Back when he was five, his eyes used to overlook the scribble on his arm. He didn't mind the name, not knowing what it's for. Five-year-old Jeongguk couldn't care less. Six-year-old Jeongguk, however, does. When he was six, his mind grew more inquisitive, more aware of his surroundings. He starts to realize that both of his parents had names on their forearms too, barely visible from afar and yet prominent enough to be seen. At age six, Jeongguk tries to scrub off the name on his arm.
He cries when he realizes it won't come off, his skin burning and red from the force he had used to rub the offending mark away. He cries when his frustration leads him nowhere, and when his mother flings the bathroom door open in panic, Jeongguk just wails , his little brain feeling overwhelmed.
But a few sniffles, hot chocolate and lots of vanilla ice cream later, Jeongguk has finally calmed down.
"Kim Namjoon," His mother reads for him, her voice hushed as if she is telling a well treasured secret.
And Jeongguk is eager to hear it, looping an arm around her neck and climbing into her lap with eyes that shine under the living room light – tears that remained unshed. His mother smiles at him, the creases of her eyes holding a certain fondness that is only reserved for her son.
"Jeongguk-ah," She traces the name inked black on his tiny arm, her fingers barely skimming the fragile skin, as if she was afraid to touch. At this angle, Jeongguk notices the writing his mother has on her own arm and wonders why it's the color of the rainbow . He tilts his head, envying its beauty. "He's your soulmate."
"What's a soulmate?"
His mother chuckles as she shakes her head and purses her lips. She pretends to zip her lips and throws the "key" away. Jeongguk pouts, but knows that her mother won't say anything and instinctively, his little heart knows that it isn't the time for him to know it yet.
It's - uh, well, it's like a best friend but more.
Jeongguk meets Taehyung when he is 10. The bell rings for recess and students pour out of their classrooms, glad for a break. He makes his way towards the playground which is reserved for the primary school students. From a distance, he can already see his usual place by the swings. The benches line up at front, looking inviting but he makes his way past them and settles himself in a semi-secluded area on the far left of the grounds.
Jeongguk meets Taehyung as the older is making his way towards the playground, his laugh loud and happy. He stills in surprise because the sound is just so jovial and loud, a delightful ring to it. His chopsticks are an inch away from his mouth when he looks up and is met with wide and curious eyes. Jeongguk puts down the chopsticks, a few grains of rice falling on his lap.
"Hello?" He greets politely, a lilting curiosity in his tone.
The seemingly older boy doesn't say anything as he moves to take a seat beside him. Jeongguk makes space, inching away slowly, careful to not drop any food from his lunchbox that is on his lap. He looks at his schoolmate from the corner of his eye. The boy cracks a small grin.
"You're probably wondering why I'm here with you, instead of my friends."
Jeongguk steers his gaze away and looks at the seesaw in front of them. The swing suddenly seems a lot more interesting than it was a few moments ago. He really doesn't know what to say, quietly fidgeting with the chopsticks in his hands.
"Well, it's not bad to make new friends, right?" The boy's body twists around to face him. "They said you're weird, Jeongguk-ah."
His eyes quickly find his. When Jeongguk meets Taehyung, the sun is hiding behind the clouds, not wanting to take a peek at the world and yet when he looks at the boy – the pools of brown reflect the surrounding light brilliantly. The lashes are big, their shadows falling on Taehyung's face when he blinks. When Jeongguk meets Taehyung, he can't help but answer,
"You're weird yourself." The voice is gentle, the words are not.
His cheeks turn red before he can stop it, but the older student doesn't seem to mind it. He breaks their eye-contact and leans back on the bench, putting his hands on the back of his head.
"Don't stop because of me, Jeongguk." He points at the lunchbox with his chin.
Jeongguk startles, having forgotten about his lunch. The food would have lain forgotten if Taehyung had not reminded him, but his interruption had slowed Jungkook down (he usually eats his snacks before the 30 minute bell rang). When Jeongguk meets Taehyung – they do everything backwards. From the teasing, to the sarcastic remarks, and the introductions.
The introductions .
"There goes the bell," The boy sits up properly this time, watching Jeongguk pack his lunch again before he stands up.
"You didn't eat anything." Jungkook says, sifting through his lunchbox to grab a snack pack. He holds it towards the older boy, "Don't stop because of me." He throws the boy's words back at him.
There's a small genuine smile that lifts the corner of the boy's lips. It doesn't look cocky, it doesn't look smug and the boy's face morphs in such a touched expression that Jeongguk is confused. It's only food.
"Are you sure?" The boy says, as he hesitantly grabs the offered snack.
Jeongguk nods and pushes it into the boy's hands as he zips up his bag. He is about to walk away, but then suddenly turns back to look at the boy, who has his eyebrows scrunched up and gaze transfixed on the small snack pack.
"It's unfair you know my name, but I don't know yours," Jeongguk voices out, his quiet voice cutting through the wind that wooshes by.
The older boy eyes him for a moment, and Jeongguk doesn't move, letting the boy satisfy his curiosity. They can hear the student chattering quietly, the voices slowly fading out as they go back to their classes. Jeongguk wants to move, but his feet stay rooted on the spot. He had always been a curious child and this time is no exception. Besides, he is probably already late for maths. Jeongguk is brought out of his musings when the older finally speaks.
"Taehyung," He raises the snack pack, his eyes sparkling, and adds, "I hope we can be friends."
Jeongguk doesn't say anything when he turns away and walks back to his class. The encounter has left him a little baffled and curious, his thoughts all over the place. He does his maths sums and goes through his day normally, hangs out in a different spot when the bell rings for lunch, and goes home with the lingering memory of Taehyung that slowly fades away by the time he is tucked into bed. Maybe some things happen because of chance, not because it has any significance. Jeongguk will welcome that little bump in the road.
It's not until the next day that he finds out that Taehyung wasn't just a bump in the road but rather a whole damned road construction.
"You weren't there yesterday, during our lunch break," Taehyung eyes him again, his eyes holding the same curiosity as they did yesterday, before coming to his side with long strides.
The boy easily towers over Jeongguk, his height and age playing an impressive factor for him, in comparison to the younger boy who is already short. He is easily a head taller than Jeongguk and Jeongguk tries to not let it intimidate him.
"I have a different place for lunch." Jeongguk grips the lunch bag by his side before pulling it to his lap to zip it open.
Taehyung is quiet as he moves wordlessly, opening his own bag. Jeongguk, who just can't help but watch him out of the corner of his eye, spots a lone sandwich, a small (pitiful) tupperware and a water bottle. He takes note of how Taehyung's shoulders drop, how his back hunches and his lips press into a thin firm line.
He opens his lunchbox and plucks an egg roll out of the heaping dishes piled in it. He gets a few vegetables too, and some bites of small side-dishes his mother had prepared. He sets the food on the cover of his lunchbox and hands it to Taehyung who looks at him in surprise.
"I can't accept that," Taehyung shakes his head but Jeongguk ignores it, placing the cover on Taehyung's lap gently, ignoring his protests.
"Thank you, Jeongguk." He says when the younger turns away and begins eating.
They are silent for a moment before Taehyung speaks,
"My friends are assholes," He starts off and Jeongguk jerks in surprise at the strong language. "They said you were weird, and wanted me to befriend you to make a point."
Jeongguk's movements halt as he tilts his head and asks,
"Well, are you here to prove a point?"
He watches Taehyung but the other's expression is open, honest. Maybe, he doesn't have a basis for judgement yet, but Taehyung is here, right? Telling him the truth when he could have lied or just omitted information and Jungkook wouldn't have known any better.
"I left them," Taehyung says simply. "Wanted to do that for a long time now, I just don't have anyone. I'm sorry if I came off as weird."
Jeongguk is quick to deny it, even though he himself had thought the boy was weird at first. "No, it's," He thinks for a second. "It's okay." He finds himself saying.
When Taehyung brightens, he outshines the sun.
As the days pass by them in a blink of an eye, they are quickly known as Taehyung and Jeongguk. Jeongguk makes friends throughout the year but there's one place, one person he keeps coming back to. Months fly by quickly, and Jeongguk still brings extra food in his lunchbox for him and Taehyung to share – it becomes a habit for them, their own gesture. Taehyung, in return, brings fruit as a "compensation" for his mother's hard work but Jeongguk only giggles at his silliness. He still eats the fresh strawberries and melon Taehyung brings everyday though, and enjoys the comfort he finds only in the older.
Before they know it, school ends. Taehyung graduates from primary school and Jeongguk still has a year left behind. They try to make the most out of summer, but the younger can't help but feel the fear seeping in when the days they spend together start to feel numbered.
Today, he's sitting on the same bench he and Taehyung used to share, but he's alone on the first day of school as a 6th grader. Today, he wonders if Taehyung would come visit him from the next building, just to see him. Even though his fear seems unnecessary and blown out of proportion, he can't help it. It's not being left behind that's scary. It's the feeling that accompanies it, the ugly crushing hurt and loneliness. He doesn't want to like (is that how he would describe how he felt towards Taehyung?), only to lose his company in the end. That's scary.
Jeongguk stares at the pathway hopefully a few more minutes but there's no bouncing figure, no brilliant smile. He sighs, the hope in him flickering out. He stares at the seesaw and idly kicks his legs.
"Jeongguk!" At the familiar voice, his heart melts and his head jerks instinctively towards the sound of his name. He looks up and his knees almost knock his lunch over in relief.
"Taehyungie hyung," Jeongguk can't help but smile brilliantly.
"You know I'm not allowed here anymore," Taehyung jokes and momentarily, Jeongguk's face falls. It doesn't go unnoticed by the older, even if Jeongguk tries to smile back. "I'm joking . C'mon, let's go somewhere else."
"But," The words die on his lips before he whispers, "This is our spot." Jeongguk lowers his gaze to his food, his appetite suddenly gone, as well as the hope that he had been clinging to, that maybe, things won't change much.
"Guk-ah," Taehyung sits beside him but he doesn't bother looking up. "Hey, it's not like I want to leave this place, but I really don't want to get caught right now."
Jeongguk sulks, wondering if he should stay stubborn or just to suck it up.
