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wish you were sober

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Taehyung wakes with a start. There is an obnoxious buzzing sound coming from his bedside table. Being the heavy sleeper that he is, once upon a time the noise wouldn't have registered as his phone inching its way towards its death on the hardwood floor as quickly as it does now. It used to take him much longer to open his eyes, the comfort of sleep keeping a firm grip on him for as long as possible.

 

Now though, he is surprised whenever he falls asleep before his phone goes off. Eyes barely open, he reaches for his phone and answers without looking at the caller ID. On a Saturday night, there really is only one option for the cause of the phone call anyway.

 

“'lo?” he says and clears his throat, voice breaking from lack of use. 

 

“Taehyungie?” Yoongi's voice is barely audible over the sound of the bass thumping in the background.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Can you come? He won't stop asking for you.”

 

Taehyung can hear the hesitation in Yoongi's voice, knows that he tried his best to avoid this situation. But it isn't his fault that every week like clockwork they ended up here. It's not like Taehyung went to bed expecting a full night of sleep. Snuggling up with his laptop he knew that inevitably he'd peel himself out of bed at some ridiculous hour in the middle of the night, often bordering on early morning.

 

“Yeah. Gimme 15 minutes,” he says, feeling his spine crack as he sits up and stretches his back.

 

“Thank you.” And although it's hard to make out over the volume in the background, Taehyung can hear the relief in Yoongi's voice. “I didn't want to call you but, well, you know how he gets when he drinks and I tried to convince him to let me drop him off but-”

 

“Hyung, it's fine. I promise. I'll be right there. See you in a bit.”

 

“Who are you talking to? Is that Taehyungie? Can I talk to him?” is the last thing he hears before Yoongi hangs up on him. He’d recognize that voice anywhere and Taehyung knows Yoongi is most likely occupied trying to keep track of a very intoxicated Jimin.

 

Taehyung swings his legs off the bed, and perched on the edge he sighs, switching on his lamp, his eyes struggling to adjust to the light. It occurs to him how predictable he has become when he spots his coat thrown over the end of his bed and his shoes on the floor right next to it as if they've been waiting to be slipped on this entire time. The state of his room, the way he never fully gets ready for bed on a Saturday night, it all almost seems to be taunting him. 

 

Because while he was tucked in comfortably, catching up on some show that he didn't have time for during his busy weekly schedule, Jimin was somewhere across campus, letting loose and getting drunk. And every single week without fail he would get a phone call in the middle of the night, asking him to pick Jimin up. As his best friend and roommate, Taehyung can't help but worry, likes to know that Jimin makes it home safe in one piece. So while it steals precious hours of sleep, he doesn't actually mind being woken up in the middle of the night if it’s for a good reason like this.

 

Sometimes it was Jimin himself who called, usually after blowing up Taehyung's phone with barely legible text messages. On those days, while he was throwing on his coat, he'd scroll through his notifications.

 

[Jimin 03:24]:

 

whre are yuo

 

i miss youz

 

its no fnu witho ut yuo

 

Those nights usually didn't turn out to be that bad. When Jimin was sober enough to call him, they often ended up at a late-night diner or sometimes, after a really long night, even got breakfast together. While they were eating waffles and pancakes Jimin would slowly sober up and by the time they got home, they were both ready to crash. The following day was spent in bed, more often than not the same one. They would continue whatever show Taehyung had been falling asleep to the night before while drifting in and out of consciousness.

 

Other nights Jimin was not able to make the phone call himself. Too intoxicated, he drove their mutual friends crazy as soon as he started whining about Taehyung not being around. According to them, there was no way of getting him to shut up unless they promised to call Taehyung. Once, Jungkook had tried to refuse him but within seconds Jimin was pouting, and to Jungkook's horror started tearing up. And so, 30 minutes later Taehyung found himself walking into an overcrowded dormitory, stepping over plastic cups and people on the floor, trying to find his best friend.

 

Those nights were not as much fun. Those nights usually ended with Jimin yelling as soon as he spotted Taehyung, throwing his arms around him and clinging to him like a koala all the way home. More often than not Taehyung had to help him get ready for bed, only for Jimin to slip into Taehyung's bed instead, asking to be held, pretty please. And well, he was sure nobody could say no to a sleepy, pouty Jimin.

 

Those nights always ended up breaking Taehyung's heart.

 

Because while Taehyung never had a problem taking care of his friends and didn't even care about the lost hours of sleep, a drunk Jimin turned out to be a huge problem for him. 

 

Drunk Jimin wasn't that different from sober Jimin. Jimin in any state was affectionate and kind and had a heart of gold. He was able to light up the entire room, would end up giving anyone his undivided attention if necessary, while also stealing the show for himself sometimes. It turns out that drunk Jimin was all those things too, just intensified. Or at least that's what it felt like to Taehyung.

 

When they both first started going to university and attending their first parties, he didn't think much of it. He loved seeing Jimin have fun, loved when he let go of the stress and pressure he so often put on himself. Jimin was his best friend, so naturally, he only wanted what was best for him. And besides, it wasn’t like Taehyung didn’t enjoy going out with Jimin for purely selfish reasons either. They always had a good time together, making memories along the way; all of them becoming some of Taehyung’s most cherished ones.

 

So if that came with a few more hugs, a lot more of Jimin throwing himself into Taehyung's open arms while shaking with laughter and late-night snuggles, then Taehyung honestly did not see any downsides. Those were all things they did anyway.

 

All of those things only became a problem when Taehyung realized his not so platonic feelings for Jimin. 

