Why don't you rest your fragile bones
A minute ago you looked alone
Stop waving your arms you're safe and dry
Breathe in and drink up the winter sky
Jimin is always going on about the importance of lists. Before every trip he's ever taken, even if it's just home to Busan for a weekend, he makes a packing list and checks it off in color pen. He has a list of assignments and due dates stuck to the fridge in their apartment with a parrot magnet his brother gave him during a family trip to Saipan. Right next to is the grocery list, kept in place by a heart magnet that was a joke valentine’s gift. Then below that is a list of important phone numbers, pinned down by a mini Eiffel Tower from when Jin-hyung spent a summer at a culinary school in Paris.
Jimin lives by lists, but they’ve never really been Taehyung’s thing. They feel too restrictive. Pressuring. Better to just live in the moment and if you forgot to buy milk at the grocery store because you didn’t write it down, well c’est la vie .
But who knows, maybe Jimin is on to something. (Don’t tell him that.) Maybe, if Taehyung had made a fucking list at the start of all of this, he wouldn’t be here: freezing his ass off in a train station in Norway.
So here’s a list now, because Jimin’s probably laughing at him back in Seoul, anyway.
Everything That Is Currently Terrible (In No Particular Order):
- There is an actual fucking blizzard happening outside.
- As a result, all the trains are stopped.
- By train station, he means railway shed, where their train has currently been stuck for the past three hours due to power being out.
- They’re still two hours out from Bergen and the airport, where there is a flight leaving in four hours that they’re supposed to be on.
- The conductor “doesn’t know when” the power will be back on.
- Another train was supposed to come along to help them, but that train’s engine is apparently out.
- It’s -10° C outside.
- It’s not much better inside because again, the power is out and with it the heating.
- The only thing to drink is cheap wine.
- It’s disgusting.
- He’s still had two glasses.
- Yoongi-hyung’s had five.
- Jungkook’s leg has been hurting for the last hour, but he keeps insisting he’s fine, even though the brace isn’t handling the exposure to the cold very well.
- He is currently wearing just about every article of clothing he owns and he still doesn’t feel warm enough.
- He hasn’t confessed to Jungkook yet.
That last one is a bit of an ongoing problem, but he’ll get into it later. Right now, their bottle of shitty wine is empty and Yoongi looks ready to commit either murder or suicide. Probably murder. Probably of Taehyung, since he’s the one who suggested they spend a weekend further north seeing the fjords and the Northern Lights.
“In my defense,” he says, slightly slurred because the wine is shit but more potent than expected (oops), “I didn’t know this was going to happen.”
“It’s fine,” Yoongi sighs, which is a huge lie, and Jungkook passes by on one of his limping walks up and down the train car.
Taehyung offered to go with him, but he just did that thing where he scrunched up his face in a silent expression of distaste and huffed off on his own with a quiet hiss. Taehyung can’t tell if it’s because Jungkook’s mad at him or if he’s embarrassed about his leg. It really could be either since Taehyung also accidentally left his bag at the hotel and made them miss their first train so they could go all the way back to get it. He would have written it off as a lost cause, but it had his camera in it and his camera is a) literally the only expensive thing he owns and b) his entire livelihood.
So back they went. And missed their train. And ended up on this one. Which got stuck in the middle of nowhere Norway. Because of the worst blizzard this region’s seen in four years, according to his barely functioning phone. Yay.
(And he still hasn’t confessed to Jungkook.)
“We’re going to miss our flight, aren’t we?” he asks Yoongi.
Yoongi rubs his temple and pulls his woolen beanie further down onto his head. His cheeks are flushed with wine, but the rest of him just looks miserably cold, even in his giant puffy jacket. He’s actually doing a great impression of a disgruntled cat. (Don’t tell him that.)
“Probably,” Yoongi says. “It doesn’t look like-”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” chimes the conductor’s voice from the speakers overhead in lightly accented English, “our deepest apologies for the delay. We are waiting for the arrival of a diesel train and are still working to locate the problem. Thank you for your patience.”
“We’re going to miss our flight,” Yoongi amends flatly and wobbles to his feet, grabbing one of the fuzzy blankets they’ve been provided with and draping it over his shoulders like a cape. That with the puffy coat turns him into a disgruntled penguin instead of a cat and Taehyung bites back a snort of laughter because then Yoongi might actually kill him.
“Where are you going, hyung?”
“To get more alcohol,” Yoongi mutters and shuffles off.
Taehyung might record a short video of the waddling shuffle to show to Namjoon, Jimin, Jin, and Hoseok later, but Yoongi doesn’t have to know that.
His phone battery is down to 15% though, which means he should probably conserve the remaining power and not try to get to level 3,000 in Candy Crush (he’s only two away, don’t look at him) like he wants to. Which means sitting here, contemplating life and making dumb lists, and ugh, he’s so bored. He forgot to add that to the Everything is Terrible list. He is so fucking bored.
The town of Finse that they’re stopped in is literally a few buildings and a shed, all of which are closed, and the world beyond the shed is just white white white as far as the eye can see. He already took a series of pouting selcas outside for Snapchat and posterity, and the book he brought to read stopped being interesting one hour and thirty pages ago. He’s tempted to say “fuck it” and go launch himself into a -10 snowdrift, but then he’s back to Yoongi killing him.
Fortunately, Jungkook chooses that moment to slide into the seat Yoongi just vacated, a grimace briefly twisting his features before dissipating. Taehyung knows better than to ask about the leg, so he opens with “chances of freezing to death here?”
“Forty percent,” Jungkook fires back after a moment of contemplation. “The sun’s going down so the temperature is gonna start dropping.”
“Then I’d put it at least sixty,” Taehyung argues.
“Either way, Yoongi-hyung’s going first.”
“Of course he is. He has literally no body fat. You’d be last. Because of all the muscles.”
Jungkook snorts, but some of the tension is bleeding out of him. “Nah, I’d lose my leg first and wouldn’t be able to move to stay warm. You’re our best chance of making it out alive, Tae. Tell the others what happened to us. Make it sound epic and not like we froze on a train in Finse, Norway because we wanted to see some fjords.”
“The fjords were very pretty, though,” Taehyung says.
“Yeah,” Jungkook admits. “And the Northern Lights were really cool. Worth the death.”
“They gave their lives for good pictures of the Northern Lights,” Taehyung intones and feels a familiar rush of warmth when Jungkook giggles. “We shall honor their sacrifice for years to come.”
Jungkook laughs again, his expression softening. “Thank you. And I’m sorry, for being huffy earlier. It’s just my stupid leg.”
“It’s okay. Is it bad?”
“A little,” Jungkook says, which means it’s close to excruciating. “I took some painkillers, though.”
Taehyung reaches out without thought (is always reaching for Jungkook) and takes Jungkook’s hand, threading their fingers together in a well-worn gesture. It’s better than words - they’ve never really needed those - and Jungkook squeezes back tight, holding on until Yoongi returns with another bottle of wine and grumbles at Jungkook to slide over and let him sit down.
Some Necessary Background on Jeon Jungkook (Especially in Relation to Kim Taehyung):
- He’s from Busan and moved to Seoul for college - a bunny-faced, wide-eyed freshman who had the most infectious laugh and muscles that made Taehyung want to die.
- Taehyung and Jimin have been inseparable since 8th Grade, but Jungkook slotted into their lives like he’d always been there. One moment he was shaking their hands - the third member of their crowded first year dorm room - and then the next Taehyung couldn’t remember what the world had been like without him in it.
- Like Jimin, he was a dancer and God the way he moved - power and grace and sex appeal all wrapped up in one devastating package designed to ruin Taehyung’s life.
- They share a mutual love for photography and anime and superheroes and video games. Have clocked in far too many hours playing Overwatch or trying to metaphorically murder each other in Mario Kart.
- Half of his camera roll are pictures of Jungkook. It’s been that way for three and a half years.
- It’s not his fault, really. Jungkook is fucking gorgeous. The muscles, eyes with fucking galaxies in them, hair that always seems artfully messy, a smile that scrunches up his whole face and shows off his adorable bunny teeth - even the scar on his cheek is perfect. Taehyung is just appreciative of aesthetic beauty when he sees it, okay?
- What’s really gorgeous about Jungkook though is how fucking kind he is - never a mean word about anyone, except maybe himself (which breaks Taehyung’s heart). He’s not big on words, especially emotional ones, but he brought Taehyung coffee in the studio every morning last semester because he knew Taehyung was stressed about his final project - even though the fine arts building is on the exact opposite end of campus from Jungkook’s first class. He’s gone to every single one of Hoseok and Jimin’s dance showcases, even though he can no longer participate in them. He dropped everything to help Yoongi record a track for his portfolio, even though he had a ton of work on his own plate. He helps Namjoon practice English, even when the vocabulary is way over his head. He tests every single one of Seokjin’s recipes, no matter how weird or experimental.
- Everyone fucking loves Jungkook, Taehyung isn’t special.
- Except he doesn’t think anyone else wants to kiss Jungkook as badly as he does.
- Whoops, he’s getting off track. Back to the list: he was going to try to apply to a dance company with Jimin after graduation, but then The Accident happened (capital letters absolutely required) two springs ago and all those dreams were shattered when a doctor announced that Jungkook had permanent nerve damage in his leg.
- Jungkook came out alive, but with a brace that he needs to walk, a near crippling fear of cars, and new plans for his future.
