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my heart is gold and my hands are cold

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Who would’ve thought that the grim reaper drove an expensive Mercedes?

 

“Jimin!”

 

Jimin’s father grabbed him by the shoulders, something indecipherable in his eyes. Maybe chaos. Definitely fear.

 

“Listen to me very carefully,” the man said frantically, squeezing Jimin so tight that it hurt. Jimin looked back at him, shivering.

“You need to go now. You need to go out the back door and run. Run as fast as you can, and then hide. Can you do that for me?”

 

“B-but, dad,” Jimin stuttered, trying to swallow down tears of panic. His mother ran into the room.

“You need to go now, Jimin. It’s going to be fine, but you need to go,” she said, her usually calm demeanor filled with dread.

 

The car doors slammed outside.

 

“Now,” his father said sternly. “Go.”

 

Jimin took a shaky breath, throwing the last glance at his parents. Then he ran.

 

He could hear someone banging their front door before he slammed the back door closed behind him. Someone yelled. He didn’t want to hear more.

 

*

 

Taehyung’s phone rang on his desk. He picked it up, sighing.

 

“Yeah?”

“It’s done,” a voice said flatly at the other end of the line.

“How’d it go?” Taehyung asked, leaning back in his chair.

“Quickly. Easily.”

“But?”

 

The line was quiet for a while.

“How do you always know when there’s a but ?”

“That’s the reason I’m still alive, Hoseok. What’s the but ?”

 

Taehyung could hear Hoseok taking a breath.

“The son was not there. He managed to escape.”

“Ah.”

“We’re trying to find him.”

“Don’t bother. He’ll resurface. And he’s not that much of a liability, anyway.”

“Mr. Kang might disagree.”

 

Taehyung scoffed.

“But he pays me to make these decisions for him. Or do you have a problem with that?”

“No problem.”

“Good. Just finish your work and get out of there.”

 

Taehyung didn’t wait for Hoseok to reply before he closed the line.

 

“Is there a problem?”

 

Taehyung turned to look at the tall, curly-haired man, leaning against the doorframe.

“Not a big one. The Park’s son wasn’t there. But I think he doesn’t know anything anyway.”

“He can’t hide forever, either. Was he living with his parents?”

“Yeah, they had some financial problems and he moved back home to help his parents after graduating from university,” Taehyung said, running his slender finger over the edge of the file on the table. The other man walked closer and grabbed the file, sitting at the edge of the desk.

 

“Financial problems, you don’t say,” the man snorted, eyeing the file. Taehyung rolled his eyes.

“He’s very cute though,” the man then grinned, showing Taehyung the picture attached to the file. Taehyung arched his brow.

“Oh, should I tell Yoongi you’re here drooling after our targets, Jungkook?”

“I think Yoonie would only agree with me,” Jungkook said with a smirk.

 

“Remind me why we’re friends again,” Taehyung huffed, taking the file from Jungkook’s hands.

“Because you wouldn’t be able to live without me. And because I keep you sane,” Jungkook said, patting Taehyung’s cheek.

“Right,” Taehyung muttered. Jungkook got up, his smirk turning into a soft smile.

“You could use some sleep, though, Tae. Just saying.”

“Mmh, yeah,” Taehyung muttered, getting up from the chair. “I think I’m gonna take a ride to clear my head and then try sleeping.”

“Okay. And maybe try to eat something, too, while you’re at it.”

“Yes, mom,” Taehyung sighed, rolling his eyes. “You go home to Yoongi, it’s late.”

“He’s still working, too. On an assignment you have given him, remember?”

“Oh, right. Well, call him and tell him to rest sometime, too. That’s also an order.”

“Okay, boss ,” Jungkook snorted. Taehyung punched Jungkook’s arm, huffing in annoyance.

 

Jungkook was right, though. He was the one who kept Taehyung sane. They had known each other since they were kids, because their fathers had worked together. They had spent their childhood at gang bases, seeing the organization grow to what it was now. They had started working alongside their fathers when they were only teenagers.

 

It was the only life both of them knew.

 

*

 

Driving had always helped Taehyung calm down. Especially at night, when the streets were emptier and were enlightened by the cold light of streetlamps. He just listened to the quiet hum of the motor, not sparing a thought to where he was driving. It didn’t matter.

 

Okay, maybe he should’ve thought about it.

 

Taehyung stopped the car, not sure how he had ended up there.

 

There was a house. It was dark, quiet.

 

It didn’t look like a place where a bloodbath had happened just a few hours earlier.

 

Taehyung was rarely present when the jobs took place, anymore. He preferred to distance himself if he had the chance – it was better for business. Better for him.

 

Taehyung shook his head and was about to start the car again, but then he noticed something. A pale flicker of light in one of the downstairs windows. It was faint, but it was there. Taehyung frowned. He knew all his men were gone already, and there clearly weren’t any police around.

 

Taehyung made sure his gun was in his holster before getting out of the car. He knew that the smartest course of action would’ve been to call someone like Jungkook or Yoongi, or maybe Hoseok – and most definitely not go inside the house alone.

 

Taehyung wasn’t known for being reckless. He was the opposite; he checked and double-checked all plans and missions before sending his men anywhere, taking into account all possible variables.

 

In spite of all of that, Taehyung made his way to the house, in the safety of the darkness. There was a fallen flower pot on the porch, soil littering the side of the stairs. The front door was cracked, the handle hanging slightly out of place. Taehyung pushed the door with his elbow. He could hear distant shuffling somewhere in the house.

 

The floor creaked as he entered.

 

The shuffling stopped.

 

Taehyung took a silent breath and stepped further in. There was blood on the floor. It had settled in between the floorboards, a pool of sticky crimson still gleaming in the darkness. There were dragging marks on the floor. Taehyung moved quietly next to the wall, following a trail of blood.

 

A faint light.

 

The corridor opened to the living room.

 

Movement.

 

Taehyung snatched his gun instinctively.

 

“P-please, d-don’t h-hurt me.”

 

The voice was so tiny Taehyung could barely hear.

 

The source of light was a phone on the floor. The flashlight was pointing towards the ceiling, casting freezing light all around the room.

 

There were two bloody bodies on the floor. Both shot to the head, if everything had gone smoothly. There was a bit more blood than should have been, however, which made Taehyung suspect that Hoseok hadn’t told him the entire truth.

 

A man was sitting on the floor between the bodies. He was shivering and holding the hand of the other dead body. He was looking at Taehyung with glassy eyes, his silvery-blond hair disheveled and his clothes bloody.

 

It was Jimin.

 

“P-please,” he whispered with a broken voice.

 

Taehyung knew what he should’ve done. The mission had been to kill the entire Park family. His men were looking for Jimin. He should’ve made it easier for everyone – he was right there . One bullet and it would’ve been done.

 

“Please, d-don’t.” Jimin’s voice was barely audible. He looked at Taehyung with his broken eyes.

 

It felt suffocating. Like all the air was kicked out of Taehyung’s lungs.

 

He had seen those same eyes before. He could sometimes still see them. Those eyes looked back at him in the mirror on the worse days. On the empty days.

 

Taehyung tightened his hold on his gun. He didn’t even realize his hand was shaking.

 

“Why d-did this happen?”

The question wasn’t directed at Taehyung. Jimin’s gaze was wavering.

 

Taehyung bit the inside of his cheek. He remembered. He knew what Jimin was feeling. All those questions floating in the air – and getting answers wouldn’t make any difference.

 

Jimin took a shaky breath, his pleading gaze turning back to Taehyung.

 

Taehyung lowered his gun.

 

“It’s okay,” Taehyung said quietly, tucking the gun back into its holster. “It’s fine, I’m not gonna hurt you.”

 

Jimin sniffled, his eyes lowering back to the bloody, motionless hand he was holding. Taehyung moved closer carefully.

 

“Wh-why,” Jimin breathed, his voice choked. Taehyung crouched next to him. Jimin was obviously in shock, but he was surprisingly lucid, considering.

“It’s okay,” Taehyung whispered.

 

Before he could think Taehyung touched Jimin’s shoulder softly. Jimin flinched a little, but then his being relaxed. He took a shaky breath, tears gradually rolling down his cheeks.

“Why,” Jimin sniffled again, before suddenly crashing straight into Taehyung’s chest, grabbing his shirt with panicky hands. Taehyung barely maintained his balance, completely blanking on what to do. Jimin was sobbing against his chest, his bloodied fingers gripping his shirt and coloring it red.

 

Slowly Taehyung started stroking Jimin’s back, which made him lean into Taehyung harder. Jimin was small, Taehyung noticed. A lot smaller than him. He could’ve enveloped the entire man into his embrace, if he wanted to.

 

Jimin’s breathing started shallowing more and more, his tearing sobs turning superficial.

 

“Hey,” Taehyung said, pulling back and forcing Jimin to straighten up, too. “Breathe.”

“I c-can’t,” Jimin gasped, his body shivering stiffly.

“You can,” Taehyung replied, trying to sound as calm as possible. “Hey, look at me. You can. Breathe. Slowly in, slowly out, okay?”

 

Taehyung took a deep breath, and Jimin tried to follow. His exhale was choked, but the next inhale was better. Taehyung held Jimin’s shoulders, looking straight into his eyes, and just breathing. In and out.

 

“Good,” Taehyung said. “See, you can do it. Just breathe.”

 

Jimin nodded, still shivering. He breathed fragmentarily, but a lot more calmly than before. Taehyung took off his suit jacket, laying it on Jimin’s shoulders. He was already wearing a hoodie, but the shock made him feel cold, Taehyung knew that. Jimin tugged the jacket tighter around him, his eyes flicking to the holster on Taehyung’s belt. Taehyung didn’t have time to say anything, because the ringing of his phone startled them.

 

Taehyung stood up, digging the phone from his pocket. It was Jungkook.

 

“What?” Taehyung asked, trying to keep his voice quiet.

“Gee, sorry for interrupting your lone wolf time,” Jungkook snorted.

“I’m in the middle of something, what is it?” Taehyung asked, his patience already wearing thin.

“Ah, fine. I got a call from Hoseok that someone’s maybe seen the Park son heading back into the direction of the house. Someone’s on their way to check it now.”

“What? Now?”

“Uh, yeah. I just thought you’d like to know.”

“Yeah, thanks. I’ll, uh, talk to you later.”

 

Taehyung ended the call frantically, then crouching back down to Jimin.

 

Reckless.

 

“Listen. I know this sounds crazy and you have no reason to trust me, but if you want to live, you need to leave with me right now,” Taehyung said. Jimin frowned.

“Wh-what?”

“Someone’s coming to kill you. Right now.”

“B-but why? I… what…”

“Hey,” Taehyung said sternly, taking hold of Jimin’s chin, turning his eyes to him. “There’s no time. If you want to live, you need to leave with me. Right now.”

 

Jimin looked like he was full of a million questions, but to Taehyung’s surprise, he got up to his feet. Taehyung grabbed Jimin’s phone from the floor and took the man’s ice-cold hand, leading him towards the door. Jimin followed him with stumbling steps, squeezing Taehyung’s hand tightly.

 

Taehyung peeked out of the front door. It was still quiet, and there were no cars around. Taehyung knew that his men knew how to be stealth, so there was always a chance that whoever was coming would see them. But that was a chance he would just have to take.

 

Taehyung took a breath and tugged Jimin with him. Swiftly they strode down the porch steps and through the yard. Taehyung gestured for Jimin to climb to the passenger seat, before settling into the car himself.

 

“Buckle your seatbelt,” Taehyung said as he turned on the ignition. There was still no movement at the house. Everything was almost eerily still.

 

Jimin put on his seatbelt, not saying anything. He was still shivering and holding on to Taehyung’s jacket. There was blood on his face.

 

Taehyung tried to concentrate on driving. He pressed his lips together into a tight line, trying to ground himself by gripping the steering wheel.

 

What the hell was he doing?

 

“W-who are you?”

 

Taehyung startled. He hadn’t expected for Jimin to talk. Jimin had turned to look at him, his eyebrows furrowed. He wasn’t crying anymore. He looked numb.

 

“Why are you helping me?”

 

Taehyung sighed. A good question.

 

“I’m Taehyung,” he replied, keeping his eyes on the road. “I’m – I’m helping you because I don’t think you deserve to die.”

 

Taehyung had no idea where the words came from. Many of their targets didn’t deserve to die. Many were only casualties of a circumstance, and that’s how it had always been. It had never bothered Taehyung.

 

Jimin’s situation wasn’t much different than many others before him, who had lost their lives along with their families.

 

So why was Jimin special?

 

“My parents didn’t deserve to die either,” Jimin said, his voice distant and cold. “A-and you still didn’t answer me. Who are you?”

 

Taehyung sighed again.

“I’m someone who knows what you’re feeling right now. And I want to help.”

“I d-don’t need your fucking pity,” Jimin huffed. “Do you know why my parents are dead?”

 

“No.”

 

Taehyung ignored the burn inside his chest. It was useless to feel guilty. Guilt didn’t help anyone.

 

“Why the fuck where you there then? Can you stop being so fucking cryptic? Are you a cop?” Jimin snapped, his anger coursing from him in waves.

“No,” Taehyung replied, snorting. “Definitely not a cop.”

 

Taehyung stopped at a red, glancing at Jimin. His eyes were blazing, but his hands were shaking and his whole body was tense.

 

“I work for an organization,” Taehyung said. “I was at the house by coincidence. But I know that there are people after you. So that’s why I helped you.”

“Organization? Like a criminal organization?”

“I guess that depends on interpretation,” Taehyung hummed. Jimin rolled his eyes.

“So you know who I am?”

“I do.” It was of no use to lie about that.

 

“Where are you taking me?” Jimin asked. Taehyung took a breath.

“I’m taking you to my place.”

 

Jimin raised his eyebrows, surprised.

“Y-your place? As in your home? Why? Aren’t there like… places, like safe houses or something that you guys use?”

“You’ve watched too many crime dramas,” Taehyung said. “But yes, there are. They’re just not an option right now.”

 

Jimin frowned but didn’t ask anything more. Taehyung clenched his teeth. This was completely insane. He was taking a target to his home, a target he should’ve killed immediately when he found him. A target no one knew he had found.

 

And he didn’t have a plan.

 

Taehyung never worked without a plan. He was always in control, and he always knew what he was doing. His plans didn’t have any room for error. He didn’t do things in an impulse. It was dangerous and would get you killed.

 

That’s what his father had taught him.

 

Taehyung drove the car to a parking garage, parking it to his spot. He turned off the ignition but didn’t let go of the steering wheel.

 

“You didn’t plan for this, did you?”

 

Taehyung turned to look at Jimin, a bit surprised. Okay, Jimin clearly wasn’t stupid.

 

“I mean, it doesn’t sound very smart to me to take someone like me to your home. Especially if there’s a target on my back. So, I’m guessing you’re improvising.”

“Wow, your deduction skills astonish me,” Taehyung huffed.

“I just don’t understand why,” Jimin said quietly.

“Do you want me to just dump your ass to the streets? ‘Cause I can do that, too,” Taehyung scoffed, his patience about to snap. His body felt hot from anxiety. He had never done anything this thoughtless.

 

“Sorry,” Jimin whispered.

 

Taehyung took a deep breath, his gaze softening.

“Let’s just go in, okay? You can take a shower and change your clothes. How does that sound?”

 

Jimin looked back at Taehyung hesitantly. Then he nodded.

 

They got out of the car and Jimin followed Taehyung to the elevators. It really paid to be in the lead, since all the surveillance footage from the parking garage went straight to Taehyung, which meant that no one could find out that Jimin was at his place, at least from that.

 

Taehyung entered the security code to the number pad inside the elevator. Jimin pulled himself to the corner of the elevator car, still holding on to Taehyung’s jacket. Taehyung ran his fingers through his hair, glimpsing at his phone. He’d turned it silent before leaving the house and had a text from Jungkook.

 

Jungkook: ‘The house was a bust. But it looked like someone’s been there.’

 

Taehyung tapped a reply to Jungkook.

 

Taehyung: ‘Okay. Just leave it for tonight. He’ll resurface. Go to sleep.’

Jungkook: ‘You’re not sleeping either.’

Taehyung: ‘I am. Tell Yoongi to sleep, too.’

Jungkook: ‘I will. After he gives me some loving. ;)’

Taehyung: ‘Gross.’

 

The elevator doors opened, and Taehyung stepped out still looking at his phone, expecting for Jimin to follow. Taehyung lived in the penthouse apartment, so he didn’t have to worry about bumping into neighbors. He pocketed his phone, entering another security code at the door of his apartment and opened the door, gesturing for Jimin to go in. The man stepped in hesitantly.

 

“This… This is a very nice building,” Jimin said quietly.

“Oh. Yeah, it’s fine,” Taehyung muttered, kicking off his shoes and walking further in, distracted by his thoughts. Jimin didn’t move.

“I’ve… I’ve never even been close to a place like this. Let alone inside,” Jimin breathed. He looked like he didn’t dare to step on the floor, lest it get dirty.

 

Taehyung turned back to Jimin. The blonde stood close to the door, in his bloody clothes, holding onto Taehyung’s jacket like a safety blanket. His eyes were glazed over, and he looked around, almost scared.

 

Taehyung felt something inside him crack.

 

“Do you want to take a shower?” Taehyung asked softly, with a tone he usually used only with his closest friends – and rarely with them either.

 

It took a while for Jimin to answer his gaze.

 

“A-are you sure you want me here? I don’t… you don’t owe me anything. I don’t want to be a problem,” Jimin mumbled.

 

Jimin didn’t know how much Taehyung owed him. Taehyung owed him things he could never give back.

 

“You’re not a problem. I want to help you,” Taehyung said, taking a step closer. “And you were right, I don’t have a plan. But maybe we don’t need any other plan for now than to get you cleaned up. And maybe sleep? I have a guest bedroom, where you can stay. And then we can think about what to do next.”

 

Jimin’s expression was doubtful, and Taehyung couldn’t blame him. All of this was irrational. They didn’t know each other and Jimin had no reason to trust him or to believe him. But still he did. At least somewhat.

 

“Okay,” Jimin sighed. He loosened his grip on Taehyung’s jacket, letting it fall off his shoulders. “I-I’m sorry, I think this is ruined.”

 

“It’s fine, I have like a million of them,” Taehyung replied indifferently. Jimin looked at the jacket that he was holding in his hands. A designer jacket that probably cost more than all his clothes combined.

 

“You can use the bathroom at the end of the hall. I can get you some clothes to change into. You can use any of the products in there,” Taehyung said. Jimin nodded, but still didn’t move.

 

Jimin looked like he was trying to keep the last scraps of himself together.

 

Taehyung understood – and at the same time he didn’t.

 

Jimin’s entire life had just been turned upside down. Taehyung had also had to endure similar pain that Jimin was going through, but Taehyung’s life had always been unstable. Dangerous. Full of death. Taehyung knew too well how fleeting everything was.

 

Taehyung didn’t know Jimin, but he assumed that his life had been normal until now. Normal in a sense that he had gone to school, and to work, and spent time with his parents and friends, maybe dreamed of something bigger?

 

And now…

 

“Hey,” Taehyung said, his voice gentle. Carefully he stepped closer to Jimin. He wasn’t used to doing this. He didn’t console people. He hardly ever had the instinct to do that. If someone was feeling bad it was Jungkook to the rescue. Not him.

 

“I won’t say it gets better because I know it hurts like hell. But for now, just try to concentrate on one thing at a time. Really concentrate. Then the pain won’t consume you entirely.”

 

Jimin took a shaky breath.

“Yeah,” he whispered, looking back at Taehyung. Then he reached out, brushing Taehyung’s fingers with his so faintly Taehyung hardly felt it.

“Thank you.”

 

For that fraction of a second, Taehyung didn’t breathe.

 

Taehyung brought Jimin some clothes, and without saying a word Jimin walked to the bathroom and closed the door behind him.

 

When the lock snapped shut Taehyung let himself fall apart, even if it was just a little. He dragged himself to his bedroom, sitting on his bed. He tugged his tie off, dropping it to the floor. He dragged his fingers through his hair, trying to breathe.

 

What the fuck was he going to do? Like life wasn’t difficult enough already without him bringing problems into his own home.

 

It was starting to hit him how reckless he actually had been.

 

If anyone, anyone , had seen them, not only would he, himself, be in trouble, but all his men, too. Their loyalty would be questioned, and loyalty was something that was worth the most in the underworld.

 

This world was full of deceit, and that’s why loyal people were worth everything.

 

It didn’t matter that Taehyung held such a high position – he still had to answer to someone. And that someone made his skin crawl.

 

Mr. Kang. The big boss. The one who pulled all the strings, making them all dance around like puppets.

 

And, also, the man who was responsible for the death of Taehyung’s father.

 

Taehyung forced himself to take a laborious breath, and then he got up again. He unbuckled his holster and dropped it to the bed with the gun, then taking off his bloody clothes. He changed into more comfortable clothes, then picking up the bloody ones. Taehyung stuffed them into a trash bag, kicking it at the back of his closet. He didn’t have the energy to deal with them right now.

 

Taehyung heard the shower turn off when he stepped out of his bedroom. He wondered what was going through Jimin’s head right now.

 

Was he panicking, sad, numb? Probably all of that.

 

Taehyung leaned against his kitchen island, turning his gaze to the bathroom door when it opened.

 

He felt a bit breathless again.

 

Jimin walked out carrying his bloody clothes. His skin looked a bit flushed from the shower and his silvery-blond strands of hair were drying into fluffy waves. His eyes were sad and not really there.

 

“I can take care of the clothes,” Taehyung offered. Jimin looked at him like he’d just realized that he was there. Then he nodded, giving the clothes to Taehyung when he reached to take them.

 

“I left your phone on the nightstand. But I’d suggest not trying to contact anyone, it could risk your location being compromised,” Taehyung said.

“Okay,” Jimin replied, not looking at him.

 

“Try to get some sleep. It will…” Taehyung almost said it would be better tomorrow. It wouldn’t be.

“We’ll figure something out tomorrow, okay?”

 

Jimin only hummed in response. He took a few steps towards the guest bedroom but then turned to quickly glimpse at Taehyung.

 

“Thank you,” Jimin whispered.

 

Taehyung tried to smile.

 

*

 

Taehyung didn’t even try to sleep. He sat on his bed, listening to the silence. The city lights made shapes on the walls with glittering neon. Taehyung hummed to himself, picking up his gun from the bed.

 

He might have made the biggest mistake of his life by taking Jimin in. There was no reason for Taehyung to help him. It wasn’t Taehyung’s fault that Jimin’s parents had gotten in way over their heads. In this world you had to pay for that. And there could be no witnesses.

