Taehyung learned the difference between healthy competition with a friend and having actual competition the day he first met Park Jimin.
As Jeon Jungkook’s only friend ever since they were simply neighbors who liked throwing sand at each other and playing hide-and-seek when there wasn’t enough space, Taehyung has always trusted him. Thereafter, the second Jungkook said he would introduce him to someone who would be their best friend for life, he had to trust it. While Taehyung got himself plenty of friends in High School, Jungkook, being two years younger than him, had to find other ways, because their Middle School friends were nothing like real friends should be. Therefore, Taehyung encouraged him to join the dance group he loved so much the first time they walked past the studio.
If anyone asks Taehyung nowadays, as long as he is in a bad mood, he might say that was the biggest mistake of his life. If he is in a good mood, however, he might say the biggest mistake of his life was not voicing his first impression of Jimin as soon as they met—the impression that his posture was too composed and his actions were too uptight. That could have spared him years of regretting not saying those things while they were still true.
It turned out that Jimin didn’t become his best friend for life. Instead, he walked in on Taehyung and Jungkook laughing at some silly joke that sounded genuinely funny back then and interrupted their friendly moment. He eyed Taehyung and hugged Jungkook so tight it made it look like he could break his bones—except that he couldn’t, and Taehyung knew it, but his point still stands because that must have been Jimin’s intention.
Later that afternoon, when Jungkook had already introduced them to each other and announced that he would go out and buy them some snacks, Jimin had the guts to turn to Taehyung and say he “obviously couldn’t be friends with someone who crushed on the same guy as him”. As the ever-so-naïve boy he used to be, Taehyung only realized his own feelings—and, therefore, the reason behind Jimin’s words—about a year later, but, by then, they were already sworn enemies.
Of course, it was never all about Jungkook. That had been the beginning, definitely, but his rivalry with Jimin went further as time went by. They had to hang out a lot if they truly wanted to have Jungkook around, which meant that Taehyung would always hear about Jimin’s awesome accomplishments in life. It made him sick sometimes, because he thought there was no need to be such a show off, but it also made him bitter, because he had nothing compared to those stupid accomplishments.
That’s how he ended up engaging in too many extra activities through his life.
It’s partly his fault for being such a social butterfly, but, the truth is, it never mattered where Taehyung went, there would always be someone interested in befriending him, and he was never ready to decline a new friendship. That was something he always thought that made him more special than Jimin, and, somehow, Jimin must have thought that too, because, as soon as Taehyung started bragging about his social skills in their reunions at Jungkook’s house, Jimin started putting some extra effort into being the friendly dancer at his studio.
Obviously, a rivalry that started with such stupidity could never evolve enough to be reasonable. When Taehyung first invited Jungkook to hang out with his other friends—Seokjin, who he met at the Drama club, and Namjoon, who he met at the ice cream shop that the guys from the Photography club loved so much—and agreed that he could bring Jimin as long as he behaved, he heard the opinion from someone who watched the whole situation unfold from the outside for the first time.
Always straight to the point, Namjoon called it stupid. Seokjin, as a dramatic person who loves synonyms for small words, called it nonsensical.
It was meaningless to show their point of view, though. Taehyung knew he didn’t have to act the way he acted around Jimin, but he also knew Jimin didn’t have to act the way he acted around him. They were both too hot-headed and their relationship evidently wouldn’t turn into a beautiful friendship out of nowhere, so, regardless of how right and intelligent they sounded, Taehyung chose to ignore it.
He likes to think of that as a very, very small mistake.
Now, Taehyung would be lying if he said he didn’t enjoy the idea of being the closest person to Jungkook in a while, even if Seokjin and Namjoon decided to take the boy under their wings as well. He even thought he would have a chance at being more than a friend when Jungkook’s teacher told the class they had to write a letter to someone to let them know that they loved them and Jungkook chose him. However, every time he took a step forward, Jimin took two. Not even two months after that, when he was still growing the balls to ask Jungkook out, Jimin participated on a kissing booth and, as the good friend he has always been, Jungkook just had to contribute with something—his lips, in that case.
It all went downhill, however, the second Jungkook got into college. Taehyung had decided to take two years to himself and make sure he would be steady enough to be in college someday, which meant he coincidentally ended up becoming a freshman alongside with his best friend. For a while, that sounded amazing. Their majors weren’t similar, but Jimin went to a different college and there was no way he would take Jungkook away from Taehyung if he couldn’t be anywhere near them.
The thing Taehyung didn’t see coming, on the other hand, was the fact that other people would also like Jungkook—and, most importantly, that Jungkook would ever like other people.
Min Yoongi. Jungkook’s first love and Taehyung and Jimin’s first common enemy.
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend?” Taehyung had asked Jimin once, when they were out at a party and Jungkook was miserably trying not to flirt too much and not sound too uninteresting to Yoongi at the same time. As Jungkook’s plus one, Taehyung ended up ditched the second Yoongi showed up, and Jimin had joined him to laugh at his struggling expression until he realized the reason.
He remembers the way Jimin glanced at him, smirked and shook his head. He remembers thinking, for the first time, that it was reasonable if Jungkook decided to pay for the kiss at the kissing booth for the sole purpose of kissing Jimin, because he was very, very attractive and there was no denying that.
Then, Jimin said, “I’d rather team up with the new guy and set him up with Jungkook than become partners with you,” and Taehyung remembered that that was the reason why he never took too much time to notice Jimin’s beauty—because his attitude blocked Taehyung’s capacity of seeing any beauty at all.
Now, after two years of college and two years of being over Jungkook, Taehyung wonders, from time to time, if he shouldn’t have reached a truce with Jimin somehow. They are adults already, going out to work and paying their own bills, and the little group of friends gathered two new members—Hoseok, the sunshine who goes to the same dance studio as Jimin, and Yoongi, Jungkook’s boyfriend. Sometimes, Taehyung thinks it’s too childish to keep the rivalry going.
It all fades away, nevertheless, when they are around each other and he’s reminded of the reason why they started going at each other’s throats in the first place.
“So, that’s when Jimin comes in, spinning beautifully and amazing every single person on the theatre,” Seokjin finishes telling, opening his arms as if he’s putting an end to a very important show, and Taehyung feels his annoyance level climbing a few numbers as his friends don’t hesitate to applaud the story. Jimin doesn’t even pretend he isn’t enjoying the attention; instead, he smiles brightly, leaning back against the couch of Namjoon’s living room and taking in every compliment he gets.
“Show off,” Taehyung mumbles to himself, although, when he looks up from the puzzle he’s been putting together on the floor, he realizes it might’ve come out a bit louder than intended. Oops.
Jungkook snorts, standing up from his spot on the couch—more precisely, Yoongi’s lap—and pointing an accusing finger at Taehyung, “Don’t act like you didn’t mean for everyone to hear that.”
“What, me?” asks Taehyung, placing a dramatic hand over his chest, “I can’t believe you think so low of me.”
“Nah, it’s alright, Kookie,” Jimin’s annoying voice cuts them, the grin on his face becoming more and more mischievous as Taehyung squints in his direction, “Let him. The last time he had an audition for a play was a few months ago. He must be feeling bitter that we’re talking about my third performance this month.”
Taehyung rolls his eyes, throwing away a piece of the puzzle that doesn’t look that necessary anymore and shrugging, “I couldn’t care less. The only reason why I haven’t gotten an audition is because I’m trying something professional this time and the only reason why you get to many auditions is because you’re not.”
“Sure,” Jimin laughs, “What’s more professional than never actually getting a part, right?”
“You guys are seriously unbelievable,” Hoseok says, and, for him to speak up at times like that, Taehyung realizes they must be, indeed, unbelievable. “You’re not children anymore. I get that I wasn’t around for most of this… well, this thing of yours, but isn’t it about time to get over it?”
Taehyung blinks, staring from Hoseok to Jimin, and, when he meets his eyes, Jimin simply goes back to grinning, “I don’t know. Isn’t it about time for Taehyung to stop thinking he can get a puzzle right when he couldn’t do something like that to save his life? It’s about time for lots of things.”
“I swear, one of these days, I’ll flick both of you and you won’t see it coming,” Seokjin warns.
“Well,” drawls Taehyung, pulling the pieces of the puzzle together and stuffing them back into the plastic bag, ignoring Jimin’s victorious expression, “If you’re telling us now, we won’t be exactly surprised.”
That’s the moment Yoongi chooses to pick the pillow from beside his spot on the couch and throw it at Taehyung, causing him to let out an exclamation of disbelief before managing to dodge the pillow. Just when Jimin is about to laugh about it, though, Yoongi picks up another pillow and throws it at him. Of course, as always, Jimin handles it by shielding his face with his arms, but he squints at Yoongi, incredulous as well.
“Thank you,” Namjoon finally says, raising his arms above his head, “I couldn’t wait for someone to actually do something.”
“I bet that’s what every single of one of Jimin’s ex-partners said when they finally got a new boyfriend, huh,” Taehyung teases. Although even Hoseok has to hold back the urge of laughing at that one and Jimin barely restrains himself from rolling his eyes dramatically, it’s Taehyung who gets the side-eye from Namjoon, “Okay, okay. I’m sorry. You were saying?”
“I wanted you guys to shut up and stop being annoying so that I can talk to you about the idea I had. How does that sound?”
“Marvelous,” Jungkook says, interrupting any kinds of thoughts Taehyung might have of answering that question, “That’s just marvelous. Please, enlighten us. I’m begging you.”
“I think we should hang out this weekend,” Namjoon starts, and, to Taehyung’s surprise, instead of brightening up with happiness, Jungkook freezes and widens his eyes at him. It feels like a warning, but Namjoon clearly doesn’t take the hint as he proceeds, “You know, do something fun. For the sake of the group.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” argues Seokjin—whose eyes also look concerned about Namjoon’s words, “We should all just stay home. Stay home and sleep.”
Before Namjoon gets the chance to answer that, Jimin whines in complaint, “Oh, come on. I thought we were going laser tagging this weekend. It would have been so much fun. Please, Jin-hyung, do not ruin this for me. It’s been ages since I’ve been to a pleasant kind of game and—”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Taehyung requests, raising his arms and staring at his friends, each one of them for a few seconds longer than necessary, making sure that he’s been listening to things well and that he didn’t just imagine Jimin’s entire phrase, “You guys were going laser tagging and you didn’t invite me?”
“It’s not that big of a deal,” Jimin says, rolling his eyes at the glare Taehyung sends him, “It’s not like you’re ever invited to anything.”
Taehyung blinks, staring at him in disbelief, and lets out a humorless laugh that thickens the atmosphere around them even more, “Excuse me? I am literally always invited. You are the one who’s never invited. Movie Friday? Never invited. Weekend at the beach? Nope, no one invited you. Karaoke last week with Jungkook? Guess what. He didn’t invite you either.”
Jimin frowns, “What? Karaoke last week with Jungkook? No, that didn’t happen. Yoongi and I went out and he said Jungkook couldn’t come with us because he had too much work to during the week. He couldn’t have gone out.”
“Now, you’re going insane. It was Yoongi who had too much work to do and couldn’t come with us.”
“Seokjin-hyung, where are you going?”
Seokjin freezes, standing a few feet away from the rest of the group. It’s evident that he was trying to sneak out of the room, although Taehyung can’t quite put a finger on why—except that he does, but Jimin clearly wants to talk, and he isn’t going to agree with the guy on anything, even when they are having the same doubts.
Hoseok clears his throat, drawing all the eyes to him for a second as he looks down at the watch on his wrist and lets out a very dramatic exclamation of disappointment, “Well, that’s just terrible. I have stuff to do. I should probably get going before anyone calls me out on, you know, not doing what I have to do.”
“Now that you mentioned it” starts Yoongi, smiling at him, “I think Jungkook and I had plans as well. Didn’t we, baby?”
Jungkook catches his own bottom lip between his teeth, exchanging his looks between Taehyung and Jimin. As their oldest common friend, he would definitely be the one with the worst hard time trying to hide something from them; albeit Taehyung can tell everyone else seems slightly guilty by their sudden attitude.
A few moments later, Jungkook sighs, shoulders dropping as he shakes his head, “This is ridiculous, guys. We should just tell them. They’re not going to kill us.”
“Kill you for what?” Jimin asks, squinting.
“Oh,” Taehyung’s eyes widen, “Don’t tell us you have clones and one out of the two of us is only friends with the clones and not the real you.”
That causes Jimin to squint at him, “Do you ever say anything plausible? And, by the way, if that is the truth, please tell me Taehyung is friends with the fake ones and I’m friends with the real ones.”
“See? You guys see that?” Jungkook asks, sounding so exasperated it surprises everyone in the room. Namjoon opens his mouth to try and say something, probably a quick phrase that might lessen the tension, but Jungkook proceeds as if he didn’t notice it, “We tried and tried, but you can’t stand each other enough not to bicker if you’re in the same room for five minutes. We gave you all the chances and you blew every single of them. We had to make a decision. We could either stop hanging out with both of you, once and for all, or start hanging out with the two of you separately.”
“Yeah, that’s why we became so surprisingly busy lately,” completes Yoongi, stroking Jungkook’s arms in a quiet gesture of support, “Because you guys like hanging out so much and we always have to make sure there’s time enough for both of you. Jimin, laser tagging was supposed to be something we’d do with you, and Taehyung, the day after is the day we promised we’d go on that new restaurant with you.”
Namjoon sighs, “That’s why we always told each of you not to tell the other about us hanging out together. We always claimed that it would be because, if one of you told, the other one would feel bad about not being invited, but the truth is, we were trying our bests to stop you from ever having to see each other.”
Taehyung blinks, slowly allowing it to sink in that his friends find him incapable of being in the same room as Jimin without ruining their reunions. He had always known they didn’t enjoy the fact that they fought so much, but it never crossed his mind before that it bothered them to that extent. Besides, he finds himself feeling bad about each time he got home and bragged about being the one who always went out with them, while Jimin never got the chance to.
He also finds it very unfair that they invited Jimin when it came to laser tagging, considering that, well, he is so great at it.
They remain silent for a few moments, Seokjin sitting back gently, trying not to make any noises, just in case it will ruin the momentary peace they found. Jimin looks as disturbed as Taehyung—in fact, when he looks up to check on his reaction, Taehyung finds that Jimin’s been staring directly at him, looking somewhere between extremely upset and, well, if Taehyung didn’t know him any better, he would even say he looks guilty.
“So,” Taehyung starts, stretching out as casually as possible, “We sure did give you guys some trouble, huh?”
Yoongi squints, “Taehyung, I swear—”
“You did,” Seokjin says, “You did give us some trouble.”
“I never meant to,” says Taehyung honestly. “I could never have imagined that you guys were so uncomfortable around us when we fought, which is, well, pretty much all the time. I guess having two people in the same group constantly being upsetting to each other turns out to be upset to everyone around us as well.”
Hoseok sighs, offering him a smile, “We don’t want either of you to feel like you have to like each other. It’s just that, well, you’re our friends. It’s hard to see friends arguing all the time.”
Before Taehyung gets the chance to open his mouth and give Hoseok a comforting, calm answer, Jimin cuts him, “I can be in the same room as Taehyung without arguing.”
“You’re a liar,” says Yoongi.
“No, I’m serious,” Jimin affirms, brows furrowing as a sudden rush of determination seems to hit him, “I could easily be around him without any bickering. I can’t say it isn’t fun to tease the guy and everything, but, if it makes you guys uncomfortable, I won’t argue anymore.”
Taehyung squints, “Is that your way of saying you’re going to ignore my existence?”
“I don’t have to ignore your existence. All I have to do is remind myself that your existence isn’t important,” Jimin concludes, grinning ironically at him, “I’ve got some self-control, everyone. If you had told me about this before, you wouldn’t have to put so much effort into hanging out with the two of us separately.”
“Wait a minute,” asks Jungkook, squinting at Jimin the way he used to squint at Taehyung when he stole his cute pencils back in School, “Are you saying all we had to do was say the word and you would stop?”
“Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying.”
“Wanna see me proving it?” asks Jimin challengingly, smirking at the rest of his friends as he leans toward Taehyung’s seat on the floor and stretches out of his arm. The second their eyes meet, Taehyung realizes that ‘being the good guy and calling it a truce’ isn’t simply something Jimin’s doing out of the goodness of his heart. It’s also his way of showing he’s superior to Taehyung; showing that his friends have reasons to trust him before Taehyung.
Taehyung isn’t going to lose at this. There is not a chance that he’ll accept defeat. Therefore, he reaches for Jimin’s hand and shakes it, squinting at the smirk before his eyes.
“As my peace offer,” Jimin proceeds, letting go of his hand and fixing his posture, although his sly eyes never leave Taehyung’s face, “Would you like to go laser tagging with us, Taehyung?”
Taehyung sucks in a breath. He’s good at laser tagging, he would like to go laser tagging. Usually, he would be overthinking about Jimin’s presence, but this is something they just talked about, and, if he wants to beat Jimin at being political, he needs to act on it as soon as possible.
Ignoring the few gazes of disapproval on them, Taehyung nods, “I would love to, Jimin.”
“It’s a version of Capture the Flag. Jungkook and Yoongi will be the team captains. They get to choose the ones they want in their team, obviously. Considering that there are seven of us, one of the teams will have an extra player. Everyone here is pretty familiar with the rest of the rules. We can make a mess, since it’s expected from a game like this, but we need to clean up after ourselves later, because there is a reason why my parents trusted me enough to rent the place for the weekend. No, they don’t usually do that. Yes, knowing people pays off. Any doubts?”
Taehyung leans back against the wall, hands in his pockets, shrugging at Namjoon’s words, “Almost everything’s clear.”
“Why not everything?”
“Why does Yoongi get to be a captain and I don’t?” asks Taehyung, immediately turning to look at Yoongi, who is calmly waiting for the game to start while casually playing with Jungkook’s fingers, “No offense, hyung. I’m just a better player.”
Yoongi grins, tilting his head, “There’s no use in being a good player when you’re not a team player. I’m a good captain, you’re too bossy for it. That’s the reason why. Proceed, Joon-ah.”
Taehyung pouts, although he doesn’t argue. He is a very competitive person, especially knowing that Jimin is right there, a few feet away from him, arms thrown over Seokjin’s shoulders and brows quirked up in amusement due Yoongi’s simple response. He tries his best not to focus too much on that.
