Art by @Nekomanchu
A star that sparkles brightly amidst the night sky--I would re-live this pain over and over if it meant meeting you again. You are the light of my life, and though you were not my beginning, I know in my heart you are my end.
Prologue: First Love
Dropping off his job application at the local pizza chain was nerve-wrecking. Taehyung had applied to so many other places, but apparently jobs were picky with who they wanted. He hoped he had more luck here.
Taehyung was interviewed by the manager and hired on the spot. He expected: his own small income, considering it was a minimum wage job with only a few hours after school; he expected fresh hot pizza he could eat whenever he wanted; and he expected to get one of his best friends to work with him.
What he did NOT expect, was falling in love.
“Jungkook, all you need to do is drop off your job application! We’re already hiring AND I told my boss about you. You’re basically guaranteed a job! We can work together!” Taehyung gushes over the phone. He’s laying on his bed, awestruck by how a month of work has gone by in a flash. His junior year was over, and summer marked the beginning of the end of his high school career. He only had one year left. One more year of hell.
“Plus, you’ll get to see my cute co-worker,” he gushes. His cheeks warm as the image of his crush pops into his head. He drops his head onto the bed and squeals loudly, kicking his feet in the air.
“You’ve watched way too much anime, and have read way too manga. What are you, some sort of shoujo protagonist come to life?” he hears Jungkook say over the phone sitting beside his head. He swears he can hear his eyes roll.
“I wish. Ugh, and he smells SO good. I want to drown in his cologne. Every time I walk past him, I have to take a deep breath. He’s delicious.” Taehyung grabs the phone and places it against his ear, turning onto his back to stare up at the ceiling.
“I didn’t even find him attractive at all at first. But he’s SO weird! I look forward to work everyday because he makes it so fun. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve died laughing. Personality really does trump everything. I think we’d be perfect together. He’s weird, I’m weird, we could be weird together.”
He hears Jungkook sigh over the phone, “I’ll stop by tomorrow to fill out a job application and I’ll make my judgement when I see him.”
“Trust me Jungkook, he’s amazing.”
Jungkook gets hired two months after Taehyung did. He feels so relieved to finally have a friend by his side. His crush on his coworker has grown enough to make him feel self- conscious around him, and he really needs the emotional support.
“You literally work next to him on the pizza line every night, just make casual conversation!” Jungkook whispers as he shoves Taehyung towards the makeline. Taehyung is about to turn around and whine but the phone rings and Jungkook answers it. With a huff, he takes his place back on the pizza line in the back, awaiting the orders to pop on the screen. He feels the heat of the ovens behind him baring down on his back, and the summer heat only adds to the hellish temperatures. He can feel his shirt sticking to the sweat on his back.
He glances to his left and sees Park Bogum idly scrolling through his phone, leaning against the framing of the makeline. It’s essentially an assembly line, the managers at the very beginning slapping out dough into their round shapes, and saucing them, before pushing the pizzas down the line for cheese and toppings. Taehyung clears his throat, and he peeks at him from under his bangs. Bogum is still on his phone.
Taehyung clears his throat louder and opens his mouth to speak, but just as he’s about to ask him a question, a loud buzzing fills the room and everyone rushes to the makeline, and Taehyung has to swallow his words as he remembers that he has a job to do.
“Jungkook, I swear, I’ve never been so gutsy around a crush. We’ve been working together for 4 months already and we’re finally in the ‘friends outside of work ’stage. This is progress! I have it all figured out. I already started texting him and initiating conversations. Sure it took a few weeks and I felt like throwing up every time he took forever to respond, but what matters is he DID respond. That HAS to mean something right? So here’s what I’m thinking: I get close to him, and we start talking on a regular basis. He’s pretty silly, and I’m a fucking weirdo, so we’re already on the same wavelength, all he has to do is realize how perfect we’d be together. Then, he’ll fall in love with me and my love story will end with me marrying my first and only love,” he declares.
