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“Oh, I’m sorry but we just sold the last one.”

 

Now, on this particular chilly September morning, these words wouldn't have been so bad to Taehyung Kim if he  hadn't just suffered one of the worst nights of his life. Not only had he been dumped via text message by his on again, off again boyfriend of six months, but he had spent the majority of it in the hospital with his foster dad, Namjoon, and their family friend's Hoseok and Seokjin.

 

Their son, and his closest friend, Jungkook is in surgery, and Taehyung can’t help but feel entirely guilty for it.

 

So, as he stands here in the poorly lit Starbucks, being told they've run out of his favorite banana bread he’d driven halfway across town to get, he's helpless to stop the overwhelmed tears he'd been holding back all night from cascading out. They betray him and run down his cheeks as he fights back a poorly restrained sob. The man at the register stares at him with wide eyes, clearly at a loss at why he’s decided to cry over a simple baked good, and stumbles over his next words as he tries to comfort him. "Um, w-we have cinnamon rolls? Or, um, you know, lemon pound cake?"

 

Taehyung can feel the stares of other customers on him, and immediately turns around to bolt out of the store. Pull yourself together! he scolds internally, wiping his tears away angrily. Jungkook is going to be fine . There is no way he could die. He's only eighteen! They're too young— he's  too young! When Taehyung climbs in his car, his head falls onto the steering wheel with a dull thud. Guilt coils in his stomach again as he thinks back to the prior night he’d found out about the accident.

 

He’d been so distraught over being dumped, he flat out ignored Jungkook’s text messages asking for a ride home from his job. He’d ignored the missed calls, and now Jungkook could die because him! Because he’d been so selfishly involved in frivolous feelings that, truthfully, weren’t even that deep. If he had just gotten over his stupid little heartbreak, his best friend wouldn't be at the hospital, in surgery , because of some driver eager to pass a yellow light.

 

A knock on the glass window next to him causes Taehyung to gasp in fright as he jerks from his slumped position. Beside him, there’s a guy standing awkwardly at his window and he rolls the glass down hesitantly with a confused frown. He’s definitely older, but not by much, and there’s a backpack around his shoulders, indicating he’s probably a student at the campus across the street. Taehyung takes a second to appreciate the soft features of the man, contrasted beautifully by sharp eyes. Eyes that are watching him a bit tentatively. He doesn’t even want to imagine what he looks like right now. He was no doubt he’s sporting some serious puffy eyes and tear stained cheeks. The man lifts his arm and scratches the back of his head, looking very much out of his comfort zone but open. “Um. Sorry to bother you, but… I couldn’t help but overhear back there, and I think you probably need this more than me right now.”

 

Before Taehyung can ask what the older means, he’s lifting a small paper bag up and pushing it through the window into his hands. “It was the last one.” The man explains at his puzzled expression. The scent of banana fills Taehyung’s senses and he looks into the bag to see the item he’s been denied only minutes earlier sitting inside it. His tongue darts out to lick his chapped lips and he tries to smile, but his emotions are a bit all over the place, and suddenly, he's crying again to this perfect stranger’s kindness.

 

“Shit—! Don’t-don’t cry!” The man stammers, looking even more out of his element than just moments earlier. “I’m sorry—Sorry, I just, that was supposed to make you feel better. I’m not good at this.”

 

Taehyung grips the bag tightly and shakes his head. “No! No, it—this was really nice. I’m just… t-thank you.”

 

The man smiles in relief to his response, though awkward as it is with the younger still sniffling. He reaches behind his neck to scratch and shrugs slightly. “It’s nothing. I mean, I’m more of a bagel guy, but some asshole took the last one right before me.”

 

Taehyung chuckles lowly, and he notices the other’s smile widen slightly to the sound of it. There’s a short pause as they stare at one another, still a bit awkwardly (given the circumstances), before Taehyung looks down at his hands. His fingers lift the bag and he reaches in to pull out the baked treat before splitting it in half. “Here,” he hands it back to the man, ignoring the wide eyed stare and furrowed brows to his action. Taehyung nibbles a bit on his half, shoulders lowering from their tensed position as the sweet banana flavor melts on his tongue. Food is his weakness to stress, and while it might not be a good thing, in the moment, it’s the best. “You need to eat too, right?” Taehyung asks, “I mean, some asshole took your bagel. It’s only fair.”

 

The look the man gives him smooths out into something akin to amusement and gratitude. “Thanks.”

 

Taehyung is about to ask the kind stranger for his name when suddenly his phone goes off, diverting his attention. His heart leaps to his throat at the Kiki’s Delivery Service ringtone, and he hastily reaches for the device to answer. When Namjoon’s voice filters through the receiver, there’s a relief like no other that washes over him when hearing Jungkook’s surgery went smoothly. “He’s resting now. It’s okay, Taetae, he’s okay.” Namjoon updates him what room they’re moved into and how to find them when he gets back. When Taehyung hangs up, he turns to thank the stranger one more time with lifted spirits, but the man is no longer there. Instead, the bag with half a banana nut bread is sitting on the door’s window sill with bold letters written across the front. Taehyung bites his lip as he picks it up and reads the messy scrawl.

 

I hope your day gets better. The world shouldn’t be deprived of a smile like yours. This piece is all yours.  

—Yoongi

 

“Yoongi…” Taehyung tests the name out with a whisper as he rereads the note and feels a smile bloom across his face. It’s a Korean name, and somehow, this also offers him comfort. He repeats the name to himself once more before starting up the car and taking a bite of the warm bread. It’s heaven in his mouth. As he leaves the campus and heads back downtown toward the hospital, Taehyung can’t help but think about the man for the rest of the drive. The man with soft features and sharp eyes. Yoongi.

 


 

Taehyung bows his head, a swarm of emotions swirling around in his eight year old tummy—sadness, confusion, uncertainty. The home is so much different than the place he’d been in before. There are no other kids around, no adults walking around asking him questions about how he’s feeling or how he’s “adjusting”.

 

The woman in the brown pantsuit—Barbara, the one who tells Taehyung he can trust her but never actually listens to him, she’d woken him up that morning, exclaiming she’d had good news. She said there’s someone who wants him. Taehyung tried not to care, but he’d felt a tiny bubble of hope.  But fear overwhelmed that bubble, fear of rejection and pain. Barbara took his scrunched features as dejection and assured him that this time it’s different. This time, she’d said, the man may be interested in adoption. Taehyung didn’t really know what that word meant, but he’d heard the other kids talk about it before in a negative manner, so instead of getting out of bed, Taehyung pulled a pillow over himself and turned his head away from Barbara’s too blue eyes and short black hair. He’d heard a lighter being switched off before a deep inhale followed.

