Taehyung loves a lot of things. He loves theater, his dog, his family, and his best friend Park Jimin. He loves strawberry ice cream and laughing so hard his stomach aches (he is a man of simple pleasures). But he’s only in love with one thing, and that’s the cute boy who works in the tech booth and helps out the drama department with their shows. He doesn’t even know his name, but something about the way the boy presses buttons and makes magic happen tugs at Taehyung’s heartstrings. (It doesn’t help that the boy has a jawline that could slice steel and a rare smile that makes his stomach flip).
“Bro,” Taehyung hears from behind him, and he turns to see Jimin, his number one bro. They’ve been friends since they were both five, and they even wrote up a friendship contract that requires that all serious conversations start with “bro.” That’s how they know it’s going to be deep. “You’re staring at the tech booth again. One day tech booth boy is going to notice.”
“Oh, Jiminipabro,” Taehyung says with a laugh, winking at his best friend and ignoring the glare boring holes into his skull. “I’m a master of stealth. He’ll never notice me. After all, I am the lead in ‘Newsies’ for a reason.”
“Taetae, you’re awful at stealth. Remember when you had a crush on Jin and followed him everywhere? He knew, Taehyung. He knew,” Jimin utters solemnly, his eyes meeting Taehyung’s.
Taehyung laughs again -- other than acting, it’s the one thing he’s good at. “That’s because Jin-hyung has a sixth sense. It’s a mom thing.”
“Tech booth boy might have one, too! You never know!” Jimin’s voice gets progressively louder until Taehyung’s forced to clamp a hand over his best friend’s mouth. Jimin fights his grip with a vengeance, his fingernails practically carving an epithet into Taehyung’s wrist.
“You’ll blow my cover. This is a mission of stealth,” Taehyung hisses, releasing Jimin. The other boy folds his arms unhappily and frowns.
“You’re standing five feet from the booth and you’re not exactly the quietest person around,” Jimin deadpans, a reproachful look on his face. “Why don’t you just talk to him? What could go wrong?”
“Why didn’t I just think of that? I’m Kim Taehyung, lead in the school musical. I can do this,” Taehyung announces triumphantly, a scene blossoming in the garden he calls his mind. Him and the cute tech booth boy, smiling and laughing, hand in hand, sneaking loving looks when they think the other isn’t looking. Taehyung can see it now: he’ll stride up to the booth confidently, introduce himself, and proceed to charm the pants off of him, and in five minutes he’ll have a name, a number, and a date.
Oh, yeah. He’s got this.
“Good luck, bro,” Jimin whispers, and they make sure to do their secret handshake before Taehyung walks three steps to the tech booth, where he’ll meet his future boyfriend for the first time. “You can do this, I believe in you.”
As casually as he can, he leans up against the door of the small room, inhaling the scent of new computer. A smile is already on his face as he nods at the boy and says, “Hey.” And then the boy looks up, and everything goes to hell.
Taehyung swears that time freezes. He does, too, but that doesn’t really matter. He’s too busy getting lost in the beautiful deep brown eyes framed by one of the finest faces he’s ever seen. Is he wearing eyeliner? Taehyung bemoans, resisting the urge to tuck his tail between his legs and flee, because holy fuck, this boy is as beautiful as they come. His mind is blank when time snaps back into the present, and he scours his mind for anything funny to say.
“I’m Kim Taehyung,” he manages, almost robotically -- for a second there he forgot his name -- and then, all in one long line: “What’s your favorite drink at Starbucks? Wait, you don’t have to tell me, you can just show me when we go together. You know, on a date. I’m sensing that you’re a dark roast, no cream, no sugar kind of guy.”
Oh, yeah. Definitely nailed this one.
“I don’t even like coffee,” the cute tech booth boy says with a sigh, “please leave me alone.”
Taehyung isn’t about to be put off by this boy’s dismissive attitude. He needs to at least put a name to this face from the heavens. “Is what you’re working on so important that you can’t even tell me a name?”
The boy doesn’t even give him a second glance, just continues to fiddle with the board in front of him, a frown on his face. Taehyung lingers for another minute, just watching his hands mess with the dials, his heart longing for at least a smile before he runs back into Jimin’s arms. When it becomes clear that Taehyung has lost this particular battle, he retreats the five feet back to where Jimin’s lying in wait.
