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Forget What Hurt You (But Never Forget What It Taught You)

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Taehyung had a normal childhood. Well, ‘normal’ in his own terms. He was a sheltered child growing up, never able to sleep over at friend’s houses or spend too much time outside of the house on the weekends. Sure his parents were strict, and although he resented them at the time, he still loved them.

 

He couldn’t say he ever had a rebellious stage, staying focused on his grades, always eager to please. He won class and academic awards left and right. He didn’t have any outstanding talents, so he focused solely on his grades. He was proud of himself. Looking back on things, maybe this is where his self-esteem took a hit. One’s self-worth should not be tied to their success after all. No good ever comes from that.

 

He realized he was pansexual in the 6th grade. Honestly, the realization he was more into other boys rather than girls didn’t phase him. He believed everyone should be able to love who they want. Why was it anyone else’s business? He still found girls attractive, but he preferred boys. And even then, he didn’t care about genders. Whatever, he’ll love whoever he loves, simple as that. Once puberty hit him though, he became a lot more sensitive to his appearance. He never had confidence in himself, physically speaking, but he was sure his personality won over everything. He was kind, friendly, and not afraid to make a fool of himself. He was called ‘weird’ on multiple occasions, but that didn’t deter him from being eccentric.

 

Unfortunately, teens are usually the shallowest at this age. He can’t lie and say he didn’t spend multiple nights crying himself to sleep, wishing someone would love him for who he was (specifically in a romantic sense, everyone was getting boyfriends and girlfriends, and he definitely felt left out that no one remotely had a crush on him, how’s that for rejection?) He’s never been religious, but that didn’t stop him from praying and wishing night after night that he’d meet someone.

 

Taehyung chooses not to reflect too hard on middle school, too many embarrassing moments he wishes he could forget, even the 2.5 year crush he had on a boy. Yikes. The one positive aspect of that horrendous age was meeting 3 of his best friends: Jimin, Jungkook, and Hoseok. They grew closer over the years, and even the transfer to high school didn’t break their friendship. Even when they saw each other less, only sharing lunches and rare classes together, they managed to stay tight-knitted. These childhood friends chose to stick together.

 

High School was a blur too. He blocks most from his memory, but he could never forget his senior year. That was the year everything changed.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                      ------

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dropping off his first job application at the local pizza chain was nerve-wrecking. He applied to many other places, but didn’t receive a call back. He hoped he had more luck here. He spoke to the manager briefly, and was taken to the back for an on-the-spot interview. He’s thankful he wore business appropriate attire (no one wants to hire a slob). Fast-forward a couple of weeks, and boom! He nailed his first job. He expected his own income (pretty small, considering it was a minimum wage job with only a few hours after school), he expected fresh hot pizza he could eat whenever, he expected a fast-paced working environment, 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, a shoujo protagonist?” he hears Jungkook say over the phone sitting beside his head.

 

“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! Him and his other friends that work there go around making monkey sounds or breaking out into song. 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.

 

“Taehyung!”

 

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)

           Yeah

 

 

From Park Bogum (11:42PM):

do I know them

 

To Park Bogum (11:44PM)

       Maybe

 

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)

I can’t

 

 

 

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 in a ‘V’ shape. 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, 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 shrouded 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 a couple hundred 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. They don’t think about a wedding date yet, not minding a long engagement. And so another year slips by. Three years of love---three years of happiness. 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.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Taehyung’s sitting in class, 8AM sharp on a Wednesday. He taps on the table restlessly, and his leg shakes under him. He’s jittery, eyes locked on the clock while he counts the seconds until he can escape. He hears the professor remind them of their test next class before bidding them a farewell. Taehyung doesn’t let him finish that sentence and grabs his backpack, throwing it over his shoulder and racing out the door. He takes the steps two at a time, briskly walking down the stairs until he’s finally out of the building. The walk across campus isn’t long, only 15 minutes to reach their apartment.

 

He plays with his engagement ring, a silver band tight on his ring finger. He runs his thumb over it, mindlessly messing with it until he’s in the safety and comfort of his home. It’s been a year since he got engaged, and the two lovebirds have moved into a condo in the eastern part of city, near campus. Taehyung had started school a year later than his friends, but he didn’t mind being behind. Life wasn’t a race. Plus, his friends were already used to the campus, and gave him the grand tour, showing him the dining hall and the buildings of their respective majors.

 

Jimin and Hoseok are dance majors, spending most of their afternoons in the liberal arts building. They also roomed together. Jungkook has a dorm room to himself, not wanting to take his chances on being put together in a room with a stranger. He had decided on majoring in photography, and cooped himself up in the confines of the darkroom located within the depths of the fine arts and visual design building.

 

College doesn’t feel much different from high school, although he’s glad he’s escaped that hellhole, he still dreads going to his college classes. The one thing he did appreciate with college: the flexibility. He had classes Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but only in the mornings. This left his afternoons open for shifts at the vet clinic. With how much he’s been working lately, he hasn’t had the time to see his friends. He makes a mental note to text them soon.

 

Bogum got promoted to General Manager of that pizza place they met at, proving himself to be a capable leader when he was still an assistant. He’s one of the youngest general managers the chain has ever had. Taehyung had quit that job shortly after Bogum had been offered the position, since a relationship between a manager and their subordinate was against company policy. Taehyung was eager to leave, eager for a chance to try something new. He was able to get a job as a receptionist at the vet clinic.

 

When he arrives to their home, he rushes into his room and flings off his clothes, pushing his pants down his legs while he shuffles to the closet. He trips over his feet and hits the ground hard, his pants wrapped around his ankles.

 

“Oh fuck, that hurt!” he whines. He dresses into his work scrubs and runs into the kitchen, slamming the refrigerator open to look for food, something he can snack on during the drive to work. He only has 30 minutes until his shift starts. With a turkey sandwich hanging between his lips, he grabs the car keys hanging from the hooks next to the front door and heads out.

 

 

 

 

 

He’s glad he changed his major out of veterinary medicine. He originally thought his love for animals growing up was a sign for him to dedicate his life to helping them. Boy was he wrong. Working at the vet clinic has opened his eyes, and it’s not as cupcakes and rainbows as he was led to believe. The profession requires at least 8 years of school, and even then its highly technical. Running diagnostics, lab testing, and surgeries is not what he imagines he’d want to dedicate his life doing. It’s just not for him. He doesn’t even consider being a vet technician, because they’re overworked and underpaid for the shit they have to put up with, literally. But as a receptionist, Taehyung’s job is pretty easy in comparison. He’s a people- person, and he gets to see different dogs and cats every day. It’s like the best of both worlds.

 

The only downside is when patients visit for other reasons aside from normal health exams, like sick exams and euthanasia appointments. He had to keep himself from crying the first twenty or so times he had to lead a family to the grieving room, their appointment for a euthanasia booked prior. Nothing is more heartbreaking than having to be in a room with a family crying their eyes out as the vet injects the medication that will steal their loved one from them. Watching the life dim in the animal’s eyes is haunting, and there have been a few times where tears did escape down his cheeks. He sniffled discreetly, and took the family’s payment as fast as possible, letting the families grieve in peace. He did desensitize eventually, and although those moments were still sad, he accepted it as a natural part of life.

 

He’s seen some pretty grotesque things too, aside from cleaning up any diarrhea, or bloody urine. Throw up is common too. Cleaning messes like that had him gagging, but he’s learned to avoid breathing when he wipes and disinfects those areas. One of the most interesting things he’s had the pleasure of seeing is watching the vet saw off a dog’s head. It had been an aggressive dog that bit a child. When dogs attack people, they have to be euthanized and their heads have to be sent to animal control for rabies testing. It’s fucked up, but those are precautions set in place for safety and health concerns. He couldn’t turn his eyes away from the vet twisting the dog’s head around until the spine snapped. He heard the echo of breaking bones in his ear for a week. Like he said, it's chilling and fascinating at the same time.

 

When Taehyung arrives at his job, his day is fast-paced and flies by. It’s appointment after appointment, with very few breaks in between checking in their patients, collecting payments, and answering phone calls.  He’s exhausted once he gets home, not from sitting in a chair doing administrative tasks all afternoon but from the physical exertion of holding 90lb dogs down to help the vet techs administer vaccines or take blood samples. They were short on techs, leaving him running back and forth between the front desk and the back to assist with what he could. He smells a bit like anal glands too (dogs secrete pheromones from glands sitting inside their rectum. Dogs usually lick and empty themselves but some dogs have trouble and need it manually done by someone, which is a lot like milking a grape. It’s uncomfortable for both parties.  

 

As someone who knows what it feels like to have fingers shoved up their ass, he sympathizes.

 

He manages to get home before Bogum, like usual, showers, and sets on making dinner. When Bogum gets back at 9pm, he throws himself on the living room couch and groans. Taehyung pokes his head out of the kitchen and smiles, hopping over to give him kisses.

 

“How was work?”

 

Bogum groans loader and rests his arm over his eyes, “Exhausting. I swear my assistants are lazy. I keep trying to motivate them with bonuses for keeping our labor percentage down and our pizza load times low, but they just don’t seem to care. We were #1 in all areas for the first quarter of the year, but we’ve dropped three ranks. It’s stressing me out.” There are purple bags under his eyes, and he reeks of pizza and sweat.

 

Taehyung licks his dry lips and pecks him on the forehead. “I’m sorry, hopefully you can find a solution to that. But enough of work, let yourself relax now.  Go shower so we can eat. I’m almost done with dinner, I made pasta.”

 

Bogum hums and lifts himself off the couch, dragging his body to the bathroom. Taehyung puts the finishing touches on their dinner and puts two large spoonfuls on a large plate, setting it aside for Bogum. He gives himself half a scoop with a small side salad. He gets a bigger bowl out for Bogum’s salad. The man is obsessed with them, so a small salad won’t cut it. When Bogum steps out of the bedroom dressed in his pajamas, his face lights up when Taehyung sets his plate on the dining room table. He comes up behind him and wraps his arms around his waist, pecking Taehyung on the side of his neck before nuzzling his nose against his pulse point and inhaling deeply.

 

“You smell so good,” he mumbles, rubbing his nose up the side of Taehyung’s neck until he reaches his ear, nibbling on it gently. Taehyung flinches at the action, and elbows him in the ribs, urging him to cut out the funny business and to sit down and eat. Bogum chuckles and sits down in his seat and scarfs down his meal like he’s been starved for a week.

 

“Did you not eat lunch today?” Taehyung asks mid-chew.

 

“Nope, didn’t have time. The lunch rush was crazy busy; we made over $1200 in sales in two hours. We got behind on food prep too and spent a majority of the day catching up and immediately preparing for dinner rush so I haven’t had time to eat anything all day.”

 

This was one of the most frustrating things about Bogum. He was so hardworking and dedicated, yet he prioritized his job over his health. He never made time to eat, only eating dinner when he got home. And if Taehyung hadn’t cooked, the other too tired to make anything himself, he would settle for eating fast food. He’d gained a lot of weight from this bad habit, and Taehyung encouraged him time and time again to make time to eat, even if it was small bites as he worked. Taehyung was starting to get tired of nagging him all the time about his unhealthy eating habits.  It was not his job to fret and worry that the other was eating enough or getting enough vegetables. He didn’t want to feel like a mom, but the past few months have been grinding his nerves thin.

 

“You can’t keep doing this, you have to take better care of yourself. I’ll start prepping meals for you to take to work ok? Just make sure you actually eat them.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, sure. That would be great.”

 

Taehyung eyes him warily, but he sighs and finishes his salad.

 

 

 

 

 

On a rare day off together, the two decide to go on a date.

 

They head to an amusement park, the crisp autumn air a bit chilly, but the sun shining down on them in the midst of a cloudless sky leaves them warm enough to leave their jackets in the car. Taehyung’s eyes widen in excitement when he sees an employee dressed up in a bunny costume. He tugs on Bogum’s arm, leading him over to take a picture with the bunny from his childhood. Taehyung has his boxy smile on display, his cheeks scrunching with happiness. He is giving the camera a peace sign, with his other arm wrapped around the bunny’s waist. Bogum snaps a photo of the two, unwilling to take part in the picture. He’s not as photogenic as Taehyung, and enjoys seeing the smile on his fiancé’s face from behind the camera.

 

When Taehyung approaches him to see how the photo came out, Bogum takes a moment to appreciate the beauty he has the pleasure of loving. Taehyung’s golden skin almost twinkles under the sun, his blonde hair rivaling the brightness of his smile. He’s absolutely stunning, and Bogum wastes no time in vocalizing his awe. “You’re gorgeous. I can’t believe you’re mine.” Bogum leans in and presses a kiss to Taehyung’s cheek. Taehyung’s smiles again, his cheeks a light pink, eyes glittering with mirth.  He wraps his arms around him, and the two spend a moment basking in each other’s presence, ignoring the crowd walking around them.

 

The two head towards the tallest rollercoaster in the park when Taehyung mentions Jungkook’s new boyfriend.

 

“Kookie got himself a boyfriend ey?” Bogum smirks at the news.

 

“He texted me gushing over his new relationship and how perfect Namjoon is. I wasn’t even aware he was crushing on anyone!” Taehyung pouts. “I feel so betrayed. I should have been the first to know but nope! I find out after they’re already together.” Taehyung kicks a rock, watching it bounce off the pavement and roll off the sidewalk.

 

“How’d they meet?”

 

The two have reached the ride named “Death Trap”, and Taehyung gulps nervously, craning his neck up to see how tall the roller-coaster is. “Apparently Jimin introduced them. I haven’t heard the details yet. Jungkook wants us all to go on a double-date.” The line moves quickly, and they reach the front within minutes.

 

“I’d be down,” Bogum drawls. “We should check out that new arcade that opened up on the other side of town. Kookie would love that. It opens up sometime next week. “ The park attendant ushers the next set of people to get into the now empty cars after the previous guests have left. Taehyung feels his hands start to shake when Bogum pulls down the metal bars to lock them into place.

 

“Y-yeah, that’d be perfect, I’ll text him so we can figure out a time and day to meet up.”

 

Bogum had chosen for them to sit in the very first car, and once the car jolts forward, Taehyung clenches the handles on the bars across his chest. “Oh god I can’t believe I let you talk me into this, I hate roller-coasters.”

 

Bogum nudges Taehyung with his foot, and he tears his eyes away from their steady ascent up the hill. He looks Bogum in the eyes, fear written all over his face. Bogum’s gaze softens as he holds his hand out. Taehyung intertwines their fingers together, clenching his shaking palm against his. When the car halts at the very top of the hill, Taehyung clenches his eyes shut.

 

“I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, I hate-“ Taehyung is cut off by his own shrieking when the car descends down the rails rapidly. He’s screaming bloody murder, and he can hear Bogum’s airy laughter next to him, one of his favorite sounds in the whole world.

 

Maybe he'll forgive him after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two return home in the evening, happiness and love radiating from their hearts.

 

They reach the bedroom and eagerly disrobe, their mouths meeting in a hot passionate kiss. Their hands wander down their bodies, exploring skin they’ve become well acquainted with. Taehyung presses a kiss to the corner of his mouth and giggles when Bogum starts pressing kisses all over his face, first his eyelids, his chin, and then the tip of his nose.

 

“Um, I don’t really feel like having sex, can we just lay here and cuddle?” Taehyung has his head resting on Bogum’s chest, feeling all tension in his body leave as he listens to the soothing rhythm of his beating heart. Bogum pulls Taehyung closer and his thumb caresses his shoulder. Taehyung sighs, his heart swelling with love and happiness.

 

He is half-asleep when he feels a hand slither between his legs, trying to coax him into arousal. Taehyung is groggy, and he turns his head to glance at Bogum, who’s eyes are heavy-lidded, pupils dilated with lust. He glances down and notices Bogum is hard, his other hand stroking his shaft lazily. He runs his eyes back up to Bogum’s and slurs, “I don’t feel like it right now, I just want to sleep.”

 

Bogum’s eyes are pleading, “Please? I want you so bad.”

 

Taehyung nods his head in refusal, “I’m so tired, I just want to sleep.”

 

“Please? You don’t have to do anything, I’ll do all the work.”

 

Taehyung sighs. He’s reluctant, and secretly hopes if he pretends to fall back asleep that Bogum will leave him alone and take care of himself instead. When he feels a lubbed finger slide between his cheeks, that hope vanishes. He lets himself be fucked like a doll, lets himself be used until the other finishes inside him, his hot breath fanning the back of Taehyung’s neck.

 

“Thank you babe,” Bogum says as he wipes down the mess leaking out of Taehyung’s gaping hole.

 

When he hears the other shift in bed, snores filling the air shortly after, he realizes Bogum has already fallen asleep. Taehyung closes his eyes, finally able to rest like he wanted.

 

When he opens them a few minutes later, he realizes he isn’t sleepy anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hear something shattering

It suddenly wakes me up

I hear strange sounds

I try covering my ears but I can’t fall back asleep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I wasn’t even sure if he liked me but as soon as he saw me he flushed bright red and tripped. He’s so clumsy and cute oh my gosh.”  Jungkook has been eagerly babbling about Namjoon, gushing over all his cute habits. Taehyung glances over his shoulder and sees Jimin and Hoseok laying on the bed, their feet kicking the air as they scroll through their phones, snickering quietly, probably laughing over memes. The four of them had texted earlier in the week about gathering at Jungkook’s dorm after classes. Instead of going straight home like he normally did after class, Taehyung decided to go to the library and spent the rest of the afternoon doing homework there. Once Jungkook got off class, he met up with the others and came here.

 

“Jungkook, you should be thanking me. I knew the moment I met him that you two would be perfect together.” Jimin’s smirking at Jungkook from over his phone. His eyes widen and he quickly rolls to the side to avoid the shoe thrown at him.

 

Hoseok quickly slides off the bed when he sees Jungkook lunge at Jimin, the two wrestling on the bed as they argue.

 

“I’m still lost. So Jimin didn’t introduce them?”

 

Jimin and Jungkook pause their fighting and yell at the same time—

 

“I did!

“He didn’t!”

 

The two glare at each other and continue their bickering and wrestling. Hoseok scoots himself across the floor to where Taehyung is seated, stealing a few chips from the bag he’s currently eating. In between mouthfuls, he explains, “Namjoon-hyung is a tutor in his free time. He tutored Jimin in sociology freshman year and helped him pass the class. He kept his number in case he needed help in another class, but gave it to Kookie when he mentioned he was struggling in that subject too.

 

Taehyung’s lips form an “O” at the revelation. After he takes a sip of his soda to wash down the rest of his chips, he belches loudly. “A student and his tutor get together. Why does this sound like the beginning of a bad porno.”

 

Jimin shoves Jungkook off the bed with his foot, and Jungkook yelps when he hits the ground. He rubs his elbow and gives Jimin a dirty glare. “Our love story is too pure to be a porno. Besides, we haven’t had sex yet. Unlike Taehyung, who had sex three months into his relationship with Bogum, we are taking things slow.”

 

Taehyung shrugs his shoulders. “I’m not ashamed. We both talked about it and we were already 18 anyways. We were curious what the fuss was about.”

 

Jimin repositions himself on the bed, and Jungkook climbs back on top of it, sitting against the wall. Hoseok had stood up and taken a seat in Jungkook’s rolling chair, propping his feet up on the desk and a opening a new bag of chips he stole from Jungkook’s secret snack stash. “How’s the sex going between you two anyways? Does it still hurt? You told us you were having trouble.”

 

Taehyung chews on his bottom lip absentmindedly, “I mean, I guess it’s okay? I honestly don’t see what the excitement is around it. I don’t think it’s all that great. I rather watch tv or read a book to be honest.”

 

“Maybe you guys aren’t doing it right? Have you tried sex toys or maybe watching porn together? It’s not supposed to hurt,” Jimin adds. “It was really uncomfortable the first few times until I learned how to prep myself properly, but I love it now. My ex and I could go at it like rabbits. It was fucking fantastic.”

 

“I know I haven’t had sex yet, so I can’t really give any helpful input, but I’ve read that emotions and mental stimulation can affect sex drive.” Jungkook taps on his chin and tilts his head to the side in thought. “Has anything changed between you two?”

 

Taehyung opens his mouth to reply but finds himself wordless. Have things changed? He doesn’t even remember the last time he and Bogum had sex, the two barely see each other with their opposite work schedules. By the time Bogum gets home from work, Taehyung is already fast asleep. He hadn’t realized how long he’s been without sex, but the most shocking of it all is how much he doesn’t care.

 

The thought didn’t occur to him until it was mentioned.

 

Taehyung purses his lips and tells them “No, everything is fine,” steering the conversation to Hoseok, who begins explaining the new choreography he and Jimin are creating. He’s quiet the rest of the night, only adding brief commentary here and there. He’s not ready to share his thoughts with them when he doesn’t understand them himself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bogum is currently laying between his legs, caressing the back of Taehyung’s thighs as he takes him into his mouth. He hallows his cheeks and bobs his head up and down, forcing a whimper from Taehyung’s lips mid-sentence. “

 

A-ah!” he pants, licking his lips before resuming his story. "So this customer is standing in the lobby, bitching about how long she’s been waiting, when she can clearly see I’m doing my best trying to juggle the phone calls and the influx of customers waiting to be checked out-“

 

Bogum slides a hand up to Taehyung’s chest, and pinches a nipple. Taehyung jerks at the feeling but continues talking. “There’s not any rooms available yet! So I have to tell her ‘ma’am, I’m waiting on a room to become available, I told you there would be a wait since you are a walk- in, the vet will see you as soon as they can' ”.

 

Bogum slurps loudly, and tries to bob his head faster, moving his hand down to cup Taehyung’s balls, but Taehyung remains unfazed by the feeling. “Then she-“

 

Bogum pulls Taehyung’s semi-hard dick out of his mouth and snaps, “Can you stop talking? This story isn’t a turn on, in fact it’s the opposite. You killed my boner as soon as you started talking about work.”

 

Taehyung flinches at the harsh attitude, guilt washing over him for ruining their moment together. “S-sorry, we haven’t spent a lot of time together lately and I wanted to tell you about my day like I listen to you tell me about yours.”

 

“Look, do you want to fuck or not? Cause if not, then I’m going to sleep.”

 

Taehyung drops his gaze to the side and mumbles sheepishly, “Sorry, I’ll shut up now.”

 

“Okay. Turn around, I want to fuck you doggy style.”

 

Taehyung nods his head and flips over. He closes his eyes and tries to enjoy the moment, but his mind ends up wandering to the errands he needs to get done later this week. He feels Bogum enter him with minimal prep time so the stretch burns despite the copious amounts of lube he feels dripping down his crack. Taehyung starts to stroke himself to ease his mind off the pain. He hears Bogum moaning in pleasure behind him, his name falling out of his mouth in between gasps of ‘you feel so good’, ‘so tight for me’ , ‘you like that yeh? You must love how I fuck you’.

 

Yet, the only thing on his mind is whether he remembered to finish his homework or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pain in my throat gets worse,

Try to cover it

I don’t have a voice,

Today I hear that sound again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung is working on his history homework on the dining room table when Bogum wraps his arms around his shoulders, whispering seductively in his ear, “Babe, I want you.”

 

“Not now, I have to finish this, it’s due tomorrow.”  The lie slips out easily without Taehyung noticing it. The report isn’t due for another two weeks.

 

“You said we could have sex tonight,” Bogum nuzzles his chin into Taehyung’s shoulder. “It’s been a stressful week, and I want to unwind.”

 

Taehyung sighs and tears his eyes from his laptop. “I’ll help you when I’m done, promise.”

 

Bogum slumps his body in defeat mumbling something under his breath that Taehyung doesn’t catch. “What did you say?”

 

Bogum rolls his eyes and heads to the bedroom, “Nothing.”

 

Taehyung focuses back on his laptop, ignoring the attitude Bogum gave him. He spends the next hour adding the finishing touch on his book report, a review he had to do for the book they were assigned to read in class. He glances at the time, 11PM. He looks over his shoulder towards the bedroom and sees the light off. He breathes a sigh of relief. He shuts his laptop and turns off the dining room light, tip toeing to the bedroom. He tries to be quiet as he slips into the bathroom to wash his face and brush his teeth. When he slips under the covers, he holds his breath and listens to his partner’s even breathing.

 

Good, he’s asleep. Taehyung lets himself relax, loosening all the tense muscles in his body and letting himself drift off to sleep.

 

“So I guess we’re not having sex again? Not like this is the first time you’ve promised something and fell through with it.”

 

Taehyung freezes, but tries to relax his body again to play it off like he’s fallen asleep. Bogum sighs loudly, and flips onto his side, back facing Taehyung as he aggressively pulls the blankets toward him. Taehyung doesn’t fight it and continues to pretend he’s already asleep.

 

Guilt starts to simmer in his belly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fall semester is finally over, and although it’s been two months since Jungkook and Taehyung had initially agreed to have a double-date, working around all four of their schedules has been a headache. Luckily for them, the winter break was easier to mediate a day and time that worked for everyone.

 

“You never want to do anything anymore! It’s been MONTHS since we last had sex!”

 

“I gave you a hand job two weeks ago! And I even tried giving you a blowjob last week!”

 

“I didn’t even get to finish! You stuck my dick in your mouth and you just sucked on it for a few minutes and then told me you were bored and left me hard! If you’re not going to let me finish why bother at all?! Stop being such a tease!”

 

“Because when I tell you I don’t want to, you complain. And when I try but don’t do good enough, you still complain! What the fuck do you want from me!?”

 

“I want you to want me the way I want you!”

 

There is only silence between them, their heavy breathing from their heated argument filling the car with tension.

 

“I’m sorry…..I-I’ll try to do better. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I promise I’ll do better.” Taehyung’s apology sits on his tongue like acid.

 

They had arrived at the arcade and have been waiting in the car for Jungkook to text them that they arrived. Bogum runs a hand over his face, irritation marring his features. “We’ll talk about this later.” He steps out of the car and slams the door.

 

Taehyung sits in the car patiently, but after a full minute passes, he gets out of the car and walks up to Bogum’s side. He questions when Bogum had stopped opening the car door for him. He’d been doing it since they first started dating, and they’ve recently celebrated their 4th anniversary. Taehyung bites his lip and mindlessly fumbles with the stainless-steel ring on his ring finger. He feels his phone vibrate in his pocket with what he assumes to be a text from Jungkook, but he doesn’t bother pulling it out to check because he sees Jungkook and an unfamiliar face walking towards them. Bogum clears his throat and greets the stranger, introducing himself and then greeting Jungkook. Taehyung introduces himself as well, taking in the dark brown locks of the stranger, his gentle eyes and aweing at the two dimples that appear at the edges of his smile. Taehyung decides he likes him already.

 

“I’m Namjoon, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” His voice is warm like caramel, sweet and deliciously rich.

 

“I’m Taehyung, nice to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you!” Taehyung smirks at Jungkook, who glares at him. Jungkook mouths back ‘don’t embarrass me’. Taehyung rolls his eyes. He’s going to have so much fun teasing the other. The couples decide to grab some food and drinks first, and then challenge each other to arcade battles after.

 

The group is munching on burgers and fries, and Taehyung completely forgets about the tense atmosphere between him and Bogum as he throws himself over his fiancé’s lap, laughing at the jokes and puns Namjoon smoothly transitions in when the timing is appropriate. Apparently Namjoon’s roommate takes pride in the amount of dad jokes he knows, and Taehyung begged for him to introduce them, knowing they’d get along perfectly. Namjoon chuckles and agrees to introduce Taehyung to his roommate, maybe sometime over their winter break.

 

Bogum hits it off really well with Namjoon, the two engaging in a deep conversation concerning the Jungian model of the psyche. Taehyung doesn’t know how they reached this topic, but he tunes them out in favor of talking to Kookie. He glances to make sure the two aren’t paying attention to him and leans over the table, covering his mouth with the side of his hand in case Namjoon knows how to read lips. “I really like him Kookie. You guys are so cute together. You should see the way he looks at you when you aren’t paying attention.”

 

Jungkook flushes and wiggles in his seat, the tips of his ears burning red. Taehyung coos and reaches his hand out to pinch one of his cheeks. Jungkook slaps his hand away, his eyes crinkling and nose scrunching up when he laughs. As his laughter chimes through the air he fails to notice Namjoon pause mid-conversation to glance at him, an endearing smile on his lips. Taehyung notices though, and his heart softens to see the affection Namjoon show’s his best friend.

 

Later on in the night, while Bogum and Jungkook are double-teaming a mission to kill zombies on one of the arcade games, Taehyung spends more time getting to know Namjoon. Namjoon is in the middle of playing pac-man but he answers Taehyung’s questions without hesitation. “I’m a psychology major, but I am minoring in music composition.” Namjoon successfully beats the level he’s on and the game moves on to the next level, the ghosts even faster than before.

 

“That seems like two very distinct subjects though.” Taehyung furrows his eyebrows, trying to figure out a connection between the two.

 

“I think enriching myself with knowledge of human emotion and behavior will help me with my writing. Words hold power, and I want to use those words to properly express topics and issues that are normally taboo to discuss. A fundamental foundation in psychology will help me approach sensitive subjects with care and delicacy”. He gets too absorbed in the conversation and loses focus, accidentally corning himself with the yellow and red ghosts hot on his ass. Namjoon frowns when the game blinks ‘GAME OVER’. He turns to look at Taehyung, a sweet smile returning to his lips.

 

“What about you? Kook told me you were undecided. Have you found something that interests you now that your first semester is over?”

 

Taehyung tries to hide the small smile when he hears the nickname Namjoon has given his best friend. They really are too cute. “I think I want to major in vocal performance. I’ve always loved singing, but I looked at the classes available for the spring semester and I’m really limited on what classes I can take because of my current part- time job,” he says dejectedly.

 

Namjoon is quiet for a moment, the silence stretching between them, but its not noticeable with the yelling and screaming of the people around them who are over- dramatic with their wins or losses. “I’m actually pretty close to the administrative staff in the music building, and I know here in the next few weeks they’ll be looking for a new desk clerk.” Namjoon rubs his chin in thought, “I’m sure they’d be more than willing to accommodate your class schedule. The pay will be pretty good too.”

 

Taehyung’s eyes widen at the possible job prospect, and he feels excitement bubble inside him, his fingers tingling with energy. “If I officially declare my major, I’ll already be in that building anyways! T-that would be amazing Namjoon-ssi!”

 

“I can text you once the job is officially posted, so you can send your application in. And call me hyung, we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other after all,” he winks.

 

The smile Taehyung gives him is radiant, full of appreciation and gratitude. But that smile slips off his lips later that night--

 

Bogum brings up the argument they had in the car andTaehyung’s mood sours, knowing he shouldn’t have to do something he doesn’t want to do. Simple as that.

 

He tucks himself into bed and reads some fanfiction over an anime he recently finished watching. He's accompanied by Bogum an hour later, who had been in the living room watching tv until now. When he hears the bedroom door creak open, Taehyung shuts off his phone as quickly as he can. His heart is racing in his chest as he closes his eyes to feign sleep. He hears the rustle of clothing, probably Bogum undressing, and then hears him peel back the covers and slip underneath them into bed. It's quiet for a few seconds, until Taehyung starts to hear the familiar sound of skin slapping on skin. When Bogum goes at it for 30 minutes without a release, he hears him groan in frustration. Taehyung doesn’t move and focuses on trying to regulate his breathing to keep up his act. He hears Bogum sigh loudly, but makes no move to help him.

 

The guilt builds up again in his belly, and he curls in on himself in shame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You told me you would try! So why aren’t you trying? I miss you.”

 

“No, you don’t miss me, I’m right here. You just miss my body. And I have been trying. But it hurts! Sex doesn’t feel good! I’ve gotten toys, we’ve tried so many things but I just- I don’t know. I don’t like to. It hurts.”

 

“We used to do it all the time! It’s because we haven’t been doing it often enough that it hurts. If we start doing it more often it will get better.”

 

“But I don't want to. You have a fucking hand! You’ve used it for years up until this point, so why not use it now?”

 

“It doesn’t feel the same!”

 

Taehyung doesn’t respond. He’s laying on his side of the bed, facing the wall. He turns around to look at Bogum’s back and sighs, scooting closer to him. “Hey, I’m sorry.”

 

Bogum doesn’t reply, so Taehyung tries again. “I’m sorry, I promise I’ll try harder.” Bogum still doesn’t respond, even when Taehyung starts shaking his shoulder, even when tears start to prickle his eyes at being blatantly ignored like this. “Please, please, I’m sorry, Bogum please. Please look at me please! I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I promise I’ll try! I promise! Just please don’t hate me.”

 

Bogum does not reply, even when Taehyung starts to frantically shake him, begging for him to respond; even when the tears fall down his cheeks, even when his voice cracks on his last plea. "Please don't hate me-"

 

Taehyung gives up, and scoots back to his side of the bed and clutches at his shirt desperately, sobs wrecking their way through his chest as his tears soak into his pillow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The arguments never end.

 

Taehyung gives in to the other’s wishes and pleas, so he’s not hated, so he doesn't disappoint him.

 

But each time he gives himself, he feels himself cracking inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That sound is ringing again

Another crack forms on this frozen lake

I left myself behind on that lake

My voice was buried for you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung is standing in the kitchen, a large over-sized shirt covering his broad frame, his thighs flexing with each step as he cleans the counters and washes the dishes. Bogum is staring at him hungrily from the couch, as if Taehyung were purposely trying to seduce him. He's just trying to clean their messy house.

 

Bogum comes up behind him, and starts caressing Taehyung’s chest, his fingers brushing over his nipples. Taehyung shivers, and Bogum thinks he likes it, but Taehyung had not expected the feather light touch and he’s ticklish. He doesn’t have the heart to voice out the truth, to start another fight. He gives into Bogum, and lets himself be whisked off to the bedroom, swallowing the dread in the back of his throat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung decides not to enroll in classes for the spring semester. When Namjoon texts him that the position is up on the university’s job listings, he responds saying that he decided to stay at the vet clinic for a little longer. Namjoon replies saying that he’ll let him know if another position like that opens up again sometime in the future. Taehyung is thankful he has someone to call a hyung now.

 

Taehyung picks up more shifts at the clinic, telling them he can work full-time hours for the time being. When he gets off work, he either lounges in Jungkook’s dorm room or spends time watching Jimin and Hoseok practice in the dance hall. He tries to occupy himself, especially on the days he knows Bogum has off. He heads straight to bed when he gets home.

 

Sometimes on a closing shift, Bogum will wake him up when he gets home. Taehyung sits up, flinging the blanket off his legs aggressively. He’s fucking tired, and he wants to go to sleep because its 2AM and he has to be up at the ass crack of dawn for work; but the faster he gets this over with the faster he can go back to sleep. He isn’t aroused at all, because he really doesn’t want to do this with how tired he is, but he throws his thigh over Bogum’s lap to straddle him. He smashes his mouth against Bogum’s and Bogum growls, his hands gripping at Taehyung’s waist. He starts to grind up into Taehyung, and Taehyung begins to harden, not because he’s aroused, but because its his bodies natural reaction to the blood flowing more liberally through his body. Taehyung tangles his fingers in the other’s hair and tugs, pulling a hearty groan from the other’s lips. Taehyung trails sloppy kisses down his neck, releasing his grip on the other’s hair and snaking his hand between them until he reaches Bogum’s cock.

 

He gives him a few pumps, and Bogum peels his boxer briefs down, freeing his hardened member from the confines of his underwear. He moans as he feels the chilly hair nip at his cock. Taehyung grimaces but wraps his warm hand around him, stroking him softly. Taehyung presses kisses onto Bogum’s chest as he fists him, thumbing the head until he hears Bogum whine. He picks up his pace, Bogum thrusting into his hand as he approaches his climax.

 

When strings of white paint over his knuckles in sticky ribbons, Taehyung pulls his hand away and gets up from the bed, grabbing a dirty shirt off the floor and cleaning the residue off Bogum’s stomach. He takes himself to the bathroom to wash the cum off his hands, and when he tucks himself back into bed, he realizes he’s now wide awake again, the drowsiness from earlier completely gone. His blankets are scattered by his feet, and the snores coming from the body sleeping soundly next to him is ringing in his ears.

 

He turns his head to the side, and he has to swallow the resentment that bubbles in his throat as he glances at his fiancé.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung finds himself subconsciously pulling away from his partner’s touch. He doesn’t realize he’s doing it, but he stops greeting Bogum with kisses, and stops snuggling into his arms when he was once so eager for skin to skin contact. Sometimes when Taehyung fakes a yawn and tells the other he’s going to bed, he pretends he doesn’t notice the sad look on his fiancé’s face.

 

He’s fine, he really is.

 

He doesn’t tell his friends what’s happening when they meet up and catch up on their lives. He soaks up the joy he feels when he’s with them, and forces down the sadness that threatens to consume him.

 

“How’s it going for you and Bogum Tae?” Jimin asks, Jungkook and Hoseok turning to look at him.

 

He had invited them over to his condo today. It was spring break, so the other three were free from classes, and he had decided to call in sick to work. He wasn't in the mood to deal with a bunch of people. Taehyung smiles, but it doesn’t reach his eyes. “We set the date for the wedding next year. Exactly a year from now, in April.”

 

Jimin gasps, his eyes glittering with the gold eye shadow he put on them and plump lips covered in gloss. “Oh my god, are we going to be your groomsmen? Am I going to be the best man?!”

 

Taehyung rubs the back of his head nervously, “Er, actually, no groomsmen for either of us. We want to do something small, a destination wedding, just family and a few friends.”

 

Jimin’s smile falters a bit, “Oh.”

 

“But you guys will still be there! Um, I originally wanted to elope and have it be only the two of us, but Bogum wanted his family there, said they would be heartbroken if they didn’t get to be there with us on our special day.”

 

“Oh we definitely would have killed you if you got married without us,” Hoseok adds in.

 

“Yup, literally murdered you,” Jungkook says.

 

Taehyung chuckles softly.

 

He doesn’t mention that he wouldn’t mind dying anyways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bogum has been working 9 days straight, having to stay later to make up for the absence of his assistants who are out on vacation. His work has been stressing him more so than usual, and although Taehyung feels overwhelmed, he tries his best to accommodate Bogum has much as he can. He cooks and cleans, or at least tries too. He feels like he’s been lacking energy these days, and the house increasingly gets more filthy as time passes.

 

Bogum has just gotten home, slipping off his shoes and trudging to the bedroom to shower the sweat and grime off his body. When Taehyung feels the couch dip next to him, he lays his head on Bogum’s shoulder, who presses a kiss to Taehyung’s temple. Taehyung intertwines his fingers with his, and brings his hands up to his lips to press a chaste kiss to his knuckle. His nose crinkles at the smell of cheese and black olives still stuck to his beloved’s skin. The down side of working with pizza all day. He doesn't miss the way his hands would smell like that too.

 

“How was your day?”

 

Taehyung perks up at the question, feeling a little emotionally neglected lately with Bogum’s entire focus on his job. “My day was good! I got to see a bunch of puppies at work today. They were so cute! There was a furry german shepherd puppy that was to die for. He was so adorable I almost cried.”

 

Bogum laughs softly as Taehyung goes on a rant about how cute things make him feel like breaking down a wall, or setting something on fire. His voice is full of so much enthusiasm and he finds it to be the most endearing quality of his partner. Silence falls over the two, but it’s not uncomfortable. It’s moments like this Taehyung enjoys the most.

 

“I love you,” Bogum says.

 

Taehyung stares at him a with a stoic expression. He turns away to look somewhere else when he responds, not wanting to look Bogum in the eyes.

 

“I love you too.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above the winter lake where I’m left alone

There’s a thick sheet of ice

Even in my momentary dreams

The illusions that torture me are still the same

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung snaps and raises his voice, the heat simmering beneath his skin finally boiling over. “All you care about is sex, sex, sex. I’m more than some piece of meat you get to fuck! I have feelings and I understand you have needs but you have a fucking hand! You can masturbate, you can stick a dildo up your ass if you wanted to, hell, you could even get a fucking fleshlight! Why do I have to keep forcing myself like this for you?!” His voice cracks, and he wishes he didn’t cry whenever he gets frustrated or angry, but the tears start to spill over beyond his control. “I’m trying so hard for you, and I’m sorry I keep promising you things I never end up giving you, but I just can’t anymore. I can’t.

 

Bogum stares at him, jaw slacked in shock as he watches the love of his life fall apart in front of him. He wraps his arms around Taehyung and whispers apology after apology, begging him to stop crying, giving him words of affirmation and promises to back off, that he’ll try to stop bothering him about it.

 

Taehyung keeps on crying, his hands fisting Bogum’s shirt. Because he knows. He knows Bogum will back off, but it will only last a few weeks until he returns to begging and guilting Taehyung into sex. He wishes those words whispered in his ear held truth, but he knows by now they don’t. Taehyung lets himself cry until the sobs leave him breathless and exhausted. He lets Bogum re-adjust him so his head is snuggled into the crook of his neck, and he’s running his hands up and down his back in a soothing manner. His tears have stopped, but his eyes don’t leave the ugly stain he notices on the beige wall of their bedroom.

 

He doesn’t remember it being there when they moved in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung feels those hands he once loved on him, but instead of warm caresses it feels as though those fingers burn every inch of skin they touch. He is laying on his back, completely bare, the warm air of the room enveloping his body. He’s been dreading this. He has been dreading this all week, but he has put it off for too long. He knows if he just gives in and gives him what he wants he won’t have to do this again for at least another few weeks. When Bogum returns from the bathroom, a brand new bottle of lube in his hand and a wide smile on his face, Taehyung shivers. He gulps and lays his head back down against the mattress.

 

Bogum notices his expression and halts, “Are you sure you want to do this?”

 

Taehyung eagerly nods because he wants to get it over with already. Bogum hovers over his body, already nude himself, and presses his lips against Taehyung’s. He kisses back, pressing his lips firmly against the other. He feels a wet tongue swipe his bottom lip, asking permission to slip into his mouth. Taehyung obliges, and their tongues spend minutes exploring their mouths.

 

It feels wrong. He doesn’t know when these kisses he used to love so much became so foreign to him. Bogum kisses passionately, trying to excite him. Taehyung can only try and go along with it, to pretend he’s into it. When their kisses become languid, Bogum starts to nip at Taehyung’s jawline, and he works his way down his neck and over his chest. He focuses all his attention on his nipples, rolling the nub around with his tongue, and he pinches the other one in between his fingers. Taehyung’s back arches off the bed, and a groan escapes his lips.

 

“Please don’t pinch or suck too hard” he pleads.

 

Bogum leans back, a trail of saliva connecting his lip to the hardened bud. Bogum trails kisses down his soft stomach, stopping at the happy trail of hair that leads to his soft cock. Taehyung breathes a sigh of relief now that his nipples are free from the abuse. They have desensitized by now, no longer giving him the shocks of pleasure they used to when played with.

 

“You’re not hard.”

 

Taehyung who has had his eyes closed until now, snaps them open.“It’s fine, just- just keep going.”

 

“No, you’re not into it.”

 

 When was the last time he was into it? Taehyung feels tears well up in his eyes. If they stop now, he’ll just have to go through all this again in the next few days. They’ve gotten this far already, he only has to put up with a little more.

 

“Just, just keep going. Eat me, that always gets me hard.”

 

Bogum sighs and pats his right hip, signaling him to turn around on his stomach. Taehyung twists himself and perks his bottom up. He burrows his face into the blankets and after a few seconds he flinches when he feels that cold tongue rimming his entrance. Bogum kneads at the globes of his ass and moans as he sticks his tongue inside him. It’s messy, and he can feel saliva dripping down the inside of his thighs. Taehyung internally cringes. He used to love this so much, though the initial excitement had evaporated years ago. This doesn’t hurt. This feels okay. This feels nice.

 

Bogum's tongue dances around his hole, letting Taehyung's greedy hole suck him in. The sounds of slurping and sucking are jarring to his ears as Bogum devours him. Maybe it won't be so bad this time. It's the same lie he always tells himself. Taehyung feels all his muscles tense when a finger prods his entrance and enters him. He spoke too soon.

 

“Babe, you have to relax, you’re too tight.”

 

Taehyung tries to will mental images that used to get him off when he was younger into his head but nothing works. Nothing arouses him. He focuses on his breathing instead.

 

“There you go.”

 

When Taehyung feels a second and third finger enter him, he curses.“M-more lube, I need more lube!”

 

Bogum removes his fingers too fast and Taehyung squeaks, his hole clenching immediately. The fingers enter him again, and the pain lulls to discomfort with the added lubrication. Bogum pumps his fingers, scissoring them, and works Taehyung open. He can feel those fingers hooking inside him, desperately searching for the bundle of nerves that would send him keening into the sheets. He doesn't want these fingers inside him anymore. 

 

“I’m ready, just stick it in,” he says despairingly.

 

Bogum wastes no time in sliding into Taehyung. The stretch hurts, the fingers not wide enough to mimic the fullness Bogum’s cock gives him.

 

He doesn't want a dick inside him. 

 

“No wait, turn around instead. I want to see all of you.”

 

Taehyung flips over, and hooks his arms behind his knees, curling them into his chest to give Bogum easier access. When he feels the tip of his cock enter him again, Taehyung clenches his eyes as tight as he can.

 

“Oh fuck, you’re so tight,” he moans. “You feel so good babe.”

 

Taehyung has his hands fisted tightly around the sheets he’s laying on. His knuckles are almost white with the lack of blood because of how hard he is gripping it. His dick is soft as it rests on his stomach. Taehyung feels his pulse pounding loudly in his ears as Bogum keeps inching more of himself inside him. When their hips meet, Bogum stills to allow Taehyung to adjust. The blood rushing through his body from panic has finally reached his dick because it starts to rise and harden. Taehyung curses his body for betraying him. He lifts his head and peeks at Bogum, who has his eyes closed, lost in the warmth that Taehyung's tight hole gives him.

 

Taehyung curses inwardly and shuts his eyes again, throwing his head back onto the mattress. They’re almost done. Just a little longer. He can do this. He's survived this for months now. He can take it. 

 

“Ready?”

 

Taehyung nods silently, flinging his arm over his face in an attempt to hide the tears he knows will come. Bogum’s thrusts start deliberately slow, but he gradually picks up speed. By the time he’s pounding into him, there are moans and groans and curses of how good it feels to be inside him, fucking him with everything he has. Taehyung whimpers, and his chin quivers as the tears well in his eyes, spilling over onto his cheeks, trailing down to his chin.

 

A broken cry escapes his lips, and Bogum growls. He peeks at Bogum, and the two share eye contact for a brief moment. Bogum closes his eyes again, his lips in a silent “O” as a particular thrust has him seeing stars. Taehyung wonders if Bogum has noticed his body’s lack of a response, if he cares enough to see just how unwilling he is to continue this, or if he’s so lost in his own heaven that he doesn’t realize these broken whimpers and tears are of pain and not of pleasure.

 

Bogum doesn't look at him again.

 

Taehyung cries silently as Bogum keeps thrusting into him, wanting this to stop. He knows the other is close, and has to bear with it for just a little longer, just a little longer. His chest is heaving with the sobs he tries to quietly suppress, while the other’s chest heaves from physical exertion. He feels disgusting. He can’t begin to explain the wrongness of it, of why his body refuses to listen to his commands to relax. His body doesn't want this either, and it tenses to try to protect itself. This only makes it hurt worse. 

 

“I l-love you,” Bogum says, “I love you so fucking much.”

 

He leans in to peck Taehyung on the lips, but Taeyhung turns his head to the side at the last second. Bogum doesn’t notice he had purposely done so.

 

“I-I’m gonna cum, I’m gonna cum- I’m gonna-“

 

Taehyung feels his warm seed explode inside him, and with one final thrust, Bogum stills, filling him to the brim. His eyes are dazed, pupils dilated and chest heaving. There’s sweat beading on his forehead. He doesn’t ask why Taehyung is trembling, too absorbed in ecstasy. With a satisfied sigh he flops over onto the bed, not bothering to clean himself nor to wipe him down. He passes out instantly, lips parted and eyelashes fluttering, mellow snores that sound like nails on a chalkboard in Taehyung's ears. He lays there for a while, motionless, the tears drying on his cheeks now that he has pulled his arm away from his face. When he feels the tackiness of cum coating the inside of his cheeks as it spills out of his abused hole, he gets up and waddles to the bathroom. He sits on the toilet, letting gravity expel the fluid inside him. He wipes himself quickly and closes the bathroom door, returning to sit on the toilet seat and dropping his head in between his legs.

 

He cries for what feels like hours, voice hitching and cracking with the sobs tearing his throat apart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have I lost myself?

Or have I gained you?

I suddenly run to the lake

There’s my face in it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung doesn’t realize he’s sinking until his lungs are almost filled with water. He wonders when he became a shell of what he used to be, when he had sunken into the familiar waters that once drowned him.

 

He hates himself.

 

He hates himself more than he has ever hated anyone in his life.

 

Each day he wishes death upon the person who stares back at him in the mirror. If he were normal they wouldn’t be fighting every week over this. If he were normal he wouldn’t cry himself to sleep after giving himself to the one he loves. If he were normal, he wouldn’t be suffering like he is now.

 

 

 

‘Why was I born broken?'

 

 

 

 

‘What is wrong with me?’

 

 

 

 

 

‘I don’t want to be this way’

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘please, I want to be normal, please’

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘I don’t want to feel this pain anymore, please, please, please kill me’

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘please kill me’

 

 

 

 

 

 

please’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please, don’t say anything

I hold out my hand to cover your mouth

But in the end, spring will come some day

The ice will melt away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bogum is silent, refusing to look at Taehyung. He’s angry, frustrated that Taehyung won’t give him what he wants. He tries to be strong, tries to hold his ground. But guilt has almost finished consuming him, and he hates himself for resisting the pleasure he’s withholding from someone he loves. He’s supposed to do this. He has to. He doesn’t want Bogum to be mad at him. It hurts too much, it hurts too much to be ignored, and this is fair. Relationships are about sacrifice, and he’s willing to break himself into tiny pieces if it means Bogum will love him.

 

He’s too afraid to say ‘no’, to refuse Bogum’s insistence, because even though he tells him over and over how much he loves him, he knows deep down inside that Bogum will leave him if he doesn’t give him what he wants. Taehyung is too scared to be alone, and they’ve been together for too long for him to give up like this. So he pushes the bile back down his throat and presses against Bogum, smoothing his arms over his shirtless chest, grazing his fingers around his strong biceps and downwards until he reaches the expanse of his stomach. He hears Bogum take a sharp inhale and shudder.

 

Taehyung moves his hands lower to cup him, and he feels Bogum harden with every kiss he presses into the back of his neck.

 

“Can you blow me?” he whispers.

 

Taehyung pauses, relieved that he doesn’t have to have sex tonight, but the prospect of a blow job is just as unappealing. He’s quiet for a moment, the guilt wrapping around his heart and squeezing the life out of him. Taehyung drains of color, his lips a ghostly white, but it can’t be seen under the cover of night. He thought he outgrew his fear of the dark, but his monsters are not hiding under his bed anymore. They’re living inside him, clawing their way out of him each night, leaving him with deep gashes across his skin and blood pooling from his soul as he tries to hold himself together, weeping for the part of him that dies each night he forces himself to be loved like this.

 

He doesn’t know how he’s still alive with so many pieces of him gone.

 

“Y-yeah, I’ll blow you,” he squeaks. He inches himself down Bogum’s body until his face is eye level with his groin. His cock is completely hard for him, straining against the fabric of his boxers. With shaky fingers, he pushes his briefs down, cock springing out from its prison. The smell of musk assaults his senses, and he breathes though his mouth to keep himself from gagging. Bile rises again in his mouth, and he squeezes his hand around his own thumb to resist the urge to heave.

 

He doesn’t want to do this.

 

His hand envelops Bogum’s thick cock, the velvety skin now clammy with the sweat from his hands. He thumbs over the slit and strokes him once, then twice, and Bogum arches his back off the bed with a throaty groan. Taehyung’s mouth feels like cotton, but he licks his lips anyways, using whatever bit of moisture left to slick his lips with spit. He turns his head away to take a deep breath and then leans down to swallow him whole.

 

Taehyung has always had a bad gag reflex, so he pants around Bogum’s cock, trying to focus on not spilling his guts everywhere. He doesn’t try breathing through his nose, disgusted with the scent of sweat and natural odor. He only manages to fit half of the throbbing member in his mouth, using his other hand to squeeze the base. One hand is gently prodding his scrotum and he listens to Bogum’s whimpers and pleas, who suddenly thrusts into his mouth and chokes him. He retches and pulls his mouth away, wiping away the excess saliva pooling under his tongue. Tears prick at his eyes with the force of the retch.

 

“Sorry, sorry!”

 

Taehyung thinks if he was really sorry he wouldn’t have to do this in the first place.

 

Taehyung clenches his jaw shut when he feels the comforting blanket of despair fall over him, so accustomed to its presence he doesn’t bother fighting the tears that paint trails of sadness down his cheeks.

 

“Hey, are you okay?” Bogum sits up on his elbows, but he can’t make out the expression of the other in the dark. He reaches a hand to stroke his cheek gently, “why are you crying?”

 

He can tell when Taehyung cries by his uneven breathing. He knows him like the back of his hand.

 

 “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Taehyung whispers brokenly.

 

 He hates himself. He hates himself for hating the love he’s trying to give, he hates himself for being so selfish. He hates the disgust that suffocates him, the guilt that chokes him, and the love that’s tainted his very core.

 

Taehyung continues to cry when he puts his mouth back on him, squeezing his eyes close as hard as he can, hallowing his cheeks and bobbing his head faster. He feels the bitter taste of precum in the back of his throat, and he gags again. The sniffle he tries to hold in escapes from his lips, and he sobs loudly, “I’m sorry.” He chants it. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he mumbles quietly to himself in between pants, desperately hoping Bogum’s approaching his orgasm. He can’t keep doing this for much longer, the ache in his jaw grows more uncomfortable. He squeezes the base of Bogum’s cock harder, begging it for its release, begging for it to finish, begging so he can stop doing this.

 

His cock does not respond with coats of white ribbon like he wants and he voices out a cry of frustration, covering his face as he weeps into his hands. Bogum is cooing, trying to comfort the other, but Taehyung can hear an underlying tone of frustration in his voice.

 

“Hey, its okay. I’ll do the rest.”

 

Taehyung continues to cry, and Bogum pays no heed as he vigorously edges himself to completion.

 

“Turn around, I want to cum on your ass,” he groans.

 

Taehyung sniffles and wipes away the stray tears before he slips out of his underwear and turns around. Bogum crawls up behind Taehyung, and he hears the warning a fraction of a second before he feels it, feels the strings of cum coat his backside. It’s only slightly warm, but it feels like it’s searing into his skin.

 

Bogum drawls out a thank you and flops onto his back.

 

Taehyung says nothing and slowly drags himself to the bathroom to clean up. When he gets back to bed, he feels Bogum wrap his arms around him and secure him against his chest. He waits until his breathing evens out to wiggle out of his embrace and move himself to the very edge of the bed.

 

He whimpers, letting himself finally break, feeling the tide of tears wash over him. He claws at his skin, leaving harsh indents that break skin. He pushes the palms of his hands so hard into his eyes that he sees galaxies. He wants to die, he wants to become one of the stars he sees behind his eyelids.

 

 

 

 

 

When you go out at night and gaze upon the sky, it seems eternal and unchanging. But the brightness you see is in the past, for many of those lights have burned out over the passage of time.

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung stares at the ceiling and pretends he’s staring up at the night sky. He was once told he was a bright star among the bleak darkness.  The numbness coursing through his veins tells him otherwise.

 

His star died long ago.

 

Maybe he was never a star in the first pace.

 

He doesn't know what he is--

 

But he loathes who he’s become.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tell me if my voice isn't real

If I shouldn’t have thrown myself away

Tell me if even this pain isn’t real

What I was supposed to do back then

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

The chill of winter shifts into the warmth of spring, the heavy rains that follow the month of April are scattered, and the torrential rain wreaks havoc on local river and ponds as the water level surges across the streets.

 

Taehyung briefly smiles from under his umbrella, tipping it over his head to let the rain soak into his hair, into his skin. He wonders if the clouds are crying with him, or for him. The rain drips down his face, down his cheeks and soaks into his clothes. The air is humid, so the rain is nothing short of refreshing. He looks down at his clothes and realizes his scrubs are completely wet. He doesn’t have time to run home to change without his car. The car had been a luxury, and since their condo was at the heart of the city he could take the bus or train to anywhere he needed to be. So he had decided to sell it, stashing away the money into a savings account for a rainy day.

 

As he looks back up into the sky, he wonders if it’s a sign. He pulls his phone from the pocket of his pants, unworried about the drops that fall on it. He had bought a waterproof case when he knew he would be working around animals. Better safe than sorry. He brings up the correct contact on his phone and presses the call button, lifting the phone to his ear. They answer on the 4th ring.

 

“Thank you for calling Angel Animal Hospital, this is Sora, how can I help you?”

 

Taehyung is fortunate to have such a good relationship with his manager. He apologizes sincerely for the inconvenience, but she holds no malicious tone when she tells him that it’s okay. She wishes him the best, and with that, their conversation ends. Taehyung drops his arm back to his side. He closes his umbrella and begins the journey back to the condo, unperturbed by the fact that he is now unemployed.

 

 

 

 

 

Bogum doesn’t blink an eye when Taehyung tells him he quit his job. He makes enough money to support the two of them. He urges Taehyung to enroll in summer classes, and maybe that desk clerk position would open up once the fall semester approaches. For now he can just focus on his studies. Summer rolls by slow, and Taehyung spends a majority of his day lounging on the couch watching tv. He can’t bring himself to do his college work, procrastinating it as much as possible. He enrolled in online classes, so it’s not like he has to leave the house, but his lack of energy renders him immobile. He stares groggily at the tv day after day, time slipping through his fingers. His grades drop in his classes, and he struggles to keep up with them.

 

Bogum grows more and more irritated when he comes home to a dirty house. Taehyung spends all day here yet there’s dishes piling up in the sink and laundry scattered all over the floor. There’s a fine layer of dust collecting on top of the furniture. He snaps at him to stop being lazy and to do something, telling him that he doesn’t work 12 hour a day to come home to this. There isn’t any dinner made for him and he’s starving.

 

Taehyung glances at him, a distant look in his eyes, and turns his focus back onto the tv.

 

Bogum tsks, and walks out of the condo, deciding to grab some fast food for himself again. When Bogum leaves, Taehyung shuts off the tv. He pulls his phone out and gets on the SoundCloud app, pulling up the song Jungkook had sent him a few weeks ago when they last texted earlier in the summer. He hadn’t kept in contact with his friends lately, each of them preoccupied with their own lives. He knows they’ll all convene together eventually, so he doesn’t worry about it too much.

 

The link Jungkook had sent him takes him to a profile page, the artist under the name of SUGA. Taehyung doesn’t give it much thought when he puts the song on replay again, having been listening to it on repeat for the past few weeks. He plugs his earbuds into his ears and lets the music wash over him as it lulls him into a state of false-content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A repeating seesaw seesaw game

Now I’m sick of it, sick of it

A repeating seesaw seesaw game

We’re getting tired, tired of each other

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Group Message: Four dumb twinks

 

 

 

From Jungkook (3:49PM):

 

Listen up sluts, since you guys have been radio silent all summer, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Namjoon and I are throwing a small get together at his apartment, so I figured I should invite some friends.

 

 

From Jimin (3:52PM):

 

You say that as if we aren’t the only friends you have

 

 

 

From Hoseok (3:53PM):

 

lol

 

 

 

From Jungkook (3:55PM):

 

Wow, fuck you

 

 

From Taehyung (4:01PM):

 

I’m down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung’s always a social butterfly when it comes to social events, engaging in conversations with strangers until they’re laughing and sharing jokes as if they’ve known each other forever. Despite his usual bubbly nature, he finds himself anxious about the party, not really in the mood to talk to people. He hasn’t told his friends about the struggle he’s having with Bogum right now and doesn’t even mention the party to him, knowing that it’s impossible for him to take a Friday night off. It’s the busiest work night of the week for him.

 

He stares at himself in the mirror, his once chubby face now slim due to the weight he has lost over the course of the year. His pants are loose, and he has to secure his belt extra tight to keep them on his hips. He debates whether he should dress himself up or not, but the bags under his eyes are a dead give away to his sleepless nights. He’s not much of a makeup wearer like Jimin is, but he’s picked up a few tricks here and there. He heads to the store the day before the party to find concealer, not trusting Jimin’s to match his slightly darker skin tone. Jimin offered to help him get ready when Taehyung had called him with questions regarding concealer colors but Taehyung politely declined, saying he’s seen Jimin apply his makeup enough over the years to know what to do.

 

The night of the party, he swipes the concealer under his eyes and blends it in with his finger. He got a concealer that specifically counteracts purple hues, so he doesn’t look like the zombie he was moments ago. He adds some eyeliner, smudging the black around his outer lash line and applies his favorite pink hibiscus tinted lip balm. He looks at himself in the mirror with a satisfied nod, knowing he looks pretty good when he puts effort into his appearance. He walks over to his closet and pulls out a pair of black ripped denim, and a sheer white blouse with a wide neckline to show off his collarbones.He finishes the look with a few silver earrings in both ears, and one dangling chain. He eyes his engagement ring sitting on the bathroom counter, where he place it before showering. He leaves it sitting on the counter and puts on silver fashion rings on all his other fingers, except that one finger. With a tongue poking the inside of his cheek, he glances one last time at the engagement ring and closes the bathroom door behind him as he readies to leave.

 

Jungkook had texted the group chat Namjoon’s address, an apartment complex downtown. It’s relatively far from his home and without his car he almost paid for an uber but was saved by a message from Hoseok and Jimin asking if he needed a ride. They knew he had sold his car, and although he didn’t want to ask them for the favor originally, he’s glad they offered. His friends pick him up a quarter till 8, their music on blast driving with all their windows down. The wind whips his hair around and he’s thankful he didn’t put much effort in styling it, letting the longer strands that came down past his ears tickle his face. The drive takes almost 40 minutes with all the rush hour traffic, cars congesting the roads bumper to bumper. The parking garage under their apartment complex made finding a spot easy. There were still a bunch of open spots left, probably people who were stuck in traffic like they were. When he exits the car and slams the door shut, he can fully take in his friends’ appearances.

 

Jimin is engulfed in a pink and white stripped V-neck that compliments the coral color of his freshly dyed hair. He has a few rings adorning his fingers, and his jeans are tight against his muscular thighs. There’s some purple eyeshadow framing his eyes, and his lips are glossy. His look could be described as soft, but Taehyung knows better than to assume Jimin isn’t a feisty little shit.

 

Hoseok’s outfits on the other hand are……. more colorful. More daring. He takes fashion risks, but he always pulls off even the most ridiculous of styles. Taehyung thinks it could be because of his aura of confidence. He’s honestly a little surprised with how tame his outfit is tonight, just a pair of white ripped jeans with a white tank tucked in under his black belt. It makes the flaming red of his hair pop.

 

They two of them look good. He’s glad he dressed up, because if he stuck with his dirty sweats and stained T-shirt he’d look like a sewage rat in comparison.

 

“Tae!” Jimin squeaks, voice reverberating his name through the garage as he pulls him into a tight hug. Taehyung laughs, patting his back awkwardly and pushing him away gently. Jimin’s brows pinch together at Taehyung’s unusual reluctance to physical affection, but Taehyung doesn’t notice his expression because Hoseok’s throwing his arm around his shoulder and dragging him towards the elevators.

 

“I feel like we haven’t seen you in months Tae!” Hoseok babbles on about what’s been happening since they last talked. Something about their end of the year recital and how big the turnout was this year compared to last year.

 

Taehyung doesn’t comment much on it besides a small congratulations, feeling bad that he didn’t attend despite the many invitations he received from the two. He played off not being able to request off work, knowing he had quit his job at the vet clinic a couple weeks prior, but that’s a detail he left out. He hadn’t been in the mood to leave the house all summer, cooped up on the living room couch like a hermit.

 

Jimin adds in that he had broken up with his boyfriend, some dancer he was with for a few months. Said he didn’t feel right being with him and broke things off quickly. He hopes to pick up a cutie here at the party, wanting to get laid. He’s been sex-deprived for way too long cause he and his ex hadn’t lasted long enough for them to do anything fun. Jimin took his relationships seriously, taking them slow and waiting a while before getting intimate.

 

On the contrary, single Jimin was very much down for one-night stands.

 

Taehyung fidgets at the talk of sex, a topic he used to have no problem engaging in now leaves his stomach heavy with rocks. He tries to crack a few jokes but they feel so wrong slipping out of his mouth. Hoseok and Jimin are too busy cracking up to notice Taehyung shifting anxiously from foot to foot. When the elevator doors open, the three venture out to find the correct apartment number. The room ends up being way down the hall, the last room on their left. He can hear the heavy bass music through the door and his eyebrow hitches up in shock that none of his neighbors are pounding on the door with complaints rolling off their tongues.

 

“Damn, must be some party,” Hoseok says as he knocks on the door. They wait around and decide to see if the door is open but no one responds.

