘Undertale’ merch.”

“Alright, I trust you,” Jungkook gave in. Taehyung heard him take in a deep breath before finally continuing. “God, there’s so much to say. The date itself was already really fun and Jimin was really adventurous when it came to the rides. He’s definitely my type.”

“That’s good news,” Taehyung grinned. “Go on! I want to hear more,” he pressed.

“I know, I know. I’m getting there,” Jungkook rushed. “Jimin is… he feels like more than just my type.”

“Like he’s your soulmate or something?”

“I don’t like how cheesy that sounds but yes, kind of. It’s hard to explain,” Jungkook paused for a while and Taehyung waited silently for him to continue. “There was just, this moment when we were riding the spinning teacups. Jimin was right in front of me laughing his head off and I was just watching him and somehow, it felt as if it was meant to be. It felt as if I was meant to be near him and seeing or making him laugh.”

Taehyung felt himself staring wide-eyed at the ceiling while listening to Jungkook talk about this feeling he’d been having for quite a while. The feeling of being with someone and someplace where he thought he belonged.

“Hello? Taehyung?” Jungkook spoke.

“O-oh, sorry. I spaced out a bit,” Taehyung stammered. “That’s great news though. Really, I can imagine how cute you two are going to be.”

“Don’t worry. I won’t leave you forever alone,” Jungkook joked.

“Actually…” Taehyung bit his lip. “I… I think I like someone too.”

“Hmmm… could that ‘someone’ be that genius pianist Min Yoongi that I noticed you’ve been pining for all this time?”

“Yeah, yeah. I admit it,” Taehyung smiled slightly and covered his face with is arm. “I think I’m in love with Min Yoongi.”

“You’re really challenging the boundaries of my sarcasm right here,” Jungkook replied.

“Can’t you just say ‘Congratulations’?”

“Congratulations!!!”

“That didn’t sound at all sarcastic,” Taehyung said sarcastically.

“Well, what are you going to do about it now?” Jungkook asked.

“Yoongi invited me to go to a café with him with good hot chocolate,” Taehyung explained. “Should I… confess then?”

“Confess when you feel like confessing,” Jungkook said.

“When did you confess to Jimin?” Taehyung asked.

“Like, when we were riding the biggest rollercoaster in the park, right when it started.”

“Great timing.”

“Hey, I felt that it was the right moment,” Jungkook protested. “And Jimin kissed me right when we were on the loop-de-loop. Rollercoaster kisses are quite thrilling.”

“Aish, you two are too cute,” Taehyung chuckled. He himself couldn’t quite imagine kissing Yoongi on a rollercoaster.

“You’ll know when it’s the right time,” Jungkook said.

“I guess…” Taehyung nodded.

“Oh, hold on. I think Jimin’s calling me too.”

“Don’t keep your man waiting!” Taehyung giggled. “See you, Jungkook.”

“Good luck with Yoongi!” Jungkook added before hanging up. Taehyung smiled again, imagining the excitement on his best friend’s face, before putting down the phone. It felt good finally saying what had been pent up in his chest for so long. But that still didn’t quite undo the tangle of worries in his head about Yoongi. Even though Taehyung pretty much realized his feelings for him already, he knew Yoongi must still be in a lot of mental turmoil because of his accident. He may not appear so depressed now, but Taehyung could still tell he was a boat marooned far away from the shore.

Maybe confessing soon wasn’t the right time. Taehyung didn’t want to further complicate things in Yoongi’s head. But for some reason, Taehyung didn’t feel quite restless about not being able to tell Yoongi about how he felt. The two of them were neighbors after all, and right now, Taehyung still enjoyed those moments with Yoongi in his apartment doing chores that he normally hated doing.

Yeah, it still felt like he had all the time in the world.

Dressing up with only one hand was hard. But now, Yoongi realized that dressing up nicely to go out using only one hand was even harder.

“Damn it,” Yoongi cursed out loud when he found out he unbuttoned his shirt wrong again. With one hand, he angrily undid all his buttons and went back to the closet to see if he had something else that was good to wear that didn’t have so many damn buttons. All the other nice things he had to wear were the suits he put on for his competitions. He couldn’t exactly wear that to a simple café outing. But then again, Kim Taehyung probably would.

Finally, his eyes landed on a dark green, turtleneck sweater he received from Seokjin for his birthday. Judging by the tag that was still on the clothes, Yoongi hadn’t worn it yet. ‘Well, there’s a first time for everything,’ he thought, taking off his button-down shirt and pulling the sweater over his head. He looked at himself in the mirror.

Seokjin must have really thought this present through because Yoongi found himself liking the sweater. The color wasn’t any of his usual black or white, basically Seokjin’s way of adding any other color to Yoongi’s wardrobe, but the dark green was something that he liked. Not too bright or loud. The sweater seemed to be the right size too since it didn’t completely swallow him up either and it went well with the black, skinny jeans he was wearing.

Satisfied with how his clothes look, Yoongi ran a comb through his hair to fix it a bit before finally putting on some earrings. Having about three piercings in each ear was one of his little ways of rebelling against his parents. Finally, he deemed himself ready and stayed in the living room to wait for Taehyung.

It didn’t take long before Yoongi heard a knock on the door which caused him to stand up a bit too eagerly to answer it.

“Hey, did you have to wait long?” Taehyung greeted with a slightly anxious smile on his face. He was wearing blue, denim jeans and a teal shirt with a white jacket on top that had really cool paint splatter designs. He also had on a dark blue beret hat. Again, not something Yoongi saw himself wearing personally but Taehyung really did manage to pull it off.

“No, I just finished changing too,” Yoongi shook his head and stepped out of the apartment before locking the door behind him. “So, shall we go then?”

“Sure!” Taehyung grinned enthusiastically and the two of them started walking. “Oh, almost forgot.” He paused and pulled out a pair of shades. “As much as I love of my fans, they do kind of get into your personal space.”