Jungkook and Yoongi play rock-paper-scissors to decide on who’s getting the extra player and Yoongi wins. Surprisingly—or not so much—Jungkook isn’t bummed for now winning. Taehyung wonders whether it is because he lost to Yoongi or because he knows he’s good enough to win with or without an extra player.
“Alright, as we’ve decided, Yoongi can go,” Namjoon says.
“I want Seokjin,” says Yoongi, pointing at him and getting Jimin to dramatically whine as Seokjin walks away from him. Taehyung rolls his eyes at it.
Jungkook crosses his arms, smirking gently as he turns to Taehyung and says, “You.”
Now, Taehyung might not have a crush on Jungkook anymore, but that is still the boy Jimin tried to steal away from him. Therefore, the moment he realizes Jungkook picked him first, without any jokes or hesitation moments, he sends a victory glare toward Jimin and raises a thumbs-up. The finger he gets in response is slightly less polite.
It’s Yoongi’s turn again, and he picks Namjoon.
Then, it’s Jungkook.
Yoongi might have the extra player, but Jungkook gets to decide who it is. If he picks Jimin, Hoseok will be the extra player in Yoongi’s team—but Taehyung knows that’s not going to happen. Because Jungkook is his best friend, who picked him first, which means Jimin isn’t part of the team.
He’s about to stick out his tongue to mock Jimin when his name slips off Jungkook’s tongue and Taehyung freezes, blinking at him in disbelief.
This time, when Jimin walks up to them and places his hands on Jungkook’s shoulders, it’s his turn to send Taehyung the victory look. It feels a lot more smug and arrogant on his face, if Taehyung may say. While Hoseok joins the rest of his team and they move away to fix an strategy, Taehyung tugs at the sleeve of Jungkook’s shirt.
“You had to put us together?”
“Of course,” says Jungkook, “Unless you think I actually believe you’re going to act nice. Telling me you’d behave and nothing would get under your skin. You’re on the same team as Jimin and there’s already fire coming out of his ears. There is no way I’m allowing you guys to be against each other.”
Taehyung sighs, “Fine. At least give me the good part of the strategy.”
“Jimin-hyung, come closer. We have some stuff to think about.”
Within ten quick—and slightly tense—minutes, they find themselves reaching for the guns and making sure their clothes remain properly adjusted. The equipment isn’t as heavy as it looks, but it’s still heavier than Taehyung’s heaviest coats, and it takes him a bit more than a few minutes to get used to it. He has played before, lots of times, and it’s always equally hard to get ready and make sure he’s going to be the one kicking ass, and not having his ass kicked.
Jungkook’s ever-so-efficient strategy involves both Taehyung and Jimin reaching for the flag, but one of them must be a distraction so that the other one can get there and come back safely. As the contemporary dancer and the flexible one, Jimin gets the duty to grab the flag and bring it back. As the actor and the one who is more likely to confuse other, Taehyung gets the distraction part.
They are the blue team—which is bad luck, because one of Jungkook’s favorite colors is red and Yoongi knows it, which is why he raised his hand the second Namjoon asked who would like to have it. Still, Jungkook looks confident, and Taehyung finds that he still admires his friend for how certain he is of the victory every time. Regardless of how strong the other team is, regardless of what they’re playing and regardless of how respectful Jungkook is towards everyone else in the game; he always seems to know he’s about to win.
Jimin, on the other hand, doesn’t look so sure. He’s holding the gun properly and fixing his posture accordingly, but Taehyung can tell he’s hesitant due the red team’s length. They are at disadvantage, and, if Taehyung remembers the agreement they reached before the game, the losing team will pay for dinner. For all of them.
“Well,” Taehyung mumbles, audible enough for himself and for Jimin only, “I can’t afford dinner for everyone. Can you?”
With a sigh, Taehyung shrugs, “Alright, then. Let’s win this thing.”
The moment the game starts, Taehyung finds himself somewhere to scrutinize his surroundings behind a black box. It’s dark, but the neon lights and the lasers around them are enough for his sight to be clear. At first, everyone hides well, but he sees it when the tip of Yoongi’s shoe reveals itself from behind another box.
Good leader, maybe. Not such a good player, though.
He doesn’t shoot immediately. Instead, he moves slightly behind the box, scooting closer to the edge of it to take a clearer look at Yoongi’s position. He’s crouching down, his back to Taehyung’s face, and he looks particularly focused on something in front him. Unfortunately, Taehyung can’t tell what it is, so he hopes it’s not one of his teammates—although knowing that Jimin got eliminated before him wouldn’t be such a bad idea—and slips closer and closer, making sure no one’s looking when he finally reveals himself completely, leaving the box behind.
Everyone else must be hiding somewhere around the place. It’s big; it was unlikely anyone would meet at first, but, apparently, Yoongi’s taste is similar to his. He gets to his knees and moves closer and closer to Yoongi, hoping that nothing will give away his slow approach. When he leans forward and makes sure Yoongi’s still staring ahead instead of worrying about his back, he brings his gun up, slowly, and aims as well as he can without knowing where the laser is pointing at exactly. Shooting Yoongi’s chest would give him more points, but, for now, the back should do it.
Unfortunately, the moment he places his finger against the trigger, Yoongi pulls his own gun up and shoots. Not toward him, thankfully, but toward something in front of him. Taehyung hears a familiar, annoying voice cursing under the sound of a body hitting the floor, probably jumping to save himself.
Taehyung sighs to himself, standing up as soon as Yoongi does and stopping him from shooting Jimin again by calling his name. The second Yoongi looks back at him, Taehyung raises his gun and aims for his chest. Obviously, it couldn’t have been that easy. Yoongi throws himself to the ground, escaping it, and Taehyung finds himself shooting carelessly, trying his best to hit him somewhere. At some point, it works, and the vest’s light on Yoongi’s shoulder tells him he just lost a few points.
Somehow, he manages to shoot toward Taehyung enough to escape safely, but that should definitely delay his search for the flag. Taehyung walks towards Jimin, who’s pulling himself together and standing up, and offers him a not-so-friendly grin.
“Looks like we switched parts, doesn’t it,” He says, grin becoming wider at the sight of Jimin’s squinted eyes, “Distraction.”
“You hit Yoongi, not Hobi or Jin,” Jimin squints harder, “Don’t go showing off yet, Taehyung. Don’t you have some distraction to do so I can go grab the flag?”
Taehyung has a reply that’s good enough, but he also knows Jimin’s partially right about this. They are still in the middle of a game and he still has something to do about it. He just needs to figure out how to prove he’s better than Jimin regardless of which one of them is playing the best part.
For the rest of the game, they all lose points. Jimin is the one doing the most out of their team for a while, but, soon enough, Taehyung’s position as the distraction gets the best out him. Being able to shoot whoever tries to get in his way and protect both Jimin and Jungkook, he assures the lead as the one with the most points in his team.
In the end, when Jimin brings the flag to their side and hugs Jungkook to celebrate, Taehyung smiles at his name on the screen. As expected, he’s the best.
Hoseok is the worst.
“Looks like I won’t be paying for dinner,” says Taehyung, grinning towards Jimin, “You must feel so lucky that you’re in a team with me, huh? I saved your ass.”
“Oh, please,” Jimin rolls his eyes, “All you did was shoot everyone. You barely got any of the difficult parts. Obviously, if Jungkook didn’t go easy on you, things would’ve gone different.”
“Alright, alright, I have an idea,” says Hoseok, raising his hands. It’s probably mostly meant to stop Taehyung and Jimin from arguing, but, still, it’s enough to draw everyone’s eyes to him effectively. “How about, instead of us paying dinner for you tonight, we make a tournament out of this?”
“You’re just broke, aren’t you?”
“I’m serious! So, like, I’m out today, and, next weekend, we come here again and play the next round. Then, someone else loses, and then there’s another round, and on and on. The last winner gets to eat dinner paid for each one of the rest of us. How about it, huh?”
Jungkook tilts his head, finishing his bottle of water and shrugging, “Sounds like a good idea to me. I’m sure I’ll enjoy having dinner with each of you.”
“You wish,” says Taehyung, but he smiles and nods, “I agree. That’s gotta be a very good competition.”
“Great,” Seokjin exclaims, clapping his hands together and sighing, “Now, I have to go.”
“Hey,” Namjoon calls, “We’re all going to the party at Hoseok and Jimin’s studio tomorrow, right?”
Taehyung sighs. He remembers that party. It’s some kind of get together that got a bit too huge and, now, apparently, their group got the responsibility to get everything ready. Unfortunately, he already told Hoseok he’d be there to support him, which means there is only one acceptable answer.
“Yeah. We’ll be there.”
Namjoon orders people around a lot when he has work to do, and, although Taehyung isn’t opposed to taking orders, he feels like there were better ways to enjoy his night than to go around carrying boxes filled with drinks and snacks.
Everyone else got there earlier to help with the organization, and, while Taehyung wouldn’t like to be working with Jimin so directly, things don’t go out of their way through most of the time. Seokjin stays around Taehyung, probably considering he’s the strongest besides Jungkook and Jungkook is already helping Yoongi. They laugh at some things and talk about others quickly, and, when Hoseok joins them to make some small talk, Taehyung realizes he absolutely loves spending time with his friends, even if it means cleaning a whole dance academy for a party.
“Hey, Tae,” Yoongi calls, gesturing towards the exit of the room, “Can you go get us one of the last boxes in the studio? I sent Jimin a while ago, but he hasn’t returned yet.”
Taehyung rolls his eyes, “He can’t bring a box?”
“Yes, sir. I’m on my way.”
Taehyung sighs, smiling at the way Seokjin pats his shoulder and walking outside the room, towards the studio. He would’ve expected Jimin to be at least a bit stronger and more flexible than he’s been looking like, considering his occupation. When he nears the studio’s door, though, he hears something coming from inside. For a second, he hesitates. Then, slowly, he pushes the door open.
The dance studio is huge. Taehyung has been there before, regarding Hoseok’s invitation, but he has never seen the opportunity to appreciate it while it’s empty. Except that, well, the noise he heard before wasn’t part of his imagination. It was, indeed, the noise of someone in there.
Park Jimin, to be more precise.
He’s dancing. So focused that he doesn’t even notice Taehyung walking in—either that or he deliberately chose to ignore his presence. Either way, he’s dancing, and the swirls Seokjin talked about the other day are presenting themselves right before Taehyung’s eyes, alongside with other dance moves that he has only watched before in TV. Although Taehyung has seen Jimin dancing before, those were mostly choreographies built by Hoseok or someone else in their dance group. He remembered teasing Jimin about never creating his own choreographies at the time and he remembers receiving a middle finger as his response.
This, though. This choreography, these movements, the fluidity in the way he moves and the serenity in the atmosphere around him. Taehyung has never seen a choreography put together by Jimin before, but he knows this is one of them. He knows, and, yet, when he looks closely and realizes Jimin’s been dancing with his eyes closed and the emotions have all been brought into the song by his arms and legs and the way the rest of his body moves rather than any kind of eye contact, he feels like there’s only one word to describe that.
Breathtaking. While dancing, Jimin is breathtaking. And he just took Taehyung’s.
The second he stops and closes his eyes—his chest going up and down with the heavy breathing, the back of his hand coming up to rest against his forehead and wipe away the sweat—it’s the moment he sees Taehyung. Then, he freezes.
“Oh,” mumbles Jimin, blinking. He seems surprisingly bewildered by Taehyung’s presence, and, well, he can’t be blamed. “I didn’t realize you were there. For how long have you been there?”
Taehyung clears his throat, “Not long. I heard something and came in to check on the studio.”
Jimin nods, reaching for the towel over the small table at the corner of the studio and rubbing it on his face. For a few seconds, it’s all silent, and Taehyung thinks he might turn around and leave when Jimin finally puts the towel down and sighs, sounding frustrated, “You watched the whole thing, didn’t you?”
“Not the whole thing. It was just—part of it.”
Jimin sighs again, “Great. That’s amazing.”
“I didn’t mean to,” says Taehyung, frowning, “No need to get all upset about it. I’ll just pretend I didn’t see anything.”
Instead of a bitter remark or an ironic stare, all Taehyung receives as answer for that is a short, “Yeah, good. That’s good. Just pretend you didn’t see anything.”
Taehyung frowns harder. If Jimin were trying to annoy him by barely paying any attention to his presence, he would at least put some effort into it. Instead, all he does is go back to wiping away the sweat and throwing the towel over his shoulder once he’s done. He can tell Taehyung is still there, standing still, watching closely until he decides to go something to piss him off, but he never does. He stares at himself in the mirror, runs his fingers through his hair and, just like that, walks past Taehyung and outside of the studio.
For a few moments, Taehyung stays there, dumbfounded. He has never been in the same room as Jimin without a single irritating remark coming from him—or, at least, an arrogant look. He’s been used to it for a while, and, well, having Jimin leave as if he didn’t even exist there should’ve made him even more mad, but, instead, it makes him curious. Maybe Jimin had a bad day. Maybe he got sick of their rivalry. Maybe something else.
The only moment he snaps out of his thoughts is when Hoseok shows up in the hallway and asks him about the drinks.
He figures that he can overthink later, when Jimin is at the party.
Jimin drinks a lot.
It’s not something Taehyung particularly notices. He might be exaggerating, even. Maybe it’s because he barely ever drinks anything, while Jimin downs those drinks as if they are water. Maybe Jimin doesn’t drink a lot, he just drinks a lot more than Taehyung. Aside from that, he doesn’t focus on him too much through the night. He looks around while he’s talking to some random stranger trying to befriend him and catches Jimin’s fluid dance moves coming off a lot emotional and a lot more—well, sensual—somewhere near the stairs, but, other than that, there isn’t much Jimin going on during the night. Taehyung flirts here and there, thinks about drinking a glass of something Yoongi brings him but gives up and dances for about ten minutes before it gets boring.
He could have suggested that, at some point, they played something. A typical party game, like Truth or Dare, Never Have I Ever or Paranoia. Those are fun when everyone’s sufficiently familiar with each other, and, well, he guesses he could say that about this particular party. He knows his friends and the people from the Drama club; besides, Jimin and Hoseok’s friends from the dance group aren’t strangers. It wouldn’t be such a terrible idea to play something and make sure the night was worth it.
Unfortunately, fate has other plans for him.
Before he gets the chance to walk up to Seokjin and suggest the games, he feels Namjoon’s careful touch on his shoulder and looks at him above his shoulders, frowning at Namjoon’s slightly concerned expression.
“What happened? Is something wrong?”
“I’m going to ask you something, and I know your first instinct will be to say no, but, please, give it a though.”
Taehyung blinks, “What is it?”
“I need you to take Jimin home.”
“What?” Taehyung squints, shaking his head, “Namjoon-hyung, no. Jimin knows everyone. Why do I have to take him home?”
Namjoon sighs, “He’s drunk, Taehyung, okay? We’ve been trying to talk to him all night, because he doesn’t usually get like this, but it’s no use. Besides, he won’t let any of his friends take him home. He feels like he’s being a burden by holding us back from enjoying the party or something so that we can take him home.”
“Well, he’s right.”
“If he’s declining your help, how come you believe he would ever accept mine?”
With a shrug, Namjoon answers, “You’re not his friend. He’s not fond of you. In fact, I don’t think he would ever miss an opportunity to ruin a party for you.”
“That sure makes me want to take him home.”
“Please, Tae. If you won’t do it for him, do it for me.”
That’s a low bow. Namjoon knows how incapable of saying “no” to his friends Taehyung is. He used to believe he would grow up to be someone who’s perfectly capable of denying or confirming when it’s needed, but, to be fair, he could never have expected such a good group of friends. He knows they would do anything for him. Which means there is no choice but to everything for them as well.
Sighing, Taehyung crosses his arms, “I won’t insist. If he says no, it’s a no. If he’s an asshole about it, I’ll be an asshole about it. If he doesn’t thank me once we’re there, I’ll flick him. Where is he?”
Namjoon beams at him, so incredibly happy it makes Taehyung feel guilty for not doing this more willingly, “Last time I checked, he went to the studio, because someone suggested we should put the drinks there. Not sure if he ever came back, though. You don’t think he passed out or something bad, right?”
The studio. Taehyung squints, the memories from a few hours earlier filling his thoughts. If Namjoon’s correct about Jimin’s behavior being unlikely all night, that might have something to do with the defensive way he acted once he realized Taehyung had been watching him dance. That means there might be a bigger explanation for him to take long in the studio than passing out or anything else that’s due the alcohol.
“I’ll go check on him, okay?” says Taehyung, “If anything happens, I’ll call you immediately. Otherwise, I’ll take him home and give you a call when we get there.”
He doesn’t quite wait too long for Namjoon’s response, taking a slight nod of his head as a basic one and spinning on his heels to go and find Jimin. If anyone had told him a week ago that he would play for the same team as Jimin in laser tag, watch him dancing and take him home after a party, Taehyung would’ve laughed at their face. It feels like someone’s either pulling a prank on him or testing to each level they can take his patience. With Jimin around, he thinks he might end up failing that test, sooner or later.
The hallway that leads to the studio is one of the most crowded ones—although he could say it is a different type of crowded. No one’s too embarrassed to make-out in the middle of the dance floor nowadays, but there are still people who would like their privacy. Well, what’s left of privacy for a party. Those people would probably look for a room if they were somewhere else, but this place isn’t a house and there are no beds nowhere near them, which means making out in the hallway with the weak lights seems to be a silent agreement among those people.
Taehyung elbows his way through the couples, trying his best not to draw too much attention or making it evident that he’s one of the only sober ones in there. Once he gets to the studio, which, he notices now, is considerably far—a stupid choice for a place to keep the drinks, if anyone asks him—and looks through the small window on the door, he finds that his suspicions weren’t only correct. They were exact. He should be a detective.
Right there, in the middle of the studio, as if the last few hours didn’t exist, Jimin dances. It’s less focused than earlier, but it’s still as fluid and packed with emotion. It reminds Taehyung of a few cartoons and a few movies he watched before about ballerinas, and, at the same time, he can’t quite put a finger to what makes Jimin’s dancing style different. He had always noticed that Hoseok’s movements were sharper, but, at the same time, when Jimin insinuated he was claiming Hoseok was more precise, he found it in himself to deny it.
