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when taehyung wakes up, the first thing he notices is that it’s too goddamn bright.

he groans, squeezing his eyes shut. his head is fuzzy, thoughts slow and sticking together like syrup. thinking hurts, moving hurts. existing hurts. he goes to throw an arm over his face, determined to block out as much light as possible, but something sharp pulls painfully at his forearm and keeps him in place. taehyung yelps, fingers twisting up in starchy sheets.

a cool hand settles over his forehead, gently brushing at strands of hair. “tae, buddy, it’s an IV, okay? you can’t jerk your arm around like that.”

“hobi?” taehyung murmurs, tilting his head towards the voice.

“hey, yeah, it’s me. i’m going to get a nurse, okay? i’ll be right back.”

“no,” taehyung moans sadly, bottom lip jutting out into what he hopes is a convincing pout. somewhere above him, hoseok laughs quietly. “i dunno where i am, you gotta stay.” his voice is slurred, and it’s a struggle to keep his eyes open, so he stops trying.

“okay, okay,” hoseok says quietly. he drops a quick kiss to the crown of taehyung’s head and murmurs, “joon, can you--”

“yeah, stay put.” it’s namjoon’s voice, clear and deep and comforting. taehyung sighs and sinks a little farther into the pillows. “i’ll be right back.” namjoon leaves, sharp footsteps echoing around in taehyung’s head like a boomerang.

“hyung,” he asks, feels hoseok’s other hand tighten over his. “wha’ happened?”

hoseok clears his throat, and his voice sounds a little strained when he speaks. “you were in an accident. you hit your head pretty bad and fucked up a few ribs.”

“no,” taehyung whines, drawing the word out. they start their first tour next week, there’s no way he’ll be able to heal in time. he’s going to fuck up their whole trajectory, this steady incline they’ve managed to secure, all because of some stupid accident--

“hey, hey, calm down.” hoseok tries to keep his voice soothing but there’s an underlying note of panic that spikes taehyung’s anxiety. somewhere to his right there’s an incessant beeping noise, getting faster and faster, perfectly in time with the way taehyung’s heart is trying to pound its way out of his chest. “taehyung, please.”

“the tour,” taehyung manages, eyes shut tight over unshed tears.

“there’s no tour,” hoseok assures him, fingers threading carefully through taehyung’s hair, “we’re on a break. we’ve been recording, remember? you have plenty of time to get better--”

“recording?”

there’s a quiet knock on the door, followed by a soft hey that taehyung immediately recognizes as yoongi. he forces his eyes open, sees yoongi standing with a nurse, namjoon and jeongguk close behind, but it’s not--it’s not--

taehyung blinks rapidly, tilts his head to look at hoseok. he’s sitting on the edge of the hospital bed, one hand wrapped around taehyung’s and the other still gently stroking his hair, but he’s--he’s older, and his hair is blonde where it should be light brown. taehyung squints at him, tries to make sense of the sharper face, the faint smile lines.

“what the fuck,” taehyung whispers.

“hey, kid,” yoongi says quietly, stepping closer. taehyung’s head snaps toward him so quickly it hurts, hoseok’s hand falling out of his hair. yoongi’s hair is midnight black, long enough to curl at the ends. tattoos peek out from underneath his jacket sleeves. “how’re you feeling?”

“like i got hit by a car,” taehyung says before he can stop himself. yoongi lets out a sharp bark of laughter, head falling forward, smile impossibly fond. he looks older, happier. more settled.

how long has taehyung been asleep?

“hobi,” taehyung whispers. he licks his lips, eyes flitting between him and yoongi, “hyung, i think--”

the nurse steps forward, smiling kindly. “hello,” she greets, “it’s good to see you up and talking.” she checks the screen above him, fixes his IV where he’d tugged it out of place, and taehyung lets himself stare openly at namjoon and jeongguk. namjoon looks mostly the same, a little bit taller, maybe. he holds himself differently, confidently, but his eyes are still kind and his smile still makes taehyung feel safe. jeongguk, on the other hand--

jeongguk is taller than joon and broader, too. he’s grown into his nose and his dark hair hangs in loose waves, longer than taehyung’s ever seen it. he looks like an adult, features more defined, baby fat gone. taehyung sucks in a breath, tries to reconcile with the fact that his little brother has quite literally turned into someone else overnight.

the heart monitor spikes in tempo and taehyung feels his chest tighten. it hurts to breathe deeply but there’s not enough air in the room--

“jimin,” taehyung gasps out, tears flowing freely down his cheeks, “jiminie. where’s jimin?”

yoongi closes the distance between them in the space of a heartbeat, taking taehyung’s face in both of his hands. “jin took jimin home to shower and change,” yoongi says, voice calm and direct. taehyung nods helplessly. “he’s coming right back. jimin will be right back.”

“i don’t--i’m not--why are you all older?” taehyung asks, voice breaking. “hyung, how old are you?”

something unrecognizable flashes in yoongi’s eyes, but it’s gone before taehyung can decipher it. yoongi exchanges a look with hoseok before returning his gaze to taehyung. his voice is gentle when he asks, “what year is it, tae?”

taehyung swallows hard, says, “2015?” it comes out like a question, because suddenly he’s not so sure.

“shit,” jeongguk says.

--

amnesia.

he smashed his head against a dashboard and ended up with amnesia, like some fucking drama. the year is 2021, and taehyung is missing six whole years of his life.

he listens to the doctors, follows along as best as he can because he is still very much concussed. jeongguk holds his hand the entire time, squished onto the bed and curled up against taehyung’s side despite how much bigger he is now. still, his head on taehyung’s shoulder feels a lot like home and he leans into it, squeezes jeongguk’s hand back just as hard.

namjoon, yoongi, and hoseok are huddled together just behind the doctor, listening intently and nodding in all the right places, so taehyung allows himself to zone out. his head hurts and he’s so tired and he figures that his hyungs can fill him in on whatever he misses.

besides, he knows the most important thing. his mind is nineteen but his body is twenty-five. he can’t remember anything past 2015, but the band is still together so he figures everything turned out okay.

he’s itching to see jimin, though. he needs his best friend like he needs his next breath.

jeongguk checks his phone, starts tapping out a message with his free hand. the screen is too bright for taehyung to look at, so he shoves his face into jeongguk’s hair and whispers, “is that jiminie?”

“yeah, hyung,” jeongguk says, “he and jin are on their way back.”
taehyung nods, which accidentally results in him nuzzling jeongguk’s head because of their positioning. he sighs and closes his eyes, because when his eyes are shut he can pretend everything is normal. that the hushed voices are just his hyungs whispering a room over in the crowded dorm. by the time he falls asleep, he’s almost managed to convince himself he’s back in his own bed, in his own time.

