“Why do you look surprised?”
Taehyung’s hand has the debilitated door pushed back as he gazes down at the older man who has rendered him his presence with a careless smile playing at his lips, hands locked behind him at the wrists. Taehyung stands out the way and makes an inviting gesture, “Come in.”
“I was on a stroll and thought it’d be even more pleasurable if you joined me.”
Taehyung steps down the rocky steps of his cottage with a barely audible sigh, “I am afraid I have grown acquiescent to you.”
“Reciprocity is fairness. But I suppose fairness would be aberrant from your behavior.”
They both begin traipsing down the woods, the tors and glens unconcealed from where they walk, the weather suggesting the high mounded hills to be windy. The dullness and light fog indicates that in no time, the drizzle of rain will pervade the acicular-shaped leaves of the pine trees, and most likely turn them slush. The view venerates the sweetness of sunset and it reminds Taehyung once again that the atmosphere of the country will forever leave him lost in reverie.
He keeps his amusement to himself when he comments, “You make me sound as though I am of terrible character.”
Namjoon confirms the man’s words by clearing his throat and Taehyung laughs for the first time in days, ostensibly weeks. Namjoon breathes in the earthy scent of petrichor and says, “I’d say you are of an esoteric character.”
“That sounds interesting, I’ll accept it.”
“And other times puerile.”
“I shan’t accept that one.”
It is Namjoon’s turn to laugh and the sound is short-lived, the kind shared with a close friend, hearty and genuine. When it eventually drains, his voice is lower and staunch, “I wish you’d know that you can speak to me whenever, Taehyung.”
“Aye, you have made yourself scarce and you laugh with me now, but for a man who has lived thirty-two summers, I know when a person’s mind is troubled.”
“The gesture is appreciated, Namjoon.”
Namjoon nods and just as the farmhouse is in sight and they begin walking past the fields yonder, he murmurs, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
Taehyung watches the man’s placid bearing and asks, “Why are you telling me this?”
“Nescience to one’s desires can contribute to a troubled mind. What are you truly after, Taehyung? Find that out but first, come have tea with me.”
“You ran out of tea.”
Namjoon’s brow tilts his way, “How do you know that?”
Taehyung shrugs, “My guessing skills.”
“It is time you bettered those skills then because I am in fact not out of tea. Come with me.”
Jimin has only just begun to betake himself towards the window lined with Namjoon’s pot plants when the door creaks open and as he turns to it, the smile he wears to welcome Namjoon falls at the sight of the man that follows. Glances that once were fleeting had grown ardent and not even Namjoon’s presence could compel Jimin’s attention from the imposing man whose face he hasn’t seen in weeks. Jimin has no cogent explanation why Taehyung’s features appear even sharper, firmness at his brows, a kindling intensity at his orbs, the sides of his face deep-set and hard lines for a jaw.
The sound of Namjoon’s voice in the background of Jimin’s thoughts snaps him to concentration and when he speaks, his voice comes choked, “What did you say?”
“Could you please make us tea?” Jimin nods and Namjoon smiles his thanks.
Jimin knows his and Namjoon’s preferences of tea but not the third amongst them so he turns to Taehyung as the man begins to move past him, “Which tea do you prefer?”
Taehyung’s voice is cautious when he answers, “What are my options?”
“Black, white and yellow.”
“I barely know the difference.”
“Black, it is.”
When all three men are seated with brewed tea in their careful holds, Taehyung looks down into the cup with contents hued more red than black. Namjoon speaks first, “I saw great progress with the farm, I nearly couldn’t recognize my own surroundings.”
“I thought it unfair that I do not pay you for your work.”
“We had an agreement and we both honored our sides of the deal. No one is being unfair.”
“Men usually wouldn’t want so meager for payment,” Namjoon points out with attentive eyes to the stiff-necked man.
“My greatest skill has been to want but little.”
“Aye from the very first day, you have always wanted so little.”
Taehyung’s glance at a tense Jimin is cursory before he returns his watch to Namjoon with frailty to the timbres of his voice, “Perhaps I want too much.”
Namjoon smiles at the familiarity of the man’s words but then stands his ground, “Yet I admire what you’ve done with the fields and I wish to pay you for your work.”
“If you insist.”
“You make it sound as though I were pleading with you to take payment from me.”
Namjoon chuckles, no longer surprised by the man’s satire, “I respect you, Taehyung, you are a good man. And because respect is based on friendship, I consider you my good friend.”
“And friendship is based on love,” Jimin cuts in for the first time, ignoring the eyes that fall on him, his own cast down into his cup. When he does look up, it is with a momentary glimpse at Taehyung, “And love is so accidental, isn’t it?”
“I’ll be paid the same as you pay Jeongguk,” Taehyung says immediately.
Namjoon takes the distraction greatly, “Oughtn’t you negotiate the price instead? You do not even know how much Jeongguk gets paid, what if it is not to your satisfaction?”
Taehyung finishes the contents of his cup in one huge gulp, disregarding the burn to his tongue, “I’ll be taking my leave now. Thank you for the tea.” Just as he reaches the door, he hears Jimin call.
“You should take the umbrella, it might rain on your way,” Jimin then looks to Namjoon as though he is only realizing, “You will be taking the umbrella to work at daybreak tomorrow, won’t you? I should go with Taehyung so I can bring it back.”
Namjoon thinks and nods, “You do that, be sure not to catch a cold.”
When Jimin and Taehyung arrive at the latter’s cottage after a very silent walk, Taehyung is only about opening the door to his cottage, bidding Jimin away with a mumbled thanks. He feels Jimin’s hand on his arm stop him with a quiet, “I missed you.”
Taehyung holds firm onto his control with a harsh bite to the inside of his mouth and rather, he says, “You should return.”
“Did you miss me?”
Taehyung looks at him and Jimin sees the man’s defense break away right before he answers with a frown, “Beyond doubt.”
“Come see for yourself.”
Taehyung opens the door for him and Jimin walks in, recognizing the setting of the man’s cottage right away, how he’s made it his own space, a space Jimin wishes Taehyung could make of him. In the midst of his thoughts, he spots the disorderly stack of papers on Taehyung’s bed and as he steps closer to them, he sees they are all himself. So many of him pencilled and delineated as if Taehyung had attempted recreating him to take up his absence. Him laughing, smiling, glaring, dancing, crying; they are all just Jimin.
“What are these?”
“Drawing you has become my catharsis,” Taehyung’s voice comes from behind, drained of life, “I have been unable to write a single word. When I try, it is only your name that is inked onto paper. I feel as though my existence now revolves around you, I am no longer in control of the helm to my ship, you are.”
Jimin turns to Taehyung and as he begins walking towards him, Taehyung moves away and says, “Do not be mistaken, it is cumbrous and I am not pleased with it. If I could glean a solution, I would. It feels dreary, cursed. I have not a single idea why it had to be you.”
“Your words hurt me, Taehyung.”
“There is nothing desirable about you yet I can not fathom why I am in such a pathetic situation.”
Jimin decides that he has let the man see him cry more than he’d like and now would not be another one of those so he swallows them and instead excuses himself, “I’m leaving.” When he begins on his way out of the cottage, Taehyung does not stop him and it is not until he has the door open that Taehyung’s hand shuts it. With Jimin’s back turned to him, Taehyung apologizes, “I’m sorry.”
“Move your hand aside, Taehyung. I said I am leaving.”
“I promise, Jimin, I’m sorry. Hurting you hurts me just as much. Please don’t go.” Jimin sighs, then begins turning to the man but Taehyung’s hands grip his shoulders, hindering the movement, clearly not finished speaking, “I have no clue how you do this. I’m the one always in control but here I am drawing your face every breathing moment I have, walking around the moor searching for roses I believe would match your hair, hating myself for not knowing your favorite color. You are a man. I’m a man too. And maybe I do not have my own explanations yet but it still feels like it shouldn’t be. I am out of mind, only you fill it. Whatever this is, it terrifies me.”
Just a silent moment of Jimin digesting Taehyung’s words before muttering, “Fear is hideous. You are not hideous.” He smiles to the sound of Taehyung’s titter, then turns to fix his gaze on him, “I’m afraid too, Taehyung, of you.”
