“Good afternoon! Welcome to Sheraton Seoul Palace Gangnam, how can I help you?”
Taehyung had his professional smile on when he greeted the new customers arriving to check-in at the hotel. It was a sunny April afternoon and he was nearly finishing his shift, those were probably the last customers he would attend to before it ended and he was excited to be finally free for the day.
He really liked his job as a receptionist at the mildly luxurious hotel; it paid his meals and his bills since his artist career wasn’t very successful at the moment, it wasn’t a hard job and he met a lot of people every day, but the beige walls with wood panels and splashes of colour here and there to break the monotony of the decoration ended becoming boring after so many hours standing behind the reception desk and he couldn’t wait until he was able to go home. It wasn´t late and there were probably a few hours of sunlight left, so Taehyung was planning on going to Yangjae Citizen’s Park and strolling around for a little to catch some fresh air before taking the bus home.
His daydreaming was interrupted when he realized the pair waiting by the reception desk, businessmen if their outfits and small suitcases were anything to go by, had said something and he apologized with a faint blush dusting his cheeks before asking them to repeat their words.
“Like I already said, we have a reservation for Kim Seokjin and Kim Namjoon” one of them said with a cheeky smile on his face.
Both men looked a little worse for wear, their suit shirts rumpled with the sleeves rolled up to their elbows and it seemed they didn’t care at all about how proper they should look; they were probably exhausted after their trip to get there.
It wasn´t weird to have businesspeople staying at the hotel, some of them staying multiple times during the year and becoming regulars that Taehyung and his coworkers recognized easily, but it was the first time Taehyung saw those two and he appraised them carefully while he checked the information on the computer, smiling softly to himself when he finished his discreet staring because both men were really young, attractive and tall, a nice change from all the ugly middle aged businessmen who always tried to aggressively flirt with his female coworkers (and sometimes with him too) while checking-in.
The one who talked first was a little shorter than the other and at first, Taehyung wondered if he was a celebrity, because the man’s face was the best example of the classical beauty only actors or idols had. His white shirt stretched really nicely over his wide shoulders and, despite the apparent fatigue on his face, he had a playful glint in his eyes. Taehyung automatically decided he liked him.
The other man looked more severe than playful, or maybe it was exhaustion making him look that way, but although he wasn´t the kind of overwhelming beauty the first one was, he had gorgeous features that worked very well together, tan skin and, from what he could see from behind the desk, really long legs and Taehyung had to gather a lot of inner strength to stop staring at him, at his pretty dark eyes, his small button nose and his thick lips.
The man, Kim Namjoon according to the ID he gave Taehyung, was squinting at him really hard and Taehyung wondered if he was like those asshole businessmen who looked down on people working service jobs and frowned while printing the document with information about the hotel facilities and meal schedules he was going to give them together with the cards for their room.
“Namjoon-ah, where did you put your glasses?” the other man, Kim Seokjin, asked in a low voice. “You look like you want to kill the poor receptionist; you are probably scaring him!”
Namjoon let out a gasp and took his eyes off Taehyung to look inside his bag frantically. Taehyung couldn’t see his face properly like that, but the top of his ears were really red and it was such an endearing sight he couldn’t help but giggle, making Seokjin turn to him with his lips curled up in mirth and wink at him.
“Don’t mind him, he looks scary when he stares at you like that, but he is just short-sighted and he forgot his contact lenses at home”
“It’s fine sir, you should see the kind of people we have to deal with here, THAT is actually scary” Taehyung said, before opening his eyes really wide and covering his mouth with his hand. “Oh, fuc-furnace, I shouldn’t have said that in front of guests!”
Both men laughed out loud and then Taehyung rushed to explain everything about the hotel and gave them the documents before he embarrassed himself further. It was obvious he really needed to go home; his brain-to-mouth filter was starting to fail him after his long shift.
“Have a nice stay!” he exclaimed, bending at the waist for a quick bow.
Seokjin bowed his head back at him before turning to walk towards the elevator but Namjoon stayed in place and glanced at Taehyung’s nametag briefly before staring back at his face and smiling in a way that made two deep dimples show. The dimples and the wire frame glasses he was wearing now made him look softer and more approachable than when he entered the hotel and Taehyung felt like he just experienced whiplash.
“Thank you so much, Taehyung-ssi”
With those words, spoken in a deep and soft voice, Namjoon left after Seokjin and Taehyung stood there behind the reception desk, his cheeks flushed and a tiny smile on his face.
Two hours later, Taehyung was finally home, sitting on the floor of the small living-room and eating dinner with Hoseok and Jungkook, his roommates.
Jungkook had brought some japchae leftovers from the buffet restaurant where he worked part-time and they were sharing the food with some side dishes Hoseok prepared and enjoying a rare meal together, since the three of them were always busy with work lately (and university too, in Jungkook’s case).
“How was your day at work, Taehyung-ah?” Hoseok asked. He was slurping the noodles carefully to avoid staining his clean sleeping shirt or the floor and looked sleepy and ready for bed after a long shift at his job as a physiotherapist, but he took his role as the eldest of the house very seriously and always tried to find time to baby Jungkook and him and ask them about their days.