“Bitterly rejected, bro,” he says before Jimin can even question the frown on his face. “I didn’t even get his name.”
“Taetae, don’t worry. Jin-hyung or Yoongi-hyung will know. They’re both friends with Namjoon, and Yoongi’s the president of the AV Club, so we’re solid. You’ll get his name,” Jimin pats Taehyung’s shoulder consolingly, shaking his head lightly.
“What would I do without you, Jiminie,” Taehyung cries, wrapping his arms around his best friend’s neck like an anaconda would. Except Taehyung’s a human, not a snake, and he doesn’t give Jimin hugs so he can suffocate him and then eat him. Why would he want to eat Jimin, anyways? Jimin is his best friend, and he’s so lucky to have him. They’re two of a kind, one and the same, and Taehyung would probably die without him.
“You two!” The director shouts from offstage, and Taehyung jumps, looking around wildly. “Do practice your lines! You two both have very important roles, and we can’t have you forgetting what to say on opening night, can we?”
“No, director, we cannot! We are off to immerse ourselves in the world of Newsies, and truly become Jack and Les! Forward march, Jiminie, we have work to do!” Taehyung orders, the frown on his face now a shit-eating grin planted firmly below his nose. His hand is in salute position, and he spares one glance at the tech booth, where the cute boy still sits.
Some day. He’ll get his name, number, and love some day.
It’s at the next rehearsal for Newsies that Taehyung sees the cute boy from the tech booth. He's in the middle of reciting his lines when his gaze snags on a head of black hair and brown eyes, and he freezes where he stands, his mind an empty slate.
He inwardly scrambles for any instance of his next line, but his brain has suddenly decided to wipe itself clean. Except instead of just clearing out the cobwebs Taehyung knows are there (he hasn’t paid attention in school in years), it’s completely annihilated all of his database. He can see the little people in his head now, running around frantically, searching for anything that even resembles something Jack from Newsies would say.
“Taehyung-ah,” the director says, snapping him out of his trance. A frown rests upon his face. “Do you need your line?”
“Uh,” is all that comes out of his mouth. It’s unfair, really, that even a little glimpse of the boy of his dreams, the cute tech booth boy with eyes the size of the moon and hands that look like they’d be nice to hold, should send his pulse racing and his hands clammy. But here he is, and he has a heart going a mile a minute and sweaty hands. “Yes. I need my line.”
Taehyung has no idea what the director says next, because the boy is standing up from his seat, and Taehyung’s eyes are locked on his collarbones, which are on full display from where his shirt collar hangs. His biceps flex as he uses the table to help himself up, and Taehyung’s mouth goes even drier than it already has been.
“Sir?” The boy calls, and everyone in the theater turns to look at him. Taehyung’s convinced that choirs of angels sing their praises when he opens his mouth. His ear is pierced and it gleams under the stage lights, and Taehyung is so, so, so weak. “We’ve encountered a problem with the sound system, and I don’t know how to fix it. Can you call Namjoon-hyung in, please?”
“On it,” Jin says easily, stepping out from backstage with Namjoon in tow. “Hello, sir, I apologize for my tardiness. I was talking to the counselor about university and lost track of time.” He bows, and Taehyung’s gaze slides onto the director, who’s adorning a loving smile. The director adores Jin, but, honestly, who wouldn’t? If cute tech booth boy is an angel then Jin is an archangel, all sharp cheekbones but soft smiles, with a personality to match.
“It’s okay, Seokjin-ah. I had Seungkwan read for your part. We’re in Scene Four.” The director smiles at him and then lounges back in his seat below the stage. “Taehyung. It’s all you.”
Just as Taehyung opens his mouth to speak, though, Namjoon’s voice filters through his ears from the tech booth. “Excuse me? Sir, I can’t figure this out. I don’t know what’s going on with it.”
“Who’s the president of the AV Club?”
“Uh, that’s Yoongi-hyung, but he’s taking a nap and I’d really like to make it home today in one piece,” Namjoon stutters, running a hand through his hair nervously. Taehyung can’t blame him for being nervous, because waking Yoongi is like waking a sleeping bear, except Yoongi is probably a little more dangerous.
