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the art of beekeeping | VMINKOOK

Chapter Text

― PART ONE .

Tourmaline skylines and potent fuselages of ingenuity comprise the perfect simulation of an erratic town, dripping with erotic possibility. Sugarplum daydreams and devil worshipping kids, which love the taste of salacious postulations, dribble common nothing's into their prayer books. Sweat endeavours to ruin their lies, and yet it's lapped up by their great, inept overlords. Honey sticks to their tissues, and blood cells transpire to toffee, clogging up arteries and leaving sickly dispositions amongst numb minds. They're witchcraft and they're spellbinding; they're the glimmer of fear and the flash of hope; they're the mystery and they're the lust. Oh yes they're the lust.

And now, embedded within it all, is boredom. Silver snakes of steam unfurl from the ceramic holder of pumpkin-spiced coffee (which, for the record, was severely overpriced). Taehyung watches it, his eyes glazed with pumpkin-spiced boredom.

Currently, the sixteen year old finds himself amidst the quietude of a diner during the slow hours of the afternoon; the time between the midday bombarding of sunbeam and the feathery concoction of lilac clouds that was named dawn. Everybody, besides himself, was busy with their jobs or school and he found himself bored. Yet, he doesn't find being bored too bad a thing, as, upon reviewing the alternatives (remaining at school), he considers boredom a far greater fate than torment.

He supposes school must have ended by now, but he hadn't really been keeping track of time since he arrived at the cafe, post panic attack in the school bathroom during lunch. He finds solace in the empty diner, and he often comes here when in need of recollection, as the workers never questioned his intended whereabouts. His gaze passes from the soulless beach out of the window, to his coffee cup and then toward the napping worker at the counter. He repeats this process multiple times.

The only time his eye scanning varies, is as the door chimes open and a nimble teen with a diabetic smile enters. Dandy cherries decorate his ivory-bled cheeks, coaxing a hue of rose about him; his eyes, though shielded by round sunglasses, project indescribable warmth and his smile, oh lord, his smile. The teenager often came into the cafe around this time, with a strongly-scented cologne that could only be described as harmonious. Today, the male was clad in a loose, white shirt tucked into black khakis, with a black, wide-brim fedora perched upon his silky mass of tangerine-fermented locks.

He was a gelatine cesspool and he was a flicker of decadence. His eyes were the salt to the sea, crystalline and acidic, with a real desire to burn against your innards. His blood was comprised of candy, with chemicals affiliating themselves with his smile. Orchards of the aureate bloom against his soul, with harsh thorns prickling against the beholder's line of vision. Cellophane runs across his lips, and humanity is clogged within, a beautiful stupor of gentlemanly mystique lacquered to his ocean-breached skin.

Taehyung knew him, of course, everyone in the town knew of Park Jimin: the filthy rich teen, who was ever so well-mannered and kind-hearted. Though upon first glance, one may find his charming facade to be rather convincing, if you allowed yourself a second glance, you'd decipher the blatant coats of mystery within him. Perhaps this is the reason for the undeniable skipping of Taehyung's heart every time the teen was around? The brunette disliked referring to it as a crush as he considered himself too sensible for such a thing, but alas, they've never spoken so he couldn't really call it anything more.

He discreetly ducks his head behind his comic book and just casually observes the man; Taehyung was awfully good at hiding in plain sight.

"Hiya, Jim, the reg?" The only staff member on duty questions, face visibly brightening at the entrance of the attractive customer.

"You know it, babe." Taehyung, who wasn't even looking, could tell he added a flirtatious wink, as, despite how warm the guy seemed, there was something clearly vivacious in his stance.

The waitress flushes and snorts somewhat prettily at the nickname, waving him off as she disappears into the kitchen behind her, most likely fixing up his order (a freshly baked chocolate donut with extra hundreds and thousands, as Taehyung recalls).

The place was silent, save for the dim radio music which was currently only blaring a baseline, "oi, you need to change up your music taste, haven't you got any of the classics?" Jimin coos in the general direction of he kitchen door, not entirely sure if the woman would have heard him.

Presumably she didn't, as the room once again mutates into disquieted silence, the only interruption being the chime of the bell, again, followed by the cluttering entrance of a youthful man, with a dismantled frown gracing his handsome attributes.

"Yah, Kim Taehyung!"

Instantly, an inane sinking feeling began to grasp at Taehyung's heart, his body shrinking further beneath the comic as if it would somehow coax away his existence. Perfervid claws of veneration clamp themselves to his palpitating organ of iron, attempting to drag it downward, toward the pits of his stomach. He can feel Jimin's eyes flicker over to where he was failing to hide and can feel the dread taking over him.

"Don't even try to hide, you're not a mouse." The newcomer to the cafe announces, marching toward the brunette, who could feel his palms clamming up slightly. The handsome man tears the comic from Taehyung's grasp and looks down at him, his expression contorted by an amalgamation of concern and disappointment, "I lied for your ass, again! You can't keep doing this, you know, and I thought I told you not to tell the school my number belonged to your legal guardian? Seriously, you've already skipped like half your classes this week and I'm sick of pretending to be your dad, imagine what will happen if your real father finds out, huh? It won't just be you that gets in trouble, but me too. Not to mention, running away from all your worries and problems really won't help you in the long-term. You can't just flee whenever you feel like it."

"Ok.. I'm sorry, Jin.."

"No you're not!" The elder cries hysterically, "if you were sorry, you wouldn't keep doing this."

"I.. I couldn't help it." Taehyung murmurs, his voice small and his eyes fixated against his sweating palms, despising the feeling of suffocation that canoodles with the concept of attention.

"Couldn't help it, my ass! So you couldn't help the fact you just ran from school like you do almost everyday? Teachers are gonna start to get suspicious soon, you know." Seokjin, the medical student in college, cries out indignantly, his eyes wide as he frustratedly rants out to his childhood neighbour.

"Sorry to interrupt, but this is a public space and your outburst is kind of worsening my headache." A voice soaked in saccharine delight melts through the air, making Taehyung's breath hitch as he instinctively snaps his head up.

Taehyung's eyes meet Jimin's and, even through the sunglasses, Jimin could descry the potent combination of perfected facets, sewn together beneath porcelain skin, that made up the brunette's quintessential facial features.

He knew the space-nerd, because Jimin knew everybody, despite what many may think. He'd caught him snapping pictures of him for the school paper a few times and regarded him as harmless. Jimin hadn't ever deemed it necessary to speak properly with the brunette, as he'd only ever seen him through the corner of his eye as the younger would reticently lumber around school. But now that he gets a closer look at him and hears of his highly unexpected predicament, he thinks to himself perhaps there was more to the oddball introvert.

Taehyung can't speak, it's as if somebody had wired his mouth shut, while his heart performed the only movement within his stagnant body. He's suddenly rather thankful for the presence of his friend, who speaks before he has to, though he too appears slightly embarrassed, "ah, I'm very sorry."

Jimin was silent for a moment, his lips pursed as he tried to concoct the perfect alignment of words within his sugar-coated brain. Suddenly his face warps into a cherubic example of jubilance, a charming smile overtaking his lips, "oh, no worries!" There's silence for a moment, but it's clear to both Soekjin and Taehyung, that the other was going to say more, so they opt not to speak, "and, I'm not trying to intrude or anything, but if I may offer my thoughts, I think your friend is right, Taehyung, you really shouldn't skip school, you know, or lie to the teachers about your whereabouts."

Taehyung wants to cry, wants to curl in on himself and disappear at the sight of Park Jimin's beautiful and almost convincing smile. A smile that melts the heart of this town, one which Taehyung would adore too if he couldn't see straight through it.

Chapter Text

― PART TWO.

"It's totally lacking in substance, Taehyung; you've lost all your flavour with this one, it's practically dirt against my tongue ― the very definition of poor taste. It's as if a four year old were given a pen and piece of paper, scribbling nonsensical ideals around it, in a demented form of juvenility, not at all taking into account the target audience nor the need for substantial content, just opting for whatever their delirious brain may concoct in a moment of childishness."

The brunette peers toward his teacher, bright eyes overcome with a vile case of disappointment. Currently, he's sat in Mr Min's office, reviewing his monthly school paper, which is now being rejected, a tad too harshly. Mr Min was a nice man, as proven in his willingness to help Taehyung with his journalistic needs, but he tended to go a little overboard with his rejections.

"Okay Sir, I get it, it's total shit."

"Hey." The teacher's tone is sharp and almost hysterically dark; the kind of tone which would usually cause a deep ocean of regret to bestow it's salty suffocation upon Taehyung, if it weren't for the indescribable comfort Mr Min gave Taehyung, "what've I told you about language inside the classroom?"

"Technically this is an office, Sir." The brunette is not quite sure why he just dug himself a deeper hole, but he was scarily comfortable with Mr Min, as the man was known to have a clear penchant for Taehyung — he truly seemed to be the only teacher who even acknowledged Taehyung's wayward whirlwind of imagination and writing ability, which melts from his finger tips, and creates pretty little bursts of procreation upon his pages.

"Alright, Mr Smart-ass, would you like me to kick you out?"

"No! I'm sorry, Mr Min.."

The teacher then nods in acceptance at the student's forlorn expression, almost feeling a little guilty at the sheer look of perturbation shading the crevices of his features, "let's just get back on the topic, shall we?"

"Ah, that's probably the best idea."

"Well.. to finish from where I began: your article is pants."

"Pants?" The brunette echoes indignantly, despairing hurt creeping into his unsteady bones again, "don't you think you're being a little harsh, I tried so hard on this―"

"I don't doubt that, but, what I'm reading is ordinary, generic, dull." The teacher leans his cheek on his back of his hand, head cocked and eyes unapologetic, "completely unlike your standard, Mr Kim."

"What exactly in my standard then, sir?"

"Hmm.. interesting.. eccentric, enticing."

"Why're you talking in threes?"

"The power of three, Taehyung, a persuasive technique you must've been taught a number of years ago now, hm?"

"Well, sure, but what are you persuading me on?"

"Nothing; I'm trying to get you to revisit these techniques you used to use, because this nonsense you've written is neither eccentric nor conforming to any form of linguistic device. News is supposed to be interesting, not boring and lacking in proper grammar."

"Well, I stayed up all night writing it, it's only natural it'd have a few mistakes―"

"I don't think you're quite comprehending, Mr Kim. What I'm graciously trying to get at is nobody cares about this kind of story. In journalism, you must take your buyer's interest into account, you can't simply write a mundane story that you're into, you've got to adapt to your reader. This has always been your strong suit, but suddenly your writing has gotten more and more boring."

"It's just a school paper, sir, no one reads it anyway. It wouldn't matter the title, people are put off by the fact it's a school thing written by a nerd."

"It's valuable experience, Taehyung."

"But―"

"Stop arguing with me, kid, your work is not getting published, write a new one."

"But, sir―"

"Blah, blah, blah."

"Sir―"

"Blah, la, la, la."

"Mr Min―"

"Blah, blah, blah, blah—"

"Uhm, sorry to interrupt."

Both heads snap 'round to the new-comer of the office: a prepossessing being lingering calmly in the doorway, his aura (not that Taehyung believed in auras but he was certainly questioning it right now) was soaked in lachrymose and superciliousness, with thorns prickling his edges, as if he was dangerous to even behold. Taehyung feels his cheeks flush slightly, embarrassed at being caught having a friendly conversation with a teacher, as if he wasn't already viewed as a teacher's pet. Perhaps what was more embarrassing was the fact it was Park fucking Jimin. Taehyung had barely ever come across the pretty boy in his life at school, but this is his second encounter in two days and the dumb side of his brain is hollering "fate!"

"Ah, Mr Park, what can I do for you?" Mr Min questions, his tone back to the adamant, civil level, as his gaze melts into that of a serious teacher.

"Uh, you said you wanted to see me? About my English paper?" Jimin responds, a faux-shyness adulterating his nonpareil configuration of facial features, his eyes lightly salted with concern, while shielding the intense ambiguity within.

"Oh, right." Mr Min rummages around with his papers, leaving a pregnant silence to fall about the room, enabling Taehyung's focus to be solely on the new, glacial eyes affixed to him, yelling at his heart to speed up. Silent moments, which hang in the air like icicles, are hastily abolished, as Mr Min releases a hyperbolic sigh, shaking his head in mild transgression, "ah, I think I left them in the staff room. Would you mind waiting here for a moment?"

"Not a problem, sir."

Mr Min makes a move to stand up, oblivious to the gaze of desperation currently flummoxed to his body, as he lazily excuses himself, leaving a prideful Jimin and terrified Taehyung in his tracks.

There's an elongated silence until the door clicks shut, and it's only then that Jimin casually turns to the seated brunette, keeping a safe distance, knowledgable of the boy's dislike for an invasion of personal space, "are you in trouble, Taehyung?"

"Hm?" The brunette doesn't dare make eye contact, keeping his gaze fixated on the aura of Jimin, rather than he himself, "uh..no."

"Oh," the orange-haired teen pauses, as if pondering something, before taking dainty steps closer (and, if Taehyung were looking properly, he'd say he has the movements of a ballerina: all sovereign and opulent, with fuchsia leaking from the soles of his feet) and continuing, "why're you here then?"

"Um.. school paper."

"Ah! I totally forgot, of course, that makes total sense." Jimin chuckles, the sound is disgustingly warm and leaves increments of goo behind within Taehyung's butterfly-infiltrated stomach, "what's the story you're working on?"

"Well.. I don't know, really." Taehyung mutters, turning away from Jimin as the elder edges slightly closer.

"You're pretty shy, huh." And Taehyung makes the mistake of looking up, his eyes graced with the sight of a joyful Park Jimin, with pixies consuming the iris' of his eyes, crawling amongst the residue of rapture within. His ravishing face is attacked by marching bands of beatitude, while streamers of glacé run across his honeyed skin, a gorgeous smile besotting his plump lips, redolent of Adonis himself.

"Yes, I- I suppose so." He manages to choke out, his eyes now losing the ability to move from Jimin's face.

Jimin chuckles and honey-butter melts from his tongue, drenching the purlins of daylight around them with a newfound essence of eminence, grinning even wider, "you're really cute, Taehyung." His tone was dulcet and patronising, yet it still managed to make Taehyung's heart do black flips, there was something about it that he found rather complimentary.