"Jeongguk," Taehyung gently pushes the side of his cheek to make Jeongguk look at him and when they lock gazes, the familiar brown eyes are fixed on his, sure and unwavering in their determination. "I hope you know that wherever I go, I'll take you with me, because it's us together that matters, not the place."
He feels the same – and that is the only reason he agrees. The only reason why he fixes his things, grips his bag in one hand and interlocks his fingers with Taehyung's with the other. That's the thing they do nowadays – holding hands, and for some reason, Jeongguk feels a little shy.
They find a spot, somewhere at the back of the school. Taehyung says he stumbled upon it when he got lost on the way to the high school department. They find a spot and Jeongguk, at the tender age of 11, realizes why some things need to change.
Jeongguk thinks that if things didn't change he wouldn't have found Taehyung in the first place.
At that moment, as he watches Taehyung chatter about all the new experiences and subjects, he finds at least ten things beautiful about his best friend. And it strikes him at that moment, that Jeongguk sees Taehyung not only as his best friend, but also a home to come back to, a source of comfort he knows is always there.
A safe haven – his best friend but more, so much more.
It's the one person who knows you better than anyone else.
Jeongguk, at age sixteen, feels the angriest he's ever been in all of the years he's been alive. He's in his last year of high school (he had skipped a year when he was in his first year of high school.) It wasn't an easy feat, his family knows that, Taehyung certainly knows that. So he doesn't know why he gets worked up by someone who is barely older than him, when they work together for a school project. He doesn't know why he lets those words affect him.
But he does know that his fists clench in anger when he holds the board for the project. He knows that although the semi-thick paper is strong and sturdy, Jeongguk's anger might squish it. And squish it does, as it slowly crumples in his hold, the edges creasing and tearing, his hard working slowly falling apart bit by bit. All his hard work, crumpling in his hands.
He knows that in his anger, the concern for grades took a back seat. He does know that, but it all becomes distant as he walks up to Hyunbin and shoves the papers in his face.
His emotions are all over the place, half of him is resigned and tired, but the other half is fuming.
"You didn't even even spend half a second on that project, and you have the nerve to complain to our teacher about how unfair I was?" Jeongguk's voice raises in pitch until he's almost screaming.
And he doesn't even register it.
"I didn't spend three days slaving away for a fucking paired project—" Jeongguk practically spits in the boy's face whose eyes widens in shock. He knows Hyunbin isn't scared, but he also knows that he didn't expect Jeon Jeongguk to stand against him, much less start cursing in front of the class. "—for you to act like you're victimized!" He exclaims. The older looks furious and steps forward, punching him in the face. He feels surprised because he didn't think Hyunbin would be that shameless.
He almost falls backward at the sudden impact on his cheek, but the anger keeps him on his toes. It's chaos; the teacher is screaming words that are incoherent to his ears, he sees students making their way to the cafeteria outside the classroom, some standing and watching the commotion with wide eyes (it's the period before lunch and some classes get dismissed early). Jeongguk's shock has him rooted on the spot for one second before he's walking towards Hyunbin again, his chest heaving in frustration, in embarrassment . He pulls his arm back but then someone clamps their fingers on his wrist and refuses to let go.
He has half a mind to punch the other person with his free hand, but his fist quickly unclenches and he almost shrinks at the familiar eyes that gaze back at him. Taehyung clicks his tongue, his face scrunched in disappointment and Jeongguk feels ashamed.
It's as if for a moment, the chaos around them fades away. Jeongguk is frozen, as are the other figures watching the spectacle unfold in front of them. Taehyung turns his gaze to Hyunbin and calmly walks towards him, his steps light and measured. Everyone gasps in shock when the calm and collected figure pulls his own arm back and lets his fist collide against Hyunbin's face. The sound of knuckles cracking against bone is ugly and it's like Jeongguk is shocked awake.
Panic floods Jeongguk's mind but Taehyung is faster, pulling him away from the scene and running from the furious calls of their teachers. They are in their last year, and Jeongguk knows this won't look pretty in their records. One more strike and his grades could go tumbling down but at this moment, he wonders if it is still worth it. If he still fears it.
They go to their usual spot and thankfully, no one's there. Even if there are only 2 or 3 people besides them who know about it, Jeongguk wants the silence and privacy. He can't face more embarrassment and drag Taehyung down with him. The latter glances at him and makes a move to pull his hand away but Jeongguk only holds it tighter. He admits that some part of him is still selfish of wanting to keep Taehyung close.
He turns Taehyung's palm over and sees red staining Taehyung's knuckles.
"Shit, fuck, uhh... is it broken?" Jeongguk gingerly pokes the bruise with his finger and watches if Taehyung would react. The other seems amused until he adds a little more pressure and Taehyung flinches.
"Sorry, sorry," Jeongguk, without thinking, brings Taehyung's fist to his lips and plants a small kiss on the knuckles. They find each other's gaze and suddenly, they both don't move. "Sorry," Jeongguk whispers but Taehyung only reaches over to ruffle his hair before his hand wraps snugly around his nape and pulls him closer until they're hugging.
Jeongguk inhales the familiar scent of detergent on Taehyung's uniform and clenches his eyes shut to stop the stinging in his eyes . Taehyung squeezes his hand gently, opens his palm against his until it's Jeongguk's fist enclosed in Taehyung's hold. He buries his face into the older's neck, wraps a loose arm around his waist and cries.
With his other hand, Taehyung pats his back and whispers soft reassurances, "I know Guk, I know."
The frustration, the pressure, everything comes pouring out and, and Jeongguk wonders if there’s anything he could truly hide from the older.
It's someone who makes you a better person.
Taehyung's thigh bounces with excitement and he doesn't try to hide it, a wide smile on his face. Jeongguk is waiting by the side of the stage, face in his hands to avoid looking at his family and someone else whose name starts with a T. Since he belonged in a different class, Class 4-A, so he has to go first, before his best friend. The said best friend promised to scream bloody murder when it will be his turn and he briefly wonders whether the boy would go through his promise or not. Some part of him wants the attention and love, but a small part tells him that he doesn't deserve it.
He doesn't deserve Taehyung.
"Jeon Jeongguk, Class 4-A," They call him up to the stage, listing his achievements. Jeongguk drowns them out because one, it's too embarrassing to hear and two, Taehyung does scream.
And when he goes up the stage, he gives the older a small shake of the head to cut it out but Taehyung's still standing, hands now clasped in front of his chest and looking so proud , that Jeongguk's heart stutters and melts. His little glare doesn't last long because he's guilty of being soft towards Taehyung. It's a miracle he doesn't trip.
When he finally grasps his high-school diploma at the age of seventeen, Jeongguk almost drops it because it suddenly hits him. He finished high-school and survived. But most importantly, (Jeongguk races towards the stage and tries not to make it obvious when he misses his seat to throw his arms around Taehyung) it's been 7 years since he met Taehyung.
—actually they don't make you a better person, you do that yourself.
After the ceremony, he can feel his throat getting sore due to all the screaming he did with his classmates and friends. Taehyung has excused himself from Jeongguk's family to meet his own who lost themselves somewhere in the crowd.
"You love him." His father says when he notices the way Jeongguk's gaze follows Taehyung's figure even after it disappears in the crowd.
"No need to point out the obvious," His mother laughs and Jeongguk looks at them.
"Yah, can you guys stop teasing us for once." Jeongguk pouts and opens his mouth to say more, but his father gestures to something with a slight jerk of his head.
"Yah, Jeongguk-ah, isn't that the boy you got into a fight with, months ago?"
He turns around and sure enough, it's Hyunbin. Jeongguk excuses himself and walks to the boy with slow steps and taps his shoulder lightly. His classmate displays a look of confusion when he turns around to see him (they were never partnered for anything again for the whole year and served 2 months worth of school service).
He tries to smile but it probably looks more of a grimace, "Hey, Hyunbin-ssi…"
The boy fully faces him and nods, "What's up?" He looks at the diploma in Jeongguk's hand and all the awards that hang around his neck, "Congrats."
"Erm, thank you," Jeongguk shifts the diploma to his other hand and hides it behind his body instinctively."But that's not what I'm here for."
Hyunbin looks at him, a little weirded out but waits for him to speak. He is different now, seeming more calm and collected. Jeongguk knows he himself needs some growing up to do. They all do.
"I'm here to apologize. It's late and I'm sorry for that but I'm sorry because I shouldn't have lost my cool." He finally breathes out and offers a hand.
Hyunbin shakes it, a small grin on his face. "It's okay, I'm the one at fault. It's really amazing you graduated at seventeen, Jeongguk."
He laughs, bashfully bringing up his hand to the back of his neck. "Oh and sorry for – you know, the punch ."
The older dismisses it, "It's fine, I'm sorry for my punch. Besides, you weren't even the one who punched me." His look turns thoughtful. "Kim really does love you, huh? It's a miracle you guys aren't soulmates."
And there it is. The first time it actually ever strucks Jeongguk, the first time it actually makes him think . He takes a deep breath, shakes it off and looks back to check if his parents are still there. Taehyung, along with his own parents, is chatting with the Jeons. He briefly locks gazes with the older who easily finds him in the crowd and points to his wrist. It's a signal for him to hurry up and Jeongguk holds back his smile. He turns back to Hyunbin.
—because they inspire you
"No we aren't soulmates but he's...he's home." Jeongguk says without thinking and excuses himself with a blush, but it's only when Hyunbin smiles and excuses himself, does Jeongguk find out he means it.
"Jeongguk-ah!" Taehyung shouts as Jeongguk starts to walk towards him.
He doesn't hold back his smile this time.
His steps become urgent, his strides become faster until he's running, running towards Taehyung and jumps into the open arms that are held out for him. They jump around like the kids they used to be, and Taehyung pulls him closer by gripping his shoulders and winding his hands around Jeongguk's neck.
"We did it, Jeongguk-ah."
A soulmate is someone who you can carry with you forever.
It's a long time isn't it? Jeongguk stares at the name on his arm before he looks at Taehyung who hums mindlessly, eyes never leaving the road. Jeongguk swallows a lump that gets caught in his throat and looks out of the window instead. Jeongguk has never tried to look at Taehyung's arm nor did he ask about the name he knows is there. There wasn't a time Jeongguk could remember, where they just sat down and talked with one another about their future. Did Taehyung even see a future with him? Jeongguk doesn't know and he's scared to know.
