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tasting kind of lonely

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pas seul — a solo dance.

“Weight forward, everyone. Stay off your heels!”

If Jeongguk had to choose the one sentence he’s heard the most since he first stepped foot in the Seoul Art Academy, it would probably be either of those two. Every single day, teacher after teacher repeated the same instructions in all the ballet classes Jeongguk has witnessed during his time there.

Today is no different. Jeongguk watches from the other side of the glass as the class unfolds. The teacher’s eyes go from one student to another, taking everything in—their posture, their stiffness, the fluidity of their movements. It’s an advanced group, and that can be seen just by the difficulty of the dance and the very little mistakes they make. Everyone’s posture is perfect, in a way that almost makes Jeongguk jealous. Whenever he dances, he always ends up noticing his posture is off mid-dance. It’s annoying because it sticks no matter how hard he tries to change it.

Jeongguk sighs, shaking his head. He really doesn’t have the time to stay there watching classes for much longer—he has things to do, places to be. He tears his eye away from the group of dancers and resumes walking to the main hall, his initial destination.

The hallways are quieter now, as classes are in the full swing of things. He runs into a few girls coming from the cafeteria, and some people walking upstairs, where the music rooms are, but it’s mostly quiet. The November light filters softly through the wide, tall windows, making Jeongguk squint his eyes a little as he walks through the corridor.

When he gets to the main hall, the panorama doesn’t look any different. A few people talk in groups scattered all over, but no one pays attention to Jeongguk as he walks to the notice board, a paper sheet in his hand. He’s feeling nervous for some reason, even if all he has to do is pin an ad to the board and leave. Mostly, he’s scared someone might see him and then try to check what the ad says, and then… possibly laugh at him.

He’s come all the way here, though, so he doesn’t let himself back down. With hands shaking more than they should be, he goes to the board and gets one of the free pins scattered around. After safely pinning the ad to the board, he rereads the text on it for the millionth time and takes a deep breath.

Done. It wasn’t that hard, was it?

Before he can bring himself to regret his decision—or, before someone else comes and recognizes him—he quickly gets out of the main hall, making his way back to the entry. This time around, he doesn’t allow himself to get entertained by the people dancing inside the studios.

He gets out and leaves the school, his heart feeling heavy in his chest. He hopes this works out. Because right now, he really, really needs it to.

 

 

“It’s been four days,” Jeongguk complains, throwing a little ball the size of his palm up and catching it as it falls. “Why hasn’t anyone called? I’d hope after four days I’d get at least one call.”

“You need to give these things time, Guk,” Hoseok replies, reaching for Jeongguk’s knee and giving it a squeeze. Jeongguk doesn’t look at him, but he pouts. “Plus, it’s not like you have a lot of free time. I don’t think you could see more than one person for lessons. You already have two jobs.”

“And that barely covers rent and living expenses,” Jeongguk says with a sigh. Hoseok gives him a sympathetic smile. “You’re the one who gave me the idea of putting up ads for dance lessons. You should be encouraging me instead of trying to bring me down.”

“You know I’d never bring you down,” Hoseok tells him. Jeongguk sighs, once again. “All I’m saying is, don’t get greedy. Don’t overwork yourself, yeah? One student is enough, two, tops.”

“Okay, okay, don’t worry,” Jeongguk tells him, dismissive. “I’m not stupid. I know I don’t have time to take in a million people.”

“So then, don’t worry if someone hasn’t called yet.” If only it were that easy, Jeongguk thinks to himself. Hoseok adds, “Someone will, you know that.”

Hoseok does this thing where he’s right eighty-five percent of the time, always the voice of reason during Jeongguk’s moments of panic. Jeongguk is nothing but grateful afterwards, but while they happen, it baffles him that Hoseok is always so calm and has such a good perspective. Sometimes he just needs someone to panic with him, share his hysteria.

And so, Jeongguk playfully throws the small ball to Hoseok’s leg, not with force enough for it to hurt, and whines, “Be upset with me!”

Hoseok laughs, and so Jeongguk proceeds to drape himself over his legs and mockingly punch his knee. That, far from being intimidating at all, only makes Hoseok laugh even more.

Even if Jeongguk knew that Hoseok tends to be right, he wasn’t expecting to be proven right away. Which is why, when his phone rings right after, he doesn’t really think much of it. What are the odds of the unknown number calling him being someone interested in his lessons, anyway?

He moves off Hoseok and reaches for his phone, sitting up before answering. After staring at the screen and the unknown number for a second, he slides in order to pick up, then brings the phone to his ear and nervously asks, “Hello?”

Hoseok gives him a look, but Jeongguk can’t say he understands what his friend means by it. He’s distracted from his face when a deep voice on the other end asks, “Is this Jeongguk?”

“That would be me, yeah,” Jeongguk replies. He reaches forward for the shoelaces of one of his sneakers, fiddling with it between his fingers. “May I help you?”

“I’m calling you because I saw an ad you put online,” the guy resumes. Jeongguk’s eyes widen. “Are you still offering lessons?”

In addition to hanging ads on the notice board of the school, Jeongguk also put up some on a couple different websites. He wants to reach as many people as possible, and seemingly, it’s now having an effect. Thank God.

“I am, yeah!” Jeongguk replies, a little too fast and a little too enthusiastically. He can’t help himself—this is exactly what he needed, and at the right time. “Would you be interested?”

“Indeed,” the guy replies, laughing a little. Maybe he’s laughing at Jeongguk’s enthusiasm, but he’s far too happy to care. “Nothing too advanced. I want to learn some basic ballet to improve my posture and balance.”

“That can be done, yeah,” Jeongguk says, starting to feel giddy. “What’s your name, by the way?”

“I’m Taehyung,” the voice replies. Taehyung, Jeongguk repeats to himself. A name he’s going to have to remember. “Should we decide how to go about it, then?”

They stay on the phone for a little longer. After arranging prices for the sessions, they decide to meet up twice a week, in the early evenings—that’s the only time they both seem to be available. Jeongguk gives him the address of the community center where he and Hoseok teach little kids during the weekends. After working there for a couple of years he’s close to the people who run the place, so he has permission to use the studios there whenever they aren’t occupied with the center’s activities. “Five PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Taehyung repeats, probably trying to make sure.

“That is correct, yeah,” Jeongguk says, nodding even if he knows Taehyung can’t see him.

“Okay, that works well with me,” Taehyung tells him. He sounds just as happy as Jeongguk does, if he’s honest. “I’ll be there, then.”

“Amazing,” Jeongguk says, smiling wide. It’s Sunday now, so there are only a couple of days left until their first lesson. “I’ll see you on Tuesday, then?”

“Definitely,” Taehyung replies. “See you on Tuesday, Jeongguk. Have a nice start of the week!”

With that, Taehyung hangs up. It takes Jeongguk a few moments to fully process that finally, someone has called, and that finally, he’ll be able to get some extra money. Extra money that he very much needs. It’ll only be 15,000 won per hour, with two two-hour-long sessions a week, but it’s far better than nothing.

He finally snaps out of his daze and puts his phone down, only to find himself smiling widely as Hoseok looks at him.

Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it, he thinks to himself, watching the look on Hoseok’s face.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Hoseok starts, smug. “But… I told you so.”

 

 

Tuesday comes by eventually, and Jeongguk makes sure to be there early. He arrives around thirty minutes before the time they agreed on, making sure he has time enough to do some stretches and warm ups.

Jeongguk is no stranger to teaching. During the last couple of years, he has been working at the community center and giving ballet lessons to kids during the weekends. Of course, the price for those lessons is almost null—just 4,000 won per kid, but that’s the point of the community center. It gives kids who don’t have the possibility of attending an official dance school the chance to dance, and maybe discover a passion. As well as ballet, there is also a hip-hop class given by Hoseok, both given at the same time on Saturdays. That’s how they first met, even if it feels like they’ve been friends for years.

But, even if Jeongguk has been teaching for a while, this time is different. Very different. For starters, it’s the first one on one class he’s ever going to give, as at the community center they have always worked in groups. In addition to that, it’s the first time he’s going to be teaching an adult. Taehyung’s voice was very deep, way too deep for a teen, albeit he didn’t sound very old, and the way he spoke sounded rather… juvenile. He’s expecting someone around his age, which he’s grateful for. If it were someone notoriously older, Jeongguk knows he would most likely feel somewhat intimidated.

He’s feeling nervous, but also hopeful. On the phone, Taehyung seemed nice and easy going, able to fill all the awkward silences whenever Jeongguk didn’t quite know where to go next. The more he thinks about the mystery boy he’ll be teaching, the more intrigued Jeongguk is.

What Jeongguk really wonders is why he’s deciding to take lessons. He mentioned he wanted to improve his balance and posture, sure, but what for? There must be something he needs that balance for. Jeongguk will make sure to ask him later, now that he’s become curious about the reason.

The minutes go by painfully slow, but eventually, five o’clock comes. He cracks his knuckles, waiting in silence until he hears noise coming down the hallway. It’s the door to the community center opening and closing right after, followed by footsteps. Jeongguk quickly scrambles to his feet, standing in the middle of the studio. He looks awkward as fuck, but who the hell cares—it’s far better than Taehyung’s first impression of him being him sitting on the floor, contemplating his entire existence.

Even if he knew it was coming, he still gets startled when he hears a sharp knock on the door to the studio. Unlike the studios at the school, the only windows these have show the exterior, not the hallways, so there’s no way for him to sneak a peek at Taehyung until they face each other.

“Come in!” he calls, inviting Taehyung—or who he assumes is Taehyung, at least—to come inside.

The door opens, and a boy appears in Jeongguk’s line of sight. Just like he predicted, the guy is around the same age Jeongguk himself is, probably not older than twenty-five. He is also about as tall as Jeongguk himself is, he observes. Deep, rich brown eyes and sandy blond hair that looks a little disheveled. What really gets to Jeongguk are the red cheeks and red tip of his nose, probably from how cold it is outside.

Jeongguk’s first impression of Taehyung is that he’s cute.

“Hello there!” Taehyung greets him as soon as he’s inside, the door clicking shut behind him. Taehyung bows, his hair bouncing as Jeongguk mimics him. “You’re Jeongguk, right? I didn’t mess up the address, or the studio number, or anything.”

“I’m Jeongguk, yeah,” Jeongguk replies, smiling at the guy. “And… you’re Taehyung, right?”

“The one and only,” Taehyung replies, again followed by another smile. “It’s good to meet you! I hope we can get along, so that these lessons are enjoyable for both of us.”

“Likewise,” Jeongguk replies, giving Taehyung a smile. He feels a little intimidated by Taehyung, but he tries his best to be friendly. “I’m sure we’ll both enjoy them, yeah.”

Taehyung starts to unwrap himself from his thick, wool coat and the big scarf he’s wearing, hanging them on the coat rack near the door. As he does so, he tells Jeongguk about how he almost got lost on the way here, and how this part of Seoul is not the area he’s the most familiar with.

“And I was also nervous when I got here,” Taehyung explains. “I know you said studio number two, but in my mind I would end up defying all the odds and stepping into studio number one, just to find a bunch of kids. Which, if we’re being honest, wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but I swear in my head it looked utterly terrifying.”

Jeongguk laughs at that, and Taehyung’s smile widens. “A very reasonable fear to have,” Jeongguk replies. “Kids are equal parts adorable and scary. I don’t think you’d make it alive out of that classroom.”

“Finally someone gets it,” Taehyung tells him, clearly joking. He then adds, “Oh! By the way… I don’t know what kind of clothes I was supposed to bring, but I obviously don’t have ballet gear. Let me know if I need to get some shoes or something.”

“Some ballet pumps would be nice, but you’re good with leggings or tights. As long as you pair them with a fitted t-shirt or leotards,” Jeongguk comments, Taehyung nodding at him. Right now, Taehyung is wearing some sneakers, which isn’t very appropriate, but it’s not like they’re going to get straight into dancing today. “Socks will suffice for this class, but I can get you some ballet pumps, if you need. I have spares, and I don’t want you to slip and hurt yourself.”

“Do you think we’re the same size?” Taehyung asks as he starts to take his shoes off, curiosity dripping from his voice.

“I mean, I think so?” replies Jeongguk, now looking at Taehyung’s feet. “More or less. Yours are probably a bit bigger, but I have some that are big on me.”

“It’d be great if you could do that,” Taehyung tells him, nodding. “Should we get started, then?”

As Jeongguk suspected, Taehyung really has no idea of what to do to warm up, and so Jeongguk guides him through it while they talk some more. Jeongguk sees this as the perfect chance to ask the question that was rounding his mind earlier, so he musters up some courage and asks.

“You said you wanted to improve your posture and balance,” he says. Taehyung nods. “May I know what for? If there is any particular reason, that is.”

“Oh, you’re a curious one,” Taehyung tells him with a little smile, making Jeongguk’s cheeks burn a little. Looks like he’s been caught. “But there is a reason, actually. I didn’t want to tell at first in case you were some stuck-up bitch, but you seem pretty chill,” Taehyung carries on.

Jeongguk is a little caught off guard by Taehyung’s word choice, but he ignores it and asks, “And what is it?”

“It’s for my job,” Taehyung explains. The explanation seems a little more boring than Jeongguk was expecting, but then he adds, “I need to wear heels and perform in them. And I’m… not very good. My best friend told me that ballet helps with posture and balance, so that’s why I’m here.”

“You need to wear heels?” asks Jeongguk, frowning a little. Not because he doesn’t approve of the shoes, to each their own, but because he really can’t think of any profession that would require such a dress code. “What do you do, then?”

“I’m a drag queen,” Taehyung replies. Jeongguk’s eyes widen in surprise. “I mean, for the last two years I’ve been getting away with wearing platforms, but I’m trying to polish my look a little bit, so I’m trying to get better at walking in heels,” Taehyung explains. After a small pause, he looks at Jeongguk and says, “I hope… I hope my job isn’t a problem?”

“Oh—no, no, no,” Jeongguk rushes to reply. “Not at all! I’m an open-minded person. I don’t care what your job is. As long as it makes you happy.”

“That’s good, then,” Taehyung replies, with a smile. As they stretch, Jeongguk notices that despite him not being as flexible as Jeongguk himself is—kind of expected, after years of ballet—he bends quite far. “Can I ask something rather nosy?”

“You can, but I can’t guarantee an answer,” Jeongguk replies, raising an eyebrow at Taehyung.

“Are you gay?”

The question catches Jeongguk off guard, and he can’t help but giggle a little upon hearing it. Taehyung smiles a little, visibly relaxing—he might have thought that Jeongguk would be offended by the question, he guesses.

His sexuality is not something that Jeongguk is ashamed of, even if some people have tried to make him feel like it is through all of his life, so he doesn’t have a problem replying to Taehyung. “I am, yeah,” he says, as he lets go of the tip of his foot and sits back up. “What gave me away?”

“Nothing, to be honest,” replies Taehyung. He mimics Jeongguk, sitting up and stretching his other leg instead. At the same time he leans forward, he says, “I just have a good gaydar.”

Jeongguk just laughs, shaking his head.

After some more small talk, the proper lesson starts. Taehyung really has no idea about ballet whatsoever, which means they have to start from scratch. Jeongguk teaches him postures, and so they spend most of the class by the barre, teaching Taehyung how to point his feet or how to hold his arms gracefully.

Luckily for Jeongguk, Taehyung is a fast learner. He follows instructions well, and whenever Jeongguk has to make any correction, he’s quick to understand and rectify. Despite having never done ballet, it’s clear to Jeongguk that he has danced before—maybe not proper lessons, but he isn’t stiff and seems to be comfortable in this setting. That was one of Jeongguk’s biggest concerns for the lesson: comfort. In a room full of beginners, it’s easy for students to relax whenever they see that they’re not the only one who’s a little clueless. Being alone, though, that changes things. Jeongguk is therefore glad that Taehyung isn’t embarrassed by his lack of ballet knowledge and skill, and instead is happy to be taught.

They don’t properly talk during the lesson, but Jeongguk is still able to notice the stark contrast between the two of them. Just from their conversation earlier and the way he carries himself, it’s easy for Jeongguk to see that Taehyung is very full of life and very out there. He talks a fair amount even though they have known each other for less than an hour.

Overall, by the time the lesson is over and Taehyung leaves, Jeongguk is rather happy with the way things turned out. He got money for spending time with a nice, easy-to-be-with boy doing what he loves most in the world. Not bad, huh?

He checks the watch on the wall just to find out that he has some time before he needs to go to work, so he might as well make good use of both it and the empty studio. He’s already stretched and ready for some dancing, so…

But before anything, he walks to his phone and adds a new reminder, thumbs sliding fast over the screen as he taps.

Get spare ballet pumps for Taehyung.

 

 

As does everyone else, Jeongguk has his own demons. Abandonment would be one, for reasons that Jeongguk doesn’t like to mull over. Not being good enough is another, since he’s as much of a perfectionist as he is a worrier. Rejection would be another good example.

Despite not being the one that affects him the most, Jeongguk would say that rejection is the one that he’s worst at handling. It makes him feel ashamed, humiliated. Hot cheeks and burning eyes as he tries to keep to himself.

If there is anything Jeongguk hates, it would be crying in front of other people. But how could he not when he has to yet again see his dreams vanish right in front of him?

“All I am asking for is a chance, Mr. Yoo,” Jeongguk asks again. At least his voice hasn’t broken yet, even if he’s sure there are other signs for the head director of the school to know he’s not handling this situation well. “I know it would be an exceptional situation, but I promise I would take advantage of it.”

“Mr. Jeon, I don’t doubt that, but unfortunately, it’s not possible for us to make such an exception,” the head director replies. He’s being as kind as one can be, but the answer is still no. And fuck, it hurts. “The school’s guidelines are strict about this rule. Staff members can’t be alumni.”

Jeongguk feels stuck. Fuck that stupid rule—he should be allowed to be a student, even if he works as a cleaner. As long as he has enough money to pay, who cares if he’s a member of the staff?

“I know that, Mr. Yoo,” Jeongguk says. “But if I didn’t have a job, then I wouldn’t be able to pay for classes here. Which is why I am aware that this would be an exceptional situation. Maybe it could be worked out so each month the fee of the school could be subtracted from my salary. Or two transactions could be made, I of course wouldn’t mind. But…” he trails off. He knows it’s sentimental, and probably of little importance to Mr. Yoo, but he adds, “But it’s my dream.”

Mr. Yoo sighs, giving him a sympathetic smile. Jeongguk doesn’t know what else to say at this point. He wishes he could sell himself as a prodigy, but he knows he’s not. He’s good, yes, but not a prodigy. Besides, he’s already twenty-one, so he’s a few years late. Of course, they’re not going to make an exception for him, out of all people. In their eyes, Jeongguk isn’t more than the person who mops the floors of the studios and cleans the wall mirrors.

“I’m so sorry, Mr. Jeon,” the head director says again. Jeongguk sighs again, feeling defeated and looking down at his lap. “As much as we would like to have you as one of our students, it’s impossible while you are also a staff member. Besides, all school fees must be covered in one single payment before the school year starts, so the plan you proposed wouldn’t be possible.”

“I understand,” Jeongguk complies, unable to bring himself to look into the director’s eyes. “Thank you so much for seeing me and talking to me, Mr. Yoo.”

“It’s no problem,” the man replies, both standing up at the same time. “I wish there was a way for us to work this out.”

Jeongguk just gives him a tight-lipped smile at that. There is a way for things to work out, Jeongguk just showed it to him—but he guesses people like him aren’t meant to achieve things like… well, things like this.

They say their goodbyes and Jeongguk leaves the office, rushing out of the school. His shift hasn’t started yet, and he needs some time alone as well as some fresh air to clear his mind. He sits on one of the benches right opposite the building and looks at it, the sight just as beautiful as it is cruel.

Ever since Jeongguk has had a mind, ballet has both been his passion and his obsession. It was his grandmother who convinced his parents to let her enroll Jeongguk in dance classes, although they decided to keep from them what kind he’d be doing. They signed everything necessary, under the belief Jeongguk would be learning hip-hop.

And God, isn’t Jeongguk grateful for how few questions they asked and how little interest they showed. Ballet was there for Jeongguk through the best and worst years of his life, both through his tender childhood and his teenage years, keeping him up when he thought he would inevitably fall.

When he was sixteen and his parents found out it was ballet that he was doing and not urban, they didn’t like it. And that’s how Jeongguk’s dream started to crash, with his parents pulling him from the dance school he was enrolled in.

Jeongguk’s intention was to complete his studies in that school, and then get a scholarship they offered to get higher education into Seoul’s best college in the field of arts, the Seoul Art Academy. Even if he didn’t have the approval from his parents, he wouldn’t need it—the scholarship and the support his grandmother gave him would be enough to get him through, they had already spoken about it. But with his parents pulling him out of the school, that possibility disappeared.

It’s been years since that, but Jeongguk is just as bitter as he was then. To some, working at the school that he so badly wishes to attend might seem like self-inflicted torture. To Jeongguk, it’s the only way he’s able to cope. Besides, he gets to use the facilities during the night shifts when everyone else has gone home—the other staff members pretend not to know, aware that Jeongguk is just a kid with a broken dream.

But during days like this, it gets hard. It’s not the first time he has tried to work a way to get into the school, only to be turned down.

Still, Jeongguk doesn’t give up. Mr. Yoo’s words echo in his mind: staff members can’t be alumni and all the school fees must be paid in one go. Jeongguk raises his eyes from the pavement and looks at the building in front of him again.

Save up. He needs to save up. He will save up whatever amount he needs to get into the school next year, and then try to get one of the scholarships they offer for their students. The hard part is getting in. He can’t quit his job quite yet, but maybe by the time the next school year starts he’ll be ready, especially now that he has another side job.

Jeongguk clenches his jaw, determined. This is the dream that he’s been fighting for ever since he had a mind of his own. And he’s not going to give it up that easily.

 

 

It’s that very same night that Jeongguk goes to clean one of the piano rooms on the first floor, a permanent pout on his lips, when he opens the door just to find Yoongi in there. He’s a little shocked to see someone in there, as he assumed that even the most hardworking of people would have left by this point, but it’s Yoongi. Of course he would stay until he was kicked out.

“You’re not supposed to be here,” is what Jeongguk tells him as soon as he sees him there.

Yoongi rolls his eyes. “Good evening, Jeongguk,” he replies. “I’m glad to see you here, too.”

“I am glad to see you,” Jeongguk points out, pushing his mop inside the room. “I’ve just had a shit day and can’t wait to go home and drown in self-hatred and self-pity in equal amounts. And you being here delays my self-pitying session.”

“That’s some interesting plans you have for tonight,” Yoongi comments, pushing his stool back and away from the piano and standing up. “What happened that made today so bad?”

“I had my biannual meeting with Mr. Yoo to beg him to join the school,” Jeongguk announces. Yoongi’s expression immediately softens, probably aware of where this is going. “And he had his biannual chance to say no to my begging. Order has been restored, the world keeps spinning.”

“That fucking sucks,” Yoongi replies, approaching Jeongguk. Jeongguk sighs, muttering something in agreement—it fucking sucks, indeed. “Want a hug?”

“More like, need a hug,” Jeongguk replies.

“Aww,” Yoongi coos, making his way to him. He hops a little as he comes, before wrapping his arms around Jeongguk’s middle in a tight, warm hug. “We can go piss in front of his office if you want. He deserves it.”

Sometimes, Jeongguk needs Hoseok to be logical and tell him that, in the grand scheme of things, he isn’t doing that bad, and that there is a way out of everything. But other times, and tonight is one of those times, he needs a bone-breaking hug and a promise to piss in front of the door of whoever makes him sad. And he knows that he can always count on Yoongi for those occasions.

“You’re my best friend and I love you,” Jeongguk tells him. Yoongi hums, squeezing his arms around him. He knows he’s not done talking. “I just wanted a stupid spot in this stupid school. It’s not my fault that my parents hate everything I love and refuse to pay for my shit, Mr. Yoo.”

“When I become famous I’ll be your sugar daddy,” Yoongi tells him as they let go of each other. Jeongguk must admit he cracks a smile at that.  “You’re gonna study at the fucking Vaganova Academy.”

“I’ll be like forty by then,” Jeongguk replies, jokingly. Yoongi rolls his eyes. “Why are you here so late, anyway? Preparing your claim to fame?”

“I was working on the melody of a song and I guess I just lost track of time,” Yoongi replies, running a hand through his already messy hair. “I’m sorry I’m still here. I don’t want to make you or any of the other staff stay here until late.”

“Hey, hey, I know you don’t. I was just joking,” Jeongguk replies, giving Yoongi’s back a pat. “I’m sorry if that sounded rude. I’ve just had… a really shitty day, and can’t wait to go home.”

“No rudeness whatsoever,” Yoongi says. “Do you need any help?”

Every time Jeongguk stumbles upon Yoongi while he’s cleaning, Yoongi asks the same thing. And every time, Jeongguk turns it down.

“No way. This is my job, Min Yoongi,” Jeongguk tells him, pointing the stick of the mop in Yoongi’s direction. “You get home and get some rest.”

“Okay, okay,” Yoongi says, lifting his arms as if he were giving up. Jeongguk doesn’t put the stick down. Yoongi gives Jeongguk a little smile before he starts to walk out of the room, but when he’s by the door he stops himself. “And Guk?”

“Yeah?” Jeongguk asks, looking at Yoongi.

“You get some rest, too,” Yoongi tells him. Jeongguk nods, giving him a tight-lipped smile. “We’ll find a way out.”

“I’m gonna try to save up so next year I can pay for the course,” Jeongguk says, looking away again. “And after that, either try to get a scholarship or get another job, since I can’t work here if I’m a student. I have the teaching stuff on the side, so we’ll see.”

“I don’t know, Guk,” Yoongi tells him, not too convinced. “Dance is very time-consuming. I don’t think you’ll be able to do all those things at once.”

“It’s worth a try,” Jeongguk says, scratching his arm.

Yoongi sighs, starting to move away again. He’s out of the door as he adds, “I love you, and you’re doing great.”

“Thanks, Yoongs,” Jeongguk replies, feeling a little choked up. For some reason, what Yoongi said makes him feel a pang in his chest. “I will do, yeah. See you this weekend?”

“See you this weekend,” Yoongi says. He waves at Jeongguk at the same time he says, “Bye!”

The door clicks behind Yoongi, leaving Jeongguk alone. It’s then, in that empty music room, that it dawns on him. He’s lost the chance of his life again. Every time it gets more and more tiring to keep trying, especially because it never seems to work out.

He’s been through some rough times, but at the end of the day he has always been able to find some light at the end of the tunnel. The feeling of despair he feels right now is not something unknown to Jeongguk, but it’s not something he likes to remember, either. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel, not that he can see now.

For the first time in years, Jeongguk feels complete and utterly hopeless.

 

 

On Thursday, Jeongguk wakes up to a text from Taehyung. The other day, after class, Jeongguk told him to text him whenever he needed to talk to him—whether it was to cancel or to reschedule a class, or if he just needed to get in touch with him. He’s glad to see that Taehyung listened, as he’s far more comfortable texting that he is talking on the phone.

He rubs his eyes, trying to wake himself up properly, and then opens the text.

jeongguk, this is taehyung. i was wondering if there was any way we could meet up on monday as well, since the first time we talked you said you had the studio that day as well. i just wanna learn fast!!! i understand if you’re busy with someone else and/or can’t anymore, of course~

Jeongguk’s first thought upon seeing the messages is that Taehyung is so blissfully unaware, thinking Jeongguk has had other people call him about his classes. Taehyung is the only person that he’s teaching, and as Hoseok said, Jeongguk doubts he would have the time or the energy to teach someone else.

His second thought is that Taehyung doesn’t fucking sleep. The text was sent just thirty minutes before Jeongguk woke up, but Jeongguk knows that it doesn’t mean Taehyung is an early bird. He knows that Taehyung works until late into the night, but he wasn’t expecting it to be that late—or should he say early? It’s wild for Jeongguk to think that Taehyung is more or less nocturnal.

He stares at the message for a couple of seconds, thinking of a reply. He can’t think of any reason why he shouldn’t do this. He charges per hour, and two extra hours a week wouldn’t hurt him. Especially now that he’s starting to save up with a set goal. It’s fast and easy cash, so he really has no reason to say no.

His thumbs hover over the screen before he starts typing a reply, thinking of what to say. He needs to sound casual, not too enthusiastic or eager for the extra money. Not that Taehyung would think anything weird of him doing a job in exchange for money, honestly. And not that he cares what Taehyung thinks about him, either. He’s just trying to adjust to societal conventions.

Sure thing!! Same time, same place?

He presses send before giving himself time to overthink it, as he always does whenever he texts someone who isn’t a close friend. He usually gets in his head a lot over this stuff, even if the person on the other end probably doesn’t really care, or think much about the word choice he has used.

After that, he locks his phone and gets his morning started, getting in the shower. He doesn’t expect a reply from Taehyung until the afternoon, judging by the time he’s gone to sleep. If anything, they will see each other later, so things can be discussed then.

 

 

Jeongguk is happy to see that Taehyung listened to the advice he gave him as soon as he arrives at the studio and takes his coat off, revealing a fitted, white cotton t-shirt.

“Cute outfit,” he comments as Taehyung hangs it on the coat rack, making him laugh.

“Do you like it?” Taehyung asks, twirling and stretching one leg out, as to show the outfit. “I’ve called this outfit monochromatic drama. I think it fits.”

Jeongguk laughs, taking in Taehyung’s black leggings and combat boots, a stark contrast against his white t-shirt. “It’s truly something so high fashion.”

“It’s not as good as your leotards,” Taehyung points out, “but the bodysuits and leotards I own either have too many sequins or too little fabric, so they’re really not an option.”

For some reason, the thought of Taehyung with leotards and bodysuits that don’t cover much makes him blush a little, cheeks getting warm. Jeongguk looks away, praying Taehyung doesn’t notice.

It’s an objective fact that Taehyung is an attractive guy. Jeongguk would be lying if he said he hasn’t let his eyes linger for one second too long on how long and perfect his legs look, or on the perky and dainty curve of his ass. But that’s not something he is allowed to think about—he’s giving Taehyung dance lessons, so he better focus and do his job professionally.

“For performing?” Jeongguk asks, hoping that his hair is enough to hide his burning cheeks.

“Yeah! I like bodysuits a lot,” Taehyung replies. “Although to wear them you need to put extra diligence on tucking, otherwise a disaster is bound to happen.”

Another thing that Jeongguk didn’t need to think about—Taehyung’s genitalia. God, this boy is going to be the death of him.

“That seems hard,” Jeongguk comments, trying not to dwell too much on the thought of Taehyung… yeah.

“It just takes practice,” Taehyung replies, smiling at him as he undoes the laces of his combat boots. “Did you end up bring the ballet pumps?”

“Oh! I did, yeah,” Jeongguk says, walking towards his sports bag and opening the zipper. “They’re just plain black ones. I hope they fit? I haven’t used them much, since they’re a little big on me, so they’re almost like new.”

“Let me see,” Taehyung says, taking the pumps from Jeongguk’s hand as he tends them to him. “I think they look just about right, yeah.”

“Let me know if they’re uncomfortable, yeah?”

“I will,” Taehyung replies, giving him a small smile. “I’m too whiny to keep those things to myself, you know.”

Taehyung seems to be comfortable enough with the pumps, so Jeongguk decides to get the lesson started then. Class doesn’t go by any differently today, except that Taehyung seems more playful. Nothing too distracting or irritating—he still is focused and listens to Jeongguk well, but he lets out a few witty remarks here and there, makes a few jokes that have Jeongguk trying hard to contain a smile.

In addition to that, there is something about him. Jeongguk can’t quite explain it, but something about Taehyung and the way he carries himself makes Jeongguk feel naïve, like he’s seen too little of the world. In a way, it feels like people like Taehyung could eat people like Jeongguk for breakfast.

He would be lying if he said he’s not… a little intimidated by Taehyung. Which is weird of him to feel since Taehyung has been nothing but incredibly nice to him—always smiling, always enthusiastic. At the same time, that intimidation is paired with something else – curiosity. He feels like ever since Taehyung first called, all Jeongguk has felt is curious about him. At first, it was about how his first student would turn out to be. Then Taehyung mentioned doing drag, something that Jeongguk has lots of genuine questions about, as it’s something very foreign to him. And as if that weren’t enough, he’s also intrigued by Taehyung’s personality, what makes him him.

Jeongguk bites down on his bottom lip, aware that he has gotten a little caught up in his own thoughts, and looks at Taehyung. He’s by the barre, working on the battement tendu that Jeongguk is trying to teach him today after going through the plié he taught him on Tuesday.

“You need to straighten your back more,” Jeongguk points out, taking a hesitant step forward. He stops himself before he’s close to Taehyung, adding, “Remember, posture is important.”

Taehyung straightens his back a little, but it’s still quite off. “Like this?” he asks, looking at Jeongguk with inquiring eyes.

Jeongguk shakes his head, frowning a little. During their previous lesson, Taehyung had no problem with posture whatsoever, but he guesses it’s not something everyone gets right away. Without working on it at home, it’s possible that he forgot, as it doesn’t come naturally to him in the same way it does to Jeongguk. For Jeongguk, everything is muscle memory.

“No, no,” he says. This time around he covers the entire space between him and Taehyung with two strides, until he’s standing beside him. He places one hand on the small of Taehyung’s back, another on his chest, and gently pushes his body into the perfect posture. “Like this,” he says. He finds Taehyung looking down at his hands, so with a finger under Taehyung’s chin, he lifts his face up. “And no looking down.”

“Thank you, Mr. Teacher,” Taehyung tells him with a teasing smile.

“Anytime,” Jeongguk says. He quickly adds, “Come on, get in your starting position and let’s do that again.”

Taehyung is quick to obey, returning to the first position and going over the exercise again. This time around, Taehyung gets through it without much difficulty. Jeongguk nods, approvingly.

The rest of the class goes by without any incidents. Seven comes by and it’s time for Taehyung to leave, so he starts putting his coat back on and wrapping his scarf over his head.

“I had fun today,” Taehyung comments, running his fingers through his hair and looking at himself in the wall mirror. After he’s done fixing his hair he looks at Jeongguk through the mirror, saying, “I think I like this more than what we did the other day.”

“Pliés are very important in ballet, you know?” Jeongguk says, crossing his arms over his chest at the same time he cocks an eyebrow at Taehyung.

“But more boring than… battement tendu?” Taehyung replies, sounding dubious. Jeongguk nods. “I wonder what you have in store for me for next week.”

“You’ll see,” Jeongguk replies. He has a few ideas already but he’d rather not tell Taehyung until class comes. He doesn’t want him to look up stuff on his own and develop bad posture, or learn how to do exercises in the wrong way. It’s then that he remembers something he wanted to tell Taehyung since Tuesday, but kept forgetting to. “Oh! I meant to tell you this—in ballet class, so the students don’t lose out on any of the lesson, it’s often advised to come fifteen minutes earlier to stretch and warm up. In case you don’t want to waste time of your paid lessons with that stuff.”

“Does it bother you if we warm up during the time of the lesson?” Taehyung asks.

“No, no, it doesn’t!” Jeongguk rushes to explain. “It’s just that it’s usually done so you don’t waste time from the actual lesson. Since I charge per hour and—”

“Then, if it doesn’t bother you, I’d rather we keep things how they are,” Taehyung says, interrupting him. He gives Jeongguk a smile, who looks a little puzzled. “It’s just fifteen minutes, and I like our little conversations while stretching.”

Jeongguk tries to hide his surprise. “Okay! Okay, yeah,” he adds, not very eloquently. “We can do that. Whatever works best for you.”

“Thank you,” Taehyung replies with a smile. “I’ll see you on Monday then!”

“See you on Monday, yeah,” Jeongguk says, waving at Taehyung as he exits the studio.

Jeongguk is left there alone then, and for some reason, his chest feels tight in a way that he can’t make sense of at all. He looks at himself in the mirror—looks at the messy hair, the forehead shiny with sweat and the way his eyes sparkle. Why do they sparkle?

He quickly gets back on his feet and runs a hand through his hair, dismissing it. The lightning here is weird, anyway.

He was considering dancing before starting work, but in the end, he ends up discarding the idea. Instead, he grabs his sports bag and heads to the changing rooms. Right now, what he needs is a good, hot shower.

 

 

On Friday evening, Jeongguk has a very much needed catch up with both Hoseok and Yoongi after he’s done with work. They’re all too tired from their weeks to go out, so instead they meet up at Hoseok’s place.

Jeongguk needs this every once in a while. Time to disconnect from his life, from his jobs, from how much everything sucks. Hoseok and Yoongi are the people who know Jeongguk the most, and for that, he would trust them with his life. They’re also the only people he wants to see when he’s feeling moody like this.

“You need to tell us more about that guy you’re teaching,” says Hoseok as he comes back to the living room from the kitchen, three bottles of beer in his hands. “Is he nice? He seemed nice over the phone.”

“He’s nice, yeah,” replies Jeongguk with a shrug. “We get along well, I guess.”

“Sounds boring,” Yoongi comments, reaching for one of the bottles and taking a sip. “What was his name again?”

“His name’s Taehyung,” Jeongguk replies. Yoongi nods, and Jeongguk bites down on his lips. Before Jeongguk can stop himself, he adds, “He’s taking ballet lessons because he wants to learn how to properly walk in heels.”

“Oh, really?” Hoseok starts, eyebrows shooting up. He passes one bottle to Jeongguk, who is sitting on the armchair far away from the table, and plops down on the couch next to Yoongi. “That’s fun.”

“Fashionable,” Yoongi comments. “And committed. I’d probably break both ankles.”

Hoseok laughs at that, giving Yoongi’s knee a squeeze so as to cheer him up over his lack of skills at walking in heels.

“It’s because of his job,” Jeongguk explains, even if they didn’t really ask. “He’s a drag queen.”

Surprise appears on both of their faces, and it makes Jeongguk wonder if he was so obviously shocked when Taehyung told him. Probably yes—Jeongguk is quite expressive, one to show every emotion he feels on his face. God, that’s so embarrassing if Taehyung saw him look so in shock.

“That’s fuckin’ awesome if he does that,” Yoongi tells, looking honest. “I really don’t know shit about drag, but it’s cool that his job is something like that. Way more interesting than, I don’t know, being an accountant.”

“And I’m sure it’s something hard to make a living out of,” Hoseok chimes in, nodding along to what Yoongi said. “Especially in a place like here. I guess you must be really passionate about something like that to turn it into your profession, despite all the impediments.”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk replies then, on a mumble. “Yeah, I guess so.”

The truth is, he never really asked Taehyung about that. In Jeongguk’s mind, every time Taehyung referred to drag, he categorized it solely as Taehyung’s profession. He didn’t consider the possibility that it was something he really was passionate about, something that made him happy. Suddenly, all the sacrifices that Taehyung seemingly makes—ballet classes, working through the night—start to make more sense in Jeongguk’s head. He would do the same for ballet. Yoongi would do the same for music. Hoseok would do the same for dancing.

It puts things into perspective, though. Of course, as his own person, Taehyung has his passions. He has his dreams, his fears, his likes and his dislikes—so much that Jeongguk doesn’t know about, just like Taehyung doesn’t know these things about Jeongguk. The truth is that Jeongguk never wondered what Taehyung’s favorite food is, or what keeps him up when he’s in bed at night, but a part of him wonders now.

There’s so much to Taehyung that Jeongguk doesn’t know, and that just feeds the curiosity that Jeongguk already felt in regards to him. Jeongguk isn’t one to ask about these things, but he’s starting to think that maybe he should.

He’s going to. He needs to muster up some courage before doing so, but he’s going to.

 

 

On Monday, Jeongguk gets caught up in the dance school up until quarter to five in the evening. He hates being late so much, so he basically runs all the way from the school to the community center, taking his sports bag with him. He’s still a few minutes late by the time he gets to the studio, panting as he opens the door. Taehyung is sitting there, cross-legged and typing away on his phone.

“I’m so sorry,” Jeongguk says as soon as he gets inside the room. He didn’t notice how cold it is outside, since he came here running, but now that he’s inside a warm studio he feels too hot. “Fuck, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be late, I got caught up at the school.”

“You don’t need to be sorry, it was just a couple of minutes. At some point I had to be the first to arrive,” Taehyung tells him, giving him a smile. Jeongguk wipes his sweat off his forehead with the sleeve of his sweatshirt. “At the school?”

“Seoul Art Academy,” Jeongguk replies, dismissive. “It’s, like, twenty-five minutes away, so I had to come running here. But with all the people on the street and all the stupid traffic lights I still didn’t make it on time.”

“Jeongguk, it’s seriously fine,” Taehyung replies, standing up. “Seoul Art Academy? Do you study there?”

The question catches Jeongguk off guard, leaving him open mouthed and not knowing what to say. Does he study there? Definitely not. He doesn’t want to lie to Taehyung, but he doesn’t want to go into detail about his failure. For some reason, he doesn’t want Taehyung to know that he’s the loser who cleans the studio, when all he wishes is that he could be one of the people who gets to attend the school.

It’s not something he likes telling people overall, but just the thought of Taehyung knowing makes him feel ashamed. Taehyung probably wouldn’t want him to keep teaching him, if he knew that he’s just a loser who cleans hallways. It makes his cheeks burn bright red in embarrassment.

The lie slips between his lips before Jeongguk realizes that he’s saying it. “Yeah, I do,” he replies. Upon realizing what he’s done, he starts to panic. God, why did he do that? Now he’s going to need to keep the lie going. He clenches his jaw, trying to think. Taking a few steps back, he says, “I’m gonna go get changed in the locker rooms. I’ll be right back, yeah?”

“Sure! I’ll be waiting,” Taehyung replies, nodding.

Jeongguk quickly gets out of there, slipping inside the locker rooms and making sure he’s alone. He can’t help but feel like he has just fucked up grandly. He’s going to need to keep the lie going now, and if Taehyung finds out, he’s probably going to hate him. Why wouldn’t he? What guy randomly lies about his occupation like that?

He doesn’t know whether Taehyung and he will end up becoming friends, but so far, that’s the path that things seem to be going down. He feels drawn to Taehyung, so he wanted to get closer to him eventually. But when Taehyung finds out the truth and finds out that he not only lied to him but also doesn’t really have any kind of further education surrounding ballet, he’s going to think he’s a scammer.

Jeongguk rests his head back against the wall and lets himself slide down slowly, until he’s sitting with his head between his knees. God, the fucking mess he’s just gotten himself into.

 

 

Unsurprisingly enough, Taehyung effortlessly becomes an easy part of Jeongguk’s routine. He eases himself into Jeongguk’s life as if he always had been there, taking lessons, and after a couple of weeks, Jeongguk begins to consider him to be closer to a friend than to a stranger.

Classes go well, of course. Jeongguk doesn’t arrive late anymore, and Taehyung is always on time, always bringing his huge scarves and cozy coats with him. Jeongguk thought it’d take longer for his body to adjust to one extra job, but by this point he doesn’t feel overly tired anymore.

It’s on a cold and windy Thursday evening, when seven in the evening strikes and class is over, that Taehyung suggests it. Jeongguk is reaching for his bag when Taehyung, who isn’t moving, says, “Do you want to grab a coffee?”

Jeongguk’s lips part in surprise, as he didn’t see the suggestion coming at all. It takes him a couple of seconds to react, and when he does, it’s just to repeat, “A coffee?”

“A coffee,” Taehyung says, with a nod. “I mean, I would have suggested an ice-cream, but… The weather doesn’t really feel fitting, does it?”

Jeongguk smiles a little. His eyes flicker to the clock on the wall. It’s roughly seven, and he doesn’t have to go to work until half past nine. He has plenty of time to go get that coffee.

“That sounds lovely,” Jeongguk replies. Taehyung’s smile, ever present, widens a little. “Should we go, then? I don’t think we’re sweaty enough for it to be socially unacceptable.”

Taehyung laughs at that, throwing his head back a little. “Please, we’re barely even sweaty,” Taehyung comments. After their lessons Jeongguk showers out of habit, also because most days he stays to practice on his own right after, but the truth is that they’re not doing anything too extreme as of now. It’s just that the studio is literally a sauna. “If anything, what’s scandalous is the leggings. You’re not gonna go out in tights and a leotard, are you?”

Taehyung raises an eyebrow at him, and Jeongguk blushes a little. “No!” he replies, quickly. “I’m gonna get changed. Wait for me?”

“Of course I will,” Taehyung replies.

Loyal to his word, Taehyung waits for him in the hallway, right outside the locker room. Jeongguk is ready in a couple of minutes, and after that, they both start walking towards the coffee shop right by the community center. It’s seven on an early December day, so by the time they get out, the sky is dark already.

“I feel like it’s gonna rain,” Taehyung announces, looking up to the sky with a little frown. Jeongguk can’t help but find the pout endearing. He quickly dismisses the thought, rubbing his hands together and saying, “Let’s go. I’m craving a hot drink so badly, God.”

It turns out, when Taehyung said coffee what he really meant was sickeningly sweet hot chocolate with a couple of marshmallows, please as he asks the waiter that comes to take their order. Jeongguk can’t help but give Taehyung a teasing, crooked smile, but Taehyung’s order makes a need awaken inside of him, and he ends up asking for the same.

“I didn’t know you had such a sweet tooth,” Taehyung comments once they’re both alone, the waiter gone to get their drinks ready.

Jeongguk shrugs. “I like my chocolate. But it was your idea, either way,” he replies. “You’ve corrupted me.”

“Please, I’m an angel,” Taehyung replies, feigning offence. Jeongguk arches an eyebrow, skeptic. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“I seriously doubt you’re an angel,” Jeongguk replies. Taehyung gasps. “You look like the type to corrupt. “

“I’m feeling attacked. Stop this, please,” Taehyung replies, a big smile plastered all over his face. “And be nice to me.”

“I’m very nice,” Jeongguk tells him.

Taehyung narrows his eyes at him. “I have yet to decide that,” he replies.

It’s then that a thought crosses Jeongguk’s mind—he’s been meaning to ask Taehyung more personal questions in order to get to know him better ever since that night at Hoseok’s, when he had his epiphany. But ever since, he was never able to find the right moment: asking during class would be weird, during warm ups they really wouldn’t have enough time, and as for after, Jeongguk always had the idea that Taehyung had places to be after their lessons. But now… now seems like pretty much the perfect moment to ask. They’re both waiting for their drinks to be served, and it seems as if they’re going to be here for a while. It’s perfect for getting to know each other.

He waits until they bring them their drinks, just to make sure they won’t be interrupted during this. After that, he finally asks.

“There is something I wanted to ask you,” he forces himself to say, before he can regret this burst of bravery. Taehyung looks at him, curious. “How did you get into drag?”

Taehyung’s face splits into a big smile almost in slow motion. Jeongguk makes sure not to tear his eyes away for a minute, watching as Taehyung’s lips part and reveal all of his teeth. He asks, “Do you really care or is this just small talk? Because the story varies depending on what option you choose.”

“I think I’m gonna go with I care, yeah,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung smiles a little bigger, boxier. Cute.

“Okay, so—my first contact with drag was when I was in elementary school,” Taehyung starts telling, resting one of his cheeks on the palm of his hand. “Oddly enough, for some reason my school decided to organize a drag competition, and I’ve always been that annoying kid that signs up for everything. So I took part in the competition, and I absolutely loved it.”

“Did you win?” Jeongguk asks, his own mouth curling into a smile. He can’t deny that the image of little, baby Taehyung all in drag is rather endearing.

“It was elementary school and my school tried to avoid crying kids at all costs, so we just had to pass a certain mark or some shit like that,” Taehyung replies, amused. “And, of course, everyone passed. But it was really fun, and my parents liked how happy I was, so after that whenever I asked my mom to play dress up in her closet she would always allow me to,” Taehyung recalls with a smile.

“That’s very sweet of her,” Jeongguk says, smiling a little. He’s glad Taehyung’s mother supported him in that sense.

“She’s very sweet,” Taehyung points out. “So, a few years go by and I finally get access to the internet, and that’s when I properly develop an interest in drag and its culture. At first it was just the visuals and the entertaining aspect of it which caught my attention, because I thought it was crazy. I was starting to meddle with makeup and stuff by then, but it looked like shit. And then, as I grew older, I started to learn about so many other aspects of it—the art behind it all, but also the political message that it comes with, and before I knew it, it had turned from an interest into a passion.”

“And when did you start doing it, then?”

“I properly started doing drag when I was sixteen, I would say,” Taehyung recalls, squinting his eyes as if he were trying to remember. “That’s when I started learning how to sew, or how to properly do makeup. As soon as I turned of age I found a club to perform in, and that’s where I’ve been working ever since.”

“And do you like doing it?” Jeongguk asks. Something about listening Taehyung talk about drag and how passionate he is about it ignites a flame inside of his chest, making him somehow happy.

“I love doing it,” Taehyung replies. “Despite the insane amount of work it takes, the shitty schedules and the little income that barely covers my needs. I love doing it, and it makes me happy to be able to dedicate myself professionally to it. It just—it means the world to me.”

Jeongguk smiles, feeling like Taehyung’s enthusiasm like talking about this topic is contagious. “You need to show me at some point what you look like while in drag,” Jeongguk says. This is something else that he has been thinking, but he didn’t quite know how to ask. He hopes he didn’t sound rude, or too eager.

Taehyung smiles at him, almost deviously. “I don’t think you’re quite ready for that just yet,” he says, wiggling his eyebrows.

Jeongguk can’t help but feel a little disappointed, as it looks like Taehyung is actually serious. “Why?” he asks, aware that he’s sounding almost like a petulant child. He doesn’t want to be pushy, so he’s not going to ask again if he’s been told no, but he wants to at least know why.

“Just not yet,” Taehyung replies. “I’m still polishing up my act.”

Jeongguk nods, understanding. He, of course, is going to respect Taehyung’s wishes. “Can you at least tell me what it looks like? Since there are many different styles, you know…”

The truth is, Jeongguk never was too interested in drag queens or drag queen culture. Despite knowing of their existence, he never worried himself to learn about it, and the only image he had in his head about drag queen aesthetic has little to do with what he found on Google images after a quick search the other day.

“That I can do,” Taehyung replies, with a nod. “I stick mainly to two looks. Most of the time I use this… bubblegum aesthetic, as I like to call it. Pastel colors for clothes and makeup, and usually pink or lilac wigs—sometimes blonde, but just fair colors. They make my skin pop, you know.”

Jeongguk can’t help but crack a smile at that. “Sounds cute,” he says. He makes a mental note to look up pastel drag queen later on, just so he can get an approximate idea of what to imagine. “And what about the other look?”

“I would say it’s more burlesque inspired,” Taehyung says then. Jeongguk can’t help but raise an eyebrow, intrigued. “So lots of red lipstick, corsets, dramatic eye makeup and stockings. And nipple tassels! Nipple tassels are fun. Also, a little bit of cheekiness and a flirtatious persona to be able to pull all of it off.”