 

“They’re not going to hear you with the music blasting that loud you fool.” Jimin shoves Hoseok out of the way and pushes the door open.

 

Taehyung’s jaw drops in shock at the amount of people in the room. Now their apartment is by no means small. Jungkook had mentioned Namjoon’s apartment was almost as big as a house, yet he’s taken aback by how giant the room is and how many people are packed tightly in there. That must explain why none of his neighbors are making a fuss, they’re probably all partying in there with them. Heck, their whole apartment complex must be in there. The three make their way inside and they stand off to the side, eyes scanning the mass of sweaty bodies filling up the entire living room. They catch the top of Jungkook’s head as he zig zags through the throng of people with Namjoon in tow. His big eyes light up with joy when he sees his friends.

 

“You guys made it!” he slurs, a red solo cup resting in his palm. Jungkook’s eyes are gleaming, his black hair parted to the side. He looks good, a red blouse tucked into tight-leather pants that define his tiny waist. He might be a photography major, but the boy definitely works out and you can tell. He even dances with Jimin and Hoseok some nights which have become a sort of stress reliever for him. He’s definitely in shape.

 

Taehyung feels a little self-conscious now with his thin body frame. Maybe he should start working out too.

 

Namjoon greets him, that warm smile gracing his lips. He has a hand wrapped protectively around Jungkook’s waist to steady him in case he stumbles. Jungkook’s notorious for pre-gaming, so Taehyung wouldn’t be surprised if the youngest of them all were already tipsy. He's only talked to Namjoon a few times since they went on their double date almost half a year ago. He doesn’t know what to say to him now that he’s standing in front of him in person, so he settles with listening in to Jimin and Hoseok go off about how amazing his rap battle was against Yoongi-hyung. Taehyung doesn’t quite follow, unaware that the group had gotten so close to Jungkook’s boyfriend in the time that they’ve been dating and expanded to include others he has yet to meet.

 

This insecurity only grows when a stranger appears from the depths of the crowd.

 

The man is tall, with dark brown hair and a full set of plump lips. His hair falls over his eyes, and he looks like he walked straight out of a photoshoot. He has to be some sort of model. It’d be a crime to restrain that level of beauty and shoulders that broad from gracing the covers of fashion magazines. The man joins into the conversation easily, and the group starts to laugh as they reminisce over the rap battle Jimin and Hoseok had mentioned earlier. Apparently this took place a few weeks ago at a nearby club, not that Taehyung ever got the memo. He stands off to the side awkwardly watching the group of friends banter with each other. He hadn’t noticed how out of touch he’s been with his friends until now, and he’s never felt more alone. He’s torn his eyes away from their smiling faces to stare down at his feet, fumbling with the rings on his fingers, a grimace frowning his lips. Minutes pass by and he’s almost tempted to leave and catch an uber home, but a hand on his shoulder snaps his attention up to the tall stranger.

 

“You must be Taehyung; I’ve heard a lot about you from your friends. They don’t shut up about you.” The man says with a honey-like voice. “I’m Seokjin by the way, Jin for short.”

 

Taehyung flushes, not used to being greeted by such an attractive person and he stutters over his words.

 

“You’re adorable,” he says with crinkling eyes. “Would you like me to make you a drink?” Taehyung looks over his shoulder to peer at his group of friends, and they’re all still engaged in conversation.

 

“I don’t really like alcohol, it tastes bad.” He says bluntly.

 

“To be honest I’m the same way. I have to make the drink really sweet so I can barely taste it. If you’re up for it, I can try making you one of my favorite combos. It’s really simple but if you like tropical flavors you might enjoy it. I was about to make myself one anyways.”

 

Taehyung nods and Jin leads him over to their kitchen. There’s an array of alcohol bottles lining up against the counter. Taehyung sees a bottle of scotch, tequila, and whiskey to name a few, but Jin reaches for none of them and instead grabs the bottle of coconut rum. He pours some into a cup and follows up with sprite. He garnishes the drink with a lime slice and hands it over to him. Taehyung picks the lime out of his drink and squeezes it in, sloshing the mixture around. He takes a sip and his eyebrows shoot up.“Wow, I can barely taste it. This is really good. Where’d you learn to make this Jin-sshi?”

 

Jin prepares himself his own drink while he responds. “I experimented with things over the years. And it’s hyung to you now. Cheers?”

 

Taehyung’s chest feels warm as he taps his cup against Jin’s.

 

“Now let’s get this party started shall we?” he winks.

 

Taehyung hasn’t had this much fun in so long. The crowd dwindles throughout the night, and honestly Taehyung prefers it that way. An hour into the party, he had already drank 3 cups of what Jin named a ‘Nutty Sprite’, claiming his drink should have a name as gay as he is. Taehyung couldn’t help but laugh along to the older’s squeaky laugh that sounded like a dry windshield wiper. To say Taehyung was having the time of his life was an understatement.

 

The crowd dispersed and made way for a dance floor, and everyone took turns in a dance battle. Namjoon and Jin were fairly decent, but they were dominated by Jungkook’s powerful steps. Hoseok had tried to push Taehyung into the circle but Taehyung didn’t want any attention on him so he declined. Jimin broke through the crowd as soon as the music changed to something sensual, no doubt his own doing. He moved his body like it was weightless, with such grace and fluidity that Jungkook was too stunned to respond with his own movements, so he was kicked out. Hoseok jumped in last, his dancing sharp and precise. The song changed back to pop, and the two seemed like they were in their own little world as they grinded against each other. The circle lost its form as the crowd declared the battle as a tie between them and more people began to leave. Taehyung didn’t bat an eye at the obvious sexual tension between Hoseok and Jimin. They were touchy people and that increased tenfold under the influence of alcohol. Their drunken selves were always all over each other.

 

Taehyung spent the rest of the night laughing with his friends as they retold stories and embarrassing memories. He didn’t bring up Bogum, and he’s thankful that no one else did. There were in the middle of a board game out on the patio when Namjoon had pulled out his buzzing phone.

 

“Sorry guys looks like Yoongi-hyung can’t make it tonight after all. He’s sick.”

 

Jin rolled the dice and threw it on the board, “It’s probably for the best anyways. The crowd tonight was bigger than expected, and you know how he feels about big crowds.”

 

“Aww, hyung had promised me he would let me listen to one of the new songs he was working on. I miss my frienddddd,” Jimin whines with a pout.

 

“Oh please, Jimin, as if you haven’t had your sights on Yoongi-hyung since you saw him.” Hoseok slurs.

 

Taehyung swears he hears an undertone of jealousy under those words but he’s too drunk to process what that could mean.

 

“I have not!” Jimin flushes and throws his hands in the air. “I just said he was cute, that doesn’t mean I want to bone him! Besides, I already have someone I like.” His voice lowers with the last sentence and his expression becomes a bit vulnerable.

 

Hoseok rolls his eyes, “Yeah, course you do.”

 

Jimin’s eyebrow twitches and anger ignites in his eyes, “And what’s that supposed to mean?”

 

The two start to bicker and Jungkook, who’s currently passed out on Namjoon’s lap, lets out a huge belch that startles everyone. They all turn to find him still peacefully asleep. Jin wrinkles his nose in disgust and Jimin and Hoseok snicker, the fire between them extinguished. Namjoon smiles softly and wraps his arms around Jungkook to pick him up. "Since everyone has left, this’ll be my queue to take this sleepy bunny to bed. You guys are all trashed so you’re welcome to stay over.” Namjoon bids them goodnight and wanders off to his bedroom with a drooling Jungkook drooping lazily in his arms.

 

The rest of the group follows him back inside, and Jin does one last sweep through the entire apartment to let any stragglers know that the party’s over. When they’ve made sure everyone is completely out, they tag team on the clean-up, throwing the empty cups and bags of food laying around into a trash bag. Since they’re all intoxicated it takes them longer than it normally would, but with four people helping, the apartment is cleaned up in no time. Jin wipes his forehead, beads of sweat trailing down his temples. Taehyung also feels a bit sweaty. He turns to find Jimin and Hoseok but sees them already passed out on the floor.

 

Taehyung pulls his phone out to shoot Bogum a text to let him know he’s staying over at a friend’s. He doesn’t bother checking for a reply. He yawns and stretches out his arms. He’s glad they cleaned up now rather than in the morning because he’s positive they’ll all have hangovers.

 

“You’re welcome to sleep on the couch. Let me get you guys some blankets and pillows.” Jin disappears down the hallway.

 

“Thanks hyung” he says. Taehyung flops down on the couch and closes his eyes for a brief moment, only to succumb to the grip of sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

The sweet smell of cinnamon wafts through the air, and a rumbling stomach stirs Taehyung wake. He rises from the couch and rubs the sleep from his eyes as the blanket cocooning him slips off. His eyes squint at the sunlight pouring into the room and his head throbs in response. He lets out a low groan on his shuffle to the kitchen. “Morning,” he slurs, smacking his dry mouth.

 

Jin is full of energy as he chirps out his greeting. “Morning sleepyhead, I left some painkillers and water bottles on the countertop for you guys. I’m making pancakes.”

 

“Oh my god thank you so much, my head is killing me.” Taehyung grabs the pills and downs them with water. He chugs the whole water bottle in four sips. Wiping the excess water dripping down his lips, he pulls a chair out and sits his butt on it.

 

“Need any help? I can make some eggs and bacon.”

 

“That would be great actually, thank you.”

 

The two cook quietly together with the sound of sizzling oil between them.  The rest of his friends awaken little by little, Namjoon and Jungkook appearing from the depths of their room. They start to set out the plates on the dining table and Jungkook takes it upon himself to wake the last two sleeping buffoons. Jungkook nudges the tangled form of limbs with his foot, and he swears he hears Jimin hiss at him. Taehyung patters behind him and sees the two on the floor with drool collecting at the edge of their lips. He brings a piece of bacon with him and crouches down to hover the piece over their noses. He sees Jimin’s nose twitch but its Hoseok who suddenly stirs awake and snaps his mouth around the bacon. Taehyung yelps when Hoseok bites his finger, and he holds it against his chest as he whines in pain.

 

Jimin jolts awake at the sound, head whipping back and forth. “What’s wrong, what happened?” When he sees Taehyung coddling his bitten finger he coos and crawls over to him to hug him.

 

Hoseok rubs the back of his head sheepishly and mutters a few apologies but Taehyung waves them off and tells them breakfast is ready. Jungkook is still snickering behind him at what  happened when they enter the dining room. The group livens with each bite of food that fills their starving bellies and by the time they are done, all food has been wiped clean off their plates. Taehyung is nursing a food baby when he gets up to pick up all the dirty plates and waddles to the kitchen sink. Jungkook follows right behind him with empty glasses. Jimin and Hoseok are put on dish cleaning duty since they were the last to wake up.

 

Jin cleans off the dining table and Jungkook helps Namjoon take out the bags of trash leftover from their party. The apartment is spotless by the time all the friends crowd themselves on the couch.

 

“So what’s everyone’s plans for today?”

 

“Kook and I are heading to the next city over for a special museum exhibition they have there this weekend. We’re making a day trip out of it so we’ll be leaving here in the next couple of hours.” Jungkook snuggles into Namjoon’s arm and kisses his cheek.

 

Jin nods and turns to look at the other three. “What about you guys?”

 

“Hoseok and I have fall auditions to judge today for our dance team. We’ll be busy all morning and all afternoon. Who knew we’d have so many applicants wanting to join us. Must be because of how badass we are.” The two high-five and burst into a fit of giggles.

 

Jin rolls his eyes at their arrogant remark but smirks. “What about you Taehyung?”

 

Taehyung hadn’t noticed but he was bouncing his leg anxiously and fidgeting when he replied, “um, probably just go home. I’m all caught up on my homework so I don’t have anything important to do.” Jin narrows his eyes at Taehyung’s shift in demeanor but smooths his features out when he asks him if he would like to stay and keep him company for the rest of the day. Taehyung jumps on the offer without hesitation and blushes when he realizes how enthusiastic he was. He felt like he and Jin just clicked, so he was excited to get to spend more time with the elder.

 

The group decide to watch a movie together before they separate to go about their day. It was noon by the time everyone had left. Jin and Taehyung spent the rest of the day yelling at each other over videogames, threats viciously dripping from their mouths as they got absorbed into a competitive round of Mario Kart.

 

“Hyung don’t you dare. Hyung. Hyung, don’t do it!” Taehyung screeches after being hit by a blue shell and Jin rushes past him to cross the finish line in 1st place. Taehyung crosses the line as soon as he recovers from the attack, but complains when he gets 5th place. “That was dirty hyung,” he pouts.

 

“Taehyungie, let me give you some wise advice.”

 

Jin pauses the game and looks at him with a serious gaze. “It’s customary to bow sir, you stand before King Bowser.”  Jin purses his lips to hold in his laugh. Seeing the blank stare on Taehyung’s face in reaction to his pun breaks him though and he falls over into a fit of laughter. Taehyung follows him soon after with chuckles of his own.

 

“That was terrible hyung!”

 

“Hey Taehyung, what do Koopas wear on their head?”

 

Taehyung rolls his eyes in preparation for another joke. “I don’t know hyung, what?”

 

“A shellmet.”

 

Taehyung tries. Tries really hard not to laugh, but he sees Jin’s eyes crinkle at the corners and his cheeks scrunch up looking like a cute chipmunk but the dying noise that escapes his throat under the guise of laughter is what sets him off. Taehyung falls over and his whole-body shakes with the force of it as his face starts to redden from the lack of air. Tears gather in the corner of his eyes, and for the first time in over a year, they aren’t from sadness.

 

The day goes by rather quickly and before he knows it, it’s dinner time. He’s still full from lunch. Jin made an array of sides to accompany his famous steak and noodle meal. Taehyung questioned the combination at first but he had never tasted anything as good as that in his life. The two stuffed themselves full and had to nap for a few hours to sleep off the urge to vomit. Maybe they ate a little too much. Either way, it’s now dinner time and although Taehyung isn’t completely hungry, he wants to nibble on something small so he isn’t up late at night with hunger pains. As a thank you for letting him stay over and for the lunch, Taehyung invites his hyung for some coffee. The elder ruffles his hair in acceptance to the invitation and the two head out the door.

 

The sun is slowly setting behind them, the bright oranges and pinks of the sky melting together. It’s a beautiful sight and Taehyung has the itch to paint it, even though he hasn’t touched a brush in two years.

 

The stroll to the café is short, and the air is warm but not the overly suffocating heat that chokes them during the day. They happen to pass the pizza parlor he used to work at, and Taehyung stiffens when he spots Bogum’s silhouette through the glass windows. He turns his head away and ignores the shame at not responding to any of his texts today.

 

The café is a little crowded when they arrive with ten people currently waiting in line. Taehyung scans the shop but finds a number of booths still available. The two glance at the menu and decide on their order. Taehyung isn’t fond of the bitter taste of coffee so he settles for a blueberry muffin and a lemonade. Jin decides to get a cinnamon-vanilla iced latte. Taehyung pulls out his wallet to pay after they reach the register and place their order. When its ready they grab their drinks and head to a secluded booth in the back.

 

“So what are you majoring in anyway Jin-hyung?” Taehyung settles himself into the worn out leather of the booth seat.

 

Jin takes a sip of his drink and hums in appeasement at the sweetness. “Fashion design, but I’m more interested in modeling outfits than designing them.”

 

Taehyung slaps his hand on the table, “I knew it! As soon as I saw your face I had no doubt you would be a model.”

 

Jin leans into his seat with a confident smug. “It’s because of how handsome I am right? I know. These good looks were born to bless the cover of magazines.” Jin has no shame in admitting he’s good looking.  He tells himself how gorgeous he is in the mirror every day. It’s what keeps him feeling so confident.

 

“I wish I had your confidence hyung.” Taehyung breaks off a piece of his muffin and throws it into his mouth.

 

“What are you talking about Taehyung, you have the facial features of a greek god. If anyone should be confident in this whole café, it’s you and me.“ Jin nods at his statement and Taehyung lets out a tiny snort.

 

“No, I’m serious Taehyung. You could easily be a model too if you wanted. I’m surprised you haven’t been scouted yet.”

 

“No way, I look like a mess right now. I haven’t brushed my teeth all day and I feel like I’m still sweating off the alcohol from yesterday.” Taehyung hasn’t checked his appearance all day but he’s positive his eyeliner is smudged and his hair looks like a bird nest.

 

“Oh please, you could wear a trash bag and still make it look good. Faces like ours can pull off anything.” Jin steals a piece of Taehyung’s muffin and nibbles on it.

 

“I’ve been wanting to dye my hair for a while now to change up my look. If you feel like getting a makeover, we could do it together. You and I could rule campus Taehyung. Our beauty is unparalleled.“

 

Taehyung picks up a strand of his hair. He hasn’t cut it in a while and its gotten pretty long, reaching past his earlobes. He rolls the blond lock between his fingers. “I might take you up on the offer hyung, I’ve been needing a haircut. Might re-bleach my hair too. My dark roots are growing in.”

 

Jin grins and their conversation continues on into different tangents. They share what classes they’re taking this semester, and then start complaining about professors they’ve both had.

 

An hour passes in the blink of an eye, and Jin brings up the question he’s been dreading to answer.

 

“So how did you meet your fiancé?”

 

Taehyung’s mood visibly withers, the smile melting off his face. “We met when we were 18. We worked together. ”He doesn’t go into detail and just gives Jin short, clipped answers.

 

Jin is perceptive and picks up on the shift in mood quickly. He furrows his brows and takes caution with his next words. “I know this is none of my business, but are you okay? If you want to talk about it, I’m willing to listen. If you don’t, that’s okay too. I know we’ve known each other for less than a day, but sometimes it can be easier to talk to a stranger.”

 

Taehyung blinks and removes his gaze from the hole he was burning into the table.“You’re not a stranger anymore hyung. You’re my friend now.”

 

Jin gives him a sweet smile and Taehyung bites his lip. Taehyung honestly contemplates spilling everything to Jin, wanting to tell him about the currents that are threatening to drag him under and drown him in its ocean. He chews on the inside of his cheek, a little remorseful for wanting to tell Jin everything he’s been going through when he hasn’t even told his best friends, who have been with him since they were kids. He settles for wording the thoughts broadly so he doesn’t give too much away.

 

“Do you think…..it’s selfish to not want to do something that you know your partner needs?” Taehyung refuses to make eye contact as he mumbles his question. He chooses to focus on his half-eaten muffin instead.

 

Jin ponders his answer for a moment, crossing his arms on the table. “Depends on the situation and what your definition of ‘need’ is.”

 

Taehyung licks his lips. His mouth has grown dry so he takes a sip of his watered down lemonade. “Well, it’s not life or death per say, but it’s something they certainly enjoy.”

 

“Do you like doing this for them?”

 

Taehyung freezes, blood running cold in his veins. Jin detects the new stiffness in his movements. “No……not really.”

 

Jin leans forward, and doesn’t speak until Taehyung’s eyes turn to look at him. “Taehyung, if you don’t like it you don’t have to do it.”

 

“It’s not that simple though. What if it’s a major way they show and feel love?”

 

Jin frowns. “There are plenty of ways to show love. It’s not limited to one form of action. You can feel love through kind words, soft kisses, maybe giving them a massage when their back hurts, or cooking their favorite meal for them. It can be as simple as taking a moment to look into their eyes and smile.”

 

“But what if neither of those things are enough? What if they want more than I can possibly give them?” Taehyung fumbles with his fingers, and he brushes the empty spot where his engagement ring should be. A blanket of silence falls over them.

 

Taehyung feels some tension in the air, the unspoken words and their double meaning settling between them. He peaks up at Jin to see his hardened eyes. His lips are pursed tight and there’s a scowl on his face, but somehow Taehyung has a feeling its not directed at him.

 

“Then you aren’t the selfish one, they are.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Taehyung returns home that night, he’s surprised to see Bogum already there. Bogum looks up from the tv. “Oh hey, where were you all day? You’re all dressed up. You look good.”

 

Taehyung nods and heads straight to the bathroom to brush his teeth and shower. He’s drying his hair with a towel when he joins Bogum on the couch. “Namjoon and Jungkook threw a party last night. A summer bash before the semester starts up again.”

 

“Oh that’s cool. Did you have fun?” Bogum’s attention is trained on the new episode of a drama he’s been watching. Taehyung grows frustrated that Bogum isn’t looking at him when he speaks.

 

“Yeah. I slept over and spent the rest of the day with Jin.”

 

At this, Bogum pauses the show and adjusts himself on the couch to glance at Taehyung in confusion. “Wait, who’s Jin?”

 

“Namjoon’s roommate.”

 

 Bogum nods in understanding, “Oh right, right, I think I remember Namjoon mentioning he had a roommate. What was he like?”

 

Taehyung smiles when he thinks of how much fun he had with his hyung today. More fun than he’s had with Bogum in a while. “He’s awesome.”

 

Bogum clicks his tongue and returns to watching his show. “Low-key salty I can’t take off work on Fridays. I would’ve loved to party and drink myself stupid. Yesterday was a nightmare. The ovens-“

 

Taehyung listens to Bogum go on a rant about work again, something about their bottom oven malfunctioning and having only the top two working which lead to a backup of pizzas. They had lots of orders delivered late. He goes on to talk about how their lunch rush today was just as crazy but it died down once dinner came around, so he was able to leave earlier than usual. He drowns out Bogum's voice when Jin’s words pop into his head again.

 

Then you aren’t the selfish one, they are.

 

Taehyung’s biting his bottom lip raw and he feels the tang of copper fill his mouth when he spits out, “I think we should postpone the wedding.”

 

Bogum pauses mid-rant. He doesn’t bother to look at Taehyung. He doesn’t even look shocked. The silence between them is awkward.

 

“Okay.”

 

 

 

 

 

Its uncomfortable telling their families that they have decided to postpone the wedding. Even their friends starting asking the who, what, where and whys. Taehyung presses his tongue against his cheek as he lies, telling them that they need more time to save up money. This excuse works well enough and their friends and family are understanding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of the summer drags on, and although Taehyung still struggles with his online classes, he manages to pass them with a low B. His pride takes a hit, unused to the stain the lower grades bring to his academic record. He has always been a straight A student. He tries not to beat himself up too much over it, knowing he’s been having a hard time keeping up with his loss of energy. He's relieved that those classes are done with now.

 

Taehyung receives a text from Namjoon two weeks before the fall semester starts, informing him that another desk clerk position opened up. Taehyung sends in his application that same morning and lists Namjoon as a reference. On the day of his interview, he’s prepared. He’s researched common interview questions and studied his answers. He interviews very well, so he’s confident he’ll get the job. What he doesn’t expect when he finally shows up for his interview is the fact that Namjoon himself is the one interviewing him.

 

“Ah, I forgot to mention it didn’t I? I work as a part-time recruiter for the university.”

 

Taehyung’s initial nerves ease as the conversation flows smoothly between them. By the time he walks out of the building, he’s leaving with a new job.

 

Taehyung closes his eyes and puts on his earbuds as he lays in bed that night, letting the song flow through him freely. It’s still on replay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If we didn’t have feelings for each other


If we didn’t think of each other


Would we have dragged it out like this?


Now if you don’t have any more feelings


This seesaw is dangerous


Stop thinking about me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first week of fall classes is hectic to say the least. On his second day of class, he’s already assigned two different projects in two different classes. His last class of the day doesn’t have many students, thankfully, but when he’s told their class has been randomly chosen by the director of the College of Music to assist the seniors with their capstone projects, he slips down further into his seat and groans.

 

“Every student in this songwriting class will be required to compose a song of their own. We have plenty of resources available to you all to aid your creation. The song will be pivotal not only to this class as your midterm grade, but to the seniors as well. You will be performing your songs in front of them, and if a senior producer chooses your voice, you are expected to assist them. It is an honor to be chosen, because not only is their capstone required for them to graduate, it is also their ticket to being scouted by the industry, among their other works of course. You’ll be helping each other, because their score is also your final grade for this class if you’re selected.”

 

Wow, no pressure.

 

Taehyung’s always enjoyed arts, so he has dabbled his hands in painting, crafts and poetry. He wonders if he can find any usable lyrics in his old notebooks. His poems were pretty good, so he’s hoping he can draw inspiration from those and go from there. Maybe he can even get Namjoon’s help too.

 

When the class ends, Taehyung wanders over to the reception area located on the first floor of the building. His first day as a desk clerk was a little overwhelming, since starting the same week as classes meant there were a lot of new freshman with questions he did not know the answers to. The manager was kind and helped him through them all, showing him how to find the answers to the most common questions, which were tucked away in a white binder underneath the desk.

 

Aside from the daily ministrations of phone calls and paper filing, a majority of Taehyung’s time would be keeping track of the studio schedules. The entire first floor and basement of the building was lined up with studio rooms and recording booths. Each room could be blocked off two hours at a time, with a weekly limit of 16 hours per student. The studios were open all week, 24/hrs. a day.  Bookings were made on a first come first serve basis, and most of those students were juniors and seniors.

 

Over the course of two weeks, Taehyung had become familiar with a lot of the other students. It was usually the same people showing up regularly each day. He spent the first week observing how to book each studio and set the timers. It was fairly easy, but Taehyung didn’t want to rush into doing it and mess up, so he chose to watch how the manager did it. He remembers one student in particular on his first day book the same studio at the same times every day for the whole year.

 

He was shocked when he took in the soft features of the man, dark auburn hair contrasting his snow white skin and small, sharp eyes. His voice was baritone and calming. Taehyung could probably listen to him talk for the rest of his life. He didn’t catch his name though, because the manager already knew who he was as soon as she saw him. They greeted each other, and Taehyung stared in awe as the student’s standoffish demeanor melted into a shy smile. The man noticed him gawking and glanced at him briefly from over the manager’s shoulder. Taehyung flushed and tore his eyes away to stare down and mess with the stainless-steel ring on his finger, embarrassed to have been caught staring.

 

By the time he had the nerve to look back up again, the boy was already gone.

 

Weeks pass and Taehyung finds himself falling into routine. He rises early for classes and is gone before Bogum wakes up. He meets up with Namjoon on the mornings he has classes in the music building and the two walk there together. After his classes, he goes to work for a few hours and then spends the rest of the evening in the library or goes to Jin and Namjoon’s for dinner with Jungkook. Hoseok and Jimin have also gotten into the habit of showing up there after their dance rehearsals. His loneliness starts to subside as he takes in the happy faces around him, bellies warm and full. He’s been smiling a lot more, and even Bogum has backed off. He hasn’t asked him for anything in over a month. He lets a bud of happiness grow in his heart. It’s tiny, but it’ll bloom someday. He’s okay with this small bubble of happiness for now.

 

He thinks maybe everything will be okay after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I think we should break up.”

 

Taehyung was in the middle of drying the dishes when he looks up at Bogum, his eyes furrowing in question. “Break up? Why?”

 

Bogum is calm and collected as he speaks. “We’re not happy.”

 

Taehyung blinks, and hunches his shoulders as his head leans back in disbelief. “I am happy, why would you think I wasn’t? I love you, and I want to spend my life with you.”

 

“Taehyung…….you barely look at me anymore. You’ve grown distant. You don’t kiss me, you don’t greet me when I come home, hell, you’re not even home half the time I’m here!”

 

“But I do love you! I know I don’t say it as often as I should but I do!” Taehyung feels his eyes water, and he looks away to discreetly wipe the tears that manage to roll down his cheeks.

 

“Please, don’t do this. Please. I can change. I swear I can change. I’ll try harder, I’ll kiss you more, I’ll show you my love as soon as I see you, so please, don’t say those words. Please.” His voice hitches but he tries to keep his voice steady.

 

“Taehyung, I’m not happy anymore. And I know for a fact you aren’t either. This is the best for both of us.” Bogum’s eyes are red, and his nose is flushed pink at the tip. He can see the shine in his eyes, tears that have yet to be shed.

 

“I promise I’ll try harder. I promise. We’ll have sex more, we’ll spend more time together, please. We’ve been together for so long, and we’re getting married! Please, please, please don’t leave me.” Taehyung’s voice cracks and he feels the world caving in on him. He feels the monsters inside him clawing at his insides, ripping him apart. The tears are overflowing and he’s drowning. He’s drowning as his own sobs fill the room, sadness pouring out of every crack in his soul. “It’s because I’m like this isn’t it? It’s because I can’t give you what you want. You said you loved me. You promised me you would stay with me, that you loved me for who I am. Can you not love me the way I am right now? Am I so unlovable that you can’t bear to spend the rest of your life with me anymore? I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, please, please I can change, I can change. I promise I can change. I’ll do anything. Please, I love you.”

 

Bogum has tears running down his face, and his features are twisted in pure agony. “And I love you, and that’s why I know we need to end this.” Bogum takes a step closer, and Taehyung collapses in on himself. Bogum rushes to him and cradles him in his arms. “Shhh, it’s okay. We’ll be okay.”

 

Taehyung continues sobbing, and even when Bogum leaves for his closing shift with the reflection of heartbreak in his own eyes, he doesn’t stop. He’s heard stories about how painful heartbreak is, but this is far worse than anything he could have ever imagined. He barely registers the cries as he empties his stomach into the toilet. Each violent sob forces him to retch in the toilet bowl even harder, and his tears only continue to flow. He hears distant screaming. It sounds like someone is dying with how agonizing the screams sound.

 

He doesn’t realize those screams are coming from his own throat.

 

He hears one final crack inside him, and the sound echoes through his whole being as he feels his heart shatter completely. His vision blurs and he lays himself on the cold floor. He doesn’t know how many hours he spends frozen but he eventually pulls himself up and walks out of the bathroom. He stumbles over himself, his body exhausted from the emotional turmoil it’s been forced through. The only sound that escapes his mouth are whimpers as he begins packing all his things.

 

 

 


 

 

 

It’s a Saturday night and Jungkook has just gotten home from his date out with Namjoon. They recently celebrated their one year together, and Namjoon had made reservations to a classy restaurant overlooking a beautiful lake. They reminisced about how they got together, and Jungkook had fun teasing Joon throughout the whole evening.

 

“Remember your reaction when you came over to my dorm one night to help me cram for a test, but got too distracted when you saw me in a tank top for the first time?” Jungkook smirks as he watches Namjoon stutter and his face redden.

 

“Yup, exactly like that!” Jungkook claps his hands in amusement, his nose scrunching up into that bunny- like smile of his.

 

“Oh please, as if I didn’t notice you drooling over my thighs anytime I wore shorts.” It’s Namjoon’s turn to smirk as Jungkook’s cheeks glow pink underneath the chandelier lights.

 

The two spend their night dining on fleshy cuts of steak and garlic potatoes, teasing one another in between bites. They even shared dessert, a warm cup of peach cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream-- his favorite. They shared sweet-tasting kisses in the car, a few too heated to be considered appropriate in a public space, but they threw those cautions to the wind as they soaked in their love.

 

By the time Jungkook got home, it was well past 12AM. He stripped down out of his black slacks and his black blazer, loosening up the tie around his neck. His hair was styled into a part, forehead on display, with wisps of hair tickling his forehead. He looked good. He was checking himself out in the mirror as he changed into his pajamas when he suddenly heard a knock on his door. He glanced at his clock,

 

“It’s 1AM, who the hell is knocking on my door this damn late?”

 

Jungkook buttons up his shirt and tip toes to the door. He asks who it is, but when he gets no response he reaches for the baseball bat he keeps by the door. (So what if he’s in a college dorm? There’s sickos everywhere; better to have something on hand than nothing.) He cracks the door open slightly and peaks through. His eyes shoot up in surprise and he drops the bat, opening his door completely. Taehyung is standing in front of him with two giant duffle bags. His face is completely red, and his eyes are swollen. Even his nose looks raw. Jungkook asks no questions and grabs the duffle bags from him and sets them on the floor out of the way. He gently grasps Taehyung’s hand and leads him into his room, closing the door shut completely. He doesn’t say anything, just lets Taehyung curl around him in bed. Taehyung doesn’t utter a word of what happened but that’s okay.

 

He’ll wait until he’s ready to talk.

 

Jungkook runs his hands through his hair while Taehyung lays his head on his chest. He doesn’t know how much time passes when he hears a raspy voice mutter, “Can you play the song?”

Taehyung's voice is so soft, so vulnerable. It hurts Jungkook’s heart to see his best friend like this. He’s never seen him look so broken.

 

He whispers gently, “What song Taehyung?”

 

“The one you sent me at the beginning of the summer.”

 

Jungkook nods and reaches for his phone, pulling up Yoongi's soundcloud. Jungkook doesn’t think Taehyung knows who SUGA is. Heck, he might not even know who Min Yoongi is yet. Yoongi has barely seen them all summer because of a music internship he got with a label. Jungkook tucks away a reminder to have Namjoon properly introduce the two. Jungkook hits play and leaves the phone on speaker. He gets up and turns off the lights, wrapping a blanket around them when he returns to bed.

 

Taehyung remains awake when Jungkook falls asleep, staring into a void of darkness. The music isn’t too loud, but it’s enough to muffle his thoughts. He immerses himself in the words, and lets the calm and baritone voice relax him. He thinks the voice sounds familiar, but he doesn’t dwell on it as he finally drifts off to sleep, the music still playing in the background:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hol’ up hol’ up I’m walking on this seesaw without you
Hol’ up hol’ up just like the beginning when you weren’t here
Hol’ up hol’ up I’m walking on this seesaw without you
Hol’ up hol’ up I’m getting off this seesaw without you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung doesn’t leave the dorm for 3 full days.

 

Jungkook had tried to coax him out of bed the following morning, still not knowing exactly what happened. By the way Taehyung desperately clings to the song he keeps on replay, he knows that him and Bogum are over. He just doesn’t know why. So he lets him wallow in bed the rest of the day, providing the silent support he knows his friend needs. When Monday morning rolls around, he offers to stay with Taehyung, but his friend waves him off without a word. Taehyung shouldn’t be skipping his classes on the 3rd week of the new semester, but considering his current emotional state, it’s probably for the best.

 

Jungkook is reluctant to leave him alone that morning, but he has no choice. His professors are strict this year and his attendance is a huge part of his grade. As soon as he finishes his morning classes, he speed walks over to the dining hall for lunch. He and Namjoon have an hour break in between their classes on Mondays and their schedules happen to overlap, which allows them to spend a little time together on campus. He approaches the usual table they meet at with a tray full of food. Today’s menu is salmon and wild rice, with a side of steamed broccoli. He starts to scarf his food and is finished by the time Namjoon shows up. The elder greets him with a kiss on the forehead and places his tray down across from him and takes a seat.

 

Namjoon immediately notices the tenseness in Jungkook’s shoulders. “Kook, you okay?”

 

Jungkook lets out a frustrated sigh and runs his hand through his hair, a tick of his when he’s feeling overwhelmed. “It’s not me, it’s Taehyung.”

 

Namjoon pauses and lowers his fork. “What’s wrong with Taehyung?”

 

“He showed up saturday night with a bunch of his stuff. I’ve never seen him look so devastated. I’m pretty positive he and Bogum broke up.” Jungkook bounces his leg and leans his chin into the palm of his hand, elbow shoving the tray out of the way. “He hasn’t said a word to me about it though. He looks so dead inside hyung, I don’t know what to do.” Jungkook blinks the tears from his eyes.

 

Namjoon stands up and slides his tray to the other side of the table and takes a seat next to Jungkook. He wraps an arm around his back and Jungkook leans into him. Namjoon can feel him shaking, trying to hold in his tears. “Heartbreak is never easy. He needs time to heal. The only thing we can do for him is provide him with love and support. He’ll open up to us when he’s ready.”

 

Jungkook sniffles and looks up at Namjoon with tear stained cheeks. “I know hyung, but he won’t eat. I can barely get him to drink water. I knew something was off, he’s been so distant, but I never thought it was this bad. I’m so worried.”

 

Namjoon runs a soothing hand through his hair and down his back. Jungkook clutches his shirt tighter. “Maybe he should stay with Jin and I, that way there’s more people to look after him. You told me he had no family members in this city, didn’t you? If he has no other support system aside from his friends here, we should all keep an eye on him. Jin has a spare air mattress he could use. I’ll talk to him about it tonight.”

 

Jungkook uses the inside of his shirt to wipe his tears. “I don’t think Taehyung was able to get all his stuff out of Bogum’s place. Will you go with me to get it?”

 

“Of course.” He kisses Jungkook’s temple and he sighs with relief.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Taehyung feels empty. He still follows the same routine: He gets up early, goes to class, goes to work, goes to the library, and buries his mind in his schoolwork. The only difference is, instead of returning to the place he once called home, he returns to Namjoon and Jin’s apartment. It’s only temporary, he knows his friends are worried about him and they care, but he can’t take how much they’re coddling him. It’s suffocating. So after a full week goes by, he musters all the strength he has left to put a smile on his face. He reassures them that he’ll be okay, but he needs space.

 

It takes a lot of convincing, but they manage to work something out since he has no where else to stay. Jungkook already spends most of his nights at Namjoon’s, so Taehyung can stay in his dorm. Hoseok and Jimin had tried to convince him to stay with them when they heard the news of his breakup, but their small room is already overcrowded with the two of them. Jimin and Hoseok settle for coming over to visit him whenever they can in between classes, since their buildings are next to each other.

 

The weeks roll by in a blur and each day it gets easier to pretend he’s okay, to pretend he has any semblance left of the Taehyung they used to know.

 

 

“Ugh, I have no idea what I’m doing!” Taehyung whines, shoving his notebook away from him. He’s been staring at his notebook for what feels like hours. It’s only been 30 minutes. “Hyung, I’m too emotionally constipated. I can’t put what I feel into words. Can’t you let me use one of your old lyrics?”

 

Namjoon looks up from his own notebook. “I have plenty you could use, but the point of this assignment is for you to create something of your own. I’m only willing to give you the melody and chord progressions of a song I have already produced. All we would need to do is set aside some studio time to record your vocals once you come up with the lyrics.” Namjoon reaches into his backpack and pulls out a flash drive. “Here. I was planning on giving this to you anyways.”

 

Namjoon slides the flash drive across the table to him and settles back into the couch. Taehyung whines again and drops his head onto the coffee table. It’s a thursday night and everyone had agreed to meet up at Namjoon and Jin’s for dinner. Jin was already in the kitchen with Jimin cooking. They were still waiting on Hoseok and Jungkook to get out of class.

 

Jin wipes his hands on his apron and dawdles by the kitchen entrance. “Is Yoongi coming tonight? That brat’s been MIA since summer started.”

 

“Hm?” Namjoon looks up from his book, too engrossed in reading to hear the question.

 

Jimin pops his head out the kitchen, “He asked if Yoongi-hyung was finally going to eat dinner with us tonight.”

 

“Oh yeah, he’s been cooped up in the studios like usual, but he said he would be coming tonight.”

 

Taehyung lifts his head up at the unfamiliar name. “Wait, so I’ve been meaning to ask this, but who’s this Yoongi person anyways?” Taehyung looks to Jin and Jimin for an answer, but the both of them nod their chins toward Namjoon.

 

Namjoon blinks, “Have you guys not met yet?”

 

“No?” Taehyung says with a confused look on his face. “Am I already supposed to know who he is?”

 

Namjoon opens his mouth to answer but the doorbell rings. He lifts himself off the couch and heads to the entrance to unlock the door. “Ah, speak of the devil.”

 

Taehyung hears a loud snort and a familiar voice answer, “Like they say, speak of him and he shall appear.”

 

There’s a loud ‘clang’ in the kitchen and Jimin rushes out, ripping off his apron and barreling to the front entrance screaming “YOONGI-HYUNG!”

 

Taehyung turns his head to see this person, but he sees Jungkook and Hoseok walk through the door first. “Look at the stray cat we found wandering the streets. Bumped into him on the way here.” Hoseok’s as bright as ever, his heart-shaped smile illuminating the room. Jungkook follows after him and greets Taehyung and Jin, heading straight to Namjoon’s room to put his backpack away and change.

 

Namjoon walks into the living room with the stranger in tow. Taehyung rises to his feet to greet him but stands off to the side awkwardly as Jimin drags the man straight to the kitchen to greet Jin. He hears Jin’s reprimanding tone echo through the whole apartment. “About time you showed up! You could’ve died and been stuck in a ditch somewhere for all we know!”

 

Taehyung chuckles softly to himself when he hears a guilty mumble and a string of sorrys. When the man walks back into the living room, Taehyung finally gets a good look at him and his eyes widen in surprise. It’s the student he saw his first day of work. The one who pre-booked a studio for the whole freaking academic year!

 

Taehyung’s jaw drops as he takes in the man’s appearance. The dark auburn hair glints red under the yellow light of the living room, and his fair complexion is still unblemished. He’s dressed head to tow in black, accented by a black leather jacket. It’s the beginning of October, so the weather has cooled off enough for the nights to get chilly enough to need one. Piercings line the edges of his ears and one dangles lower than the others.

 

He feels those dark eyes piercing into him and he involuntarily shivers. Taehyung feels his mouth dry and he puckers his face like he ate something sour. The two stare at each other until the sound of an awkward cough breaks his stupor and Taehyung regains self-awareness. He peeks up at Namjoon who’s currently looking between them with a raised eyebrow. Taehyung blushes a bit and hunches over his body, embarrassed to be caught gawking again. He can’t help it! The guy looks so cool. He’s glad he let Jin take him to a hair salon this past weekend, the elder deciding to go blonde, and he himself deciding he needed something new too (they say a haircut represents new beginnings after ending a relationship), so he went for a bold statement and dyed his hair a bright blue.

 

He styled his hair today, and he’s wearing a decent outfit: a pair of blue jeans with an oversized beige sweater. Up until now he’s been wearing worn out T-shirts and sweatpants, but he had wanted to put a little effort into his outfit today to feel a bit better about himself. He pats his past-self on the back for that decision. Reminding himself he doesn’t look like a street rat, he confidently steps towards the man and reaches out his hands.

 

Namjoon introduces them. “Taehyung, this is my best friend Min Yoongi. We’ve known each other since our teens. Yoongi, this is Kim Taehyung, the sweet dongsaeng I’ve mentioned.”

 

“It’s nice to finally meet you Yoongi-ssi.” Taehyung smiles.

 

“Ah, no need for formalities, especially with all these guys. Hyung is fine.” Yoongi sends him a shy smile back.

 

Jungkook walks into the room and claps, rubbing his hands together. “Okay, so now that the whole group is gathered here today, we can finally discuss a friend outing. Midterms are around the corner and we should party it up a bit before we’re all busy again.”

 

“Kookie, isn’t that something we’d plan AFTER midterms, not before?” Taehyung rolls his eyes and places a hand on his hip.

 

 “Nope, we should do it before. We can do something else after if we survive midterms.”

 

Taehyung and Jungkook fall into their customary banter as they fight over the reasons why partying before midterms is a bad idea. Hoseok joins into their passionate rant to rile them up even more as he pushes the coffee table to the side with his foot, laughing hysterically when their argument escalates into a wrestling match. Their hyungs watch them bicker with amusement until Jin and Jimin announce that dinners ready and they all gather around the table to eat. Conversation flows freely through them as the friends take turns talking about anything that comes to mind.

 

“How’d your internship go Yoongi-hyung?” Jungkook asks in between mouthfuls of food.

 

Yoongi takes a sip of water and wipes his mouth with a napkin. “It was decent. The people I worked with were assholes and refused to hear any of my input. I mean, I’m glad I had the opportunity to see what working in the industry was like, but I was a coffee runner more than anything.” Yoongi frowns at his plate.

 

Hoseok leans back in his chair and rubs his full stomach with a satisfied grin. “What’s kept you holed up in your studio all these weeks? Working on something new?”

 

Jungkook leans forward excitedly, “Are you working on a new song?”

 

Yoongi smirks at his younger friends’ obvious excitement but corrects him, “ more like songs.”

 

“Any idea when they’ll be done?” Jin folds the napkin off his lap and places it on the table. “Namjoon had mentioned he was working on a mixtape too.”

 

Namjoon takes the last bite of his meal and pushes his plate away from him. “I wouldn’t call it a mixtape. More of a playlist. Different vibe. Yoongi knows already. We’ve spent some sessions throwing ideas back and forth.”

 

Taehyung’s mind wanders during the ongoing conversation and speaks little. He’s not paying much attention to what they say. They shift from speaking about music to what the plan is for their outing. The other people around the table charge their conversation with energy, rapidly firing ideas back and forth about what they should do or where they should go. Taehyung laughs where he feels it’s appropriate, and comments whenever he thinks he should voice his opinion. There’s no authenticity to his voice though. Even when he’s surrounded by people he considers friends he still feels all alone. Taehyung lets the happy façade he’s had all night slip off for a moment and he sullens.

 

Taehyung is too busy staring at his plate and pushing his food around with his fork to notice Yoongi eyeing him from across the table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hey Taehyung?”

 

Taehyung is filing away papers in the filing cabinet next to his desk when he hears his manager call his name. He rolls his chair away from his desk and spins around to give her his full attention.

 

“A gentleman came by earlier today and handed me this letter to give to you. I didn’t catch his name, but he was very polite.”

 

Taehyung tilts his head in question, wondering who would have possibly left him a hand-written letter. Emails and text messages exist in this century after all. He assumes it’s from his parents since they’re relatively old-fashioned, so he wastes no time tearing the envelope open and reading the letter once she walks back to her office. Anger boils under his skin when he finishes reading it, his hands shaking with fury. He rips the letter apart, tearing it into pieces and throwing them into the trash. He tries to be as calm as possible when he asks his manager if he can have a short break. When she gives him a kind smile, his anger evaporates, and he’s left with a pit in his stomach. He briskly walks away from the lobby, exiting the doors and finding the back of the building where there is little chance of anyone seeing him.

 

His legs start to shake and his lip trembles, the pit in his stomach growing too big. His fingers start to tingle, and the numbness starts working through his body. His lungs contract and he grabs his throat, desperate to take in more air. His breathing grows shallower with each passing second and he drops himself on his knees. He doesn’t notice the tears already streaming down his face when he curls in on himself, making himself as small as can be. He lets himself cry, lets himself cry over his five year relationship that ended a month ago, cries over the loneliness he feels, cries over the pain he pushes to the recess of his mind, cries over the feelings of hate he has towards himself, and finally lets himself cry over the letter.

 

The letter that Bogum had written him, telling him he didn’t have enough strength to tell him in person how much he still loves him, telling him that he’s sorry for the pain he has caused, sorry that things didn’t work out between them, sorry that he’s not strong enough to stay here in the same city, and sorry that he’s running away.

 

Bogum is moving. Bogum is leaving him behind, broken and alone.

 

Taehyung tries to be discreet, but the pain is burning him alive inside. Hot tears drip to the ground and he clenches his fist and punches the ground with each sob that leaves his lips until his knuckles are bloody and raw. He’s too lost in his heartache to see the gentle hand reaching for him that grips his wrist in a delicate hold. Taehyung flinches at the touch and pulls his hand to his chest, not caring that it smears blood on his white uniform. He cowers at being caught but he sniffles and jerks when it dawns on him who is crouching beside him.

 

Yoongi says nothing as he pulls out a pack of tissues and wraps Taehyung’s hand in them. Taehyung whimpers at the pain, drying his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt with his uninjured hand. Yoongi takes off his jacket and places it around his shoulders, pulling the hood over his face. Taehyung is grateful no one sees his tear-stained face and nose dripping with snot as Yoongi leads him back inside the building towards the restroom. He breathes a sigh of relief when its empty. He pushes the hood off and shakes his hair, running his other hand through it restlessly at the humiliation of being seen like this.

 

Yoongi doesn’t release his injured hand. He turns on the faucet and peels off the bloody tissues, pulling his hand under the running water. Taehyung hisses at the sting though his eyes remain trained on the red tinted water that swirls down the drain. He waits for the string of questions that are bound to come but they never arrive. He glances at Yoongi briefly who washes his hands under one of the other sinks and dries them before returning his attention to Taehyung’s hand. He dabs some paper towels on his knuckles to soak up any lingering blood that still oozes from the wound. By the time Yoongi’s finished cleaning up his hand, Taehyung has properly recovered from his emotional outburst enough to speak.

 

“I’m sorry….and thank you, for helping me hyung.”

 

Yoongi gives him a reassuring smile and pats him on the back. “Don’t mention it,” he says as he walks out of the bathroom.

 

Taehyung lingers there for a few more minutes, biting his bottom lip. He looks at his reflection in the mirror. His eyes are puffy and glazed over. His nose is bright red and there’s blood all over his shirt. He looks down at his torn-up hand. He’ll have to leave work early and get his hand properly treated. Taehyung slumps his shoulders and walks back to the lobby with guilt in his heart and shame in his soul.

 

Taehyung doesn’t expect to see Jimin laying in bed watching 'Toddlers in Tiaras' re-runs when he gets back to the dorm but its not like this is the first time the older shows up uninvited. He should’ve expected it by now since Jimin has always been the nosiest of them all.

 

When Jimin looks up from the laptop laying on his stomach he furrows his eyebrows in worry when he locks onto Taehyung’s wrapped hand. He carefully sets the laptop aside and sits up in the bed. “What happened to your hand Tae?”

 

“Oh um, I tripped when I was walking and scratched it up. Nothing serious.” Taehyung sets his backpack down by his desk and starts undressing to put on his pajamas.

 

“I came by to tell you that we’ve decided to hit the club down by the beach this weekend.”

 

Taehyung lifts his eyebrow in disbelief. “You could have texted me that.” He sits down on the bed with a huff. “Now tell me the real reason you’re here.”

 

Jimin’s eyes widen at the forwardness but he swallows and looks down at his hands. “I wanted to check up on you, see how you’re doing.” Jimin fidgets in bed.

 

“I’m fine.”

 

Jimin’s hesitance disappears instantly and is replaced with frustration when he glares up at Taehyung. “Don’t lie to me,” he growls. “You can lie to everyone else but you can’t lie to me.”

 

Taehyung is taken aback but he snarls his words as heat builds within his throat, “It’s none of your fucking business Jimin, just drop it.”

 

Jimin’s hands fist his pants and he stiffens. “How is it not my business? You’re my best friend! You should be able to tell me these things!”

 

Taehyung’s emotions are all over the place, still perturbed by the outburst he had earlier. He jumps off the bed and with as much malice in his voice as he can muster he spits,“Stop being so damn pushy. You prance around with your pretty pink hair and frilly outfits complaining how much you miss sex or how badly you need it when you can easily have anyone you want. You have people lining at your door wanting to date you. You think I want to talk to someone who’s wanted by everyone about how unwanted I am?” Taehyung is too angry to cry, but he sees Jimin’s shoulders sag and tears glint in his eyes.  

 

Jimin’s offensive demeanor dissolves and he mutters an apology for being pushy. Taehyung sighs and runs his uninjured hand down his face, “Please Jiminie, just leave it alone. I’m not ready to talk about it.”

 

Jimin nods and quietly rises from the bed and walks to the door. “Tae, just know that I’m here for you whenever you are ready ok?” Jimin’s expression is crest-fallen but he forces a small smile his way.

 

“Thanks Jiminie.”

 

When Jimin is finally gone, Taehyung lets himself fall backwards onto the bed. His mind replays everything that happened, and he can’t stop the tears that prickle his eyes. He doesn’t bother wiping them away again when they coat his cheeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I shouldn’t even be going. Midterms start in a week and a half and I’m supposed to have my song ready by now. I still haven’t finished the lyrics. I only have two verses down and they sound like utter garbage.” Taehyung is complaining into his pillow as Hoseok fumbles through his closet in search of the perfect outfit.

 

“Sounds like you need some inspiration, which is why we’re going clubbing tonight.” Hoseok pulls out an outfit and turns around to show Jimin. “What about this?”

 

Jimin nods his head, “No, too modest. We need something sultrier.” Jimin puts the last finishing touches on his eyeshadow and turns to the closet. He and Hoseok start whipping out different shirts and throw them on the ground when it’s not what they’re looking for. Jimin puts his hands on his hips and pouts. “Tae, your closest is full of preppy clothes. I can’t find anything that won’t leave you looking like a liberal arts student.

 

“Jimin, I AM a liberal arts student. And so are you!”

 

“Yeah well just cause you are one doesn’t mean you have to dress like you’re from the 70s, full offense.”

 

Hoseok snorts behind him. Taehyung rolls onto his back and closes his eyes.

 

“Why can’t I just stay here and sleep.”

 

“Because we haven’t had a group outing with all of us together. C’mon, it’ll be fun! You need to take your mind off of everything stressing you out and live a little.” Hoseok crawls onto the bed and lays all his body weight on Taehyung.

 

“Okay okay, fine. I think I might have something a tad racy in one of the dresser drawers.”

 

Jimin opens the drawer and digs through it until he pulls out a pair of leather pants. “Jackpot.”

 

Jimin and Hoseok side eye each other mischievously. Taehyung peaks open an eye when the room is eerily quiet. He feels a shudder roll through his spine and he nervously swallows when he sees Jimin and Hoseok staring at him with matching Cheshire grins. “Oh god.”

 

Jimin wiggles his eyebrows, “Trust me, they’ll need him once we’re done with you. Hoseok, go get that body harness of yours.”

 

“Aye aye captain,” Hoseok salutes before sprinting out of the room.

 

Taehyung has a really bad feeling about tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Taehyung get out of the car!” Jimin’s tapping his foot impatiently on the sidewalk. The group had to take two separate vehicles since they weren’t clowns and couldn’t fit all seven of them in one car. Jimin, Hoseok and Taehyung took one car, and Namjoon, Jin, Jungkook, and Yoongi took another. The two groups had a rock, paper, scissors game to decide who would be the designated drivers. They could only have two drinks max for the night and the rest had to be water so they could drive everyone else home.

 

“Why didn’t we just take a cab or an uber here?” Hoseok asks and Jimin rolls his eyes.

 

“Because we’re poor college students so the more money we spend on other things the less alcohol we can afford to poison ourselves with. Besides, Taehyung isn’t a heavy drinker anyways so this works out perfect.”

 

Jimin turns back to the open car door and threatens Taehyung to come out. “I swear Taehyung, if you don’t come out right now we’re leaving without you.”

 

Namjoon walks up to the two idling next to the car with Jungkook beside him. Jin and Yoongi follow up behind them. Jin looks around and asks, “Where’s Taehyung?”

 

Jimin cups his forehead and sighs. “He’s too embarrassed by his outfit to get out of the car.”

 

“I’m not embarrassed!” Taehyung gripes.

 

Jin walks past the group and sticks his head into the car. "Taehyungie, why don’t you want to get out of the car? Don’t you remember what I said? Faces like ours can pull anything off.”

 

Someone grunts behind him.

 

Taehyung fidgets in the back seat of the car. “I’m going to get laughed at. I look like a gothic biker.”

 

Jin pinches his face into scowl. “No one’s going to laugh at you I promise.” Jin stretches out his hand and Taehyung paws it like a puppy. Jin pulls him out of the car and when Taehyung steps under the street light the conversation the group was having dies immediately.

 

Taehyung’s head snaps up like a deer in headlights and he flushes completely and throws his hands up to cover his face. “See I told you!” he groans.

 

“Taehyung, no one is laughing. I think they’re all speechless.”

 

Jimin and Hoseok snicker between themselves. Taehyung peaks an eye open through his fingers to look at his friends faces. Namjoon, Jin, Jungkook and Yoongi can only stare with gaping mouths at Taehyung. He’s fitted in tight leather pants that hug his thighs and his ass, with a black satin button up tucked into them. He wears a black belt with silver studs decorating the leather and a black leather harness wraps around his thin waist and connects down to a black harness on his thigh (courtesy of Hoseok). Silver bracelets adorn his delicate wrists, and silver earrings dangle from his ears. His bright blue hair falls over his face in waves, and the light pink eyeshadow around his eyes make them pop. Jimin completed his look by swiping some of his glittery gloss across his lips. To say Taehyung looked good was a complete understatement.

 

He was sin incarnated.

 

Taehyung grows uncomfortable with all the attention on him and he pouts his lips as he looks at his feet. He startles when he feels Jin place a hand on his shoulder and whistle. “Wow Taehyung, you look amazing! I told you that you were model material.”

 

The firm hand on his shoulder keeps Taehyung grounded and he musters up the courage to look at his friends again. Jungkook claps his hands together and Namjoon gives him a thumbs up.“You look great Tae!”

 

Taehyung squirms under Jin’s hold and he finally looks at Yoongi, who is still staring at him with a blank expression. Everyone looks to him to see what he’ll say. When Yoongi notices all eyes on him he coughs into his clenched fist and gives him a thumbs up. “You look good Taehyung-ah.”

 

Taehyung feels all the tension in his body disappear and he beams a genuine smile at Yoongi, who’s taken aback by the utter happiness on his face. It's the first sincere smile he's seen on Taehyung.

 

“Thanks hyung.”

 

“Okay, okay, can we all go inside now? I’m this close to punching myself in this face if I don’t have a drink in my hand in the next five minutes.” Jungkook leads the way towards the club and everyone follows suit.

 

The club is absolutely packed, as expected on a Friday night. The weather’s cool enough outside that the very back of the club has doors that open onto the beach. There are security guards at every door, making sure no drunken fool walks out onto the beach and accidentally drowns themselves. Those guards hold breathalyzers and only allows those whose blood alcohol content is below .08% to pass through to the beach. The open doors let cool air circulate through the club, but the sheer number of people has the dance floor feeling like an oven with all the body heat. Taehyung decides to skip out on the dancing and settles for babysitting everyone’s drink as he takes sips of his own. He doesn’t want strangers grinding up on him or touching him. And he doesn’t want to get all sweaty either, especially in his leather pants.

 

Taehyung scans the club and isn’t as embarrassed as before when he notices the scandalous lack of clothing a majority of people are wearing, or he should say aren’t wearing. He finds himself fitting in to the crowd well. Namjoon and Jin are sitting at the table with him, lost in chatter as they take a round of shots. Jimin had dragged Hoseok and Jungkook out onto the dance floor after doing some tequila shots. He doesn’t even know where Yoongi disappeared off to.

 

Taehyung idly takes in the atmosphere of the club. It’s a fairly new club, one that opened when summer started. The tables are polished nicely, no cup stains he’s seen older bar tables scarred with. The floor is completely concrete, but its stained to look like wood. The dance floor is merely an elevated area of led lighting that changes colors every few songs. The ceiling has a string of lights trimming it, and spotlights are positioned every three feet that cast lighting over the club. The bar itself has a futuristic aesthetic to it. The seats are sleek and line up against the metal counter. The bartenders hop between filling drink orders and the registers.

 

Taehyung finishes his first drink and decides to drink a glass of water before getting a second one. He listens in on Jin and Namjoon’s debate.Jin is coming up with arguments saying the earth is flat and Taehyung has to cover his mouth to keep from laughing when he sees Namjoon grow frustrated as he goes on a rant about all the scientific proof that exists proving the earth is a sphere. When Jin gives up on the argument, he then starts debating the origin of ramen. It’s during that exchange that Yoongi wanders over from wherever he was and joins in.

 

Taehyung watches in amusement as Yoongi starts losing his patience when Jin insists that ramen was invented in France. “No, it was created in China, all noodles originate from China.”

 

Jin starts pulling random facts out of his ass to further ruffle their feathers.

 

Namjoon pulls out his phone and shouts “I’m going to look it up!” Taehyung shakes his head and laughs.

 

Jungkook wanders over to him then and steals his glass of water and chugs it completely. Sweat is trickling down his hairline and his neck. “Come join us Tae,” he says, pointing his thumb over his shoulder to Jimin and Hoseok who are waving him over.

 

Taehyung is ready to decline but Jungkook gives him the puppy dog eyes and he gives in to the younger’s pleas because he never could resist those eyes. He lets Jungkook drag him out of his seat across the club to the dance floor. He feels nervous at first when he glances around him to see other men staring at him like he’s some sort of prey. He shivers when he notices the desire in their eyes, growing increasingly uncomfortable by the second. He doesn’t even have any skin exposed aside from his neck. He’s covered head to tow in black!

 

His friends notice his nervous disposition and huddle around him in a protective circle. They continue dancing and laughing and Taehyung lets himself ease into the rhythm of the music. He sways his hips and raises his hands in the air and drags them down his body. He feels Jimin’s hot breath against his neck and he leans into him. There’s little space between them but that doesn’t matter. Taehyung focuses on having fun amongst his friends. They take turns dancing among themselves, switching from body rolls to hip thrusts.

 

When the music changes from EDM to pop, they scream and Jimin and Hoseok start twerking. Taehyung and Jungkook double over in fits of laughter. Taehyung smacks Hoseok’s ass and the other howls and grabs his butt to soothe the sting. When the song changes again to hip hop, Jungkook starts pushing people away to give himself room and he starts breakdancing. Their friends start cheering him on and soon the dancefloor becomes the stage of a dance battle. It’s like a throwback to the party they had back at Namjoon’s apartment. Strangers jump into the circle and start battling out with their moves but his friends are quick to take back the spotlight. Taehyung swallows his nerves and doesn’t let himself think too hard when he steps into the ring and pops some moves of his own. The dancefloor is stuffy and he’s sweating like crazy but he can’t help but throw his head back with joy at the endorphins racing through his veins. The beat flows through him and he gives his performance his all until he’s left a panting mess. He steps back into the crowd who have their eyes focused back on Hoseok and Jungkook. The two have started shuffling and the crowd is loving it.

 

Taehyung pats Jimin on the back to grab his attention and leans in to whisper in his ear.“I’m going to get some water, I’ll be right back.”

 

Jimin nods and refocuses his attention on the ensuing dance battle. Taehyung has a pep in his step as he skips over to the corner where a guard stands next to a water dispenser. Taehyung fills cup after cup until his thirst has been quenched. He’s positively radiant with how energetic he feels. All the stress and sadness that’s weighed him down has been pushed off his shoulders and he feels like he can have a night of fun. He deserves this. He deserves to feel happy for just one night.

 

Taehyung scans the club in search of the bathroom. The urge to pee hits him out of nowhere. Must be the five cups of water he chugged down. Dancing is tiring. No wonder Jungkook stole all his water earlier in the night. He has no idea how Jimin and Hoseok do it almost everyday.

 

Taehyung pushes his way through the maze of bodies and spots the restrooms on the other side of the club. He enters and pumps his fist in luck when he manages to find a clean stall. He used to pee in the urinals but he’s grown self-conscious and likes the privacy a stall provides. He’s washing his hands when three men stumble into the room. Taehyung smiles at them through the mirror’s reflection briefly and drops his attention back to his hands. The men peacefully walk to the urinals and start griping at each other in hushed whispers. Taehyung ignores their drunken talk and is drying his hands under the air dryer when he’s pulled away from it and shoved into the wall. Taehyung instantly feels his happiness sour into pure fear. His eyes widen as he takes in the appearances of the men caging him in. They’re gruff, but only one of them is dressed like a thug. The other two are dressed like they came straight from an office.

 

“Well, well, well, looks like we got a lamb dressed up like a wolf,” the man in front of him slurs.

 

His breath reeks of stale beer. Taehyung cringes as his breath fans over his face. “Please let me leave,” he says with as much firmness in his voice that he can muster.

 

His body fails him when it starts to tremble.

 

“Oh don’t be afraid,” the thug coos. “We won’t hurt you. We just want to ask if you would be interested in having some fun with us.”

 

“N-no thank you,” he stutters.

 

The man dressed in an office shirt rolls his sleeves,” But look how you’re dressed, and how sexy you were dancing out there. You’re dressed like that for a reason no? Don’t you want to come home with us and have some fun?”

 

Taehyung shudders at the insinuation and his fight or flight response finally kicks in. He attempts to make a run for it but one of the men wrenches his body back to them and pins him against the wall. The man presses his body against him when he tries to wiggle out of the hold. Taehyung feels the man’s thigh graze his groin and he freezes. The memories he’s been trying so hard to forget flood back into his mind.

 

He feels tears well up in his eyes. If they stop now, he’ll just have to go through all this again in the next few days. They’ve gotten this far already, he only has to put up with a little more.

 

He whimpers, and his chin quivers as the tears well in his eyes, spilling over onto his cheeks, trailing down to his chin. A broken cry escapes his lips.

 

He lays there for a while, motionless, the tears drying on his cheeks now that he has pulled his arm away from his face. He feels the tackiness of cum coating the inside of his cheeks as it spills out of his abused hole.

 

Taehyung is crying as a rough hand pets his head.

 

“Don’t cry little lamb, we aren’t going to hurt you. We aren’t going to do anything to you right now. We just want to make sure and ask one more time. Are you sure you don’t want to go home with us?”

 

Taehyung is sobbing as he furiously shakes his head back and forth. The man is about to release him and let him leave but the bathroom door opens in that moment. Yoongi freezes when he sees the three men huddled around Taehyung in their drunken haze, Taehyung pinned against the wall by one. He locks onto Taehyung’s terror-stricken eyes and he sees the way he trembles as his voice cracks.

 

Yoongi-”.

 

Everything happens in a blur. One minute he’s pinned underneath the drunken man and the next he’s free. Taehyung is too filled with panic to stay and watch as Yoongi pounds his fist into the man’s face, roaring loudly for security. Taehyung flees out the bathroom as the security guards flood inside at Yoongi’s command.