“Yes. You. You scare me. You make me this person I really admire. Talking to you, being with you, it’s all so effortless. And I’m afraid of the things I feel when I am with you, the things I try to hide from, the things I ignore. I am afraid of all of them. I am afraid that I might be in love with you.”
Taehyung begins to turn away, not eager to hear any more, “Jimin-”
“Please do not hold my words back any longer, my feelings have been repressed long enough. I’m afraid that if I do not look at you now, I will lose the opportunity. I’m afraid that if I do not touch you, I will forever lose the chance. I’m afraid that if I do not tell you what you mean to me, I will always be miserable.”
“I don’t want you to be miserable.”
Jimin wraps his arms around Taehyung, placing a kiss on his cheek and his lips by his ear when he tells him, “I’m not miserable with you.”
Neither makes a move away from where they are, wrapped in each other’s embrace, Taehyung’s face concealed in the secure nook of Jimin’s neck, the smaller man’s scent a pacifier to his senses.
Jimin speaks hushed, “You look for roses for me?”
“Especially the pink and blue ones, they’d suit you very much. Even the- that’s not the point.“
Jimin smiles and his hands roam up under Taehyung’s voluminous curls, “You are very endearing.”
“Can I kiss you?”
Yes. Jimin would say so because he does want to. Very badly, he desperately wants to. But-
“You can’t just kiss me, make me feel so many things only to turn your back to me afterwards for weeks, and have me left hopelessly yearning for you. I hurt too, Taehyung.”
“Do I make you feel this way?”
Tears begin to slide down Jimin’s cheeks and he holds his breath so Taehyung doesn’t have to sense it from where his chin is tucked over the man’s shoulder but he gives himself away when his voice breaks, “You don’t have to feel bad. I was aware that- you were having a hard time. I understand. I really-”
And when Taehyung unwraps himself from Jimin’s hold to look at the man, he feels ashamed of himself. He has no words to say and instead pulls Jimin towards himself, feeling him wrap his hands around Taehyung’s middle. And they remain that way, content and peaceful or at least as content and peaceful as they can be in their situation.
I love you, Jimin thinks. But he can’t say. For Taehyung’s sake. If it would help Taehyung’s hurt reduce any less, then he’d bear it from him.
Taehyung nurses a heavy-eyed Jimin to sleep, and Jimin isn’t completely certain when sleep became such a great thing. Being in Taehyung’s arms, surrounded by his honey scent after long weeks of the man avoiding him and now hearing his heartbeat just next to his, he makes an unconscious decision to savor the moment if it is just another one of his many dreams.
Taehyung watches as even in the man’s sleep, Jimin continues to burrow himself into Taehyung’s chest as if he could go any further. He decides to be of assistance and embosoms Jimin tighter to himself and with his lips on the man’s forehead, Taehyung shuts his own eyes. They both take a brief nap to the commencing platter of rain against their tangled passions and the delusive fireplace swaying to the matching rhythm of their hearts.
Taehyung assumed that the day after, he might feel less despairful but he is proven wrong over again when he is unable to think of anything else but Jimin’s face in repose. Now that he’s seen it, he wants more of it, he wishes the practice could occur time and again. He mourns the end of his sanity and dismisses the urge of the scratch of his pencil against paper. It has been virtually twenty four hours since he’s seen Jimin, not to say that he has been counting. He’d swear that he hasn’t but what is of essence is his suffering of deleterious corollaries. When a knock reaches his ears, he sprints to the door and he can’t determine if he is relieved or even in a worse state when he sees Jimin before him with a smile on his face. Taehyung wants to ask him not to do that thing where he smiles so gently but it somehow travels to his eyes and makes them gleam like a reflection of starlight hidden behind his crystalline lens.
“What do you want?”
“I was going to the stream, will you come with me?”
“The stream?” The refusal in Taehyung’s tone is clear although feigned and upon Jimin’s nod, he questions yet again, “Together?”
Taehyung is unable to resist a smile when he scoffs, “Platonically.”
In the depth of dark waters and the reflected lines of the western hills, Taehyung and Jimin stand with their shirts discarded and upper body bare to the languid waters and under the watchful eyes of the moon which wanes and sets its reflection over every silvergrass in sight. Stars blot the sky like snowflakes on an obsidian-dark pavement along the road, shining like a promise or perhaps a reminder that no day’s problems could ever be as cosmic as the grandeur sight of the starlit sky at the end of every sun’s glare.
And Taehyung had always been less guarded at night, more vulnerable, less shadowed, more intense.
“It’s beautiful up there,” Jimin says, noticing Taehyung’s nerves all loosened and rather at a calm.
Taehyung agrees with a hum, “It is my wish to hide up under the skies.”
When Taehyung gestures at the sky, Jimin’s attention is on his hand and he observes Taehyung’s firm fingers, fantasizes having them linked with his but rather, in his distracted voice, he inquires, “By yourself?”
“No. With you.”
Jimin looks at him but Taehyung doesn’t meet his eye. Not wanting to hinder whatever progress this is, Jimin says nothing of it and instead asks, “Above or under?”
Taehyung’s smile is nostalgic and passive, “I’m not sure.”
“Food for thought?”
Jimin dares to inch closer to the man and with careful procedure, he finds Taehyung’s hand under the water, interlocking the man’s fingers with his. He waits for Taehyung to move away from him but Taehyung tightens his grip instead and Jimin’s lips press into a smile before he rests his head against the younger man’s sturdy shoulder. When Taehyung looks down at him, he finds Jimin staring up at him, a mirthful smile on his face and Taehyung watches him with fascination, thinking out loud, “Stellar.”
“Stellar for star,” Taehyung emphasizes, “I look up into the stars and see your eyes. I look into your eyes and see the stars.”
Jimin’s face splits into a wide grin, “Are you perhaps a poet also?”
“Words are like waves along the ocean. Some play around our ankles, others reach up over our knees, some others sweep us off our feet and there are those which carry us out to the ocean only to toss up back onto the beach again. Poetry wishes to sweep a man off his feet, carry him out to sea and toss him back onto the shore where he is left to reflect,” Taehyung says more quietly, “If my words have done just that for you, then perhaps I am a poet.”
Jimin nearly rolls his eyes but even in the dark, Taehyung sees how the moonlight exposes the colors that suffuse Jimin’s cheeks a flecker of champagne pink; a rubicund blush. And it devastates Taehyung how Jimin does nothing but smile and yet somehow takes up all of his thoughts, at sleeping hours and even in wakefulness. And when Taehyung looks away, Jimin still watches him. Taehyung is warmth in an icy mountain, a lone star shining in an inky sky. And just like a star, he is too far to reach. No matter how hard Jimin squints his eyes, no matter how close the star appears, he still couldn’t touch it even if he were to extend his hand out. Taehyung is physically close but in sooth, he is acutely distant.
Jimin fears he may have fallen in love with an Icarus but he wouldn’t mind following this Icarus all the way to the sun.
Taehyung eventually catches Jimin staring and finds himself ensnared. The man is the quintessential beauty and Taehyung wants to tell him that, embellish it into his skin, his eyes most especially. But instead, he sighs, “I am rotting in hell.”
“You’ll rot in hell with me. It should be worth it.”
Jimin gives a chortle and Taehyung finds that the man’s laugh is his favorite sound, and was his favorite sound far longer before he realized it.
After the men return to Taehyung’s cottage, Jimin pulls in a breath and turns to him quizzically, “So goodnight?”
“I’ll walk you to the farmhouse.”
“No I think it is best if I go alone.”
Taehyung understands and agrees but isn’t willing to let him go. Not yet. And he knows from the way his mind becomes a turbulent space, his next words are belike a mistake, “Then maybe stay with me a little more?”
Jimin peeps at him, “Are you sure?”
“To tell the truth, no.”
“Jimin please,” Taehyung blurts the moment Jimin begins stepping away, “Just for a little. Perhaps until your hair dries.”
“My hair most likely wouldn’t dry up for a while.”
“I think that’s the point.”
