Actions

Work Header

sing me to sleep

Work Text:

 

 

“we accept the love we think we deserve.”

stephen chbosky, the perks of being a wallflower



now:

 

namjoon remembers that there was quiet.

 

echoing in his head, in between and around his thoughts, bouncing through his skull, quiet all around. the three of them sitting at one table (round, one of the legs uneven, knicks carved into old wood), quiet.

 

jeongguk looking at taehyung; taehyung looking at jeongguk; and then namjoon, not looking anywhere at all, lost in himself, the quiet around him.

 

now, the quiet is less loud. over the din of the coffee shop, the quiet is barely there, drowned out instead by taehyung’s dark eyes, the familiar purse of jeongguk’s mouth.

 

now, the quiet has sunk into namjoon’s bones, buried its way into the little spaces between his joints, threaded through the very cells in his blood.

 

“hello,” taehyung breathes, and jeongguk leans forward, crossing his ankles, uncertain and hesitant but hopeful.

 

“joonie hyung,” and it’s so quiet, so soft. a little broken. “joonie hyung, hi, hello, how have you been, have you been well?”

 

three years, it’s been. three years of this quiet and this deafening noise and namjoon left alone, because he wanted to be alone, overwhelmed with all the love between taehyung and jeongguk and jeongguk and taehyung, the love that was his, too.

 

three years, namjoon remembers distantly. three years of this quiet.

 

carefully, he unwinds his scarf from around his neck; tucks into himself a little when he sits, warming his hands with the tea he’d ordered.

 

“hello,” he says quietly, unsure, but tired and wanting. “i - i’ve been well, i think.”



/

 

three years ago, in the very beginning:

 

namjoon met taehyung first. this kind, sweet boy, with sunstained skin and honey warm eyes, sitting on a couch all curled up by himself. he looked a little lonely; namjoon didn’t like that look on him, thought he was one of the prettiest things to set foot this side of earth.

 

“hello,” namjoon breathed, and taehyung had looked up at him, honey warm eyes and sunstained skin, and-

 

and a lovely smile, this time. unfurling gently across his face, like paper fluttering in the wind, chamomile sweet, unbearably so.

 

“hello,” taehyung had said back, whispered really, leaned in close, tucked his chin into his palm, dressed in a red turtleneck and dark jeans, awash in warm light. “hello, i - i’m taehyung. kim taehyung.”

 

he had a nice voice, namjoon thought. deep and kind and a little sweet, heady with just how sweet it could be, an innocence bleeding from his words that namjoon hadn’t quite heard anywhere else.

 

(he wanted to hear it some more, then.)

 

namjoon learned that taehyung was at this party for yoongi. yoongi, who was at this party for hoseok, who was throwing the party because he released his mixtape earlier than planned, and it was a hit,

 

hyung, did you hear it, it was so well done, hyung, didn’t you think so-”

 

“yeah,” namjoon had said, because taehyung was a little tipsy now, not in a bad way, not at all. rather, he was warm to the touch, flushed cheeks and dark eyes and bitten lips, a heady sort of excitement. “yeah, it was really good, taehyung, i liked it.”

 

and that was that.

 

only it wasn’t that, because taehyung kept talking, carefully inked his number into the delicate skin of namjoon’s wrist, left him feeling terribly hopeful until taehyung said, so carelessly, so easily,

 

“i can’t wait for you to meet my boyfriend, hyung; you would get along with him so well!”

 

and that was how he left namjoon, that day. a little broken, but still unbearably warm, from his fingers to the very tips of his toes, because taehyung has that sort of effect on people, namjoon learned.

 

taehyung makes him feel warm all over, back then, and now too.

 

warm all the time.

 

/

 

now:

 

“hello,” namjoon says again, for lack of anything else to say. it’s been years, and he wasn’t the best at small talk then, is maybe worse at it now. “it’s been a while, hasn’t it?”

 

and it has, because three years is a long time. even now, namjoon is seeing them by chance; he doesn’t live in seoul anymore, moved only a month after it all happened, because the quiet was too loud back there, without taehyung and jeongguk to drown it out.

 

namjoon lives in busan, now. he writes novels on the beach, swaddled in a blanket during the winter seasons, a scarf wrapped up to his chin, all tucked in to keep away from the chill. the only reason he’s here now is because he has a meeting with his publisher in an hour and a half.

 

the only reason he’s here now is because he had some time to kill, thought he could do with warmer hands, less quiet, a shot of too-hot tea.

 

he hadn’t expected this. taehyung and jeongguk, with their dark eyes and their pretty mouths and their wandering hands, sitting together at a little table hidden in the corner, a mug set in front of each of them.

 

namjoon had seen them, had felt his heart stop, stutter in his chest, scream and sing all at once.

 

and now he’s here, in front of them. because taehyung had stood up, blinked once, twice, three times, said in a voice like he couldn’t quite believe it,

 

“namjoon? kim namjoon, is that you?”

 

and jeongguk had stood with him, a little bit aways, hands stuffed into his pockets, calling out in a quiet voice, full of dimly lit hope, “joonie hyung?”

 

the quiet had seemed all but gone, in that second. like it had never existed to begin with.

 

“good,” taehyung whispers, and namjoon blinks up at him, hands wrapped carefully around his mug. “it’s good that you’re doing well, i - we had hoped you were.”’

 

namjoon doesn’t know quite what to say that. he tries to smile, has a feeling it comes out looking more like a grimace instead, the corners of his mouth too tight, like it’s been stitched  all wrong.

 

“we tried to call you,” jeongguk adds, when it’s clear namjoon doesn’t have much else to say. he looks soft, bundled up in a black sweater and wire rimmed glasses, smart and polished but still inherently innocent. he sounds tired. “but hoseok said you left.”

 

“jeongguk,” namjoon whispers, clutching the mug tighter. “jeongguk, it wasn’t-”

 

“no, it’s okay.” jeongguk forces a smile. namjoon feels himself wilt, just a little. “you had your reasons, and that - that’s not your fault, hyung.”

 

it’s not your fault either , namjoon wants to say. jeongguk looks so small across from him like this, far from him and taehyung, tucked into a corner all alone. not your fault, jeonggukkie, please don’t think it’s your fault-

 

/

 

three years ago, still the beginning but not quite

 

jeongguk was shy; kind of broad, a little bulky, but tucked into himself like this, all of his limbs folded together, he looked small, unsure.