“Meh, it was alright. A little boring at the beginning, but a little before I had to leave we had two new guests, businessmen”
“Were they handsome or the same old perverts?”
This time the one who asked was Jungkook before trying to fit a huge bite of food inside his mouth while Hoseok chastised him and he smiled at the eldest with his cheeks stuffed, looking like a cute little chipmunk.
“Oh yes, they were super handsome like, idol level, I swear. One of them looked really intimidating at first; he was doing a thing with his chin jutting out and everything but in the end he even bothered to check my nametag to thank me before leaving to their room? It was nice”
“Ah, Taehyung-ah” Hoseok said with an amused smile. “Only you would feel attracted to someone just because they show basic human decency”
“Yah, I don’t feel attracted to him!”
Hoseok slapped the back of his head and then screeched when Taehyung got up and slumped on top of him. Taehyung started to tickle him with an evil smile while Hoseok screamed like a banshee and Jungkook observed them holding his bowl close to his chest and munching his food in silence.
That was the moment Jimin, Taehyung’s best friend and self-proclaimed soulmate since university, chose to enter the apartment like it was his own house with a cheery “sup guys!” before stopping in his tracks, analyzing the scene in front of him for some seconds and then turning to look at Jungkook with a frown on his pretty face.
“What’s with them tonight?” the newcomer asked, pointing at the fighting pair with his thumb.
“Taehyungie-hyung was disrespectful to Hobi-hyung because Hobi-hyung called him out for having a crush on a guest at the hotel”
“I don’t have a crush!” Taehyung screamed. He separated from a breathless and tearing up Hoseok and sat with his legs crossed, welcoming Jimin on his lap as soon as he finished getting comfortable on the floor. “It was my first time seeing him; I just said that the man was handsome, nothing else! Also he is a guest; I would never get involved with a guest, that’s immoral!”
"You say that like you are a teacher going out with a student or a doctor with a patient; it´s not that deep, Taehyung-ah" Hoseok answered.
"Yeah Taehyungie, be a slut, do whatever you want!"
Jungkook choked on his food after hearing Jimin's words and started coughing and wheezing, staring at them helplessly with his eyes wide like saucers before Hoseok cursed and went to slap his back.
"Jimin! You nearly killed the baby!"
"Oh, come on! He has a girlfriend, he is probably getting more than the three of us combined"
Jungkook didn't have time to say anything else because, just like it was conjured, his phone started ringing and the boy got up hurriedly with his cheeks coloured a fiery red and answered the call on his way to his room.
"Haseul? Hi! Yeees, I`m free right now"
With those words, he disappeared behind the door and the other three let out a collective coo.
"Ah, young love..."
"They are so cute goddammit, I want a girlfriend or a boyfriend too!" Jimin complained with a pout, before turning to stare at Taehyung. "In fact, that was the reason I came here! Sungwoon and I are going out tonight to meet some guys; do you want to join us?"
That explained why Jimin was all dolled-up and wearing that pair of jeans that, according to his own words, "made his ass and thighs look incredible". Jimin usually didn’t like clubbing that much, but some weekends he went out with his other group of friends and, unfortunately, more times than necessary one of them had ended calling Taehyung to rescue his friend from some fight with guys bigger and meaner than him or to pay for the taxi that had taken him to his building, because Jimin spent more time there than in his own home and a lot of times forgot where he lived when he was drunk.
Hoseok's expression became somber when he heard what Jimin had said and he turned down his invitation hastily before starting to pick up all the mess from dinner and taking it to the kitchen, despite not having finished eating yet.
Taehyung continued talking with Jimin when Hoseok left to his room and they both looked up when he reappeared a few minutes later, with a change of clothes and his backpack hanging from one shoulder.
“I´m going to Yoongi’s to hang out for a bit” he announced, eyeing Jimin warily. “I will be back late, Taehyung-ah, don´t wait for me”
Yoongi was Hoseok's best friend who lived in the building in front of theirs and Taehyung was sure that by “hanging out”, Hoseok actually meant they were going to get drunk on cheap wine and complain about their non-existent love lives, how pretty and unfair Jimin was (that mostly on Hoseok’s part) and, in Yoongi’s case, his awful and extremely boring job in a bank that he couldn’t wait but quit as soon as he got enough money to start his own bakery.
“Ok hyung, be careful when you come back”
Hoseok left with a wave of his hand and a last glance in Jimin’s direction and the moment he was out of the apartment the other let his smile fall and turned to Taehyung with a frown.
“Why does he always do that when I’m here?”
Taehyung was sick of the push and pull thing Hoseok and Jimin had going on, but they were pig-headed and really dense, so he had decided to let them be childish and dumb instead of saying anything; it was their issue to solve and they were old enough to do it without his help, he already had enough things to deal with in his own life.
“I don’t know Jimin-ah. Come on, tell me your plans for tonight”
The second time Taehyung encountered Namjoon and Seokjin, it was barely three weeks later.
He was starting a morning shift with his favourite coworker and good friend Sojung, a model trying to break through the fashion industry and who hated her job at the hotel with a fiery passion. His shifts with her were always entertaining because they always had a lot of different topics to discuss and she wasn’t opposed to sneak out to eat some snacks and gossip instead of working when things were slow at the hotel, so Taehyung always looked forward to coincide with her at the reception desk.
