Jimin hikes up his backpack and hurriedly buries his gloved hands back in the pocket of his padded jacket. The fur lining the hood is hindering his peripheral view and the shinee song blasting through his earphones is shutting out the rest of the world. It's nice. His mother is always talking his ears off about how dangerous it is to be walking around like this but Jimin enjoys the peace and quiet too much to stop. He likes the thirty minutes walk to school where there's no one but him, the music and his inner monologues. Just Jimin; not having to worry about grades or being friendly and charming. Not Park Jimin the Student Council president and student voted most likely to win a presidential election. Just Jimin, the seventeen year old boy who loves dancing and reading and whose heart skips a beat at the thought of seeing Kim Taehyung at some point during the week day.
Jimin misses the next line of the song, heart suddenly gone haywire at the thought of Taehyung.
Taehyung is a transfer student from Daegu. He moved to Busan just as the last term was ending and Jimin was chosen to show him around the school. Jimin thinks he'll never quite forget the first time Taehyung smiled at him, a big toothy grin that made his eyes disappear and his slightly too big nose scrunch. Something scary and delightful zipped up and down Jimin's spine as he watched the other boy's face stretch and crinkle.
It's been over six months now and Jimin still feels like he's being sucker punched every time Taehyung smiles at him.
They're not friends. Not really. They're not in the same class and they don't have the same friends. Jimin is, as embarrassing as it is to think about, one of the popular kids. Well not embarrassing per se, after all he gets a definite kick out of it (even if he would never admit to it) and his status is direct consequence of... well, being himself. He's the president of several clubs, he is top of all his classes, and somehow he has made a lot of friends. He's not complaining, not at all, it's just a little weird. Sometimes he feels like a fraud, like no one actually sees him, knows him. Sometimes, he feels like he's the punch line to an intricate joke and any day now someone is going to pull the curtain down and he'll realise it was all a prank.
It's really hard reconciling Park Jimin, Top Student who girls are gushing over, with Jimin, the quiet book nerd who has a notebook filled with science facts and who likes boys.
Well just one boy. A boy whose uniform never sits quite right on his frame but somehow manages to make it look effortlessly hot. A boy whose flat hair always falls into his eyes and whose big ears turn bright red when he's embarrassed. A boy whose big doe eyes seem to be the gentlest in the world. A boy whose pink lips look like they came out of a candy shop. A boy who likes wearing weird hats and large clothes and has an impressive collection of bags. A boy who sometimes wears skirts or nail polish or both and doesn't seem bothered by the looks he gets. A loud boy with high spirits and a free heart. A boy who loves manga and art and photography and poetry. A boy who likes to spray paint his own clothes and befriended the librarian, an old lady with an earring impairment who hates teenagers. A boy so charming and sweet it feels like he escaped a fairy tale. A whimsical boy who wears big round glasses and has a dainty mole at the tip of his nose.
Jimin's first real crush; Kim Taehyung who sometimes catches Jimin's eyes in the hallways and smiles at him, brilliant and breath-taking. A boy who -
Jimin's musings are rudely interrupted when someone bumps into him. He whirls around, ready to give them a piece of his mind but the words die on his tongue as he finds himself face to face with the subject of his thoughts. Taehyung grins sheepishly at him, bowing in apology, the whole process made difficult by the skateboard held under his arm.
"Jimin, I'm so sorry, I tried to slow down but I nearly slipped on the ice patch over there and my board is rather heavy," he's gesturing wildly, his face the picture of guilt.
Jimin wants to say words but it feels like his tongue weighs a ton.
"Anyways I saw you cross the street and I just wanted to say hi," Taehyung carries on, completely unaware of the turmoil his presence sent Jimin into. "I called your name several times but I guess you didn't hear, huh?" he finishes with a smile gesturing towards Jimin's dangling earphones. Jimin looks down at them for a long time, his face frozen with an itchy kind of embarrassment.
The silence goes on for too long. Taehyung's smile starts to dim and he shifts his skateboard from one arm to the other. It's a rather large board decorated with stickers and drawings that Taehyung has probably done himself. There are several purple hearts on it and Jimin wants so badly to ask why purple and why so many but he can't. It seems like the part of his brain that is made to form thoughts and words shut down the moment he saw Taehyung.
The thing is: they're not friends. They don't talk. All the little things Jimin knows about Taehyung he's collected from afar. After showing him around that first day, Taehyung sort of withdrew into his own little world, made his own friends and carved his own place in the school.
Jimin never really got the chance to learn how to deal with Taehyung's effect on him.
"You remember me, right? I'm Kim Taehyung, we go to the same school," Taehyung says, looking at Jimin with big eyes. And Jimin almost bursts out laughing at that because Taehyung has been in the background or at the center of so many of Jimin's thoughts, tinting them a soft peach, carving a bit more deeply into Jimin with every new smile. It seems ridiculous that Taehyung thinks Jimin forgot him when he is Jimin's favourite…. Everything.
Jimin nods and clears his throat. "Y-yeah," he says eloquently but that seems to be enough because Taehyung offers him another disarming smile. Jimin can't help but smile back.
"Are you going to your dance class? You do ballet, right?" He asks enthusiastically. Jimin feels like tiny kittens are rolling inside his heart.
"H-how do you know?"
"What?" Taehyung asks, still smiling.
"How do you know I dance?"
Taehyung looks at him like he's growing a second head. "Doesn't the whole school know? Aren't you like the biggest dancing star of Busan or something?"
Jimin's heart was not made to take in so much. He blushes so hard, his skin prickles. "M'not a star," he mumbles like an idiot.
Taehyung pushes at his shoulders. "You totally are. I saw you on stage during the christmas recital, you were amazing."
Jimin inhales sharply, his eyes widening. He plays with the straps of his backpack. "You came?"
"Yes, of course," Taehyung shrugs. "It was fun," he adds, his luminous eyes turning the grey monotonous day into a carnival.
