The house is quiet when Yoongi gets home. That on its own isn’t unusual—the house is often quiet when no one’s at home—but this time, logically, someone should be home, because Namjoon called a housemate meeting at six and it’s already five minutes past.
Yoongi stops in the hallway, toeing off his shoes, and is just about to call out someone’s name when Namjoon pokes his head out of the living room doorway, startling him.
“Oh good, you’re here. We’re all waiting.” Namjoon smiles a bit tightly.
Yoongi squints at Namjoon’s face. “All of you? But why is it so quiet?” He pauses. “Did something happen?”
“You could say that,” Namjoon says. “Come on.”
Yoongi drops his bag by the door and follows Namjoon.
They’re all there, like Namjoon said, seated quietly in the living room. Seokjin is curled up in the armchair in the corner, hugging his stuffed alpaca to his chest. Hoseok, Jimin and Jungkook are all sitting on the couch in a neat row like they’re waiting to be scolded for stealing the last remaining ice pops from the freezer. Jimin stares up at the ceiling with furrowed brows like he expects it to fall on him.
“Guys,” Yoongi says. “What’s going on?”
Namjoon motions at the other armchair, while he perches on one of the barstools from the kitchen. “Please, sit.”
“No, seriously, I’m getting worried,” Yoongi jokes weakly, plopping down in the armchair and instinctively reaching for a throw pillow, squishing it in his arms. He glances at Seokjin and wishes he had a stuffed animal to hug as well, because the atmosphere is so nerve-wracking.
“We, uh.” Namjoon pauses like he’s looking for words. He glances up at the ceiling. “We have a guest who’s staying over in the guest bedroom for the time being.”
Yoongi furrows his brows. “Okay? Why is that such a serious matter?”
“One of my classmates from uni reached out to me, she’s working as a psychologist consultant who specializes in—well, rather unique cases. She asked if I’d be able to help, it’s a bit of a delicate situation,” Namjoon says. “Apparently our guest—Taehyung’s his name, by the way—he’s in need of a warm, loving environment. Jihyo said she immediately thought our place would be perfect—and that we would be able to handle it.”
Yoongi looks at all of them one by one, confused. “Handle what, exactly?”
“He’s invisible,” Jungkook blurts out.
Namjoon silences him with a look.
“He’s what now?” Yoongi says. “Is this some kind of a practical joke?”
“It’s not a joke,” Jimin says, his eyes still tracing the ceiling. “We all saw him when he arrived. Or more like, we didn’t see him. We saw a pair of pants and a hoodie come in carrying a suitcase. Like that’s all you can see of him. The clothes he wears.”
Yoongi blinks a few times. Oh. No wonder they all look like they’ve seen a ghost. “Really? How is that even possible?”
“Jihyo sent me some research,” Namjoon says. “Apparently in extreme situations, when people are being mistreated so they have to constantly suppress themselves, they can, as a result, turn invisible.” He spreads his hands. “It’s like a defense mechanism. Very rare. There are only a few documented cases in the entire world.”
“Mistreated?” Yoongi repeats. “Like, he was bullied into becoming invisible?”
Namjoon looks sad. “Something like that. Like, imagine if whenever you open your mouth, you’re told to be quiet, whenever you make a move you’re told to be still and behave, whenever you say something you’re made fun of, whenever you simply try to exist within a space, it’s made clear you’re not welcome, you’re too much, you shouldn’t be there, or be at all. Over time, it makes a person want to vanish, and when it goes on for long enough—well, sometimes they do.” He shakes his head. “It’s a slow process. First they turn quiet and unnoticeable, like they blend into their environment, then little by little you start to see through them. Like they’re a ghost. And if nothing changes, eventually they just turn completely invisible.”
“But who could have done such a thing to a person?” Hoseok puts in. “Who could be so cruel?”
“Yeah, they must have noticed he was vanishing, and they continued bullying him nonetheless.” Jungkook sounds disbelieving and angry.
Namjoon purses his lips. “His parents died when he was little, and he had to live with these distant relatives who were awful to him. He wasn’t allowed to laugh or run, or have any fun, and he wasn’t allowed to speak unless spoken to, and it just went on and on—”
“Yeah, that’s another thing,” Seokjin interjects. “He didn’t say a word when he came. Does he speak?”
Namjoon shakes his head. “Apparently he hasn’t said a word in a long time. He stopped speaking way before he turned invisible.”
It’s quiet for a moment.
“That’s so sad,” Jimin says, pulling his legs up on the couch and hugging his knees.
“Yeah. So what we’re going to do is, we’re going to give him time and space, and we’re going to be everything his stupid relatives weren’t. We’re going to be nice, and treat him with respect, you know the drill, right?” Namjoon looks at them one by one. “I have no idea if this invisibility thing is permanent, but we’re going to make him feel seen, even if we can’t actually see him.”
They all nod, wordless.
That night when Yoongi goes to bed, he listens to the floorboards creaking above in the attic where the guest bedroom is, and he wonders what it’s like to be pushed down and belittled so many times that it makes one want to disappear. He feels awful just thinking about it, and decides they need to do everything they can to uplift Taehyung, so maybe he doesn’t want to disappear anymore.
Yoongi is eating breakfast alone in the kitchen when he first sees Taehyung.
Or, he doesn’t see Taehyung, but a man-shaped set of pajamas wanders into the kitchen and then stops as if startled by Yoongi’s presence. Yoongi thinks he hears a sharp inhale, but that’s the only sound aside from the rustle of Taehyung’s footsteps as he pauses in the doorway.
Yoongi is trying very hard to not choke on the piece of rolled omelette he’s chewing, because even though he knew what to expect, it’s still jarring to see it for himself. Or, well, not see it. Him. Taehyung. Ugh, this situation is twisting Yoongi’s brain into knots.
