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i'll love you out loud

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Taehyung’s gaze flits between the two blank scraps of paper lying on the table in front of him. 

He knows what he’s supposed to do. On one of them, he’s got to write a wish. That, after all, is the official task the Run BTS producers set them earlier in the week. As part of the latest filming schedule, they’re going to a rental house. Not for the first time, they’ll choose rooms, cook, and play games. Then, the evening will culminate with them reading out their wishes before securing them to paper lanterns which they’ll release into the night sky. 

On the other piece of paper, however, Taehyung is supposed to write down a secret. A confession that nobody but him will ever see. It will be fed to the campfire long after the cameras have been turned off. The burning-secrets-in-the-dead-of-night idea was Jimin’s. The thought was it could be something just for the seven of them — a private extension of their anniversary activities. They’ll send their wishes upwards and then they’ll turn a secret to ash. Bury it between the scorched earth and crumbling twigs. 

Taehyung quite enjoys the symbolism of it, though, in reality, he’s terrified to put pen to paper and let his secrets bleed out. Because there’s one particular secret he knows it has to be, even now, as he thumbs the piece of paper and bites down on the end of his pen as if he hasn’t quite made up his mind.

He drums his knuckles on the table and decides to focus on the easier task: the wish. 

He’s used to writing down his inner thoughts and feelings about BTS and his place in it by now, having been made to write poems and letters to the other members as well as himself on multiple occasions. BTS is, and always has been, his safe haven, his forever home, and that’s so easy to write about, even though the raw sincerity of reading such sentiments aloud makes him cringe at times. 

And so, the words flow out of him like the hummed melody of a familiar tune:

He wishes for everyone’s happiness and health. 

He wants to be able to keep going with everyone for a long time.

He maybe even hopes to release his mixtape soon.

Satisfied, Taehyung folds the paper into a neat white square and pushes it to the side. Then, taking a deep, steadying breath, he places the nib of his pen to the second piece of paper and begins the second task, scrawling, I’m in love, exhaling hard as he does so. 

Looking down at it, a sudden rush of cowardice spreads through him, making his toes curl, and he considers leaving at that. Hiding it away to burn later. But-

He also knows this might be his only chance in life to actually put the words somewhere. To give form to his impossibly messy and long-bottled up feelings. He’ll never be able to say it out loud, not even once, so he knows he should take the opportunity to write it down, at least. Yes, that’s what he has to do, and so, though there’s nobody around, he bends over the paper and curls his free hand around it as if to shield it from prying eyes and adds, with Jeongguk

Taehyung blinks down at the complete sentence before letting out an incredulous laugh at the absurdity of what he’s doing. The laugh quickly dies in his throat as he continues. 

I’ll get over it, he scribbles, swallowing against the sudden, sore lump in his throat. I promise.

With a heavy sigh, Taehyung folds the paper, doodling a little star in one of the corners so he won’t get them confused later, and then he shoves both inside a pocket of his buttercup-yellow satchel before leaning back in his seat. 

He feels exhausted all of a sudden, as if he’s just done ten solid hours of dance practice. The desire to crawl into bed and just sleep the entire day away is huge and overwhelming and he half-indulges it for a minute or two, letting his eyes flutter closed. 

But then, the inevitable knock on the door comes, and all Taehyung can do is bat his eyes open, grab his things, and head out the door. 

-

They travel to the rental house in a minivan, playing games in exchange for road trip snacks as they go. 

Taehyung tries to make his smile a bright, constant thing, but it’s difficult. Makes him even more weary than writing down his stupid confession earlier. It doesn’t help that Jeongguk is in such good form today; he’s effervescent, confident, infuriatingly charming. It’s a dizzying combination. 

Taehyung expertly avoids his line of sight whenever it gravitates towards him and focuses on snuggling into Yoongi’s side whenever it’s not his turn. 

The thing is, Taehyung has been in love with Jeongguk for a long time. It’s been going on so long that he often finds it difficult to pinpoint its beginning. Can only remember being forced to clean the communal kitchen with him one day as a shared punishment and thinking, I love you, I am in love with you, as Jeongguk passed him the bleach, soap suds all over his hands. 

All the love songs Taehyung listens to and all the romantic movies he watches tell him that love is a sweet, lovely thing that’s worth any of its painful parts tenfold, but more often than not, this love is anything but sweet for Taehyung. It feels less like his heart is light and buoyant with it and more like his heart at the centre of a very tangled bundle of string — one that’s knotted so terribly it seems like it’ll never be unravelled. 

