jeongguk isn’t supposed to wake up. he’s never supposed to wake up, because maybe it would be easier if he didn’t—if the other side of the bed was cold by the time he thought to check, if there was nothing but a note on the kitchen table and the promise of more more more the next time. but—he wakes anyway. his body knows his heart couldn’t take anything else.
yoongi is already pulling his jeans on by the time jeongguk manages to blink his bleary eyes enough to see through the darkness, by the time he knows it isn’t a dream or maybe something closer to a nightmare, and he rolls over a little until he can press his face into the other pillow. it smells like yoongi—like peppermint and tom ford and the sea, a little. smells like home, and even in the months to come, after the scent has long faded, jeongguk will still smell it. he always does.
he makes a noise in the back of his throat in lieu of words, pulling an arm from under the covers so he can reach out and out, fingers catching on one of yoongi’s belt loops. he tugs weakly, another noise—it’s a whine this time—and yoongi’s laugh is low and husky, still fucked out somehow when he ends up back on the bed, sitting where he once laid.
“hey,” yoongi whispers, despite no need for it. the clock on jeongguk’s night table glares an angry 3:15. jeongguk tugs again and yoongi turns sideways, leaning over and down in order to first brush jeongguk’s hair away from his forehead, and then to press a soft kiss there.
jeongguk shivers, just a little—lets his hand fall from yoongi’s belt loop, instead catching on his wrist and holding it. he doesn’t need to say it, but yoongi knows what he wants—always knows what he wants, no matter the time and distance between them—and the elder huffs out a laugh again before he presses a kiss between jeongguk’s eyebrows, to his left eye, his right cheek, his nose.
“hyung,” whispers jeongguk, impatient. yoongi finally kisses him properly, a careful brush of their lips. there are worse ways to wake up. (there are better ways.) “where are you going?” he lets go of yoongi’s wrist and it falls to his neck, feels yoongi thumbing over the skin where he’s likely left marks—dark, almost angry. reminders. jeongguk belongs to someone.
“got a flight,” murmurs yoongi, kissing the corner of jeongguk’s mouth this time before he pulls back—too soon, and jeongguk whines again, but yoongi pays no mind. he sits up, reaching for something in the darkness, and jeongguk—remembers. he can’t forget, can’t ever forget, but sometimes, he likes to pretend. sometimes, he likes to wake up and imagine that this is what there is, that yoongi will be there tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. they can get a dog. they can share the grocery bill.
but—yoongi is pulling on his shirt and jeongguk is awake enough to push himself into a sitting position too, scooting closer so he can drape himself over yoongi’s back, holding him tight.
“don’t,” he whispers, pressing his lips to yoongi’s neck.
“jeongguk-ah,” begins yoongi—it’s a sigh. yoongi has said his name in so many ways; only hours ago, it was whispered hotly between them, sighed with a certain sort of ecstasy that jeongguk prides himself on being able to give to yoongi. now it’s—a little tired.
“please, hyung,” adds jeongguk, squeezing his eyes shut tight and tight. “stay.”
he asks every time. he knows what answer he’ll get, but he asks anyway because maybe—one day, yoongi will finally listen.
“i can’t,” says yoongi, but he tugs a little on jeongguk’s wrist anyway. dips his head, kisses the back of jeongguk’s hand. “you know i can’t.”
what jeongguk knows is: yoongi smokes when he’s anxious, even though he’s not supposed to and gets in trouble every time he’s caught with the smell on his breath. yoongi has a spot right behind his knees that makes him giggle uncontrollably if tickled but he’ll never admit to it. yoongi likes to be the little spoon after sex even though he’ll try to order jeongguk around during sex.
when they were in high school, yoongi used to steal him during free periods and buy him milkshakes or root beer floats or anything he wanted, just to lick the stickiness right out of his mouth. now it’s—different. he knows a lot about yoongi. knows, too, that yoongi can’t stay, not anymore, no matter how many times jeongguk asks. no matter how prettily he begs.
yoongi pulls on his socks with jeongguk still clinging to his back, letting jeongguk pretend. he’s trying to etch this feeling into his memory, into his chest, so it can last him for however long it takes for yoongi to come back. and he never knows that either, which is why he needs one more moment. one more moment here is one less moment before yoongi comes back.
he knows yoongi is stalling—it takes him an inordinate amount of time to put on his watch, then his rings, then the black face mask that accompanies him in every public outing. jeongguk likes to think that leaving is as hard for yoongi as being left behind is for jeongguk, and he presses another kiss to the side of yoongi’s neck, a little harder—“hey,” says yoongi. “no marks. you know that.”
jeongguk sighs into his skin, kisses him again anyway. “yeah. i know the rules.” yoongi stiffens at that, just slightly; he doesn’t like talking about it. but he pries jeongguk’s hands off of him anyway, getting up from the bed now that there’s nothing left to do but go.
he turns to look at jeongguk, and even in the darkness, jeongguk knows what’s there; yoongi hasn’t changed so much since high school, at least physically or personality-wise, even if everything else has. he still has the same pouty mouth, which jeongguk loves to kiss. the same sharp cat eyes, which jeongguk loves to thumb at. the same lingering stare and veiny hands and ability to rend jeongguk completely helpless in his presence. but jeongguk looks anyway, and this time, all he really sees is sadness.
“walk me to the car?” asks yoongi.
they hold hands the whole way—it’s not long, but it feels like eternity anyway. jeongguk is still in just sweatpants, curling into yoongi’s side and peppering kisses on his shoulder and trying not to think about what he’ll do when the door closes. it’ll be what he does every time, but somehow, this one feels worse.
“do you really have to go?” jeongguk asks finally, when yoongi is putting on his shoes.
“you could delay it, you know.”
yoongi straightens up and levels him with a careful look. “and how would i go about doing that?”