“Hey,” Yoongi says after successfully not choking while swallowing his food. “Hope you slept well. I’m Yoongi, and, uh, you must be Taehyung.”
The set of pajamas raises a hand and waves. Even though Yoongi can’t see Taehyung’s face, or his hand, or any part of him aside from the clothes he’s wearing, he gets the impression that the wave is very timid, a tiny gesture like Taehyung is trying to keep his movements as small as possible.
“Do you want breakfast?” Yoongi motions toward the kitchen counter. “I was bored so I made some gyeran-mari. There’s plenty still left if you want some.”
Taehyung hesitates, then shrugs. He goes over to the cupboards and opens one.
“The one on your left, the plates are in there,” Yoongi says. It’s fascinating to watch a set of pajamas roam around the kitchen, pick up a plate, fish a pair of chopsticks from the drawer and then move over to the counter where the rolled pieces of omelette sit on a cutting board.
The plate floats over to the table and Taehyung pulls a chair across from Yoongi.
Yoongi tries not to stare, really, he does, but it’s so strange to witness a pair of floating chopsticks picking up a piece of rolled eggs, bringing it up to where Taehyung’s face is, and then the food just—it just vanishes, in mid-air as Taehyung’s mouth closes around it.
“Does it taste okay? I wasn’t sure what you liked, so I just—” Yoongi shrugs.
The chopsticks pause in mid-air. From the movement of Taehyung’s shoulders Yoongi concludes he’s either shaking his head or nodding, but of course there’s no way of knowing.
Yoongi blinks. “We need to come up with like a code or something. Okay, so raise your right hand for yes and left hand for no?”
Taehyung raises his right hand.
Yoongi smiles. “Awesome. So is the food okay?”
Taehyung’s right hand rises again.
“I’m glad. I hope the guest bed was alright to sleep in, I know it’s not the most comfortable mattress but—”
Taehyung makes a waving motion in the air.
Yoongi purses his lips. “Okay, I have no idea what that meant, but okay.”
A small huff emerges from Taehyung’s direction, but without seeing his face Yoongi has no way of deciphering whether he’s frustrated or amused.
Yoongi ponders this glitch in their communication for a second, then looks at the side table where Seokjin and Hoseok have hoarded several pastel-colored pads of post-it notes and other kinds of cutesy stationery for making grocery lists, because according to them, grocery shopping would be a wasted experience if they had a boring list on their phone, when they can live their life to the fullest and use lavender-colored unicorn post-its instead.
“Okay, I have an idea. How do you feel about cute stationery?”
Taehyung picks out a pad of post-its that have a small tiger at the bottom, and the first thing he writes on the spot is, thank you for breakfast, it’s really good.
Yoongi takes the post-it. “Of course. And if you have any food items you want us to get from the store, just leave a note here on the side table and someone will pick it up the next time they go to the store.”
After arming Taehyung with stationery, Yoongi discovers two things.
One, Taehyung’s handwriting is cute.
And two, Taehyung likes to leave little messages around the house. Yoongi starts finding Taehyung’s tiger-notes in various places over the next few days.
On the corner of his laptop screen, hyung I arranged the books in your shelf, hope it’s okay?
On his jacket lapel, I put a tangerine in your pocket, hope you have a good day at work, hyung.
On the outside of his door when he comes home, hyung I washed your comforter & it’s in the dryer.
Speaking of, they all start to notice that Taehyung seems to do a lot of chores without anyone asking. He washes dishes, does laundry and sneakily cleans the house while they’re gone, to the extent that Namjoon has to call a roommate meeting—the first one where Taehyung is also present—and request that Taehyung stop doing everything around the house.
“Yeah, please Taehyung-ah, you’re making us look like slobs,” Jimin says, grinning from where he lies sprawled on the couch with his head on Jungkook’s lap.
Taehyung’s post-it pad makes an appearance. I just want to help, since you are all so nice.
Namjoon flashes a reassuring smile in Taehyung’s direction. “We know, but you don’t have to do everything. You can just relax. Just be. It’s okay to just be every now and then.”
Taehyung’s sleeves bunch up on his lap, and Yoongi realizes he’s pulled his hands into them and is now wringing his hands inside the sleeves like he’s nervous. The tiger post-its sit on his thigh, along with the purple pen he likes to use to write his notes.
“Taehyung-ah,” Yoongi says gently. “If you want to help, you can, it’s okay. No one’s scolding you for helping. We appreciate it. But you also don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to, and that’s okay too.” He holds out a hand without thinking, and then blinks when one of Taehyung’s sweater-paws hesitantly reaches over and lowers onto his palm. Yoongi reflexively closes his fingers around the hand in his.
It’s nice, even through the sweater sleeve obscuring the shape of Taehyung’s hand. Yoongi looks at their clasped hands for a second, then looks up again when Namjoon says, “Alright, now that we’ve established that Taehyung should not clean up after six grown men, we can move on to the next item on my list for this housemate meeting.”
“There’s a list?” Jungkook looks mildly horrified. “Hyung please, I haven’t had dinner yet and I’m too young to die of starvation.”
Namjoon rolls his eyes toward the ceiling. “I’m pretty sure you can survive a few more minutes.”
Through the connection of their hands, Yoongi feels Taehyung’s shoulders shaking a bit, and this time Yoongi is almost certain he’s amused. Yoongi squeezes Taehyung’s hand, and even though he can’t confirm it, he gets the feeling that Taehyung is watching him. It’s like needle-pricks on his skin, but soft and gentle, barely there.
At one point during their meeting, Taehyung detaches from Yoongi’s hand and flashes a quickly scribbled, bathroom, in Yoongi’s direction.