 

Taehyung got up to his feet. With silent steps he made his way out of his bedroom. It was dark in the hallway, but Taehyung knew how to move in his own apartment. He stopped at the guest bedroom’s door, listening. It was quiet.

 

The door wasn’t entirely closed, so Taehyung cracked it some more. Now he could hear Jimin’s stable breathing. He sounded like he was asleep.

 

Taehyung slid into the room, gripping his gun. It wasn’t ideal to kill Jimin in his house, but at least this was something he could explain somehow.

 

The curtains were open, letting light on Jimin’s face.

 

Taehyung clicked the safety catch on his gun, pointing it towards Jimin.

 

Jimin looked peaceful. He was breathing calmly, and his features were relaxed. His eyebrows weren’t on a worried frown, and his jaw wasn’t tight like before.

 

In dreams you could forget, at least for a while.

 

Taehyung took a breath, his index finger lightly pressing against the trigger.

 

Jimin had curled into a tight ball, the covers falling off of him. Taehyung’s clothes looked way too big for him. Jimin was squeezing his own arm.

 

Innocent.

 

Taehyung shook his head. His hand was trembling.

 

Get a grip.

 

Taehyung glanced at the nightstand. Jimin’s phone was there, like Taehyung had left it, untouched. Jimin had believed him, not trying to contact anyone.

 

Taehyung forced his eyes back on Jimin, trying to will his hand to stabilize. Then he noticed something.

 

His jacket. The bloody jacket that he had given for Jimin to wear. It was under Jimin’s pillow, peeking below his shoulder.

 

Jimin was sleeping with his jacket.

 

He lowered the gun, his hands shaking even more.

 

Shit.

 

Jimin’s brows furrowed a little, like he was dreaming. His grip on his own arm tightened. His skin looked soft, the light from outside coloring it golden. Taehyung wanted to run his fingers over his forehead, to smooth down the frown.

 

Make him at peace again. Because soon it would hurt once more.

 

Jimin didn’t deserve all the pain and hurt. He didn’t deserve to have his heart shattered to pieces like that. He didn’t deserve to die.

 

Taehyung wanted to see a smile on that face. He knew it would’ve made Jimin even prettier.

 

Now it was Taehyung’s turn to frown. He tried to shake off the thoughts, quietly slipping back to the hallway. He could feel his heart beating in his ears.

 

What the hell was wrong with him?

 

Taehyung clicked the safety of his gun back on, sighing.

 

He was a mess. The entire situation was a mess, and Taehyung had no idea how to even start untangling it.

 

But one thing was certain.

 

The situation would not end with Jimin dying. Taehyung would make sure of that.

 

*

 

Taehyung was making coffee in the morning when Jimin appeared from the guest bedroom. He was rubbing his eyes, looking adorable with his messy hair and overly large t-shirt.

 

“Did you sleep well?” Taehyung asked, turning towards the man. Jimin shrugged.

“I guess. I’m surprised I fell asleep at all.”

“You probably were so exhausted that your brain just turned off.”

“Probably.”

 

Jimin stopped behind the kitchen island, fiddling with the hem of his shirt.

 

“What’s on your mind?” Taehyung inquired, even though he didn’t expect Jimin to unload all of his thoughts to him.

 

“I… I don’t even know where to begin. With thinking,” Jimin sighed.

“Yeah, I get it. It’s… a lot.”

 

“I just… I don’t understand it. Any of it. What happened and why it happened. They were just… normal people,” Jimin said, choking at the end of his words.

 

Taehyung felt it again. The weird compulsion to protect.

 

Taehyung moved to the other side of the island, softly touching Jimin’s arm. It felt like an instinct. Like that was what he was supposed to do.

 

“I have no idea what I’m supposed to do now,” Jimin whispered, finally looking into Taehyung’s eyes.

 

Taehyung almost wished he hadn’t.

 

It was like looking straight into Jimin’s soul. And it was in pain. It felt like Taehyung’s insides were withering.

 

“I’ll… I’ll help. We’ll figure something out,” Taehyung rasped.

“But why?”

“What?” Taehyung asked, frowning.

“Why are you helping me? I don’t understand… You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, you have no reason to help and I’ll probably just bring problems to you if some people are actually trying to kill me.”

 

Taehyung took a deep breath. There was suspicion in Jimin’ eyes. Questions.

 

“I don’t know why I’m helping you,” Taehyung said honestly. “I just feel… There’s just something that makes me want to do it. Like a feeling. A connection. Something. I have no idea.”

“Oh.”

 

There was a hint of a flush on Jimin’s cheeks. Taehyung felt something warm in his stomach.

 

“I don’t want to make you feel weird. I just think that you don’t deserve all of this shit that’s happening to you. You’re… innocent.”

 

Innocent.

 

“And you’re right. We don’t know each other. But we can try to change that,” Taehyung continued, then extending his hand. “Hi. I’m Taehyung.”

 

Jimin looked at Taehyung’s hand for a moment, before taking it. Jimin’s hand was cold, but not as icy as the day before.

 

“I’m Jimin.”

 

Taehyung smiled a little.

“Nice to meet you. Do you want some coffee?”

“Uh, sure.”

 

Taehyung let go of Jimin’s hand, even though he kind of felt like he didn’t want to. He poured some coffee into cups, sliding the other over the kitchen island to Jimin.

“Milk, sugar?”

 

Jimin shook his head no. He wrapped his hands on the sides of the cup, like he was warming them.

 

“Are you cold?” Taehyung asked.

“Oh. I’m… I’m fine, it’s no big deal.”

 

Taehyung rolled his eyes. He put his coffee cup down and strode to his bedroom, grabbing the first sweater he found from the closet.

 

“Here, wear this,” Taehyung said, shoving the sweater into Jimin’s hands.

“No, really, you don’t have to,” Jimin tried to resist. “Your clothes are so expensive, I’ll just ruin them.”

 

Taehyung snorted, picking up his coffee cup again. He climbed to sit on the counter, tipping his head.

“Just wear the sweater. You won’t ruin it. And it’ll look better on you than on me anyway,” Taehyung said, his tone way too indifferent for his words. Now Jimin looked like he really blushed. He pulled the sweater over his head, letting the sleeves hang over his fingers.

“Thank you,” Jimin muttered, focusing his gaze on his coffee cup.

 

Taehyung took a sip, quietly observing Jimin. He was hunched and kept his eyes down, clear signs of fear and apprehension. However, Taehyung had seen moments of strength in Jimin – he didn’t believe the man was a timid person. The situation would’ve made anyone scared.

 

“Umm, I don’t want to pry, but… you said you work for an organization. What do you like… do?”

 

Taehyung’s chest jolted uncomfortably.

 

I keep track of people. People who owe us, people who are our enemies. I make sure they pay. In one way or another.

 

“It’s quite complicated,” Taehyung mumbled. “I lead a team. We… uh, keep an eye on people.”

“You lead?” Jimin asked, his eyes widening.

“Well, I do have a boss who I answer to, but yes. I have a group of people who work for me.”

“Wow.”

 

Taehyung arched his brow.

“You’re awfully calm about the fact that I just basically told you I’m a gang boss.”

 

Jimin shrugged.

“My life is a mess. Nothing is like it used to be. And you’ve looked after me. You’re… nice. I don’t care what you do.”

 

You would if you really knew.

 

Taehyung opened his mouth to say something, but then he looked down. He bit his lip. Jimin sounded like he almost trusted him. He shouldn’t have. You should trust no one, that’s what his father had taught Taehyung. People are roaches, just after what makes them tick. Money, sex, power. Whatever gets them ahead.

 

Jimin sipped his coffee, and Taehyung’s eyes followed the movement.

“I don’t think anyone’s ever called me nice before,” Taehyung said, letting out a quiet chuckle. Jimin looked back at him.

“Maybe you just haven’t let them see that side of you,” Jimin replied. And then.

 

A smile. 

 

Albeit a very small one, but it was something that made Taehyung suddenly feel like he was looking straight into the sun.

 

What the fuck?

 

He should get a grip, otherwise they would both end up dead.

 

Taehyung jumped down from the counter, setting his coffee cup on the marble.

“I can get you some clothes if you want to change?”

“Are you gonna get me more Gucci?” Jimin asked. Taehyung couldn’t help the grin that snuck to his face.

“Hm, maybe Alexander McQueen this time.”

 

Jimin smiled again with a little sparkle in his eye. Taehyung had to force his legs to move.

 

*

 

Taehyung had also changed after giving Jimin some clothes. He tried to get back into the headspace of the boss he was supposed to be – it would be most helpful with figuring out what to do with Jimin.

 

He could help Jimin disappear, but it would require extensive preparation, and he couldn’t do it alone. Taehyung knew he could ask Jungkook to help, but he didn’t want to endanger him. If Kang, or anyone, would find out about the situation, it wouldn’t end well for them.

 

And then there was the fact this Jimin was not from this world. He wasn’t used to its customs. What would he be ready to do? Taehyung couldn’t just send Jimin into the world like this. Alone, with fresh trauma and people after him.

 

At least Jimin was safe with him, for now at least.

 

Suddenly Taehyung heard his front door’s lock beep. Instinctively he grabbed the handle of his gun, that was strapped to his belt as usual.

 

“Taehyungieee!”

 

Taehyung sighed, exasperated.

 

“You almost gave me a fucking heart attack,” Taehyung snarled at Jungkook, who appeared into the living room, dragging a shorter, dark-haired man with cat-like features with him. Jungkook’s eyes darted to Taehyung’s hand, that was still gripping the gun.

 

“Gee, tense much?” Jungkook snorted. “Did you not sleep again?”

“This is not a very good moment,” Taehyung said, clenching his teeth. A small clanking sound could be heard from somewhere in the corridor. Jungkook’s brows furrowed, trying to locate the source of the sound.

 

“Oh,” Jungkook breathed, a Cheshire Cat-like grin spreading to his face. “ Oh. Did Tae-Tae have a nightly guest?”

“Kook, I don’t think it’s our business, you know,” Yoongi pointed out.

“Of course, it is. Taehyung never gets laid. This is a cause of celebration!”

 

Taehyung tried to contain his nerves.

“Nothing like that happened. But it would be best if you left now.”

“You’re no fun,” Jungkook pouted.

 

Taehyung opened his mouth to retort but didn’t have time – he saw Jungkook turning to look towards the hallway, his eyes widening in surprise. Taehyung turned, too.

 

It was as if time stopped for a few seconds. Jimin was standing at the living room doorway, eyeing Jungkook and Yoongi with apprehension and dread. Jungkook’s eyes narrowed. Taehyung could sense what was going to happen, but he didn’t react quick enough.

 

Jungkook moved fast, taking steps closer and drawing his gun. All the color evaporated from Jimin’s face, and he retreated, bumping into a wall.

 

“Why the fuck are you here?” Jungkook demanded, pointing his gun at Jimin. Jimin shivered, trying to grab onto the wall.

 

“Put the fucking gun down,” Taehyung snarled, stepping between Jungkook and Jimin, pushing Jungkook’s chest. Jungkook’s eyes flicked frantically between Taehyung and Jimin, and his grip on the weapon tightened.

Put it down ,” Taehyung said, his tone so scary that even Yoongi startled a little.

 

Jungkook gritted his teeth. He threw a last glance at Jimin, and then lowered the gun slowly. 

 

“Don’t ever do that again,” Taehyung snapped, his eyes blazing, shoving Jungkook further back again.

“Hey,” Yoongi hissed, moving next to Jungkook and looking at Taehyung poisonously. Jungkook fumbled Yoongi’s hand into his, giving it a reassuring squeeze. He followed with his eyes as Taehyung turned his back to them and hurried to Jimin.

 

“Hey, it’s okay, it’s fine,” Taehyung tried to soothe him. Jimin was still shaking, with the same glazed look in his eyes than the day before.

“Jimin,” Taehyung said, cupping Jimin’s cheeks and turning his head to face him.

“Everything’s fine. I’m here. It was just a misunderstanding. They’re not going to hurt you.”

 

Jimin tried to breathe, but it sounded choked. Tears started to roll down over Taehyung’s fingers. Jimin gripped Taehyung’s shirt again, digging into the fabric for purchase.

“Breathe. Remember, like we did yesterday? In and out,” Taehyung whispered. Jimin nodded, his inhale sounding like he was suffocating.

“Deep into the lungs,” Taehyung continued with a calm tone. Jimin closed his eyes and took another deep, trembling breath.

“Good,” Taehyung said. “That’s good.”

 

Taehyung could feel Jungkook’s and Yoongi’s gazes burning in his back. He knew he had so much explaining to do, but right now his first priority was Jimin.

 

“Yeah, okay,” Jimin gasped quietly. “I’m okay.”

 

Jimin was still holding on to Taehyung’s shirt. Taehyung moved his hands from Jimin’s face to his hands. Jimin loosened his grip slowly. His hands were freezing cold again.

 

“Taehyung,” Jungkook said after staring at Jimin and Taehyung long enough. Taehyung sighed, turning to Jungkook. Jimin stayed beside him, not looking straight at Jungkook.

 

“What the fuck is going on?”

 

Taehyung turned back to Jimin again.

“Will you be fine with Yoongi a little while? He’s not as scary as he looks,” Taehyung asked. Jimin glanced at Yoongi.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” Jimin replied, sounding unsure.

“I’ll be back soon. I need to talk to Kook. And whoop his ass.”

 

Jungkook rolled his eyes at Taehyung. Hesitantly Jimin moved away from Taehyung, staying far from Jungkook. Taehyung gestured for Jungkook to follow him to his office.

 

“What the fuck, Taehyung?”

 

Taehyung closed the door behind them, taking a second to breathe before turning to Jungkook.

 

“Why is Park Jimin here?”

 

Taehyung rubbed his temples, the lack of sleep starting to catch up to him.

 

“I drove to the Park house yesterday. I found him there. Sitting in the pool of blood between his dead parents.”

 

Jungkook’s expression faltered.

 

“Tae… He’s supposed to be dead. You gave the mission. You sent the men to kill them.”

“Don’t you think I fucking know that?” Taehyung scoffed.

 

Jungkook took a step closer.

 

“I know why… I know why it must’ve been difficult for you to see him like that. Believe me, I know . I was there when they dragged you away from your father’s body. But this is not any different to many of the hits before. Why’d you go there? Why… why him?”

 

“I don’t fucking know! I just went there, and I couldn’t… He doesn’t deserve to die.”

“Many others don’t deserve to die either and they’re dead. That’s how it goes,” Jungkook reminded Taehyung. “And it has never been a problem to you before.”

“It’s not…”

“You realize how fucking risky this is? Is it ‘cause he’s so pretty and he agreed to come with you? Did he suck your cock nicely?”

“Fuck off, Jungkook. You don’t know shit,” Taehyung snarled, anger flashing in his eyes.

“You’re putting your life in danger, Taehyung! You’re risking everything. And for what?”

“I’m still your fucking boss. Why do you feel entitled to question my decisions?” Taehyung asked tightly.

“Oh, you’re gonna throw the boss card on me?” Jungkook huffed. “I take it that he doesn’t know that you put the hit on his family? How do you think he’d feel if I told him?”

 

Taehyung saw red. He grabbed Jungkook by the collar and shoved him against his desk, stuff rattling to the floor.

“Don’t you fucking dare,” Taehyung hissed.

“This is what I mean! What the fuck has gotten into you? It’s like you’re a different person! He’s just some random guy, what’s he got on you?”

 

Taehyung breathed hard, staring down Jungkook. Jungkook looked back coldly.

 

Slowly Taehyung let go and stepped back, slouching down to a chair. His head was pounding.

 

“You know what’s even worse than you just wanting to fuck him?” Jungkook asked rhetorically, leaning against the desk and straightening his shirt. “If you feel something towards him. Anything. Even if it’s just pity or whatever else. It means that you have a weakness, and people won’t be afraid to use it against you. Not to mention if Kang finds out. Well, you know what’s gonna happen then.”

 

Taehyung didn’t reply. Jungkook was right. Of course he was right. But…

 

“I’m not gonna kill him,” Taehyung said.

 

Silence. Taehyung could hear Jungkook sigh. Then he heard him walk closer and crouch down in front of him. Jungkook touched his chin, trying to get him to meet his eyes.

 

“What’re you gonna do then?”

 

Taehyung breathed shallowly.

“I’m going to protect him.”

 

“Okay,” Jungkook said. Now Taehyung turned to look at him, confused.

“What?”

“I said okay. What, do you want me to fight you some more?”

“No, I just thought…”

 

Jungkook straightened up to his feet, pulling Taehyung with him.

“I just wanted to make sure you’re sure. And if that’s what you want, I’ll help you. That doesn’t mean I agree or think this is any less crazy, but I’ll help.”

 

“You…” Taehyung muttered, huffing. “I fucking hate you, you brat.”

“I love you too,” Jungkook said, smiling angelically. “So, do you have any plan on how you’re gonna do this?”

“No,” Taehyung sighed, his shoulders slouching. “I’m just gonna keep him here for now, until I come up with something.”

“Hm, a nice feast for the eyes. Sounds like a good deal,” Jungkook grinned.

“You’re gross.”

“Do you think he’ll agree being caged here?” Jungkook asked.

“I have no idea. I need to talk to him. I mean, I was going to, but then you came.”

“Well, should we go check on if he’s killed Yoongi?” Jungkook suggested.

“Not the other way around?” Taehyung asked. Jungkook snorted.

“You’re funny, Tae-Tae.”

 

Taehyung rolled his eyes, opening the door. He led them back to the living room. Jimin and Yoongi were sitting on the couch. Jimin was fiddling with the hem of his shirt but didn’t look as stiff as when Taehyung had left him. He quickly got up to his feet, when he saw them return, his eyes darting to Jungkook.

 

“Oh yeah, Kook has something to say to you,” Taehyung said, pushing Jungkook a step closer to Jimin. Jungkook sighed dramatically.

“Fine. I’m sorry I pulled my gun on you. I’m suspicious of new people, you know. And you were too pretty to be here with Tae, I had a good reason for my suspicions.”

 

Taehyung wanted to facepalm.

 

Jimin’s eyes widened a bit, and then he blushed a little.

“Uh. It’s… it’s okay, I guess.”

 

“But we’re at your service now,” Jungkook said, collapsing down to the sofa, next to Yoongi. Jimin moved further, instinctively gravitating towards Taehyung.

“Me and Yoonie. Safeguard duty and stuff.”

“We are?” Yoongi asked, arching his brow.

“Well, I don’t know. We’ll see what the big boss comes up with,” Jungkook smirked at Taehyung.

 

“Maybe you can start with getting the fuck out of here,” Taehyung said.

“But we just got here,” Jungkook whined.

“Don’t you have work to do?” Taehyung noted.

“We do,” Yoongi said, getting up and pulling Jungkook with him.

“Why do you all have to be so boring,” Jungkook muttered, attaching himself to Yoongi. “At least we get to work together today.”

“Try to actually do work and not just fuck all day,” Taehyung sighed.

“I’ll make no promises,” Jungkook grinned, nipping Yoongi’s earlobe. Yoongi rolled his eyes, pulling Jungkook with him to the door.

“Bye Jimin, it was nice to meet you!” Jungkook hollered before they closed the door behind them.

 

They were left in silence. Taehyung hadn’t even realized how quiet it was without Jungkook and Yoongi there.

 

Jimin was looking at the floor, again fumbling the hem of his sweater.

 

“I’m sorry about Jungkook,” Taehyung breathed. Jimin lifted up his gaze to him. “He’s a bit…”

“Protective?” Jimin suggested.

“I was gonna say hot-headed and thoughtless, but that works, too,” Taehyung replied, chuckling a little.

 

“So, they both work for you?” Jimin asked.

“Unfortunately, yes,” Taehyung sighed, moving to the couch to sit down. Jimin followed a bit apprehensively. His eyes were still slightly red from crying before.

“They’re together?” Jimin asked then. Taehyung was surprised by the question – it was not one he would’ve asked. Or been very interested in, either.

“Yes. For a few years now.”

 

Jimin nodded, smiling a little. Jimin’s smile was still one of the most beautiful things Taehyung had ever seen.

 

Jungkook’s words rang in his head. Feelings, whatever they are . He shouldn’t have them. And he didn’t. He just wanted to protect Jimin.

 

“So, what kind of people do you usually have here if I’m too pretty to be here?” Jimin asked, a mischievous glint in his eyes. Taehyung almost choked on his own spit. What?

“Umm,” Taehyung muttered, and it felt like he was blushing . “Not any kind usually. I don’t really have time for… you know, anything.”

“Your job keeps you busy?”

“Extremely. This life keeps me busy.”

 

Jimin’s smile turned a bit sad.

“Sounds difficult.”

“It’s what I’m used to. It’s fine,” Taehyung said.

“Have you always… lived this kind of life?”

“Yeah. My dad was, uh…”

 

Mentioning his father got Taehyung to quieten down. He realized he was telling very personal things about himself to a complete stranger. A person who he didn’t know. A person who could’ve been anything, could’ve done anything with the information he was giving him, just like that.

 

Taehyung didn’t believe for Jimin to be a master at manipulating, but, somehow, he had gotten Taehyung to talk. He never talked to anyone about these things.

 

Trust no one.

 

“Uh, I think we should talk about what we’re going to do,” Taehyung said. Jimin expression turned into slight confusion, and then he looked down again, closing up.

“Yeah.”

 

“I mean, I don’t have much of a plan yet,” Taehyung continued talking, looking everywhere else but at Jimin. “But for now it would be good for you to stay here. With me. It’s safe here. If that’s okay with you.”

“Really? You… you want me to stay here?” Jimin asked, confused again.

“Yes,” Taehyung replied immediately, then realizing he had sounded way too eager. “I mean, it’s safest for you to be here. I wouldn’t want to risk moving you. And I would need help for that, and I don’t trust people not to talk.”

 

Jimin sighed deeply.

“You’re doing way too much for me,” Jimin mumbled. “I just… I don’t get it.”

 

Jimin was right to have suspicions. He was in a completely foreign situation for the first time in his life, with nothing familiar around him. He was scared. Taehyung knew he would have to let Jimin in slightly, so that he would start believing him. Just a little.

 

“Listen,” Taehyung said, easing closer to Jimin on the sofa. Not too close, but as close that Jimin could’ve touched him if he reached out.

“I know what you’re going through. I mean, in a way it must’ve been easier for me since I’ve spent my whole life surrounded by death. But I know what it feels like to find someone you care about, someone you respect… dead. Killed.”

