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The detonation of blooming

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When a sudden noise cuts through the sleep he’s been chasing, Jimin isn’t surprised by the phone calls he gets at odd hours of the night, because when you have younger friends who live in another country, time zones become a thing that doesn’t matter. It’s why, despite being exhausted from returning to Japan from a long flight, he answers the call coming from California, which can only be coming from one person in particular.

Jeongguk. One of Jimin’s best friends, a confidant and constant pain in the ass. Even while knowing the time difference (they’ve all set their world clocks with their respective time zones in order to keep better track for things like phone calls) He’s not deterred by the seventeen hours, nor that it’s Friday morning from him versus how it is three in the morning for Jimin, and lets the phone ring until Jimin answers. 

Groggy, the grip on his cellphone precarious at best, Jimin answers from where he’s hiding under the covers. Muffling a gruff, “hullo,”. 

“Hyung, I’ve had an epiphany and it’s important.”  Comes as Jeongguk’s greeting, sunny and cheerful. These days it’s often Jimin hears and sees him smiling, but he guesses a happy, committed and loving relationship will do that to people. Not that he’s bitter.

“This epiphany couldn’t have waited until later?” Jimin grunts, glad that at least this is a regular phone call and not a FaceTime call. Small miracles, otherwise Jeongguk would give Jimin the eyes, and then all hope of rest would be lost.

“It’s life changing, so it can’t. Wait—you’re asleep, aren’t you?” 

“Hmm.” Jimin yawns, “Something like that.”

“Well,” Jeongguk exhales, and Jimin wonders if for a moment he’s going to be let off the hook, given a reprieve. A small, rare act of mercy from Jeongguk; Namjoon must have done something right to have him in such a good moo—“that’s too bad. I had an epiphany, you understand? Be a good hyung and listen to me, or I’ll cry.”

It’s not a threat to be taken lightly, Jimin knows. Jeongguk is a force to be reckoned with when the crying comes out. None of them are averse to the sheen of tears welling up in those big eyes, and the kid’s honed in on this fact in order to get what he wants. 

Sighing, Jimin sits up, lets the covers pool around his waist, phone raised against his ear. “What’s this epiphany about, huh? Hyung’s so tired.”

“I’m getting married.” Jeongguk says into the phone, more air than sound, as though reminding himself of what the future will bring knocks the wind out of him. “I’m getting married, hyung.” 

Jimin’s expression softens. He stares ahead, past the glass window overlooking his apartment, out to the buildings lined before his home. 

Tokyo is lively at all hours. Especially in Shinjuku, where it never seems to allow rest. Always so busy, bright colors intermingled with stark skies. He’s never seen stars in the city, not because they don’t exist, but because neon shines brighter than stardust. Maybe that’s an omen in itself he’ll have to talk to a therapist about when he’s not as busy.

Jimin is always busy. But not for the people that matter, not anymore. He’s learned harshly how being too busy ruins relationships. 

So he will make time for his friends when they need him, whenever and however he can. It’s difficult. Jimin’s an actor with a grueling year long schedule with little to no breaks in between filming for different projects. Not to mention the end of the year award shows, press junkets, the constant ringing of his phone. 

But he’s also older now, not quite as in demand as he would’ve been when he was twenty one, fresh off the first set that would be the project to launch his career. Now he can pick and choose what he invests his time and skill in rather than accept multiple projects at once to stay relevant in a competitive industry such as the one he’s in. Now, eight years later, Jimin can afford to take time off and not work on anything if he doesn’t want to. 

Now he has a name for himself, countless awards under his belt and industry praise for his hard work, but those are cheap and thrillful in the moment. What jimin has now that outranks fame, fortune, and not being able to leave the house without some kind of disguise, is his personal time. Time he has to spend with the people who matter most. Time he didn’t always have before. 

Closing his eyes, Jimin murmurs,“That’s your epiphany, is it? You’re so silly.” By his bed there is a glass of water, which Jimin’s grabs to drink from greedily as Jeongguk tells him that yes, that is his epiphany and what about it? He’d been thirstier than he realized. When he opens them again, the city is still there, the other side of the bed is still empty. Jimin Smiles tiredly. “You are getting married and you are going to be so happy, Jeonggukah.” 

“I am.” Sighs Jeongguk, blissed out and relaxed the way a man can get when he’s fulfilled and living a good life. “Realistically I know that it’s true, that in a few days I’ll be married to the love of my life, but sometimes it just hits me out of nowhere and I have to tell someone about it. You are that someone.” 

“Hobi hyung didn't answer the phone, did he?”

Jimin is met with a responding huff. “It's late in Seoul.” Is Jeongguk’s reason.

“It’s late here too.” Jimin rolls his eyes, slides down to the edge of the bed until he’s standing up and heading towards the kitchen. Sleep won’t come soon after an interruption like this, so he might as well make the most of his time. Inside the kitchen Jimin prepares some tea and listens to Jeongguk go on about his day, the nerves increasing as the big day approaches. 

Jimin can't imagine the stress that comes with detailed wedding planning, given that he hasn’t partaken in any of that ever. He imagines it must be stressful, especially for Jeongguk, who’d dreamed of one day getting to marry Namjoon in their country, somewhere beautiful like Jeju and in the end never got what he desired. Same sex marriage isn't legal in South Korea, though many protests have happened in order to get the bid signed. 

Regardless, Jeongguk didn't let that stop him, and when the opportunity came for him and Namjoon to migrate to California to begin a new chapter in their lives, Jeongguk knew that he’d have his chance at happily ever after. The romantic he is, his luck for love knows no bounds, having brought Namjoon, a writer for multiple best selling novels, to his life. 

Jimin is thrilled for them, really he is. 

He and Namjoon have worked together before when Jimin played the leading role for a drama based on one of his earlier novels and inevitably they became friends, and Jeongguk used to be Jimin’s makeup artist. They met on set, and things kicked off naturally. And now they are getting married, four years shy of getting together. 

“Namjoon hyung is so grateful to you for letting us use your name to secure the reservation and for paying for our stay there, too. The hotel gave us such a hard time at first.” Jeongguk says, interrupting Jimin from where he’s gotten lost in thought, mug hanging precariously close to falling off the counter. 

Jimin rights it, then attends to the kettle as it whistles, pouring steaming hot water into his mug. “Perks of my pretty face.” He jokes, “Also you can tell Namjoon hyung he doesn’t have to thank me, I was glad to help somehow.” 

“You know hyung is very modest about money,” Jeongguk tells him, then adds with a wry laugh, “For no reason, he’s so well off it’s insane sometimes. Did you know that MONO reached the New York Times bestseller list and it's being considered for a series? Like, he doesn’t have to be so humble about it. It’s sexy when he talks about being filthy rich.”

Jimin hums on his way to the living room, warm mug cradled between his palms, the phone nestled against his ear and shoulder. “I didn’t know that, I’m sorry. But about MONO doing so well, that’s good news! Don’t be hard on him for being mindful about money, he’s just Namjoon.” 

Jeongguk sighs, dreamlike. “Yeah,” he murmurs, “He sure is. Can’t believe I get to be with him for the rest of my life. That’s so crazy to me, how suddenly you can meet someone and then they become so important in a matter of time.” 

Jimin pauses as he sits on the couch, then slowly sets the mug down, pushing it away. He turns on the television, skipping the dramas and music show announcements until he settles for the news, which he sets on a low volume. There’s a commercial on screen where his ex girlfriend advertises a new skincare brand, and Jimin smiles lightly, not really focusing much on what she’s saying.

At one point dating used to be difficult for Jimin, until it wasn’t. He’s had casual relationships with men and women in the industry before, more out of not wanting to be lonely than anything else, but they’ve ended amicably. He still keeps in touch with some of those people. Unironically his ex girlfriend Daehee invited him to her wedding, and they both wished each other well and had a lovely time celebrating her nuptials as friends would. 

He’s only ever had one tumultuous breakup, and even then it wasn’t out of anger, more out of heartache than anything else.

He doesn’t answer Jeongguk right away, blankly staring at the television screen. Above his mantle is a photo of him accepting his first major award on stage taken via fan site, then there’s others of him with his parents, brother and Taehyung. 

“Yeah,” Jimin says, offering nothing further, staring at the framed photos intently. He has a sip of tea, then curses, blaming his burning discomfort on the tea rather than anything else. “Did you double check with the hyungs so that nobody forgets their flights?” 

“Oh, I’m glad you mentioned it!”Jeongguk perks up, animatedly going over everyone’s schedules with Jimin, who’s glad for the change of subject and reprieve on his frayed nerves. 

He purposely avoids mentioning Taehyung, the ever present elephant in the room nobody talks about around him, and for that Jimin is even more grateful.




____




Prior to packing for Jeongguk’s wedding, Jimin stands by his closet, staring at it while chewing his thumbnail. At the bottom, behind many pairs of shoes, is a box where Jimin has been hoarding his most cherished memories. 

 

It has been three years since Jimin opened that box, he realizes. During his twenty fifth birthday, on a rare drunken and hyper emotional stupor, was the last time he’d allowed himself a glimpse at how life used to be during simpler days. 

 

He’s not sure why he’s overcome with an urge to revisit old memories, but pegs it down to nostalgia. One of his best friends is getting married to another of his best friends, the seven of them will reunite after a long time away, and it will be a time riddled with emotions. The closing of one chapter but the beginning of the next. 

 

Yeah, Jimin thinks as he kneels and delves further inside his closet, gingerly pulling the box out with care. Weddings in particular tend to make him nostalgic. He’d shed tears at Daehee’s wedding, as well as Moonsung’s, not because he wished to be the groom, but because he thought then (and thinks now) that it must be nice having someone. 

 

Jimin can accept that he hasn’t had someone in a very long time. It’s not the sex he misses, but the intimacy of having a relationship. Having peace with them even if things outside their home aren’t perfect. Simple things like deep talks about the future and the uncertainty it holds, soft kisses under the covers, hands held tightly.

 

“Let’s be together for a long time.”

 

The box itself is nothing special and resembles a small treasure chest. Sturdy despite being small, he has crammed in it his fondest and most painful memories. On his darker days he refers to the box as his coffin, where he’s buried away things he wishes would die and leave him alone, but it’s not always bad. 

 

Jimin likes to think he is level headed now, less emotional than he’d been at twenty-five, and able to sort through his things without losing his composure. He’s gone through the stages following a break-up, been there, done that. He’s fine now. He can open up a box, peek at its contents and then return to normal.

 

Now—if only he can get a grip and stop the tremble of his hands. 

 

He’s content. Lives a wonderful life with privileges many don’t get to have. Jimin is living his dream everyday he walks onto a set or takes a look at his shelves. He’s made peace with the sacrifices he’s had to make in order to reach the top. All success requires that kind of thing. 

 

The box opens easily, and Jimin sifts through it, smiling at old photos of himself, his friends and family. He’s always liked to take them, not for sport or as a career, but for fun. Taehyung and his parents gave him a Polaroid camera in high school for his birthday so that he’d always be able to capture all his favorite memories. The camera itself is also inside the box, abandoned for a newer model that sits on Jimin’s nightstand. Alongside the camera and photos there are some medals from Jimin’s dance competitions, the gold dimmed with age and cold to the touch, as well as an old, battered pair of ballet shoes. 

 

Jimin blinks slow, recalling memories that feel as though they don’t belong to him any longer. There are ticket stubs from movies, Lotte World and even the airport. An abrupt trip to Tokyo, Jimin paid for it all with his first big paycheck and took Taehyung on a luxurious vacation to make up for missing his birthday due to work. 

 

The sex was incredible, but at this stage in his life Jimin recognizes the truth for what it was. That trip—and inevitably their move there—was the beginning of a steady spiral, more missed dates, long apologies and make up sex. Lots of it. Sometimes it felt like they were making up for things that hadn’t even happened yet, but that’s how it was.

 

Until it wasn’t. 

 

Jimin stares down, pushing away family photos until he reaches the end of the box, finding a photo of himself and Taehyung in bed, pressed up together; Jimin nuzzling against Taehyung’s throat whilst Taehyung snapped the photo. 

 

Jimin smiles, a master of pretending when it suits him—He is an actor, after all. Then he promptly rips the photo in two, bursting with rage and dark, deep sadness, then bursts into tears over what he’s done, shakily attempting to piece it back together and pretend it never happened. 

 

He can recall almost to the exact minute since the last phone call he had with Taehyung, coincidentally on his twenty fifth birthday post breakdown. Calling without a reason other than to hear Taehyung’s voice; Jimin thought Taehyung’s number had been changed or that at least he’d been blocked, unable to reach out to him again, but he wasn’t. 

 

Admittedly that wasn’t Jimin’s finest moment, drunk and calling his ex boyfriend two years after they’d split up just to hear him speak again. He doesn’t blame Taehyung for not answering at first, in fact—Jimin wishes he’d gotten the hint not to be so insistent and keep calling until Taehyung finally answered.

 

“Please, don’t call me again.” Was Taehyung’s greeting, breathless and pleading. Jimin recognized that tone of voice for what it was and hiccuped, a miserable little ball curled on his floor hosting a pity party of one. 

 

He hadn’t contacted Taehyung after that, leftover apologies making a home inside him and never seeing the light of day again. Jimin thinks he even deleted Taehyung’s number in order to avoid any future temptations to reach out and bother him. 

 

It’s been years, they’ve both moved on. And now they will most likely be seeing each other again in a matter of days, if Taehyung is even attending the wedding. Assuming he’s not busy or just doesn’t want to run the risk of seeing him again.

 

Jimin’s not sure, and frankly, as he rushes in placing everything back in the box to stuff it in its former spot inside the closet, he doesn’t want to find out. 

 

___



When travel plans for the trip from Tokyo to Los Cabos came to fruition, Jimin double checked with Jeongguk that the reservation to the hotel was set a day earlier than them, that way he’d have time to catch up from jet-lag and be alert to help with any last minute preparations. 

 

He’d gone through the motions countless times, even going as far as ringing Jeongguk to make sure all was set and everyone’s rooms would be in order. The wedding is in a few days. Tomorrow Namjoon and Jeongguk arrive, they will spend some days enjoying all that the resort has to offer along with the rest of their friends and then soon is the actual wedding. There’s no room for error, Jeongguk has told Jimin as much. 

 

Everything has to go right or he will cry and he will do so loudly. Jimin assured him that everything would be fine, that nothing would go wrong.

 

But clearly he spoke too soon, or maybe Jimin has done something in his life to deserve the circumstances he faces; Karma finally coming to kick his ass as he deserves for making someone else suffer under his own selfishness. 

 

That can be the only reason as to why he’s standing in the middle of a beautiful resort such as Chileno bay, fresh off a thirteen hour flight and facing an issue. 

 

There’s been a mishap with his reservation, overbooking, and mistake on their part. One Jimin struggles to understand at first, his spanish limited when faced with local speakers who talk too fast. Thankfully, they speak English, which Jimin can hold his own at.