They all watch as he leaves the room. Taehyung rarely wears socks—he seems to hate any type of footwear—so it’s just a sweater and loose-fitting pants, shuffling down the hall and disappearing into the bathroom.
“So, I don’t know if it’s just me, but somehow it’s weird to think he’s naked under those clothes,” Seokjin says.
Namjoon rubs the bridge of his nose. “Seokjin-hyung. I want you to think about what you just said, like. Really think about it.”
There’s a silence that lasts for two full seconds. Then Seokjin slams a palm on his face and drags it down slowly. “Oh. Right.” He sighs. “I mean, like it’s weird to think that if he was naked, we wouldn’t be able to see him at all.”
Jungkook grins. “Imagine what an advantage he had if he wanted to play hide and seek. Just strip off all his clothes and stand naked somewhere. No one would ever find him unless they directly bumped into him.” His face lights up. “Oh hey, speaking of games. Do you think he likes video games?”
“You have to ask him,” Namjoon says.
Jungkook rubs his hands together and looks delighted. “Oh, I will.”
Jungkook is always trying to rope one of them into playing with him, but so far only Seokjin and Jimin have showed any interest in it and they’re often busy, so now Yoongi guesses it’s Taehyung’s turn to be the designated video game buddy.
Perhaps it will be good. Jungkook will have someone to play with, and Taehyung won’t spend all his time scrubbing the doorframes or whatever it is he’s been doing while they’ve been at work or in classes.
When Yoongi walks into the living room later that night, he finds Jungkook and Taehyung sitting on the floor. Taehyung sits cross-legged, clearly imitating Jungkook’s position but in a way that’s markedly less relaxed than Jungkook’s hunched-over slouch. They both have game controllers in their hands and they’re playing—
“Are you making him play Mortal Kombat?” Yoongi squints at the screen.
Jungkook huffs. “Hyung, it’s a classic.”
Yoongi grins and plops down in the armchair that’s diagonally behind Taehyung. “If you say so.”
Taehyung’s sweater twists and turns so Yoongi knows Taehyung is watching him—and as if it wasn’t obvious from the way his body is positioned, his complete disregard for the game becomes obvious when Jungkook does a swift and merciless fatality in three seconds flat while Taehyung’s character stands idly and does nothing.
“You’re not even trying—” Jungkook cuts himself off. “Oh. Hey, I’m gonna go grab some banana milk, you guys want anything from the fridge?”
Yoongi shakes his head. “No thanks.”
Taehyung digs a few tattered tiger post-its from his pocket and shows the one that says no and then another one that says thank you. He’s taken to carrying a few of his most commonly needed phrases with him so he doesn’t have to write them every single time.
Jungkook vanishes into the kitchen, and the living room falls quiet aside from the game start-screen music looping in the background.
“Hey, so Taehyung,” Yoongi says softly.
Taehyung turns fully in his direction, pulling his knees to his chest and wrapping his arms around his knees.
“I know the six of us tend to be a bit much at times. Jungkook with his games and his workouts, and Jimin and Hoseok with their dance routines, and Namjoon with his endless talk about his doctorate research, and Seokjin with his cooking show—”
And me with my late nights and occasional dark moods and random hermit-like behavior, he doesn’t say.
“So anyway, what I’m getting at is—if you ever wanna talk, or just hang out in peace and quiet but not be completely alone, you know. My door is always open.” Yoongi flashes a small smile in Taehyung’s direction. He sometimes has days when he’d like to hang out with someone but not interact with them—when he’d like the reassurance of company without forceful interactions, so he wants to offer, in case it’s the same for Taehyung.
Taehyung unwraps one of his arms from around his knees, and his stack of tiger post-its appears from his pocket. Thank you, hyung.
Over the next few days, Taehyung stops obsessively cleaning the house, and bits of his personality start shining through the initial blend-in behavior of him just trying to be as low-maintenance as possible.
Taehyung refuses to play any more Mortal Kombat, but takes quite a liking to old remastered puzzle games, so when they lose track of him, he can usually be found in Jungkook’s computer den in the basement, completely immersed in Riven or whatever else he’s found in Jungkook’s massive collection. He also reads books, but sporadically, so sometimes there can be three or four books he’s reading simultaneously, all of them discarded somewhere around the house with a tiger post-it bookmark as an indicator of who’s abandoned the story in mid-chapter. Taehyung joins Jimin and Hoseok when they watch sappy romance movies, and one time Yoongi walks through the living room to discover that it’s really strange to see an invisible person crying, with tears appearing out of nowhere and forming trails on cheeks they can’t see.
Hoseok sometimes makes bracelets from plastic beads, and Taehyung expresses an interest in jewelry-making, only to soon appear in the living room with his wrists decked in all the colors of the rainbow, the jewelry looking like it’s jangling in mid-air when he moves his hands. He also makes a bracelet for Yoongi, a less-colorful version of sky blue and pearly black, and it’s tight enough to leave small red marks all around Yoongi’s wrist, but he’s not going to take it off.
Then Taehyung discovers painting, and the next few days bring a flurry of sketchbook papers on the dining table, canvases spread on the basement floor, dirty paintbrushes left in the kitchen sink and small dots of acrylic paint on various surfaces.
“It’s good to see him try new things,” Namjoon says, while absently using his nail to scratch dried specks of paint off the kitchen island. “I mean, he never got to do anything fun, so now it’s like he’s taking a crash-course to all things fun, and—I don’t know, it just makes my heart feel all warm to see it.”
“Yeah,” Yoongi agrees, sipping his coffee. He definitely knows what Namjoon means, because watching Taehyung reach out and expand his horizons has made him feel all soft inside for several days already.
Behind them, Seokjin makes a disgruntled noise under his breath, while he continues scrubbing something in the sink.
“What’s eating him?” Yoongi points a thumb over his shoulder at Seokjin.
