“Bro, you look like you’ve seen a ghost,” is the first thing Yoongi says after seeing him home again.
A ghost. Right.
Maybe he could just blame it on being tired. Freshman year of university was maybe the worst thing to happen to Taehyung, so it wouldn’t even be that much of a stretch.
Exams, bitchy professors, and switching his major took a toll on his psyche. Some days it felt like he should’ve just abandoned after high school dreams in favor of becoming a simple goat herder, or a farmer. He was ready, when he came home after the semester, to spend the entire summer on his best friend’s couch.
Maybe he should start at the beginning.
Aforementioned best friend, Min Yoongi, had been in his life since they were literal babies. Their parents were friends, and had introduced them to each other when Taehyung was in diapers, and Yoongi was 2. They stayed friends all the way through schooling, only one year apart in school because of how their birthdays fell.
People would comment, and often, how it was odd that they were so close. After all, Yoongi was more of a recluse, and though he liked certain people, he wasn’t too keen on large social situations. Taehyung, on the other hand, was a social butterfly, making new friends was a casual hobby for him, happening nearly every day. He loved meeting new people, and they usually loved meeting him too, which Yoongi blamed on Taehyung’s “magic extrovert powers.”
Still, they were good for each other, and even if they weren’t super similar, stayed best friends their whole lives.
So it made total sense for Taehyung, the day he got back from university for the summer, to walk on over to Yoongi’s house before unpacking to lay on his bed and eat snacks from his kitchen.
He could just look over at Yoongi, and blame it on school. But he really did see something, just not a ghost.
Jeongguk, who the last time he had seen him had had eyes still a little too big for his face, an eager lilt to his voice, and only starting to develop muscles, a junior in high school and still not quite grown into his body. Jeongguk, who-
Well, okay. Maybe he should start at the beginning.
The other beginning.
Yes, so he had been friends with Yoongi since they were babies. That part is still true. But another chapter of the story started when Taehyung was seven and Yoongi was eight; Yoongi’s parents got divorced. A year later, Yoongi’s father was dating a new woman, who had a son.
Enter Jeongguk. Taehyung was sure that the buggy eyed, nervous kid and him would have been great friends in another life. And, don’t get him wrong, he certainly had fun with Jeongguk as a part of the picture. But he was so attached to Yoongi, and Yoongi to him, that there wasn’t quite room for another person in the middle.
So Jeongguk was included, for the most part, in large group events. But if Yoongi and Taehyung were hanging out as kids, and Jeongguk came to the door with his little hyung, can I have a turn on the xbox? Please? Usually it just ended in Yoongi giving Jeongguk a noogie.
Though, there was one time when Taehyung came over to Yoongi’s house, he was just arriving after school, and it turned out Yoongi actually had a film club meeting. Taehyung would later go to the club meetings with him, but for this afternoon, he just hung out with Jeongguk for minutes that melted into hours. They made a pillow fort, and maybe made up a song? Taehyung doesn’t remember really well.
Jeongguk also told him a secret then, he’s sure of it. He’s just not sure of what exactly the secret was.
Starting in high school, things started changing. Taehyung was starting while Yoongi already had one year under his belt. Yoongi already had friends in his grade who had access to drugs and alcohol, and listened to cool music. Taehyung and Yoongi started having Jeongguk cover for them, claiming they were both home while they were actually out discovering all that high school had to offer.
And then, a year later, Jeongguk came to high school.
It was different, then, because Jeongguk had become more and more of his own person with his own life and his own friends. Gone were the days when he would beg Yoongi to let him play with them, or follow them around, and he was surprisingly independent.
Every once in a while, Taehyung would see Jeongguk at the same parties he went to. The younger would usually be talking to someone, he was very popular in his grade, and he definitely “knew how to have a good time.” And, although they weren’t exactly close, Taehyung would even call Jeongguk his friend.
He would join Yoongi and Taehyung for movie nights, sometimes, and he would sit at their lunch table as they shared quite a few mutual friends. Jeongguk had grown up, but Taehyung still saw him as a little kid somehow. He thought maybe that’s how he would always see Jeongguk - as Yoongi’s cute, big eyed kid brother.
