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spiders and sunflowers

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Taehyung hopes he’s not going to be late. 

His taxi has been stuck at a red light for what seems like forever and he’s started to sweat through his shirt. He unbuttons the collar in an attempt to cool down but it doesn’t really work, so he starts fanning himself with his hand, getting progressively more worried. 

He can’t show up to his first ever blind date all sweaty and gross. 

It definitely doesn’t help that he has to wear the stupid suit underneath. All that black and neon yellow lycra is the complete opposite of breathable. It might have been easier to just bring it in a bag but if a bad guy busts through the restaurant window he’s hardly going to have time to change. And it would be hard to explain the weird bag to his date, anyway. So, suit under clothes it is. The shirt is one of his favourites - sunflowers have always had a calming effect on him - but now he’s thinking it’s maybe too gaudy for a first date. Too colourful, perhaps. He’s not sure. He didn’t run his outfit past Jimin, who’s much more experienced at this kind of thing, and now he’s cursing himself. 

The traffic light is still red. 

Taehyung tugs at the front of his shirt, his heart stuttering in his chest. He’s almost certainly going to be late. Late and sweaty and wearing a shirt that makes him look like a Dad vacationing in Hawaii. His feels panicked, winded, like his chest is collapsing in on itself. 

He needs to stop.

He focuses on his breathing and the gentle jazz music dribbling out of the car radio, pulling out his phone in an attempt to distract himself. It lights up in his hand, the Mario-collecting-a-coin noise chiming away to alert him of an incoming text message.

jiminie 💕

good luck tonight, taehyungie

rootin for u

😉

The message makes Taehyung feel better and he lets loose a small laughs as the light turns green and the taxi pulls away. Jimin has been pestering Taehyung to allow him to set him up on a blind date for years now. He almost didn’t believe it when Taehyung finally gave in. 

A while ago, Taehyung had convinced himself that he would never be able to have a proper relationship, not the way Jimin had with Namjoon or Jeongguk had with Hoseok, for instance. First, Taehyung would have to tell them he’s Spider-Man. Second, they’d have to be okay with that. He can’t imagine any version of reality where those two things happen smoothly.

That said, his life is a mess and he’s lonely, so going on a date with someone Jimin deemed ‘the cutest guy I know except for you’ somehow became a good idea.

Dates kind of scare him. Such a huge portion of his life is something he has to keep secret and Taehyung’s never been any good at keeping secrets. He likes to share. Overshare, if he’s being honest. As such, the mere concept of going on a date has him feeling more than a little anxious.

He’s been overthinking every minor detail since Jimin set the date up. The questions multiply in his mind and remain unanswered. What on earth is he going to say? What if he comes across as unlikeable or boring? What if he gives something away and ruins the already-precarious set-up of his entire life in the process? What, then?

Taehyung has struggled with anxiety since before he became Spider-Man. It has always made things exhaustingly difficult. 

Now, it makes being Spider-Man difficult.

Actively seeking out scary stuff goes against his nature. When it comes to fight or flight, Kim Taehyung would choose flight every time. One little spider bite had to ruin all that, though, and now he finds himself doing stuff like chasing down criminals and following them into creepy, abandoned warehouses while every atom of his body screeches at him to go home and crawl under the covers and hide

So, yeah, the whole Spider-Man thing was a bit of a life-ruiner, but like most things, he just goes with it.

Everything has been survivable so far.

The taxi slows to a stop and Taehyung hands over his fare before hurrying out into the dark and the rain, the restaurant glowing warmly ahead of him like a beacon.

Miraculously, he’s on time. A waiter ushers him to a booth tucked away in the far-left corner of the restaurant. It’s wonderfully cosy with candlelight. Secluded and as such, very romantic. It’s quintessentially Jimin.

