There are some visions most of us fall prey to in life; you know the ones. Where the soul exists on a linear path of the future for you? It doesn’t have to be something intricately designed by your own hands, or even the fates. It simply prevails there, settled against all of the details of your potential choices. Where you go to college, find a job, and maybe traverse it hand in hand with a lover. Those visions. The ones that form in the conscience of your being, conjured so realistically you hold no doubt that’s the path destiny has chosen for you. Where you look to your heart’s desire and see them so clearly it’s the perfect portrait of the life you believe you’ll have from now on. In your mind, you see these images, flashing by one by one and in them there’s a person by your side. They’re clear as day, dancing around the kitchen of your future home with a serene smile, singing along with you in the car on a drive down the highway...of their hair flowing in the wind atop a bridge in the middle of the night, staring at the horizon, their back to you as they whisper ‘I love you’ for the first time.
That’s destiny, isn’t it? Because that is an image Jeon Jeongguk has always held, and some moments became reality for him. How could they not, after all. His heart spoke volumes of a love he held for another and he conjured these endless dots within the timeline of their future where each moment would happen and each moment was his to behold and cherish. Jeon Jeongguk, is a man who believes in destiny. Life is planned down to the second for everyone. You see, to him, what-ifs are nonexistent, because it doesn’t follow the plan.
And love? Well, that’s the easy part about love and Jeongguk’s theory of life. When you love someone, it makes the rest fall into place so perfectly you become blind to the potential of what-ifs or anything that destroys your view of fate. Questions such as ‘What if I don’t get that dream job’ or ‘What if I don’t graduate university’ ...all nonsense, really. Because when you’re in love, real love, those types of worries don’t make themselves known. The right person makes them fall away into the landscape of life, and it’s effortless to believe in fate having a hand in it all. So much so, you spare no further thought to the idea of what-ifs.
That’s precisely why Jeongguk has lived his life ignoring them. His argument on destiny has secured him against this supposition. However, it is because of this mindset that he never expected the one that had broken him apart three years ago. A what-if that snuck its way into the tapestry of his life and in between his love.
What if, the person you love so intensely slips through your fingers. What if your own selfish arrogance is the cause of it? What if you pretended the love you held would disappear eventually...just to make yourself feel better about naive predictions on the future.
At the time, Jeongguk never bothered thinking of such things. He ignored them, too. To reiterate, he doesn’t fall victim to possibilities, because only one line need be followed when you believe in universal inevitability. To some, this may be considered being a dreamer, ambitious and laid back but the truth? Well, Jeongguk feared anything that derailed the idea of the future he envisioned so easily. Which is why it tore him apart to have something change it all in such a simplistic way, leaving him powerless to fix it. Not that he made the effort to change this himself, he merely accepted his heartache as part of this future now. A bump in the road of destiny he was supposed to hit. Because it made it easier to try and heal from.
Three years ago on a Sunday night, Jeongguk watched Taehyung go. And when he should’ve asked himself ‘What if I stop him?’ he ignored that, too. So, it begs the question in his present life…
Is there only destiny that you should listen to, or is it the ability of choice. The theory of ‘What-if’ he calls it.
Because...what if you were given a second chance?
“I still can’t believe you agreed on Norway as a destination wedding.” Jeongguk leans back against the chair, tossing the tennis ball up and away from Holly, who runs around his feet excitedly. Yoongi is by his kitchen island, hands braced on the marble, a fond smile on his face as he watches his dog run about. “Don’t you hate the cold?”
“Then remind again why you said yes in the first place.” The answer isn’t completely necessary, Jeongguk already knows it. He’s been around Yoongi long enough to assess just how endearingly whipped he is for his fiance, Hoseok. The two were practically inseparable, cooing at each other disgustingly wherever they went and Yoongi? One could argue he’s the most whipped of the two. The guy would agree to anything if it made Hoseok happy. If he was honest, Jeongguk would admit that’s what love is, the ability to compromise. But really, he can look at the two of them and just settle on this notion that they were always made for one another. They’ve been together for two years, engaged for one and to some that likely sounds a beat too fast for romance, but for them...it was inevitable. Anyone would be foolish to deny that. Some days, Jeongguk envied them, others...well, he supposes envy was so common he’s become used to feeling this way it drowns out in the background of everything else.
“Hoseok went there as a kid, fell in love with the country, he said. So…”
Yoongi grins knowingly, already aware Jeongguk would tease him relentlessly about his sentimentality. “So how could I say no?”
A fair question, Jeongguk finds. After all, who would be so arrogant as to deny a compromise in a relationship…”Well, good point.” He smiles, tossing the ball into the living room. “Are you excited, at least?”
“Of course, I am. I’m going to be marrying the love of my fucking life in a week.” Yoongi reaches down to retrieve the ball Holly fetched for him, tossing it back into the living room to keep her busy. “I’ll suck it up and deal with the frigid ass weather if it means seeing him smile.”
A snort. “Yeah, well, love makes us that way.”
The room goes silent, but in a comforting sense, and though Jeongguk has no argument to that point, he can’t help but bite back the self deprecating retort on his tongue. Love was a difficult topic for him, something he buries deep away in the confines of his own self loathing and guilty conscience. It’s not like he’s some grinch about romance, quite the opposite actually. He adores the concept of having his own life’s love. Who wouldn’t, but the problem stands in the fact Jeongguk had already met said person. Unfortunately, he wasn’t blessed enough to keep him by his side. It goes without saying that he’s taken to accepting this portion of his life. Three years is a long time in a sense, at least enough to make one believe nothing new would come along. To Jeongguk, those years were more than enough to test his faith in falling in love again, or as it stands...falling out of love. He hates to think of himself as an overly sensitive person, but he’d be lying if he said watching his friends fall in love and move forward with it didn’t unhinge his emotions a bit. He’s sat downwind of all of them meeting someone at some point in their life, and while he celebrates the touching relationships, he also finds himself digging deeper into isolation from it.
It’s the reason he was shell shocked by Yoongi and Hoseok’s engagement before. Happy, for certain, but no less marred by it. In hindsight, he knew they would be one another’s forever but watching them...left him envious. Simple as that.
Jeongguk glances up from the ball now in his hand, twirling it around and grimacing at the slight string of slobber left from Holly. “Yeah.” No, would be the better response. The right one, anyway. Though he understands Yoongi already knows that. He’s been friends with him long enough. Since they were children, actually but life took them far apart for a long time and to separate colleges and Yoongi being older meant they drifted apart at times. Not for lack of affection, just busy chaos that overtakes any person navigating the adult world. Once Jeongguk graduated university, and left so much behind, he was lucky enough to find one familiar face among the crowd of Seoul. Even though they worked in different fields, their work still brought them back together. While Jeongguk worked in video game developing, Yoongi worked in producing and well...lets just say he makes a mean score for RPG soundtracks.
For a long time, Jeongguk believed he’d be tangled in an endless string of loneliness after he left his world behind. Yoongi, however, lessened the blow. Maybe not in the ways only a lover can, but his friendship provided a source of affection that gave him enough support to move on. As much as any man could, that is. Needless to say, the elder caught on quick enough to realize Jeongguk had always suffered a little in his silence. If there’s one thing close friends are good at, it’s making you open up and spill every little detail of your pained soul.
Yoongi managed this, along with a nosy bunch of coworkers that Jeongguk was lucky enough to call close friends as well, Jin and Namjoon. It was over drinks one night at his apartment, where he laid his life’s greatest tragedy bare for them to scrutinize.
Dear, sweet, stunningly gorgeous, Taehyung. Jeongguk’s most profound weakness and deepest desire. The only person that made him question everything about himself. He was his college sweetheart and statistically not many tend to make it. The amount is higher than high school ones, but no less prone to the possibility of a break up. People always want different things in life, and sometimes that leads to the inevitable downfall of love. To them, however, they truly felt that wouldn’t happen. Seoul offered endless opportunities for both their careers. Taehyung idolized the fashion industry, and Jeongguk the gaming world. They were so perfectly held together, and so sickly in love it never crossed their minds they’d be separated one day. Jeongguk had the perfect view of their life together; an apartment here in Seoul, a dog or two, a ring on the finger by now and both rising stars in their fields. Destiny would work it out, he told himself, because how could it not? No one falls in love that deep, only to find themselves torn apart for petty reasons.
But that happened, didn’t it?
All it took was one letter of acceptance to one of Japan’s highest trending fashion companies and the very destiny Jeongguk idealized would be crumbled. The worst of it was in the fact he couldn’t find a viable reason to begrudge Taehyung the opportunity. Why would he? When you love someone...you only ever wish the best for them, and Jeongguk wouldn’t forgive himself if he ever forgot that. However, his own prospects didn’t face the path of Japan. His own niche would be here, in Korea. He remembers those last few nights with Taehyung so vividly. They went back and forth, so tempted to convince the other of why they should stay here or go there. Truth is, both were nearly prepared to sacrifice their dreams for the other, but in the end...Jeongguk refused that. His life was set, if he had to let go, if he had to let Taehyung achieve the start of what would undoubtedly be a success for him...then he would. Because that was what was written for them, a roadblock they’d have to accept. In some ironic way, it only proved how deep their love went. Yet, there wasn’t a single day after Taehyung walked out that door where Jeongguk hadn’t let the first what-if crawl into his mind.
Destiny was his lifestyle in the strangest fashion, but Taehyung’s lithe frame slipping from his own in the very last hug made him wonder if that was all life was. Letting everything be determined by bumps in the road and doing nothing to redirect them. Jeongguk watched him go, taking his heart with him and even when Taehyung had shut the door and Jeongguk asked himself ‘What if I go with him? ’ he still didn’t make a move.
It’s been three years since, and Jeongguk still struggles with so much left unsaid, unanswered. Maybe that’s why Yoongi has been so forthcoming with his attention lately. Since they’ve announced the wedding date it’s been constant check ups or meet ups and Jeongguk, while grateful for the companionship, can’t help but find it humorous. The couple should be focusing on their plans and love but they both hover around him like coddling parents. It’s strange, and while Yoongi stares back at him now with a concerned look, Jeongguk can’t help but laugh. “Are you alright? Because you look close to either crying or hugging me...both being somewhat out of character for you.”
Yoongi chuckles, though it lacks any real mirth. Jeongguk’s known him long enough to gauge when he’s being reluctant with information. “Everything’s fine, Guk. Just,” He heaves a long sigh, scratching at the back of his head and it’s the serious expression he gets that makes Jeongguk stiffen in his chair. “There’s something I have to tell you.”
“Okay? You’re being cryptic. Just spit it out, hyung.” Endless things run through his mind, from the unlikely split of Hoseok and Yoongi, to postponing the wedding to much lesser news, but none really compare to the words that slip from the other’s mouth.
“Taehyung’s going to be at the wedding.”
“No, wait...how?” He’s aware he might appear vulnerable in expression, but there are just some instances in life that feel too foreign a chance to appear real. This is one of those times, and throughout the last few years there wasn’t a time Jeongguk thought he’d ever really come face to face with him again. “I, uh...hyung?”
“I know it’s probably shocking, but he’s one of Hoseok’s groomsmen.”
“Hold on.” Jeongguk could laugh, in fact, he’s sure he almost does when a breathy sort of sound leaves him. No one expects to start their day with news of a long lost love returning to their presence, and while that may sound heavily romanticized, it understandably feels that way. “How? I mean, I’ve known you for years, Hoseok for a couple and suddenly this comes out? How long have you even known?”
“A couple of months.”
“Jeongguk, I know it sounds crazy but--”
“That’s an understatement.”
“Just listen!” Yoongi raises his hands in surrender, taking the chair across from him and doing his best placating expression he can muster. Not that it soothes the nerves kicking in. Jeongguk is well aware of his own lengthy infatuation with a certain Kim Taehyung. You don’t lose a love like that and forget it. In fact, he’s pretty much accepted nursing the wound for the rest of his life. Even if he was part of the reason for it to begin with. “When we started planning the wedding, groomsmen were kind of the last topic, because it was the easiest choice to make.” He places a hand over Jeongguk’s knee, giving a gentle squeeze as if to beg some form of forgiveness. “I knew you would be my best man, and Jin and Joon just fell right into place with us and it worked out. And when Hoseok mentioned his own three, I didn’t think much of it. I’ve met Hyungwon, but the other two, Jimin and well...Taehyung, they lived over in Japan and I never really had the chance to meet them personally. It wasn’t until a few months ago that we were bringing it up that I recognized the name. At the time it seemed irrelevant, do you know how many Taehyung’s there are?” He laughed, sitting back on the chair. “But then Hoseok mentioned he worked in the fashion industry and…”
“You put two and two together.”
“And a picture confirmed.”
A picture. Jeongguk has this sudden desire to see which one. Is it an old one, or new? Would Taehyung look the same, or has he changed in the last few years? So many questions pop up and Jeongguk loathes the fact he doesn’t have these immediate answers. If he weren’t so pressed about this revelation, he’d probably take a step back and realize how ridiculously excited he was feeling. “So,” He starts, gnawing on the inside of his lip. “Why didn’t you say anything earlier? Were you planning on waiting for the trip there, or for me to run into him for the surprise, does Hoseok even know?” There was no ill intent behind his words, because he really wasn’t angry. Shocked and disappointed for certain, but this wasn’t some random change to the seating chart or the color of his suit. This was running into an ex, one he still harbored some semblance of emotions for. You don’t run into that scenario often and when you do, it’s the shittiest feeling to be unprepared.
“He...does. I told him a little but Guk, I know I should’ve said something earlier it’s just,” He sighs. “I didn’t know how you’d react. After everything you told me, I figured you’d be--”
“Hyung,” Jeongguk manages a smile, crossing his arms over his chest while he busies his gaze on Holly curling up on the floor. “I’m not a kid, you don’t have to shield me from these things.”
“I know, Guk, I know but the way you talked about him...I just know it wouldn’t be easy seeing him again.”
That’s fair, Jeongguk thinks. It wouldn’t be easy, how could it? They haven’t seen one another in three years and while they didn’t end on particularly bad terms, it wasn’t completely kisses and well wishes either. The mutuality of their parting was founded on the willingness to support each other, and there are moments Jeongguk thinks they could’ve spoken up more but it became what it was and neither chose to mend it. He briefly wonders if Taehyung had spent hours watching his phone as well after that night. “It’s not like I hate him, hyung. I could never, actually.” He gives a pained smile. “We both let go, and while it hurt,” Still hurts. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”
“Not everything has to be about the stars not aligning, Guk.”
Jeongguk knows that, so intimately actually. Yes, to many he’s a dreamer for destiny, but he’s not hopeless in that respect. The years have taught him there’s more to it than that, but he still clings to the idea of it. Refuses to let it go because in the end, it always made life easier to handle. Still, Jeongguk lets out a laugh, rolling his eyes because Yoongi was never the sort to leave anything up to the universe without having a say in it. Perhaps, Jeongguk should’ve adopted that method of philosophy instead. He’s always been told he’s too much of a romantic in that sense. “Whatever you’re implying, save it.”
“I’m not implying anything. I’m simply saying that maybe, if you wanna gloat a little about destiny or some shit, that it may or may not be a sign.”
“Thought you didn’t believe in that sort of thing.”
“Not fully, I think you place too much importance on letting things run their course for the sake of acceptance.”
“However,” He rushes to add. “It really is weird when you think about it. Who’s to say it isn’t the world giving you another chance.”
Another chance...The burden he’s held for years now. Chance or destiny? Both held importance, didn’t they? They fuel one’s desire to keep moving forward, and while Jeongguk has allowed one to rule him longer, he thinks maybe Yoongi has a point now.
Being in high end fashion seems a quality life and Taehyung wouldn’t deny that. He’s made a career off traveling and learning the trends of numerous countries and cities but even through all of this, airports were still a nuisance in his eyes. All the crowds, long flights that are mostly delayed and then the never ending line of security. He’s been versed in all of this for years and yet it never gets easier. So one can’t possibly blame him for the elation he feels when he exits the escalator and beams down at the man standing by the doors, awaiting his arrival. He practically rushes down the last few steps, muttering an apology to one lady who gives him an exceptionally dirty look but he’s more interested in the pink-haired friend of his waving back excitedly. It’s been weeks since they last saw each other and Taehyung is more than ready to play catch up.
“Jimin!” He shouts, squealing in an undignified fashion, which is likely unbecoming of a man his age. “It’s been years!” He shouts dramatically, arms wrapping around his friend’s neck, pulling him close and cooing teasingly just to hear the other huff playfully.
“Can you not put all the attention on us, Tae? People are starting to stare…”
“Mmm, let them. They’re just jealous their soulmate isn’t picking them up.” Jimin chuckles at that, ruffling Taehyung’s hair before helping him with his suitcases. Taehyung doesn’t let go of him the entire way to the car, nearly being dragged as he back hugs his best friend and looks about the outside in wonder. Norway was a beauty of a country, one he’s had the pleasure of visiting once before but never having the opportunity to do much. To be fair, he was more than surprised to hear Hoseok had chosen to have his wedding here, but one look around and it’s more than easy to understand why. “No one else has arrived, have they?”
“Nope, you’re the first to arrive. Even beat the grooms ahead of time.” Jimin answers, trying to lug one Taehyung and two suitcases down to the car. The other has been here for a week now, having come down for work and then staying to get some of the wedding details done for Hoseok. Taehyung would’ve been keen to join him earlier, but with the sudden branch of their company opening in Seoul, he’s been busy going back and forth from Japan and South Korea. Another reason he’s grown tired of air travel, it’s been his life for the last month and a half. Jimin barely managed to escape the duties given to them, and only because he was busy over here with a collaboration, but the two of them managed to keep in touch during the move, with Taehyung asking after him for advice on potential employees for the Seoul branch or something as basic as which color couch to put in the lobby. It’s not often one gets to say they work with a best friend, but they’re fortunate enough to do so. Truthfully, Taehyung doesn’t think he’d have survived moving to Japan if not for meeting Jimin over there. Both were interns at the same company, and while he spoke a good amount of Japanese it was always comforting to find a fellow Korean around to converse with. Needless to say, they became fast friends. Bonding over similar interests and of course, their jobs. Jimin worked mainly in garment technology and doing so brought him close to Taehyung who quickly became one of the fashion designers within the ranks. They worked well together, and even now he feels comforted just by his friend’s presence.
Really, this wedding was a blessing for them all in many respects. A full week off to engage in the countryside, even if it was snowing most days, and being able to be a part of one of his friend’s wedding. It’s not often he was given vacation, but when he has it, he takes full advantage. And right now he doesn’t think he could ask for anything more.
“Hoseok and Yoongi should be arriving tomorrow morning, though. As well as the other groomsmen.”
“Ah.” Taehyung hums, settling into the passenger side as Jimin turns the ignition. “It’ll be nice to finally meet Yoongi’s friends. Not that I’ve heard much, but Hoseok seems to speak fondly of them.” Not that the conversation ever delves deep into who they are. He knows of them, but not so much individually. It’s been so long since he’s since Hoseok face to face, and only really spoke to Yoongi through skype once or twice a month back. Strange how you can be so close to some people, yet go ages without communication. Most probably wouldn’t label this a friendship, but those make for the best ones in adulthood, Taehyung finds. He really has Jimin to thank for introducing him to Hoseok three years back, the two of them having been friends since high school and now he can safely say he’s close enough to have been extended the honor of not only attending his wedding, but being a part of it.
“Tell me about it. I’ve been bugging him for a FaceTime session for months now, but well, life always gets in the way for all of us.”
“It really does feel like that sometimes, doesn’t it?” Taehyung would know that feeling well. It’s simply a reality he’s grown accustomed to for the last few years. Nothing ever stays the same, even when you want it to but he supposes that’s what happens when you’ve got choices to make. One day you’re settled in, and the next you’re faced with a decision to make. Being in this line of work it’s a constant race for him, and he likes to believe he’s much better these days at weighing the pros and the cons of decision making. “Do you know any of them, by the way?”
“Yoongi’s groomsmen? Not really. I spoke to Hoseok a couple of days ago while fixing the seating arrangement, but besides their names and careers, I haven’t gotten a chance to meet them yet and they’re not due to land here till evening tomorrow, I think. Sucks, doesn’t it? Was really hoping we’d have a chance to meet up, all of us, before the actual wedding week.”
“That would’ve been nice. But fairly impossible.” Taehyung regretfully laughs. It’s hard enough keeping in touch regularly with Hoseok, seeing as how he was living in Seoul, and with the wedding plans, Taehyung tried hard not to bug or stress him out too much. Hell, he barely had time to get to know his fiance, so meeting up with several others, well that was pure wishful thinking. “So, what are their names? Maybe I know them.” It’s meant to be a joke, but as Jimin rambles on about them and what he’s since learned they do for a living, it’s then Taehyung feels the blood in his veins run cold and it has little to do with the Norwegian snow. “What did you say?” He asks softly, turning to gaze at his friend who gives him an odd look as he repeats it slower.
“Uh--Namjoon, Seokjin and his best man is someone named Jeongguk. All three actually all work together for some gaming company.”
There’s plenty Jeongguks in the whole of Korea, so it really shouldn’t be cause for anxiety to bubble up but Taehyung hasn’t heard that name in quite some time and the reaction is immediate. Jeongguk...even hearing his name brings back enough memories. Not that the reminder is needed. Taehyung is perfectly capable of keeping each one close to his heart. For though he may not have heard his name spoken aloud in years, not one part of him has let the past go. Not completely. Thinking back on college years, well...he’d be lying if he said there wasn’t a certain fondness in his heart for them. For him. Everybody has that one person, don’t they? The one that really meant something in your life, and even after parting ways you still think of them often, wondering where they are, who they’re with or what they’re doing. Taehyung may be a country away, but from that fateful Sunday to now, he’s never forgotten. Suffice it to say, his shock is evident. In all the years, he never expected to be halfway across the world only to be told a Jeongguk would be a best man at his friend’s wedding. Honestly, he’d scoff, but the sudden giddiness inside refuses him. It should be considered pathetic, how easily his heart speeds up, because three years have gone by and yet the mere mention of that name makes his mouth run dry and his hands shake with eager adrenaline. And he’s not even one hundred percent sure it’s his Jeongguk they’re even talking about.
Taehyung feels his throat bob, eyes widening when he glances over at Jimin, his friend so unaware of the sudden apprehension he feels. “What’s,” he licks his lips, trying not to stutter in his haste. “What’s his surname?”
“Oh, uh…” Jimin turns down the next road, the hotel they’re staying at coming into view and this is normally when Taehyung would relax into his seat knowing he’d be cuddled into a bed soon but right now his mind is running through millions of scenarios where this wedding becomes more than a celebration of his friend’s love. “I think it was Jeon? Jeon Jeongguk, that sounds right. Why?”
Even as their vehicle halts in the lot, Taehyung doesn’t move. He remains seated with the belt still around him, clutched tightly between his hands and eyes never leaving Jimin as his lips part in a silent reaction. There’s so much he could say, maybe even dare to scream out of anxiety or excitement. Truth is, he may have never given up the memory of his life’s greatest love, but not once in all the years had he spared a thought to the possibility of seeing him again. And it would be true to say there are other Jeon Jeongguk’s out there, but the chance of them all heading into game development was slight. Even without photographic evidence, something inside Taehyung tells him this is the one. This is his Jeongguk.
The college sweetheart he walked away from years ago.
And he’s not certain he’s prepared to handle this.
“Jeon Jeongguk?” He whispers, fingertips digging into the material of his slacks. He’s refrained from speaking that name himself for a while, but the humor lies in the fact he has told Jimin about him. It was one of the first stories he ever mentioned when they met. On a night after work, where they both wanted some time away and found themselves in a restaurant eating ramen and laughing about old college stories. As with all things, their conversation took a deeper turn and soon enough they laid out the evidence of their love lives with little to no detail spared. While Jimin’s were mostly flings and one serious relationship he already healed from, Taehyung had spoken only of Jeongguk. The man wasn’t his first, but he was the only one he ever fell for. Three years can pass..and that would always remain true. So excuse the way his heart beats in tandem with his hope and fear of a reunion, because if there’s one thing he knows it’s that he never truly overcame the heartbreak their end caused him. He came to Norway to have fun, to be supportive...but hearing this news left him dead weight where he sat. “You’re sure?”
“Tae? Wait, what’s going on, why are you so pale?”
“Are you sure?” He doesn’t mean to yell, but this is information he wishes he had before. At this point, he only has about a day to prepare himself for spending a week in the other man’s presence. He has to wonder if Jeongguk knows about him...if he’s known for months now and hasn’t said anything for the simple fact he’s...moved on. The mere thought of that hurts more than Taehyung cares to admit. Where he’s been silently pining for years still, Jeongguk might already have found another. Someone who’s capable of fitting into his life. “Jeon Jeongguk is the name Hoseok told you, you’re sure?”
“Geez, yes. What’s gotten into you?” Jimin puts the car in park, undoing his belt and turning more to consider the other. “Jeon Jeongguk is the guy’s name, I swear.”
“Jeon Jeongguk.” Taehyung could probably elaborate further, but his expression is pained, pleading maybe and even by repeating the name he feels his palms sweat underneath his gloves. “Jimin...Jeon. Jeongguk.” He speaks clearly, watching his friend’s eyes run from confused to understanding in a flat three seconds.
There it is. “Fuck is right!” Taehyung sighs, dropping back into his seat and groaning in--frustration? No, more like obvious fear. “I can’t believe this. Three years go by and suddenly he pops back into my life like this?” He finally breaks into a laugh, though it sounds more crazy than humored. “Ha! And he’s the best man? Go figure...not even some random guest that won’t be around most of the time, he’s the damn best man and I’m one of the groomsmen and this is a destination wedding but here the hell he comes from South Korea like nothing ever happened!”
