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Namjoon gets in his own head a lot.

He thinks anyone who knows him would react to that sentence with a deadpan glare, or maybe just a withering look, as if to say why are you wasting my time stating the obvious? But sometimes Namjoon needs to say it to himself, to remind himself that the layers upon layers of heavy thought and overthought in his brain aren’t — well, they aren’t average, maybe.

Namjoon gets in his own head a lot, and he’s spent a decent amount of his life not liking what was in there, and now, as a sort-of-mostly healed up kind of person who is trying very hard to be better and like himself more, he still finds himself trying to navigate his way out of his own mind.

All this is to say, sometimes Namjoon has trouble letting himself enjoy things. Or act on whims. Or chase after a particular inclination without reservation because — because god, what is it even like to think something, and then do it?

Taehyung doesn’t have these kind of hang-ups. Taehyung, absolutely incomprehensibly, seems to operate his mind and life in one straight path from idea to execution. When they first started dating, when Namjoon started to get to know him better, he thought Taehyung was just impulsive, but that’s not quite it — he’s just sure of himself, resolutely, like it’s no big deal. And Namjoon knows this about Taehyung, intellectually, he knows it, but sometimes it takes him by surprise.

Sometimes, they are approximately one-quarter into foreplay, by Namjoon’s calculations (and they’ve barely been together for five months, so maybe he’s not supposed to have precise calculations of these things, maybe it means their sex is a little too predictable, but Namjoon has always really found comfort in routine), and Taehyung says, “Hyung,” while Namjoon is kissing his neck and when Namjoon picks his head up to look at him, Taehyung says, “I think I want you to choke me.”

And Namjoon has to pull away, has to sit up as he looks at Taehyung and says, “I’m sorry, what?”

Taehyung just blinks at him, looking unfazed. Though to be fair, Namjoon’s not sure he’s ever seen Taehyung truly fazed by much. “I like your hands. I’ve been thinking about you choking me.” He says it all so casually, lying there on his unmade bed in his underwear.

Namjoon swallows, trying not to feel nervous. “I’ve never, uh, done that. Isn’t it kind of like...dangerous?”

Taehyung hums. “We could research it.”

Namjoon nods. Research — that’s more his speed. “Like right...now?”

“I mean, I guess it can wait,” Taehyung says, but he’s sitting up, looking less interested in the sex they were headed toward. That’s a funny thing about Taehyung — he’s a very sexual person, Namjoon’s come to learn, but he can be snapped out of it in a second by almost any distraction, if it’s big enough. Maybe when you look like Taehyung, the promise of sex is just always right on the horizon, and you don’t put too much weight in it anymore. Namjoon can’t personally relate, but it’s interesting to watch, anyway.

But that’s fine with Namjoon, really. Sure, the sex would have been nice, but he already knows that he’s going to be lightly consumed by the anxiety that flooded him a moment ago for the foreseeable future, that he wouldn’t have been able to get back into it.

Why are you anxious?, he’s asking himself, but then a different part of his brain is yelling I DON’T KNOW HOW TO CHOKE SOMEBODY and then there’s a small little voice wondering is this what he’s wanted this whole time???? Has the sex been bad??? Should I have asked if he wanted to be choked?????? and he can hear every one of those question marks, thank you.

“Hey,” Taehyung says now. “You look very freaked out. Sorry, was that like, too weird?”

Namjoon feels his eyes go wide, and then he blinks hard, and then he shakes his head. “No! Not weird. You’re not weird.”

“Okay,” Taehyung says slowly, sounding disbelieving, but kind. Taehyung is so kind all the time, it makes Namjoon achey. “So why are you sitting there looking like your brain just exploded?”

“I just feel, um. Bad?” Namjoon says, not sure how to put it into words without fully just spewing his every waking thought onto Taehyung, who did nothing wrong, and who definitely does not deserve that punishment. “I didn’t know you wanted that, and I don’t, uh, know how to do that, and, uh — has the sex been bad?” He can’t help it, he needs to know, needs to put an answer to this particular anxiety.

Taehyung just tilts his head, looking surprised. “Bad? Oh, hyung, no, it hasn’t been bad. The sex has been really good!” He’s nodding encouragingly now, and Namjoon gives him a nod back, still not entirely convinced. “Really good and fun. I really like having sex with you! I mean, of course I do, or else we wouldn’t do it so much. There’s just other stuff I like, too.”

“Other stuff,” Namjoon mutters to himself.

Taehyung nods, and god, he’s so cute. Namjoon likes him so much. But thinking about how much he likes Taehyung just makes him kind of stressed again that he hasn’t done enough, that Taehyung hasn’t been satisfied, and it’s a horrible little spiral he’s having currently, so to distract himself, he asks “What...stuff?”

“I guess like…” Taehyung trails off, thinking about it. “I don’t know, saying fetishes feels too dirty. But maybe they’re really dirty? I don’t have a good gauge of these things.”

“Fetishes,” Namjoon repeats. It does feel dirty. Taehyung giggles, shrugs.

“Everybody has something they’re into, right? I just have like, a few more.”

“Can I...could we talk about that?” Namjoon manages, and feels unbelievably proud of himself. His therapist would be proud of him, which is maybe a weird thought to have as he talks to his boyfriend about fetishes half-naked in bed. But, you know, small victories.

“Sure,” Taehyung says easily. He looks at Namjoon curiously. “I don’t really know what you wanna talk about, though.”

“I guess I’m just...curious,” Namjoon says, though the word choice is distinctly incorrect. Fascinated is maybe more accurate, but at the edge of the fascination is a distinct coating of confusion. “Um, about what you like? Or would...want?”

Taehyung hums. “Oh. Okay. Fun! I have a lot.”

“Huh,” Namjoon says weakly, feeling kind of overwhelmed. Taehyung looks at him like he’s considering.

“I feel like I’m not explaining right. You look stressed.”

“I’m a little stressed,” Namjoon admits with a blush.

Taehyung leans into Namjoon’s space, giving him an awkwardly-posed sideways hug. Namjoon reciprocates the best he can, and eventually just ends up hauling Taehyung into his lap. Taehyung wraps his arms around Namjoon’s back and presses a little kiss to his shoulder.

“Why are you stressed?” Taehyung asks him quietly. “I don’t want you to be stressed.”

“That’s really sweet and everything, but I’m always stressed, Taehyung,” Namjoon says, aiming halfway between joking and serious.

Taehyung pulls back and pokes the tip of Namjoon’s nose. “Well, tell me why you’re stressed right now, and then maybe I can help.”

“I’ve never done anything like...like that. What if we’re not compatible, or something? What if you need...someone different?” Namjoon voices hesitantly. It’s this weird little dance he has to do, this new-relationship thing, where he has to try and be honest and vulnerable without feeling like a mess, the kind of mess you don’t want to date. Taehyung has never made him feel that way — but unfortunately, that’s not enough evidence to shut up the voice in his head that worries about it.

Taehyung’s looking at him, thoughtful again. “I don’t think that’s something to worry about.” He seems like he’s gonna stop there, and Namjoon’s about to open his mouth and try very hard to say something like please explain without seeming desperate — he needs reasons, he needs supporting evidence — when Taehyung opens his to speak more. “Just because you’ve never done it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. I mean, maybe you don’t want to, and that’s fine. I think even if we had vanilla sex for the rest of our relationship, it wouldn’t make me want anyone different.” His face is serious and patient, and it makes his words feel a little heavier.

“Oh,” Namjoon mumbles, embarrassed by the open affection. “Well that’s...really sweet.”

“I really like you,” Taehyung says easily, a smile growing on his expression. “Sex is sex, but the other stuff is important to me, too. You know, the stuff where you’re like super sweet and super funny and super good to me. If I had to get out my weird sex urges alone in front of weird porn, then that would be fine, I think. I’d still want you.”

Namjoon doesn’t know how to reply, so he leans forward, buries his face in Taehyung’s neck. “Okay,” he says again.

“But,” Taehyung starts. Namjoon pulls back to look at him. “That’s all, you know, hypothetical worst case scenario. Can I ask, like, I know you asked about me, and we can get there, but. What about you?”

