Min Yoongi is not a photographer.
To be fair, he’s not terrible at it. He’s definitely not the worst in his class—FAPH109a: Intro to Digital & Film Photography is one of the required art electives, so 80% of the students taking it, including Yoongi, are not actually interested in photography and are only here because they have to be. Of that 80%, half are not trying at all and half are trying way too hard. If Yoongi has to look at one more badly composed black-and-white photo of a flower, or a photo of someone’s bougie dinner with an Instagram filter slapped over it, he’s going to scream.
So he’s not the worst. But he’s also far from the best.
The best is Kim Taehyung.
Taehyung is one of like, three people in the class who are actually majoring in photography. And he’s just—really, really good at it. Yoongi knows fuck-all about photography or visual art in general, but even he can tell that Taehyung is operating on an entirely different level than everyone else in the class. Even though most of their assignments are kind of stupid (Take 10 photos from the point of view of a child! Choose an inanimate object and bring it to life with your camera!) Taehyung manages to turn every single assignment into art. Like real art, art that makes you feel something. For the inanimate object study, Taehyung worked some black magic with his camera that had Yoongi emotionally affected by a photo of a bench.
It’s impressive. It’s kind of really cool.
Maybe Yoongi would tell Taehyung that, if it weren’t for one tiny problem:
In addition to being a really good photographer, Kim Taehyung is also the most beautiful person Yoongi has ever seen in his miserable little life. Taehyung is so attractive that it’s bordering on disgusting. He’s one of those people that probably get random strangers stopping them on the street to ask if they’re a model or a celebrity. And Taehyung really could be a model—even under the ugly fluorescent lights of the classroom, lights that are not flattering on anyone and exist solely to highlight every imperfection, Taehyung is just fucking flawless. Frankly, it’s offensive. Yoongi is offended by it. Taehyung is tall and lanky and gorgeous and has this mouth and these big dark eyes and big, pretty hands, and he’s got longish 70s hair that shouldn’t look good on anybody but of course looks incredible on him, and it’s just not fair. Yoongi shouldn’t have to put up with this every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from ten to eleven-thirty a.m. He’s a good person, dammit. Or at least a decent one.
yoongi >> group chat: “jinnie and the dynamos”
Lol I was waiting for this
Yoongi’s tri-weekly midmorning meltdown
It’s like clockwork
hyung can i go ahead and assume you’re just being a disaster gay and you don’t actually need help with anything? can i go back to sleep now?
i’m gonna go back to sleep now.
i s2g if this is just you whining about Hot Photography Guy
love having u all as my friends
grateful as always for ur support
What’s he done this time
Is he wearing the lumberjack flannel again
hes just. ugh he’s in this sweater
its so. soft looking? i wanna *** my **** on it
…put your dick on it?
Cum your seed on it
rub my face on it you freaks
¯\_( ツ )_/¯
¯\_( ツ )_/¯
awwwwww babe <3
Omg we’re cute
me: glances at this chat for 2 seconds
me: reconsiders my life and all of my choices
Yoongi glances up from his laptop to catch Taehyung staring at him.
This is something that happens not infrequently, and it makes Yoongi extremely uncomfortable every single time. The only reason someone as hot as Taehyung would be staring at him is because Yoongi has something on his face, accidentally came to class in his Kumamon pajamas, or just generally looks like a disgusting gremlin and Taehyung is mocking him for it. Yoongi’s stomach hurts. He stares right back at Taehyung and widens his eyes, giving Taehyung in the universal What the fuck is your problem? look.
Taehyung looks away immediately.
Serves him right. Just because he’s beautiful and talented doesn’t mean he gets to be an asshole. Just because Yoongi kinda-sorta wants to rub his face all over Taehyung’s fuzzy white sweater doesn’t mean he actually would, because Min Yoongi doesn’t associate with arrogant jerks.
“Thank you, Nayeon,” says the professor. “Really great work this week. Next up…Min Yoongi?”
Yoongi sighs and heads up to the front of the classroom. Nayeon finishes unpinning her latest photos from the wall and Yoongi replaces them with his own: six blown-up shots from the International Women’s Day March last Saturday. He’s actually pretty proud of them. The first three photos are crowd shots: a sea of women, some in masks and some barefaced, mouths open mid-shout, protest signs raised above their heads. The second three photos are of Yoongi’s friends: Namjoon holding up a #MeToo sign; Hoseok staring wild-eyed but determined at a counter-protester; Suran sitting on Seokjin’s shoulders, yelling into a megaphone, blood-red lipstick and long black hair.
The assignment of the week was about passion, so.