"I messed up a couple of times," Jimin mourns and Taehyung shakes his head.
"I promise you, even if you did, nobody noticed," he says, putting a hand on Jimin's arms and squeezing once. He withdraws his hand and Jimin watches it go like a wife watching her husband leave for a war on a navy ship.
"Thank you," Jimin says, voice small but smile big.
Taehyung nods once like they've just signed a deal. "I gotta run. Mum sent me to buy new batteries for the remote control," he says bending down to put his board back on the ground.
"Oh, yeah. Sure. Of course," Jimin stutters, trying really hard not to let his disappointment show.
"I'll see you Monday?" Taehyung offers with a wave of his hand. He's not wearing gloves and three of his long fingers are adorned with thin silver rings. He waves them cutely at Jimin and Jimin chuckles.
"See you," he waves back and Taehyung rolls away. Halfway down the street he turns around to pull a face at Jimin who is still watching him. Jimin looks away, his heart beating a frenzied tempo.
Jimin's drink is still halfway to his mouth when Hoseok speaks up.
"Huh, why is that guy familiar?" he asks while Jimin's insides dissolve.
"Which guy?" Namjoon asks.
"That gu-," Hoseok starts pointing but Jimin slams his hand down on the table. Jungkook, Namjoon and Hoseok all look at him with varying degrees of incredulity. Then, as if they rehearsed it beforehand, the three of them turn to look across the bar where... where, yup that's indeed Kim Taehyung laughing with Yoongi, the barman.
"Who is that, Jimin-ssi ?" Jungkook teases, eyes still glued to the pair.
"That a pretty colour," Namjoon says and Jimin can only assume he's talking about the pale pink of Taehyung's hair.
"Why is he so fami-," Hoseok starts again before cutting himself off and suddenly looking at Jimin with gleeful eyes. "Ooooooh!" He says and his whole face radiates snitch vibes.
"Shut up, hyung," Jimin says through clenched teeth while simultaneously trying to become one with the floor.
"What?" Jungkook turns back to them, eyes flying between the two dancers. "What's going on? Why has Jimin's neck suddenly disappeared?"
Jimin flushes and straightens up.
"No reason," Jimin says at the same time as Hoseok almost yells "That's Jimin's highschool sweetheart!"
Jungkook makes a choked sound that still manages to sound like that's the best news he's ever heard. Jimin glares at Hoseok but his best friend doesn't seem phased at all. In fact he looks rather proud of himself. Jimin gulps the last of his drinks.
“Jimin was really popular back in the day and he only had eyes for the sweet weeb boy who worked at the local pet store,” Hoseok explains to the others. Jimin glares at him some more. “It was adorable,” he says pinching Jimin’s cheeks. Jimin bats his hands away.
"He was not my highschool sweetheart," he finally spits through clenched teeth. His head aches with the enormous effort of not turning his head and staring at Taehyung.
"Only because you never made a move," Hoseok says. Jimin wants to wrap his fingers around his neck and squeeze just a little.
"He wasn't interested in me. It was never like that," Jimin waves away Hoseok's words, as if they didn't cost him. As if he hasn’t spent most of high school following Taehyung with his eyes, his heart in his throat and wondering what it would feel like to press the softest of kisses on the pink bow of his mouth. As if it's something he never dwells on anymore. As if the sight of Taehyung hasn't brought back all these feeling bubbling up to the surface, like shaken up champagne. Like he doesn't feel a bit hazy just at the thought of their gazes meeting.
"How could you know that?" Namjoon asks in that kind way he has of fucking up your entire life.
Jimin shrugs. "I don't know. He was one of the few out kids in school. He dated and stuff. If he was interested in me, wouldn't he have tried something?"
Namjoon hums. "Hm. I'm not sure. Just because you date doesn't mean you date everyone you want to," he says and Jimin hates this conversation so much he's contemplating smashing his head against the table until he passes out.
“Or maybe he wasn’t interested at all and also, if this conversation is going to carry on, please let me know so I can order more alcohol and drown in it,” he snips.
"Where's Kookie?" Hoseok says and Jimin's eyes fly across the bar because he knows. He just knows. And he's right, Jungkook is making his way to Yoongi and Taehyung's side of the bar.
"Oh no no no no," Jimin mutters. He looks down at his glass and seriously contemplates flicking it across the room and hitting Jungkook with it.
Namjoon lays his hand over the glass. Jimin's eyes fly up to his. "Don't," Namjoon says and Jimin curses. He looks back to Jungkook and watches anxiously as he strikes up a conversation with Yoongi. Taehyung watches them with a smile and Jimin's heart feels like it's going to explode.
He's so pretty, is the thing. He's always been strangely beautiful but twenty three years old Taehyung is a kind of beautiful that stars whisper about.
He's wearing a pale pink blazer that matches his hair and a silky flowery blouse that makes him look like a modern day prince charming. His face is a little sharper, his jawline more defined and his nose almost elfin like. His eyes are just as big and beautiful as they used to be but Jimin is pretty sure he's wearing pink eyeshadow. Probably no mascara, he's never needed it.
"I think we lost Jiminie," Namjoon teases softly, pulling Jimin out of his thoughts.
"I'm fine," he grouches and tries to take another sip of his glass but realises too late that it's empty.
"Sure," Hoseok laughs.
Jimin whines. "Can we please go home before Jungkook does something that will send me to jail?"
"How would Jungkook's actions send you to jail?" Namjoon asks.
"I will murder him," Jimin says, voice thin, making both of his hyungs laugh uproariously. Jimin is afraid to look over at the other trio, pretty sure that by now Taehyung has seen him. If Jungkook didn't do the trick the loud way Hoseok and Namjoon are laughing certainly did.