“What about me what?” Namjoon asks back, feeling dense.

Taehyung shifts in his lap, looks at him curiously. “What do you like?”

Namjoon goes pink. “I don’t...just, regular stuff?”

Taehyung hums, doesn’t say anything else. “You seem embarrassed.”

“I don’t really, um, talk about this stuff a lot,” Namjoon offers as an explanation. It’s true, anyway.

“I think it’s good to talk about,” Taehyung says. “It’s not embarrassing. We’ve already had sex, hyung. Like, a good amount of it. And anyway, I am impossible to embarrass. Just try me.”

Now that Namjoon believes wholeheartedly. It’s just...hm. “I don’t know, Taehyung-ah, I don’t know what I like,” Namjoon says, a whine in his voice.

Taehyung leans in and kisses his cheek. “That’s okay, baby. If you wanted, I could help you try to figure it out? And then maybe I could do something for you, you know?”

Sometimes Namjoon feels overwhelmed by Taehyung, by the way he’s just generous and sweet by default. He has a mouse living in his kitchen and he refused to buy traps, because of course he did, and he says that he likes how it’s been getting more comfortable with him when he feeds it. This is very different than the mouse thing, but it feels kind of the same to Namjoon. Maybe Namjoon is the mouse, being shown an insane amount of grace from this beautiful boy.

“Okay,” Namjoon agrees, still feeling a little embarrassed, but warm over the way Taehyung’s looking at him, so sweet and earnest.

“Okay!” Taehyung agrees enthusiastically with a clap of his hands. He sits back up, scoots off of Namjoon to look at him properly. “So let’s look at the facts.”

“And what are the facts?” Namjoon asks, smiling. He likes when Taehyung gets worked up about stuff, and it’s a nice distraction from the fact that the topic he’s getting worked up over is Namjoon’s potential kinks.

“Well, here’s the stuff I know you like. Stop me if I’m getting it wrong.” He waits for Namjoon to nod before he starts, and Namjoon smiles again. “You like bottoming.”

“You like bottoming too,” Namjoon protests.

Taehyung gives him a look. “This isn’t about me, hyung. Let me talk about you.”

“Okay,” Namjoon mumbles.

Taehyung claps his hands again, like he’s trying to focus himself. “Okay, so you like eating me out. Actually, you just really like oral, right? Like, you really like oral.”

Namjoon feels himself blush, covers his face with his hands, and Taehyung pouts. “Hey, don’t be embarrassed. Why would it be embarrassing?”

Namjoon doesn’t know how to explain it, because he doesn’t know exactly what’s causing it — yeah, he’s kind of embarrassed about sex just like generally, but this is something else, he thinks. Maybe it’s the validation. Maybe he’s not used to something deep and intimate being spread out in front of him and someone saying that it’s okay. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t know how to do anything without considering and reconsidering and downplaying and pretending he never wanted it in the first place, and this, the act of Taehyung looking him up and down and inside and out and saying “okay, great” makes him feel selfish and stupid.

Maybe his therapist wouldn’t be so proud of him for this conversation after all.

“It’s like — I spend a lot of time, um. Convincing myself not to want things?” He says nervously with a wince. Honestly, he didn’t really want to get here — it’s heavy, this train of thought, and Taehyung’s such a light and airy person. He doesn’t want to weigh him down.

“What do you mean, baby?” Taehyung asks patiently. Namjoon feels like he’s stuck inside of a washing machine, being buffeted around in the wash cycle, tossed against the metal walls, and he can see Taehyung outside the front window, just standing still. He cannot possibly relate to something so calm.

“If something is just — just for me, to feel good, it doesn’t seem like...I don’t know, it doesn’t seem like it has a purpose,” Namjoon says slowly, trying to make the words seem right. It’s still not quite there, not quite right, but it’s scary to say stuff like this out loud, so it’s fine for now.

Taehyung is frowning at him. “The purpose is making you feel good. I want you to feel good, Joonie-hyung. You deserve to feel good.”

And that’s something to say, isn’t it? It hits Namjoon like a punch, but warm and soft, because it’s Taehyung, and he’s made of clouds. Well, clouds wouldn’t be warm, but — you get it.

“That’s really nice to say, Taehyungie, but it’s hard to like. Believe that, sometimes? It’s not a big deal, really, it’s just —”

“I think it’s a big deal,” Taehyung interrupts. “I want you to be happy and feel good all the time. Not just for like, sex, I mean, but sex is part of that. So even if you’re having trouble believing that you deserve it, just. You can tell me about it, and I’ll always believe you deserve it, so you don’t need to worry about it.”

Namjoon pauses, takes that in, and then laughs under his breath. “This got really serious. Sorry, I...get really serious, sometimes.”

“I know,” Taehyung says with a gentle smile. “And that’s okay, I don’t mind you being serious. I like when you tell me things you think, even when I don’t agree with them.”

Namjoon nods. He reaches his hands out to grab Taehyung again, pull him in close, because he feels a little raw, after all that. Taehyung comes easily, wrapping Namjoon up like he always does. “Tell your brain it can’t be mean to you anymore because I’ll fight it,” Taehyung says quietly, kissing Namjoon’s cheek again.

Namjoon giggles into the crook of Taehyung’s neck. “Okay,” he says, instead of telling Taehyung that’s not how it works, because Taehyung knows already.

“Can I go back to stating the facts? Now that we’ve made it clear that you do, in fact, deserve to feel good all the time.”

Namjoon blushes, shakes his head fondly, but he says, “Yeah.”

“So oral, right? Was I right?” Taehyung asks, sounding curious.

“Yeah,” Namjoon agrees, trying not to feel weird about it. Taehyung pushes Namjoon so that he’s laying down, and then he rolls off next to Namjoon to lay on his side, looking him over with his head propped up on his hand.

“What do you like about it?” Taehyung asks.

“Hm,” Namjoon says. He hasn’t thought much about that — he’s tried to analyze why he likes it, looked at weird psychosexual articles online, but. He never focuses much on the things about it that make him feel good. “I like…” he trails off, thinking, and then he feels embarrassed again at the idea of saying any of it out loud.

“You can say anything, you know,” Taehyung urges him. “I’m immune to shame, remember?”

“I like my mouth feeling full,” Namjoon says quietly, looking at Taehyung cautiously. Taehyung doesn’t react much, just nods.

“So you like giving blowjobs. Sure. What about fingers? In your mouth, I mean,” Taehyung asks.

Namjoon doesn’t have to think very hard about that. He nods. “Yeah, that too.”

“See? We’re getting somewhere,” Taehyung says, sounding pleased. “Okay, facefucking?”

Namjoon does blush at that, at the vulgarity of it in this quiet conversation, but he powers through, and Taehyung grins at him. “I don’t know,” Namjoon says honestly.

“I don’t know how good I’d be at it, to be honest,” Taehyung says with a scrunch of his nose. “I already get kind of twitchy when you blow me, what if it, like...hurts?”

Namjoon thinks about Taehyung standing in front of him, sensitive and reactive, holding Namjoon by the hair where he’s crouched on his knees, pressing into Namjoon’s mouth at his own pace, bucking into Namjoon’s throat by accident because he does, he gets a little too jumpy when Namjoon sucks him off, and — Namjoon swallows, mouth suddenly feeling very empty.

“I changed my mind. I like that,” Namjoon says quietly.

“Oh,” Taehyung says, eyebrows raising in surprise. “Okay. Alright. Do you like it…because I might hurt you?” He asks, sounding cautious and curious.

Namjoon thinks about that for a second, but he shakes his head. “You’ve never hurt me before. I like that you get worked up. And I don’t mind choking on you a little,” he says with a sheepish grin. Taehyung’s jaw drops open a little for a second, and then he blinks and nods slowly.

“Okay. Great, yeah. Great,” Taehyung says. He’s quiet for another moment, and then he clears his throat, rolls out of the bed.

“Where are you going?” Namjoon asks, furrowing his eyebrows.

