Taehyung breathes slowly, calmly, his eyes following his acrylic-stained index finger as he glides it across the canvas with utmost concentration.
It’s probably late. He has been locked up in his art studio, the one in the apartment he bought himself last year, for hours, just listening to old music and painting with his fingers to his heart’s content. The smell of paint and the familiar beats coming from the speakers are therapeutic, and Taehyung feels so peaceful, so focused right now, tracing the curve of a blue moon over dry white paint, that when the loud screech of the bell rings loudly his heart almost jumps out his chest.
“ Shit —,” he curses under his breath, pulling his hand back instinctively. He didn’t ruin the painting, thankfully, but he swears to murder whoever is at the door for breaking his inspiration.
Getting up and exiting his windowless studio, Taehyung notices that it is late.
Half the sky is dark purple, the Han river a navy blue sprinkled with the yellowish lights of the high rises on its other side. Only then he realizes he has been locked up in his studio for hours and hasn’t turned a single light on in his apartment. The hallway and the barely furnished living room are as dark as the sky outside, everything dyed violet.
The doorbell rings again twice when he’s only a step away from the door, and he hisses at the shrill sound— god , so impatient, it’s gotta be Jungkook. Or Seokjin-hyung. Maybe Jimin, Taehyung thinks hopefully, except that’s impossible because he’s all the way in Busan…
Jungkook has been inviting himself over every other day so it’s most likely him, and Taehyung loves him, he does, but he swears he’s going to kick his impatient ass for interrupting his peaceful me time if it’s him this time.
But when he looks through the peephole, pouting in annoyance, it’s not Jungkook but Jimin’s smiley face he sees— and he gasps and beams at once, shocked in the best of ways.
Because Jimin— Jimin was supposed to be gone until tomorrow, wasn’t he? He was spending time with his family and his friends back home and was set to return to Seoul tomorrow afternoon, which is why Taehyung has been a little bit mopey.
He’s been gone for seven days, far too long if you ask him and the Jimin-shaped campfire in his chest, so as soon as the door is out of the way, he throws his arms tightly around his friend’s narrower shoulders.
Jimin hugs him tightly right back, taking a half step back for balance and laughing easily against Taehyung’s shoulder. Taehyung wishes he wasn’t so mushy, so overwhelmingly weak for Jimin, but the light laughter really feels like music to his ears, especially after so long.
“Taetae! Wow, what’s with this warm welcome! Missed me this much?”
“Of course! I’m glad to see you! Hey!” Taehyung pulls back to look at Jimin, wrapping his fingers around his arms, and his heart sighs. It always does that when he looks at Jimin. It has been doing it for years, so Taehyung is somewhat used to it now. “I thought you were coming back tomorrow?”
Jimin nods, smiling up at Taehyung. He looks sunny and fresh, and Taehyung knows just by looking at him that he had a good time. They also texted and talked on the phone almost every night and morning he was gone, but Taehyung would take the physical proof of Jimin’s comfortable happiness – his loose shoulders, his melodic voice, his dazzling smile – over his texts any day.
“I mean, I was,” Jimin replies, “but I got a little bit bored because the weather was terrible, and all my friends were busy with school stuff or work… That’s why I figured I’d come back today instead. I stopped at the dorm first to drop my stuff, and then I got some take-out and wine before I came here. You know I never show up with my hands empty.”
Jimin beams, lifting a plastic bag and showing it off to Taehyung, but he raises an eyebrow when he glances over Taehyung’s shoulder. “Why is it so dark in your place? Were you sleeping? Did I wake you?”
Taehyung shakes his head.
“Nope! Just painting in my studio! I just lost track of time and I — oh ,” he stops himself with a gasp, suddenly remembering he was finger-painting and he just impulsively hugged Jimin. He lets go of Jimin’s arms and stares down at his stained palms and fingers, bright blues and reds and greens all over his skin. “ Uh-oh …”
“Uh-oh?” Jimin asks, tilting his head in confusion. He also laughs in confusion when Taehyung turns him (with his elbows) to check his back.
He winces at the paint on Jimin’s shoulders. Then he throws a glance at the handle of the door and winces again when he sees that is painted too.
“Um,” Taehyung starts hesitantly. “Don’t get mad, but I’m gonna need you to take your jacket off, like, right now so I can put it in the washing machine…”
“In the washing machine…? Tae…?”
