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It’s hard to fake a moan. But Taehyung is a good actor so he does it perfectly.

 

“That is incredibly believable.”

 

Kim Taehyung peeks with one eye at the guy sitting near the edge of the worn-out bed, hugging his knees. “I can do it louder, just watch.”

The guy giggles quietly. “They’ll think I’m doing a good job, then.”

“I bet you do.”

“Point of pride.”

 

Room 203 is in the middle of two rooms, both filled with fucking couples. Said fucking couples have no relationship except one: client and service provider. You can judge the performance of the latter by the intensity of the genuine moan of pleasure from the clients.

The people in Room 203 are the only exception.

 

“So, where else did you go to today, Rich Boy?”

 

Taehyung chuckles huskily at the nickname. Jimin, his companion, started calling him Rich Boy two weeks ago when he found out that the former is a chaebol. Tae’s not really supposed to share that kind of information, but his trust in Jimin has reached a point where he doesn’t care anymore.

“A business meeting, as usual,” he answers, playing with the blanket wrapped around him, “Two, actually. I got so bored, I almost fell asleep.”

“Was your father there?”

“Yep. Gave me the stink eye as usual.”

“I’m sorry.”

 

They sit there in silence for a second.

 

“I think you should moan again,” Jimin says, “Otherwise, they’ll think I’m doing it wrong.”

“Is it necessary? No one is listening anyway. Judging from our neighbor’s sounds,” Tae pauses for effect, emphasizing the high-pitched whines from next door, “No one is going to notice.”

“My boss will. He usually walks outside the halls to listen.”

“Gross.”

Jimin smiles. “It’s called business, Kim Taetae.”

The chaebol purses his lips first before smacking them. “Fine. Massage my feet, then,” he says.

Jimin does as he is told. He takes off Taehyung’s socks, commenting on how they have holes ( “Rich boy like you can’t even afford a good pair of socks” ) and puts them down on the floor. He flexes his fingers before he starts rubbing the soles of Tae’s foot.

Immediately, Taehyung produces a sound.

“Yeah, right there. Oh my god.”

His companion tries not to laugh. He presses another soft spot.

“Shit. Yeah. That’s good.”

“You like it right there, honey?” Jimin asks, playing along as he presses harder, “You like it harder?”

“Yes, harder.”

“As you wish.”

As Jimin massages him, Taehyung gets into the feeling of comfort that he allows himself to whine and moan — adding exaggeration along the way. Jimin humors him by pretending with him, asking if he wants it faster, harder, and better.

 

“Oh my god, I’m going to—!”

 

And Tae smiles at Jimin mischievously as the latter looks at him. He makes a face and heaves a sigh.

 

“Is that your I just came face?” his companion asks him.

“No. It’s ugly.”

Jimin shakes his head. “I can’t imagine you being ugly, Rich Boy.”

“You should see it.”

“You won’t let me.”

 

It’s one of those days where Jimin brings up the uniqueness of their situation. It was awkward at first, but Taehyung is getting around to it.

He sits up and puts his socks on. “I let you do other stuff anyway,” he says, “I let you listen to me. You even hug me on occasion so that’s something.”

“That’s not what I’m supposed to do, though,” says Jimin, handing him his coat. Taehyung takes it gratefully and puts it on.

“It’s OK. I’m happy. You said that’s the point of your job, right?”

 

His companion is hesitant at first before a small smile appears on his face.

“Right.”

 


 

“I know where you went.”

 

Taehyung doesn’t miss that coy tone in his friend Minjae’s voice. He ignores it and pretends to busy himself with papers he should be signing. Minjae, however, knows that he’s listening.

“Your brother brought you there once and now, you practically live there,” he comments.

“I do not.”

“Where were you last Friday?”

“What is it to you?”

Minjae takes a sip of his wine. “Because you ditched Seo Joon hyung’s bachelor party at a strip club.”

“I attended the first part of the party, excuse me,” Taehyung defends himself, “You were too busy making out with that stripper to notice.”

“But you left and Hyun Sik hyung told me someone saw you go there,” Minjae remarks, “Also, your driver said he dropped you off on a street adjacent to that place last Sunday. And may I remind you of yesterday, when we were supposed to play ball?” He smirks. “I guess you decided to play balls on your own.”

Taehyung keeps his attention to his papers. “Look, I have a life, too.”

“You really like it there, I know,” replies his friend, “Wah, I never thought I’d see Kim Taehyung explore the crass side of life. I salute you, sir. Remind me to applaud your hyung for taking you there.”

 

Minjae checks his phone. “Well, I have to go,” he says, “We have dinner tomorrow with some of the board members, right?”

“Yep. Please come. I don’t want to be the only kid.”

“I think I should be reminding you that,” his friend says slyly, “Don’t bang anyone until after the dinner, OK? Might want to bring me there too. I think I could use someone.” With a haughty laugh, he bids Tae goodbye and heads off.

 

Once he’s gone, Taehyung sighs.

 

He regrets telling Minjae about the night his drunk Seokjin hyung brought him to a brothel for his birthday two months ago.

 

Seokjin said Taehyung needed to “man up,” which was why a brothel was his idea of a birthday bash for his younger brother.

“I know you’re not a virgin,” his hyung told him while they were going up the stairs, “But you sure act like it a lot. So for that, your hyung is going to teach you how to be more of man.”

“By paying a stranger to have sex with me?” Taehyung asked once they reached the lobby, where a shady man approached them and handed them a menu ( God, they have menus for these hell-bent places? ). He opened it and cringed at the photos, not because they weren’t attractive, but because he hated the idea of presenting people like food.

“Yes. And not just any stranger,” a drunk Seokjin said, smiling manically at him, “You are about to fuck quality prostitutes, my brother.”

The term prostitute didn’t sit well with Taehyung but he couldn’t blow his brother’s fun. Seokjin was heartbroken at that time and arguing with him didn’t feel right.

“Sure, hyung. Thanks.”

“C’mon, pick anyone that you like. It’s on me,” Seokjin said, removing his jacket and handing it to one of the attendants.

While his brother tells them who he wants for the night, Taehyung found himself staring at the blur of faces in front of him. He mindlessly pointed to one when the receptionist asked him again and before he knew it, they were leading him down a dimly lit hallway.

Room 203 wasn't as cramped as it is now. It was small but spacious. There was a single bed beside a table that had a bottle of lube and some condoms. A worn-out radio sat beside these things and it played a soulful yet depressing music.

Taehyung was about to leave when the door opened and he was face to face with a pair of plump lips.

 

That was when they first met.

 


 

"...and I don't know. I guess I sort of resent him."