He scoffs sarcastically in his mind, as thick vines of doubt pleach about his head, leaving an acrid aftertaste of a thought, conveying that the comment was intended to be a joke, as it would be insane for Park Jimin to have just called him cute, right? Park Jimin, the headboy and school sweetheart— no, the town's sweetheart, who's family stomped all over everyone else, crushing them like ants and gulping up their boiled blood, while the citizens sucked up their royal taille and begged for more contusions and more abrasions; Park Jimin, who was not averse to the ways of flirtation but charming in them, letting poetry and self-made hymns fall from his lips, sewing his loves needle into his victim's heart, with gentlemanly glamour; Park Jimin, who never even turned an eye in his direction, could not have just used such a fond vocalisation of a word, "I.. erm, no I'm not... but thanks."

Jimin's smile only broadens and Taehyung is undecided whether the smile is real or fake, but just as he was siding with the former, another comment is spewed his way, "I'm sorry, I hear I'm a bit too forward sometimes, but you really are adorable."

The brunette is unsure how to react, there's something desperate in Jimin's eyes, a blaze of inadequacy and plea drifting through his beach-soaked gaze, as if he needed Taehyung to believe him, as if it were a matter of life and death — my, how peculiar, "I'm not sure how to take that."

"It's a compliment, sweetheart, I swear." Jimin states, smiling fondly, as his form mutates into one of grand relaxation, leaning lackadaisically against the oak desk, so he was mere millimetres from Taehyung's own stiff body.

"Well, then thank you, I suppose."

Jimin smiles coyly, placing a dainty hand upon the heavenly work of muscle classed as his thigh, running his tongue across his bottom lip, readying himself to say more, when he's interrupted by Mr Min, shuffling in with a small group of papers in his hand, "oh, Taehyung, you can leave now... go and think of something else to write." He says, slipping past the boys and slamming the papers onto his desk.

Jimin stands to his full height just as Taehyung does, and, despite the few inches the latter had on Jimin, he still felt small; it were as if Jimin were a giant within a small teen's body, as he had a vastness about him which just implied heavy superiority. "Oh, Taehyung, if you're thinking of a story to write, why not talk about the upcoming surf-tournament on Saturday? It's gonna be really popular." Jimin says, extremely unexpectedly.

"That would be a good idea, huh, Taehyung? Perhaps you ought to listen to a reader, rather than you're own ideals for once?" Mr Min agrees, something petty dripping off of his tone, as his eyes suggest something unknown.

"Oh, I'll try."

 

____

Chapter Text

 

 

― PART THREE.

Taehyung peddles till his lungs begin to fold in on each other, their components gravitating toward one another and merging together in a nauseating gestalt of rotten tissue. They stutter dramatically, desperate to provide him with enough room for respiration, but being too preoccupied with his intense cycling to do so in time. Aching muscles tightened his skin, as his unceasing bombarding against his mint-green bicycle began to grow tiresome. Due to the combination of the vast summer's swarth of heat and the intense spout of bodily exercise, the brunette could feel rosaries of sweat rolling down from his hairline and within his armpits ― lord, he was thankful for deodorant.

 

As he observes his destination decreasing in distance, he attempts to slow down in order to steady his breaths, pausing briefly to spray himself with a body spray that may prove futile in removing the forming odour of sweat sweltering the rest of his body. There's now a arduous effluvia seeping from his skin of sickened creed, expostulating the hazy hues of aphrodisiacal sunshine that leaks out across the expanse of houses.

 

He detours down the dusty mound of sand that led to the beach below, overcome with the intruding sight of bustling crowds. Taehyung had already adapted to the cacophonous yells of provocative exhilaration that came from the beach, as you could hear them from miles back, but that didn't stop the anxiety toiling with his fast-paced heart as he entered the same area as the bustles of people. Ditching his bike, he attempts to swallow down his trepidation, clasping his badge-stamped backpack and camera and melting into them — allowing himself to fall into their credence of perniciousness.

 

Today, he had decided to stick to his teacher's advice and actually turn up to the surf tournament, although, he hadn't realised it was to be held during the earlier parts of the day, and thus meant he had struggled to make it before everything was over.

 

A pink splash of watercolour drenches the sky, informing the haze beneath it that the day was nearing it's death, leaving its pretty flowers of fuchsia in it's wake. This didn't alter the demeaning ambience of heat, though, as the summer had proven to be an unyieldingly hot one.

 

"Taehyung, you tank, you've almost missed all the actual surfing." Said boy peers up at the sound of the voice, faintly making out the conjoined silhouettes of two friendly beings. Hyojong and Hyuna were the only two other members of the journalism club, though they only agreed to join because all school clubs required at least three members and it gave them a free space to make out during school hours ― thus it benefitted both Taehyung and them. They were decent enough people, anyhow, and often provided company to the lonely boy if he was ever in need of it.

 

"Oh hush, babe, the best bit is the night surfing, we all know that." Hyuna chortles prettily, a dainty hand tracing plain circles across her boyfriend's chest, eyes alight with the hues of romance.

 

"Isn't surfing at night kinda dangerous?" Taehyung inquires, not one to be knowledgable of the concept of surfing, but just putting his logistics to use.

 

"Well, duh, that's why it's not part of the official tournament. It's like the after-party-bit." Hyojong nods enthusiastically, appearing as jubilant as always, "it's probably gonna be the most interesting part of your article; the only thing that's happened so far is Park Jimin practically drowning his opponents with the huge waves he caught."

 

"Yeah, the kid's like a water-whisperer, I swear."

 

Taehyung can't help but chuckle at this, finding Hyojong's playful eye roll at the girl's comment both adorable and hilarious, "I've never been to one of these things."

 

"We know, hun." Hyuna laughs, whilst flicking her significant other for the eye roll, keeping her gaze on Taehyung, "Jimin makes it through every heat every year, but he's never gone through to a national competition, for whatever reason, even though he'd ace them all, he just never wants to do it."

 

"Hm, how odd."

 

"Odd indeed." Hyuna nods, "oh! But I'd keep that camera about, Taehyung, 'pparenlty Jeon Jeongguk's coming down to sing with his band during the night activities ― everyone'd go wild for a school paper featuring the PJs, huh?"

 

"Yeah, I'm sure." Taehyung nods, trying to mask the fact he's struggling with the sudden swelling of his throat, as it becomes unforgivably dry; his heart splattered against his rib cage, a spur of guts and gore dripping down from his ensemble of star-woven bones, at the mention of that name.

 

He barely even registers bidding farewell to the couple, because his body had just been forced into a tranquil frenzy of worry. Taehyung makes a mental note to escape before the male showed up, as there was nobody that terrified him more than the archetypal bad boy of a guitarist named Jeon Jeongguk. For now though, he settles for stealing pictures of the surfers finishing off the last heat, finding his way to a relatively spacious area that allowed him the ability to breathe in the solacing stench of sea water.

 

Even through the intangible mess of ocean and insignificant surf boards, Taehyung could instantly discern the slim deity, with fireflies beseeching his hair and spritzing about his forehead in a dance that marvelled even the stars, and a rind of enamoured glitter, which seemed as though a beacon for sunshine, lapping up all the hues of vehemence and contorting the intense components of himself into a seraphim of ultramarine, that went by Park Jimin. He doesn't quite comprehend just how many pictures he'd subconsciously taken of the perfect teen before him, until the heat is over and the surfers safely turn back to shore. Taehyung gulps at the sight of the many, many pictures that occupy his camera's memory, deleting most of them before someone may see and claim him stalker-ish. Again.

 

 

 

&&&

 

 

 

By the time the winners had been announced and Taehyung had successfully stolen pictures undetected, the night began to roll over and the sky dimmed. The clouds transmogrified to sponge, soaking up all the sunshine and leaving bleached blackness, whilst splotches of incandescent white shone through the arena of mismatched pollution and nature. He had managed to go relatively unnoticed, much to his delight (it was relatively fun having no one remember your name). However, he knew this may not remain the same for long, as the bonfire started to be made and a white van screeched to a halt in the middle of the sands. Enthusiasm grew into cloudy delirium as the school band emerged from the van, crowds of youths beginning to clog up the beach, while general townspeople fled, leaving the younger generations to their celebrations.

 

Though dipped with intrigue and somewhat perplexed, Taehyung didn't have the audacity to stick around long enough for the band's performance, with lead vocal and guitarist, Jeon Jeongguk, centre stage. Before the rate of his heart could increase any further at the prospect of hanging around the sidelines for longer than necessary, he attempted to make his departure. Key word being attempted.

 

As he was about to reach his discarded bike that rested beside a sand-dune, his eyes cast toward the ground in an attempt to keep his footing in the dark, he felt a gaggle of intertwined presences atop the dune. His eyes felt even more tethered to the ground, as he crouched to grab his object of transportation, thinking he could successfully scuttle away undetected. Oh, how naive.

 

Just as he was about to commit to his wish, the presences bustled down the lump of sand, so they were nearer to Taehyung, said boy freezing slightly as the majority brushed past him, his eyes still keenly watching his bike. About to breathe a sigh of relief, he was stopped as a pair of floral Doc Martens appeared before his line of vision, a painstakingly familiar aura clouding his mind, as he couldn't help but look up. "Taehyung! Where are you going? The party's just begun. 

 

 

 

&&&

 

 

 

Ink runs down the milky haven of starlight, segregating the once stark-white sky, so only minimal patches of stars burst through the dense seams of black. Taehyung just wishes his eyes could be blessed with a glimpse of the moon, as it may calm his brewing nerves to some extent, but, alas, all he sees is endless rows of star-spangled midnight.

 

He traces out the constellations with his eyes, longing to befriend the Great Bear and cry within her metaphorical fur. But, he knows he never can, and so the stars just sit above him, incandescently sneering at his misfortune. Still, the mocking array of stars, is a vast amount more welcoming than the sea of pulchritude and sweat surrounding him.

 

Currently, he's perched upon a log, his body ablaze due to the intensity of the bonfire before him, the flames dancing in twisted silhouettes of hellish orange. Although, he considered his insides a far more ferocious colour of hell; he imagined them as decaying and screaming and tormented by boiled blood, that slurs and sloshes about his empty innards, burning the sensitivities within and transmogrifying them to weeping embers.

 

No one payed him much attention, which he was oh so thankful for, but that didn't stop the acidic residue crawling about his stomach, informing him that he was morbidly out of place. He hated it, hated feeling as if he could be friends with them, as if he could talk to them, but he was all too familiar with the concept of rejection and the fear of being ostracised further and these stronger emotions within his DNA always kept him hard-wired to the ground, his eyes stuck on his scuffed, lemon converse.

 

In his ears, beyond the cries of exhilaration, Taehyung could make out the sweet voice of the lead singer of Substandard Pornography (Taehyung is still unsure of the reasoning behind such a name; it was most likely something that was meant to seem edgy, but Taehyung just considered it wannabe-ish) belting notes into his microphone from his van, his guitar on his lap, bright red hair and chiselled features being too distracting to focus on the other band members behind him. Despite how he loathed the owner of the voice, he couldn't deny how the melody metamorphosed into a syringe in his mind, injecting it's frail tranquility into his veins and calming his nerves to an extent. Perhaps that was the only thing that kept him here after Jimin dragged him back down and then left him after ten minutes.

 

At some point, Hyuna had made an appearance and gifted him some s'mores, before disappearing off, most likely to find her boyfriend. Despite wishing she'd have stayed around to keep him company, he felt relatively comforted by the fact that she and Hyojong were somewhere around ― probably within speaking distance, however, it was too dark to actually see — and would most likely interject if someone were to kick sand in his eyes, or something (Taehyung isn't sure why anyone would do that, but knows that people could do so if they pleased).

 

Bored and relatively terrified, Taehyung sticks another marshmallow in his mouth, not wanting to near the fire to roast it, as that may possibly bring attention to himself and the fact he shouldn't be here.

 

Just as he had stuffed his cheeks full, the world decided the fuck him over for the nth time, as somebody appeared before him, a cold hand on his shoulder making the overwhelmingly strong presence even more unavoidable. He flicks his gaze upward, just about making out Jimin's features in the dim fire-light, practically choking as he notices the fact the boy is in swimming shorts, clear lines of muscles visible through his thin white t-shirt.

 

"Hey, Taehyung," he beams, squinting slightly, stuck in the same predicament as the aforementioned, trying to make out his features. This was an odd prospect for Taehyung, as never once had he even considered Park Jimin was human too and couldn't automatically see him in the dark; it was odd to remember Park Jimin wasn't the intimidating vampire that Taehyung had made him play the role of in his mind. The teen's gaze becomes softer and his finger reaches out to prod lightly at Taehyung's stuffed cheek, muttering a small cute, before somehow making eye contact, "enjoying yourself?"

 

Quickly swallowing his food, with a heated face flushed pink, Taehyung nods, not wanting to disagree and potentially upset the person who'd brought him here.

 

"You look pretty lonely, d'you wanna come join me with my night-surfing?" It was in that moment that the brunette registered the elder hadn't removed his hand from his shoulder, and it was causing a frenzy of sparkles against his skin and the bones beneath.

 

"Uh, no― no thank you, I don't know how to surf." Through he believed his voice to be loud, he could see Jimin straining to hear him slightly, which made him feel desperately worse.

 

"Silly," is all the ginger says, flicking Taehyung's nose before straightening up, "come and watch then."

 

"Isn't it kinda...dangerous?"

 

And, even in the intangible hues of darkness, Taehyung could still descry the manic look of insanity that peppered the dull iris' of Jimin's warm eyes, his lips upturning into a demented grin, "duh."

 

 

 

&&&

 

 

 

Despite how dangerous the action had been labelled, Taehyung still found it rather dull to watch, mainly due to the fact he could barely see any of the surfers in the immense dimensions of tenebrosity. He could scarcely differentiate the waves from the sky, so it was a wonder how the surfers managed it. Although, he couldn't really tell if they had managed it, for all he knew, every single one of them could have drowned.

 

As usual, Taehyung was stood slightly away from the crowd, which made it easier to focus his concentration on distinguishing the surfers from the sea. However, he still could barely do so. It appeared everybody else had the same trouble, as nobody could release a cheer for those talented surfers who'd been able to catch a wave. That is, until Park Jimin appeared like an inextinguishable flame of orange, his nimble yet muscular body perfectly balanced upon his board as he elegantly rode a medium sized wave with despicably perfect technique. Screams sounded from every angle, echoing off the edges of the beach and making their way to Taehyung's ears, as he watches in glorified awe. His mouth's partly agape, his eyes bewitched by the beauty that is nymph-king Park Jimin, so much so, he failed to notice the body that'd discreetly inched closer to him during the concupiscent commotion.