All Taehyung has to do is lift his stained palms and show them to Jimin for him to understand.
“I’m really sorry, Jiminie, I got a little too excited,” Taehyung apologizes for the nth time, lying on his bed, looking between his computer on his lap and the multiplayer videogame on the screen and Jimin as he puts one of Taehyung’s hoodies on.
It was late when Jimin rang his doorbell, but it’s even later now. Taehyung already threw Jimin’s jacket into the washing machine and already hung it to dry. They ate the food and drank the wine Jimin brought along, and while Taehyung cleaned up his studio a little and went downstairs to walk Yeontan around the building complex, Jimin took a shower.
Taehyung has no clue what time it is.
He just knows that it’s late.
He just knows that time always flies when he’s with Jimin.
“I told you it’s no big deal already,” Jimin reassures him again, ruffling his bleached wet hair with a towel before discarding it at the end of the bed carefreely. Taehyung doesn’t mind he does that; his own towel from his morning shower is still curled up and humid in the corner of the room. He’ll take care of that later. Right now, what he has to mind are his eyes’ attempts at steering away from the game and looking at Jimin as he crawls next to him on the bed.
Looking at Jimin as he makes himself comfortable against Taehyung like he belongs there.
(And Taehyung is pretty sure he does, has been sure of it for years, but he has yet to say it out loud.)
He is about to apologize one more time as Jimin rests his head on his shoulder, wet hair tickling his neck and making him shiver a little, but Jimin beats him to it.
“You’re playing with army, right?”
Taehyung sighs a little sigh of relief, though he is extremely aware of Jimin’s breath gusting his cheek.
“It’s so cute that you always play with them.”
“They’re really fun to play with, though sometimes they get a little overprotective, like, they jump in front of the monsters for me and get themselves killed and stuff.”
Jimin chuckles. “They just love you and wanna take care of you. They’re so cute.”
Taehyung can’t help himself from smiling fondly at that. On the screen, a sprite with the username KSJmyLove is offers him a few health potions, but Taehyung declines them and types ‘ don’t worry ’ into the chat.
“What a selfless hero, our lovely Taehyungie,” Jimin says then, bringing his hand to squeeze Taehyung’s cheek. Taehyung’s heart gives a flip and for a moment it’s hard to breathe. In that lapses of time, his literal army of armys fail to rescue him and his character dies, the screen fading to black.
Jimin beams at him and then pulls the laptop from him.
“Lemme play too. It looks fun.”
“You’ll get killed right away, but sure, show me what you can do,” Taehyung complies easily. Now it’s he who has to accommodate his body to fit against Jimin’s as he uses the computer, and he does so happily, allowing the side of his face to press against Jimin’s hair even if it tickles and gets his skin wet.
“I’ve a plan, check this out.”
Jimin’s plan turned out to make his character uncharacteristically say ‘ hi ♡ I’m back~~~~! ’ the moment he respawned right before he started shooting at everybody, enemy creatures and army allies alike. It was chaotic but hilarious. Armys in the game got all offended and sassy in the chat (rightfully, if you ask Taehyung), and started shooting back at Jimin, which had him killed in under three minutes.
It was fun, and Taehyung’s sides hurt from laughing so much, but as Jimin put the computer away, he pulled up Weverse. He thanked army for playing with him and made sure to tell them Jimin hijacked his computer and turned the game into a chaotic all-vs-all, but that they both love and purple them very much.
Jimin wrote a message of his own, and before their apps could crash and their phones overheat from the influx of messages and notifications, they put them away over the nightstand.
It’s around then that the rest of the world disappears.
Taehyung is curled up on his side, head resting on the slightly wet pillow, and Jimin is in the exact same position facing him. Yeontan is snoring somewhere and Jimin’s watch on top of the dresser is ticking away. There is also the sound of cars zooming by dozens of meters below and the weird random buzz of the refrigerator in the kitchen, but it all feels quiet somehow. His and Jimin’s breaths are the loudest sounds in the world for all Taehyung knows, and they’re soft and steady.
It’s so different from when he was in his studio just a few hours ago, drowning in his old tunes and painting pretty things.
Now he doesn’t want to create, he just wants to contemplate.
Kim Taehyung loves Park Jimin.