 

Jimin's tinkling laugh hovers in the air.

"Taetae, it doesn't take a genius to know that you're not your father's biggest fan," he says, "You don't sort of resent him. You really do."

Taehyung sighs, his head resting on his companion's lap. “You’re right. In fact, resent is a nicer word.”

“Surely, you don’t hate your dad?”

The rich man’s son closes his eyes as he enjoys the feeling of Jimin’s fingers weaving through his hair. “I just hate the situation I’m in,” he answers, “But he’s part of that situation, has always been since day one. I know you’re not supposed to hate your father but…” he trails off. Taehyung tries to find the right words but ultimately gives up.

“Bet you wish you weren’t rich now, huh?” Jimin teases.

Taehyung opens his eyes and gazes up at his companion, admiring the man’s plump lips.

“The money is good but the people, the deals, and the bullshit that rakes in the money…” he shakes his head, “They make my situation complicated. Did you know they tried to arrange another marriage for me yesterday?”

Jimin’s eyes widen. “That’s like the third?”

“No. The fourth, actually. The second one when you met me.”

 

The brothel didn’t seem like entirely a bad idea to Taehyung at that time. Given his situation, a part of him was tempted to just go rogue.

 

The first time he saw the man with beautiful lips, Taehyung thought he could be the perfect escape.

But once he got a better look at the guy who just entered the room, the chaebol forgot about the perfect escape. All he could think of was this guy was just perfect.

With his hair coiffed up carelessly, his body concealed by a loose robe and v-neck dress shirt that slightly revealed a seductive collarbone, and come hither eyes, Park Jimin strolled in Kim Taehyung’s life, clueless to the outcome of their first meeting.

 

“...you were obviously distracted that night,” Jimin recalls as he continues to brush his hair, “You were frozen for like what...two minutes?”

“Isn’t it possible that I was distracted by the magnificent creature that is you?” asks Taehyung. His companion playfully shoves him.

“No, if you were then you would have fucked me, but you didn’t. You still haven’t.”

He stops running his fingers through Tae’s hair. The rich young man looks up and sees a bothered expression on his companion’s face.

Taehyung slowly sits up. “You’re doing it again,” he says.

“What?”

“That face.”

Jimin raises an eyebrow at him. “Can you blame me? I’m not doing what you’re paying me for.”

“And I have told you countless times that I’m OK with that,” insists Taehyung, “I’m OK with paying for your presence alone.”

“But I should be doing more. I should be making you happy.”

“You listening to me and putting up with my rants about my shitty life is doing me such a big favor, Jimin,” the chaebol replies, “You allowing me to dump all of my bullshit in this sacred space makes me happy, to be fucking honest.”

His companion’s eyes soften. He reaches out to caress Taehyung’s cheek. “You make it sound like you were lonely before you met me,” he notes.

 


 

Being the son of one of Korea’s most powerful men, Taehyung was rarely alone. He was always surrounded by security, colleagues, business partners, guests, and important people. He had friends. He had his brother. He had his parents.

But he often felt lonely.

 

He didn’t think that he was lonely until he met Jimin.

Taehyung had everything he needed and wanted, but as he mentioned, they all came with a cost. There were public images to keep, backs to watch, and relationships to maintain. He had been trained since he was a kid to deal with all of these but sometimes, everything can get overwhelming.

He longed for people who would really listen.

Seokjin, his brother, was the only person who could understand him. Recent circumstances and years of pressure and stress (being the eldest Kim who will take charge of the family), however, got the best of him.

His hyung used to laugh gaily. Now, Seokjin laughs out of sarcasm.

Taehyung knows his brother still understands but he realized that there’s no point in bothering Seokjin when the latter has his own demons to battle. Since then, he had conditioned his mind to suck it all up. He was, after all, privileged.

 

But Jimin just had to unintentionally break down that wall.

 

“Just lie down and let me make you happy , were Jimin’s first words to him.

Taehyung was still shocked at this man’s beauty that he realized late what Jimin meant when he said “make you happy.” The other guy was already walking around the small space, lighting up the candles and such. He also opened the cabinet and revealed a bottle of lube and condoms. He placed them on the bed side and sat down on the bed in front of Tae.

“How would you like to spend the night?” Jimin asked him, “Do you want me to master you or you to master me?”

The chaebol, confused and tipsy at that time, experienced a rush of emotions. Here was a gorgeous young man, dressed in a robe that is close to nothing, his eyes sparkling, and his lips luscious from afar. Here was Taehyung’s chance to do something out of the ordinary and send a “fuck you” to society and his family.

He stared at Jimin’s eyes.

“I…” he began, “I’m just...tired.”

Obviously, the other man didn’t expect his answer. His come hither look vanished and was replaced with surprise. “Excuse me?”

“I’m tired.”

“What do you mean?”

Everything came crashing down to Taehyung: his family, the marriage proposals, the people after their money — every fucking thing.

“I...I just want out of all this bullshit I’m dealing with,” he confesses, “I’m...tired.”

 

Jimin told Taehyung a few weeks later that understanding emotional customers was out of their job description. So, it makes the mere fact that Jimin, whom Tae had just met, extending his hand and whispering “I’m here to listen. You can tell me anything” more beautiful.

If not more meaningful.

That was the start of everything, after all.

 


 

“Are you even allowed to see your clients outside of business hours?”

 

A small smile spreads on Jimin’s face. “Business hours, huh? I feel like I’m in an office all of a sudden.”

“You know what I mean,” Taehyung says, playfully shoving his companion.

“Why do you ask?”

“I was wondering if I could see you anywhere but here,” answers the rich young man, “Like a coffee shop or a nice restaurant. Not that I’m asking you out or anything!” he immediately retaliates, “I mean...like...if you just want to hang out.”

Jimin’s smile becomes wry. “Well, don’t you think it’s awkward?”

“How can it be awkward? You know me and I know you.”

“Our set-up isn’t exactly ideal, Kim Taetae,” replies his paid companion, “You’re paying me. I’m a prostitu—”

“A companion,” cuts the chaebol.

“A paid companion,” amends Jimin, “One that’s supposed to be giving you sexual favors for money—”

“Which I have insisted that I’m OK living without.”

“...but still you’re my client,” says Jimin, “There should be boundaries.”

“Does that mean we can’t even hang out like regular friends?” pouts Taehyung.

His companion smiles fondly at him.

 

Before he can answer, a bell rings, signalling the end of their time together.

 


 

It’s odd to spot Jimin out in broad daylight and in a lonely bookstore located at the heart of the city. It’s even odder to see him fully clothed in a turtleneck topped with a thick coat, his face covered with a mask and a beanie.