Well, piss on that apparently.
The summer between His first year at university in Seoul and his last year of high school was crazy. Yoongi had already been in university for a year (not the same one Taehyung was going to, though, one in town, which was something that hurt Taehyung deeply), and was determined to make Taehyung appreciate his last high school summer properly. He surely appreciated it, quite a lot, but he also hardly remembered it. Really only bits and pieces.
There was one night, a few days before he had to leave, when he remembers he climbed on top of his roof at a goodbye / grad party Yoongi was hosting for him at his house. There were loads of people there, people Taehyung had only met once, and people that he knew really well. Among those people was Jeongguk, which Taehyung knows because he remembered the younger joining him on the rooftop. He’s not exactly sure what else happened that night, but somehow he got in bed safely, which he attributes to the younger coming through and saving his ass one last time. A sort of going away present, perhaps.
And then, university. Bad. That’s all there is to it.
Well, alright, no. Taehyung genuinely enjoyed his classes at university. He was doing film, and was able to meet so many other people with the same passions as him, the same drive as him. He learned from professionals in the field, and was able to pick and choose classes to study that he actually cared about.
It was just hard. So when he came back, he was ready for a summer of relaxation. Maybe he would find some pretty boy or girl to spend some time with, but he wanted nothing too rigorous. Just a nice, easy, sunny time.
Taehyung, yes, was exhausted. While he didn’t exactly not expect to see Jeongguk at Yoongis’ when he came over, he didn’t really expect anything. He was tired, and over it, and had recently dyed his hair blue to cope with stress. It looked great, but it was safe to say his mental state was somewhat hanging by a thread.
He waltzed into the Min household (read : trudged), and gracefully draped (read : fell) on to their sofa. Oh well, he didn’t exactly mind. He was planning on staying there for the next century or so, or however long until he felt normal again. “Normal,” meaning up and about enough to drink his head off and party for the next week.
The boy sighed, and closed his eyes. It was good to be back.
“Oh, you’re here,” are the words he hears, but it’s not Yoongi, so he opens his eyes. And -
And - holy fuck?
He is met with the vision of Adonis himself, apparently. Long, muscular legs encased with runner (read : booty) shorts, a sweaty shirt clinging to a well defined six pack, all tied together with strong arms and a a delicate waist and the softest fucking eyes - wait -
“Jeonggukkie?” Taehyung asks. Because, that’s Jeongguk’s face. He’s grown into his features more, his nose not so noticeable anymore, honestly it’s more noticeable for being cute and boopable than it is for anything else, his eyes are sparkly and wide and dark, his cheeks narrower (which causes a pang in Taehyung’s chest, he loved Jeongguk’s slightly chubby, soft cheeks), his jawline more defined. He’s changed, sure, but it’s still Jeongguk.
The younger boy huffs out a little laugh. “Yeah? What’s up, Tae?”
His voice sounds fucking - fucking musical or something to Taehyung’s ears. Holy fuck. What?
Somehow Taehyung managed to form a coherent response from within the depths of his freak out. “Oh, you know. Just hanging out here, waiting for Yoongi.” God, he sounds so lame. Waiting for Yoongi? What kind of a fool says that? And, why does it matter, why is he picking himself apart so much, why is a bead of sweat dripping down Jeongguk’s neck and why does it kind of make his dick hard?
“Oh yeah?” Jeongguk kind of smirks at that response, not in a cocky, douchebag way, but in a soft, almost teasing way, and it makes Taehyung’s heart constrict. How did he never notice before how fucking sparkly Jeongguk’s eyes were? Or how tiny his waist is, like he could just put his hands on it and cover it the whole way around? “He’ll be home in a minute, he went out for milk.”
“Banana milk?” Taehyung teases the younger, feeling a smirk of his own crawl onto his lips, and he’s rewarded with a small flush that appears on Jeongguk’s face despite the already there flush of his workout. He feels himself gasp inwardly. What the fuck, that was so cute?