Stupid Hyunbin, stupid soulmates, stupid Taehyung and stupid Kim Namjoon.
He doesn't even know who he is. Jeongguk thinks about the unknown person with bitter resentment, but deep down, he knows that this isn't Kim Namjoon's fault. He stares at the sky and it mocks him with its clear forecast. Should he blame the universe instead?
The car stops, and he only notices it because the sky is no longer blue, and his view is blocked by palm tree leaves. The car gives one final jerk as it stops, and when he looks in front of him, there's a beach laid out at a distance, an endless body of water for them to explore and a horizon to watch during sunsets. Jeongguk stares at it some more and doesn't register as the door on the driver's side opens."Are you going to stare like a child some more, or are you going to help me unpack?" Taehyung says teasingly, voice fading away as he makes his way towards the back after pulling the gear that opens the trunk.
He scowls, sliding his thumb to unlock the door to follow him. "Just because you can drive, doesn't mean you're not less of a child than I am, Taehyungie-hyung."
"Hey," Taehyung says with a wink, dumping two towels and 2 backpacks in his awaiting arms and grabbing the cooler and trolley himself. "It's summer, I'm making the most of it."
Jeongguk rolls his eyes, shoving him slightly as he looks inside the trunk to double check if there's anything left behind. Taehyung closes it and they make their way towards the empty hut by the beachside.
"Hyung?" Jeongguk asks, as he kicks sand towards Taehyung's calves.
The older doesn't seem to mind and sets their things down as they arrive. Jeongguk collapses on the seat and another whine leaves his lips.
"Yes, Jeonggukie?" Taehyung starts to get food from the trolley and opens one Tupperware at a time. He places the chopsticks on their respective sides and sits down pouring the drinks in their plastic cups.
"Are we going to do this again?" Jeongguk asks, reaching for the chopsticks but his eyes never leave Taehyung's face, who only looks up to him and nods.
"Of course, and when you're old enough to drive, I'll be a pain in the ass too." He replies cheekily.
Jeongguk makes a face, ducking his head and mutters,
Taehyung gives him a look and points at him with his chopstick, "We'll do this forever if you want to."
For Taehyung, it probably means nothing, merely saying the words Jeongguk regards as a promise. But then again, he never knows. Taehyung, until now, was a hard person to figure out. Unlike him, who doesn't interact much with anyone and yet still wears his heart out on his sleeve, Taehyung is the opposite. He's friendly, he's kind, he's caring and loud but Taehyung is an enigma. Taehyung is guarded. Jeongguk has learned to read him over the years, but he is still unsure about what Taehyung could mean sometimes. Taehyung is a private person and Jeongguk is glad to be one of the few that the older trusts. Jeongguk has had his fair share of being on the receiving end of some mental breakdowns.
"Jeongguk?" Taehyung calls his name, and it pulls him away from his thoughts. "You okay?"
Jeongguk hums, "Fine, hyung."
They unpack quickly and go out to sit on the beautiful shore. They arrived a little too late to swim, as the wind has picked up its breeze and the sun, despite being warm, doesn't help much. Taehyung blames the younger for waking up late and being lazy.
Jeongguk's shorts are wet from the damp sand and the waves, that are strong enough to touch their feet now. Maybe the sea's anger is receding, maybe the ocean is calming down. But then again, Jeongguk thinks, the ocean is never calm. Jeongguk brings his knees to his chest and, exhales,
"Hyung, what's a soulmate?"
Taehyung's gaze, that was set firmly on the setting sun, snaps towards Jeongguk.
"Are you serious? We already learned this." Taehyung speaks slowly.
Jeongguk shrugs and meets his gaze. There's an unspoken addendum to the question,
What's a soulmate...for you.
Taehyung hesitates, thinking. He pauses and then starts to speak. Jeongguk notices the way Taehyung traces the name on his arm even if the elder doesn't realize what he is doing. Jeongguk looks away and doesn't want to know the name.
It's the one person who knows you and accepts you.
It wasn't supposed to feel like this.
Surely, it isn't – it wasn't, Jeongguk shuts his eyes and follows the pull. With a cup of coffee in his hand, he walks through the cafe, feeling dazed. He looks over at each table, his heart pounding. Everyone's typing on their phones, looking at their laptops, or just talking. There's no way a person can't feel the pull, when it's this strong. And then there's this one table in the middle, there's this guy moving to stand up, but Jeongguk is already in front of him.
His gaze is steely as he clutches the cup too hard, his hand burning from the heat of the uncovered side of the cup holder. Jeongguk stares at this person, and the guy looks up, eyes meeting, their hearts pounding in sync.
He feels the itch, he feels the pin and needles on his arm and winces as he takes a glance at the name. Kim Namjoon, now inked by the colors of the rainbow. If he felt jealous before by the beautiful colors on his mother's arm, he doesn't now.
But it's fulfilling.
He wants to hate it.
"Jeon Jeongguk," The guy says softly, and his heart thumps dangerously loud in his chest. "Nice to meet you."
He takes a seat and greets him in the same manner. Jeongguk is a bit taken aback by the stutter in his own words.
"Yo-you're him." He stutters, placing the cup of coffee on the table because he's afraid of the sudden weakness he feels. He's afraid he'll suddenly let it go and it'll come crashing to the ground. He's afraid that he may not be even thinking about the cup of coffee anymore.
"Kim Namjoon...right?" The way he traces Namjoon's features with his eyes is hesitant.
The other boy's eyes are soft around the edges and they crinkle with acknowledgement. And oh my god, is that a dimple? He doesn't understand why Kim Namjoon is smiling. He isn't supposed to smile at Jeongguk – hell he wouldn't smile at Jeongguk if he knew that the freshman would like nothing more but to bolt out from the cafe. But he stays seated anyway, the pull stronger than his will.
"Right," Namjoon chuckles, demeanor calm and collected, voice smooth, but his hands are shaking, Jeongguk notices as the other hides his hands beneath the table, "I'm Kim Namjoon, 20 years old and I major in chemical engineering."
Jeon Jeongguk , he wants to say but the words won't come out from his mouth and instead, he’s standing up. He’s suddenly sprinting towards the door, his palms barely touching the handle when he hears someone behind him exclaim,
But he’s pushing the door open, running away no matter what the force inside of him tries to tell him, no matter what the universe tries to tell him. He racks his brain for the information that his mind had stored when they had exams about soulmates. But they only had classes for that in the second and third year, so absolutely nothing comes up. Jeongguk breathes heavily as he turns around the block, pushes the door open of their dorm building and goes up the numerous flights of stairs. Every second it takes for him to get to their shared dorm makes his skin prickle.
“Oh, you’re back - wait, don’t you have classes?” Taehyung has his head resting on the seat of the couch as his toes greet Jeongguk from the doorway. The older lifts his head in question and Jeongguk pushes the door close.
Inhaling, he collapses in front of the couch and he’s suddenly crying . Taehyung blinks before a look of panic overtakes his features, and he sits up hurriedly.
“What happened?” The urgency and concern is obvious in his tone. And when his shoulders start to shake, the older gently pulls him in a hug, until his tears wet the shoulder of Taehyung’s hoodie. The latter is unbothered, pulling away a few times to wipe the tears from his cheek with a sweep of his thumb. “Jeongguk, it’s okay. It’s okay .”
It's impossible to hide it from Taehyung, after all.
“I r-ran away,” Jeongguk hiccups, and in his eyes, Taehyung looks beautiful even if his face is blurred because of the tears.
And somewhere along the way, the two different meanings of love had blurred. Jeongguk is scared. He looks at Taehyung and sees everything he has ever wanted. He looks at the name on his arm and thinks it might be something he never knew he needed. Taehyung whispers sweet reassurances in his ear, hadn’t stopped rubbing his back since he came through the door, and Jeongguk finds the strength in him to stand up and go for a shower.
The older doesn’t stop him, but he does say,
“I’ll be right here Gukkie, just here.”
And it weakens his knees even more and how he manages to get to the bathroom without collapsing into heaps of sobs, is beyond him. He lets the shower run but he doesn’t step under the water yet. Jeongguk breathes in and out for a few times before he lets the hot stream of water spray his back. He’s ashamed of himself because it doesn’t fade. His feelings don’t fade and it’s frustrating. Jeongguk stares at the soulmate mark he’s furiously rubbing off under the massive soap suds. It doesn't fade away either, not unlike the love he feels for someone, even after meeting his soulmate.
—and believed in you before anyone else did or when no one else would
Jeongguk turns his body away from the door. He knows Taehyung would be watching him. Jeongguk closes his eyes and holds his pillow close, tears slowly falling down and soaking the soft fabric. When his poor attempts to muffle his crying stop, his body takes over, the exhaustion and weakness carrying him to sleep. His ragged unstable breaths slowly become soft and steady. Jeongguk hears the door creak open as if it's in a distant dream.
"You'll figure it out. I'll be here. I love you."
And no matter what happens, you'll always love them and nothing could change that.
"Hey, hyung?" One night, Jeongguk finds the courage to crawl up to Taehyung's bed, and asks, "Did you meet yours?"
In the dark, Jeongguk can't see Taehyung's expression but he can feel the arm that wounds around his head. He soon gets comfortable by Taehyung's side, the older's arm placed under him (he knows both of them would pay later with a stiff neck and a numb arm but they can't find it in themselves to care.
It was an exhausting day.
"Not yet, Jeonggukie," Taehyung's voice is scratchy with sleep but he doesn't mind answering Jeongguk. He never did. "But you will be the first one to know."
Namjoon's face crosses his mind and for a second he feels guilty. Jeongguk throws an arm around Taehyung's waist and pulls him closer. It's good that it's dark because he doesn't want Taehyung to see the expression on his face. Inhaling the familiar scent he finally asks,
"What's his name hyung?"
Jeongguk doesn't have many fears.
This is an exemption.
"Jeon Jeongguk," He introduces himself for the second time the following week. It's funny how fate works, it's almost as if it's there to mock them. He thrusts his hand out and the man in front of him shakes it enthusiastically. He just can’t find it in his heart to hate Park Jimin. "Physiotherapy, first year."