Jeongguk bites down on his lips, images of Taehyung in all those things popping into his head. He’s familiar enough with the concept of burlesque and cabarets, in the sense that he has a reference he can think of when this kind of aesthetic is being mentioned. It makes his cheeks get a little warm, to think of Taehyung in the corsets, the stockings, the nipple tassels… He swallows down.

“I see,” he says. Fortunately for him, his voice sounds pretty normal. Not like a croak, as he was fearing. “Do you change a lot after putting your make up on?”

Taehyung’s face breaks into a smile then, almost a tender one. As if he was endeared by Jeongguk and his lack of knowledge about this whole thing.

“I do change a lot, yeah,” Taehyung says, nodding a little. “I have to contour my nose and cheeks a lot, and also my jawline. And then I also redraw my eyebrows. It’s quite the change.”

“Wait, redraw your eyebrows how?” Jeongguk asks, confused. He’s confused as to how to draw over… eyebrows. Their hair, after all.

Again, that expression on Taehyung’s face. The one that makes Jeongguk feel naïve like he’s missing something, which he really is. If it was anyone else, Jeongguk is sure he’d be offended of being looked at like that. He doesn’t quite know why Taehyung gets a free pass, but the thing is that he doesn’t even feel slightly irritated.

“I hide my natural eyebrows,” Taehyung replies. “A lot of my coworkers straight up shave half of them off and just fill them in with powder on their days off, but my eyebrows are way too good for that kind of treatment,” Taehyung comments.

Jeongguk agrees. Taehyung’s eyebrows are sharp and bold, and whenever he holds his hair back during class, Jeongguk can’t help but stare for a couple of seconds. He looks good, okay?

“Hide them how?” Jeongguk asks, curious.

“With glue.”

Jeongguk frowns. Taehyung doesn’t look like he’s kidding, so Jeongguk repeats, “With glue?”

“With glue and concealer, yes,” Taehyung says, nodding. He smiles a little. “Do you not believe me?”

“I’m just gonna need to watch a YouTube video about that tonight when I get home to believe it,” Jeongguk says, blinking a little in shock. Taehyung giggles. “White glue?”

Taehyung shakes his head, negatively. “Just a glue stick, like the ones we used in school. You first cover your eyebrows with glue and then cover them with powder and foundation so it looks just like skin. After that I just redraw them, but this time a little higher.”

“And why do you do that?” Jeongguk asks, mouth hanging open a little bit. He never knew glue stick was something used for cosmetic purposes, God.

“I usually like to arch my eyebrows a little bit more for drag,” Taehyung replies. “But if I’m lazy I’ll just use my natural eyebrows, or part of them. It depends on my mood.”

Jeongguk nods, still amazed. It’s so impressive to him that a glue stick and some foundation is enough to cover your eyebrows like that. He’s even tempted to pick up some glue on his way to the school, just so he can try to find a tutorial and imitate it once he’s back home.

“It sounds cool,” he admits out loud. “I think I’m gonna look up some videos when I’m back home, yeah.”

Taehyung smiles at that. “I’ll show you how I do mine sometime. Not that it’s going to be any different from what anyone else does, but…”

“I wanna see,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung looks at him with a small grin, and so he makes sure to add, “Only if you want, of course. And whenever you want.”

They stay together at the café for an hour and a half, time that they spend exclusively talking about Taehyung and his drag. He tells Jeongguk about some funny anecdotes with false lashes, and about how he’s so embarrassed every time he looks back at how he used to do his makeup when he first started.

It’s Jeongguk who looks at the time on his phone and announces he has somewhere to be, interrupting their conversation. For a fleeting moment he thinks he sees something akin to disappointment in Taehyung’s expression, but that can’t be. Especially because Taehyung adds, “Yeah, I should probably get going now, too. I have work tonight.”

Each of them pays for their drinks and they walk to the outside. Jeongguk is the first one to step out of the store, and therefore, the first one to feel the raindrops falling over him.

“You were right,” he announces, looking at the sky. If he focuses on the street lights, he can see the raindrops falling from the sky. “It’s raining.”

“Oh, crap!” Taehyung exclaims, looking up himself. “Really? I didn’t bring an umbrella with me, shit.”

Jeongguk watches as Taehyung presses his lips into a thin, annoyed line, at the same time he frowns. It’s then that he remembers that there, in his bag, is a small umbrella.

“I have one if you want it,” Jeongguk tells him.

“But you’re going to need it to,” Taehyung replies. “You need to walk as well.”

Jeongguk shrugs his shoulders. “I have a hoodie and you don’t,” he replies. “And I don’t mind walking in the rain, which you clearly do.”

For the first time since he’s known him, and despite the shitty lightning in the street, Jeongguk sees Taehyung’s cheeks heat up in a light, pretty blush.

Cute.

“I will live,” Taehyung replies, but Jeongguk is already reaching for his bag.

“Please,” Jeongguk insists, unzipping it and digging around for the umbrella. “It’s not raining too bad, and I don’t mind walking like this. Take it?”

He gives the umbrella to Taehyung, who looks at it hesitantly for a few seconds. He sighs, then, and reaches for it. “Fine,” Taehyung says. “But I’ll bring it back to you tomorrow, I promise.”

“No rush,” Jeongguk says, dismissing it with a wave of his hand. “I need to go now. I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

“See you tomorrow, yeah,” Taehyung says, opening the umbrella. “And… thank you so much. This is very kind of you.”

“Just basic manners,” Jeongguk replies, giving Taehyung his most charming smile. “Come on, get home now.”

“Shush, shush,” Taehyung says, stepping out from under the little roof that covers them. “See you in class tomorrow, Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk says his farewells, watching Taehyung walk away under Jeongguk’s tiny, black umbrella. He doesn’t notice he’s staring without moving until Taehyung disappears behind the corner, out of sight.

Jeongguk sighs. He’s had a good time today, but unfortunately that is over now, and he has to get to work. He checks the time on his phone one last time before locking it and shoving it in his pocket, right before pulling his hood up and starting to make his way to the school.

 

 

Jeongguk’s Tuesday starts on a positive note when he wakes up and sees a couple of texts from Taehyung, sent a couple of hours ago.

performed my first complete set in heels tonight! no trips or falls whatsoever

all thanks to you, mr teacher~

can’t wait for class tomorrow (today hehe)

 

Jeongguk can’t help but smile, running a hand through his messy bedhead.

My pleasure! Give it a month, and you will never want to use platforms again. I’ll see you later in class. :)

He types a fast reply and presses send, not letting himself obsess over whether the smiley face was too much or not. It’s way too early and he needs to get started with his day, so no wistfully staring at his phone.

Despite that, there is something he can’t deny. And that is, that Taehyung saying he’s looking forward to seeing him today has made him very, very happy.

 

 

It’s a couple of weeks after Jeongguk and Taehyung went out to grab a drink together, and although it hasn’t happened again, these days both of them stay for a little while longer after class, talking. It’s during one of those conversations, as Taehyung is tying the shoelaces of his combat boots, that he asks a question that has color draining from Jeongguk’s face.

“I was thinking about something the other day,” Taehyung comments, working the shoelaces between his long, slender fingers. “Aren’t those dancing schools crazy with schedules? How do you even have the time to teach me three times a week? I don’t want to be taking time from your studies, Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk freezes as soon as he hears the words come from Taehyung’s mouth, a tight knot appearing in his throat. He forces himself to look at Taehyung, which makes him feel even worse. Taehyung looks genuinely concerned that he’s been taking away time from Jeongguk’s day, and that makes Jeongguk feel even worse for lying to him. He knew this moment would come eventually, when the lie would start to slowly fall apart, but…

The closer he’s been getting to Taehyung, the easier it was for him to forget that he had lied to him about his place at the school. Taehyung asked him questions about ballet, but never something directly related to the school. For a moment there Jeongguk is frozen on the spot, not knowing what to say.

He’s never been good with lies. Especially not in moments like these, that require him to think quickly and come up with a good lie on the spot. The longer he takes to reply, the more obvious it will be to Taehyung that he’s lying to him. He doesn’t want Taehyung to get angry at him, not now that they’re slowly becoming friends.

Jeongguk panics. And in the midst of his panic, he has an outburst of honesty.

“Look, Taehyung, I…” he starts. He doesn’t know a way out of this other than just telling Taehyung, no matter how ashamed he is. He can’t bring himself to look at Taehyung in the eye as he adds, “I need to—I need to tell you something.”

“Oh,” Taehyung says. Concern shows again in his voice, and it keeps making Jeongguk feel like shit for lying to him. “What is it? Is it bad?” Jeongguk doesn’t even have the time to reply before Taehyung adds, “I understand if you don’t have the time to teach me anymore, Jeongguk. That’s why my friend who used to dance ballet doesn’t really have the time to teach me—because he’s busy with college. I’m not going to be angry.”

“No, no, it’s not that,” Jeongguk rushes to say. The most he dares is looking at Taehyung’s fingers, that are still on his shoes. “It’s just… I’ve lied to you about something.”

There is a moment of silence. It’s not longer than a few seconds long, but it seems never-ending to Jeongguk.

“Lied to me about what?” Taehyung asks, sounding deeply confused.

Jeongguk takes a deep breath. “I’m not a student at the school,” he blurts out. “I work there. As a cleaner.”

“Oh,” is all Taehyung says. He doesn’t sound mad, which encourages Jeongguk to steal a look at him. Taehyung’s eyes are on him, and he looks… shocked, to say the least. “But you do dance ballet.”

“I do,” Jeongguk replies. “And everything else I’ve told you about learning since I was twelve, and all that is true. But…”

He cuts himself short, not knowing how to carry on. Taehyung encourages him, asking, “But?”

“My grandmother is the one who paid for my ballet classes, and who helped me find a school and all that. My parents just signed the authorization papers and never came to a recital or anything, since they were busy and grandma was already coming,” Jeongguk replies. “Grandma and I told them that I was doing urban, but one day when I was sixteen someone sent my mom the pictures that the school had posted on Facebook from one of our recitals, so they found out that I was doing ballet and not hip-hop.”

“And they didn’t like it, I assume,” Taehyung replies, tilting his head to the right.

Jeongguk nods. “Yeah, they really didn’t.” He sighs. “They pulled me out of the school and… Things turned out really shitty after that. I don’t really have a good relationship with either of them right now, and both of them refuse to pay for my college. Well—my dad. They split up right before I finished high school, and my mom doesn’t have a lot of money anymore.”

“Oh, Jeonggukie,” Taehyung says. He sounds… sympathetic? He doesn’t sound mad at all, which shocks Jeongguk. On the contrary—he sounds like he feels bad after listening to his story. “Come here. I want to give you a hug.”

Jeongguk doesn’t have time to respond before Taehyung is crawling on the floor to where he is, pulling him into a big, tight hug. Jeongguk is a little shocked, but Taehyung’s tight embrace around his shoulders feels nice, and so he returns it by putting his arms around Taehyung’s middle, both sitting side by side on the studio floor.

“I’m sorry I lied to you,” Jeongguk says. It’s easier to talk now that Taehyung can’t see his face. “I didn’t want to tell you I’m a cleaner so you didn’t think I wasn’t qualified enough to teach you. I might not have finished at the dance school I went to, but I know enough to teach beginners.”

“I know you do,” Taehyung replies, his chest vibrating against Jeongguk’s as he speaks. “It doesn’t matter to me, okay? You’re forgiven. I’m not mad at you, and I understand why you were scared of telling the truth. But what I know now doesn’t change what I think about you—you’re an excellent teacher, Jeongguk. And I’m glad it’s you who’s giving me these lessons.”

Taehyung’s words made something warm and soft blossom in Jeongguk’s chest, the knot in his throat loosening by the second. He can’t help but wrinkle Taehyung’s top in his hands a little, feeling grateful that Taehyung is so understanding about the whole situation.

“I’m still sorry,” Jeongguk replies, as Taehyung begins to pull away from the hug. “I shouldn’t have lied, but I panicked and didn’t know what to do. When you asked whether I was a student at the school… I didn’t want you to cancel, or to think lowly of me because I’m a cleaner.”

“Being a cleaner is just as worthy as being a student there, or a teacher, or a doctor,” Taehyung replies, telling Jeongguk what he already knows. “I don’t care what you do for a living, silly. What I do care about is who you are as a person, and you’ve shown to me that you’re good. That’s all I see, not what your income is or anything like that.”

“I know, I know,” Jeongguk says, now feeling a little embarrassed that he thought Taehyung would care about that. “Thank you for being understanding.”

“And thank you for being honest about it and opening up before it turned into a bigger lie,” Taehyung replies. Then, in a joking tone, he adds, “I can’t believe you thought I would care if you were a cleaner or not.”

“Listen! In my brain you would think I had no idea of ballet whatsoever, and was pretending to know just because I mopped their sweaty floors,” Jeongguk replies, making Taehyung laugh loudly. “I’m a dramatic person.”

“I can see that,” Taehyung says. Jeongguk punches his thigh, softly. “And now you’re injuring me? After I’ve given you my sweet, comforting words? Unbelievable.”

Jeongguk rolls his eyes at the same time Taehyung scoffs. “You’re terrible,” he says, again making Taehyung burst into giggles.

“But you adore me,” Taehyung replies, giving Jeongguk a tight-lipped smile before he gets back to his feet.

Taehyung didn’t wait for a response, and Jeongguk gives none. But as they both get their coats on and get ready to face the cold of Seoul, there’s just one thought on Jeongguk’s mind, in regard to the last thing Taehyung said—he’s more in the right than he thinks.

 

 

Jeongguk has always taken pride in being one of those people who is honest to their friends, instead of masking reality with sweet words. That doesn’t mean he’s cruel (or, at least, he doesn’t think he is), but he considers it to be better to be honest when the situation requires him to be, instead of being all full of compliments that don’t really… well, adjust to reality.

Which is why, after not being able to focus on anything else during the last twenty minutes that he’s been in Yoongi’s presence, he observes, “Your hair is fried.”

He’s seen Yoongi as a blond before, when he went platinum for a while. He has also seen him with blue, green, gray and practically every color imaginable. And all those times, his hair looked average—maybe a little drier than usual, but that’s normal with hair dye. But this? Now, this isn’t good. And in case Yoongi didn’t know, Jeongguk makes it his duty to tell him.

“Oh, yeah—that,” Yoongi replies, dismissive. “I fucked up with the hair bleach the other day. I think I’m gonna go bald.”

“Why in the hell were you bleaching your own hair?” replies Jeongguk, alarmed. He’s never had his hair any color that isn’t black, but he has seen enough Hairdresser Reacts To Bleach Fails videos on YouTube to know that it’s never, ever a good idea.

“Because hair salons are expensive,” Yoongi replies, taking another slice of pizza and bringing it to his mouth. “I was trying to go pink, but now I think I need my hair to recover before dyeing it if I don’t want to completely kill it. It’s super thin, and elastic—wanna feel it?”

Jeongguk brings his hand to Yoongi’s hair, catching one thin strand and stretching it between his fingers. It’s elastic and stretches like a rubber band would, which makes Jeongguk frown, but at the same time he can’t stop looking. “So you’re going for pink now? How come?”

“I was just feeling it,” Yoongi replies, shrugging his shoulders.

“Taehyung wears pink wigs sometimes, like when he’s in drag,” Jeongguk comments, then. “He has a pastel aesthetic.”

“Very interesting,” Yoongi replies. Jeongguk hums in agreement. “This is, like, the fourth time you’ve mentioned Taehyung since you got here.”

Jeongguk’s frown deepens. “That’s not true,” he replies. Four times is a lot of times.

“It actually is true,” Yoongi replies, turning around a little to look at Jeongguk. Jeongguk, on the other hand, pretends not to notice and keeps playing with his hair. “I thought we were here to talk about the crisis that is your life.”

“My life isn’t currently in a crisis,” Jeongguk replies. “I’m back to mildly unhappy, with unfulfilled dreams and cleaning floors as I rot with jealousy inside.”

“That sounds a lot like a crisis,” Yoongi says. Jeongguk doesn’t say anything in response. “So… Taehyung.”

“What about Taehyung?” Jeongguk asks, still not looking at Yoongi.

“You guys seem to be getting closer these days,” Yoongi observes.

“Aw, Yoongs,” Jeongguk says then. “Is that what this is about? Are you jealous of Taehyung? You needn’t worry—you’re my best friend forever, you know. BFF.”

“You’re such a stupid ass,” replies Yoongi, punching Jeongguk’s leg. Jeongguk snorts. “That’s not what I meant. I just was pointing out that you seem to be becoming friends. And I was gonna say that I’m happy about it. I worry about you getting lonely sometimes.”

“I’m not lonely,” Jeongguk retorts. Yoongi rolls his eyes. “But yeah, I’d say we’re… friends, more or less. We spend six hours a week together. I’d say that borders on friend territory. It’s a decent amount of time.”

“Very decent, indeed,” Yoongi agrees. “You’re gonna have to introduce him to us if you do become friends.”

“Oh my God—do you want me to hook you up with Taehyung?” Jeongguk asks in horror, finally turning to look at Yoongi. “You could have started from there.”

“I don’t even know how you came to that conclusion,” Yoongi replies, his voice going up in imitation of Jeongguk’s. “I just meant it in a friendly way!”

“I’m sure you did,” Jeongguk says, crossing his arms over his chest. “You need to stop fucking my friends, Mr. Yoongi.”

“You’re fucking insufferable.”

“And you’re a friend fucker,” Jeongguk replies. At this point, he’s just taking the piss, but it’s fun to see Yoongi cross his arms and huff in frustration. “I might consider introducing you two if you promise to make a chastity vow in regards to him.”

“I hate you,” Yoongi replies, looking ahead of himself and aggressively biting down on his pizza. Jeongguk cracks up.

“Tell me you love me,” he asks. Yoongi doesn’t say anything. “Yoongi hyuuuung. Please, tell me you love me.”

Jeongguk knows that Yoongi doesn’t buy his act, especially because there is a big, big grin on his face. Still, Yoongi gives in and says, “I love you. Now please, stop being a pain in my ass. I’m treating you to pizza on Christmas day.”

Jeongguk smiles, satisfied. “Thanks, hyung,” he replies, sitting happily with a wide smile on his face. “You’re the best.”

 

 

Jeongguk always assumed that the question that would make him the happiest in life would be a marriage proposal, be it him or his partner asking—as long as the answer was a yes. But, as he discovers two weeks after Christmas, right after the New Year, there are other seemingly small questions that can make a man’s heart burst with happiness. Taehyung is the one to show him that.

“Hey, Jeongguk,” he asks once after class, as he undoes the tiny ponytail he had put his hair in, placed on top of his head. “Do you want to come to one of my shows tomorrow night?”

Jeongguk needs to give himself a second to listen to the question, trying to figure out if he’s heard right. Taehyung is offering him the chance to come see him at one of his shows?

“Do you mean it?” Jeongguk asks. “Because if you don’t mean it and are just pulling a prank on me, I’m gonna be so sad when you tell me,” he replies.

Taehyung laughs at that, and it sounds almost musical. “I mean it. I think it’s time you see my drag at last, and I want your first impression to be in person. No overly good nor overly bad pictures,” Taehyung tells him.

Jeongguk claps his hands together, in excitement. “Oh my God, yes,” he replies. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for two months. Of course I want to go.”

Taehyung smiles at that, wide and boxy. “That’s good. I can send you the performance time and the address of the club through text, then.”

Jeongguk nods, enthusiastically, but only then does it dawn on him that he’s going to have to go to a club. A club. A crowded club full of people he doesn’t know, because naturally, Taehyung won’t be able to be there keeping him company. He will be performing on stage.

He gives himself a moment to panic, as usually when he finds himself in a situation like this, he always makes sure to have Hoseok with him. Hoseok handles social situations far better than he does, and his presence makes Jeongguk feel safe and comfortable no matter the setting. If he’s not going to be able to spend that time with Taehyung, since he’ll be working, then…

“Can I bring a friend?” Jeongguk asks. “So I don’t have to be alone.”

The question seems to catch Taehyung off guard, but he quickly composes himself and replies, “Yeah, of course. Everyone is welcome.”

“Great,” Jeongguk says, smiling wide. “I’m looking forward, then. Make sure to wear heels for me so I can judge how good you’ve gotten at it.”

Taehyung laughs, cheerfully. “Oh, don’t worry. I’ll make sure I do,” he says. “I’ll text you the details when I get home, then.”

Jeongguk nods, happily. It’s crazy to think about it, since the last two months have gone by in a blur, but he’s known Taehyung for quite a while now. It feels like forever ago that Taehyung told him about his drag, starting a curiosity in him that will finally be sated tomorrow.

Tomorrow, on Friday. Jeongguk can’t help but smile. In all honesty, he can’t wait.

Chapter Text

chaînés — a series of traveling turns.

“You seriously need to stop looking at yourself in every single reflection we walk by,” Hoseok comments as Jeongguk and he make their way to the club.

Jeongguk feels his ears get warm, feeling called out. He’d be lying if he said he hasn’t put some care into his appearance for tonight, something he doesn’t do most days. But today is different. He’s going out during the night, to a club. It’s not the same as making his way from home to work, then to the community center, back to the work and then home again. If he doesn’t dress up for extraordinary occasions like today, when will he?

Still, he refuses to admit out loud that he’s been checking the state of his hair in every single glass reflection or window they’ve come across. Nope.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he says, playing dumb. Hoseok raises an eyebrow at him, but Jeongguk ignores it. “How much to go?”

Jeongguk isn’t familiar with this part of town, since he’s not a big party goer. Hoseok, on the other hand, knows his way around Seoul’s night scene. The gay night scene would be no exception, of course. So despite having never actually been to this club that Taehyung works in, Hoseok recalls having seen it before.

“Not much now,” Hoseok tells him. Jeongguk nods, pleased—they’re just in time. “Are you nervous?”

Jeongguk frowns a little. “Why would I be nervous?” he asks.

See, the thing is that a part of him tries to act calm, saying it’s just Taehyung. Deep down, Jeongguk knows that… it’s not just Taehyung. It’s Taehyung, yeah, but it’s also a chance to see him in his element, doing what he’s most passionate about, what he spends so much of his time and effort on. Jeongguk, who also has one passion that he holds very close to his heart, knows that this is important.

In addition to that, there is also the fact that they’ll be meeting up with the infamous Jimin. He feels like he’s heard Taehyung talk so much about his best friend in the last two months that it’s almost as if Jeongguk already knew him, except he doesn’t even know what he looks like. He has the vague describers that Taehyung used—blonde, shorter than both of them, pretty. Those are all very ambiguous, but according to what Taehyung told him, Jimin would be able to spot them without any problem. Jeongguk doesn’t even want to know how.

Just as Hoseok said, it doesn’t take them much longer to get to the club. It’s busy on the streets here, even if Jeongguk assumed not a lot of people would be going out in such cold weather. There are a few people crowded near the entry—some are smoking, some are talking in groups.

There’s also a couple of drag queens outside the front of the club, intimidatingly tall with their high heels and vibrant wigs. He tries not to stare, not wanting to be rude—he’s not even sure what one is supposed to do in these situations; he wants to be as polite and respectful as possible, but he’s also curious.

Taehyung told him to wait by the door for Jimin to come and find them, so that’s what they do. Not even a couple of minutes go by before a guy approaches them, smiling at Jeongguk as he approaches. One glance is enough for Jeongguk to know that this is indeed Jimin. The kind grin on his face matches the few stories that he’s heard from Taehyung.

“Hey, you’re Jeongguk, right?” he asks once he’s approached them, tilting his head to look at Jeongguk.

Hoseok, who had his back turned to him, moves a little and looks at Jimin as Jeongguk replies, “That’s me, yeah. It’s nice to meet you,” he says, introducing himself. “And this is Hoseok. He’s a friend of mine.”

“Nice to meet you too, Jeongguk and Hoseok,” Jimin tells, eyes travelling from Jeongguk to Hoseok. “I hope you haven’t been waiting for long.”

“Just a couple of minutes,” Hoseok replies. “It’s pretty crowded here, huh?”

“It gets busy on the weekends,” he replies, accompanied by a smile. His eyes shift to Jeongguk’s again as he says, “Taehyung is almost ready to perform so we should probably get in and grab a seat.”

Jeongguk nods, and so the three of them start walking towards the entrance of the club. When they’re by the door, Jimin warmly greets the bouncer—a guy a bit taller than Jeongguk himself is, who despite being tall and broad enough loses all of his intimidating qualities as he smiles back at Jimin, dimples appearing in his cheeks.

“Hey there, Joonie,” Jimin says, giving the guy a friendly pat on the arm. “How has your night been?”

“Eh, the usual,” the guy replies, smiling. “You here to see Tae?”

From the use of a nickname, Jeongguk assumes that Taehyung and this Joonie guy must be somewhat close. Not that it matters to him who Taehyung is friends with or not.

“I am, yeah. This is Taehyung’s ballet teacher, Jeongguk, and a friend of his, Hoseok,” Jimin introduces them, gesturing towards each of them. “Has Taehyung told you about the ballet lessons?”

“Only about a million times,” Namjoon replies, chuckling softly. His eyes shift towards Jeongguk first and Hoseok second, at the same time he says, “My name is Namjoon.”

Both of them mumble nice to meet you, and after paying for their tickets and a bit more of small talk between Namjoon and Jimin, the three of them finally get into the club. Jeongguk didn’t really know what he was expecting—he knew for a fact that it wouldn’t be the kind of club he’s used to, that consist mostly of a huge dance floor and some bar areas scattered around.

The club isn’t terribly big, but it’s… quite decently sized, Jeongguk would say. More intimate, he guesses. The bar area as well as a pool table and a little dance floor are right by the entry. At the far end of the club, away from the door, there is a small stage. A tacky, big disco ball hangs near the stage, that has a short catwalk that ventures into the crowd. It’s obvious there are live performances going on tonight, as chairs have been placed in front of the stage, in what Jeongguk assumes would in regular nights serve as another dance floor. Other than that, there is not much to say about the club, other than the fact that some couches and high tables with stools are scattered around the area.

To Jeongguk, it resembles more of the live music bars he’s been to than a proper nightclub. There’s no denying it’s a humble place, both judging by the decoration and the size of the bar itself. It’s packed, though—they make their way through the crowd of dancers until they get to seats placed in front of the stage.

They take three free spots near the very front of the stage. It’s then, after both Hoseok and Jeongguk have sat down, that Jimin asks, “Do you guys want a drink?”

“A beer would be nice,” Jeongguk replies. Whenever he’s at a club, no matter the kind, he likes the security that having a drink in his hand gives him. It makes him feel like he’s a cool guy, even if in reality he’s actually far from it. Very, very far.

“Noted,” Jimin says, with a sharp nod. He looks at Hoseok and asks, “And for you?”

“Yeah, a beer as well,” Hoseok agrees. Jimin nods again, and is about to leave when Hoseok adds, “Do you want some help bringing the drinks back?”

Jimin half-smiles, one of the corners of his mouth tilting up almost lazily. “I’ll be fine, don’t worry,” he replies, and then he’s turning around and walking in the direction of the bar.

Hoseok sits back down when Jimin is gone, turning around a little to look at Jeongguk. “He’s nice,” he comments, nonchalantly.

“He is, yeah,” Jeongguk agrees, lazily. “I’m glad he is, though. I was worried tonight would be full of lots of awkward silences.”

“That’s why you’ve got me here with you,” Hoseok replies, getting a little closer to Jeongguk and sliding an arm around his shoulders, patting his back. “To avoid any possible silence or awkwardness.”

“Oh, my hero,” Jeongguk replies. He tries to make it as sarcastic as possible, but he feels like his words are dripping with affection, and he knows for a fact that he’s smiling. “What would I do without you?”

“Die, probably,” Hoseok replies. Jeongguk feigns offence, pinching Hoseok’s arm, but the elder just laughs.

It’s not too long until Jimin comes back, carrying three beer bottles in his hands. He sits next to Jeongguk, giving each one of them their beer. The seats around them are starting to fill now, people moving from the dance floor to the chairs, as well as some others coming from outside.

“Taehyung is next, right?” Jeongguk asks, figuring it can’t be too long until the performance. Everyone is coming inside and taking their seats, so…

“He is,” Jimin says. A proud smile appears on his face as he explains, “Things are usually quite busy when he’s performing. He’s also one of the very few local performers I’ve seen sing live here in Seoul, so…”

“Wait—really?” Jeongguk asks, surprised. Now that is something that Taehyung failed to mention. “Taehyung sings?”

Jimin laughs a little, probably amused by Jeongguk’s reaction. “He didn’t tell you?” Jeongguk shakes his head. “Well, he does sing. And from a completely unbiased point of view, he’s quite good at it.”

Jeongguk is left with wide eyes and slightly parted lips after the revelation. Upon being invited to come to the show, he conducted a little research on what to expect from a show like this, and what he found out is that lip syncing seemed to be the most typical performance. Depending on the performer, acrobatics or dancing, as well. It’s not like dancing is not something that never happens, but since Taehyung never mentioned it, Jeongguk just assumed.

He can’t deny that he’s even a little more excited now. Taehyung’s voice is terribly deep and rich, so to imagine him singing… It makes Jeongguk want to shiver, almost.

“He never mentioned singing,” Jeongguk says, still a little stunned. “What kind of songs?”

“He sings a couple of them live, but lip syncs most of the set,” Jimin explains. “When he sings live, though, it’s not usually… super poppy stuff. That doesn’t fit his voice well.”

Jeongguk nods, falling silent as he zones out for a couple of minutes. He can hear Jimin and Hoseok talk around him, chatting about the club and Taehyung’s performance, but Jeongguk isn’t really listening. Instead, he’s trying to think about what Taehyung is going to sing tonight. He knows it’d be a lot easier to just ask Jimin what Taehyung usually sings live, but Jeongguk likes to make things a lot harder for himself.

He only comes back to reality when the music playing in the background abruptly cuts and a guy appears from behind the curtain behind the stage, holding a microphone in his hand. He can’t be much older than in his late thirties, and Jeongguk figures he’s probably the owner of the bar.

“To carry on with our performances for the night, we have one of our regular queens with us next,” the guy starts, introducing the next performer. Jeongguk feels excitement start to bubble in his chest as he hears those words—he knows who’s next. “Please, give a warm welcome to the lovely Fawn, who will delight us with incredible lip-syncing as well as her live performance!”

It’s only then that it dawns on Jeongguk that he never asked what Taehyung’s drag name was, even if he knows for a fact that he has one. Jeongguk already knew that Taehyung was the next performer, but Jimin cheering and clapping by his side is all the confirmation he’d need.

A million thoughts cross Jeongguk’s mind in that moment, as he watches the guy leave the stage and disappear behind the curtain. He feels an excited knot tighten in his throat, and then, music starts playing.

As a young man with a big interest in pop and pop divas, Jeongguk recognizes Christina Aguilera’s Candyman as soon as it starts playing. During the first couple of seconds the crowd erupts into cheers and claps, but Christina’s voice prevails above the sound in the bar, singing candyman, candyman. The choir of masculine voices sings again, and Jeongguk only has the time to steal a brief look at Jimin only to find him smiling.

Jeongguk’s gaze is drawn to the stage again, where he sees an intimidatingly tall figure walk to the center of the stage in two long strides. Only when he takes his hand to his mouth, touching one of his red lips with the tip of his finger as he mouths along to the words sweet, sugar, candyman, Jeongguk realizes. That is Taehyung. And he has long, red hair.

He can’t help but go wide-eyed as he takes in the sight before him. It’s undoubtedly Taehyung, even if Jeongguk can barely recognize him—he moves like him. The first thing that Jeongguk notices is legs, legs, legs. Taehyung’s legs are clad in fair, light fishnets that contrast against his tanned skin, from his champagne colored heels to the… well, whatever that piece of clothing is called.

It’s like a corset, Jeongguk realizes once his eyes climb up from Taehyung’s long, endless legs. The trimmings of the corset have feathery ends that act almost like a skirt, one so short that it barely covers whatever it is Taehyung is wearing as undergarments. Just like the heels, the corset is a pretty, rosy champagne color, making it look almost like rose gold. The chest area is covered in jewels that reflect the lights from the club, painting shapes on the walls and faces of the spectators.

Taehyung has boobs. That, unmistakably, are boobs.

He finds it hard to focus on the performance, his eyes following Taehyung but not really registering anything other than what he looks like. The long, red wig goes all the way down to his pronounced waist. It’s parted to the side and off one shoulder, almost reminding Jeongguk of Jessica Rabbit.

But what catches Jeongguk’s attention the most, even more than Taehyung’s never-ending legs, his cinched waist or the red hair, is Taehyung’s face. Jeongguk is, by now, more than used to Taehyung’s face, his features engraved in his memory—thick lips, sharp eyebrows, his big nose. The person in front of him is Taehyung, he can recognize him. He sees his eyes, even if they look different under all the shimmery eyeshadow, even if he’s wearing colored lenses. His eyebrows are way more arched, his lips are rounder and look fuller and plumper, and his nose far smaller. His cheekbones are more prominent and, in a way, his face looks smaller. But under all that, Jeongguk can recognize Taehyung.

And the fact that he looks so different with some makeup and a wig blows Jeongguk’s fucking mind.

He completely misses the performance, too busy trying to take in the sight before him. From the corner of his eye he can see both Jimin and Hoseok enjoying the performance, clapping and singing along. It’s not the first time Jimin sees Taehyung like this, and Hoseok hasn’t seen him out of drag, so he doesn’t understand how big of a transformation it was. But Jeongguk’s mind—fucking hell, it really is blown.

The song eventually ends, and the crowd around Jeongguk erupts into cheers and applause. Taehyung, whose mouth stretches into a big, wide smile, bows a couple of times before someone from the staff hands him a microphone.

“Good evening, everyone,” he says, eyes scanning the crowd. Jeongguk swears that Taehyung’s smile widens a little bit when it stumbles upon him, adding. “I see some new faces here tonight.”

There’s something calming about listening to Taehyung’s voice. Unlike his physical appearance, Taehyung’s voice is just the same as always—deliciously deep and soothing.

Hoseok leans forward in his seat, looking at Jimin as he says, “I thought drag queens changed their voice during their sets.”

“Some do,” Jimin replies, leaning forward as well. They’re both practically invading Jeongguk’s personal space now, but he doesn’t say anything. “Taehyung used to, but I told him it wasn’t worth it and that his voice was way more beautiful like this, so…”

Jeongguk, who is trying to focus on what Taehyung is saying, doesn’t say anything in response. Still, he internally thanks Jimin for telling Taehyung that at the time. And not only because hearing Taehyung’s voice is familiar and, in a way, a safety blanket in an environment he doesn’t know, but also because it’s beautiful. Like Jimin pointed out, it’s more stunning and richer like this.

He watches Taehyung easily interact with the audience, often running one of his hands down the strands of hair that fall over his shoulder. He’s just chatting before moving on to the first song, but he makes the audience laugh and fall a little in love with him. Jeongguk himself has a small grin plastered all over his face.

“Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed that, I wanted to get off to a fun start today,” he says. Again, Jeongguk feels like Taehyung is looking at him, but he’s been feeling that a lot. He’s probably just making all that up in his head. “I have some live songs for you guys tonight, as well, but we aren’t quite there yet. Should we carry on, yeah?” The crowd, Jimin included, choirs yes. Taehyung giggles. “Let’s get on with it, then.”

Jeongguk does pay attention for the next two songs. These are pop as well, but not as bubblegum as Candyman. They’re more on the sultry side, with slow dance moves. Something Jeongguk notices while watching Taehyung lip-sync is that he uses his mouth a lot—touching his lips with his fingers, sticking his tongue out. It’s not gruesome, not at all. It just helps build up the sensuality of his persona.

He’s not quite sure of what makes a lip-sync performance good, but he must say he does enjoy watching Taehyung. There’s no acrobatics and no intricate choreography, but there is something refreshing about watching him mouth along to the lyrics of songs. He fills the stage with his presence, which is one of the most important things a performer must have.

Those two songs fly by, and then Taehyung is moving to get the microphone stand from where it was, on the corner of the stage. He talks lively to the audience while he sets everything up, making sure the microphone is tall enough for his height—especially with high heels on.

Even if while he introduces his performance, he doesn’t say the name of the song, Jeongguk recognizes the instrumental for Rihanna’s Love On The Brain as soon as it starts playing.

Now, Jeongguk has never heard Taehyung singing, or even hum to a song.  The music plays and Jeongguk watches Taehyung sway his body to the tune of it, smiling at the audience. And then, Taehyung starts singing.

Jeongguk knew that Taehyung’s voice was deep, but he’s still shocked as Taehyung starts singing. One hand on the mic and the other holding the stand, Taehyung’s eyes flutter shut as he sings along to the song. Jeongguk feels a smile grow on his face as he listens to Taehyung’s voice. It makes him feel warm, comforted in an odd way. The song goes up and down a lot, from high notes to gravelly whispers, low and husky.

As Taehyung sings along to the chorus, Jeongguk realizes that his favorite part of watching him perform is possibly how into it he seems. The way his eyes flutter shut as he sings, his gestures, his facial expressions… Jeongguk thinks that there are few things as emotional as seeing someone completely get lost in their passion, forgetting about everything and everyone else around them. He’s seen it before in Hoseok and Yoongi, and also in himself. And now, he’s seeing it with Taehyung.

Jeongguk can’t tear his eyes away. It makes his heart swell with something, a mixture of pride and just pure, raw emotion. The hairs on the back of his nape stand, his entire arms covered in goosebumps.

The next ten minutes go by in a flash, and before Jeongguk knows it, Taehyung is bowing one last time after having finished his last song. Jimin is the first to stand up, cheering and clapping for Taehyung—or, well, Fawn. Soon enough the whole room follows, Jeongguk included.

“Thank you,” Taehyung says, smiling widely. He sounds moved upon the ovation he’s receiving, which only makes Jeongguk applaud him harder. “Thank you so much. I hope you had as much fun tonight as I did.”

Taehyung eventually leaves the stage, disappearing behind the curtain again, and Jeongguk can’t help but feel a little sad. It was thirty minutes, but it felt like way, way shorter to him. Jeongguk was expecting the man from earlier to come back, but instead, another drag queen comes out. They’re shorter than Taehyung, with big, blonde, fluffy hair, and they’re wearing bright colored clothes. It’s a stark contrast from Taehyung, all in reds and champagne. Nobody in the crowd is moving, so Jeongguk looks at Jimin looking for any indication of what to do. When he sees him standing up, he imitates him.

“Let’s get over there,” he indicates. “Taehyung is coming out soon.”

Jeongguk stops in his tracks, again feeling that knot in his stomach. He nods and turns around, following Jimin who takes them to one corner of the bar. The drag queen on stage now seems to be doing a comedy segment, but neither of them pays much attention to it, talking about Taehyung’s set instead.

“He was really good tonight, right?” Jimin asks, leaning back against the wall. He’s smiling so widely that it’s contagious, both Jeongguk and Hoseok mimicking him. “He told me he’s been practicing that song for so long, but he did amazing. Fuck, I’m gonna text him to tell him he did amazing.”

Hoseok laughs as Jimin gets his phone from the front pocket of his jeans, rapidly typing a message to Taehyung. Hoseok comments, “It was an amazing performance. I’m considering coming to one of these things again some time—they’re so fun to watch.”

“I know, right?” Jimin asks, lifting his eyes from his phone. His gaze flickers to Jeongguk as he says, “You guys should come more often. Taehyung loves having friends in the crowd. He says it makes it easier for him to feel calm.”

Jeongguk shrugs his shoulders, feeling a little shy. He’s aware Jimin is addressing him, now—he is Taehyung’s friend, not Hoseok.

“I would love to, if he were to invite me to come again,” Jeongguk replies.

Jimin clicks his tongue. “You don’t need an invitation. I know for a fact he would love it if you dropped by any other night, really. Just ask him, or if you want to give him a surprise, I can give you my number and you can ask me when he’s performing,” Jimin suggests.

“Wait, really?” Jeongguk asks, a little stunned. He wasn’t expecting Jimin to suggest anything like that, but now that he thinks about it, it sounds like a good idea. It makes him oddly happy to hear that Taehyung would like for him to show up unannounced. He supposes he never thought of himself as having any real place in Taehyung’s life, up until now. Nodding towards Jimin’s phone, still in his hands, Jeongguk adds. “Okay, that sounds good. I can give you my number, and you can text me so I can save yours.”

Jimin does that, sending Jeongguk a text that only says hi~. Thanks to perfect timing, just as Jeongguk is done saving Jimin’s number in his contacts, someone approaches them. Jeongguk hears Taehyung before he sees him, his voice speaking behind him.

“Look who’s here,” he says, causing Jeongguk and Hoseok both to turn around and look at him.

Watching Taehyung from afar was enough for Jeongguk to find him terribly intimidating—there was something about the way he looked, so sharp and polished, that made Jeongguk feel a certain type of way. Far from making that feeling go away, seeing Taehyung up close while he’s in drag only accentuates it. And height has a lot to do with it.

With the added height of the high heels, it’s now safe to say that Taehyung towers over Jeongguk. It makes Jeongguk swallow down hard, feeling like the words get stuck in his throat. It’s Taehyung, the same Taehyung he has known for quite some time now, and that he has had hot chocolate with. Why can’t he seem to bring himself to say anything?

Before he can make an even bigger fool of himself for staring while not saying anything, Jimin surges forward and pulls Taehyung into a hug. The height difference is ridiculously adorable, with Jimin wrapping his arms around Taehyung’s middle while his friend hugs his shoulders.

“You did so well today, Tae,” Jimin tells him, hugging Taehyung tightly. Taehyung’s smile gets a little wider, a little boxier. “I’m so proud of you.”

“You’re too good,” Taehyung replies, eyes crinkling in the corner as he smiles. “Thank you so much for coming tonight, Minnie.”

“You know I wouldn’t miss it,” Jimin replies. He starts to pull back then, adding, “I found Mr. Ballet Teacher and his friend.”

“I can see that, yeah,” Taehyung replies, his eyes shifting to Jeongguk. There’s a small, teasing smile on his lips, especially as he reaches forward and pulls Jeongguk into a loose hug. Jeongguk is a little taken aback at first—not because he’s uncomfortable, but because it catches him by surprise. He returns the hug, circling Taehyung’s waist with his arms. He doesn’t let himself touch too much. “I hope you enjoyed yourself.”

“I loved it so much. You’re a great performer, Taehyung,” Jeongguk praises, sincerely. Taehyung pulls back a little then, and even if Jeongguk knows it’s impossible for him to see anything of the likes with how much makeup Taehyung is wearing, in his mind Taehyung blushes a little. A thought crosses Jeongguk’s mind, and before he can analyze it and probably regret it, he’s quickly adding, “You look beautiful in red.”

Now it’s Taehyung’s turn to be caught off guard, lips parting into the shape of an O before he’s smiling again. “Thank you so much, Jeongguk,” he says, grinning shyly as he tucks a long, red strand before his ear. “I’m glad you think so.”

Jeongguk allows himself to stare at Taehyung’s face for a couple of seconds before forcing himself out of his daze. He turns around to look at Hoseok, gesturing towards him as he says, “Taehyung, this is my friend Hoseok. Hoseok, this is Taehyung.”

“It’s good to finally meet you,” Hoseok replies, nodding in Taehyung’s direction.

“Likewise,” Taehyung replies. “I’ve heard a lot about you from Jeongguk, so it’s nice to finally put a face to the name.”

“All good things, I hope,” Hoseok says, stealing a glance at Jeongguk with a slightly arched eyebrow. “But same, actually. Even if it’s an altered face, right now.”

Jeongguk is aware he has just been exposed, but he doesn’t care much. He’s feeling the bubbly, exciting feeling of happiness in his chest, so he doesn’t mind if now Taehyung knows he’s been talking about him. Taehyung looks at him, inquiringly, but all Jeongguk can do is smile. He, for no reason whatsoever, feels euphoric.

“Let me get you guys a drink,” Taehyung suggests then, clapping his hands together. “They’re on me, as a thank you for coming to see me.”

The four of them move to one of the tables right next to the wall. Jeongguk is surprised to see Taehyung take the seat right next to him, instead of sitting on the stool next to Jimin’s, but he’s not complaining. Jimin and Hoseok seem to be getting along just fine, so Jeongguk is sure they won’t have a problem sharing the same side of the table.

After they’ve all decided what they want—cocktails this time around, since they’re feeling a little more adventurous—Taehyung stands up again and walks towards the bar. Jeongguk totally doesn’t look at his legs as he walks away, not at all.

He’s almost like a lost puppy while Taehyung is gone, too focused on wanting him to come back to actually try to join in with Jimin and Hoseok’s conversation. He looks in the direction of the bar just to see Taehyung lively chatting to the bartender as he gets their drinks ready, sitting on a stool and resting his elbows on the bar as he laughs about something. He moves a little on the stool, from one side to the other, and for some reason Jeongguk finds it utterly adorable. He should do this right here, on the stool next to him.

Taehyung has to make two trips from the bar and then back to their table to successfully bring the four cocktails to them, but once he’s done he finally sits next to Jeongguk. He still doesn’t know what to say and still feels intimidated in Taehyung’s presence like this, but he wants him here. It puts him on edge, but at the same time it soothes him.

Jeongguk can’t help but steal glances. He watches Taehyung’s big hands, as well as his nails that have been painted a bright red. He watches the way in which Taehyung’s lips wrap around the straw as he drinks, leaving a red mark on the plastic once he’s done.

“Sooo,” Taehyung starts then, grabbing his straw between his index and thumb and moving it around his glass. “There is something I actually wanted to ask you two.”

He raises his eyes from his drink then, deliberately looking between Jeongguk and Hoseok. Jeongguk is the one to break the silence.

“What is it?” he asks, curious.

“Are you two dating?”

The question catches Jeongguk off guard, leaving him speechless for a few seconds as he looks at Hoseok with comically wide eyes. However, his surprise pales in comparison to Hoseok’s reaction, who after a couple of seconds of being shocked, bursts into laughter.

“Jeongguk and I? No way,” he says, followed by another chuckle. “Why would you think that?”

Taehyung shrugs a little, again looking down at his cocktail. “I don’t know, just curious,” he replies. “Since upon inviting him his first thought was for you to come along, I thought that maybe… you know.”

Jeongguk wants to clarify that Hoseok was, in no way, the first thing to pop up into his mind upon having Taehyung inviting him to see him perform, but he doesn’t end up saying it. Instead, he says, “We’re both single. Unless there is something going on in Hoseok’s life that he hasn’t told me about.”

The other three at the table laugh at Jeongguk’s comment. In the end, Hoseok replies, “Nothing you don’t know about. I’m single as well.”

“I see,” Taehyung says, with a nod. He looks at Hoseok with a smile as he says, “That’s good to know.”

Part of Jeongguk wants to ask why Taehyung thinks that’s good to know, but he’s not fast enough. Before he has the chance to open his mouth, Hoseok is speaking about something else.

“I wanted to ask something, as well,” he says. The three of them look at him with inquiring eyes, even if Jeongguk is sure that the question, most likely, won’t be addressed to him. “Why Fawn?”

That is something that Jeongguk had been wanting to ask as well. Taehyung’s stage name is adorable and, for some reason Jeongguk can’t pinpoint, it really fits him. He would love to know the reason behind it, why he picked it as his drag name.

“It wasn’t me who picked it, actually,” Taehyung replies, smiling. He digs his elbow on the table and rests his chin on his palm, looking in front of himself towards Jimin as he says, “Jimin came up with it. Mind sharing your reasoning, Minnie?”

“Not at all,” Jimin replies, smiling back. His eyes move to Jeongguk and Hoseok then, as he explains, “As you probably have noticed, Taehyung’s legs are longer than my lifespan. He’s good at walking in heels now, but when he first started doing drag he was a total mess. He looked like Bambi, therefore… Fawn. It’s a cute one, right?”

Jimin looks satisfied with himself, and Jeongguk can’t help but coo. He already knew that Taehyung wasn’t that good at walking in heels before—hell, that is the sole reason why they know each other. However, now that he has seen Taehyung like this, he finds it easier to picture a young, newbie Taehyung struggling to hold himself up in high heeled shoes. And that, Jeongguk thinks, is cute as fuck.

The four of them fall into easy conversation as they drink their cocktails, and Jeongguk thinks it’s nice. After not long another performer takes the stage, so they watch from their table, still talking between them about everything and nothing at all, really. Jimin turns out to have a lot in common with both Hoseok and Jeongguk; as Taehyung had told him, Jimin used to do ballet when he was in high school. The sole reason why he can’t help Taehyung himself is because he’s a med student, and doesn’t have the time to teach Taehyung.

“I mean, I did offer to teach him myself, but he rejected it,” Jimin explains, stealing a glance at Taehyung.

“Because I knew he’d prioritize teaching me over the stuff he needed to do for himself, which would end up in him pulling all-nighters and not getting enough sleep or food,” Taehyung quickly bites back. “Plus, he wouldn’t let me pay him in any way, and that wouldn’t be fair.”

“We’re best friends,” Jimin says, exasperated. “It’s a favor.”

“One lesson is a favor,” Taehyung retorts. “Three weekly lessons in your spare time is a job. I’d feel like I was taking advantage if you didn’t get anything back from it. Same goes for Jeongguk, even if we’re friends now.”

Jeongguk hadn’t really thought about that. At this point, he would also say that Taehyung and he are friends. Now that Taehyung mentions it, it does feel a little awkward to charge someone you’re close with for stuff like this. Maybe, since they initially met through the lessons and were nothing more than a teacher and a student, Jeongguk didn’t give it much thought.

“You’re too noble for your own good,” Jimin protests, getting back to his cocktail.

It’s easy to keep the conversation going. Hoseok, Taehyung and Jimin are all out there, and have no problem getting used to each other’s presence. Jeongguk feels comforted by the presence of two people he’s close with, so once he’s over the initial intimidation that comes from seeing Taehyung in drag, he feels safe enough to be himself. Usually, it takes him a bit longer to open up to people, but Jimin is nice and Hoseok and Taehyung being there helps a lot.

In that time, Jeongguk finds out that a night like tonight, with just one set and then being able to relax with friends, is not what Taehyung is used to by far. For starters, he usually does his own solo set, yes, but after that he doesn’t get to just have a free night. He often goes on stage with other queens, plays games with the customers and, overall, entertains them for hours on end.

“It’s all about entertainment, really,” Taehyung says. “That’s the main point of it all.”

In addition to that, Jeongguk also discovers that on busy nights when they’re low on staff, Taehyung works here. He gets behind the bar and helps to make drinks, or cleaning up tables. In Taehyung’s own words, that is the sole reason he can afford to do drag—because he has this on the side.