 

It hit him like a truck. They were just watching a movie on a quiet Sunday night after a party when Jimin placed his head on Taehyung's shoulder. Jimin had been exhausted, both from the party and working hard for an upcoming dance recital. It was natural for both of them to seek each other out when they were feeling low, nothing being able to cure their pain better than a snuggle with their best friend. But the way Jimin scrunched his nose and snuggled into the small space between Taehyung's shoulder and neck had never made his heart ache before. It never made Taehyung want to pull Jimin in closer, so close that no space would remain between them. It never made him want to kiss Jimin before.

 

Everything felt charged and it only got worse from there. Suddenly, every interaction seemed more intense, as if someone lit their friendship on fire. It was all-consuming, and moments that seemed ordinary before suddenly brought on a spiral of conflicting thoughts for Taehyung. There was a dreaded sense of guilt creeping up Taehyung's spine whenever he would get to hold Jimin close, tainting all the beautiful moments he had enjoyed so much in the past. He knew that Jimin loved skinship as much as he did but it felt almost forbidden to indulge in those moments without Jimin being aware of the depth of Taehyung's feelings.

 

But confessing and possibly ruining their friendship felt even more impossible. The thought alone made Taehyung panic as if the air was punched out of his lungs. It wasn't that he thought Jimin would be horrible about it. He was sure Jimin would be kind, trying to let him down easy. But maybe that felt even worse. The thought of having Jimin tiptoe around him, telling Taehyung he's sorry but just doesn't feel the same, that he loves him just in a different shade, felt unbearable. Taehyung is sure that giving Jimin the power to break Taehyung's heart would break Jimin's own in return. 

 

So he keeps things to himself and tries to carry on as naturally as possible. Although going to parties and subjecting himself to clingy Jimin while he's been drinking himself quickly turned out too big of a temptation, staying home and picking Jimin up instead seems to have become the new normal.

 

After throwing on his coat over his hoodie and slipping into his boots, Taehyung finally makes it out the door. The air is cold, to the point where Taehyung can see his breath, and part of him considers going back to the dorm to grab an extra jacket for Jimin. Knowing him, he probably did not prepare for the chilly November weather, and Taehyung isn't sure if he can deal with a freezing Jimin on top of an overall clingy one tonight. Realistically though, he knows he'll suffer through the rest of the night anyway, so he might as well release his friends from taking care of Jimin. Not that any of them have ever complained. Jimin is loved and cherished by all of them, he just tends to get very frustrated when he doesn't get his way sometimes. And if he's asking for Taehyung, the only way to get him to calm down is by giving him exactly what he wants. 

 

So instead of turning around, Taehyung shoves his hands deeper into his pockets and makes his way across campus. It's not hard to find the right place where students are hosting tonight. Although hosting might be too much of a stretch, when college parties usually ended up with just about anyone attending and bringing their own booze. All he has to do is follow the pulsing of the beat that can be felt from what feels like the other side of campus. 

 

Pushing the door open, Taehyung is immediately greeted by many faces, familiar and unfamiliar alike. He nods his head in acknowledgment to a few people from his classes, the sounds of a few people yelling “Taehyung-ah, didn't expect to see you tonight!” barely audible over the volume of the music. He refuses to stop though, his mind set on finding Jimin and getting the hell out of there as soon as possible. He may not mind taking care of Jimin and picking him up, but the minute he gets up he starts missing the comfort of his bed.

 

The downside of these parties is that they always turn into a mess. And that's hard to enjoy when you're an outsider and not one of the partying crowd. Letting his gaze run over the people he encounters on his way through the dorm, Taehyung is getting impatient.

 

“Come on, Jimin-ah, where are you?” he says to himself.

 

As if summoned, a second later something - or rather someone - barrels into his chest, punching a soft oof out of him. Instinctively, he reaches out to steady them both.

 

“Taehyungie! You're here!” Jimin yells. 

 

Taehyung hates the way his heart skips a beat at the sound of genuine happiness in Jimin's voice and the way he tackles him in a hug. Still, he can't resist slipping his hands all the way around Jimin's waist and rocks them back and forth slightly.

 

“Hey, you okay?”

 

Jimin leans back and beams at him, “Am now.”

 

Taehyung tries not to read into that. Jimin wanted to see his best friend and he's here now. Nothing more, nothing less. Regardless, he feels some tension slipping out of his shoulders, and smiling softly. Jimin's smile has always been too infectious.

 

“Alright, let's get you home then.”

 

Shooting a quick text to Yoongi that he found Jimin and is taking him home now, they quickly grab Jimin's jacket and make their way out back into the cold night air. 

 

Luckily, Jimin seems to be sober enough to walk on his own. Not that he wouldn't have, but Taehyung is glad that this is not shaping up to be one of those nights where he practically has to carry Jimin home. Instead, he just slips one hand into Taehyung's and clings to his arm with his other one. Bouncing along next to him, he tells Taehyung all about the newest gossip from the party.

 

“And you should've seen Hobi-hyung, Taetae, he almost slipped on the dancefloor, it was hilarious.”

 

Once upon a time, Taehyung would have been right there to laugh alongside Jimin. He has not always avoided going out with Jimin, hasn’t always been the walking version of a designated driver his entire college career. He probably still would be going out with Jimin, if it wasn’t for that one party five months ago, when temptation called Taehyung a little too persistently. At first, everything was normal; they got ready together, met up with their friends, and had a couple of drinks along the way. It was the end of the year party, and things quickly escalated. Taehyung ended up drinking more than he should have and having just realized the depth of his feelings, it suddenly felt a lot harder to resist when Jimin was pressed up against him on the dancefloor.