 

“His name is Namjoon. Korean, like you.” Barbara said lowly, smoke billowing from her red lips as she took his lack of response with practiced ease. “Namjoon Kim. He’s a History Professor at UC Irvine. Three years widowed...aaand you don’t understand any of this.” A large sigh escaped the older woman and Taehyung knew his silence wouldn't help him in the end. Because in the end, there was always a family who promised the world to him, but a short time would pass and he gets sent back into the system. He didn't understand why though—why they never keep him. His grandfather always told him what a precious little boy he was, how special he was. And his grandmother… You have your mother’s eyes,” she’d tell him, brushing stray locks from his face as she’d tuck him in for bed. “So big and bright. My sunshine, Taehyungie.” Taehyung would giggle and ask more about the parents he never got to know before they’d died in his home country. But here in the system, here in the poorly stuffed bed shared through rotation by multiple other children, Taehyung goes to bed alone. No bedtime stories, no nighttime songs, no prayers...and certainly no family to stroke his hair and back and call him their sunshine.

 

No, Taehyung had  Barbara . Barbara with her many pantsuits and infrequent visitations. “You have twenty minutes, Taehyung.” the dark haired woman had told him, nonplussed at his petulant silence, but seemingly a bit impatient. “Twenty minutes and then we have to go.”

 

“I don’t wanna.” Taehyung mumbled, his tiny heart beating too fast as his fingers gripped his blanket tight, hoping it’d swallow him up completely. He didn’t want to go somewhere new and start to hope just to have to come back again. He didn’t want to.

 

“You know it doesn’t work like that, Tae.”

 

Taehyung only ignored her, tucking his pillow closer as his stomach churned. His eyes clenched shut as tears gathered at the corner of them, and he wanted nothing more than to scream and yell and cry, but he knew better. So instead, after a few minutes, Taehyung peeled himself apart from the itchy blanket, gaining a tight-lipped smile from the social worker, and began to gather the small number of things that hadn’t been stolen by the other kids he had the privilege to call his own.

 

The drive was quiet, except for Barbara explaining they’d be going to another town nearby. The house they pulled up to reminded Taehyung of his grandmother’s old home. There’s a porch swing and wooden banisters that wrap around the home, and it made him yearn for his grandparents. When they’d begun to park, a tall man stepped out onto the porch, prompting Barbara to turn to him before putting her cigarette out. “That’s Namjoon.”

 

Taehyung turned his head away, ignoring the man’s warm eyes and warmer smile. He knew the smile was fake. Why wouldn’t it be? Bobby Fink, some older kid at the center, he’d explained to him and a few others that families only take them in for the money. Taehyung didn’t really understand, but it’d made him feel icky, and he thinks the way Bobby had told them all is partly to blame. Somehow though, as Taehyung now sits in this quiet new home, a plush duvet under his fingertips, and the tall man’s smile retaining kindness and patience, Taehyung begins to doubt Bobby Fink’s words. Namjoon, he notices, has very pretty dimples, and he kind of wants to poke one, but is too shy, so he remains seated on the bed, watching as the man gathers his blue backpack and deposits it onto a hideous looking floral armchair in the corner of the room. He turns to Taehyung with a nervous stance and scratches his head. “So, Taehyung...do you like pizza?”

 

Taehyung loves pizza, but he stays quiet, choosing instead to nod shyly as his fingers curl together in his lap. This encourages Namjoon, and Taehyung watches the smile widen, feeling that bubble in him grow just a tiny bit bigger. “So do I.” Namjoon says before pausing slightly and giving a playful look. “Not if you ask for anchovies though. I’m afraid there’s no way we could get along if you went and asked for a thing like that.”

 

Despite himself, a giggle springs up Taehyung’s throat and he brings a hand up to cover his mouth, eyes widening at the sound as if he’d been too loud and might get sent away for being noisy. Namjoon’s eyes get a little sad, but his smile remains. “Or you can eat whatever topping you’d like. Does that sound okay?”

 

“Yes.” Taehyung says quietly, feeling warmth spread throughout him when Namjoon offers him a hand and helps him off the bed.

 

“Great! Let’s order some pizza then.”

 


 

 

Received 12:48

Class ends at 2:15. Waffles and sausage?

 

Sent 12:52

You're really milking this birthday, aren't you?

 

Received 12:54

It's not every day I turn 29, Taetae.

 

Sent 12:55

I think you're just ten years shy of your real age there, Joonie.

 

Received 12:56

Just bring the waffles. Make them Mickey shaped.

 

“Tae!”

 

Startled from his texting, the nineteen year old jumps from his position behind the large stack of dishes and pockets his phone quickly. His boss, Jihyoo, comes striding in, hair piled high on top of her head and a pen tucked behind her ear. The thick eyeliner on her lids and bright fuchsia lipstick are cracked and smeared with the hours put in her day at the Bibimbap Breakfast waffle house. It’s a part Korean-part Everything Else Western establishment, decorated in Disney fashion for being close to the park, and truly, Taehyung hasn’t seen another place like it. There’s lots of good reviews on Yelp, and plenty of customers, so he figures tourists like it. Taehyung quickly wipes his hands on a nearby rag and faces the elder woman. “Yes, auntie?”

 

“I’m paying you to work, not be on your phone. I’m to the point where—...Where the hell is Jessi?”

 

“Um.”

 

“I don’t have time to argue, Tae.” She waves her hand in frustration. “Go get table seven. And put your ears on!”

 

Taehyung grabs his Mickey Mouse ears (with the Sorcerer’s hat, because that’s his favorite), and shuffles past the strung up woman. He moves to the front of the waffle house and brushes past the cook, Seojoon, and is tempted to whine for a bite at the meat skillet he’s preparing. Seojoon chuckles and shakes his head. “Jessi missing again?”

 

“Why auntie keeps her hired, I’ll never know.” Taehyung throws over his shoulder, hurrying to the dining area. Walking over to the table, he plasters a big, fake smile and pulls a pen and pad out. “Hi, how are we doing today?”

 


 

The styrofoam container is warm in his hands as Taehyung strolls through the halls of UC Irvine. The steps to Namjoon’s classroom are familiar and he's just at the door of it before a strangely familiar voice halts him in his tracks.

 

"Hey! Banana bread!"

 

When he looks over to the source of the voice, the first thing Taehyung notices are the brown eyes filled with kindness, framed by circle lens glasses and honey blonde hair that looks far too perfectly tousled. “Yoongi,” he breathes out, grinning widely at recognizing the man.

 

Yoongi smiles at the sound of his name and he adjusts the pile of books and notes in his arms that the younger suddenly takes notice of. "You remembered."

 

"It's hard to forget when a cute stranger gives his food away just to be nice." Taehyung beams, shifting Namjoon's food from one hand to the other as he outstretches his right hand for a shake. "I'm Taehyung."