“Oh, Taehyung used his set of measuring spoons as paint dishes before Jimin got him that palette. He’s trying to scrub off the paint because he needs them for cooking.” Namjoon grins. “Hyung, just leave it. I’ll buy you a new set.”
Seokjin shuts the tap and lets the measuring spoons fall to the bottom of the sink with a clattering sound. “Fine. They better not be cheap, they’re gonna be visible in my videos.”
“Only the best for the Eat Jin Channel, promise.” Namjoon reaches to pat Seokjin on the shoulder.
Taehyung shyly starts leaving tiger post-its on the kitchen side table, asking for specific foods. He seems to pay keen attention to what each of them likes or needs, and even though he also asks things for himself— Can we get more of that yummy caramel ice cream? —most of his requests are concerned with the six of them. More of those tangerines Yoongi-hyung likes please! or Jungkook’s banana milk is almost finished, or Please get Hoseok’s vanilla-flavored coffee creamer or We’re out of Jimin’s protein bars or Pistachios for Namjoon or Rice flour for Seokjin’s new cooking project.
Taehyung then discovers music and begins asking Yoongi for recommendations. He also starts hanging out in the armchair in Yoongi’s room, Yoongi’s headphones bobbing in the air above the neckline of his shirt as he listens to music while Yoongi works on his laptop. Sometimes Yoongi comes home to music blasting in the house and finds Taehyung in the living room, breathless in a way that seems to indicate he also likes to dance, even though he’s careful to not let anyone witness it.
Taehyung slips into the cracks of their daily housemate routine so seamlessly that pretty soon it feels like he’s always been there, and they get used to having a seventh person in the house, even if he doesn’t talk and they’ve never actually seen him.
“So glad you came to live with us,” Yoongi says one day when Taehyung’s t-shirt and sweatpants pass him in the hallway. “It’s nice having you around.”
Taehyung pauses, and his bracelets clack together like he’s wringing his hands. Then he fishes out the ever-diminishing pad of tiger post-its and jots down, I’m glad too, hyung. I like it here a lot.
Yoongi makes a mental note to get more of those tiger post-its, because they seem to be the only ones Taehyung likes using.
Yoongi is lounging in the living room armchair, scrolling on his phone while Jungkook is playing a motion-controlled dance game with Jimin, both of them giggling as they mimic the movements of the dancers on the screen. Seokjin is waiting for his turn on the couch, and Taehyung, who politely refused to try the game, is sitting on the floor so close to the armchair that when he shifts, his arm brushes Yoongi’s leg. He’s wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and occasionally the shoulders of his shirt shake when he laughs silently at Jimin and Jungkook’s antics.
Jimin twirls around dramatically, following the dancers in the game. From the corner of his eye, Yoongi sees him pause, facing the armchair.
Yoongi’s gaze then shoots up when Jimin gasps.
“I can see his legs!” Jimin says, eyes wide as he points down. “Look.”
They all turn to look, and true enough, the outline of Taehyung’s legs is starting to form against the carpet on the floor—toes curled in the pile of the carpet, followed by slender legs, still see-through but hazily visible up to his knees.
“Ooh, we finally get to see if his legs are hairy,” Jungkook says, grinning. “Maybe he has like hobbit levels of toe hair or something.”
The outline of Taehyung’s legs fades, flickers, then vanishes again. For a moment it’s quiet in the living room, then Taehyung makes a very small hitched noise and clambers up to rush out, stomping up the stairs.
“Jungkook, you ass,” Jimin says, slapping Jungkook’s shoulder.
“Yeah, go apologize to him,” Seokjin says, pointing upstairs. “The poor kid was bullied and mistreated so much he turned invisible, the last thing we need to do is make fun of him now that he’s making some progress.”
“Aw, shit, you’re right, I didn’t think before running my mouth.” Jungkook looks at them, wide-eyed and regretful. He relinquishes the controller to Seokjin. “I’m gonna go find him.”
Jungkook comes back after a few minutes, shuffling into the living room like he expects to be scolded.
“It’s okay, he said it’s okay. Well, wrote it’s okay. Still no visible legs, though.” Jungkook sighs. “He wants Yoongi-hyung,” he continues.
Yoongi looks up from his phone. “Is he in his room?”
Jungkook shakes his head. “No, actually, he’s in yours.”
“Alright.” Yoongi gets up and stretches, pocketing his phone and ignoring the curious looks everyone in the room is throwing his way. He goes to the kitchen and takes a few minutes to make some tea for both of them—his own unsweetened and bitter, and Taehyung’s honeyed and soothing, just the way Yoongi’s seen him make it every morning.
When Yoongi gets to his room, there’s a Taehyung-shaped lump tucked under the blankets in his bed, and he pauses in the doorway to blink at the sight. He wonders what made Taehyung seek the safety of his bed instead of the one in the guestroom. Perhaps it’s partially due to the uncomfortably lumpy mattress of the guest bed, but Yoongi has a hunch it might be something else too.
He closes the door with a soft click. “Taehyung-ah? I brought tea if you want some.”
The blanket folds down and Taehyung sits up, crawling to sit at the foot of the bed, leaning his back against the wall and his legs across the width of the mattress. He raises his arms to reach for the tea, and even with the bracelets on Taehyung’s wrists Yoongi has to estimate the distance when he extends the mug. It’s Taehyung’s favorite mug, with a print of van Gogh’s Starry Night on it. Namjoon bought it from an art museum as a souvenir, but it mostly sat unused at the back of the cupboard before Taehyung arrived and claimed it as his.
Their fingers brush when Taehyung takes the mug, and it’s not the first time they’ve touched, but it’s one of the first times Yoongi has felt Taehyung’s bare skin against his—invisible but warm and solid. Usually there are layers of fabric between them when they touch, but now it’s just Taehyung’s fingers against his, a feather-light graze of skin before Taehyung manages to get a decent hold of the mug.