 

Taehyung rarely let himself remember. When he did, the memories started flooding in, starting to sink him slowly, until he couldn’t get back to the surface anymore.

 

“Your father?”

 

Taehyung looked at Jimin. The suspicion in his eyes had turned into warmth. Into sadness. Into empathy.

 

Why was Jimin feeling empathy towards him? He didn’t deserve it.

 

Taehyung nodded, his gaze turning down again. The empathy stirred the discomfort inside him.

 

Taehyung rarely felt guilty. He didn’t have the luxury to feel guilty, not in this profession.

 

People are the poison of this world, how are they ever going to learn if we don’t set an example?

 

He’d needed to learn how to be strong, like his father.

 

Strength hadn’t helped his father, in the end. He’d ended up an example, too.

 

“Taehyung?”

 

He was sinking again.

 

“Taehyung?”

 

Jimin touched his hands. Taehyung startled. Jimin looked at him, concerned.

 

“There you are,” Jimin whispered. His hands were still on Taehyung’s hands.

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung muttered, trying to ground himself. In and out.

“It’s okay. You don’t have to apologize,” Jimin said. “And you don’t have to talk about it. I understand.”

 

Jimin’s hands felt warm. They were warm.

 

“And, uh… I’ll stay here. Until you come up with something. If you feel that’s the best course of action.”

 

“Okay. Uh. Good,” Taehyung rasped, gathering his thoughts. He glanced down at their hands. Jimin noticed, pulling his hands away. Taehyung wished he would’ve kept holding.

 

“So, there’s just a few things,” Taehyung said, forcing himself to focus. “We need to do something about all the people that might miss you, like… a partner, or relatives or friends or something. The police are probably already looking for you, and it’s not good to draw their attention towards you any more than necessary.”

“The police are looking for me?”

“Well… Your parents are dead and you’re gone. Either they think you’re missing, killed, or…”

“They think I killed them.”

 

Hurt flashed in Jimin’s eyes. The guilt scorched Taehyung again.

 

“They’ll quickly rule it as gang violence because of the M.O. So, don’t worry.”

 

Jimin nodded, still looking uneasy.

 

“So, are there… people?” Taehyung asked. Jimin glimpsed at him.

“Umm… not really.”

 

Taehyung raised his eyebrows, questioning. Jimin sighed, his fingers gripping his knees anxiously.

 

“I don’t have a partner or any relatives that I know of that would care. Or… any friends really, either. My co-workers may wonder, but I don’t think they’ll be too puzzled either.”

 

Taehyung frowned. Jimin didn’t have any people in his life that would care that he’s missing? Not a single one?

 

Taehyung couldn’t fathom it.

 

Jimin clearly sensed Taehyung’s confusion.

 

“I went to a university in a different city and didn’t make any close friends there that I would keep in contact anymore. And after I moved back with my parents, I haven’t had time for any… relationships or anything, really. I’ve just worked and helped them. I know it’s sad.”

“No, it’s not, I just… You’re… you’re so… It’s just confusing,” Taehyung stuttered.

“I’m…?” Jimin inquired, arching his brow. Taehyung held his breath.

“You’re… sweet. Smart. Easy to be around. Selfless. I’d just imagine that everyone would want to… you know, know you.”

 

Jimin’s cheeks pinkened lightly.

“Well… umm, as I said, I haven’t had much time for anything. Anyone. So, yeah.”

 

“Uh, well. I guess that’s good. Considering the situation,” Taehyung said. “Not that there really is anything good in this.”

“It could be worse,” Jimin noted, easing his grip on his knees. “I mean, someone else could have found me at the house and killed me right there. But it was you who found me. I’m… I’m happy about that.”

 

Taehyung looked at Jimin, his feelings scattered. Jimin’s cheeks were still a bit flushed and he smiled a little. A foreign sensation swooped in Taehyung’s stomach. He felt strangely warm. Tingly.

 

“I’ll… I’ll deal with your co-workers,” Taehyung muttered, having difficulties looking at Jimin straight in the eye. “And I think it would be best to get you a new phone so that no one can trace it.”

“Okay,” Jimin replied quietly.

“And uh… I don’t know how long you’ll have to stay, but it could be a while, so we need to get you some clothes. Mine seem to be a bit big for you,” Taehyung continued, managing to grin a little. Jimin glanced at the sweater he was wearing, pulling the sleeves completely over his hands.

“I like oversize,” Jimin said. Taehyung smiled quietly.

“But can I use my bank account? I mean, it could also be traced, right?” Jimin asked.

“You’re learning,” Taehyung said, grinning slightly more freely now. “But yes, you’re right. You obviously can’t use it. But it’s no problem, I can cover it.”

 

Jimin’s eyes widened.

“No. Really, you’ve done so much for me already, I can’t let you spend your money on me, too.”

“If I’m going to cage you inside this apartment, I want to make sure you’re as comfortable as you can be. And that means new clothes. And whatever you need to keep yourself entertained,” Taehyung said, his tone adamant.

“But… it’s so much,” Jimin mumbled, looking down. Taehyung sighed.

“Just let me help. I have the means and it’s no trouble. And I’ll do everything I can to solve this situation as quickly as possible.”

 

Jimin chewed on his bottom lip, glimpsing at Taehyung.

“What does it mean, solving? Like, what could hypothetically happen?”

“Well, it depends on you, too. But I could try to figure out a way to help you disappear. So that you’re not in danger anymore.”

“Disappear?” Jimin asked apprehensively.

“Get you a new identity, a new life. Somewhere away from here,” Taehyung said. The words sounded so… final. So dark.

 

“Alone?” Jimin whispered.

 

Just one word. It was only a one word and Taehyung felt it deep in his bones. Like a dull pain. Hurt.

 

“Yes,” Taehyung replied, his voice barely a whisper.

 

Jimin inhaled, as if he was going to talk. But then he only nodded.

 

“But it’s gonna take a while,” Taehyung added. “Something like that involves a lot of preparation.”

 

Jimin nodded again. He didn’t look at Taehyung.

 

Taehyung wanted to say something more. Something to make the entire situation better. But there were no words that could make it happen. Nothing could.

 

“So, uh… Let’s get some breakfast. And then I need to work. But I can give you a laptop so that you have something to kill time with. And maybe tomorrow we can get you some clothes,” Taehyung said.

“Okay,” Jimin breathed quietly.

 

Taehyung couldn’t shake the feeling of discomfort for the rest of the day. Jimin didn’t talk, and after Taehyung gave him a computer, he retreated to the guest bedroom. Once, in the early evening, Taehyung knocked on the door to ask what he wanted for dinner, and when Jimin didn’t answer, he peeked in. Jimin was asleep, curled up with Taehyung’s jacket again. The laptop was open on the nightstand, but the screen was dark. Quietly Taehyung slid into the room, covering Jimin with a blanket.

 

Taehyung ordered some food, and because Jimin still hadn’t woken up, Taehyung left a few of the take-away boxes on top of the dresser for him.

 

Taehyung hoped that time would help. Time could never heal the wounds, he knew that, but maybe it could bandage them enough to leave only scars.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

The second morning with Jimin felt different. Taehyung couldn’t pinpoint why, but the atmosphere had shifted. Jimin was still slightly tense and quiet, stirring his spoon in his cereal, but the air wasn’t as heavy. He was wearing Taehyung’s huge t-shirt again, the neckline almost slipping over his shoulder. He looked deep in thought.

 

Taehyung let his eyes wander on Jimin’s face. He had dark shadows under his eyes and his skin was void of color. He was biting his bottom lip. His other front tooth was a tiny bit crooked. There were a few scattered freckles on his nose. His cheeks looked soft, like the finest silk.

 

“Taehyung?”

 

Taehyung snapped out of his trance, almost stumbling down from his bar stool. Jimin was looking at him, his brows in a questioning quirk. Taehyung felt his cheeks heating.

 

He had been staring at Jimin. Drinking up his beauty with his eyes. And he had gotten caught.

 

Taehyung opened his mouth to say something, but the demanding buzzing of his phone startled them both.

 

Jungkook.

 

Taehyung had never been so happy about Jungkook calling him.

 

“Yeah?”

 

Taehyung didn’t look at Jimin – he was sure his cheeks were still flushed.

 

“Hey.”

 

Jungkook sounded apprehensive.

 

“What is it?” Taehyung asked, a feeling of unease spreading throughout his body. Jungkook was quiet for a moment before he took a breath and spoke.

 

“I just wanted to remind you of the meeting you have with Kang today.”

 

Taehyung felt a shudder inside his veins. A prominent cold.

 

“Oh, right. Thanks.”

“I’ll pick you up after noon. Yoonie can come hang with Jimin if you want.”

“Yeah, that sounds good,” Taehyung muttered.

“Okay. I’ll see you in a few hours.”

“Yeah.”

 

Taehyung set the phone down on the kitchen island and sighed deeply.

 

“Is everything okay?” Jimin asked softly, clearly not wanting to pry.

 

“Yes. I just have a meeting with my boss today,” Taehyung said.

“Oh?”

“Yeah. And he’s not the most pleasant person. But it’ll be fine.”

“Do you think you could be in trouble? You know… because of me?”

 

Taehyung turned to look at Jimin, shaking his head.

“Oh, no. There’s no way he knows about you. You’re safe. It’s gonna be fine, you don’t have to worry.”

“It’s not me I’m worried about,” Jimin breathed, not meeting Taehyung’s eyes.

 

If Taehyung was feeling cold before, now his cells were catching fire.

 

“I-I’ll be okay,” Taehyung said, unable to stop his voice from trembling a little.

“You better,” Jimin hummed. “You promised to keep me safe, remember?”

 

Taehyung was sure he was going to choke on his own breathing, and his face started to feel hot again.

 

He was a composed person. It took a lot to shake him, to crack his exterior.

 

Jimin had barely looked at his direction and all of his walls had started crumbling.

 

“I will keep you safe. Whatever it takes,” Taehyung rasped. Jimin let out a quiet chuckle.

 

A chuckle.

 

Taehyung wondered if Jimin was aware that he was a divine creature, and whatever he did affected Taehyung to a point where he forgot how humans were supposed to behave.

 

“My hero,” Jimin said, his tone emanating obvious sarcasm – it didn’t make Taehyung any less flustered, though.

 

“Yoongi will come keep you company while I’m gone,” Taehyung said, trying to gather himself.

“You think I need a babysitter?” Jimin asked.

“No!” Taehyung hurried to reply. Jimin chuckled again.

“I’m just teasing you. It’ll be nice to have company. Maybe he’ll actually say more than two words today.”

“Yeah, it takes a while for Yoongi to warm up to people. But when he does, he’s like a soft little kitten.”

“Sounds nice. I like cats,” Jimin said, continuing to eat his cereal.

 

Taehyung really needed to get himself together before the meeting with Kang. He needed to tape up his mask and not let the man see any cracks in it.

 

It hadn’t been a problem before, but for the first time Taehyung was… he was scared.

 

Kang knew how to read people. He knew how to make a psyche fall apart in a matter of minutes.

 

He had a way with words, but usually he preferred a more hands-on approach to keep his employees in check.

 

Taehyung didn’t want to be reminded on how to do his job. But he had a feeling that it would be the case today.

 

*

 

“Taehyung, Jungkook. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”

“It has, Sir,” Taehyung said, leaning in for a bow. Jungkook was standing a step behind Taehyung, also bowing.

“Come in.”

 

Taehyung and Jungkook entered Mr. Kang’s office.

 

It was in a glass building that neared a skyscraper in size. They had been ten minutes early, as usual, and Kang had opened the door to his office ten minutes late, as usual.

 

Kang was a man of an admirable size, taller than Taehyung and Jungkook. He was wearing a navy designer suit and his dark grey hair was swept back cleanly.

 

“Please, sit.”

 

Taehyung and Jungkook sat on black leather chairs opposite Kang’s desk. Kang settled on his desk chair like a throne, crossing his legs.

 

“So, how have the past few months been?”

“Good. Busy,” Taehyung replied briefly, keeping his expression neutrally cold. Jungkook was silent next to him, sitting still like a statue.

 

“Hm. And how was the last assignment?”

 

Taehyung forced his face to stay blank.

 

It was a test.

 

“The son is still missing. But I don’t see him as a liability, based on our intel he didn’t have knowledge of his parent’s… digressions. We’re still trying to find him.”

“You don’t see, huh,” Kang hummed. Taehyung felt a jolt down his spine. Shit.

“How is it possible that a normal young man like him has been able to hide so well from professionals who are specialized in locating people?”

 

Taehyung pressed his lips into a tight line. Kang quirked his eyebrows, a poisonous amusement glinting in his eyes.

 

“We’ll find him soon, Sir,” Taehyung said.

 

Kang sighed a little, leaning back on his chair.

“Jungkook, leave us for a moment, please.”

 

Jungkook inhaled sharply, sounding like he was going to object. Taehyung shot him a quick glare. It would be of no use to try to argue with Kang. It would only make the situation worse.

 

Jungkook got up, and after glancing at Taehyung quickly, left the room.

 

Kang didn’t talk at first.

 

Taehyung knew it was one of his means of coercion. To make you feel uneasy. Unsure. Like a prey.

 

“So, Taehyung. What is the number one rule of this job?” Kang asked, casually twiddling his thumbs.

“Leave no witnesses,” Taehyung replied like a robot, keeping his gaze relentlessly on him.

“That’s right. So why do I have a feeling you have forgotten this rule, Taehyung? Or are your men just useless?”

“They’re not.”

“So, what is the reason for you not finding Park Jimin, yet?”

 

Taehyung took a silent breath.

“Because I made a mistake in thinking it isn’t as vital as it is.”

“And what does that mean?”

“I forgot the rule.”

 

Kang clicked his tongue and got up from his chair. Taehyung followed suit, shoulders stiff.

 

“So, you know I have to remind you, right?” Kang hummed, walking to a chest of drawers by the wall.

“Yes,” Taehyung replied with a toneless voice.

 

Kang opened one of the top drawers, taking out a pair of brass knuckles. He slid his fingers through the metal loops, securing it to his wrist with a leather strip.

 

Taehyung stepped into the middle of the room, and soon Kang faced him.

 

“What is the number one rule?” Kang asked.

“Leave no witnesses.”

“And do you want to end up like your father?”

 

Taehyung clenched his teeth.

 

He took a second too long to answer.

 

Taehyung felt the brass knuckles crushing into his jaw with force. He tried not to stumble, but he fell to his knees, hitting the back of his head to the desk, instinctually touching his jaw. His skin felt hot, and there was blood starting to drip from where his skin had cut open.

 

Taehyung willed himself up to his feet, even though he felt pain slash through him.

 

“Do you want to end up like your father, Taehyung?” Kang repeated, adjusting the brass knuckles.

“No, Sir,” Taehyung answered, slightly out of breath.

“Good.”

 

Kang aimed another hit to the side of his face, hitting his cheekbone. Taehyung didn’t fall over this time, but he staggered, and grabbed the back of one of the chairs for purchase.

 

“I’ve always thought you are a good boy, Taehyung,” Kang said. “And I trust you to do your job well. Even the best of us need to be reminded sometimes, though, right?”

“R-right,” Taehyung muttered breathlessly, trying to stay on his feet. He felt lightheaded.

 

“I think our business here is done for now. I’ll be in touch”, Kang stated, removing the brass knuckles and turning his back on Taehyung.

 

“Yes, Sir,” Taehyung breathed, making his way to the door.

 

Jungkook was waiting outside, and his eyes widened a bit as he hurried to Taehyung.

 

“Shit,” Jungkook whispered.

“Let’s just get out of here,” Taehyung muttered, holding his cheek. His fingers got sticky with blood.

 

“When are you gonna let me put a bullet to his head?” Jungkook asked, gritting his teeth, when they had gotten to his car. Taehyung sighed, closing his eyes and leaning his head back.

“A lot of good would that do. Some asshole would just replace him and get us slaughtered.”

“Maybe we could take his place,” Jungkook noted, driving faster than he should have. Taehyung snorted.

“Yeah, no thanks. You can take the empire, I’ll take an indefinite vacation in the Caribbean.”

 

Jungkook huffed.

“You really don’t have any fight in you?”

“No. I just wanna try to live past thirty.”

 

Jungkook looked annoyed but didn’t say anything.

 

Taehyung’s head was pounding. He could feel trails of blood drying on his face and neck.

 

Do you want to end up like your father?

 

Taehyung forced himself to take a breath.

 

He did have fight in him. He had so much contained anger towards everyone and everything that he didn’t trust himself to let even fragments of it out. It would turn into a hurricane.

 

*

 

Taehyung had gotten from Jungkook’s car to the elevator, but after the doors closed his legs couldn’t hold him up anymore.

 

“Shit, Tae,” Jungkook gasped, grabbing him midair as he started collapsing.

“I-I’m okay,” Taehyung mumbled. Half of his vision was blurry, and it felt like his face was on fire.

“You’re not okay. What the fuck did he do? These don’t look like a normal punch.”

“Just some brass knuckles,” Taehyung sighed, trying to grasp the railing to keep himself up. Jungkook was still holding on to him.

“He’s a fucking psychopath,” Jungkook gritted.

“You’re just getting that now?” Taehyung snorted.

 

Jungkook walked Taehyung to his apartment, unlocking the door.

 

“Yoonie, get some ice,” Jungkook yelled into the apartment. Some shuffling could be heard from the living room, and soon both Yoongi and Jimin appeared to the hallway. Yoongi sighed as he saw Taehyung, immediately hurrying to the kitchen.

 

Jimin just stared for a moment, looking shaken.

“What happened?” he asked, almost panicked.

“I’m fine,” Taehyung muttered, unable to focus his eyes completely on Jimin. Jungkook scoffed, dragging Taehyung with him to the living room.

 

“Our boss is a sick psychopath, that’s what happened,” Jungkook huffed, helping Taehyung lie down on the couch.

 

Yoongi brought a pack of ice, wrapped inside a kitchen towel. Jungkook knelt down to the floor, softly pressing the ice against Taehyung’s cheek.

 

“A-ah, fuck,” Taehyung groaned, grabbing the pack from Jungkook. “Are you trying to kill me?”

 

Jungkook rolled his eyes. Jimin was standing further, frozen, just looking at Taehyung’s bloody face.

 

“So, I take it that the meeting went well,” Yoongi hummed, crossing his arms.

 

“He was just interested in Jimin and why we haven’t found him yet,” Jungkook said angrily.

“Shut up,” Taehyung hissed, wincing at the pain.

 

“D-did he hit you because of me?” Jimin asked with a small voice, confused.

“No,” Taehyung stated adamantly. “He hit me because he’s a crazy narcissist that will make up any excuse to beat people up if he wants to.”

“He is, though,” Yoongi agreed.

“Yeah, and Tae doesn’t let me kill him,” Jungkook scoffed.

“Can you shut up and get me some painkillers?” Taehyung sighed. “And then leave, your cackling is worsening my headache.”

 

Jungkook scrunched his nose, looking like he wanted to argue, but complied. He returned with a bottle of pills, a glass of water and a first aid kit.

 

“The cuts should be cleaned at some point,” Jungkook said to no one in particular, setting the kit down on the coffee table. He gave the pills to Taehyung, and he sat up laboriously to take a few of the pills.

 

“Thanks,” Taehyung muttered, slouching back down and continuing to press his cheek with the ice bag. “Now fuck off, don’t you have work to do?”

 

“You,” Jungkook said, his eyes almost piercing through Jimin. “Let us know if he gets worse.”

“He’s on my phone under The Brat ,” Taehyung mumbled, eyes closed.

“Okay,” Jimin said timidly.

 

“It’s gonna be fine,” Yoongi whispered to Jimin, touching his shoulder gently. Jimin tried to smile a little and nodded. Jungkook threw them a questioning look, to which Yoongi replied by smiling wryly, before dragging him to the door with him.

 

It was quiet again after they left.

 

Jimin was standing quite far from the sofa, fiddling with his sleeve.

 

“Come here,” Taehyung breathed. His jaw was throbbing with pain and his head felt heavy as lead.

 

Jimin moved to the sofa with unsure steps, sitting down at the edge of the coffee table. Taehyung opened his eyes a little. Jimin was blurry, but he was there. If he wouldn’t have known better, he would’ve been sure he had died and gone to heaven with an angel like that welcoming him.

 

“It really isn’t your fault,” Taehyung said.

“You said you’d be fine,” Jimin muttered.

“I am fine. It’s not the first time I’ve been punched in the face.”

 

Jimin inhaled, looking at Taehyung with sad eyes.

“Why do you do this?”

 

Taehyung opened his eyes some more.

“Do what?”

 

“This job. If… if this is what you have to go through,” Jimin said, his voice choking. “It can’t be worth it.”

 

Taehyung closed his eyes again. His head was spinning, and he felt out of balance even though he was laying down. He couldn’t produce coherent thoughts.

 

“I don’t have anything else,” Taehyung sighed. “It’s all I’ve ever done, angel.”

 

Angel.

 

Taehyung’s eyes flew open. Had he said that out loud?

 

Judging from Jimin’s expression he had. His eyes were wide, and a flush was creeping up his neck.

 

For a moment they just stared at each other. Then a thrum of pain hit again. Taehyung flinched, dropping his ice bag.

 

“Taehyung?” Jimin’s voice sounded alarmed, and he crouched down to the floor to pick up the ice bag.

“Fuck,” Taehyung mumbled. “It’s spinning.”

“What’s spinning?”

“You,” Taehyung breathed. “I think I really have a concussion.”

“You think?” Jimin asked with a little chuckle. He laid the ice bag on Taehyung’s cheek softly. Taehyung hummed a little – quite a different reaction than when Jungkook had tried to help him.

“Would you let me clean the cuts?” Jimin inquired, cautious.

“You’re taking advantage of my weak state,” Taehyung muttered. “But yeah. It’s okay, I guess.”

 

Jimin smiled, but Taehyung couldn’t see it since he had closed his eyes again out of embarrassment. He could hear Jimin fumbling the first aid kit, and soon he felt some tingling on his cheek.

“I’m sorry if it stings,” Jimin said quietly, patting the wound with gentle motions. Taehyung mumbled something indistinctly.

 

“It wouldn’t be so weird to see me spin, though,” Jimin continued talking with a soft voice, referring to Taehyung’s previous comment.

“How so?” Taehyung asked.

“I used to dance. I… I studied dance at the university.”

 

Something in Jimin’s tone made Taehyung open his eyes again.

“Why don’t you dance anymore?”