“Maybe,” Jeongguk replies sheepishly. Taehyung wants to coo, but he’s torn between that and gaping at the way Jeongguk shifting in place makes him pop out his hip, and - fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, he’s such a damn creep, but Jeongguk just popped out his ass and it looks so? Firm, and perky, and? Dare he say fuckable? He hates himself, but he’s a little too distracted to focus on that right in the moment.
“You never change, Guk - ah,” Taehyung smiles, and the moment between them feels tense, but in a good way. In a ‘Do- you- feel- what- I’m- feeling- I- think- we- both- want- the- same- thing- and- I- want- to- kiss- you- way.’ Jeongguk smiles, and he looks like the sun.
The younger may have been about to say something, but then the door slams open, and he blushes, before murmuring something about needing a shower and walking away before Yoongi can catch him in the room. Only moments later, the grouchy boy walks in, milk in hand, and gives Taehyung a weird glance.
There’s no “hey, missed you,” or “long time no see.” Just -
“Bro, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
And, yeah, he did look like he’d just seen a ghost. He was lowkey sweating, and pale, and eyes all bugged out. But what could he say? The vision of Jeongguk walking down the hallway, hips swaying ever so slightly and wavy hair bouncing with every step - it did things to him.
“Missed you too,” Taehyung grumbles, and Yoongi snorts.
And everything else somewhat dissolves into the background. For a while, that is.
“Are you staying for dinner tonight?” Yoongi’s step-mom asks Taehyung, a few hours later. He’s been playing video games in Yoongi’s room with him for the last few hours, yelling about dumbass calls that Yoongi’s made and being yelled at in return. Just like old times.
“Oh, sure, if you’ll have me,” Taehyung replies easily.
“Do we have a choice?” a teasing voice asks, and Taehyug turns to see Jeongguk reemerged from his room. His outfit changed, he’s wearing a soft looking pair of black joggers, and a black and white flannel that appears about two or three sizes too big. His hands don’t even poke out of the sleeves. Taehyung might have an aneurism. To make things worse, Jeongguk isn’t wearing a shirt under it, and the buttons are unbuttoned at the top two, showing enough of his chest and collarbones to make Taehyung feel like a starving man looking at a feast. His hair looks to fluffy, long enough to lightly touch his cheeks, and dyed a soft blonde at the ends.
He gets so caught up in looking at Jeongguk that the words, and the fact that everyone is looking at him, don’t process in his mind.
Shaking his head, as if he were spacing out, Taehyung widens his eyes and looks back at Yoongi’s step-mom. “Oh! Sorry, I’m really tired, I’e been a little spacey lately,” he explains. “And no,” he tacks on, slyly, turning his attention towards Jeongguk again. “I don’t think you do have a choice. If you did, though, you’d want me anyway, so it’s all good.”
A blush dusts across Jeongguk’s cheeks, then, just like he used to blush all the time when they were kids. It feels a little bit against the rules, to flirt with Jeongguk in the first place, but also in front of his mom and Yoongi. Taehyung doesn’t know what’s taking over him, he just knows that he wants to see more of that blush.
“Yeah, I guess,” Jeongguk responds softly, voice like a flower petal in spring.
“Shut up, Guk-ah, don’t encourage him,” Yoongi chides without any real bite in his voice, moving them along into dinner with impatient arms, but throughout the entire meal he looks at Taehyung different. Calculating, cautious, curious.
It’s just too bad that Taehyung doesn’t notice, as he’s already paying to much attention to Yoongis’s little brother.
About five days later, on the first real friday night of the summer, Yoongi and Taehyung are getting ready for a party.
The host is the infamous Jackson Wang, a boy who was a senior with Yoongi, and has been the crown jewel of the student population since he was fourteen. And, coincidentally, he threw the best parties. His iconic beginning of summer party had been happening from his sophomore year to this year, and Taehyung had no idea when he would stop. Maybe never?
When Taehyung is slipping his necklace on, resting over his collarbones with a heavy metallic shiver, he hears Yoongi’s door open. Yoongi is in his closet, so Jeongguk turns around, expecting Yoongi’s step-mom, but instead greeted with -
“Tae-hyung,” Jeongguk breathes, and Taehyung forgets how to.