Jimin smiles and has to ignore how the pads of his fingers itch to touch him so instead, he nods and walks into the door held open for him.
Both Jimin and Taehyung sigh with satisfaction after the latter starts a fire at the fireplace, the warmth of the flames mimicking the heat of the day. And they both watch the fire for a moment as if entranced by the way it dances, envious of the freedom it possesses.
“Are you hungry?” Taehyung turns to Jimin, and he ignores the shadows of the flame across the man’s eyes when he shakes his head. “Come.”
Jimin moves closer to the man and shuts his eyes when Taehyung drops a linen towel to his head, helping to dry his hair and smiling down at the way the man looks at ease, as if he just might doze off. And when Jimin’s eyes flicker open, he looks as though sleep was most plausibly the last thing on his mind and when Taehyung’s activity on his hair halts, the fireplace crackles at the heat both men emit from their magnetism. With their eyes tightly fastened on one another, both can not help but wonder if all decisions leading to this moment were wise and if the one fast approaching is any more wise.
“Tell me to stop,” Taehyung pleads in hushed tones.
Jimin also begs in a whisper, “Don’t stop.”
“Ask me not to kiss you.”
“Kiss me, Taehyung.”
And he does. A little peck at first, merely testing waters, leaving them both registering what had just happened and what effects it had on them.
Without further thought, it is with satisfied groans their lips meet again and slide swimmingly over one another like sin but the righteous kind of sin, wedding their unutterable fantasies to their transitory breaths, bodies molded perfectly together, and Jimin mewls into his mouth, bliss behind his shut eyes, sensitivity to Taehyung’s touch on the layer of his skin. Their tongues dance together, a waltz, their breaths the music and their hands on one another, the stage. Jimin gets lowered abed and the man’s figure towers over him, detaching their mouths so he can taste the skin at his jaw, and for him, Jimin blossoms like a rose, the florescence now complete with Taehyung’s name at the tip of his tongue like an orison he hasn’t muttered in years.
“Angioletto mio,” Taehyung imprints the words into Jimin’s skin with his mouth, his kisses so gentle although filled with agony as if each of them is a war lost, and Jimin does not mind losing every war if the reward of his defeat is Taehyung.
And their movements become slowed, an attempt to relish in the moment, mouths hovering over the other before meeting again in the form of their souls at an unhurried pace. With breaths turned harsher and their lips wetter, echoes of one another’s moans never any less desperate, hands more frenetic, kisses slower, and as they grow more lost and buried within each other, they both become cognizant of the entire concept of polarity. Because they just got to witness it first hand.
Existing in the encompassment of one another’s arms is concurrently heaven as it is doom.
“I just watered the farm!” Jeongguk sprints up the little stony steps of Taehyung’s cottage and pounds on the door before opening it at once. He sees Taehyung immediately, the man gesturing at him to come forward, “Here. I have something for you.”
“What is it?” Jeongguk questions quickly and with excitement, peeps at the trunk Taehyung is huddled over, the man’s hands digging into the contents.
As he waits, Jeongguk is about dropping to the man’s bed, arms and legs spread when he sees a stack of papers at the table, neatly bundled together. He hurries to it and with curiosity, his hand begins turning the papers the other way when he hears Taehyung’s warning.
Jeongguk takes his hand off at once and his mouth is in an indignant pout when he turns to Taehyung who is still searching for his gift to the young man, “You always show me everything.”
“Hence why I am about to show you this,” Taehyung finally gets to his feet with a book and walks to Jeongguk, handing it to him. Jeongguk takes the removable cover of printed fabric between his fingers, tracing the colorless illustration of the ocean on the book.
“What is this?”
“Of all my books, it is this I favor best. I am handing it on to you.”
Jeongguk’s face glistens ardently when he looks up at Taehyung, a huge grin splitting through the sides of his face, “I will be sure to return it to you.”
“Nay. It is for you to keep.”
“But you only just said you favor it best.”
Taehyung leads Jeongguk to the table, sliding the stack of papers to the far end as they take up the space, “And that is why I am giving it to you. Books are to be passed down, inherited, and who else to be my heir of this but you.”
“Thank you, Taehyung.” His eyes are down to the table when he asks, “Can I ask something?”
“Go on, lad,” Taehyung observes that Jeongguk looks somewhat afraid so he gently urges him, “Come on, speak to me.”
“If I were a man who also admired other men, would you hate me?”
And Jeongguk takes the silence that follows as an answer. He never raises his head once to meet Taehyung’s eyes because he knows what they will look like, full of disappointment and loathing. Taehyung sees the teardrops on the table just under Jeongguk’s face, and the boy doesn’t attempt to look at him. He doesn’t say anything and the quietude that follows feels to drag on forever before getting interrupted by Jeongguk’s sobs, then the boy mumbling, “I’m sorry.”
Taehyung leans back into his chair with a sigh, “You ought to know by now, Jeongguk, that you could hold a knife to my throat and I still wouldn’t hate you.”
With hesitation, he looks up at Taehyung. The man doesn’t appear to hate him, not the slightest bit, he doesn’t look any different than five minutes earlier when he handed Jeongguk the book, and it is with a gentle voice Taehyung tells him, “Wipe your tears.”
Jeongguk does, and he cautiously assesses Taehyung, “You do not hate me?”
“But the illustration you gave that day- about the horse.”
“It was shallow and not well thought. I was correct when I said we are animals as well but horses are lesser animals than we are, they do not have the kind of complexities we do, our kind of intricate thoughts, feelings, associations, relationships, attractions. If I were to compare, it should have been with something of a similar nature.”
Jeongguk swallows and his eyes continue to swim, “So which?”
“What do you mean ‘which’ ?”
“Will you not be giving a better argument?”
“No, lad. I am not giving an argument at all.”
“But your morality-”
“That is one confusing subject, Jeongguk. I do not know as we speak if I still have my morality and if so, whether it is a harm to me or if it has been harmed by me. But I do not want to think of that. For once in my life, Jeongguk, I do not want to think.”
Jeongguk is beyond confused when he argues, “But you have to think to be!”
It is with a solemn nod Taehyung answers, “Cover your ears so you do not hear my next words.”
Jeongguk raises his hands to his ears just lightly because there has never been a moment when he didn’t wish to hear whatever Taehyung had to say. And they are both aware he hears Taehyung’s next words.
“Being be damned.”
Jeongguk gasps, eyes widened as though he said something treacherous. Taehyung winks at him with a shrug and Jeongguk laughs, awed by the words that contradict the man’s popular belief.
“Why did you tell me if you thought I’d hate you?” Taehyung asks, genuinely curious.
“I do not wish to tell you lies.”
Taehyung hums, “You should know that it isn’t something you speak of to people. The world would say such horrible things to you were they to know, they’d do such horrible things to you that breaks my heart to imagine. The world is a terrible place.”
“So I am not the evil one?”
Taehyung’s face breaks down into a frown and he laments as he drops his face into his open palms, realizing what awful things he had spoken to the boy in the past, “No, you are not the evil one, Jeongguk, how could you be evil? I am deeply sorry.”
“Are you crying?”
“No no. No I’m not, I’m just very sorry to you.”
“You are crying.”
He is crying.
“I’m sorry, Taehyung,” Jeongguk is quick to apologize, afraid he might be the cause of the man’s misery. Taehyung’s body looks much calmer juxtaposed with his bloodshot eyes when he takes a look at Jeongguk.
“Don’t you go around apologizing to people for nothing you have done wrong. Especially people like me.”
Jeongguk hurts seeing the man this way and it is at times like this he wishes he had Seokjin’s comforting nature. Instead he asks, “What do you mean people like you?”
“The world, Jeongguk, the world. It is a very ugly place,” Taehyung collects himself and inhales, “You got very fortunate with your brother, you should let him know when you are ready. He is perhaps the best-hearted man I have ever met.”
“I told him!” Jeongguk hopes the positivity would be enough of a comfort, “He told me he knew already.”
Taehyung nods and he runs both his hands through his hair, feeling the worst of himself than he has in so long. He wishes to be alone but he knows Jeongguk still has much to speak with him about, and he wants to make up for all the dreadful things he’s said in the past.