 

Jimin smiled a sad smile. He took another cotton swab, wetting it with disinfectant and started patting the cut in Taehyung’s jaw.

“There hasn’t been much time. With… everything. Helping my parents and such. But it’s okay. I wanted to help them.”

 

Jimin’s parents.

 

The guilt washed over Taehyung with another wave. For a blissful moment he had forgotten.

 

“Maybe you’ll dance again,” Taehyung whispered. He heard Jimin inhale, but then he was quiet.

 

“I’ll bandage the cuts with something so that they don’t get infected,” Jimin said after a while. “The wounds are quite jagged, though. They’ll probably scar.”

 

“Thank you,” Taehyung said quietly. “For doing this.”

 

Jimin smiled a little.

“It’s the least I can do after all you’ve done for me.”

 

Taehyung’s throat felt tight.

 

He should’ve just told Jimin the truth. But that would’ve meant that Jimin would never be able to trust him. Jimin would hate him. Jimin would probably leave.

 

And then he would be in danger.

 

There was no way Taehyung could tell, not now. First, he had to get Jimin to safety. Then he could tell Jimin the truth.

 

It wasn’t selfish, he just wanted to keep Jimin safe.

 

Jimin put some adhesive tape over Taehyung’s cuts, then zipping up the first aid kit.

 

Jimin swept some of Taehyung’s hair from his forehead. The touch left Taehyung’s skin prickling.

 

“Umm… can I ask something?” Jimin inquired apprehensively.

“Of course.”

“Why’s your boss interested in me? Why does he want to find me?”

 

Shit.

 

Shit shit shit.

 

Damn Jungkook.

 

Taehyung sighed. He had a chance now. But…

 

“Okay, uh… it wasn’t a coincidence that I found you at the house. I mean, it sort of was, because I wasn’t supposed to be there and I don’t know how I ended up there. But I found you there. And it was Jungkook, who called me then. He told me that someone was coming. So, I got you out of there. I wasn’t supposed to bring you here, but I did. And you can probably understand why I don’t want Kang to know I’ve found you.”

 

Okay, good. He hadn’t lied. He had just bent the truth a little bit.

 

Jimin looked at him, brows furrowing.

 

“Uh, okay. But you still didn’t answer my question, though. Why does he want to find me?”

 

Taehyung bit his lip. He took hold of the sofa, heaving himself to sit upright. The whole room did a three-sixty in his eyes, but it settled once he’d blinked a few times. Taehyung took a breath.

 

“Because Kang wants you dead.”

 

Jimin stared at Taehyung.

“Wh-what?”

 

Taehyung’s heart clenched. It was trying to stop him from lying, stop him from hurting Jimin even more.

 

But Taehyung was too used to it. Lying.

 

Why would you tell the truth if it’s only going to worsen the situation? Truths are for weak people who can’t handle the guilt that comes with lying. When you can master the guilt, beat it, that’s when you know you’re strong.

 

Taehyung’s father had taught him this when he was ten years old. He had accidentally broken Jungkook’s favorite toy gun and was feeling very guilty about it. His father hadn’t understood why Taehyung wanted to apologize and tell Jungkook that he had broken it.

 

It’s only going to hurt him, Taehyung.

     

“Your parents are dead because of him. And you were supposed to die too, but you didn’t. So now he wants the job to be finished.”

 

“H-he…”

 

Taehyung turned his gaze to Jimin. There were tears in his eyes. Jimin looked lost. Confused.

 

“M-my parents are dead because of him? Your boss?” Jimin asked with a choked voice. Taehyung could only nod.

“Why didn’t you t-tell me this in the first place?”

“Would you have stayed with me if I did? Would you have trusted me?”

 

Jimin stood up, taking a few steps further from Taehyung.

 

“I’m not s-sure I trust you now,” Jimin said, his voice shaking.

“I know,” Taehyung sighed. “I wouldn’t trust me either. But… I really just want to keep you safe. I want to keep you safe from him.”

 

“But that makes no fucking sense, Taehyung!” Jimin snapped, tears trailing down his cheeks. “Your boss wants you to find me and kill me, why would you want to keep me safe?”

“Because I care, okay?” Taehyung scoffed without thinking. He felt faint. Jimin stared at him, breathing hard and letting the tears stream free.

 

Taehyung didn’t want Jimin to cry. He didn’t want Jimin to be sad. He wanted to make Jimin smile and laugh.

 

Jimin was so pretty when he smiled.

 

“I…” Taehyung started to say and meant to get up but couldn’t. He tried to breathe, willing the lightheadedness to go away. “I want to protect you Jimin. And I… I understand if you don’t trust me, I haven’t really given you any reason to, but… I just feel so shitty about how you’ve gotten tangled up in this life and I don’t want it to be your future. You don’t deserve to be stuck in this shit.”

 

“And what makes me so special that you want to protect me?” Jimin asked, crossing his arms. Taehyung took a shaky breath.

 

“Angel.”

 

“What?” Jimin breathed, again, surprised by the petname.

 

“I don’t know what it is,” Taehyung muttered. “You just feel so… familiar somehow. I can’t explain it. And that actually does make you special in my eyes.”

 

Taehyung could maybe blame his concussion for saying things like that out loud, but the truth was that he had already said many things to Jimin before he would’ve never said to anyone else.

 

Jimin wiped his tears on his sleeve, then slowly returning to Taehyung. Now he sat next to him on the couch.

 

“Okay,” Jimin whispered. Taehyung turned to look at him.

“Okay?”

“I believe you,” Jimin said, sniffling a little. “But if you want me to actually trust you, you need to be honest with me. And if you actually want to protect me, I need to trust you, right?”

 

“Yes,” Taehyung replied.

 

Jimin smiled a little, his eyes still glistening with crying.

 

He looked so pretty when he smiled.

 

“Should you rest a bit? Maybe it would help with the headache,” Jimin suggested. Taehyung nodded. Jimin got up again, letting Taehyung lay down on the couch. Jimin grabbed a fluffy blanket from the armrest, covering Taehyung with it.

 

Taehyung felt the weird fluttering in his stomach again.

 

“I’ll wake you up after a while to make sure you’re still alive,” Jimin said. Taehyung could only nod. Jimin picked up the first aid kit and the bloody cotton swabs from the table, taking a few steps towards the hallway, before stopping and turning around again.

 

“I feel it too,” Jimin said. “The… the familiarity. I feel it too.”

 

Taehyung didn’t have time to answer, because quickly after his words Jimin hurried out of the living room.

 

Taehyung turned to stare at the white of the roof, his thoughts even a bigger frazzle than before.

 

His life had always been one obstacle after another. Taehyung was used to solving problems. That was what he did best. But Taehyung didn’t know how to untangle this one.

 

Perhaps the issue was that Jimin was not a problem.

 

Because being with Jimin was like…

 

Like Taehyung was breathing for the first time in his life.

 

*

 

The rest of the day was quiet – Jimin seemed like he wanted to give Taehyung his peace to recover. Jimin ordered them food this time, and Taehyung scared himself with the thought that he could get used to eating dinner with Jimin.

 

He shouldn’t.

 

This was only temporary.

 

“You know, if you’d get some groceries, maybe I could cook something,” Jimin said when they were clearing the table.

“Oh? I hadn’t really thought about that,” Taehyung muttered. Jimin chuckled a little.

“You don’t cook?”

“I can barely differentiate the oven from the microwave.”

“Well then you’re definitely due a home cooked meal,” Jimin hummed, tossing their takeaway containers to the trash can.

“I can order in some groceries if you really want to cook,” Taehyung said.

“I’d be happy to.”

 

The conversation had left Taehyung feeling oddly flowy. Jimin had told Taehyung to leave his bedroom door open for the night – apparently he was still worried about Taehyung’s possible concussion and wanted to come check on him during the night.

 

It was strange.

 

Taehyung wasn’t used to that kind of care.

 

Taehyung wasn’t used to the warm feeling inside him when Jimin expressed that he wanted to take care of him. That he was interested in how Taehyung was doing.

 

That he trusted Taehyung.

 

He trusted Taehyung even though he hadn’t been honest, not really. Keeping the truth inside burned. It scorched Taehyung’s brain and heart, nearly unbearably.

 

Taehyung was weak. The truth would only hurt Jimin, so why would he share it just so he, himself, could feel better?

 

Taehyung sighed, turning to lie on his back. He pulled the covers to his chin, listening to the quiet hum of the passing cars outside. He could feel the fatigue weighing his body, but his thoughts clawed on him, not giving him peace.

 

Jimin was so pure.

 

He was too pure for this broken, dirty world.

 

Taehyung hadn’t known people like Jimin could even exist.

 

Taehyung was too used to everything, everyone, being corrupted, being distrusting, being bleak.

 

Jimin was like a gentle gust of wind, like a beam that helped Taehyung suddenly see all the different colors in their full vibrancy.

 

Obviously, Taehyung knew that his way of life wasn’t the norm. He lived on the edges of the grey areas, bending the limits of morality.

 

He was the finisher of lives, of hope. He didn’t show mercy. It didn’t exist. There was no guilt nor regrets. There was only money, only power, only respect.

 

Taehyung felt nausea in the pit of his stomach.

 

How many lives had ended because of him?

 

How many people didn’t get a chance to see more days because he had made one phone call or clicked his keyboard a few times?

 

People.

 

Taehyung felt his airways constricting. They had been people. Guilty ones. Innocent ones. Adults. Children.

 

There had always been a reason for their lives ending.

 

Sometimes it had been a just one. Sometimes not.

 

Leave no witnesses.

 

Taehyung felt bile in his throat.

 

He scrambled up from the bed, almost falling off his feet. His head was still thumping. Taehyung tried to regain his balance, dragging himself to his en suite. He knelt before the toilet and tried to cough out the nausea.

 

Peoplepeoplepeople.

 

Cold sweat gathered on Taehyung’s temples, his pulse pounding in his ears.

 

Guilt is for the weak.

 

Taehyung’s stomach was cramping, and he was shivering all over.

 

He remembered this feeling. He remembered being fifteen, and his father had taken him to do a job with him. Just a normal, routine job , his father had told him. Don’t worry, Taehyung.

 

They had arrived at a warehouse. Jungkook’s dad was there, but Jungkook wasn’t. Taehyung was nervous – he always felt nervous when Jungkook wasn’t around.

 

He had followed the older men inside the warehouse.

 

And then he had seen them.

 

There were two bodies, gruesomely hanging from meat hooks chained to the ceiling. There was blood. There were guts. There was a severed hand on the concrete floor, the tendons sticking out.

 

The smell in the air was pungent. It smelled like sweat, like blood, like chemicals.

 

Then his father had told him what the job was. We all have to know how to do this. We need to harden ourselves. You need to be able to show me you have what it takes.

 

And then they had unhooked the bodies together, packing them into plastic bags, and cleaning the floor of blood and feces and intestines.

 

Then they had disposed of the bodies by using an incinerator.

 

Good job, Taehyung. I know you’re going to make me proud.

 

Taehyung had gone home and vomited for the rest of the night. He had puked so much he couldn’t breathe anymore. He was lying on his bathroom floor when Jungkook had come to check on him. He had told Jungkook everything that had happened. Jungkook had hugged him.

 

It wasn’t the last time Taehyung had to dispose of a body. But it was the last time he had felt sick after.

 

“Taehyung?”

 

Taehyung barely heard Jimin’s voice through the humming in his ears.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

“Y-yeah,” Taehyung rasped, flushing the toilet. “Just feeling a bit nauseous.”

 

“Is it the concussion? ‘Cause that sounds serious.”

“No, it’s not the concussion. I’m fine. You can go back to sleep.”

“Are you sure?”

 

There was something in Jimin’s voice that Taehyung couldn’t decipher. Like it wasn’t just a question, but something more.

 

“I’m sure,” Taehyung said. “I really am fine.”

 

Jimin was quiet for a moment.

 

“Okay. I hope you get some sleep. Good night.”

“Good night.”

 

Taehyung could hear Jimin’s footsteps retreating. After a short while they returned, and then retreated again. Taehyung furrowed his brows. He heaved himself up from the floor, washing his face with cold water. His hands were shaking, but he was feeling a bit better.

 

Taehyung cracked the bathroom door. There was a water bottle on the floor next to the door. Taehyung picked it up, trying to breathe. He wobbled to his bed and collapsed back down, still holding the bottle.

 

Taehyung felt an unfamiliar heat prickling in the corners of his eyes.

 

Taehyung didn’t cry.

 

Weak.

 

A tear dropped on his pillow, leaving a trail on his cheek.

 

Taehyung touched the wet dot on his pillow with his fingertip, squeezing the water bottle in his other hand.

 

A beam.

 

*

 

Everything was on fire.

 

Taehyung could see the faint outline of Jimin’s house.

 

The flames had engulfed it, the ashes floating through the air, making it hard to breathe.

 

“I always knew you would be weak.”

 

His father was wearing a bloody suit. There was a bullet hole in his forehead, oozing thick, black blood.

 

“How much are you willing to pay for your mistakes, Taehyung?”

 

“Taehyung!”

 

Taehyung turned around. Jimin was there.

 

Jimin’s angel wings were scorched black. They were crumbling, turning to cinder.

 

“You lied to me.”

 

Taehyung gasped.

 

His phone was buzzing.

 

He was in his own bed. The water bottle was still next to him, but his duvet was on the floor.

 

Taehyung fumbled his phone from the nightstand, sighing when reading the name.

 

Hoseok.

 

“What?” Taehyung muttered, rubbing his eyes.

“Were you asleep?”

“It’s 7am, fuck yes I’m asleep.”

“Sorry, boss.”

“What do you want?”

“Oh, uh… well, can we meet today?”

“Why?”

 

There was a silence at the other end of the line. An ominous one.

 

Taehyung shuffled to sit up, leaning against the headboard.

 

“Hoseok?”

 

“I know about Jimin.”

 

Taehyung’s heart skipped a beat. He could feel cold settling inside his veins.

 

“What?”

“I know, boss. I saw him with you. I was there.”

 

Taehyung took a deep breath, trying to contain himself. They could still run. But…

 

“Why are you telling me this?”

 

Taehyung could hear Hoseok taking a breath.

 

“Can we meet? Today.”

“Fine,” Taehyung sighed. “At noon.”

“Okay. I’ll be there at noon.”

 

Taehyung dropped his phone to the bed.

 

Fuck.

 

He eased himself up, dragging himself to brush his teeth. Taehyung looked at himself in the mirror, his soulless eyes staring back at him.

 

If Hoseok was planning to expose them to Kang, he would’ve done that already. Taehyung knew his men were loyal to him. They had to be, because they knew their fate otherwise.

 

But what did he want?

 

There had been fear in Hoseok’s voice. Apprehension. Like he wasn’t sure.

 

Hoseok had been working for him for Taehyung for a year now. Taehyung knew he was from a poor family, just trying to make ends meet. Providing his family with all he could.

 

It was noble. But people like that were also the most desperate.

 

Taehyung put some clothes on, still feeling too worn out to try too much. It was not a day for a suit.

 

Taehyung wrapped himself in a big cardigan, ruffling his hair. He could hear some noise from the kitchen – Jimin seemed to be up.

 

Jimin.

 

Taehyung tried to remember to breathe. He grabbed his phone and started to make his way to the kitchen.

 

Taehyung stopped at the end of the hallway. Jimin was making coffee and was setting plates to the kitchen island.

 

“Morning,” Jimin said, giving Taehyung a small smile.

 

Jimin was wearing Taehyung’s sweater again. His hair was unruly and fluffy, the silvery-blond waves settling over his eyes.

 

“Morning,” Taehyung replied, eyeing the plates.

 

“You could get some breakfast stuff with the food order, too,” Jimin noted. “There’s only cereal right now. And not much of that either.”

“I’ll get something. You should write me a list,” Taehyung said, sitting down.

“I will, then,” Jimin smiled.

 

Jimin put coffee cups on the island, Taehyung wondering how he had gotten so acquainted with his kitchen in just a few days.

 

“What’s wrong?” Jimin asked when he was pouring coffee into the cups.

“What?” Taehyung frowned. Jimin rolled his eyes.

“I can see that something’s wrong,” Jimin said like it was the most obvious thing.

 

Taehyung sighed.

“One of my employees just called me,” he said, glancing at Jimin, who had leaned against the island. “He wants to meet. He said he saw us. I’m guessing when we were leaving the house. And I don’t know what he wants.”

“What? Saw us?” Jimin asked, frowning. “But why does he want to meet you? Shouldn’t he, like, go to your tyrant boss?”

“Yes, he should,” Taehyung hummed. “But I also know that my men are first and foremost loyal to me. So, there might be a chance that he wants to make some kind of a deal.”

“Deal? Like blackmail?”

“You’re catching on fast. Expecting the worst in all people already,” Taehyung noted, chuckling dryly. Jimin scrunched his nose.

“But with Hoseok, I’m not sure. He’s… well, he respects me. He’s scared of me, really. But we’ll see.”

 

Jimin picked up his coffee cup, blowing on it.

“Scared of you?” he asked rhetorically, grinning a little.

“Don’t say you weren’t scared of me when we first met,” Taehyung said, rolling his eyes.

“You were holding a gun!” Jimin countered defensively.

“So, I’m not scary without a gun?” Taehyung asked, arching his brow.

“Well…” Jimin giggled, hiding his face behind his coffee cup.

 

Jimin’s laugh.

 

It made warm shivers run down Taehyung’s back.

 

His giggling lit up his entire face, like he was emanating sunlight.

 

“You… you’re more like a little puppy or something,” Jimin snickered.

“A puppy? I’m offended,” Taehyung scoffed, a smile quivering on his lips.

“Why? Puppies are cute,” Jimin hummed, looking at his coffee cup.

 

Cute.

 

Cute.

 

Taehyung felt his cheeks heat.

 

Jimin smiled a little, turning to pour cereal into the bowls.

“So, when’s that Hoseok coming?”

“Uh, at noon,” Taehyung muttered, trying to decide if he was feeling pleasantly fluttery or nauseous.

“Okay. Do you want me to stay out of the way?”

 

Taehyung frowned.

“You don’t have to. I mean, you don’t have to feel like you can’t walk around freely here.”

 

Jimin shrugged.

“It’s fine. I can’t walk around freely anywhere, so.”

 

Even if Jimin didn’t show it, Taehyung could hear the hurt in his voice. The anxiety.

 

“I’m sorry you can’t walk freely. I want you to.”

“I know,” Jimin breathed. “Don’t worry about it. I know you just want to keep me safe.”

 

Taehyung did. He wanted for Jimin to feel safe, to feel free, to feel…

 

Alive.

 

“Maybe we could get you those clothes today? And other stuff you need. If you want,” Taehyung said, concentrating his eyes on his coffee.

“Yeah, sure. Okay,” Jimin replied, pouring some milk in their cereal.

 

The air was heavy.

 

As if both of them wanted to talk, to say something , but didn’t.

 

Maybe they both knew how dangerous it was. Talking.

 

Chapter Text

 

The doorbell rang one minute before noon.

 

Taehyung sighed and got up from his desk. He passed Jimin on his way to the door – he was cuddled up on the couch, reading a book, turning to look at Taehyung.

 

“Do you want me to go?”

“It’s fine,” Taehyung said. “You can stay there if you want. He’s the visitor here, not you.”

 

Jimin’s eyes widened a bit, before he turned his gaze back to the book.

 

Taehyung wasn’t sure why he had said that. Jimin was , in the end, just visiting. Just as long as Taehyung would come up with a plan to keep him safe.

 

He should not get used to Jimin being there.

 

Taehyung forced the confusion out of his head, and opened the door.

 

“Boss,” Hoseok said with a tight voice, nodding as a greeting. He looked solemn as usual, his dark hair swept away from his face. Taehyung nodded back, gesturing for him to come in.

 

Hoseok was a good employee. Loyal, efficient and short-spoken. It would be a shame if Taehyung had to get rid of him.

 

Hoseok’s eyes landed on Jimin immediately when he stepped into the apartment. Jimin looked back, holding his breath and gripping the book tighter in his hands.

 

Taehyung followed the exchange of looks quietly, unsure what to make of it.

 

“Can I be blunt, boss?” Hoseok asked abruptly, turning to Taehyung. Taehyung hid the surprise from his face, and then nodded, crossing his arms.

 

“I’m not entirely sure what you’re doing here,” Hoseok said. “But whatever it is, I want to help.”

 

Now Taehyung couldn’t cover the surprise anymore.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

Jimin got up from the couch, leaving the book behind.

 

“You want to help?” Jimin asked apprehensively, stepping next to Taehyung. Hoseok glimpsed at him, and then looked back at his boss. His expression shifted slightly. Softened. Taehyung wasn’t sure, why.

 

“You’ve done so much for me,” Hoseok continued talking, addressing Taehyung. “Given me work. Made it possible for me to help my family. And I know you don’t do things without a good reason.”

 

Hoseok quickly looked at Jimin again. Taehyung could feel Jimin standing very close to him, the warmth of his body foreign. His fingers twitched, like they were itching to touch.

 

“So, whatever you want me to do, I will. No questions asked.”

“So, you know Taehyung’s boss wants me dead?” Jimin asked before Taehyung could say anything. Hoseok’s eyes flicked to Jimin, and then back to Taehyung. Taehyung knew Hoseok was good at thinking on his feet, but he was still scared the man would blurt out something Taehyung didn’t want Jimin to know yet.

 

“Yes. Yes, I do,” Hoseok answered after a few seconds. “Is there a… is there a plan?”

“Not yet,” Taehyung said. “Just trying to keep Jimin safe.”

“Yeah,” Hoseok hummed. “Help him disappear?”

 

Taehyung’s heart stuttered. He felt uneasy. Cold.

 

“Yes,” Taehyung replied, not looking at Jimin. He could hear Jimin take a breath.

 

“Do you… do you know who killed my parents?” Jimin asked, his eyes focusing intently on Hoseok. “Tae said you saw us together. Like leaving the house or something. So, you were there?”

 

Tae.

 

Taehyung couldn’t even concentrate on panicking about Jimin’s pressing question that could result in everything falling apart, if Hoseok wouldn’t keep his cool.

 

Tae.

 

Hoseok’s being seemed to stiffen, but his expression remained neutral.

“I was just sent there to find you,” he said with a level tone. Jimin frowned, like he wasn’t sure if he believed Hoseok.

“So, you would have killed me if you found me?”

 

Hoseok inhaled.

“Yes.”