 

To this day he isn’t sure if the hunger in Jimin’s eyes was a figment of his imagination, or if it was actually real. He doesn’t know which possibility is scarier. In any case, the way their lips had hovered just inches away from each other, foreheads pressed together, made him panic. The next time a party rolled around, Taehyung refused to go along, coming up with a weak excuse. He didn’t want to put himself in that position again, wasn’t sure how long he’d be able to actually refrain from kissing Jimin. Part of him missed going out to parties, but the possibility of being nothing but a hookup to Jimin and making things awkward between them wasn’t worth it. So he kept declining invitations until at some point Jimin stopped bothering to ask. Something had shifted between them on the first day Jimin left the room without inviting Taehyung along but apparently he was still in the back of Jimin’s mind because a few hours later, Taehyung's phone was buzzing with notifications to please pick him up. And so a new normal was born.

 

Walking across the mostly empty campus, Jimin can't stop giggling, the leftover excitement buzzing in his veins, and Taehyung catches himself smiling along. He's so fond. There is something innocent about Jimin in this state when he's just high on life. Taehyung thinks he probably never shines brighter than when he's completely relaxed like this, not having a single worry in the world. There’s something incredibly sweet about the idea that Jimin reaches for him even in this state, that he feels safe and protected.

 

“You had a good time then?” Taehyung asks.

 

“Yeah,” Jimin says and squeezes his hand. “Missed you, though.”

 

They finally reach their building and Taehyung uses unlocking the door as an excuse to let go of Jimin's hand and turn away for a second. Just to calm down the ache that bubbles up whenever it becomes obvious that something between them has shifted.

 

He gets it. He misses Jimin, too. And Jimin has never been afraid to tell him what's on his mind, even less so when there's alcohol running through his system. Still, whenever Jimin tells him he misses him, he can't help but feel like shit. He knows Jimin like the back of his hand, can tell Jimin is hurting and trying not to let it show. And he hates himself for being the reason why. 

 

Pushing the door open, he lets Jimin enter first if only to make sure he can lock the door behind them. His bedside lamp is still turned on, a precaution he has learned to take very early on, so tipsy Jimin has a chance to get from A to B without injuring himself whenever they finally get home.

 

He's still not looking at Jimin, tries to draw out the moment of the night when things inevitably get a little awkward. With how hectic both their schedules are, the weekends have always been for them. Now, though, something had changed and every time Taehyung picks Jimin up from a party, he realizes that this is probably the most time they spend together at this point. 

 

He turns around, takes off his coat, and reaches up to put it on its designated hook next to the door, only to stop in mid-air. Jimin is sitting on his bed, curled into himself. He looks impossibly small, so far away from the larger than life version of himself he had been just a few minutes ago.

 

“Taehyungie?” he asks, so quietly that Taehyung would have doubted he said anything if he hadn't seen his lips move.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Can I ask you something?”

 

“Of course,” Taehyung answers immediately. He's tempted to reach up and rub his neck, a nervous habit he's never been able to shake. Jimin asking questions in a situation like this can't be a good sign. And Taehyung is not sure he's ready to have any important conversations right now.

 

“Are you mad at me?”

 

Taehyung tilts his head and answers, “I'm not mad at you.”

 

Jimin nods but he's fidgeting, and Taehyung knows he's only gathering his thoughts, not ready to let this go just yet. He's avoiding Taehyung's eyes, playing with the blanket he's sitting on. Taehyung turns around to finally hang up his coat, giving Jimin a short moment to himself. 

 

“Then how come you are avoiding me?”

 

“I'm not,” Taehyung says a little too fast. It's a lie. They both know it.

 

“Please don't lie to me, Taehyung. That's even worse than not knowing what I did and not knowing how to fix it.”

 

He's still avoiding looking at Taehyung, now pulling his sleeves over his hands. It seems like he's shrinking even further with every single word as if speaking is physically hurting him.

 

“There's nothing to fix, Jimin-ah. Can we drop this? I promise I'm not mad at you.” Taehyung can tell that the sound of his voice is too harsh but he can't stop himself. He knows he should walk across the room, the few meters between them feeling too much like the barrier that has been slowly creeping up between them in these past months, but he's rooted in place.

 

“You are,” Jimin voice cracks, eyes finally snapping up to meet Taehyung's. “You don't like me anymore.”

 

“Of course, I like you, what the hell? You're my best friend.”

 

“Am I though?”

 

And to Taehyung's horror, tears are starting to rise in Jimin's eyes. 

 

Yes, Jimin. You're my best friend. Nothing could ever change that.”

 

And when Jimin lets out a full-on sob, Taehyung can tell that he's finally unraveling. He's cracking from trying to hold on for so long, trying to pretend nothing is wrong. Jimin has always been good like that, adjusting to Taehyung's moods, never pushing him when he needed time to figure things out. He just rolled with it, trying his best to be supportive of Taehyung. He learned how to adapt to the space he could take up in Taehyung's life. It was never that the size of that space changed. Sometimes, though, it changed its shape, depending on whatever Taehyung needed at the time. Jimin seemed to read him easily, like an open book. 

 

Taehyung's best guess is that this is exactly what he tried to do this time as well. He let Taehyung put a certain distance between them, maybe confused but always supportive of whatever Taehyung needed. He never had anything to worry about before, the two of them always falling back into the same rhythm at some point. So he let things go on for a while, only to find that when he tried to open the book once more, it was written in a language he couldn't understand.

