“You could literally sneeze all on me and say “Merry Christmas” and I’d be touched that you thought of me,” Jeongguk says, rolling eyes at the panicking Taehyung. “Besides, don’t pull that “Your gift just hasn’t gotten here” crap on me, I know you wait until Christmas morning to get your gifts for people because the deals are better.”
“God, fuck you, you could at least pretend you don’t know,” Taehyung replies, pouting from his stool at their apartment’s island (“Look Guk! An island! We can just put chairs there and we don’t even have to get a table!” but they forgot they had five friends coming over all the time, and that meant seven stools squeezed around one island. “Oh well, at least there’s leg room,” Taehyung had said when they realised).
Jeongguk, sprawled on their couch and scrolling mindlessly through Instagram, couldn’t care less. “Uh huh,” he replies, ignoring the dramatics. Ignoring, after all, was step one on the Make Taehyung Realise He’s In Love With You guide that Jimin had made for him in the notes on his phone. Did Jeongguk believe Jimin that Taehyung was in love with him? Not really. But he’d been following Taehyung around since they were little kids, in and out of schools and friend groups and all the way to this shared college and shared apartment - a guy could dream.
The list was fairly simply, pretty cliche, and nothing Jeongguk hadn’t tried before, but it was entertaining to read, he supposed.
Make Taehyung Realise He’s In Love With You (a helpful guide by Park Jimin)
- Ignore his lazy ass till he sees that he goes thru his whole day bugging you and that he needs you
- Make him work for your love so he realises how much he wants it
- Maybe kiss a pretty boy around him so that it hits him that he’s the only pretty boy you should be kissing
- Wear hot clothes because you gotta go thru a mans dick to get to his heart ig
- Write him a song!! God guk you know he’d love that
- Ask him to watch you dance lol he loves that shit
- Confess, you idiot
Been there, done that, bought the T - shirt. The longest Jeongguk had succeeded in ignoring Taehyung was a hot five hours, because he lost his phone and Taehyung was visiting family that weekend. They had planned on going together, but Jeongguk had extra work for a group project due soon, and the whole five hours he had spent missing his best friend, so. Maybe ignoring Taehyung wasn’t his strong suit.
The problem with making Taehyung ‘work for his love’ was that Taehyung didn’t seem to care less. Jeongguk stopped making breakfast for the two of them for a week, just to see what would happen, and stopped feeding Taehyung’s fish, and the only results were Taehyung forgetting to eat and his fish dying.
And Jeongguk had been about ready to cry from frustration, when Taehyung woke him up with breakfast in bed that he’d made, and promised Jeongguk he wasn’t even sad about the fish, it was Marlin’s time. After a whole morning of cuddling and slightly burnt toast with store bought jam, the whole bitterness and desperation washes out of him.
And then the next one on the list. Kiss a pretty boy. The problem with that one was, well…
Jeongguk is painfully shy.
It had gotten better over the years, but when they were kids Taehyung had to speak for him to strangers. The most that Jeongguk could do to get a pretty boy to kiss him was follow Taehyung to clubs, which was really just depressing for him because Taehyung would go off and dance with people while Jeongguk died in the crowd.
There was one time, where a pretty enough boy had Jeongguk up against the wall, not kissing his lips but rather mouthing at his neck and just feeling him (and Jeongguk couldn’t lie, it made him feel pretty good about himself how big of a fan the guy was, Jeongguk didn’t work out for shits and giggles after all), but when Taehyung went to find him and saw the guy’s hands in Jeongguk’s jean’s back pockets, all he did was laugh and say that he supposed Jeongguk wouldn’t be needing a ride home.
So. The whole ‘Jealousy’ idea wasn’t really going to work.
The part that Jeongguk though he could do was the ‘hot clothes,’ because even though he didn’t necessarily dress like a Thot (ahem, Jimin), he had a slightly provocative style, and he figured maybe just a plain week of button downs with more chest shown than usual and tight jeans that he knew made his ass look good would do the trick. All that did was get the most bro - esque compliments from Taehyung ever. “Go get that dick, dude!” Taehyung once said to him as he left for class. Dude? Really? One time he even wore these red fishnets under ripped jeans, and that got literally zero reaction out of Taehyung. Nothing. Nada.
And of course he’d written Taehyung a song.
They were best friends, and he was Jeongguk’s
main inspiration for songwriting, so it was less a question of writing a song for Taehyung, and more a question of choosing which one to play for him. In the end he’d settled on a tamer “Sunflower” which was a song he wrote that detailed the complications of their friendship but how he’d always give Taehyung a place in his life, and - and -
(“Aww, that was so cute Gukkie! Who’s the lucky lady?”
(“I - hyung. Stop looking at me like that.”
“Aish, growing up so fast. So proud, Gukkie, so proud.”
- He preferred not to talk about it.
And Jimin could forget about asking Taehyung to watch hi dance as a way of wooing him. On Halloween the year of Jeongguk’s senior year and Taehyung’s freshman year of college, Taehyung had come back to come to a party with Jeongguk where Jeongguk was dressed in Cady’s santa dress from Mean Girls along with three of his friend’s, and they did the Jingle Bell Rock dance, only uninterrupted and designed to “get Jeongguk his man,” meaning dirty enough to make even The Regina George blush.