 

Jimin pressed his lips into a tight line. Taehyung felt lightheaded. All the lies inside his head tangled more and more, a web where he would eventually be stuck on like a helpless fly.

 

“Thank you, Hoseok,” Taehyung said breathlessly. “I’ll let you know when I need something. You’ll obviously be compensated for the extra work.”

 

Hoseok looked like he wanted to argue, but then ended up just nodding.

“Thanks, boss.”

 

And with that, Hoseok turned to leave. Short-spoken. Loyal. Efficient. That’s what Hoseok was.

 

After the door closed behind Hoseok, Jimin sighed quietly and returned back to the couch. Taehyung followed him with his gaze. His instincts told him to retreat to his office and leave Jimin alone. Still, Taehyung found himself moving towards Jimin, like an invisible force was pulling him.

 

Taehyung sat down on the sofa. Jimin was holding the closed book in his hands, his eyes empty.

 

Taehyung was good at reading people. He had always been good at interpreting micro-expressions, talented at finding out people’s biggest weaknesses. Good at getting them to reveal their secrets.

 

But with Jimin, it was different. His expression read sadness. His hands fear, perhaps anxiety. But the way he was sitting – his back straight, shoulders back – confidence, relentlessness.

 

Jimin turned to look at Taehyung.

 

Softness.

 

It threw Taehyung off. He wasn’t sure if he could trust his observations.

 

Jimin confused him.

 

“Do you trust Hoseok?” Jimin asked.

“Hm. As much as I trust anyone,” Taehyung replied.

“What does that mean?” Jimin huffed, furrowing his brows.

 

Taehyung sighed. He leaned back, running his fingers through his hair.

“It means that I know he’ll do what I tell him to do.”

 

Jimin rolled his eyes. He put the book on the coffee table, crossing his arms.

“And that doesn’t mean trust?”

 

“No. It means that I know he’ll be loyal as long as it benefits himself.”

 

“You have a fucking bleak image of humanity, then,” Jimin scoffed.

“I like to think of it as realistic. You haven’t seen all the dirtiest layers of what exists.”

“My parents were murdered, Taehyung!” Jimin snapped, startling Taehyung. “My parents were killed and I’m sitting in a room with a person who leads a criminal gang and I still believe that there is good in people. In all people. That people can be selfless and do good things even if there’s nothing in it for them.”

 

Taehyung stared at Jimin, his emotions churning inside him like a tempest.

 

“Or is there something in it for you for helping me? Are you gonna claim that it isn’t a selfless act?” Jimin insisted. Taehyung clenched his teeth.

“You told me it isn’t because of pity. So, what is it, then?” Jimin snarled.

 

Guilt.

 

“I’m not a good person, Jimin,” Taehyung said flatly. “I’ve done some very bad things. Some unforgivable things. You can’t even imagine.”

 

“But that doesn’t make you inherently bad.”

 

Jimin’s voice was gentle again. Taehyung inhaled, his breath burning his lungs.

 

“But… how can you even say that? You don’t know me. You don’t know how I really am.”

 

Jimin hummed, his entire demeanor relaxing.

 

“Are you sure about that? Are you sure that it isn’t just you who doesn’t know you?”

 

What?

 

Taehyung knew Jimin could read the confusion from his face. He wasn’t able to disguise it. Jimin smiled faintly.

 

“Should we make that food order so that I can cook tonight? Or do you have to get back to work?” Jimin asked.

“Uh, yeah, sure, let’s do that,” Taehyung muttered, getting up to retrieve his laptop.

 

Trying to get a clear picture of Jimin was like trying to solve a puzzle with multiple pieces missing.

 

Usually people were simple. First, they wanted to stay alive. Secondly, money. It was always money. One could get anything with money. Because nothing was ever enough. Nothing was ever enough for humanity, everyone just wanted more and more until everything was destroyed.

 

Jimin wasn’t simple. Jimin wanted to stay alive, sure, but it was more complex than that.

 

Jimin believed humans could be good. That Taehyung wasn’t inherently bad.

 

But would he believe that, if he knew the truth?

 

*

 

Taehyung had been sitting in his office for close to nine hours. It was hard to concentrate, but he had so much work to do. And he needed the distraction. Distraction from Jimin.

 

Taehyung was leaning on his desk with his elbow, going through the last of his emails, when he startled on a knock on his door.

 

“Yeah?”

 

The door cracked and Jimin peeked in.

 

“Um. I’m sorry to bother you but I’m almost done with dinner,” Jimin said, smiling a little. “And you’ve been working for quite long.”

“Oh,” Taehyung said, glancing at the time. “Shit, is it actually that late?”

“Yeah. Do you always work this late?”

“Uh. Yes, I usually do.”

“Well, I think it’s time for you to finish for tonight and come eat.”

 

“Uh, okay, sure. I’ll be there in a minute,” Taehyung stammered after only staring at Jimin for a few seconds. Jimin smiled again and disappeared from the door.

 

Taehyung turned off his computer, gathering the scattered files from the desk and locked them in a drawer. He could hear some clinking of cutlery through the cracked door.

 

Taehyung gave up in trying to decipher his feelings. He was walking in such a foreign territory, and had no precedent to base on his expectations.

 

The way Jimin approached him was completely different to anything he had experienced before. Jimin was gentle and didn’t view him as a threat or something to look up to.

 

Jimin was genuine.

 

Taehyung got up from his chair, stretching. The smell of the food lingered into his nose as he stepped out of his office. Taehyung didn’t remember if he’d ever had a proper home cooked meal. As a child his father had mostly microwaved meals for him, never bothering to learn how to cook.

 

“I don’t think I’ve ever used that stovetop,” Taehyung commented, eyeing the different pots and pans that were steaming on the stove.

 

“I figured. It was too clean,” Jimin grinned, lifting one of the pans on the kitchen island, where he had also set them plates and utensils.

 

“Smells really good,” Taehyung said, trying not to stare at Jimin. His hair had fluffed some more because of the steam, and the apples of his cheeks were beautifully rosy. Taehyung’s big sweater hung loosely on him, exposing his collarbones.

“Thanks,” Jimin smiled. “I hope it tastes as good as it smells.”

“I’m sure it will,” Taehyung hummed. “Do you cook a lot?”

 

Jimin put a few more pots on the island, then sitting on a bar stool opposite to Taehyung.

“Uh, yes. I’ve been doing all the cooking since my mom got sick,” Jimin said quietly. Taehyung took a shallow breath.

“Oh,” Taehyung mumbled, not knowing what else to say. He didn’t want to pry, but it felt like Jimin wanted to talk about it.

 

Thinking about Jimin’s parents scorched Taehyung’s insides. Why couldn’t he get over the guilt?

 

Weak.

 

“Was she… was she very ill?” Taehyung asked.

 

He deserved the pain he was feeling.

 

“She had depression. It got really bad a little after I graduated from university, and she tried to… well, she was hospitalized for a while and then I moved back home to help because she couldn’t work and dad couldn’t support them both financially,” Jimin said, mostly looking at his plate, twirling his chopsticks in his food.

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung whispered.

 

That explained at least some of their financial problems. All the loans the Parks had taken from different banks, all the unpaid credit… And all the money they owed to Kang. Hospitalization and medication were expensive, but not as expensive as how much the Parks owed to the gang. It seemed that Jimin didn’t know anything about that, however.

 

“It’s okay. At least I got to spend more time with them, before…”

 

The rest of Jimin’s sentence faded into silence.

 

“My dad wasn’t big on cooking,” Taehyung said before he could think. Jimin looked at him, a hint of surprise on his face. He clearly had expected for Taehyung to open up without prompting as much as Taehyung had expected it himself.

“So, I just never learned because I didn’t find it important either.”

 

One more item on the list of things Taehyung had learned from his father.

 

“How about… your mom?” Jimin asked carefully. Taehyung had never even mentioned her, so Jimin probably had an idea of the importance of her in Taehyung’s life.

 

“She died giving birth to me,” Taehyung replied.

 

It was strange. He never talked about his mother. Not to anyone. Jungkook was the only one who knew what had happened to her. No one else had dared to ask.

 

“I’m so sorry,” Jimin breathed. Then he reached out, touching the back of Taehyung’s free hand with his fingertips.

 

Taehyung’s breath caught in his throat. He could feel the goosebumps running up his arm.

 

“It’s… uh, it’s okay. I mean, I never knew her so I can’t really be sad. Although I think my father always blamed me for her death, somehow.”

“Blamed you?” Jimin whispered, stroking Taehyung’s hand softly. Taehyung wasn’t sure if Jimin even realized he was doing it. “How could it even be your fault?”

“My dad was quite a… black-and-white person. Things were either good or bad. I think it was just his way of coping. I mean, I was kind of an easy target for his blame,” Taehyung said, letting out a dry chuckle.

 

Jimin looked shaken.

“He seems… seems to not have been a very pleasant man,” Jimin said quietly. Taehyung shrugged, concentrating on his food.

“Well, he was what he was. He was still my father.”

“Yeah, of course. Sorry.”

“Oh, it’s okay. I mean, you’re right, he wasn’t pleasant.”

 

Jimin smiled a little, pulling his hand away. Taehyung’s skin felt tingly.

 

“Well, I’m glad his son is. Pleasant, I mean,” Jimin hummed, continuing to eat, too. Taehyung coughed, almost inhaling his food. Jimin smiled to himself, not looking at Taehyung.

 

Jimin was constantly catching Taehyung off-guard, saying the most peculiar things.

 

“I could argue that you’re the only person who thinks that I’m pleasant,” Taehyung noted, glancing at Jimin from under his bangs.

“Hm. I may have to fight those other people, then,” Jimin said.

 

Taehyung almost dropped his chopsticks. He felt a gradual blush creep to his cheeks, which he tried to hide by looking down at his food again.

 

Taehyung started to think that Jimin was doing this on purpose – he had noticed that Taehyung got flustered easily and used it to his advantage.

 

The weirdest part was, though, that Taehyung was not a person who lost his composure very easily.

 

Only with Jimin.

 

*

 

“I think this was the best food I’ve ever eaten,” Taehyung said, when they were cleaning up the table. Jimin looked at him, surprised.

“Wow. That’s… I mean I know I’m a good cook, but I didn’t expect that,” Jimin chuckled, loading the plates to the dishwasher. Taehyung grinned a little.

“I’ve eaten in a lot of five-star places, but this beats them easily.”

“Well, I guess nothing can be better than homecooked,” Jimin smiled.

“You’re right about that.”

 

Taehyung handed Jimin the last empty pan from the table, and their fingers brushed against each other. The touch sent a warm wave throughout Taehyung’s body.

 

“Do you want a drink?” Taehyung asked, trying to clear his head.

“Sure,” Jimin replied, smiling again.

 

That smile.

 

It still made Taehyung wonder if there actually was some goodness in the world.

 

Angel.

 

Taehyung poured them glasses of soju, giving the other one to Jimin.

 

Quietly they moved to the living room, and Taehyung turned on his wireless speakers.

 

“Do you want to choose some music?” Taehyung asked, offering Jimin his phone. Jimin nodded enthusiastically and took the phone, and after scrolling for a while mellow piano music filled the room.

 

“I hope this is okay,” Jimin said, giving Taehyung back his phone. A clear-voiced vocalist started singing beautifully, and soon the piano was joined by other instruments.

“It’s nice,” Taehyung hummed, taking a sip of his soju. “I’ve never heard this before.”

“I used to dance to this. In university,” Jimin sighed, also drinking a little from his glass.

 

There it was again. The sadness. Taehyung didn’t know Jimin too well, but it was clear how much dancing meant to him.

 

Taehyung didn’t know why, but he desperately wanted for Jimin to have a chance to dance again. To pursue his passion. Even if everything was different. Even if his world was different.

 

“What kind of dance did you specialize in?” Taehyung asked, crossing his legs on the sofa. Jimin straightened up his, his toes grazing Taehyung’s knee.

“I did some contemporary but, in the end, specialized in modern dance. I tried some hip hop too, but I feel that modern gives you more freedom in a sense.”

“Have you performed?”

“I performed a lot at school, and we did a little tour with a small group of dancers during university.”

 

Jimin was talking quite calmly, but Taehyung could see a tiny spark in his eyes, when he spoke about dancing. It was like he was trying to contain himself, not letting himself get too excited.

 

“That sounds really cool. I’m happy you got to do that,” Taehyung said, drinking a little more from his glass than he’d meant to, grimacing at the bitter taste. Jimin chuckled slightly at his expression.

“Yeah, me too. It was always my dream to be on stage. At least I got to do that.”

 

Taehyung’s heart stung. He wanted to assure Jimin that he would get to do it again, but he couldn’t. He didn’t know what was going to happen.

 

And Jimin wouldn’t have believed him, anyway.

 

“So… you didn’t go to university, then?” Jimin asked a bit hesitantly.

“No,” Taehyung muttered, emptying his glass and setting it on the table. “I barely finished high school. University wasn’t even an option for me. Not that I would’ve even known what I wanted to study. I always knew my future was… this.”

 

Jimin took a breath that left unfinished.

 

“Couldn’t you choose for yourself? What if you would’ve wanted to do something else?”

 

“An option like that just didn’t exist. And it was fine with me. I didn’t know to question it.”

“You… never questioned it?”

 

Taehyung sighed, pulling his legs to his chest, further from Jimin.

“As I said before, I’m not a good person. This has always been my reality and it was not a problem for me. I don’t want you to think I’m somehow a saint ‘cause I helped you. I’ve done very bad things, Jimin. Even if… even if I might be questioning it now, it doesn’t take away my past.”

 

Taehyung’s voice was colder than he’d meant to. That didn’t startle Jimin, however.

 

“Taehyung,” Jimin said softly. He emptied his glass too, then easing nearer to Taehyung. Taehyung followed with a confused gaze as Jimin put his hands on his knees. Jimin was really close. Taehyung stared at him with wide eyes.

 

“You need to stop painting yourself as if you’re some horrible monster. The fact that you’re conscious about the bad things you’ve done makes you anything but. Your past doesn’t define you. You’re so much more than your actions.”

 

It was a rare occasion that Taehyung was rendered speechless. Most of the time he chose not to talk, but now he legitimately didn’t know what to say. His perplexed stare made Jimin giggle.

 

“The truth hurts, doesn’t it,” Jimin grinned.

“Are you a fucking Freud or something?” Taehyung breathed, trying to gather himself.

“Ew, no,” Jimin protested, scrunching his nose.

“Well, sorry, he’s the only psychologist guy that came to mind right now,” Taehyung snorted.

“He was a gross misogynist, Tae. You need to update your knowledge on psychology.”

 

Taehyung rolled his eyes. Jimin laughed a little, again. His laughter vibrated deep in Taehyung’s bones, warmth spreading throughout his body.

 

The song changed, and lingering violin tunes filled the room. Jimin perked up.

 

“Dance with me,” he said, getting up and offering his hand to Taehyung.

“What?”

“I want to dance. Come on,” Jimin prompted, taking Taehyung’s hand and pulling him to his feet.

 

Taehyung’s thoughts were lagging behind – maybe he was still concussed? Maybe he had gotten drunk from that one glass of soju? His cheeks felt hot and legs were trembling.

 

“I really don’t know how to dance,” Taehyung mumbled as Jimin led him to the side of the living room, where there was more floor space.

“Don’t worry. Just follow my lead,” Jimin smiled. He grabbed Taehyung’s wrist and placed his hand on his shoulder. Taehyung could feel Jimin’s bare skin under his palm because the stupid sweater had slid down again.

 

Taehyung wanted to grip Jimin’s shoulder tighter, and at the same time to push the man away. Jimin smelled like Taehyung’s shampoo. Jimin slid his hand to the small of Taehyung’s back. Taehyung could feel the touch even through his shirt and cardigan.

 

He wasn’t used to touches that gentle.

 

Taehyung rarely touched anyone, even Jungkook, whom he was close to. Jungkook sometimes forced his hugs on him, but he knew Taehyung didn’t care for touches.

 

His experiences of contact with other people weren’t particularly good.

 

His father had never been gentle, and if he had touched Taehyung, it had been a punishment. A hit. A beating. A slap.

 

If Taehyung had ever had sex with anyone, it had been more like fulfilling a purpose. A purpose for something Taehyung didn’t even know if he had wanted in the first place. There were no soft kisses or delicate touches. Just a means to an end.

 

But Jimin.

 

Jimin pulled Taehyung a little closer, taking his other hand.

 

“Just move with me,” Jimin whispered. He took a step back, and with a little press on his back got Taehyung to follow.

 

It wasn’t very difficult a dance, they were mostly just swaying to the music. At first Taehyung was scared of stepping on Jimin’s toes, but it ended up not being a problem.

 

They moved together naturally. Like their bodies were attuned to each other.

 

Taehyung’s muscles relaxed, and his stiff grip on Jimin’s shoulder softened. Taehyung inhaled Jimin’s warmth, forgetting for a moment that he wasn’t supposed to feel comfortable. Forgetting his mask.

 

Jimin’s hand climbed up Taehyung’s back, and then down again. Taehyung shivered.

 

The next song started playing, but neither of them noticed.

 

Jimin was suddenly a lot closer again, and soon he leaned his head against Taehyung’s shoulder, letting his body melt into Taehyung’s.

 

Taehyung held his breath.

 

His pulse was beating in his ears. He was sure Jimin could feel it.

 

Jimin hummed contentedly.

 

Taehyung willed his body to relax again.

 

Taehyung concentrated on Jimin’s warm, small hand that was holding his. On his calm breathing. On his hips that were pressed against Taehyung’s, still leading the movement.

 

Taehyung closed his eyes. He turned his head slightly. Jimin’s hair tickled his chin.

 

Maybe he could. Just a little.

 

Taehyung tilted his head more, letting his nose nuzzle into Jimin’s hair. He could hear Jimin hum again, the grip of his hand tightening on Taehyung’s back.

 

Like he was trying to hold Taehyung close.

 

It was scary.

 

Taehyung had never been this scared in his entire life.

 

Taehyung hoped the time would just stop. He wanted for the seconds to stop moving so that they wouldn’t have to.

 

But the world didn’t work that way.

 

The song changed once again. It was a fast-paced one, not particularly fit for slow-dance. Jimin stopped leading but didn’t pull away. Like he was clinging on to the last moments.

 

And maybe Taehyung was too.

 

They just stood there for a while, breathing each other in.

 

Finally, Jimin pulled away slightly, looking up at Taehyung.

“You dance well,” Jimin whispered, smiling.

 

A beam.

 

Taehyung blushed.

 

The corners of Jimin’s eyes crinkled cutely when he smiled. His skin looked more alive than before, the golden sheen of it reappearing. Taehyung could see the freckles clearer, little dots peppered on his nose. His lips looked soft.

 

“Uh,” Taehyung muttered, pulling further back. Jimin let go of him, his smile fading a little. The change was small, but Taehyung noticed.

 

“Um, I just realized we forgot to order the clothes for you today,” Taehyung said – the first thing that came to his mind.

“Oh. It’s okay.”

“Do you still wanna do it?”

“Uh. Sure. Why not.”

“Great. Let me get my laptop.”

 

Taehyung took a deep breath when he got further from Jimin. Being close to him had made Taehyung’s brain malfunction completely. Why had he even let Jimin that close? It couldn’t be good for either of them.

 

When Taehyung returned to the living room, Jimin was back sitting on the couch, and he had wrapped himself inside the same blanket that Taehyung had slept under the previous day.

 

“Are you cold?” Taehyung asked as he sat down. Jimin shrugged.

“We need to get you some warm clothes, then. Something to warm up your cold hands,” Taehyung said, scrolling through some sites.

“Maybe I should just get mittens?” Jimin suggested, grinning a bit.

“Let’s get you some Gucci diamond embroidered ones, then,” Taehyung chuckled.

“Does it have to be Gucci?” Jimin asked, scrunching his nose.

“I’ll have you know that it is the superior brand. But fine, which brand would you prefer?”

 

Jimin gnawed on his lip, eyes flicking through the screen.

“I mean, some basic H&M would be fine with me,” Jimin said hesitantly. “You don’t need to buy me some fancy clothes.”

“H&M? Do you think I’m some kind of a peasant? Of course, I’m buying you designer. Just pick what you want. Or I’m getting you Gucci.”

 

Jimin sighed.

“I don’t… I mean… It just feels weird. Like, those pants cost my month’s salary,” Jimin said, pointing at a pair of jeans on the screen. Taehyung glanced at him. Jimin really did look uneasy.

 

“Look,” Taehyung said quietly. “I know this situation is… well, difficult. And I just… If there’s even something small I can do for you to make you feel a bit better, I want to do it. And buying pretty clothes for you would make me feel better, too. And… I might not know how it feels like not to have money, but I understand why you’re hesitant. I just… I would gladly spend my money on you, if you’ll let me.”

 

Jimin bit his bottom lip, then leaning closer. Taehyung’s first instinct was to move further, but Jimin had to reach the computer which was on his lap.

“Fine. If it would make you happy.”

 

Taehyung didn’t want to think about what those words meant.

“It would,” he replied with a small smile. “Do you want me to suggest something or do you have ideas?”

Jimin glanced at him in a way that could only be described as a smirk.

“I do have opinions on designer brands even though I can’t afford them,” Jimin said, shooing Taehyung’s fingers off the trackpad. Taehyung looked as Jimin scrolled through the labels, clicking on one.

“Okay, then,” Taehyung chuckled. “Balenciaga it is.”

“They have pretty sweaters,” Jimin said, shrugging, as he clicked through the clothes. Taehyung hummed, his eyes wandering from the screen to the back of Jimin’s head, which was painfully close. He could see the shorter, darker hairs on the nape of Jimin’s neck. Taehyung tried to inhale through his mouth, forcing his gaze off.

 

“What do you say about Chanel?” Jimin asked grinning a little and turned to glimpse at Taehyung.

“Uh, it’s… good. Get what you want,” Taehyung stammered, his cheeks feeling hot.

 

He should go. He should leave and get further away from Jimin, get away and really start planning on his disappearance. His safety.

 

Because soon he wouldn’t be safe anymore. Not with Taehyung.

 

*

 

All the lights in Taehyung’s apartment were flickering. Taehyung walked through the hallway, his shadow jumping from wall to wall.

 

Jimin was sitting on the kitchen island, sipping soju. The man arched his brow, looking at Taehyung. He was wearing Taehyung’s sweater, but his legs were bare. Taehyung swallowed.

 

“There you are,” Jimin said, setting the glass down on the counter. He leaned back against his arms, parting his legs. His thighs were muscular and lean, his skin soft and glowing.