 

How Taehyung recognized him, he doesn’t know either. He just did.

He was just browsing through the arts section looking for a book on Van Gogh when he looked up and saw a small figure a few meters away from him. From where he stood, he recognized those eyes. He knew it was Jimin.

The excited chaebol quietly walks to where Jimin stands, racking his brains for the perfect way to make his presence known. Should he hide behind the books? Should he jump out from behind?

He decides to silently stand behind him and peek over Jimin’s shoulder.

“The true art is right behind you,” he whispers.

A startled Jimin jumps in surprise and nearly drops the book. Taehyung has to keep his hands on both of Jimin’s arms to steady him.

“Oh my god, Tae!” he exclaims, “You scared me! You could have just tapped my shoulder or something.”

Taehyung grins mischievously. “Where’s the fun in that?” he asks, releasing his favorite companion.

Jimin lowers down his mask a bit. “What are you doing here?”

“Looking for more art books,” replies the chaebol, “What are you doing here?” He peeks at the book Jimin’s holding. “I see you’re interested in a book about urban jazz.”

The shorter guy blushes as he shifts the books under his armpits. “Er...yeah.”

“Is that for uni or something?”

Jimin smiles wryly at him. “I stopped, remember?”

“Oh yeah. Sorry,” says Taehyung, “So...hobby?”

“I think this is hardly a place for conversation,” Jimin comments as he looks around.

“So can we finally hang out then? I mean, this bookstore has a coffee place upstairs. I haven’t been there and I was just about to try it.” Taehyung grins his famous boxy smile at Jimin.

His favorite companion seems uncertain. He’s staring at the ground then his eyes move to the shelf behind Taehyung. “I...don’t know, Taehyung,” he replies, “I...I mean, you’re my client—”

“I’m not paying you right now. We’re not at your workplace,” argues the chaebol, “C’mon, Jimin. Please? Just this once? You can wear your mask if it makes you feel comfortable.”

Tae crosses his fingers, silently wishing he would say yes.

His heart leaps when Jimin nods.

 

***

Jimin dances. Apparently, it’s his first love.

 

Prior to letting go of university, Jimin used to be part of a dance group at school. He’s good at dancing different genres, but contemporary is close to his heart.

 

Taehyung learned this during the first ten minutes of their coffee “fellowship” ( “Isn’t that something you say at church?” Jimin asked him. “You and I are fellows that will sink on a ship together,” was Taehyung’s nonsense answer). He also learned that Jimin used to compete in dance-offs when he was living in Busan.

“I used to kick ass on the dance floor,” Jimin continues, taking small sips of his dark coffee, “My younger brother said I could have trained as an idol and would have debuted in months. But he pointed out that I needed to work on my singing.”

“You wanted to be an idol?”

“When I was in high school, yeah.”

“Why didn’t you go through it?”

“Well, I wanted to go to college,” answers Jimin, “Then my mom got sick so yeah, priorities.” He sips his coffee again, clueless to the look of sympathy on Tae’s face.

“Is that why you quit uni? Your mom?”

“Yes.”

“How come you never told me about this?”

Jimin smiles at him. “Why do you sound so concerned?”

“It’s just that...I tell you everything about my life,” explains Taehyung, “I’m a good listener, too. I could...ease the burden or something.”

“It’s OK, Taehyung. I’m not burdened,” says his companion, “It’s part of life, honey.”

“But you do talk to someone about this?”

“I get by. Don’t worry.”

Taehyung watches Jimin as he drinks his cup of coffee, looking so unbothered and calm. Meanwhile, the chaebol reflects at his situation. Tae thinks his life is pretty shitty, but now he realizes that there are other people who would rather trade places with him.

He’s sure that Jimin would be one of them.

 

“Taehyung, I have to go,” Jimin says, glancing at his watch.

“Right now? But we’ve only been here for less than an hour.”

His friend gets his bag. “I have a 4 o’ clock appointment.”

“With a doctor?”

A fond look appears on Jimin’s face. “No honey. I have to work.”

“Oh. Right,” says Tae, “But that’s an hour away.”

“I have to get back and prepare the room. Plus, this client likes it when I have fake tattoos so I have to do that as well.” He slings his bag on his shoulder. “I’ll see you soon, right?”

“Sooner, I hope,” replies the chaebol, “I’m pretty swamped this week.”

“I’ll see you when I see you then,” says Jimin, “Bye, Tae.”

 

Taehyung bids his companion goodbye.

He feels a slight pang in his chest as he does.

 


 

The occupants of Room 203 are silent as they listen to the couple in Room 204 who are loudly fucking.

 

“She’s faking it,” Jimin says.

“No way. She sounds super wrecked.”

“Exactly.”

Taehyung presses his ear against the wall while Jimin gazes at him in amusement. He’s trying to analyze the woman’s moans.

“Honey, believe me when I say she’s faking it,” insists Jimin as he crosses his legs, his robe falling neatly just below his shoulder, “That lady is a big faker. I don’t know why she’s even here.”

“How would you know? Have you fucked her?”

“She wouldn’t be faking it if it were me.”

Taehyung smirks at him. “Aren’t you cocky?”

Jimin smiles serenely. “I just know sex really well, that’s all.”

 

The chaebol’s cheeks are warm all of a sudden. Unfortunately for him, his companion notices.

"Did I fluster you, honey?" he asks. "Or does the mention of sex by a prostitute in a brothel make you uncomfortable?"

"What? No."

"Your virgin antics are cute, Kim Taetae."

"You think I'm a virgin?"

Jimin cocks his head to the side. "Well, you act like one. You won't even let me touch you."

The chaebol puts down the pillow he has been hugging. "Sex is just a big deal for me," he begins, "Call me idealistic or cliche, but I think it's a form of intimacy you give to someone you really love."

“Is that why you haven’t touched me? Because you’re saving it for someone special?”  

"Something like that."

"Oh."

There is a sudden change in Jimin's tone.

"I used to be like that when I was younger," he says, "I attended one of those True Love Waits seminars and I was really inspired to stay a virgin until I got married." He then sighs. "But you know, life doesn't always go the way you want it. I had to give up my virginity because I needed the money."

His matter-of-fact tone sort of bothers Taehyung, but he guesses this is how Jimin has lived his life. Based on the snapshots of stories he gets, Tae has concluded that his companion is no stranger to life’s unpleasant plot twists.

“I didn’t willingly give up mine,” says Taehyung, “But I didn’t think of it like that before. I thought I gave it with consent.”

“What?”

