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His eyes are focused on his steak. Only his steak. There’s a soft piano melody somewhere in the background, the aroma of good food and expensive wine all around him and a candle lit glow that illuminates everything in a hue of orange. It should be the perfect first date. It was the most romantic setting it could be. But regardless of all that, his steak was the only thing on his mind.

He hasn’t said anything in the last six minutes, not that he’d really said all that much since he’d got here and he really just couldn't wait for the evening to end.

 

His date wasn’t bad. He was attractive and friendly enough, they had almost nothing in common but normally he could deal with that. Really his issue was not with his date at all. It was with the date happening right across the table from him.

 

Taehyung is giggling, face slightly flushed from the red wine, eyelashes fluttering sweetly any time some one so much as speaks to him. He’s got a hand to his chest as he stares at his own date opposite him, a glint in his eye as he looks at the other boy, clearly so attracted to him. They’ve been getting on well, flirting constantly and Jungkook is sure in the last few minutes, the other guy had slipped his hand onto Taehyung's thigh, massaging the skin ever so gently, the cause of his best friends giddy laughter.

 

Jungkook rolls his eyes before stabbing another piece of meat and sticking it into his mouth, his shoulders hunching over his plate as he does so.

 

Had he mentioned how much he hated double dates?

 

“So Minho, you spent two weeks in London? You must be so well travelled.”

 

Jungkook tries not to scoff as he waits for the other guys response, telling himself he needs to stop agreeing to these things with Taehyung, telling himself that this little deal of theres' has gone on for too long. He can’t keep doing this.

 

They engage again into another conversation, the giggles and flirty looks only increasing, their bodies moving closer together as they grow more interested in one another. It’s been a while since a date had gone so well for Taehyung and the thought makes Jungkook sickly.

 

“I need that bathroom” he announces to the table abruptly, cutting the other two off from their conversation. Both Men look over at him and he swallows, putting down his fork, to meet Taehyung's eye-line

 

“Tae would you come with me?” He asks politely

 

“To the bathroom?” The elder replies, raising an eyebrow, confused as to why such a request would be asked in the first place.

 

Jungkook nods and then widens his eyes slightly as if to tell the other he needs to talk to him “yes please... now?”

 

Taehyung understands and nods, placing his napkin from his lap back on to the table before standing up and smiling at his date.

“I won’t be a second” he says and the other guys nods, sends him a wink before Jungkook grabs his wrist and all put pulls him over to the bathrooms.

 

“Isn’t tonight going great?” Taehyung asks, big sheepish smile on his face that makes Jungkook feel nauseous in his stomach.

 

“I want to go home” he replies almost instantly, crossing his arms over his body almost guiltily. He knows Taehyung is enjoying himself but he can’t just act like he is having a good time when he isn’t.

 

Taehyung frowns. “What? Why?”, a pout christening his face as he stares confused at the other. Jungkook has to look away to stop the guilt getting worse and he sighs.

 

“Tae, me and my date aren’t even speaking. You can’t possibly think this is going well?”

 

He looks beyond Jungkook over to where the two boys are sitting and sure enough Jungkook’s date is looking down at his phone, a bored glare on his face as he scrolls aimlessly. He eventually yawns and it makes Taehyung frown.

 

“Really that bad huh?” He asks turning back to his best friend and Jungkook nods his head.

 

“You know the deal”

 

“I know I know” he sighs again. “Minho is super cute though.”

 

“Tae”

 

“I know” he slumps, “if you’re out I’m out.”

 

Jungkook nods and then smiles, “finish our meals and call it a night?”

 

Reluctantly Taehyung nods, “fine” he says, “but you’ll have to owe me for this one.”

 

“I’ll take you to a bar the second we’re done”

 

Taehyung smiles at that and then nods again, the reluctance of letting go of his date fading at the knowledge he can spend the rest of the evening with the other.

 

They return to the table quickly after their talk and with the new knowledge that they’d be ditching their dates soon enough, Jungkook finds that the rest of the evening goes relatively quickly- which he can’t help but be thankful for. He offers to pay the cheque for his date, a lousy excuse to make up for being the worst companion, and then they’re heading back for the streets of Seoul to say their last goodbyes. Minho offers to buy them a drink at a bar, an effort to keep seeing Taehyung, but the latter refuses politely, tells him he has an early day tomorrow and won’t be able to stay out any later. The other looks disappointed but Taehyung's smile is enough to stop anyone from being too upset, and then the two boys take off in a cab down the road, leaving the best friends alone for good.

 

“Remind me why we have this dating rule again?” Taehyung says as he watches the car travel down the street and Jungkook shrugs.

 

“You’re the one who came up with it” he replies, even though he’s so grateful it’s in place.

 

Taehyung sighs and then turns back to the other, his wistful glance turning into a mischievous smile. “I believe you still owe me a drink?”

 

——

 

They head to their usual bar, the place they often frequent after their double dates end and they decide to spend the evening together instead. It’s a classy place with glass windows and large beige sofas, decked out with artistic art pieces and glass chandeliers. It wouldn’t be Jungkook’s first choice of a place to hang out in but he knows how much Taehyung loves it so of course he doesn’t mind. When the bartender sees them, he’s already lining two shot glasses on the counter and filling it with whatever choice of poison he’s decided on. The boys weren’t fussy and they normally took whatever he gave them. Jungkook’s throat burns as he takes down the liquid, not expecting the clear transparent liquor to be a white tequila and he has to stop his face from contorting too much as Taehyung giggles at his reaction but refuses to touch his own.

 

“Thanks for the warning Jungkookie” he says, ordering a fruity cocktail as a chaser to help make the drink go down easier.

 

As the drinks get flowing and they get more comfortable they slip into their usual friendly banter and allow themselves to reach their full level of relaxation with the other. The way they always can when together.

 

“You know one day you’re going to have to allow a second date” Taehyung says, loosening the top few buttons of his shirt as he says so. Jungkook watches his fingers carefully before running a hand through his hair and taking back another shot.

 

“I’m beginning to think you’re too picky” he continues, “what are you even looking for in a guy anyway?”

 

He licks his lip at the question and takes a moment to stare just at Taehyung, as if his eyes would give the other the answer. In all the years he thought he’d made it clear what he wanted, who he wanted. Apparently that wasn’t the case. So instead he eventually shrugs and turns his body to the counter, orders himself another beer and tries not to blush.

 

“I just don’t connect with anyone” he says, “you’re the one who always finds the dates. My date is usually just as excited for the evening as I am... which really isn’t saying much.”

 

“But you don’t really open yourself up to anyone either kook? Instead you shoot them down before you’ve even given them a chance.”

 

He chews his lip as he tries to find his reply, feeling awkward about this sudden spotlight on him. Taehyung was right, he didn’t give anyone a chance, but it wasn’t because he was closed off. He just knew no one would compare...

 

“I mean what? This was our fourth double date this year and you’ve shot down every guy I’ve brought you.”

 

Jungkook scratches his neck and then shrugs awkwardly. “What can I say? I’m particular?” He replies and Taehyung rolls his eyes playfully before they clink their glasses again and have another shot.

 

——

“You couldn’t have honestly thought that Minho was the one anyway?”

 

They’re both considerably more drunk now, the Alcohol allowing their tongues to loosen, to speak more from their mind.

 

Taehyung is giggling round a glass of Sex on the beach as he shrugs his shoulders, “I don’t know” he says, “I mean he was handsome, athletic, funny, we got on well...”

 

‘But I’m all those things too’ Jungkook almost says, almost spills. Instead he grumbles and sips his drink. What did he see in these guys that wasn’t already right there in front of him?

 

“I suppose he didn’t know much about art though, or theatre. I’d hope my perfect guy would know a bit about both” he shrugs again.

 

“But what about you? Next time we date I should probably bring you someone a little better huh? Someone you’re more compatible with?” He tilts his head to the side staring at Jungkook adorably innocent as he tries to figure out more about the other. Jungkook rolls up his shirt sleeves and meets the others eye-line, a short nervous breath escaping him as he does.

 

“What I want you wouldn’t be able to bring me” he replies, shaking his head as he says so. Taehyung doesn’t seem to accept that though and matches the other, shaking his head too and leaning closer.

 

“Try me” he says, “come on.” He takes hold of Jungkook’s hand and starts tugging on it to get the younger to spill. It’s childish and he’s giggling as he does it, his big wide smile forcing the other to giggle too, even through he’s rolling his eyes.

 

“You really wanna know?” He says eyes losing their playful glint as he thinks seriously for a second. As he considers what it truly is he wants from another person. Taehyung nods his head animatedly, exaggerating the up and down motion as he slides towards the end of his barstool in anticipation.

 

Jungkook sighs. The feeling of Taehyung's hands in his, becomes centre focus, the way his fingers are wrapped up in his own, the heat they’re emanating so comforting, so familiar.

 

“I guess...” he starts, in-taking a breath before he continues, waiting for the next few words to come to him. Did he know what he wanted to say? Was he going to say it? His mouth widens again in hopes the words will find themselves but he falters. Falters when he sees the way Taehyung’s face has morphed into one of discomfort and his eyes look dreary.

 

“Tae?” He comments, “you good?” He places a hand to the others back and then their eyes meet once more.

 

“I think I’m gonna throw up.” Taehyung replies, his cheeks puffing out as he says so. Jungkook is quick to slap his card down on the table, Jump from his seat and  place an arm around the others back. The Barman scans the card quickly and then Jungkook carefully lifts Taehyung up from his chair.

 

“Let’s get you home” he motions as he guides Taehyung out of the bar, his face contorting as he tries not to puke. He’s compliant which makes Jungkook’s life a whole lot easier and the second the fresh air hits their face Taehyung lets out a large sigh before running for an alleyway. Even whilst he throws up Jungkook can’t help but find him endearing, giggling to himself about how poorly the elder handles his alcohol and when he returns a few seconds later, hair more un-kept, face a little more wear for tear, Jungkook puts his hands in his pockets and rocks on his  heels

 

“Better?” He asks and Taehyung nods, holding the wall for support as he does so, giving the other a smile.

 

“Better” he replies.

 

”I’ll haul us a cab”

 

But Taehyung is shaking his head at the thought of a moving vehicle already, the threat of more puke raising within him. “No car” he says, “let’s walk.”

 

“You’re apartment is 3 blocks from here. You can barely make it a few steps Tae.”

 

And that’s how Taehyung ends up on Jungkook’s back, arms wrapped around the younger's neck as his own grab hold of his thighs.

 

“We’ve been out of college almost six years and I can’t believe I’m still carrying you away from bars.” His words aren’t angry as he speaks, instead his voice is almost fond, reflecting on their younger years in the brisk evening air.

 

“No fair, I remember my fair share of taking care of you too” Taehyung comments leaning his chin on the top of Jungkook’s head. He’s much better than he was, capable of chatting and laughing again, just so very unbalanced on his feet, if he had walked they wouldn’t be back to his apartment until tomorrow morning.

 

“You feel stronger this time though kook, no more spaghetti arms hey?”

 

Jungkook tuts at the others jokes. Pausing his feet to re-grip Taehyung on his back. “You and I both know I never had spaghetti arms in college.”

 

Taehyung giggles and then lowers his head over to the others shoulder. “You always were a gym freak”

 

“And you always loved it.”

 

They giggle again as Taehyung pinches Jungkook’s bicep and the younger complains that he doesn’t deserve the disrespect considering he has the other on his back. Their light bickering is typical of their best friend nature, their usual back and forth so common and welcomed as they make their way back home.

 

They continue to reminisce their lives together as they walk and Taehyung eventually challenges Jungkook not to step on any cracks in the pavement, a little game for them on their journey. Every time he hops, Taehyung laughs and for anyone else who may have seen them, they would have thought they were crazy, but this was just who they were... just the way they were when together.

 As they reach Taehyung’s street, Jungkook feels the elder get heavier, a signal that he’s more tired, that he’s allowing his body to relax, before sleep takes over. He tries to tell him to stay awake and Taehyung merely moans in response, causing the younger to grab hold of his keys and let them both in the building. He lets him down in the elevator but keeps hold of his waist, making sure he stays conscious as they reach his door and Jungkook lets them both in, pulling Taehyung through the apartment and to his bedroom. He settles the elder down on the bed and he instantly flops himself onto his pillows as Jungkook heads into his drawers to pull out his pyjamas.

 

“No sleep just yet Tae, hey c’mon” he calls, moving back over to the other.

 

“Sleepy,” Taehyung replies, his body limp as Jungkook tries to lift him. He manages to sit him up of the edge off the bed and he kneels beside him on the floor, attempting to get Taehyung present enough to get himself ready for sleep.

 

“Tae come on. I know for a fact you’ll hate yourself if you fall asleep in that shirt.”

 

Taehyung heaves a sigh, his body moves along with the actions and whilst his eyes remain closed, it’s clear he’s heard the others words. After a second, he nods gently, “it does crease really easily” he comments. The words make Jungkook smile softly and he nods his own head in agreement.

 

“I know. Now come on arms up!”

 

But Taehyung doesn’t raise his arms, instead he places his hands on the others face and swipes a bit of Jungkook’s hair from his forehead. The action stills the younger who swallows hard and searches the others gaze, nervously.

 

“You always look after me Kookie,” Taehyung says and he attempts a small smile. His voice is still raspy and tired from the alcohol and the late night. “My little Kookie, always so good to me.”

 

Jungkook ignores the heat in his cheeks, looks down only for a brief second before chewing his lip and trying to diffuse the tension in his chest. “we always look after each other Tae, it’s what best friends do.”

 

The elder nods his head but heaves another, deeper sigh, this time seemingly more frustrated “best friends”, he repeats.

 

Jungkook motions to help Taehyung with his shirt again but once more the elder pauses him, this time taking hold of his hands.

 

“Stay the night Kookie?” He asks, “please?”

 

The pleading words make his heart race. Jungkook had been planning to grab a taxi and make for his own apartment the second Taehyung was asleep, but the way Taehyung is looking at him, the way he’s gently stroking his thumbs along the back of Jungkook’s hands, causes him to pause.

 

“Tae I’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow, I have to be up early remember? I need to go to the gallery.”

 

Taehyung shakes his head, “please. Cuddly. You’re so cuddly. Stay with me?” he asks again. His grip tightens for a second as though the thought of Jungkook leaving had made him feel the need to not let go. It was a minuscule action but Jungkook felt it. Secretly, he wanted it.

 

He knows he probably shouldn’t. Knows that regardless of the amount of times they’ve slept in each other’s beds, he should be firmer in his ways, shouldn’t allow himself to fall so easily into the other, to stop his heart from growing two sizes bigger anytime Taehyung uses that soft, soft voice on him.

 

“Okay,” he says. Because he’s weak, because he loves being with the other. “Okay, but I’ll have to be gone in the morning.”

 

Taehyung nods his head and then lets go of the others hands to try to make a grabby motion at him instead, to pull him down into bed with him and finally snuggle. “Good good that’s good. Just sleep now. Now we cuddle.”

 

Jungkook’s heart cries seeing the other so soft like this, so gentle, trying to reach for him as he re-curls himself up in the sheets. Before he gets a chance to however, Jungkook stops him once more.

 

“Tae? I’ll stay with you tonight but if you want me to sleep in your bed, you’re gonna have to at least brush your teeth.”

 

As if in a shot, Taehyung raises himself up from the bed so quickly, even though his eyes are still shut and Jungkook giggles as he practically marches himself over to the bathroom, the sound of running water following a couple seconds later. Jungkook thinks its crazy what he could get the other to do at the promise of cuddles.

 

The thought then lingers in his mind as he considers all he would do for the other too. Just to spend more time with him. Just to spend more time together. 

 

But then he figured that made sense for him. When you’ve been in love with your best friend for almost ten years, you’re ready to do just about anything.

Chapter Text

9 years ago

 

“These are yours- apartment 13P.”

 

Jungkook grabs hold of his keys excitedly, twirling the chain round his fingers several times as he gets his first hold of them, getting used to the feeling of them in his hands. Finally he had his own place. Somewhere to call his own.

 

He tells the landlord he can make the trip up the stairs on his own, that he’ll have no trouble bringing up his boxes of things considering he really didn’t have much, and the elderly man doesn’t even try to act as though he wants to help, seemingly glad to get out of giving a hand, probably so used to so many college kids that he wants to avoid them now as much as possible.

 

Hes so excited for the prospect of a new life, a new journey. He can’t wait to have a place to himself, a place he can call home. Opening the door to his new flat doesn’t just give him an apartment, it gives him freedom, it gives him his new life. Soon he’ll be starting his classes and he already knows he wants to major in photography.

 

The apartment is bare when he gets in, simply laid out, a main room with a joint lounge and kitchen and then to the back of the room, two doors, one his bedroom and the other the bathroom. It’s so plain and yet he smiles so widely as he looks around. It was his- all his.

 

Unpacking and settling really didn’t take all too long. Considering the place was mainly furnished he really only had to pack away his clothes and find suitable homes for some of his things like his cameras and game consoles. Other than that he wasn’t the type to feel too out of place or need a lot of time to adjust.  He was already pretty comfortable after the few hours just putting his things away and listening to the music playing from his speakers.

 

He wonders as he settles on his new sofa, what it will be like when he meets his neighbours. Wonders whether they’ll be friendly and if he’ll get on with them. He considers what it will be like when he makes friends, if he’ll be able to make friends, and questions how long it normally takes for college kids to grow a friendship group of their own- people he can identify with, people he can claim his new family. He knows he shares the floor with only one other tenant and he’s excited to meet them, hopes they’re friendly enough and don’t mind the sounds of IU being played late in the evening- in case their walls really are too thin. He hopes that things will be good, he hopes that he will be happy. He can’t wait to see what his time at college will have in store for him.

 

——

 

His first night in his new apartment is comfortable. Way more comfortable than he expected. His bed was warm, but not too warm, his pillows were fluffy but not too soft and luckily his room was dark enough that he could fall asleep easily, no bright street lights or gaps in the curtains waking him up.

 

He hits his 6am alarm clock chirpily before he picks himself out of his bed and gets himself ready for his daily morning run. Now that he was a college boy he swore to himself that he would stay in shape and keep fit, hoping that he’d be able to find a gym somewhere close by he could sign up to. He throws on his running shirt and shorts easily and attaches his earphones round his neck as he begins stretching in the lounge to warm up his muscles. He tells himself he’ll just go round the park and campus before returning for breakfast and he opens his door, tapping the setting in his watch in order to time himself.

 

What he doesn’t expect is for the door opposite him to be open already, a boy with ruffled sandy coloured hair, wearing nothing but his boxers and a very open white robe Waving off another guy who is heading straight for the elevator. Jungkook pauses in his steps, wonders if he’s just walked out to a walk of shame and hopes to god he hasn’t disturbed his new neighbour, praying he doesn’t already get on his bad side. The boy on the other side of the door though seems to be nothing less than cheery and when their eyes meet, he smiles big and wide, a box shaped grin, that seems so happy- almost too happy for this time of the morning- and leans against his door.

 

“Hey there!” He says and his deep voice makes Jungkook eyes widen. He tries not to blush as the others robe falls more open, revealing a very tan chest, and he refuses to let his eyes fall anywhere below the boys bottom lip. “You must be my new neighbour, it’s nice to meet you.”

 

Jungkook tried his hardest to smile back, nodding his head at the statement. He finds his ability to speak has escaped him and he flounders for a second or two, enough for the boy to raise his eyebrow in question.

 

“Well I’m Taehyung” he says, “if you ever need anything you’re more than welcome to stop by my apartment. Me casa e su casa,” he giggles, “so are you heading out for a run?”

 

Jungkook nods his head. “I’m Jungkook,” he then adds on. “I just moved in yesterday.”

 

Taehyung smiles again and then holds out his hand for the other to shake. “Well Jungkook, if you need anything you know where to find me. Have you already unpacked?”

 

He nods again.

 

“Damn, you’re an organised kid. I remember when I moved in I still had boxes lying around for 3 months- granted I had a lot of stuff, there’s only so many places you can shove neck ties before you really run out of space.”

 

He laughs at his joke and Jungkook tries to giggle along even though he has no idea what the other is on about. When the laughter settles Taehyung nods his head and gives the other boy another winning smile.

 

“Well I better let you go,” he tells him, “enjoy your exercise! I’ll post my number through your door and the list of some good take out places round here in case you want them. And like I said, don’t hesitate to come round or call me if you need me. Have a good day Jungkook!”

 

They see each other every morning.

 

Always roughly the same time, always roughly similar situations followed by similar conversations. Jungkook is normally about to go for his run, Taehyung is usually letting someone out of his door, sometimes the same face, sometimes different ones, sometimes more than one. He waves them away and then stops Jungkook for a morning chat, asks him how he is, reaffirms that he’s always there if he needs him and makes sure to wish him a good day. It’s like that practically for the first few months Jungkook is in his new residence. Taehyung going out of his way to greet the younger, walk down the apartment block with him to pick up his mail or grab a quick snack at the mart just down the road. He’s almost always in his robe or pyjamas when he does but Jungkook realises early on that Taehyung really had little care for how others saw him. He just greeted any and everyone with the same warming smile as he did Jungkook.

 

And Jungkook tries to be friendly back, tries to engage in the light-hearted conversations, the quick backs and forths. He’s never been one much for small talk though and he knows his awkward demeanour often makes him come across hesitant or shy. It’s never intended but he really isn’t as open as the other boy. He just finds it hard to be.

 

By the time winter rolls around and Jungkook has been in his apartment for a little under four months, he’s so used to the way he’s living, his apartment, his classes, his quirky neighbour. He doesn’t expect them to be any closer than they are, seemingly they run different circles and apart from the mornings when Jungkook leaves for his run, they never tend to be in the apartment Block at the same time. Jungkook can tell because Taehyung is loud, not annoyingly or anything but his presence is always felt when he’s around and he can tell for sure when he isn’t.

 

And so it’s a late night in December, Christmas has come and gone and Jungkook has himself wrapped up in two sweaters in an effort to keep his hearing costs down for the month. He’s only been back in his apartment a day and it’s way past 2am but he doesn’t care. The frost has settled on the window sills and if he looked closely, small specks of snow were trickling down from the sky. Yes, It’s a perfect December night but Jungkook is lonely. Really lonely. Coming back from Busan had been hard- he hadn’t seen his parents in a while and being with them again made him realise just how much he missed them. The time off surely wasn’t enough and he was tempted to spend the new year at home too, if not for the fact that he wanted to get the most out of the rent he had paid for the month. So here he was, two sweaters on top of his pyjamas and now also a scarf, the time approaching 3am, and a cup of hot ramen in his hands, as he takes a seat on his sofa. Missing family sucks, not being able to sleep because of it sucks even more and he sighs into his ramen as the swirls of heat travel up and brush his face lightly.

 

Everything is quiet and peaceful and he sits with his thoughts. Or at least he tries to. His silence really doesn’t last all that long when he thinks he hears the sounds of someone talking outside. He figures it’s Taehyung, getting home from a night out and so he waits for the sound to pass, assuming he’s letting himself and his company in for the evening.

 

Except well... the talking doesn’t end and after another couple of minutes go by Jungkook begins to wonder what in the hell is going on. He puts down his ramen and moves towards his door, unlocking the chain and peering his head outside quickly. Sure enough Taehyung is sitting on the floor, hand holding his handle as he whittles away talking to what seems to be himself. No one else in sight. Jungkook raises an eyebrow when he sees him and Taehyung mutters eventually turn into what sounds like a bad rendition of the little drummer boy. His eyes close as he begins to sing a bit more and Jungkook widens his door to stare at his neighbour in confusion.

 

He opens his mouth to ask him if he’s okay but before he gets the chance to, Taehyung eyes open and he smiles. “Oh hey Jungkook, didn’t see you there.”

 

Jungkook lets the door open fully now and he crouches down so that he’s at the other boys level. “Taehyungsshi is everything okay?”

 

The blonde nods his head, once, twice before turning it into a shake and then he giggles slightly. “It seems I left my keys in my apartment before I went out. I can’t get back in.” He laughs a bit more and Jungkook looks concerned. Taehyung has clearly been drinking and he seemed the littlest bit concerned about his predicament.

 

“It’s okay though. The landlord won’t be back until tomorrow so I’ll just sleep here until then.”

 

“You can’t sleep in the hallway,” Jungkook counters, “it’s freezing out, you’re barely wearing anything warm.”

 

Taehyung looks down at his outfit and sure enough his thin satin shirt and black jeans aren’t the greatest provider of warmth. Even still he just smiles again lazily and sighs.  “Hey Jungkook did I wish you a merry Christmas? Did you get my Christmas card? I know I sent you a Christmas card.”

 

Jungkook’s eyebrows furrow and he leans himself forward to take hold of Taehyung's wrist. At the feeling of the others hand on his, Taehyung shudders and then he meets the others eye-line for the first time since they started talking. His glare makes Jungkook almost feel nervous, finding it too intense for someone so clearly wasted but he puts those thoughts aside as he pulls on the others arm lightly.

 

“Let’s get you inside,” he says, “you can stay at mine tonight.” He acts without thinking, tugging lightly on Taehyung's arm to get him to cooperate. He's not normally so direct in his actions, always having been a cautious person, but Taehyung has been a good neighbour, and although they don't really know each other, he can't leave him in a hallway- it wouldn't be right.

 

Taehyung is already shaking his head, refusing to let the other help him but Jungkook is strong, way stronger than him and when Taehyung continues to resist, Jungkook iss practically pulling him up with barely any struggle, guiding him towards his door.

 

“You really don’t have to do this,” Taehyung is muttering as he stumbles in, “I’m fine, honestly, the floor isn’t that uncomfortable I promise.”

 

But Jungkook isn’t allowing any of it, guiding him to his sofa and then fetching him a glass of water.

 

“Take this,” He says, placing the glass in his hands. “And eat those too” he says pointing to the ramen on the coffee table. “They’ll warm you up whilst I go find you some warmer clothes.”

 

Taehyung smiles appreciatively and sips his glass before putting it on the side. He hesitates before he lifts the ramen but Jungkook is nodding his head confirming that he should go for it, and he sees him take down a mouthful before he leaves the room.

 

In his own bedroom he allows himself a chance to breathe for the first time, letting out a large breath of air as he realises what’s happening. On the outisde he had kept a cool demeanour, taken direct action in offering the other food and drink. In here though? he was slightly panicking. Jungkook didn't know the first thing about having guests over and especially ones like Taehyung. He tells himself to just be cool, to act like it isn't a big deal but he He really hasn’t had anyone in his apartment before and he hates the small part of his brain that seems to be worrying if the place was clean enough for a guest. He just couldn't help but feel anxious about this all. It was just... Taehyung was interesting. A little too interesting than Jungkook would like to admit. And if he didn’t want to admit how interesting he found him, he really really didn’t want to admit how beautiful he thought he was either. In fact he doesn’t want to think about any of that at all as he searches for his largest and warmest sweatshirt and another scarf, even a pair of gloves before he walks back out into his lounge, shaking his head as though it was an etch-a-sketch, trying to remove all the thoughts swimming around in there.

 

At the sight of his presence, Taehyung looks up at him, hands still securely fastened around the ramen, the pot so close to his face as he blows on it gently. Jungkook throws down the clothes and Taehyung smiles softly, putting down the cup to attach the gloves to his hands.

 

“Thank you Jungkook,” he says and his voice sounds slightly less gruff, a little more sober. “For all of this. You’re very kind.”

 

Jungkook nods and attempts his own small smile before heading to the kitchen to switch the kettle back on and boil himself another cup of noodles.

 

“I hope you don’t mind me asking but what kept you out so late?” Jungkook says as he pours the water into his mug. He makes sure to grab a bunch of snacks out from his cupboard- an array of chips and biscuits, anything he can get his hands on- and brings them over to Taehyung, placing them on the table, as he clutches his own ramen close to him. His mother had always told him that when he had guests, he had to politely offer them food. This was the first time he’d really had anyone round but he wasn’t going to forget decent courtesy just because it was the middle of the night.

 

In the time he’d made his food, Taehyung had thrown the hoodie over his shirt and the scarf round his neck. Jungkook couldn’t help but think he looked adorable all wrapped up in his clothes, but the situation itself was also kind of hilarious. Two college kids in the early hours of the morning eating ramen wrapped up in layers and layers of clothing.

 

“I was celebrating.” Taehyung says and his smiles again bashfully. “Today is actually my birthday.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes widen and he puts his ramen down on the side, to listen to the other explain further.

 

“It’s my 21st so my friends wanted to take me out.” His smile grows more embarrassed, “we got a little carried away I guess.”

 

“Hyung, happy birthday,” Jungkook says, “I had no idea.”

 

Taehyungs eyes flick to the other at the sound of the ‘hyung’- being the youngest of his friendship group he wasn’t used to hearing such a term, but he liked it a lot. He liked the thought that Jungkook was warming up to him.

 

“Thank you” He says, “it was a good night- well until I forgot my keys that is. I swear I never usually do this.” He makes an embarrassed face and tucks a piece of his hair behind his ear.

 

Jungkook giggles softly, “it’s okay. As long as your alright now,” he says, “no one should have to sleep on their doorstep on their birthday.”

 

Taehyung nods and then drinks the soup of his noodles, “thank you again” he states and then turns to look at the other. “You actually a great saviour right now. I don’t know what I would have done had you been asleep.”