“Can I still be a great man if I am such a person?” Jeongguk asks.
“Greatness can mean many things for many people. I’m afraid I must have given you a judgement of what entails a great man. ‘What makes a great man?’ That is a question I shall leave for you to answer yourself. I shan’t construct your morality for you, I have done enough damage as it is. It is fine, I suppose, to learn from me but do not ape me; it is then it becomes foolish. Natheless, I will tell you this, and perhaps you should take my next words more seriously than any other thing I have ever spoken to you. Matters of the heart aren’t to be treated as triifles, Jeongguk.”
Taehyung sees as the younger man absorbs his words and places them close to his heart. Jeongguk says, “I wish to be a great man someday.”
“By my standards, you already are a great man.”
“You inspire me, Taehyung.”
The words that should give Taehyung pride does the contrary and instead he finds the urge to correct Jeongguk, “I am not the sort of man you should be inspired by. I disbelieve that I am a great man. I am merely an overly garrulous man.”
“You are a great man,” Jeongguk is the next to correct and he speaks it as though a pledge, like he has never been more sure of anything in his life, “You just do not know it yet.”
And as both men look to the other, they see before them an enviable great man.
When Jimin goes to visit Taehyung the following night, he finds that he is already expecting him and just as he is going into the man’s arms, his happiness is thrown a shadow upon yet again when Taehyung moves away from him before he can do so.
Jimin sighs, saddened that they are numerous steps back to this. He decides to be at ease with Taehyung, less excited but rather more careful. Taehyung has his back to him and Jimin walks into his sight, looking up at him with a small smile, “Hello.”
“I want us to stop. This, whatever it is, I wish for it to stop.”
Jimin feels his own irritation rouse. Here is the trouble he’s always had with Taehyung. Once something slightly out of his control or much bigger than he knows to handle happens, he tends to run away from them without caring for anything else. And here is what Jimin hinted at when he indicated that Taehyung could not take responsibility for a kiss, he’d disappear again for a month and leave Jimin longing for him, hoping that with some time and space, he’d come around. Jimin doesn’t want yet another recurrence, he fears what he would be in those days.
So rather, he snaps at the man, “There is nothing to stop, Taehyung, because you never allowed this to be something. What is the matter this time? Are you going to preach to me of how this is a disease once more?”
“No,” Taehyung hazards in a beat, eyes darting away, “It is not about that.”
“Then what is it about?!”
“Namjoon. That is what this is about, Jimin,” Taehyung gives himself some space from the man, “How long do you think it likely for me to act as though you do not already belong to another man?”
Jimin’s temper falls away and instead, he sees the agitation under Taehyung’s expressions, “I do not belong to anyone.”
“Whatever occurs behind the door of that house will beg to differ.”
“Are you jealous?”
“You really do not understand a single word I am saying. Namjoon has been nothing but kind to me and from what I have seen, he has not been any less kind to you. He does not deserve this, none of it. It isn’t fair to him, I know that. And so do you.”
Jimin’s jaw clenches in a tight lock and his voice comes in a calm anger, “Do not form my opinions for me.”
“I should not have to form your opinions for you. It should be self-evident that this is wrong!”
“What is wrong and which is right? By whose understanding? Do you consider yourself so infallible that you can make judgements of wrong and right and expect the entire world to follow yours? No, I shall tell it to you now. The question of wrong and right is broad-ranging, there are no definite answers.”
Taehyung huffs in disbelief, “What in the world are you even speaking? This is wicked and bad to Namjoon. Heavens, he calls me his good friend.”
Jimin’s arms across his torso are obstinate, and when he speaks next, it is in earnest, “And is this good to me? Loved by a man who thinks of everyone else before he could ever think of me. You claim you are in love with me but I am always the last person you consider.”
“That is not true!”
“I am not happy either, can’t you see? It’s about being conscientious, doing what is right, the good thing!”
“It is not just about being good, Taehyung! Be good for something!”
“Fuck I want to be good for you!”
Up until now, both men have had their voices raised at each other in strife, and with heavy breaths, the world seems to cease, the air stiffened by their anger but the kind provoked by a more passionate emotion. The two feel their own aches, their own yearnings for the other, and they are at a loss with one another, their situation, hanging onto a thread of hope, unsure what of but all they desire is to hold one another without questions, the sovereignty to be with one another without outside forces. It can not be that way, unless they pretend otherwise.
But for how long?
Taehyung is the one who falls apart first and moves away. Jimin follows after him right away, turning the taller man around to himself, and his hands find Taehyung’s jaw, cradling it the way he’s always wanted to, and yet again, he can’t bear to see Taehyung this way. Torn. Afraid. Small. And just so helpless. Jimin’s voice is very tender when he whispers to him, “You are very good for me.”
Taehyung puts up a fight, a very weak one, “I’m not.”
“Yes you are. I am in love with you, Taehyung, in the most maddening of passions,” Jimin’s smile is painful when he confesses in no uncertain terms, “From the day you told me of the heavens of your own little universe, I knew that I wanted to be a star in your world.”
“I’m afraid you already are.”
And as Jimin continues to look into the man’s eyes, he sees the universe, he sees himself then loses it in Taehyung’s entity. He interlocks both their hands and raises Taehyung’s hand to his mouth, kissing it with his eyes shut, and when Taehyung’s hands hold his face, Jimin ensures to leave his eyes sealed in an effort to squeeze the tears away. And with their hands interlocked, they do not fit together like halves of the same puzzle, not the way Jimin had imagined it would be. But he finds that he favors this better, the beauty and oneness that is engendered of their differences, the same that resulted in the uncontrollable sprout of their hearts’ yearning for the other.
Because they do not fit like pieces of the same puzzle but rather make of themselves their own imperfect and much more fervid puzzle.
“Of course you were,” is Seokjin’s answer to Jeongguk’s words that has somewhat become a daily ritual, a statement he constantly hears from the younger man, ‘I was with Taehyung.’ A time came where Seokjin began to grow upset that Jeongguk might enjoy Taehyung’s company more than he enjoyed his own brother’s but Jeongguk had merely laughed with his mouth full, sputtering food all over when Seokjin had asked, “Me or Taehyung?”
“Taehyung is my best friend. You are my brother. You are already at an advantage.”
Now Jeongguk is saying something and when Seokjin tunes in to it, it is with optimism he prays that he heard the boy incorrectly, “What did you just say?”
“I said I told Taehyung about my attraction to men!”
Seokjin slaps him.
The wind that customarily flows in through their cottage window discontinues and it is a momentary silence that fills the space between both men just before Seokjin bursts, “What is the matter with you?! I remember clearly I asked you not to speak of it to anyone. Do you disobey me now, is that what you do? You only listen to Taehyung now, is that it? If so, then go live with him and perhaps while at it, you can announce to everyone you meet what kind of man you are.”
Jeongguk’s eyes are wide, his brother’s words more hurtful than the burn to his cheeks, “Jin, I’m-”
“Leave my sight.”
“Go! I do not want to see you!”
And he hears Jeongguk’s strangled sobs as he stomps away and even from where the younger man is inside his room, Seokjin hears him cry his heart out. Ever since he took Jeongguk in, Seokjin had been in loco parentis of him; never had he once raised his hand on the boy and even as he remains furious, he finds that he is in just as much hurt.
Neither is aware of how much time passed but it is sundown when Seokjin quietly opens the door to Jeongguk’s room, finding the boy’s back to him as he lays still on his bed. Seokjin joins him, sitting by his side and moments fleet by before he lightly touches Jeongguk’s arm.
“Jeongguk,” Seokjin calls gently but the younger man shrugs his hand off, “Talk to me.”
Jeongguk pays him no attention and although Seokjin is unable to see his face, he can tell there is an angry pout on the boy’s mouth. The older man sighs and begins combing the strands of Jeongguk’s hair with his fingers, “I’m sorry for hitting you and saying those things but you have to understand that I was afraid and angry.”
“Why?” comes Jeongguk’s small voice.
“Because I am worried about you.”