 

"Tsk, what a fucking show-off." With those effortless syllables spewed from a honey-drenched tongue, Taehyung could feel his heart imploding, the components of the organ tearing at the seams and separating throughout his body, disturbing his respiratory system and canoodling with the ideal of tarnishing the pattern it'd attempted to uphold. He could taste the plain, undeterred breaths of Jeon Jeongguk, who had his gaze cast upon the 'show-off' in the water, though it appeared it was just a facade, as his attention was most definitely set upon the only other living organism near him ― aka Taehyung.

 

Responding with nothing but a meek noise of acknowledgment, Taehyung squeezes his nails into his palms, indenting his skin with little crescents, as a sign he'd want nothing more than to transform into the moon-man and entangle his attentions amongst nothing but moons and stars.

 

Taehyung can feel the way the redhead breathes, as if it's a constituent to his being — as if the fire-breather was crawling beneath his skin. He can feel the inferno rain down on him and burst streams of ichor against his corium; can feel fireworks ignite within Jeongguk's eyes, as they tear away the darkness and create their own little excerpts of colour and exhilaration. And, even beneath a darkened skyline, Taehyung can feel the revering of the God's, as they burst crimson arrows into Taehyung's heart and leak jeopardy from Jeongguk's fingertips.

 

"Everyone's totally adoring of him, but I think he's just an attention-seeker.. what'd you think?" It crossed Taehyung's mind that Jeongguk may not have realised who he was actually speaking to and had just decided to find a separate spot from the crowd, accidentally ending up beside a loner and attempting to make civil conversation.

 

Still, Taehyung wasn't one to be rude, so tried his hardest to concoct suitable responses, regardless of how terrified he was, "mm, he's a bit.. cocky, I guess."

 

"He's got a right to be in some ways though." Jeongguk sighs, smiling coyly at Taehyung, his eyes tracing across the shadowed figure of the almost shivering boy, fully aware of who he was.

 

"I guess... he's the best here, probably."

 

"Definitely." The redhead chuckles, turning his full attention on the lanky brunette, taking mild pity on him, as he appeared so helpless and awkwardly structured — a tangled up juncture of wires and buttons, that struggled to perform their intended purpose due to the distraught nature they'd been created with. To Jeongguk's lame eye, Taehyung was a shadow of introspective proclamations and galvanic whirlwinds, "you're shivering, Mr Taehyung."

 

"Oh." Taehyung feels his heart shudder momentarily, as not only did Jeongguk know his name and speak it without disgust, but he also didn't appear to have any hatred within him at all, "um, I guess I wasn't expecting to stay out so late, so I didn't think to bring a jacket."

 

"Midnight's late for you? Wish I could relate." Jeongguk simpers, though it's not quite mocking, it's as if he genuinely wished he were like Taehyung ― oh, what a terrifying idea.

 

“I mean... it's not.. like, generally I don't sleep until, like, one or something, which is probably why I'm always tired. But.. uh.. regardless, what I meant was.. I'm just not usually out this late.. I'm normally at home, like, binge watching shows or some―" Taehyung's nervous babbling is prevented as he feels warmth shroud and compress his quivering body, a feeling of second-hand body heat suffocating him gently. Fire clambers up the goosebumps on his arms and his trembling skin decorticates into ashes and suddenly there's a hearth of the greatest fragility and succour that's holding him captive — a capsule of torrid warmth and amiability keeping him inside: Jeongguk had given him his trademark leather jacket. God, it was all various synonyms for cliche, but the warmth still seemed to seep through to his pummelling heart, "um―"

 

“You're welcome." The elder grins, finding the brunette's uncomprehending, scrunched features rather endearing a sight — though, admittedly, he couldn't really see Taehyung clearly, but he just had this unspoken knowledge as to what beautiful trust his facial expression would hold.

 

“Are you not cold?" Taehyung questions, confused beyond his years: how could the person who'd glared at him in the school halls for so many years suddenly act so nice and give him his jacket; his jacket that was constantly bound to his muscular frame, as if woven into his skin; his jacket that he would never even put on a lover, let alone a boy he'd barely spoken to?

 

“Nah, not enough to shake, like you."

 

"Oh.. well, thanks.. but I don't want to―"

 

"Shut up, just keep it, you dork." Jeongguk laughs, brushing off dust from Taehyung's shoulders, before turning back to the ocean, smiling fondly.

 

There's little rivulets of smoke dancing before the singer's visage, seemingly performing just for his wary gaze. To Taehyung, in this lack of daylight, it appears as if he's truly releasing the fumes from his own heated skin, and the brunette allows his imagination to give into this lack of realism, as he deemed it ever-so fitting. Of course, in reality, he knows it's just a cigarette, but there are little, silver fairies with fire burning the soles of their plimsoles right now and Taehyung doesn't want to tarnish their grandeur.

 

"I'm going to go pack up my stuff.. party's over once the surf's over for me ― if I were you, I'd leave too, kids bust out the hardcore drugs at around 1 AM, wouldn't want to get your pretty self tangled up in that."

 

Not quite registering the fact he'd just been called pretty by the flirtatious boy with a heart encased with stone, named Jeongguk, Taehyung desperately speaks before the other can leave completely, "but what about the jacket?"

 

"Like I said, keep it.. you look hot in leather."

 

And with that, he just poof disappears into the crowd, as if a fairy godmother or a guardian angel. Somehow Taehyung thought Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo would be quite a juxtaposition to the leather clad emo-singer. He could feel his heart hammering and he cursed himself for feeling so mushy and bursting with ill intent after interactions with playboys who he didn't stand a chance with.

Chapter Text

― PART FIVE. 

 

Jeon Jeongguk makes use of his Monday morning free time before the bell, by guzzling tobacco behind the basketball courts, watching, in a dull fascination, as peers lumber their way into the schoolyard, grotesque bags, stuffed with misinterpreted knowledge affixed to their trembling bodies, shaking due to strings of heat that are knotted throughout the air. It's solacing, to some extent. However, this deep and contented silence Jeongguk had brought upon himself, is nearly always squandered, his previously peace-infused mind always suddenly shrouded with a prim combination of agitation and chagrin, as a drowsy voice sounds, "dude, look, you made the front page." Whilst holding out a piece of paper toward the redhead.

 

Jeongguk does as instructed, albeit begrudgingly, and practically tears the paper from the other boy's hand, examining it with those glass eyes of his. Taking a lewd puff of his cigarette, Jeongguk makes out his image depicted upon the front cover of the school's paper and it became clear the other boy's comment had been mocking and lacking in genuine enthusiasm. There Jeongguk was, tangled amongst bonfire sparks, perched within the doorway of his customised white van, his band mates just about visible behind him as he sung into his mic. It was a picture taken in such a way that almost brought his voice with it, it was as though Jeongguk could hear his own song eliciting from his concentrated and almost tipsy face. 

 

The picture just above his own was one of that pest Park Jimin, his photograph a complete juxtaposition to Jeongguk's, as it was a blaze of electric blue and contemplative azure, the only varying colour being the bright orange of Jimin's hair, which was rather obnoxious a sight that just screamed look at me when paired with the fair state of the ocean beneath his powerful feet. 

 

Jeongguk spares a moment to take another drag of his cigarette, before glancing back toward Yugyeom, who had a sheepish spark fermenting within his soulful, chocolate eyes, "that stalker again, huh."

 

"If you mean Kim Taehyung, then I don't think it's fair to call him that anymore." Jeongguk was wholeheartedly aware of the impact of this statement, the impact of any statement he made, in fact. 

 

Within their school, there was no doubt a hierarchical system, built upon the mutual pining and adoration for the Jeon and Park families. It was like whatever they would say became an indisputable law, one that everybody appeared oh so happy to follow along with. It was almost like black magic, the way these family's words bared such impact upon every citizen of the seaside town.

 

So, it came as no surprise to Jeongguk that when he had declared Kim Taehyung a freakish stalker for taking terrifyingly indecorous pictures of him in freshmen year, that the entirety of the school had taken his side and isolated the innocent boy without further question. However, upon having his mind changed on the subject of Taehyung, Jeongguk considered it in his favour to single-handedly clear the dirty prospect of his existence. 

 

But, what exactly had changed his mind?

 

Why, pesky Park Jimin, of course. After whispers caressed his ears concerning the surfer's sudden interest in the brunette, Jeongguk considered it his duty to wedge himself into his family-friend's business. It had been a silent competition between the two of them since Jimin's birth, wherein they'd get under each other's skin as much as possible in order to have the upper hand over the other, all the while masking their hatred toward one another in front of their parents.

 

"Why isn't it fair?" Yugyeom inquires softly, almost cautiously.

 

"'Cause the kid's not a stalker.. the pictures are pretty sick, don't ya think?"

 

"I.. I mean.. yeah, I guess."

 

Wetting his lip, Jeongguk squashes his cancer-stick beneath his boot and beams, some form of sycophantic intent laced within those skull-candy teeth, "I sure hope no one's badmouthing such glorious pictures."

 

 

 

 

 

 

&&&

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first comment about how wondrous Taehyung's article was had been a surprise― no, he would even go as far as to say it was shocking. He had just entered the school doors and was immediately overcome with an unfamiliar wave of warmth, not at all akin to the sunshine's warmth, it was almost like the warmth of hot-cocoa, that benign consumption of all things good and sweet, that left burn marks on your tongue when consumed too fast. 

 

He had been fuelled by hope as he emailed the letter to Mr Min on Sunday morning, after staying up all night to write it, too overcome by exuberant, moonstruck jitters, to catch a wink of sleep. All he had wanted was for the paper to be published, he didn't even consider the prospect that people would take interest in it ― he never wrote for others because they never read his works, yet here he was, flooded with compliments and drafts of unwanted smiles.

 

As he had stumbled to class in the same precautious manner as always (head down but constantly alert), he had been positively alarmed by the abrupt declarations of how fantastic his works were, how cool the entire student body seemed to find him. It almost felt like a sick prank and he could practically feel the bile claiming it's acidic presence within his throat, bubbling in anticipation for when they'd all suddenly snap and claw away the temporary delectation embedded amongst his tawny works of skin and bone.

 

However, it was lunchtime and, still, this inevitable feat hadn't occurred, thus leaving Taehyung a swirl of confusion and uneasiness. 

 

He had been lumbering Jeon Jeongguk's jacket around with him all day, smuggled deep within the contents of his backpack, hoping he'd randomly come across him and be able to discreetly give it back to him, however this also hadn't happened yet. 

 

So, he was stuck all day trying to think of ways to stop this bitter feeling of anticipating turmoil from upturning the contents of his stomach. However, despite the horrendous feeling of inevitability sinking into him, he couldn't deny how satisfactory he found it that people actually gave recognition for his works — it was a rather nice feeling to be appreciated, even if the sincerity was questionable. 

 

He stood trepidatiously at his locker, prying it open in a demeanour of inconspicuousness, surprised to aspy a huddle of teens chattering about the school paper within their hands. Normally, Taehyung would go about school life with his invisibility cloak, always unnoticeable to everyone until they felt the need to shove him around, pushing him out of their way as if he were nothing but wasted air space. However, today, it was as if he were the only entity here, as if he was the subject of everyone's conversation and everyone's thinking capacity. 

 

It was as if someone had stolen his cloak.

 

While thinking aimlessly to himself, he suddenly became wary of the cold presence beside him, as it seemed to coax away the warmth everyone else was radiating; it were as if the air conditioning had been turned on full blast and all his sweat was being cooled into nonexistence.

 

"Hello, Mr Journalist." 

 

"Hi, Jimin." Taehyung barely had to look to distinguish the elder's body, as he didn't know anyone else that could simultaneously extinguish flames and set someone on fire quite like him. 

 

"You didn't say goodbye to me at the beach on Saturday, I was wondering where you were." Taehyung can feel the other's breath against his neck and it's hot, the complete contrary to his freezing cold eyes. 

 

"Oh, uh, I'm sorry... I was getting tired and decided to head home.. your surfing was awesome though." 

 

"Why thank you, sweetheart. I love your news letter, by the way, can't believe I'm the main feature of it." Jimin chuckles cockily, in a somewhat joking tone, "think that weirdo Jeongguk likes his feature too, shame he's right below me, eh?"

 

Taehyung was unsure how to respond to this and he noticed this was a common theme with his conversations with Jimin. The orange-haired male would make some abrupt comment convoluted with distorted intentions, that would leave the younger with a writhing mind, almost turned to mush at the prospect of having to formulate any form of response. 

 

With Jeongguk, however, it was as if his nervous system would be sent into overdrive and he would find it less arduous a task to speak, in fact, the aura the redhead gave off was almost the complete opposite of Jimin, it was as if Taehyung had too much to say and would just babble nonsensical things till his heart's content.

 

Right now, he wished that were the case, as he was sure Jimin thought he had turned into Medusa, accidentally looking at Taehyung for too long and turning him to stone. 

 

"Uh, yeah." The brunette nods weakly, playing with his bag straps, until a sudden burst of thought slithers amongst his brain cells, "oh! Um, speaking of Jeongguk.." he trails off and can feel the surfer keenly watching over him as he scrambles through the contents of his bag, producing the distinct lump of leather that belonged to the musician himself.

 

Jimin's eyes practically blew up from the dynamite sparking within them, his whole body suddenly overcome with feverish ideas and curious suspicions, "woah, how'd you get this, Taehyung?"

 

"Um, he gave it to me.. at the tournament." 

 

"Jeongguk.. gave it to you?" 

 

This was the first time Taehyung had seen Jimin caught off guard and it was quite an uncharacteristic sight to behold, "uh, yeah.. I wanted to return it to him, but I haven't seen him and, seeing as you're friends and all, would you mind, like.. giving it back to him?"

 

Jimin scoffs at this, the puzzled glint in his eyes dispersing instantaneously, as his gaze mutates into one of great disagreement, "me and Jeongguk are not friends, can't stand the kid. But, because our parents are best friends, I have to be around him all the damn time―" Jimin pauses and narrows his eyes into perplexed slits, his tongue darting across his bottom lip, "I— I wasn't supposed to say that." 

 

Taehyung was as confused as Jimin appeared to be: he always thought that the two were friends, just as everyone did. They were always seen hanging out together and had grown up in each other's presence. They were the peanut to the other's jelly; a rough and inconspicuous combination of opposites that coincide to perfection; they're archetypes of human assets that contort everyone's psyche into accepting that polar opposite best friends are the norm. Perhaps he had been naive to assume Jeongguk's jabs at Jimin's cockiness at the tournament to have been a joke. 