--

the next time taehyung wakes up, he’s alone.

the room is fuzzy, sharp edges blurred into soft lines. he’s probably drugged to the gills right now, doped out on pain meds, because his body aches less and there’s no longer an ice pick stabbing at his temple every time he moves his head. he feels floaty, but his exhaustion is bone deep and keeps his limbs pinned to the bed.

he lets his head loll towards the open door. whispers float inside, rushed and frantic. the heart monitor beeps steadily, filling the stagnant air with signs of life. taehyung’s life, to be exact, which--shit, he almost died, didn’t he?

nothing has had a chance to sink in. he’s been awake for a grand total of twenty minutes today, and everything he’s learned has been overwhelming and horrible and so incredibly terrifying. he almost died, was unconscious for three entire days, and woke up without any memory of the past six years of his life. it feels like a bad movie, one that taehyung desperately wants to turn off. he wants to squeeze his eyes shut and click his heels and magically appear home, where things make sense.

he hears the heart monitor start to pick up before he actually feels his heartbeat pounding. he’s disconnected, out of it--his body isn’t his, and neither is his mind, not anymore. taehyung presses a hand to his chest, tries to keep everything he’s feeling from spilling out. the sob that rips out of his throat surprises even him, tears flowing like rivers down his cheeks.

someone curses and runs through the door, nearly tripping over themselves to get to the hospital bed, but taehyung can’t see through his tears and the headache threatening to crack his skull open. he gasps out another breath and feels the sting of his bruised ribs. fresh tears prick at the backs of his eyes and he squeezes them shut, presses his face into the pillow and groans, hiccupping and snotty and so, so pathetic.

a small hand falls into his hair, the other reaching out to cup his cheek, and taehyung feels a forehead press softly against his temple. “taehyung-ah, sweetheart, please calm down. you’re okay, you’re okay. you’re safe.”

the relief that floods through taehyung is almost tangible. “jimin,” he sobs, leaning into the touch, fingers grasping at the front of jimin’s shirt like a lifeline. jimin moves back just enough for taehyung to turn his head so they can press their foreheads together and breathe.

“i’m here, tae. i’m here, i’m sorry,” jimin whispers, thumb brushing away tears as they fall. taehyung shudders against him, trying to move impossibly closer, until jimin decides to forgo all hospital formality and climb onto the bed. taehyung scoots over, arms reaching out instinctively. jimin settles carefully beside him, one arm placed gently over taehyung’s stomach in order to huddle as close as possible. “i’m so sorry,” jimin hiccups, sniffling, “taehyung-ah, i’m so sorry i wasn’t here--”

“stop, don’t,” taehyung murmurs, “hobi-hyung said you hadn’t slept or showered or ate in three days, jimin-ah, you can’t do that--”

“you were unconscious,” jimin manages through a sob, fingers tightening in the fabric of taehyung’s hospital gown. “you wouldn’t wake up, i couldn’t leave, i was so scared--”

“i’m okay,” taehyung promises softly. he uses his free hand to wipe at jimin’s cheeks with his thumb. “i’m okay, i’m awake.”

“you don’t remember,” jimin says, and its quiet, mournful. his eyes find taehyung’s, searching.

taehyung closes his eyes and breathes. jimin smells the same, flowery and sweet. he uses the same shampoo, six years later. “i remember that you’re my best friend,” taehyung says, “that’s all i need to know.”

--

taehyung stays in the hospital for three days after he wakes up, and jimin stays at his bedside the entire time. their fingers intertwine over the stiff hospital sheets, jimin’s thumb rubbing almost absentmindedly over the back of taehyung’s hand. it hurts to know that even now, all these years later, he’s still hopelessly in love with his best friend who has shown absolutely no sign that they’re anything more.

what’s worse, taehyung’s feelings are--amplified, almost, the need to be close and to touch. taehyung figures that it makes sense; after six years, loving jimin must be second nature, and his body understands when his mind doesn’t.

something is off, though. he’s seen jimin whispering to the doctors, to the hyungs and to jeongguk, sees the way the nurses stumble over his last name like it’s foreign to them. everyone’s being so careful, too careful, and it’s annoying, so he’s made it his mission to try and trip them up. he asks rapid fire questions despite the doctor’s strict orders to ease him into this new reality, pushing and prodding until his more susceptible friends crack under the pressure.

they’re hiding something, all of them, and taehyung is sure as hell going to figure out what.

“are you sure bangtan didn’t break up?” he asks, trying to keep his voice casual. namjoon promptly chokes on his coffee. “you guys are acting weird.”

seokjin takes pity on him, smacking his back helpfully. “nope,” he answers cheerfully, “we’re doing pretty fucking great, to be honest.”

taehyung squints suspiciously. “i’m twenty-five, right?”

“correct.”

“am i seeing anybody?”

namjoon chokes again, and jin presses his lips into a tight line. taehyung opens his mouth to press further, tamping down on a flare of annoyance that they know more about his life than he does, when jimin knocks lightly on the doorframe. he’s beaming, smile sweet and radiant, and taehyung’s heart clenches uncomfortably in his chest.

jimin is--jimin is beautiful, always has been, but--he’s twenty-six now and he’s grown into himself, confident and heart-wrenchingly stunning. his hair is white-blonde and so fluffy taehyung itches bury his face in it, cheekbones sharp and jaw angular. he looks like a prince, or a god, or an angel, maybe. otherworldly. he holds himself differently, like he’s settled into his bones and found comfort, found closure. he looks healthy and happy. glowing, underneath all the stress and fluorescent lighting.

but god, does taehyung miss jimin’s cheeks.

“taehyungie,” jimin sings, dropping down gracefully into the chair beside taehyung’s bed, “you’re being discharged. time to go home, sweetheart.”

an hour later, taehyung finds himself settled gently into a wheelchair, his best friends huddled around him in the tight hallway. jimin’s pushing him, pressing soft kisses to the crown of his head every so often as a reminder that he’s there. an anchor. taehyung shifts uncomfortably, ribs sore and unforgiving. on reflex, he reaches out to twist--

taehyung frowns, looks down at his hands. there should be something there to touch and fiddle with, but taehyung cannot for the life of him remember what it is. he thinks as hard he can, searching and reaching for something that isn’t there until his head starts to hurt and his vision swims.

“we have to go out the back,” jimin tells him as they wait for the elevator, hands brushing softly at taehyung’s hair.

taehyung furrows his brow in confusion. “why?”

yoongi laughs from somewhere behind him. “we’re, uh. we’re a little more popular than we were six years ago.”

security meets them at the back entrance, tight-lipped and firm looking. taehyung’s eyes widen, and jeongguk hands him a sleek black face mask. jimin helps him put it on because his range of movement is still abysmal, muscles weak and strained from a wreck he doesn’t remember. something warm curls in his stomach as he watches jimin gently pull strands of hair out from behind the mask, so close and focused and impossibly careful. without thinking, taehyung reaches up to press the pads of his fingers to jimin’s cheek.

he feels his own eyes go wide as he starts to panic, ready to withdraw his hand. but jimin only sighs and leans into the touch, soft smile playing over a breathtaking face. “let’s get you home, yeah?” jimin asks, voice fond. taehyung swallows and nods.

jin gives him a pair of sunglasses and a knowing look, and taehyung finds relief in hiding behind the mask.

one of the security guards approaches them, bowing lightly. “there’s some press outside, a few fans. nothing too crazy, but enough that we’d like to keep a wide berth between taehyung-ssi and the crowd.”

crowd? taehyung frowns, twists in his seat to ask someone, anyone what the fuck that means, when the back doors are pushed open and the screaming starts.

instinctively, taehyung ducks his head, suddenly and intensely thankful for the sunglasses. cameras flash relentlessly, people are screaming his name, and his head is pounding in the worst way. namjoon holds out a hand and taehyung takes it gratefully, tightening his grip as they make their way towards the large black van waiting at the curb.