Sometimes, as impossible as it sounds, he worries it will never go away, this love. That it will make a heavy mess of his heart forever. 

That it will eventually turn ruinous if he doesn’t get over it soon. 

“Taehyungie.” Yoongi nudges him and Taehyung startles.

“Oh. Is it my turn?” Taehyung asks, looking between the members and the crew. “Is it another capital city? I missed it.”

Yoongi’s brow furrows and then he clears his throat. “No. It’s just- well, we’re here.” 

Taehyung swallows then nods, turning to look out the window at the house while everyone else looks away from him, busying themselves with grabbing luggage or equipment, pointedly ignoring the fact that Taehyung just zoned out in the middle of shooting. Truthfully, he hadn’t even realised they’d slowed to a stop. 

He silently curses himself and then reaches for his bag. Yoongi leans into his space as he does so. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Taehyung replies immediately, flashing him an apologetic grin. “Just tired, I guess.”

Yoongi just hums before gathering his things.

If he can tell Taehyung’s cheer is all forced, he doesn’t say anything. 

-

Though it went completely over his head, Taehyung soon learns that he has the least amount of points so far.

Which means he’s the last one allowed to choose a room.

Which means he’s potentially screwed. 

He perches on the back of the couch and digs his toes into the cushions as everyone goes off one-by-one, thinking that in an ideal world, he’ll head upstairs, pick a door, and find out he’s rooming by himself or with Jimin.

Taehyung is very aware that he does not live in an ideal world. 

When his name is called out, he runs up the stairs two at a time and makes a show over deliberating the cluster of closed doors. His heart racing, he takes the plunge and reaches for the door directly in front of him. It swings open and Taehyung finds himself face-to-face with Jeongguk. 

Jeongguk smiles, his gaze softening slightly, and Taehyung freezes, his heart squeezing tightly in his chest. As quickly as he can, he pushes the feeling away, making a show of fist-bumping Jeongguk and then jumping on the bed with him while the crew film them. 

Once they’re done, they’re told to take a break. Jeongguk starts unpacking his things and chattering away. 

“This will be nice, right?” Jeongguk asks as he throws his pyjamas over his shoulder to land on the bed. “Just like Malta.”

“Yeah,” Taehyung says. “Just like Malta.”

In truth, Malta was torture for Taehyung. That bed was like something out of a wet-dream-turned-nightmare. He can remember the tantalising closeness of their bodies basically every time he closes his eyes. Literally every night they’d spent in that room he’d wanted to give in to his (often tipsy) impulses and ask Jeongguk to kiss him. To touch him. To love him. 

In fact, it had been so awful that he’d promised himself he'd be over his crush on Jeongguk the next time they shared a bed.

Of course, he had no such luck there.

“Are you okay?” Jeongguk asks all of a sudden.

Taehyung hums distractedly.

“You’re pouting,” Jeongguk continues.

Taehyung forces himself to look over at him. Jeongguk’s head is tilted to one side and his eyes are impossibly wide, full of that shiny sort of light that Taehyung always privately likens to stars or comet tails. Overflowing with such concern it makes Taehyung’s insides melt. Without meaning to, he lets out a tiny, “Oh.” In a heartbeat, Jeongguk is on his feet, crossing the room in a few quick strides to meet Taehyung.

When Jeongguk reaches out to touch him on the arm, Taehyung tries not to lean into it the way he so desperately wants to. Instead, he ends up shrinking away and Jeongguk’s expression falls. 

“Hyung. Please,” Jeongguk begins, looking hurt. “If I did anything to upset you-”

“I just need some air,” Taehyung blurts out, shaking his head before bolting for the door. 

Taehyung pads down the stairs and immediately heads outside. Luckily, the crew are all resetting things for later and the other members are in their rooms, unpacking and unwinding, so nobody sees him leave. He makes his way across the garden, finding that the grass is cold and wet against his bare feet from a drizzle he didn’t even know was falling. He pulls his hood up as he walks toward a small wooden bench near the trees. Once there, he collapses on it, feeling both breathless and terrible. The rain-laced wind comes and goes like lapping waves, stinging his cheeks before rushing away while tugging on a handful of his curls. Taehyung listens to the wind’s howls and whistles as he stares unblinkingly at the shadows crowding between the trees and wills himself to calm down.  