 

“I’m sorry, but it doesn’t say anything here about an overbooking? Could this be a mistake? I’m here with the Kim wedding party set to arrive tomorrow,” he says, gesturing towards the confirmation info sent to his email address confirming his reservation (and that of his six friends) is okay. “If you could please check again.” 

 

A flushed, nervous front desk agent apologizes profusely to Jimin and double-checks the computer, assuring Jimin that maybe their system is facing a glitch. He waits patiently, exhausted and dead on his feet, expecting that this will get sorted so he can soak in the tub and sleep until tomorrow morning. 

 

“Yeah, I got here early because I wanted to have time to rest before everyone else arrives. I’m exhausted, Mom.” 

 

What Jimin isn’t expecting amidst the growing list of misfortunate events happening to him is to hear someone speaking Korean in Mexico of all places, let alone a Daegu dialect in a voice he’s been intimately acquainted with. 

 

What Jimin doesn’t expect to see when he turns around is to find the owner of said voice to be someone he knows even more intimately. 

 

Taehyung. 

 

Taehyung, who pauses mid conversation once he spots Jimin by the check-in desk as though he’s seen a ghost. “Mama, I have to go.” He mumbles, ending the call within seconds, phone clutched tightly in his palm as he stands there, so close yet so far. 

 

Taehyung, who’s stark against a blazing azure color scheme, sun-kissed, sporting a hint of shadow against his jaw and shaking long strands of dark hair out of his sleep hooded eyes, but still the most beautiful person Jimin has ever seen. 

 

Age, even though they’re still young, but not as young as they’d been once, works wonders for Taehyung. His face has matured and compliments the way his body has filled out—carved collarbones and a wide chest, Taehyung has always had a body worth looking at. Jimin spent many of his days memorizing every dip and curve that body had to offer, mapping out his favorite places with his tongue and teeth. 

 

He’s always been beautiful, but something about Taehyung now makes Jimin blink slow, brain muddled with thoughts that shouldn’t be there. Maybe it’s his eyes that still carry the weight of the world in their depths, always a little sad, or maybe Jimin still thinks with the wrong head. 

 

Jimin swallows audibly, then shakes his head, turning the other way, face hot. If he pretends he hasn’t seen Taehyung, then maybe this abrupt bruise up against his ribs that's there to remind him—Hey, you’re not as indifferent as you’ve been trying to fool, Jimin. You’re not made of stone, but rather glass that’s been chipped at the edges—will go away.

 

Indifference is difficult to pull off when the ghost of regret is always around whenever it comes to Taehyung, but Jimin tries his best to do just that; regard Taehyung coolly from afar, remain calm.

 

It’s a task made much easier by another front desk agent, who aids Taehyung during his check-in process with the same politeness he’d greeted Jimin, only there’s a problem. 

 

Taehyung is nodding along to what he’s being told, but given the crease formed between his brows and the way he nibbles his lower lip, Jimin can tell he doesn’t understand what they’re saying and is nervous. 

 

And really, he shouldn’t impose—because he knows firsthand Taehyung hates being regarded as though he’s not smart when he is, but Jimin can’t just stand there and watch him struggle. He can deal with the glares that’ll come later. 

 

Gently, he interrupts them, turns towards the receptionist and explains if they can speak English, because Taehyung doesn’t understand Spanish either. He’s met with a small huff by his side belonging to Taehyung, but Jimin ignores that, happy to have helped his ex boyfriend in someway. 

 

“Thank you.” Taehyung says, the first words he’s spoken to Jimin since their breakup, not counting that last embarrassing phone call. It’s spoken quiet, a subdued version of the voice Jimin was used to. 

 

He nods wordlessly, hoping the smile he gives Taehyung is polite enough. 

 

“Oh my god,” the receptionist mutters once Taehyung is finished giving his name, catching Jimin and Taehyungs’ attention with his nervous glances between them. “We have a problem here, gentlemen.”

 

Taehyung frowns, gives Jimin a sidelong glance as if asking what that could possibly mean. Jimin shrugs, unsure himself. “What problem?”

 

“Well, there's been a mistake in our system and we accidentally overbooked our suites. This is a busy time of year, and so accidents happen—” the receptionist begins, nervously fiddling with a gold plated name tag pinned to an outer breast pocket; it reads Julian Mendoza. “We made the mistake of booking someone else to your suite, Mr. Park. A Mr. Taehyung Kim.”

 

“What—“

 

“No.”

 

A gentle breeze blows in from the entrance, ruffling Taehyung’s hair and Jimin’s clothes, amplifying their stunned silence. They share a look, one riddled with equal parts disbelief at the chances of something like this happening, the other mildly accusing, as if Taehyung is blaming Jimin for this. 

 

Jimin sighs, defeated. Shoulders slumping under the weight of such a brutally icy stare, he asks, “Well, what can we do about this now? This wasn’t either of our faults, but your staff.” 

 

The front desk representative rushes to explain the protocol for a situation like this, which by the looks of it aren't great. Their other suites are booked and are non refundable. “The most we can offer is to give you a credit for a future stay in our resort for what you’ve paid for, or humbly ask that you simply share the suite or that one of you stay elsewhere.”

 

Taehyung looks frustrated by the news, jaw clenched in a way Jimin can recognize comes from biting his tongue. Preferring silence rather than saying something rude, he doesn’t say a word, just nods in response, the grip around his suitcase tight. 

 

Jimin is no better, dumbfounded by his bad luck and struck by the proximity of Taehyung beside him. He smells the same, earthy and like soft cotton sheets—Jimin used to joke that Taehyung smelled like home, and he’s hit with how that’s still very much true. 

 

He closes his eyes for a moment. Jimin has never felt as tired, down to his bones exhausted physically and emotionally. Scattered in pieces, his composure feels frayed at the edges. Hell is realizing that Taehyung has not said another word to him, never mind look at him throughout this whole ordeal.

 

In the end they’re at an impasse with the receptionist, which leaves the decision in their hands. Do they stay together, or will one of them go?

 

Slowly, Jimin meets Taehyung’s gaze, finds a flare of recognition from the past. Hurt lingering, remnant accusations on how in all this sordid tension, Jimin has never been the one hurting, rather the one who hurt. Beyond that, in the sudden softened glaze in Taehyung’s eyes, there’s something Jimin can’t place, fearful of his own hope making him blind.

 

“If you can give us a moment to discuss we’d appreciate it.” Jimin says to the receptionist clearly, years spent studying English has made him able to say some things easily. 

 

Without looking back, Jimin ushers Taehyung aside, leading them behind a tall pillar to give them some privacy. He tries not to look at him when they’re up close and Taehyung is so visibly uncomfortable, but it’s difficult. He has so much to say, it practically smothers him. He doesn’t in the end, it’s not the right time. 

 

Probably won’t ever be. 

 

“Taehyungah,” Jimin starts, low despite the fact that most locals won't understand them, eyes trained on Taehyungs’ hands. A safer zone. “You can have the suite. I’ll stay somewhere else. There are many other resorts nearby, it wouldn’t put me out.”

 

“Why would you do that?” Taehyung asks, then sighs. Brings a hand under Jimin’s chin, tips it up so that they’re facing each other; Jimin gulps. “There, that’s better. You always avoid eye contact when you’re nervous.”

 

“Old habits die hard.” 

 

Taehyung’s lips twitch, but he doesn’t smile, and keeps the hand he’d touched Jimin’s face with tucked inside the pocket of his jeans. The distance between them stifling. 

 

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” he sighs, looking at Jimin. Eyes searching for something Jimin can’t discern. “Either way don’t put yourself out. My reservation is the mix up, not yours. I can stay somewhere else instead. Jeongguk is your friend anyways, you’re part of the wedding party.” 

 

“He’s your friend, too.” Jimin says, despite the fact that he doesn’t have to. “You wouldn’t be here if he thought otherwise. Please, don’t be stubborn and take the room. It’s a beautiful villa and you’d love the Oceanside view.”

 

Taehyung doesn’t say yes. His face carries a kind of dubious look to it, the type he uses whenever he can’t quite believe the things Jimin is saying. Deep inside Jimin an old feeling resurfaces, rearing its ugly little head. Confusion. He hates it almost as much as he hates the way Taehyung is looking at him. 

 

“I’m not stubborn, you're just bossy and used to getting your way.” Taehyung responds, blunt tipped like shards of ice. “I can fend for myself just fine. There’s no need for—“ gesturing between them, Taehyung says, clipped, “This.”

 

This. 

 

Jimin knows what Tae is receding to without the added clarification. It is clear as day; Taehyung taking care of himself, having had plenty of practice throughout their relationship, Jimin gone often enough that learning how to be alone became a necessity. The beginning of their end, the moment Taehyung learned how to live without needing Jimin in the picture.

 

Jimin isn't here to wage wars on old battlegrounds, and can spot a losing fight when he sees it. Laughing tensely, hollow inside as that dead thing in his chest sinks into his stomach. “You know what? I'm not going to argue with you. That's the last thing I want.”

 

“Avoidance. That's your thing, right? Better to ignore the problem until it goes away.” Taehyung laughs, a scathing hit against Jimin’s solar plexus. A kick in the throat, he’s down and stays there.

 

Recoiling, Jimin straightens his shoulders despite the weight crashing down on him. He plays with a thick silver ring on his finger, twisting it until it leaves a faint burn against his skin. 

 

“Here’s what is going to happen,” He tells Taehyung firmly, making a bid to leave once he says his peace. “I’m gonna leave and stay somewhere else. Whether you take the fucking room or not is entirely up to you.”

 

This thing between he and Taehyung, it won’t end well, and if given room to lay roots, will unfold into something ugly. Like a wildfire, it’ll smoke them out and taint all it touches—Jeongguk’s wedding included. Nobody likes needing knives to cut through a wall of tension so thick it can be eaten up and swallowed. 

 

So Jimin will make good on his words, will stay at another resort and partake in the wedding festivities as he planned on doing, simply from a little bit away. He can’t do this to himself, walking on edge until (if) this all fades painlessly so without anyone leaving Los Cabos with jagged scars re-opened. 

 

Blinking out the sting in his eyes, Jimin turns away. Makes his way towards the check-in desk prepared to tell the receptionist that he can change the reservation over to Taehyung Kim rather than cancel it. He makes it there, but doesn’t say anything due to the warm hand curled around his wrist tugging him gently.

 

“Wait,” Taehyung says, no real force to it, just a simple plea. Patience, he’s the kind to need people who have it in spades. Yoongi, Namjoon. It's a wonder they all took to each other so quickly. “Jimin, wait.”

 

“What is it?” Is Jimin’s short answer when he turns to face Taehyung. 

 

Taehyung presses his lips together, painfully stubborn as usual. There’s no malice in his gaze, just a kind of soft resignation. The type that makes Taehyung look a little like an overgrown, lost puppy. The bangs in his eyes don't help either. 

 

“You don’t have to leave.” He murmurs, relinquishing his hold around Jimin’s wrist when he realizes they’re still touching. Cheeks dusted pink and a hand curved around his nape, he mutters something Jimin doesn’t catch. “I said we can just share the room.”

 

Jimin doesn’t say anything at first, convinced he’s hearing things. Twisted he loves me-loves me not tales his dumbass brain has conjured up to ruin his spirits. He asks Taehyung to repeat that, and goes a little slack jawed when he does.

 

“I’d feel bad if you had to travel back and forth because of me.” Taehyung explains in a rush, slightly breathless and winded. “Jeongguk would be so upset with me, too, even if you really are the one refusing to budge and let me leave instead. This is all about him and Namjoon’s day, we can survive for a few days, right?”

 

“I’m not sure,” Jimin admits sheepishly. Uncertainty has him clearing his throat. “We can try our best. We owe it to our friends to not ruin what is supposed to be their special day with our problems.”

 

Taehyung’s eyes say the things he doesn’t dare. Dark and still focused on Jimin, he nibbles his lower lip for a moment, pensive as he nods. “You’re right.” He says softly, as hopeful to believe in their attempts at cordiality as Jimin is, “we can try.”



___

 

Something that hadn’t crossed Jimin’s mind as an issue when they’d ultimately decided on sharing the villa, but now presents itself as one is their sleeping situation. 

 

The villa itself is spacious, and contemporary. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls giving an airy, open-flow plan, while the walls are decorated in materials like sandstone and bleached wood. Jimin had reserved it for the aesthetic appeal of it all, but also because he liked his privacy, and these villas provide that and much more, featuring amenities like an indoor shower and private outdoor shower, as well as having a lower level villa with it's own private outdoor pool and spacious terrace with seating.

 

All of that, and then the problem—the bedroom, that while gorgeous in it's simplistic beauty, only has one goddamn bed. A bed he and Taehyung are staring at awkwardly while they fiddle with their suitcases in the doorway.

 

This feels like the calm before the storm, somehow dangerous in its stunted silence. 

 

Taehyung clears his throat, looking away from Jimin as takes a tentative step further into the room, giving it a slow sweep. “This is a beautiful set up.” He murmurs, fingers hesitating in skimming over a vase full of bougainvillea flowers for a moment before he succumbs to their allure and touches them. “There’s only one bed, though.”

 

Heat crawls up Jimin’s face, makes a home in his cheeks. “I wasn’t expecting company when I booked a single room.” He croaks, in a rush to explain himself and nearly knocking over his suitcase in the process, “Had I known I would’ve been better prepared.”

 

Taehyung smiles. “You’re in a beautiful place like Mexico, full of beautiful people and didn't think you’d be having company?”

 

Jimin inhales sharply. “Well...I’m not sure how to answer that.”

 

Taehyung’s smile curves into something mischievous and then brightens as he laughs quietly, shaking his head. “I’m joking.” He chuckles, tense when he notices the expression on Jimin’s face. “That was rude, I’m sorry. I just don't know how to cope with all of this. Being a jerk is my defense mechanism.”

 

“Same.” Jimin whispers, ears ringing as he watches Taehyung run a hand through his hair, pushing the bangs off his eyes. He hadn’t thought much about it before, but now that they’re forced to share a living space and be in proximity of each other, he notices that Taehyung has changed his hair. Had it styled so that it sits curly around his ears and supple. A perm maybe. He doesn’t ask, words lost in his cotton stuffed mouth. 

 

Taehyung has a seat by the edge of the bed, and despite his overall taller height, he looks so small, dwarfed in a King sized bed while sunlight filters through the glass window and catches across the line of his jaw, lingering near his lips. It’s so strange to see him like this, that Jimin is struck with a strange sense of longing. He’d envisioned seeing Taehyung many times after they’d broken up, that the real thing in front of him leaves Jimin reeling. 

 

“I can always sleep in the living room.” Taehyung suggests, cutting across Jimin’s thoughts. “That couch looked super comfortable to be honest.”

 

“Absolutely not.” Jimin mutters, staring at Taehyung as though he’s lost his mind. As if he really thinks Jimin would let him sleep on a goddamn couch when there’s a bed right there for him to use. “You take the bed, I’ll take the couch.”

 

“Are we going to do this about everything? Because I’m fucking tired. Genuinely, I don't care where I sleep as long as I get to do it. My flight was long and I’m starting to see two of you making judgemental faces at me.”