“No, you listen to me, Park Jimin! I loved this man for years, with every damn beat of my heart I swore up and down he’d by my forever and then fuck all happened and he wasn’t even mine anymore, and we didn’t even manage to stay friends! And now he just waltz back into my life,” His hands fly around in explanation, Jimin dodging the possible hits. “With his fancy job, doing what he loves and I’m doing what I love and yet we’re not even with the people we love...and I..oh my god--what if he doesn’t even know I’m here? What if he does and he doesn’t want to see me? Or maybe he would, we didn’t end on bad terms necessarily.”
“Taehyung, hold on.”
“Or maybe he’s already with someone, and here I am showing up alone. Not that I want anyone, anyway but how embarrassing would that be? Gods--it’s so fucking obvious I still have feelings for him on top of that.”
“Three years, Jimin! I’ve dated two other men and they all fell through because I couldn’t even handle the fact they weren’t Jeongguk. I’m going to be alone the rest of my life...all because we were both too stubborn to admit what we really wanted. I let him go...I walked away and gave it up just so he could achieve his dreams and I, my own, but at what cost?”
“Taehyung, for one second just shut up!” The tone is enough to quiet him down, and he nearly whimpers when two hands cup his cheeks in a gentle thrum, stroking softly to soothe his distress. “First of all, you’re way too hot to be alone the rest of your life. Secondly, Hoseok didn’t say he refused to come so chances are it won’t be a problem. Third of all, this is the first I’m hearing of you still having feelings for the guy.”
“When exactly did you plan to tell me that, hm?” There’s no accusation in his voice, and Taehyung can tell he’s mostly joking but he can’t blame him for the shock. While Jimin was his best friend, he wasn’t privy to every little thing. After all, how could he explain to him the extent of his emotions for one man while he went and dated others. Selfishly, he had tried to heal from the past by allowing someone else into his heart, and if he had expressed this to Jimin he knows the man would’ve done what any friend would; convince him to put an end to it. Some part of him just wanted to keep this secret to himself, unwilling to share Jeongguk with anyone else, but mostly...he just wanted to stop hurting. Throughout the years he became used to not having him around, but becoming acclimated to a certain situation wasn’t the same as healing. This was a wound that would never mend. “I thought you said he was just a memory now?”
“He is…in a way.”
“One you’d rather forget, right…?”
“Very much the opposite.”
“Here’s your keycard, sir. There’s breakfast served until nine in the morning, and we hope you enjoy your stay.”
Jeongguk thanks the receptionist, both trying to communicate in heavily accented english, but it works for them. Besides, at the moment he’s too tired to really say much else aside from the basics, and while he slips the card into his pocket and lifts his bag from the ground, his mind is only on the bed waiting for him. Well, that and a certain ghost from his past that’s been haunting his mind since Yoongi finally spilled the information. That same night he barely slept a wink, and while he held no grudge towards his friend for keeping the secret too long, he admittedly felt his resolve breaking to come down here. He would never miss Yoongi’s wedding, of course, but the cowardly side of him broke down and refused to think of how exactly he was going to handle being around Taehyung again. Moving on was already a chore for him, but knowing he’d be seeing him, well...no one survives that. Distance was meant to ease the affection over time, yet for Jeongguk it somehow made it fester into something deeper. A hole within his heart that kept growing until it was a game of acceptance rather than proper alleviation. That was the frightening bit, knowing no matter how long would pass he’d be victim to harboring feelings for someone long gone. With said person returning into his life, that just made it impossible to proceed with healing. He’d be back at square one within an hour...god save him, the awkwardness of their reunion was likely going to hurt even more. He hated that they broke up, hated that they didn’t even remain in touch or so much as friends afterwards. They were close before being lovers, and to not even hold onto that made him feel hopeless for anything to amount from meeting again.
Even now he can’t help but glance about the hotel lobby, wondering if he’ll catch a glimpse of the man. He doesn’t even know what he looks like these days, and he lacks any form of social media to be a creep and search for it. All he remembers are soft brunette curls, so soft they ran through his fingers like silk when he’d kiss him, dangle beautifully over sharp features that never failed to capture the eye. I’ll never be over this…
Jeongguk sighs as he turns the corner towards the elevators, tapping the up button one, two, three times before he gives up and uses that virtue known as patience. He has his coat wound around his arm, bag hanging from the other and he really wishes he had taken up Namjoon and Jin on the offer to fly here together. Work had held him back, though and now he’s subjected to having landed in Norway late at night and lacking any sleep for a variety of reasons. Maybe he should give up the idea of resting altogether, because right now his mind is a mess of what-ifs and if that isn’t the epitome of karma, he doesn’t know what is. Namjoon and Jin were probably asleep by now, or out somewhere drinking the jet lag away, and the temptation of joining them is beginning to thrum inside him, but that would require texting and full on conversation and that’s the part he isn’t entirely convinced of. Then again the receptionist had mentioned a hotel bar, and while drinking alone sounds like absolute rock bottom for a person, he’s leaning towards it anyway. Might as well drown his anxiety and hopes in Jack Daniels.
Before he can even make that decision, the elevator slides open, and he figures that’s fate telling him to get his shit together and sleep, but as he moves to enter a laugh captures his attention and it’s then he glances over to find the hotel bar nestled in the corner to his right. It’s dimly lit, with numerous guests already socializing. It’s fancy enough for this place; marbled counters, cushioned booths and well-dressed individuals. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, until he catches sight of the most intense acid wash jeans he’s ever seen on a person. The stark contrast against the number of suits in the bar makes him smile, mind immediately going to a past that was so vivid he might actually be recreating it right now. Taehyung always had a penchant for fashion like that. Always wanting to take the best trends from long gone decades and pairing them with what’s in now. The silly thing is, it shouldn’t work in theory but Jeongguk knew well enough that anything the other wore would instantly look good. He was one of those rare types, where nothing looked horrible on him and everyone gazed over in envy. It’s the reason Jeongguk always knew he’d make it in the fashion world. While he may not keep up with what’s in, a trait Taehyung used to berate him for, he still understood the genius that went behind such designs. If Taehyung was here now, he’d probably go over and compliment that man for his style. That thought alone would make Jeongguk laugh, except now his mind was swimming in endless waves of Taehyung, Taehyung, Taehyung.
As if the last few days weren’t enough punishment. At this rate, he can kiss his night of sleep goodbye again.
“Pardon me, sir.”
“Oh, sorry.” Jeongguk moves easily out of the way, so enamored with a memory of a man that he spent the last few minutes blocking the elevator. By now he feels too foolish to enter with the other guest, and he just smiles awkwardly before letting them close and waiting on the next turn. At least now he can ogle the bar goer, eyes trailing over the jeans and wondering if Taehyung still wore such items. The sight makes more of a realistic impression of his former love when he catches sight of rips and tears across thighs and knees, strings of black buried underneath and it’s then Jeongguk nearly chokes on the fact they’re so clearly fishnet stockings. There’s only one person he’s even known to dress this way, sticking out like a sore thumb amongst a crowd of average-dressed individuals. But it’s so surreal to assume it’s him, and while he takes in the glitter bomber he wears, and the black silk shirt tucked into his waistband...his eyes meet blond tresses, so bright it may as well be labeled platinum. It’s blinding against neutral tones within the bar setting and though he can’t see the man’s features with his back turned, he can’t help but feel the figure cuts something familiar to him.
The hair may be different, but Jeongguk watches the way the strands bounce as he talks to someone next to him. The way his back dips from broad shoulders to a slender waist. This is the hotel, but if Jeongguk stared hard enough, and he was, he’d find himself back on a bridge in Korea and it’s the middle of the night when he hears ‘ I love you ’ for the first time.
“I’m losing my mind…” With a racing heart, he tears his eyes from the person, looking back at the elevator as the doors open for a third time and he finally enters it. There’s an old woman next to him, giving him a strange look as he catches his breath. His finger hits the fourth floor relentlessly, swallowing hard and ready to hide away in his hotel room instead of figuring out if this person was a hallucination or reality.
But then he hears it. That laugh again, like a bell with beats between the ring and it’s then he sees it so clear in his head. A large grin, mirthful and boxy; unique to one man. “Familiar…” The elevator doors begin to shut, and Jeongguk’s body works on its own accord as he bolts from the lift, barely making it out on time before the door closes around the sleeve of his coat, making him lag behind. “Fuck!” He exclaims, tugging uselessly at it as the elevator begins to rise, his coat going with it until it hits the top and rips right through the fabric. He can hear a family of four giggle behind him, and he’d probably feel embarrassed but when he turns back to look at the bar, he sees him again. Only this time his eyes meet a pair of russet ones. They sparkle in a teasing manner, even when they likely don’t mean to be but Jeongguk would recognize that gaze no matter how many years had passed.
Those acid wash jeans and flashy accessories really did belong to his Taehyung...and he’s just as perfect as Jeongguk remembers.
There’s a split second between the realization, and in that moment Jeongguk observes those expressive eyes widen, Taehyung’s lips stilling over the straw bitten between his teeth. Sex on the beach, Jeongguk recognizes, a small smile playing on his features when he takes notice. Perhaps, Taehyung really hasn’t changed. Details or not, though, there’s no pause in Jeongguk’s staring. At this point, he finds himself incapable of looking away and while he expects his old love to turn away, or maybe just wave back in greeting he’s given a laugh instead. Taehyung lets out a long, charmed sort of chuckle, one hand moving to cover his mouth while his eyes crinkle at the corners. The noise is contagious, just like it’s always been to him and with a sudden sense of mild embarrassment, Jeongguk turns away with a timid smile, his palm running over his features before gaining enough courage to glance back.
And the second he does, he realizes it’s frightening. This atmosphere of ease that overtakes him, so unplanned and shocking and making him so acutely aware of it all. Fear had been the burden before this, permeated by a nausea that made him believe this reunion would be awkward and forced. But that doesn’t appear to be the case and Jeongguk is beginning to feel that would’ve been much preferred over the feeling he gets now. One of familiarity...one of--
Taehyung is leaning against the wall outside the bar now, right by the entrance and his slender fingers hold the straw so gracefully as he sips, eyes twinkling in amusement.
“Taehyung…” Three years, three years and now Jeongguk finds himself on the receiving end of that smile.
“What?” That smile only stretches wider, Taehyung’s head tilting towards the elevator as he mutters once more, “Your coat” to him. Jeongguk follows his line of sight, finding his coat bunched on the floor between the elevator doors that are now open again. He hurries to pick it up, inspecting the sleeve and sighing shamefully as the seam proves damaged. “Oh.”
“Here.” Taehyung shifts closer, reaching for the article and it’s then their hands brush in the briefest of moments. So fleeting Jeongguk thinks maybe he might’ve imagined it, but the warmth that erupts inside him says otherwise. “I can mend it. Practically my job, after all.” The way he smirks is oddly fond, lacking any real arrogance and Jeongguk finds he follows the man as eagerly as he did back then, right up until they’re sat at a table and Taehyung throws a smile towards another guest he must’ve been talking to. It’s clear his attention has shifted focus to Jeongguk, and it shouldn’t be as satisfying to witness, yet, to Jeongguk it selfishly is.
“Hold on.” Jeongguk slides into the other side of the booth, heart hammering in his chest. “You don’t need to worry about my--”
“Nonsense.” Taehyung reaches into his back pocket, a small white compact produced in his hand and it’s then Jeongguk realizes it’s a small sewing kit. “It’ll be like old times, yeah?” He grins. “All your clothes you used to muck up at the gym.” Amused, he goes back to working on the sleeve, easily threading the needle through and offering a second of silence. Jeongguk feels he should say something, but he’s so caught off guard, so enamored that he watches carefully, the only sound escaping him a sheepish sort of chuckle. “You know, I was told a Jeongguk would be in attendance.” Taehyung says casually. “Even when I asked the surname I still couldn’t quite believe it. But,” He finally looks back up at him, expression schooled into something charming but Jeongguk can see the hint of a blush dusting his cheeks. “Here you are.”
“In the flesh.” Jeongguk adds, trying to get a better look at Taehyung’s face, but the man goes back to sewing, leaving him to journey his gaze further along his frame. It wasn’t meant to be anything amorous, he’s simply mapping out all the fine details again, recalling every inch of this man he once called his own. Taehyung hasn’t changed much, there’s something so uniquely him under the new hair color, but the clothes, the demeanor...it’s all still him. He always produced this raw energy about him, an alluring aura that drew anyone’s attention but beneath all of that Jeongguk knew there existed a much softer side. Not as raucous, but equally fascinating. It’s part of the reason he was so smitten by him all those years ago. Where Taehyung could be amiable, loud and inviting, he could also be subdued, demure and Jeongguk found that to be the sexiest of all. And seeing him now, lip tucked between his teeth in concentration as he worked, hair a stunning color and fishnets so figuratively outspoken against the rest of the room...Jeongguk thinks he might’ve fallen back into one of his many dreams. The ones that provoked him most nights, reminding him of what he lost and for a moment he’s almost afraid he’ll be waking up soon.
“Got your eye on something?”
Jeongguk brings his gaze back up, finding a raised brow and a teasing smile staring back at him. He’s been caught, truthfully and while he feels his cheeks heat up he still tries to stutter out an apology. “No, I’m sorry--I wasn’t…”
“Still easy to rile up, I see.”
Though he feels flustered at having been caught, he still manages a laugh as Taehyung returns to sewing. Once again giving Jeongguk all the opportunity to steal glances at him. Realistically speaking, three years isn’t a very long time but it feels like it when it comes to heartbreak and perhaps it’s nostalgia at play here but he can’t help but see his Taehyung from three years ago. With his brown locks, sewing kit in hand as he mended old gym shorts or tank tops, verbally scolding him for being so careless. Looking at him now, it’s like it never really ended.
“Huh?” Jeongguk blinks back at him, noticing the soft flush the other still sports.
“I asked how you’ve been, how work was.”
For a moment, Jeongguk wants to say it’s been nothing but hell. The words stay tingling on his tongue, and he doesn’t really know why or maybe he does, but it wouldn’t be the full truth either. He’s gotten what he wants out of life, career wise, but when he thinks back on it, it’s still not enough. Not for him, but he still decides to say, “It’s been good. I’ve been good.” He can see the way Taehyung questions it, eyes giving him a once over before he ties off the thread. “Just busy, I suppose. Currently working on a project.”
“Ah. I can imagine.” Taehyung closes his travel kit, holding out the coat for Jeongguk to take and he does so with a soft thanks. “Do you enjoy it?”
“I’m glad.” The smile he offers is sincere, and somehow that makes Jeongguk hurt more.
“And you? How is work, I think I heard your company is branching out to other countries?”
“Oh gosh.” Taehyung giggles at that, shaking his head like he’s so unaccustomed to any praise. Something Jeongguk knows is a lie, but he always did adore the more humble side. “You give me too much credit. I actually co-manage the brand alongside Jimin, garment technology. You haven’t met him, but he’s here, too. Another groomsman, he’s great. I think you’d both get along well.”
“Mmm. He’s actually the reason I became friends with Hoseok. They were friends in high school, I think and well--famous producer and designer or not, they remain close. Anyway, one thing led to another and here I am, quite the motley crew with them.”
Jeongguk laughs at that, touching over the newly fixed coat sleeve. “You sound close.”
“I suppose we do. I mean, Jimin’s practically my soulmate.”
It’s times like these Jeongguk wishes he had ordered that drink after all, because he has no excuse for the way he chokes on his own spit at the words. Even Taehyung seems to be amused, his hand reaching over to pat Jeongguk’s shoulder in mild concern.
“Are you alright?”
“Uh, yeah.” Of course, he’s not. He can’t believe he just heard those words and he shouldn’t be surprised, really. Taehyung was bound to find someone, and it shouldn’t be his place to ache over it but...he does. “I,” He can’t be petty, he tells himself. “I’m um--happy. For you, that is. I mean to say…” This is lacking any modicum of elegance the more he speaks. “I’m glad you found someone.” The reaction he gets stumps him, because all Taehyung does is raise an eyebrow while remaining quiet and all he can assume is that it must be awkward to talk to an ex about a new flame. But he doesn’t want that to be the case, he may be processing this new information and admittedly feeling this pang in his chest but he won’t be that person. “How long have you two been together?”
“Oh god.” Taehyung bursts into an amused snort, shaking his head so profusely the blonde strands shift with the movement. “Wait, Jeongguk. Jimin and I aren’t together like that.”
He hopes the way his body relaxes in relief doesn’t show as easily. “What? But I thought--”
“No.” Taehyung still laughs, breathy in sound. “We’re just friends, partners in business. He’s literally the best ever, but I could never. Not with him.” The words trail off into a giggle, Taehyung leaning over the table with his eyes fixed on the other.
“So when you say soulmate?”
“Platonic soulmate. He’s basically my...well, you’re Yoongi’s best man, right? I guess you can say he’s something like that for me. Which, by the way, you never mentioned him before.” Taehyung points accusingly, but the smile on his lips softens the blow. “Is he a new friend of yours?”
“Your Yoongi, huh?” Jeongguk smiles back at him, trying to quell the ridiculous burst of hope this conversation has brought him. It’s like a tidal wave he can’t stop, almost an instinctual reaction to know this man wasn’t seeing anybody. “And no, no, not new. I’ve actually known him since high school, we just kind of drifted apart as we grew because of college and work. It’s only when I took the job in Seoul that we grew close again. So yeah, I guess in a way he’s my Jimin.”
Taehyung beams at that, leaning into his palm as he mentions something about them all somehow being inseparable. And though the conversation can run off into endless tangents from here, Taehyung chooses to elaborate on a pressing matter Jeongguk has already made his assumption on. “But, to be clear, I’m not seeing anyone.”
“Oh, that’s good.” It leaves his lips a little too fast, and that must be why Taehyung bites back a smile, leaving Jeongguk to stumble over his words. “I mean, not good as in ‘ hey that’s good ’ but..” However, that smile only grows. “Nevermind.”
“Right.” By mercy, Taehyung opts to move along, shifting the topic over to Jeongguk when he asks, “And you?”
“Did you bring a plus one?”
It’s his turn to laugh. “No.” Blind infatuation would dictate that he overanalyze the relief he thinks he sees cross Taehyung’s eyes, but he ignores it for now in favor of explaining his current romantic life. “I’m single, too.” What possesses him to add the ‘too’ is beyond him, but Taehyung doesn’t really seem to mind. He merely hums back in response, never letting his eyes drift from Jeongguk’s. He sips casually at the last drops of his drink, sometimes gnawing on the straw subconsciously, but Jeongguk knows that action. Knows it means he’s thinking deeply or bothered by something. So it comes as no surprise when he suddenly releases the now chewed straw, fingers tucking a strand of hair behind his ear before rising from the booth.
“Well, it’s getting a little too late, isn’t it? Should probably call it a night…” He appears conflicted, but Jeongguk doesn’t pry and honestly he feels his jet lag settling in. The excitement of their reunion is still there buzzing within him, and he wonders if Taehyung feels the same but that’s a topic for another time. For now, he thinks it is best they get going.
“Yeah. Yeah, of course. You should get some rest.”
“So should you.”
Jeongguk huffs a laugh. “I’ll try.”
“I’ll see you around then, Jeongguk…?”
It’s inevitable now that they would. This wedding may be for their friends, but now Jeongguk thinks he might be here for other reasons as well. The entire days leading up to his arrival here, he had conjured endless ways this could’ve gone, but this was the last of them. He didn’t expect any deep rooted loathing, they weren’t like that, but the familiarity was the shock. Three years came and went, yet they remained just the same.
“See you around, Tae.”
Maybe it’s dramatic the way Taehyung bursts through his hotel room door, kicking it closed and immediately pacing between his two friends who seem more amused than concerned for him. He supposes he can’t blame them, it’s not exactly unheard of for him to make mountains out of molehills but when it comes to running into an ex (a very attractive one at that) one deserves some sympathy for the situation. At the time, he had managed to keep his cool around Jeongguk, or at least he thinks he did, but there’s something entirely hair-raising about hearing it straight from the man’s mouth that he didn’t bring anyone with him. Selfishly, Taehyung had spent the last day ruminating over the thought that he’d be facing Jeongguk empty handed, romantically speaking, while the other came joining in with a new person on his arm. That’s not to say he’d begrudge the other for it. Jeongguk did deserve to move on, he knows they both did but that was an impossibility on his part...he just had to wonder if it was for Jeongguk as well.
“Are you going to keep pacing a hole into the carpet or--?”
It’s Hoseok that speaks up first, eyes sparkling with mirth and Taehyung wishes he could steal a little of his positivity right now.
“I--um...ran into Jeongguk.” Their faces light up impossibly fast, each one raising a brow and trying hard to contain their smiles and he has to wonder what they find so amusing about his predicament. “Why are you smiling? I just spent the last few minutes playing catch up with my ex, and he’s as stupidly stunning as he was back then--maybe even more so. So I really hope you have a good reason to be smiling like this is suddenly such great news.” He runs a hand through his hair, huffing out an offended breath that only makes both men laugh.
“Tae,” Jimin sighs. “I thought you wanted to see him again? Wasn’t it you who said you still had feelings--”
Taehyung closes the space between them, nearly tackling Jimin back on the bed with his hand cupped over his mouth. He knows Hoseok is a close friend, but he hasn’t exactly revealed much to him save for earlier in the day when he arrived. Providing history was one thing, laying bare the emotions another and he didn’t want to place any sort of burden on Hoseok’s wedding. Least of all his own emotional baggage.
But that seems to do little; in the end Hoseok is the one leaning over, placing a gentle hand around his wrist and pulling it free from Jimin’s mouth who glares playfully up at him. “Hey,” he says. “It’s okay, Tae. I...well, Yoongi kind of filled me in a little, too.”
“Yeah.” He nods. “He did.”
It occurs to Taehyung that Jeongguk must’ve mentioned him to his friend, because though he met Yoongi through Skype and in person today, he wasn’t close enough to reveal all his secrets just yet. In a hopeless manner, he clings to that thought and maybe it’s slightly unhealthy of him to do so but it must mean something.
It has to.
He can’t be the only one having nursed a gaping hole in his heart for someone he never wanted to part from to begin with.
“Ah, ah.” Hoseok holds a finger up, giving a sympathetic smile but shaking his head all the same. “Yoongi is notoriously private with his friends, Tae. Even if I knew everything, I’d respect him and Jeongguk enough not to spill. That being said, I know you broke up a while ago and though it was mutual it wasn’t exactly wanted.” He pats over Taehyung’s hand, finally coaxing him off Jimin who grumbles from being squished against the mattress. “However, when you mentioned him this morning to me, I already figured you still had feelings for him.”
“Oh god.” Taehyung plops onto the bed, arms splayed out and taking up much of the room. “Am I that obvious? I swear it wasn’t something I ever planned on entertaining again...in fact, I kind of just accepted it, I guess. Years will do that to you…” He turns his head towards them both, smiling when he sees the understanding expressions they hold. “But then Jimin mentioned he’d be here, and...it’s like opening a can of worms. Every little thing came flooding back and I was psyching myself out and telling myself maybe it’s just a fondness for the old times. Or maybe I’m letting my affection get the best of me…”
“I remember you saying you might not want to run into him.” Jimin interjects, rubbing his thigh in comfort.
“Yeah, for a brief moment I thought I did.” Taehyung can’t help but chuckle, knowing he was a mess when he found out yesterday. Of course, those feelings never left. But again, convincing himself it was long gone for good was his life after some time and now? Now he’s unable to grasp the fact Jeongguk is right here under his nose and what’s he to do with that information. “Hell, I was still trying to pretend him being here was a joke or something. And then I go and run into him just now…” A small smile finds its way to his lips, making him think back on that moment and realize how good it felt. How familiar it all was, sitting there, sewing his clothes. If he closed his eyes tightly, he’d be back in their old home and running a needle through an old college hoodie while scolding the other for his lack of grace.
“And?” Jimin presses.
“It’s not important, besides, we have Hobi’s wedding to--”
“Taehyung,” Hoseok laughs, nudging his foot with his own. “Don’t worry about that, I trust you and Jeongguk to be adults and not make a scene out of this. I know it seems odd, but it really isn’t that rare to run into an ex.”
“It is when so long has passed and it’s somehow across countries and for a friend’s wedding.” Taehyung pouts, head angled up before he drops it back on the bed in despair. “Ugh, you don’t understand. It was so easy.” And that was the worst part, or fortunate depending how he looked at it. He feared running into Jeongguk for the first time in years, but the truth is, it ended up being no different than before. One look into those precious doe eyes and he was gone. Thrown back into their younger years and so hopelessly smitten, and oh, how he’s grown more. His physique is bulkier, still tapering into a thin waist and facial features a little more defined. Handsome, was the only word Taehyung could think when he laid eyes on him downstairs. Handsome, sweet and unfortunately not his anymore. “It’s like we molded into what we used to have, and it wasn’t even a long conversation. I don’t know how he does it.”
“Does what?” They ask in unison, between discussing Hoseok having to leave back to Yoongi and his room in a bit.
“Makes me feel like I’m in love all over again.”
“I’ve known you for a long time, and I’m supposed to believe you lost your footing for someone?” Namjoon is settled at the desk in their hotel room, working through some coding as Jeongguk stares at himself in the mirror, hands working to rip his tie off.
“That’s a bit backhanded…”
“Backhanded? Aren’t you, I don’t know, really good at hookups to begin with? Since when do you become a blushing, stammering mess?”