When Jimin casts a quick glance at the other side of the bar, his fears are confirmed. Taehyung is looking at them. Or well, more precisely, he's staring at Jimin. When he notices Jimin looking, his face breaks into the most enchanting smile. He waves at him and Jimin waves back, feeling very much like he's being pinned to this spot, to this moment forever. The first time he's seeing Taehyung in six years.
"Guys," Jimin says to his friends. "I don't feel too good."
"Well, you better suck it up because lover boy is coming this way," Hoseok says, patting his shoulder. Jimin makes a sound in the back of his throat that is nothing if not an actual whine.
"Don't move," he says through clenched teeth. But by the time Taehyung reaches Jimin's side of the bar Namjoon and Hoseok have fled.
"Well, well, well,” Taehyung starts with a raised eyebrow. “If it isn't Park Jimin," he adds as he takes Hoseok's place.
The bar is rather loud tonight but Jimin doesn't miss any word or the way Taehyung's voice has deepened over the years.
"Hi," he says and feels so incredibly stupid because no matter how many years have passed, no matter how much they've changed, Kim Taehyung will always be Kim Taehyung to Jimin. He'll always make Jimin’s tongue feel like it doesn't work properly. Taehyung smiles easily at Jimin and hails down Yoongi.
"Hyung, can I please get a strawberry virgin mojito and uh," he looks down at Jimin's empty drink. "Sorry I don't know what you're having," he says.
"A screwdriver, please," he says to Yoongi who nods.
"Thank you, hyung," Taehyung grins at the barman with so much familiarity, something deep inside Jimin aches.
"Do, uh, do you guys know each other?"He asks.
"Oh yeah. Yoongi is my best friend. We grew up together. When I moved to Busan he travelled to Seoul for his music and so, when I came to Seoul six years ago, we met again and it was like I never left," Taehyung explains.
"You came to Seoul?" Jimin asks.
Taehyung nods. "Yeah, I studied here for like three years and then I got an internship to work for a magazine in Japan and then I -," he interrupts himself and puts a hand over his mouth. Jimin thinks he's adorable. "Sorry, I'm talking so much about myself," he says apologetically.
"Nah, it's fine. And then you what?"
Taehyung beams at him. He clears his throat and leans against the bar, a little closer to Jimin. He smells like a meadow. Jimin’s head spins a little.
"And then I finished school in Japan. I've only been back in town for like six months," he explains.
"You're a disgrace," Yoongi says, suddenly appearing back in front of them, and puts Taehyung's drink in front of him. "You come into my bar and you order this shit?" he continues as he offers Jimin his drink.
Taehyung laughs, a deep, warm chuckle that feels like velvet against Jimin's skin. "But hyung, alcohol is yucky," he says, voice taunting.
"You're officially banned from this place. Ad vitam aeternam," Yoongi says glaring at his friend.
"Ooooh latin, that's so sexy hyung," Taehyung rests his head against his hand and leans closer to Yoongi. "Say something in french now," he purrs. Yoongi whacks him with his towel and Jimin laughs. Taehyung merely fluffs up his hair again and winks at Yoongi. Yoongi grumbles something but he doesn't leave before offering them olives and other snacks.
"You shouldn't torment him like that," Jimin says with a smile, glad that his tongue is finally forming full sentences again.
Taehyung shrugs. "It's fun," he says. "Besides, he doesn't really mind. Especially when his boyfriend Seokjin is around."
"I'm guessing Seokjin-ssi hates seeing when you flirt with his boyfriend," Jimin says before taking a sip of his drink - Yoongi's hand is heavy; there's more vodka than orange juice in it but Jimin likes it - the alcohol warming his chest.
"He says he hates it, acts like he hates it, but I'm Seokjin's roommate and I know first hand that every time I flirt with Yoongi, they spend the night fucking like they're on their honeymoon," Taehyung says and Jimin laughs so hard he spills a bit of his drink on the bar.
"Oh, shit!" he gasps, still laughing, and the both of them grab cocktail napkins and quickly wipe away the mess.
Their hands brush but Jimin pretends his skin doesn't erupt in flames at the contact.
"I can't believe you're here," Jimin blurts out. He can’t help it though, Taehyung is actually here, in front of him, after so long. Jimin doesn’t like to dwell on the past, doesn’t allow himself to linger on what used to be because he’s got so much to look forward to now. There’s much in the near future that demands Jimin’s attention. Taehyung, though. Taehyung is someone Jimin never quite forgot, never really tried to. How could he when the mere thought of Taehyung felt like rest. A pause. A wonderful kind of peace in a hectic life.
Taehyung looks taken aback. "Here in this bar or here in Seoul?"
"Well both. This is one of my favourite places in the city. I can't believe we've never seen each other," Jimin says quickly, trying to cover up the fact that he's blushing.
Taehyung tilts his head and looks at him strangely for a long moment. Jimin brings a hand to his face. "What? Is there something on my face?"
"No," Taehyung smiles. "I just never heard you talk this much. You have a pretty voice, Jimin-ah," Taehyung says softly. Jimin feels like sliding to the floor and laying face down there for a while. Just a little while. Until he can absorb the compliment.
"Oh. Um, Thank you. You do, too," Jimin says, taking a big gulp of his drink.
"Thanks," Taehyung grins around his straw. He pulls back with a loud, satisfied sigh. "And to answer your question, I don't come here that often. I don't particularly enjoy drinking and besides I travel a lot for my job so I don't get to go out much," he explains.
"Oh what do you do?"
"I work for a fashion magazine," he says and there's something shimmery about the way he says it, a hidden pride.
"Vogue Korea," he says and his lips are dancing, like they're trying not to smile but Taehyung's efforts are in vain. Jimin grins at him.
"Oh my god, Taehyung! That’s! What?! That's amazing!"
Taehyung ducks his head, curls in on himself as if unable to take in the praise. "Thank you," he whispers, and he can't see them but Jimin is pretty sure Taehyung's ears have turned red. Jimin's own chest feels pink. "I'm just the assistant to one of the writers but I get to travel with her and she's super cool. She lets me write sometimes and she even lets me take executive decisions about some of the photoshoots," he gushes.