“you get on the phone and you call namjoon-hyung and hoseok-hyung and you tell them that you got stuck in the airport. flight’s cancelled.”
he did once—last year, after jeongguk’s grandmother passed away when yoongi was visiting and had been so utterly distraught that yoongi had cancelled his schedules for a whole week. no one was pleased with him other than jeongguk, and even then, all they’d done for that week was hole up in jeongguk’s apartment and eat shitty take out and watch netflix. it was the longest they’d been together at one time for almost three years, though, and that was how jeongguk knew, maybe, that it was never just going to be sex.
this time, though, jeongguk knows it’s a shot in the dark. yoongi doesn’t even entertain the idea, instead pulling open the door as jeongguk grabs a coat from the closet and follows him out.
they don’t talk until they get to the car—a rental, and a shitty one at that so not to draw attention. he parked it in the back alley behind jeongguk’s apartment, also so not to draw attention. it’s all very—careful, planned. jeongguk knows why, but he still hates it.
when yoongi has thrown his bag in the backseat, he turns to face jeongguk, who is already playing with the end of his coat, not wanting to look yoongi in the eye. “baby,” begins yoongi, because he knows what it does—jeongguk’s cheeks blossom pink, sneaking a glance upward as yoongi reaches out for the lapels of his coat, tugging him forward. “i’ll be back after the asia leg of the tour, okay?”
“that’s so far away,” jeongguk mumbles, pouting.
“it’s only four months.”
“we’ve gone longer. much longer.”
jeongguk wrinkles his nose. “that doesn’t mean i want to go that long again.” objectively, considering their situation, four months isn’t that long. they have gone longer—once jeongguk didn’t see yoongi for almost a year, and that’s precisely why he treasures these moments so much. and he knows that it’s only four months because yoongi will be coming back to tour in america, which isn’t the same as having enough free time to choose to be here, but at least jeongguk can try to swing following him around the country for as long as possible before he runs out of money and his professors get suspicious of whatever ‘illness’ he says he has.
yoongi tugs on his coat again and jeongguk stumbles forward a step, bumping into yoongi’s legs. and yoongi turns his head upward, brushing his nose against jeongguk’s. the fabric of his mask rubs against jeongguk’s skin, too, and jeongguk finally relents with a giggle before he reaches up and tugs the mask down enough to give yoongi a kiss, something stolen in a back alley where no one can see. he wouldn’t want them to see anyway.
“i’ll call you when i land in seoul,” whispers yoongi. “make sure you go to class tomorrow.”
“i know, hyung,” sighs jeongguk. “make sure you eat. and get lots of sleep. and don’t let hoseok-hyung make any promises about revealing his abs if you win a lot.”
“‘course,” chuckles yoongi, pressing another kiss to jeongguk’s lips before he pulls back. “wish me luck?’
“you don’t need luck. i know it’s gonna be great.”
sometimes, when they’re like this, yoongi gets vulnerable. it’s hard to hold in his hands sometimes, but jeongguk does his best to assure yoongi of his ability and skill even when all of it is so far out of his range of knowledge. worrying about an exam feels like nothing compared to yoongi’s worries, his entire life such a high-stakes game that jeongguk often wants to beg him to stop. he can’t, though—never could. yoongi loves what he does. it’s just hard trying to help him from across the fucking ocean.
yoongi tries to pull away, but jeongguk panics a little, won’t let him go when he knows this is it—he tugs yoongi back in again, kissing him with more heat now that he’s properly awake. and yoongi humors him for a time, licking at the seam of jeongguk’s mouth, and jeongguk makes a low sound into it, and yoongi exhales something sharp through his nose, and he wants wants wants—
then he’s being pushed away, a little forcefully, and yoongi is whispering, “bye, guk,” and pulling the mask back up over his mouth before he lets go of jeongguk entirely and hurries around the side of the car. gets in, starts it. jeongguk manages to keep it in even when yoongi rolls down the passenger window and gives him a little wave, until after yoongi has driven down the back alley and out onto the street and away. he keeps it in until he can’t hear the car at all anymore, and then jeongguk goes back inside, shuts the door, and quietly begins to cry.
it’s—nothing new. none of this is new. jeongguk is used to the passionate rendezvous, the quick fucks in hotel rooms or his apartment, if they’re lucky, the twenty-four hour visits that turn into aches and jeongguk clinging and yoongi leaving anyway. it’s not just that jeongguk is going to school in san francisco when yoongi is based in seoul. it’s not just that they’re both busy, or that money is tight for jeongguk, or that jeongguk is so hopelessly in love and so hopelessly aware of the fact that they’re both still clinging to something they had five years ago.
it’s this: two days later, jeongguk wakes up to the internet in a mad panic, to almost four hundred texts in the groupchat with his friends, and to a new album already downloaded to his itunes. he’s already heard half of the songs, but he ignores the rest of the world for a few hours anyway, hiding under covers that still smell like peppermint and tom ford and the sea in order to listen to yoongi’s harsh voice in his ears, cutting through the music like it could be just his. isn’t, though. never really was.
it’s this: when he finally opens the groupchat, it’s four hundred texts of taehyung, jimin, and seokjin screaming about yoongi. about hoseok and namjoon, too, but those ones don’t feel so personal. it’s his friends asking if he’s listened already and what he thinks and what he would do if ever actually met yoongi in the flesh.
it’s this: yoongi isn’t just famous. he’s a fucking icon, one third of the rap hip-hop group cypher, the one that has not only taken south korea by storm, but the rest of the world, too. and jeongguk is the high school sweetheart that he never really learned how to let go of, the korean kid in california just trying to get his degree with something akin to a broken heart. they’re not—dating. jeongguk isn’t even sure if they’re in love, at least in the way they were when they were teenagers. there have been too many years in between, and jeongguk knows for a fact that yoongi has been with others in the meantime.
but he keeps coming back to jeongguk anyway, however he can: during tours, during breaks, during holidays. it’s always brisk and brief, an evening or two if they can manage. more often than not, they just fuck and then jeongguk stays up for hours trying to memorize yoongi’s sleeping face, trying to pinpoint how time and distance has changed him since the last time. more often than not, yoongi calls him baby with his cock buried in jeongguk’s ass, and then holds him so gently after that jeongguk feels like he’s suffocating, and then kisses him goodbye and leaves jeongguk always wanting more.
seokjin set him up on a blind date once, because no one knows, and the complete stranger spent almost ten minutes gushing about cypher. jeongguk threw up in the bathroom of the restaurant and went home to a miss you text from yoongi that almost made him sicker.
it’s a lot of loneliness. a lot of three am skype calls because they’re half a world away from each other. a lot of waiting and wanting and not being able to watch music broadcasts because somehow, that just makes the distance hurt even more, but—it’s worth it for the few moments they do get to be together. jeongguk does his best to listen to yoongi when he says that they can make it work, that he’s always going to come back, that it’s only a few months. he listens.
and yoongi told him to go to class, so jeongguk goes to class.
