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say it back

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one. April 2013

Yoongi feels like there are burning, thorny rocks sitting directly on his lungs. His chest is working hard to provide oxygen to his bloodstream but all he feels is fire. He's sweaty enough to pass as lubricant and his limbs feel like they have been processed through a sausage factory.

"From the top," Sungdeuk says and collective groans can be heard throughout the practice room. From his position on the floor, limbs askew and possibly dead, Yoongi painstakingly turns his head to look at the nearest lump. It's Namjoon who's looking up at the ceiling with the strangest expression on his face.

"Hyung," he whispers to yoongi.

Yoongi's mouth moves. At least it opens but the thorny, fiery balls are digging deeper into his lungs and he can't produce sounds. He tries to wave a hand around to signal to Namjoon that he is indeed listening but moving costs more than talking. He settles on looking at Namjoon until the younger continues.

"Is this death?" Namjoon asks seriously.

From somewhere, Seokjin answers, "We've past death, Joon-ah. This is hell."

"Does this makes me Satan?" Sungdeuk asks with a little smile.

"No, he is," Seokjin says pointing to Hoseok who is currently sipping from a bottle of water. Yoongi looks at their main dancer who is dripping in sweat but who has a loose smile on his face and faintly wonders what it's like to be a God.

"Carry on without me," Taehyung says, a hitch in his satoori. It almost makes Yoongi smile.

"Come on, your first stage is only a few weeks away," Sungdeuk claps his hands and even Jimin groans as he rolls to his feet.

Yoongi tries. He really does. He focuses all of his energy on his legs and abs, tries his hardest to at least get into a sitting position, but the most he manages is bending his knees so that his feet are flat on the floor.

I'm going to die in this dance practice room , he thinks.

Just as he's thinking that it could be worse, someone crouches by his hip. He looks over to find the too big smile of Kim Taehyung.

Everything about Taehyung seems to be slightly too big for him. His smile, his ears, his nose, his eyes, his hands, his heart. Everything seems to have been designed to fit a bigger body and a bigger face. Somehow he manages to make it work. "He's overflowing with charms," is what all the noonas are saying, giddy and fond.

Yoongi doesn't really know what to make of the kid. He's never met anyone like him. He seems to be an accident of the universe. As if God intended to create a star but put it in the wrong oven and instead Kim Taehyung stumbled out; all cheer, love and teeth. Even the very fact of his presence here, in the practice room, in the band, was a random act of fate. Anyone else would probably be half assing it, enjoying the ride but not Taehyung. He was given an opportunity and he would do everything to make it work. That in itself wasn't that uncommon; people tend to want to prove themselves worthy. Where Taehyung diverges from the norm is that his reasons are (mostly) selfless. He's not doing this for him because to him this is (mostly) a fun adventure. He's enduring the sleepless nights, the broken limbs, the burning, thorny balls in his lungs for the team. For all of them.

Yoongi doesn't quite know what to do with that.

"Hyung," he says poking Yoongi's nose. Yoongi thinks about biting it off only for half a second. He glares at him instead. Taehyung doesn't seems to take it seriously because he grins down at him; a smile so big it eats half of his face. He extends a hand to Yoongi and wriggles his long fingers too close to Yoongi's face. "One more time," he says and even his voice seems to be too big for him.

"I don't think my legs could support my weight at this point," Yoongi says, relieved that his mouth is once again cooperating.

"Then let my love hold you," Taehyung says grabbing Yoongi's wrist. He says it so candidly, so sweetly, with just enough teasing in his tone for Yoongi to know that he knows it's bothering Yoongi.

"Your love?" Yoongi drawls.

Taehyung tugs him into a sitting position. "Yes. I love you," Taehyung says, eyes twinkling, enjoying himself far too much for Yoongi's liking.

"Right," Yoongi rolls his eyes, letting himself be manhandled to his feet. Taehyung drapes an arm around his waist and nudges his forehead to the side of Yoongi's head.

"Gross," Yoongi pulls away, suddenly remembering how sweaty they actually are. Taehyung laughs, warm and fond, pulling Yoongi closer despite his protests.

"You have to say it back," Taehyung says.


"You have to say it back. Practice can't resume until you tell me you love me, too," Taehyung says.

"Don't be ridiculous," Yoongi says trying to distance himself but Taehyung turns them around until they're facing the rest of the group.

"Tell him, guys!" He calls to the room at large. Yoongi’s inside shrivel in mortification. He scowls when he sees how much everyone else is enjoying this too.

"It's the rule, hyung," Hoseok says. The traitor.

"No practice otherwise," Seokjin adds.

"That's not an incentive, that's a perfectly good reason to shut up," Yoongi shoots back.

"You wouldn't want the team to fail, would you?" Jimin says with a smirk.