“taehyung-ssi! over here!”

“hey! v! how’s the head?”

“fucking vultures,” jimin mutters under his breath. he reaches down to help taehyung stand up, an arm wrapped carefully around his waist. taehyung clutches at jimin’s other arm, leaning heavily against his best friend despite the ache in his ribs. standing and moving and even thinking just sort of hurts, so he mindlessly lets jimin guide him with gentle hands.

“jimin-ssi, how are you and your--”

jimin slides the van door shut with a little more force than necessary. a moment later, the rest of the boys file in from the other side. they leave the space beside taehyung for jimin, who threads their fingers together and whispers, “you okay?” his concern is palpable, eyes wide and searching.

taehyung smiles weakly. “m’gonna be.”

jimin lifts their linked hands to his mouth and kisses taehyung’s knuckles, featherlight. taehyung stares at jimin’s bare fingers and thinks something’s missing, frowns involuntarily. jimin mistakes the look and flushes, gently releases taehyung’s hand and folds his own in his lap. his eyes find the window and they stay quiet for the rest of the ride, taehyung left feeling inexplicably empty.

--

“we live here?” taehyung demands, eyes moving up, up, up. “no, seriously. you’re not fucking with me? we live here?”

“mhm,” jin hums, “home sweet home.”

the house, dorm, mansion is settled on top of a steep hill, driveway winding down its side like a river. it’s stunning and stupidly opulent, with large bay windows and a front porch that wraps all the way around, balconies and a rooftop garden. taehyung doesn’t think his mouth closes once on the entire ride up.

they get the wheelchair set up as jimin gingerly helps taehyung out of the car, paying close attention for any indication he’s in pain. he’s wheeled up the long expanse of pavement, through the front door. they’re out in the middle of nowhere and the view of breathtaking, trees and sky as far as the eye can see. his fingers itch to pick up a brush, to immortalize everything he’s feeling right now--

taehyung blinks. “do i paint now?”

hoseok gasps, which feels really dramatic. one of jimin’s little hands settle over taehyung’s shoulder, squeezing lightly. namjoon clears his throat, and it sounds like he’s smiling when he says, “yeah, tae. you do. really well, actually.”

taehyung frowns. “huh.”

“that big ol’ brain of yours is remembering things already,” jin says fondly. his tone is light, but there’s something heavy behind the words. “our taehyungie is so smart.”

taehyung turns in his seat just in time to see jimin press a hand over his mouth, eyes watering. he tries to smile when he catches taehyung watching. “so, um,” jimin sniffles, turns away to gesture down a long hallway. “your room’s down that way. figured we can get you set up with your pain meds and let you rest, since they’re going to knock you out as soon as you take them.”

taehyung nods wordlessly, eyes wide and wandering over the foyer that leads into an open living room, modern and cozy with a gigantic fireplace and the softest looking couches taehyung’s ever seen. the hardwood floors gleam underneath him, spotless, and taehyung is struck by the ridiculous thought that his wheelchair is going to scuff them. above the fireplace is a ridiculously large tv, pictures and awards lining the mantle--

“hold up,” taehyung squeaks, “is that a grammy?”

“yes it is,” yoongi says proudly, chest puffed out and shoulders rolled back. taehyung can only stare. he twists in his seat, trying to take in as much of the house as he can because what the fuck, this is insane--

taehyung lets out a pained hiss as his ribs protest the movement, knocking the breath right out of him. jimin is there in a second, kneeling down in front of the chair with one hand on each of taehyung’s knees. “pain meds and rest,” he says, soft but firm. taehyung nods back weakly.

jeongguk wheels him down the hallway, past several closed doors and a bathroom that’s bigger than taehyung’s room at his parents' house. jimin opens a door near the end, steps out of the way as taehyung is pushed inside. the room--taehyung’s room, he reminds himself--is warm and bright, white walls lined with art and photographs, accents of yellow and orange. there’s a reading nook beneath a large window, overflowing shelves covered in novels and art supplies, an empty easel in the corner beside a steadily growing laundry pile. taehyung is hit by the sudden and overwhelming feeling of home.

jimin and jeongguk help him into bed, silk sheets rustling underneath him. “can you go get a glass of water, gukkie?” jimin asks quietly, pulling the comforter up over taehyung like he’s done it a million times. maybe he has. taehyung wouldn’t know.

jeongguk disappears back down the hallway, and jimin’s gaze settles on taehyung. “hey,” taehyung says, attempting a smile. he pats the giant expanse of bed next to him, asks, “lay with me?”

jimin hesitates just long enough that a lump starts to form in taehyung’s throat. he wants to take it back, laugh it off, but then jimin’s climbing onto the bed and settling a few inches away. his hair fans out over the pillow, pretty lips open in a soft pout. taehyung swallows and stares, unwilling and unable to look away. jimin offers him a quiet smile and reaches out, brushes a strand of hair out of taehyung’s eyes.

“how are you feeling?”

“weird,” taehyung answers, voice wobbly, “and a little overwhelmed. this is--this is everything i’ve ever wanted, but i can’t remember getting here.”

jimin’s smile falters for a moment, eyes red-rimmed and a little puffy. taehyung wonders what he’s thinking, and the thought sends a jolt through him. he’s always been able to read jimin like an open book, has never once had to question how or what he’s feeling, but now--now, jimin feels so far away, the space between them cavernous and impossible to cross.

“you’ll remember,” jimin murmurs with a quiet sort of certainty and a determined set to his jaw.

taehyung shrugs as best as he can while he’s lying down, halfway twisted towards his best friend, trying desperately to close the gap. “feels off,” he says, lets his eyes fall shut. “like something’s missing.”

jimin’s hand closes around taehyung’s and squeezes, but he doesn’t respond. jeongguk returns a few moments later, barely batting an eyelash at their position. taehyung takes the pills and drinks the water when they’re given to him, lying back down with a muted groan. jimin and jeongguk whisper somewhere to his right, hushed and hurried, but the pills work quickly and taehyung is too groggy to listen.

jeongguk disappears some time later with a soft kiss to taehyung’s cheek, leaving him and jimin alone.

“go to sleep, taehyungie,” jimin says quietly, hand trailing absentmindedly through wavy hair.

taehyung forces his eyes open, feeling listless and floaty. there’s no pain, but there isn’t much else either. all he can see is jimin, beautiful and soft but not close enough for taehyung’s comfort. he whines softly, tries to press himself against jimin, but his body is too numb to listen.