Which of course meant that as soon as Jeongguk could find Taehyung after his little ‘performance’ the older boy was furiously making out with some twink against a wall. Great.
Jeongguk hadn’t even given up there, though. A week into his freshman year he asked Taehyung to record a dance cover he was doing in a series of edgy looking alleys for the song “Own It” (he would have done it himself if it wasn’t that the cover needed to be filmed at night for the aesthetic and he was scared), which was probably the most sexual dance he’d ever done around Taehyung, and he got a pat on the back with a “Bro, rad.” Literally.
That would probably lead one to think the only option Jeongguk had was to confess, bu that was the problem. He had. Sort of recently, too, it was on his birthday. He had sat Taehyung down in their apartment and went on a long tangent about how much Taehyung meant to him and then asked Taehyung if the older knew what Jeongguk was trying to say to him.
(“Of course, I always get you Gukkie. You’re my best friend too, forever and always. Never doubt that. You’ll always be my best friend.”)
-That hadn’t gone very well for his self esteem.
He wasn’t sure what he needed to do to get the older boy to take him seriously, open up his asshole on Taehyung’s bed wearing lingerie? Tell him “No, I want to date you, that’s why I’ve been single for the past two years, not because I can’t find someone” ? At this point, he knows none of those options are the answer.
The problem with Taehyung is that the older boy is the best friend one could ask for. He’s way to kind and caring to take Jeongguk’s words as something that would embarrass the younger, and even though he definitely has a sex drive, he would never sexualise Jeongguk if he thought it would make the younger uncomfortable. If Jeongguk was distant, Taehyung would just expand his own love to fill the gap, and if Jeongguk didn’t reply right away, he’d get spammed with a million messages he couldn’t ignore. Taehyung sees him as his best friend, nothing more, nothing less. As much as it sucks, at least he’s got something, which is better than nothing at all.
“Say, where’s my Christmas present from you, hm?” Taehyung asks him after a solid fifteen minutes of peaceful silence between the two. Jeongguk frowns over the top of his phone at Taehyung, making the apologetic puppy eyes he knows Taehyung could never say no to.
“Unlike you, I’m not a liar, and it really is shipping late. I wanted you to get it yesterday, on, you know, Christmas, but if I get a late present from you I guess the universe just thought it was fitting you got a late present from me too. Better than no present at all, right?”
“Right. Though,” Taehyung pauses for a moment, a lilt to his voice present that Jeongguk doesn’t necessarily trust, “the best present of all would be someone to kiss at midnight on New Year’s. No matter how much I date throughout the years, I always manage to be single on New Year’s.”
Something in Jeongguk’s chest whines, and he smiles bitterly at Taehyung across the distance. “Well, I can’t help you there, hyung.” The smile turns more to a grimace, and he swings his legs over the side of the couch, propelling himself up and starting to walk to his room. “I’m gonna go out to that cafe, some partners on a future group project wanna get a head start on what we’ll have next semester.”
“For real?” Taehyung calls after him. “That’s wack. If you have a date, just say so Gukkie!”
Jeongguk steps out of his room with a jacket on and his shoes laced, and says, “For real, there’s no date.” Taehyung scoffs, but doesn’t get up from his seat at their stupid, stupid island.
He smiles, but his chest hurts.
“Honestly, I…” Jimin grimaces, and sets down his mug of hot cocoa gingerly on the cafe table, giving Jeongguk a pitying look, “I think maybe it’s time to just move on.”
It’s like a stone dropped in his stomach. Jimin is both Jeongguk and Taehyung’s mutual best friend, because even though the two were attached basically at Jeongguk’s birth, upon meeting Jimin in Taehyung’s freshmen year Jimin may as well have been there for all of it. That being said, it meant that the only person potentially as close with Taehyung as Jeongguk is himself, the one who Taehyung could be telling his secret thoughts of love regarding Jeongguk to… was basically telling him he doesn’t have a chance.
He’s quiet about it, the business of the shatter in his heart. “Oh,” he murmurs, sipping absentmindedly at his earl grey tea, “you think so?” They’re sitting next to each other in a booth seat, and it’s taking most of the resolve in Jeongguk to not just drop his head on Jimin’s shoulder and cry. He’s actually done it before, and in far more embarrassing places under lesser circumstances. The only hitch in that plan is that Taehyung is meeting up with them here soon, and if Taehyung saw Jeongguk cry he would hug him, which would only further decimate his stupid, stupid heart.
“Not like that!” Jimin shrieks, catching on to Jeongguk’s train of thought. “Not like, fall out of love with him or something, you two are perfect and in love I swear it by the stars. I just… I think that you string yourself along for him so much that it’s hurting you.” Oh.
“Oh,” Jeongguk replied subly, still sipping at his tea.
“Yeah,” Jimin bites his plush lower lip in a way sadder than Jeongguk thought was possible. “I guess I’m just tired of seeing you hurting all the time, Gukkie, and over some guy.” Oh. Wait, that’s sweet. But -
“ Some guy-”
“Who’s hurting my sweet, sweet Gukkie?” Taehyung asks, partially joking and partially dead serious, if the hidden angry look in his eye is enough to go by. Jeongguk smiles weakly, and Jimin tenses up next to the other boy. Wow , Jeongguk thinks to himself, watching the sunlight streaming through the windows and accentuate Teahyung’s golden hair , he’s beautiful . It’s kind of unfair, Jeongguk thinks. That Taehyung can look this beautiful even when his jaw is clenching and his eyes are hardening, and something pathetic in his heart twinges at the thought that Taehyung’s getting pissed at the thought of someone hurting him.