"Just say it back," Taehyung wraps both his arms around Yoongi. Yoongi does not lean into him, it's just the exhaustion making his limbs heavier.

"I hate all of you," he says to the rest of the room. Then he plasters the fakest smile on his face and turns to Taehyung. "I love you," he says through clenched teeth.

Taehyung looks like he was just given the most precious gift.

"Now was that so hard?" he asks and squeezes Yoongi closer.

"Yes. Now, I quit," he says and bats Taehyung's arms away before taking position behind Hoseok.

"You say that at least twice a day," Namjoon says with a shake of his head.

"Yeah, it sort of loses its impact after a while," Jungkook laughs.

"You would never," Taehyung says as he, once again, wraps his arms around Yoongi from behind, his smiling face squished against Yoongi's scowling one. "You loOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOove us," he singsongs.

"Yeah, yeah. Whatever," Yoongi pushes him away.

Still, he feels warm all the way down to his toes.

Still, he's able to dance for another hour without dropping dead.


two. March 2015

There’s a knock at the studio door. He looks at the clock and sees that it’s almost 3 A.M. Yoongi sighs and goes to unlock it, ready to tell Jimin that he’ll be home in a short while but, instead, he finds Taehyung standing on the other side. He’s holding a small bag in his hands and his face lights up when Yoongi appears at the door.

“Happy birthday, Hyung!” Taehyung all but shouts, brandishing the bag under Yoongi’s nose. He wearing a long black coat, a big tweed scarf, his mask is pulled under his chin and his cheeks are pink from the cold.

Yoongi freezes, not sure what to say. Taehyung is smiling so wide.

Yoongi still hasn’t learned how to deal with that.

“Taehyung-ah, my birthday was last week,” he reminds him  gently.

Taehyung’s smile turns impish. “I know but I finally found your birthday present so,” he shrugs, wriggling the bag under Yoongi’s nose again.

“So you decided to drop by the studio at 3 A.M,” Yoongi deadpans.

“I was out and I found it so I figured no time like the present, right?”

“You were wandering about alone again?” Yoongi scolds, crossing his arms.

Taehyung coos and tickles the underside of Yoongi’s chin. “Don’t worry about me, hyung.”

Yoongi doesn’t move and Taehyung’s doesn’t remove his hand. Instead, he pinches Yoongi’s chin between his thumb and his index finger. He moves Yoongi face from side to side, examining it.

“You should go to sleep, hyung,” he says softly. No reproach, no patronising, no sentimentality. Just Taehyung being Taehyung.

Yoongi’s chest feels like it’s buzzing.

“I will,” he promises. There’s still so much to be done, still so many hours ahead of him and yet, looking at Taehyung’s warm eyes, Yoongi can’t help but feel like it’s okay. It will all be okay. Yoongi will catch up. He’ll be alright.

“Come on,” Taehyung says patting Yoongi’s shoulder. “You’ll get your present once we’re at the dorms.” Yoongi purses his lips to hide a smile. He turns around to grab his phone, keys, wallet and coat before locking the studio. Taehyung watches him get ready to face the frigid cold, a patient and warm expression on his face.

“Why were you out so late, Taehyungie?” he asks as they fall into step together.

Taehyung shrugs, looks away. “Just felt like it,” he mumbles.

Taehyung isn’t one to talk about what bothers him and that’s fine with Yoongi; he’s not one to push people to talk. So, they walk in silence until they reach the company. Still, it’s not awkward and despite the temperature, Yoongi feels warm every time Taehyung’s arm brushes his. Once inside, Yoongi makes them both tea and Taehyung pours too much honey in their mugs. When they’re settled on opposite sides of the kitchen table, Taehyung pushes the bag towards Yoongi.

“Aish, this is embarrassing!” Yoongi laments. Taehyung leans against his bents arms on the table and smiles patiently at him. “Do I have to open it in front of you?”

Taehyung brings his hands together is supplication. “Please, hyung! I love watching people open presents.”

“Fine,” Yoongi says with a huff and a strange kind of nervousness tingling in his veins. He pulls the bag closer to him and peers inside. He pulls out a small, black leather bound notebook that has silver constellations embedded on the cover. Yoongi runs a hand over it, a tight ball of emotions lodged at the back of his throat.

“To write your lyrics in,” Taehyung says softly. Yoongi looks up, stares at him. He looks so young then, the kind of small that Taehyung only rarely seems to be.

Taehyung, to Yoongi, has always seemed larger than life.

Taehyung smiles, a small, fragile thing, full of shyness. “You’re always scrawling stuff on napkins, on bills or on your hands. I thought this would be more… practical,” he explains, voice hushed, like he’s afraid to break the moment by speaking too loudly.  “It has stars on it because your songs will make us stars,” he jokes and Yoongi blushes. Taehyung grins and clears his throat, moves past their embarrassment like only he could. “You want to help people with your music, right? Give them hope. Like the stars,” he finishes.