 

Jungkook tries to shrug the compliment off, growing awkward at the thought of him ‘saving’ Taehyung for the night.

 

“I promise the second I get back into my apartment I’ll make it up to you.”

 

He is already waving the comment off however. He didn’t need some type of repayment for being a good neighbour.

 

“I hope it’s okay for me to ask though.... why exactly are you still up? I mean it’s almost four am?”

 

At the question, Jungkook shrugs, “missed back home. Couldn’t sleep,” he says truthfully. Normally he wouldn’t be so admitting but Taehyung seemed so harmless and friendly that he really didn’t mind. That and it was so late any normal reservations were practically non existent- everyone in more vulnerable at 3am. Taehyung nods in understanding.

 

“Busan, right?”

 

Jungkook looks at the other and Taehyung nudges his shoulder playfully, “that accent. My best friend is from there too- I would have picked it up from anywhere. I’ll have to let you meet him.”

 

The younger is surprised considering he really hasn’t made all that many friends since starting college. No one ever tells you about the loneliness that comes with university- the long nights of studying instead of attending parties, the way you don’t know and never will know the names of all the people in your classes.

 

"I think you'd like Jimin... everyone does". Taehyung continues, leaning back on the sofa, stretching his legs slightly across the floor signifying he was getting more comfortable. He scratches the back of his head slightly and then chews on his lip, looking over at Jungkook once more. “This is gonna sound embarrassing and maybe it’s the alcohol talking and threatening to out me here but... I’ve actually been trying to invite you round mine a few times now.”

 

Jungkook, surprised by the confession and the slightly bashful look on Taehyung’s face, places his ramen down on his coffee table and looks at the other.

 

“You have?” He says, a little hopeful, a little serious. Taehyung nods his own head, a shy smile tugging at his lip.

 

“Yeah,” he says, “well I mean we’re neighbours right? And you seem like a nice guy... haven’t you noticed?”

 

Jungkook let’s his eyes wander as he thinks back to all of his and Taehyung’s run ins in the past few months. Was he really that dense that he didn’t realise the other was always trying to befriend him?

 

“You seem busy,” Taehyung points out then. “when I ask you what you’re up to, you always had something going on. I didn’t want to put you out.” The elder seems a little nervous in admitting that, so to ease a little of the tension in his shoulders, he leans forward and grabs a biscuit that Jungkook had placed out on the table. After taking it in his fingers he leans back once more and looks again over at the other boy whose apartment he’s staying in. Jungkook seems to be in his thoughts still, probably replaying the times the two boys had met. Taehyung cant help but smile softly when he sees that, studying the others features as he does so.

 

Jungkook had kind features. It was one of the first things Taehyung had noticed about the other when they’d first met. He thought his eyes had a softness to them that made him seem younger than he was, possibly a little naive, but good-hearted. From the way he hadn’t hesitated to let Taehyung stay in his apartment, he realised he had been right.

 

Eventually the crunch of the cookie snaps Jungkook back into the moment and his face grows embarrassed. Taehyung cant help but be entirely endeared.

 

“I’m so sorry” he says, “I... I never realised...” he chews on his lip awkwardly. Now that he’d had the time to think about it, the blonde boy had often asked him if he was busy, what he was up to, if he had plans. He figured it was small talk and never thought much of it. He can’t help but wonder if that’s why it had been so hard for him to make friends this year. Was he really so closed off?

 

His mind almost wonders again to ponder that question but before he gets a chance, a hand reaches out and touches his shoulder. The contact makes his eyes flick forwards and he looks at Taehyung, who’s giving him a gentle smile.

 

“Don’t apologise. First year can be tough, especially when you’re in a new city, alone.” He squeezes his shoulder gently in support and Jungkook nods his head in response. For a moment or two their eyes don’t waver and they just sit there staring at the other. It’s weird, the way they both seem to feel completely comfortable together even though Taehyung’s probably been in the apartment for just under an hour, but it’s completely invited.

 

“Oh look its snowing more!”

 

Jungkook looks behind him, Taehyung’s voice snapping him out of the moment and as he looks at his windows he notices the other is right, the snow is falling down properly now, at a forceful pace. He looks back at Taehyung who’s face is beaming at the little white specs falling from the sky, and before he knows it, Taehyung is pulling him towards the window by his wrist, a sofa pillow in his other hand. He throws the cushion down on the floor and leaves Jungkook standing by the window as he goes back to the sofa to grab another, using it as a support for his knees as he kneels beside the window and peers out of his opening, leaning his face on his hands on the windowsill.

 

“It’s so pretty,” He says, eyes focused on the little specs, his whole face entranced by the snow. Jungkook nods his head and then looks over at the other boy carefully. The glass is reflected in his pupils making his eyes seem to glimmer and the outside surroundings reflect within his irises. One of the street lights is also illuminating him in a gentle hue, his dyed blonde hair seemingly lighter, his honey skin a warm flame juxtaposing the chilly conditions outside.

 

Jungkook feels a weird sense of anxiety grow inside him as he stares, the snow momentarily forgotten in his mind as Taehyung’s head follows a particular snow flake fall from the top of the window that travels down and then lands on the outside glass. He smiles when he sees it, places a finger in the spot where it lands and watches as it melts, before resting his head back in his arms to continue watching the rest of the snow fall. After a second or two he looks back over at Jungkook, who panics when he notices he’s been caught staring. Taehyung smiles again and then pats Jungkook’s pillow beside him, telling the younger once more to join in and watch the snow settle on the ground. This time Jungkook complies, replicating Taehyung’s position and sitting down beside him.

 

“Thanks again for letting me in,” Taehyung eventually says, “and for the clothes... and the food.” he is whittling down the list but Jungkook is shaking his head as the other talks, refusing to let him continue.

 

“You don’t have to keep thanking me,” he replies, and he means it. He wouldn't have thought twice about helping Taehyung and honestly, he's glad he is here. He didn't know how he would have felt spending the night alone in his apartment after how he was feeling and so the company was appreciated, really appreciated. Taehyung had the ability to make people feel relaxed and like their worries felt miles away. Since he had been in Jungkook's apartment, the younger somehow felt at ease.

 

The blonde turns his head so that he’s looking at Jungkook now, staring at him as though he was the snow settling on the ground, the same gentle expression. Jungkook notices the shift and so turns his own head, meeting the others gaze.

 

“It must be pretty late.” he says, the others soft eyes making him feel as though he had to say something, anything. 

 

“I think it always was pretty late.” Taehyung replies, his smile growing wider.

 

Jungkook giggles. Taehyung wasn’t wrong. There would probably be only another hour or two of darkness in the sky before the sun would reappear again. Still that didn’t seem to make either of them move, stop either of them from just being in the moment.

 

"Do you want to get some sleep?" Jungkook asks. Not that he himself was tired. In fact, he'd felt more awake right now than he had for most of the night. He cant help but smile when this time, Taehyung is the one shaking his head before the other can even finish.

 

"Honestly?" Taehyung answers, "I'd rather we just keep doing this... I'd rather get to know you more."

 

They continue to talk, get to know each other more and more as the night rolls on. When the snow stops, the make their way back to the sofa, the conversation and the jokes never stopping, the air between the two of them getting more and more relaxed. Taehyung all but devours the snacks Jungkook has brought him and found himself sobering up quickly once the food soaked up the alcohol. Their conversations ran easily, breezing through topics and subjects as though checking them off a list, finding common ground way more than Jungkook ever thought they would. Eventually Taehyung's eyes begin to shut and Jungkook asks him if he’d like some proper pyjamas to change into. The elder declines and begins curling himself up on the sofa and Jungkook takes that as a cue to leave, wishing the other a good night as he does. He’s surprised as he lays in his own bed about how his night had turned out. About how he had been yearning for some company and found it in the boy who lived just across the hall in what was probably one of the randomest situations he could have conjured up.

 

Still he sleeps well through what should be the night and finds himself breathing easier, feeling a bit of that tightness in his chest had disappeared.

Wheb he wakes up the next morning and finds Taehyung is already gone, a small thank you note in his place he smiles to himself, happy that the night had turned out the way that it had.

 

he can’t help but ponder whether the night was just a one off. A crazy random evening that happened out of the blue but will never happen again. He tries not to dwell on the thought because of how much he enjoyed himself, but it’s that reason exactly that makes it hard for him to think about anything else.

But it’s barely 6 hours pass before he sees Taehyung again, A knock on the door is revealed to be a large white bag being held up in front of the elders face. He peeks his head out from behind it and smiles sweetly and then places it in the other hand.

 

“For you!”

 

Jungkook opens it in question and sees all the food Taehyung had eaten last night, newly packaged and just bought straight from the store.

 

“I’m sorry I ate all your food,” Taehyung continues, “and your clothes are in the dryer as we speak. I’ll bring them round when they’re done.”

 

“You didn’t have to buy me this.” Jungkook starts but Taehyung already had a hand out to stop him.

 

“I did. It’s barely a thank you but it’s a start.” Taehyung's smile is so wide, so genuine and Jungkook finds himself staring at it for longer than he should, without saying anything. When seconds pass with no words, he looks down at his shoes and a nervous laugh escapes him. He can't help it, he isn't even sure what's coming over him.

 

“You must be the only person who would buy stuff for someone else on their birthday.”

 

“That reminds me why I’m here.” Taehyung adds and the he smiles. “I’m having a group of friends round tonight, just a few of my closest, a continuation of the celebration of my birthday, if you will. I was hoping you would join us?”

 

Jungkook puts the bag down on the side and looks at the other Innocently, “you want me to join you?”

 

——

Going to the party was the best decision Jungkook could have ever possibly made. Not only did he meet the rest of his best friends that night, the rest of what would later become his new family, but he and Taehyung became friends that day. That day on his birthday all those years ago. Because after that night, Taehyung refused to let Jungkook out of his sight.

 

He showed up at the younger's door several times a week with a different take out menu, or actual take out, a selection of DVDs or things to do and somehow this becomes their usual. Days turn to weeks which turn to months and soon enough it’s unlikely that either is in their own apartment without the other there too. They become so close, so inseparable and things become so easy for them. All thanks to that freezing cold night in December. All thanks to Taehyung forgetting his keys in his apartment. Jungkook fell in love that year, and every year since has been another to add to his heartache.

Chapter Text

Taehyung awakens to an empty bed, the thrum of a headache deep set between his eyebrows and a pool of dribble dried on his lip. Graceful he knows, and he rolls himself to the other side of his bed, in hopes of wrapping himself up in the warmth of his best friend. When Jungkook is nowhere to be found, he grunts and tries to take hold of a pillow to use instead but when that doesn’t satisfy his needs he rolls over again and sighs. The emptiness makes him lift himself up and as he sits up properly he remembers Jungkook saying he had to head to his gallery for the morning. He sighs again and then rubs his temples, moving himself over to his bedside table to glance at his phone and check what time it actually is. 10am- Jungkook has probably been gone for a while. He’s grateful then when he sees the glass of water on the side and the bottle of pills along with a small good morning note from the other and he takes the medicine quickly praying this headache won’t last forever. It’s only then when he’s chugging his water that he hears the sounds of what seems like something sizzling and he strains his ears to see where the noise is coming from. Soon enough his inquisition increases and he climbs himself out of his sheets to head to the kitchen.

Jungkook has his back to him, hovering over the stove as he seems to be frying something in a pan. Taehyung smiles to himself and leans in the doorway, just watching as the other cooks, in his own little world, so blissfully unaware he’s being stared at. After a second or two Taehyung makes for the kitchen counter and sits himself opposite the other, placing his hands in his face as he does so. “I thought you had to be gone this morning?” He asks and Jungkook jumps slightly at the sound of his voice before turning around and narrowing his eyes.

“Yah, don’t sneak up on me like that!” He protests and Taehyung giggles behind the palm of his hand before looking at the other concerned.

“Jungkook didn’t you have a meeting?”

The younger shrugs before placing a plate in front of Taehyung followed by sliding some bacon out from his pan and into the dish. “I cancelled.” He says casually.

The other tilts is head in confusion. “What? why?” he asks, picking up a piece of bacon with his hands and biting a piece of it off. He chews expectantly waiting for the others answer and Jungkook turns his back to him again before he says anything.

“Thought I’d stay in instead.” A half-truth. In fact, he wanted to make sure the elder was okay. He wanted to look after him, stay with him today instead. He was weak, so so weak. “I can schedule the meetings any time. It’s my gallery after all.”

Taehyung smiles, “Well i’m glad” he says, “now I have you all to myself today.” The expression makes Jungkook’s heart clatter no matter the fact it’s been ten years and Taehyung has said all kinds of variations of that very thing. He figures it just goes to show how over time his feelings have only grown stronger.

“Until this evening anyway. It’s Hoseok and Yoongi's host night.”

Every month the boys and their friends made a promise to host a dinner party for all seven of them as a way to catch up and keep updated with each other’s lives. With the business of their careers it’s hard for them to meet up regularly but it’s a rule that no one skips a dinner. They just aren’t allowed to.

“Oh crap, that's tonight?” Taehyung says and then he pouts, “how could I have forgotten?”

Jungkook gives him a soft smile, “It’s okay Tae, you’ve been busy with your show. It’s understandable.”

He still looks slightly guilty for forgetting about their plans, but he nods his head. Their date last night was the first time he’s been out for weeks and Jungkook wasn’t exaggerating when he said Taehyung was busy with his show. Being a playwright was never the easiest job Taehyung could have gone into but his passions for writing meant he really had no other options. He loved the theatre, loved the thoughts of his work being put on a stage and shown for the world- his thoughts being taken from his mind and shown in real time. It was his passion. Recently his latest show- Hold me Tight has been in the middle of a sixteen week viewing at a public theatre house but due to its raving reviews and sold out nights, there had been talks to have it transferred to the theatre district where only the biggest and most popular shows get the chance to perform. He’d been holding out for the deal for a couple weeks now, but the talks were still in early days. An opportunity like this though was huge and both he and Jungkook were praying for a miracle.

“Finish up your breakfast and then find a movie for us to watch. I’m gonna go for my run and then I’ll be back.”

Taehyung smiles, this time after biting a piece of toast. “Nine years and you’ve still never dropped that morning run.” He comments

Jungkook smirks back, “And I never will.”

After finishing his meal and waving Jungkook off for his run, Taehyung tidies his kitchen and bedroom before heading for his bathroom and having a shower. The food and the warm water are both added comfort for his tender head this morning and as he’s shampooing his hair he thinks about how grateful he is to have Jungkook around. Had the younger not cooked for him, he would have probably skipped a morning meal all together which really would not have helped him at all. Still he can’t help but feel a little bit guilty that Jungkook cancelled his meetings at the gallery to look after him. His photography had really shot off in the last two years and now with his own gallery and exhibition right in the heart of Seoul, Taehyung couldn’t have been prouder of the other. He didn’t really know what the meeting was for but he knows the other often goes in to check sales and revenue and so he assumes it was probably something along those lines. Still, the other boy has always been very meticulous- always kept to a schedule and so he makes a mental note as Jungkook’s hyung to do something for the younger when he gets a chance, as a thank you. Once he’s done, he gets dressed quickly and sets out for his television room, scanning his rows and rows of DVDs for the two guys to watch when the other returns. He knows it’ll be a while though, some time before Jungkook gets back and will still have to shower, and so he pulls out his laptop and tries to do a bit of work whilst he waits for the other to arrive. When you’re inspired writing is easy but being inspired is a rarity in the profession. He attempts to write a new scene for his new play- Stigma- But after several failed attempts to find the right word he was looking for, he resigns to editing his previous parts. He has no idea when the play will be finished... if it ever will at this point. But like his first, it means a lot to him and it’s close to his heart.

He barely gets through the first two scenes before he feels himself getting stressed and walks himself around his apartment floor as he tries to think about what to do next. He finds himself stopped in front of a wall, the wall he always finds himself stopped in front of when he feels like this, and he stares up at the several photo frames that hang up, the photos that have always given him hope and inspiration. Each frame consists of a selection of photos marked with a date at the bottom to signify the year they were taken. He considers it his wall of memories, his life laid out before him and it always brings him a sense of peace. The frames are so special to him, in fact they’re his most prized possession and he has Jungkook all to thank for that...

 

******

8 years ago:

 

Jungkook is fidgeting, more than usual, a nervous look on his face and his bottom lip almost chewed raw from the panic. It’s Taehyung’s birthday again- his 22nd and a whole year since the first time the two boys spent that cold December night in Jungkook’s small apartment. They’re at Taehyung’s annual party, the small gathering he has with his closest friends, and everyone is sat round him as he opens up his presents excitedly, ribbon and wrapping paper littering the floor to reveal his new gifts. He’s just finished hugging Hoseok, who had bought him a pair of loafers he’d desperately wanted and now there’s only one present left- Jungkook’s. He has no idea if the other will like it. If it’s even worth being deemed a gift and Jungkook can’t help but feel bad, feel like the worst friend ever for not actually buying the elder anything, but instead making the present. Jin hands it over to Taehyung who takes the large fairly flat object in his hand excitedly. He looks at Jungkook, who is sitting right beside him to his left, and gives him the biggest smile he can muster, already saying thank you just through the look. The younger intakes a breath in reply and holds it, too nervous to even breathe as Taehyung rips off the wrapping paper to reveal what’s underneath. He gasps almost instantly, the frame holding the collection of pictures from the last year of Taehyung's life smiling up at him so gracefully. He scans each photo, pictures from days out, pictures with his friends, pictures of him studying, and his eyes are so so wide as he sees his memories, all laid out for him.

“You made this?” He asks, his voice so soft, almost emotional. Jungkook lets out his breath and nods.

“It’s your whole year,” he says, “it’s all the photos I’ve taken of you.... uhhh of everyone, since we met this time last year. since your birthday is in December I thought it made sense...”

“Jungkook this is...”

“I know it’s stupid. I’m sorry I didn’t have enough money to buy you something better and I was looking through my camera roll and realised that there were loads of photos and I just thought...” He doesn’t finish his words as Taehyung grabs him into a tight hug, holding him in his grip so forcefully.

“I love it,” he says, “this is.... it's so thoughtful."

A shy smile graces Jungkook's face and he looks away from the other, down at the ground, a small piece of his hair falling over his eyes as he does so.

He feels Taehyung's hand before anything else, sweeping the hair away and through the rest of his locks. He lifts his head back up with the action, surprised by the movement and already heating up at the way Taehyung's fingers have lingered on the back of his neck. Their eyes meet once again and Taehyung smiles. "You’re going to be an amazing photographer one day.”

Jungkook’s heart races, too quick, too fast too much. Taehyung loved his present. Taehyung loved his photography- his heart wants to scream.

“Every year,” Taehyung says and Jungkook raises an eyebrow still trying to comprehend what’s happening. “These photos, our memories. For my birthday... do you think you could make me one every year?”

It's that moment that Jungkook thinks to himself that he’d do absolutely anything for Taehyung, no matter what the boy asked.

 

*****

 

Taehyung snaps out of his memory, moving from the photographs when Jungkook comes back through the door, holding a takeout bag with doughnuts. He tells the elder that he was running past his favourite bakery and figured he’d pop in and grab the boy his favourite treats whilst he was there. Taehyung beams, again feeling so lucky to have a best friend like the other and then he waits patiently for Jungkook to get out the shower so that they can finally spend their time together. Days like this were his favourite. Days he cherished more than anything. Just being with the other made his life so much richer.

“Were you working earlier?” Jungkook asks, freshly changed lounging on the sofa, Taehyung already positioning himself in the crook of his arm, his head resting on the others chest.

“Tried to," he replies, “been stuck on a scene for a while now, can’t get past it.” Jungkook straightens up making Taehyung lift himself and look at the other.

“Need some help?” He asks, so readily willing to offer his services to the other should he require them.

Taehyung sighs and then sits up on the chair properly mirroring the other, he looks a little unsure as he readjusts himself, but then he sighs, relents. “It’s just this one scene” he replies, “I can’t seem to find my words.”

“Try me.”

Taehyung considers the offer again and bites his lip. “Okay” he says, “I guess you helping won’t give away the plot too much right?” Jungkook shakes his head. Taehyung didn’t like to give away his plays before they were actually on a stage, taken in the way they were supposed to be. Because of that he’d always been vague about what he wrote to his friends, even Jungkook. “It’s about love” He says. “I.... my character has to talk about what it’s like to feel in love.” Taehyung grows a little embarrassed. “I’ve never...” He shrugs, “I guess I don’t know how it feels so I can’t write it.”

Jungkook runs his hands down the front of his grey sweatpants, the word 'love' making his instantly grow nervous. He’s suddenly glad Taehyung’s head in no longer on his chest because the skip of his heart manages to go by unnoticed. “Love Huh?” He echoes, and Taehyung nods his head in confirmation.

“Have you ever been in love?” He asks suddenly, staring straight into Jungkook’s face, eyes wide in questioning.

“Love?” Jungkook reiterates once more, He then looks away” No... I uhh can’t say that I have.” He lies. Taehyung nods again. “But uhh I guess....” Jungkook continues, wondering whether he should say it, hesitating slightly before he does so. He closes his mouth and hopes to forget it but Taehyung’s face looks almost desperate for some sort of answer. “Well love to me... what I imagine love feels like I mean.... it’s, it’s calm.”

“Calm?” Taehyung tilts his head slightly.

He nods gently, his front teeth attach onto his bottom lip for a second as he does so, biting down but not for long. “Kind of.” He runs another hand through his hair. “It’s like a mixture y'know? Excitement but peace. When you see the person who makes you feel like the best version of yourself you’re excited because you’re around them, you can’t wait to just be with them, hear them talk, laugh... that feeling is exciting. But at the same time, all those things about that person give you this kind of serenity. Like just being around them makes your body feel at peace with itself, no longer tense or worried or stressed. That person is like your comfort blanket, where just the smallest thing they do settles your heart, even if that same thing was the thing that set it off only moments before. Being in love is having that feeling in your chest where all you want to do is almost squeal non-stop about how happy you are, how happy they make you... but at the same time you’d be totally fine with the whole world just melting away and living in complete silence if it meant that they were there beside you....”

Taehyung’s eyes are wide by the younger's words, almost glassy. He’s taken aback, not really sure what to say at the stream that had just left Jungkook’s mouth. When the other sees that he shrugs once more, fluffs his hair and looks away, “or I mean... something like that....” he adds on awkwardly, “I guess.” Another shrug.

A smile breaks out on Taehyung’s face, a little giggle, “Kook are you sure you’ve never been in love?” He says teasingly, a joke, before shoving the boys' arm. “Damn that was something. I thought I was the writer out of the two of us?”

Jungkook fakes a laugh, tries not to let the blush on his face grow too noticeable as he continues to play with his hair and nervously tap his feet on the floor. “Yeah” he says awkwardly, more fake laughing along with it. His word doesn’t even correspond really to Taehyung’s own ones, he just doesn’t know what else to say.

“Calm” Taehyung repeats, “excited. I like it.” He sits there thinking about the words, drifting into his head for a second, never realising the concoction of the emotions were ever present in the boy right beside him.

When the evening begins to rear its head and Jimin has already sent Taehyung at least six ‘make sure you aren’t late tonight!’ text messages, the two boys realise they need to get up and get ready for their meal with their friends and rush to pull on some nicer clothes. Luckily Jungkook had enough clothes at Taehyung’s apartment (and vice versa) to pull together a suitable outfit and they grab the first cab they can down town to get to their good friends Yoongi and Hoseok's place.

The couple had been together since graduation. It was something out of a movie the way in which Yoongi confessed to the other, both of them in their blue graduation gowns and caps, tears spilling from their eyes as they finally said: ‘I love you’. After four years of college dancing around each other, seeing each other date other people, secretly wishing they were an item, hooking up after a drunken night only to downplay their feelings after, their last day at college made them realise that it was now or never. And now? They’ve been happy ever since. Engaged and living together, together in the nicest part of the country, they were both successful, attractive and in love.

It was the life Jungkook could only wish for.

They barely ring the door before it’s being flung open, the two of them the last to arrive as usual, everyone else already there to greet them. Jimin is the first to wedge himself between the two, grabbing Jungkook into a hug and stroking his hair affectionately, playfully nudging Taehyung before slapping his butt lightly and leading them into the living area. Namjoon and Jin are next, both with a glass of white wine in hand, the married couple looking as good as they always do, being as handsome as they are. Their story was again one of pure romance, dating since high school, all through college and getting married straight after: a vision of childhood sweethearts turned soulmates. Jungkook cried like a baby at the wedding, Taehyung had comforted him the whole day, never once leaving his side. Together they made the perfect group, so close, such a family.

“Yoongi still in the kitchen?” Taehyung asks as Hoseok comes into view from the very place, apron round his waist and a wooden spoon in his hand he doesn’t even realise is there until he tries to kiss Jungkook on the cheek like a mother seeing her son for the first time in weeks. The youngest wipes it bashfully and then takes the spoon from the other hand, placing it on the table for him.

“You know what he’s like, the food has to be perfect,” he replies, taking Taehyung by the hand in greeting. “It’s so good to see you guys,” Hoseok continues, “I feel like it’s been too long this time. Did you guys arrive together?”

Jungkook nods, pointing his thumb over at Taehyung, “I stayed at his last night, we came from there.”

Its Jin then who laughs, sipping his wine and crossing his legs on the sofa. “Of course you did. Remind me why you two decided not to just live together after school?”

Taehyung shrugs, “beats me. You know I tried to persuade him,” he says. He grabs a small canape from the coffee table and throws it in his mouth while Jungkook tries not to grow embarrassed by his words.

“Our work places at the time we’re the opposite sides of town. It didn’t make sense for either of us to live so far away from our work.” he tries to defend.

“But sleeping at each other’s places every other night does?” Namjoon counterpoints. The friends all laugh and Jungkook scratches the back of his head awkwardly, Jimin being the only one to pick it up and decide to change the topic, bringing up how he was thinking of moving from his own apartment. Jungkook is grateful for the shift even though he doesn’t realise Jimin has done it on purpose and he tries not to think about the real reason he refused to move in with Taehyung after they’d graduated. Maybe it was stupid or in some way selfish but the thought of living with the boy he’d been in love with all through school felt like torture. After he graduated, the last of the group to do so, he told himself to either confess or he’d have to live the rest of his life in misery. At the time the latter seemed like the more viable option. But he knew he had to give himself some boundaries. He knew that if he ever was going to get past his feelings and move on with his life, he’d have to set up some form of space between him and the elder. It had not worked out well. But sometimes he finds comfort in knowing he can return to his place and allow himself a chance to breathe.

It’s then that Yoongi walks into the room, another apron wrapped around his own waist and a cocky grin on his face. “Dinner is ready” He announces as all the boys' heads turn to look at him and one by one they stand and make their way over to where the dinner table has been laid out, fancy candles and cute table decorations courtesy of Hoseok. The fiancees go around placing everyone’s meals in front of them and the groups eyes light up as they do so, the smell and the visuals of the pasta dish, too intoxicating not to have such a reaction.

“Wine?” Yoongi asks to Taehyung who shakes his head quickly and reaches for a soda can instead. “No thank you. I’m still nursing an incredible hangover.”

“Oh right. You guys went on a date last night? How was it?” Hoseok asks inquisitively. Taehyung shrugs in reply, lifting a forkful of spaghetti into his mouth and swallowing before he answers.

“It was okay, my date was nice but Jungkook didn’t really like his. Win some lose some.” Jimin eyes the younger who’s head is so focused down on his food, it’s like he isn’t even there.

“Where did you meet these ones?” He then goes on to ask Taehyung.

“That little cafe a few blocks from my apartment. You know the cute one that serves the macaroons. I went in to get a drink and he approached me.”

“As is always the case,” Jin affirms and the table giggle. It was common for Taehyung to get ‘picked out’ from a crowd, stopped and asked for his number or for a date. The boy was beautiful and pretty much everybody knew it.

“I know it’s been years, but can you explain to me again how every date turns into a double date?” Namjoon says next, “I still don’t get you two.”

At that, Jungkook and Taehyung’s eyes meet and Taehyung smiles. “Back in college we made a pact that whenever one of us gets asked out on a date, we ask the date if they have friend and turn it into a double. Then we have to both agree on whether or not we want to see them again, otherwise we bail.”

“You guys have been doing this for what now? Five years?”

“Give or take. It started as a way to get Jungkook out more, you guys remember how shy he was at Uni right? He never wanted to meet anybody.” He shrugs again, “somehow it just stuck. Now the thought of going on a date without Jungkook there feels weird.”

Jungkook chews on his lip. Of course, what Taehyung failed to realise was the reason he never went out during college was because he was already so head over heels for Taehyung there was really no one else he even wanted to consider. When the other boy had made the suggestion to double date he had foolishly agreed thinking that a date with Taehyung and two other people was better than nothing right? And at least he got to be there, to see who Taehyung was interested in, to see who would potentially become his boyfriend. When they introduced the new rule about having to both agree together whether they would want to see their dates again, Jungkook knew it was selfish, but he considered it a god send. Until he could work up the chance to tell Taehyung how he felt, he could keep refusing second dates and they could continue being Taehyung and Jungkook. Just them. Of course, all these years down the road, it had been harder and harder to stop the dates, stop the second ones. He was just glad they really didn’t do it as often as they used to. He can’t help but find Taehyung words ironic though, that he couldn’t imagine himself on a date without Jungkook. All he’s ever wanted was for their dates to be just the two of them- only them.