“what do you need, sweetheart?” jimin asks, lips brushing lightly over taehyung’s forehead.

taehyung hums contentedly. “you,” he answers, as easy as breathing. “just you.” jimin makes a wounded, choked little noise, forehead pushed gently against taehyung’s temple. taehyung tilts his head until they’re nose to nose. through heavy, half-lidded eyes, taehyung watches jimin smile. “pretty,” he breathes, unbidden warmth spreading through him like wildfire, “do i still tell you that you’re pretty?”

jimin laughs wetly. “every day.”

“good,” taehyung says, and lets himself succumb to the darkness pulling at him.

--

taehyung wakes up to an empty bed, jimin’s side still warm.

he scoffs at himself. jimin’s side, like they share the bed, as if taehyung would be so fucking lucky. he sits up and shakes his head, which turns out to be a huge mistake because he is still very much concussed. taehyung hisses out a sharp breath, which in turn hurts his ribs.

in short, everything is terrible.

worst of all, he has to pee. there’s laughter coming from down the hall, the smell of pancakes wafting in through the cracked bedroom door. he could yell and hope someone hears him, interrupt breakfast because he’s helpless and pathetic and a general nuisance, or he could walk the ten feet to the ensuite and hope to god he doesn’t fall.

taehyung makes his mind up quickly, wiggling towards the edge of the bed until his feet touch the floor. his toes curl in the soft carpet and he sighs, aching with familiarity that he doesn’t remember gaining. it takes a full minute, but his weak arms push him up onto wobbly legs, swaying a little before regaining his balance.

“okay,” taehyung mutters to himself, “you didn’t forget how to fucking walk. just move.”

the pep talk is ultimately unhelpful. taehyung knows how to move, but his body is refusing to work with him. it hurts, every movement sending sharp shocks of pain through his spine, his legs, his shoulders. taehyung looks down, sees the bruises littering his arms, jagged little cuts marring his hands. for the first time, he understands exactly why the rest of the band was so emotional when he first woke up--his body is all kinds of fucked, and they were right to worry. still, taehyung pushes on.

he makes it all the way to the dresser closest to the bathroom door--and why does he need two dressers, anyway?--before heaving out a deep breath and pausing. his legs are shaking wildly and he thinks that if he has to stand for another minute he might actually collapse, so he slowly lowers himself to the floor. by the time his butt hits the ground, he’s heaving from exertion.

“cool,” he mutters, “cool.”

taehyung leans back until he’s lying flat on the carpet, staring at the ceiling. this is his home for the foreseeable future. he lives here now. he will probably die here.

the foreseeable future ends up being about two minutes, because yoongi stumbles upon just as taehyung has resigned himself to his fate. “shit,” he curses, running forward. he calls for jimin, yells for him, and taehyung flinches away from the sound. footsteps pound down the hallway lightning fast, and then jimin’s kneeling beside him, hands cupping his jaw. yoongi appears on his other side, face pinched in concern.

“tae?” jimin asks in a rush, hands sweeping over taehyung’s face, shoulders, hair. “did you fall? what happened?”

taehyung shakes his head miserably, bottom lip pushed out into a pout. “didn’t fall,” he mutters, unwilling to look jimin in the eye. “i had to pee, but walking is hard, so i laid down.” his voice is small, ashamed.

“sweetheart,” jimin whispers, fingers tracing gently over taehyung’s forehead. then, to yoongi, “hyung, could you give us a second?”

yoongi nods and stands, but not before patting taehyung’s knee. taehyung stares at the white expanse of ceiling and listens to him leave.

“do you wanna get up, or do you wanna stay down here?”

taehyung takes a moment to seriously consider his options.

“i don’t want to pee my pants,” he says, and jimin nods agreeably.

“good call, because i really don’t want to scrub pee out of the carpet.” jimin pauses, tilts his head. “i would, for you, but i really don’t want to.”

taehyung laughs. “my hero,” he says, fondness seeping into his tone. the sun’s coming in through the cracks in the curtains, blanketing jimin in a warm light. he looks like an angel, soft and sweet, smiling down at taehyung like he’s something precious. love, tender and all-consuming, curls up in taehyung’s chest and stays there.

he wants. god, does he want.

but it’s been six years. six years, and jimin still isn’t his.

-

the first time taehyung gets a good look at himself, it’s nine full days after his accident.

in the bathroom mirror, he sees that his bottom lip is split down the middle, scabbed over after days of healing. there’s a bruise flowering yellow-green-brown over his left cheekbone, spreading up to the corner of his eye. there’s a stitched gash just above his right eyebrow, angry and red. he wonders if it’s going to scar, fear coiling hot in the pit of his stomach. so much of his career depends on his face.

taehyung’s body is sore, but growing stronger every day. he can walk short distances by himself, though the stairs are a feat he is not quite ready to conquer, so the upstairs portion of the house--his home--remains a mystery.

jimin does most of the caretaking. it’s not that the others don’t help, because they do. jeongguk stays up late with him, keeping him company when the rest of the boys fall asleep. jin cooks his favorites for every meal, showing his love in the best way he knows how--food. yoongi reads to him, voice soft and soothing, because taehyung’s concussion prevents him from looking at screens or reading or doing anything, really. hoseok is a constant ray of sunshine, seemingly having a sixth sense for when taehyung’s starting to feel overwhelmed and swooping in to save him at just the right time. namjoon answers his relentless questions, catching him up on the six years of pop culture he’s missing with a quiet patience and a warm smile.

but it’s jimin’s arm around his waist, supporting him when he wants to walk to the kitchen instead of lugging his wheelchair out, and it’s jimin who washes his hair when he needs to take a bath because showers just aren’t in the cards right now. jimin, who doesn’t sleep until taehyung’s comfortably in bed. jimin, who manages his pills like clockwork and holds him steady from behind while he pees because his legs still sometimes give out from strain. jimin, who is so attuned to every little noise and intake of breath taehyung could possibly make, understanding what he needs before he himself can figure it out.

it should be embarrassing, relying so heavily on someone like this. if it were anyone else, he’d feel like the worst kind of inconvenience. but it’s jimin--kind, sweet, patient jimin, who never lets him see anything other than a smile but cries when he thinks taehyung is asleep.

he wishes desperately that he understood what jimin needs from him, because jimin keeps giving and taehyung keeps taking and god, it must be exhausting. sometimes, he catches the other boys looking at them with such a deep sadness that it aches. he wants to know how to fix it, how to get better so he can make jimin’s smile stick around a little bit longer.

now, he’s curled up against jimin on the couch, head pillowed against his best friend’s shoulder. his eyes are closed because the tv is on and it hurts to look at it for too long. he tries to pour all the love, the gratitude he’s feeling into the press of his lips against jimin’s cloth-covered collarbone, and receives a soft kiss on the forehead for his efforts. it comes so natural, this easy affection, and taehyung wonders what his body remembers that his mind doesn’t.

jimin’s scrolling through his phone, brow pinched. taehyung can’t look at the screen without wincing, so he asks, “what’s wrong?” it’s muffled against jimin’s hoodie.