Taehyung sniffles, but Yoongi can’t see any tear trails, so either he’s not so upset he’s fully crying, or then he wiped his face before Yoongi arrived.
Yoongi sits on the edge of the bed, blowing into his own tea mug.
He then nearly drops the entire mug and its hot contents on his lap, when beside him, Taehyung shifts and there’s a voice, the tiniest little voice, almost a whisper.
Yoongi manages to not burn himself with hot tea, but he jumps a bit, so Taehyung must notice it. Aside from the knee-jerk reaction, Yoongi decides it’s best not to draw attention to Taehyung’s little steps of progress. Just let it all happen on its own accord.
“No problem,” Yoongi says, instead of addressing the fact that he just witnessed Taehyung’s first spoken words in who knows how long. “I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to come in here.”
Taehyung makes a noise under his breath, like a small hum of agreement. His voice is pleasant—low and deep and rich, if a bit hoarse and raspy from going unused for such a long time.
Yoongi sets his tea on the nightstand to cool for a moment and scoots over to sit next to Taehyung, their shoulders nearly brushing as they lean against the wall with their legs extending across the bed. Even though he can’t see Taehyung’s legs, from the dents their weight creates on the bedsheets, he can tell Taehyung’s legs are longer than his. Of course he knows Taehyung is taller than him, but Taehyung seems to have more length in the leg department, while their shoulders are almost at the same level as they sit next to each other.
Taehyung reaches far over to his right, setting his own mug on the windowsill, before turning to Yoongi. It’s hard to tell the mood from just a set of clothes, but if Yoongi had to guess, Taehyung is hesitating right now. Yoongi has tried to wire his senses to respond to Taehyung’s signals, but since his only clues are related to the way Taehyung’s clothes move along with his body, it’s an inaccurate science.
Yoongi is going on a hunch here, but he hopes he’s on the right track when he spreads his arms. “Hug?”
Taehyung’s hesitation drops in a millisecond, and he dives into Yoongi’s arms, burying his face in Yoongi’s neck, one hand sneaking behind Yoongi’s back to hold him tightly. Yoongi sits with his back against the wall and pulls Taehyung to his side, Taehyung’s head coming to rest on his shoulder.
They’ve hugged once or twice before, briefly, and from the previous hugs Yoongi already knows that Taehyung’s arms are lean and defined, his shoulders broad and his hair very long and fluffy. The hair makes sense, because it would be difficult to cut hair when you can’t see it.
So yeah, they’ve hugged before, but this is encroaching on a new territory, because now Yoongi can feel Taehyung’s breaths against the side of his neck, and Taehyung’s hair tickling his jawline, and Taehyung’s t-shirt-covered back under his palm as he pulls Taehyung closer. He slides his free hand up Taehyung’s arm, then down again, soothing. The skin under his touch is soft, and at one point he feels a ripple of goosebumps crossing Taehyung’s forearm.
Taehyung gradually relaxes into the touch, sighing contently.
It’s nice, and so strange, Yoongi realizes, to have something warm and solid against him when he can’t see it. He closes his eyes, and then he can just imagine what Taehyung looks like—long legs, lean arms around Yoongi, a mop of fluffy hair. He has no idea if his mental image is anywhere close to the truth, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is nice.
Taehyung shifts, and his jawline grazes Yoongi’s neck near his collarbone. It scratches a bit, like there’s a stubble on Taehyung’s chin, and before Yoongi can think he’s reaching out, fumbling blindly with his fingers, sliding them along Taehyung’s jawline.
Taehyung is absolutely still under his touch, barely breathing.
“Sorry,” Yoongi says, pulling his hand back. “I was just thinking—you’ve shaved pretty recently. How do you shave when you can’t see your face?”
Taehyung clears his throat. “By touch.”
The words are still quiet, but his voice is louder than before, and Yoongi has to resist commenting on how nice it sounds. They already managed to scare away the little bit of leg that was becoming visible, he doesn’t want to discourage Taehyung from speaking by bringing attention to it.
“Is it difficult?” Yoongi asks, trying to imagine shaving his face without seeing it.
“At first it was, but not anymore.” Taehyung shrugs, the movement tangible against Yoongi’s side.
“Mm, okay.” Yoongi turns his head just a bit to the side, so more of his cheek rests against Taehyung’s head. His hair smells like that shampoo Jimin uses, like a gentle vanilla scent with a pinch of cinnamon.
After a moment, Taehyung snuggles closer, then sighs, the exhale soft and warm against Yoongi’s neck. Little by little his breaths even out, and Yoongi realizes he’s fallen asleep.
Yoongi manages to wiggle his phone out of his pocket without waking up Taehyung, and he holds Taehyung against his side one-armed while scrolling his phone with his free hand. Their mugs of tea cool down on the nightstand and on the windowsill, and Yoongi is far from being comfortable, sitting cramped against the wall with Taehyung’s weight on his shoulder, but Taehyung makes these little snuffling noises when he sleeps, and that alone keeps Yoongi from disturbing his dreams.
Taehyung wakes up sometime later, promptly apologizes for falling asleep and then scurries out of the room with the mugs of cooled-down tea before Yoongi has a chance to stop him. “I’ll put the mugs in the dishwasher,” Taehyung says from the door, and Yoongi can only blink at how deep his voice is, sleep-raspy like that, as he tries to shake his arm to regain some sensation and movement in it after it’s been squished under Taehyung for such a long time.
Jungkook bounces up to Yoongi’s room not five minutes later and stops in the doorway. “Hey, I just saw Taehyung come to the kitchen and dump the tea in the sink. It’s hard to tell with him, but I feel like, uh, his clothes looked extra jumpy or something. Everything alright?”