“I’ll go,” Jimin pipes up from the back, his hand barely visible from behind the majority of the chorus. “Taetae, let’s go. Yoongi-hyung loves us.”
“Alright, everyone, take five,” the director agrees with a sigh, and as Jimin grabs Taehyung’s arm, he thinks he hears the director say, “good luck, you’ll need it.” Yoongi is infamous throughout their school for his knack of napping in peculiar places. Nobody dares wake him up, either; they’ve all heard the stories about his freshman year, when a teacher tried to arouse him during class.
On the way to the AV Club room, Taehyung makes sure to say, “You’re the one waking him up, he’s your boyfriend.” Like Namjoon, he values his life, and he’d really like to come out of today alive.
“That was the plan!” Jimin chirps, bounding down the hallway with a smile. Taehyung grins and matches time with him until they reach their destination and push open the door.
“Yoongi-hyung!” Taehyung calls once they enter, shaking Jimin’s hand off of his wrist. The eldest is passed out on the couch, his pillow smushed in his face. It muffles his snores. “We’ve come to request your assistance! The tech booth boys need you downstairs because there’s a problem with the sound system.”
“Fuck off, Taehyung,” Yoongi mumbles, turning over on the cushions. “I don’t need your loud ass voice right now.”
“But you need my loud ass voice, right?” Jimin asks hopefully, creeping up to where Yoongi lies. He dares to poke the sleeping beast’s cheek, a sweet smile on his face. Taehyung watches as Yoongi opens his eyes, prepared to smack whoever woke him up this time, but refrains once he sees that it’s his boyfriend. His eyes visibly soften, and he motions for Jimin to join him on the couch.
Everyone says that Yoongi’s a hardass, but Taehyung knows the truth: Yoongi is a softie, through and through. For Jimin, at least.
“Hyung, I love you, but I can’t right now. Rehearsals are going on and Namjoon and that freshman that Taehyung’s crushing on need you in the booth.” Jimin’s lower lip bubbles over in a pout, and if possible, Yoongi’s heart eyes get even more intense. Yoongi is so whipped; this much is obvious.
“Fine, but only because you asked,” Yoongi says gruffly, wiping the sleep from his eyes and grabbing Jimin’s welcoming hand. They hold hands the entire way back down to the stage, and something in Taehyung yearns to hold cute tech booth boy’s hand like that. It makes him a little sad, but the stage is a place to be someone you’re not, and so Taehyung files it away for later when he has a fresh dose of strawberry ice cream and a new episode of Orange Is The New Black.
“We’re back!” Taehyung shouts when they enter, and the director just sighs and points for Taehyung to get into position.
The rest of rehearsal flies by, and more often than not, Taehyung’s eyes catch on the youngest boy in the tech booth.
“Bro, you look a little distracted,” Jimin whispers to him during one of their rare breaks, and Taehyung snaps out of his trance just long enough to nod. Then he’s back to being the weird zombie who just stares at the tech booth, and Jimin shakes his head with a sigh and returns to his phone.
Another whole week of rehearsals passes, and Taehyung still has no idea what cute tech booth boy’s name is. He’s increasingly mopey offstage, but if anyone notices they don’t really say anything. Honestly, he just wants to know his name, and he doesn’t want anyone but the boy to tell him. Preferably over a cup of coffee for him and a cup of whatever the other boy wants, but whatever. He’ll settle for casual conversation in between scenes in the theater.
“Dude, your pining is wafting off of you in auras. Namjoon is the most oblivious person I know, and even he’s wondered why you keep eye-fucking the freshman in the tech booth. Oh, yeah, by the way, Yoongi told me his name, and it’s--”
“Jiminie. First, I’m not eye-fucking the cute tech booth boy, I’m just...admiring. There’s a subtle difference. And second, he needs to tell me his name himself otherwise it’s just a lost cause and I lose all pride whatsoever.” Taehyung explains, cupping his chin in his hands and looking up at his best friend expectantly. If anyone will understand why he’s being weird about the cute boy, it’s Jimin.
“Go talk to him, then! I talked to him for a little bit the other day and he’s a little bratty, but hey. Whatever you’re into, bro.” Jimin kneels next to him and pats his back. “Go for it.”