“i’m just saying,” taehyung says through a mouthful of sushi, a few grains of rice flying out of his mouth and landing on the textbooks in front of him, “that ddaeng is objectively the best song on the album and nothing is ever going to top it. like, ever. objectively.”
“no,” says jimin. he flicks one of the grains of rice toward taehyung. “you’re just saying that because you think ddaeng is basically a cypher and you’re upset they didn’t call it cypher 5 so you could call it cypher v and pretend that they wrote it for you because of your dumb track nickname.”
“it is a cypher! just because it’s not in the title doesn’t mean it isn’t.”
“if it was a cypher, they would have called it a cypher.”
“that doesn’t take away the fact that it’s the best song on the album.”
“uh, outro: tear says hello.”
“how long have they been arguing about this?” asks jeongguk quietly, leaning over toward seokjin as he observes the other two arguing. there’s more rice flying, which looks dangerous.
seokjin snorts, taking a sip of his coffee and leaning back in his chair like he’s watching his own personal soap opera. “literally since about an hour after the album dropped,” he says. “jimin has made taehyung sleep on the couch for the past two nights.”
it’s not really surprising, considering how passionate the two of them get about everything, including arguing with each other. jeongguk could settle it by telling them that taehyung is actually right—ddaeng is technically a cypher, although the group dropped the title sequence because of something about moving away from only focusing on what their haters were saying and moving toward something new. yoongi told jeongguk himself.
but—of course. jeongguk isn’t supposed to know that, and they would laugh if jeongguk told them that yoongi said anything to him.
don’t be a sasaeng, jimin would say. don’t be a koreaboo, taehyung would say. how can i be a koreaboo if i’m literally korean, jeongguk would reply.
anyway—“jeonggukkie, settle this for us,” and jeongguk turns his attention back to the arguing pair. “you always have the best insights on cypher’s work. which one is better?”
“objectively,” adds taehyung.
the truth is—he likes both of the songs. but he likes yoongi’s solo songs better, and not just because it’s a whole four minutes of only yoongi. he’s selfish, but—he likes the softer ones, when yoongi isn’t so angry. when he isn’t rapping about being better than someone or about toxic relationships. that has always been part of yoongi’s rapping, even back when they were in high school and yoongi was just vaguely popular in the underground scene as the faceless gloss. he likes knowing that yoongi has grown, likes knowing there are good things for him, too.
“first love,” says jeongguk eventually, much to taehyung and jimin’s chagrin. seokjin chuckles beside him.
“you just wish he would rap about you the way he raps about his piano,” huffs taehyung, and jeongguk thinks—he does. yoongi played the song for him months ago, over a skype call with a shitty connection. i thought i was your first love, jeongguk had teased. i can’t exactly tell everyone that, can i? yoongi had replied.
jimin sighs. “as usual, he’s no help. seokjin-hyung?”
“i haven’t decided,” says seokjin. “i haven’t listened to the album that much since it came out. since i’m not a heathen and have actually been focusing on my life, like you two should be. don’t you have midterms coming up?”
“our lord and saviour kim namjoon will give me the strength and knowledge i need to pass all of them,” says taehyung.
“oh god,” mutters seokjin, pressing his forehead into jeongguk’s shoulder as that sets jimin and taehyung off on another argument for some reason—“he’s going to fucking fail and it won’t be anyone’s fault but his own. and maybe cypher’s, but i can’t blame them for being so horribly distracting.”
jeongguk—chuckles a little. it’s fake, and he tries his best to ignore the argument that turns into more of a civil discussion about the album (don’t you think it’s extremely interesting that all of the songs on the album are gender neutral?) as he turns back to the textbook in his lap. it’s not that he doesn’t love talking about cypher with his friends, considering they love and appreciate the trio as much as he does, but—it’s different. it’s different when he can still feel the last kiss yoongi pressed to his lips before getting in his shitty rental car and driving away, and when he can’t tell them the truth.
sometimes, one of them will say, oh my god, jeongguk, i really can’t believe that you dated min yoongi before he was min yoongi. don’t you ever think about contacting him or something? i bet he’d give us vip tickets. please get us vip tickets.
i don’t think that’s a good idea, jeongguk will say. and it’s not. but not for any reason they think.
after unsuccessfully trying to copy down notes from his textbook for almost half an hour, he finally tunes back into the conversation to hear seokjin say, “did you see the cypher cam they posted last night of them practicing for the comeback? the one with yoongi wearing those ripped jeans? like, i’m not a hard stan, but holy shit, fuck me da—”
“i have to go,” jeongguk says abruptly, standing from his seat so quickly that he almost knocks over his half full cup of coffee. the other three stare at him. “sorry, i just—remembered. i have, um. a thing. yeah.” he packs his things in a haste and doesn’t bother to listen to their questions or goodbyes as he all but runs out of the café, desperate to just—go. to be in a world, even if it’s only in his own head, where yoongi is just yoongi. his yoongi, the one he fell in love with in high school. not suga or agust d. just—his person.
it’s not easy to have that secret piece to himself. but he tries anyway, even if it means distancing himself sometimes, feigning disinterest in cypher’s work. the others never ask. he wouldn’t know what he would tell them, anyway.
comebacks are the worst—cypher is everywhere, even on his san francisco campus. most of his friends are koreans who take a keen interest in what is happening in south korea, anyway, so he can’t escape it. they’re on his twitter, his facebook, his snapchat. all of the major media outlets, youtube, the television. every korean restaurant obnoxiously plays cypher music videos on a loop like it’ll make all of the white girls want to visit more often. (it does.)
it’ll calm down quickly enough, at least when the initial hype for the album begins to die down a little. when they go on tour and aren’t on every variety show or buzzfeed channel known to the western world. he likes it best after the first weeks of the comeback are done, too, because it means yoongi isn’t as busy, means he can actually reply to jeongguk’s texts or skype him or, with some luck, visit. for now, though—jeongguk chooses to keep his head down. chooses to keep his mouth shut. cypher being everywhere means he does very, very well at focusing on his schoolwork, so he takes it as a blessing in disguise.
“i told you that you should have studied. now look what’s happened.”
“jimin, please. just pet my hair, i’m sad.”
“you did this to yourself, i’m sorry.”