“Um,” Yoongi says, standing to the side. He is very aware of the entire class looking at him. “Um, these are from the march. Those are my friends in the last ones. They’re all really, uh…passionate.”
His classmates give him a couple really nice compliments and a bit of constructive criticism, and then the professor analyzes his “artistic choices” for a while. Yoongi tries to pay attention, he really does, but all he can focus on is the way Taehyung’s staring at him again. Those dark eyes on Yoongi’s face, unwavering.
Min Yoongi is not a photographer, but he’s starting to really like the dark room.
It’s pretty much his ideal space: quiet and windowless and hard to find and no more than three people allowed inside at any given time. Kind of sucks about the red lighting and the chemical smell, but no place is perfect. Yoongi wants to turn his entire apartment into a dark room.
(“You’re already halfway there,” says Jin, rolling his eyes. “You won’t give any of us a spare key. You have blackout curtains. You never host your own parties.”
“Not good enough,” says Yoongi. “Maybe I should move into an underground lair.”
“I’m sure you’d fit right in with the sewer people.”
“Babe!” Hoseok yelps, choking on his coffee. “You told me the sewer people weren’t real!”
“They’re not, babe,” Jin says soothingly. Then he turns to Yoongi and hisses, “Now look what you’ve done.”
Yoongi bangs his head against the table until Namjoon makes him stop.)
Today he’s not in the dark room for an assignment. He’s developing some photos he took a couple weeks ago just for fun, because the lighting was good and he was with his friends and he just—wanted to capture it, wanted to turn the pretty moments into something tangible, something he could turn over in his hands and hold up to the light and say to himself, This happened, I was here for it, I was here.
Or something like that.
He slips a sheet of photo paper into the tray of developing fluid and watches it sink beneath the surface. He’s the only person in here right now. Just him and the wash of red lights, the chemicals, the laundry lines of drying photographs. Yoongi likes it like this.
So of course that’s when the door opens and Kim Taehyung steps into the dark room.
They make eye contact for a split second, just long enough for Yoongi to absorb the fact that Taehyung is wearing perhaps his biggest and softest sweater yet, and then Yoongi turns away, ears burning. God.
It’s quiet for a long time, both of them working silently, moving around the room like north-north magnets, repelling each other. Yoongi can’t help shivering every once in a while, and not just because of Taehyung’s presence—it’s cold in here. He removes his photos from the developer as soon as possible, hands shaking around the tongs.
“Hey,” Taehyung says from right behind him, and Yoongi nearly drops his photos.
“Jesus,” he gasps, whirling around. He’s suddenly very, very close to Taehyung, his eyes level with Taehyung’s chin. “Oh my god, are you a ghost? Are you the Phantom of the Dark Room?”
“I’m sorry!” Taehyung says. “I’m really really sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. People always tell me I’ve got a freakishly light tread and then I always forget. I just—,” he holds out a bundle of something dark and soft. His sweater. He’s in a white T-shirt now, glowing under the red lights. “You kept, um—you looked cold.”
Yoongi stares at him.
“You don’t have to take it,” Taehyung mumbles, looking far more embarrassed and put-out than Yoongi would have expected. “I just thought—”
“Thanks,” Yoongi says, taking the sweater. He’s still not totally convinced this isn’t some sort of Carrie situation, but he’s cold and the sweater looks comfy. He pulls it over his head and hates himself for noticing that Taehyung apparently smells like sage and patchouli, like fruity shampoo. Like a hot summer night.
When he reemerges, Taehyung is looking at something over Yoongi’s shoulder. Yoongi follows his gaze to find his own photos, mostly developed now, the colors Rorschach-ing into something that makes sense. There’s a photo of Namjoon flipping through a box of vinyls in a record store. A photo of Seokjin and Hoseok laughing over ramen, haloed in steam and yellow light.
“Those are really good,” Taehyung says softly.
Yoongi tugs the sleeves of the sweater down over his hands. “Thanks.”
“They’re really different from the ones you show in class.”
“Not that the ones you show in class aren’t great!” Taehyung says, wide-eyed. “They are, they’re great, you’re—great. Um. I just meant that usually your photos are from, you know, protests and concerts and stuff, and these have a different vibe. They’re…softer.”
Yoongi shrugs. “They’re not for class.”
“Are you a fine arts major?”
“No,” Yoongi says. “I’m in music production.”
To his surprise, Taehyung’s jaw drops. “Oh my god.”
“That’s so cool,” Taehyung says. He bounces on his heels like a little kid. “Oh my god, that’s so cool. I have a friend who does some production stuff and it always looks so complicated. Wow. What kind of music do you do?”