"Oh my gosh!" Jimin is bubbly and has crescents for eyes. It's odd, the way it matches Taehyung's unique boxy smile, which sometimes transforms in the shape of a heart. "I'm doing Physical Therapy, how come have we never met?"
Jeongguk sees Taehyung out of the corner of his eye, watching the two as if he is watching a tennis match. He musters a small smile, "Must've been fate. It sucks."
Jimin's happy persona disappears completely in a second. He shifts under Taehyung's soulmate stare. The soulmate Jeongguk wished had never come.
"Fate is nonsense," Jimin waves his hand, a smile slowly weaving through his face again but this time it doesn't seem happy. It's more intimidating, as if urging him to agree. "Must've been the schedule , Jeongguk-ssi."
There's a beat of silence and Taehyung slowly picks up his frappe to slurp loudly without shame. Jeongguk clears his throat.
"Just Jeongguk is fine."
And just like that, Jimin lights up again and starts to talk animatedly and Taehyung eventually puts down his cup to join the conversation. Jeongguk watches them and there's a smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes but still – it's genuine nonetheless. Jimin sometimes takes the initiative to include him but Taehyung...he looks at Jeongguk once or twice and it makes his heart twist, crack and then break.
He's being pushed to the side and maybe, he'll have to accept that. He is first. No, he was first. Maybe he'll always be the first at something for Taehyung but for a soulmate, he will never be.
That's why as soon as his classes end, he makes it a personal mission to find his own 'other half'. Jeongguk does this even when he feels like his body is too heavy to move and his feet weigh a thousand tons. Jeongguk does this even when it feels wrong and he feels guilty about it but he can't stop it either way, can he?
He's gone as far to search for Kim Namjoon in each room of the Science Department, and this is borderline desperate. His phone beeps in his pocket and he stops half a second to check who messaged him.
When are you going home?
Your classes ended right?
I wanna binge watch random movies on netflix ㅠㅠ
Where the fuck are you
His thumb hovers over the keyboard as he bites his lower lip, wondering if he should tell Taehyung the truth. Oh, I'm just trying to find my soulmate, lol sorry can't make it. How eloquent and asshole-y of him if he does do that so he shakes his head and instead moves his thumb over the power button at the side.
"Jeongguk-ssi?" He almost jumps a feet into the air at the sudden mention of his name, his phone forgotten.
"Namjoon-ssi?" Jeongguk says incredulously, as he slips the phone back into his pocket. He wipes his palms flat on his jeans, suddenly sweating nervously.
The older carries a fairly sized backpack and holds two or three books in his arms. Jeongguk is fairly certain he sees a scientific calculator, but he is not sure. Namjoon is wearing glasses this time, and Jeongguk stares at them for a little longer than he should.
"Jeongguk?" Namjoon's voice softens and he steps forward, closing the distance between them.
"Oh, uh, yeah, it's funny, I was actually looking for you. Um, yeah. It's funny how fate works," Jeongguk almost slaps a hand over his mouth.
He half expects the sophomore to reply the same way Jimin did, sceptical of the workings of fate. But instead there's an amused glint in the older's eyes as he leans back.
"Yeah, funny," Namjoon begins to walk to who-knows-where and Jeongguk, dumbfoundedly finds himself falling into pace with him. "You do know that I kind of feel it when you're near, right?"
"Right." Jeongguk doesn't feel his mouth twisting in a funny way, because Namjoon barks out a laugh.
And it isn't Taehyung's laugh but...it's calming all the same. The way he throws his head back slightly and his body shakes when he chuckles, Jeongguk feels himself relaxing in Namjoon's presence.
"Man, you don't know anything about soulmates, do you?" Namjoon's eyes crinkles the same way it did the first time Jeongguk saw him, but his smile is wider now.
"I got a 98 when I was in second year." He says automatically in defense, but then sighs and shrugs, "Okay, maybe just textbook stuff."
Namjoon beams at him and nods, "Good. That's what I'm good at, too." There's a tinge of pink in his cheeks when he continues, "Do you, maybe, want to hang out with me at the cafe?"
Jeongguk furrows his eyebrows and finally looks where they're going and it sinks in that, yeah, they are going to the wretched cafe Jeongguk ran away from and definitely not where he met Jimin (that is way across campus). He'd been avoiding that cafe all week and he almost pales at the sight of it. He almost threw a fit when Taehyung had suggested going to the cafe and Jeongguk had sworn he wouldn't go back, but guess fate works in mysterious ways.
"Or do you have somewhere else to be?" The way Namjoon stops, the look on his face is considerate, and Jeongguk's no just doesn't roll out of his tongue. "It's okay, Jeongguk."
There it is again. That phrase that makes him want to tear his hair out. It isn't okay and it's the only reason why he shakes his head,
"No, I don't. I-I'll come." Namjoon stares at him in a calculating manner and if he notices the stumble on his words, he keeps it to himself.
Jeongguk tries not to palm the phone in his pocket that suddenly feels too hot and heavy.
He breathes a sigh of relief when the sophomore looks away and hums, "Okay."
Finally, the bright lights of the cafe can be seen from the distance and when they step inside, the cool air of the AC greets them.
Jeongguk mumbles, "I'll get a table. I don't...want anything."
"You sure?" He spares Jeongguk a sideways glance but mutely nods when Jeongguk moves aside to grab a seat.
It isn't too crowded this time, nor does it exude the atmosphere of bubbly college students. Quite the opposite actually, students are on their own, some facing their books or laptops, others just holding their cups, looking exhausted. Jeongguk empathizes with them as he finds the familiar middle table and drops to sit down, ironically the same place he had previously met Namjoon. Namjoon soon joins him, apologizing for keeping him waiting and Jeongguk reassures him that it's fine. It's the small moments like these that gives Jeongguk his first verdict, his judgement and basis of character.
Namjoon is kind . Too kind.
They talk about small trivial things and gradually, the conversation becomes a little debate. Jeongguk, who knows he has a habit of being stubborn and competitive due to his ingrained survival skill in high school, finds Namjoon countering his argument with equal parts stubborn and yet a calm voice that makes him slump in his seat and accept defeat.
Namjoon is smart, he figures that right off the bat (the older does carry a scientific calculator, but only because he also tutors .)
"You should answer whoever keeps texting you." Namjoon says with a level tone, a little lilt of curiosity hidden within.
Jeongguk eyes his pocket helplessly and inwardly thinks, fine . He takes it out, glances at the screen and places it screen-down on the table . He looks at Namjoon and apologizes,
"Sorry, that was my best friend."
Namjoon ignores it though, smiles behind his cup, the small wisps of smoke making his eyeglasses mist up. Jeongguk laughs and comments on it and just like that, they resume their conversation.
Hey Tae, sorry for the late reply
I'm out with Namjoon
Sorry can't watch movies with you
I'll be out late
Don't wait up
"Oooh, the nerve ," Jimin growls, his face blurry on his phone screen.
Taehyung flops on his bed, "Calm down, it's his soulmate, let him be." He flicks off the hair in front of his eyes and sighs.
He goes to his messages, Jimin's face moving automatically to the right side of his phone. He scrolls back and forth at the onslaught of messages he sent, comparing them to the – forgive his use of word – dry ass messages Jeongguk sent back.
Hey are u like
Gonna ever repkly
Anywayyy text me back when you're free?
It's boring here you know.
At this point I'm only spamming you.
Hey Tae, sorry for the late reply
I'm out with Namjoon
Sorry can't watch those movies with you
I'll be out late
Don't wait up
Love you too.
Jimin frowns, "You know, even through the shitty quality of this video call, I can see your bleary eyed face and you're a second away from tearing up."
"Please," Taehyung snorts. "It's not – we're not like that." He sits up and leans against the headboard. He squints. "Park Jimin are you in the bathroom ?"
"I'm taking a dump." He grunts and Taehyung shakes his head in disbelief when the phone is angled towards the yellow light of what seems to be his dorm's bathroom.
He crinkles his nose even when he can't smell any of the foul odor that is surely coming out of his soulmate . "I have known you for like what – five days at most and I think we're getting too comfortable."
There's a flush and the sound of running water before the phone is being picked up again. Taehyung crosses his legs and takes this time to scroll through his twitter feed, forcefully wrenching his eyes away from the message app. Jimin's chin greets him from above and he gets dizzy just by watching the other walk, the little video bobbing like crazy.
"We're soulmates, I feel what you feel, we can't get more comfortable than that!" Jimin says, now sitting on his own bed, the light still on compared to Taehyung whose face is only illuminated by his screen's brightness.
("You sleep at what-o-clock ? At 9? ")
He can't help but giggle as he yawns at Jimin's faux bubbly behavior. It's his way of sarcasm and he absolutely loves it.
"You're sleepy Tae, you should go to bed."
"I am in bed."
" I'm the sarcastic one, you shithead." Jimin sounds irritated, but he knows that the other isn't really feeling that way because soulmates (the only explanation ever.)
"Yeah yeah, I'm just gonna wait for Jeonggukie." Taehyung says quietly, pulling the covers up to his chin, covering the lower half of his face and posing a V with his fingers.
Jimin rolls his eyes, the phone moving again as he repositions himself, "Acting cute won't change a thing, Taehyung-ah. You're sleepy, and Jeongguk can go to hell."
That isn't a good choice of words because Jimin's retracting his statement before Taehyung can even comment on it.
"Sorry, sorry," He stares at Taehyung. "You know that you do love him, right?"
The dark look on his face disappears and instead is replaced by a firm one, "Of course."
"No, as in the other way."
"I don't...know." His features contort to a look of confusion and it makes Jimin click his tongue.
"Taehyung," His voice becomes hesitant but at the same time, a blanket of warmth for Taehyung, but the warmth disappears as he speaks next. "You know I won't pursue you right?" His tone is gentle.
"Wait why?" Taehyung's eyes widens but somehow his heart doesn't seem shocked. His hands do not shake, he doesn't weaken in rejection because it's not it .
Jimin only smiles, "We both know it isn't like that."
He wants to argue but the phone falls from his hands and onto the duvet, his eyes flutter shut, betraying him as he succumbs to sleep.
It's not like that .
