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Protective Instincts | Taekook

Chapter Text

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It was a cold night, like the kind that held no hope nor any peace.

The shivers crept up his back, frost-like fingers dragging on his skin, numbing everything in the path until he feared the breathe would freeze in his lungs. The wind attacked at his neck and hands, making him tremble and close his eyes. He was at the mercy of this relentless winter, and there was nothing he could do.

He didn't even have any warm clothes with which to wrap his body, and stop the wet cold from sipping into his bones. His fingers were blue and his lips spread in a thin line over his chattering teeth. The flimsy coat on his shoulder whipped in the cruel wind, making him curse at his stupid decision.

He shouldn't have left his home, the way he did, at this ungodly hour. A few days of abuse didn't matter to the food and clothes he got from his parents. Should he even call them his parents? They had always treated him as an outcast, an adopted child. He didn't share their blood, so what did it matter to them? What did they care about his sufferings?

But they allowed him to stay didn't they? A small voice whispered in his head and the boy sighed.

His eyes searched the streets, looking for some kind of shelter or a burning fire that could lend some heat to his body. But there was none. They were lone and deserted, just like his heart - nobody was home, and nobody looked his way. After all he was the stray, an orphan in their eyes.

Cars passed by, and people walked away, seeing and yet not seeing him. He had become invisible to the class of people with whom he had once lived. To them he was a stranger now, and didn't seem worth their time. Sitting on the pavement, were the city garbage lay, spilled all over - he was the trash among humans. An unwanted life that could die or live and nobody would blink an eye.

"Nobody cares." he whispered and hurdled closer to his bag. The only possession that had been in his name when he left. His bag held photos of his family, though he was never present in them. He was always the guy behind the camera who clicked pictures of their supposedly happy family. But he knew those were fake smiles, and the kindness they showed him was never from the heart. If the neighbors asked, they needed to give an answer, hence the show of never existing love.

The tremors running beneath his skin grew, and he could feel his body succumbing to the cold around him. For the past six hours he had been stranded on the streets and now it was finally getting to him. The hypothermia would soon catch up to him, his mind screamed. But there was nothing he could do about it.

His eyes began to close, too hungry and too tired to stay awake for much longer. The darkness seemed more welcoming, and he was automatically pulled towards it. But before he could completely shut his eyes, a blinding white light flashed over his face. He didn't know what it was, and for a moment he wondered if he was dying. But it wasn't the pure white light, the heavenly white light one saw when they crossed over (like most movies showed him).

No, this was harsh and more of an eyesore then anything else.

He couldn't see anything beyond the blaring light and wondered what was going on.

"Don't go to sleep kiddo." a deep voice reached his ears, but the boy was slowly and surely slipping into the darkness.

"Come on! Wake up!" a light slap fell on his cheek. It wasn't enough to wake him up, but he remained conscious - clinging onto it by a thread.

"Can you hear me?" the voice asked and he gave a brief nod. The urge to go back to sleep was too much for him to open his mouth and answer, so he simply resorted to other means.

"That's good. Now stay awake, until we get you to some place warm." there was a hint of chuckle in that voice.

"What are you gonna do with him?" another voice asked. Strong arms grabbed hold of him, and pulled him up.

The darkness was still there, wandering near his peripheral vision. But he tried his best to keep it at bay.

"I don't know." the guy who held him whispered and he could feel the brush of fabric on his skin. He was very near to the stranger, almost too close.

"You can't just pick up a stray like that, Jungkook." the other voice was disapproving, but the guy named Jungkook seemed to think otherwise.

"He isn't a stray."

"What-"

Silence followed the discussion and then, the guy named Jungkook said the words that would remain with him forever.

"Don't worry. I will keep him safe."

 

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"How is he now?"

"The fever has gone down but he still hasn't gained consciousness."

"What does the bag say, Yoongi hyung? Do we have a name?"

Yoongi nodded in reply and held up a worn out duffel bag. Attached to its zip was a tag, that had a name and address scribbled on it. Jungkook leaned forward and took a look at it.

"Kim Taehyung." he whispered and stared at the fragile boy tucked under the comforter, on his couch.

"Yes, that's his name. What do you think happened to him?" Yoongi asked, and Jungkook shook his head. He didn't know the reason behind it. With the appearance he had, the boy looked to be around his age, maybe a year or two younger, and the way he had dressed told them, he was from a well-to-do family. Though the clothes he wore weren't meant for the harsh winter outside

So why someone like him, would be lying on the streets? Jungkook wondered

"How long, until he wakes up?"

"Maybe in an hour or so. I will make something for him to eat." Yoongi answered and walked towards the kitchen.

"Should we call in the doctor?" Jungkook added, making Yoongi stop in his tracks. He took some time to answer, choosing his words carefully.

"I am not sure. He seems fine to me."

"But-" Jungkook started, however Yoongi interrupted him.

"He was close to slipping into hypothermia, Jungkook. The guy will take some time to recover. If he doesn't wake up soon, maybe we should call in, Doctor Seijin." Yoongi suggested and then slipped into the kitchen.

"Okay." Jungkook whispered and sat down on the side of the couch.

The boy steered in his sleep and Jungkook instantly thought he had woken up the sick boy. But then the slow snores were heard and Jungkook relaxed again. His eyes wandered to the upturned nose, the light pink lips and the fringed hair that hid most of the boy's face from him. But he had seen him on the streets - those clear brown eyes that had looked frightened and dilated in the bright light. The boy was barely holding up when Jungkook had found him.

He had instantly approached him, and took hold of his shivering body. Jungkook had been so surprised by the light weight of his body, that for a moment he had wondered whether the stray was malnourished. But then again, he really didn't know much about the boy.

"Taehyung..." Jungkook whispered and smiled. He liked the name, it suited the boy quite well.

He didn't know why he had been drawn to the boy, as if Jungkook had some unknown responsibility towards him. The way he had been sitting on those streets as if his whole life had crumbled before him and he couldn't do anything about - that was the look that had caught Jungkook's attention. It was the look that had been on his face a few years ago. Even Yoongi had faced similar situations. Maybe, that's why he had risked taking in the boy - a stray and a stranger. Taehyung's state had resonated with a piece of his past, a similar occurrence, but this time with Jungkook on the opposite side.

The boy steered again, this time his eyelids opened a little, the brown irises peeking from underneath it. His hands pulled the comforter more towards him, and Jungkook shifted his position, trying to give the boy as much place as possible.

"Taehyung? Can you hear me?" Jungkook whispered. He leaned forward, so that he was on eye-level with the boy and smiled. But to his surprise, the boy didn't smile back and instead gave him a terrified look.

"No! Don't hit me! Please don't hit me!" he screamed and jumped off the couch.

"Tae-Taehyung wait!" Jungkook shouted but the boy had already put some distance in between them. The shock of the accusation was still in his mind, but Jungkook was more worried about the boy getting hurt while running. He was still sick, and running wasn't going to help his weak body. Taehyung was in danger of tripping over the way he quickly backed away, nearing the table's sharp edge. Was he hallucinating? Jungkook wondered. If that was the case, Jungkook needed to take care of him and not scare him away.

"I-I am not going to hit you Taehyung. I promise." Jungkook said as slowly as was possible. He took a tentative step forward and instantly the boy took a step back.

"Who are you?" the boy asked then. His hands were still clutching the comforter and had dragged it across the floor. He now stood near the kitchen, where Jungkook knew Yoongi was making their dinner. If the boy saw Yoongi, there was a possibility he would freak out more.

He had to calm down the boy first before he saw Yoongi.

"My name is Jungkook... Jeon Jungkook." Jungkook whispered and tried to move closer again.

Taehyung was too busy trying to find some familiarity in the name, to notice that Jungkook had moved closer to him. He cocked his head to the side as if in deep thoughts and then his eyes widened.

"I don't know any Jeon Jungkook. Why am I here? This isn't my home." there was a hint of panic in the boy's voice and his eyes wandered to the door. His legs moved before his brain send him the signal and Jungkook suddenly knew he was going to try to escape.

"No!" Jungkook shouted and lunged for the boy.

They both fell down, with Jungkook on top of Taehyung. Both breathing hard and face flustered. There was an angry look on Taehyung's face and Jungkook stared back at him with annoyance.

Here Jungkook was trying to save the boy and Taehyung was trying his best to run away.

He hadn't thought the tables would turn against him. How was he supposed to gain Taehyung's trust? How was he supposed to assure him that no one was going to hit Taehyung anymore?

 

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"Uh...get off me." Taehyung whispered but Jungkook didn't seem to hear him. He continued to stare into his eyes as if he were seeing Taehyung for the first time.