It’s been years, and still the feeling is there, burning just as bright and strong.
Or maybe even brighter and stronger than years ago, because Taehyung has felt himself progressively caving under the colossal weight of his own feelings. Just now, he felt like his heart was about to burst just by watching Jimin shoot monsters in a computer game, his face splitting into two with the force of his smile. So Taehyung feels a bit dumb, a bit naïve – he knows it’s written all over his face, he just knows it, but at times he can’t bring himself to care because he is just so damn happy all the time when Jimin is around, and what is wrong with that?
And it’s different now. Taehyung doesn’t really restrain himself from showering Jimin with affection anymore, and doing that has made him realize that Jimin has never restrained himself to begin with. His affection has been a constant and reassuring presence for over seven years, and Taehyung loves him so much.
He loves him so much he gets thrills, his skin vibrates with excitement, and his pupils melt when he’s with him, and it’s obvious that it’s beyond his control now, but still.
“So… you missed me, then, huh?” Jimin asks softly, a smile that is somehow both cheeky and gentle at the same time on his lips. Taehyung nods, the side of his face rubbing against the humid pillow, but he doesn’t say anything. Jimin continues, lip quirking upwards a little more. “It was just a week, though.”
“I know. I always miss you, though,” Taehyung counters honestly. His deep voice rumbles a little louder than Jimin’s, but Jimin doesn’t seem to mind. Taehyung has always thought they go together perfectly. He often wishes the company could give a serious, professional listen to the demos and covers they have recorded together for fun. Recording and releasing Friends was amazing, a heart-moving, thrilling, and beautiful experience, but he still resents what happened with that Christmas song a few years ago…
Jimin smiles turns softer then.
“Me too,” he says. “I mean, I missed my family and friends and had fun spending time with them, but I kept thinking things like, ‘oh, Tae would have fun here’, or ‘Tae would like this’, ‘Tae would love this dish’— you know, that kind of thing,” he laughs to himself, the sound soft and a little sheepish. “And, by the way, my parents said they want you to come around next time, if you want. And if you can, I mean— I know we’re often busy, but, ah, now that the tour’s off and we got more extra time…”
Taehyung stops Jimin’s little rambling words by putting his fingertips on his lips and smiling.
“ Please take me with you next time,” he laughs softly. “I’ll take you with me when I visit my family, too. Honestly? It’s not been that busy lately, and I didn’t get much done here aside from that OST, so I don’t think it’s a bad idea. A change of air is good for creativity, Joonie-hyung says…”
“A change of Scenery , you could say…?”
Taehyung pouts at Jimin who is smirking against his fingers, and he makes a move to pinch his cheeks in retaliation for his pun, but Jimin stops him by wrapping his hand around his wrist and keeping it between them.
It’s easy, almost natural for their fingers to fall into place between one another’s.
Jimin is smiling, he’s smiling so pretty, and Taehyung wants to get a little bit closer and hug him, so he does exactly that, except it’s a loose hug, just his free arm draped over Jimin’s side. It’s all it takes to Jimin snuggle closer as well, just a tiny bit. Taehyung’s eyes don’t cross when he looks at Jimin’s eyes yet – that’s how he knows it’s a safe distance.
Safe is a stupid concept, isn’t it? He feels braver and safer and happier like this than he does by himself. It’s ironic considering their careers and who they are and all that, but the closer they are, the safer Taehyung feels. A random memory pops into Taehyung’s brain, reminding him of that time Jimin and he laid together in bed just like this, a sleeping Hoseok a few meters away from them while they talked about love in whispers.
They were roommates, then. Taehyung didn’t have his own apartment, then, and neither did any of them. That much has changed, but Taehyung’s feelings are still the same. Jimin laying beside him is still the same. Their hands linked together are still the same.
Taehyung takes a heavy breath, his ribcage almost crumbling from the inner pressure of the gigantic, all-encompassing feelings in his chest.
“Hey, Jimin…” he says, slowly. Jimin hums questioningly, his pretty eyes wide awake despite the late hour, both of them completely focused on him. It’s not as intimidating or scary as it could be, nothing about Jimin could be scary to him at this point, but he still hesitates a little before talking. “I think… I wanna tell you something.”
“Okay… I’m all ears Taehyungie, y’know that”, he replies. “Is it bad?”