That day, Sojung had arrived late after a casting and got out of the staff room stomping loudly while still fixing her uniform and putting her long dark hair on a ponytail.
"How did the casting go?" Taehyung inquired when she sat by his side.
"Don't talk to me about that fucking casting" she hissed and Taehyung grimaced; Sojung never cursed and if she did it meant she was really pissed off.
"That bad, huh?" he said and passed her the bag of candy he had beside the computer for emergencies.
"That dumbass bitch Yerin was the only one who got into the second casting "
"Isn't Yerin your best friend?"
"That’s an insignificant detail!"
Taehyung let the topic drop with a hum and put a handful of candy in his mouth; models were weird and he didn't want to know more than necessary about that world.
They worked in silent companionship for some time until Taehyung heard the lobby doors opening and people entering and he greeted them without looking up from the documents he was organizing on the desk.
"Good morning, welcome to Sheraton Seoul Palace Gangnam. How can I help-oh"
Standing in front of him were Namjoon and Seokjin and Taehyung recognized them instantly; men like then were difficult to forget. This time they looked more rested and more handsome than the first, if that was possible, and he hoped his expression didn't betray how flustered their appearance had made him.
"You are here again?" Taehyung said, realizing a second later how rude it had sounded. "Oh god, sorry, that was really unprofessional! It's not that I don't like your presence here or anything, on the contrary, it's great to see you here again and-"
Taehyung shut his mouth before he embarrassed himself further and it seemed the best decision because Seokjin looked like he was trying really hard to contain his laughter and the man's face was getting very red, but Namjoon assured him it was fine with a kind smile and told him they had liked the hotel a lot the previous time and had decided to stay there again.
Taehyung finished their reservation in no time and gave them their room cards, feeling ashamed of their ability to make him lose his cool and wanting them gone as soon as possible so he could become professional receptionist Kim Taehyung again. He gave them the cards with his most polite smile and they bowed their heads and went their way, Namjoon taking a second before following Seokjin to smile at Taehyung a last time with his eyes scrunched cutely and his dimples on full sight.
"Thank you Taehyung-ssi, it's good to see you again too"
Taehyung stood there feeling like someone had punched him on the gut and only went back to the real world when he felt a pull at his sleeve and looked down to see Sojung staring at the elevators with her mouth open wide.
"Oh my god, did you see them!?"
“Yeah, Sojungie, I saw them really well…”
Night shifts were always a pain in the ass for Taehyung, but even more so when he had to be alone with none of his coworkers by his side to crack some jokes or play games to pass time until morning came and they could go home.
That night, he was trying his best to entertain himself, since it seemed no one was scheduled to check in and he still had some hours to go. He had already organized all the documents and paperwork , finished his secret bag of candy and doodled in all the paper he could find and he was wondering if he could escape to the pool or something, when the noise of the elevator sounded in the empty lobby, interrupting his peace and making him frown in its direction.
When the doors opened and Namjoon appeared, looking lost in his pyjamas and not at all like Taehyung had seen him the previous times, he considered for a second to hide behind the desk and act like he wasn’t here. He didn’t know what about the man made him so nervous, but his usual outgoing (and sometimes pretty shameless) demeanor disappeared in front of him.
Namjoon spotted him in no time and waved his hand timidly before approaching the reception desk.
“Good night, Taehyung-ssi” he said in a really soft voice.
“Good night Kim Namjoon-ssi, do you need something?”
“Oh no, I just can’t sleep” the other answered rubbing his neck with a bashful smile. “I have insomnia and sometimes when I travel it’s hard for me to sleep; I should be used to it but sleeping in hotels it’s difficult”
The man was so open despite being practically a stranger that it surprised Taehyung. He didn’t have a problem with being open to strangers and usually had no qualms in making friends with everyone, but he had realized really soon in life that most people wasn’t so keen on telling others their feelings and thoughts and seeing Namjoon talking to him so easily was like a breath of fresh air and Taehyung instantly wanted to know more about him.
“Oh, that sucks a lot. I usually don’t have any kind of trouble to sleep, so I can’t imagine how you must feel. Do you travel a lot, Namjoon-ssi?”
“Yeah, Seokjin and I travel a lot. We work for Samsung in Japan, selling their medical technology and all that and we come here a few times every month for business”
“Oh, so you don’t live here?”
“Nope. I moved there five years ago when they promoted me and then I met Seokjin-hyung. He was another lost Korean in Tokyo trying to find his place, so we got along very easily and he is now my best friend”
“Ah, I see, that’s really nice” Taehyung answered with a polite smile.
Silence fell and they stared at each other for a few seconds, the air growing more awkward by the minute. Namjoon seemed a little uncomfortable after opening up so much and he looked in the direction of the elevators with a frown.
“I should go-“
“You can stay here if you want” Taehyung replied quickly, interrupting the man. Namjoon looked at him with an eyebrow raised and Taehyung directed a boxy smile at him. “If you can’t sleep there is no use of going back to the room, you can stay with me and keep me company for a while, if you want of course. I´m very bored right now”
Namjoon seemed surprised but also pleased and thankful, and Taehyung considered that a small win.
