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Jeongguk sits at a window seat in the cafe Jin owns, cradling his steaming cup of coffee and gazing contentedly out at the slowly setting sun behind pink clouds. His study notes are sprawled out on the table in front of him but he pays them no attention. He’s waiting for Jimin, who is going to pretend to study with him to fulfil their cafe study fantasy that neither of them are strict enough to truly enact.

The coffee shop is tucked away on a crooked street not too far from his university, up a flight of stairs the little cafe looks over Seoul through two big windows, small lamps and the smell of coffee make it feel almost romantic. The walls are kind of scruffy with layer upon layer of faded old posters but it only adds charm to the small space.

The door opens then so Jeongguk looks towards it in hopes of it being Jimin but instead he sees one of the most beautiful people he’s ever seen, a god, his longtime crush Kim Taehyung. Jeongguk doesn’t actually know him, more knows of him and sees him around, sees him everywhere. Always in loose slacks and with rolls of paper or with paint in his hair and a wide boxy grin or even in a messy apron running across campus looking harassed. Always looking like Jeongguks dream come true, someone so unattainable. Today he looks flustered, pushing back his grey hair and pulling his saddle bag off hurriedly.

“Late? Am I late?” He calls out with a distinct air of someone who is in fact late.
“Two minutes,” Jin replies followed by his squeaking laughter, “it’s fine, calm down and put an apron on.”

As he hurries past Jeongguk catches the scent of his cologne, ashamedly inhaling deeply as he does. Before turning his wide eyes to his table and shuffling his papers distractedly, attempting to look like hadn’t been eaves dropping.

Jeongguk realises that this is a golden opportunity to interact with Taehyung where it wouldn’t be weird, it would be... purposeful, to order more coffee.
Resolute he drains his half full coffee and springs up, taking a deep breath as he carries his empty cup to the counter.

“Hi,” Taehyung greets, his eyes gleaming, or maybe they’re doing normal eye things but Jeongguk swears they look like they’re sparkling.

Stupidly captivated Jeongguk stumbles over his words, “er, hi, can I get another? Oh, an americano! Yes, um, please.”

If possible Taehyungs eyes seem to light up further, “of course, I’ll bring it over”

“Thanks,” Jeongguk says biting his inner cheek and shuffling stiffly away.

Turning his attention to his coursework he genuinely tries to distract himself while he waits, posing his body to look what he hopes is casual and attractive, biting his lip to show his dimple.

“Here,” Taehyung says placing a fresh cup of coffee in front of him with a smile, Jeongguk promptly goes to wrap his hands around it and manages to jostle half of the liquid out.

“Fuck!”

Taehyung quickly grabs a cloth where it was tucked under his apron and wipes the coffee away, “are you okay?”

“Yea, yep, I’m good!”

“Fuck,” Jeongguk mumbles again as Taehyung slips back behind the counter. He can feel the heat in his cheeks and ears. Can feel the sting in his fingers from the scolding liquid.

“My bro!” Jimin says slipping into the seat opposite Jeongguk.

“Hyung when did Taehyung start working here?” Jeongguk asks quietly in lieu of greeting

“Huh? Oh,” Jimin mutters distractedly, eyes lighting up and quickly turning towards the counter. “Tae! You sexy thing!” He calls out excitedly

Deep laughter drifts out before Taehyungs grey head of hair peaks out from behind the coffee machine, “Good afternoon Jiminie, always a treat to see you.”

“Can I have an iced tea?” Jimin asks, getting back up and walking to the counter, “this is my best friend Jeongguk,” he adds waving towards him.

And suddenly Taehyungs wide smile is directed at him, Jeongguk hesitantly smiles back and waves.

“Nice to finally meet you Jeongguk, Jimin is always bringing you up in conversation, I hear you’re a dance major too?”

“Yea, same as hyung” Jeongguk curses his inability to make small talk and hopes his smile translates as interested.

Taehyung follows Jimin with his iced tea in hand then leans against a nearby table. “I’m a fine art major.” Jeongguk who already knew this just smiles in response.

“He’s goooooood Guk, like hella good, like would plaster our dorm with all of his work and smile to see it everyday kinda good,”

Chuckling Taehyung says “I’m doing a portrait module, Jimin volunteered to be a model for me.” He smiles, getting his phone out of his apron pocket, “paintings actually almost done, if you wanna see?”

“Please!” Jimin exclaims, hurriedly getting up to peer over Taehyungs shoulder and then gasping in delight.

Jeongguk looks on curiously until Taehyung shows him the painting on his phone screen.
He’s given Jimin flushed skin and a delicate hand holding the side of his face. There’s a big (crayon?) red heart drawn on top, over his neck and shoulder. Jeongguk doesn’t know very much about art but likes to draw and often looks up artists on pinterest to reference, Taehyungs work looks like a mix between Egon Schiele and something that must be uniquely Taehyung, something a little messy, heavy oil paints and vibrant colours contrasting against washes of pale skin tone. Jeongguk loves it immediately, actually has am Schiele poster on the back of his door and is always in awe of art that is loose but elegant, that has character.

Jeongguk finds himself not for the first time imagining taking Taehyung to a gallery, kissing his cheeks in front of the art and pretending to know the stories behind the paintings.

“Do you like it?” Taehyung asks in his deep voice.

Flushing and coming back to himself Jeongguk stutters, “it’s beautiful, I love it.”

“Thank you,” Taehyung replies quietly with a small smile.