Shut UP , he tells his dumb heart.
“Nothing, no one, it’s no biggie,” Jeongguk replies easily. “Do you have my Christmas present yet?”
“Stop changing the subject, you know that I’m trying my best to think of something for you. Have you got my birthday present yet?”The sly smile on Taehyung’s lips is enough to set a tiny fire in Jeongguk, one he wishes would just go out already.
“Oh, Jimin and I went shopping for your birthday presents months ago, it’s your Christmas present that’s come late, which arrived today, so I’ll give it to you when we get home,” Jeongguk smirks at him. “I’m on top of the game, try to keep up.” Taehyung blinks, looking almost surprised, nut then his expression settles into the sual suave, confident, look and all Jeongguk can think is I want to kiss you, kiss you breathless, want you to be the only taste on my tongue, want you-
“-eonggukkie?” Jeongguk blinks. Oh, someone is talking to him.
“What?” he asks, sounding stupid because of course he can’t sound cool in front of the love of his life. That would be too easy, now wouldn’t it.
“I asked when you’re giving me my birthday present, my sweet Jeonggukkie,” Taehyung purrs, and Jeongguk curses every atom in his body for building him up into the horniest, dumbest boy around, because that smile does things to him, and he’s sitting close enough to Jimin that he knows Jimin heard his voice hitch.
“O-on your birthday, of course,” Jeongguk replies is the smoothest way he can. “Just wait one more day, today’s 28 and we’re halfway through. Then one more day, and then you can get it. Even at midnight, if you want.”
“The best present of all would be someone to kiss at midnight on New Year’s,” Jeongguk hears Taehyung’s words echo in his head, and his own demeanor turns sour. Forget midnight on New Year’s Eve, Jeongguk would love to just kiss Taehyung in general. He’d been dreaming about it since he was a freshman in high school, maybe earlier, and now here he is a freshman in university and nothing has changed. Nothing. He just has better imagination now.
Taehyung pouts, and moves on with the conversation, talking about something with Jimin that Jeongguk doesn’t know much about, so all he really has to do in the conversation is nod, hum, and occasionally say “yeah” or something. Mostly he gets to just sip on his tea and watch Taehyung, smile and glitter and laugh like the beautiful person that he is. It’s unnatural, Jeongguk decides, how pretty Taehyung is. Not just in his face, but in how his kindness radiates out of him like a halo. How the hell does he do that?
Once they’re all finished in the cafe (and Jimin has to go back to his and Yoongi’s apartment, they’re not “fighting” but there were definitely some miscommunications to iron out), Taehyung and Jeongguk walk back to their apartment together, side by side. After a few minutes of talking about nothing and mindlessly bumping his hand against taehyung’s as they walked, the older boy smiles and simply holds Jeongguk’s hand.
It’s like a whole fucking butterfly garden erupts in Jeongguk’s chest.
They walk the rest of the way home like that, just holding each other’s hands, and there’s a part of Jeongguk that wants to think that this means something, but this is far from the first time that they’ve held hands. Taehyung has been dragging Jeongguk by the linked hands since they were young, and they didn’t stop holding hands when they got older and it got weirder. People were used to their absurd level of closeness and intimacy as friends, so even though when a boy came out at their middle school as gay and received harassment, Jeongguk was always able to hold Taehyung’s hand with no consequences. It was their thing, but it still made his whole heart hurt every time.
Once they get into their apartment, Taehyung uses his free hand to unlock the door, and he then leads Jeongguk inside, still gently holding his hand. “Taehyung-hyung,” Jeongguk starts to say, but he’s cut off by a look in the older boy’s eyes, and he silences himself while TAehyung closes the door, and then leads Jeongguk over to their coach to sit next to him. His eyes are wide, questioning.
“Jeongguk,” Taehyung says once they’ve sat down. He’s holding Jeongguk’s hand between them like a peace offering, kind and soft and just sweet enough to draw a needle like prickle behind Jeongguk’s eyes. “I- well, I know you joked it off in the cafe, but it’s been killing me thinking about it -” Taehyung looks conflicted, and he scoots closer on the couch. “You’d tell me if you were dating someone, right?”
The question would have knocked Jeongguk off of his feet had he not been sitting on their couch. “W-what?” he asks, dumbfounded, and Taehyung bites his bottom lip (which honestly, rude, it’s hard enough for Jeongguk to not stare mindlessly at Taehyung’s lips as is).
“You- I heard you and Jimin talking about ‘some guy’ in the cafe before I sat down, and,” Taehyung takes a deep breath. “Well, you haven’t talked to me about anyone, and you haven’t been bringing anyone over, so I don’t know who this person would be, but if he’s hurting you,”
“ Tae,” Jeongguk chokes out, and Taehyung goes from looking up at the ceiling, eyes hard and engry at the thought of someone hurting Jeongguk, hands getting tighter in gripping Jeongguk’s, to looking the younger boy in the eyes, surprisingly vulnerable. “Tae, I - I’m not dating anyone, I promise.”