Jeongguk tiptoes his way to Taehyung's room, carefully opening the door, afraid it would creak and make the older wake up from his sleep. Taehyung's a light sleeper when it comes to noises, his ears quite sensitive. He contemplates whether he should go in or not but his feet are already moving before he can stop himself. Jeongguk crouches down and places a kiss on the other's forehead and brushes the hair out of his face.
"Goodnight, hyung." He pauses. "I love you so much." And it's below a whisper.
He goes to his own room, silently praying that Taehyung didn't hear him.
"Cats or dogs?"
"Crabs." Namjoon says, without blinking.
Jeongguk stares right back at him. "Seriously?"
Namjoon laughs, "Yes, seriously."
They are on their way to the science department, had planned to split ways when they're near their designated rooms seeing that they both have different classes. Jeongguk was the one that suggested through text that they should try walking together to class and had admitted that he actually enjoyed his company last night. Namjoon agreed, which led him to now.
"I'd love to keep the conversation going but unfortunately, I'm here." Namjoon points a thumb to the building and adjusts his bag strap. "You're still down a few blocks, right?"
Jeongguk hums, "Yeah, it's fine. Thanks for, you know, walking with me. Usually it'd be my best friend but," Jeongguk stops and leaves it at that.
Namjoon smiles, the same smile Jeongguk has always seen on him but there's something more there now, that he can't figure out. Jeongguk takes it with a grain of salt. "It's nothing." His smiles and waves goodbye, making Jeongguk smile back, oddly brightening his morning. "But will I ever meet that best friend of yours that you talk often about?"
Jeongguk stiffens and his smile falters. "Maybe." He settles on answering. "I'll ask him." And the moment Namjoon lips widens and the words leave his mouth, he regrets it. "I'll text you." It comes out more of a squeak.
"Looking forward to it." The guilt comes after.
I didn't wake you up since you have classes later
I'm assuming you're up now right?
You left without telling me
You walked to your class without me?
Yeah I thought that I shouldn't bother you
But you hate walking alone
And you know it doesn't bother me.
Anyways, what's happening?
That doesn't work on me.
Namjoon wants to talk to you.
I mean he wants to meet you bc yknow
You're my best friend lol
You guys close now or what?
What does that mean??
Thought you hated him or smth
Hate him? Lol I don't
He's my soulmate sure as hell won't reject him
Well sure as hell looked like that
I'm free later. You know that.
Tf are you on about
And no, mi casa
See u at 3.
Ok love u
Jimin struts into the room, looking ready for a party. Taehyung barely looks up from the sofa. Jimin frowns at the lack of attention and kicks the brunette's side with his foot as the door closes behind him.
"Ouch!" Taehyung howls, glaring at Jimin, who has his eyebrows raised at him, unimpressed.
"You're wearing that ?" Jimin asks, as Taehyung sits up, rubbing his waist, making space for his soulmate who drops down to sit next to him.
"What's wrong with it?" Taehyung frowns, snatching the drink from Jimin's hand, his features twisting in a scowl when he realizes it's latte (yuck, coffee.) "Jesus," He gags, giving it back to Jimin who sips it calmly. "Nothing could go wrong with baggy pants and shirts, but that thing," Taehyung points to the cup, "is so wrong in so many ways."
"I can feel your disgust, please hold it in." Jimin scrunches his nose and makes exaggerated movements with his fingers. "It's releasing these bad vibes in waves."
Taehyung pinches his side, enough to hurt but not too hard to bruise. Jimin yelps and almost drops his drink.
"Your look is giving me bad vibes."
"Hate me, cause you ain't me." Jimin downs the cup in one go and settles it on the table in front of the couch. "But seriously, we're going in that? Not that you don't look nice because you do, but not the best you can pull off, to be honest, babe." Jimin is unbearably honest, but it doesn't faze him.
It's comfortable, sue him. "It's fine." Taehyung says defensively, rubbing his white shirt as if it were hurt. Jimin's eye roll doesn't go unnoticed as his smack doesn't go undodged.
"Fine then, let's go." Jimin picks his cup and disappears in the kitchen to throw it away, as Taehyung grabs the spare emergency key to the dorm.
They're walking down the hall when he voices out, "Jeonggukie won't mind."
Jimin's humming an unfamiliar song and it suddenly stops. He also misses a step as they walk down the stairs. Taehyung glances at him with concern swirling in his irises as Jimin curses but composes himself quickly after that. The humid air of October hits them both as Taehyung opens the door.
"It's not Jeongguk you should dress for," Jimin says quietly after a while. The atmosphere suddenly turns serious.
"What do you mean?" Taehyung puts his hands inside the pockets of his baggy pants, no longer feeling comfortable.
"Nothing." Jimin looks away and balls his fists in front of his chest, looking at Taehyung in a different way this time. "Anyway, establish your dominance when you get there yeah? Show this joon guy who Jeongguk belongs to."
Taehyung furrows his eyebrow, "He doesn't belong to anyone."
"You're missing the point here," Jimin hisses and gives him a deadpanned look.
Taehyung laughs good-naturedly. "I get it but I've told you literally a thousand times, I don't love Jeongguk that way."
Jimin stops suddenly in the middle of the road. Taehyung pulls the fellow freshman to the side, slightly adjusting their position for safety, but he's confused nonetheless by the spontaneous action. Jimin looks at Taehyung with curiosity, and slight disappointment. He looks at him in a way that Taehyung can't meet his eyes.
"What?" He tries to laugh it off as a joke.
But he feels it. Jimin's slow realization, Jimin's frustration towards him. Although, they've known each other for less than a month, it's as if their souls know each other better, like they've been acquainted for a thousand years (maybe a thousand lifetimes.) Jimin sighs before walking again, looking up to the sky instead of him.
Taehyung stares at the ground, kicks a pebble away but barely manages to get it far.
"I wonder how long it would take you to tell me that you're hurting." Jimin smiles at him and for once, they don't transform his eyes into familiar crescents.
"That's because I'm not. I'm fine, really, Jimin-ah." And the smile on his face doesn't stretch too much, it feels natural but it hurts, doing the simple action. His teeth aren't on full display and his lips barely tilt upwards.
He's hurt, Jimin tells him but Taehyung himself doesn't know how much of it is true. Does he blame the soulmate bond for misunderstanding what he feels or does he blame himself for not even understanding how his emotions work?
He's not hurt, he tells himself but the moment they sit at the cafe, Jimin by his side instead of Jeongguk. it feels as if a stone is dropped in the pit of his stomach. And it becomes heavier when Jeongguk appears, pulling his soulmate with him to sit in front of them.
He's not hurt but he feels irritated by the way Jeongguk seems so bubbly around Namjoon, who admittedly, isn't even a bad guy. But he seems a little too nice and Taehyung can't help but narrow his eyes slightly.
"Hyung," Jeongguk frowns. "Is there something on Namjoon's face?"
Taehyung's eyes widens and Jimin stares at him suspiciously from the side, nudging his thigh with his knee. Thankfully the cue makes him answer,
Jeongguk twists his torso to peer at Namjoon's face and hums in affirmation before looking back at them. Taehyung doesn't even notice the feeling of hot lava pooling in his stomach until Jimin squeezes his palm under the table. It's overwhelming and it's consuming. Taehyung feels the aftermath of jealousy and it isn't nice that his heart tinges in response.
They finish up pretty quickly after that, because Jeongguk talks enough for Namjoon, and Taehyung can't help but bitterly think, you never talk like that with me, asshole. Jimin only lets go of his hand when he stands up, interrupting Jeongguk mid-gush about Namjoon's tutoring moments, as he apologizes for leaving so soon. Taehyung doesn't find anything interesting about it (because envy is a fucking monster and he'd like to get rid of it soon.)
"I'll head back first," Taehyung smiles and it hurts .
Fuck, fuck, Jimin's right. Finally, Jeongguk looks at him, actually looks at him and it feels like the first every time. Under Jeongguk's gaze he feels naked, transparent.
"I wanna catch some sleep before I head to my next class." Taehyung's lying through his teeth because if he does sleep, he knows he'll never wake up in time for his 5-6 P.M. class but that is an excuse he'll make just to get out of the place.
"Will you wake up in time?" Jeongguk's tone sounds a little concerned, and Taehyung represses the urge to snap.
"I'll set an alarm, Jeonggukie. It's fine." Taehyung tries hard not to grit his teeth, feeling a headache coming.
"I'll be fine ." He finally snaps, and Jimin looks as if he is ready to intervene but manages to snap back his bubbly persona. "It was nice meeting you Namjoon-ssi. I'm really glad that you're Jeongguk's soulmate." Because somehow he knew that they are just right for each other, and somehow he knows that he's telling the truth.
"I'm really glad too." Namjoon smiles widely, but Taehyung feels those words as sharp as a knife, his smile a pointed tip. "He's a good guy. Be safe Taehyung-ssi, it was nice meeting you too."
And he's out the door before he can hear what Jeongguk says. He's not surprised when Jimin's running to his side, seemingly breathless, but he's too caught up in the blazing heat of frustration and envy to acknowledge it.
"Taehyung, wait up." Jimin's trying to match his pace, but his legs are a bit short compared to Taehyung's. "Taehyung, hey, calm down."
He stops and the other almost crashes into him.
" Taehyung ." Jimin places a hand on his shoulder.
"I-I need cinnamon spiced hot choco, fuck the caffeine," He mutters shakily, inhaling deeply as he runs a hand through his hair.
"What? You're not making any sense, please just take a deep breath, your panic makes me panic." Jimin rubs circles on his shoulder blades, stepping closer. "Breathe, it's okay."
"I'm g-gonna have tuh-to let him go," He babbles, hand shaking. "I h-hate this, Jim-Jiminie."
Jimin's hand on his back is sturdy, pressing hard and patting the air out of his lungs that get stuck in his airways. It grounds him a little, offering comfort.
"You don't have to Tae, you don't have to let him go . He's still your best friend."
And that doesn't necessarily help but it makes him get a grip on himself, makes him nod slowly. He'll take it, he'll have to.
"Where do we get the hot choco?" Jimin brushes the stray hair from his face, a reassuring smile on his face.
Taehyung shakes his head, a small smile on his face, "It's okay, Jiminie, let's just go home."
Jimin takes his hand and it makes a big difference, the bond resonating within them. It makes him understand a little more what soulmates mean to him, what Jimin does. But he still isn't quite sure where Jeongguk stands in all of this, all he knows is that he loves him.