 

The older reaches his hand out from under the pile of books he's carrying, giving a shake before glancing down to the tray in his grip. "You a student here?"

 

"What? Oh, no. No, I don't attend." Taehyung shakes his head, "I'm—I work… I don't attend."

 

Yoongi hesitates to speak at the visceral reaction to his question and raises a brow before gesturing to the chocolate cupcake in the small plastic container sitting on top of the styrofoam container. "No banana bread today?"

 

"It's not for me." Taehyung says, nodding to Namjoon’s door. "It's actually for—"

 

" Min !"

 

The two turn to see a grey haired man walking briskly toward them. Yoongi looks back to Taehyung and inclines his head forward, taking a few steps back, arms adjusting the things in his arms once more. “Gotta run. Nice to officially meet you, Taehyung.” The younger’s heart thumps hard against his chest at hearing his name being spoken by a man whose voice is so honey-like. Before Yoongi turns away completely, he gives a small, awkward grin. “Glad to see you smiling this time.” With that, he turns and jogs toward the older man who's obviously a staff member of the school and falls into a conversation Taehyung can't hear.

 

Behind him, the door to Namjoon’s classroom opens and a flood of students begin to pour out. Taehyung catches snippets of few conversations, some about the class and others about a dorm party. Once inside, Taehyung can't help but beam at his foster dad putting away a balloon assortment that reads, "OVER THE HILL!".

 

"Who's the brown-noser that gave you those?" He jokes, walking over to the older man.

 

Namjoon looks over at him from his position at the desk and chuckles, relaxing at his entrance. "You jump to brown-noser before considering a student may actually appreciate me as his Professor?"

 

Taehyung snorts and accepts the hug he gets before placing the lunch still in his grip on the desk in front of him. Namjoon opens the container and hums appreciatively at the food piled inside. There's waffles, sausage, biscuits and gravy. His favorite. "Oh!" Taehyung reaches into his messenger bag, pulling out a small bottle of syrup. "The most important part."

 

"This is why you're my favorite kid, Taetae."

 

"I'm your only kid."

 

"Still my favorite."

 

Taehyung smiles lightly and hoists himself on the desk, reaching over to grab a piece of sausage, nibbling on it as he eases his  muscles from a long morning of work.

 

"What're your plans for today?"

 

"I've got a split shift at the diner." Taehyung answers with a shrug. "I'll probably stop by the house first. I've got an essay due on Friday that I haven't even started, but Kook said he'd help me out."

 

"Hm." Namjoon hums thoughtfully, letting him know he disapproved his procrastination with creased brows.

 

"Hey, no hm-ing." Taehyung whines cutely with a pout. "I brought you waffles."

 

"I thought it was from the goodness of your heart.” Namjoon quips back, “Not something to hold over my head with."

 

Taehyung grins at that and swipes another sausage link. "It's both."

 

"You sure Kook going over is a good idea? He's still healing—”

 

"Joonie, there's this thing called a cell phone." he grins teasingly at him, suppressing a giggle at the dry look his sarcasm receives before adding, "I know with you being over the hill and all you might not understand their concept yet."

 

"Keep talking." Namjoon tells him, shaking his head. "I can still ground you, you know. I don't care how old you are."

 

Taehyung giggles behind his hand and quickly apologizes. They continue eating and talking, and just when Taehyung is about to reach into his bag to pull out the gift he’d been working up the courage to present Namjoon with—the papers that have been sitting in his bag for the better part of a month, what his foster dad brings up gives him pause. He says he’s been invited to dinner by a man named Jimin. Apparently, he’s a news reporter that’d been there at the University that morning, covering a story on a political protest happening in the student’s learning center.

 

“What’s going on in that head of yours, doodlebug?” Namjoon gently prods, patiently gauging his reaction to this news as his old pet name for him comes to soothe. “I can cancel—”

 

“No!” Taehyung exclaims, pushing the papers in his grip back down into his bag. Namjoon sits there, still studying his reaction, and Taehyung forces himself to ease the tension in his shoulders, though his mind races. It’s always just been them. Taehyung and Namjoon. While his foster dad went on occasional dates every now and then (he’s not naive enough to believe Namjoon dressed up nicely some nights and dropped him off and Hoseok and Seokjin’s place just so he could go ‘bowling with co-workers’)—No, Namjoon has been on dates, but never once has he discussed them with him. This time, he gives Taehyung a name and short description of the man, which leads him to believe this Jimin person is someone already comfortably acquainted with his foster dad. “No, don’t be silly.” he smiles, feigning nonchalance though his mind is conflicted with the change. “You should go! I’ll be at work anyway. We can do dinner or something else on my day off?”

 

The look Namjoon gives shows he’s not entirely convinced by the big boxy smile directed toward him, but he nods anyway and leans back with a grin. “Okay. Only if you’re sure.”

 

“I am.” Taehyung nods before hopping off the desk and pulling his phone out. “And I’m behind on my essay, so I’ll see you later.”

 

“Come here.” Namjoon reaches and pulls him close, kissing the top of his head like he’s a child again and not a grown man. “Thank you for breakfast, Taetae. And the cupcake.”

 

“It’s just food, Joonie.” Taehyung smiles, leaning into the man’s embrace. He absolutely loves receiving so much affection, and is grateful to have such a doting person like Namjoon in his life.

 

“It’s more than that and you know it.” Namjoon responds, ruffling his hair before shooing him away. “Now go finish your essay or you’re grounded.”

 


 

“Are you sure I should conclude it like this?” Taehyung groans, staring at the writing document in front of him dejectedly. “It sounds weird. Like a run on sentence or something.”

 

“Who’s the Lit major here, Tae?” Jungkook’s voice echoes through the speaker on his phone.

 

Grumbling lightly, Taehyung types away and sends the draft to his friend’s email. “Okay, I sent it to you. Mind if you proof-read it by tomorrow? I’m already behind.”

 

“Yeah, sure.” Jungkook responds as muffled voices in the background flitter through the phone.

 

“Is Jin home again?” Taehyung asks, raising a brow in surprise. Usually Hoseok worked straight through the week, doing his best to keep his dance studio afloat.

 

“Yeah.” Jungkook responds before lowering his voice to a whisper. “He’s been acting weird.”

 

“Weird how?” Taehyung furrows his brows at the tone.

 

“Asking about my comics and taking an interest in...well, my interests .” the younger responds, sounding a little confused but hopeful. It’s not that Seokjin is a bad dad—in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Jungkook believes he has the best dads! Seokjin though, he works very long hours and has a business to run, so it’s not often he spend time with him.