- Taehyung also somehow came out alive - survived getting the phone call in the middle of an evening class; survived seeing Jungkook hooked up to a thousand machines and listening to medical staff talk about surgery and how slim the chances of recovery were; survived watching Jungkook battle his way through physical therapy with gritted teeth and a whole lot of anger and tears he didn’t want anyone to see - but he’s so much more afraid than he used to be. Everyone thinks they’re invincible at nineteen, until the Universe brutally corrects them.
- Those new plans of Jungkook’s may include grad school for film in Los Angeles. Which, by Taehyung’s calculations and a frantic 1am Naver search, is a distance of 5,953 miles. The fastest flight there is still a whopping thirteen hours.
- He hasn’t asked Taehyung to come with him.
- Taehyung’s been sickeningly, non-platonically, head-over-fucking-heels in love with Jungkook for almost three and a half years.
- And he’s never told him.
- He doesn’t know how.
- Because, really, he can’t lose Jungkook twice. He doesn’t know how anyone’s expected to survive that.
The mysterious diesel train (which Taehyung was beginning to think wasn’t real and was actually just the conductor’s way of bullshitting them to keep them from rioting) arrives at 8:30pm. Everyone cheers like soldiers in a war welcoming reinforcements to a battlefield. Taehyung even leans out the window and enthusiastically waves, earning a laugh from the assistant conductor. They’ve been stuck here for eight hours, though, so Taehyung thinks he’s entitled to a little melodrama. He’s tired and hungry and fucking freezing and they missed their flight two hours ago.
“Thank god,” Yoongi mutters, slumped over onto Jungkook’s shoulder. Jungkook pats him sympathetically on the head - they all know how Yoongi feels about the cold (and the heat, and any other form of extreme weather).
The diesel train, the conductor informs them cheerfully, is going to literally push them until the power kicks back in and they can continue on to Myrdal. From Myrdal, it’s still gonna be another two hours to Bergen - expected arrival time is 10:30pm. Whoop.
“We’ll have to get a hotel,” Yoongi announces, rousing himself once the train starts to move and sinking rapidly into Planning Mode. Taehyung really loves Planning Mode, because it’s also Problem Solving Mode, and Min Yoongi on a mission is a near-unstoppable force. He’s probably the only reason Jungkook and Taehyung have survived the past three weeks traipsing around Europe. His English is the best and he actually knows how to budget money and he is an expert at phone Naver searches.
(Really the only reason anyone allowed Jungkook and Taehyung to go was because Yoongi said he’d come along.)
“There’s one not far from the station. We can catch a bus to the airport in the morning and see if we can get on a new flight.”
“We need to call our families, too,” Jungkook mutters, peering out the window into the white darkness beyond.
Right, that’s another thing he forgot to put on the list: it is Christmas in exactly three days. Tomorrow, it will be Christmas in exactly two days. And if they can’t get a flight back, they’ll be spending it in Bergen, and Taehyung knows for a fact his parents will be furious and heartbroken over this fact. He’s always home for Christmas. He doesn’t even want to think about how disappointed his siblings would be.
“And Hoseok,” Yoongi says. “Fuck, I really need to call Hoseok.”
Hoseok, who’s on his own trip with some childhood friends and is supposed to meet up with them in Amsterdam for the rest of the flight back to Seoul. He’s also Yoongi’s boyfriend of nearly five years (don’t ask Taehyung how that happened, talk about an odd couple) and tends to worry about Yoongi more than necessary sometimes (which is totally valid, Min Yoongi is not the best at taking care of himself) so he must be losing his damn mind.
“He’s gonna kill you,” Jungkook points out.
“I’ll just tell him it was Taehyung’s fault,” Yoongi says.
“Ouch, hyung,” Taehyung says, wondering if Yoongi means it.
The toe of Yoongi’s boot nudges his shin beneath the table - a silent calm down, brat - and right, of course Yoongi doesn’t mean it. For a long time, Taehyung was convinced that Yoongi hated his guts because he was cold and sharp and often looked at Taehyung like he was an alien creature (which really has never made sense, since he’s dating Hoseok ). But then they had a ridiculously difficult photography class together the second semester of Taehyung’s freshmen year, got spectacularly drunk to cope with their stress, and Taehyung learned that Yoongi is just anxious and not very good with people and didn’t know what to do with all of Taehyung’s friendliness. And honestly that was the start of a beautiful bond (even if Yoongi rolls his eyes whenever Taehyung says that). Beyond graduation and through his military service and then landing an assistant professor position back at the university, Yoongi’s remained a VIP in Taehyung’s life. There are many reasons why Taehyung asked him along on this trip, but the main one is that Yoongi’s always looked out for him, in his own quiet way.
( He might be going with Jungkook to LA and Taehyung really doesn’t want to think about losing them both at once.)
“It was the weather’s fault,” Jungkook says, dragging Taehyung back into the conversation. “Blame winter.”
“It’s a vengeful season,” Taehyung agrees.
“Yeah, especially towards me,” Yoongi says with a sigh.
Suddenly, there’s a muffled whir and the lights overhead flicker back on.
“Power’s back,” Jungkook says. “Thank god.”
On the table, Yoongi’s phone - once again connected to wi-fi - starts buzzing like a bee having a seizure.
Yoongi grimaces and scoops it up, texting furiously.
“How far into his breakdown is Hoseok-hyung?” Taehyung asks, because Hoseok gets stressed when traveling and the stress just heightens the worry.
“He’s threatening to contact Interpol,” Yoongi grumbles, and then sighs and just presses the call button. Hoseok picks up on the second ring and Taehyung winces at the loud burst of cursing that explodes from Yoongi’s speakers before he presses the phone to his ear. “Hey,” he says. “Hey, I’m fine, Hope-ah. We’re okay. There was just a blizzard and our train got stuck. We’re about an hour out from Bergen. Gonna try to catch a flight tomorrow. You can-” A pause. “Are you sure? I don’t want you to … okay. Okay, see you there.” A longer pause, then a muttered, “I love you, too,” because Yoongi will always suck a little bit at feelings, for all that he’s a fucking marshmallow beneath his cool exterior.
He hangs up the call with a sigh. “Hoseok’s waiting for us in Amsterdam.”
(Probably because he’s a) whipped for Yoongi and doesn’t want to leave him behind and b) a nervous flyer who hates traveling alone.)
“He officially hates us, though,” Yoongi continues. “For giving him nearly seven heart attacks.”
“Fair,” Jungkook agrees and picks up his own phone. He absolutely hates texting, but because of that big heart Taehyung mentioned, he’s going to get over his aversion long enough to send apologies and reassurances of his own to Hoseok.
(Jungkook fucking loves all of them, Taehyung isn’t special.)
Through Yoongi’s amazing negotiating skills, they manage to land a penthouse room at a hotel only a few blocks from the train station in Bergen - with a bus stop to the airport right out front, too. There’s only one bed, but it’s a king and none of them are shy. The bathroom also looks like something from the USS Enterprise and now that he’s free from the Hell Train, showered, and in his warm pajamas, the panic returns full force.
“I still haven’t confessed to Jungkook,” he hisses to Yoongi as they brush their teeth side by side in front of the gargantuan mirror. Jungkook, the man in question, is currently undoing his leg brace in the main room, and that’s usually an act that requires privacy.
“I know,” Yoongi says through a mouthful of toothpaste. “I’ve been here. Witnessing this disaster unfold in real time.”
“What do I do?” Taehyung presses because oh god they’re going to be back in Korea in a day or so and then Jungkook is going to fuck off to Busan for the holidays and probably decide whether or not he’s going to LA next year. And then Taehyung is officially going to lose him forever because they both would suck at long distance and LA is full of beautiful and interesting people who would make it easy to forget boring old Taehyung back in Seoul.
Yoongi spits into the sink and then gives Taehyung a very long-suffering look in the mirror. “Confess to him,” he deadpans. “Like you’ve been planning to.”
“But what if it ruins everything? What if he hates me after that?”
Yoongi snorts. “That isn’t going to happen.”
“Says you, in a healthy and long-term relationship.”
“Which only happened because Hoseok told me he liked me. ”
“But how do you know he isn’t going to run screaming for the hills?”
Yoongi sighs. “Because I know him. He won’t. Just tell him. ”
“It’s not that simple.”
“Yes, it is. You’re just making it complicated.”
Which, okay, that might be true, but. But this is Jungkook, the Most Important Person in his life. This is Jungkook, who understands Taehyung’s weird humor and always offers the best advice when Taehyung breaks down his door at two in the morning in the middle of a personal crisis. This is Jungkook, who has never shown an interest in Taehyung beyond a best friend.
This is Jungkook, and Taehyung never stood a chance. Can’t imagine living without him, even if he knows, logically, that’s probably co-dependent and unhealthy.
This is Jungkook, and Taehyung will shove all his love inside into a lockbox, never to be seen again, if it means keeping him.
Some of this internal war must play across his face because Yoongi sighs and squeezes his shoulder. “He won’t say no. But it’s up to you, kid. I’m going the fuck to bed.”
Taehyung rinses out his mouth and tries to picture it: just marching out there and confessing to Jungkook. Maybe even getting on one knee to drive the point home and because he’s always believed romantic flair is important during declarations of love.
I’ve loved you forever, for what feels like twenty years, please date me and don’t go to LA without me?