“jimin. jimin, please. ji—fuck you; jeongguk-ah, tell jimin to pet my hair.”
jeongguk looks up from his phone. most of the time, it appears that all taehyung and jimin do is bicker with each other, but he sees the way they curl around each other on the sofa during movie nights, or how jimin will give taehyung those private sort of touches when he thinks no one is looking. it’s still confusing. and anyway—“you should have studied, hyung,” he says. “you literally had two weeks.”
“it’s not my fault i was distracted,” argues taehyung, sulking now that jeongguk isn’t on his side. midterms have ended, at least, although some of jeongguk’s professors seem not to understand what a midterm is and have set three of them per class. there is still always something to study for, or an assignment to do, which is why they’re in the library at this godawful time of night anyway.
he turns back to his phone, ignoring the way taehyung keeps trying to hide in jimin’s neck. “it wasn’t that bad of a mark,” jimin says quietly. jeongguk scrolls through twitter, having given up on assignments for the night. “i’ll help you study for the next one, too.”
“of course i would, idiot. you’re my best friend.”
there are a few weird sniffling noises, and jeongguk wouldn’t put it past taehyung to start crying at that when he’s in his current state—a little too upset about a bad midterm mark, needing affection. in any case, it’s not anything he should worry about, too busy focusing on the dumb tweets that are popping up on his timeline.
he sees a whole thread jimin made earlier about the problem with san francisco starbucks. it’s mildly entertaining, but he scrolls down and down and—
“—you know, because sometimes i’m not sure—”
“taehyung, what on earth are you talking about?”
“you guys are like, so much cooler than me—”
“you can’t think jeongguk-ah is cooler than you. he’s the biggest weeb in the entire world.”
belatedly, jeongguk tears his eyes from the screen, eyebrows furrowed as he looks at his friends, who are both looking back and apparently waiting for him to defend himself. “what?” he finally asks.
“he said you’re our best friend, too,” says taehyung, wiping at his nose. jeongguk just stares for another second before he looks back down to his phone, still reading the article that popped up only half an hour ago. his stomach is in knots already, and his friends seem to notice something is off from his lack of response to the weeb comment alone, untangling themselves from where they apparently ended up in each other’s laps.
“what’s wrong?” asks jimin instantly.
“nothing,” says jeongguk, but it comes out too snippy; taehyung plucks his phone right out of his hands, and jeongguk makes an aborted attempt to grab it back before the elder is leaning back in his chair and staring at the screen.
then—“oh,” he says. “oh shit.”
“what?” asks jimin, craning his neck to see the screen as well.
“yoongi-hyung has a girlfriend. apparently.”
jeongguk is back in his own chair, staring hard at the table between them. and it wouldn’t—be a big deal. shouldn’t be for any regular fan, although both jimin and taehyung know that jeongguk is half in love with yoongi as a regular fan anyway.
“it’s probably not true,” says jimin instantly. “i mean, the media is always spreading false rumours. bighit will probably deny it right away.” it sounds like he’s trying to—placate jeongguk, or keep him from being upset. and jeongguk shouldn’t be upset, because he’s supposed to just be a normal fan here. but he’s not. and jimin is right—it’s probably false, probably based off of something stupid like yoongi wearing a similar shirt as some female idol he’s never even spoken to. there have been other dating rumours involving yoongi in the past.
for some reason, this one is worse.
“yeah,” he finally says, but he reaches out and grabs his phone back anyway. “sorry, i’m gonna—go. i’m tired.” neither jimin nor taehyung say anything as he hastily packs his bags and heads away from the table. it seems to be becoming a common theme—jeongguk running away when talk turns to yoongi, and normally he’s good at doing this: pretending. normally he’s good at avoiding thinking about it, good at being just a fan.
but maybe there was something about the last time he saw yoongi. it was harder to let go, harder to continue this double life and long distance. jeongguk isn’t a kid anymore—he’s in the second last year of his degree, trying to figure out a future. trying to understand where he fits in the world, and he can’t keep doing this. can’t keep waiting for yoongi to come back, can’t keep staying hung up on someone who maybe doesn’t need him as much as jeongguk thinks.
and anyway—the insecurity bubbles up in his chest like something acidic, something ugly. yoongi would have told him if he was dating someone. yoongi would have told him if he was sleeping with something else, and he trusts yoongi, so there’s no reason to be worried. but there are tears in his eyes anyway when he hurries out of the library and off campus, running for his car. the rumour is just a reminder, maybe, that jeongguk isn’t really part of yoongi’s life—not the part that matters most. he’s never going to be, and jeongguk has never wanted to be famous. doesn’t care about people knowing that yoongi used to date him and that they’re maybe a thing now. but it’s always open season instead.
he doesn’t really realize that he’s calling yoongi until he’s huddled behind the wheel of his car, shaking as he hastily wipes away tears from his eyes with his phone pressed to his ear. it’s only three in the afternoon for yoongi, and he could be—anywhere. promotions for the album have already finished, which means he’ll be gearing up for the beginning of the tour. he’s probably in practice. he’s probably with his band. he’s probably with his girlfriend—
at the sound of yoongi’s voice, always low and rough and grainy through the phone, jeongguk lets out a ragged sigh. leans forward until his forehead is resting against the steering wheel, sniffing pathetically.
“hey, jeongguk-ah? are you there?”
“is it true?” he gets out, almost through gritted teeth.
“what? is what true?”
“the rumour. is it true?”
he hears something on the other end—there are other voices, low ones, and he knows that he’s interrupted yoongi in the middle of something. but he wants to be selfish, can’t take the ugly beast rearing its head in his chest, and then it gets quieter. yoongi’s voice is clearer when it comes next—“are you talking about the suran rumour? the one allkpop posted?”
jeongguk sniffs again. “she’s really pretty,” he finds himself saying. “i wouldn’t blame you.”