“That’s understandable,” Yoongi nodded. “You can borrow this too if you want,” he said, handing him a face mask that he kept in his pocket.

“Sad that I’ll have to cover up my handsome face,” Taehyung sighed, taking the mask from Yoongi and putting it on.

“You don’t have to completely cover your face,” Yoongi muttered. Taehyung smirked at him.

“Why? Want to see more of it?” he teased. Yoongi felt himself blush and quickly walked ahead.

“Do whatever you want! I’ll start catching a bus.” Behind him, Taehyung laughed and walked quickly to catch up.

The two of them managed to quickly board a bus and, since there weren’t that many people around, Taehyung didn’t have to wear the mask Yoongi lent him. Not that Yoongi completely minded since he himself couldn’t imagine being that famous to the point where he had to hide in pubic to avoid being approached so often.

Talking to Taehyung was never tiring either. Even though they haven’t known each other for so long, Yoongi found his more talkative side being drawn out as he chatted with Taehyung. He was quite a good listener too. Even though Taehyung often had a blank look on his face while listening to Yoongi, he didn’t drift away from the conversation at all. After worrying for practically the whole night about how awkward things might be with Taehyung when they went out, Yoongi found himself relaxing instead at how easy things were going.

“Not a lot of people come over to this café so you can leave your mask off too,” Yoongi suggested as soon as they stepped out of the bus, directly in front of the café.

“’Cityscape,’” Taehyung looked up and read aloud the title. “Ahh! I get it. ‘City’ and ‘escape’, right?” he grinned proudly.

“Congratulations, you have proven that you do indeed have ten brain cells,” Yoongi clapped slowly and walked ahead into the café.

“Come on, don’t be mean like that,” Taehyung chuckled and chased after him.

Inside, the café itself had a simple, minimalistic, black-and-white aesthetic with some pops of gray, yellow, and dark red. Kind of like a city, considering the name of the café of course. What Yoongi liked the best were the watercolor paintings of cityscapes, the skyline of Seoul sketched onto the white walls, and the elegant, black piano that rested against the wall at the far end of the café.

Yoongi smiled at the employees behind the counter, Mr. Sangmin and Ms. Sonyeo, who both knew him as a regular visitor, and went ahead to sit at his usual spot near the piano. Meanwhile, Taehyung followed slowly behind him, admiring the aesthetic of the café. His eyes lingered over the art pieces and he ran his fingers over some of the wall sketches before finally sitting down at the table beside Yoongi. Even so, Yoongi noticed that Taehyung’s eyes never quite stopped roaming the interiors of the café and he smiled to himself, glad to see that he was right in thinking that Taehyung would enjoy the place.

“Are you two ready to order?” Mr. Sangmin asked, approaching their table.

“Just the usual for me,” Yoongi said.

“One americano and one vegetable sandwich,” Mr. Sangmin nodded.

“Any recommendations?” Taehyung asked, looking up at Yoongi.

“The cinnamon-spiced hot chocolate here is really good. I tried it once,” Yoongi said.

“I’ll have that one then,” Taehyung told Mr. Sangmin. “And the berries cheesecake.”

“Hey, it’s lunchtime. Eat proper food too,” Yoongi nagged.

“Fine, I’ll have the same sandwich as his then,” Taehyung added.

“Alright, please wait a few minutes for your order to be completed,” Mr. Sangmin bowed once before leaving Yoongi and Taehyung alone.

“I can kind of see why you like this place,” Taehyung said, looking around the place again. “There aren’t too many people inside and the designs and art are nice to look at when you some time to think. Not to mention the fact that this probably looks like the inside of your wardrobe,” he added, grinning.

“Hey, I did a wardrobe change today,” Yoongi said, gesturing at his sweater.

“I noticed,” Taehyung chuckled. “It looks good on you. But you know, I bet you could pull off pastel colors too.”

“That will be the day when you decide to wear a plain t-shirt and jeans outside,” Yoongi rolled his eyes.

“I’m willing to make a trade,” Taehyung raised an eyebrow.

“In your dreams, Kim Taehyung.”

“Your drinks,” Mr. Sangmin said, appearing with his tray. “One americano and one cinnamon-spiced hot chocolate.” He laid down two steaming mugs in front of them. “The sandwiches will be ready in a few minutes,” he added before leaving.

“Wow, this smells amazing,” Taehyung said, leaning over to sniff his hot chocolate.

“It tastes amazing too,” Yoongi added, blowing on his coffee before taking a sip. “I tried it once for a bit of a sugar rush and it really hit the spot.”

“Hey! We should take a picture together,” Taehyung exclaimed, pulling out his phone. “And we’re against the pretty art against the wall too so it’s perfect!”

“I’m not much of a social media person,” Yoongi backed away slightly. “And you probably have a million followers on Instagram or Twitter or whatever so…”

“I’m not posting this,” Taehyung shook his head. “I just want to keep it for myself and look back on it.” Yoongi paused for a while, considering this, before taking out his phone as well.

“In that case, I want a picture too,” he said. Taehyung grinned and held out his phone with the camera ready. Yoongi leaned in slightly towards Taehyung and smiled as he took the picture.

“Want me to do yours?” Taehyung offered. Yoongi nodded and handed him his phone before they took a picture again. This time, Taehyung made a funny face so Yoongi decided to join in and flash his signature gummy smile.

“Aww, I kind of want this picture more,” Taehyung pouted as he looked at the image on Yoongi’s phone.

“No problem, I’ll send it to you later,” Yoongi said and resumed drinking his coffee.

“Really?” Taehyung grinned excitedly.

“Sure,” Yoongi nodded, looking at the picture again on his phone. He never really took selfies but maybe he wouldn’t mind so much if it was with him and Taehyung.

Their sandwiches arrived a few minutes later, along with the berries cheesecake that Taehyung more than willingly shared with Yoongi. A few people came and went in the café but none that seemed to recognize who he or Gamer V was. Taehyung was thankful for that, he didn’t quite want anyone interrupting them.