 

“hello,” namjoon said softly, because jeongguk seemed like he would appreciate that, seemed like he was meant for quiet things, gentle and kind. “hello, i’m namjoon, but you can call me-”

 

“namjoon hyung,” taehyung whisper-yelled, hands on jeongguk’s shoulders, pure excitement. “this is namjoon hyung, jeonggukie, he kept me company at that party yoongi wanted us to attend, the one you had to miss because of your film thingy, you know-”

 

“i know,” jeongguk mumbled, but his lips were turning up, a small, easy grin, the kind where he could barely keep the fondness in. “thank you,” jeongguk said then, a little sudden, an endearing sort of awkward. “for taking care of him, and - and being his friend. he didn’t want to go to the party alone but i couldn’t miss the competition, so - so, thank you.”

 

and namjoon thought, oh, he’s so sweet. unbearably sweet, like cotton candy melting in your mouth, sweetness all around, the kind taehyung would fit perfectly with.

 

“oh,” namjoon said aloud, shrinking into himself a little, suddenly afraid, the stutter of his heart unsure. “no, that’s okay, he was - it was fun, and i made a new friend-”

 

“two friends,” taehyung interrupted quietly, hands still on jeongguk’s shoulders. jeongguk looked a little panicked next to him, seemed to turn even smaller, leaning back and letting out a low, uncertain laugh, scared.

 

namjoon studied him for a second. jeongguk and his shy grin, the rings glittering on his hands, his warm eyes and the rounded tip of his nose, and then he  felt too many things, crashing into him and twisting , until namjoon was dizzy with it all.

 

“two friends,’ he said then, because he meant it, because jeongguk looked a little like he could throw up. “two friends.”

 

so namjoon met jeongguk like that. tucked into a warm cafe, heavy cream drapes and dark rugs, the three of them sat around a wooden table, bundled up for the windy winter.

 

he met jeongguk then, met taehyung again, thought to himself if i can’t have them like that, i would at least like to have them like this.

 

thought to himself, this much is enough, it should be enough, take what you can get,  kim namjoon.

 

thought to himself, this much will never be enough, will it.

 

realized, as he left them alone and went on his way, nothing will ever be enough, without them.

 

/

 

now:

 

“not your fault, gukkie,” namjoon says quietly, crossing his ankles and sipping his tea, shaky all over. “it wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own, okay?”

 

jeongguk doesn’t look quite like he believes him. rather, he looks sad, slumped over and tucked in, the way he does when he thinks no one’s looking.

 

“gukkie,” namjoon says again, a sort of desperation bubbling in his chest. “gukkie, hey, did you hear me? i said it wasn’t your fault, okay? okay?”

 

quietly, taehyung looks between them, his own mug clutched in his hand. it’s a little strange because by now, he would have one hand on jeongguk’s arm, another on namjoon’s, threading their fingers together and making them sit, breathe, in and out and then again until jeongguk snapped out of it, this daze he went in when he couldn’t quite handle what was happening.

 

but now, taehyung is just sitting. namjoon looks at him, raises an eyebrow, fingers wrapped tight around the handle of his mug. help me, he thinks, the desperation rearing its ugly head again. please help me, taehyung-ah.

 

taehyung seems to understand. at least, he trails a finger along jeongguk’s arm, oddly enough like he’s afraid to touch him fully.

 

(but that couldn’t be right, could it? why would he be afraid to touch jeongguk, of all people?)

 

“jeonggukie,” taehyung says quietly, so quietly, voice honey sweet.”jeonggukkie, hey, look at me, please?”

 

and still, jeongguk doesn’t look. instead, he wrenches back, almost as if he’s been burned, eyes too dark, too liquid, a sea of ink. “don’t touch me,” he says, clutching his arm to his chest, and namjoon stares at him, stunned. “don’t you dare touch me, not now, not after all you said, don’t -”

 

and it’s quieter now, full of a bone deep ache. “don’t touch me.” he whispers, head in his hands, looking lost and not at all put together. “please.”

 

taehyung seems close to tears, when namjoon looks at him. “sorry,” taehyung says, leaning back, so, so afraid. “ ‘m sorry, gukkie, i didn’t think - i didn’t know, i’m-”

 

“s’okay,” jeongguk says, still not looking up, but shaking. “i was just - panicking.it’s been a while since i’ve panicked like that, i just - i didn’t expect it, that’s all.”

 

and namjoon remembers that, too. remembers that jeongguk has always been the most anxious out of all of them, remembers that he would scream and cry and have trouble breathing sometimes, that he needed  to be left alone for a bit, until he was properly calm again.

 

“jeongguk,” namjoon says quietly, leaning forward, afraid to touch now, too. “i thought you didn’t have those anymore?”

 

“i don’t,” jeongguk says, sounds exhausted and a little uneven. “for the most part, i don’t but sometimes they happen and - yeah. sorry.”

 

you don’t have to be sorry, namjoon wants to say. you don’t have to be sorry, why would you be sorry, ‘s not your fault, couldn’t ever be your fault, guk-ah.

 

instead, he turns to taehyung, something hot and a little mean unfurling in his chest. “you didn’t know about this?”

 

taehyung looks at him for what seems like ages, a myriad of emotions flashing in his dark eyes before he leans back in his chair, curious. “namjoon hyung,” he says suddenly, legs crossed, arms folded, “namjoon hyung, we’re not together anymore.”

 

in this place, the quiet is back. whistling through namjoon’s ears, curving in and around the spaces between his limbs, burrowing into the syllables of his thoughts, the quiet spreads, all around and everywhere, ink staining linen.

 

jeongguk still has his head in his hands, but namjoon can hear him crying now, see the shivers racking through his body, the quiet hitting him, too.

 

“what?” namjoon asks, because he doesn’t think he’s heard quite right. “you - what?”

 

taehyung rests his chin in his hand, looks at jeongguk for a fleeting second before turning to namjoon, exhausting lingering in the letters of all his words. “me and gukkie, hyung. we’re not together anymore.”

 

“not without you,” jeongguk adds, barely audible over the quiet. “not without you, hyung.”

 

/

 

three years ago, the beginning reaching its end.   

 

in this place, namjoon doesn’t want to pretend anymore. with taehyung and jeongguk near him, sitting around this table like they often do, he doesn’t want to pretend.

 

“hyung, hello,” jeongguk says, and he looks happy, soft and shy and sweet, fingers plucking at the hem of his sweater. “tea?”

 

taehyung is in their room, said he had a gift for namjoon, asked him to come over, words slurring together a bit in excitement. “ hyung, hyung, me and gukkie saw it in a shop, thought it was perfect for you, we wrapped it and everything, hyung-”

 

so namjoon said yes. he said yes, agreed to come over, and he’s sitting here now, one of jeongguk and taehyung’s blankets draped ‘round his shoulders.

 

“ok,” jeongguk mutters. he’s rifling through their cabinets now, and the sun is hitting him at angle, spilling golden light across the sharp of his cheekbones, the curl of his mouth. “ok, so we have peppermint and chamomile and blackberry and-”

 

“chamomile,” namjoon whispers, wrapping his arms tight around himself, protective. “i heard somewhere it was good for nerves.”