“I think I was close to passing out.” He’s still flustered by the encounter, mind constantly returning to that hotel bar and analyzing every little detail he can. It’s probably a terrible idea to make more out of seeing Taehyung again, but he can’t help thinking there was a hint of more there. At least a fondness for each other, even if he already knew he’s still shouldering feelings for him. “It’s almost pathetic, hyung.” And it was, it honestly was. How can he pretend he wasn’t an eager man when it came to Taehyung all over again. Sure, he was fearful of reuniting before but now it’s a simmering hum of infatuation returning to him, along with that constant nag of familiarity that is the culprit of his hope rising. A dangerous thing, really. Who’s to say Taehyung isn’t just being civil, he did seem fairly unfazed by him, but then again...no one mends their ex’s clothing for fun. There must be some form of willingness in Taehyung to want to speak and be around him.
“Hm?” Namjoon turns his head back to him, glasses slipping down to the bridge of his nose. “What is?”
“You clearly aren’t listening.” Jeongguk smirks, rolling his eyes and tossing his tie on the ottoman.
“I’ve had to sit on a ten hour flight with you texting me about Taehyung--which by the way, I didn’t purchase in air Wi-Fi just for you to abuse it. Forgive me if I’ve lost interest.”
“That so? Thought you’d be heartbroken I didn’t join you on your flight, so texting was the next best thing.” Jeongguk knows he’s teasing, but he still scoffs back in feigned offense. His hands work on unbuttoning his dress shirt, eyes working back to his reflection and childishly wondering if Taehyung thought he looked presentable. After all, he always tried to still impress the man when he had a chance. Seems even that was a hard habit to forget after all these years. “So, excuse me for my emotional baggage.”
“If only the airline had lost that in transit.” Namjoon jokes, laughing harder when he sees Jeongguk squint his eyes at him.
“It’s amazing you’re one of my best friends.”
Turning in his chair, Namjoon bows in apology, but Jeongguk knows he barely means it. “Alright,” He waves in his direction, still smiling as he gives Jeongguk his full attention now. “Go off. I understand this is important, you know I’m only joking.”
“I can’t tell if you’re mocking me.”
“Jeongguk,” He says with finality, eyes taking on the common serious role he’s more used to seeing on Namjoon at work. “I mean it.” And it’s clear he truly does, pointing towards the bed for Jeongguk to take a seat and explain all this turmoil he’s gotten himself into. Though Jeongguk wonders if it counts as his fault. He supposes it does, if you go way back to that Sunday three years ago…
“We’re not,” Jeongguk takes the offer happily, dropping down on the bed with burdened force. “Even friends, Joon. Me and him...I haven’t heard from Taehyung, seen him--fuck, nothing in three years.” In all the months that piled up it never did get easier in a sense. Sure, he grew to ignore it most hours but it still lingered in the back of his mind by the day. “But one look at him,” he laughs, almost pained. “And it all floods back. Like the stormgate broke...fuck’s sake, hyung. It’s almost too easy. I knew I’d always care for him, knew I could never get over what we had but I just---I remembered. After seeing him in person again, I remembered.”
“Just how much I loved him.”
Coming to a startling (yet not entirely so) revelation becomes a trend for Jeongguk over the next few days. After so brazenly spewing his heart to Namjoon that night, he’s constantly reminded again and again that he’s spent too long pretending the feelings resurfacing weren’t always there to begin with. Scratch that, he knew, he just pretended he could live with them, but one look at Taehyung again and he’s certain that would have never been the case. He knows he’s been nursing this heartache since they parted, he just figured it would stay that way because no amount of fortune and destiny can bring two people back together…
Needless to say, Jeongguk’s come to realize he’s found himself royally fucked by the fates of the world. Funny, he puts so much weight on destiny and all it’s ever done is make him hate it. Maybe this time it’s doing him something of a favor, but then he realizes it’s been two days since the night in the bar and he hasn’t seen Taehyung since. Either the man is avoiding him, or they just aren’t colliding like he hoped. Since then, he’s been entertaining a number of scenarios of their next chat, but if he’s honest he tends to let his daydreams get the best of him and none have come true. Probably a good thing, because at the end of the day they’re still very much exes and sometimes life just keeps it that way. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t try this time in some way. Just because life tore them apart doesn’t mean he can’t now be friends with him...right? After all, he didn’t actively attempt to find Taehyung again, it just happened...and maybe it can happen again. Just a glimpse, he tells himself, a small glimpse of Taehyung while he’s here. He can keep his cool this time, or so he believes. Truth is, nothing had prepared him for bumping into the other again, even if he came here knowing they would see each other, it still made him internally gasp. Because for all the physical changes of Taehyung, he was still very much his Tae from three years ago.
It’s the very reason he unfortunately finds himself pining again. Following some invisible trail of crumbs that could lead him towards the blond while he’s here. Just another look, he tells himself. Just one and then he’ll be okay. Jeongguk convinces himself destiny brought him here to see Taehyung again, but then he decides to take some of Yoongi’s advice and add a little spice of his own doing. Maybe his friend is right, maybe he has to try harder or ignore his usual modus operandi, but that seems easier said than done.
He just doesn’t know how to handle these sorts of things. Another reason he let the universe call the shots.
Two days fly by with no sign of Taehyung, and Jeongguk has to chalk it up to wedding plans being made or solved because Hoseok has also been missing. But it’s the third day now, and Yoongi and Hoseok have decided to take a little time for themselves to have dinner away from their respective groomsmen before the stress of rehearsals and pre-wedding activities take place. Namjoon had also buggered off somewhere to contemplate his own life choices--maybe, Jeongguk just likes to pretend the guys gets up to the weirdest shit when not at work. Though he was more than likely just out at the museums or bookstores. And Jin? He was undoubtedly out at each bar and restaurant in the vicinity and eating whatever he could get his hands on, but all this left Jeongguk here. On the edge of the hotel down by the field that overlooked the Norwegian sea. And it’s fucking cold. Even through Jeongguk’s coat he can feel the bite of the freezing weather, but it’s either sulk in his hotel over life not giving him what he wants now or come outside and find something to entertain himself with.
Turns out, that means trying to chase Taehyung across hotel floors and lobbies or even the nearby town. He’d have scoffed at himself not so long ago for this, but he has to show some humility now. This is the very thing he often thought he should’ve done back then, to go after him.
Funny. Maybe he really does have destiny to thank for this. Or maybe his own actions this time around...or maybe he just over thinks every little thing.
Sighing, Jeongguk takes a seat on the wooden fence that surrounds the patio, eyes taking in the waves of the sea and the beach that has a few guests lingering. Must be locals, he thinks, because there’s no way he’d be caught dead near the water in this weather. Still, the sound of the water is soothing enough, crisp air welcomed and for one moment he closes his eyes. Escaping to happier times, where he’s not at some hotel countries away. His feet aren’t on grass or sand, they’re flat against concrete, and his posh coat is only a hoodie, his hands tucked into the pocket on the front. He’s not overlooking the Norwegian sea, either. No, he’s in South Korea on a bridge overlooking the Han River...and if he listens close enough, he can hear him.
I’m in love with you, you know.
Years can threaten to go by, but he’d always vividly remember that night. He can even picture Taehyung right there, inches away from him, within arms reach, brown hair tousling in the breeze, with his back turned to him.
Jeongguk opens his eyes, thankful for the cold now because he can’t even form the tears that seem to tickle at his lash line. He looks down towards the dock, and for a brief moment he thinks he’s hallucinating again. Just like the bar scene unfolding. Too good to be true, too frightening to be real...but when he blinks once, twice, he’s still there.
Blond hair in the wind, red scarf billowing, a very stark contrast to his brown coat and if Jeongguk wasn’t so preoccupied with his heart beating right out of his chest, he’d have laughed at how ridiculous that color scheme is but knowing fully well Taehyung makes it work.
The man is shadowed by the night taking over the sky, but Jeongguk knows now he’d recognize him anywhere, even from this distance. “I’m not losing my mind…” So, he steps closer, but as he suspected, the figure doesn’t fade like a mirage. “Taehyung…”
“Are you looking for him?”
Jeongguk nearly yelps in surprise when a voice comes from beside him, making him balance one hand on the fence post before he falls over. He glances over to find a short, pink-haired guy, two drinks in hand. “I--well, no? Or, I mean...yes?”
His rambling only makes the man snort. “Well, which is it---wait, you look familiar.” He squints his eyes suspiciously at him, before they comically widen as he lifts one finger to point at him, drink still in hand. “Jeon Jeongguk!”
“Y-Yes? How do you--”
“I’m Jimin.” He says, as if that answers the question. “Taehyung’s best friend? Soulmate? Ring any bells?” It’s the way he says it with such pride that makes Jeongguk smile, even if he still isn’t fully aware of what’s happening. “Taehyung has shown me pictures of you. Nice to finally put a voice to the face.”
Jeongguk’s sure that isn’t how that old saying goes, but he smiles anyway. “Ah, right. He mentioned you the other night. It’s nice to meet you, but I’m afraid I don’t know much else about you...though, I guess that’s understandable.”
Jimin scoffs at that, seemingly amused by the notion of them not being friends already. “No offense taken.” Then, he looks down to the dock where Taehyung still stands, a little devilish grin appearing. “It’s not like I know much about you either. Save for certain details.”
“Certain details? Wait,” Jeongguk says belatedly. “You said he showed you pictures of me?”
“Don’t flatter yourself just yet.” He laughs. “What kind of best friend would I be if I didn’t ask to snoop after old boyfriends? Granted, I never put two and two together when I heard your name as one of Yoongi’s crew. Who would’ve guessed, huh?”
“Yeah.” Jeongguk thinks he can definitely relate to the surprise, but his mind is now more distracted by another detail. He glances down towards Taehyung’s figure, a small smile on his lips when he thinks of him sharing pictures with his friends of him. Briefly, he wonders what he might’ve said about him, if he said anything at all. Or maybe it was all curses thrown his way, but then he buries that thought because it hurts and he’s also aware Taehyung wouldn’t be so callous. Truthfully, he probably shouldn’t care this much, or analyze this much but he can’t help it now. “Seems crazy.”
“You know, if I hadn’t seen your picture before, I would’ve taken you for some creep.”
“You’ve been staring at him so intensely for minutes now.” Jimin raises an amused eyebrow at him, making Jeongguk feel the tips of his ears burn red.
“I wasn’t--I mean…”
“Tsk.” After a solid second of teasing expressions, Jimin shoves one of the drinks in his hand, wiggling his eyebrows in a much too knowing way it makes Jeongguk want to run back inside. “Do the honors. I’ll just go back inside where it’s warm. Use your time well.” He trails off, whistling some random tune as he turns on his heel to walk back inside the hotel, one hand waving over his shoulder.
Jeongguk takes a moment to catch up, eyes looking down at the drink in his hands, feeling the warmth radiate through the gloves on his palms. “Oh.” He breathes a laugh, knowing fully well he’s just been given another opportunity. Fate or a what-if moment? He can debate that all day, but for now he’ll put that fear of messing up again aside. Can’t have Taehyung’s drink running cold, right? That’s what he tells himself, and slowly he begins to make his way down to the dock, never letting his eyes move from the man he was so infatuated with, that even when he gets close he feels himself gulp hard.
“Jimin, what took you so long? I was--Oh!” Taehyung clasps a hand over his mouth, looking like he was close to making a fool out of himself but Jeongguk can only laugh. It’s not like he knew what to say either, everything seemed so woefully insufficient now. “You’re not Jimin.”
“No, I’m not.” Jeongguk chuckles, leaning against the same railing as he holds the cup out to him, not missing the pretty flush that paints those oddly endearing cheeks of his ex. “Though I did have the pleasure of finally meeting this soulmate of yours.”
“Oh god. What did he tell you?” Taehyung plays nervously with the lid of the drink, flicking the tab back and forth.
“Not much. Just something about you showing him pictures of me.” He can hear the way Taehyung mutters an oh my god , but he’s not in the mood to completely tease him tonight. For now, he’s content to just linger in this reunion. They played something of a very quick catch up the other night, this one they can take slow. “Don’t worry. He made sure to let me know it was his own curiosity.”
“He did, indeed.”
“That’s good.” Taehyung breathes in relief, evidently noticing the way Jeongguk raises his eyebrows at him, because he lifts his hands in defense. “Not that I regret you, or anything!” But really Jeongguk isn’t offended, he’s far more amused and endeared by the cute way he stammers, no doubt being the flustered one tonight. If there’s one thing he remembers about them, it was the constant give and take they shared. So easy to rile each other up at points, and yet play the demure lover the next. “Okay, wait. Can we rewind this whole conversation? Because I think I’m making a fool of myself and it’s barely the second run-in with you.”
“Trust me, you’re not.”
“Says you.” Taehyung pouts, and all Jeongguk can do is bite back a laugh.
“Alright, alright. Conversation forgotten.” He concedes, smiling as he glances out towards the water. The weather is still cold, but Jeongguk has to admit it feels less so in his company, a fact he’s trying to forget. “Can I ask what you’re doing out here in this weather? Jimin didn’t seem fond of it.”
Soft white puffs of air filter out, Taehyung huffing in mild amusement when he rolls his eyes at his friend’s behavior. “Too stuffy inside. The views are worth the frigid weather, anyway. Don’t you agree?”
Now, Jeongguk would never pretend he wasn’t the romantic sort. He loved a good sentimental moment like the next person, but right now he’s close to truly emphasizing just how much. After all, if the views were anything to admire, it would explain why he had just spent an inordinate amount of time standing back by the fence up the hill taking in said views...He should probably thank Jimin one day for snapping him out of his daze.
“And you?” Taehyung nudges him, taking a slight sip of his drink. “What are you doing out here? I know you’ve always liked the cold but this seems excessive.”
“I was,” Jeongguk rubs at his nape. “Just looking around.”
“Nothing in particular.” Though the someone in particular hesitates on his lips. “Everyone’s out and I was stuck inside the hotel. Didn’t exactly make any plans today.”
“Kind of figured I’d just join in on the activities the grooms have planned and leave these past few days open for...whatever.”
“Can I be blunt with you?”
“You’re so dull.”
The comment makes them both laugh, and really, Jeongguk doesn’t have an argument for it. He’s never been one for vacations, at least not after they broke up. It was something that lost its spark when you find yourself alone and regular mundane tourist activities are just that, mundane. Besides, Taehyung was always the more adventurous one of them two, so before he even found out from Yoongi that his ex would be here, Jeongguk didn’t bother scrawling in exploring on his itinerary.
“Who comes to another country and just locks themselves up in the hotel?”
“It sounded like a comfortable idea to me.” Jeongguk laughs, biting back how strong it is when he just gets another incredulous look from the other.
“You know me,” He shrugs, momentarily flushing when he realizes how that sounds. It’s been too long for him to make that assumption, but he gets the feeling it still holds true over the years. “I’ve always been a homebody.”
Taehyung seems to consider this for a moment, eyes downcast and on the cup in his hands. He takes a slow sip, nodding mutely before saying, “That doesn’t have to apply to vacations. Let alone weddings.”
In some way, Jeongguk knows he’s right. But, again, this isn’t something he bothered with after their parting. If he ever did take days off from work it was simply to lounge at home in his underwear while testing new games or playing some of his favorites. When he thinks back on it, it sounds almost pathetic how much his life changed afterwards. Plenty of old hobbies lost their shine, and maybe it’s sad to admit how he closed himself off even more but it happened. Thinking on it now, he really did end up becoming a shell of a person. Without Taehyung around, everything fell into a cycle of obligation, mere survival. Friends made it easier, but they never quite filled that void. “I guess not…”
Taehyung simply smiles at him, as if he somehow knows Jeongguk isn’t as easily convinced, but he doesn’t press the matter. He just sighs outwardly, holding his drink towards him. “Sip?”
“Oh.” It shouldn’t mean so much, they’ve shared far more in the past, but considering where they’re at now with each other, Jeongguk feels that familiar heat burn deep inside. “Thanks.” He mutters, taking the cup and carefully stealing a sip, trying not to chuckle when he tastes the sweet flavor, chocolate overloading his mouth. “Hot chocolate, huh?”
“You haven’t changed.”
“Look who’s talking. But really,” Taehyung nods at him, taking the cup back as if offended Jeongguk would joke about his preferences. “You can’t tell me there isn’t anything that’s caught your eye here?”
Sometimes Jeongguk thinks the other is setting him up for bad pickup lines. Him or the universe, it’s hard to tell these days. But in all seriousness, if only Taehyung knew how deep those words hit. How long he’s spent in the past few days just trailing after nothing but hope and nostalgic fondness.
“Not really….I mean, the view is enough around here.”
“What about your friends, Namjoon and Jin, right?”
“They’ve got their own stuff planned and even if I did tag along it wouldn’t be something I’d care to do.” The more he speaks, the more he realizes how sad it sounds. He can only hope Taehyung doesn’t think he’s some pathetic hermit these days, though some of that may ring true. For a second, he contemplates changing the subject, anything to stop the silence that draped over them. But, Taehyung beats him to it.
“You know,” He says, fidgeting with the lid of his hot chocolate. “You really don’t have to be alone here…”
“I’m not sulking in the corner of my room.” Jeongguk laughs, not that that makes his current plans any better. “I just...I don’t know.”
“I know you’re not, Jeongguk, but you can still go out and enjoy what this country has to offer.”
“Well,” He tilts his head towards him, but Jeongguk can tell he’s trying to look everywhere but his eyes. It’s endearing, if he’s honest, and he can’t help but remember how easy it was to make Taehyung shy. The man was a spitfire of a person, but there comes forth the duality of him. He was just as prone to teasing as anyone else.
“Well?” Jeongguk presses, stepping closer just to steal another sip of his drink, trying not to smile when Taehyung mouths a soft ‘ oh ’.
“Well, you can hang out with me, for starters.”
Jeongguk feels it again, that warmth developing within him. The kind that lets him get his hopes up but he knows it would be foolish to think they’ve both remained pining all these years. After all, he knows this man. Knows Taehyung couldn’t stomach the idea of a single person being left out, and knew he’d likely extend this invitation of kindness to any soul, even a stranger. It’s one of the reasons Jeongguk fell so hard for him in the first place. So, no, he can’t fathom that Taehyung is doing this for any other reasons besides being the beautiful person he already was. “Thanks.” He says, teasing lilt to his tone. “But I’m not sure I’m up for third wheeling you and your soulmate.”
“Shut up.” Taehyung hits his arm, grabbing his hot chocolate back for good. “We would never do that to you. I’ll have you know we’re excellent hosts and tour guides.”
“I don’t doubt that.”
“Good. But, I mean it, Jeongguk.” They turn to look at each other, Jeongguk’s eyes subconsciously trailing towards those plush lips, noting the way he still bites them when slightly nervous. “There’s one more day between this moment and the grooms planned group activities.” He smiles. “Don’t spend it alone. No matter how much your old soul tells you to.”
The offer is more than tempting, and Jeongguk knows Taehyung is being kind to him but he can’t help but wish there’s a little more to it than that. Yet, if there isn’t, he’ll just end up back at square one all over again. Pretending he can move on with his life, when really all he’s been doing is existing. And that’s nowhere near the same.
“Think about it?”
Logically, Jeongguk should refuse him. He spent three years trying to move on as it stands, should he throw that all the way in the hopes they can get back what they had before? When Yoongi had told him he’d be here, the naive part of his brain said they could at least be friends, but seeing Taehyung in the flesh destroyed all of that. They can never be just friends , not with their history. Not when his heart still beats like a fucking drum whenever he sees him. So, he relents. Forgoes the protection he has on his heart that was meant to keep his dignity. “I will.”
“Good.” Taehyung gives him a small smile, looking back towards the hotel before leaning away from the railing of the dock. “I’ll text you in the morning?”
“Um--yeah? Do you need my number?”
“No. Still have it...unless you changed it?”
Jeongguk tries to ignore the way that makes his heart flutter. “I haven’t.” Because it seems they both kept hold of the contact, probably wishing for the same thing after that night.
That they would find each other again. Even if it meant waiting on the other side of a phone screen a country away.
“Remind me to sew my stupid lips shut.” Taehyung falls face first into the bed, grumbling when he hears Jimin cackling from the couch in their hotel room. He knows his friend is finding far too much entertainment in his predicament now, but somehow that brings the slightest of comforts. Knowing how protective Jimin can be, he expected him to lead him away from doing anything foolish. To be the voice of reason and tell him it’s been three years, to let it go and learn to finally move on. Maybe even get some closure, but do not--for any reason, realize the feelings you tried to subdue are now spilling over. But that wasn’t the case, surprisingly. At least not entirely. Jimin still warned him against rushing into it, but for the most part Hoseok and him had both given their blessing to pursue whatever it is his heart told him, and maybe it’s the wedding making everyone sappy but he thinks he may have to hug them both extra hard for their support. Even if he still wasn’t one hundred percent sure what he wanted or expected from this turn of events.
“What did you do this time? Sew his underwear for him?” Jimin snickers from the corner, eyes on his phone where he remains texting.
Taehyung would’ve loved to throw his pillow that way, but he felt much better burying his face into it and lamenting about opening his big mouth. “No.” He breathes tiredly into the pillow, turning slightly until his cheek is squished against it. “I may have just...lightly implied I’ve been sitting around for years hoping he’d call me or I’d call him…”
“How do you lightly imply that?”
Jimin stands from the couch, nudging him over to give him room on his bed even with a perfectly empty one just across from them. Not that Taehyung wants to begrudge the affection, he feels he needs it right now.
“By inviting him to hang out with us and then proceeding to say I’ll text him. You should’ve seen the look on his face.” He’s no mind reader, but judging by the way Jeongguk’s eyebrows shot up, the man was clearly surprised to know Taehyung held onto his phone number. At least Jeongguk hadn’t changed his own. It may not mean he kept Taehyung’s, but it was nice to know he didn’t disapprove completely from the chance of ever speaking again. “I probably looked so desperate…”
“I doubt that.”
Fingers brush through his hair, light and feathery, easing the embarrassment he feels. Part of him thinks he shouldn’t feel any shame at holding onto Jeongguk’s number, they were friends before lovers, after all. Some part of them must have mutually wanted to hold onto even a semblance of a relationship. Platonic or not. “Three years and I go and embarrass myself in just a couple of days around him. I just...he drives me crazy.”
“That bad, huh?”
“I thought I could do this, Jimin. I did, but I can’t. Even the last few days with you and Hoseok weren’t enough of a distraction.”
“Well, now I feel used.”
Taehyung snorts at that, kicking him softly with the tips of his toes. “You know I don’t mean it like that. I just didn’t think this would ever happen, you know? One minute he’s a memory, the next he’s right there...within arms reach and every single part of me wants to go to him.” He looks over at his friend, feeling his eyes water with just enough emotions to remind him why Jeongguk would never stay in the past. “I spent three years trying to fall out of love, Jimin. I think I even convinced myself I was for a time. Now he’s here again and it’s like everything I wanted to say back then, throughout the years, is flooding out.” He wipes the corner of his eye, letting out a reprieved laugh that makes Jimin smile. “I’m probably romanticizing this, aren’t I?”
“Maybe.” Jimin says, shrugging. “Maybe not. You said it yourself, it didn’t end on bad terms. I think you both might be trying to work through this shock. I mean, your relationship meant a lot to the both of you, it’s expected that you’d be feeling this way.”
“Just talk to him, Tae. See if he’s still the guy you tell me you have feelings for.” He smiles, wiggling his eyebrows. “I mean, you did invite him to hang out.”
“Actually, I’ve just decided I’m busy tomorrow.”
“What?” He laughs, fending off Taehyung’s gentle hits. “You brought this on yourself. Besides, with the company branching into Seoul, it’ll be good for you both to at least be friends, right? Or who knows...maybe even try again, at a reasonable and unimpulsive pace?”
“I don’t want us to be together because it’s convenient now…he doesn’t even know I’m moving back.”
“So what was the plan?” He presses. “Move back and just...keep going on like you were? Listen, Tae, I’m not pushing you to reignite your relationship with him. I’m just saying you’ve been given a chance to have closure, or who knows. Just run with it, right?”
Taehyung’s always been one to find the freedom in the fall, which is why what Jimin supplies him with in the form of advice is more than welcomed. Even if he can’t stop the anxiety that comes from it. Of course, he’d love nothing more than to run with the situation he finds himself in, but this isn’t the usual on the spot decision he’s used to making. If this was work related, he’d go with his gut immediately. This, however, is not work. This isn’t as easy as picking a color, or a marketing ploy...this was being worlds away for a friend’s wedding only to find yourself facing an ex that you never quite got over. The romantic in him says to take Jimin’s advice, but the Taehyung from three years ago screams that he’ll just end up with his heartbroken all over again. He survived that once, he doesn’t know if he’s capable of doing it again.
Yet, he won’t deny that the thought isn’t tempting. To even rekindle the friendship they had before they fell in love long ago...it wasn’t a terrible idea. He thinks he can do that, at least. Jeongguk has been amicable enough the last few conversations. In fact, Taehyung would argue they’re both a little too comfortable with each other. It’s like nothing has changed, and that’s the fearful part. Still, he’s willing to put aside the fear and try at this...whatever it may be. After all, maybe Jimin was right. Closure was important; maybe Taehyung just needed to spend time with Jeongguk to ease the familiarity back into his life. To not be fond of it in the romantic sense, but simply bringing back an old happiness he could cherish.
He could do that, he thinks. He can let them become friends once more. There’s no part of this that explicitly states he needs to fall in love all over again. Even if he had already admitted those feelings still lingered strongly inside him. He did manage to rein them in for years now, he can handle a mere week...