“And if one of you really like someone and the other doesn’t?”

“It doesn’t matter. A deal is a deal. The decision doesn’t have to be unanimous. If one of us says no, then we both say no. We can make the decision for the other too if we think it’s the right call. It’s kind of like having your work second graded- we’re each other’s second eyes and ears. Like even if I thought one of my dates was amazing, Jungkook could tell me that the whole time he was actually staring at the waitress's ass or something. Or if Jungkook thought one of his dates was super hilarious I could let him know that actually he just sounded pretentious and rude.”

“I’ve never really thought of it that way.” Jin intercepts. “I mean I guess it kind of makes sense.” He turns to Yoongi, “Yoon if you and I did that and you were there for my first date with Joonie all those years ago, you think you would have told me to keep him?”

Yoongi raises his glass of wine and swirls it as he stares at Namjoon beside him, pretending to be considering the question. “Absolutely not." He jokes and Namjoon looks offended as everyone else giggles around the table. “Thinking back now though, having Jin on some of the terrible dates I went on? It probably would have saved me years of realising too late just how awful they were.”

“See? It is a good idea” Taehyung affirms. “We also made each other lists of guys we had to say no to, even if they asked us out. Like a no-go section. It isn’t really important now, but in college it worked wonders.”

“Wait? Is that why you turned down Jackson Wang that time?” Jimin asks, first looking at Taehyung but then turning to stare at Jungkook.

The younger shrugs. “He’d hit on half of the student body!” He defends, before pursing his lip and trying not to relive those awkward, awkward memories of his college years.

Taehyung laughs and Jimin shakes his head. “I always wondered why you did that Tae. You used to think he was so hot.”

Taehyung nods, “He was. But like I said, we made a deal. And it didn’t matter how hot he was, Jungkook was right- I would never have been happy with a guy like Jackson.”

Namjoon tilts his head though, still not entirely satisfied with the answers the boys were giving. “Hasn’t there ever been anyone you’ve liked enough though? Someone who got past all these rules? I can’t remember the last time either of you had a serious relationship?”

“It’s complicated.” Taehyung says, Jungkook has gone back to silently twirling his spaghetti around his fork. “Right Jungkook?”

He looks up, doe eyes wide and a spaghetti noodle hanging from his lip. He slurps it back and swallows it quickly, nodding his head awkwardly as he does so. “Yeah,” he adds with a shrug. “It makes sense for us we guess.”

Namjoon nods but he isn’t convinced, Taehyung just giggles. “Come to think of it though, who was my last serious relationship?” He wonders. The others around the table also seem to be sitting in questioning trying to remember and Jungkook swallows.

“Park Seojoon.”

The whole table turn to looks at him. He puts another forkful of spaghetti into his mouth.

“Oh my gosh, you’re right,” Taehyung’s says, “Seojoon, I remember now! That was what? Three years ago?”

“Four” Jungkook answers again.

Taehyung looks at him once more. “How’d you remember that?” He asks impressed with Jungkook’s brain. Everyone else on the tables stares seem to be calling his bluff though, only Taehyung being the oblivious one. Of course Jungkook remembered. He was Taehyung’s only real serious partner in all the years they’ve known each other. The only one who made it truly past the double date stage. The only one Jungkook just couldn’t keep away.

He hated him.

Was loathed too strong a word? Well it didn’t matter. In terms of enemies, Park Seojoon was number one. He was everything Jungkook hadn’t been at the time. Older, successful, out of school, confident, gorgeous, tall... the list went on and on. He’d approached Taehyung at the end of a play the boy had gone to see alone one weekend. By the end of their encounter Taehyung had scheduled the double date, Seojoon promising to bring a friend, Taehyung already desperate to text Jungkook about the planned evening. The date had been perfect for him, they’d gotten along well, talked all evening, flirted, gave each other those flirty eyes that said they wanted to see each other again. Jungkook had sat and ate and pretended like he cared when really all he wanted was to leave. It was so much earlier in their relationship that he wasn’t as attuned to his feelings at that point. He didn’t know how to deal with the ache as well, to sit and pretend like his heart wasn’t being crushed every time Taehyung so much as smiled at the other guy. When he’d asked Jungkook if they could go on a second date his head had drawn a blank and he’d said yes. They ended up dating for close to 10 months. They were the hardest ten months of Jungkook’s life. When Seojoon eventually broke it off Taehyung handled it well. Sure, he was sad, but in his mind, he had Jungkook, and the younger stayed by him through the whole period, made sure he was okay. It’s weird now to think Taehyung had momentarily forgotten about him. Weird how much time seems to pass and how things become so minute in the grand scale of things. At the time Jungkook has wondered if Seojoon would have been it for the other. If he would have become a part of the bigger picture. He knows it’s wrong to think he’s glad he didn’t. That so far in the photo frame that would classify as their life, no one else has managed to take his spot right next to Taehyung within the photo.

“I never liked that Seojoon much,” Yoongi then says. “Too tall.”

Jimin raises a glass to that and the two clink them together, “I second that!” He jokes and they all chuckle before drinking again.

Jungkook hopes that’ll be the end of the discussion about their past lives now, but when Taehyung turns to him, he knows the other isn’t quite done yet. “You know last night I tried to ask Jungkook about who his ideal date would be,” he says and then he tilts his head in that characteristic Taehyung way. “Kookie who was your last serious relationship?” The room seems to fall silent and it’s because pretty much everyone already knew the answer to that already. Jungkook had never had a serious relationship. Not properly. Not since the friends had known him. Not since he’d met Taehyung. Sure, there had been third and fourth dates in the past, some people who had a keen interest in him. He also wasn’t a stranger to stolen kisses in club corridors, drunken mistakes, not typical of his nature but occurring in his best efforts to forget about his desire to be loved by the one boy who was none the wiser. He swallows and lifts his glass to his mouth, knowing he really has nothing to say back. Taehyung’s pupils are still up in his hairline as if he’s trying so hard to remember someone, at least one-person Jungkook must have grown close to. When no name seems to surface and Jungkook’s face seems to grow more shameful, Jimin decides then to straighten up and point at Hoseok, the only way he can think to change the conversation.

“Remember when Hobi dated that football player?” He says and just like that the focus is diverged as everyone turns to look at the red head.

“Didn’t Yoongi threaten him?” Jin asks and Namjoon starts laughing. Taehyung's eyes linger on Jungkook for a second or two longer before he turns his head to his other friends and joins the new discussion. Jungkook is grateful for the shift and feels himself breathe again as he looks over at Namjoon who is guffawing at the memory, talking between laughs.

“I was with him!” He says. “God, he had it so bad for Hoseok at that point and he didn’t even know it.” Hoseok looks over at his embarrassed fiancé and takes his hand in his own, stroking his knuckles lightly with a gentle smile. “He told him if he hurt him, he’d break his rib-cage. Oh my god it was hilarious,” Namjoon is still saying.

“I would have done it too” Yoongi promises, after all these years later.

“He was on the football team!” Jin adds on. Yoongi shrugs as if to say, ‘what’s your point?’ and Hoseok laughs behind his other hand.

“He was like four times your height. And size,” Taehyung remembers which causes everyone to erupt into louder laughter as Yoongi pouts at the head of the table.

“You all make fun, I got the last laugh anyway” Yoongi says, tightening his grip on Hoseok's hand. “I don’t see that meathead round our table right now, do you?”

Hoseok kisses Yoongi's cheek, “I broke up with him because I had feelings for you.” He says, “and you totally could have kicked his ass baby.” He adds on, just for good measure, turning Yoongi's pout into a smug smile.

They were so cute everyone else smiled at them in admiration at the action. Jungkook especially felt his gut twist seeing how far the two had come. From secret pining to engaged. He often wondered if him and Taehyung could ever have such a turnaround...but he also knew never to get his hopes up too high. Not everyone’s story was like that of a movie. Eventually conversation switches from their dating history to their jobs and they keep up to date with how everyone’s lives are going. Jungkook is proud to hear that Yoongi's architecture business has a big client and Jimin and Hoseok's dance school just got an influx of new students, he applauds with the rest of the gang when Namjoon tells them he’s in the running for tenure at the university he lectures at and Jin's thinking of opening a second restaurant in Gangnam. Even though he is the youngest, he can’t help but feel proud of each of his friends as though he was an older sibling, smiling at them with genuine feeling and emotion, feeling his heart warm when he sees the way they all look at each other, how they all visibly cherish these moments just as much as he does. For so much of their lives the seven of them had made a home within the group, had become a family, and so now when they have their special dinners and spend their evenings all together just as they did as kids, they’re reminded just how much they’re in this for life. It’s amazing to him how time flies and what was once a bunch of desperate college kids has now grown into a group of successful young men, fulfilling their lives to the best of their abilities. The night feels almost special that they get to cherish these thoughts and consider the new chapters they will be facing.

When dinner is eventually over, the tables cleared away and the bottles of wine finished, Hoseok's face ever recognisably flushed a shade of pink from the alcohol, they settle on the sofas in the living room and put on a movie. In the same way they take turns hosting the dinners, someone else gets pick of the film and tonight Jimin takes the reigns. For the most part they continue to stay chatting and talking, making jokes and reliving memories falling into their usual habits as best friends. Only towards the last twenty or so minutes of the film do things begin to quieten down as the night drifts later. Jin cuddles himself into the side of Namjoon on the solo chair, his head resting on the others collarbone, arms wrapped around the others waist. Hoseok and Yoongi share the other, squished together side by side, blanket over their body and fingers intertwined underneath it. On the floor, Jimin has himself curled up into a ball, arms wrapped around his shins as he rests his head in his knees, small and cute. That only leaves Taehyung and Jungkook on the sofa, the elders head rested in the others lap.

After everyone is calm and facing the television, Taehyung absentmindedly takes hold of Jungkook's hand and pulls it to his hair, a silent question. Jungkook knows instantly what it means, and he threads his fingers through the locks, stroking the soft pieces from the crown of his head down to his neck. Taehyung hums in satisfaction at the feeling, and Jungkook swallows the lump in his throat at the thoughts of how badly he wished this could be them forever. That just like the other couples beside him, this wouldn’t stop once they leave the room. That they would be able to go back to a place they shared, had made their own, a place where Jungkook could kiss Taehyung in every single room with no reservation, where they could cuddle up in bed and leave sweet lasting words of adoration for the other before they fell asleep. A place where their relationship could be more than just in his mind.

But he knows there’s nothing good that comes from thoughts like that. Has known it for all of nine years. And so he battles with himself to let those feelings float away, as he himself drifts into a slumber. Not once do his fingers, leave Taehyung's hair.

Chapter Text

6 years ago

 

It’s funny. No one ever tells you how terrible some first dates can really be. It’s a few months into Taehyung and Jungkook’s ‘pact’, this dating deal they decided to do. Taehyung is finding it overly enjoyable, the good dates and the bad, figuring them all some sort of weird learning curve. Jungkook on the other hand is already bored and sick of it, sick of the awkward first conversations, the lack of shared interest and the fact no boy can really come anywhere close to Taehyung.

 

In the last three months they’ve already been on six dates and in each one he just found something wrong with his partner for the evening. They were either too loud or too quiet, too self centred or asked too many questions. Some made comments about how much he ate, others on his choice of clothing... one boy even went out of his way to give him advice on how to make a better first impression. Not to mention that on each date Jungkook had to deal with his feelings, the dread that Taehyung might actually find someone he liked and the consequences that would come with that. That really was the worst part of it all. Especially because sometimes he felt bad, guilty even that his dates were so bad. Because above all else all Jungkook really wanted was for Taehyung to be happy and he didn’t want to ruin those chances for him. Of course Taehyung had his fair share of terrible acquaintances   too and on those days were always the best because they would both admit how crappy dating truly was.

 

Tonight though? Tonight had to be one of the worst they’d ever been on.

 

“So there I was, the whole of the frat surrounding me, and I had one choice. Either forfeit the game or drink the the mixed cocktail...” Taehyung’s date had been telling stories about his fraternity for the last 35 minutes- no exaggeration. He’s barely asked the boy a question about himself and whenever Taehyung had tried to talk to him, he’d interrupted or spoken over him to say something else. Plain and simply he was arrogant and crude and Jungkook wasn’t happy.

 

“That’s so-", Taehyung tries with a smile, but the boy has a hand up in front of his face to halt him, almost as quickly as he’d drank down his first two beers.

 

“Wait I wasn’t finished,” he says and Taehyung swallows, closing his mouth, sinking a little lower in his chair. Jungkook’s eyes look on to him with empathy but Taehyung gives him a bright smile when he notices, never one to let his emotions get the better of him. “So I look around and I see all my bros eyes on me right? And I just know I can’t let them down- not today, not in this fraternity!” He smacks his fist down on the table and both Jungkook and Taehyung jump at the action, a few heads in the restaurant turn and the former tries desperately not to grow embarrassed.

 

“So I shot down that son of a bitch as quickly as I can and I become a living legend! I got so much ass that night, you wouldn't believe”, he laughs and then runs a hand through his hair, lifting up his drink to finish it off before lifting his and shouting at the nearest waitress to bring him another. When she comes to collect the three empty bottles from the table he smirks at her until she walks away, blatantly staring at her ass as she goes.

 

“Come on dude, enough with the frat stories eh?” That’s Jungkook’s own date now, sitting beside him, rolling his eyes at him friend.

 

Taehyung’s date nods and looks over at Taehyung and smiles. He seems to brighten up, a glimpse of hope in his eye that maybe the boy will ask him something, anything about himself.

 

“Hey so did I tell you about the time I aced my world geography exam?”

 

He sinks again but shakes his head politely. Jungkook wishes he could do something.

 

“Tae didn't you also get 100% on your geography final?” Jungkook says then, because he's really just had enough.

 

Taehyung swallows and nods his head. “Oh yeah... I did.” He says and Jungkook smiles. “Hey and didn’t you also sit some of your exams like a year earlier or something?”

 

Taehyung nods again. “My literature exam, and Korean.”

 

Taehyung’s date blinks and Jungkook smiles again. “You should ask him about that,” he says. “He got the highest grade in the year considering he sat it with the upper classes.”

 

The guy seems to look more sheepish, realising now that he can’t brag about his achievements as much as he would like to, when Taehyung himself had a heavy list of his own accomplishments under his own belt.

 

“That’s really amazing” Jungkook’s date says next and seemingly it’s as though he too is trying to help Taehyung with his own date. Jungkook feels momentarily grateful. “So you’re big into literature then?” he asks next.

 

Taehyung nods his head and peeks over at Jungkook who gives him a reassuring smile to continue. When he begins to explain his interests in writing and drama, The younger backs in his chair and smiles, listens to the other talk happily, even though he’s heard it so many times before.

 

After a second or two a phone goes off and it cuts Taehyung from his speech. “Oh this is one of the guys from the team,” Taehyung’s date says, “I gotta take this.”

 

Jungkook raises an eyebrow in annoyance but the guy is already getting up and heading off, answering the call with a sturdy ‘BRO!’ Before he’s out of hearing distance. He makes a mental note to really ask Taehyung where he finds these guys next time and then turns back to his best friend who is beginning to talk again to his very own date. Their conversation flows once more and Jungkook sits to the side and listens, just glad to see Taehyung enjoying himself a little better, even if being on a date was the last thing he himself wanted. After another second or two when things seem to be okay, he excuses himself to the bathroom.

 

He makes his way quickly through the array of tables, heading to where the toilets reside at the back of the restaurant. He really just wanted to wash his hands before their dinner arrived and so he heads to the sink and begins to apply the soap, scrubbing his fingers before sticking them under the water to rinse. No one else seems to be in there with him and he doesn’t know why but he always feels some sort of relief when he knows he’s alone and he just allows himself a chance to breathe and take a moment for himself as he stands there looking into the mirror. He sighs. Taehyung had looked so perfect tonight. So beautiful. He can’t believe how much of a jerk his date had been, how he hadn’t even given him a compliment when he’d seen him. He thinks it’s kind of funny how one part of him hopes the date won’t go well but the other can’t bare the thought of Taehyung not being treated the way he deserved to be, how he wasn’t being showered with compliments and nice manners and just genuine common decency. He wonder where people get such bad etiquette from as he closes the tap and heads to the hand dryer in the side. He can’t help but just pray that Taehyung won’t want to see these guys again. Surely there is no way.

 

“Jungkook?”

 

He turns around and Taehyung is peering his head through the door. He moves himself away from the dryer, shaking his hands slightly to rid them of the excess water as the elder walks into the bathroom and sighs, turning to him.

 

“Everything okay?” He asks but Taehyung is shaking his head.

 

“We need to go.”

 

Jungkook raises an eyebrow and Taehyung almost looks guilty.

 

“Tae did something happen? Are you alright?”

 

He’s looking down at his feet, not meeting the others eye line. “I’m fine. It’s just...” he brings his eyes up to the other. “Jungkookie You’re date just hit on me.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes widen as Taehyung’s own grow more guilty. “I’m so sorry Kookie, you guys seemed to be getting along, i wasn’t sure if you liked him or what but I had to tell you.”

 

“You thought I liked him?” Jungkook asks and Taehyung nods.

 

“Tae I’m not interested in him. I just want to make sure you’re fine. What did he say to you?”

 

He makes a disgusted face. “We we’re just discussing plays I’d seen when he reached across the table and took my hand. He asked if I wanted to blow you and his friend off and go somewhere a little more private, just the two of us.” He shudders, “who the hell says something like that? Who would do that to their own friend?”

 

Jungkook sighs and places a hand on his hip. “What a creep,” he says. Taehyung nods. “Did he do anything else? He wasn’t mean when you said no was he? I swear to god I’ll kill him with my own dinner knife if he did anything-"

 

Taehyung laughs at that. “No. No I didn’t... I told him I wasn’t interested and I came to get you right away. But I don’t want to go back out there. The pair of them are horrible. I’m sorry I brought you here.”

 

Jungkook grabs Taehyung into a hug. “Don’t apologise” he says as he feels to arms wrap around his waist. “Tae we didn’t know they would be such scumbags. And honestly I was having a nice time with you before they arrived. This isn’t your fault.”

 

Tae leans back and looks at Jungkook, “thank you,” he says, “now let’s just get out of here.”

 

Instead of heading back to their table, Jungkook takes Taehyung by the hand and pulls him straight to the front counter where he tells the head waiter that he’d like to pay for his and Taehyung’s bill so far and to politely tell their dates that they had to leave. When it’s all sorted, he doesn’t look back as he gets Taehyung out of there and they head off into the streets of Seoul leaving those two jerks behind.

 

 

“God is every guy out there really just some sort of ass-hole or weirdo or both?” Taehyung asks. As they had walked back to campus, Taehyung had decided he didn’t want to go back to their apartments yet. He’d realised that as much as he wanted his night with the dates to be over, he felt like his night with Jungkook had barely begun. And really nights with Jungkook were always his favourite. So here they were, settled in a small park near their building, not particularly grandiose or significant but it had a small child’s play area and a few rose bushes and it was cute, quaint. It was also open and away from so much of the craziness within Seoul that it felt peaceful, still. They could look up and be greeted by the stars and the moon and feel connected to them, bound to their brightness as it guided their evening. Which they found they both liked that a lot.

 

They had settled on a pair of swing sets, Taehyung kicking gently as Jungkook makes small patterns in the sand below him with the bottom ridges of his shoes.

 

“He wasn’t the one for you anyway,” he mutters down at the sand, using the side of his shoe to wipe his patterns clean, start a fresh.

 

“Yeah?” Taehyung asks curiously and Jungkook makes a small heart with his shoes this time, pressing his heels together but turning the rest of his feet outwards so that the shape forms easily.

 

“Yeah. He was too typical.”

 

“Typical?” Taehyung laughs, “what is that supposed to mean?”

 

Sighing, Jungkook shrugs and wipes the sand clean again. His hands, which had been in his laps, have now grabbed hold of the chains either side of him and he bends his knees slightly so that when he pushes off the ground, the swing begins to move. Taehyung in comparison had stopped, was staring in question.

 

After a second or two Jungkook stops again and looks at his best friend. “It means you wouldn’t be happy with him.” He states. “He was generic, and selfish. You couldn’t have fun with him, you wouldn’t be able to be spontaneous with a guy like that.”

Taehyung pokes Jungkook’s side. “What makes you think I’m so desperate for spontaneity hmm?” He asks, “how’d you know I don’t want just some old ordinary relationship.”

 

“Because nothing about you is ordinary Kim Taehyung. Not one thing.”

 

Surprised by his answer, how quickly the other replies, Taehyung's eyes are wide, open and yet masked, almost vulnerable but like he’s trying to hide that vulnerability at the same time.

 

“The person you’re supposed to be with, their attention will only be on you when you’re together. They’ll always only have eyes for you. And they’ll do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it too. They’ll follow you’re ideas, they’ll listen to you, they’ll appreciate you. You’ll never be second best to them. They’d follow you to the moon and back if you asked them to. That’s the kind of guy you deserve Taehyung, that’s who you’re supposed to be with. Someone who would never try to take your shine away. Someone who would only make you shine brighter.”

 

Chewing his lip, Taehyung can't meet the others eyes, his heart beating irregularly. “You think I’d ever be able to find a guy like that?” He eventually says, twiddling his fingers around each other absentmindedly.

 

Jungkook refrains himself from telling the other that he already has. That he’s sitting right there and desperate for the other to know. That he wouldn’t just follow him to the moon, but to the whole entire galaxy if that’s what Taehyung wanted. That he’s personally pick the planets out of the sky and hand deliver them to the other boy if it’s what his heart desired.

 

Instead he just shrugs, raises his arms behind his head and stares back up at the sky. “I’m sure he’s out there somewhere” he answers, heart racing but face calm, almost nonchalant. His attention is focused solely at the sky but Taehyung's stare lingers in him for longer. If Jungkook would have still been looking at him he would have seen the desperation that crossed the others face, the longing. But he didn’t, and Taehyung himself wouldn’t have been known that’s how he had looked in that moment either.

 

_

Jungkook is thinking about this as he takes himself over to Jimin's apartment. He was done for the day leaving the gallery early, when he had received a text from Taehyung telling him that he and Jimin  were both free and wanted to hang out for the evening. He of course wouldn’t turn up an opportunity to hang out with friends and so was quick to walk over, their shorter friends place not being too far from his own. As he walks he considers the conversations last night, the countless dates, the years of pining and he wonders why he’s done it for so long. They were adults now, and sure whilst he had had found some weird comfort in stopping Taehyung from going on second dates, he couldn’t live his whole life doing this, it just wasn’t right. In an ideal world things would have worked out for him, but this isn’t the way to make that happen. So he figures he needs to talk to Taehyung about this, tell him that the double dates will have to end. That he can’t do it anymore.

 

He arrives not a few moments later, throwing down his bag and taking off his shoes before clambering over to the sofa. Days like this remind him that regardless of all the adult stuff he has to do, he and the guys really are just kids at heart and so when he throws himself down, over the two boys laps, he allows himself to feel like the maknae he always was, the boy who could get away with anything.

 

“Hello to you too,” Jimin says as Taehyung giggles. He rolls himself over so that he’s looking up at the boys and he’s instantly met with Taehyung's eyes whilst Jimin wraps his arms around his legs.

 

His best friend runs a hand through his hair affectionately before smiling. “Long day?” He asks and Jungkook nods.

 

“Tired” He confirms, “hungry”, h e says next.

 

“Well you arrived just in time, Jimin just ordered pizza.”

 

He sighs in delight, shutting his eyes tight in satisfaction as he does so and it makes Taehyung giggle again.

 

“Love you hyung,” he says to Jimin who then tickles his foot and makes him roll off of the two of them, straight down on to the floor.

 

“Love you too kiddo,” he replies, before standing up and heading to the kitchen.

 

Jungkook narrows his eyes but can’t be mad, climbing himself back up the sofa to sit next to Taehyung. As if instinctual, the elder leans himself on Jungkook’s shoulder and he wraps his arm around him. “How was your day?” Jungkook says then and Taehyung nods against his chest.

 

“Good. Got another scene finished. Act one is almost done now so my publisher can stop biting my ass about it.” Taehyung speaks nonchalantly but Jungkook can tell he’s happy about it, in a good mood. The thought makes he himself giddy.

 

“I’m happy to hear that” Jungkook says, “will you let me read this one this time?”

 

Taehyung seems to be considering the question before shaking his head. “Probably not.”

 

They giggle softly before Jimin returns, this time with a bottle of water and a bowl of popcorn in his hands. Regardless of the fact they were eating dinner soon, you could never have enough pre-dinner snacks. He eyes the two of them curiously in their own little world taking amongst themselves before he coughs slightly and they look at him, remembering that he’s there. The disrespect, he thinks... and in his own apartment too. He doesn’t say anything, doesn’t want to make the situation awkward, but as he sits down beside Jungkook and the younger looks slightly flushed, a small smile settles on his lip. He’d known it for a while now, a revelation that struck him a couple years ago that he couldn’t seem to shake. Now every time he sees them together, he just feels more and more sure of his prediction. Especially because in the last year Taehyung and Jungkook’s relationship has shifted slightly. Maybe they hadn’t realised it but everyone else had. The comfort they’d found in each other at college had always been present but now they seemed almost as married as Jin and Namjoon.

 

Suddenly he gets an idea.

 

“So when’s the next double date then?” He asks, throwing a handful of popcorn in his mouth. Jungkook shifts awkwardly in his seat, running his palms down the front of his jeans in nervous habit.

 

“I actually wanted to talk about that with you Tae” he begins and the other boy looks away from the tv to stare at Jungkook properly.

 

“You did?” He replies, “I actually had something I wanted to tell you too.”

 

Jungkook's surprised, thinking he’d be the only one to address this today. But the fact Taehyung had something to say made him curious. Maybe he was feeling the same as the younger? Maybe he was ready to let go of their deal once and for all.

 

“Yeah I was thinking this time round you could pick the dates? The last few times I’ve arranged everything and it hasn’t been great for you.”

 

Or maybe not.

 

“Oh” Jungkook replies, voice faltering. His shoulder slump slightly at the unexpected words of the other. What Taehyung was suggesting was literally the last thing he wanted.

 

“Well yeah... I just thought... considering the conversation we had in the bar... maybe you could find your type?”

 

Jungkook knows that’s unlikely. “I don’t know Tae, I don’t really get many opportunities to meet people and I don’t get approached the way you do. Where would I even meet someone?”

 

“I may have someone.”

 

Both Jungkook and Taehyung’s heads turn quickly to Jimin on the other side of the sofa still munching away at his popcorn. Taehyung raises an eyebrow as Jungkook tucks his hands into his legs. Jimin turns to look at the both of them then and blinks.

 

“A guy for Jungkook, if you’re looking.”

 

“Ohhh uhhh I don’t know it’s-" Jungkook stats, but Taehyung interrupts him.

 

“Who?” Taehyung asks curiously.

 

Jimin looks at Jungkook then, directing his answer only to him. “Do you remember Yugyeom?”

 

“Yugyeom?” Jungkook tests the name in his mouth. It’s familiar but he can’t quite figure out how and when Jimin sees him trying to remember he continues.

 

“He used to dance with me for a bit, a couple years back. Super tall, sweet kid...”

 

“Oh wait! You did the summer showcase with him? That guy?” Jimin nods, “doesn’t he have a boyfriend?”

 

“Did. He did have a boyfriend. Not anymore.” He smiles knowingly, “and from what I remember you guys seemed to hit it off well.”

 

Jungkook shrugs, leaning back in the chair. “We didn’t get much of a chance to talk.”

 

“But you could.”

 

“Hold up” Taehyung interrupts, “how come I don’t know this Yugyeom guy?”

 

This time they both turn to look at Taehyung who has a mix between a pout and a look of confusion on his face.

 

“Tae that was the performance you had to go back to Daegu remember? When your mum got sick.”

 

His face paints a picture of recognition and then he nods, “right” he says, then turns to Jungkook, “you never told me you met somebody?”

 

“I didn’t” he says, “his boyfriend was right there, we just made small talk for barely three minutes.”

 

“Well still, he’s single now and I know he looking to get back out there. I could ask if he has a friend for Tae and set it up?”

 

Jungkook is confused how they got here. His intention was to end the dates for good, not plan his next one. He stares at Jimin questioningly, wondering why he’s pushing this. He’d always thought their dating rules were dumb, why is he suddenly so set on finding someone for Jungkook?

 

“I’ll text him.” Jimin adds on then, “see when he’s free.”

 

“Wait. Jimin I didn’t-"

 

But the other is already on his phone and Jungkook sighs, knowing it’s useless. One more date, it would have to be...

 

They get ready together, this time at Jungkook’s place, Taehyung telling the other he left a shirt there he wanted to wear for the evening and making his way round swiftly. They don’t take long to get ready, being so used to this system, having almost a routine, like as if they really were living together. As if they were almost like a couple. Taehyung styles Jungkook’s hair and Jungkook straightens our Taehyung's outfit and this works. The way they co-operate as one. Jungkook can’t help but think Taehyung looks stunning when he ready, that whoever his date will be for the night is so lucky to have him. He hopes the evening will go quickly, knowing he’ll actually have to talk in this one, not wanting to give off a bad impression to Yugyeom considering he’s Jimin's friend.