“Yeah, he just—fell asleep, so the tea got cold before we got to it.” Yoongi scratches the side of his neck.
“Both of you fell asleep?” Jungkook’s expression is carefully neutral.
Yoongi makes a vague motion with his hand. “No, but he kind of—fell asleep on me, and I didn’t want to disturb him so, I just, didn’t drink my tea.”
Jimin, who appears behind Jungkook, scoffs at this. “You’ve never had any problems pushing me off when I’ve fallen asleep with my head on your lap or something,” he comments. “I see how it is—you like Taehyung more than you like us.”
Yoongi sputters. “Ugh, knock it off, that’s not—”
Jimin was about to leave, but now he takes a step back and peers into the room past Jungkook’s shoulder. “Oh, and you’ve never made me tea exactly the way I like it when I’ve been upset.”
Yoongi gapes at him. “Excuse me, I made you tea, three months ago when you—”
“I was sick, yeah.” Jimin smirks. “But I think this is different.” He taps his lips thoughtfully. “Jungkook-ah, do you think this is different?”
Jungkook pulls an exaggerated face, like he has to think very hard about the question. “Yes,” he then says, firmly like there’s no question about it.
“Insolent brats.” Yoongi points at the door. “That’s it, out. Both of you.”
Jungkook grins. “Aww, but what happened to ‘my door is always open’, huh?”
“You heard that?” Yoongi mutters, and his ears feel a bit hot.
“Hyung, I went to the kitchen, which is geographically speaking not very far from the living room.” Jungkook chuckles. “Not like I skipped to Antarctica or something.”
“Oh, I’m guessing that offer was just for Taehyung.” Jimin’s laughter rings in the hallway.
Yoongi wants them to stop teasing him, so he needs a diversion. “Anyway,” he says. “About Taehyung. Still no legs as you could probably see, but he talked to me.”
There’s a brief moment of absolute silence. Jimin’s eyes widen like they’re about to pop out of his head. “He talked? Out loud?”
Yoongi nods. “I don’t know if it was a one-time thing or what. But either way, do not pester him about it.”
Jungkook’s eyes are equally as wide as Jimin’s. “Yeah, of course, hyung.”
Yoongi waves at them to leave. “Okay, now go. And leave the door open.”
“For Taehyung?” Jimin’s voice is teasing.
Yoongi doesn’t dignify that with an answer. Instead he just stares at them until they skulk away, laughing.
His housemates are the worst, and Yoongi loves them all very much.
The following day, Taehyung’s legs reappear—it’s just a faint outline of them, but it reaches all the way up to where his shorts end, and no one says a single word about it. They just go about their day like it’s completely normal to have a pair of translucent legs walking around the house.
The outline then becomes stronger, and pretty soon they can’t see through the legs anymore. Taehyung seems to be embarrassed about it, because he stops wearing shorts and brings back the extra baggy pants, but the legs remain visible, his toes wiggling beneath the hem of the pants.
He still doesn’t talk very much, and he’s selective about it at first. First he only talks to Yoongi. Then to Yoongi and Namjoon. Then Jimin is added to the list, and after that he just starts talking to everyone.
Yoongi kind of misses seeing Taehyung’s little tiger post-its around the house.
As for the cuddling, it becomes a thing.
A thing, where Yoongi will sometimes come home and find Taehyung’s now solid-looking legs poking out from under his blankets in his bed. Sometimes Taehyung is reading a book in the bed, sometimes he’s asleep.
And then it becomes a thing, where upon finding Taehyung in his bed Yoongi will just drop his bag on the floor and dive under the blankets and snuggle close, relaxing in the familiar warmth of Taehyung’s body.
From that, it’s only half a step, if even that, to Taehyung starting to sleep in Yoongi’s bed at night. At first it’s sporadic, a night here and there, and Yoongi gets why Taehyung gravitates toward any bed aside from the one in the guest bedroom—Yoongi wouldn’t want to sleep there either. They should really get a better mattress for the guest bed. But pretty soon it becomes a nightly occurrence, which then leads to all kinds of annoying consequences as far as Yoongi’s roommates are concerned.
Hoseok begins throwing finger-hearts whenever he sees Yoongi within two meters of Taehyung, and Seokjin bakes cakes that are all heart-shaped and pink. Namjoon looks a lot like he’s trying not to smile whenever he sees Yoongi, and Jungkook makes kissy faces at Yoongi when Taehyung turns his back, and Jimin starts humming love ballads whenever he’s in Yoongi’s vicinity.
In short, Yoongi’s housemates are the worst, and he hates all of them equally.
However, they mostly behave themselves when Taehyung is present—so really, can they blame Yoongi for latching onto Taehyung all day, every day?
The day when Taehyung’s hands become visible is the day when things change, in the best possible way.
Yoongi wakes up, groggy and sweaty and bleary-eyed, and overall feeling very much like a swamp monster of some kind, and the first thing he sees is the indentation on the pillow that’s caused by Taehyung’s head, accompanied by a faint outline of a hand next to it, palm up, fingers curled over it, relaxed.
Yoongi can’t tell if Taehyung is awake, so he watches him for a moment, waiting. Usually Taehyung says or does something to indicate he’s awake, but now there’s just a faint snuffling noise and Taehyung’s see-through fingers twitch a bit.
Yoongi swallows. Taehyung’s hands are very pretty, like he’s carefully kept them in pristine condition even without being able to see them. He’s taken off most of the bracelets he made in the beginning stages of his crash-course to all things fun, but he’s kept the one that’s almost identical to the one that’s around Yoongi’s wrist, only his is green where Yoongi’s is blue.