He imagines Jungkook gaping at him. Stammering out, oh thanks, man, that’s really sweet of you but I definitely don’t like you like that. At all. Ever. And I’m definitely going to LA now. By myself. Good-bye forever.
Nope, try again. This time Jungkook smiles - that amazing one that is lopsided and soft and creases the corners of his eyes - and says, oh my god Taehyung I’ve loved you forever, too. I’m so in love with you, let’s date and move to LA and get married and live happily ever after.
That could happen, right? Even though Jungkook has dated people in the past and always been up front when he likes someone and has never said a goddamn word about any potential non-platonic feels towards Taehyung. Maybe he’s nervous, too. Maybe that’s it.
Okay, he can do this. He can totally do this. He’ll just march out there and confess and it will finally be over with, whatever happens after.
Only, when he emerges from the bathroom, Jungkook’s name on his lips, Jungkook is passed out in bed, dead asleep with his face buried in the pillows. He probably took something to knock himself out since he’s been in literal pain all day and fuck, Taehyung’s selfish, isn’t he?
He ruthlessly tamps out the disappointment rising in his gut and creeps over to the bed, peeling back the layers of covers so he can slot in next to Jungkook. Yoongi, on the far side, already looks dead to the world, as well. Taehyung sighs quietly and fixes the duvet back over himself, curling instinctively into Jungkook’s side. Jungkook grunts in his sleep and shifts closer, throwing an arm over Taehyung’s waist. It’s happened literally a hundred times over the course of their friendship, but Taehyung still gets a giddy rush in the pit of his stomach at the feel of Jungkook burrowed into him, holding on tight.
so has it happened yet?
i’m sleeping, fuck off
are not. you can never sleep in a hotel the first night
of course not. would’ve told you if it had
they’re still dancing around each other
taehyung keeps chickening out
so does jungkook.
and I have to deal with both of them
they’ve had six separate meltdowns on this trip, seok-ah
i’m tired of this
i want to live my life in peace
i want to lock them in a room until they get over themselves
maybe you should?
don’t tempt me
at least we were never this bad
nope, thank god for the fact that I’m not a coward, right?
i’m still the one that agreed to a second date
after the epic disaster that was the first one
thank you for that
also I miss you
just. putting that out there
miss you a lot
we’ve been apart for 2 weeks
during military service we saw each other like once a month for 2 years
but fine i miss you too
i don’t want to keep dealing with the brats on my own
save me, seok-ah
make it to Amsterdam and i will <3
<3 <3 <3
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
ugh we’re gross
go to sleep
talk to you in the morning
talk to you then babe
love you. <3
Everything about Jungkook is adorable in the mornings. The bedhead, the squinting gaze as he struggles to focus, the rasping groans of protest at the light coming in through the curtains or Taehyung shaking him. He tends to sleep like the dead, too, but Taehyung is an expert after three and a half years of living together and having to intervene when Jungkook inevitably sleeps past his alarms and they blare through the apartment on an endless loop.
This morning, he didn’t set an alarm, but he’s still a blanket burrito even after the three Yoongi did. And Yoongi, who didn’t sleep through his alarms and is now up and dressed, is shooting Taehyung increasingly impatient looks. So Taehyung employs his patented Wake Up Jeon Jungkook Method: he leans over and blows as hard as he can right in Jungkook’s ear.
Jungkook jerks and whines in protest, but his eyes are open and he’s sitting up.
“And he’s alive!” Taehyung exclaims, squishing Jungkook’s cheeks between his palms just to make Jungkook grunt again. “It’s a miracle!”
“Fuck off,” Jungkook mutters, swaying slightly.
“Nope, up and at ‘em. We have buses and planes to catch, c’mon.”
Jungkook sighs deeply, but scrubs a hand over his face and cracks his neck, which means he has officially committed to waking up and Taehyung’s job is done. So he pries himself away from Jungkook and heads into the fancy bathroom to get dressed. He’s always liked fashion - liked making a statement with his clothes, even though he’s a broke college student and that statement is usually just hand-painted designs on the backs of cheap jackets - but during travel comfort reins supreme. So it’s the softest jeans he owns and a hoodie you could probably literally drown in over a long-sleeved shirt he won in a contest freshman year, and he’s good to go.
When he reemerges Jungkook is also dressed and Yoongi is helping him put his brace on. It’s a relatively simple contraption that runs from the bottom of his foot all the way up his leg to his upper thigh. There’s a hinge by the knee and two metal rods on either side of his leg and then just a lot of straps that need adjusting.
Jungkook’s a pro at it now, but sometimes - after bad days - Yoongi or one of the others gets a little protective and offers to help. Jungkook’s accepted it from all of them but Taehyung, and Taehyung tries hard not to worry about what that might mean.
“Okay,” Yoongi says from where he’s kneeling on the floor, fiddling with one of the straps at mid-calf level, “I think we’re good.”
“Thanks, hyung,” Jungkook says, squeezing Yoongi’s shoulder.
Yoongi pats Jungkook’s jean-clad knee. “Any time, kid.”
(He’s always been the softest towards Jungkook and Taehyung’s never blamed him for that.)
He stands with a sigh and glances over to where Taehyung is still lingering by the bathroom door. “Ready? The next bus leaves in fifteen minutes.”
“I’m ready,” Taehyung says. He even triple checked that he’s packed everything and all of his bags are accounted for and either on or near his person.
“Ready,” Jungkook says, levering himself upright using the bedside table. He’s got a collapsible cane in the side pocket of his backpack but he's only touched it once the whole trip. Probably wouldn’t have even brought it, if Taehyung hadn’t insisted.
“Then let’s go,” Yoongi says and marches for the door like he’s leading a battalion instead of two still-sleepy college students. “Onward.”
Facts About The Accident (Which Taehyung Still Hates Discussing but is Relevant):
- It happened the second semester of their sophomore year. At 8:17pm on a normal Wednesday evening.
- According to the official report, a car hit Jungkook in the middle of a crosswalk just off campus. Jungkook was on his way to dance practice and running late, so he stepped into the road without double checking. Meanwhile, the driver was drunk and going nearly twenty kilometers per hour above the posted speed limit. He fled the scene, leaving a shocked bystander to call an ambulance.
- Jungkook’s right leg was shattered, along with most of his ribs. It’s a miracle, some of the doctors said, that he survived and wasn’t paralyzed. Or didn’t lose his leg completely. The leg in question, because of the nerve damage, isn’t strong enough to support Jungkook’s weight, even with the rods put in place to get the bones to heal. There was too much broken. So a brace was the best solution.
- The sight of Jungkook in a hospital bed - battered and bruised and surrounded by beeping machines - still haunts Taehyung. Jungkook’s mother cried for three days, refusing to move from her son’s side, while Taehyung and the rest of their friend group rotated in a ceaseless vigil, working time at the hospital in between classes and projects.
- Taehyung hated that life just kept moving, when it felt like everything inside of him had stopped.
- The first time Jungkook woke up after surgery and was lucid enough to recognize people, Taehyung sobbed uncontrollably and then couldn’t stop for the next hour. (“Don’t cry,” Jungkook muttered, still barely conscious, and managed to pat Taehyung’s head. “Shh, don’t cry, please.” This only made Taehyung cry harder.)
- Physical therapy was brutal, but Jungkook threw himself in with everything he had. Refused to quit even when he was shaking and pain seemed to thrum through every line in his body. And God, Taehyung was in awe of him, then. Could only think, watching Jungkook pick himself up for the thousandth time: this is the strongest person I know.
- It was the end of Jungkook’s career in dance and most of his dreams and plans for the future. Even with physical therapy, his leg wasn’t strong enough. Would never be. After he got that news, Jungkook locked himself in his bedroom for two days. Until Taehyung and Jimin, increasingly worried, climbed in through his window, taking advantage of the latch that hadn’t closed properly since they moved in.
- They found him in the middle of his bed, curled up in a ball, and crawled in with him. Held him close and assured him they weren’t going anywhere and he would be amazing at whatever he decided to do next - their golden boy.
- He returned slowly after that, to the land of the living. Started eating meals with them around their beat-up kitchen table and cooking like he used to - weight carefully taken off the bad leg. His lists filled the fridge next to Jimin’s and he went back to class after nearly two months of independent study, just in time for the end of the semester.
- He announced, shyly, that he was switching his focus to film and going to stay in Seoul to take summer classes and catch up so he could graduate on time. Jimin and Taehyung offered to stay, too, and that was that. They were moving forward again.
- The leg still hurts sometimes. Jungkook has a little bottle of bills that he carries with him everywhere, to help with the pain. He doesn’t like to talk about it, doesn’t like to seem weak, but Taehyung knows him well enough to spot the bad days and tries his best to help in subtle ways. Like buying Jungkook’s favorite coffee (salted caramel frappuccino if it’s warm and cinnamon hot chocolate if it’s cold) or walking with him to class or distracting him with video games or sometimes even roping him into a cuddling-and-dramas-session on the couch.
- Taehyung was in love with him, before The Accident. Even had plans to tell him. But then Jungkook nearly slipped through his fingers and everything was so hard for months - days full of fear and frustration and heartbreak. No time seemed like the right one. Suddenly, all of Taehyung’s love felt selfish.