But the lines had gotten blurry, and he doesn't know where to draw them this time.
Jeongguk has his foot in front of the other, his eyes following the figure that had gone out the door. His eyes sweep towards Jimin, who pushes the chair backward hissing something incoherently. Jeongguk can't help but ask,
"Why? Is there something wrong?"
There definitely is something up, however, he can't assume when it comes to Taehyung. But Jimin – he's the soulmate.
"Don't ask, God I don't know either." Jimin shakes his head before bowing quickly and going after the man that bolted out of the cafe faster than he can sing his alphabet.
"Jeongguk?" It's Namjoon that speaks, pulling him back to reality.
The itch inside that makes him want to run after Taehyung vanishes abruptly. It'll be okay, Jimin is there after all. He doesn't know Jimin, but he knows enough that the other boy would be able to take care of Taehyung. That's the only reason why he sits back, but another part of him still worries. Jeongguk's leg unconsciously starts bouncing as he bites his lip and keeps glancing at the door.
"Jeongguk," His gaze locks with Namjoon, who is frowning at him.
Great, even his soulmate thinks something is wrong.
"If you wanted to go after him," Namjoon pauses, letting silence bleed over the words he wants to say but never does. ( Clearly, Jeongguk does want to go after him.) "Why didn't you?"
And with that, Jeongguk goes mute. Why didn't he?
Namjoon smiles, sitting back. "You can go, Jeongguk, just answer my question."
He blinks, once or twice. "Yeah sure, what is it?" He can't keep the eagerness out of his tone.
"Will you go on a date with me tomorrow?"
"I'm sorry?" Jeongguk almost gets a whiplash from the question. Weirdly, his skin starts to itch and there's a voice at the back of his mind, screaming at him.
"You heard me." Oh lord, Namjoon is confident.
And Jeongguk is stupid.
"Yeah, okay, uh, can I?" He points to the door, mistaking the itch for his want to go. He ignores all the signs.
Namjoon nods and doesn't say anything, even as his eyes trail Jeongguk when he leaves. Jeongguk shivers when he steps outside the cafe, the air starting to get cold as the sun goes down. It's a few steps down the block that he realizes what he agreed to. Jeongguk has half a mind to cancel, his hand immediately reaching for his cellphone, but then he stops.
Jimin. Taehyung has Perfect Jimin.
He pulls his hand out of his pocket.
He makes a detour to Cafe Niente before going to their dorm, the cup steaming hot as he makes his way quickly to the door. Punching in the key code, the door beeps and he pushes his way in with his free hand. Jeongguk throws his emergency keys (in case the door malfunctions – don't ask, it happens .) on top of the table in front of the couch before he goes to Taehyung's door. He knocks three times, in a rhythm he's already used to because the older forced him into making these secret languages.
"You're home?" Taehyung's soft voice is muted from the other side of the room.
"Can I come in?" Jeongguk swallows nervously, clutching the cup a little tighter.
There's a beat of silence before Taehyung slowly says, "Yeah, okay I'm fully clothed."
Jeongguk glares as he turns the doorknob and finds a grinning Taehyung sitting up on his bed, his phone discarded by the side.
"Don't ever joke about that." He says sternly, handing Taehyung the cup who gratefully takes it with an eager expression.
"Jeonggukkie, is this cinnamon spiced hot choco?" The twinkle in Taehyung's eyes as he looks at him almost makes him forget about what happened earlier.
"Yeah," He grunts, making a move to sit beside Taehyung. The older quickly makes space for him, almost bumping his shoulder in the wall. "Now talk," He pokes Taehyung's side who's a millisecond away from spitting the hot beverage in his face as he flinches.
"What's there to talk about?" Taehyung looks at him with his wide eyes, the eyes he damns the other for. Jeongguk is pretty sure the older can turn that on and off like a switch.
"Hyung," Jeongguk places his hands on his lap. "Are you okay?"
Taehyung places the cup on top of his knees that are pulled up to his chest and smiles, shaking his head.
"Why wouldn't I be? Sorry about earlier by the way, university is getting to my head. Jimin's right you know, I need to loosen up sometimes."
"You're perfect just the way you are." He doesn't hesitate.
"Oh Gukkie, I know. But believe me, it doesn't hurt, to have a little fun sometimes."
"Oh no," He shakes his head, "Are you in your rebellion phase now?" He asks jokingly.
Taehyung barks out a laugh, "Maybe, I mean, I'm attending my first party tomorrow."
Jeongguk's ears zeroes on the p-word. His mind blanks out and he blurts out,
"You can't go to a party, I'm going on a date ."
Taehyung, who is reaching for the blanket, suddenly retracts his hand and stiffens.
"Okay," Taehyung reaches for the blanket again and pulls it up his knees. "You can go to your date, I can go to the party." He hands Jeongguk the now empty cup, which he places on Taehyung's desk with his long limbs.
"But who's gonna look after you? You can't even drink or drive." Technically if the party is held near campus, Taehyung doesn't have to drive or use public transportation. But Jeongguk's mind always jumps to worse possibilities, so he doesn't voice this out.
"I can look after myself." Taehyung stresses the last word, and Jeongguk's aware there's a conflicting look on his face because when he tries to open his mouth, the older cuts him off. "Besides," He says smoothly. "Jimin will be there."
"Jimin?" His voice is hollow. "You barely know him."
Taehyung's face twists..
"I've known him for a month and a half and we're soulmates, Jeongguk. How can you say that?"
"I can say that as someone who's worried about you." Jeongguk stands up and pinches the bridge of his nose. He sighs and puts his hands on his hips. "Jimin might be your soulmate, but he should've known better than to suggest this."
"And you know better?" Taehyung says incredulously, and it's justified since Jeongguk can't believe they are even having this conversation.
"Are you saying that I don't?" Jeongguk's tone gets defensive and there's a hint of hurt in his tone. He doesn't raise his voice but it comes across as challenging.
"Oh stop deflecting, Jeongguk." Taehyung throws the blanket off his legs and sits with his butt against his feet. "You can go to your date, and I can go to my party. Stop being so immature about this, for fucks sake."
"But with him? Really Taehyung?" Jeongguk's mouth is running loose with words and he doesn’t care, even when Taehyung's face is contorting into something ugly and this might blow up in his face. "Jimin, huh? Does Jimin even know that you almost got into an accident when we tried to drink in 11th Grade?"
"We were kids!" Taehyung cries, pointing a finger to his chest. "I'm not a kid anymore!"
"Still!" Jeongguk throws his hands in the air. "He doesn't know anything about you that much yet, how would he know how to take precautions—
"Are you even hearing yourself right now?"
And then they're screaming at each other. It's the worst and pettiest of fights, Jeongguk finds himself getting lost in the burning flame of anger in the argument. He has this need to prove something, he has this stubbornness he can't stamp down no matter how hard he tries. And believe him, he tries . It doesn't hit him until Taehyung's in front of him, their chest almost touching and his eyes are glistening with tears, threatening to spill. In the heat of the moment he forgot how Taehyung can be in an argument, how he can cry whilst still being angry. He forgot how he was supposed to wipe those tears away instead of being the reason for them. Taehyung might be an enigma, but he forgot that – to Jeongguk, Taehyung lets him in.
This is one of those times.
"You're so afraid of change, Jeongguk." Taehyung whispers brokenly, his eyes desperately searching, trying to break down the walls he used to easily get through before. "But," Taehyung inhales, gaze dropping sadly to his shirt, " You've changed." He looks back up tiredly. "What is it that you're not telling me Jeongguk?"
Jeongguk closes his eyes and blinks repeatedly to stop the stinging in his eyes. He purses his lips in order to stop the truth from accidentally spilling out. Jeongguk doesn't realize, that in the midst of this all – this is what changed him. No longer can Taehyung see past his walls because that's where he guards his most heavily kept secret.
( I love you )
He doesn't offer an answer.
"I see," Taehyung confirms, swallowing slowly as he steps back. The heat of the moment dissipates. "If you are so worried, Jeongguk, why don't you cancel your date and go with us?"
"You know I can't do that." He says, desperately.
"Then you and I are the same."
For once, Jeongguk doesn't feel too happy about hearing that.
(God, I'm in love with you)
You're going to take care of him right?
Please promise me you will. I love Taehyung too much and I know you do too.
Text me when you guys are there.
Jeongguk, man chill
I promised that to you ever since you got a hold of this number
and when you messaged me at 1AM
Yeah i do love him not just in the way you think
Are u guys there already?
His last class ends at 6 ._.
Are u ok
The party starts later than that, obviously
Wbu? U with that nam guy?
And no, I'm at the dorm lol
I'm finishing up here
And stay safe.
"Oh god, I really think I'm gonna puke." Jeongguk is unbearably honest, the wine starting to get into his system.
Namjoon laughs and it sounds like bells to his ears, "Take it easy with the wine, Guk." He pulls the bottle away from his reach. "You don't look pretty when you're drunk."
Jeongguk makes a face, "Who does?" He licks his lower lip. "Also, I'm not drunk. Just feeling the heat of the alcohol," He shivers and tips his glass towards Namjoon.
He's awed. For a small quaint downtown restaurant, the food is incredible and has good wine (or at least the "good" wine he's used to drinking back at home.) It's a bit weird having chicken wings and wine as a combination for dinner, but Jeongguk thinks Namjoon doesn't care either because he ate his ramen with wine. They're weird, but it's okay .
"Then shouldn't that be a sign for me to take you home?" Oh and, Namjoon has a car . A hand-me-down but still. And he drives really well for someone who has barely gotten his license.
"No, god no." This is when he starts to babble. "I don't wanna go back to an empty dorm." His eyes widen, and grinning lopsidedly, "Oops, I mean uh—
Namjoon's gazes at him in concern. "Why? Isn't Taehyung home?"
Oh boy, he's been avoiding that name around his soulmate for the whole day (and that's saying something because Namjoon has become one of the contacts he constantly exchanges memes with and talks about random stuff in between classes.)
And yes, it still doesn't feel the same, like how he used to message Taehyung – he might be dramatic but a day feels like a year – when he used to laugh out loud in public for some stupid thing the older sent.