 

Jimin’s eyebrows raise, mildly amused, mildly scandalized that Taehyung can read him so right. He’s never felt as seen.  

 

“Put those eyebrows away, Park.” Taehyung mutters, ignoring Jimin’s indignant look in favor of slipping off his shoes and getting comfortable. Which for Taehyung means some serious man-spreading, thicker thighs on display through fitted sweatpants in a comfortable slouch. 

 

Jimin’s indifferent facade begins to chip away, and he stares, hungry and hot at Taehyung’s legs, recalling down to the last minute of how those long legs felt draped over his shoulders when Jimin fucked him, or how strong they felt bracketing his as he fucked Jimin while they laid on their sides; those lazy mornings hard to forget. 

 

Taehyung catches him staring and purses his lips. “Maybe it’s not smart for us to share an enclosed space together if you’re gonna’ look at me like that.”

 

Jimin attempts to compose himself. Like a liar, he asks, “How am I looking at you??”

 

“Like you want me.” Taehyung says simply. Beautiful Taehyung and his raw eyed vulnerability—he’s never been good at hiding what he’s feeling. “Don't do that. I can’t handle it.” He adds on a gentle exhale, “You know I can’t and it’s unfair of you to use your looks against me like this.”

 

I do, he thinks.

 

Jimin rubs his lips together, instantly guilty, because of course he’d do that— fall into such a reckless and destructive pattern. Using his looks and the way Taehyung has always been weak to how attracted he is to him to his advantage. He’s ashamed to admit that he’d been hoping it would work. That maybe they’d be able to weather through this sordid awkwardness between them in a way they knew always worked. 

 

Nose wrinkling, Jimin turns away, doesn’t give himself a chance to argue the situation any further. “I’ll take the couch. Please make yourself comfortable here, it's your suite now, too.” He says in parting, rolling his suitcase behind him while feeling Taehyung’s gaze heavy on his back. 

 

Taehyung doesn’t protest, nor does he come out of the bedroom for the next few hours, because while he might not admit it to himself, they are a lot alike… especially when it comes to things like this. Avoidance, like the threat of being singed by fire, was better when they didn't get too close. 

 

“Fuck.” Jimin lets out softly, tossing and turning on the couch, shirtless and staring up at the ceiling. He’s exhausted, can feel the edges of his consciousness begin to betray his movements, making him sluggish, and yet his mind—traitorous as it is masochistic—can only focus on Taehyung.

 

The Taehyung he knew once and the Taehyung sharing a space with him are nothing alike. This Taehyung before him is not the same Taehyung that Jimin felt he’d lost himself in happily and without a care. This Taehyung is the living ghost of Jimin’s mistakes, achingly beautiful and raw. 

 

Being away from him for so long, and then having him so close but so far feels like the cruelest kind of joke, and Jimin swallows the dry lump in his throat and shakes his head. Fights off the urge to let all this ugliness inside him unfurl and take up space inside his chest where the pain is brutal in it's relentless pursuit of making him miserable. 

 

It’s been five years since Jimin has seen Taehyung and his absence stings inside Jimin’s open mouth like a sore left unhealed. 

 

He nibbles his lower lip, curls in on himself, attempting to become smaller so that maybe sleep and a little bit of peace will come easier, at least for a while. 

 

It must be several hours later when Jimin stirs, burying his face under the soft couch cushions. Distantly, through sleep muddled thoughts that slip through his consciousness like quicksand, he wonders when it got so dark and why the air conditioner can’t keep up with the weather. 

 

He feels warmth near his shoulder that leaves, then returns. Higher now, hesitant fingers trailing up his nape. Jimin blinks, disoriented eyes flicking up and finding an unusual sight. 

 

Taehyung. Or rather, a very blurry looking Taehyung. 

 

Jimin’s eyes sting; he fell asleep with his contacts on again. That or the Mexican heat is making him hallucinate seeing Taehyung in a long sleep shirt, barefoot and nibbling his lower lip uncertainly. 

 

Jimin rubs the sleep out of his eyes, trying to peer at Taehyung through the ache in his eyesight. He sits up, does so abruptly which makes Taehyung jerk away from him, a startled squeak leaving his lips. 

 

“Taehyungah,” Jimin murmurs, voice unrecognizable to his own ears, heavy and roughened with exhaustion. “What’s wrong? What are you doing here?”

 

Taehyung gives a short, empty smile, the shadows under his eyes haunting against dusk as the sun sets, burning bright and slipping past the windows. “I can’t sleep and just...” He says, letting out a shaky laugh. Fiddling with the hem of the shirt, it falls around his thighs, unbuttoned down to the center of his chest. Jimin looks away, swallowing hard. “Would it be completely irresponsible and unfair of me to ask if we share the bed and slept beside each other? It's just...you know.”

 

“You can’t sleep alone,” Jimin remembers, numbed by the weight of memories that have made their space inside of him, refusing to leave. Taehyung gives a short nod, and Jimin mirrors him, but doesn’t move to do so. Hesitating, he asks, “You want me to sleep with you in bed?”

 

“Just for tonight,” Taehyung whispers, bringing his arms around his waist, so small when he’s vulnerable and soft. Jimin has never known how to handle him like this, and is at a loss. “Please?”

 

The smart thing would be to say no. Taehyung said so himself, it isn't a good idea for them to share an enclosed space together, not when their memories alone will threaten to crawl out of their depths like living nightmares. But—Jimin is so weak hearted when it comes to beautiful things, and Taehyung has always been beautiful, therefore his ultimate weakness. 

 

He rubs a hand through his hair, stands slowly and doesn’t miss the way Taehyung’s gaze falls on his chest. Brief, but enough to remain on Jimin’s skin. The ghost of a touch he’d once loved palming Jimin’s chest, resting his cheek against it and falling asleep to the sound of his heart beating. 

 

Jimin wonders if he remembers, if when Taehyung looks at him he sees their past playing out before his eyes when things were good, or if all that’s left for him is the face of a man who neglected love while chasing flashing lights. 

 

He doesn’t ask, afraid of what Taehyung’s answer might be. What he does is follow Taehyung to the bedroom, trailing behind him, heart racing unsteadily. The bed is unmade, pillows askew and the curtains drawn, bathing the room in a hazy, pinkish glow as the sun sets. 

 

They don't say a word to each other as they cross the threshold, but it’s so achingly reminded of a routine that Jimin is transported to the two of them doing this many times before. Sliding into their respective sides of the bed, Taehyung the left, Jimin the right. The only difference is that this time there is no meeting in the middle, rather there is a line drawn.

 

Jimin lays stiffly in his spot, and Taehyung is no better. Neither of them fall asleep, nor speak for a while. It’s unbearable in the way that it is also familiar. They have been here before, inside studio apartment in Hongdae, a storm brewing in their bed as the reality of their differing paths became to weigh heavy. Taehyung, a burned out nursing student falling into a deep despair, and Jimin’s acting career as it began to take off pulling them apart.

 

The silence rings loud, building like a migraine behind Jimin’s temples. He stifles a curse, remembering that his contacts are still in, and uses that as an excuse to slide out of bed and give himself a moment. 

 

Taehyung sits up, and Jimin’s expression softens. Gently, he says, “I’ll be back, I’m just going to take out my contacts and grab my glasses.” 

 

“Oh,” Taehyung sighs, nodding. “Okay.” 

 

Hope is a cruel thing, as it makes Jimin believe that Taehyung looks relieved to hear that he’s coming back. But that’s not possible, Taehyung has made it more than clear that he’d rather be anywhere else than sharing a bed and a suite with him. This is nothing more than desperation for proper rest outweighing rational thought. 

 

Within minutes Jimin returns after having taken out his contacts, set them in solution and traded them in for a thin pair of glasses. He also excused himself to the private restroom outside to brush his teeth and wash his face. Taehyung stares at him in shock when he sees the glasses, eyebrows raised.

 

“You use glasses now?” 

 

Jimin shrugs, tilting his head and catching Taehyung’s eye. “It’s not that I can’t see without them, but my sight could be better these days. I hate straining to see shit, it makes my eyes look funny.”

 

“Old age does that,” Taehyung comments offhandedly as Jimin returns to bed, sending him a sidelong glance. “Thirty isn’t too far away for you.”

 

“We are the same age.” Jimin mutters, pursing his lips. “Thirty isn't far for you either. it’s also not old.”

 

“I’m joking,” Something in Taehyung’s sleepy smile shifts then, becomes softer and a lot less teasing. Jimin blinks and it’s gone. “I think they look nice on you. The glasses, I mean.” He says, turning on his side so that he’s facing Jimin fully, the covers draped over his shoulders. 

 

Jimin blushes as he sets the glasses on the bedside table, careful as he gets under the covers so that he doesn’t brush up against Taehyung. The worst kind of torture, but one he endures nonetheless. He’s a masochist at heart. “Thank you.”

 

“You look different,” Taehyung breathes. “All day I’ve been noticing it. The glasses, your hair...you’re not the same anymore.”

 

You have no idea, Jimin thinks. On the outside he smiles, a bit tired. “It's been a long time,” he says as he gets comfortable on his side of the bed without imposing. “You look different, too. We’ve grown up some.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Sleep just won’t come to Jimin in this headspace no matter how hard he tries, and judging by the looks of it across the bed, it’s the same for Taehyung, who looks downright miserable in his exhaustion. It pulls at Jimin’s chest, seeing him uncomfortable, and he rubs at his chest, where it's weird and persistent.

 

Taking a chance, his voice is a whisper amplified in silence. “Taehyungah...do you want to come closer?”

 

Taehyung is very physical in how he sleeps, the kind to curl up around someone and sleep pressed up against them, or use a pillow if he’s on his own. The point is contact, he needs something to hold while he sleeps in order to feel at ease, and Jimin can see that the pillow, while comfortable, just isn't cutting it.

 

“Yeah,” Taehyung says, hoarse. “Yeah, please.” He repeats, more to himself than to Jimin. Slowly, he crawls across the large bed, the distance between them becoming smaller until it doesn’t exist. They are centimeters apart, Taehyung’s bare legs brushing against his. 

 

Jimin draws a deep breath, chest growing big on the inhale when Taehyung comes closer and fits himself beneath Jimin’s chin, gingerly lays a hand on his torso, his palms scalding hot. He’s afraid to move, much less breathe.

 

It has been five years since he’s held Taehyung in his arms, breathed in the citrusy scent of his shampoo, had hands on his skin. If Jimin were greedy he’d savor the moment, map out the places he’d left his mark and refamiliarize himself with every dip and groove making up Taehyung’s body, but he can’t.

 

He doesn’t. His arms lay stiff at his sides, and he wants to touch so badly, but doesn’t know how to reach out and so so without bursting at the seams. Terrified that he will grip Taehyung so tightly that it’ll hurt, and he’ll disappear like flowers when they explode.

 

“Relax,” Taehyung breathes, though he sounds as tense as Jimin feels. His palms find purchase low on Jimin’s back, resting there. “It’s just me.”

 

That’s exactly the point, Jimin thinks, trying to choke down the feeling, then says, “It’s hard, because it is you.”

 

Taehyung nuzzles against Jimin’s throat and hums. By the slowing of his breath, Jimin can tell that he is seconds away from falling asleep. “I’m sorry.” He whispers, his voice quieter now.

 

Realistically there is nothing for him to be sorry for, but Jimin’s been given a chance and is greedy for all he can get. And so he doesn’t respond to Taehyung verbally, rather does so by leaning in to bury his nose against that soft head of dark curls and laying a kiss there. 

 

Taehyung stirs, but doesn’t protest. Instead he hitches his leg across Jimin’s thighs, their bodies impossibly close; Jimin can feel the steady rise and fall of his chest. 

 

He doesn’t succumb to exhaustion right away, using the time he’s been given to ensure Taehyung sleeps peacefully. Through shaky, gentle hands Jimin caresses his back, cards fingers through his hair and keeps his mouth firmly pressed to Taehyung’s forehead. 

 

Sleep, while difficult, comes with Taehyung’s lips against his throat and his hands on Jimin’s lower back. It’s easily the best he’s slept in years. 




___

 

The first time Jimin looked at Taehyung and knew things had changed between them happened when he was seventeen. A trip to visit Taehyung’s aunt Daehun’s house in Daegu for Chuseok; both their families joining them. They took the train, and Jimin held onto Taehyung’s hand the entire time, scared that for some reason, Taehyung’s aunt would hate him. 

 

Moreover, Jimin remembers Taehyung’s hands. How that hadn’t been the first time they’d done so, and yet he felt like he’d been invaded by butterflies that insistently batted their wings against the lining of his stomach. He remembers staring at Taehyung and finding him beautiful in a way that overshadowed everything else, how he’d been hit with an urge to know what his lips felt like, if they would be as soft on his mouth as they looked when he kissed girls.

 

Taehyung kissed lots of girls, as did Jimin. Girls were safe, beautiful and comfortable, and he’d always felt nice around them and treated the few he got to date respectfully, but looking at girls didn’t make Jimin feel the way he felt looking at Taehyung.

 

What sticks with Jimin most is feeling like he’d done something terrible by starting to think about his best friend in such a way, by spending their trip growing more enamored with everything he did until it became too much for him. He’d never felt as small until his heart grew too big trying to fit all of Taehyung in it. 

 

Jimin spent most of that trip pretending to be sick with a nasty stomach bug in order to have a perfect excuse for crying at odd intervals. Stomach cramps, he’d whimper right before running out of Daehun’s lovely little kitchen and into the guest bedroom. 

 

He and Taehyung shared that room, Jimin on the top bunk and Taehyung on the bottom bunk. He never really stood a chance at hiding, not when Taehyung was (and still is) the kind to observe all that goes on around him. 

 

Jimin hadn’t even changed out of his nicest hanbok when Taehyung came into the bedroom and cornered him up against the door, pretty boy smile all knowing and kind. 

 

“Jiminah, Jiminnie, are you hiding something from me?”

 

It dawns on Jimin with clarity that he’s always been a liar, and that his biggest lie to date was telling Taehyung , “No.” with a guilty face and flushed cheeks.

 

But Taehyung has always had patience, and coaxed Jimin out of his fears with soft assurances and warm hands enveloping his, as though he knew—Jimin’s affections began through his hands. 

 

“Are you sure? Because I’ve been hiding something from you, too.” Taehyung asked, catching Jimin’s eye when his gaze fell on his lips. “Everyday I think about kissing a boy who I’ve spent my whole life with, and it gets harder to ignore. Have you ever felt that?”

 

“You’re lying.” 

 

Taehyung held his gaze, daring Jimin by saying, “I’m in love with you.” 

 

Hoarse, Jimin whispered again. “You’re lying to me.”

 

“Never been as honest as I’m being right now.” Taehyung told him matter of fact. “Now, do you know what I mean? Have you ever felt like this?”

 

Jimin’s identity came in collision with his sexuality brutally, and he struggled with both, as well as Taehyung. Abruptly, and while looking at Taehyung in a way that told more truths than he ever could, he said no again. 