- But Jungkook is better now, nearly two years later. He’s smiling again and laughing again and loves his film studies and the bad days come less often - barely at all. Plus, all this love is just spilling over. Seeping out the sides of the box Taehyung tried to lock it in, flooding the inside of his chest. Soon, he thinks it’s going to start bleeding through his skin and his eyes and he won’t be able to hide it anymore. Even Jungkook will be able to see.
- The fear from The Accident lingers, next to the love. And every time Taehyung opens his mouth to confess, a stupid voice asks what if you lose him? What if you lose him for real this time?
- He can’t compete with the voice, the fear. It shuts him up every time.
At the airport, Yoongi spends nearly half an hour at the information kiosk, trying to get them spots on another flight. Since it’s now T-minus two days until Christmas, Taehyung isn’t surprised at all that he’s striking out. This is probably their fault for cutting it so close. They should have headed home earlier in the week, but they wanted to get as much out of the trip as they could. Who knows when they’ll be back here? If ever?
He texts his parents to let them know that there was a delay (which he should have done yesterday, but forgot. Oops.) and reassure them that he’ll be home for Christmas, somehow. Jungkook also looks deep in some kind of conversation - brow furrowed and teeth worrying his lower lip - but Taehyung doubts it's his family. All of the Jeons are terrible at texting, it’s like a genetic trait, and he spoke to them at the hotel last night like the good son he is.
“Everything okay?” Taehyung asks, because Jungkook’s teeth are really sinking in deep there.
Jungkook’s head jerks up so fast Taehyung’s pretty sure he hears his neck crack and he blinks at Taehyung with wide, startled eyes. “Oh, uh, yeah.” Wait, is he blushing? “I’m just texting Jimin-hyung.”
Taehyung struggles to wrap his head around this. “You’re … texting Jimin? Voluntarily?”
Jungkook shrugs. “He’s been worried.”
Taehyung doubts that’s it, because Jungkook’s face is definitely red, but they’re all tired and Yoongi is still arguing with the lady behind the information kiosk - it looks like he’s resorted to the translation app on his phone - so Taehyung lets it slide. He’ll just interrogate Jimin later, anyway. For now, he settles carefully in Jungkook’s lap, which is far superior to the uncomfortable airport chairs in every way.
Jungkook makes a strange choking noise, though, and Tae stiffens. “Shit, I’m sorry I wasn’t thinking. Your leg-”
“Is fine,” Jungkook insists, apparently recovering. An arm winds around Taehyung’s waist before he can get up. “My leg’s fine. I’m fine. Stay.”
And well, who is Taehyung to argue with that?
“M’kay. But you’ll tell me, right?”
“If it gets to be too much, I’ll just shove you off,” Jungkook says, hooking his chin on Taehyung’s shoulder. (Which does not make butterflies swirl around in Taehyung’s stomach, shut up.)
“What are the odds Yoongi-hyung wins that argument?” Jungkook asks, glancing to where Yoongi is showing his phone to the very harried-looking woman behind the kiosk.
“Eighty percent,” Taehyung decides.
“I was gonna say ninety. No one’s more stubborn than Yoongi-hyung.”
“True. I feel bad for that woman.”
“Me too. But I also want to go home.”
Taehyung swallows through the sudden lump in his throat. Because while he misses Seoul and his apartment and Jimin and the others, he very much doesn’t want to go home yet. Home means Jungkook’s decision, which may be to walk out of his life forever.
“Yeah,” is all he says. “Me too.”
His tone falls a little flatter than he meant it to and he ignores the odd look Jungkook gives him in favor of people watching. It’s really the only good thing about the airport, getting to see people of all walks of life on various journeys. If he closes his eyes and focuses, he bets that he can pick up at least half a dozen languages around them. The myriad of strangers - a Muslim family with two toddlers a few seats over from them; a girl with beautiful floral tattoos checking her phone across the lounge; a man talking on the phone in what sounds like French as he paces between the rows of seats; another man with multiple piercings looking at pictures on his camera; the two women holding hands across the seat divider - always make him itch for his camera or sketchbook. People fascinate him and capturing their essence is one of his favorite parts of photography and painting. If he could condense them down into a single moment, how would that look?
What moment would he choose for himself? He’s never been able to decide.
And for Jungkook? That’s even harder.
what was Kookie texting you about?
hi to you too. glad you’re alive
thanks for informing your best friend that you missed your flight
my phone died!
and then I forgot
but I’m sorry
and I have gifts from europe?
what kind of gifts?
i'm not ruining the surprise
but they’re good
you’ll love them
ask him about it
he won’t tell me. :(((
then i won’t tell you either
but you’re my best friend…
nope not happening
i’m not a snitch
get it out of kook if you’re dying to know
speaking of which…
i guess Operation: Confess True Love hasn’t been a success?
i never agreed to call it that
and no, it hasn’t
i’m a coward
it’s still a long way to Korea
i’m not confessing in an AIRPORT
or on a plane
tae, I don’t think jungkook would care
IT NEEDS TO BE ROMANTIC
WE TALKED ABOUT THIS
jeon jungkook wouldn’t know romance if it him over the head with a rose bouquet
JUST TELL HIM TAEHYUNG
I REFUSE TO KEEP LIVING LIKE THIS
IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR PINING
YOU TWO ARE INSUFFERABLE
ugh never mind
i’m too ace for this
JUST TALK TO HIM
BE A MAN
CONFESS YOUR INCREDIBLY GAY AND NON-PLATONIC FEELINGS
I’M WORKING ON IT
YOU CAN’T RUSH ART
… that doesn’t even make sense
i'm done texting now
this was a mistake
you can’t see it
but i want you to know
from the bottom of my heart
that i am rolling my eyes at you so hard right now
“So I have good news and I have bad news,” says Yoongi when he finally returns to them, looking like he’s aged five years and been through a war.
“Good news first,” Taehyung demands because god knows they need it.
“We have a flight to Korea.”
“And the bad news?” Jungkook asks, sitting up from where he’d been napping on Taehyung’s shoulder.
“We have to stop in Copenhagen before going on to Amsterdam and then we have another layover in Hong Kong.”
That’s … a lot of stops. “Are we gonna make it in time?”
Yoongi rubs his temple. “Maybe? If nothing goes wrong we’ll land on Christmas Eve, before the last trains home.”
If nothing goes wrong, and judging from their current luck, he’s not sure the Universe is going to be that kind to them. There’s really no other options, though, barring one of them spontaneously developing the ability to teleport and/or fly.
“Guess we really don’t have a choice,” Jungkook says, already shouldering his backpack.
“We don’t,” Yoongi agrees. “And we need to hurry. Boarding’s starting in ten minutes.”
“Fuck,” Taehyung yelps and explodes into motion.
They make it on the plane, even though they’re literally the last ones to board. It’s a little under two hours to Amsterdam and because of their last minute tickets, none of them are sitting together. Taehyung’s crammed up against the window while the man in the middle seat decides to just sprawl everywhere like he owns the place. The poor women leaning out into the aisle glances at Taehyung in miserable commiseration over Sprawler’s obliviousness to the idea of sharing space and the god awful cologne he’s wearing. It literally smells like he emptied an entire can of Axe Body Spray over himself right before sitting down.
At least Jungkook, two rows down, seems to be doing better. He’s got an aisle seat so he can stretch out his bad leg and the little old lady next to him is trying to carry on a conversation in German. Jungkook is smiling and nodding along, though, because he’s the best person.
Taehyung tries to breathe through his mouth and resigns himself to a long flight. His headphones are also tangled somewhere at the bottom of his bag and Sprawler glares if he even so much as shifts too much in his seat, meaning there is nothing to distract him from all these Thoughts. Mainly, numerous scenarios of Jungkook getting on a different plane to LA and promising to call - and maybe he will, for a while, but then he’ll make new friends, because everyone loves him, and he’ll meet someone he wants to date and the calls will start happening once a month and then once every six months and then they probably won’t see or speak to each other for years. Until they meet awkwardly at some kind of reunion (because Jin would definitely plan those) and sudden there’s half a decade of emptiness between them and they don’t have anything to talk about. Probably in this scenario, Jungkook will bring his significant other to the fictional reunion and that person will be Gorgeous and Lovely while Taehyung is still living in a cramped apartment with his camera and the seven cats and two dogs he’s adopted.
It’ll be awful.
And he might be panicking a little. He can’t tell if it’s the cramped space or if he’s slowly suffocating on Sprawler’s cologne or if he’s legitimately about to have an anxiety attack imagining Jungkook announcing his engagement to this fictional partner at a fictional reunion and poor future Taehyung locking himself in the bathroom to have a good cry.
Actually, the bathroom sounds like a good idea.
He unbuckles his seatbelt with shaking fingers and ignores Sprawler’s angry huffing as he crawls over the man’s stupidly long legs and much more apologetically over the young woman’s on his way to the freedom of the aisle. Jungkook is looking at pictures on the old lady’s phone but Taehyung still keeps his head down as he makes his way past to the bathroom. It’s unoccupied, thankfully, and he flops down on the small toilet and breathes into his hands, trying to use the exercises Jimin showed him when attempting to teach him how to meditate. (A disastrous effort, all together. Taehyung sucks at both clearing his mind and sitting still for long periods at a time.)
This is so stupid. He’s being a complete idiot, but he doesn’t know how to stop. How to go out there and just say it.
A knock on the door. Three quick raps.
“Occupied,” Taehyung manages to call out.
“Kid, it’s me,” a familiar voice says and ah, guess he wasn’t as subtle as he thought.