Unreadable. For now, he’s going to go with unreadable.
Not wanting to seem like a creep while watching Jimin through the door, he pushes the door open and interrupts the movements with the sound of the wood. Jimin stops, a little more carelessly than last time, and quirks up an eyebrow at Taehyung instead of freezing. It seems more like him, but Taehyung can tell some of it comes from the alcohol.
“What do you want now, Taehyung?”
Taehyung sighs, crossing his arms over his chest, “Namjoon asked me to take you home.”
“Right,” Jimin laughs humorlessly, staring at him, “As much as I’d love to let you take me home, I’ve got stuff to do. Not that I can say the same about you, if you’re actually considering this instead of enjoying the party.”
“I’ve got stuff to do, but I’m doing my friend a favor,” Taehyung strikes back, “Unless you’d like to go home with him.”
“I won’t have him leave the party to take me home. This is stupid. I’m not drunk.”
Surprisingly, Taehyung doesn’t doubt that. Although Jimin’s cheeks seem to be painted a slight tone of pink and his posture seems to be a bit more relaxed than unusual, Taehyung wouldn’t guess he was drunk if he had to. Tipsy, maybe. Must have had a few more glasses than he’s used to, but not drunk.
“Still, you drank. You can’t drive home.”
“I won’t drive home. I’ll wait until the party is over and go back home with the same people who brought me.”
Taehyung rolls his eyes, “And those were?”
“Jungkook and Yoongi.”
“Oh, please. They’ve got more important stuff to do once this is over than taking you home.”
Jimin squints, “Well, then I’ll call a cab or walk home.”
“Why are you being so stubborn?” asks Taehyung, causing Jimin to squint harder, “I’m offering you help. You get to ruin the fun for me and gets home safely. Namjoon asked me for this, which means it must mean a lot for him that you get home right now, or he wouldn’t come to me for a favor that includes you. Just put two and two together, Jimin. It’s a win-win situation for everyone, except for me. Isn’t that just the way you like things?”
“Are you telling me you’re offering all of this out of the goodness of your heart?”
Taehyung sighs, “Take it or leave it. Last chance.”
It’s Jimin’s turn to sigh. He looks tired and something tells Taehyung it isn’t only from the small amount of dancing he just did. Although he never got along well with Jimin, he always noticed things about him—because it’s good to notice peculiarities about people. The thing about Jimin is his undying capacity of making the people he loves feel special and the people he doesn’t love feeling like they’re worth nothing but rock bottom.
Right now, though, any of their friends could walk in and Jimin’s mood still wouldn’t be half as carefree as most days. Not that it is any of Taehyung’s business, but not having anything to do with it doesn’t stop him from being curious or thinking about a way to know about whatever happened later.
“Fine,” says Jimin, finally, “I’ll go with you. Are you a good driver?”
“Why do I find it hard to believe?”
“Are you a good navigator?”
Jimin squints, “You need GPS to drive around town? Not that good of a driver, obviously.”
“Shut up,” Taehyung rolls his eyes. “I have no idea where you live, remember? We got to different universities and I don’t even know if you live in your dorm or somewhere else.”
Looking slightly gloomy, Jimin sighs, reaching for the coat he came with thrown over the table and putting it back on, “I live somewhere else. Relax, I am a great navigator. If you’re not as good as you claim to be as a driver, I’ll feel free to jump out of the car and leave you to face the consequences by yourself.”
Taehyung grins, leaning against the wall to give Jimin space to walk past him and saying, “I wouldn’t stop you. In fact, be my guest.”
“You’re so funny. Why aren’t you a comedian? Oh, that’s right. You can’t even get an audition as an actor.”
“You’re so brave. Why don’t you face me directly when you say those things? Oh, that’s right,” Taehyung’s grin grows, more mischievous than before, and Jimin squints at him in response, “You’re too short for that.”
Jimin’s jaw stiffens and Taehyung feels a hint of satisfaction at the accomplishment of annoying him—although it does come with a hint of guilt, because he told Namjoon he would be an asshole if Jimin were one and, well, they’ve been bickering since the moment he walked in and he can’t quite tell who started it.
While following Taehyung to the car, Jimin constantly checks his phone. Taehyung notices, as always. There is something that could easily be mistaken by concern on Jimin’s face, wasn’t it for the ability he has to hide the things he’s truthfully feeling. Whenever someone else questioned Jimin about his personal life or anything he didn’t want to share, he flirted his way out of the situation. With Taehyung, it was always been easier. All he had to do is say it was none of his business.
Once they are inside the car, Jimin stops checking his phone. Taehyung doesn’t ask him why or what happened—instead, he does what he’s here to do and starts driving. It’s been a while since he had a navigator, always finding the GPS or his instincts much more reliable, but Jimin insists when Taehyung suggests taking the GPS. Apparently, the apartment isn’t far enough for Taehyung to have to do that and Jimin might as well just say where it is, unless Taehyung is too dumb to take directions.
At some point, Taehyung’s phone rings, and, although he is aware he can’t answer it because he’s driving, he assured his friends from the Drama club who went looking for auditions for him that he would always have the phone at his reach. It makes him feel a little unsure, but he allows the ringing to cease. However, a few seconds later, it goes back to ringing, and he wrinkles his nose, fingers firm around the wheel.
Jimin hums, not bothering to open his mouth to let him know that he’s listening.
“Can you pick up my phone, please?” asks Taehyung. “I think it might be important.”
Jimin frowns, blinking, “No.”
“What? Oh, come on, Jimin, please.”
“What would be so important that I have to pick your phone up for you?”
“My friends were trying to get me an audition. It really is important,” Taehyung says, growing impatient at the sound of the ringing, “Please, Jimin. You won’t hear me saying those words plenty of other times in my life, so, please. I’m asking you.”
Jimin smirks, “I might as well not pick it up if you keep these pleads coming.”
“Are you for real?” Taehyung asks, rolling his eyes and gritting his teeth. “Fine, Jimin. Don’t pick it up for me. It’s not like I expected you to understand anyone else’s needs but your own.”
For a few moments, he expects Jimin to come up with a great insult back or to permanently fall into silence, pleased with the fact that he managed to piss him off. Instead, Jimin reaches for the phone when it’s about to stop ringing and, surprising Taehyung, picks it up. He looks directly at the window, but Taehyung can see the way his brows furrow in concentration.
“Hello, this is Kim Taehyung’s phone.”
Taehyung’s fingers around the wheel tighten. He hadn’t expected that. He hopes Jimin won’t make him show gratitude later or anything like it.
“Yes, he’s right here, but he’s driving, so. If you’d like, I can pass it on to him?” Jimin suggests, listening carefully, “Oh, is that so? Really? That’s really good. At what time, exactly? Okay. Okay, that’s—well, that’s great. Of course, I’ll tell him. Thank you so much. Yeah, have a good night as well.”
“So?” Taehyung asks, expectation bubbling in his chest, “Who was it?”
“It was your friend, Amber,” Jimin says, leaning forward to put the cell phone back and staring back at him. For a moment, Taehyung could swear he sees Jimin’s slight smile, “You got an audition. It’s for this unknown play, she said you’d know what it is about. It’s downtown and you should be there tomorrow by five.”
“Are you serious?”
“There’s a limit to the things I’d joke about, Taehyung.”
Taehyung continues to focus on the road, not even allowing his fingers to tremble a little, but the biggest smile appears on his face. He doesn’t even care if Jimin is going to mock him for being so excited about something as small as an audition for a play downtown, considering he’s still in college and those are plays where the actors don’t get paid. None of those matter, because he’s going to play a character in a play if he makes it past the auditions’ phase and that is worth handling any kind of remark from Jimin.
Surprisingly, Jimin doesn’t hold it against him. Instead, he goes back to staring at the window, and, when Taehyung pulls over right beside the sidewalk of Jimin’s place and he jumps out of the car, he looks inside one last time, pursing his lips and clearly debating with himself about what to say.
Before Taehyung gets the chance to be ironic, Jimin says, “Thank you and congratulations on the audition.”
While watching him close the door and enter the building, Taehyung catches himself squinting, wondering what just happened. Then, he remembers he’s got an audition, and he still has to call Namjoon to let him know Jimin got home safely, and decides that’s something he shouldn’t worry about at all.
Nevertheless, the next time they meet, things are going to be back to normal.
“So, you made it, huh.”
Taehyung frowns, staring up from his laptop and finding Jimin standing before his table—which is only technically his, because he doesn’t own the café he’s studying at. It’s been a few days since the audition and Taehyung’s first success, and he went out celebrating with the rest of his friends right after, but Jimin didn’t show up. Jungkook said he had other things to do. Taehyung didn’t care enough to overthink whether it was true or not.
“If you’re talking about the audition, yeah, I made it,” says Taehyung, crossing his arms over the table, “Why? Are you here to congratulate me?”
Jimin shrugs, “If you’d like.”
“Don’t be weird. I know that’s not why you’re here.”
“Why’d ask, then?”
“What do you want, Jimin?” Taehyung asks, gesturing towards the laptop with his chin, “In case you haven’t noticed, I have stuff to do. You know, I have to study. I’m in college and, although I am pretty sure you’re bummed that the audition jokes won’t work anymore, I still need my education before I become truthfully successful.”
Jimin rolls his eyes, clearly not fazed by the provoking tone of Taehyung’s voice, “I don’t have the time for this, either. I’m here because I want your help with something.”
Taehyung stops, caught off guard. Although he can’t say they’re mortal enemies or anything remotely dramatic enough for that, he can imagine how awful it was to Jimin to even admit Taehyung took him home the other night. Now, voluntarily asking for help despite their rivalry was the last thing he could’ve expected him to do.
“What could you possibly need my help with?”
“Hoseok told me you helped him with a choreography a while ago,” tells Jimin, pulling the chair and making himself comfortable, “He told me he had too much technique, but it was lacking emotion. You helped him, didn’t you? He said you would tell him each time he had to add more emotion to it, each time it was necessary to let go of the technique for a bit.”
Taehyung squints, “Where is this going?”
“I need your help doing the opposite.”
“The opposite, huh?”
“Come on, Taehyung. I know you saw me dancing the other day for long enough to realize there is barely any technique in anything I do. I like to think I’m prepared for any kind of choreography, but, despite studying this for years, I still can’t get the technique right, which is why I need your help. I need to stop putting so much emotion into it and start getting some technique into the game so I’ll have a shot, at least.”
“A shot at what?”
Jimin hesitates, “A dance competition.”
“Really? Which one?”
“Is that important?”
“Do you want my help?”
That makes him sigh, defeated, “The studio wants two representatives. Hoseok has already been chosen, for obvious reasons, but they’re putting together a competition to decide who’s going to be his partner. He tried convincing them that I’m a great partner and it shouldn’t take a competition to choose me, but they insisted; said it wouldn’t be fair to the others if I just took it.”
“Which is correct.”
“Would you let me finish?” Jimin asks, rolling his eyes, “Anyway, I need to be somewhere near Hoseok’s dancing skills if I want to be his partner and the studio representative, which means the emotion has to go and the technique has to, you know, come. I really need this, Taehyung.”
Taehyung sighs, leaning back against the chair and drumming his fingers over the table, “Listen, it’s not that I don’t understand why you’d come for me, out of all the people, if you need help. It’s just that I really, really don’t.”
“Didn’t I just tell you? Hoseok told me to come.”
“Yeah, but that probably wasn’t easy, was it?” Taehyung proceeds to ask, “We’re not exactly close. Did he just tell you to come looking for me and you said yes like that?”
Jimin blinks, squinting at Taehyung for a few long, long moments before he starts speaking again, “Okay, listen. I know we’re not close, okay? I know we’re constantly fighting and teasing each other and I know we’re both constantly assholes to each other. I know all of that. It doesn’t really bother me, if I’m being honest. But, right now, what I need is an opportunity that might actually do something for my future career. Being Hoseok’s partner might give me a chance to be teaching a class next year. It’s really, really important. Beyond how much I dislike you.”
Taehyung stops, pondering for a moment. Jimin is right—they are constantly fighting and teasing each other. They are so annoying that even their friends would make a deal to make sure they wouldn’t be in the same room and, therefore, wouldn’t disturb their peace. If he goes too deep into his mind, he even finds it in him to remember there isn’t an actual reason for them to dislike each other nowadays. Well, none other than the fact that they’ve been fighting for so long that even looking into each other’s eyes causes them to feel irritated.
This, though. This isn’t about some rivalry. Jimin might be someone who he dislikes, but Taehyung always had a good heart. He was never the type to help only the ones who he loves or cares about at the very least. If this were anyone else, he would’ve said yes immediately. Being Jimin, though, he thinks he might need a bit more than a couple minutes of thinking to make the decision.
The one thing is, he remembers the way Jimin danced—and yes, there were tons of unnecessarily emotional moves, but that only proves how much dancing means to him. It proves that there is emotion enough in the way he does for him to need to tone it down a little. For him to be forced to add technique, when his emotions are always so strong that people consider them enough to make it up for the lack of technique.
That night, while dancing and putting every single drop of his emotion into that dance, Jimin might’ve gotten Taehyung’s heart beating faster.
If that doesn’t mean Jimin deserves to be Hoseok’s partner, he doesn’t know what would.
“When is the competition happening?”
“In a couple of weeks.”
Taehyung nods, “Well, then, I’ll think about it.”
“Well, don’t you want me to?”
Jimin sighs, rubbing his face with his hands, seemingly tired. Taehyung tries not to think too much about the slightly dark bags under his eyes.
“I do want you to.”
“Then, it’s settled. I’ll think about it and, when I’m ready, I’ll give you my answer.”
“Right,” Jimin says, standing up slowly and frowning slightly at the mug of coffee close to Taehyung’s hand. “What are you drinking?”
Taehyung squints, “Iced coffee. Why?”
“Nothing,” answers Jimin, but, before Taehyung gets the chance to see what is happening, he grabs the mug and takaes a long sip. Taehyung whines in protest, annoyance level climbing up and up and up as Jimin places the mug over the table again and winks at him, leaving the café with a victorious glance.
Taehyung sighs once he’s gone, rubbing his temple. Helping Jimin. That does sound like a lot of work.
Maybe a lot more work than Taehyung is used to—and maybe not.
For the next round of laser tag, they decide to stick with the previous teams.
“It’s easier,” says Namjoon when Taehyung asks him why they would do that, “Besides, you guys kicked our asses and we have to find a way to get our revenge.”
“That’s right,” Seokjin agrees, smiling openly, “We shall take revenge for our Hoseok.”
“He didn’t die, and, if I may say, he probably lost on purpose so he wouldn’t have to be on the loser team,” teases Jungkook, evidently feeling confident due to their victory last time. Taehyung can’t say he’s feeling any different. If they won the first one, there is no reason not to win this one as well.
Yoongi clears his throat, approaching them after finishing putting on his outfit, “Hoseok didn’t lose on purpose. You might, though, after we’re done with you.”
“We both know that’s not true, babe.”
“Don’t get all gross now, the two of you,” Jimin requests, grabbing the gun from Hoseok’s hands and winking at him, “I’ll make sure that none of what happened the last game turns out to be in vain. Therefore, I will eliminate everyone else from this team so Hoseok won’t feel alone.”
Taehyung laughs, “Right. Because you were the one who eliminated him last time.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t hear anything over the sound of your voice calling me for help during the chase last time.”
“Oh, it’s so sweet that all you can hear is my voice. Is that a secret crush I smell?”
Jimin chuckles, dripping irony, “Yes, Taehyung. How did you find out? All of my life, all I wanted was to be one of your ex-boyfriends. You know, the ones who always end up disappointed, because they think you’ve got a pretty face and a nice personality, but they forget we can’t have it all.”
“That’s such an honor,” Taehyung squints, “You think I have a pretty face? I’ll go to sleep with that thought in my mind.”
“Well, isn’t that the biggest honor?”
“Jimin,” Namjoon calls, interrupting them, “Can you help me with something, please? A few feet away from Taehyung?”
Jimin blinks, looking around and noticing, at the same time as Taehyung, that their friends have been staring at the argument. He sighs, “I’m sorry. I know I said I can be in the same room as him without arguing and I will. Okay? That was just a little bit of fun for you guys.”
Taehyung squints. It makes him slightly surprised to notice that Jimin hasn’t changed his attitude around him at all despite the favor he asked, and, yet, it makes him slightly glad as well. He knows a sudden change of behavior would’ve made everyone suspicious, and, besides, there is some fun in teasing him and knowing he won’t get all sensitive about it in return.
“Aw. Sure it wasn’t a little bit of fun for you as well?”
Jimin clicks his tongue, staring directly into his eyes, “Don’t make me break my promises. I don’t want anybody here being disappointed at our behavior, do you?”
“No. By the way, very thankful that you’re worrying about people being disappointed at me.”
“My goal in life. Accomplished successfully.”
Apparently, that does it for the rest of their friends, who start moving around and preparing the game as if they weren’t even there. Taehyung squints in Jimin’s direction one last time and hurries to help Yoongi and Jungkook move the boxes accordingly. They need to make things harder by not allowing anyone to get used to the position of the boxes, which means not allowing the boxes to become safe areas. Happily, by helping them, Taehyung has advantage already.
When he goes to help Jungkook, though, grabbing the other edge of the box he’s carrying, he finds Jungkook stopping in the middle of their way upwards—because Yoongi thought it would be a great idea to take the box to the higher level of the place—and frowning at him.
“Uh,” Taehyung mumbles, “Why’d you stop? It isn’t that heavy, if I can take it.”
Jungkook frowns harder, taking a few moments to finally open his mouth and ask, “What happened between you and Jimin?”
“I asked what happened between you and Jimin.”
Taehyung blinks, looking around as if he’s looking for someone who will explain what Jungkook means, but, when nobody appears, he replies, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. Is this about the argument from a few minutes ago? Because that was barely an argument. I can’t believe we made you uncomfortable with that.”
“You did, but,” Jungkook starts, squinting now, “A different kind of uncomfortable.”
“I don’t know. You guys are acting different. Arguing different. I can’t put a finger on it.”
“Well, then let’s take this thing up there,” Taehyung requests, gesturing to the box, “And then you’ll figure it out. You know, when I’m not carrying something heavy.”