You're thinking about him again .
"Uh no!" Jeongguk shakes his head, "He's attending this party, near the dorm though, at the Manoban's – I think."
"Ah Lisa-ssi," Namjoon whistles, leaning back. "Goodluck getting him back before midnight." He shoots Jeongguk a concerned look. "She's notorious for having her parties last the whole day . As in 24 hours." Namjoon slightly leans forward to look at him, "Hey, you okay? You look green."
Jeongguk, is in fact, green in the face. He's really about to puke this time.
"Well you don't look fine." Namjoon squints, pursing his lips.
"God, you sound like Jimin." Jeongguk can't help but snap. He doesn't even realize his palms are clenched around the table cloth. He sighs and loosens his grip.
( "Are you absolutely fine with Taehyung going to this party?"
"I'm fine with it as long as he is. "
"You don't look too fine there, Jeonggukie.")
"I'm an idiot." He brings a hand to his hair and ruffles it harshly.
That statement applies to the following – one: he totally messed up the first date, two: why the fuck did he agree to this in the first place and three: why the hell did he believe Jimin when he said he would make Taehyung return at 11.
"Jeongguk, are you okay?"
"Why does everyone keep saying that." He mumbles, finding the piece of linen on the table cloth interesting.
It's fine . He has no choice but to believe Jimin, anyway.
"You do know you can tell me anything, right?" Namjoon reaches for his hands, and Jeongguk looks up suddenly, his spine going rigid at the contact.
Maybe it's the alcohol, maybe it's tiredness, but it's what makes him do what he does next.
"Hyung, can I tell you a secret?" Jeongguk squeezes Namjoon's hands, who squeezes his right back. They're clammy and they're nearly the same size but they fit so well together that he can't see anything wrong with it.
Maybe it's him who has been wrong all along.
"Anything, Jeongguk." Namjoon whispers. His tone is light, his words are serious.
"I hate Jimin." And it comes like water bursting from a dam. "I hate how he touches Taehyung without hesitation or fear. I hate how he can say things freely without being ashamed around Taehyung. I hate how comfortable he is – how comfortable they are with each other. I hate how he seems to know what to do all the time and knows what to say. I hate how he draws Taehyung out of his shell so easily," He chokes.
"I hate how he's a fucking perfect match for Taehyung – it's driving me crazy hyung." It's miserable, the way he admits this.
Namjoon is quiet for a moment, no reassuring smile on his face. "It's only two things Jeongguk," He locks eyes with the younger. "You hate him because he's Taehyung's soulmate and you hate him because he's not you ."
Jeongguk tries to find a word to explain that no , that’s not it but instead, he can only think about how Namjoon hit the bullseye and yes, that’s it. He blinks, removing the hold on his hand.
"Hey, no." Namjoon’s dimples still don't make an appearance, even though he voices words of reassurance. Jeongguk wants to curl into a ball. "But let me tell you a secret Jeongguk."
Jeongguk waits, he can't look away. The flame dims in Namjoon's eyes before they burn brightly again.
"I already knew." And then the smile is back. "That you love him."
"No," Jeongguk croaks, shaking his head. "I l-love you."
Namjoon tilts his head innocently, a habit he always does when someone tells him he's wrong or tries to prove him otherwise.
"Jeongguk, it's okay." Jeongguk doesn't feel pain from Namjoon's end. He's stunned and a little winded. "It's okay because you do love me, but you're in love with him. And you need to accept that."
Before he can open his mouth and ask exactly what that means, his phone beeps from the side of the table.
Everything's a blur after that.
Help, fuck I can't find him
The pull – it's gone
You know how it is once the bond has been established
Fuck I'm so sorry.
Jimin greets him near the lawn, his cheeks blotchy with tears and from whatever he's been drinking, but Jeongguk's mind is elsewhere.
"No danger? No panic? No anger? No anything ?"
Jimin shakes his head, "No I can't feel anything, it's dormant, it's so calm the bond isn't saying anything ." Jimin cries out, and Jeongguk has to hold his shoulders to get him to calm down.
"Stop, fuck – okay, panic will get us nowhere. Where have you checked?" Jeongguk lets Jimin trail behind him as he bumps shoulders with the crowd, eyes scanning the floor desperately.
The lights are blinding and it's suffocating inside. He crinkles his nose and wonders if Taehyung liked this setting. He probably didn't.
"Every floor," Jimin sniffs from beside him. Jeongguk shakes his head, making his way to the stairs with long and easy strides. "He's not answering his phone, no one's too sober to answer me properly and most of the people here are too drunk to notice where he went." Jimin's voice floats from behind him as Jeongguk pushes through the corridor, rattling the doorknobs to check if they are unlocked.
Jeongguk presses an ear to each of the rooms.
"I wouldn't do that." Jimin winces as he glares when they meet gazes.
He presses an ear stubbornly despite the warning, and reels back when he hears a moan.
"I told you." Jimin's lower lip trembles, and he looks a second away from crying again. "This is my fault, I shouldn’t have brought him to the party."
"Yeah you shouldn't have." Jeongguk spits out, stomping over to the next set of stairs at the other end of the second floor.
"Can you stop being an asshole for once?" Jimin's red flushed cheeks and angry stare only provokes Jeongguk more.
He rattles the doorknob and slams the door open when he finds it unlocked.
"Well, can you actually think for once?" Jeongguk finally screams, turning on his heel to face Jimin.
Taehyung isn't anywhere in this building. The panic is starting to set in faster than the wine he drank earlier. It seeps into his veins the same way wine did but this makes his blood run cold instead of igniting it into flames.
"You're the fucking soulmate and you lost your soulmate." Jeongguk continues on, a little crazed. He pokes Jimin's chest. "And I'm the asshole? Well, you're, uh, – you're stupid !" He finally settles for the word, poking Jimin's chest with every word. He ignores how the older quietens and doesn’t stop him.
"I know you're not a fucking babysitter, but who knows what can happen here. Who know s." Jeongguk's voice cracks in the end and that's the only reason why he steps back
Jimin opens and closes his mouth. "You're jealous," he blurts out.
"I'm not," Jeongguk sighs, shutting his eyes so hard he can feel them ache. "Uh, well I am but that's not the point—
"See!" Jimin's eyes widen, his eyebrows knitting in a scowl. "You hate me so much, Jeon Jeongguk, that for a simple mistake you'd probably want to kill me."
"That's not the point here!" He nearly screams. "Your soulmate is missing, and you're trying to put the blame on me?!" Jeongguk's eyes are so wide they almost bulge out in disbelief. "You're so perfect aren't you? You can't even admit you made a mistake."
"I know I did, and you keep trying to label me as Taehyung's soulmate, but I'm not perfect as you think I am!" Jimin balls his hand into a fist and weakly punches his chest, "I'm not perfect."
He's sobbing into Jeongguk's chest, his small but relentless attacks keep coming."You're not even giving me the chance to get to know my soulmate."
Jeongguk breathes heavily, unmoving even when Jimin lifts his forehead off Jeongguk's chest. The older sniffles, his blonde hair sweaty and sticking to his forehead. He smiles tiredly at Jeongguk, but it doesn't contain an ounce of happiness.
"You expect too much from me, Jeongguk."
He's about to retort, the words 'I expect the best for Taehyung' on the tip of his tongue but instead, a voice speaks from behind them.
"Hey guys?" They whip their heads back to look at a fellow freshman, whose gaze flickers back and forth between the two.
"What?" They both say in unison. Jeongguk – irritated with everything and anything that moves (Jesus, the lights are making him dizzy.) Jimin – monotonous and weary.
"Are you looking for Taehyung-ssi?"
And before Jeongguk can even open his mouth to speak, Jimin's already scrambling towards the boy, nodding as words spill from his lips.
"Yes, yes we are." Jimin affirms, "Where is he?"
"He's fine." The freshman reassures him before pointing to the side. "He's sleeping in the other room. He got too drunk and sleepy, so we had to take him there. I'll get the keys from my sister. I'm Minjae, by the way." His smile is strained.
"Manoban's half-brother." Jimin sags in relief, dissolving into heaps of, "Thank you." in front of the boy's lithe frame.
Minjae nods and says, "I'll be back, wait a bit."
He disappears into the crowd. Jimin turns towards him,
"Take him home, okay? Tell him I'm sorry." He sounds mournful.
"Jimin wait," Jeongguk sighs, but the other boy shakes his head.
"You don't have to apologize Jeongguk, you're right—
"I'm not." Jeongguk swiftly cuts him off. His head throbs as he steps forward, closing the distance between them. "Let's take him home yeah?"
Jimin stares at his soles. "Yeah."
"I'm sorry." Jeongguk finds it isn't difficult to apologize.
"Yeah." It’s barely a whisper, but it turns out that forgiveness comes easy for Park Jimin.
Jeongguk puts Taehyung to bed, but he lets the other get tucked in by Jimin, who's whispering apologies into his hair and keeps kissing his forehead. Jeongguk's heart oddly doesn't ache because of the action, but rather aches because of his impression of Jimin. Suddenly, the words he spoke unthinkingly earlier come back tasting like iron in his mouth, as he realizes, Jimin cares . Jeongguk thinks back on the other's words, and the guilt weighs heavily at the bottom of his stomach. He watches as Taehyung's soulmate finally gets out of the room, and he follows to see him out.
(Jeongguk still kind of wonders why has Jimin never kissed Taehyung, but he's not thinking too much about it.)
"Are you okay to go home on your own?" Jeongguk asks the older.
Jimin was far more intoxicated earlier, looking like he drank more shots than Jeongguk could ever manage. It's obvious that he's sober now , but it doesn't hurt to ask either way.
"It's fine." Jimin waves a hand dismissively. "I can handle my alcohol unlike, well – the two of you." He collapses on the couch, his eyes bleary as he looks at Jeongguk, who sits quietly beside him. "Can you be truthful to me?"
He needs a second to answer, a little taken aback, but then is reminded that he's got nothing to lose anyway.
"Sure," He shrugs, like it’s nothing, like he isn't baring his heart open.
"Do you love him?" Jimin says, slowly.
"Yeah." He says, without an inch of doubt in his voice.
"Are you in love with him?" The way Jimin looks at him is different now, like he knows, yet is waiting for his answer.