The grip on his hands relaxes, but not enough for their hands to slip out of each other’s holds. Taehyung looks troubles still, and he asks imploringly, “Then who is hurting you, baby?”
Baby. Baby. Oh god. Someone should just shoot Jeongguk now. It takes everything he has not to full body shudder in response to the pet name. Jeongguk shakes his head, looking at his lap, and he nearly whines when Taehyung separates their hands, but it’s so that, as he scoots close enough for their legs to be touching, Taehyung’s big hand can tilt Jeongguk’s chin upwards so that they’re making eye contact. Unthinking, Jeongguk nuzzles the side of his face into the big hand, letting it rest tenderly so that Taehyung’s thumb rests on the corner of his lips.
“It’s nothing, hyung,” Jeongguk resplies, sadness tinging his tone. “Just a - it’s just a crush.”
At those words Taehyung tenses up, his thumb, which was just barely resting on Jeongguk’s lips, slides down with the rest of his hand off Jeongguk’s face. The loss of warmth is almost cruel to Jeongguk, who once agains has to resist a shiver. “You’re - you’ve got a crush on someone?” Taehyung asks, dumbfounded. There’s a tint of something akin to panic in his eyes, but Jeongguk isn’t really sure.
“I mean, I- “ he trails off, but then Jeongguk just shrugs limply. “Yeah,” he whispers. Taehyung worries his bottom lip with his teeth, and closes his eyes for a second or two, but when he opens his eyes he’s smiling with something like endearment in them. He puts his arm around Jeongguk’s shoulder, pulling him into his chest, and tickles him out of nowhere.
“Hyung! Hyung stop! Hyung I-” Jeongguk can hardly talk over giggles involuntarily leaving his body. Taehyung giggles too, high and in his throat, and Jeongguk’s trying to squirm away, but Taehyung has him in a tight hold, arm holding Jeonguk tight around his stomach and pulling him into Taehyung’s lap. After about a minute more of struggling, they both relax, Jeongguk with his back pressed against Taehyung’s chest, sitting in the older boy’s lap with Taehyung’s arm around his waist.
“Aish, can’t believe you never told me,” Taehyung says in a light tone, and Jeongguk can’t see Taehyung’s face, but he sounds like he’s smiling. Of course. Of course he would be happy at the idea of Jeongguk having a crush. Not jealous, no, because Taehyung is the best friend ever, and he only ever wants to build Jeongguk up and support him. Of course. “Tell me about this mystery man, Gukkie.”
Jeongguk sighs, but complies. “Well, he’s… he’s smart, actually. You might not believe it, because a lot of people used to think he was just this weirdo that did odd shit for laughs, but he really has the most incredible mind… I could talk to him for hours, hyung, he’s the most interesting person I’ve ever met.”
“More interesting than me?! For shame, Guk, thought what we had was real.” Taehyung’s teasing, but it hits Jeongguk right in the chest.
“Ha, yeah hyung. Sorry. Anyways, he… he’s gorgeous.” Jeongguk’s voice sounds tiny in his own ears. “He has probably the perfect face. I know it always sounds cliche when people go on about how beautiful someone is, but… if I’ve ever met anyone as beautiful on the outside as he is on the inside, it’s him. He has a beautiful face to match a beautiful soul.” Jeongguk thinks about all the many hair colours that Taehyung has had over the years, ad how he’s pulled all of them off better than any model. Taehyung’s eyes, his hands, his mouth and his little box shaped smile, his broad shoulders-
“Guk?” Taehyung’s voice sounds weirdly strained.
“Do you… Do you really like this boy? For real? Like, white picket fence, two kids and and a nice providing job future with this kid? I mean, it’s hard to know unless you’re actually living with the person, but do you think you have a future together for real?” Jeongguk laughs, if only Taehyung knew. He’d basically been living with Taehyung his whole, from when they spent nearly every night at each other’s house as kids, to now sharing an apartment together.
“I do, hyung,” Jeongguk replies, voice coming out of him like a whisper. Taehyung clutches him tighter to his chest, like he doesn’t want to let Jeongguk go.
“Then I’ll help you, I’ll support you in this,” Taehyung says, voice firm. “No matter what, you’re getting your man.”
Oh Tae, Jeongguk thinks, if only you knew.
They’re going shopping with Namjoon, one day before Taehyung’s birthday and two days before Namjoon and Jin’s New Year’s Eve party that they host every year, when Taehyung drops a bomb.
“I know who you’re pining over,” he crows gleefully at Jeongguk, and it takes everything inside of Jeongguk to not scream, right then and there. What. But before he can start asking Taehyung a million questions and begging for him to not revoke his friendship, the older boy carries on. “It’s that boy in your dance class, isn’t it? Tae- Taemin?”
Namjoon hides a snort in his elbow, and gives Jeongguk a pitying glance in between glancing over differeign bottles of champagne. Namjoon knows, of course he knows, literally everyone in Jeongguk’s life except Taehyung knows that he’s been head over heels since before he could remember. How could they not know? It was obvious.
“Tae-hyung,” he sighs, “You’re not even close.”