 

“Maybe almost losing you made him realize some things.” Taehyung offers, fighting back a yawn as exhaustion creeps its way up his spine and behind his eyelids. “Seriously though, maybe the accident made him realize he could be a little more present in yours and Hobi's life? Have you showed him all of your comics?” The boy definitely had talent, drawing and writing the most bizarrely awesome comics that had even Namjoon impressed. There are strips hung around his bedroom and even a book the younger had made for his fourteenth birthday titled, "THE GOLDEN SPHINX" .

 

"It's about a veterinarian named Taehyung, who gets bit by a radioactive dog and then earns the ability to communicate with the animals around him! A vigilante saving people by night, and Vet saving animals by day! Pretty cool, huh?" He had gushed upon him opening it. Pretty cool was a lackluster word for how truly awesome it really was. Even as kids Jungkook had always encouraged him to work with animals, just like his mom had supposedly done in Korea. Taehyung does have a soft spot for the creatures and would enjoy helping...but it’s not where his passion lies, and more than that, he’d made the stupid decision to take a year off after high school instead of applying to a University and now has to do the General-Ed bullshit online while he contemplates what he actually wants to do.

 

It's not horrible, but it's not ideal for him. He just wishes he’d taken his education more seriously. Now, he’s stuck doing grueling work at the waffle house for minimum wage and less than decent tips from the frugal bastards in this town.

 

"Yeah, I can tell he doesn't totally get it, but at least he's trying." Jungkook responds before he hears Hoseok's voice on the other end. "Hey, I have to go. I'll edit your essay later, okay?"

 

"Okay. Bye, Kookie."

 

"Later, Taetae."

 

Tossing his phone onto his bed, Taehyung plops down beside it and puns his palms over his eyes tiredly, yawning loudly as the bones in his body pop at his exaggerated stretch. Turning his head, Taehyung grimaces at the bag on his desk and walks over to it, pausing slightly before pulling the papers out to read for the umpteenth time.

 

 

CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES

PETITION OF ADULT ADOPTION

 

 

Biting his lip, Taehyung stuffs the papers back in his bag with a huff before throwing it over his shoulder and walking out the room to head for work. There are hardly any customers that come in during the evening shift at the waffle house. Mornings are their busiest times of day, and there's hardly ever more than two waiters and one cook on staff, but tonight, Taehyung is alone with waiting the tables and their evening shift cook looks nearly fizzled from the stress of a student’s life.

 

"Kai, you're burning the burgers." Taehyung sighs tiredly, hoping not to startle the young teen.

 

"Huh? Oh, shit!" The kid jolts from his thoughts and rushes to take the charred patties off the grill as a thick grey smoke fills the kitchen. "Dammit!"

 

"Are you okay?" Taehyung asks, noticing he looks more mopey than usual. Kai is Jihyoo’s actual nephew, so he knows the older woman won’t fire him. Truthfully, it isn't the first time the boy nearly started a kitchen fire, but by now it's like there's no surprise at his accident-prone actions. To his question, Kai nods, avoiding eye contact as he starts new with the order. At the ding of the bell on the door, Taehyung lingers just another moment longer to stare at him before moving to the front of the store. When he sees who's walked in, he halts mid-step and wonders if the universe is trying to tell him something, or simply that Anaheim is a smaller city than people thought.

 

There, sat in a corner booth with a man, and two brunette women—one with a short bob that suits her pixie like features, and one with waves and bright eyes as green as the polish on her nails—is Yoongi Min. He doesn't notice Taehyung at first, instead sharing a laugh with his group of friends, in what looks like a double date? Not covered in a large coat that swallows him up, Taehyung takes a minute to appreciate the elder’s nicely dressed self and coos at how soft he looks. Once again, Yoongi’s hair is tousled perfectly so and Taehyung realizes he looks really handsome. Mature and all the things he ogled about on dumb Netflix dramas. It's then he realizes he's staring, and quite embarrassingly so. Before he gains his footing, Yoongi turns and catches sight of him, his eyes widening in recognition.

 

“Taehyung?” His friends all snap their vision toward him and Taehyung shakes himself from his frozen spot before walking over with a forced smile, pulling out a notepad from his apron.

 

"Hi, Yoongi."

 

The wavy haired woman’s eyes dart between them both, remaining silent as the oblivious man gives Taehyung his rapt attention. "I didn't know you worked here." He says as an easy grin slips on his face.

 

"Well…” Taehyung starts awkwardly, feeling embarrassed for crushing so hard on someone who is not only older, but apparently not even gay. “that's probably because we don't know each other." he shrugs. The man’s friend watches them with interest, but Yoongi continues, nonplussed to Taehyung’s shy tone.

 

"Well, that’s not true." He leans forward and adjusts his glasses, pointing to his name tag. "Your name’s Taehyung. You like banana bread, and you work here. See?"

 

Taehyung refrains from folding his arms across his chest as he regards the older man in front of him, and grins back. "And you're a student at UC Irvine who, what? Occasionally fills a 'nice guy' quota for random strangers by doing selfless deeds? Oh, and you like bagels." He adds as an afterthought, before resisting the urge to blush at the other man’s red cheeks.

 

The friend snorts out a laugh however, directing Taehyung’s attention to him instead. "A student!?"

 

"Shut up, Jae." Yoongi grumbles, looking a bit shy now that Taehyung’s spoken. During all of this, he doesn't miss the annoyed look the wavy haired girl's face directed at him, presumably at being ignored, and Taehyung clears his throat before looking down at his notepad filled with doodles sketched in moments of boredom.

 

"I'm going to take the compliment with grace, asshole." Yoongi says to the other man, causing Taehyung to look up confusedly.

 

"Compliment?"

 

"I don't go to school at Irvine." He explains a bit awkwardly, reaching up to scratch his ear. “I teach there.”

 

Unable to help himself, Taehyung’s eyes widen comically as his mouth parts in astonishment. He looks far too young to be a Professor and can’t help but blurt out, “How old are you?”

 

"Uh," He chuckles, thrown by his rather blunt question, moving his hand to rub at his neck. “Thirty-one." The woman glares at him, now more apparent at her distaste for being ignored so long, and Taehyung clears his throat, ignoring the too joyful look the friend, Jae, gives to the two of them.

 

“Well...You uh, you look good." He tells him, witnessing the older’s brows shoot up before quickly amending, "For your age, I mean! N-Not that I'm implying you're old—I—I… " Taking in a deep breath, he looks up to the ceiling, feeling their gazes burning holes into him before staring down at his notepad determinedly, "Can I get you all something to drink?"

 

Hurriedly taking their drink order, Taehyung hightails it to the kitchen and slams his back against the wall, wondering where the hell any of that came from; how in the matter of ten minutes Taehyung’s crush on a perfect stranger seemed to multiply, only to realize Yoongi is too old for him, and then completing the encounter by making a fool of himself, possibly insulting the Professor with his questions.