“we’ve been a little awol on social media since--” jimin clears his throat and looks away. taehyung’s fingers twist in his sweatshirt. “the fans want an update.”

from the loveseat, jeongguk lets out a low whistle. “they’ve been antsy as fuck.”

“watch your mouth, you’re twelve,” taehyung mutters.

“i’m literally 23.”

“jesus.” taehyung throws an arm over jimin’s stomach, nearly knocking the phone out of his hand. “don’t remind me.”

jimin’s free hand moves up to run his fingers through taehyung’s hair. “my taehyungie,” he whispers, just for the two of them. taehyung shivers and presses impossibly closer.

the sound of a camera shutter goes off. taehyung lifts his head, blurry eyes settling on jeongguk. his phone--which is like, ridiculously high-tech compared to the shit taehyung had in 2015--is in his hands, aimed at them. “i’ll post an update. show them that hyung’s okay,” jeongguk says, typing away the screen.

after a moment, he leans over to show jimin what he’s written. taehyung catches a glimpse of the picture--him, curled tight against jimin’s side and jimin, face turned towards taehyung, fingers playing in loose brown curls. the picture feels intimate, private, something taehyung would never normally be allowed to post, and he’s confused.

they’ve always been this close, this touchy, even before taehyung started to feel something more, but they were always told to downplay it. don’t give the fans any strange ideas. now, though--now, jeongguk’s posting it like it’s nothing, and jimin is nodding approvingly, unphased.

“what’s the caption say?” taehyung asks, frowning.

jeongguk clears his throat dramatically. “taetae is at home and feeling much better!” he reads. “and then i added a million hearts, and the hashtag.”

“hashtag?”

“it’s cute, the fans have been trending it for like a week. we love you pa--” he cuts himself off abruptly, clears his throat. “uh, we love you kim taehyung. y’know, sweet and simple.”

taehyund nods, uninterested, because something else has caught his eye. there’s a chain around jimin’s neck, shiny and silver against soft pale skin, hidden beneath the fabric of his hoodie. taehyung’s drawn to it, wants to pull it out and inspect it. he reaches out, hands snaking up jimin’s middle--

jimin catches his wrist, eyes wide and panicked. they stare at each other for a long moment, unable to speak or move. jeongguk coughs uncomfortably, tries to make himself as small as possible, which doesn’t quite work because jeongguk’s shoulders are almost as wide as jin’s now.

“jiminie?” taehyung asks, uncertain.

“sorry, sorry, i--” jimin pauses, lets go of taehyung’s wrist so he can thread their fingers together instead. “i’m sorry, taehyung-ah, i just--can’t,” he finishes lamely, offering no further explanation.

and taehyung--taehyung hates that there’s something between them, something that jimin feels he can’t share. the bad thoughts come and they don’t stop--what if something happened to them in the six years taehyung can’t remember, and jimin is just latching onto the ghost of his best friend? what if--

but jimin wouldn’t do that. jimin wouldn’t take advantage of the shit situation taehyung’s found himself in for personal gain. so taehyung just has to trust that whatever jimin’s hiding, it’s for the best.

“it’s okay,” taehyung whispers. fingers lightly brush his bangs out of his face, achingly gentle. taehyung closes his eyes. “it’s okay. i trust you.”

the relief in jimin’s gaze is almost palpable. “thank you.”

“of course,” taehyung murmurs, head falling against the dip of jimin’s shoulder. he breathes in the familiar scent, and wonders if he’s making the right choice.

--

two days later, taehyung’s curled up in bed, listening to the fifth harry potter audiobook. jimin’s next to him, phone hovering precariously over his face as he lies flat on his back. taehyung watches his facial expressions as he texts, sees the word eomma flash across the screen. taehyung’s healing slowly but surely, bruises fading into clear skin. he’s been to physical therapy twice and he’s finally able to walk on his own, minor aches and pains notwithstanding. still, jimin hovers, hands floating above his waist, waiting to catch him if he falls. he never does, but knowing that jimin’s there, supportive and careful, means more than he knows how to articulate.

his head is still all kinds of fucked up, memories leaking into dreams like water until taehyung’s left with flashes, the barest bones of the most important moments of his life. little things, little memories--bringing yoongi pizza when he’s holed up in the studio, studying english with namjoon--float listlessly inside of his mind, untethered. jimin smiles so wide every time taehyung remembers anything, even the smallest tidbit, cheeks pushing his eyes into tiny crescents.

but they’re small memories, insignificant in the long run. he still can’t remember their first performance at the bbma’s, or the choreography for the solo songs he apparently has. he doesn’t remember his little sister’s eighteenth birthday or how he acquired a dog named yeontan, who is currently at his parents’ house. he can’t remember winning a fucking grammy, can’t remember the laughter he and the boys must have shared over the years or the backbreaking hard work they endured to get where they are.

before he can get too far inside of his own head, jimin’s there, fingers lacing through taehyung’s. “your mom wants to know if you’re up for a visit,” he says softly, thumb tracing lightly over the back of taehyung’s hand.

taehyung quirks an eyebrow. “you’re texting my mom?”

jimin laughs. “it’s not like you can, with your brain all smushed.”

“hey!” taehyung pouts exaggeratedly, tugging jimin closer until he can lay his head on jimin’s chest. “don’t be mean to me. i’m injured.”

“sorry, darling,” jimin coos, lightly tugging at a lock of hair. “what do you want me to say?”

“i want to see her,” taehyung says. he pauses, adds, “can you...can you ask her to bring yeontan? i want to meet him. i know she took him so he didn’t accidentally trip me with his tiny, dangerous little body but, you know. i can walk now. he can--he can come home, right?”

“oh my god yes. i miss my tannie,” jimin whines. he picks his phone back up and types one-handed, fingers twisting gently in taehyung’s hair. “i’ll tell her to come over thursday and to bring my son with her.”

taehyung snorts. “your son?”

inexplicably, jimin freezes beneath him. it lasts for half a second before he’s loosening back up and huffing out a laugh that sends taehyung’s bangs rustling against his forehead. “we have split custody,” jimin sniffs, “he loves me more.”

“i don’t doubt it,” taehyung answers back fondly, nose nuzzling at jimin’s chest. “you’re very lovable.” jimin chokes, and taehyung frowns. “jiminie?”

“i, um.” jimin slides out from underneath taehyung before he can even blink, graceful and fluid. “i promised jin-hyung i would help with dinner, so, i’ll, uh--i’m going to do that.” he sucks in a sharp breath, adds, “do you need anything before i go?”

taehyung’s frown deepens, hurt coiling tight in his chest. “no,” he says softly, head falling against the pillow. he stares at the ceiling, blinks a few times, listens to the soft pad of jimin’s barefeet as he makes his way down the hall.

taehyung remembers lots of little things, but he doesn’t remember the important things. like what he did to make jimin so sad.

--

that night, taehyung finds himself in namjoon’s studio.