 

They get to the restaurant and the two other guys are already there, waiting for them. Jungkook takes a deep breath before they head over and when Yugyeom spots him, he stands up in greeting, giving him a wide smile. He was just how Jungkook remembered him, tall and fair skinned, his hair worn slightly longer than last time but still black in colour. They all exchange pleasantries easily, Taehyung being as charming as ever, Jungkook trying his hardest to stay polite and smile, and then the date is a go...

 

_

Now, Taehyung isn’t usually one to hate his dates but right now he can’t quite place the feelings he’s feeling. The boy he’s with is really nice, very attractive and they get on well, but his focus just seems to be drifting.

 

More specifically he can’t stop paying more attention to Jungkook and Yugyeom.

 

Jungkook had started the date the way he always does, quiet, to himself focused more on what he’s going to order rather than who his company was. That was until Yugyeom mentioned the gym he frequents and it turned out to be the same as Jungkook’s. Suddenly the two started talking workout routines, morning runs, music, dance, a whole array of things they seemed to have in common and Taehyung felt a little left out. He wasn’t used to Jungkook clicking so well with someone and he couldn’t really explain the feeling it gave him seeing the younger so engaged in his partner laughing and chatting more on this date than he could ever remember.

 

For example Yugyeom had just told a joke about a gym instructor, a running machine and an exercise ball. Taehyung didn’t get it but everyone had erupted into laughter and he’d faked a giggle just to seem polite even though he really didn’t have a clue what was going on. Jungkook though seemed to really be enjoying himself, chuckling away like Yugyeom was the funniest person he’d ever met.

 

“Y’know Jungkook,” Yugyeom says then, “a bunch of us do a training circuit once a week if you’re interested?”

 

“You do?”

 

Yugyeom nods, “I mean mainly we just hang out, sometimes we go to a bar afterwards, or we go bowling. its good fun. We started when I got back from America.”

 

“You went to America?”

 

Yugyeom nods. “Lived out there for a couple of months to practise dance.” He says, “I went with my group”.

 

“No way” Jungkook replies wide-eyed. “I did the same thing! After high school with my photography class just before I started college.”

 

“You did? Where did you stay?”

 

“Los Angeles.”

 

“For real? I was based in Anaheim!”

 

Conversation suddenly turns then to life in the US, trying to learn the language, adapting to the culture changes and the LA heat. Jungkook mentions a restaurant he used to frequent at which Yugyeom almost loses his mind telling him he’d visited the same place. Taehyung doesn’t remember ever seeing Jungkook so animated talking to anyone let alone speak as much as he is and it surprises him. But the younger seems to be like a fountain of knowledge bringing up all parts of his life, his interests and clicking with Yugyeom in a level people only wish for on a first date. It seems like no matter what they always have something to talk about, something to say to each other and it’s easy. Taehyung wonders about the first time he and Jungkook had met... had it been that easy for them? He watches then, intently at the way their eyes form crescent moons, and the way their lips are pulled back so tightly, into smiles revealing their teeth. They seem to almost be connected in some weird way and the thought makes him feel strange. In that instant he can’t help but want the whole night to end.

 

They finish up their meals quickly, the chatting non-stop, the conversations packed full of details and anecdotes from the two of them. In Taehyung's mind it almost seems certain that Jungkook has finally met his match on a date, that he’s finally going to be happy and ask the other if a second date would be allowed on the cards. Taehyung braces for the need to say ‘yes’ not wanting to not support his best friend and his new found interest in this boy Taehyung had only met tonight but who apparently knew Jimin so well. As they pay up and walk out of the restaurant he can already see the question forming on Yugyeom's lips, sitting there, just waiting for the right moment to come out. When Jungkook turns to him and gives him another smile he takes the opportunity to go for it.

 

“We were thinking of heading to a bar now? Would you guys want to join us?”

 

Taehyung is ready for Jungkook to agree, to say yes straight away before he’s barely even got his coat round his shoulders. It’s to his greatest surprise then when Jungkook lets out a sound of annoyance and shakes his head.

 

“I’m so sorry” he says, “we’d love to but I have a really early start tomorrow. I think it’s best I call it a night.”

 

Taehyung's eyes widen at the excuse knowing full well Jungkook has no such thing the next day, talking earlier about how excited he was to sleep in tomorrow, scheduling his daily run for midday instead of morning.

 

Yugyeom takes no offence though and his smile stays plastered on his face, nodding his head respectfully as his own friend and Taehyung's date calls down a cab. “No problem,” He says, “maybe some other time?” Jungkook nods and then they all say their goodbyes breezily, the two boys eventually travelling off down the road in their taxi.

 

“Kook? You don’t have work tomorrow?” It’s the first thing Taehyung says when they’re alone. Jungkook places his hands in his coat pockets and rocks on his heels.

 

“I know,” he says, his words coming out with an extra breath, evident in the cold nights air.

 

“I thought you liked him?” Taehyung asks again. “You guys were hitting it off really well.”

 

Jungkook shrugs, “we were” he comments, “but I could tell you weren’t really feeling it. We’re in this together right?”

 

The elder nods but he’s still confused. Jungkook and Yugyeom were getting on so well, he doesn’t understand.

 

“He was a nice guy but I wasn’t really feeling it either” Jungkook answers, as though he knew the question was brewing inside Taehyung. “We had a lot in common but I didn’t feel any connection beyond friendship.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Really.”

 

Of course he doesn’t say why. Doesn’t tell Taehyung that the thought of considering anyone in any way other than friendship was almost preposterous to him. How could he when he had someone like Taehyung in his life? Someone who decorated his world with beautiful flowers and a shining sun, someone who turned every dull day into a splash of colour?

 

“You wanna come back to my place?” he then asks, “there’s a cup of hot coco with your name on it?”

 

Taehyung is looking down at the ground but at the sound of a warm drink he can’t help but smile, trying and failing to bite his bottom lip to stop it. When he looks up Jungkook’s wide eyes are staring at him expectantly. Wide and innocent like they always are, so inviting, so friendly. A look the elder has noticed that he only gives him. His own stare. He nods his head and then Jungkook opens his arm for Taehyung to links their arms together. They’re both smiling so brightly, both of them wanting no other way for the night to end as they begin to take off down the street with the promise of late night movies and cuddles set deep within both of their minds. This felt more right than going to any bar tonight, Taehyung thinks as he watches Jungkook, who’s absentmindedly staring up at the night sky, counting the stars that shine down on the two of them. He smiles to himself as he tightens his grip on his best friends arm.

 

This felt so much more right.

Chapter Text

Several weeks pass after the date with Yugyeom and regardless of all the good things Jungkook has to say about the evening, he tells Jimin that he doesn’t think he’ll be interested in seeing Yugyeom in a date environment again. Jimin is surprisingly cool about it, doesn’t even push it the slightest, only smiling and nodding his head at Jungkook’s words as though he was expecting them. The younger doesn’t question his weird reaction though, in fact he’s learnt over the years never to question any of his hyung's for their often weird or random behaviour.

But things settle easily after that night and Jungkook even manages to get round to telling Taehyung that he thinks maybe they’re getting a little old for this dating thing and that they should slow down a bit before they go on any more. Taehyung takes that information well, Jungkook thinks his eyes light up at the suggestion but he can’t be quite sure... at the exact same time the microwave had beeper signalling the two of them that their popcorn was ready. Even still he’s happy with the way things are working out for him.

He’s on another one of his morning runs as he meanders through his thoughts about his friends, his love, the gallery and his next photography gig. For such an early morning the usual 6am chill isn’t present, and instead the air feels warm, inviting. He could feel in his heart that today was going to be a good day. He takes a left turn into the gates of the usual Park he frequents, telling himself that it’s such a nice morning he’ll only do two laps before heading back home. A part of him wishes he’d brought his camera out because there’s something almost idyllic about the way the Morning dew seems to sit upon the leaves of the flowers, and the way the morning sun seems so serene finding its place in the sky. He breathes in the air delightfully and allows himself to smile.

He makes it round one lap before he’s sure he can hear someone calling him.

Unsure whether it’s just paranoia or not he takes only one of his earphones out of his ear and tears his head left and right, slowing his feet only a little bit before he realises his suspicions had been correct and there’s a figure a little down the path from him waving their hand.

He halts and turns, smiling as Yugyeom catches up and then he pauses his music to greet the other properly.

“Good morning,” the boy says, gentle smile on his lip. He’s dressed similarly to Jungkook, grey workout gear, tight fitted to his body, his own earphones hanging idly round his neck but he isn’t dripping the same amount of sweat and the other figures he probably only just got here.

“Yugyeom hey,” Jungkook replies, albeit a little awkwardly. He wasn’t expecting to see the other and whilst it wasn’t an unpleasant surprise, he wonders whether or not Yugyeom had wanted to seen him again after the date. Whether he was bummed at the fact Jungkook had practically turned him down.

Yugyeom doesn’t seem conscious or annoyed however and instead begins to stretch his arms, gearing himself up for his exercise. “I would say I’m surprised to see you out this morning but I’m really not.” He comments, “how long have you been out here?”

He peers down at his watch and tilts his head slightly as he figures out his time. “About an hour an a half,” he says, “give or take. It’s good to see you...”

He adds the last bit on for good measure, to seem polite and like he totally hadn’t told Jimin he wasn’t interested in Yugyeom and wouldn’t want to see him again. The comment makes the other smile again.

“You too,” he says, “I’ve got to at least get a half hour jog in but when we’re both done do you maybe wanna go for some breakfast? Catch up?” He isn’t nervous in asking the question, seemingly speaking so casually, friendly almost as though they’re two good pals from College or something rather than having just been on a first date. Jungkook swallows at he tries to think of what to say. He doesn’t want to lead the other on and he really doesn’t want him to think of it as another date, but he doesn’t want to be rude either. Yugyeom was still an amazing guy and they did get along well. Plus he was Jimins friend and he really didn’t want to come off as an asshole.

As if sensing his apprehension Yugyeom speaks up again. “Just as friends,” he says, “in case you were thinking this was a date or something. I mean aren’t you starving?”

At the sound of the word friend Jungkook seems to relax a little and when he registers Yugyeom's question he realises that he is in fact very hungry. He considers it for a few more seconds, looking at Yugyeom who is staring at him expectantly, his friendly smile never faltering. He was just going to head home and cook for himself so the thought of not having to do that seems inviting. He smiles then and nods his head.

“Breakfast?” He asks again. Breakfast was harmless.

 

They find a table at a small cafe not too far from the park that has a soft interior, flowers and pale pink and yellow decorations scattered almost everywhere. The menu is surprisingly appetising and the two boys order their food quickly, Jungkook opting for a full breakfast omelette with an extra side of bacon as Yugyeom picks the blueberry pancakes. They catch up easily, discuss their work again and what they’ve been up to since they last saw each other. Jungkook tries not to feel too guilty about the fact no second date was on the cards but Yugyeom is already stopping him before he can apologise. In fact the taller boy eats a forkful of his pancakes and then smiles at the other knowingly.

“So how long have you known?”

Jungkook is confused by the question and doesn’t think much if it, eating his own slice of bacon casually. “What do you mean?” He asks just as obliviously, completely unprepared for what Yugyeom is going to say next.

“How long have you known that you’ve been in love with Taehyungsshi?”

His knife and fork clatter against his plate, several heads turning round to figure out what’s happened. He almost chokes on his eggs but he swallows them down and then swallows again for good measure.
“I don’t know what you-"

Yugyeom laughs, “it’s okay” he says, “you don’t have to pretend. I know.”

Jungkook’s can’t meet the others eyes and he sighs resigned. “How could you tell?” He eventually says, his voice a mixture between anxious but also slightly relieved. Like for the first time he can actually talk about this with someone. Like in all of ten years, the words have been spoken out into the air.

“You watch him.” Yugyeom replies. “You stare at him a lot.”

Jungkook blushes and if it hadn’t been confirmed, the red in his cheeks is the final bullet.

“And you kind of smile whenever you do. It’s a really soft look, gentle- like he’s the most precious thing you’ve ever seen in the whole entire world.... like he means the whole entire world to you.”

Jungkook looks up then, his face serious. The words Yugyeom spoke May be the truest of them all. That’s how he sees Taehyung, that’s how he’s always seen him.

“I know that look,” Yugyeom says, and then his face falls. “I used to have it...”

Jungkook tilts his head then and Yugyeom laughs almost sadly. “You aren’t the only one in love with someone.”

Jungkook straightens himself in his chair and then leans himself forward slightly. “Your ex?” He asks curiously, remembering Jimin's words about Yugyeom's recent breakup. The other nods his head. He tries to smile but he still looks sad as he does so and Jungkook feels bad for him.

“I miss him a lot.”

“Do you mind me asking what happened?”

Yugyeom pulls back, places his hands down into his laps. “We were fighting a lot. All stupid things now I think about it but you know at the time that’s all that matters right?” He tucks a bit of his fringe back and licks his lip before he continues, his eyebrows furrowing as he recalls the memory. “One days things were really bad and I told him to get out, said I didn’t want to see him again... you never mean those words when you say them but you realise soon enough that the other person doesn’t know that...”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine. I mean I let him go didn’t I? And until I can work up the courage to face him again I’m just stuck here with my feelings.” He tries to shrug. “But this isn’t about me,” he says before smiling again. “You and Taehyung that’s... you guys seem so close. Do you think he has feelings for you too?”

Jungkook snorts in reply, tries to laugh but the thought hurts his heart more than anything. Did he think Taehyung liked him too? He shakes his head. “I’m his best friend,” he says, and he doesn’t mean for it to sound so sad, so lonely. “We’ve always been just friends...”

Yugyeom sighs with Jungkook at the same time. “Being in love sucks right?” He comments and Jungkook laughs, nods his head again.

The younger then gives him a smile and leans his face in his hands, momentarily forgetting about his food.” So What made you realise?” He asks with a glowing stare, like he wants all the juicy details.

Jungkook looks at him again and tucks his lips into each other. He’d never been so open before, he’d never spoken about this with another person. He chews his top lip, once twice and then knows he can’t hold it in anymore.

“I take pictures of him. I’ve always taken pictures oh him and he collects them.... for his birthday every year I make him a frame with all his memories.” Yugyeom smiles at the thought, of how sweet a present that is to give to someone. “The first time.... when I was thinking about what to get him for his birthday, before I had the idea... I was laying on my bed in my college dorm and I was looking through my photos on the camera screen. I was just scanning and scanning but every time I got to a picture of him I just... stopped. It was like my photos looked different when he was the focus, they were brighter, they had so much life to them... his smile and his eyes, he just looked so.....” his voice trails off embarrassed at his words but Yugyeom is smiling at him sheepishly listening to the story. When their eyes meet again the other boy urges him to continue with a glare and Jungkook lets out another shakes breath as he plays with his fingers. “I found myself just smiling. I was just staring at this one picture of him with the biggest grin on my face thinking about him, about how much my life had changed now that he was in it... it was then that I knew. Things just seemed to make sense.”

“Wow.”

Jungkook nods at the expression, he knows it’s corny. He is more than aware how ridiculous he sounds, his face is so hot he can only imagine what he looks like right now.

“That was nine years ago...” he breathes in and out, allows himself to finally say the words out loud, allow himself to finally admit it in the open. “I’ve been in love with him for nine years and I don’t know how not to be. I don’t think I ever will.”

Jungkook battles with feeling of anxiety and relief after his confession feeling both glad that he finally spoke about his feelings to someone but worried that somehow Taehyung will find out somehow. That now that it’s been spoken to the wind, the wind will find the other and reveal the secret. Yugyeom swears to him that everything they had spoken about will stay between them and he thanks him for the support and then their breakfast comes to an end when Jungkook’s phone rings and a picture of a much younger Taehyung with his hair in pigtails, pulling a funny face appears on the screen. Yugyeom smiles at him knowingly and Jungkook rolls his eyes before placing the receiver to his ear.

When he hears Taehyung's deep voice that feeling of home settles within him and when the elder asks him to meet at his theatre, Jungkook tells him he’ll be there in no later than an hour. Yugyeom waves him off chirpily, smiling and teasing, telling him to go see his love and Jungkook tries not to smile too brightly at the words but fails miserably.

After returning home to shower and change his outfit, he sticks true to his word, appearing at Taehyung's theatre in just under an hour. When he spots the tufts of light sandy brown hair, head tilted with his chin in between his fingers, looking deep in thought, he smiles to himself. He always loved seeing Taehyung when he worked. He walks through the stalls over to the stage where the other stands and when Taehyung turns and sees him he stops what he’s doing almost instantly, smiling and jumping down from the higher platform.

“You’re here!” He cries taking hold of Jungkook’s hand and squeezing it in his fingers. “We’re just running through some scenes. Bogum is out today so Minjae is going on for the first time. He’s super nervous.”

Bogum was Taehyung's lead actor and Minjae was his understudy. All theatre shows had them but Bogum was often a machine, he’d never needed his understudy to go on before until now. Jungkook has become familiar with Taehyung's cast through the weeks and weeks of casting all the way through to rehearsals and tech. In the same way Taehyung spent his free time down at the gallery with Jungkook or out shooting photos, Jungkook would hang around in the dark and mysterious theatres, watching the same scenes of Taehyung's play roll over and over again, never getting bored of it. It was a habit they’d had since college and it would always be that way.

“Is Bogum okay?” He asks concerned and Taehyung nods in reply.

“Food poisoning” he says, “he’ll be fine but he needs to rest. At this point I’m more worried about Minjae.”

Jungkook looks to the stage and sure enough the younger actors face is pale, almost sick to his stomach. “He’s normally fine but we have the people from uptown coming to watch the show tonight.”

“Tonight?” Jungkook’s eyes widen and Taehyung looks at him.

“It’s the third time” he says. “Yongseok hyung thinks that after tonight’s performance they’ll make their final decisions about the transfer. That’s why I stopped by. I came and brought everyone a care package.” He points to the baskets Jungkook is only now realising line the front of the stage. Trust Taehyung to go out of his way to bring something for all of the cast and crew to lift their spirits. He then lifts his eyes to where Yongseok is standing, the shows directors who was on the stage, mumbling something to the two costars at the same time. Now that he is looking properly everyone seems high strung- tense. Tonight was a big night. Jungkook looks back at Taehyung and he can see in the others face that he himself is anxious, the thought of a show transfer is all he’s ever really wanted- it was the dream.

“Things are going to go perfectly.” Jungkook says then, in an effort to calm him down. Taehyung's eyes soften at the sentiment. “I promise you Tae, everything will be okay.”

Taehyung smiles and then pulls Jungkook over to two seats in the centre of the stalls, their hands still intertwined as he does so. They takes their seats and then Taehyung calls for them to roll the scene from the top, turning to Jungkook almost the second after it starts.

“So what have you been up to this morning?” He asks casually albeit through a whisper, wanting to be filled in with every part of Jungkook’s day but not wanting to interrupt the stars on stage.

Jungkook stretches his back, getting comfortable in his chair as his eyes stay focused on the scene. “Oh I went for my run and then uhhh I actually bumped into Yugyeom. We ended up going for breakfast.” He doesn’t think there’s much wrong in the sentiment but in the way Taehyung doesn’t reply straight away he wonders if he’s said something he shouldn’t have.

Taehyung takes a second to digest the information and then tilts his head. “You went to breakfast with Yugyeom?” He asks, his voice coming out just the tiniest bit higher, “like on a breakfast date?”

“It wasn’t a date,” Jungkook says casually, “we just bumped into each other, it was a coincidence.”

Taehyung nods his head in understanding, “Oh... okay” he says, “I mean 'coz if it was a date you would have broken the deal.”

Jungkook looks at the other then. He’d completely forgotten about he pact and their no second date rule unless they both agree to it clause. Taehyung had been pretty clear he hadn’t wanted to see the two boys again and Jungkook had been more than okay with that.

“It wasn’t a date. There’s nothing about becoming friends with a date right?”

“You guys are becoming friends?”

Jungkook shrugs but then nods his head. “We swapped numbers. He’s a nice guy.”

“But he likes you? Don’t you think maybe you’ll give him the wrong idea?” Taehyung crosses his legs as he speaks, his words coming out before he could ever really think about what he said. His voice is so nonchalant that Jungkook isn’t able to pick up on the interrogating notion of his questions.

“Oh he doesn’t like me like that.” Jungkook replies thinking about their conversations over their meals. They had spent so much of their breakfast talking about the other boys in their lives that to Jungkook, Taehyung's words are almost ridiculous. Of course it’s not like the elder to know why that would be the case though and so he doesn’t look convinced. Still, he nods his head anyway, wanting to drop the topic, not wanting to focus on Yugyeom anymore than he needs to. He had enough trust in Jungkook to know that if what he said was true than it was probably true. He doesn’t even know why he cares so much.

Jungkook thought maybe the lunch with Yugyeom would have been a one time thing, but when he receives a call from the other the next day, he doesn’t feel any sort of hesitation about hanging out with the boy once more. Now that he’d made it clear about his feelings for Taehyung, which still felt sort of weird, being out in the open, he felt comfortable with the boy, like they could develop a good friendship. So he feels more than happy to accept the others proposition to meet up again when he asks. Jungkook was often busy with the gallery and if he wasn’t with his group of friends, he spent a lot of time alone. The others often had people they could meet up with, friends of their own from their college courses, friends they worked with. Taehyung even had a small group of actor and producer friends that he went drinking with every month or so for a catch up. Granted he would always invite Jungkook with them, but the younger very rarely agreed to go. He knew that he had to give Taehyung the chance to hang out with his friends alone. 

Either way, Jungkook had never been the type to have a lot of friends, from a lot of places. After meeting the guys, he was more than happy to stay in the friendship bubble that had formed and even to this day he doesn’t regret that. Still, at the thought of getting to know Yugyeom a little better, he’s welcoming to the idea. He figures it would be nice to have someone his own age, who he could talk to for once. Someone who wasn’t a hyung. 

It becomes easy then for them to chat a little more and soon, since their breakfast morning, they meet several more times. Its not that Jungkook keeps his meetings with Yugyeom secret, but he doesn't give much detail when it comes to them being together. In fact its mainly because of what Yugyeom knows that he feels a little awkward bringing him up. Like somehow talking about Yugyeom would lead to him revealing his feelings for Taehyung too. 

But Jungkook is enjoying himself. For the first time time in nine years he had been able to open up about his feelings for Taehyung and having the ability to actually talk about his emotions has been almost therapeutic. He never realised just how much he has locked up inside him but since he’d been hanging around with Yugyeom, he’s been allowed to have an outlet to really understand his feelings and somehow no longer be afraid of them. In speaking his thoughts aloud, he was finally confronting things he never thought he’d be able to and he was beginning to think it felt like a step in the right direction. That maybe one day, the things he has been able to say to Yugyeom, he may finally be able to tell Taehyung- he’d finally be able to confess.

 Maybe it was wrong to rely so much on the other boy, his new friend. To spend so much time meeting up just to talk about Taehyung. But Jungkook had been helping Yugyeom too with his own boy troubles and together they had formed somewhat of an emotional support group. He didn’t really want to question it, not when he felt like he could just open himself up so much.

 “Kook you’re up!” Yugyeom shouts throwing a curly fry into his mouth as he walks back from the bowling lane. He’d just managed to score a spare and is smiling in victory regardless of the fact Jungkook was still winning overall and they were on their last round.

 Jungkook stands up arrogantly, stretching his back as he takes his strides forward, picking up his ball of choice and heading to the lane. He gets into position, one leg behind the other, arms up in front of him and as he swings back he lets out a controlled breathe and then releases the ball. He stands as it rolls and in almost an instant all the pins fall down. He fist pumps the air and spins on his heels, turning back to his friend with a smile of victory.

 “I won!” He screams, a short celebratory dance following his hollering. Yugyeom laughs and watches as the screen projects Jungkook’s name as the winner of their game. He concedes to the other, nodding his head and accepting his defeat as Jungkook continues to chide and then he leans up and begins eating the rest of his snacks.

 “How are you so good at this?” Yugyeom asks after offering the last of the curly fries to Jungkook who takes it and chews happily. He shrugs nonchalantly.

 “Used to play a lot in college,” he says, “me and the guys would play in teams all the time.”

 “You and Tae?”

 “Sometimes.” He says smiling at the memory, “we would rotate because we were an odd number,” he starts to laugh. “The guys all kinda sucked but I got really good at it. I always thought I was kinda fun.”

 “So I guess you must have won often right?”

 “Yes and no,” he laughs again “Tae was....he was never great.” A fond smile settles on his face, his eyes sparkling admirably. “When we’d play together we’d change the rules just between us. How many times could we make Yoongi swear, how many times could Tae get told off by one of the workers,” he laughs through his words, remembering it all so happily. “It was the only time I didn’t care whether I won or lost- playing with him was just fun enough in itself.”

 “That’s really sweet,” Yugyeom says, “you two seem so inseparable after all these years.”

 His smile turns embarrassed and he scratches his neck, “we are.” It’s a sentiment he feels proud to say, something he prides himself on, being so close to the other. Having someone like Taehyung in his life was like winning the lottery several times over. Anyone who knew the boy would probably think the same.

 They finish up at the bowling alley and take to the streets of Seoul where they head through market stools and street food carts. Jungkook often liked to drop by and watch street performers and eat good snack food when he could and apart from doing it with Taehyung, he’d never really had the chance to do it with anyone else. It was nice, having a friend to walk around with and not feel the desire to grab hold of their hand, kiss them sweetly or feed them food. It makes him realise how much being around Taehyung makes his mind so focused on the other.

 “So tell me. What made you fall in love with him?”

 Jungkook is less surprised by the questions now, used to these types of conversations between him and Yugyeom.

 “It’s a load of things- I can’t just pin point one moment.”

 Yugyeom laughs, “give me an example at least? Something that you can think of.”

 He bites his lip. He has something in mind but he’s reluctant to share it, “This is gonna sound so stupid.”

 “Try me.”

 Jungkook sighs again, “He always brings me water.”

 “What?” Yugyeom stares at him humoured, wondering what Jungkook means. The way his face begins to blush makes Yugyeom giggle.

 “I know it’s ridiculous and it’s the smallest thing ever but I don’t know,” he shrugs and rubs a hand through his hair as a faint smile etches its way on to his face as he thinks about the man he’s been in love with for forever.

 “Like whenever we go somewhere he’ll always make sure that I’ve got a drink before anyone else.”

 Yugyeom's giggle breaks out in to a proper laugh and his cackles make Jungkook snap out of his daydream and nudge the younger. “It’s not funny” He says but he’s started laughing too “I...it just makes me feel like he cares about me, you know? Like I’m a thought in his mind for even the littlest of things? Like I’m special.”

 Yugyeom lets out a low whistle, “boy you really are whipped huh?”

 Jungkook doesn’t know what to say. He can’t argue because it’s true, he can’t really say anything.

 “These feelings you have” Yugyeom says, “do you ever wish you could just tell him? Let him know he makes you feel this way? That these things mean so much to you?”

 Jungkook sighs again, “of course I do but... I can’t just tell him.”

 “Why not?”

 “Yugyeom it’s been nine years, how can I jeopardise that?”

 He gives him a sympathetic look. “Jungkook you just said it yourself. It’s been nine years, that’s exactly why you can.” Yugyeom tries to grab Jungkook’s eye-line but he’s staring down hard at the pavement, chewing his lip in thought. Would it really be that simple?

 

Taehyung has been busy. Things were looking positive after the uptown producers had come to watch the show for one final time and it seemed as though the transfer to the main theatre district was looking likely. At this point now, he was just waiting for the phone call to confirm that it would be happening. And damn, did he want that phone call badly. He's been trying not to obsess over it, live his life as he normally does and just wait patiently for the call to come. Of course that's harder said than done, and so for the last week or so, he's buried himself in his work for his new play in an effort to keep his mind at rest. Seemingly his anxiety about the transfer also seemed to bring him a new form of motivation and he was feeling pretty proud that he had managed to write so much in the last few days and actually see progress in his new play. It felt like soon everything would pay off, and that was enough for him to feel inspired. 

Being hauled up in his room with his laptop however, meant he'd been disconnected from everyone else and he hasn't seen his friends for a while... depending on whether nightly face-time calls with Jungkook before he went to sleep counted or not. He's excited then when his phone buzzes beside him and he sees Jimin's name pop up on his screen.

Jimin to taetae:

 

You with Jungkook?

 

He reads the message and tilts his head, opening up the text box and replying quickly.

 

Taetae to Jimin:

 

No. Why?

 

Jimin to taetae:

 

I needed his help down at the studio. Light fixture broke and it would be easier having him come fix it than have to get someone to pay. Know where he is?

 

Taetae to Jimin:

 

Nope. been writing all day- barely seen anything other than my laptop. Have you tried messaging him?

 

Jimin to taetae:

 

Already did. Didn’t reply. Figured you’d be the next best person to ask.

 

Jimin to taetae:

 

Oh wait he replied now

 

Taetae to Jimin:

 

Where is he?

 

Taetae to Jimin:

 

Jimin?

 

Taehyung tries to return to his writing but the random message from the dancer made him feel curious. Jungkook wasn’t always the quickest when replying to messages sure, and this wouldn’t have been the first time that one of their other friends has contacted Taehyung in hopes of reaching him, but usually Taehyung always had at least some idea of where the other was. 