 

Taehyung forgets he’s at a club. All he knows is the feeling of skin on skin, of unwanted touches, and he sprints straight out the club doors to escape those memories. He needs space, he needs fresh air. He feels the sand give away under his footsteps when he crosses past the guards and the club doors but he doesn’t stop running until he reaches the coastline. He drops to his knees and breathes in lungfuls of air. The air is crisp and salty. He thinks he can taste it on his tongue.

 

His breathing evens as he continues to inhale and exhale. Within a few minutes, his head is cleared and the panic that surged through him subsides. He sits calmly on the beach, the chilly air nipping at his nose. He watches the waves roll in and out. Nature has such a tranquil effect. He can feel the ocean pulling his thoughts and fears out of him with each wave that reaches him.

 

He feels empty now.

 

Taehyung pulls off his shoes and leaves them behind as he steps into the water. He slowly walks in until he’s submerged to his knees. He looks out into the night, the ocean nothing but a black horizon. He looks up to the sky and sees a full moon. The moonlight shines down on him, no cloud blocking its rays. He’s bathed in its blue light.

 

It’s……comforting. Like a soft embrace.

 

He doesn’t let himself think and lets the moonlight seep into his skin, into his heart, and into his soul. He doesn’t want to think about it. He wants to forget. He bites his lip as he takes a sharp inhale. The song Namjoon has given him begins to play in his mind and he lets the words flow out of his mouth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

♪ One day, I wrote


to the moon a long, long letter


Though not as bright as you,


I lit a candle ♪

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung’s voice trembles but the words continue to pour out from his soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

♫ Following the deep night,


your song –


one note, two notes –

 

brings in the red morning


When the early morning passes


and the moon falls asleep,


the blue light that was with us


disappears ♫

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung’s voice crescendos and softens as he drags out the last word. A lone tear escapes down his cheek. A moment of silence passes, nothing but the sound of waves crashing against the shore behind him. He doesn't hear the pants of someone behind him trying to catch his breath. He doesn’t know why he turns around, but he feels like something is calling out to him in the dead of night. It tugs at him, and he turns his body to look behind him.

 

Yoongi stands on the shorelines in a state of awe with his shoes sinking into wet sand. Taehyung is standing in knee-deep water, his hands hanging limply beside him. The cloudless night lets the moon cascade a blue hue over him. The light reflects off the water and Taehyung glimmers in moonlight. He’s never seen someone so ethereal, who shines in the darkness of night. The soft glow of the light brightens the side of his face, and he can see the tear trailing down his cheek. His eyes are full of sadness as they bore into Yoongi’s.

 

He looks breathtakingly beautiful, and the sight clenches his heart.

 

“Yoongi?” he whispers.

 

At the call of his name Yoongi spurs into action and runs into the water. He bites the inside of his cheek as the ice cold water hits his skin and he shivers at the frigid temperature. He grabs Taehyung’s hand and pulls him back to shore until they’ve reached the safety of land. They both fall over onto it. Taehyung wipes his cheek and tilts his head to the side in curiousity. “Are you okay hyung?”

 

Yoongi baffles at the question. “I should be asking YOU that. What the hell were you doing standing in the middle of the ocean like that! I’ve been looking everywhere for you!”

 

Taehyung cringes and guiltily mumbles, “I’m sorry.”

 

Yoongi huffs in disbelief but tones his voice down when he hears how quiet Taehyung is speaking, reminding him of what he just went through. Yoongi's eyes soften. “There’s nothing for you to be apologizing for. I was worried because you rushed out of the bathroom so quickly and I couldn’t find you to make sure you were okay.” Yoongi reaches out his hand to Taehyung and Taehyung flinches. When Yoongi takes note of the reaction he pauses and waits until Taehyung looks at him again and gives him a slight nod. Only then does Yoongi rest his hand on top of his head and shuffles his hair.

 

“Are you okay? Did they do anything to you? The security guards called the police so if you need to report something I can go with you.”

 

“N-no, they didn’t do anything to me. They scared me, but they d-didn’t um t-touch me.” Taehyung squeezes his eyes shut as he says the last few words. Yoongi’s hand drops and lingers in front of him, palm facing up. It takes Taehyung a moment to figure out that he’s waiting for Taehyung to initiate the contact first. Taehyung places his hand gently in his and Yoongi pulls them up. The two wipe off the sand off their clothes and Taehyung pouts when he notices the sand clinging to his wet pants. Yoongi lets out a gruff laugh and Taehyung smacks him on the chest. Yoongi waits while Taehyung puts on his shoes. The two walk side by side back to the club.

 

“Did you want to go back inside?” Yoongi asks as they linger on the club’s patio. “Namjoon texted me he was rounding up everyone to leave but that could take a few minutes.”

 

“I’d rather not if that’s okay.” He mumbles.

 

 “Of course you don’t. You don’t ever have to do anything you feel uncomfortable with okay?”

 

Taehyung’s eyes widen at the words. Those were words he heard from Jin too. His shoulders start to shake and he whimpers. Yoongi’s eyes widen and he flails his hands around in alarm, “Shit, did I say something wrong? Are you okay?”

 

Taehyung nods his hand back and forth and he breaks down. Yoongi is sent into another fit of panic but he freezes when Taehyung reaches out to him and clings to him. He buries his face into the space between his neck and shoulders as the shudders continue to wreck through him. Yoongi relaxes and pulls Taehyung in tighter and runs his hand in circles on his back. He holds the younger in his arms and whispers reassuring words into his ear.

 

Taehyung doesn’t remember what happens after that nor how he got home, but the feelings of warmth and security he felt in those arms stay with him throughout the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s only half a week left until midterms and of course Taehyung has finished all his assignments except the one for his songwriting class. You know, the one that counts as his midterm grade? He's at least written all the lyrics. He had redrafted his song a dozen times already, unsure of what sounded best even with Namjoon’s input. He got permission from his professor to let his friend feature in his song, so he’s relieved that he didn’t have to write the last verse. Overall he’s satisfied with his work, and he’s pretty damn proud of himself.

 

 Taehyung sets the headphones down on the small desk next to him. “How did that sound hyung?”

 

Namjoon adjusts the level on the mixer and adds light compression. “Let’s try running through that one more time. I already recorded my verse so we just need to do the backing vocals after we get your take recorded.“

 

“Roger that!” Taehyung slips the headphones on and waits for the music to play. When the melody starts he sings.

 

The two friends spent two days in one of the studios. When Yoongi had found out Taehyung was writing a song he was eager to read the lyrics and listen to what they had recorded so far. With a dramatic “no” that he said forming an X with his arms, Taehyung told Yoongi he could hear it when he played it for the rest of his friends. Yoongi pouted and Taehyung couldn’t stop himself from pinching his cheek. The two had grown a bit closer since the clubbing incident, and he made Yoongi promise he wouldn’t tell his friends what happened. Yoongi was hesitant but chose to respect Taehyung’s wishes. They hadn’t exchanged numbers, but Taehyung hoped sometime soon their friendship would deepen enough to do so. He felt like he could be himself around the other, and that was a good sign. He needed more friends he could be himself with.

 

The only problem is that he still doesn’t know who he is anymore. What’s wrong with him? Ever since the breakup, he feels like he’s been running circles in his mind. He thought he was happy with Bogum, but what went wrong? And where? Was he not happy with Bogum like he thought he was? Did he fall out of love with him? Is that why things got difficult between them?

 

Taehyung is sitting on a bench across from the music building soaking in the sunlight. Namjoon let him take a break before he goes in to do the backing vocals. He soaks up the fall atmosphere, his favorite time of year. The trees have changed color again, hues of reds, oranges and yellows filling his vision when he looks up at the tree branches above him. It must be nice being a tree. No problems, just basic needs like getting enough water and sunlight. If he were a tree, what would he be? Oak? Maple? Or maybe a giant pine tree so he smells like Christmas year-round. Which reminds him, his birthday is around the corner. He doesn’t remember what they did to celebrate it last year. He thinks it may have been a casual dinner somewhere. He hopes he can do something fun this year with his friends.

 

His mind comes to a halt. Friends. Right. He still hasn’t told them why they broke up. Taehyung bounces his leg up and down anxiously. He reaches into his pant’s pocket and pulls out his phone. He doesn’t know why he’s waited so long to do this but google has never failed him. He’s hoping it’ll pull through for him again and he can figure out what’s wrong with him He pulls up a new tab on google chrome.

 

🔍 Search Google or type a URL

 

Taehyung types in 'Don’t like sex anymore'.

 

The search pulls up a bunch of articles, but they’re all about ‘new positions to satisfy your man’ or ‘why do women lose their sexual desire?’. But he doesn’t have a man he needs to satisfy anymore and he’s not a woman.

 

He tries typing in 'no sex drive'.

 

The results come up with a little more information. He skims through health articles saying a sudden lack of sex drive can be a red flag to something more serious. He gets a bit nervous and decides to read some more. Another article says it could be a hormonal imbalance. Taehyung tries to recall the last time he had a check up with his doctor. He hasn’t had insurance since he started college. He had to drop his hours from full-time down to part-time to work around his school schedule and that cancelled his health insurance. It’s the reason he had to stop taking his anti-depressants too. He’s hasn’t gone to the doctor in over a year and a half.

 

Taehyung is lost in thought and is only brought back when a voice calls out to him. He follows the direction of the voice and he sees Namjoon waving at him. Guess his break is over. He looks back down at his phone and closes the tab. He locks his phone and slides it in his back pocket.

 

As he walks back to the music building he passes by a group of girls that eye him seductively. He’s wearing nothing special, just a pair of fitted jeans and a v-neck shirt with a jacket wrapped around his waist. He feels their stare run down his body and he pulls his jacket off his waist and shrugs it on, zipping it up all the way. It’s a jacket he borrowed from Namjoon so it’s rather big and engulfs his frame. He finds he doesn’t mind as he hides himself in it. He didn’t mind being stared at before, but now his skin crawls anytime he feels a gaze linger on him for too long.

 

He wonders how long he’s been surrounded by wolves and when he became so overly aware of their hunger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung paces back and forth nervously. He’s standing out in the hallway outside of the auditorium. His midterms were today, and although he was confident he passed his other three classes with flying colors he wasn’t so sure it’d be the same for his songwriting class. “Alright students, think of this performance as a small snippet of what performing in front of a real crowd will feel like. The audience today is our senior students who are majoring in music production and the select few you have invited to come watch you. Remember, this is your midterm grade. If you are selected by a senior for their graduation capstone, I will notify you privately. If you are not selected this time around, do not worry. You still have the rest of your college career here to be selected in one of your other classes. This is a privilege to all vocalists. I wish you all luck!”

 

The professor had gathered them backstage for this announcement and walked into the audience shortly after. Taehyung peeked out into the audience and swore he saw Hoseok’s flaming hair. He had invited all his friends to watch. He even invited Yoongi. He’s not sure why, but knowing his friends were all out there watching made this more nerve-wrecking. Taehyung excused himself into the hallway for a breather. He couldn’t stand to wait backstage until it was time to perform. He needed air.

 

Taehyung continues to jitter and a caramel voice instantly relaxes him.

 

“There you are, I’ve been looking for you! We have 15 minutes until we’re up.”

 

“Hyung, I’m THIS close to peeing my pants.” Taehyung whines as he shifts foot to foot anxiously.

 

“Performing in front of an audience is difficult, but it does get easier over time.” Namjoon pats him on the back. “I’ll be on stage with you too, so if you start to feel overwhelmed by the attention look at me.”

 

Taehyung gulps and nods his head. “Have you performed in front of audiences hyung?”

 

“Not for a school function, but I’ve been in a few underground rap battles every now and then.” Namjoon smooths out the wrinkles in his polka-dotted button up. He’s dressed up nicely. A navy button up with white polka dots hugs his frame and is tucked into black slacks. His dress shoes are shiny and the inch heel on them make him taller. His slicked back hair only adds to the ensemble. He looks very handsome.

 

“Oh yeah! I think I remember hearing you mention that once. Will you invite me to the next one? I want to see hyung perform!” Taehyung’s eyes are shining like stars at the thought of seeing Namjoon perform in that kind of atmosphere. He’s used to seeing Namjoon in his glasses, and he’s usually dressed quite refined. It’d be refreshing to see another aspect of his persona. Plus he’d get to hear some of Namjoon’s other lyrics.

 

A student pokes her head out the auditorium door and announces the name of the next performer due on stage next. When Taehyung hears his name called his face drains of all color. Oh god, it’s time. Taehyung walks with stiff legs backstage. They hear another student currently singing. He has maybe another minute or two before it’s their turn. He hears Namjoon whisper, “Relax Tae, you got this. I’m right here. You’ll do great.”

 

Taehyung closes his eyes and takes a deep breath in an attempt to slow his heartbeat. He hears the audience clap and he slowly opens his eyes. When he hears “Next!” he promptly steps into the light of the stage. He briefly gazes into the audience, but the lights are so bright he cannot pick out any specific faces. At least he won’t have to try to imagine everyone in their underwear if he can’t even see them. He stops when he reaches the center of the stage.

 

“Introduction?” his professor asks into the speaker system.

 

“My name is Kim Taehyung. The piece I will be singing today is called “4 o’clock”, and I will be accompanied by a close friend who is featured on this song.” Taehyung clasps his hands behind his back to keep them from shaking.

 

“And what is your song about? Please give us a brief summary in a few words.”

 

“My song is about….” Taehyung bites his lip. “it’s about reassurance.”

 

“Very well, you may began when you’re ready.”

 

Taehyung closes his eyes. The music flows into the speakers and he sings. The audience is silent as his soulful voice fills the auditorium, weighing over them like a warm comforting blanket. Taehyung sings with all the feeling he can muster: the loneliness, the struggle he endures by himself as the moon watches over him. Namjoon whisks onto the stage when his verse begins, and Taehyung turns to look at him somberly . His verse is both straight forward and symbolic. Taehyung wonders what struggles he himself has endured to write lyrics like that. When Namjoon finishes, he flashes Taehyung that gorgeous dimpled smile. Taehyung feels the corner of his lip turn up and he turns back to the audience and gazes into the darkness, ignoring the blinding spotlight from above. The music slows and so does his voice as he extends each note until the last word falls from his lips.

 

The audience claps as soon as his performance ends and he blushes when he hears the obnoxiously loud cheers from his friends. “You go TaeTae!”, “Yeah that’s our boy!”, and “TAEHYUNGGGGG!!”. He hears Jungkook scream his name and he vows to eat all the snacks in his secret stash in retaliation. His friends take way too much pleasure in embarrassing him. He waves at them with his head down and walks off stage with Namjoon. His friends meet out in the hall and Taehyung immediately notices Yoongi didn’t come. He feels a tinge of disappointment but it’s not like they’re best friends or anything. Yoongi probably had important things to do.

 

Hoseok goes to throw an arm over Taehyung’s shoulder but he dodges. Hoseok lifts an eyebrow and settles for throwing his arm around Namjoon instead. Taehyung throws him an apologetic smile. “So now that everyone’s done with midterms, it’s safe to say we should all celebrate with a pizza party!”

 

Jungkook hollers a ‘whoop whoop!’ with a fist in the air. “Hell yeah! Let’s go to that pizza parlor off 64th street! They have a pizza challenge I’ve been wanting to do. Eat a 22’’ pizza in 10 minutes with a full liter of coke and you get free pizza for half a year. You only get one person to help you, so who will have the honor of being my partner?”

 

“I’m down. I can fit a whole slice of pizza in my mouth.” Jin gives Jungkook a high five.

 

“No way Jin-hyung!” Jungkook says disbelieving.

 

“I’m like a snake that unhinges their jaw to eat. It’s my superpower, fitting large things into my mouth. ”

 

Hoseok snickers into his hand, “That’s what she said!”

 

Jimin groans, “Seokie, we’re gay here, it's ‘that’s what he said’.”

 

Taehyung rolls his eyes, not bothering to correct Jimin on that statement since he’s technically pansexual but he doesn’t want to get in on the sex jokes the group are cackling over. He turns to try to talk to Namjoon but the older is busy laughing at the others and the stupid puns that start flowing freely from Jin’s mouth. Taehyung sighs and his mind drifts off as the group walks out of the building.

 

“Yoongi-hyung isn’t going to make it tonight. He said he was struck with heavy inspiration and refuses to leave the studio.” Namjoon puts away his phone.

 

“Typical Yoongi,” Jin mutters.

 

The pizza parlor had an Italian vibe to it. There were green vines creeping across the stone brick walls that enclosed the patio area where they were seated to accommodate their rather large group. There was a large fountain in the middle of the patio, and metal chairs and tables were scattered throughout with gaudy white and red checkered tablecloths laid upon them. String lights hung from wires above cast a yellow glow. There was some nice jazz music playing in the background but it was drowned out by the clattering of silverware and drunken blabber of other students who came to eat here tonight. The waitress appears with their pizza and the group cheers. Jungkook and Jin are sat at the end of the long table, their giant 22’’ pizza placed in front of them. The waitress tells them she’ll have to time them and assures the rest of their friends that their pizzas will be brought out shortly. She clicks the timer and shouts “go!”.

 

The rest of the group can only watch in horrid fascination as Jungkook and Jin shove slices of pizza in their mouths. Pizza sauce is flying everywhere while they chew viciously and even the waitress has to take a step back to avoid getting hit. Taehyung grimaces when sauce splatters on his cheek. He really regrets sitting next to Jungkook. Jimin isn’t doing much better sitting next to Jin, cause a slice of flying pepperoni smacks him on the forehead.

 

When Jin and Jungkook down their cups of coke and slam the table in unison, the waitress stops the clock. “7 minutes and 54 seconds. That’s a new record! I’ll inform my manager and we’ll be right back with your coupon card and a camera for a photo for our challenge wall.”

 

As the waitress walks off, a waiter appears with two more pizzas. He places them on the opposite side of the table, and Jin and Jungkook groan when the smell wafts over to them. They rub their tummies and belch. “We did it Kookie, we get free pizzas for 6 months.”

 

“But at what cost? I feel like I’m going to puke.” Jungkook groans again and drops his head over the back of his chair.

 

Namjoon passes him a few tums he keeps stashed in his crossbody bag, and Jungkook smiles weakly at him. “Here, for the indigestion you’re about to have. Here’s some for you too Jin.”

 

“Thanks Joonie.”

 

Namjoon, Jimin, Hoseok and Taehyung all dig into their pizzas. They eat at a much slower pace than the other two did, so it takes about an hour for them to finish eating in between conversations. Jin and Jungkook got their photos done but both were already knocked out and drooling on the table when the waitress came back to give them their coupon.

 

“I’ll take it in their stead,” said Namjoon with his dimpled smile. The waitress blushed and hurried back into the restaurant.

 

“So when do you find out if you were picked for the senior project?” Jimin says as he takes a sip of his coke.

 

“Monday I think. Apparently the seniors already have a song produced, it’s just about finding the right voice for them and adjusting the lyrics.”

 

Hoseok grabs a cold slice of pizza and takes a bite. “I’m sure you’ll get picked,” he says with full cheeks, “Your song was amazing. I got goosebumps.”

 

“I hope so,” Taehyung mulls, “Otherwise I’ll have to take a written test for the final.”

 

When the waitress comes back to check on how they’re doing, Namjoon asks for the bill. “Oh, winners of the pizza challenge also get their whole meal for free, so there’s nothing for you to pay for.” She smiles and bows, leaving the group to stare at the oldest and youngest of the group with admiration.

 

“Wow, thanks Kookie and thanks Jin-hyung! You guys got us a free meal!” Jimin smacks Jin on the back a couple of times. The older gurgles and he starts to foam at the mouth.

 

“I think it’s time to get these two home before they throw up everywhere.”

 

Taehyung looks hesitantly at Jungkook but throws his arm over his shoulder to lift him up. Namjoon does the same to Jin. Jimin and Hoseok throw them peace signs and leave to head back to the dorms. Taehyung helps walk Jungkook to Namjoon’s car. He sets him in the backseat next to Jin, and the two flop over each other, still passed out in food comas. Namjoon thanks him with a hair ruffle and asks him if he wants a ride home.

 

“No, I’m okay. I think I want to take a walk.” Taehyung shoots him a wave and watches Namjoon drive off. When he’s gone, Taehyung looks up into the sky and spots the moon. He chews on the inside of his cheek and with a new resolve he turns to walk back inside the pizza parlor.

 

The night was chilly but the steam from the hot box of pizza sitting in his arms keeps him warm. He balances the box in one hand and hesitantly knocks on the door. He hadn’t known which studio Yoongi would be in so he had to text Namjoon to ask him. He didn’t want to restart the admin computer upstairs to look through the reservation calendar to find Yoongi’s name. Turns out he reserved a studio in a secluded corner of the basement. The man sure likes his privacy. Taehyung raises his wrist to knock on the door a third time when Yoongi finally opens the door.

 

“Oh, hey Taehyung.” A silent question mares his face but understanding washes over him when he notices the steaming pizza in his hand. “Is that for me?”

 

“Y-yeah, you didn’t come eat with us and Namjoon mentioned you were holed up in your studio so I figured you hadn’t eaten yet.”

 

“I haven’t actually, and now that you mention it I am starving. I get absorbed into my work sometimes and time passes by so quickly when I’m focused, so thank you for this.” Taehyung passes him the pizza and Yoongi steps aside. “Did you want to come inside?”

 

Taehyung shuffles his hands in front of him, “No, I have to get home, I promised I’d call my parents to tell them how my midterms went.”

 

Yoongi nods and hands his phone over to Taehyung, “By the way, we haven’t exchanged numbers yet. Give me yours and I’ll put my number in too.” Taehyung fumbles with his jacket pocket to get his phone out. He and Yoongi exchange phones and input their numbers before handing it back to each other. ”I’ll see you Monday then Taehyung-ah,” Yoongi smirks and throws him a wink.

 

With a flustered panic, Taehyung jerks up his hand in an attempt to wave and starts walking backwards. After he watches Yoongi’s studio door close he breathes a sigh of relief and sets about his walk home. The stroll is quiet, and though it’s only 8pm the night is pitch black. The once clear skies are now clouded over. He hears thunder rumbling in the distance and glances over his shoulder. Lightening crackles up in the sky and he decides to hasten his steps to the dorm. When he’s safely inside, it starts to pour. He would have been drenched if he had not hurried.

 

After changing into his pajamas he lays down in bed and puts off the video call with his parents for another time. The past couple of weeks have been stressful to say the least. The incident at the club, his class assignments, and studying for midterms has kept his mind entirely preoccupied. Any free time he had to himself was spent thinking of lyrics for his song. Now that he has nothing to fret over, it feels like the silence in the room is suffocating him. He became so accustomed to being around people all day, so used to being the happy and chirpy Taehyung everyone’s used to. The room is entirely black aside from the flashes of lightening and roars of thunder overhead.

 

Depression is a silent killer, he thinks. It lingers underneath your skin feeding off your fears and insecurities. The mask he wears during the day slips off and he’s left with his broken self. The one who struggles finding the reason to live. He doesn’t want to kill himself, but he wouldn’t be opposed to something killing him on accident. What is it that they call it? Passive thoughts of suicide? Something like that. It takes so much energy for him to pretend to act like he’s okay.

 

He still doesn’t understand the reason he and Bogum broke up, but the more time that passes he begins to realize all the signs he had missed when they were together. Bogum had not been too keen on communication and stewed in his emotions. He was a rock. Perhaps the way men are expected to be stoic in this society has ingrained this attitude into people, like men aren’t allowed to feel emotions, to suffer, or to cry. Taehyung tended to be dramatic at times, but once the initial anger dissipated he was eager to talk things through. He opened himself up and chose to be vulnerable, except Bogum kept himself closed off.

 

Emotional neglect, he thinks. That was the first sign. When he first fell into the hole of his depression a few years ago he was miserable. He couldn’t sleep, cried every night, and it became so draining being around him that Bogum grew irritated with his distress. Taehyung remembers having to voice out what he needed from him. All he wanted was comfort and reassurance, but Bogum struggled to give him that. He questioned the reason of his tears and sometimes Taehyung didn’t know the answer. Bogum didn’t empathize. He had chosen to overlook that aspect of their relationship, hoping that over time Bogum would mature and come to give him the proper support he needed. He assured himself this lack of concern was due to youth and ignorance.

 

Or maybe he’s always had a tendency to be selfish, and Taehyung had chosen to ignore it.

 

He loved Bogum for so long, he doesn’t think he can pinpoint exactly when the bubbly feelings of infatuation settled into comforting companionship. That’s all he wanted, someone to love him for who he is, someone to talk about anything and everything with, and someone who he could grow old with, discovering new aspects of each other as they changed with age. People are continuously evolving.

 

Maybe that’s why it didn’t work out. Rather than evolving together, their paths diverged. Who they were when they were younger made them perfect for each other, but the people they are now were incompatible.

 

I wasn’t good enough.

 

With a drawn-out yawn Taehyung turns over and lets the pounding of rain against the window ease him into the depths of slumber.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Okay class, I will hand out your midterm results. I have written comments under each category, and your score is in the top right-hand corner. If you were selected by a senior, their name will be written at the very bottom of the page. They have been given your student email, so keep an eye out for any incoming messages with details over when and where to meet. If you have any other further questions you can stay after class, otherwise, you are all dismissed! See you next class.” The professor had handed him his rubric but Taehyung wanted to wait until after class to read it. It was as he was walking out of the classroom doors that he looked at his grade. He got a 96!

 

Taehyung’s eyes crinkled into that boxy smile of his, and he looked back up in front of him. Min Yoongi was standing off to the side. He was fiddling with his phone and put it away once he heard students filing out of the room. His eyes meet Taehyung’s and he smiles with his gums. Taehyung feels his breath hitch at the sight but shakes off the feeling and walks over to him. “Yoongi-hyung? What are you doing here?”

 

“I’m here to pick you up, we have to get started on the project.”

 

Taehyung paused and fixed him with confusion. “What project?”

 

“Taehyung-ah, I chose you to be my vocalist.”

 

Yoongi watches as realization comes over Taehyung, who drops his jaw in shock. “Wait, what? Aren’t you a junior like Namjoon-hyung?” Taehyung’s baffled. He assumed the two best friends were the same age.

 

“No, I’m a year older than Namjoon and I’m a senior. Now, shall we head over to the studio?” Yoongi questions with a raised eyebrow.

 

Taehyung nods dumbly and trails him downstairs to the basement. Yoongi types in the studio code and when the door unlocks with a click, he holds it open for Taehyung. Taehyung thanks him and scurries inside. All the studios look the same, so he’s not sure why he expected this one to look any different. The color scheme is monochrome, with a red couch sitting against the wall. On the opposite side is a desktop computer along with a control surface, a MIDI controller for mixing and some speakers. Beyond the fiberglass windows is the recording area, a small box consisting of microphones, headphones and a stand.  

 

Taehyung throws himself on the red couch and sinks into it. Yoongi sits in his chair and scoots himself closer to the desk and starts the computer system. “So I’ve already created a few different drafts. Originally the song I had made for this had a bright vibe to it, like a pop song. As soon as I heard you sing I was immediately inspired to switch to R&B. Your voice is powerful but versatile. I have some lyrics written out but I’ll need your help in finishing it, then we can start recording. Sound good?”

 

Taehyung sits up on the couch. “Wait a minute, you said you heard my voice. So you were at the performance then?”

 

“Of course, if I hadn’t been required to go, I would have showed up nonetheless since you invited me.” Yoongi’s sincere words strike a chord in Taehyung and his body warms at the sensation.

 

Taehyung feels a heat simmer in his cheeks so he grasps his knees and looks down at his lap. “Right. Thanks. Um, so can I hear what you have so far?

 

“In due time,” Yoongi says with a smirk. “First I’ll show you the lyrics I’ve got down so far.” Yoongi reaches across the desk to pickup a worn-out journal. He’s had to have had it for a while because the faded cover and malleable spine suggests it’s been through hell. Yoongi flips through the pages until he finds what he’s looking for.

 

He passes the journal to Taehyung. His eyes scan over the page and beneath the strokes of pencil are dark smudges. Yoongi wrote, erased and re-wrote the lyrics over and over, he muses. “So the lyrics you have down so far, what are you trying to express? From what I get, the lyrics are about insecurities.”

 

“Bingo,” Yoongi snaps. “After hearing 4’o clock, I wanted to produce a slow song. Do you have any suggestions so far?”

 

“Honestly I’m not very confident in my writing abilities. I struggled writing two verses on my own. I don’t know if I’ll be much help other than the recording.” Taehyung frowns and peeks up at Yoongi.

 

Yoongi rubs his chin in thought. He leans forward in his chair and rests his elbows on his knees. “I’ll keep drafting more lyrics. In the meantime, give it some thought. I’m sure there’s amazing lyrics somewhere in that pretty head of yours.”

 

Taehyung blinks his eyes a few times, uncertain that he heard correctly. Yoongi carries on like normal. The rest of their afternoon is filled with Taehyung’s nonstop babbling. He learns Yoongi is a relatively quiet person and he feels the need to fill the silence with conversation, so he doesn’t feel awkward. Taehyung is laying on top of the couch with his feet hanging over the armrest. His hands are crossed behind his head. “How did you meet Namjoon-hyung?”

 

Yoongi takes a while to answer, but when he does the answer is short. “I’ve known him since the beginning of high school. I moved here freshman year and he was the first person to talk to me. We’ve been friends ever since.”

 

The silence returns when Yoongi gets absorbed back into his work. Taehyung wants to ask more questions, to unravel the mystery that shrouds Min Yoongi. He doesn’t want to distract him from his work, so he settles on browsing through social media. An hour passes like that until Yoongi’s the one to break the silence. “Hey, want to get dinner? Hyung’s treat.”

 

Taehyung drops his phone on his face at being startled and he whines as he rubs at his nose. “Ah, that’d be great hyung!”

 

The two gather their things and briskly stroll across campus to a sandwich shop. Upon entering, they’re greeted by a pretty cashier who furiously flutters her eyes at Yoongi. Taehyung is amused to see the cashier become more obvious with her attempts to flirt, twirling her hair around her finger as she takes his order. Yoongi doesn’t react and places his order, ignoring her attempts completely. When it’s Taehyungs turn, she doesn’t bat an eye at him, doesn’t even look at him. She takes his order without so much as a ‘hello’.

 

When the two reach their table they dig into their dinner. Yoongi sits across from him and takes each bite slowly, savoring the flavor of the only meal he’s had all day. He stares at Taehyung, amused with how he eats. With a cheekful of sandwich, he pouts his lips as he chews. Yoongi can’t help but find it incredibly endearing, especially when the other starts to dance in his seat. He doesn’t think Taehyung is aware he’s doing it while he glances around the shop taking in all the details the room has to offer. Yoongi has to purse his lips to keep from smiling at the drop of mayonnaise that falls on his chin. Instead, he reaches down the table to pull out a few napkins from the dispenser and places one at his side and passes the other to Taehyung. “Taehyung-ah, you have uh a little-” Yoongi’s pointing at his chin to try to get his message across but Taehyung doesn’t seem to understand what he’s trying to say.

 

Yoongi gives up and reaches over with his napkin to wipe his chin. Taehyung pulls back in embarrassment, his face lighting up in a tint of pink. “Sorry, I can be a messy eater,” he says rubbing the back of his neck abashedly.

 

Yoongi chuckles and the two finish their sandwiches falling back into discussion over their lyrics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a cold November morning when Taehyung stumbles upon the word.

 

He was laying on his stomach in the warmth and comfort of his dorm room, casually scrolling through his social media feed when he spots it. A profile he’d been following had answered an anonymous question regarding their sexuality. The response included the term “asexual”, and Taehyung was curious. Didn’t that term refer to plants and amoebas in biology? He’s pretty sure it meant to reproduce alone. Since when did it have another meaning? Especially as a sexuality? He pulls up his trusty google search and types ‘asexual’. The search results list the definition first:

 

a·sex·u·al

/āˈsekSH(o͞o)əl/

 

adjective

without sexual feelings or associations.

"asexual individuals may still experience attraction but this attraction doesn't need to be realized in any sexual manner"

BIOLOGY

(of reproduction) not involving the fusion of gametes.

"each polyp is capable of budding new polyps though asexual reproduction in spring"

 

noun

a person who has no sexual feelings or desires.

 

“A person who has no sexual feelings or desires,” he mutters. His eyebrows furrow and he types in the word ‘asexuality’. Multiple links pop up, He clinks on the first link https://www.asexuality.org/

 

An asexual person does not experience sexual attraction – they are not drawn to people sexually and do not desire to act upon attraction to others in a sexual way.’ Taehyung stops reading.

 

 “So I was right. Something is wrong with me,” he whispers. His memories rise to the surface: when he looked in the mirror and hated who he saw, when he became the shell of the person he used to be, when the ocean would taunt him with its luring waves promising peace and rest. The voice he locked away, his voice of reason he refused to hear. The words he doesn’t have the courage to say aloud flows through his hands and he reaches for a scrap piece of paper and a pen. It’s effortless, like his hands have a mind of their own as they fly across the page.

 

The song writes itself.

 

 

 

To Yoongi-Hyung (9:37PM):

I know we already agreed on the lyrics…but I came up with something new

 

 

 

 

From Yoongi-Hyung (9:44PM):

 

Send it to me

 

To Yoongi-Hyung (9:54PM):

 

Um can I sing it to you in the studio tomorrow instead?

 

 

 

From Yoongi-Hyung (9:59PM):

 

Of course

 

Meet me there at 6?

 

 

 

To Yoongi-Hyung (9:54PM):

 

Yeah I’ll see you there

 

   

 

 

Taehyung was thankful he had a copy of the music on hand. Yoongi had sent it to him once they finalized their lyrics so he could start practicing. Ironic how he’s using the new lyrics he wrote instead. He poured every ounce of him into these words. He’s never shared anything so personal…it was like these words were a part of him. He had been running the song through his phone while he waited in the studio booth. When Yoongi showed up, surprise lit his face to see Taehyung there already. Normally the younger was chronically late to their meet ups.

 

Yoongi gives him a small wave and smiles, but Taehyung doesn’t return the gesture. He’s too nervous about singing this to Yoongi, about baring all his bleeding wounds for him to see, for him to judge.  He hears Yoongi’s voice echo through the speakers once he’s set up. "Are you ready?”

 

Taehyung clenches his fist and looks at the pink scar formed over his knuckle. Will the scars in his soul be as visible as this one? He kisses his scarred knuckle and gives Yoongi the go to start the music.

 

“Did you name this already?” The deep voice rumbles through the intercom.

 

Taehyung swallows the lump forming in his throat. “It’s called Singularity.”

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Yoongi has always been perceptive, especially when it came to music. It was what helped him through the hardest moments of his life. He appreciated the craft, and most of all admired the honesty artists relayed through their music. It takes courage to bare your emotions through song because anyone can hear it. That’s where the beauty lies in it; the way it can unite its listeners who all share similar feelings and situations. He was no stranger to that. He grew up listening to music as a way to cope through the dark times of his past, when all he knew was the never-ending darkness. Music became the tether that bound him to this world, and he vowed to return the favor, to create music that heals and provides support when he can’t physically be there.

 

It’s the sole reason SUGA exists.

 

It’s because of this connection he has to music that he can understand the pain in Taehyung’s lyrics as he sings. His voice is heartbreakingly steady, full of pain and turmoil. His face is pinched as he sings through his lyrics, evidence of the struggle he’s going through. Yoongi’s not dumb. He’s seen the hints in the way that Taehyung carries himself. Basking in that same darkness for so long made him well acquainted with it. Taehyung is sinking. Over what? He doesn’t know, and even if he can’t be the one to help him right now he’ll be damned to let such a kind-hearted flame extinguish in the rising tide.

 

When Taehyung finishes the song, he takes the headphones off and peers up at Yoongi for approval. “Was that okay?” he murmurs sheepishly.

 

Yoongi nods and gestures for him to come to his side of the studio. Taehyung exits the booth and makes himself comfortable on the couch. He’s anxiously waiting for Yoongi’s opinion. Yoongi turns around in his chair and his expression is soft when he catches his eyes.“Do you want to talk about it?” Yoongi’s tone is cautious, as if he were talking to a scared animal. He slowly gets out of his chair and makes his way over to sit down next to Taehyung. Yoongi stares down at the ground in front of him as he says the next few words. “Those lyrics were powerful Taehyung-ah, and I think we should use them for the final draft of the song. But the tone of those lyrics seemed personal.” Yoongi lifts his eyes to look directly into Taehyung’s glazed ones. The other doesn’t speak and a blanket of tension falls atop them.

 

“I-….“ Taehyung mutters, but his voice cracks when he tries to get his words out. “I-I have to go.” Taehyung grabs his stuff and sprints out the room, leaving behind a worried Yoongi. Yoongi mulls over the song in his head, the lyrics akin to how he felt about himself years ago. He knows he isn’t close enough to Taehyung for the younger to feel comfortable talking about such a personal issue, so when the studio door closes shut he pulls his phone out to send a text to the one person he thinks might be able to help.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Taehyung’s mind is a muddled mess. He knew he would bare his heart on his sleeve with his lyrics, but he hadn’t anticipated for Yoongi to ask him so straightforwardly. What was he supposed to say? ‘No, I’m not okay’ or ‘Yes, I’m okay even though I beg each night for something to take me away’?

 

Maybe he should have told him how desperate he was to be anyone other than himself, how it feels like there’s rocks tied around his ankles and he’s being dragged undertow. Or how it’s getting harder to breathe each day. His head is barely above the water but he knows it’s only a matter of time before he’s a lifeless body at the bottom of his ocean.

 

Taehyung is a panting mess when he arrives at the dance hall. He wipes the sweat off his forehead and pulls off the scarf wrapped around his neck. He can see puffs of air leave his mouth with how cold the air is. Winter must have come early this year.

 

The dance hall is located in the southern wing of the liberal arts building, so with how late it was already, the only lights on poured into the hallway from the dance room. Taehyung peered through the door and caught sight of Jimin jumping through the air and twirling into a pirouette. He was practicing for his solo in the upcoming winter showcase. He continued to scan through the many faces lingering throughout the room and found Hoseok in the corner talking to a small group of students, probably giving them pointers. Hoseok had tremendous discipline in dance, and he coached the others on sharpening their movements since he was the one who perfected their choreography first.

 

Taehyung pushes the door open and the smell of sweat and body odor hits him square in the face. He has to breathe through his mouth to keep from gagging. Despite the boiling heat in the room, he wraps his scarf back around his neck and presses his nose into it. His reprieve doesn’t last too long. Jimin pulls the scarf away, thus dragging him across the laminate wood floors (cheap bastards of a university couldn’t bother with real wood). He drags Taehyung all the way to the front of the room until he’s standing in front of a row of mirrors plastered against the wall. He claps his hands to gather everyone’s attention.

 

“Listen up team, I would like to introduce you to a very special guest. He stopped by unannounced, but I hope you can all extend a warm welcome to Kim Taehyung, the new dance coordinator. He’ll be replacing Hoseok from now on.”

 

The group cheers and claps, and Hoseok gasps dramatically at the reaction. “I’m offended. All the blood, sweat, and tears I pour into our choreography and this is how you treat me? The utter disrespect,” he hisses.

 

The whole dance room bursts into laughter and Taehyung is more confused than ever at what is happening. Jimin pulls him off to the side and explains the joke. “The group is always complaining about how hard Hoseok is on them so anytime a visitor comes into the room I announce them as Hoseok’s replacement. You should have seen his reaction the first time we did it. He sulked for a whole week. We had to throw a party for him to convince him it was a running joke.” Jimin lowers his voice even more, “Between you and me, I think he knew we were joking and wanted his ego stroked.” Jimin’s eyes crinkle and he shakes his head.

 

“Not going to lie, that’s a pretty lame prank.” Taehyung’s face is impassive when Jimin starts making ugly faces in front of him to make him laugh. He relents when he realizes Taehyung won’t budge.

 

“Jeez, what’s with your sour mood? Stupid pranks like this make you laugh so easily.”

 

Taehyung shrugs. “I’m not in the mood for jokes. I’m not in a good mood at all to be honest.”

 

Jimin pouts but a lightbulb turns on in his head. “Hey Hoseok,” he shouts across the room. Hoseok steps back from where he was huddled in the middle of a group. “Go over the choreography again to show Tae the badass routine we came up with.”

 

Hoseok shoots him a thumbs up and the rest of the dance team groans their complaints about having to redo the routine for the nth time. Jimin gets up to turn the music up and returns to sit next to Taehyung, who is leaning against the wall mirror as he watches the group begin their hip-hop routine. “Has a shirtless dancer caught your eye?” Jimin whispers into his ear.

 

Taehyung raises an eyebrow but it dawns on him he had been intensely staring in the direction of a dancer and Jimin thought he was checking him out. “No, it’s not what you think-“ he stammers, waving his arms in front of him.

 

 Jimin’s smile curls and he purrs, “He’s single ya know. I’m sure it would do you good to get your mind off of things and let him take care of you.” His words were meant to be reassuring but they feel like sharp knives stabbing into already bleeding wounds. Taehyung feels his skin crawl and his heartbeat quickens. Jimin is left bewildered by Taehyung’s sudden panicked response.

 

“I have to go,” he spits as he flings his backpack over his shoulder. He doesn’t look Jimin in the eye when he leaves, nor does he say good-bye. Hoseok notices him leave from the corner of his eye but he’s in the middle of practicing the choreography with the team and pushes the thought off to the side.

 

Hoseok’s eye catches Jimin’s, who shrugs. Maybe he forgot about an assignment that was due tomorrow and left in a rush to finish it. Whatever the case was, they think Taehyung will be fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung is grateful neither Jimin nor Hoseok chase after him. He can’t bear to have them see him like this. He tries so very hard to hide his pain from his friends, not wanting to burden them with his problems. He can’t pull them into his ocean. He has to try to tread water on his own.

 

He’s very proud of himself for making it to his dorm without crying. He hasn’t let himself cry in a while, preferring to let his mind sink into the emptiness of his waters. He recalls the comment Jimin had made, telling him that having a casual fuck might be good for him. How was he supposed to tell him the thought of someone touching him makes him want to burst into flames? How does he tell his best friend that he would rather light himself on fire than to feel some stranger’s touch caress him? Everyone his age would jump at the opportunity for sex.

 

Then there’s him: the anomaly, the one who prefers to do anything other than that.

 

Taehyung drops his head against the door once he’s settled inside the safety of his room. He slides down against it until his body hits the floor. Why can’t he be normal? Why can’t he just feel like everyone else does? Taehyung curls into a ball and loses himself in his waves of self-loathing. He digs his nails into his skin. Maybe tonight is the night the ocean completely drags him under.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Namjoon was confused at the wording of Yoongi’s text.

 

He received the message two hours ago and didn’t have a chance to check on it until now. He had been tutoring a student in college algebra at the library, so he kept his phone on silent. He hadn’t glanced at it until he got home. Jin was sitting on the couch with a bowl of steaming soup in his hands watching a horror movie when he walked into the living room, phone in hand and face twisted in concern.

 

Jin pauses the movie and sets the bowl down on the coffee table in front of him, ensuring its on a placemat so it doesn’t ruin the wood. He leans forward, elbows on his thighs and fingers interlaced between them. “Something wrong Joonie?”

 

“I got a weird text from Yoongi-hyung a couple hours ago.” Namjoon stops in the middle of the living room, eyes still locked on the screen.

 

“What did he say?” Jin hesitantly asks, eyes narrowing with trepidation.

 

“He said  ‘please go check on Taehyung-ah when you have the chance, I think he needs you‘ but I haven’t gotten any messages or calls from Taehyung. I wonder what it could be about?” Namjoon scratches the crown of his head.

 

“Maybe Jungkook’s already with him?” Jin suggests.

 

“No, Jungkook has a video game tournament at a friend’s tonight. Some special event that’ll grant him double the experience points if his battalion wins, so he's been MIA.” Namjoon walks to the couch and slips his backpack off and throws it next to the table. “I’m going to stop by his dorm to check on him just in case.”

 

“Want me to go with you?” Jin lifts himself off the couch and heads to his room to change out of his pajamas.

 

“Sure. Maybe he needs us to pose for a spontaneous nude portrait,” Namjoon chuckles. Taehyung had mentioned awhile ago that he was wanting to get back into painting as a hobby and wanted to try drawing nudes. “Though you may have to volunteer in my stead, I’m not confident enough to stand naked in front of anyone other than Jungkook.”

 

Jin reappears dressed in jeans and a pink hoody. “This would be perfect modeling practice for me. Plus I could add hand-painted nudes to my modeling portfolio.” Jin winks. “You see Joon, when I get naked in the bathroom, the shower usually gets turned on.” His squeaky laugh follows Joon’s groans of protest as they leave their apartment.

 

“Jin, I can’t bare your puns," Namjoon jokes, and their laughs echo throughout the chilly winter night as they head across town to the dorms.

 

The two arrive without trouble and park the car across the street. Namjoon leads Jin upstairs to Jungkook’s dorm. Namjoon has been here many times but it’s Jin’s first time seeing this dorm building. It wasn’t around yet when he was a sophomore and opened at the start of Jin’s junior year. It was still relatively new to campus. Jin admired the architecture and the modern style of the building. It made his old dorm building look like absolute shit. The halls were tiled, no stained concrete here, and the doors had a fancy wood trim bordering them. “I would have killed to live in a dorm like this back then. Does Jungkook have his own private bathroom?”

 

Namjoon peers over his shoulder with a dimpled smirk and pops the ‘p’. “Yup”.

 

“Must be nice to not have to share bathrooms with a whole floor. I’ve seen scary shit. And I’ve also seen literal piles of shit. Would rate the experience as ‘0 of 10’ would hate to relive again.” Jin cringes at the memory.

 

“You could say that again.” Namjoon agrees.

 

When they approach the door, Namjoon doesn’t think twice about opening it immediately. He had grown used to Jungkook leaving it open for him. It seems that Taehyung adopted the habit too because the door creaks open. They peek their heads inside but can’t make out any shapes in the darkness. “Taehyung?” He whispers.

 

There’s no reply, only the sound of soft whimpering. Namjoon quietly steps inside the room and turns on the light. Jin slides into the room and closes the door behind him. When he finds Taehyung laying on the floor next to his bed half-naked, he approaches thinking he had rolled off in his sleep. He had not heard the sobs as Namjoon did, who remains rooted to the floor with wide eyes as he assesses the situation.

 

Jin’s blood runs cold in his veins when he shakes Taehyung’s shoulder and turns him onto his back. Taehyung’s eyes are unfocused, and his eyes are swollen an angry red. There are tears streaming down his cheeks and there’s snot crusted around his nostrils. His eyes scan down his bare chest and stomach, and his eyes widen at the bleeding welts painting his body in streaks. Jin holds Taehyung’s cheek, “Taehyungie? Taehyung? Tae? W-what happened? What’s wrong? Why are you hurt?” His eyes dart back down his body and back up to hear his explanation but no words leave Taehyung’s mouth.  Alarm erupts goosebumps across his skin as he turns back to Namjoon, his voice hitching. “Joonie, he’s not responding, I think he’s delirious.”

 

Namjoon kneels in front of Taehyung and looks him over. He grabs one of Taehyung’s hands and inspects it. “I think he did this to himself, there’s dried blood under his nails.” His eyes begin to water at seeing the pain this sweet boy has inflicted on himself. What is he going through that is making him suffer enough to do something this? To hurt himself?

 

Jin’s barely holding on, tears bubbling at the edges of his eyes. His voice pitches higher in the attempt to keep himself together, to keep himself from breaking down in front of Taehyung’s withered state. The boy who is always radiating happiness and boxy smiles. This isn’t the Taehyung they know. “H-how could we have let it get this bad? How did we not notice Joonie? I’m supposed to be watching over him and making sure he's okay. I failed him, I failed our Taehyungie.” Jin wraps his arms around Taehyung and pulls him in close, letting the tears fall that he tried hard to suppress.

 

Namjoon tries to stay level-headed, tries to not let the heartbreak of seeing his friend like this overwhelm him. “He hid it well hyung, we wouldn’t have known unless he wanted us to. We should take him back with us. He shouldn’t be alone.” Namjoon finds a bag and starts packing a few set of clothes for him.

 

Jin reaches down and pulls Taehyung up onto the bed. He turns around and kneels one knee to the floor, wrapping Taehyung’s arms around his neck and gripping the back of his thighs to hoist him onto his back. He hears a small whimper escape his parted lips. "Shh, it’s okay Taehyung, we’ve got you. Your hyungs are here for you.”

 

Jin and Namjoon are quick to gather what is needed to head back to their apartment. Jin glances into the rearview mirror of the car to check on Taehyung and see’s him fast asleep. He looks so fragile. The vulnerability tugs at his heart. He doesn’t say it out loud, but he knows Namjoon is thinking it too. This sort of feels like déjà vu, only, its so much worse this time around.

 

Jin and Namjoon sandwich Taehyung between them on the couch when they arrive at their apartment. His head rests on Namjoon’s shoulder and Jin is stroking his thumb over his hand. Their first priority when they arrived was to disinfect the open cuts on Taehyung. There were only a few scratches that broke skin, but the ones that did were deep. It was like he was trying to claw his skin off.

 

Taehyung had fallen asleep on the car ride here, and he did not stir awake during the first-aid treatment. He was quietly settled between the two of them, neither hyung willing to leave the younger’s side. Though they had only known Taehyung for about half a year, (technically Namjoon knew of him longer but didn’t befriend him on a regular basis until the summer), it felt like they had known Taehyung all their lives. It was seamless the way he walked into their lives like he had always belonged there.

 

Taehyung had a way of wiggling his way into their hearts. He could easily fall into conversation with anyone, finding some sort of connection to tie them together. Whether that was gushing over a new hobby or a tv show they liked, Taehyung could keep the conversation going for hours. He was the embodiment of happiness and his enthusiasm spread like wildfire among them. He argued with Jin over their video games, laughed at the terrible jokes he made, and helped him cook meals. He would often ask Namjoon for book recommendations, wanting to engage in philosophical topics that Namjoon had referenced from his readings. They would sometimes sit together and write, Namjoon focusing on his lyrics while Taehyung wrote poems or doodled pictures. They saw Taehyung as a younger brother.

 

Namjoon and Jin were asleep by the time they felt Taehyung stir awake. They opened their eyes to stare down at him, their eyes adjusting to the darkness of the living room fairly quickly.

 

 

 


 

 

 

“W-where am I?” Taehyung slurred.

 

Jin found Taehyung’s hand and intertwined their fingers. “You’re at your hyungs’ apartment Taehyungie. We found you in your dorm spaced out, with scratches all over your body.”

 

Taehyung freezes at the words and tenses. “I-I’m so s-sorry” he sobs, voice cracking from strain.

 

“There’s nothing for you to be sorry about Tae,” Namjoon says softly. “We’re just glad you’re okay.” Namjoon feels Taehyung clutch the front of his shirt in a shaky grasp. He approaches the subject with weariness. “What’s wrong Taehyung? We need to know to help you.”

 

Taehyung clenches his eyes shut and burrows his head into Namjoon’s chest. He feels Jin rub soothing circles into his back. He can’t do this anymore. He doesn’t want to keep feeling like this. It hurts too much. He licks his dry lips and asks for water. Jin rises from the couch and swiftly retrieves a glass of water from the kitchen, setting it in Taehyung’s hands. Taehyung takes a small sip and lets the water relieve his parched throat. He downs the glass in three gulps. He has to tell them. He has to tell someone.

 

“I’m defective.”

 

Jin tilts his head, not understanding what Taehyung means. “What do you mean you’re defective? You make it sound like you’re a product.”

 

Taehyung sighs, “No, I mean, I’m defective as in ‘broken’. Something is wrong with me.”

 

Namjoon turns his body so that he faces Taehyung. He reaches over to light the lamp next to the couch. All three boys squint at the brightness as their eyes adjust. “Why do you think something is wrong with you?”

 

Taehyung fumbles with his fingers. “Because Bogum left me. He left me cause I’m not normal. I don’t think he could be with me because I’m messed up. I’m not working right. My body and my mind don’t react like they should.”

 

“Taehyung, is this about what you asked me earlier when we first got to know each other?” Concern is dripping from Jin’s expression, a hint of anger clouding his eyes. Taehyung doesn’t reply. He nods his head.

 

“I’m not following,” Namjoon states. “What did he ask you?”

 

Jin peers over at Taehyung for permission, wondering if he wants to tell Namjoon himself or if he wants Jin to tell him. Taehyung grinds his teeth over his bottom lip. Jin clears his throat and regards Namjoon with apprehension, unsure of how he will take it. “When we first met, after the summer party? We went out to a café for a light dinner. Taehyung had confided in me that he was having trouble with Bogum, that their way of showing love was too different and he wasn’t sure if he could love him in the way that he needed, especially when Taehyung wasn’t too fond of it in general.”

 

Taehyung closes his eyes and exhales slowly. Saying this will be extremely uncomfortable. “Jin-hyung, I wasn’t entirely honest with you. I had never shared that with anyone before so I kept it as broad as possible. Please don’t tell anyone what I’m about to tell you, promise me. Please.”

 

The torment on Taehyung’s face was distressing. What could Taehyung possibly tell them that would upset him this much? “We won’t tell anyone Taehyung, not without your permission.” Namjoon says, and Jin nods along.

 

Taehyung takes a deep breath. “What do you think I meant Jin-hyung when I told you about my problem?” He shifts his attention to Jin.

 

“Well, I understood you were being intimate with Bogum even though you didn’t particularly like it.”

 

Taehyung gives Jin a small smile, but there's no warmth behind it. It's empty. “You were right. I……” Taehyung clenches his jaw and calms his frantic heart. He sets his hands in his lap and grips his knees. “I stopped liking sex with Bogum years ago. I don’t know why, but I didn’t get the urge anymore. At first I thought it was because we were too inexperienced, so I did research and bought stuff to try new things. Every time we did it I felt nothing. It maybe felt good for a moment, but those were rare, and Bogum seemed to get so much more out of it than I did. I was jealous. Every one tells me how amazing sex is, how fantastic it feels, and how they have it multiple times a day. Yet, anytime we would do it, I would start thinking about everything other than sex. I would start to wish I was reading or watching a movie instead. Sex hurt. It always hurt, but I told myself I would get used to it. I never did. It was uncomfortable, but Bogum loved it so I kept doing it for him.”

 

Taehyung peeks up at Jin and Namjoon, who are giving him their full attention. Taehyung clears his throat and coughs into his hand. He continues. “The pain wasn’t worth it to me, so I started pushing sex off. I made excuses and it worked. One thing about Bogum though was that he loved sex, he loved the connection and it was a stress reliever for him. So if I put it off for too long, he would bring it up. We’d end up having sex and then he’d be happy for a while, until he wanted me again. It got to a point where I put my foot down and told him no. That’s when the arguments started. He kept pushing and pushing me until I gave in.”

 

When Taehyung looks back to Namjoon, his jaw is tense and his eyes are sharp with anger, eyes watery. Jin mirrors him, Taehyung's words settling into the air between them. He gets off the couch and sits on the floor so he can look at them at the same time. The next words are the hardest to get out. “There were so many times I cried myself to sleep. I wished I wanted it the way he did, the way everyone told me I should, even my friends.” Taehyung blinks the blur from his eyes and wipes his cheeks with the back of his hand. Jin and Namjoon have tears rolling down their cheeks too. 

 

“If I gave in but changed my mind half-way through, he would ignore me. And I would force myself to do it so that he could be happy. I didn’t want to make him mad or sad, even if it was hurting me in the process. So I kept giving him what he wanted no matter how much it hurt, and no matter how much I didn’t want it. He broke up with me because we weren’t working. He broke up with me because I’m defective, because I’m broken, because I don’t like sex and I guess it was something he couldn’t live without.” Taehyung sniffles and laughs. “See? I’m worthless. I couldn’t make him happy no matter how hard I tried.”

 

Jin and Namjoon fall to their knees, the tears running down their faces as they look at Taehyung with pure anguish in their eyes. “Taehyungie, he didn’t deserve you,” Jin murmurs.

 

Namjoon licks his lips, clearing the pain in his throat from keeping the urge to cry at bay. “There’s nothing wrong with you Taehyung, you’re amazing just the way you are.”

 

"I wish I believed that," he whispers brokenly.

 

His hyungs crush him in between them, and Taehyung relaxes in their hold. He basks in their embrace, starved of touch and too afraid to want it, but he accepts this moment. He needs it from them. He closes his eyes and feels the ocean’s pull receding as Jin and Namjoon spend the rest of the night whispering reassurances and love into his ears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung skips classes the next day and its not a big deal since the weekend approaches. He might even skip his Friday classes too. He’s not in the mood to be around other people. He needs a little more time to himself. He called in sick to work, and the manager wished him a speedy recovery.

 

He’s sitting on a stool in front of the kitchen counter and supervises Namjoon make cereal. Jin had warned him before leaving for his classes this morning to not let Namjoon turn on the stove without proper chaperoning. Jokes on Jin cause Taehyung’s not that great of a cook either (he’s told Jin he was decent, and that was a huge lie). The reason he seemed capable to Jin was because he would copy his movements whenever the elder’s attention was elsewhere. He strives to cook meals with the least amount of work possible. It’s questionable how he survived living in that condo for so long with his lack of cooking skills. Namjoon eats his cereal in peace and by the time he’s done eating, Taehyung has already washed the dishes. He grabs Namjoon’s bowl and starts to wash it too.

 

“Taehyung, we need to talk.”

 

Taehyung purses his lips. “About what?”

 

“You know. C’mon, we’ll sit at the dining table.” Namjoon hovers his hand over Taehyung’s back and guides him to the table. Taehyung crosses his arms and rubs his biceps for warmth. Namjoon and Jin liked to keep their apartment cold, despite it being 50 degrees out. “I’m a psychology major, so even though I’m not a licensed therapist or psychologist, I have studied certain subjects, such as what you experienced. Based on what you confided in us, it sounds like Bogum manipulated you, both emotionally and mentally, into having sex with him.” Namjoon’s posture is rigid in his chair.

 

“You know, now that some time has passed I see that. I know for a fact our relationship was unhealthy. I let it happen though, its my fault. If I had ended it sooner I wouldn’t be as damaged as I am now.” Taehyung lets out a broken laugh. It sounds awkward and forced in his ears.

 

“That’s the thing Taehyung, it isn’t your fault. You are not broken or damaged. I think you’re suffering from the aftermath of sexual abuse.”

 

“Wait, what? Abuse? But it’s not like I was forced into sex. He didn’t physically restrain me or anything. He didn’t hit me.”

 

“People often believe consent is black and white. Consent isn’t just a ‘no’ or a ‘yes’. There’s a gray area, a huge one at that.  Consent isn’t just vocalized, it’s also shown through your facial expressions and through your body language. And you are allowed to change your mind. Even if you said yes previously, you can change your mind in the midst of the action, and your partner is supposed to respect that. If Bogum made you feel guilt in any way, or felt like you had to please him, then that is manipulation. You should not be forced to do anything you do not want to do. He pressured you into having sex with him. That's not love Taehyung, that's sexual abuse.”

 

Taehyung feels like he’s been smacked in the face. Everything clicks. The way he’s been feeling, pulling away from people’s touch, even if its from people he loves. He loved Bogum and let him touch him, and he was taken advantage of. His body knew before he did. It knew affection wasn’t supposed to be that way. “I hadn’t thought of it like that. I thought I was doing something for someone I loved. Aren’t relationships about sacrifice sometimes? About compromise?”

 

Namjoon reaches out to place his hand over Taehyung’s shaking ones, but Taehyung instantly pulls back. “Sorry, it’s a reflex now. I can't stand the feeling of being touched. I can't say I've ever been a super touchy person but it never made me cringe or feel uncomfortable like it does now. I guess that explains why I pulled away from Bogum as time went on. It felt disgusting when he touched me after having to force myself to do those things with him. “

 

Namjoon pulls back his hand and nods, "There's no need to be sorry. I understand You couldn’t be affectionate with him without it leading to sex, or to an argument. You were subconsciously conditioned into having that reaction because innocent touches led to pain in the end, whether it was physical or emotional. But when it affects you in such a negative way, its not something that should have to be compromised. He should have respected you.”

 

You’re not the selfish one, he is.

 

Taehyung nods in agreement. “I can understand that now, but it doesn’t change the way I feel about myself. It may explain some of my thoughts and reactions, but the urge to tear myself apart is still there. My body feels disgusting, like my skin's been tainted or something. I hate it. I hate the way I feel. I hate the way I am.”

 

“I don’t think you meant to say it, but I heard you mumble ‘asexual’ in your sleep when we camped out on the couch last night. Do you think you’re asexual?”

 

“I'm not too sure, but I don't want to be. I don't want to be asexual. I want to be normal. I had enough trouble coming out as pansexual, let alone the shit people gave me about being with another man. Now I have to deal with not wanting sex too?” Taehyung fiddles with his fingers. “It’s not normal.”

 

Namjoon furrows his eyebrows. “Taehyung, asexuality does not mean you don’t desire sex. It means you don’t experience sexual attraction. There are different types of attraction: romantic, aesthetic, sensual, sexual etc. Asexuality specifically refers to someone who doesn’t see someone they are attracted to and think 'I want to have sex with them'. You could still have sexual desires, but they are not aimed at anyone specifically. The spectrum is broad though, and Ace for short, is an umbrella term. I know they don’t teach it in school, and it’s a shame, because sexuality is complex. It can change throughout a person’s life, or it could not. And the use of labels is to help identify yourself and to connect with others like you. You don’t have to label yourself if you don’t want to." Namjoon notices the uncertainty clouding Taehyung's eyes. "Asexuality IS normal Tae, and just because you've only learned about it recently doesn't mean it hasn't existed until now."

 

Taehyung scratches the back of his head, “That’s a lot to take in hyung. I don’t know how to feel about it.”

 

Namjoon throws him a reassuring dimpled smile, “There’s no rush to figure out who you are in this moment Taehyung. Exploring ourselves is a life-long journey. Don’t worry about having the answers. What I do urge you to do though, is to see a therapist or psychologist. I worry you might sink into depression if your feelings persist.”

 

Taehyung snorts and laughs dryly. Namjoon raises an eyebrow at his odd reaction. “Oh there’s no doubt about it. I've had it for a long time now. I used to be on medication a few years ago.”

 

“Used to? Why’d you stop?”

 

Taehyung’s rubs at his arm awkwardly. “I didn’t work full-time hours once I started school again so my health insurance was dropped. And I couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket. The office visits are a few hundred dollars each, and the medication is even more expensive. If I could afford it, I wouldn’t have gotten off of it. I tried natural remedies, but they didn’t work. And there’s only so much healthy eating and exercise can do. I’m positive the people in my family are more inclined to fall into depression. I really needed medication.”

 

Namjoon leans back into his chair and crosses his arms. “The university has a student clinic that you can go to. There might be health professionals affiliated with our school that offer lower rates to students without health insurance. If there is a cost, don’t worry about it being too high. Jin and I already discussed it and we’ll help you in any way we can.”

 

Taehyung’s jaw drops. He smacks his hand over his eyes as relief surges through him, not wanting to cry at the this act of kindness from two people he has started looking up to. He’s tired of crying, tired of treading water. His muscles are cramping, and his heart is heavy. He doesn’t want to hate himself anymore. He’s tired of punishing himself when he deserved better. And now his hyungs are offering their support so he can get the help he needs.

 

What did he do to get such caring friends?

 

Taehyung shuffles over to Namjoon and throws his arms around him, clinging to him desperately. Namjoon rubs circles into his back and ruffles his hair. They’ll do everything they can to be there for Taehyung.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung does skip school that Friday. He doesn’t spend the day lounging in his pajamas, deciding to visit the clinic and make an appointment to see a doctor. He’s lucky that they could squeeze him in. He only had to wait in the lobby for an hour. (It could be worse. He once had an appointment for a doctor visit set for 3PM but wasn’t checked into a room by a nurse until 4:30PM. Ridiculous right?? At least his phone was fully charged cause he spent the time reading a Boku no Hero Academia fanfic. It was *chef’s kiss* and he may or may not have had to darken the screen to read the smut scenes.) The hour went by fast since he started reading another smutty fic. He may not like sex in real life, but he enjoyed reading about it in fiction.

 

Taehyung meets with a physician instead of a psychologist and decides to schedule an appointment with a therapist once a week. The doctor reads his medical history and is able to prescribe him the same brand again to try out. He is to come back if he feels lethargic or if suicidal thoughts persist. The doctor looks over his body scratches too and assures him there should be no scarring. He vows to himself to never hurt his body again.

 

He repeats Jin’s mantra in his head every morning, “my body is a precious temple, and my face deserves to be worshipped” (he does cut out the last part, simply because he’s not as confident as Jin is).

 

The first meeting with his therapist is comforting and he thinks he’ll get along great with her. They ease into the subject of consent and she shows him a video on youtube called ‘Tea Consent.’ Taehyung thinks it’s a perfect analogy, both informative and entertaining. He shows all his friends the video, (not revealing who it was that showed him) and as expected, Namjoon gets a kick out of it. He says he’s going to show it in his family life and human sexuality class.