“i figured it might help you to hear some music,” namjoon says, keeping his voice light and conversational. “memory can be deeply tied to auditory sensations, and since the biggest part of the last six years is the music we’ve made, it might spark something.”

taehyung curls his feet underneath his legs, hands twisting nervously in the hem of his sweatshirt. “i mean, it’s worth a try, right?” he asks, uncertain.

namjoon pats his knee with a warm smile, says, “that’s what i was thinking.” he turns back to his computer and clicks on something, an audio file. taehyung finds that he’s able to look at screens for longer periods of time now, but it always results in a headache, so he tries to limit what he sees. there’s a flash of an album cover, muted pinks and purples and blues, white lines twisting into a heart. “this is one of your solo songs, tae. it’s called singularity.”

namjoon hits play, and taehyung closes his eyes. warmth floods over him, bass smooth and honey-sweet, deep and sensual. he hears his own voice and it’s--it’s an odd feeling, knowing that it’s him singing, when the song itself is so unfamiliar, but--

but that’s not quite right, either. something is stirring in the back of his mind. sharp movements to contrast the slow melody. the swish of a long cloak, a hand over his throat, and--

“coat racks?”

namjoon laughs, sharp and clear, and taehyung doesn’t try to fight the smile off of his face.

“the choreography involves coat racks.” at taehyung’s odd look, joon adds, “weirdly enough, it works. the fans go nuts. i’ll show you a video when you’re able to look at a computer screen without your head exploding.”

namjoon clicks on file after file, voices echoing through the room. idol reminds him of bright colors, pinkish-orange hair, the fluidity of traditional fan dances. it’s a shock to hear nicki minaj rapping along on one of their tracks, but namjoon assures him it’s not even the weirdest collab they’ve done over the years. blood, sweat, and tears reminds him of high, chafing collars, victorian garb, angel wings--FX makeup caking his back and crunching uncomfortably when he moves. boy with luv reminds him of bright pink, baby blue, and how good those two colors look together.

they listen until well past midnight, taehyung’s chin hooked over namjoon’s shoulder. he gets flashes of choreography, the next note just seconds before it hits, and namjoon beams during the very few times he’s able to sing along.

just before the next song, namjoon hesitates. taehyung frowns, nudges him lightly with a pointy elbow. “hyung?”

“nothing,” namjoon hurries to say. the casual tone is clearly forced, but taehyung lets it slide. “so this next one is a song you and i did together. it’s called 4 o’clock.”

the songs starts, and taehyung listens with rapt attention as his own voice comes over the speakers, soft and gentle and deep. the lyrics are sweet, melancholy--waiting for someone. longing, hoping. wanting.

taehyung sits up abruptly.

“i wrote that about jimin,” he manages to croak out, hand pressed against his chest, heart hammering wildly inside his rib cage. “i wrote that about jimin, and then i released it to the entire world. how fucking obvious was i? how did he not know?”

namjoon stays quiet, and taehyung’s heart plummets.

“he knows, doesn’t he.” it’s not a question.

“tae--”

taehyung stands up, nearly tipping over in his haste. namjoon reaches out to steady him, but taehyung jerks back, eyes wild. “i’m gonna go to bed. i--thanks, hyung, really. it helped. i promise. everything makes sense now.”

“but--”

“goodnight,” taehyung gasps out, tears pricking at the backs of his eyes. he slips out the door as fast as his weary bones can manage. he half-jogs down the hall, ignoring the ache in his legs, his ribs and by the time he makes it to his bedroom, he’s heaving like he’s just run a mile. taehyung locks the door and slides down, tears blurring his vision as his head pounds incessantly, painfully. he wraps his arms tight around his middle and sobs.

jimin knows. jimin knows that taehyung is in love with him, and he was trying to save him the embarrassment of reliving that by acting like everything was okay, normal. he wanted taehyung to heal peacefully, to be there for him even though he was probably wildly uncomfortable. but jimin’s only human, and things slip through the cracks--the crying, the sad smiles. the secrecy.

the door knob jiggles and taehyung holds his breath, presses a hand to his mouth to stifle his shuddery cries. his body wracks with the effort of keeping silent.

a soft knock, and then, “tae?”

fuck. jimin’s been sleeping next to him every night. monitoring and cuddling and fluffing pillows, adjusting limbs, making sure taehyung has whatever he needs and then some. taehyung doesn’t even know where jimin’s room is, because jimin’s never there. he’s always with taehyung. by his side, even when it hurts.

taehyung squeezes his eyes shut, shoulders shaking. he hears a quiet sigh, a hand pressed against the wood of the door. “taehyung-ah?” jimin tries again. god, he’d be horrified to know that taehyung’s just on the other side, cowering and whimpering on the floor.

because jimin’s so good and he’s been taking care of taehyung like it’s his responsibility, and his alone. somehow, the kindness hurts worse, knowing that jimin has been so uncomfortable these past few weeks but continuously pushed it aside because taehyung needed him, asked for him as soon as he was lucid enough to realize he wasn’t there.

and maybe that was on purpose, too. maybe jimin hadn’t meant to be there when taehyung woke up. maybe taehyung dragged him kicking and screaming back into the mess of his own creation, and jimin was just too good and kind and wonderful to say no, even after years of drifting and awkward silences.

taehyung lets out a shaky breath, knees pulled tight to his chest. tomorrow, he’ll talk to jimin.

now, though--now he kind of just wants to curl up in bed and cry, but his bed is so far away and his legs feel like jello. it would be so easy to just unlock the door and roll aside, let jimin help him into bed. allow himself to be selfish for just one more night, before the ground drops out from underneath him and reality hits.

but jimin deserves a better best friend than that, and so taehyung stays where he is. he falls asleep on the floor, propped up against the doorframe, head tilted at an awkward angle.

eventually, jimin stops knocking.

--

the next morning, it rains. taehyung holes up under his covers and does not come out when jin knocks, calling him to breakfast. the thought of eating twists his stomach into knots, leaves him dry heaving into the trash can beside his bed.

he feels terrible, muscles sore and angry from sleeping on the floor. his pain meds are in the kitchen, miles away and entirely useless. he doesn’t even think he could get up if he wanted to, the deep ache of his body and his heart shattering him into tiny, excruciating pieces. even lifting his head feels like too much, and the fact that he managed to make it to the bed at all is a miracle in itself. there are tears soaking his cheeks, wet and puffed up. he reopened the slice on his lip from biting so hard, stifling cries of pure agony. god, his physical therapist is going to be so pissed at him.

a knock on the door shakes him out of his haze. “taehyung-ah,” jimin calls, and there’s an edge of panic to his voice that wasn’t there last night. “tae, sweetheart, you need to take your pills.”

taehyung burrows further under the covers, hot and sore all over. he closes his eyes and wills himself to fall asleep, if he doesn’t pass out first. he shifts and cries out when a sharp sting tears through his back.

“taehyung,” jimin says urgently, banging insistently on the door. his voice cracks a little, just this side of frantic. “tae, baby, please open the door.”