It takes Yoongi a second to reply. Taehyung is giving him this starry, bright-eyed look like he thinks Yoongi is the most fascinating person he’s ever met, literally biting his lip in anticipation of whatever Yoongi is about to say, and it’s just—a lot.
“Hip-hop,” Yoongi says finally. “Sometimes pop and R&B. But mostly hip-hop.”
“Wow,” Taehyung says again. He looks at Yoongi for a long moment, and in the darkness and the red lighting it’s impossible to read the expression on his face. “Hey, um. While we’re here. Can I ask you something?”
“You can ask,” Yoongi says. “I can’t guarantee that I’ll answer.”
“Okay. And before I ask, you can totally say no.”
“I’m aware of that.”
“Okay. IwasjustwonderingifmaybeIcouldtakeyourpicturesometime,” Taehyung says in a rush.
Yoongi squints at him. “Gesundheit?”
Taehyung groans. “Sorry, I swear I’m not usually this awkward. Can I…can I take your picture sometime?”
“Uh,” says Yoongi. “I guess that depends. Do I have to be nude?”
“NO,” says Taehyung. “No, absolutely not. Clothes on. Clothes very much on.” He scrubs a hand through his hair, which means Yoongi catches a glimpse of his eyebrows and has a weird moment where he can hear Hoseok’s voice saying Those brows are on FLEEK. “Okay, let me explain. I’m working on a portrait series right now about masculinity from a queer perspective. Like, just celebrating all these different expressions of masculine energy, sort of as a statement against traditional toxic masculinity.” He glances at Yoongi for a moment, as if gauging his reaction. “Basically using my art to talk about how masculinity can be gentle and loving and very fluid, and doesn’t have to mean, like, aggression and control. So yeah.”
“That’s…that’s actually really neat, Taehyung,” Yoongi says quietly. “And you want to put me in the series?”
“If you’re comfortable with it.”
There is a distinct possibility that Taehyung is not at all the arrogant jerk Yoongi thought he was. There is a distinct possibility that Taehyung is just beautiful, everywhere.
Yoongi thinks it over for like two seconds and then looks up, giving Taehyung a tiny smile. “Okay.”
“Almost done,” Taehyung murmurs, his voice so close to Yoongi’s face. “Almost…okay, perfect.”
Yoongi opens his eyes.
It’s the day of his photo shoot with Taehyung. They’ve been texting back and forth every day for a week—at first it was just Taehyung sending him the details of the shoot (i’d love to photograph u at ur place if thats okay????? a big part of my series is capturing the subjects in the spaces where they feel most comfortable so generally its their home or another fave place!! as for clothing, whatever u feel most comfortable in lol ! even if its jammies! i’ll style u a little but i’ll bring all the supplies for that myself. also one last thing if u could pick out 5 objects that are meaningful or represent something to u that would b great) and then it turned into just…talking. Taehyung asked Yoongi a ton of questions about his music, and in return Yoongi asked more about Taehyung’s portrait series. Then Taehyung started sending memes and photos of dogs he saw around campus, and Yoongi sent a photo of Holly, and then they figured out they’re both from Daegu, and—yeah.
Yoongi is trying not to overthink things.
He looks at his reflection in the mirror over his desk. They decided to take the photos in Yoongi’s bedroom, so Yoongi is sitting on his freshly made bed, wearing a loose black shirt and black pants. He’s surrounded by his five meaningful objects: his mini synthesizer, his lyric notebook, his headphones, the first CD he ever bought (Run-DMC), and, perhaps embarrassingly, the Kumamon plushie he brought with him from Daegu.
Taehyung’s just put the finishing touches on Yoongi’s makeup: mascara, a tiny bit of lip color, and then a delicate spray of gold paint across Yoongi’s nose like a dusting of freckles. He also put Yoongi in a crown of actual flowers—white and yellow roses.
Yoongi has no idea how these photos are going to turn out, especially because he’s never done anything even remotely resembling modeling before, but Taehyung seems to know what he’s doing. He brought professional lighting equipment and everything, turning Yoongi’s bedroom into a studio.
“Wait,” says Taehyung, darting forward to adjust the flower crown. “…Okay, now you’re perfect.”
I sincerely doubt that, Yoongi thinks, but he doesn’t argue.
“Remember to let me know if you get uncomfortable, all right?” Taehyung says, holding up his camera. “I’ll have you switch positions every couple minutes.”
Yoongi nods. He feels nervous. Why does he feel nervous? All he has to do is sit here.