It feels like there’s a restless animal living inside of me, he thinks. One I wish would settle down and go to sleep

He takes a deep breath and looks from the dark, bobbly treeline to the sealskin sky. Dusk will descend shortly and there’s still a lot of filming to do. Dinner and building the campfire and then reading out their wishes and fastening them to the lanterns. Afterwards, burning their confessions in the dying flames. Just thinking about it all makes Taehyung’s head spin. All he actually wants to do is sleep. Preferably alone and not curled up next to the love of his life.  

He knows he can get through it, knows he’s with people he loves and who love him back just as fiercely. It’s just that sometimes, he feels as lonely as the wind whipping round the trees.

His hoodie begins to dampen and then soak through and his thoughts float away like brittle autumn leaves as he steels himself to head back inside. 

You can do this, he thinks to himself. And sooner or later, we’ll set these feelings free

Let them burn.

-

Sparks from the fire dance in the air like fireflies.

The rain is long gone and there’s gold bleeding out of the claw marks in the darkening sky. 

Taehyung’s belly is full of barbeque and while everyone else is merry on soju and beer, he nurses his hot chocolate and burrows into his jacket while they wait for the staff to begin handing out the lanterns. Jimin catches his eye from the other side of the semi-circle they’re sitting in and gives him a questioning look but Taehyung just gives a miniscule shrug and looks away.

He rallies once the lanterns have been distributed and filming has started back up again, sitting up straight and beaming as they take it in turns to read out their wishes. When it’s finally his turn, he pulls the slip of paper out of his pocket and then he freezes. 

He finds himself looking down at a small, scribbly star adorning the paper and his stomach flips unpleasantly. This is the confession, he thinks. Not the wish. He must have picked up the wrong slip when he went to fetch it earlier. 

“What’s taking you so long?” Jimin asks. 

Taehyung looks up and finds all eyes are on him. The members are all watching and waiting, their smiles intact but precarious. The crew’s attention is on him too, and he tightens his grip around the slip of paper, forcing a sheepish, cheery smile.

“I can’t read this,” he says, standing up. “I just need to go get something-”

“No way. You have to read it,” Hoseok chides. “You can't go write a new one.”

“I know it’s embarrassing but we all read ours,” Yoongi adds.

“I’m not embarrassed,” Taehyung replies firmly. “I just-”

“Oh, come on, Taehyungie.” Jimin’s on his feet now, making his way towards Taehyung, and panic prickles its way up Taehyung’s spine. He instinctively hides his closed fist behind his back but that just seems to just spur Jimin on. He gasps, mock-scandalised. “Why are you hiding it? What did you write?”

“Jimin-ah-” Taehyung begins. 

“We wanna know what you wished for,” Jimin says teasingly, pouncing on Taehyung and reaching for his hands. 

“No- Jiminie, wait,” Taehyung protests, but it’s too late. Jimin deftly extracts the slip of paper from him and skips across to the other side of the semi-circle as he unfolds it. 

Taehyung stills as he watches Jimin read what’s written on the piece of paper, his playful smile wilting on his face in an instant. Before anyone can stop them, the others are on their feet and crowding around him, their expressions tightening as they read the confession, too. Quiet extends for what feels like forever as Taehyung watches them from the other side of the campfire. When they lift their heads in unison to look over at him, Jeongguk is the only one Taehyung can focus on. 

He looks shocked and pale-faced, like someone just barrelled into him and tackled him to the floor, winding him in the process.

Embarrassment hardens Taehyung’s insides. It’s like he’s made of clenched fists. His feet are still rooted to the same spot and it’s still so damn quiet, the crackle of the fire the only sound puncturing the silence, and the crew are still looking between them all, confused, concerned, and Taehyung can’t believe this is happening; he just wants to disappear. 

Jimin suddenly pulls the piece of paper to his chest as if to hide it from everyone even though they’ve already seen it. He’s teary-eyed when he opens his mouth to speak. “Taehyungie-”

“I need to get my actual wish,” Taehyung finds himself interrupting, his voice so cold and distant that it sounds like it isn’t even coming from him. “Then, we can finish filming and we can wrap up.”