“Ok Taehyung-ssi, I´ll stay, thank you” With those words, Namjoon leaned against the desk to face him properly and send him a cheeky smile. “Now tell me, what do you think about black holes and dark matter?”
Weeks and then months passed and Namjoon and Seokjin kept coming to stay at the hotel.
The pair always stayed two or three days for their business meetings and then flew back to Japan to repeat the cycle every few weeks, always during Taehyung's shifts, so soon they started to treat Taehyung with familiarity like he was an old friend and not just the guy who worked at the reception in the hotel they frequented.
Seokjin had even started to joke that maybe the three of them were destined to meet and that they should do something about it since going against destiny was never a good idea if dramas and novels were anything to go by, making Taehyung laugh and Namjoon blush furiously every single time. The oldest man sometimes was too much but Taehyung liked him because he reminded him of his friends, although he sometimes wondered how poor Namjoon was able to endure being with him all the time, being so different to him and always quieter and calmer.
Since that first night that Namjoon went to the lobby and they talked, the older man had started to appear there during some random nights that Taehyung was working alone, saying he couldn't sleep and asking Taehyung if he didn't mind to spend some time with him, leaning against the reception desk in all his soft sleepy glory and talking to him quietly about any topic that passed his mind.
Taehyung didn't know if he did that with everyone at the reception or not and wasn't sure if he wanted to know, because he soon realized he actually enjoyed those conversations and he looked forward to talk to Namjoon those times he had a night shift alone and knew the man was staying at the hotel.
Namjoon, despite his intimidating appearance at first, was actually a little shy and easy to get flustered, but also really cultured and thoughtful and knew about a lot of things, always having something interesting to tell Taehyung and always worried about some social issue or another. He was fascinating and Taehyung couldn't help but want to know more and more about him and, despite usually being a very talkative man, most times those moments together consisted on Namjoon talking and talking while he listened in awe, absorbing everything the other said like a sponge. After some time, he started to talk and rant about different topics too and he was elated to notice Namjoon always seemed to remember the things he had told him every time he was back at the hotel.
That Sunday morning he had arrived home after one of those nights and still thinking about the conversation Namjoon and he had about the development of South Korea's technology compared to the development of their social rights when he stumbled upon Jungkook and his girlfriend cuddling in the living-room and watching something on tv.
As soon as Jungkook saw him enter the room, he blushed to the roots of his hair and tried to lift his head from Haseul's lap, always such a shy kid, but the girl had none of it and put her hand on his chest softly but firmly to keep him there and then directed a calm smile in Taehyung's direction. She was terrifying in a strangely sweet way; Taehyung was totally in love with her.
"Good morning Jungkookie and Haseul"
"Good morning oppa!" she exclaimed over Jungkook's timid greeting. "Why do you look so refreshed so early in the morning?"
"Yes, like a young boy in love! Have you perhaps met someone at work?"
She was looking at him with a smirk and even Jungkook had perked up at the question, but Taehyung dismissed them quickly and left to his room, feeling warmth starting to fill his chest. He didn't want to tell them about Namjoon despite knowing what was happening between them was only the blossoming of a nice friendship; still, their moments together were something he preferred to keep to himself, at least for a little while.
Namjoon was back at the hotel soon, arriving very late in the night once again with Seokjin in tow being loud and flirty and brightening Taehyung’s long and tiring day.
Taehyung was finishing the paperwork for the check-in and activating their cards when a bad movement of his neck made him grimace and he lifted a hand to rub the zone that was hurting. He felt eyes on him and looked up to see Namjoon staring at him in worry.
“Taehyung, are you ok?” it had been so long since the pair had started to stay at the hotel that they had abandoned the formalities and started to treat each other with familiarity (only if there weren’t other guests or Taehyung’s higher ups nearby, of course; they had to maintain a professional image after all).
“Uh? Ah, yes hyung, don’t worry. I just had a long shift and I didn’t sleep well last night”
“Oh, is that so?” Namjoon asked in interest, while Seokjin snatched one of the cards from his hand and left the lobby with a salute towards Taehyung and Sojung, who was busy checking something on one of the computers (probably her emails to see if her modeling agency has contacted her).
That night’s shift was slow, no one appearing to check-in or ask them anything apart from the pair of businessmen, so Taehyung relaxed and leaned against the desk to talk a little with Namjoon. He had been expecting the man’s arrival for some days now and he was excited to see him and talk to him at least for a few minutes.
“Yeah, I slept on the couch and that ugly old thing isn’t the best for a person’s back”
“Why did you sleep on the couch!?”
Namjoon looked scandalized and Taehyung chuckled and was going to answer, but Sojung beat him to it without even looking up from the computer screen.
“He was doing the art thing”
“The art thing?”
“Ah, hyung” Taehyung said rubbing the back of his neck. “I guess you could say I’m an artist”
“I guess my ass” Sojung chirped before leaning towards Namjoon to whisper something conspirationally. “He paints beautifully, his pieces are all abstract and colourful and so pretty; he gave me one of his paintings for my birthday and I have it hanging on my wall”
“Oh wow, I didn’t know that” Namjoon exclaimed while Sojung excused herself and left to have some snack in the staff room while there wasn’t anyone else waiting to check-in.