“I just wanna get something to write,” Taehyung calls back as he scurries out of the room. Namjoon’s still confused, and he stays confused until Taehyung walks back with a notebook and a pen. When he sits back down on the bed, he makes a big vertical line halfway through the paper, writes “Joonie’s list” on top of the left column, and “Taehyungie’s list” on the right column. Under “Joonie’s list”, he scribbles blowjobs, fingers in his mouth, facefucking.

“Organized,” Namjoon comments lightly.

“I have a terrible memory,” Taehyung says. “And I would hate to forget any of these. Okay, what else?”

“You write in your list for a minute,” Namjoon prompts him, feeling kind of — kind of excited? Taehyung’s energy, all smiling enthusiasm (and a little bit of arousal, if Namjoon’s not mistaken), is contagious.

“Okay,” Taehyung agrees easily. He moves the pen over to his side, and the first one he writes is choking. “That was covered, I guess.” Then he writes feet.

“Huh,” Namjoon says. Taehyung nods at him. “I always wondered what that was about. Like, why feet?”

“Don’t know,” Taehyung says easily with a shrug. “Just like ‘em. I think they’re hot, I don’t know why.”

“What do you want to happen with the feet?” Namjoon asks, kind of fascinated by this.

“Well,” Taehyung starts, drawing the word out. “I like giving foot massages, and kissing them, and licking them.”

“Huh,” Namjoon says again, trying to remain open-minded. “Footjobs. Is that a thing?”

“Yeah,” Taehyung comments easily. “Kind of difficult to accomplish, though, and not like, you know, the most pleasurable, I would imagine, but the visual is nice.”

“Huh.”

Taehyung turns back to the list and writes collars and leashes.

“Wow, you really have some, huh?” Namjoon asks. He wonders the sheer level of confidence it takes to calmly write down that you enjoy leashes, sexually, and marvels at Taehyung’s existence for a moment.

“Told you. No shame, a healthy sexual appetite and an open mind will do wonders for you,” Taehyung says.

“You have to explain the collars and leashes to me, though,” Namjoon says.

“There’s something about, like, hmm...being controlled,” Taehyung says. “And that could happen lots of ways, I guess, but I like the visual, physical part of that. And I think I look good in a collar,” he says with a sly grin.

“Do you...act like a dog?” Namjoon asks. He thinks briefly of a time a couple weeks ago when Namjoon made some joke while they were cooking and Taehyung got on his knees with puppy hands up by his chin, mimed panting. It was a joke, he was laughing, but. He wonders, now.

Taehyung, in lieu of answering, just writes down the words pet play.

“Separate. But connected, I guess,” Taehyung says.

“Wow,” Namjoon comments.

“Bad wow?” Taehyung asks, looking the closest to nervous that Namjoon has seen him tonight.

Namjoon shakes his head. “No, I don’t think so. It’s just like...a whole other world to me”

Taehyung fidgets for a moment. “I’ve never told anybody all of this.”

“Really?” Namjoon asks, the surprise audible in his voice. Taehyung smiles a little.

“Why is that so shocking?”

“You just seem like...the kind of person who would tell someone. Who would, you know, act on it,” Namjoon says.

Taehyung clicks his pen a few times, in another act approaching nervousness. “I’ve always been worried someone else would...I don’t know. Think it’s gross? And yeah, I’m immune to embarrassment, but I don’t really want anyone to make me feel gross.”

“I don’t think it’s gross,” Namjoon tells him quietly, because he needs Taehyung to know that suddenly.

Taehyung smiles at him again. “Yeah. I didn’t think you would. You’re really good.”

And maybe it’s silly, but Namjoon is touched for a moment at that kind of trust. He looks down, says, “You’re good, too.”

Taehyung’s smile goes brighter, eyes crinkling from it, and Namjoon has trouble not focusing on how beautiful he looks like that. Taehyung’s so good at reducing him to dramatics, and it doesn’t help that Namjoon was already kind of dramatic to begin with.

“Thanks,” Taehyung says, moves over to kiss him softly. And then, when he pulls back, he asks, “What kind of porn do you watch?”

 

They go on for a while — for all the ways the two of them communicate differently, they can get lost on a topic together for ages. It happened on their second date, the two of them sat in a restaurant for way too long talking about animals, about the ethics of zoos, about how they should really both be vegetarians, about how Taehyung wants a farm one day, about how Namjoon likes to find small creatures on the beach. And then suddenly the restaurant was closing and the staff was glaring at them and Namjoon found it easy to laugh along with Taehyung’s embarrassed giggle before they left and found a park bench to sit on instead, to keep talking on.

Tonight they’re not talking about vegetarianism or Taehyung’s favorite mangas or even which Big Bang song is objectively the best; tonight they’re talking about sex.

Namjoon almost thinks he’s getting kind of desensitized to this kind of thing by the time Taehyung has finished his list. It’s longer now, and he had to consult his porn bookmarks to feel like he covered everything (or, most everything, at least.) His list has now grown to include, in Taehyung’s scrawled writing, exhibitionism, lingerie, overstimulation, spanking, and tentacles.

“Tentacles?” Namjoon asked. “That one’s not possible.”

“I know,” Taehyung said with a sigh, shaking his head ruefully.

Namjoon, for his part, feels kind of comforted by this list — if Taehyung can trust Namjoon to sit here and listen to him talk about why he’s sexually attracted to tentacles, then of course Namjoon can trust Taehyung with his stuff, even if he’s less confident about it, even if he’s not used to even thinking about it head-on, let alone telling someone else.

The problem is, his list hasn’t gotten any longer. Taehyung doesn’t seem concerned, though.

“I get it now, it’s because you don’t think about this kind of stuff. When something feels really good for you it’s like, you try to ignore it. That’s what you said, right?” Taehyung asks him. It’s really late now, past one in the morning, but Namjoon doesn’t feel tired. He likes talking to Taehyung, about anything and everything, and his nerves over this whole thing really have calmed. And now they’ve reached Namjoon’s most familiar topic, the intense analysis of the way his own brain works.

What Taehyung’s saying, though — Namjoon never thought of it like that. But it makes sense, he thinks, the way he finds a lot of the things Taehyung says make sense, even when people make fun of him for meandering around his sentences for so long they start to lose meaning. Namjoon knows what he means, most of the time, and he usually likes the way Taehyung said it.

“I guess,” Namjoon agrees.

“So I bet you do have more things to put on your list. They’re just harder to find,” Taehyung says. “That’s why I asked you about porn.”

Namjoon’s answer was boring, though, and not very illuminating. He doesn’t watch porn too often anymore, but when he does he finds himself gravitating toward anything that looks genuinely amateur, where the people involved smile a little at each other and hold hands. He likes when it seems almost real.

“Do you think that’s like, a voyeurism thing?” Taehyung asked, sounding interested.

“I think it’s more...I just like when they seem like they love each other,” Namjoon said back, cheeks going pink from it.

Namjoon’s thinking about it again now, and wishes he had a better answer for Taehyung.

“Let’s watch some porn,” Taehyung says decisively. “I know you said you don’t search for anything, but — I just wanna watch together and see if I can do some detective work.”

“You’d make a great detective,” Namjoon says earnestly.

Taehyung offers a proud smile. “Thank you,” he says, then leans over the side of his bed to pick up his laptop, which he keeps on the floor a startling amount of the time.

Namjoon watches him boot it up and log in, and open a series of bookmark folders and subfolders in his browser.

“How concerned are you about someone finding your porn?” Namjoon jokes, and Taehyung rolls his eyes at him.

“I bring my computer with me to work sometimes,” Taehyung says in explanation. Work being the apartment in Gangnam where the children he nannies live, and okay, fair. After some amount of searching, Taehyung opens a video, sets the laptop in front of them. “I just picked something like, kinda tame.”

“Great. Glad that’s the word we’re using for my taste,” Namjoon says, making a face. “Tame.”

“I take it back, you’re wild and ferocious. Unhinged,” Taehyung says, smiling at him. “Feral, even.”

“I’m not feral,” Namjoon says with a sigh. “Don’t humor me, it’s sad.”

Taehyung giggles, presses into Namjoon’s side. “Tame isn’t bad.”

Namjoon isn’t convinced, but doesn’t push it, just settles himself on the bed and puts his attention on the porn he forgot was playing.