He had the same tattoos that Taehyung had seen on the arm that held him. Taehyung didn't remember much about what happened later but he knew Jungkook was the person who brought him to the unfamiliar place. He felt trapped in the living room, like a caged bird whose wings had been cut.

Taehyung had been dreaming about his family and what would have happened if he had stayed home. His father would have arrived late, after completing his job, lamenting about his boss being unfair to him. His mother would gush about the kitty party the neighbour was arranging and how she needed to attend it. She might have even made a list of the clothes she wished to buy for the occasion. And as for his little brother, the only one who smiled at him, and reminded him that he still existed under the same roof - that boy would pull him towards the table where dinner was laid.

But as always his father would have pushed him down, and taken out his belt. He would have lashed out at Taehyung, calling him unworthy of his money and just another mouth to feed. The belt would have burnt his skin, however just as his dream had gotten uglier, Taehyung had heard Jungkook's voice. And that had made him open his eyes, to see Jungkook reaching out for him.

However, Taehyung's sluggish mind registered him as his evil father and Taehyung couldn't help but shout in fear of getting hurt. He hadn't meant to cause such panic, but he had and Taehyung felt embarrassed about it. From the shocked look on Jungkook's face he could tell the boy hadn't expected such a harsh reaction either. A part of him feared, what kind of questions Jungkook would have, after seeing him react like that. Would he ask him about his family? Or why he had run away?

"I am sorry." Jungkook apologized and quickly pushed himself off Taehyung, freeing him from his hold. The boy was shorter as compared to Jungkook's height, and he had hidden Taehyung entirely.

Jungkook quickly got up from their awkward position and held out his hand. Taehyung stared at it for a few seconds, before slipping his hand into his grasp and allowing himself to be pulled up by Jungkook. The guy couldn't help but chuckle at Taehyung's hands as well, which fit perfectly in his.

"What happened?" Yoongi's voice floated from their right side and both turned in unison.

Taehyung hadn't known there was another boy in the house and for a moment froze in fear. He wasn't used to living around strangers. One of them was fine, but two in a day...that didn't sit well with him. He involuntarily took a step back and his shoulder bumped against Jungkook who was standing right beside him.

"Jungkook? What's the matter? Something happened, while I was gone?" Yoongi asked again and Jungkook shook his head.

"No. It's nothing. I just surprised him that's all."

Yoongi narrowed his eyes at the boy, knowing well that Jungkook was lying. He could see the tense look in his eyes and the way Taehyung was standing told him, he was intimidated by Yoongi's presence. For a newcomer he did look a bit too hippy, with the bad boy gangster vibes which Yoongi liked. But sometimes, staring at the piercing in his ears and the tattoos that decorated both his arms, Yoongi could be frightening. Jungkook still hadn't caught the big sleeve tattoos fever yet. The guy settled for minimalist, small tattoos. But Yoongi planned on changing it soon.

As for the new boy, Yoongi's eyes roamed over him again, and he gave a brief nod. Maybe Taehyung would open up more on the dinner table.

"C'mon in." Yoongi jerked his head to the side and walked into the kitchen. It wasn't big, like they showed in mansions made from blood money. But it did have a comfy feel to it.

"Sit down." Jungkook whispered from behind Taehyung. He didn't like that Taehyung kept hesitating every few seconds. It was as if, he expected them to jump on him and beat him black and blue. The initial reaction was still fresh in Jungkook's mind, and he wondered whether it had something to do with his family.

Had somebody abused him?

"So, where did you come from? Where did you live before-" Yoongi pursued his lips together and choose his words carefully, so as to not appear rude. "Before... Jungkook found you."

The boy earned a small smile from Jungkook, who had been worried Yoongi might ask a question that was too sensitive to answer.

"I lived uptown, 34 Estate St." Taehyung whispered and began to fidget with his hands.

"34 Estate St?" Jungkook asked and he and Yoongi exchanged confused looks. The address the boy mentioned, was where the businessmen and diamond merchants resided - an area that was forbidden to middle class people like them. And yet, Taehyung sat in front of them, lone and scared.

"I-Is there a problem?" Taehyung asked, worried the boys might kick him out before he figured out what to do next.

"No, of course not." Jungkook replied quickly and gave Yoongi a warning glance. He didn't want Taehyung to feel out of place here. They hardly had visitors here and if the cute brown eyed boy wanted to stay, Jungkook was all for living with Taehyung.

"I-I would like to go home." Taehyung didn't bother to meet Jungkook's eyes this time. He desperately wanted a place like the house he was currently in - the warmth and the comfort it held. But he also knew he had outlived his stay and needed to get back home.

A couple of hours were enough for his body to recover, he had had his fill of rest, now he needed to move on.

"No." this time, Yoongi put down his foot. He knew, his facial expressions weren't that pleasing, but Yoongi wasn't heartless either. He could clearly see the weakness in Taehyung's body and his eyes. He needed rest and Yoongi was planning on keeping Taehyung under his care until he got better.

"What do you mean?" Taehyung was confused by Yoongi's answer. Hadn't he wanted to kick him out before? The displeasure on his mouth was apparent enough and yet Yoongi wanted him to stay, why?

"You were in danger of falling really sick, Taehyung. You need some rest before you're able to go back home. If I let you step out now, you may fall ill again and I will get blamed for it." Yoongi made a big show of glaring at the raven haired boy and Jungkook laughed at the faces he made.

Of course, he was worried about Taehyung and wanted him to recover as soon as was possible. And he also secretly wanted him to stay.

"Yes, you should stay until you get better." Jungkook nodded his head with enthusiasm, making Taehyung frown more. But he agreed just the same.

"Okay... I-L will stay for a bot longer." Taehyung whispered.

He was speaking the opposite of what he thought. He really wanted to escape, and maybe find another shelter for homeless people. It was what he should have done as soon as he woke up, though the warmth of this home had stopped him from doing anything. With those thoughts, there was also a fear of being thrown out later on.

He didn't want to open his heart to these people, only to have them break his trust when he was most vulnerable. Still, he also knew his body was weak. Maybe another day or so wouldn't harm him

He couldn't possibly get attached to these boys in two days could he?

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"Jungkook?" Yoongi called out. It was almost past bedtime and the guy was nowhere insight.

Since Taehyung had decided to stay with them, until he recovered from the weakness, Jungkook chose to sleep in the living room and gave up his bed to the boy. Yoongi didn't like the idea of his roommate sleeping on the couch, but they didn't have much of an option.

A childhood accident had injured Yoongi's spine and he couldn't sleep well on the couch, or the sleeping bag they had in the storage room for emergencies. So Jungkook had forced him to buy a new bed for himself, instead of both of them cramming in one. The idea had been worthwhile and both the boys shared the room, with two beds on either sides. And now, with the addition of Taehyung, Jungkook came up with the idea of letting the boy have his bed.

Soft tuneless humming could be heard from the kitchen, and Yoongi poked his head inside - to see Jungkook swaying to the music on his lips while he stirred the contents in the pot. His back was turned away from the door, so he didn't notice Yoongi creep up behind him.

"Boo!"

"Jeez! Hyung!" the spatula fell from Jungkook's hand and he shook his head at the pleased expression on Yoongi's face. He knew Jungkook was scared of the dark, and coming up behind him added to the spookiness. He couldn't resist the urge to see the frightened look on Jungkook's face and burst out laughing when the guy jumped at the sound of his voice.

"Did I scare you?" Yoongi asked with a cheeky grin, even though he knew the answer.

"Yes!" Jungkook scowled and then bent down to pick up the spatula.

"You seemed to have taken a liking for the stray." Yoongi stated and Jungkook sighed.

"His name is Taehyung, hyung. And he is not a stray. He lives with us now." Jungkook turned back to stir the contents in the pot.

"I know that, Jungkook. But do you think it's a good idea to allow him to stay here. What if he ran away from his home? Don't you think his parents would come searching for him? W-What if they send out a search party -" Yoongi couldn't keep the worry from his voice.

The hand which had been stirring so far, came to a halt and Jungkook shifted his gaze towards Yoongi. He couldn't deny that this particular thought had crossed his mind a few times. It wasn't like the boy's parents would kick him out. If what Taehyung said was true and he lived in uptown, then creating a scenario among their neighbors wouldn't be a good idea for the Kim family.

Maybe, they still didn't know their son had run off into the night.

"I don't know Yoongi hyung. Something tells me, his parents wouldn't care much about what happens to him."

"How would you know that?" Yoongi questioned and gave him a curious look. Jungkook didn't elaborate further and shrugged his shoulders.

"Its just a guess." he whispered and leaned forward to take a whiff of the broth bubbling inside the pot.