 

“and what could you possibly have to be nervous about now, hyung?” asks taehyung playfully, stumbling out of his room with a box in his arms, red wrapping paper gleaming in the dim light.

 

namjoon looks at him carefully. “a lot of things,” he answers eventually, leg bouncing up and down without his permission. “there a lot of things to be nervous about, taehyung.”

 

“hopefully not about this,” taehyung says, setting the box in front of namjoon with a heavy thunk. he grins, this bright, lovely thing, like a winter blue day. “go on, open it.”

 

jeongguk is still in the kitchen, a little bit aways from them. “wait for me!” he calls out, and taehyung hums, sits himself  in one of the chairs, chin resting in his hand.

 

“of course, baby.”

 

and that - that hurts, a little bit. hurts where namjoon’s heart is, the space where all that quiet is built up, a tower of soft, cottony ache.

 

jeongguk wanders out only a few minutes later, two steaming cups of tea held carefully in hand, one of which he hands to taehyung and the other to namjoon. he claps his hands together and bounces where he sits, unbounded excitement flashing in his eyes. “ok, open it, hyung!”

 

namjoon feels himself grin just a little, the corners of his mouth curling up without permission. the wrapping paper comes off easy enough, streaks of red litting the table around them, and there he finds-

 

vinyl records. a stack of vinyl records, a few of them faded, a few of them glossy, but all of them ones namjoon has been searching for.

 

taehyung and jeongguk sit across from him, their hands threaded together, matching grins stitched into their faces. “do you like them, hyung?” jeongguk asks, and his voice is hushed, a little hopeful. “we - me and, and taehyung, we went out for waffles and there was this tiny little record store just beside it, with potted plants growing all along the windows, and -”

 

“and there was a dog!” taehyung interrupts, squeezing jeongguk’s hand happily. “there was a dog and i wanted to pet him and so jeongguk went with me and oh hyung, we saw the records and thought of you because - because, you know, that one time you showed us that collection of yours and mentioned you were missing a few-”

 

and namjoon does remember. it would be hard not to, considering he’d invited them over, made tea  for taehyung and sweet coffee for jeongguk, put a record on, an old one he thought they’d like, one they had liked, and then he gestured to his shelf, all of the records he’d collected.

 

they’d spent the rest of the afternoon on his couch, huddled into one another with an afghan draped over their laps, playing different records every so often, and it had been -

 

warm. so, so warm, this lovely kind of warm, an ache settling just where namjoon’s heart was, deep enough that he could feel it every time he looked at them, these two boys he’d managed to fall in love with.

 

and he’s looking at them now, too. looking at them, and feeling that awful ache, this terrible, hurting thing, just where his heart is, a steady reminder that he can’t have them because they already have each other.

 

“thank you,” namjoon says quietly, cutting taehyung off with an apologetic glance. “thank you, but i don’t think i can accept this.”

 

for a few seconds, they sit there, stunned. and then,

 

“you don’t like it?” asks taehyung, voice so small, so hurt. “did we get the wrong ones?”

 

“we can exchange them if you’d like,” jeongguk adds, squeezing taehyung’s hand in his tightly, a little anxious, a little unsure. “it - it’s not a big deal, joonie hyung, we can go back to the shop, and-”

 

“i love them,” namjoon whispers, the records heavy in his hands, all that he’s wanted staring back at him curiously. “i love - i love you.”

 

(this wasn’t how it was supposed to go. namjoon had a plan, one where he would cut them off gradually, without being too obvious about it. he had a plan, one where he would eventually leave them alone, where they would leave him alone, and he could be done with it and out of love and better off.

 

this wasn’t how it was supposed to go, but here they are.

 

here they are.)

 

“both of you,” namjoon shudders, feels his throat turn thick, too much all at once, “i love both of you, and, and i shouldn't but i do, and it’s awful-”

 

“oh, hyung,” and jeongguk looks close to tears now, taehyung’s hand held tight in his.

 

“i’m sorry,” namjoon feels so small, trapped in his skin, as if he’s looking in from a window. “i’m sorry. please don’t hate me. i don’t think i could handle it if both of you hated me.”

 

“we didn’t want to tell you like this,” taehyung says, sniffling a little, tears staining his cheeks. “we - we had a plan, gukkie, tell him about the plan-”

 

and oh , namjoon thinks distantly. they’re going to tell me now, aren’t they. they’re going to tell me that they think i’m weird, maybe creepy, they’re going to tell me to get the fuck out, oh god what if they think this is just a sex thing because it’s not a sex thing and i don’t want them to hate me, please don’t let them hate me-

 

“um,” jeongguk says, though his voice isn’t very steady either, bottom lip quivering. “um, we were going to - we were going to give you the records, and take you out for dinner, and ask-”

 

“and dessert,” taehyung sniffles quietly. “we were going to take him to that dessert place he likes, remember? the one off fourth street.”

 

“and dessert,” jeongguk agrees. he’s still not looking at namjoon, but he’s the only out of the three them that isn’t crying, a surprise in and of itself. “we were going to go to dinner and then dessert and then we wanted to ask - no, we wanted to tell you.”

 

“tell me what?” asks namjoon. his heart is beating a gentle pitter patter against his chest, hopeful. “tell me what, jeongguk-ah?”

 

“that we love you.” jeongguk whispers, and oh, his voice is watery now too, eyes wet. “that-”

 

“that we want to be with you,” taehyung finishes, blinking at namjoon with those honey warm eyes. “if you’ll have us.”

 

the quiet between them is sudden, overwhelming. but it’s a different sort of quiet this time, not the kind that curls in namjoon’s belly, not the kind he’s grown to fear. this is a soft, gentle quiet. this is a quiet full of expectations, full of wonder, full of oh, they like me, too; they really do.

 

(this is a quiet full of love, namjoon thinks.)

 

“i’ll have you,” he whispers, except it comes out more like a sob, because it is a sob, because namjoon can’t quite believe this is happening, hadn’t ever let himself even imagine it. “i’ll have you, oh my god-”

 

and it ends, as it does, without any quiet at all. taehyung climbs into his lap and jeongguk presses kisses to his neck, and all three of them are crying and laughing and breathless, and it is absolutely, terrifyingly wonderful.

 

until of course, it isn’t.

 

/

 

now:

 

“you’re not together anymore?” namjoon asks faintly, thoughts stumbling around in his head like they’re drunk. “but - but why?”

 

taehyung lets out a laugh, this odd, ugly thing of a laugh. “how could we be? you left, hyung, and that -”

 

“it wasn’t his fault ,” jeongguk interrupts, glares at taehyung with such anger that even namjoon flinches. “i am so sick of you trying to blame him for what we did-”

 

“i wasn’t trying to blame him,” taehyung says quietly, sounds exhausted, as if they’ve had this argument countless of times. “i just wish that you would have talked to us a little more,” he turns to namjoon now, voice full of this terrible ache. “you know that, right, hyung? i don’t blame you at all.”