Taehyung might’ve spoken far too soon on the matter. It’s not even twenty four hours later where he begins to realize that being just friends with Jeon Jeongguk is an impossibility. Not for lack of want or trying, either. He simply just couldn’t fathom what being only friends with Jeongguk was anymore, not after everything they’ve been through. Simple reality is, that you don’t hold such a passionate romance with someone and then ever just revert back to friendship. Taehyung might understand he needs to be amicable, and he will be, but one look at Jeongguk walking from the elevator with a coat slung over his arm and his heart practically seizes in his chest. The guy looks tragically handsome, tragic for Taehyung anyway. With his side swept hair, piercings swinging back and forth and though he’s wearing a simple blue cable knit sweater and jeans, he looks...gorgeous. Taehyung has to admit, he’s come a long way from the endless hoodies and joggers he wore back then. Not that he disliked that fashion, Jeongguk looked fantastic in anything he wore. It was just breathtaking to actually see him in something new for a change. For a moment, he even questions if this is what he’s been missing for three years.
Bless Jimin for ditching him today just for this chance…
Jeongguk beams at him, soft smile and crinkled eyes and Taehyung forces down the enamored sigh. “H-Hey…” He probably sounds like an idiot, but there’s something curiously beautiful about the way Jeongguk glances around, brows furrowing when he realizes it’s just them. Taehyung had text him this morning like he promised, but he failed to mention the small detail of Jimin not tagging along. He feels a little cheap for doing that, but part of him worried over Jeongguk refusing to hang out if it meant it was only them two. “Um, Jimin couldn’t make it...he was going to help Hoseok with some wedding details.” A blatant lie, but he hoped Jeongguk wouldn’t see past that.
“Yeah, I can see that.” He smiles again. “So, it’s just us?”
“Mmhm. I hope that’s okay?”
For a split second Taehyung thinks Jeongguk might scoff and walk away, but the man just nods at him, looking almost relieved but Taehyung reminds himself not to read too much into things.
But fuck--is it hard when Jeongguk just openly says things like that. “Oh? That’s...good, yes good.” Taehyung chuckles, feeling his face heat at how awkward he’s being. For god’s sake, they’ve literally slept together, and been as exposed as one human can be to another. Yet, he can’t help but suddenly feel like this is the beginning of a first date and if that isn’t the epitome of pathetic, he doesn’t know what is. “So, I was thinking maybe some breakfast, first? If you’re hungry.”
“That sounds great.”
And so the late morning finds them in a nearby cafe, one of Taehyung’s choosing because Jeongguk was ignorantly unaware of Norwegian culture. Something Taehyung wasn’t merciful on teasing him about. After their chat last night by the docks, it occurred to Taehyung how little Jeongguk had changed. He supposed he noticed when they first met those few days ago, but the more they spoke the more he understood how their personalities never faded. Being more financially stable, moving up in their careers...it didn’t change them as people, and it’s something that unfortunately happens because Taehyung has seen it with others. Knows some of his fellow coworkers weren’t always in high end fashion and with that swift change brought unhealthy arrogance and the like. For them, however, Taehyung could take one look between their reflections in the cafe window by their table and only see them from years ago. The same Jeongguk and Taehyung, college students, and every bit the open books to each other.
And it’s frightening.
The ease of which they settle into this conversation they’re having. The way Jeongguk chats between bites of food and sips of coffee. The way he still takes his black and dull against Taehyung’s penchant for sweeter flavors. Somewhere between gaming topics and fashion choices, Taehyung loses the thread of their conversation, because he’s much more focused on the way Jeongguk gestures with his hands as he speaks. How he still smiles with all teeth and crinkled nose...he’s so lost in him, he finds. So painfully and pathetically lost in the moment he just nods with a faint smile at each word he thinks he hears, chin resting in his palm. Try as he might, Taehyung can’t even recall what it was like to be without Jeongguk for so long. Train yourself to be alone, to stay pining after an ex and you think you can heal...but all it takes is one reminder. Just one and Taehyung realizes no one or nothing would ever be able to replicate this. It’s a miracle he even tried to start over with others.
Jimin’s words rattle around his brain; they tell him he’s being foolish. Tell him to seek closure and figure this out, and see where it leads. It doesn’t have to mean anything, but Taehyung looks over at Jeongguk and he finds that’s not possible.
No matter the outcome of their reunion, or the end of their past romance...this will always mean something.
“So, how’s Japan treating you?”
Taehyung blinks back into reality, flushing slightly when he realizes he’s been zoned out the last few minutes. He can only hope it wasn’t obvious. “Japan, right--um...good. It’s good. Amazing fashion culture.” He smiles, trying to find a topic to bring up. “Beautiful sights, fantastic food.” And it’s all true, he’s grown to hold a fondness for the country that became his new home for years, but when he says all of this to Jeongguk..he can’t help but feel how uninspired it all sounds. He knows moving did wonders for his career, and most of his logic screams that he wouldn’t change it for the world. However, it all sounds so lackluster when he compares it to having left something great behind as well.
“Bet you’re eager to head back then, huh?” Jeongguk grins at him, dabbing his lips with a napkin before setting his empty plate aside. “Sounds amazing.”
Taehyung nods faintly at him, biting down on his bottom lip but it does little to stop the words from spilling out. “You should’ve visited.” He sees the rise of Jeongguk’s eyebrows, his words now stammering out as he attempts to wave off the implications. “I mean, I know how much you like the developers over there. I’m sure you’d love to see what the rest of the country has to offer.” For what it’s worth, Jeongguk doesn’t reply with a snappy response, just stops for a moment, a barely there smile as he says, “Yeah, I should’ve...but...did you ever miss South Korea?”
Miss it? Taehyung thinks that might be an understatement, but he can’t help but feel there’s a deeper meaning to that question. “Yeah.” He breathes. “I missed it.” It’s the very reason he nearly screamed when he heard their company would branch out there. It was always his intention to find his way home eventually, but he never thought it would be so soon. Never thought along the journey he’d be in Norway and facing one giant reason he dreamed of going back. Jimin was right, though. He had no plan to ever see Jeongguk again. Daydreams and hope were one thing, and he usually believed so fully in them, but love was an entirely different issue when it came to that. It takes two people willing to dream and make it a reality. Sometimes he just believed it was his wishful thinking alone, and that would never have gotten him very far. Which is why he still hasn’t broken the news to Jeongguk that he’ll be moving back. He knows he doesn’t technically owe him the confession, in fact, he never expected to see him again. He just doesn’t want them to feel forced into anything right now.
They’ve done this before, haven’t they? Forced into a decision. It didn’t end like he wanted last time, and now he fears maybe that’ll happen all over again.
Taehyung already holds his own apprehensions about this surprise reunion. He committed to moving on before, tried to anyway, but seeing Jeongguk again made him forget all about that. Reason flew out the window, and old fondness drifted back. Still, just because he spent three years like this, doesn’t mean it was mutual. He knew Jeongguk loved him dearly, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t successful in doing what Taehyung never could.
And looking at him now, all smiles and handsome features...he knows he’ll always feel like this.
“There’s some shops nearby. Do you want to go?” Taehyung asks, hoping to ease the turmoil by just letting himself have more time with him.
Jeongguk watches Taehyung rifle through some shops, smiling when he finds something he likes and gives that huge smile he grew to adore. They’ve been at this for hours now, probably longer than is considered healthy for shopping but Jeongguk can’t say he minds. Quite the opposite, he’s rather fond of tagging along and mostly observing as Taehyung holds numerous shopping bags against his one. He’s never been as willing to part with his money like the other was, but that was just them, he reminisces. Taehyung being the fun, outgoing, adventurous type and him more subdued in all endeavors. Besides, Jeongguk always preferred seeing Taehyung happy and carefree. The rest was merely...details. And considering where they were, and how they collided again in life, he was happy to do this all over again. Hanging back and trailing after Taehyung into tea shops, confectionery stores, and the like. Even as the sun dipped into the horizon, and the winter air grew colder around them he still didn’t harbor a single complaint.
Taehyung had the kindness to invite him out, after all and Jeongguk wasn’t going to waste such an offer. Admittedly, he was nervous when he woke up today and saw a single text asking if meeting at ten would be great and not because it was Taehyung texting him. Just the sight of seeing that name pop up on his lock screen after years felt overwhelming. He remembers nearly dropping the phone on his face, hearing a snicker from Namjoon who was just exiting the bathroom. But Jeongguk was too busy staring at the name to care. He knows that makes him sound ridiculously whipped, but it’s not like he ever stopped to begin with.
He glances behind him, smiling when Taehyung waves inside one of the bookshops, gesturing for him to follow. Jeongguk does so happily, but he stops just short of the entrance when he takes in the field across the small strip of shops. It’s barren, just filled with frosty grass and foliage but no less beautiful against the stark white of winter. Korea has true winters, but there’s something enchanting about this one. Maybe it’s because it holds that old Christmas style winter you see in movies, and Jeongguk would be foolish not to admire its landscape. He looks back at the bookshop, giving one last smile seeing Taehyung through the window perusing some shelves before he steps away, moving down the stoney street and towards the edge of the field. The white of snow goes on for miles, and he looks around the endless blanket of it all before he catches sight of some small yellow flowers buried beneath ice. They’re barely clinging to life, three of them poking out of the patch of snow but Jeongguk thinks they hold their own beauty anyway.
Whimsical, he’d call them and when he looks back at the bookshop to make sure Taehyung isn’t calling for him, he turns back to the flowers and dips down, one gloved palm curling around the stems to pry them off. He’s no expert on flowers, but one thing he does know is that Taehyung always loved them. Back then he used to bring them home at least once a week, smiling whenever Taehyung beamed at them or cooed over how thoughtful the gesture was. He never did it for the attention, more so because he just loved making the other man happy.
“So, why shouldn’t I try now?” He whispers to himself, gazing down at the yellow petals. They paled in comparison to the bouquets he used to buy, but it was something. Truth be told, he doesn’t know what he expects to come out of this act, but he knows he wants to do it. For old time’s sake, he thinks, because having spent this day with Taehyung gave back so much of what he had been missing all these years; hope. Hope that his life didn’t end three years ago, hope that Taehyung could remind him of how it feels when your heart is full...hope that he didn’t lose out on another chance.
All of this has to count for something, he often tells himself these days. The universe brought him here, maybe it can do more if he’s willing to also put in some work.
Jeongguk startles at the voice, whipping around and finding Taehyung standing there, bags in hand and a grin on his face.
“You disappear on me, only to be found admiring views.”
Jeongguk laughs sheepishly at that, rubbing at his nape when he knows he’s been caught wandering off.
“Bet you’re happy now I dragged you out of the hotel.”
“Your ideas aren’t all bad.”
It earns him a scoff, Taehyung playfully rolling his eyes before stepping closer, blinking down the sun. “So many shops but you come to take in the sunset, huh?”
“It’s the simple things, right?” Jeongguk shrugs in response, giving a cheeky grin.
“I forgot how much of a romantic you are.”
“Guess I did a bad job back then.”
It was meant as a joke, but his words have Taehyung staring him down, a gentle smile on his lips when he shakes his head, words firm as he whispers, “No...you didn’t.” And then he’s giggling, melodic and touched with slight embarrassment if his blush is anything to go by. Jeongguk knows he’s trying to play it off, to pretend he hadn’t just said something so matter-of-fact but Jeongguk knows him. And maybe that’s a little scary to admit about someone you haven’t seen in ages, but it’s the truth. Not one single trait has changed in Taehyung. From the way he smiles, to the way he shakes as he laughs. Every single part of him makes Jeongguk swoon all over again, as if this was the first time he’s seeing Taehyung.
So much scatters across his mind; compliments, apologies, questions...but Jeongguk can’t single one out long enough to say it, so he remains quiet. Watching his ex lover brush a platinum strand behind his ear, tug his coat a little closer and just when he thinks he pinpoints something to say, Taehyung nods towards his hand.
“What are those?”
Jeongguk follows his gaze, gasping out an ‘ah’ when he remembers. “Oh, um--for you…” The bouquet looks like nothing but nonsense, he thinks, yet he hopes it counts for something. “It’s not much, being winter and all...but I remember how much you loved flowers and--”
“Jeongguk.” Taehyung reaches for his hand, perhaps lingering more than is necessary but Jeongguk tries not to read into that, but it still tingles all the same. If he listened close enough, he might’ve heard the sharp exhale they both let out the moment their fingers caressed, but he’s too occupied by the way their eyes meet in the middle, both looking absolutely pink in the face but he can easily attribute that to the cold. “They’re perfect. Thank you.”
Perfect. It’s a word that played in his mind so much back then, maybe it still does...even now. Jeongguk always did think they were perfect. “You’re welcome…”
Taehyung touches one of the wilting petals, biting down on his lip and it’s an action Jeongguk tries not to ogle. Thankfully, he’s back to looking over at Jeongguk, giving him a steady glance. “It’s getting late, isn’t it?”
It occurs to him how much has been left unsaid between them. One day, Jeongguk takes in. One day together and it’s all it takes for him to come to terms with the belief that he doesn’t want to let this go again. The realization has him swallowing hard, looking directly at Taehyung and it all just comes flooding back in one long, steady rush. Knocking him off his feet because Taehyung has always held that power over him, and now Jeongguk is more than certain he always will. Briefly, he wonders if it’s the same for Taehyung.
“We should probably head back. Early morning and all. To meet everyone…” Taehyung says.
But neither of them move, and Taehyung keeps playing with the petals of the flowers in his hand and all Jeongguk can think of is how much he wants to reach out and touch. To sweep his hands over the slender ones he used to know--still knows, because they don’t change, do they? It’s ridiculous to expect so much to diversify, three years isn’t relatively long, mind you but it’s enough of a distance to feel like everything has changed. Their lives did, after all...but they didn’t. Jeongguk believes it’s a wonder it managed to rip them apart at all. “Or,” he finds himself proposing, this feeling of joy and reuniting urging him on, begging him to chase it. “I saw a bakery just down that way. We could have a pastry and sit down, just right there.” He nods towards a spot in the field, where just enough dead grass peaks through. It’ll be cold, but his coat should make for a decent blanket. “And you can continue to prove to me how dull my hotel room is in comparison to your company. And the views.”
He watches as Taehyung holds back a smile, the beginnings of a laugh on his lips when he looks at him. “My company?”
“And the views.”
“Right, the views.” Taehyung just laughs more, biting his lip and nodding in approval. “I think that’s a much better idea.”
Ten minutes later and Jeongguk sits over his coat, no doubt causing it to slowly soak with melted snow but he lacks the presence of mind to care for it. It’s hard, as it stands, to care about anything at all when you have Taehyung laying down, head in your lap and Jeongguk finds himself just in that situation.
They’re both giggling about a memory from their college days, Taehyung looking perfect as he chuckles even with crumbs from a croissant dotting his cheek and it’s strange how they got here. From a trek to the bakery to scarfing their treats down and Taehyung laughing so hard at something he can’t even properly recall, because in the next second the other plopped down over his lap holding his stomach in delight. Jeongguk didn’t mind it then and he doesn’t mind it now and certainly not when he reaches down to stroke the crumbs off his cheek, laughter dying down. Taehyung just smiles up at him, platinum hair splayed over his thigh but with each stroke of Jeongguk’s knuckles on his skin, the smile softens.
He knows this was his suggestion, knows it came from a place of longing and selfishness and in some karmic way it hits Jeongguk then. Hard, unrelenting; that it didn’t really leave. He can make all the excuses he wants, but it’s there, beating inside of him. It courses his veins, pulls that familiar warmth to his cheeks when dulcet eyes wander to him, so inviting so oddly understanding in a way. Jeongguk didn’t have a lot of hopes for this trip, didn’t think much of it besides celebrating some friends’ love. He figured life would return to his normal the second he set foot off of this country. But three days in and it’s already thrown him off course.
If this is fate or destiny, it shoved him directly into the presence of someone he tried his hardest to forget in the past. Someone he carried in his heart for years because in the end he could never truly let go, even if some nights he told himself to. But when he gazes down at the man in his lap, it’s so painfully obvious.
I’m in love all over again …
Looking at Taehyung hurts in that moment, a sort of steady, nagging pain. It should be enough to make Jeongguk lure himself away from him, to shield himself from the intensity of the hurt it brings his entire being, but isn’t that just the proof.
That Kim Taehyung owns his entire fucking existence to the point he physically hurts from the love he feels. Because right now, he’s not his and that knowledge rips him apart just like it did three years ago.
“I should...go.” Jeongguk speaks up between Taehyung’s story, his current epiphany too much to bear but to Taehyung’s credit, he doesn’t appear surprised. He just smiles tenderly as he gets off him, too tenderly it breaks Jeongguk’s heart.
“Remember.” Is all Taehyung says, and for a second it catches Jeongguk off guard.
Remember what, exactly? Because he remembers everything with Taehyung.
“Tomorrow morning is ice skating.”
“Skating…” Jeongguk takes a moment to understand, a relieved laugh leaving him. “Right, ice skating.”
“Which means everyone falling flat on their asses and nursing broken pride.” He jokes, dusting off his pants as they both stand up.
“I’m surprised Yoongi doesn’t mind it. He’s always hated the cold or anything to do with it.”
Taehyung simply giggles at that, covering his mouth as he helps Jeongguk shake the snow off his coat. “He’d give Hobi anything. That’s what couples do, so he just compromised his comfort.”
Jeongguk knows he shouldn’t take things personally, understands it was just a comment on their respective friends, but the last gentle buzz of happiness he had going after his late night inner realization was now gone. It must be obvious, at that, because he sees the way Taehyung’s smile instantly disappears, replaced by a deep frown until he parts his lips.
“Goodnight, Taehyung. Thank you for today.” He gives a stilted smile, shrugging his coat back on while they walk back up the slope of the field.
“Wait, please. I didn’t--that wasn’t…”
But Jeongguk has to get away, can’t stomach looking back at him even as they walk up the same road and towards their hotel. In the end, he knows it’s partly his fault, maybe mostly his fault with how easily he sways with the universal wind. If he had only paid more attention to the choice he had back then, if he had tried to ignore the fear in his heart...He’d have pulled Taehyung back into his arms that Sunday. Would’ve buried him in his chest, felt their heartbeats tell the truth of what they wanted. He would’ve asked him to stay, to never leave his side or to take him with him...but he didn’t. He had accepted their parting as fate, and let his fear keep him from the possibility of a choice.
And here they are.
Feeling powerless isn’t something new to Taehyung. He’s felt it at work, felt in college and certainly felt it that night Jeongguk and him parted. Unfortunately, tonight proves no different. What was meant to be a casual outing and a means to dig up old friendships, turned out to be a colder reception in the end. Jeongguk was perfectly civil just now, but Taehyung knows him well enough to see the way his jaw tensed, the way he avoided eye contact because they always gave away what he felt. They managed to walk back to the hotel, but Taehyung was steps behind him, following with a frown and pulling his scarf closer around his neck, stealing glances at the back of Jeongguk’s head and hoping he’d speak up. But Taehyung knows better. Understands Jeongguk was always the type to put distance if he was upset by something. It was a trait Taehyung admired in him, but right now it was frustrating because he didn’t want their fun to end on such a sour note. However, right at the front of the hotel it did end that way. Jeongguk just turning back and sighing before wishing him another solemn ‘goodnight’ and heading for the elevators.
Taehyung had nodded his farewell, stalling by the entryway just so he wouldn’t be locked inside the lift in an awkward silence. But it was tempting to try, to run up and pull the doors back open and explain to Jeongguk he truly hadn’t meant his words in contempt. They were just words, nothing meant to be petty or hold any cruel intention. They merely slipped but unfortunately, Jeongguk was always his own harshest critic. A stickler, that also relies and flows with the universe's demands. In so many ways, he was the loveliest contradiction. One Taehyung used to keep afloat by simply being close enough. But he supposes he lost that privilege long ago. Now it was a memory, one that was long and drawn out in his heart and would never settle itself, nestled safely there with all the other fond ones he keeps. Thing is, there’s not a single one of them he’d be rid of, even the bad and he wishes Jeongguk understood that. He could never blame him for what happened to them, not without blaming himself as well. And though it hurts him to know they made that choice, he doesn’t think now, that it would do him any good to hold onto that pain anymore. Not fully.
Seeing Jeongguk walk away tonight, it just made him realize how long he’s been harboring the guilt, the regret. At some point he has to forgive himself and let that thought go.
Smiling, he looks down at the flowers in his hand, marveling at their simplicity, completely forgotten by nature’s seasonal turn. By view alone, they shouldn’t mean much to him and yet...they’re perfect as he touches the petals once more.
It truly is such a simple gesture, but to Taehyung it means so much more coming from him. A fond person from his past, one he carried everyday and one he regrets turning away from. Reality should dictate the outcome of this emotion he feels, allowing logic to take hold and remind him what they have now is different from the time of their past. His heart is simply doing what hearts do; romanticizing. Giving him reason to bask in every interaction, flustering him over the smallest of touches or glances. He knows he should tell himself all of this, because what else could it be besides the urgency of past lovers reuniting?
His eyes look to his hotel door, having made the trek upstairs after some minutes and he can’t help the way his hand tightens around the flowers.
Because the resolve that was meant to keep this as mere evidence of closure...it crumbles.
Taehyung doesn’t need to lie to himself, he knows there’s only one explanation for all of this. Memory does have a tendency to make the mind hold onto the fondest of feelings, to only think of the good because it warms the soul. One could call that idealizing an old romance, but Taehyung isn’t a fool. He can look upon Jeongguk and the love they once shared and know he takes the bad just as much as the good. From the petty arguments, the annoyances, to everything else it offered. Each part of what they had was--is, special to him. Funny part is, he thinks he knew the moment he walked away three years ago and into the day after that, and the months following...and the years in between. However, the inevitable realization still crashes over him like any revelation would.
He’s in love with Jeongguk. And it doesn’t surprise him. “I’ve never been over it…” He closes his eyes, releasing a sigh that was probably queueing for ages. It’s not as if it’s some new form of knowledge to him, but it doesn’t make it less awkward considering their current circumstances.
“There you are.”
Taehyung blinks back at his hotel door, relaxing when he finds Jimin standing there, hand on his hip and eyebrow raised in question.
“I was beginning to think you were kidnapped by your ex.”
“That’s some imagination, Jiminie.” He pushes past his friend, laying the flowers on the desk in their room and not missing the way Jimin’s eyes move inquisitively towards them.
“Not my fault. You’re back later than you said you’d be--oh my god.” Jimin gasps, pointing an accusing finger at him as he follows him towards the couch. “Don’t tell me you pulled the biggest mistake?” But the way he says it sounds far more amused than scolding. Taehyung can’t even take it seriously until he catches the way Jimin is staring at him, all widened eyes and knowing smile.
“Judging by your expression you already know what I’m getting at here.”
“No, Jimin! Oh my god.” It’s all so sudden of a thought it makes Taehyung laugh, loud and incredulous as he leans up to remove his shoes and socks. “I can’t believe you--seriously?” He doesn’t get much of a response, though and when he glances up to Jimin he still finds his friend glaring at him, eyes narrowing into suspicious slits. “W-What?”
“You’re so quiet.”
“You’re one to talk. You’re just staring at me now.”
“The fact you went out and banged your ex.”
Taehyung stutters over the accusation. “I didn’t!”
“Fine.” Jimin huffs, waving him off while he drops onto the bed, keeping his gaze still firmly planted on Taehyung. “But there’s something obviously there, right?”
Something there? That’s the understatement of the year. All Taehyung can do is groan in frustration, joining Jimin on the bed and stretching out when he considers it. Point is, who’s to say it’s even mutual. For Taehyung, it’s now quite real, a single rush of affection he’s been steeping for so long. The scenarios of how this trip works out are endless, but never made possible in his mind because it was never meant to be a possibility to begin with. No one could’ve told him this would happen, but here they are. “What makes you say that?”
“Aside from your feelings being obvious to me, and the way you speak of him? He’s clearly the one who got away, Tae.”
“I never said that…”
“Didn’t have to say it word for word, silly.”
Jimin tosses a pillow at him, Taehyung giggling when he grips at its corner, easing the blow. “Fine. Of course, I loved him, Jimin. More than anyone or anything and I told you, we parted ways. Maybe at the time it was for the best, or so I’ve come to realize in a way, but there’s still so much of it that makes me hate having spent the last three years apart. Sure, we both got our dream jobs out of it, but that doesn’t mean it was the best decision either. Not entirely.” So much of his days after they broke up were spent in emotional distress. He can’t even recall the hours he’d lay on his couch and cry or eat his feelings away. “I missed him, terribly...and the truth is, half of me stayed behind with him that day. And yes, I suppose I always entertained the idea of seeing him again, of us fixing things and going back to what we had, what we were. But I never thought it would actually happen, Jimin.” Taehyung sniffs back the tears, letting his friend reach over to wipe them away. “Gods--I didn’t even expect to ever hear from him again, through text or call and now with us moving back to Seoul, there’s that possibility but I’m scared of it. I told you, I don’t want to make this happen because it’s convenient now.”
“So, don’t look at it as convenient, Tae. Think of it as--I don’t know, a once in a lifetime chance. I know I said to just ease into it, and I meant it. It doesn’t have to turn into anything more, whether you still have feelings for him or not. But, I know you, Tae.” He gently strokes his cheek, giving that comforting smile that never failed to make Taehyung relax. “You’d never forgive yourself for ignoring an opportunity when it’s right in front of you.”
“But, what if he thinks I’m just being cavalier about all this? That it’s nostalgia and not--”
“For what it’s worth, I doubt that. There’s something there, for him, too.”