"What is that?" Yoongi eyed the contents suspiciously. He was used to Jungkook's experiments with food. Most of them turned out to be delicious, but sometimes mishaps happened and Yoongi was the one who cleaned the mess. From the way it looked, the thick liquid was giving off a faint aroma that reminded him of porridge.

"It's a secret." Jungkook mumbled and put the lid on the pot, before turning to face Yoongi.

"Now -" Jungkook stressed on the word and put the spatula on the counter. "Don't worry about Taehyung. Let us sleep through this night and worry about it later. You have the morning shift tomorrow or did you forget?" Jungkook placed his hands over Yoongi's shoulders and pushed him in the direction of the door. The boy groaned loudly and his body sagged, as if a sudden burden had been thrust upon him.

Jungkook shook his head and chuckled. Sometimes, Yoongi acted as if he was a grandpa stuck in the body of a young man.

"And I take it, you won't be accompanying me to the shift?" there was annoyance in Yoongi's voice, but Jungkook knew the guy meant well.

"No. I will be staying behind to look after Taehyung tomorrow." Jungkook replied.

The boys worked at the local bakery around the corner - The Danny's. The owner was a kind old man, who allowed them to change shifts as and when they liked. Sometimes Jungkook would take up a part time job elsewhere for a few weeks, to gather money for the rent. And Yoongi would take his place, to complete two shifts.

They didn't cause much trouble for the man, and always stayed in his good books. Rumor had it, that the owner liked their dedication to the work, not to mention that Jungkook's baking skills were fast attracting more attention and customers. Yoongi had once joked, that Jungkook was the golden goose for their owner and they would never be kicked out of the job if he continued to show his talents.

Jungkook had blushed so hard that his face resembled that of a tomato, and poor Yoongi had doubled over, catching his stomach and dying of laughter while staring at his face.

"Don't take too many holidays, Jungkook. The owner might not like it." Yoongi warned and Jungkook quickly nodded.

But on the inside he knew, Taehyung needed to be taken care of. The terrified look on Taehyung's face still haunted him. He had to figure out the story behind his fear. And until he became better, and comfortaable with them, Jungkook was willing to take the risk.

“Sure…sure.” He whispered even though there were other ideas on his mind.

Taehyung was his guest after all, shouldn't they treat him well?

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Jungkook tossed from one side of the couch to the other. His leg was stuck out at an odd angle and he was in danger of falling onto the ground - with more than half of his body jutting out. After he had forced Yoongi hyung to go upstairs and sleep, Jungkook had wondered aimlessly in the living room and then flopped down on the couch to catch some sleep.

But, unfortunately for Jungkook sleep wasn't the top priority in his mind. His subconscious mind was still thinking over what had happened a few hours ago. He had never come across any guy who had looked at him with those eyes - that look, which held such sadness and fear for him.

He had seen it in Taehyung's eyes and he knew that gaze wasn't directed at him but at someone his unconscious mind had conjured from his dream. He had still been in that state, where the lines between reality and dreams had been blurred for Taehyung and he saw that person instead of Jungkook.

When he had caught hold of Taehyung, trying to stop him from running away, his eyes had been normal and there had been no fear he had witnessed earlier. However there was embarrassment in those clear brown eyes, which told Jungkook that the boy had realized what had happened.

"Who would try to hurt you?" Jungkook wondered out loud. The guy hadn't told them much about his family. In fact, he had feigned tiredness the minute they had finished their dinner. Yoongi had only allowed him to go upstairs, because even though Taehyung wasn't sleepy he did seem tired.

Jungkook sighed and got up, stretching his body to get rid of the cramps he had for from all the awkward positions. He walked over to the kitchen, switching off the light before climbing upstairs to Yoongi's room.

He could see the table lamp, glowing in the corner, its light falling over Yoongi's face. The guy slept like a dead log, never waking up no matter how much chaos you made near his ears. But the same couldn't be said about Taehyung. When Jungkook had entered, there had been a peaceful expression on his face. But it soon turned to a disturbed one and he began to shift from one side to the other.

Jungkook walked over to his side, and sat down on the corner of his bed. At first he couldn't see much except for the pained faces Taehyung was making. But as he leaned closer to the boy, he could hear soft whimpers coming from Taehyung's mouth. Either the guy was having a nightmare or remembering an incident that had happened before.

Jungkook thought it was the latter.

"Please don't...father. Please..." Taehyung whimpered, this time louder and tossed to one side. His forehead was covered in sweat and his body was curled up into a fetal position.

"Taehyung?" Jungkook whispered, but he doubted the boy could hear him. He was too far deep into his nightmare to hear his voice.

"Taehyung wake up!" Jungkook whispered again. He reached out with his hand, and grabbed Taehyung's fist. His hands were clutched together, his nails digging into the skin with such force that it worried Jungkook. The force with which his hands clenched into fists, Taehyung was going to draw blood, while suffering in his sleep. Jungkook groaned. What could have possibly happened to Taehyung to make him the way he is?

"No...please...stop, father." Taehyung cried and tears slowly trickled down his eyes.

"Wake up, boy!"

Jungkook didn't know what to do, to make Taehyung stop crying. He pulled the bed sheets over his body and tried to make Taehyung as comfortable as was possible, and stood up.

"I am sorry... I am sorry, please." Taehyung was begging and Jungkook made his decision.

It didn't matter if Taehyung hated him after this. But it was better then watching him hurting himself.

Yoongi hyung had done it for him once too. He said when the nightmares were terrible enough to affect your reality as well, sometimes it was best to relax that person as much as possible. His hyung had hugged Jungkook as tightly as possible, and they had slept like that through the night. Jungkook didn't remeber much of that night, but he knew he woke up feeling safe and loved.

This time it was Jungkook's turn to give it forward, to help destroy Taehyung's nightmares the only way he knew.

He sat down again, and lightly grabbed Taehyung by his shoulders pushing him gently to the side. Then Jungkook laid down beside him, and let his arm wrapped around Taehyung's thin waist. The boy instantly froze on the bed, and Jungkook had already foreseen this development. He knew Taehyung was still thinking about the person who had caused him harm. Jungkook slowly but steadily pulled Taehyung into his arms and began to draw small circles on his back.

"Its fine. Everything is fine." he murmured into his ears.

Jungkook didn't know for how long he kept whispering soft assuring words to Taehyung, but eventually the boy relaxed in his touch. He snuggled closer to Jungkook and curled his hand over his chest. The whimpers slowed down and the tears stopped falling from his eyes.

"Please don't cry." Jungkook whispered even though he knew Taehyung couldn't hear anything.

The wrinkles on Taehyung's forehead smoothed and his breathing became easier, while Jungkook continued to stroke his back and his fingers traced soothing patterns on his back. Taehyung was curled so tightly around his body that Jungkook couldn't help but smile at the fringed haired boy, and his actions. His low snores filled his ears and Jungkook finally breathed a sigh of relief when he knew Taehyung was no longer plagued by those monstrous dreams.

His hands moved to Taehyung's head, and his fingers pushed into the soft hair, letting them scratch his skull slowly. Jungkook knew Taehyung would be surprised to see in whose arms he had been sleeping last night and he only hoped the boy wouldn't be too surprised or hate him.

As far as he was concerned, Jungkook's actions had been spontaneous and it didn’t mean anything... at least not now. He was simply helping Taehyung sleep through the night, as his caretaker - an acquaintance who wished to be his friend. But Jungkook knew, being Taehyung's friend was going to be a hard job to execute. Especially since he had a story to tell, that was sad and heart wrenching and hidden from the outside world.

With every passing hour, Jungkook was finding new things about Taehyung and none of them seemed to be good, at the moment.

 

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Taehyung's head was close to bursting with the pain and fatigue. He only remembered snatches of the dream he had previous night. It was the same as always, the first time his father had hit him. It hadn't been the worst of beatings he had got, but it was the start of the miserable times in his life, and Taehyung knew he would relive it again in the coming days.

It had been sudden, and out of the blue. He hadn't done anything wrong that day nor later on. But his father had decided to end his happy moments and start his nightmare.

He had been sleeping that night, after a normal and rather boring conversation with his mother about school. His room was adjacent to that of Bogum, his little brother and he usually came to him if he had nightmares, but not that day.

He was alone then, and the door had banged open pulling him out of his slumber.

"You filthy son of a-" he had shouted and Taehyung had stared at the belt in his hand with wide eyes.

He had never deemed his father to be the violent types, but that night all of his beliefs were crushed. Taehyung had never heard the end of that sentence. He had simply endured one blow after the other, crying out in pain and hoping someone to hear his pleas.