“What?!” Taehyung exclaims, shocked he was wrong. “But he’s everything that you said. He’s handsome, he’s smart - I know that he’s a business major, we’re friends, and you know him. Plus, he’s a nice person. Didn’t you say that the person you’re crushing on is, and I quote, ‘one of the only people I know who is as beautiful on the outside as he is on the inside’?” Jeongguk feels his cheeks heat up as Namjoon sneaks a judging side eye at him.
“Whatever I said, it wasn’t about Taemin hyung.” Jeongguk just wishes Taehyung would drop this, he gets enough judgement and teasing from his other hyungs at his crush already, and he knows Namjoon is going to report all of this to Jin, they’re that couple. At least they aren’t as bad as Hoseok, who takes great joy in flirting with Taehyung playfully in front of Jeongguk, even though everyone knows that he’s straight.
(“Heteroflexible, sweetheart,” Hoseok corrected him once. Jeongguk frowned.
“What the hell is that, hyung?”
Hoseok trailed his fingers down a glowing Taehyung’s chest, not glowing because he wanted Hoseok, rather he just thought it was ridiculously funny. “Oh, you know. Straight, but shit happens.”)
“How? He’s literally such a catch! Listen, have you seen him dance? I know you have, you’re in class together, but have you really watched him? He has impeccable hip isolation, Jeongguk, and I know that’s your thing that gets you with guys.” Jeongguk nearly chokes, and Namjoon has to hide another laugh in his elbow, but Taehyung just plows onwards.
“Plus, the guy’s great to have conversations with. Just the other day, we spent an hour talking about crabs! Not the gross kind, the food kind, Guk get that look off your face. But! We just went on for so long, just talking about meaningless things. He’s a great conversationalist, so interesting, and I know that’s what you said was one of your favorite things about him. He’s got a good face, a good body, a good personality, and he’s smart.”
“Who’s got the crush on Lee Taemin, Jeongguk or you?” Namjoon teases, and Jeongguk laughs, but Taehyung splutters.
“Hyung - you know I already like someone else!” It’s not a usual occurrence for Jeongguk to see the shameless Taehyung flustered - but here he is, flushed and looking panicked at Namjoon. For a short second, that has Jeongguk giggling lightly, but then the words hit him.
Taehyung… likes someone?
Ever since Taehyung’s junior year of high school, the older boy had never held himself back from sleeping with people who wanted him, it was all fun and games for him as long as sex was involved. He wasn’t a slut, at least if Taehyung was the one talking about it, Jeongguk didn’t see anything wrong with that label, but Taehyung definitely didn’t limit himself from the hedonistic instinct to enjoy oneself. It had just been something Jeongguk had to bear, knowing that Taehyung could and would sleep with many people that weren’t him. Recently Taehyung hadn’t been going out ot clubs or bringing people home, and Jeongguk figured it was just exams stress, but-
Was Taehyung waiting on someone? Was this it?
Jeongguk had always known at some point that Taehyung would leave him behind. Eventually, Taehyung would let go with the hand he used to drag Jeongguk behind him everywhere he went, and go off with someone new, leaving Jeongguk to his own devices. It was just a question of when. With Taehyung’s words echoing dumbly in the empty cavern of his chest, Jeongguk wonders if this is the beginning of the end.
“Tae-hyung,” Jeongguk says softly, “I’m not crushing on Taemin hyung.” The finality of his tone is probably what does it, convinces Taehyung that he’s telling the truth. Taehyung’s words are a new weight on Jeongguk’s shoulders, and the weight is making him tired enough to forget most of his old subtlety. Taehyung opens his mouth to implore more, but looking at Jeongguk’s face, he keeps quiet.
After a few minutes, though, Taehyung speaks again. “You know, if you told me who it was, we could invite him to the hyung’s New Year’s party. Then you could all dramatically kiss him at midnight, and the rest would be history.” Jeongguk shakes his head, endeared.
“Why are you trying so hard to get me a kiss for New Year’s?” he asks, voice light.
Taehyung shrugs. “Well, people bash on cliches all the time, but hey, they’re cute. And the New Year’s kiss cliche is the cutest. You’re also the cutest, so you deserve to experience the cutest cliche too. It’s the transitive property.”
“That is definitely not the transitive property,” Namjoon comments. Jeongguk would be laughing at that, but he’s too busy being flustered over Taehyung calling him the cutest. Not just cute, the cutest. Okay. Okay, he’s fine. He’s really fine, honestly.
Taehyung pokes his red cheek. “Well, it’s still true. Our little Gukkie is the cutest baby boy on the block, even a blind man would know that.”
Nevermind, Jeongguk is definitely not fine.
“Don’t worry, Guk,” Taehyung whispers in his ear when they’re on their way back to Namjoon’s apartment, carrying bags of groceries, “I wasn’t lying when I said I’d help you get your man.” Wow, that’s not even close to the mark, Jeongguk thinks, but all he can muster inside himself to do is smile weakly, something he’s been doing far too often recently.
“Thanks, hyung, but I know a lost battle when I see one.”
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
“Happy birthday to you!” the cheer comes from all of them, it’s the 30th (otherwise known as Taehyung’s birthday), and Jeongguk feels warm to his toes. He’s pressed up against Taehyung while the older comes up from blowing out the candles on his cake, and there’s laughter everywhere, smiles everywhere, a faint echo of the cheer form Jimin, and Taehyung’s smile is wider than Jeongguk’s heart when he woke up to breakfast in bed form the other.