And Yoongi thinks, you’re hope, too . But he says, “You want to write a song with me?”

Taehyung’s eyes bug out of his face for a second before they soften. He leans forward again, grinning bright and comforting.

“I would love that,” he says, gushing.

“Okay,” Yoongi says with nod, his own face breaking into a happy smile.

“Happy birthday, hyung. I love you,” Taehyung says. Yoongi scrunches his nose and Taehyung waits for a long moment before saying. “Say it back.”

Yoongi opens the notebook and leafs through it. Taehyung sighs. “I love you, too,” Yoongi mumbles, still looking down.

Taehyung laughs.

They don’t get a lot of sleep that night.


three. June  2017

Taehyung misses home.

He doesn’t say anything to Yoongi or the rest of them, maybe not even to Jimin but Yoongi knows. He knows because Taehyung gets antsy when it’s been too long since he’s last seen his family. He knows because it’s been too long since any of them went home. There’s a hollow feeling in the center of Yoongi’s chest that he can’t quite forget no matter how busy they get.

For Taehyung it’s different, though. He wears his homesickness around his neck; Yoongi can see the way it curls his shoulders and makes him drag his feet. He doesn’t talk about it, doesn’t make the others feel like they’re not enough and still gives his everything on stage.

But when the lights dim and the cameras finally turn off, Taehyung gets quiet. And, as quietly as Taehyung hurts, Yoongi worries.

Then one day, after a long day of rehearsal for their fourth festa, Taehyung locks himself in his room without dinner. The both of them are the only ones back at the dorms; Seokjin took Jungkook out for a meal and Namjoon stayed back at the studio with Jimin and Hoseok for what looks to be a long night of recording.

The click of Taehyung’s door resounds loudly throughout their apartment and Yoongi feels a little helpless. At first, he thinks about leaving Taehyung alone; it’s what Yoongi himself would prefer in any case. He’s always dealt better with his demons alone but there’s a voice in the back of his head that tells him this isn’t what Taehyung needs tonight.

Yoongi knows Taehyung better, now, understands him better, too. Most days, he still feels out of his depth when it comes to him. Unfathomable, that’s what Taehyung is. A sum of incredible infinites. A multitude of lovely variables, like any other human being and yet not quite the same. Not quite like anyone else. Taehyung seems to be on a wavelength that is very much his own, and that, somehow, seems to be connected in various ways to the Universe itself.

Yoongi, whose views and roots are very much anchored to the muddy truth of the world, sometimes struggles to reach high enough to get to Taehyung. Sometimes, Yoongi feels like while he was crawling out of the soiled ground , covered in dirt and bruises, Taehyung fluttered down from the heart of a star. But only sometimes and not as much as in the past.

Fallen stars hurt, too and Yoongi understands hurt. Taehyung may be quieter these days, more contained, but Yoongi feels like he understands his silences, can hear them echo in his own quiet moments.

So that night, he orders food for the both of them (and a little extra in case the other five get hungry when they come back) and once it arrives, he heads for Taehyung and Namjoon’s room.

“Come in,” Taehyung’s muted words barely make it through the door when Yoongi knocks.

Taehyung is sitting up against the headboard on Namjoon’s bed. He’s wearing one of his silk pajamas, the blue ones with white stripes. He’s fresh out of the shower, his skin still a little red and peachy. His honey hair is sticking every which way, making him look a bit like a lion.

At the thought, Yoongi’s heart squeezes in his chest. He stops after taking a couple of steps into the room just to look at his friend, suddenly feeling unsteady.

There are times when Taehyung will call his name and when Yoongi looks at him, he’s surprised to see how much Taehyung has changed over the years. He grew into his features, every part of him that felt just slightly too big - his nose, his eyes, his ears and smile - all those things that used to be endearing are now just right. Perfectly so. Almost unbearably so.

Yoongi often feels as though he’s running after time, like there is never enough of it and he’s going to run out of it before he gets to do everything he wants to do. Seeing the rest of the members grow, change, branch out, brave the world, is always a bittersweet reminder that they’re all victims to the passage of time.

There’s a constant ache, something like a burning amber, just at the core of him that yearns for Taehyung’s too big ears.

Watching him tonight, it almost feels like Yoongi is getting the young Taehyung back. He looks so vulnerable and small, sitting in the middle of a Ryan plushie mountain, hugging one of them close to his chest, his glasses perched on the end of his nose.

Too much time has gone by between the moment Yoongi entered the room and now but Taehyung doesn’t seem bothered by Yoongi’s staring. He just tilts his head and looks at him patiently.