But no one came. His mother didn't care and Jace couldn't understand what was going on. There was nothing the little boy could do except see the torture and cry as his elder brother got hit - again and again.

Taehyung never found out what the reason was behind his father's rage. But he had heard rumors and snippets of the conversation his parents had when they thought he was sleeping. They had found out about his sexual preferences through one of the teachers. Taehyung had no doubt in his mind that one of the bullies in school had told on him. Though he didn't care much about what they thought.

What he couldn't understand was his father's reaction to his son's difference. Did being gay change the way people looked at him? Taehyung had never found out about it, since he never shared it with anyone. It wasn't like he kept it a secret. But there never raised a situation where he had to say it put loud. Only the one bully who caught him on an unlucky day stumbled on his secret. But even then, Taehyung didn't think it would matter much.

But it did. It changed his family, and it changed his life. It ruined it for him, and he needed to get away. So he chose the next best option - to run away from it all.

"Damn." Taehyung groaned softly.

The pounding in his head wasn't going away anytime soon, so Taehyung decided to wake up. With his eyes closed, he tried to roll to the side. But in doing so, a warm body touched his back and Taehyung stopped. The person was spooned to his back, his hand laid over his waist as if it belonged there. Taehyung hadn't noticed the person's presence in his sleep, but he did now. And it freaked him out.

"Hey..." he whispered hoping the guy would listen to him. He wondered who it was, Yoongi or Jungkook? Either one of them had gone ahead and claimed back their bed.

Since he had seen Yoongi go to sleep just minutes after he entered the room, Taehyung had his bets on Jungkook. Although why he would sleep in here, when he promised to use the couch was beyond Taehyung's thinking. He could only hope the raven haired guy had a good reason. Or else, Taehyung was willing to kick his ass out of his bed even though he was simply a guest.

"Jungkook, move to the side." Taehyung whispered again, and waited for the guy to respond. But the warmth on his back didn't shift and he could hear steady breathing near his ear. Jungkook seemed to be as sound a sleeper as Yoongi, Taehyung thought.

He scooted over to his side, getting away from the heated body. Then he turned onto Jungkook's side, making sure not to move his hand too much. He didn't want to wake up, the guy. Taehyung hated disturbing anyone's sleep, it was a self-implemented rule.

"Taehyung...are you-" Jungkook mumbled in his sleep and Taehyung froze.

He was readying himself to get up from the bed, but stopped and eyed Jungkook's sleeping form. He had managed to slip his body from under Jungkook's grasp and was now free of his hold. Taehyung had secretly blushed at the closeness of the two of them, when he turned. The attraction kicked in, and Taehyung's subconscious mind appreciated the handsome features of the guy. But then, Taehyung's mind chided him. Jungkook was probably as straight as a pole. There was no way, the guy would look at Taehyung that way.

The soft curls that fell on his face, covering part of his forehead and the slight crinkle that he got around his lips, made Jungkook look beautiful in the dim light. And Taehyung knew he could silently stare at it and not worry about being caught. Jungkook had a habit of sleeping on one side, from what Taehyung could see. The boy didn't move an inch when Taehyung got up from the bed.

Taehyung's eyes wandered to the timer near the bed. It read six am in the morning, and he couldn't help but groaned again. He had had another sleepless night and his whole day would turn grumpy.

"A shower might help." Taehyung thought out loud.

The boys were still sleeping soundly, so he didn't bother to turn on the lights, and followed the wall. Yoongi had shown him the way to the bathroom, and Taehyung walked towards it, using his hands to guide the way.

Taehyung quickly stripped to his underwear and stepped into the cold bathroom. He didn't bother to take any spare clothes with him. Taehyung doubted Yoongi or Jungkook would be up by the time he had washed himself, it was too early for them. He might as well, hunt for clothes later on, or so he thought and shut the door behind him.

What Taehyung didn't notice, was that one of the boy was just stirring up, waking from the night's sleep and the other had set an alarm clock for the morning shift.

*

Chapter Text

*

The cold water from the shower, hit Taehyung hard in the face, removing all traces of sleep from his eyes. He sighed in relief, hoping the nightmare would be washed away to, drained along with the water that trickled down his body.

Those images were still there in his mind, replaying behind his eyes, occupying a permanent place and making their presence felt when Taehyung slept. Just day before his father had beaten him up, which had lead him to make the hasty decision of running away. Taehyung didn't think of himself to be brave enough, to go against his family but his father had left him no choice.

He knew his little brother would be taken care of, since he was the favorite among the three of them. His elder brother was never home for much longer, so his feelings and thoughts didn't matter to Tae much.

"What should I do?" Taehyung pondered, shifting his head to the side and letting the water soak into his hair. He took the soap from the side shelf and began to lather his body, all the while thinking about his next set of actions. What was he supposed to do, now that he had a place to stay for few days and a roof to eat under - so unlike his own home and people.

The boys didn't look like the kind-hearted people they were on the inside. Those tattoos and bad boy vibes, not to mention Yoongi's strange fetish for jackets hadn't missed his eyes. Taehyung did agree that it suited Yoongi well, somehow making his petite frame appear a bit buff and added a fierce vibe to his presence. Jungkook was still a step down on the inky designs as compared to Yoongi, but Taehyung believed he would be decorating his arms with designer tattoos soon enough, if they went by how Yoongi kept recommending him tattoo studios he had loved.

He didn't have anything against tattoos par se, but he liked to keep his skin the way it was, free of any external add-ons and factors.

Somewhere in his mind, he had already gotten accustomed to their presence even though he had met them only yesterday.

The fact that they had pulled him off the streets mattered a lot to him, and he wanted to return the favor somehow. But Taehyung couldn't come up with a good enough idea or gift. He planned to stay for a few more days before leaving them to return back to their lives.

He knew, deep down that if he stayed longer, he would get attached to them. And he couldn't allow that to happen. Taehyung had never been lucky enough to experience the kind of love families shared, not after the drastic change in his father. Even before the secret was out, he was treated with less importance then Bogum. But he didn't mind it much, since he loved his little brother a lot. And Taehyung had his suspicions about the boys, trying to pamper him to stay with them and that scared him. Yoongi still disapproved of his presence in the house, even though he was a good guy at heart. The same couldn't be said for Jungkook.

That boy had shown the little gestures and signs that he wanted to prolong Taehyung's stay in their house, and Taehyung knew how it could end. He wasn't worried about him being kicked out of the house after Jungkook found out he was gay. What he feared most was the look of disgust he would get in his eyes once he knew the truth. And Taehyung couldn't bear to see that look - not on Jungkook, not on anyone close to him or who had been his friend once upon a time. It hurt too much, to fall down in their eyes.

Taehyung gave another sad sigh, and turned off the shower. All of the thinking had made him forget about the bath and the water had gone cold. He shook his head, letting the wet locks flop on their sides and then grabbed the towel from one of the racks. He needed to hurry up and get cleaned, before either Yoongi or Jungkook woke up.

"Please be asleep." Taehyung whispered, sending a silent prayer to whoever was listening above and stepped outside.

His eyes took a minute to adjust to the darkness, after the bright yellow lights of the bathroom, and he saw the coast was clear. Apparently the boys had woken up and gone about their daily routine, like him.

"That's good." Taehyung hummed to himself, and smiled at his good fortune. The boys wouldn't be disturbing him for a while.

He walked over to the duffel bag, sitting near his side of the bed. It was as he had left it. Neither Yoongi nor Jungkook had been curious enough to open it, much to his relief. He wouldn't have minded the little snooping around, since they were letting a stranger in their house. He could have even reasoned with it, if one of them had taken a quick peek inside. But he was glad they hadn't. It meant they trusted him... somewhat.

Taehyung sat down, on the balls of his feet, rocking backwards and forwards, rummaging through the pile of clothes he had managed to get from his house. It wasn't much, just three pairs clothes and underwear, to keep him clothed for a few days. He had only planned on escaping, and not what to do after escaping, hence the clothes he had packed would only last him a few more days until he found a solution to the problem. He was engrossed, in choosing the clothes to wear for the day that he didn't notice the door open and then close behind him.

Soft footsteps approached him, and then stopped a few feet away.

"What is that? What the hell happened to you?" the voice whispered from behind Taehyung, making him jump in fright.

"Jungkook! You scared me!" Taehyung all but shouted. He had a hand over his chest, and at the towel wrapped at his waist, listening to the fast beating of his heart and willing to calm down it.

There was a worried look on Jungkook's face and a fear that made Taehyung curious to know, what was on his mind. What had Jungkook seen, that made him give Taehyung that kind of look - the look that said he was extremely worried about him.