Jungkook, who’s sitting across from him at school during their lunch, nods. “Yeah it really is odd how forward you’re being with him. I’ve known you for years and every crush you’ve had on someone involved you admiring them from afar. Not going to lie, it was low-key kind of stalkerish but then again when you’re as spineless as you are there’s only so much you can do-“Jungkook flinches as Taehyung smacks him on the head, a playful smile on his lips.
“Oh shut up!” he laughs.
“Okay, okay, I meant you’re shy. Still doesn’t explain where all your courage has come from all of a sudden.” Jungkook rests his elbow on the table, sandwich in his other hand. He brings it to his lips and takes a bite, smacking on it loudly, lost in thought.
“It’s a sign. I’m telling you, we’re meant to be.” Taehyung sighs and rests his chin on his palms, daydreaming about the dates he and Bogum could go on. Taehyung’s startled out of his stupor by the loud slam of hands on the table. Hoseok is staring at them both wildly, mouth set in a wide smile. Jimin approaches from the other direction with a tray of lunch in his hands. He sets it on the table gently and sits in a chair, scooting it as close to the table as possible. Hoseok steals a chair from the table next to them and drags it to their table, sitting in between Jungkook and Taehyung.
“I’ve come up with the perfect plan to execute. It’s genius,” Hoseok says.
Jimin snorts and nods his head disapprovingly, take a scoopful of dry pasta into his mouth, and cringing at the blandness of it. He finishes chewing and speaks up, “Which is?”
Hoseok glances between the three of them quickly, his smirk curling into his cheeks mischievously. “You’re going to invite him to a movie with you and Jungkook, who can be the buffer between you two. That way you can avoid any awkward moments.”
Taehyung ponders the plan, considering it carefully. That seems like a pretty good idea. Bogum goes to a different school than they do, so he only gets to see him at work. The only way to grow the blossoming friendship between them is to figure out a way for them to hang out outside of work.
“How about you fake it?” The three glance at Jimin, who briefly takes a swig of his pink lemonade, pushing his tray away from him now that he’s done eating. “Pretend like Jungkook is going, and then once you meet up with him at the theater, you could ‘get a text’ from him claiming that he doesn’t feel well and won’t show up after all.”
Taehyung gasps and high-fives Jimin, “You’re a GENIUS!” He hears Hoseok whining in the background, something about how it was his plan first, but he ignores it as he starts playing the situation in his head. Taehyung turns back to face Jungkook and clicks his tongue. “Sorry Jungkook, guess you can’t come with us to see the new action movie.”
Jungkook’s shoulders slumps and he groans, “I really wanted to see that though!”
Taehyung leans over the table and firmly grabs his shoulder, “Kookie, this is for the greater good.”
Jungkook swats the hand of his shoulder and rolls his eyes, “Whatever.”
Taehyung claps his hands together and chirps, “Thanks for your help you guys. I’ll let you know how it goes!” He skips out of the cafeteria, whistling a cheerful tune as he heads back to class.
His friends smile to themselves as they watch him leave, amused that their friend has finally taken the initiative in his love life. Maybe love will follow him after all.
It’s a chilly November night when Taehyung pulls up to the movie theater. He sends Bogum a text when he arrives and locks his car before heading to the box office. He waits in line and buys his ticket and waits patiently for his crush to appear. To say he’s nervous is an understatement. He knows its not a date, but he can’t help feeling like being alone with him is going to be a bit more intimate than just ‘two friends hanging out’. He’s not sure if Bogum likes him too, or if he’s overanalyzing every single interaction they have together. He wants to hope that maybe his feelings are requited after all. He’s been a bit more obvious than before, and even attempts to flirt, as cringey and awkward as his flirting ends up being.
At the call of his name, Taehyung’s head snaps up and his eyes search for the deep voice he’s grown fond of. With his heart in his throat, he takes a step forward.
Taehyung enjoyed the movie, but he’s never felt so hyperaware of someone else’s movements until tonight. The two sat in the back of the theater, and Taehyung let his hand lay on the armrest. His fingers twitched, hoping that Bogum would place his hand on top of his. Tae’s hand twitches again and he peaks over to his crush, who’s gaze is locked onto the movie screen. His hands are in his lap, a leg crossed over his thigh. Taehyung sighs and drops his hand from the armrest and leans his body away from Bogum. He isn’t completely discouraged though. He attempts this two more times before the movie ends, but neither are successful.