“I’m good,” Taehyung responds absentmindedly, his gaze already sliding back towards the cagey-looking tech booth. He’s checked out of the conversation, and besides, the boy obviously didn’t want to talk to him. As much as he wants to date the fuck out of the freshman, Taehyung knows about boundaries and he wants to respect them.
“Taetae, you’ll talk to him right now or I go into your League account and delete it.” Jimin threatens, and Taehyung freezes.
“I would. Go talk to him.” Jimin says smugly, like he knows he’s won. He has. Jimin knows Taehyung well enough to know that aside from theater, League of Legends is his life, and if that’s taken away from him, he’ll probably die a slow, painful, agonizing death.
Best friends are such masochists.
With a heavy sigh, he gets up and plods over to the tech booth, pausing every once in a while to send Jimin sad looks. They’re promptly ignored in favor of cooing over his phone, and Taehyung figures he’s probably texting Yoongi, because that’s the look he gets whenever his boyfriend’s involved. The tech booth looms ever closer with every step he takes, and before he knows it he’s leaning up against the metal door of the booth with a grin plastered on his face.
“Are you busy this time?” He asks, feeling sufficiently awkward, and then the boy looks up and their eyes meet for the second time ever and Taehyung suddenly feels convinced that they must be soulmates. There’s no way that this much electricity can run down his spine when the younger looks at him if they aren’t soulmates. The boy shakes his head, not breaking eye contact, and Taehyung thanks every god up in heaven for this golden opportunity. “Okay, good,” he manages to say without stuttering, even though his tongue is like dead weight in his mouth.
“Is there a reason why you want to talk to me?” The boy says out of nowhere, looking unimpressed as Taehyung nervously smooths down his hair. “If you’re asking me out, it’s a no. I don’t date.”
“Maybe I could change your mind?” Taehyung smiles, eyes pleading for the boy to say yes. When the boy’s face turns stony, he changes his tactic so he makes it out of this alive. “I’m just kidding,” and then, under his breath: “I think.” Louder, he says, “I want to be friends with you. Talk to you during breaks and sit with you at lunch. Text you stupid stuff and make you laugh. The works.”
“Why?” The boy asks, his face still impassive. Taehyung tries not to feel too intimidated. “You don’t even know my name.”
“Well, I will if you tell me,” suggests Taehyung with an eyebrow wag. “And I don’t know. You seem interesting.” He says “interesting” in the hopes that the boy is really good at picking up subtext and understands that Taehyung thinks he’s pretty and wants to kiss him.
“I’m Jeongguk,” the other says after a long silence, and fuck, even mention of his name sends Taehyung’s heart reeling. “Jeon Jeongguk. And if you want, I leave every day at six and I live on Eulji Road, in case you want to walk me home.”
“Sounds good,” Taehyung says with a smile, and it takes all of the willpower he has in his noodly arms and his 178cm frame to not bounce off the walls with happiness. “I’ll see you then!”
“Yeah, I guess,” Jeongguk (a beautiful name for a beautiful face, in Taehyung’s humble opinion) says listlessly, offering Taehyung a small smile and an eyebrow raise. Taehyung skips off to Jimin to thank him endlessly. The director yells something like “break’s over,” and Taehyung goes through the rest of rehearsal in a daze.
At six, he knows where he’ll be.
The walk home is awkward, to say the least. Jeongguk doesn’t talk at all and Taehyung talks too much, which seems like it would balance out, but talking to yourself when there’s another person beside you gets boring really quickly.
“What’s your favorite movie?” Taehyung wonders out loud, his gaze set on the sky above him and, for once, not the boy beside him. When there’s no response, he continues anyways, “What about TV? Are you a cable TV or a Netflix guy, Jeongguk? You strike me like a cable TV kind of guy. How do you feel about Netflix and chill? Have you ever Netflixed and chilled? Is Netflixed even a real word?”
Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. No words come out of Jeongguk’s mouth, and Taehyung tries not to feel too disappointed. Jeongguk isn’t really all that talkative anyways, and he’ll break down his walls eventually. Taehyung falls silent after a while, content to just soak in the presence of the boy next to him. It’s not often that you get to stand right next to angels.