 

Overall Taehyung is feeling pretty optimistic. He’ll be able to work through his trauma alongside his therapist, and maybe get to a point where he can accept himself for who he is. But that’ll take time, and that’s okay. His medication works as well as it did before, and he settles back into his routine. He doesn’t tell Jimin, Jungkook or Hoseok what happened. He’s not ready, and neither Namjoon nor Jin push him to do so.

 

When Namjoon reveals that same weekend that it was because of Yoongi’s text that he and Jin checked on him, his heart swells with affection for his shy and quiet hyung. If there’s one thing he has learned about him within the last month they have been consistently meeting, it’s that Yoongi is reserved and doesn’t usually vocalize his sentiment very often. The affection is reflected in his actions instead of words, like when Taehyung forgets his scarf and Yoongi takes his off complaining how much he’s sweating and passes it to Taehyung, urging him to put it on even though it’s snowing because it's the first week of December.

 

It’s when Taehyung finishes his portion of dinner he brought them the evening they meet at the studio that Yoongi offers him the last slice of pizza and tells him he’s full even though he hadn’t eaten anything else since breakfast (Taehyung refuses, knowing Yoongi well enough to be able to tell when he hasn’t eaten lunch or breakfast because he’s crankier than normal).

 

It’s when Taehyung loses one of his gloves as they walk out of the music building in 32 degree temperatures to meet up with their other friends that Yoongi stuffs his mitten-free hand into his coat pocket to keep it warm, their hands locked together until they reach where they’re going.

 

It’s when Yoongi asks him how his week has been each time they meet in the studio to start recording Taehyung’s vocals and listens attentively to him babble on about the most random things ever with a smile on his face.

 

It’s when finals approach mid-december and Taehyung grows nervous and restless about turning in the song. He doesn’t have to perform it like he did the mid-term, but he wants Yoongi to get a good grade, and the elder pats his head and tells him they did amazing and knows they’ll get top marks.

 

And it’s when Yoongi receives his final grade for his graduation capstone, an A+ on the song, that he asks if he can hug Taehyung, wrapping his arms around the younger and holding him close as he smiles with his gums, his fluffy cheeks scrunched up in happiness. Taehyung melts into his arms and has to bend over a bit since Yoongi is shorter than him, but he doesn’t hesitate to nuzzle the tip of his cold nose against his warm neck. Yoongi shivers and pulls away, the smile still plastered on his face and his eyes twinkling. His cheeks are flushed and the tip of his nose is red from the frosty wind whipping around them. They had retrieved their grades and stepped out of the music building together.

 

“Are you leaving campus for winter break?” Yoongi asks.

 

“No, I’m spending it here with everyone else.” Taehyung admits with chattering teeth.

 

Yoongi smirks, “Good, cause we have a special birthday to celebrate now don’t we?” Yoongi gives him a fiendish grin, and normal people would cower from it, but Taehyung knows better. Yoongi may dress like he’s a mafia boss or leader of a delinquent gang of thugs, but he’s a softie inside. Yoongi flicks him on the forehead and tells him he’ll text him so they can meet up next week. Taehyung knows there’s no need to continue their meetups now that their assignment is over, but he feels butterflies erupt in his stomach at the thought of continuing their rendezvous.

 

Taehyung makes the trek back to his dorm and listens to the crunch of snow under his boots. He reminisces over the pain he’s endured until now and finds what used to make him cry before makes him feel only a tiny bit sad now.

 

Progress.

 

He smiles softly. He’s starting to put himself back together, piece by piece. Even if some pieces are jagged and broken beyond repair, with his friends by his side, he knows he’ll be loved regardless. He stands outside his dorm, taking a moment to count down the days until December ends.

 

As he stares up at the falling snow, he makes a wish on a small snowflake that the new year brings him peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoongi grew up to be self-sufficient at a young age, but not by choice.

 

It had always been him and his mom. His father was out of the picture, abandoning them shortly after Yoongi was born. He can’t say he wasn’t jealous of the other kids laughing with their families as they were picked up from school. He always wondered what having a family was like. When all the kids had gone home, Yoongi was the one left to wait for his mom to pick him up after school. She had a smile on her face while she drove them home, listening to him go on and on about what they learned in class. His times with her were limited to brief morning breakfasts and short dinners so he tried to talk to her as much as he could. Her smile faded eventually. It was her day job that made her skin dull from stress, and it was her night job that gave her dark bags. She tried her best to provide for her son, the only reason she continued working herself to exhaustion.

 

It wasn’t until middle school that her body finally gave in. She was checked into a hospital the night Yoongi found her collapsed in the kitchen. He visited her everyday, bringing along with him a keyboard piano his music teacher had gifted him when she heard the bad news. He was thankful for her, because she introduced him to his first love: music.

 

Yoongi spent his days alone in his small house. There was no one to care for him, thus he was forced to mature faster than his age. In between cleaning, cooking and homework, he spent a majority of his time learning to play the piano. He wanted to serenade his mother. Maybe she would feel the same comfort that music brought to him too.

 

He bitterly remembers the day he had wished her good-bye with tears streaming down his face and a roar escaping his throat as the nurses rushed to push him out of the room. The last glimpse he saw of her was her ragged breathing and an angelic smile. When he got to see her again, she was nothing but a lifeless corpse laying on a hospital bed. Time was a blur. He can’t recall how or when someone had contacted his mother’s side of the family. He didn’t even have that information, so he still wonders how the hospital got a hold of them. His mother was not close to her side of the family, for reasons that remain unknown. She grew sick before he was old enough to tell.

 

He packed very little, deeming most of his possessions unnecessary. The one thing he clutched close to his heart was his beloved keyboard. Thus he was whisked away from his small-town home and shipped off to the city. His relatives rarely spoke to him, solely addressing him when it was required. Yoongi didn’t mind. Growing up poor had him value more important things in life than the materialistic obsessions his relatives adorned. He kept himself secluded in his bedroom, the furthest room from everyone else. He had more privacy living on the opposite side of the house anyways.

 

He barely passed the new middle school he was enrolled in, depression and grief setting in as he mourned over the only person who has ever loved him. His friends were few, most turning away when his mood grew sour. Agitation had him snapping at those around him and rumors spread regarding his delinquent behavior. He repressed his resentment at life for taking away his mother until his knuckles ached for release. He never initiated the fights, but bullies saw his introverted nature as a symbol of weakness. That was how he began venting his anger, his knuckles splitting open as he punched his assailants over and over.

 

The rumors followed him into high school, but his erratic behavior had mellowed out. He no longer got in fights, turning to song writing as a means of release. Depression and anxiety followed him like a shadow, but he welcomed that darkness, let it into his heart and into his song. If it wasn’t for music perhaps he would have died of heartbreak and reunited with his mother in the afterlife.

 

He made sure to fill all his high school electives with music-related classes. It was in these classes that he made his first true friend: Kim Namjoon.

 

Yoongi was pale and thin with black hair. His wardrobe consisted of all-black, which could be the reason others classified him as a gang member. Or a vampire. Namjoon was a tall and lanky fellow, probably considered a nerd by high school standards with how he carried his textbooks around with him everywhere and pushed his thick rimmed glasses up his nose when they slid too low. It must have raised eyebrows to see the two talking together or even interacting at all.

 

Yoongi had his earphones on and furiously wrote lyrics down in his composition book one day when he felt a poke in his shoulder. Yoongi muted the song and pulled off the headset, raising an eyebrow. “Can I help you?” he drawls. Their music theory class had a free period today, letting the students work on anything they wanted to. Namjoon had noticed Yoongi absorbed in his lyric-writing frenzy and grew curious. He was the first to willingly approach him despite the odds of getting his head bitten off.

 

Namjoon merely greeted him with a dimpled smile. “We should be friends.”

 

Yoongi was perplexed. He was pretty sure he gave off an aura that meant the opposite of ‘approachable’, yet here was Namjoon, looking at him with sparkling eyes. Yoongi was too baffled to say anything and watched with a gaping mouth as Namjoon pulled an empty chair next to his desk. “I know I’m a freshman and you’re a sophomore, but I think we could be really great friends. I don’t think anyone could understand my passion for music besides you.”

 

Yoongi stares at Namjoon, and then looks past him and around the room at the other students. They’re all either gathered in small groups gossiping or on their phones doing god knows what. Yoongi looks back to Namjoon and sees him raise a journal. “I have a song-writing journal notebook too. If you want, we could exchange them and give each other feedback.”

 

Yoongi looks down at his journal and fumbles with his bottom lip. He peers back up at Namjoon’s glimmering eyes and surprises himself when the words “okay” tumble from his lips. It was from that moment on that the two became inseparable.

 

Yoongi owes a lot to Namjoon for being the first person to really try to understand him. They didn’t just talk about their music but about everything. Yoongi let someone other than his mother into his heart, and he found himself appreciating Namjoon’s presence. Their conversations varied from their childhood, experiences with mental illness, to the uncertainty of their future. Yoongi could unload all the feelings he’s kept locked away in the recess of his mind, and it felt like a weight was lifted off his shoulders as Namjoon listened patiently.

 

Yoongi would often sleepover at his house, the two spending their nights messing with a music producing program Namjoon had recently acquired. The Yoongi who was so unsure of his future had finally found a dream that night. He wanted to be a music producer. He spent the rest of his high school career working his butt off in pursuit of this new dream. He kept his academic record sharp and grade point average high. He was granted a full scholarship to the college of music in the local university downtown by the time his last semester of high school rolled around. There were no tears shed when Yoongi gave Namjoon a good-bye hug after graduation.

 

Throughout his first year in college, the two kept in contact and hung out almost every week since they still lived in the same city. What became difficult was seeing his best friend less than he was used to. Yoongi still wasn’t considered approachable, and he had a resting bitch face. He couldn’t help that he kept his face neutral and relaxed.

 

Yet once again, despite his stand-offish demeanor he somehow managed to make another close friend: Kim Seokjin.

 

It was required for all freshman to live in the school dorms during their first year of university so Yoongi had moved out of his relatives house (thank god). His scholarship didn’t grant him the financial ability to acquire a private room though, so he was forced to room with another student. He hated that he was going to be placed with some random stranger. Most students his age were going to spend their year partying every weekend with alcohol in one hand and drugs in the other. Yoongi on the other hand, refused to attend any large social gatherings. He had developed social anxiety during the time he spent alienated by his peers. He expected his roommate to be just like the stereotypical college student he saw in movies. What he didn’t expect was Adonis reincarnated as a young college student to walk through his dorm room door during move-in week.

 

Yoongi couldn’t help but gawk at the other, his jaw gaping as his new roommate started to unpack his belongings on the other side of the room. After a few moments of silence, the man turned around and said, “Take a picture, it’ll last longer,” and winked. Yoongi rolled his eyes. His roommate cackled and the most horrendous noise came out of his mouth. Yoongi swore it sounded like a crack addict trying to breathe when their throat choked up. He couldn’t help but smirk, the laugh itself funny enough to have him purse his lips in an attempt not to laugh with him.

 

When the man fanned his eyes to stop them from watering he introduced himself. “My name's Kim Seokjin, a freshman fashion design major. Don’t worry though, this face won’t go to waste because I plan on modeling my own designs in the future.” Yoongi waited for him to finish his monologue. “I’m only going to say this once, so listen well okay? I don’t party, I don’t do drugs and I’m a clean person. I expect you to keep your mess on your side of the room, got that? Oh, and I like peace and quiet, so don’t get too loud or else we’re going to have issues.” Seokjin smiled sweetly at Yoongi like the words that came from his mouth weren’t dripping with threat.

 

Yoongi gave him a lazy smile, “ditto” and turned around to finish unpacking. The two spent the rest of their quiet evening settling into their suite. Not much conversation was made that night, but the same cannot be said for the rest of their time as roommates. Seokjin and Yoongi ended up hitting it off. Their personalities meshed well together, and the two lived similar lifestyles. When their freshman year had ended, they decided to rent an apartment together off-campus. Turns out Seokjin’s family was well off and offered to pay for a fancy suite on the other side of the city. It wasn’t too far from campus, but it was a lot more extravagant than Yoongi could ever imagine. Yoongi had offered to pay rent, but Seokjin waved him off and told him not to worry about it. Yoongi shrugged and took the offer, using the housing portion of his scholarship money to pay for both their groceries and any other expenses.

 

Yoongi made sure to introduce his high school best friend and his college best friend early on. Namjoon frequented their dorm room often and became just as close to Jin (he preferred this nickname) as Yoongi was. It was weird seeing his two worlds collide at first, but once Namjoon graduated and entered their university as a freshman their dynamic stabilized. Yoongi’s duo became a trio. A smile graced his lips as he watched the two argue over a Mario game. He didn’t think he would be blessed enough to have two good friends in his life.

 

 

 

 

 

When he and Jin’s sophomore year ended, Yoongi had made the decision to move out, wanting to have a place of his own. Everything flowed perfectly because Namjoon had finished his freshman year and didn’t have to live in the dorms anymore. He practically begged Jin to take him in, complaining that he was tired of walking into the shared dorm floor bathroom early in the mornings and seeing filth (He can’t tell you the amount of times he’s walked in to see someone with a dick in their mouth, a dick in their hand, or a dick in their ass. Do these people have no shame?!). Jin took a sick pleasure in hearing Namjoon whine and beg for over an hour but eventually agreed and took Namjoon under his wing.

 

Over the course of his friendships, Yoongi warmed up. He wasn’t a social butterfly by any means, but he didn’t mind attending parties every once in a while, but only if they were thrown by Jin and Namjoon. It was at one of these parties that he was introduced to the dancing duo: Jimin and Hoseok.

 

Jimin was dressed in soft pastels, his hair a platinum blonde at the time with a pink blush staining his cheeks. Hoseok was all sharp features, his dark brown hair falling in front of his eyes and dressed in vibrant neon sportswear. Namjoon had been tutoring Jimin on the side and invited him and his roommate to their party.

 

Yoongi was taken aback by how easily the younger dancers roped him into their world. The two were extremely bubbly: Jimin like a soft flower and Hoseok like a bouncing ball of energy. He left that night with two more contacts added to his phone and woke up the next morning to a stream of incoming messages. He ignored most of them but that didn’t deter the dancers. Yoongi rarely saw them on campus, but saw them every time he went over to Jin and Namjoon’s apartment (which was pretty much every other day). Although their personalities contrasted, Yoongi could be silly with them and he found himself smiling and laughing so much more with them around.

 

One day at dinner, while on the couch telling Jimin and Hoseok about some of the songs he was working on, a scared looking bunny entered their wolf den. Hoseok and Jimin immediately shrieked and flew off the couch straight into the other’s arms. The boy’s smile was bright and innocent, big dark eyes full of wonder as he took in the sight of the apartment. Yoongi was full of confusion until he saw Namjoon approach the boy from the corner of his eye. He watched on with intrigue at the obvious hesitance between them. When he saw Namjoon rub his neck and look down at his feet in embarrassment, paired with the adoring look in the younger’s eyes, it clicked.

 

Yoongi spoke up, “Namjoon, you didn’t tell me you had a boyfriend.”

 

The room went silent and Yoongi was perplexed to see everyone look at him, even Jin from the kitchen who widened his eyes in horror at Yoongi’s comment. Jimin and Hoseok fell to the floor in a fit of laughter, clutching their stomachs and howling on the ground. Namjoon and the boy shared equal looks of embarrassment, their faces going completely red.

 

Yoongi realized he fucked up. “Oh shit, fuck, my bad. Sorry, I just thought—cause the way you looked at each other—”

 

Jin came sprinting out of the kitchen with a ladle in his hand, hooked his hand under Yoongi’s bicep and dragged him into the kitchen. Jin looked over the kitchen counter to check on the damage control that might need to be done but relaxed when he saw Hoseok cut in to ease the awkward air between them. Jin glared daggers at Yoongi and smacked his hand with the ladle. Yoongi hissed and pulled his hand to his chest, rubbing the area soothingly.

 

“What the hell? What was that for?” Yoongi whined.

 

“You idiot!” Jin hissed. “That’s Jungkook, the freshman Namjoon started tutoring at the beginning of the spring semester!”

 

Yoongi tries to recall hearing that name at any point in his conversations with Joon but he comes up with a blank. “I, I didn’t know. My bad.” Yoongi looks over at Namjoon, guilt shadowing his features. He knew Namjoon had a crush on someone, but he didn’t know it was on the student he’s been tutoring. “They’re obviously crushing on each other, how are they not together yet?” Yoongi whispers.

 

Jin scowls, “You know how shy and awkward Joon can be. Jungkook’s just as bad, if not worse. I’d say they won't get together until the summer.”

 

Jin had been pretty close with his guess. The two got together the beginning of fall, shortly after the semester started. Yoongi was pretty disappointed he didn’t get to see the progression of their awkward love, since it was as close to romance as he’s ever been.

 

Romance was never something he actively looked for. He’s had a few fun nights here and there and explored his sexuality but concluded he really didn’t care enough to be in a relationship. Living on his own gave him some much needed space and privacy, especially now that his social group had grown. This came at a cost, literally, which had Yoongi picking up a full-time job at a record store to support himself. He had to cut down his classes, so he would be a junior for another year. He didn’t mind, there was no rush anyways. His other friends weren’t on a set schedule to graduate either. He had a vague idea of where they were at but none of them knew exactly when they would graduate, so they didn’t bother keeping up with their class status.  

 

The year flew by quickly, and Yoongi spent his summer before senior year at an internship. It was a full-time paid internship that he had desperately wanted, but it turned out to be pretty shitty. His days were spent running coffee errands and listening in on productions. He could say he learned a lot, but he didn’t. At least it made his resume look good. The one perk he got out of it was the ability to professionally record his new song “Seesaw” the first week of his summer internship.

 

He came up with it on the fly when he was walking past a playground with an old seesaw. In a wisp of fleeting youth, he ran over to it and got on, reminiscing about his childhood when his mom was still around. He smiled to himself at the memory but was disrupted by an arguing couple. He watched out of pure curiosity, the two bickering in tones that progressively got louder. As Yoongi walked along the seesaw, it would move up and down due to the shift of his weight. The motion fit the mood of the arguing couple, and he was hit with sudden inspiration. He pulled out his phone and excitedly typed down the lyrics that flooded his mind.

 

As soon as he recorded it, he uploaded it onto his soundcloud page. He gained quite a few thousand followers despite having only a couple songs on there. He looked forward to working on the lyrics for the songs of his new mixtape. He would still upload it under his SUGA profile, but he’d already decided his persona would be AGUST D for this project. These songs had a dark and personal theme, much different than what SUGA was. He wanted to keep the two separate, though they were both important aspects of him.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Towards the end of his summer he got an invitation to a party Namjoon and Jungkook were throwing. He suspected Jungkook practically lived there by now, not that Jin minded. They’ve grown a soft spot for the youngest of them all over the course of time they’ve known him. He was quite the little shit though, not at all innocent like they thought he’d be. He and Jin bicker like siblings, sometimes brawling like ones too. Yoongi found his relationship with Jungkook to be similar, except he didn’t have the will to fight back. He let Jungkook mess with him whenever he wanted and however he wanted. The kid was adorable, sue him.

 

Yoongi had planned on going to the party but he fell ill with a cold. And after he healed, he hadn’t made the effort to swing by his friends’ place for dinner, too consumed by the progress on his mixtape. He booked his usual studio the first day of classes, locked himself in there and lost himself in his work. He felt a little guilty that he hadn’t seen his friends all summer, but they knew him well enough to know he’d swing by eventually.

 

As he worked, a handsome looking face would pop into his mind every now and then. The front desk clerk was a new hire from what he could tell. Yoongi was rather entranced by the other, his angelic features paired with a halo of blonde hair.  He wondered if he was a music major as well. He often found himself looking that way every time he passed the reception area, but he made sure the other didn’t see him staring.

 

Yoongi kept his distance and never approached, choosing to admire him from afar.

 

 

 

 

 

Even though Yoongi hadn’t seen his friends in months, he checked in on them from time to time, and they did the same. Namjoon gave him updates on everyone, and mentioned a new dongsaeng. Something about befriending one of Jungkook’s childhood friends. Yoongi didn’t pay much thought to it. He figured he’d meet him sometime in the future if he was close to Jungkook. When Yoongi got the invitation for dinner at Namjoon and Jin’s, he promised himself he would go. It had been weeks since the semester started, and he had yet to see his friends. Their group has become somewhat of a family to him, and he prized it. Never would he have believed he could feel so content and loved.

 

There was still something off though, and Yoongi couldn’t put his finger on it. It felt like his family was incomplete, like there was something missing. He wasn’t sure if it was all in his head or not. He shrugged it off as nothing more than a fleeting feeling.

 

The day of the dinner he walked to Jin and Namjoon’s apartment, which was about 10 minutes from his own. He bumped into Jungkook and Hoseok along the way, and they were rowdy as they dragged him with them. Yoongi had not expected to be officially introduced to the boy he’s been admiring for weeks that evening. His appearance had grown thinner, and the brightness in his eyes he originally saw were dimmed. He looked like a wilting flower, and Yoongi vowed in that moment he would do anything to befriend him, to see him bloom one day.

 

Yoongi has never gone out of his way to make a friend of his own volition. But there’s a first time for everything isn’t there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Yoongi-hyung?”

 

Yoongi’s attention snaps right back into the present. He glances up at Taehyung, who is currently sitting upside down on the studio’s couch, his knees bent over the top of the couch and his head hung low, hair brushing the floor.  He has a playful scowl on his face, annoyed that it took so much effort to get Yoongi’s full attention.

 

“Hmm?” Yoongi hummed. His eyes were a little dazed, like he had been in the middle of a day dream.

 

Taehyung cocked his head to the side. “You’re practically falling asleep in that chair. You’ve been at this for hours hyung, you should go home and sleep. No offense, but you like you haven’t had a decent night sleep in days.”

 

Yoongi frowned and licked his dry lips. He needs to buy some chapstick. “You brat, I let you hang in the studio with me and this is how you compliment me?” Yoongi rolls his chair back towards his computer.

 

Taehyung pushes his legs off the couch and his body folds over his head into a somersault. He lands in a crouch and crawls over to Yoongi. He stands up and pulls Yoongi’s chair away from the desk and wraps his arms around his neck. Taehyung nuzzles the side of his head. He' doesn't know why he has the urge to touch Yoongi sometimes, but he just needs the contact, especially with how rare it is. He doesn't usually like this type of contact nowadays, but he finds that sometimes he just has the urge to hug Yoongi. “Oh c’mon hyung, you know I don’t mean it like that,” he purrs.

 

Yoongi shivers at the hot breath fanning the tip of his ear. Yoongi rolls his eyes, “Yeah Yeah.” He unwraps the lock of hands Taehyung has around his neck and scoots up to the computer. He saves his work onto his flash drive and shuts the system down.

 

As they’re walking out of the studio Taehyung swings around and steps backwards, facing Yoongi head on. “We should meet somewhere else next week hyung. A fresh change of scenery could help with the creative block you’ve got going on. Ya know, to get your brain juices flowing.”

 

Yoongi narrows his eyes. “I don’t have a block, I’m still thinking about different arrangements and trying to figure out which I like best.”

 

Taehyung gives Yoongi an exasperated sigh. “Hyung, you’ve been stuck on the same part of the song for two weeks already. All you do is stare at the computer and alternate between the different accompaniments you have recorded already.”

 

Yoongi throws his head back and groans. Taehyung doesn’t realize how long his eyes linger on the column of Yoongi’s pretty throat, nor does he realize he licks his lips when he sees his adam’s apple bob as he groans again.

 

“Hyung, how about we go over to your place after the winter formal performance next week? My dorm room is tiny, plus everyone else has been over there but me!” Taehyung sticks out his bottom lip in a plead and gives him Jungkook’s famous puppy dog eyes.

 

“Why are you inviting yourself over to my apartment,” Yoongi argues, but he gives in at the adorable face Taehyung makes. “Ugh, fine.”

 

Taehyung cheers and Yoongi grumbles under his breath knowing he’ll have to tidy up his apartment if someone’s coming over. He really does need a nap.

 

 

                                                                        


 

 

 

When Jimin danced, he felt like liquid fire coursed through his veins. His muscles ached as he repeated the steps once more, wanted to make sure he had every movement ingrained into the fabric of his whole being. When the song ended, Jimin collapsed on the floor in heavy pants. Sweat coated every inch of his skin and trailed down his back like rain drops. He closes his eyes and savors the feeling of accomplishment after practicing a routine. He’s a perfectionist and knows he’ll be running though this routine every single day until the winter showcase on Christmas Eve. He has a little under a week left.

 

He hears the dance room’s door creak open and peeks an eye open to see who walked in. Jungkook struts in wearing maroon sweatpants and a grey hoodie with a black beanie covering his curling locks. Piercings line up his ears and he has a smirk on his lips as his shoulder bag slips off and falls to the floor. “Mind if I join? I have some steam I need to blow.”

 

Jimin nods and Jungkook huffs as he starts stretching. Jimin sat up and used the bottom of his shirt to wipe the sweat off his face, his toned stomach on display for a brief moment. “Course. I’m done practicing my solo for today anyways. Hobi should be here soon too,” Jimin says offhandedly.

 

Jungkook stretches out a leg and leans over it. He holds the position for 10 seconds and switches to the other leg. “Have you talked to Taehyung at all? You know, about it?” Jungkook releases his leg and slides onto his back and twists himself to one side to stretch out his back. He does the same to the other side.

 

Jimin snorts. “I tried to, but he shut me out. I don’t know anything. You?” Jimin peers at Jungkook over his shoulder. His back is facing Jungkook.

 

“No, he’s been…. distant. It’s weird. It feels like he’s his usual self but then out of no where he gets jaded, like it’s all an act that he’s tired of playing. I told Namjoon about it and he told me to give him space and that Taehyung would tell us when he’s ready. He gets this look on his face when I bring him up. His forehead wrinkles and he gets all stoned faced. I think he knows something but its frustrating cause he won’t tell me what it is. It’s actually why I’m so worked up. It’s pissing me off.” Jungkook sits up and sighs. “We’d be the first ones to know about what happened right? We’ve been friends for so long…”

 

Jimin goes quiet. He messes with the threads poking out of the stitches in his shirt. Jimin pauses and turns around to face Jungkook. “Taehyung rarely ever shared his problems with us when it came to Bogum so I figured things were fine between them. They were like two peas in a pod. Whatever happened between them must have been really serious for them to break off a 5 year relationship like that. They were engaged for two freaking years!”

 

Jungkook pokes his tongue against his cheek. He hopes this isn't the reason. “Do you think…do you think Bogum cheated?”

 

Jimin curls his hands in fists. He wipes the remaining sweat off his upper lip. “If he did I’m going to hunt him down and kill him. It would make sense if he did though, since he moved away like the pathetic excuse of a man he is. ”

 

The atmosphere in the dance room is thick with tension, the two friends simmering in anger at the thought of their kind-hearted friend being cheated on. When Hoseok joins them minutes later, he can almost taste the palpable anger in the room. “Woah, Woah, Woah. Why does it feel like I stumbled into a murder plot. Who are you guys planning to take out and can I join?” Hoseok’s full of smiles as he prances over to his friends who are sulking on the floor. His voice is filled with humor as he prods the two about what they were discussing. Jimin and Jungkook relay their worries to Hoseok, whose smile fades into an aloof disposition. “I’ve told you guys many times. I get that you’re worried, I am too. But we have to be patient. Taehyung will come to us when he’s ready.”

 

Jungkook snorts. “You sound like Namjoon. He should have told us by now. We're his friends!"

 

Hoseok’s eye twitches and he glares at Jungkook. “Get your head out your ass Jungkook. Taehyung may be our best friend but he doesn’t owe us any explanation. If he wants to tell us, he will. And if he doesn’t, we can’t get mad that he won’t. Whatever happened really fucked him up, and we don’t have the right to expect him to tell us.”

 

 Jungkook withdraws into himself with a look of guilt. He tucks his chin against his neck and draws his legs against his chest, locking his arms around them. “I just want to help.”

 

Hoseok’s eyes soften. “The best thing we can do is offer him unconditional support. How about we focus on something else, like planning his birthday party? We don’t really celebrate Christmas, so we can put all our effort into planning the best birthday of his life!”

 

Jimin and Jungkook give him a small smile, and the two stand up to start their group workout. Hoseok scampers over to the stereo and plugs in his phone to play a song. When the beat kicks on the trio branch off into their own individual styles, releasing all the pent up frustration that’s been building inside them. The rest of their evening is filled with horseplay and laughter as they roast each other over their over-the-top dancing.

 

 

                            


 

 

 

The auditorium was packed when the group arrived to watch Hoseok and Jimin’s performance. Taehyung and Jungkook were running late as per usual, no thanks to Jungkook’s incessant need to take his routine 7pm poop. How the boy has been so consistent with his bowl movements all these years is still a wonder to Taehyung. “This is all your fault Kookie! If you didn’t take so long to shit then we wouldn’t be so late! We have less than 10 minutes before it starts!” Taehyung is yelling in between pants as they race up the steps to the auditorium’s entrance.

 

“We’re here already, it's fine. We made it,” Jungkook wheezes.

 

Taehyung wipes the sweat off his forehead with the cuff of his sleeve. The show required semi-formal attire, so the two were sweating bullets underneath their ironed dress shirts and matching blazers. Their slacks were tight around their thighs but loose at the ankles-- form fitting yet comfortably loose. He preferred to dress more modest than in the past. He gets checked out less by others if he wears slightly over-sized clothing.

 

A student is holding the door open for guests as they pass out the programs for tonight’s showcase. Jungkook takes it and folds it into his pocket. Taehyung skims through it, an “aha!”, bursting from his lips when he finds Jimin and Hoseok’s name. “Hoseok’s solo performance starts off the whole show and Jimin ends it. They have a few group choreos too.” Taehyung is reading the program aloud while they enter through the doors. Taehyung’s voice is drowned out by the sounds of chattering students and faculty. He shoves the program into his back pocket.

 

Jungkook pulls out his phone to check the text Namjoon sent him regarding their seats. Jungkook guides them to the front. Jin saved five seats for them in the fourth row from the stage, right in the center. They had a perfect view of the whole stage. Jungkook carefully tiptoes sideways down the aisle to not bump into any legs and Taehyung does the same. When they reach their friends Jungkook immediately slumps into the seat next to Joon. The other empty seat is between Yoongi and Jungkook.

 

Taehyung lights up knowing he’ll get to sit next to Yoongi. He can’t tell what he’s wearing because of the dim lighting but Yoongi’s hair, which usually falls flat over his eyebrows, is swept to the side with his pretty forehead on display. Taehyung smiles to himself. Yoongi is so handsome. When he plants himself into the seat Yoongi greets him with a nod.

 

“Hey Taehyung-ah.”

 

Taehyung’s cheeks puff up in a flashy smile. “Hey hyung!”

 

Yoongi looks at Taehyung so endearingly and Taehyung stares right back with twinkles in his eyes. Jin has to bend forward to narrow his eyes at his blue-haired dongsaeng for ignoring him with no greeting. “What? Am I really paid dust?”

 

Taehyung shrinks into himself in embarrassment and gives Jin a tiny wave. “Sorry! Hey Jin-hyung!” Taehyung turns to his other side and leans backward to catch Namjoon’s attention. He reaches over to poke him. “Hey Namjoon-hyung!”

 

Namjoom glances over Jungkook to greet him in response. Then he adjusts himself comfortably in his seat and sinks down into it. Five minutes pass until the lights dim completely, plunging the audience into darkness. Yoongi leans over to whisper in his ear. “Do you know what performance is up first?”

 

Taehyung nods and reaches into his pocket to pull out the program. “Hobi kicks off the performance. He’s dancing solo to,” Taehyung presses the power button on his phone to turn the screen light on. He hovers over the program and squints to read the song name. “He’s dancing to a song called ‘Boy Meets Evil”.

 

The music begins right then, a sort of jazzy accompaniment that builds until a spotlight flickers on towards the back end of the stage. Hoseok is on his knees, dressed in black holed skinny jeans and a white, loose, silk long sleeve shirt. His hair is still that bright fiery red and contrasts wonderfully with the dark atmosphere of the song. The audience is mesmerized as Hoseok works his way towards the front of the stage, each move utilizing every muscle in his body as he stomps forward and flips into the air. His movements are precise as he jerks his body in different ways. When the song crescendos, a pair of shadowed wings appear behind his back and the song reaches its climax. Hoseok’s steps are full of power as he grabs his neck and twists himself this way and that way until he’s back on his knees, the song decreasing in volume. His chest is heaving and he drops his head before the spotlight goes out. The audience is silent for a moment but then erupts into claps and whistling. Taehyung yells his lungs out in support of his best friend’s badass performance.

 

“I expected something more festive,” Taehyung murmurs to Yoongi, “This isn’t Christmas-sy at all!”

 

Yoongi chuckles, “Technically you can make a connection, the song was about temptation, kind of like how this holiday is centered around buying materialistic possessions spurred on by capitalistic greed.”

 

Taehyung deadpans at Yoongi, “Really hyung?” His tone is thick with sarcastic disbelief. Yoongi merely shrugs his shoulders.

 

The rest of the performances that night are just as captivating. Hoseok and Jimin’s constant practicing really shows in the way their team moves like they are one. There’s not a single misstep from what Taehyung can tell and each move transitions into another smoothly. There’s a brief intermission, and the group of friends take a bathroom break and return to their seat. There’re a few other solos by team members in between the group performances. They’re pretty good, but no match in comparison to Hoseok’s routine.

 

Taehyung buzzes in his seat when the final solo starts: Jimin’s. A string of violins and cellos start the song, but an acoustic guitar comes in moments later as the spotlight focuses on an individual standing center stage. Jimin is dressed similarly to Hoseok, dark skin- tight pants with a striped silk shirt hanging off his shoulders delicately. His bubble-gum pink hair accents the outfit nicely. The deep v-neck shows off glimpses of his collarbones, and his sleeves cover his hands. He has a choker around his neck, but that’s not what takes the group of friends by surprise.

 

It’s the fact that Jimin is blind-folded.

 

Taehyung swears he hears Jin curse under his breath at the sight. Taehyung empathizes completely. His best friend is dripping with sin. Once the melody’s lyrics come in, Taehyung focuses on Jimin’s movements and the song’s meaning. Unlike Hoseok’s movements, Jimin’s are more sensual yet just as powerful. He dances with his whole body and some of his moves are fluid and others are jerky. Taehyung’s eyes widen at the talent that tiny body manages to contain. But that’s not what overwhelms Taehyung. When the song reaches the chorus, he feels like ice water is poured down his back. He tenses completely, body rigid as he sits straight up in his seat. His eyes are locked on Jimin and his ears are homed into the underlying meaning of the song. Taehyung grips the arms rests of his seat like he’s holding on for dear life, nails digging into the wood. This solo strikes a chord with him because he can completely relate to it.

 

His hands start to tremble when the song reaches the bridge. Taehyung is too immersed to notice Yoongi’s attention has shifted to him. He feels a pinky poke his hand, and he snaps his head to the side and sees Yoongi’s worried expression. Taehyung’s expression is filled with pain, his teeth digging into his bottom lip and his eyebrows knitted together. Yoongi pokes his pinky against Taehyung’s clenched grip again, and Taehyung returns his attention to the stage. He unfurls his hand from the armrest, releasing it from his death grip. He intertwines his hand with Yoongi’s, whose thumb caresses his cold skin in comfort. Taehyung holds his breath when the performance reaches the climax and Jimin pulls off the fabric that had covered his eyes until this point, symbolizing that he’s no longer blinded by his own lie.

 

When the lights go out the auditorium is filled with screaming support and vigorous clapping. All his friends are standing up and hollering as the stage curtains close. Taehyung remains in his seat, absorbing and processing that whole performance. Yoongi stays seated next to him and waits patiently for Taehyung. It’s not until the curtains open up again to show the entire line of dancers who bow to the audience that Taehyung releases Yoongi’s hand and the two stand up to clap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You guys were fucking amazing!” yells Jin as he envelops the two dancers in a hug. ‘Thank You’s’ spill from their mouths when their group of friends crowd them, each talking over the other as they gush over the showcase. Compliments are thrown Hoseok and Jimin’s way and the two are soaking in the praise with wide smiles on their faces. Taehyung tries to be his energetic self by throwing himself against them, bragging about how talented his friends are. Everyone laughs in unison at the theatrics except for Yoongi. He smirks and gives his kudos to the dancers but his eye’s hold a knowing gaze as they bore into the back of Taehyung’s head.

 

The group hangs out for a bit after the performance, settling on plans to meet for their New Year’s Eve party. They considered meeting up again the next day to celebrate Christmas but decided to relax and stay home. None of the friends were religious, so Christmas didn’t hold any particular meaning to them aside from the food and gift-giving traditions. The friends all bid each other farewells, Hoseok and Jimin heading home with Jungkook, Namjoon and Jin. They don’t question when Taehyung leaves with Yoongi despite their homes being in completely opposite directions.

 

Taehyung follows Yoongi to his car that is parked a few blocks down the road. Taehyung slides into the passenger seat and wraps his arms around himself to trap as much body heat as he can inside him. Yoongi starts the car and lets it warm up for a few minutes. He turns the knob on the heater and adjusts the temperature so hot air fills the car’s cabin. Taehyung sighs in relief at the heat and hovers his hands over the air vents to warm them up faster. Yoongi passes him the aux chord and tells him he can play whatever he wants. Taehyung plugs his phone in and pulls up his music app and scrolls through his playlist. He thinks about what song he should play as Yoongi pulls out of the parking spot.

 

Taehyung’s tongue pokes out the side of his lips in contemplation but settles on pulling up his soundcloud instead and decides to play the song he has been obsessed with. When Yoongi hears the familiar beat of the song he had recorded months ago he stiffens and snaps his head to Taehyung. The other is settled comfortably in his seat, head nestled against the head rest and eyes closed with a relaxed smile on his face.

 

Yoongi swallows and blushes a bit when Taehyung starts to sing along to his song. He doesn’t say anything though, too embarrassed to tell his friend that this was his. He stays quiet the rest of the drive, listening to Taehyung’s beautiful voice sing his own song to him.

 

 

When they reach the apartment and have parked, Yoongi looks over to see Taehyung fast asleep. “Taehyung?” Yoongi says. He reaches over and jostles his shoulder, “Taehyung-ah?”

 

Taehyung stirs awake and stares at Yoongi groggily. “Hmm?” His sleepy face makes Yoongi want to pinch his cheeks and coo. 

 

“If you’re tired, I can take you home,” he offers.

 

This wipes away the sleep from Taehyung’s eyes as he jolts forward, “NO!” His eyes are bugging out of his head when he grips Yoongi’s arm. “No, I’m fine, promise.”

 

Yoongi smiles and pulls the keys out of the ignition. “If you say so.”

 

The two head up the apartment stairs and Taehyung takes a moment to observe the building around him. It isn’t as fancy as Namjoon and Jin’s apartment, but the apartment is still nice. The hallway walls are painted a dark brown, the color of Yoongi’s favorite coffee. The trimming along the floors and ceilings are a stark white in contrast. When they approach his door, he punches in his code on the keypad and the door unlocks with a ‘click’. Taehyung isn’t surprised to see how simple Yoongi’s apartment is. The style is definitely modern, with a sleek wood table set in the middle of the living room and a leather couch behind it. There’s a large TV mounted on the wall but that’s about it for decorations. The walls are bare of any art and they aren’t any decorative pieces like there are in his dorm.

 

Yoongi shrugs off his jacket, and Taehyung can fully appreciate his outfit now that he can actually see it properly. His dress shirt is black (typical, a majority of his wardrobe is varying degrees of black) and he has a silver chain hanging around his delicate neck. The shirt is tucked into his slacks and when he turns around to hang his jacket on the hanger by the door Taehyung may or may not have eyed his cute bottom. (It’s not like he can’t appreciate a nice body!!! Even if they are his friends!! He’s not blind!! He can still appreciate the human form without wanting to bend them over and hump them all day!!)

 

When Yoongi turns back around he’s slowly unbuttoning his shirt as he walks down the hall to what Taehyung assumes is his bedroom. “I’ll be right back, I’m going to change,” he says over his shoulder.

 

Taehyung hums in acknowledgement and takes a seat on a chair in front of the kitchen’s breakfast counter. It’s like a high counter that looks over the kitchen. He hopes Yoongi feeds him, he’s starving. He shrugs off his jacket and throws it over the chair’s backside.

 

When Yoongi reappears again he’s dressed in an over-sized beige T-shirt with “FG” printed in black blocked letters. His slacks have been replaced by black sweatpants that cinch around his ankles. “Are you hungry? Cause I am. I have some leftover dinner I made yesterday if you want some.”

 

“Yes please!” Taehyung chimes.

 

Yoongi patters over to his kitchen and opens the fridge. He pulls out a couple of dishes and scoops a portion for himself and for his friend before placing the dishes in the microwave to heat up. “Did you want something to drink? I have soda, water, wine?”

 

“Ah, water is fine please.”

 

Yoongi grabs two bottles of water from the fridge shelf and passes one over the counter to Taehyung.  The two are quiet as they take sips of their waters, but its not an uncomfortable silence. It’s peaceful. Taehyung thinks back to Jimin’s performance and frowns. His therapist told him talking about his issues is good because it eases the stigma around what he considers sensitive topics. He trusts Yoongi enough at this point to be somewhat honest with him. His hyung is always attentive to him, and his nerves loosen knowing it's only him and Yoongi here. “Hey hyung?” Taehyung murmurs.

 

He fumbles with his hands and brushes the empty spot on his ring finger out of habit. Taehyung looks up at Yoongi who’s attention is completely on him. Taehyung gulps and takes one more sip of his water to hydrate the dryness in his throat. “Have you ever lied about something before? And not just to others…..but to yourself too?”

 

Yoongi’s forehead crinkles in confusion at the random question but understanding fills his eyes when he thinks back to Taehyung’s strong reaction to Jimin’s performance. “I have.”

 

The microwave beeps and Yoongi is pulled away from the conversation for a bit while he gets the food out and hands a plate over to Taehyung who accepts it with a hushed ‘thank you’. Yoongi settles for eating in the kitchen as he stands and leans an elbow on the lower counter. “When my mom died back in middle school, I convinced myself I didn’t need anyone else. I lost the most precious person in my life. I didn’t want to lose anyone else. ”

 

Taehyung freezes and his eyes widen. “Oh god, I’m so sorry hyung, I didn’t mean to bring up such a sad memory, I’m so sorry---” Taehyung panics as he flings his arms in the air, gesturing to Yoongi that they can drop the topic.

 

Yoongi shakes his head and finishes chewing his bite of food. “No, it’s okay. It was a long time ago.” He gives Taehyung a soft smile until the other visibly eases. “I didn’t have many friends growing up. As you know I’m not too much of a talker and I’ve never been one to approach people. All the friends I’ve made so far have been the ones to initiate any conversation. Well everyone except for you. You’re a special case.”

 

Yoongi shoots him a sly smirk and Taehyung’s heart flutters at the thought of being special to Yoongi. He pats his chest discreetly and plays it off like a cough, trying to appease the heart skipping in his chest.“That’s cause we were destined to be friends,” Taehyung says cheekily.

 

Yoongi chuckles, “I guess so.” His smile dulls as he resumes the conversation. “Following the death of my mom was a hard time for me. I got stuck with relatives who couldn’t give a single shit about me and my grades plummeted. I barely passed. It felt like I was stuck in a black hole, suffocating in darkness. The only star I had ever known was taken away from me, and I was left with no light.” Yoongi pauses to take a few more bites of his food. “I got depressed, which is common during grieving. But even as the pain of loss lessened, my energy levels dropped and didn’t return. I felt like a sloth. Moving, but also barely moving at all. It was eating away at me.”

 

 

Yoongi finishes eating and pushes his plate away from him. When he notices that Taehyung has finished too he grabs their plates and puts them in the sink. Taehyung wipes his lips with a napkin and responds. “I can relate to that. I mean, I’ve had a couple encounters with depression. Or maybe it never really left. Just stayed with me until it was ready to drag me under again.”

 

Yoongi starts washing the dishes and peeks up at Taehyung. “It sucks doesn’t it?”

 

Taehyung shoots him an understanding smile. “Definitely the worst. 10/10 would not recommend. Um, but what happened after that if you don't mind me asking?”

 

Yoongi finishes rinsing a dish and places it on a drying rack sitting to his right. “I'll tell you anything you want to know Taehyung-ah." Yoongi smiles. "I got help. It got really bad and I knew I couldn’t suffer like that forever. I was on the verge of suicide.”

 

Yoongi says it so matter of factly that it takes Taehyung by surprise. His jaw drops but he quickly shuts it. He might not have taken active steps to kill himself but the desire would hang in the back of his mind. It makes him sad that Yoongi had felt that way in one point of his life too.

 

“I was still in school and didn’t trust my extended family to feel comfortable going to them for help so I went to my school counselor. They helped me and set me up with a free therapist. Luckily I had a savings account my mom left for me so it covered my meds until I was old enough to get a part time job.”

 

“I know what that’s like.” Taehyung sighs and lays his cheek on his fist. His elbow is propped up on the counter. “I was on meds a couple of years ago but had to get off of them cause I didn’t have health insurance to cover it and it was too expensive.”

 

“That’s what’s shit about this country. They complain about how many young people are killing themselves and how the suicide rate is so high but they don’t do shit to change that. It’s still expensive to see a therapist or a psychologist and the pharmaceutical companies will do anything to keep charging out the ass. It’s complete bullshit,” Yoongi rants.

 

“Yeah, I still don’t have health insurance for that same reason but I get a discount through the school’s student pharmacy so I can actually afford it for now, especially since I’m getting paid a lot more working for the music department.”

 

Yoongi rinses out his sink and dries his hands on a towel. “That’s at least one decent thing the school offers,” He snorts. Yoongi grabs his water bottle and heads out the kitchen and throws himself onto the couch. Taehyung slides off the chair and trails after him. He sits a few inches away from Yoongi on the couch. “Are you doing better now though?” Yoongi has turned so his whole body is facing Taehyung and not the black screen of the tv.

 

“I am. Um, actually my ex and I broke up back in September. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.” Taehyung grimaces. “When I heard Jimin’s song, the memories I had with him came flooding back in my head. I was unhappy with him for a very long time, but I lied to myself and pretended I was. I just can’t believe I put up with it for so long when I deserved better.” Taehyung’s voice wells with anger and resentment.

 

Yoongi merely studies Taehyung, the sharpness of his jaw, the straight slope of his nose, and the blue strands of hair that wisp across his forehead. He wonders how someone so gorgeous both inside and out could suffer like he did. The world really was unfair. “What matters is that you’re free from him now, and you can find your own happiness,” Yoongi finally says.

 

Taehyung sighs, “Well I wish he didn’t leave me so fucked up inside.”

 

“Hey,” Yoongi says, “It’s hard right now but things will get better.”

 

“That’s what my therapist tells me,” Taehyung laughs. “But it’s hard to see that when I still feel so stuck in place.”

 

Yoongi empathizes. He had weaned off his medication years ago, no longer needing them, but he still had his gloomy days. “Healing takes time.” Yoongi nods to himself. “I’m lucky I found my passion for music because of my struggles. No one says it but music can be really therapeutic. It’s what motivated me to become a producer. I want to create music that brings the same sense of comfort that it brought to me during my hard times.”

 

Taehyung watches Yoongi’s eyes brighten as he explains his passion for music. It’s one of the things he admired most about him, his love for what he does. “I wasn’t much of a music listener before. I listened to some classical and pop here and there but I didn’t connect to any specifically. Actually, the song I played for you in the car is one of the first songs I could completely relate to. I had that song on repeat the whole summer and fall.”

 

“What did you like about it so much?” Yoongi asks cautiously, not wanting to reveal himself as SUGA yet. Aside from his friends who already knew of his alias, he has not met a fan of his music in real life yet. He was curious on what an honest opinion of his music is.

 

“The vibe the whole song had was cheerful, but the lyrics were sad. I can’t really explain it, but it felt like the song was talking to me, talking about me. The lyrics said everything I had been feeling for so long. It felt like the song was reassuring me that even though things end, its sometimes for the best.” Taehyung looks to Yoongi, eyes glistening and a heartbreaking smile on his face. “I wish I could thank the artist personally for how much his song helped me.”

 

Yoongi is breathless as he’s sucked into the depths of Taehyung’s dark brown eyes. This is his first-time hearing from someone personally how his music has helped them. It fills his soul with a pleasurable hum knowing he was able to help his friend through a hard time even if they hadn’t known each other yet. Yoongi flashes him the sweetest smile, and Taehyung wishes he could paint it on a canvas. “I’m sure he would be grateful that you gave his music a chance.”

 

Taehyung chimes a beautiful and hopeful laugh. “Maybe someday I'll get to meet him and tell him how I feel.”

 

“Yeah, maybe someday,” Yoongi whispers. "Taehyung-ah, if you ever need to talk, just know I'm here for you okay? Anytime you need me, I'll be here."

 

Taehyung nods. The two veer off onto lighter topics, sharing funny childhood stories. By the time Taehyung looks at the clock again, it's well past 1AM. Yoongi drives

 

Taehyung home later that night and drops him off at his dorm. He changes into his pajamas and dives onto the bed, springing up into the air from the impact. It’s so nice knowing he has a friend he can relate to and talk about these things with. It’s different when the other person knows exactly how you feel because they’ve gone through it too.

 

Taehyung falls asleep that night feeling light as a feather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung’s work shifts are pretty slow the rest of the week. Gee, who would’ve thought how empty the music building would be when most students have gone home for winter break (This is sarcasm). Taehyung spends his shifts browsing for cat videos on youtube and watching vine compilations. He even squeezes a few Netflix movies in (he annoyed Hoseok for his account information until the weakling gave in). When Taehyung returns to his dorm the evening before New Year’s Eve, he falls onto his bed. He’s so sick of this year. This year has been complete utter shit and he’s glad he’ll get to see the year die a slow and very painful death tomorrow night as the new year replaces it.

 

Just as he closes his eyes his phone buzzes on the nightstand next to his bed. He ignores it and decides to reply tomorrow but it keeps on buzzing. With a groan he lifts his head off the pillow and reaches over, blindly patting the table until he finds his phone. He pulls it down to his face and his eyes wince at the brightness of it in his dark room. It’s the group chat.

 

 

 

From Jiminie (9:22PM):

 

Okay guys, we’re meeting up at Namjoon and Jin’s for new year’s!!!!

 

 

From Jin-Hyung (9:23PM):

 

Jimin why are you inviting these mongrels over to our apartment. When did I agree to this.

 

 

 

From Hobi (9:25PM):

 

OOOO someone bring the alcohol! We wiped them clean the last time they had a party!!

 

 

 

From Jin-Hyung (9:26PM):

 

 

Once again, when. Did. I. Agree. To. This.

 

 

 

From Kookie (9:28PM):

 

 

Wait I thought we were meeting at-

 

 

 

From Jiminie (9:28PM):

 

Kookie I swear to god if you say what I think you’re going to ask-

 

 

 

From Namjoon-Hyung (9:30PM):

 

 

Wow you guys sent that at the same time

 

 

 

From Hobi (9:31PM):

 

 

That’s soulmate culture

 

 

 

From Tae(9:32PM):

 

Okay first of all, I’M jimin’s soulmate. Not Jungkook. Second of all, k I’m down

 

 

 

From Jin-Hyung (9:34PM):

 

 

Once again, I ask, WHEN DID I AGREE TO HOSTING A PARTY

 

 

 

From Smol-Hyung (9:34PM):

 

 

WILL YOU ALL SHUT THE FUCK UP I’M TRYING TO SLEEP

 

 

 

From Namjoon-Hyung (9:37PM):

 

 

Well that settles it, see you guys tomorrow at 6pm sharp

 

 

 

 

From Jin-Hyung (9:37PM):

 

 

JOON I DIDN’T AGREE TO THIS

 

 

 

From Jiminie (9:38PM):

 

 

Night everyone!

 

 

 

From Tae (9:39PM):

 

Night!

 

 

From Hobi (9:39PM):

 

 

Night

 

 

 

From Kookie (9:40PM):

 

Nighty-night!

 

 

 

From Namjoon-Hyung (9:41PM):

 

 

Goodnight

 

 

 

From Jin-hyung (9:42PM):

 

 

I still haven’t agreed to this!

 

 

 

From Smol-hyung (9:43PM):

 

 

GOOD FUCKING NIGHT NOW SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Wait why am I blindfolded?” Taehyung has a blue silk scarf tied around his eyes and a firm grip is leading him outside. He hadn’t expected to be jumped by Hoseok as soon as he entered Jin and Namjoon’s apartment. He tried to escape but Jungkook tackled him to the ground and sat on him. Now he was being led blindly to god knows where.

 

“You talk too much,” Hoseok complains. “You’ll see when we get there!”

 

The secret location must not be too far considering they’re walking there by foot. “Where are all the others though?”

 

“They’re meeting us there, chill Tae. We’re almost there,” he hears Jungkook say from somewhere on his left.

 

Taehyung’s quiet the rest of the walk. With his eyesight stolen from him he has become hyperaware of his surroundings thanks to his other senses. He hears cars honking on the street beside them, the chattering of people walking up and down the sidewalk, and he can smell the tang of Chinese food as they pass by a restaurant. His mouth waters and he has to swallow to get rid of the excess saliva pooling under his tongue. He hears his stomach rumbling, awoken by the prospect of food. “Are we going to a restaurant? I’m starving, I haven’t eaten all day cause I was saving myself for one of Jin’s holiday meals.” Taehyung whimpers when his stomach protests its emptiness.

 

“Yeah, there'll be food, don’t worry.” Hoseok has a teasing lilt under his words.

 

Taehyung doesn’t have a good feeling about this.

 

He hears the jingle of a bell and the temperature change from frigid to warm, so he assumes they have entered some sort of shop or building.

 

“Okay you’re going to sit your butt down right here and wait patiently okay Tae?” Hoseok says as he guides Taehyung to a stool.

 

Taehyung has to feel around for the seat, but slides onto it easily. He hears the two boys shuffle away and mumble in hushed tones, as if they were exchanging top secret information. Taehyung tilts his head to try to pick up any other familiar voices but pouts when he doesn’t. He lifts his hands in front of him to see if he can feel around for any clues. The tips of his fingers brush wood and he halts. He trails his fingers down the wooden frame and wraps his hand around it, sliding his hand up and down to get an idea of what he could be touching. They are thin but sturdy, and he concludes that they must be legs. He follows the wooden legs all the way up until a rough fabric scrapes his hand. His brows jump in surprise. The fabric feels familiar though. His whole hand smooths over the object and a smile grows on his face when he realizes what it is: it’s a canvas sitting on an easel.

 

His arms extend out to his sides and one of them hit a table perched right next to the easel. He hovers over it and bumps into a cup filled with brushes. He grabs one and fiddles with the hair on it, excitement thrumming in his body to be surrounded by art supplies again. He reaches back over to return the brush to its holder and accidentally knocks over a cup of water. “Fuck!”

 

Jungkook snaps his head over and sighs before rushing over with paper towels. “Didn’t we tell you to sit and wait? Can’t you be a little patient?”

 

Taehyung mumbles out an apology and Hoseok grabs the cup and turns to the sink to refill it. It’s then that the door opens with a jingle of a bell, and three familiar voices enter.

 

“Woah, this place is pretty neat,” Namjoon says.

 

“Right? I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of this. Yoongi-hyung’s only known Tae for like, three months yet he’s the one who came up with this idea.” Jimin smirks knowingly.

 

Namjoon turns from Jimin to Yoongi, an amused expression on his face. "Is that so hyung? YOU’RE the one who came up with this idea?”

 

Yoongi cheeks take on a pink tint, but it’s almost unnoticeable to the trained eye. Key word: almost. Jimin winks and Yoongi scoffs and turns his head away. “I only pitched a location, it’s Jin that did the rest of the work.”

 

“Oi! You guys made it! Did you bring the food?” Jungkook hops over and throws himself into Namjoon, giving him a bone-crushing hug. Namjoon chuckles and pats his head, lifting a bag full of soda and alcohol with his other hand.

 

“I have the drinks.”

 

Jimin twirls. “I already placed the order for delivery so it should be here soon!” Jimin scampers over to Taehyung and pulls his shoulders into a hug. “Happy birthday Tae! We hope you love your gift!”

 

Taehyung scrunches his nose in confusion until it hits him. Wait, it is New Year’s Eve, which means its also his birthday. Who the hell forgets their own birthday!? God, he’s been so eager for this year to be over that he glossed over that tiny detail. That explains why he’s blindfolded and in what he assumes to be an art studio. They’re throwing him a birthday party.

 

Taehyung feels love and adoration explode out of his heart and he slips off his blindfold, not wanting to wait anymore. Hoseok notices and is about to yell at him but stops at the look that overcomes Taehyung’s features. His eyes are wide and glassy, filled with shining stars, and his bottom lip trembles slightly. He takes in the whole studio, the yellow birch cabinets that line one side of the room--providing space for storage and a sink to wash brushes, the purple party streamers hanging down from the ceiling and purple balloons floating around the room---his favorite color, the stools positioned in a circle around the room with easels of their own standing in front of them, the sound of classical music playing in the background, the table perched by the opposite wall that’s filled with an array of sodas and sweets, and lastly at the look of fondness on his friends’ faces who in turn give him the brightest smile before screaming ‘Happy Birthday Taehyung!’.

 

Taehyung wipes at his eyes and sniffles, not wanting to cry when he’s so full of joy and happiness. His friends waddle over and suffocate him in a group hug, and his deep laugh rumbles in his chest. “Thank you, this is the best present I’ve ever had. I’ve been itching to paint for so long.”

 

“We know,” Yoongi says abashedly, a shy smile playing on his lips.

 

Taehyung feels his heart skip a beat when his eyes connect with those dark glimmering ones. Taehyung pauses when he silently counts the number of people in the room. “Wait, where’s Jin-hyung?”

 

That is when Jin’s voice floats into the room. “Okay guys, get in your places, it’s time!”

 

Taehyung questionably glances at Yoongi, but the elder only shrugs, not knowing what Jin was doing. The rest of the group finds their way to their chosen stool, Jimin and Jungkook choosing the seats on either side of Taehyung. Namjoon sits on the other side of Kookie, and Hoseok sits next to Jimin. Yoongi sits at the stool across from Taehyung, and he frowns cause the canvas blocks him from seeing Yoongi’s face.  Taehyung looks around him again and asks out loud, “Why isn’t there an easel for Jin-hyung?”

 

Jin-hyung’s voice booms over the music, “Because I’m the model you’ll be drawing today.” Jin walks in with a blanket wrapped around him, strutting into the middle of the circle. He has light makeup on, and Taehyung’s gasps at how gorgeous he looks.

 

“Hyung, you look amazing.”

 

The rest of the group throws their compliments and Jin soaks it up. He flutters his eyelashes, “It’s not just my face you’ll be drawing today though.”

 

That’s when he hears Namjoon groan, “Oh my god Jin, you didn't---”.

 

At that precise moment, the model drops his blanket which falls into a heap around his feet. He takes a step onto the center platform to raise him higher above the easels. The room is pin-drop silent as they process what’s in front of them. The silence is broken by shrieking hyenas as Hoseok and Jungkook fall off their stools and onto the floors, rolling around as tears start to stream down their faces.

 

Namjoon leans over his knees and drops his head in his hands with a loud groan. “Jin, oh my god, I thought you were joking.”

 

Jimin is clapping his hands next to Taehyung excitedly, his giggles bubbling up his throat. Yoongi leans to his side to catch Taehyung’s eye, who makes eye contact with him through the gap between Jin’s long legs. He mouths the words ‘this is your fault’ and he tries to stay serious, but his expression cracks and he smirks as he shakes his head in mock disapproval. When Taehyung had mentioned in passing to Namjoon and Jin that he wanted to paint a nude portrait, he was only joking. He hadn’t anticipated that they would take it seriously. But here Jin was, in all of his naked glory, nothing but a loin cloth dangling between his legs. It takes Taehyung a full sixty seconds to respond, but when he finally does, it sends all his friends into another fit of crying laughter. Taehyung had reached for the blindfold he had originally thrown onto the floor, and he wrapped it back around his eyes, securing it in place with a tight knot. Jin’s hysterically laughing with them too, his high-pitched squeaky snickers only making everyone laugh even harder.

 

By the time they’ve all recovered, wiping the tears streaming down their faces, the door chimes open and a delivery man holding 4 boxes of pizzas steps in. Jimin hops off his seat and skips over, handing him the cash and taking the pizzas from the man, quickly trying to push him out the door. The delivery man’s face had been frozen in disbelief. His face only broke though the shock once Jin winked at him and he high-tailed it out of the studio.

 

The rest of the evening is spent drinking and painting while mocking each other’s drawing attempts of Jin. The best painting by far is Jungkook’s, whose portrayal was alarmingly well done. He could easily be an art major if he wanted to. Jimin’s attempt was poor, his proportions way off that gave Jin a tiny head. Hoseok’s wasn’t much better, except it was opposite: a large balloon-like head and a tiny body.

 

Namjoon was the only one who didn’t bother painting Jin but a gorgeous forest scenery instead. Yoongi merely painted a stick figure and claimed he was done. Taehyung’s was the second best, right after Jungkook. He tried his best to capture Jin in a realistic way, but his art somehow turned abstract. Jin’s features were blocky and in different colors. He was pleased with it though.

 

Everyone set their paintings to dry in the back corner and they blared up the music and turned the studio into a real party. They dimmed the lights and basked in each other’s funny stories as they recalled funny memories they had with Taehyung. Taehyung could only sip on his drink with a fierce blush rising in his cheeks and at the tip of his ears. Hearing stories from his friends made him more aware of how embarrassing he acted half the time. He peeked over his cup at Yoongi, whose eyes were squinted in a gummy laugh as he joked around with Hoseok. He can’t explain the uncomfortable simmering in his belly when he saw Hoseok wrap an arm around Yoongi and pulled him closer to whisper in his ear. Taehyung’s eyebrow ticked so he glanced elsewhere when he noticed the time on the clock. “Guys, we only have 15 minutes until midnight!” he yells at the top of his lungs.

 

His friends all scramble as they rush to clean up their mess as fast as possible, collecting the balloons and the empty pizza boxes before scurrying to the dumpster in the back of the studio. Jimin and Taehyung tag team putting everything back where it should be. It takes them only ten minutes to return the studio to spotlessness. The friends trail out the door with their paintings in their hands and wander as a slightly drunken mob a couple blocks away to a park where they know they’ll have a decent view of the fireworks.

 

They find an empty patch of grass among the already crowded park, others on blankets and pillows to watch comfortably. Their group throws themselves on the grass, huddling together to keep warm amongst frigid temperatures. Taehyung can see his breath as he exhales, and his nose is red from the freezing air nipping at its tip. When the park’s crowd starts to chant the countdown, Taehyung’s body buzzes with anticipation. With five seconds left till midnight, he scans the faces of his close friends. He looks over at Namjoon and Jungkook, who are snuggled into each other’s arms. Jimin and Hoseok are much the same, and Taehyung has to remind himself to question the two later regarding their closer than normal skin ship.

 

With three seconds left until the New Year, Taehyung feels an arm wrap under his armpit that forcefully tugs him against a broad chest. It freaks him out until he looks over and sees Yoongi being tugged just the same.The two look behind them at Jin, who graces them with a warm smile. Taehyung grins back and is about to face forward but steals a peek at Yoongi from under his eyelashes. There’s two seconds left when their eyes meet, and it feels like time stops.

 

Yoongi’s giving him the cutest smile, his dumpling cheeks puffed out and his eyes are crinkled at the corners as he mouths, ‘happy birthday Taehyung-ah’. He hears everyone scream “one!” and then burst into celebratory cheers as fireworks erupt into the sky. Taehyung doesn’t bother looking at the fireworks, too mesmerized by the adoration on Yoongi’s face, even when he turns away to look at the night sky.

 

Taehyung can’t pull his attention away from the bright bursts of colorful lights reflected in Yoongi’s dark eyes. The piercing shots of fireworks and ‘ooo’s and ahh’s’ that normally overwhelm his ears fall deaf to him. The only sound he’s aware of is the thunderous beat of his own pounding heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your trauma has left a significant scar in your heart. What you went through was abuse, and by the stories you told me, some of those moments could be classified as rape.

 

Taehyung cannot explain the shame that overcame him when those words flew out of his therapist’s mouth. 

 

The shame you feel is because you find yourself responsible for getting yourself into that situation, like it was your fault for becoming that vulnerable in the first place. It’s victim blaming at it’s finest. I’ve seen this so many times from rape survivors, and those who’ve suffered abuse. The shame they feel is like a chain choking their neck. It prevents them from discussing the matter, and keeping it buried inside only fuels the shame even more. The only way to overcome these feelings is not to withhold them, but to release them. Talk about it, write about it---let your voice be heard. You’ve been silenced for too long.