They talk like that for a while, Jeongguk not really participating besides smiles and nods. Jimin tells them about a not really sort of date he went on recently, about how the boy had taken them to see some phycological thriller that tripped Jimin out. Taehyung shares about how he started working for Jin and what the interview was like, Jin apparently having hired him for having gotten into a coughing fit mid interview which somehow lead to them laughing until Jin started tearing up. Telling Taehyung that most of all he needs someone who he can laugh at.

Both feeling the weight of social interaction and knowing he has a class within the hour Jeongguk starts packing his notes away, “I have class soon so I’d better leave, it was nice meeting you Taehyung! See you Jiminie.”

After they say their goodbyes he heads over to pay Jin and then down the stairs out onto the streets, wondering how busy the subway will be at this time he pulls his big headphones over his ears and waves them goodbye again, turning his music up to drown out all background noise.

 

***

Taehyung watches from the window above as Jeongguk hurries away, oversized shirt catching in the wind to cling to his shape. When he turns back to the table he finds Jimin looking at him smugly.

“You were looking at him like you wanted to eat him whole,” Jimin says setting his tea down in front of him.

“Sue me I’m gay, the kid looks like he deserves to be eaten”

And really he does, but in a Where The Wild Things Are way, a “I’ll eat you up I love you so” way. And maybe in a sexy way too, duality.

Snorting Jimin leans his body forward, quickly growing serious “I- Tae be careful around him okay?”

“What, why?”

“He’s, well he’s gentle like a river and no offence but you’re like a whirlwind”

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t know man, I just don’t want to see him get hurt.”

“Neither would I,” Taehyung says taking a big breath, he didn’t think he was the type to go around hurting people. Maybe a one off hook up or two but he prides himself on his kindness.

He thinks that perhaps Jimin is the protective type and Jeongguk certainly looked like someone you would want to protect. He had met Jimin when he’d gotten permission from a dance professor to sit in on a dance practice to draw their moving bodies. It was fun, he came out with a set of fluid line drawings and a friendly face to have lunch with. They got on well, Jimins touchy nature matching Taehyungs well.

More customers came in at that moment so with Jin nowhere to be seen Taehyung apologises and goes back to the till to serve them.

 

Once his shift is finished and he’s cleaned the cafe for the night he makes his way quickly to the subway station, topping up his t-money card at the barrier and fumbling to put music on in his headphones. Shuffling to a Joji song ‘Demons’, he stands on the platform watching the other commuters. He likes the rush of the subway, likes the train carriages, likes that everyone is together but not socially. Most people in their own heads, something about it is calming.

He has a deadline due by the end of the week so he really needs to get home and finish it but decides to make a detour to a convenience store to grab a gimbap triangle and bottle of soju because fuck it if he’s gonna have to stay up late working he might as well do it in a good mood.

When he finally gets home and toes his shoes off at the door he sees Namjoon bustling around in the kitchen, probably making the only thing he can, ramen.

“You home Tae?,” he hears as he takes his coat off and ear buds out.

“Mmm,” He noncommittally replies, tired after working a long shift.

Popping his head out of the kitchen doorway Namjoon smiles, “Want ramen? I’m even boiling eggs!”

“Ah yes please, that actually sounds like heaven,” he replies, finally smiling back. “I’m tiiiiiirreedd,” he whines, walking into the kitchen and perching on the counter.

“Lucky you have a hyung to cook for you?”

“Always lucky to have you Joon.”

Once the food is ready they eat in relative silence, taking his last bite Taehyung leans back, stretching. “I have that self portrait assignment to finish,” he pouts.

“Ah, I have a lot of course work to do tonight too,” Taehyung knows that in Namjoons case he’s working weeks ahead of himself and really doesn’t need to work but smiles in sympathy anyway.

“We’d better get to work then, I’ll see you later hyung,” Taehyung says getting up and heading to his bedroom where his oil paints are already scattered and waiting for him.

 

***

Jeongguk can hear squealing from outside their door before anyone even knocks, gets up to open the door wide for Yoongi who stumbles in with a very enthusiastic Hoseok wrapped around him like a koala, hands wrapped around the necks of two bottles of wine, one in each hand.

“Missed me boys?” Hoseok simpers, battling his eyelashes exaggeratedly.

Jimin is curled forward in giggles over his cushion on the floor despite not having touched his soju yet. Jeongguk grins widely displaying all of his teeth,

“You obviously haven’t let Yoongi miss you,”

“His touch feels like a chaos demon,” Yoongi drawls attempting to detach himself without being hit in the head with a bottle of red wine.

Jeongguk snorts before making himself useful by skidding over to the kitchen in his socks to get their cheap wine glasses out of the cupboard. Their supply is low considering someone breaks one every single time they drink but Jeongguk can’t pass up the opportunity to feel fancy, like a wine aunt gossiping perched on the kitchen side.

After he has changed the music to something more upbeat he settles himself on the floor beside Jimin, tucking his knees under his chin.

“You know, Tae said he would be at the party tonight...” Jimin says, eyeing Jeongguk.

“Oh,” is all Jeongguk can think to say, inside he’s taking stock of his outfit, a simple oversized shirt and jeans. Not his most alluring outfit, something that he would wear any day of the week that was primarily for comfort.

Not following the rest of the conversation Jeongguk waits for enough time to pass to up faux-casually get up and go to his room without drawing attention, or really, question. Picking up his wineglass and taking a sip as he walks. But to his disappointment he can feel Jimins presence behind him, having followed him to his room,

“Don’t want to hang out with your hyungs?” Jimin asks teasingly.

“I’m just, thought I would get changed, you know more appropriately”

“What does ‘appropriate’ mean?” Jimin goads from where he has laid himself out on the bed, “sexy, does it mean sexy?”