Well, maybe just as wide. Maybe.
“What’d you wish for?” Jeongguk asks him, because he’s asked him every year that he can remember.
“It’s a secret,” Taehyung answers back, as always, and presses his index finger up against Jeongguk’s lips. Wanna kiss you, something in the back of Jeongguk’s head croons, kiss you silly, kiss me silly.
“Lovebirds! It’s time to give Tae his presents, so if you could UH calm down?” Hoseok jeers at them, and Jeongguk is ready to punch his friend, but he slaps a smile on his lips and doesn’t argue. As Jin starts cutting up pieces of cake to hand out to people, Taehyung getting his first of course, Jeongguk retreats to his room to get a package wrapped in baby blue paper, tied with a little white string around it.
He watches as Taehyung opens up everyone else’s presents, watches Taehyung smile at everyone with that boxy shaped glee, and watches his best friend thank everyone. It goes one by one, everyone eating cake, till Taehyung’s finished his third piece, and Jeongguk’s present is the only one left. “Gukkie?” He hears Taehyung ask, the older boy’s eyes glancing down at the package and then back up at his eyes.
Jeongguk thrusts the package out towards Taehyung, pushing it into his hands. “Here you go,” he says, surprisingly breathless, and he feels small palpitations while the older boy smiles and starts unwrapping it. Long, slim fingers move deftly over the paper, and his heart climbs into his throat as Taehyung rips it open.
When the older boy looks up at him, it’s with wide eyes. “Gukkie,” he whispers. In his hands is a picture that they both thought they had long lost, of the two of them at around seven or eight years old, sitting next to Taehyung’s grandmother. She had passed away only two years ago, and the effect it had on Taehyung was horrific. When they couldn’t find this picture in any photo albums, it had nearly broken Taehyung. He had come from a more or less poor background, he was at college almost purely on scholarships, and his family had never had a camera because it was a waste of money. This picture was one of the only ones Taehyung had with his grandmother.
The day of the picture, they’d gone apple picking with her. It was just a picture of the three of them clustered together, gummy smiles beaming bright, but the look on Taehyung’s face meant that it was way more than that to him.
“Get the fuck over here, baby,” Taehyung croons, and that’s all it takes for him to pull Jeongguk into a tight hug. “Where’d you find it?” Taehyung whispers into Jeongguk’s ears, and Jeongguk can hear past that that the others are pointedly ignoring them, which he’s thankful for.
“It was in one of my mom’s photo albums. I realised a few months ago that she was the one we went with, so she’d probably have it,” Jeongguk whispers back to him. He ignores the small wet spots he can feel forming on his shirt’s collar. “Happy birthday, Taehyung,” he adds on in the smallest whisper yet.
Taehyung is a little teary eyes still when they separate, but they all laugh through it, and put on one of Taehyung’s favorite movies. It’s more of a chill birthday party, but they know that Taehyung’s content, and that’s all that matters. There’s a time and place for large, exuberant parties, and this isn’t one of them.
It’s a few hours later, edging on 11 PM, when Taehyung whispers into Jeongguk’s ear, “I finally know who it is.” Jeongguk turns to his best friend with a slightly confused expression on his face. “I know who your crush is,” Taehyung clarifies. Not this again, Jeongguk thinks. His poor heart can only take so much. “It’s Jiminie, isn’t it,” Taehyung whispers into his ear, and if Jeongguk weren’t so closely cuddled up with Taehyung on their couch that he knew violently moving would probably mean elbowing Taehyung in the face, he would actually convulse.
“What?” He asks, trying to keep his voice low. “Why in the good lord’s name would I have a crush on him?” Taehyung doesn’t turn his head from where he’s staring at the TV screen, but his mouth moves swiftly, words soft enough that he’s sure only Jeongguk can hear him.
“I’ve gone crazy thinking about it, but I’m sure this time. He’s pretty, and a good person. Plus, he also does dance with you, and I know you two bond over that. He’s one of the best people I know, and I think he’s one of the only people you feel close enough with to have such an intense crush on. And..” Taehyung takes a deep breath. “We both know Jiminie is in love with Yoongi hyung, so that would explain why you called it a losing battle.”
Taehyung has a gentle hand on Jeongguk’s thigh, moving back and forth in soothing motions, but at this point all it’s doing is driving him crazy. Taehyung really thinks that he has a crush on Jimin? This is next level delusional. Jeongguk can only muster up a sigh in his chest, and he lets it out with a small prickly feeling behind his eyes going ignored. Something unfamiliar rises up inside of him, and before he knows what his body is doing his lips are next to Taehyung’s ear.
“Guk?” Taehyung is turning a little away from the screen. He must see the stray tear in Jeongguk’s eyes, because his own blow wide, and he opens his mouth to try and comfort his friend, but-
“It’s you, Taehyung,” the words sound small and sad even in his own ears. “You’re the one I want. You’re the crush.”