 

"Shit, I've never told anyone that.. Taehyung," Jimin's eyes were pleading as he took the leather jacket from Taehyung's grasp, he leaned in closer, his voice now a whisper to ensure no one around them heard, "promise me you won't tell a soul.. okay? No one can know me and Jeongguk aren't friends...just take it as a joke, 'kay?"

 

It almost seemed as if Jimin was trying to cast a spell on him, but that was a preposterous concept, wasn't it? Still, even if he was trying to, it clearly wasn't working — though it didn't particularly matter, Taehyung was practically swimming in the palm of his hand anyway.

 

"I won't tell anyone." Taehyung promises, his tone surprisingly calm. 

 

The surfer boy sighs gratefully, patting Taehyung's hair as if he were an obedient dog, "thank you, sweetheart.”

 

 

Chapter Text

― PART FIVE.

 

PJ Honey was a company owned by the Park and Jeon families (thus the rather uncreative name). It had been founded in the 60s and the company's legacy had been continued on by the two families eldest sons and their wives (Jimin and Jeongguk's parents). They had been able to spread their homemade, teeth-rotting semi-liquid across the country, just as their customers spread the product across their morning toast. This resulted in their thrones being moulded and solidified within the town; thrones that were laced with the honey that seemed to hold them down. 

 

However, their 'humble beginnings' could still be observed via the honey store that opened all year 'round, just on the outskirts of town: The Humble Bumble. Jars of the self-made honey were aligned in compact rows across the flaxen-glazed rooms, gold leaking out across your eyelids, never once ceasing to consume your unworthy body with their wealth and confection. The place reeks of the bee juice (as Jeon Jeongguk liked to call it), which must explain why the boy himself always walks the streets with this scent clinging to that aureate skin of his. 

 

Beyond this store was forests, once untainted by the stench of mankind, but now riddled with wooden contraptions housing happy homes for prisoner bees. 

 

This forest was generally unvisited by anyone who didn't work as a beekeeper or a distributor, which was a complete contrast to the actual store, as it seemed not a day went by when the shop wasn't bustling with busybodies (which was odd, as it was quite difficult to imagine the world was in such high demand of this specific honey all the time). The woodland did, however, bare sanctity to Park Jimin, who rather enjoyed the solitude of the bee-infested land. When he wasn't surfing or strolling from cafe to cafe to make his being known, almost wanting to appear omnipresent, Jimin was here, laying low behind the store.

 

He was somewhat riveted by the prospect of bumblebees; he truly found something so solacing within the titivating thrum of the creature's buzzing, finding the vibrations of their vocal chords to be rather pacifying, as the sound etches through his veins. Since childhood, he'd been introduced and surrounded by the mustard and midnight striated critters, and their sound had been ever-present within his head, humming dutifully amongst this yarn of worry and anxiety and unfurling it into a long string of self-composure. 

 

On this particular occasion though, this Monday evening, Jimin wasn't breaching the realm of bugs for solace, no, he was here with much more chaotic intent. He could have done this at the beach, sure, but this place was far more deserted at this time and he was also filled with curiosity at how the bees would react. Though, he actually hadn't brought the protection of a bee suit, so thought it best to keep a substantial distance from the actual hives, not wanting to have his face tarnished by agitated creatures.

 

From his bag, he brings forth a lighter (one he had snatched from Jeongguk's bedroom) and pulled out another item belonging to his sworn enemy: his leather jacket. First, he tested the lighter, burning the blazed gas against his thumb, as he gnawed on his lip, surprised at how little effect the feeling of the fire bruising his skin had on him. He had run his hand through a Bunsen Burner before and experienced the same, he supposed the fire looked far more dangerous than it felt in small doses.

 

Satisfaction rifles through him as he places the black and withered leather coat onto the muddy bank of peppered grass, smiling despondently at the sight of it, though he wasn't quite sure why. Without further consideration over his sudden feeling of sorrow, Jimin sets it alight. 

 

He watches as the small patch of light slowly slithers across the work of fabric, producing large bolts of flames across the expanse of it, until it appeared to consume every crevice. However, instead of the threads reacting with the lighter to create a huge combustion of flames, the leather curled in on itself, tightening and screaming for help, as it appeared to wither away against the unceasing lambast of fire. 

 

Jimin had been expecting something more beautiful or perilous, but what he got was lacking in distress, and was just a mere withering of fabric that was beginning to rot and tan across the edges. He wanted fibres and ash so he could throw it in Jeongguk's face and watch his pretty features get swallowed up by the remains of his treasured jacket, as a kind of warning to get him to stop delving into his business. 

 

But, all he got was a wrinkled, barely disturbed blunder of fabric.

 

 

 

 

 

&&&

 

 

 

 

Of course, Jimin couldn't resist the urge to blare his partial destruction of his neighbour's treasured jacket, so throws it in his face anyway — literally.

 

After storming into the Jeon residence (not an uncommon thing, seeing as the families were neighbours and longterm business partners and had keys to one another's homes), he had clambered up the stairs in a graceless manner, not caring to knock as he shoved Jeongguk's bedroom door open and launched the wrinkled, wretched material toward it's owner.

 

Jeongguk had been lounging in his bed, thankfully not doing anything incriminating, just listening to music and glaring forlornly at the ceiling, succumbing to the metropolis of angst his brain was consumed by. 

 

The disharmonious harmony of Stone Temple Pilots, with an intertwist of the Jeon's sugar-stench, sparked the credentials of the boy's room, making up every glorious component of him. His room was huge and disorganised, essentially a swarth of black and white rock posters, immense groupings of musical instruments and various computing equipment, all swallowed up by the soulless, swish furniture. 

 

"Woah― wha-what the fuck?" He splutters, his peace perturbed by the scorching and dilapidated hunk of material that is thrust into his face. It takes him a moment to register what's going on, even once he's removed the leather and can see the panting and smirking Park Jimin stood in his doorway, "the fuck is this?"

 

"Taehyung asked me to give it back to you." 

 

"What do you― wait, is this― is this my jacket?"

 

"Wow, you're as slow as ever."

 

"How the fuck did you get my jacket? And.. and what the fuck have you done to it?" 

 

Jeongguk was angry, it was plain to see, and an angry Jeon Jeongguk was generally something to fear, as the teen was primarily constructed of coarse works of muscle and had a slight tendency of resulting to violence when provoked. However, despite this knowledge, Jimin wasn't at all fearful, in fact, he relished in the way the other was getting riled up, as it made him feel as though he'd accomplished something ― as if his message would sink into that attractive yet meaty skull of Jeongguk's.

 

"I thought you weren't fond of it anymore." Jimin pouts mockingly, though he couldn't deny the assiduous ripples of guilt that shocked through his system of bodily organs as he caught a glimpse of the genuine distress upon the elder boy's face, "oh, why else would you give it away?"

 

"You ugly, sadistic fucker." The redhead practically snarls, standing to his full height so he could tower over the younger.

 

"'Least I'm not a stalker."

 

"You're suggesting I am?"

 

"Really stating the obvious today, ain't ya." Jimin scoffs, turning away slightly as he himself felt rather uncomfortable by the sheer dejection in the black pools of the other's eyes, "it's like you're so obsessed with me and watching my every move, you can't stop yourself from sweetening up anyone I converse with."

 

"What ever twisted idea your crooked mind has come up with, I can assure you, you're delusional."

 

"How come you gave your most prized jacket to Taehyung then? Hmm? It's 'cause you want him to like you more than he likes me." Jimin shoves his finger into Jeongguk's chest, sending the other backwards slightly (which was rather embarrassing for the latter).

 

"You may be insecure about how much people like you, but that doesn't mean I am." The singer retorts, shoving the other back, though not to an extent that he'd really be hurt, more like a little taster of what could come, "I just gave the boy my jacket because he was cold and he happens to be very pretty, not because I wanted to one up you; I'm not fuelled by sycophantic desires like yourself."

 

"Bullshit." 

 

"What'd you say?"

 

"So you're not only dumb, but deaf too, huh?" There's a minuscule pause as Jimin's guilt disperses, as if he had forgotten all about the cruel act he'd committed, "I said bullshit. Since when have you ever expressed a desire to talk to the creepy, stalker kid? Since when have you ever considered him pretty?" There's another bout of silence and Jeongguk was tempted to answer the spiteful questions, but was cut off by the ginger once again, "I'll tell you when: it was when you saw me talking to him, then suddenly you decided the hatred he had for you couldn't possibly do and you needed to have him on your side."

 

"So what? It's not like you've not tried doing the same thing with the people I talk to, is it?"

 

"If you're aware of this, then I'd appreciate it if you stop taking the moral high ground. Seriously, Jeon, you're as bad as me ... and, as for this little angel act you've got going on, it isn't fooling a soul." Jimin's finger is like a beacon of accusation and condemning truth, as he shoves it into the elder's muscular chest, glaring shards of glass into the aphrodisiacal body before him.

 

Jeongguk can't help but shrug loosely, allowing a nimble and partially smug smile to lithely crawl across his lips, "I haven't the faintest idea what you're on about."

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

―PART SIX.

 

"I hate the sky."

 

"What are you on about?"

 

"The sky."

 

"Yeah, I figured.. but how can you hate it?"

 

"You can hate anything if you're bitter enough."

 

And that's when a tube of BBQ Pringles were tumultuously propelled at the gloomy boy appointed with the name Taehyung. Said gloom boy was sure he had a ring adorned against the skin on his forehead now, from the sheer impact of the can, yet he didn't seethe with pain, rather just released a hyperbolic hiss, not at all dissimilar to the sound of an agitated kitten.

 

"What was that for?" 

 

Seokjin didn't look at all guilty, as he shamelessly reached for the previously tossed Pringles can and placed one into his mouth, gracelessly ignoring the question, "I thought you loved the sky."

 

"Not anymore, besides, that doesn't explain why you inflicted pain upon me."

 

"You're bumming me out, kid." The elder shrugs, before taking a hearty sip of Taehyung's Capri Sun ― not that younger cared enough to protest, "I took time out of my busy schedule to come down here and see you and you're just crushing my spirits with your saltiness."

 

"You barely travelled far, your university is ten minutes away from my house."

 

"And I'll march you straight back to your house and inform your dad of all you've been doing, if you don't stop frowning and just tell me what's wrong."

 

Currently, the two were perched on a bench opposite the ocean, watching the callous combers that agitated the sand in frenzied dispatches of ultramarine, intertwined with glissades of Sacramento. The sun sashayed against the cool blue waters, leaving it's irreverent and sustained mark against the dips of the Earth. 

 

It was barely one o'clock, but both had opted to pull out of prior commitments (aka school) and had met up for a picnic on the beach ― which just consisted of Pringles and Taehyung's pre-packed sandwiches. 

 

"Nothing's wrong." The younger sighs, though both knew this to be untrue, as why else would the teen ditch school partway through the day to complain to his ex-neighbour about how miserable he is?

 

"Quit the bullshit and cut straight to the point." Seokjin scolds between a mouthful of crisps, "what's bothering you so much that you'd pretend to hate the thing that gives you the greatest comfort? Is it the kid's at school? Did they steal your PE kit again and chuck it on the roof?"

 

"No, quite the opposite, actually." Taehyung responds despondently, shrinking down against the bench and offering his weak, battered body to Apollo, hoping mythical god's may wish to consume his body, preferably by tearing out his organs in the most painful manner.

 

"Huh?" Seokjin turns his attention fully to his friend and as soon as he catches sight of him, he slaps his stomach a tad too harshly, silently telling him to straighten up. 

 

Taehyung ignores the silent command and just sinks further into the bench, lips pouted slightly in sadness, just as he used to do when he was younger and wanted to get his way, "everyone's being nice to me, Jin, and it's givin' me the creeps."

 

"People being nice to you is making you miserable?" There's silence for a minute as Seokjin's eyes ponder over the sight of brunette, giving him a judgmental gaze.

 

"Get out of here with that look, sheesh, you'd understand if you were me." 

 

With a roll of his eyes, Jin taps the other's tummy once more, in a poignant attempt at comfort, "why're people being nice to you all of a sudden?"

 

"I haven't the slightest idea― actually, no, I reckon it's 'cause of those two playboy weirdo's who think it's funny to communicate with me."

 

"Please, do elaborate."

 

"Fucking Park Jimin and Jeon Jeongguk! They keep being nice to me and, like, acknowledging me and shit and I think they're using their voodoo magic to make everyone else like me. Actually, I think they're using it on me too, trying to make me submit to them."

 

"Submit to them? The hell are you on about?"

 

"Not in that way!" Taehyung shakes his head, eyes going wide as he recognises the slightly perverted way his previous declaration could be taken, "I mean, like, they're trying to make me be like everyone else, y'know, trynna make me worship them like the cock-sucking town's people who are obsessed with their grim bee piss."

 

"Woah, what'd they ever do to you? Just 'cause you don't like honey, doesn't mean you should hate the distributors. The family's are actually pretty nice, you know, I was in the same class as Jimin's brother and he was always cracking jokes and―"

 

"Don't tell me you're one of them! Seriously, Jin, Jeongguk made my high school life a living hell purely because of a misunderstanding and Jimin has pretended I'm nothing more than dust until recently. Now they're trying to get me to suck up to them like everyone else.. using their weird magic." 

 

"They're not witches, Tae, they don't have magic, perhaps they just saw the error of their ways; perhaps they're trying to make amends or something."

 

"Even you can't say that with certainty."

 

"It's more logical than them being witches who feed off popularity."

 

"It's not popularity they're lusting after, dude," Taehyung takes a substantial sip of his orange-flavoured Capri Sun, leaning in slightly closer in an almost tipsy manner (something which was mildly amusing to Seokjin), "it's control."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

&&&

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung returned home at approximately four pm, which was roughly the time he should be back home if he had actually stayed for the entirety of the school day. His father was expecting him, thus shown in the way he was doing nothing but staring at the door as Taehyung entered, the sound of the bell announcing his arrival.

 

Taehyung's father, Yejun, was a tattoo-artist who owned his own tattoo parlour, right below the apartment that the father and son called home. The man was a kind and understanding person, though these traits were sometimes masked by the distinct integument of his youthful rebellion he'd yet to let go of. Blame it on him being forced into the clothes of a single father at sixteen or his fixation with bands and cartoons from his younger days, the fact remains that the man was still very much fuelled by juvenility, his forgotten and short-lived childhood still clouding his muggy eyes. 

 

"Heya, T, how was your day at the old knowledge-hole?" He greets, before turning back down to the cash register and playing with the stickers that Taehyung had printed across it.