Taehyung spies his date as he crosses the restaurant floor. The man, who he knows is called Min Yoongi, is frowning down at his menu, a glass of red wine quivering in front of him. He’s clearly taken a few sips, as the beverage has already stained his lips a deep shade of pink. His hair is the same ruby, Merlot colour, and the candle flames flirt with him, dappling his skin with golden shadows and illuminating his dark eyes.

He’s beautiful - unfairly so - and Taehyung feels his stomach start performing tricks. Cartwheels.

The waiter directs him to his seat before striding away. 

“Um, hi,” Taehyung says, hovering by the table and giving Yoongi an awkward little wave. “You’re Min Yoongi?”

“Yeah, and you’re Kim Taehyung, right?” Yoongi replies. He stands up to shake Taehyung’s hand and then they both sit down. “Jimin-ah has told me a lot about you.”

Taehyung flushes. “Oh no. Good things, I hope?”

“Nothing but,” Yoongi says. His gaze momentarily dips to Taehyung’s chest. “I-, um, I like your shirt.”

Taehyung’s hands instinctively flit to his collar and he fiddles with one of the buttons, warming at Yoongi’s compliment. “Thank you,” he says. “It’s one of my favourites.”

Yoongi smiles at him. It’s gummy and precious and brightens his entire face and Taehyung’s heart shimmies inside his chest. Jimin has done well, he has to admit.

Their waiter comes over to pour Taehyung a glass of wine and take their order before heading over to the kitchen. After he’s gone, Yoongi and Taehyung clink their glasses together to toast the evening. 

“So, Taehyung, what do you do?” Yoongi asks.

Taehyung’s heart sinks. It’s the question he’s been dreading.

Here’s the thing: being Spider-Man is fucking time-consuming. It was fine when he was in school and even in college. He had all this spare time and could ditch whenever he needed to because either Jimin or Jeongguk would cover for him. When he graduated, things changed. He took on a desk job at a publishing company and it was fine, for a little while, but they weren’t so keen on the ditching and eventually fired him for being unreliable. So, for the last year or so, Taehyung has been unemployed. Or not, really, because being Spider-Man is pretty much a full-time job and he also has to be on call literally twenty-four seven. He can’t exactly tell Min Yoongi that, though, which leaves him in a bit of a predicament.

“I’m kind of between jobs at the moment,” Taehyung lies before taking a sip of wine. “Haven’t really worked out what I wanna do with my life yet.”

Yoongi shrugs easily. “That’s valid.”

“It is?” Taehyung blinks at him, surprised by his reaction.

“Yeah,” Yoongi says, like it’s obvious. “You have to take your time figuring that stuff out. Go at your own pace.”

“Even if that means I still live with my grandmother and the biggest accomplishment I’ve made this year is hitting level three hundred in Walnut Village?” Taehyung asks, tilting his head to the side.

(Truthfully, his biggest accomplishment this year would probably be single-handedly dismantling the Pink Lightning gang and sending their people-trafficking asses to jail. Again, though, he can hardly tell Min Yoongi that.)

“If it makes you happy, then that’s okay,” Yoongi tells him. “Too many people feel like they have to achieve success as soon as they can and rush into careers that might not be the right fit for them in the process. It’s good, I think, to have a little patience with yourself. I’m sure you’re doing just fine, Taehyung.”

Taehyung suddenly feels like he might cry. His eyes fill with tears, blurring his surroundings and turning Yoongi into one big, fuzzy shape. “That’s really- that’s really nice. Thank you.”

Yoongi stares at him, looking a bit concerned. Taehyung blinks away his tears and forces a grin. “Okay, that’s enough about me! Tell me about yourself, Yoongi. What do you do?” 

“I’m a police officer,” Yoongi says, and Taehyung’s mouth instantly dries. 

He feels silly for not seeing it coming. Jimin is a police officer, after all, and it makes sense that he’d set Taehyung up with someone from his work. The problem is, Taehyung is convinced that every police officer in Seoul hates his guts. They have to deal with the same dangerous shit he deals with, only without superpowers and the luxury of hiding behind a mask. Meanwhile, Taehyung zooms in, totally uninvited, and takes things into his own hands without having to answer to anybody. He doesn’t even have to do any of the boring paperwork.