 

Taehyung’s smile, razor sharp and playful, loomed closer until their noses brushed alongside each other; Jimin’s gasp lost between their mingled breaths. “Who’s the liar now?”

 

Stubborn, all Busan boy pride at heart, Jimin cupped Taehyung’s jaw, tilting it until Taehyung’s lips fell against his as thigh they’d always felt right there. “You.” He thought, refusing to look himself in the eye and admit the truth. 

 

It’s been eleven years since that first kiss, and Jimin is still lying to himself. Still pretending that when it comes to Taehyung he has it all figured out. 

 

He doesn’t, not really.

 

___



Jeongguk makes his and Namjoon’s arrival to Mexico known by way of calling Jimin constantly, the constant ringing of his cell phone cutting through the haze of too little rest. 

 

Jimin’s limbs feel heavy and sticky with sweat, and he groans, jostling Taehyung in bed with him.

 

 “m’sleepin’.” Taehyung slurs, and Jimin’s grunts, snuggling into him further, lips finding his temple and kissing it sleepily. One kiss begins and follows up with two as Jimin slides lower, kissing the bridge of Taehyung’s nose, the curve of his cupid’s bow and then his lips. Taehyung so pliant and soft in the mornings, he lets Jimin nibble his lower lip before sucking it into his mouth; the sound he makes heady. 

 

Jimin’s hands slide up his back, blunt nails dragging the shirt with him in a bid to get closer and be bathed in warmth. Taehyung shivers, but comes so easy, dipping into Jimin’s tongue and teeth against his lips like honey dripping off a spoon. 

 

“Taehyungah.” Jimin breathes, lingering near Taehyung’s shoulders; he tugs the collar aside, lips finding purchase low on his throat. “Please.”

 

Taehyung tenses, and Jimin stills, realizing what he’s doing. What they’re doing. Harsh breaths mingle as they pull away, and Jimin can’t stop staring at Taehyung’s mouth, glistening and flushed from his kisses. Taehyung fairs no better, staring at Jimin through sleep hooded eyes, pleading while at the same time terrified. 

 

“We should shower,” Jimin says dumbly, at a loss for anything else to say. He can’t get the feel of Taehyung’s mouth off him, how it feels and tastes the same as it always has, but renews Jimin like he’s just taken a hit of cocaine straight to the fucking head. 

 

He stumbles out of bed, attempting to hide his awkward morning wood while Taehyung does the same. They stare at each other from differing points across the room; gazes equally as hot and hungry as they are confused and hesitant.

 

“Jimin,” Taehyung croaks, “If we don’t leave this room I’m going to do something really stupid and ask you to fuck me.”

 

“Yeah.” Jimin rasps, panting hard. He feels like a starved animal teased with morsels of his favorite food—on edge and poised to strike out.  

 

“That wouldn’t be a good idea.” Taehyung says quietly, pained. “I mean...it wouldn’t be the worst thing? Wait, yes it would. Yes, it would. Jeongguk will be pissed if we aren’t around to greet him.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Jiminah,” Taehyung says, “You’re staring at me like you want me again.” 

 

“Hm.” Jimin nods jerkily, the tremble in his hands easing when he runs them through his hair. He does want him, says as much. “I really do, Yeah.” 

 

Taehyung inhales sharply, gives a short nod. His shirt has come undone, held together by two flimsy buttons and hanging off his shoulder. Were it not for the cotton briefs beneath, he’d be bare. 

 

“Right.” He says again, and Jimin can tell he’s nervous as he turns on his heel towards the bathroom door and brushes past him on his way. Scared of going further, moving too fast until he crash lands, burns. “Well, I’m going to shower. Please tell Jeongguk we’ll wait for him to arrive. God knows how he’s gonna’ take our rooming situation.” 

 

Jimin’s left with words in his mouth as the bathroom door is closed firmly, then locked. He can hear Taehyung’s muffled curses behind it, and leans there, forehead up against smooth wood panels before he leaves for his own shower, needing it cold. 



___



By the time they have showered, retained a somewhat human appearance after their exhausting ordeal, and are awkwardly shuffling through a complimentary breakfast, refusing to make eye contact, Jeongguk arrives.

 

Jimin can tell he has judging by the way people stop and stare; Jeongguk has been having that effect on people for years, so handsome he’d give any actor or model a run for their money. Never mind that now, joined by his fiancé, he looks fresh out of a men's health magazine. Sporting a healthy glow high on his cheeks and proudly wearing a groom to be pin on his open collared shirt, Jeongguk looks happy. 

 

“I feel like Blair Waldorf, only gay and with better taste in men.” Jeongguk says dreamily, doing a slow sleep around the lobby.

 

Behind him, hauling their bags and chatting amongst themselves is the wedding party consisting of their best man, as well as Hoseok and Yoongi as the groomsmen. 

 

“Who the hell is Blair Waldorf?” Jimin can hear Yoongi asking Hoseok. Judging by the way his face pulls dull when Hoseok does explain, he’s not amused by the reference at all. When they spot Jimin they smile, then come to a slow halt when they notice who’s sitting across from him. 

 

Jeongguk differs from them, considering he’s too blissed on his impending nuptials to realize the tension in the air, and bounces towards Jimin, tugging Namjoon along with him before he breaks out into a rushed jog and plops onto Jimin’s lap.

 

“Hyung, you made it!” 

 

Jimin catches Namjoon’s amused smirk over Jeongguk’s shoulder and laughs, ruffling his hair. “Of course I did. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything, you brat. You would’ve tracked me down.”

 

“Jiminah,” Namjoon nods in greeting, handsome when twin dimples wink at him. He spots Taehyung and does the same, sending him a small wave, too. “Taehyungah, we’re so glad you could make it, too. Now it feels like everyone important is here.”

 

Taehyung comes to a stand, embracing Namjoon when he offers up a hug, before he turns towards Jeongguk, who’s already out of Jimin’s lap and enveloping him in a tight hug that knocks the wind out of him. 

 

“Taehyungie,” Jeongguk sings, face brightening something lovely. He even does a little step, wriggling excitedly. “I thought you weren’t sure you could make it because of the hospital?”

 

Taehyung avoids Jimin’s curious gaze, tells Jeongguk something about working his schedule out with someone named Seojoon and switching their vacations up. Jimin isn’t sure exactly, busy greeting his hyungs once they arrive at the table and begin taking bites off Jimin’s plate.

 

But God, does Jimin want to ask, wants to know. If only he had the nerve to ask Taehyung himself, rather than having to resort to asking Jeongguk when they have a moment alone; Namjoon, Taehyung and their hyungs all heading towards the reception desk to check-in. 

 

No sooner are they left on their own that Jeongguk begins grilling Jimin for all he’s worth, pouting across the table despite opening his mouth every time Jimin offers him a bite of a freshly prepared stack of golden pancakes. 

 

“Tell me everything, and don’t skip out on the details. It’s a known rule that from here on out until after the wedding day you have to be nice to me.” Jeongguk says, sending Jimin a wry smile when he rolls his eyes. “Not that I have a problem with you and Taehyungie reuniting, but you never said anything on the phone. That feels like something you should have mentioned over the phone.”

 

Jimin laughs. If only Jeongguk knew the half of it, how these circumstances are still somewhat of a surprise to him as much as they are to anyone else. Starting from the room mishap, the shared bed, Taehyung going pliant into their heated kiss, Taehyung telling Jimin that if given the chance he’d be reckless and fuck him.. 

 

All of that turns Jeongguk’s ears pink once he’s been made aware, leaves his cute little mouth slack before he recovers, whistling slowly. “Goddamn, that’s a lot. Are you sure you can handle that kind of confrontation? Because I was there during the aftermath of that breakup, it wasn’t a pretty sight on either end.”

 

Jimin doesn’t respond for a moment, lost in his thoughts. Like a moth drawn to a flame, he finds Taehyung in the crowd, smiling at Yoongi, leaning into him when he says something funny. 

 

“I’m not sure if I can.” Jimin confesses, picking at his food. “But I’m going to keep that shit under wraps. Don't wanna’ ruin your special day with my drama. Who’s Seojoon by the way?”

 

Jeongguk giggles, coy in the way he drums his fingers against the table, that fat diamond Namjoon placed on his ring finger obnoxious and eye catching. A princess cut engagement ring. “Ah hyung, are you jealous?”

 

“Yeah.” Jimin mutters, hating that he is. As loathsome as it is to admit, he’s itching to know whether Taehyung is seeing someone even while knowing that it’ll hurt if he is. 

 

Teasing as he is kind, Jeongguk shakes his head. “Seojoon works with Taehyung in the hospital. They’re friends, Seojoon is married and has really adorable twins.” The confusion written across Jimin’s face causes Jeongguk’s expression to soften. He murmurs, “Taehyungie is a registered nurse now. He works in the maternity ward tending to the babies.”

 

Jimin smiles, hoping it fools Jeongguk. It doesn’t, but Jeongguk always holds such kindness in his eyes, that it’s hard to pretend around him. 

 

“So he got to graduate?” He asks, then gives a short but empty laugh. “That’s a dumb question, of course he did. Taehyung is very smart, not to mention hardworking. I’m glad he did.”

 

“But you wish you’d been there, right?” 

 

Jimin twists his lips, biting down pensively. Selfishly, he does wish he’d been there to see Taehyung graduate, but it’s the same way he wishes he’d been there for Taehyung in a lot of ways; all of one tangled clusterfuxk of regrets Jimin has to live with. 

 

He remembers coming home late to find Taehyung hunched over the desk and surrounded by textbooks, sleeping soundly. Many nights were spent with Jimin carrying him to bed and wrestling him out of his clothes so he wouldn’t be uncomfortable. He remembers how exam season brought forth dark shadows under Taehyung’s eyes and crippling anxiety.

 

Jimin remembers very vividly that he’d started going to therapy for that, but isn’t sure on whether Taehyung kept going to his appointments after their break up and isn’t invasive enough to ask. 

 

“It is what it is.” Jimin says, resting his chin against his hand. Moreover, even if he did have a problem with things, it’s not like he has a say in the matter. Taehyung broke up with him for a reason.

 

“At least you haven’t ripped each other’s heads off,” Jeongguk smirks, “Or your clothes for that matter. You could cut the tension between you two with a knife.”

 

“You didn’t even notice he was here.” Jimin scoffs lightly. “What are you on about, boy? Mind your manners, don’t get scandalous with your hyung like this.”

 

“I’m overwhelmed by literally everything these days,” Jeongguk counters, and then he’s smiling, blissed with a hint of color around his cheeks. “Besides, it's been a long time since we were all together like this and I’m happy. I missed everyone being together.”

 

“Well, we’re all happy to be here for you and Namjoon.” Jimin chuckles, glancing down at his plate. He’s picked at his food and fed some of it to Jeongguk instead of eating it. His appetite just isn’t there. “Hey,” He says after a small moment of silence, “Is Taehyung doing alright these days?”

 

Jeongguk sighs, making this awkward kind of coughing noise in response. “Well, you should probably ask him yourself, but I think he’s been doing well.” He suggests, “Better you hear things from him than through me, you know? That way you’ll have things to talk about during this trip other than your homoerotic tensions.”

 

“You’re literally marrying a man.” Jimin deadpans. “You and Namjoon thrive on homoerotic tensions. What are you on about?”

 

“This isn’t about me and Namjoon. This is about you and Taehyungie.”

 

He’s right, Jimin thinks. Then says so, giving Jeongguk a small smile. “You’re right. I guess I’m just awkward around him. It’s been a long time.” 

 

Jeongguk doesn’t have a chance to say whatever he plans on, considering that his fiancé and the others return, ready to party, it seems. Jet-lag be damned, Hoseok and Seokjin are ready to hit the pool, whereas Yoongi is ready to hit the cabanas and have a drink under the sun. 

 

Taehyung hangs back as the others heads towards the villa Jimin has paid for during their stay. The sky villa, a luxurious, private space he reserved the wedding party as a wedding gift, in addition to extending Namjoon and Jeongguks’ stay in the resort for their honeymoon after they’ve all returned home. 

 

Jimin hesitates following the group, checking on Taehyung, who scrolls through his phone for a moment, a casual hand tucked into his pocket. 

 

“Taehyungah,” Jimin calls, gesturing towards their friends. “Are you coming with us?”

 

Jimin watches Taehyung’s expressive face for signs of not wanting him around after what happened this morning, but does not find any. Taehyung simply stares at him, backlit by hints of sun that brightens up the lobby. Whatever held his interest on his phone no longer important. 

 

“Yeah yeah, sorry for spacing out. I was just double checking with my dad about my dog.” He says, showing Jimin a photo of said dog, which happens to be his lock screen. “This is Tannie, the baby I’m gonna be adopting soon.” 

 

Jimin leans in, chuckling at the dog. It’s a small kind of thing, a little tuft of fur held up by Taehyung’s large hands; he has comically thick looking eyebrows. Very suitable for Taehyung and cute, too. 

 

“Oh my god, this dog is fucking adorable. Do you have more photos?” Jimin tells him, and Taehyung beams with pride, then begins showing him an album full of different photos of the puppy in all kinds of outfits and poses as they follow after their friends. Apparently his full name is Yeontan, and Taehyung is interested in adopting him only after researching all it takes to care for a Pomeranian puppy. 

 

“At first I wasn’t gonna’ adopt a dog, because pets are a big commitment and my schedule is unpredictable, but I think I'm going to. I’d love having something to come home to and fuss over. Dad is going through the process with me and helping me stay in touch with the breeder.” 

 

Jimin pauses for a second, then swallows. “How is your dad recently?” The last time Jimin saw him was during the ordeal of moving Taehyung’s things out of their apartment along with Taehyungs’ aunt, and the man had been furious to say the least, outraged that Jimin would treat his son the way he had.

 

“Fame is superficial and will only last as long as your good looks do,” He’d scoffed at Jimin, backed by the weight of a thousand protective fathers, all that controlled rage aimed at him. “But when those looks fade and you are left with only those awards on your walls, you will realize a home is not a home when it’s built on the pain of others, Park Jimin. I hope you will reflect on your actions and become a better man.” 

 

Taehyung tenses, but doesn’t stop walking, which leaves Jimin to jog behind him. “He’s doing alright. We’ve gotten closer, he listens and tries to understand my thoughts more now, so we’re in a good place.” 

 

“I’m glad to hear that.” Jimin nods, watching Taehyung stare at him strangely. As though he can’t fathom that Jimin would genuinely still care about a man that hates his guts, or his son. 

 

Together they arrive at the sky villa, and are soon swept up in the ebb and flow of pre-wedding festivities, hauled apart by their friends to do different things. 

 

Jeongguk wants to go sunbathing by the pool along with Jimin, Hoseok and Seokjin, then hit the city for sightseeing, whereas Namjoon, Yoongi and Taehyung go for drinks at a private bar nestled beside the bedrooms and are content to stay at the hotel for some R&R. 