Taehyung takes off in the direction of the house, the thumping of his heartbeat loud in his ears. His thoughts begin to multiply and tangle together, like thorny vines. He knows, Taehyung thinks, leaning against the door, everyone knows, and everything’s ruined. He’s so far down the deep, dark well of his thoughts that he barely notices he’s been followed. Jimin bumps into Taehyung, hugging him from behind by winding his arms tightly across Taehyung’s chest and burying his face in his shoulder. 

“Taehyungie,” Jimin repeats in a litany. “I didn’t know.”

Taehyung sucks in a shaky breath through his teeth and lets his forehead rest against the cool pane of the glass door. Then, he rocks backwards into Jimin’s arms.

“I couldn’t- I couldn’t believe what I was reading,” Jimin goes on, still crying. “And then it happened so fast, everyone rushing over to see, and- I’m sorry, I'm so sorry.”

Taehyung leans back even further, letting Jimin take his weight. 

“It’s okay,” he murmurs groggily, tilting his head back so it can rest on Jimin’s shoulder. The sky is fully dark by now and the stars are big and bright and beautiful above them. “It’s sort of a relief, actually.”

Jimin hums, surprised, and the words take Taehyung by surprise, too. But he finds it’s true. Even though he feels like some part of himself has been peeled back, leaving him vulnerable, all raw and exposed, he also feels . . . quieter. Lighter. Like he’s finally calmed the wild, pacing creature that’s been caged inside of him all these years. It truly is a relief not to have burned his confession, letting it fade to nothing. A relief to have released it into the night like a shining lantern, instead. 

“I can’t join you guys later,” he tells Jimin. “After filming ends, that is. I’ll need some time. Alone.”

He feels Jimin nod. “Of course, baby,” Jimin says, his grip not slackening at all. “Whatever you need.”

-

Taehyung fixes a smile on his face as he reads out his wishes.

“I wish for everyone’s happiness and health,” he says, looking at each of the members in turn. “I want to be able to keep going with everyone for a long time.”

He clears his throat and continues. “I maybe even hope to release my mixtape soon.”

Everyone reacts appropriately to that, oohing and aahing the way he knew they would. When he’s done talking, he fixes his slip of paper to the clip on the base of the lantern. After, they each light their lanterns and, at the same time, they raise them up high and let them float away. 

Even though Taehyung is dazed with fatigue from the long, eventful day and just wants to be by himself, he has to admit there’s something beautiful about their lanterns drifting upwards and away, their sunset-orange glow shrinking and then slowly disappearing. The seven of them cluster together and, even though he can’t bring himself to meet Jeongguk’s gaze, Taehyung lets Jeongguk twine their hands together as they watch. 

Filming is wrapped up shortly after the lanterns are out of sight and they’ve shared their closing thoughts. As soon as they're done, Taehyung heads straight for bed while the others remain seated around the still-blazing campfire.  

It hurts, removing himself from the group like that, but he doesn’t know how to face anyone right now. He knows he and Jeongguk will need to talk, that he’ll be formally rejected, and that it will be painful. The others will probably want to talk to him too, he realises. To ask him if his hurt feelings will cause any trouble or friction within the group. Just imagining it makes his stomach churn. He doesn’t want his personal problems to affect the band in any way. That’s part of the reason he said he was going to get over it in the first place. 

If anything, he’s just hopeful that being officially turned down by Jeongguk will make that whole part a bit easier. There’ll be no more useless wondering, at the very least.

Taehyung’s not sure how long he lies there trying to puzzle things out but he’s still awake by the time Jeongguk comes into the bedroom. He quietly putters around changing out of his clothes before slipping into bed beside Taehyung smelling of smoke and minty toothpaste. 

Taehyung considers pretending to be asleep but as soon as Jeongguk settles down beside him, an urgent restlessness squirms its way throughout his entire body and he rolls onto his side, batting his eyes open.

Jeongguk is so close, his expression expectant, as if he were waiting for Taehyung to look his way. His eyes are glossy and the skin around them is swollen, as if he’s been crying. Taehyung clucks and nearly reaches up to cup Jeongguk’s face in his hand but stops himself. 

“So, did you burn your confessions?” Taehyung whispers whispers. 

Jeongguk’s tongue darts out to wet his lips. When he speaks, his hushed voice is as worn down as a pebble that’s tumbled through the whole ocean. “No,” he says. “I couldn’t.”