“no,” taehyung moans out, a pained gasp ripping its way out of his throat.

a loud, razor-edged sob echoes through the door. “taehyung-ah, sweetheart, i need you to open the door. please. fuck, please just open the fucking door.”

jimin sounds wrecked, hysterical, choking on garbled words as he slumps against the wood, and taehyung cries harder because it’s his fault, he’s the reason jimin is so upset. there are other voices, hushed and urgent, just outside. the rest of the boys are probably gathering, worrying, and that’s taehyung’s fault, too. he’s been one gigantic problem since the moment he woke up.

he whimpers quietly, wishing for nothing more than to fade quietly into the background and disappear. “tae,” jimin sobs, “tae, i swear to god, i’m going to break this fucking door down--”

taehyung forces himself to sit up, but its too quick. he pitches forward, falling onto his hands and knees with a howl of pain and an echoing thud. his legs give out beneath him and it hurts, god, it fucking hurts. he presses his face into the carpet and cries, unable to do anything else.

and then the door slams open, cracking hard against the wall like lightning. taehyung flinches, curls over onto his side, hands pressed to his ears like a child hiding.

“christ, jimin, there’s a fucking key.” yoongi’s voice, but he doesn’t sound angry despite his words. jin reaches him first, stumbling to the floor and grabbing at taehyung’s hands, trying to pry them away from his face. jimin collapses beside him, beautiful face red and raw with tears.

“baby, what did you do?” he cries, leans forward to press his forehead against taehyung’s. his hands cup taehyung’s cheeks, thumb smoothing an invisible line down his nose.

“call an ambulance,” he hears namjoon murmur, and he moans low in his throat, protesting. jimin’s tears drip hot and wet onto his face, body shuddering hard enough to shake apart.

taehyung shakes his head. “m’sorry,” he groans, barely above a whisper, “jimin--”

“shh,” jimin hushes him, nuzzles his nose against taehyung’s. “it’s okay, it’s okay. you’re okay.”

taehyung sure as fuck doesn’t feel okay, but he’ll believe just about anything jimin tells him.

“i can’t believe you actually kicked the door down,” jin mumbles half-heartedly, fingers wrapped tightly around taehyung’s ankle.

taehyung has enough presence of mind to think, shit, that’s hot, before promptly passing out.

--

it’s the beeping that finally wakes him up, unending and really fucking annoying.

taehyung blinks his eyes open, blurry and--fuck, he’s back in the goddamn hospital. he groans and twists, nearly yanking out the IV for the second time in two weeks, hissing at the pull. somewhere to his right, someone gasps, and taehyung’s head snaps toward the sound.

it’s jimin--because of course it’s jimin--with red-rimmed eyes and disheveled hair, still in his pajamas. he lets out a sob that stabs right through taehyung’s heart and leans forward, buries his head in his hands. “i’m sorry,” he cries, these heart wrenching little hiccups that make taehyung feel like he’s dying. “god, i’m so sorry, namjoon told me what happened last night and i--it’s all my fault. i was trying not to overwhelm you but i made everything so much worse, i’m so sorry.”

taehyung feels the tears gathering in his own eyes and forces them back, swallowing thickly. “no, it’s--jimin-ah, you did so much--” he cuts himself off with a choked rush of air, eyes zeroing in on jimin’s little fingers. there, on his left hand-- “is that a wedding ring?”

“yes,” jimin says, and he sounds miserable about it. he wipes at his eyes roughly, plush lips falling into an open-mouthed pout.

“oh,” taehyung manages, sounding a little strangled. “that--wow, that makes so much sense. fuck. i’m sorry. no wonder you were so unhappy, christ, you should have been--you should have been with your--your--instead of taking care of me.” taehyung’s heart rattles in his ribcage, fast and untameable. he tries to keep his voice steady but he fails horribly, tears streaking down his cheeks like rain on a window.

“taehyung.”

“i made it weird, didn’t i? when it happened? that’s why you didn’t want to tell me, that’s why--that’s why you’ve been the way you’ve been--”

“taehyungie, please--”

“god, fuck, i’m so sorry, jimin, i promise, i’ll--i’ll do better, i’ll get over it, just please.” taehyung’s voice cracks embarrassingly, and he can’t look at jimin, can’t see the silver flash of the wedding ring, and jesus, that’s what was on the chain, wasn’t it? “please, stay my best friend. i need you in whatever way you’re willing to give me, i can’t lose you--”

“tae, baby.

taehyung’s head snaps up and he locks eyes with jimin. “why’d you call me that?” he asks, whispers, broken and betrayed.

jimin reaches out with his left hand to grab taehyung’s, lace their fingers together, the cold metal of the ring oddly familiar against taehyung’s fever-hot skin. “because it’s you,” jimin says, tries for a smile. it’s watery and shaky and the most beautiful thing taehyung’s ever seen. “tae, i’m married to you. you’re my husband.”

taehyung tries to pull his hand away, shock seeping through him like poison. “don’t,” he says, low and dangerous. “jimin, don’t--”

“it’s true,” jimin insists, fresh tears leaking out of chocolate brown eyes. he holds on tighter, knuckles almost white, and his free hand reaches for the silver chain. “look.”

there are two rings left on the chain, a wedding band and an engagement ring. jimin presents the band that matches his own, braided silver twisting together for infinity, and shows him the inside. there’s an engraving on the smooth part of the metal, permanent like a scar.

pjm + kth

taehyung sucks in a sharp breath. “jimin--”

a nurse bustles in, oblivious to the tension in the room. “taehyhung-ssi, it’s so good to see you awake,” she greets happily, sending a shock through taehyung’s blood stream, down to the very marrow of his bones. “you gave your husband quite a scare.”

“could you please give us a minute?” jimin asks, voice strained.

your husband--

“of course,” the nurse says, bowing awkwardly. she leaves, and it feels like she takes all the oxygen with her because suddenly taehyung can’t breathe.

jimin curls the rings in the palm of his hand, little fingers forming a protective fist, which he presses against his heart. the chain hangs from his hand, swaying lifelessly as jimin cries. he presses in on himself, becoming smaller and smaller until taehyung’s afraid he’ll disappear completely. he shakes like a leaf, tremors rocking through his body, tears dripping into his lap. he’s still holding onto taehyung’s hand like a lifeline.

“jimin,” taehyung whispers hoarsely. jimin flinches and curls up tighter. “jimin, are we really--”

“yes,” jimin gasps out, halfway through a sob. “we’ve been together for five years, married for one and a half.” jimin tilts his head to wipe his face against his own shoulder, snotty and soaked. “i’m so sorry, taehyung-ah, i thought i was doing the right thing. the doctors told us not to overwhelm you with anything you might not be expecting, and, i mean, our entire lives are pretty overwhelming so i knew it was going to be hard and--you didn’t remember us getting together, how was i just supposed to drop this giant bomb on you that we’re married when you don’t even remember our first kiss?”

taehyung tightens his grip on jimin’s hand. his brain is not processing as fast as he needs it too, thoughts moving lethargically. he’s still stuck on the rings, must be drugged out of his mind because he feels no pain, asks, “can you--can i put them on?”

jimin seems to know what he means immediately. “of course, yes, oh my god.” he lets go of taehyung to unclasp the necklace with shaky hands. “they’re yours, of course you can--” jimin cuts himself off, lets the rings slide off of the chain and into his palm. he holds them out to taehyung, who’s limbs suddenly feel like lead.

taehyung licks his lips, draws in a quiet breath. “can you put them on me?”

jimin makes a wounded noise in the back of his throat, but reaches out to gently take taehyung’s hand in his. he slides the engagement ring on first, a pretty teardrop-shaped stone the color of a rusted sunset. then its the wedding band, a familiar weight on taehyung’s ring finger.