He shuffles over to the door and unlatches it, letting Yoongi squeeze inside. He’s got a face mask tucked under his chin and his blue beanie pulled low over his dark hair and he sighs as he locks the door again.
“The airline might jump to conclusions,” Taehyung blurts before he can stop himself.
Yoongi arches an eyebrow. “Are you planning on making sex noises or something?”
“Then I think we’re fine. And if they do, who cares.” Yoongi’s expression softens. “You okay?”
“No,” Taehyung mutters, because if Yoongi’s here it means he already knows, anyway. Denial is pointless. “Not really. I’m just being a sentimental idiot.”
Yoongi sighs again and flicks Taehyung’s forehead, gentle. “Only I’m allowed to call you that, Taehyung-ah, and only because I don’t mean it. Do you need a hug?”
“Yes,” Taehyung says immediately. Yoongi hugs are very rare and Taehyung’s favorite. Yoongi’s tiny and a little on the bony side, but he’s also solid and warm and so good at holding Taehyung up when he feels as though he’s crumbling inside like a dilapidated building.
Yoongi shifts closer and wraps his arms around Taehyung. Lets Taehyung bury his face in his neck and rocks them back and forth slowly - a soothing, swaying motion that drains the anxiety away in steady increments.
“I know you don’t believe me,” Yoongi murmurs after a few moments of comfortable silence, “but that stupid boy out there loves you. A hell of a lot. A disgusting amount. He won’t be mad if you tell him how you feel. I think he’ll be more upset if you don’t.”
“I’m scared,” Taehyung whispers, fisting his hands in the back of Yoongi’s hoodie. “I’m really scared, hyung.”
“Of course,” Yoongi says. “Love is fucking terrifying. But it’s worth it.”
“You really think so?”
Yoongi pulls back and squeezes Taehyung’s shoulders tight. “I know so,” he says and then grimaces, like he can’t believe how sappy he’s being. “From experience.”
“I’ll work on it,” Taehyung decides, which is pretty much all he can offer right now.
“You’ve been working on it,” Yoongi points out, blunt without being harsh. “You’re running out of time, Taehyung-ah.”
“I know that,” Taehyung insists. He can hear the clock ticking in the back of his head - has been able to for the past three weeks. “I’ll … I’ll get there, I promise.”
“Don’t promise me,” Yoongi huffs with a smile. “I’m just an innocent bystander caught up in this mess.”
“I promise myself,” Taehyung amends and Yoongi’s smile widens.
“There you go.”
Thank you, Taehyung doesn’t quite know how to say. Him and Yoongi have never been the best at emotional conversations unless alcohol’s involved or they’re conducting them over text. So he settles for: “can we hug some more?”
“I guess,” Yoongi grumbles and pulls him in close again.
If he could choose a moment to distill Jungkook down to, maybe it would be this: their third night in the dorm, when they snuck in bottles of soju and decided to play a drinking game. Jungkook’s several shots in and his cheeks are flushed and his eyes are extra sparkly and he’s laughing with his whole body, folding in on himself from the force of it. It’s the freest Taehyung’s seen him - finally unchained from the polite anxiety he’s been displaying for the past seventy-two hours, in spite of Jimin’s constant efforts to get him to relax.
His laugh is loud and cackling and scrunches up his nose and squishes his eyes nearly closed and it’s a beautiful sound.
A beautiful sound. A beautiful boy.
Taehyung’s already falling.
Hoseok is waiting for them at the gate in Schiphol, practically vibrating in place. Yoongi moves towards him like an electron caught in Hoseok’s magnetic field, slotting perfectly into his arms.
“I missed you,” Hoseok says, looking as though he wants to wrap his entire body around Yoongi and maybe meld their skin together to keep from separating.
Yoongi makes a disgruntled choking noise, which means he missed Hoseok just as much, and presses a kiss to the side of Hoseok’s neck.
“They’re disgusting,” Jungkook mutters, but he sounds more wistful than put out. Taehyung gets it - Yoongi and Hoseok are fucking perfect together and have been as long as Taehyung’s known them.
He still yells, “get a room!” when Hoseok kisses Yoongi properly, but that’s just so he can laugh at Yoongi flipping him off without disconnecting his mouth from Hoseok’s.
“C’mon,” he says to Jungkook. “Let’s ditch the lovebirds.”
“Amen,” Jungkook mutters and then loops his arm through Taehyung’s. He doesn’t do it very often - usually when his leg is stiff and he wants help with balance - but Taehyung shivers every time and this is no exception.
He tucks Jungkook into his side, taking some of Jungkook’s weight, and they shuffle off in search of coffee and decent food. They’re only a third of the way through their journey, if that, and Taehyung already feels like he’s been traveling a decade.
“Two decades,” Jungkook says when Taehyung tells him as much. “We’ll be old men by the time we return to Korea. Gray hair and everything.”
“Will you actually use your cane, then?” Taehyung teases.
Jungkook shakes his head, a familiar, stubborn clench to his jaw. “Nope. If I have to, I’m getting a wheelchair, then. You can race people better in wheelchairs.”
“Who would you race?”
Taehyung cackles at that mental image - harried airport security chasing a laughing, wheelchair-bound Jungkook through the terminal - and squeezes Jungkook’s arm. “You’d win.”
“Definitely.” Jungkook grins at him, lopsided and scrunchy and breathtaking.
Tell him, says a voice in his head that sounds a lot like Yoongi.
He opens his mouth. Feels butterflies in his throat.
“Oh my god,” Jungkook says, looking somewhere over Taehyung’s shoulder and face lighting up like a kid, “they have a pancake place. Tae, let’s get pancakes.”
The words die fast and violent. “O-okay,” he says.
Jungkook shifts and takes his hand instead of his arm, threading their fingers together and pulling Taehyung across the terminal towards the pancake house.
He still has time, he reminds himself, as Jungkook guides them to a table, chattering about the fact that they apparently have pancakes with bacon cooked into them here and he’s ordering at least five. He still has time.
They’ve been planning this trip forever, since freshman year. The summer after they graduated, they were finally going to tour Europe - Paris, Italy, Scandinavia, everything on his, Jimin’s, and Jungkook’s bucket lists. Life has a way of throwing unexpected hurdles, though. In this case, The Accident, rising travel costs, and then Jungkook potentially moving to LA the summer after graduation. So, it was decided that the Grand European Tour would happen over their winter break instead of the summer. And then Jimin landed a position in a highly prestigious holiday dance showcase and decided to bail on the trip with many apologies, leaving Taehyung and Jungkook on their own. They asked Yoongi if he wanted Jimin’s ticket and he said yes and so off they went.
And Taehyung had a Plan. He’d hashed out with Jimin multiple times beforehand, even though Plans really aren’t his thing.
The Plan was simple and went as follows:
Step 1: get Jungkook alone for an evening
Step 2: find a suitably romantic location
Step 3: confess deeply non-platonic feelings to Jungkook
Only, he forgot to factor in one important detail when developing The Plan…
...he’s a fucking coward.
A List of Places Where Kim Taehyung Epically Failed to Confess to Jeon Jungkook (In No Particular Order):
- The top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, when Jungkook held his hand the whole time and a man literally proposed to his girlfriend next to them.
- The gardens of Versailles, in front of the most spectacular fountain Taehyung had ever seen.
- The lobby of the Louvre, rain drumming steady on the glass pyramid panes above them. (Later, he could feel The Mona Lisa judging him.)
- The Trevi Fountain in Rome, after tossing coins in to make a wish.
- A gondola ride in Venice after dark, just them and the Grand Canal and the city lights reflecting on the water.
- The Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, though they were standing in front of the Statue of David and looking back that might have been awkward.
- The beach in Barcelona - Jungkook sun-kissed and golden and wet from the sea.
- A canal bridge in Amsterdam, with the setting sun behind them and Jungkook sighing about how beautiful the city was.
- Pena Palace in Sintra, what felt like half of Portugal spread out below them in shimmering green.
- The courtyard of Prague Castle, after Jungkook insisted on taking at least a dozen photos of him modeling in front of the stunning architecture.
- The Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels, their boots crunching through fresh snow and Jungkook laughing as he attempted to make a snow angel in the middle of the white-covered lawn.
- The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, lit up gold against the night sky and Jungkook whispering in his ear about the importance of history.
- The Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, snowflakes catching in the dark strands of Jungkook’s hair.
- Fløyen above Bergen, the city and fjords glittering below them from the rays of the sun.
- Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, where Jungkook dragged him onto ride after ride until he was dizzy and giddy and couldn’t feel anything but the warmth of Jungkook’s hand in his - the heat of Jungkook’s laughing breath against the skin of his neck.
And now he’s in an airport, twenty minutes away from boarding a flight to Hong Kong, watching Jungkook start on his third pancake, and the words are still caught in a tangled knot in his throat.
“These are so good,” Jungkook groans, sending a shiver down Taehyung’s spine.
God, he’s pathetic.
He can hear Jimin laughing all the way from Seoul.
how’s it going?
have hobi and yoongi had their epic reunion?
will we finally be free of worried messages?
taehyungie told me they kissed in the airport like something out of a film
so i think they’re fine
Chef Hyung [12:48pm]
or hobi actually contacted interpol and is now swept up in an international investigation
i might have been overreacting
and it wasn’t something out of a film
it was a perfectly normal way to greet your boyfriend after three weeks away
watch it brat
Chef Hyung [12:52]
i don’t care about yoongi-yah and seok-ah, they’re boring
so five years ago
what’s happening with the Dynamic Duo??
same thing as the last 3.5 years
blatant and idiotic pining
i’ve been here less than an hour and can already confirm
try being alone with them for three weeks
so no confession?