“Guk,” he responds, and then he takes a second to really look. And - fuck. It looks like they’re not the only ones partying.
Jeongguk has on maybe the tightest pair of black pants that Taehyung has ever seen, ripped at the knees but also up on the left thigh, teasing Taehyung with muscle. His eyes, so bright already, are made even brighter by shimmery eyeshadow, and he has a flowy white shirt tucked into his pants, sleeves rolled up to the elbow. The outfit not only shows his muscles in his legs, arms, you name it - but also his tiny little waist, accentuated by the belt around it.
“You look nice, hyung,” Jeongguk tells him, looking down shyly, and Taehyung is suddenly very aware of the skin of his own chest showing by the mostly unbuttoned silk red shirt tucked into his own black pants.
“So do you, Gukkie,” Taehyung responds, feeling some type of way. He’s simultaneously overcome with intimidation towards Jeongguk, the boy is so much more confident and aware of his body and how he looks, and he knows exactly how to dress and present himself, and god, okay, yes he grew up a little bit in a way that makes his attractiveness like a punch in the face. But - at the same time - this is his little Jeonggukkkkkie. His friend’s kid brother, kid step brother. He’s known Jeongguk for, like, forever. He knows how to make him shy, how to make him giggle, all his little things.
It is just Jeongguk, and it is just not Jeongguk, all at the same time.
“Are you headed to Jackson’s later, Guk?” he asks.
“Yeah, I’m headed over with my friends in just a few moments, actually,” Jeongguk tells him, walking forwards into the room. “I just wanted to see if Yoongi hyung could help me with my, uh.” The younger boy trails off, and his cheeks get red. “My eyeliner.” His voice is so small, and Taehyung wants to wrap him with his arms and love him forever.
Wait - uh? What the fuck was that?
Taehyung knows that, objectively, Jeongguk is hot. He honestly was already hot before Taehyung left for college, but coming back after not seeing him for a while made the effect stronger of realising how much he grew up, especially how much he developed over the year they didn’t see each other. Sure, he’s aware of the fact that he thinks Jeongguk is overwhelmingly hot. But? Love him forever?
Taehyung doesn’t - doesn’t like Jeongguk, does he?
Oh fuck. Of fuck oh shit oh goddamn.
He does. He likes Jeongguk’s stupid pretty smile, and his dumb muscles, and his crazy obsession with banana milk, and his kind of funky style, and his endearing little way of asking for help, and his bubbly giggles when he’s stoned (which Taehyung has only experienced once, but fuck it was a crazy night), and his stupid attractive face. He liked Jeongguk. Romantically, platonically, sexually, physically, emotionally, all the fucking -lly’s. Fuck.
“I - I can help you, Guk-ah,” Taehyung volunteers, while his brain malfunctions, and he’s suddenly way more aware of the way his heart flutters like a fucking machine gun going off in his chest when Jeongguk cocks his head to the side and smiles a shy little turn of his lips.
“Really hyung? I can still ask Yoongi-hyung if it’s too much trouble?” Jeongguk’s tone is earnest, but his body language reads open towards Taehyung. His head is still tilted in a question, and it makes Taehyung’s heart constrict.
“Of course! A little fact about me is that I am amazing at eyeliner, and applying it to other people. My girlfriend used to have me do hers all the time,” Taehyung reassures. Jeongguk is already walking over when Taehyung tells him the ‘of course,’ and he sits down on a chair in Yoongi’s room, but he freezes at the mention of Taehyung’s girlfriend.
Taehyung hums and takes the eyeliner from Jeongguk, who is all of the sudden significantly quieter than before. He kneels down in front of Jeongguk so that he’s level with the younger boy, and he’s very close to Jeongguk’s face. The younger boy closes his eyes and lets out a shuddery breath, which Taehyung assumes must be due to the crazy AC in this room. Yoongi really likes it like a dungeon, creep.