Seokjin draws in a breath and continues to primp Jeongguk’s hair, neatly brushing it, “Men who love other men do not live the same way the rest of people do. The world does not favor such people, Jeongguk. You are not the first of your kind, there are so many men and women like you but they keep their nature secret. Do you know why?”
“Because the world hates us.”
“Right. Because the world hates us and it would do its damnedest to destroy us, to do such inhumane things to us simply for loving differently from the way they do.”
Seokjin sees the young man’s red and swollen eyes when Jeongguk finally turns to him and he reaches forward to wipe his face, placing a kiss on his forehead, “Seeing you cry breaks my heart, I am so sorry, Guk.”
Jeongguk’s arms encircle the man’s center as Seokjin runs a hand down his back, “I understand. You were right, Taehyung said the same.”
“Yes. He said the world is ugly and would strive to ensure people like me do not exist so I must be sure to keep silent of my nature.”
Seokjin’s frown is one of surprise and he reiterates, “He did?”
“Yes. I-I thought he would hate me but he only apologized for everything he said in the past and that I am a great man.”
Jeongguk says the last part with a huge grin and Seokjin smiles small, still confused but relieved and he cups his brother’s face, humming with approval, “Alright. But still, Jeongguk. You can not go about announcing the kind of man you are, it is dangerous. The world is dangerous.”
“Taehyung kept saying that.”
“And he’s right. The world will not accept people like you, like me, like Jimin or Namjoon.”
“Then we can change the world!”
Seokjin’s smile is painfully fond and he pushes Jeongguk’s hair off his forehead, gazing at the uncorrupted hope worn over the young man’s face, “When you’ve seen as much as I have, you will come to know that real life does not function that way. I understand your sentiments and I was once like you, passionate to make a change. But the world is a life-draining monster and you are fortunate if it does not kill you. Or worse, torture and make a scapegoat of you to silence others like you.”
“I vowed to myself that I will be a great man, Jin,” Jeongguk shifts from the man’s warm hands, and when Seokjin looks at him, he isn’t sure whether to feel the burst of pride at how the little boy he had found broken has grown to be a dignified man or whether to feel worried that the world might break his little boy again. Jeongguk isn’t finished, “I got to thinking a lot, I needed something to be passionate about. Do not misunderstand, I love the life you gave me here, I love the horses, and I thank whoever listens for making you the man who found me. But now I know my calling. A great man makes a difference in the world and until I make a change for myself, you, and other people like us, regardless how small, I shall not rest. Even if I die trying, I believe it would have been a life worth living. Because it wouldn’t just be for myself but also the ones I love and many others like me.”
Seokjin silently opens his arms and as always, Jeongguk doesn’t hesitate to run into them, and the older man shuts his eyes as he presses his lips to his brother’s hair, a tear squeezing through, “You have grown so brave and wise, little one, or perhaps I shouldn’t call you that anymore. I am very proud of you, Jeongguk.”
“I will always be your little one, Jin.”
Days evolved into weeks and visiting Taehyung’s cottage in the early evening progressed into a routine, incarnating the culmination of their days and their lives on the whole. Today, Jimin finds the man seated on his bed, back against the headboard and an open book in his hands. He quickly recognizes the brown leathered book as his and he groans out of embarrassment when Taehyung glances at him and beckons him over. With a pouty smile, Jimin hurries on, crawling forward between Taehyung’s legs and dropping a chaste kiss to his lips. As he begins to turn to sit, Taehyung’s hands stop him and pull him back to return his mouth on his. Jimin giggles and worms his arms around Taehyung’s neck, fingers digging up into his hair.
“If you had come any later, I mightn’t have lived.”
Jimin hums and as he ghosts his mouth over Taehyung’s, he asks quietly, “You missed me?”
A whisper. “Enough to be lethal.”
“Good,” Jimin meets Taehyung’s awaiting lips with a smile, both basking in the taste of one another, now at home with the other’s mouth, and when Taehyung’s hands find their place on Jimin’s waist, the man shudders at the warmth of haven Taehyung’s tiniest graze exudes as though he exists only wherever Taehyung makes contact with him.
“I told Namjoon I was coming to learn horse-riding from you,” Jimin manages to let out at a staccato pace, his words alternating with a drawn breath and a moist smack of he and Taehyung’s lips, both men floating and sinking into their abyss.
Taehyung lives off the oxygen Jimin spares him and he uses it to tease the smaller man, “You are becoming a liar, angioletto.”
“Hate the sin. Love the sinner.”
“No doubt, I am very much in love with this sinner. Come on, let us go learn horse-riding.”
They both ride on Durante and while at it, Jimin’s back is against Taehyung’s front with the latter in control of the horse’s reins. Jimin continues to press at Taehyung’s busy hands and the man understands his need right away. He wraps an arm around Jimin’s midriff, pressing the man against himself and Jimin’s head lolls back over Taehyung’s shoulder, eyes tracing the man’s features, and when Taehyung meets his eyes, he slouches his hat before placing a kiss on the bridge of Jimin’s nose. Jimin grins in satisfaction and watches as with one of Taehyung’s hands on Durante’s reins, they continue to ride farther away from the farmhouse, past the moor to the fields that further roll out towards the eastern hills and valley.
When Taehyung dismounts the horse, he turns to Jimin with outstretched hands and the man climbs down before entering Taehyung’s arms who carefully lowers him onto the meadow.
“I could do that myself.”
Taehyung does not tie Durante as Jimin had thought he would and instead, he lets the horse lounge around the pasture of green hues with trust that he wouldn’t wander too far. The pastureland is bathed a warm glowing orange by the scorched sky, predominantly the area of land directly hit from where the sun sits at the distant horizon. And it is just them two and the singing birds in the midst of green and golden brown wheat fields, with the only butterflies to be found helplessly fluttering in the pits of the two men.
Taehyung unrolls a white quilt onto the land and after he has it straightened, he lays onto it, gesturing at Jimin to join him. When the man does, it is with his head on Taehyung’s extended hand, and Jimin turns to him immediately. He sees Taehyung squinting at the sky where the all-watching sun sits, and Jimin buzzes, “How is it that you appear afraid of the sun?”
“I am either smitten or afraid of things much bigger than I am, and nay, the sun does not smite me.”
How ironic it is, Jimin thinks, that this man is afraid of something that is just like himself, incandescent and impassioned. Just the way Jimin sees the sun even without looking at it, is one and the same as how his mind envisions Taehyung even when he isn’t seeing him. Taehyung being so alike to the sun yet somehow fearful of it causes Jimin to wonder if Taehyung is perhaps in reality afraid of himself and the things within him.
Amid his thoughts, Jimin feels a small droplet on his face and he strains his eyes towards the sun that has further descended into the skyline, and as though mourning the sun’s absence, the clouds begin to shed their burden in the impingement of tears. The gentle innocent platter of the rain grows more vehement until all of their senses are invaded by the richness of the rain and the accompanying earthy scent. Jimin shouts, “What do we do?”
He turns to Taehyung who has his hand stretched out to Jimin, “May this cantankerous man have a dance with you?”
Jimin sputters a laugh and argues, “We’ll be sick.”
“Aye, we will.”
“I am abandoning my fine sensibility to accept. You should be thankful.”
With his amused eyes heatedly buried in Jimin’s, Taehyung raises the man’s hand to his lips, “Indeed, you have made me a very thankful man, angioletto.”
With their hands conjoined, and the other on the scruff of Taehyung’s neck, Jimin dances with him in the white noise and he laughs at the lack of rhythm in their steps, almost as though they are skipping around in the rain. With their eyes on each other, hair plastered to their foreheads, clothes drenched and soaked of adventure, and Taehyung’s hand on his waist, they dance to the song of the rain and the laden piano-like sounds of thunder, spinning one another around and Jimin’s hands fly to the ceaseless yet orderly pour of the sky when Taehyung raises him off his feet and gets his ears filled with his favorite sound. Jimin’s laugh.