 

"Was alright, I s'pose." Taehyung responds shortly, chucking his bag, which was infested by badges and pins, to the floor behind the counter, "You?"

 

"Yeah, was a pretty slow day, really.. some guy came in demanding a face tattoo of the word 'dumbass', pretty sure he was drunk, but he demanded it and―"

 

"The customer's always right." Taehyung continues, smiling slightly, before making his way past his father and through the parlour on his way to the stairs, passing the young tattoo artist with brightly saturated hair and a sharp snarl, Dahyun, who was fiddling with ink cartridges, not even sparing him a glance.

 

"Oi, haven't you got homework, why're you leaving your bag down here?"

 

"I've better things to do, Papa!" Taehyung hollers, not caring about making so much noise as no one was about. 

 

 

— 

 

 

It was roughly half an hour later when the door chimes open once more, the relatively repetitious silent aura that consumed the parlour enabling both workers to turn to face the newcomer. They recognise him instantly, of course, as there wasn't a soul in this town who couldn't discern the sight of a Jeon or a Park when they neared you. 

 

"Oh, if it isn't Jeon Jeongguk, you haven't been here in a while." Yejun states wearily, running a hand through his hair, the skulls etched to his bracelets clanging together in synch with the movement of his wrist.

 

Jeongguk glances around the room, his expression almost scary due to the divine lack of emotion that clung to it. It was perhaps more terrifying when his features contorted themselves into a look of joy, a portentous smile nipping at those lips of his, while his eyes remained nuetral, "ah, hello, Mr Kim, sorry to bother you.. I'm not looking for a tattoo or anything, I was just wondering if I could speak with your son."

 

"My- my son?" Yejun was understandably perplexed, as, as far as he was aware, Taehyung's only friend was their ex-neighbour. He was sure his son would mention him becoming friends with the town's beloved singer. 

 

"Yeah, I need to give something to him." 

 

"Oh, go right on ahead." He says without further hesitation whilst gesturing to the doorway that led to the staircase that led to their apartment, that led to Taehyung's bedroom, which inevitably led to Taehyung. 

 

"Thank you, sir."

 

And Yejun and his worker share a glance as Jeongguk saunters passed.

 

 

The electric purple fairy lights that became the only producer of light amongst the disingenuous dark of Taehyung's room made him appear almost ethereal, as they seemed to spray across his skin in a manner that enabled heaven's glow to refract amongst the empty room. 

 

Taehyung enjoys art and photography, just as his father does and just as his mother had, so it was no surprise he also inherited the obsessive gene from them, wherein the entirety of his mind was consumed by prospects of uniqueness and curiosity. He relished in viewing new forms of art that were coated in sheen layers of individuality and emotion, thus why he spent his time flittering amongst various social media pages, browsing through art pieces and occasionally posting his own.

 

Currently he sits among those fairy lights, beaming at the glow in the dark constellations he'd painted in a distemper across his ceiling when he'd first learned the concept of stars. A notebook is placed before him and he sketches yet another variation of planets, this picture depicting them as decrepit and melted, as if the sun had grown prostrated with the nebula's of ennui and the winding constellations of dynamism and combusted all her flames against her galaxy. 

 

He often sought for a fitting end to the universe in his artwork, demanding it be something artistic and painful, something that would drown out any form of life mercilessly. Though, he'd just tell his dad they were harmless, and the man wouldn't question it.

 

Everything was ritualistic, nothing out of the ordinary for Taehyung ― just as he tended to like it, as ritual connotes to comfort and ease and that was the most splendid of all life's concepts. However, this standard would almost always be challenged when he was most in need of it to remain the same.

 

Considering the odd ways Taehyung's been spoken to recently (with immense kindness), he needed something normal, something he was used to. And Jeon Jeongguk turning up at his bedroom door certainly wasn't normal. 

 

It wasn't as if he had even knocked the front door, he just somehow appeared in the doorway, with an open mouth and unblinking eyes; his school uniform was no longer paired with that peppermint tie and, instead, his top buttons were undone, displaying the teases of muscle and the tattoo, which was bleeding across his chest. The tattoo was something for the squealers to fawn over — something for acrylic nails to dream of scraping against, as acrylic girls make out the obsidian ink beneath his PE shirt. Taehyung was always curious as to what the tattoo was of.

 

Taehyung, though not intending to make such a sound, couldn't prevent the humiliating squeal that exemplified his shock, as he comprehended that Jeon Jeongguk was stood within the doorway to his bedroom.

 

It was as Jeongguk attempted to step into the room that Taehyung fully cognised that he was in nothing but a hoodie and shorts, accommodating for the ghastly summer's weather in his small and heat-compressed bedroom. Attempting to pull his duvet over himself, he spoke before Jeongguk could (which was rather surprising), "what the fuck."

 

"Sorry, sorry! I know I should've knocked! But your dad said you were upstairs and the door was open so I just went by my instincts and walked through! This is a total invasion of privacy, I know that, I'm sorry, I never really think through my actions until I fuck things up." It was peculiar how genuinely apologetic and remorseful he sounded ― quite a contrast to conversations with Jimin, who always seemed to be plotting something. It was rather funny that the one with a body-builder-sized archive of tattoos and a leather complex was the one who had a real sense of humanity, while the town's sweetheart was the one most terrifying. 

 

"No, no, it's― it's okay, I just.. it's kind of weird to walk into someone's room unannounced."

 

"I'm technically not in your room though." Jeongguk quips, smiling softly, whilst gesturing to threshold, which makes Taehyung laugh, even though it wasn't all that funny.

 

"Why are you in my house though, may I ask?"

 

Something in the redhead's gaze switches, his eyes somehow succumbing to convolution and obscurity, a frosty look which made all prior comfort within Taehyung shred itself within the metaphorical shredder of his mind. Perhaps he wasn't so genuine after all. 

 

Jeongguk licks his bottom lip, entering the threshold and therefore entering the den of electric purple, which looked positively magnificent against the boy's honey-adorned skin, "I'd like my jacket back, please, if that's alright."

 

Air clogged up the oesophagus of the brown-haired boy, who's fingers did a nervous dance against his bedsheets, still not quite aware of the weird situation he was in, "I.. I gave it to Jimin." 

 

"Why?"

 

Why? Isn't that such a stupidly simple question that really couldn't be labelled as 'simple' due to the insane amount of thinking capacity it required. "Uh, because I couldn't find you all day on Monday and I just thought he'd be able to give it back." 

 

"Please don't give my things to Jimin, Tae, I said you could keep the jacket, didn't I?" 

 

Perhaps it was the casual nickname or perhaps it was the terrifyingly chipper way Jeongguk spoke that somehow seemed vindictive, either way, Taehyung's heart suddenly became the house of a woodpecker, who wouldn't stop jabbing at the organ in preposterous thumps. 

 

"Yeah.. yeah you did, but I thought you just meant for that night. You always wear the jacket, like, it'd be so weird for me to suddenly have it and I'm really not a leather person, either― not that leather doesn't look great on you! It's just.. not for.. me. So, you know, I thought it best that you just have it back and then, yeah.." He could feel blood that the ugly woodpecker was producing being forced to his cheeks, and he couldn't help but avoid the other's eyes, not wanting to even consider what emotion they may hold right now. 

 

"Oh, why are you getting in such a state, you dork? It's not a big deal, I just don't like it when Jimin touches my shit, we may be friends and all―"

 

"He told me you weren't friends." Fuck you Woodpecker. (Taehyung, at this point, considered blaming the unreal animal living in him for all his problems to be the best solution). 

 

"Oh?" Jeongguk's eyebrow quirks and he almost seems amused, which isn't as nice a sight as it once was, "he did, did he? Why'd he tell you a thing like that?"

 

"He said it was an accident, a slip of the tongue type thing, I suppose ― not a big deal. I won't tell anyone or anything, I swear, no one suspects anything anyway, I for sure didn't―"

 

"You're very cute, but your babbling isn't necessary, I don't care." Jeongguk smirks, more of that comforting appeal that glazed his body, beginning to chip away, "I'm just curious as to why he let it slip for you."

 

"Um.. I don't think it was about me specifically, he probably just accidentally said it 'cause there was a lot on his mind or something."

 

"No need for modesty, Tae, he said it to you; he's not such an idiot that he'd say that thing to just anyone."

 

"Um.. oh."

 

It's silent for a moment as both seem to be warped into a headspace of great possibility, running through every prospect that was coloured within the lines of reasonability. The silence is only perturbed, as Jeongguk suddenly chuckles, his eyes keenly watching the faux-stars that clung to the enclosed ceiling, "I like your stars."

 

"Oh.. thanks." 

 

"You're quite the space fanatic, huh, little guy?"

 

The term was highly inaccurate and a tad demoralising as Taehyung wasn't all that little, yet it was spoken in such a way that emphasised affection, as if it was a meaningful name ― but perhaps Taehyung was just an idiot, "yeah, I guess, I like the stars and the planets."

 

"D'you believe in aliens?"

 

"Sure."

 

"Me too." Jeongguk beams, before casting his eyes back on Taehyung, "d'you wanna be my partner for History?"

 

"Huh?" Taehyung was more than a little surprised by the spontaneous change in topic, that Jeongguk somehow made to flow with the conversation. He found himself very jealous of this trait. 

 

"If you be my partner, I promise I won't tell your dad you ditched the lesson."

 

How fucking unbelievable. Here Taehyung was, a friendless loser with an obsession with stars, sat in his aesthetically displeasing mess of a bedroom, with the school's trademark bad boy heartthrob, who'd claimed a vendetta against him since first setting eyes upon him, now threatening him with blackmail so he'd be his partner, when he had the entire school falling at his hobnail boot clad feet. 

 

"Sure."

 

Chapter Text

― PART SEVEN. 

 

"So, I've been thinking." Jimin chides lazily, reclining into the leather of his expensive car, which implied coquettish ideology and ugly riches. Jeongguk is sat beside him, headphones shielding his eardrums from the sweet drilling of Jimin's voice, his eyes glued on the outside world, watching the lines of ocean as they caress the sky's hazy azure, "listen to me, fucker." Jimin says, not particularly threateningly, just a tad impatient.

 

Jeongguk feigns ignorance, pretending his music was too loud to hear the sickly tones of the younger's voice. Instead, he turns further from the driver, heart lurching as they trace the same tracks each trail every day, though usually they travel them through individual vehicles. 

 

Though the Jeon's were rich (common knowledge by now), Jeongguk still rode about in the beat-up white van with the lazy, artisanal block capitals, reading Substandard Pornography sprawled across each side, as he claimed it best fit his band's grunge aesthetic. However, this choice came with consequences, as the hunk-of-junk broke down very often, meaning he was forced to hitch a ride with the crazy lunatic of a family friend, who was 'more than happy to help'. In reality, both knew Jimin just enjoyed the flush of superiority. 

 

"Oi, dunce, I'm talking to you." The top of Jeongguk's headphones clangs against his skull as Jimin's surprisingly heavy fist slams against it. 

 

"Oh, you little shit! Can't you see I'm trying to steady my early-morning, pre-school existential crisis, before being roped into a building full of irritating brats?" He snarls in response, sticking to his branding as angst-king. 

 

Mild, apprehensive guilt twists the innards of Park Jimin and he scantily brushes it off, glancing softly at the rear-view mirror, mumbling, "could've at least acknowledged me, 'm doing you a favour, after all."

 

"This ain't a favour, Sunshine, this is an apology."

 

"Ha! For what?"

 

"For burning my jacket, you freaky pyromaniac."

 

"Ooo, freaky pyromaniac, eh? Good one."

 

"Just piss off, Park, it's too early in the morning for your cryptic nonsense."

 

"I'm not being cryptic; I literally was just trying to start a conversation." Jimin grumbles, somewhat genuine in his forlorn state, as he grips the steering wheel harder, turning away from the beachside view and driving along the rows of Victorian houses that were impressively large in size, taking up predominant expanses of skyline.

 

Jeongguk glances at him, his gaze unapologetically scrutinising, finding his inner-organs a whirl of perplexed butterflies at the mere thoughts of Jimin's own emotions and the difficult task it is the decipher them, "well... you could've just been less.. less.. Jimin-like."

 

"The fuck d'you mean 'less Jimin-like'? I literally just told you I'd been thinking and suddenly you start yelling at me!"

 

"You hit me!"

 

"I lightly grazed your head."

 

"You almost concussed me."

 

"You're a dramatic little shit."

 

"You're―"

 

"Can you two just shut the fuck up? Some of us are trying to remember bullshit for pop quizzes." Came the fifteen year old in the backseats input, "honestly, your aggressive flirting is getting on my nerves and making the urge to be sick rather prominent. I need to be in mint condition for my quiz."

 

Jeon Jangmi, the youngest of the Jeon siblings; a girl embedded with inner beauty, tucked away behind those shrouds of expensive silks and complacent smiles. Her brain throbbed with intense knowledge and lame wisdoms spewed from that libidinous tongue of hers. Her hair crept, as though a spider, down her back, the crepuscular locks of shining midnight contrasting to her skin of milky ivory, with cheeks murdered and coated in blood-red rosaries. A sweet child, who'd not quite grown greedy for the taste of honey as her parents had.

 

"Shut up, pig girl." Jeongguk pokes his tongue out at her, to which she mirrors the gesture, adding a snorting sound effect, to comply to her brother's out of place comment. 

 

"Aw, sorry, Jangmi, did we mess up your revision?" Jimin coos in an insanely patronising tone.

 

"Duh, isn't that what I just said? God, you two are slow."

 

"And you're very rude." Jeongguk responds, turning back to face the front.

 

"Good one, Jeongguk." Jimin snorts at the lame retort, making Jeongguk unconsciously laugh too, both too tired to really pay the friendliness much notice. 

 

Jangmi flicks her perfected locks of silken hair behind her shoulder, rolling her eyes playfully, "dimwits." 

 

 

 

 

&&&

 

 

 

 

"Mr Kim, you're at least twenty minutes late and you've nothing to say for yourself." Taehyung stands in the corridor, staring despairingly at his worn school shoes, face flushed, as his teacher leans over him, not particularly angry but more...fed up. He didn't particularly care Taehyung was late, he had just sent him out due to formality, not wanting to openly display his favouritism.

 

"I'm sorry.. sir, my bike had a flat tyre and so I had to.. like, walk." His eyes are still glued to the floor and are beginning to coat with tears and he doesn't even know why. He was sure it was just the worrisome tension in the air and the embarrassment of those eyes on him as he entered the classroom in the midst of silence. He didn't know why he was so fearful but perhaps that's what made it worse.