“Yeah sure, the movie was a bust, but I really think he has to have noticed my feelings by now. There’s no way he’s THAT oblivious.” Taehyung complains on the phone with Jungkook. “Are you sure you haven’t noticed anything?”
“I mean, I noticed a few glances here and there when you aren’t looking, but nothing too out of the ordinary.”
Taehyung grumbles at the response, but his mood improves instantly when he receives a text from Bogum. “At least we talk more. We’ve been talking almost everyday for the past few weeks.”
Taehyung sends Bogum a response quickly and resumes his conversation over speaker phone. “Mmm yeah, that’s definitely improvement. Are you texting him right now?”
“Yeah, we’re just talking about random stuff. You know what, I’m going to be cliché. We’re going 21 questions up in this bitch.” Taehyung’s tongue sticks out of the side of his mouth as he thinks about how to steer their conversation in that direction.
“That sounds like a dangerous game. I wish you luck. I’m going to go work on homework. Let me know if there’s a breakthrough.”
“Will do!” Taehyung hangs up the phone and focuses all his attention on texting Bogum. After an hour of casual conversation and waiting for responses, Taehyung gets on his computer and starts reading a new shoujo manga. He’s a sucker for love stories. Sue him. God bless the internet though, it’s the only way he can read smut. He’s in the middle of reading when his phone goes off with a ding. He glances at his phone and all the blood drains from his face.
From Park Bogum (11:37PM):
So do u like anyone
Taehyung smacks his hand over his mouth and screams. This is it. This is the shoujo moment he’s been waiting for. All the rom-com animes he’s watched has prepared him for this moment. He takes a deep breath and steels his nerves.
To Park Bogum (11:38PM)
From Park Bogum (11:42PM):
do I know them
To Park Bogum (11:44PM)
From Park Bogum (11:49PM):
who is it
To Park Bogum (11:53PM)
It doesn’t matter. They don’t like me anyways.
From Park Bogum (11:49PM):
how would you kno that
To Park Bogum (11:53PM)
I just do.
From Park Bogum (11:57PM):
if you tell me who it is I can prove u wrong
Taehyung reads the text and his eyes bulge out of his head. Time slows as he types out his response. His heart is beating wildly in his chest, and he feels like he’s about to throw up. His palms are sweaty as the phone sits in his hands.
To Park Bogum (11:58PM)
From Park Bogum (11:59PM):
taehyung, just tell me
Taehyung panics. He abandoned his computer 10 minutes ago. He’s been rolling on the ground, flailing like a fish out of water with every text he sends and receives from Bogum. As soon as he reads Bogum’s response, his panic increases ten-fold. He smashes the redial button on his phone and waits as the phone rings and rings. He screeches when his call gets sent to Jungkook’s voicemail. “Fuck!” he cries.
He tries to calm himself, but his hands start to shake as he types his confession. At least confessing over their fall break will give him time to cool off once he’s rejected. He closes his eyes and presses ‘send.’ It feels like eternity when he receives a reply.
To Park Bogum (12:05AM)
It’s you. I like you.
Taehyung’s absolutely positive he’s about to pass out. Or piss his pants. Whichever’s worse. When he feels the phone vibrate in his hand and ding, he glances at his phone and his eyes roll back into his head as he drops to his knees. He starts to cry in relief.
From Park Bogum (12:08AM):
well I like you too
Having a boyfriend is weird. And awkward.
It’s not as romantic as it is in the movies. And despite the fact that they’re dating now, Taehyung’s nerves have yet to settle. They’re currently sitting in Bogum’s car, deciding to grab something to eat after work. They’re snacking on a basket of chicken strips and fries. It’s gotten easier to talk and joke around. Taehyung would say he’s pretty comfortable around Bogum now. After all, if he wasn’t okay with how weird Taehyung is, they wouldn’t be dating now would they?