 

“that’s not what it fucking sounded like.” jeongguk mutters petulantly. he’s staring at whatever’s left in his mug, eyes this sort of obsidian black, anger heavy in his words. “i can’t believe this is happening.”

 

“jeongguk,” namjoon looks at him, and he sees jeongguk looking back, round glasses reflecting violet light. “it wasn’t anybody’s fault, gukkie, you know that, right? not mine, not taehyung’s, not yours.”

 

“then who’s?” jeongguk demands. he seems younger like this, hair pushed back in frustration, and for a fleeting second namjoon sees the kid in him again, this young thing with big eyes and too much trust. “ who?”

 

“sometimes,” namjoon begins, feels the quiet pull at his thoughts before he shoves it away, tells it no, not this time. “sometimes, things happen. people aren’t always meant to be together, jeongguk, yeah?”

 

“but not us,” jeongguk whispers, and he looks at taehyung, then at namjoon, wild. “that wasn’t ever supposed to be us, hyung, you said - you said taehyung was your sky and i was your stars and you, you were the moon-”

 

“i said a lot of things back then, jeongguk.” namjoon interrupts tiredly. the quiet seems heavier now, pulling at his thoughts, whisking between his bones, tangling together with all of his deepest fears. “not all of them were true.”

 

taehyung stands abruptly, a screech echoing when his chair grates against the floor. “take that back.” he says, and his lips are drawn tight, hurt spilled into every feature of his face. he yanks his sleeve up, voice so much softer now, words an aching tumble. “please. take that back, say you didn’t mean it-”

 

/

 

three years ago, when they were still happy

 

“you are so pretty,” taehyung breathes, trailing his fingers along the skin of namjoon’s belly, mouth following along, little kisses pressed into dimples. “namjoon hyung, you are so pretty, did you know?”

 

namjoon can barely breathe, with taehyung wrapped around him like this. jeongguk has his fingers threaded through namjoon’s hair, and every so often he’ll lean down, bite along the curve of namjoon’s ear, these tiny, gentle nips, as if he can’t get enough.

 

“joonie hyung,” jeongguk whispers, skims his fingers where taehyung did, swirls across his belly button, the delicate curve of his hip. “joonie hyung, say you’re pretty, go on, i wanna hear-”

 

“ ‘m pretty,” namjoon whispers, doesn’t quite believe it even though they’re his words. but jeongguk is looking at him with his dark, dark eyes, the silver hoops in his ears glimmering, and he looks absolutely lovely, a smile curling his mouth into this shy, gorgeous thing. “you - both of you, you make me feel so pretty.”

 

“good,” jeongguk leans down, bumps his nose gently with namjoon’s. “i like that.”

 

and then taehyung inches forward, presses his lips to namjoon’s burning skin, the space just where his ribs are, the place where all the quiet no longer seems to be, the place where ink is stitched, the letters dark, curling.

 

“moonchild,” whispers taehyung, and the light spilling across his face is warm, golden. honey and summer and chamomile tea, all things sweet. “namjoonie hyung, our gorgeous moonchild.”

 

namjoon shudders when taehyung traces the word with his tongue, leaves violets blooming along the edge of a letter. “i love you,” taehyung whispers, hands fit into the curve of namjoon’s waist, skin against skin, bare as can be. “i love you,  you and jeonggukkie, hyung, did you know?”

 

“love you, too,” jeongguk says shyly, and namjoon can’t see him like this, his head still in jeongguk’s lap, but their hands are all threaded together, and this moment is warm, so warm, heat curling in the very deep of his belly. “love you and taehyungie, with all my heart.”

 

and this is the first time, namjoon realizes. the first time they’ve all said it, the quiet nowhere to be found, lost in their love, the beat of their hearts.

 

“i love you both,” whispers namjoon, pulls at their hands until they’re all tangled together, doesn’t know where he begins and the other two end. “love you two so much, it aches.”

 

it’s a good ache though. a lovely one, settling deep in his bones, this heavy reminder that he’s not alone, not anymore.

 

later, namjoon tells them the meaning. tells them, all curled into each other on a bed just big enough to fit them, that he never felt so alone when it was just him and the moon and the whisper of his thoughts, dancing between them. tells them, that for a long, long while, he wasn’t okay but he is now, and they help.

 

tells them, quietly and full of wonder, that he always thought of the moon as lucky, because she was never alone, was she? she has the stars and she has the sky and the three of them are together, and isn’t that nice, namjoon whispers.

 

“it is,” taehyung says earnestly, and jeongguk nods on his other side, face tucked into the crook of namjoon’s neck.

 

“ ‘s really nice, hyung.” he mumbles, and then, just when namjoon’s thought he’s drifted off, “can i be your stars, joonie hyung?”

 

he sounds so sweet. so sweet and small and vulnerable, just shy of innocent, and the moment turns sweeter still when taehyung squirms on his other side, leans across and tweaks jeongguk’s ear playfully.

 

“if he gets to be your stars, then i want to be your sky.” taehyung tells him, returns to his side of the bed, swinging one leg over namjoon’s hip. “can i do that?”

 

namjoon laughs, this crackly laugh full of wonder and love and just a little bit of hurt. “you can be my stars,” he whispers to jeongguk, who blinks at him sleepily before pressing a kiss to namjoon’s throat, a little thank you all on it’s own. “and you can be my sky,” he tells taehyung, letting out a sigh when taehyung bites gently at the curve of his jaw, the hollow between his collarbones.

 

love you , namjoon thinks as he drifts off, smiling even in his sleep because he never once thought, never even dared to imagine, that he could be this sort of happy, the kind where it bursts out in an overwhelming flood of emotion. love you, the two of you, so much. my sky and my stars and everything in between.

 

/

 

now:

 

namjoon stares at taehyung’s wrist, the tattoo he has there. it’s small, just a crescent moo, the  middle coloured in with red and yellow petals, green leaves in between bits of black.

 

peonies , namjoon remembers distantly. jeongguk’s favorite flower.

 

“it wasn’t just for you, or for jeongguk.” taehyung says quietly, slumping into his chair with his head in his hands. “it was for me, too. for all of us.”

 

“taehyung-”

 

“you mean a lot to me, hyung.” taehyung interrupts, and now jeongguk is the one squeezing his hand, the two of them not looking at each other, but not looking at namjoon either. “it would be nice if i meant at least a little to you.”

 

and it’s  not fair, namjoon doesn’t think. it’s not fair that taehyung can look at him with those eyes, dark and helpless and a little sad, memories woven into the very center of them, and say these things.