 He grows curious then. Come to think of it, him and Jungkook hadn’t even spoken today. Since when did that ever happen?

 He unlocks his phone screen and opens his messages scrolling through the chats as though Jungkook’s name wasn’t the second chat box, wondering whether he’d missed a message from the boy today somehow. There is no red dot to signify any sort of notification however and that makes him frown.

What was Jungkookie up to today?

He turns his head to stare over at his wall of photographs briefly- settling on a photo of the two of them from four years back, at a party, arms round each other smiling wildly at the camera, fancy suits on their bodies. He looks at Jungkook especially, his hair was a lighter brown then, blonde highlights tousled through it after Taehyung told him it would look cute. It was the year Jungkook had taken a photography job in japan for a few weeks and they’d spent the longest time apart since their college days. Taehyung had missed him so much that when he returned they’d spent almost a full week practically locked in Taehyung apartment playing video games and vegging out on bad takeout food. He smiles at the thought of all the weight Jungkook had gained and how often he used to pinch his chubbier cheeks. He always thought he looked better with a couple extra pounds on him.

 The thoughts make him feel overwhelmingly nostalgic and more than that, he decides he misses the younger's face. He doesn’t care if that’s ridiculous or not, he wasn’t in Japan this time and in fact he had seen him yesterday, but they were best friends right? Wanting to see your best friend every day was normal...

 He turns back to his cell then and picks it up once more, moving to the phone symbol and then holding it up to his ear as it begins to ring.

“Tae”

At the sound of his best friends voice, Taehyung can’t help but smile. He sounds the way he always does greeting the other, so soft and honest, a tone reserved just for h im.

 “Hey,” he replies, his own smile plastering his face. “We haven’t spoken today. It’s weird,” he tells the younger with a giggle. “I was thinking we could go to that diner near your gallery- the one with the good burgers?”

“Now?” Jungkook asks.

“Now or in a bit? If you’re free?” He leans himself against his desk and wonders why Jungkook seems to be hesitating.

“Would we... could we do it tomorrow instead?”

Taehyung's smile falters. “Tomorrow?” He questions.

“Yeah its just... i'm with Yugyeom at the minute. I was showing him the gallery and then we were gonna head out for some bbq.”

“Oh,” Taehyung replies. 

 “You can join us if you like-?”

 “No, no, it’s fine. You enjoy yourselves” Taehyung tells him. He smiles again, as if Jungkook can see him and he's trying to really reassure the boy that its fine. When he realises what hes doing however, he swallows and then bites his lip. “I’ll uhhh, I’ll see you tomorrow, yeah?”

 “Great see you tomorrow. I can’t wait.”

The line goes dead and Taehyung places his phone back down into his desk. Out with Yugyeom? Again? Taehyung and Jungkook were connected enough that he had known that the two boys had met a few times in the last week, but its still new to him, hearing that they're together once more. He was glad in one way that Jungkook had found a friend in Yugyeom, but at the same time it was different. He runs a hand through his hair as he pauses, thinking about the two boys together and wonders if they're having fun, what they are up to. Trying to ignore the strange feeling in his chest, he rolls his chair back over to his laptop to go back to work. The thought of having a break and going for dinner with the other would have been nice, especially because Jungkook was always the best at keeping his mind at ease and distracted, but the promise of seeing him tomorrow was good enough. perfect actually. He wonders then how in all these years, the thought of going for dinner with Jungkook, something so similar, can still make him feel so full of excited anticipation. 

 

Two weeks later:

 “No Jungkook today?” Jin asks moving himself over to the sofa to sit next to his husband. Instinctively they link hands, their wedding bands touching delicately. Taehyung can’t help but stare. When he had asked the couple if he could visit them for the day, he was more than relieved when they had said yes. He had just finished the final scene of the first act of his new play and he wanted to celebrate the small victory, but he still hadn't received a call yet from uptown and that was worrying him. He really should have heard back by now and he can't help but think that maybe they have changed their minds. That his show isn't good enough. At first he had contacted Jungkook, the other always helping him when he got into a nervous space like this one, but the younger had been busy.

With Yugyeom again. 

“Not today,” he says, crossing his feet on the ground leaning against the back of the chair, turning his attention to the television. His focus was skewed as is with the worry about his show, that he really didn't want to get into the whereabouts of Jungkook. Apart from the dinner they had organised, he really hadn't seen much of him since and when he had tried to meet up, much like today, he had already made plans.

 “Thought you two were joined at the hip?” Namjoon replies, chuckling at his own joke. Jin rolls his eyes and Taehyung tries to take the statement lightly.

“He’s actually busy.”

 “Work?”

 Taehyung shakes his head, “Oh uhm no, he’s with a friend.”

 “Jungkook has other friends?”

 Jin tuts, smacking Namjoon lightly on the chest urging him to stop with the teasing. Namjoon shrugs obliviously and his husband rolls his eyes, gesturing with his eyes that they need to tread on this subject lightly. Clearly Taehyung wasn't in a good mood.

 “He’s met up with that Yugyeom boy a lot recently huh?” Jin asks cautiously to the other, craning his head to try and see how Taehyung's face has reacted to the statement. Whether he’s reacted at all.

 The younger boy shrugs, “guess so.”

 “... are they dating?”

 “No.”

 “....so they’re just... hanging out?”

 “Seems like it...”

 “Hmm.”

 “Hmm?” Taehyung repeats Jin's tone, confused by all the questioning. 

 “...well it’s just... they seem to be getting pretty close I just wondered if maybe-“

 At that comment Taehyung looks over at the couple on the sofa, cutting Jin off. The elders attempt to be less blunt than Namjoon hadn’t really worked, and the awkward back and forth was making Taehyung uncomfortable. He didn’t really want to talk about this. About Jungkook. When Jungkook had told Taehyung at the theatre that he and Yugyeom were only friends, he didn't question it. Jungkook was just spending time with another one of his friends.   “Jungkook wouldn’t lie to me” He tells them, “he told me they were just friends. He also wouldn’t break the pact.”

 In unison the two of them nod and ‘ahhhh’ dramatically, pretending to act like they weren’t prying for all the information they could and analyse Taehyung's reactions.

 “He’s fine. We’re fine. He’s allowed friends isn’t he?”

 “Well of course.”

 “Then exactly. He’s just with his friend. That’s that- it’s fine.” He crosses his arms and turns back the the television.

 Namjoon is tempted to make a comment about how the several ‘fines’ really don’t make it seem like anything is just that, but if Taehyung's glare is anything to go by, he knows it’s better to leave that for another time.

 After all, He knew that the only reason Taehyung had come to visit both him and Jin was because he was lonely. It wasn’t often he would just pop in like this by himself and they knew they younger boy well enough to know that he really didn’t like being alone. It makes him think back to college when one of the boys would often go and stay with him in his apartment and keep him company. Just before Jungkook moved in. He still remembers the day they became roommates and met and it was the younger who eventually fulfilled that role for Taehyung afterwards. It now almost makes him feel guilty for bringing up all this Yugyeom talk. When Taehyung turns back to the television and Jin looks at Namjoon, he can tell his husband is thinking the same thing.

 Jin sighs and Namjoon nods, confirming he understands how the other feels. As they snuggle into each other they both let their minds wander to their two youngest best friends and if they’ll ever realise what the rest of them already knew.

Chapter Text

Since Jungkook and Yugyeom had spoken at the bowling alley, the words of his friend had lingered in his mind. He had never considered confessing before. For Jungkook, he had grown perfectly content with the thought of staying silent about his feelings, never admitting them, never opening up and being Taehyung's best friend forever. But Yugyeom had given him something to think about. For the first time, he was beginning to doubt whether he would be able to stay silent forever, if he should. Having the release the last few weeks with Yugyeom to talk about and explore just how deep his feelings for Taehyung went had been eye opening. They had shown him just how deep he really was. And maybe telling Taehyung wouldn't be the worst thing ever. Maybe saying it out loud would be what he needed?

 

“Jungkook is that you?”

 

The thoughts had only been heightened by the second he had gotten a morning call from the elder asking him to go round for the day. Taehyung had sounded bright on the phone, like he was excited for something and almost desperate to see him. Jungkook smiled on the other line, telling Taehyung that he was free all day and couldn't wait to see him. Weirdly they haven’t seen each other as much as usual in the last few weeks and he was grateful for the call because he missed him. apart from their one dinner and their phone conversations, he had been busy with Yugyeom and work and it had been tough for them to meet between both of their schedules. He was looking forward to getting to spend the day with the other like they used to. Now that he was entering the apartment though, a small bit of anxiety flowed through him too, thoughts about confessing circling once more.

 

“Kookie?”

 

The concern in the others voice about who is at the door makes Jungkook heart swell and he takes his shoes off, hurriedly. “It’s me!” He shouts back, realising he never actually replied before and then he’s making his way though Taehyung's apartment to find him.

 

“Kitchen!” He shouts back.

 

Jungkook quickly manoeuvres himself into the kitchen expecting to see Taehyung eating out of a cereal package of buttering some slightly under-cooked toast with jam- his usual go to breakfasts when he’s alone. He’s surprised then when the elder is hunched over his computer screen on his kitchen table with two very heavy looking books on either side of him, glasses perched on the end of his nose, face so close to the screen, Jungkook wonders if he can even read whatever’s being displayed on it.

 

“Good morning,” Taehyung says, without looking away. Jungkook’s eyebrow raises in question. For someone who sounded so excited this morning, he now seemed distracted, busy.

 

“What are you doing?” He asks, pulling out the chair next to the other boy. At the sound of its movement against the tiled floor Taehyung leans back and waits for Jungkook to sit beside him. When they look at each other Jungkook gives him a short smile and Taehyung's fret between his brow disappears and he smiles back.

 

“Tae, how come you’re up so early?”

 

The elder leans back in his chair properly then, turning it slightly so it’s less pointed at the screen and more at the other boy. Once he’s given Jungkook his full attention, he pulls his robe tighter on his body and sighs, “I’m trying to find a recipe to cook for my dinner party next week.”

 

Jungkook had forgot that this month it was Taehyung's turn to host a meal for all of their friends. “A recipe? Since when did you decide to cook for it? I thought you’d just be getting take-out like you usually do?” He looks down again and sure enough the two books by the laptop where cookery books. He tilts his head to read the title of one of the dishes and smiles to himself. Taehyung the chef- that wasn’t something he’d ever seen before.

 

“I was going to but then I thought I’d try something different.” A big smile appears on his face, “actually this dinner is kinda special.”

 

“Special?”

 

Taehyung shakes his head. “I can’t tell you why, it’s a surprise for when I see you all. But it’s good and I wanted us to all celebrate together so I thought I’d cook something!” He then dramatically flails over the table, a resigned look dawns his face as he leans himself along his arms, “I just forgot how damn hard this all is.”

 

Jungkook giggles at how cute his is, a grown man pouting at his laptop, messy morning hair sticking up dramatically from the way he’s laying. He then pulls himself up and flutters his eyelashes several times, the pout not budging. The stare makes Jungkook’s heart ricochet and he swallows awkwardly.

 

“It’s why I called you to come and help me. I trust your food senses.”

 

“Tae, Jin is a chef...”

 

The elder wafts his hand around. “I know” he says, “but sue me, I missed you. Two birds with one stone, not only can you help me but I get to see your pretty little face.” He boops Jungkook's nose and the boy blushes sheepishly, grateful when Taehyung decides to turn to one of the books and read a page, so he can hold his cheeks for a second or two to cool them d own. He knows it’s ridiculous getting affected by such a simple comment and action but he just couldn’t help it. That’s just how much Taehyung affected him.

 

He reconsiders the fact that Jin most definitely would have been a better call for this, but if a food picker was what Taehyung wanted this morning than that’s what he was going to get, so Jungkook rolls up his sleeves and pulls his chair closer to the table in determination. “So what we got so far?”

 

They look through the cookbooks together, Taehyung flicking through the book pages as Jungkook endlessly scrolls online, getting hold of a notepad and jotting down all the foods he thinks sounds the nicest. As Taehyung is flicking he can’t help but side eye the other, paying no attention to the pages as they sweep by. He adjust himself on his seat and coughs once.

 

“So,” he says, holding one piece of paper up as he does so. “You’ve been pretty busy recently huh?”

 

He speaks casually yet cautiously. His tone inquisitive yet not so much so that it feels like an inquisition.

 

“Yeah I guess,” Jungkook says, unaware. “I’ve met up with Yugyeom quite a lot these past few weeks. He’s cool.”

 

Taehyung makes a face.

 

“You don’t think so?” Jungkook asks when he notices and he leans up from the computer screen to stare a Taehyung properly, who has tucked his bottom lip into his top, sitting in contemplation.

 

It’s not that he didn’t like Yugyeom, after all, he didn’t really know him. He just really missed his friend, but the last thing he wanted was to seem like he was possessive over who Jungkook could hang around with. He'd never want to ever stop the boy from making friends with other people. It was just that he can't help but wonder if Jungkook was telling him the full story. If he and Yugyeom were more than just casually meeting up. Possibly even dating in secret. He would hope Jungkook wouldn't keep that hidden from him. After all if Jungkook liked the boy, it wasn't up to Taehyung to decide if they really shouldn't be together. But a part of him feels upset about the thought of Jungkook lying to him, and if he was really being honest with himself, he also feels...odd about the thought of Jungkook dating someone anyway. He tries not to approach that part of him though, that little twisting feeling he gets in his stomach when he considers that Jungkook may be falling for Yugyeom, could eventually find himself in love with the other. If Jungkook was hiding his relationship he figures that could only be because of the pact, the fact that second dates were normally off the cards if that's what they had decided. He wouldn't think Jungkook would ever be afraid to discuss that with him though. They've been best friends for so long and he himself has never held back on telling the other anything. thoughts like that tend to calm his overthinking mind. That is until he considers Yugyeom in this whole picture. Like w hy wouldn’t Yugyeom want to date Jungkook? He was funny, smart, caring, good-natured. Not to mention reliable, understanding and he worked out. like, a lot. Plus he was beautiful.... really truly beautiful...at least Taehyung always thought so....

 

“No. No I’m sure he’s great,” Taehyung replies and then licks his lip in the usual way he does. “I guess I’m just surprised you’re together so much...”

 

Jungkook quirks an eyebrow. A fleeting thought enters his mind. A thought that maybe Taehyung was jealous he was out with someone new... that maybe Taehyung didn’t want to share him with someone else. He knows it’s bad that the thought kind of excites him.

 

“but I’m happy for you. I’m glad you’re making friends and going out more.”

 

Maybe not.

 

Jungkook doesn’t say anything else, deciding he doesn’t really want to talk about Yugyeom anymore. The atmosphere feels a little stiffer after bringing up the other boy, a little less like it had felt before and more as though there was some sort of friction now. They don’t really say much else and decide then to just focus on the task at hand.

 

Eventually, Jungkook helps Taehyung narrow his menu down and begins to write him a list of things he definitely wants and will have to pick up from the supermarket because his apartment is so bare of even the essentials. They still need to be sure on what the actual main dish will be but he couldn’t leave he apartment today without the words onion, garlic, salt, pepper and a whole rack of spices written down followed by several exclamation points. Seriously Jin would go crazy if the food didn’t have any flavour.

 

Taehyung doesn’t take much longer to decide the starter and dessert course of his feast but his indecisiveness makes him struggle with the main.

 

“Why not make jajjangmyeon from scratch?” Jungkook eventually says, “everybody likes it and it’s traditional?”

 

“You only want that because you love it so much.”

 

“Not true!” Jungkook says unconvincingly, a defensive stare matched with a playful smile. Taehyung knew him well. He really was vouching for the black bean noodles because he was having a craving.

 

“I can’t cook that. What if I ruin it?” He pouts and Jungkook’s heart flips at the sight. His own stare turns sympathetic and he gives him a gentle smile.

 

“You won’t ruin it Tae, I promise,” he says seriously, taking the other hands.

 

Taehyung's eyes flick to the grip of their fingers before he looks over at the other. “I just want it to be special y’know?”

 

Jungkook’s smile widens. “It will be special, you’re doing it aren’t you? Anything you do is always special.”

 

Taehyung blushes. It’s silent for a moment as he smiles bashfully tucking his hands into his thighs, and lowering his head a little to let the redness disappear. When he looks up the smile is still present. “You think so?” He asks, his voice soft at the question.

 

Jungkook nods his head, no hesitation necessary. “I know so,” he tells him. “It will be fantastic and I’ll be the first one to eat it all up.”

 

“That a promise?”

 

He crosses his heart and nods his head gleefully. I’ll be right here by your side, demolishing my plate.”

 

Taehyung's own smile stretches wide and appears in its boxiest and brightest state, the words of the other making his eyes turn into small crescents.

 

“Okay” he says, “let’s go with that.”

 

“Awesome” Jungkook replies and he fist pumps the air. “Now I can come round a couple hours before to help you out if you need me?”

 

The blonde shakes his head. “No no. I want to do this all myself. You do enough for me as it is. Plus you have to cook for your own night- I can’t make you do mine too.”

 

“You sure? I really don’t mind?”

 

“I’m positive. Just bring that beautiful head of yours here for 6:30pm sharp. No later! Its really important you get here on time!”

 

 

Jungkook slips his shoes on, checking and rechecking himself in the mirror by his door to make sure he looked okay for the evening. He straightens out his shirt again, makes sure his hair is parted correctly and then he steps out with his keys and a bag, off to Taehyung's apartment. It was only 5:15 but he didn’t care that he was leaving so early. Taehyung had text him time and time again to make sure he got there for 6:30 and Jungkook had told him that he would be, knowing all too well he’d be making sure to get there just before six anyway. He knows Taehyung had said he didn’t want any help but he didn’t care. He wanted to go round and just make sure the other was okay- to support him.

 

He’s smiling in the car, excited for the evening, excited to see his friends, to be with Taehyung again, to find out what Taehyung's surprise is. He takes a left out of his road and then his phone rings.

 

He sees Yugyeom's name appear in the screen in his car and he presses a button on the console to answer it.

 

“Gyeomie!” He says, his smile unwavering. When he isn’t greeted with his usual reply though, he waits for a second. “Yugyeom?”

 

He hears a sniff and there's an awkward pause, no voice on the other line. “Yugyeom is everything okay? Are you crying?”

 

“Jungkook are you free?” he hears the other eventually say, his voice sounds tired, there's a tenseness in his vocal chords that strikes Jungkook as unusual. He looks at his clock and bites his lip. He had left early, so technically he was free. He didn't need to be at Taehyung's for another hour.

 

"I'm on my way to Tae's place for dinner but I have a bit of time..."

 

"This is gonna sound so ridiculous-"

 

Jungkook's eyebrows furrow in confusion, "Yugyeom what happened?"

 

The boy takes a shaky breath. "I saw him today... with another guy," he lets out a dry laugh, "god, I feel so ridiculous."

 

“Ohhh Yugyeom," Jungkook says apologetically, "Are you okay?”

 

“C-can you come over?"

 

Jungkook checks the time on the dashboard again. He didn’t want to leave Yugyeom hanging but he didn’t want to be late for Taehyung's either.

 

“P-please Jungkook?” He bites his lip but knows he would feel terrible if he left Yugyeom like this. The boy seemed to be containing a lot of his emotions, but Jungkook knows he wouldn't ask for him to go over, if he wasn't desperate. He changes his indicator to left from right and heads towards Yugyeom's place.

 

“I’ll be there soon okay, it will be okay.”

 

“Thank you Jungkook. I’ll see you soon.”

 

 Jungkook was late. Jungkook was really late. All of the guys are around the table, their faces getting more and more impatient as they check their watches or give each other side glares wondering when they’re going to eat. Everything is laid out so nicely, the rice, the kimchi.... Taehyung has really tried his hardest to present the meal as though they were in a restaurant. Wanting to do his best. The only thing was that Jungkook still hasn’t arrived and he wouldn’t let anyone touch anything until he did.

 

No one has said anything for the last few minutes. Hoseok keeps sipping his red wine out of awkwardness, the colour of his skin only matching the liquid the more and more he takes it down. Jin has tried to sneak a prawn off of a side plate only for Taehyung to smack his hand away so fast, he’d looked at Namjoon so scandalised he could hardly believe it. At the same time, Jimin is on his phone, texting Jungkook, asking where he is.

 

“Tae lets just eat?” Yoongi says eventually, taking Hoseok's wine glass from his hand and placing it back on the table. His fiancé looks grateful. “I’m sure he’ll get here soon and you cooked all of this for us. We don’t want it to go cold or horrible.”

 

“No. No” Taehyung says. His eyes wander over to the door as he brings his hands on to the table, tapping it a few times and then letting out a breath. “Jungkook will be here soon, I’m sure of it. He isn’t... he’s never late. Let’s just give it another five minutes.”

 

“Tae we’re starv-“

 

“Just five more minutes,” he pleads.

 

The boys all look at each other again, Jimin's eyes flicking back down to his phone and then the silence envelopes them once more. He’s sure whatever reason was making Jungkook late for the dinner was a good one. He knew what tonight meant for Taehyung and he knew that the elder had something important he wanted to share with them all. He wouldn’t miss this for just anything.

 

“Have you heard anything yet?” Jin asks Jimin, who shakes his head in reply.

 

“Where the hell is that kid?” Hoseok says next, a small hiccup following. “I didn’t have lunch for this.”

 

“Is anyone else a little worried?” Jin starts. “I mean it’s been almost over an hour and he hasn’t even called. Do you think he’s okay?”

 

Taehyung's eyes widen in panic but it’s momentary because at the exact same time, the sound of the front door opens. All six of their heads shoot to the door and Jungkook paces in, a little out of breath and holding his hands up in apology. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry” he says not stopping to grab his seat next to Taehyung. “Everything smells delicious, I’m so sorry, I don’t want to hold us off anymore, shall we eat?”

 

Without another second everyone begins grabbing for food, putting things down on their plates with their chopsticks at the speed of light. Taehyung however is a little more hesitant, watching Jungkook as he reaches for the kimchi, before he, himself reaches out to grab some garlic. Sure Jungkook was late but he was here now. That was what mattered.

 

When everyone has a substantial  amount of food in front of them, Namjoon finally asks the question everyone is desperate to know the answer to.

 

“Kook, What took you so long? We all thought you were travelling from Japan or something.”

 

“I got caught up,” he says nonchalantly, through a slurp of his noodles, “the roads were heavily backed up off the line junction. Tae these noodles are amazing, you’ve done an unreal job”

 

“The line junction?” Yoongi questions. “ You don’t have to take that to get here from your place.”

 

“I wasn’t coming from mine.”

 

Several of the boys look at him confused. “If you weren’t coming from yours, where did you come from?” Hoseok asks next.

 

“I was with Yugyeom.”

 

As if a countdown had ordered them to do it, every single persons eyes on the tables, except from Jungkook’s, flick straight to Taehyung. The boy in question, lowers his spoon and swallows, looks over at the younger and tucks in his lip.

 

“you were late because you were with Yugyeom?” he asks, voice coming out higher pitches on the other boys name, sounding both surprised and like he's trying not to seem bothered. 

 

Jungkook looks around the table, a noodle hanging from his mouth as he realises no one else is eating anything. “Yeah, he called just before I was on my way here, I stopped by his place quickly.”

 

Jimin closes his eyes in defeated knowing that that was the wrong thing to say. The way Taehyung takes in a slow breath, makes it clear that hes more agitated than he's letting on. 

 

“Why didn't you call? You know I would have postponed or something. I mean you didn't even let us know you'd made prior plans with him.”

 

The younger looks confused at the rigidity in Taehung's voice, the way everyone seems to be staring at the two of them with their eyes unblinking. He places his chopsticks back down on the table and leans forward in his chair, "It wasn't planned, he just asked to see me. It was just supposed to be a quick visit-"

 

“But it wasn’t quick though, was it? Jungkook you were over an hour late. We’ve all been waiting for you, starving.”

 

Jungkook bites his lip but his confusion remains. “I told you, the roads were busy, I didn’t think it would take so long. Why are you getting so upset?”

 

At that question, Jin is the next one to close his eyes in defeat. It was the wrong thing to say. Really the wrong thing- years of marriage had taught him that.  Taehyung takes another breathe but the way his fist seems to clench is so out of character, it’s worrying. Taehyung didn’t get mad about anything. Ever. Taehyung was probably the most understanding out of all the friends sitting round the table right now. He had once let Yoongi off for arriving late to his graduation. Of course his graduation never included one Kim Yugyeom...

 

“Jungkook you knew how important tonight was for me. You knew I wanted you all here.”

 

“Tae I said I was sorry. I didn’t think it would have been such a big deal... I didn’t think it would have made me late.”

 

“But it did! You were! All because of Yugyeom. Because you're always with Yugyeom”

 

“Yugyeom? You’re getting mad at him?”

 

“I’m not mad at him, I’m mad at you! You’re supposed to be my best friend- you were supposed to be here tonight!”

 

“I am here!”

 

“An hour late!”

 

“But I’m here now, can’t we just enjoy it now? Can’t we just have a nice time? The food tastes great and I’m here-”

 

“But would you rather be at Yugyeom's?”

 

“I knew you were mad at Yugyeom-”

 

“I’m not mad at Yugyeom!” He shouts it so loud, Hoseok jumps and everyone else around them freezes. Jungkook is silent mouth agape as he stares at Taehyung who has stood up from the table. He sighs and looks around at everyone, unsure where his anger had come from.

 

“Tonight I wanted to tell you all that my show has been picked up for transfer. We’re moving to the theatres up town.”

 

At his words Jungkook’s eyes widen.

 

“I’m sorry” Taehyung says, and he places down the napkin that he had scrunched up in his other hands. “I’m sorry I’m just going to step outside for a moment.” He tries to sound composed as he nods and exits the room quickly. What was supposed to be followed with cheers and champagne was instead followed with blank faces and questioning eyes. Jungkook on the other hand looks like he’s just been punched. Like he’s trying to hold back tears. It made sense now why Taehyung had made such a big deal over tonight. Why he had gone to all the trouble of cooking the food and asking everyone be there on time. Why he had seemed so excited and frantic that morning in the kitchen trying to find his perfect meal. This was his dream. this was the thing he’d been waiting his whole career for. And Jungkook had ruined it.

 

Taehyung stands on his balcony, in-taking breaths and wondering what the hell had just happened. He didn’t mean to lose his cool so much... he isn’t even sure where that came from. It wasn’t Jungkook fault that the roads were backed up. He had said he’d left early and thought he would have been there on time even with the detour to Yugyeom;s house. Yugyeom. It was just the sound of the others name though, the fact that he had been brought up today of all days, that had driven Taehyung crazy. Tonight was supposed to be his night. He had wanted to celebrate with his friends the one thing that he’d dreamt about celebrating for years. The thing that he has spend sleepless nights over, wished for, prayed for. The thing he used to tell his parents that one day, just one day they would see their sons name being presented on a big time billboard promoting his work in the theatre district. Above all he has been so excited to tell Jungkook the news. To be able to celebrate with him of all people- his biggest supporter. The person who had been with him from the very beginning on this journey. He sighs and grabs hold of the railings, letting his head fall slightly. Why was he so upset? Why had he let this get to him so badly?

 

The sound of the balcony door opening alerts him, but he refuses to look at whoever it is making their way over to the edge. He had a pretty good idea he could tell who it was anyway and he felt embarrassed. His outburst was out of character and he was mean. He feels guilty.

 

“Nice night,” Jungkook says and Taehyung intakes a breath and clutches the railings tighter at the sound of it. He gives himself a moment just to collect himself and then he turns to look at the other. When he sees his face, he feels his chest beat hard. Jungkook was staring at him, his eyes glassy and wide, as though a tear was threatening to fall any second. His lip is thin and he’s chewing on the bottom one nervously, the whole thing quivering.

 

“Taehyung I am so so sorry,” he says eventually, when he can get the words out. “I didn’t think....I didn’t know....”

 

Taehyung shakes his head. “I shouldn’t have shouted at you.”

 

“I deserved it”

 

“No you didn't.” He says, “I was out of line.”

 

“No. I shouldn’t have pushed the time. I should have been here.”

 

Taehyung doesn’t say anything. Jungkook should have been there, he’s right. But what can he say about that now? What is he supposed to say? Jungkook is allowed to visit his other friends. He thought he would have been there on time- Taehyung can’t do anything about that now.

 

“Hold me tight is really going to the TD?” Jungkook asks next, his voice trying to lighten the mood a little bit.

 

The elder nods. “I've known all week. I was waiting to tell you....”

 

Another wave of guilt crashes through Jungkook. He knew what this meant for the other. He knew how big this was.

 

“Taehyung I’m so proud of you.” The words are so sincere, uttered through a choked up tone, Jungkook so desperate now to let the other know how amazing this was. To make up for being a shitty friend before. When Taehyung cracks a small smile, his heart sores.

 

“It’s amazing isn’t it?” Taehyung replies, “after all this time. Who’d have thought...”

 

“I did. I knew this was coming.”

 

Their eyes meet again and when they do, the reservations fall. Taehyung can’t stay mad- no way. This was Jungkook. Their relationship was too strong for petty arguments, silly fights. Today they needed to celebrate.

 

“Jungkook I’m sorry,” Taehyung says throwing himself into the others arms. Jungkook grabs hold of him and presses him against his body, wrapping his arms around the others waist, resting his face in the others shoulder.