It’s around an hour and a half later, when they have long ago finished their cocktails and Jeongguk is feeling a bit tipsy, that Taehyung runs a hand through his bright red hair and says, “I think I’m gonna go take all of this off and call it a night.”

“Do you want me to wait for you and we can call a taxi together?” Jimin asks, looking at Taehyung.

“Yeah, that would be nice,” Taehyung says. He then turns to look at Jeongguk, asking, “Are you guys leaving now?”

“We can wait with Jimin, just so he’s not alone,” Hoseok suggests. Then, with a teasing smile he adds, “Plus, I am curious to see what you look like once all that is off.”

Taehyung laughs, cheerfully. “Okay, yeah, that works. I’ll be right back, then.”

Maybe it’s because he’s a little buzzed, or maybe it’s a short wait, but time goes by fast while they wait for Taehyung to be ready to go. It feels like just a couple of minutes go by before he’s coming back, a big sports bag hanging from his shoulder.

This is the Taehyung he knows and he’s used to, even if he looks more tired than usual. He is back to his normal height, again around Jeongguk’s size, and is wearing a big, oversized dark blue hoodie. His collarbone peaks out from the wide neck of it, revealing the soft-looking skin and prominent bone. He is also barefaced, his sandy blond hair in sight. His black leggings and black sneakers don’t match the hoodie, but Taehyung doesn’t seem to care much, and neither does Jeongguk. He looks soft.

Jeongguk would say he’s seen Taehyung a fair amount of times and, after tonight, also with a fair amount of different looks. He’s seen him look cozy with his big wool coats, he’s seen him look carefree and comfortable in the dancing gear, and he’s seen him look glamorous, all dressed up and in full drag. But out of all the ways he’s seen him, and out of all the looks he’s seen on him, this has to be his favorite.

Taehyung smiles tiredly, three pairs of eyes on him as he approaches and sits back on the stool. Jeongguk knows he’s staring, but he can’t tear his eyes away.

He has eyes—he knew Taehyung was attractive. He was more than aware that he is pretty. But right now, after a night of work and all dressed down, Jeongguk can’t help but think he looks utterly gorgeous.

“It’s so weird to be able to go home before dawn,” Taehyung comments, resting his bag on the stool as he smiles widely. “Are you ready to leave?”

“You deserve one easy night every once in a while,” Jimin points out, moving to stand up. “I think we’re all ready to go. Guys?”

“Yeah, we are,” Jeongguk replies, mimicking Jimin and getting off the stool. He then looks at Hoseok and asks, “We’re walking back, right?”

“We are, yeah,” Hoseok replies with a nod, getting his jacket on.

“Are you sure?” Taehyung asks then, sounding concerned. He’s looking at Jeongguk, frowning a little. “We can share the taxi, if you want. It’s already late.”

Taehyung’s worry makes Jeongguk’s heart swell a little, but he ignores it and says, “We can walk, really. Plus, we don’t live close together. You always say the community center is a while away from yours.”

Upon hearing that, Taehyung slightly juts his lips out in a small pout. “If you’re sure,” he says, but doesn’t insist anymore.

On his way out, Taehyung says bye to a few people from the staff, including the bartender from earlier and the bouncer Jimin spoke to—Namjoon, if Taehyung remembers correctly. Since it’s busy right in front of the club, Jimin and Taehyung walk with Hoseok and Jeongguk a little, trying to find a quieter area before calling their cab.

Jeongguk is oddly sad when they find a calm street, as time to say goodbye comes. Maybe it’s because he enjoyed tonight so much that he doesn’t want it to be over, or maybe because he simply doesn’t want to say goodbye to Taehyung. Whatever the reason is, he needs to hold back the urge to sulk when he sees Jimin call the taxi company, giving them the name of the street they’re in.

When he diverts his eyes from Jimin, he sees Taehyung look at him as he bounces on the balls of his feet, an expectant smile on his face. “Are you done staring at my best friend so I can give you a hug and thank you for coming?”

Jeongguk rolls his eyes, but he can’t stop a little smile from making its way to his face. He reaches forward and pulls Taehyung into a tight hug, making him giggle as he hugs back. “Shut up,” is what he says, at first. “I wasn’t staring.”

Taehyung laughs again. “I hope not,” he says, returning the hug as he wraps his arms around Jeongguk’s shoulders. The words pull at Jeongguk’s heartstrings, but before he has the time to ask why Taehyung hopes that, he adds, “I really am so happy you were here tonight. Thank you so much for coming, Gukkie.”

The usage of the nickname doesn’t go unnoticed by Jeongguk, who unintentionally squeezes Taehyung a little tighter. “It’s no problem, really. I had fun tonight, so I’m really glad you invited me.”

As he pulls back, Taehyung looks into Jeongguk’s eyes and says, “It might be no problem, but it still was important to me, so let me thank you.” Jeongguk can’t help but smile a little at the words. “You’ll come back another night?”

“For sure,” Jeongguk says, with a nod. There is no way he’s not coming back sometime. “I want to.”

“Then I’ll let you know whenever I can have one set and then take the night off, so I can keep you company,” Taehyung replies, taking a step back. “I’ll see you on Monday?”

“See you on Monday,” Jeongguk replies, giving Taehyung another smile.

Jeongguk says goodbye to Jimin as Taehyung does the same with Hoseok. After that, time to leave really comes, so Jeongguk and Hoseok start walking down the street. Jeongguk is quiet, at first. He’s been awake for long, since he had work early this morning, so he’s feeling tired. But he’s also thinking hard. Not that much happened today, apart from Jeongguk having the epiphany that Taehyung is the most gorgeous person in the world, but he still feels like his mind is going a million miles a minute.

It’s after they’re a decent bit away, out of Taehyung and Jimin’s earshot, that Hoseok starts, “So… Taehyung.”

Jeongguk nods, even if he’s not really sure of what Hoseok means by that. He just repeats, “Taehyung.”

“I can see now what Yoongi meant,” Hoseok replies. Jeongguk frowns, confused. “About you being obsessed with him.”

Jeongguk chokes upon hearing the words, feeling his cheeks heat up. “Obsessed? I’m not obsessed,” he repeats. Obsessed is a bad word—it has strong connotations. He’s not obsessed. “With Taehyung, you mean?”

“He said you keep talking about him,” Hoseok replies. Jeongguk bites down on his lips, silent. “And today you kept looking at him, like when he left for the bar buy us drinks.”

“I did no such a thing,” Jeongguk replies, offended. Well—he did, but he didn’t think Hoseok would have caught on to that. Is he that obvious?

“Jeongguk, you so did,” Hoseok says. Jeongguk opens his mouth to protest, but he immediately closes it without saying anything after thinking twice about it. Hoseok has already noticed, so it’s pretty much pointless to deny it at this point. “Do you like him?”

Jeongguk huffs. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he replies, sincerely. He needs to think a little more about that before coming to a conclusion.

“What do you mean you don’t know?” Hoseok asks, furrowing his brows.

“I mean that I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jeongguk repeats. “Taehyung and I are friends, and that’s it. Just because he’s attractive doesn’t mean that I have to like him.”

Hoseok looks at him, in a way that is almost sympathetic. At that moment Jeongguk doesn’t really make much sense of it. “If you say so,” is all Hoseok says.

Jeongguk doesn’t reply to that, pushing the thought to the back of his mind and changing the topic. He’d be lying, however, if he said that once he got back home he didn’t think about Hoseok’s question again, the words lingering in his mind once he’s too sleepy to push them away. Does he like Taehyung?

Well, he wishes he knew.

 

 

Jeongguk has never been one to believe in astrology. He does recognize some Virgo traits in himself, but he thinks they’re there out of pure coincidence. It wouldn’t make sense for the stars to be able to dictate what his personality is like, or whatever the fuck astrology is about.

It’s Thursday evening and Jeongguk’s ballet lesson with Taehyung has just finished. They’re both picking up their stuff while chattering away, when Taehyung says, “Jimin showed me a thing today.”

Jeongguk raises his eyes from his fingers, that were tying his shoelaces. “What thing?” he asks, curiosity dripping from his voice.

“An astrology compatibility thing,” Taehyung says, stretching his legs. He’s resting his weight on his hands as he sits, looking at Jeongguk. “It said that Capricorns’ perfect match is Virgos.”

It only takes Jeongguk a quick calculation to figure out that Taehyung is a Capricorn, since he knows his birthday was just before New Year’s Eve. He remembers sending him a quick text wishing him a happy birthday, as well.

“Is Jimin a Virgo?” Jeongguk asks, before he can stop himself.

“What? No!” Taehyung replies, furrowing his brows in confusion. “Why would you ask that?”

“I don’t know,” Jeongguk replies, followed by a shrug. “Why would he send you it?”

“He sent me the whole chart thing and I looked it up myself,” Taehyung explains. “He’s a Libra, actually.”

“And what is his perfect match?” Jeongguk asks, not sure of what the point of Taehyung telling him all this is.

“I honestly don’t remember,” Taehyung replies, making Jeongguk crack a smile. “What’s your sign?”

It’s only then, when he’s about to reply, that it dawns on Jeongguk what his sign is. His lips part a little upon the epiphany he’s just had.

Maybe he should give astrology a chance, after all.

“I’m a Virgo,” he says. He watches how Taehyung’s lips stretch into a big, wide smile, almost in slow motion. “My birthday is September 1st.”

For Jeongguk, it makes sense. He doesn’t even know why, or how, but it makes sense. There is this thing that his grandmother always used to tell him, about how he was the first miracle of September. Jeongguk never paid it too much mind, always blushing and telling his grandmother she was exaggerating—of course, followed by a noisy kiss to her cheek.

Jeongguk thinks it’s funny that his grandmother used to tell him that. Because, if he’s the first miracle of September, then Taehyung is probably the last miracle of the year. Anything that happened on the 31st would pale in comparison.

“So you’re my perfect match, then?” Taehyung asks, bold and shameless as always. Despite the bravery of his question, Jeongguk observes, there is something that gives away a speck of shyness—the dusty pink covering his cheeks.

Jeongguk shrugs, trying to play it cool. “It looks like I am, yeah.”

“So enthusiastic,” Taehyung says, sarcastically. He nudges Jeongguk’s foot with his own, making Jeongguk look at him with an arched eyebrow. “Be more excited! You are standing right in front of your perfect match.”

“We’re both sitting down,” Jeongguk points out. Taehyung laughs at that, throwing his head back. So damn beautiful. “And I’m excited. Does this mean we’re soulmates?”

“It could,” Taehyung replies. “But then it would also mean you are the soulmate of the other millions of Capricorns out there, you know.”

Jeongguk hums at that, not convinced. “Well, you’re the only Capricorn I know—at least, the only Capricorn that I know is a Capricorn. That makes you pretty special, if I must say.”

Taehyung smiles. “Then, I guess we could really be soulmates, after all,” he says, giving Jeongguk a coy smile.

Jeongguk doesn’t reply with anything, but he holds Taehyung’s gaze for a couple of seconds as he bites back a grin. He wonders if Taehyung has the same vertigo feeling in his stomach that he does right now.

They eventually pick their things up and leave, with the promise to meet again for the last lesson. On his way to the dance school or during his shift, Jeongguk doesn’t check his phone. He doesn’t look at it either while he’s walking home, just wanting to get to his place and fall into a sleeping coma.

However, when he does check his phone while making himself dinner, he finds a notification that makes him snort, shaking his head as he laughs. It’s a text from Jimin.

hey jeongguk when is hoseok’s birthday??

 

 

 

Life works in a funny way, Jeongguk thinks. It’s amazing how a series of circumstances can take you to a place or situation that you didn’t see yourself in at all. For example, fifteen-year-old Jeongguk never thought that one year later his parents finding out about his passion would ruin all the dreams he had at the moment. On a lighter note, but similarly, present Jeongguk never thought he would end up sitting on Taehyung’s bed, with a feather boa wrapped around his neck. Yet, there he is.

It all started with his coworker Wooseok asking for a day off last Wednesday, when he couldn’t make it to work and Jeongguk had to cover for him, cleaning both their areas. In exchange, Wooseok told him he’d cover his shift today, so he could have the day off. When he told Taehyung about it, as they were wrapping up their lesson, Taehyung asked if he wanted to hang out.

At the time he accepted, Jeongguk didn’t know that Taehyung meant hanging out at his place. But now, as he sits on Taehyung’s bed while he watches him rummage through his closet looking for his blonde wig, he couldn’t be happier.

It all started with Jeongguk wondering what he would look like if he was blond like Taehyung. Upon hearing that, Taehyung, of course, was willing to show him.

“Where the fuck is it? God, I swear I used it just a couple of weeks ago,” Taehyung complains, sounding frustrated. He’s crawling down on the floor, going through a couple of boxes that are full to the brim. Jeongguk would be lying if he said his eyes didn’t go down to Taehyung’s ass a couple of times. “Oh my God, this is a mess.”

“I was just wondering, really,” Jeongguk says, feeling a little bad that Taehyung is going through all of this effort just because he asked. “I can always check on one of those apps that change your hair color. That’s what most people do.”

“I still wanted to show you,” complains Taehyung, almost in a whine. He sighs loudly and opens another box, taking something from the top and pulling it out of the box so he can see what’s underneath. “It has to be here.”

Jeongguk didn’t pay much attention to whatever Taehyung pulled out of the box at first, but upon taking a second glance, he frowns. Are those…?

“Are these your boobs?” he asks, reaching forward for the object and taking it in his hands. Once he gets a hold of it, he discovers it’s silicone.

“That would be them, yeah,” replies Taehyung. He turns around then, sitting while looking at Jeongguk with an amused expression. “Do you like them?”

“They’re… realistic,” Jeongguk comments, looking down at them. The silicone breasts are not too big, but Jeongguk did notice when he went to see Taehyung that the rest of performers had far bigger breasts than him. He looks down at the pink nipples, sort of amazed by the amount of detail put into them. “How did you find ones that match your skin so well? I didn’t notice it was silicone the other day.”

“I got it made for me,” Taehyung explains, dragging his ass on the wooden flooring so he can be closer to Jeongguk. Gesturing towards the edges of the piece, he says, “The bodysuit I had the other day had straps, so that helps soften the contrast of skin and silicone right at the edge. It’s easy to make it even with makeup, though.”

Jeongguk nods then, understanding. He doesn’t doubt the power of makeup, especially after seeing how much Taehyung’s features change while in drag. “What about your hips?”

“I put pads inside my tights,” Taehyung explains. “You’re an observant one, aren’t you?”

“It was hard to miss,” Jeongguk replies, shrugging a little. Taehyung smiles. “I have so many questions to ask, but I don’t want to sound clueless or offensive.”

“I’ll be happy to educate you in the art of drag,” Taehyung replies, happily. “Come on, what’s bugging you? Shoot.”

Jeongguk bites down on his bottom lip. He decides to go from least to most serious, just to not make things awkward too early on. “Where does your dick go?”

He must sound so stupidly lost while asking, because right then and there Taehyung bursts into laughter, chuckling loudly. He throws his head back as he laughs, the deep rumble of his laughter filling the room. Jeongguk was a little embarrassed, but he can’t help but smile upon hearing Taehyung laugh so cheerfully. Even if he has asked something stupid, if it made Taehyung laugh like that, he feels like it’s worth it.

“Last time when I mentioned tucking I assumed you knew what I was talking about,” Taehyung tells him. Jeongguk vaguely remembers that incident.

“I did know it was called tucking, but…” he trails off. Taehyung looks at him, expectant. “I don’t know the, you know—the process. I don’t know how it’s done.”

“Okay, so let me explain—you know how to push your balls up inside you, right?” Taehyung starts.

Jeongguk nods, which leads to Taehyung resuming his explanation. It sounds easier than Jeongguk was expecting and than it probably is in real life, although Jeongguk still winces a little when Taehyung tells him he tapes both his dick and his scrotum, to make sure it doesn’t, uh… move.

“And how do you pee?” Jeongguk asks, confused. If Taehyung’s dick is safely taped between his ass cheeks while he’s in drag, Jeongguk doesn’t really see how he’s supposed to go to the bathroom like that. He doubts he just redoes the whole tucking process every time he needs to pee, so there needs to be a way.

“You don’t,” Taehyung replies. Jeongguk’s eyebrows shoot up. “I have trained my bladder.”

“That sounds like hell,” Jeongguk tells him. Taehyung laughs. “I feel bad for your poor dick, and balls, and bladder—for you. I’m sorry, Tae.”

“My Gosh, you’re so dramatic. It’s not that bad,” Taehyung tells him. Jeongguk winces again. “Anything else you want to know, then?”

Jeongguk is a little nervous about this part. His teeth catch his bottom lip then, worrying it between them. “I wanted to ask about pronouns,” he says. “Because I’ve been referring to you as he in my head all the time, but the other day I saw most people from the crowd talking about drag queens as she. So I just—I wanted to ask? Because I don’t want to offend you in any way, or anyone. That’s the last thing I want. So… yeah.”

Taehyung looks at him with a little smile on his lips, head tilted to the right as he still sits on the bedroom floor. Jeongguk licks his lips, aware that he was rambling. God, he’s so embarrassing, but at least Taehyung doesn’t seem… mad.

“Oh, Gukkie—you’re really worried about this, aren’t you?” he asks. Jeongguk shrugs, but in the end he nods a little. “I personally don’t mind. It doesn’t bother me that people refer to me as she when in drag, but I do prefer he. Especially if it’s coming from you, since you know me as Taehyung before you know me as Fawn.”

Jeongguk nods. That makes sense, yeah. “I see, I see,” he says.

“It’s good that you ask, though,” Taehyung tells him. “Because some people like he, some people like she, some people like both and some people like neither. Just don’t worry, yeah? You didn’t offend me in any way.”

Jeongguk relaxes a little now, glad that he didn’t royally fuck up. “Okay, that’s good,” he says. “I feel like I keep embarrassing myself asking all of this.”

“Not embarrassing,” Taehyung retorts. “You’re curious and considerate, and I think it’s cute. I think you are cute.”

Jeongguk can’t help but blush a little then. Judging by the smug, shit-eating grin on Taehyung’s face, that is exactly what he was going for. “Taehyung,” Jeongguk protests, feeling how warm his own cheeks are. “I’m not cute.”

“But I said you are,” Taehyung retorts, still smiling widely.

“If I’m cute, then what are you?” Jeongguk replies then.

Tilting his head to the side and with an eyebrow slightly raised, Taehyung says, “I don’t know, you tell me.”

Jeongguk doesn’t think too much or too hard about it, nor does he give himself much time to regret what he wants to say. He replies, “I think you’re cuter, then.”

Taehyung laughs again, then, showing all of his teeth. His heart does a pirouette in his chest.

“Stop trying to be smooth, Jeon Jeongguk,” replies Taehyung. Something about the way he looks at him, though, tells Jeongguk that Taehyung doesn’t really want him to.

And, if Jeongguk is completely honest, he doesn’t want to stop either.

 

 

Jeongguk is mopping the floor of a dance studio on a Friday evening when he hears a knock in the door behind him. He turns around, startled, just to find Yoongi standing under the doorframe.

“Hello there, stranger,” Yoongi greets him, waving his hand at him.

“Hey,” Jeongguk greets back, stopping himself from mopping. “Why stranger?”

“Don’t know,” Yoongi says, shrugging as he steps inside the room. “Haven’t seen you in a while.”

“That’s because you have been busy,” Jeongguk accuses, playfully. From what he’s heard from Hoseok and the little he’s talked to Yoongi in the last week, he’s been spending more time at the school and the studio than he has at home. “You are the stranger.”

“Yeah, but I am done with the shit ton of stuff I’ve had to do these last two weeks, so I’m finally free,” Yoongi replies, smiling. Jeongguk pats his back, softly. “Which is what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Are you trying to rub in my face the fact that you’re free while I rot in my three jobs?” Jeongguk asks, teasingly.

“What? No! You know I wouldn’t do that, Jeongguk,” Yoongi replies, alarmed. When he sees Jeongguk smiling at him, amused, he adds, “Stop being a little shit. I meant to ask if you and Hoseok want to come over to mine tomorrow, eat some pizza and waste our time and lives away.”

“Sounds tempting,” Jeongguk starts. “But I already agreed to meet with Taehyung tomorrow evening, before he has work. Maybe we can have lunch on Sunday?”

“That works, yeah,” Yoongi replies, accompanied with a slow nod. “You see Taehyung an awful lot these days.”

“If you’re gonna be like Hoseok and ask if I like him, please keep it,” Jeongguk replies. It’s an embarrassed mumble, and it makes Yoongi laugh loudly. “Speaking of him…”

“What about him?” Yoongi asks, curious. Both Yoongi and Hoseok show a lot of interest in Taehyung and his relationship with Jeongguk these days. Especially Hoseok, since he met Taehyung a couple of weeks ago.

“I’ve been talking to his friend Jimin and I would like to drop by the club where Taehyung works one night and give him a surprise,” Jeongguk explains. “It’d be next weekend. Do you think you could come with me?”

“I would love to. I’ve heard from Hoseok that it was really cool back there,” Yoongi says. He sounds genuinely excited about Jeongguk inviting him, which makes Jeongguk smile widely. “Next weekend, yeah? What day?”

“Saturday night,” Jeongguk tells him.

Yoongi nods, saying, “I’ll be free, then. And thanks for inviting me.”

“You don’t have to thank me for that,” Jeongguk says, frowning a little. “Are you gonna get home now?”

“Yeah, I’ve been here since early in the morning. I miss my bed,” Yoongi complains almost in a whine, making Jeongguk grin. “I’ll see on Sunday?”

“Yeah. Make sure to text me the time, and if I need to bring something,” Jeongguk replies, holding the stick of his mop again as Yoongi starts to walk away.

“Will do,” Yoongi replies. “See you then, Gukkie.”

“See you! Have a nice weekend, hyung,” Jeongguk exclaims, Yoongi mumbling the same in response as he leaves the room.

Jeongguk resumes his moping, aware that he has a busy weekend ahead of himself. He has class at the community center on Saturday afternoon and then he’ll go meet Taehyung, and on Sunday he’ll go eat lunch with Hoseok and Yoongi. Maybe to someone with a decent social life that isn’t much, but to Jeongguk, who spends most weekends being an ameba at home and recovering from the exhaustion of the week, it’s a lot.

The perspective of it makes him a little lazy, but he would be lying if he said he’s not excited. No matter how idle he is feeling, Jeongguk must admit that he is actually looking forward to it. Especially for meeting Taehyung tomorrow.

 

Jeongguk has never been a big believer in innate talent. He’s the kind to believe that, even if you’re born with a gift, if you don’t work hard to improve, it’s not really a talent. He’d rather be called skilled over talented, any day.

That mindset, though, changes the first time he steps into a pair of heels, belonging to Taehyung. He had been relentlessly teasing Taehyung about an old video of him performing that Taehyung showed him, where his lack of skills at walking in heels was… more than apparent.

“Let’s see if you can do any better,” Taehyung had protested. Before Jeongguk could say anything in response, agreeing or disagreeing, Taehyung was on his feet, walking towards his room, his bare feet angrily stomping on the wooden floor.

Of course, it was clear to Jeongguk that Taehyung’s annoyance was just pretend when he resurfaced, armed with a pair of red heels. The platform was a bit imposing to Jeongguk, who swallowed down upon seeing the shoes.

“I hope I don’t strain my ankle,” Jeongguk had joked around, reaching forward to take his socks off.

“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” Taehyung had said, dismissive.

What neither of them was expecting was for Jeongguk to do so well. After the initial tumble and getting used to the feeling of wearing them, Jeongguk finds himself doing quite okay, especially for a beginner. It takes him a couple of minutes to lose the fear of tripping and falling, and as soon as he starts walking more confidently he finds himself a lot more stable.

Looks like all those fears of spraining or hurting himself were there for nothing, really.

Taehyung looks at him, a mixture of impressed and frowny. His eyebrows are furrowed and his arms are crossed tightly over his chest, but he still looks at Jeongguk with certain wonder in his eyes. Not a combination that Jeongguk thought would be possible until now, if he’s honest.

“This isn’t fair,” Taehyung replies, almost in a whine. All he’s missing is a pout on his mouth as he stomps his foot on the floor. “Why are you so good?”

“Hm, do you really think so?” Jeongguk asks, unable to contain a smile. He starts walking down the corridor again, a hand on his hip as he exaggeratedly pops it with each step. He’s both trying to show off and trying to make Taehyung smile. There are two things that he’s been found himself craving—Taehyung’s laughter and Taehyung’s praise.

Wearing heels feels weird, that much he knows. They’re tall, really tall, and he towers over Taehyung in a way he never thought was possible. He definitely doesn’t feel comfortable or secure at all, like his whole gravity center has been misplaced, but he’s making an effort to… not die, he guesses. He must admit, though, that he looks good. A quick glance to the mirror in the corridor as he walks by letting him see how different his legs looked, even if he was still wearing the same black, skinny jeans as before.

“This is fifty different levels of unfair, what the fuck?” Taehyung asks, standing up from the couch with a little hop and following Jeongguk down the corridor.

Jeongguk turns around dramatically, holding himself straight on the frame of Taehyung’s bedroom door. Even if he seems to be good at keeping his balance in these things, he’s not very comfortable still. He’s pretty sure that if he tried to dance like Taehyung does during his performance, then he would indeed sprain his ankle, or something worse.

“You’re still better than me,” Jeongguk tries to reassure him. He, too, would feel a little bitter if a newbie was good at something almost instantly when it took him time to learn his craft. For that reason, he tries to cheer Taehyung up. “I’m pretty sure I would probably end up killing myself if I tried to dance in these things.”

He doesn’t make Taehyung smile, which was his intention, but at least his frown seems to be a little less deep now. “Still,” Taehyung says. “It took me so long to be able to walk properly. Oh, well. After all I had to take ballet lessons, and that’s your thing, Mr. Teacher.”

Jeongguk laughs at that, glad that Taehyung is back to joking around with him. “I guess that must be the reason why, yeah,” Jeongguk says. “You’re still better than me.”

Taehyung narrows his eyes at Jeongguk, giving him a look from the corner of his eye, but the ends of his mouth lift up in a tiny, tiny smile. Almost as if he was trying to hold it in.

“I don’t know if I should be bitter or turned on right now,” Taehyung blurts out, then.

The comment makes Jeongguk blush furiously. His eyes widen and he looks at Taehyung, as a lazy smile slowly appears on his face. It’s smug, even. It feels almost as if Taehyung knew exactly what to say to elicit this kind of reaction from Jeongguk. It makes his heart speed up like crazy.

“Shut up,” Jeongguk mumbles then, feeling all of his cockiness from before vanish.

Taehyung does so, sliding his fingers over his lips and mimicking the action of closing a zipper. However, the damage is already done. Jeongguk’s cheeks are already a bright red, and his heart, a little less his and a little more Taehyung’s.

 

 

Next Saturday finds Jeongguk taking Yoongi to the drag club where Taehyung works at, loyal to his word. This time around Jimin is busy and can’t join them, but Jeongguk doesn’t feel anxious about being alone. He’s only been there once, but at least now he knows what to do. Similarly to Hoseok’s last week, Yoongi’s presence will be enough to make him feel at ease, despite the foreign environment.

They get there and take a seat at one of the tables near the wall, similar to where they had their cocktails that one week. This one is not as close to the stage as it is to the bar area, but with how small the club is Jeongguk knows he won’t have any problems seeing Taehyung once he’s on stage.

Taehyung is not the first performer of the night, but Jeongguk already knew that thanks to Jimin. Yoongi seems to be just as fascinated as Hoseok and Jeongguk were last week, watching the lip-syncs with attention and laughing at the comedy intervals. They talk a little here and there, mostly Yoongi asking questions about Taehyung.

“What did you say he looked like while in drag, again?” Yoongi asks, even if it’s a question that he’s already asked.

“Tall and skinny. Not too curvy—or well, at least not like the accentuated curves you’ll see on the other queens,” Jeongguk says, recollecting how lithe Taehyung’s padded frame looks in comparison to some of the other queens. “I don’t know what he’s going to wear or what his hair will look like, though.”

Yoongi nods, then. His fingers hold the neck of his bottle of beer as he says, “Is there any chance that’d be him, then?” He nods somewhere behind Jeongguk, and then lifts the bottle to his lips.

Jeongguk turns around almost too eagerly then, looking for Taehyung. It’s easy to spot who Yoongi was referring to—there, by the bar, stands a tall, pink figure. Jeongguk takes in the fact that it’s Taehyung first, looking at the face that he has come to know so well, despite the makeup. He then notices the big, pink hair, pulled up into a complicated hairdo, and the pink sheer robe with faux fur on the ends that he’s wearing. And then, lastly, he notices that Taehyung is talking to the bartender.

Taehyung is standing up, one ankle crossed behind the other and both elbows digging in on the bar, almost bent over on it. He whispers something into the bartender’s ear that has both of them laughing quietly, almost giggling together. Jeongguk tries not to be too upset at how close to each other they get when they talk, definitely invading what would be considered one’s personal space, but he can’t help it.

He forces himself to turn around and look away, albeit with a big pout on his lips that doesn’t go unnoticed.

“So… I assume that’s him, yeah?” Yoongi asks, cautious.

“That’s Tae, yeah,” Jeongguk says, trying not to sound too upset. He reminds himself that Taehyung and he are not a thing, and he has no reason whatsoever to feel as down as he does right now. They aren’t anything more than friends, they’ve just flirted a couple—a lot—of times and that’s it. He has no reason or right to be jealous.  His pep talk to himself doesn’t seem to work, as he next blurts out, “Who the hell is that guy, anyway?”

Yoongi laughs quietly then, seemingly amused by the internal crisis that Jeongguk is going through right now. “Your ugly is showing, Jeongguk,” Yoongi reminds him. Jeongguk huffs. “It’s probably just a co-worker of his. I wouldn’t overthink it.”

“I don’t talk like that to Wooseok,” Jeongguk says, ever the pessimist. Then, just to pour more salt into the wound, he adds, “It looks flirty.”

“That’s because you’re trying to see it as flirty, because your jealous brain hates you,” Yoongi replies. Jeongguk doesn’t fight the statement, as he knows it’s most likely right—Jeongguk’s brain has a tendency to make everything a lot worse than it is, and he knows that. “Look at it this way—they’re two co-workers gossiping during their shift. And stop pouting.”

“You’re supposed to be the one who indulges me with these things,” Jeongguk complains. Usually, it’s Hoseok who tells him the facts that he needs to hear.

“Yes, but if I do that I know the rest of the night will suck for you because you’ll be obsessing over Mr. Bartender over there,” Yoongi says. Again, he has a point. “I know from you and Hoseok what Taehyung has been like with you—hell, even Taehyung’s own best friend told you to come see him. I doubt all that doesn’t mean anything at all, Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk nods, biting down on his bottom lip. Yoongi is right, of course. He doubts Jimin would tell him to come here and surprise Taehyung if he knew that Taehyung didn’t have much of an interest in him. That, or he’s reading too much into everything and they are nothing more than friends, but he’s not going to let himself consider that. Not after all the flirting.

“Okay, yeah, that makes sense,” he says in the end, feeling a little more at ease. He won’t admit it out loud, but Yoongi’s little talk really helped.

“Talk to him about it at some point, yeah? But don’t let it consume you for tonight,” Yoongi says. From his tone, Jeongguk knows that it’s the last thing Yoongi will say about the topic.

“Will do, hyung,” he says. Yoongi gives him a look. “I promise.”

Neither of them brings it up again, and Jeongguk doesn’t let himself look over his shoulder to check if Taehyung is still there, talking to that guy with the stupidly broad shoulders. Instead, he follows Yoongi’s advice and lets himself enjoy the night and the performances.

It’s almost an hour until the drag queen on stage takes the microphone and announces, “Up next, my sister Fawn will bring us some lip-syncs that are guaranteed to make everyone in the room fall head over heels for her. Please, give her a warm welcome!”

The crowd erupts into cheers, and Jeongguk takes advantage of that moment to let Yoongi know it’s Taehyung coming on next. Jeongguk can’t help but smile a little in anticipation, his eyes not leaving the stage for one second.

Just like last time, music starts playing before Taehyung comes out onto the stage, but this time around it doesn’t catch Jeongguk off guard. He’s ready by the time Fergalicious starts playing, just like he is when Taehyung appears on the stage, from behind the curtains.

Jeongguk has already seen Taehyung tonight, but once again he’s shocked by how stunning he looks under the hot lights. This time around, with better lighting, he can get a better glance of Taehyung and his look for tonight. He’s wearing some silver looking lingerie piece under his robe, covering the chest area, and some dangly earrings to match. Under the spotlights, the highlighter and glitter on his cheekbones and under his eyebrows glisten and demand Jeongguk’s attention.

Something that Jeongguk hadn’t taken into before but that he notices today is that Taehyung flirts with the audience. It seems as if every turn, every glance, every bat of his fake eyelashes is a way for him to tease the spectators and, like the queen that introduced his performance today said, make everyone fall in love with him.

Jeongguk wasn’t expecting Taehyung to notice him, he really wasn’t. He knows that Taehyung looks at the crowd during his performances, but sitting at the far end like he was, he didn’t expect Taehyung to see him there without previous notice. He was hoping he would, but didn’t want to build himself up. But then Taehyung’s eyes are lazily moving through the audience, scanning the faces that he knows and the ones that he doesn’t recognize, and when his eyes land on Jeongguk, they stay there for a second too long. It’s not more than that, just a second, but Jeongguk knows that Taehyung saw him there—Jeongguk saw the surprise, saw him look a little startled and, most importantly, he saw the small smile that appeared on Taehyung’s pink, glossy lips right after.

Tonight, Jeongguk doesn’t miss one second of Taehyung’s performances. He takes all of it in, including the glances that Taehyung sends his way every few minutes. Maybe he shouldn’t, but Jeongguk can’t help but feel special.

During all the time that Taehyung is on stage, Jeongguk can’t tear his eyes away from him. It’s only when he disappears behind the curtain again that Jeongguk looks away from it, clearing his throat.

They pay attention to the rest of the performances, of course, but it’s not the same. Everything seems a bit dull after Taehyung, so Jeongguk’s attention comes and goes. That is, until he feels a tap on his shoulder.

He was expecting Taehyung to come by their table at some point, even if it was for a quick hello, so when he turns around and finds him there, Jeongguk isn’t really surprised, but he’s happy to say the least. Taehyung smiles at him sweetly.

“I didn’t know you were coming tonight,” Taehyung tells him.

Jeongguk, who has turned around 180 degrees on his stool, rubs his hands against his thighs. He recognizes this nervous gesture of his, but he doesn’t know why he’s nervous.

“I wanted to give you a surprise,” is all Jeongguk manages to reply, shying away from his words.

Taehyung’s smile turns from sweet to euphoric, as he launches himself forward and hugs Jeongguk. It takes Jeongguk a fraction of a second to react, but he can feel Taehyung’s cheek against the side of his hair and his arms around his shoulders, so he timidly hugs Taehyung’s waist. The angle is a bit awkward—Taehyung is so tall in his heels that he needs to bend down a lot in order to hug Jeongguk, but they make it work.

“Well, it definitely was a surprise seeing you here. A good one,” Taehyung replies as he starts to pull away. The moment he’s gone, Jeongguk starts missing the warmth of their bodies pressed together. “Do I have to thank Jimin?”

Now it’s Jeongguk’s turn to smile, nodding as he says, “It was his idea, yeah.” Only then does he look over his shoulder and remembers Yoongi’s presence right behind them. He looks at them with half a smile on his lips. “Tae, this is my friend Yoongi. I’ve mentioned him before, he studies music at the Academy.”

“You have talked about him, yes,” Taehyung replies. He takes a step back and frees himself from the hug freely before he adds, “Hi. It’s very nice to meet you. I’m Taehyung.”

“Likewise. I’m Yoongi,” Yoongi replies, introducing himself with a smile.

Taehyung smiles again, walking to the free side of the table that isn’t by the wall. “So… you two are friends, right?”

Jeongguk doesn’t think too much of the question at first, as it seems innocent enough. But then he remembers what Taehyung asked last time, to him and Hoseok—are you two dating? Jeongguk puts two and two together, seeing through Taehyung’s question and figuring out what he actually meant.

“We’re not dating, if that’s what you were subtly trying to ask,” Jeongguk says, an amused smile painted on his face. Jeongguk can’t really see with the makeup and the shit lightning, but he’s sure Taehyung is blushing furiously.

“That’s good to know,” Taehyung replies, trying to ignore the fact that he’s flustered by drumming his pink nails on the table. Jeongguk knows Taehyung well enough to identify his nervousness, especially with the way Taehyung bites at the inside of his lip.

It’s refreshing to be on this side of the teasing, instead of always on the receiving end. He can be a little shit, too. And so, he decides to pour a little more salt into the wound. “Are you gonna ask me this every time I bring a friend, Tae?”

“Oh my God, shut up,” Taehyung blurts out then, at the same time he reached forward and pinches the skin on Jeongguk’s wrist. Jeongguk just laughs. “You’re literally awful. I am just making sure, God.”

Jeongguk sees Yoongi shake his head as he smiles, probably amused by the situation. Jeongguk, who keeps being pinched by Taehyung, pins Taehyung’s wrists with is.

“My arms are my working tool, Taehyung,” Jeongguk says, jokingly.

“You’re so full of shit, oh my God,” Taehyung tells him, giggling a little as he frees himself from Jeongguk’s grip. “Are you guys gonna stay for a little longer?”

“A bit at least, yeah?” Jeongguk asks, looking at Yoongi. When Yoongi nods, Jeongguk looks at Taehyung again and says, “We’re staying at least for a little while, yeah.”

“That’s good,” Taehyung replies with a smile. “I’m not gonna be able to keep you guys company all night like last time, since I promised to help behind the bar and I need to go on stage again later, but I can stay here for a little.”

The little Taehyung was referring to is no longer than fifteen minutes, but Jeongguk enjoys every second of it despite its brevity. He must admit he’s a little sad when Taehyung announces he has to go now, but he knows better than to ask him to stay—it wouldn’t be fair, Taehyung has work.

He hugs Taehyung bye and tries to hide from Yoongi the fact that he’s feeling a little disappointed now that he’s gone. Judging by the look Yoongi gives him, he’s not doing a great job at it.

“Is there anything you want to say?” Jeongguk asks, feeling the weight of Yoongi’s eyes on him.

“No, not really,” Yoongi says, but he’s still smiling at Jeongguk like that. “You and Taehyung seem to be pretty close now.”

“Cut to the chase, Yoongs,” Jeongguk instructs, already seeing where this is going. He’d be stupid not to.

“You guys are flirting,” Yoongi replies.

Jeongguk opens his mouth, about to deny it. But then he realizes it’s… rather pointless. Yoongi was there with them, he knows what he saw and he would know Jeongguk was blatantly lying. It’s hard for Jeongguk to admit these things, and so he needs to remind himself there’s nothing to be embarrassed about—so what if he has a crush? And so what if he’s flirting? It’s not like Taehyung isn’t flirting back. And even if he wasn’t, and his crush was unrequited (which, still there is a possibility it is) there still would be nothing to be embarrassed about. Emotions are human, he tells himself. It’s normal to feel things.

With that in mind, he replies, “We are, yeah.”

Yoongi raises his eyebrows, as if he wasn’t expecting that answer. “I see your gay panic from earlier about the bartender guy is gone now,” Yoongi says in response, making Jeongguk huff.

“Don’t make me insecure again,” Jeongguk complains. “I just—I think I like him. And I hope he likes me, too.”

“That’s soft, Gukkie,” Yoongi says. Then, he adds, “Also, since you admitted you like him so early on, Hoseok now owes me 20,000 won from our bet.”

Jeongguk just nods along, until it finally registers. “Wait—you guys bet on what?”

Yoongi doesn’t reply, just wiggling his eyebrows at the same time he gets his phone out, probably in order to text Hoseok. Maybe under any other circumstances, Jeongguk would have minded. But right now, after seeing Taehyung—he feels at peace. And no stupid bet is going to change that.

 

 

Hanging out at Taehyung’s seems to become a bit of a habit for Jeongguk, who finds himself there again next week as soon as they both have some free time. It’s the evening and they’re both sitting on Taehyung’s couch, and Jeongguk can’t help but think Taehyung looks amazing even if he’s clearly dressing down. He just has on an oversized black hoodie, cotton grey sweatpants and white ankle socks that expose a strip of soft skin at the end of his leg.

They’re just sitting there, side by side, and for a moment Jeongguk has the urge to just reach out and touch—not in order to do anything else, just touching for the sake of touching. Maybe bump his shoulders against Taehyung’s, maybe place his hand on his knee. He holds himself back from doing so, though, reminding himself that Taehyung and he are, after all, nothing.

Jeongguk knows that Taehyung has a roommate. He has heard a few my roommate did this, my roommate did that coming from him, although he has never met him before, nor does he even know his name or what he looks like. That is, until today.

Taehyung is in the middle of a sentence when the apartment door opens. Taehyung stops himself from talking, leaning forward on the couch so he can look at the corridor while he asks, “Hyung?”

“Hey Taehyungie,” someone says in response. Jeongguk thinks the voice is oddly familiar, but he can’t understand why.

“I’m with Jeongguk in the living room,” Taehyung announces, now sitting back on the couch. “Come say hi! You two haven’t met before, now that I think of it.”

Jeongguk hears footsteps approaching from the corridor, and then a man is appearing under the doorframe. The moment he steps into Jeongguk’s eyesight, he understands why his voice was so familiar. Of course.

“Seokjin hyung, this is Jeongguk,” Taehyung introduces him, gesturing towards Jeongguk. He then waves in the guy—Seokjin’s—direction, adding, “And Jeongguk, this is my roommate Seokjin.”

It takes Jeongguk a moment to react. He doesn’t want to seem rude or impolite, but he must admit he got quite the shock when he finally got to see who Taehyung’s roommate is. Because there, standing right in front of him with his coat still on and a friendly, lovely smile, is that guy with the broad shoulders. The bartender.

When Jeongguk finally snaps out of his daze and begins to move to stand up and bow, Seokjin stops him with a gesture of his hand. “No, no, please, don’t stand up,” Seokjin tells him. “It’s good to finally be introduced to you, ballet boy.”

From the way in which Seokjin looks at him and the words that leave his mouth, Jeongguk really has no doubt that Taehyung has mentioned him before. And not only that, but also that Seokjin probably knew what he looked like, from seeing him at the club with Taehyung. That makes Jeongguk feel warm inside, to know that Taehyung talks about him to others.

“It’s nice to meet you, as well,” Jeongguk replies. Maybe under any other circumstances he would have been too shy to ask, but now he asks, “You know who I am?”

It’s obvious that Seokjin knows, of course. Jeongguk must admit that he’s partly asking to boost his own ego, knowing that Taehyung talks about him to his friends and roommate. He can’t help but wonder what he says, but he thinks he has an idea. It probably goes along the lines of what he tells his own friends about Taehyung.

“How could I not? Taehyung doesn’t talk about anything else,” Seokjin says, amused. At the same time he says that, he looks at Taehyung from the corner of his eyes, as if to check what his reaction was.

“Seokjin!” he exclaims, his fingers wrapping tightly around his own ankles. He sounds startled.

Seokjin gives Taehyung a funny look, almost as if he was daring Taehyung to say something else. Taehyung, instead of replying, just jumps off the couch and on his feet.

“Gukkie, come here,” he says, taking a step away from the couch. Jeongguk, confused, does as he’s told. “We’re going to my room.”

“Sure, do that!” Seokjin exclaims as they both leave. “Because inviting him into your room is so gonna stop me from thinking you like him!”

Jeongguk can’t help but snort at that, watching as Taehyung turns around with red, burning cheeks and wide eyes. He gives Seokjin the least subtle look that Jeongguk has ever had the pleasure of witnessing, a clear shut the fuck up written all over his face.

He, however, doesn’t say anything, and instead wraps his fingers around Jeongguk’s wrist and pulls him inside his room, shutting the door behind them as they get in. Jeongguk gives Taehyung an amused look once they’re inside, taking in Taehyung’s flushing cheeks as he lies back against the closed door.

“Just ignore everything Seokjin says,” Taehyung tells him, looking visibly embarrassed. Jeongguk can’t help but smile widely. For some reason, he finds the sight of a very mortified Taehyung incredibly endearing. “He’s a mess.”

“He’s not the only mess from what I can see,” Jeongguk replies, teasing. Taehyung’s cheeks turn even redder, then.

“You be nice to me,” he says, taking a step forward. He lightly touches Jeongguk’s shoulder, pushing him towards the bed. “Come on, take a seat. I can’t believe I’ve been kicked off of my own couch by a traitor.”

“We could have stayed, you know,” Jeongguk tells him, sitting down on the mattress. He swallows down, taking advantage of the confidence Seokjin’s word have boosted into him and adding, “Seokjin is nice, even if he has exposed the fact that you have a crush on me.”

“Oh my God, shut up, you cocky ass,” Taehyung replies, giggling a little as he sits down on the bed. “I’m glad you like him, though. He’s a fun guy to be around.”

“I bet he is, yeah,” Jeongguk agrees. He’s silent for a moment, before admitting, “I saw you talking to him the other night. When I went there with Yoongi.”

“Really?” Taehyung asks, surprised. “I can’t believe I missed you there. You were also sitting close to the bar. I really need to pay more attention to my surroundings, Jesus.”

Jeongguk bites down on his bottom lip, considering whether it’s a good idea to keep the conversation going down this path. On one side, he doesn’t want to sound stupidly jealous—he’s not, not anymore. Even if Seokjin turns out to be a lot more attractive in decent lightning than he was in the darkness of the club. But on the other side he wants to be honest with Taehyung, especially about minimal stuff like this.

“You seemed pretty into the conversation,” Jeongguk says, scratching the back of his head. Taehyung looks at him, a bit puzzled. “Like—I don’t know. It seemed flirty.”

Jeongguk watches surprise take over Taehyung’s face, just to then be replaced by a suspicious look. Taehyung narrows his eyes at him, smiling a little as he asks, “Are you…?”

“No! No,” Jeongguk rushes to reply, aware that what was coming right after was a jealous. “Just curious. Like you with Hoseok and Yoongi.”

Jeongguk’s comment makes Taehyung laugh, probably amused by Jeongguk’s desperate attempt to justify bringing that up. “Well, then let me tell you that Seokjin and I were definitely not flirting,” Taehyung tells him. Jeongguk nods. “When I’m in drag I do tend to be a bit more flirty, though. It comes naturally to be so, even if I don’t really mean anything by it.”

“Do you really?” Jeongguk asks. When Taehyung nods, he asks further, “Why?”

“Because that’s my drag persona,” Taehyung replies with a shrug. “Of course, if I was with someone I wouldn’t go around flirting with or without being in drag, but you know… Fawn is flirtier than Taehyung. There is a separation between who Fawn is and who Taehyung is.”

“And who is Fawn?” Jeongguk asks. It might seem silly, but it’s what he feels like he needs to ask.

Taehyung sighs. “Fawn is… who I wanted to be when I was around eighteen. Everything I wanted to be,” Taehyung replies, laughing a little. “Carefree, and flirty, and fun. Doesn’t care about what others think. The kind of person that draws all the attention in the room when they walk in, you know? Fawn is… Fawn is what many teenagers want to be, I would say.”

Jeongguk nods. He gets it. After all, Fawn is a character that Taehyung created for his job as an entertainer. Fawn is someone that was born in his mind, yes, but it’s also someone that exists to be shown to the public. They are different. Even if it’s still Taehyung, Jeongguk knows they are different.

And he also knows that it’s not something automatic, like getting into drag and suddenly being like that, being Fawn. The night where Taehyung had drinks with Jimin, Hoseok and Jeongguk he was in drag, yes, but he was still Taehyung. He laughed like Taehyung, talked like Taehyung, was the person that Jeongguk got to know during the last months.

He sees what Taehyung means as he describes Fawn. And he likes Fawn, he really does—he likes the flirtiness, the carefreeness, the fun. But Fawn is not as multidimensional and rich as Taehyung is. As much as he likes Fawn, Jeongguk would take Taehyung any day.

“I like you better,” Jeongguk says. “I like Taehyung better.”

Taehyung smiles a little, then. It seems grateful, which both makes Jeongguk’s heart speed up and break a little—Taehyung should never seem grateful that someone like him.

“Is that so?” Taehyung asks, scratching the exposed skin of his ankle.

Jeongguk and Taehyung are sitting face to face, with Jeongguk’s hands in front of his crossed legs too, so when Taehyung moves his hands, his knuckles brush against Jeongguk’s. They’re quiet for a moment, Taehyung gazing at Jeongguk. Jeongguk smiles.

“It is,” Jeongguk tells him. “You are flirty and fun, too. And even if you care about a lot of stuff, I think that’s good—it’s good to care. Even if it hurts to do so sometimes. You’re smart, you’re perceptive, you’re hard-working. You’re so beautifully rounded and I feel like every day I discover something new about you. And, God, you’re so insightful—sometimes I feel like I could listen to you talk for hours. You see the world in ways that I never saw it before, and every time you teach me something new it makes me both wonder how I could never see it before, but also how a mind can see things in such a different, beautiful way.”

The moment Jeongguk’s mouth shuts, he finds himself embarrassed he said all that aloud. These are things that he has been picking up on since the moment he met Taehyung, of course, but never stuff that he thought he would admit to having observed. Especially not to Taehyung himself.

But he thinks it’s fair someone tells Taehyung, honestly. People need to be told about all the wonderful things they are, and all the good they bring to other’s life. The truth is that, since he met Taehyung, Jeongguk has felt his world shift. He feels himself being happier. He finds himself not obsessing over the stuff he can’t control. And it’s not just because Taehyung distracts him—which also happens, since Taehyung seems to be in each one of his thoughts.

Jeongguk finds in Taehyung an inspiration, as cliché as that sounds. When he looks at Taehyung, he sees someone with a passion that fought a tough way to get where he is now—living while doing what he enjoys most. Taehyung has told him about all the sleepless night he’s gone through, all the being mocked and ridiculed, all the struggle to learn how to sew or to make room for himself in a world that was scary, unknown and intimidating. It wasn’t easy for him, yet he did it. And now, he’s happier than he’s ever been.

To Jeongguk, that’s admirable. He would be lying if he said this isn’t something he wants for himself, too. Seeing Taehyung be able to make his dreams come true, as impossible as they once seemed, gives him a little hope. So now, while he works his three jobs and saves up as much money as he can, he doesn’t feel hopeless anymore. There has always been light at the end of the tunnel, there has always been a way out. He just needed help finding it. And, in a way, he feels like Taehyung is the one that guided him there.

Taehyung is quiet for a few moments, but it’s neither awkward or uncomfortable. He opens and closes his mouth a couple of times, as if looking for the words to say, but then gives up when he realizes none of them are appropriate. Jeongguk doesn’t mind, though. It’s taken him a little while to find a way to put down into words everything he feels and thinks about Taehyung, too. He can wait. Just watching the gratefulness and bright, bright shine in Taehyung’s eyes is enough.