He puts the edge of his hand on Jeongguk’s cheek to stay steady, and begins applying the eyeliner. Jeongguk’s skin is so warm underneath his hand, and his breaths are a little shuddery underneath Taehyung’s touch.
“What’s your girlfriend’s name, hyung?” Jeongguk finally asks, after a few minutes of silence while Taehyung deliberately applies his makeup. The older boy laughs, and Jeongguk opens his eyes in response, furrowing his eyebrows in confusion.
When he finally finishes cackling, Taehyung breaths out, “Oh, Guk-ah. I don’t have a girlfriend, just an ex. Her name was Mina, though, if it matters.” He laughs a little more, and Jeongguk looks embarrassed, flush showing even through his foundation.
“Oh. Whoops,” Jeongguk comments, shy, and Taehyung wants to scoop him up and never let him go. And - they just stare at each other for a second. Jeongguk’s heart is still beating weirdly, and Taehyung feels its rhythm in his own chest. Especially with this eyeliner on top of his shimmery eyeshadow, Jeongguk is so, so pretty.
Taehyung still has his hand touching Jeongguk, faces still so close, when Yoongi exits the bathroom.
“Uh, am I supposed to be seeing this?” He asks, voice dry.
Taehyung and Jeongguk jump apart.
“Ah, uh, Taehyungie hyung was just putting on my makeup!” Jeongguk explains hastily, and when Yoongi looks over at him, Taehyung just shrugs with a blank expression. Yoongi lets out a little tired sigh, and rubs his eyes.
“Well, it’s done now. I think your friends are waiting outside,” he tells his little brother. Jeongguk ducks his head and walks out the door, but not before Yoongi fixes him with a weird look. Taehyung waits in the silence of the moment, Yoongi turning to him and looking at him strangely as well, as if he is calculating something.
Finally, he just says, “Are you going to do my eyeliner too? We gotta go soon, Tae.”
And it’s swept under the rug.
The party is exactly what Taehyung expected. Loud, flashing lights, music that he doesn’t listen to but recognizes from the radio, people dancing in Jackson’s living room, where couches and chairs have been pushed away to make an open space, and people making out against walls.
He walked in with a hug from Jackson, the host telling Taehyung and Yoongi how much he missed Taehyung (not Yoongi so much because he was smart (Jackson’s opinion) and decided not to go far away for university).
“As always,” Jackson reminds him, “drinks in the kitchen, grab a bedroom as long-”
“As long as it’s not the one all the way down the hallway to the right, that’s your room,” Yoongi and Taehyung finished for him. Jackson smiled again.
“Right.” And, moments later, he got whisked away in the crowd, off to go greet another person, or stop someone from falling off his balcony (cough cough Taehyung in his junior year).
Yoongi and Taehyung didn’t always stick together in parties, so it was no surprise to Taehyung that after a few moments of meandering through the house, Yoongi told him he’d be ‘right back’ and went to go talk to Jung Hoseok across the room. Hoseok was a friend of Taehyung’s too, but Taehyung knew better than to interrupt that mess. Yoongi had been thirsting over Hoseok since the dark ages, even getting close to them would inevitably mean catching some form of useless gay disease.
Taehyung wandered into the kitchen, and made himself a drink. He saw his friend, Jieun, and started talking to her about how she had been since they last talked. He passed about an hour of time at the party this way, sipping a drink and talking to myriad persons he hadn’t seen in the last year. After a while, he began to grow restless, and walked towards the living room to maybe go dance a little with the intoxicated crowd.
While passing the hallway, the infamous ‘bedroom’ hallway, though, he heard two voices arguing.
“Come on, you were being a tease out there and now you don’t want to follow through?” A deep voice said, and Taehyung froze. What the fuck? But with the response, Taehyung stopped breathing.
“Fuck off, I didn’t promise you shit, and even if I did it wouldn’t matter. Leave me alone.”
Taehyung’s blood ran cold. That was Jeongguk’s voice. He walked down the hallway, seeing one shadowy figure uncomfortable close to another in the dim lighting. Still, Taehyung could recognize Jeongguk’s figure trying to inch away from the other man.