 

Inside the pool the water is warm and soothing against Jimin’s skin, and he dives beneath it, comforted by the white noise and emptiness of his thoughts before he comes up, brushing slick dark hair off his eyes. The sea of Cortez is their background, shimmering and crystalline waters that make up a picturesque scenery for their trip. 

 

Jimin wades in the water, taking in the view when Seokjin nudges his side and offers him a colorful looking drink that’s a mixture of being too fruity for him, but hits the spot anyways. They drink in comfortable silence for a few minutes, and Jimin likes that about Seokjin. How he’s content to just be without needing anything else. Their friendship stabilizes Jimin when he’s a little too chaotic, and for that he’s grateful to his hyung. 

 

Fame might’ve changed Jimin, but it’s worked wonders on Seokjin. His roles in historic dramas capture the hearts of many fans overseas, yet he retains his humility and doesn’t boast about his achievements even when he can. Jimin wishes he was that kind of man, but isn’t sure what would be left of him without the glitz and glamor. The thought is sobering.

 

“Hyung, do you have any regrets? Things that keep you up at night?” 

 

Seokjin runs a wet hand over his chest, pensive as he mulls over an answer. The sound of Jeongguk’s bright laughs can be heard behind him as he coaxes Namjoon to get into the pool; Jimin and Seokjin smile. 

 

“Everyone has regrets, I’m no different. There’s things I’ve said or done that I wish I hadn’t. Why do you ask?” 

 

Unsurprisingly, Jimin’s gaze finds Taehyung. He has his shirt off and wrapped around his head like some kind of Korean Baywatch lifeguard and is laughing alongside Yoongi while Hoseok and Jeongguk wrestle Namjoon into the water. He’s gorgeous under the sun, oiled up and strong looking. 

 

“I’ve just been thinking about things lately and wondering whether apologies matter sometimes.” Jimin trails off, returning to his drink. 

 

Seokjin catches Jimin staring and makes a soft sound. He understands immediately. “Well it depends on what you’re expecting out of an apology. Because everyone can and should apologize when they’re wrong, but everyone can’t and shouldn’t expect apologies to fix everything. I’m not sure how to answer since all situations are different. Are you thinking about apologizing to Taehyung?”

 

Jimin hums, wading in the water. “I’m thinking about it, but I’m not really sure if it’ll do any good. It’s been five years, hyung.” 

 

His doubts must reflect clear as day on his face, because Seokjin looks downright pitying for him, which Jimin kind of hates but also understands. “Here’s what I’m gonna tell you as your oldest and most handsome hyung—no, that is not the alcohol talking, I am easily the most gorgeous man ever—You can apologize to someone, mean it sincerely from the bottom of your heart and make your peace with that, but you also have to be prepared for that apology not to be accepted. Because, Jiminah, nobody is entitled to forgive people when they hurt us, you know what I mean? I’m not saying he won’t accept your apology, but I’m also saying for you to think about if you’re good to handle an outcome different than the one you’re hoping for.”

 

At a loss on what to respond, Jimin takes his own advice: silence is golden, don’t waste it. 

 

But, Seokjin is very good about these things and even better when it’s related to Jimin. His general energy is calm and kind, and he speaks to people like they matter regardless of whether they are right or wrong, so he doesn’t judge Jimin, nor urge him to respond further. 

 

Jimin has worked and befriended many people in this line of work, but good people—friends— like Seokjin are hard to come across and must be valued immensely. 

 

That’s a thing Jimin’s has been trying to do more of as he’s gotten older and (he hopes) wiser. Appreciating the people that matter, assuring them that they do. Taking care of them, checking in. Little things that go a long way in the long run. 

 

Had he done that with Taehyung maybe their outcome would’ve been different and they’d still be together. Jimin liked to believe that they were ‘it’ for each other at that time, the be all, end all, but as an adult now, jaded through circumstance, he recognizes that all relationships require work. 

 

He looks at Namjoon and Jeongguk, finds them cuddled up against the edge of the pool. Namjoon is whispering things in Jeongguk’s ear that have him red in the face and giddy, and they look happy. The happiest any of their group would hope to achieve with their partners, but realistically they must have their issues sometimes.

 

Jimin wonders how they handle it, being apart sometimes, their own insecurities. He’s spent so long wearing the masks of different people that sometimes, when Jimin looks in the mirror, he doesn’t recognize who’s staring back at him anymore. 

 

Maybe that is why Taehyung sometimes looks at Jimin so strangely, maybe he can’t recognize him either. Maybe he lost sight of the Jimin he fell in love with once his absences became more frequent. 

 

Jimin’s not sure of much these days, kind of wading through a long list of things he wishes he’d done better. The difference between wading through regret and through water is that one will pull him under and drown him. 



___



The first time Jimin introduces Taehyung to his new friends is during a press junket for his first film once it took off in cinemas. It was a small, but luxurious venue on the outskirts of Apgujeong-dong and anyone who was anyone had been invited, Jimin’s friends included. 

 

Taehyung had seen the invitation on their kitchen table a week prior to the event, panicked, then proceeded to stress over what he would wear to such a thing.

 

Everyday after his classes he’d stand in front of their joint closet, hands poised on his hips and glaring. It is how Jimin would find him when he returned home during those few days.

 

On his own Taehyung liked to talk to himself, which is the sight Jimin was greeted with.“I literally have not worn or owned a suit since high school. How am I going to compete with actors and actresses in high end clothes and lip fillers?” 

 

“That’s a super easy question to answer. There’s no competition, you’ll be the most handsome in the room.”

 

Taehyung, caught up in his rants, hadn’t noticed Jimin come in and promptly flinched, then eased when he realized what he’d heard. All self doubt aside, he’d stepped into Jimin’s open arms and stood there, letting himself be held and kissed; he loved it when Jimin took control of things and initiated them, his own shyness sometimes keeping him at bay.

 

“You’re just biased because you love me.” Taehyung said, breathless under Jimin’s heavy hands deftly unbuttoning his shirt and pulling it aside. All that golden skin on show, soft to the touch, he shivered when small fingers brushed against his nipples. “Ah—Yeah, definitely biased. You love me so much because you think I’m hot.”

 

“I love you not only because you’re hot and have a big dick, sure,” Jimin purred, trailing a single fingertip down the center of Taehyung’s chest, his touched laced with intent as he hunkered between Taehyung's thighs and tugged at his belt. “But also because you’re more than a pretty face. In a room full of people you’d still be the most interesting and the only one who’d hold my attention, which is worth more to me than designer clothes and lip fillers ever could.”

 

When Taehyung blushed it started from his chest, then worked its way up his face. Full body shudders, he’d surrender to his desires, a real treat for Jimin to witness every time it happened. 

 

“Jiminah,” Taehyung groaned, nearly stumbling in his haste to kick off his pants. Breathless, he said, “Fuck, I’ll never find an outfit at this rate.”

 

Jimin’s hands, while smaller than his, spanned flat against the bulge tenting Taehyung's briefs, cupping his cock through the fabric. It always marveled him how Taehyung was big and heavy even while soft. 

 

“For what I have planned you won’t need any clothes.” Jimin breathed hot against his crotch, suckling Taehyung’s soft cock through the fabric and wetting the shaft. “Let’s not think about it for now, lovely.”

 

And well, they didn’t. Jimin and Taehyung were the kind to forget the world existed outside their home on a regular day, never mind when the clothes came off. It was as though nothing could get past their bed, especially their troubles.

 

The first time Taehyung met Jimin’s friends he did so in style, because while Jimin knew that labels didn’t matter to them, he also wanted Taehyung to not only look incredible, but feel it too. Granted, the silky black shirt was undone a little too low to be discreet, given that he’d blown Jimin on the way to the venue, but that was their secret to keep. 

 

As expected, in a room surrounded by influential people, Jimin only cared about Taehyung. While it was no secret to anyone that Jimin was gay, nobody had ever been introduced formally to his partner, and that night was their first official outing together in the spotlight. Their country wasn’t easily accepting to what conservatives called taboo, but Jimin wasn’t about to let that dictate how he did things, much less live.

 

When he’d accepted the role as Oh Seungjoo he’d done so knowing the critics wouldn’t be kind. A film about a gay man living a double life as an idol adored by many female fans, while having an intimate and sexual relationship with his music producer behind the scenes hit a little too close to home for the entertainment industry. And so he hasn’t expected much from such a daring and small project other than getting paid. 

 

That all changed when an influential film critic got wind of it and their review had gone viral online, thus catching everyone’s attention. The film had been a success, much to everyone’s surprise, especially Jimin’s. While harsh reviews came in spades, he thrived under the praise he received for his emotional performance as Oh Seungjoo, a role that he’d invested a lot of himself in personally. 

 

The attention he’d garnered from that film opened many doors for Jimin, more opportunities for him to explore, and with that, more people to meet. Among the cast for The most beautiful moment in life, Jimin got to know the staff during filming, too, which is where most of his friends were made. Jung Hoseok, responsible for choreographing Jimin’s dance sequences, as well as his (then secret) partner, Min Yoongi, sound engineer and the one responsible for Oh Seungjoo’s emotional ballads that featured in the film’s soundtrack. Kim Seokjin hadn’t starred in that film, but he’d been invited as a guest after showing his support for the film online, and as a plus one brought Kim Namjoon, one of Taehyung’s favorite writers, and last but not least, Jeongguk, who’d started working as Jimin’s makeup artist recently then. 

 

All in all, meeting them had been an experience Jimin cherishes dearly, not only because each man in their own right was lovely and friendly, but because they’d met Taehyung and embraced him as though he was one of their own right away. Especially Jeongguk and Yoongi; they’d taken to Taehyung quickly, and by the end of the night even exchanged numbers.

 

Seeing Taehyung’s excited smiles when he'd gotten to hold a conversation with The Kim Namjoon over his last book was worth more than money could buy for Jimin, and so he made it a point to always bring Taehyung along to as many events in Korea as he could. Going public with his relationship brought tensions and it’s own brand of issues, but things had been good for a while, Taehyung was through the moon with pride over being referred to as Jimin’s ‘gorgeous other half’ and Jimin was ecstatic to indulge him in a more glamorous lifestyle. 

 

Things took a turn for the worst when he’d been set to film overseas, he knows that’s when it began to slowly deteriorate. Not a landslide kind of chaos post Japan, but a slow descent into unhappiness. It was then that Jimin’s friends grew closer to Taehyung in his absence, celebrating milestones Jimin couldn’t participate in thanks to his grueling schedules. 



 

On his way to grab a drink Jimin spies Taehyung by the bar and thinks maybe he should offer to buy him a drink as a buffer. Loosen them up before he apologized for this morning and for countless other things. 

 

But the thought faded as quickly as it came when Jimin noticed the bartender making eyes at Taehyung as she served him a drink. Worse than that was Taehyung responding to such open flirtation with a playfulness that meant he was enjoying it. 

 

Jimin knew Taehyung was bisexual as much as he knew Taehyung’s type, and this gorgeous girl seemed exactly like the type he’d date. 

 

He tells himself he’ll buy him a drink anyway to be polite, but his feet grow roots where he’s standing and refuse to budge. 

 

Across from Taehyung is Yoongi, and when he finds Jimin staring their way his gaze grows horribly apologetic and soft. 

 

Jimin’s stomach sinks down to his feet when the girl reaches across the bar to play with a thin chain around Taehyung’s neck and he lets her. He’s only human and being the better person is difficult under the circumstances.

 

So Jimin ignores Yoongi’s pity, as well as Taehyung and returns to the pool, brooding and nursing a headache. His friends notice the increasing tension growing around him and try their best to diffuse it all with talks of the wedding and plans for more trips like this one.

 

Jimin doesn’t look for Taehyung any longer, and tries to ignore him when he does return from the bar and the others heckle him for leaving them for a while. 

 

“Ah, can’t a man appreciate a pretty girl and not make moves on her?” Taehyung drawls teasingly, a frown downturning his lips when he catches Jimin’s eye roll. “She was beautiful, but not my type.”

 

Jimin swallows, hating the way Taehyung can read him so well when others can’t as easy. He excuses himself from the pool after a while and sits by the edge of it, toweling his hair and enjoying the silence while it lasts.

 

Taehyung swims to the edge, as though looking for Jimin. Jimin wishes he wouldn’t, not when his insides feel as though they’ve been scrubbed with a brillow pad. Not when Taehyung looks sexy and sunkissed, glistening wet. 

 

“Yoongi Hyung said to come check on you.”

 

“You should tell hyung not to do me any favors.” Jimin says bluntly, “Might as well heed the same advice for yourself too, Taehyung.”

 

Taehyung looks reluctant to answer, but he does anyway. “You’d think by now you’d know me better. Nothing happened with that girl, we were just talking.”

 

“You don’t have to explain yourself to me, Tae,” Jimin says on a sigh, more dissent than the casual vibe he’s attempting to throw out there. Easy peasy, like he isn’t raging with jealousy like some kind of insecure teenybopper nursing their first crush. He hates it. “She was really pretty, I would’ve flirted with her, too.”

 

“I meant what I said when I told the hyungdeuls that she’s not my type.” Taehyung chuckles, idly flicking Jimin’s shin with water. “I’m uh—singularly into men now.”

 

“Oh.” Jimin says lamely. “I see.”

 

Taehyung flashes Jimin a crooked smile, boxy at the edges. “Yeah,” he says softly, holding Jimin’s gaze as though he knows that Jimin knows what he’s trying to say, too.



__





A gentle breeze blows against Jimin’s hair as he stands on the balcony of his and Taehyung’s villa, staring out at the sun as it sets once more and nursing a glass of whiskey on the rocks. Inside, Taehyung is getting ready for dinner and drinks, as per the groom’s (Jeongguk’s) request. A day spent lounging by the pool and resort not enough for him, he wants to soak up the sun and the culture for as long as he can.

 

That and he wants to take advantage of being shirtless as much as he can without having to face his parents’ judgemental stares, too. Namjoon, while mildly scandalized by his fiancé’s constant state of undress, can’t take his eyes off him. He’s been subjected to teasing from all of them because of this, which he’s shrugged off despite his ears turning pink. 

 

Cut to now, Jimin is dressed and ready for a fun night out with his friends, only instead of being excited about it, he’s still mulling over the conversation he’d had with Seokjin earlier in the day.

 

Taehyung deserves an apology, Jimin knows he does. While they weren’t perfect at times, and no relationship issue is ever one-sided, he can’t deny that their downfall had been his fault and that Taehyung made the right choice in leaving him even though it hurt.

 

But Seokjin is right. Jimin isn’t sure if he’s ready to face the consequences of what that apology will bring with it. He can barely look Taehyung in the eye after their kiss this morning as it is, and they’d both been guilty of that, he can’t imagine how an overdue conversation about their breakup would go. 

 

“It'd probably be a disaster.” Jimin tells his whiskey. 

 

A few minutes later as he’s topping up another glass, Taehyung arrives at the balcony, leaning against the doorway. 

 

Jimin nearly drops his goddamn glass, slippery fingers struggling to hold onto it tight. “Fuck.” He swears quietly, then against his better judgment, says it out loud. “Fuck, Taehyung.”