Taehyung shakes his head. “No, no. It’s actually a little silly? I don’t know,” he laughs a little, and Jimin smiles, visibly relaxing.
“Ah, perfect then. Shoot.”
“’Kay. It’s just…” he juggles the words in his head, trying to find the perfect ones, but then he decides to just go for it. “Do you remember that time a few years ago when we watched a movie - I think it was The Notebook for like the millionth time -, and after it finished we were just like this, and then you asked me if I’d ever been in love with someone and I said I didn’t know?”
Jimin blinks at him.
Taehyung blinks back.
Did he speak too fast? Or maybe he doesn’t remember.
He rushes to add, “well, you probably don’t remember because it was a long time ago, and it was really late, and nothing even happened, but…”
“No, no,” Jimin cuts him off, chuckling softly. “No, I do remember. It wasn’t that long ago, Tae.”
“Three years is a long time,” Taehyung defends, pouting. “For us, especially. Us, as in, all seven of us. It’s been a freaking lifetime since 2017, you can’t say it hasn’t.”
“Okay, you’re right, that’s true. A lot has happened since then,” Jimin concedes, but soon his smile fades slightly and it’s like he sobers up. His hand is warm and soft in Taehyung’s and he doesn’t seem like he’s going to take it away, but he sounds a little more cautious when he asks. “But… what about then? What made you think of that?”
Taehyung licks his lips, thinking, though it’s not like he has an excuse as to why he thinks about that. He just does because he likes thinking of intimate conversations with Jimin, but it’s not like he will just go tell him that.
“Oh. I, uh, I don’t know… Nothing specific, I guess? I think about it every now and then, the question stuck in my mind, you know? And just now I remembered… So, I thought it would be fair to tell you that I… lied.”
Jimin’s eyes widen a little at that and he tilts his head as best as he can in a horizontal position.
“I guess you could say I acted , if you wanna, so it doesn’t sound so terrible and immoral,” Taehyung fusses. “The point is I wasn’t honest. I told you I didn’t know when I did know, and now I wanted to come clean about it and tell you that.”
Jimin nods slowly almost solemnly.
Taehyung sees him taking a little breath before replying.
“O...kay? That’s good. So, you know what it feels like, then?”
Taehyung pauses to look at Jimin, to feel his heart pounding in his chest to a happy rhythm and feel the warmth of their fingers where they are connected between them.
“I totally do, yeah. I know all about it, I think. Back then, but also now. It hasn’t gone away, you know? I don’t think it will.”
At that, Jimin smiles, something knowing in his eyes.
“Ah, so you’ve been Mr. I Know It All About Love all along but you never said a thing?”
Taehyung returns Jimin’s smile.
“I don’t know about that…”
Jimin laughs softly and at this point, Taehyung feels calm. Content. His shoulders feel a little lighter, actually. He hasn’t confessed to anything, nothing exactly , but for some reason Jimin seems to be perfectly in tune with him, and it’s like he knows what’s really, truly hiding beneath Taehyung’s words and he doesn’t mind it, for lack of a better word.
“Y’know, Tae?” Jimin says, fingers tugging on Taehyung’s own. “When I told you I also didn’t know if I’d been in love with someone, I thought I was lying too. I, uh, I mean. I thought I lied when I said I didn’t know, but I think I really didn’t know after all. Does it make sense? Agh , I don’t know how to say this…”
Taehyung smiles at Jimin’s little frustrated outburst and squeezes his hand, patient even if the curiosity is eating him inside and he doesn’t truly get what he means yet.
“Take your time, I’m gonna be here all night, and tomorrow too.”
Jimin’s lips break into a smile and he shakes his head, amused at Taehyung’s attempt at comforting him, but he stays focused. Very focused. A line of concentration is right there near the little constellation of freckles on his forehead, and his free hand falls gently to the crook where Taehyung’s neck meets his shoulder. He tries again.
“I just think… I just think a couple of years - of difficult but also super fun years -, had to go by before I could confirm that what I felt before and have been feeling all along was really, truly, um. You know.”
“Love,” Taehyung says, and Jimin nods, face flushing.
Quietly, Taehyung thanks Jimin and himself for not bothering with turning the lights of his room off. Jimin’s cheeks are red, bright and beautiful, and Taehyung knows they haven’t got anything to with the shower he took anymore.