“So, one more week until you get to remove the bandages,” Taehyung said. Both of their drinks, and the refills they ordered to pass the time, were long gone. It was mid-afternoon and only two middle school students were in the café.

“Yeah,” Yoongi nodded, running a finger lightly over the bandaged portion of his hand. “I think I’ve forgotten how to eat and dress up with both hands now,” he joked.

“I’ll kind of miss being able to just come and go in your apartment,” Taehyung sighed. “It’s nice seeing a place that is a lot less messy than mine.” Yoongi smiled at the joke and Taehyung felt as if the floor was falling beneath them again. ‘And I’ll miss spending more time with you,’ he thought. He would miss those times when Yoongi chose not to leave the kitchen or the laundry room when Taehyung was busy taking care of things and the meaningless, casual conversations they shared together.

“You can still drop by of course,” Yoongi said, looking up at him. “After everything you’ve done for me, you’re more than welcome to come over. If you’re not busy of course.” He paused and his gaze turned down at the table. “I know I won’t be busy any time soon.”

“You still don’t feel like playing the piano?” Taehyung asked. For a second, Yoongi glanced at the black piano against the wall right beside them.

“Not exactly,” Yoongi shook his head. “It feels like I’m waiting for it to call for me.” He looked up at Taehyung and blushed slightly. “Sorry, that sounded like a dumb way to say it.”

“I say dumber things all the time,” Taehyung waved it off. “But I guess, take all the time you need. I mean, you do need a break after all those years of attending competitions.”

“These breaks make me feel restless though,” Yoongi bit his lip. He glanced up at Taehyung before standing up. “Excuse me, I just need to use the restroom.”

“Sure,” Taehyung nodded, moving aside to let Yoongi pass through. While waiting, Taehyung played with the empty sugar packets that Yoongi used for his americano, slowly ripping them into smaller pieces and sprinkling them on the table. Suddenly, he heard the sound of piano playing and looked up to find the two middle-school girls sitting on the piano bench. One of them, a girl with long hair in a ponytail, seemed to be trying to remember a piece by playing it a bit slowly. Taehyung smiled when he heard it, especially now that he knew the name of the piece: ‘Nuvole Bianche’, the first piece he heard Min Yoongi play.

“Man, I can’t figure out what this next part is,” one of the students sighed, taking her hands off the piano.

“I’ve heard this piece before,” Taehyung said helpfully. The two students turned around and he smiled to show he was friendly. “It goes like this…” He hummed the next few parts of the melody.

“Oh, that makes sense,” said the girl playing as her fingers found the right keys to press.

“Do you like classical music too?” her friend, a girl with long pigtails, asked.

“Not exactly, but I have a friend who’s amazing at piano,” Taehyung grinned. “He plays classical piano and he’s a genius at it! He can pretty much play that entire piece perfectly,” he boasted just as Yoongi left the bathroom. “Oh! There he is!” Taehyung pointed at him and waved.

“What’s going on?” Yoongi frowned in confusion.

“I was telling these two girls here about how good you are at piano,” Taehyung explained.

“Oh,” Yoongi rubbed the back of his head embarrassedly. “I’m pretty good… I guess.”

“What happened to your hand, mister?” the girl with pigtails asked, pointing at Yoongi’s bandaged hand.

“Oh, this?” Yoongi held it up. “It’s just an accident.”

“Can you play something for us?” the ponytailed girl asked, looking up at him with a smile on her face.

“Maybe next time,” Taehyung said hurriedly, coming in to Yoongi’s rescue. “He can’t exactly play with his right hand yet.” But, to his surprise, Yoongi gave a small nod of his head.

“I can use my left…” he said, almost silently. The two girls left the piano bench to let Yoongi sit down. Carefully, he stretched out the fingers of his left hand before resting them lightly on the keys. There was a strange look on Yoongi’s face: a mixture of hesitation and willingness, as if he was daring himself to jump off a cliff. Taehyung chose to step back and watch what he was going to do next.

Gently, Yoongi played the starting notes of a simple melody. Even after not playing for two weeks, he didn’t sound rusty or out of practice.

“That doesn’t sound like ‘Nuvole Bianche,’” the ponytailed girl said. Yoongi didn’t mind her and kept on playing.

“It isn’t,” Taehyung shook his head. Yoongi only had his left hand to play, but the music that came out of the piano sounded beautiful and whole and complete. And, since he dared to think about it, Taehyung felt that he liked how he played now compared to the countless times he’s heard him practice before. And he knew why: because now, he could feel Yoongi’s emotion running through the music.

After Yoongi finished playing, Taehyung saw the two employees behind the café counter smile and clap their hands. Even the two middle-school girls they were with clapped. Yoongi smiled and bowed at all of them before finally turning around to face Taehyung. A beat of silence passed between the two of them and Taehyung felt as if the floor was falling underneath them again. Yoongi played for barely a minute or two but it felt as if everything he felt about music was condensed into a simple piece, and Taehyung couldn’t be any prouder. In front of him, he saw Yoongi’s left fingers tapping against his leg, as if playing some invisible piano.

“I know it’s a bit early…” Taehyung started to speak. “But do you want to head home already?” A small smile appeared on Yoongi’s face at Taehyung’s suggestion.

“I do have some work to do.”

A week later, Yoongi’s fingers were finally healed and the bandages removed. Taehyung practically held his breath the entire time in anticipation when he watched the doctor double-check the state of Yoongi’s fingers. When he was finally deemed okay, Taehyung felt as if he was the more excited one between the two of them.

Since then, the piano playing heard from Yoongi’s apartment barely stopped. Of course, Yoongi still followed their designated schedule and stopped playing whenever it was Taehyung’s time to record. But now, Taehyung didn’t actually mind the music coming from the apartment across him. Instead of hearing the same piece being played again and again, now he heard a number of different ones played every day. Some, based on the sound of Yoongi playing the same phrases again and again, sounded like compositions in progress. And even though Taehyung knew Yoongi was well enough now to do cook food and everything else for himself, he couldn’t help but stop by once in a while to make sure Yoongi still ate something in between his bursts of distracted creativity.