Taehyung rests his back against the wall. “You know how you take every opportunity you can get just to be close with someone you like?” he asks, “I was like that in high school. I met a guy who I really liked and I was hoping he’d like me back. He was wasted during a party one night and a friend suggested I take him back to his apartment.”

“So I did.”

Telling the story used to hurt. But now, not so much. There is, however, a sting.

“He woke up in the middle of me trying to carry him. He was a little high back then too,” Taehyung remembers as he rubs his arms, “One thing led to another and before I knew it, I had no clothes.”

“I used to think sex was the best way to get what you want. But when you get treated like a dishrag, it makes you think if it was worth it, after all.”

“It hurt, but the physical hurt was nothing compared to the realization I had two weeks later.”

He realizes it has been ten years ever since.

He looks up at Jimin and smiles. “I guess you and I have different de-virginizing stories, huh? I dunno if I can call yours tragic, but I’d like to call mine one,” he says, “But it was a learning curve, albeit it hurt. From then on, I decided that I’ll only fuck the one I really love. And they have to love me back.”

Jimin doesn’t speak for a moment. That look on his face is unreadable: is he confused? Does he not agree with Tae’s statement of their different devirginizing stories? Does he think Taehyung is an idiot for having sex with someone when they were drunk?

“Kim Taetae?”

“Yeah?”

His companion slowly approaches him on the bed. “Can I ask something?”

“Of course.”

Jimin bites his lip before he speaks. “Can I hug you?”

“Huh?”

“I just…” he looks down at his lap. “I want to.”

“After hearing my story?”

“Yes. But I don’t want to hug you without your consent,” he says, “I know you’re paying me but...I don’t want to do anything that makes you uncomfortable.”

 

It’s ironic that a prostitute is asking his client if he can hug him, despite the fact that all of his services are paid. But that is the beauty of Taehyung and Jimin’s unique relationship. And it makes Tae appreciate their set-up even more.

 

Taehyung smiles. “Sure.”

His favorite companion slowly crawls to him and sits up in front of him. His robes make a sound when he opens his arms, inviting Tae to come in. Taehyung accepts the offer gratefully, resting his head on Jimin’s shoulder and allowing the latter to envelope him in a warm hug.

“You shouldn’t have been subjected to that. I’m sorry,” he says, rubbing Tae’s nape.

“Same to you.”

“We don’t deserve this, do we, honey?”

“No. But we’re here.”

Jimin lets him go for a second and smiles. “At least we have each other.”

 


 

“So, what’s the name of the prostitute you keep visiting?”

“Hyung, oh my god. Shut up.”

 

Kim Seokjin smirks as he sips from his glass of whiskey. “What’s wrong with being curious, little brother?” he asks, “If you didn’t want me to see you, you should have gone on a different day.”

“How was I supposed to know you were going to drop by?”

“It was a tiring day, Tae. I needed some loving and comfort. And it’s not like I could chat you up and say Hey Tae, I’mma drop by the brothel. Wanna come?” You practically beat me, though. You were already there.” Seokjin smiles slyly at his brother. “Should I not have taken you there on your birthday?”

Taehyung doesn’t answer; instead, he just drinks his wine.

“One of the girls there said you only ever go to one guy. The pretty one?”

“Jimin.”

“Yeah, Jimin. I haven’t tried him but just seeing him makes me think you picked a good one.”

Tae winces as he drinks. He doesn’t like talking about Jimin that way, like he’s an object or something. Had it been another person, he would have punched them. But this is Seokjin, his brother, who is not in the best condition. He has no choice but to let it slide.

“I’m not going to get him next time, if it makes you feel uncomfortable,” Seokjin says when he noticed him wince, “I know you can get very protective.”

Taehyung doesn’t respond. He just smiles and downs his wine.

 

Seokjin and Taehyung carry on with their conversation, nonetheless. The younger Kim managed to successfully divert the conversation away from the brothel to today’s useless family luncheon ( “I swear it’s like we’re not his kids” ). Tae is listening to his brother rant about the idiots they had to dine with this noon when he sees a familiar figure in the crowd.

 

Even in a dimly lit bar, Taehyung can spot Park Jimin from a distance.

He sees his favorite companion weaving his way through the crowd, probably off to dance or drink. Tae is amused at how he sees Jimin at such times. He wants to go and say Hi but his hyung is still babbling. Plus, going off somewhere might stir Seokjin’s interest.

He stands up slightly on his stool while his brother talks about their childhood so that he can see Jimin. His taller stance enables him to see Jimin better.

It turns out that Jimin isn’t weaving through the crowd for some fun. He looks like he’s running away from something. Or someone.

Taehyung sees a taller man following Jimin, his drunken face wearing a manic expression.

 

Immediately, the chaebol is off his stool.

“Taehyung, what the —?”

 

Tae’s eyes adjust under the dim lights as he looks for Jimin among the crowd. He walks rapidly, hoping that the heavy feeling in his stomach isn’t true. He pushes past the partygoers, ignores the people who call him by name. He follows Jimin’s shadow to the back entrance.

Finally, he sees what’s going on.

 

“Let me go.”

“I paid you good last night. You fucking owe me.”

Jimin’s small figure is overshadowed by a tall and burly stranger who holds him by the wrist.

“I did my part. We’re not in the brothel now. You can’t have my services.”

“Why? Are you on a day off? Is there such a thing for whores like you?”

Taehyung’s hand clenches into a fist.

“Please, not now,” says Jimin in a small tone, “There is always tomorrow.”

“I don’t want tomorrow. I want to fuck you now.”

“No wait —!”

 

Taehyung’s heart drops at the sight of a stranger forcing Jimin to face the wall, aggressively ripping out his clothes and pulling down his pants. All the while, Jimin struggles to free himself, screaming at the top of his lungs. The man covers his mouth.

 

Fueled by rage, Tae screams in fury as he throws himself on Jimin’s attacker.

 

“HE FUCKING SAID NO!”

 

His hand flies to the man’s face thrice before the attacker pushes him off.

“Who the fuck are you?” he demands, shoving Taehyung and causing him to bump into the dumpster. The chaebol winces in pain but forgets immediately. He stands up and runs to the man, throwing punches in the air.

The man grabs his hand and bends it, causing Taehyung to scream in pain. But Tae one-ups him by kicking the back of his leg, causing him to fall.

Tae then runs to where Jimin is backed up against the wall, frozen in fear.

“Jimin,” he calls out, “It’s me. Jimin.”

He touches the other’s face with his good hand.

“Jimin, c’mon let’s go.”

He tugs at his companion’s hand but the latter is too shocked. The light comes back to his eyes when they round up in fear and he screams, “Tae, watch out!”

It’s too late.