 

it’s not fair at all.

 

finally, namjoon lets out a breath, staring at the ceiling with blank eyes. “you do,” he says, rubs tiredly at his eyes, apologetic. “you mean a lot to me, taehyung-ah. and jeongguk, too. you’re right, i didn’t mean what i said but i just -”

 

“you just what?” jeongguk asks, long fingers plucking anxiously at the napkin in front of him. he looks so small like this, so young. “you just what, hyung?”

 

“i have to go,” namjoon says, sees jeongguk flinch, taehyung looking back at him with those terrible, terrible eyes, aching.

 

“again?” taehyung asks, and the worst part of it all is that it isn’t even an accusation. he just sounds sad, a little hollow.

 

“no,” namjoon whispers, feels his heart ache at the look taehyung levels him with. “no, i just - i have a meeting with my publisher in ten minutes and my train is at 8 am tomorrow, but if you could give me a number, or an address, then i’ll come see you two before i leave.”

 

“i want to do it right, this time,” he adds, fiddling with his fingers anxiously. “please.”

 

jeongguk lets out a sigh, but there’s already a sharpie in his hand, and he’s pulling namjoon’s wrist towards him tiredly. “here,” he says, namjoon’s skin warm from his touch. “call me when you get out. i’ll be with taehyung, anyway. he was supposed to film for me today.”

 

(and that hurts, sort of. it shouldn’t, because namjoon left them , and they aren’t even together anymore, but it hurts, this awful, terrible hurt, twisting around his heart too tight, the threads pulled taught.

 

where the quiet is, namjoon thinks. the hurt twists together with the quiet, burning through his walls, and worst of all, namjoon has no one to blame but himself.)

 

“yeah,” he says, can’t look at jeongguk, can’t look at taehyung either. “yeah, i’ll do that.”

 

the quiet creeps back in, then. when namjoon walks out, the quiet follows him, latches onto his shoulder, folds around the curve of his body, and namjoon is tired enough that he lets it.

 

he welcomes the quiet, this time.



/

 

three years ago, when the quiet returns

 

namjoon has always been a quiet sort of person. his head is full of thoughts, too much, too often, and sometimes, sometimes , he wishes others could hear them.

 

but here, in this second,  he is terrifyingly relieved that only he can.

 

it aches, a little bit. the idea that the happiness could only last so long, the idea that it was too good to be true, aches. and maybe it wasn’t too good to be true, and maybe namjoon is the only one with these sort of thoughts, but he’s looking at jeongguk and taehyung, and they’re not looking back.

 

no, they’re looking at each other. that kind of soundless communication they have, the one that comes with years and years of being together, one that namjoon isn’t a part of.

 

he knows they’re worried about him. he knows they talk about him, has walked in on jeongguk and taehyung whispering before, unsure and concerned and upset, voices echoing around in his head long after they’ve faded.

 

(“do you think he’s okay? do you think he’s having trouble with a novel, or do you think he’s -”

 

“he just looks sad to me, gukkie. i don’t know how else to explain it; i’ll see him in the mornings sometimes, and he’ll look at me with so much hurt in his eyes, and it’s awful, that kind of sadness. it makes me wonder what we’re doing so wrong.”

 

“we’ll talk to him, taehyung, yeah?”

 

a quiet sniffle, and then taehyung’s voice, this soft, terrible hurt lingering in his every breath. “yeah, gukkie, we’ll talk to him.”)

 

except they never do. instead, they’ll tiptoe around him, glance fingertips across his waist, his shoulders, familiar places all along his body, their quiet curling into him, twisting with his own, full to the very brim.

 

and now, namjoon is looking at them and thinking, i am so, so sorry.

 

i am so, so sorry, for being selfish. i am so, so sorry, but i think i need to leave now. there is too much love in this place, and maybe some of it is for me, maybe some of it is my own, but i feel like it isn’t, and i am so, so sorry for that.

 

one day, maybe i’ll feel okay with you two. one day, i want to be able to look at you and tell you that i love you, the way i could in the beginning, before i remembered this kind of love isn’t meant for people like me.

 

people who think too much, too often, all the wrong things. people like me, who aren’t meant to be with people like you, and for that i am so, so sorry.

 

namjoon thinks all of this in his head, thinks it for days at a time, looks at jeongguk and taehyung and says, so quietly, that he’s tired of thinking at all.

 

“and i think,” he whispers, sitting around a table with them, a mug of tea clutched in his hand, “i think i need to go.”

 

there is crying; there is concern, and pleading, and a pitcher of tears, because there always will  be; and then of course, there is quiet.

 

a quiet full of hurt and sorrow and too many thoughts, terrible, awful thoughts, an echo of them bouncing around in his head.

 

i am so, so sorry.

 

/

 

now:

 

namjoon finishes with his publisher in an hour, and he texts jeongguk immediately, asks where can i meet you two, thinks please, let me meet you two.

 

unknown:

u can come by whenever hyung

me and tae are here for another couple of hours

:)

 

there’s an address attached, and it’s only a few minutes away by taxi, but namjoon walks, uses the half hour to breathe, in and out and then again and again and again, anxiety sitting just under his skin.

 

the walk is a pretty one, at least; winter in seoul is lovely, golden lights strung up along buildings, tiny flecks of snow fluttering gently all around him, and namjoon remembers when he would walk with jeongguk and taehyung, all three of their hands held together, warmth sifting between them.

 

(there wasn’t any quiet then, either. but its been so long, it feels like the quiet is all namjoon has left, but maybe it isn’t and maybe that’s why namjoon is doing this. he’s tired of the quiet, he thinks. so, so tired.)

 

jeongguk’s apartment is in one of the newer buildings, sleek and modern. namjoon knocks, this quiet melody he used to do whenever he’d come ‘round, feels his breath catching in his throat when the lock clicks open.

 

“hey, hyung,” jeongguk whispers, leaning against the doorway a little. he presses a finger to his lips and gestures behind him, to where taehyung is talking to a camera in a low, thoughtful voice. “come in, come in, just be quiet.”

 

namjoon nods, toeing off his shoes outside before carefully following jeongguk in. his apartment is warm, hints of sage and rosemary lingering in the air, all of jeongguk’s pieces bundled up in one, a familiar sort of warmth heavy around them.

 

“love is… love is kind, i think.” taehyung says carefully, and namjoon pauses, looks at him from where he’s still hidden behind a corner. there’s a certain kind of fondness in his voice, but it’s edged with hurt, sorrow.

 

“being in a relationship like ours wasn’t easy, but then again you have to ask yourself: is any relationship ever easy?   in the beginning,  i had trouble coming to terms with realizing that i could love two people like that at once, but it all sort of fell into place after i accepted it.”