 

The sight of Jimin being so torn up makes Taehyung’s heart feel like it’s shattering into a million tiny pieces. They have jagged edges, puncturing his lungs, and suddenly he feels dizzy as if he’s the one who’s been drinking all night. He can’t explain himself, not like this, not when Jimin is still not sober enough to have a proper conversation. He knows his best bet is trying to get him to calm down and get him to sleep, leave the problem for another day, even though he knows he can kiss the idea of going back to sleep himself goodbye. There is no way he will be able to rest when he knows he’s causing Jimin this much pain. It had been easy to ignore up until now.

 

In an attempt to soothe him, he finally takes a step towards Jimin.

 

“Jimin-ah,” he starts, before he’s interrupted.

 

“Then why don't you like being around me anymore? If I’m your best friend then why is this the most time we’ve spent together this entire last month?”

 

By now, the tears are coming down in a continuous stream and Jimin has a hard time trying to keep up with wiping them away. He looks angry and there’s snot running down his nose. It should be gross, but all Taehyung wants to do right now is fix this.

 

“I do like being around you Jimin, I told you, you didn’t do anything wrong.”

 

He sighs.

 

“Look, can we just talk about this tomorrow? I get that you’re upset but this clearly isn’t a good time to talk.”

 

He’s trying to keep his voice calm so he doesn’t agitate Jimin even further but he can practically taste the desperation on the tip of his own tongue.

 

Something dangerous flickers in Jimin's eyes, and Taehyung tries to brace himself for the storm that's about to come. While Jimin has the patience of an angel, especially for Taehyung, he lashes out when he's hurt. And Taehyung knows he's been pushed too far. 

 

“Well it seems like lately you don't want to talk to me at all, so forgive me if I don't feel like waiting around for something that's never going to happen.”

 

The sound of his voice feels like acid, and what's worse is that Taehyung can't even blame him. He is completely justified in his frustration. Taehyung hasn't been a very good friend to him lately. Part of him feels like he deserves everything Jimin is throwing at him right now.

 

“You just like to take the easy way out. If it was up to you we are probably just going to pretend everything is normal when it hasn’t been normal for months now. And then we’re gonna get to a point where we’ll move out and not even say a single word to each other, and you’ll pretend like nothing is wrong and I’ll pretend like I’m not missing you every single day. Maybe that's something you can live with, but I can't. Sorry for giving a shit, I guess.”

 

The words rush out of Jimin, and by the time he is finished, he's deflated like a balloon. He seems a lot more sober by now and it makes Taehyung wonder how drunk he was to begin with. The tears are back and running down his cheeks. Bitter, silent tears that he doesn't even bother brushing away anymore and somehow that makes everything worse.

 

“That's not fair, Jimin-ah,” Taehyung croaks out.

 

“Yeah well, neither is lying to your best friend but here we are.”

 

“I'm not lying to you when I tell you you didn't do anything wrong and that I'm not mad at you.”

 

Jimin takes a deep breath and finally stands up to grab his sweatpants at the end of his bed.

 

“Look, maybe you're not mad but things have changed. At first, I thought you just had something on your mind and needed some time to figure it out, that you'd come and talk to me whenever you were ready. But then you never did. So now here we are, having one conversation at 4 am every Sunday morning. And clearly you're okay with it. Which… fine, you do you. But you could have just told me you were sick of me instead of trying to ghost me. I honestly thought I meant more to you than that.”

 

You do, Taehyung thinks. And he knows that's all he needs to say. Jimin deserves to be told how loved and appreciated he is, by everyone but especially by him. He deserves to hear about how much his smile makes every day brighter for Taehyung, how the sound of his laughter is the inspiration behind the melodies Taehyung plays on his violin. He deserves to have his tears brushed away and to be held tight until everything doesn't feel so heavy anymore. The words are on the tip of his tongue, but they never make it past his lips. So he just stands there with his mouth open, chest heaving, fists balled up by his side.

 

He can practically see the last glimmer of hope leaving Jimin's eyes as he waits for a reply.

 

“I'm tired. I'm just gonna go to bed.”

 

And with that, Jimin pushes past him to their little bathroom. 

 

Taehyung finally slips out of his shoes and flops down on his bed, tension leaving his body. 

 

Shit. 

 

He wishes the acoustic in the bathroom wasn't so echoey because the amplified sound of Jimin's sniffles does nothing to soothe Taehyung's broken heart. If anything, it makes everything worse. 

 

You could have just told me you were sick of me.

 

The words bounce around in the empty room. If only Jimin knew how Taehyung was absolutely not sick of him. If only he knew how much Taehyung has been struggling without him lately, how every day seemed to get harder. The nights when he picked Jimin up were some of his best, despite being some of the hardest as well. It's not like Taehyung actually enjoyed having his sleeping patterns brutally destroyed, but Jimin always makes it worth it. Jimin makes everything worth it. He'd do just about anything for him. Even if that meant keeping his distance. At least until he controls his feelings, until he has a good enough grasp on them to not risk having them spill out at the mere sight of Jimin's smile.

 

He never meant to hurt Jimin in the process, but then again he never meant to fall in love in the first place. Because here he is, months after his first realization, and despite keeping his distance, despite all the safety measures he tried to take, it still feels like a crash landing. 

 

It seems like it was all for nothing. He's still desperately in love. The only difference is that now Jimin probably won't want him to take care of him after his nights out, taking away the only opportunity of shameless contact Taehyung has allowed himself to keep. It felt safest to be around Jimin when he wasn't analyzing the look in Taehyung's eyes. Neither of them addressing the awkwardness and distance between them, it almost felt natural, as if nothing had happened in the first place. It was bound to blow up in his face at some point.