"Is something wrong?" Taehyung asked. Jungkook didn't say a word for a few seconds and Taehyung thought he had simply jumped on him for fun. And then his face crumbled and he asked again.

"Those marks on your back... Who did that to you, Taehyung?"

"Marks on my-" Taehyung started and then stopped. The first question that popped into his mind, was how did he know. The second question that followed, made him want to ask Jungkook why would he think it had something to do with a person.

Taehyung slowly looked down at himself, wrapped in just a towel, with the water still trcikling down his body and onto the floor, and groaned on the inside. He had forgotten to pull another towel over his shoulders. Since the boys were nowhere in sight. He had walked into the room without any clothing. But now, he sorely regretted it. Jungkook had found out one of his many secrets, and Taehyung knew the boy wouldn't let it go until he had an answer.

"Tell me, Taehyung. How did you get those marks?"

 

*

Chapter Text

*

"Tell me, Taehyung. How did you get those marks?"

Taehyung's mind was in chaos, not knowing what to reveal and what not to. One side of his brain, whispered for him to deny it, to brush it off and tell Jungkook that it wasn't his business and that he didn't need to poke at the secrets in Tae's life. But the other side of his brain, the one with its soft voice, advised him to let Jungkook know about it.

A deafening silence stretched between them, and Taehyung licked his suddenly dry lips.

What was he supposed to do? No one had seen his marks before. And Jungkook, being a stranger, had seen them and somehow Taehyung felt a twinge of shame. Someone else had seen his disfigured body, and there was no way out of it.

But, his heart had ignored the tainted thoughts his marks conjured up, and somehow wanted to share this secret with Jungkook.

It had been so long since he had hidden his wounds, tending to them, alone in the night and crying himself to sleep at the way his life had become, it would be a nice change to let someone know. Taehyung wished to let someone know, but he was too scared to take the first step. He feared that the person would push him away sooner or later and then he would be back to square one, thrown into more agony and pain.

Was Jungkook the same as that heartless person, Taehyung had imagined in his mind? His heart whispered a soft no, and Taehyung knew the answer. Even if it had been just a short few hours that he had spent with the boys, he knew they were good, at least they seemed to be.

"Taehyung? Did you hear what I said?" Jungkook asked again and took a small step towards him. Instantly an image flashed in front of Taehyung, - his father towering over him, pushing him into a tight corner, getting ready to beat him, the coppery taste of blood in his mouth and his heart trembling in fear, and he immediately stepped back and away from Jungkook.

The reflex movement wasn't lost on Jungkook and he narrowed his eyes at Taehyung's reaction.

"Y-Yes I heard you the first time. W-Why do you think someone was responsible for those marks? I was just clumsy." Taehyung made a lame attempt to bury the topic, but of course Jungkook didn't back down. He wasn't stupid, and seemed to want to coax the exact reason out of Taehyung's mouth.

"Those marks have been made by someone, Taehyung. Tell me please... who hit you?"

Taehyung bit down on his lip, gnawing at it, and thinking hard. Should he tell Jungkook the whole truth or a part of it?

"Were you abused by someone?" Jungkook whispered. He made sure to stay where he was, as he didn’t want to scare Taehyung and waited for him to answer.

Taehyung sighed. He knew exactly what Jungkook had seen on his back. He himself didn't dare to glance at it, if he could help it, because it caused him more pain. Those angry lines, crisscrossed on his bare back, the red marks of the belt prominent on his skin. There were so many of them, that he had last count of it. Each wound had been reopened countless times, either by his father beating him in the same place or while Taehyung had tried to treat himself in the cold darkness of his room. The skin had eventually molded over the cuts, making small chunky lines of flesh on his back. They weren't visible if seen from a far, but Jungkook had been close enough to see it all.

The shame was back in his mind and Taehyung wanted to hide those wounds. His hands inched for the extra towel that he had thrown on the bed, wanting to cover his upper torso from Jungkook's probing eyes. But he couldn't. His body had lost it's will to move.

Taehyung stood frozen in place, letting himself be scrutinized by the boy he hardly knew. He felt very conscious about the fact that he was half-naked in front of a stranger. And even though Jungkook didn't seem to notice it, Taehyung felt pathetic and horribly shy.

"I-I don't know..." Taehyung finally mumbled and made a grab for the towel. He wrapped it around his back and sighed in relief when his body was shielded from Jungkook's eyes.

"What do you mean, you don't know?"

"I-I don't know who did this to me..." Taehyung's voice wavered as he lied through his teeth. It wasn't the right answer but it wasn't wrong either.

He didn't know the man who had made his life hell for the past two years. He didn't know the person, who called himself his father and yet hit Taehyung every single night. There were times, when he used to be drunk, a sight that wasn't common until two years back. Taehyung's father only started drinking when he found out about Taehyung's sexual preference. His son felt responsible for it, and would have blamed himself for pushing his father over to the other side, forcing him to drink, if he hadn't been hitting him already.

"How could you not know, Taehyung?" Jungkook gave him a look.

"You were victimized, abused and you don't know who was responsible for it? Really?" there was slight hint of incredulity in Jungkook's voice and instantly Taehyung felt guilty for trying to lie to him.

"Can we not talk about it?" Taehyung whispered. He could feel the tears prick under his eyelids and sniffled a little. He couldn't bare the thought of reliving the nightmare he was trying to run away from. Taehyung knew he wouldn't stay quiet once he started. There was a possibility he might tell Jungkook everything, and he didn't want that. He didn't want to be judged by a complete stranger just yet. He wasn't ready.

"I-I am so sorry. I didn't mean to pry on your personal life, Taehyung. It's just that -" Jungkook stumbled. The way Taehyung almost broke down had startled him and he reached out for the boy. But his hand stopped inches away from his shoulder and he stayed where he was. Jungkook hadn't seemed to have forgotten the quick retreat Tae had resorted to when he had tried to touch him before.

Taehyung sighed.

"No, Jungkook. It's not your fault. I am just not ready to tell you about it. I know it seems rude, but I can't tell you about it...yet." Taehyung could feel the guilt rising up his neck again. He really was being mean to Jungkook even when the guy was just trying to help him. But Taehyung knew his mind wasn't ready, so he had chosen to tell the truth. If Jungkook was hurt by it, and wished to avoid him, he was ready for it.

However Jungkook reacted in a completely different way then what Taehyung had expected.

"It's alright...really Taehyung, its fine. You don't need to explain it to me if you don't want to. We can wait until you are willing to share it with me."

"I can wait until you're ready to tell me." Jungkook offered him a small smile and left the silent question hanging in the air. Taehyung knew what he had wanted to say.

He was secretly implying for Taehyung to stay until he was comfortable enough to share his problems with Jungkook, and it almost made him smile at the kind hearted guy. He really was a good person.

"Are you hungry?"

"Huh?" Taehyung was thrown off guard by the sudden change of topic.

"Uh... I made breakfast. I thought you might want to come down and share it with me." Jungkook mumbled and then cracked a wide smile. His hand instinctively went to the back of his neck, scratching it while waiting for Taehyung to reply. It seemed as if the boy was feeling uncomfortable.

It warmed Taehyung's heart that Jungkook had tried to rid his mind of the painful thoughts his marks had brought on by asking about breakfast.

"Oh…okay." Taehyung nodded, smiling and followed him out of the room, all the while thinking how lucky he had been to be found by these guys.

He hadn't received as much kindness and care from his own home as he had gotten here.

 

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Chapter Text

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*
Jungkook watched him with hooded eyes, inspecting his every move, almost subconsciously, not knowing how to react. It wasn't as if Taehyung was acting any different or was a ticking bomb that would explode anytime, except he looked tensed and that was what worried Jungkook.

Somehow, Jungkook got the impression that the little conversation they had had in the room, would never occur unless Taehyung was comfortable enough to open up to him. It seemed to be a touchy topic, something that Taehyung didn't feel the need to discuss with strangers. He would have liked to think otherwise, but the boy sitting in front of him didn't agree to that.

According to Jungkook, Taehyung didn't see them as anything more than friendly strangers. They had given him shelter and food, and Taehyung had made it very clear that he would love to move out as soon as he found a desirable place, to settle down in. To say it didn't hurt him would be a lie. It did hurt him, just not the usual way.

It wasn't as if, Taehyung and he were best buds and hence the possibility of separation had got to him. No, that wasn't the case. It was true that he didn't know the guy, and had no clue as to what went on in that beautiful head of his. All he knew was that, there was something about the guy that had grabbed his attention - in a street full of strangers like him.