 

Taehyung has talked about it, told Jin and Namjoon the day of his breakdown. He didn’t go into details though, and maybe that’s what he has to do. He tears out a piece of ruled notebook paper, and writes out Bogum’s name. It’s a mock letter, never intended to be sent (not like he has an address to mail it to anyways), but purely as a means of liberation. He writes and writes until his hand is cramping.

 

Taehyung pours his heart into the letter, getting as graphic as possible, searing every terrible memory onto that crisp white paper. One page becomes two, two becomes three, and suddenly he’s left with a fourteen-page paper filled front and back, tainted with gray lead smudges from the drag of his hand. What began as a white piece of innocent paper has corroded into a scribbled mess of misery and pain.

 

How fitting.

 

Taehyung reads it over, tears collecting in his eyes. He folds the pages in half and stuffs them in the very back of his desk drawer, wanting them out of sight completely.

 

“It takes time to discover yourself. There isn’t a wrong or right answer. Only you can dictate how you feel or how you choose to identify yourself as. If you think you’re ace, you can choose to identify yourself as such. If you find out later on that you aren’t, that’s okay too. But there’s nothing wrong with you. You are not broken, you do not need to be ‘fixed’. What needs to be addressed is society’s outlook on sex, because almost everything out there is over-sexualized. Do not feel bad for thinking this way about yourself because it’s not your fault. I hope over the next sessions we can shift your mindset.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung sighs, slouching further onto the table. He should be studying for a quiz he has this week. He’s currently barricaded himself within the inner depths of the campus library. Standing at a whole four floors, it’s massive, big enough to lose yourself in the maze of bookshelves and computers hidden in various sections across all floors. If it weren’t for all the books laid out in front of him, he would have texted his friends to get them to play the ultimate game of hide and seek, but alas, they’ve been just as busy since the new semester started two weeks ago.

 

He tries hard to concentrate on his work, re-reading the text when he wakes from his wandering thoughts. When he re-reads the same line for the 10th time he slams the book shut with an aggravated huff. How the hell is he supposed to figure out who he is? He sighs and slumps against the chair, sliding down until his chin hits his chest, feet spread out in a wide ‘v’ under the table. Taehyung thinks back to his past crushes, starting with middle school. He did have that insanely long crush on that one boy, but he never wanted to date him. When his friends teased him about refusing to admit he found his crush ‘hot’, he had to defend himself about why  he couldn’t use that term.

 

It’s odd, but back then he felt like ‘hot’ was too inappropriate, too sexual. Hot is what you would describe a steamy make-out scene on tv, or when the lead character said something provocative. He didn’t feel comfortable calling his crush ‘hot’ because his admiration was innocent. He appreciated the boy for never bullying him at that age, and for being kind to him. He couldn’t tag such a dirty word to a pure-hearted individual. He couldn’t see anyone in a sexual way now that he really thinks about it. Even when he reached high school, his crushes elicited no burning desire in his gut.

 

He remembers when Jimin first got his boyfriend and they had sex. He questioned him, curious about how their first time went. Jimin was excited about losing his virginity. He remembers specifically getting into a small argument with him over the importance of sex in a relationship. Jimin had argued that sexual compatibility was important, and Taehyung had said it wouldn’t matter if the couple truly loved each other. He smiles to himself bitterly. Guess Jimin was right on that one. It wasn’t until the hormones hit him that he started fantasizing about sex, but it was more out of curiosity than actual desire. What would it feel like to have a tongue licking the heat of your mouth? What was it like to grind down on a swollen member, gasping in between heated kisses? What did it feel like to have hands caress every inch of skin? And what did penetration feel like?

 

He saw it like an experiment, what his body’s reactions would be to the stimulus, as if he were a scientist participating in his own case study. His peers and the internet gushed about magical ‘first times’ and the romance books he read made it seem more amazing than it actually was. The whole ordeal was completely awkward, and he cried from the pain. The stretch was uncomfortable, and he had no idea how people could enjoy it, well aside from the ones doing the penetrating.

 

Bogum had came the first time they had sex. Taehyung was left naked and confused from the lack luster of it all. And from then on, regardless of the countless positions they tried and toys they attempted to spice up their bedroom escapades, he deemed the experiment a bust.

 

Taehyung mindlessly chews on his pen as he stares blankly at the half-filled notebook in front of him. He groans and thumps his head on the table, cheek smushed against it. He had chosen a table on the first floor by a window, wanting to feel the sunlight stream in through the glass. He gnaws at the pen until it’s deformed, teeth bending the plastic in odd angles, permanently disfiguring it. His eyes follow each student that passes by his window. He studies them intently, raking his eyes up and down their silhouettes, analyzing their features and deeming whether he found them attractive or not. But was this attraction inherently sexual?

 

His eyes locked onto a gorgeous woman, tall and athletic, her long hair swished against her perky rear in those tight leggings that hug the globes of her ass. Taehyung tries to imagine himself being with that woman, tracing his name in between her legs with his slick tongue. He internally cringes and has to shake his head to will the thoughts out. With a frown, he continues to gaze at the mass of students speed-walking past the library, some frantic in their haste to get to their class, and others in a dazed stupor as they drag their unwilling bodies across campus.

 

Taehyung’s eyes catch on a familiar face, and he has to think for a second on where he recognizes him from. It isn’t until the man turns around the corner and disappears from sight does it hit him. It’s Choi Minho, from his jazz ensemble course. He tries to will a decent image of him in his mind, outlining all the delicate features of his face. He doesn’t need to try too hard though, because Minho ends up entering the library and notices him sitting in the corner. He walks over and places a hand on Taehyung’s shoulder, who startles and shies away from the contact. Minho doesn’t play close attention to his odd reaction. Instead, he asks if he can sit with him and Taehyung nods dumbly in agreement.

 

Taehyung trails his eyes up Minho’s body and he blushes when Minho raises an eyebrow at him in question. Taehyung clears his throat, “F-funny running into you here.”

 

Minho’s laugh is deep as the dark chocolate he wants to indulge himself with during valentine’s day. It sends a shiver up Taehyung’s spine, but he doesn’t welcome the sensation. The hair on his neck stands on end. Objectively speaking, he considers Minho to be extremely attractive, what with his light brown hair trimmed evenly across his forehead, just shy of touching his brow bone, and the long straight nose that leads up to his expressively wide eyes. Taehyung tries to imagine being with this person, to have his hand work slowly up his thigh. He considers it. Maybe he’ll know for sure if he tries it with someone else.

 

“Hey, I know we haven’t talked much in class, but I was wondering if you wanted to get coffee sometime? Maybe even study for the quiz on Thursday together?” Minho hits him with an innocent smile, no darker intentions swirling in the depths of his coal-black eyes.

 

Taehyung weighs the option in his head. It couldn’t hurt right? Maybe he can settle his inner conflict once and for all. Maybe this will tell him what he needs to know. With a hesitant smile, he agrees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung can’t honestly say how they got to this point, but he’s standing in the middle of Minho’s living room as he presses his wet lips down Taehyung’s throat. They met up for coffee earlier, debating over what’ll be on the quiz and somehow that delved deeper into their personal lives, exchanging funny stories and similar interests they shared. Taehyung enjoyed the company. Aside from his group of close friends, he hadn’t mingled with any other students in his classes last semester. He was far too lost navigating the treacherous seas of his mind to worry about socializing.  

 

When Minho starts to suck on his skin, Taehyung knows he can’t do this after all. He gently pushes against Minho’s chest, who pulls away with a string of saliva connecting his lips to the new bruise blossoming on his collarbone. “Um, sorry, I can’t do this.”

 

Minho takes a step back raising his hands in front of his chest in a surrender. “It’s okay, we can take this slow if you want.”

 

Taehyung wipes at the wetness left on his neck, a grimace on his lips at the feeling of someone else’s slobber on his skin. Gross. He can’t do it imagining the smell of sex in the air, or the body fluid that collects on their bodies in small beads of sweat. How can people like it? And why can't he?

 

"I’m asexual,” he blurts. Taehyung freezes and smacks his hand over his mouth. He hadn’t meant to say that. He hasn’t even officially admitted it to himself yet, still unsure of his stance on sexual attraction. But as he stares at Minho, who he most certainly finds physically attractive, the words don’t feel so wrong on his tongue. They feel right.

 

Minho doesn’t look shocked at all, just shrugs. “That’s fine with me. I don’t care. You dont't mind having it though do you?” Minho flashes him his teeth, lips contouring into a grin. “We can take things slow, work our way up to sex.”

 

The smile that graced Taehyung’s lips at Minho’s nonchalant reaction fall slightly at the prospect of him wanting to have sex eventually. Maybe it’s not his sexuality at all that he has a problem with; it’s his lack of desire for sex in general. It’s like everyone around him has a mosquito bite, an itch that they feel they need to scratch however often they feel the urge come around. But Taehyung rarely has that itch, if at all. He might not even have the mosquito bite in the first place.

 

Taehyung shifts from one foot to the other, choosing to stare anywhere but at Minho. “What if I don’t ever want to have sex?”

 

The silence in the room is deafening. Taehyung closes his eyes because he knows what he’s about to hear. “Then this won’t work out.”

 

Taehyung musters some courage and straightens his back, shifting his gaze to look Minho square in the eye. His eyes are full of pity, as if Taehyung is missing out on something important or something necessary to live. Taehyung grabs his stuff to leave, and Minho offers him a ride home. Apparently it’s pouring out. He hadn’t noticed. He declines the offer; tells him he has an umbrella and that his walk isn’t far. He’s lying. It’ll take twenty-fives minutes to reach his dorm by foot and he doesn’t have an umbrella at all. If Minho catches his lie, he doesn’t comment on it.

 

“We can still be friends though right?”

 

Taehyung gives Minho one last glance. His look of pity has morphs into disappointment. As if Taehyung wasn’t worth the time of day as a partner if he wasn’t willing to give his body up then mere friendship is all he deserves. He hadn’t seen Minho as a candidate for a potential relationship, but the rejection stings nonetheless.  "Yeah, friends.” And with that, Taehyung swiftly disappears into the downpour of rain.

 

The rain hits him like tiny shards of icicles, penetrating the last line of defense that is the thickness of his sweater against the harsh winds. He doesn’t know where his feet are taking him, too lost in his thoughts. Is he not worth anyone’s time if he’s unwilling to give out his body like some form of trade in exchange for love?

 

As if his sound mind that lets him pour creativity into his work and his kind heart that holds affection for those he cares for are mere worthless qualities that could not possibly be valued when compared to the touch of flesh. Taehyung shrinks further into the depths of his jacket, the melting ice seeping through his trench coat. His body shivers in protest, desperately attempting to conjure up warmth to keep him from freezing to death, but he trudges on stubbornly. When he reaches the building and looks up, frozen pebbles of rain pelting his face aggressively, he cackles to himself that his first instinct was to come here.

 

He’s standing in front of Yoongi’s apartment.

 

It’s been weeks since he’s visited, the beginnings of the new semester tearing the group of friends apart to focus on their individual studies. Though they haven’t basked in each other’s presence, their group chat is full of terrible memes they exchange in attempts to annoy each other. Him and Yoongi had met up briefly following their New Year’s Eve excursion at a coffee shop, sipping on bitter coffee and sharing a piece of coffee cake that was much too rich despite his sweet tooth. Yoongi didn’t take more than a bite before he pushed the cake towards Taehyung, face scrunched up in distaste and complaining that he’d lose all his teeth by the time they finished the dessert.

 

Taehyung sighs and slowly drags himself up the stairs at a snail’s pace, the rain soaked completely through all layers of fabric. He shudders at the wetness that sticks to his skin, sending goosebumps across his body. He reaches Yoongi’s door and knocks tentatively. After a few minutes he concedes that Yoongi is most likely at work, though this doesn’t deter him from planting his wet bottom on the cold concrete floor just outside his door. He lays his head against the wall and closes his eyes, his breath escaping his lips in a puff of white smoke.

 

Will he ever meet someone who wants his heart and soul without the promise of his body too? Do people like that exist? Or is he the only one?

 

 

 


 

 

 

The last person Yoongi was expecting to see when he got home from work was Taehyung drenched in water, sitting right outside his door. His first instinct was to reprimand the boy for not bringing an umbrella and interrogate his reasons for waiting in the freezing cold as wet as can be, but the moment he caught a glimpse of his trembling blue lips he frantically punched his code in and wrenched the door open, shoving Taehyung’s frozen body inside. “Dammit Taehyung, why would you wait outside my door like that? Why didn’t you text me if you wanted to cover over, I could have picked you up on my way home.”

 

Taehyung sniffles at the snot leaking out of his nose, “I-I-It’s f-fine. W-w-wasn’t w-waiting l-long anyways.”

 

Yoongi cuts him a grimace, “That’s not what your pale face and blue lips are telling me, jesus, you could’ve gotten hypothermia or some shit!” Yoongi rushes into his bathroom and pulls out three clean towels and shoves them into Taehyung’s arms, leading the younger back to his bathroom. “Hurry up and take your clothes off, I’ll let you borrow some of mine.” Yoongi shuffles into his bedroom, throwing off his shoes haphazardly across the room and digging through his closet to find clothes that might fit the boy. He’s taller than Yoongi, so he’ll need something extra over-sized for it to fit. When he finds a pair of black sweats and a long sleeve black T-shirt he holds them to his chest and pulls off the two heavy blankets he has piled on his bed. He waddles to the bathroom, adjusting the pile of clothes onto one hand and knocking on the door with the other. Taehyung opens the door a crack and Yoongi turns his head away to give the boy privacy as he hands him the bundle of clothes. Taehyung whispers a cracked “thank you” and closes the door.

 

Yoongi throws the blankets onto his couch and meanders into his kitchen, adding a pot of water on the stove to boil for tea. By the time he has two bags of tea steeping in hot water, Taehyung (now fully dressed in dry clothes, his dry clothes might he add) has wandered into the living room. The color is slowly returning to his skin, the golden wash of honey painting his skin a gorgeous tan. The clothes fit him perfectly and Yoongi can’t help but feel a bubble of affection rise in his stomach. Yoongi tells him to sit on the couch and bury himself in the blankets he brought out for him as he grabs the two mugs of hot tea and carefully walks over to him.

 

Yoongi hands him a cup and walks around the couch to sit on the other side. A comfortable silence sits heavy between them, both taking sips of their tea until they’ve drank it all. Yoongi grabs Taehyung’s mug and whisks them away to the kitchen sink to wash. When he returns Taehyung is bundled up in his blankets, only a puff of faded blue hair that has dulled to a pale green sticking out. “Why were you soaking wet?” Yoongi dares to ask, suspicious at Taehyung’s concerning appearance when he arrived home.

 

“Just got a little wet is all,” he mumbles.

 

“Taehyung, you were literally soaked to the bone and you were shivering like crazy. Your lips were practically blue!” Yoongi growls, irritated at Taehyung’s lack of genuine concern for his well-being.

 

Taehyung flinches at the tone and Yoongi sighs to calm his frustration. “Why were you waiting out there? Did something happen?”

 

Taehyung nestles further into the depths of his cocoon, letting the distinct, woodsy smell of Yoongi relax him. “I met up with a classmate,” he says.

 

Yoongi stares at him patiently, waiting for the rest of what he’s about to say.

 

“We’ve talked a few times in class, and we ended up over at his place.” There’s a sharp intake of breath and Taehyung looks over at Yoongi shyly. Yoongi is biting his lip, and his fists are curled tightly on his lap. He doesn’t understand why it looks like Yoongi was punched in the gut. Taehyung pulls the blankets tighter around him. “Nothing happened between us, and I don’t know why I bothered going over there. I wasn’t interested in him in that way.” Taehyung’s lying. He knows exactly why he went over, but he doesn’t want to say it, at least not now, not in front of Yoongi. “He rejected me hyung, and it shouldn’t bother me but it does. Why does it hurt for someone not to want me?” his voice cracks and Taehyung begins to whimper, curling into himself.

 

Yoongi’s heart aches at seeing the sweet boy who’s become so important to him cry over feeling unwanted, feeling like he’s not good enough, when Yoongi would do anything in the world to prove him otherwise. He reaches a hand-out and tentively hovers over Taehyung’s knee. He knows how jumpy Taehyung is with unexpected physical contact, so he makes sure to ask him permission before touching him. Taehyung nods and wipes at his teary eyes in embarrassment. Yoongi wraps his arms around him and huddles him closely, petting at his hair as Taehyung finds the crook of his neck to hide into. “Shhh, it’s okay.”

 

“Why doesn’t anyone want me hyung? Why am I not good enough being the way I am? Why do people expect more than I can give them?”

 

Yoongi’s heart breaks further at the pain threaded in those words, perhaps a glimpse into Taehyung’s past relationship. Yoongi clutches the boy tighter. “Don’t say that Taehyung, you’re more than good enough for anyone. You deserve all the happiness in the world, and if someone doesn’t want to give you that then they aren’t shit anyways. Actually, they are shit, a pile of disgusting fecal matter emptied from the bowels of the world’s ugliest creature. Not even dung beetles would want them.”

 

Taehyung’s airy laugh tickles Yoongi’s throat, and he doesn’t cringe at the feeling of tears and snot he knows is rubbing against his neck. Yoongi continues to comfort Taehyung, rubbing his back affectionately, trying to convey all the wonderful traits he sees in Taehyung through the caress of his palm. “Taehyung-ah, you’re one of the kindest people I know. You bend over and backwards for people, and you go out of your way to make them smile. Your heart is pure gold, and I think most people in the world are unworthy of that treasure.”

 

Taehyung giggles and pulls away from Yoongi to sit back down on the couch, wiping away any remnants of tears and snot from Yoongi's neck with the sleeve of his shirt. “Thanks hyung, you always know how to make me feel better.” Taehyung’s nose is raw and an angry red, while his eyes are puffy around the edges. His cheeks are flushed, a lovely pink against his honey-like skin. Yoongi can’t help but want to hold him in his embrace again, to feel his heart beating in unison with his.

 

“Are you hungry? I already ate but I can cook you something.”

 

“No, I’m okay hyung, thank you.” 

 

“Want to watch tv? I was going to start a new show, but I might need some help deciding.” He grins at Taehyung, knowing he’ll take the bait. Just like he thought, excitement bursts from Taehyung as he babbles on about this new show he’s been dying to watch. He grabs the remote Yoongi offers him and clicks away until he finds what he’s looking for. Yoongi’s smile falters at the choice, a horror series. With one glance at Taehyung’s smiling face, he gives in completely.

 

The rest of their night consists of cowering behind the blankets at the jump scares and gradually scooting closer. By the time the 5th episode ends, the two are cuddled together, blankets curled around them, fingers intertwined and heads resting against each other as gentle breathing fills the room.

 

 

 


 

 

 

When Taehyung wakes up, he feels lightheaded. His nose is stuffed, his throat is raw, and he’s burning up. He whines into his pillow. His eyes are slow to open, delirious by the effects of the rise of his temperature, his body boiling itself in attempt to kill off the sickness roaming throughout his body. He’s surrounded by a warm and comforting aroma, like the smell of woodsy earth kindling an open fire. He buries his nose into the smell and takes deep breaths. He lets the scent envelop him in its embrace, burrowing himself further into the bed. He cracks an eye open again, the bright sunlight filtering through the tiny crack in between dark black out curtains.

 

Taehyung glances around the room in confusion before panic rises in his throat and he gasps. He feels around his chest, making sure his clothes are still on. Has he been kidnapped? Where is he? Why is he in bed? Who’s bed is he in? Is he going to die? Oh my god he’s going to be murdered like in those documentaries on netflix. He’s going to be strangled, or worse--stabbed. He clenches his eyes shut and hopes to god he gets shot by a gun instead. A clean hit right through his head. Instant, painless death.

 

His inner monologue of panic is silenced by the bedroom door opening, a dark head of hair popping in from behind the door. “Oh, you’re awake,” says a gravelly voice.

 

The door creaks open and Taehyung slumps in relief when Yoongi walks into the room. Wait, how did I get into Yoongi’s room?

 

“You showed up at my door last night like a lost puppy, wet and freezing. Don’t you remember?” Yoongi answers the obvious question on Taehyung’s face, who flops his head to the side as he struggles to remember the events of last night. He blushes when the memories come back in a flurry, particularly focusing on how close they were bundled up together on the couch when they fell asleep. “I moved you to my bed, but don’t worry, I slept on the couch.”

 

“Oh you didn’t have to do that hyung, I could have slept on the couch. This is your apartment after all.”

 

“What kind of monster would I be to let a sick puppy sleep on my old raggedy couch?” Yoongi smirks at the whine Taehyung releases. “See? A cute sick puppy.”

 

Taehyung feels the burn in his face but he thinks it has to be the fever. What else would it be?

 

Yoongi chuckles and holds a tray in his hand. Taehyung sniffs at the air, drool pooling in his mouth. “I brought you soup,” he says. Yoongi lays the tray on the bedside table and hands Taehyung a water bottle along with two pills. “Here, for your fever.”

 

Taehyung flings the pills onto his tongue and washes them down with water. He wipes at his lips and gives Yoongi a nod of appreciation.

 

“’l’ll be in the living room if you need me,” Yoongi begins to walk backwards to turn but is halted by the strong tug on the back of his shirt. He peers over his shoulder at Taehyung who’s leaned over on his knees, a few inches from falling over the edge of the bed completely. His hair is tousled into a messy nest and his bottom lip is in a glossy pout. The long sleeve shirt has a wide neckline that’s barely hanging onto his shoulder, his sharp collarbones poking out.

 

His eyes are wide and pleading as he whispers, “Please don’t leave me alone.”

 

Yoongi has to agonizingly will himself not to scoop the boy in his arms and serenade his skin with a melody of sweet kisses. Instead he nods stiffly and mechanically walks to the side of the bed and rests himself gently on top of the comforter. Taehyung nudges his arm with the tip of his nose and wiggles himself under Yoongi’s arm. He grabs the blanket and encases them with it, making sure it’s covering them both from the shoulders down. Taehyung sighs and lets the ache in muscles relax completely. He mumbles as he snuggles his head onto Yoongi’s shoulder. “Sorry”, he slurs, “I get clingy when I’m sick.”

 

His breathing eventually evens out and only then does Yoongi dare to reply. “I don’t mind. I don’t mind it at all,” he whispers gently, brushing his lips across Taehyung’s forehead as he settles into his pillow.

 

The two doze off again in their den of safety and comfort, like two puzzle pieces whose jagged edges fit just right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February comes and goes in a blur. Amidst all the tests and quizzes lining up in all his classes, Taehyung manages to do extremely well. Burying his nose in the books did him some good after all.

 

Valentines Day was an occasion Taehyung had been dreading, but he spends it with Jin, the two raiding the supermarkets the day after to get their hands on as much discounted chocolate as their grubby hands could hold. Namjoon and Yoongi had walked in that day to the two plastered on the ground like starfish, a sea of wrappers shining under the yellow fluorescent lights of Jin and Namjoon’s apartment. The two were drunk off of sugar, their skin oozing with melted chocolate that stained not only their lips, but their hands as well. Yoongi and Namjoon tip-toed out of the apartment as fast as they could, not wanting to stick around for the sugar rush that would send the two bouncing off the walls. Jin and Taehyung had only giggled in delight. 

 

As time flows on, it becomes easier to think of the hardships Taehyung had endured. He thanks his therapist greatly for her support, but he feels likes its time to finish healing on his own. Little by little Taehyung has been gluing the bits and pieces of his broken self-back together, and though he has cut himself a few times on sharp edges, he doesn’t cry from the pain anymore. The scars of his past have made him stronger, have helped him understand himself a bit better. And as he stands before the bright expanding ocean of blue water, he smiles knowing he no longer wants to drown himself in its waves.

 

“Taehyung, are you just going to stand there or are you going to get the ball!” Jimin shouts from behind him. He has his hands on his hips and his foot is tapping the sand impatiently. Taehyung rolls his eyes as he bends over to pick-up the inflatable ball.

 

“Calm down, I’m coming, I’m coming!”

 

Jungkook yells out, “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!”

 

Jin smacks him on the back of the head, “IDIOT, WE’RE ALL GAY HERE, THAT’S WHAT HE SAID!”

 

Taehyung sighs at the joke, shaking his head in disapproval as he approaches the beach volleyball court. Hoseok snorts and clutches his stomach as he laughs. The group had decided to take a beach trip during their spring break, wanting to smell the salty tang of ocean air and wanting to feel the burning sun sear their backs with splotchy reds. Jimin, Hoseok, and Namjoon were on one side of the net. Jungkook, Jin and Taehyung were on the other. Yoongi was seated a few yards away on a towel, an umbrella shielding him from rays of sunlight. Not that the sunlight could penetrate through the black long sleeve shirt he had on, nor the black leggings he wore under his swim shorts. He was laying on his side, elbow resting on the towel and hand cradling his head as he peered down at the book in front of him. He sipped occasionally at his soda; a cocktail of rum mixed with tropical fruits. He had asked Taehyung to get him a drink from the food hut when he complained about his thirst, but didn’t specify what he wanted so Taehyung settled on getting him the same fruity concoction he set his sights on. Yoongi hadn’t made a peep of disgust about the sugary drink, throwing Taehyung an appreciative nod. He also got them a few water bottles.

 

Taehyung threw the ball into the air and spiked it over the net, hoping none of his friends would deflect it. When Hoseok dived for it and hit it with the bottom of his palm, the ball curved into the air where Jimin ran up to the net and jumped, serving the ball as hard as he could back over the net. Jungkook sprinted to the back of the court and saved it just as it was about to hit the sand, but the ball flew into the air towards the center of the defenseless court. Jin had been on one edge, and Taehyung at the other. Their bodies moved without thinking, blindly focused on saving the ball until they collided headfirst. The two fell over with a yelp and grabbed at their throbbing heads.

 

Namjoon was the first to rush over, “Are you two okay?”

 

Jin and Taehyung only groaned in response. The two were banned from continuing the game, forced to sit on the sidelines with packs of ice held to their head. They watched on as their friends continued the game as 2 vs 2.

 

Jin's known Yoongi long enough to know why he covers himself constantly, but seeing Taehyung covered head to toe too surprises him. “Why are you completely covered anyways? It can’t be because you don’t want to burn like Yoongi, your skin tone is darker than his. You’d tan well.”

 

Taehyung nods his head. He looks around him for any close ears, but though the beach is full of college students, the crashing waves and the chirps of seagulls drown out most conversation. He shifts the ice pack into his other hand to give his numbing one a break. “I don’t like the feeling of having eyes on my body. It makes me feel like a piece of meat.” Understanding smooths the crinkles on Jin’s forehead. He’s about to respond but Taehyung cuts him off. “Even when I was dressed in a grimy shirt and sweats, it still managed to get my ex hot and bothered. It was worse whenever I was half dressed or when I got out of the shower. I can’t help but be more aware of people’s wandering eyes nowadays.”

 

Jin bumps his shoulder into Taehyung’s. “I’m sorry you have to feel that way. It’s not fair that you’re still suffering the aftermaths of what was done to you. If you ever need to talk, I’m always here for you okay?”

 

Taehyung nods and switches the icepack between his hands again. He ponders over it in his head and lets it spin his mind in circles but ultimately settles on telling him. “Jin-hyung....... I’m asexual.”

 

Jin beams a kind smile. “I figured you were. I’ve heard plenty of Namjoon’s rants on sexuality to be as educated on the matter as he is.” He chuckles. “Thank you for telling me, I know that must have been hard. Do the others know yet?”

 

Jin reaches for Taehyung's hand and gives it a gentle squeeze, “No, not yet. Only Namjoon-hyung knows.”

 

Jin’s expression is full of patience as he stares down at Taeyhung, who’s unknowingly curled in on himself. “Whenever you are ready to tell them, you know they won’t care in the slightest. They love you. We love you.”

 

Taehyung doesn’t reply and settles the ice pack on the sand next to him. He closes his eyes and tilts his head up towards the sun, letting its rays shine down on him. He listens to the playful screams of his friends; listens to the way they banter back and forth with each other to rile themselves up. A tiny smile catches on his lips. He wants to tell the rest of them tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He's restless when the group returns to their rented out beachfront villa in the early afternoon. It houses enough bedrooms to fit them all, and the cost wasn’t too high when split amongst the seven of them. Taehyung paces in the living room while everyone else excuses themselves to their bedrooms, heads groggy and skin overheated from being under the sun all morning. He feels the haziness of sleep urge him to seclude himself into his bed, to nap off the excess heat he’s absorbed into his body. He almost gives in but the anxiety of telling his friends tonight is overwhelming.

 

It shouldn’t be much different than when his friends all came out as gay to each other, until Taehyung recalls he’s never actually ‘come out’, just shrugged off the insinuations that surrounded him and his unknown sexuality when he crushed on both boys and girls. This newfound information only seizes him into another fit of panic. He bites on his nails anxiously, mind whirring 100mph until a hand jerks his bleeding nail beds from his teeth. Yoongi is gazing at him in disapproval, a firm frown on his lips. Taehyung pulls his hand from Yoongi’s grasp and hunches his shoulders. Yoongi is quiet for a fleeting minute, waiting for Taehyung to explain his odd behavior. When he doesn’t say anything, Yoongi tells him he’ll be in his room if he needs anything.

 

Taehyung spends the next hour fidgeting on the couch.

 

He pulls at his lip with his fingers, stretching it out as far as possible until it snaps against his bottom teeth. He smacks his lips together and pulls out his phone, shooting Yoongi a text to ask if he’s awake. Yoongi replies almost instantly and Taehyung rises from the couch and tip toes quietly upstairs to Yoongi’s bedroom. He knocks on the door softly, awaiting for Yoongi to crack the door open to let him in. The door opens with a creak and Taehyung slides inside, closing the door behind him carefully. He scans over the bare room and wonders what Yoongi has been doing in here. When his eyes catch the sight of music equipment, he smirks to himself with no surprise at all. “Brought your music equipment I see. You can’t even take a break from music can you?”

 

Yoongi shoots him a sneaky grin, “Music for school and music for pleasure are two separate things. I’m adding the finishing touch to my mixtape.”

 

Taehyung doesn’t bother begging for a sneak peek. Yoongi has crushed his resolve, telling him he can hear it when he officially releases it. Instead, he throws himself on the bed and lands on his back. Yoongi sits back in his chair and resumes his work on his mixtape. “Hyung, if you don’t mind me asking, what was it like when you first came out?”

 

Yoongi pauses and rolls his chair around. “What makes you assume I’m not straight?” Yoongi feels a little bad when he watches the blood drain from Taehyung’s face and his eyes bulge out of his head.

 

“Oh my god I’m so sorry hyung, it’s just, I assumed—cause you know---our whole friend group is gay—and--- oh my god I’m so sorry, I should have never asked that.” Taehyung rolls on his stomach and buries his head into the pillow, wanting to disappear from this plane of existence. His humiliation alone has him mumbling a string of apologizes that Yoongi couldn't decipher even if he WAS offended. Lucky for him, he’s not because Taehyung is right.

 

“Relax Taehyung-ah, I was messing with you. I am very much gay.” Yoongi stifles a laugh when Taehyung’s body loosens immediately, and he sits up in bed.

 

“That wasn’t very nice hyung,” he pouts.

 

Yoongi laughs but doesn’t ask Taehyung why he brought up this topic all of a sudden and instead answers honestly. “I was fairly certain of my sexuality at a young age. I didn’t crush on girls like other boys my age did. I fooled around in my early college years and tried having sex with a girl I was friends with. Didn’t work out. I was limp as a cooked noodle.”

 

Taehyung wants to laugh yet the mention of Yoongi’s sex life drops his heart into his stomach.

 

“If people asked I’d tell them I was gay, but I didn’t feel the need to announce it to the world. I don’t have any family other than you all and I’m not worried about any of you judging me. I think it would have been harder if my family was around though.” Yoongi’s leaning back in his chair, eyes locked on the sealing as his words tumble past his lips. “I didn’t explicitly tell my family what I was, but I think they took the hints."

 

"It was in middle school when I came to the conclusion that I would love anyone who I felt connected to. I could care less what they looked like. And it wasn’t until the end of last year that I learned about a new sexuality." Yoongi’s attention is solely on Taehyung, who was glancing at his fumbling hands that shook with each admission. He gathered his courage and looked Yoongi in the eyes. His eyes held compassion and Taehyung wanted to bask in them. He didn’t feel nervous about telling him anymore. The words slipped out easily. “I’m asexual.”

 

Yoongi’s smile was breathtaking, stealing every bit of breath in Taehyung’s lungs. His eyes glimmered with a fondness that threatened to swallow Taehyung whole. Not that he had any objections to being devoured by Yoongi. (He’s not sure if he has a thing for vore.) Yoongi was out of his chair in a flash, tackling Taehyung onto the bed in a bone-crushing hug. When he realizes what he did, a look of horror overtakes his expression. “I’m so sorry Taehyung-ah, I got so excited I forgot to ask, I’m so sorry.”

 

Yoongi scurries to get off the bed but Taehyung hooks his arms around his waist and pulls him back down next to him. “I appreciate all the times you’ve asked first but you don’t have to ask me anymore. It’s okay if it’s you.”

 

Taehyung’s adorable smile seizes Yoongi’s heart and he coos. “I’m so proud of you Taehyung-ah,” Yoongi says in between nuzzles against Taehyung’s cheek, "That must have been so hard and nerve-wrecking."

 

It’s times like this that make Yoongi seem so much younger than he actually is.

 

“Hyung, it’s not that big of a deal,” he laughs.

 

Yoongi pulls away from him and brushes the hair from his eyes. “No, it is a big deal, because it takes a lot of courage to come out to someone you barely know. It would be different if it was the others, but I’ve known you the shortest amount of time in comparison. I feel honored that you would share such a personal piece of yourself with me.”

 

Taehyung frowns. “Hyung, you’ve come to know me the best in the time we’ve known each other. You know things about me that not even Jimin, Hoseok or Jungkook know. You understand me in a different way. I can’t thank you enough for being there for me, you have no idea how much you mean to me.”

 

Yoongi's heart skips a beat at this admission, but he pushes his feelings back down. This isn't about him, it's about Taehyung, so he ruffles his hair in affection. The two make their way to the living room, wanting to find something to snack on to bide time until dinner.  By the time the rest of the house wakes up, Yoongi and Taehyung are found in the living room arguing about the existence of aliens and big foot.

 

"I just don't understand how you could believe in aliens but NOT believe in big foot!" Taehyung looks exhausted, his whole body slumped and turned to face Yoongi on the couch.

 

Yoongi has dug himself so deeply into the crevice of the couch it looks like it's eating him. "Because big foot is probably just a really hairy man that got lost in the woods, and instead of someone helping him they took videos and photos and the poor guy was so embarrassed he ran off."

 

Taehyung deadpans him, "Really hyung? Then how do you explain big foot sightings from decades ago!?"

 

"It's the same guy. Big foot has only been around for about 50 years, so it's plausible that it's the same old guy, just as hairy as he was in his teens. Maybe he's abnormally tall and has big feet. I bet if he showed his face in public he could easily get published in the guinness book of world records. And besides, aliens are alot harder to explain. You really expect me to believe this giant universe holds only one planet of life? Nope, I'm sure there's other life out there," Yoongi drawls. 

 

Taehyung narrows his eyes. " Yeah, I agree about the aliens, cause no way are there hundreds of galaxies like ours without another planet like earth. And Like, explain stonehenge and the pyramids. No way it was just humans that did it. I bet aliens helped. But back to the big foot thing--how do you explain him being seen in different countries around the world? It can't be just one guy, it has to be more, like a new species!"

 

"Maybe the guy just really likes traveling, you don't know him or his life." Yoongi starts to pick at his fingernails.

 

Taehyung drags his hands down his face in exasperation, "Hyunggggg, how would he even get on planes or boats without being seen?"

 

"A really big jacket."

 

Jimin appears from down the hall then, yawning. “You guys are obnoxiously loud, what are you even arguing about?” Jimin drags his feet over and looks between them questionably. “There’s some odd sexual tension over here.”

 

Jimin says it offhandedly and doesn’t put much thought into how Taehyung cringes and bites at his lower lip. Yoongi looks at him sympathetically and rubs his shoulder. Taehyung shoots him a brief smile, thankful for the reassurance. “Jimin-ah, please stop making sexual jokes so often,” Yoongi casts his eyes over at Jungkook and Hoseok, who have also come stumbling into the living room with sleep still in their eyes. They wake up right up after being called out by Yoongi.

 

“You guys too, it makes me uncomfortable.”

 

The three boys nod their head in apology, “Sorry hyung,” they mutter in unison.

 

The heated argument over big foot ceases and the group finds another way to distract themselves until the last people of their friends wake up. When Namjoon and Jin finally enter the room, they find the younger boys' limbs tangled together in a heated game of twister. Yoongi is seated on the couch, flicking the arrow and yelling out the combo for the next person’s turn. Jimin’s left hand is on green, and his leg is folded over his shoulder on blue. His other leg is on yellow and his right hand reaches over Taehyung to touch red.

 

Taehyung curses because his turn has him stretching out his arm to touch yellow, which puts his face up against Jungkook’s butt. “I swear to god Kookie, if you fart I will destroy you.”

 

Jungkook sticks out his tongue, “You and what army?”  

 

Taehyung barely has time to cover his nose and eyes before Jungkook rips out the wettest sounding noise in history. Taehyung gags at the smell and falls face first into the mat. Jimin follows soon after and Jungkook is the winner left standing. “I win!” he shouts.

 

Jimin kicks Jungkook’s thigh, “That was cheating you disgusting asshole.”

 

Taehyung shoves Jimin and Jungkook off of him and crawls over to the couch by Yoongi. He rubs his face against Yoongi's knee, wanting to rid the smell from his nose. Yoongi pats him on the head and Taehyung huffs.  

 

There’s sounds of rummaging in the kitchen when Hoseok pops his head over the counter. “What are we doing for food? I’m starving, and highly doubt these—” three bags of chips are thrown into the living room, "are enough for us all. So are we going out to eat or are we calling in for delivery?”

 

Yoongi peers at Taehyung out of the corner of his eye, who gulps and nods in response. “I think the hyungs will go scavenge for dinner,” he grumbles. Jin and Namjoon head back to their rooms to grab their wallets. Yoongi rises from the crouch and stretches. Hoseok’s putting on his shoes when Yoongi yells, “You’re not coming Hoseok, you’re staying here.” He doesn’t protest as he takes his shoes off.

 

When the hyungs leave, the house is silent save for Jimin and Jungkook who are folding up the Twister mat and placing it back in its box. Hoseok has joined Taehyung on the couch and idly scrolls through his twitter feed. He told Yoongi earlier about the fear of telling his friends and whether he still should that night or not. Yoongi purposely left them alone so he could talk to them. Yoongi said there was no rush and no pressure. He can take as long as he needs, and he doesn't have to tell them tonight if he changes his mind.

 

Taehyung shakily takes a deep breath.

 

What is he so scared of? These are his best friends, the ones who’ve been with him through thick and thin. They’re basically brothers. A deep bond has never stopped someone from hurting the other though, and Taehyung has learned that the hard way. He takes one more steadying breath and spits it out. “I’m asexual.”

 

Neither Hoseok, nor Jimin and Jungkook hear him for the words come out in a faint whisper. Taehyung clenches his fists and yells, “I said I’m asexual!”

 

The sudden raise in Taehyung’s voice startles Hoseok from his mindless scrolling and his phone flops to the floor. “Shit!” he curses, picking up the phone and inspecting it for any damage to its delicate screen.

 

“Sorry Hobi…” Taehyung shifts his gaze to Jungkook and Jimin, a look of utter confusion claiming their soft features.

 

Jungkook lets the word roll on his tongue, twisting it this way and that way until he says it out loud in question, “Asexual?”

 

Jimin starts to laugh. “What are you, a plant?” But his twinkling eyes fade when he sees how serious Taehyung is. “What do you mean you're asexual?”

 

Taehyung can’t lie to himself when he says that reaction hurts—to be laughed at in a moment of pure vulnerability by one of his closest friends feels like a stab in the gut. But he can’t blame them for their ignorance. Just because his hyungs knew doesn’t mean everyone does. “Asexuality can mean a lot of things to different people, it’s like a spectrum. Specifically, it means to lack sexual attraction, which is the fundamental concept that ties everyone together under it.”

 

Hoseok scrunches his eyebrows and his lips stick out in a pout. With a tilt of his head, bright red hair sways over his eyes. He has to flick his hair to the side to see clearly. "So, you don’t feel sexual attraction? Like at all? You don’t want sex?”

 

“Asexuals can still have sex if they want, but sexual attraction is wanting to have sex with someone else they find interesting or good looking. It’s not so much about the act itself as it is about desiring to engage in that act with someone. Someone could be asexual and still like or want sex. It doesn’t have anything to do with libido.”

 

“Oh I see,” Hoseok says. “I’m glad you told me.” He reaches over and pulls Taehyung into a side hug. Taehyung smiles thinking this wasn’t so bad after all but then Jimin’s voice breaks through his bliss.

 

“That’s not an actual thing is it?” Jimin says disbelievingly.

 

Taehyung feels like he’s been stabbed again, and it hurts worse this time.

 

Jungkook smacks Jimin on the shoulder, “Just because you’ve never heard of it doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”

 

Taehyung clutches his shirt, hands trembling and eyes glazing over as he stares at the ground. His tongue is prodding the inside of his cheek as he bites the venomous words he wants to say back. The front door of the villa opens then, Jin yelling that they found a taco shop next door that made shrimp and fish tacos. He holds the bag in his hands as he twirls inside, unaware of the tension in the room. Namjoon follows behind him with more bags and Yoongi is the last to enter. The trio halt at the scene unfolding before them. Jungkook has his arms crossed around his chest and looks at Jimin with disappointment. Hoseok flicks his head back and forth between them with his hand stuck in the air, not sure how to handle the situation, worry marring his normally joyful disposition.

 

The hyungs enter in time to hear Taehyung’s voice erupt in anger, fire licking his words with the burning need to defend the part of him that took so long to accept. “How dare you, how dare you try to question my identity. I wanted to share this part of myself with you because you’re all the closest people to me, closer than my blood-related family. It took me so long to accept this, because for years I kept thinking something was wrong with me, that I was broken because I’m different from everyone else. Do you know what it feels like to have everyone around you obsess over sex or how sexy this person looks or how badly they’d want to be fucked in bed? Do you know what it feels like to wish so desperately to be someone else or to be born as anyone else but me? I didn’t ask for this, didn’t ask to be like this, and when I’ve finally come to terms with who I am you think it’s okay to throw it in my face like I made it up? Like I didn’t spend nights crying myself to sleep trying to learn to accept myself and resist the waves of sadness that kept threatening to drown me? You should all know what it feels like to be in my shoes right now since you’ve all come out before. I thought you of all people would understand, being bisexual and whatnot, but I was wrong. Fuck you Jimin.” Taehyung whirls on his heel and refuses to cry as he sprints out the front door.

 

Yoongi is the first to react, dropping the bag of drinks to the floor as he rushes out to chase after Taehyung. The rest of the group is left behind, quietly simmering in the tension that floats around them.

 

Namjoon coughs into his hand, “I think a discussion is in order.”

 

Jimin’s shoulders shake as tears drop from his eyes and stain the white carpet in wet spots. A sob escapes his lips and he buckles to the ground, covering his face with his hands. Jungkook is the closest to him and circles a hand around his back. He can’t feel bad for Jimin with the way he acted. He should have respected Taehyung, not questioned the authenticity of his identity when he so clearly only recently came to terms with himself.

 

Hoseok doesn’t say anything as Jin circles the couch and ushers him to scoot over. Namjoon guides a sobbing Jimin and a sad Jungkook towards the couch, letting themselves nestle into it before he speaks.

 

“I don’t know what you said Jimin, but whatever it was couldn’t have been nice by the way Taehyung reacted. What did you say to him?”

 

Jimin tries to answer in between broken sobs but nothing can be understood. Jungkook translates on his behalf. “Well he started off cracking a joke about Tae being a plant, and then made it sound like Tae pulled the word out of his ass when he told us he was asexual.”

 

Namjoon flinches and Jin’s mouth falls in horror.

 

Jimin cries even harder, “I-I did to him exactly what my parents did to m-me. I didn’t m-mean it to come that way, I never meant to hurt his feelings like that.”

 

“Even if you didn’t mean for it to come out the way it did, that doesn’t matter because you ended up hurting him in the end. You should have been more careful, especially because he’s been struggling with it for months now. We are all know how hard it is to come out, and you didn’t make it any easier on him.” Jimin shrinks into a ball at Namjoon’s reprimanding tone. Namjoon looks to all three of the watery eyes peering up at him in guilt. “I’m going to explain asexuality to you all now okay?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The humid air makes it difficult to breathe, and a cramp in his side brings Taehyung to a stop as he bends over and gasps for air. When a body comes up next to him and inhales raggedy breaths as well, he straightens to see Yoongi had followed after him. Taehyung grasps his chest, “Sorry I made you run hyung.”

 

Yoongi wipes the beading sweat off his forehead. “I’ll think of it as my workout of the day.”

 

The two laugh and hearing the chiming sound fall from Yoongi’s lips is like music to his ears. Not even the waves crashing against the shore in the distance can drown out that tinkling sound.

 

“I’m okay hyung. Really.” Taehyung notices a nearby bench and tugs at Yoongi’s fingers for him to follow.

 

“I’ve never seen you yell like that, I take it Jimin said something really fucked up? He has the tendencies to speak before he thinks.

 

” Taehyung sighs, leaning onto his arms that grip the bench behind him.“ I know. I think he might've had sorta like a flashback to when we were younger. I was there when Jimin came out to his mom. I was next to him, holding his hand in support. He reacted the same way she reacted to him:made him feel like bisexuality wasn’t real and that he had to choose between one or the other and couldn’t possibly like both. It hurt him so badly, and it pissed me off that he had the nerve to do the same to me. I know he didn’t mean to, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.”

 

“It’s frustrating when other people think they know you better than you know yourself.” Yoongi crosses his legs and looks up at the pearly white moon that gleams against the night sky. “You’re valid. Don’t let anyone make you feel or think otherwise.”

 

Taehyung hums. “I try not to, not even from myself. I just wish it was easier.”

 

The two enjoy the night breeze as they stare at the shining stars. Only when Yoongi’s phone rings (and they hear Jin’s voice on the line beckoning them home) do they decide to return to the house.

 

 

 

 

 

The group eats their tacos with a movie playing in the background. It’s awkward but the tension eases once they’re piled on the couch. Taehyung and Jimin are left to clean up the dishes and they work silently.

 

“Hey Tae, can we talk?” Jimin asks shyly.

 

“Of course.” Taehyung wipes his hands dry on a towel and follows Jimin out of the kitchen.

 

The friends step out onto the porch, the humid air whipping their hair around them.

 

“Want to walk along the beach?” Taehyung asks.

 

Jimin smiles softly, “That’d be nice.”

 

Their steps sink into the sand like the beach wants to swallow them whole (okay, again we’re revisiting the idea of vore and he can positively say he isn’t into it). Taehyung wiggles his toes with each step and curses when he steps on a rock. He grabs at his foot and rubs the spot tenderly. They are just shy of the wave’s reach when they plop their bottoms onto the sand.

 

“Do you remember when we went to the beach when we were younger?” Jimin wonders aloud. “We didn’t step foot into the water at all, spent the whole time building a giant sandcastle with high walls and a deep trench surrounding it. We even dug out a ditch towards the water so we could watch the ocean pool around it.” 

 

Taehyung pokes his toe into wet sand and flicks it up into the air. It narrowly misses him. “Our parents kept telling us we should swim or else we’d regret it, but we refused to listen to them. We cried all the way home because we finally wanted to go swimming but we were about to leave.”

 

Jimin chuckles, “Things were so much easier back then.” He nibbles on his plump lip. They listen to the calming waves for a while. “I made a promise to you when we were younger that I would never hurt you like they did. I’m sorry that I broke that promise. I’m happy you had enough trust to share that with me. You didn’t have to, and I would have never known. I’m sorry for reacting the way I did.”

 

Taehyung shifts in place and scoots closer to Jimin until they’re pressed flush against one another’s side. He rests his head on Jimin’s shoulder. “I forgive you,” he murmurs, voice rumbling in his chest. "But...please think a bit more before you say things. You say hurtful things sometimes, and if you're not careful, one day you could say something you can't take back."

 

“I'm going to work on that. It's a huge flaw of mine, but I want to do better. And.....just know, if you ever need to talk, I’m here to listen. I promise to always be here for you.” Jimin holds his pinky out, his cheeks squished up and eyes squinted in crescents. Taehyung mirrors his smile, a boxy grin pulling at his cheeks too. He wraps his pinky around Jimin’s and they shake on it, locking in their new promise. “You can always tell me about a certain someone too, if you catch my drift,” he winks teasingly.

 

Taehyung’s eyebrows furrow, lips puckered as he thinks about Jimin’s meaning. “I don’t know what you mean.”

 

The teasing grin slips off Jimin’s face, replaced by a deadpan glare. “You can’t be serious.” Jimin swears he sees a giant question mark hovering above Taehyung’s head. “You know what, never mind,” he mutters as he dusts the sand off his shorts and walks back up the beach towards their villa.

 

“Wait!” Taehyung scrambles to his feet, shoving sand in all directions as he attempts to chase after his pint-sized friend. “Jiminie! What did you mean by that? Jiminie! Jimin! Jimin!” he screeches.

 

“NEVERMIND TAE,” the other yells over his shoulder, pace quickened to a sprint when he notices Taehyung gaining up on him.

 

They’ve full of bubbling laughter and giggles when they step back into the villa through the porch. The others are still immersed in whatever movie they’re watching so they hush their voices as they approach the couch. Jungkook and Jin are sharing a love seat on the other side of the couch so Jimin squeezes himself in between Namjoon and Hoseok. Taehyung debates sitting on the floor but he catches Hoseok scoot closer to Yoongi to make room for Jimin and promptly digs his way between the two of them. It’s an extremely tight squeeze until Jimin slides himself onto Hoseok’s lap and curls into him. There’s extra room for Taehyung to have more space around him but he finds that he enjoys being pressed up next to Yoongi like this. Yoongi briefly looks at him and ruffles his hair. Taehyung sends him a squinty-eyed smile and turns his attention back to the movie.

 

Jimin glances at them in amusement, but it’s not only him that notices their close proximity. The rest of the group looks at them both with knowing smirks of their own, the oblivious ones in the room are solely the two who look at each other with love in their eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He watches as Yoongi spits out the lyrics to his verse with such passion and emotion that it leaves him breathless. There is sweat trickling down the side of his face and it glistens under the spotlight. Yoongi’s eyes glaze over the crowd until they meet Taehyung’s.

 

 

 

His heart slows and the roaring crowd around him fades into the distance as Yoongi smirks.

 

 

 

There’s a spark of electricity that jolts through every inch of him at the eye contact and his heartbeat accelerates. His palms are clammy and a warm heat flushes his cheeks as he stands star-struck. Taehyung gulps and he has to grab onto Jimin to steady himself. His legs shake underneath him and Jimin instantly clutches onto him.

 

 

 

“Taehyung, what’s wrong?” Jimin shouts amidst the loud cheers in the club. Taehyung swallows dryly and his hands start to shake.

 

 

 

“Jimin, you were wrong,” he whispers.

 

 

 

“What?” Jimin leans his ear closer expecting Taehyung to repeat what he said, but when he doesn’t, Jimin shrugs it off and focuses back on the stage, letting Taehyung use him as support.

 

 

 

Even when Yoongi’s verse ends and Hoseok takes the lead, Taehyung can’t take his eyes off him. Yoongi walks around the edge of the stage with Namjoon, hyping up the crowd and mouthing the words to Hoseok’s lines. Yoongi’s eyes fall back onto Taehyung and he smiles so brightly that Taehyung finds he can’t lie to himself anymore.

 

 

 

Seeing Yoongi’s flushed face from his performance and the rush of endorphins that make him glow under the stage light makes his heart clench. The pure happiness on his face melts him into a puddle of goo.

 

 

 

Jimin was wrong.

 

 

 

Taehyung doesn’t have a crush.

 

 

 

It’s far deeper than that.

 

 

 

He doesn’t know how he managed to fall so deeply for the person standing on that stage but he can’t ignore the way his stomach flutters, or the burning in his heart and in his cheeks whenever he’s around him-

 

 

 

Because he's head-over-heels in love with Min Yoongi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The warm air is a bit suffocating, so Taehyung sheds his jacket and ties it around his waist. His arms are bared to the sun’s rays, and they soak in the missing sunlight. Taehyung has bundled himself up so much over the course of the year that he’s rather pale. His skin is not sun-kissed caramel as it normally is by the middle of spring. Taehyung frowns when he feels the breeze brush his arms.

 

 

 

“I just, I feel more aware of other people’s eyes on me. Like I’m being undressed by their eyes and it makes me want to throw up. It’s like how it was with Bogum. No matter what I wore or what I looked like, he would tell me how sexy I looked and how he wanted me. I feel like I can’t wear anything even moderately exposing like a wide neck shirt or fitted pants. It scares me, and I hate this. I hate how vulnerable I feel. Is this really what girls have to put up with on a daily basis? It’s bullshit! I can’t even imagine what it’s like for them if even I feel this bothered by it.”

 

 

 

“I just want to be comfortable like I used to be in my own skin. It’s not fair.”

 

 

 

Taehyung recalls the words he vented to his therapist all those months ago. He shivers. He glances around him but the crowd of students on campus don’t look twice at him. He heaves a sigh of relief and trudges on to his classes. He has to remind himself everyday that he’s okay. He’s free. He doesn’t have to give in to any of the wanting looks others give him. He doesn’t owe them anything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Psssssst!”

 

 

 

Taehyung stops as he nears the music building, brushing a piece of newly dyed black hair (he wanted to go back to his natural hair color after the blue dulled) behind his ear and paused to listen around for the odd whisper. With one last look at his surroundings, he shrugs and continues onwards to his building.

 

 

 

“Psssst, Tae!” a soft voice shouts.

 

 

 

Taehyung whips around at the call of his name and raises an eyebrow, stumped that he can’t find the source of the voice. When he spots a large rose bush across from the building he decides to get closer to investigate. The students around him pay no heed as he creeps toward the rose bush. He sneaks a glance behind it and finds Jimin crouched low to the ground, the pink fluff of his hair styled into a suave side part.

 

 

“Jimin, what are you doing?”

 

 

 

Jimin glances up at him, a determined glint in his eye and a fierce pout on his rose tinted lips.

 

 

 

“Hobi’s been MIA lately. I’m trailing him.”

 

 

 

“What are you, like ten? This is really unnecessary. You could have sat by a nearby bench instead.”

 

 

 

Jimin tugs at the bottom of Taehyung’s t-shirt, urging him to crouch down next to him. Taehyung opens his mouth to speak but Jimin pushes his finger against his lips to shush him. Taehyung rolls his eyes in exasperation. He spares a glance at his phone to check the time.

 

 

 

He can kill a good ten minutes. His class doesn’t start for another twenty. He decides to indulge in Jimin’s childish antics, resting his chin in the palm of his hands as he gazes across the campus. The rose bush is tall enough to completely cover their bodies.

 

 

 

“I don’t see the point of this. You’re acting like Hobi has super senses or something. Have you forgotten how oblivious he is? It took him like a whole week and a half to realize I dyed my hair blue remember?”

 

 

 

Jimin’s laugh twinkles through the air at the memory. When it subsides, he sighs in frustration as he gets up from his spot and stretches.

 

 

 

“Yeah, Yeah you’re right. I miss being younger and those games we played where we would pretend to be secret spies. Doing it as an adult is not as thrilling. Anyways, I think Hobi's seeing someone.”

 

 

 

Taehyung pats the dirt off his pants and stands up.

 

 

 

“Why don’t you just ask him what he’s up to?”

 

 

 

Taehyung adjusts his backpack once he feels the straps digging into his shoulders. The weight of his textbooks are no joke. He thinks lugging them around is a workout in itself.

 

 

 

Jimin runs a hand through his pink locks.

 

 

 

“Obviously that’s the first thing I did, but he kept dodging the question. He must be trying hard to keep whoever he’s seeing a secret from us. We tell each other everything! How could he not tell me?”

 

 

 

Taehyung notices Jimin’s eyes flicker with something other than frustration. He takes a good look at Jimin then, watching him nibble on his lower lip in thought. He knew the two were rather close in terms of skin-ship, they have been since middle school, but Taehyung wonders if Jimin’s feelings for Hoseok have surpassed that of friendship.

 

 

 

Is it a recent development? He can’t be sure.

 

 

 

He wants to ask, but thinks better of it. If Jimin did have feelings for Hoseok he would have told him by now. They’re soulmates after all. Then again, Jimin still doesn’t know the real reason why Bogum and he broke up so he's a hypocrite for expecting the same truth from him.

 

 

 

Shaking those thoughts aside, Taehyung pulls him into a hug.

 

 

 

“Don’t worry Jiminie, I’m sure Hobi’s not seeing anyone. He would definitely tell us if he was. You know Hobi’s friends with almost everyone on campus, so maybe he’s been hanging out with other friends. Don’t let it bother you too much okay?”

 

 

 

Jimin nods his head and replies but it’s muffled by Taehyung’s shoulder. Taehyung kisses him on the head and tells him he has to leave for class. Jimin waves him off with a small smile and tells him to text him when he gets out of class so they can hang.

 

 

 

Taehyung salutes Jimin with two fingers and yells out, “Will do!” and prances towards his building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Taehyung enters the lobby, he sees his manager at the front desk. He stops by really quick to check his schedule for the week. It’s while he’s in the middle of a short chat with her about his spring break trip that he notices a familiar head of red hair bounce along the hallway.

 

 

 

Taehyung tells his manager he’ll tell her more during his shift and turns to try to greet Hoseok. He stills upon seeing who he’s walking with. The two seem to be in deep conversation about something important because Hoseok looks a little stressed and Yoongi has dark under eye circles like he’s been sneaking extra hours in the studio.

 

 

 

(Taehyung found out Yoongi used Namjoon’s name to reserve extra studio time, and once they became friends he started using Taehyung’s name too. Taehyung monitors studio time but he makes sure Yoongi doesn’t get caught. Then again, he’s positive the manager would let him get away with it because she has a soft spot for the senior.)

 

 

 

He watches the two walk together through the lobby and out the front doors.

 

 

 

Taehyung briefly considers whether Jimin had left already or if he was still hanging around. His question is answered when his phone chimes with a text from Jimin:

 

 

 

 

From Jiminie (12:01pm):

 

Nvm, he was just with Yoongi.

 

 

To Jiminie (12:01pm):

 

See? I told you!

                                      

 

 

 

Taehyung heads to class and enters the lecture hall.

 

 

 

He finds a seat towards the middle of the room and pulls out his laptop and textbook to get ready for class. In a spur of the moment decision, he sends a quick text to Yoongi asking if he wants to hang out later.

 

 

 

He doesn’t get a chance to read the reply because the professor walks in and one of his friends from a few other shared classes sits next to him and stirs up conversation. He has to push his thoughts about Yoongi to the back of his mind.

 

 

 

When his classes end Taehyung pulls out his phone on the walk out of the building and disappointment weighs his shoulders down at Yoongi’s reply.

 

 

 

 

 

From Smol Hyung(2:50PM)

 

Sorry, I’m busy. Maybe another time?

 

 

 

 

 

To Smol Hyung (2:51PM):

 

No worries! Just let me know when you’re free

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung sighs, slips his phone into his pocket, and trudges across campus. His school day is over so he’ll probably head back to the dorms and work on homework.

 

 

 

There’s a nice breeze blowing through his hair as he crosses the campus square and he breathes in the crisp spring air. Cherry blossoms are blooming around the campus and it’s a gorgeous sight. The soft pinks decorating the trees and the few blossoms that float through the air make the square look like a fairyland.

 

 

 

Taehyung passes a bench placed right underneath one of the trees and pulls his backpack off, settling himself to lay across the bench. He doesn’t have to go home right away. He can relax for a bit.

 

 

He folds his hands under his head and stares up at the tree branches. Sunlight peeks in through cracks but it’s not too hot when it hits his face. It’s warm and serene. The sweet smell of cherry blossoms has him inhaling deeply again and when he releases his breath he feels his body slacken. His head lolls to the side.

 

 

 

He doesn’t know he fell asleep until a series of shutters startles him awake. His sleep crusted eyes wince and lock onto a camera pointed at him.

 

 

 

He rubs the dryness from his eyes and yawns, stretching his arms over his head. He can recognize those curly black locks anywhere.

 

 

 

“Jungkook, what are you doing?” he mumbles groggily.

 

 

 

Jungkook pulls the camera down from his face and grins at Taehyung.

 

 

 

“I wanted to catch a few pictures of sleeping beauty.”

 

 

 

Taehyung fakes a laugh.

 

 

 

“Ha ha very funny.”

 

 

 

He pulls a blossom off his head and holds it close to his nose to sniff it. The flower is so tiny and cute. A smile graces his lips and he stares at it. He hears another shutter and he peers up at Jungkook again just to roll his eyes.

 

 

 

Jungkook giggles and lets the camera hang down from his neck by its straps. He waves his hand to the side, ushering Taehyung to scoot over. He takes a seat on the bench and leans back. The two are quiet, basking in the cool breeze that carries petals across their faces. The wind is a gentle caress.

 

 

 

Jungkook digs the tip of his shoe into the dirt.

 

 

 

“Can I ask you something?”

 

 

 

Taehyung hums in affirmation as he watches flocks of students pass by. He assumes it must almost be dinner time with how low the sun sits in the sky. His nap must have been at least two hours if the ache in his back from laying on the hard-wooden bench is anything to go by.

 

 

 

Jungkook pauses and fumbles with his camera to keep his hands busy.

 

 

 

“Why didn’t you tell us sooner?”

 

 

 

Taehyung’s gaze slowly makes its way to Jungkook. When they make eye contact, Jungkook looks back down to his lap.

 

 

 

Taehyung pokes Jungkook in the cheek and squishes it between his fingers.

 

 

 

“Don’t make that face, it’s okay. I don’t mind talking about it now. There’s no need to worry about upsetting me.”

 

 

 

Jungkook licks his lips and forces himself to look Taehyung directly in the eye.

 

 

 

“You’re my best friend…..why didn’t you tell me about this sooner? Were you scared I would judge you?”

 

 

 

Taehyung shakes his head and lets his bangs hide his eyes.

 

 

 

“I couldn’t talk about it if I didn’t understand it myself. It’s hard to explain, but I didn’t want to tell anyone until I was sure about myself.”

 

 

 

“I get that, but even if you weren’t sure, I could have been there for you. You wouldn’t have had to go through that alone. We could have figured it out together, like we always do.”

 

 

 

“Did.”

 

 

 

Jungkook furrows his eyebrows in question, “Huh?”

 

 

 

Taehyung’s voice is low as he says the next few words.

 

 

 

“Like we did. We don’t share things like we used to.”

 

 

 

Jungkook opens his mouth to argue, “That’s not true, I-“

 

 

 

“You didn’t tell me about Namjoon until you guys were already dating.”

 

 

 

Jungkook shuts his mouth. He hunches his shoulders in guilt.

 

 

 

“Kookie, I’m not upset. I was a little at first, but I guess now that we’re all older we don’t share every single bit of our lives with each other and that’s okay. It was different when we were younger, but now we all have our own personal lives and that means keeping certain things to ourselves ya know?”

 

 

 

Jungkook visibly deflates.

 

 

 

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Still, I wish I was there for you.”

 

 

 

Jungkook leans forward and rests his elbows on his knees, chin resting on his palms as his camera dangles between his legs mere inches from touching the ground. Taehyung rubs his back in affection.

 

 

 

“Well, you are now and that’s all that matters. I appreciate it. Thank you.”

 

 

 

Jungkook nods but sadness is evident on his face even with Taehyung’s reassurance.

 

 

 

Taehyung changes the subject, wanting to steer the conversation towards something that will bring his friend’s cute smile back. Then it dawns on him.

 

 

 

“I still don’t know the exact story of how you and Namjoon met. I only know bits and pieces.”

 

 

 

Taehyung flashes Jungkook a smirk.

 

 

 

“Want to tell me?”

 

 

 

Jungkook shoots him a bright smile and his eyes crinkle at the corners.

 

 

 

“Well-“ Jungkook continues.

 

 

 

The two spend the next hour basking under the bright sunlight and giggling over Jungkook’s recollection of how he and Namjoon got together. The story is definitely not the terrible porno plot he had previously thought, but the story is funny none the less. It’s suited for how dorky the two are.

 

 

 

 "Wait, that type of thing actually happens in real life?”

 

 

 

Taehyung snorts.

 

 

 

“I had a bad habit of leaving the door unlocked okay? And I forgot he was coming over that day to tutor me!”

 

 

 

“You really expect me to believe that you ‘coincidentally’ showered right before Namjoon was bound to show up, and ‘just so happened’ to still be half-naked? When did you get so daring Kookie! I never knew you could be so cunning.”