Yoongi eventually manages to find words but his throat feels strangely tight when he says, “I bought food.” He doesn’t try to pass off his gesture as anything it’s not. He wants Taehyung to know he’s seen; that he’s not alone.

That he’s loved.

Taehyung’s smile is a little crisp and short lived, tired but it’s a Taehyung smile so it’s warm and tinted in gratitude. He crawls out of bed, bringing down several of the Ryans with him. He quickly gathers them up and puts them back on the bed, patting each of their heads in apology. It makes Yoongi smile.Taehyung then grabs several decorative cushions from his own bed and he places them on the floor, a few feet away from the end of the beds. He lets himself falls on one of them and looks expectantly up at Yoongi. He’s struck with how pretty Taehyung’s eyes are. He quickly discards the thought as he sits next to him.

It’s a quiet affair at first. Yoongi busies himself with splitting their food while Taehyung selects and opens their drinks. The windows are open and the noise of the busy Seoul streets filter in. It’s soothing somehow, familiar. They share their food, Taehyung taking a particular pleasure in feeding Yoongi juicy parcels of meat.

“I wrote a song last night,” Yoongi says after the silence has gone on for too long. There’s shyness coating his voice, a sort of nervous flutter in the stutter of his words. He doesn’t know why but looking at Taehyung in the eyes right now is taking everything in him.

Taehyung stares at him with big eyes, his pouty lips slowly turning up at the corners. He swallows before giving Yoongi a warm smile.

“Yeah? What’s it about?”

“It’s about us,” Yoongi says and curls his fingers tightly around his chopsticks. Taehyung is looking at him with a steady, awestruck gaze. “About our journey as a band, all the things we’ve sacrificed and all the things we’ve accomplished and all the hardships still ahead,” he explains.

“That must have been hard,” Taehyung says, voice a little shaky, eyes suddenly misty. Yoongi looks away, allows him a moment to gather himself. He scoots just a little closer, just enough for their knees to touch. “What is it called?”

“Sea,” Yoongi answers.

“Can I listen?” Taehyung asks, voice small and food forgotten. In answer, Yoongi pulls out his phone and looks for the small sample he downloaded just this morning.

“It’s really rough and Namjoon hasn’t looked over it yet but, yeah, here it is,” Yoongi rambles a little nervously before pressing play. The piano chords are striking in the sudden silence but Yoongi’s voice is even more so. He balances the phone on Taehyung’s knee and goes back to his food, not really liking the way his own cheeks redden when Taehyung leans back on his hands and looks up at the ceiling, exposing the long, graceful column of his neck in the process.

When the extract ends, Yoongi wants to ask Taehyung what he thought of it but before he can, Taehyung presses play once again and this time he grabs Yoongi’s hand and laces their fingers together.

Yoongi inhales, quick and sharp and stares at Taehyung whose cheeks are wet and salty. A bit like the sea. As the song plays for a second time, Yoongi grabs one of the paper towels and wipes Taehyung’s tears away.

When the sample ends again, Yoongi takes back his phone and puts it away. “I didn’t mean to make you cry,” he says, feeling suddenly like 2013 Yoongi facing 2013 Taehyung again. Out of his depth.

“No, no,” Taehyung sniffs and chuckles. It’s a sad, little sound that makes Yoongi’s inside churn. “It’s not you. I’ve been feeling… blah all week,” Taehyung says shaking his head.

“I’m sorry, Tae-yah,” Yoongi says quietly, letting his free hand fall back on his lap.

“It’s okay, hyung. I’m just a little homesick,” he says slipping back into his Daegu satoori.

“I miss home, too,” Yoongi answers following his lead.

Taehyung looks at him for a long moment before nodding. “This is home, too,” Taehyung says softly, squeezing Yoongi’s hand. At the words, Yoongi’s chest floods with warmth. “Your song, hyung. It’s amazing. Your flow, your words, everything, ugh, you’re just so...You’re my favourite, did you know that?”

Yoongi grins, letting the words carve themselves into his ribs, seep into his blood and lodge themselves in his heart; a beautiful reminder that his art matters.He nods and brings their joined hand to rest on his knee.

“I’m hoping it could be a hidden track in the upcoming album,” he says.

Taehyung’s smile comes a lot easier this time. “Our fans are going to go nuts for it, I can already hear them screaming at you. Lovingly, of course,” he says, his smile turning impish.

“Of course,” Yoongi’s shoulders shake with his laughter. After a pause, Yoongi asks, “You’re good?”

Taehyung’s eyes veil with sadness again but he still offers Yoongi a smile. “I will do my best,” Taehyung replies which is not really an answer but Yoongi understands nonetheless.