If he thought Taehyung’s eyes were wide before, he was wrong, now they’re blown bigger than he’s ever seen them. Taehyung’s jaw drops, and he blinks dumbly. Jeongguk smiles bitterly, and disentangles himself from the older boy’s limbs. Taehyung still hasn’t said anything, only stares at him, as Jeongguk slips on his shoes and steps quietly out their front door, wiping away a tear and biting his lip.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
“He’s not coming, he’s feeling sick. But shouldn’t you know that?” Jin says over the phone, and Jeongguk winces. He’s laying on his friend Felix’s couch, and Felix’s roommate, Chan, is whistling as he makes them some ‘brekkie.’ “You’re his roommate after all,” Jin chides, and Jeongguk wishes he could disappear.
“He didn’t say anything, Jin,” Jeongguk replies, and there’s a moment of silence before Jin asks-
Jeongguk sighs. “I… last night, during the movie, I told him that he was the one I was crushing on. He wouldn’t let it go after he heard Jimin and I talking about it, he kept mentioning trying to find me someone to kiss on New Year’s and I just - I couldn’t take it anymore. So I told him, and…” Jeongguk shakes his head before realising Jin can’t see that through the phone. “He didn’t say anything, he just looked at me like it was the worst thing I’ve ever said. He looked like I’d just - just hit him or something.”
“Guk,” he hears Jin whisper over the phone, and Jeongguk wishes that he could go back in time and take it all back. “Jeonggukkie, I’m sorry. Maybe he was just shocked, and needed a minute?”
“You didn’t see it, Jin,” Jeongguk whispers back. “He hates me now. I… I think I’ve ruined everything.” Jin abstains from saying anything for a few seconds, and then Jeongguk hears a sigh over the phone.
“Just- come to the party tonight, okay? We can talk about all this then. But promise me you’ll be there.”
“Okay,” Jeongguk agrees, and he wishes that he was texting, because even though Chan has made his whistling louder to try and give Jeongguk some privacy, he can feel the pitying look Felix is giving him without even turning around. He can feel the look on him from Chan too, and when he arrives at Jin and Namjoon’s apartment later that night, he can feel the look from literally every single one of his friends as well. Not like he expected Jin to be the best at keeping a secret, but Jeongguk thought maybe he’d be able to only tell one or two people, not everyone .
Whatever, they all knew he was in love with Taehyung in the first place, and if they had eyes or any sense of intelligence they knew that Jeongguk never stood a chance anyways, it’s not like it’s that big of a deal that they know Taehyung rejected him.
There’s more people at the party than Jeongguk expected, including (funnily enough) Lee Taemin and his boyfriend. There’s a few other people that Jeongguk doesn’t know, he guess they’re all just friends of one of the people in his friend group somehow, nd even though he’s an introvert and shy, the crowd is comforting. It allows him to stop being Jeongguk, the friend groups maknae who just had his heart stomped all over, and he can just be a random person in the crowd. Him? A broken heart? You must have the wrong person.
At one point Jimin tries to pull him aside and talk to him about it, saying that he should really, really just talk to Taehyung about all of it, but at this point Jeongguk is tired. Tired of being dragged behind Taehyung all these years, tired of never feeling like he’s enough, and tired of knowing that he doesn’t have a chance with the one person that he’s ever been in love with. He’s just tired. So he shrugs Jimin off, and goes to a different room, where people are dancing in the middle of the room near the big glass window overlooking a city street.
It’s beautiful, and Jeongguk is struck with the sudden urge to dance, and lose himself in the music. If he looks at the clock he has about fifteen minutes before midnight, and Taehyung’s idea of having someone to kiss him at midnight isn’t sounding as bad as he thought it did earlier.
At one point a girl with blonde bangs and a pretty smile is dancing with him, and he closes his eyes and lets the music guide him. The arms around him change though, from the slim arms of the girl, to more muscled, clearly masculine arms. He flutters his eyes open to see who came out of nowhere and started holding him, dancing with him, and it’s, oh it’s so cliche, it’s-
“Tae-hyung,” Jeongguk breathes, and his heart crows in its cage. “What are you doing here? I thought - I thought you were sick.”
“Who told you that?” Taehyung responds, easily sliding a large hand to rest on Jeongguk’s waist and - and wow. Okay. He knew that Taehyung had big hands, oh does he know, but he always forgets how tiny it makes him feel when those large hands go around his own almost feminine slim waist. He feels warm, pressed up against the older boy in the throng of people, and protected by the hand on his.
“Jin hyung,” Jeongguk says, pretending rather successfully that he doesn’t feel half as awkward as his brain is screaming at hi to be. This is Taehyung, his brain reminds him, you know, the boy who ripped your heart out last night. The boy who you told you liked and the boy who never responded. The boy that’s never going to love you back.
S hut up , he tells his head.
“Well, we both know hyung’s a liar when it’s convenient to him,” Taehyung replies, adn Jeongguk knows he put on shimmery lip gloss for this party, but he has to be hallucinating, because this is the third time Taehyung’s eyes have glanced down at his lips in this conversation. Taehyung doesn’t want to kiss him, Jeongguk already knows that, so why is the older boy looking at his lips like that?
“And, in what way is this convenient for him?” Jeongguk asks, and his brain feels miles behind his body, or maybe the other way around, because when Taehyung lowers his hand just a little bit more on his waist to his hips, his head feels like it’s floating miles above.