Taehyung feels his lip tremble. His confession clearly blew Jeongguk sideways, throwing off his entire night, and guilt crimps his insides. “No?”

Jeongguk blushes redder than the strawberries they picked at Seokjin’s uncle’s strawberry farm as he blinks up at Taehyung. His eyes are as starry as ever, full of galactic light, but Taehyung notices that there’s something else there too. A secret, maybe. A wish. 

“I wanted to show you.” Jeongguk’s voice is a velvet curtain. He raises his hand above the blankets and unfurls it, revealing what he’d been holding there. 

It’s a crinkled slip of paper, one which Jeongguk unfolds while keeping his eyes locked on Taehyung’s own. Once he’s done, he presses it inside Taehyung’s palm. Taehyung swallows down his hunted-deer heartbeat and looks at it. 

I’m in love with Taehyungie-hyung, he reads. I promise I’ll tell him someday.

Taehyung doesn’t make a sound, just looks up with his mouth parted in disbelief. 

“I just- I don’t wanna live with any regrets,” Jeongguk tells him quickly. He furrows his brow and scrunches his nose before twisting his hands in the front of his hoodie. “That would be too burdensome. So, because you did it tonight and it’s only fair — I love you. I’ve been loving you this whole time.”

“Jeonggukie-”

“Please don’t get over it,” Jeongguk says. “I don’t want you to.”

“Okay. Then, can I kiss you?” Taehyung asks. “Would that be . . . okay?”

“Oh,” Jeongguk breathes out. “Yes, please.”

Taehyung laughs, disbelieving, then scoots closer to Jeongguk, leaving his hands tucked between his knees.

When they kiss, their lips tentatively touching, Taehyung realises love is actually as sweet as he’s been led to believe. It’s sweet, the sweetest thing, and his heart feels free. Giddy and buoyant in his chest. 

He sighs into the kiss as Jeongguk deepens it, their mouths sliding together easily, and then Taehyung can no longer hold back. His hands drift upwards, smoothing up Jeongguk’s arms as they go, finally slotting together behind his neck. Jeongguk’s hands, meanwhile, travel down, ghosting against Taehyung’s tummy, his hip, and then his thigh.

They kiss like that for what feels like hours, their hands exploring each other’s bodies, and Jeongguk is barely touching Taehyung, just trailing the tips of his fingers up and down Taehyung’s inner thighs, and it’s feather-light, so teasing. Taehyung is both desperate and terrified to ask for more. 

Jeongguk seems to understand anyway, somehow, because he brings his palm further up and then presses it flat against the front of Taehyung’s pyjama shorts. Unable to help it, Taehyung releases a moan that tailends into a breathy gasp. 

“Wow. You’re noisy,” Jeongguk observes out loud, pressing the heel of his hand down hard. 

Even though Jeongguk sounds more delighted than anything else, Taehyung can’t help but flush, embarrassed. He winces even as he bucks his hips upwards, chasing the friction. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Jeongguk quips, pecking Taehyung’s lips once. Twice. “I like it.”

Warmth blooms in Taehyung’s belly at that. He makes a mental note to be as loud as he wants in the future, mindful of the crowded house they’re in at the moment. 

Jeongguk suddenly twirls them around, so that Taehyung is on his back and Jeongguk is on top of him. He rolls his hips so they rub up against each other and Taehyung squeezes his eyes shut, groaning at how good it feels.

“Do you think we can get off like this?” Jeongguk murmurs, grinding down again.

Taehyung nods desperately. He can. They can.

Jeongguk untucks them both from their clothes and Taehyung licks a stripe of spit into his palm before slicking them up. Jeongguk makes an urgent noise, gasping out Taehyung’s name. They rock against each other, trying to stay quiet. There’s not much finesse to it, and Taehyung can’t help but wonder what they’d do if they had some lube and condoms, or some time and privacy, but it feels so good, and he’s on the edge almost immediately. With a particularly hard jerk of his hips, he comes, pressing his sweaty forehead against Jeongguk’s own as he does so. Then, Jeongguk is whining out loud and Taehyung’s stomach suddenly feels warm and wet, and it’s messy; they’re panting and they rushed it and well, Taehyung wouldn’t have it any other way.

“That was-”

“So good,” Jeongguk finishes for him. “Why haven’t we been doing this?”

“I believe we were both too scared to confess to each other,” Taehyung replies, feigning nostalgia.