Jungkook grins, “I thought it wasn’t heavy.”
“A few moments ago, but we’re standing and I’m lazy.”
He hears a small chuckle coming from behind them and rolls his eyes, regretting the moment he spoke without looking around and making sure Jimin wasn’t there, “Woah, you’re lazy? I couldn’t have figured that out in a million years. Jungkookie, would you like some help? I wouldn’t want you to have any trouble carrying things around on your own.”
Taehyung looks above his shoulder, finding Jimin’s perfectly shaped brows quirked up at him, “If ‘Jungkookie’ needed your help, ‘Jungkookie’ would’ve said so.”
“Why are you saying that nickname like that? You used to call him that too, idiot.”
“Yeah, before you did. You ruined it for me.”
“Oh, really?” Jimin pouts, dramatically placing his fingers under Taehyung’s chin. It only lasts for a few seconds, but the way he gazes at him somehow makes Taehyung realize the thing Jungkook said a few moments ago, about how this kind of ‘argument’ being different than their usual kind of argument. It is, indeed. “That’s too bad. I guess you shouldn’t play today, then. Being the best is the next thing I’ll be ruining for you.”
Taehyung scoffs, “Yeah, we’ll see about that.”
This time, when Jimin moves away, Taehyung practically drops the box to the floor and ignores Jungkook’s noise of protest as he pulls his friend closer.
“There was something different about the way we talked, wasn’t there?”
Jungkook blinks, “Seriously? You just noticed?”
“What was it?”
“Like I said, I can’t put a finger on it. Did anything happen between you guys that we don’t know about?”
Taehyung thinks about it. He did see Jimin dancing, and that might’ve brought a slight impact to his sight of how beautiful Jimin is—although he’s come with terms with that for a while now. He’s beautiful and annoying. There is, though, the fact that Jimin came to him asking for a favor and wasn’t an asshole about him saying he’ll think about it; but then again, Taehyung hasn’t given his response yet, which means Jimin might as well be the one acting different in order to convince him.
Yes, that’s it. That’s definitely it.
“You know what? Forget it,” Taehyung says, shrugging, “Let’s go beat their asses.”
They win. Again.
This time, though, Jimin is the one with the most points in their team, and Taehyung wonders whether the commotion around them comes from the fact that Jimin actually managed to surpass Taehyung or the fact that Jungkook still hasn’t been the one with the most points in their team.
“You’re losing your charm,” Hoseok says, smiling at their tired expressions and tapping Jungkook’s shoulder comfortingly, “What happened to the guy who’s good at everything?”
Jungkook sighs, “He got stuck in a team with two guys who hate each other and constantly need to prove themselves better than one another.”
“Ah, that’s cute.”
“I think you guys might’ve noticed this by now,” Taehyung says, ignoring Jungkook’s previous phrase and opening his arms excitedly, “But Yoongi-hyung is the one with the least points in the red team. Which means he’s out. Which means he is no longer the leader, which means you guys did pick the wrong leaders—”
“You’re bragging after being third best,” Yoongi cuts, winking ironically at him, “Surely you wouldn’t have been any better as a leader.”
Seokjin sighs loudly, throwing his arms around Yoongi, “We are surely going to miss you in our team, our brave captain. I cannot say the same about the other team, however. It is very unfortunate that they ended up with the teammates they did, but we can always blame that on your boyfriend.”
“Hey,” Jungkook squints, “How is it my fault that, if I didn’t pick them both, they would kill each other in different teams?”
“You guys do realize that, if you keep winning, Taehyung and Jimin might be the only two left?” Namjoon asks, clearly getting them to think, and Taehyung gasps, as if he’s in disbelief that they would be bringing that up, “Yeah, picture that. We’re all here, watching them running after each other.”
“Get back in the game, Jungkookie,” Jimin requests, ruffling Jungkook’s hair and sending Taehyung a grin, “I wouldn’t want that as my last challenge.”
Hoseok laughs, stopping Taehyung from answering, and stretches out his arms, “Hey, we were talking about going out after this. Does anyone have anything better than to do than to go and get some ice cream? I suggest each person from the losing team treats one person from the winning team.”
“Which means you’re treating no one?” Yoongi asks.
“That’s right. Too bad you guys dumped me from the game too soon.”
“Convenient,” says Seokjin, “That sounds okay to me. I don’t have anything better than to do. You know, there’s studying, but who cares about that?”
Taehyung chuckles, “You do. You’re a great student. Why the irresponsible guy façade, hyung?”
“I’m still your hyung. Respect my antics.”
“I’ll drive my car,” says Jungkook, “If anyone’s interested in a ride.”
Taehyung tilts his head, and, before he gets the chance to make his joke, Yoongi warns, “I think you should probably think twice. You know, about what you’re going to say.”
“Oh, come on,” Taehyung chuckles, “It’s an innocent joke. Do you think so low of me, hyung?”
“No, Tae,” Yoongi says, rolling his eyes at him, but the smile on his lips is evident. Now that Taehyung thinks about it, there were times when he didn’t quite enjoy Yoongi’s company, because he misjudged him as the cold asshole who had stolen Jungkook’s heart. He can see, now, that Yoongi is none of those—he didn’t steal Jungkook’s heart; Jungkook gave it to him on a silver platter. There is also nothing cold about him. “Who else is coming with us, then?”
“I drove here today, so I assume I’ll have to take my car,” says Taehyung, pouting at Yoongi, “Next time, my lovely hyung.”
Yoongi rolls his eyes again, gums showing as he smiles this time, “Anyone else driving?”
“I am,” Namjoon says, raising his hand and spinning the keys on his fingers, “Would anyone like to join me?”
“Yes,” Seokjin says immediately, “Please. Me.”
“I’ll go with Taehyung,” Hoseok announces, smiling at the dramatic way Taehyung opens his arms towards him, “I know he likes driving with someone who won’t care too much about the songs he listens to, although none of us is exactly used to them. We should always be gentle.”
Jimin scoffs, “Right. Be gentle.”
“We were having such a nice conversation, without your voice in it,” Taehyung says, and, as always, it only makes Jimin’s confidence boost due to the fact that Taehyung still gets affected enough by his presence to start the teasing.
“I could barely hear your voice. Guess it was muffled by the voices of the people who I actually care about.”
“You don’t care about me? Oh. That hurt.”
“I’m certain that it did. Joon-hyung, I’m coming with you too.”
Hoseok frowns, leaning backwards, “You’re not going with Jungkook?”
“Oh, trust me, I’ve learned my lesson from the last time I agreed to go in the same car as those two,” Jimin says, wrinkling his nose at them, “You’re such a gross couple. How come we’re always putting up with you?”
“Well,” Yoongi grins, “We always put up with you and Taehyung.”
They fall into silence for five seconds before Taehyung and Jimin start talking at the same time.
“That’s not even worth comparing.”
“You’re a couple.”
“That’s more offensive than anything you’ve ever said.”
“Woah, you guys sure are intense today,” Seokjin says, pulling the sleeves of his shirt up, “And, although it’s very entertaining to watch you guys and everything, and, trust me, it is, I still find ice cream a lot more entertaining. Shall we?”
“Yes,” Hoseok answers, not giving Taehyung the opportunity to as he hooks their arms together, “We shall.”
A few hours later, Taehyung finds himself leaning against the bench of the park, done with his ice cream, listening to his fingers talking without caring too much about the subject. Because he knows, it isn’t important and because the weather is so pleasant that he allows himself a few moments of simply looking up at the sky and thinking of himself as an adult who doesn’t have any kinds of duties or responsibilities.
While they’re talking and he’s thinking about the plays he wish he could do and the plays he might end up doing in the future, regardless of how hard it would be, he looks back at his friends and smiles as he notices their enthusiastic conversation. Apparently, the current theme is Anime. Now, usually, if he heard that word, he would immediately join them, but, right now, as the ever-so-attentive person he is, Taehyung notices that someone is missing.
Nowhere to be seen.
Jungkook’s sitting on the grass, back against Yoongi’s legs. Seokjin is sitting beside Yoongi, with an arm around Hoseok, who’s beside him. Then, on the other bench, there are Taehyung and Namjoon. Jimin was right next to Namjoon before, but now he isn’t. Nobody seems to be talking about it, but he never said goodbye either, which means that he mustn’t have left yet. At least, not back to his place.
Taehyung tilts his head, trying not to make it too obvious that he’s genuinely considering abandoning his moment of peace to go and look for Jimin when no one else is saying anything. He should conclude that, if the rest of Jimin’s friends—who are actually fond of him—are not worried about his absence, then neither should Taehyung be.
The rest of Jimin’s friends never saw him dancing or had to say they’d be thinking about the favor he asked them, though. That’s Taehyung. Which is why, right now, comparing himself to the rest of Jimin’s friends might not be such a great idea.
“Hey,” He taps Namjoon’s shoulder lightly, drawing his attention for long enough to say, “I’ll be right back,” and receiving a nod in response.
Taehyung sighs lowly, frustrated at his own inability to not worry about people whose business he shouldn’t be meddling with. Especially because this is about Park Jimin, his sworn enemy. Albeit he already did make it clear to his own mind that such a strong part is a bit too much. Maybe not a sworn enemy, but definitely an enemy of some kind.
But heroes get worried about their enemies all the time. All Taehyung has to do is make sure he sounds like the hero in this scenario.
The park isn’t that big, which means finding Jimin won’t be such a hard task—which doesn’t stop the part of Taehyung who enjoys teasing Jimin so much to fabricate jokes about finding such a small person in such a big place. He tries to think outside the box and goes somewhere less crowded, instead of somewhere with lots of people, which would usually be Jimin’s scenario. Not that there are enough people there to be considered a crowd, but, well.
Gladly, it doesn’t take Taehyung too much to find Jimin. When he sees the man, he’s sitting under a tree, spinning a flower between two fingers, and Taehyung can’t help but think about how much of a scene that came out from a movie that seems. It’s nostalgic, even, to look at Jimin like this. Like he’s nothing more than a man having a melancholic moment in the nature.
Taehyung starts turning around and leaving, now that he knows Jimin is doing okay, but he hears the man clearing his throat behind him and sighs. He should’ve learned how to be silent if he wanted to be an actual hero.
“Hi,” says Jimin, “What are you doing here?”
Taehyung stuffs his hands into his pockets, “I was taking a walk. Why? Can’t I?”
He frowns, “Is that all?”
“Yes, that’s all,” Jimin replies, shrugging, “Why? Do you want me to have a problem with you taking a walk?”
“Woah, you’re acting so not normal right now,” Taehyung says, widening his eyes to cause a dramatic effect, but, when Jimin doesn’t even bother to make a smart remark due to that, he finds himself walking closer and leaning his shoulder against the tree, looking down at him, “Are you okay?”
“Don’t act like you care, okay?”
Taehyung sighs, “How come you’re acting normal when we’re around the others, but when it’s the two of us again, you act like that?”
“I don’t know. Cold. Just plain rude.”
“I’m always rude to you.”
“Nah,” Taehyung says, shifting with the grass, “You’re always teasing. Always making me want to strike back at something you say, always being annoying. But you’re never plain rude, not like this. It’s like you’re not even feeling like it’s worth it to tease me anymore.”
Jimin sighs, “Is it that big of a deal? So, I don’t want to tease you anymore. Shouldn’t you enjoy that?”
“Okay, that’s it,” announces Taehyung, squatting down so that their eyes are on the same level and stares firmly at him, “What’s wrong with you? I mean it, okay. I saw the way you were at the studio that night, and your behavior when we were in the car and right now are only proving to me that you’re faking all the ‘fun teasing’ when we’re around our friends. Is that what’s different? Because Jungkook said there is something different about the way we’re arguing today, and I can’t say he’s wrong.”
“You’re so weird,” Jimin mumbles, looking down at his feet, “You’re bothered because I’m trying to be nicer. How is that a thing, now?”
“You’re trying to be nicer?”
With a deep, loud sigh, Jimin gazes at him again, “I’ve told you, Taehyung. Being the representative for my studio is very important for me. I’ve been giving it all of me lately, and it’s been—it’s been very, very stressful. That’s why I look down most times. Now, about me arguing with you? I’ve been doing my best for no one else to realize I’m exhausted. Maybe I’m a little different when I’m stressed and teasing someone. Who cares? It’s not like I’m being worse to you.”
“So, you’re acting?” Taehyung asks, shaking his head, “You’re acting all tough and normal in front of everyone, and then you come to the park and rest under a tree and cry over your problems? Is that your thing now?”
“Very helpful if you put it like that.”
“I’ll help you, Jimin.”
Jimin stops, practically frozen, and stares at Taehyung as if he has just gone insane, “What?”
“With the choreography. You said you needed technique, and I learned a lot when I helped Hoseok. You were right about that. I can tell your moves are too packed with emotion and I can admit it affects the professionalism of your dance. Besides, we’re not close, so I won’t feel guilty about pointing out mistakes and correcting you as much as I need. Is that okay with you?”
“Woah, hang in there, Taehyung. I don’t want you to help me out of pity or something.”
“Oh, please,” Taehyung rolls his eyes, “Out of pity? I finally got a part in an actual play, Jimin. I’d expect you to know, considering all the jokes about it. If I’m doing anything else besides studying for that period, it definitely won’t be out of pity.”
For a few more seconds, Jimin simply stares at him, squinting a little in disbelief. Taehyung can comprehend it. He’s surprised with himself, but, deep down, there must be some part of him yelling out that this is the right thing to do.
“Okay. Thank you, Taehyung.”
Taehyung inhales, nodding, “That’s alright. I’ll text you with the details of when we can start.”
“You don’t have my number.”
“We have, like, a hundred friends in common. I’ll get it somewhere.”
When Taehyung tells Jungkook about helping Jimin, his reaction turns out as shocked as he had imagined it.
In fact, while Taehyung had expected a frozen moment and then some very insulting words for someone who doesn’t understand Jungkook’s surprised state, he got way less than that. All Jungkook did was stand there, speechless for about five minutes before he suggested Taehyung thought about it twice—and thrice, and all the other times he had to.
“I’m honored to know that you’re so concerned. Really, I am,” Taehyung says, shrugging as he reaches for the orange juice in the fridge and places it over the table, before Jungkook’s still very startled eyes. It’s Jungkook’s dorm, not his, but he’s used to being around and acting like he owns it as well. “But I know what I’m doing. I’m a grown-up. Besides, we are your best friends. I thought it was your dream to have us becoming closer.”
“Yeah, a dream I gave up years ago,” Jungkook argues, “When I realized you couldn’t stand each other.”
“Well, pride got the best out of him.”
“And what got the best out of you?”
Taehyung sighs, pouring the juice in two glasses and wrapping Jungkook’s fingers around one of them himself, considering how frozen he still seems to be, “I want to help. I don’t want to be a child about this. If we were children, I would laugh at him. If we were teenagers, I would sabotage his audition. As an adult, I want to help him, regardless of how much we dislike each other.”
“Which clearly isn’t that much anymore.”
“What does that mean?”
“I told you the way you were arguing was different,” Jungkook says, “I did.”
“Yeah, it was different because the guy is exhausted,” explains Taehyung. “Listen, I’m not here to defend Jimin. We both know that. All I know is, he needs help and I am skilled enough to give him that help. What’s the harm in that?”
Before Jungkook gets the chance to respond, they hear the sound of the door opening and Yoongi’s ever-so-calm voice announcing he arrived. Now, Jungkook and Yoongi are not roommates, but Jungkook doesn’t have a rommmate and Yoongi’s isn’t the best, which means he is constantly acting as if the place is his as well.
When Yoongi sees Taehyung, all he does is nod with his head, send him a small smile and walk toward Jungkook to peck his lips quickly.
“I’m glad you’re home, Yoongi-hyung,” says Taehyung, “I was hoping you could get your boyfriend’s head out of his ass.”
Jungkook squints at him; which Yoongi ignores, chuckling gently and reaching for the untouched glass of juice, taking a sip, “Sure. I’m always here to make sure my boyfriend’s head remains out of his ass.”
“Okay, so, to sum this up. I saw Jimin overworking himself with his dance the day of the party, then he came to ask for my help with his dancing skills a bit after and, recently, when we went to the park, I said yes. Now, we’re working together and your boyfriend thinks it’s a stupid idea.”
Yoongi frowns, switching his gaze between Taehyung and Jungkook, “Well, to be honest, I think it’s a good idea.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah, babe, I’m serious. We’re all adults here. If Jimin needs help and Taehyung has what it takes to help him, I don’t see why this wouldn’t be a great idea.”
Taehyung squints, tilting his head, “See, that’s the problem with sarcasm. I can’t tell whether you’re being serious or laughing inside.”
Yoongi rolls his eyes, taking one more sip of the drink and putting it back over the table, “I’m being serious. I think it’s very mature to help someone who you dislike, especially when your rivalry with that person is enough for your friends to go out with you separately for a while.”
“You won’t let that go, huh.”
“I got so tired, you have no idea,” He says, sighing. “Regardless, okay? It’s a good idea. Just do as you please, because it’s good.”
Jungkook sighs, leaning backwards when Yoongi cards his fingers through his hair gently, massaging his scalp. When his eyes meet Taehyung’s eyes, he lets out another sigh and nods, “Okay, then. If everyone thinks this is a good idea, I might as well support it. At least, if it works, I won’t keep on regretting the day I introduced the two of you.”
“But don’t get too confident, Kookie,” Taehyung says, winking at him, “We’re still not going to be best friends.”
The first thing to go wrong with Taehyung and Jimin’s agreement is the schedule.
Taehyung was expecting Jimin not to be okay with all of the schedule he put together for them, but he definitely did not see Jimin’s utter and complete rejection coming his way. Apparently, their classes are in very incompatible times, and Jimin might end up having to ditch part of his dancing sessions at the studio if he wants to catch up with Taehyung before he play’s rehearsals.
“I need them to know that I’m a good dancer,” Jimin had said the first time they argued about it. “What’s the use in all of this if the people from the studio won’t see me dancing?”
“Dance for a bit and come to meet with me,” Taehyung had responded, firm enough to sound like he knew what he was doing. “What’s the use in the people from the studio seeing you dance if it’s not as their representative?”
Then, slowly, after the schedule, they had issues with the car.