But that’s not quite true, he learns over the next twenty minutes. Sure, all he has to do is sit on his bed, shifting his limbs and tilting his head, interacting with his five objects in different ways, sometimes looking directly into the camera and sometimes not, but he has to do all of it with Taehyung’s eyes on him. Taehyung’s gaze dark and intense and wholly focused on Yoongi. Sometimes Taehyung will lower his camera for a moment and come forward to direct Yoongi into a new position—fingers gentle on Yoongi’s wrists, his chin. Sometimes Yoongi will do something with his face and Taehyung will snap a bunch of photos quick succession, humming under his breath.
“Can I ask what you’re working on right now?” Taehyung says after a while, breaking the silence. “With your music?”
“Yeah, sure,” Yoongi says. He blinks a little. It’s late afternoon, almost sunset, because Taehyung insisted on doing the shoot during something he called “the golden hour.” All Yoongi knows is that he’s got sun in his eyes. Trying not to squint, he begins to tell Taehyung about the song he’s working on right now with Namjoon, a slower chill-hop piece that doesn’t have lyrics yet. Taehyung keeps taking photos, but he also nods and mhms and asks soft, probing questions, encouraging Yoongi to talk about his last project, how he got into music, what he likes to write about—
Yoongi doesn’t realize he’s been talking for almost an hour until Taehyung finally straightens up.
“Sunlight’s pretty much gone,” he says, sounding almost disappointed. Then he seems to shake himself, brightening. “But that’s fine! I definitely got what I needed.”
“Oh,” says Yoongi.
Taehyung sets his camera down and stretches his arms above his head, wiggling his whole body like a wet dog. He gives Yoongi a wide, goofy grin, eyes crinkling up. “Those are gonna be freaking gorgeous. I can feel it in my soul. You’re like, a natural model, has anyone ever told you that?”
“Well, you are. You should look into it, I bet you could make bank.”
Yoongi just stares at him. He knows Taehyung well enough by now to know that Taehyung isn’t making fun of him, but it’s still absolutely wild to hear something like that from The Most Beautiful Person In The Entire World. Yoongi can feel himself blushing, knows it must be totally obvious under the bright lights.
“Thank you,” he mutters, not meeting Taehyung’s eyes. It doesn’t help that Taehyung looks as stunning as ever today, even though he’s just wearing sweatpants and yet another oversized sweater. His dark hair is falling into his eyes and Yoongi can’t stop thinking about his hands, his big fine-boned hands, his pretty fingernails.
This is—not good.
“So…I guess I should go,” says Taehyung, and there’s something weird in his voice, not disappointment but something else, something Yoongi can’t name. “You probably have homework.”
It’s a pretty clear message. Transaction over, time to go.
“Homework,” Yoongi says. “Right. Yeah. I’ll see you out.”
He helps Taehyung break down all the lighting equipment and walks him back through the apartment to the front door. They pause in the doorway, Taehyung’s duffel bag between them, but also something else: the same nameless thing that was coloring Taehyung’s voice, the note in a minor key, the hinting. At what?
Taehyung takes a breath as if to say something. But then he just laughs, quiet and almost sheepish. “Guess I’ll see you in class tomorrow,” he says, avoiding Yoongi’s eyes. “Thank you so much for letting me take your picture, hyung. I’ll send you the files for approval before I do anything with them, yeah?”
Yoongi nods. This is his chance to say something, do something, ask Taehyung back inside for coffee, out for dinner, anything, but—
“Well.” Taehyung shifts from one foot to the other. “Tomorrow, then?”
“Yeah,” Yoongi says. “See you, Taehyung.”
“You can call me Tae,” Taehyung says softly.
“Tae.” Yoongi is equal parts thrilled and mortified by how intimate it feels on his tongue, all soft and well-worn like a piece of sea glass. “Okay. Have a good night, Tae.”
“You too,” Taehyung says, and then he’s gone, and Yoongi shuts the door behind him.
He glares at the deadbolt for a minute. Like it’s the door’s fault that Yoongi is a total coward who couldn’t just ask Taehyung if he wanted to grab a fucking coffee sometime.
His friends were right all along. Yoongi is a disaster.
It’s only when he returns to his bedroom and catches sight of his reflection that Yoongi realizes something. He’s still wearing the flower crown.
“Fuck,” he says aloud. “Fuck this.”
Ten seconds later Yoongi is wrenching open the front door, fully prepared to sprint down all six flights of stairs to catch Taehyung before he drives away, but it turns out he doesn’t have to. Because Taehyung is already standing there in the dimly light hallway outside Yoongi’s door, one hand raised as if he were about to knock, his eyes huge and his face flushed and his chest heaving a little.