 

“What are you waiting for?” Jimin asked, cocking his head to the side.

 

Taehyung wanted to say something. Maybe ask what was going on. Maybe tell Jimin that he shouldn’t. That they shouldn’t.

 

Taehyung’s feet were moving without his prompt. A wry smile spread on Jimin’s lips. He measured Taehyung with his gaze, humming approvingly.

 

“Come here,” Jimin whispered, when Taehyung was about to leave some space between them. He reached his hand towards Taehyung’s, to grip on his arm and pull him between his legs.

 

“You smell delicious,” Jimin murmured, and Taehyung could feel Jimin nosing along his neck and the side of his face. Taehyung shivered. His legs felt weak.

 

“Touch me,” Jimin purred, grabbing Taehyung’s wrists and laying his hands on his thighs. Jimin’s skin felt hot and it was like static electricity popping under his fingers as Taehyung slid his hands up. His breath got caught in his throat. Jimin left feathery kisses on Taehyung’s neck, his finger curling to grip Taehyung’s shirt.

 

The lights were flickering more violently.

 

Jimin’s lips were roaming on Taehyung’s neck more hungrily, and the grip on his shirt tightened.

 

Taehyung breathed hard, his thoughts frazzled.

 

“Tae,” Jimin mumbled against Taehyung’s skin.

 

The lights went off.

 

Taehyung pushed Jimin to lay down on the island, bunching the sweater up to press his lips on Jimin’s stomach. He nipped on the flawless skin, enjoying as Jimin’s breathing quickened.

 

“Tae,” Jimin gasped.

 

Taehyung’s eyes flew open. He sat up on his bed, lightheaded and out of breath. There was a sheen of cold sweat on his skin, and a tight feeling at the bottom of his gut.

 

It was still dark outside, but the red digits of the clock told him that it was almost 6am.

 

Taehyung sighed, collapsing back down.

 

Then he realized.

 

Slowly Taehyung slid his hand under the duvet, taking a sharp breath as his fingers grazed over the bulge in his boxers.

 

Mortification spread throughout Taehyung’s body.

 

It might have been a normal thing for people in general, but not for him.

 

Arousal was a foreign feeling for him.

 

Taehyung had had sex in his life, multiple times, because he had thought that’s what you were supposed to do. And Jungkook had kept throwing around so many jokes about him not getting laid, that Taehyung had gotten fed up with that.

 

Taehyung had never enjoyed the sex. He had been able to go through with it, but always left feeling slightly emptier.

 

At some point it had gotten so uncomfortable that he had just stopped trying altogether. And he had been fine with that. It had already been a few years since the last time and Taehyung had not missed it at all.

 

Taehyung also very rarely had dreams like this. And if he did, he certainly did not wake up with a hard-on.

 

Taehyung squeezed his eyes shut.

 

Jimin.

 

Taehyung felt a faint jolt between his legs. He groaned, pulling the duvet over his face.

 

Why did he feel like this? Why did Jimin make him feel like this?

 

“Tae.”

 

Taehyung bit his lip, easing his hand back down slowly. He let out a breathless gasp as he rubbed over the bulge. His cheeks felt hot with shame.

 

Taehyung slid his hand inside his boxers, taking a silent breath.

 

It had been just a dream, but…

 

Jimin had felt so good. He did feel so good. Familiar. Safe .

 

What would it feel like to kiss Jimin?

 

Taehyung ran his fingers along his shaft softly, his hips jerking involuntarily to the touch. He moved his boxers down a little bit to get more space, trying to ignore the burning shame in his mind.

 

He wasn’t supposed to think of Jimin like that. Why did he?

 

The dream had felt so real. Taehyung could almost feel Jimin’s soft, plump lips on his neck again, making goosebumps spread throughout his arms.

 

It was hard to breathe under the blanket, but Taehyung did not want to see the real world. Not like this.

 

Taehyung tugged on his cock tighter, his pulse pumping in his ears.

 

Taehyung hadn’t touched himself in a long time, and it had definitely never felt this satisfying before. Taehyung’s face was burning as he quickened his pace.

 

Suddenly Taehyung heard a thump and some footsteps. He froze to his place, breathing hard. The footsteps passed his bedroom and then he could hear the bathroom door closing. After a moment the shower started running.

 

Jimin. Jimin was taking a shower.

 

Taehyung took a shaky breath. He should stop. He should stop and get up and take a freezing cold shower.

 

But somehow images of Jimin under the spray of water invaded his head. The droplets trickling down his lean body as his skin glistened with moisture. The steam enveloping him.

 

Taehyung started moving his fist again, the little leak of the precum making the glide easy.

 

What was wrong with him? He wasn’t like this. He didn’t think of things like this. Taehyung had always hated sexualizing as a concept and had mostly rolled his eyes on Jungkook’s lewd jokes. He had never understood them. Never felt an incessant need or an all-consuming red-hot craving for another person’s body. He had seen it happening – sometimes he had seen more than he’d wanted when it came to Jungkook and Yoongi – but he had never understood it. Taehyung hadn’t, however, thought that there was something wrong, he had just assumed that he was one of those people that weren’t interested in sex.

 

Until now.

 

Because right now, if Jimin would’ve come to his room and asked if he could touch him…

 

Taehyung would’ve said yes.

 

And that scared him more than anything.

 

Taehyung imagined Jimin’s hands on him. His lips on his skin. The weight of his body on him. His eyes when he smiled.

 

Angel.

 

Taehyung muffled his gasp into his pillow when he came.

 

He tried to catch his breath, mortification settling at the bottom of his stomach again.

 

He needed to get to the shower and wash away any proof of this ever happening.

 

And then get to work.

 

*

 

Taehyung straightened his shirt in front of the floor length mirror in his bedroom. He was stalling. He could hear Jimin making breakfast.

 

It was back to business once more with collared shirt and slacks. The cuts on his face still looked raw, and Taehyung knew they would eventually accompany a few other faint scars he already had on his face from being beaten up by his father.

 

Taehyung had called for a meeting with Jungkook and Yoongi in the afternoon. The things had to start moving.

 

After taking a deep breath he opened the door and stepped into the hallway. He could smell the deep aroma of coffee.

 

Taehyung glimpsed at the light bulbs at the ceiling. The lights looked alright. They were not flickering.

 

Taehyung stopped at the doorway when he saw Jimin. Immediately he sensed the familiar heat through his body.

 

“Oh, morning,” Jimin smiled. He was blushing a little when he noticed Taehyung’s gaze dropping to his legs.

“Uh, I’m sorry. The sweatpants I was wearing started feeling a bit gross. And I didn’t want to bother you,” Jimin said sheepishly.

 

Taehyung tried to remind himself to breathe.

 

Jimin was wearing his huge t-shirt and the sweater on top of it, but alas, no pants. The shirt reached the middle of Jimin’s thighs but not much further.

 

“Um, it’s… okay,” Taehyung stuttered, his voice breaking. He coughed slightly, forcing himself to look away.

“I can… get you some other pants until you get the clothes we ordered.”

 

“Okay. Thank you,” Jimin replied, smiling again. “Do you want breakfast?”

 

“I think I will settle for coffee. I need to get to work,” Taehyung muttered, evading Jimin’s eyes. “Jungkook and Yoongi will come later. We need to talk about your situation.”

 

“Oh,” Jimin breathed. “Yeah. Okay. Of course.”

 

“We need to start the process. Only making new ID’s takes a while already, not to mention finding an actually safe location for you,” Taehyung kept talking as he poured himself coffee. Jimin stepped a bit further from Taehyung.

 

“Yeah,” Jimin said, his tone so flat that it made something break inside Taehyung.

 

He dared to glimpse at Jimin quickly.

 

Jimin’s eyes were empty, looking nowhere.

 

Dark clouds covered the beam.

 

There was only shadow.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Taehyung couldn’t concentrate.

 

Jungkook and Yoongi were arriving soon, and Taehyung was supposed to be making an outline of the plan on how to protect Jimin.

 

He needed to get his head back in the game. The longer Jimin stayed with him, the bigger the risk was that someone would find out. Jimin’s safety was the first priority.

 

Not the fact that the thought of sending Jimin away made Taehyung’s throat constrict and his stomach knot.

 

He shouldn’t have been thinking of the fact that once Jimin was gone, he would never see him again. That was how it was supposed to be. It was, in the end, Taehyung’s fault that Jimin was in danger. It was Taehyung’s fault that Jimin didn’t have a family anymore. That he was alone.

 

But he wasn’t alone.

 

Taehyung shook his head, as if trying to drop his thoughts out.

 

It had never been this hard for him to rebuild his walls. To paint over the cracks on his mask. Jimin had broken it to pieces. Jimin had broken it for good.

 

Weak.

 

Taehyung forced himself to take a deep breath before he got up from his desk. He picked up his coffee cup and made his way out of his office. Jimin was sitting on the couch, once again, now with the laptop Taehyung had given him. Jimin looked at him quickly but moved his gaze back on the screen before Taehyung could look back.

 

Taehyung knew Jimin was scared. He would’ve been too. But Taehyung had to do it, to get him out of the city, for his safety.

 

As much as he didn’t want to let Jimin go.

 

Taehyung rinsed his coffee cup and put it in the dishwasher.

 

The kitchen light flickered.

 

Taehyung startled, turning to look at the ceiling. The bulb was gleaming normally, emanating its warm light to the room.

 

Maybe he was going crazy.

 

The tell-tale beeping of the door interrupted Taehyung’s thoughts.

 

“No need to pull out your gun, it’s just us!” Jungkook chimed from the entrance. Taehyung rolled his eyes.

“I think you’re especially the ones that the gun’s needed for,” Taehyung grumbled as Jungkook appeared to the living room with Yoongi.

 

“Hey, Jimin,” Yoongi greeted. Jimin looked up from the screen and gave Yoongi a small smile.

“Hi.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes darted between Taehyung, who had moved to their side of the kitchen island, and Jimin, who was looking down again. Jungkook frowned.

 

“What’s going on?” Jungkook asked. Taehyung cursed inside his mind.

“Let’s talk in my office. Alone,” Taehyung said, then glancing at Yoongi. “Yoongi, join us in a few minutes, will you?”

 

Yoongi nodded, and Taehyung had to wait for Jungkook to leave a lingering kiss on Yoongi’s lips before following him.

 

“So, what have you fucked up now?” Jungkook snickered, sitting at Taehyung’s desk chair and spinning it around. Taehyung sighed.

“Nothing.”

“Really, nothing?” Jungkook hummed, disbelieving. “So, what was all that sexual tension in the air that I just felt?”

 

Taehyung almost choked on his spit.

“Wh-what?” he coughed and, of course, made Jungkook laugh.

“I’m just joking, but good to know that I was right. Did something happen?”

 

Taehyung sighed again.

“No. Or, not really.”

 

Jungkook arched his brow, urging Taehyung to continue.

 

“We, uh… Jimin wanted to dance last night. So, we danced. A little.”

“Saucy,” Jungkook snorted. Taehyung scoffed.

“Well, as I said, it was nothing.”

“For real? You just… danced?”

“Yes, and already that was too much. Jimin is in a vulnerable position and clings into any feeling of safety he can get. It’s nothing more than that. And it’s not going to be. We really need to start getting together a plan on how to keep Jimin safe and get him out of this city for good.”

 

Jungkook opened his mouth to say something, but then closed it again.

 

“What?” Taehyung asked, already annoyed.

 

Jungkook looked back at Taehyung. He wasn’t smirking anymore.

 

“I just don’t want you to break yourself, Tae-Tae,” Jungkook said quietly. Taehyung furrowed his brows.

“I’ve been in worse situations, Kook.”

 

Jungkook inhaled.

“Are you sure?”

 

Taehyung couldn’t answer. His heart tried to pang pitifully.

 

There was a knock on the door, and Yoongi peeked in.

 

“Come in,” Taehyung said, leaning against his desk. Yoongi closed the door behind him, crossing his arms.

 

“So, I know it’s really not my place,” Yoongi said, looking at Taehyung. “But have you said something to Jimin? He seemed… really sad. In a different way than before.”

“Since when have you become best friends?” Jungkook asked. Yoongi smiled wryly.

“I haven’t said anything. I just told him that we need to start planning. I want him to be safe,” Taehyung said.

“Hm,” Yoongi hummed. Taehyung huffed.

“Is it wrong that I said that?”

“No, of course not. It’s the truth, boss. But it explains why he’s sad.”

“Does it?”

 

“Well, even if he’s sad or not, we do need to plan,” Jungkook interrupted. Taehyung was thankful. His stomach churned uncomfortably. He didn’t want Jimin to be sad.

“So, do you have one, Tae?”

 

Taehyung forced himself to focus.

“A vague one. First we need to start getting him new ID’s since it takes a while.”

“Yeah. The new guy is slow.”

“Mh-m. And I need for you to do some research. Basically, places where we could send him. Just. Somewhere safe and distant enough, but nothing too rural. I don’t think he would like that. And I might need one of you to accompany him there once everything’s ready. Just that we can make sure everything is safe. Then we need to make sure Kang doesn’t get even the tiniest hint that something’s going on. We need to be as inconspicuous as possible. Hoseok can help with that. And we need to continue the work as normal.”

 

Jungkook and Yoongi glimpsed at each other and nodded.

“I can start with the ID’s. We need to take pictures and get all the information to the guy,” Yoongi said.

“We can do it tomorrow or the day after,” Taehyung replied.

“I’ll check out some places,” Jungkook said, getting up from the chair. “I have a few ideas.”

 

Taehyung was quiet for a moment.

“Okay. Thank you. I know this is a lot of extra work for you.”

“We’d do anything for you, Tae-Tae, you know that,” Jungkook grinned.

“You’re weird. But I’m still grateful.”

 

“Just one thing,” Yoongi said, looking at Taehyung again. “Jimin seems a bit… anxious, being inside all the time. I don’t think he’s used it. Is there any way he could go outside, even just a little?”

 

To be honest, Taehyung had thought that, too. He had thought about it a lot. Anyone would get anxious being inside that long.

“Yeah. I think I can make it work, somehow. We just need to be very careful.”

 

Taehyung felt uneasy. He wanted for Jimin to be safe. He wanted for Jimin to be happy. And all he was doing was making his life more difficult. Making him sad. Making him anxious.

 

Jimin deserved so much more. The faster he would get away from Taehyung, the better.

 

Taehyung was too used to destroying. He didn’t know how to put things back together.

 

*

 

Taehyung had stayed in his office for the rest of the day. Jimin was clearly in a similar headspace – he’d gone to the guest bedroom and Taehyung had only heard him go to the bathroom and the fridge a few times. The doorbell rang once; it was probably Jimin’s clothes.

 

They were avoiding each other.

 

Taehyung should’ve been happy. It should’ve been easier.

 

But Taehyung felt Jimin’s presence. Even when he was locked up inside his office.

 

Yoongi’s words were haunting Taehyung.

 

It explains why he is sad.

 

Taehyung knew that Jimin felt safe with him. He wasn’t stupid. But he also knew that it was human nature to cling onto something that felt the safest. Taehyung was protecting Jimin, so of course Jimin wanted to stay with him. He was going to end up in an entirely new place alone.

 

Loneliness was scary. Even scarier than the fear of death.

 

But Jimin couldn’t stay. The longer he stayed, the more he would become attached.

 

And the harder it would be to let go.

 

Taehyung wasn’t sure if he was thinking of himself or Jimin, anymore.

 

Taehyung couldn’t sleep. He was scared of dreaming. Scared of having thoughts about Jimin.

 

Therefore, he ended up getting up before six, taking a long shower and getting dressed.

 

Jimin wasn’t in the kitchen like usually, even though Taehyung could hear him being awake in the guest room. Taehyung loaded up the coffee machine, leaning against the counter to wait for the coffee to brew.

 

Taehyung could hear the guest room’s door open. He was sure Jimin would go to the shower or somewhere else, but with silent steps he appeared in the doorway.

 

Taehyung wasn’t prepared.

 

He definitely wasn’t prepared.

 

Jimin was still wearing Taehyung’s big t-shirt that he slept in. His hair was disheveled. He wasn’t wearing pants.

 

He looked lost.

 

Jimin stopped at the doorway. Taehyung swallowed.

 

“Morning,” Jimin said quietly, not looking directly at Taehyung. He was fumbling with the hem of his shirt.

 

“Do you wanna go outside today?” Taehyung blurted before he had time to think. Jimin’s eyes darted to him, surprised.

“What?” he asked, looking confused. Taehyung inhaled, biting his lip.

“Uh… well, you’ve been inside for like a week. I just… I thought if you’d like to… go for a walk or something.”

 

Jimin stared at Taehyung.

“But… I thought that the point was that I can’t go outside.”

 

“Yeah, I know,” Taehyung sighed. “I just… well, I know it’s difficult for you. So, I thought you’d maybe like to go outside, at least for a while. We’d have to wear masks and try to disguise you as best as we can, but… I-I just don’t want you to feel anxious. I know it’s hard to be inside all the time and… if there’s any way I can make you feel better I want to.”

 

“I…” Jimin seemed to be lost word words. He let go of the hem of his shirt.

 

The kitchen light flickered.

 

They both turned to look.

 

“Uh,” Jimin said quietly, turning his eyes back at Taehyung. “If… if it’s possible, I’d love to go outside. Even if it’s just for a little while.”

 

Taehyung nodded, smiling a little.

 

Jimin looked at him, his expression unclear.

 

Taehyung’s heart jolted painfully.

 

It felt like he had lost Jimin slightly. Like he didn’t trust Taehyung as much, anymore.

 

*

 

“Are you ready?” Taehyung asked, when Jimin stepped out of the guest bedroom.

“Yeah,” Jimin replied quietly. Taehyung turned to glance at him. The quick look turned into a double take.

 

Jimin was wearing a black sweater, tight jeans, a black newsboy cap with a black mask to match. He had a belt with the Chanel logo on it, and he was holding sunglasses in his hand. His hair was parted from the side, falling to his face. Taehyung’s breath got caught in his throat.

 

Jimin had always looked good. Cute. But this…

 

Taehyung swallowed.

 

“I… I asked Hoseok to shadow us a little. Just to see if someone’s following and stuff,” Taehyung rasped, trying to will the gradual blush on his cheeks to go down.

 

There was a weird bubbling feeling in his stomach.

 

“Okay,” Jimin said, giving Taehyung a small smile.

 

“You look, uh…” Taehyung stammered, looking down. “The clothes seem to fit well.”

“Thanks, I guess,” Jimin replied, chuckling slightly. He came closer and ran his fingers on the lapel of Taehyung’s long coat.

“You look nice, too,” Jimin whispered. Taehyung pulled his mask over his mouth and nose to cover the heat of his cheeks.

 

“Well, uh, s-should we go then,” Taehyung stuttered, turning his eyes away from Jimin.

 

They were quiet on their way down. Hoseok was waiting at the street, leaning against his car. Taehyung nodded at him, stopping with Jimin.

 

“Umm, are there any specific places where you want to go?” Taehyung asked. “We can take the car or walk, however you like.”

“Let’s walk,” Jimin said. His choice didn’t surprise Taehyung – he had been holed up inside for quite a while. Hoseok started following them, keeping his distance.

 

“What do you usually do when you go out?” Jimin asked, pulling his mask down from over his nose to breathe in the fresh, albeit polluted, air.

 

“Uh, to be honest, I rarely go out. And if I do it’s usually for work,” Taehyung said, looking at somewhere in the distance. “So, I don’t even really know what there is to do.”

 

“Really? You never go out for fun? Like, just for a walk or something?” Jimin sounded surprised. Taehyung shrugged.

“Do you really… always just work? Don’t you have any free time?” Jimin inquired, sounding a bit sad.

 

Taehyung glimpsed at him. Their gazes met, and it made his stomach swoop.

 

“I… I mean, I guess I play video games. And I used to like photography when I was younger, but I haven’t done that in years.”

“Photography? Really? That’s cool.”

“Well, I probably couldn’t do that anymore,” Taehyung muttered.

“That’s bullshit,” Jimin said. He pushed for Taehyung to stop and jolted a bit further. “Take a picture of me!”

“What?”

“You heard me. Come on.”

 

Taehyung sighed, but pulled out his phone. He opened the camera and framed Jimin in the picture. He was standing in the middle of the street, and despite his all-black outfit looked like the source of all light.

 

A beam.

 

“Do a pose,” Taehyung prompted. Jimin giggled, but then struck a few cute poses as Taehyung snapped pictures.

“Did you get good ones?” Jimin asked, striding back to Taehyung.

“Would it even be possible to get a bad picture of you?” Taehyung chuckled before he could think. He could feel himself blush.

 

But maybe it was worth it. Because the smile that Jimin gave him was so warm that it could’ve been the sole reason for climate change.

 

“I know where we could go,” Jimin said as Taehyung pocketed his phone again.

“Oh?”

 

Jimin nodded, then glancing at Taehyung’s hand. With quiet apprehension he touched Taehyung’s palm, and then softly interlaced their fingers.

 

Taehyung stopped breathing for a second. Jimin smiled at him again, tugging him to the direction of the crosswalk. Taehyung looked back – Hoseok was following them about a hundred meters away, seemingly scrolling his phone.

 

The pedestrian lights turned green, and Taehyung had to focus on walking again. Jimin’s hand was comfortably cool, his touch soft and electric.

 

Taehyung felt like a teenager, getting tingles from holding hands.

 

“Where are we going?” Taehyung asked to get his thoughts elsewhere from Jimin’s touch.

“There’s this nice park a few blocks from here,” Jimin said, turning to look at the sky. It was a cloudy day, but the sun speckled a few rays through the clouds.

“You haven’t gone there?”

“No,” Taehyung muttered.

“Well, it’s a cute park. There’s a pond and some ducks. And we can get some ice cream,” Jimin told, a feathery smile on his lips.

 

Pond. Ducks. Ice cream.

 

Taehyung felt like he was in some parallel universe. He didn’t go to parks. He didn’t eat ice cream.

 

He was usually alone.

 

Jimin squeezed Taehyung’s hand.

“I came here a few times with my mom,” Jimin said, when they crossed the last road to get to the edge of the park. “When I was in university and came to visit my parents in the summer.”

 

Jimin’s parents.

 

It was difficult to breathe. Taehyung only nodded, following Jimin to the park.

 

The grass was a gentle shade of green, and gravel roads crisscrossed around the gleaming pond. There were some people strolling around, but not many, since it was only morning. Some ducks were nestled in the grass, bathing in the sparse sunbeams.