THEY ARE IDIOTS
EVEN YOU WEREN’T THIS BAD AND YOU DIDN’T EVEN REALIZE YOU WERE DATING JIN FOR THE FIRST MONTH OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP
we’ve talked about this!
i thought i was straight!
i thought i was just meeting up with a friend!
Chef Hyung [12:59pm]
i asked you out to dinner, joonie
the first time i met you
“i had a good time.”
and kissed you on the cheek
in front of your apartment
after walking you home
the restaurant was candlelit, too
i thought you were just physically affectionate!
and liked cool ambient places!
yes yes i’m surrounded by idiots
back to the important part
do you think it’s gonna happen?
tae’s getting desperate
after being awkwardly cornered in the bathroom I can confirm that Jungkook is too
but pretty sure Tae’s gonna have to make the first move here
i am attached to them, though
so please don’t throw them out of the plane
i’ll make sure we all make it back to seoul in one piece
Chef Hyung [1:06pm]
we’ll be at incheon to pick you up
and fully prepared for the grand prix to gwangmyeong
but we will also drive safe and not get everyone killed trying to get on a train in time
let us know when you land in Hong Kong!
Or maybe the moment would be this: the hospital, 3:07 a.m., and Jungkook’s eyes flutter open for the first time in two days and stay, locking onto his face.
“Tae,” Jungkook’s lips croak in a desperate wheeze and his fingers twitch against the blankets, and the doctors said he might never wake up, but here he is. Because Jeon Jungkook is a fighter.
“Tae,” he repeats as Taehyung twines their fingers together and holds on with everything in him, every thread of his heartbreak and fear and relief and love.
“I’m here,” he replies. Presses Jungkook’s scraped knuckles to his forehead and blinks against the tears trickling down his cheeks. “I’m right here, Kook.”
Jungkook smiles, then - a tiny, wavering thing, still hazy from drugs and pain. And it isn’t much, but it feels like a start, a first step, an exhale after holding his breath for 48 hours nonstop.
We’re gonna make it, he thinks for the first time, pressing a tender kiss to the back of Jungkook’s hand. We’re gonna make it.
It’s over ten hours to Hong Kong. This time, him and Jungkook are able to sit together - window and middle seat. The man in the window seat unpacks his headphones and laptop and starts editing impressive, but terrifying photos of Great White Sharks before they’ve even taken off.
They watch the latest Star Wars movie and then Midnight in Paris, because Taehyung doesn’t want to let go of Europe just yet. Jungkook drifts during that film, slumped into Taehyung’s side, and Taehyung doesn’t fight the urge to pet his hair in soothing strokes. He wakes again when the end credits are rolling and stands with a groan to stretch his leg, hobbling up and down the aisle. A women three rows back watches him pass with a pitying frown that Taehyung hates, but has sadly become a common occurrence over the last two years. People see Jungkook’s brace and his limp, not any of his incredible strength.
“I think we should watch the Emoji Movie next,” Taehyung jokes when Jungkook sits back down, hoping banter will take his mind off the various eyes still aimed his way.
Jungkook’s face twists into an exaggerated grimace. “No. Never.”
Taehyung bats his eyes. “Not even for your best friend?”
“Nope. No matter how much I love you.”
Oh. Ouch. Those words stab right into his gut and he nearly chokes on air. Jungkook doesn’t even know what he’s saying - now frantically flipping Taehyung’s screen away from The Emoji Movie.
I love you, too, but the words knot up like usually, tangling themselves worse than his headphones whenever they drift to the bottom of his bag.
What comes out instead is, “have you made a decision about LA?”
They haven’t talked about. Not since Jungkook announced his potential plans last month and the ground roiled beneath Taehyung’s feet. His stomach still feels like it’s in free-fall, ninety percent of the time.
“No,” Jungkook says quietly, fingers falling away from the screen. His expression is unreadable. “I’m going to while I’m home. I want to talk to my parents again. I think they’ll feel better about it if I explain that Yoongi-hyung would come to. But I don’t want to go if they’re not okay with it.”
I’m not okay with it, Taehyung wants to say. Do you know how much I’d miss you?
“That’s understandable,” he says instead, because he’s a coward coward coward, and his voice comes out far too flat.
Jungkook opens his mouth, then snaps it closed again.
“What?” Taehyung asks and now it’s his heart in his throat instead of words.
“Nothing,” Jungkook murmurs and taps the screen again. “Watch Big Hero 6 with me?”
Taehyung lets it go. “You know that movie makes me cry.” Jungkook levels him with a frankly unfair pout, eyes huge in his face, and Taehyung’s weak, too. “Ugh. Fine.”
“Yes! Thank you.” For a moment, it looks like Jungkook is going to lean in and kiss his temple. Maybe his cheek. But he doesn’t. Freezes halfway through the motion and shifts to pick up their headphones. They’ve been watching on the same screen, a pair shared between them. Gentle fingers press the earbud into Taehyung’s ear and then Jungkook’s gaze is shifting to the screen.
No, Taehyung wants to say. Come back. Stay close to me.
Because the distance of inches between their seats already feels like miles.
He thinks that miles, when they come, will feel like infinities.
It’s raining in Hong Kong when they land on the morning of Christmas Eve. Their layover here is a whopping six hours and Taehyung is so sick of airports he could scream.
Also, Yoongi and Hoseok are being disgustingly domestic - Yoongi stretched across three seats with his head in Hoseok’s lap and Hoseok playing gently with his fingers - so Taehyung ops for exploring with Jungkook. They goggle over the prices of the accessories in the Balenciaga store, try to find the most ridiculous gadgets they can in Kawaiiland, ooh and ahh over the watches in Cartier, and try to guess the value of the diamonds in Swarovski.
“What do you think?” Jungkook asks, as they pretend they’re rich enough to be shopping in the Chanel store. “About me going to LA?”
He’s got that unreadable expression on again and he’s leaning subtly on the perfume counter, looking devastating beneath the fluorescents with his sweatshirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows and his lips red from the gloss Taehyung jokingly tested on him in Sa Sa.
I hate it. Don’t leave me.
But Taehyung’s tried so hard not to be selfish.
“I think you should go,” he whispers, keeping his gaze on the perfumes instead of Jungkook’s face. “If it’s your dream, you should chase it.”
Jungkook is quiet for a long moment. “And you’d … be okay? With me leaving?”
“Of course I would,” Taehyung insists through the breaking in his chest. Even manages a smile.
Jungkook nods. Clenches his jaw. “Okay.”
And that’s apparently that. They go back to browsing the ridiculously overpriced perfumes and then return to Hoseok and Yoongi in relative silence.
“I lied, I wouldn’t be okay.”
“Okay,” Hoseok says slowly, “but I think you should tell Jungkook that? And preferably not in a bathroom stall?”
Taehyung glances around at the handicapped stall that he’d shoved Hoseok into in a moment of panic and frowns. He probably has a point, even if this the fanciest airport bathroom Taehyung’s ever been in. That looks like actual gold woven into the wallpaper, what the hell?
“I can’t tell Jungkook that,” he says, raking a hand through his hair. “Didn’t Yoongi explain?”
He would have snagged Yoongi, but he vanished with Jungkook half an hour ago and the conversation looked serious. Probably making plans for LA, now that Jungkook has been assured he won’t have to worry about his sad best friend left behind in Seoul.
“That you’re both being idiots? Yes. That isn’t exactly news, though.”
“You used to be nicer than this, hyung,” Taehyung whines, frowning at Hoseok.
Hoseok crosses his arms and leans against the wall. “I’ve spent two years in the military and five years with Yoongi, I’ve learned how to be blunt. And besides, I’m still nice! Pointing out hard truths isn’t mean, Tae-ah.”
Again, he has a point, but Taehyung doesn’t feel like acknowledging it at the moment. “How did you do it? Ask out Yoongi-hyung?”
Hoseok shrugs. “I knew I liked him a lot, so I psyched myself up over a weekend and bought him flowers and maybe ambushed him at seven in the morning on his way to his first class, before he’d even have coffee. I don’t think you should use me for guidance. He was allergic to the flowers, too.”
“But he still went on a date with you.”
“Yes, because he liked me. Believe me, I was kind of surprised, too.”
“And you just … asked him.”
“Just like that?”
Hoseok sighs. “No, Taehyung-ah, I was fucking terrified. I practiced a speech about a hundred times and I still messed it up. But sometimes you just have to jump. It’s usually worth it.”
“And if it isn’t?”
“You pick yourself up and carry on.”
Taehyung tries not to grimace. That doesn’t sound appealing. Hoseok’s expression has softened and he pushes off the wall to wrap a steadying arm around Taehyung’s shoulders. Fuck, Taehyung’s just realized that since Yoongi’s probably going to LA, so is Hoseok. He’s going to lose all three of them and the thought makes him want to cry. He settles for leaning his head against Hoseok’s instead and taking a deep, shaky breath.
“I know it’s hard,” Hoseok murmurs. “But you’ll hate yourself if you don’t try. Yoongi’s the best thing in my life and I would have missed him if I didn’t take a chance.”