Apparently, Jimin had expected Taehyung to be able to pick him up and drive him to the studio. Unfortunately, there was no turning back from that, because, no matter how much Taehyung tried arguing his way out of this, Jimin couldn’t find a car out of nowhere and start driving and Taehyung couldn’t stop the fact that he has time to get the car and pick him up.
Last—but not least—there is the most predictable one: not agreeing at stuff that involves dancing.
According to Jimin, Taehyung might know how to apply the technique, but he doesn’t know the technique, which means he shouldn’t tip Jimin on how to put his feet here and there, neither on how to move his arms, but on how to make those more realistic and less emotional. According to Taehyung, doing all of those without moving his arms and feet a little to try and demonstrate was impossible—and, according to his weak part, slightly painful due to the amount of practicing Jimin does before calling it a day.
It’s in the afternoon, a few days away from their next laser tag game and a few hours away from Taehyung’s play rehearsal, that they find something they can agree on.
Taehyung is still trying to get Jimin to move his arms in a way that seems more precise, and Jimin is still trying to do his spinning moves without stopping excessively gracefully when he actually manages to stop in the position Taehyung’s been telling him to try for at least an hour. Immediately, Taehyung opens his arms and lets out an exclamation of gratitude.
“That’s it! Was that so hard to do?”
Jimin squints at him, shoulders and chest moving up and down due to his tiredness, “It’s easier said than done. Are you sure that was right?”
“Yes, that was right. You were supposed to stop just like that. Can you do it again?”
“I can try.”
“Well, then, please do.”
Jimin sighs, and, although it still takes a few more minutes before he manages to do that same movement again, Taehyung can tell it’s slowly getting better. Now, they’ve been only practicing together for a couple of days, but he can feel Jimin’s determination and how bad he wants this to work. Somehow, that convinces him that all the headache will be worth it in the end. He might be the hero, after all.
“Can you do one of those waves with your body that Hoseok does?” Taehyung asks at some point, finger resting under his chin, “You know, the ones that are really, really cool.”
Jimin blinks, “A wave? You’re impressed by a wave?”
“I know you can do it, I’m just asking whether you can do it like him or not.”
“Describe ‘like him’.”
Taehyung sighs, ignoring Jimin’s confused stare as he walks towards the center of the studio, facing his reflection in the mirror. Then, he opens his arms and legs and tries doing the exact same move as Hoseok. Obviously, it doesn’t work—not only because Taehyung’s dancing skills are good, but not as good as Hoseok’s, but also because he loses a bit of his balance and finds himself not-so-discreetly stumbling backwards.
The one thing he did not expect was the laugh Jimin let out.
It sounds like a laugh of pure mockery at first, but, when Taehyung turns around to squint at him, he finds that Jimin’s genuinely laughing, covering his mouth with his hand and crouching with his free hand on his stomach. He remembers the time Jungkook made a joke about Jimin not being able to see when he laughed because his eyes turned so small and Yoongi’s comment that the only thing more adorable about his laugh was the way he placed his small fingers over his mouth.
He doesn’t quite comprehend why those things are rushing back into his memories now, but he can affirm they are both genuine. Jimin has been looking either gloomy or annoying for the past few days, always stressed out, always on the verge of exploding. Right now, though, while laughing at Taehyung’s subtle dance movements, he looks light.
Taehyung barely realizes he’s chuckling a bit to himself as well at the sight of Jimin before Jimin starts recovering from all the laughter, bringing his hand up to wipe away a tear that escapes his eyes.
“I am sure that’s exactly how Hoseok does that,” says Jimin, sounding like he’s having fun rather than making fun of Taehyung, “But, no, I don’t think I can make it. I have really good reflexes, but I doubt I’d ever be able to go stumbling around as well as you did.”
“You’re so funny.”
“I’m serious. You should do that in your play.”
Taehyung rolls his eyes, holding back his smile now, “Stop mocking me or I might help you screw up your choreography.”
“Sorry, sorry,” Jimin says, raising his arms in surrender, “Didn’t mean to offend you. I just really liked the wave.”
“Are there any other moves you’d like to show me?”
Taehyung squints, “You’re impossible, aren’t you?”
“I thought we had established that already, years ago,” comments Jimin, smiling and cocking his head to the side, “Isn’t that why we dislike each other’s guts so much? Because we’re both impossible. We can’t stand each other. Everybody knows that.”
With a sigh, Taehyung nods, “Yeah. Sure. We’ve established that. But, do you ever wonder why?”
Jimin stops smiling, calm expression dissolving into a confused one, “What do you mean ‘wonder why’?”
“Why we’re always at each other’s throats, I guess.”
“Well, that’s odd,” Jimin says, crossing his arms. “We’ve been like this for years. Why are you asking me that now? You’re not getting cold feet on this rivalry now that you realized I’m always superior to you whenever it comes to teasing, are you?”
“I’m serious, Jimin.”
Jimin frowns, “Okay. Uh, let me see. I guess it all started when I met you and realized you were into Jungkook.”
“Right, how did you even realize that?” Taehyung asks, “I had no idea.”
“The way you looked at him. When I entered the room, I was really excited to meet his best friend, because, you know, if you can make your crush’s best friend fall in love with you, you can definitely make your crush fall for you as well. However, the moment I saw you two laughing together and the way you looked at him, I just realized it wouldn’t be that easy.”
“You didn’t have to come at me the way you did, though,” says Taehyung, “I had no idea of what I felt. Even if I did, we didn’t have to be enemies because we had a crush on the same guy. Especially when it’s the same guy everyone has a crush on.”
Jimin chuckles, “Yeah, but I was a teenager and you guys were the closest. I got jealous. It might’ve been very childish of me, but you never put any effort into not making a big deal out of this either.”
“Well, yeah. Was I supposed to hear you teasing and leave it?”
“If you were more mature than I was, yes.”
“I was a teenager, too,” argues Taehyung, although it doesn’t feel like an argument. Not at all. “I wonder if that’s the reason why our friends only started hanging out with us separately recently.”
“We’re not teenagers anymore,” He explains. “One would’ve expected us, as adults, to be able to be in the same room without bickering or constantly voicing how we’re displeased by each other’s presences. When they realized we were still like this, despite not being teenagers anymore; well, that must’ve been annoying.”
Jimin tilts his head, apparently thinking about it. This is one of the most friendly conversations they have ever had, and, somehow, Taehyung wishes it wouldn’t stop. Not because he’s been wanting to befriend Jimin or anything like it, but because, for once, it doesn’t feel exhausting to be around him. Instead, it feels normal, like he’s talking to someone who he hasn’t been “sworn enemies” with for years.
“I guess we do have more things in common nowadays,” says Jimin, “Less reasons to dislike each other and everything. But it did turn into some kind of daily thing for us to not see eye to eye on things, didn’t it? It’s something we’re used to, and our friends are okay with anything as long as we don’t make them uncomfortable.”
Taehyung’s nose wrinkles, “So, we only dislike each other now because we’ve grown used to it?”
“Yeah. That’s pretty much it.”
After a few moments of silence, thinking about it and letting it sink in that they might be, indeed, correct and that they might, indeed, dislike each other over nothing relevant, Taehyung sighs. This has been working out well. He better not be the one to screw it up by trying to change things.
“We’ve had our pause. Come on. I still have a few hours before rehearsal. Let’s dance.”
The blue team wins again the next week.
It’s mostly because of their newfound teamwork. Jungkook grabs the flag and wins the most points, apparently bringing back the thought that he’s the best at everything, but both Taehyung and Jimin participate a lot in that victory. Somehow, they managed to have Jungkook’s back and chase Namjoon—who got the least points—to make sure he wouldn’t catch their flag at the same time. Yoongi and Hoseok were cheering for the red team while watching them—which made Jungkook pout and refuse to dedicate his victory to his boyfriend—but none of that was effective enough.
“We’re going to have to split this team next time,” Jungkook tells Taehyung and Jimin once they’re done with the round, drinking from their bottles of water and recovering their breaths, “Who’s going to be on the red for the other game?”
Jimin’s nose scrunches, “Not me. I want to keep on winning.”
“Well, but you won’t, if I switch teams,” Taehyung says, to which Jimin only rolls his eyes.
“Right. Because you were responsible for our victory.”
“Hey, I got the most points in the first week.”
“We’re in the third week. The first week became irrelevant,” Jimin argues, “Now, Jungkook is the best. Next week, it will be me.”
Taehyung chuckles, “Right. We’ll see about that.”
Jimin sticks out his tongue before walking away to talk to Seokjin. Taehyung barely realizes Jungkook’s been staring at him until he turns to look at him, frowning.
Jungkook squints, expression unreadable, and shakes his head, “Nothing.”
“You know you can talk to me, right?”
“Well, yeah,” says Jungkook, “Do you know that you can talk to me?”
Taehyung blinks, surprised, “When did I ever not talk to you about anything?”
“Hey, you guys,” Hoseok calls, gesturing towards the exit of the place, “We’re going to the movies now. Is everyone coming?”
Yoongi raises his hand immediately—and so does Jungkook, once he sees his boyfriend. Seokjin raises his arms and yells out in confirmation, which gathers laughter from all of them. Then, Namjoon announces he’s coming as well, and there are only two people left to confirm it.
Taehyung tilts his head, “Yeah, I don’t think so. I have some new lines of my script to get rehearsed, so I think I better go home for the day.”
“Are you sure?” asks Namjoon, “We can always help with the lines if you need it.”
“Nah, that’s alright. You should go and have fun.”
Seokjin throws his arms around Taehyung, bringing him close, and caresses his hair, “Well, we will make sure to have fun for you, my dear. What about you, Jiminie? You coming with us?”
“M’tired,” says Jimin, “I should probably just go home.”
“Well, do you have a ride?”
Taehyung blinks, asking before he gets the chance to think twice about it, “Or I can drive you home.”
“Oh,” Jimin stops, and, clearly, he isn’t the most surprised among them. Hoseok sends a look so confused towards than that Taehyung tries not to take any offense. Of course, he understands it—the one time he drove Jimin somewhere was because Namjoon asked him to. They weren’t expecting him to be nice out all sudden. In fact, neither did him. “Are you sure? I can walk, that’s alright.”
Jimin’s lips purse and he nods, “Okay, then.”
“Grab your coat,” Taehyung says, pretending not to notice the way Jungkook squints at him, “Everyone else, have fun for us!”
“Sure,” says Yoongi, offering them a smile, “And you two, don’t do anything we wouldn’t.”
Taehyung rolls his eyes and doesn’t look back as he hears Jimin following him toward the car.
Somehow, it’s less awkward this time. Although it still doesn’t feel completely comfortable to have Jimin on the passenger seat, telling Taehyung where to go when he says he doesn’t remember the exactly road he has to take, it feels like they might be getting somewhere far from hate. It might be because of the constant need to talk lately, or because of the pressure of having the same group of friends and being the only two of them not to consider themselves close—albeit that would be coming from inside, because their friends have added no pressure.
Regardless of the reason why, Taehyung finds himself shifting in his seat before they get to Jimin’s apartment and asking, “Would you mind listening to some music?”
Jimin frowns, “Are you asking for permission to listen to music in your own car?”
“You’re here too, aren’t you?”
“Do you usually ask for permission to do things just because someone else is in your car?”
Taehyung rolls his eyes, “Can I have a straightforward answer for once, please?”
“Sure,” Jimin says, shrugging, “Go ahead. Play all the music you’d like.”
He does. He plays some of the songs his friends are always complaining about and waits for some kind of complaint for Jimin, but never hears it, because Jimin is too busy looking outside the car, contemplating the streets. Taehyung wishes there was a way to try and make conversation without sounding like a teenager trying to befriend someone.
“So,” He starts, “Everyone thinks it’s weird that we’re barely arguing these days.”
Jimin hums, “I’m too tired from the practicing, but don’t worry. Once the competition is over, I’ll make sure to argue with you all I can. I’ll make it up for the lost time.”
“You’re always so funny.”
“Sure, you love it.”
“Doesn’t it feel like we’re not sworn enemies anymore?”
Jimin chuckles, probably because of the sudden question in the middle of the conversation, “What’s with you and the sworn enemies’ talk? Do you want to be my friend or something? ‘Cause, if there’s anything you’d like to say, you’d better just say it. It’s getting worrisome, all the smiles and friendly words.”
Taehyung sighs, “I don’t know. I guess I’m speaking before I get to think.”
“That has always been a problem for you.”
“You can’t help it, can you?”
“No,” Jimin chuckles again, “Sorry. It’s just, I’m always thinking about little jokes here and there, and, when it comes to you, I don’t have to hold back from voicing them.”
“Because you don’t care about my feelings?”
“Oh, come on. Because you always strike back. It’s like we’ve grown so used to it that none of us ever gets truly offended anymore.”
Taehyung tilts his head, “Well, that does make sense. We’re not the same lately, though.”
“Well, you are going around giving me rides and helping me with my dancing skills,” says Jimin, shrugging, “Obviously, we wouldn’t be so unbelievably unreasonable around each other while we’re stuck together for so long. Besides, you’re starting all these talks about how we are not sworn enemies anymore.”
“But are we?”
“I don’t know if we’ve ever been, Taehyung. We’re adults, why are we even bringing up the possibility of being sworn enemies or something? This isn’t High School anymore.”
Taehyung sighs, “I don’t know. I guess it’s just weird to be around you and not feel like fighting all the time.”
“Well, I’m honored.”
“Yet, you’re always making jokes.”
“Want me to stop?”
For a few seconds, Taehyung thinks about saying yes. But, then, he realizes there is barely any reason to talk to Jimin unless they’re cracking jokes or bickering and shakes his head negatively.
“I’m alright with the jokes.”
“Good. My apartment is right there.”
Taehyung nods, moving his hands over the wheel and parking the car. As soon as Jimin jumps out, this time, he looks inside, squinting at Taehyung for a few seconds before sighing.
“Want to come in?”
“Woah. I didn’t know you were this organized.”
“Thanks, I guess. Hoseok comes over and helps me get everything clean and presentable sometimes.”
Taehyung nods, looking around as shortly as possible. The apartment isn’t huge, but it isn’t as small as the ones in the dorms either. Jimin’s room is the most organized part of it, and Taehyung doesn’t linger in there for too long. Jimin tells him to find a seat on the couch and offers him a coffee. Despite of how awkward it feels and how many lines he has to work on at home, Taehyung accepts it.
“I don’t have any iced coffee,” says Jimin, handing him a mug, “I hope this isn’t too strong.”
“I can handle it,” Taehyung responds, pursing his lips, “So. Do you feel like you’re getting better at the whole ‘lacking technique’ thing?”
Jimin sighs, sitting on the armchair, “I sure hope so. It’s getting closer and closer, and I feel like everyone’s giving it their all. Hoseok offered to give me some tips on his own routine to make sure we get along well, you know, while dancing.”
“Did you take it?”
“No, not really,” Jimin shrugs, “It wouldn’t be fair if I had his routine when the others don’t. I want to win this fairly.”
Taehyung nods, “That’s nice.”
“What about you, though? How’s that play going?”
“Oh, it’s alright. I can’t seem to get some of those lines in my head, but I guess that’s normal. I’m just an amateur, after all. I just hope they won’t realize that and grow sick of me making everything else very amateur-ish in the play.”
Jimin stops with his own mug a few inches away from his lips and stares at Taehyung through his eyelashes, nearly like he’s trying to figure out whether Taehyung’s being serious or joking. When the man makes no mention to smile or laugh about it, Jimin brings his mug down and properly looks at him.
“I can’t believe I’m going to be the one telling you this,” He says, “But you’re a great actor, Taehyung. Regardless of being an amateur, you’re good. I bet there are lots of famous actors who still find it hard to get some of the lines right. That’s why they come up with the lines themselves, during the scenes. If I were a screenwriter, I’d be constantly annoyed.”
Taehyung squints, “Did you just compliment me?”
“Well, if you consider ‘being a good actor’ a compliment.”
“Never thought I’d hear you saying that.”
“Why not?” Jimin frowns, “Last time I checked, you weren’t that humble.”
Taehyung rolls his eyes, “I’m not being humble. You were the one who always talked about me getting no auditions. I figured that meant you thought I sucked as an actor.”
“I only did that to mess with you,” He says, “I genuinely think you’re a good actor. Besides, you got the part, right? They wouldn’t give up on the guy who got the part. You were the best back then, you’ll keep on being the best there now. Don’t stress over those lines too much.”
“Woah, that’s a huge compliment coming from you.”
“Yeah, I’m that important.”
Taehyung chuckles, taking one more sip of his coffee and sighing, “Do you ever wondered what would have happened if Yoongi never showed up in our lives?”
Jimin frowns, “No, but I’ll make sure to let him know that you’ve been thinking about it.”
“Shut up. I mean, with Jungkook. Do you think he would’ve been with one of us?”
That causes Jimin to squint, clearly thinking about it. Taehyung can’t say that’s something he thinks about a lot, considering how long it has been since he got over Jungkook, but the doubt always lingers when he’s around Jimin and thinks about the different kinds of friendships they’ve got.
“I don’t think so,” says Jimin, “I mean, even if he did like one of us, I think he wouldn’t want the other one to get hurt.”
“You’re right. Ugh, he’s so stupid. So stupidly in love, too.”
“They make a great couple, don’t they?”
Taehyung sighs, “Definitely a better couple than any of us would’ve made with him.”
Jimin nods, smiling a little. “You know, back when I liked Jungkook, I had this bucket list. In fact, I still have it, but it’s more of an overall thing nowadays than anything related to him.”
“What kind of bucket list?”
“A ‘romance bucket list’. It contains the things I’d like to do with my boyfriend before I get too old for them. I started it when I had a crush on him, which means there are a few items that are based on him, but, as I got over him, I kept it going because it was fun to imagine myself doing all of those things.”
Something in the annoying part of Taehyung’s mind suggests he should be wondering whether the fact that Jimin’s saying that means that he wants them to become closer by somehow talking about their personal lives. He concludes that’s irrelevant, though—there is no need to think about that at that moment. If Jimin wants to talk, there is no harm in talking.
“What is in that bucket list?” Taehyung asks, sending him a curious glance.
“Well, firstly, the clichés. Holding hands out on the streets and having movie dates.”