Coughing Jeongguk pointedly looks away “good, I just want to look good”

Jimin doesn’t look convinced, Jeongguk gets the distinct impression that he knows exactly what his motives are. Blessedly not poking him further Jimin gets up and rummages through the wardrobe himself, “this shirt!”

This shirt is a black slinky thing that clings just right but still falls effortlessly, Jeongguk tucks it into a different pair of jeans, these black and hitting his hips in just the right way to emphasis his waist. He puts in his favourite hoop earrings and sprays a little sandalwood cologne, satisfied he turns to Jimin who gives him an approving look.

“Come on, if you’re dressing up I want to too,” Jimin tells him, grabbing his wrist and dragging him to his own bedroom.

 

By the time they arrive to the house party it’s already full, Jeongguk silently thanks the alcohol in his system for not letting the loud music and crowded space overwhelm him.
In the living room of the flat there are people dancing. Jeongguk giggles and pulls Yoongi with him who only mildly protests at the man handling, “Ugly dance with me hyung!”

He begins flailing his arms dramatically, with no rhythm despite his dance major until Yoongi caves, smiling wide and gummy. By the time Jimin and Hoseok emerge, bottles of soju in hand the two of them are competing to look the silliest with gusto.

Time passes quickly, Jeongguk steadily drinking lest his high wear off and leave him uncomfortable in the rowdy space.

Jeongguk doesn’t have to try to get boys trying to dance up close to him at parties, his friends are very protective though, closing in when anyone gets too near, holding his hands and giggling in his ears. Sometimes Jeongguk wishes they’d leave him to it, wishes he could let them dance close, lean in, touch him.

It’s not that he’s never let it happen, as a freshman he let too many boys in, let them touch him roughly exploring his skin, kissing him deep in a way that crawled under his skin. Too many heavy gazes of different boys watching him, wanting him to give them more than he could. Felt like their touches were taking something from him, it’s not that he didn’t like it, felt the warmth in his tummy when their lips trailed his neck, big hands wrapped around his waist. But somehow something in it was wrong, always made him back away, whisper no’s and sorries.

His friends know this and its almost cute how Jimin grasps his hands and pulls them high over their heads, wiggling his hips and openly laughing. How Hoseok slips his arms around Jeongguk from behind, hands coming to rest on his stomach.
Looking to the side Jeongguk can see some poor guy who had siddled close looking between them with clear disappointment. He’s cute, dark hair hanging over dark eyes, in another life Jeongguk might have let him in, probably would now if his friends weren’t so protective.

Sometimes lying alone he kisses his own fingertips, skims his fingers down his sides, trying to make himself enough to satisfy himself. But at the end he’s alone, and god does he feel it.

Jimin detaches his hands, breaking Jeongguk out of his thoughts, looking up he finds Taehyung approaching them looking like a vision. Shirt buttoned low and grey hair gleaming under the artificial light. He thanks some higher power that Jimin had somehow befriended him, his sociable warm friend drawing Jeongguks crush into his life.

“TaeTae!” Jimin yells with enthusiasm reaching his hands out.

Their close circle opens to welcome Taehyung, who moves closer, wiggling as he does so.

“You guys look like you’re having a good time,” Taehyung says with a warm chuckle

“All the better for having you here,” Jimin replies teasingly

He feels the heat of Taehyungs gaze fall on him, willing himself not to blush he dances with a little more purpose, rolling his stomach like he does in dance practice. He’s close, Jimin having moved to dance obnoxiously against Hoseok who is squealing with laughter at the attention.

At some point Taehyungs hands find their way to Jeongguk hips, in fact Jeongguk watches it happen, heart stuttering. Tries to look casual, the alcohol probably letting him succeed. Hips rolling to the music, he lets himself gravitate forwards, so close that he can feel the heat of Taehyungs flushed chest. Time passes like that, the two of them dancing close to the loud music. Taehyungs grin looking bright in the dim light. Jeongguk can’t help but stare at it, even when Taehyung stops smiling he can’t pull his eyes away, his lips looking so plush and soft.

Jeongguk can’t help but feel a small stirring of sadness in his stomach, he wants this, it’s a dream really, he should be glad of it. But part of him wishes that he came to being close to Taehyung some other way, with no alcohol, no loud background noise. It feels rougher than he really wants. But he can’t let go of where his hand has found itself resting on Taehyungs arm.

“Hey,” Taehyung whispers, Jeongguk looks up to find Taehyungs eyes on his own lips. An invitation, he knows that’s what it is when two people look at each other’s lips. He learnt this by googling ‘how to know if someone fancies you’ one night. Taehyung leans closer, breath soft against Jeongguks face, closer still until his lips are near pressed to Jeongguks.

“I, er, I’m sorry,” Jeongguk stutters against Taehyungs lips, panic rising fast. Stumbling back Taehyung let’s him easily break their embrace, looking around he sees Jimin and Yoongi laughing hard over Hoseoks wild dancing. Knows that he should go to them, quietly explain and have Jimin take him home. Jimin would ask if he could touch and then carefully run his hands down Jeongguks back, soothe him with gentle words and guide him to their dorm. He knows this but there’s always a part of him that likes the pain of being alone, emo fucking shit.