“Right,” Taehyung says and leans into the comforting kiss Hoseok presses to his temple.
Things Kim Taehyung Loves About Jeon Jungkook (In No Particular Order):
- His smile
- His laugh
- His thighs in ripped jeans
- His thighs in general
- And his biceps
- His eyes and the way they dance when he’s in a mischievous mood
- The way rings look on his long, slender fingers
- The little rocking dance he does when he’s waiting for food to heat up
- The way he sings to himself when he’s cooking or studying
- How hot he looks when he parts his hair
- His ridiculous sense of humor
- How bad he is at innuendo
- Except when he isn’t and then it’s devastating
- That he cries at the end of Titanic, every time.
- And the beginning of Up
- And says that he wants love like that, someday
- How frustrated he is whenever he has to do math
- The little post-it reminders he leaves all over the apartment in splashes of color: pick up soup or take vitamins or study session with Yugyeom @ 6 or return book to library by Tues.
- The way he tilts his head when he’s confused or annoyed
- The hissing noise he makes when Jimin eats the last of his cereal without asking
- His ridiculous sense of humor, including the cheesy lines he picks up from Jin.
- That still make Taehyung’s heart melt. Just a little.
- How supportive he is of all of Taehyung’s art, even the garbage pieces that Taehyung can’t find a way to love. Jungkook always does.
- How devastating he was in a leather jacket at their first club outing
- And that he stayed with Taehyung even though multiple people asked him to dance
- That he never lets Taehyung feel bad about himself
- He tries to feed the pigeons on campus
- And looked after one that was missing a leg
- The way he laces his fingers with Taehyung’s whenever they hold hands
- And giggles at the scary parts in horror movies
- And a thousand other things
- This list is probably endless. Taehyung will keep adding to it forever.
Jump, Taehyung tells himself when Jungkook returns, when they finally get a call for boarding, when they take their seats on their fourth and final plane.
Just fucking jump, as the plane takes off, as Jungkook naps on his shoulder, as Hoseok and Yoongi shoot him meaningful looks from across the aisle.
But his feet stay rooted to the earth, encased in what feels like cement.
Incheon is blanketed in snow and it’s nine p.m. when they finally stagger off the plane and into baggage claim where Jin, Namjoon, and Jimin are waiting with welcoming smiles and a ridiculous, colorful sign.
“Now who’s trying to recreate a movie,” Yoongi mutters darkly and Taehyung decides it’s better not to ask.
Jimin hugs him tight and comforting, spinning them in a fast circle. “I missed you, soulmate.”
“Missed you, too,” Taehyung murmurs, and is endlessly grateful that even if he loses three of the others, he’ll always have Park Jimin in his life.
“And you,” Jimin says to Jungkook, dragging him into a hug, “other soulmate.”
“How many soulmates do you have?” Jungkook grumbles, but returns the hug enthusiastically, letting Jimin drag him forward onto his toes, in spite of their height difference.
“Six, duh,” Jimin says and affectionately pushes Jungkook’s hair off his forehead. “Now let’s go catch a train.”
“That would be a good idea,” Namjoon says, arm wrapped around Yoongi in a gentle hug of their own. “Since the last one leaves in less than an hour.”
Seokjin cracks his knuckles ominously. “I’ve got this.”
Namjoon sighs, pained. “Just don’t kill us, babe.”
Seokjin waves a dismissive hand. “Have some faith, Joonie.”
“Not a chance,” Yoongi mutters, but they all follow Seokjin and Namjoon out into the icy evening.
Technically, the car is only meant to seat five people, not seven, but they all cram in anyway - Jimin perched in Taehyung’s lap and Yoongi in Hoseok’s with all of their luggage somehow fit in the trunk.
“Okay,” Seokjin says, as he pulls out of the parking lot, “let’s do this.”
Namjoon sighs and grabs onto one of the overhead handles. Taehyung thinks that might be a good idea but settles for tightening his arms around Jimin’s waist instead.
Somehow, they make it to Gwangmyeong Station in one piece, though Taehyung is pretty sure he saw his life flash before his eyes at least five times, in the front seat Namjoon looks vaguely ill, and Yoongi’s fingers are digging crescent imprints into Hoseok’s arms. Squashed along Taehyung’s side, Jungkook mostly seems thrilled.
“That was better than a theme park ride, Jin-hyung,” he announces.
“Don’t encourage him,” Namjoon whispers with his head between his knees.
“Okay, everybody out,” Jimin insists, “we have five minutes to catch our trains.”
They say goodbye around the parked car in a fast series of hugs and well wishes. Namjoon and Jin are staying in Seoul for the holidays, with the exception of a jaunt up to Ilsan the day after Christmas to visit Namjoon’s family; Yoongi and Hoseok are taking the train down to Gwangju (since Hoseok’s family pretty much adopted Yoongi as a thank you for loving Hoseok, while Yoongi's actual family cut him off for that same reason); and he’s riding the 129 down towards Busan with Jimin and Jungkook, getting off in Daegu.
Where hopefully his very harried parents will be waiting to pick him up.
But the clock is deafening in the back of his head, drowning out everything else. They’re getting on the train, moving as fast as Jungkook’s leg will allow and they’re taking their seats around the little table, and the clock is tickin g ticking ticking. It’s 9:45 p.m. on Christmas Eve, snowing hard outside, and the train is practically empty. Just them, an old couple dozing near the back of the car, and a few other exhausted-looking people in business suits - on their way home at last.
It’s an hour and twenty-five minutes to Daegu.
An hour and twenty-five minutes is all he has left.
Jimin is watching him, expression caught somewhere between exasperation and worry. Jungkook is texting, probably his brother, and focused almost entirely on his phone.
Tell him, Jimin mouths, brow furrowed.
The train pulls away from the station, out into the snowy night. The clock ticks down and the words remain hopelessly tangled on Taehyung’s lips.
Or maybe the moment would be this: two weeks and three days ago, at the Louvre in Paris, in the middle of a fucking exhibition literally about love.
“Tell me about this one?” Jungkook asks, pointing at Fragonard’s The Bolt.
His leg has been giving him enough trouble that he’s actually broken out his cane - covered in various stickers courtesy of Jimin - and he’s leaning on it subtly. He insisted on coming, in spite of Taehyung’s attempts to get him to stay behind, in spite of the fact that art museums aren’t really his thing at all. Just said I like hearing you talk about them and followed Taehyung out the door.
“It was a drawing first, in 1777, then he painted it at a later date. We don’t know when, because he only dated like five out of his five hundred plus pictures. Sometime before 1784. It’s different than most of Fragonard’s previous works. Closer to Rembrandt in style, actually, with the reduced palette, the chiaroscuro and sfumato, and would actually set the tone for a lot of his later works.”
Jungkook hums, eyes on the painting. “He’s locking the door. And she’s … refusing him? But the room is already a mess.”
“Round two?” Taehyung jokes like his stomach isn’t somewhere in his shoes. Like he hasn’t wanted to kiss Jungkook in messy, darkened rooms for three years.
Jungkook laughs, nose scrunched up, and pulls Taehyung along towards the sculptures near the far side of the exhibition.
“What about this one?” he asks, sweeping a hand towards Rodin’s The Kiss and settling in like he doesn’t mind if Taehyung talks for hours because he’s here to listen. To let Taehyung walk him through all the art that he loves and maybe show him how to love the pieces, too.
Here - on the walls around them, in the sculptures in front of them - is love immortalized. Love trapped and preserved on canvas and in marble for centuries, but all Taehyung can see is Jungkook, more vibrant than any painting.
Love of my life, Taehyung thinks half-desperately, you’re the love of my life.
One hour and twenty-five minutes passes in a blink, a haze. One minute he’s sitting down in Gwangmyeong and then suddenly the automated voice is announcing that the next stop is Daegu. Across the table from him, Jimin’s wide-eyed and probably just as pale as Taehyung feels.
“Have a good Christmas,” Jungkook says and he sounds strangled - sad in a way that Taehyung can’t identify. It might be a trick of the light, but his eyes even look a little wet.
“Yeah,” Taehyung says through his rising panic. “You too.”
The train is pulling into the station and Jungkook is standing to get Taehyung’s bag for him, a slight wince crossing his face as he straightens out his leg.
“Tae,” Jimin hisses urgently, tugging on his sleeve.
It’s 11:10 p.m. on Christmas Eve and Taehyung is officially out of time. The car is empty now, except for them and the sleeping old couple (who haven’t stirred in the last hour and actually might be dead), and Jungkook is helping him put his stupid backpack on his shoulders - a weird, strained smile on his face.
“Say hi to your family for me,” Jungkook says.
Taehyung’s family loves Jungkook. Everyone loves Jungkook. Taehyung isn’t special.
The doors open with a hiss. The pleasant, automated voice reminds passengers to watch their step as they exit the train.
Taehyung’s feet seem to be superglued to the floor of the aisle.
“Taehyung?” Jungkook asks. He’s sat back down again and Jimin’s peeking over his shoulder with a questioning expression on his face.
Jump, Taehyung yells at himself. His heart, his feet, the wall in his throat that has been built brick by brick since the accident. Just fucking jump. You’re out of time.
The doors start to close again, just as Taehyung whirls around and blurts, “I love you.”
“Oh my god,” Jimin says.