“You always do, Taehyung-ah,” he tells him.

Taehyung’s eyes swim with tears again. “Yeah?” he asks and something breaks inside Yoongi at the way his voice cracks. He reaches over and ruffles his hair.

“Yes,” Yoongi says firmly, looking at him directly. Taehyung’s shoulders sag in relief and his chest heaves as if holding back a sob. He nods and blinks away his tears.

“Thank you, hyung,” Taehyung says. Another pause. “I love you.”

Yoongi pats his head. “I love you, too.”

Taehyung lets his head rest on his shoulders and he asks Yoongi to tell him stories of home so Yoongi does. He gives him updates on his parents and his brother, he tells him about his favourite places, about his school and about all the things he misses.

“Hyung will take you, one day,” Yoongi says voice hesitant. “If you want,” he adds and Taehyung tilts his head to grin at him.


Yoongi’s heart feels like a wild beast watching the light reflect in Taehyung’s eyes and his tongue coats with a thousand of words, none of which he feels like he can share. So he just nods.

Taehyung makes a happy sound that shoots through Yoongi like an electric shock.

Taehyung falls asleep not long after, his head on Yoongi’s shoulder and his hand encased in Yoongi’s.

Yoongi feels a brand new kind of out of his depth.


four. October 2018

Yoongi is the last one to get off the stage.

The others have run off a few minutes ago in a cacophony of elated shouts but Yoongi can’t bring himself to leave the stage yet. His ears are still ringing with literally thousands upon thousands of people screaming their lyrics. His lyrics. The world never felt like it made less sense before. His knees and his hands shake with the reality of it. Or maybe it’s the happiness.

The sheer, incomprehensible, beautiful and unbelievable happiness of it all.

He should get back to his people. They’re probably all waiting for him to take the usual post concert pictures and to share the moment with him but he can’t move. He feels like if he takes a step, he’ll wake up from the most amazing dream he’s ever had.

If this is a dream, he never wants to wake up from it.

He starts to laugh, caught off guard by the bottomless ocean of feelings currently washing over his chest. Maybe that’s why there are tears in his eyes as well. Later, he’ll cry about it with Namjoon, shoulder to shoulder, Namjoon’s deep voice resonating with wonder. Later still, the both of them will join the others in Seokjin’s rom because somehow they always all end up there. Jungkook will be sitting  on Seokjin’s lap while Hoseok plays with his Hair. Jimin and Taehyung will be curled around each other, their laughter echoing in the room in perfect harmony. They’ll all shout when Yoongi and Namjoon will enter the room and Jimin will pull out the champagne.

And much later, they’ll fall asleep in their own beds because they’re way too tired and too old to sleep together on the floor but they will still smell of each other.

But right now, Yoongi just needs a moment. Just one fraction of a minute to collect himself and to live in this moment. The day they performed in front of a sold out Citi Field.


Yoongi twirls around to find Taehyung standing a few feet away, smiling unsurely. Yoongi quickly swipes at his eyes, still chuckling.

“Taehyungie,” Yoongi sighs, the sight of him feeling like champagne bubbles in his veins. Or maybe like the burn of a good whiskey in his chest.

Yoongi is still not used to feeling this way when Taehyung looks at him these days but he can admit that he likes the feeling of it.

Taehyung takes a few steps, his long jean clad legs bringing him closer to Yoongi in barely any time. He’s still sweaty from the concert, his face still glowing with happiness. The same kind that is currently rushing through Yoongi.

“You’re okay?” Taehyung asks, shoving his hands in his pockets and looking at Yoongi with an unsettling softness. His red bandana is still tied strangely over his forehead, making him look like a 21st century pirate. The most gentle and sweetest pirate of the seven seas.

Yoongi shakes his head and tries to clear his thoughts but Taehyung is looking at him, his gaze steady, comforting, familiar and yet so exhilarating, Yoongi loses his train of thoughts before he can even embark on it.

Some days, it’s hard being loved by Taehyung. Not because he makes it hard but rather because he makes it so easy to love him back. To love him a lot and in various ways. Because being on the receiving end of Taehyung’s care often feels like a gift too precious to even touch. Because, now, Taehyung makes Yoongi feel like they were born on neighbouring stars and Yoongi doesn’t know how to deal with that yet.

Yoongi feels himself sway closer, feels his heart quake, feels his fingers itch to hold.

“Taehyung-ah,” Yoongi repeats and reaches over to put a hand on Taehyung’s shoulder. “I’ve never felt this good,” he says with a face splitting smile. Taehyung’s face softens, the worry melting off of it and leaving place for a breathtaking smile.