Finally, Jeongguk speaks, but they’re not exactly words that Taehyung wants to hear. “We’re here. This is my house. I’ll see you tomorrow, Taehyung-ssi. Thanks for walking me home.”
“Oh, uh, bye, Jeonggukkie! See you tomorrow!” Taehyung calls, waving to the boy as he walks up his front step. There isn’t a response, and Taehyung feels a little disheartened.
His left side feels empty as he walks home, and he tries not to think about how natural it felt to have Jeongguk there with him. He’s already in deep enough, and if he’s going to be friends with Jeongguk, then he needs to make his crush a little more lowkey. He’s always been one for the “friends to lovers” couple aesthetic anyways.
One walk home turns to two, three, four, five, and so on. Taehyung knows that one day he’ll get Jeongguk to crack, and then he’ll laugh at the stupid things he comes up with daily and Taehyung will get his number and then they’ll talk all the time and be inseparable and Jeongguk will realize he likes Taehyung in that way, and the rest will be history. Taehyung has it all planned out. It’s been written in the stars. It’s God’s divine plan. It’s bound to happen.
His plan is set back a step one day when Jeongguk isn’t there. Rehearsals are picking up and they need the AV Club more than ever, but when they need Jeongguk most, he vanishes. Namjoon is left to pick up the slack, and while rehearsal stills runs smoothly that day, something is off.
So Taehyung takes it upon himself to find out why exactly Jeongguk isn’t there. “Hey, Jiminie, I’m heading out,” he says to his best friend, and then, almost as an afterthought, “Mr. Director! I’m leaving, I have something to do!”
He doesn’t stay long enough to hear either his best friend or the director, and he’s following the familiar walk to Jeongguk’s house almost on instinct. It takes less time than usual because he practically sprints there, and when Jeongguk’s mother opens the door he’s sweaty and panting. Not exactly the best first impression he could make on his friend’s mother, but he’s preoccupied with Jeongguk at the moment, so he can’t find in himself to care.
“Oh, you’re the boy who’s walked Jeongguk home for the past three and a half weeks. My son never tells me anything, so I have to ask: are you two dating?” She asks warmly, opening the door and gesturing Taehyung in.
“Ah, no,” he answers once he’s caught his breath, “we’re just friends. I’m here to check up on him because he wasn’t here. Is he okay?”
“He’s come down with a cold. He’s upstairs if you want to see him, just let me tell him,” she smiles, and then hollers up the stairs, “JEONGGUK! YOUR FRIEND IS HERE TO SEE YOU! MAKE YOURSELF PRESENTABLE!”
Taehyung doesn’t tell her that he doesn’t care what Jeongguk looks like, because he’ll be beautiful no matter his state. He scales the steps, taking two at a time, and sticks his nose in every room until he finds the right one. Jeongguk is lying on his bed, covers pulled up to his armpit, and a sullen look sits on his face.
“Hey, Jeongguk, I came to check on you,” Taehyung chirps, sitting down on the edge of his bed and setting his backpack on the floor. “How are you feeling?”
“Shitty,” Jeongguk rasps, “I don’t want to talk today. You do all the talking.”
“Isn’t that usually how it works?” Taehyung grins from ear to ear, but he heeds Jeongguk’s command and before long he’s rambling on about his day and how Jimin and Yoongi are gross and that the director needs to pull the stick out of his ass and how he thinks that school is dumb and that he just wants to be an actor when he graduates.
He almost misses the small, fond smile that’s on Jeongguk’s face when he stands up to leave. It’s tiny, really; just a few miniscule lines, but something about it makes his chest ache with want and need. “Bye, Jeonggukkie! See you tomorrow!”
“Bye, hyung,” is all that Jeongguk says, but the knowing smile on his mother’s face when Taehyung descends the stairs tells him all he needs to know.
“You’re good for him,” she comments when he leaves, and he spares a moment to turn back and blind her with a smile. “Thank you for making him smile.”
“It’s all I want to see him do,” he manages to get out right before she shuts the door, and then he’s out in the dark and cold and it’s nine o’clock at night and he’s done none of his homework, but whatever. He made Jeongguk smile, and if that isn’t worth getting a zero on some assignments, then nothing is.