 

"Hyungie, you look a little red. You okay?"

 

"Kai, please stop talking."

 

Glancing up at the clock on the wall, Taehyung groans and presses his hands over his face, realizing he’s only an hour into his five hour shift.

 


 

 

The evening drags on as slowly as Taehyung expects. After properly embarrassing himself with his unfailing ability to stick his foot in his mouth, he tries to hide in the kitchen as much as he possibly can while risking glimpses to the dining area out the swinging door, biting his lip when noticing on a couple occasions Yoongi glancing around as if looking for something… someone? Of course, he has to go out and check their table for refills or additional orders, all the while being constantly called over to table four where their regular – Larry , a grouchy old bastard who never leaves him a tip, calls for the most unnecessary things.

 

Upon eavesdropping, Taehyung learns the wavy haired girl's name is Janet, and the other pixie one, as she'd started to refer to in his head, her name is Eleanor. From the way Jae and Eleanor lean into each other with dopey looks on their faces the whole evening, he figures it's only obvious they're a couple. Wiping down the counter, making sure to stay low and out of sight, a snapping of fingers has him pause mid swipe to peer over the counter, straight over to Yoongi’s table. Narrowing his eyes, Taehyung isn't surprised to see Janet is the person snapping her fingers at him, calling out ' waiter !' as Yoongi follows her gaze with a bit of unease.

 

Clenching the rag in his fist at the disrespect, Taehyung straightens up and walks stiffly to their table, doing his best to force a polite tone as he addresses them. "Did you need something?"

 

"Yes," Janet huffs, looking at the other three as if they all shared her unnecessary irritation. "We've been waiting twenty minutes for a check—"

 

"More like five." Yoongi piques up, looking apologetic as Jae downs the rest of his beer. "It’s really not a problem."

 

"Actually, it is." Janet waves her hand, flashing those bright green nails at Taehyung again, who briefly has the image of stabbing one of those nails right into the woman's eye. It's a morbid thought, but is makes his smile come easier. "We're going to miss our movie. Could you give us the check, please?"

 

"Sure." Taehyung grabs their card and turns around, the stiff smile he'd been forcing slipping right off his face. His foul mood is only amplified by the constant vibrating of his phone in his pocket as Jungkook spams his inbox with new sketches of his, reminding him not only is the younger having a better evening than him, but so is Namjoon. Speaking of which, Taehyung pulls out his phone, ignoring the 18 notifications from Jungkook and scrolls to Namjoon’s name, typing a quick message to let him know he’s going to be staying later than expected, thanks to Kai’s butterfingers as he’d destroyed a whole row of eggs and kimchi in the deep fridge.

 

"Excuse me? Waiter!"

 

Taehyung refrains from rolling his eyes to the back of his head as Janet's voice calls out to him again and he chooses to ignore the woman, not caring of the consequences for such an act to a customer. His fingers punch the keys in the register roughly, the sound of change and clicking echoing in the small restaurant over the low tunes of some singer he doesn’t know the name of.

 

Ripping the receipt papers from the machine prematurely, Taehyung stares at them with irritation before sauntering back over to the group's table to leave the receipt upon. He’s not usually this rude, but he’s tired, a bit embarrassed, a bit disrespected, and a bit dejected. He has every reason to be a little grumpy. He ignores the low, indignant remarks from the woman again and wonders how anyone can stomach her vile attitude for more than two seconds before making to walk away. Yoongi’s voice calls out to him before he can turn completely however, and repressing a sigh, Taehyung clasps his hands in front of him and looks at the older expectantly. "Was there something else I could help you with, sir?"

 

Jae and Eleanor walk past him, Janet faltering slowly behind, telling their friend they'll meet him outside before the Professor’s attention falls back to him. He tries not stare, not wanting to seem creepy, he really does! But when Yoongi moves to pull out his wallet, Taehyung can’t help but let his eyes roam over the man’s form. They snap back up however at the clearing of a throat and Taehyung’s face flames at being caught staring before his eyes fall to the twenty dollar bill being offered to him. Staring confusedly at the cash, Taehyung jerks his thumb to the register behind him. "Um… you just paid."

 

Yoongi’s chuckle his low and warm like the honey Taehyung drizzles on his toast every morning. Sweet, he'd even go so far as to say before grimacing at the completely neurotic thought.

 

"Yeah, I know." His brows crease together apologetically. "This is for the shit my friend gave you tonight. She’s not normally like this. I’m not sure why she—"

 

"It's fine." Taehyung holds his hand up, not caring what the woman was normally like, or her reason for acting so unnecessarily rude. Taehyung doesn't care if she's a self proclaimed Mother Theresa, there's no excuse for behavior like that toward someone who’s just doing their job. "She's a small blimp on my asshole radar." he snorts before a gasp leaves his lips once registering that once again, he's spoken too bluntly. He fully expects Yoongi to be offended at a stranger talking about his friend like that; it's not as such, however. Apparently what he's said is humorous to him as he laughs outright while rubbing his free hand over his neck. His right hand is still outstretched with the money he's offering him as a tip. "C'mon. Think of it as me covering that old man's tip, too."

 

Surprised he'd even noticed Larry's lack of tip, Taehyung folds his arms over his chest and stares at the man suspiciously, trying to figure out his angle. There’s no way someone is just this… nice . Maybe himself, yes. But he’s special. Namjoon tells him so all the time he’s the kindest person to ever breathe . There has to be an ulterior motive. "I don't need charity." he says slowly, lips jutting out in a confused pout.

 

Yoongi’s brows shoot up as he breathes out another chuckle, mimicking his stance as he folds his arms. There's a brief pause as he studies his face, a softness to his features as he stares like he’s trying to solve a complicated thought in his head. "Has anyone ever told you you're kind of intimidating?"

 

"No." Taehyung’s eyes widen. He’s not intimidating. If anything, Yoongi is the intimidating one, and the bizarre question stirs a strange sense of butterflies in his stomach. For what reason they were there, he has no idea. It’s not like Yoongi is flirting with him, but he’s got just the slightest accent to his soft tone of voice, and it’s just so low and charming...Taehyung tries to keep his cheeks from heating up. Again . He wrings his hands together and shakes his head. “Nope. No one.”

 

The butterflies swoop in with a vengeance to the older man’s easy smile and slightly teasing words. “Probably too intimidated to."

 

A car's honk keeps Taehyung from responding and the two turn toward the window overlooking the parking lot to see Jae hanging out of the passenger's side, leaning on the open door as he stares at them through the glass expectantly. Taehyung feels a rush of embarrassment at realizing his friends had probably been staring at them the whole time they've been talking, no doubt seeing Yoongi’s extended arm hang for longer than necessary with the tip he'd refused to take.