“Ah, hyung,” he says and suddenly wraps his arms around him. Yoongi’s surprised oof his muffled by Taehyung’s chest. He stands frozen in his embrace for half a second before he wraps his arms around his waist. Taehyung is still a little damp from the concert, he smells like sweat and a bit like Hoseok’s body wash. His arms are locked securely around Yoongi and his nose buried in Yoongi’s hair.

Yoongi feels safe. So safe that everything inside him quiets down. He stops shaking.

“I’m glad you’re happy, hyung,” Taehyung whispers like a secret, like it’s the most important thing he’ll ever say. “I love you,” he tacks on because he always does. Because it’s Taehyung and he, too, has gotten better at reading Yoongi.

Yoongi pulls back and looks at him, gorges on the sight of him, on the miracle that is this very moment. Taehyung must see something on his face because he frowns slightly, a confused smile spreading across his face. “Won’t you say it back, hyung?”

Yoongi wants to but instead he cups the back of Taehyung’s neck, gets on his tiptoes and brings their mouths together. He presses their lips together softly, gently brushes his lips over Taehyung’s in a sealed promise. Taehyung’s lips glide against his tentatively, soft and warm and tasting a bit like pomegranate.  

Yoongi doesn’t allow himself to get lost in it, no matter how much he wants it. No matter how much pulling away will break him.

Because the memory of it will hurt enough without letting it last.

He steps back in one go. One second they’re pressed together and the next, there’s too much space between them. Yoongi feels colder than he’s ever felt in his life.

“Dont. Don’t say anything, please,” he asks, demands really. He opens his eyes and finds Taehyung looking at him like he’s been struck. “Sorry, Tae. I’m so sorry. I promise this will never happen again,” He takes a deep breath and tries to look like his chest is not caving in. Taehyung’s eyes are swimming with unshed tears. “Sorry, love. I just wanted the happiness to feel real, to stick,” he tries to explain.

“Hyung,” Taehyung tries to reach for his hand but Yoongi feels too raw, too guilty. He evades the touch, takes another step back, looks at Taehyung and silently begs. Taehyung searches his face for a long moment. His big eyes are grey tonight and they seem to be looking at a stranger for the first time in years.

Eventually he nods. “Okay,” is all he says. Yoongi nods, pretends the strange, twisty feeling in his chest is relief and not disappointment. He goes to leave, tries to side step Taehyung but long fingers suddenly wrap around his wrist. “You have to say it back,” Taehyung says voice tight.

Yoongi looks up sharply, his breath leaving him in a rush. Taehyung looks back, unwavering. “Please, hyung. Say it back,” he pleads, his voice broken.

Yoongi swallows harshly. “I love you, Taehyung.”

He doesn’t think he’s ever meant it quite like this. Not quite this much.

Taehyung frees him and doesn’t watch Yoongi leave.

Yoongi tells himself it’s for the best but he was never really good at lying to himself.


five. February 2019

The grammys. The fucking grammys. They’re invited to the grammys. They’re going to present an award at the grammys . In three days they’re all taking a plane to attend one of the most prestigious award ceremonies in the world.

Yoongi could pinch himself a thousands times and he’d still not believe it.

He slumps on his bed and looks around his room. His much bigger room with all the pictures hanging on the walls, the awards on his desk and all their albums on his shelves. His eyes roam around the room as he tries to understand everything that’s happened in the last six years.

Yoongi feels so small, like a single grain of sand in a universe of marvels.

His eyes fall on the picture on his nightstand and he reaches for it, his chest tight, emotion pushing against his ribs, trying to swallow him whole. It’s a picture from one of their first fansigns, back when fansigns could be held outside and when they wore more khol than their lids could handle. The seven of them look so young, Yoongi almost doesn’t recognize them, feels a thousand of lightyears away from them and yet somehow it feels like nothing has changed.

He still feels like the Yoongi from this picture; too young, too small for the world and yet wanting to eat it raw, the craving in his veins almost too much for him to bear. He looks at each of their faces, feels a fierce protectiveness for all of them, wanting so much to reach them and reassure them, tell them all the wonderful stories waiting for them.

He wants to promise them that the most beautiful one they’ll write is the one that talks about them, about their friendship, about their home.

He passes his thumb over Taehyung’s face, over his big ears, his toothy smile and the curls in his hair. His heart bleeds a little for that kid and for everything that’s coming his way. It bleeds for all the way he’s learned to love him.

He sighs and leans over to put it back its place, not wanting to dwell any further on all the ways he misses Taehyung but his fingers curl around the edges of the frame and they dislodge a paper that flutters to the ground. Yoongi puts the picture back in its place and leans down to pick up the folded sheet of paper. He opens it and his heart thumps loudly against his ribcage when he recognizes Taehyung’s writing.

Yoongi hyung,

I miss you. I hope that’s okay to say. I know things have been a bit weird between us for the last few months but I think not so weird that I can’t write to you, that I can’t tell you I miss you.