Those words shouldn’t hold much, Jimin didn’t really know Jeongguk, after all. But Taehyung won’t lie, they give him more hope than he absolutely cares to admit. He clings to them, expression stunned but wishful when he urges Jimin for more detail. “How do you mean?”
“The other night, when I gave him your hot chocolate to take to you, he was just standing there. Staring at you, kind of creepy if I’m honest.”
He begins to ramble off, and Taehyung slowly drifts from the conversation, his brain now occupied by Jeongguk staring. At him, of all people. He knows he shouldn’t read into it, knows he should take this with a grain of salt but the statement makes his cheeks heat all the same. Because Norway offered stunning views, but in all that backdrop Jeongguk had been watching him, and Taehyung was so blissfully unaware at the time. What other reason could Jeongguk have for that behavior?
There’s something there.
Jimin’s words rattle around all night in Taehyung’s head and into the early morning. Sleep had eluded him for the most part, but the excitement inside was what carried him forward. He knows it’s foolish to place so much into that one observation (one that wasn’t even witnessed by him), but it makes him feel he isn’t just being irrational and seeing what he wants. If Jimin had seen it, too, then it must hold some significance for them, and if it provides him even a sliver of hope then why shouldn’t he take it?
It’s the very reason he got ready so quickly; made himself look presentable and double checked religiously until Jimin dragged him out of their hotel room and into the lobby. They found the husbands to be sitting on the couch, grossly in love, and two others they barely met in passing a few days ago when they originally got here.
Jeongguk, however, was nowhere to be seen.
Taehyung should be ashamed of how obvious he is being, eyes darting back and forth between their small future wedding party and the elevators. But no one else seems to be the wiser, and he counts himself lucky their blossoming friend group isn’t the nosy sort.
Within his internal musings, though, he misses the slide of the elevator and the person who walks out of it. It’s only when he hears Namjoon mutter, “I was beginning to think you wouldn’t show up.” that he turns to give Jeongguk his attention, eyes widening when he sees him all geared up in winter wear, from a puffy windbreaker, to the bandana holding back his fringe. He always did cut such a lovely figure when his brow was on full display. It seems time didn’t change that at all. What was that saying? Ah, aging like fine wine...
“You say that like I don’t room with you.” Jeongguk airily bites back, rolling his eyes before they stop to glance at Taehyung, a small shimmer of greeting in them. But it’s over so quickly Taehyung believes it can be chalked up to the trick of the light.
“You’re late.” Yoongi interrupts, though he has a smile on his lips when he says it, hand affectionately patting Jeongguk on the back, stopping just in time to let Hoseok pull him towards the exit.
“I woke up late.” To Jeongguk’s credit, he does sound apologetic, but it’s his next words that make Taehyung blush because he can already feel the way Jimin nudges him. Far too amused by the implication, even if it couldn’t be further from the truth. “Kind of had a late night...”
“Well, now that everyone is here, let’s go!”
Hoseok herds them all through the doors, waving down the shuttle that’s meant to take them to the skating rink where their first group activity is to take place. The grooms were never one for the idea of bachelor parties, so it didn’t shock Taehyung when he heard they planned a series of outings for their small group instead of the cliche stripper and beer ordeal. Something he was more than thankful for because he wasn’t sure he had the partying lifestyle in him anymore.
Besides, it was clear these activities were meant to bond them all. Give them a chance to become more than the other half’s groomsmen. Taehyung has to admit it was nice to fully converse with Jin and Namjoon while stuck in the shuttle, finding out he had more in common with them than he expected and he belatedly learns that Jimin had used his free day yesterday to tag along with the two on a restaurant hopping adventure. So, even though he isn’t seated next to his preferred target, he counts himself fortunate he just made easy friends. Easy enough to know they’d remain in contact once the wedding bliss was over. And while they made for fun times, Taehyung would be remiss to ignore the nagging of a more pressing matter.
Jeongguk was still silent on the ride over, looking out the window and only answering when specifically asked. He was far from being a downer, but Taehyung knew him well and he could see the way he curled in on himself. So, yes, the second he gets a chance and they’re out of the shuttle and stretching their limbs, he goes in for the kill.
At least Jeongguk still smiles at him, tired but jovial. “Hey.”
“Heard you didn’t sleep well.”
Jeongguk snorts. “Not really. Someone kept me up.” His lips quirk into a grin, easing the dread Taehyung felt earlier that their conversation might not be as easy as their former ones.
“Don’t tell Jimin that.” He whispers back, trying to fight down the laugh that bubbles up. “He already thinks we slept together last night.” Perhaps it’s poor etiquette to jest about such intimate matters with an ex, but it’s worth the way Jeongguk sputters, ears flushing a soft pink.
“He what?” He chokes incredulously, looking over to Jimin who’s chatting animatedly with Hoseok just feet away.
“Long story.” Taehyung laughs, rubbing at his arm just to keep his hand busy when it becomes all too tempting to reach over and tuck some flyaway hairs back into the snap of Jeongguk’s bandana. “Hey.” He decides to divert the silence, nibbling mindfully on his lip. “Listen, I wanted to apologize. For what I said yesterday—“
“No, please.” Jeongguk stops him, holding a hand up with an embarrassed smile. “It’s not your fault.”
“But I really didn’t mean it that way, Jeongguk. Honestly. I just want you to know that.”
“Tae, it’s fine.”
Taehyung tries desperately not to be distracted by the nickname being used once more. But gods—how he’s missed that.
“Really. It’s just my own stuff...” Jeongguk sighs, turning away but Taehyung can see how his eyes drop to the ground as they walk towards the entrance.
“Your own stuff?”
Jeongguk makes to open his mouth, but the rest of their friends begin hollering in excitement, causing them both to glance ahead. He’s more interested in hearing what Jeongguk has to say, but getting between the grooms generous plans is the last thing he wants. He’s waited three years after all, he can handle a few more hours. “We should...” He nods towards the rink, smiling when Jeongguk obliges.
“Yeah, we should.”
“Come on, hyung.” Jeongguk does his best to hold back the chuckle in his throat, lips pursed and eyes shining as he holds tightly onto Jin’s hand, moving him along the skating rink. He can clearly see the struggle in Jin’s body language, the man nearly stiffening up as they glide across the ice. To be fair, none of them were used to this, and Jeongguk is pretty sure the last time he went ice skating was around the time Taehyung and him were together. Thinking on it now, he suspects Hoseok had this idea for one reason; failure. They do say people can bond better over their shared traumas, and this is as close to one as they’ll get during a wedding celebration.
“What are you doing--don’t you dare let go!” Jin grips tighter onto his sleeves, a weird sort of pitchy squeal emanating from him, but it only serves to make Jeongguk laugh harder. The only one up he has on everyone here, is his impeccable balance.
“Not like you’re letting me, hyung.”
“I got him, Guk.”
It’s Namjoon who comes skating (flailing…) over, his arms out like a bird’s wings, and eyes wide but somehow focused as he nearly crashes into them. He manages to hook one arm through Jin’s, giving a winning smile and waving Jeongguk away.
“I told you, I got him. You can let go.”
Jeongguk doesn’t think it’s such a great idea, considering they’re both equally awful at this and leaving them to it sounds like a recipe for a broken ankle, or nose. Still, far be it from him to get in the way of whatever the two have going on, something he’s suspected for weeks now but never one to really pry. At least now they seem to balance one another out. Literally.
“If you say so.” He relents, smiling at the both of them before looking around the rink, taking note of Yoongi sliding along the walls, and Hoseok giggling at him. Then there’s Jimin gracefully skating by, and undoubtedly the best at this compared to the rest. But in unsurprising fashion, it’s Taehyung that manages to capture his attention, with his long limbs and contagious laugh that vibrates off the plexiglass walls and even with his less than spectacular skill, Jeongguk thinks he looks quite stunning. His blond hair is striking against the icy hues of the venue, black jeans just making it pop more and the way his blue button up flows around him is more than enough to remind Jeongguk of an actual olympic skater. Though that image is hard to uphold when he sees Taehyung nearly face plant against the ice.
Instinct tells him to go help, and just when he turns on his skates he finds Jimin flying by, eyebrow raised at him, and all Jeongguk can do is blink back in confusion. The man seems considerate for a second, but ultimately rolls his eyes with a hefty sigh, bypassing Taehyung who is somehow finding humor in his unsteady feet.
Jeongguk decides to take that as his cue, picking up his pace and skidding right next to Taehyung, catching his hand before the blades give out beneath him. It earns him the sheepest of smiles, the clear dust of pink on his cheeks evident from the cold around them. “You alright?”
“Just barely.” Taehyung giggles, letting Jeongguk keep a hold of his hand as they skate together.
It should probably be strange for them to be in this position, but something about the atmosphere and the company makes the awkwardness melt away. Instead of feeling impacted by the childish way he ditched the other last night, he feels somehow relieved now. For one thing, he knows Taehyung didn’t blame him, even if he would have every right to do so. Guilt was funny like that, though and Jeongguk admits it was his own battle with it that made him take so much personally.
“Do you remember the first time we did this together?”
Before he can dive further into his dealings, Taehyung speaks up next to him, squeezing his hand tighter when they curve around the rink.
“Of course.” It’s something he wasn’t going to easily forget. Not that he’d ever want to. “You freaked out, let go of my hand and hit the wall.”
Taehyung lets out the loudest laugh, unrestrained, much like those that leave your eyes brimmed with tears and a pleasant ache in your stomach. The sound makes Jeongguk smile, and it occurs to him just how much he really missed hearing it.
“I had a moment of bravery.”
“Shut up.” Taehyung nudges his shoulder. “I thought you’d catch me.”
“You were out of my reach.”
There’s a stifling sort of silence that moves between them, and for a second Jeongguk believes he might’ve said the wrong thing but then Taehyung is gazing back at him, a serene expression on his features. His eyes dart to where their hands connect, bottom lip tucked between his teeth and it’s then he squeezes again, this time for emphasis rather than balance. “Well,” he whispers. “I’m not anymore.”
Jeongguk doesn’t even get time to debate what he means by that. Within seconds Taehyung lets him go, turning to look back at him with a wiggle of his eyebrows and tongue peeking out teasingly. He skates up ahead, causing Jeongguk to give chase as they both pass Yoongi still clinging to the wall, looking close to giving up on this madness. Normally, Jeongguk would stop to assist his elders, but right now he’s more incensed to glide after his ex, and in the strangest of ways this somehow feels right. Who would’ve guessed he’d find himself in this situation.
“You’re going to fall.”
“No, I’m not.”
Taehyung squeals when he looks to see Jeongguk gaining on him, trying his hardest to pick up speed but he fails so magnificently the attempt alone is humorous. But it slows his momentum enough, allowing Jeongguk to seize the opportunity and crowd the blond into the wall, one hand coming to cradle behind Taehyung’s head to keep him safe as they hit the plexiglass, bouncing gently from the force and even though it’s such a trivial thing, Jeongguk can’t help the way his heart quickens from the action. Just knowing Taehyung didn’t panic, giving Jeongguk enough trust to know he wouldn’t be hurt in this little game of theirs. It’s oddly freeing and when hands come to curl into his jacket, he looks to catch Taehyung’s eyes, both of them beaming just like children at play, reminiscent of the first time they ever went to a rink.
However, even with the buzz of enthusiasm, Jeongguk knows there’s a nagging in his chest. A curl of worry that screams at him. It shouldn’t be this easy…
But that’s love, isn’t it? Always finding ways to make things so fucking easy when it comes to emotions but less so in action.
His to feel, not to have.
Jeongguk’s so caught up in the melancholy that he forgoes all logic, his hand reaching up to brush his knuckles along those oddly endearing cheeks. They’re mere centimeters away, and Jeongguk swears he feels Taehyung’s fingertips press harder into his jacket, silently urging him to do whatever it is he wants to do, “I….” He says but then it all comes crashing down.
A force collides into his side, making him grunt out an audible oof and without even looking properly he can tell it’s Yoongi by the curse that seethes through. He’s sent down to the chilly ground, his friend cushioned against him and Jeongguk barely has time to pull himself together before he hears Taehyung burst into a laugh above them.
“Ahh, baby!” Hoseok comes gliding up, all smiles and placating coos to his fiance, completely forgetting Jeongguk was also part of the accident as he helps Yoongi back up. “I told you not to let me go.” Unfortunately, Yoongi seems content clawing at Jeongguk for balance instead, only safely latching onto Hoseok when he feels it’s absolutely necessary, grumbling the entire time.
“Is it too early for a divorce?” He mumbles, making Hoseok laugh as he plants a firm kiss to his pinkening cheek. And it’s like they have their own world to escape to, leaving Jeongguk and Taehyung to figure their own thing out as they link arms and skate away, unapologetic or unaware that Jeongguk was still sprawled on the ice.
“Don’t worry, I’m fine…” Jeongguk sighs, leaning up on his elbows and trying to act annoyed but it’s hard not to smile at the gross couple they make. At least Taehyung almost has the decency to cover his mouth while he laughs. Almost.
“I swear I’m not laughing at you.”
“Sure you’re not.” Jeongguk lets Taehyung help him up, brushing his pants off where flakes of ice dust the knees. He thinks that’s the end of that. That maybe they’ll both just return to casually skating and engage in small talk but Taehyung decides to speak up, still helping him sweep off ice as he does so.
“Um--what were you going to say? Earlier…”
Oh , Jeongguk thinks. Right before being Yoongi’s personal safety mat…”I, uh--” Even he’s not sure what words were going to come out in that moment. He was so caught up in the proximity, the way Taehyung was touching him, looking at him...there could’ve been dozens of sentiments that were just on the tip of his tongue.
I miss you. I want you. I love you.
I need you in my life again…
Cowardly, though, you wait for the other person to say it first.
Jeongguk’s always done this, after all. Relying on everyone and everything else to figure his life out for him. Even with Yoongi’s advice in his head to balance out the philosophy of the world, he still can’t bring himself to do anything.
He can see the way Taehyung frowns, curious eyes looking him over but fortunately, he lets it go and they continue on like that the rest of the time; playful and friendly. As if there wasn’t some unknown force hanging in the air between them. If the others notice, they don’t question it and maybe the grooms are too enamored to even care but thankfully no one interferes with them. Every so often Jimin or Namjoon skate by, giving Jeongguk strange looks or maybe it’s Taehyung they’re looking at. But in the end, it just remains between them. Until one final round along the rink, and Jimin steals Taehyung from his arm, the latter giving him an apologetic smile before being whisked away.
Jeongguk can’t say he minds much, especially when Namjoon collides into him, much gentler than Yoongi did and this time with actual intent.
“I saw that.” He mutters, eyes narrowed but teasing, making Jeongguk sigh inwardly because he saw this coming.
“I thought you were bored of my endless rants about this situation.”
“That was before I saw you two together, and now I’m invested.”
“Wow. Color me impressed by your kindness.”
“Don’t be like that, Guk.” But he laughs it off, pulling Jeongguk in with an arm around his shoulder but Jeongguk suspects it’s an excuse to balance himself. “I’m just curious. You seemed to be having a small, tense-filled moment there.” He wiggles his eyebrows, pinching at Jeongguk’s cheek for good measure, though his hand quickly gets swatted away.
“It wasn’t anything.”
“I doubt that.”
“You barely became intrigued by all of this, don’t act like an expert.”
“Sometimes outsiders know and see more.”
“Once again, it amazes me we’re friends.”
Namjoon merely smiles through the banter, regaining that usual thoughtful expression he holds when he’s truly wanting you to know he’s listening. “I’m not going to pretend I have experience with long lost exes I still love, but as a fellow human being with emotions, I will say you can’t just let this sit and ride itself out, Jeongguk.”
“There’s a lot to figure out, okay?”
“I know that, but sooner or later it’s going to be on you to do something about it. So,” Jin stumbles by them, laughing loudly but Jeongguk knows it’s more fear than joy and it momentarily captures Namjoon’s attention before he pulls away to help the older man, pointedly saying the rest with a small wave over his shoulder. “Figure it out.”
Easier said than done, as always. What exactly is he supposed to figure out anyway? That he’s been pining for three years, that he’s still in love with Taehyung, that he wants him back and return to a time where things were perfect…
It’s so much to take in, to mull over and Jeongguk is near a breakdown by the time they wrap things up at the rink and head to the nearby restaurant for a late lunch. The energy inside the joint isn’t as chaotic, at least and everyone is more than tipsy with a short adrenaline rush only ice skating can bring about. The table they’re sat at is intimate, as much as one can be for a group of burgeoning friends. Jeongguk guesses this is something of a bachelor party together, each of them happily enjoying the parts of life they love the most and bringing it together. Poetic, really and very much portraying the personalities of the two grooms to be.
Conversation begins to drift between them all, from their respective jobs to their hobbies and to the topic of the wedding because they all want to hype the two men up. Besides, the rehearsal was tomorrow morning and with them all participating it would be wise to go over it. That doesn’t stop Jeongguk, however, who is halfway to zoning out on them, eyes moving across the table where Taehyung sits, chin in his palm like he usually has it when he’s all ears. Funny, not even the little quirks or actions change in a person. And even when Jeongguk is caught peering over, Taehyung only smiles at him, just like he used to when they sat at their kitchen table for meals, with Taehyung recalling the days events and Jeongguk just staring because it’s impossible not to when your boyfriend is Taehyung.
Or in this case, your beautiful ex.
“I wouldn’t worry about that.” Hoseok speaks between bites, pulling back Jeongguk’s attention and he tears his eyes away from the current source of his affections. He’s not perfectly aware of what they’re talking about, but judging by the panic in Taehyung’s eyes it’s something serious. “Once Taehyung and Jimin are back in Seoul, it’ll be easier for us all to keep in touch more, Jin.”
Seoul, he thinks. Taehyung back in Seoul…
“You’re moving back?” The question instantly leaves his lips, and when nothing but silence envelopes the table, it begins to feel like he was the only one not privy to this. Though he knows that isn’t true, he can’t help but feel disappointed by the way Taehyung freezes up, eyes dropping to his half empty plate. The blond’s lips part, but nothing comes out, and just when Jimin makes to answer for him, Jeongguk’s phone rings in his pocket, making him curse as he pulls it out. “It’s work, I have to take it. Excuse me.” He rises from his chair, pushing it back in and gaining a nod from all of them, except Taehyung who fidgets in his seat. Experience dictates Jeongguk should comfort him, ease the stress away but right now he isn’t sure what he should say himself. So, he leaves out to the front of the restaurant, taking the call real quick and even when he’s done he pretends to be busy, sitting down by the curb and browsing his texts and emails, though none are technically important.
He simply can’t bring himself to go back inside yet, far too taken by the news of Taehyung returning to his home, making it possible for them to actually run into each other. Though he briefly wonders why the other would keep it from him, but the more he considers it, the more it begins to make bitter sense.
They’re not together, much less friends really. He can’t sit here and expect some text to be shot his way where Taehyung is elated to be back home and nearby and that everything would be peachy. That’s not how life works, and maybe younger Jeongguk would’ve fallen for such romantic occurrences, but present Jeongguk won’t. Destiny fucked him over already, so pardon him for being resentful towards it. Even if he still allows it’s voice to whisper in his ear.
Jeongguk turns to find Taehyung walking up, coat pulled tight around him, red scarf loosening around his neck as he takes a seat right next to him on the curb. Habitually, Jeongguk reaches over to fix his scarf, twining it around his neck and pretending he doesn’t notice the surprised look the other holds. Call it nostalgia, or blame his current line of wistful thinking and reminiscing for his actions, but he still lets his fingertips sweep down the fabric, holding onto the ends before reluctantly letting it go, missing the way Taehyung reaches up to touch where his hands had just been.
“Hey to you, too.” He finally replies, swallowing hard when he sees the blond readying to speak. “I know what you’re going to say.” Some would think that arrogant, but it’s the truth. Jeongguk can still read him well enough to gauge where this conversation is going, and much like Taehyung’s heart, it’s forgiving.
“Then you’re way more understanding than I’d be…”
“I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t hurt.” Jeongguk shrugs. “But I get it. If it were me moving back home, I…” It’s hard to fight down the blush, more out of shame than modesty. “I guess I’d be conflicted about reaching out, too. It’s not like either of us did to begin with...in all of these years.”
Taehyung gives a sincere sort of smile, understanding but no less disappointed. “It wasn’t because I didn’t want to see you, just so you know.” He walks his fingers along the curb, nails tapping the icy concrete. “If I’m honest, there wasn’t time at the start as we opened the branch there, but as things began to calm down I...I thought about you.”
“Yeah.” He breathes a soft laugh, looking up at Jeongguk. “I was tempted to reach out but then I got scared and well, guess the rest is obvious.”
Jeongguk can relate, but hearing that come from Taehyung, a man who rarely felt intimidated by the world, it hit differently. It’s one thing to experience the doubt yourself, because you live with it, learn from it and by the time some daring thought crosses your mind about a long lost love, you end up knee deep in a pint of ice cream or box of large pizza instead of risking being rejected once more. Jeongguk, unfortunately, knows that feeling all too well. He’s just too much of a coward to come out and fight for the things he wants, but then again, he’s never wanted anything as badly as he wanted Taehyung. “Of what?”
There’s a long pause from his question to Taehyung’s answer. In time, though, he manages to force something out in the form of another inquiry, one that makes Jeongguk stare a little too long in blatant curiosity. “Can I ask you something first?”
“Yes.” Ask me anything, spend your life doing so if you must, I’ll gladly answer. Let me put you at ease, forever.
“Did you,” A blush works its way across his cheeks, making Jeongguk bite back a smile. His expression, however, turns apologetic--almost embarrassed when he stutters over the rest. “I’m probably about to ask the most transparent question for an ex…” Then he laughs, trying to hide behind his hands but Jeongguk is quick to grab his wrists, trying not to appear too amused.
“So be transparent.”
It seems to help, and Taehyung finally smiles again, grinding the heel of his shoe into the leftover snow. “Very well. I was scared, or nervous because I didn’t want to interfere in case...well--I didn’t think this would be that hard. I’ll just ask; did you date anyone? After me?”
Not the question he completely expected, but Jeongguk manages a rueful chuckle by the time it clicks. He had his own failings in that department, if he’s honest and he might as well be as transparent as he’s asking Taehyung to be with him. So he nods, slowly, keeping his gaze locked on the ground. “I did.” Taehyung doesn’t seem particularly shocked, simply contemplative at the answer he gives.
“Once. Well, I mean as far as serious relationships go.”
“Jeon Jeongguk.” Taehyung snickers. “You do realize you just subtly told me you had booty calls.”
“Not the point here.” But he laughs anyway, rolling his eyes when Taehyung teases him further for it. Until he shoves him away, watching as Taehyung dramatically tumbles to this side, only stopping when Jeongguk reaches over to steady him, playing along. “Anyway, just one.”
“Just one.” Taehyung repeats lightly, tilting his head to the side when he probes for more. “Can I ask what happened?”
“Of course, who doesn’t love talking about breakups.”
Jeongguk didn’t wake up today thinking he’d be having this conversation, but he’ll entertain the good-humored approach they take. There’s also the added benefit of hearing Taehyung burst into a giggle, infectious and guttural as he leans against him, temple nestled safely on his shoulder. The movement takes Jeongguk’s breath away, making him gulp down the flutter of his own heart, reminding himself not to get carried away by the emotions plaguing him. This is good, he convinces himself. Their calm, leisured chatting because to him it means they can work through something. They can be friends, even if his heart screams for more. It’s the convincing it, that’s the difficult part and so far, he finds himself fighting a losing battle.
“Speak through the pain, Jeongguk.”
Pain. Honestly, he could scoff, because it’s mostly tiresome to speak about his most recent breakup. In comparison to Taehyung, nothing else in the world could make him feel as agonized in loss. “Why are you so nosy?”
“I’ve always been nosy.”
“True.” He makes the mistake of looking at him, fondly staring at the sprightly gaze he keeps and Jeongguk just knows Taehyung won’t let this go. Now, he could lie...he could.
But he finds he doesn’t want to.
“It was a year or so after you and I broke up. Just some guy.” The way he explains it sounds so detached, and it must be obvious because Taehyung leans closer to him, brow furrowed as he presses on. “Met him through some people at work. He was a pharmaceutical rep. We dated for seven months, moved in together for three of them.”
Taehyung appears to listen intently, but Jeongguk can see the way he pulls back, eyes falling to the small space between them. He doesn’t resemble misery but there’s a heaviness to his shoulders, so unlike the usual pride they’re held with. “That serious?”
“More like...obligation.” Jeongguk blinked indifferently, struggling to even remember every detail of that relationship.
“He told me he loved me, but the truth is I don’t even remember when or how. The only thing I do recall is this feeling of obligation towards him. Constantly telling myself I had to reciprocate it somehow.” He can feel Taehyung’s gaze pierce into him, practically forcing him to steer his eyes away for fear of judgement. “But if I’m honest, no part of me ever loved him. Not even a little.”
“Then why did you say yes to moving in together?” The tone he holds is accusing and to some it might feel punishing, but to Jeongguk it only causes him to smile. Leave it to Taehyung to feel sympathy for a person he doesn’t even know, to have more worry over others than himself. It’s a big reason Jeongguk fell in love with him back then.
“Like I said, obligation.”
“He was a distraction.” He finally admits, noticing the way Taehyung’s eyes widened. “A body to hug, a hand to hold, a person to kill the loneliness, okay?” And he doesn’t need to ask, Jeongguk can already tell where this leads, can hear Taehyung whisper about rebounds. Because that’s all it was; a rebound. Someone to ease Jeongguk back into the normalcy of life and love, but when you really stop and look at them you know they can never be them .