“Babe, stop fighting it, we both know you want it,” The creepy frat looking boy leered, and Taehyung felt fire in his chest.
“Hey, leave him the fuck alone,” Taehyung interrupted, pushing the guy away from Jeongguk. The stranger looked Taehyung up and down.
“Are you the boyfriend?” The guy asked, and Taehyung froze. Jeongguk seemed just as uncomfortable, and Creepy Guy smirked. “No? Then leave us alone.”
“I don’t have to be his boyfriend to know he doesn’t want you, man,” Taehyung responded, pulling Jeongguk by his arm into his hold, the younger boy’s back against his chest.
“Who the fuck are you, dude?” Creepy Guy asked, still leering. “Little Gukkie wants to spend his night with me-”
“I fucking don’t!” Jeongguk interrupts, and pushes himself away from Taehyung’s chest, fists clenched. “Take the fucking hint, man. Taehyung shouldn’t have to show up to make you back off-”
“Wait, fuck, you’re Taehyung? Kim Taehyung?”
“Pleased to meet you,” Taehyung responds coldly. Creepy Guy doesn’t say another word, just runs out of the hallway, eyes wide. Jeongguk lets out a frustrated sigh.
“Why did it only matter who you were?” He asks, clearly unhappy. Taehyung still has an arm around Jeongguk, loose though, and he uses it to pull the younger boy around to face him.
“I’m sorry. I know that was your fight, I just, when I saw him like that with you, I couldn’t -” He trails off, frustrated, and runs his free hand through his hair.
“Couldn’t?” Jeongguk says, looking up at him with wide eyes. His anger leaves his stature, instead curving up into Taehyung’s hold. “Couldn’t what?” It’s then that Taehyung notices how close they are, his arm curving around Jeongguk’s waist, their chests only an inch apart, their breaths intermingling.
“You’re as tall as me, now,” Taehyung says, suddenly noticing it. Jeongguk’s expression turns a little confused, a little shy.
“Hyung?” his voice is quiet between them, and unconsciously Taehyung starts moving a little closer. His back hits the wall, and the music sounds distant in Taehyung ears. Jeongguk’s eyes are so, so pretty. “What -”
Taehyung moves a hand up to cup Jeongguk’s cheek, gently brushing his thumb over the corner of Jeongguk’s lips. “You’re so strong, now, too.” He knows his voice is coming out reverent, adoring, vulnerable, but he can’t find it inside himself to care. “I know you could have handled that guy on your own, I just felt so angry when I saw him touching you, I…”
Jeongguk moves his own hands, shaking, to loop around the back of Taehyung’s neck. His skin burns at the touch.
And maybe he’s a little tipsy, sure, but he feels strangely sober in the moment. Jeongguk’s skin feels soft under his skin, and he moves his other hand to lightly, as if asking permission, grip the curve of Jeongguk’s waist.
This is Jeongguk, he keeps telling himself. Yoongi, your best friend’s, kid brother. But that doesn’t repulse him. The feelings he recognized earlier are only stronger, now, and Taehyung feels as though he’s held these feelings inside himself for a longer time than he realised. Jeongguk’s lips looks so soft, so pretty, the top one curved like a bow, the lower pillowy and sweet. He wants to taste them.
“Tae,” Jeongguk says, so earnestly it sounds a little like a plea. “Are you going to kiss me?”
Taehyung realises he’s been staring at Jeongguk’s lips. He lifts his gaze, making eye contact with the younger boy. “Do you want me to?” He asks, voice husky. Slowly, like an ember coiling in his gut, Jeongguk nods. Oh god.
Time seems to be moving in slow motion, as Taehyung takes a deep, shuddering breath, and begins to tilt his head, leaning forward. Jeongguk’s eye flutter closed, and Taehyung follows suit. He’s about to connect their lips and taste Jeongguk’s sweet mouth, when-
“What the actual fuck.”
Taehyung doesn’t separate from Jeongguk, merely opens his eyes and turns his head to see who was trying to interrupt them, but - fuck . There, standing in all of his short, angry glory, was none other than Min Yoongi.