Not looking back he scrambles to get his earbuds out of the pocket of his tight jeans, plugs them into his phone and blasts rain sounds. Stumbling through the throng of people and out of the front door.
He feels suddenly sober and incredibly itchy, all over. Rushing blindly in the direction of their dorm he tries to focus on the rain sounds and the press of his feet against the floor.
Blessedly quickly he’s home, slamming the front door shut and near running to his bedroom. He can feel his cheeks hot with tears, rubbing at them irritatedly he struggles out of his too tight constricting jeans and itchy shirt. In just his boxers and shivering he hurries under his duvet, pulling his weighted blanket on top and putting his eye mask on to block out the light of his window.
Less, it’s less, less information, less too much.
Still itchy, itchy itchy itchy, heart fast fast.

He wants to yell but refrains, still present enough to hold himself back. He knows he needs to slow down, treat himself gently, taking steadying breaths he carefully wipes his wet eyes under his eye mask.

He’s okay, peaking from under his mask he shuffles his music to his favourite soothing music, better, strokes his tummy tenderly, soft soft.
Tries not to think about Taehyung, tries not to feel empty at the thought of not kissing him, wanting, god wanting to kiss him so much.

 

***

“Taehyung, Taehyung! Where’s Jeongguk?” Jimin is in front of him, eyes wide and concerned.

“He didn’t want- he...” Is all that he can currently get out.

“Please Taehyung, this is important, where is Jeongguk?”

“He left, he-“ Thinking about Jeongguks panicked face with a twist of his gut Taehyung takes a breath. “He panicked, just walked out, put his headphones in and half ran, I, I wanted to go after him but I don’t think he wanted that”

“Shit,” Jimin takes his larger hand in his own smaller one, gently tugging him to the front door. When out in the quieter corridor he turns to him again. “Tae, maybe I should have said something, but he doesn’t like people to find out before they get to know him, there are, a lot of untrue assumptions made otherwise. Look, Jeongguk is autistic, whatever happened wasn’t your fault okay.” He says, perhaps taking pity on Taehyungs worried expression

Letting go of his hand to stroke Taehyungs shoulder Jimin carries on, “I need to go find him, can you tell the others I left?”

“Yea,” he replies quietly

 

When he gets home he kicks off his shoes and walks to the couch, mind whirling, autism, what exactly does that mean? He doesn’t know much besides tv adaptations, people with blank faces and monotone voices, no sense of humour but funny in their misunderstandings of the world and always extraordinarily clever. But Jeongguk, Jeongguk was all expressive eyes and warm giggles.

Getting his phone out he sends Joon a text

Tae bear:

joonie are u awake?
need you

 

Joon:

Yea, Tae where are you?
Are you okay? What’s wrong?

 

Tae bear:

in the living room

 

Hearing stirring from the direction of Namjoons room Taehyung waits curling up further in on himself. Feels a warm body plop down next to him.

“Oh Tae,” Namjoon murmurs pulling him into a hug “What is it TaeTae?”

“I made a mistake hyung,” his voice muffled by Namjoons shoulder, pulling back he starts fiddling with his sleeve, “You know, erm that cute boy I told you about? Jeongguk? Well I, tried to kiss him, and-he-didn’t-want-me-to-and-ran-away-you-should-have-seen-it-hyung-he-looked-terrified!” He gets out all in a rush

“Oh no,” a pause, “I’m sorry, that sucks really bad, you know you’re like super hot and friendly and sweet, this doesn’t reflect on you Tae.”

“I, I’m not sure, but um, there’s something else,” Tae begins, tucking his feet under him, “Jimin, our friend, told me that Jeongguks autistic, and that had something to do with him panicking? I don’t know anything about autism really, do you?”

“Not really, I guess we could look it up?” Namjoon suggests, getting his phone out from his hoodie pocket.

Taehyung does the same, reaching for his laptop on the coffee table, a quick google search tells him that autism is a developmental disability that affects communication, sensory experience, anxiety, processing information and wanting repetition, none of the sites illustrate a person who outwardly looks like Jeongguk. Jimin had said that there are wrong assumptions so, misinformation? Taehyung doesn’t know where this leaves Jeongguk or what about the situation made him panic besides not wanting to kiss him. He feels shame and rejection burn in him again.

“Maybe Jimin will tell you more, though, Jeongguk would be the best person to explain really” Namjoon says, putting his phone away after sharing what he had read, which was much the same as Taehyung had found.

“I’m not sure he wants to see me again,” Taehyung confesses quietly.

“Try not to work off of assumptions for now Tae, maybe get some rest and if you want to do something about it text Jimin tomorrow.”

 

***

Jeongguk must have drifted into a half sleep because he becomes aware of someone else climbing into his bed, groggily he lifts his eye mask half off his eyes to see, though not fully so as to partly shield his eyes even in his dark room.

“What happened Gukkie?” Jimin whispers into the air between them once he’s slipped under the covers.

Jeongguk shuffles a little closer and speaks quietly, “Tae, he tried to kiss me,” his heart stutters thinking back, “and I got scared, you know, I really wanted to, really really hyung”

“I get it guk, it’s okay, he’s really nice you know”

“I’ve had a big crush on him for a long time, since the first time I saw him, he’s just,” sigh, “the way he is, you know, beautiful, and his smile is, like that and he talks so loud I always seem to notice when he’s near. I haven’t wanted anyone like this in a long time?
I really wanted something to happen between us but I just froze inside when what I wanted actually happened, I can’t even believe he wanted me like that, I’m not sure I’ve processed that”

“But that’s not what you actually wanted is it? You didn’t want to kiss at some party, you wanted something slower,” Jimin smiles kindly at him through the darkness

“I would have taken it though, if it meant I got to touch him, but I ruined it and he’s probably not interested in anything more than a party kiss. And, and if he was, I’ve scared him away.”