Taehyung feels a sharp pain on his head as Jimin’s attacker comes back to his senses and beats him up senseless. Jimin attempts to help but the man pushes him away. Tae attempts to escape his headlock; he should or else, he would be beaten to a pulp.

“Fucking pretty boy can’t even punch,” comments the attacker, “Let me fucking show you how it’s done.”

The lights are about to go out of Tae’s eyes when he hears the door slam.

 

“You fucking let go of my brother.”

 

Through his blurred eyesight, Taehyung spots his hyung standing by the door, looking sober, in command, and very angry.

The man throws him away and faces Seokjin.

“Why? Who the fuck are you?”

Seokjin stands there with his hands behind his back. “Kim Seokjin, son of Kim Minseok, the man who owns Kim Enterprises, one of the South Korea’s biggest business conglomerates.” He then laughs. “Shit, let me summarize it for you: I’m fucking rich and I have the authority to have you kicked in the ass or burnt to stake. If  you’re not going to let go of my little brother, my bouncer friends here will make sure you never see the light of day.”

Before anyone knows it, the man is running away, leaving Taehyung bruised and bleeding.

 

The next set of events are nothing but a blur to him.

 

Jimin cries his name out and goes to him. He puts his head on his lap.

Seokjin rushes to their aid and starts calling for an ambulance.

People are coming out of the back entrance and whispering to themselves.

 

Eventually, Taehyung blacks out.

 


 

Taehyung half-expected to see Jimin by his side when he woke up at the hospital.

 

When he opened his eyes, however, the people around him were his family.

His mother was beside him, crying her eyes out and thanking the heavens that he is alive. His father, despite his condition, comments about random bar fights and irresponsibility should not run in the family. Once Tae’s mind started properly, he wondered why his father thought it was random.

“I couldn’t tell him that you picked a fight with a dude over a prostitute, could I?” Seokjin whispered to him a few hours later when they were finally alone.

“What did you tell him then?”

“I said you were drunk. I couldn’t paint you in the best light but it’s better than the prostitute angle.”

Tae adjusted himself on his bed. “Where is Jimin? How is he?”

“I sent him home after we brought you here,” Seokjin said, “He was OK but ballistic with worry.” He raised an eyebrow at his brother. “Is there anything I should know?”

“Huh?”

“He seemed too caring.”

“Jimin is caring.”

“For a prostitute?”

Taehyung tried his best to control his face. “Please stop calling him that.”

“Are you friends then?”

“Yes.”

 

It was fortunate that Taehyung was injured. He had good reason to feign a headache so that the questions would stop. His hyung helped him settle down on the bed and stopped questioning, albeit he was still curious.

Once Tae closed his eyes, he decided that he’ll find Jimin as soon as he’s better.

 

Which brings us to tonight.

 

Taehyung stands outside of Room 203 and knocks. He waits for a second before the door opens and there stands Jimin, dressed in his trademark robe. His eyes widen at the sight of him.

“Taetae?”

The chaebol smiles sheepishly. “Why do you look like you’ve seen a ghost?”

Jimin is at a loss for words. He stammers a shaky “Come inside” before pulling Taehyung into the room. Once the door is closed, he throws himself on the chaebol.

“Ow, ow!” whines Taehyung, “My jaw!”

“Shit, I’m so sorry!” exclaims Jimin, “I just...oh my god, Tae.” He lets him go and place both his hands on the chaebol’s jaw. “I’m sorry. Does it hurt?”

“You hit me. Of course it hurts."

"I'm sorry!" exclaims Jimin again, "I'm so sorry. It's my fault."

Taehyung shakes his head. "You were probably too surprised to see me. No worries."

"You getting hurt last night is on me," Jimin says, "I'm sorry."

The chaebol rubs his jaw as he sits on the edge of the worn-out bed. "It's that dickhead's fault," insists Taehyung, "Don't be too hard on yourself. You were just protecting yourself."

"But I shouldn't have involved you."

"I involved myself, if I remember correctly."

"I should have stopped you."

Jimin's face is filled with regret and sadness. His lips are in a pout and his naturally sad eyes are sadder. He's rubbing his arms. Taehyung takes it that he can't forgive himself.

He reaches out and holds Jimin's hand.

"Hey, I'm okay," he affirms, "Plus, I'm happy I did what I did. That motherfucker called you a whore and he had it coming."

"He was right, though. By profession, I am."

Taehyung smiles at him. "Not to me."

There is a shift in Jimin's expression. His eyes light up and his lips part in surprise. He looks at Taehyung intently as always, but there is something different. He moves towards the chaebol.

"Taehyung, can I do something?"

The chaebol looks up at his favorite companion. "As long as you don't beat me up," he jokes, hoping to get a smile from the serious-looking Jimin.

His face remains serious.

Jimin bends down a little so that they are face to face. He stares at Taehyung for a while, like he's studying the chaebol's face. Tae's about to crack another joke when he sees Jimin lick his lips.

He moves forward and closes the gap between them with a kiss.

 

Taehyung's reflexes tell him to push Jimin away. His hands, however, are frozen by his sides. His eyes are wide as marbles as he stares at his companion who is too busy kissing him.

 

The kiss is soft at first. Tae feels Jimin's soft lips gently enveloping his. Eventually, Jimin is leaning forward, exerting more pressure to their kiss. His companion’s lips fully engulf his repeatedly. They are so connected that Taehyung can taste him. Underneath the cigarette taste lies a sweetness Taehyung never knew that existed in this universe.

Jimin is slowly lying him down on the bed but keeps their lips connected. It has reached a point where his tongue begs access to Tae’s mouth — something he surprisingly allows.

 

He is silently going crazy. Surely, this type of pleasure can’t exist in real life, right?

 

Taehyung eventually loses himself to Jimin’s kiss. His hands wander to Jimin’s hair, his fingers weaving through his locks.

He feels Jimin’s hands moving down his body. He hears the unbuckling of his belt.

 

He stops.

 

Taehyung’s eyes open and he sees Jimin looking down at him with concern.

“What’s wrong?” he asks.

The chaebol gazes at his favorite companion while he tries to subdue that feeling of uncertainty. Slowly, he straightens up and moves away.

“I...I don’t think we should do this,” he says.

“But I want to,” Jimin insists, “It’s my way of saying thank you.”

“No, you can thank me in some other way,” says Tae, “I...I just…”

Jimin sits up in front of him and studies his face. “Oh...did I...step on a boundary?” he asks. He then remembers. “Oh...Taetae, I’m sorry.”

His favorite companion’s eyes fall to the sheets they sit on.

“No, it’s not that way,” says Taehyung, “You’re not like that.” He puts his hand on Jimin’s shoulders. “It’s not like that...I just….” he trails off.