 

“Me too, Tae. I’m so so sorry.”

 

In all their years of knowing each other they had never ever had a real fight. All disputes would end just like this one- with cuddles and apologies regardless of what happened.

 

“Ah-hem” a cough separates them and they both turn to the doorway where their six friends are watching them with smiles on their faces. Jimin is dangling a bottle of champagne from his hands. “If you two are done with this apology fest” he says, “I believe a celebration is in order.”

 

 

They stand in the street, rows and rows of large photo frames decorate the walls surrounding the theatre and its front doors sit under a golden circular roof. It’s grand and it’s fancy and it’s all Taehyung's. He can see it now, the name of his show up along the front of the building, photos of his cast scattered amongst the frames and the cover of the playbill. An official uptown playbill. His name written across the front. His show. He feels a hand grab hold of his own and it awakens him from his daydream, Jungkook is right beside him, just like he always hoped he would be, and he’s smiling.

 

“This is it Tae,” he says, his voice lowered slightly but laced with excitement. Speaking so only Taehyung can hear him. “How are you feeling right now?”

 

Taehyung's signature smile breaks through on his face, the one where his eyes almost close and he looks almost bashful. “Like this is all a dream” he replies, tightening his grasp in Jungkook’s hand.

 

More figures begin to swarm them now, the rest of their friends all coming to support Taehyung on the first day seeing the new theatre. It will be a while until it’s really branded his but he wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to get to look around it as the moving in begins. He’s grateful all his friends came to support him.

 

“Can we go in yet?” Hoseok asks excitedly, hand in Yoongi’s, who’s trying not to show just how proud he is of Taehyung, but failing miserably. Yoongi had been he first to start crying when Jungkook opened his gallery.

 

“This really is something,” he adds on in an impressed tone, his nonchalance slowly fading.

 

“Soon. When everyone arrives. We need the site manager too.”

 

They both nod and then smile up the building right as the call of Taehyung's name has all of them shoot their head in another direction. Jimin is waving frantically, huge smile on his face practically skipping up the sidewalk with Jin and Namjoon behind him, all making their way over.

 

Jin apologises for being late, moaning about struggling to find parking, but Taehyung doesn’t mind when Jimin pounces on him, grabs him into a bear hug and tells him over and over how proud he is of his friend.

 

The site manager greets them soon after and allows them into the building. Taehyung takes a deep breath before he passes through the door, at no moment letting go of Jungkook’s hand, needing the boy there beside him for this special moment. Jungkook can’t stop smiling, making sure to only watch Taehyung's face as he sees the theatre for the first time, to get a hold of his reactions. He’d brought his camera especially to capture them and he snaps three continuous photos of the elder as he steps into the main hall auditorium. A tear threatens to escape his eye but he tells himself he won’t be the first to cry, he can’t be. The hyung's would never let him live it down. So instead he lets the feelings consume his chest and he just allows Taehyung's glow to keep him happy.

 

The theatre is breathtaking, three tiered and gold lined, seating booths against the left and right sides and the stage is impressive, huge and deep. The new home of ‘Hold me Tight.’

 

“The stage will be altered slightly for the set,” Taehyung begins to explain, “now that we’re uptown we’re working with more designers to increase the set designs and props.”

 

“Tae this place is huge!” Namjoon says standing at the front of the stage in awe, “have they said how long it’ll be until the show will open?”

 

Taehyung pulls Jungkook down the aisle to him over to their elder friend and the others begin to close in to learn more. “Before the show can open we have to pretty much go back to rehearsal stages,” Taehyung explains. “My production team are considering recasting and have asked me to fix some scenes so that will take some time.”

 

“Fix the scenes?” Jungkook questions

 

“It tends to happen with transfers,” Taehyung continues. “With larger stages and bigger rooms some scenes get lost in translation. Others didn’t receive much reaction either so they’ll be tweaked too. That process will keep happening until previews will be over with.”

 

“So the show you’re working on now?” Jimin says

 

“Paused until further notice.”

 

Jungkook pouts. Regardless of the fact that was standard protocol when it came to theatre transfers he didn’t like the idea of Taehyung’s producers giving him more work. To him, the show was perfect as it was, Taehyung was a visionary.

 

The group then take another chance to scan the room again taking it in once more. All of them with looks of such wonder and praise, so proud of their friend for managing to achieve this. Standing here was a dream come true for Taehyung but through the years they’d all seen how hard he’s worked for it. It was like he was finally getting his pay off.

 

“Tae this really is amazing.” Jin says, smiling at the other. “How are you feeling right-“ his voice is cut off by the sound of a phone ringing. It’s loud in the large hall and almost abrupt in such a building that’s as fine as this. The boys themselves had practically been speaking in hushed tones because of the atmosphere a place like this gives off. At first everyone scurries to check if it’s their own and Jungkook especially looks confused until he reaches into his pocket and it’s his own cell that’s blaring. All eyes turn to him and he checks the caller ID quickly.

 

Yugyeom name and face stare up at him and with the way he’d held his phone at a low angle, Taehyung had also managed to see who happened to be in the other line. He says nothing but Jungkook lets the call go to voicemail before putting his phone on silence.

 

“Sorry,” he says, tucking it back into his jean pocket. “You we’re saying?”

 

Taehyung goes to open his mouth again, he smiles as he’s about to talk, clearly ready to tell then others all about what this means to him but this time the sound of buzzing cuts him off. Jungkook’s phone again now on silent but still on vibrate mode is making enough of a sound to have Taehyung pause and he looks down at Jungkook’s pocket.

 

The others shift awkwardly as Jungkook reaches into his pocket and Yugyeom face appears once again. The youngest looks at Taehyung who’s jaw seems to be tensing.

 

“Answer it,” He eventually says when he notices Jungkook is looking at him and he tries to look less like he’s bothered by the call.

 

...he’ll just keep calling otherwise...”

 

“Jungkook its fine, just answer it,” he says again, this time ushering Jungkook away so he can pick up the call. The brunette swallows before holding the receiver to his ear and walking a little down the aisle to go and speak to the other boy.

 

“Didn’t Jungkook tell him he was busy today?” Taehyung hears Hoseok ask Yoongi quietly, but he tries to ignore the comment and the way it makes his chest feel. Whatever was so desperate for Yugyeom to talk to Jungkook about, he couldn’t question it. After all he wasn’t apart of their relationship. Not at all.

 

He watches then as Jungkook speaks to Yugyeom. The younger seems to be doing most of the talking, chatting away breezily. Taehyung tilts his head as he sees Jungkook laugh at something he assumes Yugyeom said and then chews on his top lip when he continues to smile down the phone. The conversation doesn’t seem to be dwindling and he wonders if Jungkook has even told him he’s in the middle of something- busy with his other friends. Again he tries not to let that thought settle though because he feels like he has no right to think it. Jungkook was allowed to talk to Yugyeom and Taehyung didn’t want to seem like a bad friend. After shouting at his apartment that night, he didn’t want to do that again.

 

Jungkook looks at him then and Taehyung grows embarrassed being caught for staring, his eyes widening comically before he tries to play it off. Jungkook gives him a huge grin and it sets something off inside him he isn’t used to. A feeling that isn’t necessarily foreign when it comes to how Jungkook looks at him, but one he always tries to ignore. Today though it’s refusing to go unnoticed and he almost clutches his chest from the feeling. Jungkook really had a beautiful smile and it was one Taehyung loved to see, a smile that made him feel better even in his worst times. He smiles back and then Jungkook puts up a hand to signify that he’d only need five more minutes and then mouths sorry to the other. Taehyung smile settles then and he nods. It was okay, he thinks. It was fine as long as he gets to see that smile.

 

Jungkook returns to the group true to his word, five minutes later, his phone going back in his pocket and his smile still on his face. He apologises to them all and then it’s forgotten about as the group begin to move throughout the theatre, towards the backstage and through the corridors of dressing rooms and standby areas. Everyone is engaged with the place, excited and interested at what they’re seeing, asking Taehyung questions and showering him with praise over and over for what he’s accomplished. Everyone accept Jungkook who’s phone seems to be repeatedly finding its way back into his hands to reply to text messages that Taehyung can only assume he knows who they’re from. Jungkook tries to seem interested but the texts keep distracting him and Taehyung tries not to look bothered by the younger's lack of focus but it gets a little hard for him when he’s explaining the history of the theatre and Jungkook doesn’t seem to look up from his phone once. He knows it isn’t on purpose, he knows Jungkook would never intentionally seem disinterested but he just wished that he wouldn’t feel so obliged to have to text right now at all times. He figured maybe Jungkook would have thought this was a little more important.

 

When they begin to make their way back to the entrance, Taehyung waits back to fall in line with Jungkook whilst the others head out. The younger is finishing off a message and slipping his phone back into his pocket.

 

“Jin's closed the restaurant for the seven of us tonight,” Taehyung tells Jungkook, “he said I can order whatever I want from the menu.”

 

“He did?” Jungkook asks, “you thinking what I’m thinking?”

 

Taehyung giggles and at the same time they both answer the question “lobster.”

 

They laugh and then Taehyung leans into Jungkook, linking their arms together, his face falling a little as he decides to ask what he does next. “Everything okay with Yugyeom?” He stares down again at Jungkook pocket, almost as if by saying the other boys name it would set off another string of messages.

 

“He’s fine” Jungkook says, “just going through some stuff.”

 

Taehyung nods. That was vague,  but he knows he can’t pry when it isn’t his business. Instead he clears his throat and tries to smile.

 

“So I thought maybe we could spend the day together tomorrow? I feel like we haven’t gone out in ages”

 

“Tomorrow?” He says, “I kinda promised Yugyeom i’d take him shopping. He needed some new furniture for his place.”

 

Another weird feeling surges through Taehyung, this one he isn’t familiar with at all. “Oh.” 

 

Why did he feel like he should have seen this coming?

 

“Why don’t you come with us?”

 

He pauses. “With you and Yugyeom?”

 

Jungkook nods his head, “it will be fun. Plus if anyone knows good furniture it’s you and I think it would be nice for you guys to spend some time together.”

 

“Me and Yugyeom?” he says, raising an eyebrow,  Jungkook nods again enthusiastically, not picking up on the others hesitance. Taehyung take a moment to reply, considering the question. Why would Jungkook think he and Yugyeom needed to spend time together? “Are you sure?” He asks next, “I don’t want to impose.”

 

The younger tuts at the words. “Like you’d ever be an imposition. Please. I’d love to have you there.”

 

Taehyung bites his lip as he looks into Jungkook’s large crystal glinted eyes. With the face he’s giving him he knows it’s useless, he could never say no. After a couple more seconds he relents and nods his head. He didn’t honestly know what it was he’d agreed to, but he tries to convince himself that this is a good thing. Finally he could get a sense of what Jungkook and Yugyeom really were. He wonders all the way to the restaurant however, if he truly wants to find out.

Chapter Text

Taehyung is not Jealous.

Taehyung is not the jealous type.

Taehyung has never once felt a gut-wrenching sensation, a slight feeling of nausea or an incessant need to punch something or cry or maybe even do both simultaneously. Nope. Not at all. Not even right now, as he sits and watches Jungkook and Yugyeom giggle and talk and play house in the middle of a furniture store, wrapped up in each other like they're the only two people around. 

Jealousy? pfft what's Jealousy? 

“I don’t know kook, are you sure?” Yugyeom asks, staring down at a dark blue sofa, they've been toying with the idea of buying for the last half hour.

Taehyung refrains from rolling his eyes, sitting on a solo chair in a fake room set out like a chic bachelor pad type apartment. He'd taken the seat as soon as they had reached this point of the store, feeling about as useless as the lamp shaped like a lightening bolt in the corner of the room. He hadn't really been needed today, in fact he had regretted coming from the moment they had all met outside the store. Why he ever thought he wanted to see Yugyeom and Jungkook together, he considers now a moment of madness. Not that he was jealous though, no, definitely not because of that....

“Gyeomie it matches your place better than the one you have now. You gotta trust me on this one.”

The eldest of the three boys tries his hardest not to let the thought of Jungkook knowing what Yugyeom apartment looks like phase him and he swaps his right leg for his left, crossing it over the other. He pulls out his phone and begins searching his social media feeds, knowing they’ll be having this discussion for a longer while. It had already been going on too long. Taehyung was pretty sure that he could slip out and neither of them would even notice.

“Tae tell him the sofa is cute. He needs it.”

Taehyung looks up from his phone, the first time someone else has addressed in in what seems like forever. “It’s cute,” he replies, instinctively, with no real feeling, “a good buy, for sure,” he adds on for good measure when they both stay staring at him. he considers giving them a thumbs up but thinks it may look a little sarcastic so decides to give them a polite smile instead.

“See. You’re getting it!” Jungkook finalises, "no more excuses okay? you said you needed the change." He begins to look around the store for a shop assistant and Yugyeom tugs on his hand in retaliation. As if on instinct their fingers interlink and it makes Taehyung lean forward in his chair to get a better look. Almost to check what he’s seeing. They were really comfortable with each other... and only from a few months? He swallows.

“Kookie stoppp,” Yugyeom whines and his voice makes Jungkook roll his eyes playfully. “I think we should look around more.”

“You’ll never settle if you do that.”

“But there could be something else?”

“Can I help you guys?” A female worker joins their side smiling at them politely. They both turn to look at her and when they do Jungkook gives her his winning smile in return.

“Yes please. We’d like to buy this couch.”

We'd.

Taehyung scoffs.

“Jungkook-“ Yugyeom whines again but he’s smiling bashfully, clearly glad that Jungkook is taking the initiative for him, helping him out. Taehyung looks away once more when Jungkook reassures Yugyeom this is the right choice.

“Excellent pick,” the assistant says. “There’s a few questions we’ll need you to answer but you can take it today if you’re ready?” She’s directing the questions to Jungkook as if he answers for the two of them, as if it’s their couch. Taehyung feels like he isn’t even there.

They go through the questions, confirming the colour, the style and the price before picking a delivery option instead of leaving the shop with it themselves. The whole time Taehyung just stays seated on his separate chair feeling like a fly on the wall, Watching as though he’s taking a peak into Jungkook’s future. One day he will be doing this with his partner, planning out his life, buying their furniture. The thought is weird for him. He tries to process it but he doesn’t like it. Not one bit. He thinks it’s too strange to imagine that there will one day be a time where he and Jungkook won’t be together everyday- that there will be other people in their lives instead. Just like Yugyeom. Maybe already Yugyeom-

“Can I just say, you two make a very cute couple.”

Taehyung’s head flicks up. Couple? The shop assistant is staring at them both with a huge smile on her face, and Jungkook and Yugyeom look at each other before giggling hysterically. Jungkook turns back to look at Taehyung as if remembering he’s there for the first time and then shakes his head.

“Thank you,” he comments, “but we aren’t a couple.”

Yugyeom nods, “nope,” he says but then he slings an arms around Jungkook’s shoulder, “just good friends.”

The girl apologises at which Jungkook tells her she has no reason to and Yugyeom giggles along again clearly un-phased by the mistake. Of course no one sees the way his eyes linger for a couple seconds longer on Jungkook, a split moment where something different seems to cross his eyes and he seems almost serious, clearing his throat for a brief second before coming back to and continuing to laugh.

....No one except Taehyung who thinks he knows exactly what a look like that means.

 

_


Taehyung can’t sleep. He’s tossing and turning, unable to get into a comfortable position, huffing when his pillow feels too flat, too bumpy, too wrong. He sighs as he leans himself up, sitting in his bed with his back slumped against his headboard. What was wrong with him tonight? He throws his duvet off his body and stumbles over to his kitchen, grabbing hold of the milk from the fridge and begins pouring himself a glass before sticking it in the microwave to warm it up. A nice hot drink should be able to do the trick, he thinks. That should help.

As he watches the mug spin round he thinks about Jungkook. Jungkook was the one who first made him hot milk like this. He had been clear that he didn't want to be near the microwave when it was done, something about the beeping ad the fear of it exploding that Taehyung can't remember the details of now, but he'd passed the glass to Taehyung and urged him to try it. He had been rluctant at first, but it was great. Just like everything else Jungkook did.

At the thought of the other, The sight of him in his mind, he sighs again. Jungkook. Jungkook. Jungkook. What was it about Jungkook that was bothering him so much? He leans his face in his hands as he sits and tries to understand the cause of his frustration. Sure shopping today hadn't been exactly his preferred version of spending time with the other, but he got to see him, didn't he? wasn't that enough? Their argument had been two weeks ago now and seemingly everything was supposed to be back to normal, they’d hung out, they’d gone shopping, it should all be okay...but Taehyung was still struggling. His insomnia had started after that night and had only been getting progressively worse and now tonight it was the worst it had ever been. Something was eating away at him and he really wasn’t sure what. Did he still feel guilty? Was he still mad at himself for getting so angry when he didn’t have a right to be? Was it the opposite and was he actually still mad? Was he still annoyed that Jungkook arrived late when he should have been there. Or is it not even about that anymore at all? He swallows hard and his shoulders slump. Or was it what he doesn’t want to admit to himself? Was he really that jealous of Yugyeom? Did he really feel threatened about this new boy in Jungkook’s life so much that he caused an argument because of him? That he was nothing but despondent by the end f their shopping spree, replying only with one word answers and head nods or shrugs? He sees Yugyeom face again in his mind- that look he gave Jungkook that went unnoticed by everyone but himself. A stare of longing, of intrigue. He thinks about how Jungkook had told the assistant they weren’t a couple but fixated on just how much of a couple they actually did seem. He knows he needs to explore the possibility further. Assess if this really was what was eating away at him a badly. He barely gets a chance to focus however when the timer on his microwave goes off and his drink is ready. He carries the mug into his lounge room and throws himself down on his sofa, his photos hang prettily along one wall, his laptop and work desk sit at the other. He stops and stares at his laptop, the screen down, plugged in over night so that he wouldn’t have to charge in in the morning. Night like tonight he gets nostalgic and memories come flooding in. Thoughts about the last few years of his life, thoughts with one boy by his side....

 

3 years ago:


He’s sitting in front of his laptop, several years younger, hair a dusty pink colour, all his clothes baggy, oversized and cut in the shapes he likes them. He feels sick to his stomach, his chest is heaving and tears are spilling from his eyes. He feels like he needs to run, he feels like he needs to escape but he can’t. There are several voices in his head telling him he's useless, that he’ll never finish his play and even if he does, no one will ever want to see it. He feels helpless and scared, panicked and worried. All these emotions are hitting him at once and it’s all too much.

“Taehyung?” He hears, the sound of a door shutting, the sound of heavy footsteps running through the corridors searching for him, hurried and frantic.

“Taehyung are you okay?”

He doesn’t turn around, he doesn’t have it in him to even lift his head, but it doesn’t really matter. Seconds later he feels his body being pulled into another, his head being rested along a broad chest, arms circling him, holding him so carefully, rocking him back and forth very very gently.

“It’s okay Tae I’m here, you’re okay.”

Taehyung cries out more into Jungkook’s chest, but just the feeling of having him near, just being able to hear his voice, makes him feel so much better already.

“T-thank you,” he says, when he manages to get the words out. He has texted Jungkook when he could tell he was slipping. He was grateful he managed to get to him before it had gotten too bad. He was there just in time. Always there.

“Let’s move you to the couch okay?” Jungkook asks, “let’s sit on the couch.”

Taehyung nods into his chest and slowly the younger lifts him up, never unwrapping his arms around the other as he brings him over to the sofa. He manages to catch a glimpse of the time on the clock by the wall and bites his lip as he does so. It was almost three a.m. Why was Taehyung up and working so late?

“C-couldn’t sleep,” he tells him as though he knew the thoughts were in his mind. “Had to finish, wanted to finish.”

Jungkook shushes him and holds onto him tighter, allowing Taehyung to wrap himself up into a ball directly into his lap. “You don’t have to explain. I know. I know,” he replies. Taehyung had been working himself sick for his play to the point where he was barely looking after himself anymore. Jungkook had been checking on him when he could but the elder had always assured him that he was fine. Now he wants to punch himself for allowing it to get to this point. He knew he shouldn’t have listened. Taehyung had a tendency to push himself too hard when he felt like what he did wasn’t good enough. He had done it in college and now this was a repeat of those earlier years. It had been a while since his last panic attack.

Jungkook notices his breathing had evened out and his sniffles were becoming less frequent. He takes the opportunity then to lift the elders face and stroke his hair gently as he stares at him. “How are you feeling?”

The elder closes his eyes at the soft strokes, allows himself a moment to just let Jungkook look after him. Care for him. In a few seconds he nods his head. “A little better.” He says, but his face still looks worried. Jungkook knew that the panic attack had calmed but whatever thoughts were troubling Taehyung, roaming in his head, were not going to leave as quickly.

“Will you be okay if I go and make you a warm drink?” Jungkook asks, “some milk?”

Taehyung tightens his grip on the other, rummaging his head in his chest before pulling away and nodding. When his arms loosen Jungkook nods and stands up, heading to the kitchen. Before he leaves, he wraps a blanket around the other and kisses the top of his head for good measure. His feelings aside, he wanted Taehyung to know he was there, he wanted to look after him.

He doesn’t take long to prepare their drinks and he’s back in only a few minutes. At the sound of his re-entry into the room Taehyung looks at him, innocent eyes. He’d come to a little more and he was sitting up properly now.

“I’m sorry for calling you out so late,” he begins but Jungkook doesn’t let him say another word. Instead he shakes his head and sits beside him, manoeuvres himself so that Taehyung can slip into his body once more.

“Don’t apologise” he says, “you know I’m always just a call away.”

Taehyung nods but he still looks guilty. Jungkook hugs him again them and intertwines their fingers.

Let’s talk okay?” He asks, “tell me what’s going through your mind. I’m here for you. Your pain is my pain, your troubles are my troubles- we’ll go through this together.”

 Jungkook stayed at Taehyung’s place for five days. After the incident he refused to leave, calling in sick to his manager and shrugging his shoulders when they told him he had to be back in the studio by Monday. He didn’t care. Taehyung was more important. He was always the most important. Even after the night of talking, Taehyung was not in the right state the next morning when they’d woken up on the couch and Jungkook had promised then that he wouldn’t leave his side until he was feeling better. He has put Taehyung’s laptop away, hidden His notebooks and story plans and told him they would be having a stress free week. A very well needed week away from the play so Taehyung could re-centre himself. Whilst Jungkook stayed round, he bought him food, cooked for him, looked after him, slept with him. He made sure that he was keeping himself busy with his other favourite hobbies- art and music the things that often inspired him and helped stir his creativity. He kept their conversations lights and happy, made sure he was laughing, made sure he was okay. He spent those five days, being there for Taehyung in a way no one in his life ever had been. He’d showed him just how much he really cared.

Now, sitting on that same sofa so many years later, Taehyung hugs a pillow to his chest. A small tear leaves his left eye but he isn’t entirely sure what it means. All he can think about is how much Jungkook cares for him. How Jungkook had spent years of his life by his side through thick and thin. How much Jungkook loves him. He bites his lip as the thought enters his mind. Jungkook and love. Two words he’s fought from being in the same sentence since the day younger given him that photo-frame for his 22nd birthday. Two words he would never let himself dwell on or think about. Two words he would never let himself explore and understand. Loving Jungkook in some way made so much sense to him, but in another way it was his deepest fear. A door he always refused to open. He can’t love Jungkook and he can’t allow himself to think about loving him.

But for some reason, his brain can’t seem to shake it tonight. He can’t lock it away and repress it like he always did, like he always has.

tonight he cant help but let the cogs of his mind turn and twist endlessly and create images he knows he shouldn't entertain. Knows need to be ignored at all costs.

Thoughts about Jungkook taking his face in his hands, leaning into him and placing soft kisses to his cheeks. Thoughts of the younger intertwining their fingers, holding him like he’s the only precious thing left in existence, the rarest and purest diamond. He imagines him pulling their bodies together, holding him so securely by the waist, allowing their chests to press into one another as their tongues dance around each other’s mouths, soft giggles and gentle touches to follow, Jungkook lowering Taehyung down into his bed, promising him he’s going to take care of him, going to love him like no body ever has before. Most of all he imagines doing this for the rest of their lives, waking up every morning in each other’s arms, giving each other goodbye kisses before they leave for work, welcome back kisses when they return.

He bulks as these thoughts swirl inside him. As he lets them for the first time in nine years consume him.

Jungkook had been there for him. Jungkook would always be there for him. Or at least he thought he would. He confronts the thought that no matter how many dates they went on, how many people they see, it would always just come back down to the two of them. Deep down in his heart that had always been what he believed. So why now is this all coming out? Why now has it all spilled from within him, forced him to be honest with himself? And what even was the realisation anyway? What exactly was he admitting to himself right now? And was it even right?

He sighs and runs a hand over his hair as the tightness in his stomach continues to squeeze at every angle. He needed to talk to Jungkook. He needed to address this properly once and for all. He knows he can tell Jungkook anything. Knows that talking with the other will be enough to help him figure out what it is exactly he's feeling. At least then maybe things will make sense. If he really is having feelings for Jungkook, he needs to tell the other that these thoughts has arisen. Needs to make sure this isn't just his jealously talking, but be sure that its all real. Needs Jungkook to know that hes had these thoughts about him. At least addressing these things together is better than having to face it alone. 

 

-

He barely gets two hours of sleep. Instead he paces and he overthinks, tries to come to terms with his emotions, tries to understand what he’s feeling. Was he in love with Jungkook? Was that it? Had that always been it? Was that why his chest felt like it was going to collapse on him any time Yugyeom's name was so much as mentioned? Was that why any time Jungkook smiled, he felt himself feel better, feel lighter?

As soon as it hits six a.m he leaves his apartment. He hasn’t even changed out of his pyjamas, throwing a coat over the top and putting the first pair of shoes on he can find. He didn’t care, he just knew they had to talk about this and needed to. He knows that by the time he gets to Jungkook's side of town, the younger should be coming back from his run or be back at home, probably getting ready to go into the shower, or making himself a breakfast snack. They needed to talk, they had to talk, he needed to explain to him his feelings. Hoped that maybe Jungkook would help him understand what he couldn’t.

He makes his way towards the apartment block, surprised he’s walked the full hour just to get to the other’s place instead of calling a taxi. He thought maybe the walk would have made him see things clearer, understand a little better what he’s going to say when he sees him. He takes a breath as the building approaches, standing just on the other side of the road, and he readies himself to approach the stairs, climb up them and ring for Jungkook to let him in. What he doesn’t expect to see however is Jungkook at the bottom of them, stretching his legs, another figure at his side. He halts in his steps and watches as Yugyeom smiles at him, pats him on the shoulder and they talk lightly. He watches as they’re mouths move but he can hear no words, just see the way they seem to be discussing something, watching each other intently. He watches then as Yugyeom seems to swallow, leans in for a hug and sees Jungkook wrap his arms around him comfortingly. He watches as Yugyeom leans away but only for a second, only long enough to align their faces together and then move in for a kiss, plant one straight onto Jungkook’s lips.

He watches until he can’t watch anymore. Until he feels himself turn sick, like his heart is being squeezed, like he can barely breathe.

He turns on his heel and runs.

Chapter Text

A few hours before:

 Meeting with Yugyeom for morning runs and then breakfast had become standard at this point. Jungkook enjoyed the company, he liked having someone to talk to and work out with, and he especially found it enjoyable being able to go out for pancakes and coffee afterwards. Yugyeom has been doing better since that day he’d called Jungkook round to his apartment and had found out from a friend of a friend that his ex was not in a new relationship, rather was just trying to get out there and date again. Jungkook had thought that since Yugyeom had found that out he seemed to be coming to terms with things, that he was understanding about what his ex was doing- hell they had met because they were on a date- and overall seemed to be in a much better place.

But that's why his silence today confuses him.

Usually Yugyeom is always the first to strike up conversation, have a topic on his mind he wants to explore or just generally make small talk. Today a part of him seemed to be trapped inside his mind though- he seemed to be losing focus easily.

 Jungkook had asked him several times if he was okay, at which he would just nod his head and assure him he was fine. But if Jungkook has learnt anything about Yugyeom over the last two months, it’s that he was never really this pensive. He spoke his thoughts rather than kept them in.  

“Okay you really need to tell me what’s going on with you?” Jungkook says as he leaves some cash down on the table, paying for their breakfasts and standing up to exit the diner. “You’ve been weird all morning and I’m not leaving you until you tell me what’s going on.”

 Yugyeom sighs as they step out of the restaurant and waits for Jungkook to line up beside him. Their feet begin to carry them to Jungkook’s apartment- they way they always do after a morning together- and he runs a hand through his hair before he begins to speak. “He text me.”

 Jungkook’s eyes widen as the younger keeps his head down at the pavement. “What did he say?”

 “He says he wanted to meet. He said we had things we had to talk about. He told me he missed me.” He chews on his lip as he kicks a piece of lose gravel on the pathway. Jungkook doesn’t understand where his trepidation is coming from.

 “Isn’t this a good thing? Yugyeom you can finally tell him how you feel. You guys can get back together.”

 Yugyeom looks over at Jungkook, his bottom lip still tucked under his teeth, his eyes big and worried. When Jungkook sees his face he stops.

 “There’s something bothering you,” he states, “Yugyeom you need to tell me. Let me help you.”