Taehyung doesn’t stop - the wall is broken and now everything’s pouring out, all these words. “I’m in love with you. I’ve been in love with you since freshman year - a week after I met you. Do you remember? I dragged you to a modern art exhibition in the city and you didn’t care at all about it but you still let me ramble at you for two whole hours about the history of - of something, I don’t remember that part-”
“Clay,” Jungkook whispers. He seems to be in shock.
Taehyung snaps his fingers. “Yes! Clay. The history of fucking clay. And you told me that it made you happy, hearing about the things I’m interested in - and honestly, that was so unfair of you, I never stood a chance after that. Fell head-over-heels. And I thought that maybe it was just a crush, but it just got worse. I have so many lists. I hate lists but I’ve been writing them about you for this whole trip. For three years. They’re pages and pages and pages long. And I was gonna tell you, I was. But-”
He’s crying, he’s vaguely aware. He is crying in the middle of this train car, which is now pulling away from his stop, and Jungkook is staring at him, and he’s pretty sure that Jimin is filming all of this on his phone, but he forces himself to keep going. He’s going to commit.
“But then the Accident happened and I felt that I couldn’t be selfish. I couldn’t put that kind of pressure on you when you were going through so much. So I didn’t say anything. And then - I was just so afraid of losing you, Kook. I couldn’t bear it if I lost you for real. So I kept not saying anything and all my words got tangled up. And I figured it was okay, I had time. Only I didn’t because you’re moving to LA and that’s five thousand five hundred and ninety-three miles away, and a thirteen hour plane ride, and a sixteen hour time difference, and we suck at texting when we’re in class two miles apart and in the same time zone so I’m going to lose you, anyway. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t chase your dreams, but I just - you’re the love of my fucking life, I’m pretty sure, and I needed you to know that, before you go. I’m sorry that it took me this long. I’m sorry that I’m doing it in a train car in the middle of the night and I’m pretty sure there’s gum on my shoe and I’ve barely slept in the past two days. I wanted it to be romantic, but I chickened out at the top of the Eiffel Tower.”
He sucks in a deep breath and he’s trembling from head to toe from a weird mixture of terror and adrenaline and Jungkook is still just sitting there.
“Please say something,” he whispers. “Even if it’s no, I can take that-”
“You’re in love with me?” Jungkook asks, in a very small voice.
“Yes,” Taehyung says, rocking on his heels and back again. Jimin is still filming, leaning almost his entire upper body on the table to get a good angle. “Ridiculously so. Just ask Jimin.”
Jimin arches an eyebrow, but keeps silent.
Jungkook shakes his head. He still looks dazed. “But … I’m in love with you?”
“What?” Taehyung whispers.
Jungkook laughs, then, but it’s an almost broken sound. “Fuck, Taehyung, I’m so in love with you. I have been for three years. I thought you knew that. I thought you were just sparing my feelings.”
“What?” Taehyung says again, a little louder.
Jungkook’s eyes are a little wild and his fingers are scratching at his brace like they always do when he’s anxious. “I fell in love with you when you came to my first dance showcase and you brought me a whole bouquet of flowers even though I messed up during my solo. You said I was the best thing you’d ever seen and you were just so - so cool and gorgeous and I didn’t stand a chance, either. It was embarrassing. I thought I was so obvious. Everyone could see it - my massive crush on you. But you were - I thought you were out of my league, and I didn’t want to mess up our friendship. And then the Accident happened and I thought -”
He makes a low, wounded sound in the back of his throat. “I thought you wouldn’t want me, anyway. Since I was broken now.”
“What?” Taehyung says a third time, hackles rising. “How could you - no. You’re incredible…”
Jungkook sucks in a hiccuping breath. “Well I didn’t … I was scared, too. And I thought that maybe I needed to get over you. Needed a fresh start. So I decided to go to LA. And I still want to go, I think, but I don’t want to get over you.”
He looks up, all clenched-jawed determination, and Taehyung doesn’t know when his lungs are going to start cycling air again, but it doesn’t seem like it’ll be any time soon. “I don’t want to get over you,” Jungkook repeats. “I love you. Come to LA with me?”
Somehow, Taehyung didn’t think this would actually happen. That Jungkook would actually return his feelings. That they’ve both been pining idiots. And he might be dreaming, he’s not completely ruling that out, but giddiness is expanding in his chest like a balloon.
“You love me?”
“Yes,” Jungkook says and the smile has reached the corner of his eyes now, scrunching them up all soft and affectionate. “A ridiculous amount.”
“And I love you,” Taehyung repeats because apparently that’s a thing he gets to say now. “Can I kiss you?”
“Yes,” Jungkook says.
“Finally,” Jimin mutters, still filming.
Taehyung ignores him in favor of cupping Jungkook’s cheeks and crashing their mouths together. It lacks finesse, or even the fireworks he always imagined. They both still taste like cheap airplane food and he’s awkwardly leaning over Jungkook - one hand braced against the side of the train seat. Down the car, the definitely alive old man has started to snore. But Jungkook’s mouth is hot and perfect against his own and honestly? Honestly, it feels like coming home. Breathing a sigh of relief.
Thinking, wow, I made it.
Minutes or hours or maybe even decades later, Jungkook disconnects their mouths. He’s flushed a gorgeous red and he’s smiling, still, and he nuzzles gently against Taehyung’s cheek in a way that makes Taehyung completely weak at the knees.
“You missed your stop,” he whispers.
Taehyung laughs and shifts closer, pressing their foreheads together. “I did.”
It was worth it, though. And hopefully his parents will understand. True love does not abide by something as petty as train schedules.
“You didn’t answer my question, either.” Jungkook continues, wrapping an arm around Taehyung’s waist.
“Jungkook,” Taehyung says, fighting down a smile. “I would go with you even if you told me you were going to Antarctica to study penguins or something. Wait, that actually sounds really cool. So, if you wanted to move to the middle of the Sahara, or the Amazon Rainforest. I’d be there.”
“So is that a yes?” Jungkook teases, eyebrow arched.
“Yes,” Taehyung says and wonders when he’s going to return to earth. Maybe there will just be this floaty feeling in his chest forever. “I’ll go to LA with you.”
Jungkook’s grin stretches across his whole face and he looks so happy and bright and good that Taehyung has to kiss him again.
So he does.
Video sent - 5:27
Dance Hyung [11:18pm]
OH MY GOD
Smart Hyung [11:19pm]
Grumpy Hyung [11:20pm]
DID HE FINALLY DO IT?
ON THE FUCKING TRAIN?
Ultimate Hyung [11:21pm]
IF THIS WASN’T ALREADY A NATIONAL HOLIDAY I WOULD MAKE IT ONE
IT WAS A CONFESSION FOR THE AGES
now they’re just giving each other heart eyes and holding hands
so not much has changed
Dance Hyung [11:23pm]
BUT OUR SUFFERING HAS FINALLY COME TO AN END
WE ARE FREE FROM THE PINING
Ultimate Hyung [11:24pm]
Grumpy Hyung [11:25pm]
THREE WEEKS SURROUNDED BY PANICKED PINING
AND HE CONFESSES ON THE FUCKING TRAIN ???
Smart Hyung [11:26pm]
i think yoongi’s broken.
Dance Hyung [11:27pm]
give him a few minutes
he’ll come back online eventually
Ultimate Hyung [11:28pm]
you all owe me steak dinner
i called this
taehyungie’s one of the most melodramatic people i’ve ever met
of course he waited until the train
literally at his stop, too
Ultimate Hyung [11:30pm]
TWO BOTTLES OF WINE
Smart Hyung [11:31pm]
when we’re all back in seoul, we’ll throw a party
Dance Hyung [11:32pm]
a Thank God You Two Finally Got Your Shit Together Party!
Ultimate Hyung [11:33pm]
yes, exactly like the one we threw for you and yoongi-yah.
Grumpy Hyung [11:34pm]
No, he’s certain now. The moment would be this: the station platform in Busan at nearly one in the morning on Christmas Day. Icy wind digging into his skin, but combated by the warmth of Jungkook’s gloved hands on his cheeks, dragging down his jaw. Jungkook’s lips are red from kissing him and his expression is soft and fond and love-flooded. The heart in Taehyung’s chest is beating fierce and wholly alive.
“I’ll see you back in Seoul?” Jungkook asks.
Taehyung called his parents from the train and explained that he missed his stop. Explained, as best as he could, the love involved. The stakes.
He thinks they understood. Either way, they agreed to drive down to get him. Should be here in five minutes.
“Yeah,” he says and kisses Jungkook again because he can. Because it’s rapidly becoming an addiction. Because he’s in love with his best friend and his best friend loves him back.
Seoul is a promise now. The start of the next chapter of their lives. One more semester of college and then Los Angeles.
“Yeah,” he repeats, pulling back from Jungkook. “I’ll see you there.”
“I can’t wait,” Jungkook whispers, and his voice is heavy with all that promise. All that future.
“Me neither,” Taehyung says.
They separate slow, by inches, and Taehyung’s so happy he could burst.
And when he looks at Jungkook - at the curve of his mouth and the crinkle of his eyes and the flush of his cheeks - he sees all that happiness reflected right back at him.
And maybe that’s the most beautiful thing about Jungkook, Taehyung realizes.
With him, he doesn’t have to choose a single moment. Jungkook will spread out across days and months and years - thousands and thousands of moments, and Taehyung gets to keep them all.