 

"Hmm, I don't want to give you a detention, Kim, but if this keeps happening, it'll be a straight after-school." 

 

"Yes, sir.. sorry."

 

As he renters the room, his fear disperses at the sight of the class fizzled into their own conversations, sat joyfully discussing nonsensical, abhorrent topics. The only regenerating shock of anxiety came as a familiar voice cooed out his name and an immense wave of blood flowed from his pounding heart as he locked eyes with Jeon Jeongguk, sat at the back, surprisingly alone. 

 

A beckoning flick of his fingers was all it took for his invisible rope to hook around Taehyung's feet and shyly drag him toward the elder. Jeongguk was lackadaisically leaning against the back wall and a low smile was slathered across his terrifyingly kissable lips. He delicately pats the seat beside him and Taehyung, not thinking through any alternative, sits down. 

 

"You're a little bad boy, huh? Turning up twenty minutes late, how naughty." 

 

The blatantly salacious manner at which the words fell from Jeongguk's tongue, made Taehyung's own tongue contort itself into pretty little knots, causing the casual gesture of dialogue to became rather a burden, "um.. uh, I just.. my bike got a puncture." He wasn't used to Jeongguk being so dirtily flirtatious with him, generally he was either mute or speaking as if he were a pure gentlemen.

 

"You ride a bike to school?"

 

"Uh, yeah? I can't drive and it's kind of, like, the only exercise I do."

 

"That so? I bet you'd be a great runner." 

 

"No.. I suck at sports."

 

"That's a shame." 

 

Taehyung blinks up at him, almost beetroot in colour as he glimpses at the dull smirk on his face, "why― why's it a shame?" He queries, though he's tempted not to.

 

"Bet you'd look good in covered in sweat."

 

"Oh." He can feel his face flush and his palms grow muggy from this interaction, just as they always tend to. He doesn't fully register what's said, thinking perhaps he didn't mean it in the obvious way one would take it, because Jeon Jeongguk couldn't mean such a comment toward a nobody, right? Come to think of it, Taehyung didn't recall Jeongguk ever being rumoured to date anyone, it was like he was only into casual flings. He wondered if perhaps he himself were the new bait, perhaps Jeongguk was only talking to him because he was pretty defenceless and awkward ― an easy prey.

 

Suddenly, he can hear the redhead's chuckle and Taehyung swallows deeply, feeling as though Jeongguk had moved closer to him. In reality, he hadn't, he had just switched his tone of voice to one so intimate it was as though they were barely separate entities; as if they were conjoined, "I'm messing with you, Tae.. you get embarrassed so easily."

 

"Oh.. oh, that's good, I wasn't really sure how to take that."

 

"You're so cute." He chuckles, pinching Taehyung's cheek and suddenly the latter is aware of the curious eyes subtly flickering over them, most likely curious as to why the Jeon Jeongguk was interacting with a friendless nobody; they most likely couldn't comprehend why the coldest boy in school was smiling so sweetly toward a creepy stalker. And, to be frank, neither could Taehyung.

 

Jeongguk follows Taehyung's eyes (having released his cheek) and his smile falters, glaring stonily toward those who dared keep eyes on them for longer than five seconds, "there something wrong?"

 

Taehyung's almost scared by the suddenly frosty tone, placing his fingers around the seat of his chair and keeping his eyes down. 

 

Those who were once looking, begin to turn away and Jeongguk's smile reappears as he brushes his fingers across Taehyung's hand, "you don't have to be so embarrassed, Taehyung, do you not like me or something?"

 

"No!" He almost screams, his head lurching upward as he shakes it profusely, "it's not that— I just... I don't think the other students are into me hanging around with you."

 

"They don't own me, love," Jeongguk tells him softly, "they don't decide who I talk to."

 

"I know.. that's.."

 

Jeongguk gently allows his eyes to roll, before moving his hand from Taehyung's, "we're not gonna get much of our project done right now, wanna come work on it at mine?" 

 

"At― at your house?"

 

"Duh, you dork, meet at the gates after school, yeah?" 

 

"Um... uh, sure."

 

Chapter Text

― PART EIGHT.

 

Taehyung was convinced that the PJ honey company was one founded through black magic, as he couldn't contrive any other way the families would be able to pull off such fateful coincidences. It was more than odd that on the specific day Taehyung hadn't brought his bike in, he was invited back to the Jeon's house. It was all too perfectly carved into the works; as if someone had weaved and wrangled their lives into a story wherein every single action perfectly aligned and created a flawless work of fiction. 

 

Regardless of whether they were secretly families of witches and this invite into their lair would become the cause of Taehyung's death, he still decided to do it, because Taehyung was a journalist, he was curious about everything and always found something to uncover in every opportunity. He was attracted to mystery and allure and the Jeon and Park families had mysterious scribbled across their foreheads. 

 

He waits in the car park for Jeongguk to show up, not in the way of anyone, but not quite tucked in the shadows, somehow his being going unnoticed by everybody — he was always very good at hiding in plain sight.

 

But, the simulation is sliced apart, as he is noticed by someone, one of two people who seemed to be able to tear away this imaginary seal between Taehyung and humanity. Park Jimin's voice is innocent, in a genuine way, as he appears in front of the brunette, his bright orange hair making him impossible to miss, "hey, Taehyung, you waiting for someone?"

 

"Oh, hi, Jimin." Taehyung finds himself smiling, somehow not as frozen as he tended to be around Jimin. Perhaps it was the foreign yet solacing glint in the elder's eyes that evoked images of sincerity, rather than the usual glaze of corruption, "yeah, I'm waiting for Jeongguk."

 

"Jeongguk? Why?" He furrows his brows, though his eyes remain soft. 

 

"Um, he said I should come back to his, so we can finish our project." Taehyung desperately wants to pat himself on the back for barely stuttering, but this feeling washes away as he properly looks at Jimin.

 

The ginger seems to still at his comment, his eyes not angry but certainly surprised. Taehyung understands why, of course he does: Jimin's confused as to why on Earth Taehyung was invited to the Jeon residence. No one outside their circle of business affiliations and family members were ever invited into the house, let alone some straggly kid who despised the honey they sell. 

 

Despite Taehyung's decisive inference, in actuality, Jimin wouldn't say he was particularly surprised, despite what his facial expression would convey, he was just a little...disheartened. He wasn't entirely sure why: he couldn't decide whether he was upset that Jeongguk had invited an outsider into his house when he forced Jimin to stay as far away as possible, or whether it was because he'd invited Jimin's outsider. 

 

"Oh." He clears his throat, smiling benignly, as if Taehyung is ignorant to the bloodthirsty tremor of dissonance that cavorts amongst the sea-foam of his eye, "well, Jeongguk's crappy van is out of work, so guess you're both hitching a ride with me, eh?"

 

"Ah, is that.. is that alright? I don't want―"

 

"'Course it's alright, sweetheart." Jimin hushes him, not quite smiling, but not frowning either, his face just simply expressing emotion; a display of generic feeling now inundating his stature, a whisper of humanity clambering along the agonies of his miscellaneous features. It was as if he himself was a mask, which shielded a grim reaper smile, "come on―"

 

"Taehyung." Comes Jeongguk's voice, which, unlike Jimin's countenance, is a grand articulation of calamitous vehemence: teenage aggression, fruit punch authority and misshapen equanimity. Taehyung wonders how these boys manage to intertwine such great ranges of emotion into a singular word. He can feel Jeongguk behind him (can feel his cataclysmic skin, which burns with his own selfish martyrdom) and, though he's not that much taller than Taehyung (only a few inches), he still seems to tower over him, a scorching and abrasive hand landing at Taehyung's shoulder, "thought we were meeting by the gates."

 

"Oh― yeah, sorry, I forgot." Taehyung's voice is embarrassingly quiet, which is quite a shame, as he thought he'd manage to maintain a steady voice for once while he conversed with Jimin.

 

"Don't worry your pretty, little head about it." Jeongguk says to the brunette, though his eyes are undoubtedly on Jimin, who was watching the hand on Taehyung's shoulder, great rifles of emotions flickering amongst the beautiful brown of his eyes, "Jim, you don't mind dropping Taehyung off as well, do you?" 

 

Taehyung has such admiration for the Pacific Ocean of Jimin's eyes, adores the reefs of polychromatic coral, which are drowning and compressed with withdrawn emotion. He finds the variegated aspects of this self-made moana (which courses with violet anger and crimson fear) to be truly worthy of awe. There's something so beautiful about the manner in which they portray how each word is picked from his brain, "'Course not, Tae can sit up front with me." Jimin responds, rather snappily, while forcing himself to turn in the direction of the car, the other two following. 

 

Jeongguk's hand elegantly slides down to Taehyung's lower back, gently encouraging him to move forward, as if that was something he was greatly in need of: encouragement. 

 

Taehyung decides he isn't keen on his current position. He feels like the last scrap of meat at a family dinner, something for people to fight over. He feels as if he were a mere object that was made to be tossed around, used in whatever method deemed necessary in order to seek an irritant's passage beneath someone's skin. And this sudden feeling made him curious as to why him. Why did these two boys simultaneously decide he was the best scrap of meat? 

 

That was something his journalistic side was intent on uncovering. 

 

True to his word, Jimin practically forces him into the front passenger and he can almost taste the relent in Jeongguk, who appeared to be holding himself back from protesting. It was a battle of power and will and Taehyung felt out of place being in the car when these two were releasing such vigorously violent auras.

 

They remain still and silent for a number of minutes, before Taehyung coughs, rather loud and abrupt, despising how awkward the situation was becoming. Though he was prone to living out such situations, there was something embedded within him that loathed them and thus he felt the need to prevent them. Curiosity was in his nature, anyhow, so having a reel of unanswered questions made it easy to scavenge for one to fill the silence, "uh, so, what are we waiting for?"

 

"Jangmi." Jimin smiles, his stony expression materialising and making the brunette somewhat relieved, tension slipping through the crack in the window, though this relief disperses as he comprehends what was said. 

 

"Oh, Jeongguk's sister?"

 

"The very same." Jeongguk affirms from the backseat, his eyes trailing across the outside world, seemingly in search of his sister in the parking lot. 

 

"Oh. Okay." Taehyung nods and looks down at his fingers, hating the sight of them all clammed up and sweaty, making his nerves prominent. He hates this, hates having agreed to this, because there was definitely going to be an unfriendly welcome awaiting him as he entered the Jeon household; he can practically see the looks of disgust on their parents faces as they cognise that their son brought home an obscure loser who can barely speak. 

 

He reminds himself of the journalistic goods this'll gain him and it suddenly clicks that they're just as much objects to him, as he is to them. They're using him for their complex hatred toward each other and Taehyung's using them for a good story, as if they were nothing but emotionless characters in a book.

 

"You good there, sweetheart?" 

 

The words break through the silence, along with the immense thoughts being shocked throughout Taehyung's brain and yet he still doesn't comprehend the question's being aimed toward him, until he looks up and finds two pairs of predatory eyes affixed to him, "oh, um, yeah.. I'm fine, I'm great."

 

"You look nervous." Jeongguk comments, not at all mockingly, but rather in a tone dipped with concern, "you shouldn't be, my parents aren't gonna be home."

 

Relief floods through him, but suddenly he feels embarrassed, feels as though they'd think little of him for being fearful of meeting Jeongguk's parents. "Oh! I wasn't― I mean, I wasn't worried about that.. I just.. um, don't really, like, go to a lot of people's houses and, like, yeah.." Taehyung's babbling and he wants to just crawl into a tiny hole in the ground and for gardeners to bury him in soil. 

 

He hears a chorus of honeyed chuckles, both boys seemingly overcome with bemusement, "that's really cute." 

 

Taehyung really doesn't pay attention to who said it, as he realises that they're very alike in the way they'd constantly label him as cute or smile softly at him, as if he were somehow precious to them. That was quite absurd a thought. 

 

Luckily for him, before he has to derive a half-baked response, the door opens and a beautiful girl slips in, slamming the door shut rather obnoxiously, not paying attention to the boy's and just speaking without looking up, "swear to god, if Mr fucking dickhead Kim fails me for that bullshit, I'm gonna―" she stops herself, having fastened her seatbelt and looked up to catch sight of a bashful Taehyung, who was practically ogling at her. "Oh, gosh, hello! That's so embarrassing, I must've sounded so aggressive." She chuckles nervously and Taehyung had to stifle the surprise on his face, because as if Jeon Jangmi just got embarrassed in his presence.

 

"Oh.. no, no, it's fine." He shakes his head, trying not to sound too pathetic before this fifteen year old girl.

 

"Jangmi, this is Kim Taehyung, Taehyung, my sister, Jangmi." Jeongguk introduces amusedly. 

 

"Oh, good to meet you, Taehyung." Jangmi grins and it looks real, as if she wasn't totally weirded out that a stranger was sat amongst them. It almost fooled Taehyung into thinking he wasn't out of place. 

 

"Yeah, you too." He smiles as best he can, before attempting to face the front, his eyes meeting Jimin's as he turns, just in time for said boy to send a comforting and somewhat cheeky wink his way, which makes the brunette glow a little redder.

 

"Anyway.." Jangmi proceeds to speak in her previously agitated manner, as if Taehyung were just one of them. She spoke as if he belonged there, with them, in that expensive car, in his worn uniform and patchwork school bag. 

 

For a second, he almost fell for it too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

― PART NINE. 

 

Jeon Jangmi, Taehyung had observed, did not pertain the same, manipulative agenda as her elder brother; rather, she was kind and scarily smart, without any hint of unctuousness. She had shown no reluctance in including Taehyung in their conversation, being wary and considerate of his shyness, not pushing too far, but opening metaphorical arms wide enough to enable him access into their unsolicited warmth.

 

She was cheery, even as she was ranting about her obnoxious teacher, and continued chattering away to the brunette as they reached the Jeon estate, her mouth moving relentlessly, even as she pushes her door shut in a precariously dainty manner. 

 

Even in his mismatched awe, Taehyung still was a good listener and allowed her every word to sink in. Even as his eyes widened at the elephantine sight of their house, he still managed to listen. 

 

The house was decorated with a multitude of wooden slabs, painted a pastel blue, almost mimicking the structure of a beehive. Beside it, was an equally large house, though this one was painted lemon yellow ― the Park's house. The family business partners had their houses atop a shared hill, with clumps of polychromatic flowers peppered across the grassland. They're segregated from the rest of the town, tucked away behind steel bars of wealth, atop a mound of self-indulgent deception and superiority. Yet, they're so beautiful and intricate, it's almost as if they're so worthy of being above everyone else.