In the end, Taehyung laughs. Taehyung laughs, and even if it catches Jeongguk off guard, he then smiles and laughs with him too. Bubbly, happy, relaxed, and in a way, intimate. Jeongguk feels like the world starts and ends in the corner of the mattress they sit on, and everything outside of it isn’t real. All that matters is them.

Jeongguk doesn’t deny it. He doesn’t deny it because, simply, he doesn’t feel the need to. Sitting together in Taehyung’s double bed, the fluffy duvet under him, makes him feel safe enough to admit each and every one of his secrets. It’s such an odd feeling, to feel like he’s always belonged in a place he’s barely been to, with a person he hasn’t known for that long. Maybe Jeongguk is rushing a lot, but his heart feels this way, and he’s done denying himself of what he feels.

Jeongguk, a bit shyly, brushes Taehyung’s pinky with his own. Taehyung looks at him, and then, very deliberately, links his finger with Jeongguk’s. Tightly.

It’s right there and then, with only Taehyung and the walls of his bedroom to witness, that Jeongguk feels like he’s on top of the world.

 

 

Jeongguk wakes up with a loud thump.

He opens his eyes and, for a good five seconds, is confused about where he is. This is most definitely not his bedroom. It’s only when he hears Taehyung talk that he recognizes his surroundings—he’s in Taehyung’s room.

“Oh, shit, motherfucker,” Taehyung mumbles, voice rough and low.

Jeongguk sits up, slowly. There was a blanket covering him, one that slips from the upper part of his body as he sits up. Thanks to the light from Taehyung’s phone, lit up on his lap, he can see Taehyung with his thumb on his mouth. Jeongguk is sleepy, but he still manages to make the connection between the gesture and the fact that Taehyung is sucking on his thumb.

“Taehyung? Are you okay?” his words come out in a sleepy mumble. He feels like he’s missed so, so much.

“M’fine, m’fine,” Taehyung replies. “Good morning, Gukkie. It’s five.”

There’s something off in the way Taehyung is talking, and Jeongguk notices it as soon as Taehyung opens his mouth. He ignores it, though, asking instead, “What am I doing here?”

“Fell asleep when I went to get popcorn,” Taehyung replies, words slurred. Now that Taehyung mentions it, he remembers that—Taehyung went to the kitchen get some snacks, and since he was taking a while, Jeongguk decided to lie down and close his eyes for a little bit. Last thing he remembers is hearing Taehyung and Seokjin’s muffled voices from the kitchen, the microwave as background noise for their conversation. Taehyung resumes, “You looked so, so peaceful, Gukkie. Had to let you—hic—had to let you sleep. Too cute.”

It doesn’t take much for Jeongguk to put two and two together. If the slurred speech wasn’t enough, the hiccupping gives Taehyung away. Suddenly, Jeongguk doesn’t care too much about having fallen asleep on Taehyung’s bed.

“Taehyung, have you been drinking?” he asks, feeling more awake.

Taehyung laughs then, leaning forward. The light of Taehyung’s phone suddenly goes off, and so Jeongguk reaches for the switch that he knows is next to the headboard of Taehyung’s bed.

With the light on it becomes even more apparent to Jeongguk that Taehyung is intoxicated. His eyes are glassy and droopy, face incredibly flushed as he sits down on the edge of the bed. He shuts his eyes for a couple of seconds at a time, opening them with a sheepish smile.

“So sleepy,” he tells Jeongguk. He leans forward, and Jeongguk has to reach and hold him straight. “You’re so cute, Jeonggukie. Do you like my bed?”

Upon getting a little closer to Taehyung, Jeongguk smells the strong smell of alcohol emanating from him. Jeongguk removes the blanket from over his body, getting a little closer to Taehyung.

“Hey, hey, hey,” Jeongguk calls. Taehyung opens his eyes again, looking at Jeongguk’s. “Come on, Tae. Are you good? Where were you?”

“At work,” Taehyung replies. He hiccups, and then adds, “I was… I was at work.”

Jeongguk frowns. “You’ve come straight from work?”

“Sometimes—sometimes we drink backstage before performing,” Taehyung tells him. Jeongguk’s frown deepens, which makes Taehyung smile. “Don’t be mad, Jeonggukie. Just for fun. Makes it easier.”

“Makes what easier?” Jeongguk asks further. Taehyung doesn’t reply right away, closing his eyes and humming, so Jeongguk asks again. “Taehyung, makes what easier?”

“Working late, staying awake,” Taehyung replies. “But I’m so sleepy now, Jeonggukie. Oh, so sleepy. Can we go back to sleep?”

Jeongguk bites down on his bottom lip. He’s dealt with his fair share of drunk people in his life, but never a drunk Taehyung.

“You need to change,” he says, shaking Taehyung a little. “Can you do that, Taehyung? Change into pajamas?”

“Nope,” Taehyung replies. He looks at Jeongguk and laughs sheepishly, adding, “Can’t move.”

Jeongguk lets out a sigh. He doesn’t want to be that guy that leaves his friend like this after drinking, especially with Taehyung as shitfaced as he is. He cracks his knuckles and makes up his mind about what to do.

“What do you wear to sleep, Tae?” he asks, tapping his finger on Taehyung’s knee to keep his attention on him.

Taehyung moves and points one hand to his pillow, replying, “My pajamas.” He then adds, “There. Under the pillow.”

“Okay, okay,” Jeongguk says, lifting the pillow and finding some basketball shorts and a plain t-shirt under it. “Do you think you can take your clothes off?”

He looks at Taehyung just to see him shaking his head. “Can’t move, Gukkie.”

Jeongguk holds back another sigh, moving so he’s kneeling right in front of Taehyung. Taehyung looks at him with curious eyes, especially when Jeongguk commands, “Arms up.”

It takes Jeongguk a little longer than it should to lift Taehyung’s top, folding it once he’s taken it off. Taehyung looks at him while he sits on the bed, and Jeongguk does his best to avoid looking at the tanned skin of his chest and torso, now exposed.

“I didn’t think that the first time you’d undress me would be like this,” Taehyung says as Jeongguk reaches for the waistband of his jeans, laughing at his own joke.

Jeongguk doesn’t reply, not knowing what to say—under any other circumstances, he would have laughed and agreed. Right now, he doesn’t want to give Taehyung any ideas. Absolutely nothing is going to happen between them tonight, or if Taehyung is wasted, no matter how much nudity is involved.

He does blush, though. He feels both his cheeks and ears turn red, and hopes that Taehyung doesn’t notice. Unfortunately, he seems to do so, since he reaches forward with his fingers and touches Jeongguk’s ears. He doesn’t say much, but entertains himself pulling at the lobe as Jeongguk undoes the button and zipper of his jeans and peels them off.

“Touch my legs,” Taehyung tells him. When Jeongguk does nothing, he insists, “They’re soft.”

Jeongguk looks at Taehyung’s legs, hairless and smooth for doing drag, but does nothing. “Maybe tomorrow,” he tells him, hoping that makes Taehyung happy enough so he doesn’t ask Jeongguk to touch again. It seems to work, as Taehyung nods and looks at him expectantly. “Can you, uh, put this on?”

Taehyung takes the shirt that Jeongguk is passing him, but in the end Jeongguk has to help him put in on, nevertheless. The same happens with the shorts, but then at last Taehyung is dressed and ready to get in bed.

Jeongguk makes sure that Taehyung doesn’t feel sick and need to pee, and only then does he pull the bedsheets back, gesturing at Taehyung to get under the covers.

“Are you going to sleep with me?” Taehyung asks. The question is innocent enough, but it still makes Jeongguk blush.

“No,” Jeongguk replies, honest. Taehyung pouts. “I can’t stay, Taehyung. I’m sorry.”

“Fine,” Taehyung replies, with a little pout. The gesture makes Jeongguk’s heart break a little, but he’s going to stay firm in his decision. “I wanted to sleep with you, Gukkie.”

“Promise you’ll text me when you wake up, okay?” he says. When Taehyung stares at him without saying anything, Jeongguk insists, “Please.”

“Okay, Gukkie,” Taehyung replies. Jeongguk, who was kneeling on the floor in front of Taehyung’s bed, then stands up and moves to leave. After making sure he’s got everything he needs with him he moves to the door, but then Taehyung says, “Goodnight, Gukkie.”

Jeongguk turns around and looks at Taehyung, tucked in bed and looking at him almost expectantly. He replies, “Goodnight, Tae. Make sure to drink lots of water tomorrow.”

Taehyung says something in response, but it’s nothing more than a mumble and Jeongguk doesn’t quite get it. He leaves the room after switching the light off and walks back to the living room to fetch his coat. There is a heavy weight in his chest, even as he opens the door and finally leaves the apartment.

Jeongguk is a little concerned, but he’s not going say anything. He will just wait for Taehyung to text him tomorrow, and promises he won’t be the one to bring it up himself. After all, it’s not his place to.

 

 

jeonggukie!! i’m so sorry about last night :(

just woke up and i’m feeling okay (although hungover lol)

thank you a lot for taking care of me~

i’m sorry you had to deal with my drunk ass i’ll make it up to you mwah!!

Jeongguk smiles when he checks his phone and sees the messages. He must admit that he feels relieved when he sees Taehyung messaged him, and also flattered he remembered to talk to him as soon as he woke up.

I’m glad you’re okay! Looking forward to seeing how you make it up to me

I must admit I was of great service last night

i will think of something

c;

Jeongguk bites down on his bottom lip, containing a smile. He has no idea of what Taehyung has planned, but he’s sure he’s gonna love it.

 

Something that Jeongguk has learned about Taehyung in all the months he’s known him for is that Taehyung, as extroverted as he is, isn’t a phone call person either. Jeongguk wonders if it has something to do with being a millennial, or if Taehyung just finds comfort in hiding behind the texting wall like Jeongguk does. Whatever the reason is, something that Jeongguk can say for sure is that Taehyung and he never call each other.

So when his phone screen lights up with an incoming call from Taehyung, Jeongguk does what a functioning adult would never do in a situation like this. He panics.

He doesn’t understand how in moments of crisis his mind can work so fast, but a million scenarios cross through his mind in a couple of seconds. His first thought is that something bad has happened, and that’s why Taehyung has resorted to calling instead of texting. His second thought is that, since it’s Monday, Taehyung is calling to cancel their lesson. Jeongguk can’t help but feel a little sad at the thought.

Jeongguk slides his thumb over the screen, taking his phone to his ear and finally answering the call.

“Hello?” Jeongguk asks once he picks up, thankful his voice doesn’t come off… croaky, or anything.

As soon as Taehyung replies, Jeongguk’s fears and paranoia all go away. That sounds way too cheerful for him to be bringing bad news.

“Hey, Gukkie,” Taehyung greets, his deep voice ringing nicely in Jeongguk’s ears. They haven’t seen each other since the whole fiasco on Friday night—Saturday morning?—when Taehyung arrived back drunk, but to Jeongguk it still feels like it’s been forever. “How has your weekend been? I hope you managed to get some good rest.”

“It was lovely, yeah,” Jeongguk tells him. Even if he’s not really nervous anymore, he’s still  intrigued about why Taehyung called. He forces himself to make some small talk before directly asking Taehyung why he called; he doesn’t want to come across as rude. “How was yours?”

“Busy, but that’s a given,” Taehyung replies, and Jeongguk can sense his smile through the phone. “Look, I know we have class today but I have a proposition to make.”

Jeongguk arches an eyebrow, even if Taehyung can’t see him. “And what is that proposition?”

“I need to go shopping for new heels,” Taehyung announces. “Since I really couldn’t walk in them I don’t have a lot, so now I’m on the hunt for some new pairs.”

Taehyung sounds enthusiastic as he speaks, which makes Jeongguk smile widely as he listens to him.

“Is this, perhaps, an invitation for me to join you in your quest for shoes?” Jeongguk asks, teasing.

He can hear Taehyung clicking his tongue on the other end, before he says, “Of course it is.” There is a pause, and then he adds, “So, are you coming?”

“I am, yeah,” Jeongguk replies. On one hand, since Taehyung is cancelling their class in order to go shopping, Jeongguk doesn’t have anything to do. And on the other hand, the offer to spend time with Taehyung is way too tempting for him to pass up. “When and where?”

They agree on a time, and Taehyung gives him an address that Jeongguk, unsurprisingly, doesn’t recognize. With that, they hang up.

It’s not time to leave yet, so Jeongguk decides to… put a little effort into his appearance. It’s not like he properly dresses up—he’s not a fan of being all over the top, if he’s honest—but he does put on his favorite pair of black jeans, alongside his nice leather jacket. He even takes the time to properly style his hair, parting it so it shows his forehead.

Oddly enough and despite having known each other for months now, Jeongguk still feels nervous before meeting Taehyung. Especially if it’s outside of classes, on occasions that it feels almost like… date-y. It’s not the kind of nervousness that could be mistaken with anxiety, the kind that grows ugly inside his chest and makes it hard for him to function. Instead, it’s a thrill. It’s excitement. Jeongguk looks forward to meeting Taehyung, always. But when it’s in settings where he can properly get to know him further, that excitement grows exponentially.

He makes sure to leave the house with enough time in order to not be late, but despite getting there a few minutes earlier than they had agreed, Taehyung is already waiting for him there. He’s wrapped up in what Jeongguk knows is his favorite wool coat, a thick scarf keeping him warm all the way up to his nose. The sight makes Jeongguk’s heart swell a little.

“Hey there,” he greets with a smile.

Taehyung looks up from his phone, and even if Jeongguk can’t see his mouth, he knows Taehyung is grinning by the way his eyes crinkle at the corner. “Hello, you. You look good today,” Taehyung compliments.

The praise makes Jeongguk feel like he’s blushing, even if he knows his cheeks are already red from the cold. A leather jacket might not have been the smartest choice for the cold February weather, but he can’t bring himself to regret it after Taehyung has praised his appearance already. He feels like it was worth putting that extra effort in.

“Thank you,” he replies, smiling clumsily as he scratches the back of his neck. “You look lovely, too.”

It wouldn’t be a lie under any circumstances. Jeongguk thinks that Taehyung always looks lovely—be it during their lessons, when he’s dressed down and with his hair pulled back with a headband, while he’s in drag or right now. There is something so terribly endearing about seeing Taehyung all wrapped up in his warm clothes. It makes Jeongguk want to scoop him into his arms so they can both keep each other warm.

Taehyung smiles, this time around hooking his scarf with his fingers and pulling it down, revealing a wide and boxy grin.

Jeongguk has seen Taehyung barefoot before and he knows his feet aren’t precisely small, so he figured he’d have a few problems trying to find heels his size in physical stores. He didn’t take into consideration something very obvious—there were stores made for drag performers. As soon as they go in, Jeongguk is bombarded by a lot. The store is small, so it feels like everything is cramped inside. There are wigs, shoes with heels of at least five inches; there’s a wide selection of makeup, and there are all of the of lavish and sometimes, flamboyant costumes. Jeongguk looks in wonder to the products around himself, to the point he misses the person behind the cashier walking up to them.

They don’t stay at the store for too long. Taehyung instantly seems to fall in love with some red stilettos, asking Jeongguk how they look on him as he tries them on. Jeongguk is not quite sure of what to say—he doesn’t care much about fashion and the one time he’s ever worn heels was at Taehyung’s, so he’s not quite sure. What he knows, though, is that Taehyung looks good in them: his legs look impossibly long, and he’s much taller than Jeongguk when he comes closer to him. Jeongguk would be lying if he said the fact that Taehyung towers over him like that doesn’t make him swallow down thickly.

After that, they find a small café to have a drink, and not long after that, they end up back at Taehyung’s. Jeongguk has to hold himself back from reaching out and holding Taehyung’s hand as they walk side by side, since he’s not quite sure if that is something that Taehyung would be okay with. Jeongguk’s hand itches a little, but he just clenches his fists and wills it away. They are friends, and this is definitely not a date.

When they reach Taehyung’s apartment they move to the bedroom, Taehyung once again opening the box with the heels and looking at them again. He looks happy with his purchase, which makes Jeongguk smile as he watches him.

“I’m gonna try them on again,” Taehyung starts, reaching down and taking his socks off. “I’m so in love, fuck.”

Jeongguk laughs a little, leaning back on the bed and balancing his weight on his palms. “You should properly try them on,” he suggests, looking at Taehyung.

“How do you mean? I’ve already tried them,” Taehyung says, looking at him with a confused frown.

“Well, you know,” Jeongguk replies, shrugging a little. “Lipsync for your life or whatever.”

At that, Taehyung bursts into giggles. He raises an eyebrow and says, “Someone has been doing his homework and watching a certain show, haven’t you?”

Jeongguk feels his cheeks go bright red, having been so easily caught in his reference. “It kept coming up when I googled drag queens,” he explains, mumbling. Taehyung’s smile widens. “I might have watched a couple of episodes.”

“Okay, yeah,” Taehyung says, nodding. “I pick the song, since I need to lip sync, after all.”

Jeongguk agrees, reluctantly. He would be lying if he said he hasn’t thought of a couple of songs that he’d love to see Taehyung perform to, but Taehyung is right—he can’t lip sync to a song if he doesn’t know the lyrics. “That’s fine,” Jeongguk ends up saying, nodding. “So you’re doing it?”

“Yes,” Taehyung replies, as he starts moving towards the door with his phone in his hand. Jeongguk looks at him with a frown, and Taehyung explains, “I need to get ready.”

Taehyung doesn’t close the door, he just walks out of Jeongguk’s sight. Jeongguk can hear him fumble around right next to the door from where he’s sitting on Taehyung’s bed, looking at him while he plays with his fingers. He enjoys watching Taehyung perform a lot, and even if he knows it’s not going to be the same (because of acoustics, because there is no stage, because Taehyung is not in drag) he is oddly excited about this.

The music starts playing before Taehyung walks back into the room. Jeongguk recognizes Paula Abdul’s Vibeology as soon as it starts playing, the song choice making something stir inside of Jeongguk. Not what he would have chosen himself—Jeongguk thinks that Taehyung fits Christina Aguilera the best, if he is completely honest—but good nevertheless. Very, very good.

Taehyung’s leg is the first part of him that Jeongguk sees, then. It peeks out from the doorframe, the bright red heel adorning his foot. It takes him a second to notice, but once he manages to drag his eyes away from the colorful shoes, Jeongguk’s eyes widen and he has to swallow down thickly. Taehyung isn’t wearing his jeans anymore. That, in front of him, is Taehyung’s bare leg.

His brain goes quite literally blank, there. He watches with his mouth open as Taehyung appears from behind the door frame, still wearing the striped shirt from before, but with nothing else—that Jeongguk can see—except for the high heels, and probably underwear under it.

Jeongguk had noticed how oversized Taehyung’s shirt was before, but now it feels awfully big. It goes down to his mid-thighs, covering the skin from Jeongguk’s greedy eyes. His gaze keeps wandering up until it reaches Taehyung’s face. When he does, the expression in Taehyung’s eye looks knowing, and almost teasing. That is what makes Jeongguk think that maybe Taehyung didn’t take the jeans off because of comfort, as Jeongguk had assumed, since he knows dancing with jeans isn’t the easiest thing ever. It makes Jeongguk wonder if Taehyung took the jeans off because he knew Jeongguk would react like this.

Abruptly, Taehyung turns around and closes the door with a twirl. He springs back around as quickly as before, facing Jeongguk once again as he mouths along to a let’s get it.

It’s easy to tell just from looking at Taehyung that he’s not really taking it seriously. The exaggerated movements and the rough lip syncing is an immediate giveaway, along with the occasional smile that slips as he looks at Jeongguk’s reaction to his performance.

However, the smile slowly melts off Jeongguk’s face as he keeps watching Taehyung. Vibeology, now you ask, what does it mean?, Taehyung mouths along as he gets down on his knees. Jeongguk freezes then, eyes boring into Taehyung’s as he watches Taehyung crawl towards him. He feels his cheeks go bright red, especially as Taehyung rests his palms on his knees and spreads them apart, lip syncing to, it’s the study of the chemistry between you and me.

Jeongguk’s heartbeat spikes, and he swears he can feel his head spin as Taehyung gets back up on his knees. With a hand on the collar of his t-shirt, Taehyung pulls Jeongguk down, bringing him closer. Jeongguk feels almost overwhelmed by Taehyung’s smell, but especially by the way their lips almost brush as he keeps up with the lip syncing.

Taehyung lets go, and only then does Jeongguk realize that he was holding his breath. He watches Taehyung sit back on his ass, resting his weight on his palms as he slightly spreads his legs. Not enough for Jeongguk to see anything other than just a hint of Taehyung’s black boxer briefs under his long shirt, but definitely enough to make him blush.

Your body is pumped next to me, Taehyung keeps mouthing along, his eyes very deliberately boring into Jeongguk’s. Jeongguk bites down on his bottom lip, and Taehyung mouths, you got that sensuality.

It’s then that Jeongguk lets out a sound. He says, “Taehyung.” It sounds almost tortured, and he would be lying if he said he didn’t feel a little bit like that. Taehyung has him right where he wants him, wherever that is. And Jeongguk? Well, he’s not complaining. Not at all.

It makes Taehyung smile, the song playing in the background now forgotten. Taehyung is not mouthing to the lyrics anymore as he gets back on his knees, slipping in the space between Jeongguk’s parted legs. He lifts himself up, invading Jeongguk’s space once again and bringing their faces together. Jeongguk feels a knot tighten in his stomach when he feels like their lips are about to touch, noses almost bumping, but Taehyung moves away quickly. Instead, he gets closer to Jeongguk’s neck, which makes Jeongguk even more nervous.

The air of Taehyung’s exhales fans lightly against Jeongguk’s neck, making him tense a little. He’s hyper-aware of the warmth that Taehyung’s body radiates from where he’s standing in between his parted legs. As if that weren’t enough, Taehyung’s hands then find Jeongguk’s knees, slowly starting to make their way up his thighs.

Taehyung pulls back a little then, and Jeongguk misses his body heat almost instantly. His nostrils flare as he looks straight into Taehyung’s eyes. Taehyung is looking at him, half a smile plastered on his face as he looks at Jeongguk from where is kneeling. Jeongguk tries his best to not let his expression give his thoughts away, but he still swallows down thickly when Taehyung’s hands reach the top of his thighs, getting closer to his crotch.

“You good?” Taehyung asks. His voice sounds deeper than usual, rumbly. Jeongguk feels himself weaken at the sound.

“I’m good,” he replies, amazing himself with his own ability to get the words out. He didn’t really think he’d be able to utter one single syllable. He repeats, “I’m—I’m good.”

Taehyung’s smile widens then, as he tilts his head to the right. Jeongguk lets out a shaky breath and tries his best to stay quiet as one of Taehyung’s hand presses right over his crotch. He’s starting to harden already, the proximity between the two of them and Taehyung’s breath against his neck making him feel riled up. That only gets worse as Taehyung’s hand starts palming his crotch, fingers lightly stroking his cock through the fabric of his jeans and underwear.

Unable to tear his eyes away, Jeongguk watches as Taehyung’s teeth catch his bottom lip, biting at it lightly. He looks at Jeongguk inquiringly, questions written all over his face, in his eyes. Jeongguk nods quickly, his nervousness shining through as he does so. He’s glad that Taehyung seems calm, his hand pressing against his crotch a little more confidently now.

He inhales sharply, both of them still maintaining eye contact as Taehyung touches him a little more insistent. Jeongguk is quickly hardening, his jeans feeling too constricting around his erection.

“Can I take your jeans off?” Taehyung asks then, voice hushed. It’s not more than a whisper but Jeongguk hears him loud and clear.

“Yes,” he says, nodding at the same time he speaks. “Yes, please. Take them off.”

He feels his head spinning around fast as Taehyung’s hands move towards his waistband. They look long and slender as he pops the button of his jeans open, only to then move towards the zipper. He holds back a sound as Taehyung pulls the waistband down, lifting his hips from the bed so Taehyung can pull the jeans down.

Jeongguk doesn’t feel uncomfortable being there, sitting on Taehyung’s bed in his underwear and with a hard-on. However, he does feel terribly shy. Especially with Taehyung looking at him the way he is right now—through his lashes and dripping with sensuality. He swears he feels like he’s about to lose his mind.

This time around, when Taehyung palms him again he feels much more. He has to bite down on both his lips to hold back a sound, probably an embarrassing one. Taehyung doesn’t stop touching him, though—his fingers contour the outline of his dick, paying special attention to the head of it. It seems almost as if he’s teasing Jeongguk, aware that every little touch is building him up.

If the touches alone felt overwhelming, Jeongguk definitely wasn’t ready for Taehyung to duck his head down and mouth at his boner through the underwear. His eyes roll to the back of his head and he lets out a gasp, his fists clenching around nothing on the mattress. Taehyung’s mouth is warm, even with the cotton underwear between them, and Jeongguk feels himself die a little when he feels the wetness of his tongue through the clothes.

His eyes fluttered shut, and he feels himself turn mellow under Taehyung’s hands and mouth. It’s not the first time he’s ever gotten head, but he doesn’t remember ever getting this worked up even before he’s completely undressed. Part of him wants Taehyung to just pull his boxers down as well and finally give him what he wants, but the other side of him wants to make this last for as long as possible.

In the end, both of them give in to the urgency. Taehyung looks at Jeongguk as he hooks both his thumbs in the waistband of his briefs. Jeongguk gets the message and lifts his hips up from the bed, allowing Taehyung to pull down at the briefs. They join Jeongguk’s jeans, pooling around his ankles.

They’re both quiet for a second, with Jeongguk looking at Taehyung and Taehyung looking at Jeongguk’s hard cock. He’s fully hard when Taehyung tentatively reaches for it and wraps his fingers around it. It feels so surreal to Jeongguk that this is really happening—that he is sitting half naked on Taehyung’s bed, and Taehyung’s hand is wrapped around his cock. But then, as Taehyung starts stroking him, he’s abruptly brought back to reality.

This is very much real.

“Shit,” Jeongguk hisses, unable to contain his sounds anymore as Taehyung strokes him slowly. He lets out a deep breath, starting, “Taehyung—”

“Shh,” Taehyung shushes him. “I want to suck you off, Jeonggukie. Can I?”

The words sound like music to Jeongguk’s ear. He feels his cheeks turn even redder, images popping in his mind. He has never let himself think about this, since Taehyung and he were friends and he didn’t want to… overstep any boundaries. But he must admit that, even if he hasn’t let himself linger on the thought much, this is something that has crossed his mind. Taehyung on his knees, looking up at him with those big eyes of his, and taking Jeongguk’s cock in his mouth.

“Yes, yes, yes,” Jeongguk replies. He sounds eagers, he’s fully aware of that, but he doesn’t care. He is eager, after all. “Fuck—let me take this off.”

With the help of Taehyung, he completely strips down and frees himself from the jeans and boxers pooled around his ankles. Taehyung settles back between his thighs again, this time closer. So, so close that every time he exhales, Jeongguk can feel the air fan against his cock. He’s practically aching for it at this point, so by the time Taehyung touches him again, he feels like he’s landed himself in heaven.

Taehyung looks at him as he brings his cock closer to his mouth, lips parted. The seconds it takes for him to do so seem everlasting, making Jeongguk feel his chest tighten. He sucks in a breath then, looking down.

The first lick that Taehyung gives his cock is small, almost kittenish. His tongue drags lightly against the head of Jeongguk’s cock, making him hiss. Taehyung’s eyes flutter closed as another lick follows, this time a little more insistent, and Jeongguk can feel himself twitch. It’s not long until Taehyung gets bolder with his mouth, licking a broad stripe all the way from the base of Jeongguk’s cock to the head of it. Jeongguk can’t help but reach for Taehyung’s head then, lightly fisting his hair. He’s not pulling at it, nor is he pushing Taehyung down onto him. There is just something about placing his hand there that makes it even better.

“Fuck,” he mutters, trying to keep his voice low. He knows that the walls in Taehyung’s complex aren’t the thickest ever, just like in his. “Stop teasing, please.”

Taehyung pulls back a little, then. He gives Jeongguk a smile, a small one, but he complies. When he surges forward again, he takes the head of Jeongguk’s cock into his mouth. And, fuck.

Jeongguk’s mouth falls open into a silent moan as Taehyung slowly takes him into his mouth, bobbing his head up and down. Every time he ducks down he takes a little more of Jeongguk into his mouth, making Jeongguk feel like he’s in fucking paradise. Taehyung’s mouth is so deliciously wet and warm, and the way his tongue feels pressed against the underside of his cock is making Jeongguk lose his damn mind.

Maybe he ends up moaning a little louder as Taehyung builds up a pace sucking him off, and maybe his hand tightens around Taehyung’s hair when he plays with the tip of Jeongguk’s cock with his tongue. A string of curses fall from Jeongguk’s mouth, and now he’s digging his teeth into the palm of his free hand in an attempt to keep it down.

“God, Taehyung,” he moans, Taehyung’s thumbs stroking his inner thigh. He can’t talk back, but that is how he lets Jeongguk knows he’s listening. “God, your mouth, I—”

Taehyung moans around Jeongguk’s dick, and the vibrations make Jeongguk throw his head back as he lets out a desperate sound.  One of Taehyung’s hands moves to wrap around the base of his cock, and Jeongguk can’t help but moan.

“Fuck,” Taehyung himself says, pulling back. A string of saliva goes from his red, swollen lips to Jeongguk’s cock, and although Jeongguk knows he should probably find it disgusting, to him it seems pretty fucking hot. “God, so thick.”

The way he says it, as if he were getting pleasure himself from sucking Jeongguk off, makes Jeongguk feel electricity under his skin. Taehyung ducks down again, but this time around, instead of getting Jeongguk’s cock in his mouth, he goes lower. Jeongguk lets out a loud cry of Taehyung’s name when Taehyung sucks one of his balls into his mouth. Taehyung jerks him off like that, and after a while he lets go of Jeongguk’s ball and moves to the other. Jeongguk’s fingers are now threading in his hair, pulling a bit harshly.

He’s so entranced in the feeling of Taehyung’s hand and mouth on him that he doesn’t notice how Taehyung’s free hand leaves his thigh at first. He only notices that Taehyung is touching himself under his underwear when he can feel him moan around him again. The vision makes Jeongguk moan aloud, taking in the sight of Taehyung touching himself as he goes down on him.

He feels himself start to get closer and closer to orgasm, especially when Taehyung takes his mouth back to Jeongguk’s cock. This time around he takes him deeper, the tip of Jeongguk’s cock sliding down his throat. It’s so tight, and it feels so good that Jeongguk feels like he’s going to come any time soon.

However, what sends him over the edge is not the warmth of Taehyung’s mouth around his, or its wetness—even if they’re definitely important factors. No, what really makes Jeongguk come is the sight of Taehyung shaking a little, shoulders trembling as he gets himself off and spills inside his briefs. It makes Jeongguk’s eyes widen as he watches and feels Taehyung moan around him, putting two and two together and realizing that he has come.

“Taehyung,” he says, gritted through his teeth. “Fuck, Taehyung, I—I’m gonna come.”

Upon hearing that, Taehyung pulls back, getting Jeongguk’s cock off his mouth and leaving it right in front of his face. With the hand that isn’t down his own underwear he starts jerking Jeongguk off, fast and easy thanks to his spit.

It only takes a couple of strokes for Jeongguk to spill, coming all over Taehyung’s face. He does so with a long, drawn out moan, watching how the come sprouts out of him and falls on Taehyung’s face—his cheekbone, his lips, over his nose. Jeongguk shakes a little as he comes, feeling warm all over, and takes into the sight before him.

Taehyung looks up at him, still kneeling on the floor in front of him. His eyes are wide and his pupils are blown, probably a reflection of what Jeongguk looks like right after coming. His hair is disheveled thanks to Jeongguk’s hand, but the thing that catches Jeongguk’s attention the most are his lips. His lips are swollen, a bright red. It’s so obvious to Jeongguk, and probably to anyone who could see Taehyung like this, that Taehyung just got his mouth fucked. He looks so fucking pretty right after having Jeongguk’s cock in his mouth, and it’s making Jeongguk want to kiss him. It’s making Jeongguk want to duck down and kiss him really hard.

But before he can do anything, Taehyung moves. Taehyung sits back on his ass, looking at Jeongguk as a smile spreads on his face. It’s almost lazy, and Jeongguk doesn’t quite know what to make of it. The one thing he knows is that he likes it, and it makes him feel fuzzy inside.

“That was good,” is what Taehyung says, voice still a little strained and rough. “Like—not to blow my own trumpet, but that was very good.”

“Don’t worry, you’re blowing something else,” Jeongguk jokes around, making Taehyung laugh. The fact that Taehyung laughs at his bad, terrible puns makes Jeongguk feel the urge to kiss him even harder, but he holds back from doing anything. “But… that was really good, yeah.”

Taehyung wordlessly smiles at him for a moment. It’s in that moment that Jeongguk realizes he doesn’t know what goes on in Taehyung’s mind ninety percent of the time. Of course, he’s no mind-reader, but with some people it’s easier to have an intuitive idea of what they’re thinking. Taehyung, however, is like an enigma to him. So perfectly unpredictable.

“I don’t have work tonight,” Taehyung starts saying then, Jeongguk raising an eyebrow. “So… Would you like to stay here for the night?”

The question is so unexpected that for a few moments Jeongguk is caught off guard and unable to reply. He stares at Taehyung dumbfounded, watching him smile deviously until he manages to speak.

“Really?” Jeongguk asks. Taehyung nods. “That—that sounds lovely. I would like that, yeah.”

“That’s great,” Taehyung says then, smiling brightly. “You can use my shower then. Since… you know.”

Jeongguk nods a little, at first more hesitantly and then with more confidence. They take turns in the shower, and Taehyung lends him some comfy clothes he can change into. After that, they order some takeout food and spend their evening watching bad TV, the two of them joined by Seokjin.

Nighttime finds Jeongguk in bed with Taehyung—a respectable distance between them, but still in bed together. He’s about to fall asleep, thinking about the day and realizing how much he’s loved all of it. From shopping with Taehyung to hanging out with Seokjin, obviously including the fact that he got a blowjob from Taehyung. There is only one thing out of all of it that he regrets—not kissing Taehyung when he had the chance to.

 

 

Jeongguk has never been one to be on his phone excessively. He, as a regular millennial, uses his phone a fair amount. However, he wouldn’t describe himself as obsessive.

That, however, changes once he meets Taehyung. Jeongguk has gone from replying to one text per day to constantly exchanging messages with Taehyung, who happens to be a big texter. And he’s so hopeless he does it even at work.

“You’ve been cleaning the same spot on the floor for five minutes,” Yoongi comments, as he happened to be doing extra hours in the same piano room Jeongguk walked into to clean. Upon seeing him in there, Jeongguk had told him he could stay for a few more minutes, as he would start cleaning from the other end of the classroom. Those few minutes clearly become more, as Jeongguk seems to be distracted.

Raising his eyes from the phone, Jeongguk looks at Yoongi. “Have I?” Jeongguk asks, not even bothering to deny it. He probably has, anyway.

“Yes,” Yoongi replies. “And you keep smiling as you text. Who are you talking to?”

Jeongguk sighs a little, aware that Yoongi knows who he’s talking. “Take a wild guess,” he replies, locking his phone and looking at his friend.

“So, Taehyung,” Yoongi says. Jeongguk hums affirmatively. “Of course. Things are going well between you two, aren’t they?”

“I would say so,” Jeongguk replies with a shrug. He hasn’t told either of his friends about what happened the other day, as he hasn’t had the chance to yet, but he’d rather not do it while he’s in his workplace. “He invited me to go at his tomorrow afternoon.”

“And are you going to?” Yoongi asks, curious. Jeongguk nods. “Remember you agreed to meet up with me and Hoseok tomorrow to have dinner. Don’t you dare ditch us.”

“Of course I remember,” Jeongguk complains, side eyeing Yoongi. “We can talk about how things with him are tomorrow. There are some updates, you know?”

“Updates?” Yoongi asks. When Jeongguk nods, Yoongi adds, “I can’t wait to see what they are.”

“You’re gonna have to wait until tomorrow,” Jeongguk tells him. Yoongi fakes a pout, but he doesn’t insist. “And now, get out of here—you’re distracting him.”

Upon hearing that, Yoongi lets out a big chuckle. Jeongguk smiles a little, too, watching his friend stand from the stool and move towards the door of the room. Before he leaves, Yoongi says, “You’re unbelievable, Jeon Jeongguk.”

 

 

As was to be expected, Taehyung is brought up over dinner, when Jeongguk meets up with Yoongi and Hoseok the following night. It’s not in a subtle or casual way, not at all—Yoongi just straight up asks Jeongguk what he was referring to when he talked about updates the day before.

Jeongguk shrugs, not wanting to say too much. “We did stuff last week,” he says, trying to keep it as ambiguous as he can. He’s not ashamed of sex, of course not, but he doesn’t kiss and tell. Hoseok and Yoongi don’t need to know the details.

“What kind of stuff?” asks Yoongi then, one eyebrow raised. Jeongguk knew they’d pry for more, but he’s still not going to get any more specific. They’re adults now, after all—he doesn’t need the validation that comes from retelling his sexual endeavors to his close friends. That’s a habit that died with his teenage years.

“Just stuff. Sex stuff,” Jeongguk clarifies, but that’s as far as he will go. Yoongi coos at that, Hoseok wiggling his eyebrows, and Jeongguk feels his cheeks get a little warmer. Before either of them can reply, he adds, “I… I think I really like him.”

“You think,” Hoseok teases. Jeongguk bites the insides of his cheeks and puffs his lips out. “And what makes you think that?”

Jeongguk shrugs, taking a shaky breath. The truth is, he’s never been too good with words. Luckily for him he has always had other ways to let his thoughts and feelings out—mostly dance. There is something about his relationship with Taehyung that makes the tips of his fingers tingle, something that pulls at the strings of his heart every time he sees Taehyung smile. He wishes he could put it down into words and explain to Hoseok and Yoongi what it is that he feels—how full his chest feels, how ever since he met Taehyung things seem a little easier and the world seems kinder.

“Well, you know,” he starts, clumsily trying to find a way to let them know. “I just like being around him a lot. Like—I enjoy his company a lot. And I have feelings for him. I want to be more than… just friends.”

He watches the smiles slowly spread on both Yoongi’s and Hoseok’s faces, showing absolute endearment. They look at each other and Yoongi raises his eyebrows, nodding his head in Jeongguk’s direction. “He’s in love,” he says, making Hoseok burst into laughter.

Jeongguk, on the other side, feels himself blush furiously. “Love is a strong word,” he says, trying to distract himself from the thought. Love, love, love. Jeongguk is no stranger to relationships, but the concept of being in love is a little more foreign to him. He’s liked people, and he has loved his exes. However, the lines between being in love and loving them—as friends, as people that he deeply cared about because of the time shared—are a bit blurred. After all, those relationships didn’t work out, and it was because Jeongguk’s heart wasn’t in them.

With Taehyung, things are different. It’s a different feeling, unlike anything Jeongguk has experienced before. However, he is wary of calling it love yet. Not because it feels premature—they’ve known each other for quite some months—but rather because he’d like to be… sure. Not only of his feelings, but also of the page they’re on.

Plus, there are a few questions that need to be solved.

“This is so cute,” Hoseok says with a smile, rubbing his palms together. He then adds, “Wait—does that mean you’re going to stop charging him for classes?”

The comment makes Jeongguk laugh a little, but it actually is something that Jeongguk has been thinking about. There are a few reasons why charging Taehyung is starting to feel a bit wrong—they are friends and Jeongguk, even if he knows he’s doing a job, feels a lot more like it’s a favor he’s doing to someone he cares for. Plus, it’s not like Taehyung is properly learning ballet from him. He wanted basic notions to improve his balance, and that’s what Jeongguk has been teaching him. Reached this point, there is not a lot more he can teach him without entering more intricate territory. It’s a talk that he’s been wanting to have with Taehyung, but has been postponing.

“I think I’m gonna,” Jeongguk says. Last time, even if it took a few days, he ended up getting a few more calls interested in his classes, that he had to decline for time management issues. He hopes that when he stops teaching Taehyung and posts a new ad, he ends up getting the same response. “I’m just…”

He stops himself then, hesitant. Both his friends look at him with inquiring eyes, and Yoongi urges, “You’re just what?”

Jeongguk sighs. He feels a little childish when he replies, “I just don’t want to see him less often than I do now.”

“I’m sure you both can find time to meet up even if it’s not for dance lessons, though,” Yoongi says. “After all, you do meet up outside of those every once in a while.”

After that, Yoongi and Hoseok keep asking a bit more about Taehyung. Both of them personally know him, but it’s not like they’ve seen him a lot or spent a huge amount of time with Taehyung. Jeongguk does talk a whole lot about Taehyung, but he doesn’t mind talking a bit more, to be honest. He has a lot of anecdotes to tell and a lot of words of praise to say about him. They want to know about Taehyung, both as a person and as an artist and performer; they want to know about his friends, his job, how his time with him is… The more they ask, the bigger the grin on his face grows.

That is, until Hoseok asks, “And do you ever worry about what he does?”

Jeongguk frowns then, a little confused. “What do you mean?” he asks, looking for clarification.

“You know, about his job,” he says. “From what I know, people from the drag scene and overall the night scene usually are involved in ugly stuff.”

Hoseok’s answer, far from making things clearer for Jeongguk, only make his frown deepen. “What do you mean by ugly stuff, though?”

“Like, drugs?” Hoseok says, clicking his tongue right after. “And alcohol issues, and stuff like that. Not saying only people who work in those environments do, but it’s a lot more common.”

Hoseok’s words feel like a punch to Jeongguk’s gut, who sounds a little bothered as he says, “That’s an ugly generalization to make, Hoseok. Not only people who work in clubs have substance abuse issues, and not all people who are involved in that scene do.”

“And I know that, but—”

“Plus, even if that was the case, that’s not a reason for me to like him any less. People have their problems and that doesn’t make them any less deserving of love,” Jeongguk carries on, unable to stop the words from spilling out. “Addiction is considered a mental illness, too. You’re just being insensitive.”

“Hey, Jeongguk—that’s not what I’m saying,” Hoseok replies to him. His tone sounds gentle, far calmer than Jeongguk’s was second ago, but without being patronizing. “All I’m asking is if you worry. Because there is a high risk in that scene. That’s all.”

Jeongguk presses his lips together, tightly, and looks at Hoseok. His expression is just as soft as his voice, understanding. Yoongi, on the other hand, just looks between the two of them and doesn’t say anything. Jeongguk lets out the breath he was holding, and nods.

“Okay, okay, yeah,” Jeongguk says, looking down. “I’m sorry, I just…”

“I know,” Hoseok interrupts. Part of Jeongguk is glad that Hoseok says that before he finds himself under the obligation to carry on. There are certain things that he’d rather not talk about, and this is one of them. Hoseok knows, and so does Yoongi. “We’re good, right? You know I never would mean any of that.”

“I know you wouldn’t, I just… yeah,” Jeongguk replies, aware he was getting in his own head. Hoseok nods. “We’re good. And I’m sorry again.”

“Nothing to apologize for,” Hoseok replies. “Come here, get a hug.”

Jeongguk lets himself flop on the couch next to Hoseok, who gives him a warm hug that Jeongguk didn’t know he needed as much. He closes his eyes and lets himself enjoy the warmth, feeling Yoongi’s hand squeeze his shoulder reassuringly.

He knows Hoseok didn’t mean any harm by his words, but they have brought many thoughts to Jeongguk’s minds. Some about the past, about stuff that can’t and won’t be changed. But the most prevalent one, the one that has Jeongguk clenching his fist, is about Taehyung and how he came home drunk that one night.

 

 

Jeongguk hates that, in a way, Hoseok’s words the other day act like a prophecy.

It’s been a couple of weeks, and after some days of the thought lingering in Jeongguk’s mind, he’s managed to push it out. The reason why it had an impact in Jeongguk’s mind was because of the day he fell asleep at Taehyung’s, when he woke up to a very drunk Taehyung after work. Jeongguk’s initial instinct after hearing what Hoseok had said was worry, but now he’s tried to… calm himself down, soothing his own doubts. It’s not that unusual for people to go for drinks with coworkers after work, right? Maybe that wasn’t that different. Jeongguk hadn’t seen Taehyung like that regularly, so he told himself not to worry.

However, it’s on a Sunday morning when all the intrusive thoughts come back to his head. It crosses his mind to grab some—late, since he knows Taehyung worked the night before—breakfast and head to Taehyung’s. It was more of a candid thought that he had in the moment, so Taehyung naturally didn’t know about it.

He can tell Taehyung was asleep when the buzzer went off by how croaky his voice is, and how slurred his words are. However, he doesn’t seem unpleased or mad that he’s been woken up.

“Oh, Gukkie!” Taehyung replies, instantly cheering up upon hearing his voice. The reaction makes butterflies appear in Jeongguk’s tummy, as lame as that is. “Come upstairs.”

The wait for the elevator to first arrive and then for it to get to Taehyung’s floor seems way too long, but Jeongguk manages to pull through it. As soon as he gets out of it Jeongguk can see the door to Taehyung’s apartment open and, standing under the frame, Taehyung.

Jeongguk can’t help but smile, as rough as Taehyung looks. He’s wearing a pair of sweatpants and a huge black t-shirt, and his hair is sticking out in ten different directions. It doesn’t stop Jeongguk from reaching forward and wrapping him in a tight hug with one of his arms, the other hand making sure their breakfast isn’t squished between their bodies.

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” Jeongguk greets him, feeling Taehyung’s deep laughter rumbling in his ears.

Taehyung kisses his cheek, body warm up against Jeongguk’s. “Good morning,” he tells him, his fingers playing with Jeongguk’s ear. “What do you have here?”

“Breakfast,” Jeongguk replies, kissing Taehyung’s cheek back. Taehyung giggles. “Can I come in?”

“Sure thing,” Taehyung replies, stepping back as Jeongguk frees him from the hug. “Come here, my savior.”

They haven’t had any intimacy over the course of the last few weeks, and they haven’t even kissed. Neither Taehyung nor Jeongguk directly mentioned the blowjob, but the flirting between them increased after that. There are more touches and they seem less innocent now. Cheek kisses have become a habit whenever they greet each other—one that Jeongguk must admit he loves.

 Jeongguk follows Taehyung inside, closing the door behind himself once he’s inside the apartment. Taehyung starts walking in the direction of the living room, but as soon as he does so he stops in his tracks and huffs.

“Let’s… not go there,” Taehyung replies, running a hand through his hair as he rests against the door frame.

“Why?” Jeongguk asks, walking up to where Taehyung is. He stands close behind him and takes a peak to the living room from above Taehyung’s shoulder. His front is not quite against Taehyung’s back, but almost.

“I invited some coworkers over before work yesterday,” Taehyung replies. “And… well, it looks like a mess.”

Jeongguk can definitely see that. On top of the coffee table there are a few bottles and a few glasses, some with colored liquid still at the bottom. Judging by the scene, it’s obvious that Taehyung and his friends were drinking here before work. Jeongguk tries not to give it too much thought—it’s normal, it’s not too odd, it’s not recurrent.

That is, until he sees what else is on top of the table. Jeongguk’s eyes widen as he spots the white, powdery remains on top of the wooden table.

Even if he’s never been in love with someone, Jeongguk has experienced heartbreak, and it’s something very akin to this. It comes in the shape of a vertigo, and then a tight knot in his stomach. He tenses up, body going still. Taehyung seems to notice, as he turns around a little so he can look at Jeongguk.

“You okay?” Taehyung asks, frowning a little.

Jeongguk doesn’t reply. Instead, he replies, “Taehyung, what’s that?”

Taehyung turns around again, following Jeongguk’s sight until he spots the coffee table and what’s on top of it. There is a tense moment of silence then, followed by a shrug coming from Taehyung.

“It’s…” Taehyung starts, trailing off after the first word. He sighs, and says, “It’s nothing, really.”

There is something about Taehyung’s dismissiveness and his disinterest that makes Jeongguk not only tense up even further, but also makes his blood boil. He clenches his fist, but keeps his anger under control as he replies, “It’s not nothing, Taehyung.”

Taehyung turns around fully then, taking one step back. “It is nothing, though,” he replies. “It’s not a big deal, so let’s not… make it one.”

“I just—I can’t see how you say this isn’t a big deal?” Jeongguk says, unable to understand. Taehyung doesn’t reply right away, he just looks down and scratches his arm in silence. “Have you done it, too? Or was it other people?”

“It was me and other people,” Taehyung replies, curt. He looks like he doesn’t want to talk about it, but Jeongguk just can’t let it go. “It’s just social, Jeongguk. I can promise you it’s nothing to worry about.”

Jeongguk wishes he could make Taehyung understand why it’s a big deal to him and why he hates this, why he can’t stand it. He feels his throat tighten and finds himself unable to speak without his voice coming out incredibly croaky.

“Cocaine is a pretty big fucking deal, Taehyung,” he says, hating how pathetic his voice sounds when he says that. Taehyung looks at him, impassive, and it just makes Jeongguk more incredibly frustrated. “Why can’t you see that?”

“Jeongguk, I appreciate you worry about me, but you don’t have to. I know what I’m doing,” Taehyung tells him, tone a little harsher now.

“This is not something that anyone has as under control as they think they do, Taehyung,” Jeongguk tells him, feeling desperate. This is something so elemental, so basic to him, that he fails to see why anyone wouldn’t get it. “I just don’t see the need?”

“It’s not a need,” Taehyung spits out. “I do it because I want to, not because I need to. I am not an—”

“Then don’t it at all, Taehyung!” Jeongguk interrupts, voice going higher. “You’re getting yourself into a pit of shit.”

“For fuck’s sake, Jeongguk,” Taehyung tells him, frowning. “It’s none of your business what I do. Stop acting like you’re my goddamn father.”

Jeongguk can’t help but laugh bitterly at that. “I care about you, Taehyung,” he replies, looking straight into Taehyung’s eyes. “I care about you and about the fact that you’re getting into this fucking shit, thinking you’ve got it all under control and that you’re too good to let it get to you. That’s not how it works, Taehyung.”

“You’re overreacting,” Taehyung replies.

“I’m not,” is what Jeongguk says in response. “The other day you came back drunk, now you’ve gotten shitfaced and snorted fucking coke before work. How often does this happen, Taehyung? Because I have a feeling it’s far more frequent than you want to make it seem.”

“That, again, is none of your business,” Taehyung tells him, defensive. “Besides, what would you know? Have you ever taken anything?”

Jeongguk clenches his fists. He starts, “No, but—"

“Then stop,” Taehyung says. “Stop acting so fucking mighty. You’re not better than me for that, so stop acting like it.”