“We’ll see about that, I might be able to work something out,” Jimin tells him with a smirk that unnerves Jeongguk. “Can I touch you right now guk?”

“Yea” Jeongguk whispers, wanting to be soothed more than anything. Jimin begins carding his hand through Jeongguks hair, humming quietly.

“If only we fancied each other Jiminie, it would be so easy to love you, wouldn’t be scared of touching you”

Jimin giggles, “it would be easier, wouldn’t have to worry about you so much, would be lucky to have someone as handsome as you,” he says cheekily sliding a hand up to squeeze Jeongguks bicep and making him squirm.

 

***

In the morning, Taehyung has a mild headache, not sure if this was from the alcohol last night or what had happened with Jeongguk, he is at least pleased to get a text from Jimin.

Jiminie:

hey, we’re all heading to the cafe to get hangover food if u want to join?

So after a shower and changing into clean clothes, his favourite outfit for confidence, a patterned shirt tucked into wide legged slacks. He heads out to his work place, still new enough at the job to not find the thought of being there on his free time repulsive.

By the time he arrives Yoongi and Hoseok are already there both looking worse for wear.

“Tae!” Hoseok manages to speak brightly despite looking like he’s drowning in his hoodie, hair a roughed up mess. “Hey, glad to see you, you get home safe last night?”

“Yea, did you drag yourselves home much later?” Taehyung asks, sliding into a seat at their table.

“Heh, a while after I guess, I just don’t care about myself you see? Just keep drinking and drinking, who gives a fuck about morning Hobi right?”

Chuckling sleepily Yoongi lifts his head from where it was rested on his crossed arms, “I care about morning Hobi.”

“Well! If it isn’t my favourite sweetheart, come to give his hyung company!” Jins chipper voice interrupts from beside him, turning to look Taehyung finds Jin puckering his lips obnoxiously, Taehyung pretends to lean away in disgust. “Yah! And to think I made you a free drink!”

“Oh hyung!” Taehyung beams, leaning forward with grabby hands to the iced tea Jin is holding “thank you!” He tells him around his straw after he’s given the sweet drink.

“We’ll order food once the others get here Seokjin,” Hoseok explains, pulling the strings of his hood until it’s taut around his face.

As Jin heads back to the counter to serve new customers Hoseok leans towards Taehyung, “So,” He starts mischievously, “saw you getting all hot and heavy with gukkie last night”

Taehyung promptly chokes on his spit, “something like that.”

“It’s okay,” Hoseok says laughing at his reaction. “Just, if you want to pursue him maybe take it slow?”

“Yeah, I, Yea,” Taehyung can’t help but think about how Jeongguk has made it clear that he doesn’t want to be pursued by him but doesn’t say as much.

From his position facing the door Taehyung can see Jeongguk approaching, holding Jimins hand. He’s wearing a large black sweater, it looks well worn and stretched, he also has one earbud in even though he’s talking to Jimin.
Taehyung can feel heat rise to his cheeks, steeling himself as they get close, trying very hard not to think about his rejection.

“Hey! We ordering food?” Jimin asks, pulling a chair to the end of their table to sit at. The only other free one is opposite Taehyung, he can’t help but think Jimin did this on purpose as he watches Jeongguk sit down.

“Yes, want toast,” Yoongi grumbles from beside Jeongguk, Taehyung watches as he starts running his hand up and down Jeongguks back.

Jeongguk himself is adamantly staring at the ring he’s fiddling with in his lap, Taehyung wonders whether he feels just as nervous. Taking the opportunity to observe him Taehyung takes in his fluffy hair, big big eyes, big cute nose, the pout he doesn’t seem to be conscious of. He’s maybe the most endearing person Taehyung has even seen. Far from the sculpted Adonis he had been the night before that had heat simmering in Taehyungs stomach at just a glance of his cinched tiny waist, tight jeans ripped to expose his thighs, slight sheen of sweat that had made his golden skin look like it was glowing.

Okay, Taehyung has a crush, and he doesn’t know what to do with it now. Can’t pursue it, feels another wave of shame wash over him at the thought. But perhaps Taehyung can pursue something else, he wants to know this boy with big eyes who all of his friends seem to love and dote on.

“Tae do you want cake with me?” Jimin is asking him, Taehyung rips his gaze from Jeongguk guiltily.

“Mm, the lemon drizzle?” There’s not very much choice for hangover foods at the cafe, mostly baked goods. At Jimins nod Taehyung replies, “sure, I love the one we do here”

Jin, as though smelling a sale, walks over to them at that moment, perching on a nearby table. “What’ll it be boys?”

“Lemon cake!” Out of the corner of his eye he notices Jeongguk watching him, feels nervous at the attention, smiles widely hoping to cover it up.

Everyone clambers with orders as Taehyung turns back to the table, braving a look at Jeongguk who is watching him with bug eyes, Taehyung offers him a small smile. Friends. He wants to be friends, he can do this. Taehyung is actually very good at making friends, is often called charming and charismatic. Swallowing the rejection down he asks quietly, “what would you like to eat Jeongguk?”

“Um, just coffee, I just want coffee.” He replies shyly

Turning back to Jin Taehyung adds, “and an americano please”

“You don’t drink coffee” Jin says raising a brow,

“You’re right I don’t, this isn’t mine”

“You will.. you will Taehyung, if it’s the last thing I do I will turn you to the sweet black nectar!” Having heard this before Taehyung turns away, “You can’t work in a coffee shop and not like coffee!” Jin continues.