 

Taehyung glimpsed at Jimin, who was looking at the ducks. Jimin had pulled the mask back on and Taehyung couldn’t see his mouth, but he could see that Jimin was smiling.

 

“Isn’t it a cute place?” Jimin hummed.

“Yeah,” Taehyung breathed, his eyes wandering on the part of Jimin’s face that he could see. Jimin turned to look at him.

“Do you want ice cream?” Jimin asked, stepping a bit closer. He was really close. Taehyung could see the freckles on his nose again. And the little flush on his cheeks that peeked under his mask.

“Uh, sure,” Taehyung whispered, his voice gone.

 

Jimin’s eyes crinkled into a smile again, and he started leading Taehyung towards an ice cream stall that was further at the side of the pond.

 

“Which flavor do you want?” Jimin asked, eyeing the list of flavors.

“Um, I’ll take what you take,” Taehyung replied. Jimin rolled his eyes, but turned to the vendor, ordering them both vanilla. Taehyung paid for the cones, looking at his ice cream apprehensively. Jimin snorted.

“Okay, I’m starting to actually believe that you never go outside,” Jimin grinned, taking Taehyung’s hand again.

 

It still felt strange. But nice. Comfortable.

 

“Let’s go see the ducks,” Jimin said, tugging Taehyung with him again. Taehyung followed, glimpsing at the side of the park. Hoseok had sat down on a bench, keeping an eye on them.

 

Taehyung didn’t know what Hoseok thought. About the situation overall. About them holding hands.

 

About Jimin.

 

“Oh, look, they’re sleeping,” Jimin sighed, stepping to the grass. He let go of Taehyung’s hand, crouching down and pulling down his mask.

“They look so peaceful,” Jimin hummed.

 

Taehyung stood further, looking at Jimin. He took a shaky breath. Jimin was looking at the sleeping ducks, chuckling a little when one got up and came closer, interested in his ice cream. Jimin broke off a part of his cone, tossing the piece of waffle to the duck.

 

The clouds floated over the sun, casting a shadow over the park.

 

There was a surge of warmth churning throughout Taehyung’s body.

 

It was like he was seeing Jimin for the very first time. Really seeing.

 

Jimin was broken. He was beautiful. He was gentle.

 

He was vulnerable.

 

He was honest.

 

He was trusting.

 

Jimin believed in the good.

 

Jimin loved. Jimin loved unconditionally.

 

Jimin didn’t think Taehyung was a monster.

 

“Taehyung?”

 

Taehyung took another, sharp breath. Jimin had turned to look at him, his brows furrowed. He got up to his feet.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah. I’m fine,” Taehyung said tightly.

“Don’t you like your ice cream?” Jimin asked, walking back to him. Taehyung turned to look at his cone. He had forgotten it.

“Oh, I haven’t tasted it yet.”

 

Jimin chuckled a little. He took a bite of his ice cream and then reached to pull Taehyung’s mask down. He pushed his cone to Taehyung’s face.

“Have a taste of mine.”

“You have the same flavor,” Taehyung pointed out.

“But you clearly don’t like yours, so,” Jimin grinned. Taehyung rolled his eyes, but then leaned closer, nipping on the cone. He felt the ball of ice cream graze the tip of his nose.

 

“Oh, sorry,” Jimin giggled. He stepped closer, swiping his thumb over Taehyung’s nose and then putting it to his mouth.

 

It felt like oxygen didn’t reach Taehyung’s lungs. Goosebumps were running down his neck to his back.

 

“So, was it good?” Jimin asked, a small smirk quivering on his lips. He licked his ice cream again, Taehyung’s eyes following the movement.

 

He was doing this on purpose.

 

He was doing all of this on purpose.

 

“It’s fine,” Taehyung said, finally taking a bite of his own ice cream. Jimin smiled.

 

“Hoseok doesn’t look too amused out there,” Jimin noted, nodding at Hoseok’s direction.

“He doesn’t have to be amused, I’m paying him for this,” Taehyung hummed. Jimin chuckled. He turned to look at the ducks again.

 

“Thank you,” Jimin said after a moment of quiet.

“For what?”

“For making this happen. Taking me outside. It’s… it’s nice to breathe some fresh air. To… see the outside world. It helps me forget.”

 

The warm swelling inside Taehyung turned scorching hot, burning his heart.

 

Weak.

 

“It gets a bit easier. As the time goes by,” Taehyung said quietly, the guilt making him nauseous. Jimin hummed. His fingers brushed Taehyung’s.

 

This time Taehyung took Jimin’s hand.

 

He could hear Jimin inhale.

 

Jimin gripped his hand tighter.

 

It was warm again.

 

*

 

Taehyung had known all along, that he was making a mistake. The biggest mistake of his life.

 

What was different now, however, was that Taehyung didn’t regret helping Jimin. He didn’t wish he could go back in time and do it all differently.

 

Taehyung couldn’t imagine a life where he didn’t know Jimin. Taehyung couldn’t imagine himself without knowing Jimin.

 

The fatal mistake was that he had let the mask crumble. He had let Jimin in and now Taehyung was trapped inside together with him.

 

And Jimin was trapped.

 

Jimin’s life had been destroyed because of him, and Taehyung was endangering him even more by feeling .

 

Weak.

 

Weakweakweak.

 

He had steered them blindfolded and now they were hanging off a noose.

 

And the noose tightened more and more day by day.

 

Taehyung had hardly slept again. After the stroll in the park, he had escaped to his office to work, which had mostly meant him staring at his computer screen, thinking when the noose would end up cracking their necks. After falling asleep at his desk he’d dragged himself to bed, just to wake up every hour from a nightmare.

 

So, he was, once more, making coffee in the kitchen at 6am. He was still wearing his pajamas and was leaning against the counter half-asleep.

 

“It feels like you’re waking up earlier every morning.”

 

Jimin’s voice startled Taehyung. He turned around and was met with a softly smiling Jimin, who was also in his sleep shirt, but this time he was wearing sweatpants, to the relief of Taehyung.

 

“I couldn’t really sleep,” Taehyung mumbled, taking two cups from the cupboard.

“So, you’re sleeping here, standing up?” Jimin grinned, walking around the kitchen island to Taehyung’s side.

“Well, I take what I can get,” Taehyung muttered. He was exhausted, but he could still feel his skin prickling when Jimin was this close.

 

Jimin took the milk carton from the fridge, then moving to lean against the island, opposite Taehyung.

 

It was impossible for Taehyung not to look at Jimin.

 

Jimin’s face was still a bit puffy from sleep, and his hair was an adorably fluffy mess. His skin had lost the translucency and was glowing golden, and his eyes weren’t red rimmed anymore like they had been. Jimin started smiling, and Taehyung’s eyes dropped to his lips. They still looked soft. Beautiful. Taehyung’s skin startled tingling even more, and he tore his gaze away.

 

“So, are Yoongi and Jungkook coming today?” Jimin asked, his tone so nonchalant that there was no way he hadn’t noticed Taehyung staring.

“Yeah,” Taehyung said quietly, trying to gather himself. He took a deep breath and turned to the coffee maker, grabbing the pot and started pouring the elixir of life into the cups.

“They’re coming to take pictures of you for the new ID’s,” Taehyung continued, offering the other cup to Jimin. Jimin hummed in acknowledgement, pouring some milk to his coffee.

“So, I need to look presentable?” Jimin stated rather than asked. Taehyung stopped himself from saying anything stupid.

 

“Jungkook said he’d do research on the places you could go,” Taehyung said, keeping his eyes on his coffee.

“Not anywhere cold, hopefully,” Jimin replied, taking a sip from his cup. “Or I might actually need those Gucci mittens.”

 

Taehyung glanced at Jimin. He was talking about leaving awfully lightly. The logical part of Taehyung’s brain tried to remind him that it was probably a coping mechanism for Jimin to stand the idea of leaving, but the nonsensical part told Taehyung that Jimin had noticed his feelings and wanted to get away from him.

 

“I’ll make sure to tell Kook that,” Taehyung said. Jimin smiled a little, again.

 

Taehyung heard his phone chime in his bedroom. He sighed, and after throwing an apologetic look at Jimin’s direction, escaped from the kitchen.

 

Taehyung set his coffee cup on a nightstand, sitting down at the edge of the bed.

 

His heart dropped when he saw the name on the screen.

 

Kang.

 

‘We need to meet. Tomorrow at noon. Come alone.’

 

Taehyung stopped breathing.

 

We need to meet.

 

Did Kang know? Did he know about Jimin?

 

He couldn’t have. They would be dead if he did. Kang didn’t usually enjoy dragging out work if he didn’t have to.

 

It was a normal message. He probably had a job for Taehyung. A job that was more discreet and couldn’t be discussed over the phone. It wasn’t the first time for something like that.

 

But.

 

Taehyung felt fear shuddering him.

 

He had made a fatal mistake.

 

*

 

Jimin was standing in front of a white wall in Taehyung’s living room, and Yoongi was framing him with the camera. Taehyung was further with Jungkook, leaning against the back of the couch, stiff as a block.

 

“I’ll deliver these pictures when I’m done,” Yoongi said, pressing the shutter. “It’s gonna take a while to get the ID’s done, though.”

“Yeah,” Jungkook sighed, crossing his arms. “I miss Namjoon.”

“Who’s that?” Jimin inquired, trying to stay still for the photos.

“He’s the guy who used to do these ID things for us,” Taehyung said, his tone flat.

 

Jimin glimpsed at him, frowning.

“Used to? What happened to him?”

“He disappeared six months ago,” Yoongi muttered, gesturing for Jimin to be still and keep his expression neutral.

 

“He fell in love,” Jungkook snickered. Taehyung scoffed. Jimin looked at them, wide-eyed.

 

“Yeah, he went and fell in love with one of Kang’s boytoys. And then they both disappeared. Dead, I imagine,” Taehyung said. Jungkook furrowed his brows, nudging at Taehyung with his elbow.

“He wasn’t just some random boytoy. Seokjin was our friend.”

 

“Exactly,” Taehyung said coldly after a moment of quiet. “Two of our friends fucked up, and now they’re not here anymore. That’s what you get.”

 

“Always the romantic, Taehyung,” Jungkook huffed, rolling his eyes. “What if they really got away and are now somewhere together, happy?”

 

Taehyung scoffed.

“I do think they’re together somewhere. Hopefully buried nicely and not just tossed in some ditch, but I doubt it.”

“Tae…” Jungkook tried, but Taehyung interrupted him.

“Don’t ‘Tae’ me, you know as fucking well as me that it’s true. If you let yourself slip and get fucked up with feelings, it’ll just screw everything up. You’re not only risking your own life but others’ as well. And it’s all your fault.”

 

Taehyung felt his insides boiling with anxiety. He didn’t look at anyone. He pushed himself off the back of the couch and started making his way towards his office with hurried steps.

 

It was all way too much, he didn’t know how to handle the feelings he had, wasn’t used to it, and that’s why he was jeopardizing everything.

 

He was already proving his point by snapping like that. Saying those things out loud. Unraveling.

 

Taehyung’s thoughts were running in endless circles. He closed the door behind him and slouched down at his desk, just trying to concentrate on breathing.

 

He was a mess.

 

He shouldn’t have said those things.

 

It certainly was not going to ease Jimin’s mind that he had basically said there was no running from Kang.

 

Taehyung gripped the edge of the desk, his knuckles white. It wasn’t any easier to breathe, Taehyung felt hot and cold at the same time, and the edges of his vision were darkening.

 

Panicking didn’t help anyone. It didn’t make the situation easier. Not for him and not for anyone else.

 

Still.

 

Taehyung took a choked breath, tears prickling in the corners of his eyes.

 

There was a knock on the door, and before Taehyung had time to answer, Jungkook slipped in.

 

Jungkook looked like he was about to say something, but then his expression turned worried.

 

“Tae-Tae?”

 

Jungkook hurried to Taehyung, crouching down in front of him.

“Hey, it’s okay,” Jungkook said with a calm voice. He pried Taehyung’s hands off the table and took them in his tight grip.

“Just breathe, everything’s okay.”

 

“B-but it’s not,” Taehyung stuttered, trying to hold back the tears. Crying made him nauseous.

 

His father had always slapped him if he had cried. 

 

Men don’t cry, Taehyung. Do you want to be weak and pathetic, or strong and confident? Crying means you don’t have control of your feelings. Crying means that you’re nothing, and people will notice that. Take advantage. And then you end up dead.

 

“Taehyung, look at me,” Jungkook whispered, trying to find Taehyung’s gaze. There were too many tears. Taehyung couldn’t hold them back. He sniffled, letting out a quiet sob. He felt like he wanted to puke, squeezing Jungkook’s hands tightly. It was so cold.

 

“Breathe with me, Tae-Tae,” Jungkook said. “Don’t hold back. It won’t make it easier.”

“B-but I’ve f-fucked up everything,” Taehyung stuttered. “I-it’s… I shouldn’t have…”

“You haven’t fucked up anything. You’re making things better. You’re doing all you can.”

“But it’s n-not enough!” Taehyung sobbed, another burst of tears streaming down his face. “J-Jimin is… I… I-I’m weak, Kookie.”

 

Jungkook let go of Taehyung’s hands and cupped his cheeks, wiping his tears with his thumbs.

“You’re not weak, Taehyungie. You’re the strongest person I’ve ever known. Don’t ever let yourself believe otherwise.”

 

But Taehyung did believe. He had always been weak. He had just been very good at hiding it. His father had been very good at beating it out of him.

 

Jungkook pulled his face closer, pressing their foreheads together.

“We’re gonna get through this, okay? Like we’ve gotten through everything before. We’re not gonna let anything happen to Jimin,” Jungkook whispered.

“I…” Taehyung sniffled, trying to breathe through his tears. “I’ve fucked up so bad, Kook.”

 

“You’ve not fucked up,” Jungkook said, pulling away so that he could wipe Taehyung’s face with his sleeve. Jungkook swept some of his hair from his forehead and smiled a little.

“Love is not fucking up. I know you maybe don’t believe it, but it’s not.”

 

Taehyung took a shaky breath. His heart was still beating fast, but breathing was easier.

 

“It might be risky, but isn’t our life risky anyway? You just can’t let it hold you back forever.”

“B-but if it endangers everyone’s lives… it’s… it’s always bad.”

“Do you think what I have with Yoongi is bad?”

 

Taehyung opened his mouth to reply, but then closed it. Jungkook smiled again.

 

“Exactly. You have a tendency to concentrate on the bad side of things, Tae-Tae. What if you let yourself feel, for once? What if you let yourself try what happiness feels like? Would that be so bad?”

 

“When have you become this soppy,” Taehyung grumbled, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. Jungkook chuckled.

“Since I’ve been in love. You should try it,” Jungkook grinned, squeezing Taehyung’s cheek with his fingers. Taehyung shooed Jungkook’s hand away.

 

“It probably wasn’t very helpful for Jimin to hear what I said,” Taehyung sighed.

“He’ll understand. You just need to talk to him. Really talk.”

 

Taehyung inhaled fragmentarily, and then nodded.

 

He knew he had to talk to Jimin.

 

He just didn’t know what to say.

 

*

 

 

“I never thought you would be this much of a disappointment, Taehyung.”

 

His father was sitting on a chair made of thorns that were slowly moving, as if they were alive.

 

Everything was so bright. A blinding, scorching light filled the room, tens of spotlights directed straight at Taehyung.

 

He was sitting on the cold floor.

 

He had Jungkook’s toy gun, the one he had broken.

 

“Do you know what happens to weak people, Taehyung?”

 

Taehyung breathed shakily, unable to move.

 

“T-they s-suffer?”

“Yes, they suffer. And they can only blame themselves.”

 

“No!”

 

Taehyung turned his head to the direction of the scream. It was Jimin. He was being dragged into the room by his hair. It was Namjoon, who was doing that.

 

“See, Taehyung?” his father said, getting up. He pulled a gun from his belt, pointing it towards Jimin.

“P-please don’t,” Taehyung cried. Namjoon kicked Jimin in the chest.

 

“Weakness, Taehyung,” his father said coldly and pulled the trigger.

 

Taehyung screamed. He screamed so much it burned his lungs. He screamed so loud he tasted blood.

 

Jimin’s lifeless eyes looked back at him.

 

Suddenly his father’s fingers wrapped around his throat. Taehyung tried to struggle, but he didn’t have any strength.

 

“Love makes you useless.”

 

His father tightened his grip. Taehyung was coughing, unable to breathe.

 

“You know what happens when you’re useless?”

 

Taehyung gasped for air, trying to pry his father’s hand away to no avail.

 

“Taehyung.”

 

He couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t…

 

“Taehyung!”

 

Jimin was dead.

 

“Taehyung!”

 

Taehyung’s eyes snapped open. He choked on air, his entire body shaking. He could feel the struggle of the dream inside his bones, vibrating throughout him.

 

Taehyung’s head was spinning, his vision clouded by vertigo.

 

“T-Tae?”

 

Taehyung gasped.

 

He realized he was holding on to Jimin’s wrists very tightly, and had almost pushed him against the head of his bed.

 

Taehyung’s eyes widened, and he let go quickly, stumbling to get further from Jimin.

 

“Shit, I’m so sorry,” Taehyung stammered, almost falling from the bed in an attempt to get as far as possible. “I-I’m sorry, I don’t…”

 

“Hey,” Jimin said, straightening up fast. “It’s okay. It’s fine. It was a nightmare.”

 

Taehyung still struggled to breathe, and his vision was blurry.

 

Soon he realized that it was tears. Tears were blurring his eyes.

 

“N-no, I…” Taehyung stuttered sniffling, his hands shaking.

 

He couldn’t get Jimin’s lifeless gaze from his head.

 

“Taehyung,” Jimin said calmly and then moved a little closer hesitantly. “It’s alright. Just breathe.”

 

Taehyung tried to inhale, but he felt like he was choking on his own tears. Jimin looked very worried, and apparently decided to stop being careful, since he slid even closer and wrapped his arms around Taehyung, pulling him to his chest.

 

“I’m here,” Jimin whispered into Taehyung’s hair. “It was a nightmare. You’re okay.”

 

Taehyung let out a small sob, pressing closer to Jimin. He was so warm, smelled so comforting. It was too good, too nice, Taehyung didn’t deserve it.

 

“I’m j-just gonna get you killed,” Taehyung sniffled into Jimin’s shirt. “This is all my fault.”

“Why is it your fault?” Jimin asked softly.

“I… I shouldn’t have… you… I-I’m so weak,” Taehyung stuttered, his sobbing making his words incoherent.

“Why?”

 

Taehyung breathed shakily.

“Y-you know,” he whispered.

 

Weak. He was weak. Love was weak, love makes you useless. Useless.

 

Jimin gripped him tighter momentarily, holding his breath.

 

Taehyung wished they would’ve lived in an entirely different world. A world where they could’ve been together.

 

Where he wasn’t weak for loving.

 

Jimin stroked Taehyung’s back softly with his fingers, just holding him close.

 

Taehyung tried to match his breathing with Jimin’s.

 

Jimin was there.

 

He was still alive. He was real.

 

Taehyung focused on Jimin’s heartbeat.

 

Thump thump thump.

 

It grounded him. Made the tears stop.

 

Stopped his thoughts from swirling endlessly.

 

Taehyung took a deep breath and pulled away from Jimin’s embrace.

 

His heart ached to be back close.

 

“I-I’m sorry,” Taehyung repeated. “I don’t know what happened.”

“Don’t apologize,” Jimin said quietly, giving him a little smile. Taehyung watched as Jimin’s fingers swept over his forehead, moving his bangs from his face.

“There’s nothing to be sorry for. I’m just glad you’re fine now.”

 

Jimin’s touch still tingled on Taehyung’s face.

 

Jimin was very close to him.

 

“I don’t usually… I don’t know what got to me,” Taehyung sighed, then looking at Jimin. “How… what are you even doing here? In my room?”

 

Jimin flushed slightly.

“Uh… I kind of just… woke up. To a weird feeling. So, I decided to get some water. And then I heard you, like, speaking and shuffling. You sounded distressed. So, I wanted to check that you’re okay.”

 

For a moment, Taehyung just stared, before he looked back down again.

“Well, I’m happy you were here,” he muttered quietly. “I couldn’t have spent another moment in that nightmare.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

 

Taehyung shook his head no.

 

“I’m sorry about what I said earlier today. About Namjoon and Seokjin and… everything. It was just… I don’t know what it was. Everything was just too much, suddenly,” Taehyung said, still looking down at his lap. He fumbled his duvet with his fingers.

 

Weak.

 

“It’s okay. I was just worried about you. And I wanted to see how you were doing but you seemed like you didn’t want to talk so I left you alone.”

 

“I must seem very capable of keeping you safe, after all of that,” Taehyung huffed. He was a sad excuse of a person, having anxiety attacks over the smallest things.

“You’re very capable,” Jimin said, determined. Taehyung turned to look at him, surprised.

 

“I would trust you with my life, Taehyung. I am trusting you with my life. I have no doubt in my mind that you’ll do everything you can to keep me safe.”

 

We-

 

“Angel,” Taehyung whispered. Jimin smiled with warmth. He took Taehyung’s hand, the one that was fumbling the blanket, and squeezed it.

 

A beam.

 

“Would you…” Taehyung said, struggling to find words. “Do you want to stay here? Sleep… here? With me?”

 

The anxiety swelling in Taehyung’s stomach turned into a swarm of butterflies.

 

He almost couldn’t believe he had just said that out loud.

 

“I’d love to,” Jimin breathed, the rosiness of his cheeks deepening.

 

Their gazes met and they both looked down. Taehyung pulled the duvet from under his legs, organizing the pillows a bit, so that there was one for Jimin, too.

 

Jimin waited for Taehyung to settle down before he laid down next to him, on his back.

 

“Try to get some sleep. I’ll keep the nightmares at bay,” Jimin whispered and searched for Taehyung’s hand under the blanket.

 

“I’ll try,” Taehyung replied, softly gripping Jimin’s hand. “Good night, angel.”

 

Guardian angel.

 

~

 

BONUS YOONKOOK

 

Three years ago

 

“This is Yoongi.”

 

It would’ve been an underestimation to say that Jungkook was staring. His eyes traveled up and down, drinking up the vision before him.

 

Taehyung scoffed.

“Don’t mind him, he doesn’t have any manners,” he said, sighing.

 

Jungkook was sure he had never seen such a beautiful man in his life. Yoongi had a messy raven hair, a pale, glowing complexion and sharp cat eyes. Eyes, that narrowed slightly, when Jungkook just kept staring.