“Then, when we turned into adults, I had this insight that Jungkook had really strong arms and could probably lift me up if he wanted to,” proceeds Jimin, smirking at the way Taehyung’s jaw drops, “So, kissing against the wall wouldn’t have been such a terrible idea.”
Taehyung squints, “Kissing, huh?”
“Yeah. This is my bucket list. Didn’t you have any kinds of romantic dates you’d like to have with him?”
“I mean, when I liked him, I wanted the cute relationship everyone gets in movies and TV shows,” says Taehyung, shrugging, “Kind of what he has with Yoongi, except that they truly love each other and all I ever felt for him was a crush. I guess the highlight of my crush on him was the note he gave to me, saying that he loved me.”
Jimin nods, “Mine was the Kissing Booth.”
“Trust me, I know.”
“You got so mad,” Jimin remembers, chuckling and rolling his eyes, “You even paid us and didn’t get the kiss in return because you wanted to show him you could be charitable.”
“Well, of course,” Taehyung exclaims, “You were in the Kissing Booth. I couldn’t just pay and get the kiss.”
Jimin stops, squinting at him and grinning a very dangerous grin, “How come?”
“I hated you.”
“It was just a kiss, Taehyung.”
“Overpriced, if I may say.”
Jimin laughs, throwing his head backwards slightly, “Sure. You can tell that to literally everyone who made my Booth the most successful one there.”
“That’s a bit pretentious,” says Taehyung, “I saw lots of people with stuffed animals from that Booth with the water guns. You can’t tell me you made more money than the stuff animal.”
He shouldn’t have asked that. He realizes it as Jimin tilts his head, stands up from the armchair and moves so he’s sitting beside Taehyung on the couch instead. For a few seconds, they remain silent, nothing but the sound of the clock on the wall filling the room. Then, Jimin smirks, asking innocently, “Would you like to find out?”
Taehyung breathes in, “Bold of you to assume I’d say yes.”
“You’re not answering me.”
“You know what?” Taehyung says, shrugging, “Sure. I’d like to find out.”
Jimin blinks, taken aback by how firmly he says that, but recovering quickly enough to nod, scooting closer so he can hook two fingers under Taehyung’s chin. He looks up at his eyes, making sure he’s still on board with this, and drops his eyes towards his lips when Taehyung nods slightly.
Maybe it’s about the fact that Taehyung doesn’t feel like ripping his own hair off each time Jimin walks into the room anymore; maybe it’s about the fact that they are so close right now that he finds it hard to breathe for all the reasons he never thought he would find. Regardless of the reason why, right now, Jimin’s delicate and gorgeous features hit Taehyung at once, as if he had just revealed himself as someone a lot prettier than he could ever have imagined.
There is nothing blocking how beautiful he is anymore—and his real beauty is breathtaking.
Taehyung feels his eyes fluttering closed and, when he feels Jimin’s mouth so dangerously close, he decides this isn’t something he’s not going to be thinking about in the future.
The bigger shock comes, though, when he feels Jimin’s soft lips pressing against his cheek instead of his own lips. It’s firm and gentle, but, at the same time, it’s different than what he imagined—which he would normally find very annoying, but not tonight. No. Tonight, everything that’s different seems to also be very good.
When Jimin moves away and smiles at the slow way Taehyung opens his eyes, the latter finds himself asking, “What was that?”
“You asked me how I made more money than the stuffed animals.”
“But that kiss,” drawls Taehyung, squinting, “That was not how you made more money than the stuffed animals.”
Jimin chuckles, “You really don’t remember, do you? You had just played the water gun game when you came to the Booth, Taehyung. You only had half the money. That was the cost of a kiss on the cheek.”
Taehyung makes a noise of disbelief from the back of his throat, watching with a dramatic expression as Jimin laughs, moving away from him and letting go of his chin. He can feel his ears and cheek burning—especially right over the place where Jimin’s lips just were. Yet, with the way Jimin smiles, well-humored, and the mood around them, he doesn’t feel disappointed.
“You’re such a traitor.”
“That’s what you paid for!”
“Worst Kissing Booth ever,” announces Taehyung, standing up, “I have to go. Not because of the Kissing Booth, but because I need to rehearse.”
Jimin tilts his head, “M’not worried that you’re leaving because of the Booth. I know that, deep inside, you’re regretting participating on the Booth of water guns right now.”
He is. Jimin doesn’t have to know that.
“Goodbye, Park Jimin.”
“Drive safely, Kim Taehyung.”
Taehyung declines the invitation from the rest of his friends to go out next week. Three times in a row.
It turned out that, when he thought about getting this part in a play, he never thought about the finals and the essays he would still have to deal with in college. Although his major is a lot closer to his extra activities than most people would’ve been lucky enough to have, those are still not somehow related and, therefore, they are not forced to form a nice, loose schedule for him.
Surprisingly, it’s a good week for the rest of the group, which means they do go out each one of the three times they invited him. He even cancels his plans with Jimin and finds that the man understands it pretty easily when he explains there’s a lot of work to do, claiming that he would’ve had a lot of things to do himself, had this been a few weeks ago.
It’s frustrating. Taehyung loves being in college and loves being part of that play, but he doesn’t love the way his chest feels when his friends send him the pictures they took together. He knows they would never even mention their moments together without him if he didn’t want them to, but he does want them to. The thing is, he wants to be part of those moments too. Unfortunately, there are lots of things people want in college and that aren’t possible.
He also asks them not to come over—and they comply. Well, at least for a while. The day he tells them he might have to skip laser tagging during the weekend, he finds himself opening the door and finding Jimin standing there, holding a plastic bag and offering him a smile that he could easily describe as threatening. The kind of smile that said either you’ll let me in or I’ll let myself in and you won’t like it.
“Hi,” says Taehyung, stepping aside and gesturing for Jimin to walk past him, “I gotta admit, I didn’t think you’d be the one showing up.”
“Mhm, but you knew someone would?”
“Yeah, I figured. You guys are way too overprotective, and I knew that skipping laser tagging wouldn’t have been a real option. I just wanted to make sure everyone knew that was a possibility, somehow.”
Jimin nods, placing the plastic bag over the computer table, invading Taehyung’s room as if he’s been familiar with it for ages. Taehyung guesses that’s another thing about Jimin that he noticed about a few years ago—he makes himself comfortable wherever he needs to with ease. It’s either admirable or terrifying.
“What are you doing tonight?” Jimin asks, removing the items from the plastic bag. There are two sandwiches and two beers. Taehyung tries not to allow how surprised he is to show on his face.
“I’m finishing with these lines and catching up with the essay from last week from college,” He responds, “Nothing too interesting. Certainly nothing that I need beer for.”
“Really? Are you a lightweight?”
“Not a lightweight, just not a big fan.”
“Ah,” says Jimin, shaking his head, “Should’ve brought soju. Well, anyway, more for me.”
Taehyung crosses his arms, leaning against the doorframe and trying to sound casual despite of how awkward it should be to have Jimin walking in and acting like they’ve been close enough for that for years, “Yeah? You’re planning on, I don’t know, hanging around and drinking that while you watch me become miserable because of all the work I have to do?”
“No. I’m planning on making sure you won’t overwork and give anyone trouble.”
“Who sent you?”
Jimin sighs, “Hoseok. He said he wanted to come, but he had to practice. You know, as the representative. Yoongi and Jungkook were out on a date tonight, and Seokjin had to study for an important test, and Namjoon would’ve come, but he thought he wouldn’t be very effective in the job of saying no to you. Apparently, everyone in the world has a big soft spot for you.”
“Everyone in the world, huh?” Taehyung teases.
“Not me, if that’s what you’re tone is insinuating. Look at you, a kiss on the cheek and you already think I’m head over heels for you.”
“Oh, no,” says Taehyung, dramatically shaking his head, “I was pretty sure you were head over heels for me much longer before the kiss on the cheek.”
“Right. Here, this is your sandwich. Now, I understand that you don’t like beer, but I will not accept the idea of you not liking sandwiches, so stuff that into your mouth and don’t complain.”
Taehyung rolls his eyes, “I do like sandwiches.”
Jimin throws himself on Taehyung’s bed as if he’s used to it, not minding the way it makes the man’s brows quirk up. If Taehyung’s perceptibility isn’t failing him, the way Jimin is acting right now means that their last conversation at his place wasn’t simply a conversation. It was also somehow an opportunity for them to open the door for a friendship rather than a rivalry, and Jimin, ever-the-impatient one, came kicking the door open.
Taehyung might as well follow him inside.
“I’m sorry that we couldn’t practice this week,” He says, making conversation as he pulls the chair from the computer desk and grabs his own sandwich, “I know it’s close, but we’re getting somewhere good.”
“Oh, I know,” says Jimin, blinking, “I’m not worried.”
“Sometimes I forget how confident you are.”
“You’ve been helping me as well,” Jimin comments, “You should be proud that I’m not worried. If I were worried, it would mean I don’t trust the way you’re helping me and that I don’t trust your advice. Now that I am not worried, it means that I trust it all and that you’re a great helper.”
“Either that or you’re getting help from someone a lot more relevant and having a hard time telling me.”
Jimin scoffs, “Please. Me, having a hard time telling you anything? I’m the guy who’s been making jokes on your lack of auditions for the past few years. I don’t have a filter.”
“I have a part now,” Taehyung points out, smirking.
“Right back at the fact that I should come up with something new that I can use against you.”
“Use against me, huh?” His smirk widens by the second, going along with the raised brows. “You bought me sandwiches and beer so that I can relax from my studies for a bit. Doesn’t matter what you say, that’s not very sworn enemy-ish from you.”
Jimin drops his sandwich by his side in bed, throwing his arms up and groaning in a very exaggerate demonstration of frustration, “Again with the sworn enemies thing! What did I ever do to deserve such a child in the same group of friends as me? Next time, I’ll tell Hoseok to hire a babysitter.”
“Either that or you can ask for money to come over and check on me.”
“And what, have the responsibility of being your babysitter? I’d rather quit my job and have no money.”
“You have a job?”
Jimin stops, blinking as he stares at him, “Tell me you’re joking.”
“I have never seen you working!”
“Why do you think I only hang out with you guys at night and weekends?” Jimin asks, frowning.
“We practice in the afternoon.”
“Yeah, those are the days when I get longer shifts for the morning and skip a few classes. I get off college before noon and spend it working.”
“Well, what do you do?”
“I serve coffee at this company,” says Jimin, shrugging, “It’s not a big company or anything, but I don’t want a big job, either. Not yet. I want a big job when I’m out of college and ready to pursue my dream as a dancer. Then, people will know about my job without having to ask, because I’ll tell them myself.”
Taehyung nods, genuinely surprised, “That sounds cool, actually. And I know that you didn’t ask me anything, but, just so you know, I’m not currently working because I worked back when I was younger and my parents saved for me to go to college so, yeah. Besides, they have very stable and worthy jobs, so I’m not being a bad son. I will get a job if I have to.”
Jimin chuckles, “When did I ever say you weren’t a good son?”
“People just assume that.”
“Ah, people assume lots of things. Hey, don’t you have to rehearse for the play?”
Taehyung squints, “Yeah, I was hoping you wouldn’t remind me of that.”
“Can I watch it?”
“What?” Taehyung asks, stopping for a minute and blinking, “What, no. No, this is too embarrassing. It’s just me talking to the mirror and acting as if it’s someone else. No. Absolutely no way.”
Jimin raises his hand to the level of his mouth, trying to hide a smile, not very successfully, “That’s a very big reaction for a very small request.”
“Not that small.”
“You see me dancing all the time.”
“I’m helping you!”
“Well, maybe I can help you,” says Jimin, “I can be the person you’re talking to in the scene. I mean, it must feel awkward to have to say all your lines while looking at the mirror or walking around your room. Wouldn’t it become a lot easier if you had someone here to pretend they are the other character?”
Taehyung sighs, tilting his head, “I’m not sure of that. The other character has lines. When I’m alone, I can pretend I heard those lines and answer, but, right now, it would be too weird. For any of this to work, you would have to read the lines as well.”
“Do you have an extra script?”
“I can do that, then,” Jimin announces, opening a smile that tells Taehyung that might be something exciting for him. “Who are those characters? What are they doing with their lives? What kind of expression should I have?”
For a moment, Taehyung awaits, squinting at him, “Are you sure you want to do this? You don’t have to feel like it’s your duty to help me just because I’m helping you, you know. I’m helping you voluntarily, out of the goodness in my heart. I never wanted anything in return, not even this.”
“Are you done?”
Taehyung stops, glancing at Jimin’s crossed arms and determined eyes—then concludes that, yes, he is done.
“You can tell me if it feels uncomfortable to have me around while you’re rehearsing and I’ll come back later, or you can tell me if it feels uncomfortable to have me acting as the other character and I will sit here and watch,” says Jimin, standing up with a small jump and walking up to him. “Otherwise, I will have that script now and we will find out together how long it takes for me to steal your job.”
That’s all he says, so simply it feels like the whole mood around them turns light, and Taehyung has to admit he feels a bit awestruck by the confident, composed way Jimin speaks. Not only overall, but right now, right there. Because they were—not sworn enemies, not sworn enemies, not sworn enemies—not close until a few days ago and now he’s being like that. Like he can talk to Taehyung without fearing anything, but not in a way that would make Taehyung want to fight back.
Because he doesn’t. Right now, hearing him talking like that and facing him directly, the last thing Taehyung wants to do is fight back.
“I’ll grab the script for you.”
“Great. Let me finish this beer.”
“What?” Jimin laughs, “I’m not a real actor, I don’t need to be sober for the big scene. Besides, even if I were the big actor, this tiny beer won’t do anything to me. Unlike you, I’m not a lightweight.”
Taehyung sighs, “I’m not a lightweight.”
“Right. Where’s the script again?”
“Again, you’re impossible, Park Jimin.”
The rehearsal goes well. Jimin isn’t a bright actor, but he wasn’t misleading Taehyung when he said he was truly going to help. While Taehyung knows most people would’ve been embarrassed, Jimin sticks with it until the very end, clapping once they’re done and offering Taehyung a swig of his beer as their celebration. Taehyung gives in, not admitting that he was getting a little thirsty, and tells himself the only reason why he felt his ears burning at the joke Jimin makes about “indirect kisses” is because he is, indeed, a lightweight.
Otherwise, he would have to start worrying. There was no other reason to blush.
Jungkook becomes part of the blue team. It’s Taehyung and Jimin versus Jungkook and Seokjin, now.
Taehyung knows they probably split the teams like that to make sure he wouldn’t kill Jimin or vice versa, and, although they both know that’s not going to happen anymore, none of them sees much of a reason to tell the rest of their friends about it. It’s not like they are best friends, after all. They are just closer now. If anything, their friends should be thanking them for not being so annoying anymore.
“What is our plan?” Jimin asks, massaging his own neck, “They are both strong and fast. They are both very good at it. Seokjin almost ripped my leg off my body when I tried shooting him the other day, so aggressively going at him might not work very well.”
Taehyung smiles, “Right. Probably not. How about we focus on the flag? I know it sounds kind of desperate, but if we both start running together towards it, they won’t see it coming.”
Jimin stops, widening his eyes at him, “Your strategy is to play this game like we’re kids? Just go for the flag?”
“Yes, that is my strategy. What is yours?”
That takes him aback for long enough. Jimin looks around, pondering, even holding his chin between two fingers to annoy Taehyung and keep him waiting. Then, slowly, he sighs, as if he just came to terms with something that might go terribly wrong—and they know this might.
“I don’t have a strategy. Let’s do yours.”
“Okay, so, here’s the important part,” says Taehyung, “If they come shooting at us, make sure to hide between the boxes. Throw yourself, if you have to. They are both strong, but I think we are both more flexible.”
Jimin nods, “Alright. What if they start running towards our flag as well?”
“Well, then, I guess that just means we’ll have to be faster.”
Which is practically impossible, if they think about it, but that might happen and work out in the end. If the rest of their friends still thinks their rivalry is affecting their communication, they might think there isn’t going to be a strategy at all. Still thinking of that, Taehyung grins when he turns around, towards Yoongi, Hoseok and Namjoon, who are watching them. He knows they might take the grin as his failed attempt at pretending things are okay.
That’s the good part about being a very, very observant guy who spends so much time with his friends. When he needs strategy, all he needs to go is think about what each one of them would do in this situation.
Happily, things work out as well as they can.
Jungkook nearly eliminates Taehyung from the game, and Jimin and Seokjin end up trying to ditch each other in order to reach the other side with the flag. It’s a bit embarrassing and, clearly, by the laughter from their friends who are watching it, it’s full of humor. At some point, Jungkook manages to shoot Taehyung, but it isn’t enough to stop Jimin from using all of his flexibility to dodge Seokjin and run to their side with the flag.
That night, to celebrate, they decide to go to Hoseok’s place and hang out at the balcony. Jungkook hugs Seokjin to comfort him, because, in the end, he was the one with the smallest number of points. Taehyung, though, only winks at Jimin as a congratulations for his lead on the points.
He doesn’t think about the way Jimin blows him a kiss in response.
The balcony is nice. Taehyung has always enjoyed it up here, staring at the stars whenever Hoseok invited them over. Although he felt slightly sad sometimes that there was no way his dorm’s window would ever show him such a beautiful sight, he knew he could always go to his friends’ houses if he needed some fresh air.
He’s thinking about, tossing the few bags with their laser tag clothes thrown on the floor aside, when he instinctively drags his chair closer to the one Jimin just placed in there. He barely realizes it until he sees Jungkook’s eyes on him and the way he’s frowning. Then, he clears his throat and sits down without thinking too much.
Apparently, Jimin doesn’t give it much of a thought either. He yawns as he finds his seat, not acknowledging Taehyung’s chair close to his until he looks to the side and sighs, “Isn’t the weather very good tonight? I thought it would be cold, but I was wrong.”
“Woah, you were wrong? I must admit, I am shocked.”
“Adorable. If we beat Jungkook now, we’re going up against each other.”
Taehyung nods, “Yeah, wouldn’t that be so cool?”
“Absolutely,” affirms Jimin, smiling and looking above Taehyung’s shoulder, toward the rest of their friends. Everyone’s settling down in their seats, glancing at the beautiful night sky.