“Oh, really?” Taehyung manages to say, only when it grows painfully apparent that Yoongi’s waiting for him to respond. “That’s interesting.”

“It’s a little boring, honestly,” Yoongi goes on. “I kind of wish I’d taken my time and figured out my real passion in life. Like you.”

Taehyung swallows hard.

“Anyway,” Yoongi mumbles. “Bathroom. Excuse me, Taehyung.”

Taehyung smiles and nods politely. When Yoongi is out of his line of sight, he whips his phone out of his pocket.  

tae-tae 🕷️

he’s a police officer

why didn’t you tell me he’s a police officer?

jiminie 💕

bc it’s a blind date??? 

that’s kind of against the rules...

uhhh does it matter? he’s cute

tae-tae 🕷️

he’s rlly cute!!

but yes it matters!!

all police officers wanna see me die

DIE

jiminie 💕

not true

i’m a police officer

and ilu 😊

tae-tae 🕷️

that’s bc you’re my oldest, bestest friend u goon

i know how the rest of them feel

i read the newspapers

i have a fckn twitter account

😢

jiminie 💕

oh tae

yoongz is chill i promise

dw

tae-tae 🕷️

i’m kind of freaking out

jiminie 💕

oh, bae, i’m sorry

i didn’t think

want me to come get u?

i can take u home 

we can do face masks and snuggle

tae-tae 🕷️

ugh

no

i’ll be a Big Boy

jiminie 💕

that’s the spirit!

for the record, i think ur worries are misplaced

just be urself ok!?

Taehyung grinds out an ‘okay’ under his breath before he notices Yoongi is coming back to the table. He quickly deposits his phone in his slacks and looks up, smiling brightly.

“So, um, what do you think of Spider-Man?”

Yoongi has barely sat back down and the question is completely unprompted but Taehyung figures he might as well get it over with. Yoongi hums and readjusts his napkin on his lap, looking thoughtful. It’s a cute look on him. His eyebrows knit and his lips downturn slightly, making him look like a disgruntled cat. 

“Spider-Man is cool,” he says, eventually.

“Huh?” 

“He’s cool? Superheroes are pretty cool in general.”

Taehyung is flabbergasted. “But you’re a police officer.”

Yoongi gives him a funny look. “So?”

Taehyung makes a garbled sound and accidentally knocks his chopsticks off the table where they fall to the floor with a clatter. A waiter immediately appears at their side as if conjured into being by a summoning circle and places a new set in front of Taehyung. 

“Um, I just thought the police might have a problem with Spider-Man, you know? He’s a vigilante, so he’s kind of stepping on your toes a bit.”

Yoongi watches him curiously. “Spider-Man has been given tremendous power that’s probably as much a burden as it is a gift. I don’t make it a habit to judge things I can’t possibly understand.”

Of all the things Yoongi could have said, Taehyung hadn’t expected that. “You don’t?” he asks in a tiny voice, willing himself not to get teary again.

“No,” Yoongi insists. “What’s this about, Taehyung? Why are you asking these questions about Spider-Man all of a sudden?”

“No reason!” Taehyung exclaims, shrugging exaggeratedly. “Just curious.”

“Okay,” Yoongi says, sounding unconvinced.

Taehyung feels himself start to sweat again and thanks his lucky stars when the waiting staff approach the table with their food.

“Oh, yay,” he says weakly. “I’m so hungry.”

They each scoop a portion of japchae onto their plates and begin eating. The atmosphere is slightly awkward and Taehyung presses his lips together, feeling like he’s ruined everything. He’s about to ask Yoongi if they can start over when Yoongi smiles at him. It’s the kind of smile that makes Taehyung forget all his worries. 

“Jimin told me you studied costume design at college,” Yoongi says. “What was that like?”