Was it a particular expression that had drawn Jungkook to him or something else? Jungkook didn't know. But one look in those eyes that held an expression that was all too familiar to him, and Jungkook had made the decision to take him home. However, as his luck would have it, Taehyung didn't think of him as a friend. And that hurt a bit...maybe more then a bit.

Granted that they hadn't known each other for much longer – maybe a little over few days. Maybe, Taehyung didn't make friends on a first day basis, as Yoongi and Jungkook usually did. They had a traditional test which they threw at a guy they found interesting at a club, ask some questions and viola, they made the decision. Though as far as Taehyung was concerned, his thinking was different. He was different.

As he thought back to their meeting, Jungkook thought he had behaved well, in front of Taehyung. He had been kind enough, that any other guy might have warmed up to him; talked him even. Jungkook had always been that kind of a guy. So the surprise he felt, when he got no response from Taehyung last night at dinner or the disaster that happened this morning, was a sure sign, that this case was different.

Yoongi on the other hand, had been a bit upset with Taehyung's appearance, but it didn't mean he hated the guy. He was simply being the sensible one, as always. But, for some unknown reason, Jungkook didn't want to think this matter with his head; he wanted to think it from his heart.

"This is really good, Jungkook." Taehyung whispered softly. He looked up, across the dinner table, spread between them and smiled at Jungkook. The reaction had an instant effect on Jungkook and for a moment he was lost.

The first thought that crossed Jungkook's mind was, the smile was too sweet for someone so...tainted. He didn't know if it was the right word to describe Taehyung with, but it suited him somewhat.

Just a few minutes ago he had seen those horrific scars on the boy's back, and they were hard to forget. Those bruises had accumulated over the years, and not just an overnight beating, he was sure of it. Jungkook had no clue as to when Taehyung was first hit and he couldn't even risk asking him, for the fear the guy would push him further away.

Those angry marks on his skin had made him cringe and when Taehyung had instinctively stepped back, he knew there was more to the story then just the beating. But he hadn't asked him, as Taehyung had requested. He had simply filed the questions away for a later time, hopefully when Taehyung decided to stay back some more days. And then they would discuss the problems. At least that's how Jungkook saw it.

"Uh...thanks. Do you want some more pancakes?" Jungkook asked. He raised the dish, showing Taehyung the contents.

"No." Taehyung chuckled and shook his head. "I am too full."

"You really liked them?" Jungkook gave him, his own genuine smile and met his gaze. He noticed the way Taehyung's eyes widened, and knew his adorable bunny-teeth smile was on display.

If he had been the old Jungkook, the smile would have been his major asset to seduce Taehyung into thinking he was cute and going to bed with him. But right now, he wasn't flirting with Taehyung, he was simply happy that the boy had liked the breakfast he had cooked for him.

"Orange juice?" Jungkook once again asked, as he took the jar filled with the fresh juice out of the fridge and poured a glass for himself, and looked up at Taehyung.

"Yes, please." Taehyung nodded and smiled, although it didn't reach his eyes this time. Jungkook took note of it and frowned. Had he done something wrong? Had he said something that had offended Taehyung? He couldn't think of a valid reason and decided to ask Taehyung about it.

"Is something wrong, Taehyung? You look...sad." Jungkook whispered. He passed on the glass to him, and sat down opposite to Taehyung, on another stool across the table.

"Huh? Oh no...its fine." Taehyung replied hastily and glued his eyes to the glass in front of him, as if it suddenly seemed to be more fascinating than Jungkook's question.

Jungkook wanted to ask him again, because he knew the boy was lying. But he bit down his lip and stopped his tongue from rattling off again. He had promised himself, he wouldn't pry on Taehyung's personal matters until he wanted him to, and that held true right now. If Taehyung didn't want to share his thoughts, then so be it. Jungkook was willing to wait for the ice to melt down and for Taehyung to get familiar with him.

"Don't you...uh...have work today?" Taehyung asked after an uncomfortable silence, to which Jungkook absently nodded his head.

"Yes, I have work. But I have asked Yoongi to cover up for me. I will be working two shifts this weekend, to make up for the holiday." Jungkook explained. It didn't bother him that his weekend was going to be ruined because of work. He had wanted to get to know Taehyung more and it seemed to be more interesting than work.

"Why?"

"What?" Jungkook looked over at him in confusion, wondering what Taehyung was trying to say.

"Why would you take a holiday? For what reasons?" there was an underlying curiosity in Taehyung's voice and to an extent, disbelief at Jungkook's decision. The dark haired guy, wanted to raise an eyebrow at him, wanting to know what was so surprising about his actions. But he eventually settled to simply answer the question.

"To stay with you, of course. You are sick, Taehyung and you need rest. I couldn't just leave you out here, in the house all alone and go for work." Jungkook answered. His explanation seemed logical to him, even though the only reason he stayed behind was to see the guy and talk to him some more, the 'sick' situation was just a reasonable way to get him to stay for a few days longer.

"I can take care of myself." Taehyung whispered. Jungkook noticed that the tips of his ears had turned red and Taehyung refused to make eye contact with him.

He found the sight comical and the thought that Taehyung was being shy in front of him, made him almost laugh out loud. Jungkook found it strange that such a small deed could get the guy so worked up. If it were any of his other friends, even Yoongi for that matter, they would have forced him to take care of them, feed them and just be lazy whining around him, so he would end up doing all the work. But Taehyung didn't think so.

From the unsettling look on his face, Taehyung thought Jungkook didn't need to take an holiday. And as if reading his mind, Taehyung said the exact some words, a minute later.

"You didn't have to take a holiday for me. It would make a bad impression on your employer and might lead to -" Taehyung was rambling and Jungkook knew he had to stop him, so he did the only thing he knew would quiet the boy.

He walked over to his side, and Taehyung instantly shut up. He watched Jungkook take one of his hands in his and gave it a small squeeze.

It was a bold move, and for a heartbeat Jungkook thought he would blow his chance. But Taehyung didn't push him away. Instead he stared at their entwined hands.

"Friends take care of other friends, Taehyung. It's what I would have done for Yoongi and the others." Jungkook whispered. He had said the partial truth about it being anyone, though he knew, the interest was mainly Taehyung. But the boy didn't have to know things that didn't affect him...yet.

"My mom -" Taehyung started, with his free hand still clenched in his lap while Jungkook rubbed the soft skin of his right hand.

"Yes..." Jungkook could hear his heart pounding loudly in his chest, almost drowning out the next words that fell from those lips.

"My mom used to make the best orange juice." he spoke then and his voice cracked, making Jungkook smile at the effort it was taking Taehyung to open up.

The guy looked up at him, the clear brown eyes, finding his own, and Jungkook knew he had to work hard to get closer to Taehyung. He could easily see the broken pieces of his soul through his eyes that had the same haunting look he had in his eyes when their father had found him.

It was the same look of a lost and orphaned child, searching for help and searching for love.

*

Chapter Text

*

"Hyung?"

"Hmm-"

"I think Taehyung was abused by his parents."

"What?" Yoongi looked up from the book he was reading.

Jungkook didn't meet his eyes, instead he stared at the clothes in his hands, that he had planned to give Taehyung. The guy had limited clothing on him, and must need a few extra pairs, that is...if he stayed for another week.

But Jungkook didn't know how to give it to Taehyung. The guy, right now, was cautious around him. Ever since the incident with the scars on his back, Taehyung hadn't warmed up to him much. Jungkook had tried to talk with Taehyung earlier, but he kept giving one word answers and wasn't in mood to strike a real conversation.

And Jungkook didn't blame him, but he didn't like being shut out from Taehyung's presence like this either.

"Why would you say that?" His hyung asked. "Did he tell you?"

"No." Jungkook shook his head, threw the cloths on his bed and sat down, a miserable sigh leaving his lips. "I saw it."

"What? What do you mean?" Now Jungkook had Yoongi's full attention. The elder put the book away, and was staring at him with curious eyes. "What did you see?"

For a minute Jungkook wondered whether it was too much of a revelation in front of his hyung, especially when this wasn't his story or secret to tell. Will Taehyung hate him for letting Yoongi in on his past and the abuse?

He pursed his lips and didn't say anything for a time, while Yoongi kept waiting.

Maybe he shouldn't tell Yoongi hyung, Jungkook thought.

"I won't tell him, if that's what you're worried about." Yoongi said when the silence around them took an uncomfortable turn. "I'm not one to advertise someone's past like that. You know it, Jungkookie."

"I know hyung." Jungkook nodded. Taehyung's secret would be safe with his hyung, but-

"I don't think I-I am the right person to share it."

"True." Yoongi agreed. "But, it's not like Taehyung will be warming up to me anytime soon. If you hadn't seen those scars by accident I doubt we would have found out about it...ever." He stopped and a thoughtful expression crossed his face.