Jeongguk’s lips part, but words don’t come out. He’s not quite sure of what to reply to that. He doesn’t think he’s ever acted like he’s better than Taehyung, much less because of his background. Neither of them move in glamorized environments, even.

He just shakes his head, taking a step back and away from the living room, and from Taehyung. “Bye, Taehyung. Have a good morning and good luck cleaning that.”

“You’re leaving?” Taehyung asks as Jeongguk starts walking towards the door of Taehyung’s apartment. He’s following close behind, taking quick steps to follow Jeongguk’s.

“I literally can’t be around you right now if you’re going to be like that,” Jeongguk replies, when they reach the hall. He turns around to look at Taehyung, one hand on the handle of the door.

Taehyung no longer looks impassive. His eyes are wide and lips are parted, a bit red from how he’s been biting on them. He’s not crying, but his eyes look a bit glassy. Jeongguk hates to see him like that, especially when he’s feeling the same way, but he hates even more that Taehyung jumped on the defense like this.

“What does that even mean?”

“I don’t think it takes much to know that cocaine isn’t good for you, Taehyung. It’s not me trying to make myself better than you, or whatever the fuck you think I’m trying to do. It’s just me caring about you and your safety,” he says. He’s hurt that Taehyung would ever think something like that of him, just as he’s hurt Taehyung is doing stuff like this. “I’m sorry, but I—drugs are a no-go for me, Taehyung. You can do whatever you want, I’m not going to try to police you, but I don’t want to be involved in any of that shit.”

Taehyung presses his lips together into a line when he hears that, holding Jeongguk’s gaze and nodding. “Okay,” he says, in the end. “Okay then, Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk waits then for a second, then two, and then three. They look at each other for all of that, and Jeongguk begs Taehyung with his eyes to just say something else, anything. He doesn’t want to leave like that. More so, he doesn’t want Taehyung to let him go like that.

But nothing comes out, and Taehyung nods and pushes his hand down, opening the door to the apartment.

“Okay,” he replies, mimicking Taehyung. “Bye then, Taehyung.”

If Taehyung replies to that, it must be after Jeongguk exits the apartment and closes the door behind himself, as he doesn’t hear any response from him. He doesn’t bother calling the elevator, but takes the stairs instead. He can’t stand to be there for one more minute.

At some point while going down one single tear falls from one of his eyes, but he doesn’t notice until he’s out of the building. He wipes it away before anyone can see, and forces himself to start walking home.

For the first time since he’s met Taehyung, there is no guarantee he’ll see him again. And for that, Jeongguk feels ridiculously scared.

Chapter Text

étoile — a classical ballet term meaning “star.” The term is used as a rank in the Paris Opéra ballet to signify a leading dancer. Étoile is considered the same rank as a principal dancer in other companies.

The only contact that Jeongguk has with Taehyung in the next couple of days is a text he sends, telling Taehyung that classes are cancelled for that week. The reason why they don’t talk anymore is not because Taehyung doesn’t make an effort—oh, he does.

Texts from him pile unread in Jeongguk’s phone, but Jeongguk doesn’t bother to check them. He focuses as much as he can on practicing and working, not leaving free time for himself or to think about Taehyung. He knows he’s not handling things maturely, the way he should. He’s quite sure he has read in Taehyung’s texts, while skimming over notifications, plenty of I’m sorrys and also please, let’s talk.

He ignores, and after a few days the texts get slower until they finally stop coming. Jeongguk can’t help but feel slightly disappointed when that happens, but he knows he has it coming for ignoring Taehyung when he tried to resolve things. This isn’t him trying to victimize himself, or trying to make Taehyung beg for their friendship. He just needs some space right now. There are some things Taehyung said that hurt him, and he needs time to reflect and reorganize his feelings.

In short, the next week is full of sulking and feeling sad and lonely for Jeongguk. Yoongi and Hoseok notice—of course they do—and they drag Jeongguk to a bar the following Saturday, once Jeongguk and Hoseok are done with work at the community center.

The bar is crowded and noisy, but Jeongguk feels a little sheltered from it both because Hoseok is sitting next to him in the booth, between him and the rest of the people in there, and because they’ve chosen the table in the corner. Jeongguk’s beer stays right in front of him, almost untouched, as he digs his elbows on the table and squishes his cheeks in his palms. He’s definitely not the life of the party tonight.

Of course, he doesn’t miss the glances that both his friends steal at them, or the worried looks they share with each other. Jeongguk knows he’s acting off, but he can’t bring himself to put up a façade and try to act like this doesn’t bother him. He’s not good at pretending, so it’s quite easy to see when something affects him. Part of him thinks that he should just move on and stop being dramatic; people have arguments all the time, and it’s not the end of the world. But the other side of him is still terribly sad about what happened the other day, and what followed. About Taehyung doing drugs, about the argument, about Taehyung thinking such things about him, about not having spoken to him or seen him for days…

It’s hard not to feel sad when he hasn’t heard the bubbly sound of his laughter for so long, he guesses. He got so used to Taehyung’s presence that now he can’t help but miss. He misses their lessons, misses Taehyung’s chipped nail polish when he couldn’t bother taking it off after a performance, misses his deep voice, or how it goes higher when he tells Jeongguk about something that excites him.

He just misses Taehyung and it shows.

“Hey, Gukkie.” Hoseok’s voice startles him then, interrupting the intense staring contest he was having with his beer. Jeongguk looks at his friend at the same time Hoseok slides his arm over Jeongguk’s shoulders, sliding closer to him in the booth. “Give us a smile, please.”

Jeongguk gives them the fakest smile possible, one that doesn’t even try to appear true. He presses his lips together into a tight smile and closes his eye, and although it makes Hoseok laugh a little, he can hear Yoongi clicking his tongue.

“You need to tell us what’s wrong, Guk,” Yoongi says. There is a beat of silence as the smile slowly melts off Hoseok’s face, and Jeongguk can feel both of them looking at him even if he’s back to staring at the table. “We just want to help you.”

Jeongguk hasn’t gone into detail about what happened with him and Taehyung, just told Yoongi when he ran into him on Monday that they had had an argument and he had cancelled their classes for the rest of the week. Yoongi hadn’t pressured or asked for more at the time, knowing Jeongguk would tell him when he was ready, but he probably worried after a whole week of Jeongguk being down and acting like a ghost. Jeongguk sighs. It’s not something he wants to talk about, but after all they’re his friends.

“It’s just…” he starts, looking for the best way to tell them. “You were right. What we talked about the other day—you were right.”

Hoseok and Yoongi look at each for a fraction of a second, sharing a frown. “Were right about what?” Hoseok asks, eyes going back to Jeongguk.

“About the drugs,” Jeongguk replies, straight to the point. He’s thankful for how loud the bar is, since he can talk at a normal volume without worrying about anyone hearing what he’s saying. “Last Sunday I went to Taehyung’s in the morning, to bring him breakfast. When I walked in the coffee table was covered in coke remains. He said he had had some coworkers over the night before.”

The three of them fall silent for a moment, probably as his friends look for the right words to say. Jeongguk wonders if Hoseok really believed in what he was saying when he asked Jeongguk whether he was worried not, or if it was just a wild thought that crossed his mind. Jeongguk must admit he didn’t think too much of it, even if he dwelled on it for a little longer than he, at the moment, thought he should have. He didn’t see any reason to worry about it when Hoseok had brought it up the last time.

It’s Yoongi who talks first. “Did he…?” he says, trailing off.

Even if he doesn’t finish his sentence, Jeongguk knows what his friend means. “Yes,” he replies, with a nod. “He said it’s a social thing and that he has it under control. It’s not that I don’t believe him—I don’t think he has a problem right now. But I—I just can’t. I know how this goes.”

“We know, we know,” Yoongi says, at the time Hoseok gives his knee a reassuring squeeze with one of his hands. “So, you had an argument about that?”

“Yeah, basically,” Jeongguk replies with a shrug. “I was upset and told him to stop. I didn’t mean to sound patronizing or anything, but I think he took it that way,” Jeongguk keeps explaining, remembering how Taehyung told him to stop acting like this father. “And then he told me that it was none of my business and that I had to stop thinking I was better than anyone else just because I didn’t do any drugs.”

“And you haven’t talked ever since?” Hoseok asks.

“Nope,” Jeongguk replies, shaking his head. “He’s tried to text me, but I don’t particularly want to talk to him. Not because of the drugs, but because I’m hurt he’d say I think I’m better than him because of his background, too.” Jeongguk stops himself, swallowing down before looking at his friends and adding, “I know I’m not doing the right thing by ignoring him, and that it’s childish of me, but I just don’t really feel like it.”

“I know it’s a sensitive topic for you,” Hoseok starts then, Yoongi nodding along. “But if you want to resolve it, you’re gonna have to talk to him eventually.”

“And we know you do want to fix it,” Yoongi adds. Jeongguk isn’t even bothered about how transparent he’s become—he’s been sulking for a week. Of course it’s obvious he doesn’t like being on bad terms with Taehyung. “Talk to him, yeah? And maybe… try to explain. He’ll understand.”

The perspective of talking about this at all doesn’t seem too appealing, but even less so to Taehyung. It’s not that he doesn’t trust him; it’s just that he doesn’t want to unload all of his emotional baggage on to Taehyung. He doesn’t need to hear all about Jeongguk’s misery and his sob story, and Jeongguk isn’t enthused about… remembering, he guesses. This is something that makes him feel emotional and vulnerable, but not in an intimate way that makes him feel connected to whoever he’s sharing secrets with. Rather than that, it makes him feel pathetic.

“I’ll see what I do,” Jeongguk says, not making any promises. Yoongi and Hoseok nod. “But I promise I’ll talk to him. Thank you, guys.”

“You don’t have to thank us,” Yoongi replies, giving Jeongguk a smile. “We’re here for you, and we love you.”

“I’m sure you guys will fix it soon,” Hoseok tells him, nodding. “Love conquers all, doesn’t it?”

Jeongguk can’t help but laugh at that, the sound genuine and foreign to his own ears. That seems to make Yoongi and Hoseok ease up a little, now that he at last has shown something other than extreme self-pity.

They’re right, Jeongguk knows that. He doesn’t know what he’s going to say yet, but he definitely has to talk to Taehyung.

 

 

 

His chance to mend his past mistakes presents itself on Sunday, in the form of a phone call. Jeongguk is startled when suddenly his phone starts ringing, but he’s especially surprised when he sees Taehyung’s name pop up on the screen. Jeongguk bites down on his bottom lip and looks at his phone, debating whether he wants to take the call or not. He’s about to let himself be a coward for a little longer, but then he remembers his talk with Yoongi and Hoseok the day prior.

He takes his phone in his hand and, before he can bring himself to regret it, slides his thumb over the screen and picks up the call.

“Hello?” he says as a greeting.

There are a few seconds of silence on the other end, almost as if Taehyung is shocked that Jeongguk picked up the call. Jeongguk himself is shocked, if he’s being completely honest with himself.

“Jeongguk, hi,” Taehyung says then. As soon as he hears his voice, something turns inside of Jeongguk. Hearing Taehyung’s voice just makes Jeongguk reaffirm himself in what he’s been feeling these past few days. He has missed him, there’s no point in denying that. “I didn’t think you’d pick up.”

Jeongguk laughs awkwardly at that, not quite knowing what to say. Taehyung thinking Jeongguk would ignore him just like he’s been doing for the past week wouldn’t be a baseless assumption to make. He just doesn’t know how to react to Taehyung being so… straight forward. There was no bitterness in his tone, and his words didn’t seem like an attack, but Jeongguk must admit that he doesn’t know how to handle such a direct approach to their situation.

“Yeah, I…” he says. He considers lying and saying he’s been busy, but he knows that’s not a good idea. Both Taehyung and he know what the real reason behind him not answering and not keeping in touch is. Lying would just make the situation even harder, so it’s definitely not an option. “I’m sorry about that.”

“It’s fine,” Taehyung says. It’s followed by a shaky breath, one that Jeongguk can hear perfectly even through the phone. “Can we talk?”

“Yeah, we can,” Jeongguk replies, shifting in his seat a little. “In person or through the phone?”

“Through the phone is quicker,” Taehyung replies. Jeongguk can’t help but feel a little disappointed about the answer—he wanted to see Taehyung in person. Not only because he finds it easier to interpret tone if he has body language to help, but also because he wants to see Taehyung. When he says he’s missed him, he means it. He’s missed Taehyung’s presence, his rambles, his voice, and even the mere sight of him. “I won’t entertain you for long.”

Part of Jeongguk wants to ask Taehyung to do so, to entertain him for as long as he’d like. He would love for Taehyung to tell him about his week—funny anecdotes with his colleagues, what kind of performances he’s been doing, what Seokjin has been up to. There is always so much Taehyung has to say, and Jeongguk wants to listen to all of it.

“Sure thing, yeah,” is what Jeongguk says instead. “What is it, Taehyung?”

“I wanted to ask about our lessons,” Taehyung says. Before Jeongguk has any chance to reply, Taehyung adds, “Since you cancelled this week… I know you probably don’t want to see me or want to be friends anymore, but I was hoping you’d still be willing to teach me? But since you cancelled last week and didn’t say anything about the next…”

“Taehyung—” Jeongguk starts, trying to reassure Taehyung that he has no intention of putting an end to their lessons or to their friendship. He understands why Taehyung would feel that way, given the way Jeongguk has been acting, but he just needed some time to reflect.

“I know you’re mad and I’m sorry about being defensive the other day. I can tell it’s a sensitive topic for you and that you’re not as clueless as I implied when you were here,” Taehyung says then. Jeongguk’s eyes widen a little at that—he didn’t know he was being so transparent. He knows that to people like Hoseok or Yoongi, who know all the ins and outs of him, it’s very obvious why his position is what it is. However, he didn’t think Taehyung would pick up on any of it. “But I just… I’m sorry if I let you down. I don’t want to lose you or anything, but I realize maybe it’s too late for that now. Just—don’t give up on me? I will stop—I haven’t since we argued the other day, because I know you’re right. I don’t know. I know you probably don’t want to hear me whining on the phone, but…”

Taehyung trails off, and for a split second Jeongguk is quiet and doesn’t know what to say. He’s trying to process everything Taehyung has just told him but it’s taking him a bit.

Jeongguk, because of everything that happened with his dancing and his family, is used to people giving up on him, letting go of him. There have been times when he has even given up on himself when he’s meant to be the person that he’s always going to be able to count on.

He can hear Taehyung sigh on the other end, and it makes his heart shake in his chest. Even if he didn’t feel the way he does about Taehyung, Jeongguk wouldn’t let him feel this way. The fact that he has feelings for Taehyung only makes his urge to reassure him stronger, but it’d be there regardless.

“Hey, hey, Taehyung,” he starts. He feels a little panicky right now, after hearing the urgency in Taehyung’s voice. He wouldn’t say Taehyung sounds desperate, but Jeongguk can detect certain… fear? Maybe that’s the word. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I know I haven’t handled things well and that I’ve been very distant lately but I—” He stops himself then, trying to find the words to say. “I don’t want to stop being fr—to put an end to what we have,” he starts, interrupting himself before finishing the word friends. Part of Jeongguk wants to believe that they are on their way to becoming more than that. Or at least were.

“Are you sure?” Taehyung asks him then. It’s slight, but Jeongguk thinks he can hear certain relief to his voice. “Look, I—I’m not gonna ask, but I can tell this is a sensitive topic for you. I don’t want to seem like an asshole if in the past you’ve…”

Even if Taehyung trails off, Jeongguk thinks he understands what Taehyung meant by that. He clarifies, “I haven’t personally had any problems with drugs.”

“Maybe someday you’ll tell me,” Taehyung says then. It doesn’t sound pressuring, but  Jeongguk still isn’t really sure of what to reply. He’s quiet for a few seconds, before Taehyung asks, “So… we’re good?”

“Yes,” Jeongguk replies, not missing a heartbeat. “We’re good, Tae.”

“Okay, that’s a relief,” Taehyung replies them. At the same time Taehyung says that, Jeongguk feels himself ease up. He would have rather had this talk in person, but he’s glad things are finally sorted between the two of them. “Our lessons are back?”

“They are,” Jeongguk says. It crosses his mind then that it’d be a good idea to bring up how he doesn’t want to keep charging Taehyung, or how he doesn’t think he really needs proper lessons anymore. He doesn’t want to say that over the phone since he doesn’t want Taehyung to misunderstand him and believe he doesn’t want to teach him anymore. “Listen, Tae—can we meet up later today? I want to tell you something.”

“Oh,” Taehyung says then.  He sounds hesitant as he says, “We can, yeah.”

“It’s nothing bad, I promise,” Jeongguk assures him. “Just something I’d rather talk about in person.”

“Okay, yeah, that sounds nice,” Taehyung replies then, sounding a little more soothed. “Where do you want to meet?”

“Can you come by mine later?” Jeongguk asks him. He doesn’t really feel like going outside and making an effort today.. Plus, he’d rather talk about this at his.

“I will, yeah,” Taehyung tells him. “I’ll be there in… a couple of hours? Does that sound good?”

“Lovely,” Jeongguk says. The moment he says that, Jeongguk starts to feel his fingertips tingle. It’s the same feeling as before, the one he’s come to get used to. He’s going to see Taehyung again. “I’ll see you later, yeah?”

“Yes, see you later,” Taehyung says. “And… Jeongguk?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks for bringing breakfast the other day,” Taehyung says. It catches Jeongguk off guard, his lips parting in surprise as Taehyung adds, “I never got to thank you for it.”

It starts off as a smile, but Jeongguk ends up laughing at that. It’s bubbly and low, lighthearted. “You’re welcome, Taehyung,” he says with a smile. He can hear Taehyung huff out a laugh on the other end of the line. “It’s no problem at all.”

“I’ll see you later, Guk,” Taehyung says then. “Take care, yeah?”

“I promise to take care of myself until I see you again in two hours,” Jeongguk says, eliciting another laugh from Taehyung. It really wasn’t that funny, but Jeongguk is glad he’s able to make Taehyung giggle like that again. “Bye, Taehyung.”

“Bye, Jeongguk. I’ll see you soon.”

With that, Taehyung hangs up. Jeongguk finds himself grinning embarrassingly wide as he takes the phone away from his ear, leaving it on the table in front of him.

He feels like, after a torturously long week, he’s finally at ease. And it’s just bound to improve when he gets to see Taehyung later this evening.

 

 

It’s not by far the first time that Jeongguk invites Taehyung to his apartment, but for some reason he feels more nervous than ever before. He thinks it has everything to do with the fact that they haven’t seen each other since the fight and part of him is scared things will be tense still. The thought of having permanently damaged his friendship with Taehyung is something that scares him, so even if he knows it’s probably not what’s going to happen, he wishes things would just automatically go back to normal.

For those reasons, the next couple of hours go by torturously slow. Jeongguk feels like every second is dragged out to ten, and by the time only an hour and a half have gone by he starts feeling restless, pacing around his apartment. He rearranges the few pillows on his couch, looks at himself in the mirror, and somehow manages to keep himself occupied until the buzzer goes off.

It startles him, probably because he’s been edging himself until he heard it. Jeongguk quickly makes his way to it, pressing the button to buzz Taehyung in as he sees him on the little screen. The image is black and white and very low quality, but Jeongguk’s stomach still turns pleasantly when he sees Taehyung there. It’s still him, even if all he has properly seen so far is a bunch of pixels.

Jeongguk stands under the kitchen door frame, embarrassingly close to the front door and ready to open it as soon as Taehyung presses the bell. He can hear the elevator get to his floor, the sound of its doors opening followed by steps that approach him. And then, at last, the doorbell.

Jeongguk is lucky that his hand isn’t trembling as he takes a few steps in the direction of the door and reaches for the handle, because he surely feels nervous enough to start shaking. It’s a lot of nerves and anticipation that has been building inside of him not for the past couple of hours, but probably for the past day. Jeongguk opens the door before he can bring himself to get even more anxious, and as soon as he does so, all the negative feelings wash away.

Taehyung’s presence has had plenty of effects in Jeongguk’s life. On one side, it has made him happier—without a doubt. Jeongguk also feels like it has made him stronger, because he has reminded him what having a passion is like and how fighting for it is always worth it. But Taehyung has also been able to soothe him, being from his pain or from his worries. What he feels as soon as he opens the door is a prime example of that. Upon seeing Taehyung there, in the flesh, Jeongguk feels like all the negative emotions he’s been feeling in regards to this meeting go away. Taehyung is there, after all. That’s all that should matter.

It’s impossible for him to deny that his heart skips a beat when he sees Taehyung there. He’s wearing all black—a beret that keeps his hair back from falling on his face, showing his forehead and eyebrows, and a black coat. Under it, Jeongguk can see a black turtleneck. He looks sharp, and probably would look intimidating if not for the gentle smile plastered on his face.

How could he not feel at ease?

“Hey, Jeongguk,” Taehyung greets him then, tilting his head to the right a little. His arms are stretched out, hands clasped at the front of his body. “It’s been a while.”

“It has been a while, yeah,” Jeongguk repeats, at a loss of words for a few minutes. “It’s… good to see you. Want to come in?”

Taehyung just nods, with a grin, and Jeongguk takes a step back to allow Taehyung to step inside. After having removed his combat boots Taehyung starts to take off his beret and his coat, undoing the buttons and following Jeongguk down the hall.

“I’m glad you invited me over,” Taehyung tells him as they walk. Jeongguk turns around then, gently taking the coat from Taehyung’s hands so he can hang it on the rack. “Although I’m a little nervous about what you have to tell me that can’t be said over the phone.”

“I promise it’s nothing bad,” Jeongguk says, repeating his words from before. He’s trying his best to reassure Taehyung, but he definitely understands why Taehyung would still feel nervous despite his words. Jeongguk’s anxious mind is the same, if not worse. “But yeah, I’m glad I invited you over. Not just to talk about that—I also wanted to see you.”

Taehyung smiles at him then, and Jeongguk mirrors the gesture. They make their way to the living room then, Jeongguk gesturing at Taehyung to sit down on the couch.

“Can I get you something to drink?” he asks, trying his best to be a good host. He’s never paid too much attention to this etiquette, since he only ever has Yoongi and Hoseok over and they make sure to serve themselves whenever they need anything. He tries to remember what his grandmother did when she had friends over, friends that would smell like strong perfume and pinched Jeongguk’s cheeks too hard. “A tea? Water, juice, soda… I have beer too, but I know you don’t like it much.”

Taehyung laughs at Jeongguk’s words, playing with the beret on his lap. “I don’t like it much, no,” Taehyung confirms. Jeongguk holds back a sigh of relief, glad he didn’t fuck up and get it mixed with something else. “A tea would be lovely, though.”

Going to the kitchen to hide and compose himself for a couple of minutes is good for Jeongguk, so he makes sure he knows everything he wants to say. Careless of him, even if he has had hours to sort through his thoughts and prepare what he wants to say to Taehyung, he spent all that time making himself feel nervous about the meeting. He quickly tries to go over everything he wants to say while he boils the water for their tea.

He’s back in the living room after a few minutes, taking the kettle, their cups and everything else with him on a tray. He finds Taehyung sitting on the couch, one leg crossed over the other as he absentmindedly scrolls through his phone. Jeongguk, who by now knows Taehyung enough to know what he does when he’s bored—or what drinks he doesn’t enjoy, even if he got a little insecure about his answers—thinks he’s probably scrolling down his Instagram feed, ignoring everything he sees and only liking puppy posts.

Taehyung looks up at him and locks his phone away as soon as he sees Jeongguk appear, sitting a little straighter on the couch. They’re mostly quiet as Jeongguk serves their tea, until he finally sits down on the couch next to Taehyung. He makes sure to leave a respectable distance between both of them—enough for Taehyung to not feel like his personal space is being invaded, especially after so long without seeing each other.

While he was in the kitchen, Jeongguk figured out it’d be less uncomfortable and also more polite to make some conversation before jumping straight into the heaviest conversation topic about the lessons. That’s why he asks, “How have you been lately?”

Taehyung nods then, saying, “I’ve been okay. Things are as always, but I’ve been feeling a little down because of… you know.” Taehyung is honest, which Jeongguk always appreciates, but he can’t help but feel a little bad for making Taehyung feel down. That’s the last thing he’d want, ever. “But yeah, I’ve been okay. What about you?”

“Same as always,” Jeongguk replies. It’s not a total lie—he’s been doing the same he’s always been doing. What he doesn’t tell Taehyung is that the last week has been a cruel reminder of what life was like before they met. Just work and home, work and home without anything to really look forward to throughout the week. “Just—a little more down than usual, too. You can imagine.”

Taehyung laughs a little, then. “I can imagine, yeah,” he says, reaching forward for the cup. The tips of his fingers lightly touch the ceramic, even if it’s probably too hot for him to do that still. “I’m glad to see you again. I feel like I have already said that, but—I really am happy about it.”

Jeongguk grins then, feeling himself get somehow shy. He can’t put down into words how happy it makes him to hear that, even if he’s a little taken aback by Taehyung’s honesty.

“That’s good to hear, Tae,” he says, the nickname slipping past his lips easily by this point. He used it before as well, during their phone call. Back then he was hyper-aware of each time he said it, scared that Taehyung would tell him not to call him that anymore. Now, however, he can see Taehyung’s face light up a little upon hearing it, so there’s no fear he’ll tell him not to use it anymore. “Since I’m also happy to see you again.”

“Jeon Jeongguk, are you trying to flirt with me?” Taehyung asks him, raising an eyebrow. Jeongguk’s eyes widen a little and he feels his cheeks instantly heat up, but he still manages to huff out a laugh to—hopefully—disguise the fact that he’s very, very flustered. “So, then… What did you want to talk to me about?”

Jeongguk is glad that Taehyung was the one to ask, instead of having to bring it up himself. It’s easier for him to talk about it and introduce the topic if Taehyung asks about it. He clears his throat, looking for a few seconds to reorganize his thoughts again. Every decision he took in the kitchen in regards to what he’s going to say is suddenly forgotten, but it’s okay. He can always wing it.

“It’s about the dance lessons,” Jeongguk starts then. The mention of the lessons immediately brings a frown to Taehyung’s face. “I promise it’s not that I don’t want to teach you anymore. The lessons with you have been my favorite part of the week for the last while, and what I look forward to the most. It’s just… I don’t know how fair it is for me to keep charging you, Tae.”

“How do you mean?” Taehyung asks then, clearly confused.

Jeongguk takes a deep breath. “On one hand, there’s the fact that you don’t want to get into something too… specific. It was just to help with your balance, which the lessons have already done, and I don’t know what else to teach you that won’t be too much for what you asked, you know?” Taehyung is still frowning, but he nods. “And, on the other hand—we’re close now. We’re friends, aren’t we? I don’t like charging friends for doing them a favor. I don’t think it’s fair to charge you anymore, firstly because there isn't much more I can teach you, and secondly because I think we’re more than just… teacher and student, now.”

By the time Jeongguk is done speaking, there's a pout on Taehyung’s lips. It’s not too much, and Jeongguk can tell it's definitely accidental—not something Taehyung has done deliberately. Taehyung looks down at the beret on his lap before he asks, “So you won’t be helping me anymore?”

“No, no, Taehyung,” Jeongguk rushes to say, feeling like he’s worded everything wrong. “I’ll help you with whatever you need. I just don’t want to have you pay me for it anymore. Because I don’t think the lessons are gonna be as… rich, let’s say, than before, and because we’re friends. This is a favor I would do for free.”

Taehyung nods then, his eyes going back to Jeongguk. He still looks a little thrown off, but not… upset. God, Jeongguk really hopes he got his point across.

“You’re a shit business runner,” Taehyung says then, making Jeongguk crack a smile. “You’re supposed to leech off people, even if they’re friends. If it were for you, capitalism would be dead.”

Jeongguk can’t help but laugh at that, feeling a little more relaxed. If Taehyung is making jokes, that is an indicator that things can’t be going so wrong. Jeongguk is going to hold on to that.

“Listen, I’m too kind for that,” Jeongguk replies, leaving his cup on the coffee table after having taken a sip. “Plus, as I said, I would feel bad given our current situation.”

“And what’s our current situation, Jeongguk?” Taehyung asks, narrowing his eyes at him.

Taehyung sitting with his back against the backrest of the couch, with Jeongguk who is sitting sideways so he can look at him. His legs are crossed as he sits, arms slung over the backrest. He promises that, when he first sat down, he was doing so properly—like Taehyung. It’s just impossible for him not to move, and not to shift into what he deems a more comfortable position. Especially if it’s his couch they’re talking about.

“Well, you know,” Jeongguk says, feeling himself struggling to find an answer. Every time he has to call himself and Taehyung friends something dies a little inside him, but after all, that’s all they are. They never talked about being or becoming anything else, even if their actions and flirting pointed towards something else. Jeongguk doesn’t want to overstep his boundaries with his answer, so he just says, “We’re friends, aren’t we?”

“We’re friends,” Taehyung says, with a nod. Something about his tone doesn’t seem like he agrees, though. Jeongguk understands why that is when Taehyung keeps talking, adding, “Do you get blowjobs from all of your friends, Jeongguk?”

Jeongguk chokes a little on air when he hears that. Neither of them had addressed it after it happened, and Jeongguk certainly wasn’t expecting for Taehyung to bring it up now. He’d be lying if he said he hadn't, for the nth time that day, become flustered because of Taehyung words.

“Well, no,” he manages to say, feeling his cheeks turn bright red. Taehyung probably can see that, and Jeongguk knows that he’s going to be teased. “Just… special friends.”

There is a moment of silence then. Things feel oddly tense, but not in an uncomfortable way. More so, it just feels like both of them are somehow teetering around what happened. It’s a conversation they were bound to have at some point, even if Jeongguk didn’t think that time would be today. Part of him feels glad, though.

“Do you have many special friends?” Taehyung asks then. Jeongguk, whose eyes are on Taehyung, can see how the other doesn’t look at him while asking that. Rather than that, he’s looking ahead of himself, eyes fixed on the kettle on top of the coffee table. Jeongguk swears he can feel his heartbeat in his ears.

“I don’t, no,” Jeongguk replies then, feeling like his pulse is speeding up. Taehyung nods, silently. Jeongguk adds, “Just you.”

Again, Taehyung nods. He asks, “Is that what you meant by our current situation?”

“Partly, but not only,” Jeongguk replies. This is definitely not a topic he was planning on talking about, so he literally… has no idea of what he’s going to say. It’s something he hasn’t even gotten around to discussing with himself at this point, if he’s completely honest. He’s been skirting around his feelings for Taehyung, and only really addressed them that one time talking to Yoongi and Hoseok. “I would say the same if we were just friends, but… I don’t know. I guess it just heightens it. Makes everything stronger.”

It’s then that Taehyung turns to look at him, at last. Jeongguk’s eyes lock with Taehyung’s, so big and brown and demanding answers. “What’s it, Jeongguk?”

Jeongguk feels a knot tighten in his throat, words getting stuck there. His mouth parts but closes again, before he manages to really say anything. The same happens a few more times, where he just tries to find a way to word and decorate everything in a way that hopefully won’t be too… revealing?

He’s scared, if he’s honest. He’s scared of saying too much and somehow being faced with rejection. But he's also scared of the fact that he’s never felt something like this before. He has never met anyone like Taehyung, and he has never wanted someone as badly as he wants him. He feels like his chest is tight.

He looks at Taehyung, at his honest eyes, and wishes he could be that sincere himself. He doesn’t want to keep hiding and running from his own feelings and thoughts—it’s been too long since he’s let himself feel without trying to conceal it in some way. Be it pain, sadness, or… love.

Maybe he shouldn’t try to find a way to decorate his words and disguise what they really mean. Maybe he should just… be honest.

With that in mind, Jeongguk’s lips part one last time. He says, “I have feelings for you. Romantic feelings.” And when he says it, he feels like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders.

Maybe it’s because Taehyung wasn’t waiting for the answer itself, or maybe it’s because he wasn’t waiting for Jeongguk to be brave enough to say it. Whatever the reason is, Jeongguk sees Taehyung’s eyes widen dramatically upon hearing his confession, pink lips parting in surprise. The mere sight gives Jeongguk butterflies, for reasons he can’t understand.

“I…” Taehyung starts. The way he cuts himself right after makes Jeongguk’s stomach turn unpleasantly. If Taehyung doesn’t know what to say, that surely can’t be good, right? “You have feelings for me?”

“I mean—yeah,” Jeongguk admits, feeling himself get more and more nervous by the minute. “Of course, just because of what happened that day back at your apartment I don’t expect you to have feelings for me, too. I thought maybe you did, because I think we’ve been flirting a little, but maybe I’m wrong. Sometimes I’m bad at interpreting the signs,” he starts babbling. “Listen, Tae, if you don’t feel the same way I do I don’t want you to feel pressured to say anything or whatever. I know that I—”

“Jeongguk,” Taehyung tries to interrupt, turning a little on the couch so he can face Jeongguk. Jeongguk, however, is too immersed in his ramble to stop now.

“I promise I won’t let this affect our friendship,” Jeongguk assures. “I might have feelings for you, but I also value the fact that we are friends, so I—"

His speech is cut off by Taehyung. More so, by Taehyung’s lips crashing against his. Jeongguk was too focused on his own words to notice the way Taehyung slightly turned around, a devilish smile on his lips as he watched Jeongguk make a fool of himself with his clumsy words. He did see Taehyung surging forward, but it was so quick that he didn’t really have the time to process it until now. Until now, that Taehyung’s lips are on his and his palms are burning against each side of Jeongguk’s face.

The position is odd and uncomfortable, and in all honesty, it’s a pretty bad first kiss. Taehyung is kneeling, towering above Jeongguk, who is sitting with his neck craned all the way up. The kiss is not more than a peck, Taehyung pressing his lips against Taehyung’s for a few seconds and then pulling back with a loud smacking sound.

When he does so, he looks down at Jeongguk. It’s embarrassing to admit that Jeongguk is frozen for a couple of seconds, arms hanging to each side of his body as he watches Taehyung look at him. But then, his brain finally processes what has just happened—Taehyung has kissed him. Taehyung surged forward, held his face between his palms, and kissed him. And that’s when Jeongguk finally reacts.

Wordlessly, Jeongguk reaches for Taehyung’s hips and pulls down gently, inviting Taehyung to sit down instead of kneeling so out of reach. Taehyung does so, sitting straight onto his ass at the time he pulls Jeongguk closer by the hand he has on his cheek. And then, when Jeongguk surges forward, they kiss again.

This time there is much more finesse to the way Jeongguk’s bottom lip slots in between Taehyung’s. It’s not just a peck, but a proper kiss—a slow and gentle one, with Taehyung’s big palm against Jeongguk’s cheek, and Jeongguk’s own hand resting on Taehyung’s shoulder.

Taehyung’s lips are everything Jeongguk imagined and more. They’re soft and pillowy, and taste like the strawberry lip balm that Taehyung is always applying, and Jeongguk has borrowed sometime. They move against Jeongguk’s in perfect sync, as if they had spent their whole lives kissing and this wasn’t only their first.

And God, the way it makes Jeongguk feel. He’s always been skeptical about all the fireworks and clichés that he’s read about, since all of his previous kisses had never been anything that special. But kissing Taehyung finally makes him understand why kissing someone can be the big deal some people make it out to be. He remembers aching to press their lips together the night Taehyung sucked him off, and fuck, doesn’t he regret not doing it sooner now. He feels closer to Taehyung now than he’s felt to anyone, ever. And he likes it.

Jeongguk isn’t sure about for how long they kiss, but what he knows is that it feels insufficient when they finally part for air. His eyes flutter open and he looks at Taehyung again, taking into his pink lips. Just watching them and remembering how they felt against his own makes Jeongguk’s fingertips tingle.

“I…” Jeongguk tries to start, but he trails off. “Wow.”

Taehyung gives him a look, one that is midway between playful and teasing. “I have feelings for you,” Taehyung says. The words make Jeongguk remember his embarrassing ramble from a couple of minutes ago, but he can’t bring himself to be ashamed right now—he’s too euphoric. Plus, it got him a kiss.

The reassurance is nice, but after the kiss, Jeongguk figured that much on his own. He doubts anyone can kiss like that without feeling something for the person they’re kissing.

“Good,” is all Jeongguk can bring himself to say. Taehyung cracks a smile.

“Good?” he asks.

“Good,” Jeongguk repeats. “Otherwise I’d be pretty fucking confused right now.”

Taehyung laughs at that, surging forward and pulling Jeongguk into a hug. His hands wrap around Jeongguk’s shoulders as they always do, Jeongguk reaching forward to hold his waist. Their legs are in the way and it’s a bit uncomfortable, but they make it work.

They spend the rest of the evening like that; laughing, talking, and kissing. Lots of kissing. By the time they get back to their tea it has long ago gone cold, but Jeongguk doesn’t really care. He’d rather get a taste of Taehyung’s lips before the same tea he drinks nearly every day, he thinks.

Taehyung peppers kisses on his cheeks, the corner of his mouth, and then directly on his lips. And God, Jeongguk knows for sure now—there’s no way anyone can stop him from falling in love.

 

 

After that one evening at Jeongguk’s apartment, both of them slip into an easy—if still not quite defined—situation with each other. They see each other often, around twice or thrice a week, even if they don’t have lessons anymore. Things are not very platonic between them anymore either. Their time alone is often spent kissing, and on a couple of occasions thing escalated between them, which resulted in messy and quick handjobs. Nothing like what had happened that night at Taehyung’s happens again, and Jeongguk doesn’t know if he should be grateful for that or not. On one side, he’s somehow relieved—he’s shy. On the other side, he’s craving Taehyung in every single way a person can crave another.

Even if they don’t name it, Jeongguk likes what they are. After a couple of weeks Taehyung invites him to come see him at one of his performances again, an invitation that Jeongguk accepts happily.

“It’s at the same bar as always,” Taehyung tells him. “But they’re letting me do a completely live set today, so I’m feeling pretty lucky about that.”

Jeongguk can tell that it’s important for Taehyung and so he promises to be there. Taehyung asks him to bring either Hoseok or Yoongi, or maybe even both, and Jeongguk accepts happily. He likes to see his friends and Taehyung interact, become friends themselves. He’s also positive Jimin will be there, as he usually seems to be when has an important performance ahead of himself, so Jeongguk is sure Hoseok will be more than happy to see him.

Which is how Jeongguk finds himself in the same bar as the previous times, sitting by a table with a good view of the stage with Jimin, Hoseok and Yoongi. Hoseok has been trying to get Jimin to tell them some hints about what Taehyung is doing tonight, be it look-wise or what songs he’ll be singing, but Jimin isn’t giving anything away.

“He would kill me if I told you,” Jimin defends himself, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning back in his seat. “He wants it to be a surprise.”

“A surprise for Jeongguk,” Hoseok insists from where he’s sitting next to Jeongguk and opposite Jimin. “You call tell me. I promise I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

“No way, hyung,” Jimin replies, an amused smile appearing on his face. He probably finds Hoseok’s persistence funny, something Jeongguk completely shares right now. “You’re probably gonna tell him the moment I turn around.”

“I wouldn’t,” Hoseok replies, feigning offence. He looks at Jeongguk, who just wiggles his eyebrows at him.

“You so would,” Jimin insists. “You guys are on some three musketeers shit. Plus, I promised Taehyung I wouldn’t say anything at all, so I’m sticking by my word.”

Hoseok insists a little more, but Jimin just smiles and turns to Yoongi, talking to him and very deliberately ignoring Hoseok.

It doesn’t take too long for Taehyung to come on stage after that. As always, Jeongguk finds himself being blown away both by Taehyung’s change when he’s in drag and by how beautiful he looks, overall. He’s wearing a red wig today, the color vibrant against his honey skin. The red strands fall in carefully done waves over his shoulders, all the way down to his cinched waist. It’s a stark contrast to the black dress he wears, a tight and long one that reaches all the way down to the floor. The dress has plenty of cut outs—one that brings his neckline down to his waist, two under his arms to show off his ribs, and two bigger ones in the skirt that make his legs peak in between the fabric with each step. Taehyung holds on to one of the edges of the skirt, making sure the flowy fabric moves behind him as he walks.

Jeongguk bites down on his bottom lip as he takes in the sight of Taehyung’s tanned, long legs. He finds himself wanting to run his hands over his calves, can almost imagine how tickly Taehyung would get when his fingertips get to his thighs.

He, however, doesn’t let himself get too stuck in those thoughts. Taehyung is now by the mic, introducing himself and his performance with a smile. He happily announces he’ll be singing five live songs tonight, something that makes Jeongguk grin widely as the crowd erupts into cheers.

In all honesty, Jeongguk couldn’t think of a better way to spend his free evenings than listening to Taehyung’s husky, velvety voice live. As for the song choices, Jeongguk knows that when he’s performing, Taehyung’s choices are way more limited than he’d like. Because of the setting and what clients expect from a drag queen, Taehyung sticks to pop songs by female artists for his performances. Jeongguk knows that Taehyung listens to a lot more than that; he’s a big jazz fan, and has a huge soft spot for John Legend. However, according to Taehyung the bar owners don’t think that kind of music is suitable for performances.

Taehyung gets away with a few ballads for tonight, though. Jeongguk confirms the suspicion he had that Taehyung absolutely loves Christina Aguilera as he listens to him sing Beautiful, followed by a couple of other ballads from the 00s. He finishes with Someone Like You by Adele, and Jeongguk can’t help but feel warm inside as he watches him. His voice is low and husky, in a way that makes the environment feel… intimate, even. It’s not perfectly smooth, but it still has a velvety quality to it that makes Jeongguk feel cozy just from listening to him sing.  It occurs to Jeongguk then that Taehyung’s voice is the kind of voice he’d love to listen to right before going to sleep, or on a rainy afternoon with no responsibilities to face whatsoever.

Plus, watching Taehyung perform is a joy as well. His eyes flutter closed when he sings, and it’s clear on his face and expression that he’s feeling every single lyric of the songs he’s singing to. Part of Jeongguk wishes he could see Taehyung singing without any of the makeup on—just so he could really see.

The performance eventually ends, and the room bursts into cheers and applause. Jeongguk can’t wipe the stupidly proud smile away from his face, and he knows it’s going to cause both Hoseok and Yoongi to tease him later on.

Taehyung disappears from the stage, and Jeongguk misses him the moment he’s out of sight. He knows that Taehyung will join them shortly and spend some time with them, or at least that’s what he told Jeongguk, but he can’t help but miss.

Yoongi goes out for a smoke break eventually, accompanied by Hoseok. That leaves Jeongguk and Jimin alone, but it’s not unpleasant for Jeongguk. Jimin is easy-going and nice to be around, and it’s not the first time they’ve met. Jeongguk finds himself comfortable around Jimin, so he doesn’t mind being alone.

It’s during said break that Jeongguk spots Taehyung again. He’s not on stage now, obviously, since there is another person performing now. He sees him by the bar area, talking to that one guy that Jeongguk remembers from the first time he came to the club, the bouncer. Namjoon, maybe?

Taehyung, still in his high heels, ducks down a little so Namjoon can whisper something in his ear. Whatever it is must be pretty funny, since it makes Taehyung laugh a lot as he slaps Namjoon’s arm. Jeongguk’s lips are pulled out into a pout before he can help himself.

It looks flirty.

Jimin notices, looking behind his shoulder to try to find out what’s got Jeongguk sulking like that. As Jeongguk looks at him, he can see Jimin’s expression turn from curiosity to something akin to amusement, a small smile making its way to his lips.

“Jeon Jeongguk,” Jimin starts then. Jeongguk sits up a little straighter upon hearing Jimin use his full name. “Are you jealous?”

The question makes Jeongguk blush furiously, even if Jimin’s tone isn’t necessary accusatory. There are just so many toxic connotations that come with jealousy, Jeongguk believes, and he in no way wants to fall under that. But, at the same time, he can’t deny that he might feel… well, a little bit jealous.

“No—yes? No,” Jeongguk replies. He watches Jimin raise his eyebrows at him, smile widening a little upon hearing his answer. “I mean—I think so? But it’s not, like, possessiveness. I’m not like that,” he tries to explain. Jimin looks at him with inquiring eyes, urging him to continue. “I just… Does it look flirty to you?”

Upon hearing that, Jimin starts laughing. He turns around in his seat again, facing Jeongguk completely to reply, “Fawn is flirty.” Jeongguk frowns a little. “Taehyung has told you about how that’s not him but his persona, right? The same person, but also not the same person.”

“He has, yeah,” Jeongguk replies, quickly. “I know about that. I just wanted to know if he, you know…”

“If he’s interested in Namjoon?” Jimin finishes once Jeongguk trails off. Jeongguk shrugs—he’s not quite sure of what he was exactly going to say, but it probably went along those lines. “I can assure you he’s not. He is interested in you, Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk feels his cheeks get hotter when Jimin says that. “I’m happy to hear that, then,” he says. He can understand the separation between Fawn and Taehyung, he does. He just needed… some reassurance, he guesses.

“He just flirts when he’s in drag because that’s the persona he has created, but I can assure you there is nothing behind it—not from Namjoon’s end, either,” Jimin tells him with a smile. Jeongguk nods, and then, Jimin adds, “He’s too in love with you for it to mean something, anyway.”

Jeongguk’s eyes widen at that, taking into the words Jimin has just uttered. Too in love for it to mean something. Something about it sounds too good in Jeongguk’s ears for it to be true, but God, he wishes. Jimin is Taehyung’s best friend, so he’d know these things, right…? He wouldn’t say that lightly.

He is tempted to ask further, but he knows Jimin won’t say anything else. He can tell by the way Jimin smiles mischievously at him before bringing his glass closer to him, plump lips wrapping around the black straw.

He doesn’t ask about it, nor does he tell Hoseok or Yoongi when they’re back. But that night, for not even one minute do those words leave Jeongguk’s mind. Not even when Taehyung comes to them a few minutes later, pressing a kiss against Jeongguk’s cheek that leaves a big, red mark behind.

Taehyung sits by his side, and for the rest of the night, Jeongguk finds himself unable to look away from him. And it’s right then that he realizes that maybe he’s feeling a bit too in love, as well.

 

 

As someone who works in the club scene, Taehyung is not one to usually take Saturdays off. They’re without a doubt the best day for him to perform, so upon realizing that Yoongi’s birthday and the celebratory drinks that come with it fall on a Saturday, Jeongguk tells Taehyung he can try to move the small get together they’ll be having to other day that week. Taehyung, however, refuses.

“His birthday is on Saturday,” he insists, crossing his arms over his chest and looking at Jeongguk. They’re both just as stubborn as each other, but this time around Jeongguk has the feeling that he will be the one who ends up giving in. “I can take the day off.”

“Are you sure?” Jeongguk asks, still feeling doubtful. “It can easily be rearranged if it doesn’t work well for you.”

“But it does,” Taehyung insists, almost protesting. “I got this, don’t worry.”

And that’s how they found themselves together in a bar two weeks later, along with Hoseok and Yoongi. It’s not by any means an extravagant birthday party, but that’s not really Yoongi’s style either. He had asked both Hoseok and Jeongguk out on the weekend of his birthday, offering to buy them drinks, and also asked Jeongguk to bring Taehyung along. Jeongguk would be lying if he said that the fact that Yoongi invited Taehyung felt, in a way, meaningful. On one side, because it means Taehyung and his friends get along well enough for Yoongi to want to invite him to his birthday celebration. On the other side, because somehow it feels as if his friends started to think about them as a unit. Jeongguk won’t admit it out loud, but he kind of wants to be TaehyungAndJeongguk instead of just Taehyung and Jeongguk.

The night goes well, Jeongguk would say. Taehyung fits into his little, tight group of friends easily, and he gets along with both of Jeongguk’s best friends well. They grab a table at the corner of a bar for the four of them, and spend the rest of the night laughing and talking as the bottles of soju pile in front of them.

Jeongguk doesn’t even notice he’s slid in the booth and crossed all the distance between himself and Taehyung until Taehyung slings one of his legs all over his lap. It’s not unpleasant—Jeongguk tangles his own legs in a way that won’t allow Taehyung to pull back, and gets even closer so Taehyung can slide his arm over Jeongguk’s shoulders. The proximity allows for them to squeeze each other’s fingers as they talk, or for Taehyung to use his hand to play with his ear absentmindedly. Had it been anyone else pinching his lobe and playing with his piercings, Jeongguk would probably be rather annoyed. But as always, when it’s Taehyung that it comes from, he feels himself literally melt.

The placement of their table makes Jeongguk feels some sort of intimacy, even if they’re not really hidden from anyone. Taehyung must feel the same, if the way he every so often leans in to press a big, loud kiss to Jeongguk’s cheek is anything to go by. Jeongguk likes it, but he likes it even more when he moves his head a little and steals a kiss to his lips instead.

They’re a little bit all over each other, but Hoseok and Yoongi are kind enough not to mention anything about it and let them be instead. Despite the bottles of soju in front of them, they had a big dinner before coming, so Jeongguk isn’t feeling particularly affected by the alcohol. Taehyung is the same—he’s a little more disinhibited, just as Jeongguk himself is, but definitely not close to drunk. Enough to keep all of his judgement, Jeongguk would say.

Time to go home eventually comes for all of them, though. None of them brought their cars, the premise of a night of drinks ahead of them keeping them from doing so. Taehyung and Jeongguk are still clinging to each other, and it’s then, as they walk out, that Jeongguk moves to Taehyung’s ear and whispers, “Do you want to stay the night at mine tonight?”

He can hear Taehyung giggle before he replies, “Yeah.” It comes easy and content, and something about it makes Jeongguk’s heart feel happy. “What’s got you asking?”

“I like to spend time with you,” Jeongguk replies, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. In a way, it is—he’s made it clear how much he enjoys Taehyung’s company. “Also, it’s late and you live far away.”

“Wow, he worries about my wellbeing,” Taehyung replies, with a giggle. Jeongguk smiles a little as another kiss is pressed to his ear. “Take me to yours, then.”

They walk with Hoseok and Yoongi for a while, but eventually the time to part ways comes. Jeongguk gives Yoongi a hug and reminds him he’s getting old, which only makes Hoseok laugh as Yoongi gives him a dirty look. Taehyung wishes Yoongi a happy birthday one last time, even if it’s already past midnight and therefore not his birthday anymore. They say their goodbyes to Hoseok and, after that, start walking to Jeongguk’s place.

There is something incredibly intimate about walking hand in hand with Taehyung in the middle of the night. Jeongguk’s area is not as busy as one would expect from Seoul, and especially now at night, no one is in sight. Not much can be heard as they walk next to each other, their fingers linked. Jeongguk steals a look at Taehyung, his smiling face bathed by the yellowish look of a streetlight, and hears his heart scream at him to kiss him.