 

next to him, jeongguk has his arms folded across his chest, protective. he’s quiet, staring at taehyung with an unreadable expression, but taehyung isn’t looking at either of them, still has his eyes focused on the camera instead.

 

“after hyung came into our lives, i remember thinking oh, so this is what they mean when they say love is kind. when it was just me and jeongguk it was good, because of course it was, and it never really felt like anything was missing, but with hyung it was like - a lot of things suddenly  fell into place, you know? i would come home and see them and think this, right here, this is what i want for the rest of my life. these are two people that i love, that love me too; this is my family.”

 

and taehyung’s voice turns softer now, a waver in his words. “but then i learned that some things aren’t meant to be forever. i learned that sometimes, people aren’t always going to be there for you, no matter how much you need them to be. i learned that these people will leave if they think they need to, and when they leave it’s like a part of you does, too.”

 

belatedly, namjoon realizes taehyung is crying. he sniffs, this quiet, wounded sound, full of an age old ache, withered and a little hurt.

 

“sorry, i just - i went off on a bit of a tangent there, didn’t i?”

 

“that’s okay,” jeongguk says quietly, kindly. “we can always edit it out.”

 

taehyung nods and then blinks once, twice, three times when he sees namjoon, as if he can’t quite believe it. “hi, hyung,” he says, in this small, small voice, curled in on himself. “your meeting went well, then?”

 

“it did, yeah,” says namjoon, feels a shiver run through him when jeongguk’s hand touches his arm, a brief, fleeting pressure. “um - what were you filming, just now?”

 

the quiet that falls over them is sudden, unexpected. jeongguk looks at taehyung and taehyung looks back at him, and then the two of them look at namjoon together, seem unsure and a little scared, even.

 

“gukkie has an assignment for one of his classes,” taehyung begins carefully, shrinking in on himself a little. “it, um-”

 

“it’s supposed to be centred around relationships,” jeongguk cuts in, seems tired when he says in. “the prof said we could pick any theme as long as it had to do with that, and polyamorous relationships aren’t very commonly explored, you know? a lot of people think that you should love one person, and that’s it, that’s all it should be, but - but it’s not. there are people like us, people with a lot of love to give, and i decided that - that this was what i wanted to do.”

 

“okay,” says namjoon eventually, his heart beating in his ears, an awfully erratic rhythm. “so you’re - you asked taehyung to interview for you?”

 

“not just me,” taehyung murmurs, folding his arms across his chest, protective. “he asked other polyamorous couples, too.”

 

“it’s divided into three parts,” jeongguk finishes quietly. “couples that are still together, that have been together for a few years at least, and then newer relationships, ones that aren’t very experienced with having more than one partner.”

 

“and the third part?” namjoon asks, pretends his throat isn’t as tight as it feels. “what’s that about?”

 

jeongguk lets out a breath, tucking into himself a little. “couples that aren’t together anymore,” he whispers. “ones that didn’t make it, for whatever reason.”

 

“okay,” namjoon says, and his heartbeat is bouncing around in his head now, clouding his thoughts. “would you want to interview me too, then?”

 

jeongguk blinks at him. “pardon?”

 

namjoon clears his throat, feels taehyung and jeongguk looking at him incredulously. “you interviewed taehyung, right? if you’re okay with it, i’ll answer any questions you have.”

 

“you don’t have to do that,” jeongguk begins, voice rougher than usual. “tae already-”

 

“i offered, didn't’ i?” namjoon interrupts, can see jeongguk flinch a little. “i have my side of the story too, you know.”

 

jeongguk looks at him for a long moment before letting out this sound, a soft acquiescence. “if you’re sure,” he says, “if you’re absolutely sure, then-”

 

“i’m sure,” says namjoon, keeps his voice firm when he echos his words from before. “i want to do it right, this time.”

 

“yeah.” jeongguk isn’t looking at him, has his shoulders all curled into himself. “yeah, okay, hyung. i’ll let tae finish filming and then we can do you?”

 

namjoon nods, settling into one of the armchairs while jeongguk fiddles with his camera before directing taehyung back to his stool.

 

“okay,” jeongguk says, looking at taehyung carefully, hesitance lingering in his words. “just - you already said most of what needed to be said, but if you could just finish the part about why we-”

 

“i got it, gukkie.” taehyung interrupts tiredly. he’s slumping where he sits, legs crossed at the ankle, folded in and curled up. “can we start now?”

 

jeongguk nods, gives namjoon this odd, unsure look. “whenever you’re ready, tae.”

 

“okay,” taehyung says, takes in a deep breath, eyes glimmering under the fairy lights. “after hyung left, me and jeonggukkie - we tried. we were both a little broken i think, partly because we didn’t really know what we’d done wrong and partly because someone we loved was suddenly gone. it was a lot, for us.”

 

the quiet that falls is still, unsure. taehyung lets out a breath, hesitance curling his features, looking so lost it aches.

 

“it was a lot.” he repeats, this soft little sound leaving him suddenly. “hyung left and we didn’t blame him for it, and because of that i think we blamed each other, just a little. wherever we went, whenever we were together, i would just continuously ask myself - is it because of this? is this what i did, that made this person - this kind, intelligent, lovely person - leave? were we too much for him, or were we not enough?”

 

and then, so quietly namjoon can barely hear him, “even now, i ask myself this. in the end, we just couldn’t do it - we would fight every day, and over the littlest things, too, and eventually, we decided it was better this way.”

 

taehyung blinks a few times, lets out this quiet little laugh, utterly empty. “i miss them, though.” he whispers, tilting his head to the side carefully. “every day, i miss them.”

 

jeongguk moves suddenly, rubbing the sleeve of his sweater across his face before  his fingers fold around the curve of taehyung’s shoulder, comforting. “thanks, tae.”

 

“of course,” says taehyung, and he turns his eyes to namjoon now, eyes glimmering with warmth under the dim lights. “you’re ready, hyung?”

 

namjoon nods, gathers himself when he switches places with taehyung, all of his limbs folded to fit on the little stool. he has a vague idea of what he wants to say, and is absolutely unsure of all of it and the quiet fills his bones now, swells along with the melody his heart, thoughts spiralling into a circle.

 

( i am so, so sorry , namjoon thinks, a little desperately. i won’t ever make you two feel like this again.)

 

he sucks in a breath. “ask me anything,” and it isn’t meant to be a whisper, but it is, it is .

 

jeongguk looks at him carefully, fiddles with his camera before letting his lips part, words tumbling out of him in a bit of a mess. “it’s just - it’s just general really, i mean - i just asked taehyung to talk about how the relationship was special to him-”

 

“- is special,” taehyung mutters under his breath, but jeongguk continues, acts as if he hadn’t heard.