 

Taehyung does a slow turn, comes closer. “Yeah?” He asks, coy in his smile. As though he forgot that just this morning he’d told Jimin how unfair it was to use their looks against each other when resisting temptation is hard. 

 

Wordless, jaw tensed, Jimin nods. 

 

Taehyung hums. He looks lovely wearing a loose, sheer tank top that dips low around his chest, dark linen pants that hug around his strong legs and ass, sandals and a single earring in the shape of a thin feather that’s visible due to him tucking a few damp strands of hair behind his ear; tropical heat agrees with him. 

 

Jimin’s mouth waters. He could drool like a dog at this point, feels just as starved as one. 

 

“You look nice, too.” He says, quiet as he is appraising, his gaze dripping with something Jimin hasn’t seen in a long time—the same damn hunger he’s lived with since being deprived of Taehyung. 

 

Jimin feels hot around the collar, tugs at it for good measure. He’d gone for a simpler, more comfortable look. Deciding on a white button down shirt with short sleeves and loose enough not to be stifling in the heat, fitted bermuda shorts and a casual pair of strappy sandals. He ditched the contacts for his glasses tonight, his eyes still sensitive from last night. 

 

The way Taehyung looks at his legs makes Jimin never want to wear long pants again, much less his contacts. He runs a hand through his hair, silver rings cool against his forehead. 

 

“You’re staring at me like you want me, Taehyung.” Jimin says, throwing Taehyung’s words back at him, sauntering past the balcony and into the suite. Seeing how he likes it—his own brand of medicine. 

 

Taehyung follows after him, and they leave it at that. As usual of them, sweeping things under the rug until the mess becomes too big to ignore. Until they’re buried underneath it all.

 

Twenty minutes later, the seven of them are cramped inside a Jeep on their way to Uno Mas? A local bar recommended to them by the hotel staff. Great music, cheap drinks, and a real inside look of Mexican nightlife that’s perfect for tourists looking for a good time without wanting to get too crazy. 

 

Jimin wishes the staff understood that whenever the seven of them are together, no matter the circumstances, they’re always going to get a little too crazy. A little too loud. It's fucking fantastic, being able to let loose and relive the best times of his life with his favorite people, even if one of them might not believe he is.

 

Their night kicks off with a tray of tequila, lime and salt, as well as Jimin’s slow Spanish. He catches the attention of a passing bartender, looks him in the eye, and says as confidently as he can, “Eh...Mi colega se casa pronto.” Pointing to Jeongguk, Jimin, then adds with a grin, “¿Mas bebidas?” 

 

The bartender, a young man sporting a fitted tee sporting the bar’s logo and a bright smile, claps Jimin on the back, then winks at Jeongguk. ”¡Mas bebidas!”

 

Jeongguk thrives under the attention and squirms in Namjoon’s lap as he licks salt off his throat before taking his shot; if he’s concerned about locals finding he and his fiancés PDA gross or inappropriate he doesn’t let on about it, having too much fun.

 

Alcohol moves freely amongst their group, with every hyung treating Jeongguk and Namjoon to a drink and toasting their soon to be nuptials.

 

“May you both live a happy life with many blessings and many new memories.” Yoongi cheers, up on his feet and holding up a glass bottle. “You all make us horribly aware of how in love you are all the damn time, you fuckers. To Namjoon and Jeongguk.”

 

Together they all follow suit, clinking their drinks before knocking them back; Hoseok sputtering when he swallows too fast for his low tolerance, heat flushed against his handsome face under vibrant red lights. 

 

“Jeongguk, this is important.” Seokjin says after a moment, at his most chaotic—his shirt wide open and exposing an obscene amount of chest and abs, one would never think he’s thirty one years old, nearing thirty two. “Say Papi. Call Namjoon Papi.”

 

Horrified, Jimin and Namjoon say, “Jeongguk, no.” At the same time Taehyung, across from them, says, “Jeongguk, Yes.”

 

They both stare at each other across the table; Taehyung winks at Jimin, and Jimin, unable to handle it, knocks back a shot of patrón. 

 

A happy disorder overcomes their group. Jeongguk confused, tipsy and touchy crawls on Namjoon’s lap, attempts to be seductive as he follows Seokjin and Taehyungs’ instruction while Namjoon holds him steady so he doesn’t topple over and hurt them both . Yoongi is the most adorable drunk there is, belting out the lyrics to the English songs played, and Hoseok is his fond partner, egging him on to sing louder and become an idol.

 

A gorgeous group of women linger near their table, making eyes at Taehyung and Seokjin where they sit, enjoying their drinks in equal states of casual and handsome. Jimin can sympathize, as he too, is making eyes at Taehyung, wishing that the empty space in his lap was occupied by him instead. 

 

Alcohol doesn't hit him as hard as it does the others since his tolerance is higher, but it does make him horny, and touchy, which explains why he paws at Hoseok’s sides as he leads them in a dance; showing Jimin why he’s a critically acclaimed choreographer, he’s adept in salsa dancing, twirling Jimin across the dance floor and giggling along with him. 

 

“Taehyung can’t stop staring at you, you know?” He shouts in Jimin’s ear, pulling back to nod towards their table, where Taehyung, is in fact, staring. His gaze hot on Jimin’s body, it makes him shiver, makes the sweat clinging to his skin began to itch. 

 

Jimin’s cheeks feel hot to the touch. Purposely coy, he shrugs. “He’s just drunk! You’re drunk, too, Hyung.” 

 

Hoseok beams, brings Jimin flush to him, their bodies pressed chest to chest, hips smooth as they move together; he guides Jimin in a circle, turns him by the waist, then dips him. Slow on the come-up, he tells Jimin, “Hell yeah, I am, but I know tension when I see it, baby. You both got it bad, please do something about it.”

 

Jimin giggles, losing his composure in a snort when he’s tossed around like this, dancing freely and now hyper aware of someone’s eyes on him. Led by Yoongi to the bar, Hoseok eventually left Jimin on his own.

 

Swept up in the atmosphere, Jimin dances until he’s sure his feet will give out on him with anyone who’s up for it. If anyone were to ask him who these people are he wouldn’t know a single thing apart from how they dance and how they look. 

 

Distantly, as a little nagging thing that won’t leave him, he hopes Taehyung has been watching and thinking on how that could be him wrapped around Jimin if only they’d do something about it.

 

Come and get me, Jimin thinks, lured by the prospect of feeling those heavy hands on him. Disappointed when the hands he does feel, while nice, aren't the ones he wants.

 

Eventually, he returns to the table on shaky legs, thirsty and dripping with sweat. He finds Taehyung on his own, nursing a bottle of water rather than alcohol, eyeing him over the rim. He’d never been a big drinker.

 

“You look like you’re having fun.”

 

“Caught you staring a few times.” He says smoothly, daring Taehyung to argue. He doesn’t.

 

“You’re into that. Being watched.” Taehyung responds all lazy-like, he slips into a drawl that comes with his natural dialect; it gets Jimin all kinds of hot and bothered where it shouldn’t be doing that. 

 

“I like being watched when it means something,” Jimin bites his lip. “Superficial things don’t do it for me anymore.”

 

“Park Jimin, you sound like a serious man.” Taehyung deadpans, chuckling low. “But I know better.” 

 

“Maybe.” Jimin nods, panting as he sweeps his dampened hair off his forehead. He frowns upon realizing their friends aren’t at the table. “Where are the others?”

 

Taehyung wordlessly gestures towards the bar, and Jimin gets it. 

 

More drinks. They’re going to have to call an Uber without a doubt. Jeongguk won’t make it to his wedding, too hungover to walk down the aisle under the blazing sun. 

 

“Since when do you know Spanish?”

 

Jimin shrugs a little, staring ahead. Anything to from gawking at Taehyung like he’s in heat. “I took some classes. Spent a few weeks in Madrid studying the language for a show I was a part of, but didn’t really speak much of in. The rest is all duolingo, to be honest.” 

 

“Madrid? Jesus.” Taehyung quirks a dark brow, a single finger rubbing over his lower lip. Jimin finds himself leaning closer as well, their thighs touching. He draws a deep, shuddering breath when Taehyung’s palm encloses around his knee.

 

“Just part of the job.” Jimin says, a touch out of his skin. There are shivers running down his spine, and it’s because Taehyung has placed his bottled water against Jimin’s throat, cooling him down. 

 

“Right.” He whispers in Jimin’s ear, the tip of his nose softly grazing just beneath; it makes Jimin’s earring move. “The job.”

 

“What about your job?” Jimin breathes, attempting to hold a conversation like a functioning human being capable of spoken word. “Do you enjoy being a nurse?”

 

Taehyung stretches in his seat, thighs spread wide. Sitting in a comfortable slouch, a hand dangling between his knees, he hums low. Pensive. If he’s bothered about Jimin knowing what he works in he doesn’t show it. On the contrary, he looks pleased. “Fucking love it, actually. I love getting to care for the babies in the maternity ward.”

 

“You like caring for small things.” Jimin says, tongue coming out to wet his lower lip. 

 

“I’ve had a lot of practice.” He remarks softly, holding Jimin’s gaze. “Don’t you think?”

 

Dark eyes glint under neon lights, and Jimin’s feeling hazy, shuddering as he moves to take a sip of water, needing something to focus on instead of Taehyung’s hot mouth so near his. 

 

He drinks greedily, aware of how close he sits beside Taehyung, then pulls away from the bottle with a gasp; it comes up empty. He’d been thirstier than he realized.

 

“You want more, pretty?” Taehyung asks, coming to a stand slowly, a hand held out for Jimin. 

 

“Yeah,” Jimin whispers, comes closer, standing in front of Taehyung. He’s not talking about the water, and thinks Taehyung wasn’t referring to it, either. Under these red lights, mingled with bass heavy music, lies Jimin’s uncertainty. He lays a hand flat against Taehyung’s stomach, feels it tense as he dips beneath the gauzy shirt and feels hot skin. “Can I?”

 

“You used to know these things.” Taehyung settles a hand low on his back, brings Jimin as close as can be. The tension comes to a slow kind of standstill, wraps around them something fierce, something too heavy for words to comprehend. 

 

Nonetheless, Taehyung nods, and it rings loud inside Jimin’s head. A shot to the chest, that single nod breaks something in him.

 

It takes a second, the single tick of the clock to bring down five years of pent up longing, of nights spent with replacements for the one he’s been wanting most. The walls come down, and Jimin is on Taehyung, small hands cupping his jaw as their lips touch.

 

It’s a lot where it’s not supposed to be, having Taehyung’s lips against his again in such a short matter of time, and Jimin groans against them.

 

Whether this is a mistake or not, he's not sure, but what Jimin can be certain of is that kissing Taehyung again is akin to being a starving man served up his favorite meal; Taehyung's mouth the only sustenance he needs.

 

Taehyung responds in kind, and he has this heavy way about him where he stares at Jimin through half lidded eyes as they kiss Iike he weights it all with the utmost care, engraving it into his thoughts, his person.

 

Jimin gets lost in sensation, because this is Taehyung—Him and Taehyung—they’ve always been a lot. He exhales, whimpering quietly when Taehyung nibbles his lower lip and draws it into his mouth.

 

It’s wet and hot, a little messy where finesse has packed its bags and walked out the door. Taehyung kisses Jimin like he wants to own him all over again, like he’d love nothing more than to cement himself inside Jimin’s mouth and live there on his tongue, a constant flavor that’ll never fade away. 

 

The hand on Jimin’s lower back slides up, smooths around his waist and tightens before Jimin feels weightless, tipping forward and falling. He whines into Taehyung's mouth when he realizes where he is, where they are—he’s flush against Taehyung’s lap, kissing him open in a crowded bar. 

 

White noise silences the thoughts raging inside Jimin’s mind, leaving it blank and blissful as Taehyung licks behind his teeth, sucks on his tongue. All that nonsense, these doubts, they fall short in comparison to the one thing echoing across his skull like a chant. Taehyung. Taehyung—

 

“Taehyungah, should we be doing this?” Jimin’s breath hitches as he pulls away and finds Taehyung under him, face buried in the crook of his neck. He’s equally as out of breath, panting hot against Jimin’s sweat dampened skin. 

 

It’s the elephant in the room, the thing they’ve swept under the rug out to get them. It’s there, unfolding and threatening to cover them if they don’t make a move, if they don’t do something about this before it becomes a problem. 

 

“We probably shouldn’t.” Taehyung murmurs huskily, and yet, he doesn’t put an end to this. Doesn’t draw the line, nor pull away. His touch lingers, soft and gentle as he cups Jimin’s cheek, brushing his knuckles against it. “But—I want to.” 

 

Jimin leans into Taehyung’s touch, cradles his palm there and lays a tender kiss against it. It’s difficult to pretend to have stopped loving Taehyung, and Jimin hopes that his body can communicate what he can’t.

 

That he loves Taehyung, and that being without him is akin to not being able to breathe.

 

They’re not together. They’re not even friends. Taehyung drew a line during his departure and Jimin never attempted to cross it, respecting his wishes even when it hurt doing so. The line’s been crossed, and from where they go from here remains to be seen. 

 

So Jimin isn’t the best person he’d like to believe he is. A better person might not act as irrational and put a stop to this so they can air out their issues and move forward. Jimin isn't the better person. 

 

It’s been five years since that night in Japan. They’d both been so angry, lashing out and accusing, tipping over the edge of a sinking ship; Jimin thought Taehyung hated him. He should, and maybe once he’s not coasting in years of built up tension clouding his judgement, he will. But if this is all they can have, Jimin will take it. The hate included.

 

“I want it, too.” He breathes, licking into Taehyung’s mouth. He tastes like cherries and curaçao, and so distinctly Taehyung. “So badly. Please.”

 

Greed has Jimin seeking more. Tipping Taehyung’s head back and kissing him deeper, this time he moans loud as their tongues brush against each other’s, filthy and wet. His neglected cock so hard it hurts beneath his pants.

 

A thin trail of saliva sticks between their lips as Taehyung pulls back, and he laughs. Flushed and heavy lidded, he’s lovely, and Jimin tells him so. 

 

Taehyung’s fingers find purchase in Jimin’s shirt, tugging the collar. The lights change colors, mingling with an intimate song that’s meant for lovers. Pretty boy blue catches against Taehyung’s face; he says, “Come take it then.” 

 

Jimin’s responding breath comes out strained. He’s never been able to say no to Taehyung.

 

It’s a matter of stumbling footsteps and rushed kisses as Taehyung leads Jimin past the crowded bar and somewhere less noisy. Somehow they end up inside an Uno Mas? restroom that’s surprisingly clean and solitary, giving them the space they need. 

 

Heavy gazed, Taehyung stares at him where he’s pressed against the closed door. There’s a question there, Jimin guesses, one they should probably address right away, but that doesn’t happen.

 

It’s easier to pretend things are much simpler than they truly are. 

 

“Lemme’ touch you, lovely.” Jimin whispers on the draw back, palming at Taehyung’s waist. He dips low, his hand slipping past the waistband and rubbing over the thick bulge of his cock, hot and heavy.