 

Taehyung isn’t sure how much time has passed when the bathroom door creaks open. Jimin's eyes, now void of any makeup, are red, and there is a flush on his cheeks. If he didn't know better, Taehyung might have been able to fool himself that the reason for the color in Jimin's cheeks was a happy one. But he knows better, having held Jimin through many breakdowns over the years, and has seen the way his cheeks turn red from crying.

 

Jimin doesn't say a single word as he dumps his worn clothes over the back of his desk chair and crawls underneath his covers facing the wall. It's not like Taehyung expected anything different, but the way Jimin won't even look at him or wish him goodnight stings either way. 

 

Still, he whispers, “Goodnight, Jimin-ah,” gets back under his own covers, a tiny bit of warmth remaining from when he left his bed earlier that night. 

 

He can see the sky slowly brightening outside, bathing the room in a dark purple. As he shuffles around to pull his phone out of his hoodie and plug it in to charge, the room lights up for one more moment.

 

He's got a new notification.

 

[Yoongi-hyung 04:17]:

 

Sorry, lost him in the crowd. That kid has too much energy. Thank you!! Take care of him, be safe.

 

Taehyung struggles to swallow past the lump in his throat. A great job he did at taking care of Jimin. He should have taken him home, made him drink some water, tucked him in like he's done countless nights before. Instead, he made him cry, made him so angry that he was saying things Taehyung knew he'd rip himself to shreds for in the morning. 

 

Up until now, the only heartache Taehyung felt when he slipped back under the covers after taking care of Jimin was created by the thoughts of what he wanted and couldn't have. The nights were laced with a taste of what being with Jimin could really be like.

 

He knows he is acting like a boyfriend whenever he looks after Jimin. He also knows that it doesn't mean the same to Jimin. Still, it was the closest thing he had, and it was bittersweet torture to have Jimin drape himself all over him. Especially on the nights they ended up sharing a bed.

 

Now, though, the pain feels different. There is nothing sweet about it. No sound of Jimin's giggles echoing through the room, no soft whispers of thank you for coming to get me and definitely no small hands playing with his hair. There is nothing to soothe the pain as his heart throbs in his chest, feeling so heavy as if it might leave his ribcage at any second.

 

The possibility of never getting another chance of that makes his head spin, and though Jimin is the one who's been drinking all night, Taehyung suddenly feels like he's the one who's going to be sick. 

 

He doesn't want to cry, doesn't want Jimin to hear him, and make him feel even worse. He might be giving Taehyung the cold shoulder, but if he knew Taehyung was suffering, he'd still drop everything in a heartbeat, Taehyung is sure of it. 

 

So he just rolls over towards the wall, pulls the covers over his head, and tries to control his breathing as a single tear rolls down onto his pillow. 

 


 

Though he thought it impossible, Taehyung must have passed out at some point because the next time he opens his eyes the room is flooded with sunlight. Immediately he starts replaying the fight he had with Jimin from the night before. He reaches behind him for his phone, not ready to turn around yet to check if Jimin is still around or if he's fled the room so he doesn't have to be around Taehyung anymore.

 

10:21 am. 

 

He takes a deep breath, tries to brace himself, and finally sits up. As he looks across the room, he feels a pang in his chest. Jimin seems to be asleep still, but he's turned towards the wall. It seems silly to be so hung up on something so small but Taehyung could swear there was an invisible thread between them that would have them wake up facing each other in the morning, even when they weren’t sharing the same bed. The fact that Jimin looked exactly like he did when he fell asleep doesn't feel like a good sign.

 

He still holds tension in his shoulders, as if he's subconsciously guarding himself, and the thought that Jimin might feel the need to protect himself from Taehyung makes it hard to breathe. The covers have found their way to the bottom of his bed at some point in the night, and his skin is covered in goosebumps. It makes Taehyung want to hold him close until he's warm again, but he knows that's a privilege he doesn't hold right now. Despite that, he still wants to take care of Jimin as much as he can. So he gets up, grabs a glass of water and some painkillers, leaving them on Jimin’s nightstand for whenever he wakes up. Careful not to disturb Jimin's sleep, he picks up the covers at the end of the bed to tuck him back in. The softest sigh leaves Jimin's lips as he burrows his face deeper into his pillow, and he looks so beautiful that for a second, Taehyung is tempted to reach out and run his fingers across his cheeks. 

 

Suddenly, the room feels too small, as if Taehyung's feelings are suffocating him. He doesn’t expect Jimin will appreciate him hovering around his bed, watching him sleep, especially not right now. And if there is one thing Taehyung has learned, it’s that his resolve is weak around Jimin so he shouldn’t test his luck. Instead, he quickly slips back into his shoes and coat, grabs his phone, wallet and keys, and leaves.

 

As soon as he gets outside, it gets a little easier to breathe. It's cold, a bit of morning dew still lingering, but the sun is shining brightly, warming Taehyung's face. He closes his eyes for a second and takes a deep breath. He can hear birds chirping somewhere, the faint smell of coffee coming from one of the open windows of the dorms. 

 

It would have been a peaceful morning, the loveliest kind if only his heart wasn't feeling this heavy. Jimin isn't by his side, and it makes everything feel out of place. The sound of birds was supposed to be drowned out by their laughter, the warmth he feels should be brought on by his company and not the sun alone. But he's on his own, while Jimin is still passed out in his bed.

 

Taehyung is scared; he's terrified, actually, of the moment of truth when they have to confront the mess they have made of their friendship. He knows it's inevitable but he's dreading the moment when he has to look at all the broken pieces, wondering if there are any parts that can be salvaged, or if they're beyond repair, the jagged edges no longer fitting together. 