"He seems like the type...the type to suffer in silence, until he can't anymore. I'm thinking he ran away from home, because of this."

Jungkook had thought about it too, that maybe Taehyung was hiding from his parents because of this abuse.

"That could be the case, but hyung, do you think it's a good idea for Taehyung to keep running?" He asked. "Isn't it better to face them and make it clear that he doesn't want to stay under the same roof as them."

"We should face our demons and fight them the best way we can – that's what you taught me." Jungkook said, and Yoongi's lips twitched, a small smile on his face.

"I did."

There was a time when Jungkook had been overcome with helplessness, not knowing how to conquer the frustration inside him.

He had had trust issues early on in his life, having been abandoned as a baby and been pushed from one family to the other, until Yoongi had found him.

His hyung had helped him get through those dark times.

Jungkook wasn't the guy who made friends as easily in the past, because of the image in his head that he wasn't good enough to be friends with others. An orphan like him wouldn't be liked by anyone – those were his thoughts. His confidence was on all-low and he couldn't even look anyone in the eye.

But Yoongi hyung had chided him, taunted him and told him to fight it, to fight his demons. It had taken a long, long time. But Jungkook had been able to overcome it eventually.

"But, I don't think Taehyung is ready to face his demons yet." Yoongi was saying.

"Why do you say that?" Jungkook asked.

"You said, you saw scars on his back. I'm guessing they are old scars?"

Jungkook nodded, and Yoongi continued. "This means Taehyung has been abused for some time now. It won't be easy to face his abuser, not with the way he is now."

"When -" he stopped and took a deep breathe.

"When you have been abused by someone near to you, in this case, Taehyung's parents, you can't just overcome the fear in your heart and face them. It takes a different kind of courage to get back on your feet and fight them. I think Taehyung needs time to heal and discover that courage, that I'm sure he has within him, to fight the injustice done to him."

"But it's going to take some time."

There was a pause, and then Yoongi asked. "You remember what happened to Jimin, right?"

"Yes. I remember." Jungkook couldn't forget that incident even if he wanted to.

Jimin was Yoongi hyung's friend and two years elder to him. They had met up a few times, but Jungkook wouldn't say they were close friends. He was more Yoongi's mate then Jungkook's hyung. But he had heard about Jimin's past from Yoongi, and had had a glimpse of it after the whole thing went down.

Jimin never told anyone about his abusing boyfriend until Hoseok hyung had discovered the bruises on Jimin's body by accident. They were roommates and shared the same classes. He didn't know the boyfriend's name but he had confronted Jimin about it. He had even called in Yoongi hyung and Jimin's brother, Seokjin hyung into the matter.

Together, they had made Jimin leave him.

Jungkook had witnessed Jimin's breakdown with his own eyes. The denial on his face and how he had tried to make them understand that his boyfriend loved him, and that he was having some anger management issues.

But it wasn't just anger management issues, they found out later on.

His boyfriend had beat him up when he was drunk, he would put restrictions on Jimin and stalk him, and forced him to cut ties with all his friends. Even Yoongi who was close to Jimin had to maintain a distance because of Jimin's toxic relationship.

It had been bad. And Jungkook was glad it was over.

"Jimin was in denial and kept saying his boyfriend loved him." Yoongi said. "But we all know the truth."

"You think, because it's his parents, Taehyung can't go against them?"

"I'm not sure. We'll have to find out." Yoongi said. "For whatever reason Taehyung is putting off meeting his parents, it can't be pretty."

"I'm worried we only know half of his story."

*

Chapter Text

[Unedited]

*

"Take some more." Yoongi insisted to an already frustrated Taehyung, and the younger tried to catch Jungkook's eyes, as if trying to ask for help.

Jungkook clamped down his lips, trying not to let his amused smile escape him.

"Uh...hyung, I can't eat anymore. I-I really am full."

"No. You're not." Yoongi replied, and before Taehyung could argue more, added more of the soup into his bowl.

There was no escaping it now, and Jungkook felt a pang of pity towards Taehyung.

Another day had passed by, where Jungkook had taken the morning shift, and came back home early. Yoongi hyung had gone for the night shift, and just returned home with goodies.

Jungkook had no clue his hyung would bring in Chinese take-out. They had already prepared dinner and were waiting for Yoongi. When it was discovered that Yoongi had brought in extra food, Jungkook decided on heating the soup and kept the rest in the fridge for the next day.

He didn't want to waste the dish he had just cooked up for Taehyung and his hyung, nor did he want to see the small disappointed frown on Yoongi face if Taehyung didn't accept his gesture.

So he settled for the better option, having a little of both and placed it on the table.

"Hyung?" Jungkook placed a hand on Yoongi's shoulder and pulled him to the side.

"What are you doing?"

"What?" Yoongi busied himself in washing the dishes in the sink.

"I'm not blind, hyung. I know you want to pamper Taehyung, but it doesn't work that way." Jungkook tried to reason, after checking they were out of earshot. Taehyung was making a frustrated face while having the soup, but Jungkook knew he had enjoyed the attention.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Yoongi said and turned the tap, letting the rush of water splash on his hands, and some splashed on Jungkook's face surprising him.

"Hey! Hyung! That's so mean of you!" He stepped back and wiped his face with the sleeve of his grey t-shirt.

"Then stop pestering me."

"But hyung-"

Yoongi turned off the tap and sighed. "I know. The sudden change in my behavior won't sit well with Taehyung. He must be wondering what's gotten over me and why I'm being like this with him. But...I can't help it."

"He doesn't need your pity, hyung." Jungkook said in a soft voice.

"No." Yoongi shook his head. "It's not pity. It's more like I can't seem to figure out how to give him that confidence to fight back his abusers. So for now, I have settled on fawning over him."

His hyung turned to him, a sad smile on his face. "You get what I'm saying."

"Yes." Jungkook nodded. He didn't say it out loud, but he knew that watching Taehyung must bring back old memories of them both, in a similar situation.

Jungkook too had taken some time to warm up to Yoongi. The old version of him had been closed off, not talking much, eating what was given to him with a silent voice. He wouldn't talk much or try to strike up a conversation with Yoongi. He had been too afraid, too fearful that he had get kicked out if he started behaving himself or broke the ice wall between him and Yoongi too soon.

But Yoongi hyung proved him wrong. He was the one to take initiative at every step of the way, coaxing and challenging Jungkook to respond to his memorable friendship. Eventually, Jungkook had grown to love this beautiful side of his Yoongi hyung. To this day, Jungkook is thankful to his hyung for creating a better version of him, a better version born from the old Jungkook that he had started to love over the years. He was now at peace with his past, and his present.

"Maybe I should go slow with the shower of love and attention." Yoongi said after a pause.

"I think-" Jungkook started but heard the sound of chair scrapping against the tiles. Taehyung was done with the soup.

Yoongi jumped to take the opportunity. "Are you done? Do you need more-"

"No." Taehyung all but let out a panicked shout.

An awkward silence settled on them, and a second later, Yoongi chuckled. "Okay. Go clean up. I'll finish off with the rest of dishes."

"I can do it." Taehyung said, but Yoongi was already shaking his head.

"No. You're still on your way to recovery."

Taehyung's shoulders dropped and he gave a slow nod. "Okay." He said and disappeared into the hallway joining the kitchen and the living room to the room downstairs.

The exchange had got Jungkook thinking that maybe staying at home might have bored Taehyung. He had stayed inside for a good two days and wasn't complaining...yet. Should they take him out?

"Hyung?"

"Yes." Yoongi turned to face him, his hands half submerged in soap water in the sink.

"Maybe...maybe we should take him out." Jungkook suggested.

"What?"

Jungkook scratched his head, wondering if he was going too fast, maybe he should let Taehyung stay at home for another.

"Should we take him out? Maybe just hang out in the park or maybe we could take him to the bakery with us. What do you think?"

Wrinkles appeared on Yoongi's forehead, letting Jungkook know that he was giving it a thought and not blowing him off, like he would have done two days ago, when he didn't know much about Taehyung.

"You might be right."

"I mean, he's still weak. But a small visit to the bakery wouldn't hurt." Yoongi said after much thinking. "He will be within our sight and we can come back early if Taehyung starts feeling too exhausted."

"Right?" Jungkook brightened at the thought of taking Taehyung to the bakery. "It's a good idea. I'm sure he will like it. We can ask the owner to add some pastries on our tab, and let Taehyungie taste some of my special recipes."

Yoongi gave him a knowing smile. "Sure."