"Aish, Kim Taehyung!"
"I know right? Who would have thought the weird, dorky kid from Daegu would end up here," Taehyung says but it's not self deprecating, it's not negative in any way. Taehyung talks about that kid with fondness. Jimin can only relate.
"Me," he says without thinking.
Jimin clears his throat before taking another shot of his screwdriver. "Uh. You always had that vibe about you," he says, nerves dancing just under his skin.
Taehyung frowns a little. "What vibe?"
"Yeah, like you were different. Bigger than any of us," Jimin shrugs, his neck feeling too warm. "I've always thought you'd amount to something. To a lot, actually," he finishes quietly. Taehyung's eyes soften and he places a hand on Jimin's arm. A quiet and quick thank you.
"I always thought -," he starts but then he clamps his mouth shut and shakes his head.
"You thought what?"
"Nah, it's nothing," Taehyung says, playing with the straw of his cocktail.
"Come on, tell me," Jimin insists, leaning closer. Taehyung looks back at him, eyes taking Jimin in. He seems to find something trustworthy in them because he sighs resignedly.
"That you thought I was weird. That you didn't like me," Taehyung admits with a flat smile.
"What?" Jimin asks. He feels suddenly empty for some reason; like his insides were just scooped out of his body.
"I don't know," Taehyung says. "When we first met, I really liked you and I thought we would be great friends but then. That didn't happen and I'm not saying it was your fault but I always believed that we didn't become friends because I was a little... you know?"
"No, I don't know. You're a little what?"
"Out there," Taehyung says with a vague hand gesture.
"No,” Jimin says, grabbing Taehyung's arm and pulling him closer. Taehyung's eyes widen, probably because of the vehemence Jimin is suddenly exuding. "Sorry," Jimin lets go of Taehyung and pats his arm in apology. "But Taehyung I never thought of you that way. I just. I thought we would be friends as well but then you made your own friends and I don't know. I didn't want you to feel obligated to be mine just because I thought you were cool, you know?"
"You thought I was cool?" Taehyung asks with a blossoming smile.
"You were such an interesting kid, Taehyung. I thought there was no one quite like you," Jimin feels like that's admitting too much but he'd rather give away a bit of his secret rather than have Taehyung believe Jimin didn't like him.
“Aish! Look who’s talking!” Taehyung says, shoving Jimin a little.
Jimin sputters. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means you’re Park Jimin,” Taehyung says and something icy drips in Jimin’s chest, freezing the smile on his face. Taehyung doesn’t seem to notice because he carries on. “When you were on stage, it’s like you had wings. I could see how much you loved dancing and. I don’t know. There was something almost reverent about the way you looked at the stage. As if it had your heart. As if it was your home,” Taehyung says, his eyes gentle. The ice in Jimin’s chest thaws, the warm water splashing away inside of Jimin like an ocean. “Even if you didn’t end up doing Big Things, I knew you would lead an interesting life because you loved with all your heart,” he finishes with a kind smile.
Jimin is at loss for words. He drinks the last of his drink and signals for Yoongi to bring him another.
“So what do you do now?” Taehyung asks, twirling the straw in his drink and looking at Jimin with a twinkle in his eyes.
“I’m a dancer,” he answers with his own proud little smile. “Actually, we’re out tonight to celebrate because I got my first lead,” Jimin says, his cheeks hurting from the amount of smiling he’s done tonight. Taehyung’s jaw drops and he gets to his feet.
“Oh my god!” he says before sitting down again. Jimin laughs. “I’m sorry but I’m just really happy for you. This is huge!” he says, fluffing up the back of his hair. “Oh wow! Can I hug you? You deserve to be hugged unless you’re not a hugger, which is totally fine but, like -,” Jimin cuts him off by putting a hand on his shoulder.
“You can hug me if you want,” Jimin says and he can’t believe he’s being so chill about it.
“Yay,” Taehyung exclaims before jumping from his stool again and pulling Jimin into a warm hug. “Congratulations, Jimin,” he says, quietly rocking him back and forth.
Jimin sort of forgets everything and sinks into his embrace. “Thank you, Taehyung,” he whispers, throat a little tight.
Sometimes, when his mind wanders back to the past, when he lets himself properly think about Taehyung and all the things they might have been, Jimin can’t help but think that nostalgia and his crush have tinted the image Taehyung, the memory of him, into something slightly too perfect. Something rosy and safe and unattainable, almost like a dream. Now as he soaks up Taehyung’s warmth and as Taehyung gushes about what a big star Jimin is and with the scent of lavender in Jimin’s nose, he thinks he was right all along.
When they pull back, there’s a moment where they’re both too close, their cheeks having just brushed, the mole at the tip of Taehyung’s nose looking so pretty up close. A moment where Jimin thinks he can read an echo of his own yearning in Taehyung’s eyes. A slight shift in the air, making Jimin’s tummy swoop and his heart race a little. A moment where he thinks that just this once, he could take a risk and be spontaneous. He could just lean up again and take Taehyung’s mouth, taste his tongue, feel his lungs with nothing but Taehyung. But then some drunken idiot on their right misses his sit by a large margin and falls on his ass. Taehyung lets go of Jimin to help him get back to his feet.
Yoongi chooses that moment to bring Jimin his new drink. “You know he used to write me about you,” Yoongi says casually. Jimin’s entire frame freezes.
“Yeah, you really made a big impression on him that first day,” Yoongi says with a nod.
“Oh,” Jimin says as he sits down again. “He did, too.”
Yoongi looks at him for a moment too long before he nods again. “It’s good that you guys met again, then,” he says.
“Yes, it is,” Taehyung says as he reappears by Jimin’s side. He smiles down at Jimin before taking a sip of his drink and sitting down. “So, this big lead, huh?”