It’s weird because I see you every day, i laugh with you, you hold my hand, you help me breathe easier and yet. I miss you. It’s the strangest thing, really.

I came into your room tonight because I wanted to talk to you, just be with you. I borrowed a book from Hoseok hyung and I wanted you to read it with me. I love reading books with you, you have such an interesting view of the world, it amazes me. I know people think of you in a certain way, have put you in a box that doesn’t fit you at all. They think you’re dark like the coffees you love drinking so much but the people who know you, who love you don’t see you that way.

I don’t see you that way.

Your brand of optimism is strange for sure, it is drenched in realism and you refuse to allow yourself the luxury of sitting back and just living in the moment, but it’s still optimism. It’s still brilliant. You’re brilliant.

I think about that kiss every day. I hope that’s okay to say as well. Some days I feel like it was a dream but then I see your mouth and I can still feel it pressed to mine. I spend too much time thinking about your mouth these days, if I’m being honest. People praise you for the way words fall off of it but they don’t know. They don’t know how soft it is, how wonderful you taste.

You taste like warm honey, hyung.

I think about kissing you, too. Sometimes, I catch you staring at me and I think you’re thinking about it, too. Some days, I wish really hard that you would. But I know. I understand. It’s okay.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I just came into your room but you weren’t there. I know you’re working and I know there is always something to do but I was hoping I could find you. I was hoping that avoiding me would be a little bit harder for you today. I know it was foolish of me, I know that you’re not avoiding me and even if you did, you’d probably be valid in doing so.

Because I know. I understand. I understand you.

Isn’t that the greatest thing ever? You want to hear (read) a secret? I kind of love the fact that our relationship didn’t come easy for either of them. I love that we had to learn each other, I love that I had to work at it, that I managed, despite all our differences, to carve a place in your heart.

You’re in mine too. I hope you know that. I hope one day the thought of it doesn’t seem so scary for either of us. I hope one day we can be brave enough to live with that truth.

Because I miss you. Because I love you. And I miss hearing you say it back.

I like hearing you say I love you.

Take care, hyung.

Love, Taehyung.

P.S: I also really like it when you wear really big sweaters. It makes me want to wrap myself around you.

Yoongi reaches the end of the letter and immediately goes back to the beginning to read it again. And then he reads it one more time. And then again.

His heart is in his throat and he feels like screaming a little. A lot. Not out of anger or frustration, although those feelings are there, but rather because he doesn’t know what else to do against the onslaught of emotions coursing through him.

He is red and blue with love. He is a sea of purple. No longer a grain of salt in the universe but a nebula.

Nebulas aren’t scared, are they?

He lays back on his bed and reads the letter again and again until sleep takes him under.

The next morning, when he wakes up, it feels like he’s already late and the sun hasn’t even come up, yet. There are meetings and interviews to prepare for their trip to America and rehearsals and recordings because their comeback is only a few weeks away. There’s never enough time but today in particular, Yoongi feels like the universe is conspiring to keep him from doing something silly.

Something like going to Taehyung and telling him the taste of him keeps Yoongi awake at night and he’s not sure he wants to sleep if it means losing that.

He’s not sure he’s ready to be that brave. He’s not sure he has what it takes to take that step. Yoongi’s used to change, the last six years of his life have been a lesson in change but this feels too big; almost like he’d be pulling the moon down from its orbit.

No matter how pretty the moon is, no matter how much he loves it, he knows he shouldn’t try to keep it for himself.

The day passes in a blur of go, go, go, like it always does. Yoongi’s chest feels a bit too tight but he tells himself it’s the excitement, the exhaustion, that it has nothing to do with the way Taehyung kept checking on him all day long. How his big brown eyes looked at Yoongi like he was a wonder.

They all have dinner together in the dance practice room. Yoongi thinks that out of all the bangtans he loves, post dance practice bangtan is his favourites. They’re all loose, wearing the most ridiculously comfortable outfits, their laughter ringing loudly despite their sore muscles. There is a familiarity and sanctity to this bangtan, something untouchable, that is just them.

Yoongi loves it because it’s during those times that he feels young, almost normal. He feels like he’s finally caught up with time and, although it’s just an illusion, like he can breathe deeper for a while.

He sits by Hoseok and they laugh as they watch Seokjin and Namjoon engage in a rap battle. Jimin is sitting on the floor, his camera not missing a moment despite Jimin’s body quaking with maughter. Jungkook is jumping around Namjoon and Seokjin, clapping his hands like the over-excited child he still is (he will always be) and egging them on. Taehyung is sitting against the back wall, smiling quietly at all of them, content.