 

"I’m not leaving until you take the tip." Yoongi tests him easily with a raise of his brow, and Taehyung doesn't know him to expect him to keep his word or not.

 

"Do you have a ten?" He counters, watching his brows shoot back up. His question seemingly throws him off, but a few seconds later he slips the twenty back into the worn leather pouch before pulling out a ten and raising it his direction.

 

"Learned something else about you tonight." he says lowly, putting his wallet back in his pocket.

 

"Yeah?" Taehyung squeaks, avoiding the eyes still on him as he takes the wrinkled bill and stuffs it in his apron.

 

“Mhm.” Yoongi nods, taking a step forward as his hand jam into his pockets.

 

"What's that?"

 

"You're stubborn."

 

"'Great things are done not by force, but stubbornness.”  Taehyung quotes, folding his arms again as he steps back, expecting Yoongi to leave now that he’s taken the tip.

 

He doesn't, though. Instead, he stares him with an unreadable expression and an impressed glint in his eyes. He tilts his head, as if trying to read him, and just before can can ask what he's doing, Yoongi speaks. "Samuel Johnson."

 

Blinking at hearing the name of the poet he'd quoted, Taehyung can count the number of times anyone's actually picked up on the famous quotes he occasionally slips into everyday conversations on one hand. Truthfully, he blames Namjoon and his nerdy ways for it. He’s always quoting scholars, poets and old guys who did stuff in such and such war a million years ago... Taehyung only remembers the relatable ones though. "Yeah..." He nods, drawing the word out with a slight bit of surprise.

 

Yoongi opens his mouth again before the prolonged beep of a car horn splits the silence, dragging on until he looks back at the window and gestures in annoyance to his friend behind the wheel. Exhaling, the older turns back to Taehyung and grins apologetically for the umpteenth time that night. "I'd better head off now. It was real nice to see you again, Taehyung."

 

"Yeah." He replies lowly, clutching his arm to his side. "You too."

 

Even staying an hour later than his scheduled shift, Taehyung arrives home to an empty house. He checks his phone to see if Namjoon’s answered him back but frowns at the lack of response. His gut twists painfully, his mind already conjuring up his foster dad in the worst case scenarios. It wasn't like him to not respond. Taehyung chews his thumbnail as he re-dials his number, only furrowing his brows in frustration when he gets sent straight to voicemail. At the beep, he leaves a message, the drumming of his heart beat fast in his chest. "Joonie, it's me… I'm just… I want to make sure you're okay. I'm home now. Just text me so I know you're alright. Love you…"

 

Upon taking time to wash the smell of grease and syrup off himself and tidying a few things around the house out of pure boredom, the nerves at Namjoon’s lack of response still gnaw at his insides. He pulls the comforter from his bed and pads himself into the living room to curl up on the recliner facing the front door. His phone feels heavy in his hand as he rocks lightly in the chair and he pushes down the anxiety overwhelming him. He can remember it clear as day… only six years old when his then babysitter had panicked at the late night knocking of his grandparent's front door. Yet, upon answering it, Taehyung remembers the flashing red and blue lights as he stared up at the two police officers on the doorstep. He remembers the sympathetic looks they gave him while speaking to the very unprepared babysitter. "There's been an accident ."

 

Shaking his head, Taehyung grips his phone tighter and allows his head to drop to the curved part of the recliner he’s in, taking deep, even breaths to calm his nerves. He doesn’t remember drifting off, but the sound of a door shutting closed has him jolt into consciousness as the drowsiness dissipates with a few blinks. “Namjoon!” he cries out, relief flooding over him like a gentle wave as he untangles himself from the blanket wrapped around him.

 

Namjoon walks into the room, smiling sweetly at him, oblivious to the amount of stress he’s caused. He pads over before Taehyung can get up and pauses when witnessing the tears gathered in the young one’s eyes. “Wh—”

 

“Where were you?” Taehyung demands, chest tightening as his fingers grip the blanket a bit too tightly. He knows he’s overreacting. He knows Namjoon is a grown man who deserves to go out and have a nice time, but Taehyung is scared . He can’t lose him. He can’t. “I was worried sick!"

 

Namjoon blinks down at him, brows pinching in concern. "I thought we discussed this at the school? I went to dinner with—"

 

"Why didn't you answer your phone?" Taehyung cuts him off with a shaky breath, finally standing and diving in for a hug. Namjoon returns it, despite his confusion. When Taehyung continues, his words are thick and wobbly, tears clinging to his lashes. “I thought something happened...”

 

Namjoon’s confusion melts into one of understanding as he pulls him closer, stroking his still damp hair. He feels like a real jerk. "Oh, Taehyungie. I’m sorry, doodlebug. My phone died early in the night. I should've used someone else's to let you know."

 

"I thought… I thought…" Taehyung's voice trembles at the thought of losing him like the family before him, and he buries his face into the older man’s shoulder, uncaring of the fact that he’s no longer a child who needs to be coddled. He feels safe in Namjoon’s arms. Namjoon’s always taken care of him, has always been there since he first stepped foot in this house. Taehyung can’t help that he panics sometimes. He can’t help the anxiety he feels when they’re apart too long. He knows this isn’t normal, but he’d promised himself that if it ever got too bad, he’d talk to someone about it. “I thought you left me.”

 

"Oh, I wouldn't go and do a thing like that." Namjoon assures him quietly, kicking himself for forgetting just how quick the younger is to jump to the worst possible conclusions when it came to him and his safety. "I promise."

 

"You can't promise stuff like that, Joon." Taehyung frowns, pulling away.

 

"Sure I can." He says so seriously that Taehyung nearly believes him. "I promise you, I will never leave you. You're my kid, remember?"

 

Despite himself, Taehyung feels a smile tug at his lips as his shoulders ease from the tension they'd been stuck in and follows him as he walks up the stairs. Now that his fear is gone, it's now being overtaken by curiosity and he can't help but voice it. "So…?"

 

Namjoon looks over his shoulder at him, raising a brow at being followed up to his bedroom. "What?"

 

Taehyung gives a look that says, 'really?', before smiling with impatience. "How was your date? Did you take pictures? Did you take him to a nice restaurant? What happened?"

 

Namjoon chuckles lowly, cheeks pink as he gives him a tired but amused look. “Actually,” he drags out, “he treated me to dinner."

 

"Yeah?" Taehyung grins, happiness infectious as he watches Namjoon smile so big his eyes crinkle.

 

"He kept insisting I shouldn't pay on my birthday. He was stubborn, I couldn't get him to change his mind…Come to think of it, you two might get along in that regard." He defends at his reaction, teasing him just a bit before continuing. "I ended up having to slip the money in his bag when he wasn't looking."