The two watch music videos on his phone as they finish their meal. Dating in high school is strange, especially since neither of the two have their own place. They’re still too young and broke. Their dates are limited to chilling in their cars after work, or going out on weekends. But that’s okay. Taehyung is content just spending time with him. Once the two are done eating, they move into the back seat of the car and cuddle. It’s been two weeks since they started dating and they have yet to kiss. Taehyung’s hoping tonight is the night that changes.
Bogum has his arm wrapped around Taehyung’s shoulder, and Taehyung snuggles closer to him, nuzzling his head into the crook of Bogum’s neck, and inhaling his delicious cologne. Bogum places a chaste kisses on Taehyung’s forehead. Taehyung giggles and scoots closer. Taehyung can hear his heart pounding in his chest. He moves his head slightly, and places a light kiss on Bogum’s neck. He takes a peek up to see Bogum’s response. When he gets none, he starts trailing kisses up his neck and across his jawline, before placing a light kiss at the corner of his mouth. Bogum turns his head and peers down at Taehyung, their eyes locked together.
Their lips meet in a soft kiss, and Taehyung can’t help but smile in the middle of it. The other’s lips are soft and warm. They taste like greasy chicken, but Taehyung doesn't mind. Taehyung continues to press kisses to those lips, but starts laughing in the middle of it and has to pull away.
“Why do you keep laughing?” Bogum mumbles.
“Sorry, sorry, I can’t help it!” Taehyung laughs. Taehyung takes a moment to admire the cuteness that is Park Bogum. His light brown hair is a tad messy, but in the good way. His eyes are a gorgeous dark brown, the kind that immediately explodes into hues of caramels and coffee once the sun hits them. He has a long straight nose, and a smile that could send any heart into cardiac arrest. Taehyung can’t believe how lucky he is. He decides to be a little daring and presses their mouths together, but this time he nibbles gently on his lower lip, brushing his tongue against it. The other must mistake it for an attempt at a french kiss, because he suddenly has a mouthful of tongue, which surprises him so much he yelps and scoots back.
Bogum flushes red and is quick to apologize, “Sorry, sorry! I thought you wanted tongue!”
Taehyung is as equally embarrassed, “N-no, I was just trying out that move that I always read and see about oh my gosh!”
The two are quiet for a few moments before he speaks up again, his cheeks tinted pink. “I-I think I really liked it though.” He says with a small smile.
Bogum perks up and closes in on Taehyung, threading his fingers through the hair on the back of Taehyung’s head. Their mouths meet again in a kiss, much hungrier than the last. They forget they are in the back of a dark parking lot, not that it matters with how empty it was when they arrived. Bogum leans into Taehyung more, and lowers him slowly until he’s laying flat on his back in the backseat. Bogum finds a comfortable spot between his legs and their kisses are slow and passionate, the excitement of doing something so unfamiliar enraging the fire thrumming in their blood.
Taehyung’s a little breathless, (he’s never kissed anyone before, let alone makeout so he can’t time his breathing just right) and tiny gasps escape his lips between intakes of air. He’s a little dizzy, blood pumping through his veins, and he looks up at the car window and freezes. There’s a white van parked next to them, certainly not something that was there before they arrived. And to make everything even worse, it’s not empty. There’s a man sitting in the driver seat, and he’s watching them. A shiver runs up Taehyung’s spine and he panics, pushing Bogum off of him before he climbs into the front passenger seat.
“Bogum, oh my god there’s someone in that car and he was watching us like some kind of pervert! Let’s go let’s go let’s go!!” he says frantically.
Bogum jumps into the front seat and the two immediately drive off, leaving their peeping tom behind them. Taehyung groans, and he makes eye contact with Bogum, who’s trying to hold in a laugh. Taehyung whines and smacks him on the chest, but he can’t help dissolving into a fit of laughter either.
“Are you serious?” Hoseok claims, clutching at his stomach, his shoulders shaking as chuckles rip themselves from his chest. He has tears in his eyes, and he’s flung himself over Jungkook’s lap as he lets his hysterical laughter consume him. Jimin is smacking the table, tears in his eyes as well, and Jungkook sits across from him not much better off.
“Guys! It’s not funny! We could have gotten arrested!” Taehyung pouts. They’re all gathered around the cafeteria lunch table, their half-eaten lunches forgotten and cold.