“What I’m saying is…” Jimin resumes, relentless even if his cheeks are flushed “I needed time and perspective to know for sure— to know that I already had it really, really bad. Even worse than I thought I had it.”
Taehyung hums, nodding slowly, taking it all in.
And it feels so easy, but also so weird.
Not a single name, a single you or a single me has been said yet, so it feels staged.
It feels vague and unimportant compared to some of the admittedly brazen things they’ve done on stage and never talked about, but at the same time, it feels like the most important couple of minutes of Taehyung’s life.
Jimin is in love, then. Jimin has been in love.
Just like Taehyung.
Something sparks inside of Taehyung’s chest.
“So, then, Jimin…” he starts but stops himself, thinking, eyes running slowly over Jimin’s face while he finds courage and words, but also because he simply likes looking at Jimin’s face. “Are you in love with someone? Right now?”
Jimin looks at him studiously, his eyes capturing Taehyung’s and staying there, like that, like it’s the easiest thing to do. His lips part as he inhales like he’s bracing himself.
The word slides through Taehyung’s nervous system like hot chocolate. It feels good. Jimin is in love and he has been in love and that is so beautiful, Taehyung can’t bring himself to care about anything outside of his room right now.
“What about you?” Jimin asks, then, and his eyes have a glint to them, like he’s expecting something. It makes Taehyung feel even warmer.
“Me? I am, too,” he says, and it’s somehow the easiest thing in the world. Jimin seems relieved, and Taehyung can’t help but add. “Very, very much…”
Jimin takes a sharp breath. “Yeah?”
“It’s like I can’t breathe sometimes, Jimin, seriously, it’s like—,” he glances down at their linked hands and gets an idea. “Look. Feel this.”
Riding this wave of adrenaline and absolute adoration that is going through his body, Taehyung takes Jimin’s hand and puts it over his chest. He’s wearing his pajama top, old and worn cotton, so there’s no way Jimin can’t feel or hear his heart drumming away.
His hand absolutely engulfs Jimin’s, and Taehyung could look at the sight of it sandwiched between his chest and his own larger hand for at least an hour or two, but he has to look up to see what Jimin’s face looks like.
And when he does he sees his best friend’s (beautiful) face, the same as always, but there’s an undeniable fondness to it. He has looked at Taehyung like this countless times before, often on stage, the recording studio, or the practice room, but this time it feels different.
“Do you feel?” Taehyung asks, throat dry.
“I mean my heart. Do you feel it? It’s so loud and fast, you gotta be able to hear it.”
Jimin shakes his head, smiling, eyes crinkling the way they do.
“Tae, you seriously think I’d be able to hear or feel anything when my own heart is going crazy? You can’t just— take my hand and put it on your chest and expect me not to combust internally, you know! My heart is loud enough because of it! God! You’re so cute, you make it so hard to be careful, you don’t even know!”
And there it is.
The first my s and you s in this entire conversation. The first piece of evidence that Jimin has been talking about him. About feeling things for him. About his heart going wild for him .
Suddenly, carefulness is Taehyung’s least favorite word in the world. Suddenly, he wants to wrap his arms around Jimin as tight as he can, like he’s done a million times before, and kiss him, like he’s never done before, not once.
He can’t help the smile that takes over his face.
“I don’t want you to be careful, Jimin…” He starts, his heart pounding behind his ears too because this feeling is all encompassing and he swears, humans are not made to feel this much. “I mean, maybe before, but now…? I don’t think I care anymore. I like how things are between us, but if I told you I didn’t want so, so much more… then I’d really be lying.”
Taehyung sees Jimin take a heavy breath, chest rising between them.
In there, his heart is racing, or so he said. Taehyung believes it.
It’s late, now.
It’s probably ridiculously late, actually, but Jimin looks like the rising sun, and he feels like the sun, too, moving closer, climbing him a little to make up for their height difference, and glowing under the yellowish night light.
It’s just them and Yeontan in Taehyung’s apartment, a messy wet towel at the end of the bed and an exclusive view of Seoul through the floor-to-ceiling windows. So many things have changed in the last few years, but others have stayed pretty much the same.
Taehyung still loves Jimin and Jimin is still 173 centimeters tall (174, officially), to name a few.
Also, apparently, Jimin loves Taehyung.