 

He feels guilt creep up his spine, remembering Jimin's words from the night before. 

 

You just like to take the easy way out.

 

He doesn't think that's entirely true, but he can't bear the thought of facing Jimin right now, right after waking up. He needs a moment to collect his thoughts, to take a breath, and to enjoy one of the last moments he might be able to call Jimin his best friend. It feels kinda silly, considering the way Jimin already blew up at him last night, but for some reason, there are barely glimmering embers of hope remaining in Taehyung's chest. It's nothing strong, could be extinguished at any moment, and just for now Taehyung wants to guard it; wants to put his hands around it and make sure it survives for as long as possible. He knows the next time he talks to Jimin will determine whether it stands a chance or if it burns out forever.

 

Regardless of what happens though, he can't stand the idea of Jimin thinking he doesn't care about him. He knows he's going to accept any decision Jimin makes, even if he can't forgive Taehyung, but the thought of Jimin thinking it was him, that he's too much or not enough for Taehyung, is unbearable. 

 

Though he might not be able to salvage their friendship, he can at least put in the effort and try to take care of Jimin, the way he deserves, and the way Taehyung has failed to do for the past months. If nothing else, he can show Jimin he cares. He needs to sort out his thoughts, needs to figure out what he is going to tell Jimin; if he’s actually daring to let Jimin in on the only secret he’s ever kept from him. It’s kind of ironic because Taehyung thinks Jimin would understand his behavior if he knew of the chaos inside of him right now. He just hopes Jimin doesn't wake up and leaves before he gets back.

 


 

When Taehyung comes home from his walk, he feels significantly calmer. He's under no illusion that this is going to last very long, but the fresh air helped clear his head; almost like the icy wind blew through and left a welcome feeling of numbness and clarity behind. 

 

He’s still not quite clear on how he’s going to approach the issue. But maybe that doesn’t matter as much when he doesn’t even know if Jimin is willing to hear him out. In an attempt to bridge the distance between them, he’d stopped to get food on the way back to the dorms. He hopes that Jimin will accept it, along with the unspoken invitation to finally talk, hopes that they haven’t lost their way of communication over the past few months. He hopes that Jimin is still as patient and will magically understand what’s on his mind like he used to. 

 

Takeout bag with greasy food in his arms, he pushes the door open and immediately feels his chest constrict. The room is empty, the glass and painkillers on Jimin's nightstand untouched. Either Jimin isn't hungover, or he's too proud to accept any gestures of kindness from Taehyung. And Taehyung seriously doubts the alcohol hasn't left its marks. 

 

He's about to dump the food on his desk when the bathroom door bursts open. Jimin steps out with dripping wet hair, looks at Taehyung, freezes for a second… and then keeps moving as if Taehyung isn't standing in the middle of the room. Apparently Jimin has decided Taehyung no longer exists, that he's invisible to him. Jimin simply moves around him, putting his towel over the back of his chair.

 

“Hey,” Taehyung says. His voice is hoarse, from lack of use or nerves he isn't sure. 

 

Jimin ignores him, moves over to his bed to throw back the covers and fluff up his pillows. 

 

“I brought food.”

 

Taehyung raises his hand carrying the bag, but it comes out more like a question. He sees Jimin falter for a second, hesitate, and that's all it takes for Taehyung to push further.

 

“I was hoping we could talk?”

 

His heart is racing because this is it. This is the moment that will decide if Jimin is willing to hear him out; the moment that has the power to extinguish the little flame of hope burning in his chest. 

 

“Okay.”

 

Jimin's voice comes out softer than Taehyung had expected. Maybe he was too occupied with his own thoughts, his own fears, but taking a closer look, Jimin doesn't look as indifferent as Taehyung had first thought when he entered the room. He looks… small. Nervous? As if this is territory he doesn't know how to navigate either and for some reason that makes Taehyung want to be brave.

 

“Can we sit down?”

 

Jimin finally stops fluffing his pillows, sits down on his bed, and folds his legs underneath him. Instead of answering he only gestures to the end of his bed. Taehyung takes the invitation, drops the bag of food on Jimin's desk, and slips out of his shoes and coat. As he lowers himself onto Jimin's bed, words bubble out of his mouth. It's as if he can't stop talking now, has to make sure Jimin knows he cares while he's got the chance.

 

“Great. Is your head okay? I noticed you didn't take the painkillers I left you. And I brought you breakfast, are you hungry? You should really eat something. Unless you're feeling sick of course, then maybe wait a little.”

 

“Taehyung,” Jimin interrupts him softly, lifting his arm towards Taehyung. As if he's catching himself last second, he lets it drop onto the bed. There's a sad smile on his face and Taehyung hates it. Jimin shouldn't be overthinking when to reach out to him. 

 

Taehyung gulps, not sure he wants to hear what Jimin has to say when he looks at him like that.

 

“Yeah?”

 

Jimin shakes his head slightly as if he's trying to clear his own head.

 

“You don't have to do this.”

 

“I… know? I wanted to.” Taehyung feels the way his brows furrow. Did they really get to a point where Jimin wouldn't even accept something as simple as some painkillers and some food from him? Apparently so, because all Jimin does is take a deep breath before he starts talking.

 

“Look. I'm sorry. For last night. I said some horrible things. I don't actually think about you that way. I was hurting but that doesn't make it okay.” He's fidgeting, picking at a loose thread on one of his pillows. “But I'm also sorry for not respecting your boundaries. I shouldn't have been pushing you this much, and I'm sorry for making you take care of me when I'm drunk when something is clearly not okay between us. And for what it's worth I'm also sorry for whatever it is that I did that made you feel like you had to distance yourself from me.”