By the time the fine rain has ended, the clouds are colored a depressed or rather an obscure shade, the men’s movements much slower in the aftermath of the clowdburst, the scent of delicious earth left in its wake as Jimin’s head rests against Taehyung’s broad chest, moving to the beat of his heart, eyes shut and in a state of untroubled happiness he has no recollection of ever experiencing. When Taehyung lights a cigar, Jimin plucks it from him first and places it between his own lips. With eyes buried in Taehyung’s, Jimin takes a drag and at once, he bursts into a fit of coughing.
“No. You suck gently,” Taehyung’s fingers travel down the man’s arm and upon reaching his hand, he takes the cigar from him. When Jimin’s cough subsides, Taehyung returns the cigar to the man’s mouth and repeats, “Gently.”
The cigar sits in a fine hold between Jimin’s plump lips and the man sucks on it according to Taehyung’s instructions, filling his mouth with tasty smoke and just as Jimin is about blowing it out, Taehyung stops him, “Hold it a little longer.”
Jimin does, fighting to hold back his smile so the smoke doesn’t escape, and the load of his work is lightened when Taehyung’s mouth seizes his and Jimin shares his aromatic smoke with the other man, and their tongues glide amid the trapped fog of their carnal desires.
And when their lips do part, Jimin meets Taehyung’s close watch through the freed smoke that floats between their faces.
“I love your eyes,” Jimin murmurs as he stares at them and he discerns when the side of Taehyung’s mouth twitches, “Especially when they are on me.”
Taehyung hums, “Is that so?”
“Yes, they’re very- intense.”
Jimin drops a kiss to Taehyung’s shut eye and in muted tones, he says, “And very enamored.” In a state of inflamed tenderness, Jimin returns his head to Taehyung’s shoulder and the latter’s arms around him are proprietorial as they commence into a tranquil moment of hushed whispers between themselves, words and secrets only to be heard and exchanged between two persons of intimate sentiments, between Jimin and Taehyung.
Yet even in sotto voce, the wind from the now immaculate green of the pine branches hears them and it carries the specific forlorn words as the plea of a lover to a beloved.
“I wish to be yours, to be wholly embodied in your existence.”
“Sei la mia vita, cuccore mio.”
Jimin senses Namjoon’s eyes on him as he roams the room, preparing for the night’s rest. Upon climbing onto the bed, he still feels the prick of needles against his skin at the man’s stare and finally Namjoon speaks, “I see you have grown out of your habit.”
Jimin turns his attention to the older man, a small smile at his lips, “Whatever do you mean?”
“You used to be very tactile with me, it seems to me to be in the past now.”
Jimin’s hand on Namjoon’s shoulder is rigid, a gauche turn to his wrist, and when he pats the man, it grows more at ease and less ungainly, “I do not think so. Come on now, Namjoon, we should go to sleep.”
“Namjoon,” Namjoon cocks his head, the taste of his name alien to his tongue, “It used to be ‘love.’”
Jimin snorts and his laugh is graceless, “You are thinking too much once again. What will you speak of next? I used to wear a red nightdress?”
Namjoon seems to think for a moment and he looks to Jimin with a low hiss, “Come to think of it, you used to. Now you only wear a pink or blue one.”
Jimin lets out a chuckle before reaching forward to place a kiss on the man’s cheeks, “Goodnight, love.”
“There it is.”
It is with a soft smile Jimin places another kiss to his cheek before rolling to his side and bundling himself under the bed cover, eyes fluttering close and a smile gracing the sides of his lips at the onset of a dream pervaded by a particular cantankerous man.
One evening, Jimin has barely made it into Taehyung’s cottage when the man’s hands are on his waist, raising him into the air and spinning him around with a thrilled laugh, peppering kisses all over Jimin’s face who spurts into an outburst of giggles, holding Taehyung’s jaw away from his ear.
“YOU are a splendid writer,” Taehyung enthuses, eyes a sparkle that Jimin almost swims in their attractions, “I promise I never doubted you, merely that you surpass my beliefs and trust in you. You, angioletto mio, are an artist, AN ARTIST. I know some publishers, very thin-skinned and uptight men, even the kindest of my words leaves them seething, hence we aren’t on the best of terms but that- that! THAT is neither here nor there and I swear upon my life that I can and will bring something about. I refuse to accept the world has not been delivered by your pen, your voice. We need to deliver the world from its misery!”
“Tae!” Jimin struggles to follow his words and his head falls back into a laugh as Taehyung carries him yet again, the pitch of his laugh a choral music to the man’s ears.
“Come with me!” Taehyung stumbles out of the cottage, pulling Jimin by the arm and infecting him with his delirium so that Jimin has a giddy and unexplainable grin over his own face.
“Where are we going?!”
“To deliver the world from its misery, and make you not only the greatest ballerino but the greatest writer of all time, hurry on!”
“And where is that?”
“What has that to do with the river?!” Jimin bursts into a laugh, running alongside Taehyung before reaching forward to kiss him.
“Hush,” Taehyung whispers against his lips, both men feeling each other’s smile, the skies completely dark now and the stars peeking out of hiding. But Taehyung needs them no more, doesn’t wait for them, not like he used to. He’s found his own stella that dazzles much brighter, much prettier and he races with his stella through the dark woods, both their hands pushing the branches off their paths.
Jimin leaps into a quick run ahead of Taehyung and he cackles like a child the moment Taehyung begins chasing him, their loud footfalls silencing the crickets as they push and jump through overgrown shrubbery. Upon reaching the river, Jimin immediately strips his clothes, peeling them off with eagerness and once he is bare, he jumps into the water with an unrestrained shriek.
His head drifts upward at once and he sucks in a breath, hands pushing back his hair. He sees Taehyung undressing himself, then also jumping into the water. Before he can rise up, Jimin presses Taehyung’s shoulder downward and he guffaws when Taehyung loops the man’s legs around his neck and brings them both above the water so that Jimin is seated on his shoulders. Jimin howls into the night as he raises his hands sideways to the air, soaring to a place of no worries with the man he is excruciatingly in love with. He screams when Taehyung falls back into the water so they are both crashing and water is heavily splashed all around them, more echoes of their own laughter blending together like perfect tunes of an instrument.
They kiss. Above and below the waters, on air and land, between the clouds and around the heavens, of breath and without. Soon, it is with gleeful smiles they quieten and moderate their excitements, now merely basking in the solitude of the night and the company of the other.
Jimin’s head tilts to the side, breath hitching as Taehyung’s kisses invade his neck, his own hands on the man’s chest, fiery touches and flaming kisses. As Jimin stands in the water, back against the shore, Taehyung cages him in his width and kisses down on him, Jimin’s arms now locked around his neck and hanging onto him as they taste, lick and bite.
A hand on Jimin’s hip, Taehyung’s hips press against his and he holds their proximity, his naked flesh against Jimin’s, provoking an influx of moans from the man as he slowly grinds against him, their jaws depending as they get enfolded by the heat that floats upwards from the activity of their hips rubbing together.
Moments after, Jimin’s fingers are scratching through the ground from where he is laid on the earth behind the concealment of trees and shrubbery, the skies the only witness of Taehyung’s body overhanging his as they merge and fuse into one, the skies the only witness of how Taehyung swallows Jimin’s cries as he snaps inside of him and he stretches the man’s walls, digs into him and finds even the deepest corners of his substance.
And Jimin holds the sides of Taehyung’s head with such care as though it is the universe and perhaps because it is his universe, his fingers lost in the island of the man’s hair as Taehyung’s mouth bare their love into his neck while Jimin’s legs engird the man’s hips between him, their erotic tunes wedded with their whispers of love declarations and other venereal expressions of desire in the silence of the woods as they consume one another, Taehyung’s breath heavy as the tight molten walls of Jimin deranges and drains away the littlest remaining trace of decorum in his flesh.
With his fingers dug into Taehyung’s shoulders, Jimin’s head falls back against the earth, mouth profusely verbose with fluent lustful notes. He feels himself pulsate as the rate of Taehyung’s hips build up quicker and more concupiscent, both their pants growing heavier, their minds swirling and full with the other, alongside the consistent and rhythmic sound of slapping skins prior a shrill from Jimin as he climbs into his apex and presses Taehyung down to himself, legs inching wider apart and multiple cries more unintelligible.