 

"Smooth." Taehyung giggles at the image as he leans against the doorway. His smile softens as he thinks of his foster dad; Namjoon had put him first since day one, since his social worker dropped him off. He’d made mistakes, sure—being a first time father to an eight-year-old, it wasn't easy. There were the befuddled moments of Taehyung’s panic attacks the first few months staying with him, the hysteria he'd faced during his first separation when Namjoon dropped him off his first day at school after moving in...and yet, Namjoon had done his best to remain calm for him, to figure out a solution without berating him in any way. Even when he'd felt all alone in the world, Namjoon had saved him. Taken him under his wing and provided him with love and friendship.

 

He was there for Taehyung always, and now he thinks it's time he has someone there for him, and judging the way he continues to talk about his evening, obviously leaving bits and pieces out, he realizes he’s happy he'd gone and had a good time with this Jimin person. He just hopes this guy is deserving of him. Later, when they bid each other good night, Taehyung can't help but lie awake in his bed and think about Namjoon’s words when describing his date. “Stubborn", he'd called him more than once, and 'independent' .

 

Without meaning to, Taehyung’s mind drifts to Yoongi—the stranger, or rather acquaintance? Truthfully, he doesn't know what to call him, so he sticks with the latter. He thinks about what he'd said to him that night, calling him stubborn also. He hadn't said it in a bad connotation, rather it had been amicably. The light in his eyes, filled with humor and charm, they had stared down at him with no signs judgement to his admittedly sour and flustered attitude. His phone buzzes beside him and Taehyung nearly rolls his eyes as Jungkook’s name pops on screen before answering with a bit of playful annoyance in his tone. "Kookie, if you don't stop blowing up my phone, I'll drive to your place and break your other leg."

 

Jungkook ignores him (obviously), speaking up almost out of breath as the excitement in his words nearly flow through his speaker. " Invincible, issue 107—! You will never guess what happens to Monster Girl during—"

 

“Goodnight, Kook!" He grunts, not in the mood to listen to his best friend spoil a comic he hasn’t yet read before hanging up. As much as he loves his friend, the younger’s insomnia can be grating on his nerves some nights when he calls and spoils comics and episodes of shows he’s watching. His phone lights up and he lifts it to his face only to stare blankly at the short there. "She has an alien baby."

 

With a groan, Taehyung turns his phone off and buries his face under his pillow.

 

At least he has tomorrow off.

 


 

 

There’s something about the holiday season that Taehyung absolutely hates.

 

The carolers, the mass influx of shoppers, and the giant swarms of families with their out of town relatives and tourists piling into Bibimap Breakfast . Namjoon had dubbed Taehyung the Grinch since the first year he'd been with him, and while he didn't mind the decorations, those are quite gorgeous, truthfully, it’s more the recklessness people seemed to have around this time of year—as if the holiday season gave people a free pass to be idiots. Really Taehyung knows his dislike of the holiday has less to do with the mainstream traditions, and more with the fact that it reminds him of the time his grandparents were taken so suddenly from him. They'd been on a date, a rare night out for the old married couple, and then hit by a drunk driver who'd been on his way home from a Christmas office party. Taehyung spent the day before Christmas Eve at a home unfamiliar to him, where his then foster mother ignored him all throughout Christmas and his birthday and got irritated easily over his grieving outbursts. He’d only been a small child, confused and scared, and missing his grandparents. He’d called out for them in his bed, fat tears running down his face while his foster mother tried to soothe him before getting frustrated and giving up, leaving him to thrash around on his own.

 

Yes, Taehyung can’t stand the holiday season. He can’t stand people during the holiday season, yet here he sits, despite his better judgement, at a circled table in a posh restaurant with Namjoon and his now boyfriend Jimin, listening to Nat King Cole sing about Jack Frost nipping noses. Jimin, from what Taehyung has gathered since meeting the other only a week after Namjoon’s birthday, is very likable.

 

"You must be Taehyung." He'd smiled prettily at him, eyes curving into endearing little crescents. "Namjoon's told me a lot about you."

 

Taehyung hadn't responded right away, instead choosing to eye the man speculatively. " Yeah."

 

"Listen Taehyung, I won't hold back anything from you. Namjoon and I have been talking for a couple months now." He’d said quite bluntly . "And I have no intentions of coming between you two. He's made it clear you come first, and honestly? I wouldn't be interested in him if he hadn't."

 

Not really knowing how to respond right away at the man’s bluntness, Taehyung had only blinked and nodded before he found his voice. “I kind of knew you two knew each other better than he’d let off. It’s okay. I just want Joon happy.”

 

“I just don’t want you to think I’m coming in to take all of his time from you. That’s the last thing I want.”

 

“I’m not a kid. Joonie can spend whatever time he wants with you, but… thank you.”

 

It was the sincerity in the man’s words and eyes, on top of his straightforwardness, that had Taehyung approving of him. Now, a couple months later, he’s joined with them both to meet the man’s parents. Looking to his foster dad, Taehyung can see past his relaxed demeanor that he’s nervous. Scooting his chair next to his, Taehyung smiles sweetly at him. “You’re funny.”

 

“Funny?” Namjoon blinks, turning his head slightly and giving him a strange look with the curve of his lips. “What do you mean?”

 

“You’re so nervous!” Taehyung snickers, poking his side as Namjoon sits up straighter and schools his features into an exaggerated look of ease.

 

“I’m not.”

 

“You are! You’re so nervous!”

 

“You wanna be grounded, kid?”

 

Making the gesture of zipping his lips, Taehyung sits back in his seat and raises a brow at the disgruntled Jimin in front of them. “Jimin, you okay?”

 

The man in question glares angrily at his phone, presumably texting his parents, who were now thirty minutes late to this outing they’d planned. He looks up at Taehyung when realizing he hadn’t answered and quickly does. “Huh? Oh, yeah, no, I’m fine. Ugh, leave it to my parents to keep us waiting in a place like this.”

 

Taehyung’s grin widens, taking delight in a grumbling Jimin. He thinks he can see why Namjoon finds him adorable with his puffy cheeks and crooked tooth snagging on his bottom lip. The distaste for the too fancy restaurant is obvious, but Taehyung shrugs lightly. “It’s not so bad…”

 

“I’d prefer a burger joint.”

 

Taehyung’s grin widens. “At least there I’d know what I’m ordering. Like, what the heck is Cham...Champignion par...parmentier au gratin ..?” Taehyung struggles with the pronunciation of the words on the menu, sounding them out as best he can. “And where are the prices?”

 

“People who come to places like this don’t need to see prices.” Jimin snorts wryly as Namjoon flips through the menu with with a nervous grimace in place, no doubt wondering if he’s going to be the one in charge of the bill. It isn’t long after that that Jimin’s parents arrive. His mother and father remind Taehyung of mannequins he passes by in shops, their faces holding no emotion other than distaste as they passive aggressively berate their son’s restaurant choice.