Jeongguk is back the next day at school, and Taehyung’s antsy all day for rehearsal to arrive so he can talk to Jeongguk during the breaks. He usually just perches on the counter next to the soundboard and prattles on. Jeongguk’s just started to respond a little, leaning back in his seat and slowly opening up about himself. Before long, Taehyung knows that his favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla, he likes Netflix better than cable TV, and that he prefers hot chocolate to tea but he’ll drink either. He still doesn’t like coffee, though, which is probably his only flaw.
Jeongguk’s smile is more frequent now, too; sometimes Taehyung will glance over at him during rehearsal, and Jeongguk will flash him a variety of smiles. There’s his happy one, the one where he shows all of his teeth (this one usually appears when Taehyung’s made him laugh), and there’s the amused one, where the corners of his mouth turn up and a small sound makes its way out of his throat.
Taehyung feels a little bad for Jimin because he’s barely talked to him for about two weeks straight now, but this is only karma. When Yoongi and Jimin got together, Jimin never talked to Taehyung. This is just Taehyung’s way of getting him back.
Dress rehearsals smack Taehyung in the face before he knows it, and suddenly he’s scrambling to finalize costumes and learn lines and do everything he probably should have done before. When he walks Jeongguk home, he recites his lines as dramatically as he can, but he’s more focused on the angelic laugh that sounds out of Jeongguk’s mouth than the lines themselves.
The second-to-last dress rehearsal starts out okay, even though Taehyung is majorly behind schedule on everything he has to do. “Hey, Jeongguk, I can’t walk you home today, I’m sorry. I have to run lines with Jin-hyung and get fitted for my costume again by Sana, and I’ll be here until ten, probably.” Taehyung apologizes, clasping the younger boy’s hands in his own, which is probably as close as he’ll ever get to holding Jeongguk’s hand.
“I’ll stay, hyung. It feels weird going home without you,” Jeongguk says with a small smile, and Taehyung resists the urge to get down on his knees and praise Jesus.
“Okay, I’ll be running lines if you want to assist me!” Taehyung releases Jeongguk’s hands and runs off to fetch his script and clamber into his costume. It’s only three o’clock, and he has all the time in the world, but his lines have been forgotten in favor of walking Jeongguk home everyday, and he’d like to have them down pat before he debuts on stage on Friday.
Holy shit, the show is two days away and all Taehyung can think about is the curve of Jeongguk’s smile. God works in cruel ways sometimes.
The curtain opens and Taehyung wipes his mind of any and all thoughts of Jeongguk. It’s time to be Jack Kelly, not Kim Taehyung.
He leaps off of his bunk bed.
“Wake up, Crutchy - the world is waitin’,” Taehyung says, and his voice echoes through the empty auditorium. The actor playing Crutchy - Taehyung’s pretty sure his name is Kyungsoo, but with so many people involved in this production, it’s hard to know who’s who - mimes rolling over and yawning.
“Tell Mr. Pulitzer my yacht was lost at sea,” Kyungsoo intones, and Taehyung grabs the crutch from where it’s leaning against the bunk bed and tosses it at him. The rest of the boys arise and they all launch into “Carryin’ the Banner.”
And that’s when the actor portraying Racetrack Higgins falls out of his bed. The noise his ankle makes as it smashes against the polished wooden floor is one that Taehyung doesn’t know if he’ll be able to forget, and he winces as the director shouts, “STOP! STOP, STOP, STOP! VERNON, ARE YOU OKAY?”
“Uh,” Vernon says, clutching his ankle, his face contorted with pain. “No.”
“Fuck,” Taehyung mutters under his breath, crouching down to lift Vernon up. He staggers under the weight, and suddenly Jeongguk is at his side.
“Hyung, set him down, I’ll take him to the nurse.” Jeongguk says quietly, and Taehyung does exactly as he commands. He should really be focused on Vernon and his probably broken ankle, but his eyes are fixed on the way Jeongguk’s biceps flex when he lifts Vernon into his arms. “Come with me.”
“Uh,” Taehyung says loudly, his face aflame. Jeongguk’s biceps are proof that God really does exist, even if he does questionable things sometimes. “We’re taking him to the nurse.”