He's waiting for his answer, for the words to come out from his mouth, because it's a confession, an admission.
"Yeah," He almost stutters at his own words. "I'm in love with Kim Taehyung," His throat dries up as he quietly continues, "I have been since I was in 6th Grade."
I just didn't know what love meant back then . And Jeongguk isn't sure what it means for him now.
"Well, tell him that, yeah?" Jimin stands up and ruffles Jeongguk's hair. He freezes at the action.
The other chuckles. "He deserves to know, and you know that."
"What?" Jeongguk stares blankly at him, eyebrows scrunched together as if he were solving a particularly complicated mathematical problem.
"Don't tell me you don't know soulmates can be platonic?"
Soulmate can be what?
His face probably gives it away as his mind short-circuits.
"Unbelievable, star student Jeongguk didn't listen at his soulmate classes." Jimin incredulously says, making his way towards the door.
"Goodnight Jeonggukie," Jimin's voice is as sickly sweet, same as the first day he met him. "Don't stay up thinking too much about it, yeah?" He hurriedly goes to the door but the other slams it in his face.
And Jeongguk, in fact, does stay up all night thinking about it.
You didn't know?
What the hell
I'm genuinely concerned for you
Oh my god just stopfnnndjd
I haven't slept since yesterday i need to get this out of my system lmao
Meet you in Niente in 10
I still cant believe it
It's the only cafe that's open.
Hahahah rip me
Jeongguk arrives earlier than Namjoon. He orders his usual in Niente and goes to sit at the table in the middle of the cafe. It became his and Namjoon's thing; to find themselves in a crowd, just go to the table in the middle. The older once said that Jeongguk seems the type to hide himself at the lone table at the back, and if they're gonna be soulmates for the rest of their lives, Jeongguk has to give up that part of his lifestyle (Namjoon's funny that way.)
"You dress up better for dates." Of course, the first thing that the other greets him with, is a teasing remark. Jeongguk rolls his eyes, (the sun is barely up,) pyjamas are the way to go, it’s an obvious choice. "Good morning to you too, Jeongguk-ah." Namjoon tips his porcelain cup of black coffee, that he says he can't live without in the morning, towards him in greeting.
"Haha," Jeongguk groans into his hands, peeking through them. "Are you sure you're not in love with me?" His voice is muffled, shy.
Namjoon's smile became more teasing as he responds, "Not at the moment, no."
"What's that supposed to mean? " Jeongguk exclaims, as the other laughs, throwing his head back.
"It means Jeongguk-ah, that I don't see you that way." Namjoon puts his cup down, afraid that it's contents would spill over with the way he is throwing his body around.
Namjoon's look is unimpressed, his stare telling him to be serious . He zips his mouth after that and lets the older continue.
"I don't see you as a soulmate-lover type, you know? You're like," He pauses. "You're like someone I cherish, someone that’s precious to me and someone I love. You're my soulmate after all, but I don't think you'd be my lover." Namjoon shrugs before pointedly saying, "At the moment, that's what I feel, who knows if I'll fall in love with you in the future."
He blubbers for a response as Namjoon laughs louder. He's not joking about the last part, Jeongguk knows that. Namjoon is a firm believer of the phrase 'live in the present', not worrying too much about what’s going to happen next, however it doesn't mean he isn't open to change. Namjoon is laughing at him .
"Will you at least tell me?" He whines, glare half-hearted.
— when your feelings change so I don't have to feel guilty anymore?
"I will." Namjoon's dimples poke out from the side of his cheeks, and Jeongguk boops them just because he can. "What's a soulmate for you, Jeongguk?"
The question makes him sit up properly. It sounds really familiar to his ears. He hums and repeats the words Taehyung told him on the beach.
"I don't know, maybe a best friend but more. A person who knows me better than anyone else. They would inspire me to become a better person because I do that myself." Jeongguk tries to recall what comes after. It's coming back slowly. "A soulmate is someone I could carry with me forever. It's the one person who knows me and accepts me, believed in me before anyone else did or when no one could. And I love them and nothing could change that."
In his head, it sounded better than the words he is spewing now. Now that he does say it, it feels unnatural and scripted. Jeongguk shrinks at Namjoon's blank and calculated stare,
"What?" He says defensively, growing self conscious with every passing minute.
"That's a quote Jeongguk." Namjoon says, cutting through the silence.
"It's what ?" Jeongguk's eyes are wide enough from shock. "But Taehyung—
Namjoon raises an eyebrow, "Taehyung? He told you that?"
"Yeah but," Jeongguk thinks of memories by the beach and smiles ruefully. "We were kids back then."
Namjoon hums, "Yeah but is that what a soulmate means for you?"
He thinks for a moment, and denies it, "No." He smiles cheekily, "It's you, Joonie."
Namjoon looks incredulous when he hears the response, face dropping comically as he exasperatedly shakes his head. But Jeongguk knows that his answer warmed the older's heart. Not-so-strangely, it warms his too. His voice is soft as he says,
"I don't think there's a definitive answer for that, hyung. It's just this feeling you have when you meet them and the world literally tilts on its axis… it satisfies you, the feeling is fulfilling. A soulmate is anyone you'd want them to be, I guess," Jeongguk places his chin on top of his palm. "Someone you love, someone you can lean on, someone that inspires you and helps you become better. Someone that believes in you."
Namjoon looks proud as he nods his head, obviously loving their conversation. "Soulmates are like love – might be love even. It comes in different forms, yet it is what it is."
Jeongguk agrees, "It is what it is."
He makes his way back to the dorm as the sun begins to shine brightly. He finds Taehyung humming a song in the kitchen. He doesn't acknowledge Jeongguk's presence; they've been doing this the past three days and he wonders if it would be okay to drop the bomb just like that. Jeongguk marvels at the sight that is Taehyung, and maybe, gets a hint of what light Namjoon was referring to.
It certainly isn't the sun that shines through the windows, hitting Taehyung's brunette hair in the perfect way, giving it a golden sheen. But it’s definitely the way his breath is taken away by the mere sight of him, the feeling of so much love that has never changed throughout the years, just having taken different forms, but still – love. Jeongguk is breathless and is so filled with emotion that he can't bring himself to answer when Taehyung notices his stare and asks if something is wrong or if he needs something.
"It's nothing." He murmurs, just like he always does.
Taehyung frowns, his lips pressing into a thin line as his gaze turns hazy. Jeongguk sits at the chair of the counter, his eyes conveying more than he can say at the moment.
"Hyung," Jeongguk calls out to him, the same way his heart always does.
Taehyung turns to him, the cinnamon spiced hot choco in his grasp, eyes wide, looking as if he's been caught red handed. Jeongguk is terribly endeared by the action.
"It's fine, I did buy it for you." He reassures the elder with a small smile.
Taehyung's cheeks sport a light shade of pink as he squeaks out, "What do you want?"
Jeongguk stands up, goes to Taehyung and takes the cup from his hold, gently putting it down. He easily loops a gentle arm around the other's waist, his touch light as a feather. Taehyung grunts out a small Yah at the movement.
"Can I tell you what I've been hiding for so long?" Jeongguk's gaze locks with the older, full of sincerity and truth.
Taehyung's eyes are guarded, still hurt from their fight.
"You know I'm sorry," He says lowly, "It's just that I—
And if he saw Taehyung in that light, tasting Taehyung is like feeling the sun's heat on a perfect day in summer. Kissing Taehyung brings warmth from his cheeks that travels down to his toes, and it tingles . Kissing Taehyung is like seeing light and being able to feel it; the physical manifestation of the sun, he thinks that is Taehyung.
"Say it," Taehyung is breathless when he pulls away.
Jeongguk laughs as Taehyung pulls him closer by tugging him by the nape, determined, eager and happy .
"Say it, you idiot." Taehyung isn't really irritated, but he's getting impatient, and Jeongguk likes to keep him waiting.
"I love you." Jeongguk says this in Taehyung's collarbones, breathing them into the soft skin.
"Not that." Taehyung says sharply, pinching his arm and eliciting a startled and totally out of instinct, "Ow!" from Jeongguk.
The younger pretends he doesn't smile wider when Taehyung whispers a small, "But I love you too."
Jeongguk hums, and closes his eyes to the rhythm they follow. They're swaying in the middle of the kitchen, there's no music but somehow it's perfect.
"I'm in love with you, Taehyung." Jeongguk finally says, unapologetic and sincere.
Although he doesn't see it, he can still feel it when Taehyung smiles. The older holds him tighter and in that moment, Jeongguk lets himself be held. Jeongguk lets himself feel .
Jeongguk stares at the tattoo on his arm. Taehyung is curled up to his side, holding his hand tightly as he sleeps. Taehyung's grip gets weaker as his consciousness fades away, his breath calm and steady, so Jeongguk only holds his hand tighter. These weeks had been a bit stressful; Taehyung had nightmares that even Jiminie couldn't chase away. It's normal, and yes he might've done some overthinking and panicking, causing his own soulmate to calm him down and chase these thoughts away but otherwise, they're fine.
Jeongguk squints harder to distinguish the different hues of color in the tattoo; it's colored in the palette of the rainbow. Jeongguk silently chuckles when he thinks about something Namjoon had said just a few days ago. Namjoon said:
I think the reason why it's in the color of the rainbow is because of the variety of meanings and significance.
With his free hand, he traces the arm currently occupied by Taehyung.
Red, is obviously for love.
Jeongguk thinks. Namjoon is love, Jimin is (kinda) love, and yes, despite the tension they used to have, they hit off eventually, and Taehyung?
Taehyung is love itself but besides that, Taehyung is his lover. Somehow that thought makes him giggle.
And purple – I think it means you'll love someone for a long time, Jeonggukie! Because since it's the last color of the rainbow, it means having someone until the end!
It's Taehyung who said that all while looking at Jimin who watched them with a bored expression, but his features soften when Taehyung looks at him.
Jeongguk said that it wasn't in the spectrum of the rainbow. But somehow, he sees it in Taehyung and it's okay .
Kim Taehyung — golden.
"I wanna be defined by the things that I love
Not the things I hate
Not the things I'm afraid of, I'm afraid of
Or the things that haunt me in the middle of the night
I, I just think that
You are what you love."
— daylight, t.s.