Amidst all that, Taehyung realized he was only falling harder for Min Yoongi, the man who was growing to be one of the most hardworking, and passionate people he’s ever met.

“Why don’t you just ask him out already?” Jungkook asked, not looking up as he moved his game piece further along the board. It was a Friday night, and therefore, Board Game Night for the two of them, plus Park Jimin of course.

“You really think so?” Taehyung sighed, his eyes not quite leaving the sight of Jimin and Jungkook’s intertwined hands. He wasn’t jealous, just hopeful that maybe he would get to do that Yoongi. The genius pianist did have very beautiful hands.

“Based on what you’ve been saying, I really do think that Yoongi-hyung likes you,” Jimin said. He wasn’t as invested in the board game as Jungkook was and seemed very set on helping Taehyung gain the confidence to somehow ask Yoongi out. “He’s never invited anyone to that ‘Cityscape’ café before. Inviting you to a place dear to him, a place he hasn’t even shown his friends, sure sounds like a sign. Don’t you think so, Jungkook?”

“And now I’m twenty-five points ahead!” Jungkook grinned enthusiastically, taking a bunch of energy tokens and adding it to his stash. Taehyung and Jimin both rolled their eyes at his ‘helpfulness.’

“Well, if you put it that way… it does kind of sound like a sign,” Taehyung muttered thoughtfully. “But what if he just did it to show me to a good place and everything?”

“Yoongi-hyung usually doesn’t have surface-level motives for things,” Jimin explained. “He didn’t invite you just for that. He probably thought you would really like the place, thus meaning that he thought a lot about whether you would like it or not.”

“And after all you’ve done for him, I think he’s bound to have some feelings for you,” Jungkook added.

“So you have been listening to the discussion,” Taehyung said.

“If I were you, I’ll just ask him out,” Jungkook shrugged. “I mean, it worked for me.”

“It worked out very well,” Jimin smiled, resting his chin on Jungkook’s shoulder.

“Aish, you guys are so sweet,” Taehyung giggled at the two of them.

“Great, it should motivate you to ask Yoongi-hyung out,” Jimin nodded. Taehyung smiled and sighed.

“You know, it kind of is.”

‘Maybe he’s not coming tonight,’ Yoongi thought with a sigh as he looked up at the wall clock for what was probably the fifteenth time that evening. He glanced down at the piece of sheet music with the new composition he was working on and then up at the door and then back at his work. Finally, he groaned and mussed up his hair with frustration. This was driving him beyond crazy.

Even after Yoongi got his bandages removed, Taehyung would still come to check on him to make sure he ate. Yoongi did tell him he didn’t mind that his coming over and would sometimes even cook dinner in advance just so Taehyung had less to do and worry about. Working on new compositions did preoccupy most of Yoongi’s thinking time but whenever Taehyung was around, he didn’t quite want him to leave so soon.

But it was kind of funny when Yoongi stopped to think about it. He used to get so into his playing that the whole world kind of melted around him. Of course, that was before he had to force himself onto piano competitions instead of playing for himself. Now, Yoongi did have the chance to play for himself, but why did he still feel so rooted in reality? Or more specifically, why couldn’t he keep his mind from thinking about the person living in front of his apartment?

“Stop worrying so much, he has a life of his own too, remember?” Yoongi reminded himself out loud and stretched his fingers over the keyboard to resume playing again.

Still, it wasn’t as much of an inconvenience as he thought it was. Sure, Yoongi did stop playing from time to time to wonder about what Taehyung was up to, but now, it felt easier for him to pull melodies out of thin air. The music sheet in front of him still filled up with notes and his own scribbled annotations here and there.

‘It’s just like that time in the cafe…’ he thought, remembering that sensation of hearing music from nowhere and somehow managing to play it exactly how he heard it. And even though Yoongi had his back to him, he could feel how closely Taehyung watched him.

‘I knew it, he is busy,’ Taehyung thought, backing away from the door as soon as he heard Yoongi playing again. Jungkook and Jimin had already gone home but their advice did quite stick in Taehyung’s head, enough for him to pluck up the courage to finally ask Yoongi out himself. But it was quite late and Yoongi seemed to be busy working on his music and…

“No!” Taehyung said aloud in the empty hallway. “You’re just making excuses for yourself,” he muttered. Even so, Yoongi did have a weird pattern today of playing, then stopping for a good while, before playing again. ‘That must be some composition,’ he thought.

Eventually, the cycle of silence and piano playing made Taehyung restless and antsy enough to finally knock on the door when he heard Yoongi stop. And, to his surprise, the door open only a few seconds later.

“Taehyung,” Yoongi greeted simply. He opened his mouth, seemingly considering what else to say, before finally ending up with “Want to come inside?”

“Uh, no thanks. I just ate dinner actually,” Taehyung hurriedly shook his head. Yoongi’s face looked slightly disappointed thus causing Taehyung to hurry with what he was going to say next. “I-I wanted to ask you out, actually,” he finally stammered.

“Out?” Yoongi repeated. The expression of disappointment on his face was replaced with a look of surprise which Taehyung took as a sign to continue.

But of course, all his nervous wreck of a mind could come up with was “Date?”

Now, confusion replaced the look of surprise on Yoongi’s face. “You want me to give a date for when we’ll go out?” he clarified. Taehyung bit his lip.

“No… I want to ask you out… on a date…” he said slowly, feeling his consciousness walking a few steps towards the point of no return. He couldn’t even focus on the expression on Yoongi’s face until finally, after what seemed like centuries, he finally heard him speak.

“Sure.”

“…Sure?” Taehyung repeated. He could tell that his mouth was open and his eyes were wide and he was making that stupid, surprised expression on his face again but damn, he just couldn’t make himself do anything else except stare at the shy smile on Yoongi’s face.