It’s kind of a weird night, he realizes.

They go through a couple videos, Taehyung seemingly trying to gauge his reactions as they go. He likes the blowjob scene in the second one, but realizes as it ends that he wished it ended differently and that’s — oh. Huh. That’s something. “I…” He starts, feeling uncertain. Taehyung looks at him eagerly, and it’s kind of funny, the curious look on his face as he sits there hard in his underwear.

“I like it when...they come on the other person’s face. Or body,” Namjoon says, face heating. Taehyung, though, looks delighted.

“Oh! Okay! Cool,” he says, reaching for the notebook on the other side of the bed and scrawling down cum!, and Namjoon is helplessly endeared by the exclamation point. “How come you’ve never asked for that?”

“I always just thought it was kind of...I don’t know, gross,” Namjoon says sheepishly.

“It’s not,” Taehyung says easily, setting the notebook down. He scoots back into Namjoon’s space, the casual press of their skin a little too warm and sensitive to be casual for Namjoon, who’s been hard for a while. They both have been, and he’s kind of been waiting to see what they’re going to do about that. “What do you like about it?” Taehyung asks, the same way he asked earlier, because he’s taking his detective work seriously.

“I like the mess,” Namjoon says honestly.

Taehyung hums, brings a hand to run through Namjoon’s hair. “You like things messy, don’t you?” And there’s something shifting in his tone, a little darker than the way he was asking earlier. It lands him somewhere between curiosity and dirty talk, and Namjoon finds that he doesn’t mind a bit.

He bites his lip, nods because he doesn’t have a better answer than yes. Yeah, he does, doesn’t he? He hadn’t stopped to think about it before, and why had he never stopped to think about any of this before? He likes when he ends up a mess during sex, and — and he’s thinking about this, but he could be saying it to Taehyung, who’s looking at him with interest and who wants to hear about it, wants to know.

“Yeah,” Namjoon says, nods again. “I like when we’re sweaty, and...when you get too much lube on me.”

Taehyung’s grinning at him, a little smirky around the edges. “You’re doing so good, hyung.”

“Oh,” Namjoon mutters. “Thanks.”

Taehyung leans in and kisses him, slow and warm and not really enough at all. Namjoon wants to kiss him some more, wants to kick Taehyung’s laptop closed with his heel and — well, do something, but he’s still thinking about the cum thing, and Taehyung told him he was doing good, and so he says, “It’s also kind of, like, possessive.”

“The cum?” Taehyung asks, looking pulled out of whatever moment he was in, but not upset about it.

Namjoon nods. “Yeah, the cum.”

“Interesting,” Taehyung says slowly. “So do you like other stuff like that? Hickeys? Marks?” He moves, resituates himself, and now he’s straddled over one of Namjoon’s thighs, looking at him with eyes that seem more turned on than curious.

“I think, yeah,” Namjoon says quietly, having trouble looking away from Taehyung’s mouth.

“You want me to mark you up?” Taehyung asks him, quiet and sharp, eyes trained on him. “You want everybody to know you’re mine, baby?”

“Taehyung-ah,” Namjoon mutters in a rush, wrapping an arm around Taehyung’s back and pulling him forward until they’re kissing again, and Taehyung’s dick is pressed hard against Namjoon’s side. He rocks himself forward against Namjoon and both of them gasp, too worked up for too little, but it’s been a steady build of things, really, and god, Taehyung is beautiful like this.

It’s a desperate, messy few minutes of trying to get their underwear off and move Taehyung’s laptop and arrange themselves in a way where no one’s bones are poking into the other. And after all of this, after hours of talking about sex and watching sex and discussing the intricacies of the ways that their weird human brains wanted it all to happen, after all that — this is enough, Namjoon thinks. Moving against each other with pants and whines and messy kisses, precome rubbing on each others’ stomachs (and Namjoon keeps hearing Taehyung’s voice in his head, You like things messy, don’t you?)

Taehyung mouths at his throat, rougher than usual, more teeth than usual and Namjoon likes it, and it feels like when he was eleven and the optometrist put Namjoon’s first pair of glasses on his face and suddenly he could just see a bunch of stuff he didn’t know he was missing. Overdramatic metaphor maybe but Namjoon’s perilously close to an orgasm, so he allows himself the overdramatics. Taehyung’s teeth are biting at his collarbone and Namjoon brings a hand up to tangle in Taehyung’s hair and it’s this animal thing between them, too intense and not intense enough.

Taehyung reaches a hand down between them, gets it around Namjoon’s dick and strokes him fast and it’s a losing battle, Namjoon thinks. He’s too turned on to do much besides grip at Taehyung and come, feeling vaguely overheated. Taehyung makes a satisfied noise, leans up to kiss him quick before his hand’s on his own dick, stroking himself and looking that particular Taehyung brand of undone and beautiful, the expression on his face desperate and determined and god, Namjoon feels so dumb-lucky sometimes to be near this boy. It’s a sentimental thought, and Namjoon’s usually full of those, but it all kind of goes out the window when Taehyung whines like he does when he’s close to coming, and suddenly Namjoon realizes he’s aimed over Namjoon’s torso, repositioned himself in the heat of it all. And fuck, he’s gonna — and fuck, he does.

Taehyung’s come hits Namjoon’s stomach, and it’s a weird kind of fire that gets lit in Namjoon’s mind. A strange little feeling of satisfaction. It’s hard to describe, and Namjoon has spent years learning how to describe all the weird things his mind does.

“Fuck,” he whispers, and Taehyung pitches forward, leans his forehead on Namjoon’s shoulder and lets out a heavy, shaky breath.

“Yeah,” he agrees. He rests there for a moment, and then pulls back, looks Namjoon over. “You look hot,” he murmurs, words running together like they do sometimes. Namjoon feels warm at the comment, warmer when Taehyung’s hand reaches out to run through the mess, press it into his skin, and wow, that’s — huh.

Namjoon feels at a loss. He sees a fork in the road ahead of him, one path labelled try to figure out what it means that you’re really into this and the other labelled fuck it, man. A glance at Taehyung’s little alarm clock tells him that it’s nearly two in the morning, and Taehyung’s looking at him flushed and sleepy-eyed and honestly? Namjoon chooses fuck it, man. He leans forward, wraps an arm around the back of Taehyung’s neck to pull him into a kiss, and Taehyung makes a little humming noise in the back of his throat, sounding sleepy and sated.

“That was fun,” Taehyung says with a loose grin. He brings up his hand to run across Namjoon’s collarbone. “Got a little overenthusiastic, I guess.”

Namjoon cranes his neck down and sees red marks blooming there, a few in a crooked row, and he has a similar warm feeling at the sight of them. Warm like hot wax pooled in a candle, warm in a melted sort of way.

“It’s fine,” he says lightly, not sure if it actually is or not. Fuck it, man, he reminds himself, and wills the panicked chord of self-analysis out of his head for the moment.

Taehyung rolls out of his lap, grabs Namjoon’s underwear from earlier where it’s hanging off the side of the bed, and wipes it across Namjoon’s stomach to get rid of the mess. Namjoon huffs a small fond laugh at the act, the gross utility of it.

“It was fun,” he agrees quietly, and Taehyung smiles at him. He tosses Namjoon’s underwear over where the rest of his clothes ended up, and settles into the bed. He looks so sweet bundling himself under the covers, and Namjoon’s always been impressed with Taehyung’s sheer duality. He settles himself next to Taehyung, reaching to turn off the lamp next to the bed before he huddles close enough that Taehyung can wrap around him loosely, the way he likes to do.

“Hyung,” Taehyung says softly, eyes closed.

“Hm?” Namjoon asks.

“Thanks for talking about all that with me.”

“I like talking with you, Taehyung.”

A grin spreads on Taehyung’s face, eyes still closed, and Namjoon smiles back, kind of wants to reach out and hold his face, kind of wants to say god, I really like you. Taehyung looks so sleepy, though, that Namjoon decides to do neither. Taehyung falls asleep like that, an arm and a leg wrapped around Namjoon, and Namjoon falls asleep ignoring every thought in his brain in favor of embracing contentedness.