Taehyung smiled shyly; despite not being a timid person most of the time, he was always a little self-conscious when talking about his art to people and he actually had forgotten to mention it during their previous conversations, but the way Namjoon seemed excited and interested about this new tidbit of information about him made him brighten with delight.
“Yeah, that’s actually what I studied in University; I had blue hair and I was trying to grow a beard and everything. Sadly, my career is not that prosperous, that’s why I’m working here with this boring adult hairstyle”
“Ah, I see… making a living of an art career is difficult nowadays, but as long as you keep creating and don’t give up, I’m sure things will go well for you”
“You haven’t even seen my art” he answered, leaning closer to Namjoon with an eyebrow raised and making the other splutter from being in such a close proximity and look down with his cheeks red.
Namjoon always looked calm and collected, but he was also easily flustered and it has become one of Taehyung’s favourite activities to test how far he could he could go to make the older man blush or lose his cool. He knew that attitude wasn’t specially professional, but he was sure to be respectful and not cross any line with him and Namjoon always played along, surprising Taehyung a lot of times with some delightfully flirty responses.
“I know, but you have this… uh, this aura, of someone who sees the world in a different light and is able to create beautiful things” Namjoon said like it was nothing and that time it was Taehyung’s turn to blush; he wasn’t expecting those words from Namjoon, despite knowing the man was thoughtful like that by nature and always seemed to see people for who they actually were deep inside and the good and potential in everyone. “But yeah uhm, anyways, what does your art have to do with sleeping on the couch last night?”
The way Namjoon quickly changed topic probably meant he didn’t expect to say that either, so Taehyung indulged him and pretended to forget those words, starting to ramble in a low voice.
“Oh, you see, my roommates, don´t get me wrong, they are the nicest people I know and I love them to death, but they are really… particular, to put it simply. Hoseok doesn’t deal well with messes and Jungkook is very sensitive to smells, so I can’t paint or work with clay in any of our shared spaces at home. I´m saving money to rent a studio where I can work in my art but meanwhile the only place available is my bedroom and, you know, I don´t want to die from inhaling paint fumes in my sleep, so every time I have some unfinished work in my room, I end sleeping on the couch”
“Wow, and I thought the “tortured artist” trope was just a myth in real life!”
“Well, cutting your own ear was already taken; I had to choose another tragedy if I wanted to be original and create my brand, you know?”
Namjoon let out a loud laugh at those words and looked at him like he was funniest person he had ever met and Taehyung would lie if he said he didn’t feel like glowing under Namjoon’s attention and appreciation.
“I’m glad you didn’t cut your ear, Taehyung, but be careful of old sofas and your back, ok? We don’t want you bedridden before you succeed and we can finally see you in art galleries and museums all around the world”
“Ah, hyung, don’t make fun of me!”
“I was serious, I swear! No but really, take care of yourself Taehyung-ah, ok?”
Namjoon turned around after those words and walked away sending a last smile his way, leaving Taehyung looking after him with his heart beating like crazy inside his chest.
Night time found them both again sitting side by side behind the reception desk.
It was nearing 4am and Namjoon had to take a plane the next day to go back to Japan, but the man once again found he wasn’t able to sleep and had taken the lift down to the lobby, where Taehyung was, to keep him company. After all the times they had met during Namjoon’s business trips and their conversations the nights Taehyung had to work and Namjoon couldn’t sleep, they had grown very comfortable with each other and enjoyed each other’s company a lot.
Taehyung didn’t know what was happening between them, but he was sure the way Namjoon sometimes looked at him was something else than just a normal friendship. Still, he was comfortable with how things were at the moment and didn’t want to ruin anything by asking Namjoon about it or acting carelessly, so he enjoyed their moments together and let those thoughts stay at the back of his mind, at least for now.
He had ordered fried chicken and rice for dinner from a restaurant nearby and still had some food left, so he offered Namjoon some and that’s how both of them ended sharing the leftovers and talking about whatever came to their minds in that quiet and long night at the deserted lobby.
"So, hyung" Taehyung said in the middle of a mouthful of rice. "Was working for your company your dream job?"
Namjoon stopped mid chew and stared at him.
"Are you always so direct, Taehyung-ah?"
"Life it's easier this way, people complicate things when they aren't honest or start beating around the bush instead of saying what they need to say" he shrugged nonchalantly. His words clashed with his previous thoughts about Namjoon, but he truly lived with that mindset and acted according to it most times.
The way Namjoon was looking at him after he talked was difficult to interpret; he looked in awe at him but also a little sad, and Taehyung grabbed a piece of chicken with his chopsticks and placed it in front of Namjoon's face to make him eat it and distract him before his heart started doing funny things to him.
"Come on hyung, I already talked about my dream of being a famous and respected artist and earn enough money to retire to a castle at the French countryside; now it's your turn"
"Oh" Namjoon grew out of his daze and smiled bashfully. "Actually, no, working in business and sales wasn't what I wanted to do when I was young"
When Namjoon didn't continue talking after a long moment, only munching on his food with a concentrated expression, Taehyung nudged his shoulder and smiled at him. "Well? What did you want to do? Oh, let me guess! You wanted to be an astronaut! You know a lot about stars and the universe so you must have wanted to go to space and discover new planets and satellites, am I right?"