 

“and, and what he misses now, what he wishes he could’ve done better, etcetera. you can start whenever you’re ready, hyung.”

 

his cheeks are red by the end of it, the tips of his ears flushed a pale pink. something in namjoon’s heart, deep and almost sunken, aches.

 

namjoon nods, sucks in a deep breath. “i think,” he begins, tilting his head a little, unsure, “that being with them, my partners - i think those were the most beautiful years of my life.”

 

from the couch, namjoon can hear taehyung let out this sound, not unlike a whimper. “all my life, i’ve felt alone.” he uses his hands as he talks, has one leg crossed over the other, caught in his own thoughts, now. “and people would tell me - they would always tell me: namjoon-ah, you talk too much. namjoon-ah, you think too much. namjoon-ah, you are too much.”

 

“hyung,” jeongguk begins, and namjoon can hear the waver in his voice already, the helplessness, but he doesn’t give jeongguk a chance, soldiers on instead.

 

“there’s a whale, actually.” says namjoon, letting out a little laugh, this soft thing full of bruised hurt. “singing at a frequency too high for any of the other whales to hear. for a long time, i felt like i was that whale; singing and singing and singing, without anyone there to listen at all.”

 

taehyung is crying, now. he’s sniffling, tucking into himself, eyes dark and wet, reflecting namjoon’s secrets back at him.

 

“and then i met them. i met them, my partners, and for the first time in my life i felt heard. i felt loved, because there was so much of it, so suddenly, too. and i think, really,” he says, voice quieter now, “that i couldn’t quite believe it.”

 

taehyung sniffles, just a little. his face is pressed into jeongguk’s shoulder, and one of jeongguk’s arm’s is wrapped around his waist, clinging tightly. namjoon’s heart aches quietly, and he can’t help but look at the two of them, think again, again, again: i am so, so sorry.

 

“that kind of love,” he says, clears his throat when it comes out too soft, too weak, “i always thought that that kind of love wasn’t meant for me. and i kept thinking that too - i would see them together, these two lovely, lovely people, and i would tell myself - you shouldn’t get used to this. please, do yourself a favor and leave them now, when it can’t hurt you as much. when it can only hurt as much as you let  it hurt.”

 

it was wrong of me, to think like that.” namjoon admits, and he looks at taehyung again, looks at jeongguk too, and they’re looking back, now. they’re looking at him with all the hurt he’s tried not to feel, that sort of quiet, terrible hurt, sitting just under his breastbone, a bruise too tender to touch.  

 

“they didn’t deserve that,” he says quietly, “and i didn’t deserve it either, but these things have a tendency to fester. i didn’t mean to be, but i was selfish when i was with them and i was selfish when i left.”

 

it takes namjoon a few seconds to realize his throat is tight, thick with regret. “and i think- i think i’m going to be a little selfish now, too.”

 

he turns towards jeongguk, turns towards taehyung, takes a deep breath  and asks as sincerely as he can, “can we talk?”

 

/

 

namjoon apoligizes.

 

it’s been a long time coming, he thinks. all three of them are sitting cross legged on the floor because the love seat is only big enough for two, and there’s a faded blue afghan draped over their laps, namjoon’s hands warm with the mug of tea he’s clutching.

 

(chamomile, with two spoons of honey. good for nerves.)

 

“you asked if we could talk,” taehyung says quietly, nudging namjoon’s ankle a little with his foot. “so talk.”

 

namjoon nods. carefully, quietly, he sets the mug on the floor and takes their hands instead, threads his fingers with theirs and gives each a brief, fleeting squeeze.

 

“i’m sorry.”

 

here, now, the quiet is back. it’s a different sort of quiet though; a bit gentler, a bit sweeter, curling heavy around namjoon’s thoughts, it’s oddly kind.

 

“it’s not enough, i know.” and it isn' t, it really isn't, it never could be, not with how terribly he left them that day. “but if you’ll give me a chance, i’d like to explain.”

 

jeongguk reaches out a hand, fingers curling carefully around namjoon’s knee, a whisper of a touch. “go on.”

 

he’s not looking at namjoon. taehyung isn’t looking at him either, but he’s nodding too, lips pressed into a thin line, utterly unreadable. “we’re listening.”

 

“i read somewhere,” namjoon begins hesitantly, “that we accept the love we think we deserve. and to be honest, i never really felt like i deserved the love you two gave me.” he whispers.

 

the quiet whistles gently in namjoon’s  ears, wraps around him in a lonely hug. “it wasn’t anything you did. really, i just kept telling myself that this wouldn’t work out. couldn’t work out, not when you  already had each other, when you didn’t need me-”

 

“why would you think that?”

 

it’s taehyung who asks. his voice is terribly soft, and his eyes are pools of liquid warmth, too dark, ink staining cotton.

 

namjoon takes his time answering. reflexively, his fingers curl around jeongguk’s, seeking comfort, finding familiar skin, hands he’s already held just as warm as ever.

 

“it wasn’t anything you did.” he repeats, because he wants to make sure they’re aware it isn’t anyone’s fault but his own. “but there were moments, i guess - where you two were really familiar with each other.”

 

namjoon shakes his head when taehyung’s lips part in what he can already tell is an apology. “please, let me finish. those moments were like gifts to me; it was like i was i was looking in from a window, learning who you both were, how you worked together.”

 

his voice turns quieter, now. “those moments were lovely, taehyung-ah.”

 

“but?” jeongguk asks, leaning forward, squeezing namjoon’s hand in his.

 

“but they made me feel a little like a stranger.” namjoon whispers, can remember just how awful it was when he realized they didn’t need him the way he needed them.

 

“joonie hyung,” jeongguk wraps himself around namjoon, face buried into the bend of his shoulder. “joonie hyung, ‘m sorry, we didn’t -”

 

namjoon lets out a sound, feels it cut  his throat like broken glass. “it’s really fine, gukkie.” he says, because he means it, because he needs them to hear it, because he doesn’t want this to go unsaid any longer.

 

“it was wrong of me, to leave the way i did. to leave without any warning, to just suddenly pack my things and run -”

 

“then why did you do it?” asks taehyung. he has his knees tucked into his chest, his chin tucked into his knees, oddly protective. “you could’ve tried to talk to us, you could’ve tried to explain, we kept - we kept asking you too, we could tell there was something wrong, but you still didn’t - you never even -”

 

“i know.” namjoon says. jeongguk’s grip tightens around his shoulders, and namjoon can feel every bit of him pressed tight to his body, all warm limbs and wandering hands, anxiously seeking affection. “and i wish i had an excuse, really i do. but taehyung-ah, i was terrified.

 

“i still am,” he adds, curls his fingers around jeongguk’s arms, craving touch. “you mean so much to me, you and jeongguk. it terrified me, just how much you meant.”