“A distraction from what?” Taehyung still asks, eyes moving over Jeongguk’s features, slow and cautious.
You must know , Jeongguk thinks because it should go without saying. That no one else in this world can ever be him, Kim Taehyung. On Jeongguk’s tongue rests the unsaid ‘ you’ and though it begs to be let loose, he still isn’t ready to voice it. However, it’s evident in the honesty he shows in his gaze, in the silence that floats between them and for now, he believes, that is enough. Instead of falling to that madness of confession, Jeongguk decides to play back, grinning at the blond and asking, “And you?”
“Did you date anyone?”
Taehyung frowns at him, seemingly disappointed he won’t be getting a proper answer but he doesn’t fight him on it. Just rolls his eyes and goes back to leaning against him, head on his shoulder just like Jeongguk dreams of. “Yes. Two people.”
Jeongguk expects some cheeky response, maybe teasing him back by referring to his former relationships as obligation alone, but that doesn’t happen. No, Taehyung decides to be the brave one, to shift where he sits and stare directly into Jeongguk’s eyes as he professes, “And none of them were you.”
The answer is so forthright, catching him off guard and all he can really do is stare in disbelief. Too surprised to respond like any normal person would, but he doesn’t get time to figure himself out or rearrange the way his heart just flopped across his chest. Taehyung just gives him that genuine smile of his, nodding back inside the restaurant but Jeongguk wishes he had the presence of mind to stop him.
“I promised Jimin and Hoseok I’d have a few drinks with them.”
And it may just be the streetlights, but Jeongguk swears he sees those eyes sparkle to life. “So, I’ll see you back inside.” Taehyung hums, standing from the curb, his fingers caressing over Jeongguk’s shoulder where his head once laid, and then he’s gone. Filtered by the crowd inside and Jeongguk can only glance where he was like some deer caught in the headlights. Even as the word ‘ wait ’ registers on his lips, it’s too late. Taehyung is gone, and protected by the crowd and their friends from further conversation, but when Jeongguk thinks back on their chat, he thinks maybe it’s just the beginning.
It goes without saying that the earlier conversation with Taehyung had left Jeongguk positively rattled. His brain continued to hammer him with questions even well into the night and he knows he bombarded poor Namjoon with his theories and endless cycling of worries. It had taken the other to toss a pillow at his head for him to finally let him sleep, even though he still gave some advice because he was soft for Jeongguk like that. Still, Jeongguk can’t help but think he’s projecting. Finding flirtation in Taehyung’s words simply because he wanted to, but then he has to ponder what the other really meant by it all. He could’ve chosen to keep that detail to himself, like Jeongguk had, or let it hang in the air unsaid also like he had, but he didn’t.
And it’s the very reason he continues to mull it over in his mind, leg bouncing up and down as he sits in the hotel hall, dressed in joggers and a hoodie and grateful the rehearsal was black tie optional. Thank the heavens for relaxed grooms such as Yoongi and Hoseok, because right now he’s a bit of a mess and unlike his usually collected self. He had to find ways to keep himself busy earlier, and that meant jumping from table to table with seating cards and waving the grooms off when they offered to do it themselves but that still didn’t stop him from checking the entrance every five minutes. Hoping Taehyung would be coming in soon because he has so much to ask or say. Though he wagers the words wouldn’t come out if faced with his ex again.
Luckily, he only has to wait a minute longer because he hears the doors open, Taehyung and Jimin walking in together, chatting animatedly and he hopes to steal Taehyung away for a mere second to speak but Yoongi hinders that, grabbing him by the arm and dragging him towards the altar where they’re set to rehearse. He knows it’s an important factor to the grooms, and he really wouldn’t be that friend who disturbs it but the bitter side of him watches longingly as Taehyung is pulled away by Hoseok. At least the other notices him, giving that shy sort of grin that’s also cheeky in nature, like he knows Jeongguk is itching to speak to him. It’s not the perfect interaction he hoped for, but he’ll take anything at this point and that smile was always a blessing to him.
For now, he’ll just have to nail this rehearsal as a groomsmen and pray it goes by quickly because of it.
“So, who goes first?” The officiant, one of Yoongi’s old friends, asks as he flips through his cue cards, memorizing the lines he’s supposed to say and Jeongguk would normally be amused at the people Yoongi chose for this but right now he’s busy stealing glances passed Hoseok’s shoulder just to spy a single glimpse of Taehyung. He’s so caught up in the action he misses the ‘I do ’ Yoongi mutters, his friend turning towards him to retrieve the ring, all in good faith to practice the upcoming routine for the actual wedding.
If Jeongguk had listened close enough he might’ve even heard the amused snicker Jimin let out, but unfortunately it takes Yoongi kicking at his shin to pry him from his thoughts. “Oh, fuck--sorry.” Jeongguk can feel the heat rise to his cheeks, Namjoon laughing behind him and he fumbles for the velvet box in his pocket, barely getting it open as his eyes remain on Taehyung. Who was clearly amused by his antics, something he’ll have to play off later as exhaustion and not because he’s completely taken by his ex and his potential flirting last night. All things considered, he can be grateful Yoongi isn’t pissed at him. In fact, his friend just smirks knowingly, rolling his eyes and no doubt debating all the ways he can tease him about this later. Something Jeongguk thinks he’ll endure because it is rather deserved.
Thankfully, the majority of the rehearsal goes better, no thanks to him because he still gets easily distracted by platinum hair and slim bodies that become swallowed by oversized shirts and pants. Funny thing is that Jeongguk knows Taehyung’s body, quite well if he’s honest, because he spent years worshipping it but whether now or back then he’s still persuaded to believe the other is somehow smaller than he appears. When he’s dressed down he always looks so soft in his eyes, so opposite of his work attire that personifies the other half of his personality. Jeongguk always did get whiplash from the duality, but just like the radiance of his being at the bar when they met again, this look makes him equally entranced.
It’s the sole reason he bumps into Yoongi when they’re practicing the entrance, making the other send him a grieved look that all but begs him to pay attention. All Jeongguk can do is nod meekly, giving an apologetic smile that quickly gets dismissed when Taehyung finally glances at him, biting back what Jeongguk believes might be a laugh at his expense. The entire scenario makes Jeongguk believe it isn’t just his brain overthinking. That he’s simply being naive and reading too much into the small actions or the statements the other makes, because when Taehyung stares at him it’s playful. As if he’s steering him along and hoping Jeongguk reacts to each movement, but whenever Jeongguk would catch him he’d turn away quick enough to make him wonder if it was just his imagination after all.
“Okay.” Hoseok claps, softly thanking the officiant before turning back to their group. “Thank you guys for showing up, I know it’s just the rehearsal but we want things to run as smoothly as possible. With family just starting to touch down in Norway, things are going to begin to be more chaotic and the wedding is tomorrow and...I think I’m about to panic.” He turns to Yoongi, who pats his back gently with a kiss to his cheek, easing the other back into a calm state.
“What my fiance is trying to say is, that we’re grateful you guys are making this easy on us. Without you all here...the last few days would have been endless nights of worrying by ourselves in the hotel room. Instead, we got to spend a day ice skating, catching up and finally bringing some of our favorite people together.” Yoongi’s eyes scan over them, paying close attention to Jeongguk before he grins and produces an envelope from his coat pocket. “Which is why we kept today’s groom activities a secret until now.” Carefully, he hands each one of them a ticket from it, Jeongguk glancing down to read it, smiling when he notes that it’s for an orchestra. “Just a little thank you from us both, for traveling all this way, putting your own lives on hold for us to celebrate our marriage and keeping us grounded during this time. We know it isn’t much, but as someone who knows music, I can safely say this isn’t something to be missed.”
There’s a few eager gasps from their group, Namjoon being especially interested but Jeongguk just stares down at it, feeling a pang of disappointment when he realizes he won’t be getting Taehyung alone just yet. That is until Yoongi steps closer to him, leaning in to whisper with the most slick grin he’s ever seen him wear. “Just an FYI, Guk...if you skip it, I won’t be offended.” He pats his shoulder, eyes shifting to Taehyung before landing on Jeongguk again, far too insightful for his taste. “Just figure whatever you have to figure out because I won’t be so forgiving if you bump into me on my actual wedding day.” It’s said with a hint of humor in it, but Jeongguk gets the idea that if he truly did have a misstep, Yoongi might disown him as a friend forever.
But before he can apologize the other is pulling away, giving him one last chiding look as he makes his way towards Hoseok. And for once in the last hour or so, there’s no one or nothing standing in his way. Taehyung is his for the taking, in the most benign of meanings, but Jeongguk takes the chance and grabs the blond by the arm the minute Jimin turns his attention to the grooms. “Hey.” He whispers. “Do you have time to talk, or just join me on a walk or something?”
“A walk?” Taehyung smiles, curious but no less enthused. “Sounds like you’re plotting to take me out to the field and murder me.”
“What? No, that isn’t--”
“Relax, Jeongguk. A walk sounds lovely, actually. But how about we get some breakfast first, hm?”
It’s not a bad idea, because Jeongguk can feel the emptiness begin to nag at him from skipping his usual morning meal after a workout. It’ll put a damper on his plan to discuss more pressing matters to him, but Taehyung isn’t going anywhere. Not yet, anyway. So, he agrees, letting Taehyung dictate where they get their food from and which coffee he should try because black is so dull and he must be tired of the hotel room coffee by now--he isn’t, but he lets Taehyung drag him along for the ride anyway.
They end up at the same cafe from the first time they hung out here, making Jeongguk smile as he watches him choose the same croissant as last time, and the same overly sweet drink as last time. He really shouldn’t be so taken by him, yet here he is, completely smitten by the simple way Taehyung waits for their order, observant and rocking back and forth on his heels. Sometimes he’d turn to smile at him, bringing up random or relevant topics like the upcoming nuptials or orchestra. Or a single anecdote about Jimin from last night at the restaurant, but Jeongguk is barely paying attention. It’s not that he lacks interest, it’s just his brain is preoccupied by the way Taehyung talks, or exists if he’s being perfectly transparent. There’s something about him that draws all attention, his poise so enthralling and Jeongguk briefly wonders how he got so lucky back then to have him as not only a friend but a lover. Sadly, it just disappoints him because can he really be so fortunate a second time around. Would the universe take pity and gift him another shot?
Maybe that’s up to him this time.
Jeongguk blinks, shaking away from his reverie when Taehyung hands him his cup. “Sorry?”
“The field from the other night, want to go back there?”
The field where he picked him flowers, where Taehyung had called them perfect? Yes, Jeongguk thinks he’d love to be back there. If Taehyung can’t be his now or forever, then at least he’ll have that damn field to remind himself what completion truly feels like. “Oh, yes, that’s perfect.”
They make their way past the small shops, sometimes getting distracted by the merchandise but quickly enough they still manage to make their way onto that same spot, baked goods in hand, and coffee in the other. Jeongguk has enough conversation starters in mind, but he figures asking right off the bat seems oddly desperate. Or maybe it’ll be too forward for Taehyung and he’ll just shut down completely on him, maybe toss his coffee in his face and tell him to get over it...but that seems unlikely. Taehyung isn’t like that, and it’s his own words that made Jeongguk begin to second guess if all this romanticizing is just him. Still, three years apart from the one you want can take a toll and Jeongguk doesn’t want to be the one to make an assumption only to be left out in the dust once more.
That doesn’t stop him from wanting to dissect every syllable of Taehyung’s statement last night.
And none of them were you…
Anyone would come to the conclusion that Taehyung had spent three years wishing on a repeat of what they had, but that doesn’t mean he wants him back. Jeongguk knows how hard it is to move on, and it can make you do and say a lot of funny things and just because you hold affection for someone, it doesn’t mean you want to start again. Maybe Taehyung still wants the chance to heal, maybe their recent meet ups have all been to seek closure. If that’s the case, Jeongguk wouldn’t blame him.
He played just as much a role in their breakup as Taehyung did, but he gets the feeling it was his own cowardice that kept them from ever finding each other again. Sometimes he wondered if he could have made things different, but every time he picked up his phone...he’d convince himself it wasn’t meant to be.
Who knows, maybe it still isn’t.
Taehyung was never one to obey the laws of the universe, at least not for fate. He believed in the magic of life, to be fair but it was never to the point he let anyone or anything rule his actions. So if he had wanted to make something of them again, wouldn’t he have reached out as well? Or maybe he just suspected Jeongguk wanted nothing to do with them.
“Can I ask you something?” Jeongguk blurts out, stopping Taehyung mid sentence along the topic of their groomsmen suits. The blond just pauses, circling his fingertip along the lip of the cup he holds, seeming nonchalant to the world around them but Jeongguk can tell he’s slightly fazed.
“Did you,” Jeongguk swipes his tongue over his lips, feeling them become unnaturally dry from the nerves kicking in. He’s not sure where he expected this conversation to go, but it wasn’t here. Honestly, though, he thinks it might be for the best. “Did you ever find me selfish…? Back then.”
It’s apparent the question catches Taehyung off guard, his eyes briefly widening before he brings his gaze back to his cup. Much too attentive to be simply admiring his drink. “I wanted to.” He admits, and Jeongguk hates the way his shoulders sag guiltily. “At the time, I wanted to. Any reason, even if it was something petty.” And maybe that’s the information that hurts the most, because Jeongguk knows Taehyung isn’t the grudge holding sort, that he tries to be as positive in life with all things. For him to have searched and fought for any logic to be angry with him...it’s how Jeongguk knows the pain ran just as deep as his own. “I just wanted to be angry because it hurt, you know? But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t. Nothing worked.” He laughs bitterly, laying his cup by his side as he looks to Jeongguk. “Even now. When Jimin told me it was you, I thought I should find a good reason to run up and scream at you.” The laugh he lets out is pained, but Jeongguk thinks he understands where it’s coming from. “It was so much to take in and part of me was angry we had to meet this way instead of mutually, and then you go and be the same Jeongguk from college and it just...fell through. I couldn’t do it.”
“You should’ve.” Jeongguk finds he means it, because the masochist in him thinks he deserves it. If Taehyung had yelled at him that first night in the bar, he’d probably be nursing wounded pride but no naive dream of returning to what they were. Presently, he’s not sure which outcome hurts more; the current pining or the finality of loss.
“Screamed at you?”
“Yes.” Taehyung seems to be amused by the notion, huffing indignantly but keeping that same smile on his face. “You still can, if you want.”
“Yes. Go on, Tae.” Jeongguk proposes, letting them drift into the natural direction the conversation takes. It’s not the particular topic he’s after, but if it eases them into it, then why not? Besides, they’ve held onto three years worth of wonder, it’s time he lets one of them get their venting out of the way.
“Here,” Taehyung gestures about the field. “Of all places?”
“Well, why not? No one will hear you but me.”
“Jeongguk.” He gives an airy chuckle, but Jeongguk can see the way his ears flush pink. “What, you expect me to have some cathartic moment like in the movies, scream at the horizon all of my frustrations and magically...everything will just go back to what we want?”
“Something like that.” Jeongguk says the words, but his mind begins to wander elsewhere. To the later half of that question Taehyung just posed.
Back to what we want…
He knows it’s a dangerous game he’s playing here, allowing himself to get too close and read every interaction as hope but sometimes it can’t be helped. Not when Taehyung is staring back at him now, eyes soft, narrowed but in the serene sense. And part of Jeongguk wants to press him to do it, to release the pent up resentment he might hold, small as it is. They each have something to be angry about, whether at each other or more importantly themselves.
“Something like that, he says.” Taehyung breathes deeply, shaking his head but scooting just an inch closer, his shoulder nestled up against Jeongguk’s in the slightest of warm pressure. “If I did that, Jeongguk,” He says, sounding sincere. “I’d have to scream at myself, too.” And there’s power to the way he tells him that, voice soothed in its deep tone, but Taehyung was always so good at making people feel at ease. His voice could sound so intimidating with its depth but when he spoke, it was impossible to feel anything but comfort.
Jeongguk feels that right now, heart growing heavy and making it painful to resist the temptation to lean closer. To put his head on Taehyung’s shoulder and let the man remind him of all the reasons he should’ve stopped him so long ago. That his maudlin state of sentimental compulsions was mere naivety, that everything he followed in life didn’t have to be so if he only tried hard enough.
True to nostalgia, Taehyung still follows through with a gesture of compassion towards him now, always being the one to ground him. He does so with a hand to his cheek, cupping it gently, sweetly--so sweetly it makes Jeongguk lock up next to him.
“Hush. I left you behind, too, Jeongguk. We left one another behind…” He says it like he knows precisely what Jeongguk has been thinking the last few days. Since that night Taehyung had unintentionally set forth a series of emotions that made him guilt ridden, though Jeongguk knew that was already his burden to bear from that fateful Sunday.
“If I’m honest,” Taehyung tilts his chin up, letting his wide smile alleviate the remorse between them. “I’m not even sure why anymore…”
If he had the presence of heart to laugh, Jeongguk would because he isn’t quite sure either anymore. Back then it must’ve made sense to them both, the only option available because what else could they do that didn’t spark distance. He admits he was fearful, too opposed to change in life that he wrote them off as an inevitability but looking at Taehyung now he thinks maybe the other felt the same to some extent. Perhaps too scared to lose him the wrong way if they became long distance, that he felt compelled to end it amicably, as much as possible anyway. “Was it weird?” Jeongguk leans into his touch, letting his eyes slip closed when the pad of a thumb brushes his cheekbone. “Not being together then, was it weird for you?”
“Oh, yes.” Taehyung admits easily. “I woke up everyday for so many months wondering why the left side of my bed was empty.” His smile becomes dismal, but Jeongguk understands. He’s been there, knows that misery well and how powerless you are against it. “I kept asking myself how can he be gone? Because no matter how many times I tried to make sense of it, I just couldn’t.”
Sense was the last thing any of their situation made.
“And you?” Taehyung asks, finally letting his cheek go, though Jeongguk convinces himself there’s reluctance in the release. “Was it weird for you?”
“Yes.” Because he’s passed keeping that knowledge locked up. “I would tell myself it just wasn’t meant to be. You know, to make myself feel better…” Speaking that aloud, and to Taehyung, makes it all sound so foolish now.
“You always did love destiny.”
Jeongguk gives a sparse chuckle, finding solace in the fact they can still laugh so easily together. Even if it’s through a shared heartache. “Yeah, well...lot of good that did me.”
“What do you mean?”
If only he could explain in generous detail, but to Taehyung he can only gaze back at him, gingerly sweeping a lock of platinum hair aside as he remarks rather arduously, “Because it was the only time I ever questioned it.”
White puffs of air fill the space between them the minute Taehyung’s lips part, and for a long while the blond just stares at him, a fleeting profoundness flickering through his eyes and Jeongguk thinks he’ll grab his drink and rush off the field for a moment. But Taehyung doesn’t leave him. Not this time.
Indeed, he actually sits there, fingertips melting into last night’s snow and just as Jeongguk makes to ease the tension he feels built between them...Taehyung surges forward.
There’s a hesitant second where Jeongguk regards the touch of lips to his as a dream. That the breath he exhales doesn’t taste like the sugary coffee Taehyung consumes when he pulls away for just a minute. That the momentary lapse of a kiss isn’t filled with the way he peeks through his half-lidded eyes, laced by a portion of wonder and fear because when he meets that mutual stare, he’s immediately taken by how lovely and beguiling it is. He’s given just a juncture of air to breathe in, before lips meet him again, this time halfway as his mind picks up the pace and registers this is no dream. He constantly tells himself that, but within their kiss he steals glances between his lashes, stabilizing his poor heart that doubts this isn’t a fever dream brought on by three years of hopeless pining.
It’s only when he feels something wet glide down his bottom lip that he tears himself away, gasping a little too hard for such a liplock he should be acquainted with in experience. “You’re crying…” Jeongguk pants, fingers curling into the fabric of Taehyung’s clothing.
“I know.” He sniffs, eyes never leaving Jeongguk’s lips.
“I just,” Taehyung gasps, letting the other pull him closer, heart skipping a beat when hands take firm hold of his hips. “I have a feeling we’re going to make a mistake…”
A mistake...is that what this is to him? Jeongguk barely holds the presence of mind to file that away for later, and he knows it’ll come back to bite him in the ass but for now...now his heart yearns for him to let go. Instead of peeling himself away like logic begs, he huffs out a laugh, cupping Taehyung’s cheeks and breathing against his mouth, “Me too. So, please...stop me now if you wish.” His lips sweep over Taehyung’s, inviting, casual in their dance but not withholding a shred of the hunger that pulses through them. “Because I don’t think I can do it myself…”
“You’re asking the wrong person, Gukkie.”
The old nickname makes Jeongguk smile harder, lips pressed to Taehyung’s as they share a laugh but it’s swallowed by the beat of their mouths together. Smiles and giggles, and if they were wiser, ruled by the parts of themselves that asked for logic and not three years worth of longing, Jeongguk knows they would’ve stopped. They’d be smart enough to discuss this thing they have right here, this unresolved desire that burns from the pit of their stomach to the cage of their hearts.
Until then, though, this will persist. Their lips will be enough to hold it all back. Until Jeongguk finds temporary solace in Taehyung’s arms. Because only then will it feel like old times, only then can he return to that Sunday and do the thing he only dreamt of.
For those reasons, they remain this way throughout the day. For hours, maybe..or minutes, but who’s truly counting when you're tangled in laughter, stolen kisses and the naivety that destiny might be doing you a favor. So let rationale be damned when you’re walking side by side with an old lover, your pinkies locked together and only releasing when the hotel comes into view.
It had taken all of Taehyung’s willpower to let go of Jeongguk when they had walked into the hotel, both quiet, pinkies interlocked and sue him for indulging the feeling of it there again. They had always done that when they were together, a relaxed form of hand holding that somehow provided more emotion than the average way couples do it. Call him silly, but Taehyung found the gesture endearing, and it’s clear to him that hasn’t changed since years ago.
It’s why he’s been giddy since getting back to his room, sighing melodically while removing his shoes, already considering what to wear to the orchestra because now he has more reason to impress. An old school reaction, he’s aware, but there’s a warmth in his chest and he’s placing all his bets on chasing it.
“You could at least say hello before prancing in here.” Jimin comes from the bathroom, towel around his waist and hair a mop of damp locks. “Instead you make me nearly slip in the shower when I hear the door slam open.”
“Sorry, Jimin.” Lapse of judgement on his part, because Taehyung had barely paid mind to his surroundings upon entering. “Feeling a little...preoccupied.” And that seems to do the trick, Jimin’s head whipping around to narrow his eyes at him, hands stopping their path along the clothes they have hung up in the armoire.
“Don’t act innocent, Tae. I know that look--wait, you did do it this time, didn’t you? That’s why you both rushed off after rehearsal.”
“Jesus--what is it with you and thinking I’m just here to bang my ex. For the record, I didn’t even know he’d be here until you told me. Or did you forget?” Taehyung flips his shoe over to the closet, making Jimin curse as it flies by his ankle. “You’re also the one who pushed me to get closure …”
“Yeah, closure, Tae. Not sneak off and do the dirty.”
“The dirty.” He huffs, rolling his eyes. “What are you, ten? And besides, we didn’t...do anything of the sort.” But the minute he says that the memory of warm lips on his makes him flush, the familiar frenzy of heat radiating deep in his belly. “At least nothing too rushed…”
Jimin gives him a pointed look, taking a seat right next to him and looking slightly humorous with how he tries to be intimidating, wearing nothing but a towel and his pink hair stuck to his forehead. “Spill, Tae.”
“Fine.” Taehyung leans back on the bed, pursing his lips and trying not to be distracted by the way they tingle. “We just kissed...that’s all.”
“That’s all.” It’s said with amusement, almost disbelief but Jimin just heaves a sigh like he’s mostly trying to tease than scold. “Definitely not what I meant by closure, in fact that seems like the opposite of closure.”
Taehyung can only giggle at that, knowing it was an out of the blue sort of deal. Kissing Jeongguk wasn’t in his agenda when he woke up this morning, but neither had been reuniting with him in the first place, and how can he keep his hands and lips to himself when Jeongguk looks him directly in the eyes and says things that make his heart skip a beat. To even know their parting had taken its toll on him as well, to see it in the way he stared...to even know it made him question so much, in the most cynical way, it made Taehyung realize how deep in love they were.
Maybe even still were.
“I couldn’t help it and just so we’re clear, you did tell me to run with it. Anyway, we only went out for breakfast but then we actually got to talking about us, the past...and next thing I know we’re kissing.”
“And?” Jimin presses, taking an extra towel to dry his hair out.
“And for the first time in three years I felt complete, Jimin. And I don’t even care how cliche that sounds, because it’s true.”
There’s a pause where Taehyung believes Jimin is about to ward him away from a mistake, but even if he tried Taehyung doesn’t think he’d consider kissing Jeongguk as one. Never could, if he’s blatantly honest. Instead, his friend smiles, reassuring but concerned in that familiar way. “I kind of wish I had noticed how deep you were in it for him before, I would’ve forced you to contact him long ago.”
“I don’t know.” Taehyund concedes, thinking back on all the time and though he wished it never happened, he can determine it was for the best. Time apart was painful, but they found each other again, and maybe he’s rushing into this but three years is already long enough. He thinks he’s allowed some push when it comes to them. “It’s different now. We’re the same together, but today…”
Because it was the only time I ever questioned it.
“I don’t know, I just think this time around if we gave it a shot, it wouldn’t fail. We’d be strong enough not to let it fail.”