 

Taehyung groans like he’s devastated, like he’s desperate for more praise, and presses into Jimin’s hand, grinds up against it. “Jiminie,”

 

“Shh,” Jimin coaxes Taehyung out of his briefs, rubbing his thumb over the wet slit of his cock and slowly jerks him off. Savors the little sounds he makes when someone has their hands on him. 

 

In silence, on the outside of neon lights and smoke filled corners where attraction boils over and spills across the dance floor more often than anyone likes to admit, they stay there. At first there’s nothing to say; Just Jimin and Taehyung lazily kissing, all open mouths, greedy tongues  and even greedier hands. 

 

Jimin takes in the sight of his body. Taehyung is made up soft but strong, a flat but ticklish tummy, hard thighs lined with soft hair, and his cock—Jimin marvels at its size, thick and long as it hangs between his legs from a thatch of dark pubic hair. 

 

“You’re so pretty,” Jimin croons against Taehyung’s ear like honey, “My pretty boy.”

 

Taehyung grunts in time with his slick hand, fucking into Jimin’s fist. It’s only a second of pause, but it’s enough to get him in motion, shoving Jimin until he’s trapped against the edge of the counter with Taehyung kissing him fast and wet. He grinds up against Jimin’s stomach, fisting at the shirt until it comes loose and his bare cock meets dampened skin.

 

“You know I like that,” He lets out a soft mewl, lips trailing beneath Jimin’s jaw. They find the spot that makes him tremble and tease, teeth scraping against the skin before Taehyung is sucking. Ensuring there’s a mark, ensuring that whoever else sees Jimin knows where he’s been. With who he’s been. 

 

Jimin recognizes it for what it is—jealousy driving Taehyung forward, making him like this. He smirks, biting his lip, a deep moan vibrating through his chest. “I know what you like, lovely. I've always known.”

 

Taehyung squeaks as their positions are reversed, Jimin backs him up against the edge of the counter, bending Taehyung at the waist. Breathing hard against his nape, he ruts his covered cock against the cleft of Taehyung’s ass cheeks, slotting up dry. They’ve always found a way to make it work. “In my wallet—lube, it's in there.”

 

Jimin purrs, dipping his fingers into the waistband of Taehyung’s pants and pulling them down along with the briefs; they sit taut against his thighs, keep him from squirming. “You brought lube? Hoping to get lucky tonight, Tae Tae?”

 

He makes a soft sound, allowing himself a look at Taehyung’s bare ass, his dusky little hole; it clenches around his thumb, and Jimin groans. Applies a ghost of pressure, watching the way the rim tenses before it relaxes, eager to accept him inside.

 

“Fuck you.” Taehyung murmurs thickly, wriggling under the heat of Jimin’s stare.

 

“I’m gonna.” Jimin whispers, finds Taehyung staring through the mirror, heavy lidded and dazed. “Baby, I’m gonna.”

 

It’s a matter of keeping Taehyung steady. He’s impatient and needy, barely giving Jimin a moment to find the leather wallet inside the pants pocket, as well as a small packet of lube and a condom. He reaches behind, finds Jimin’s wrist and guides it between his legs, until his fingers catch against the rim. 

 

“Hurry.” Taehyung croaks, leaning heavily on his bent arm, bent over and crouched down, he raises his ass, offers it up to Jimin. His for the taking, his hands tremble as he tears open the packet of lube and messily drips some of it against Taehyung’s rim. “Oh—oh that’s cold. I like it.” 

 

Jimin’s expression shifts into something hungry as he watches the slick glide of lube glisten against Taehyung’s ass and drip down his thighs. He’s tempted to lick it off, clean it with his tongue, but thinks against it. Wants nothing more than to sink inside Taehyung and grow roots there. 

 

He watches Taehyung closely as the first finger presses inside the rim slow and deep, Jimin’s thumb holding him open; enraptured as he’s sucked inside and welcomed by immediate warmth. Taehyung clenches around that single finger, goes pliant and boneless as Jimin’s rings press in cool against the rim, catching against it.

 

“Oh fuck—fuck,” He moans lowly, body tensed so tight that when he exhales a shudder works it way out. “Jiminie.”

 

“Yeah, love. You feel nice? You’re tight.” Jimin comes closer as he lazily works his finger into Taehyung’s ass, crowding him the way he likes. Making him feel small and caged. The broken mewl he gets in response is answer enough. 

 

“Yeah, Yeah, gimme’ another.” Taehyung huffs, throwing Jimin a glare without heat over his shoulder. A spoilt little thing, he’s never been one for theatrics when it comes to fucking. “I won't break. Y’know—you know I can take—“

 

He moans when one finger is soon joined by another; they fuck in tight, warm and slippery from cold lube. Knocking the air right out of Taehyung’s chest, fucking him onto those fingers loose and silly, because he likes that. He loves when Jimin gets a little bit mean. 

 

“Easy, lovely.” Jimin simpers, kicking at Taehyung’s ankles until he struggles to part his legs just a little wider. His fingers tug at Taehyung’s rim, and he spreads them, then sinks back inside. There’s not much space for them to work around with, but it’s good enough. Has Jimin and Taehyung feeling the sweltering heat more than being outside could bring. 

 

“Fuck, you’re so sexy.” Taehyung gasps, eyes transfixed on Jimin through the mirror. Words melting off his tongue like honey, he’s filthy in dialect when he begs, and Jimin soaks it all up, preens under the praise and fucks in with his fingers harder, scissors them until he’s brushing against Taehyung’s prostate and holding still; moving his fingers in tight little circles against it.

 

That gets Taehyung loose and breathless, the low sound of his deep moans mingling with the squelch of lube. His thighs clench, as does his hole the more Jimin massages his prostate. 

 

As soon as it comes it ends with Jimin pulling out, lightly slapping Taehyung’s ass when he tries to reach for Jimin’s hands. “Shh, I’m here. I’ll fuck you.” He murmurs, breathing in fast and choppy. His hands can’t quite get it together as he undoes his pants enough to pull out his cock.

 

Taehyung turns slightly, lust hooded eyes trained on Jimin’s dick like he wants it in his mouth; inarguably the best pair of lips Jimin has ever had on him, but he digresses. Taehyung whines, and Jimin doesn’t miss the way they’ve dipped between his thighs to slowly palm at his stiff cock. 

 

“Look so good, tae tae, love watching you.” Jimin breathes, hesitates before adding what he’s thinking. The inevitable ‘love you’ on the tip of his tongue. He buries it down, lost under the pressure of his aching dick as he unsheathes the condom and slides it down. He hisses through his teeth, the slick glide of leftover lube aiding him in tapping the tip of his dick against Taehyung’s hole. 

 

Taehyung holds his breath, shudders. “Please,” he begs, “Fuck me.”

 

Jimin hones in on the plea, grunts when the tip of his cock slides against Taehyung’s puckered hole. The room feels like it's gone deathly silent save for their heavy breathing. 

 

He lays a hand on Taehyung’s nape, his cock poised at the entrance. “This changes things.” Jimin murmurs; it is both a threat and a promise. “We aren’t going back after this.” 

 

Taehyung’s response comes by way of a pained mewl as Jimin pushes in—and fuck—Jimin has never gotten over this. Never gotten over him. The way Taehyung’s head drops down as the blunt tip eases inside him, it’s as though he’s welcoming Jimin home.

 

Jimin is no better, whining into Taehyung’s nape as the heat envelops his cock like a greedy mouth, suckling him deeper inside. Balls deep, they slap heavily against the underside of Taehyung’s ass, and they both gasp. They both still. 

 

There's a moment where Jimin struggles to catch his breath, because it feels incredible and where neither of them speak. Taehyung shifts, clenches around him and whimpers, his own reactions spurring Jimin to pull back and then slam in.

 

“More.” Taehyung groans. “Fucking move. I won't break.” 

 

Not one to deny him, especially during moments like these, Jimin complies. Gives Taehyung more. Hard. The room echoes with the sound of skin meeting skin. Their bodies so close that a sheet of paper wouldn't fit between.

 

Between their bodies Jimin watches in awe at the place where they connect, where his cock keeps Taehyung spread open, an obscene kind of beauty he revels in seeing up close.

 

“I missed this.” Taehyung murmurs, a blunt hit to Jimin’s chest, right where it hurts beneath his ribs—his aching, battered heart. “I missed you. Missed you so muc—“

 

Jimin gasps wetly, tears spring in his eyes. His heart clenches, burns when he sucks in a sharp breath. 

 

“Don’t do this to me.” Jimin croaks, not prepared for the way Taehyung looks at him, so vulnerable and earnest, his heart on his sleeve. It’s too much too fast, he can’t handle it. Needs his brain to switch off, and for his body to do the thinking for him. “Later, baby. We can talk later, please.”

 

Taehyung must sense how difficult it is for Jimin, and nods. Drops his head and rests against his bent arm, turns silences them both as he rocks down and seats himself on Jimin’s dick; they both cry out.

 

“Love it,” Taehyung slurs, a new found fervour driving him forward as he takes everything Jimin has to give him. Notching against the firm head as it grazes his prostate, he moans weakly, more air than sound. Like he can't get enough, like this isn't close enough for him.

 

Jimin pulls out, shivers at the loss of warmth Taehyung’s absence brings. Taehyung’s disgruntled whine cute when he does so while pouting. 

 

“Gonna’ fuck you from the front, lovely. Wanna’ see you look at me when you come.” Jimin rasps huskily, licking the sweat off Taehyung’s throat as he nuzzles him, a hand wrapped around his waist. Tasting salt, he sucks a faint bruise beneath his jaw, not enough to little, but enough for strangers to take notice, too. 

 

“Fuck yes,” Taehyung’s head drops back. He nods as he slips a leg out of his pants for easier access, peering at Jimin past overgrown bangs that fall over his eyes, and holding himself up, palms braced against the counter. 

 

Overcome by a need to feel, to come closer, Jimin brings their foreheads together, gasps into Taehyung’s open mouth as he hoists him up, thighs bracketing either side of his hips—still as easy as it’s always been— and sinks back inside.

 

He feels it all build up like an electric current. this wild, pulsing thing around them as he drops his head to Taehyung’s shoulder and whimpers. 

 

Fucking in tight, he barely draws back before he’s pushing back in, his cock carving out a space inside Taehyung where only he’ll fit. Impossibly deep, Jimin feels the ache start at the base of his dick and slide down his balls, which draw up as he fucks Taehyung as hard as they can handle and he just keeps begging for more, more—-“more.” 

 

Jimin jostles him under the pressure, holding Taehyung’s thighs hard enough to bruise, to leave a mark. Deliberate strokes keeping him held on the edge as he dropped onto Jimin’s cock with a force that builds on each thrust. Jimin’s gasping through it, not a word leaving his lips.

 

“Jiminah,” Taehyung shivers, lips parting on a broken and wrecked mewl. Eyes glassy and unfocused, he finds Jimin and warns, “I won’t last like this,” all while sweat drips down his chest and meets the mess forming around his stomach in time with his bobbing cock.

 

“Right there with you.” Jimin hisses, unable to stand it—this welcoming heat turned scalding at their bodies warm up lube that sticks between them. Taehyung’s bare feet curl against Jimin’s ass as it clenches on each hard thrust, his arms finding purchase and winding around Jimin’s shoulders. 

 

Face to face, up close and personal, Jimin has nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. He mows taehyung can see it reflected in his eyes; the temptation to confess, to cross that final line and never look back. 

 

He doesn’t do that in words, untrusting of what he'll say when left to voice out his thoughts. Instead Jimin uses his body, lets it say what he does not have the nerve to.

 

Gently, a contrast to the brutal way he fucks into Taehyung, Jimin leans in, finds Taehyung’s mouth and kisses him, the kind that confesses deep dark secrets, the kind to keep him up at night—the kind they shared for the first time during Chuseok, where things felt like they’d never be the same. 

 

They weren’t.

 

(“I’ve been keeping something from you, too.” 

“I’m in love with you.”)

 

I love you , Jimin thinks as he loses himself in the nostalgia that comes with finding the man he’s loved and will love for the rest of life. A man he made a home of. A man who’s never been far from his thoughts. His heart hanging by a single, fraying thread, he trembles as he comes, thinking, and I have never stopped .

 

________



In the morning, past the haze of sweat soaked sex and reckless decisions, Jimin and Taehyung find themselves in bed together once again. This time curled up, the clothes on and guilt weighing heavy. 

 

This is the time where they have to talk about it. That single word that will launch a dozen questions. Feelings. 

 

Everything had changed. Jimin can feel it in the soreness around his thighs and the strain in his lower back, as well as he can feel it in the way Taehyung clings to him when he tries slipping out of bed. 

 

“I’m just gonna’ get us some aspirin from my bag and some water for your headache.” 

 

They’d been fools to think that a night spent lost within each other could be brushed aside like dirt off one’s shoulder once morning came. Matters of the heart aren't ever simple, especially when it wants what it wants. 

 

It comes down to a simple fact. Realizing that while things changed for him, they might stay the same for Taehyung. Jimin thinks about Seokjin’s advice, on how he has to be prepared for things not to go his way and be alright with that, and realizes shamefully that he isn’t prepared.

 

Taehyung rejecting him now would inevitably crush Jimin. Brutalize him from the inside out, making those lonely nights spent asleep on Taehyung’s side of the bed, as well as searching for Taehyung in every person’s arms seem like a walk in the park. 

 

Jimin’s terrified, and lingers in the kitchen for longer than he has to, aimlessly staring at the two glasses of water he’s filled for them. In a bid to buy more time Jimin orders room service, then quietly calls Jeongguk to let them know they’ll be late to join the group today.

 

Jeongguk isn’t accusing nor aggravated by this like Jimin believed him to be. Instead, he’s timid and a little pleading when he says, “Be careful, Hyung. Be happy.” Then hangs up shortly after explaining how they’ll be taking it easy today and going for massages in the afternoon;  a little self care before the wedding. 

 

Jimin is left staring ahead once the call ends, nibbling his thumbnail. Bracing himself for the worst, Jimin collects both glasses as well as the aspirin and returns to the bedroom, each step he takes slow.

 

Inside he finds Taehyung in bed, running a hand through his hair and shaking it out of his eyes. He’s wonderfully sleep swollen and soft, but beyond that, Jimin can see hints of bruises around his chest, as well as some on his inner thighs. 

 

One round of sex wasn’t enough to sate five years of craving, they’d returned to the hotel and fucked it out of their systems. Taehyung eating him out, Jimin blowing him in the kitchen, Jimin spooning him while they lazily fucked after a quick shower. Impatient hands and teeth leaving traces down each other’s skin, marks they’re both sporting. 

 

Anything to avoid the inevitable, Jimin thinks. Now there’s nothing left to hide since they’re both exhausted and sexed out, which means they have to be adults and confront each other. 

 

But first. “I ordered breakfast. I figured you’d be hungry.”

 

On cue Taehyung’s stomach rumbles and he blushes, twin cherries on his cheeks. “Thanks,” He mumbles, accepting the water and the pills, which he downs immediately. 