++

When Namjoon wakes up, he’s by himself, and it’s strange enough that for a second Namjoon wonders if he dreamed the night before, if he’s home alone in his own bed. It’s kind of elaborate for a wet dream, sure, but his brain has done weirder things.

But no, he thinks. He’s naked and when he blinks open his eyes, he sees Taehyung’s Van Gogh poster with the drooping corner. Not a dream. Instead, just the reality where Taehyung woke up before him and didn’t stay in bed. Which is somehow even weirder.

Namjoon blinks sleepily, stretches with a yawn, and rolls out of bed. He blearily goes through Taehyung’s dresser, grabs a pair of underwear (which he doesn’t realize are covered in little cartoon sloths until he’s already pulling them on) and a pair of his own sweatpants that Taehyung swiped a month ago and keeps forgetting to return to him. It makes Namjoon happy in a blushed, flustered kind of way that their clothes keep getting mixed together after more and more nights spent at each other’s apartments.

He pads out of Taehyung’s bedroom into the sunlight of the rest of the apartment, all the windows drawn to let in the warm spring sun. Taehyung’s in the kitchen, clad only in a pair of underwear and half-singing a song to himself as he stirs something. Namjoon smiles, fond in the Saturday morning sun, and walks over to him.

“Hey,” Namjoon says when he gets close enough.

“Morning,” Taehyung replies cheerily, looking intently at a recipe written on a notecard that he has taped to the inside of his cabinet. His mom’s writing, his mom’s recipe, Namjoon knows from asking the first time he saw them.

Namjoon keeps walking, presses himself into Taehyung’s back and wraps his arms around Taehyung’s middle. Taehyung giggles.

“Good morning, hyung,” Taehyung says again, brings a hand to lace together with one of Namjoon’s. “Wanted to make breakfast.”

“You’re sweet,” Namjoon tells him, because it’s always so easy for him to say things like that in the morning. He feels them all the time but sometimes he can’t convince himself to say them out loud. It’s been a long time since he’s had someone to say nice things out loud to, and he was even worse at it then. He’s working on it.

Namjoon stays attached to Taehyung’s back, laughing when Taehyung says “Clingy,” in a little cartoon voice, only pulling away when Taehyung tells him he needs to finish cooking, and then Namjoon helps.

Neither of them are great cooks, but Taehyung can follow a recipe well, and Namjoon...well, Namjoon tries his best. Luckily the only thing Taehyung really needs from him is to stir the soup, and he can handle that.

Namjoon’s gotten attached to their domestic weekend mornings, over the past few months. He’s gotten attached to everything about Taehyung, really.

They work quietly in harmony as Taehyung finishes the soup, takes the rice out of the rice cooker and dumps it out into dishes. Namjoon makes coffee, Taehyung sets out chopsticks, and it feels vaguely like they’re playing house. He likes it, but part of him is always thinking, always wondering if Taehyung likes it the same way he does, wondering if it’s too much or not enough for having been together for five months, wondering — a lot of things. Namjoon is thinking about that, not panicked, just wondering, as he brings a bite of rice up to his mouth, and then Taehyung says, “I was thinking about the list.”

It takes Namjoon a second to register that. He swallows, looks at the way Taehyung keeps glancing down at Namjoon’s chest (the marks there are pink and made Namjoon’s cheeks flush when he looked at himself in the mirror this morning), and nods. “Okay. What about it?”

“I did some research this morning,” Taehyung says through a bite of food.

Namjoon raises his eyebrows. “Research?”

Taehyung smiles sheepishly. “I woke up early and couldn’t fall back asleep.”

“Tell me about your research,” Namjoon says.

“Well, I just wanted to know, like...I don’t know. I’ve never done most of the things on my list before like, in real life, with another person, and I don’t really know how to...negotiate that, I guess?” Taehyung says. “That’s the word a lot of stuff uses, negotiate. Because like, not all of it is something you would want to do, probably, and even the stuff that is, we should figure out what that would look like?”

It’s a lot of words all at once, and Namjoon thinks Taehyung might be...nervous? Which is an odd look on him. Namjoon just nods, aiming for a calm kind of energy. He feels strangely calm about it, really. Maybe because this is his speed — discussion, specifics, research. It’s written down in a list now, no longer something spontaneous and chaotic, and it feels like a way more manageable situation for Namjoon. “Okay. That makes sense, yeah.”

Taehyung nods at the encouragement. “It was kind of hard, because all the articles and stuff I read were for stuff that was a little more...intense. But it still applies, I guess.”

“Intense how?” Namjoon asks, curious.

“You know, like, BDSM stuff. A lot more pain stuff, humiliation stuff,” Taehyung says with a displeased look. “Restraints. That kind of thing.”

“Some of your stuff seems like pain stuff,” Namjoon points out.

Taehyung shrugs. “I just wanna be spanked a little. I don’t want a paddle involved. Do you...I mean...does that stuff appeal to you?”

Namjoon shakes his head, only going a little pink at Taehyung saying the words “I just wanna be spanked a little” over breakfast. “No, not really. The really hardcore pain stuff makes me uncomfortable, and humiliation seems...well, it seems like it would make me really sad,” he admits.

Taehyung grins. “Me too. Also, I don’t wanna be mean to you.”

“That’s good, I don’t want you to be mean to me either,” Namjoon says with a grin in return. He takes another bite of rice, and then, after a moment of hesitation where he considers how much harder it is to say these things in the sunlight of Taehyung’s kitchen rather than in bed, he says, “Um, restraints, like, being tied up?”

“Yeah, I think so,” Taehyung says.

“Hm. That might...I think I might like that?” Namjoon says, voice questioning, face hot. He wants to avoid Taehyung’s eye, but he doesn’t, holds Taehyung’s gaze as his eyes widen a little.

“Oh,” Taehyung says, sounding surprised. “Well that’s something, then.”

“I mean, if you don’t want —”

“No, I’m not saying that. We haven’t talked about whether any of this is something we want. Just...that’s something,” Taehyung says. He pauses, then curiosity seems to get the better of him. “Like...handcuffs? What are we talking about here? What’s it called, the Japanese thing with all the ropes, it’s really pretty — ”

Namjoon makes a pained expression, but Taehyung smiles at him while he talks, easy as anything. “I don’t know,” Namjoon says, cutting off Taehyung’s thoughts on Japanese rope bondage. “I’ve never thought about it that hard. I just like..sometimes you put my hands up above my head, right? And I like that,” he says, shifting his his seat.

“Oh, like a control thing,” Taehyung says casually.

“I guess?” Namjoon says.

“We have a lot in common here, actually,” Taehyung says. “That’s interesting.”

“Is that a good thing?” Namjoon asks nervously. His experience in gay communities, especially gay sex communities, is that everyone seems to want opposites. Visual opposites, sexual opposites, personality opposites — it’s overwhelming, sometimes, the thought that he might not fit into any of the correct boxes. He’s had guys tell him he wasn’t tall enough, or too tall, not muscular enough, not skinny enough. He’s had weird, regrettable hookups where some guy he barely knows has told him whether or not he should want to get fucked, based on some criteria Namjoon was having trouble keeping up with. He worries again, errantly, about compatibility.

But Taehyung, sitting across from him, looks unconcerned. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I don’t mind switching power dynamics, you know, depending on what we’re doing.” He leans forward, smirks at Namjoon. “I can help you lose control.”

Namjoon goes red, knows it from the heat of the blush that he can feel down to his chest, and Taehyung looks delighted, but he gets back on task. “I didn’t think you would mind either. We’re both, you know, pretty versatile, so I didn’t think it would be a big deal. But is it?”

Namjoon looks him over, finds Taehyung looking earnestly curious, and he shakes his head. “No, I guess not.”

“I never cared much about like, labels in sex, you know. I’ve dated guys who would only ever top and I guess that’s fine, you know, like, live your life. And this isn’t about that, like, none of this is really even about topping or bottoming, I just — if the person I was with wanted something, I think I would care more about that? I mean, I’m happy to get fucked all day, but —”

“Are you,” Namjoon comments dryly between bites of breakfast.

Taehyung pauses, smiles sweetly at him. “Yeah, wanna test it out?”