“Yup,” Jimin nods with a smile.
“Tell me everything,” Taehyung says turning on his stool so that the pink of his slacks brushes against the black of Jimin’s leather pants. Jimin’s laughter feels like a flock of birds finally set free.
He tells him everything.
Six drinks and whatever hours later, Taehyung is giggling into his neck as Jimin wipes away the tears of laughter that just won’t stop coming.
“And then, Namjoon, still covered in crabs by the way,” Jimin continues.
“CRABS!” Taehyung yells, sending Jimin into another fit of laughter.
“Yes! Crabs! So, it’s noon, there are families everywhere, Hoseok can’t find his clothes and Namjoon is covered in crabs and suddenly Jungkook reappears with a sandwich in one hand and the keys to Hoseok’s car in the other and Hoseok starts chasing him, cursing at him, butt naked,” Jimin is laughing so hard he can’t breathe.
“Oh my god! I love your friends,” Taehyung says, face so red he looks like a cherry.
“Eh, they’re alright,” Jimin says but his tone is dripping with fondness. Jimin takes a look around the room and is taken aback when he realises the lights have dimmed and the bar is empty.
“Where is everybody?” he asks.
Taehyung chuckles and picks up a set of keys that were on the bar next to his empty virgin pina colada. “The bar is closed. Yoongi asked me to close up,” he says.
Jimin looks down at his watch but his eyes refuse to focus. “Huh, it must be pretty late,” he says.
“Well considering you’re looking at the wrist that doesn’t bear a watch, I’d say it’s pretty late indeed,” Taehyung teases gently and it only serves to send Jimin into another fit of giggles.
“You’re funny, Kim Taehyung,” he says.
Taehyung beams and Jimin’s heart tumbles in his chest. It spent the night doing that but the effect is still just as devastating as it was the first time.
“You’re not so bad yourself, Park Jimin,” Taehyung says, tickling the underside of his chin. Jimin looks at him and thinks he deserves to know he’s special. The most special boy in the whole world . He looks at Taehyung, the boy that has always made his heart race like a wild horse, the boy who smiled so big and so earnestly, the boy who was always first to give a helping hand and he thinks, he should know how wonderful he is.
“You know, I always felt -,” he starts but a wave of nausea suddenly hits him.
“Are you alright?” Taehyung asks with a frown.
Jimin breathes through his nose deeply, focuses on Taehyung’s eyes and tried not to puke all over his expensive suit.
“Uh, yeah I’m fi-,” he starts but his stomach rolls one more time and Jimin empties the content of his stomach on Taehyung’s shoes.
Jimin isn’t supposed to be here.
He’s supposed to be back at home, eating ice cream and watching reruns of his favourite drama but stupid Hoseok begged him to bring a change of clothes at the dance studio and Jimin could never say no to his favourite hyung.
The dance studio that was right across the pet shop where Taehyung works. The same Taehyung who’s currently being pushed against the pet shop’s door while his boyfriends eats his face.
Fine they’re just kissing but Hyungsik looks like he’s having the meal of his life and Jimin’s inside are burning with bitterness. He shouldn’t be here, he should be at home not thinking about Taehyung but instead he’s glued to the spot, a bag of fresh new clothes in his hand and his phone in the other, watching as Hyungsik, pretty, charming with the cute funky ears Hyungsik, makes Taehyung melt against a door.
It’s not that he’s jealous (although, yes), it’s just that he’s never even gotten to kiss a boy before. He could, of course he could. He came out to a couple of his friends and he thinks boys sometimes flirt with him but.
Ever since he discovered he liked boys, he sort of had this idea that Taehyung could be the first boy he kisses. Maybe. If the stars aligned or something. However, the stars seem to have other plans apparently since Taehyung hasn’t been single for more than a couple of weeks here and there since he moved to Busan almost a year ago.
There’s a tiny voice in Jimin’s head that knows he’s full of shit and keeps reminding him that he would have never gone for it even if Taehyung had been single for longer periods of time. That tiny voice is very good friends with the part of him that is not entirely settled into his newfound sexuality, that still overthinks too much and is scared to act on his feelings.
The two of them have done a good job keeping Jimin away from Taehyung. Not that he needed much help. He can barely speak to the guy without feeling like any word coming out of his mouth will cause Armageddon.
So even though he should be safely at home living vicariously through his favourite character, he’s out here getting his heart trampled on.
After an agonising eternity, Taehyung pulls away from his boyfriend and whispers something that has his boyfriend coo and bury his nose into his neck. Taehyung smiles happily and closes his eyes, seemingly enjoying their proximity.
Jimin’s feet start moving then and he finally takes the final steps towards the dance studio. Just as he takes hold of the doorknob he hears Taehyung shout his name.
Jimin doesn’t stop.
When Jimin wakes up, he wishes he hadn’t. His head seems to have shrunk during the night, no longer big enough for Jimin’s throbbing brain, his limbs feel like they’re burning but a weird sort of icy fire, his mouth feels like the bottom of a toilet and he’s pretty sure this is not his bedroom.
He slowly sits up and regrets every second of the excruciating process.
“Ow, ow, ow!” he mumbles. “Please, Satan, if this is hell, I didn’t mean any of the bad stuff I did,” he says, face scrunched up tight against the abrasive sunlight.
“I have been called Satan before but not by someone as cute as you,” someone says behind Jimin who startles so hard he falls off the couch he was sleeping on.
“Fuck,” he moans against the carpet.
“You okay?” the same voice asks.
“I’m in hell and Satan just gave me the scare of my life,” he answers. “Or maybe my after life.”
“Maybe you should get off the floor. We live with several animals and I haven’t had the time to hoover this week,” the voice says again.
“I have to. Taehyung hates hoovering.”
At that Jimin sits up and looks over the edge of the sofa to find an absurdly beautiful man looking at him and sipping a coffee.