Taehyung grins, and he looks like he’s shining, radiant, beautiful. “He doesn’t want to watch me mess up the most beautiful moment in my life, I think.”Jeongguk doesn’t know what to say, he doesn’t know what Taehyung means.
“ONE MINUTE!” Someone yells in the distance, but all that Jeongguk’s hazy, hazy brain can focus on is Taehyung’s hand on his hip and Taehyung’s words flitting in and out of his mind.
“What?” Jeongguk asks dumbly, feeling stupefied, “what do you mean?”
Taehyung laughs shallowly, seeming almost nervous himself. “I - when you confessed to me, I was shocked. I had gone through all these - millions of scenarios where you rejected me over and over since I was eleven years old, and I’d always just told myself I’d have to be happy with being your best friend. It became real to me that you might leave me with all this talk of your - your crush, and I thought god he’s really gonna leave me, and I- I know you only said that you have a crush on me, but god, baby I’m in love with you.”
Jeongguk isn’t sure if he’s hearing things right. Taehyung just - no, Taehyung couldn’t have just - no that’s not possible, because there’s no way that Taehyung could love him-
“10! 9!” The crowd chants, but all Jeongguk can hear is his best friend.
“-What?!” Jeongguk asks, still astonished. Taehyung’s looking at his lips again, but also just at him, and something must be wrong because Taehyung is looking at Jeongguk like he’s made out of gold, out of silver or precious metal and diamonds and - and he’s just Jeongguk.
Taehyung giggles at him. “I said, Gukkie-”
“6! 5! 4!”
“I love you.”
“3! 2! 1!”
And Jeongguk still doesn’t really get it, but as Taehyung leans down and slots their lips together, all he can think is oh, in the white silence of everything. Maybe they were in a crowd or maybe they weren’t, all he knew was that Taehyung was kissing him, Taehyung is kissing him, and maybe- maybe he isn’t as hopeless as he thought.
“HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
“Tae - Tae, fuck,” Jeongguk can’t hardly hold himself up, so it’s a good thing that Taehyung has him pinned against the wall, his knees long since buckled. The trip back to their apartment had been freckled with one of them dragging the other into an alley, or up against a wall, or just closer, minds hazy and fingers buzzing and I love you’s running through their minds. Getting back to their apartment had been a hassle, and Jeongguk is dimly worried that they might not even make it past the front hallway, but that’s a trivial concern when he has Taehyung’s mouth on his neck and Taehyung’s huge hands in his back pockets.
“Baby,” Taehyung murmurs against his skin, and he taps Jeongguk’s hips. “Up.” It’s a good idea, because one more pet name to Jeongguk’s already lazy, hazy head is actually all it takes to ruin him. He whines, but complies and puts his legs up and around Taehyung’s waist.
Jeongguk is the one of them who works out, but that doesn’t mean Taehyung isn’t more than equipped to carry them through the apartment, Jeongguk resting his mouth now on Taehyung’s neck, kissing freckles and running his fingers through Taehyung’s hair. Taehyung squeezes his ass in his large hands, and Jeongguk nearly faints.
“You have,” Taehyung growls, “no idea how mad I got when I saw that low life guy ,” Taehyung squeezes again, and Jeongguk whimpers, “touching you here. Touching my baby.”
Jeongguk’s whole body feels hot, and he’s so hard he thinks it hurts, but all he can do is breathe “So why didn’t you do anything about it?” against Taehyung’s neck. Taehyung frees one hand from Jeongguk’s pockets to open his bedroom door, and the thought that they are going into Taehyung’s bedroom does things to Jeongguk that he really doesn’t want to admit.
“Oh I wanted to,” the older growls again. “I nearly - ow!”
Jeongguk feels himself drop from Taehyung’s grip and onto the bed, and he watches as Taehyung clutches at his nose. “Tae?” he questions, wincing as he watches the older boy clutch his nose, where Jeongguk just accidentally slammed him with his head. There’s only silence from Taehyung for a hot second, and the younger feels his heart drop all the way to his stomach, when
“Ah - CHOO!”
Tae sneezed. All over him. Well, more on Tae’s on face than anything, but he definitely felt something hit his face. Not exactly the body fluid he was expecting to get n his face tonight, but oh well. Jeongguk watches in a shock as Taehyung rushes over to their tissues and wipes his face, before extending one to Jeongguk as well. Jeongguk wipes his face, finding himself smiling despite himself, and he’s about to ask Taehyung if he’s okay, when-
Jeongguk looks up at the older to see Taehyung sheepishly biting his lip, and looking coy. After a few seconds of Jeongguk’s dumbfounded silence, did he really just do that? Battling with oh my god he remembered that?, Taehyung looks almost stricken, but then Jeongguk hears a peal of his own laughter escape him.
Jeongguk opens up his arms on the bed, smiling at his dumb, beautiful best friend.
“Get over here, loser.”
“Hey, you got your cliche, just like you wanted.”
“Bro, fuck cliches, I got my man.”
“Okay, you are not allowed to call me bro in bed. Also, breaking news, I hate you.”
“Nah, you love me.”
“Tae, what did you always wish for on your birthday that you wouldn’t tell me?”
“Guk, come on, you know me and how much i love cliches, I think you already know.”
“So… it was me, right?”