 Yugyeom sighs again and continues to walk. “It’s been four months since we broke up. I’ve missed him like crazy, really I have. But how can I be sure wanting to get back with him is the right thing?”

Jungkook grows confused. Hasn’t Yugyeom always wanted to get back with his boyfriend?

“After I found out he was dating again I got so upset but I also took the time to think about us. We used to fight so much, we never had a lot in common. Sometimes I never knew if he appreciated me for me...”

Yugyeom shuts his eyes tight as he sighs. “I mean I know he loved me. And god do I love him, I’m sure I love him. But did he love me the way you love Taehyung? The way I want to be loved by someone? Cared by someone? I don’t know...”

He takes a deep breath. “And then I also thought... would I be able to give myself back to him...after I’d spent so much time with you...”

Jungkook stops again, stands speechless, unsure what to say. He wasn’t really sure what Yugyeom meant and so he stays silent, waits for the younger to continue.

“I’m not. I’m not saying I’ve fallen for you.” He corrects himself, “I don’t think...” he says a little more unsure.

Jungkook swallows nervously. “Yugyeom you know how I feel about Tae...”

“I know. I know that.” He nods his head. “I think I just... I want what you have. I want to make sure I have that. But seeing you the way you are, the way you care... spending so much time with you. I need to make sure that the feelings I have for him are still there and that I haven’t started to move on. Before I go back to him, before I try to work things out.. I need to be sure.”

They reach the front of Jungkook’s apartment block and he stretches his legs against the step, almost to dispel some of the awkwardness in his body. “So what are you saying?” He turns to look back at Yugyeom who has stopped beside him. The younger smiles but it’s only small, hesitant.

“Before I go and talk to him I want to make sure that I’m not confused... I don’t want to mistake your kindness for more than just that. But I can’t help if you’ve made things a little harder for me recently.” He takes another breath. “I’m so sorry Jungkook I know you don’t feel that way about me and I don’t even know if I do for you but I just need to know for sure...” 

Jungkook feels guilty even though there really isn’t anything he’s done in particular for him to feel such a way. But he can’t help but feel responsible for the way Yugyeom is feeling right now. He had only tried to be nice and supportive for the other boy, he didn’t realise what that could do for someone. He smiles apologetically and pulls Yugyeom towards him, embracing him into a hug. He pats his back in a supportive manner, trying to tell him not to apologise, that he has nothing to apologise for. Yugyeom accepts the hug gratefully and they stay like that for a second or two just in each other’s arms.

Jungkook waits for Yugyeom to move back first and figures that if the other has more to say, has more he wants to talk about, the best thing to do would be to invite him inside and really understand where his thoughts are. He knows he must be confused and he doesn’t want him to face that alone. He’s just about to suggest they go up the stairs however when Yugyeom leans into him, and he barely has a second to process what’s happening before their lips meet and they’re kissing on his front porch. It’s only a press of lips and he doesn’t give anything back to what Yugyeom is giving him, but when the other pulls apart he can’t resist raising a hand to his lip in confusion. He hadn't been kissed in a very long time.

“Yugyeom you-"

 “I'm sorry,” he interrupts. “I just had to... I needed to know if I’d feel anything...”

 Jungkook pauses but then he nods his head. As much as he wished Yugyeom hadn’t have done that, he can’t be mad at him, it’s obvious how much he’s stuck inside his head right now and Jungkook can’t berate him for that.

 “And?” He asks, when he sees the other clearly thinking things through in his head. Yugyeom looks up at him as though he’s just remembering Jungkook is there.

 “Honestly?” he says, and then he shakes his head. “That was kind of weird.”

 Jungkook sighs in relief and continues to nod his head.

 “Don’t take this the wrong way but it was kind of like kissing a brother,” he adds on for good measure. Jungkook can only smile at the words, glad he feels such a way.

 “I’m sorry I shouldn’t have just done that to you,” he apologises again. Jungkook raises a hand to pause him.

 “It’s okay,” he says, “just please if you ever want to do that again, ask me before.”

 Yugyeom giggles and then nods his head. “Okay,” he says, “but honestly that won’t be an issue.”

 “It was weird right?”

 “Very very weird. Dude I don’t even know what I was thinking.”

 Jungkook laughs at that, glad that the kiss hasn’t ruined their relationship or made things weird. Hes especially grateful Yugyeom seems so un-phased by it.

 “So has that made things clearer for you?” Jungkook asks cautiously. Just to make sure Yugyeom and he were on the same page.

 “I think so.” He confirms. “Kissing you.... it didn’t feel like how kissing someone you want to be with should feel.” He looks down, “it didn’t feel like it does with him...”

 Jungkook gives him a sympathetic smile and then raises an arm to his shoulder. “I think you know what you need to go and do,” he says. Yugyeom meets his eye line again and nods.

 “I think so too.” He smiles, “thank you Jungkook.”

 

The first thing Jungkook does when he gets back into his apartment is call Jimin. He doesn’t think about how or why its him that he makes the call to, but there are thoughts swirling in his mind that only the elder can help him with. After all, Yugyeom was Jimin's friend and he introduced them. It seemed like the right call to make.

 Jimin arrives at Jungkook’s place in under twenty minutes, the sound of the younger voice having panicked him in typical Jimin fashion, always being worried for his friends and their well-being.

 “Jungkook what’s up? You sounded stressed on the phone.”

 The taller boy opens the door to let Jimin in properly, and he takes no time in placing down his bag, taking off his shoes and pulling Jungkook into the living room.

 “I was with Yugyeom this morning,” he begins. “We went for our normal run and then we came back here and he was being odd.”

 Jimin tilts his head to the side confused about where the conversation is going. He throws a pillow in to his lap and waits when he sees Jungkook search for his next few words.

 “Hyung, he ended up kissing me.”

 Jimin inspects Jungkook’s face. The younger looks confused and stressed and like he’s stuck in his head. He’s really bothered by this and it’s obvious to Jimin as to why. He wonders if this will finally be it. If Jungkook is finally ready to admit to him what he’s been waiting to hear.

 “He said he needed to know if he had feelings for me. He doesn’t but the kiss.... I....”

 “you’re upset about it?” Jimin probes, resting his face on his chin. Jungkook looks at him, wide eyed.

 “I haven’t kissed someone in a long time. I didn’t... I wasn’t expecting it.”

 “Is that all Jungkook?”

 He sighs and looks down at his hands in his laps. “I feel guilty.”

 Jimin rests a hand on his shoulder. “Guilty? How come?”

 The younger looks at his friend, chews on his lip briefly and then sighs. “Cut it out hyung. I know you know.”

 Jimin intakes a breath and then moves his hand resting on Jungkook’s shoulder, down to take hold of the others hand in comfort. “It’s Tae isn’t it?”

 Jungkook nods his head.

 “You wish he was the one who was-"

 Jungkook looks at him once more and his anxious face cuts him off. It said all that needed to be said. Just his stare was as clear as day and what Jimin had thought, was now confirmed. He smiles sympathetically and pulls Jungkook into a hug.

 “You don’t need to feel bad Kookie,” he says over his shoulder. “Is it because you feel like you were disloyal?”

 He pulls away, “kind of,” Jungkook says, “I mean I wasn’t even the one who initiated it and at first I didn’t really care y’know- Yugyeom needed to figure stuff out and I was a part of that.” He sighs and then his voice comes out almost scared, similar to a whisper, “but Tae was on my mind the whole time.”

 Jimin nods in understanding.“You’ve loved him for a really long time huh?”

 He leans back on the sofa and closes his eyes briefly before looking back down at his fingers.“He’s had my heart since the day I met him.”

 “Why now? Why are you finally telling me?”

 “Hyung I could tell you were acting weird recently. Setting me up with Yugyeom after years of telling us that our double dates were stupid... you knew we would hit it off. You wanted to see if I’d still turn him down right? Someone who on paper seems so perfect for me...”

 Jimin looks away briefly, embarrassed that Jungkook had figured it out so exact. He forgot how smart the younger could be some times. But he was right. Yugyeom and Jungkook were so well suited any other person with so much in common would never have turned him down after that initial date. Jimin knew there would have to be another reason why. It was obvious that reason was Taehyung.

 “Since getting closer with Yugyeom we’ve been talking about him. I’ve been opening up to my feelings, understanding them, wanting to address them.” He looks back at Jimin, “you’re one of my lifelong friends, I wanted to tell you.”

 Jimin smiles softly again, pulls the boy into his arms and gently strokes his hair. The younger was always so guarded and careful he felt almost proud that he was willing to open himself up like this. That Yugyeom had helped him in some ways get more in touch with his feelings.

 “So where’s your head now?” Jimin asks.

 Jungkook sighs, “well I need to tell Tae about the kiss...”

 “Are you going to tell him anything else?”

 He returns to chewing his lip, a look of anxiety so present as he thinks through Jimin's question. Was he ready yet? He wasn’t entirely sure. But having Yugyeom kiss him made him realise that there’s only one person he really wants to spend the rest of his life kissing. He’d told himself for so long that he would be fine just living the life he was living, just being Taehyung’s best friend. But maybe that wasn’t enough for him anymore. Maybe this was the wake up call he truly needed.

 He looks at Jimin once more and the eldest smiles. Again Jungkook doesn’t have to say anything, he can tell just from Jungkook’s face what he’s thinking.

 “Good luck,” he wishes him as he pulls him into another hug. He really hopes that this will finally be it.

 

Jungkook calls Taehyung for the rest of the evening. His intentions are to ask where he is and if he’s at home, if he can go round to talk. What entirely he wants to say, he isn’t sure it’ll come, but he knows that this is needed. He knows he has to do something.

 After the first three calls go to voicemail he tries not to think too much about it. Taehyung was a busy person and often when he was writing or if he was out, he’d forget to look at his phone. He decides then to drop him a text and wait to see if he’ll respond. As he does he wonders several times if he should just show up unannounced at the others place, whether he’s there or not he could just wait for him to return. As the rest of the evening rolls on however, he tries to call another several times. Maybe he’s stalling for time, maybe he’s just trying to be careful, but the more the elder doesn’t pick up, the more worried he grows. He wonders if this is a sign that he shouldn’t be doing this, that maybe now wasn’t the right time. He lets that thought fester into him until it gets late, much later and he starts to wonder if this is all a mistake.

 He tries not to let the fact that the other hasn’t gotten back to him yet worry him either but it’s hard. He knows sometimes Taehyung can do this, knows he shouldn’t be worried and after several phone calls with Jimin as he waits, the elder calms him down enough to suggest that 'Tae is just being Tae' and if anything he can just check on him tomorrow. Suggests that sleeping on it would be a good idea anyway. He’s reluctant at first but Jimin makes a good argument and he figures waiting until the morning could be a good thing. He could use the night really perfecting what it is he has to say and also possibly figure out just how much he intends to tell the other. He decides then to leave it for the night. He’ll go round tomorrow morning and they can take then.

 Then it will all be fine.

 He skips out on his run deciding instead to spend the morning going over the speech he had crafted the night before. He knows Taehyung is a late riser in comparison to himself so he waits around for a couple hours until he’s sure the other must be awake. He then wastes no more time, grabbing his car keys and heading straight for the others apartment. He takes the shortest route he can, knowing all directions so easily, the turns and stops are second nature to him, and the closer he gets, the more inpatient he grows. Above all he really just wants to see his best friend. He parks in his usual spot and doesn’t even wait for the lift in the building, opting to practically run up the numerous flights of stairs until he reaches Taehyung’s floor. He regulates his breathing as he walks down the corridor and then he grabs his key chain and holds up the spare key to Taehyung’s apartment he had made, to let himself in.

 The door unlocks and he lets out a breath as he walks through into the hallway. It’s more quiet than he thought it would be and for a second he wonders if maybe Taehyung is still asleep, that is until he hears the soft sounds of music coming from the kitchen. He smiles to himself and paces to the room without a second thought.

“Tae-" he begins, as he steps through the hall but he isn’t able to get the rest of the name out. Not when he notices that Taehyung isn’t anywhere to be seen and instead someone else stands in his kitchen, over the cooker.

 The figure turns around and Jungkook’s face drops when he realises that he’s seen this face before. He takes a step back instinctually as the boy smiles and it’s then that Jungkook realises he’s naked from the waist up, the only thing covering his lower half being a pair of boxers and one of Taehyung’s aprons.

 “Oh uhh good morning,” Minho says. The date all those months ago. The guy Taehyung seemed to really like. Here. Now. In Taehyung’s apartment. Jungkook feels like he’s going to be sick and takes another step back, coming in contact with the wall. He doesn’t know what to say, he almost feels like he’s dreaming and his voice box feels like a lump in his throat, useless and threatening to reveal his true feeling if he even utters one word. Minho is staring at him questioningly now wondering why he’s so silent, but he doesn’t care. Not at all. He hopes maybe he’s seeing things wrong, that this is not entirely what it looks like, but another hit of devastation runs through him when Taehyung turns the corner calling Minho's name, wearing nothing but an oversized white shirt Jungkook knows for a fact isn’t his. He’s smiling until he sees the younger and then his face contorts. Jungkook can’t tell if he looks mad or surprised Jungkook is there and he’s sure the look on his own face really can’t be that much different.

 “Jungkook,” Taehyung says and then he swallows hard, crossing his arms. His shock disappears and is replaced with a stone cold stare, unreadable. “What are you doing here?”

 His voice is harsh and unlike him and it only adds to the chill Jungkook can feel down his back. What has he just walked in to? How long had this been going on? What about their pact? The deal? He can barely breathe and there’s two sets of eyes on him now searching for answers.

All he wants to do is fade away, disappear, go back to last night when none of this has happened.

Chapter Text

24 hours earlier:

Taehyung lifts another shot up to his mouth, taking back the liquid and barely reacting, allowing the burn to cascade down his throat and feeling every second of it. He had ran from Jungkook’s all the way back to his own place, not even stopping to catch a breath. So many thoughts swarming his head that he felt like he had to keep running just to get away from them. Of course that was futile though and when he reaches the front of his own place he wasted no time locking himself in and sitting himself down right against his own door. He put his face in his hands as the image replayed over and over of Yugyeom and Jungkook kissing in the front of the latters apartment and then he sighs, runs a hand through his hair and rests his head in his hands.
How long has Jungkook been lying to him?

The younger had sworn they were just friends, had told Taehyung countless times that Yugyeom didn’t like him like that and he didn’t like him back. He had shrugged the topic off so easily that Taehyung felt ridiculous ever doubting his best friend in the first place.

Now he knows he had right for concern. Jungkook had broken their pact. Jungkook had gone against years of their friendship, to be with Yugyeom. Jungkook didn’t want Taehyung. Jungkook had someone else.

He feels ridiculous for ever thinking he could have gone over there and try to talk about his feelings. His feelings which now only feel solidified- make sense. He wouldn’t feel like his whole world was crumbling around him if he didn’t have feelings for the boy. It’s the reality he has to deal with. He loved Jungkook but Jungkook didn’t love him. Jungkook had Yugyeom. He feels embarrassed at himself, devastated and stupid. How could he have been so naive? He trusted Jungkook so much and the whole time he was lying straight to his face? And why? Why didn’t Jungkook just tell him that he was with Yugyeom? Why all the secrets?

He let his head hit the back of the door. A part of him blames himself for letting the stupid pact go on for as long as it did. For making Jungkook go on all those stupid dates with him just because he was too blind at the time to realise Jungkook was the one he should have been dating. Because he was too scared to admit that to himself and the other. Too scared to actually open his heart properly and date someone he really cared for, rather than just play this stupid game. But another part of him feels angry. Angry that the one person he trusted more than anyone in the world, would do this to him behind his back. He thought their bond was stronger than this. He thought that if Jungkook really liked someone he would have at least have had the decency to tell Taehyung and end everything once and for all.

He doesn’t know how many hours pass until he decides to go to a bar. He isn’t sure how long he spends sitting on his floor, reliving the kiss, thinking about his feelings, trying to come to terms with what he’s seen and found out. That's how he ends up with the soju by his side, sitting somewhere so unfamiliar to him, wasting away his feelings down the bottom of a bottle. If this was how he was going to cope than so be it. He couldn’t bare the thought of having to see anyone or tell them what he saw. He needed to wallow in this alone. He had to.

“Kim Taehyung?”

He almost doesn’t turn around at the sound of his name. He wasn’t really interested in seeing anyone, making small talk or fake conversation after the day he had and a part of him wonders if it’s even him that’s being called considering the voice isn’t immediately familiar. Still he turns himself round slightly on his bar stool and is surprised by who stands before him.

Minho smiles when he realises it is in fact Taehyung and then he moves closer to the empty chair to his left.

“Mind if I join you?”

The first thing Taehyung wants to say is no but he can’t bring himself to be so rude. Not when Minho is smiling down at him. The second thing he thinks is why the hell not? He technically wouldn’t be breaking any rules and why did it matter if he was anyway? Jungkook hadn’t seemed to keep the pact, so why should he?

He smiles back and pats the chair beside him which Minho wastes no time sitting on, flagging down one of the bar staff and ordering himself a drink.

“Can I get you anything else?” He asks Taehyung, who takes this opportunity to eye the other. It had been months since they’d been on their date but sure enough Minho was just as handsome as that day. That thought would have excited him once upon a time, but now he just felt depressed. He was cute, but he wasn’t Jungkook cute. No one ever was.

Taehyung decides then to give him another drink order, the way the younger had entered his head told him he wasn’t drunk enough and he needed it.

 “So what brings you out by yourself tonight?” Minho asks as he places Taehyung’s drink in front of him. He wraps his own fingers around his whiskey and takes a sip as he stares at the other with a small smile on his face.

“Just felt like getting a drink,” he lies and then nudges his head to the other. “You?”

Minho points behind him to where the tables in the bar were placed. “Business meeting just ended.” He then sets down his drink and begins rolling the sleeves of his shirt up his arms, unbuttoning his top button and then lowering his tie. “You know it’s really good to see you.”

Taehyung smiles at the compliment and it’s genuine. Minho was nice. He always had been nice. “Thanks, you too.” He replies, “I’m sorry we didn’t have a chance to meet up again.”

The other waves off the sentiment easily. “You’re busy, I’m busy. I get it. We had a good time though right?”

Taehyung nods. “Right” He says and then he smiles again and takes another drink.

“I’m glad we got a chance to bump into each other again. It’s a nice coincidence” Minho continues. “Don’t you think?”

Taehyung is nodding his head before he really registers what the other had said but when he processes the words, he tilts his head slightly. A nice coincidence? It was a coincidence that of all people Taehyung could have bumped into tonight it was the last date he really enjoyed. The one Jungkook had been so adamant for them to drop. Maybe this was supposed to happen? Now that he knew Jungkook was with Yugyeom, the thought of Minho wondering back into his life felt more than a coincidence. He smiles again.

“You wanna maybe get out of here?”

Minho matches the grin on his face. “Thought you’d never ask.”

They get back to Taehyung’s apartment in a flurry and it doesn’t take barely any longer for Taehyung to pull the elder through his door and attach their lips together. He has him pressed up against his door, fast and hurried, trying to taste as much of him as possible, moving so fast so that his brain doesn’t have to register his actions. Minho is smiling into the kisses but his hands come out to steady Taehyung, grabbing hold of his arms and taking control of the kiss at his own pace, slowing it down considerably. “Why the rush?” He whispers as he disconnects their mouths before attaching his lips to the others junction in his neck.

Taehyung swallows and falters slightly, allowing the other to trail the kisses down his neck into his collarbones but not embracing the feeling at the same time. He’s too in his head, he knows he his and the slow movements are only making it worse. This wasn’t supposed to be one of those types of evenings. He needed to forget. He needed pace and action.

He grabs hold of Minho's collar and peels him from the door, bringing him through his apartment and into his bedroom hoping that will speed things up measurably. The taller guy doesn’t seem to question when Taehyung all but throws him down on the bed and straddles his laps, trying to reclaim his dominance and use him for his own bidding. Taehyung attaches their lips once more as his hands stay firmly on Minho's shirt and he tries to blank his head again as he speeds up their tongues. He thinks he can do this, now that he’s back in control, and he thinks things will be okay, until he feels Minho's hand travel up the back of his thigh and grab hold of his ass. The squeeze makes him pause and he disconnects himself from the other, his panting heavy as his freezes.

“You okay?” Minho asks when he notices Taehyung’s hesitation. The sound of the boys voice causes him to look back at the other and nod his head.

He didn’t know what that was.

He tries again then to conjoin their lips and this time he really tries to focus just on the other and the pleasure he can bring him. This is enough. He tells himself. This can be enough. He repeats. Minhos hand moves up his thigh once more, following the same trail it had done just a few seconds ago and Taehyung tries to ignore it. He tries so hard not to think about the way he’s cupping his ass and only presses his lips further into the others in an effort to ignore the feeling. When Minho's hand moves from his behind, over his hips and rests close to his crotch however, he bulks again. This time his hand coming out to push the others away as if on instinct. It’s Minho this time who pulls away and he looks at Taehyung questioningly who tries his best not to meet the others eye-line. He’s not sure what’s wrong with him, why he’s being so weird but he’s so in his head instead of in the moment that he’s beginning to feel like he’s suffocating. He climbs off the other and instead gets into his bed, leaning against the headboard and then pulling Minho towards him. He hopes the change in position will get him more riled up, make him feel something, anything, and the way he spreads himself on the bed instantly causes the others concerned look to turn hungry again. Minho crawls up towards him and begins once more sending kisses down from his neck along his chest. Taehyung puts a hand in the other’s hair and tries to close his eyes to feel each touch, each press of lips but that pool of heat never comes. He just can’t find it. Not even when Minhos teeth begin to bite at his collarbone and nuzzle at the skin there, not even when he knows a mark will be left to remind him of this evening. Those thoughts can’t do anything to counter the ones swirling inside him. The ones about Jungkook and Yugyeom. Have they done this yet? Had their relationship been taken to this level? Was Jungkook being pleasured? cared for? Looked after by someone that wasn’t him? Could someone make Jungkook feel the way he wants to make him feel?

The thought gets lodged in his throat and before he knows it he’s pushing at Minho again, removing him mouth from his body and lifting him up. Minho looks up at him confused and Taehyung stares at him guiltily, a tear he didn’t even know had fallen wetting his cheek.

This was wrong. This was all so wrong and he wasn’t supposed to do this.

“Taehyung?” Minho says and the sound of his name forces a sob through his lip. “Taehyung are you okay?” Minho tries again.

He pats at his eyes and turns off the edge of the bed, unable to look at the other. He feels terrible, but this wasn't right. For him and for Minho. He shouldn’t be using him like this. Not when he didn’t want him like this. Not when he was all just an attempt to get back at Jungkook, to forget about him, to... to... he didn’t even know anymore.

“I’m so sorry” He says, “I’m sorry I shouldn’t have....”

Minho crawls off the bed and kneels beside Taehyung, looking up at him. “Hey, hey it’s okay,” he says, “it’s okay.” He pats his back and it causes another tear to fall from his eye. He feels so pathetic.

“I’m so embarrassed” Taehyung says but Minho is shaking his head.

“Don’t be” He replies, “it’s fine. I swear it’s fine. Do you want to talk about it?”

Taehyung looks at him and the elders eyes seem concerned, worried, like he actually cares.

“I...” He tries but what is he supposed to say? He doesn’t even know. He isn’t even sure. “You should go.”

Minho gives him another concerned glare and then shakes his head. “I can’t leave you like this” he says, “you aren’t okay.”

“I’ll be fine-”

“No you won’t.”

Taehyung bites his lip “I didn’t bring you hear to be my therapist,” he tells the other and it makes Minho let out a dry laugh.

“No” he says, “But you were clearly trying to use me for some kind of therapy.”

The words make Taehyung feel even more guilty and he winces. Even if Minho said it as a joke, it was true and he feels terrible for it.

“How about we try this another way,” Minho says then. “Taehyung whatever’s going on with you, you need to talk about it.”

He sighs once more. Minho was right and he knew he was. But is this what he should be doing? Pouring his heart out to a guy he barely knows who not even ten minutes ago he’d been trying to hook up with him? Had he really become that guy?

“Can I take a guess?” Minho says then and his words cause confusion in the other who tilts his head. “Just tell me If I’m right or wrong.”  Taehyung looks down again but his silence suggests Minho can continue and the boy sits beside him on the bed.

“Does this have anything to do with those photo frames I saw hanging on your wall on my way in here?”

Taehyung had spilt everything. The night ended up monumentally different from what he had expected but honestly he had been grateful. Minho had stayed round and he had told him about Jungkook, their friendship, his feelings and what he saw with Yugyeom. Minho had listened and nodded and tried to be supportive. It should have been weirder than it was but honestly Minho had been really helpful and wise and given Taehyung a lot of good advice about dealing with heartbreak and relationships. Being older he seemed to know a lot and Taehyung was grateful, even if he did still feel guilty. They ended up falling asleep talking and apart from the obvious mark that had formed on Taehyung’s collarbone they established their relationship as just friends and Minho was fine with that. More than gentlemanly actually. It wasn’t what Taehyung had thought he’d needed but it was the best form of help he could have gotten considering how much he was ready to avoid everyone else in his life.

He thought it would be okay. He thought the night would pass and the morning would come and he’d feel better.

What he didn’t expect was to find Jungkook standing in his kitchen at 10am the next morning with a look of complete confusion on his face.

“What are you doing here?”

He hears the words and he knows they came out of his mouth but he can’t process what he’s seeing. All types of emotion are swarming through him at the sight of the younger. Sadness, anger, confusion, loneliness. A part of him wants to run towards him and give him a big hug, just hold him close for a while, but the other half of him is so mad and betrayed. Hurt to the fullest extent.

“I.... I came to see you....to... uhhh,” Jungkook can’t get his words out. His eyes trail from Taehyung to Minho and when he sees the elder again he swallows and feels his stomach drop once more. There’s another silence and Minho looks between the two boys who are both standing there almost frozen. He coughs then and puts down his spatula, turning the stove off.

“I’ll let you two talk,” he says and he moves himself away from the counter. As he walks past Taehyung he squeezes his shoulder in support. Taehyung gives him a small smile and the action makes Jungkook’s knees almost buckle. Especially when the turn of Taehyung's head to the other boy reveals a large purple mark under his shirt. If the sight before him wasn’t clear enough, the love bite is all the rest of the confirmation he needs and he tries his best to swallow down the tears he can feel rising within him.

In the next second they’re left alone and he doesn’t know what to do.

“Minho?” He says, voice small, weak.

Taehyung tries to ignore it. He was angry, he needed to stay angry.

“Jungkook you should have called before you came.”

“I thought... I didn’t think....” he runs a hand through his hair and tries to hide the hurt on his face. He had no reason to show that this had upset him, did he? Taehyung didn’t know he was in love with him and so there would be no reason for him to be sad right now. Expect well.... the pact. The deal. Taehyung had broken it. That was his leg to stand on. If he could show any sort of emotion about what he’d just witnessed, that was the only way he’d be able to do it.

“I thought we had rules,” he says then, “what happened to the pact?” He thinks he’s in the right to make the comment but when Taehyung looks taken aback by his words, he swallows again.

At the sound of Jungkook's comment, Taehyung feels himself heat up. Rules? He wanted to bring up the rules? Taehyung feels his anger surface through him. It’s clear Jungkook had the wrong idea about What had happened here but he couldn’t find it in him to care. Not when he’d been the one to break the rules first.

“You care about the rules now?” He retorts. “Now our friendship means something to you?”

Jungkook grows confused and shakes his head. “What are you taking about? Of course our friendship means something. Tae what are you saying?”

“What am I saying?” He steps forward. He had spent so much of his night crying over the other and trying to understand why he was so upset but now he just feels mad. “You tell me Jungkook? You’re the one who’s been off with Yugyeom recently. The rules were broken a long time ago.”

“I thought? You said that that was fine. Me and Yugyeom aren’t- we never-"

“Save it” Taehyung says, “you can say what you want but It doesn’t mean anything.” He tries to mention the kiss, wants to tell him he saw him, knows that he lied, but the very words can’t leave his mouth. Not without a tear following and he doesn’t want to cry. He can’t.

“Tae I don't understand. You’ve always known about Yugyeom. You’re the one who’s gone behind my back here...”

“Gone behind your back? Me?” His voice raises on the last word. “Are you still not even going to admit it?”

“Admit what? What the hell are you taking about?”

Taehyung clenches his fist still in disbelief at the younger's denial “I really can’t believe you.”

“Tae, try to help me understand here-“

“Look I think it’s just best you go.”

Jungkook pauses. Go? Arguments got resolved. Disputes were always sorted. How could he expect him to leave now?

“No” he replies, “no I want to talk about this.”

“Talk about what? Unless you’re honest with me there’s nothing more to say.”

“Tae I’ve always been honest with you. How did this even become about me? You’re the one who’s made the mistake here!”

“Mistake? You don’t even know what I did!”

Jungkook scoffs and it hits Taehyung hard. How could Jungkook be so quick to hold none of the blame? How could he stand there and judge him when he was the first person to create this rift?

“You’re really just going to criticise me huh? I’m the fuck up? I’m the one who went behind your back?” Taehyung sighs. “I want you to leave”

“Taehyung-"

“Jungkook please just get out.”