Jimin nods. “Just...be careful. He seems like a good guy, but I also don’t want to see you get hurt for no reason, Tae. We’re moving back to Seoul soon, there’s no need to be impulsive.”
It could be the sudden arrival of Jeongguk back into his life that brought forth all of these warring emotions, but Taehyung knows it isn’t. They were always good together, but now they had the potential to be better, more settled. Even impulsivity didn’t concern him with them, it was more the complication of confession. Clearly there’s a mutual attraction still, and judging by Jeongguk’s words he held tenderness for him even after all these years. But none of that would be enough, not yet. Taehyung needed to hear it, to know they’re willing to give themselves a second shot. If they could spare some time, if he could just talk to him a little more...then perhaps those three years away would be worth something.
Jeongguk’s well aware of the goofy, lovesick grin he enters his hotel room with. Honestly, he probably owes Namjoon a thousand apologies for how often he barges in with one problem or another. Usually they go along the lines of Taehyung being the inevitable distraction for his heart, and the words he chooses rarely hold anything completely positive. If it wasn’t obvious that he still adored his ex before, it was quite evident now. So, Jeongguk decides giving Namjoon a winning smile over the usual gloomy, half-assed one he holds upon entering, is better than nothing. At least this time his friend won’t have to deal with him seeking advice only to brush it off because that familiar cowardice takes over. This time he comes in with resolve.
Something about kissing Taehyung makes him feel brave, he guesses, because the moment their lips parted it certainly wasn’t a mistake to him. He just hopes that comment from Taehyung was more in the moment and less speaking a truth.
“Alright.” Namjoon sighs, crossing his arms after turning off the television. He’s clad in pajamas, looking less ready for an orchestra and more inclined for pillow fort construction. If Jeongguk wasn’t so preoccupied with his own life, he’d have teased his friend for it. “Let’s hear it.”
“Hear what?” Jeongguk nibbles at his lower lip, fighting down that tug of a smile. Giddiness has completely overtaken him by now, and he tries his hardest not to throw himself on the bed like some teenage girl with a crush that just noticed her existence. But, still, that feeling alone brought on by a kiss wouldn’t be enough to snuff out the guilt he’s wracked with. Though now he believes he’s bold enough to confront it.
“Well, for once in the last week or so, this is the first time you walk in with your tail not tucked between your legs. One would surmise that has something to do with your hopeless crush on an ex boyfriend.”
“Why does it feel like you're more amused by my situation than sympathetic?”
“I can be both, Guk. Now, what happened to make you so besotted?”
Jeongguk snorts at that choice of words, rolling his eyes and taking a seat at the windowsill, momentarily taken by the view. Norway really was a sight to behold. “You know how you told me to figure it out?”
“Yes…” It comes out sounding like a concerned affirmation.
“Well, I figured it out.”
Normally, Namjoon would’ve stared blankly at him as he recalled his current emotional state and the like, but for once the other seems genuinely taken aback. His eyes grow wide, mouth parting in surprise and a single soft, startled noise leaves him. “You did?”
“And what did you figure out, exactly?”
“Well, funny thing…” Jeongguk glances down at his hands, mindlessly rubbing the pad of his thumb over the bed of his other nail. “Some parts I always knew, others not so much.”
“I’ve never stopped loving Taehyung, that’s always been clear to me. One way or another.” Jeongguk thinks he’s known that since the start. Three years were mere months of pining horribly, until time itself blanketed the pain and kept him in a semi coherent state of being a human being. That spark was always there, would never leave and he knows this, but it took seeing Taehyung in person after so long to feel it burst to life in the most chaotic passion. And that kiss? Gods--he’s been missing that feeling for so long, having it again cemented the want he felt, the need. “But it’s only now I realize how goddamn stupid I was back then. I had a choice, Joon...and I chose to ignore it then.”
“Jeongguk…” His tone grows tender, turning just enough on the couch to face Jeongguk and give a placating look. “Is that such a bad thing, really?”
“Of course, it is!” How can it not be, when he had three years of time that could’ve been by Taehyung’s side. Missing out on his laughter, his kisses, even just his soothing presence, he lost all of that because he was too caught up in a dream he built for them. “I let him go. All to pursue what I wanted and yet he looks at me like he used to, even now...I realized that’s what’s been bothering me all this time. Why it affected me so much when I saw him in that bar again.” He licks his lips, smacking them as he shakes his head in disbelief of his own actions. “Yes, part of it was because I still loved the ever living daylights out of him, but it was also...it was also because not a single thing changed, and I remember feeling scared because of it and I thought it was because I was afraid of the feelings I still carried but it was more than that, Joon.” So much more. “I was bothered by the mere fact Taehyung, someone I love and someone I left, could still look at me just the same as he did three years ago.”
Looking back on that reunion now, Jeongguk thinks himself a complete fool for not seeing it all before. “Tell me in what world I deserve that? Even if we both agreed to be apart, I--fuck, I had a choice and I chose to watch him go.”
“Again,” Namjoon interrupts, leaning over the arm of the couch to consider him carefully. “Is that such a bad thing? I think you’re tackling this the wrong way, Jeongguk.”
“Can you just skip ahead to the point you knock sense into me?”
Namjoon snorts, a small hiccup of a chuckle escaping but at least his friend listens. “It’s called forgiveness. Taehyung looks at you that way because he already forgave you for the pain, and he’s also forgiven himself. Something you could learn a thing or two about.”
“That’s easier said than done. I’ve been questioning so much since that damn Sunday. I chased the wrong things, put him second because it was easier…”
“Don’t forget he did the same.”
“Doesn’t matter...what the hell was I thinking?”
Jeongguk can’t say he’s surprised by the lack of sugar coating Namjoon provides.
“And that’s not a bad thing, Jeongguk. Look, humans love to romanticize every little detail about a person. Whether it’s a stranger or someone close to us. Every part has to hold some deeper meaning when sometimes it just doesn’t. Simply put, you both loved each other then and had views of the future and unfortunately, they didn’t match up. You prioritized yourselves, even if you regret it now, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Two people who want something bad enough, they’re going to go after it no matter what. You can call it fate, you can call it cowardice, but deep down I think you knew it had to happen that way and if you ask me you both made the right decision then.”
“No.” Namjoon shakes his head, silencing him. “You lost each other so you can both truly find yourselves. And now that you have, there’s nothing left to lose. So, it isn’t about the choice you didn’t make back then, Guk...it’s about the one you need to make now. So,” He reaches over to lay a hand on his knee, patting it awkwardly because Namjoon was always better with words than the physical comfort. “You better start forgiving yourself, and start ignoring fate or whatever you constantly look to for life advice.” Jeongguk laughs softly, knowing that’s been his problem all along. “Because circumstances brought you back together, and you can do something about it now or you can continue on this path and wonder what if the rest of your life. But I get the feeling three years is long enough, right?”
How often can someone say they’ve been provided a second chance? It seems a rarity, but Jeongguk thinks that maybe they just go ignored more often for fear of what they may bring. It’s definitely easier to leave the hard parts of life up to destiny, because then you don’t need to confront it.
So, maybe Namjoon is right. Maybe deep down Jeongguk had wanted to stay in Seoul for good, and letting fate take Taehyung away made that choice easier to swallow.
No more excuses, though and Jeongguk decides this time he won’t leave this choice up to anyone but himself.
“Do you want to head out together?”
Taehyung fixes the collar of his ivory silk blouse, fingertips fanning across his fringe while he nods his head at his friend. Jimin’s been ready for a good twenty minutes, being patient enough to wait on Taehyung who took extra time to make himself look appealing--something Jimin had merely snorted at because he was being, and he quotes, ‘ obvious ’.
“Sure, let me just…” He peruses the vanity tray on their bathroom counter, hand hovering over the bottles of cologne before he selects one of his favorite Gucci fragrances. He spritzes some of the scent on him, angling his neck back and hitting his pulse points. “Okay, I’m ready.”
“It only took you three hours.”
“Don’t exaggerate.” Taehyung laughs, fixing his hair one last time before grabbing for his pale pink blazer. He’s going to stick out amongst all the concert goers, but that’s always been part of his aesthetic. Fashion was meant to be risque and he took that seriously enough to never let his tastes run...well, neutral on the color wheel. Plus, if he was more honest, he couldn’t help but notice how often his clothing choices captured more of Jeongguk’s attention lately. He’s always been showered in compliments or pleased looks from the other when they were dating, but with more resources at his disposal these days, he can take it up a notch.
It’s starting to be glaringly obvious that Jimin might’ve been right…
“Fine, fine. But you owe me some drinks after tonight. I have a feeling Hoseok is growing extra emotional with tomorrow closing in and for some reason orchestras make him cry…”
Taehyung giggles at the image, knowing they spent a few minutes calming their friend down earlier because he was jittery about the whole ordeal. Not because he was fearful or getting cold feet, but simply that natural nerve hitting him with a wedding just around the corner. In fact, Taehyung was sure he was sniffling back tears on the phone when they spoke. “Deal.”
They both head out of the hotel room, Taehyung’s hand letting go of the handle once he hears the click and they make it just in time to squeeze into the elevator when another guest is about to close it. When they hear the ding of their destination, Taehyung shuffles the blazer on, smoothing down the lapels and using the elevator mirror to check just one more time that he looks impeccable. Until Jimin huffs in annoyance, grabbing his arm and trailing them out into the hall where more guests seem to be congregating, the bar bustling nearby because it’s essentially happy hour here.
“I think I liked you better when you were moving on from your ex…”
His tone suggests that he’s teasing, but Taehyung feels himself choke back an embarrassed guffaw at the statement. Not long ago he might’ve agreed with that sentiment, considering he did use others to kill that loneliness. It was easier to make someone be a placeholder, to provide that comfort and familiarity of loving someone. Only Taehyung knew deep down it was wrong, and impossible to replicate if it wasn’t Jeongguk. When he was with the others, it never felt the same, never felt as profound. He would tell himself it was because he craved the past, that change was already difficult and it wasn’t so much about Jeongguk as it was wishing for intimacy again. It’s probably the greatest lie he ever told himself.
But in the end, whenever his relationships failed...it was obvious what the cause was. Being alone seemed unappealing to him, but being with his exes at the time only made him avoid the reality; being without Jeongguk was the most unappealing outcome. He just managed to blanket that fact with the arms of another lover.
So, Taehyung thinks he likes it better when he isn’t moving on from his ex. He’ll happily chalk that up to growth.
“Shut up…” He finally responds, turning away so Jimin doesn’t tease him about the pink of his cheeks matching his outfit. Only that action makes him glance to the bar, seeing Namjoon pat Jeongguk on the back before grabbing his coat and heading towards their direction. He blinks in surprise when he sees Taehyung, giving a small smile before saying, “Hey, I was just heading to the concert hall. Care for some company on the walk there?”
Jimin delights in this, eagerly nodding his head and almost tugging Taehyung along until he gently tears himself away from his friend. “Um, actually,” He points to the bar, noting how Jeongguk has his back turned. “I’m just going to…” Jimin catches on fairly quickly, rolling his eyes with a stern expression, but Taehyung can tell there’s support there.
“Yeah, yeah. Guess I’ll be taking a rain check on those drinks later.” He flicks Taehyung’s nose playfully, whispering a ‘be good ’ in his ear before following a curious Namjoon out the doors.
Taehyung finds himself standing alone in the lobby, eyes darting back to Jeongguk and it’s then he takes in the other’s appearance. He’s wearing a navy blue suit, and even without seeing the front Taehyung just knows he looks good.
“Hi there.” Jeongguk tenses in surprise, blinking next to him and Taehyung fails to bite back his amused laugh. “Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.”
Taehyung doesn’t miss the way Jeongguk’s eyes slip to his lips.
“It’s okay. Just kind of in my head.”
Jeongguk seems to panic at his choice of words, waving the comment off and laughing in the most adorable but forced way. “Nothing important, uh--want a drink?”
Taehyung thinks Jeongguk is the one who could use a few. Still, he nods at the offer, watching amusedly as the other beckons the bartender over.
“Sex on the beach.”
“Of course.” Jeongguk grins, handing the bartender his card and asking to keep the tab open for now. “Another part of you that’s never changed.” He says with a fond look, causing Taehyung to smile shyly when he finally takes a seat on the stool.
“Oh, I don’t know. I think plenty has changed.”
The distance between them grows smaller, and Taehyung tries not to slip from his barstool with how much he’s suddenly trembling in anticipation. One kiss, a few revealing tidbits of life after each other and now he’s reduced to this, he muses. It’s not that surprising, he surmises, considering how easy it always was for the both of them to get under each other’s skin, in the most heavenly of ways. It’s no wonder no one worked out after Jeongguk, because not a single person held the talent of making him lose his bearings.
Oh god--he’s actually flirting now. Taehyung remembers that tone, the sultry pitch, the glittering of wide, infatuating doe eyes...he doesn’t know what to do with this sudden burst of tension. He’s barely taken a sip of his own drink, so he can’t exactly blame it on the alcohol for the way his cheeks burn or the nostalgic heat that erupts in his belly. “Stop it.” He ends up saying, shoving at Jeongguk’s arm and smiling when it only makes him laugh.
“Alright.” Jeongguk speaks through giggles. “That was mean, I apologize. Consider it payback, though.”
“Kissing me earlier.”
Taehyung feels his body tense, blushing more than he thought himself capable of. Had Jeongguk not actually wanted that, then? It was abrupt, a heat of the moment deal because Jeongguk had been gazing so intensely at him with more meaning than he could comprehend that his instinct screamed to get closer to him. Maybe Jimin was right, he shouldn’t have been so impulsive… “Oh my god, I’m sorry, I thought--”
“Hey, hey.” Jeongguk quickly calms him, seeming flustered himself now. “I wanted it.” But then that only makes him cringe more, making Taehyung burst into a fit of chuckles. “Stop laughing.” Jeongguk sighs, but it’s clear he’s close to losing it too as he makes to down his drink.
“I’m sorry--it’s just…” Taehyung wipes at the corner of his eye, but the tears don’t feel like ones of laughter. It’s like his nerves are seeping through, making him a jittery, bumbling mess. “It’s all so unexpected, isn’t it?” He settles down, turning his glass in his hands and watching the condensation drip along the wooden surface of the bar.
“That’s putting it mildly.”
“Did it...bother you?” Taehyung finds himself asking, gnawing on his lip when Jeongguk remains silent for a time. It’s not like he expects the other to unleash a tidal wave of emotions on him, he just has to know. Wants to see if learning they’d both be here made them equally frazzled. “Seeing me again, or knowing I’d be here?”
“No.” He admits, shrugging his shoulders. “I wouldn’t say bothered. More surprised--frightened, if I’m honest.”
Jeongguk spends a minute just watching him, eyes moving all across his features and he’d normally feel scrutinized under such looks but there’s something softer about the way the other does it. Like he’s taking a moment to remind himself of the way Taehyung exists in this world, checking each detail to make sure it’s still the same man from college. “Taehyung,” He suddenly speaks, licking across his lips before working up the courage to finish. “I never thought I’d see you again.” It’s the way he says it that makes Taehyung inhale sharply, knowing precisely what that experience is like.
You go years without seeing someone, finding your heart becoming numb most days--the good days, if he’s blunt because the ones where it remembers your past love are the worst. It’s hard to be happy when all you think about are the memories, they’re so good--great even, and then you end up hurting because it’s not in your life anymore. So, when it does show up again, when he shows up again...how exactly are you supposed to feel? “I never thought I’d see you again, either.”
But it occurs to Taehyung, in this moment--in that moment when he saw Jeongguk in person for the first time in years...he was happy.
He thinks he should tell him that, but Jeongguk beats him to the conversation.
“You know,” He says. “There were times I thought about all the things I wanted to say to you in the past few years and now that I have the chance...I don’t even know where to start.” It ends in a laugh, strained and partly confused but Taehyung understands that too.
“I know the feeling.”
“Mmhm.” Taehyung nods mutely, taking a quick sip of his drink. “It’s kind of the reason why I kissed you earlier.” Other than the fact that I simply wanted to…
Truth is, when Jeongguk had made that comment, Taehyung felt his entire chest blossom the way it used to around him. So many words itched on his tongue but none felt perfect enough to convey how that made him feel. They say actions speak louder than words, and usually Taehyung finds balance in both but at that time he simply went with instinct. He hopes his kiss said more than enough, that it provided the necessary segue into the reality of his feelings for the other, for the past three years.
I missed you. I want you. I’m here now.
And I still love you…
“Yeah, you did kiss me…” Jeongguk seems slightly amused by that fact, but his eyes sparkle with affection and it’s so poorly hidden Taehyung takes the action as Jeongguk no longer caring if he sees the attraction still holds after so long. “You always were talented at catching me off guard.”
“Somebody has to.” Taehyung quips.
“Somebody has to…” Jeongguk repeats it slowly, eyes never leaving Taehyung’s as he leans closer, lips parting as he’s about to speak, but he only gets a quick ‘ Taehyung, I need to talk-- ’ out before the music in the bar grows louder, people in the back whooping and hollering, likely part of a group of friends.
The sound makes them both flinch at first, until Taehyung starts laughing at the interruption. He purses his lips at the music, smile dimming when he recognizes it. “Do you remember this song?” He points up at the speakers, Jeongguk following the gesture. “It played on our first date. Inside the botanical gardens.”
Jeongguk seems to listen intently for a second, bopping his head to the soft track, some cliche love song that he was probably sure made them laugh at the time but if Taehyung is fair he knows Jeongguk can’t recall the atmosphere as well as Taehyung could. His focus was on someone else…if memory was anything to go by. “You always had a way better memory than me for those details.”
“Oh?” Taehyung hums, cheeky. “What do you remember then?”
There’s a hitch in Taehyung’s breath, body stiffening when he feels Jeongguk’s hand reach to take his own, their fingers threading together, warm...familiar.
“Holding your hand, looking into your eyes.” Jeongguk appears to get lost in the memory, eyes becoming glassy, distracted and Taehyung doesn’t blame him. “And you leaned forward...and so did I.” His fingers now curl around Taehyung’s wrist, gentle but urgent in a way. There’s a moment of hesitation in their eyes, as if they’re both increasingly aware of how backwards this is.
Yet, can they really judge it? They fell in love so long ago, never quite falling out of it even when they parted, or so Taehyung believes. He can safely say that’s the truth on his end, and he’s old enough to know he sees it in Jeongguk too. He let his kiss speak for him before, and it caused no damage to them, so why not let their actions speak now. You can’t fall in love, say goodbye and reunite without tempting the attraction of the most intimate parts. Taehyung can see the way they move slowly, hands tightening against each other. The fire, whether in their bellies or hearts, is in control now. A nagging feeling tells Taehyung to fear it, to not give in this way but the thought of ignoring this heavy moment feels wrong.
Their bodies can do the talking, their words can handle the rest later.
“I’d like to go to my room.” Taehyung whispers, releasing an exhale that sounds far too sensual for such an average action. “And I’d like you to come with me.”
Jeongguk swallows, so visibly Taehyung notices the way his throat bobs and for a brief moment he thinks the other will decline, that he’ll say something logical. That they should use their words but then he’s letting go of Taehyung’s hand, moving to grip his hip instead and giving a slight squeeze. “Close my tab.” He mutters as the bartender passes by, but he never takes his eyes away from Taehyung.
“You don’t mind missing the orchestra?”
It’s meant to tease, to joke, but Taehyung leans closer, grabbing for the slim blue tie Jeongguk wears.
“Screw the orchestra.”
Is the only response he gets, watching as Jeongguk scrawls a tip and his signature on the receipt, pocketing his things and taking Taehyung’s hand as he leads them to the elevator.
It’s like nothing ever changed, the fervor with which they touch each other. It’s been a while since Taehyung’s felt anyone’s hands on him in this way, even longer since they belonged to Jeongguk but in a way his caress was always there. Existing alongside the men he bedded after, the boyfriend he dared to date just to move on. So much floods from the past, and he’s only grounded by the heaviness of two hands on his waist, leading him against the elevator wall. They’re not even kissing, but they breathe against each other, Taehyung’s arms curling around Jeongguk’s neck where his fingers tangle in the hair at his nape. It’s only when the elevator doors close that they unleash it all, Jeongguk’s lips meeting his in a passionate kiss that sends chills down his spine.
They stay locked together even as they walk onto his floor, banging into hallway walls, giggling when they slam into the wrong door, and have to scurry away before the guest complains. The part that sticks with Taehyung the most is the fact it feels like it did when they were younger. That excitement that courses your veins, anticipation making you tremble in absolute desire for more contact and the very simple way they stop kissing just to stare into each other’s eyes.
Jeongguk has him against the right door this time, pressing their foreheads together as he fondly looks at him. “Taehyung--”
“Shh.” He hushes, pressing one finger to his lips. “Let’s go inside.” Pulling the keycard from his pocket, Taehyung twists in his arms, making quick work of opening the door and shutting it so they can have actual privacy this time. They seem to stand a few feet apart now, Jeongguk eyeing the bed on the far left and even if they don’t touch or scramble to peel clothes off, there’s still no awkwardness there.
Taehyung can’t help but appreciate that.
“You look,” Jeongguk starts, moving closer until he can reach out again, fingertips ghosting along the pink fabric of his suit. “Amazing.”
“So do you.” The comment is emphasized by the way he smooths his palms along Jeongguk’s chest, delighted in the soft material of his button up. “I never thought I’d see you in a suit.”
“Well,” Words get lost in a bundle of giggles and kisses, both of them leading one another towards a bed and stopping once they’re at the foot of it. “People can change, I suppose.”
“They can.” Taehyung slips out of his blazer, watching as Jeongguk mirrors the movement, their clothing soon becoming a pile on the floor, belts and socks tossed somewhere on the furniture around them. “But,” He reaches forward to touch the soft skin of Jeongguk’s abdomen, internally losing it at how sculpted he’s gotten since college. Jeongguk was always a gym rat, but it’s obvious he spent even more time perfecting his body over the years. “You really haven’t, Gukkie. You’re still very much how I remember.”
“Not even a little better?”
Taehyung laughs softly, nudging Jeongguk to lay down on the bed as he straddles him. “Maybe a little better.”
Maybe they’re both a little better.
“Now kiss me, will you?”
“You waited three years, have some patience.”
Taehyung slaps his chest playfully, feigning offense at the audacity but Jeongguk merely chuckles, flipping them over and working Taehyung’s pants off in a slow, aggravating way. His fingers curl around the belt loops, Taehyung so worked up the scratch of fabric running down his thighs makes him squirm. Or maybe that’s just Jeongguk eliciting that reaction from him, because when his pants become another victim in their pile of clothes, he’s left vulnerable and needy under him.
“I just realized something.” Jeongguk whispers, staring down at Taehyung with dark eyes, taking in every single feature of his now completely nude body. Normally Taehyung would flush under such attention, annoyed that his lover would waste time when all he wants is to get off, because sex lost its magic long ago...but this? This is Jeongguk, and that old passion he had for such intimacy was influenced back to life. He’s always loved the way the man has gazed at him, loved when he’d spend an hour simply worshipping his body, leaving trails of burning kisses along his skin, fingertips and palms hot against him. They say knowledge breeds skill, and for them it’s true. They have always been good at this.
“What’s that?” Taehyung gasps, arching his lower back from the bed when lips brush down his sternum.
“I don’t have a condom…”
They blink at each other, the worry dissipating into genuine smiles. “Neither do I…”
“Do you want to stop?” Jeongguk asks, unsure and his hands cease their path down his sides just in case. But Taehyung absolutely does not want to stop, prefers to be like this forever, in fact.
“I don’t think that’s possible.” And it’s the truth. They’re so close, so close to feeling whole again and Taehyung could end this here and say it’s not how they should start over but it’s difficult to even think when soft lips mouth at your neck, chest and over your thighs, strong hands picking up each leg just to leave kiss after kiss. “And I’ll be honest, I don’t want to.” His eyes slip closed, mouth parting to release a content sigh when a warm tongue licks a wet trail over his stomach, making him writhe languidly on the sheets. “But, if--”
Jeongguk shakes his head, smiling up at him from where his cheek rests on his stomach, catching onto the thread Taehyung wants to pull. “I haven’t been with anyone. Not for a long time.”
He should be ashamed at how happy that makes him to hear, but it does. Simply knowing they both didn’t bother with anyone else for a long while, that neither were even prepared to turn this wedding into a possible romantic endeavor with someone, it makes Taehyung preen inwardly. “Me either.” He brings his hands down to Jeongguk’s hair, carding his fingers through the dark strands, tugging when he feels hot breath fan across his cock. “S-So, keep going…” His request morphs into a long, eager moan, legs parting to give Jeongguk more space when he finally gives him the attention he wants.
Lips wrap around the tip of his length, sucking around him, making him find purchase on the bedsheets or Jeongguk’s hair, whatever was closest in his state of pleasure. He doesn’t even know how long they’re at it, just counts the bliss in labored breaths whenever Jeongguk bobs his head up and down, sometimes letting him slip from his tongue just to kiss down his length, over his balls and making him squeal when the tip of his tongue flicks over his entrance. It earns him a laugh from below, Jeongguk smirking up at him as he parts his legs by gripping his thighs harder.
“Come on now, you used to love when I rimmed you.”
“I,” Thing is, no other man ever pleasured him there. “It’s been a long time since anyone did that to me.”
“Really?” Jeongguk nuzzles between his cheeks, sucking over his hole and groaning when Taehyung writhes in his hold. “How long?”
The heat that swarmed his entrance stops, causing him to whine out in displeasure but then he feels the weight of Jeongguk atop him, eyes heavy as they peer down. “Oh, baby…” Jeongguk whispers, almost surprised but no less flattered in a way. But it’s the pet name that makes Taehyung’s eyes widen a fraction.