Jeongguk has spent all of his life listening to people talk about connections. It’s all over movies and books—how some people meet and, suddenly, they’re each other’s it. Jeongguk has always been a pessimist disguised as a realist, and since he had never experienced such a thing, he always wondered about the… validity of that kind of bond.

Right now, he doesn’t know if he’s going to stay with Taehyung forever. Hell, he doesn’t even know if they’re ever going to get out of this limbo they are in right now, take a step further and put a name to what they are. But what he knows for sure is that there is a connection. He looks at Taehyung and realizes he has never felt so delightfully linked to someone before.

Jeongguk looks down at their joint hands and squeezes. Taehyung smiles, glancing at him.

“You okay?” Taehyung asks.

“I’m fine,” Jeongguk replies. He tugs at their arms, bringing Taehyung closer. “I’m perfect.”

Taehyung laughs, letting Jeongguk pull him into a hug. It’s not a long walk they have left, but it definitely takes them more than it usually would because of how affectionate Jeongguk gets. He hugs, kisses and clings to Taehyung continuously, making him laugh.

“I can’t walk like this, Gukkie,” Taehyung complains, but he does nothing to pull Jeongguk away or to move himself.

“Should I let go then?” Jeongguk asks, his grip around Taehyung’s arms loosening slightly as he pulls back a little.

“No!” Taehyung quickly replies, pressing himself against Jeongguk again. Jeongguk can’t help but snicker as he tumbles back a little. “You’re warm. Keep me warm.”

It takes longer than it should, but they do get to Jeongguk’s apartment eventually. They step into the elevator, and while Jeongguk steps inside and presses the button to his floor, Taehyung looks at him with a big, expectant smile.

“Is there something you need, mister?” Jeongguk asks, arching an eyebrow at Taehyung as he hears the elevator doors close behind him.

“I might have a request,” Taehyung replies then, moving to tuck some hair behind his ear. The strand is too short to stay in place, so Jeongguk watches, endeared, at how it bounces back to its previous place when Taehyung’s fingers let go of it.

“And what would that be?” Jeongguk asks, already taking a step forward.

“I would like a kiss,” Taehyung replies, saying exactly what Jeongguk thought he would ask for. Jeongguk smiles, resting his hands on Taehyung’s narrow hips and getting closer. “Pretty please.”

Jeongguk huffs out a laugh. “Wish granted,” he replies, as he starts to lean in.

Taehyung meets him halfway, surging forward and pressing his lips against Jeongguk’s in a kiss that starts as slow and sweet. It doesn’t necessarily turn into anything heated while they’re in the elevator, but Jeongguk knows it’s not going to be enough. His hands grip at Taehyung’s hips and Taehyung’s hands rest on his shoulders as they kiss.

The elevator reaches Jeongguk's floor and they both pull away, and although Jeongguk is content, he’s not done yet. Taehyung isn’t either, judging by the way he waits with his chest to Jeongguk’s back as Jeongguk presses the code in to open his apartment, leaving kisses on his nape.

“You having fun?” Jeongguk asks as he pushes the door open, taking one step forward. Taehyung follows through, not letting Jeongguk get too far.

“A lot of it, actually,” Taehyung replies, stepping inside. He closes the door behind himself with his foot, but only after Jeongguk has found the light switch and turned the light on. Both of them kick their shoes off, readying themselves to walk through to the living area. It’s then that Taehyung asks, “Can we kiss more?”

“Yes,” Jeongguk replies, not missing a heartbeat and taking Taehyung’s hand in his own. “Come on.”

As much as Jeongguk loves a good make out session on a couch, he’d rather move to bed having reached this point. It’s not by far the first time Taehyung has been in his apartment, nor is it the first time he’s stayed the night. Jeongguk can’t help but feel a little nervous tonight, though—the atmosphere is different. Taehyung wants to kiss him and, in all honesty, Jeongguk wants to be kissed. Until both their lips bruise.

For that reason, Jeongguk ends up guiding Taehyung into his bedroom. Taehyung gives him a knowing look when he sees where they’re going, teasing smile on his lips, but Jeongguk is quick to wipe it away with his own mouth. It makes Taehyung laugh as he reaches for Jeongguk’s neck, curling his arms around it as he allows Jeongguk’s hands to settle on his hips.

Jeongguk takes a couple of steps back then, until he feels the edge of his mattress against the back of his legs. He sits then, pulling lightly at Taehyung’s body as he does so and causing him to fall on the bed with him. Jeongguk is sitting on the mattress now, with Taehyung straddling his lap. And just like that, they keep kissing.

It starts out as slow and sweet, with their lips chastely moving against each other’s. But eventually Taehyung bites on Jeongguk’s bottom lip, urging him to part his lips and slipping his tongue past them after that. Jeongguk’s head starts spinning around then, hands squeezing Taehyung’s hips. He doesn’t even know why, he just has the urge to touch.

The kiss gets more and more heated, with both their tongues curling around each other as Jeongguk tangles his fingers in Jeongguk’s hair. Before Jeongguk can stop himself, his hands start wandering down, making their way to Taehyung’s ass and giving it a squeeze, which makes Taehyung squeal in surprise.

“Oh, my God,” Taehyung says right against Jeongguk’s lips, followed by breathy laughter. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

Jeongguk, who is a worrier, isn’t sure about what to make out of Taehyung’s words. He probably should have asked for permission before doing that, right? It’s not like they’re too familiar with… well, anything that goes past kisses. They’ve been taking things slow.

And so, he starts, “I’m sorry, I should have asked before doing that. I didn’t—”

“I like it,” Taehyung interrupts. Jeongguk stares for a moment, lips still open mid-sentence and hands still on Taehyung’s ass. In almost a whisper, Taehyung adds, “I like it when you touch me.”

Taehyung’s words make Jeongguk feel like his insides are on fire, his fingertips tingling. He goes in for another kiss then, Taehyung leaning in at the same time so they meet each other halfway. This time around, when Jeongguk gives Taehyung’s ass another squeeze, he does so more confidently, with intent. It causes Taehyung to let out a delighted sound into his mouth as he presses himself further against Jeongguk’s body.

Something about Taehyung’s hands in his hair, digging his fingers in his scalp, makes Jeongguk feel like he’s literally going to burn up. That feeling only gets stronger when Taehyung moves away from his mouth and starts kissing down his jaw, finally making his way to his neck. He starts pressing wet, open-mouthed kisses that make Jeongguk feel like he’s going to melt. But what really gets Jeongguk hissing, body tensing up, is the way in which Taehyung starts to suck on the skin, teeth nibbling at it.

“Good?” Taehyung asks, looking for Jeongguk’s reassurance.

“Good,” he replies, quick. Then, he urges, “Keep going.”

Taehyung does, and Jeongguk swears that it feels as if his mouth was working magic. He lets his hands wander down a little more, touching Taehyung’s jean-clad thighs, going back to his ass, slipping past his shirt and feeling the warm skin of his back…

He can’t even bring himself to be embarrassed by the fact that Taehyung kissing him like this is enough to start to make him hard. Jeongguk bites down on his bottom lip to suppress a moan, especially when he feels Taehyung shift on his lap. With his hands, Jeongguk pulls Taehyung a little closer—until he’s sitting right on top of his crotch.

This time around, Jeongguk makes sure that Taehyung’s mouth doesn’t move to his neck again, but to his lips. They kiss again, but unlike before, this time it’s… harsher. There’s more urgency to it as their lips move against each other’s, and much less finesse. That, combined with how Taehyung is starting to grind on Jeongguk’s lap, and Jeongguk is a goner.

His hands move to Taehyung’s patterned shirt then, to the first of its buttons. He clumsily fumbles with it before he manages to pop it open, but to be fair, it’s a good job considering how badly his hands are shaking. Taehyung notices, smiling into his mouth before he keeps kissing him.

It takes a little more than it should, but at last he manages to undo all the buttons and take the piece of fabric off Taehyung’s body. He lets his hands wander down Taehyung’s shoulders and back, clasping around his waist. Taehyung jolts a little then, probably tickled by the light touch of Jeongguk’s fingertips.

“Wanna see you, too,” Taehyung whispers then, pulling away a little. Reaching for the hem of Jeongguk’s plain, white t-shirt, he adds, “Let’s take this off.”

Jeongguk lifts his arms then, allowing Taehyung to lift the piece of clothing and remove it before he throws it to the floor. If he said he doesn’t blush at the way in which Taehyung’s eyes roam down his body then, checking him out, he would be lying. He can feel Taehyung’s gaze on him, on his abdomen and chest, and it makes him feel hot.

It’s Taehyung who kisses him again, this time around. Jeongguk can feel himself hardening more and more under Taehyung’s ass, and he knows that if he were to touch the front of Taehyung’s jeans he would find the same.

Taehyung touches his shoulders as they kiss, this time without any fabric between them. The skin on skin contact makes Jeongguk let out a sound into Taehyung’s mouth, one that just shows how terribly desperate he is to put his hands on Taehyung and just do something.

So instead of making the wait torturously long for himself, Jeongguk pulls back and wraps an arm around Taehyung’s waist. Without a warning he flips them around, leaving Taehyung lying on his back on the bed as he looks up at Jeongguk with surprised eyes. Jeongguk is now kneeling over him, and he positions himself so his legs are to each side of Taehyung’s body.

And now, Taehyung is his.

“Can I take your jeans off?” Jeongguk asks, letting his hand wander down Taehyung’s abdomen. Taehyung nods, eagerly, and Jeongguk’s fingers go from tracing shapes around Taehyung’s belly button to undoing the button of his jeans.

Jeongguk bites down on his lip as he pulls down the zipper, hyper-aware of the bulge right under it. Once it’s completely undone he pulls at the jeans from both legs, watching them easily peel off Taehyung’s legs when he raises his hips from the mattress.

Jeongguk has seen Taehyung’s body, of course. He has seen him in drag, he saw it that one day at Taehyung’s, when he sucked him off, but it’s… somehow different now. It’s the setting, he decides. Taehyung’s legs are just as deliciously long and sexy as always, but he’s never been in this position before. Even when Taehyung gave him a blowjob, it wasn’t the same. There wasn’t the atmosphere, even if there was intimacy as well. Right now, Jeongguk feels the urge to touch every inch of Taehyung’s body and make him feel good. He wants to touch, wants to please, wants to kiss him. He can’t help but devour Taehyung with his eyes, every inch of tanned skin that is driving him crazy.

He’s sure it’s showing how badly he wants Taehyung just in the way he looks at him. He gets rid of the stupid pants and throws them somewhere without a care, away from the bed. Taehyung is looking at him with wide eyes and parted lips, reaching forward for a kiss that Jeongguk grants him.

He feels himself get a little more confident now, so he just reaches down and touches Taehyung stomach again, feeling the soft skin under his palm. Taehyung inhales, biting down a little on Jeongguk’s bottom lip, and Jeongguk swears he dies a little at that.

The first time Jeongguk’s hand brushes over Taehyung’s dick, it makes him take a sharp breath. Jeongguk is somehow hesitant, but Taehyung covers Jeongguk’s hands with his and says, “Yes. Again, Guk.”

Swallowing hard, Jeongguk palms Taehyung through his boxers. It’s not the first time he touches someone, but it’s been a while. Not only that, but it’s also Taehyung. Everything is different with Taehyung. Jeongguk feels a little nervous, but that feeling is overpowered with his will to make Taehyung feel good.

So, when he palms him again, he also drags his fingers along the outline of his cock through his underwear, touching lightly. Taehyung tenses a little under him, but Jeongguk can tell it’s not a bad reaction by the way he moans a little in Jeongguk’s mouth. He works his hand on Taehyung’s cock, until he feels some pre-come leak from the tip of it, dampening the fabric.

“Take them off,” Taehyung instructs then, although it sounds more like a plea than like an order. “Guk, please.”

Jeongguk just nods, wordlessly hooking his thumbs in the waistband of Taehyung’s underwear and pulling them down. He swallows down when he sees him, hard and leaking pre-come at the tip. And all because of him.

He ducks down to kiss Taehyung at the same time he reaches for his cock, wrapping his fist around it. It makes Taehyung sigh a little into his mouth, one of his palms coming to rest against Jeongguk’s cheeks as he starts to jerk him off slowly.

Jeongguk has always been a giver. He enjoys pleasuring his own partners just as much as he enjoys being pleasured himself, so the thought of not satisfying the other person’s needs during sex sounds strange and selfish to him. Not returning the favor when Taehyung sucked him off that other time felt strange, but after all, Taehyung had gotten himself off then. That was also really fucking hot, knowing Taehyung made himself come while sucking his dick.

This, however, is better. There is something incredibly exhilarating about having Taehyung let out those low, gravelly noises at the back of his throat as Jeongguk works his hand on him. When he uses his thumb to stimulate the head, Taehyung moans and digs his fingernails into Jeongguk’s shoulder. In opposition to that, his other hand tenderly holds Jeongguk’s cheek still, keeping him there while they kiss.

He plays with Taehyung’s balls, jerks him off and lets him thrust up into his fist. It makes Jeongguk hot a bothered to have that kind of effect on Taehyung, to be able to make him moan and lose control over himself like that. Taehyung kisses him almost desperately now, and the pace of his hips as he bucks them up is completely erratic. He is, for the lack of a better word, a mess.

It doesn’t come as a surprise to Jeongguk when Taehyung says, “If you keep that up, I’m not gonna last.”

Jeongguk swallows down, thickly. He knows what he wants, but there is a possibility that Taehyung is not… interested, at least not for tonight. Jeongguk licks at his lips, asking, “Do you want to…?”

“I want you to fuck me,” Taehyung says then, voice croaky. “Please.”

Jeongguk’s cock twitches at the word, especially because of how absolutely wrecked Taehyung looks as he says it. His eyes are wide, pupils blown, and his hair sticks in ten different directions because of how disheveled it is. What really gets to him is the redness of his lips, now swollen after so many kisses.

God, Taehyung asking him while looking like that is better than every wet dream he’s ever had.

There is no way he could ever say no. Half because he’s too weak for Taehyung to refuse him—especially if he’s looking at him like that, and half because he really wants to fuck Taehyung. Fuck, it’s everything he has been wanting for months, but hasn’t really let himself think about.

“Yes, oh my God, yes,” is all he manages to say, letting go of Taehyung’s dick. “Gonna get—lube. And condoms.”

Taehyung giggles at that, probably humored at how Jeongguk quickly scrambles so he can get said objects from his bedside table. When he turns around he finds Taehyung sitting up, looking at him with his lip caught between his teeth.

“You’re so hot,” Jeongguk blurts out before he can even think about stopping himself.

It might be Jeongguk’s words, or maybe the bluntness in which he said it, but something about that statement makes Taehyung burst into laughter. He looks at Jeongguk, asking, “Really? How hot?”

“Hottest in the fucking world,” Jeongguk replies, not exaggerating one single bit. He drops the lube and a condom wrapper on the bed, and turning around he says, “God, look at yourself.”

Taehyung laughs again, letting Jeongguk lie over him as he asks, “Hotter than Fawn?”

Now it’s Jeongguk’s turn to laugh at that. “Hotter than Fawn,” Jeongguk assures. “You’re Fawn, though.”

“Shh,” Taehyung shushes him, placing a finger against Jeongguk’s lips. “Come here, come on. I want you to finger me.”

Jeongguk obeys, but before doing so, he licks at Taehyung’s finger. That makes Taehyung bite down on his bottom lip again, looking at Jeongguk with hungry eyes.

“How do you wanna do it, then?” Jeongguk asks.

Taehyung seems to think about it for a moment, before he lies down on his back and says, “I think some good old missionary sounds nice for tonight.”

Jeongguk snickers, saying, “That’s vanilla of you, baby.” He still moves to sit opposite Taehyung, who still has his legs closed.

Upon hearing that, Taehyung feigns offence. “It’s not vanilla,” he protests. “It’s romantic.”

“I’m romantic,” Jeongguk replies, reaching for the lube and squeezing some on his fingers. Taehyung did ask him to finger him, so he’s going to do just that.

“Then fuck me on my back,” Taehyung replies. “Looking into my eyes while you hold my hand.”

Jeongguk can’t help but laugh at that, ducking down to press a kiss to Taehyung’s willing mouth. He coats his fingers with the lube on his palm while they kiss, making sure it won’t be too cold when touches Taehyung.

He pulls back when he considers it’s ready, telling Taehyung, “Part your legs for me, pretty.”

Taehyung obeys with a wink, showing Jeongguk that he’s a lot less shy than Jeongguk himself is. It’s not that he isn’t comfortable—he absolutely is. Taehyung’s presence is the most soothing he’s known in his entire life, and Jeongguk absolutely adores doing this with him. But at the same time, he’s nervous. It’s the first time they’re going to go all the way. He can’t help but feel a little nervous about it.

If Taehyung feels that way, he shows it a lot better than Jeongguk. He parts his legs, allowing Jeongguk to slip between them. It doesn’t help that Taehyung is holding himself up on his elbows as he lies down, looking down at Jeongguk’s fumbling hands. It distracts Jeongguk, who is already distracted enough by the fact that he’s in the middle of Taehyung’s parted legs, about to finger him.

He shakes those thoughts away and focuses on what he’s doing. Hesitantly, he brings his index to Taehyung’s hole, circling the rim with a lube coated finger. The motion makes Taehyung suck in a breath, but thankfully he doesn’t tense up—that’s good. Jeongguk needs him to relax now, if they’re doing this. He looks up at Taehyung, and when he sees the almost imperceptible nod that Taehyung gives him, Jeongguk pushes in.

It’s tight, obviously. Taehyung closes his eyes and throws his head back at first, getting used to the intrusion. Jeongguk slowly thrusts his finger in and out, moving it around a little.

“You good?” he asks, not wanting to hurt Taehyung in any way or form.

“Good,” Taehyung replies. “Feels good. Keep going.”

At that, Jeongguk nods. He doesn’t add another finger just yet, but increases his thrusts in speed a little. It makes Taehyung’s lips part in a silent moan, his eyebrows furrowed as Jeongguk fucks his finger inside him.

“I’m gonna add another one,” Jeongguk announces as he takes his finger out of Taehyung.

“Yes, yes,” Taehyung replies as Jeongguk does so. He goes quiet, but a hiss escapes him now that Jeongguk begins to push two of his fingers back inside. “Feels good.”

That is all the encouragement that Jeongguk needs, who is feeling braver and more confident now. He thrusts into Taehyung deliberately slow, watching the way he slowly comes undone because of his fingers. His face contorts in pleasure, and Jeongguk can’t help but feel himself get more and more aroused because of that.

It doesn’t take too long for him to find Taehyung’s prostate, Taehyung immediately letting out a loud moan when Jeongguk’s fingers brush against it. What’s even better is the way that Taehyung’s walls momentarily clench around his fingers, impeding him to thrust for a second. Jeongguk smiles, pointing his fingers towards the same spot and thrusting them in and out again.

And that’s when Taehyung really, really comes undone. His noises get louder than before, he clenches around Jeongguk and wrinkles the bedsheets in his fists. Jeongguk looks at him with blown pupils, taking into the gorgeous sight right before him—Taehyung, sweaty and writhing in pleasure. Without a doubt, the best and hottest thing he’s ever seen.

Eventually, Taehyung’s hand moves to Jeongguk’s wrist and stops his thrusting. “No more,” he says, voice even more choked out than before. “Want your cock. Please, Jeongguk.”

Just like before, Taehyung’s words terribly affect Jeongguk. He nods, feeling his dick twitch inside his briefs one last time before he takes them off. It’s not like his underwear was terribly uncomfortable, but he definitely feels better now he’s completely naked—especially with how hard he is.

Jeongguk reaches for the condom and tears its wrapper open, even if he’s a little clumsy at doing so because of the remains of lube on his hand. He’s about to put it on himself, but then Taehyung calls, “Let me.”

He just watches wordlessly as Taehyung sits up again, taking the condom from his hands and discarding the wrapper somewhere on the bed. After that he steals one glance at Jeongguk’s face before looking down at his cock, starting to put on the condom with his long, slender fingers.

As fleeting as the touch is, Jeongguk has to admit it's mind-blowingly good to feel Taehyung’s fingers on his cock. He manages to hold back his noises while Taehyung puts the condom on, but that goes out the window once he squirts some more lube on his palm and coats Jeongguk’s cock with it.

“Fuck, Taehyung,” he curses, making Taehyung look up at him with a deceivingly sweet smile. It would work better if not for the fact that Taehyung is sort of jerking him off. “Ready?”

“Ready,” Taehyung replies. He lies on his back again, but not before stealing another kiss from Jeongguk—one that Jeongguk happily welcomes. “Come on. Fuck me.”

Jeongguk’s insides do a pirouette upon hearing those words, especially accompanied by the way Taehyung spreads himself for him as he says them. He positions himself over Taehyung, holding his cock with one hand so he can line himself up with Taehyung’s hole. His other hand rests by Taehyung’s head on the mattress, helping himself keep his weight up.

The head of his cock brushes against Taehyung’s hole, making him gasp. “Now, Gukkie,” he urges. Jeongguk can’t do anything but happily comply.

He pushes himself inside Taehyung, and all he can think of is how overwhelmingly tight and warm it is. The slide is easy—they’ve used lots of lube, and Taehyung is relaxed enough for it to go in without much trouble. Jeongguk still decides to take it slow, since it's better to be safe than sorry.

He pushes all the way in, until all of his cock is buried inside of Taehyung. While he does that, he doesn’t look away from Taehyung’s face one single moment. He watches his lips part, turning into an ‘O’ as Jeongguk was pushing all of himself inside him. Right now he’s breathing in deeply, arms curled around Jeongguk’s neck and fingernails digging on his shoulders.

“I’m good,” Taehyung reassures before Jeongguk can even ask. “I’m good. Give me a minute.”

Jeongguk waits patiently, but in that time he ducks down and presses some kisses down Taehyung’s neck. Taehyung accepts them happily, lolling his head back on the bed and exposing more of his skin for Jeongguk to kiss. It feels like heaven for Jeongguk, who starts sucking red little marks that will without a doubt fade within the next few hours.

Taehyung moans then, one of his hands tangling itself in Jeongguk’s black hair. He pulls lightly, saying, “Move. Fuck, please, move.”

And who is Jeongguk not to listen? He starts off slow, pulling back all the way so only the tip of his cock is left inside of Taehyung. When he thrusts back inside it’s slow, so he can feel himself slide back inside Taehyung inch by inch. His walls close so deliciously tight against him, making heat build up inside his stomach.

“So perfect,” he praises, looking down at Taehyung. He smiles a little, but the gesture is soon transformed into one of pleasure as Jeongguk snaps his hips again. “God, so good and perfect for my cock.”

Taehyung moans upon hearing that, which in exchange makes Jeongguk grunt against his neck. Just like that, pressing light kisses against the column of Taehyung’s throat, Jeongguk starts to speed his pace up a little. Taehyung takes it so well, hissing as Jeongguk fucks him harder and faster.

“Just like that, Gukkie,” Taehyung tells him, his legs curling around Jeongguk’s hips and clasping tight. “God, I—ngh. Love this so much. Keep fucking me like that.”

Taehyung’s words are Jeongguk’s command, as he doesn’t let the pace of his hips go any slower. He loves to see Taehyung come undone beneath him like that, moaning and groaning around his cock.

Somewhere along the way he remembers about what Taehyung asked for earlier—for Jeongguk to fuck him on his back, looking at him and holding his hand. That makes Jeongguk snap out of his daze and reach for Taehyung’s hand, intertwining their fingers together and leaving their hands to rest right next to Taehyung’s head on the mattress.

“Eyes on me, baby,” he says when Taehyung’s eyes flutter shut because of the pleasure. Taehyung blinks them open, staring right into Jeongguk’s eyes, and Jeongguk adds, “That’s good. Want you to look at me.”

“I want to see you while you fuck me,” Taehyung tells him, nasty words slipping past his red, swollen lips. His eyes roll back after a particularly hard trust, and he adds, “Fuck, Jeongguk. Love your cock so much—come on. Come on, come on, come on.”

Jeongguk shushes him, ducking down for a kiss. It’s one that Taehyung happily accepts, his lips parting lewdly and allowing for Jeongguk to kiss him, deep and wet. He lets Taehyung suck on his tongue, not losing the pace he’s built for both of them. His hips relentlessly snap against Taehyung’s, the sound of skin slapping against skin filling the room.

He’s still kissing Taehyung when he finds it. He can tell by the way that Taehyung clenches around him, his walls squeezing Jeongguk’s cock and making his eyes roll. That, added to the loud moan that Taehyung lets out then, and Jeongguk has no doubts about it—he’s found Taehyung’s sweet spot.

“Right there,” Taehyung tells him. His eyes close now, head thrown back as he keeps moaning while Jeongguk fucks into him. “Fuck, keep going—right there, Jeongguk. It feels so good. I—”

“You like that?” Jeongguk asks, thrusting against the same spot over and over again. He can tell Taehyung does, by the way his body is reacting to him. He is clenching around Jeongguk so hard that it makes it hard for him to keep thrusting inside. He has no doubt that he’s going to come soon, with how tight around him Taehyung feels right now. “Like how I keep fucking straight into your little spot?”

“Yes,” Taehyung replies, quick and eager. “Yes, yes, yes, fuck. Keep going—I’m gonna come. Make me come.”

Jeongguk’s hips falter at that, and even if he gets back to thrusting inside of Taehyung right after, his pace is erratic now. Listening to Taehyung and wanting to make him come, he reaches down for his cock, again wrapping his fist around it. The difference is that, while he started off as slow earlier and built a rhythm for himself, now he starts off quickly. He jerks Taehyung off fast, the pace not matching at all the one that his hips follow fucking him. Not that either of them care—especially Taehyung, judging by how much he’s moaning as he, again, digs his nails into the skin of Jeongguk’s shoulder with his free hand.

“So good,” Taehyung whines. Jeongguk moans against Taehyung’s sweaty neck, feeling his own orgasm grow inside of him. He’s not going to let himself go until Taehyung comes, though. “Come on—oh, fuck. So close.”

It doesn’t take too long after that for Taehyung to come, just a few thrusts of Jeongguk’s hips and a few pumps from his hand. Taehyung comes all over his and Jeongguk’s stomach, painting them white with his load as he squeezed Jeongguk’s hand in his, hard. After that, Jeongguk finally lets himself go and, a few thrusts later, spills inside the condom. The triumphant feeling when he finally comes is something he’s never felt before, and almost immediately he feels his body turn into jelly, causing him to collapse on top of Taehyung.

“Fuck,” he utters out, in between pants. Taehyung, lying under him, is breathing loudly too. “Fuck, that was…”

“That was amazing,” Taehyung completes for him. He lifts their joint hands from the mattress and takes them to his mouth, dropping a kiss against Jeongguk’s pinky. “And you held my hand. Thank you so, so much.”

“I’d always hold your hand,” Jeongguk says, making Taehyung laugh. He doesn’t know if Taehyung took it seriously or not, because of the way he laughed, but Jeongguk really, really meant it. “Let me pull out, yeah?”

“Okay, go, go,” Taehyung tells him, letting go of Jeongguk’s hand. “It’s gonna feel so weird now, fuck.”

“Want my cock back inside you that bad, huh?” Jeongguk asks as he holds the condom at the base of his cock, starting to pull out. Taehyung laughs at that.

“You’re pushing your luck now,” he tells Jeongguk. “Be good and I’ll think about it.”

Jeongguk laughs as he completely pulls out, his laughter drowning out the sound of protest that Taehyung lets out at the emptiness. After that, he discards of the condom and gets his t-shirt back from the floor, offering it to Taehyung so he can wipe his stomach clean.

“Are you sure?” Taehyung asks, looking at the t-shirt. Jeongguk just waves.

“Go for it,” he encourages. “I only have fifteen like that to replace it,” he adds, making Taehyung giggle.

A few minutes later find them already in bed and under the cover, legs intertwined while they look at each other. The lamp is already off, but the light coming from the window, which Jeongguk has his back too, is enough for him to make out Taehyung’s features in the dark. He’s just as pretty as always, Jeongguk decides.

There is a thought running around his mind, other than how stunningly beautiful Taehyung is. It’s something that he has been wondering for a while, but especially now after what has happened. Maybe it’s because they’re in the dark, and because with his back to the window Taehyung can’t probably see him. The thing is, Jeongguk feels a little braver.

And because of that, he asks, “Hey, Tae. Can I ask you something?”

“You just did,” Taehyung replies. Jeongguk huffs, pretending to be irritated, but Taehyung laughs at his own joke. “Okay, okay, sure. Ask me anything you wanna know.”

Jeongguk bites down on his bottom lip, again grateful Taehyung can’t see him. Before he can chicken out and make up something that isn’t really what he meant, he asks, “Does this mean we're  something?”

There’s one beat silence, that despite being fleeting is more than enough for Jeongguk to panic. He’s about to add something about how they don’t have to be anything if Taehyung doesn’t want to, of course, he was just wondering—but then, Taehyung’s palms are on each of his cheeks, pulling him close and peppering his face with kisses.

“I’m sorry, Gukkie, but this sounds like a talk we should have when I am not so damn sleepy,” Taehyung tells him. Jeongguk cracks a smile at that, even if he would have loved an answer. “Tomorrow, yeah? I promise.”

“Okay, baby,” Jeongguk agrees, happily taking one more kiss from Taehyung. “I’ll bring it up again tomorrow, then.”

“Good,” Taehyung replies then, wrapping himself all over Jeongguk. “Goodnight, Gukkie. I hope you have the sweetest dreams.”

“Night, Tae,” Jeongguk replies. He knows he will, merely because Taehyung’s presence is enough to make him so incredibly happy. “You too.”

Jeongguk closes his eyes, enjoying the warmth of Taehyung’s body pressed against his and the strawberry-like smell of his shampoo that still persists. He would have liked an answer, but he does understand why Taehyung would like to be completely awake to discuss this. He just hopes the answers is… well, not a negative one.

He doesn’t let himself worry about that, though. Instead, he just gets comfortable and lets Taehyung’s even breathing lull him to sleep.

 

 

As soon as Jeongguk wakes up the next morning and feels Taehyung’s weight on his body, memories from last night come rushing to his mind. First, the bar and the walk home, then, having sex with Taehyung, and last but definitely not least, the little talk they had right before sleep.

Maybe it was from the exhaustion after a long day, or maybe because of the afterglow, but somehow Jeongguk managed to calm his anxious mind down after Taehyung told him they’d talk tomorrow. Now, however, both those circumstances are gone. And Jeongguk is feeling, to say the least, nervous.

He finds himself incapable of staying in bed, and Taehyung is still sleeping soundly, so he doesn’t want to wake him up. Being as careful as possible, he manages to slip out of bed without startling Taehyung, and then he makes his way to the living room.

He doesn’t want to have breakfast before Taehyung wakes up, since he sort of wanted them to eat together, so that plan is out the window. Going anywhere is also not an option, since the last thing he needs is for Taehyung to wake up and find him gone. Unfortunately, his phone is still in the room, and he’s not going to risk going back in there and waking Taehyung up.

So he does the one thing that crosses his mind that could help keep him busy for a little while, at least until Taehyung wakes up. He works out.

He doesn’t have enough money to spare to pay for a gym membership, so Jeongguk tries to do at home workouts at least thrice a week. Probably not as effective as going to a gym and having proper equipment would be, but hey, it’s something. And he likes it, so.

Jeongguk has always been very active from a young age. He’s always taken joy in sports, and dancing is proof of that. In addition to it, though, he likes to do some strength workouts too. He likes having muscle, and core strength is necessary for what he does, so he does his best to stay toned.

Not a lot of time goes by before the door to his bedroom opens, but he’s focused on the exercise and doesn’t hear it. He’s in the midst of doing a plank when Taehyung enters the room, the sound of his footsteps on the wooden flooring catching Jeongguk’s attention. He looks up at the door, watching Taehyung sleepily tumble into the room.

“Good morning, fitness king,” Taehyung greets him, voice still rough from sleep.

Jeongguk cracks a smile, finding it endearing how terribly gravelly Taehyung’s voice sounds. “Good morning, sleepyhead,” he manages to say back, sounding more strained than anything. His abdomen is starting to burn right now, but that’s the desired effect, isn’t it?

Taehyung laughs at that, flopping on the couch of Jeongguk’s living room. He pats the empty space on the couch next to himself, saying, “Stop being fit and come here. We have something to talk about, don’t we?”

That makes a knot suddenly appear in Jeongguk’s throat as he gets up onto his knees, only to then stand up. He looks at Taehyung, crossing the space between them in two long strides and sitting on the couch next to him.

“We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” Jeongguk says. In his brain, this is the best way to avoid rejection. If Taehyung doesn’t want to be anything, then he probably won’t want to discuss this right now, right?  “I don’t want you to feel obligated just because I mentioned it.”

“But I want to talk about it,” Taehyung tells him. There are occasions where Jeongguk can’t read Taehyung, such as this one, so it’s hard for him to tell whether Taehyung knows how nervous he is or not. “Plus, it’s something that you want to talk about. Therefore we need to. Communication is important.”

Jeongguk feels his heart skip a beat at that, but he just nods. “Okay, okay,” he agrees. Taehyung looks at him expectantly, and Jeongguk feels the knot in his throat tighten even more as he says, “So… Are we something?”

“I think we are,” Taehyung replies then. He shrugs and adds, “I mean—of course we are something. But… we’re more than friends, right?”

“I—” Jeongguk starts, but he cuts himself halfway when he realizes he doesn’t have a clue of what he was going to say. He takes a deep breath and starts over, saying, “I think we’re more than friends too, yeah.”

Jeongguk watches how a smile spreads across Taehyung’s face, then. It happens almost in slow motion, so he can see each and every tooth until Taehyung’s lips are spread in that adorable boxy shape of a smile. To say that Jeongguk is smitten would be an understatement.

“Okay, that’s good,” Taehyung says then, nodding happily. “Also a relief to hear since I like you an awful lot.”

Jeongguk laughs at that, happy, and lets his hand fall on Taehyung’s knee, giving it a squeeze. That’s exactly what he wanted to hear. “I like you a lot, as well,” he replies. Taehyung smiles. “So… we’re together or whatever?”

“We’re together,” Taehyung confirms. He looks like he’s about to say something, his mouth open, but then his stomach rumbles loudly and both of them burst into laughter. “Oh, fuck. It’s ruined the moment.”

Jeongguk doesn’t know whether they’re ready or not to take the next step and make things official, so he thinks they’re… at a nice middle ground right now. He has the reassurance that Taehyung is as into him as he is into Taehyung, but he doesn’t feel like they’re rushing into anything. In fact, he would say they have taken things slowly. That, if you ask Jeongguk, isn’t bad per se. The slow burn has made every kiss, every touch, and what happened last night far, far more gratifying.

“It hasn’t ruined anything,” he reassures, snapping out of his thoughts. “Come on, get up. I’m gonna cook you breakfast.”

Taehyung’s entire face lights up at that. “Really?” he asks, rapidly getting up onto his feet. He looks at Jeongguk with delight, almost like a kid on Christmas morning. “What will you make me?”

Jeongguk cracks a smile. “You’ll see,” he says. “I’m gonna show you how I make the best pancakes in the world.”

 

 

One of the biggest changes that Jeongguk experienced in his life since meeting Taehyung is that he feels much, much happier. He’s noticed he’s a lot more hopeful these days, and even if some days are still sad and tiring, at least he has something to look forward to. Taehyung has, overall, inspired Jeongguk, renewed his strength to fight for what he wants, and made him a lot happier.

But that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t had bad days ever since they met. And today, much to Jeongguk’s despair, is one of those days. One of those days where he can’t bring his brain to stop working too much, or can’t bring himself to force a smile.

And as always, it’s because of the dance. Of course.

It’s a Sunday, one that he has spent entirely with Taehyung after he stayed over once work was finished last night. He’s been sulking all day, since his Instagram feed is full of posts of the Seoul Art Academy about a dance recital they held this Friday. Jeongguk thought he had come to terms with his life and what his position in the school was, but it turns out he wasn’t. Especially since it’s already March, and he doesn’t really see any chance of him potentially being able to attend next year, either.

The plan was to save up for enough to pay for next year’s courses, but right now he doesn’t think he can afford it. He’s going to need at least another year for that to work out, which means another year of misery over not doing what he likes to do the most.

At this point, Jeongguk wonders if that life is one he’s ever going to have. Unfortunately, not everyone gets to achieve their dreams. Jeongguk has always told himself that if he worked hard enough he’d manage to accomplish his, but now he’s wondering if that is true at all. Maybe he belongs to the category of those who will never get to where they want to be. He knows that in the field he wants to dedicate himself to, one lost year is extremely detrimental. And right now, he feels like he’s wasted too many.

Taehyung is there to try to lift him up, albeit rather unsuccessfully. He hugs Jeongguk and kisses him, reassuring him of how good he is and how much he deserves a chance, one that will absolutely come his way. However, Jeongguk finds it hard to believe Taehyung. How could he, when his words are the exact opposite of what’s actually happening?

“You’ll find a way, Gukkie,” Taehyung tells him, allowing Jeongguk to bury his face in his neck as he talks. “We’ll find a way. I never give up, remember?”

“I’ve tried everything,” Jeongguk says, voice muffled against Taehyung’s neck. “No one believes in me, Taehyung. And there’s no way in hell that I can do this alone. Even if I manage to save up and start during the next school year—why would I do that? Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to pay for the following one. It just makes no sense.”

“Hey, hey, baby,” Taehyung replies, drawing circles on the back of Jeongguk’s neck. “You… Look, I’ve been thinking of something. I don’t know how comfortable you’d be with doing it, though.”

“What is it?” Jeongguk asks him, intrigued by Taehyung’s words.

“I know your father doesn’t want to help you or pay for your studies, not if you do dance,” Taehyung starts. Jeongguk tenses up at the mere mention of his father; he didn’t see this coming, he must admit. “But what if you ask for your inheritance in advance?”

Jeongguk huffs then. “I… I’m not sure he’d give me that, Taehyung. I don’t know…”

“But have you tried asking?” Taehyung asks. Jeongguk shakes his head. No, that’s not something he has tried, simply because it’s not something he ever thought could work out. “You’ve said your dad is well-off, right? Maybe he’ll give you your part now, and then you’d be able to fund it yourself. What’s the worst that could happen? Rejection?”

“Along with humiliation, yelling, probably making me feel like shit all over again,” Jeongguk says with a sigh. He knows that Taehyung doesn’t understand, as he’s never had parents like Jeongguk’s, and that’s something he’s glad for. He wishes he had parents who were as supportive of his dreams as Taehyung’s are, but unluckily for him, his father sees Jeongguk’s dreams as a hassle and an embarrassment for the family. “I don’t know…”

Taehyung hums. “I get it, I get it,” Taehyung says then, squeezing Jeongguk a little tighter. Jeongguk lets himself be cuddled—he really needs it right now. “You don’t have to go see him if you think it’s not gonna go well. It was just a thought, but of course I trust your judgement better than mine.”

“I’ll see what I do,” Jeongguk says. He still isn’t convinced, but… now the thought is in his mind. He will consider. “Just—hug me, okay?”

“Of course,” Taehyung tells him. They’re silent for a moment, and then Taehyung adds, “I’m here for you, you know? No matter what.”

Jeongguk smiles at that, and although he doesn’t say it out loud, the truth is that those words make him feel a little better. It’s exactly what he needed to know, what he needed to feel—that he has Taehyung, and that Taehyung has his back. No matter what.

 

It’s a hard decision to make, a very anxiety-inducing one, but in the end Jeongguk makes up his mind and decides to ask his father for his inheritance. Part of him feels like he’s putting his pride aside and this is a desperate measure, but to be fair, isn’t he desperate having reached this point? He knows a lot of people do this, especially when family bonds are broken. It’s not going to be easy, but by now, Jeongguk sees it as the only way.

It’s been a long time since he was face-to-face with his dad. Their parents split up when he was sixteen, soon after Jeongguk was forced to drop dancing. After that, Jeongguk and his mother had moved out of what used to be their family home, staying at his grandmother’s until they found a place. When that happened, neither Jeongguk nor his father had great interest in taking care of their relationship and seeing each other regularly. His father was disappointed that his son had become that, as he himself worded it with as much disdain as possible, and Jeongguk was unable to feel comfortable in the presence of him anymore.

It’s been years now, but thinking about it still hurts. It’s crazy for him to think that things weren’t always like this. As he grew older more and more disinterest for Jeongguk and his passions came, but after Jeonghyun—Jeongguk could understand. He wishes he hadn’t had gotten the short end of the stick and the indifference of both their parents, but he knew nothing could ever be the same after what happened. He doesn’t blame them, even if he probably should.

However, he doesn’t like to think about that. The last thing he needs right now is to dampen his own mood before he even getting to his father’s office. This part of Seoul is the one that he no longer has business in, so he very rarely ventures into it—the tallest skyscrapers in the city, people wearing suits and smart clothing all around him. Everyone is hurrying somewhere, probably with a million things to do and a million place to be. A lot of them are talking on their phones, and part of Jeongguk is sure that most are probably making business calls. Jeongguk feels out of place here, but he pushes it aside and continues making his way to his dad’s office.

Again, it’s been years since he last was here, so he doesn’t recognize the receptionist that he encounters upon entering the building and going to the floor of his dad’s office. He approaches the table then, unsure of what to say. It definitely was easier to do this when people recognized him.

“Good afternoon,” the girl at reception says, flashing him a bright smile. Her straight, brown hair falls right over her shoulders, and she has bangs that cover her forehead. Her eyes are big and she’s very pretty. Probably around Jeongguk’s age, too. “How can I help you?”

Jeongguk shifts his weight from one foot to another, unsure of what to say. “Hi. I, um,” he starts. The receptionist’s smile doesn’t falter, but Jeongguk can’t help but think that inside she thinks he’s a little slow. “I would like to see Mr. Jeon.”

“Do you have an appointment?” the girl asks. When Jeongguk shakes his head, she carries on, “Then I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t let you in.”

“It’s just—I’m his son,” Jeongguk tries to explain. This is exactly why he wishes someone familiar was around. So he wouldn’t have to give as many explanations. “Mr. Jeon is my father.”

The girl frowns. “Mr. Jeon’s son is two,” she says, a wrinkle appearing between her brows.

Jeongguk can’t help but raise his eyebrows upon hearing that. For some reason, he wasn’t expecting to hear… that. It’s been around five years since his parents broke up, so of course, this is a possibility he should have considered. But still, for some reason, it doesn’t sit well with him. Maybe because he feels like his father is trying to replace them, his old family, with a new one.

He doesn’t let himself think about it yet. Instead, he says, “From his first marriage. I’m Jeon Jeongguk,” he adds, but the girl still looks unconvinced. He reaches for his wallet then, saying, “Look, I have my ID here.”

“No, no, don’t worry,” she rushes to say, shaking her hand at him. “I’ll ask him.” Jeongguk nods, dropping both arms to the flanks of his body. It’s then that the girl takes the phone from her desk, presses a button and, after a few seconds, says, “Mr. Jeon, a man named Jeon Jeongguk is here to see you. He says he’s your son.”

There's a couple of seconds that are filled with silence. Then, Jeongguk can hear his dad’s voice come through the phone as he says, “Let him in.”

The girl says something else to his father before hanging up, but now Jeongguk is too immersed in his own thoughts to notice. He’s going to see his father, after years without even talking. Just now, through the phone and muffled, was the first time in years that Jeongguk had heard his voice.

He felt like he was going to throw up.

“He says you can go in,” the girl says, once she has put the phone down. Then, gesturing to her right, says, “It’s that way.”

“I know, thank you,” Jeongguk says, giving her a forced smile. He doesn’t want to be curt with her—he knows she was just doing her job by not letting him in. However, he's feeling too nervous for his politeness to come out as natural instead of strained.

The girl nods, and with that Jeongguk starts moving. The corridor that takes him from the reception to his dad’s office has never felt as torturously long as it does right now, and Jeongguk swears it never ends as he makes his way through it. From the offices to each side of the corridor he sees familiar faces—his dad’s employees, with whom he spent many afternoons with whenever he and Jeonghyun had to stay at the office with their father.

Finally, after a walk that feels endless, Jeongguk reaches the end of the corridor. He raises his fist and knocks on the wood, remembering how much his dad always hated it when people came in unannounced. His dad’s response comes almost immediately.

“Come in.” It’s loud enough for Jeongguk to hear him clearly from the other side of the wooden door. Jeongguk closes his eyes for a second, trying to get the emotional strength to do this.

And then, he opens the door.

The office is just as he remembers it, as if time hasn’t passed since the last time Jeongguk was there. The black, leather armchairs that Jeongguk never liked are still sitting right opposite to his father’s desk, now looking a bit more worn out.

And, of course, there is his father. Jeongguk can’t say for him the same as for the office—looking at him, it’s obvious it’s been a few years. Most of his hair is grey now, and it looks shorter and thinned out. On top of his nose sits a pair of glasses that he didn’t wear the last time Jeongguk saw him, one that Jeongguk assumes he needs because of presbyopia, most likely.

They look at each other for a moment, both of them impassive. Jeongguk is glad that he’s now able to control his anger around him, because it was never the kind of dry, screaming rage that one would expect. Around his father, Jeongguk has always been prone to crying. And of course, under his father’s eyes, that was inconceivable.

“Jeongguk,” his father says with a nod, not even bothering to stand up to greet him.

Jeongguk refuses to call him ‘dad’. It’s not that he doesn’t think of that man as his father anymore—he does, he still calls him it when he’s not in front of him. It’s just that Jeongguk feels like that man hasn’t felt like he's Jeongguk’s father in a very long time, so he finds the thought of calling him ‘dad’ in front of him almost humiliating. He swallows down, saying, “Hello. Can I sit?”

“Please, do so,” his dad indicates, gesturing towards one of the armchairs. Jeongguk obliges, sitting down without taking his jacket off. He sits with his hands clasped on top of his lap. “So, Jeongguk. How have you been?”

Jeongguk can’t say he’s not shocked by the question. He was waiting for his dad to be straight to the point and ask him what he wanted, instead of making small talk. It’s a pleasant surprise, but Jeongguk still isn’t letting his guard down.

“I’ve been okay,” he says. He knows it’s half a lie—these last few months have been okay, yeah, but overall, he’s been a mess. He’s been miserable. That, however, is not something he wants his father to know. He feels the need to be polite, and so he asks, “You?”

“Okay as well,” his father replies, clasping his hands on top of the desk. “So, Jeongguk… What brings you here?”

Jeongguk swallows down. There it is. He doesn’t exactly know how to ask for this, how to word it to make it sound… better. And so, he just says, “I want my inheritance.”

“Your inheritance?” his father asks, raising his eyebrows. “Why?”

“I want an education,” Jeongguk says, then. “I work as a cleaner but I don’t make enough to be able to fund it myself. I—I need the money so I can pay for it.”

“I told you I would fund it myself if you opted for a proper degree, and not that dancing thing,” his father replies, still impassive. He sounds dismissive as he says that, which makes Jeongguk’s heart break a little. From the disdain in his dad’s words right now, he doesn’t really think he’s going to get anything from him.

“It’s what I want to do,” Jeongguk replies. “I know you don’t agree with it, but I won’t change my mind about it.”

Jeongguk’s father nods then, taking a deep breath. “I assume you don’t have much of a choice, otherwise you wouldn’t have come here.”

Something about those words is humiliating to Jeongguk, who can’t help but lower his gaze from his father’s face to the desk. It’s then that he spots it—the wedding band on his father’s ring finger, on the left hand. He knows it’s not the one that he used to have when he was married to his mother. That one was golden, this looks way lighter. Maybe white gold? Jeongguk is not good with his metals.

“Well, what can I say?” Jeongguk says, raising his eyes to look at his father. “I’m desperate. I’m running out of time.”

His father nods then. Jeongguk doesn’t know what’s coming next—if it’s a no, a yes, or his father straight up asking him to leave. What he wasn’t expecting is for his father to ask, “Jeongguk, do you have a girlfriend?”

Jeongguk clenches his jaw at that. “We have already talked about that,” he says, unsure of why his father is bringing this up now.

“And have you changed your mind yet?” his father asks.

“Dad, I’m gay,” Jeongguk tells him then, the word ‘dad’ slipping past his lips before he can stop it. “That’s not gonna change. It's who I am.”

His father looks away, then. “Every day I blame myself for not being there enough when you were growing up. Maybe if you had had a male figure around…” he says, trailing off. Jeongguk doesn’t say anything—he just clenches his fist. It’s not the first time they’ve had this conversation, and it always goes the same way. It’s always about how Jeongguk spent too much time with babysitters and with his grandmother. How, after Jeonghyun was gone, he was missing a male influence in his life.

“Let’s not again,” Jeongguk says, interrupting him before he can say anything else. He knows screaming and yelling won’t be allowed, not in his father’s workplace, but that’s not what Jeongguk is worried about. He knows that, in a whisper, his father can say things more hurtful than anything anyone else could ever scream at him. And Jeongguk doesn’t want to hear it. “Just give me a yes or a no. I came here for an answer, not to update each other on our lives.”

There is a beat of silence where his father and he just look at each other without saying anything. Then, his father says, “You’ll get your inheritance when you’re twenty-five. That should be enough time for you to get it out of your system,” his father says.

Jeongguk’s eyes widen. Twenty-five? By that time, he’ll be too old to start studying in that field. He’ll be done around the time he’s thirty—that could never work out for him. He needs this now.

“That’s too late,” Jeongguk protests. He can’t help but beg then. “Please, please—I need it now. Twenty-five is too late for what I wanna do. What difference does it make if you give it to me now?”

“If you can’t do ballet by then, perhaps you’ll focus on something more worthy of your time and my money,” his father tells him then. “It might work out in your favor, after all.”

Jeongguk clenches his jaw. So that’s what his dad wanted all along? For it to be too late for him to pursue ballet, so he ends up doing something else? It makes sense, Jeongguk thinks. Sadly enough, it’s something that he can see his dad doing. His dad, the same one who would rather see him doing Law, Business or something of the sorts before doing something that makes him happy.

Jeongguk promised himself he wouldn’t snap or lose control, but he can’t help it. He says, “You’re such a piece of shit.” His father doesn’t look startled by his words, almost as if he were waiting for it. Jeongguk starts walking towards the door then, and only when he has it open he stops, looks at his father and adds, “I hope you do a better job at raising your youngest son than you did with Jeonghyun and me.”

Jeongguk closes the door behind himself and doesn’t look back—not even to say goodbye to the receptionist, who looks at him startled.

Deep down, Jeongguk knew things would happen this way. He knew there was no way his dad would help him, not with this. He feels stupid for ever feeling hopeful, for believing that there was any chance he’d get the help that he needed from him.

As he gets to the elevator, once he’s alone, his eyes start to water. There is just one thought in his mind right now—he shouldn’t have come.