 

The admission that Jimin doesn't actually think all those horrible things about him manages to soothe Taehyung's aching heart a little bit. Sadly, the effect doesn't last very long because Jimin still seems to think that what happened between them is his fault.

 

“It's nothing you did, Jimin, I told you. That's the truth,” Taehyung repeats himself for what feels like the hundredth time. “There's just something that I don't know how to deal with. But that's on me, you didn't do anything wrong. And I'm sorry that I didn't know how to handle things better.”

 

“Why won't you talk to me, then? If it's not something I did, why won't you tell me? Why won't you let me help you?”

 

From the way Jimin is chewing on the inside of his cheek, Taehyung can clearly see how uncomfortable he is at the thought that Taehyung won't open up to him. They've never kept secrets from each other. At least not until Taehyung figured out what it meant that his heartbeat started racing around his best friend. His feelings quickly became his best-guarded secret and at first, that was okay; it was okay for a long time until it suddenly wasn't. There have been many moments that made Taehyung want to blurt out the words hey, you're my best friend and I love that but I kinda wanna kiss you, too. They kept pushing forward, each time a little harder to hold back. He's still not sure he'll ever be ready to share his truth with Jimin.

 

“Because it would change things. You wouldn't look at me the same.”

 

“That's not true. I care about you and I hate the idea that you’re struggling with something and don’t want to share it with me. I mean not that you have to. If you feel like you wanna talk to someone else, that’s fine, too, of course. But you can tell me anything, Taehyung. Whatever it is, it's okay,” Jimin gently pushes.

 

And so Taehyung bursts, heart beating violently in his chest, and the words he's kept inside for months now finally spill over.

 

“Really? So it's okay for me to tell you that I love you? That I'm in love with you? That I've been killing myself for feeling this way? You're saying it's okay for me to tell you that I feel like shit whenever you get drunk, have felt that way ever since that one night where we almost kissed because you're always all over me and I love that but I don't want it like that? Because at the end of the day it doesn't mean what I want it to? It's okay for me to put it all on the line, to risk our friendship like that simply because I can't control my dumb feelings?”

 

Taehyung takes a deep breath, taking in the way Jimin's eyes have doubled in size, an apology for dumping all this on him already on the tip of his tongue when one soft word disrupts the short silence.

 

“Yes.”

 

“What?”

 

Taehyung's heart is in his throat. His chest is heaving as if he just finished running a marathon and he's shaking, he can tell, but there's nothing to steady him. He looks at Jimin and despite the nerves sitting in his stomach, he can't tear his gaze away. 

 

“I said, yes, it's okay. Because no matter what, first and foremost you're my best friend. And I want you to know that it's okay for you to tell me anything, even if it's about me.”

 

Jimin finally reaches out to grab Taehyung's shaking hand and continues, “But it's also okay because then I could have told you that there's a reason I gravitate towards you whenever I'm drunk. There's a reason why I've shamelessly abused the fact that you'll still put up with me when I'm drunk, even when you're putting distance between us when I'm sober. Those nights seemed to be the only way I could get your attention. And I just… miss you. A lot.”

 

“I miss you, too,” Taehyung whispers.

 

“I believe you,” Jimin smiles at him and gently squeezes his hand. “Most of all, though, it's okay for you to tell me all those things, because then I could have told you that I love you, too.”

 

Taehyung gently shakes his head. This is exactly what he feared would happen. Of course Jimin loves him, that has never been the issue.

 

“I know that, Jimin-ah. I know you do. I never doubted that.”

 

At that, Jimin giggles. And Taehyung feels like crying because for the past ten hours or so he thought he'd never get to hear that sound again.

 

“No, silly. I'm in love with you, too.”

 

Pause. 

 

“What?”

 

“You heard me. And I can't believe you've been trying to ghost me just for this? What the hell is wrong with you?” Jimin laughs and gently punches his arm.

 

Under normal circumstances, Taehyung would protest. He’d shove back, and they’d laugh until their stomachs hurt probably. Instead, there’s a constant stream of I’m in love with you too I’m in love with you too I’m in love with you too in Taehyung’s head. He heard the words, he’s relatively sure he can trust his ears aren’t completely ruined at twenty-four years old, but the words don’t seem to register. There’s no way he heard that right.

 

“You… love me?”

 

“I do,” Jimin nods. He looks genuine. Taehyung knows what Jimin looks like when he’s lying, remembers the look in his eyes betraying him whenever he tried to play a trick on one of their friends. He can’t find any of that right now. Jimin’s eyes hold that special kind of fondness that’s reserved for Taehyung only. Suddenly, his heart is racing for reasons other than anxiety.

 

“You're in love with me.”

 

“Very much so, yes.”

 

Taehyung can tell that Jimin is trying his best to stay serious but there's laughter trying to fight its way out. 

 

“Holy shit.”

 

And that does it. Jimin flings himself across the bed, shaking with laughter. He probably would have fallen off, if it wasn't for Taehyung's practiced skills in catching him. It’s not the first time he’s had to save Jimin from imminent doom and he doubts it’ll be the last.

 

“You okay?” Jimin asks once he’s sitting upright again, a shit-eating grin on his face.

 

“I… think so? I don't know. Gimme a second to process this.”

 

Jimin snorts, “Okay. Sure. I'm just going to sit and wait here, take your time. If at any point, you wanted to get over here and kiss me, that would be fine, I suppose.”