The younger's mouth opens one more time but he hesitates and stops himself when he sees the look in Taehyung’s eyes. He’s never seen a look like that before from the other and it frightens him. It tells him that Taehyung is serious about his words, that he needs to leave. He sighs and turns on his heels, barely managing to hold in his tears as he goes. A single drop falls from his eye right as he leaves the kitchen and by the time he gets to the door, he’s full on crying. He’d been hit with too many things in such a short period of time and its overwhelming him.

It takes him another twenty minutes before he’s even capable of driving away...

Chapter Text

They don’t speak. Weeks pass and Taehyung avoids Jungkook’s calls until the younger realises he has a right to be mad too and stops calling. It’s the longest they’ve gone without seeing each other, without talking non-stop and they both know it’s petty and ridiculous. That things could be sorted out just by sitting down and talking things out. There are so many things that had been left unsaid, so many things they both need to say, but the shock of what they had seen only fuelled hurt and anger that made sensible logic so unclear. All they could feel was the pain. Every time they relived the moments, Taehyung seeing Jungkook’s kiss in his mind, Jungkook seeing Taehyung standing in his kitchen with the hickey, it reinstated the nausea, the stomach-turning sickness, that sinking feeling. Things should have been getting easier with time, instead they just get worse.

“He cancelled you know.”

Yoongi brings Taehyung a mug of hot coco and sits beside him in the latter’s apartment. Hoseok is already on the other side, one arm around the younger and a sympathetic look on his face, mixed with a pointed stare filled with worry. Since being without Jungkook, Taehyung had not only avoided him, but found that he had closed himself off from everyone. Maybe it was ridiculous of him, but he felt so stupid and vulnerable. He didn’t want to confront his friends because he knew that would be confronting what happened, and he wasn’t ready for that. Instead he was waiting until he was ready to talk about it. At least that’s what he wanted.

The couple had other ideas.

“His dinner party. This month was Jungkook’s turn to host,” Yoongi continues. Taehyung stares down at his mug trying not to feel guilty. Clearly their rift had been the reason for that and he feels bad for the younger. He should have still thrown the dinner- they’ve never cancelled one in all the years of doing them- Taehyung just wouldn’t have gone.

“Tae are you ready to tell us what happened?” Hoseok asks, still holding the other boy. “You know we won’t judge. Whatever went on between you two... we just want to help.”

Taehyung takes a heavy breath. “It’s stupid,” he comments and then licks his lip in habit. “He broke the pact.”

Hoseok and Yoongi look at each other before looking back at Taehyung. “Your college pact?” Yoongi asks, “the dating one?” He looks confused as he speaks, knowing full well they don’t have any other deal but struggling to understand how Jungkook could ever have possibly broken it. That just did not sound likely.

“I went by his house and I saw him outside. With Yugyeom....They were kissing.” He chews on his bottom lip to stop the feelings that come with saying those words. He didn’t want to say too much.

“Kissing? Yugyeom? Are you sure?” Yoongi questions. His face looks shocked, probably the most animated Taehyung has ever seen it, as if he’d just told him he’d won the lottery or saw a ghost.

“Yeah I thought he said they were friends. That doesn’t make sense...” Hoseok adds on, a look rivalling his partners.

“He lied to me.” Taehyung confirms. “I thought they were.... I believed they were but....”

Hoseok shakes his head. “Are you sure there’s not some other explanation for this? Taehyung there’s not possibly way Jungkook could be with Yugyeom. He’s been in lo-"

Yoongi shoots him a glare that cuts him off quickly and the other closes his mouth. “I mean he’s never lied to you in all the years you’ve known him”. He gives Yoongi an apologetic stare as the other glares at him. “This just doesn’t seem like Jungkook.”

“I know what I saw hyung’s. I was only across the street. It was them, clear as day.”

Both of the elders heave a sigh and lean back into their chairs. Hoseok goes to stroke Taehyung's hair as Yoongi tries to actually understand what happened next.

“So you confronted him about it, right?” He asks curiously.

Taehyung's fingers fumble, he looks away again and bites his lip. “Not exactly,” he says, “he came to my place the next morning.... I had company...”

“Company?” They say in unison.

“A past date.” Taehyung makes clear, “we bumped into each other and he stayed round.” When he sees the looks of confusion on the others faces grow stronger, he holds out his hands in defence. “Nothing happened. We kissed, he gave me a hickey... but that was it... I wasn’t.... I didn’t...” he sighs again and then crosses his arms.

“So Jungkook saw this guy at your place?”

Taehyung nods but keeps his head down.

“and he thought you and him....”

He doesn’t say anything.

“Tae why didn’t you tell him you didn’t?” Yoongi asks.

“Hyung he wouldn’t even admit to me that he was with Yugyeom! He kept denying it! And I saw in his face that he thought...” he widens his eyes to signify what he means, “so I let him! Because I wanted him to think that if he could do that to our friendship than I could too!”

 Yoongi sighs and runs a hand through his hair. He looks as if this conversation has aged him several years, like hes ready to turn around and tell Taehyung that he’s tool old to deal with this drama. Taehyung grits his teeth, waiting for the criticism, waiting for Yoongi to tell him he messed up. It’s not like he wasn’t already thinking it anyway. Sure he was upset about the kiss, but did he really need to throw Jungkook out of his place? Make it seem like he and Minho had hooked up just so that he wasn't the only one of the two who was alone? He feels so childish. Has his feelings for Jungkook really made him behave in such a drastically terrible way?

These are the things he expects Yoongi to call out. He braces himself but it never comes. Instead, after a moment, Yoongi places a hand on Taehyung’s thigh. “Tae why were you so upset about Yugyeom?”

Taehyung winces. He didn’t want to say it. He doesn’t want to embarrass himself more than he already has. Admit his feelings when Jungkook’s own lay with someone else. “Hyung didn’t you hear me? The pact. He broke it...”

Yoongi shakes his head.  He doesn't believe the excuse. “Tae I know you. I know how forgiving you are, I know that if Jungkook was happy you’d let him be happy regardless of some dumb deal you made when you were kids.” Taehyung looks away from his friend and goes back to staring at his mug now on the table. He doesn’t want to hear it, he can’t….

“Tae,” Yoongi calls gently, beside him. He doesn’t look up. “Tae why were you at Jungkook’s place that morning?”

He keeps his head down, not expecting the question. “I go around his place a lot... you guys know that.”

“Not early in the morning you don’t.”

Taehyung lets go of a heavy shaky breath and stares at Yoongi properly. When their eyes meet, he feels the way the elder is trying to get through to him, is trying to give him a supportive stare, one that is telling him to just be honest with himself for once. To be honest with them. A look that says if he just admits how he feels, things can better.

He swallows, “What do you want me to say?” He asks him, his voice cracking mid-sentence revealing his vulnerability. He sounds so defeated, so weak and his eyes looks so sad. When his lip quivers its all the answer Yoongi needs. He knows then that the other won’t confirm it, but this was clear enough, his reaction says a thousand words. He looks over at Hoseok who seems to also understand what’s being implied and then he sighs.

“How did things get so messed up?” Hoseok says and Taehyung thinks he knows. He blames himself, he was the reason things got to this point. He acted on his feelings of anger and jealousy and hurt Jungkook. It was wrong.

“Is… is he okay?” his voice comes out as a whisper. When Hoseok hears it, he pulls him into his arms, continues to stroke his hair. He doesn’t deserve the comfort, but he really really needs it.

“Honestly Tae? We haven’t heard from him.” The elder replies, speaking the words into Taehyung’s hairline. “He’s avoided our calls, same as you…”

That stings even more. Jungkook is the one who deserves the hyung’s support right now, not him. He would call him, if he could. If he hadn’t been so stubborn in the beginning and avoided the others calls. If he hadn’t shouted at him like a hot-head.
He doesn’t want this to go unfixed. It can’t. But he’s stuck too. What is he supposed to do?

Jungkook’s doorbell rings three times. He ignores it each time, opting to put his television louder and stay planted on his couch. He’s wearing an old t-shirt, covered in stains and ripped on one sleeve, his sweatpants are worn and fading, and he has no plans at all to move. No way. He’d already put a sign on the door for the delivery guy to leave his food on the mat and so even if it was him behind the door, he’d get up and grab his noodles once he was gone. He didn’t want to see people.

 The ringing however doesn’t cease, not even after a minute or so, and when a continuous sound of high-pitched ‘dings’ follow each other, he sighs and stands up. The shrill sound is annoying and its clear it won’t be going away any time soon.

He doesn’t bother unwrapping his blanket from his head and body and he scurries towards his door in his bunny slippers, practically dragging his feet behind him.

“Yeah?” He says opening the door only half way. Three heads are squashed between the gap smiling at him with huge wide grins. Sympathy grins, he think’s and he rolls his eyes. “I told you guys there was no dinner party today.”

He tries to close the door but Jin is the first with a hand out, the only one to match the youngest in strength, and he prevents the door from closing. “We thought you could use some company. Let us in Kook.”

“I’m fine,” he says, voice short, not his own. “I told you guys I’m fine.”

 “Jungkook?” It’s Namjoon’s voice next. He places a hand to Jin's shoulder to gently nudge him out the way, so he's the only face that can be seen in the gap of the door. He smiles again, his big dimpled grin, tries to seem soft to the younger, in hopes he'll loosen up a bit. “We know you don’t want to talk about it but that’s not why we’re here. We just thought it would be nice to hang out.”

Jungkook sighs again.

 “I made you some of your favourite snacks from the restaurant,” Jin follows, appearing once more, placing his cheek against his husbands, hoping the food would be enough to convince Jungkook. If there was one thing that would get him to open the door, it was Jin's cooking and the elder knew that. 

“Guys seriously I’m fine, you don’t need to-”

“Jungkook if you don’t open this door right now, I swear to god I will find a way to break it down. I’m not kidding!”

 Jimin. The shortest of his three hyung's is less gentle in his approach, shoving the elder two from the door so he the only one standing there, an intense glare in his eye. For someone who oozes, softness, he was by far the most intimidating hyung when he wants to be.

 “Hyung, I-”

 “Jungkook don’t even try to hyung me right now. I’m coming in whether you let me or not!”

 He sighs again and then undoes his latch, holding the door open for his three hyung’s to come barrelling through. As harsh as Jimin’s words are, when he sees the youngest properly it’s a different story and he pulls him into a hug, reaching up on his toes to grab Jungkook's head and place it on his shoulder, stroking his hair affectionately, treating him like the younger brother he is.
“Are you okay? Are you eating?” He asks, concerned.

 Jungkook shrugs him off and nods his head.“I’m fine I’m fine,” he tries to say again, the word being uttered now so many times it’s starting to sound weird in his mouth. When they all give him awkward glares, he knows they don’t believe him. He doesn’t even believe himself.

 Jin is the first to set off in the apartment, make his way to the others kitchen and place down the dishes in the counter-top, nudging a couple magazines out the way to do so. He quirks an eyebrow at the mess and then turns to eye Jungkook’s apartment critically. “Jungkook please tell me you haven’t been living like this?”

 The place is probably the dirtiest it’s even been, papers and plates on his coffee table, chairs out of line, pillows and quilts all over his sofas. It no longer looked like the home of a successful twenty something photographer living in the heart of Seoul. It was a dump.

“I haven’t had time to clean,” he says defensively, pulling his blanket tighter and crossing his arms.

Namjoon tuts. “Staying on your couch and watching cartoons doesn’t count as keeping busy.”

“I’ve had stuff on my mind.”

 The three boys look at each other and then Jin sighs. “Namjoon grab the vacuum, Jimin start grabbing the stuff on the sides. We can’t leave him like this.”

 The two boys nod and then Jin walks over to Jungkook and wraps an arm around him. “Messy house messy mind. Jungkook I know you’re going through some things, but you should never forget to look after yourself.”

 He looks down feeling slightly ashamed. He knew his hyung was right, but things lately had been hard, and he’s let a lot of things escape him. He pauses in the moment as his mind wanders, his eyes focusing on something else entirely… Taehyung's soft hair, his beautiful long eyelashes, the sound of his laugh… He blinks a few times to prevent his eyes getting glassy. Jin notices this and heaves another sympathetic sigh. He then grabs Jungkook’s hand and ushers him towards his shower, coercing him into getting himself freshened up, telling him that he’ll feel better once he’s clean and they’ll have the place tidy by the time he’s done.

 Sure enough his words are true and the shower does help. His place is also back to looking the way it’s supposed to when he shuffles back into his hallway and sees that Jin has already set the food out on the table. The take-out noodles now included too. He’s thankful that no one has had to say anything about what’s happened and rather they’re just there for him physically. He didn’t know how he would have coped had they come straight through and brought up Taehyung in the very first second. As they eat their food, he’s grateful for the way they try to keep him distracted but he knows it’s only a matter of time before things need to be addressed. He’s bracing himself for that very moment.

 “So,” Namjoon starts as he puts down his chopsticks, his plate now empty. Jungkook looks around the table to notice the other two have done the same thing and he swallows hard. Here it was, what he’d been dreading all evening.“How are things Kook? How are you doing?”

 He sighs and puts down his own chopsticks, placing his hands in his lap. “Just ask me what you want to ask me,” He says, “I know that’s why you’re here.”

 “Now, now,” Jin says sternly, “first and foremost we’re here to make sure you’re okay. That’s what most important.”

“-And I told you guys I’m fine.”

“You are most definitely not fine,” Namjoon interrupts. “Jungkook no one has seen or heard from you or Taehyung in weeks.”

 At the sound of the other boy’s name Jungkook winces and all three of them catch it. Jimin then lifts Jungkook’s hand from the table and holds it supportively. “We’re your best friends Jungkook. You need to rely on us a little more. You’ve spent your whole life keeping so much in.... just let go.”

 He chews on his lip as he looks between his friends all staring at him with pleading eyes. Jimin was right about him. He never went to the others with his problems, with his feelings. He’d kept his emotions so bottled up because he was always worried to let them out. But maybe Jimin was right now. Maybe he needed to start being honest with those around him...

 “I don’t even know what happened,” his body deflates at the table, his vices dropping properly. “I went to his place to tell him, to talk to him but he was mad at me. Mad at me and Yugyeom... and he had someone there. He was with another guy....” the tears arrive in his eyes and he tries to swat them away as soon as they fall. “He was with someone else. He has someone else.... I can’t believe I was so stupid to think that maybe he could have loved me back....”

 His friends all swarm towards him, each one trying to comfort him as he cries on the table. They all look equally confused, struggling to comprehend Taehyung would have done something like this- it made no sense. In all the years of dating, Taehyung had never once gone against Jungkook’s words when he said he didn’t like someone. They all could tell he wasn’t happy about Yugyeom but they had hoped that would lead to a realisation, a confession, maybe. Not that Taehyung would find someone else.

 “Have you tried talking to him again?” Jimin says, “I mean it’s Taehyung, this isn’t like him.”

“I’ve tried,” he says shaking his head, “he won’t answer my calls.” His face screws up and then he sighs again, this time in exasperation. He looks stressed as though maybe he shouldn’t say what he wants to but then gives in anyway, “But don’t I deserve to be mad too? Don’t I deserve to be hurt that he did this?”

 “Of course you do,” Jin says, “I mean Tae doesn’t know how you feel about him so he can’t be aware about how you would feel with him being with someone else, but he still broke the pact. That’s not right.”

 “I’m always the one who has been by his side, gone on those ridiculous dates... date after date after date!” He cries, “I didn’t do anything wrong and he’s treating me like some asshole who’s turned his back on over ten years of our relationship! When that wasn’t even me who did that!?” His words are barely audible through his tears, and it only makes the others grow more sympathetic for him. He was really hurt by this and it’s a change seeing Jungkook so unfiltered. The kid always kept a level head, always tried to mediate between the rest of the guys, keep everyone else happy.

“I just don’t understand what would make him do that,” Namjoon says next, “Tae is the most loyal person we know.”

“Something doesn’t add up,” Jimin agrees. “I need to talk to him.”

 Jungkook’s blubbers lessen and he sniffles in an effort to return to normalcy. A cough escapes his mouth and then he chews his lip before turning to Jimin once more. “Chim? Is he okay? How’s he doing? How’s the show?”

 Jimin pats his hair again. “Honestly I don’t really know...He hasn’t spoken to anyone in weeks. Hobi said he’s with him now but he hasn’t kept me updated.”

Jungkook nods, sniffling a little bit more.

 “Look Jungkook I know things are difficult now but they’ll get better. You two have been inseparable for years.” Namjoon places an arm on his shoulder. His wisdom was needed at times like this- his ability to see things clearly. “This fight has just been blown out of proportion. Just give it time and you guys will be back to normal.”

 Jungkook nods again but this time with a little less conviction. He hoped Namjoon’s words were true but if he was being completely honest with himself, he didn’t want things to go back to normal. Not really. He had gone to Taehyung’s place that morning because he wanted to tell Taehyung he loved him. He wanted them to take their relationship to the next level. His heart aches at the thought that it had been set back so far.

“We know things are tough now Kook, but in a month, things will be better.” Jin adds on with a smile. “The next dinner will be at our place. By then I’m sure this will be forgotten.” He gives him as convincing a smile as he can muster up.

One month? He can only hope.

 

One Month Later:

They climb the stairs hurriedly, no chance to catch their breaths as they make their way up to Namjoon and Seokjin's apartment for dinner. Taehyung tries not to think about the fact he feels as though he can’t breathe and focus on the fancy marble flooring of the stairwells, as Jimin stands at least four steps ahead of him beckoning for him to hurry up. He’s trying his hardest but honestly he barely has the energy- sitting around doing a whole lot of nothing and wallowing in self pity, surprisingly takes a lot out of a person. He sighs and grabs hold of the railing, using it to help propel him forward as he curses the married couple for having to live so damn high up. The higher the floor the better the view- Namjoon always used to say, ‘and the richer you seem’ Jin would add on as a joke. Even for living in such a nice part of the city as they do, Taehyung thinks they should at least have an elevator that worked.

  “We’re running late,” Jimin pipes up again as he sets off taking the stairs almost two at a time. Taehyung damns him for being so athletic and doesn’t even try to catch up with him anymore.

 “I don’t even think I should be coming,” he shouts up to the other instead. “I feel like this was a mistake.”

 “Tae, you’ve been locked in your apartment for a month- you had to come today. Everyone wants to see you.”

  He bulks at the word. ‘Everyone’. It wouldn’t be everyone though. Jimin had told him Jungkook wouldn’t be coming and he didn’t ask for details- even though he desperately wanted them- but that sole reason was the only reason he was here. He knew it was childish of him to only show up if Jungkook wouldn’t be in attendance but the longer they have gone apart, the more terrified he's found the prospect of seeing him again. He had made a lot of mistakes in his life and he still feels bad about how he reacted, but he still can get over the fact Jungkook lied to him either. He sighs again as he thinks about the other boy, wonders if he’s probably spending the evening with Yugyeom instead- happy and smiling on the boys stupid new blue couch. He knows jealousy looks ugly on him but he just can’t help it. He was jealous and he’s willing to admit it now. 

 They finally reach the top floor and Jimin waits for Taehyung to regain his breath for a few seconds before he leans up. “Look,” He says gently, “I know it was hard for you to come out tonight and I really appreciate you making the effort after everything that’s happened.”

 Taehyung’s stomach drops at the implicit mention of all that’s gone wrong the last months or so.

 “I just want you to know that I love you a lot. And I really just want the best for you. I want you to be happy.” Jimin holds out his hands and grabs hold of Taehyung’s where he tightens his grip in a supportive matter.

 “Thank you,” Taehyung replies, “I- just thank you.” He feels emotional and he wants to say more but he doesn’t have to, Jimin knows what he wants to say and how he feels- he can see it in his face. He then gives him a smile but his face looks slightly anxious as he knocks on the door. Taehyung notices the switch but thinks nothing of it, especially when Namjoon opens seconds later and they’re being ushered into the apartment.

“Tae its really nice to see you,” he hears as Namjoon hugs him and he smiles at the other gently. He has missed his friends a lot.

 “Now Tae,” Jimin says, as they continue to walk. Namjoon is watching the shorter cautiously and Jimin is keeping his eyes straight. “I want you to remember what I said outside. How much I love and care for you. How much we all do...”

 Taehyung cocks his eyebrow in confusion at the way Jimin's voice trails.

 “I don’t want you to be mad but...”

 Why would he be mad? He thinks to himself. They reach the dining room and Jimin's voice cuts off. Taehyung is still staring at him in questioning but with their feet at a halt and a weird silence that’s fallen around them, he looks up in confusion. When he does his heart falls into his stomach and his eyes widen dramatically.

 Jungkook has plates in his hand, one paused midway from being placed in front of a chair, setting the table. He’s seen Taehyung too- hence the reason he’s stopped in his tracks- and if his face is anything to go by, he’s just as surprised to see Taehyung as the elder is to see him.

 They’d been set up.

 Yoongi and Hoseok are also in the room, looking at Taehyung and he swallows as he sees them in his peripheral move over to the door, near where Namjoon and Jimin are.

 This was all planned.

 “We thought you two needed to talk,” Jimin pipes up again.

 Neither of the two boys say anything. Jungkook doesn’t even blink.

 The other four leave the room then, leave the two of them just to stand there and stare at each other with the same blank and shocked expressions. Taehyung wants to pretend like he’s mad, like he doesn’t want to see Jungkook, but it’s hard. It’s so hard. Because now that he’s seeing him again, his heart is ricocheting in his chest and he feels this weird sense of calm or relief. His first initial feeling is that he wants to run over to him and grab him, apologise and pretend like he isn’t still hurt, like he hasn’t been lied to. He just wants to feel Jungkook’s arms around him again, see him smile, see him laugh. God he’s missed his laugh and now that he’s remembering the joyous sound he can barely cope with the fact he’s been without it for so long.

 His eyes turn hopeful, pleading. He wonders if Jungkook can understand them asking him if this is okay, if they can just put everything behind them. When the younger coughs and decides to continue plating up the table, a clench to his jaw, that hopefulness disappears.

 “They told me you weren’t coming,” His voice says. Taehyung has missed his voice so damn much but he can’t show that. Not with the way Jungkook seems to be presenting himself. He coughs then and straightens his face.

 “They said the same thing to me,” he replies. He tries to sound as emotionless as the other but he doesn’t. His voice falters a little bit and he sounds anxious. At the sound of it, Jungkook looks up, a look of concern washes over him for a brief second- as if the sound of Taehyung’s voice told him exactly how the other was feeling. Taehyung hopes that maybe then he’ll drop his vices but when the younger straightens up again and wipes the look clean from his features, he sighs once more.

 Jungkook’s guard was up big time. He had never been like this to Taehyung before. ever. He doesn’t like it.

 “So you didn’t have any other plans tonight?” Taehyung asks next, trying to straighten his voice out. Jungkook looks at him and tilts his head.

 “What other plans could I have possibly had?”

 He doesn’t want to say it but he makes a face at such a question. He could have been off with his new boyfriend, clearly.“I just figured-"

 “Is this about Yugyeom again?” Jungkook asks in an annoyed voice, “seriously Tae? Again?”

 At the way the younger gets so agitated by the idea, Taehyung feels his stomach churn in annoyance. Why did Jungkook feel like he could have so much attitude in answering the question? It was a fair one to ask considering what he had seen that morning.

 “Well you’re always with him so-"

 “Seriously? You’re seriously bringing that up again? Are you really that jealous of him?” His look is questioning, annoyed now and fed up. He can’t seem to understand why Taehyung is so fixated on Yugyeom and being so willing to mess up their relationship over him.

 “So what if I am!” Taehyung replies, his voice getting louder, more angry. Jungkook wasn’t expecting the reply and his mouth snaps shut. “Yes okay I’m jealous. So what? I’m allowed to be aren’t I? Jungkook you we’re mine!”

 He doesn’t mean to say such a thing and he feels embarrassed the second it leaves his mouth. People don’t belong to people. It’s a ridiculous thing to say and it makes him feel sick. His words are coming out all wrong.

 “Yours?” Jungkook retorts, “Tae, I don’t belong to you.”

 Taehyung falters “I know I-"

 “You can’t just suddenly claim me."

 “I wasn’t-"

 “You made it very clear a long time ago that I wasn’t yours and I tried for so long to make my peace with that.”

 Wait what?

 Taehyung doesn’t understand what Jungkook means and he bites his lip at the words. The atmosphere feels so weird- like they're on the verge of everything just  spilling out, laying right there on the perfectly decorated table, but they’re still both holding back so much. Too afraid to really just say what’s in both of their hearts. To be honest with each other.

 “You’ve always been the one who pushed for us to see other people, to go on those ridiculous dates! Date after date I saw you get close to these guys who didn’t even deserve you and I had to just sit and watch and deal with it. 'Coz I was your best friend, because that’s what we agreed we’d do. I never once made you feel bad or guilty for wanting to see someone again. I never once questioned you or stopped you even when I knew they weren’t right for you.”

 Taehyung feels his legs begin to wobble and he feels sick to his stomach at Jungkook words.

 “You made it so clear to me that I was just your friend, that we were always just friends no matter how I may have been feeling or what I wanted. Why now have you gotten so mad at me for spending time with Yugyeom? What have I done that’s so wrong to you?”

 “You lied to me.”

 “When did I ever-?"

 “Jungkook I don’t understand why you’re so adamant not to admit to me that you and Yugyeom are together.”

 Jungkook pulls back, confused. “Together?”

 At the way he seems to be playing dumb, Taehyung grows angry and he rolls his eyes before throwing his hands up in defeat. “I saw you!” He admits, “Outside your apartment. Kissing. I came by that morning and... and you guys were.....” He swallows his words and then tries again. “For so long you told me you we’re just friends, that’s all you were-"

 “Taehyung that morning wasn’t-"

 But he doesn’t let him continue. Now was his time to talk. “Look it’s whatever it is. You want to be with Yugyeom you can be with him.” He doesn’t meant it. He doesn’t mean any of it. The last thing he wanted was for Yugyeom and Jungkook to be together but how could he say that? How could he tell him that? His eyes begin to water but he holds back any tears. He wasn’t going to let this upset him. “I just thought I deserved a little more respect from you,” he continues, his voice much more sincere now. “I was supposed to be your best friend. If you wanted to be with him than you could be. But... but the fact you kept it? The fact that you started blowing me off to spend time with him? The way you came late to my dinner, how you were barely present at the theatre that day? I expected my best friend to be there for me and you weren’t.”

 His eyes bare into Jungkook’s for a second, just a moment. “You thought I was jealous?” He asks and then he swallows, let’s out a breath but keep his eyes trained on the other. “ Of course I was jealous. I was losing you. I lost you.”

 Jungkook heaves a defeated sigh. “I can’t do this,” he says and runs a hand through his hair. “I can’t handle this Tae.” His voice sounds scared and stressed, tired.

 “Can’t handle what?”

 “This! Us!” He pauses for a second, “you...” He leaves his hand in his hair and he shrugs. “I don’t understand you.” He admits with another defeated sigh.

 “...you we’re with Minho. You broke the rules to your own pact.”

 “Minho wasn’t anything.”

 "Neither was Yugyeom...”

 “But I saw-"

 “You saw what you thought you saw. He kissed me, he did. But we weren’t. We aren’t....” he shakes his head but then something dawns on him and he looks back at Taehyung in question.

 “You thought I broke the pact so you went and hooked up with Minho?”

 “I-"

 “Instead of just coming to talk to me and find out what happened you had to get back at me? Was that it? Even the playing field?”

 “No it wasn’t like that.” But wasn’t it? He wanted to break the pact back, but he was also upset. He was drunk and his feelings were all over the place. He had realised he was in love. Is in love. He was heartbroken.

 “Tae help me understand here?” He pleads.

 But Taehyung doesn’t know what to say. What is he supposed to admit? His feelings are still so confusing to him, still so raw, and in complete honesty, they terrify him. He can’t just spill that truth when it’s so new to him, so fresh. Something he’s still so unsure about, still so insecure about. it could redefine everything about them. Change them forever. He needs to know that confessing is the right thing before he does it. He needs to know that if he says what he wants to, it will lead to something successful.

 He looks at Jungkook again and analyses his face. He wonders if his eyes look hopeful. Like they desperately want to hear something. That one particular something that Taehyung should say but is too afraid to. His face seems like it’s waiting for it, like it’s praying for it.... but Taehyung isn’t sure...

 “I don’t know what to say.”

 Its the wrong answer. Of all the things they could discuss, of the journey the conversation could take, it doesn’t. Taehyung is too scared of his own heart. He’s too scared to say it out loud, to admit it. Jungkook looks like he’s just been punched.

 “Well until you figure it out. I think it’s best we stay apart...”

 At the words, Taehyung's face drops. Jungkook begins to walk out of the room but the other tries to stop him, tries to grab his arm and halt his action, even just for a second.

 “So that’s it? You can’t just get past this?”

 Jungkook purses his lips. He turns his head back and looks at Taehyung one last time, his face looks hurt, broken. Taehyung’s eyes are wide and worried and they cut into him like a knife. How can he still not see? How can he be so blind?

 “Taehyung I can’t just be your friend anymore. I can’t just pretend like everything is okay when it isn’t. I can’t keep lying to myself.”

 “What are you? What do you...?”

 “I know what’s in my heart. I know how I feel, but you? Can you say the same?”

 Taehyung doesn’t say anything and Jungkook accepts that as his answer.