 

"You gonna stand there ogling all day?" Jeongguk chuckles from behind Taehyung, who swallows deeply, closing his mouth, which he hadn't realised had fallen open. 

 

"It's just.. your houses are so― so cool." He responds, not particularly caring about how lame he sounded. 

 

"Yeah, I guess they're pretty alright." Jeongguk shrugs, not all that bothered by Taehyung's patented awkwardness. He nears Taehyung and wraps his arm around his shoulder, the two standing for a very short moment, before Jeongguk makes a move to push them toward the house. 

 

Taehyung complies with the redhead's gentle tug, before suddenly having a blatant and perfervid recollection of something so foolish, and rooting his feet to the ground, head snapping behind him and seeing Jimin still sat in his car, "oh, wait a sec."

 

He slips out of Jeongguk's grip and makes a few steps toward the car, the elder boy watching him, an unknown, unfamiliar emotion rattling through the expanse of his bones. 

 

"Thank you, Jimin." Taehyung says, as he reaches said boy, whose window was rolled down, his hands fiddling with his phone. Taehyung had completely forgotten to thank him as he left the car and he began to feel the burdening guilt of presenting bad manners toward the boy.

 

Jimin looks over him with amused eyes, switching off his phone and casting the entirety of his attention span upon Taehyung, "D'you walk all the way over here just to say that?"

 

"Uh.. yeah?" Taehyung questions, almost as if querying his own actions, unsure as to why he'd made such an effort ― Jimin lived here after all, it's not like it was much trouble, "I just.. I don't know.."

 

"How sweet of you." Jimin chuckles, appearing rather humoured, as he reaches out the car window and flicks Taehyung's nose, "you staying 'round Jeongguk's for dinner?"

 

"Huh? Um, I don't know... probably not." Taehyung says and it's then that he realises he doesn't exactly know how he'll get home. He lives on the opposite side of town to them and so walking would be an arduous task; he couldn't ask Jeongguk because he didn't have a working vehicle and he felt bad about asking Jimin. He could always beg his father, but the man surely wouldn't be thrilled to come and pick him up during the busiest hours of his work day ― it also clicked that his father didn't actually know where he was and Taehyung made a quick mental note to text him.

 

"Well, I'm going to surf practice right now, but will probably pick up some food on the way back, I can bring you some pizza if you want." Jimin mused and Taehyung doesn't know why he's so surprised to hear Jimin had surfing practice to attend to. Before Jimin had the knowledge of Taehyung's presence today, he clearly had the intention of taking Jeongguk back home, despite Jimin needing to be about fifteen minutes across town. It was odd that, though Jimin claimed to hate the kid, he was willing to do something so selfless for him.

 

"Oh, uh.. no, I don't want you to trouble yourself―" 

 

"Relax, it's nothing, I'm getting food for myself anyways, might as well get you some too." Jimin smiles and it almost looks genuine, but then Taehyung catches his eyes trail to behind Taehyung's shoulder, most likely scrutinising Jeongguk's stance at the doorway. 

 

"Um, ok, only if you're sure―"

 

"Of course I'm sure, sweetheart, you like margarita? Pepperoni? Pineapple? You do like pizza, right?" He quizzes, eyes fluttering back to his phone, though it was clear he still had his attentions set on the boy beside him. 

 

"Uh, yeah, I do. Just get, like, whatever.. I don't mind, I'm not very fussy."

 

"Okay, Tae, I'll see you later.. have a fun study date, hm?" He winks teasingly, before sending one last look of cockiness, presumably to Jeongguk, and driving back down the tarmac, toward the gates. 

 

Taehyung quickly runs back to Jeongguk, who didn't look particularly pleased, his brows furrowed in slight disfavour, but he wilts magnificently at the purity in Taehyung's weary smile, sighing cumbersomely, "come on in." 

 

Taehyung nods gently and enters the immense palace of palatial marble, adorned in the stench of quintessence. Art was pasted along the walls and a humming settled about the place — a humming which resonated as a gross sound of prosperity and splendour. "Woah, is― is that Degas?" He questions in endearment, drawn to the rather obscurely large painting, which depicted dancers in cold blues, hues of skin projected as inviting warmth. 

 

"Mmm, my mother's favourite." Jeongguk nods, slipping off his shoes, "you a fan?"

 

"Of course!" Taehyung declares excitedly, practically bouncing on the soles of his feet, "the guy's a painting connoisseur; he's got, like, such a talent, honestly, the pictures are like watching a show, it's almost like you can see them dancing. His works are so beautiful and it's.. like, you can see the pain and emotion embedded within their stagnant movements." 

 

Jeongguk smiles subconsciously, his eyes glued to the image of the excited Taehyung, who was just jabbering away to himself, fanboying over, seemingly, every stroke of paint. He resists the urge to express his thoughts, thinking it somewhat adorable that Taehyung was so excited to share his thoughts, without worrying about Jeongguk's opinion on him. 

 

"Gee, our mother would love you." A foreign voice declares, a body entering the hallway from the room at the end of it. Taehyung slinks into silence, suddenly conscious of the manner at which he was spouting exuberant words, "she thinks Degas is the real bee's knees, she'd be glad to see someone shares the enthusiasm."

 

Taehyung isn't sure how to create a reply, his body short-circuiting and preventing him the thinking capacity needed to contort a sentence. Before him, stands the indisputably fanciable and intimidating eldest Jeon sibling, Jaewon. Taehyung thinks he looks rather aerodynamic, in the weirdest way possible: he thinks he's all stream-lined and consummate angles. Gasoline bleeds from his spurious eyeballs, drenching his skin in this sheen veneer (or perhaps that's just sweat). Even his muscles don't appear as rounded as they should, everything is very rough and jagged, his gaunt features melting into his gaunt, angled body. 

 

"Oh, Taehyung, this is my brother, Jaewon, Jae, this is Tae." Jeongguk smiles, placing a comforting hand on the brunette's lower back and Taehyung realises that the redhead was rather touchy feely of recent. 

 

"Oh, hi, Taehyung." The eighteen year old smiles a dazzling smile, which has Taehyung's weak heart swooning, as he smiles back and nods, not trusting his mouth to make a suitable reply. Jaewon was intimidating, not in the way Jeongguk was, but in a far, far worse way. He was intimidating in the way that you couldn't see anything beyond his welcoming exterior, it was as if there was fraudulent emotion within him; as if he were just copping the manner's of those around him and charming them with a pretty grin. 

 

"We'd love to stay and chat, but we've got a project to attend to." Jeongguk announces, his fingers snagging Taehyung's waist and pulling him backward oh so gently, carefully manoeuvring him up the marble staircase. 

 

"Keep the door open, yeah?" Jaewon yells, almost like a parent. It's only as Jeongguk hollers back, "no can do!" That Taehyung realises he had been joking. 

 

They settle in Jeongguk's room, which was despicably large and just screamed Jeon Jeongguk. Taehyung briefly takes the opportunity to examine it as the redhead begins unloading his bag and finding what they'd need to complete the project. He observes the beautiful mess that somehow seemed on purpose, as if he'd purposely allowed clothes to pile up and posters to not conform to any theme, so as to fit his grungy aesthetic. He thought it kind of funny to imagine Jeongguk chucking clothes on the floor in an attempt to make himself look angsty.

 

He barely knew the bands upon his walls, as he wasn't particularly a rock, nor a grunge fan. He absently reads over the song quotes of blood-thirst and found interest in the vaguely familiar sounding names: Mudhoney, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were names he somewhat recalled his father mentioning. 

 

"Take a seat wherever you want." Jeongguk tells him, kicking at a pile of clothes in an attempt to make more floor space. 

 

Taehyung looks around the room again, not quite comprehending what he'd been meaning by wherever; did he literally mean that? Acting on instinct, Taehyung just sits down where he's stood, which is a relatively empty patch of floorspace. 

 

The redhead cocks a brow at him, before laughing in minor disbelief, "I meant, you know, like a chair.. or, you know what, just sit on the bed, if you want." 

 

Taehyung glances toward said object, surprised to see it was actually made. Regardless, sitting on Jeongguk's bed was sure to be an odd thing to do, in his mind. He figured it'd be more comfortable for his mentality if he were to remain where he was, "uh, I'm fine here."

 

"Suit yourself." Jeongguk snorts, clearly very amused by the shy one's antics. It's almost comical as he slumps down into the spot right next to Taehyung, so they're both sat uncomfortably squished together on the floor, "shall we start this darn project, then?"

 

 

 

 

 

&&&

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung would be lying if he said he'd expected them to actually work on the project for three hours, but that's exactly what they do. Jeongguk would occasionally crack a joke or would spin what Taehyung was attempting to tell him about the Cold War and turn it into something of conversation. But, eventually, they'd fizzle back into a state of concentration, both fixated on creating a worthy project. 

 

Jeongguk wasn't one to particularly care about his grades ― he was graced with natural smarts, so, therefore, didn't need to try too hard ― yet, he understood Taehyung's reasoning for being so serious over the topic. Jeongguk's ultimate dream was to become a singer, but, upon failing that outrageous aspiration, he had the family company to fall back on. Of course, Jaewon, being the eldest, was sure to inherit most of the company responsibility on the Jeon side, yet, that didn't at all mean Jeongguk wasn't granted his own inheritance and power. Taehyung, however, didn't have an entire company to fall back on, all he had was his grades and thus he needed them.

 

Which is why it was no surprise to Jeongguk that the kid took the project very seriously, not that the redhead minded. If anything, it was refreshing to have a partner who actually took an interest in the subject; usually, his project partners would just beg to be his partner in order to spend as much time as possible with him. 

 

It was kind of therapeutic having Taehyung as a partner, as he didn't constantly pry or attempt to sweeten Jeongguk up. He didn't even seem cocky at the fact he was the first partner allowed back to Jeongguk's house, he just sat there: dead calm and lackadaisically dedicated. 

 

Jeongguk didn't quite comprehend that he was no longer working on the project, not quite realising he'd spent the last ten minutes doing nothing but watching. He had been watching as Taehyung blinked, his lush, Stygian lashes pattering engagingly against his alluring, celestial skin of Aurelian complexion; had been watching as his pearly, white teeth subconsciously caressed and tugged at the piquant rosebuds of his lips, almost as if nervous; watched as those long, elegant fingers dictated the movements of a pen, creating intricate letters, forming intricate sentences. Jeongguk didn't quite comprehend why he found himself so captivated by the mere sight of somebody writing, but there he was, spellbound.

 

Of course, it was only as Taehyung looked up, that the redhead became self-aware of his observations and quickly looked down ― he thought to himself this was a rather uncharacteristic feat, as, since when did Jeon Jeongguk care about being caught staring? Or a better question: since when did Jeon Jeongguk stare in the first place?

 

It's silent for a moment and the elder assumes he's been caught, which only makes the fact he attempted to hide rather humiliating."Um, Jeongguk?" 

 

Said boy glances upward, placing on his best, least awkward looking smile, shocking some faux-confidence into his system, "mhm?"

 

Taehyung's eyes are but nebulas as they gaze up at Jeongguk, the elder boy thinks he sees a galaxy being harvested in them. He believes he can descry hail storms and torrid afternoons, he thinks he can even see the sun's ultimate obedience to earth. Alas, he's sure, despite the overwhelming predicaments in the boy's eyes, he's sure he should still be able to hear his voice. So why isn't he speaking?

 

Jeongguk ponders over the other boy's lips, thinks to himself that they'd probably be like cool aid, thinks he could burst them in a repugnant fulmination of sun-kissed flesh and aphrodisiacal gore; he thinks he'd like to suckle on their tepid tirade and rip apart their sugarcane blood stream, to tear out the sweet juices of the space boy. 

 

He appears so enraptured by thoughts of boiling skin and pretty kisses, he hardly registers what space boy is attempting to say, "Jeongguk, the doorbell." 

 

Begrudgingly, Jeongguk tears away the seams that sealed together his own daydream, now suddenly overcome with the interminable echo of that blasted doorbell, "shit, I'd better get that." 

 

With a brief sigh and a disgruntled, exaggerated act of getting up, Jeongguk leaves the room, leaving it surprisingly cold in his wake, Taehyung left to awkwardly scratch pencil lines into some scrap paper. 

 

Jeongguk slinks to the door, not caring to sort out the pitiful, dishevelled state of himself, already knowing who'll be standing at his doorstep. To little surprise, an ocean-doused Jimin is what he finds. He carries thalassic multitudes on his skin and his eyes are pelagic noir, hair entwined with the salt of a thousand vasts of deep, deep oceans.

 

 "Ah, pizza boy? Sorry, no tip." Jeongguk jeers, attempting to pry the pizza boxes from Jimin's grip, but the younger keeps them firmly within his hands, a dense smile crawling across his face.

 

"Ah. You're so funny, Jeongguk. But, if the pizza boy pays, then the pizza boy gets to eat it." He says lazily, shoving his way into the house, not that Jeongguk put up much of a fight; there was something about a wet-haired Jimin, with muscles rippling, like a pebble skimming across water, through his short-sleeved t-shirt, that was oddly hypnotising.

 

"You can't resist your fucking meddling, can you, Park?" He sighs in exasperation, traipsing back up the stairs, enabling Jimin to follow him, whilst struggling with keeping his footing and not dropping the pizza boxes. 

 

As if having a penchant for being an irritant (which he most definitely does have), Jeongguk slams the bedroom door in the younger's face as he enters, chuckling to himself, as he hears the vexed, internal fracas Jimin had been twisted into on the other side. 

 

He feels Taehyung's curious gaze on his back, a gaze which is only prevented as the orange-haired male boots the door open, "you're such a fucking prick, you know that? Here I am, bringing you food and you have the fucking audacity to—" 

 

"Oh, do be quiet, Tae's trying to work."

 

Jimin's manic optics whir into the direction of said boy, who was peering back up at him with those space saucer eyes, which had a midnight black sky and a blending rainbow seyfert at an equilibrium, "has this bitch made you do all the work?"

 

"No!" Jeongguk immediately interjects, "we shared the workload equally, thank you very much.. Tae's just a little more meticulous." 

 

"Well, Tae looks like he could do with a break." Jimin informs, ensuring to uphold a lethargic stance, so as to pacify Taehyung and melt him down into mere clay (the kind that sticks to your fingers and never wants to let go). Jimin takes a seat beside the brunette on the floor and effortlessly pushes all their papers aside to make way for the pizza boxes. 