“you wore them around your neck the whole time?” he asks, quiet, scared that anything more than a whisper will break this fragile moment.

jimin lifts his eyes to meet taehyung’s questioning gaze. he nods. “i was yours, even though you weren’t mine.”

taehyung shakes his head, fresh tears sliding down his cheeks like rainwater. “always yours,” he murmurs, and jimin starts to cry in earnest. “always yours, jiminie. no matter what.” he reaches out, arm falling uselessly in the space between them. taehyung hates that there’s space between them. “come closer--i need--”

jimin doesn’t hesitate before clambering onto the hospital bed beside him, just like they did the night taehyung woke up. they’re both crying, puffy and hiccuping into each others’ faces, jimin’s forehead pressed against taehyung’s temple. taehyung twists until he can throw an arm over jimin’s waist, breathes in the scent of toothpaste and maple syrup from the breakfast he refused. “taehyung-ah,” jimin whispers, eyes squeezed shut against the onslaught of tears. “baby, i’m so sorry. i thought it was for the best, i fucked up, i’m so sorry--”

but taehyung isn’t focusing on that right now. his mind feels hazy, distant, fingers moving up to gently brush at jimin’s cheeks. “you’re really mine?” he asks, sounding so small, thumb tracing over jimin’s bottom lip. the rings glint in the midday sunlight.

jimin shivers and presses closer, blonde hair tickling taehyung’s nose. “yours,” he promises, settles his hand over taehyung’s heart.

taehyung shifts until he can press a kiss to jimin’s cheek, nuzzling at baby-soft skin. jimin’s breath hitches, fingers twisting in the fabric of taehyung’s hospital gown. their foreheads press together, determined to erase any and all distance between them. the pain medication slows him down, makes him groggy and a little lost, and he’s trying so hard to push through the sticky-sweet honey of his mind and say what he’s feeling because he’s feeling so much. one thought in particular rushes to the forefront, loud and all-consuming.

“you carried this all alone,” taehyung whispers, almost in awe, “you took care of me even though--even though i didn’t know what you were to me, you stayed. you loved me.”

jimin shudders against him. “in sickness and in health,” he whispers, lips brushing against taehyung’s cheek as he speaks. they’re so close, taehyung using every second to try and soak up as much of jimin as he can into his DNA, his bloodstream, the stardust that makes up his body. “i’d do it forever, even if you never found out, even if you didn’t want me anymore or you never remembered--i’d be here, with you, until the end of time.”

“would never not want you,” taehyung murmurs reverently, hands tracing the curve of jimin’s hip, because he’s allowed to touch, now. allowed to feel. “i want you any way you’ll have me, jimin-ah.”

“i should have told you,” jimin whispers. “i’m so sorry. i should have told you, but i was so scared. first, that i’d upset you or you wouldn’t believe me or--or you’d panic, i don’t know. but then i started to worry that you’d never remember, or that you would remember but you wouldn’t want me anymore, or that you’d be angry at me for keeping it from you--”

“i am a little upset, i think,” taehyung admits, feels jimin deflate beside him. “but i know why you did it. you were trying to protect me, just like always. my guardian angel.” he traces a finger down jimin’s nose, offers a small smile. jimin laughs wetly. “i think--i think knowing that we were married would have been good for me. i think it would have helped.”

“i think you’re right,” jimin says softly. “i’m sorry.”

“i know, baby.” the endearment slips out on instinct. jimin flushes, pleased, and taehyung feels his face break into a wide smile. the cut on his lip burns at the stretch, but taehyung can’t find it in himself to care. he surges forward, pressing kisses to jimin’s cheeks, forehead, nose, eyelids. “baby,” he whispers in-between pecks, “baby, baby, my baby.”

jimin laughs, high and sweet. it sounds like the most beautiful music taehyung’s ever heard.

he pulls jimin flush against him, drunk on pain medication and the feeling of jimin--his husband, holy shit--pressed into his side. “i wish i remembered our wedding,” he whispers, and the air in the room shifts, just a little. jimin sobers up, pretty smile tinged with sadness. “i wish i remembered the proposal, how we told our families, how we told the fans--”

“i’ll tell you everything,” jimin promises. “i never get tired of telling those stories. the boys are sick of hearing them, i’ll be glad to have a captive audience for once.”

“i wish i remembered,” taehyung says again, soft. he nudges his nose against jimin’s. “but i remember falling in love with you.” he feels jimin’s breath hitch. “i remember falling in love with you and wanting this so badly it burned. i remember looking at you and realizing there was no one else i wanted to share my life with. i remember you, jiminie.”

taehyung shifts forward, presses his lips against jimin’s for the first and millionth time. he tastes like salt water and pancakes and every bit of happiness taehyung’s ever experienced.

jimin whimpers against his mouth, turns the kiss into something a little firmer. “i love you,” he says when they break apart, adoration clear and open in his eyes.

“i love you so much,” taehyung says back, means every syllable, every vowel and consonant, with every inch of his being.

(it takes three months and six days, but taehyung gets his memories back.

he wakes up one day, chest plastered against jimin’s back, and he remembers. he presses closer, singing softly against the back of jimin’s neck, nibbling at his ear. jimin wakes up slowly and then all at once, turning to taehyung with the grumpiest, cutest little frown.

“it’s early.”

“do you remember when we snuck into a bathroom at the isacs and almost got caught jerking each other off by the entirety of got7?”

jimin snorts into taehyung’s mouth, which, gross, but then he freezes. his eyes lock onto taehyung’s, searching. “tae,” he says, faintly, “do you--”

“mhm,” taehyung hums, nosing gently at jimin’s cheek. “i know that you were wearing bright pink underwear the day of our wedding even though your mom told you it was tacky. i know that you blew me in the bathroom after we won a grammy and ed sheeran almost walked in on us. i know that you’ve smoked weed a grand total of two times and that threw up after one hit both times. i know we’ve already decided what we’re going to name our children and i know we once didn’t talk for a week because you ate the last brownie my mom sent from home--mmph!”

jimin cuts him off with a kiss, half-sobbing into his mouth out of sheer, palpable joy.

taehyung has a scar over his eye that will never fully fade. his joints still ache when it rains, and he doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to dance the way he used to. his knees crack when he stands and he’s been yelled at by his physical therapist upwards of a hundred times for pushing himself too far, but none of that matters. because jimin is still here, warm and wonderful, pressing him gently into the sheets of their bed like he’s the most precious thing in the universe.

taehyung remembers everything, but most of all, he remembers jimin.)