"What?" Jungkook felt a slow burn spread to his cheeks. "What? I just want him to taste some of the specials on our bakery menu. There's nothing wrong with that!"

"If you say so." Yoongi said with a shrug and wiped his hands on the kitchen towel, having finished with the dishes.

"I-I'll go tell him about our plan for tomorrow." Jungkook said and left Yoongi behind, making his way to the hallway, excited to share the news with Taehyung.

He couldn't wait to take the younger for a visit to the bakery, and show off his baking skills. Everybody loved the mystery recipes he cooked up, and Jungkook was sure, Taehyung would enjoy them too.

 

*

Chapter Text

*

Taehyung was freaking out. And Yoongi didn't know how to comfort him.

He stood at the door, watching the younger fret over what to wear, and pacing in the room, still clueless that the other was watching him.

Taehyung sat on the bed, then got up and walked to the chair and sat down, and again got up and started moving around, his eyes downcast and teeth nibbling on his nails.

He was riled up with the idea of going to the bakery, and Yoongi couldn't figure out why Taehyung would be so worked up over just an innocent visit to the bakery. It wasn't like the bakery was a fancy place for Taehyung to worry over getting dressed up.

It was their workplace and nothing more.

Hell, Yoongi sometimes worked in his pajamas when he was running late just to avoid getting a scolding from the bakery owner.

Then why was Taehyung being like this?

Was it related to his past? He wondered. Did Taehyung not like going to the bakery? Did it remind him of something...someone?

Yoongi wanted to enter the room, wanting to ask Taehyung the questions he had about the younger guy, but he didn't. Somehow in Yoongi's head this questioning felt like an intrusion of privacy. Taehyung hadn't opened up to them much, and he was right to take it slow.

They were still strangers to each other, and one couldn't possibly tell the other their life history after staying together for just three days. Taehyung needed more time to settle, and Yoongi was going to give him as much as he wanted.

He could only hope that Taehyung wouldn't shut them out forever. Especially, not where Jungkook was concerned, because he wasn't blind, he knew Jungkook had taken an interest in the boy, and Yoongi wanted to be sure the relation wouldn't turn sour because of secrets kept between them.

"Dammit! What should I wear?" Taehyung muttered, catching Yoongi's attention.

Yoongi saw the clothes spread on the bed. Taehyung was staring at them, with a hand on his chin and deep in thought. Did he need new clothes to wear? Was that the solution to his mystery question?

No, Yoongi shook his head. If he only wanted new clothes to wear he would have used the ones Jungkook had handed to him last night. They were in good condition and Taehyung had seemed to like the comfortable jeans and hoodie pairing. This was something else...something-

"Would this look good?" Taehyung asked himself, and that's when it clicked in his head.

Yoongi closed his eyes and took a deep breath, when he opened them, he couldn't help watching Taehyung with a tinge of pity in his heart.

It hadn't been his intention, but he couldn't help it.

Yoongi now knew what he had been missing, he knew why Taehyung was freaking out, because he had seen this behavior before.

Taehyung was trying to dress to impress. He was trying for the new clothes, because he seemed to want to make an impress on Jungkook and Yoongi, as well as the people in the bakery. He wanted to show himself in a light such that they accepted him right away.

Taehyung was afraid of rejection from the new people he would see, and he wanted to avoid it as best as possible.

Rejection from society, for what he was, for how he was, for how he behaved – this was Taehyung's fear, and Yoongi knew about it, because Jungkook had been the same.

When they were younger, and Jungkook had stayed with them only for a few months, they had decided to go out on a picnic.

Everything had been fine, until Jungkook almost came close to crying because he couldn't find the perfect clothes to wear for the outing.

When Yoongi had said it's just a small picnic with the family, and that he didn't need to worry about it, Jungkook's answer had changed the way Yoongi looked at him.

"But I want to look good. I want to look good, just like you and everybody else. I want to fit in, and not look like I don't belong...like I'm an orphan and not part of the family."

Jungkook had whispered the last part, and Yoongi had saddened at how this kid thought about them, and the family as whole.

He had wanted to behave like someone else to fit in with the family. And though no one had pressured him to do so, the silent fear of being rejected had stayed in this younger Jungkook's heart – so much so that he would do anything to blend in, anything to stay a part of it all. He didn't want other people to look at him and think he was someone else and not with the family.

He had wanted to impress others and make them like him by changing the way he was, and fitting to the standards, so as to be accepted.

Years later, Jungkook had come to understand that following the norm wasn't a necessity but a way of thinking. If it suited his lifestyle he could follow it, and if not he could throw it out of the window – as Yoongi had done.

Yoongi could never be bothered with what others thought, or what the society thought about him. He had long gone past worrying about it.

And right now, Taehyung needed to know this as well.

He needed to know that he wasn't required to impress them. In fact he wasn't entitled to impress anyone. He was his own person, and had his own style. People could except it or ignore it. But no one had the right to push their beliefs onto him.

With this in mind, Yoongi took a step inside and knocked on the door.

Taehyung stiffed and then turned to face the door. "Oh...hyung, it's you? I thought it was Jungkook."

"Sorry." Yoongi shrugged. "It's just me for now."

Taehyung collected the clothes and put them on the side, making space for Yoongi to sit on the bed. But Yoongi moved away and sat on the chair near the bedside table.

"Are you done deciding what to wear?" He asked, knowing well what the answer would be.

Taehyung shook his head. "No. I-I don't know what to wear."

"You know," Yoongi said in a kind voice. "It's just a visit to the bakery, nothing fancy."

A blush crept up Taehyung's cheek. "I-I know. I just wanted -"

"You wanted to impress the others?" Yoongi prompted.

Taehyung opened his mouth and then closed it again. "I-I ...my family always made sure that I was dressed correctly for an occasion."

So this is where the fear was coming from, Yoongi thought. The fear of rejection from others, as well as being brought up in a strict family must have done a number on Taehyung. In his eyes, probably, the minute you stepped out in midst of the public eye you had to look perfect.

And now, that he was away from his family, he still couldn't get out of the mold his parents had tried to fit him in.

The pity in Yoongi's heart turned into frustration.

How he wished, parents would leave their child alone and let them decide what they wanted, instead of forcing them to be what the society wants.

But since that wasn't the case, Yoongi decided to maneuver this lost Taehyung in the right direction.

"Well, we don't have any rules here." Yoongi said, and Taehyung looked up at him, unsure and curious.

"We dress anyway we want, and no one can say a thing about it." He paused, letting it sink into Taehyung's head. "You can wear whatever you like."

"But...but what if the clothes I like aren't right for the visit?" Taehyung asked in a small voice, and the brief flicker of fear in his eyes made Yoongi's heart clench.

For how long had this kid suppressed his desires? For how long had Taehyung wished to wear something but was forced to choose another, by his parents? For how long had he locked away those thoughts of freedom inside him? For how long-

"Hyung?"

Yoongi snapped out of his thoughts. "What?"

"Is something wrong?" Taehyung asked and frowned at him.

"Why do you ask that?"

"Your hands...you're holding down the chair too tightly."

Yoongi looked down, and Taehyung was right.

He had his hands curved on the arms of the chair, so tightly that his knuckles had whitened. The sudden burst of anger inside him against Taehyung's faceless parents had made him want to punch something. Now though, he looked at Taehyung and willed his mind to calm down.

"Taehyung, you can wear anything you want." Yoongi said, once again watching Taehyung's surprise expression.

He really had a long way to go, in terms of building personal opinions.

"You can walk out of this house naked if you like, and none of us would mind it."

"Hyung!" Taehyung's horrified face dissipated the anger inside Yoongi, and relief settled upon his heart.

"What? It's the truth!"

"I-I will wear something." Taehyung sputtered, red in the face and not meeting his eyes.

"Not just something." Yoongi wagged a finger. "Wear whatever the hell you like, and if you don't like the current clothes you have, ask Jungkook for more. And if he refuses, I'll be the one he has to answer."

"N-No that's fine. You don't have to involve Jungkook in this!" Taehyung looked alarmed and Yoongi schooled in his expressions. Maybe Taehyung hadn't caught his joking tone.

Jungkook did say that his humor was lost on the younger guy. It looked like the case was same with Taehyung.

"Just wear what you like Tae, and be sure to wake up early. We'll be leaving at eight in the morning."

"Yes, hyung." Taehyung nodded and smiled at him and went back to his clothes.

"Thank you." It was a whisper but Yoongi heard it just the same. He knew Taehyung meant that word, even if he hadn't had the courage to say it to Yoongi's face.

Yoongi slipped out of the room and couldn't help but smile. Somehow his words had gotten to Taehyung.

It was a small victory, but victory nonetheless.

*