 

 

 

Taehyung gives him a sly smirk and his eyes twinkle with amusement.

 

 

 

Jungkook desperately tries to explain himself, shaking Taehyung’s shoulders vigorously.

 

 

 

“I did not plan that! I wasn’t walking around my door in just my shorts so Namjoon could see my abs!”

 

 

 

“HA! So you admit it then! You sneaky bastard.”

 

 

 

Taehyung wraps an arm around Jungkook’s shoulder and pokes his stomach in accusation.

 

 

 

“You totally planned that.”

 

 

 

Jungkook gives in.

 

 

 

“Okay so maybe I showered earlier than usual, but I didn’t think it would actually happen! You should have seen his face Tae. He stared at my chest AND my stomach for a solid minute. He didn’t look away until I put a shirt on!”

 

 

 

Taehyung laughs so hard he struggles to breathe.

 

 

 

“Oh my god I can picture it!” he wheezes.

 

 

 

“He couldn’t look me in the eye at all that whole hour. It wasn’t until he was leaving that he actually asked ‘So, I’m guessing you workout a lot?’

 

 

 

This has Taehyung flinging himself off the bench and rolling on the ground.

 

 

 

“Stop, stop! I can’t breathe!” he gasps in between dying gasps.

 

 

 

Jungkook is laughing just as hard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the sun starts to set on the horizon, the two part ways and make plans to catch up later in the week.

 

 

 

“You should come over to our place. I’m helping Jin with a favor so you can just hang around and chill with us.”

 

 

 

“Sure thing Kookie! Text me when you want me to come over ok?”

 

 

 

Taehyung waves at him.

 

 

 

Speaking of plans, Taehyung curses when he remembers he was supposed to message Jimin when he got off class. He pulls his phone out and realizes he left it on vibrate. He has three texts from Jimin and two missed calls.

 

 

 

He presses redial and the phone rings and rings until Jimin answers with a snarky, “Hello? Forget about someone?”

 

 

 

Taehyung settles the phone between his shoulder and his ear as he places his backpack on. The walk back to the dorms is about 15 minutes so he should make it back by dark. He begins the stroll home.

 

 

 

“Sorry, I fell asleep on a bench and then ran into Kookie and lost track of time.”

 

 

 

He hears some shuffling over the phone, assuming Jimin is already in bed.

 

 

 

“Eh, it’s fine. I ended up hanging out with Jin-hyung. We went out and got pedicures together.”

 

 

 

“Sweet. Did you guys get them painted?”

 

 

 

Taehyung presses the crosswalk button when he nears an intersection. When the light turns green he walks across the street. He has to squint to see in front of him because the car headlights are blindingly bright.

 

 

 

“I didn’t this time, but Jin painted his a soft periwinkle. Something about having a photoshoot soon and wanting to get good pics of his feet so he can sell them online to footfetish.com.”

 

 

 

Taehyung chuckles, “Sounds like hyung.”

 

 

 

“Right?”

 

 

 

Jimin breathes an airy laugh.

 

 

 

“Have you talked to Hobi yet?”

 

 

 

Taehyung passes by his usual coffee shop and swoops in, wanting a hot chocolate to fill his rumbling stomach. He tells Jimin to hold on while he places his order and hands the cashier his money. When he steps off to the side to wait for his order, he scans the shop casually.

 

 

 

“No, I didn’t have dance practice today so I haven’t seen him since this morning. I don’t think he’s come back to the dorm at all actually. His bed looks exactly the same as he left it this morning.”

 

 

 

Taehyung’s order is called out and he heads to the counter to pick it up. He's about to walk out of the shop when his eyes linger on the booth in the very back where he and Yoongi usually sit when they come here together.

 

 

 

“He didn’t mention he was hanging out with Yoongi though. I wonder what they’re up to,” Jimin says.

 

 

 

Taehyung is surprised to spot Yoongi’s dark auburn hair and is about to call out to him.

 

 

 

“ Speaking of, I found Yoongi-hyung!” he tells Jimin excitedly over the phone.

 

 

 

Taehyung takes a step forward to head over there since Yoongi’s alone but a head of fire red hair walks out of the bathroom hallway in the back of the shop. Taehyung doesn’t know why his first instinct is to hide, but he dips behind another booth by the counter and peeks over at them.

 

 

 

Hoseok doesn’t sit across from Yoongi when he approaches the table. No, he scoots next to Yoongi and Taehyung doesn’t know why his tummy bubbles with discomfort. Is the hot chocolate not sitting well with him? Maybe it’s because he hasn’t had anything to eat since breakfast.

 

 

 

“Uh, you okay Tae? Did you go over to say hi to Yoongi?” Jimin asks.

 

 

 

Taehyung remembers he’s still in the middle of a conversation and says, “No, he’s with Hobi.”

 

 

 

Jimin can hear the shift in tone of his voice.

 

 

 

“Oh… Well like you said, they’re just hanging out. They must have been together all day.”

 

 

 

Jimin’s tone shifts to uneasiness too. 

 

 

 

Taehyung watches the two for a moment, and although Hobi’s one of his best friends he can’t help but feel a bit peeved that he’s sitting so close to Yoongi and has his arm thrown over one of his shoulders. Hoseok must say something funny or cracked a joke because Yoongi’s expression morphs into his favorite gummy smile and he leans into Hoseok as they laugh together.

 

 

 

Taehyung swallows around the tightness in his throat and forces his eyes away from their booth.

 

 

 

He holds the hot chocolate to his chest and walks right out the door but not before sparing once last glance at his two friends that are huddled so close together that it stabs Taehyung in the heart.

 

 

 

“Yeah, they’re just hanging out,” he whispers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Taehyung tries to meet up with Yoongi later in the week, he’s turned down again.

 

 

 

Yoongi can only apologize and tell him he’s been really busy with different projects and that they’ll get together very soon. Taehyung feels the pit of disappointment grow in his stomach and he can’t help but feel sad.

 

 

 

He whines about it to Jungkook when he invites himself over to Jin and Namjoon’s apartment, not bothering to wait on the text from Jungkook to tell him to come over.

 

 

 

Taehyung is face down on their fluffy white carpet in the living room. His whining is muffled and is mostly ignored by a shuffling Jungkook.

 

 

 

“Tae I have no idea what you’re saying,” he says as he adjusts the lighting posts around the living room.

 

 

 

The couch and the coffee table have been moved into the hallway out of the way. It makes the room look much bigger. He leaves the rug as is.

 

 

 

Taehyung rolls over onto his back.

 

 

 

“I haven’t hung out with Yoongi since we got back from our spring break trip.”

 

 

 

 “You’re still on about that?”

 

 

 

Jin enters the living room, pampered from head to toe and wrapped in an expensive baby blue satin bathrobe. He sits on the rug next to Taehyung and uses his pedicured foot to push him away.

 

 

 

“You know how Yoongi is. He’s probably cooped up in his studio days on end without showering and surviving off of ramen like some kind of college hermit.”

 

 

 

“I’ve seen him hanging out with Hobi-hyung a lot though,” Taehyung pouts. “I’ve seen them on campus five times in the past two days alone! Yet when I ask him to hang he says he’s busy. What if he’s ignoring me?”

 

 

 

“Those two are always hanging out. Hoseok's almost as inseparable from Yoongi as you are from Jimin. It’s been that way ever since they met.”

 

 

 

Jin shoves Taehyung with his foot again and he rolls completely off the rug.

 

 

 

Taehyung sits up, “Really? I didn’t know that.”

 

 

 

Unease builds in his stomach again.

 

 

 

Jungkook chimes in.

 

 

 

“It’s surprising since Hoseok and Yoongi are like polar opposites but that might be why they are so close. Opposites attract.”

 

 

 

Jungkook has his back turned and doesn’t see the frown on Taehyung’s lips. Jin is too preoccupied with slathering lotion on his feet to notice.

 

 

 

Jin adds in, “I highly doubt he’s ignoring you. If Yoongi didn’t like you he wouldn’t waste time talking or texting you. You guys still talk daily don’t you? “

 

 

 

“Well yeah, we text a lot.”

 

 

 

“Maybe your schedules don’t mesh well. He’s graduating in two months so he’s probably drowning in final projects and assignments,” Jungkook mentions loudly as he leaves the room.

 

 

 

“Hey Kookie!”

 

 

 

Jin calls for Jungkook, who had left to get his camera from his room.

 

 

 

Taehyung smacks his cheeks and puffs them out.

 

 

 

“I miss hanging out with him. It’s not the same as texting,” he mumbles.

 

 

 

When Jungkook enters the living room with his camera in hand, Jin starts asking him what poses he has in mind and Jungkook starts to position Jin’s feet the way he envisions them.

 

 

 

Taehyung lays back down on their hard wood floor and rests his head on his arm. It’s the closest thing to a pillow cushion he has right now and he’s too lazy to drag one off the couch.

 

 

 

“What are you guys doing anyways?”

 

 

 

Jin splays out his legs and wiggles his toes. Jungkook begins to take photos, switching angles and adjusting Jin’s feet again after he gets a few shots.

 

 

 

“Hyung asked me to help him take photos of his feet.”

 

 

 

Taehyung wrinkles his nose, “Ew, why?”

 

 

 

“Because you have to know your market to sell yourself correctly,” Jin states matter of factly.

 

 

 

Jungkook pauses his shooting.

 

 

 

“Why do you make it sound like you’re selling your body hyung.”

 

 

 

Jin cross his legs and points his toes. Jungkook resumes the photos.

 

 

 

“I’m not selling my body, I’m selling pictures of my body. That’s what modeling is. Your job is to sell something, and in my case it’s my fashion designs.”

 

 

 

“That doesn’t explain what you plan on doing with pictures of your feet though. Wait, Jimin mentioned this. I thought he was joking.”

 

 

 

Taehyung raises his eyebrows in disbelief and Jin hufts.

 

 

 

“Listen young padawan, why wouldn’t I take advantage of the foot fetish market and sell a few photos for some extra cash? People are willing to spend hundreds on a pair of nice feet.”

 

 

 

Taehyung’s eyes practically bulge out of their pockets, “Hundreds? Holy shit, sign me up!”

 

 

 

Taehyung scrambles up and pulls off his socks. He stares at his feet and he’s not going to lie—they look a little rough.

 

 

 

Jungkook peers over his shoulder at Taehyung’s feet and frowns.

 

 

 

“I highly doubt anyone wants pictures of your feet Taehyung. No offence, but they look like caveman feet. Like, when’s the last time you trimmed your toenails Tae?”

 

 

 

Taehyung snorts.

 

 

 

“Point taken. Can’t argue with that. I’ll hitch along with you the next time you get a pedicure hyung.”

 

 

 

Jin nods, “Sure thing. Though now that you mention it, how would you feel about joining a modeling gig with me? The theme is set for two people and I’d rather model with someone I know since it’s going to be an intimate photoshoot.”

 

 

 

“For what?” Jungkook asks.

 

 

 

“It’s for a perfume ad. I’ll split the commission with you of course. Plus we’ll get free bottles of them.”

 

 

 

Taehyung perks up. He’s seen Jin’s face scattered across magazines and on billboards around the city. He is a highly-demanded model so he makes bank. He doesn’t touch any of his family’s wealth because of it.

 

 

 

Taehyung has been curious about how photo-shoots worked. He considers it for a moment though, because watching and being in a photo-shoot are two separate experiences. First off, he can’t pose to save his life. He’s stiff and awkward around cameras.  Second of all, he can’t smile on command, which is why any photos of him have to be taken candid. If he tries to smile for a photo he looks constipated.

 

 

 

“I would like to hyung but I don’t have much confidence in front of a camera, or at all really.” Taehyung puts his socks back on and crosses his legs under him.

 

 

 

Jungkook takes a few last close ups of Jin’s toes and tells them he’s done. He returns the camera to his room and starts to put the lighting stands away. “Confidence isn’t a trait you’re born with Taehyung. It’s a trait you develop. I’ll teach you how to be more confident youngling.” Jin ruffles Taehyung’s hair. “So what do you say?”

 

 

 

Taehyung looks up at Jin’s smiling face. The blue of his silk robe is vibrant against his fair skin and his hair is still a bright blonde, which had to have been retouched recently. He wishes he could look that good. Maybe this’ll be his chance to prove himself.

 

 

 

“I’ll do it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Taehyung is in the middle of changing into his clothes after a warm bath when his phone dings with a notification alarm. He trudges over to his desk and picks up the charging phone. A smile overtakes his features at Yoongi’s message.

 

 

 

 

From Smol Hyung(10:13PM)

 

Hey Taehyung-ah, I have some spare time tomorrow if you want to grab lunch. We haven’t seen each other in a while.

 

 

 

 

To Smol Hyung (10:14PM):

 

Sure thing hyung! What time?

 

 

 

 

 

From Smol Hyung(10:17PM)

 

I can pick you up. Does 2pm work? I’ll be busy the rest of the day

 

 

 

To Smol Hyung (10:17PM):

 

I’ll be done with classes by then so that works!

 

 

 

From Smol Hyung(10:18PM)

 

Alright, see you soon

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung flops down onto the bed and cradles the phone to his chest. He feels like he’s walking on air knowing he’ll get to see Yoongi tomorrow. Sleep comes to him slowly that night, and he drifts off with a dopey grin plastered on his face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung wakes up extra early, eager to start the morning. He doesn’t usually wake up feeling refreshed but the prospect of today's events have him buzzing.

 

 

 

He stops by the dining hall for breakfast and sees Namjoon and Hoseok stuffing an egg sandwich into their mouths during what looks like an important discussion. Even from how far away he’s standing from their usual table he can tell it must be intense.

 

 

 

Taehyung heads to the breakfast bar line and grabs a plate of pancakes and bacon with a cup of fruit before walking back towards them. The discussion immediately dies down as he approaches the table.

 

 

 

“Hey Namjoon-hyung, hey Hobi,” Taehyung says as he pulls out a chair and plops himself down into it. “What are you guys talking about?”

 

 

 

Namjoon nods and smiles. “Hey Taehyung, we’re just going over our rap—” Namjoon falters at a hard kick to his shin. The table jostles and Taehyung questioningly looks between the two. It’s obvious Hoseok wanted Namjoon to shut his mouth but the odd behavior goes over Taehyung’s head.

 

 

 

“Oh we’re just talking about this and that, you know, college things.” Hoseok has never been a good liar.

 

 

 

Namjoon rubs his shin discreetly under the table and glares daggers at Hoseok. Taehyung takes a bite of fruit and raises an eyebrow. “Okay…anyways what have you been up to Hobi? Jimin says he barely sees you now and you guys literally live together.

 

 

 

Hoseok takes another bite of his sandwich and talks as he chews. “I’ve been around, here and there, you know, the usual.” He tries to be nonchalant but he’s failing terribly.

 

 

 

Namjoon slaps his forehead in aggravation. “Hoseok, don’t you have a meeting with a certain someone right about now? You know how he gets when you’re late.” Hoseok’s eyes widen comically and he snaps his head to the clock on the wall behind them.

 

 

 

“Oh fuck, I gotta go! See you guys later!” Hoseok grabs his trash and throws it in the bin as he sprints out of the dining hall.

 

 

 

Taehyung watches him flee and questioningly glances back at Namjoon. “What was that all about?”  He cuts into his pancakes and stuffs the pieces into his mouth until he looks like a chipmunk. He smacks his mouth loudly.

 

 

 

Namjoon sighs and rubs his eyes. “Just Hoseok being Hoseok.”

 

 

 

Taehyung snorts and takes a sip of his orange juice to wash down the pancakes. They are a little dry but his rumbling stomach does not protest. “What have you been up to hyung?”

 

 

 

Namjoon throws his arm behind his chair and leans back, casually sipping on his bottle of water. “I’m throwing some ideas around for what I want my undergrad thesis to be about. I wanted to get started on it early. Other than that I’ve been writing some lyrics. There’s a rap battle coming up soon. Not sure exactly when yet though.”

 

 

 

Taehyung claps his hands, “I’m so excited! I’ve been waiting for you to tell me there would be one soon!” Taehyung wiggles in his seat like an excited puppy and Namjoon's face warms with endearment at the sight.

 

 

 

The warmth on his face fades and it’s replaced by a more sullen expression. He studies Taehyung as he eats and his lips purse. Namjoon scoots forward in his seat a bit and checks around him to make sure there are not any close ears that can overhear their conversation.

 

 

 

“How are you doing? I haven’t had the chance to ask you face to face since we got back from our spring break trip, but how are you feeling about everyone knowing now?”

 

 

 

“Um, it’s a little intimidating to be honest. Everyone is still treating me the same though and I’m glad for that. No one’s really mentioned it at all and I don’t know whether that’s good or bad.”

 

 

 

Namjoon thinks for a second. “I don’t think they want to approach the subject unless you bring it up. They don’t want to force you into talking about it if you’re not comfortable with it.”

 

 

 

Taehyung finishes eating and pushes his tray to the side. He leans forward and places his elbows on the table and hunches over. “I guess…some days I feel perfectly fine. Like I’ve accepted it as part of who I am completely. But…there are days where I feel detached from the word “asexual”, even though I know I relate to the word completely.”

 

 

 

Namjoon reaches out across the table. Taehyung stares at the offered hand for a second. He drops his elbow and rests his palm into Namjoon’s open hand. Namjoon rubs his thumb over his knuckles, “That’s normal for anyone who comes to terms with who they are. I had a hard time telling myself I was gay even if I already knew I was attracted to other guys. It’ll take time to adjust. Some know right away and accept it easily, and others have a  harder time. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just know I’m here for you if you ever want to talk okay?”

 

 

 

Taehyung smiles softly. “I’m trying not to fight it anymore. I want to learn to love myself the way I am. I’m a work in progress. Thanks hyung, for everything.”

 

 

 

Namjoon reaches over to ruffle Taehyung’s hair and the two converse for a few more minutes. When the time nears for them to leave for their morning classes, they rise from their seats.  

 

 

 

“Oh wait, Taehyung! Are you coming over tomorrow night? Jin won’t be home but Jungkook said he would cook dinner.”

 

 

 

“Ah, sorry hyung. Jin-hyung invited me to do a photoshoot with him.” Namjoon looks a bit taken aback at the news. He was aware Jin had a photoshoot but Jin hadn’t mentioned Taehyung was in it too.

 

 

 

“Huh, interesting. Let me know how that goes!” Namjoon waves at him and turns to leave the dining hall. Taehyung leaves in the opposite direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of the day seems to go by achingly slow. Taehyung’s restless, counting down the hours until he gets to see Yoongi. As soon as his last class of the day ends, he rushes out the double doors and practically jogs all the way back to his dorm. The smile that lights up his face as his backpack bounces behind him only encourages him to go faster.

 

 

 

By the time he’s reached his room, he’s panting and sweating bullets. He immediately strips out of his sticky clothes and hops in the shower. The water cascades down his face and he see’s Yoongi’s silhouette behind his eyelids when he closes his eyes. His stomach flutters with excitement and he dresses somewhat casually, but forgoes the flared slacks he was wearing earlier. His jeans are black and ripped, and he wears a black v-neck. He styles his black hair and parts it to the side.

 

 

 

When his phone buzzes with a text from Yoongi saying he’s here, Taehyung’s heart is beating rapidly in his chest and the butterflies have turned into bumbling bees that are swarming his insides. He takes a steadying breathe before bounding through the dorm building's front door.

 

 

 

Yoongi is leaning against his car, observing the groups of college students chattering away as they walk by. Taehyung gasps and the sound catches Yoongi’s attention, who turns to look at him. Yoongi’s stoic face erupts into a small smile and Taehyung senses his soul leave his body at the sight in front of him.

 

 

 

It must be obvious how Taehyung’s eyes rake slowly over Yoongi, if the hint of a blush and the hand rubbing the back of his neck is anything to go by. But Taehyung is too busy dying over the black and tan flannel shirt that hangs off his wide shoulders, the plain black shirt peeking out from under it. He’s wearing a light wash of blue jeans, the usual rips at the knees and a few higher up on his thigh, his pretty skin peeking through them. His hair is swept back from his face and is topped with a tan hat. A white face mask is pushed down his chin but it looks like it’s supporting the weight of his fluffy cheeks.

 

 

 

Taehyung wants to run straight into those arms and never let go, but when he’s about to open his mouth to greet him, a different voice cuts him off. A voice he’s known since his youth but has steadily begun to grind down on his nerves.

 

 

 

 Taehyung’s eyebrow ticks when Hoseok’s head pops out of the rolled down window. “Are we going or what? I’m starving!”

 

 

 

Yoongi sighs heavily when he pushes himself off his car, “You’re so annoying.”

 

 

 

Hoseok flutters his eyelashes and frames his cheeks with his hands, “You know you love me.”

 

 

 

Taehyung’s happiness at spending time with Yoongi is dulled at the prospect of Hoseok’s company. It’s not like he hated Hoseok. Of course not, he’s one of his best friends, but he was looking forward to spending one on one time with Yoongi.

 

 

 

It seems like they’ve become a pair now, always stuck to each other’s sides. Taehyung chews on the inside of his cheek. What if they were dating? It would make sense with all the time they’ve been spending together.

 

 

 

The thought is devastating, and Taehyung has to shake his head to rid those thoughts and push them deep down as he gets into the passenger seat of Yoongi’s car. But as soon as he hears Yoongi reply to Hoseok with “debatable” in a teasing tone, the possibility of the two being in a relationship has increased ten-fold and a cold sadness coats his heart in an icky tar of jealousy.

 

 

 

“Sorry Taehyung-ah, Hoseok hasn’t left me alone all morning. When he heard I was getting lunch with you he invited himself along.” Yoongi buckles his seat and sets off to drive.

 

 

 

“Nah, Taehyung’s happy to see me! We didn’t get to talk much this morning over breakfast because SOMEONE would have killed me if I was late again.”

 

 

 

Yoongi and Hoseok banter back and forth, and Taehyung grows increasingly uncomfortable with their dynamic. Their laughs echo throughout the car, and Taehyung is displaced, like he’s the third wheel and not the other way around like Hoseok should be.

 

 

 

This ugliness he has in his heart has guilt settling into his bones. He shouldn’t be like this. If the two are together, he should be happy for his friends.

 

 

 

“You dyed your hair again.” Yoongi points out. They are stopped at a red light when Yoongi reaches out to pick up a strand of glossy black hair. “It suits you.”

 

 

 

Taehyung melts a little inside but their intimate moment is ruined when Hoseok intrudes saying he added some orange to his hair when he had it retouched so ‘where’s his compliment?!’. 

 

 

 

Taehyung sighs.

 

 

 

He wills himself to join in the ongoing banter though nothing ends up coming out of his mouth. He’s quiet as he observes the blur of buildings they drive by. Yoongi and Hoseok’s voices become a buzz of background noise. Taehyung’s eyes begin to water and he has to discreetly wipe them before any tears escape down his cheeks. He doesn’t know why he wants to cry. He’s happy for them. He is.

 

 

 

“Taehyung-ah? We’re here.” Yoongi nudges his thigh gently. Taehyung sniffles quietly and turns to look at him. Hoseok is already out of the car waiting patiently for the two to join him outside.

 

 

 

“Are you okay?” Yoongi’s voice is rather hoarse, full of concern. His eyes are scanning every inch of Taehyung’s face in an attempt to find the cause of Taehyung’s tears.

 

 

 

Taehyung clears his throat and wipes his eyes again. “Sorry, allergies. They’re really bad this time of year. I forgot to take some medicine before I left.” The lie comes out smoothly and Yoongi buys it easily.

 

 

 

“We can go to a pharmacy or gas station really quick if you want. I don’t mind.”

 

 

 

Taehyung shakes his head. “No, I’ll be okay, thank you though.”

 

 

 

The two finally get out of the car and Hoseok waves them over, “You guys are such slow pokes! I’m on the brink of death here. Can we pleaseeeee go eat now? My tummy has the rumblies that only subway can satisfy.”

 

 

 

Taehyung chuckles quietly and Yoongi rolls his eyes as the three enter the sandwich shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Um, so are you dropping Hobi off first or are you dropping me off first?” asks Taehyung once they return to the car. Hoseok had called out ‘shotgun!’ and left Taehyung grumbling as he got into the back seat of the car while Hoseok took the passenger seat.

 

 

 

“Nope, he’s not rid of me yet! I’ve had him all morning and I’ll have him all night too!” Hoseok pinches Yoongi’s cheek and lets out a boisterous laugh when Yoongi smacks his hand away with an annoyed glare.

 

 

 

“I see…” Taehyung drawls. Yoongi briefly looks into the rearview mirror at the sadness in Taehyung’s tone but Taehyung masks it quickly with a chirpy response.

 

 

 

“You can drop me off at Jimin’s then!” Taehyung bounces his leg up and down anxiously.

 

 

 

Hoseok glances at the clock. “Jiminie doesn’t get out of class for another hour. Here-” Hoseok reaches into his pocket and pulls a key off his keyring and twists in his seat to pass it to Taehyung. “I’m not going to need it anyway. I don’t think I’ll be home tonight, right?” He pokes Yoongi in the cheek and Yoongi snaps his jaw in hopes of biting Hoseok’s finger off.

 

 

 

“Hey watch it!” Hoseok clutches his finger to his chest.

 

 

 

When they arrive at Jimin and Hoseok’s dorms, Taehyung slides out of the car. Before he closes the door, he bends over to peer inside. “Thanks for treating us hyung.”

 

 

 

Yoongi shifts in his seat with sparkles in his eyes. “Anytime Taehyung-ah”. They don’t break eye contact at all, staring into each other’s eyes for a stretching moment in silence. Hoseok watches with amusement at the obliviousness between the two. Hoseok fake coughs into his hand and it snaps the tension between the two immediately.

 

 

 

 

“Right, well, see you later hyung. Bye Hobi.” He shuts the car door and proceeds to walk to the dorm entrance. Yoongi’s car doesn’t leave until Taehyung’s safely inside the building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung looks into the palm of his hand and curls his fingers around the brass ring. Hobi said he wouldn’t be back home tonight, and if he’s with Yoongi…does that mean they’re sleeping together? That black tar of jealousy from earlier has completely consumed his heart at the thought, but those feelings of jealousy are washed away by a strong tide of sadness. A sadness he can’t compare to anything else.

 

 

 

With a resigned sigh he drags his heavy body up the stairs and down the hall. When he slips into Jimin and Hoseok’s dorm, he glares angrily at Hoseok’s side of the room and throws himself into the arms of Jimin’s bed.

 

 

 

Taehyung had to have passed out as soon as his head hit the pillow because he wakes up to the sound of the door closing. Taehyung yawns and stretches his long legs.  

 

 

 

 

“Tae? What are you doing here?” Jimin says as he shuts his door. He shuffles across the room to his closet and starts to change.

 

 

 

 

“I think you’re right. Hoseok is dating someone.” This statement has Jimin freeze on the spot. He doesn’t turn around.

 

 

 

 

“But you said he wasn’t, that he was hanging out with friends.” Jimin’s posture tenses with each word that comes out of his mouth. Taehyung doesn’t see the tremble of Jimin’s fingers.

 

 

 

 

“He’s dating a friend. He’s dating Yoongi.” Jimin snaps his head to him.

 

 

 

 

“He WHAT?” The complete change in demeanor has Taehyung almost piss himself. Jimin is terrifying when he’s angry. It’s a rare occurrence, but when he's sparked, everything in his path erupts into flames.

 

 

 

 

“I-I just had lunch with them. Hobi said he wasn’t coming home tonight cause he’ll be with Yoongi all night.” The words coat Taehyung’s tongue with such wrongness that he has to spit out the last few words. “It’s obvious Hobi and Yoongi are sleeping together.”

 

 

 

Jimin’s eyebrows are pinched together, the lines of fury marring his forehead. There’s a flash of familiar sadness in his eyes but a burning flame of anger replaces it. “I’m going to kill him. I’m literally going to kill him!” Jimin’s hands curl into fists and he proceeds to shove his shoes back on.

 

 

 

“Wait, where are you going?” Taehyung asks. He’s lying in a nest of blankets on the bed. His hair is tousled and sticking up in all directions. His eyes are puffy like he’s been crying and the urge to protect fills Jimin to the brim.

 

 

 

“You can sleep here with me if you want. I’ll be right back. I forgot I had something to do.” Taehyung rises off the bed, head tilted to the side in confusion with what was happening. Jimin slams his dorm room shut and Taehyung flinches.

 

 

 

He stares at the door for a few minutes and shrugs. He pulls off his tight jeans and changes into Jimin’s spare pajamas. He grabs the toothbrush he keeps laying around here and heads down to the communal bathroom to brush his teeth. When he gets back to the room, he grabs Jimin’s earbuds that are in a tangled mess on his desk and spends about five minutes trying to untangle them. When he’s got them straightened out, he pulls out his SoundCloud, shuffles his playlist, and closes his eyes.

 

 

 

He clenches his eye tightly. He doesn’t want to think about how good the two looked together: Hobi’s red hair with Yoongi’s dark auburn. They’re playful with each other, constantly making each other laugh. Even though Yoongi is reserved and quiet, Hoseok brings out the best in him, has him smile and has him comfortable enough to be goofy.

 

 

 

He doesn’t want to imagine them. He doesn’t want to think about his two friends getting together. He doesn’t want to think about how Hoseok went home with Yoongi.  He doesn’t want to think about the two undressing each other. He doesn’t want to think about how they’re probably having sex right now, moaning each other’s names as they chase after their release. Taehyung feels bile rise in his throat.

 

 

 

He’s still the odd one out after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

______________________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jimin slams his dorm room shut behind him. He rests his back against it and wills the burning in his eyes to go away. He can’t cry right now. He can handle his own heartbreak later. The aura of sorrow radiating off Taehyung and the strain in his voice set Jimin off.

 

 

 

And with Yoongi! Yoongi of all people! How dare he. How dare he do this to Taehyung.

 

 

 

Jimin pushes himself off the door and stomps across the hall and down the stair well. He’s seething with rage and his knuckles tighten as he makes his way across town to Yoongi’s apartment. When he arrives, he doesn’t hold back as he smacks the door with all his strength. When there’s no answer, he starts yelling.

 

 

 

“I swear to god Hoseok if you don’t open up I am going to kick this fucking door down!”

 

 

 

Jimin taps his foot impatiently. When there’s still no answer Jimin thinks for a moment. The Studio.

 

 

 

Jimin’s frustration continues to bubble as he finds an uber to drive him back towards campus. He slams the door shut on arrival and sprints towards the music building. He can feel the ache in his muscles but he’s so high on his anger that he ignores the exhaustion. When he enters the building, he heads straight for the lobby desk.

 

 

 

The woman looks up from her computer with a warm smile but when she sees Jimin’s expression she cowers. “How may I hel-“

 

 

 

Jimin slams his hands onto the desk as he pants heavily. “Min Yoongi. What studio is Min Yoongi in?”

 

 

 

“I can’t just give you that information—”

 

 

 

“I’m meeting him for a writing assignment for my music class,” Jimin lies.

 

 

 

“Oh, if that’s the case then he’s in the basement, Studio 32C.”

 

 

 

Jimin breathes out a faint thank you and speed walks to the stairwell. He takes the steps two at a time on his descent and jumps to the ground, taking off into another sprint. He’s been down here before, a few times actually, but all the studios look the same so it’s like a maze trying to find the right one.

 

 

 

When Jimin spots “32C” in thick blocked letters on a door plaque, he’s so ticked off at having to run around town trying to find them that he vents his frustrations with heavy pounding on the door. There’s a shuffle of noise and a groan of irritation at their interruption. The voice grows louder as the person nears the door. The studio door cracks open and Yoongi sticks his head out at the intrusion.

 

 

 

“Jim-?“ Jimin hastily pushes Yoongi out of the way.

 

 

 

 

“Sorry hyung,” he says as he all but shoves his way into the small studio until his eyes spot Hoseok sitting on the red couch.

 

 

 

 

“You motherfucker!” Jimin yells as he lunges at Hoseok.

 

 

 

 

Hoseok screams when he looks up from his scribbled notepad and sees Jimin’s angry expression before he’s pinned to the couch.

 

 

 

 

“How could you do that to him?! What the fuck Hoseok!” Jimin snarls.

 

 

 

 

Hoseok’s eyes furrow in confusion as he struggles to get out of Jimin’s hold. “What are you talking about?”

 

 

 

He kicks his legs in an attempt to push Jimin off but those thighs are locked around his lap. Hoseok has had dreams about scenarios like this but he can’t think recall them because he never planned for it to go quite like this with Jimin blabbering on about things that don’t make sense with so much anguish that he starts to cry.

 

 

 

 

“Jiminie, what’s wrong?” Panic fills his voice. He still can’t move, but there are drops of tears falling onto his face. Jimin looks so pained and he doesn’t understand why.

 

 

 

 

“Uhhh, I’m going to grab a cup of coffee, I’ll be right back.” Yoongi high tails it out of there, not knowing what was happening but understanding enough to give the two some privacy.

 

 

 

 

When the studio door clicks shut, Jimin collapses on top of Hoseok and lets the sobs wreck through his body. “How could you do this to our best friend? When he’s already been through so much?”

 

 

 

 

Hoseok still doesn’t know what Jimin’s talking about, but he wraps his arms around him and presses their bodies together as they sink into the couch. “Jimin, please, I don’t know what you are saying. Please explain.”

 

 

 

 

Jimin wipes the tears from his eyes and glares down at Hoseok when he sits back up. “You and Yoongi.”

 

 

 

 

Hoseok gets onto his elbows, Jimin still crouching over him. “What about us?”

 

 

 

 

Jimin sobs. “Why are you dating him? Is it just for sex? How could you do that to Taehyung when it’s obvious how those two feel about each other? How could you do that to your best friend?”

 

 

 

 

Hoseok’s dumbfound at the accusation. He has to poke a finger into his ear and make sure there’s no earwax build up so that he’s hearing this correctly. “Wait, are you implying that Yoongi and I are fucking? What in the actual fuck?”

 

 

 

 

Jimin scoots off of Hoseok’s lap and the two adjust themselves so that they’re facing each other.

 

 

 

“There are so many things wrong with that statement so let me clarify this quickly. First of all, I would NEVER, EVER intentionally hurt Taehyung. ESPECIALLY knowing he likes Yoongi even if he’s not fully aware of it himself. Second of all, Yoongi of all people? Really? I’m not the one who had a crush on him when we first met! You did.”

 

 

 

Jimin’s tears stop as Hoseok goes on a rant. He can’t even rebut because he did crush on Yoongi at first. But that went away once they all became close friends.

 

 

 

 But if Hoseok and Yoongi aren’t together, then why are they spending so much time with each other? And why did he say he wouldn’t be coming home if he’s with Yoongi?

 

 

 

Jimin’s lingering questions are answered by the time Hoseok ends his rant. “I asked Yoongi to help me with something, and that’s it. There’s no sexual connotation to it, and there’s no budding romance between us. It’s completely platonic. I’m assuming Taehyung mentioned that I wasn’t coming home tonight? That’s because Yoongi and I are going to be here all night finishing up what he’s helping me with. That’s it.”

 

 

 

Jimin flushes red with embarrassment at the misunderstanding. “I’m sorry. I thought—”

 

 

 

Hoseok’s eyes droop with disappointment and a pang of guilt strikes Jimin’s heart. “I’m hurt that you think I would do something like that to Taehyung, or to any of our friends for that matter.”

 

 

 

Jimin’s eyes well up with tears again. “I’m so sorry Hobi.” His voice cracks and he wraps his arms around Hoseok.

 

 

 

“I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions. I should have talked to you first, but I have rarely seen you aside from dance class and our club and we’re too busy either choreographing or leading practice to talk about anything else and I saw how heartbroken Taehyung looked again and I flashed back to how empty he was when Bogum and him broke up that I snapped-”

 

 

 

“Breathe Jiminie,” Hoseok instructs and Jimin stops rambling and inhales a breath. Hoseok rubs his back and rests his forehead against Jimin’s. “I know how protective you are of Taehyung. I get it. It’s okay.”

 

 

 

Jimin apologizes one more time and digs his face into the crook of Hoseok’s neck. Hoseok pets Jimin’s hair with affection, peppering kisses on his temple. “It was a misunderstanding, we’re okay,” Hoseok coos, “I would done the same thing.”

 

 

 

They hold onto each other tightly, each basking in the warmth of their bodies pressed together in a hug. When they hear the studio door crack open they pull apart. Yoongi peeks an eye in to inspect the situation and breathes a sigh of relief seeing the two have made up.

 

 

 

“I hope you guys settled whatever that was.” Yoongi sips his coffee and makes his way back over to his desk and places the cup on the table while he gets himself comfortable in his black chair.

 

 

 

Jimin nods. “We did. It was all a huge misunderstanding.”

 

 

 

Yoongi hufts. “Good. It’s bad to leave issues unresolved. Being honest and talking to one another is extremely important. Communication is key.”

 

 

 

“Yeah, you’re right hyung.”

 

 

 

Jimin leans into Hoseok on the couch and flutters his eyelashes sweetly up at him. “So….. can I see what you two are working on? Pretty please?”

 

 

 

Jimin’s face is way too close for comfort and Hoseok has to scoot to the side as a rosy blush stains his cheeks. “No can do Jiminie. It’s a surprise.”

 

 

 

Hoseok avoids making eye contact with Jimin because he knows by the sound of his voice that Jimin is pouting. Hoseok caves and makes the mistake of glancing back at him, having to physically restrain himself from leaning over and kissing those plush lips silly. He has to wait. He has been planning this confession for way too long to slip up now. “You’ll see it soon, don’t worry.”

 

 

 

Jimin puffs out his cheeks and crosses his arms. “Fine, fine. I guess I’ll leave you to it. I have to get back to Taehyung anyways.”

 

 

 

With a ‘hmph’ he exits the studio with his head held high. “Bye Yoongi-hyung! Hobi you better come home tomorrow!” he says before the door shuts.

 

 

 

Yoongi spins the chair towards the couch. “So what was that all about?”

 

 

 

Hoseok shakes his head, “It’s nothing.”

 

 

 

Yoongi narrows his eyes in suspicion. “Righttt. Well then, shall we finish the lyrics? I got a text from Namjoon saying that the upcoming rap battle is officially set for next Friday. If we want to get this done, we’ll probably have to pull an all nighter tonight and spend the rest of the week practicing our verses.”

 

 

 

Hoseok gives him a thumbs up, lips curled in a heart-shaped smile. “I figured. Let’s get this bread.”

 

 

 

Yoongi’s deep chuckle resonates in his chest as he spins back around to his computer to finish the track. “You’re starting to sound like Jungkook.”

 

 

 

 

 

___________________________________________

 

 

 

 

 

When Taehyung wakes up, his phone is completely dead and an ear bud is still plugged into one ear. He yawns into his hand and sits up. He twists himself to one side and cracks his back. He does the same to the other before stretching out his legs and touching his toes.

 

 

 

The cracking of limbs stirs Jimin awake, who was cuddling Hoseok’s pillow to his chest on his bed. Jimin doesn’t want to admit to anyone quite yet that he secretly loves the way Hoseok smells, and will use any excuse in the book to sleep next to him or in his bed. And maybe he has been in love with Hoseok since the beginning of high school but that itty bitty detail can be addressed later on. He’s pretty sure the feelings aren’t mutual or else he and Hoseok would have gotten together a long time ago. He hasn’t tried to confess, too scared of ruining their friendship, so he bounced from boy to boy and relationship to relationship in the attempts of moving on. Clearly it never worked or else he wouldn’t be single.

 

 

 

When he got back to the dorm Taehyung was already passed out asleep and he didn’t want to wake him. When Jimin recalls what went down yesterday, the sleep weighing his body down into the mattress slips away and he throws the covers off. Taehyung still thinks Hoseok and Yoongi are together!

 

 

 

Jimin wipes the crusted drool from the corner of his lips and practically yells, “They’re not together! Hoseok and Yoongi aren’t together, they’re just working on a secret project!”

 

 

 

 

Taehyung pauses, blinks slowly, licks his dry lips and swallows. “That sounds like a code-word for a secret relationship.”

 

 

 

 

“I promise you it’s not. You know Hoseok can’t lie worth shit.”

 

 

 

 

Taehyung lets that information sink in, and he can’t explain why his body relaxes in relief. “Oh, that’s great then!”

 

 

 

 

Taehyung flashes Jimin that sweet boxy smile of his, cheeks scrunched up and eyes squinted shut with cheerfulness. Jimin can’t help but whine with adoration and tackles Taehyung to bed, cuddling him near suffocation. Taehyung laughs and smacks Jimin’s back as he struggles to push him off. They collapse into a fit of giggles after the struggle turns into a wrestling match.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two soulmates spend a majority of the day lounging in the dorm, soaking in every moment of pure and utter laziness. They binge watch the first two seasons of Friends, and before you know it, a fervent knock on the door has them scrambling to put pants on. (Who actually wears pants when they’re lounging in their room? That is a sin. We lounge in our undies in this household.)

 

 

 

Jimin opens the door and Jin bursts in.

 

 

 

Taehyung stares at Jin who stares right back with a face that tells him he must be forgetting something. Then it hits him. “THE PHOTOSHOOT OH MY GOD!”

 

 

 

Taehyung scrambles to gather his things and in the meantime, Jin explains to Jimin, “He’s supposed to be in a photo-shoot with me today, and I’ve been calling him all morning cause I had some things I wanted to go over with him first. Jungkook told me he would most likely be here if he wasn’t with Yoongi.”

 

 

 

Jimin perks up at the mention of a photoshoot. His eyes are sparkling, and he stands on his tippy toes, hands clasped together in a wordless plea.

 

 

 

Jin shrugs. “Sure.”

 

 

 

 Jimin hollers a ‘whoop whoop’ and grabs a few necessities after he changes out of his pajamas. When the two are ready, they trail after Jin like excited children.

 

 

 

Jin herds the younger two into his car and drives off to the filming location.

 

 

 

“Sorry I didn’t answer hyung. My phone’s completely dead and I haven’t gone back to my dorm yet to charge it. I had an impromptu sleep over at Jimin’s.”

 

 

 

Jin looks into the rearview mirror. Jimin and Taehyung are practically bouncing in their seat. “It’s fine; we still have a few hours before the photo-shoot actually starts. I just wanted to give you a few pointers and advice ahead of time.”

 

 

 

Taehyung nods. “I’ll need all the help I can get hyung.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s only a twenty-minute drive to the location, and it’s not outdoors like Taehyung expected it would be. Jin parks the car in a fancy looking underground parking lot. They take an elevator all the way up the building.

 

 

 

The elevator walls are clear, so when they pass the first floor they have a perfect view of the ocean. The sun is inching closer to the horizon but they still have a couple hours until the sun leaves them completely. Taehyung assumes they must be shooting at sunset.

 

 

 

“By the way hyung, I never did ask. What’s the theme for the photoshoot?” Taehyung has his face pressed against the glass, eyes scanning the distancing streets below. The elevator chimes and Taehyung briefly looks at the digital count on the elevator. They just passed Level 20.

 

 

 

Jin smirks mischievously. “Unrequited love.”

 

 

 

Jimin gasps and throws a hand over his mouth to stifle the sound. He and Jin make eye contact and Jimin nods his head in disbelief.

 

 

 

Taehyung blinks a few times, “Unrequited love ey?” His hands are pressed firmly against the glass.

 

 

 

Part of him wonders if it’d hurt to fall from this height. The other part of him punches that thought in the throat.

 

 

 

Taehyung takes a step back from the glass and returns his attention to the looming streets below. They’re so high up the cars look like tiny ants slowly crawling down the streets. Taehyung mouths the word ‘unrequited’ silently, lost in thought.

 

 

 

When the elevator door opens, it’s not to a dingy hallway like most high rises. The elevator immediately opens up to a pent-house suite.

 

 

 

“Woah,” Jimin spins to try to take in every inch of detail.

 

 

 

The friends shuffle into the room and Jin nods in appreciation at the modern taste in décor. It’s minimal but elegant. The tiled floors are a white marble with swirls of a sandy brown. There’s an L-shaped beige couch separating the living room from the kitchen.

 

 

 

The suite is extremely open, with high ceilings and light fixtures that hang down in cylindrical shapes. There’s a large TV mounted against the wall opposite of the couch. The kitchen is visible from where they’re standing, white granite counter tops by the looks of it and grey stainless-steel appliances.

 

 

 

Taehyung lets out a long whistle when he walks up to the tall floor-to-ceiling- windows across the room. The curtains are pushed away, giving them a perfect view of the whole city and the sparkling blue ocean beyond it.

 

 

 

Jimin squeals, “This is gorgeous Jin-hyung! Oh my god is this where you’re shooting?” Jimin sets out to explore every nook and cranny of the penthouse while Jin sits down on the couch, patting the seat next to him for Taehyung to sit with him.

 

 

 

Taehyung slowly makes his way over to the couch, eyes wide and awed at how expensive it must be to live here and how rich you’d have to be to afford it.

 

 

 

They hear Jimin yell from down the hallway, “You guys are shooting in the bedroom, they already have all the equipment and lighting set up!!”

 

 

 

Taehyung’s nerves start to make him antsy. His leg begins to bounce up and down and he starts to chew on his nails.

 

 

 

 “Hey, none of that.” Jin reaches his hand out and lowers Taehyung’s hand from his mouth. He moves his hand down to his knee and gives it a reassuring squeeze. “Relax.”

 

 

 

Taehyung closes his eyes and takes a steadying breath. “Sorry I’m nervous. I’m so bad at posing for photos.”

 

 

 

Jin sits back into the couch and angles his body to face Taehyung. He folds one of his legs under his thigh, making himself comfortable. “And why is that?”

 

 

 

“I don’t know, I feel so awkward. I end up looking hideous in them.”

 

 

 

Jin tsks. “Wrong. You are drop dead gorgeous Taehyung. I don’t think you’re even aware of how beautiful you are, both inside and out.”

 

 

 

Taehyung awkwardly fumbles with his t-shirt. “No, I’m really not.”

 

 

 

“See? This is exactly my point. You’re too hard on yourself. You are one of the most gorgeous human beings I have ever laid my eyes on.” Jin points a finger at Taehyung like it’s a sword that he’s ready to stab into his gut if he tries to argue back.

 

 

 

“Have you seen yourself? You’re more handsome than I am.” Taehyung pouts.

 

 

 

Jin smacks Taehyung’s thigh and the younger hisses at the sting, rubbing the area to soothe the burn. “That’s the difference between you and I. I’m aware I’m gorgeous, and I flaunt it. I’m proud of who I am. I have faults and imperfections too; I’m human just like everyone else, but I’m proud to be me because I know I’m the only version of myself to ever exist. Look, can I tell you a secret?”

 

 

 

Taehyung nods and Jin continues. Jimin is still exploring the penthouse. “When I first met you, I instantly thought you were cute. I had a crush on you for like a week.”

 

 

 

Taehyung blushes furiously at the admission. “Wait, you WHAT?!” He sounds so scandalized.

 

 

 

Jin rolls his eyes. “Relax, I’m not crushing on you anymore. You were just such a cutie pie. Besides, you’re way too good of a friend for me to see you any other way. But that’s not the point. My point is, you have an aura that pulls people into your orbit. You’re bubbly and charming and full of positivity. Even when you were going through such a hard time, you did everything you could to keep a smile on your face. You are so incredibly strong and you deserve to hear every day how wonderful you are. You don’t deserve anything less.”

 

 

 

Taehyung bites his lip and shyly peeks up from under his bangs. “Do you really mean that?”

 

 

 

Jin leans back against the couch, his monologue leaving him a bit breathless. “Of course. You’ve become one of my closest friends. I want you to be happy.”

 

 

 

The heartwarming moment between the two is interrupted by Jimin prancing back into the living room, a staff of six people in tow. “They’re ready to start makeup and styling!”

 

 

 

Jin looks down at his watch. They’ve been talking for over an hour. “Have you been dawdling around the penthouse for a whole hour?”

 

 

 

Jimin waves off the question, “Nah, I heard you guys in the middle of a conversation so I went down to the lobby to get some coffee and bumped into the staff on the way back up.” Jimin claps his hands together as if he’s the one in charge of getting the two ready for their shoot. “Up now, chop chop! No time to waste!”

 

 

 

Taehyung is pulled into one of the bathrooms and two of the staff get right to it.

 

 

 

He’s sat on a chair and he closes his eyes as the makeup artist covers any imperfections on his face. She adds some dark eye-shadow to the corners of his eyes, blending it out with a fluffy brush. She applies some peach blush to his skin and adds a nude gloss on his lips.

 

 

 

Then they move onto his hair. Taehyung doesn’t open his look in the mirror until they tell him they’re done with hair and makeup.

 

 

 

When he opens his eyes, a gasp leaves his lips. His sleek black hair is slightly curled inwards at the ends, and a small part on the side exposes a section of his forehead. He remembers what Jin told him. He needs to be confident in his own skin. He checks himself out in the mirror and can’t help but smirk at his reflection.

 

 

 

When he’s changed into his wardrobe, his confidence from earlier has diminished into shyness. The stylist made him shave his legs (which he did not mind until they told him he wouldn’t be wearing pants in the shoot).

 

 

 

Taehyung steps out of the bathroom and Jin and Jimin are sitting on stools in the kitchen, munching on some snacks laid out by the staff. The creak of the door catches Jimin's attention and he glances over to the source. Jimin freezes and the pretzel he had half-way into his mouth clatters to the floor and shatters into smaller pieces on impact. 

 

 

 

Jimin’s eyes bulge out of his head and he stares at Taehyung like he’s a total stranger. Jin raises an eyebrow at Jimin’s robotic movements and leans backward to see what has him so ruffled. He was taking a sip of water but he chokes at the sight of Taehyung and water spurts out of his nose.

 

 

 

The staff scramble to get napkins while Jin’s coughing and smacking his chest to cough up any water that went down the wrong pipe. He wipes his mouth with his arm, effectively wiping off the lip gloss they applied on him. One of the staff wobbles over and pulls the lip gloss out again and reapplies it to his lips. Jin smacks his lips together and returns to look at Taehyung.

 

 

 

Taehyung is growing redder by the minute. The staff is bustling around them and they’re fairly loud but Taehyung feels pinned down by his friends stares. “Do I look weird or something?”

 

 

 

“Oh honey…it’s the opposite. You look angelic. If I wasn’t your best friend and soulmate already I would be on a knee proposing, begging for the chance to romance you for eternity.” Jimin sighs dreamily. “You look sooooo drop dead gorgeous Tae!”

 

 

 

Taehyung looks down at his simple outfit. They dressed him in a long white dress shirt that covers him mid-thigh. (He’s wearing black briefs underneath). The top of the shirt is unbuttoned, part of his upper chest and collarbones on display. A fluffy pink feather boa is wrapped around his neck and one end hangs loosely in front while the other hangs against his back. His delicate wrists are adorned with layers of golden bracelets, and he has a few layered necklaces accenting his neck as well. A simple charmed bracelet frames his delicate ankle.

 

 

 

Jin rises from the stool when the camera man beckons them to the bedroom. Jin sticks out an elbow and waits for Taehyung to wrap his arm around it. “Shall we? Remember what I told you. You’re gorgeous, inside AND out. Pretend you’re a god among mortals. Your beauty is to be worshipped.”

 

 

 

Taehyung laughs into the cup of his palm. “You've told me that before hyung. You're so cheesy!”

 

 

 

 

Jin laughs. “It may be, but it works every time.”

 

 

 

 

Jimin follows behind them, tail wagging eagerly to see how this photo-shoot goes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We’re going to take some individual shots first and then some of you two together. The theme is unrequited love, so you’ll need to think about something you’re longing for. It could be a person, or it could be a piece of fried chicken. Doesn’t matter. I just need to see the yearning in your eyes and your heart on your sleeve. Got it?” The camera man directs the excess staff out of the room so he can concentrate.  “Who’s up first?”

 

 

 

Taehyung gulps nervously.

 

 

 

Jin shoots him a wink, “Watch me, and then try to mimic what I do. Remember what I told you.”

 

 

 

Jimin tucks himself into the corner of the room so he doesn’t get in the way of the cameraman nor end up in the shot. He’s centered well enough to see the photo-shoot perfectly.

 

 

 

He watches Jin with sharp interest, who’s currently splayed on top of the bed. He’s wearing an outfit similar to Taehyung, but it’s a royal blue blouse. The shirt sits differently on his frame with his broad shoulders and his narrow waist. He doesn’t have a feather boa, but he does have matching stacking necklaces.

 

 

 

His shirt is unbuttoned down to his belly button, but only a fraction of his toned stomach peeks through the gap. His blonde hair is curled and wavy, and falls around his head like a halo. The cameraman has him posing with his arms splayed out. The sunlight coming in through the window casts a shadow from his arms, and the shadows themselves look like his wings.

 

 

 

Taehyung walks over and sits next to Jimin. His eyes glaze over in admiration. “Woah, hyung’s so professional. He’s god-tier I tell you.”

 

 

 

Jin breaks his pose and lifts his head off the bed, “I heard that and I agree whole-heartedly.”

 

 

 

Jimin and Taehyung chuckle between them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jin’s session is over in the blink of an eye because before he knows it, Taehyung is being told to pose this way and that way. His movements are incredibly stiff, not natural the way Jin's were.

 

 

 

The cameraman sighs in frustration. “You’re too rigid. Relax a little! And your facial expressions are too forced.”

 

 

 

This goes on for a few minutes, the cameraman growing more agitated by the minute and Taehyung desperately trying to correct himself the best way he can. He tries to think of Bogum, to stir up any lingering feelings of love that he had for him, but those feelings are long gone and have been way before they ever broke up. He tries to think back to when they first met but it’s all blurry, his mind fading most of those memories as a way of self-preservation.

 

 

 

Jimin notices the way Taehyung is struggling, and a light bulb flickers above his head. He leans in to whisper into Jin’s ear. Jin nods and approaches one of the staff members, passing the request along the staffing chain until it reaches the photographer’s ear. “Okay, We’ll take a 5 minute break. We’re losing sunlight so we have to make this quick.”

 

 

 

Taehyung’s body slackens as he drags his feet across the carpet away from the window and toward the bed. He sits on it and sighs, rolling one of his shoulders. “Who knew modeling could be so exhausting.”

 

 

 

The bed dips as another body sits next to him. “It can be, but you’re tired cause you’re so tense. You’re practically contracting every muscle in your body with how stiff you are.”

 

 

 

Taehyung sullens.

 

 

 

Jin runs a hand up and down Taehyung’s back. “Don’t worry, we have a little something we think will help you loosen up a little.”

 

 

 

 

A familiar beat begins to resound through the entire penthouse. Taehyung’s eyes close when that soothing voice fills the room. “Ah I love SUGA. How’d you guys know he was my favorite artist?”

 

 

 

Jimin comes up behind them and sticks his head between them. “Oh, just a little hunch. We figured you would since a certain someone sings this.”

 

 

 

Taehyung snaps his eyes open. “Wait, you guys know who SUGA is?” Taehyung is practically bursting at the seams, excitement gleaming like pearls in his eyes.

 

 

 

Jin and Jimin look at each other briefly in confusion. “Wait, he hasn’t told you?” Jimin says it with hesitance, like he’s scared of revealing a secret that isn’t his to share.

 

 

 

“No? Why does everyone expect me to know who he is. Jungkook said the same thing. Is he a student on campus or something? Cause if he is, I need you to introduce us stat so we can meet, fall in love and I can have his babies.”

 

 

 

“Once again, you can’t get another guy pregnant Taehyung.” Jimin says with exasperation.

 

 

 

Taehyung narrows his eyes at the two, “Watch me.”

 

 

 

He clicks his tongue. “Like I said, you better introduce us. Now please give me some time alone. I need to refocus and get back into the zone to finish my photos. I need time to think of my unrequited love for SUGA to get me through this shoot.”

 

 

 

Jin has to bite his tongue to keep from laughing at the irony in that statement. “Right, well maybe you’ll meet him soon. We’ve all met him at least once so it’s bound to happen to you soon too.” (Well that’s not exactly a lie is it? In the span of their friendship they’ve all hung out with Yoongi at least once.)

 

 

 

Jin and Jimin leave Taehyung to have the last minute of his five minute break alone. As ‘Seesaw’ finishes playing in the background, the song shuffling to ‘First Love’ right after the cameraman walks in, Taehyung lets his love for the artist and his music flow through him.

 

 

 

The photographer is surprised at the dynamic change in Taehyung. The sounds of camera shutters going off repeatedly without pause is evident enough at how well the rest of the shooting goes. Even Jin and Jimin, who have returned to the corner, stare in awe at the vulnerability and love in Taehyung’s eyes when he stares deeply into the camera.

 

 

 

The camera shutters are drowned out by the music in his mind, the passion and emotion from SUGA’s voice coursing through every single vein in Taehyung’s body.

 

 

 

He lets the raspy voice soothe him, eyes half-lidded as the cameraman drops praise after praise over the sultry stares Taehyung feeds the camera. When the cameraman shouts for Jin to join in for the next set of shots, the orange sun is filtering in through the glass windows. The sun has nearly set, but there’s enough light left to cast a golden glow across the two as they pose together.

 

 

 

SUGA’s voice continues to drift throughout the room and Taehyung is nearly drunk on the emotions that SUGA makes him feel. He tries to envision what he could look like. Maybe black hair? Or platinum? The image is too fuzzy. He lets the music swirl through his mind and surge into his swelling heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He’s not exactly sure when the blurry image of what he pictures SUGA to look like sharpens. The blur of a silhouette is replaced with dark auburn hair, silky and smooth as it falls across a hazy face. His hands itch to run his fingers through them. The figure’s skin appears to be snow white, fair and beautiful, all joints a flushed pink. Taehyung wants to kiss every spot.

 

 

 

Then the figure’s outfit clarifies, someone who is sporting a pair of light blue ripped jeans and a black v-neck shirt. There’s a silver watch adorning his wrist, and a few silver rings decorating his fingers. His shoes are black too. He must have a thing for dark clothing.

 

 

 

The figure’s face is the last to become recognizable. Rosy cheeks and pouty lips that look so soft and kissable. A cute button nose centered on his face. Dark eyebrows that frame sharp eyes and a pretty forehead.

 

 

 

The eyes are the most captivating part of him. They’re so dark, like black gems, shiny and full of hidden secrets. He wants to know every single one of them. Wants to know his past, his present and his future, wants to hear more of his dreams. Those eyes are slightly angular, with black eyelashes that fan against his cheeks when he closes them. Taehyung wants so badly to hold him in his arms and smooch each eyelid.

 

 

 

A familiar voice calls out to him, "Taehyung-ah."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Taehyung? Taehyung!” Taehyung is shook out of his reverie. The cameraman is packing his camera and equipment, the rest of the staff clearing the room. “You have a really bad habit of zoning out. C’mon! We’re done. It’s time to go home.”

 

 

 

Taehyung blinks and gazes out at the sky. The sun has completely set. “We’re done? Already?”

 

 

 

“What do you mean ‘already’? We’ve done these shots together for over 30 minutes!” Jin hooks his arm around Taehyung’s and drags him out of the room.

 

 

 

Jimin’s eyes are like tiny crescents as he snickers. “You’re such a natural when you’re zoned out Taehyung. What were you thinking about? Or should I say who?”

 

 

 

Taehyung’s cheeks burn. It almost matches the dusty pink of the feather boa still on his neck.

 

 

 

Jimin waggles his eyebrows, “Maybe someone whose name starts with Y and ends with ‘oongi.’” Taehyung smacks Jimin hard on the shoulder. He ignores him and trails after Jin as they take the elevator back down to the parking garage.

 

 

 

“I don’t have a crush on Yoongi,” Taehyung mumbles.

 

 

 

Jin and Jimin share a smirk but say nothing.

 

 

 

The ride down the elevator is silent, the exhaustion from the day’s events settling in their bones. The sparkling blue from earlier is now a sea of blackness that merges with the dark night sky. The moon is a waxing gibbous, nearly full. It looks so lonely in the sky. Taehyung feels a pang in his heart, a soulful yearning when he see's the sparkling stars behind it. 

 

 

 

The elevator dings when they reach the basement and the doors slide open. The trio is silent again, but it doesn't last for long when Taehyung speaks up.

 

 

 

“So…..are we keeping these clothes?” Taehyung asks nonchalantly as he waddles after Jin and Jimin towards the car.

 

 

 

“Wait hyung! But it’s gucci!” he shouts as they get into the car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung’s sitting in class trying to take notes when a random thought bursts into the forefront of his mind and escapes his lips without a second thought, “Wait, does that mean he’s single?”

 

 

 

The entire lecture hall turns to look at the source of the question. Taehyung slides his body down his seat in shame as 100+ students break into fits of laughter. The professor tries to hold back a laugh but it comes out in wheezy breaths.

 

 

 

“I’m not sure how Mozart’s relationship status at the time correlates to our current lesson but perhaps we can dive into his sexuality and how it affected his composition pieces next lecture.” All the students in his classical music history class burst into harder hiccups of laughter and Taehyung groans as he drops his head against the cool desk.

 

 

 

His friend Ae-Cha sitting next to him pats him on the back sympathetically. “There, there.”

 

 

 

Taehyung doesn’t know why this question popped into his mind, but for some reason his thoughts drift to Yoongi for the rest of the period, his professor’s lecture floating through one ear and out the other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s the following day after his embarrassing outburst during class that he’s monopolized the far corner desk on the second floor of the library. He’s nose deep into his readings, peeved that he let himself get distracted when he has a test coming up so soon.

 

 

 

He’s hastily scribbling notes in a purple ink pen when he feels a gentle tap on his shoulder. An iced drink appears from over his shoulder and is placed directly in front of him. He blinks at the drink and senses the person walk around him and plop himself into the seat across the table. The iced americano in his hand is a dead giveaway. Taehyung isn’t sure why he suddenly feels so shy but he can’t even bring himself to look up at his friend’s face.

 

 

 

“What are you working on?” the rumbling voice says.

 

 

 

Taehyung feels his throat dry and he reaches over to take a sip of what he now knows is an iced peach flavored green tea. His favorite. His heart does loop de loops at the sweet gesture.

 

 

 

He keeps his eyes focused on the center of the table. “Just some classical history. I got a bit behind yesterday so I’m trying to catch up. I have a test on Monday.”

 

 

 

Yoongi hums. Taehyung sees him place his drink down on the table from his peripheral, but he doesn’t dare make eye contact. Every cell in his body is buzzing with an emotion he can’t quite place. It’s not until two cold fingers hold his chin and forces his head up that he finally looks into Yoongi’s eyes.

 

 

 

“You okay?”

 

 

 

 

Taehyung squeaks and propels himself back too quickly that his chair topples backwards. Yoongi’s reflexes are fast and he reaches over the table to grab Taehyung’s arm, which pulls him forward.

 

 

 

The chair clatters to the ground but Taehyung remains upright, his face only inches away from Yoongi’s and his eyes can’t help but flicker down to his lips. Yoongi wets his lips and Taehyung’s eyes follow the path of his tongue.

 

 

 

 When Taehyung snaps out of it, he awkwardly laughs. It sounds way too forced. “Oh, ha ha clumsy me, sorry hyung. Um, I have to, um you know, ugh study stuff, cause, well yeah ha ha.”

 

 

 

Taehyung quickly packs his things up and Yoongi stares with a hint of amusement on his features at how strange and jerky Taehyung is acting. The elder is used to Taehyung’s odd behaviors and tendencies so he doesn’t read too deeply into their meaning. “No problem Taehyung-ah, I have to go meet with Hoseok and Joon at the studio anyways. See you later, yeah?”

 

 

 

Yoongi grabs his coffee, shoots Taehyung a smile, and promptly leaves. Taehyung stares after him, an unplaceable longing buzzing underneath his skin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next time Taehyung sees Yoongi, it’s when they’re all gathered at Namjoon and Jin’s for dinner. Namjoon announces that the rap battle is set for this upcoming Friday night. The table cheers when Namjoon says he and Yoongi will be performing with someone new. Jungkook and Jimin start to gossip over who they think it could be, and Hoseok hides his smirk behind his glass of soda. Taehyung is actively avoiding Yoongi’s eyes and decides to start a conversation with Namjoon about his opinion on the current climate crisis, knowing Namjoon is well informed on the topic and could prove to be a helpful distraction.

 

 

 

Namjoon is spurred into a passionate tirade about climate change and Taehyung has to keep his eyes from roaming to where Yoongi currently sits, who is sipping on his wine quietly watching the two talk.

 

 

 

Jin squints at Yoongi, whose eyes don’t leave Taehyung’s face. His eyes are shimmering with adoration for the younger, and Taehyung’s eyes are locked onto Namjoon even though the tenseness in his body and the way he chews on his bottom lip says he’s desperately trying to fight the urge to return Yoongi’s gaze.

 

 

 

 

Jin glances over to Hoseok, Jimin, and Jungkook, who have all quieted to listen in to Namjoon’s informative lecture. Their eyes flicker between Taehyung and Yoongi. The tension is almost palpable between them. Jin has a feeling it’s only a matter of time until their dynamic changes. With the way Hoseok, Jimin and Jungkook all share a look between themselves, they must think so too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's finally Friday night, the day of the underground rap battle. Taehyung has finished all his homework and has just gotten out of the shower.