“jeongguk—jesus, no. it’s not true.” for some reason, hearing it doesn’t make him feel any better. doesn’t get rid of the insecurity nestled in the pit of his stomach, the thought of not being good enough, or the thought of—just being some fling, just being the part of yoongi’s past that he can’t let go of. it’s been almost a month since he saw yoongi. they only have three more left to go, but the distance keeps growing and growing.
when he doesn’t say anything, yoongi sighs. this time, he’s softer when he says, “jeongguk-ah, i promise i’m not dating suran. or anyone, for that matter. don’t listen to what the media says.”
he tries not to—every other day, there’s another article about something that could worry him. dating rumours, or injury rumours, or things that worry any normal fan, but send him into a frenzy of panic until he can actually talk to yoongi. he doesn’t want to be needy, but it’s hard. so he ignores it as best as he can, not even bothering to look at korean news because they’re desperate for anything to attract viewers. he knows this. and yet—
“you could, if you wanted,” he whispers. “date her. or date anyone. it’s not like we’re—” jeongguk stops. can’t quite say it.
he wipes at the tears on his cheek. “it’s okay, hyung.”
they should—have this conversation, he knows. they’ve been avoiding it for years, although not always actively. when yoongi graduated, a few years before jeongguk, and decided to audition for an entertainment company, he wasn’t sure either of them ever really thought it would become this. it was easy to stay together even when yoongi became a trainee, when they were both based in seoul and yoongi was busy but was still only known as a vaguely successful underground rapper.
and then jeongguk graduated and got a scholarship to a university in the states, of all places. and cypher debuted and blew up, and they didn’t ever say goodbye. they didn’t want to, although they’d had the break-up conversation sometime around jeongguk’s nineteenth birthday. but it wasn’t really a break-up, not when they immediately tried to find time to be together again, when yoongi kept flying to san francisco just to fuck on jeongguk’s shitty couch, or when they spent days together during tours when they could. it was a break.
but it’s been years. and they’ve always sort of been each other’s, always sort of been waiting, always sort of assumed that this was what they have, but—maybe jeongguk is going to stay in california. and maybe he’s sick of this. and maybe he’s only holding yoongi back by clinging to him so hard, anyway.
so: the conversation.
“i can’t stop you from being with someone,” whispers jeongguk. “you should be, i-if you want. i understand. you have so many people there and i’m here and it doesn’t really work and i don’t want to stop you from being happy even though i want you to be happy with me.” he sniffs again, squeezes his eyes shut tight. he can hear yoongi breathing on the other end of the line, the only sign that he’s still there. “we don’t even have a label for what we are. and that’s—okay. i just want to be with you however i can but we’re not what we were, are we?”
yoongi doesn’t reply.
“it’s okay,” jeongguk repeats, like he’s trying to convince himself. “it’s okay. i understand, hyung, it’s okay—”
“but it’s okay,” he hiccups through a sob—“it’s okay. i want you to be happy, hyung. please be happy.”
“i’m happy when i’m with you,” yoongi says finally. “i’m happy when i’m with you, jeongguk. i don’t want to date someone here. i don’t want to be with anyone here, baby, you know it’s just—you. it’s only you.”
“but it doesn’t have to be.”
“jeongguk-ah, do you think that i’m not with someone else because i don’t want to hurt your feelings?” that stops him, has him almost choking on the breath he takes. jeongguk leans back in his seat, wiping at his fresh tears as he lets his head hit the headrest behind him. “do you think that i spend all of that time and money coming to see you because i’m worried about hurting you if i don’t? or because you’re just someone for me to fuck?”
“hyung,” jeongguk begins.
“listen,” yoongi cuts him off. “jeongguk. jeongguk-ah, i love you. i always have.”
jeongguk lets out this—pathetic sort of whine and can’t stop the tears from coming again, sobbing in his car in the middle of the night because he wants he wants he wants but god fucking dammit, he can’t have—
“i don’t want to be with anyone else,” adds yoongi, quiet and small in his ear. “if i could… fuck, jeongguk, i’d be there with you. every day. if i could, i’d say fuck it to all of this idol shit because you’re always more important. i told you in high school that i wasn’t going to let anything keep us apart, and i’m keeping my promise. do you trust me?”
it’s too easy to remember—all of the nights spent under the covers, limbs tangled, as yoongi talked about all of his dreams. as he talked about how he was going to take over the world with his music one day, and how he wanted it only if jeongguk was still there to come home to. how he wanted to be famous, but he wouldn’t care about the fame or the money because he’d have jeongguk, and that was a treasure beyond anything idol life could give him.
it was easy to talk about it, then, when yoongi wasn’t famous. when they were just two kids with dreams too much to fit in their heads. it’s different when yoongi is there and jeongguk is here and he’s spending his entire life waiting for when he can see yoongi—only a few times a year. and how can he spend his life like that?
but. this yoongi—the suga yoongi, the one third of superstar group cypher yoongi, the critically acclaimed songwriter and producer yoongi is still his yoongi, underneath it all. with the same dreams, the same loves. still the yoongi that jeongguk wants to spend the rest of his life with, no matter how difficult these few years are.
“yeah,” jeongguk says finally. “i’m—sorry, i’m just. being stupid.”
“it’s not stupid,” says yoongi. “i know it’s hard. you’re allowed to be upset about it.”
“i guess i’m just—not sure, you know? what we’re doing. i like seeing you when i can and what we do because i just… want to be with you however i can.” jeongguk wipes at his eyes, willing himself to finally stop crying. he has to be a rational adult about this. “and i don’t want to pressure you into anything because you know i never would and i would never want to make you uncom—”
“just say it, jeongguk.”
“what are we?” asks jeongguk. it sounds so—childish, like he’s a teenager. and in some ways, he feels as though he still is, still trying so desperately to cling to the one real relationship he had when he was in high school. is it too hard? is it better to just let this go, no matter how much he loves yoongi? “what are we doing, hyung? because if we’re not—serious about actually working to be together, even with the distance and everything, then what’s the point? i don’t… hyung, i don’t want to spend my whole life waiting for you to sneak into my apartment at two in the morning. i don’t want to plan my whole life around the possibility that there might come a day where we’ll finally be able to be more.”
that’s the crux of this, isn’t it? the fact that both of them want this, and want each other, but never being able to do something about it. and jeongguk doesn’t mind waiting, but he’s tired. he’s so fucking tired. he can’t keep letting opportunities pass him by because of the possibility of something potentially going right with yoongi for once. he can’t keep seeing rumours about yoongi and never really knowing.
he waits for yoongi to respond. fears what he’ll say. and then—“i don’t know. i don’t know, jeongguk-ah.”
somehow, that’s worse than a we’re nothing.
“i think we need to figure it out,” says jeongguk. “for—both of us. okay? i know it’s not good timing or whatever, but i’m just… tired. i’m tired, hyung. i can’t keep doing this.” there’s always that ache, that need. he’s killing himself with it.
“yeah,” says yoongi. “i know. just—can it wait? a few months, at least? i think we should have this conversation in person and it’s only three months until i’m in america.”
it’s not ideal. but jeongguk is used to waiting. “okay,” he agrees. “sorry for—bothering you.”