“Taehyung?” Jimin asks dumbfounded.
The man’s face changes suddenly. He looks scared. “Please tell me you know Taehyung and you’re not another random person he brought home and forgot about,” the guy says as he slowly shifts towards the door.
“I know Taehyung,” Jimin reassures.
The man tilts his head. “Did he tell you to tell me that?”
“Uh, no. Are - are you his roommate?”
The man squints. “Kim Seokjin. Are you hungry? I made breakfast,” he offers even as he looks like he’s five seconds away from calling the police.
At the mention of food, Jimin has a vivid flashback of him puking on Taehyung. And the rest of the night follows thereafter.
“Oh, no. Fuck, no. God, please let me be dead. Please, let me be in actual hell,” Jimin moans as he covers his face with his hands. Although, Jimin reckons, hell would be exactly this; waking up hungover on Taehyung’s living room floor, without Taehyung but with the clear memory of having thrown up on him.
“Sorry, kiddo, this is still just Seoul,” Seokjin says as he ventures closer and sits on the arm of the couch. “You seem familiar somehow. Have we met before?”
Jimin shakes his head.
“Who are you?”
Jimin finally looks up and curls into a ball. He rests his chin on his knees and looks up at Seokjin with all the puppy energy he can master. Maybe the handsome fellow will take pity on him and let him escape without having to confront reality.
“I’m -,” Jimin starts defeated but Seokjin’s eyes widen.
“Oh. You’re him. You’re the guy. From high school.”
“Taehyung showed me your picture from high school,” Seokjin says delightedly.
“He has a picture of me?”
“Well he was one of the photographers for your school paper and you were in many clubs so you could say he has a few, yeah,” Seokjin says with a slow smirk.
Jimin feels pleasure spread through his chest like a drop of red ink in a bowl of water. He buries his nose in his knees and says, “I’m Park Jimin.”
“You’re even cuter in real life,” Seokjin says casually and if Jimin wasn’t so close to death he would actually preen right now.
“Uh, where is Taehyung?”
“He’s walking Yeontan. He should be back soon,” Seokjin answers before taking a sip of his coffee.
Gathering all his will, Jimin finally gets up from the floor. He stands on shaky legs and takes a look at the rest of himself. He’s still wearing all his clothes from last night which would explain why he feels so hot. He doesn’t smell too nice either. He makes a face as he resigns himself to going back home feeling like a smashed beer bottle.
“Well, I better get going,” he says with a tight, little smile.
“You should wait for Taehyung,” Seokjin stops him.
Jimin would rather take a swim in a pool of scorpions than face Taehyung looking and smelling like this.
“I don’t know, it’s getting late.”
“It’s ten o’clock in the morning,” Seokjin says with a knowing glint in his eyes. “Jimin-ssi,” he looks at Jimin for a moment, his gaze soft and understanding. “Go take a shower, he left some clean clothes in the bathroom for you.”
Jimin’s stupid heart pounds at that. “He did?” he asks, voice small.
“Yeah. I saw a pile by the sink and I assumed they were for him but I should’ve known better.”
“Oh.” Jimin feels rooted to the spot.
“Go!” Seokjin urges.
“Are you sure it won’t be an imposition? I could call an uber and I’d be out of your hair in no time,” Jimin insists even if, now, he’d rather stay. Especially if he gets to shower.
“I have a feeling Taehyung wouldn’t be too happy about that,” Seokjin teases and Jimin, the utter fool, blushes. He’s twenty-three for God’s sake! He can’t remember the last time he blushed because of a boy.
“Okay,” he mumbles and Seokjin leads him to the bathroom. He takes a nice warm shower, choosing to use the lavender body wash instead of the peach one. He borrows a nut of toothpaste that he hastily rubs over his teeth with his index finger. When he comes out he pulls on the blue silk pajama set Taehyung left for him. They’re too big for him; the sleeves settle against his first knuckles, the wide neck exposes a bit too much of his collarbones and the hem of the shirt slides down way past his ass which, he thinks with a pout, is a shame. The pants are too long, as well, swallowing half of his feet. But he can’t complain; they smell clean and they’re soft against his skin.
His head is still pounding but he feels refreshed. Not necessarily ready to face Taehyung but he can’t hide in the bathroom forever and at least now he’s clean. The idea that Taehyung could’ve been the one to find him rolling on the floor makes him want to jump out of the window and start running until he reaches China.
When he steps back in the hallway, the smell of coffee hits him and he follows its trail like the children followed the pied piper. He finds a kitchen and inside said kitchen he finds Taehyung. And a dog.
“You have to be nice, okay?” Taehyung is telling the little beast. “I know you don’t like strangers but he’s very sweet and I really li-,”
“Hi!” Jimin interrupts.
Taehyung whirls around gasping, a hand on his chest and a bright blush on his cheeks.
“Jimin! Hi. Uh, hello! How are you? Did you sleep okay? How’s your head?” The flurry of words makes Jimin smile and somehow puts him at ease.
“I’m good, Taehyung. Thank you for letting me crash here,” he says as he takes a step closer.
“No problem. My place was closer to the bar and you weren’t really in a state to… walk,” Taehyung says with a slight wince.
Jimin eyes the window above the sink and wonders which floor Seokjin and Taehyung live in. He swallows harshly and looks Taehyung in the eyes when he says, “I’m terribly sorry about…. All the puking and being a general nuisance thing.”
But Taehyung starts shaking his head before Jimin is even done speaking.
“No, no, no! Please don’t say that. You’re not a nuisance. I had so much fun last night!”
Jimin stares at him. “Taehyung. I threw up on your beautiful shoes and then I made you carry me all the way up to your apartment, which, again, sorry about being a brat,” Jimin whines and buries his face in his hands again.