“You said ‘date’, right?” Yoongi clarified.

“Yeah,” Taehyung nodded, trying to calm the stupid storm of expressions on his face.

“I guess this is going to be my first then,” Yoongi said, nodding slowly. Unlike before, Taehyung could hardly tell what he was thinking.

“I’ll pick you up at six on Monday. Is that okay?” he asked.

“I’ll be there,” Yoongi nodded again.

“Great,” Taehyung breathed out a sigh of relief. “Th-that’s all. Please go back to what you were doing.”

“Well, good night then,” Yoongi said. Taehyung backed away and waited for Yoongi to close the door before dancing alone in the hallway, punching the air, and grinning like the stupid, whipped idiot he was before finally going back into his apartment. Maybe it was only him who felt really excited about this date but at the moment, Taehyung didn’t quite care. He was going on a date with Min Yoongi, and he was going to do everything he could to win him over.

Little did he know, the genius pianist Min Yoongi had sunk down to the floor right after closing the door, with his hands covering his heated, blushing face and the stupid, excited grin on his lips.

Yoongi thought he couldn’t get more excited than how he felt quickly after Kim Taehyung asked him out. The first time he said ‘date’, Yoongi thought it was way too good to be true. But after all that was clarified soon after, Yoongi could barely keep it together, let alone control his expressions. And above all that, he felt overwhelmed at everything that was going on and everything that he could only predict what would happen soon. It felt as if a thousand symphonies were playing all at once when Yoongi was struggling to just listen to one.

All of this was just so new. Amazing, but also strange and foreign. Yoongi didn’t quite know what to feel.

“First things first,” he told himself, breathing out slowly. He was still sitting down on the floor with his back leaning against the front door. “You can do this step-by-step, like starting a piece.” Right now, he’ll try to let things go smoothly and at the end of it, Yoongi trusted himself to have figured out everything he needed to figure out.

Since he was going on an actual, official date, his first date as a matter of fact, Yoongi finally decided to go out and buy something to wear. At first, it felt strange seeing himself in the mirror wearing a minty, light-blue sweater and beige pants. But after a while, Yoongi realized that he didn’t look that bad in lighter colors. Of course, he still didn’t quite feel complete until he put on a black coat over it.

Taehyung didn’t quite say where they were going to go, meaning he was probably going to surprise Yoongi with it. That meant all he could do was wait for him to arrive.

Sweat beaded on his palms while Yoongi waited in his living room for Taehyung to come. He felt more nervous now than he did before his turn during piano competitions. A mixture of different emotions and imaginings stirred inside his stomach. Yoongi expected the chaos inside him to reach a breaking point very, very soon. But somehow, when he finally heard a knock on the door, everything calmed down.

Yoongi felt a smile stretch across his face. It was Taehyung, after all.

“Hey,” Taehyung greeted as soon as Yoongi opened the door. Then, he couldn’t help but let a grin stretch through his face. Yoongi, after all, wasn’t wearing his usual black-and-white but instead a pastel, pale blue sweater with beige pants. There was still a black coat on him but it did tie the look quite well.

For a minute, all of Taehyung’s words stayed caught up in his throat. But then, he reminded himself that this was a date, and the end goal was to somehow confess to Yoongi or at least learn how he feels about him. With that in mind, he allowed himself to say “You look great.”

“Y-You think so?” Yoongi stammered. “You look, surprisingly normal…” he said, eyeing Taehyung’s current outfit which consisted of a long-sleeved, white, button-up shirt, simple blue jeans, and a dark gray blazer on top.

“Thanks, I thought about taking it easy a bit for today,” Taehyung lied. In actuality, he was too nervous and excited to even plan an outfit for their date that he just grabbed a couple of things that went together.

“Speaking of which, where are we going anyway?” Yoongi cocked his head.

“Actually,” Taehyung felt an embarrassed grin spread on his face. “I kind of selfishly chose my dream date place: the theme park. But if you’d rather go somewhere else I’m okay with it too.” Just in case, Taehyung knew a few restaurants that he thought Yoongi would like.

To his surprise, Yoongi shook his head.

“I’m okay with a theme park,” he said. “In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been to one before.”

“Never? In your entire life?” Taehyung looked at him incredulously.

“No,” Yoongi smiled and shook his head. “So you better show me the time of my life.”

“Alright, I promise you will have the time of your life,” Taehyung grinned, holding out his pinky. Yoongi raised an eyebrow.

“Really? Pinky swear?”

“It’s the most unwavering promise you can make,” Taehyung said with mock-seriousness. Still shaking his head, but smiling all the while, Yoongi raised his pinky and intertwined it with Taehyung’s. The image of their intertwined pinkies made Taehyung struggle to suppress a squeal.

“Satisfied?” Yoongi said, taking his hand back. ‘Not even close,’ Taehyung thought.

“Let’s make this date happen.”

One bus ride later, Taehyung and Yoongi found themselves in the nearest theme park within the city. It wasn’t that huge, nor was it very populated, something both Yoongi and Taehyung benefitted from, but it did have all the necessities of a theme park. Rides, unhealthy junk food, and best of all, game booths. Taehyung knew right away which places he wanted to check out but he waited and walked with Yoongi patiently while he took everything in.

“So, any place you want to check out?” Taehyung ventured. Yoongi looked around until he pointed at a stall with a grin on his face.

“That one.”

Taehyung turned around to find a game booth where a ball game was being played. The players were given three baseballs which they had to throw at a stack of cans to topple the structure over. Prizes like animal plushies, dolls, and other toys hung from the ceiling of the stall.

“You just read my mind,” Taehyung grinned at Yoongi who smiled back excitedly. The two of them rushed over to the stall and paid the fee to play.

“Do your basketball aiming skills still work?” Taehyung raised an eyebrow and tossed a baseball in his hand.

“Don’t underestimate a former shooting guard,” Yoongi challenged back before throwing his baseball and completely missing the stack of cans. Taehyung burst out laughing.