“you never bother me.”
for some reason—jeongguk’s eyes fill with tears again. “i gotta go,” he says quickly, wiping at his nose again. “good luck with the tour.”
“thanks,” whispers yoongi. “i’ll call you—soon?”
“yeah.” jeongguk presses his head against the headrest, trying to say something he’ll regret. trying not to drown in all of the things he hasn’t said. “bye, hyung.”
“wait—” he says suddenly, clutching the phone to his ear. the line is still live, and despite so many years of being together in some capacity—despite how many times he’s said it before, jeongguk still feels himself blushing as he adds, “um. love you, too,” and then hangs up before he can hear yoongi’s response.
jeongguk forgets about it, as well as he can. he throws himself into his schoolwork and ignores the news about cypher preparing for their first tour dates. each day is one day closer to no longer having to worry about this fear and anxiety in the pit of his stomach, trying to channel it all toward something more useful. his friends worry, but jeongguk keeps his head down. it’s easier that way, if he pretends that he doesn’t even know who yoongi is. the dating rumours are squashed within a few days, but the lingering insecurity remains, not so easily done away with.
he thinks, maybe, that he’s being childish. yoongi has so much more to worry about, but the truth is that jeongguk has always put himself second because of that. being with yoongi in any capacity is what he’s happy with, but he’s always silenced his own feelings in favour of remembering that they can’t have a normal relationship, because yoongi is famous and lives almost six thousand miles away. he’s always stopped himself from asking for concrete boundaries because he loves yoongi, because loving yoongi means accepting that they’ll only be together a few times a year. accepting that they’re not really together, and can’t be, and might never be.
loving yoongi means—letting himself get hurt sometimes, because it’s worth it.
or—it did mean that. but jeongguk is at the end of his rope, but maybe he’s beginning to realize that that’s not really love at all. that love compromises, and as much as he wants to be with yoongi, maybe being with him like this is only hurting him worse than not being with him at all. demanding to know where they stand isn’t much, maybe, in the grand scheme of things. he doesn’t want to lose yoongi, but—but. they’re not kids anymore. they can’t be stuck in the middle anymore.
after two weeks, he wakes to a text from yoongi. says: are you busy this weekend?
it’s the sort of thing that a normal boyfriend would ask. it’s the sort of thing that yoongi used to ask, when they were still together—would tell jeongguk to pack a bag and then whisk him off on some weekend-long adventure just because they could.
i have some readings to do, he replies. other than that no. why?
yoongi doesn’t text back, not for almost an hour. and then it’s with a screenshot of a plane ticket. i’m flying you to seoul for the opening concert, he says. i hope you don’t mind.
he doesn’t mind. so—jeongguk goes to seoul.
(“wait, what do you mean you’re going to seoul?” asks jimin, coffee cold and forgotten in his hand.
“it means i’m going to seoul,” replies jeongguk.
“but i thought—the tickets were sold out,” says taehyung. “how did you get a ticket? and why? that’s so much money, jeongguk, oh my god—”
“i… got some help.”
“he means he has a sugar daddy,” calls seokjin from the sofa. he’s not exactly wrong.)
jeongguk isn’t entirely sure why yoongi brought him—they didn’t have time for any real conversation before he left for seoul, or when he arrived in seoul, or before the concert. he has a few ideas, but by the time he’s sitting in jamsil olympic stadium with forty-five thousand other screaming fans, jeongguk realizes that there’s only one right choice to make. as he watches from the back of the stadium, one of the only tickets that yoongi could actually get at such late notice, jeongguk realizes that—this is it. yoongi performs like his life depends on it, like this is the only thing he has ever wanted and will ever need, and—it is. it’s a festival of light and sound and people losing their minds with adoration, and in the middle of it: min yoongi with a gummy smile on his face.
jeongguk used to be the only thing that could make him smile like that.
it’s not the first time that jeongguk has seen yoongi perform—far from it. he’s seen yoongi when he was a nobody in the underground rap scene of seoul, spitting bars in anger at the world for not treating him right. he’s seen yoongi at bighit showcases in front of small crowds of passionate fans, desperate to prove himself. he’s seen yoongi just like this: in front of a sea of people who love him and love him and love him, people who will never be able to tell him just what he’s done for them.
every time, jeongguk is taken back by how well yoongi fits up there, like he was made for it. made for having his voice heard just like this, made for changing the world with his music. it’s clear that yoongi loves what he does, would never trade it for anything. he’s not going to give this up: performing with two of his best friends, making the world fall at his feet.
but this is the one thing that’s standing between he and jeongguk. and jeongguk knows, from the very first moment the lights go up and he sees yoongi standing on the stage with all of those stupid fucking stars in his eyes—jeongguk can’t ask him to budge even an inch. can’t ask yoongi to give up any part of this for him.
because that’s not love, either.
the girl next to him is crying when the concert ends. she looks at his own tear-stained eyes and kind of laughs, says, “i know how you feel.” and—she doesn’t. can’t. but he’s never heard someone scream so loud during yoongi’s solo songs, and she’s clutching a little banner with yoongi’s face on it, and jeongguk—isn’t the only one who loves him. jeongguk isn’t the only one who sees yoongi as something more than just an idol. this girl will likely never meet him, will never know him how jeongguk knows him, but that doesn’t make him any less special to her.
so how can jeongguk possibly think that he deserves to be selfish with yoongi?
after, he waits in the hotel room yoongi got for him, staring at his phone in his hand, open to their text conversation. all of the last ones are from him, telling yoongi that he’s proud, that he did well. that he’ll be waiting, that maybe he knows, he knows. their post concert routine when jeongguk gets to see him perform is often just that: a routine. yoongi is coming off of the high of performing, off of seeing jeongguk for the first time in a long time.
and jeongguk shouldn’t give into it, with the way his stomach is in knots, with the way he’s been muttering things under his breath to practice what he knows he has to say to yoongi, but—his phone vibrates with a i’m here text, and then there’s a soft knock at the door.
he leaves his phone on the night table, trembling just barely as he pads his way over to the door and—pauses. lets his hand rest on the wood and remembers, suddenly, the first time they were ever apart for any period of time when jeongguk left for university. that same giddiness is there, that same understanding that if this is it, it’s enough. it has to be enough.
jeongguk opens the door.
he marvels, for a moment, at the sight of yoongi in front of him. hair still wet from the shower he must have taken, clothes a little worse for wear, like he shoved them on without thinking much. he’s breathing heavily, chest rising and falling and rising. here. here. jeongguk hasn’t seen him for almost two months, and now yoongi is looking at him with the same sort of fierce determination with which he looks at a new music project. and—something heavier, something headier.
and jeongguk, despite what he told himself, can only give into the overwhelming need that arises in his body.