Namjoon snorts. “Stop saying things just to embarrass me.”

“You’re cute when you blush,” Taehyung says simply. “Anyway. My point was, sex is like...a collaboration.”

“Sure,” Namjoon says slowly, amused by this thought.

“It is! It’s not just about one of the people. I like you, I want you to feel good, and god, I desperately want you to live out your wildest fantasies. So if you want me to take control, no problem, you know?” Taehyung says simply. He sets his chopsticks down in his empty rice bowl, rests his head in his hand.

“I do know,” Namjoon says with a small smile. “Yeah, I...I feel the same way, I guess. I think I’m just worried I won’t be good at it.”

“At what?” Taehyung asks, looking confused by the very prospect.

“Taking...control.”

“Oh,” Taehyung says, looks like he’s thinking. “Well, if you’re worried about it, we can take it slow. But if you’re worried that you’re not what I want or something, that I want, I don’t know, some big buff boyfriend just because I wanna get choked, well. I don’t.” He laughs, and it makes Namjoon grin a little. “I want you. I like you.”

“I like you too,” Namjoon says.

“And like I said last night, if you don’t wanna do this stuff, that’s fine too. I’d rather be with you. This is all just extra.”

Namjoon nods, feeling oddly sentimental over the conversation. “Okay. Yeah. Sorry, I just...I worry, I guess.” He makes an apologetic face.

“I know, hyung,” Taehyung says kindly. “I’m not gonna say I get it, because I...well, everyone always tells me I should probably worry about things more than I actually do. But I don’t mind. You don’t need to apologize.”

It has the opposite of the intended effect, Namjoon thinks, because suddenly he becomes very worried about how good and kind Taehyung is, and what Namjoon is giving in return — and Taehyung says he doesn’t mind, but what if Namjoon worries too much? What if it gets annoying? What happens if Namjoon pushes Taehyung away with it, what if —

“Joonie-hyung,” Taehyung says. “You look like you’re trying to solve every math problem like, in the whole world.”

“I feel like I’m not very good at this,” Namjoon says with a sigh. “All of it, I mean. I don’t know, sometimes I feel like...not a great boyfriend.”

“Oh, Joonie,” Taehyung says sympathetically.

“And I don’t mean to fish for compliments, or make you feel bad or anything, and I’m — I’m really trying to work on it. I just haven’t done this in a long time, and I kind of forgot that sometimes I just...it just feels really easy to doubt myself,” Namjoon says, looking down at the table.

“Namjoon-hyung,” Taehyung says quietly. Namjoon looks up with a wince, and finds Taehyung looking at him seriously. “You keep acting like you expect me to wake up and realize you’re bad for me or something. But I’ve never dated anyone who was as kind to me as you are.”

Namjoon swallows nervously, doesn’t speak. Taehyung shakes his head and goes on. “People don’t take me seriously. I don’t know why. I’m not very articulate, I guess, and I’m kind of weird? People have told me I’m weird. I guess that’s part of it. You never have, though. You take me seriously.”

Namjoon furrows his eyebrows. “Of course I take you seriously. You’re a human being.”

“That has not stopped some people,” Taehyung says with a little smile. “But you’re so...I can talk for half an hour about a dog I had in junior high, and you’ll just sit there and listen to me. Actually listen. And care. Last night you listened to me talk about the porn I like! For an hour! I don’t know how you can think you’re bad at this, when you’re like...so completely great. You’re one of my favorite people to be around, you know?”

Namjoon swallows, feels embarrassingly like he’s going to cry — and god, didn’t this start out as a conversation about sex? How did they get here? He’s thinking of what he should say, how to tell Taehyung thank you without saying thank you, but Taehyung opens his mouth to speak again.

“I know you get worried about stuff. I know you’re just wired like that, and I know...I mean, you’ve told me a little, bits and pieces, about trying to get better. I’m not sure exactly what you’re trying to get better from, but I just think...I just think you’re doing a really good job, hyung. I think you’re a really good person.”

“Taehyung-ah,” Namjoon says weakly, eyes wet, and god, he’s really gonna cry. He’s shirtless, sitting across from his half-naked boyfriend over a mostly-finished bowl of soup, and this all started because his boyfriend just wanted to talk about his foot fetish but now they’re here, wading through Namjoon’s emotional insecurities.

Taehyung’s eyes go wide and he stands up and shuffles over to him quickly, leaning down behind him and wrapping his arms around Namjoon’s shoulders, resting his chin on Namjoon’s head. “I’m sorry, baby, I didn’t wanna make you cry,” Taehyung says softly, hugging him tight.

“I don’t know why I’m crying,” Namjoon says pitifully, a couple tears rolling down his cheek in no particular hurry.

“That’s okay, Joonie,” Taehyung says in his soft voice. “Crying is good.”

“That was all really nice, Taehyung,” Namjoon says quietly.

“I meant it,” Taehyung replies.

“I know.”

“Good.”

Namjoon sighs, wipes away the stubborn tears that fell down his cheeks. Taehyung gives him one last squeeze, then comes around the front of the chair, sits down in Namjoon’s lap and rubs the pad of his thumb across the still-wet track on Namjoon’s cheek. “Let’s leave it for now, okay?”

“Leave what?” Namjoon asks.

“Talking about us, and sex, and all the rest of it. We can just leave it alone for right now and come back to it, okay?”

Namjoon furrows his eyebrows, but he nods. “Okay. Sorry.”

“Don’t apologize,” Taehyung tells him softly, pinching at his cheek a little with a smile. “I promise it’s okay.”

Namjoon nods. “You’re heavy, Tae.”

“Mean,” Taehyung says, but he’s laughing as he stands up. “Come here, honey.” He grabs Namjoon’s hands and urges him to stand up, and Namjoon follows. “Help me wash up, will you?”

Namjoon nods, collects the bowls and the chopsticks and spoons from the table, follows behind Taehyung to put them in the sink. They wash the dishes, and Taehyung hums a song like he always does, and then Taehyung says, “I think we should go on a walk today,” and they do. They walk in the sunshine, Namjoon in borrowed clothes, through the little park near Taehyung’s apartment because they both just like walking outside, especially now that the world has thawed a little. And Namjoon, too, feels himself thaw a little.

++

They don’t talk about the list for another week. Taehyung’s giving him space on it, Namjoon can tell, but as the days pass, Namjoon finds he doesn’t need any more space. He appreciates it, the way Taehyung’s gentle with him, but he thinks last weekend might have let open some kind of dam in him, or at least made a big dent. He feels less overwhelmed thinking about it now, less nervous. It helps that he’s had some time to do research on his own now, search for weird articles that assure him he is, in fact, capable of spanking his boyfriend.

Namjoon finds himself thinking about it all week, errant little thoughts as he goes about his days, but he doesn’t focus on it properly again until the following Friday, while he and Taehyung are watching a movie on Namjoon’s couch.

The couple on screen are solving a crime, because they’re detectives, or...maybe journalists? Namjoon isn’t sure, hasn’t been paying much attention even though the movie’s supposed to be good, because last night he had probably the most intense wet dream of his life. It was Taehyung, sweet and begging and almost crying from Namjoon fucking him rougher than he’s used to doing, and — and that’s kind of been distracting him, for the past twenty-four hours.

He was trying to be normal and wait until an appropriate time to bring this up (what the appropriate time is, he’s not sure, but the point stands), but...he’s been very distracted, and he knows if he waits too long he’ll lose his nerve entirely.

“Taehyung,” he says, at definitely not the appropriate time, “can we talk about the list?”

Taehyung turns to him with raised eyebrows. The couple on screen gasps at the newest clue they’ve found, and Taehyung reaches over to the remote and presses pause.

“All of a sudden?” Taehyung asks, but he’s smiling a little.

Namjoon shrugs. “I’ve just been...thinking about it.”

This week, he did research on how to talk through things like this. Taehyung was right, a lot of the advice was skewed for things more dangerous, more intense than the things on their list, but it still stands as advice, Namjoon thinks. He also did some cursory research of — some other things from the list, the ones he knew less about.

“Okay,” Taehyung says. “Let’s talk about it, then.”