“Yes, yes,” Jimin cries, his gasp sharp as he clings onto Taehyung with might and main, “You feel so good, Tae.”
“Yes baby, so good.”
Taehyung feels Jimin’s hand at his backside, pulling him even closer so they are flush against each other and the only thing between them is their weightless desire; he draws in a breath when Jimin’s other hand presses and pinch at his nipples, rolling it between his fingers. Jimin’s lips tremble underneath Taehyung's, his entire body trembles underneath Taehyung's, beneath this man that has ripped Jimin of all cognitive abilities and eloquence so that all he can think is ‘yours yours yours yours’. As they rock and sway against one another, all he can think, can bring himself to plead and to cry out to the man in the midst of his pleasure is “Make me yours, Taehyungie. I want to be yours.”
Jimin’s tears and drool mix as one, eyes snapping up into the skies before rolling even further back, cries steadily morphing to a screech just as he erupts into his climax in the pictorial of white explosion. Taehyung’s breath stutters and in his turgid quiddity, his movements are pressured by an ascent to his peak. As he falls to his elbows, it is with the unconsciousness of a quiver and a choked groan of pleasure, his hips agile in aid to the sudden burst of seed into the man under him like a torrent through steamy rocks, and he lays against him in the aftermath of his apotheosis.
Cold flames awake inside of Jimin at the feel of Taehyung’s thrills flow in wavelets, the feeling piercingly warm and beautiful, and it is with gentle rotation of hips both men ride their highs. When Taehyung leans back to gaze at Jimin, he sees his eyes hazed and wide. The man puckers his mouth for a kiss and Taehyung delivers, holding him tightly to himself. And Jimin feels things, paradise he’s never experienced, an extent of love he hadn’t imagined himself capable of, these overwhelming emotions at being enveloped in the man’s limbs, while leaving his jaw open and bare for Taehyung’s loving kisses.
Like roots entwined, they lay in the dark woods under the knowing stare of the moon, and nothing else matters. Just two men. In their own little world of sun, moon and stars. And that is all that could ever matter. Would ever matter. And Jimin’s lips against Taehyung’s ear ensures the man is aware of it.
When tranquility encases them, this being the closest to heaven either men will ever be, that is when Jimin hears Taehyung’s quiet answer to his pleas, “Mine.”
Weeks advanced into months and Taehyung found happiness in the form of a man. The act of not thinking brought to him the joy he’s heard whispered to exist, found along some lines of pages in his books. Although Socrates mightn’t be of the same mind as he or concur with how he’s found his own happiness and might even question if it genuinely is happiness but those are burdens of people who think, burdens of thinkers. Taehyung is not a thinker. Not anymore. His morality has undergone changes, redefined many concepts but some still remain the same; the deciphering of wrong and right. But he did not care, could not care, refused to care.
All he cares about in this moment is awakening this boy with a colossal wave of messy hair. “Awake!” He bellows at an asleep Jeongguk upon entering his room, marching through the planks of the floor at an easy stride.
Jeongguk groans and turns around, rolling off the bed and managing to peer through his left eye, “Tae?”
“For what reason? It is much too early.”
“I have come to challenge you!”
Jeongguk wears a smile at that and he looks at the man, finding a smile just as wide on Taehyung’s face who raises an inviting brow. Jeongguk’s grin grows cheeky, “To a turf?”
“I see you do not mind a beatdown even in the forenoon.”
Taehyung hoots with laughter, “That was my line, skunk. Get ready, I will be waiting outside with your brother. No doubt, he will plead on your behalf, ‘Do go easy on him, will you?’”
Jeongguk rises to his feet and with a crack of his neck, he tells the man, “I think we can both come to agree that I will be the one going easy on you. Get ready for the defeat of a lifetime.”
An entertained smile. “We’ll see about that.”
When he vacates the room to rejoin Seokjin who he had pressured into being a witness to him defeating his younger brother at horse racing, the older man receives him brightly and just before they step out the cottage, Seokjin’s hand gripes Taehyung’s arm, holding him back. And when Taehyung fixes him a puzzled glance, Seokjin says in a whisper, “Thank you.”
Upon hearing commotion outside, Jimin leaves the farmhouse, heading to the fields where he finds Seokjin straining to look into the distance, the man dissolving into laughter. Jimin is unaware of the smile that worms onto his own face as he makes his presence known, “Is something happening?”
Seokjin looks elated to see Jimin and pulls him closer before pointing to the men riding horses yards away, the gallops thumping against the earth as their silhouettes gradually grow closer, laughter and barks, “Yah! Hyah!!”
“Those two are racing one another yet again. They insisted on having me come watch.”
Jimin squints into the remoteness, “Who do you suppose will win?”
“I doubt it,” Jimin mutters, arms folding over his chest, “Taehyung is incredibly fast.”
“We shall see then.”
Both their horses stomp forward at the exact same time with a deadly amount of force that Seokjin steps aside at once, dragging Jimin with him, both waving off the dust from the earth that sweeps upwards. Taehyung and Jeongguk pull the reins of their horses to a halt and as they turn at heads to one another, it is to gloat. Even so, Jeongguk can not keep from noting, “What the devil did you do to Durante? He never used to be so vigorous.”
Taehyung rubs his horse’s mane with affection, “He only needed someone to believe in him, didn’t you, beautiful?” It is when both men turn to find Seokjin that Taehyung spots Jimin and with guidance, his horse hooves nearer to the man.
A deft leap and Taehyung’s leg is hitting the ground, pressing onto his hat as he moves closer to the man who’s had his eyes on him all along. “Signore,” Taehyung greets him with a nod.
“Signore,” Jimin returns the acknowledgement with a polite bow, face forced into a deadpan, “I had thought you’d finish first, how shameful.” They are both conscious of the other two men’s attention on them as they speak.
“I didn’t finish second either.”
“That isn’t anything to be thrilled by.”
Taehyung steps nigh and his voice softens, a tone down, “What do you consider thrilling?”
Jimin’s chin tips aloft, “Nothing less than a victory.”
“I shouldn’t let you down then.”
“No, you really shouldn’t.”
Jimin finds that teasing Taehyung this way is a real thrill and from the way the man’s eyes sharpen like a dagger into his, Jimin begins to worry that this might begin to appear unfitting to the other two men watching them. Taehyung whispers into his ear, “This one’s for you.”
He then turns to Jeongguk, “Come on, lad! A rematch.”
“Accepted! Now let me give you a real defeat,” Jeongguk climbs back onto his horse swiftly and Taehyung mirrors him.
Taehyung returns his eyes to Jimin and with a click of tongue, Durante springs to life. The horse gives a whinny then leaps into a dash to catch up with Jeongguk who already bolted ahead of them towards the wheat-freckled fields. Their horses race against the earth at a rapid momentum, kicking dirt behind them as the trees tear past, the pounding of hooves and the whistles of the wind in their ears and even then, Jeongguk still extends his arm to Taehyung’s face, blocking his sight.
“That’s dangerous!” Seokjin shouts but is silenced when Taehyung does the same to the younger man, both shoving hands in the other’s face, their laughter spreading to Jimin who can not resist laughing along.
When they do make their way back, Taehyung is the one who barely comes first and once he draws Durante to a stop, he jumps down the horse to Jimin with a self-satisfied smile, “I’m the victor, are you thrilled yet?”
“What else could you possibly want from me- Signore?” Jimin lets out low, biting back his smile as he catches the way Taehyung narrows his eyes at him.
“I deserve some black tea at the very least.”
“I could do that.”
Taehyung looks back to Jeongguk, “You lost so you take care of the horses,” then to Seokjin, “That was me going easy on him by the way, I’ll leave first.”
The moment Jimin shuts the door to the farmhouse, he is trapped by Taehyung who carries him and hisses, “A little?” Jimin giggles and locks his legs around the man’s waist, ridding Taehyung of his hat before pressing his lips down to the man's, “An empty rhetoric. I am very thrilled.”