“hey,” says yoongi finally, out of breath.
“hi,” replies jeongguk.
“of course,” says jeongguk.
yoongi stares at him again, careful, careful. there’s so much that needs to be said, but jeongguk realizes that he doesn’t want to say any of it—not yet. for now, he just wants… yoongi. just wants what they had, what they still have, before he manages to rip it all to shreds. right now, yoongi is still his and only his. he just laid his soul bare for forty-five thousand people, but right now, it’s just he and jeongguk. he’s opening his chest only for jeongguk.
before yoongi can open his mouth again, jeongguk reaches out and fists his hand into yoongi’s sweater and tugs him into the room. yoongi goes, yoongi always goes, and they collide in the middle—yoongi’s hands on his waist, the door falling shut behind them as jeongguk kisses him hot and hard. kisses him wanting, kisses him hello and goodbye all at once, because it might be the last time. in jeongguk’s head, it is, despite not having the conversation yet, but—he treats it like it is, anyway. makes it worse, makes it better.
jeongguk kisses yoongi, licks into his mouth, lets yoongi push and pull until they hit the bed and tumble back onto it and still don’t let go of each other. he sucks yoongi’s lip into his mouth just to hear that sound yoongi makes, the low moan in the back of his throat—one of the only sounds that none of those forty-five thousand screaming fans will ever hear. it’s only his. the way yoongi touches him is only his—big hands on his waist, holding him tightly and gently all at once, sliding under his shirt and touch and feel and take. he’s missed it, missed yoongi, missed being pressed into the mattress and letting yoongi take what he wants.
he tries to tell him that, at some point—yoongi’s weight is pressing into him, hands everywhere and heart bleeding all over the fucking floor, and jeongguk gasps out a tangle of words. sounds like miss you love you need you want you and it’s not what he meant to say, but he can never keep it to himself at times like these. he’s not sure yoongi hears, licking into his mouth and swallowing the words right out of it, but he probably knows anyway. there’s no way that he doesn’t, even after all of this time.
it’s nothing new. it’s nothing new—this is what they’ve been doing for years already, but jeongguk feels like he can hold it in his hands, finally: the way yoongi kisses him and kisses him and doesn’t let him go, not even once. it feels worse, somehow. feels better. he loves yoongi with so much of his heart that he’s not sure he has any left to give to himself, and yoongi doesn’t say anything when he starts crying in the middle of it—from fear, from thinking about what might come next.
yoongi just kisses the corners of his eyes, goes gentle and soft and pliant. and he loves yoongi for that, too. he’s spent weeks trying to word the whole conversation in his head: he can’t take yoongi from what he loves, can’t ask that yoongi compromise on his work just to make something happen for jeongguk. but now, when he’s actually with yoongi—it’s so much easier to think with his heart. to let himself want, unabashedly, and forget the logic of it all.
still. after, when they’re under the covers with legs tangled and jeongguk’s nose pressed to the back of yoongi’s neck, he finds himself avoiding it.
“you did really well tonight,” he mutters into yoongi’s skin.
“i always do well,” replies yoongi, a little sleepy. “my dick is in top form.”
despite himself—jeongguk giggles. “not that, hyung,” he says. “i meant the concert.”
“oh,” says yoongi, drawing it out and teasing and jeongguk can’t help but giggle again even though it sort of gets stuck in his throat, because he doesn’t want to lose this. he doesn’t want to forget about it. as much as he likes sleeping with yoongi, he likes sleeping with him in the literal sense. being with yoongi, even when all they could was the physical part, was never about the physical part. it was always about yoongi making his heart sing. it was always about yoongi being his happy place.
“thank you,” adds yoongi. “i was hoping you’d like it.”
“how could i not? you’re really—good at what you do. you belong up there.”
yoongi doesn’t anything at first. and then he pries jeongguk’s arm away from his waist and turns around, shuffling until they’re facing each other. he bumps his nose against jeongguk’s and his eyes watch with a sort of question in them, one that jeongguk isn’t sure he can answer. maybe he knows already.
and jeongguk knows what he has to say, but he asks yoongi anyway—“why did you bring me here?”
yoongi’s fingers brush against the skin of his neck, eyes centered somewhere there, too. then they move up and up, thumb tracing the edge of jeongguk’s jaw like he’s memorizing it by touch alone. when yoongi’s eyes meet his again, he says, “i’m very bad at being away from you.”
it makes jeongguk grin, just slightly. “that’s very unfortunate, considering our current circumstance.”
“after you called me because of the dating rumour,” says yoongi, and his fingers continue their careful exploration of jeongguk’s face, “i spent a lot of time thinking about it. about—what you said. and you’re right, you know, about… not knowing where we are and not being able to continue like this. i’m sorry if i hurt you because of this.”
“hyung, no,” begins jeongguk, and he doesn’t realize there are tears in his eyes until yoongi thumbs at the corners and his finger comes away wet. “you didn’t hurt me.”
“but i did, gukkie,” whispers yoongi. “i didn’t mean to, but i did. i thought—we could make it work just like this. i’ve always been okay with just this, because i barely have time to think about anything other than my music, so i didn’t have time to think about what it was like without you. but that’s not how it works for you. and i was selfish not to realize that. i guess when all of this started, i had no idea what was going to happen to me. i’ve only now realized that asking you to wait like i have isn’t fair to you.”
“i didn’t mind,” replies jeongguk. “i really didn’t. but it’s just—a lot, i think. it’s just a lot all of the sudden.”
“i still don’t know what’s going to happen,” says yoongi. “cypher might crash and burn tomorrow for all i know. i hope it doesn’t, but it could. or we could go on like this for years, and it’s not fair of me to keep asking you to be waiting for me with open arms every time i have a chance to come back to you. i don’t want to hurt you like that.”
jeongguk realizes, then, that maybe he and yoongi have been thinking the same things. and he waits for it, waits for what he was going to say to yoongi—that it’s not fair, and that he can’t ask for anything more, and so he’s willing to let it go. no matter how badly it hurts.
except—“but jeongguk-ah, i’ve been thinking. a lot. and you mean more to me than cypher ever will. i love you more than i love my career or my music. i can’t stop being an idol for you, but i don’t see why i can’t have you and my career.”