Namjoon nods, stands up and walks out of the room to his little closet-sized office for the piece of paper he rewrote the list on a few days ago.

“You made a copy?” Taehyung asks when he gets back with two pens and the paper, smiling at him.

Namjoon shrugs. “I wanted to be able to refer to it. I took a picture of it last weekend, but it felt weird looking at it on my phone.”

Namjoon sets the paper and pens down on the coffee table and sits down cross-legged in front of it. Taehyung laughs a little before he slides off the couch to join him.

“Okay. What are we doing, exactly?” Taehyung asks, grabbing his own pen.

“I figured we should go through and...I don’t know, figure out what we’re comfortable with?” Namjoon says. “Like a yes, no, maybe kind of thing.”

“Okay,” Taehyung says with a nod. “Well, I’ll be quick,” Namjoon watches him focus on the Namjoon side of the list, and make fast work of writing a little Y for yes next to every option.

“Oh,” Namjoon says, blinking down at the paper. “Okay. Fair.”

“I’m up for anything,” Taehyung chirps happily.

Namjoon nods. “I did kind of know that about you, yeah. Okay. My turn.”

He pulls the paper toward himself and takes his time going down the list. He ends up with a Y next to choking, feet, collars, lingerie, overstimulation, and spanking, a question mark next to exhibitionism, and an N next to pet play and tentacles.

“Oh, wow,” Taehyung comments. “That’s a lot of yes.”

Namjoon nods. “I told you, I’ve been thinking about it.”

“Well,” Taehyung starts with a smile that looks a little giddy. “I guess we have some things to discuss, then.”

++

They decide to take things slow. They still have lives, and jobs, and they just don’t have the free time to have a bunch of weird sex for days on end. They take things one at a time, pacing themselves steadily, and honestly it’s...kind of exciting.

They spend an afternoon online shopping for collars, and Namjoon thinks it’s interesting the ones Taehyung likes (one thin and pink with lacey ribbon, one in clear vinyl with an o-ring in the center, one in black leather with a heart-shaped ring hanging from the front.) They talk about exhibitionism, the ways that would look for Namjoon to be comfortable with it (he’s okay with the idea of mostly private sex that someone might see or overhear, but not with anything actually public.) They talk about safe words and signals a few times before they land on a color system, green for go and red for stop. They try to figure out the right position for facefucking, because jesus, that’s more complicated than it seems; eventually Namjoon learns that because Taehyung’s dick curves upward, his best bet is to lay on his back with his head hanging off the bed, Taehyung standing above him.

“This feels so stupid,” Namjoon complains when they decide to give it a shot, looking at Taehyung upside down.

“You look cute,” Taehyung tells him with a smile, leaning down to run a hand through Namjoon’s hair. “Let’s just try, okay?”

(It goes pretty well, Namjoon thinks, but the blood does all rush to his head a little. Luckily, they have plenty of opportunities to continue to workshop it.)

It’s weird, but Namjoon think they’re kind of bonding over the whole thing. It’s kind of a shared hobby at this point, figuring out how all these things fit into their sex lives. It started as Namjoon uncomfortable and overwhelmed, and now he feels — well, almost competent. Maybe not at the individual acts themselves (well, maybe those too, it’s hard to tell sometimes), but at least at talking about them, at telling Taehyung how he feels.

Namjoon hasn’t forgotten the speech Taehyung gave him in his kitchen almost a month ago now. It was a weird reminder to let himself focus on the ways he’s good instead of the ways he needs to get better, and he thinks he’s pretty good now at this, at negotiating sex, at separating it from all the messy gooey feelings he associates with sex with Taehyung. Not that the gooey feelings are gone, just that he needs to put them aside as they discuss exactly what Taehyung wants from overstimulation as a concept, and when and how he wants it during sex.

He gets to bring them back when they’re in the middle of things, when Taehyung gasps and bites down on his own hand after Namjoon blows him and just keeps going after Taehyung comes, keeps at it until Taehyung’s hard again with tears in his eyes, and Namjoon can’t help but to feel — well, powerful, like he’s come to realize he always feels with this kind of stuff. There’s a sense of power when someone lets you hurt them, when they want you to hurt them, when they tell you exactly how to do it best. But then there’s a warm little ball of trust in the middle of that, so much trust in each other, and it makes Namjoon feel soft, despite it all.

Choking takes the most preparation. Namjoon gets in so deep that he learns neck and throat anatomy, the best places for him to press. They practice outside of sex, which is admittedly kind of weird and awkward, but Namjoon figures it’s much preferable to fucking up or, god forbid, making Taehyung pass out or something. They talk about the when and how, in detail, and honestly, this whole thing has given Namjoon an extensive lesson in what consent can look like. They’ve been engaging in advanced consent, super-consent, for weeks now. He thinks that’s probably a good thing. He’s noticed the difference, even when it’s a relaxed kind of night and they’re just fucking around lazily. There’s a little more effort put into talking about things before they do them, into not assuming or relying on body language. He thinks it’s bled over to other stuff too, non-sex stuff. They just talk more, now — and they already talked a lot. They talk, and Namjoon feels less and less stressed about it these days, about what he says, about how Taehyung might take it.

It’s strange. After years of being self-conscious over things like love and sex how, exactly, to be with someone, to have it all kind of...dissipate. Not entirely, not completely, but...mostly.

Namjoon meets Taehyung for dinner one night, and between stories about the kids Taehyung nannies and a disaster that Namjoon had to stomp out when there was a particularly egregious typo left in a bunch of the promotional materials for the community center, Taehyung says, “This is maybe a little weird, but.”

Namjoon tilts his head, waits for Taehyung to go on.

“My boss planned this vacation, for her nephew, I think? For him and his wife. But I guess they don’t want to go? So she..offered it to me.”

“Oh,” Namjoon says pleasantly. “That’s cool. What kind of vacation?”

“It’s this little house in Tongyeong. The pictures looked pretty. I was wondering if you wanted to...go? With me?” Taehyung asks, eyebrows furrowed funny, voice funny. Hm.

“You sound nervous,” Namjoon says with a little smile.

Taehyung shrugs. “We’ve never done anything like that.”

Namjoon shakes his head. “I guess not. But it sounds nice.” It’s been, what, six and a half months now? He’s not sure if that’s long or not — it feels long to Namjoon, whose relationships before Taehyung hadn’t panned out longer than a month or two. Not that long in the grand scheme of things, though, he supposes. And he’s used to feeling scared, feeling nervous, hurtling blindly into the future with someone, unsure where he stands, but he knows where he stands with Taehyung. He feels steady with Taehyung. “When is it?” He asks, enjoying the way Taehyung’s face clears and he smiles, happy.

++

When Namjoon asks Yoongi, who mostly handles outreach for the community center but ultimately would be perfectly competent in Namjoon’s Communications Director role, if he can cover for Namjoon at work for a week next month, he agrees with a confused look in his eye.

“You haven’t taken a vacation in like, years,” Yongi says. Jimin looks over from behind his laptop in the corner of their shared office.

Namjoon shrugs. “Taehyung’s taking me.”

Yoongi raises his eyebrows minutely, but doesn’t say anything. Jimin, from behind his laptop, mutters, “Never thought you’d find dick so good that you’d use your vacation time.”

Yoongi sighs. “Stranger things have happened, Jimin-ah. And if anyone deserves it, it’s Namjoon.”

“Thank you?” Namjoon says, head tilted. “You know this means you’re going to have to take my meetings, though, right?”

Yoongi pauses. “I changed my mind. The dick can’t be that good.”

Namjoon laughs, snorts under his breath. “It kind of is,” he says, because it kind of is.

 

A few weeks later, he asks his therapist, “Is it weird that I think sex with my boyfriend is helping my anxiety?”

“Well,” his therapist says diplomatically. “It’s probably more than just the sex, Namjoon.”

And that’s true. It is more than just the sex. It’s the knowledge that he has someone he can say anything to, and they’ll just nod and ask him curious questions. It’s the comfort in that — it’s the way Taehyung is safe. He says all that, in more meandering words, and his therapist just looks at him carefully.