 

“i get lost in my head a lot,” namjoon whispers. “i think too much, too often.”

 

and he does. it’s an awful pattern, namjoon’s realized, wherein he thinks and thinks and thinks. he wants to cry in frustration sometimes, tear out his own hair and take a few sleeping pills for when his head is too much but instead, he does this.

 

he fucks up the good things he has because he thinks its better to do it on his own terms. he fucks up the good things he has, spends years berating himself because he knew it wasn’t right, knew he would regret it, does   regret it.

 

namjoon regrets a lot of things, but he really, really doesn’t want to regret this.

 

he tells taehyung and jeongguk as much. he talks until the early a.m, turns his voice hoarse and his thoughts into utter mush, but he tells them and he feels better for it at the end, finally having cleared a space for the quiet.

 

(the quiet, namjoon remembers suddenly, wasn’t always so terrible. it was an escape sometimes, an escape namjoon needed, one he specifically sought after because it could be gentle, could be kind, too. if there was space, then the quiet would gladly accept it, take care of it as its own.

 

the quiet, as all things do, yearns for acceptance.)

 

“i’m sorry,” he says again, knocking the syllables off his tongue one by one. they taste stale and awfully wretched, words he should’ve thrown out years ago.

 

it’s near 4 a.m, now. namjoon has a train back to busan in less than five hours, needs to go back to his empty hotel room and pack his stuff, do things he doesn’t want to do.

 

quietly, carefully, he picks himself up off the floor. his limbs ache from the movement, and he has to blink back the sleep once, twice, three times, dizzy from exhaustion.

 

“thank you for listening to me,” he whispers, because he has to leave, now. it’s near 4 a.m and he’s talked himself hoarse, and taehyung and jeongguk have barely said anything at all, but they listened to him, they heard him, and that’s all he really wanted.

 

(not everything. its not everything he wanted, but its enough, and he’ll take what he can get, namjoon will. this much is enough, he tells himself. it has to be enough. )

 

“hyung?”  taehyung’s hand is warm, namjoon thinks. it’s wrapped around the bare skin of namjoon’s ankle, a tentative hold, his fingers curling over the swell of bone ever so hesitantly.

 

“yes?”

 

“the interview,” taehyung whispers. he’s still sitting cross legged on the floor with jeongguk, the two of them looking up at namjoon so carefully it aches. ‘the last part, jeonggukkie didn’t wan’a ask you, didn’t want to make it seem like we were pressuring you-”

 

“did you miss us?” jeongguk asks, shrinks back a little when namjoon’s eyes find his. “when you left, when you were in busan, did you miss us?”

 

namjoon sinks to the floor gracelessly, catches one of their hands in each of his, echoes taehyung’s words from before. “every day,” he breathes, can barely keep his voice steady. “i miss you two every day, jeonggukie, you and tae both.”

 

it’s a little jarring, the force with which taehyung yanks his hand back. “you absolute ass,” he whispers and namjoon stares at him, lips parting in surprising when taehyung straddles his lap.

 

jeongguk is blinking at him too, looks just as taken aback as namjoon feels. “you come back here,” taehyung jabs him in the chest with a finger, eyes hard. “after three years. three years. three years of radio silence, three years of unanswered calls, three years of me asking jeonggukie what the fuck we  could’ve done so wrong, to have made you leave like that. and then you have the audacity to say you miss us?”

 

“i’m sorry,” namjoon says, hands unconsciously wrapping around taehyung’s waist like a faded memory. “but i meant it, tae-ah. i miss you two every day, and i’ll miss you tomorrow too, miss you the day after that, even. it’s what i do these days, you know? missing you guys is my favorite hobby.” he finishes, looks at taehyung with a small, wry smile.

 

jeongguk stays quiet, but his fingers curl around namjoon’s knee, squeezing lightly.

 

“you’re such a piece of shit.” taehyung sniffles, wipes a hand across his eyes angrily. “you fucking suck.

 

“i know.” namjoon squeezes taehyung’s waist in apology, sees one of jeongguk’s hands reaching out, threading together with one of taehyung’s own. “i know, tae-ah.”

 

“do you?” taehyung asks, looks so broken it aches. “i hate that you left me and jeonggukie like that, without any sort of explanation at all. i hate that you refused to talk to us, to tell us how you were feeling even when we asked. i hate that i think of you every day, every fucking day , even though it’s been three years.”

 

“i hate that i still love you.” he whispers, and jeongguk lets out a noise, a little sound of come here, it’s okay, i’ll keep you safe.

 

taehyung goes easily enough, falls out of namjoon’s lap and into jeongguk’s, the two of them looking at namjoon the way they had so many years ago, tangled together and unbearably hesitant.

 

the only difference is that here, now, namjoon is looking back.

 

he’s looking back and he’s seeing years worth of heartache, jagged pieces left shattered on the floor. he’s looking back and he’s seeing warm eyes, warmer hands, a place where the quiet has yet to take residence, just as afraid of them as namjoon is.

 

he’s looking back and he’s seeing taehyung and jeongguk, jeongguk and taehyung, two people he’s managed to fall in love with, stay in love with.

 

(two people he would very much like to love again, if given the chance)

 

“you still love me?” he asks, hears it as a distant echo, feels terribly dazed.”really?”

 

taehyung nods, lets out a sound not unlike a keen. jeongguk’s arms are tight around his waist, his chin resting in the dip of taehyung’s shoulder, warm eyes glimmering under the dim lights.

 

“me too,” jeongguk offers, voice so soft, shyly quiet. “you and taehyungie both, hyung.”

 

“you’re sure?” namjoon asks, doesn’t want to guess anymore. “you two - you still love me?”

 

“it doesn’t have to mean anything.” taehyung tells him, rests his chin on his knees, jeongguk’s hand held tightly in his. “not if you don’t want it to.”

 

“but if i do?” namjoon presses. “what then?”

 

“then it’s going to take time.” jeongguk whispers, fingers reaching out-out-out, petals in full bloom. “it’s going to take time and, and a lot of discussion, but-”

 

“but we’ll figure it out.” taehyung finishes, links his other hand with namjoon’s too, warm eyes steady on his. “okay?”

 

jeongguk strokes his thumb over a vein under namjoon’s skin, soft and gentle and achingly sweet, the same question written in his touch.

 

“okay,” namjoon whispers, feels the weight of their hands in his, keeping him steady, sure. “okay, yeah. let’s do it.”

 

and here, now, the quiet is back. the only difference is that it’s a little less terrifying, a little less mean and bitter than before. with the warmth of  taehyung’s eyes sinking into him, the touch of jeongguk’s hands pressing against him, namjoon thinks that maybe the quiet isn’t so bad, after all.

 

(maybe the quiet’s found a home now, too.)