Taehyung swings back towards him and scrunches his nose exaggeratedly, “yea yea and I’ll drop dead in the process!”

“Well! Better that than no coffee!” Jin says with so much surety that Taehyung can’t help but start laughing, also cracking up Jin turns to make his way back to the counter to make their orders.

As his laughter dies down he overheards Yoongi talking quietly to Jeongguk “You having a bad sensory day guk?” Yoongi asks kindly.

“Yea,” Jeongguk admits, glancing quickly at Taehyung who tries to feign an air of nonchalance. Yoongi doesn’t say anything more, just slides ever so slightly closer.

Conversation picks up, Hoseok whining about Jimin stealing his toast, Jimin in turn throwing said toast across the table accidentally hitting Yoongi.

“Yah! I don’t deserve this! I’m only ever good to you!”

Quietly paying attention Taehyung notices that Jeongguk has his eyes closed a lot, just listening to the conversation, only occasionally quietly adding a comment.

The morning quickly turns to noon and Taehyung has a studio session to go to so bids them goodbye so that he can hurry to the art store to get new oil paints before class.

 

***

A few days after the hangover cafe morning Jeongguk receives a text.

Unknown:

hey jeongguk ɷ◡ɷ
this is taehyung
jiminie gave me ur number
hope thats ok?

Jeongguk doesn’t know whether to be thanking heaven or cry because he is terrible at texting, much the same as small talk,

Guk:

Hi!

 

Taehyung:

i saw a rlly cute dog today that looked a bit like u
i just wanted to tell u

 

Guk:

Omg okay I wish I had seen
Wish I had seen any dog today

 

Taehyung🌻:

i feel u
would give anything to have my dog rn

 

Guk:

You have a dog??

 

Taehyung 🌻:

i doooo
wanna see him?

B4-E585-FD-FDE7-42-B3-B63-E-B994656-E778-B

Jeongguk is distracted from cooing at the adorable dog by his owner, it almost makes him feel shy to look at. Taehyung looked so good with natural hair, Jeongguk doesn’t know what to do with himself.

Guk:

!!!!what! a beautiful dog!
I miss him and I don’t even know him

 

Taehyung 🌻:
hahaha he would love u im sure

 

They text for hours, and in the days that pass keep texting. Despite Jeongguks usual aversion to texting he finds talking to Taehyung surprisingly easy. Still taxing, taking up as much energy in his day as dance practice does. He has to try really hard to form sensible replies, feels like he’s writing poetry or solving maths equations. The equations of what to say in social interactions. It’s easier in person, where he can just smile instead of replying sometimes, maybe reach out and touch or just have an air about him. But texting bit down to the bone, forced him to condense his thoughts and make them straight forward.
Sometimes a simple four line text would take him half an hour, but Taehyung didn’t seem to mind, always ready to reply as soon as he got a response.

 

Jeongguk is sitting on the floor in the dance studio, covered in quickly drying sweat, hunched over his phone texting Taehyung about an anime they’ve both been watching recently when Jimin slips down next to him.

“Who you texting kid? You’re on your phone so much recently, I’d think you were avoiding talking to me,” Jimin says brightly, sliding up closer to Jeongguk, breathing down his neck as he tries to read over his shoulder.

“Ah, Taehyung. Are you thankful? To me for giving him your number? Really helped a bro out didn’t I?”

“Very grateful hyung,” Jeongguk replies with a roll of his eyes even though he really is very thankful.

“So, hows the big crush going?”

“It’s not, it’s not like we’re flirting or anything, just, becoming friends.”

“Do you only want that though?”

“I’ll take it.”

He means it, Taehyung is funny and effortlessly the coolest person Jeongguk knows. He wants to know him, wants to hear his exaggerated stories about how his day was, wants to know what his favourite ice cream flavour is, wants to share stupid memes and laugh together. He would want to know him even if he wasn’t the most stupidly attractive person Jeongguk’s ever seen.

 

It’s two weeks after they first start texting, becoming friends, that Jeongguk braves Jins cafe. It’s a warm spring day and Jeongguk has spent the walk there smiling at the blooming cherry trees, at the happy bichon puppy he walks past, at each and every pavement crack he walks over. He’s excited, carrying his class notebooks as an alibi to not talk too much, he just hopes Taehyung is actually on shift.

Luck is on his side when he slips through the door into the cafe, he’s almost immediately greeted, “Gukkie! Good morning!” Taehyung says enthusiastically from when he’s cleaning a table with a damp cloth.

“Hi hyung,” Jeongguk can’t help but grin.

“Want to order?” He asks slipping back behind the counter.

“An americano? And, maybe earl grey bundt cake?” He asks eyeing the baked goods on display.

“Of course,” Taehyung gets to work on the coffee machine, “what brings you out today?”

“Studying, er and wanted to get out of the dorm since the weathers so nice”

“Ah, cherry blossom season, makes me feel alive when I walk to work.”

“Everyone seems to be smiling this time of year,” Jeongguk says with a smile of his own.

Taehyung hands him a tray with his cake and coffee, “I’m glad to see yours.”

“Er, yea, glad to see yours too hyung,” Jeongguk replies shyly, is Taehyung flirting with him? Is that what this is? Jeongguk can never tell but hopes that it’s true.

“Thank you,” He says taking the tray and coffee, “gonna study now.”

“Work hard,” Taehyung tells him with a salute.

 

Taehyung 🌻:

u make a bunny face when u drink

 

Guk:

Omfg ok

 

***

Taehyung is cleaning his brushes when his phone lights up with an incoming call from Jeongguk, he’s surprised the quiet boy would ring him but very pleased.