 

Jeongguk shakes his head lightheartedly, sliding onto the floor, on the other side of Taehyung, making the brunette the ideal of most people's fantasies at school. It was almost unbelievable for him to find himself squished between the two most popular boys in school, who he undoubtedly would consider himself crushing on (he was a gay teen with eyes), eating pizza with them. 

 

"So, uh, how was.. surf practice?" Taehyung asks hesitantly, as Jimin grabs a slice of the pizza ― Margherita, just to be safe ― and handing it kindly to Taehyung, who flushes slightly before taking it with a quiet thanks. 

 

"Gah, so boring, the tide was so dead today, practically just had to sit around for a few hours. Some dick knocked me off my surf board like ten times as well."

 

"That why you look like a drowned rat?" Jeongguk queries innocently.

 

Jimin reaches across Taehyung's body and delivers a large thump to the eldest's thigh, Jeongguk, in turn, hitting him back, "what a bitchy thing to say."

 

"You're the bitch."

 

"After I just bought you pizza?"

 

"Uh, yeah, because it's greasy as hell." 

 

"Not as greasy as your face."

 

"I'll show you a fucking greasy face." Taehyung can already see it coming, but that doesn't mean he doesn't watch it occur in slow motion: admire how Jeongguk's arm muscles bulge as he reaches across the boy and slams the pizza slice onto the side of Jimin's cheek.

 

There's a bumbling silence, in which Jeongguk is brimming with smugness, while Taehyung's at a loss for words and Jimin— why, Jimin's positively fuming 

 

"Oh, you bastard!" 

 

Before Taehyung's mind can fully wrap around the situation (before he can fully comprehend the seething aggression rippling from them both, before he can quite catch the sparks of electricity pulsating off them), both of them are up, smooshing multitudes of piping hot pizza into the other's face. There's little curses spilling through irritated lips, and there's flashes of thunder burning in bludgeoned eyes. 

 

Before Taehyung knows it, his bemusement transmogrifies to blatant, substandard hilarity. Yes, he finds utmost hilarity in the childish manner at which the two boys cover one another in sloppy, greasy pizza. His laughter erupts around the room and soon he's choking on his own salvaged pizza slice. 

 

And it's like witchcraft, the way the mirth is sucked out of the situation and the way all actions are put on hold, a concerned, "woah, you alright?" coming from both older boys, which only makes Taehyung laugh more, nodding his head yes, as he coughs his pizza down his throat. 

 

"S-sorry." He laughs sheepishly, but wholeheartedly, feeling both the teen's eyes adhered to him, but not being at all cautious as he takes another bite of his pizza. Their eyes had turned ingratiating again, their gazes adulterated with that momentarily dissolvable look of a predator, a look which made Taehyung feel so small and out of place.

 

"You've got a cute laugh, Tae." Jimin says, his previously angered demeanour subsiding, to make way for this bubbly little smile, which looks so despicably acute upon his features. 

 

"Oh, thanks." Taehyung nods in an awkward manner, before chewing anxiously on his pizza slice, thinking it somehow tasted better than any pizza he'd ever eaten before, not understanding how it looked so appalling on both of their faces. 

 

Jimin and Jeongguk didn't eat anymore pizza, instead, they washed their faces and fed Taehyung as much as his heart desired (which he definitely lied about, because he couldn't stand eating in front of tentative observers). 

 

Jimin also drove him home, with Jeongguk in the backseat, of course, the ride eerily silent, not even broken up by some dull radio music. The pair say goodbye to him and watch as he enters his house. They drive away as soon as Taehyung peers down at them from he bedroom window.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

― PART TEN.

 

He'd arrived in school around ten minutes earlier than usual, as he'd made sure he'd left extra early due to having to walk, on account of his punctured bike. His legs were beginning to feel numb, as if they themselves were punctured, due to how fast he'd sped down the street. The world seemed to blur around him, his mind condemning the scenery into an impulsive buzz of static, just mere background noise. 

 

The static became increasingly louder, increasingly unavoidable, as he neared the school gates. It buzzed around him and the sound instilled a feeling inside him, a feeling which left his legs hollow. He felt his every aspect condense itself into the hexagonal construction of nimble honeycomb. He could feel the static jabbing away at him and thundering against his substructure, as if buzzing bees to an incomplete work of art. A bee's art is it's honeycomb and somehow Taehyung feels as if he's both simultaneously the painting and the one who burgles the painting ready to sell off to a local gallery. 

 

The sound only subsides (in perhaps an egregiously instantaneous manner) as he reaches the school gates and locks eyes with the only other being crazy enough to be this early: Jung Hoseok. 

 

The boy was around Taehyung's height, with a slightly darker shade of brown hair than Taehyung's, and perhaps the most terrifying of snarls. He was a mismatch of incongruous lips and anomalous eyes — eyes which beheld something Taehyung wasn't yet acquainted with. A river of toxins ran through those eyes, mountains bathing in unsaturated tastes, a yearning for something so risible, it almost seemed like a drizzling daydream as those eyes raked across Taehyung's fibres. The boy's lip (which was a paradoxically vibrant passionfruit colour) bared sanctity to a shiny, black piercing, which wondrously accompanied his current, foreboding expression. 

 

Jung Hoseok had large but oddly enticing hands; the hands of a bassist. Jeongguk's bassist, Taehyung reminds himself, the thought tearing through his mind and coaxing him into a state of utmost terror (because anything associated with that boy definitely warranted indisputable terror).  

 

It appeared he was actually waiting for the redhead, as he was stood beside the wall that was known to be 'Jeon Jeongguk's spot' — everyone knew he went there for a quick smoke, probably even the teacher's, so, of course, no one dared bother him while he was there. 

 

Taehyung was fast in tearing his eyes away from the gloomy-looking teen, who had his eyes adhered to Taehyung like a vulture to rotten meat. The younger's attempts at discretion turn to be futile, though, as it appeared the other had descried a problem with him. "Oi, you!" Comes his surprisingly mellow tone, cutting through the haze of the sunshine's breaths, that are hot against each of their tense figures.

 

Taehyung exhales sharply, his natural instincts failing him, forcing him to look up before he can run and pretend he didn't hear, "me?"

 

"Yeah, you! Come 'ere."

 

Surprisingly, Hoseok didn't sound impatient, nor angry, just rather indifferent, as if nothing was of any particular importance to him. Still, Taehyung didn't wish to see this indifference transmogrify into a crepuscular example of aggression, so followed along with his request. 

 

Though Taehyung kept his mouth clamped shut, it didn't stop the urge to talk and cut the tension embedded within the minuscule gap between he and the most definitely petrifying bassist.

 

Luckily enough, the elder decided to speak first, though it didn't do much for cutting the tension, rather it amplified the feeling, "you're Kim Taehyung, right?"

 

"Uh, right." Taehyung nods, ensuring to keep his distance and attempting to keep his voice level, not wanting to appear too pathetic, but knowing it was wavering slightly. 

 

"Hm," Hoseok nods, his brow raised, while his eyes scour over every inch of the younger boy's stance; he contemplates the exact measurements of his face, seems to overlook every edge, every crevice of skin, every single thread that bounds together the artistic mess that is Kim Taehyung. 

 

What he saw was odd, mismatched. The kid was all bones and treacle-smothered skin, with dishevelled hair and a messy uniform, which, though everyone was forced to wear, somehow looked different on him. Taehyung's blazer was too big and hung around his hands, it also was adorned with various splotches of acrylic paint, a wreckage of a rainbow collimating in various spots across the material; baggy trousers, peppered with what appeared to be a faint bespattering of glitter, scarcely clung to his skinny waist — they most definitely didn't come from the school's uniform supply. His peppermint-coloured tie was too short and looked like he didn't really know how to tie it and he had these navy blue converse, which definitely weren't school regulation. 

 

Regardless of the messy clothes and the awkward smile, Hoseok somehow found him to be rather endearing. He looked rather innocent, a little air-headed even — looked to be the daydreaming type. Yet, there was a small flicker lingering in his eye that suggested he was actually rather intelligent, suggested he knew rather too many things.

 

"You're that school paper kid, right?" Hoseok asks, after the very long and full silence.

 

"Um, yeah." Taehyung nods, not really knowing what else to add, though he felt the insatiable need to add something, wanting to keep the conversation flowing.

 

"Friends with Jeongguk, huh?"

 

"Huh? Oh, friends? I don't really know...I guess so." 

 

Hoseok chuckles serenely (yes, serenely, because it's a sound which brings forth images of skies painted azure and birds chirping in intense, harmonious adoration), and it's such a beautiful sound, Taehyung almost thinks it's preposterous for it to have come from that pierced mouth, "you went to his house last night though, didn't you?"

 

"Oh, yeah, it was just for a project, though."

 

"Mhm." The elder mumbles, shoving a hand into his jacket pocket — why he was wearing a jacket in such sweltering weather was beyond Taehyung, "you've lived here all you're life, right? If so, you know Jeongguk's never invited anyone 'round his house, other than me 'n' Joon for band practice. He wouldn't just invite you for a project."

 

"... so, what'd he invite me for?" Taehyung questions, his voice soft, shy, almost as if this were a question never meant to be asked. 

 

"Well, I don't know." Hoseok smiles and Taehyung thinks he has a beautiful smile, "what's so special about you, Taehyung?" He asks in an almost uncharacteristically soft voice.

 

"Special? About me? Well, I mean, nothing."

 

"Yeah...I figured that'd be your answer; perhaps that's what's so special, huh?"

 

"What do you—"

 

"Taehyung, Hoseok." An empty voice slithers into the brief conversation, discreetly slipping in between their mouthfuls of words, preventing them from sliding from their aching tongues, "didn't know you two were so chummy." 

 

Jeongguk almost seemed like a stranger compared to the boy he was last night. Gone was the excitable teen in an oversized hoodie, slinging pizza slices in his supposed sworn enemy's face, in his place, was an interposing soul of midnight, with a frosty integument and illegal ink that conspired in intricately deadly images across his skin. Here stood the Jeon Jeongguk that was adored by the school.

 

"We were just getting acquainted." Hoseok answers with an unbothered shrug, his expression melting forlornly back into one of insouciance. 

 

"Oh, how nice." Jeongguk replies in a bitterly sarcastic bite of syllables. Taehyung can barely look at him, it's as though his eyes are anchored to the floor, as if Jeongguk were something he wasn't allowed to look at. 

 

"Why so troubled, Jeon?" The brown-haired teen queries, a fearless and rather impertinent expression dousing his attractive features, "had a bad sleep?" 

 

Jeongguk hears him, of course he does, yet he chooses to ignore him and his blatantly evocative words, focusing his gaze on the younger brunette, who was very intently watching his shoes that swayed along with his fidgeting feet, "you're here early today, Taehyung." 

 

"Hm?" Said boy raises his gaze almost instantly at the mention of his name, his cheeks glaring a pretty pink colour, his blur of hazelnut hair falling over those sublime lashes of his, "oh, yeah.. I left early because I had to walk, y'know because of my bike and stuff, but then I got here way quicker than expected." He blabs in a slur of words, not even sure if he'd managed to get all of them in right order, but not particularly caring.

 

"Your bike still not fixed?" Jeongguk's voice wasn't as soft as it tended to be when he was talking to Taehyung, but it wasn't all that harsh either. 

 

Taehyung shakes his head at the same time as hearing the soft click of a lighter, informing him that Jeongguk had now got a cigarette perched between his lips. He couldn't help but marvel at the intensely well-hidden fumes of childishness Jeongguk had displayed mere hours ago; Taehyung found it rather incredible that he managed to place on this persona of emotionlessness. Then again, it occurred to Taehyung, that the juvenilely joyful Jeongguk may be the persona, and this dark and brooding disposition was the true form of the teenager.

 

He found this a rather fascinating consideration, thought it'd stem out to be a good story. He wondered how much people would love to read about the true, filthy gossip concerning their little guitarist.

 

"How's your dad doing with the van, Hoseok?" Jeongguk questions and it's almost as if he'd blocked out Taehyung's existence now, not even looking at him and leisurely releasing his smoke into his face.

 

"Says it'll be fine by the end of today, was an easy fix apparently, you just ran down the engine." 

 

Jeongguk nods, more smoke exerting from him and, though Taehyung doesn't mean to, he can't help but cough pathetically as it seems to seep into his nose, wrapping dirty fingers around his lungs and squeezing piteous coughs out of him. 

 

Both older boys turn to him with unreadable expressions, as Taehyung attempts to not cough too much, as, truthfully, he didn't usually cough over something as trivial as a cigarette and he found it excruciatingly embarrassing a thing to do in front of Jeon Jeongguk.

 

"Oh, sorry, Tae." He apologies in a rather fond tone, his fingers gently rubbing at Taehyung's back, somehow seeming to calm to brewing coughing fit from within the other's stomach.

 

"Sorry, I didn't mean to inhale that." He responds morbidly, feeling himself glowing from sheen, clear embarrassment. 

 

"S'ok, pretty, I didn't mean to exhale it directly into your face." He smiles sweetly, before his hand moves momentarily from his back, moving down to lazily pat his ass, making Taehyung slightly shocked, his body seizing up in a fraught tension, "why don't you run along now, hm? Class will probably start soon and I don't want to make you late." 

 

Taehyung, not actually wanting to stay with any part of him, especially with Jeongguk's tone sounding a little to similar to a Bond villain, nods a little too eagerly, "yeah, see you later Hoseok, Jeongguk." He bids farewell before scuttling off, leaving the two band mates alone.

 

As soon as the younger is out of earshot, Hoseok speaks up, "he a new fling? I gotta be honest, I didn't know you swung that way, Jeongguk." In this moment, though an outsider may assume he was referring to the fact Jeongguk was pining for a boy, Hoseok was, in actuality, referencing the status of the boy in the scruffy clothes, with the scruffy mind, a mind which didn't fit in well with the ideals of a boy such as Jeon Jeongguk.

 

"Oh, as if it's any of your business."

 

"Well, we're meant to be friends, aren't we? I'm just confused as to why both you and Jimin are so desperate to have this kid like you?" 

 

"Who said anything about Park?" Jeongguk snaps, flicking specks of ugly tar across the ground, scattered prepossessingly across the floor.

 

"Please, everyone's talking about it. Everything you do is like the talk of the school and I'm just as curious as the gossipers. Why are you two so obsessed with him?"

 

"Neither of us are obsessed with him, Jung, and I think it'd be a good idea to kill off your curiosities, as Taehyung isn't anything special."

 

"Funny, that's exactly what he said."

 

 

 

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