Taehyung finds it in him to be thankful that he isn’t always bitter around Jimin anymore. Finding the time to be bitter in the middle of a night like this would have been such a waste. If he has to guess, he thinks Jimin would say the same, by the relaxed way he’s acting around him now.
Right now, he thinks he might understand why their friends always became so comfortable around them while they were arguing. He wonders how many of those beautiful, quiet nights they ruined because they were used to being unbearable whenever they were around each other.
“Oh, I almost forgot to tell you,” says Jimin, removing Taehyung from his thoughts, “Remember the bucket list I told you about? I’ve been updating it.”
Taehyung frowns, “Updating it?”
“Yeah. You know, adding new stuff. Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about any kinds of items of your own after that conversation.”
Surprisingly, Taehyung did. Not only did he find the idea of having a bucket list for romantic items a very good idea—he also concluded he could make something up in his own mind. Of course, he wasn’t intending to talk to Jimin about it, but, now that the man brought it up, there is no harm.
“I have been thinking, to be honest,” Taehyung admits, “But why don’t you tell me first?”
“Which is unfair, because I already went first the other day,” says Jimin, “But that’s alright. Let me see. Oh, right! I added ‘long road trips’ as soon as I could.”
“Long road trips, huh?” Taehyung tilts his head, thinking about it, “That would probably be a disaster, considering that you’re not that good of a navigator.”
“I thought of kissing in the rain,” tells Taehyung. Jimin widens his eyes at him, clearly taken by surprise. “What? Just because it’s a cliché, it doesn’t mean people shouldn’t want it.”
Jimin blinks, “Right. You’re an actor. That’s very classic for cliché movies and stuff, so that might be the reason why you think that would be a good idea.”
“Why wouldn’t it?”
“Because!” Jimin starts, breathing in as if he’s preparing for a big speech, “If you stay there too long, you can catch a cold. If you’re wearing any makeup or if you got your hair done, it’ll be destroyed. If there is anyone around, they’ll think you’re insane for stopping in the middle of a rainstorm or something for the sole purpose of kissing someone. Besides, there is water everywhere, and soaking clothes are just terrible to deal with. I don’t see what’s so appealing about that.”
Taehyung squints, staring at him in disbelief, “It’s incredibly romantic, you salty asshole. Just because there are a few things that might make you uncomfortable before or after the kiss, we’re talking about the kiss itself here. There is nothing bad about the kiss itself.”
“That’s not very hard. You’d have to be a bad kisser to make any kinds of kissing goals turn into something bad.”
“You’re unbelievable. You think long road trips with your boyfriend would work out just fine? You, the guy with the sharp tongue who would probably be constantly bossing him around and getting tired of sitting in the car all day?”
Jimin rolls his eyes, chuckling at the observation, “None of those would happen if I were out with the right guy.”
“What are you going to do to know if he’s the right guy, huh? A test?”
“Might as well. Imagine what a disaster if would be if someone like you showed up.”
“Oh, baby,” says Taehyung, tilting his head at him, “You’d love to be with someone like me. Don’t lie to yourself.”
“I would never, ever,” starts Jimin, “Be with someone who thinks kissing in the rain is a good idea.”
Taehyung opens his mouth to say something, but closes it immediately when Seokjin’s voice reaches their ears, drawing all the eyes of their friends towards them with the question, “Hey, what are you guys talking about there?”
Jimin smiles gently, “We’re talking about out romantic bucket lists. Things we want to do with the people we love in the future before we turn too old for those same things to work.”
“That’s nice,” says Namjoon, shifting on his chair so that he’s staring at them, “What did you come up with so far?”
“I said long road trips. Taehyung said kissing in the rain. Everyone, act surprised.”
Taehyung rolls his eyes, but the ghost of a smirk makes its ways to his lips. Not so surprisingly, their small conversation turns into a general talk for the rest of their friends, and, before Taehyung knows, he’s wrinkling his nose at the items he hears from the rest of the group.
It’s fun. Listening to Seokjin talk about the idea of a couple massage, and Namjoon suggesting that stargazing would be nice, and Hoseok’s eyes glistening at the thought of a late night picnic, and even the cute and gross remarks Yoongi and Jungkook make on their couple matching outfits from a few weeks ago. Jimin doesn’t come up with any other incredible items, although he does give his opinion whenever someone brings up another one. Taehyung restrains himself from any other comments for a while, simply thinking about the things he could add to his list.
When they ask Jimin again, he supports his cheek on his fist and gazes up at the sky for a few seconds. Taehyung knows that it’s supposed to have a dramatic effect, but he ends up looking like something out of a very, very beautiful painting, under the moonlight and with stars in his eyes.
Taehyung barely realizes those thoughts are, indeed, his own, until Jimin starts talking again.
“I think I’d like to dance with the person I love,” He says, finally, “Not dancing like in clubs and stuff, but slow dancing.”
“That would be nice,” Hoseok agrees, “He would have to be a great dancer to catch up with you, though. Imagine trying to slow dance with someone who constantly steps on your foot.”
Jimin laughs, “I’m not that much of a prick. I could teach him.”
“Slow dancing isn’t hard,” says Taehyung, “Even I could slow dance.”
“No, you couldn’t.”
“Yes, I could.”
They stop for a second. Jungkook looks like he’s about to say something, just to make sure there won’t be any tension between Jimin and Taehyung after so long in this peaceful mood, but he realizes there might be no use in saying anything when Jimin stands up. Taehyung blinks, wondering whether he said something wrong for a second, but Jimin surprises him by stretching out his arm in his direction.
That makes their friends laugh for a few seconds before they acknowledge that Jimin is being serious. There is no urgency or annoying in his expression, but he’s keeping his gaze firm on Taehyung’s face, preventing him from looking away with nothing but his own eyes. Which is impressive, but definitely not the one thing in Taehyung’s mind right now.
He leans back against the chair, “You’re joking, right?”
“Hey, it’s a big balcony,” says Jimin, “There are cell phones, which means we can get any slow music we want. Unless you don’t think you can slow dance that well and decide you would like to just, I don’t know, admit that it isn’t so easy.”
“It is easy.”
“Give me the honor, then.”
It’s a challenge. Everything about his body language makes that clear—from the slightly quirked up right eyebrow to the relax way he transfers his weight from one leg to another. It’s all very, very not-subtle, and Taehyung normally wouldn’t give into a challenge, but, although he feels a lot closer to Jimin and knows that they will probably never become enemies again—which is good—this is still very nostalgic for someone who’s been trying to surpass him at lots of things through the years.
Taehyung wouldn’t find it trouble to back off from a challenge on a daily basis, but, when it comes to Jimin, there is no other option other than accepting it.
When he leans forward and grabs Jimin’s hand—not thinking about how small it is close to his own—their friends immediately jump from their chairs, removing them from their way. Jimin rolls his eyes and chuckles at the exaggerated reaction, fingers loosely wrapped around Taehyung’s as they wait so that the chairs won’t be a problem anymore.
“I’m getting one of the songs from Taehyung’s playlist,” Yoongi announces, smiling at the way Taehyung squints at him, “Everything here is slow, Tae. I could press ‘random’ right now and it would be perfectly appropriate.”
“I’ll try my best to take that as a compliment.”
“Come on,” says Jimin, grabbing Taehyung’s free hand and standing close to him, their chests nearly colliding, “If you step on my foot, you’ll be proving my point that this is harder than it looks.”
“Fine,” Taehyung shrugs. “It’s literally just moving from one side to another while holding someone. I won’t step on your foot.”
“We’ll see about that. Music, please?”
Namjoon finishes scrolling down Taehyung’s phone and picks a song. It’s a calm, serene one. One of those he uses when he has to study or when it’s too hard to focus on his lines and he’s thinking about the several ways things could go wrong. To his displeasure—and Yoongi’s happiness—it does fit the “slow dancing” profile and they settle for that.
Slowly, Jimin slides one of his arms around Taehyung’s neck, giving him no other choice than placing his hand on his waist. He can see Jimin holding back the urge to smirk at his hesitation, but there is no way they could ever blame him. He has never slow danced with anyone, especially not with someone as wise as Jimin when it comes to any kinds of dancing. He did say that slow dancing wouldn’t be hard, though, and now it’s up to his body to prove it.
When Jimin starts moving, tightening his grip on Taehyung’s hand and moving his feet, Taehyung focuses his attention on them.
Don’t step on his foot, don’t step on his foot, don’t step on his foot. Do not step on his foot.
“Where’s the fun in slow dancing,” whispers Jimin, barely audible for anyone else besides Taehyung, “If all you’re going to look at is your own feet?”
Taehyung clears his throat, looking up for a second, “To be fair, I’m looking at your feet.”
“I thought this was easy.”
“It’s easier when you’re closer to your dance partner.”
He regrets it as soon as it leaves his mouth, but it’s too late. Jimin’s lips curl into a grin and he cocks his head to the side, “Is that your move? That’s very old, if you ask me. I’d expect someone like you to be a little more confident than that.”
Taehyung sighs, “Shut up.”
“You can move closer, if that’s what’s making this so awkward.”
Right. Taehyung inhales a bit too deeply, definitely enough for Jimin to notice. Instead of drawling this and allowing things to get even more awkward, Taehyung scoots slightly closer, chest now pressed against Jimin’s. He tries not to think too much about the fact that, while being this close, he can practically feel his heartbeats and his breath near his skin.
If this had happened a few weeks ago, his resentment towards Jimin could’ve made things easier. At this moment, however, there is nothing making any of this easier, and Taehyung feels almost ready to admit that there is absolutely nothing that could be ever considered easy about slow dancing.
He’s an adult, though. He tells himself that when he looks into Jimin’s eyes and offers him a sheepish smile.
“The things you’d do to prove that I’m wrong, huh,” He says, drawing a laugh from Jimin.
“Yes,” confirms Jimin, moving again, swinging from one side to another and moving his feet a bit more this time, nearly like he’s going slower than usual so Taehyung can get used to it, “Remember, whenever you’re ready to admit that slow dancing isn’t easy, this ends.”
“Mhm. This isn’t so bad.”
Jimin tilts his head, “Right, I’m sure it isn’t. Don’t step on my foot.”
It takes them a few seconds, but, at some point, their feet reach the pace of the song and they end up dancing quite well. Taehyung knows their friends are watching, probably a lot more interested than they would be if anyone else in the world was dancing, but he forces himself not to focus too much on the audience. Besides, that might be a good way for him to prepare for the audience he’s getting when he’s acting.
Except that, when he’s acting, Jimin won’t be the one acting alongside him and his friends won’t be the only ones witnessing the moment.
As they’re swaying, the grip around Taehyung’s hand becoming just as warm as the arm around his neck, he realizes being this close to Jimin feels like being intimate with the one person who he could never read closely. Although he’s proud of how observant he is and how much he’s managed to find out about Jimin through the years, there are still thousands and thousands of things about him he’d like to find out and, if he’s reading things correctly, he might.
“See?” mutters Taehyung, breaking the awkward silence while talking a bit too close to Jimin’s cheek, “I can totally dance without stepping on your foot.”
“Yeah,” Jimin says, chuckling softly. When he looks up at him and their eyes meet this time, there is something about the music on the background and the way Jimin’s smile fills Taehyung’s chest with a warm wave that make him take in the fact that his feelings are never completely under his control when it comes to Jimin. When he was annoying, he was too annoying. When he was worrisome, he was too worrisome. Now that he is, well, like this, there is too much of it as well.
He’s overthinking again, about to stumble on his own feet if he gets a little bit more distracted, when Seokjin clears his throat loudly and Hoseok chuckles at the sudden interruption. Taehyung stops, moving away from Jimin a bit too quickly, not allowing himself to pay too much attention at the way Jimin fixes his posture afterwards.
“I guess that means I was right,” says Seokjin, causing Taehyung to frown.
“You were right about what, exactly?”
“You guys,” He answers. “I always told everyone here that the whole ‘I dislike you’ thing would turn into something more one day. Everyone else thought I was going insane.”
“We were all being reasonable, alright?” Yoongi says, shrugging, “There was no way we could’ve seen that coming.”
Jimin rolls his eyes, blowing Seokjin a provocative kiss and pulling his chair back as if nothing happened. Taehyung swallows thickly, the words “nothing more” coming from Seokjin’s mouth suddenly hammering inside his mind, but he shakes those away as soon as he sees Jungkook’s concerned eyes on him. With a shrug and a very small smile, he goes back to his previous position as well.
Nothing else goes back to its previous position, though. They all sit somewhere else, and they all talk about something else, and the way Jimin laughs is something else, and Taehyung’s thoughts are something else. Nothing else goes back to its place.
Not even his heart.
“When I said I wanted you and Jimin to get along, I didn’t mean I wanted you to fall in love with him. You know that, right?”
Taehyung stops, looking up from his laptop and blinking confusedly at Jungkook. His best friend had texted him to let him know he’d go meet with him so they could talk, and, considering he was already at the café, Taehyung even joked about Jungkook having to buy him another coffee if he did show up.
There he is, though. Without a coffee and speaking nonsense.
“I worry about your definition of falling in love. In fact, I worry about Yoongi due to your definition of falling in love.”
“I’m not Jimin, hyung. Your sarcasm isn’t going to build up a conversation with me,” says Jungkook, crossing his arms over the table and looking at him above the laptop screen, “What even is going on between the two of you? I mean, I thought it was just something I was being paranoid with a few days ago, but the way you guys showed off at the balcony the other night? That just made everything obvious.”
Taehyung frowns, “Nothing obvious about that. I had a point to prove and I did. Score.”
“Why are you even worried about that?” Taehyung asks, “Even if we were in love, which we are not, why does it matter?”
“Because,” Jungkook begins, sighing as he rubs his face with his hands, “You guys are my best friends and it was difficult enough to bear with the fact that you hated each other. Now, if you engage in a relationship and it turns out badly, I know things are going to be much, much worse.”
“Woah, easy there, Jungkook,” requests Taehyung, frowning harder, “No one’s engaging in a relationship. Are you seriously concerned that we’ll get anywhere worse than where we used to stand? Do you want us to get along or not?”
“Yeah, as friends, please.”
Taehyung sighs, “I understand that you’re worried, and I feel really happy to know that you care, but that’s not something you get to decide, Jungkook. You don’t have a say in this.”
“Oh, come on, Taehyung. You know I’m right about this. You guys have always been completely different, always fighting and never seeing eye to eye on anything. Now, suddenly, you’re this close and you don’t think that everything’s going to go downhill just as fast as it started?”
“You’re being unreasonable.”
“I don’t want neither of you to get hurt, hyung.”
That makes Taehyung stop. From the very beginning of their friendship and on, Jungkook’s innocent, doe eyes have always been Taehyung’s greatest weakness, and, apparently, nothing has changed as years went by. The moment he looks up at him and finds those eyes staring right into his soul, he sighs, the annoyance from a few seconds ago drifting away as he reaches forward to hold Jungkook’s hand over the table.
“You have to trust me, Jungkook. I would never do anything to hurt you, Jimin or our friends. Even if something was going on between us, and it isn’t, I would never allow it to jeopardize our friendship. You should know better than that.”
Jungkook sighs, “I know. I know better than that. It’s just that I’ve been keeping up with your rivalry for so many years now, and I effectively lost any hopes I had of you getting along after a while. Now, you’re moving so fast, helping him with his competition, and giving him rides and slow dancing with him on the balcony. Trust me, I would love to see you guys like this if it were—I don’t know, if it were slower, I guess.”
Taehyung pauses for a second, stroking the back of Jungkook’s hand, “You think this whatever between me and Jimin is moving too fast?”
Taehyung’s lips purse as he leans his head to the side, “I have to admit I haven’t thought about it. I mean, I’ve always befriended people so easily. Why should it be so different with Jimin? We have been in the same group of friends for years, we have the same best friend, we are literally always around each other.”
“Yeah, and you’ve been using that time to argue for as long as you’ve known each other. Besides, you’re not befriending him the way you usually befriend someone. It’s like you’re stuck between trying to be friends with him and trying to get into his pants.”
“That’s such an overreaction.”
Maybe. Taehyung sighs, letting go of Jungkook’s hand and running his fingers through his own hair, trying not to make his frustration due to the sudden realization that things might be moving towards an unknown path too evident. If anything, this is the moment for him to take control over things again. Including his feelings.
“I can assure you,” He starts, showing his friend a firm smile, “I’ll make sure everything stays good and you’ll have no reason to worry. Alright?”
“By the way, did you talk to Jimin about this?”
Jungkook frowns, “No. Why? Should I?”
“No, you shouldn’t,” says Taehyung, leaning backwards against the chair and smiling proudly, “I guess I stay winning, then. One more point against him.”
Jungkook rolls his eyes.
“You guys are just impossible.”
Somehow, Jungkook’s words linger in Taehyung’s mind for long enough for him to do something about it.
He chooses to do the one possible thing: slowing down. Which means not talking about the rest of his week when he drives Jimin to the studio so they can practice his dancing technique or teasing him about the fact that they’re constantly sharing bottles of water here and there. For a good week, that works perfectly.
Or so he thinks.
Apparently, Jungkook didn’t have the same conversation with Jimin, and Taehyung doesn’t quite realize that might become a problem until their practice on Friday. It’s been a few hours since they got there and Jimin’s choreography is almost ideal by now, but, today, he seems to find some special trouble focusing on anything rather than the thoughts in his mind—the ones that should be concentrating on the competition a few days away.
Jimin does. He seems distracted, almost too much for someone with such an important goal in mind. It makes Taehyung slightly scared that they’re escaping their focus and, therefore, taking him far from the role as representative of the studio.
“Can you do that one more time?”
Jimin sighs, “I’m going to get dizzy. Is that what you’re trying to do? Make me get dizzy so I’ll stop for today and you’ll be able to go home and have fun with all your animes?”
It’s a joke. Like always. However, Taehyung is trying not to allow Jimin to stay unfocused, which means not focusing on jokes either. He sighs, gesturing towards the center of the studio with his chin. Jimin comprehends it—it means he has to go one more time. He does and fails again.
“No, that’s wrong,” says Taehyung, squinting at the way Jimin huffs in frustration, “What’s with you today? That was a perfect move until a few days ago.”