 

 

 

Taehyung wipes the steamed-up mirror so he can peer closely at his reflection. He frowns when he sees all the small imperfections on his face. His hair is wet and dripping, and he resembles a wet dog. His nose looks too big, and he wishes his lips were plump like Jimin or Jin’s.

 

 

 

Taehyung stares at his reflection and his reflection stares back. He wonders what it would be like to step out of his body. If he looked at himself the way he saw his friends, would he be standing here criticizing them? Would he focus on every single flaw on Hoseok’s face? Or on Jungkook's and Jimin's? No, he wouldn’t, because he would never want to hurt his friend’s feelings like that or make them feel less than they are. So why is he doing that to himself? He’s been through so much heartache, shouldn’t he be kinder to himself?

 

 

 

Taehyung steps away from the mirror and pretends he’s talking to his reflection like it’s a separate person. “You’ve silently hurt for such a long time. I can’t believe you’re still alive and functioning right now. You’ve survived an abusive relationship even though using that word still makes you cringe.  That’s what it was even if it didn’t start out that way: it’s how it ended. I know it's hard to think of it like that but the more you say it the easier it gets.”

 

 

 

“I’m so proud of you for staying alive. You’ve met a supportive and wonderful group of friends who love you for who you are. Please love yourself the way others have come to love you.” Taehyung approaches the mirror and kisses his reflection. “I love you.”

 

 

 

He gives himself a small smile and turns to step out of his dorm room’s adjoining bathroom. The towel is loosely hanging from his hips when he walks up to his closet. In that second, his door slams open with an echoing thud and it startles him so bad he jumps.

 

 

 

The rest of the moment goes in slow motion. Taehyung turns his head to see Jin, Jimin and Jungkook barging into his room, but he recoiled so strongly that the towel didn’t follow him in his jump. Nope, it fell down to the ground instead, leaving him bare to the world and to the cold temperatures of his room.

 

 

 

The intruding trio all scream, and Taehyung screeches in embarrassment. The trio smack their hands to their eyes dramatically, as if they haven’t all seen each other naked before, and blindly touch their way into the dorm until they reach the safety of Taehyung’s bed, piling onto it face first.

 

 

 

Taehyung’s face is burning with humiliation and he grabs the towel off the floor and secures it around his waist tightly. “Okay, I’m covered, the coast is clear.”

 

 

 

The three bodies laying limply across his bed peep in-between their fingers and verify that Taehyung is moderately covered. Taehyung shakes his head and chuckles. “What are you guys doing here?”

 

 

 

Jin smacks Jungkook’s thigh so he gets off his back, who curtly smacks Jimin’s ass because he’s preventing Jungkook from getting off of Jin. The three are all tangled limbs but it only takes them a few seconds to break apart.

 

 

 

“Namjoon, Hoseok and Yoongi were already together so they went on ahead and told us to meet them there. We figured we could come chill here since you’re the last one we’re waiting on,” Jungkook says as he moves off the bed to sit in his old desk chair. Jin and Jimin remain on the bed and fold their legs pretzel style underneath them.

 

 

 

“Gotcha. So now that you guys are here, what does one wear to an underground rap battle anyways?” Taehyung sifts through each of his shirts and pants, fumbling for an outfit.

 

 

 

“It’s really casual. Just throw some jeans on and a tee.” Jungkook says.

 

 

 

Taehyung pulls out a white tee and a light wash of blue jeans. He blow dries his hair quickly and puts on a few earrings and some silver rings. He wiggles his fingers in front of his face. “Am I ready?”

 

 

 

“Wait!” Jimin jumps off the bed and runs into Taehyung’s bathroom and comes back with an eyeliner pencil. “The finishing touch.” Jimin smudges the eyeliner at the corners of his eyes and boops his nose when he’s done. “There, all set!”

 

 

 

The friends leave the dorm fairly quickly. The battle starts at 10 and it’s already 9’ o clock. They pile into Jin’s car and drive off to the east side of town. The match is normally held in a retro style club, but it had recently shut down so the battles found a home in an abandoned warehouse by the port docks. It wasn’t sketchy like they dramatize in movies. The warehouse was remodeled on the inside and opened as an official night club, so there were bouncers at the front entrance and security like any other club.

 

 

 

Parking was tight due to the location of the warehouse, and the nearby streets were already packed with cars lining up and down the road. They had to settle on parking four blocks away and walk.

 

 

 

The line to enter was curved all the way around the warehouse, and by the time they made it to the front of the line it was 9:45PM.

 

 

 

When Taehyung steps through the entrance doors, the bouncer evidently checking him and all his friends out and stepping aside to let them in, a trill of a delight bursts from his mouth.

 

 

 

 “Woah, Kookie check this place out!” Taehyung grabs at Jungkook’s wrist and pulls him forward.

 

 

 

Jungkook’s eyes are wide and glassy as he takes in the high ceilings of the warehouse, with shades of purple and white light flashing down on the crowd. The bar is to the far right of them and it’s packed so tightly with people that they look like sardines.

 

 

 

Jin perks up when he notices the giant stage centered in the middle of the warehouse. “Holy shit that stage is HUGE! What are they hosting, a Beyoncé concert or something?”

 

 

 

Jimin giggles and shoves Jin. “As if the queen would ever perform in such a rusty-looking warehouse.”

 

 

 

Taehyung spins around and places his hands on his hips. “It adds personality to the place.”

 

 

 

Jungkook scrunches his nose, “We could do without the smell of sea water and fish though.”

 

 

 

Their attention shifts to the roaring crowd surrounding the stage as the MC steps into the spotlight and announces that they have less than five minutes before the first rapper takes the stage. He tells them tonight’s theme isn’t a battle but more of a showcase. It’s not something they’ve done before but they hope the crowd enjoys it just as much as the battles. He lets the DJ takeover and he starts to spin some tunes while they wait.

 

 

 

Jimin has to yell into Jin’s ear to be heard over the bustling cheers of the crowd. “Did Namjoon-hyung or Yoongi-hyung mention when Hoseok would meet us? I don’t see him anywhere.” Jimin’s biting on his lip anxiously as his eyes scan over the entire warehouse.

 

 

 

There are speakers set up in each corner of the building and smaller ones attached to the walls. The bass thumps wildly and Jimin can feel the beat synch to the rhythm of his heart. It’s like the music itself is what’s keeping his blood flowing through him.

 

 

 

Jin leans over to reply, “He might be in the back of the club waiting with them. He’ll probably show up right before Namjoon and Yoongi take the stage.”

 

 

 

Jimin nods and grabs Jin’s hand to navigate them toward the stage. Jin holds out his hand as he passes Jungkook, who clings to his arm and pulls Taehyung with him. They’re a human chain wiggling through the crowd so they can get as close to the stage as possible. When they reach the edge of the stage, Jin pushes Jungkook and Jimin in front while Taehyung and him linger behind them since they’re taller.

 

 

 

Taehyung rests his hands on Jimin’s shoulder and leans into the crook of his neck, resting his chin there. “Jiminie I’m so excited. I’ve been wanting to see Namjoon-hyung perform since he first told me he writes his own lyrics.”

 

 

 

Jimin angles his mouth closer to Taehyung’s face so he doesn’t have to yell over the countdown the crowd starts to chant.

 

 

 

“Really? I figured you’d be more excited to see your crush rap for the first time. You haven’t heard Yoongi-hyung rap before have you?” Jimin looks at Taehyung from the corner of his eye and smirks when he sees a flush of red.

 

 

 

“Of course I’m excited to see my other friend,” Taehyung enunciates sternly, “perform. I’m literally about to pee myself in excitement.”

 

 

 

Jimin grins. “Oh you’re definitely in for a treat. Try not to get drool on my shoulder m’kay?”

 

 

 

Taehyung’s rebuttal is cut off by the MC announcing the first performer onto the stage. The crowd screams ballistically and Taehyung wonders how many performers he’ll have to watch until Yoongi’s up on stage too.

 

 

 

The performers aren’t bad per say, they’re pretty decent and the fast beat pumps up the crowd. His friends and him are all jumping with them, the heat from the couple hundreds of people there turning the place into a sauna. Taehyung feels sweat bead at his hairline and wipes the drops above his upper lip. He friends are in a similar state with how quickly their chest is heaving from the exertion of screaming and bouncing about.

 

 

 

When the MC finally announces the last performance of the night over an hour later, Taehyung’s exhausted body is set on high alert.

 

 

 

He notices Jimin turn his head this way and that way before turning to him to shout, “Hoseok’s still not here! Where is he?”

 

 

 

Taehyung doesn’t put too much thought into the whereabouts of his missing friend because his ears hone onto the announcement of familiar stage names.

 

 

 

“And finally, the two you’ve been waiting for, RM and AGUST D!”

 

 

 

The crowd goes wild, and the roaring is ten times louder than it was before. Taehyung’s eyes widen when he see’s two figures step up on stage, both silhouettes shrouded in white. Taehyung smiles when he hears Jungkook screech Namjoon’s name.

 

 

 

He glances over to him, Jungkook’s mouth gaping open and his eyes bulging out of his head when Namjoon steps into the purple spotlight. He’s dressed in long white cargo pants, a white tee, and an almost iridescent bomber jacket. Jin puts two fingers in his mouth and whistles. Taehyung throws his head back with laughter and joins in with whistles of his own.

 

 

 

“Ah, it’s been awhile everyone. Are you guys ready for the show?” Namjoon yells into the mic and the crowd responds with a vicious ‘YES!’.

 

 

 

That’s when Yoongi steps into the light in a similar white ensemble and Taehyung swears his jaw unhinges and drops to the floor. Yoongi’s outfit isn’t much different aside from the thick wide headband that is pushing his hair back. Taehyung feels himself ascend because it should be illegal to look that goddamn good with a headband.

 

 

 

Yoongi scans over the crowd and brings a mic to his lips. “We’ve got a new song for you guys. But first, a mix of our first three Cyphers! Here’s our Cypher Medley!”

 

 

 

Yoongi licks his lips and tugs his bottom one with his teeth. Taehyung dies a little inside.

 

 

 

“LET’S GO J-HOPE!” Yoongi shouts.

 

 

 

A third figure steps onto the stage and the music instantly begins. The person is looking down as he struts to the front of the stage, matching both Yoongi and Namjoon in fashion with a white bucket hat on his head. When the purple spotlight lands on him he looks up sharply and brings the microphone to his lips while his other hand throws his hat into the crowd to reveal flaming red hair.

 

 

 

Taehyung hears his group of friends all collectively gasp at the exact same time when Hoseok fires off into his rap.

 

 

 

“Holy fucking shit!” Jimin screams. “Since when can he rap!?”

 

 

 

The surprise is quickly replaced by fanatic support as his friends scream Hoseok’s name as he raps his verse. Hoseok’s eyes move across the crowd while a smile plays on his lips.

 

 

 

He spots Jimin in the crowd and sends him a wink. Jimin’s mouth falls open and Taehyung has to physically close it before the poor boy starts drooling all over himself. And he dared to say that Taehyung would be the one drooling.

 

 

 

 Hoseok’s verse ends when the beat suddenly slows and picks up speed again. That’s when Yoongi jumps in and spits out his own verse.

 

 

 

Taehyung is left in shock at how Yoongi’s demeanor instantly changes. The reserved and soft boy he has come to know doesn’t exist on this stage. No, his presence demands attention and Taehyung is more than willing to keep his eyes solely on him.

 

 

 

His verse is so fast and Taehyung can’t believe he’s never heard him rap until now cause his ears deserved to be blessed much sooner than this. Yoongi’s deep voice is all the more noticeable when he raps, and Taehyung has to swallow the pooling drool in his mouth before he drowns in it.

 

 

 

Jimin turns his head, “I told you!” and Taehyung shoves him playfully.

 

 

 

When the beat drops and Yoongi spirals into a faster tongue twister of words and flow, Taehyung’s soul leaves his body and ascends into celestial paradise. He has to reel his tethered soul back into his body in time to hear Yoongi finish his rap with an aggressive grunt and Taehyung’s knees nearly give out. He clings desperately to Jin next to him.

 

 

 

Jin snickers and watches Taehyung’s reaction with avid amusement. When Taehyung steadies himself he releases Jin from his clutches. His eyes follow Yoongi around the stage until the beat changes again and Namjoon starts his verse.

 

 

 

Taehyung sees Jungkook raise both his arms and pump them in the air to the beat. Taehyung is struck by how absolutely brilliant Namjoon’s aura is and he nearly forgets that Namjoon isn’t even majoring in music despite the obvious talent. The crowd is absolutely devouring every single word that leaves his lips.

 

 

 

When the medley ends, the crowd is a panting mess. The three on stage look just as wrecked with sweat trickling down their faces. It almost makes them look angelic when the white light hits their faces because they glimmer like they're destined to be on stage performing.

 

 

 

Namjoon brings the mic back up to his lips, “You guys look exhausted. You think you can handle one more?” His dimples appear alongside his wide smile at the obvious enthusiasm the crowd chants “YES!!” with.

 

 

 

“Alrighty then, here’s one we finished just last week. This one’s called Tear.”

 

 

 

Jungkook shouts Namjoon’s name with all the might in his tiny lungs and Namjoon glances at him, throwing him a quick kiss in gratitude.

 

 

 

The purple lights suddenly flicker to a lime green and a piano begins the first few notes of the melody. The crowd grows quiet and Namjoon kicks off the song with his part. It’s catchy and full of metaphors and before they know it, Hoseok cuts in followed by Yoongi. The chorus is extremely catchy when it comes around and they all repeat “TEAR!” alongside them.

 

 

 

Yoongi suddenly takes over the song and Taehyung is struck again but how powerful his delivery is. He watches as Yoongi spits out the lyrics to his verse with such passion and emotion that it leaves him breathless. There’s sweat trickling down the side of his face and it glistens like diamonds under the spotlight.

 

 

 

 Yoongi’s eyes glaze over the crowd until they meet Taehyung’s. Taehyung feels his heart slow and the roaring crowd around him fades into the distance as Yoongi smirks.

 

 

 

There’s a spark of electricity that jolts through every inch of him at the eye contact and his heartbeat accelerates. His palms are clammy and a warm heat flushes his cheeks as he stands star-struck by Yoongi’s confidence. Taehyung gulps and has to grab onto Jimin this time to steady himself on his jelly-like feet. His legs shake underneath him.

 

 

 

“Taehyung, what’s wrong?” Jimin shouts amidst the loud cheers in the club. Taehyung gulps and trembles.

 

 

 

“Jimin, you were wrong,” he whispers.

 

 

 

“What?” Jimin leans his ear closer expecting Taehyung to repeat what he said. He tries to get Taehyung to look at him but his eyes are locked on Yoongi. When Taehyung doesn’t reply, Jimin shrugs it off and focuses back to the stage, letting Taehyung use him as support while he returns his attention to Hoseok.

 

 

 

Even when Yoongi’s verse ends and Hoseok takes the lead once more, Taehyung can’t take his eyes off him. Yoongi walks around the edge of the stage with Namjoon, hyping up the crowd and mouthing the words to Hoseok’s verse. Yoongi’s eyes fall back onto Taehyung and he smiles so brightly that he loses himself in it.

 

 

 

 He can’t lie to himself anymore.

 

 

 

Seeing Yoongi’s flushed face from his performance and the rush of endorphins that has him glowing under the stage light makes his heart clench painfully. The pure happiness on his face melts him into a puddle of jelly.

 

 

 

Jimin was wrong.

 

 

 

Taehyung doesn’t have a crush.

 

 

 

It’s far deeper than that and far, far worse.

 

 

 

He doesn’t know how he managed to fall so deeply for the person standing on that stage but he can’t ignore the way his stomach flutters, nor the way his heart burns in his chest and in his cheeks whenever he’s around him.

 

 

 

He’s head-over-heels, completely and undeniably in love with Min Yoongi.

 

 

 

 

He guesses he should be flying over the clouds with happiness at realizing he’s in love, but his lip quivers. The crippling fear that comes with his admission overtakes him and he has to look away from the shining aura of confidence surrounding the person he has come to love.

 

 

 

 

How could he ever be enough for the person standing in front of him when he deserves every single star in the sky?

 

 

 

 

Yoongi is a star and Taehyung’s nothing but the plain old moon. No matter how much the moon yearns to be loved by the stars, they can never be together. He’ll never be enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoongi hears a soft knock on his studio door that pulls him out of his trance. He glances at the clock, surprised to see how quickly time has gone by. He’s been working non-stop for 6 hours, putting together the last pieces of his final composition project. It’s the last major grade before he can officially say he’s done with school.

 

 

 

It may have taken him longer than most his age to graduate, but working on the side has him finishing debt free, something he’s damn proud of. He pauses his song and leans back in his chair, stretching out his arms and his cramped-up legs.

 

 

 

He hears the knock again and rubs the exhaustion from his eyes before getting up from his chair. It creaks under him, and the indention of his bottom is seen clearly on the leather. It shows how often he’s cooped himself in here all these years by the way the chair permanently remembers his form. The once completely black chair has wear and tear, evident by the loss of color in some areas and the lack of thick cushion in others. It was like sitting on a lumpy piece of rock at this point, but he was so used to it that it no longer bothered him.

 

 

 

 He shuffles to the door and opens it, peeking his head out to see who his unexpected visitor was. He hadn’t texted anyone at all today, and he didn’t have any more collabs to do either. As the top student in his major, he received lots of requests for collaborations, other students seeing him as a golden ticket to a high grade. After a few years of helping others constantly, he could tell the genuine ones looking for help and advice apart from the ones trying to hitch a ride on his coat tail. He eventually limited his contributions, not wanting to overwhelm himself in addition to his own assignments.

 

 

 

“Oh, hey Joon.” Yoongi steps back and out of the way, his silent way of welcoming him in.

 

 

 

Knowing Yoongi all these years have him well versed in his mannerisms and their meaning, so Namjoon nods in response and slips through the door. He throws himself on the couch and props his feet up, surveying the studio and deeming it a safe haven.

 

 

 

 Yoongi returns to his chair and rolls closer to where Namjoon is seated.

 

 

 

“Finishing up your undergrad project I assume?” Namjoon’s dimples make an appearance. “What a good excuse to escape from the madness that is Hoseok and Jimin. I thought they were flirty enough as friends, but now that they’re together it’s like non-stop displays of affection. I caught them making out in our kitchen.”

 

 

 

 “No one was even home, so I don’t know how they got in there in the first place. When I caught them, they pulled apart and froze like deer caught in headlights. Jimin said something about wanting to cook dinner for us but there wasn’t any sign of actual food preparation. There was a knife and a pot of boiling water, which was almost completely empty mind you. God knows how long they must have been making out for a giant pot of water to evaporate almost completely. I’m lucky they didn’t burn our place to the ground. And Jin says I’M the fire hazard,” Namjoon rants.

 

 

 

Yoongi chuckles, “If it makes you feel any better, I caught them tongue deep into each other’s throats here in the studio. I never told either one of them my code though so we must have a snitch in our ranks. I was too pissed to really process what they were doing, but I swear I heard moaning. I had to ban them from coming in here ever again.”

 

 

 

Namjoon groans and throws his head back on the couch cushion. “Please tell me they weren’t on the couch I’m currently sitting on.”

 

 

 

Yoongi tries to suppress a laugh but his shaking shoulders give him away. “I sprayed it down with Lysol, but that was the best I could do. I don’t think the school would appreciate it if I burned it like it deserves.”

 

 

 

Namjoon sighs. “Yeah I guess not. Luckily you’re nearly done. You’ll never have to step foot in this studio ever again.”

 

 

 

Yoongi loses himself in his thoughts and sincerity flows out of his mouth. “It’s strange. I’m so glad to be done, but it’s kind of bittersweet. I’ve spent a majority of my college career in this studio. It’s going to be weird leaving it behind. It’s like my second home. A home away from home.”

 

 

 

Yoongi spares a moment to glance around the studio, the raggedy old red couch that’s been stained with unidentifiable markings, and the worn-out desk chair he’s sitting on. The table in front of the couch was too small and was used as a footrest by most people. It came in handy when his friends brought him food, and they’d spread their food out like a buffet. He recalls Jimin falling on it during his first visit and it’s been wobbly ever since. The wood was warped and faded, but it too, held sentimental memories.

 

 

 

He’s not too scared leaving it all behind. He’s already been scouted and landed a producing job in the city’s biggest music production company. He hadn’t told his friends yet, and wanted to surprise them the day of graduation.

 

 

 

It was a big deal, because this company housed a wide range of artists, meaning he would have the chance to work with all sorts of genres and people. It was his dream job.

 

 

 

He didn’t officially start until the end of summer, so he had plenty of free time until then to focus on his mixtape. It wasn’t quite ready yet, something still missing that left his perfectionist tendencies askew.

 

 

 

A phone starts ringing and Yoongi’s pulled from his thoughts again to check his pocket but verifies the ringing phone isn’t his. When Namjoon answers, Yoongi leans back in his chair, crosses his arms, and props his legs on the table, shoving Joon’s feet farther to the side.

 

 

 

Yoongi hears Jimin’s notably apologetic voice from across the room, a string of sorrys pouring out of the phone and reassurances that they did plan on making dinner.

 

 

 

“Are you guys actually cooking food this time? Ok. Yeah I’m with Yoongi. Ok, I’ll let him know. Yeah, see you later.”

 

 

 

Namjoon hangs up the phone and tucks it into his pocket. He was dressed in spring wear, a thin white T-shirt and a beige pair of cargo shorts with brown leather boots.

 

 

 

Namjoon had developed a taste for fashion over the years, most likely from the influence of living with Jin for so long.

 

 

 

“That was Jimin. Apparently they are making us dinner. Jin’s home now and he’s making sure they keep their hands to themselves and behave.” He laughs.

 

 

 

Yoongi smiles and nods his head side to side at the absurdity of it. “I still can’t believe Hoseok went through with it. He’s been trying to confess to Jimin for months now but would chicken out at the last minute.”

 

 

 

Namjoon tucks his chin against his chest and crosses his arms. “According to Hoseok, it didn’t go exactly as planned. He initially wanted to get Jimin to spend the rest of their night dancing after we finished our rap performance and confess, but Jimin beat him to it.”

 

 

 

Yoongi snorts, “No one expected Jimin to rush into his arms as soon as we met up with everyone. I think I saw Hoseok’s eyes roll into the back of his head when Jimin kissed him. Those assholes didn’t bother telling us good-bye when they left. Then they announce to us all the very next day that they’re together. I could have lived without knowing they fucked in every square inch of their dorm when they got home that night. They didn’t need to tell us that.”

 

 

 

Namjoon laughs again. “At least they’re finally together. Only took them 8+ years of pining over each other.”

 

 

 

“If one of them grew balls and confessed sooner, they could have avoided years of ‘what ifs’.”

 

 

 

Namjoon raises an eyebrow and smirks. “You’re one to talk.”

 

 

 

Yoongi instantly flushes, the tips of his ears burning bright red. He ducks his head and tries to hide his face. “Is it that obvious?”

 

 

 

“It wasn’t at first. I picked up on it quickly. I’ve known you for ages after all. I could see your soft spot for him growing day by day. It was bound to happen.” He shrugs. “Everyone knows by now with the way you treat Taehyung though.”

 

 

 

Yoongi fidgets in his chair. “Do you think Taehyung knows too?”

 

 

 

Namjoon ponders that question and his forehead crinkles. “No, I think he’s oblivious to it. He’s had a rough year, so love may not be on his radar at all.”

 

 

 

Yoongi sighs. “I wouldn’t blame him. He’s been through way too much. “

 

 

 

Namjoon sits up straighter and blinks. “He told you?”

 

 

 

“We had a deep heart-to-heart conversation when he came over to my apartment for the first time. I don’t remember how we got to it, but I told him about my past and he told me about his struggles. Life’s so fucking unfair for someone as sweet as Taehyung to go through shit like that.”

 

 

 

Namjoon nods his head in agreement. “It’s absolute bullshit. It still blows my mind what his ex did to him. I met Bogum when Jungkook and I had a double-date with them and I could have never imagined how much pain Taehyung was hiding that entire time.”

 

 

 

Yoongi’s face contorts in confusion, unsure of what Namjoon was talking about. The other is too busy staring at his feet with his eyebrows pulled together, anger oozing into his tone.

 

 

 

“I can’t ever imagine myself doing something like that to Jungkook. When we first got together, he made it clear he wasn’t ready for sex and I respected that. If I felt myself getting too excited, I’d go to the bathroom and cool off. And when Jungkook was ready, we talked and set boundaries. I could never imagine harassing him constantly about sex because I was too selfish with my own needs. ESPECIALLY when they make it clear they don’t like it.”

 

 

 

Yoongi’s face pales, his fair skin taking on a ghastly sickening hue.

 

 

 

Namjoon pushes his hair back and hufts in frustration. “That night you texted us about Taehyung needing someone, I thought my heart would stop beating when we found him. He was passed out, bloody scratches all over his body and blood crusted on his nails like he was trying to—”

 

 

 

Yoongi shouts, “Stop.” His body starts to tremble. “Please don’t say anymore.”

 

 

 

Namjoon instantly rises from the couch and approaches Yoongi slowly. “Are you okay hyung?”

 

 

 

 Yoongi’s hand rests over his eyes, like he’s contemplating something. “Sorry, I need some time alone. I’ll stop by for dinner later yeah? I need to wrap up my project.”

 

 

 

“I’m sorry I made you uncomfortable hyung. I got carried away. I can’t imagine how you must have felt when he first told you. It gets me riled up with anger when I think about it. It must hurt for you to think about it too.”

 

 

 

Yoongi’s hand grips the arm of his chair tighter, knuckles pink at the lack of circulation from clenching so hard.

 

 

 

Namjoon pats Yoongi on shoulder, “I’ll see you later then.” With one more glance over his shoulder at Yoongi who nods silently in response, Namjoon walks out of the studio.

 

 

 

When Yoongi’s finally alone, he spins his chair back towards his desk and holds his head between his hands, elbows digging into the table. Taehyung was sexually abused? And by his ex no less? Yoongi thinks he’s going to be sick.

 

 

 

He sifts through his memories, taking note of all the hesitance to physical contact. It makes sense. He thinks back to the time he first met Taehyung, how quiet and soft-spoken he was. Was he suffering that whole time? Yoongi had picked up on his troubles, sensing it because of his own experiences with depression, but he would have never linked that back to an abusive relationship.

 

 

 

Yoongi scrunches his eyes close. He’s glad he didn’t let Namjoon continue. He didn’t want to know anything Taehyung didn’t tell him personally himself, especially if it was as personal as this was.

 

 

 

His stomach feels hollow.

 

 

 

He focuses on the clock ticking in the background, wanting to rid these thoughts from his head. He shouldn’t focus on Taehyung’s past. There’s nothing he can do to change it.

 

 

 

 But what he can do is offer his support and his friendship. His feelings aside, he wants to be there for Taehyung, regardless if he ever returns his feelings or not.

 

 

 

He just wants him to be happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hey Taehyung,” shouts his manager from her office.

 

 

 

Taehyung is packing his bag, gathering his things to prepare to leave work and go home. He shuts down the computer and briefly rearranges the organized mess of papers all over his desk. Once he has them neatly stacked off to the side, he waltzes into his manager’s office.

 

 

 

“Yes? Anything you need me to do before I leave?”

 

 

 

His manager glances up from her laptop and shoots him a warm smile. Her glasses sit high on her long nose, and her fingers reach up to take them off. She only wears her glasses when she’s reading.

 

 

 

“I just got an email about the end of the year festival. I wasn’t too sure if you knew what it was considering it’s your first spring semester here.”

 

 

 

“No, I have no idea what the end of the year festival is for. I didn’t know the school organized one.”

 

 

 

His manager scoots her chair away from her desk and crosses her legs. “The University throws a festival at the end of the spring term in honor of our senior graduates. It takes place the day after the graduation ceremonies. Knowing you’re a vocal performance major, I figured you may be interested. The live performances are done by students, a way to showcase their talents or work they’ve developed over their college career.”

 

 

 

“Oh, um, I don’t know. I wasn’t planning on performing. I’m still a little shy performing in front of large groups of people.”

 

 

 

His manager raises an eyebrow. “As a vocal major, you’ll have to perform in front of others. This could be good practice for you! I highly encourage you to participate. I overhear you singing to yourself sometimes. I’d love to hear that lovely voice of yours echoing across the campus square.”

 

 

 

Taehyung dips his head and smiles. “I’ll think about it, thank you.”

 

 

 

With that, Taehyung grabs his stuff and heads to the front doors. He’s jogging down the steps, taking them two at a time when a voice calls out to him. He turns to peer over his shoulder and sees Yoongi waving him down.

 

 

 

Taehyung stops and waits for Yoongi to catch up. He has his backpack on too, most likely coming out of his last class of the day.

 

 

 

When he reaches Taehyung, he sets his backpack down and zips it open, digging through his things in search of something.

 

 

 

“Hey hyung, did you get out of class?

 

 

 

Yoongi’s tongue is peeking out from between his lips and shouts an ‘aha!’ when he finds what he’s looking for.

 

 

 

“I did, and I still have to head over to my job for a late shift, but I wanted to give you this first.”

 

 

 

Yoongi hands him a purple and gray flier, decorated with stripes of black and white hearts. “I was at the registrar’s office earlier filling out my graduation paperwork and saw this on the bulletin board. I thought of you. I figured we could go to it together, if you want to that is.”

 

 

 

Taehyung scans the flier.

 

 

 

 

Asexual Support Group.

Want to meet others like you? Or have questions?

We’re here to help!

 

Meeting @ 4:30PM on Wednesday April 28th in the Fine Art’s building, Room 314

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung stares at the flier blankly. Yoongi watches him carefully, and the lack of a response has his shoulders dropping. “Or if you prefer to go alone—”

 

 

 

Taehyung snaps his head up to look at him, eyes wide in panic. “No! I mean yes! I would love to go with you!” He trips up over the word ‘love’, choking a bit. He spits out a “Thank you,” and hopes to god that he doesn’t sound like a fool.

 

 

 

“I wanted to go to make sure I understand asexuality properly.” Yoongi bites his lower lip, shyness overtaking his calm demeanor. “I never want to say or do something that makes you uncomfortable.”

 

 

 

Taehyung feels his heart swell and he’s left speechless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love you, I love you, I love you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Well, I got to go, but text me later so we can discuss when to meet up!” Yoongi gives him a short wave and is about to leave but is caught off guard by a tug on his backpack. He glances at Taehyung, expecting him to say something.

 

 

 

 

“Thank you Yoongi-hyung, for looking out for me. You don’t know how much this means to me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You don’t know how much I love you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoongi pinches Taehyung’s cheek, eliciting a complain from the younger. He ruffles his hair in affection. “I’ll always look out for you.” He shoots him his favorite gummy smile and waves him a goodbye.

 

 

 

Taehyung caresses his cheek, soothing it from the harsh pinch it got. He smiles to himself as he peers down at the flier again. His heart is fluttering but that familiar feeling of dread builds up in his stomach. Yoongi is okay with Taehyung being asexual, but if they did date, would he be okay with never having sex? Taehyung is too scared to find out.

 

 

 

Taehyung chews on his nail anxiously on his way back to the dorm. When he gets home, he throws his backpack to the side and sits on the edge of his bed. The flier is still in his hands, but it’s crumpled at the edges from being held tightly in his grasp. He reaches over to his desk to set the flier down. When he sits back on the bed, his mind wanders.

 

 

 

He’s come such a long way since that night he tried hurting himself, hoping the physical pain would numb the pain in his heart, in his soul. Namjoon and Jin had found him with scratches all over his body. He doesn’t remember that part, only the feeling of drowning in his sorrow, of the ocean’s currents dragging him under. When he came to he was nestled in between Namjoon and Jin on their couch. He was so thankful to have them that night. And he was just as thankful for Yoongi sending them.

 

 

 

Taehyung pulls his lower lip between his fingers, grazing over the dry patches of skin. He pulls his hand back from his lips and wets them, nibbling his  bottom lip with his teeth. He bounces his leg and that feeling of dread comes back when he peers at the flier and thinks about his feelings for Yoongi.

 

 

 

He’s come so far, has healed so much, so why does he still feel so stuck? With a sigh of resignation, Taehyung pulls out his phone. He pulls up the group chat with Jimin, Hoseok and Jungkook. He messages them an ASAP and throws his phone onto the bed. He lets himself fall backwards onto his comforter and closes his eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When his friends arrive, they are out of breath and in full on panic mode. Jimin is the first to burst through the door, “WHAT IS IT? WHAT’S HAPPENING? WHAT’S WRONG?”

 

 

 

Hoseok is right behind him, eyes wide and searching the room frantically for anything that looks out of the ordinary. Jungkook appears shortly after, shoving the two inside and running straight to Taehyung to inspect him from head to toe.

 

 

 

Taehyung giggles, pushing Jungkook away with his foot, “You guys, I’m okay, I wanted to talk.”

 

 

 

The three breathe a sigh of relief and all collapse around him on the bed. The bed is way to small for them all to fit, so they make do by huddling close together. Taehyung chuckles and welcomes the contact, basking in the warmth and comfort of his best friends.

 

 

 

Taehyung starts to pet Jimin’s hair, running his hands through those bubblegum pink strands. “Your hair feels dry, you could use some hair conditioning treatments Jiminie.”

 

 

 

Jimin pouts.

 

 

 

“That’s what I’ve been telling him every time he snuggles up to me in bed! His wiry hair makes me feel like I’m laying next to a pile of hay.” Jimin kicks Hoseok off the bed at the comment and all three cackle.

 

 

 

“I’m glad your dynamic hasn’t changed since you guys got together,” Jungkook says.

 

 

 

Hoseok sits up on the floor, “Of course we wouldn’t, the only thing that’s changed is that we sleep together each night and have crazy, sweaty, s—”

 

 

 

Jimin clamps his hand over Hoseok’s mouth. “You’re too honest for your own good sometimes.” Jimin throws Taehyung an apologetic smile. “Sorry Tae, we won’t talk about it around you if it makes you uncomfortable.”

 

 

 

Taehyung shrugs. “It’s okay if you mention it, though I’d rather not hear any specific details anymore. I know enough after you told us you christened every inch of your dorm room. Remind me to never go over there again.”

 

 

 

Hoseok nods, “Noted.”

 

 

 

Jungkook perks up next to Taehyung. “So what did you need to talk about Tae? It has to be important since you sent out an ASAP.”

 

 

 

Taehyung nibbles on his thumb. “Right, um, I did have something to tell you guys.”

 

 

 

Taehyung adjusts himself on the bed, scooting back on it until his back rests against the wall. Jimin, Hoseok, and Jungkook arrange themselves in front of him and sit pretzel style, each giving him their undivided attention.  

 

 

 

Taehyung is silent, the nerves unsettling his stomach. “I—”

 

 

 

The three friends wait patiently for him to continue.

 

 

 

Taehyung gulps and clenches his eyes shut, letting it all out in one breathe, “IminlovewithYoongi!”

 

 

 

The room is silent, but only briefly, before it erupts into chaos.

 

 

 

“YOU WHAT?!” Hoseok screeches.

 

 

 

Jimin pumps his fist in the air, “FUCKING FINALLY!”

 

 

 

Jungkook claps his hands and wipes fake tears from his eyes, “I can’t believe it, you admitted it. You finally admitted it.”

 

 

 

Taehyung deadpans them all, mouth slightly agape. “No, you don’t understand, I’m in love with him.”

 

 

 

Hoseok clicks his tongue and shoots him a finger gun, “Anddddddddd, now you can confess to him!” He winks.

 

 

 

Jimin crawls over to Taehyung and shakes his shoulders, enunciating each word strongly. “You.Need.To.Tell.Him!”

 

 

 

The three start chattering over each other excitedly, talks about how their confession would go and what they would be like together and how cute they would look and Taehyung feels that dread building and building until he feels the walls caving in.

 

 

 

“I can’t,” he says, voice full of anguish.

 

 

 

The eager smiles fall off their faces at Taehyung’s tone and their demeanors shift from excitement to worry.

 

 

 

Jimin wraps an arm around his shoulder and Taehyung nuzzles his head into the crook of his neck. His friends won’t hurt him. He can trust them, can feel safe with their touch.

 

 

 

“What’s wrong Tae?” Jimin whispers softly.

 

 

 

His voice is muffled, and Jimin struggles to understand him. He coos into his ear, “I couldn’t hear what you said Tae, please tell us what’s wrong.”

 

 

 

Taehyung pulls away from Jimin’s neck and turns to look at them. “Why would Yoongi want me? I’m not enough for him, I can never be everything he needs.”

 

 

 

Hoseok furrows his eyebrows, “Why do you think you’re not good enough for Yoongi? Did he say something to make you feel that way?”

 

 

 

Hoseok’s expression  shifts from worry to something darker. He may be close to Yoongi, but he’s known Taehyung far longer, and he would be willing to fight anyone for Tae.

 

 

 

Taehyung shakes his head. “I wasn’t enough for Bogum, so how could I possibly be enough for Yoongi?” Taehyung’s voice cracks and he swallows despite the strain in the back of his throat that keeps him from crying.

 

 

 

Jungkook reaches out his hand and offers it to him, who intertwines their fingers together. “Tae, what happened between you and Bogum?”

 

 

 

Jungkook’s voice is gentle, calm and collected, but there’s a hint of worry in his voice. What could possibly have happened between them for Taehyung to feel so insecure?

 

 

 

 

Taehyung is quiet for a moment, collecting his words and his thoughts. He takes a deep breath and wills the urge to cry to dissipate. He licks his lips and spills all the insecurities that have been plaguing him.

 

 

 

“You know how I was growing up. I wasn’t the cutest looking boy out there and everyone was getting boyfriends and girlfriends and I was the odd one out. I felt like I lacked something. Was it my laugh? Was it my nose? Was it my face? Or was it the whole package?”

 

 

 

“I kept telling myself I would meet someone who would accept all of me, who would love me for me.  I stopped caring so much about myself, or at least tried to. I kept telling myself I shouldn’t hide who I was, that I should be myself.”

 

 

 

“And that’s what I did. I was known as the weird one throughout the rest of middle school and high school and I didn’t mind it. I had lots of friends, and I made them laugh with my attempts to humor them. I liked that about myself.”

 

 

 

 “And then I met Bogum.”

 

 

 

“He was the first person I ever loved, and the first person to tell me he loved me as I was. I was never scared to be myself around him, because if he wanted to be with me he would accept me as I am. And he did.”

 

 

 

“I gave all of myself to him. I gave him my heart, my mind, and my soul. I didn’t hide anything from him. I bared all parts of myself, the good, the bad, the ugly. And he willingly loved me despite all my imperfections. I never thought I could be so lucky. I thought he was my first and my last everything.”

 

 

 

“ I gave so much of myself to him, kept giving and giving, and when I finally wanted to stop giving him just a small piece of me, a piece of me I didn’t want to share any more, he got upset.” 

 

 

 

Taehyung pauses to take another deep breath. The back of his eyes burn, and so does his throat. He looks at his friends, and their eyes are glassy.

 

 

 

“Was it selfish of me to stop wanting to share such a small piece of me? He had the rest of me, why wasn’t that enough?”

 

 

 

“I told you guys I was asexual, but there’s more to that. I don’t like sex either. I kept trying to force myself to like it; for so many years I tried and tried. But I gave up. I didn’t want to keep doing it, so I stopped trying. That should have been fine right? I shouldn’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.”

 

 

 

“But, he kept telling me he loved me, how he wanted to show it by making love to me. And I told him I didn’t want to. But he insisted, he insisted and insisted until he broke my will down, until I gave him that small piece of myself I had tucked away safely. No matter how many times I told him I didn’t want to, or that it hurt, he would get mad at me.”

 

 

 

 “Why was he so mad? Why weren’t the other parts of me good enough? Why weren’t the late-night talks enough, when we shared stupid jokes or talked about our dreams? Why weren’t my hugs and kisses enough, the nights we would fall asleep in each other’s arms?”

 

 

 

“I felt so guilty, and I hated myself for being so selfish, for wanting to keep that piece of myself, especially when it made him so happy. So I gave it to him. Gave him that small part of me even when I cried, when I wanted it to stop, when I wanted something, anything to kill me, just so I didn’t have to keep giving myself anymore.”

 

 

 

Taehyung blinks and realizes his tears have overflown, the drops streaking down his cheeks and landing on his t shirt. He had zoned out as he re-told his memories, and his heart sinks when he sees how hard his friends are crying. They are sniffling, eyes puffy and an angry red, their sleeves soaked with the attempts to wipe away their tears.

 

 

 

“I reached a point where I knew if I kept doing this to myself, I would die. I was already so close to the edge, so close to falling and drowning in an ocean of my sorrows. So I stopped.”

 

 

 

“If we argued, I argued back. When he ignored me, I would ignore him too. I hadn’t noticed when I started pulling away. I couldn’t hug or kiss him without worrying about fighting, and little by little I stopped being affectionate with him almost completely. It felt so wrong to kiss him.”

 

 

 

“That’s when he told me we should break up.”

 

 

 

“It’s funny, looking back on it, it was the best decision we could have ever made. But at the time, I was desperate, so used to how things were that I was willing to stay, willing to settle because I didn’t know if anyone could ever love me the way he did.”

 

 

 

Taehyung sniffs and wipes the dried streaks of tears from his cheeks. He looks up at his friends and they are sobbing, gripping onto each other tightly in support.

 

 

 

Taehyung chuckles hollowly. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the truth until now. I couldn’t. But…..despite all these tears, telling you this doesn’t hurt as much as it used to. It’s relieving actually.”

 

 

 

Taehyung clears his throat and sniffles again. “But….I’m scared. I’m scared because someone who promised me they would love me unconditionally left me. They left me because I wasn’t enough. How do I know Yoongi won’t do the same?” His voice cracks again and he breaks down completely.

 

 

 

“Oh Tae,” his friends sob, each enveloping him in a hug. There are tears and snot everywhere, but none of them seem to mind. They whisper comforting words into his ears, soothing the pain away.

 

 

 

They hug each other a little tighter, a little closer, until their love for one another eases their minds into a dreamless slumber.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Taehyung wakes up, his neck is all cramped up and his back is aching. He sits up and yawns, throat extra dry. He rubs his eyes and peers down around him.

 

 

 

Jungkook has an arm wrapped loosely around his torso and a leg thrown over his thighs. Jimin and Hoseok must have rolled off the bed sometime during the night because they’re cuddling on the floor. Taehyung smiles, thankful that his friends are here with him.

 

 

 

He recalls telling them everything, and he’s surprised to find the memories don’t hurt much at all. It feels like a cut that has scabbed over. The scab is hanging on stubbornly, but most of the skin underneath is healed. Taehyung smiles to himself. Maybe he can pull the scab off completely in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s well past noon when his friends have finally awoken and they decide to head to a nearby restaurant for a late brunch. When their stomachs are stuffed and alertness has come to them completely, they return to Taehyung’s dorm. They still have a lot to discuss. Taehyung spent the night venting, and today was the day they could address what he told them.

 

 

 

“How long….have you felt that way Tae? About Bogum I mean,” Jimin hesitates, “Did you still love him when you guys broke up?”

 

 

 

Taehyung thinks about it. “Honestly, I don’t know when I stopped loving him. It felt like a dwindling flame that was blown out one day. But by the end, it’d been at least half a year I think. I can’t be sure.”

 

 

 

Jimin nods in understanding. Hoseok clears his throat, “It’s okay that you didn’t want to tell us when all this was happening, but can I ask why? We would have been there for you in a heartbeat.”

 

 

 

Taehyung purses his lips. “I didn’t think you guys would understand. It was hard. I’m open with you guys about a lot of things, but it wasn’t something I felt comfortable talking to you guys about, I’m sorry.”

 

 

 

Hoseok gives him an empathetic smile. Jungkook cuts in, “Would you be able to say you’re in a better place now?” The other two friends turn to look at Jungkook before glancing back at Taehyung.

 

 

 

“Definitely. I can’t explain how, but I feel better than I have in a long time. I went to therapy for a bit, and talking with her helped. She explained that I was going through the seven stages of grief. It’s been a rough year, but I can finally say I’ve accepted it.”

 

 

 

His friends give him their supportive smiles. “That’s great Tae.” Jimin pulls him into a hug. “Thank you for telling us. You know we love you, right? We love you no matter who you are, or what you are.”

 

 

 

Jungkook and Hoseok shout in whole-hearted agreement and pile themselves onto Jimin and Taehyung, effectively knocking them over on the bed.

 

 

 

Taehyung laughs. “Thank you, I love you guys.”

 

 

 

“There is one last thing we have to talk about though,” Hoseok utters, pulling himself away from them. “Do you actually think you aren’t good enough for Yoongi?”

 

 

 

Taehyung looks away, guilt evident on his face for saying such a thing last night. “I know Yoongi isn’t that type of person, and I know he’s not Bogum. I can’t help thinking that he won’t want me if I confess….. if I tell him I want to be with him, but not in that way.” Taehyung bites his lip.

 

 

 

Hoseok tilts his head and grabs Taehyung’s shoulder. “Do you remember how we first met? We were in the 6th grade. I had just moved to town and I knew no one. You were the first person to come up to me and talk to me. You came right up to me, and talked to me like we were already friends, like we had known each other for years. It’s because of you that I got so comfortable there so quickly. You have such a kind heart Taehyung. You always have. “

 

 

 

“When we were in the 7th grade, and I tried out for the dance team but twisted my ankle the second day of practice, you were right by my side, helping me up. You held my books for me while I was on crutches. I felt like such an idiot. Who hurts themselves the day after they’re accepted onto a team? You gave me nothing but encouragement though.”

 

 

 

“I didn’t know anything about dance at the time. I joined because it looked fun. I was really bad at first.” Hoseok laughs at the memory. “I looked like a flailing noodle trying to move my body in all these ways it wasn’t used to when I healed. You didn’t doubt me though. You told me I could do anything I set my mind to. You’re the main reason I stuck with it. I thought about quitting over and over, but you told me that even if I didn’t look like it then, I was meant to be a dancer.”

 

 

 

Hoseok sends Taehyung a brightly shining smile, “You’re the reason I’m dancing right now Tae. Without you, I don’t think I would have ever stuck with it, and I wouldn’t be so happy doing what I love most in life. Thank you for always supporting me.”

 

 

 

Taehyung’s throat burns again. He hadn’t planned on crying again, not after venting last night, but Hoseok is testing his limits.

 

 

 

 Jungkook is the next to speak up.

 

 

 

“I met you the summer before 6th grade. Our moms enrolled us into an art summer camp. I was shy back then, well, more so than I am now. I was terrified of talking to other people, so being in a rowdy camp full of screaming kids was overwhelming. I kept to myself, mostly spending the days doodling and coloring on my own at the farthest table from everyone else. No one sat with me besides a teacher on occasion, who tried to get me out of my shell. When I wouldn’t talk they would move on and leave me alone.”

 

 

 

“I was scared of talking to others, but I hoped they would talk to me. I wanted to make friends, but that isn’t so easy for introverted people like me.”

 

 

 

 I remember a shaggy brown headed boy with dorky glasses sit with me one day. He was quiet, and opened up this huge box of crayons and markers. You didn’t say anything, just offered me a dark blue crayon.”

 

 

 

“I would sit there every day, and after that you would too. We talked little by little, mostly about colors and different cartoons we liked doodling. You didn’t force me to talk. If I didn’t answer, you would move on and ask another question later. I got comfortable. And little by little, I opened up to you. When I got home from camp I told my mom all about the friend I made. She asked me what your name was but I didn’t remember ever getting it. I was so sad.”

 

 

 

“Then, when orientation came around, I was wandering through the middle school when I saw you. We froze on the spot, and then we were running towards each other and I hugged you. We’ve been best friends ever since. I still have that blue crayon too.”

 

 

 

 Jungkook grabs his hand. “You’ve always been so outgoing Tae, never had a problem making friends. But you have never left me out, and brought me into your circle. I met my two other best friends because of you.”

 

 

 

“My favorite thing about you is your big heart. You make room for everyone, never leaving a single person by themselves.”

 

 

 

Taehyung scrunches his nose. First Hoseok and now Jungkook? They really want to see him ugly cry again don’t they?

 

 

 

He makes eye contact with Jimin, who smirks. “Oh no, not you too,” he says.

 

 

 

“What can I say? We have a way with words.” Jimin laughs quietly.

 

 

 

 “I’m thankful everyday that you pushed Hoseok to dance. I wouldn’t have met him and fallen in love otherwise.” Jimin pauses for a moment and grabs Hoseok’s hand to kiss it. He throws Hoseok a loving stare and scoots himself back towards Taehyung.

 

 

 

“Meeting you was like meeting my other half Tae. I have never clicked with someone so fast. I’m convinced we’re soulmates to this very day.” Jimin throws his arm around Taehyung and cuddles his shoulder.

 

 

 

“Out of all of us, I had the hardest time coming out. I was made fun of a lot for not being manly enough in high school. I was softer sometimes, wearing pink sweaters and painting my nails. It was my favorite aesthetic, but even when everyone else did, you never judged me. You stuck by me, even when they started laughing at you too.”

 

 

 

“When I realized I was bisexual, you were the first person I told. Do you remember what you told me?” Jimin asks.

 

 

 

Taehyung nods shyly. “I told you to be unapologetically you.”

 

 

 

Jimin giggles. “Yup! You told me it doesn’t matter what they think, because at the end of the day, the only person’s opinion I should care about is myself. And I took that to heart. I told myself it every morning in the mirror while I got ready for school.”

 

 

 

 “I came to terms with my sexuality eventually, but accepting myself wasn’t the hardest. It was telling my family. I was terrified of them, scared to be hated and judged by the people who brought me into this world. Would they regret ever having me if they knew I was different?”

 

 

 

“That day in the kitchen, when I promised myself I would finally tell my mom, I was shaking. My legs were jiggling like jello. I thought I was going to throw up. But you were right next to me the whole time, and you held my hand through it all. You held my hand when I told my mom I like boys and girls, and held my hand when she told me it was just a phase, that bisexuality wasn’t a thing.”

 

 

 

“Hearing those words from my own mother broke my heart. I broke down crying and ran to my room. I heard yelling after. You scolded my mom, told her that as a mother she should be supportive, whether she believed in my sexuality or not. You guys went at it, arguing back and forth until I heard you stomp up the stairs and grab my arm. You pulled me down the stairs and out of the house, but not before yelling into the house loudly, ‘Jimin doesn’t deserve someone who shames him in a house he’s supposed to feel safe in.’ and slammed the front door.”

 

 

 

“That was the most shocking thing I had ever witnessed, because I’ve never seen you so mad. You let me sleep over at your house and shared your bed with me. We would spend every night talking, and you would listen quietly when I told you all about my doubts and my fears.”

 

 

 

“My mom apologized eventually, and she told me she was glad I had such a good friend like you, who wasn’t afraid to stand up for what they believed in even if they had to fight the world doing it.”

 

 

 

Jimin tilts his head up and props his chin on Taehyung’s shoulder. “Taehyung, you have so many amazing qualities. Qualities most of the world is lacking. You’re so supportive, so kind to everyone you meet, and you’re not afraid to stand up for others. Now it’s time to stand up for yourself, to show that same kindness and support you give to everyone, have given to us, to yourself. Because if anyone deserves to be happy, it’s you.”

 

 

 

Taehyung opens his mouth to say something, but closes it. His friends all share the same, loving looks and he absolutely loses it. “I didn’t want to cry again dammit!”

 

 

 

His friends’ laughter chimes and echoes through their dorm, and they spend the rest of the day peppering kisses all over Taehyung’s cheeks and telling him all the things they love about him.

 

 

 

“You know Tae, sex isn’t important to everyone. It might have been for Bogum, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find someone who can go without it just as easily as you can. I don’t think you should be scared of confessing to Yoongi. I think you two could make each other very happy.” Hoseok murmurs.

 

 

 

Taehyung hunches his shoulders and nods.

 

 

 

Jungkook chimes in, “Whether you want to confess or not is up to you, but know we’ll support you no matter what you do okay?”

 

 

 

Jimin grabs both his hands, the group standing at Taehyung’s dorm entrance bidding their goodbyes for the evening. “Promise me Tae, that you’ll strive for happiness. No matter how scary or hard it might be, just know we’ll be here with you every step of the way.”

 

 

 

Taehyung nods meekly. “I promise.”

 

 

 

With a final hug, the trio of friends take their leave. Taehyung closes the door behind them and stumbles back to his desk.

 

 

 

He picks up the flier Yoongi gave him yesterday.

 

 

Happiness huh? Does he think he could be happy with Yoongi?

 

 

 

He thinks back to what Yoongi said, about always being there to look out for him.

 

 

 

He gnaws absentmindedly on his inner cheek, a smile working his lips into a small curve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being with Yoongi would make me very happy, he concludes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Okay everyone! It’s time to start our meeting! I want to thank you all for coming! We didn’t expect such a big turn out, but we’re glad to have you whether you’re a fellow ace, another part of our lgbtq+ community, or just someone stopping by to learn something new. My name is Kim Hansol, and I am the organizer of this club.”

 

 

 

The meeting takes place in the Fine Arts Building, in one of the empty lecture halls. The back of the room hosts a wide array of snacks and drinks, overflowing with treats to fulfill any craving, be it sweet or salty.

 

 

 

When Taehyung and Yoongi walk in, Taehyung high tails it to the table and grabs a plate, shoving on as many cookies and chips as he can. Yoongi offers to get him a drink and asks what he wants, getting himself a bottle of water while he’s at it. When the two reunite again, they find a seat towards the outer edge of the middle row.

 

 

 

They arrived right on time, Yoongi’s habit of getting to places early balancing out Taehyung’s tendencies to run late. Taehyung offers him a cookie, but Yoongi declines. “I’ll take some chips though.”

 

 

 

 Taehyung and Yoongi are huddled together, quietly disputing the best flavor of chips. Taehyung still has some trouble keeping eye contact, but he can’t keep his eyes away from Yoongi’s charming smile for long.

 

 

 

Taehyung finishes his juice rather quickly, and when Yoongi’s not looking he takes a sip from his bottle of water. When Yoongi picks up the water bottle to take a sip, he narrows his eyes at the water level.

 

 

 

His eyes glide to Taehyung’s, who shrugs and sticks his tongue out playfully. “What’s yours is mine.”

 

 

 

 “Is that so?” Yoongi smirks, “ Does that mean your cookies are mine too?”

 

 

 

Taehyung flushes at his teasing. Yoongi reaches out a hand to the plate Taehyung is cradling in his arms. Taehyung has half a cookie in his mouth, and mumbles around it, slapping Yoongi’s hand away. “No, what’s mine is mine.”

 

 

 

 

Yoongi barks out a laugh, “You’re unbelievable. All those cookies and you can’t share one with me?”

 

 

 

 

Taehyung finishes chewing his cookie and swallows. “I offered one to you earlier and you refused! But I guess you can have one now, since you’re cute and all.”

 

 

 

It’s Yoongi’s turn to blush this time and Taehyung purses his lips to keep from laughing. Their moment is interrupted by the organizer introducing themselves, and that’s when the meeting officially starts.

 

.

 

“I have a brief power point to show you all, so we’re going to dim the lights a bit. I would like to give my thanks to AVEN for providing us with a website source and a safe place for our community to find solace and information. AVEN stands for the Asexual Visibility and Education Network. A lot of what I have from this power point can be found on their website. I highly recommend checking it out sometime!”

 

 

 

“So, let’s start off with this: What is asexuality?” He pauses and gazes over the crowd, waiting for someone to raise their hand to answer or to shout it out.

 

 

 

“Okay, so we’re a little shy. That’s perfectly fine. Feel free to ask any questions or add any comments when you think of any.”

 

 

 

“Asexuality, what is it?”

 

 

 

“ I think it becomes easier to understand once you know there are different types of attractions. The common ones are romantic, aesthetic, sensual, and sexual.”

 

 

 

“Romantic attraction is wanting to be in a relationship with someone, or romantically involved. Aesthetic attraction is appreciating someone’s appearance. You think ‘ah, this person looks good’. It’s like looking at a painting. It’s mesmerizing to look at, but you don’t necessarily want to touch it. And that’s okay.”

 

 

 

“Sensual attraction, in easier terms is non-sexual skin ship. This includes hugging, holding hands, kissing and cuddling. This differs from sexual attraction. Sexual attraction is wanting to engage in sexual activities with a person.”

 

 

 

“And asexuality, is the lack of sexual attraction.”

 

 

 

“I think another area where people can get confused is sexual attraction and libido/sex drive.”

 

 

 

Taehyung freezes at this and holds his breath. He peeks over at Yoongi, who’s attention is captured with interest on the powerpoint. Taehyung returns his eyes to Hansol and swallows nervously.

 

 

 

“You see, sexual attraction is wanting to engage in sexual activities WITH someone. Sex drive/libido refers to the aspect of sex itself, which can include masturbation or the desire to feel pleasure. It’s not tied to someone else. So asexuals can still have different levels of sex drive, but they don’t have the need to act on it with someone if they don’t want to.”

 

 

 

“Most people do experience sexual attraction, and can find it hard to ever try to imagine going without it. But sexual attraction is not something we can control. What they are speaking about is sex itself. Sex is just like any other activity. Just because most people like it doesn’t mean you have to.”

 

 

 

Taehyung releases his breath and he relaxes. It’s okay to be how he is. He doesn’t HAVE to like sex after all, just like Namjoon said. The tight coil in his chest loosens.

 

 

 

“And asexuality is a spectrum. There are those that don’t feel sexual attraction at all, and those that sometimes do. There are some people who only feel sexual attraction once they’ve developed an emotional connection. There’s some asexuals that don’t like sex at all. There’s some that don’t mind it, and there’s some that love it. Remember, you can like sex but not have the constant desire to engage in it with someone else.”

 

 

 

“One of the big issues asexuals face is living in such a sex-centric society. Sex sells, and often times this has us feeling displaced, or broken, because we can’t relate to everyone else. And I want to tell you you’re NOT broken. There is nothing wrong with you. People are all born different, come in all shapes, sizes and colors. We’re special in our own personal way.”

 

 

 

“Asexuals can love, they can FALL in love. Not desiring sex with someone you’re interested in or having it at all doesn’t mean you can’t find love. Oftentimes, asexuals will use the split attraction model to label themselves. All it means is that they separate romantic attraction from sexual attraction. Remember, labels aren’t necessary, but if you want to label yourself to help find others like you that’s perfectly fine. Asexuals can love those of the same gender, those of the opposite gender, and some may not care about genders at all!”

 

 

 

Taehyung peeks over at Yoongi again, and finds that he’s already looking at him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Yoongi gives him a small smile and reaches out. He hovers his hand over Taehyung’s arm, silently requesting permission. Taehyung forgoes it and intertwines their hands together instead, giving Yoongi a light squeeze to thank him quietly. Yoongi squeezes his hand back in answer.

 

 

 

“And if you are an asexual who doesn’t experience romantic attraction, or envision yourself being with someone in a romantic way, that’s okay too. Like I said, people are all born different. There’s no standard of ‘normalcy’ despite what society tries to force. Or at least there shouldn’t be. So don’t let the oppressive tendencies of our society make you feel like you’re worthless. You are very much valid.”

 

 

 

Taehyung feels a tingle in his heart at the words. It’s a comforting hand on his soul.

 

 

 

 He’s not alone. There are others like him. He’s not broken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm not broken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 You are not broken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My closing statement is this: sexualities can sometimes be fluid. And I say that because we are constantly learning something new about ourselves every day. If you find yourself relating to what I shared with you all, then you may be asexual. And if sometime in the future you discover things that indicate you’re not, that’s perfectly fine too! Life is a journey of self-discovery. So whether you already know who you are, or you’re still trying to figure things out, we’ll always welcome you with open arms.”

 

 

 

The crowd claps, and students are whistling and jumping for joy, their encouraging hollers filling the space. Yoongi stands up and he’s cheering too.

 

 

 

Taehyung stares up at him, eyes dazzling in awe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoongi smiles down at him, gums showing and squishy cheeks scrunched. Taehyung melts at the sight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love you so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“So what did you think?” Yoongi says as they walk out the lecture hall, hands still clasped together. When Yoongi notices he blushes and drops his hand. Taehyung chuckles, the tips of his ears burning red.

 

 

 

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that? I’m the asexual one.” The word is comfortable on Taehyung’s tongue. His voice holds no malice when he says it. He announces it like he would announce his favorite color, which also happens to be part of the ace flag mind you.

 

 

 

He likes the way it flows out of his mouth, so he says it again.

 

 

 

“I’m asexual.” He throws Yoongi his best smile, the boxy one where his eyes squint shut and his nose scrunches.

 

 

 

Yoongi pinches his cheek. “I know you are silly.”

 

 

 

“I saw a few people there from some of my classes. I don’t know if they noticed me, but I’m going to try being friends with them. It would be nice to be friends with other aces,” he says excitedly.

 

 

 

“That’s a great idea. Maybe once you’re friends you can introduce me to them too.” Taehyung smiles so hard at that reply that his cheeks start to feel sore.

 

 

 

They walk together in a comfortable silence, the afternoon sun hanging low amidst the blending of yellows, pinks, and oranges in the sky. Taehyung stops and Yoongi takes a few steps forward before he notices. He looks over his shoulder.

 

 

 

“Taehyung?”

 

 

 

Taehyung kicks a small rock on the campus pathway, watching it skip a few feet away until it lands on vivid green grass. He stares up at Yoongi.

 

 

 

He fumbles with his fingers. “What do you think…of people who don’t like having sex?”

 

 

 

Yoongi turns completely around to face Taehyung directly. “If they don’t like it, they don’t like it. My opinion doesn’t matter.”

 

 

 

“It matters to me,” Taehyung mumbles. He looks shyly at the ground again.

 

 

 

Yoongi tilts his head and observes him for a second. He thinks for a minute before he responds. “Personally, sex doesn’t matter much to me. I don’t have an issue having it, but I could live easily without it too.”

 

 

 

Taehyung’s breathe hitches.

 

 

 

 

“And I think, if two people love each other, as long as they respect each other and set boundaries, they can make anything work.”

 

 

 

 

Taehyung peeks up at him in surprise before horror overtakes his features.

 

 

 

“Now music on the other hand, is a life necessity. I definitely couldn’t survive without it.” Yoongi pretends to swoon, his head tilting backwards and the back of his hand brushing his forehead. He shows hints of a smile.

 

 

 

Taehyung smiles and laughs. “I can understand that. Music is special to me too.”

 

 

 

Their discussion transitions into music, Taehyung talking about his courses and Yoongi listening in interest.

 

 

 

He finds it comforting how Yoongi can sense when he starts feeling awkward about something, because once Taehyung realized how insanely personal of him it was to ask Yoongi about sex, he began flailing. Yoongi was quick to pick up on it and changed the subject to music, a topic that doesn’t fail to bring happiness back on Taehyung’s face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s one more to add to his list of reasons for loving Min Yoongi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Namjoon’s laying in bed watching tv when he hears the bedroom door creak. Jungkook slowly pushes the door open, dragging his feet across the carpet and dropping his athletic bag on the floor. He lets himself fall face first onto the bed and lets out a muffled whine.

 

 

 

Namjoon twists to reach for the remote laying on the nightstand next to him. He pauses the show and throws the remote off to the side, where it lands softly on the comforter. He pushes the blankets down with his legs and crawls over to Jungkook, where he begins to rub his back affectionately.

 

 

 

“You okay Kook?”

 

 

 

Jungkook muffles another whine and Namjoon chuckles. “That bad huh?”

 

 

 

Namjoon sits quietly and continues to stroke his back, which soon turns into a full-blown body massage.

 

 

 

 Jungkook’s hair is damp, so he must have taken a shower in the locker room after practice before coming home.

 

 

 

Jungkook inches himself towards the center of the bed, and Namjoon follows. Namjoon throws a leg over Jungkook’s backside to sit on him, giving him a better angle to massage his shoulders. He doesn’t let his weight crush Jungkook, putting most of it on his thighs that are hugging the younger’s hips tightly.

 

 

 

He kneads his shoulders gently, applying firmer pressure in the areas that are tense with knots.

 

 

 

“Oh god, yes!” Jungkook moans.

 

 

 

Namjoon chuckles and works his way down, rubbing his thumbs in circles as he presses into Jungkook’s lower back. Jungkook’s moans are sweet to his ears, and it sends a jolt of hot desire through him. Jungkook wiggles his butt, perking it up a little and turning his head to the side.

 

 

 

“Could you please do my legs? I can’t feel them. They’re so sore.”

 

 

 

Namjoon leans forward and kisses his temple. “Sure thing.”

 

 

 

Namjoon adjusts himself and sits next to his lower body. Jungkook turns around and places a leg on Namjoon’s lap. He slowly kneads at Jungkook’s thighs, marveling at his muscles.

 

 

 

He can’t help himself and leans down to kiss his outer thigh. Jungkook’s eyes flutter close at the contact, warmth uncoiling all the muscles in his body as he relaxes. He breathes out a satisfied sigh.