Taehyung looked so excited with his guess that Namjoon couldn't help but bark a loud laugh that resonated on the whole lobby and made him immediately cover his mouth with his cheeks flushed bright.
"I do like space, but no, that wasn't what I wanted to do. I-uh, I actually wanted to be a musician or a poet. I used to write songs and I saved all the money I earned or my parents gave me to buy music equipment. I even had a Soundcloud account where I uploaded some tracks that I made with the help of a dear hyung of mine"
"Ah hyung, that sounds amazing!" Taehyung exclaimed in that way of his that Namjoon knew, despite now knowing Taehyung for long, was sincere and genuine. He thought carefully about something for a second and then leaned forward to be closer to him.
"Can I hear any of the songs?"
"Oh... the account doesn't exist anymore, sadly"
"Well, life happened I guess? I had to change my plans regarding my future and then I started university and my business degree so I ended deleting the account"
"I think some of the tracks are still in my computer back home in Ilsan, but I haven't checked it in years so..."
Taehyung looked at him with a curious glint in his eyes and Namjoon couldn't help but squirm under his stare.
"Hyung, are you happy?"
"Why are you asking me that?"
Taehyung shrugged and brought another bite of rice to his mouth, chewing for some time before opening it again.
"I don't know, usually people get frustrated when their dreams don't work out, like, they think they have failed at life or something and spend their days sad and hating themselves"
Namjoon opened his mouth and let out a soft "oh" that made Taehyung smile and burrow closer to him to lean his head on the other man's shoulder. It was an impulsive move on his part, but Namjoon didn't move although he seemed to tense up at first from the surprise, so Taehyung relaxed against him and kept talking while staring ahead.
"Don't get me wrong, I understand that because I'm the best example of someone who had to find a plan B because their plan A didn't work out or was taking too long to work out, but I have learned that sometimes your original plans end not happening and you have to find something else to do and that's fine too! It doesn't mean you failed or you didn't try hard enough, only that sometimes life happens differently than how we expected and we can still find satisfaction and happiness in that plan B"
Silence fell again between them when he finished talking and Taehyung wondered if he had said something wrong, but then Namjoon started chuckling softly and carefully reached with the arm around him to ruffle his hair.
"You are a really wise man, Taehyung-ah"
Those words made Taehyung blush and smile in delight and he ducked his head to hide his expression against the neck of his uniform, despite knowing Namjoon could see it well enough with how close they were sitting.
"I'm not; I just have a lot of time alone with my thoughts during the night shifts"
"No, seriously, you just said something very important and well, to answer your question, I don't know if I can say I'm happy right now because that depends on a lot of different factors and on our own definition of happiness that can vary a lot depending on what we expect from ourselves and what kind of life we live and-"
"Hyung, you are rambling"
"Oh, sorry" he seemed a little flustered so Taehyung squeezed one of his hands in encouragement. "But yeah I don't know if I could say that I'm happy right now, but I feel pretty satisfied with my life and I like my job even if I would like to settle down one day instead of travelling so much for work"
"That's good, I'm glad for you"
"And you, Taehyung-ah? Are you happy? "
Taehyung hummed and considered the question for a moment and then looked up smiled his pretty boxy smile at Namjoon.
"Yes hyung, I feel very happy right now"
A few hours later, Taehyung was finally home, entering the apartment with a spring on his step after spending that great time with Namjoon and looking forward to seeing him again the next time he visited the hotel, when the sight in front of him made him froze on the spot and shriek in a high voice that didn’t sound like his own at all.
Hoseok and Jimin were making out on the sofa, the latter straddling the other’s lap and kissing his neck while holding his hair on a tight grip. Hoseok was the only one of the two in his underwear and, if the expression on his face was anything to go by, he looked both the happiest man alive and like he didn’t know how he ended there.
“What the hell!?”
“Oh, hi Taetae! How did work go?”
Namjoon wasn't well.
Taehyung could sense it the moment the man had arrived the previous day to stay once again at the hotel. They didn't have a chance to talk to each other at all because the reception was really busy with people waiting to check-in, but Namjoon looked forlorn and more tired than usual and his expression had worried Taehyung so much he had spent the rest of the day wondering what happened to the older man and wishing he could talk to him.
The next day Taehyung, still not knowing anything about Namjoon since the day before, was just finishing his shift and saying goodbye to Sojung when the woman grabbed his sleeve and glanced around to see if there was anyone at the lobby before whispering to him.
"Tae, did you see your man today?"
He pouted and shook his head, so worried about Namjoon that he didn't even correct Sojung from calling him his man.
"So you still don't know what happened to him? I saw him pass by yesterday and he did look weird... He also asked for you"
"He asked for me?"
"Yup and he looked disappointed when I told him you had already gone home. It didn't seem like he had anything specific to tell you; I think he just wanted to see you"
Sojung's sing-song voice during that last part should have annoyed Taehyung, but he was trying to come up with a way of talking to Namjoon, since he didn't have the man's phone number. He didn't want to go home without talking to him, and even less now that he knew Namjoon had asked for him.