Still loves Taehyung.
And he looks at him like he wants to stay here with him forever.
So Taehyung leans closer, and he does so confidently because this is not the time or place to be shy. He remembers he said, three years ago, that he didn’t think it was the right time for any of them to be in love, and just because he single-handedly broke the dam that kept his feelings for Jimin in check it doesn’t mean he suddenly thinks the time is right now .
All it means is he loves Jimin more than he fears the consequences that may bring, and it’s apparent they’re on the exact same wavelength, thank heavens .
Jimin meets him halfway, stopping him from moving up on his elbows so he can press him gently against the pillows instead, never one to back down from a challenge.
He lingers above Taehyung for a moment, one arm on his chest with the fingers of his hand buried in his hair. His other hand moves slowly from Taehyung’s shoulder to his chin, and the sides of his fingers slide over the shape of his jaw as he makes it to cup his cheek with his palm, Taehyung’s lashes fluttering at the touch.
It feels like they’ve done this before, though they haven’t because Taehyung would remember something like that, and now the way Jimin pauses for long seconds to look from one of Taehyung’s eyes to the other is making him impatient.
“Are you going to… do something, Jiminie?”
Jimin’s breath hitches visibly, but he nods.
“Then do it, come on,” Taehyung urges, smiling, squeezing Jimin’s arms. “I’m going to die of old age before we get this out of our systems—”
Jimin shakes his head, laughing. “Shut up, dont say stuff like that…! I’m just looking at you, alright? It’s hard to believe this is happening, and also, don’t get cocky but you're really nice to look at, Tae.”
Taehyung chuckles softly but he can feel himself flushing. They are so close now, their faces nearly touching, so he reaches up to Jimin’s cheek with one hand, because he doesn’t know what to do with it but also because he wants to touch him, needs to touch him.
“You too, Jiminie, oh god…”
Jimin beams, their noses are almost touching and he whispers. “I like you, Tae.”
Tae feels like he could sigh.
“I like you too,” Taehyung smiles. “In fact, I love you. Love love you.”
Jimin returns his smile. “I love love you, too. Sorry this took so long.”
They laugh quietly, but Jimin doesn’t waste another breath. Taehyung was about to say something that was hopefully witty and funny, but the sheer sincerity in Jimin’s words, as well as the fact that his lips are now enveloping his own so warmly and so sweetly — it all shuts Taehyung up and shuts him down .
He has dreamed of this for ages, ages , way more times than he would willingly admit, but the real feeling is incredible.
Jimin’s lips are soft and plush, but they move confidently against Taehyung’s, like they know exactly how Taehyung wants to be kissed.
It’s not Taehyung’s first kiss ever , but he wishes it was.
He wishes all he needed to live were Jimin’s lips moving against his, curiously at first but more eager by the second, and Jimin’s hands on his hair and his cheek. Taehyung can’t stop himself from sighing into Jimin’s mouth, breathless already even if it only just started. It just feels so good and sweet, it makes Taehyung’s head spin. Jimin tastes a little bit like toothpaste but also a little bit like the wine they had before, and it makes Taehyung want to explore more, to bite on his lips a bit, to poke his tongue out and trace the curve of Jimin’s mouth just to see what it’s like.
It makes Jimin laugh when he does it, and Jimin’s laughter makes Taehyung laugh, but it all stays between their mouths. Taehyung presses experimental pecks to Jimin’s upper lip as he giggles, but then accepts it gladly when Jimin kisses him deeply once more, holding his chin with his thumb and index finger to guide him towards him the way he wants.
Taehyung follows at first, but then, Taehyung leads. He brings his hands to Jimin’s middle, fingers nearly vibrating against the warm skin he can feel vaguely through his hoodie, and he turns them around on the bed. Jimin doesn’t seem to mind at all. He just makes himself comfortable against the pillows, and Taehyung’s brain randomly supplies him with the first lyrics of the OST track he’s releasing soon. It’s kind of funny that he sang those lyrics with Jimin in his mind, and now Jimin is here, on his pillow, chuckling at the sight of Taehyung struggling to untangle his legs from the bedsheets.
Jimin is here pulling him in, wrapping his arms around his neck, and kissing him again.
Again, again, and again, as if to make up for the years they have spent not kissing.
Taehyung is more than fine with that.