“Clearly I shouldn’t,” he nodded, wiping a tear from his eye. Yoongi pouted.

“I doubt you can do any better.”

Taehyung smirked, tossed the ball a few times in the air, before throwing it and hitting the stack of cans right at the bottom. The structure toppled instantly. He looked up to find Yoongi’s mouth hanging open.

“Don’t underestimate the best friend of a high school baseball champion,” Taehyung quipped.

“If that’s the case, how about winning me something?” Yoongi smirked back and crossed his arms. Taehyung didn’t know why, but the sound of Yoongi demanding something from him was kind of… hot.

“How much for that one?” Taehyung pointed at the largest plushie , a panda bear one, and asked the man in charge of the stall.

“You have to knock over at least twelve stacks of cans,” he answered.

“That sounds a bit much,” Yoongi sighed. “I wonder if our Gamer V can handle it.”

“You’re really pushing my buttons here,” Taehyung muttered, pulling out some money and placing it on the counter. “Enough for twelve, please.” The employee nodded, sneaking Taehyung a knowing glance and maybe even a hidden thumbs-up for good luck, before placing nine more balls in front of him. Taehyung took one, and, making sure that Yoongi was watching, hit the next stack of cans perfectly. And the next. And the next. Until finally, he handed the huge panda plushie over to Yoongi with a grin on his face.

“Anything else to add?” Taehyung said smugly. “I think this goes well with your closet already.”  Yoongi laughed but took the plushie anyway.

“Chivalry isn’t dead after all,” he nodded.

“It was, as a matter of fact, absorbed by gay gaming Youtubers,” Taehyung pointed out. Yoongi smiled down at the panda plushie and hugged it to his chest.

“What about gay genius pianists?” Yoongi raised an eyebrow and turned around. “Come on, I’ll win you something too,” he said and began walking ahead.

Taehyung felt his last remaining brain cells processing what Yoongi just said for what seemed like an eternity before he finally got his legs to work and walk after him.

“A claw machine?” Taehyung looked at the machine with an incredulous look on his face. “They have these things here?”

“These things immediately caught my eye once we entered,” Yoongi grinned, pressing his free hand against the glass.

“So, you’re going to spend thousands of coins to get me one prize?” Taehyung frowned, tapping at the glass. There were a few claw machines situated by the food booths which had different kinds of prizes. And since Taehyung got him a pretty big plushie, Yoongi chose the one that had different kinds of beanbag pillows.

“Not a thousand,” Yoongi reached into his pocket and pulled out a coin. “One.”

“I see,” Taehyung nodded. “Your turn to prove your skills?”

“Exactly,” Yoongi grinned and put the coin into the machine. Eyeing the fox-shaped beanbag pillow by the corner, Yoongi manipulated the joystick to move the claw until it was right over the target before moving it a little to the left. It was a trick he learned whenever he was in the mall to kill time before a competition. Once, out of boredom, he emptied an entire machine of plushies. He didn’t really know what to do with them so he gave them all over to Hoseok to give away to his high school students.

“No way,” Taehyung gazed with his mouth open at the claw once it picked up the plushie and carried it over to the chute. Yoongi grinned and took the fox beanbag before presenting it to Taehyung with a grand gesture. The look on his face was priceless, especially after Yoongi spent the entire past half hour watching with awe as Taehyung hit twelve stacks of cans. Yoongi was definite Taehyung was showing off, but that didn’t mean he didn’t enjoy watching the spectacle.

“Now you have a furry friend,” Yoongi grinned.

“Very funny,” Taehyung rolled his eyes. “How did you do that though?”

“Mad skills,” Yoongi smirked. “So, I guess we’re even now.”

“Don’t think of it as that,” Taehyung hugged the beanbag pillow to his chest. “We’re on a date, remember? People do things like this.”

“Right, of course,” Yoongi felt his face flush as he clutched his new panda plushie even tighter. He could sense that his dam of messed-up emotions of feelings was close to breaking. Yoongi didn’t think he was even close to figuring out how he was feeling.

But there was one thing he knew: he never thought he’d find himself on a date, in a theme park of all places. Normally, he’d feel a bit uncomfortable being around quite a number of strangers. Strangely, he felt as if it was only him and Taehyung around.

And a tangled ball of feelings he was slowly starting to unravel.

“Man, I think the rice cakes I just ate flipped over three times on that ride,” Taehyung groaned once he and Yoongi got off the rollercoaster.

“Make it five times,” Yoongi added, stepping out of the ride. He felt himself stumble slightly before Taehyung wrapped an arm around his shoulder to steady him. “Th-thanks,” he stammered and righted himself.

“So, what do you want to get on next?” Taehyung asked.

“Maybe something that involves less spinning and moving and being jumbled around,” Yoongi said, patting his messy hair down a bit. He and Taehyung both agreed to go on as many rides as they could before the night ended. Of course, that pretty much led to them screaming their heads off for the entire night.

“Hey, how about that?” Taehyung pointed in the direction of the Ferris wheel. “It does involve spinning but it looks pretty slow.”

“Sounds good,” Yoongi agreed.

“It’s a good way to end tonight too,” Taehyung added, smiling at Yoongi.

“Right,” he nodded slowly. Now that he mentioned it, Yoongi found himself checking his watch. It was almost ten o’ clock. Hours had passed by since they entered the theme park but it felt as if the whole night was rushing in to end already. And Yoongi definitely wanted to pause for a while.

But before he knew it, Taehyung was already pulling him in the direction of the Ferris wheel. Yoongi found himself unable to speak or pay attention to anything at all except for the warmth of Taehyung’s hand in his and the sound of his voice. He was talking about something, a childhood memory maybe. Although, even his voice sounded distant and muffled.

Yoongi felt his thoughts and feelings unravelling even faster as the night drew to a close. The flow of events he was stuck in resembled a symphony which was now in its climax. He could practically hear the instruments playing at top performance level. The outro was approaching, but Yoongi still had no idea what the melody was.