“I’m glad that you’re in love, Namjoon. It sounds like it’s very good for you,” she says, a kind smile on her face. And Namjoon just blinks in return. Huh. Yeah, he supposes it is.

++

The “little house in Tongyeong” is beautiful, surrounded by a lush garden, looking out onto the ocean; the bed is big and comfortable, the kitchen spacious, and there’s an entire little library in one of the spare bedrooms. It’s kind of magical. It feels kind of magical, to stand in it with Taehyung, feeling isolated from the rest of the world.

They leave their phones in the house for most of the week, turned off in a dresser drawer. Taehyung carries a big camera hanging around his neck, taking pictures of the mural walls in the city, the fish market, and an embarrassing number of Namjoon.

“Maybe in another life we grew up in a fishing village,” Taehyung says as they sit on the beach one afternoon, their pants rolled up to their knees and their feet in the sand.

“Romantic,” Namjoon says with a little grin.

“It would be very romantic. Our fathers are rival fishermen, our love is forbidden. We would kiss by the docks, or something.”

“I don’t think fishermen have rivals. And we can kiss by the docks here,” Namjoon points out.

“It’s not the same,” Taehyung says with a wistful sigh, but he’s smiling when Namjoon reaches out for his hand.

They have sex in the back garden with the low fence in the dusk, not particularly visible to the world around them but just visible enough to get a little thrill of fear when Namjoon notices a light on three houses down. Taehyung bites down on Namjoon’s shoulder to stay quiet, straddled in Namjoon’s lap with sweat in his hair and a little bit of dirt on his face, and Namjoon never thought this was his kind of thing but he thinks maybe he’s being convinced.

They hike up Mireuksan Mountain late in the week, take the cable car up most of the way but walk their way back down, looking out at the view of the ocean. Taehyung takes pictures of the water, of the mountains, of Namjoon in front of both, and Namjoon doesn’t regret going, even if his legs are sore the next morning.

“Let’s just stay in bed today then, hyung,” Taehyung says to him sleepily in the morning light. “I’ll make you feel better.”

And yeah, it’s about more than the sex, but god, he thinks, the sex is good.

The morning is spent with Namjoon’s wrists tied loosely to the curved metal headboard, with Taehyung’s thumbs kneading into the sore muscles in his thighs and his calves, true to his promise to make Namjoon feel better. Of course, it also helps when he fucks into Namjoon slow and nice, Namjoon’s legs over Taehyung’s shoulders, lips moving from Namjoon’s ankle to the sole of his foot.

(And their conversation about the feet thing was maybe one of the most interesting of all of them, Namjoon thinks. He had never been so conscious of his feet before. It’s weird, acquiring a new body part to take more care with at age twenty-seven, but whatever. He’s never been very ticklish, and Taehyung told him he has nice feet, and it isn’t a big deal to him really, so. Sure. He gets pedicures now. It’s kind of nice.)

Taehyung takes him apart gently, in the sweetest way he knows how, makes Namjoon come untouched, pulls out to finish across Namjoon’s stomach. And when Taehyung runs his fingers in the mess, brings them up to Namjoon’s mouth to clean them, there’s the click of that fire in his brain, the one he’s good at recognizing these days, the one he doesn’t bother trying to figure out. Taehyung has given him a good appreciation for the idea of “just because.”

They take a bath in the tub that’s a little too small to fit them, water splashing on the tile, kissing lazy and happy, and when they’re drying off, Namjoon finds himself pulled into a second round, Taehyung bent over the bathroom counter in front of him, and it’s easy to give him what he wants. Easy to handle him rough. He leans close to Taehyung’s back to kiss the nape of his neck, then brings a hand to palm his ass. He’s learned to ignore the instinct to be gentle, learned that his idea of “too hard” doesn’t match up with Taehyung’s, and he recalibrated. He brings his hand up and comes back down hard on Taehyung’s ass, making him cry out a little in his deep voice. And Namjoon’s hand stings, but Taehyung sounded good, feels good, so he does it again. The skin there is red and irritated, and Namjoon glances down at it before he leans in to kiss the side of his neck to ask him, “You want more?”

And Taehyung doesn’t speak right away, fucks himself back onto Namjoon first, but then he nods, says, “Yeah, please, hyung. Please.”

So Namjoon gives him more. Brings his hand down again, feels a little hypnotized by the whimper Taehyung gives.

“Fuck,” Taehyung mutters, pushes himself back again. “Hyung, baby, fuck, I —” he gives another little whimper when Namjoon pulls him back roughly by the hips, and Namjoon watches his fingers grip into the counter in front of him.

And it’s strange, always a little strange playing this role, because he’s reminded that when he’s the one in control, when Taehyung wants him to be the one in control, there’s a little feeling of helplessness. There’s an illusion of power, but under that, Namjoon knows that Taehyung’s really the one in charge of in this situation. It’s whatever Taehyung wants, it’s all about him — if he wants more, if he wants less, that’s what Namjoon gives. Sure, he can smack Taehyung’s ass and push him against a wall, but what matters is that he’s doing it because Taehyung wants him to.

One of Taehyung’s hands comes to Namjoon’s, pulls it off his hip and brings it up to the front of his neck. Namjoon nods, nose brushing against the skin of Taehyung’s back, and Taehyung’s hand lets go of his, goes to touch himself, quick and graceless. And it’s a little harder to do when he’s not facing Taehyung, but he finds Taehyung’s pulse point on the side of his neck, beating fast. He presses down there, the pressure practiced, holds it for a few seconds before letting go. Goes a few more times like that, pressing and letting go, until Taehyung goes stiff and comes with a groan. And Namjoon moves fast, pulls his hand away, pulls out of Taehyung and gets to his knees, pushing at Taehyung’s hip to turn him around.

Taehyung goes, pliant, and Namjoon gets his mouth on Taehyung’s cock, sucks him off through the last of his orgasm until it’s too much, until Taehyung is whining but not telling him to stop. Namjoon brings a hand to stroke himself off, spent and lacking patience for anything else, and when he comes, he pulls off of Taehyung to rest his forehead on Taehyung’s hip. Taehyung puts a hand in his hair, a comforting touch, and Namjoon’s eyes close as he breathes heavy on the bathroom floor.

“I love you. I’m in love with you,” Namjoon says breathlessly. Keeps his eyes closed as he waits for a reaction. This was probably a bad time for this — sometimes after sex like that, Taehyung takes a while to come back down to earth. Not always, but. The waiting, the quiet, makes Namjoon nervous about saying it at all. Except then Taehyung leans down to put his hand under Namjoon’s chin, tilts it up to look at him, and Taehyung looks warm and pleased as he moves to kneel on the floor across from Namjoon.

“I’m in love with you too,” Taehyung says with a giddy little laugh, then, “Wow!”

“Yeah,” Namjoon agrees, letting himself smile back. “Wow.”

Taehyung leans in to kiss him, hands on either side of his face, and then he presses little kisses to Namjoon’s cheeks, his forehead, one on the tip of his nose, all while Namjoon laughs softly.

“Wow,” Taehyung mutters again, sounding fond.

“Stop,” Namjoon mumbles, face warm. “You’re embarrassing me.”

“I won’t!” Taehyung insists, his smile unrelenting. “Can we get off the floor, though?”

Namjoon pulls himself up, ignores the scream of his hamstrings and stretches a little. Taehyung follows suit, and Namjoon realizes he’s still messy, so he grabs the hand towel from the wall and runs it under the faucet, wipes Taehyung’s stomach off carefully.

“You’re so good to me, hyung,” Taehyung says quietly, and Namjoon smiles.

“You’re good to me, too,” Namjoon agrees softly. He steps closer to Taehyung, kisses him briefly. “I think we’re good for each other.”

“Yeah, we are,” Taehyung says. There’s still a little grin on his face, and Namjoon kisses it again.

They make their way back to bed, cuddled close together the way Taehyung likes to, and they start out talking about maybe going to an island tomorrow but end up discussing what they would bring to a deserted island — Namjoon thinks he would bring a lot of books, Taehyung thinks it’d be the perfect time to get back into painting, and then they discuss if art is really art without an audience — and Namjoon feels happy. Present. In love.