 

“Well, mother, you’re in Irvine now. This is as five star as you’re going to get.”

 

“Hm.”

 

They make chit chat, mostly in Korean, so he only catches bits and pieces of the conversation, making Taehyung wish he could've just stayed home. The elder Park man hadn’t regarded him once, not that Taehyung really minded, but when he does finally call his name out, a short “Taehyung-ssi,” Taehyung startles mid-gulp into his drink, a rush of soda splashing up his nose and down his neck. He puts his cup down hurriedly and listens to the question the old man asks about his schooling. When he replies, frantically wiping himself dry as Namjoon squeezes his shoulder reassuringly, he briefly recognizes the less than impressed look his answer about online schooling receives. His shirt, the nicest one he owns of blue silk, is slightly damp now, and he whines internally.

 

Excusing himself to go to the bathroom, Taehyung walks away from the table with a sigh of relief, even more tempted now to just ditch and go back home so he can put on some sweats and eat while watching the few animes he’s behind on.

 

“Tae? Tae!”

 

His name is not a common one, so of course Taehyung’s head snaps up, face falling as his heart skips unpleasantly in his chest. “Shit.” Dark hair that’s slicked back and with a suit too baggy on him, Taehyung watches as his ex-boyfriend try to make his way over. It’s been a while since they’ve broken up, and in that time, he’s blocked his number after the persistent calls and texts begging him to take him back—saying that he’ll change and the girl he’d left him for couldn’t compare—it's all bullshit Taehyung hadn’t wanted to hear. Before he can even wonder what the other is doing there, he bolts for the restroom in a panic, not eager to talk at all.

 

“Tae, wait!”

 

Fumbling with the lock of the bathroom door as he slams it shut, Taehyung presses himself against the wall but stiffens when hearing yet another familiar voice call his name. He freezes in mortified shock, mouth dropping as his face heats up in flames. “Y-Yoongi?!”

 

Of all the places in the world…

 

Here, in a small single person’s restroom, is Yoongi. The somewhat stranger who’d shown him a few acts of kindness, staring at him now with wide eyes and a very red face. He’s shirtless. Shirtless with an equally, very bare chested woman, who for some reason does nothing to shield herself from Taehyung’s gaping expression. Instead, she turns to the shorter man and quips, “You didn’t lock the door?”

 

Taehyung yelps, shock fading slightly as he pivots on his heels, facing the door with fingers pressed to his eyes while clenching them shut. “Sorry! God—I, fuck, I’m sorry!”

 

“I—”

 

“Tae?” A banging from the other side of the door shuts them up and the nineteen year old bites back a humiliated whimper, this situation causing a complete shock to his system at the incredulity of it all. "Come on, Tae, I-I just want to talk!"

 

"This is not happening." He groans quietly into his hands, his face burning hot as if the sun was directly beating down on him. Has he suddenly stepped into a poorly written cliché? The absolute absurdity of it all… Stuck between an asshole and a half naked couple, he had thought his night couldn't possibly get any worse, but alas...

 

"Tae, please." His ex pleads through the door, causing him to bite his lip in contemplation on what to do. "I made a mistake! Please, talk to me. I-I still love you."

 

Oh, Jesus... His eyes roll up to the ceiling as he inhales deeply.

 

"Uh…is everything okay?" Yoongi asks in concern, scrambling to put his dress shirt back on. The banging continues before the shirtless woman brushes past them to the door, causing Taehyung to jerk back with a squeak in order to avoid her nudity. The woman opens the door brazenly, and Taehyung can hear the words die on his ex's throat as he faces her.

 

"There's no Tae in here. Leave."

 

Not waiting for a response, the woman slams the door shut and locks it before grabbing her clothes off the floor. Taehyung and Yoongi can only stare at her in shock before Taehyung slams his hands back up to his eyes, covering them once more as embarrassment floods him. “Oh, God, sorry! Sorry, I—shit, sorry!”

 

"Christ," Yoongi's voice murmurs uncomfortably. "I-I...What're you doing here anyway?"

 

" Me! ?" Taehyung practically sputters indigently at the near accusatory tone. "What are you doing here!? You can't—you can't do that stuff in here!"

 

Yoongi’s opens his mouth but he can't find an argument against that.

 

"And next time lock the door!" Taehyung continues heatedly, trying to rid the still lingering feeling of embarrassment flooded inside him. "There's like, kids out there!"

 

The look Yoongi gives is one of shame and embarrassment, and just when he's about to reply, there's another knock on the bathroom door that has them both jump in surprise.

 

“Taehyungie, you in there?" Namjoon’s voice carries through forcing Taehyung to tense up, bristling as his face pales. Really, he thinks, Really!?

 

“Fuck!” he hisses in a whisper, turning to the door and fumbling for a quick response. “I’ll be right out!”

 

“Okay, just checking on you. Don't be too long.” his foster dad’s voice trails off before his footsteps fade away. Taehyung exhales in relief before noticing now the woman inside is now fully dressed and staring amusedly at him. Taehyung flushes from what feels like the tips of his toes to is hairline. He scuffs his foot against shiny linoleum floor and pulls at his cuffs.

 

“Um, so. Thanks um, for saying that... you know, my ex and—okay, yeah. Bye.” Not sticking around to hear a reply, he shuffles out the door and hightails it back to the table, nearly tripping along the way.

 

“You alright, Taetae?” Namjoon looks up, concern taking over at Taehyung’s clearly flushed and jittery demeanor. Taehyung’s eyes flicker through the restaurant as he fidgets in his seat, slouching and unintentionally ignoring Namjoon’s question while raising alarm as the four at the table stare in alarm to his bizarre behavior. “Tae?”

 

Snapping his eyes up, Taehyung stills in his seat. “Huh?”

 

Namjoon peers at him worriedly, lips thinning. It’s a look Taehyung knows all too well, but he’s saved from more prodding by the mere fact they’re in the present of Jimin’s parents. “I asked if you were okay.”

 

“Oh.” He blinks. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.”

 

“Okay…” It’s obvious he doesn’t believe him, but Taehyung takes this luck with every inch of gratitude he has, slumping further in relief when he goes back to talking to Jimin’s parents. Lifting his glass to clear his closed throat, Taehyung’s eyes scan the room before they catch a pair of brown ones looking straight at him. Yoongi’s leaving the restaurant, but the woman from before is nowhere to be seen. They make eye contact and Taehyung thinks he and the older man could give each other a run for their money over who can be the most visibly embarrassed.

 

Slumping further in his seat, Taehyung stares at the glass in his hands and for once in his life, can only wish it was filled with something stronger.