And then, Taehyung led him inside one of the carriages in the Ferris wheel and Yoongi was pulled back to reality. Taehyung sat in front of him with his fox beanbag pillow on his lap.

“So, this must be your first time on a Ferris wheel too,” he said. Yoongi leaned back, trying to make himself a bit comfortable as the Ferris wheel began to spin.

“It is,” he nodded. Taehyung looked out the window.

“I really love the view outside of Ferris wheels like this,” he grinned, leaning his head against the window. “It’s nice seeing all the city lights and the stars too. In rollercoasters you never really get to appreciate the view.”

Yoongi forced himself to relax and looked out the window as well. Taehyung was right, the view from the top was amazing. Slowly, he felt himself unwind just a bit more.

“You know what this reminds me of?” Yoongi looked at Taehyung.

“That café?” Taehyung asked.

“The maintenance closet,” Yoongi grinned at the memory.

“Why the maintenance closet of all places?” Taehyung laughed.

“I guess since we’re together in an enclosed space,” Yoongi shrugged. “But I guess we’re beyond the ‘annoying neighbors’ level by now.”

“We can still go back to that, if you want,” Taehyung raised an eyebrow.

“No thanks,” Yoongi smiled and shook his head. “I… I like where we are now.”

“You know, you are one of the few people I’ve met personally who hasn’t disrespected me for being what I am,” Taehyung smiled. Yoongi felt his breath catch in his throat. “I know it sounds stupid but it means a lot.”

“You’ve got to stop thinking that the things you say sound stupid,” Yoongi shook his head. “But, you’re welcome. You’ve done quite a lot for me too."

“It’s just a couple of chores,” Taehyung waved him off. “I need to learn those things anyway.”

Yoongi shook his head. “It was more than that.”

Maybe riding all those theme park rides jiggled Yoongi’s brain in the right way because somehow, he started seeing things. The enclosed space around him and Taehyung melted away and reformed itself into how his apartment looked. There was Yoongi on the piano, trying to play with a broken hand and a broken dream, and there was Taehyung right in front of him, trying his best to mend the broken pieces together.

And when Yoongi did the very thing he did least, asking for help, Taehyung didn’t hesitate and took him into his arms. Yoongi remember being so afraid before of the pressure and the expectations and the possibility of never loving music like he would again. But instead of forcing him into things like his family did, Taehyung reminded him it was okay to feel that way. Yoongi was only human after all.

Only a knot remained in his tangled ball of feelings, and now Yoongi was tugging it loose. The outro to the entire symphony of their night was right on the bottom of his fingertips.

“What do you mean?” Taehyung asked. Yoongi looked up at him, wondering how everything, from his childhood to the terrible night of the gala to his lost love for the piano, somehow led to Taehyung causing him to hear music again.

And eventually, for him to finally say:

“I’m in love with you, Kim Taehyung.”

Taehyung could care less if the Ferris wheel detached from its stand on the ground and started rolling across the theme park. Yoongi was looking him dead in the eye with the most earnest expression on his face and a slight flush on his face which Taehyung now realized was probably from something other than the cold.

He had practiced what to say when he confessed to Yoongi for days but somehow, all of that disappeared.

And somehow, he found himself bursting into tears.

“W-wait, why are you crying?” Yoongi stammered in surprise. “Did I do something wrong?”

“No,” Taehyung sniffed and wiped his eyes before managing a smile. “I just… really thought it was going to be a one-sided thing.”

“Does that mean..?” Now it was Yoongi’s turn to look shocked. “You—”

“I’m very, very in love with you, you stupid annoying old turtle,” Taehyung nodded his head, laughing as he wiped a few more tears from his eyes. God, he probably looked like a mess right now.

“You’re lucky I love you enough to let you use that stupid nickname,” Yoongi laughed.

“How did we even get here?” Taehyung shook his head. “Weeks ago, we were practically each other’s chaos next-door.”

“I guess now you’re my chaos next-door,” Yoongi grinned. Taehyung flushed as he stared at his lips.

“Can you please kiss me?” he asked, or rather, begged. “I don’t think I can handle another minute of this.”

Yoongi’s adorable, shy, embarrassed smile appeared again making Taehyung inch forward to be closer to him. “I better not keep you waiting then,” Yoongi said softly, reaching a hand out and running his thumb across Taehyung’s lower lip.

“God, you really have to be such a tease about this,” Taehyung rolled his eyes. Yoongi let out a breathy laugh, making Taehyung finally give in and kiss him first.

And it’s unlike anything he’s ever imagined. There was that sudden spike of adrenaline Taehyung normally felt whenever he played a really good horror game. And then the feeling of Yoongi’s lips on his cut through all of that, bringing a sense of comfort and human warmth. Yoongi’s fingers were resting on his forearm, playing his invisible piano again. Taehyung felt himself smile slightly as he kissed Yoongi, imagining what kind of melody he was playing in his head.

Jungkook said his rollercoaster kiss with Jimin was quite thrilling, but with the lights of the city spread out below them and the stars above them, Taehyung could easily see that Ferris wheel kisses were just as great.

“Tan tan tan tan tan… TA! Tan tan tan tan tan… TA!” Taehyung sang loudly as he strolled into the bedroom. Yoongi groaned at the sound and pulled his blankets way over his head. Sleeping over at Taehyung’s apartments did have its perks, mainly getting to cuddle with his very affectionate boyfriend or making sure he got appropriate hours of sleep in between making videos. A downside to that though was happening at the moment.

“Yoongi! Wake up!!” Taehyung yelled, lying down on his bed next to Yoongi. Then, Taehyung proceeded to remove his blanket and plant kisses all over his face while saying “Wake up!” in between. Yoongi couldn’t help but bury his face in Taehyung’s shirt. Okay, maybe this wasn’t such a downside after all.

“Alright, I’m awake,” he grumbled.