After some time thinking while Sojung got ready for her night shift alone, Taehyung finally had an idea.
"Sojung-ah, can you do something for me?"
"Anything for you, future gay father of my children"
"Give me the keycard to the pool and keep an eye on the cleaning ladies and the security guards from here"
It was dumb and it was crazy and it could get him in trouble, but that part of him that his mother and teachers had called "too spontaneous for his own good" was taking over and he wanted to do something nice and fun for Namjoon because he may not have known what happened to him or if he would tell him, but he wanted to help in his own way.
"Please please please Sojung-ah, future mother of my children, light of my life, I will compensate you generously!" he pleaded, going as far as kneeling on the floor in front of her. Sojung snorted and shook her head but then pulled his hair lightly to signal him to look up and put the key on his hand.
"Oh boy, you are going to take all of my night shifts for the next month for this"
"Thank you, you are the best, I love you!" Taehyung screamed, getting to his feet and running towards the elevators without looking back, faintly hearing Sojung scream “Go get him, tiger!” in the now silent and empty lobby.
Taehyung found Namjoon and Seokjin’s room and knocked on the door to find the older man wearing a fluffy headband and with a face mask on, staring at him with what he supposed was a raised eyebrow.
“Hyung! Good evening, sorry to bother, is Namjoon here?”
“Good eve-Taehyung, it´s nearly midnight!”
“I know but I really really need to talk to him, is he here?”
Seokjin tried to smirk with his mask in a knowing way and it was a wonder his face could pull off that expression and still look like a god. Staring Taehyung up and down for some seconds, he turned to the inside of the room and called loudly for Namjoon and after a few moments, Namjoon finally appeared with a spooked look on his face.
“What happened!? Are we in danger!?”
“Nah, it’s just Taehyung”
“Oh… hi Taehyung-ah”
“Hyung! Come with me!”
Namjoon frowned and stared dubiously at Seokjin, who only pushed his back gently with a broad smile (or, as broad as he could with the face mask on). Taehyung reached out a hand and looked expectantly at him and Namjoon sighed and slowly took his hand.
“Where are we going?”
“Come on, just trust me”
They ended at the hotel indoors pool, closed and silent in the middle of the night without all the guests swimming or lying around on the black and white long chairs and sun beds. The big floor to ceiling windows showed the night view and the whole space glowed with the city lights, looking like something out of another dimension.
Namjoon was looking around with his mouth open in awe and Taehyung smiled to himself when he noticed how the other already seemed less stressed, although he was still glancing at the door from time to time.
“Hyung, let’s swim”
Taehyung started to unbutton his shirt and when he turned to look at Namjoon, the man was frozen and staring at him with a scandalized look on his face.
“What are you doing!?”
“I´m not going to swim in my uniform? Come on, I´m not going to get fully naked”
“What if someone comes? You could get in trouble!”
“Ah hyung, don’t worry” Taehyung said, trying to ignore how his heart had started to beat like crazy after Namjoon’s worry for him and his job. “The security guys working tonight owe me some favours; they won’t rat me out”
Taehyung finished undressing and smiled at Namjoon expectantly. The man seemed really shy now that Taehyung was only in his underwear, so he decided to let him some room to breathe and jumped inside the pool with a whoop, making Namjoon laugh.
He swam around for a little time and soon he felt a little splash of water and the proximity of another body beside his, and he turned to face Namjoon, who looked unfairly good with his hair wet and pushed back from his forehead.
“It’s nice, isn’t it?”
“It is, thank you for bringing me here”
They floated around for a while and Taehyung hadn’t felt so at peace in a really long time. Being there with Namjoon made him feel the calmest he had been in ages and he couldn’t stop staring at the man, who was floating on his back with his eyes closed and a relaxed smile.
At one point, they ended right beside each other and their arms brushed. Taehyung wanted to move his hand and interlock their fingers, wanting to know how it would felt like to stay with Namjoon like that forever.
“Yes?” he answered turning his face towards Namjoon’s and what he saw made the breath get caught in his throat. Namjoon was looking at him with such intensity his stomach filled with butterflies and his breath sped up. Namjoon straightened up and swam towards the border of the pool and he followed, always followed, wanting to know what Namjoon had to say.
“You are the most interesting person I know, you know? You are really special, like a breath of fresh air, I really like being around you”
“Hyung…” he sighed, moving closer to Namjoon and ending standing in between the man’s legs, the lukewarm water moving around them and making goosebumps form all over his body.
Namjoon’s hands moved and he started to run his fingers down Taehyung’s arms and then settled them on his waist, squeezing him softly. Taehyung couldn’t stop staring at Namjoon’s pretty eyes and he leaned closer, their mouths now mere breaths apart. What would happen if he closed the distance? Namjoon’s lips looked so pink and plump, he wanted very bad to taste them and find out if they were as soft as they looked.
A sudden crash could be heard outside the pool and they separated from each other with a start, looking at the door in fear. After some seconds passed, it was obvious no one was outside, but the spell was already broken. Namjoon looked down while biting his lip and let out a long sigh before staring back at Taehyung.