“How about I show it to you instead?” He kisses the words into Taehyung’s mouth, humming when the man holds him against the door, a growing rhythm of tongues chasing, passions igniting, and it is with primal desire their lips are unable to part as though it is their only source of breath and not the contrary. And each kiss is more suffocating than the previous, but even so, they rush after the other’s mouth dreading the single transient second of not being intertwined with the other’s essence. Jimin crashes into the warmth of Taehyung’s hard hands with hopes of never getting dug out, and the rushing sweep of intensity causes him to hold onto him in a swirling world where the only thing stable is this man and him alone. And in this moment, they could be fooled to believe they were in the middle of an ocean; they’d see the perfect convolutions of blue and white in the clouds, they’d feel the zephyr drifting amid their hair, hear the gentle ripples of the open water, and they’d kiss one another like it is their only bet of survival.
They both begin staggering, Taehyung struggling to get them to the kitchen even as he is blind to anything but the man in his arms and it isn’t until his hands begin thrashing about that Jimin looks into his surroundings, his voice coming breathless, “Here? Why?”
Taehyung’s hands find what he is hunting before holding it to Jimin’s sight who grins widely and colors just ever slightly at the oil.
From all other corners of the house, the only sound to be heard is the endless squeaking of the bed-frame and perhaps even more deafening are the series of cries tumbling over Jimin’s tongue as he rides and gallops atop the man he is saddled over, his hands against the headboard aiding his movement as he bestrides Taehyung, the man deep inside of him, and each time he sits flush against the man’s hips, he finds much more cavernous depth to himself, Taehyung filling and penetrating every nook to the hilt.
Taehyung’s hands find their place on Jimin’s narrow waist and he guides him down, groaning in the hollow of Jimin’s pleasures. The sensitivities of Jimin enveloping, squeezing and clenching around him crazes his senses that it is with an urgent need Taehyung raises his hips off the bed to drive within and further into Jimin’s chasm. The man’s hands fall to Taehyung’s chest for balance, body shivering above him as he rolls down just as passional to meet his fervent thrusts. Jimin goes down to kiss him and Taehyung sweeps back the man’s hair, mouthing at his lips, “So beautiful, angel.”
He returns to his knees, pulling Taehyung to his chest, leading the man’s mouth to his nipples, and Taehyung’s lips take them in, steadfastly sucking on them while tenderly biting them, all of his chest, the skin at his collarbone, then up to suck at his lips, licking off his dribble and then hauling him into an embrace, the man’s grunts at his ears as the movements of Taehyung’s hips unfalter, eagerly chasing after their pinnacle.
“Tae, can you–” Jimin sucks in a breath as Taehyung dives right at the precise spot and causes him to lose his fluency so that all he can make out are sharp pants.
“Can I what, baby?” Taehyung asks with the barest breath he has left and when he thumbs at Jimin’s tip, the man purrs, his shoulders trembling as he melts into a puddle in Taehyung’s hold.
“Can you call me that–”
“Call you what?”
“Your– your little angel.”
Taehyung croons and finds Jimin’s lips, holding it captive with his so he can speak the words into his mouth, “Angioletto mio.”
And with a cry in Taehyung’s mouth, Jimin’s body gives in and he leaps into his peak, the world spinning while he quivers, his orgasm tearing through him at an impetus where all he can manage to do is consistently mumble gibberish. Following right after, Taehyung finishes inside of him, loud groans at the overwhelming waves of ecstasy. Few more strokes, their mouths hover untouched, merely giving and receiving breath, and then without moving, he holds Jimin, kissing his cheek while stroking his arm, both remaining silently satisfied in their favorite place.
And not until Taehyung hears a sniff does he move, pulling Jimin’s shoulder back to look at him. His heart shatters at the sight of the man in tears, “Why do you cry? Did I hurt you?"
Jimin shakes his head.
“Speak to me, angioletto, what is it?”
“I–” Jimin’s face crumbles and with his mouth downturned, another outpour of tears flow, his hands darting to wipe them away, “I imagined what it would be like if I didn’t have you and I couldn’t see it– my life, I mean. I couldn’t see my life without you and I don’t– I can’t explain why I am in tears. I’m just here and you– you’re here and you love me, and I don't know why you do and I can't even think what I would be without you, I just want you always with me because I am stupidly and irrepressibly in love with you, and I do not want a life without you in it. I am stupidly and– I already said that but I– I just love you so much, Taehyungie, so so much.”
All Jimin hears is his own faint snuffle and afterwards, he receives quiet. He wipes his tears so he can properly see the man under him, and he finds Taehyung smiling, obviously teasing him. Jimin glares at him and hits his chest before hiding his face into the man’s neck, hearing Taehyung’s laugh resonate through his chest.
“Do not make sport of me!”
“You are driving me crazy, Jimin.”
Taehyung kisses his earlobe, tugging it, “You tempt me.”
Jimin shuts his eyes, taking in the rich scent of Taehyung and their lovemaking as he mouths at his neck, “How do I tempt you?”
“You tempt me to take you this instant, away from here and never look back once.”
Jimin leans back to meet Taehyung’s endeared eyes, the man still stroking his sides, “I do not see my life without you either.” Jimin’s eyes begin to brim yet again and Taehyung’s smile is tender when he reaches forward to kiss the man’s teary eyes, “You are my greatest treasure. Tesoro mio. I have my life in the image of a man, Jimin, in your image. Every so often, I could radically make myself believe that my life only began a year ago when I stepped foot into this farmhouse and met you. The day I do not have you is the day I am damned, and I will merely be living with no breath inside of me. Non posso vivere senza te, angioletto, ti amo tanto e non potrò mai smettere d’amarti. Till my last breath, Jimin, till my very last breath.”
In his 26 years, Taehyung has never meant a single word he spoke more than in this veritable moment, eyes locked in the man who has taken every absolute control of his existence.
As another runnel of tears trickle down his cheeks, Jimin‘s lids flutter close but not before puckering his lips for a kiss, and it is with a small laugh that Taehyung kisses him full on the mouth, tastes his tears, his love, him. Jimin’s smaller hands grip Taehyung’s jaw as their souls meet at their lips and even the words ‘I’m in love with you’ do not seem enough anymore. It evokes memories of their first kiss and it was then when Jimin had a taste, he knew he would never have enough of the man. But when Taehyung wipes his tears, whispers sweet nothings in his ear, kisses his eyes and cheeks, then presses him to his heart, it feels just enough.
June 1, 1868
I could put my pen to paper and scribble on for hours and it would be a single name repeated over and again, or a poem of him being my very own star. My entire days, thoughts, life is filled by him, his smile, his laugh, his words, his every minutiae, his eyes when they meet mine. And I could speak for as long as a man could just to let known to him what my feelings are and even then, I wouldn’t have done my heart justice. I am a man who has dared to love another and upon this have I discovered the most exquisite treasure of happiness. It is true what they say after all, the life of a non thinker is free. Thinkers are prisoners, in irons, under lock and key of their own thought flows. Thinking is my ruination as I never learned to do it in moderation. Now I do not wish to think anymore, and if at all, it is of the man that occupies and warms my dreams, my existence, my bed.
Except that even now, I am not in control of the questions that bombard me; the questions of wrong and right. One can not change a leopard’s spots. Hence even while I am un-thinking, I am still thinking of the real reasons I swear not to think again. Because I know that my acts are immoral, not for I have admired another man but because I have admired a man in an amorous involvement with another. For my own happiness, I have fooled another, I have betrayed a friend who also considers me his. And once more, the questions of wrong and right return to me and I am forced into thought, I am forced into my shackles. Do I carry on with a love affair while I smile in the face of my friend as though I do not steal from him when he turns the other way. How has something that has brought me perfect happiness caused me to be a dread to another. But what am I to do? I have no life without him. I have gone from showing him a bit of my world to having him become the entirety of it. To be without him is to cut out all reasons and fount to live. Yet do I think of my heart alone while unfairness is being delivered to a kind-hearted man?
I suppose while my morality has undergone a metamorphosis, it has not left me. I am still aware of what is wrong and which is right. And I know that my duplicitous doings and disloyalty to that man are in no form right. And the question is what do I do? For how long do I be a two-faced man? What are my possibilities? Which do I opt for? Who am I as a person?
Yet again, I am afeared.