“You want to do it with someone you love. I remember.”

Jimin smiles sadly at him. “I’m sorry for making you uncomfortable, Tae. I just...want to make it up to you,” he says.

“You can,” says the chaebol, “Tell me your stories.”

 

And Jimin does. He tells Taehyung stories while the latter’s head rests on his lap. He tells stories until the bell rings, signalling the end of their time together.

 


 

Taehyung realizes he hates when he has to wait for his turn.

 

Sitting in the lobby of the brothel is one of the worst things, in his opinion. He’s a naturally impatient person, after all. Born on a silver spoon, Tae is used to having everything he wants immediately.

His hate for waiting here, however, has nothing to do with that.

“Mr. Kim, you’re next.”

 

Taehyung gets up from the sofa and tries his best not to run. He walks down the long corridor and is about to knock on 203 when a man opens the door and comes out.

He looks to be 40 or older. He wears a satisfied smile on his face as he adjusts his tie and coat. He looks up and sees Taehyung.

“Boy, you’re in for a treat. Sorry had to wear him out for you,” he remarks before guffawing and leaving Tae in front of the door.  

The chaebol’s hand curls into a fist but he keeps himself from retorting. Instead, he takes a deep breath and quietly steps in Room 203.

 

Jimin’s bare back is facing him. His favorite companion holds a cigarette in one hand as he stares outside of his window. At the sound of the door, he turns around.

“You’re early,” he says, a pleasant smile on his face.

Taehyung has never seen Jimin in this state, post-coital. It’s a bit odd to see him with disheveled hair, a bare chest, and in his boxers. Apparently, he has a tattoo resting on his rib cage.

“You...have a tattoo.”

Jimin chuckles. “I told you about it before.”

“Really?” asks Taehyung, closing the door behind him, “It’s nice. Why is it NEVERMIND?”

Jimin puts his cigarette to his lips. “A friend of mine once said that minding everything is a mind fuck,” he explains, “Might as well not mind when you have to.”

Taehyung takes a step closer and stares at the tattoo. “I like the script.”

“Thanks. Ready to lie down?”

The chaebol misses Jimin’s question. His eyes are drawn to his favorite companion’s arms where he spots a few bruises — most of them look fresh. His hands ball into fists again.

“Did he hurt you?”

Jimin sees where he’s staring. “This?” he raises his arm, “No. He just had much fun with me.” He puts his cigarette out on his ashtray.

“Why the bruise?”

“He likes roleplay, particularly master and servant,” answers Jimin, pointing out the maid outfit he must’ve worn. “He’s nothing but a mouse to his dominant wife so this is the only place he gets to have power.”

The idea doesn’t sit well with Taehyung. He cringes at the thought of that burly man putting his hands on Jimin, forcing him to be submissive, and probably calling him names. He doesn’t like the image of Jimin decked out in a maid’s costume, giving blowjobs to a wannabe dominant.

“You look mad.”

“Huh?”

Jimin giggles as he sits on the still-messed up bed. “Honey, you’re never really good at hiding your emotions,” he remarks, “Why are you mad?”

Taehyung sits on the opposite side. “I...don’t like that he hurt you.”

“He didn’t.”

“The bruises on your arm say otherwise.”

Jimin covers them with his hand. “It’s part of the job, Kim Taetae,” he assures him. “Don’t worry. I’m fine.” He opens his arms. “C’mon honey. Let me make you happy, Your Way.”

 

***

Taehyung’s dislike for waiting intensifies in his next visits

 

Problems in the family and the business has driven Taehyung to the brothel earlier. As a result, he has to wait for his turn. When he waits for his turn, it means he has to see people Jimin’s clients, aka the sleazy bastards who pay for sex.

He hates seeing how giddy with happiness they are. He hates the comments they say. He hates how they talk about Jimin.

He just hates it.

 

Sometimes, he pretends that he’s okay. And he actually is when he’s talking with Jimin, ranting to his problems with Jimin, having Jimin caress his hair, and just immersing in Jimin’s presence. He forgets the people he fucked.

But when it’s time to leave and there’s someone outside, giddy with excitement, his stomach churns unpleasantly.

 

“You’re doing it again,” Jimin points out.

“Huh?”

 

His favorite companion touches his lips and turns the edge of his mouth up. “You look better when you smile, Kim Taetae.”

“Sorry.”

“Still upset at your dad?”

“I’m always upset with him.”

“Thinking about your brother then?”

“Always do that too.”

“Then what’s bothering you?”

Taehyung heaves a sigh as he lies there on Jimin’s lap. “Those people you sleep with…” he begins, “Do you like any of them?”

“They’re not all bad people, Tae. Some of them are just really lonely,” answers Jimin, “Most of them are tired of life, like you.”

“But do you have a favorite fuck? Are they all good?”

Jimin laughs. “Why do you think I’m good at faking?”

“Okay, so not all,” concludes Taehyung, “But do you have a favorite customer?”

His companion smiles fondly. “Yeah.”

Taehyung feels that small pit of doom in the bottom of his stomach. He’s unfortunate since he cannot hide his emotions well. He tries his best to hide his pout. “Who?”

Jimin’s small fingers caress his face as his hands squish his cheeks.

“You.”

“But we don’t have sex,” says Taehyung, hiding his blushing cheeks by shaking Jimin’s hands off.

“Exactly,” replies Jimin, “I know that you like me with my clothes on.”

 

Jimin talks on, clueless to the fact that Taehyung is just staring at him. His favorite customer is too hung up on the first part of his statement.

“I know that you like me.”

 


 

Taehyung staggers to Room 203, covered in sweat and dried-up blood.

The receptionist thought that Taehyung was a victim of mugging who thought the brothel was a hospital. He used his remaining strength to lie and tell her that it was a kink, that he liked sex looking like a beat-up scoundrel. He didn’t think the truth (his father having him beat up by his men for being disobedient ) would sit well with her.

But he could tell Jimin.

 

He winces as he touches his bruised rib. He knocks again and hopes Jimin isn’t busy.

 

When the door opens, he heaves a sigh of relief.

 

“TAEHYUNG!”

 

The sight of him causes Jimin’s eyes to widen and his jaw to drop. It makes the chaebol wonder how awful he looked (he tried to amend it a bit before he came here. Apparently, the band-aid didn’t work).

“Oh my god, what happened?” asks his companion, pulling him inside, “Shit, you’re face. You’re bleeding.”

“He had me beat up.”

“Who?”

“My dad.”

Jimin’s face contorts into rage. “He’s a motherfucker. I fucking hate him. Why would he do this to you?”