“I-I think we have to go”
“Yeah” Taehyung said breathlessly, trying to mask his disappointment. “We better go now”
The next day, Namjoon had already left when Taehyung was back at work and he wanted to contact him and talk to him about what happened the night before, but he never asked Namjoon for his phone number.
At first he was a little bummed but then thought that they would have a chance to talk the next time Namjoon stayed at the hotel and he continued with his routine, hoping he would see the other soon to have the important conversation that had been due for a long time.
Sadly, Namjoon didn’t come back.
Weeks and weeks passed with no sign of the older man and Taehyung grew more and more restless, jumping between being worried about Namjoon and angry for being ghosted like that. Namjoon didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would do that to anyone, but did he really know the man at all?
His friends had realized soon something was worrying him but had not mentioned anything, until the day they found him lying on the sofa and staring at the wall. Jimin, muttering a soft “my baby”, had jumped to hug him from behind and Hoseok and Jungkook had prepared a quick greasy dinner for everyone and spent the day cuddling and trying to cheer him up, and Taehyung felt grateful for having such amazing and caring friends.
Taehyung had been moping around the house for the whole weekend when Hoseok, sick of seeing him so sad and forlorn (and wanting him to shower and shave that messy stubble on his chin), ordered him to get ready to go out.
“Yoongi-hyung is finally opening his bakery and he wants us all to be there for him, so stop acting like a withered flower and let’s go!”
“I have literally seen Yoongi-hyung like, four times in my whole life” Taehyung said in a deadpan voice.
“Kim Taehyung!” Hoseok’s voice had reached that scary tone that meant he was ready to kick your ass if needed and Taehyung recognized a lost battle when he saw one, so he simply muttered a “jeez, ok hyung” and left to get ready. He didn’t want to go out and socialize (something not normal at all on him), but he guessed it wouldn’t hurt to listen to Hoseok and go out with his friends for a while.
They arrived to the bakery in no time, since it was in a short walking distance from their apartment and Taehyung was hit with the sweet smell of the delicious pastries and cakes as soon as they opened the door, making his mouth water and his stomach grumble in complaint.
The place wasn’t exactly filled to the brim, but there were enough people inside to prevent him from seeing Yoongi, who was behind the counter filling one of the shelves with scones while his assistant, Chaewon, managed the cash register.
Jungkook pouted because he wanted to greet Yoongi, but they decided to wait on the queue with the rest of the people there to order something and talk to Yoongi later once they had found a table and he had less work. Taehyung stood with the others, thinking about maybe start a new painting once they were back home, when a really familiar laugh made him stiffen and turn to the front of the queue.
There, standing beside Yoongi and laughing at something the man was saying, were Namjoon and Seokjin.
The gasp that came from Taehyung’s mouth must have been really loud, because instead of the chatter that had been present since they arrived, silence had fell in the bakery and everyone was looking at him. Everyone included Namjoon, whose eyes grew three sizes bigger when he saw Taehyung and the paper cup he was holding in his hand fell to the floor, splashing coffee everywhere.
Namjoon didn’t seem to mind about the mess, despite Yoongi’s loud complaints, because he took the steps that separated him from Taehyung to stand in front of him and Taehyung gulped, wondering how he had forgotten how handsome and dreamy Namjoon was.
“Taehyung-ah, what are you doing here?”
“We came to see Yoongi-hyu-“ Taehyung started, interrupting himself when he realized Namjoon was actually there, in Seoul, in Yoongi’s bakery. “Wait, what are YOU doing here!? How do you know Yoongi?”
“Well, Seokjin and I live here now and Yoongi is that good hyung of mine I told you about, the one who made music with me”
“WHAT!? YOU ARE LIVING HERE!?”
“We got a promotion and they moved us to the Korean HQs four weeks ago. I just finished moving in my new flat two days ago”
“So, it’s definitive then?”
“Yeah” Namjoon answered with a small smile, rubbing his neck in that nervous way of his. “Taehyung, I´m sorry I couldn’t say goodbye properly that time and I wish I could have talked to you about what was happening; that night I was really stressed about work and you helped a lot and I had no idea we wouldn’t come back for so long, I would have told you if that was the case. After that, I wanted to contact you so bad, but I had no idea how”
“I can’t believe we live in 2019 and we didn’t give each other our phone number” Taehyung laughed and Namjoon sighed and smiled back at him in relief.
“We were pretty dumb, weren’t we? I… I have been thinking about you for ages”
Taehyung felt his cheeks growing warm and was pretty sure he was red like a tomato; how could that wonderful man say those things to him like they were nothing?
“Yes” Namjoon stared right into Taehyung’s eyes and then said, a little breathlessly and with a soft timid voice. “Taehyung-ah, I like you very much, will you go out with me?”
“Fuck yes!” Taehyung answered, jumping into Namjoon’s arms and smacking a loud kiss on his lips.
After that, he did it a second time, softer and for a longer time and Namjoon caressed his cheek delicately before diving back in and pressing their lips together again, holding Taehyung tight.
"Dude, stop kissing, you are blocking the queue and I have a business to run and bring to the top!"