“I didn’t mind,” Taehyung reassures. He pokes at Jimin’s fingers until Jimin’s face reappears. He smiles gently at Jimin and pokes his nose. “You’re a really cute brat,” he says and warmth tingles through Jimin like a concerto.
“Still, I’m sorry about your shoes. I’ll pay you back,” he says as steadily as possible.
Taehyung waves the words away. “Don’t worry about them. I get freebies all the time,” he reassures Jimin. “Now, this is my first hungover Jimin experience. Are you the type to eat greasy food until your head clears or is the mention of food going to trigger another volcano incident?”
Jimin laughs. “Just coffee, please.”
“Okay,” Taehyung nods and gestures for Jimin to sit at the kitchen table where the dog is now laying.
“And who is this baby?” Jimin asks as he scratches the pomeranian behind his ears.
“That’s my Yeontan. He’s almost two,” Taehyung says proudly.
“When did you get him?” Jimin asks.
And that one question leads to another which leads to another and another and another. Before Jimin realises it, it’s four in the afternoon and Taehyung has to take Yeontan for another walk.
“Do you want to come?” Taehyung asks.
“Yeah, sure. I’d love that,” Jimin smiles.
“Great!” Taehyung beams.
“Is it okay if I go out like this?” Jimin asks, gesturing to the silk pajamas.
“Of course, I do it all the time. I’ll just lend you a jacket,” Taehyung says, tilting his head. “If I remember correctly, denim worked wonders on you,” he says with a slight squint.
Jimin almost swallows his tongue but Taehyung doesn’t notice as he turns to the closet by the door and rummages through it until he pulls out a light blue denim jacket.
Jimin smiles as he notices the handmade print on the back. “I’m glad you still do that,” he says as he pulls the jacket on. Taehyung ducks his head, shy again.
“Me too,” he says and offers Jimin a quiet smile, something full of promise. Jimin’s heart is blooming like spring.
They walk quietly to the nearest park, Jimin holding Yeontan’s leash, the cuffs of Taehyung’s pajamas getting dirty as they pass over grass and dirt. They settle by a bench under a big oak tree. Taehyung unleashes Yeontan and the small dog runs as fast as his little legs can carry him towards a squirrel.
“Can I ask you a question?” Jimin says after a moment of watching the dog.
“Do you still have that skateboard? The one you drew on,” Jimin asks, turning sideways to look at Taehyung. He rests the side of his head on his fist and watches the late afternoon sun illuminate his sweetheart’s face.
Ever since Hoseok said the word last night, Jimin hasn’t been able to stop thinking about it. Hoseok was right, Taehyung had been his sweetheart. Jimin shies away from calling him his first love because nothing ever happened between them back then but Taehyung still left an imprint on Jimin. He still carried bits and pieces of the other boy everywhere he went. His heart still somehow recognised him.
“I do. It’s actually hanging in my bedroom. I can show it to you later, if you want,” Taehyung answers. He smiles a bit strangely at Jimin. “I can’t believe you remember that thing.”
It’s Jimin’s turn to duck his head shyly. As the day progressed and they spent more time with each other, Jimin progressively relaxed, let himself bask in Taehyung’s glow. There’s something so reassuring and sweet about Taehyung’s presence. He carries himself with so little self restrictions, he’s so open and attentive to the world around him that it slowly put Jimin at ease. It’s something that Jimin has always wondered about: if he got to spend time with Taehyung, would he ever be able to get over himself and just enjoy the moment?
Today, he got to spend a whole treasure chest of moments and he’s enjoyed every single one of them. But now he retracts a bit into himself, remembering just how badly his younger self yearned for a day like this one.
“I thought it was cool. I liked the purple hearts,” he confesses.
It seems to please Taehyung immensely. “You did?”
“Yes! I always wondered about them,” Jimin says.
“What about them?” Taehyung turns to face Jimin fully.
“Well, why purple?”
“Oh,” Taehyung laughs a little, his eyes turning into impish crescents. “I’ve always loved the colour purple. It’s the last colour of the rainbow. It’s pretty and warm. I don’t know, there’s something gentle and good about purple. Name one purple thing that’s not awesome,” Taehyung challenges.
“Uh,” Jimin thinks it over. “Bruises!” he says triumphantly.
Taehyung offers a smirk at that. “Some bruises are pretty amazing,” he says quietly, his eyes shining.
Jimin can’t help but laugh. “You got me there,” he says still chuckling but the air has shifted between them again. Just like it did last night and just like it did this morning. There’s a tension growing between them and Jimin feels himself getting drawn nearer with every new minute spent with Taehyung.
Taehyung looks at him, then. His gaze a bit wistful and warm. Something a little sad lurking in the back of his beautiful brown eyes. They trail over Jimin's face as if cataloguing the changes. Like Jimin has been doing with him for the past day. Taehyung sighs and his eyes linger on Jimin's lips. He blushes and Jimin feels heat pool at the pit of his stomach. Something changes but Jimin doesn't understand what until Taehyung finally speaks.
“I had the most horrible crush on you,” Taehyung says suddenly and Jimin inhales sharply.
Taehyung laughs self deprecatingly. “Yeaaaaah,” he says with a slight scrunch of his nose. “Back in high school. It was awful. I couldn’t even look at you. I couldn’t find the words. I’d see you and I’d just… stop functioning.”
Jimin breathes out. “What?!” he repeats.
“I mean it wasn’t so bad at first. You were so nice to me and I thought we could be friends. I used to get crushes all the time and they never lasted and I thought it would be the same with you. Except,” he looks back at Jimin then, a small embarrassed smile on his face. Jimin thinks he could live a thousand lives and nothing would ever come close to the way Taehyung is looking at him now; like he aches the same way Jimin does. Something tender and sweet and a little stormy. “Except that one of my friends dragged me to the Christmas recital and I got to see you dance and my world sort of changed that night,” Taehyung exhales.
Jimin’s mouth keeps opening and closing but nothing but air is coming out.