 

“For the water or the food?”

 

Taehyung smiles tiredly, beckons Jimin to join him in bed, arms held open. “For all that and the dick.”

 

Jimin can't help his smile as he slides across the bed into Taehyung’s arms where he’s warm and smells like body lotion and Jimin’s cologne. “Ah, there it is, I knew you wanted me for my body.” 

 

Taehyung’s laugh thrums in his chest, low and husky against Jimin’s ears. Idly he thumbs at the dimples on Jimin’s lower back and nuzzles his hair. “I mean your ass is nice, too. I love your ass. Asia’s best ass. I’m an ass man at heart, sue me.”

 

“Hm.” Jimin giggles, content to lay there against Taehyung’s chest and sleep the day away. 

 

Softer, Taehyung adds, “It’s not just the sex. It’s never been about the sex.”

 

Jimin sucks in a sharp breath, not knowing what to say at first. “It’s never been about sex for me either, beloved.”

 

“You call me such sweet things still.” Taehyung comments, a hint of sunlight peers into their bedroom, catches against his fingers; Jimin stares at them as he brings their palms together, always so marveled by the difference in size. “I wonder why you do that, why you’re like this.”

 

Slow, Jimin spreads their fingers apart, the heat radiating from Taehyung’s palm lulling him into a complacent kind of relaxation. He could stay like this forever. 

 

“Do you want me to hate you?”

 

A timid shake of his head. Jimin does not miss the way Taehyung flinches under him. “No, I don’t want that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you did is all.” He says. “We both know what it’s like to be angry with each other.”

 

“Taehyungah,” Jimin whispers, bringing his lips to the center of his chest, where it’s warmest and where he’s missed being most. “We were different people. Our anger came out of frustration, not hatred. I don’t know what it’s like to hate you, and I don’t want to know what that’s like either.”

 

“Shinjuku was a hard time.” Taehyung carries on, sniffs hard and croaks, “I was so angry at you that I didn’t know what to do about it.”

 

And there it is—sadness strikes Jimin dead center—a freight train to the chest and he gasps. Palms at his chest where it hurts, where breathing feels so far out of his reach, further than Taehyung ever did. He clenches his jaw, strives for composure so he doesn’t give himself away, but it’s too late. Jimin knows this the moment Taehyung looks at him. 

 

The apology is there, Jimin sees it before he says it, and he’s quick to clap a hand over Taehyung’s mouth. “Don’t apologize to me anymore, please.” He says, voice unrecognizably hoarse. “You don’t have to do this. I can't take it when you apologize for things that weren’t your fault.”

 

Taehyung regards him carefully, lets Jimin slide away from him and sit by the edge of the bed, rough hands rubbing down his face. “Jiminah, come here.”

 

Jimin can't find it in himself to move, frustration winning out over what his heart begs for. He groans, hiding behind his clenched palm and considers leaving. Going for a walk around the resort or down to the beach, anywhere that will get him as far from Taehyung’s vulnerable heart where he’s offering it up to Jimin.

 

“Please.” Taehyung says, his palms settling on Jimin’s shoulders as he drapes over him, cheek pressed against Jimin’s. “I’ve missed you, I love you, please look at me.”

 

It is the worst kind of torture, Jimin thinks. His eyes burn past tears welling up, and he cries softly, trembling as Taehyung continues to hold him, gentle in the way he kisses Jimin’s hot cheek. “I was terrible to you and I’m so fucking sorry for putting you through those things,” he mumbles through the pressure closing around his throat. “You left me because I left you first, made that house a nightmare. Made you miss me. Why the fuck would you love me despite that?”

 

“I wasn’t perfect either,” Taehyung whispers, thumbing at the tears wetting Jimin’s face. “I took out my own frustrations on you, backed you into a corner when we could’ve found a compromise together. We were both young and made mistakes. We’re not the same people we were at twenty one.”

 

Jimin doesn’t believe that even though he wants to, even though he yearns to be as good as Taehyung believes him to be. “I’ve missed you since you walked out the door,” He admits, “But I’m not the best version of myself I wanted to be when I saw you again.”

 

When he smiles, it’s sad. “Neither am I.” Taehyung whispers, now moving until he’s standing in front of Jimin, cupping his face and tilting it up. “But we can build up to that, being better people for ourselves and each other. We can do that together.”

 

“Why?” Jimin wonders, asks himself how much time would’ve passed between them without contact had this wedding not happened, whether they’d ever get a chance, or if this is a matter of convenience.

 

Taehyung is tender-handed as he traces Jimin’s features. Feather light, adoring every inch of his skin, from the tip of his nose to his eyes, no part of him isn’t loved through touch; Taehyung’s an artist at confessions, skilled with his hands. 

 

“Why not? I’m tired of missing you.” He says steadily, though his hands begin to tremble. Small fragments of sunlight cling to his skin as he moves and Jimin is breathless. “I’m tired of waiting for you to come back to me.”

 

The silence that follows rings loud, a brief intermission once room service arrives; they’ve always been good at those. Breakfast is a silent affair, where Jimin and Taehyung sit cross legged on the balcony and pretend things are alright and that the future of what they’ll become looms on the horizon.

 

A glance across shows Taehyung in soft satin shorts and an oversized top, bare legs on show. A delicate bracelet weaved with sea shells is wrapped around his ankle; a souvenir bought at the gift shop yesterday. He finds Jimin looking at him and smiles, this delicate thing that’s reserved for him only. 

 

Jimin’s stomach twists up inside. He can barely finish eating despite breakfast being so delicious. 

 

“I still live in Shinjuku.” He says, not missing the way Taehyung nearly drops his plate. That is the place they do not mention, the ‘he who shall not be named ’ that brings forth nightmares. A jagged edge left behind, Jimin digs it deeper when he adds, “You live in Seoul.”

 

Taehyung looks down, plays with his food and avoids looking at Jimin. “Oh.” He breathes, then curses. It’s always been clear that in Japan Taehyung didn’t know how to keep up, lost in the middle of chaos, his heart back in Korea where he felt more at peace, more like himself. “That’s not far. Just a plane ride away.” 

 

“Taehyung,” Jimin says gently, “You hated being away from home.”

 

Tugging at the ends of his shirt, Taehyung finally stands. Leaves his plate by the table then moves towards Jimin, determination making him hurry. His plate is set aside too, and then he has a lap full, Taehyung’s thighs on either side of him. 

 

Jimin swallows hard, finds it telling how the moment Taehyung is near he begins to calm, the frenzy quells to a low thrum. His hands find purchase around Taehyung’s hips, not too tight this time. His aim isn’t to bruise, rather to hold. 

 

“Park Jimin, you have been trying to come up with every excuse there is to drive me away.” Taehyung tells him, and under the scrutiny of his gaze Jimin looks away, can’t face him nor the truth. 

 

All this time Jimin has been so confident in the fact that he knows Taehyung better than anyone else without realizing the same can be said about him. Nobody knows him more than Taehyung does. A truth that is equally as relieving as it is frustrating. 

 

He can’t hide any longer. 

 

“I’m fucking terrified of what will happen to us this time around, if I have to be honest.” Jimin says on a whisper, “We lead different lives, opposite ends. I’m scared of distance and so are you. Distance is what fucked us up in the first place.”

 

Taehyung nods, but he’s unrelenting. Firm hands smooth up Jimin’s chest, play with the chain Jimin never takes off; a stark black Chanel logo that sits high. “Be honest.” He murmurs, lost in touch. Jimin shivers, Taehyung’s hands have always been so warm, but now they’re scalding, baked under the sun. “How do you feel about me?”

 

Jimin’s lower lip trembles, he inhales sharply. Holds it there, feels the pressure around his chest start to balloon up then ease on the exhale. 

 

“You know that already.” He croaks, squeezing Taehyung’s hips. 

 

“Jiminah,” Taehyung drawls, and Jimin feels as though they are back in Daegu, seventeen and harboring a crush on his best friend, trapped against a wall and forced to confront his feelings. “Are you hiding something from me?”

 

Jimin was a liar then, and he is a liar now. Old habits die hard, it seems. He says, “No.”

 

They’ve been here before, and Taehyung knows how to play it. How to get under Jimin’s skin, press all his hot buttons until he detonates, and finally— explodes. 

 

“Why are you so against us?”

 

“I’m a rotten pessimist.” Jimin wheezes, squeezes his eyes shut. “Two days isn’t enough to make up for five years of distance. I just...I’m scared you’re looking at me through rose tinted glasses again. That when you realize that this trip made us sentimental and nostalgic it’ll be too late.”

 

“That’s a mistake you’re making, thinking I’m not aware of the risks being taken.”

 

“Beloved, I am so full of mistakes, you wouldn’t be able to sort through them.”

 

“Is loving me a mistake?” The hands on Jimin’s chest slide up and around his shoulders, find the tension between them and press down; he groans under Taehyung’s touch, brings his forehead up against his chest. 

 

Muffled through cotton, Jimin says, “No.” 

 

“Then tell me.” He urges, leveling Jimin with a steady, but pleading gaze. “Don’t do this to me. To us. Be honest, baby.”

 

Be honest. Jimin has forgotten what that’s like. The words form on the tip of his tongue, coat the inside of his mouth—threatening to spill over. 

 

Jimin looks up, finds Taehyung patient and raw, he has offered up his sensitive heart for the taking. Such an easy thing for him to do, self sacrifice in the name of all things good and wonderful; he loves with his body, with his hands. Jimin has never stood a chance.

 

It spills out of him. Dams only need a small crack to start a flood, after all.

 

“I love you.” Jimin says, thick with emotion and shaky, he can barely breathe, his lungs feel as though they’ll collapse any second. “I love you more than I ever have, and I am so fucking sorry for not showing you that I did sooner, because it’s always been you for me, you’ve always been important. God, I’m so sorry.”

 

Taehyung seizes in Jimin’s grip, and when he exhales, Jimin feels something wet against his temple, feels shaky breaths stutter and knows that this is it—this is their story coming full circle, on a balcony somewhere near the Sea of Cortez. 

 

This is where they begin. In the middle of cracked pavement and dead flowers, Jimin and Taehyung find their way back to each other. A joke about red strings tied to their pinkies pulling them forward no longer as funny, but realistic.

 

Jimin has felt a pull ever since he first heard Taehyung’s voice and from then he’s been stumbling to catch up until he’s fallen into a pile of red strings that seemed impossible to untangle.

 

“We hurt each other,” Taehyung whimpers, bringing their foreheads together, wet tears glimmer against his cheeks. He is beautiful even when he cries. “But we’re different now. We’ll love each other differently now, better than before.”

 

“Taehyungah,” Jimin says, holding onto him. For dear life it seems, he’s terrified of falling, but even more terrified of losing this. Losing Taehyung. “I love you.”

 

Taehyung splinters apart, bursts into loud tears and folds into Jimin, heavy breaths mingling, wet skin pressed together. 

 

When they kiss now it’s new, it’s pulsing with possibilities and ebbs through them like a livewire, strikes at Jimin’s nerve endings until he’s sure it’ll kill them. They’re nothing but soft hands and eager mouths that say what they’ve always been scared of admitting: 

 

—That there is so Jimin without Taehyung and there is no Taehyung without Jimin. 

 

 

On Jeongguk’s wedding day everything he feared would go wrong, goes wrong. In his excitement to get to Namjoon at the altar he stumbles and drops his flowers, a beautiful bouquet of gardenias and white lilies that match the ones threaded into his hair; he bursts into tears and just stands there.

 

Namjoon, who forgets he’s supposed to stay where he is jogs over to console his soon to be husband and shoulder checks Yoongi on the way, which has him toppling over and crashing onto Hoseok, who holds the rings and proceeds to drop those too. 

 

Jimin and Taehyung are left to pick up the slack, which means crawling on the ground in search of the rings while Jeongguk has a bridezilla kind of meltdown.

 

The ordained minister meant to marry them looks horrified at the chaos the seven of them have caused. Seokjin tries to assure him that this happens all the time, but the impression has been made. People nearby are staring and as a result their hyungs’ ears are pink.

 

By the time they manage to find the rings and get the ceremony in order, Jeongguk is flushed from an emotional breakdown and sniffly. Namjoon holds his hand throughout, forgoing formalities since the damage has been done already. 

 

Despite the chaos ensued Namjoon is gentle and earnest, vows to love Jeongguk honestly and without greed for as long as he will have him in sweet Korean, promising new memories and new stories they will write together along the way. 

 

“I am who I am in this moment, and the me today, with an open heart and a lifetime of promises, will still be the me who will care for your heart with everything I have to offer.” 

 

Jimin’s a romantic at heart, a knot forming in his throat as he swallows and wipes a stray tear. Namjoon’s words stir something deep inside him, make him hope to have something that beautifully tender one day.

 

There is not a dry eye amongst them, especially Jeongguk, who is beside himself and stutters through his vows. His promise to Namjoon is simple, but heavy. A promise to love him through all their growths and mistakes as they become better people and better men.

 

Jimin imagines it can’t be easy to forgo their traditions in order to seek out a love they deserve. Jeongguk’s parents are absent, and there is no celebration in his family home to commemorate their union; Namjoon’s parents don’t approve and Jeongguk’s parents, while lovely in their own right, thought a formal wedding between two men shouldn’t be done in public. 

 

When Jeongguk says ‘I do’ he does so with stars in his eyes, and bows to Namjoon. Namjoon is no better, regarding Jeongguk as though he holds everything he will ever want in his person. He bows deeply, accepting Jeongguk’s hand in his. 

 

In English, the ordained says, “You may kiss the groom,” but right as Namjoon leans in to do just that, Taehyung interrupts, bowing in turn to each of them as he presents the grooms with his own gift. A special wine poured into a gourd that is usually reserved for traditional weddings celebrations in their country.

 

“You might not be able to celebrate a proper kunbere, but we brought our own kind of kunbere to you. A gift from home, it will be with you no matter where you are.” 

 

Jeongguk and Namjoon accept Taehyung’s gift with trembling hands, their gratitude apparent by the sheen in their eyes. They drink deeply, then bow once more before they’re able to seal their union with a kiss. 

 

As they do, and while the others cheer and wish the happy couple many blessings, Jimin can’t stop staring at Taehyung. Feels as though his heart will burst, too heavy and full for him to manage alone. Time suspended in the now. Taehyung as the sun rushes forward, Luminescent smile one that grabs Jimin’s heart for the taking.

 

Taehyung catches him staring and his laughter fades as he walks towards him, leaving a trail of soft footsteps in the sand; drawing a line from him to Jimin as he draws closer. All those burned bridges gone and in their wake new paths unfolding. 

 

Together they melt under the blazing sun, languid as their hands find each other’s. Taehyung hums as Jimin presses a kiss against his throat, gentle as he sways them from side to side. There’s no music playing, but it doesn’t matter. 

 

Jimin sinks into Taehyung like a flower that’s languidly caught in the breeze, knowing deep in his bones that this time around they will happen, and that while the road to redemption might be long, it’ll work.

They’ll work.