“wait,” says jeongguk, blinking away his tears when he suddenly realizes this isn’t going where he thought—“what?”
“jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi, earnest now, as he leans forward until their foreheads are resting together. “i want to be with you. properly—none of this stupid friends with benefits shit, no maybe seeing each other once in a while and only when it works for me. i want to be with you. i want you to be mine, forever.”
jeongguk swallows tightly, pulls back a little. his heart skips in his chest, once, twice—“are you asking me to marry you?”
“sure,” says yoongi. “be my boyfriend, be my husband, i don’t—fucking care, jeongguk, i just want you. really, truly, the way that i should have had you for the past five years. i can’t ask you to do this in between shit, so just don’t. just be with me, really.”
he leans back until he can see yoongi’s face properly, like maybe he’s not being serious. but what he sees in yoongi’s eyes is sincerity, and a bit of desperation, and so much love that he could drown in it. “but,” says jeongguk. “i thought—what about you being in seoul all of the time? if it couldn’t work before, how is it going to work now?”
“before, we didn’t put a label on it because we didn’t really know what we were doing,” says yoongi. “but we do know now. i mean—jeongguk-ah, i love you. and i want to be with you, and you told me that there was no point in doing this if we weren’t actually working toward something. so let’s work toward something, whatever it is. i’ll—tell my company that i’m with someone, and you won’t have to worry about dating rumours. and you won’t have to worry about me being with someone else here in seoul because i’m only with you. and once you graduate, we can figure something out, and i’ll make time to see you and we’ll figure it out. not this—one day we might be able to work. we’ll work right now.”
although jeongguk hyped himself up for the opposite, it’s like—there’s a weight lifted off of him. and he has no idea how this is going to work or how it’s going to be different, but. but. there’s no unknown, no uncertainty. yoongi wants to be his, without any reservations.
“so like… long distance?” asks jeongguk.
“yeah,” says yoongi, licking his lips. “for now. i’m not going to ask you to move to seoul for me, because i want you to be happy and do what you want, but we can—make it work like this, right? it might look the same, essentially, but it’ll be different for us. and that’s what happens, right? just knowing?”
jeongguk thinks… it won’t look different. he still won’t be able to tell his friends, and he’ll still be going to school in california while yoongi is flying around the world on tour. they’ll still have to communicate primarily by texting or calling or skyping each other, and they’ll only get to see each other in person once in a while, when it’s convenient or they have time.
but. yoongi has a point—it’ll look the same, but it won’t be. because jeongguk will know that yoongi is his, and he is yoongi’s. it’s a promise, concretely, that one day, they’ll be together the way they want to be. more than just a vague idea of it, or the hope of it. jeongguk doesn’t know anything about his future, but he can know this: yoongi. it was always yoongi, after all, from the very beginning.
“okay,” he whispers.
“yeah?” asks yoongi, breathless.
“yeah,” says jeongguk. “yeah, hyung—yes. okay. i love you. i want to be with you, too.” he thinks about—graduating, in only a year and a half. so much could happen in that time, but maybe he doesn’t have to be afraid of it, because he knows he’ll have yoongi. maybe he wants to go back to seoul if it’s for yoongi, anyway, without even having to be asked.
and yoongi’s responding grin is wide and wide, all gums and the sort of thing that he might save just for jeongguk, at least with that look in his eyes, too. he rolls a little, holding jeongguk’s face properly as he kisses him. “okay,” he whispers against jeongguk’s lips. “okay. i’m sorry for being shit for so long.”
“you weren’t,” jeongguk whispers back, kisses the side of yoongi’s mouth as he does so. “it’s just—scary.”
“we’ll figure it out,” says yoongi. “i’ll visit you as often as i can. and i’ll fly you here if you want, and it’ll just be you and me.” in a way, the future promise of it is what jeongguk always thought there was—the idea that maybe one day in the future, they would be more than just two people on different sides of an ocean, wanting to be together. but it’s more now. there’s still uncertainty, there’s still secrecy.
but it’s not about that anymore. and maybe it never should have been.
finally, jeongguk lets himself feel it: the relief, the love. everything that he’s felt for yoongi for five years, but five times over. or ten times, or a hundred—“i love you so much,” he whispers, kissing yoongi again and again, and he giggles a little, right into yoongi’s mouth. “i was ready to tell you that we didn’t have to be anything and i was ready to just let you go because i thought it would be for the best. but—i like this better.”
“really?” asks yoongi, pulling back slightly, and jeongguk chases after him, kissing him again.
“yeah,” he breathes. “i thought you were going to tell me that it was just easier not to be together.”
“i mean, it is easier. but i don’t care about easy.”
jeongguk finally—pauses. and looks at yoongi, at these eyes that have seen so much. his life is hectic and impossible, but he still wants to be with jeongguk. still wants to make it work, no matter how difficult it is—because that’s what love is, jeongguk decides: knowing that the road ahead will be difficult and thankless at times. but it’ll be worth it.
he giggles again. and yoongi kisses him and it feels like the first time. the last first.
later—“what do you think my friends would say if i told them i’m dating you?” asks jeongguk, mouth half full of whatever food yoongi ordered from the room service.
yoongi, sitting beside him, snorts. “i’d be more interested in knowing what they would say if i told them you were dating me,” he replies.
“i know you probably can’t, but i would pay you to do it. get them on facetime and drop a bomb on them.”
yoongi pauses with his chopsticks halfway to his mouth. and he looks at jeongguk, and he raises his eyebrows, and he says, “we shouldn’t, but… i kind of want to.”
jeongguk giggles. “maybe just a selfie? they wouldn’t know we’re actually together. just… two old friends catching up or something.” yoongi kisses him, even with his mouth full, and jeongguk thinks it’s obvious from the look on his face, but. he’s not sure how he could hide all of that love.
(taehyung says: WHAT THE FUCKKKKKKKK
jimin says: are you FUCKING kidding me you went to seoul to hang out with the min yoongi and you didn’t invite me
seokjin says: i knew you had a sugar daddy.
jeongguk says: you don’t know the half of it.
and they don’t. and they won’t. because this is one thing that jeongguk isn’t sharing, not with all of those fans, not with everyone who loves yoongi, too. this time, he doesn’t mind being a little selfish.)