“You were so mesmerising, so captivating. It’s like the world disappeared and all that remained was you, the stage and me,” Taehyung carries on. “Terribly cliché, I know. The gay nerd falling in love with the popular straight guy.”
At that Jimin chokes. Actually chokes. He tries to say words but he just sputters.
“Ah, this is all so silly. I shouldn’t have said anything,” Taehyung ruffles his hair.
“I’m not straight,” Jimin finally manages to spit out.
Taehyung freezes, a hand still in his pink hair. “Say what now?”
Jimin scoots closer. “Taehyung, I’m not straight. Especially not about you,” he promises. Taehyung makes a quiet noise at the back of his throat. “I can’t believe this is happening but you know what? After the last twenty-four hours, I’m just gonna go with the flow,” Jimin says, gesturing with his hands.
“That’s my motto,” Taehyung says, finally letting his hand fall back to his lap.
“Great motto! Do you know what’s great, too? Realising you’re gay at the tender age of sixteen while you’re in the middle of showing the library to the new cute kid with round glasses and red nail polish on his pinky fingers,” Jimin says. He doesn’t know where the sudden surge of confidence is coming from but he’s going to ride the wave until it’s gone. Taehyung is looking at him with wide eyes and Jimin doesn’t ever want to stop talking to him, with him, about him. “My world was a sea of grey, I had everything, I was busy and I wasn’t unhappy but I didn’t feel like I was really living. I always felt like things were happening at me. Before you, the only thing I really liked was dance. And then one day you appeared, with your big ears and big doe eyes and your weird hair and I just,” Jimin grins at him. “Taehyung you brought a bit of sun into my small cape town of a life. I liked you so much, I couldn’t even be near you. I was so scared you’d see me and realise I shouldn’t be under the sun.”
“But you were, like. You were Park Jimin, you were your own solar system, adored and beloved of so many.”
Jimin nods and tilts his head. “None of them were you, though,” he answers and Taehyung exhales sharply.
“Oh, wow. Oh, fuck. That was a lot,” he says and Jimin laughs.
“That’s how you always made me feel,” Jimin says.
Taehyung’s face softens. He scoots closer and rests one of his hands on Jimin’s shoulders. “Why didn’t you say anything?” he asks pained.
“I wanted to. But you were always dating someone and I think I was scared. I wasn’t ready yet to share that part of myself with anyone.”
Taehyung squeezes his shoulder and then cups the side of Jimin’s neck. Jimin leans into the touch. “I wouldn’t have asked for more than you were willing to give,” he says, soft and earnest.
“I know,” Jimin nods. “It wasn’t you. My fears were never about you. I know it’s silly, but even though I didn’t know you, I always trusted you.”
“It’s not silly,” Taehyung reassures. The tip of his fingers are now grazing Jimin’s hairline. Jimin shivers, his eyelashes fluttering. “I know what you mean. I felt the same way.”
Jimin nods and then shrugs. “In any case, you were never single long enough for me to even try asking you out.”
“I’m not going to apologise for that but I am sorry we missed our chance,” Taehyung replies.
Jimin smiles at him indulgently. “You’re a good man, Kim Taehyung.” Taehyung passes his thumb over his jaw, a gesture so gentle that Jimin almost melts right through the bench. “Besides, who says we missed our chance?”
Taehyung grins at that. “I like the sound of that,” he says as he scoots closer. “You could come with me next time I go to Japan. You would look so cute under the cherry trees,” Taehyung says, joy dancing at the corners of his mouth.
Jimin closes the gap between them, throwing one of his legs over Taehyung’s knees and leaning into his chest. “You could come watch me dance,” Jimin says with an enticing quirk of his eyebrow.
“Yes, please!” Taehyung shoots, making Jimin fall further into his chest with laughter. “We could go shopping together. I know all the best places!” Taehyung promises.
“Only if you promise to dress me,” Jimin says taking hold of one of his hands and bringing it closer to him. “I’ve always had a thing for your hands,” Jimin admits before leaning down to kiss the pad of Taehyung’s thumb. He hears more than sees Taehyung’s heavy swallow.
“Th-that’s interesting because I’ve always had a thing for your lips,” he says. Jimin gazes up at him and at the look in Taehyung’s eyes, something so hopeful and yearning, something shifts in the air again. It no longer feels funny or like a game. There are nerves dancing along his veins.
He finally jumps.
“They’ve been waiting a long time for yours,” he says quietly. “I wanted you to be the first boy I kissed.”
Taehyung cups his cheeks and rests his forehead against Jimin’s. Jimin inhales deeply, wanting to take in as much of Taehyung in this moment as he can.
“I’m not going to say something lame and ridiculous about being the last boy you'll kiss but I can definitely become one of your favourite memories,” he promises.
“Oh, Taehyung-ah,” Jimin sighs and brushes his nose with his. “You already are,” he says and pulls Taehyung into a slow, languorous kiss.
Haeundae beach is quiet this time of day. The moon is still high and the skies are leaking grey into the inky night. The stars have started to dim and the ebb and flow of the waves rushing past their ankles feels like it’s whispering to them. Come down, they’re saying. Come see about us.
Jimin grips Taehyung’s hand tighter and rests his cheek against his arm.
“We should get back before your mother wakes up. If she sees our shoes gone, she’ll worry,” Taehyung says and he kisses the crown of Jimin’s head.
“Just a little while more,” Jimin says quietly.
“The kids will be up soon and you know they’ll start chasing Yeontan around the house and you know they’ll wake up your dad and you know he hates being woken up like this,” Taehyung continues and even though he seems like he’s nagging, there’s fondness dripping from his tone like warm honey.
“I know,” Jimin tilts his head up and without having to be asked Taehyung dips down to kiss him.
“Five more minutes,” Taehyung says, kissing his forehead.
“Five more minutes,” Jimin says, squeezing his hand again.