“Oh, I loved it,” Taehyung says, thankful for the change in topic. “I’ve been interested in clothes for ages. Like, when I was young, I’d always make adjustments to my outfits. I started small, ironing patches onto my jeans, decorating the backs of old jackets I picked up at thrift stores or cropping my trousers and t-shirts. Eventually I took a some sewing lessons and started making my own- um, my own pieces. Then I eventually chose to study costume design because I wanted to design outfits for stage plays and stuff.”

“You don’t want to do that anymore?” Yoongi asks.

“No, I do. I just-” Taehyung pauses, searching for a way to explain himself. “It’s a very competitive field.”

“Well, whenever you’re ready to pursue it, I’m sure you’ll do well,” Yoongi says. He sounds so certain that it nearly makes Taehyung tear up again.

“Yeah. Maybe,” Taehyung answers in a wobbly voice.

“Taehyung,” Yoongi says, his brow creasing as he lays his chopsticks down. “I’m sorry if I’m prying, but you- you look upset. Do you not want to talk about this?”

Taehyung shakes his head. “It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it. You’re just being so nice to me. I’m sorry.”

Yoongi swallows and his wine-pink lips part prettily and Taehyung wonders what it would be like to kiss him. It doesn’t feel like something he should be allowed to do. Yoongi has been so nice, so normal, and Taehyung- Taehyung is just this fucked-up boy made up of secrets and lies. It wouldn’t be fair to give himself to someone, not when he can only offer them a thin sliver of who he really is. It would be like giving them half a person, and that’s why he should never have agreed to go on this date. 

He runs a hand through his hair and sighs, feeling resigned.  

And that’s when the windows explode.

There’s a collective scream while thousands of tiny glass shards collapse to the floor and then there’s just the crunch of heavy boots stepping onto the glass followed by a horrible quiet that Taehyung knows very well. It’s the kind of quiet that usually precedes violence. 

Taehyung doesn’t turn around. He keeps his eyes fixed on Yoongi, who must have grabbed his hand sometime after the explosion. Taehyung looks at their linked fingers and squeezes Yoongi’s knuckles. It’s okay, he wants to say. It will be okay. But first he needs to convince himself of that.

“Look at you all, enjoying your meals,” comes a taunting voice from behind him. Taehyung focuses on it, letting his spider senses unfurl. “Fancy meals like this cost an awful lot, don’t they? You all must have wallets fit to burst.”

“I should do something,” Yoongi mouths. “I’m a police officer- I should-”

Taehyung shakes his head slowly. His heart pounds in his chest in a way that’s familiar by now, each quick beat as awful as the last. He always thought it would get easier.

It never does. 

“So, let’s see those wallets, please, ladies and gentlemen. Get them on the tables. Now.”

Yoongi’s eyes widen and he moves as if to get up. Taehyung tugs on his hand gently, keeping him in place.

“Don’t,” he mutters, before reaching his free hand to his blazer pocket. He slips his mask out, the material satiny and cold against his palm. It pools in his hand like water and he notices Yoongi’s gaze dip to it, his nose scrunching up in confusion.

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung says, because it feels appropriate, then he lets go of Yoongi’s hand, pulls his mask over his head and expertly slinks out of his loose-fitting clothes, leaving them in a heap underneath the table.

Yoongi watches him, his mouth pursed in shock, and Taehyung just shrugs and shoots him some dorky finger guns before slinging a rope of shimmering web across the restaurant floor and leaping across it in one smooth, graceful arc.

The bad guy is wearing a simple black mask and cradling about fifteen wallets and purses in his musclur arms by now. When he sees Taehyung appear at his left, a blur of bumblebee black-and-yellow, he stops. A couple of the wallets spill out of his arms and bounce on the restaurant floor.

“You didn’t think to bring a bag or something?” Taehyung quips from where he’s perched on top of someone’s table. “Just how many of those did you expect to carry out of here?”