Yoongi’s heart blooms. He leans his head back and watches Taehyung for a while before closing his eyes and letting the sound of his friends’ laughter lull him into shallow sleep.

“Hyung,” someone is saying and shaking his shoulder. “Yoongi hyung,” the person says, pressing the back of their fingers to his neck. Yoongi recognizes the touch before he recognizes the voice.

He shivers and opens his eyes. He lets his head falls on the hand on his neck, caging Taehyung’s fingers just under his jaw. In the dim lights of the studio, Taehyung looks like softened caramel, like his lips could stick to Yoongi if he leaned up for a kiss.

He’s wanted anything quite like this in his entire life.

“The others already headed home,” Taehyung tells him softly. Yoongi grumbles and curls further into Taehyung’s touch. Taehyung smiles fondly at him and sits more comfortably on the floor, his arm still awkwardly extended towards Yoongi. “We should follow their lead,” Taehyung carries on but it doesn’t sound like he really wants to go.

Yoongi doesn’t either.

They look at each other for a while and Yoongi thinks, I’m a nebula.

“I like it, too,” he says, tilting his head until Taehyung’s hand is free. Taehyung tries to pull away but Yoongi quickly grabs his hand and laces their fingers together.

Taehyung squeezes his hand and smiles. “What?”

“I like hearing you say I love you,” Yoongi clarifies and Taehyung’s jaw goes lax for a moment before he collects himself. He blushes and clears his throat, looking down at their joined hands. “Some days, it’s the only thing that keeps me going,” he adds and Taehyung’s eyes snap back to his.

“I know,” he says licking his lips.

“You do?”

“Yeah, because I feel that way, too. I understand,” Taehyung answers.

“I think about kissing you, too, Tae-yah. All the time,” he confesses voice steadier than he thought he could manage.

Taehyung’s brows come together and Yoongi reaches over to thumb over them, smoothes a thumb over his left eyebrow. Taehyung’s blush spreads down to his neck.

Yoongi’s heart is a bird.

“You found my letter,” Taehyung states.

Yoongi nods. “Last night.”

Taehyung looks away, a shamed twist to his lips. “I’m sorry, hyung. I shouldn’t have left it behind. I didn’t mean to burden you with all of this. I know there is already so much on your mind, weighing on your shoulders,” he looks at Yoongi, a strange kind of sadness in his eyes. “I know what’s at stake. I know but the words were keeping me up at night, echoing inside of me, not letting me focus on anything else. You are always on my mind so I thought if I wrote them down, if I hid them somewhere in your room, I’d give myself a bit of a reprise,” he chuckles self deprecatingly.

“Did it work?” Yoongi asks, feeling incredibly protective and endeared.

Taehyung’s smile is resigned. “Not really.”

Yoongi tugs a bit on his hand, enough that Taehyung leans forward. Yoongi brings his free hand to his cheek and thumbs at his bottom lip. Taehyung inhales sharply. His eyes bore into Yoongi’s, glinting with fiery hope.

Yoongi is not a nebula. Yoongi is the fucking Milky Way.

“I’m so fucking glad you wrote that letter and I’m really relieved that I found it,” Yoongi sighs. Taehyung closes his eyes and leans into his touch. Yoongi misses the stars in his eyes. “Hey,” he calls. Taehyung’s eyes flutter open and he looks a bit touch drunk. “I know I was an ass about it the last time, I didn’t even ask you, but I really want to kiss you.”

Taehyung is nodding before Yoongi finishes his sentence. He leans forward, fisting his hands in Yoongi’s knitted sweater to bring him closer. “Please,” he whispers eagerly.

Yoongi’s smile feels like it started somewhere at the core of him, that part of himself that creates music. His face hurts with the force of it but he doesn’t care, he tilts his head, brings Taehyung closer, closer, closer until their lips stick to each other. Taehyung sighs against his lips, his sweet mouth closing over Yoongi’s over and over again in a series of excited little pecks that swiftly turn into biting kisses. Yoongi opens up for him and when Taehyung licks into his mouth, tightens his hold on his sweater, makes a tiny hungry sound in the back of his throat, Yoongi thinks he’ll die a thousand times before he tires of this.

Their kisses slow down after a while. They learn each other’s rhythms and coax each other into uncharted territories, laughing unabashedly along the way. Yoongi’s head is swimming and his ears feel like they’re filled with cotton. His mouth is tingly and puffy and when he licks his lips he can taste Taehyung on them.

He shivers at the thought.

When Yoongi finally pulls away completely, he says, “I love you.” Taehyung beams at him, all warm and so full of love, so very Taehyung that Yoongi aches a little with it. “You have to say it back, Taehyungie,” he nudges him.

Taehyung laughs and rakes his hand through Yoongi’s hair.

“I love you, too, Yoongi.”