“Jimin, I…” begins Tae, “Let’s not talk about it now. Please I just...I want...make me happy.”

“But Tae, you still have a cut.”

“No, I’m fine. I just need...your presence.”

His favorite companion stares at him with worry and uncertainty. Jimin glances at his watch then at Taehyung.

“Did you pay already?” he asks.

“No. I went straight here.”

Jimin bites his lip. Without another word, he removes his robe and hastily puts on a t-shirt and jacket. He closes all the windows and blows out the candle situated by the bedside.

“What are you doing?” Tae asks.

“I’m not going to comfort you here,” replies his companion, “You’re coming home with me.”

“But Jimin—”

The shorter guy’s eyes flash dangerously at him. “Taehyung, you follow me,” he says in a deep voice. He holds the younger man’s hand. “You listen to me now, please.”

 

***

Jimin’s apartment is the stuff of prostitute cliche you read in books: it’s an old unit in a run-down building located in the corner of Seoul’s poorer and darker areas.

 

Despite the darkness that surrounds it all, his apartment is decked in personal paraphernalia that scream Park Jimin : the poster of a cat, second-hand action figures lining the table, and inspirational quote stuck on the wooden wall.

 

Taehyung observes all of this as he sits on a beanbag near Jimin’s table. In his hands, he holds a cup of warm tea. Beside him is Jimin himself who is busy tending to his wounds. The chaebol tries hard not to flinch as Jimin applies antiseptic on a particularly nasty cut on his jaw.

“I have never heard of a father as monstrous as yours,” he comments, “Just because you refused another marriage contract, he had you beat up? He’s a fucker.”

“Can’t blame him. He doesn’t think I’m his kid, anyway.”

Jimin stops dabbing. “What?”

“Stories of cheating wives is a thing in the world of the rich and famous too, Jimin,” Taehyung tells him sullenly.

“Oh my god. Is that why...he doesn’t like you?”

“I guess.”

“How about your hyung?”

“Hyung is the eldest so he has that to his advantage. Every rich man needs an heir,” answers the chaebol, “That’s why he only breaks hyung emotionally.”

“Surely, he can’t kill you?”

Tae scoffs. “Inflicting pain is enough.”

“I’m so sorry.”

Silence ensues between the two young men as Jimin continues to tend to Tae’s wounds while the latter tries not to think about tomorrow. He’s not sure where he’s going. He doesn’t want to go home, but he can’t leave his mother and brother there. Seokjin might be capable of defending himself, but he’s still not okay.

Taehyung wants to return, but now is not the time.

 

He sips his cup of tea.

 

“I’m sorry I couldn’t give you anything better,” Jimin says once he puts down the cotton balls, “I’d have coffee but I forgot to buy.”

“No, this is good,” he replies, “Plus, I don’t drink coffee."

Jimin patches him up with a final layer of gauze. "There," he says, "Do you feel better?"

"A bit. Thank you."

His favorite companion stands up to get a fuzzy blanket, which he uses to wrap Taehyung with. He helps the injured chaebol to stand up and guides him towards Jimin’s small bed. It’s so short that Tae bets his foot will go beyond the bed.

“You can sleep here,” Jimin tells him as he helps him sit down, “It’s short, I know. But I’d rather you sleep here than on my sofa. Your back will hurt.”

He helps Taehyung lie down on the rickety bed. While he assists the chaebol, Tae can’t help but stare at him and notice the little details: his determined look, his soft voice reminding him that everything will be okay.

“I know that not everything will be okay,” Taehyung tells him, “I’m a pessimist like that. But you make it sound like they will be. So thank you.”

Jimin smiles at him. “For someone with the brightest smile in the world, it’s difficult to believe you’re a pessimist.”

“It’s easy to conceal pain behind a smile, Jimin. Trust me, I’m an actor.”

The smile on Jimin’s smile falls from his face. Immediately, there is pity in his eyes. His hands weave through Tae’s messy locks.

“You don’t deserve it, Taehyung. None of us do.”

“But isn’t life a little boring without the pain?”

“One person can only take so much, though.”

Taehyung looks up at Jimin. “That’s OK. My pain brought me to you.”

"I wish I can make you happy, though," replies Jimin, "I'm sorry if I'm not good enough to do so."

 

How can he think that he is not enough? It has only been months since they first met but Jimin has already made him feel more human compared to the people close to him. He gave Taehyung the shoulder he needed to lean on during trying times. He has been more than enough.

 

Taehyung is suddenly overwhelmed when he realizes a fact.

 

He looks up at the worried Jimin and appreciates the details: his sad eyes, the hair that falls to his eyes, his lips, the jaw that cuts, his fingers. Looking at him gives him a different kind of warmth.

A type of comfort that assures him he is safe.

 

The chaebol touches Jimin's hand. "Jimin?"

"Yeah?"

"Can I ask for something?"

"Of course."

Taehyung bites his lips.

"Make me happy."

Jimin smiles sadly at him."Do you want another story?"

"No," says Taehyung. He pulls himself up so that he's sitting, their faces mere inches away. He touches Jimin's cheek. "I want you."

Jimin's eyes widen when he realizes what he wants. "Taetae, are you sure?" he asks, "I don't want to make you uncomfortable."

Taehyung's hands slide down to Jimin's chest. His fingers start to fiddle with the buttons of his shirt. His eyes meet his companion's again. His finger traces the line of his jaw.

"I trust you."

"But you wanted to save this moment for the person you love."

He stares at Jimin intently. He has thought about it for a long time and now, he realizes the truth.

Taehyung reaches out for Jimin’s face with both of his hands. His thumb caresses his beloved companion’s lips as he stares intently at them, appreciating how plump they are. They have kissed before but Tae stopped it from progressing out of fear and uncertainty.

Now, he knows how he really feels.

 

He closes his eyes as he closes the gap between them with a kiss.

 

Jimin’s sharp intake of breath indicates his surprise. The way his lips latched on to Taehyung’s, however, tells the latter that he has been waiting for this.

His hands hold on to the collar of Tae’s shirt before he starts unbuttoning the latter’s shirt. His kiss is hard, forceful, and desperate but Taehyung doesn’t mind. He feels the same; in fact, he realizes only now that he has been wanting this for a long time.

Jimin crawls closer and sits on his lap so that they are chest to chest. He unbuttons Taehyung’s shirt and slowly removes, exposing his bruised skin.

“I’m going to take care of you,” he whispers in the chaebol’s ear, planting a kiss on the bruise.

Taehyung responds by pulling Jimin by the neck and kissing his collarbone.

 

“Thank you.”

 


 

Taehyung wishes he can forever rewind the morning.