“Are you really?” Taehyung chuckled, wrapping one of his very long legs around him.

“Well, it is kind of hard to sleep in this situation,” Yoongi gazed up at Taehyung.

“You’re way too sassy this morning,” Taehyung smiled down at him. Yoongi could tell that he slept well since there weren’t any dark circles under his eyes and his voice wasn’t hoarse either. Not that Yoongi entirely hated the sound of his slightly hoarse and sleepy voice in the morning.

“Those face masks really worked, huh?” he said, stroking the side of Taehyung’s very smooth cheek.

“Yeah, they really are good,” Taehyung said. “Even if they did look kind of stupid.”

“I never thought someone would even think of making an elephant-shaped face mask,” Yoongi muttered. Taehyung bought some yesterday from the store because he said it looked funny. When they tried it on last night, Taehyung had to sit facing away from him since he kept on laughing when he saw the face mask on Yoongi. That didn’t stop them from taking a few selfies though.

“Come on, you better get up,” Taehyung nudged him. “Jimin and Jungkook are already here for the video.”

“Right, the video,” Yoongi nodded and finally sat up. He yawned and rubbed his eyes a bit first before following Taehyung out the door.

“Oh good, they’re wearing clothes,” Jungkook sighed out of relief. He and Jimin were in the kitchen busy making pancakes. Yoongi could easily tell from the stack of perfect-looking pancakes to the stack of semi perfect-looking pancakes to the stack of amoeba-shaped pancakes which ones were made by Jungkook, Jimin, and Taehyung. Smiling to himself, Yoongi grabbed a plate and placed two amoeba pancakes on it.

“Shut up, we’ve only been together for a week,” Taehyung blushed and sat down by the counter.

“Yeah, don’t be so perverted,” Jimin nudged Jungkook.

“You’re the one who mentioned it!” he protested.

“So, you have everything we need for the video?” Yoongi asked Taehyung.

“Yup!” he nodded. “Bleaching kit, gloves, hair dye, brushes, combs, the works.”

“And you’re sure Jungkook and Jimin know what they’re doing,” Yoongi added.

“Very,” Taehyung smiled reassuringly. “I can’t wait to see how your hair will look later,” he gushed.

“I must really love you a lot,” Yoongi shook his head, smiling nonetheless before eating a forkful of amoeba pancake. It didn’t taste too bad.

Two hours later, he was sitting in the middle of Taehyung’s living room wearing one of his old, black t-shirts. Jungkook and Jimin busied themselves with putting on their gloves and preparing the bleach while Taehyung was fiddling with his video camera.

“Are you doing the intro already?” Yoongi asked.

“Yeah,” Taehyung nodded, stepping away from the camera. “Just stay there and be your usual adorable self,” he grinned at Yoongi who rolled his eyes but did a flower cup pose anyway.

“Perfect!” Taehyung exclaimed. He switched on the video camera. “Recording in 3… 2…1! Hello everyone! My name is Gamer V and welcome to another video wherein today, me and my boyfriend are going to have our hair dyed.”

Yoongi felt his face flush slightly at the sound of the word ‘boyfriend’ but waved hello anyway at the camera while Taehyung did his intro. After they got together, Taehyung said that he really wanted his subscribers and fans to know about is relationship. Yoongi understood. In a way, Taehyung’s subscribers were like his family as well since they got him to where he was now. Yoongi did feel a bit scared that Taehyung would receive too much backlash for having a boyfriend but so far, with the exception of some haters, his subscribers were happy about how open he was.

Yoongi found himself loving the Gamer V fan community as well, especially after all the cute fanart they did of him and Taehyung. When Taehyung posted a short video of Yoongi playing the piano on Instagram, his followers loved it. Yoongi almost cried because of all the nice comments. Right now, he was still trying to establish himself in the music world with his compositions after a life of only joining competitions. But Yoongi wasn’t in a rush, he knew he was going to get there somehow.

“Now, what color did you choose for your hair, Yoongi?” Taehyung asked, pointing the video camera at him.

“Mint green,” Yoongi answered. “It goes with my fresh personality,” he added with a slight smirk in Taehyung’s direction.

“Yeah right,” Taehyung rolled his eyes. “Well, let’s hope that Yoongi isn’t bald by the end of the video.”

“I do love my hair,” Yoongi said.

“And… cut!” Taehyung turned off the camera and repositioned it so that it was near Yoongi. Now that he had a closer look at the process of making videos, Yoongi couldn’t help but be amazed at how meticulous and technical Taehyung was with some of his camera work. Taehyung was biting his lip, concentrating deeply on getting the right angle, and Yoongi patiently waited for him to finish.

“Okay, we have the bleaching stuff mixed and ready,” Jimin said.

“It’s now or never,” Yoongi exhaled. He was personally quite excited to get his hair dyed. It used to be something he had on his bucket list but thought he’d never get to do. Seokjin and Hoseok would probably flip if they saw it.

“Thanks again for doing this,” Taehyung smiled at him.

“Are you kidding? I haven’t had this much fun in forever,” Yoongi chuckled.

“When we’re done, let’s go to ‘Cityscape’ again. My treat,” Taehyung winked.

“I’ll have your word on that,” Yoongi smiled.

What happens when a famous Gamer/Youtuber moves into the apartment in front of a nationally-renowned genius pianist?

Well, a lot of bickering and name-calling in the beginning. A bit of self-discovery towards the middle. And maybe, if the circumstances fell into place the right way, the two would fall in love.

Yoongi smiled as he watched Taehyung fuss over the positioning of the camera and where Jimin and Jungkook were supposed to be situated. He could already imagine how his own minty green hair and Taehyung’s peach-colored hair would look later. Of course, Yoongi had the freedom to imagine their future beyond what was happening in the present. But with Taehyung, he could never really be sure. And Yoongi loved it.

Even after all the bickering and name-calling, the self-discovery, and the falling in love, Yoongi knew there was still going to be chaos.

Pure, utter, beautiful, chaos.