“Guk?” He says into the phone smiling slightly to himself.

“Hi, this isn’t um guk? I actually, I’m with him, he’s having some kind of break down. I was just walking down the street and found him, he’s a mess, won’t talk to me so I rang the last person he texted. Which was you, can you come and get him?”

“What?” Taehyung asks alarmed, “Yes, of course, where are you?”

“Down on the edge of campus, near the egg waffle shop? Do you know where I mean?”

“Yes, yes I do,” Taehyung replies, thanking god that he’s on campus already. “I’ll be right there! Can you stay with him and wait for me?”

“Of course, how far are you?”

“Just five minutes away! I’ll hurry!”

“Cool, thanks, see you.”

“Bye.” Taehyung replies before shoving his phone in his pocket and quickly putting his sketchbook and brushes in his bag.

He rushes across campus, beads of sweat forming on his forehead, until he’s outside the waffle shop. Looking around he notices a huddled figure across the street. Waving to the man he can see standing beside Jeongguk he crosses the road.

“Hey,” He says out of breath, “thank you.”

“It’s alright,” the man around their age says, brushing his brown hair up off of his forehead, “I hope he’s okay.” says looking genuine so Taehyung smiles at him as he turns to leave.

Looking down he finds Jeongguk looking so small, curled up tight, rocking back and forth, hands pressed over his eyes and sobbing. Taehyung feels his stomach tighten with worry.

“Hey, hey Jeongguk,” he says gently, with no response he crouches down to Jeongguks height. “It’s Taehyung, can you look at me?”

After a moment of waiting Jeongguk lowers his hands, Taehyung takes in a sharp breath looking at his big wide eyes pouring with tears. Seeing Taehyung he leans forward slightly as though drawn in.

“What’s the matter Jeongguk?” He asks kindly, wanting so badly to comfort him. Jeongguk just carries on staring, eyebrows scrunching together looking pained.

“What do you need me to do Guk?” Taehyung asks heart breaking.

Jeongguk still doesn’t respond, looking more frustrated and shaking his head. It hits Taehyung, if this is an autistic thing then, autism effects communication right?

“You can’t speak?”

Jeongguk nods his head, eyes teary and desperate looking.

“Okay, that’s okay Jeonggukkie, can I touch you?”

A nod, Taehyung scoots forward, still crouched and reaches out to rub Jeongguks back how he’d seen Yoongi do. Trying to think fast he tries to remember any little thing he’s noticed about Jeongguk, he’d seen him use his head phones a lot. His phone is sitting beside him on the floor so Taehyung asks “do you want music? Are your headphones in your pocket?” Without much of a reply Taehyung reaches into his pocket himself and finds a tangled mess of headphones and what he assumes to be house keys.
Unravelling them Taehyung reaches for Jeongguks phone, but not knowing the passcode puts it aside in favour of plugging them into his own. He doesn’t know what Jeongguk needs to listen to right now but remembers them texting about Dean once so puts his songs on shuffle and places the ear buds in Jeongguks ears.

“Is that ok?” Jeongguk nods in response, now with eyes tightly closed, tears clumped on his lashes.

“Alright baby, okay, come here,” he murmurs pulling him into his arms and standing them both up.

Jeongguk wobbles and leans towards Taehyung, eyes still closed. So he makes sure to take his weight and guide him to lean against a wall. Knowing that Jeongguk is vulnerable and needs to be taken out of public, away from curious eyes Taehyung rings a taxi. While they wait he strokes Jeongguk gently and googles sensory overload on his phone, Jimin had briefly mentioned it once, that Jeongguk gets it.

He learns that Jeongguk is probably overwhelmed by all of his senses right now, so he starts by taking off his big soft hoodie and manoeuvring Jeongguk to put it on him, hoping that he’s not already overheated. His skin feels cool to the touch so he prays he’s right. Pulling the hood up to shade his face he watches as Jeongguk visibly seems to become ever so slightly less tense, eyes not so tightly shut.

A taxi pulls up then so Taehyung quickly but gently guides Jeongguk to the back seat, climbing in beside him he greets the taxi driver and tells him Jeongguk and Jimins dorm address. The ride takes no time at all, since Jeongguk lives close to campus, thanking the driver he pays in notes and manages to get Jeongguk out onto the street again.

He’s only been here once before with Jimin but thankfully remembers the right floor, he knocks hoping that Jimin might be home but when no reply comes he says to Jeongguk “gonna reach in your pocket okay?” Getting the key out he opens the door and leads them inside. Then after slipping his shoes off he leans Jeongguk against the wall and gets down to pull his trainers off.

“Which is your room guk?” He asks, hoping he can hear him over his music.

Jeongguk nods towards the closest door, so Taehyung leads him, stumbling a little because Jeongguk is heavy, to his bed. Then rushes to shut the blinds until there’s only a crack of light coming in. He turns back to find him kicking off his jeans frustratedly, Taehyung tries not to look at Jeongguks legs, beautiful as they may be.

Coming over to kneel on the bed next to where Jeongguk has now lain down he pulls the covers over him. About to stand up he feels Jeongguks hands reaching out to his, “yes Guk?” His only reply is being tugged a little harder so he lets himself be dragged to lay beside him. Jeongguk sighs in what Taehyung hopes is contentment and closes his eyes again. Taehyung lays gazing at his beautiful face, tears dried now and lips pouting, after a while his breathing evens out, finally resting peacefully.