 

It was just him and Jimin, naked on the latter’s bed and tangled with each other. Jimin’s head rested on his chest, his hair smelling like cheap soap. Taehyung kissed him on the forehead and he replied with a kiss on his chest.

They ate toast and bananas. Jimin went down to buy hot chocolate for him. Taehyung stole a lot of kisses.

It was a quiet morning.

It would have stayed that way had Seokjin not called and Jimin had to report back to the brothel (Taehyung felt a pang when this reality set in him).

 

Taehyung wishes that he didn’t leave. Not when Seokjin is telling him these things:

 

“...you can’t come home, Tae. He knows. He was right all along.”

 

The younger chaebol’s hands grow cold at the news. Opposite him, his hyung’s carefree and fuck-this-world persona is nowhere to be found. For the first time in a couple of years, the real Kim Seokjin makes a re-appearance.

“He knows that he’s not your father. He had the papers. He knows and he is very angry.”

“What about you?”

“He was wrong about me all along.” Seokjin clenches his fist. “He was fucking wrong and he did all that to make me miserable.”

The silver ring glimmers menacingly on his hyung’s ring finger, reminding them of what he had to lose due to their father’s rage.

“But...are we...still…?”

Seokjin smiles at him. “Yes, Tae. You’re my brother.”

The shocked young man looks at the untouched cup of cocoa in front of him. “So...I can’t come home.”

“I wouldn’t recommend it. If you think he was bad when he beat you up, he’s worse,” replies his brother, “Go. Find somewhere you can stay but don’t make many associations.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know Dad: he breaks us using the people we love.”

“Well, he can’t break my friends. They’re part of the rich inner circle.”

Seokjin’s eyes then darken as a thought appears in his head.

“Taehyung, be careful. You know what he’s capable of . He knows everything.” He glances at the ring on his finger. “You know he can hurt others. You know he can find him.”

The younger Kim is about to ask who him is when his heart stops at a thought.

 

Jimin.

 

Seokjin touches his shoulder. “Run for now. Run as far as you can,” he says, “I’ll be watching over you. But you have to run.” Pain is evident on his handsome face. “And spare them while you can.”

 


 

“Sir, you can’t go in!”

 

Taehyung ignores the receptionist and runs down the long hallway, his eyes scanning for Room 203. His heart pounds wildly against his chest.

Please. Let him come with me.

He stops in front of Jimin’s room and pounds wildly at the door. When nobody answers, he opens it.

 

As soon as he steps in, he knows he’s right.

 

Jimin is pushed against the wall by two strangers dressed in black. One of them has his hand around Jimin’s neck while the other appears to have been in a mid-chat. The flicker of recognition in their eyes once they see the chaebol is enough proof Taehyung needs.

At the sight of him, Jimin recognizes his fears.

“You let him go,” Taehyung tells his father’s men.

 

They do not move or make a sound. Tae is about to strike the first punch when Jimin surprises them all. His favorite companion punches his attacker’s jaw and kicks the other one in the nuts before he jumps over the bed.

The perpetrators try to catch up but Jimin has already slammed the door behind them and is running with Taehyung down the long hallway. The chaebol pushes a table for good measure before they sprint towards a fire exit.

 

“What the hell is happening?” Jimin asks him as they run around the spiral steps.

“I...it’s my father.”

“What about him?”

The sound of clanging metal disrupts their conversation. They look up and see the two men running after them.

“Fucking shit,” comments Jimin, “You’ll have to trust me when I run whenever or jump wherever.”

His hold on Taehyung’s hand tightens.

Jimin makes a quick detour to one of the emergency exits and pulls on the struggling chaebol, convincing him to run faster.

“Where are we going?”

They confuse their pursuers by making a left and losing themselves in a hallway filled with rooms and people. Jimin and Taehyung weave through the crowd without letting go of each other’s hands.

Finally, they reach an exit that leads to the busy city.

 

It feels like hours before they stop running. They end up in one of the alleyways, behind a noisy bar.

Jimin leans on the wall for support while Taehyung's knees give up, causing him to fall to the ground. Both of them try to catch their breath.

 

"Kim Taetae," Jimin begins once his lungs are filled with air, "Why...did your father send...men to threaten me?"

"Did they hurt you?"

"They were just about to when...you came in."

Taehyung steadies himself on a broken railing. "I...am so sorry," he says, "My father...he found out that I'm not...his son. So…" he puts a hand on his chest, "He...is furious. I can't...go home."

Jimin gasps. "Oh my god," he says, "Tae, I'm so sorry."

"No. I'm sorry," Taehyung insists. "Because of me...he found out about you...and...went after you."

"Why?"

Tae catches his breath and looks at Jimin under the dim alleyway lights. His favorite companion is sweating, sports a bruise, and is taking long and deep breaths.

His realization becomes his conviction.

"He must have figured out...that I love you."

 

Jimin's lips part in surprise. His eyes are round and wide, his face reflecting the shock.

"Jimin, I...am really sorry," continues Taehyung, "You’re not supposed to be a part of this mess. Don’t worry. I’ll...I’ll figure something out.” He rubs his sore rib. “You can...go. Just...go away.”

“What do you mean go away?”

“Leave me. Go somewhere far away from Seoul. I know that’s not an option for you but...believe me you have to,” Tae says urgently, “Go. Now.”

 

The idea that he’ll never see his favorite companion again stings Taehyung, but it’s the right thing. He brought this upon them because he was not careful. But he’d rather not see Jimin than have his father do Lord knows what.

He’ll face his father on his own.

 

“Taehyung.”

 

A hand touches the troubled chaebol’s shoulder.

 

“This isn’t an option for me.”

“I know. I’m sorry. That’s why you have to leave—”

“No. That isn’t the option for me,” he repeats, “I’m not leaving you.”

Taehyung’s eyes widen. “What? But Jimin, you have to—”

“Run away with me.”

 

The chaebol stops. His silence gives Jimin a chance to talk.

“Run away with me, Taetae,” he says, putting both his hands on Taehyung’s face, “We’re both on the run. We might as well do it together.”

“But...I might hurt you.”

“No, you won’t. Your dad will but fuck him,” says Jimin, “Fuck everyone who has been fucking us. I’m done with getting fucked and I’m done with seeing you miserable.” His eyes are blazing. “Taehyungie, run away with me. We can do this.”

 

The odds will not be in their favor, Taehyung knows that well. There is fear creeping in  his chest — the type of fear that comes with knowing the end.

The determination in Jimin’s eyes, however, give him a glimmer of hope. As always, he offers the comfort no one can provide.

 

So what's next?



They run away.