Yoongi swallows, and maybe he shouldn’t bring attention to Taehyung’s slowly-reemerging body, but he wants to touch Taehyung’s hand, now that he can see what he’s touching. He reaches out, a bit clumsily in his recently-awakened state, and brushes a fingertip lightly over the side of Taehyung’s palm. Taehyung inhales and his fingers twitch, but the touch doesn’t seem to wake him up.
Or then he’s just pretending to be asleep, because he’s done that a few times, cheekily, just to scare Yoongi while he’s been zoning off, staring at the even rise and fall of the blanket over Taehyung’s chest. Yoongi is glad Taehyung is finding his sense of humor, but he’s less joyful about the fact that Taehyung’s humor seems to be parallel with Jimin and Jungkook’s in that it’s really bad, albeit in an adorable way.
Yoongi squints at the spot where he assumes Taehyung’s face is. There’s no way of telling if he’s awake and watching, because he’s so good at acting like he’s asleep.
Yoongi extends his hand again, tracing his finger up the side of Taehyung’s palm, all the way to where his pinky is curled over it. Then he decides, fuck it, and slides his hand into Taehyung’s.
Taehyung was asleep, because now he wakes up. He startles, fingers reflexively tightening around Yoongi’s hand, and then he gasps.
Yoongi swallows. “Sorry I woke you up. I just—” Just what? Just wanted to hold Taehyung’s hand?
“I just saw your hand and I wanted to hold it.” Yoongi is pretty sure his ears are very red right now, but whatever.
Taehyung’s fingers entwine with Yoongi’s, the contrast between Yoongi’s solid knuckles and Taehyung’s ghost-like ones looking strange and wonderful at the same time.
“Okay.” Taehyung sounds like he’s smiling.
Yoongi wonders what his smile looks like and if he’ll get to see it soon. It’s taken several weeks for them to get to the point where they are now, and he’s the first to admit he’s a bit impatient to see Taehyung’s face. At the same time, he doesn’t want to put the pressure on Taehyung, and it’s not like he cares about Taehyung’s face that much.
What he cares about is Taehyung.
They’ve been cuddling and holding hands and sleeping in the same bed for some time now, so Yoongi figures perhaps it’s time to put it in words, to let it out into the world. It’s been like a softly-expanding little ball he’s let grow inside him—the feelings he’s kept between his teeth and behind his ears and in all those secret nooks and crannies of himself where he tends to hide the things he wants to keep close.
He doesn’t want to keep this thing close and hidden anymore, he wants to let it out so it has room to grow.
“I like you,” Yoongi whispers, rubbing his thumb softly against Taehyung’s.
Taehyung inhales sharply, then pauses for a moment before asking, “Really?”
Yoongi nods. “Yeah, really.”
“But you don’t even know what I look like,” Taehyung whispers.
Yoongi furrows his brows. “So? It doesn’t matter. I like you, face or no face.” He frowns. “Okay, that perhaps wasn’t worded in the best possible way.”
Taehyung pulls his hand away from Yoongi’s, but Yoongi discovers it’s not to get away from him and his weirdly-worded confessions—instead it seems to be so that Taehyung can get closer, because his translucent fingers cup Yoongi’s chin, pulling him in, and then Yoongi is almost smothered as he’s dragged in for the weirdest kiss he’s ever experienced. It’s weird because he doesn’t see the person he’s kissing, but he most definitely feels the kiss—the soft, wet pressure of lips on his, the fluttery inhale when their mouths connect, Taehyung’s nose rubbing against his—it’s all very tangible and very good. Well, aside from both of them being a bit morning-stale in the breath department, and sweaty from sleeping right in each other’s space—but aside from that, very good.
And if Yoongi closes his eyes it’s very much like regular kissing, and kissing with his eyes closed is better anyway, because closing his eyes gives more space for other senses to take in the situation—to taste and feel and touch and hear everything more sharply.
“I like you too,” Taehyung says when they detach from each other and Yoongi is sufficiently out of breath to warrant his heart going haywire in his chest.
Yoongi smiles, then reaches to brush his hand over Taehyung’s face, mapping by touch what he can’t see. Taehyung is still under the exploring fingers, his features beautifully sculpted, sharp and soft at just the right spots. Then Yoongi moves to comb his fingers through Taehyung’s hair, the unruly strands tangled from sleep.
“You’re beautiful,” Yoongi tells him. “I don’t need to see your face to know that. Beautiful, inside and out.”
Taehyung lets out a small whine, like he’s embarrassed, and then buries his face in Yoongi’s chest.
Yoongi hugs him close and drops a kiss on his hair, and the feeling of having finally stepped over the threshold from friendship into something more washes over him like the softest summer rain.
The soft and sweet sensation lasts until they go downstairs for breakfast. Jimin takes one look at their clasped hands, raises his eyebrows like huh, hands, and then smirks. “Hyung, your lips are a bit chapped, you need some lip balm?”
Right at this moment Yoongi envies the fact that no one can see Taehyung blushing, because clearly it means he has to do it for both of them.
It seems that everything else about Taehyung solidifies firmly in the realm of visibility, but nothing above his neckline makes an appearance. It goes on for so long that Taehyung starts lamenting it himself, like he’s doing something wrong because the rest of him is now visible but his head just refuses to cooperate.
“Give it some time,” Namjoon says gently when Taehyung leans his elbows on the kitchen island and huffs at his half-empty breakfast bowl one morning.
Taehyung slumps down on the barstool. “So much time has passed already, and I feel like I’m stuck like this, and it’s so annoying.”
Yoongi puts a hand on Taehyung’s arm, squeezing. “It’s gonna happen when it’s gonna happen. I don’t think stressing about it helps.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Taehyung sighs.
Seokjin appears in the kitchen doorway. “So hey, the barbeque tonight. I’m gonna go grocery shopping soon, so if you want something, write it on the list.” He points at the side table.