 

 

After talking to his dad, Jeongguk goes straight to work. Spending some time cleaning up the shit that the students at your dream school cause is not ideal, nor something that will help Jeongguk calm down, but he knows a way to do so. It’s early in the evening now, so soon enough the classes and studios will all be empty and only the staff—and those night owls that don’t leave until they’re kicked out, like Yoongi—will leave.

Luckily for Jeongguk, as a cleaner, he knows in which areas some of his fellow co-workers will be, and he knows where it’s safe for him to go unseen. As soon as he gets there, he tells the coworker that he knows is in charge of locking up tonight that he’ll take over. The guy is more than happy to hear such news—Jeongguk knows that he has a wife and a young kid waiting for him back home, so he doesn’t ask too many questions and happily takes the offer.

Jeongguk hurries fulfilling his duties that day, being as fast as he can. And then, when even the most diligent students that stay behind are finally gone, and when the rest of the cleaners are starting to leave as well, Jeongguk starts walking towards one of the studios he knows will be empty. As he walks there, he makes sure that area is deserted—no noises at all, no lights on. And once he’s sure he’s completely isolated, he plugs his phone into the stereo in the room, and he dances.

One of the reasons why dancing has always been there for Jeongguk, even during the times when everyone tried to take it away from him, is because it has always been Jeongguk’s outlet for his emotions. He dances when he’s sad, he dances when he’s angry, he dances when he's happy. He’s clumsy when it comes to expressing his emotions with words, but with his body? He’s mastered that.

Right now, he can’t even make sense of what he’s feeling. Part of him is disappointed, part is enraged at himself, part enraged at his father. He’s also desperate in that way he hasn’t felt for a very long time, where he doesn’t see any lights at the end of this tunnel. He’s ashamed and humiliated, too. It’s a mixture that his brain can’t make sense of, but that his body seems to understand perfectly.

He’s always had a thing for dancing to pop and rock music, something about the stark contrast in the classical dance moves and the contemporary feeling hypnotising and provoking to him. That’s why instead of the typical pieces that he more often than not dances and teaches to, he picks a rock playlist today. One after the other, the songs start playing and Jeongguk can’t stop, can’t stop, can’t stop. His forehead is sweaty and he’s starting to feel tired, his limbs screaming at him to stop, but he doesn’t want to. He has lost all notion of time, and can’t think of anything else other than his next move.

This is the closest he’s going to get to his catharsis—in an empty studio, playing music so loud that everything around him becomes secondary.

Maybe that’s why he loses track of time, and maybe it’s also why he doesn’t notice the figure that appears from the corridor, since whoever it is doesn’t turn the hallway lights on. Jeongguk doesn’t realize he’s being watched through the glass windows that face the corridor, but even if he did, he wouldn’t be able to stop himself. Not now.

He wouldn’t be able to say whether this is helping him feel a little better, or a little freer. It’s hard to tell; his heart still feels like there is a big, cruel hand squeezing it, and he still feels too hopeless to decide. But at least he feels like he can finally breathe.

That feeling doesn’t last for long, though. Maybe it’s because he has shaken the anger and rage away now, but eventually, as one of the songs ends, Jeongguk falls to his knees. He doesn’t even have the energy to urge himself to stand up again—instead, he just lets himself fall and sit back, tucking his head between his knees, and starts crying.

It’s then that the person watching him lets themselves be known. Jeongguk is startled when he hears the door open, but he’s a lot more surprised when he sees who’s there.

“Taehyung?” he asks, shocked to see him there.

Taehyung wastes no time, immediately approaching to him and kneeling right next to where Jeongguk is. With how hard he’s crying, Jeongguk feels like he should hate anyone seeing him like this, in such a vulnerable state. However, when Taehyung holds him, wrapping his arms around him and tucking Jeongguk’s head in the crook of his neck, Jeongguk can’t help but feel… safe. Not uncomfortable, not like Taehyung has invaded his personal space. He feels safe.

“What’s wrong?” Taehyung asks then, clearly worried. Jeongguk understands why—with no context at all, it must be odd to see him break down like this all of sudden. They haven’t been texting back and forth today, not after the meeting with Jeongguk’s dad, so Taehyung really has no context whatsoever. “What happened? Gukkie, tell me.”

“Why are you here?” Jeongguk asks, ignoring the questions. Not because he doesn’t want to reply—he will in a minute. He just wants to know. “How’d you know?”

“I sent Yoongi a text saying I couldn’t get ahold of you and he told me you’d probably be here,” Taehyung tells him. “I figured maybe you’d be upset after today, so I just—I didn’t want to ignore, in case you were in a bad place.”

Jeongguk feels his heart swell a little then. He’s not going to say he has never felt as taken care of, because that’s a lie. He feels taken care of by his friends, like Yoongi and Hoseok, and he has always had his grandmother to look after him. Still, that doesn’t mean he can’t be moved by the sincerity in Taehyung’s eyes as he says that, or the worry in his face. Don’t get him wrong, he doesn’t want to make Taehyung worry, but it’s just nice to know someone cares.

“I see,” Jeongguk says, nodding a little. Taehyung looks at him with expectant eyes, and so, Jeongguk takes a deep breath and says, “I talked to my dad, as you know.”

Taehyung nods, affirming. Jeongguk had been texting him previous to getting to the office, so of course Taehyung knew that the meeting would be happening today. After all, it was Taehyung’s idea, so Jeongguk wanted to update him on how it went.

“And… it didn’t go well?” Taehyung asks.

Jeongguk laughs, bitterly. “I don’t know. I genuinely don’t know. He’s not giving me my inheritance until I’m twenty-five and too old to pursue dance, so in that sense, it didn’t go well at all,” Jeongguk explains. He sees Taehyung’s expression change then, radically turn into an afflicted one. “But just—he’s married now. He has another kid. He’s still as much of a piece of shit as he was five years ago.”

“Was he cruel to you?” Taehyung asks, his arms squeezing Jeongguk a little tighter.

“Yeah,” Jeongguk replies, letting himself be soothed. It’s hard to talk about, but he must admit that Taehyung being there for him is a huge help. He makes everything easier. “I don’t know. I think he was going to give in to the inheritance thing, that he was going to accept it. But then…”

“Then what?” insists Taehyung after Jeongguk trails off. It’s not pushy, however. Just encouraging.

“Then he asked if I have a girlfriend. And I maybe should have said no, kept him happy and that’s it. But I told him again I was gay—he’s known since I was sixteen. And then he shut me down and told me that he wouldn’t give me it until I was twenty-five, so I had the time to get it out of my system,” Jeongguk replies, mocking his tone.

“That’s so fucking gross,” Taehyung replies, his voice right in Jeongguk’s ear. “He’s trash, Guk.”

“I just—” Jeongguk starts, feeling like the next bunch of words gets up talked in his throat. This isn't something he’s opened up to Taehyung about before, so he’s a little nervous. “He says that since Jeonghyun has been gone I haven’t had any masculine figure around and I spent too much time with my sitters and grandmothers. And that that is why I like ballet, and why I’m gay.”

Taehyung is confused for a moment, quiet. “Wait, who’s Jeonghyun?” he asks then, curiosity and confusion dripping down his voice.

Jeongguk sighs. “Jeonghyun was my brother,” Jeongguk replies. Taehyung tenses up at the usage of was instead of is. Jeongguk takes a deep breath—it hurts to talk about this, but he has to tell Taehyung. Especially if he wants them to become something at some point. “He passed away when I was thirteen. Drug overdose.”

“What the fuck,” Taehyung says then, voice low. He is speechless for a few seconds, and then says, “I’m so sorry, Jeongguk. I just—wow. I’m sorry. If I had known I would have never…”

“I know,” Jeongguk tells him. “I know you couldn’t have known, and I know that in your eyes I was just clueless and overreacting. I know you didn’t mean any harm by it, but… do you understand now why it makes me nervous?”

“Fuck, yes,” Taehyung replies, voice still urgent and worried. He feels guilty, Jeongguk can tell. “I’m just… I’m very, very sorry about what I said back then. About you having no idea and… Well. You know. I regretted saying it before, too, but now even more.” Taehyung is quiet for a second, before he adds, “I haven’t done it again, since we argued. I just... I guess I just wanted you to know.”

Jeongguk shrugs a little, as well as he can with Taehyung’s arms around his body. “I know you didn’t mean it like that, and you couldn’t have known,” he says. “I’ve forgiven you for that. So please, don’t beat yourself up over it. And I... I’m glad you’ve stopped, Tae.”

He can feel Taehyung relax a little against him, which is a relief for him as well. The last thing he needs right now is for things to turn awkward or weird between Taehyung and him. Taehyung has become the highlight of his days, the part of his life that he looks the most forward to, so he doesn’t want their relationship to suffer any sort of damage.

“Okay, okay,” Taehyung says then, his voice a little more soothed now. That’s good, Jeongguk thinks. “So… after he died. What happened then?”

“Everything turned into a mess, I guess,” Jeongguk said, closing his eyes and letting himself enjoy Taehyung’s warmth. “Mom and dad started having problems, because they both blamed each other for not being pendant enough, not being good enough parents. I think that, deep down, they were both blaming themselves. It was just easier to act like it was the other they were mad at.”

Taehyung nods at that, saying, “That makes sense, yeah. And what about you?”

“I felt so lonely and so desperate,” Jeongguk replies. “At that age I was old enough to vaguely understand what had happened, but not to totally comprehend it. It was, just—hard. It was hard to wrap my head around the fact that my brother was gone forever. And because of drugs… He was just seventeen. He was around the wrong crowd, my parents always used to say.”

“I’m sorry you had to go through something like that at such a young age,” Taehyung tells him, holding him close. Again, Jeongguk shrugs his shoulders.

“It was… hard. Around that time is when I discovered that ballet was what I wanted to dedicate myself to for the rest of my life. It helped so, so incredibly much during that time. Things at home were shit—mom and dad fought all the time, and Jeonghyun’s bedroom’s door was permanently closed because none of us could stand the sight of it,” Jeongguk explains. “When I went home I missed him more than ever, so I just… ballet became my safe space, you know? Where I could be happy, or at least, forget about the sadness for a while.”

“That’s good, Jeongguk,” Taehyung tells him. “It’s better to shelter ourselves under something we enjoy instead of letting grief consume us.”

“I think that too, yeah,” Jeongguk agrees. “I don’t know if I could have gotten over it without ballet, especially considering how badly things at home were. But then, when I was sixteen, my parents found out, and that’s when everything came crashing down.”

“They took from you what had kept you going,” Taehyung says. Jeongguk nods.

“And then things became hell again,” he adds. “I think their relationship was already dead by that point, but they had managed to stay together. I guess for my sake? But after that, they split up. Neither of them liked that I did ballet, and my dad started calling me slurs. During one of those times I also told them I liked boys, so you can imagine the rest…” Taehyung nods, rapidly. “Again they started blaming each other, but they both agreed it was because I had no one masculine enough to look up to. According to my mom, it was my dad’s fault for never being at home. According to my dad, it was my mom’s fault for always making my grandmother, her mom, take care of me—especially because she was the one who got me into the school. And then they both agreed it was because Jeonghyun had died, and so they started blaming each other for his death again.”

“And that’s when they split up, then?” Taehyung asks.

Jeongguk nods. “We moved in with my grandmother then, my mom and I, but I could tell my mom didn’t want me around. She moved out soon after and I stayed with my granny because she was way happier to have me.”

Taehyung sighs then, and Jeongguk stays quiet. He welcomes the quiet, tender kiss that Taehyung drops by his ear.

“I think that, if anything, all of this just shows how important ballet is for you, and how much you’ve already sacrificed for it,” Taehyung tells him. Jeongguk nods—Taehyung is right. He’s had bad things that have happened to him, things that have shaped him into the person he is today. Ballet has been present through all of the bad. It’s Jeongguk’s dream for a reason.

“So you don’t think it’s useless or dumb of me to be so persistent?” Jeongguk asks. “If I changed my mind and went for something else, I know my dad would actually have no problem funding me. I just…”

“You want to stay true to who you are and what you want, don’t you?” Taehyung asks. Jeongguk nods, glad that Taehyung could word it better than him. “We all have our dreams, Jeongguk. Just because they’re taken out of reach doesn’t mean we stop trying.”

“But there are some people who need to give up on their passions,” Jeongguk tells him, always a pessimist. “It doesn’t work out for everyone.”

“I like to believe us humans feed off hope,” Taehyung replies, then. “Maybe you’ll never get there, but giving up makes life dull and boring. I’d rather try, always.”

“Makes sense you say that,” Jeongguk says. He realizes now that he’s not crying anymore, and that he feels much… lighter. He understands the expression a weight has been lifted off his shoulders literally now, as he really does feel like it has. “You’re already fulfilling your dreams and dedicating yourself to your passion, so…”

“My passions,” Taehyung corrects then. “Both of them. Even if one of them is halfway.”

Jeongguk frowns a little then, craning his neck to look at Taehyung. “What do you mean, both? Drag and what else?”

“I would say music is a passion of mine, too,” Taehyung starts to explain. “Even if I can’t dedicate myself to it as much as I’d like to. I don’t have proper formation, aside from some singing lessons when I was younger.”

“So how come you’re not following your own advice and pursuing it, huh?” Jeongguk asks, teasing. It’s a miracle he’s in the mood to joke so quickly after a crisis like the one before. Once again, the Taehyung effect.

“I am! Kind of,” Taehyung tells him. Even if he can’t see him, Jeongguk can hear the smile on his face. “I thought to myself maybe it’d be best to establish myself as a drag performer before venturing into music. That’s what a lot of people do, anyway—but they usually have a lot more exposure than me.”

“You have a decent number of followers on Instagram,” Jeongguk comments, thinking of the few thousands of followers that Taehyung has on said social media. The number oscillates somewhere between twenty thousand and twenty-five, but Jeongguk doesn’t know for sure right now. “And you do post videos of your performances sometimes.”

“And people like them! I just would like to work on more original work, but I don’t even know where to start,” Taehyung tells him. “I know jackshit about producing or composing, but I would like to learn at some point. I have written lyrics before, but I just—I don’t know how to turn them into a song, you know?”

Jeongguk nods, getting the gist of what Taehyung means. Jeongguk’s words give him an idea, but he’s not going to say anything. Not until he knows for sure that what he’s thought about has any practical basis.

“I can’t wait for you to become a SoundCloud celebrity,” Jeongguk tells him, joking. Taehyung just laughs at that, and it comes out as lighthearted, and Jeongguk wishes he could listen to it for the rest of his life.

“Watch me go viral on Twitter and link my SoundCloud under every tweet,” Taehyung says.

Jeongguk turns around a little from where he is, still in Taehyung’s arms, and drops a kiss to his chin. “I know you can do it, babe.”

Taehyung smiles, pulling Jeongguk in for another kiss. It’s short and sweet, but it’s enough to make Jeongguk feels like his legs are jelly.

“We should probably get back,” Taehyung tells him then, one of his big hands tenderly brushing the fringe away from his eyes. Jeongguk nods, agreeing—he’s sweaty and tired, and all of his body aches. “How about we get to my place and take a bubble bath?”

The thought of a nice, warm bubble bath with Taehyung is much more appealing than a lonely shower at his place, so he’s about to say yes without thinking twice about it. But then he stops himself to ask, “Don’t you have to go to work tonight?”

“I’ll go a bit later tonight. I’ll just take a bit less to get ready, plus, I’m not one of the first performers tonight, anyway, so we’re good,” Taehyung explains. Jeongguk nods content with the answer. If he hadn’t had the day that he had, he probably would have been the bigger person and told Taehyung to go to work. But the truth is that he feels in urgent need of love and affection from Taehyung, so he’s not going to say no this time. “Come on, then. Let’s get going, Gukkie.”

Taehyung stands up first, and then he tends his hands to Jeongguk and helps lift him up. He accompanies Jeongguk get his things from the staff area and, after that, they lock up and leave, hand in hand.

That night, Taehyung runs them both a bath, even if getting into the bathtub is more of a flexibility exercise than they were anticipating, considering how long their legs are. Once they’ve bathed, both of them prepare a quick dinner and eat with Seokjin, before moving to Taehyung’s bedroom where he gets ready for work as Jeongguk gets in bed.

Taehyung kisses Jeongguk’s forehead when he’s ready to leave, telling him to have sweet dreams before closing the door and disappearing from Jeongguk’s sight. And despite the horrible day he’s had, and even if he’s been let down by his own family again and has seen his dreams slip through his fingers like sand, Jeongguk falls asleep with a smile on his face that night. And if that doesn’t mean something, Jeongguk doesn’t think anything ever will.

 

 

Jeongguk doesn’t think that Yoongi can see any of this coming when he approaches him one night, knowing he’d be in the piano room still working. Yoongi smiles at him and greets him warmly, to which Jeongguk replies with a big, toothy grin as he walks to his friend.

“Hey, hyung,” Jeongguk tells him, trying to make his voice as mellow as possible. “Can you do me a huge, huge favor?”

“I can try,” Yoongi tells him, turning around a little on his stool to look at Jeongguk. “What is it?”

“You can say no if you don’t want to,” he tells Yoongi. He’s asking for a favor, but under no circumstances does he want Yoongi to feel obligated.

“Okay, okay, that’s chill,” Yoongi says. Jeongguk can tell he’s starting to get impatient, but he doesn’t know whether that’s a good or bad sign. Maybe it’s just… indifferent. “Tell me what favor it is, and I’ll do what I can.”

“It’s me asking but I’m asking for Taehyung,” Jeongguk starts to explain. “We were talking the other day and he told me that he’s always been into music and would like to dedicate himself to it in addition to drag. He said he’s trying to work on composing and creating his own music, but he doesn’t really know where to begin.”

Yoongi raises an eyebrow at him. “I see,” he replies, nodding along as he touches his chin. “And… you want me to help him out with that, unless I’m reading this wrong.”

“If it’s not too much of a bother… yes,” Jeongguk says. He knows Yoongi—he knows that he’s the most loving and caring guy around, and that he loves and cares both for him and Taehyung (him a little bit more, but that’s because of longevity). Jeongguk hopes that, despite being busy, Yoongi can help Taehyung out a little. Only if he can and wants to, of course.

“I’ll help him out,” Yoongi says, making a huge smile spread on Jeongguk’s face. “Tell him to let me know when he’s free, and I’m sure we can arrange something.”

“Oh my God, hyung, you’re the best,” Jeongguk tells him then, ducking down so he can launch himself all over Yoongi. He gives him a backhug, closing his arms around Yoongi’s chest at the same time he squishes their cheeks together. “How could I ever repay you?”

“At this point you’re just sweet-talking me,” Yoongi replies then, laughing a little. “But I do like the praise, so please, keep it coming.”

Jeongguk laughs at that, squeezing his arms around Jeongguk a little tighter. “I mean it, though. It means a lot that you’d do this for me—for him, too,” he says.

“It’s really not a problem at all,” Yoongi tells him. From the corner of his eye, Jeongguk can see his friend give him a smile. “You’re crazy about that boy, aren’t you?”

Jeongguk sighs a little, feeling exposed. “Pretty much, yeah,” he ends up replying as he lets go of Jeongguk. “How come?”

“Nothing, nothing,” Yoongi says, with a smile. “I just think it’s a joy to see you two make each other happy.”

Jeongguk can’t help but smile widely at that, reaching back so he can scratch the back of his neck. If he felt exposed before, he definitely feels it even more right now. It’s nothing bad, not at all. He just wonders how transparent it must be for Yoongi to say that. At the same time, though, the words bring a huge smile to his face.

Making Taehyung happy. That’s all he cares about.

 

 

Jeongguk has been trying—and succeeding—to keep control of his jealousy. What he has with Taehyung is something good, so he doesn’t want it to turn into something bad just because he can’t keep his own emotions at bay. There have been a few recent events that definitely have helped him look at things with a bit more perspective, such as Jimin telling him Taehyung was, in his own words, in love with him, or the talk where Taehyung and he defined their relationship as something.

Something, however, is not very… specific. Jeongguk assumed something was mutually exclusive, and he has no doubts that Taehyung thought the same. Realistically, there can’t be much of a difference between the situation that Taehyung and he are in right now and an official relationship, except for the label itself.

So then, why does Jeongguk crave defining the relationship so badly now?

Because he’s jealous, Jeongguk knows. Because they’ve come to the club to watch Taehyung perform again, and Jeongguk can’t help but feel the strings of his heart pull a little whenever he sees Taehyung get up and become a little flirty with someone. Jeongguk knows it doesn’t mean anything, but the rational part of his brain seems to have shut down completely now. Instead, he can only hear the jealous voice in his head that whispers poisonous stuff to him upon seeing Taehyung and Namjoon talking together.

Always Namjoon. And his stupid dimple, stupidly bright smile and stupidly tall body.

It’s not fair.

It’s only Jimin and him tonight, and Jimin can read him and his reactions like an open book. He repeats to him what he said the other day—it’s just his persona, he doesn’t mean anything by it, he’s crazy about you. And Jeongguk knows. He knows. He’s just a goddamn mess with no control whatsoever of his emotions.

“I just think you guys need to have another talk,” Jimin ends up telling him, after Jeongguk rants to him about his insecurities. It’s a busy night tonight, so Taehyung spends more time helping by the bar than sitting down beside them. “One where you get to an actual conclusion.”

“What do you mean an actual conclusion?” Jeongguk asks then, frowning a little.

Jimin rolls his eyes. “Something is not a proper conclusion to come to when you’re talking about relationship status,” he replies. Jeongguk hasn’t told him about that specifically, but he’s Taehyung’s best friend—it’s not odd for him to be updated. “Do you want Taehyung to be your boyfriend?”

Jeongguk’s eyes widen then. He knows it’s technically impossible Taehyung heard with how loud the bar is, but he still shushes and says, “Jimin! Let’s not go there, please.”

“That’s not an answer,” Jimin insists, having discounted Jeongguk’s reply. “Yes or no? It’s not that hard of a question, is it?”

“Shut up,” Jeongguk says. Still not an answer, but this time Jimin just smiles.

“Brat,” he says, clearly in reference to Jeongguk telling him to shut up. “I’m just gonna say that, if you want to, you should ask. I think it’s time for you two to get your shit together.”

Jeongguk doesn’t reply to Jimin right then, just rolls his eyes at him, but he can’t deny that the idea doesn’t leave his mind afterwards. Not even when he’s in Taehyung’s car later on, being driven home by a very sober Taehyung who didn’t have anything to drink during work night.

Taehyung is quietly humming along to a song as he drives, his voice soothing Jeongguk. He didn’t take off his nail polish, so Jeongguk watches how he drums his pink nails on top of the gear lever at the rhythm of the music. It’s quiet and comfortable, a silent intimate in the way that only people with a deep level of trust can have between them.

So of course, Jeongguk has to fuck it up.

“Are you and that Namjoon guy close?” he asks.

Taehyung steals a glance at him before focusing back on the road, saying, “How do you know Namjoon?”

“Jimin introduced us the first time I went to the club, with Hoseok,” Jeongguk explains. He bites down on his bottom lip, hoping he’s not being too pushy when he asks, “So, are you close?”

“We get along. I would consider him a friend, yeah,” Taehyung says, stopping at a street light. Jeongguk, who by now knows the way to Taehyung’s place, knows they are very close to their destination now.

“Were you ever together?” Jeongguk asks then. He only realizes he’s tempting his luck after the words have already left his mouth, and he realizes how horribly jealous they sound. Even more than he was anticipating.

“Where did you get that from?” Taehyung asks, frowning a little. He doesn’t seem mad, though—just terribly confused. “We’ve never been a thing, and we’re not gonna be one. How come you’re asking?”

“Just curious,” Jeongguk shrugs. It’s followed by a, “You guys seem flirty.”

Taehyung seems to get what is going on then, right as they enter his street. “You’re jealous,” he says. Jeongguk doesn’t confirm nor deny—he doesn’t really say anything at all. Taehyung asks then, “Why are you jealous?”

“Because you seem flirty,” Jeongguk repeats, feeling humiliated for bringing this up. Well, at least he guesses it will be better to discuss it at last. Especially since it seems to be a recurring feeling. “And he’s like—I don’t know. He’s tall and handsome.”

“You think he’s tall and handsome,” Taehyung replies with a little smile on his lips, parking the car and pulling at the hand brake. “Maybe it should be me who's being jealous.”

“No! No, no,” Jeongguk rushes to add. He knows Taehyung is teasing him, but he still shakes his hands and head vigorously. “I don’t like him.”

“Neither do I,” Taehyung tells him then. “We’re just good friends. As for flirting, it’s not something I do intentionally. I know I tend to get flirty when I’m in drag, but I can try to change that if you want.”

“No! No, I don’t want you to change anything about what you do or how you act in drag,” Jeongguk replies, his face getting warmer. “It’s just…”

He trails off, and so Taehyung insists, “It’s just what?”

“I don’t know,” Jeongguk replies. This isn’t going the way he wanted it to, and his plan seemed way better in his head. But they’ve already reached this point, so he might as well go all the way now. He adds, “I just think that maybe you should be my boyfriend so this stupid jealousy shit doesn’t happen.”

They go silent for a moment, where Jeongguk feels Taehyung’s gaze on the side of his face. He, however, looks down to his feet, that seem to be so fucking fascinating right now.

“Jeon Jeongguk,” Taehyung starts then. Jeongguk is not looking at him, but he’s positive he can hear the smile on his face. “Are you asking me to be your boyfriend?”

“A bit clumsily,” Jeongguk replies, managing to tear his gaze away from his shoes and looking at Taehyung. His eyebrows are raised in what appears to be a mixture of surprise and disbelief, but he’s smiling really widely. “But yeah, I am.”

Jeongguk watches how Taehyung undoes his seatbelt before surging forward, pulling Jeongguk in close to him by wrapping his arms around his neck. Their lips are almost touching and Jeongguk goes a little cross-eyed as he looks at Taehyung, but he doesn’t mind at all. Especially not when Taehyung says, “Yes.” He gives Jeongguk a peck. Then, pulling back again, he says, “Yes, I’ll be your boyfriend.”

It’s then that Jeongguk reacts, moving so he can wrap his arms around Taehyung’s waist and pull him a bit closer—as much as the little space they have in the car allows. He must admit he’s cheesing, grinning wider than he has in this entire life as he says, “Good, boyfriend of mine.”

That makes Taehyung giggle, but the sound is swallowed by Jeongguk’s lips when he goes in for a kiss, this one a proper one. Taehyung’s mouth is soft and pliant under his, and Jeongguk loves it. With all his heart.

The kiss in Taehyung’s car for a little, before Taehyung pulls back and says, “Come on, let’s get to mine. As much as I like some car making out, I really can’t wait to get in bed.”

Jeongguk laughs at that, pulling away and running his fingers through his hair. “Okay, okay,” he agrees. Then, just because now he can, he adds, “Boyfriend.”

“That would be me,” Taehyung replies, accompanied by a giggle. “I can’t believe you were jealous, though.”

“Listen, we all have our insecurities,” Jeongguk tells him, unbuckling his seatbelt as Taehyung laughs again. “Tall and handsome men with dimples happen to be one of mine.”

“You’re such a clown,” Taehyung tells him, opening the car door. “Plus, Yoongi would kill me if I really was into Namjoon.”

“How do you mean?” Jeongguk asks, frowning a little. Taehyung raises his eyebrows at him. “What?”

“You really pay no attention when you come to the bar, do you?” Taehyung asks, eyebrow raised.

“I do pay attention,” Jeongguk says. “To you, though.”

Taehyung laughs again, shaking his head. “So then you’ve never noticed how Yoongi’s smoking breaks are unusually long?” he asks. Jeongguk shakes his head—it’s not something he has realized, if he’s honest. “Just like you’ve never noticed how he spends all of them talking to Namjoon. Flirting with him, I would say.”

“Wait, Yoongi has what?” Jeongguk asks, his voice pitching up at the last word. This is great—not only because he’s glad that Yoongi has at last found himself a man to flirt with, which Jeongguk is also terribly happy about, but also because it’s good teasing material. Jeongguk is going to have so, so much fun with this. “You need to tell me about that.”

“Oh, don’t worry,” Taehyung tells him, wiggling his eyebrows at him. He starts getting out of the car then, and Jeongguk mimics him. After closing the door behind himself and locking the car, he starts walking towards his complex and adds, “I’m gonna tell you all about it.”

 

 

Jeongguk doesn’t think anything of it when he sees the ad hanging on the board of the Seoul Art Academy’s main hall, held by a red pin. He sometimes reads the ads people pin on the board, mostly out of curiosity. This one was easy to miss—white paper, with plain and black letters. Jeongguk didn’t spot it on its first week, nor its second. God, who knows how long it had been there for until his eyes skimmed over it.

He didn’t pay attention until one day he was mopping the floor in the main hall, and out of pure boredom, looked at the board. Upon reading it, what caught Jeongguk’s attention the most was the fact that it was put there by the school itself, not one of their students or staff members.

What was announced wasn’t too interesting for Jeongguk, who didn’t see how it could be remotely useful for him. Despite that, the ad lingered in the back of his mind. Not because he thought it would be of any use for him, but it just did. Maybe his subconscious was trying to tell him something that he didn’t see, or was too negative to think about.

It must be that same subconscious which makes him bring it up one night, when he and the rest of his friends are hanging out at his apartment. Taehyung and he are both squeezed on one armchair, and although half of his body is getting the pins and needles from Taehyung’s limbs being all tangled with his, he is not going to move. Right next to them, sitting on the floor are Hoseok and Jimin. Jeongguk had offered to get them chairs from the kitchen, but they had refused saying the floor was okay with them. On the couch opposite to them sits Yoongi, along with Namjoon and Seokjin, who just like Taehyung have a night off.

If Jeongguk was told around a month ago that he’d be here, hanging out with Namjoon and considering him part of his group of friends, maybe he would have been skeptical. But after finally making things with Taehyung official he felt himself become a lot more… relaxed in the jealousy sense. It’s amazing for him how just a simple title could give him so much safety, especially considering that just like he anticipated, things between him and Taehyung didn’t change much after becoming boyfriends. However, he’s glad they took that step; upon getting to know Namjoon, Jeongguk has discovered that he’s actually a really cool guy. He's the kind of person that he can see himself being friends with, even if they don’t know each other much yet. He’s chill to be around, he’s funny in an endearing way, and he seems to fit in well with the rest of them.

Plus, what Taehyung had mentioned about Yoongi and his suspiciously long smoking breaks turned out to be true. Now that they are properly hanging out with Namjoon, he also notices how Yoongi laughs a little harder at Namjoon’s jokes than he does at everyone else’s, or how he’s significantly closer to him on the couch than he is to Seokjin.

The thing is, all of them are hanging out at Jeongguk’s, taking advantage of the fact that Namjoon, Seokjin and Taehyung have the night off. Jeongguk doesn’t know why he suddenly remembers the ad he saw that very same week, on Tuesday, but for some reason he feels the impending need to talk about it.

“I saw an ad the other day at work,” he starts, six pairs of eyes suddenly on him. “They’re offering a scholarship, a free ride, for whoever presents a choreography in front of a tribunal, or something like that. A free fucking ride, the whole thing.”

It’s Taehyung who perks up at that, suddenly pulling back a little so he can properly look at Jeongguk. “A full free ride?” he asks. Jeongguk nods, then. Taehyung asks, “And what did you say you have to do? A choreography?”

“A modern ballet choreography to an original piece, if I remember well,” Jeongguk replies. It’s followed by a shrug, as he adds, “They attached a list of composers linked to the school, students and maybe even some teachers.”

“You’re doing it, right?” Taehyung asks. Jeongguk frowns. “You’re applying.”

“I don’t even know if I can. Maybe the signing up period is closed already,” Jeongguk replies. “Besides, the deadline is in three weeks. There's no way I can find someone to compose me a song in a week and a half, and then make a choreography myself. Anything anyone has done in the past few months is gonna be much better than what I could do in that time. Plus, I’m sure no one would accept with so little time.”

“You’re such a negative Nancy,” Taehyung scolds him, lightly slapping his chest. Jeongguk is about to say how it’s not being negative, but he genuinely didn’t think it was allowed for him to apply at this point, but Taehyung then turns around to look over his shoulder, asking, “Yoongi, did you know about this?”

“I didn’t know anything, to be honest,” Yoongi admits. “I guess I'm not cool enough to be asked to participate in that,” he adds, which makes Hoseok throw him a pillow from where he’s sitting.

Taehyung juts out his lips, seemingly deep in thought for a few seconds. He looks at Jeongguk again and says, “Does it have to be someone from the list? Or can it be any composer?”

“I think it can be anyone,” Jeongguk replies, trying to remember what the ad specifically said. “It said something like a choreography to an original piece in collaboration with any composer or artist of the aspirant’s choice, I think? And then it gave a list of suggested composers with some contact details.”

“So it could be anyone,” Taehyung says. It’s not a question, but Jeongguk still nods. “So, let’s say, we could help you.”

“Who is we?” Jeongguk asks, raising an eyebrow.

“Yoongi and me, of course,” Taehyung quickly retorts. He then adds, “Well, more so Yoongi. I’m still quite new to composing, but I’ll try to help as much as I can. I can sing on it too, if you want.”

“Wait—seriously?” Jeongguk asks. He looks at Taehyung, who doesn’t seem like he’s joking around. “Are you really…? You know there’s only three weeks left, right?”

“We can at least try,” Taehyung says. He turns around to look at Yoongi and says, “Do you think it’s doable?”

“I do think it’s doable,” Yoongi says, with one nod. Then, looking at Jeongguk, he adds, “And it’s something important for you. I think we could have it soon, and record it with enough time for you to prepare a choreography. It’s gonna be rushed, but I know you can do it. You have the talent for it.”

The implications of what really is going on hit Jeongguk right there and then, and he suddenly feels too overwhelmed to even form words. Not only because this is a new chance, an unexpected one that he didn’t see coming at all. But also because Taehyung and Yoongi are really offering to do this. They are willing to help him out with this, with something that they will absolutely get no benefit from. It makes him feel incredibly supported and loved, and so he has to blink a couple of times to will away the sting of tears flooding his eyes.

“You’d really do that?” he asks, voice sounding a little more strained than he would have liked. “You’d do that for me?”

“And much more, Gukkie,” replies Taehyung, surging forward and giving Jeongguk a hug as he laughs a little. Jeongguk returns the hug, aware that everyone can see how emotional he is right now. But, fuck—he can’t help it. He has the best friends and boyfriend in the world. “We’ll start as soon as possible. Anything for you.”

Jeongguk closes his eyes then, nuzzling a little into Taehyung’s neck as he hears a choir of coos around them. He doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to do this, to make a good choreography that will luckily impress the directing board of the school and win him a scholarship. He’s been let down enough times to know that, no matter how much he promises himself he will, there is always a big chance of losing.

But, God—he is going to try. He’s going to do his best, and he’s going to fight for this. For Taehyung and Yoongi, because they are willing to help him. But above anyone else, for himself.

 

 

The next week goes by kind of in a flash for Jeongguk. The day right after that night when Jeongguk brought the scholarship up for the first time, and after a phone call to make sure he was eligible for the scholarship, he meets up with Yoongi and Taehyung and they both discuss how they want the track to sound. Because of their preference, what Jeongguk has in mind and what would end up fitting Taehyung’s voice, the three of them end up agreeing that soul and blues would be the best option.

After that, Jeongguk doesn’t see either of them much for the following week or so. Yoongi and Taehyung don’t have the most compatible schedules, so finding times for them to meet up is not easy. As a consequence, the time in which Taehyung would usually hang out and see Jeongguk is no longer available, at least until the piece is complete.

Jeongguk’s clingy ass is not pleased, but he knows that they’re doing it for him. He feels lonely that week, but he’s not going to make a big drama out of it. Hoseok and the rest of their friends are still around, and he still is busy with work, but their absence is clearly there. Jeongguk doesn't realize how much time he spends with Taehyung until he's gone, and suddenly his day feels much emptier and lonelier than before.

He makes it through the week, though. He watches a lot more Netflix than he's used to, also spends a lot of time sulking and complaining to Hoseok, who not even once tells him he's being dramatic.

And then, after seven torturously long days, Jeongguk gets the text. It's a Saturday afternoon and he has nothing to do when his phone goes off with one notification from a text—a text Taehyung sent.

we have it!!!!

Jeongguk bites down on his bottom lip, starting to type a reply.

when can i listen?

today!!! we're by the studio, i'll text you the address

Taehyung does as he promises, and Jeongguk promises to be there as soon as he can—probably thirty minutes, judging by how far away the studio is from his place. As he gets on some proper clothes and puts on his shoes before leaving, he realizes he’s nervous. That piece is what he considers to be his last chance at getting into the school, so he can’t deny the fact that he’s feeling antsy now that the reveal is so close. He trusts Taehyung and Yoongi with his life, and he knows that both of them know him well enough to create something that he’ll love. Despite that, he can’t help but feel nervous.

Over that, there is excitement. He still finds it hard to assimilate that Yoongi and Taehyung did that for him, especially for him. It makes him smile impossibly wide as he leaves his apartment building, the sun shining weakly in the sky.

He’s excited and happy, he’ll admit that. He can’t wait to hear the piece and be delighted by it, because he knows he’ll love it and he knows it'll be good.

And, well. There’s also the part of him that also misses Taehyung terribly and can’t wait to see him again. Probably steal a few kisses before coming through and listening to the piece.

Jeongguk gets on his feet. The earlier he gets there, the earlier he’ll listen to it. And the earlier he’ll get to hug Taehyung.

 

 

When he arrives at the studio, Jeongguk makes sure to great both Yoongi and Taehyung with a warm hug. Well, in Taehyung’s case is both a warm hug and a few kisses to his lips, a few kisses to his cheek and an arm around Taehyung’s middle as the three of them talk, but that’s beside the point.

Both of them are smiling and seemingly happy with the work they’ve done, which immediately gives Jeongguk a good feeling. He knows how particular both of them are, always making sure they are happy with the work they put out—especially if it’s for others. The fact that both of them seem so content with this makes Jeongguk feel even more excited to listen. He knows the composition is going to be amazing, everything he could have ever ask for, really.

Now he only needs to live up to. With a little less than two weeks to build a decent choreography and make it his.

But he’d rather not think about that as of now, honestly.

The time to listen to the track comes, and Yoongi goes back to the armchair right in front of the mixing table to play it. Taehyung and Jeongguk stand by his side, with Taehyung nervously scratching at the skin on his chin. He knows that Taehyung won’t admit how nervous he is, as he has been trying to soothe Jeongguk’s own anxiety during the past few days, but Jeongguk can tell. He has noticed that, when nervous, Taehyung touches his face a lot. Sometimes it’s just scratching or rubbing at the skin. Others, he brings his fingernails to his mouth—but never actually bites them.

Yoongi, who seems a lot calmer, finally moves and starts playing the track.

The first thing Jeongguk hears is a beat—a bass. It’s lonely at first, but then the sound of a piano joins in, as well as drums. And then, as the main character and the element that steals all the spotlight, Taehyung’s voice.

It’s slow, almost sultry. Jeongguk can recognize the blues and soul influences, just like the three of them had agreed, and it makes his heart swell how good it sounds, how this is exactly its element. Taehyung’s voice, Jeongguk realizes, was made for music like this.

From the corner of his eye, Jeongguk sees Taehyung bite down on his bottom lip as he stares at him, looking for his reaction. Jeongguk knows he’s not being the most expressive, but he’s trying to focus on everything about the track—from the beat to the words.

While listening to the lyrics, all that comes to Jeongguk’s mind is yearning. Taehyung’s voice sounds so broken as he sings—about longing, about an indescribable want and the way it’s consuming him. It’s worded ambiguously enough for it to sound like a love song. Or, well, more so like a heartbreak sound. But as he listens to it, Jeongguk can’t help but feel scarily identified, as if while composing Yoongi and Taehyung managed to get into his brain and word everything that he feels. Everything that he’s been feeling for years.

It’s not longing for a lover, or for a person. Jeongguk knows that the song is about him, is about dancing. It's about his passions and dreams. And, in a way, about this chance too. About how badly he wants and needs it.

Maybe that’s what breaks Jeongguk the most. Not only how beautiful it is, not only how beautiful of a gesture from Taehyung and Yoongi it is, not even the way Taehyung’s voice takes him into a trance. What gets to him the most is that they made this song for him, and for this occasion. It’s a perfect fit. It’s literally perfect.

Everything he could have ever asked for. Everything he could have ever wished. It’s the most him he’s ever heard, and it blows his mind that he wasn’t the one who did it. Fuck, someone else did it for him. Yoongi and Taehyung, who know him to a point where they could get into his mind like that and write the most perfect piece for him.

He doesn’t realize he’s crying until the end of the piece, when Yoongi turns his eyes from the screen of his laptop to him. Taehyung is still intensely staring at him, boring eyes in his cheek. It’s then, only then, that he becomes hyper-aware of the wetness in his eyes, in the way tears trickle down his cheeks and onto his chin.

“I hope those are good tears,” Yoongi jokes around there, raising both his eyebrows.

It takes Jeongguk a moment to react. “Oh my God,” he says, his voice coming out in a croak. Then, in a rush, he blurts out, “Oh my God, I can’t believe—I can’t believe you did that in under a week. It's  just so—so perfect? So me.”

Jeongguk is aware of his own inability to put his thoughts in order, much less to talk in coherent sentences that will make sense to anyone who isn’t him. Fuck, they don’t even make sense to him. But by the way Yoongi and Taehyung look at each other then, a little smile on both their lips, he assumes he must be succeeding at least a tiny bit at telling them how much he loves it.

“Is that good?” Taehyung asks, looking at him again.

“Yes,” Jeongguk replies, not missing a beat. “It’s good. It’s perfect, fuck—everything I could have ever asked for. It’s just so stripped back and raw with emotion, so… so personal. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted.” He stops himself, looking first at Taehyung and then at Yoongi. And then, in a broken and tiny voice, he adds, “Thank you.”

Taehyung coos then, pulling him into a hug and giving him one, two, three noisy kisses on his cheek. He says, “You don’t have to thank us. We’d do it for you a million times over, no questions asked.” The words make Jeongguk’s heart swell, since he knows he probably doesn’t deserve people who love him this much and would do that for him. “We’re so happy you like it.”

“And relieved,” Yoongi interjects then, a teasing smile on his face. “We’re also so relieved.”

Jeongguk laughs then, somehow ducking down and taking Taehyung with him so he can pull both him and Yoongi into a tight hug. “Thank you so, so much,” he says. “I don’t know how I’m ever supposed to pay you back for it.”

“You don’t have to pay us back,” Yoongi tells him, his hand rubbing a soothing circle on his back. “You deserve it. We both know you’re gonna do amazing.”

Taehyung makes a noise in agreement then and, once again, Jeongguk feels like he has done nothing in his life to deserve people like this. People who are as supportive and loving, who take care of him like this and… well, who help him out.

“I won’t let you down,” he says then, closing his eyes as he squeezes both of them tighter. “I promise.”

It’s a promise he makes to them, honestly. After all their hard work, he doesn’t want to disappoint them. But it’s also a promise he makes to himself. To the young, little Jeongguk who found in ballet a shelter from everything bad that was happening around him. To the current Jeongguk, who feels defeated and overcome by a fate that doesn’t feel like his. And also to the future Jeongguk, who hopefully will be a happy man able to dedicate himself to what he loves most. To what he’s fought for.

He won’t let them down, any of them. He’s going to make them proud of him. He’s going to make himself proud of the person he’s become.

 

 

The next two weeks are… rough, to say the least.

All of Jeongguk’s time is spent at dance studios—be it at the community center, when they are available, or at the school, after classes are over and when the building is empty. He’s heard the song so many times that he’s come to memorize every note, every sharp breath Taehyung takes and that is barely audible to the casual listener.

Jeongguk has a choreography now—one that he thinks is good. His feet hurt from practicing too hard, his knees hurt from throwing himself onto the floor during it, his limbs ache from being pushed too far, every day. That added to his two jobs, both at the school and at the community center. But that doesn’t stop him from practicing and practicing more. He needs perfection. He needs it to be spotless, brilliant. He needs to know that he did his absolute best, and didn’t waste the perfect opportunity.

For that reason, during those days he doesn’t talk much to… anyone, really. He knows that his friends worry, and he knows that Taehyung especially misses him. He can tell, even if Taehyung tries his best to not tell him, as he doesn’t want to make him feel bad for focusing on this. It hurts for Jeongguk too, but by the time he gets home he doesn’t have the time to think about anything—he falls asleep the moment his bed hits the pillow. As for the rest of the day, he manages to take his mind off it by dancing or working. Always one of the two.

That kind of rhythm is hard to maintain. Some days are harder than others, and today has proven to be especially difficult. Jeongguk knows he can do better than this, but for some reason, there is always something off with his dancing. He misses a beat, he gets a step confused, he goes too fast or too slow… Always something wrong. Never perfect. Never good enough.

And Jeongguk can’t have that.

It’s the middle of the night, and he’s sick of fucking up. By the nth time he does he suddenly stops, cursing at himself before angrily stomping towards his phone, connected to the speakers, and pausing the music. He’s ready to start over when he hears a low, almost timid knock to the door. He freezes.

He’s been using the studios for years after classes and no one has ever told him to stop using them, even if a lot of people are aware of it. He hopes that today won’t be the day they decide he needs to stop. The timing would be, well… fucking awful.

Tensing up and not even bothering to look in the direction of the door to try to see who it is through the small, central glass window, he says, “Come in.”

Jeongguk isn’t quite sure of what he was expecting. Most likely, some other member of the staff telling him to fuck off, maybe even the head director. He’s been pushing his luck, practicing here every day and using the installations meant for students. Not for cleaners, not for Jeongguk.

What he wasn’t expecting at all, though, was to see Taehyung. Taehyung, wearing an old and big denim jacket and looking the most worried Jeongguk has ever seen him.

“Hey, Jeongguk,” he says, scratching his head. He looks hesitant, lingering under the frame of the door. “Can I—can I come in?”

“Yeah, of course,” Jeongguk tells him then, running one hand through his hair. His forehead is a bit sweaty, but he just wipes it away with his forearm. “What are you doing here?”

“I just thought I’d come see you,” Taehyung replies, shrugging his shoulders. “I thought you’d be here, even if it’s late.”

Taehyung walks towards him, getting close and pressing a quick kiss to Jeongguk’s kiss. Jeongguk kisses back, holding Taehyung in place for a few seconds by gently pressing his hand against the small of Taehyung’s back.

“Yeah, I was planning to stay here for a little while. I need to practice,” he says, waving with his hand. Taehyung nods then, sharply. “Do you have work tonight?”

“I’m free tonight,” Taehyung tells him. That must be why he’s come here, then. “You look really tired.”

“I’m just fine,” he says, but Taehyung doesn’t look too convinced. “Nothing I can’t handle. I just need to push myself these days. There’s time to rest after the audition.”

“But within limits, Jeongguk,” Taehyung tells him then. Jeongguk frowns then. “I just—don’t you think you’re pushing yourself too hard? It’s not healthy. You need to rest, too.”

Jeongguk’s expression hardens then, as he clenches his jaw. He thought Taehyung got him and agreed with him about how he had to fight for this, if it’s what he wanted. Then—where is this coming from?

“What I really need is to get that scholarship and get my life together,” Jeongguk flips out, then. Not that what he said was too bad, but he himself can realize how harsh his tone came out. Way harsher than he intended.

Taehyung doesn’t react for a few seconds, staring at him impassively. It makes Jeongguk want to wince and apologize, both at the same time, but he doesn’t do either. Mostly because of the shock when Taehyung, out of the blue, just surges forward and pulls him into a hug.

“I know how important it is to you,” Taehyung tells him. “I get that, but I’m just looking out for you and trying to make sure you’re safe. You can’t flip out on me like that, Gukkie. I just want you to be okay.”

Jeongguk immediately regrets his words after listening to Taehyung, aware that what Taehyung is saying is true. He knows that he shouldn’t snap at anyone, but especially not at Taehyung out of all people.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.”

“I know, I know,” Taehyung tells him, still holding him close. “Just… listen to me, Jeongguk. I know you want this so, so badly. But if you don’t take care of yourself, if you don’t rest enough and continue to push yourself beyond your limits, you’re gonna get hurt. That’s not good, Gukkie. You need to be good to yourself, too.”

Taehyung’s words lay heavy on Jeongguk’s shoulders. He has seven people fall through the cracks because of this. Trying too hard, caring too little for themselves, and the consequences that ensue. Jeongguk always told himself he’d never be foolish enough to fall into that, but he guesses he just hadn’t been in the situation to understand. It’s easy to get caught up like this, when there is a goal you need to achieve and all of your efforts seem almost empty and never, ever enough.

“Okay, yeah, you’re right,” Jeongguk ends up admitting. Taehyung is right, he knows. He needs to rest. He pulls back a little, so he can look at Taehyung, and adds, “You’re right. I’ll… I’ll go home.”

“You can come to mine if you want,” Taehyung suggests then, almost in a timid voice. Almost as if he was afraid of being turned down. “Of course, you don’t have to. Only if you want to.”

“I want to,” Jeongguk admits then. Taehyung looks so surprised it almost hurts, but Jeongguk reminds himself of how absent he’s been these days. It’s normal for Taehyung to assume he’d rather go to his own place. “I’ll go to yours.”

“I’ll make you a warm drink when we’re there then,” Taehyung says, now offering a smile. Jeongguk can’t help but grin in return.

“Will you run me a hot bath?” he replies, asking what his sore muscles have been screaming at him for since the other day.

“A bath for you, already on its way,” Taehyung tells him. Jeongguk laughs, suddenly feeling a bit less exhausted and a bit more cheerful. “Come on, my dancer. Get your stuff and let’s get home.”

Home. The warmth of Taehyung’s apartment and the softness of his blankets seem appealing, but Jeongguk doesn’t think they’re home.

Rather than that, when someone says home, his mind goes to comfort, easiness. To feeling at peace after a long day. And if he’s applying that sense, then, well—that dance studio, where Taehyung held him and managed to shush his worries away, is already home.

Maybe Taehyung is what really is his home.

 

 

Taehyung makes Jeongguk promise that, on the night right before his audition, he’ll be out of the school right as he’s done with work. No staying late for practice like he probably would have, as he needs to rest. Jeongguk, whipped as he is, agrees. He also knows that Taehyung is, again, right. He needs to be feeling fresh and energized tomorrow, so he listens to Taehyung and leaves.

Even if Jeongguk had told him it wasn’t necessary to, Taehyung insisted on taking that night off so they could spend it together. Unsurprisingly enough, Jeongguk finds him waiting there once he’s outside, standing by the door as he looks down at his phone. Jeongguk narrows his eyes at him.

“Hey there,” he greets. Taehyung lifts his eyes from his phone, smiling. “Fancy seeing you here.”