Jimin crosses his arms, shoulders moving up and down with his heavy breathing, “Me? There’s nothing with me. I’m completely normal. What about you, huh? What’s with you today? No, in fact, what’s with you the whole week?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“What do I mean by that? You haven’t been answering to any of my attempts at teasing you, even when I press a little too hard at a topic, like the fact that you finally got an audition and now you’re not even talking about it, because you’re used to not having a play. That’s rude. Why haven’t you been striking back? Did I do anything? Are we back there?”
“Woah, woah, Jimin, calm down,” requests Taehyung, raising his arms in surrender and feeling a slight sting of guilt. When he started ignoring the few attempts at teasing so that he wouldn’t sound like he was trying to be too friendly—or, according to Jungkook, trying to get into his pants—he didn’t at all expect Jimin to take that as a sign that anything was wrong with him.
Jimin shrugs, “I’m calm. Couldn’t be calmer. So? What did I do and how do I fix it?”
“How do you—oh. Oh. You think you did something that made me upset?”
“Obviously. What else am I supposed to think?” Jimin asks, exasperated. “It was always you with that annoying talk about sworn enemies and stuff whenever we hung out. Is this it again? You’re missing the old days when we didn’t get along and you didn’t have to be all friendly with me?”
“Jimin, no, that’s not it,” Taehyung starts, feeling terrible as he sighs and gestures toward the bench at the corner of the studio, “Here, let me explain it to you. Or try, at least.”
Jimin complies. He finds a seat beside Taehyung and, when he looks at him, the anticipation in his eyes makes the guilt sink in Taehyung’s stomach.
Taking it slow—bad idea.
He sighs, “Listen, when I tell you this, I don’t want you to be upset at Jungkook, okay? Whatever happened only happened because he wants what’s best for both of us as his best friends and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.”
“Oh, that’s it, then. He talked to you too.”
That makes Taehyung stop. He squints, staring at Jimin as if he didn’t hear it right, “Sorry, did you just say ‘too’?”
“Mhm. He told me your conversation with him went differently and you would probably have no idea he came to talk to me too. To be fair with the guy, he did say our talks were very distinct, so you shouldn’t get mad at him,” says Jimin, shrugging. “Just in case. He told me that he wanted to make sure we weren’t trying to muffle the fact that we dislike each other by pretending to be friends or something. All I said was that I actually enjoy your company nowadays and I think it’s okay that we found out that we’ve got more in common than we previously thought. Clearly, your conversation wasn’t like that.”
Taehyung squints, stuck in a mix between feeling extremely betrayed that Jungkook didn’t only talk to him and feeling extremely relieved that Jimin genuinely enjoys being around him and getting along with him. Somehow, those two blend into a relieved sigh and quirked up eyebrows.
“Jungkook told me he thought we were going too fast and becoming something, well, more,” says Taehyung, “I don’t see why he wouldn’t say anything like that to you, but he told me, and I thought that, if we went slower with our friendship, it wouldn’t affect us or the group with anything else.”
“Yeah,” Jimin tilts his head, “He might’ve mentioned his concern about us becoming something else to me as well.”
“Oh? What did you say?”
“What is there to say?” He asks back, looking away from Taehyung, and, for a second, he thinks Jimin might be too embarrassed to look directly at him, “I wasn’t going to invite him to our wedding so soon, Taehyung. Don’t worry. I haven’t even taken you to the beach so I can propose with this beautiful diamond ring I bought.”
Taehyung squints, “Are you trying to use sarcasm to escape from this?”
“Woah, you’re so smart. Will you marry me?”
“Are you going to tell me you haven’t felt anything other than the slight wish of being my friend for the past weeks?”
Taehyung freezes, caught off guard by the sudden question. He could’ve expected Jimin to reply, but not that firmly, and, certainly, not by cornering him with such a tricky question—which doesn’t sound tricky at first, but, oh, it is. Because he knows plenty of alternate answers for that, but only one of them is the real one, and it might be a little too scary for him to say it aloud.
“I can’t answer that for sure,” He says, instead, receiving a very suspicious look from Jimin, “Okay, so, maybe. Maybe that whole thing about sworn enemies and stuff started out as a joke and ended up being my one thing to distract you with whenever I felt something else.”
“So, you have a crush on me?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Are you embarrassed?”
“I can’t tell if I have a crush on you or not,” Taehyung says, shrugging. “I can’t. It’s not that easy. Nu-uh.”
Jimin blinks, “Easy? You think any of this is supposed to be easy? You were acting like we were Superman and a kryptonite a couple of weeks ago. Obviously, it won’t be easy.”
“You’re not my kryptonite. Where are you getting that from? Nerd.”
“You…” Jimin starts, sighing and rubbing his face with his hands in frustration. Then, he looks outside and squints. When Taehyung follows his eyes, he finds that it’s raining now, and, although it’s a very weak rain, that already proves there is no way Jimin is going home walking tonight. Which means, another ride. Which he hopes won’t be as awkward as the moment they’re going through right now.
Jimin cocks his head to the side, surprising Taehyung by curving his lips up into a calm smirk. Taehyung squints, confused, as Jimin stands up and gestures to the door.
“Let’s go outside.”
“I said, let’s go outside,” says Jimin, reaching to wrap his fingers delicately around Taehyung’s wrist and pull him with him. Although he has no idea of what the point is, Taehyung follows him, scrunching his nose as he realizes he’s wearing a very good shirt and walking into the rain will only make it soak wet, but, if Jimin looks so sure about doing that, he might as well indulge it and find out why.
Once they’re outside, Jimin walks so they’re standing on the sidewalk and the rain is falling over their heads freely. For a few seconds, Taehyung simply stands before Jimin, waiting, blinking and wiping away the drops of rain that blur his sight slightly. If they stand there for too long, they might get a cold. Something Jimin should have known, since he’s talked about that once—the time when Taehyung suggested that kissing in the rain would be nice.
It hits him, then. But it’s a bit too late to prepare himself.
Very slowly, Jimin brings one of his hands up to curl around the collar of Taehyung’s shirt, pulling him closer delicately and focusing on his eyes to make sure he’s looking at him and he’s okay with the movement. Taehyung simply stands there for a few minutes, snapping out of his thoughts for long enough to bring one of his hands to rest on Jimin’s waist when Jimin tugs at the fabric of his shirt.
Next thing Taehyung knows, there are plump, soft, breathtaking lips pressing against his own and the rain around them deepens the feeling that this is nothing more than just dream. A very, very beautiful dream.
It’s barely a big kiss yet, with Jimin’s mouth moving sweetly under Taehyung’s, but, before he gets the chance to make it bigger and for the feeling of warmth on his chest to spread, Jimin pulls away, smiling against his lips in a way that makes Taehyung wish he could kiss him silly.
He doesn’t say that, though, and Jimin only moves away further, letting go of his shirt and tapping his shoulder.
“There. I’ll leave you to find out whether you have a crush on me or not.”
“You—cannot do that.”
Jimin chuckles, “Why not?”
Taehyung’s eyes widen, “Because!”
“I’ll take a cab home,” says Jimin, blowing him a kiss and probably smiling inside as he realizes he’s driving Taehyung crazy, gesturing towards his chest, “Let me know once you figure out what’s going on in there.”
While watching him walk away and running back inside so he won’t catch a cold after all, Taehyung thinks to himself that, right now, he doesn’t need any time to think. He has a very, very concrete answer already. Unfortunately, Jimin seems to be willing to give him space and time to think.
He might as well use that space and time to find a way to explain to Jungkook the fact that he is thinking about engaging in a relationship now.
They meet again at the laser tag field. The two of them against Jungkook.
It should be easy, but, in the end, it isn’t.
Taehyung hates to admit that he can’t focus on anything while Jimin is around, but not talking to him about what happened the other day. All he can think about is the fact that they should act on the subject, and, yet, Jimin is acting natural, as if he didn’t kiss Taehyung and brought up all the feelings he’s been trying to keep bottled up.
His first mistake is the strategy. Going straight for the flag again, as if Jungkook would ever fall for the same trick. This time, he’s prepared, and he runs towards the blue flag so fast Taehyung believes he could get his own TV show in a while, if he wanted to. Taehyung tries shooting him, but his aim fails every time, and Jungkook easily gets past Jimin’s weak resistance once he’s trying to run back with the flag.
In the end, they lose.
Yoongi and Seokjin celebrate it. Namjoon and Hoseok hug Taehyung and Jimin comfortingly, assuring that, had their competition been anyone else but Jungkook, they would’ve won. When they look at the screen to see which one of them has the least points and which one of them is up against Jungkook for the next and last weekend, Taehyung gets another hug from both Hoseok and Namjoon.
“Congratulations,” He tells Jimin, approaching him once Jungkook starts celebrating his victory with the rest of the guys, “You’re going to lose, though. I just hope you know that.”
“Am I?” Jimin asks, tilting his head. “I don’t know about that. I’m pretty confident. Jungkook should thank me for getting you distracted enough for him to win today.”
“So,” Taehyung starts, “You do acknowledge that us losing today is your fault.”
“Mhm. Well, technically, it’s your fault for not getting your shirt together sooner.”
“Can I get my answer now?”
Taehyung inhales, looking around them and finding the rest of their friends waiting for them. They probably want to hang out again. They have been doing that a lot, and Taehyung’s been growing more and more used to the way things are now. A while ago, either he wouldn’t be invited and never find out about it or Jimin wouldn’t. A while ago, they would blame each other for the loss and tease each other about not being able to beat a single person.
Now, he doesn’t care if they lost or won and doesn’t care if they get invited or not. He does, though, care about Jimin.
That’s the state he makes by cupping Jimin’s jaw and, without thinking too much about it, kissing him deeply.
There are cheers around them. A few of them are initially shocked, but, soon enough, all of their friends start applauding, and Taehyung can feel his ears and cheeks burning, but none of it compares to the feeling of Jimin’s lips slotting against his so softly, so tenderly. Jimin brings one of his hands up, placing it over Taehyung’s fingers on his skin and caressing the back of his hand. If Taehyung opened his eyes right now, he would see Jimin on his tiptoes and the smiles of their friends while watching the scene.
He doesn’t plan on opening his eyes that soon, though, unless the point is to gaze at Jimin’s face.
When they pull back this time, Jimin still smiles against his mouth, but he leans forward to peck his lips gently and supports their foreheads together instead of walking away and leaving him there, hanging. This definitely feels a lot better, and, still, like it’s not enough yet. Like it won’t ever be.
“Remember when you used to believe in sworn enemies?” Jimin asks him, barely a whisper, audible for the both of them only.
Jimin leans in, lips brushing against his earlobe as he speaks, “Better tell me you believe in soulmates, too.”
Soulmates. Somehow, Taehyung likes the sound of that a lot more than any other potential relationship status he could ever come up with. When Jimin finally—or not so much—moves away from him, he points at Jungkook and smiles openly, proudly. Taehyung thinks it’s a beautiful smile.
“No taking it slow here, mister,” Jimin says, “Do you get it?”
Jungkook raises his arms in surrender and, by the look on his face when his eyes meet Taehyung’s, that’s the kind of relationship he had expected them to have when he first introduced them. Well, not exactly the same kind. He probably didn’t see the whole “crush” thing coming, but they’re getting along. That should do it.
Still, Jungkook winks at them as he says, “Who am I to say anything against such a cute couple?”
“We’re still calling you and Yoongi gross, you know,” says Taehyung, smiling at the way Yoongi rolls his eyes.
“Should’ve kept them apart.”
“Are you nervous? I’m very nervous. Very, very nervous.”
“Relax, Taehyung. You helped him practice, he’s going to do just fine,” says Yoongi, squeezing Taehyung’s shoulder and looking around as if to indicate that there are other people around them, waiting for the competition to start, who aren’t in the same anxious mood as Taehyung himself.
Taehyung squints, “Yeah, that’s why I’m nervous. Because I taught him everything he knows. If he doesn’t go well, he’s going to embarrass me and my amazing reputation as an instructor.”
“Right. When are you guys going to admit that you’re dating so you can openly talk about being nervous for him, by the way?”
He finds it in him to ignore that, sighing and playing with the hem of his jacket instead. Jimin saved the front row seats for their friends and, yet, despite how long each one of them has been close to him, Taehyung still seems to be the most nervous one out of the group. He’s even more nervous than Jungkook, who got to go backstage and calm Jimin down a little—which is unfair. Technically, Taehyung is also best friends with Jungkook, which means best friend privileges should be transferred to him like that.
Some of the competitors already went, but, according to Jimin, it was a good thing that he was one of the last ones. Apparently, the first ones were the less likely to win. The staff team had put them in that position so that the ones who have earned the chance to be there could be the most anticipated ones. Jimin thought it was unfair to put anyone in the position of going first like that, but that was okay, because the studio had already established the chances to each one of them.
Jimin has a lot of advantage. Hoseok watched him dancing one night before and assured him he would get it. Still, Taehyung feels shaky and sweaty for him.
Having a crush sucks sometimes.
Surprisingly, despite all the anxiety, the rest of the dance numbers goes well. Taehyung gives each one of them a round of applause, but refuses to stand up and act like they’re amazing or anything related. There is only one amazing dancer in that room—besides Hoseok—and he’s the one who gets the entire group moving to the edge of their seats in anticipation when his name gets called.
Jimin is wearing white.
A very, very beautiful white outfit, with some glitter and sequins, and his hair—his hair is blue. Taehyung’s jaw drops right to the floor when he sees it. It must be some kind of temporary dye he got backstage, and the reason why he didn’t allow Taehyung to come and see. When he goes up on stage, Taehyung can tell he’s nervous, and, yet, when he finds him in the crowd, Jimin winks and shows a confident smirk.
Obviously, he is the best one.
While he’s dancing, and moving his arms and legs and neck and waist to the music, Taehyung feels a bit like he felt the first time he saw Jimin performing his own choreography. A bit astonished, a bit in disbelief. This time, though, there is no getting lost in the emotions he pours during the song, because each of them gets carried with the precision and the technique of a professional. There are no movements they can’t define, but there are no movements they can describe.
If Taehyung hadn’t gotten so close to Jimin and had bothered to go there tonight and watch the show, he would’ve probably fallen in love with him right there, right then. He could go back to teasing him later and acting tough, but, deep down, he would’ve been a little bit in love.
Right now, a little bit isn’t enough.
Jimin is the first one to get everyone on their feet to clap for him. He’s the first one to place his hands over his mouth and thank them with tears prickling on the corners of his eyes. He’s the first one to blow his friends kisses, and, when one of the staff members announces they’re taking a short pause to decide who won, he’s the first one to leave the stage as fast as he can to throw himself in someone else’s arms.
It feels like a thank you for all the help, and, at the same time, it feels like a thank you for everything else. For letting go of the stupid “sworn enemies” thing, for being supportive, for all the rides and for all the conversations they’ve had. For admitting he has a crush on him and for feeling like it might become so much more.
This time, when they kiss, there are people around, but it doesn’t feel like an audience. It feels like they’ve got all the time in the world and like all the bickering and the teasing that lead up to this moment was worth it. Because, honestly, Taehyung can barely remember any of their arguments right now.
They only let go when they announce the name of the winner. Because, after all, it would’ve been disrespectful from Jimin not to go up on stage and introduce himself as the new representative of his studio.
When they’re out for the last laser tag round, Jimin loses.
He celebrates it alongside Jungkook, though. Yoongi kisses Jungkook full on the mouth as a way to say “congratulations”, and Hoseok nearly breaks him into a hug. Namjoon threatens to raise him up in the air and Seokjin assures he would help, but Jungkook dismisses it with the most friendly smile possible. Taehyung pats Jungkook on the back and says he did a good job.
This time, they don’t have to come up with something extraordinary to go after the game, because it’s the first night of Taehyung’s play and they’re all coming over to the theater to watch it. Like the good friends they are, Taehyung knows they are going to be as supportive as they were to Jimin’s competition, and he knows Jimin will be there as well. That’s why he’s so confident.
That’s why the play goes so well.
After that, when they’re back in Jimin’s apartment and teasing each other about their new accomplishments in life, Taehyung remembers something. He remembers the way Jimin kissed him in the rain the other day, ignoring his own reasons to think that was a stupid idea for a bucket list. He remembers feeling like that was reason enough for him to believe his crush on Jimin would be solid for a long, long time. He also remembers Jimin had a new item as part of his bucket list as well.
“Would you like to go on a road trip with me?”
Jimin stops. He’s been playing with Taehyung’s hand while the man’s free fingers ran through his hair, softly, delicately. It’s something they’re still getting used to—being this intimate and knowing that it’s not going away—but, at the same time, it’s something they’re already so familiar with in their own hearts.
“A road trip?” Jimin asks, blinking.
“Yes. A long one.”
“Are you trying to tease me about my bucket list?”
“No, I’m trying to get help you scratch something out of your list,” says Taehyung enthusiastically. “So? What do you say?”
Jimin tilts his head to the side, as if he’s still wondering whether Taehyung means it or not, “Are we going to argue over which songs to play?”
“Am I going to start complaining over how long it’s taking us to get anywhere so I can stretch out my legs?”
“Can you put up with that without making any of your smart remarks?”
“Is it going to work?”
Taehyung smiles softly, nodding, “Yeah. I’m sure it is.”
That seems to be enough for Jimin to mirror his smile, nodding with a certain amount of excitement, “Alright, then. Let’s have a road trip.”
Taehyung’s smile widens in response and he leans in to press a calm kiss to Jimin’s lips. Jimin kisses him back immediately, holding his face between his hands and scooting closer to him on the couch. Slowly, Taehyung pulls away, smiling again as he remembers the last round of their laser tag tournament.
“By the way,” He says, “I told you you’d lose.”
Jimin smiles, nodding and leaning in to kiss his forehead, gentle and caring. Taehyung feels like he might explode—in a very, very good way.
“I’m not so worried about losing the game.”
“Oh, you’re not?”
“No,” says Jimin, smiling widely, “Because I won your heart, and, to me, that’s a great win.”
For a few moments, Taehyung squints and they remain silent. Then, they break into laughter, and, although they both know there are lots of things that are so real about that one small phrase, they don’t talk about it immediately. They don’t have to. They both now they’ve won each other.
“You know what, Park Jimin?” Taehyung says, sighing, “We’re really impossible.”
With a smirk, Jimin nods, pulling him closer and kissing him again, “We really are.”