The bad guy yells something incoherent and tosses the wallets and purses at Taehyung, who bats them away with a swipe of his arm. Then, the bad guy twists his fists in his pockets and Taehyung sighs. He has danced this dance many times by now; he knows the guy is going for his weapon. 

Please don’t be a gun, Taehyung thinks absently, before leapfrogging over to the next table. 

The bad guy eventually pulls out a knife and Taehyung shoots some sticky web around his wrist and yanks, sending him plummeting to the floor. He drops the knife and Taehyung grabs it effortlessly, flipping it in his hand before placing it on a nearby table.

The guy groans and then puts his hands up. “I give up, okay? You win.”

Taehyung pulls the guy up by his collar and twists his hands behind his back before marching him outside. He hears the shrill wail of sirens in the distance, which means all he has to do is wait.

“How the hell did you get there so fast?” the bad guy mumbles under his breath. “You on a fucking date or something?”

Taehyung scowls under his mask. He can’t believe it. He is so fucking done. He never gets to go on dates - never - and just as things were going well with someone pretty and nice and normal, this guy crashes in, ruins everything, and then has the audacity to act like Taehyung has inconvenienced him

Except, a small voice inside of him says, you were already ruining everything pretty well all on your own, weren’t you?  

Taehyung hands the criminal over to the police without a word before rushing up the restaurant wall. He tugs off his mask, frustrated, and flops down on the rooftop to stare up at the sky. It’s littered with faraway starlight and wispy bits of cloud and Taehyung stays like that for a little while, lying on his back and hating everything. He senses Yoongi coming before he hears the tiny cough behind him. 

Taehyung jumps to his feet and turns on his heel, finding himself face-to-face with his date. Yoongi’s carrying Taehyung’s clothes in his arms, the sunflower-print shirt folded neatly on top. Taehyung avoids his eyes as he reaches out to take them. 

A freezing wind whips around them, laced with the dampness of oncoming rain. 

“So,” Yoongi says. “That explains a lot.”

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung says again, and it doesn't feel like enough. He folds his arms into his shirt before pulling on his slacks. “I thought this would go differently. I- I’m sorry for wasting your time. I should never have agreed to this.” 

“Why not?”

“I can’t date,” Taehyung bites out, wrapping his arms around himself and wincing against the cold. “I’m fucking Spider-Man. I have superpowers and a shit ton of responsibility. I’m living this messed up double life where I’m terrified ninety-nine percent of the time. I’m a wreck.” 

Yoongi just shrugs. “Yeah, well. Who isn’t?”

Taehyung inelegantly opens and closes his mouth a few times before he finds his voice again. “You can’t be serious. You still want to date me?”

“I do.”

Taehyung shivers. “Is this just because I’m Spider-Man? Because it’s ‘cool’, or whatever?”

Yoongi frowns. “Of course not. It’s because I enjoyed talking to you. You’re fun and you're interesting and- and cute.”

“Cute?” Taehyung repeats. He can feel his lips start to pout.  

“Taehyung-ah. Your favourite shirt has sunflowers on it and you dream of designing costumes for stage plays one day and you get all blushy whenever I compliment you. If that’s not cute, then what is?”

Taehyung laughs breathily and fights off the urge to hide his face in his hands. His insides feel all light and airy. 

“You’re freezing,” Yoongi mumbles, taking a careful step towards him. “And you barely ate anything. Why don’t we go somewhere less fancy and grab some ramyun or something?”

“I can’t believe you still want to date me,” Taehyung breathes out giddily. 

“I can’t believe you still want to date me,” Yoongi replies, letting him lead the way over to the staircase. “You’re so- and I’m so- boring.”

“You’re not,” Taehyung says firmly, shaking his head. “Not even close. Trust me.”

Yoongi hums. “Let’s go get some ramyun, Taehyung-ah.” 

“Yes,” Taehyung agrees. “Let’s.”