 

 

 

When Namjoon reaches his calves, Jungkook’s eyes snap open and they almost roll into the back of his head. “Please, please, please,” he begs.

 

 

 

Namjoon chuckles and asserts firmer pressure as he rubs his calves.

 

 

 

“So how’s Taehyung holding up? If you’re this sore, I can’t imagine how Taehyung must be feeling.”

 

 

 

Jungkook snorts. “He’s a mess. A hot mess I tell you. It’s his own fault for waiting until the last minute. There’s less than a month left until the festival so Jimin’s working him to the bone. And by association, me too.”

 

 

 

“It’s sweet that you volunteered to be one of his backup dancers for his solo. I’m sure it’ll ease his nerves knowing he has a friend on stage with him.” Namjoon’s thumb presses into a tight knot of muscle that has Jungkook’s back arching off the bed.

 

 

 

“Fuck, that hurts so bad but it feels so good,” he gasps.

 

 

 

Namjoon gazes at Jungkook’s face, imprinting every single expression to his memory. Jungkook’s groans don’t stop when he switches to the other leg.

 

 

 

Jungkook feels a tickle under his nose, and he senses a sneeze coming on. He turns his head and sneezes loudly, rubbing his nose with his finger. “I’m hoping he builds up enough courage to confess to Yoongi after his performance. He’s using the song he and Yoongi collaborated on from last semester.”

 

 

 

Namjoon hums. “What a coincidence. Yoongi’s preparing something for him too. Hoseok’s been helping him out in secret. I think he’s going to perform Seesaw.”

 

 

 

This has Jungkook sitting upright, the soreness of his muscles forgotten immediately. His jaw slacks open, and his nose scrunches adorably as he squeals in delight.

 

 

 

“So this is how he’s telling Taehyung he’s SUGA hm? I’m sure it’ll mean a lot to him, to both of them. That is so cute, so so cute.”

 

 

 

Namjoon nods in agreement. “It won’t be just Taehyung he’s telling, but everyone. It’s fitting, considering he’s graduating. Everyone knows he’s Agust D, but they don’t know he’s also SUGA. Two sides of the same coin. It’ll take people by surprise, considering how popular his music is on campus.”

 

 

 

Jungkook’s hopping up and down on the bed, clapping furiously in excitement. “I was wondering when he’d tell Taehyung. I showed him that song last summer when Yoongi-hyung first released it on soundcloud. He’s been obsessed with it ever since. It means a lot to him, that song. It helped him through the pain of his breakup. I wonder how he’ll react. Maybe Yoongi will confess to him too!!”

 

 

 

Namjoon smiles softly. “They’ve been so oblivious to each other’s feelings for so long.”

 

 

 

Jungkook settles down and leans on his arms, folding his legs under him. “Taehyung’s been cautious. It hasn’t even been a year yet since his breakup, so the wounds are still a little fresh. He doesn’t want to get hurt again, but I don’t think Yoongi-hyung ever would. I think he’s been an important pillar through Taehyung’s healing. They would be good together.”

 

 

 

Namjoon brushes a wisp of hair from Jungkook’s face and tucks it behind his ear. “I don’t think Yoongi would confess first. He understands the pain Taehyung has struggled with, and he’s willing to stay patiently by his side, whether they remain as friends or if it develops into something more. If they’re going to get together, Taehyung would have to confess. Yoongi doesn’t want to rush or push him into anything he’s not ready for.”

 

 

 

The two crawl into bed, tucking themselves under the covers. Jungkook stares up at Namjoon, and places a loving kiss on his lips. When they pull apart, Namjoon caresses his cheek gently and leans back in for more. They kiss each other slowly, languidly, taking the time to lose themselves in the feeling, in the comfort they bring one another.

 

 

 

When Jungkook pulls away, his cheeks are flushed and his pupils have dilated. “Make love to me?” he whispers.

 

 

 

Namjoon’s reply comes with a more passionate kiss, the building desire from earlier flaring in his veins. Jungkook is just as eager and pulls their clothes off piece by piece, until no article of clothing is left to separate their bodies.

 

 

 

They spend the rest of the night in the throes of passion, declaring their love wordlessly, opening their hearts to one another and basking in it’s sweetness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I think I’m dying.”

 

 

 

Taehyung is laying motionlessly on the ground, panting breathlessly. His shirt is sticking to his back and he hates the feeling but with the way his sweat is soaking through his shirt it can’t be helped.

 

 

 

“I didn’t think asking for your help meant asking you to try to kill me,” he whines.

 

 

 

Jimin is sweating, sitting on the ground next to him with a water bottle to his lips that he gulps down until it’s empty.

 

 

 

“If you’re going to be dancing while singing, we have to build up your stamina. I’m still coming up with the choreography, but we should be able to start practicing it here in a few days. That’ll give us exactly three weeks until the festival.”

 

 

 

Taehyung closes his eyes and focuses on his breathing. When he decided he wanted to perform at the End of the Year festival after all, his manager was jumping with joy. She helped him sign up, and from there it was figuring out what to perform.

 

 

 

He had thought about it all day, shuffling through his playlist to find a song he wanted to cover. That’s when his song came on, his and Yoongi’s song, the one he helped write lyrics to.

 

 

 

His mind drifted off as he laid his arm underneath his head, the shadow from the tree above concealing him from the sun. The days were increasingly getting hotter, but it was pleasant enough if you stayed in the shade.

 

 

 

 

The song continued to pour through his ears, and as he listened to his own voice sing his lyrics, he felt a pang of sadness. He was so lost, so confused when he had written this, still clueless to who he was. He had been trying too hard to pretend to be someone he was not for so many years.

 

 

 

He thinks it’d be fitting to perform this, to sing these lyrics as the Taehyung he has come to be. It’d be like a homage to the Taehyung he once was. They are no longer the same person, the one who hated himself and was drowning in sorrow.

 

 

 

 Taehyung knows who he is now and is slowly learning to love himself more and more with each passing day.

 

 

 

“Taehyung, you ready to head out for singing practice?” Jin pops his head through the door.

 

 

 

Taehyung curses under his breath. He had forgotten about the singing challenge today. He peeks an eye open to look at him and pleads. “Can we reschedule? I’m on the verge of death here.”

 

 

 

Jin pushes the door open and scurries inside, “Nope. We’re on a tight schedule. If you want to keep from shitting your pants in front of the whole university then you need to get your ass up and to the showers.”

 

 

 

With a flurry of undecipherable complaints, Taehyung rolls over onto his stomach and slides his way across the studio floor, like some sort of inch worm, towards the showers. When he disappears from sight Jin sighs and leans against the wall of mirrors.

 

 

 

Jimin uses this chance to start his cool down stretches. “So how is he doing singing in front of small crowds?”

 

 

 

“He’s not doing bad at all. I had him singing at the local park in the mornings. There’s few people, so it’ll get him adjusted to singing in a public space. But with the festival so close, we’re having to speed things along. It’s not that he’s scared of singing in front of people, he just doesn’t have much confidence. That’s changing though. I can tell by the less stiff  movements that he’s getting accustomed to it.”

 

 

 

Jimin bends over his legs and reaches for his feet, holding the position for 10 seconds. “That’s good to hear. He’s going to blow everyone away. Have you listened to the song?”

 

 

 

Jin frowns. “I have. It’s rather heartbreaking that he wrote lyrics like that. It’s a personal song to him, so I’m shocked he wants to perform it.”

 

 

 

Jimin releases his hold and stands up. “I think that’s the point. He’s ready to let go of those feelings.”

 

 

 

Jin nods. “The park gets crowded in the evening, so it’ll be good to switch it up in preparation. He’s been singing random pop songs, but I’m going to have him switch to ballads tonight. ‘Singularity’ is a mellow song. How’s the choreography for it coming along?”

 

 

 

Jimin rests a hand on his hip and cocks his head to the side in thought. “Pretty good. I have one verse left to choreograph. The dance is sensual and flows with the rhythm of the song. By the way, I was going to ask you, what are we going to do for his outfit?”

 

 

 

There’s a mischievous twinkle in Jin’s eyes and he winks. “I’ve already got it covered. Remember what he wore to that beach club we went to? I’m basing it off that, and adding my own flare to it. I think he’ll love it.”

 

 

 

“Ooo that gives me goosebumps thinking about it. It’ll be a powerful performance. I think he’ll have the crowd swooning.” Jimin shivers and smirks.

 

 

 

Jin laughs, “I don’t doubt that. “

 

 

 

Taehyung walks in then, hair dripping wet and dressed out of his workout clothes into something more casual. Wide-legged dark brown pants and a white button up frame his silhouette; A pair of brown leather sandals grace his feet.

 

 

 

Jin raises an eyebrow, “Are you not going to dry your hair?”

 

 

 

Taehyung shrugs. “It’ll air dry. And if it gets frizzy I have this—” he holds up a brown beret.

 

 

 

Taehyung and Jimin set a time for practice the next day, and Taehyung hugs him before he trails after Jin out of the studio. They’re walking along the campus sidewalk quietly, Jin holding a portable speaker in his hand and Taehyung holding his workout bag over his shoulder.

 

 

 

They don’t notice Hoseok and Yoongi slide into the same dance studio behind them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was less than two weeks left to what Taehyung now refers to as “D-DAY”. He’s been busy, struggling between finishing up assignments and studying for finals, and practicing his choreography and singing. Each day leaves him more tired than the last, passing out almost immediately as soon as his head hits the pillow on his cozy bed.

 

 

 

He’s dozing off to sleep when he hears the ‘ding’ of a text message. He groans in frustration and squints an eye open, fishing for the phone that’s lying facedown somewhere next to him. When his fingers find it, he holds it up in front of his face and lets the brightness blind him.

 

 

 

It’s a text in their group chat, Jin inviting everyone over for a surprise. Taehyung rubs his eyes and looks at the corner of his screen at the time. It’s only 6PM. Taehyung was so exhausted he almost fell asleep at 6PM. What kind of college student goes to bed that early?

 

 

 

He forces himself off the bed, neck cracking and he stretches it. He twists himself to one side and hears his lower back crack loudly, and it’s pleasing when he hears it again as he does the other side.

 

 

 

He rises from the bed and doesn’t bother changing. He’s in basketball shorts and an old raggedy t-shirt. Not even the chance of seeing Yoongi gives him enough energy to find something decent. He grabs his keys and his wallet and stumbles out of his dorm, still half asleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Taehyung enters Namjoon and Jin’s apartment (Kookie’s too at this point), he doesn’t have to inhale too deeply to catch the smell of steak wafting under his nose. His mouth begins to water almost on command, and he walks past the entrance and into the living room under in a trance-like state.

 

 

 

“See! I told you! Look at his face! The smell of steak is seduction personified!” Namjoon yells when he points at Taehyung, who trudges on past Namjoon and Jungkook who are currently curled up on the couch together.

 

 

 

Jungkook throws his head back in a fit of giggles, “I don’t think steak can be considered sexy,” he wheezes.

 

 

 

They hear Yoongi shout from the kitchen, “You just wait and see when I’m done with it. I’ll prove you wrong.”

 

 

 

Namjoon and Jungkook can be heard laughing behind them, but Taehyung’s too busy following the smell of mouth-watering deliciousness right to it’s source.

 

 

 

 Jimin is grilling some veggies, back turned until he has to get a few spices from the pantry. He jumps in shock and screams, hand covering his heart as it beats frantically in his chest.

 

 

 

“Tae, you ass! You almost gave me a heart attack! Don’t creep up on me like that!”

 

 

 

Upon hearing Taehyung’s nickname, Yoongi glances over his shoulder and a smile overtakes his lips. “Ah, Taehyung-ah, glad you could make it. We’re finishing up dinner right now. It should be ready in about 10 minutes.”

 

 

 

Taehyung’s eyes glaze over, “So hungry—” he whines as he reaches out a hand toward Yoongi dramatically.

 

 

 

His mouth is wide open and Jimin takes this chance to stuff three pieces of sautéed asparagus into his mouth. Taehyung closes his mouth and chews, humming in pleasure when the flavor erupts on his tongue.  

 

 

 

“I love asparagus,” he says around a mouthful of food.

 

 

 

“You and me both,” Yoongi says as he returns to searing the steaks.

 

 

 

Jimin wipes his hands on his apron and shoos Taehyung out of the kitchen. “Jin told me to send you to his room when you got here. Go on, scram!”

 

 

 

Jimin twists a kitchen towel in his hands and smacks Taehyung’s butt with it, who yelps and scrambles out of there to avoid another whipping.

 

 

 

Taehyung grumbles as he walks down the hall and knocks on Jin’s bedroom.

 

 

 

“Come in!”

 

 

 

It’s not Jin who welcomes him in, but Hoseok, who is laying on his stomach in Jin’s bed, casually flipping through a magazine.

 

 

 

 Jin is sitting in the corner of his room hunched over his sewing machine. He has a few pins sticking out from his lips when he turns to wave Taehyung over.

 

 

 

“Hey, Hobi,” Taehyung says when he walks past him.

 

 

 

“Yo.”

 

 

 

Hoseok’s feet are kicking the air, too absorbed with the magazine to tear his eyes away from it when he greets him. Taehyung peers over Jin’s shoulder to see what he’s working on. His eyes widen in delight.

 

 

 

Jin pulls the robe away from the machine and cuts the piece of thread still connecting them together. He stands up from his chair and passes the robe to Taehyung, taking the pins out of his mouth to tell him to try it on.

 

 

 

Taehyung pulls it on and falls in love with it. He creeps over to the mirror and checks himself out, staring in marvel at the pattern of blossoms covering the shiny black satin.

 

 

 

“It’s perfect,” he whispers in awe.

 

 

 

Jin smiles, his eyes crinkling at the happiness on Taehyung’s face. “I’m glad you like it.”

 

 

 

“There’s one more thing I wanted to show you,” Jin says as Taehyung takes off the robe and passes it back to him.

 

 

 

Jin places the robe on a hanger and hides it in his closet. He gestures Taehyung to the bed and steals the magazine from under Hoseok.

 

 

 

“Hey, I was reading that!” he whines.

 

 

 

Jin shushes him and hands the magazine to Taehyung. “Our perfume ad has been published in this magazine. It got shipped to me yesterday. It’ll be out in stores tomorrow.”

 

 

 

Taehyung grabs it and flips through the pages, eyes skimming through it until he finds their pictures toward the middle of the magazine. The ad is 6 pages long, which is rather ridiculous, but when his eyes land on the photos spanning the entire page he understands why. Two pages are dedicated to Jin’s photos, two are dedicated to him, and the last two is one giant photo of them together.

 

 

 

He stares at the last two pages, analyzing every square inch of their picture. Jin is holding Taehyung in his arms, the sunlight bathing them in a golden hue. They are sitting on the bed, Jin’s arms wrapped around his waist and chin resting on his shoulder as he looks into the camera. Taehyung has his head tilted slightly back onto Jin’s shoulder, elongating the length of his neck.

 

 

 

It’s not their intimate hold that catches his attention, not the photoshop that has their skin looking smooth and flawless, not the pillows surrounding them, not the feathers added in during editing, not even the glimpse of the blue sea though the windows.

 

 

 

It’s the way he’s looking at the camera, eyes looking straight into the lens with a soft look overtaking his features, and his mouth is slightly parted. His eyes are filled with an emotion he knows very well now, but didn’t at the time of the photoshoot.

 

 

 

He looks love-struck, and his eyes are filled with longing. Taehyung thinks back to the day of the photoshoot, remembering how his mind wandered to Yoongi. Is this the way he looks at Yoongi? Are his feelings really that obvious?

 

 

 

“If you’re thinking what I’m thinking you’re thinking, then the answer is yes,” Jin says casually, his full lips parting into a toothy smile.

 

 

 

“Am I really this obvious?” Taehyung asks, staring up at Jin.

 

 

 

Hoseok is the one who answers him seconds later. “Yup! When you talk to or think about Yoongi-hyung, you get this dopey, love-struck expression on your face. It’s a miracle that he hasn’t noticed. He’s just as oblivious as you are.”

 

 

 

Taehyung squeals in embarrassment, hiding his face in his hands. “He’s going to notice! Oh god I’m not ready to confess yet!”

 

 

 

Taehyung panics, and he paces the bedroom. Hoseok sits up on the bed and pulls Taehyung onto his lap, patting his head in reassurance.

 

 

 

“There, there, don’t worry. I promise you he won’t think about it that way. He’ll be too busy drooling over your photos anyways…..” Hoseok mumbles the last sentence.

 

 

 

Taehyung peers up at Hoseok, catching the first sentence but not the last. “What did you say?”

 

 

 

“Nothing!”

 

 

 

Hoseok beams a sweet smile at him and smooches his forehead. “C’mon, let’s go set the table!”

 

 

 

Hoseok pulls Taehyung along to the kitchen to get plates and silverware, and Jin follows after them with the box of magazines in his hands, wanting to give each of the friends their own copy when dinner is over.

 

 

 

The friends are all gathered at the table when Yoongi reaches past them to place a giant plate of medium cooked steaks in the center. The steaks are still sizzling, the steam rolling off of it and filling the air with meaty scent.

 

 

 

“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you’re right hyung. These steaks look really sexy.” Jungkook stabs a piece of steak with his fork and uses his knife to carry it onto his plate.

 

 

 

“Told you,” Yoongi says triumphantly, pleased with the moans of pleasure and non-stop praise they give him as they bite into their steak.

 

 

 

Jimin brings over the last of the food dishes, vegetables and potatoes, and they all dig in. By the time they’re done eating, they’re all rubbing their stomachs.

 

 

 

 Jin clears his throat and asks for everyone’s attention.

 

 

 

“As some of you and some of you not may know, Taehyung and I did a photoshoot together for a perfume ad. I figured you’d want to be blessed with our charms, so I got each of you a copy. Just know that we do not accept autograph requests without a small fee.”

 

 

 

The group rolls their eyes in unison and each take a magazine when Jin passes them one.

 

 

 

“We’re on pages 24-29.”

 

 

 

Jimin and Jungkook whistle loudly, “Damn Taehyung, and you said you weren’t photogenic. I would’ve thought you were a model if I didn’t know you better.”

 

 

 

“These pictures are stunning Taehyung! You did a great job!” Namjoon adds.

 

 

 

All the friends throw in compliment over compliment and Taehyung grows red at the attention. The only one who has yet to say anything was Yoongi, who was still staring down at the page with a blank look on his face.

 

 

 

They all turn to look at him, and Hoseok smirks. “Anything you wanted to say hyung? Taehyung looks amazing huh?”

 

 

 

Yoongi breaks out of his trance and stares up at all of them, whose rapt attention fall on him, and he flushes a deep shade of pink. He mumbles something and Hoseok leans over to him, hand behind his ear, a devilish grin on his face.

 

 

 

“Sorry, what was that hyung? You’re going to have to say that a little louder.”

 

 

 

Yoongi squirms in his seat. “I said you look beautiful Taehyung-ah”.

 

 

 

The whole table erupts into coos and awes.

 

 

 

Their friends get a kick out of teasing Yoongi and Taehyung, who can’t seem to look each other in the eye for the rest of the night, a fierce blush permanently staining their cheeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With less than a week away from Yoongi’s graduation date and the festival, Taehyung is working overdrive to perfect his performance.

 

 

 

He’s already finished his finals, ending the semester with straight As. He’s been practicing day and night, first by himself and then later on with his back up dancers, those (including Jungkook) who had volunteered to take part in his performance.

 

 

 

Everything has been coordinated already, thanks to the efforts of Namjoon who managed to get the instrumental of the song from Yoongi without him knowing what it was for.

 

 

 

They used a bullshit excuse, something about him wanting to use the track as a lullaby for one of his cousins. Yoongi didn’t question it though. As absurd as it sounded even to his own ears, he complied, handing the instrumental version of the song to Namjoon on a flash drive.

 

 

 

Namjoon met with the organizer of the festival, who then steered him to the direction of the sound tech--the one who would be in charge of music-- and handed him the flash drive.

 

 

 

He also met with the crew in charge of the lighting, letting them know Taehyung’s performance will require blue spotlights. With the music, choreography and props ready, all that was left was his costume.

 

 

 

Jin had his outfit ready a few days before Yoongi’s graduation. He assembled and adjusted it accordingly after he had Taehyung try it on.

 

 

 

The outfit was dark, a goth ensemble accented by a tight harness around his waist that connected to another harness on his thigh. It was essentially the outfit he wore to the club--the night he sang to himself, to the moon.

 

 

 

It was the robe that gave the finishing touch, falling around him gracefully, the pink and white blossoms a contrast to his black attire.

 

 

 

As he’s staring at his outfit his mind drifts off to Yoongi, which has become a common occurrence as of late.

 

 

 

Taehyung spent time wondering, wondering whether he should confess to Yoongi the day of the festival. He wasn’t nervous to perform, at least not yet, but he thinks he will be once the day arrives.

 

 

 

He doesn’t want to add on the stress of confessing on top of that. He’ll be wired enough as is. He wants his sole focus to be on this performance. In the end, he decides his confession to Yoongi can wait a little while longer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung spends the last two days before the festival going over the choreography again and again. He’s perfected the performance, and he knows without a doubt he’ll take them by surprise, take him by surprise.

 

 

 

Sweat is trickling down his forehead, and when he finishes the dance for the last time, his chest heaving at the exertion, he smiles confidently into the mirror.

 

 

 

 He’s ready.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day of Yoongi’s graduation, the group of friends find an empty spot on the bleachers. The ceremony takes place in the morning, before the sun has risen to the highest point in the sky, relieving them from it’s blistering heat.

 

 

 

The football stadium is filled to the brim with parents, extended families, significant others, and friends, all here to honor their graduating students.

 

 

 

The field is lined up with rows of chairs, each one still empty since the ceremony had yet to start. They weren’t too far from the stage. They sat close enough that they would be able to see Yoongi’s face if they squinted hard enough.  

 

 

 

They got there rather early, so they spent some time lost in conversation, coming up with summer plans and activities they could all do together.

 

 

 

 When the college faculty appeared through the stadium entrance, they made their way up the stairs and sat on the chairs lining the back of the stage. The Dean approached the podium and leaned into the speaker announcing the beginning of the ceremony.

 

 

 

The audience grew quiet as the Dean gave his speech, and Taehyung had to hold back a laugh as Hoseok pretended to fall asleep at the monotone drawl the Dean talked in. Taehyung bounced his leg in anticipation, waiting for the graduates to enter the stadium.

 

 

 

Music began to blare through the speakers, and the crowd all stood up, cheering as the file of college students walked to their chairs. They were all dressed in the same red cap and gown. When they found their seats and the ceremony officially commenced, the friends began taking bets on where Yoongi was seated.

 

 

 

“His last name starts with M, so he has to be in the last quarter of students. I think he’s sitting in row 28.” Jin places his bet with the upmost confidence.

 

 

 

Namjoon scans his eyes over the crowd. “I think he’s in row 20.”

 

 

 

“I say row 24.” Hoseok gives himself a little nod.

 

 

 

Jungkook and Jimin pick the same row and they say it at the same time. Neither is willing to change their answer, so they play rock paper scissors to decide who gets row 27. Jungkook ends up winning and Jimin settles on row 26.

 

 

 

Jimin leans forward to see Taehyung since he’s sitting on the other side of Jungkook. “What do you think Tae?”

 

 

 

Taehyung gazes over the crowd, eyes scanning each row starting from the back. When he spots him, he smiles. “Row 25, the second to last seat farthest from us.”

 

 

 

All the friends stare at him with their eyebrows furrowed.

 

 

 

“That was very specific. Just know that if he does end up sitting in that row but not in that chair, you lose.” Namjoon reminds him that whoever wins gets a favor from each one of them, no matter what it is.

 

 

 

“I’m sticking to my answer.”

 

 

 

Namjoon hufts but concedes. “Alrighty then. If none of us win then Yoongi automatically defaults as the winner.”

 

 

 

The group patiently listens as names are called and 45 minutes go by excruciating slow. Then they hear the name ‘Min Yoongi’ they perk up, scanning the rows to find out who the winner is.

 

 

 

When Yoongi rises to his feet and walks down the row to the center path that leads to the stage, the group of friends stare in shock at Taehyung.

 

 

 

“What the fuck.”

 

 

 

Taehyung shoots them a cunning smile. “Lucky guess.”

 

 

 

Taehyung doesn’t tell them that he gave Yoongi a charm to hang from his cap’s tassel. He had seen it at a shop last week and bought it. It was a small brown cookie nicknamed Shooky. He bought it because it reminded him of Yoongi’s smile and gave it to him as a graduation gift. When he spotted it, he knew it was Yoongi.

 

 

 

“I smell a cheater,” Jin says in accusation.

 

 

 

They argue in hushed whispers, bantering back and forth on how Taehyung must have cheated somehow. They drop the conversation when Yoongi steps onto the stage. Yoongi grabs his diploma from the Dean’s hand while bowing respectfully.

 

 

 

His friends jump up, loudly chanting his name and they laugh when Yoongi throws them the middle finger. He’s still beet red when he returns to his seat.

 

 

 

When the ceremony ends, it takes them a while to finally meet up with Yoongi, who had shed his gown and hat in favor of the black button up and black slacks he wore underneath. His keys were in his hands and Taehyung smiled to himself when he noticed that Shooky was hanging from his key chain.

 

 

 

“Congrats hyung!” Jimin throws himself into Yoongi, who stumbles back as Jimin wraps his arms around him.

 

 

 

“Thanks Jimin-ah,” Yoongi says fondly as he pats his back.

 

 

 

They take turns giving him congratulatory hugs, and Yoongi looks like a cat when he tries to wiggle out of their hold. When it’s Taehyung’s turn, Yoongi doesn’t fight it.

 

 

 

 If their hug lasts a little longer than the rest, no one mentions it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You guys didn’t have to treat me to a fancy dinner. I would’ve been fine heading back to the apartment to binge on pizza.”

 

 

 

They brought Yoongi to one of the best restaurants in the city. It was known for their sushi, something Yoongi was very keen of. When a waiter appears to take their order, Jimin requests a bottle of champagne for the special occasion.

 

 

 

They’re chattering obnoxiously loud when their food arrives. They each pour each other a glass of champagne and hold it up in the air, wanting a toast.

 

 

 

“To congratulate Yoongi on graduating university!” Hoseok shouts.

 

 

 

Yoongi chooses that moment to mention he has been offered a producing job for the city’s biggest record label and they all gasp.

 

 

 

“Let me rephrase that, in honor of Yoongi graduating university-- and landing a job as a producer fresh out of school because he’s a genius---we toast!”

 

 

 

Their glasses clink together.

 

 

 

They cheer and take sips of their drinks. Taehyung gives his glass of champagne a kitten-like lick and cringes, pulling the glass from his lips and setting it back on the table. Jimin downs his in one go like its water. The rest of the group finish it like normal people would.

 

 

 

Yoongi is sitting next to Taehyung so he only has to lean over to whisper in his ear. “Are you going to drink that?”

 

 

 

Yoongi’s raspy voice sends a tingle down Taehyung’s spine and his throat goes dry. He can’t speak and shakes his head instead. He hands the glass to Yoongi and watches him drink it, his lips touching the same glass his own did. Taehyung unconsciously brings his fingers to his lips, brushing it with the tip of his finger.

 

 

 

When he tears his eyes away from Yoongi’s neck and his bobbing adam’s apple, he licks his lips and glances around the table. He freezes when sees his friends are staring at him with knowing smirks on their faces.

 

 

 

 Taehyung fidgets in his seat, but the conversation continues on without mention of the incident for the rest of the evening, their friends bringing up stories Taehyung has yet to hear about Yoongi instead.

 

 

 

 He soaks up the retelling of old memories, of a Yoongi he did not yet know, eyes meeting Yoongi’s when a particular story has him laughing breathlessly and clutching his stomach.

 

 

 

Yoongi wants to smack his friends for bringing up such embarrassing stories of him, but he lets it slide when he sees the dazzling smile on Taehyung’s face as he laughs at each one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The end of the year festival is well underway by the time Taehyung wakes up. He glances at the clock and it’s 1pm. His performance isn’t until 8pm, the second to last one of the night.

 

 

 

There was one more performance after him, the biggest of the night according to the rumor spreading across campus.

 

 

 

The campus was still bustling with life despite the spring semester being over. Most students stuck around until the end of the festival before packing their things and heading home.

 

 

 

Taehyung had video chat his family, agreeing to visit for two weeks sometime over the summer. He hasn’t visited them or talked much to them since he and Bogum broke up.

 

 

 

They respected his need for distance, and they told him they would be here for him if he needs it. They didn’t live far, the same town Hoseok, Jimin and Jungkook’s family were from. Maybe the childhood friends could book the trip home together.

 

 

 

With the come of summer, Taehyung had been anxious about Yoongi’s plans after graduation. He hadn’t had time to ask him, too busy with everything that has been going on as of late.

 

 

 

 He had been worried about Yoongi leaving the city to find employment, and he hadn’t thought that far ahead as to what that could do to their relationship. They were close friends, and Taehyung knew that if Yoongi left, he would have taken Taehyung’s heart with him.

 

 

 

Luckily, there was no longer need to worry about that. With Yoongi’s new job starting at the end of the summer he would be sticking around.

 

 

 

Taehyung rolls out of bed and plants his feet on the ground. He heads to the dance studio one last time to practice, mostly going over the choreography with light steps so he doesn’t strain his muscles. When he’s satisfied, he heads out of the school building and treks back home, wanting to shower and change.

 

 

 

The group chat was wild with texts, and Taehyung didn’t follow the conversation as closely as he should have but in his defense he was busy getting ready. He didn’t bother doing his hair or putting his performance makeup on.

 

 

 

The school had a specific area blocked off for the performers to get ready behind the stage. They had curtains separating the space into small rooms, enough to change into their costume. Jimin had told him he would bring everything, and for Taehyung not to worry about it. He would handle it all.

 

 

 

So, Taehyung dressed himself in some jeans and a t-shirt, putting minimal effort into his outfit. He met up with Jimin and Hoseok first, and they explored a few of the food stalls. They had attended last year’s festival so they knew what type of stuff to expect but Taehyung was blown away at the complexity of it all.

 

 

 

A map was passed around by volunteer staff, mostly students, that had each area clearly marked and labeled. The stage was set in the middle of the campus square, and the stalls and booths were organized into specific areas around it.

 

 

 

Currently, the trio were in ‘Foods from Around the World’. Taehyung was tempted to try some new things because the stalls all ranged with traditional foods from other countries, but with his performance in a few hours he didn’t want to take any chances. He didn’t spend all this time practicing just to get food poisoning over a undercooked fish kabob.

 

 

 

He settled for a light snack instead, just some grilled lamb skewers. He had gone to sleep with no nerves at all, but now that it was the day of his performance he felt the nerves settling in the crevices of his intestines. After eating only two kabobs, he deemed himself full.

 

 

 

Jimin and Hoseok on the other hand bought food from every single stall and wouldn’t stop feeding each other.

 

 

 

When Taehyung spotted Namjoon and Jin walking towards them, he ditched the couple in favor of spending time with his hyungs. Jin and Namjoon took him to a different part of the festival.

 

 

 

This area was filled with stalls of handmade trinkets. They spent over an hour slowly making their way across each stall, wanting to appreciate all the efforts the students put into making them these items.

 

 

 

Jin spotted a set of friendship bracelets, each one a different color and braided with tiny pearls and shiny beads. He brought Namjoon over to show him, and he had Namjoon’s dimples peeking out in approval with the idea.

 

 

 

Taehyung scampered over to where they were just as the student thanked Jin for his purchase and handed him the gift bag. Jin took it in his hands carefully and moved on to look at the next stall.

 

 

 

“By the way, where’s Jungkook?” Taehyung poked Namjoon when he realized he wasn’t listening.

 

 

 

Namjoon blinked and stared at him blankly. “Sorry, say that again?”

 

 

 

“Where’s Kookie?”

 

 

 

“Oh he’s with Yoongi-hyung. I think they’re challenging each other to stall games. You can go meet up with them if you want. Jin and I are going to stay here and finish shopping.”

 

 

 

Taehyung nods and tells them he’ll catch up with them later.

 

 

 

 Taehyung shoots Yoongi a text to ask him where they are, but when he doesn’t get a reply he texts Jungkook too.

 

 

 

As he’s waiting for a response, he heads over to the most crowded part of the festival: the game area. Although most of these toys and stuffed animals could be bought for cheap online, there was something about winning them that left you feeling so accomplished. It was no wonder you could drop dollars and dollar on them, broke college students determined to win a prize.

 

 

 

Taehyung glanced at his phone to check for a reply. Still nothing. He checks the time and his nerves tighten into coils when there’s less than three hours until he’s due on stage.

 

 

 

 Taehyung tucks his phone back into his pocket and decides to explore this section on his own. He doesn’t participate in the games, finding it much more fun to watch other students have meltdowns over how close they were to winning.

 

 

 

It was by chance that he stumbled upon Jungkook and Yoongi, who were currently shooting hoops at a basketball themed stall. When the student announces Yoongi as the winner, he sticks his tongue out at Jungkook in victory. Jungkook glares at him in sour defeat but brightens when Yoongi lets him pick a prize telling him he can have it. Jungkook walks away with a giant pink bunny in his arms.

 

 

 

“Geez, I’ve texted both of you dozens of times already.” Taehyung complains.

 

 

 

Yoongi scratches the back of his head and a guilty frown graces his pouty lips. “Sorry, we got carried away.”

 

 

 

Jungkook eyes brighten with an idea as he watches Taehyung and Yoongi talk about what stalls they’ve seen so far. “I’m going to go to the bathroom,” he says.

 

 

 

“Want me to come with you Kookie?” Taehyung scans the buzzing crowd around them.

 

 

 

“Nope!” Jungkook shouts as he bounces away.

 

 

 

Taehyung and Yoongi stick around for a bit, waiting for Jungkook to come back. When he never does, their phones ‘ding’ in unison at a text message.

 

 

 

 

 

From Kookie (5:29PM):

 

I decided to meet up with Joon and Jin-hyung. I’ll see you two later;)

 

 

 

 

Taehyung and Yoongi are facing away from each other when they check their messages, so neither of them can see the blush on each other’s faces. Yoongi coughs and asks Taehyung if he wants to play a few more games before they meet up with the others.

 

 

 

The two-walk side by side as they push through the crowds of students, the hot sun baring down on their backs. There’s a cool breeze in the air that keeps them from sweating, and Taehyung is all the more thankful that he won’t perform with dried sweat on him.

 

 

 

A harsh shove from someone has Taehyung stumbling backwards, and he’s separated from Yoongi for a moment. When he finds him again, he grabs Yoongi’s hand.

 

 

 

“So I don’t get lost again.” He mumbles.

 

 

 

Yoongi shows a hint of a smile and walks on.

 

 

 

 Taehyung stares at their intertwined hands and wonders if this is what dating Yoongi would be like. Evening walks through a park, playing games and riling each other up as one cheats so the other loses, nights spent at the studio with Taehyung drawing as Yoongi works on a track behind him.

 

 

 

 His heart thumps in his chest, and he swallows the butterflies that try to fly out of his throat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung knows Yoongi didn’t hear him, but the way he glances back at him with twinkling eyes and the way he squeezes his hand a little tighter gives Taehyung hope that maybe Yoongi might feel the same way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Taehyung! Jeez, I’ve been looking all over for you! We need to start getting you ready! You’re up in less than an hour!” Jimin huffs as he grabs Taehyung and drags him towards the campus square.

 

 

 

After spending time with Yoongi playing games, the two made their way back to the meetup point the group had suggested in the chat. Namjoon and Hoseok had grabbed Yoongi, saying they were going to go check out the live performances.

 

 

 

Jimin, Jungkook and Jin dragged Taehyung by the arm, saying they had something urgent to do and that they’d reunite with them at the concert whenever they were done and to save them a spot.

 

 

 

Taehyung felt his nerves kick into overdrive and he started to tremble as they zig zagged through the congregation of students flooding the path to the stage. Jungkook had parted ways with them saying he was going to meet up with the other background dancers to get ready with them.

 

 

 

Jin, Jimin and Taehyung wave him off and continue their way to the dressing rooms.

 

 

 

The sun was setting in the distance and by the time Taehyung’s performance was to begin it’d be nightfall. He tried to wiggle off the nerves, but he couldn’t help but feel a flood of panic jolt through him.

 

 

 

“Oh god, I can’t do this, I can’t do this,” he repeats to himself, like he’s caught in a repetitive stupor.

 

 

 

Jimin is quick to slap him out of it, and Taehyung stares at him wide-eyed. “Did you just slap me?”

 

 

 

Jin pushes the two along, steering them backstage towards an empty room. “He did what had to be done.”

 

 

 

Taehyung rubs his cheek. Jimin didn’t slap him hard, but it was enough to get him out of his head. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. “I can do this, I can do this.”

 

 

 

Jimin smacks his ass, “That’s my boy! You have come so far Tae. This performance will be like shedding old skin. You know who you are, remember that as you perform.”

 

 

 

Taehyung nods and passes through the curtain where Jimin and Jin set to get him ready for the night.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoongi’s nervous. He’s never performed a song in front of a crowd like this, much less a song that requires singing. He was used to the smell of sweat and alcohol that permeated through nightclub air as he took the stage rapping his mind blissfully.

 

 

 

But this, this was an entirely new scene.

 

 

 

He’s up after the next act, but there’s a 30-minute intermission before he ends the concert with his performance. He hadn’t looked at the line-up, not bothering to check who else would be performing tonight.

 

 

 

He wonders how the crowd of students will take it. His popularity has grown increasingly over the past year. He started out with a few songs on soundcloud, with maybe a couple hundred listens. Next thing he knows, his soundcloud has thousands upon thousands of streams. He wonders if anyone will recognize him. He wonders if Taehyung will.

 

 

 

He’d been meaning to tell Taehyung he was SUGA for a long time now, but the guilt grew as Taehyung went on and on about his music, and that left him feeling like he missed his chance.

 

 

 

Will this be a good idea? He’s not sure. He doesn’t know if this is the best way to tell Taehyung. It may have been better to just tell him in passing and wait for the look of betrayal he’s bound to get. He wouldn’t be surprised if Taehyung was upset. He’s been keeping this a secret after all.

 

 

 

Yoongi bites at the skin around his thumb anxiously, and when Hoseok notices he puts an arm around his shoulder. “Hey, everything’s going to be okay.”

 

 

 

Yoongi nods.

 

 

 

Namjoon and Hoseok are huddled together, watching the end of the current performance with excitement on their features. Hoseok is jumping up and down with a lot more energy than usual, and Yoongi tries to ask them what they’re so excited for.

 

 

 

His question is answered by the announcer introducing the next act, a performer who goes by the stage name ‘V’.  

 

 

 

Yoongi’s attention is pulled towards the stage as the lights dim. The crowd goes quiet. Then, the instrumental begins and Yoongi’s jaw drops at the familiar beat.

 

 

 

 

 

It can’t be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s when the blue lights turn on and shine down on Kim Taehyung.

 

 

 

 

He’s performing our song?

 

 

 

 

Yoongi watches on, captivated by an ethereal looking Taehyung. He can tell immediately the aura around him is different. More self-assured, more confident.

 

 

 

He’s standing center stage, and hugging what looks to be a freestanding coat rack. There’s a red suit jacket hanging from its hook, and Taehyung is clutching it.

 

 

 

When he starts to sing, his voice sends chills down Yoongi’s back. He hasn’t heard him sing in a while, not since they had worked on this song together. He forget how mesmerizing Taehyung’s deep voice was, how rich and smooth.

 

 

 

Taehyung has one hand through the coat’s sleeve, and he makes a show of pretending the hand is caressing him like a lover would. He glances at the crowd briefly while the hand runs up his arm seductively until it reaches his shoulder.

 

 

 

He smirks when a few people in the crowd start whistling. He grabs his hand and throws it down but it grabs his chin and jerks him toward the coat hanger, and Taehyung smiles as he pulls his hand free from the coat.

 

 

 

Yoongi’s heart beats wildly in his chest as he watches Taehyung perform, watches him own the stage like he was destined to sing. Gone was the soft-spoken shy boy he once was, and Yoongi gazes on proudly at how far he’s come. He’s shining so brightly on that stage, and by the way the crowd watches on in silence, he’s positive they are just as enthralled.

 

 

 

Taehyung twirls away from the coat rack and it’s taken away by stage crew as he makes his way towards the front of the stage. In that moment, back up dancers appear behind him and he begins his routine. He recognizes one of dancers to be Jungkook, but he doesn’t stare at him for long before his eyes trail back to Taehyung.

 

 

 

They always fall back on Taehyung.

 

 

 

The lights flicker to the beat of the song and Taehyung’s dream-like voice echoes powerfully throughout the campus square.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That sound is ringing again

Another crack forms on this frozen lake

I left myself behind on that lake

My voice was buried for you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lyrics are felt deep within Yoongi’s heart as he remembers how hurt Taehyung had been when he first met him.

 

 

 

 Taehyung is center stage and the dancers have lined up behind him, white masks surrounding his silhouette. Taehyung dances alongside the white masks, as if he too remembers the mask he held over himself, over his broken heart.

 

 

 

Yoongi can hear Taehyung’s pain as he belts out the words. Then his voice softens again, and more dancers with coat hangers of their open flitter onto the stage. They take their stance behind him and Taehyung continues to sing, continues to tell his story for the world to hear.

 

 

 

His words are sharp and crisp, and their underlying meaning cuts through him. But these words no longer hold truth in them, because Taehyung dances proudly on that stage like a flower would, a flower that has finally bloomed.

 

 

 

 Yoongi’s eyes trail him from head to toe, and he’s reminded of the outfit he wore on that beach when he caught him serenading the moon.

 

 

 

 That was the day Yoongi had fallen in love. Fallen in love with someone who was full of kindness, whose heart was much bigger than the world itself despite how broken he felt.

 

 

 

A dancer holds out a flower, and Taehyung dances with it, holds it close to him and pushes it far, holds it as it moves alongside the white masks being held in the air behind him. The flower is passed on to a dancer, and Taehyung smirks at the crowd again.

 

 

 

A domino effect of sighs can be felt around them.

 

 

 

Yoongi shivers when Taehyung runs a hand through his brown locks and grabs ahold of one of the white masks, bringing it over his face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please, don’t say anything

I hold out my hand to cover your mouth

But in the end, spring will come some day

The ice will melt away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung pulls the white mask away from his face and smiles as he throws it off to the side.

 

 

 

Yoongi is enchanted with person in front of him. The person who has fought against his own inner demons and found strength in himself, strength to face who he really is, a person who has accepted himself whole-heartedly.

 

 

 

Taehyung’s voice begins to crescendo, and his dance is full of passion as the song nears its end.

 

 

 

Yoongi has to swallow the swell of emotion in his throat, the overwhelming feelings of love for Kim Taehyung.

 

 

 

Taehyung’s voice carries on through the night until the last note of the song plays, and the lights fade to black.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung hears the screaming of the crowd as he wobbles off the stage, his legs feeling like jelly. He poured his heart and soul into his performance, and he wants nothing more than to go home and lay in bed.

 

 

 

Jungkook nearly tackles him to the ground when he rushes to hug him. “Oh my god, Tae that was amazing! Holy shit, you looked like an idol out there!”

 

 

 

Jimin and Jin were nowhere to be found, most likely in the crowd somewhere.

 

 

 

“C’mon!” Jungkook grabs Taehyung’s hand and gives him a water bottle with the other. “We have to go find everyone!”

 

 

 

Taehyung lets Jungkook drag him from backstage to the masses of students, who instantly swarm him with loud shouts of ‘good job!’ and ‘you’re so hot!’.

 

 

 

Taehyung cringes at the attention and ignores the lewd comments, but for the most part the other students are sweet and throw him compliments about his singing and dancing.

 

 

 

He soaks in the attention for a few minutes, and when he sees Jungkook tapping his foot impatiently off to the side he excuses himself from everyone and pushes through until he reaches Jungkook.

 

 

 

“Ya know, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were scouted after tonight’s performance,” Jungkook says as they walk around in search of their hyungs.

 

 

 

Taehyung scratches the back of his head in modesty.“As much fun as I had, I don’t think I’d want to be an idol. I think I want to be a vocal coach, or a choir teacher. I couldn’t handle the fans.”

 

 

 

Jungkook and Taehyung share a laugh and scan the crowd for any signs of their other friends. Taehyung spots Jimin’s fluffy pink hair and pulls Jungkook toward him

 

 

 

By the time they reach Jin and Jimin, who have reunited with Namjoon and Hoseok, the lights have dimmed down again in preparation for the final surprise performance.

 

 

 

Jin and Jimin throw their arms around Taehyung and gush at how incredible he was and how they cried. Namjoon and Hoseok were much the same, their eyes slightly red as they told him how gorgeous his voice was

 

 

 

“It was so powerful Tae. I felt your voice resonating in my chest. You were the best one up there.” Namjoon holds his hand up and Taehyung high fives it.

 

 

 

“Yeah, you really took Yoongi-hyung by surprise! He couldn’t take his eyes off you!”

 

 

 

Hoseok chuckles when Taehyung flushes and hunches in on himself in embarrassment.

 

 

 

When Taehyung recovers he notices that Yoongi is the only one missing. “Where is Yoongi-hyung any ways? The last performance is about to start.”

 

 

 

Taehyung checks around them and tries to spot a head full of dark-auburn hair.

 

 

 

Jimin squirms, “Yeah, well you see, about that—”

 

 

 

Jimin is cut off by the announcer introducing the final performance of the night. The entire crowd holds their breath.

 

 

 

Taehyung shifts his focus back to the stage, as do the rest of his friends. His curiosity is piqued. He wonders who it is.

 

 

 

“Now, before I introduce him, I’d like to thank everyone for coming and for those who participated. We’ve had a very successful festival so far and I look forward to continuing the rest of the festivities tomorrow. Once again, congratulations to our new college graduates!”

 

 

 

The crowd hollers loudly and then begins to chant, “SUGA! SUGA! SUGA!”

 

 

 

Taehyung freezes.

 

 

 

SUGA? Why are they chanting that name all of a sudden? Taehyung turns to his friends with wide eyes. They all have guilty looks on their faces.

 

 

 

“Yes, the rumors you’ve heard are true. Let’s give a warm welcome to our last performer of the night, SUGA!”

 

 

 

Taehyung feels his soul ascend.

 

 

 

SUGA is performing? Here? Tonight? The artist he’s been listening to since last summer? Taehyung’s eyes almost bulge out of his head.

 

 

 

He stares at the stage, mouth pursed, and hands clutched tightly at his sides. Then the music begins to play and he loses his shit.

 

 

 

“Oh my god he’s performing Seesaw.”  Taehyung’s soul really does take flight. It feels like he’s floating, like he’s having some sort of out of body experience.

 

 

 

Then he sees him. A dark silhouette laying on a beige couch. The stage lights flicker on and bathe the figure in violet light. He brings his microphone to his lips and sings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung doesn’t know what shocks him more, the fact that SUGA is here performing in front of him, just a few hundred feet away, or the fact that he recognizes this voice.

 

 

 

Taehyung can’t believe it, can’t believe he knows this voice, knows the rasp of it, the way he slurs some of his words. Taehyung clutches his heart painfully, his heart that is beating miles a minute.

 

 

 

He doesn’t know how he hadn’t put it together, how he could have been so oblivious, but watching Yoongi sit up on the couch and slowly make his way to the front of the stage verifies it all.

 

 

 

 

 

Yoongi is SUGA.

 

 

 

 

 

Yoongi is SUGA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung stares, hypnotized by the gleam in Yoongi’s eyes, the way his rap carries across the crowd.

 

 

 

He’s dressed in a wine fitted suit, or something along the lines of one. It cinches around his waist, bringing out the broadness of his shoulders and slim physique. He’s wearing a wide-neck black shirt underneath, and his collarbones peek above it. There’s a silver chain decorating the lovely white skin of his neck.

 

 

 

Taehyung can’t even describe how the ensemble makes him feel, but the maroon color matches him so well, and it brings out the redness in his hair.

 

 

 

Taehyung doesn’t know if he’s breathing because then Yoongi starts to sing AND dance and the surge of emotions that are flowing through him have his head spinning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alright, a repeating seesaw seesaw game

Trying to end it now

Alright, sick of this seesaw game

Someone needs to get off right here

Though neither of us can

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung’s eyes never leave Yoongi. He has his own backup dancers behind him, mimicking the choreography, but the only one he sees is Yoongi.

 

 

 

The only one he’s ever seen has always been Yoongi.

 

 

 

Taehyung’s mind wanders back to the day he first met him. Namjoon had introduced them, and Taehyung had known right then that he felt a buzzing under his skin.

 

 

 

He had played it off, thinking he thought Yoongi was cool. And he did, but there was something about him, something in his eyes that told Taehyung he could trust him.

 

 

 

And that trust had only grown over time.

 

 

 

When he had held a bleeding hand to his chest in the back of the music building, hysterical that Bogum was moving away, Yoongi had been there, keeping him from injuring himself any further, and had never spoken a word about it after helping him clean the wound.

 

 

 

He remembers the clubbing incident, when he found himself on the edge of the beach, Yoongi yelling breathlessly for him after running around all night in search of him, worried about his wellbeing.

 

 

He doesn’t know why he’s remembering it now, but he remembers falling asleep in his arms that night and being carried to a car, Yoongi holding him close to his chest, gently caressing his head. Those arms were warm and comforting, a safe heaven he found refuge in.

 

 

 

When Taehyung had confided in him about his struggles, about the pain and the depression, about the sinking feeling in his chest, Yoongi listened patiently. He understood him, understood the pain he was going through because he had experienced a similar pain: the feeling of darkness crawling under his skin, waiting for the chance to consume him.

 

 

 

He recalls the long talks they shared, where they would sit on the couch in his apartment and talk about anything and everything. There was the warmth of hot chocolate in his cold hands, and Yoongi’s twinkling laugh when Taehyung would burn his tongue, too impatient to let the drink cool.

 

 

 

He remembers telling Yoongi he was asexual, and Yoongi had never shown him anything less than support.

 

 

 

All these months he’s come to know Yoongi, he has been there with him, held his hand, given him soft reassurances and shown him patience.

 

 

 

Taehyung used to think he was a star. Then he realized he was more like the moon. The lonely moon in the sky, lighting the land below with it’s moonlight.

 

 

 

But what shed light on the moon? What gave the moon the light it needed, the light it craved?

 

 

 

Then he met Yoongi.

 

 

 

Yoongi was a shining star, his shining star, keeping him company through the dark, isolating night.

 

 

 

 

And no matter how lonely he had felt, his star was always there shining it's light alongside him.

 

 

 

 

Yoongi’s eyes scan over the crowd as he repeats the chorus, and Taehyung swears they make eye contact despite being so far from the stage. Taehyung inhales a shaky breath and his eyes swell with unshed tears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even when I hadn’t known you yet, you’ve been there for me. You’ve been there for me in the form of music. And I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to have you in my life as Min Yoongi too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hol’ up hol’ up I’m walking on this seesaw without you

Hol’ up hol’ up just like the beginning when you weren’t here

Hol’ up hol’ up I’m walking on this seesaw without you

Hol’ up hol’ up I’m getting off this seesaw without you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung’s not alone, has never actually been alone. Yoongi’s been there beside him the whole time, holding his hand, whispering words of comfort into his ears at night.

 

 

 

Taehyung feels the tears overflow and his heart aches in yearning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The couch that had been there in the beginning is suddenly gone, replaced by a bench that Yoongi walks backwards to as he says the last few lines of the song.

 

 

 

He whispers the final words with a breathless sigh and lays himself down on the bench, the lights dimming down to darkness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung stares at the space longingly. When he realizes the song is officially over, he doesn’t hesitate to push through the crowd, ignoring the yells of his name from his friends that he’s left behind.

 

 

 

He only has one thing in his mind, the words racing through his head as his legs move as fast as they can take him.

 

 

 

He’s running, weaving himself desperately through the crowd, the words lodged in his throat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love you, I love you, I love you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He searches frantically backstage in search of Yoongi, growing more anxious by the minute as the words trapped in his throat demand to be freed.

 

 

 

He searches blindly for 15 minutes when he gets a text from Jimin.

 

 

 

 

 

From Jiminie (7:55PM):

 

We found Yoongi. We told him you had something important to do and left. He was tired and told us he was heading home. Now’s your chance! Go get him tiger!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung’s eyes scan the text and he changes direction, following the familiar path towards Yoongi’s apartment.

 

 

 

He doesn’t stop to breathe, not when his muscles ache as he sprints down the sidewalk, and not when his lungs feel like they’re about to explode.

 

 

 

He doesn’t stop until he’s standing in front of Yoongi’s apartment, wheezing as he struggles to breathe, hands on his knees as he stares up at the building. His eyes find Yoongi’s apartment, and by the way the lights flicker on he must have just gotten home.

 

 

 

With a steel resolve, Taehyung walks into the apartment building and takes the steps two at a time until he’s standing in front of Yoongi’s door.

 

 

 

He raises his hand to knock, but just when his knuckles are about to touch the door, it opens.

 

 

 

Taehyung stares at Yoongi in shock, and Yoongi looks just as surprised to see him there.

 

 

 

“Taehyung?”

 

 

 

Taehyung doesn’t say anything, straining to keep from spilling his heart out in this very second.

 

 

 

Yoongi moves off to the side, his silent way of welcoming Taehyung in. Taehyung knows this, has become well attuned to Yoongi’s non-verbal communication.

 

 

 

He slowly steps inside and Yoongi closes the door behind him. He leads Taehyung to the living room and he stops, turning around to face him. The atmosphere is awkward, but all Taehyung can do at the moment is stare.

 

 

 

Yoongi notices the puffiness around Taehyung’s eyes, a tell-tale that he’s been crying. Yoongi feels his heartbreak at the sight knowing those tears are caused by him.

 

 

 

“I’m so sorry Taehyung-ah, for not telling you. I didn’t mean for it to get this far. It was never supposed to be a secret from you, I swear, but the more you gushed about my music the harder it got to tell you. I’m so sorry for hurting you, and I’d understand if you didn’t want to be friends anymore—”

 

 

 

Taehyung’s eyes widen at the suggestion and he can’t hold back the words any longer, the words falling from his tongue like it’s the easiest thing in the world.

 

 

 

 

“I love you.”

 

 

 

Yoongi halts immediately at the words. He’d been peering down at the floor, but the words snap his head up to look Taehyung right in the eyes.

 

 

 

“What did you just say?”

 

 

 

Taehyung takes a step closer to him, and his hand slowly reaches out to him. His bottom lip is trembling, and his voice cracks when he says it again, but the words fall just as easily from his lips as the first time.

 

 

 

“I love you.”

 

 

 

Yoongi is dumbfounded, and it’s obvious he’s still processing the words because he’s as still as can be. He may not even be breathing.

 

 

 

Taehyung’s legs shake and he slumps to the floor, the words cascading from his mouth like a waterfall.

 

 

 

“I love you, I love you I love you!”

 

 

 

Taehyung starts to sob, his heart soaring at finally saying the words out loud to the person he loves most in this world.

 

 

 

Yoongi blinks a few times, still awestruck by the confession, but as soon as Taehyung starts to cry and his legs give out under him, Yoongi catches him in his arms.  Taehyung buries his head into his shoulder.

 

 

 

“Don’t cry Taehyung-ah, please don’t cry.”

 

 

 

Yoongi coos and soothes him down with sweet words until the tears subside and Taehyung hiccups. Taehyung pulls away, embarrassed that he broke down crying while confessing his love to Yoongi.

 

 

 

“Hey, don’t turn away, please look at me.” Yoongi uses two fingers to nudge his chin up so that they’re face to face.

 

 

 

“I love you too,” Yoongi whispers as he shoots him Taehyung’s favorite smile, the gummy one that has his eyes crescenting and his cheeks rounding.

 

 

 

He wipes the tears from Taehyung eyes with the pad of his thumbs as he gently caresses his cheeks.

 

 

 

Now it’s Taehyung’s turn to look dumbfounded. It takes him a whole minute to process the words, and Yoongi chuckles when Taehyung breaks down crying again.

 

 

 

Yoongi continues to hold Taehyung in his arms as he rocks him against his chest. “You’re such a crybaby,” he teases, but it only makes Taehyung cry even harder.

 

 

 

Yoongi comforts Taehyung, whispering sweet ‘I love you’s’ into his ear. He doesn’t do anything else except hold him close, hold him close enough that he can hear the beat of their hearts syncing together in unison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’ve been sitting in the middle of his living room floor for over 30 minutes, but Yoongi finds that he doesn’t mind. He wouldn’t want this moment any other way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three months later: the end of summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Are you sure you don’t want me to go with you?”

 

 

 

“No, I’ll be okay.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung makes his way down the street, the letter he had written earlier in the year tucked safely in his pocket.

 

 

 

He had completely forgotten he wrote it, since it was stuffed in the very back of his desk drawer. But he found it one day and re-read it, happy that the memories no longer plagued him with pain.

 

 

 

When he reaches the pizza shop, he stares up at it. He hasn’t been here in years.

 

 

 

When he steps inside, he’s not surprised to see a completely new staff. It’s more comforting this way.

 

 

 

His eyes scan the booths along the windows and he spots that familiar head of light brown hair.

 

 

 

Taehyung straightens his back and lifts his head a little higher in the air as he makes his way to the booth in the very back of the shop. It’s tucked away into a corner that gives them almost complete privacy.

 

 

 

When Taehyung arrives, he slides into the booth seat across from him.

 

 

 

“Hi.”

 

 

 

“Hi.”

 

 

 

It’s painfully awkward and Taehyung begins to fumble with his hands underneath the table. The letter in his pocket feels like it’s going to burn through the fabric of his pants.

 

 

 

He’s dressed casually, loose breathable linen to accommodate the scorching heat without compromising his need for comfort. He wears a light blue linen shirt to match.

 

 

 

His hair is styled as usual, his bangs fluffed as they sit over his forehead and line his eyebrows.

 

 

 

“You um, look great. Your dark brown hair has always suited you”

 

 

 

Taehyung nods. “Thanks.”

 

 

 

The silence stretches on again, and Taehyung starts to wonder if this was a good idea after all, but then Bogum finally speaks. He doesn’t look much different, but there’s bags under his eyes like he hasn’t been sleeping well.

 

 

 

“Thanks for coming. I didn’t think you’d ever want to see me again.”

 

 

 

“I don’t.”

 

 

 

His words are harsh, but they’re honest. Taehyung hadn’t expected to receive a call from an unknown number. He doesn’t normally answer them, but something in his gut told him to answer this particular call.

 

 

 

It was Bogum’s voice that flooded through the speaker saying he was in town and wanted to meet.

 

 

 

Taehyung was going to decline, but he had been coincidentally organizing his desk drawers and found the letter. He figured this would be a good chance to give it to him, to tell him of the pain that the other had caused.

 

 

 

“Right, well thank you for meeting me here anyways.” Bogum clears his throat and fidgets nervously.

 

 

 

Taehyung watches him, and the attention must make Bogum flustered because he stumbles over his words. “I-I wanted to come to a-apologize. I never did properly. I just packed my bags and left.”

 

 

 

Taehyung nods his head in agreement. “That was pretty shitty. It didn’t give me a chance for closure.”

 

 

 

Bogum runs a hand through his hair, a habit when he was nervous. “That’s why I wanted to meet up. I wanted to apologize and say I’m sorry for hurting you. I thought about it a lot, thought about it every day, and I didn’t mean to make you think I left you because we rarely had sex. I really did love you, still love you, but it was obvious that we weren’t right for each other anymore. I know you felt it, because you’re the one who pulled away first.”

 

 

 

Taehyung sighs. “I’m not mad at you for leaving. I’m actually grateful that you did, because it gave me a lot of time to reflect on our relationship. And it was the right thing for us to do, to break up I mean. And it’s okay if you left because you weren’t having sex, and I don’t mean that sarcastically. Everyone has their own emotional needs, and if sex was a big one for you it’s okay to need that.”

 

 

 

Taehyung licks his lips. “But that wasn’t the most pressing issue. The problem was your lack of consideration for me, your selfishness. I had needs too, and you chose to ignore them, to overlook them every single time in favor of your own. I pulled away from you because you didn't respect me. I gave you so much, and you greedily took and took until there was nothing of me left.”

 

 

 

Bogum’s eyebrows furrow together. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

 

 

 

Taehyung reaches into his pocket and pulls out the letter. “I wrote this earlier this year. It’s a letter I wrote to you about my feelings. It explains everything from my point of view, from the way we met up until we broke up. You can read it now if you want, or you can wait to read it later.”

 

 

 

Bogum shakes his head. “I want to read it now, if that’s okay with you.”

 

 

 

Taehyung slides the letter over to him. “I’ll give you a bit of privacy. It’s a rather long letter, so I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

 

 

 

Taehyung slides out of the booth and he holds his breath when he sees Bogum start to read it.

 

 

 

He turns around and walks through the parlor. The employees pay him no mind, too busy taking orders and making pizzas. Taehyung finds himself smiling at the memories he had here. It was his first job.

 

 

 

He stands against the wall and watches the employees make pizzas. He thinks about all the fun times he had here, working with Jungkook and laughing as they threw cornmeal at each other. They would pour cornmeal onto the table and draw pictures on it, treating it like sand.

 

 

 

Taehyung used to come home with cornmeal in his socks.

 

 

 

Ten minutes tick by and Taehyung decides that should be enough time. He walks towards the back and he isn’t too far when he hears the hiccups and sobs of crying. He slides back into the booth and his eyes settle on Bogum’s tear-streaked face.

 

 

 

His nose is running and his eyes are bright red.

 

 

 

“I-I didn’t know, I’m so sorry.” He stutters, voice cracking half way.

 

 

 

“You did know, but like I said, you chose to ignore it.” Taehyung watches as Bogum breaks down crying in front of him, a string of sorrys filling the air between them.

 

 

 

Taehyung takes pity on him and reaches across the table. He almost grabs Bogum’s hand but chooses to pull away. He doesn’t want to touch his skin.

 

 

 

 He sighs and leans back into the booth.

 

 

 

“I’m asexual.”

 

 

 

Bogum is still crying but nods. “I’m so sorry.”

 

 

 

Taehyung shakes his head. “I forgive you.”

 

 

 

This makes Bogum cry even harder. His sobs wreck through his body and leave him a hiccupping mess.

 

 

 

“I forgive you, but only if you make one promise to me.”

 

 

 

“A-anything.”

 

 

 

“When you find happiness, when you find someone else to love, I want you to treat them better than you treated me. You need to promise me that you’ll respect them, because now that you’re aware of what you had done to me, you can keep yourself from repeating that same mistake and hurting someone else.”

 

 

 

“I p-promise.”

 

 

 

Taehyung nods. He rises from the booth and turns to leave, but pauses. He looks back at Bogum.

 

 

 

“I hope you never contact me again.”

 

 

 

Taehyung doesn’t bother waiting for a reply and walks away from the booth and out the front doors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sun is shining amidst a clear blue sky.

 

 

 

 Taehyung inhales deeply and tilts his face up, letting the sunlight warm his face. He feels the scab over his wounded heart, over his wounded soul, fall.

 

 

 

The once gaping wound inside him has healed. It’s not perfect, and it’s still a little tender in some areas, but he’s no longer bleeding.

 

 

 

He smiles to himself, relief washing through his heart and soul.

 

 

 

Then he hears a familiar voice call out his name. A voice he swears he could listen to for the rest of his life.

 

 

 

Yoongi is leaning against the brick wall, a small grin on his lips. Taehyung doesn’t hesitate to skip over and grab his hand, locking their fingers together.

 

 

 

 “I said you didn’t need to come silly.” Taehyung boops Yoongi on the nose.

 

 

 

“I know, but I wanted to be here for you anyways.”

 

 

 

Taehyung beams at him and Yoongi swings their arms back and forth as they start walking.

 

 

 

“How’d it go?” he asks cautiously.

 

 

 

“Good.” 

 

 

 

Yoongi gets the message from his one-worded answer. He doesn’t try to pry.

 

 

 

“Are you happy?” Yoongi stops and gazes into Taehyung’s eyes.

 

 

 

 A faint blush appears on his cheeks when Taehyung stands on his tippy toes and brushes a soft kiss to his cheek.

 

 

 

He beams that boxy smile of his. “Happy as can be.”

 

 

 

Yoongi presses a kiss to his forehead.

 

 

 

The two continue their walk together, enjoying the warmth of their hands pressed together. Yoongi is a few steps in front of him, and Taehyung peers down at their joined hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A purple bracelet gleams around his wrist, the thread glittering under the light. It’s one out of a matching seven.

 

 

 

Yoongi is wearing his too. It’s a sparkling obsidian, and it looks beautiful against his fair skin.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung may not have a ring on his finger anymore, but he has his favorite bracelet. A bracelet he shares with the most important people in his life. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And his hand is wrapped safely in Yoongi’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He hopes he can hold this hand forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He hopes Yoongi never lets go.