They stare at each other, equally shocked.
“You forgot the flower crown,” Yoongi says.
“Do you wanna get a drink with me?” Taehyung blurts out at the exact same time.
“What?” says Yoongi.
“What?” says Taehyung.
“No, me first,” says Yoongi. “What?”
“Forget it,” Taehyung says, hiding his face with both hands. “Please forget I said anything. You can keep the flower crown, I made it specifically for you, because you look so good in yellow. Oh my god. Forget I said that, too.”
“You asked—you asked if I wanted to get a drink with you,” Yoongi says slowly. His brain has gone completely blank. “Like—a drink?”
Taehyung whimpers. “I don’t know why I said that. I don’t even drink alcohol. I’m so sorry.”
“If you don’t drink alcohol, why did you ask me to get a drink with you?”
“I said forget it!” Taehyung squeaks from behind his hands. “Please please please pretend this never happened. I’m gonna go now, again. I’ll see you in class—”
“Wait,” Yoongi says, heart lurching. “Wait, Tae, just—hold on a second. I’m confused, is all. Why did you come back here?”
Taehyung is frozen for a second, and then he lowers his hands. He looks miserable, terribly embarrassed, eyes downcast and cheeks red. “I—I wanted to spend more time with you,” he says, so quietly. “I think you’re like, so cool. And you’re really beautiful and you’re good at photography even though it’s not your thing, and you don’t mind when I send you pictures of random dogs, and I wanna listen to your music, and I wanna, um, take you out, not necessarily for a drink, and talk to you more. Like a lot more.”
“Tae?” says Yoongi.
“Yeah,” Taehyung whispers, squeezing his eyes shut like he’s bracing for something bad.
“Do you wanna make out?”
Taehyung’s eyes pop open. He gapes at Yoongi, speechless.
“It’s fine if you don’t want to,” Yoongi says quickly. “Trust me, I wanna talk to you no matter what, I wanna talk to you a lot, and go out for a drink or not-a-drink, whatever you want, but also, like. Do you want to make out with me. Before we do that.”
“Yes,” Taehyung breathes.
Yoongi’s stomach does something ridiculous and swoopy. “Oh,” he says. “You—wait, really?”
“Yes,” Taehyung repeats. He doesn’t look miserable anymore. He’s smiling down at Yoongi, toothy and gorgeous and glowing, such a big lovely smile, such a big lovely boy. “Yes,” he says again. “One hundred thousand percent yes.”
“Thank god,” says Yoongi, and pulls him down.
The flower crown falls to the floor when Taehyung reaches up to frame Yoongi’s face in his hands, but neither of them notice.
They kiss in the doorway of Yoongi’s apartment for a long time, and then Yoongi realizes they should probably close the door before one of his neighbors gets a free show. So he tugs Taehyung inside and Taehyung trips over the duffel bag of lighting equipment and they nearly fall over, but they catch themselves just in time and then Taehyung is pressing Yoongi against the wall of the foyer, kissing him over and over again, Yoongi on his tiptoes with his arms around Taehyung’s neck. They kiss against the wall and then stumble further into the apartment, somehow making it to the couch without either breaking the kiss or knocking anything over, and this time they actually do end up falling: Taehyung flopping backward onto the couch and Yoongi landing on top of him, climbing into his lap.
“Do you make out with all your models?” Yoongi asks at one point, breathless and grinning, pressing his open mouth to Taehyung’s throat. He’s got his hands in Taehyung’s long hair, which is something he’s wanted to do all semester, and it’s fucking incredible.
Taehyung shudders. “Only the really hot ones.”
Yoongi pulls back, pretending to be offended, and Taehyung bursts out laughing.
“I’m kidding,” he says, wrapping both arms around Yoongi and hugging him tight. “I’m totally kidding, it’s just you.”
“Good,” Yoongi says smugly, making Taehyung crack up all over again, and then they’re kissing again, deep and slow and wonderful. Yoongi might be half in love with Taehyung’s mouth. Maybe a quarter in love with the rest of him.
Maybe a little bit more.
“You’re so pretty,” Taehyung says into the kiss, running his big hands up and down Yoongi’s sides. He’s got a bit of gold paint smeared on his nose and cheeks from Yoongi’s golden freckles. “Jeez. I’ve wanted to take your picture for months. Wanna take your picture all the time.”
“Have your people call my people,” Yoongi says, nipping at Taehyung’s bottom lip. “I think we’ll be able to work something out.”
“I think so too,” says Taehyung, laughing again, eyes bright, and he pulls Yoongi in for another kiss. Another. Another.