Jimin straightens up, his cheeks chubby and pinchable—“Let me get this straight, so you’re saying a cop, A COP, knocked on your window in the middle of the night, because you were parked in a middle school parking lot, but didn’t even notice him approaching because you two were too busy sucking face?”
The table has grown quiet, and suddenly the three burst again, their obnoxious laughs easily masked by the loudness of other student conversations in the cafeteria. Jungkook has to cough to regain his voice and speaks up, “This cop probably thought he was about to catch two delinquents doing drugs or something, but caught two horny teenagers with their tongues down each other’s throats instead!”
Taehyung slumps over, forehead resting on the cool table. “It was so awkward,” he mumbles, “He knocked on the glass window and we had to roll it down. He stared at us and shined a flashlight through the car and kept blinding us with it’s light. He asked us what we were doing and Bogum told him we were just ‘hanging out’.”
“This totally gives me that ‘two guys, sitting in a hot tub, 5 feet apart cause they’re not gay’ kinda vibe.”
“Oh my gosh, shut up Jimin! That meme is so old!”
Hoseok has regained his composure, yet his face is still entirely red when he adds in, “Must have been just as awkward for him as it was for you guys. Imagine what he told his other officer buddies when he got back to the station.”
“How about instead of making out in the middle of the night in sketchy areas, you guys just go over to each other’s houses during your free period. Don’t both of you get off by 1pm because you have senior out as an elective?”
“You might be onto something Jungkook.”
“Both our families work, so we’d have the whole house to ourselves.”
“Maybe you guys can finally, ya know, do gay stuff like the confident gay you are” Jimin says with waggling eyebrows.
The three are sent into more snickers and Taehyung just groans, wanting the school day to end already. “First of all, I’m pan, and second of all, that’s actually a good idea.” He stores their idea in the back of his mind, reminding himself to talk to Bogum about it later.
The first year of their relationship together goes by in a flash. Taehyung is over the moon with all the attention he receives from Bogum, and the two have become the best of friends. (Sorry Jimin, Hoseok, and Jungkook, full offense). Taehyung swears he’s met his soulmate. Their personalities mesh so well together with how similar they are, it really scares everyone around them, even their families.
They’ve had sex multiple times (Their first time did NOT feel good. At least for him. He took it up the ass and it hurt like shit, even with copious amounts of lube. This is utter bullshit AND homophobia) but it eventually got more bearable. The intimacy between the both of them, having their bodies intertwined in such a vulnerable state is the only thing he actually likes. It’s still pretty uncomfortable, but the pure hormones raging through him and such a new experience has left him blinded. He’s too wrapped up in the newness of it all to pay more attention to that tiny detail.
There’s also the question of when it’s socially acceptable to finally fart in front of your significant other. Taehyung had fought with himself multiple times, wanting to just let it rip whenever he felt the urge bubbling in his lower intestine. Jimin has been with his boyfriend for six months already and he still hasn’t farted in front of him, so Taehyung’s a little indecisive on just when to let that bomb drop.
He worries immediately disappear when he’s hanging out at Bogum’s house one chilly December afternoon. They’re both showing each other some workout moves they’ve seen and Bogum does some sort of crunch, where he has to bend his upper and lower body to meet up in the air. Maybe that exercise makes him flex his abdominal muscles a little too hard cause a fart slips right out of him. His eyes widen and he freezes, like a deer caught in headlights. Taehyung is way too amused and relaxed, not caring one bit about the slip up.
“Does this mean I can finally fart in front of you now too?”
The two fall over each other in their giggles, laying on their tummies and hands finding each other’s, their happiness like a warm bubble around them.
When Bogum tells him he loves him for the first time, Taehyung’s a little speechless. He refuses to tell the other he loves him too until he’s absolutely sure, so he settles with, “Oh, I uh, I l-like you too?”
It only takes another month until Taehyung can say it back, four months into their relationship. He’s happy. So so happy, and he lets love wrap itself around them like a scarf as their love continues to bloom through the cold winter and warm spring.