The director is too stressed to even say a word, and he waves them both out. Jeongguk and Taehyung are silent on the way to the nurse, and the only noise is Vernon’s harsh breathing. They drop him off and immediately head back. Taehyung figures his boyfriend - Seungkwan or something - will go check on him later, so they don’t have to worry about him. What they do have to worry about is who will fulfill his role. Racetrack is a huge character in the musical, and while the show could go on without Specs or Romeo or Kid Blink, it can’t go on without Racetrack Higgins.
It hits Taehyung suddenly, almost like a freight train to the face. “Hey, Jeongguk, you’re really good at memorizing, right?”
Jeongguk looks frightened when he responds, “Yeah?”
Taehyung stops him in the middle of the hallway and backs him up against a wall, grabbing Jeongguk’s hands. “Would you be willing to fill in for Vernon and play Racetrack Higgins? Please. The director is super stressed enough already and losing an actor will only make him lose his head. You’re perfect for the role, plus you and Vernon are about the same size. Do me a favor here, Jeonggukkie.”
Taehyung can see the clear regret in his eyes as he slumps under Taehyung’s grip. “Sure, hyung.”
“You’re a lifesaver, Jeonggukkie, oh my god, I could kiss you.” Taehyung yells, dragging Jeongguk back to the theater.
He realizes later what he said, and moans all about it to Jimin, who just laughs at him and says, “This’ll be a fun story to tell your kids.”
Opening night is finally here. Taehyung isn’t sure whether he should jump for joy or shit his pants. Probably both, but he’d make sure to do the second offstage because accidents onstage are both embarrassing and unprofessional.
“Taehyung, I can’t do this,” Jeongguk’s voice comes from behind him, panicky and high-pitched. “I’ve never acted on a stage before, and I’m going to look out into the crowd and forget every single one of my lines. This is going to be a disaster, why did I agree to this again? I’m just the tech booth kid, I don’t belong onstage.”
“Well,” Taehyung says cheerily, slinging an arm around Jeongguk’s shoulder, “now you do. You can do this, Jeonggukkie. You’ve worked harder than I did. You’re going to knock everyone’s socks off.”
“I hate you,” Jeongguk grumbles, but the panic in his eyes is gone and the hint of a smile lingers on his face.
“Time for the show! Look at me if you’re freaking out. I’ll calm you down.”
“Okay, hyung, sounds like a plan. Thank you,” Jeongguk says, and his eyes are soft, softer than Yoongi’s when he looks at Jimin. And then, without warning, Jeongguk leans forward and presses a kiss to Taehyung’s cheek.
Taehyung freezes while everyone else gets into position, and then the director screams at him to lay down, so he complies, but his mind is still stuck on the feel of Jeongguk’s lips on his cheek.
Huh, he thinks. So they are as soft as I imagined.
The show passes without a hitch. Everyone loves it, and they get a standing ovation. Taehyung’s grin stretches from ear to ear as people throw flowers and praises their way, and he looks down the line of castmates and sees that they’re all smiling just as wide as he is, if not wider. Jeongguk, particularly, wears an unfiltered smile, and it’s the happiest Taehyung’s ever seen him. Something soft settles into his chest, and after the curtain is closed and they’re all backstage celebrating their success and the fact that they get to do it six more times, Taehyung hunts Jeongguk down.
“Hey,” he says, leaning up against the metal door of the tech booth, where Jeongguk’s taken refuge. “You did great out there.”
“You, too,” Jeongguk says, and there’s that fucking smile again, the one that makes Taehyung weak at the knees and short of breath.
“Now or never,” he mutters under his breath, and then he ducks under the doorframe, leans down, and presses his lips against Jeongguk’s. From behind him, he hears Jimin call, “ABOUT DAMN TIME!”
He ignores the catcalls in favor of kissing Jeongguk even harder. They break apart eventually, and Taehyung loops an arm around Jeongguk’s waist, their smiles identical.
“God, I’ve wanted to do that since the first time I saw you,” Taehyung tells him, breathless, and something inside his chest blossoms and becomes a full-fledged flower. “So,” he says, slipping his hand into Jeongguk’s back pocket. “What’s your favorite drink at Starbucks?”
“I don’t like coffee,” Jeongguk says, looking at him with a smile.
“I’ll get you some hot chocolate, then,” Taehyung amends, and that’s that.
Jimin was right. This will be a good story to tell the kids.