 

“Is everything okay with him?” Yoongi asked Taehyung.

 

Oh my god. His voice. It was like the deepest bass, the one that you could feel in your bones. The gravel sent pleasant shivers down Jungkook’s back.

 

“I think he just might need some rebooting,” Taehyung said, his tone utterly bored. He punched Jungkook’s arm, and the younger yelped.

“Shit, no need to be violent,” Jungkook whined.

“I will run you over with my car if you don’t get yourself together now,” Taehyung sighed. Jungkook rolled his eyes.

“As I was saying,” Taehyung continued. “This is Yoongi. You will be working together from now on. And this is Jungkook. My condolences, but once you learn to filter his idiocy, you’ll be fine.”

 

Yoongi scanned Jungkook with his eyes, arching his brow.

“He looks like a baby,” Yoongi noted. “Are you sure he can, like, drive or fire a gun?”

“No, I’m not sure. But he still does that. And that’s the reason I stay far away from him when he’s working,” Taehyung replied.

 

“I have no problems handling weaponry, I’ll gladly demonstrate it to you,” Jungkook grinned, crossing his arms. Yoongi looked at him, expressionless, however Jungkook could swear he saw amusement flash on his face.

“Hm, maybe I’ll take your word for it,” Yoongi said.

 

“Great. So, Jungkook will brief you with the practicalities. And you can always let me know if he gets too annoying, although I’m not sure I can do much about that,” Taehyung said, glancing at his watch. “I need to get back to work.”

 

Taehyung grabbed Jungkook’s arm and pulled him further to the side.

“Try to behave yourself, okay? His skill-set is fucking impressive, and I don’t know why he’s willing to do this shit job, but I’m not gonna lose him just because you can’t keep it in your pants.”

“Yes, boss ,” Jungkook huffed. “I can do my job, Tae-Tae. Even better if I can do it with someone as pretty as him.”

 

Taehyung looked at Jungkook like he was deciding if he should just kill him.

“Relax. I’m a professional,” Jungkook smirked. “You really ought to do something fun sometimes though. Your shoulders are so tense that they’re almost up your ears.”

“I’ll do something fun when I’m dead,” Taehyung grunted. “Now get to work.”

 

~

 

Okay, Jungkook had assumed that Yoongi would warm up to him a bit quicker. During the first few weeks he rarely spoke, and if he did, it had something to do with work. They were doing many boring jobs to ease Yoongi into the protocols, which meant a lot of sitting in the car together. The silences made Jungkook anxious, but it was nearly impossible to get anything out of Yoongi. Jungkook didn’t know anything about him, except that he seemed to like rap music, because something like that was always playing in his car if he picked Jungkook up, and that he bit his nails when he was bored or concentrating on something.

 

Jungkook knew that he was quite a… big personality, and it took time for some people to get used to it. But Yoongi didn’t express interest of any kind.

 

After the first month Jungkook had gotten to the conclusion that Yoongi probably hated him. Maybe it was because he was loud and obnoxious, or maybe he’d lost already when he had checked Yoongi out so bluntly – maybe he was just extremely straight.

 

Taehyung had sent them to a first hit job. It was supposed to be straightforward – one person who lived alone in the outskirts of the city. They had two more men for backup, but they would be doing the hit. Jungkook hadn’t been on hit jobs for a while, but killing people was like riding a bike. Just back in the saddle.

 

“Remember, the man owns a gun. And I’m guessing that if he’s reckless enough to loan so much money from Kang, he’s reckless enough to use it,” Yoongi reminded as they made their way up the stairs of the building.

“Well, luckily I can use my own gun,” Jungkook said, smiling wryly. Yoongi rolled his eyes.

 

The man’s apartment was at the end of the hallway.

“Ready?” Jungkook asked, and knocked on the door when Yoongi nodded.

 

No answer.

 

“Mr. Song,” Jungkook said in a loud voice. “We know you’re home. We just want to talk.”

 

Some shuffling could be heard, but the door didn’t open. Jungkook sighed.

“Fine. Let’s do it the hard way then,” he mumbled, crouching down. It was an old building, so the lock was very easy to pick. Yoongi followed with his eyes as the lock clicked, his hand on the handle of his gun.

 

Jungkook got up to his feet and after glimpsing at Yoongi, kicked the door open.

 

Everything happened very fast.

 

A gunshot. A crash. A thump. They jumped away from the door.

 

“Shit,” Yoongi hissed, his eyes quickly darting to Jungkook. His eyes widened. “Fuck, you’re bleeding.”

“Oh,” Jungkook replied, furrowing his brows.

“Your arm,” Yoongi whispered. Jungkook turned to look. The bullet had grazed his left bicep, leaving a bloody trace on its wake.

“Oh, it’s just a scrape. I’m fine. Let’s just get the fucker,” Jungkook sighed. Yoongi didn’t look convinced, but they didn’t have time to talk about it more, since they heard another crash.

 

The man had broken the window to escape through it. From the sixth floor.

 

“What the fuck are you…” Jungkook exclaimed. The man turned to glance back at them. Then he jumped.

 

Someone screamed.

 

“I guess it’s our time to leave,” Jungkook said. Yoongi was quiet.

 

~

 

Their backup men had ensured that the man was dead. Jungkook and Yoongi had gotten back to the car, and Yoongi had driven Jungkook back to his home.

 

“So, that was a successful gig. Barely had to do anything,” Jungkook hummed. He unbuckled his seatbelt and was about to open the car door, but suddenly he felt Yoongi grab his wrist.

 

Jungkook turned to look at him, surprised.

 

Yoongi wasn’t looking back at Jungkook. He was holding on to Jungkook’s wrist, his expression indecipherable.

 

“Umm…”

“You could’ve fucking died. He could’ve shot you dead,” Yoongi gritted through his teeth. Jungkook furrowed his brows.

“He barely even hit me.”

“But he could’ve.”

 

Jungkook huffed.

“And why would you care?”

 

Yoongi lifted his gaze to Jungkook. The intensity in his eyes almost startled the younger.

 

“Why would I?” Yoongi asked in a rhetorical manner.

 

For a fleeting moment they just stared at each other.

 

Jungkook wasn’t sure who made the first move. The next thing he knew was their mouths crashing together, their lips hungrily tasting each other. Yoongi fumbled open his seatbelt and climbed over the center console to Jungkook’s lap. Jungkook whimpered quietly into Yoongi’s mouth as his tongue slithered into his mouth. He could feel Yoongi grinning against his lips.

 

Yoongi’s fingers carded into Jungkook’s hair, pulling him closer by his neck. Yoongi pressed his hips tighter against Jungkook’s. Jungkook felt out of breath, lightheaded, but he didn’t want to pull away. Yoongi’s closeness was intoxicating, filling all his senses.

 

Yoongi’s lips moved to Jungkook’s jaw and down to his neck. Jungkook gasped quietly, tilting his head to the side.

 

“Fuck, Jungkook,” Yoongi mumbled against his skin.

“Y-Yoon,” Jungkook muttered, unable to concentrate on anything else than Yoongi’s lips. He slid his hands along Yoongi’s thighs to his ass, pulling him even closer. Yoongi hummed into his neck, nipping the skin.

 

“I-I t-thought you hated me,” Jungkook stammered, trying to stop his eyes from fluttering closed. Yoongi huffed against his neck.

“You’re an annoying brat,” Yoongi sighed, pulling back a little. “But for some reason that turns me on.”

 

Jungkook couldn’t help but snort.

“Brattiness turns you on, huh?” Jungkook smirked, squeezing Yoongi’s ass.

“Don’t start,” Yoongi murmured, pulling Jungkook in for another kiss. Jungkook moaned quietly into Yoongi’s lips, when Yoongi rolled his hips against his.

“D-do you wanna come up?” Jungkook asked, his hands eager to roam under the waistline of Yoongi’s jeans.

 

“Mmh, sure,” Yoongi mumbled. “At least there’s a bit more space for me to fuck the brattiness out of you.”

“I thought you liked it,” Jungkook snickered.

“Let’s see if your ass likes it tomorrow,” Yoongi hummed in a low voice.

 

~

 

Jungkook didn’t tell Taehyung that he was hooking up with Yoongi, not for a long time. It kept going for months, them working and then releasing tension after. Or sometimes during, if there were some boring moments.

 

Jungkook liked Yoongi, he was funny in an adorably sardonic way, he was sharp and smart and most importantly, incredibly hot.

 

Jungkook did like Yoongi, but not that way. It was easy and fun being with Yoongi. He took the job seriously and was quick on his feet. He fucked Jungkook just the way Jungkook liked – hard and mercilessly. And when Jungkook fucked him, he was so pliant and wanton. Jungkook loved it.

 

Yoongi was quite serious, but when he laughed… When he laughed, the solemn features of his face turned soft for a moment, his eyes alight. The wide gummy smile made Jungkook’s heart flutter a little in his chest.

 

But he didn’t like Yoongi that way.

 

~

 

It had been five months since Yoongi first arrived. Jungkook and Yoongi were giving a report for Taehyung of a job, standing side by side in his office.

 

“Okay, sounds good,” Taehyung hummed, letting out a little yawn. “I guess you can go home. There’s not much else you can do for me today.”

 

“Great,” Yoongi said, starting to dig his phone from his pocket.

“Eager,” Taehyung chuckled dryly. “Hot date waiting?”

“Actually, yes,” Yoongi replied, smiling wryly. “See you later, boss. Kook.”

 

Yoongi threw only a quick glance at Jungkook before he stepped out of Taehyung’s office. Jungkook felt something uncomfortable in his chest.

 

“Huh.”

 

Jungkook turned to Taehyung.

“What?” he asked, annoyance in his voice. Taehyung was looking at him, with a questioningly amused look on his face.

“I thought you’d be his hot date. But I guess even I can be wrong sometimes,” Taehyung said, leaning back in his chair.

“What are you talking about?”

 

Taehyung rolled his eyes.

“Do you actually think I’m so clueless that I haven’t realized that you two are hooking up?”

“Uh…”

“I don’t care what you do, my only concern was that you’d make Yoongi run away, but he hasn’t, so it’s fine,” Taehyung noted, closing the lid of his laptop. Jungkook didn’t reply. The ugly feeling kept churning inside him.  Taehyung sighed and got up, walking to Jungkook.

 

“Does he know that you have feelings for him?” Taehyung asked, leaning against his desk. Jungkook’s eyebrows shot up.

“What? I don’t,” he hurried to answer.

“I have no time nor patience for your denial, Jungkook,” Taehyung scoffed. “You can think of yourself as the emotionless fuckboy that you’ve always been, but I can fucking see your heart-eyes from miles away.”

 

Jungkook opened his mouth to argue, but the words dried up in his throat.

“It’s really just fucking,” he muttered.

“Is it? Because sometimes his heart eyes for you are even more obnoxious.”

“No, they’re not. It’s not like that. He’s going on a date with someone else for fuck’s sake. Why would he do that if he had feelings for me?”

“Maybe for the same reason you’re not accepting yours.”

 

Jungkook glared at Taehyung.

 

He didn’t like Yoongi like that.

 

Taehyung sighed, exasperated.

“Fine, be like that. But make sure that whatever this is, doesn’t blow up in my face. I’ll fucking wring your neck if you let this shit get in the way of business.”

 

“It won’t,” Jungkook replied, after being quiet for a moment.

 

Taehyung comprehended him for a while, before taking a breath, his expression softening.

“Do you wanna stay for the night? Play some Mortal Kombat?”

 

Jungkook smiled a little and nodded.

 

~

 

Jungkook was picking up Yoongi the next morning. He had spent the night at Taehyung’s, mostly rolling around in bed thinking what Yoongi was doing on his date.

 

Jungkook felt a jolt in his stomach when he saw Yoongi appear from his building. He was wearing all black, as usual, and looked unfairly good. Jungkook took a breath, gripping the steering wheel tighter.

 

“Hey,” Yoongi greeted as he climbed into the car. Jungkook gave him a small nod as a greeting, pulling on the gear stick to steer the car back to the road.

“So, we need to check some warehouse?” Yoongi muttered, looking at his phone.

“Yeah,” Jungkook sighed, keeping his eyes on the road. “It’s just Tae being anal, as usual. But he wants us to check the stock ‘cause no one’s been there for a while.”

“Sounds easy enough,” Yoongi hummed, pocketing his phone. He leaned back, closing his eyes. Jungkook snuck a quick glimpse at him.

 

“Long night?” Jungkook asked before he could stop himself. Yoongi let out an amused huff, not opening his eyes.

“You could say so.”

“Your date kept you awake?”

 

Now Yoongi opened his eyes, looking at Jungkook appraisingly.

“You really want details?”

 

Jungkook pressed his lips into a tight line.

“Not really,” he replied blankly.

“You still had to ask?”

“Just making small talk, Min.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes narrowed. He scoffed quietly, turning to look out of the window.

 

Jungkook gritted his teeth. He needed to get over his stupid crush. It was useless – neither of them wanted anything more than sex.

 

Or, at least Yoongi didn’t.

 

Shit.

 

Okay. Maybe he did like Yoongi like that.

 

The rest of the journey was silent, the humming of the car filling the heavy air between them.

 

Jungkook parked next to the warehouse and they got out of the car, still quiet.

 

“Wait,” Yoongi hissed when they got to the door, instinctively grabbing the handle of his gun. “The lock’s broken.”

“Fuck,” Jungkook sighed. “Kang’s gonna be pissed if there’s missing stock.”

 

Jungkook reached to pull the lock off the door, but Yoongi grabbed his arm.

“Careful, there might still be someone in there.”

 

Jungkook yanked his arm away.

“Believe me, if someone’s come to steal the stock they’ll be long gone,” Jungkook snarled, wrenching the lock off. Yoongi rolled his eyes, pulling Jungkook’s gun off his belt and pushing it to his chest.

“At least take that.”

 

Jungkook grabbed the gun, sighing. He dragged the warehouse door open.

 

“Fuck.”

 

It was like a blizzard had swept through the warehouse.

 

There were wooden boxes ransacked and scattered all over the floor, and broken bags of cocaine littered everywhere.

 

They didn’t have time to assess the damage more, however, since suddenly they heard a loud crash further from the warehouse.

 

“Who’s there?” Jungkook yelled, pointing his gun towards the sound. “Drag your ass over here. We’re not here to play games.”

 

It was quiet again.

 

“I’m serious,” Jungkook snarled. He didn’t have any patience for petty thieves.

 

First, it was slow.

 

Then, it was fast.

 

There was another loud crash, as they saw a pile of boxes fall.

 

Then, a gunshot.

 

“Take cover,” Yoongi hissed, pulling Jungkook with him behind a row of cabinets.

“What the fuck,” Jungkook huffed, breathing hard. “We need to take them down.”

“We don’t know how many there are,” Yoongi snapped.

“Do you think they’re gonna just back down now that they know we’re here?”

 

Yoongi looked at Jungkook, his eyes intense.

 

“No unnecessary shots,” he then said tightly. “Let’s not provoke them more.”

 

Jungkook nodded, turning to peek behind the cabinets. They heard footsteps, whispered talk. By the sounds there couldn’t have been more than a few people.

 

“If you go now, you might live another day,” Jungkook yelled. “Until we find you.”

 

“Like we’re afraid of some Kang’s lackeys,” was the reply.

“If you knew Kang, you should be,” Jungkook snarled.

“Calm down,” Yoongi gritted.

 

Jungkook didn’t have time to retort, because he heard running footsteps.

 

They had to react.

 

Jungkook stayed low, knowing he had about one second.

 

When there was another pair of footsteps, he pointed his gun and ran.

 

Jungkook was a good shot. He knew that. But there were three men.

 

Jungkook shot thrice.

 

Stomach.

 

Shoulder and head.

 

Then it burned. It was burning.

 

“Jungkook!”

 

Yoongi’s voice sounded like it was coming from somewhere far away.

 

Jungkook dropped his gun, clutching his chest. He sputtered blood.

 

Oh.

 

Yoongi ran towards him. With a straight headshot he took down the third man. One of the three was still wailing, but he was laying down, his gun far away.

 

And Yoongi didn’t seem to care.

 

“Jungkook!” Yoongi repeated, sounding breathless.

 

Jungkook hadn’t even realized he had collapsed to his knees.

 

“A-are they…” Jungkook gasped. He could feel Yoongi taking a hold of him, and it was like a permission for him to slouch into him.

“Yes, yes, they’re dead,” Yoongi stammered. Jungkook nodded, trying to breathe, but ended up coughing. He tasted iron.

 

“Fuck, Kook,” Yoongi whispered, gripping him tighter, closer. “W-why do you have to be so… why…”

“C-calm down,” Jungkook muttered. “It’s g-gonna be fine.”

 

It wasn’t. He knew that. If he was tasting blood, the bullet had probably hit his lungs.

 

“N-no,” Yoongi stuttered. Jungkook found it hard to focus his gaze on Yoongi’s face.

“I n-need to get some help,” Yoongi breathed, fumbling for his phone. He was shaking. There were tears. He tapped his phone with a shaking hand, then dropping it to the floor.

 

“Y-Yoon,” Jungkook said, his voice wheezing. “C-can you h-hold me?”

 

Yoongi let out a sob. He pulled Jungkook closer to his chest and Jungkook took a weak hold of his wrist.

 

“I-I was really jealous about your date,” Jungkook whispered. Yoongi sniffled.

“I didn’t have a date,” Yoongi said quietly, tears streaming. Jungkook furrowed his brows.

“I-I was just…” Yoongi stammered, his voice choking. “It was so stupid, stupid.”

“W-what?”

 

Yoongi looked into Jungkook’s glazed eyes, stroking his hair from his face with his bloody hand.

“I didn’t know how to deal with my feelings,” Yoongi breathed. “S-so I just… tried to ignore them. B-but last night, like… like all the other nights I just laid in bed thinking about you.”

 

Jungkook chuckled, breathless.

“Y-yeah, that really is stupid.”

 

Yoongi let out a sob, again.

 

“S-sometimes I really just wanted to k-kiss you. Just kiss. A-and h-hold you close. A-and just be there with you,” Jungkook mumbled, feeling the darkness slowly taking over. His body felt numb.

 

“Kook,” Yoongi sniffled. “J-just stay with me, okay? Then you can hold me. Y-you can hold me forever.”

 

“That sounds good,” Jungkook murmured. He couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore. He had no strength. It was so cold.

 

“You know you look like a cat,” Jungkook mumbled. “L-like a little kitten.”

 

He could hear Yoongi trying to hold back a sob.

 

And then it was dark.

 

~

 

There was no white light for Jungkook.

 

Only fuzz.

 

Only pain.

 

He could hear constant rattling in his ears. Like speech. Clinking and clanking. Beeping. Scratching. Jabbing.

 

His entire body felt heavy, like gravity was just pulling and pulling.

 

Then it was quiet for a long time.

 

The darkness sucked him in, lulled him into peaceful slumber. He didn’t want to wake up.

 

A cold, yellow-tinted light kept bothering his rest.

 

He didn’t want to…

 

Wait.

 

Jungkook shuffled a little in his hospital bed. Yoongi, who had been half-asleep on his chair stirred.

 

“Kook?”

 

It was the bass again. In his bones. It was a bit more hoarse than usual, though.

 

Jungkook tried to move his fingers, open his eyes. It was difficult. Painful. But he tried again.

 

Yoongi took a sharp breath, when he saw Jungkook cracking his eyes.

 

“Fuck,” Yoongi whispered, touching Jungkook’s arm. Jungkook looked around, his eyes moving slowly. His brain was foggy, but he did understand that he was in a hospital. And Yoongi was there.

 

Yoongi.

 

“Yoon,” Jungkook breathed, his throat sore.

 

Yoongi’s hair was messy and he looked tired. He was clearly still wearing the same bloody clothes. But his eyes looked awake. Relieved. Fond.

 

Suddenly Jungkook heard the door open.

 

“Jesus fuck,” Taehyung gasped, hurrying to the bed. He looked much more put-together than Yoongi, but it was not surprising. There wasn’t a moment where Taehyung wasn’t put-together.

 

“You fucking idiot. You’re the most stupid fucking moron on this fucking planet,” Taehyung huffed, crouching down next to the bed.

“I’d beat you up if you weren’t in such a bad shape already.”

 

Jungkook couldn’t help but snort quietly.

“I’m glad you’re happy to see me awake,” Jungkook rasped, producing the words slowly.

“I hope it hurts like fuck so you’ll learn your lesson,” Taehyung said, frowning.

“Nope. I… I can only feel the sweet morphine,” Jungkook sighed. Yoongi smiled a little, amused. Taehyung rolled his eyes and got back up to his feet.

 

“Well, now that I can stop worrying, I’ll get back to work. I’ll whoop your ass when you get back.”

“Can’t wait.”

 

Taehyung glimpsed at Yoongi meaningfully, but Jungkook couldn’t decipher his expression. He was too out of it.

 

After the door slammed closed again Jungkook turned his eyes to Yoongi. The man looked like he was crying.

 

“Since when have you been such a crybaby,” Jungkook asked, grinning crookedly. Yoongi scoffed, wiping his tears to his sleeve.

 

“You know,” Jungkook then whispered. “I kind of remember you promising that you’ll let me hold you.”

 

Yoongi chuckled wetly.

“Yeah, I think I did.”

“So…”

 

Yoongi looked at Jungkook, confused.

“Right now?”

“Right fucking now. We’ve wasted enough time already.”

 

Yoongi swallowed.

“Yeah. We have.”

 

He got up and sat down on the bed, kicking off his shoes. He wiggled himself under the tubes that we’re pumping the pain medicine and carefully laid down next to Jungkook. There wasn’t much space, but they paid no mind.

 

Jungkook wrapped his arm gently around Yoongi, touching his back with his fingers.

“I probably stink,” Jungkook mumbled, scrunching his nose.

“I don’t care,” Yoongi replied. He tilted his chin up a little, softly touching Jungkook’s lips with his.

 

It was so different than the first kiss they had shared in the car over five months ago. There was no hunger or desperation. It was gentle, loving, careful. Fragile.

 

Jungkook leaned his forehead against Yoongi’s after pulling away from the kiss.

 

“You know what, Yoonie,” Jungkook whispered. Yoongi raised his eyebrows questioningly. “I think I might have feelings for you.”

 

Yoongi chuckled, showing Jungkook his adorable gummy smile, which probably had made Jungkook fall for him in the first place.

 

“Really? Well, Kook, I’ll let you in on a secret,” Yoongi said quietly, running his index finger on Jungkook’s jaw. “I think I have feelings for you, too.”