Their senior year of high school ends and the two graduate. Bogum has decided not to go to college, and has been offered a full-time assistant manager position at their work. Taehyung had decided to take a year off from college, wanting to work and save up some money. He quits his first job a few weeks after graduation and starts to look for a higher paying one.
Another half year passes, and the two get an apartment together, wanting to start their lives together. Their financial stability allows them to live comfortably, although Bogum is the one who makes more. But that doesn’t bother Taehyung. Not yet at least. He’s saving up his money for college, so he’s all the more eager to let Bogum pay most of the bills. Adulthood isn’t as exciting as kids think it is, honestly its rather dull. But Taehyung takes pride in knowing that he has his own money, and can now do what he wants in his life with no rush, even if he doesn’t know what to do with it yet.
Their second anniversary goes by, and the two are still as happy as can be. They come home to each other, they eat dinner, and they share the warmth of their bodies with each other each night. With Taehyung’s back pressed firmly into Bogum’s chest, he thinks he could see himself in these arms forever.
He lets sleep overcome him, their breaths the only sound echoing through their home.
Even though graduating high school meant that everyone did something different with their lives, Taehyung still kept in contact with his three best friends. They came over whenever they were free (though the times were few), and their time together always felt like nothing had changed. Their bond was as strong as ever, even if they barely saw each other.
Maybe it’s around this time that Taehyung grew more attached to Bogum. Even living together, they only spent a couple hours a night together. Bogum’s manager position required a lot of overtime with how busy that pizza chain was in town. Taehyung found himself alone at home for longer stretches of time. This is when his loneliness manifested.
Depression slowly overtook him. Or maybe it was always there, in the back of his mind, waiting, waiting for the right time, slowly eating away at him until it gained enough strength to take root. Either way, Taehyung’s smile dimmed, his normal bubbly charisma dulling. His self-esteem was at an all time low, unsure of his prospects in life, and intimidated by the uselessness he felt about himself. Not even Bogum’s words of encouragement or love was enough to lift him. A few months went by like this, and Bogum grew frustrated, not knowing how to help Taehyung during his restless nights and fits of sobs. He lashed out in anger at times, stressed not only at work but also at home, because of how empty Taehyung had become.
Taehyung did not find the emotional support he needed from his partner, and he knows they are different people with different strengths and weaknesses. Bogum just happens to be terrible when dealing with emotions. Taehyung can’t blame him, but he does begin to resent him, just a little. He’s always heard men were bad with emotions, and even though Taehyung knows that way of thinking has been ingrained in them from society, he has always been one to appreciate communication and self-reflecting.
Even if Bogum can’t help him, Taehyung can at least help himself. With the thoughts of death lingering behind his eyes, and when his crying leaves his throat scratchy and his body weak, when the pain he inflicts on his head in the attempts to make all the pain in his mind stop, he decides to get help. Even though it’s expensive, even though his health insurance doesn’t completely cover it, even if it sends him into hundreds dollars of debt, he gets diagnosed, and is put on medication. He tried every other natural solution for depression and anxiety he could think of, but nothing worked, and he knew medication was his only option at this point. Sometimes healthy eating and exercise isn’t enough.
And that’s okay.
As his body begins to adjust to the medication, Taehyung feels his energy return to him. He doesn’t feel as hollow as before, and though the insecurities don’t leave him completely, they become bearable rather than crippling.
He returns to the happiness he had before, and he’s just as in love with Bogum as ever. They go on trips together, they have dates, and Taehyung is now positive he is the one. The one who loves him completely for everything he is, and everything he is not. He can be himself around him, and doesn’t try to hide anything about himself. He’s an open book, and he’s finally found a reader who loves all the words that make up his story.
So when Bogum proposes, Taehyung says yes. Taehyung is grateful for being fortunate enough to skip heartbreak, to meet his soulmate, to be marrying the love of his life. His friends are all elated at the news, and they know Bogum well enough to know they are perfect for each other. The four childhood friends celebrate, and Taehyung is glad he has people who love and support him to share this moment with.
This is his love story.
But not every love story has a happy ending---Sometimes the ones who are supposed to love you the most are the ones who ruin you.