He’s definitely missed that.
“I got you, Tae. I’ll make you feel good, again.” Then he’s up from the bed, looking around the room before disappearing into the bathroom, returning with a small massage oil vile each guest gets. Taehyung hadn’t paid it any mind at first, but now he’s pretty damn grateful it exists.
“Take your pants off.”
“Working on it.” Jeongguk laughs, unbuttoning the slacks and letting them slide down his hips, pooling at his ankles along with his briefs and then he’s nude. So beautifully nude and Taehyung can only stare at him, from the dip of his waist, to the way his cock stands proud and flushed. And when Jeongguk slathers some oil on his palm, stroking himself as he kneels back on the bed, Taehyung is sure he’s close to losing it.
And he does.
Hands flip him onto his stomach, raising his backside and then lips and tongue are on him. They suck, kiss, stroke and do every dirty thing to his body but it feels so fucking good. Because only Jeongguk has ever known how to properly touch him, knows every single one of his erogenous zones down to the most random and to know he never forgot...it makes Taehyung want to cry or moan, he’s still not sure.
“More…” He whispers into the mattress, gripping the duvet between his fingers as another lick flattens over his entrance. Two fingers are worked into him now, pumping in and out and coupled with Jeongguk teasing around him with his lips, it’s bringing him closer to the edge than he’d like. “Gukkie, more. Need you, come on. Don’t want to come like this…”
There’s no argument, and Jeongguk is gentle when he slides his fingers out, palm massaging his butt cheek as he pours more oil on his cock, free hand working to coat himself thoroughly. “Turn around for me, Tae.”
He’s quick to oblige, moving over on shaky limbs, biting his lip when he’s met with the sight of Jeongguk jerking himself off. A string of precome drips from the tip of his length, and Taehyung is tempted to slide down and lick it away but Jeongguk pins him to the bed instead, smiling when the move gifts him a throaty moan. “Let me.” Taehyung insists, wanting to give as much as he got. Because it’s been so long since he felt like this, since he wanted more than a quick orgasm just to ebb the need away.
“Don’t worry about it, just let me take care of you. I want to take care of you.” Jeongguk leans over him, aligning himself to his hole as he bunts their foreheads together. They stare at each other for a good minute, chests rising arduously, hands lacing together and even when Jeongguk pushes his hips forward, Taehyung refuses to close his eyes.
He bites down on his cheek, muffling a moan as Jeongguk bottoms out, the slide easy with the oil. It’s an intense pressure he feels, but even with the slight discomfort it’s entirely gratifying. His fingers come to escape from the other’s grasp, settling on his biceps instead as the first thrust rocks into him. “Mmph.”
“Yes....yes, yes.” Is all Taehyung can garble out, knees knocking into Jeongguk’s sides with each move, leaving little room for him to have a single coherent thought that doesn’t start with Jeongguk.
“You too, baby. So good, always and forever.” The compliment is kissed into his neck, where Jeongguk remains as he continues to rock into him, picking up the pace only when Taehyung demands it.
Each thrust makes Taehyung moan out, nails digging into Jeongguk’s shoulders as he arches into him, skin sweaty, cock slapping against his stomach where it lays unattended. But it doesn’t matter much to him, the feeling of Jeongguk hitting his prostate is more than enough stimulation, the feeling of being like this with him an added bonus to increase his already heightening pleasure.
And Jeongguk touches him so expertly, one hand sweeping up his waist, burying his fingertips into his ribcage where he’s always been more sensitive to touch. The caress prickles along his skin, goosebumps rising and then Jeongguk is bending closer to suck a hardened nipple into his mouth, flicking his tongue over it and whispering encouragements for Taehyung to just ‘let go’.
“I-I Have a confession.” Taehyung rasps out, throwing his head back on the bed when one particular thrust sends an electrifying sensation up his body. “No one.” He moans, wrapping his arms around Jeongguk, pulling him down till their bodies are flush together, working into a frenzy of thrusts and tangled limbs. “No one has ever made me feel as good as you do.”
Jeongguk moves from his neck, a deep, guttural grunt falling from him when he peers at him, the ends of his hair a damp mess. But Taehyung adores that look on him, can’t believe how much he missed seeing it, being able to reach up and touch and run his hands through his hair, uncaring if sweat moistens his skin.
“No one, Jeongguk.”
He watches those eyes soften, hips slowing down and suddenly it’s more intimate. Each drag of Jeongguk’s cock makes him whimper, walls clenching around him and satisfied when the other falls over him, panting loudly as they finally reach their high together. Warmth fills him, and it’s been so long since he’s allowed anyone to have him like this, so raw and trusting but knowing it’s the first person he did allow...it’s like coming full circle.
Taehyung stares blearily up at him, breathing ragged but content, palms dropping from Jeongguk’s hair and nape where they pawed and tugged. They stay like this for a few minutes, Taehyung squirming when he feels Jeongguk soften inside of him, the other chuckling gingerly as he pulls out, apology on his tongue. But Taehyung doesn’t mind it, not really. He’s more smitten with the intensity of what they had just done.
And even more taken by the prospect of what it means.
“Do you think they mind that we didn’t show up?” Taehyung’s nestled against Jeongguk’s chest, the both of them up along the headboard of his bed, Jeongguk’s chin cradled over his head. They’re both wrapped messily in the sheets and comforter, too sated and loose-limbed to worry about dressing just yet. Once the ecstasy wore off, they found themselves shyly stealing glances at each other, Jeongguk using the time to remain silent as he wiped him down, taking extra care around his most intimate areas. Even the subtle touches of the towel felt tender, filled with intent and Taehyung, though appeased by their actions, realizes it’s time for the logic to filter back into the conversation.
And Jeongguk must sense this, gives him a look when Taehyung tilts his head onto his shoulder, eyes wide and wondering. Taehyung wants to go first, to tell him everything, even the parts that probably don’t make sense to even him but Jeongguk presses a kiss to his temple, effectively distracting him so he’s unable to speak up.
“Can I ask you something?”
Jeongguk keeps his lips there, a hint of a kiss but never quite touching again as he continues. “That thing you said earlier...in the field.” Taehyung looks up at him. “About this being a mistake.”
Taehyung could write an entire essay on how wrong that is. Not his wisest choice of words, but sue him, rekindling old flames are always cautioned against but his comment was not meant to birth doubt in the other. Truthfully, he feared more for his own heart when he said that. Like Jeongguk had mentioned earlier, this was frightening in its own right. Neither expected to see one another again, but here they are, conversing in fields of snow, kissing because their hearts dictate to do so, and reacquainting in intimacy because they both feel that crackle of affection become too much to harbor without being fully consumed by it.
He doesn’t regret it, but now he understands why Jimin urged him to reconsider impulsivity.
“Did you mean it?”
To Jeongguk’s credit and Taehyung’s surprise, the man doesn’t seem accusatory or even hurt. He just appears curious, maybe cautious but there’s no malice in his body language.
“Taehyung.” A voice sings through the door, the sound of a keycard being put in making them both jolt from the bed. Jeongguk nearly trips on the sheet around his foot, kicking it off clumsily and making haste to at least slip his pants back on. Any other time, Taehyung would’ve laughed at the sight, but he’s in the same boat as he grabs the complimentary robes the hotel offers.
“J-Jimin? Wait, I--”
But the door slides open, his friend not even sparing them a glance (fortunately) as he hums, clearly tipsy, making his way into the bathroom. He’s babbling about the orchestra, then something about Hoseok needing pep talks that his suit is perfect for tomorrow, but Taehyung is more worried about being caught in this compromising position and that’s not even mentioning the fact he couldn’t resolve Jeongguk’s question.
“Jeongguk.” He calls, noting the man is dressed now, buttons done up wrong but it’s better than being caught naked. “Wait.”
“It’s alright, Tae. I should go, actually. Early morning, right?”
“But, hold on. I--”
“Hey.” Jeongguk cups his cheek when he’s halfway out the door, thumb brushing under his eye in a soothing motion. “I don’t know what you feel, considering the last few days and..tonight,” He blushes a little, faint but endearing. “I like to think this isn’t just a mistake to you. And for what it’s worth…” He presses a kiss to his forehead, lingers there for a second and only pulling away when Jimin begins chatting louder. “It isn’t one to me.”
The entire scenario throws Taehyung off balance, his eyes blinking back even when Jeongguk begins walking down the hall, turning to look over his shoulder with a final smile. He’s so astonished by the confession, knowing Jeongguk wouldn’t say such a thing without truly meaning it. It’s strange, though, how Taehyung suspected they were hinting at unresolved longing this entire week, but hearing it voiced so sincerely left him speechless. Sense would tell him to rush after the other, to make sure he knew that this wasn’t a mistake to him either, but shock kept his feet planted on the hardwood floors of his room, palm still pressed against the door.
“Who was that?”
Taehyung doesn’t bother turning to look at Jimin, his eyes still checking down the hallway even though Jeongguk is long gone. He can faintly hear his friend ask why one of their beds is all messy, but his attention still sticks to where the other man was.
“You know how you told me not to be impulsive…?”
Taehyung turns to look at him finally, eyes saying all they need to because in the next moment he watches clarity shadow Jimin’s gaze, his head tilting towards the bed then back to Taehyung with a surprised ‘oh ’. “You--?”
“I probably should’ve spoken up, told him everything but I just missed him. So much.” He reluctantly closes the door, moving past his friend to pick up his clothes that still littered the floor. “I was going to, you know? I told myself I’d tell him tonight when we were in the bar, but he just--god.” Taehyung laughs, almost astounded at how easy it was to be taken under by the other. It truly was wondrous. How even the passion they once had together still burned brightly within them. “I needed him to know, and it felt so right…”
“Are you alright?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Well, he’s not here and you seem...conflicted.” Jimin begins undressing, keeping a watchful eye on Taehyung as he does so, blinking back the effects of whatever alcohol he consumed.
“I don’t regret sleeping with him, Jimin. I don’t think I ever could, to be honest. It felt right then, and it still does now. We’re adults, we can handle a little complication.” He smiles, beaming further when Jimin actually laughs. Besides, they’ve been through worse together, and if there’s one positive outlook on their separation it was how much they’ve learned to deal with. “I just wish I had told him that.”
“You still can, you know. There’s always tomorrow.”
“I’m not sure a friend’s wedding is the best place to profess one’s love.”
“I’m not saying interrupt their vows.” Jimin snorts. “Just talk to him, clear the air for good, let him know you’re all in, right? Again, when I said closure I didn’t mean to put your feelings to bed, literally.”
Taehyung rolls his eyes.
“My guess is, he’s dying to talk to you too. Given that I probably interrupted something now that I think about it.”
“You did.” Taehyung retorts, but his smile is gentle. “He told me,” Jeongguk’s words come back to him, making his heart flutter all over again. “He told me this wasn’t a mistake to him.”
“That’s good news, then!”
“I didn’t get a chance to say it wasn’t for me either.”
He feels the bed dip by him, Jimin leaning against his shoulder and giving his knee an affectionate squeeze. “Then you let him know tomorrow. There, we solved that.”
“What would I do without you pointing out the obvious to me?”
“Still pining after your ex.”
Taehyung gasps in offense, pushing him over with a laugh. “You need to stop talking now.” But it only makes Jimin laugh harder, the bubbly sound dying down as they resolve it into a comfortable silence.
“You really fell in love all over again, didn’t you?”
“Haven’t you noticed?” Taehyung sighs, falling back onto the mattress, eyes taking in the molding of the ceiling. “I never stopped.”
You got to take a chance on something sometime, Jeongguk.
He echoes that advice to himself, constantly and obsessively since last night. Frankly, he was reluctant to leave Taehyung’s side at all, wanted to spend the rest of the night holding him, if he’s honest. To have him that close, that intimately after so long...tearing himself away felt damn near impossible. He recognizes the visceral reaction he had, but to explain the magnitude of his yearning in words feels insufficient. Jeongguk wanted to speak all of this to Taehyung yesterday, had felt that burning inclination but so much more had taken over. His words became a violent passion instead, fueled by the concupiscent look in Taehyung’s eyes and it became the catalyst for a change in them both.
What is love, after all, if not the mixture of words and actions. Jeongguk could stutter an I love you , but his body could voice it in eager confidence. When he held Taehyung, kissed him roughly, he made sure he knew the intent behind it.
This time, he made good on making sure his happy ending was his choice. No pressure would be put on Taehyung, but he suspects the man feels much the same about him. Even without giving him a chance to answer last night, even with an interruption as well, Jeongguk looked past his own mistakes, as Namjoon had guided, and understood then that Taehyung trusted him. Enough to let him in, to touch him like he once did, and to kiss his love into those pliant lips.
And this time, before he left, he made sure to let Taehyung know that all of him did want this.
“You look good.”
Namjoon passes by the mirror, nodding his head like he approves of the groomsmen attire they both wear, a two piece grey suit with a sickly deep green tie (Hoseok’s doing) that he wanted to burn but kept that opinion to himself. “Thanks, so do you.” They both laugh at their twin suits, the opinion on the green tie going unsaid.
“Well, better hurry, best man can’t be late.”
“Trust me, I wouldn’t invoke Yoongi’s wrath like that.” Jeongguk finishes tightening his tie, placing on the silver clip to keep it situated before following Namjoon out of their hotel room, both getting into the elevator and exchanging ideas for their toasts.
A few minutes later, they’re entering the hall, Namjoon rushing over to Yoongi who seems unsurprisingly calm, though a closer look would show how his fingers twitch at his sides. Jeongguk decides to hang back for a bit, gazing about the guests filtering in and the other groomsmen. Jin is already standing by the altar, pulling Namjoon behind him with a scolding look, as if they’re in danger of being late even with them all standing right here.
“Well,” Jeongguk sighs, eyes landing on Taehyung who unsurprisingly pulls off that ugly green tie. “Here goes nothing…”
When it came to tough decisions, Jeongguk left it up to fate, maybe whispering a soft prayer to whatever powers may be to let destiny work in his favor.
He doesn’t do that today.
Instead, he walks over to the altar, keeping his eyes on Taehyung who looks up from fixing his tie clip, eyes widening for a split second before he gives a shy smile in greeting. It’s endearing, heart fluttering really, and Jeongguk does his best to listen with full attention when the grooms usher them to their places, the officiant already set in his spot. He double checks his pocket for the velvet box holding the ring, nodding to himself when he feels it safe there. He may be more inclined to keeping his view on Taehyung, but he would never screw over the entire purpose of this trip, or the happiness of his friends.
“Welcome friends, family and loved ones,” The officiant speaks up, smiling fondly at the grooms who fidget with excitement. “You join us today to unite Yoongi and Hoseok in celebration of their love.”
Jeongguk smiles to himself, momentarily looking to the couple, who are more deserving of this moment than anyone else he knew.
“If you have traveled far to be here with them on their special day, it is beyond appreciated and know that if it has been long since you’ve seen each other, then remember it is love that has brought you here today and no amount of time between friends can lessen the love we feel.”
Appropriate , Jeongguk thinks, once more taking his attention to Taehyung, who already has his eyes on him, thoughtful and lively, every inch the gaze he remembers from before. It was unlikely he would forget it, but seeing it again in all it’s unfiltered emotion makes him swallow down hard, the urge to push past the grooms and get to the otherside beating through his veins. But Jeongguk battles that yearning down, saves the compulsion for when this is over and he’s free to speak his truth to Taehyung.
“We’ve come to the part of the ceremony where you recite your vows to one another, I assume you’ve written your own?”
Both grooms nod, Hoseok going first as he pulls the paper from his shirt pocket, trembling so badly he laughs when he can barely read his writing. “No matter.” He says, wiping a tear. “I got the gist of what I wanted to say.” Yoongi laughs at that, reaching over to hold his hand as he goes on. It’s a multitude of inside jokes, heartfelt promises and endless compliments that make Yoongi blush, trying to hide his elated shyness by giving that gummy smile.
By the time it’s Yoongi’s turn, there’s not many dry eyes in the room, and when Jeongguk looks to Taehyung he sees the way his eyes shimmer, unshed tears collecting on his lashes. He wants to reach over and brush them away, but then Yoongi begins to speak, voice cracked and for some reason...that hits Jeongguk rather hard.
“I’m not good at this.” Yoongi is quick to address, gaining some laughs from the guests and his soon to be husband. “Funny when you think about it. I can produce a million songs, write a hundred lyrics but when it comes to you I’m left speechless.” He lets out a shaky breath, Jeongguk gently touching his shoulder in support, smiling when he feels him relax. “Maybe it’s because I can’t think of even a single word that could do you justice.”
Yes, that’s always the difficult part, Jeongguk muses. When you love someone, really love them, words fall short. It’s a feeling that goes beyond the creation of language itself, too intense to be chained down by a single syllable. You can say I love you a million times but you do that because it’ll still never be enough to express it.
“You see, when I first saw you I knew I wanted you to be the one.”
Jeongguk feels his breath stop, eyes moving to Taehyung who stares back at him, tears now falling freely down his cheeks but he remains perfectly poised.
“Even if I told myself you wouldn’t look twice at me.” Yoongi chuckles. “I decided screw that, I was going to make it happen.”
Taehyung’s lips part so delicately, and Jeongguk finds he rather likes the way he looks now. Though his tears pain him to see, they make him so consciously aware of the way Taehyung’s always been transparent. A shame he seemed to forget that Sunday, but then again, the past is forgiven. Today he will take notice of this.
Today he doesn’t look away, even as his own eyes mist over.
“And then you gave me a chance to do just that.” Yoongi smiles, big, jovial and Hoseok beams back at him. “So forgive me for this being short, but if there are any words I can say to sum up how I feel towards you, then I will simply say,” He swallows down the sob, taking hold of Hoseok’s hands and Jeongguk feels his bottom lip tremble, teeth tugging it harshly to keep his own tears at bay. “Thank you.”
For loving me.
For supporting me.
For giving me a chance…
Jeongguk’s teeth slip from his lip, the proverbial gate barreling down when tears begin to fall of their own free will. He has his eyes on Taehyung, completely, and even as Yoongi turns to him for the ring, which he robotically provides, he never lets his stare falter.
And Taehyung, dear, gentle, loving Taehyung...he stares right back.
And even as people clap and the husbands seal their celebration in a kiss, their eyes never leave each other.
It’s a swarm of hugs, pats on the back, endless congratulations and Jeongguk pulls Yoongi into a deep, warm embrace hoping it’s enough to prove he’s happy for him, and when Yoongi smiles, big and profound, his friend still takes the time to whisper in his ear, “Go make destiny happen.”
Jeongguk knows he laughs wildly at that, more tears falling because there’s too much for his own heart to contain. He separates from the group, watching them flood into the reception area, all smiles and unrestrained excitement. But he doesn’t follow.
Taehyung rises on the ball of his shoes, peering over the crowd and blinking when the tears begin to dry uncomfortably. He knows his attention should be on the grooms, but his thoughts only settle on one person, and so his body follows that pursuit. Seeks out that presence like a magnet, and only when Hoseok looks over at him does he give a guilty smile.
“If you’re about to apologize, I might actually toss you from the hall.” Hoseok laughs, pulling him into a tight hug that Taehyung relaxes into. “You know I support you, Tae. I may not know everything, but I do know love and I would never stop anyone, especially my friends, from having it. So, go.” He nods towards the hallway, where Taehyung thinks he saw Jeongguk disappear through. “Before I drag you out there myself.”
Taehyung sobs out a giggle, wiping his tears with the back of his hand before wishing him well one more time. He turns back to the wedding party at the exit, smiling when he sees Jin, Namjoon and Jimin dancing already, champagne glasses in hand and surprisingly unspilled.
Looking at them now, he thinks they’ll be fine if he runs off for a bit.
Jeongguk stares at the fountain in the middle of the hotel garden, just past the reception hall, but devoid of laughter, dancing and music. Though he can hear the bass muffled through the walls. He wasn’t running, not really, and so it comes as no shock to him when he hears footsteps approaching, the soft beat familiar in their stride. It’s a small detail, but important all the same, because it’s the same one that walked away from him three years ago.
The very one he will never let go of again.
“Do you remember when we were friends, and you used to surprise me on campus by running over and jumping onto my back?” He doesn’t get an answer, but he knows Taehyung is listening. “There was one time you did that, it was in September, actually...I remember because it was barely getting cold and I was putting on my scarf but then you surprised me and I fell flat on my face.” The memory serves to make him laugh, tears brimming his eyes once again. “When I think about it, I realize that moment pretty much sums up how you make me feel.”
He turns around to find Taehyung staring at him, eyes red, puffy from crying but he’s smiling now, beautiful and always perfect.
“You came into my life for the first time so long ago and knocked me off my feet, Taehyung. And then,” Jeongguk steps closer, smiling when Taehyung does the same. “Years later you do the exact same thing. Jumping into my life, knocking me off my feet and making me realize--”
“I love you.” Taehyung blurts out, effectively shutting Jeongguk up and it’s worth it to see how Jeongguk’s eyes widen. “I mean, that is to say...I never stopped.” Taehyung chews on his lip, trying not to get distracted by the way Jeongguk stares at him. “Loving you, I mean. I tried, to be fair, but I failed so miserably.” He laughs. “No one was ever you, Jeongguk. No one will ever be you.”
The distance between them fades, Jeongguk reaching out to cup his cheek, and Taehyung leans into the touch.
“So, no...don’t you dare think I believe this is a mistake.” He closes his eyes when a thumb strokes along his skin, eyes falling closed with how warm Jeongguk’s touch is. “Because no part of you in my life could ever be one. All this time I missed you, and in this last week I realized that in all these years without you, my love didn’t wane...not even a little. In fact,” He kisses the corner of Jeongguk’s wrist, breathing shallow as he allows the very being of this man to seep into his skin. “My love for you only grew deeper.”
Another palm cradles his other cheek, and Taehyung is so caught up in Jeongguk’s eyes he barely comprehends how the other man pulls him in, gingerly silencing him, the sweet press of his lips tame against all their warring emotions.
And Jeongguk smiles into it, honest and relieved when Taehyung parts his lips, slotting them together in a fiercer action, conveying so much in a single gesture it takes their breath away. He only peels himself away when he’s satisfied Taehyung can’t speak, too dazed by the moment and it’s just enough to make Jeongguk chuckle. “I never stopped loving you, either. Believe me. You were my one, Taehyung. From the first time I saw you in stats, to the first time you told me you loved me...up on that bridge. I’ve been gone for you forever and when we broke up, I lost it. I didn’t understand how someone so right for me, someone so perfect, wasn’t meant for me.” He kisses him again, closing his eyes so tightly it almost hurts. “I questioned it nearly every day, but I questioned myself even more. I was an idiot to let you go, Taehyung…but if there’s one thing I’ve come to accept this week, it’s that it doesn’t matter anymore.”
“Shh, sweetheart.” They lean into each other, eyes closed and arms wrapped around each other. “It doesn’t matter what happened then, doesn’t matter what happened in these three years, who we were with, where we were at...All that matters, is that we’re here now.” They both glance up when the music seems to grow louder through the walls, both laughing hysterically when last night comes to mind. Only this time they don’t give into the feeling, the raw side of their emotions. This time they let their words do the talking. “I’m with you now.” Jeongguk sighs, taking one hand in his, the soft melody muffled but moving as he begins to sway them to the music. “And I will never let you go again.”
Taehyung presses closer if that’s even possible, head resting along Jeongguk’s shoulder as they dance to their own company. He can hear his heartbeat, growing stronger the more they sway, and it’s soothing, melodic to Taehyung. For three years he wondered if he’d ever have this again, and some nights he’d even dare to dream of it. Dreams where Jeongguk whispers I love you in his ear, holds him close because he didn’t want to let go.
None of those dreams compare to reality, and for once Taehyung is happy for that.
“If you’ll have me, that is.”
How long he’s waited to hear that…
“Silly.” Taehyung kisses him, slowly, with the express intent of stealing his breath. “I’d have said yes back then, and I’m saying yes now. You have me, Gukkie. Always have, always will.”
They separate, just enough to gaze into each other, for Jeongguk to lean in and kiss him, for Taehyung to reciprocate it. For one final second in that garden they think of running outside and into that field, to share one of the last days in Norway being each others. But they laugh at that idea, knowing now it doesn’t matter because when they leave here, they’ll have all the time in the world to be together again. So, Jeongguk takes his hand and leads him down the hall, turning to smile at him as he pushes the reception doors open, and they’re swallowed by the crowd.
Later, when Jeongguk is thwarting off hugs and relieved sighs from his friends, he stops to think how sometimes life just works out like this. You know, the blindingly obvious way you can love someone and they’re just so irrevocably yours. Jeongguk thinks that must be true, because how can he deny that feeling that bubbles up inside him, when he has Taehyung in his arms again, when those expressive eyes sparkle back at him in the most dramatically poetic fashion...bathing Jeongguk in a shine that seems far too romanticized to not be considered fate.
Or those moments when he can tuck a strand of platinum hair behind cute ears, when he can look down at those plush lips and steal a kiss.
Taehyung was made for him, and Jeongguk for him in return. So, how can he deny that fate played a role here?
“I can’t wait to be back home.”
Looking at Taehyung now, who leans so languidly into him, a sweet chime of a giggle on his lips as he talks about moving back to Seoul, Jeongguk begins to understand the answer to his lifelong dilemma.
Destiny or What if?
Fate brought Taehyung into his life, but choice made him recognize it.
In the end, if you asked him, Jeongguk would simply smile and answer with, “What if you’re just destined to love one person.”