Taehyung wordlessly slides down from the barstool and goes to jot something down on Seokjin’s list.
“What did you request?” Yoongi asks when Taehyung comes back.
Taehyung doesn’t say anything, but Seokjin goes to peek at the list. “This just says bring me a new face, hyung.”
Taehyung makes an annoyed noise and crosses his arms over his chest. He seems to be in a lousy mood throughout the day, so Yoongi lets him be and hopes the barbeque in the evening will cheer him up a bit.
It all goes downhill at the barbeque.
Jimin’s brain-to-mouth filter does this thing where it simply stops existing after he’s had a few glasses of wine, and with Taehyung already snappy, the combination is highly flammable.
“I mean, we could always buy face paint,” Jimin says, three glasses of wine in, after Taehyung has sulked at the table without saying much throughout the meal. “Although I guess the effect would be like in that movie where the invisible man like, makes a silicone mask that goes over his face and ends up looking like a horror movie mannequin or a zombie dumpling.”
Taehyung huffs at the words. “Face paint. Funny.”
“Didn’t the guy also go insane and start killing people, or do I have the wrong movie in mind?” Jungkook asks from across the table, looking thoughtful.
“No, that’s the one,” Jimin says, grinning. “The murderous zombie dumpling.”
“Just the look I’d want to go for,” Taehyung mutters.
“Jimin-ah, Jungkook-ah, stop being assholes,” Yoongi mutters, reflexively reaching to grab Taehyung’s hand.
“No, it’s fine,” Taehyung says. He sounds upset.
Yoongi frowns. “You don’t sound fine. I just don’t want—”
“I said it’s fine.” Taehyung pulls his hand away from Yoongi’s. “You have to stop treating me like this,” he says, jumping up from his seat, his chair scraping the patio floor. “You have to let me deal with shit on my own, even if it’s not always fun.”
“What?” Yoongi blinks and stands up as well. “I was just trying to help—”
“You don’t have to treat me like I’m made of porcelain!” Taehyung snaps. “Don’t—don’t fucking coddle me, don’t treat me like if I face a minor inconvenience I’ll break or something, just don’t!”
Yoongi stands facing him, mouth open, but he can’t say anything, he can only stare—stare at Taehyung’s face, the most beautiful face he’s ever seen, even with Taehyung’s brows furrowed in anger and his mouth pressed to a tight line, because Taehyung’s face—
It’s visible. All of Taehyung is finally visible.
“Holy shit,” Hoseok says faintly somewhere behind Yoongi.
“You’re beautiful,” Yoongi says to Taehyung, a bit choked, because he’s touched that face, he’s kissed that face, and now he can finally see it and it’s gorgeous.
Taehyung’s eyes are big and very deep brown, his skin tan and golden, his lips full and pink, his jawline sharp and angular. His hair falls over his eyebrows, partially veiling his eyes, the strands dark and a bit curly, and Yoongi is still staring when Taehyung brings a hand to his face and brushes his hair aside, shocked.
“My face,” he whispers. “I can see my hair, is my face—”
“So beautiful,” Yoongi says again, “Oh my—I’m gonna kiss you now, sorry, we can continue fighting in a little bit, but I just need to—”
Taehyung doesn’t let him finish, but instead he steps closer and pulls Yoongi into a kiss that’s so rough that their teeth clack together. Yoongi closes his eyes as they kiss, but then pulls back from it pretty quickly because he just wants to see every little detail. He can’t stop touching Taehyung’s face, can’t stop looking.
He knew the basic shape of Taehyung’s face by touch, but now he gets to zoom in on the details—on the way Taehyung’s cupid’s bow forms a perfect little dip at the center, and there’s a tiny little mole right on the edge of his lower lip, and another one at the tip of his nose. His eyes are gleaming with unshed tears by the time Yoongi gets to the end of his scrutiny and kisses him again.
“So beautiful,” Yoongi mutters against Taehyung’s lips. “Inside and out.”
“You guys are gross,” Jimin comments from behind them. “But also kind of cute.”
Yoongi ignores Jimin’s commentary. “I’m not gonna stop kissing you, so can we postpone the fight until tomorrow or something?” He holds Taehyung’s face between his hands, their breaths mingling, and then kisses him again.
“I don’t wanna fight with you,” Taehyung says, smiling into the kiss.
“You should maybe take this to your room or something?” Seokjin suggests in a tone that’s kind but with an undertone of please take your face-sucking elsewhere, I’m trying to eat here.
“Yeah, let’s go,” Yoongi finally says, pulling Taehyung by the hand into the house, through the hallway and up the stairs and into his room. He almost falls down the stairs, because he keeps glancing back to see that Taehyung’s face is still there.
They settle down on Yoongi’s bed and Yoongi busies himself with tracing every little detail of Taehyung’s face with his eyes, while they talk for a bit. Yoongi would like nothing more than to just stare at Taehyung for hours, but he can do that and talk at the same time; he can multitask.
“I’m sorry I’ve been overbearing and too protective,” Yoongi says. “It’s just, when you came here you seemed so vulnerable and fragile, I guess I didn’t realize the growth you’ve gone through.”
“No, I think—It’s probably good. Because it pushed me, made me annoyed. I think I needed to get annoyed. To get angry.” Taehyung purses his lips, and Yoongi’s eyes follow the movement, all new and exciting now that he finally gets to witness it all visually. “I felt like something shifted in me, when I got angry. And then this happened.” He gestures at his face.
So that’s what was missing—anger. Taehyung wasn’t able to become visible before he got to experience all those suppressed feelings—the good as well as the bad—and learn to defend himself, to deal with things on his own.
The full range of human emotion, and Taehyung has all of it now.
And Yoongi has Taehyung, who is the most beautiful human being, inside and out.