“I had to come pick my boy up,” Taehyung says, making Jeongguk’s heart flutter. “How are you feeling.”

“Nervous, but I’m feeling oddly good otherwise,” Jeongguk says, truthful. “Did you walk here?”

“Nah, I brought my car,” Taehyung replies then, tilting his head in the direction of where his car is parked. “Why? Too lazy to walk home?”

“I mean, yeah,” Jeongguk replies, smiling a little. He wants to get back already, in all honesty. A bed sounds nice right about now. It reminds Jeongguk of when he sneaked out to dance when he was a teenager, coming home exhausted and—wait.

“Let’s get you a bed, then,” Taehyung says then. When he notices Jeongguk is in another world, he tilts his head to look at him, cocking an eyebrow as he asks, “Jeongguk?”

“I have an idea,” Jeongguk says then, snapping out of his daze. “Can I drive us somewhere?”

Taehyung frowns then. “Drive us where, Jeongguk?” he asks.

“Not too far away. I promise we’ll be back soon so I can rest and all that,” he says. Taehyung looks at him, still wary. “I just want to show you something. It’s important to me.”

“Okay, then,” Taehyung says then, giving in. “Let’s go.”

Jeongguk smiles, and then they both start walking to the car. The ride there isn’t too long—what takes them the most is getting out of the center of Seoul, but after that they don’t drive too far away. It’s been years, but Jeongguk still remembers well where he’s going to. This place was once extremely important to him, so he doubts he’d be able to forget it for as long as he keeps loving dance.

Taehyung’s previous confusion only seems to accentuate as he sees Jeongguk park by an old, abandoned warehouse. He looks at Jeongguk once he pulls at the hand brake, asking, “Why are we here?”

“I’ll explain in a minute,” Jeongguk replies. The nights are warm enough for him to be able to leave his jacket behind, so he just opens the door and insists, “Come on. I’ll explain.”

Even if he probably still is unsure, Taehyung opens the door and follows Jeongguk. They both walk into the warehouse, that looks just like Jeongguk remembers it. Just as empty and abandoned, as if no one had come here in the years. Jeongguk wonders if that’s the case.

He looks around himself. It’s dark, but enough light from the outside filters through its open doors for him to be able to distinguish everything. He turns to look at Taehyung, who is leaning against the doorframe with his arms crossed over his chest and a raised eyebrow.

“Truly beautiful,” he says, irony dripping from his voice. “So—why are we here, Jeonggukie?”

Jeongguk takes a deep breath. This is not a place he has ever shown anyone, and he’s never particularly told anyone about sneaking into here or what he did when he’d spend long days here. Taehyung will be the first to know. Even if it’s not a big secret, not anything significant or worth making a fuss over, Jeongguk still finds it important somehow. This place was important to him, so…

“I used to come here a lot,” he says. “In the afternoons and evenings, when my parents stopped me from going to ballet. I walked an hour here and then an hour back, just so I could dance here. It was empty and no one ever bothered me here or knew where to find me.”

That seems to pick at Taehyung’s interest. “Really?” he asks, perking up and taking a step closer. He seems more interested now, asking, “So this is where you danced?”

“Until I turned eighteen, yeah,” he says, nodding. Taehyung smiles at that, now looking around himself and trying to figure out the warehouse in the darkness. “I haven’t been here ever since. After that I didn’t have to hide anymore—I got a job and moved out, danced at the community center. But until then… you could say it was my studio.”

Taehyung laughs then, his voice echoing in the empty warehouse. “A fancy one, definitely,” he says. He then asks, “Does it bring you back memories?”

“It does,” Jeongguk says, nodding. “Bad memories, but… Still memories. I learned a lot from being in here.”

Taehyung gets closer to Jeongguk then, placing one hand on Jeongguk’s shoulder. “That’s all over now, yeah?”

“It is,” Jeongguk replies, with a nod. Luckily for him, the days of sneaking out are gone now. And, if everything goes well, he only has brighter days ahead of himself. “There’s another reason why I brought you here.”

“What is it?” Taehyung asks, curious.

“I want to show you the dance,” Jeongguk tells him. Taehyung looks stunned for a moment, mouth hanging open, and before he can say anything, Jeongguk adds, “I want you to be the first one to see it. I think it’s only right.”

“Okay, that’s—yes,” Taehyung says, nodding quickly. “Please. I want you to show me.”

“Good, then,” Jeongguk says. He gives his phone to Taehyung, asking him to play the song for him whenever he tells him. After that he takes a few steps back. He feels a little nervous, he’s not going to lie. Taehyung’s opinion is extremely important to him. Before he starts, he adds, “It’s probably gonna suck because I’m restricted in these clothes and you can’t properly see the fluidity in my body and stuff.”

“It’s not gonna suck!” Taehyung exclaims then, making Jeongguk smile. “Come on. Can I play now?”

Jeongguk bites down on his bottom lip, but he nods. “Yes. Go for it, yes.”

He hasn’t warmed up, and his sneakers and sweatpants are in no way the attire he needs for this. What he can show Taehyung tonight is a poor, mediocre version of what he’s been working on for the past two weeks. But, fuck—for the next three minutes and thirty-six seconds he feels like there’s a flame inside of him, and he dances with more passion than he ever thought he could. He can feel Taehyung’s eyes on him, watching his every move. He feels good. He feels, for the first time in ages, like he’s good enough. He feels like he’s doing it right. And that only makes it easier for him to continue, to make it better. To be better.

To be the best he can be.

The song eventually ends, and Jeongguk stands there in pants trying to catch his breath. Apart from that, no other sound can be heard echoing in the warehouse. And then, Taehyung suddenly surges forward and pulls him into the tightest hug Jeongguk has ever received.

It’s almost desperate, the way in which Taehyung wraps his arms around his neck. Jeongguk is puzzled, returning the hug as Taehyung says, “You’re so good. Oh my God, Jeongguk, you’re amazing. You…”

His voice cracks then, and that tells Jeongguk all he needs to know. Taehyung is crying.

“Babe?” he asks, letting Taehyung hold him tight. “Are you okay?”

“That was so beautiful,” Taehyung tells him, voice strained. “That was amazing, Jeongguk. You deserve this so much—you deserve this more than anyone else, fuck. You’re simply amazing.”

“You’re so…” he starts, but cuts himself when he doesn’t find any word big enough to describe Taehyung. He’s feeling so emotional right now, feeling on edge. Taehyung’s words, the adoration in his eyes while Jeongguk performed for him… It’s all too much. Maybe it’s all that emotion which makes him blurt out then, “Fuck, I love you.”

Almost as if he had been burned, Taehyung pulls away from the hug then. His arms are still around Jeongguk, he just strains his neck all the way back so he can look at Jeongguk. With wide eyes, he asks, “You said you…?”

“I said I love you,” Jeongguk interrupts. He’s been thinking this for a while, holding back and trying to not let the words slip and scare Taehyung away, but… they’re together, now. They’ve been dating for some time. He thinks he can allow himself to say those words. “I’m in love with you.”

Taehyung hugs him close, then kisses his cheek, and then once again pulls back. He seems frantic as he says, “Oh, my God. You love me? You—fuck.” He stops himself and takes a deep breath. “I love you. I’m so in love with you—Jeongguk, oh my God.”

Jeongguk stares at him for a few seconds, speechless. Did Taehyung just say that he…?

“I can’t believe this,” he says. In a way, it’s hard to believe. Even if the way they acted always hinted towards both of them reciprocating each other’s feelings, Jeongguk can totally see that Taehyung understands what’s going through his head right now. Assuming Taehyung loved him back, even if that was the way that he acted, was a big act of faith for Jeongguk—one he never allowed himself to have. But now that Taehyung has told him… fuck. There is no way he can put down into words how he feels after this.

“I love you,” Taehyung repeats away. The words sound like heaven to Jeongguk, especially as Taehyung repeats, “I love you, I love, I love you. You’re the best, and I love you.”

They keep telling each other for the rest of the night. They do so as Taehyung drives them back into Seoul, stopping by the drive-thru to grab some late night dinner. They keep telling each other as they get to Jeongguk’s apartment, the elevator ride full of pecks and soft whispers. Even once they’re in bed, both curled up around each other after Jeongguk has set his alarm for the following morning.

And despite the nerves, the tension and all of his feelings in regards to tomorrow, Jeongguk can confirm he’s never felt happier in his entire life.

 

 

The morning of the audition is without a doubt one of the most stressful moments of Jeongguk’s life. He gets there early, even if according to alphabetical order he surely won’t be one of the first. Taehyung accompanies him, and stays with him for the whole time they’re there.

If he wasn't as nervous as he is, maybe Jeongguk would have had the energy to talk to Taehyung about the rest of the aspiring students there. One thing he observes is that all of them look young, probably senior high school students trying to initiate their higher formation. They’ve come with their parents (or who Jeongguk assumes are their parents), for the most part.

Despite that being the most part, there are also some people who look a bit older. Around his age, but not too much older. Jeongguk knows that pursuing dance at a much later age is not realistic, so he’s not surprised by that fact.

They sit in silence with Taehyung’s hand clasped firmly around his, grounding him down in the way Jeongguk needs right now. Something about Taehyung’s touch alone is enough to dissipate Jeongguk’s nerves a little, calm him down so he can sit there and watch as aspirants come in and out of the room. Some come out with wide smiles, most of them look uncertain and not all that satisfied with themselves, and even a few come out crying. It’s also interesting to see the reactions of the people who accompany them—while most seem understanding, he sees a few act harsher when they receive the news that the performance didn’t go as well as it could have. There’s one girl in particular whose mother scolded her after she told her she didn’t think the audition had gone so well. Watching her face and the way she winced, Jeongguk wishes he could have told her that he was sure it was amazing and that she was good enough. That’s what he wishes someone had told him, anyway.

At the same time, though, he feels a bit competitive. He knows they’re offering one scholarship—just one. He needs to be better than everyone else, all of them. Some of which are probably trained better than him, some of which may have a better technique, may be younger and hold more potential.

But Jeongguk is hopeful. He knows that, in dancing, technique isn’t everything. While he’s sure that a minimum of technique is without a doubt required, he also knows that the school is looking for more. Dancing is an art, and therefore, it should be capable of moving people, transmitting emotion. They’re not looking for perfection, but for potential. Young people with a natural talent to transmit, with a talent to dance and choreograph. Jeongguk thinks he has that, if the way Taehyung broke down in tears after watching him perform is anything to go by.

He just hopes that the professionals judging him will agree.

It’s almost two in the afternoon when his turn comes, after waiting for the longest morning of his life. Actually, it feels like he’s been waiting for weeks for this moment, and in a way he has. The last fifteen days or so have been terribly long and at the same time have gone by far too fast for Jeongguk. It makes no sense, just like the turmoil of emotions inside his mind right now doesn’t.

Another aspirant comes out, this one sporting a poker face as he leaves the room. After him comes a man, someone Jeongguk knows is a teacher in the school. He calls, “Jeon Jeongguk?”

And God, he’s never been this nervous in his entire life.

“Good luck, baby,” Taehyung whispers by his side, giving a tight squeeze to his hand. It feels odd for Jeongguk to let go, his fingers unclasping around Taehyung’s, but he knows he has to. “You’re gonna do amazing. I love you.”

“Thank you. I love you,” Jeongguk replies. He stands up, starts walking towards the room. The man signals for him to enter, and Jeongguk takes a deep breath.

He looks over his shoulder one last time, giving Taehyung a final look before getting inside. Taehyung nods at him, and that’s all the encouragement Jeongguk needs.

He’s gonna do this. Because he deserves it.

 

 

The audition goes, quite frankly, better than Jeongguk expected. When he’s done performing, he’s panting heavily, but at the same time it feels as if a heavy weight has been lifted off his shoulders. He opens his eyes, looking at the three members of staff who were evaluating him, and is happy to find out that they look… rather pleased? Mrs. Kwang, who he has known for all the years he’s worked here, nods along as she writes something down on her paper. Right next to her sits Mr. Lee, head of the dance department, and next to him, Ms. Jung, another teacher. They’re whispering to each other, also looking… well, Jeongguk doesn’t want to say impressed because he’s sure they’ve seen better than him. But—yes. Impressed.

“Thank you so much, Jeongguk-ssi,” Mrs. Kwang tells him then, her red-tinted lips stretching into a big smile. “You’ve done very, very well. You should be proud of yourself.”

Jeongguk is astonished by the words of praise, looking at the judges as he smiles sheepishly. He manages to say, “Thank you. Thank you so much.” The other members smile at him too, kindly, and he lets himself feel a little prouder of himself. “Thank you so much for your time.”

“Of course,” Mrs. Kwang tells him, standing up. “I’ll walk you to the door so I can call the next one in. Dohyun, may I have the list?”

The man that called Jeongguk’s name tends the list to Mrs. Kwang, who takes it and walks around the table and in the direction of the door. Jeongguk follows, and as he walks with the sound of her heels following, he can’t help but smile. He starts smiling so stupidly wide that by the time Mrs. Kwang opens the door he feels all eyes on him, and most importantly, Taehyung’s.

Mrs. Kwang calls another name once he’s out of the room, but Jeongguk doesn’t register it. He’s too busy launching himself against Taehyung, who casually surged forward at the exact same time as him. They both hug each other tightly, Taehyung asking, “How did it go? Did it go well?”

Instead of replying, Jeongguk just lifts Taehyung up and spins him around. It makes Taehyung yelp and causes people to stare at them, but Jeongguk is too drunk on happiness to care. Taehyung starts giggling then, and Jeongguk knows he doesn’t need words to confirm it went well—Taehyung already knows.

Whether he gets the scholarship or not is no longer under his control—it’s up to the tribunal. But now, after the, after the performance he put  on, he knows he did the best he could, gave it his all. And for that, Jeongguk feels proud of himself.

 

 

It was meant to be just a small celebration between Taehyung and Jeongguk, just a couple beers (soju for Taehyung, who isn’t too keen on the taste of beer) to rejoice in the fact that Jeongguk’s audition had gone beyond well. But a couple became a few, and a few became… a considerable amount. And just like that, Taehyung and Jeongguk ended up tipsy. Maybe a little more than tipsy. But definitely not drunk.

Their judgement is a little clouded, though. And that’s definitely what leads Taehyung to ask Jeongguk if, by any chance, they could sneak into the Seoul Art Academy right then, in the middle of the night. Jeongguk, who often works there through the night and has keys, says yes. Much to his surprise, Taehyung was seriously asking—it wasn’t just a hypothetical.

“But why?” Jeongguk asks, trying to understand why Taehyung wants to go back there.

Taehyung smiles then, cryptically. “You need to teach me to dance, Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk doesn’t get it, but needless to say, he accepts.

It’s well past midnight by the time both of them stumble into the school giggling, their cheeks red. Jeongguk knows that they’re good getting inside as long as they don’t break something, or whatever. No one actually checks the night recordings unless they gave them a reason to—if they had, Jeongguk would have probably been fired long ago.

They eventually walk into a dance room with tall, wall-like mirrors. On the end of it, there's a piano. The reason why Jeongguk chose that specific room is because he knows there are no cameras inside, and none of the hallway cameras can reach the inside of the room. Even if he doesn’t think anyone will check the recordings, he’d rather be safe. He knows Taehyung and he can get pretty stupid when drunk, so he’s trying to keep himself from potentially making a fool of himself in front of his coworkers.

Jeongguk locks the door behind them and walks inside, watching Taehyung peel off his jacket as he twirls on his tiptoes. He throws it away from himself, stretching an arm towards Jeongguk and saying, “Come here. Let’s tango.”

Jeongguk laughs at that, taking off his jacket and dropping it on the floor as he walks towards Taehyung. “I don’t know how to dance tango,” he admits. He’s never bothered to learn latin dances, although maybe he should have. Would Taehyung be impressed by him dancing salsa?

“Neither do I,” Taehyung admits then, smiling wide. “Come here. We’ll figure it out.”

Jeongguk smiles sheepishly, holding one of Taehyung’s arms on his own as Taehyung places the other one around his middle and on his back. Jeongguk places his other hand on Taehyung’s shoulder, hoping that they at least got the position right, even if they obviously don’t know how to tango.

Taehyung starts humming to a song, at the same time he takes a step ahead. It’s impressive to Jeongguk how both of them, for people who can dance well while taking it seriously, can be such a mess at this. Their steps are out of sync, and definitely not tango. Jeongguk can’t help but start laughing when Taehyung lets go of his back and tries to spin him around, Jeongguk’s socks sliding on the floor and making him almost slip.

They stay like that for a while, just fooling around and laughing with each other. Taehyung constantly changes the song, and therefore they change in dance style to match whatever Taehyung is humming to now. It’s not too long until one of them falls—Taehyung—but he makes sure to hold on tight to Jeongguk’s hand and therefore brings him down with him.

Which leads both of them to their current position, laughing on the floor with Taehyung lying on his back and Jeongguk on top of him, their limbs tangled up. Jeongguk is the first one to move, swiftly getting back on his feet with an agility impressive for someone who has been drinking. He offers his hand to Taehyung, who tries to tug him down with him again, but Jeongguk stays firm.

“Come up, hyung,” he says. “Get back on your feet.”

“But the floor is so comfortable,” Taehyung replies, almost in a whine.

Jeongguk bites back a smile. “If you come back up here,” he starts, trying to think of something that will make Taehyung give in. “I’ll give you a kiss.”

That makes Taehyung huff, but then he says, “Fine. Pull me up then.”

Jeongguk does as he’s told, feeling Taehyung go limp and let himself be pulled up. Taehyung isn’t too heavy, so lifting him up is rather easy even if he’s not making any effort to help Jeongguk. Once he’s up on his feet he immediately curls his arms around Jeongguk’s waist, looking at him.

“Kiss,” he demands.

And who is Jeongguk not to oblige? He’s crazy about Taehyung, after all.

And so, he leans in and presses his lips against Taehyung’s in a kiss that starts off clumsy, with both of them smiling and Taehyung’s top lip landing against Jeongguk’s teeth. But if they have done something in the last months, that’s kissing. They’ve grown accustomed to each other’s mouths and know the way the other kisses so, so well, so it’s easy for them to turn that clumsy first touch of their lips into a proper kiss. Taehyung still smiles now, but Jeongguk works around it as his lips move against Taehyung’s, holding his hips and bringing their bodies closer.

Taehyung’s hands are still around his waist, now clutching Jeongguk’s t-shirt and wrinkling the fabric between his fingers. He moves them a little, pressing them against Jeongguk’s stomach.

“Kiss me more,” he says then, voice gravelly and deep. “Don’t stop.”

Taehyung’s lips do have a strong, distinguishable tang of alcohol, but they also taste just so like him. Taehyung’s mouth is like honey, and Jeongguk happens to have a sweet tooth.

Out of everything he’s experienced in his life, there is nothing quite as exhilarating as the touch of Taehyung’s hands on his body. They roam around, taking their time exploring Jeongguk’s body for the nth time. Jeongguk feels like he’s about to shiver, the feeling of Taehyung’s palms slowly crawling up his body, making him feel on edge. They find their usual spot on Jeongguk’s shoulders soon enough, arms snaking around his neck. Jeongguk, on his side, is still holding on tight to Taehyung’s narrow hips. He keeps him close, even if Taehyung is not making any efforts to move away from him.

It gets heated eventually. Taehyung kisses him deeper, with their tongues curling around each other as Jeongguk opens his mouth and welcomes it. He lets himself be kissed, allows Taehyung’s eager mouth to make him feel good. Their bodies are flush against each other now, and Jeongguk starts to feel… arousal stirring up inside of him. He knows that if they keep this up he’s going to end up getting a hard-on.

“Tae, Tae,” he calls, trying to pull away. Taehyung chases Jeongguk’s mouth with his, though, stealing more kisses, so when Jeongguk talks it’s muffled against Taehyung’s lips. “This is gonna end up turning me on.”

Taehyung giggles then, somehow managing to find amusement in the fact that Jeongguk is getting horny. The sound makes Jeongguk smile a little, too. If he thinks about it, it can become kind of hilarious. Especially considering this is his work place.

“Good,” Taehyung tells him then, one of his hands leaving his shoulder. He snakes it down Jeongguk’s chest and abdomen, and by the time he’s touching over his belt, Taehyung adds, “I want you turned on.”

Those words alone are enough to make Jeongguk’s insides bubble with something. He swallows down hard, feeling Taehyung’s hand hesitate on his belt. It doesn’t move, though—for a second there he thought he’d go lower, placing it on top of his crotch, but in the end he doesn’t move it.

“Here?” Jeongguk asks. It’s all he says, but Jeongguk knows that Taehyung gets his message. More than a, do you want me turned on here?, Jeongguk knows that Taehyung will interpret it as a, are we really gonna have sex here?

“Yes,” Taehyung tells him then, not missing a beat. He bites down on his lip then, and adds, “If you want.”

Jeongguk gives himself a few seconds to think about it. On one side, he knows that this is exactly the kind of behavior that could cost him his job if he doesn’t end up getting the scholarship. Hell, it could even cost him the scholarship. But on the other side, he knows there is no one here tonight. There are no cameras in here and, pretty much, the classroom as a whole is a dead angle.

Plus, there is something… exciting about doing this here. In his workplace, where they could get caught. Jeongguk bites down on his bottom lip, looking at Taehyung’s mischievous eyes and his knowing smile. The thought of fucking Taehyung here is turning him on. That’s why, in the end, he replies, “Fuck, yeah.”

Jeongguk’s reply only makes Taehyung lean in to kiss him again. They both surge forward at the same time, their lips crashing together a little more violently than either of them intended, but it doesn’t seem to matter. The short conversation they had just now is enough to switch something on inside both of them, and so the kiss gets more urgent, sloppier. Taehyung’s hands are now feeling Jeongguk’s body up, with both of them having now slipped under Jeongguk’s t-shirt, touching his warm skin. Jeongguk’s hands aren’t still on Taehyung’s hips like they were earlier; instead, he’s tugging at Taehyung’s shirt that he has tucked into his slacks, trying to undress him rather clumsily.

It’s a mess. They’re both too frantic, too into the kiss to care to hold on for a minute and properly undress themselves. Jeongguk unbuttons Taehyung’s shirt eventually, trying his best not to get too impatient and accidentally rip any buttons by being clumsy, and after a few tries he manages to. He takes off the garment, throwing it to the floor where it joins both their jackets.

He only gives himself a few seconds to look at Taehyung before kissing him again, but fuck. It never fails to knock the air out of his lungs how utterly beautiful Taehyung is. Everything—from the broadness of his shoulders to the slight pudge of his stomach, going through his golden skin and his small, brown nipples. It makes him want to kiss Taehyung all over, run his mouth over every single bit of exposed skin.

Before he can do any of that, Taehyung is surging forward again and pulling him in for another kiss. The force with which Taehyung’s body collides against his makes Jeongguk take a couple of steps back then, his back bumping against the mirror behind him. He’s still wearing his t-shirt, but he can feel the coldness of the glass through it and on his bare arms.

That gives him an idea. He pulls back then and, wordlessly and before Taehyung can ask why he’s stopped kissing him, he flips them around so Taehyung is the one leaning against the glass. The sudden movement surprises Taehyung, as it catches him off guard, and that makes it easier for Jeongguk to place his hands on Taehyung’s hips and spin him around so he’s looking at himself in the mirror.

“What are you doing?” Taehyung asks, an amused tilt to his voice as Jeongguk takes a step back. He holds Taehyung’s hips again, making sure that his chest is pressed flush against Taehyung’s back.

“I want to do something,” he says. “Hands against the mirror?”

Taehyung obliges, but he insists again, “And what is that something?”

“Eat you out,” Jeongguk replies then, giving a squeeze to Taehyung’s hip. Then, he asks, “Is that okay with you?”

“God, yeah,” Taehyung replies. Jeongguk thinks that his cheeks go a little redder at that, but he honestly can’t be sure. “Yes, fuck, of course it’s okay with me.”

“Good,” Jeongguk says then, his hands going down to Taehyung’s crotch. He first palms him, feeling his erection trapped in his slacks before moving to the button and zipper. “Because I can’t wait to get my mouth on that ass of yours.”

His words make Taehyung moan, throwing his head back as he grinds back a little and rubs his ass back on Jeongguk’s crotch. If anything, that is just an incentive for Jeongguk to go faster, completely undo Taehyung’s fly before he kneels down before him, pulling both his slacks and underwear down with him.

He moves a little to the side, just so he can see Taehyung’s reflection in front of him. Taehyung is almost fully hard now, his cock standing up long and flushed. Jeongguk can’t help but sneak his hand around Taehyung’s body and wrap his fingers around his cock, starting to jerk him off languidly.

It makes Taehyung hiss, fists clenching against the mirror. “That’s good, Gukkie,” he says. Jeongguk watches his facial expressions closely, rejoicing in the way in which Taehyung’s eyes flutter shut as he throws his head back. “Fuck.”

There is something incredibly hot about Taehyung cursing, Jeongguk thinks. Like this, his voice is deeper and raspier than usual, probably because of the arousal. It makes Jeongguk want to make him moan more, louder. All he wants to hear is Taehyung feeling good, and Taehyung feeling good because of him.

As much as Jeongguk likes to pleasure Taehyung, he doesn’t spend too long jerking him off. His hands move to Taehyung’s legs, gesturing at him to part them a little further. Taehyung does so, as much as his slacks and underwear allow from where they’re pooling around his ankles. Only then does Jeongguk take his hands to Taehyung’s perky ass, kneading the supple flesh with his hands before spreading his cheeks.

“You have the best ass in the world,” he nonchalantly comments as he gets closer, leaving one kiss on the upper part of Taehyung’s right thigh. It’s almost by his ass cheek, but not quite. “So squishy.”

“Jeongguk,” Taehyung tells him then. It sounds urgent, needy. Jeongguk loves it, rejoices in it as he keeps kissing Taehyung. He’s working his way up, now taking his mouth to Taehyung’s ass cheek and biting softly. “Do something, come on.”

That makes Jeongguk laugh, getting one inch closer to where Taehyung wants him. “Something like what?” he teases. He's positive his breathing is fanning over Taehyung’s hole, especially with the way he’s spreading his cheeks apart. Taehyung’s sharp inhale seems to be confirmation of that.

“You know what,” Taehyung says. There’s a pause, Jeongguk’s fingers holding on to Taehyung’s ass a little tighter. “Please.”

That does it for Jeongguk. He can’t make himself stay firm when Taehyung asks him like that, he’s far too weak for that. For that same reason he gives in right then, leaning forward and giving Taehyung a short, tentative lick.

It’s not too much. Jeongguk lightly and almost timidly swipes his tongue over Taehyung’s hole, but it sure is enough for Taehyung’s body to tense under his hands. He hisses, blurting out, “Fuck.”

That’s the only encouragement Jeongguk needed, now feeling more confident after hearing Taehyung’s reaction. His second lick is a bit more insistent, and it elicits a similar response from Taehyung. After that, Jeongguk finally lets himself go, starting to eat Taehyung out like he means it.

It’s messy. Jeongguk can feel the spit on his chin as he rims Taehyung with abandon, but he doesn’t care in the slightest. He’s way too into it for something like drool to matter and, in fact, he likes his sex sloppy. Taehyung seems to be into it, too, if the way he moans loudly is anything to go by.

It’s so fucking hot to be able to make Taehyung feel like that just with his mouth, Jeongguk thinks. It must become too much for him, because at some point Jeongguk hears a loud thud, one that comes from Taehyung resting his forehead against the mirror. Jeongguk can only imagine what he looks like, cheeks flushed and lips swollen and red as the most lewd sounds escape through them. He wishes he found in him the will to look, but eating Taehyung out is so damn good. Good enough for Jeongguk to not want to tear his mouth away from him.

One of Taehyung’s hands moves to the back of Jeongguk’s head, tangling itself in his dark hair and pressing his face further against him. That makes Jeongguk moan, but it’s muffled against Taehyung’s ass as he pushes his tongue inside of him. That makes Taehyung whine, fingers tightening their grip on Jeongguk’s hair.

“God, fucking hell, Jeongguk,” he says, his voice strained. “I need—God. Fuck me, Jeongguk.”

As if the noises weren’t enough, Taehyung’s words make Jeongguk’s cock throb inside his underwear and jeans. His clothes feel painfully tight right now, and God, he can’t wait for some relief. He can’t wait to get his cock out and slip it inside Taehyung.

It’s only then that he pulls back from Taehyung’s ass. “Yes, yes, I—wait,” he starts. He moves a little to the right so he can look at Taehyung’s reflection, staring at his face. When he does so, he sees Taehyung look at him with curiosity. “Do you have lube and condoms? Because I don’t have anything.”

“I think I do? I should have them in my wallet,” Taehyung replies. He turns around a little to look over his shoulder, then says, “Can you—? They’re in my wallet. In my jacket.”

“Okay, okay,” Jeongguk says, starting to move away. He crawls on the floor towards the jacket, checking both pockets until he finds Taehyung’s wallet. “Got it.”

He gets back to Taehyung as soon as possible, tending him the wallet. As Taehyung opens it, Jeongguk asks, “Is it there?”

“It’s here,” Taehyung replies, dropping both packets. Jeongguk quickly gets the lube one, holding it between his fingers. “Come on, hurry.”

“I’m on it,” Jeongguk tells him, ripping it open with his fingers. He pours the lube on his fingers, coating them with it and trying to warm it up a little. Then, in a teasing manner, he asks, “Why did you have this in your wallet anyway?”

“Listen! I like to be prepared,” Taehyung tells him then, laughing a little. He turns around to look over his shoulder, again hurrying Jeongguk. “What’s taking so long?”

“You’re so demanding,” Jeongguk replies, clicking his tongue. It’s then that he takes his fingers to Taehyung’s hole, pressing one of them against it. “Ready?”

“Yes,” Taehyung replies, not missing a beat. “Let’s go.”

Jeongguk fingers Taehyung like that, kneeling behind him while Taehyung holds himself up against the mirror. At first he holds his weight with both arms, but eventually he ends up leaning against it, pressing his cheek against the glass. Jeongguk can see it fog with each one of Taehyung’s breaths from where he’s kneeling, which he for some reason finds stupidly hot.

It’s not long until Taehyung asks him to fuck him at last. Something inside of Jeongguk stirs, but he still stands up quickly, the condom wrapper in his hands. He holds it between his teeth while he pulls his pants down, trying to waste as little time as possible. He’s a bit clumsy when it comes to opening the wrapping, his hands still lubed up. Regardless of that, he finally manages to tear the package open, taking the condom out of it and putting it on.

“There’s no more lube,” he tells Taehyung. “Will the one left on the condom and what’s left on your ass be enough?” he asks. He doesn’t want to hurt Taehyung, of course. For that reason, he feels as if it’s his duty to ask.

“That’s fine,” Taehyung says, waving his hand dismissively. “Just go slow, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk says, nodding. “Yeah, yeah.”

With one hand, he lines himself up behind Taehyung’s hole. They look at each other in the mirror, and Taehyung gives him a little nod. That is all the confirmation Jeongguk needs before he starts pushing inside.

The slide is tight, tighter than Jeongguk remembers. Maybe it’s because it’s been way too long since they had sex, with how busy the last few weeks have been. He loves every part of it—he tightness, the almost overwhelming heat engulfing him. Every inch feels delicious as he pushes himself inside of Taehyung, slowly.

He pushes until he’s all the way in, listening to Taehyung and trying to go as slow as possible. For some reason, the slow pace makes it better. It allows him to feel every single inch of Taehyung’s walls, tightly wrapped against him. He leans in once there’s no more to push inside, kissing Taehyung’s shoulder sweetly. He’s waiting for a nod from Taehyung before he keeps going.

And that eventually comes, in the shape of Taehyung rocking his own body against Jeongguk’s. It takes Jeongguk by surprise, as he was more so waiting for some sort of verbal indication, but that’s good. He holds Taehyung’s hip with one hand, and asks, “Move?”

“Move,” Taehyung replies. Jeongguk obliges, starting off slow. He pulls back until he’s almost all the way in, just to then thrust back. It makes Taehyung close his eyes, letting himself rest back against Jeongguk’s body as he starts to fuck him and build up a pace. “Fuck, Jeongguk.”

If there is something that Jeongguk loves more than how sex with Taehyung physically feels for him, then that’d be watching Taehyung, listening to him. His moans are deep and quiet at first, and he looks sort of angelic as he closes his eyes and rests back against Jeongguk, letting himself get fucked by him. There’s no way that Jeongguk can put down into words how he looks right now, the perfect mixture of beautiful and sexy. And so utterly his.

“Look at yourself, Tae,” he tells him. Upon hearing those words, Taehyung’s eyes flutter open. They don’t fall on his own reflection, though—they fall on Jeongguk’s. For that reason, Jeongguk repeats, “Look how pretty you look. So turned on and so fucking hot.”

Taehyung groans at that, throwing his head over Jeongguk’s shoulder. “Oh my God, Jeongguk,” he says. “Feels so good, fuck. Please, please, please—keep going.”

His words make Jeongguk moan, his hand squeezing around Taehyung’s hip again. He leans forward a little, ducking down to kiss Taehyung’s neck. The angle is odd and he’s straining a little, but he doesn’t care—seeing Taehyung like that, head thrown back and neck exposed and glistening with sweat was too tempting. It tastes salty as he kisses it, and Jeongguk loves it. He’s so fucking in love.

Taehyung leans forward a little, pressing his forearms against the mirror, which allows Jeongguk to angle himself better before he continues thrusting. He does so holding Taehyung’s hips with both hands now, making it easier for him to fuck inside him. That allows him to fasten up the pace, thrusting inside Taehyung faster and harder now. It makes both of them moan, the sound echoing around the classroom.

“Right there,” Taehyung says then, followed by a long, drawn out moan. His lips fall open in a way that's almost obscene, a way that makes Jeongguk want to reach for his mouth with his hand and push his fingers inside of it. His lips are so red and pretty as he cries out Jeongguk’s name. “Jeongguk—that’s it, that’s it. God—you’re gonna make me come.”

“Is that so, pretty?” Jeongguk asks. Now that he knows he has found Taehyung’s spot he keeps thrusting against it, relentlessly. Taehyung moans again, this time louder. “Are you gonna come all over yourself just from how good I’m fucking you? Untouched like this?”

The thought is fucking hot. He had never let his mind wander there, to Taehyung coming without any stimulation other than Jeongguk fucking him. But now that he sees how worked up Taehyung is, he really thinks it’s a possibility.

“Yes,” he replies, interrupting himself with a gasp. “Oh, fuck—gonna come so good, holy fuck.”

He's working his own hips back against Jeongguk’s now, too. That makes the pace messy, erratic, but Jeongguk couldn’t care less. The room is filled with the noises of skin slapping against skin, as well as their moans, and that’s all Jeongguk can care about. As well as, of course, Taehyung’s warmth and tightness around him.

It makes Jeongguk himself feel closer and closer to orgasm, too. After being so hard for so long without any sort of stimulation while he ate out and fucked Taehyung, he’s found himself particularly on edge. He feels the orgasm build up inside of his stomach now, and he knows he’s not going to last for much longer.

Taehyung is the same, Jeongguk can tell by the way he’s clenching around him now, rather uncontrollably. One of his hands leaves the mirror and instead clutches at Jeongguk’s wrist from where he’s holding on to Taehyung’s hips.

“Look at me,” Jeongguk tells him, locking eyes with him in the mirror. “I want you to look at me when you come.”

“Fuck, Jeongguk,” Taehyung says. “It’s so—oh, my God.”

It doesn’t take much longer for Taehyung to come after that, just a few thrusts from Jeongguk. He comes with a silent moan, clenching tightly around Jeongguk as his knuckles turn white in the fist that's still pressed against the mirror. It makes it hard for Jeongguk to thrust, making him moan loudly.

“Fuck, Tae—” he starts, interrupting himself with a groan. “You’re so tight. I’m gonna—”

He doesn’t get to finish his sentence. He comes then, leaning forward and muffling his cry against Taehyung’s shoulder. He closes his eyes then, and it takes him a few minutes to recover from the orgasm and ground himself. His legs are wobbly and he feels like he’s going to fall. His entire body feels like jelly right now, so he stretches one arm and holds himself up on the mirror.

They’re both left panting for a few seconds, Jeongguk still leaning on Taehyung while he tries to catch his breath. He doesn’t allow himself to get too comfortable or be like that for too long, though—last thing he needs right now is to get drowsy, since they still have to get back. He flutters his eyes open for that very same reason, dropping one kiss to Taehyung’s soft shoulder before pulling out with a sigh.

“Oh my God, Jeongguk,” Taehyung tells him then, probably because he’s still sensitive. “Fuck. I can’t believe we… Fuck.”

“Me neither, holy shit,” Jeongguk replies. He takes the condom off and ties it. He’s not quite sure of what to do with it, if he’s honest—throwing it in the bin is not an option since someone would obviously notice. He ends up going for what is probably the grossest option, pulling his jeans back up and shoving the used condom in his pocket. Those jeans were already going to need a wash, anyway. Along with his underwear, that is sticky and disgusting because of him not being able to clean himself with anything before pulling his boxers back up. “But that was good, wasn’t it?”

“Really good,” Taehyung replies, giving him a smile through the mirror as he gets his underwear and slacks back on. Jeongguk sheepishly grins at him, too. “You’re the best.”

“It’s a talent of mine,” Jeongguk replies as he gets on the floor, picking up the wrappers for the lube and the condom. He puts all of it in his pocket as well, and thanks the heavens that the floor is seemingly clean. “Should we get going, Guk?”

“Yeah, but one more thing before we leave,” Taehyung says then, finally turning around and facing Jeongguk. It’s best to look at him like this, and not through the mirror.

“What is it?”

“This,” he says at first, surging forward and kissing Jeongguk. Jeongguk smiles into it, letting one of his hands go to Taehyung’s waist and giving it a squeeze. It’s short and sweet, and Taehyung pulls back with a pleased smile. “Oh! And by the way—my come is all over the mirror.”

Jeongguk looks at the mirror, then. There, just like Taehyung mentioned, is indeed come. Lots of it, trickling down to the wooden flooring and making a mess.

Had it been someone else, Jeongguk would have probably been irritated to have to clean it up. He’s obviously the one who works here, the one who knows where all the stuff is and the one who has the keys to access it and the one who, undoubtedly, will be on charge of cleaning a mess he didn’t make. But it’s Taehyung. And because it’s Taehyung, he doesn’t care in the slightest bit.

Instead, Jeongguk just huffs out a laugh, shaking his head. “I’ll go get something to clean up.”

 

 

 When he signed up for the audition, Jeongguk had to give some personal data—phone number, email, home address. He's sure that the reason why they asked for all that information was to contact him in case he was the chosen one.

But he guesses that, because of his… peculiar position, exceptions can be made for him. Or at least, that’s what he hopes it is they’re doing when he gets called into the office of the head director of the school. Either that, or they’re firing him because they checked the security camera recordings and they found out he fucked his boyfriend in one of the classrooms.

Jeongguk’s heart is beating fast as he approaches the office and by the time he makes it there he feels like he’s going to have a stroke. He gives himself a couple of minutes to calm down before he finally musters up the courage and knocks on the door—two knocks, short and sharp.

“Come in,” the head director calls. Jeongguk takes a deep breath. It all comes down to this moment, doesn’t it?

He holds the doorknob and pushes the door open, peeking his head in. Just like he suspected, Mr. Yoo isn’t alone in there—Mr. Lee, the head of the dance department and one of the judges during his evaluation is there too, which Jeongguk saw coming. He’s more surprised to see Ms. Jang there. She is the head of the music department, so Jeongguk doesn’t really see why she would be here to give him any news about his audition.

“Did you need me, Mr. Yoo?” he asks, trying to hide both his nervousness and his excitement. They wouldn’t call him in just to let him know he didn’t get in, right…? He sees chances of there being good news, but he can’t be one hundred percent sure.

“Ah, yeah—I did, Jeongguk,” he replies, both hands clasped together on top of his desk. He then gestures to the seats opposite the desk, saying, “Come on, take a seat. We have great news to tell you.”

By this point, Jeongguk finds himself unable to contain a smile. He sits down on one of the seats, looking at the people opposite him expectantly. He doesn’t know which one of them to look at—that is, until Mr. Lee starts speaking.

“We were extremely impressed by your audition, Jeongguk,” he starts, getting straight to the point. Jeongguk is glad, since the nerves and anticipation are killing me—last thing he needed was for someone to beat around the bush for too long. “You were by far the best, and your performance denoted a maturity and emotion that we weren’t anticipating.”

“That’s—thank you very much, Mr. Lee,” he manages to say, playing with his fingers on his lap. “I’m very flattered to hear that.”

“After debating over all the aspirants we saw that day, we all agreed that you were without a doubt the most outstanding one,” Mr. Lee carries on. “We knew about your special situation as a member of the staff, and about how you had been trying to get into the school for years but were unable to, due to economical reasons.” Jeongguk’s cheeks burn a little red, all the times when he has begged Mr. Yoo in this very same office coming back to his mind. “But hard work and perseverance pay off, Jeongguk. And those are qualities we like to reward.”

“Oh,” is all that Jeongguk finds himself able to say. Across from him, Mr. Yoo smiles.

“The tribunal who evaluated your audition considers you to be not only the most suitable, but also the most deserving to receive the scholarship,” Mr. Yoo concludes then. He gives him a gentle smile then, followed by a nod. “Congratulations, Jeongguk. It is my honor to welcome you into the Seoul Art Academy. This time, as a student.”

It’s hard for him to believe his ears, after so many years. It’s been years of trying, years of rejection, years of hopelessness. He can’t even begin to count the amount of times that he’s felt like there really wasn’t any chance at all, and he was just wasting his time that he could be investing in bigger things. He even considered listening to his father—settling for a path he didn’t like and wouldn’t make him happier, just because it was easier. He feels like he’s fought so hard for this. And now, after all his blood, sweat, and tears, he’s done it. He got into his dream school.

It’s hard not to burst into tears right then and there—happy tears, of course. His eyes water a little, but he manages to push the sting away and hold the tears back. “Thank you so much,” he says. Even if he’s managing not to cry, it’s easy to detect his emotion in his voice. “Thank you so, so much. Oh my God, I—I can’t believe this. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

“You have nothing to thank us for. You’ve earned yourself a place here, after all,” Mr. Yoo tells him, smiling. “You can go for now. We’ll let you know when the paperwork needs to be done.”

“I would like to thank you for giving me this chance and believing in me still,” Jeongguk replies, at the same time he stands up. With a nod, he adds, “I’ll be looking forward to it.”

“One last thing, Jeongguk,” Ms. Jang says then, speaking for the first time since Jeongguk entered the room. Jeongguk looks at him attentively, curious about what he wants to say. “I’ve heard the composition you’ve created your choreography to, and I must admit I'm impressed by it,” she starts. “I know who Min Yoongi is, and I will personally let him know my thoughts about it. But I’ve never heard of Kim Taehyung. He was also the singer, wasn’t he?”

“That’s him, yeah,” Jeongguk says. Before he can stop himself, he says, “He’s brilliant.”

Ms. Jang smiles at him. “I believe you,” she says. “I assume you know him, so… Please, let him know I would love to hear something else from him in the future. Both as a writer and as a vocalist.”

“I will make sure to do so,” Jeongguk replies, unable to keep the smile off his face. He wholeheartedly agrees with Ms. Jang—Taehyung is amazing. He’s not quite sure what Ms. Jang has in mind, but Jeongguk is of course going to let Taehyung know what she, an experienced composer and musician, thinks of him. He then looks at the rest of the people in the room one more time, repeating, “Once again, thank you so much. I’ll forever be grateful.”

“So will we, Jeongguk,” Mr. Yoo tells him. “You may leave now. We’ll send you an email with all the information you’ll need to the address you’ve given us shortly.”

Jeongguk nods and says his goodbyes, unable to stop himself from thanking them once again, and then leaves the room. He smiles and he leans back against the door of the office, allowing himself a minute to freak out in silence. He’s still in front of the door, so he tries his best to keep the embarrassing reactions at bay.

He just finds it incredibly hard to believe. Thinking back to how one month ago or so he wasn’t even going to apply… It was Taehyung who encouraged him to, who offered him help. It was him who, along with Yoongi, made a beautiful piece for him to audition to. Jeongguk is not going to say it’s only because of Taehyung that he got in—he knows how to recognize his own merits, and he knows how hard he’s worked for this—but he definitely couldn’t have done it without Taehyung, without Yoongi. And for that, he’s going to be eternally grateful.

It’s hard to believe, but it really is happening. At last, everything is falling back into its original place.

 

 

As it was to be expected, as soon as Jeongguk tells his friends and boyfriend that he got the scholarship, they all insist on celebrating it somehow. Jeongguk isn’t really in the mood for going out to some noisy club or bar, so in the end they all agree to meet at Taehyung and Seokjin’s place and have a small get together.

There’s some takeout food, drinks and the seven of them. Jeongguk missed times like these during the past week, when there was always one of them who was too busy to meet up. He laughs the hardest when they’re all together, and he must admit that their group has come together rather easily. He’s never felt like there was anything missing when it was just Hoseok, Yoongi and him, but this is better, isn’t it?

Of course, everyone makes sure to give Jeongguk a big hug and congratulate him when they arrive. It makes Jeongguk a little shy every single time, since he’s not quite sure of what he’s supposed to say. He’s just awkward, he guesses, but he gets the same feeling he does when he’s being sung happy birthday to. He just says thanks, returns the hug and smiles wildly.

It takes him by surprise when, after dinner, Taehyung and Jimin disappear into the kitchen just to come back with a cake. It’s chocolate, and on top with white icing it says Congratulations, Jeongguk. His cheeks hurt from smiling as he takes a few pictures of it, making sure this will be a memory there will always be ways to remember.

“I can’t believe you went that extra mile,” he says laughing, covering his mouth with his hand.

“We didn’t bake the cake,” Hoseok admits then. “We just bought it and Yoongi and I added the letters.”

He can hear Jimin shush him at the time he whisper-yells, “You weren’t supposed to say that!” Jeongguk smiles then, finding the way Hoseok’s eyes widen dramatically extremely amusing.

“So that would explain why they look so amateur, then,” Jeongguk says, teasing. I mean—he’s not lying. It’s not the best lettering he’s seen on a cake, that’s for sure. But taking into consideration that his friends, who have absolutely no baking experience, did it for him, he thinks it looks pretty good.

His comment makes everyone in the room laugh, including Yoongi and Hoseok. Between chuckles, Yoongi snaps, “Shut up, asshole. Be nice.”

Jeongguk is about to reply, but he gets distracted by Taehyung sitting right next to him, on the armrest of the armchair Jeongguk is occupying. Jeongguk moves to the side, tugging Taehyung closer so he’s sitting half on the chair, half on top of Jeongguk’s thigh.

“Hi there,” Jeongguk replies, clinging closer to Taehyung. He presses his cheek against Taehyung’s neck and inhales, smelling the soft, fruity scent of body wash.

“Hi, you,” Taehyung replies, sliding one arm over Jeongguk’s shoulders and letting himself be cuddled into. “Have I told you already how proud of you I am?”

“Only about a million times in the last two days but I still like to hear it,” Jeongguk replies, making Taehyung laugh. The vibrations of his throat feel oddly pleasing against his cheek, which makes him smile even wider than he already was. “But I hope you know it’s partly because of you, too. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

With his free hand, Taehyung reaches for one of Jeongguk’s and laces their fingers together, holding his hand softly. Jeongguk looks down at their joint palms as Taehyung says, “We’re a team, aren’t we?”

A team. A team with Taehyung. A package, a unit. One that, Jeongguk hopes, can’t be separated.

“Yes,” he replies, eyes still lingering on their interlocked fingers. “We’re a team.”

 

Four months later…

The night before his first day as a student in the Seoul Art Academy, Jeongguk stays at Taehyung’s place. He’s a heavy sleeper, so he doesn’t hear Taehyung get out of bed a little before his alarm goes off to prepare him a lunchbox. When he wakes up and finds Taehyung by the counter, the box sitting on the countertop, his cheeks go bright red for a reason he can’t pinpoint.

“You didn’t have to!” Jeongguk tells him. He’s not going to admit it out loud, but he likes it when Taehyung dotes on him like this. It’s cute, isn’t it? “I know you came back late from work last night. You shouldn’t have woken up earlier.”

“But I wanted to,” Taehyung replies, turning around as he dries his hands with a kitchen rag. “I also made us breakfast, it’s in the living room. And I’m driving you there. No discussion.”

“But Tae—” Jeongguk tries to argue.

“No discussion! I’ll sleep more when you’re in class,” Taehyung tells him.

Jeongguk knows that arguing with Taehyung is impossible, as he’s as stubborn as it gets, so he doesn’t try. Plus, he doesn’t like it. He wants Taehyung to know that he doesn’t expect this to be recurring, that he doesn’t need to do these things for him all the time. But he likes receiving them, too.

They have breakfast together, which helps Jeongguk feel a little less nervous since he has company. He’s not too worried about probably being the oldest in his class, or being a little rusty—he’s going there to learn, after all. He just hopes he’s up to the standard, and that he doesn’t let down the people who chose him as the winner of the scholarship.

Luckily, Taehyung is there to reassure him and make him feel… a little more confident. He drives him to the school playing a playlist of all of Jeongguk’s favorite songs, which makes Jeongguk smile widely as they chat away and he looks out of the window.

They get there, and Taehyung parks in front of the building. Jeongguk has been here a million times, but this time… this time is different. He’s no longer a staff member, a cleaner. He now is what he’s been dreaming of for years—a student. He’s finally going to be able to fulfill his dream and feel like what he’s doing has a purpose.

“Are you nervous?” Taehyung asks him, bringing Jeongguk’s attention to himself.

“A little, yeah,” Jeongguk admits. Taehyung reaches for his hand over the console, holding it tight. “But I’m excited, mostly. I’m… I’m gonna take advantage of this.”

“I know you will,” Taehyung replies with a smile. “Good luck on your first day, even if I already know it’s going to go amazingly. I love you so much.”

“I love you,” Jeongguk replies, taking their joint hands to his mouth and kissing the back of Taehyung’s. It’s soft and warm under Jeongguk’s lips, and so his lips linger there for a couple of seconds. “So, so much.”

Taehyung laughs a little, leaning back against the headrest as he looks at Jeongguk. “Come on, go get them. I don’t want you to be late on your first day, much less because I'm entertaining you.”

“Wow,” Jeongguk says then, feigning offence. He lets go of their hands and opens the door of the car, saying, “Way to kick me out of your car, Mr. Kim.”

Taehyung laughs loudly at that, saying, “You’re so silly.” There’s a couple of seconds of silence, before he breaks it again. “And Jeongguk?” Taehyung calls. Jeongguk, who was already out of the car, looks back at him.

“Yeah?” Jeongguk asks.

“You’re staying the night at mine again tonight. No discussion.”