He knows that now is probably about the time to be calling Jimin, but hands held in Jeongguks bear paws, he can’t bring himself to. Not when Jeongguk is so calm now, sleeping and wanting Taehyung close. Not when Taehyung wants to be protective and have him all to himself.

 

***

Jeongguk wakes slowly, body feeling heavy and mind slow. As he comes to consciousness he realises someone is hugging him close, feels his naked thigh trapped between someone else’s, nose pressed to a neck. Wiggling back slightly Jeongguk looks up and finds Taehyung peacefully sleeping. Remembering what happened groggily he wiggles closer again. He can’t work out if he’s embarrassed, maybe not if it lead to this.
Wonders then how long they’ve been sleeping, can see that it’s dim outside, perhaps early morning?

He carefully pulls his headphones out, still quietly playing Dean, then leg feeling dead he fidgets a little before the arms around him tighten briefly, Taehyung hums under his breath sounding deep and warm. Then seems to wake up more and shuffle back slightly to look at Jeongguk with puffy eyes.

“Oh, Guk, you’re awake,” he murmurs, “are you okay?”

Jeongguk blinks, wonders for a moment whether his voice will work and then tries, “yes,” gives a small satisfied smile at being able to talk. “Thank you, for looking after me like that.” He feels the hangover, in his tiredness and in his processing being slower, takes his time speaking slowly.

“That’s okay, it was all I wanted to do really,” Taehyung smiles softly, the sight so close breathtaking. “Do you need me to do anything right now?”

“No, I really am okay, just sleepy, probably will be all day.” Jeongguk notices that they’re still wrapped around each other but doesn’t want to draw attention to it in case Taehyung hasn’t realised.

“You, Guk, is this what happened before? At the party?” Taehyung asks quietly, looking ashamed.

“Um, a little bit, that wasn’t as bad as this one but yes.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry that I made that happen, do you forgive me Guk?” He asks eyes wide and expressive.

“You shouldn’t apologise, you didn’t do anything wrong, it was me, I...” Jeongguk doesn’t know what to say.

“I shouldn’t have tried to kiss you without knowing better if you wanted it.”

“What? No, I, I wanted it. Wanted you to kiss me, really badly actually.”

“Oh,” it comes out as a sharp inhale, scanning his face Taehyung seems to be thinking deeply. “Do you- want me to kiss you now?”

Jeongguks heart stutters, feels his tummy warm at the idea, amazed that Taehyung still wants him like that. “Yes,” He says soft as a breath.

Taehyung leans forward slowly to close the distance, so close that Jeongguk feels like he can taste him, heart beating double speed, “wait!” He says quickly.

Taehyung freezes in Jeongguks hold, then moves back to give him space.

“I, want it but it’s not easy for me.” Jeongguk explains shyly, “this is embarrassing I’m sorry,”

“No, no don’t be gukkie”

“I find kissing really overwhelming, feels like I can’t think, it happens so fast and it’s so... wet,” Jeongguk can feel his face heating, “but I want to try with you, just maybe can you kiss me somewhere else,” he starts speaking fast, words running into one another out of embarrassment, “god I’m sorry, I know this is weird, you don’t have to, wow, this is like-“

“Where?” Taehyung cuts him off with a smile.

“...Maybe, I like my neck being kissed?”

“Yea?” Taehyung asks all breathy. Leaning forward slowly as Jeongguk holds his breath. He feels it happen slow, first his warm breath against the skin of his neck then the lightest touch of plush lips, Jeongguks toes curl at the sensation. And then Taehyung is kissing him, Jeongguk presses even closer, wanting more. He starts suckling lightly and running his lips along his neck, Jeongguk can’t help but let out a breathy sigh which has Taehyung kissing more insistently, again and again. Jeongguk is incredibly sensitive to everything right now, his head getting foggy with the perfect touches.

“Tae” he whispers

“Guk” Taehyung whispers against his neck, kissing him once more and then raising his head level with Jeongguks, “was that okay Guk? You’d tell me wouldn’t you?”

“I would, it was, was so good Tae,” then getting shy again he asks, “can I kiss you?”

“Please.”

Jeongguk carefully leans over Taehyung to kiss gently at where his neck meets his jaw, Taehyung immediately sighing happily at the touch. Gaining confidence nuzzles closer, nose brushing his hair, lets his kiss turn wet, more, nibbling and sucking gently along his jaw before moving up and pressing a kiss into the apple of Taehyungs cheek. Then another on his forehead, one on the end of his nose causing Taehyung to gently giggle, and then one so light on his lips. Feels after a moment Taehyung leaning forward to press his own feather light kiss against Jeongguks lips.

Pressing their foreheads together Jeongguk can feel himself grinning. “Thank you.”

That makes Taehyung giggle, “mm thank you Gukkie, wanted that, for so long.”

“You did?” Jeongguk asks weakly.

“From that first time I saw you, when you came to order coffee, so pretty Guk, wanted you straight away.”

Jeongguk definitely blushes now, “I, I used to see you on campus, for a long time, wanted you then.” He confesses in a whisper.

“Really?” Taehyung leans back and Jeongguk can see that he’s grinning big and boxy.

“Yea,” Jeongguk says breathless, stroking where his fingers rest on Taehyungs arm. And then unbidden he yawns, exhaustion making itself known.

“Sleepy baby?”

Heating up at the name Jeongguk only nods. Feeling Taehyungs hand slip under his hoodie to bare skin Jeongguk shudders gently.

“You can sleep, I’ll be here,” Taehyung tells him softly, so Jeongguk does, letting his eyes drift closed, attention all on the feeling of Taehyungs hand where it’s come to rest on his stomach, so warm and soft.