 

Taehyung chokes on his own spit. He can barely make out Jimin's giggles over his coughing. Jimin enjoys teasing him way too much and it might throw him off, that boldness, but two can play this game. They used to tease each other all the time before Taehyung noticed there was too much wishful thinking on his part. This is familiar territory. Where Jimin is bolder with his words, Taehyung acts.

 

He quickly moves into Jimin's space, gently pushing him back onto his pillows, settling himself between Jimin's thighs. Within a second the atmosphere switches, Jimin's giggles fading into silence as Taehyung's face is only inches away from his.

 

“You're sure you want this? You're 100% sober?”

 

Jimin rolls his eyes, but he's smiling. Taehyung just has to make sure they're both on the same page, one last time.

 

“Yes, Taehyung. I want this,” Jimin says and moves his hands to the back of Taehyung's head, gently playing with his hair.

 

“Okay. I'm going to kiss you now.” 

 

“Okay,” Jimin whispers.

 

Taking a last look into Jimin's eyes for any hint of hesitation, and not finding any, Taehyung finally moves in and closes the gap. He kisses Jimin softly, the way he's always imagined he would in those daydreams of his. Jimin deserves to be cherished, worshipped even. He moves one of his hands beneath Jimin's back, the other one settling on his cheek as he slightly deepens the kiss. Jimin sighs and Taehyung is already itching to pick up a pencil to compose a melody from all the wonderful sounds Jimin is making underneath him. 

 

It'd be easy to get carried away like this, settled between Jimin's thighs, Jimin's hands gently moving through his hair. Still, he's slightly overwhelmed and decides to pull away a little. Kissing Jimin felt magical, but the sight that greets him after is not any less wonderful. 

 

Jimin's eyes are still closed, a light blush sitting high on his cheeks, and a big smile slowly blossoms on his face. He's breathtakingly beautiful. Taehyung can't believe he gets to see Jimin this way, feels his heart pounding in his chest, so hard that he wonders if Jimin can feel it, too. He's always been weak for Jimin's flushed cheeks, has always wanted to kiss them and see if he can make the color deepen. He leans in and presses soft kisses on the apples of Jimin's cheeks, and to his delight, they turn bright pink before Taehyung's lips have even left his skin.

 

Taehyung feels Jimin's giggles reverberating through his chest more than he hears them, as Jimin finally opens his eyes.

 

One of Jimin's hands slips down to the side of Taehyung's face, his thumb softly moving across his cheek.

 

“Hi.” It barely comes out as a whisper but somehow it fits the atmosphere perfectly. The moment feels precious and fragile, and Taehyung wants to burn it into his memory so he'll never forget even a second of it.

 

“Hi,” he says, smiling. 

 

Unable to resist, he moves back in, leaving small kisses all over Jimin's face. He starts on his forehead, moves down to his nose, over his closed eyelids, his cheeks, only to end up on his lips once more, effectively quieting the giggles that are coming out of Jimin's mouth in a continuous stream. The sound of Jimin's laughter is his absolute favorite but the soft sighs and moans he lets out when Taehyung pushes his tongue past Jimin's lips might be strong competitors. It's addictive, the way Jimin fidgets beneath him, the way his thighs are squeezed tightly around Taehyung's hips. It makes him wonder how he's ever going to get anything else done in his life, now that he gets to have this, gets to have Jimin.

 

Except there are still things to talk about, so for the second time, he forces himself to pull away.

 

“No, come back,” Jimin whines, before Taehyung has even opened his eyes. 

 

He chuckles, “I'm not going anywhere.”

 

He gently pushes the damp hair away from Jimin's forehead, waiting for him to meet his eyes.

 

“I’m sorry for making you feel like I don’t care about you. I'm sorry for being stupid and dragging this out longer than necessary,” he says when Jimin finally looks at him. “But I'm glad it happened this way, not drunk at a party somewhere we wouldn't even remember.”

 

“You should be sorry, denying me this for so long,” Jimin smiles at him, and Taehyung knows he's no longer angry. “I agree, though. I like it much better this way.”

 

“So,” Taehyung says, voice coming out croaky. His heart is still pounding against his ribcage as if it's trying to jump out of his chest. At this point, it’s definitely more out of excitement and happiness than anything else, but a little nervousness remains.

 

“So?” Jimin asks, quietly.

 

“Where does this leave us?”

 

“Well,” Jimin shrugs, “You're my best friend. That hasn't changed. I don't think it ever will, to be honest.”

 

He reaches up to push Taehyung's bangs away from his eyes, traces the bridge of his nose with his finger, and settles back on his cheek.

 

“But I wouldn't mind adding another title to that description.”

 

Taehyung's breath catches in his chest, wondering if this is really what it sounds like. Wondering if Jimin is offering what he thinks he is.

 

“You mean, like… boyfriend?”

 

He can hear the hopeful tone in his own voice, praying that it won't be crushed. The small embers in his chest have grown significantly since their lips met for the first time. There is a small flame nestled in his ribcage, flickering for survival, but growing steadily with every moment he’s holding Jimin. Taehyung knows extinguishing it would hurt worse than anything else he's ever experienced.

 

If he's not mistaken, there is hesitation flickering in Jimin's eyes, and he's preparing himself for the worst.

 

“Yeah. If you want to, of course, we don't hav-”

 

“Yes,” he interrupts Jimin. 

 

“Yeah?” Jimin sighs, the relief palpable on his face.

 

“Yes. Absolutely. Never wanted anything more, I think.”

 

“Me neither,” Jimin says. “Except maybe another kiss.”

 

Jimin beams at him, and who is he to say no.

 

“Anything for you, boyfriend.”

 

He kisses Jimin again. And again. And again. 

 

In his chest, there's an inferno.