“Well, I don’t ever want to go back to those dark times,” Jeongguk mutters dreamily, shifting to lie at Taehyung’s side once more.

“No,” Taehyung agrees. He links their pinkies under the covers. “Never again. From now on, I’ll love you out loud. Deliberately.”

Jeongguk sighs happily. 

Outside, the sky starts to brighten. 

“I can’t wait.”

-

The next day, Taehyung and Jeongguk are the first ones on the van. The filming schedule is over, so they’re free to spend the journey however they like. Sharing a set of earbuds, they listen to one of Jeongguk’s playlists as they wait for the others to join them. Taehyung is still sleepy, so he rests his head on Jeongguk’s shoulder, breathing in Jeongguk’s soft, familiar laundry-detergent-and-shampoo scent and letting his eyes fall shut.

He feels completely relaxed, unhurried and unburdened. Feels like he could rest upon Jeongguk’s shoulder forever.

Seokjin is the first to join them in the minivan and his glance immediately drops to their clasped hands lying on top of Taehyung’s thigh. To be honest, acts of hand-holding and cuddling aren’t exactly rare within their group. Seokjin knows what happened last night, though, knows exactly what was confessed, and he connects the dots easily, raising his eyebrows knowingly as he passes them.

Namjoon is next and Taehyung’s breath hitches, his heart turning a tiny cartwheel in his chest. 

“Hyung,” Taehyung calls out as Namjoon approaches them, causing him to slow to a stop.

“I know we need to talk about, um . . . this ,” Taehyung says, gesturing to his and Jeongguk’s linked hands. “But- We’ll be sensible, you know? Discrete. Nothing bad will happen. Promise.”

Namjoon blinks a few times, apparently taking his time to process Taehyung’s words. Then, he smiles, his cheeks dimpling.

“I’m not worried,” he tells them. “Not when it comes to you two.”

Taehyung looks at Jeongguk. A blush creeps up his neck. Taehyung squeezes his hand and grins up at Namjoon. 

“Thanks, hyung,” he says.

“We can still talk about it if you want, Taehyung-ah,” Namjoon says before making his way to the back of the van to sit with Seokjin.

“Oh, we’ll be talking about it,” Seokjin says. “I want all the gory details.”

“Gross.” Jeongguk wrinkles his nose. “We are not talking about . . . kissing with you, hyung.”

“You guys kissed ?” Seokjin exclaims exaggeratedly.

“Who kissed?” Jimin asks, climbing into the van alongside Yoongi and Hoseok.

“Taehyungie and Jeonggukkie,” Seokjin replies. “Can you believe it?”

“No way,” Yoongi says, feigning surprise. “Wouldn’t have ever guessed it.”

Even though he knows they’re being teased, Taehyung huffs a laugh out of his nose. “You guys are cute. I hope none of you just lost a bet.”

“Oh, some people definitely lost bets today,” Seokjin replies, grinning evilly. “Most of them thought this wouldn’t happen this decade, in fact. So, of course, I’m the one who cleaned up. I like to think I have a sixth sense about these things.”

“I didn’t think it would happen this lifetime because I didn’t know,” Jimin laments, holding his head in his hands. “Some soulmate I am.”

“I think you’re a pretty good soulmate,” Jeongguk says thoughtfully. “Think about it. If you hadn’t unfolded that piece of paper, none of this would have even happened.”

“Oh, I didn’t think of it that way,” Jimin replies, thrilled. He claps his hands together. “I’m the orchestrator.”

“Accidental orchestrator,” Seokjin corrects, clicking his tongue.

“Still,” Jimin mutters.

Once the crew arrives, they stop talking about Taehyung and Jeongguk and start talking about more mundane things: what they should order for dinner that evening, what kind of music they should play on the journey home. Taehyung listens as he leans against Jeongguk and rests his tired eyes. He feels so fond of everyone in that moment that it makes him become all soft and gooey. It’s like there’s a lantern hanging on the hook of his heart. Warm and glowy.

Jeongguk nudges him around an hour into their journey. “You’re quiet,” he whispers, leaning down. “Are you doing okay?”

“Yeah,” Taehyung replies truthfully. “I’ve never been better.”

Jeongguk swirls his fingertips against Taehyung’s knuckles. 

Me too, he doesn’t say. 

Taehyung hears him just fine.