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Copper-like Days

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“And Namjoon hyung said that- Hey, you’ve got that look again.”

“Huh?” Taehyung looks up from his tray, abandoning the stray peas he couldn’t stab with his fork. “What look?”

Jimin leans forward and presses his index finger on the wrinkles in between Taehyung’s eyebrows. “The look you get when you’re thinking too hard about something and want to potentially take a life.” He massages the skin until he feels the other relax and pulls back. “So?”

Taehyung bites the inside of his cheek, jutting out his bottom lip. “Am I really that scary?”

Jimin chuckles at the squeak of the other’s voice, “No, you aren’t, you big goof. Why? Did someone say something to you? Tell me the name and I’ll get Yoongi hyung on their ass.”

“Well, you know I’ve been busy with my Oceanology project so I haven’t been going out. And when I do, the first thing I hear are people whispering about how I’m with this illegal organization doing who-knows-what!” Taehyung throws his hands on his face, not missing the flinches of other students around them. “I was just testing homemade glacial activity, not burying a body…”

“T-There, there. None of them would’ve thought you to be a marine-bio major.” Jimin forces out a laugh, trying to lighten the mood. “They all think you’re in some heavy major, like Law Enforcement; I’ve even heard a few say you’re 10 years older than you actually are and take supplementary courses!”

Taehyung responds with a groan and slumps onto the table, almost knocking his tray off.

“Sorry, sorry…” Jimin hesitantly ruffles the other’s hair. “Hey, how about I treat you some of that off-campus boba, yeah?”

“The red bean one shaped like stars?” Taehyung lifts his head, looking at his best friend expectantly.

Jimin’s eyes soften as he smiles wide. “Yeah, that one. And maybe some of that burdock kimbap.”

--

Taehyung is handsome, extremely so. He had always been fussed over back in his primary school days by teachers, befriended practically the whole school in a matter of a week and even won over his grumpy old neighbor who never seemed to leave her house without her three Chowchows. Those were his golden days, one would say.

But as he grew older, appearances and first impressions became everything. His face became sharper, eyes darker and brows more prominent. He had put on stress from all the schoolwork he was responsible for and wasn’t as carefree as he was before. Trying to live up to his parents expectations, he immersed himself in improving his grades when he had to and only cracked jokes when he was with his close friends. Not a healthy lifestyle for a growing child.

Taehyung had met Jimin in high school; he practically fell in love with the bundle of pure joy, insisting on adopting the other as his younger brother despite being just a few months older. Even though Jimin was a workaholic in his own way, he eased himself in Taehyung’s life, guiding him and being the cushion he needed when he broke. By the end of their three years, they became inseparable. Taehyung let loose more often than not with Jimin always by his side to tone the other’s excitement down just a notch. Those were his silver days, one would say, not perfect but desirable enough to want to recall.

Maybe it was the accident before their freshman year of college, or maybe it was the incident involving his best friend, or maybe it was both because silver turned to copper in a matter of seconds.

Taehyung loved, loves being with children. It reminded him of when he was younger, so wild, so innocent, so much of what he wanted to be that he felt like if he spent more time around them, he’d finally be. Along with Jimin, they decided to volunteer for a local orphanage on the week before they were to move into their dorms. They facilitated events, put up shows and even joined in on the activities with excitement and wonder.

The orphanage managed to rent out a small water park for the last day of their events. Jimin, content with watching, stayed on the sidelines; only joining in if one of the children were too scared to ride the slide. Taehyung, on the other hand, went wild. Wild as in ‘I’m gonna go on all the rides today, Jiminnie, and I don’t care if I pass the maximum height limit for half of them!’

And, of course, he would get hurt. He did, actually, but surprisingly not on the rides where he was prohibited from. Well…it wasn’t from a ride at all. Taehyung had managed to finish all but one and with his adrenaline skyrocketing, he zoomed past all the children, ignoring their tired squealing. Right when Jimin called for his best friend to be careful of the floatie on the floor, it was too late. Taehyung had already stepped on it, slipped and skidded on his back until physics decided it had enough of giving the poor boy pain.

Taehyung was hospitalized for 10 days, missed his first few classes and felt miserable. Except, well, the times Jimin visited and bought him his favorite strawberry cakes.

Entering college with a bandaged back and a cast on his left hand was not how Taehyung wanted to start The Next Best Years of His Life. He also didn’t forsee himself caught in between two members of the football team who towered over him, behind the main building, at 6 in the evening, with Jimin slightly trembling right by his side. No, he did not expect this because he was pretty sure he was not in a shoujo manga.

Jimin had somehow provoked these 2-meter tall titans from whoever-the-fuck-knows because Jimin can get like that, acting all tough yet can’t hurt a mosquito. He had justified it by saying that it’d disrupt the food chain and the ecosystem will collapse. Poor, poor Park Jimin, that’s not how Mother Nature works.

So, Taehyung with his casted back and hand and a very much frightened Park Jimin cowering behind him decided to do what he thought would be best. Fight? Ha, no. He was not that reckless. Run? Yeah, that was the plan. He bidded Jimin a farewell before he tripped, once again, on a large rock and face planted on the gravel. What could get worse? The fact that Taehyung, already still in the process of healing, injured himself yet again, but now adding in a swollen eye and a few cuts on the cheeks or the fact that those football titans weren’t there to fight but to recruit Jimin onto their team for the upcoming season because yeah, totally recruit a freshman 0 meters tall, behind the main building, at 6 in the evening by surrounding him. Yeah, absolutely reasonable.

And Taehyung enters the next day to rumors of him being in the mafia, but he isn’t because hello? They’re in Korea for fuck’s sake. He’d be labeled as extremely clumsy if it weren’t for those two giants dragging a black-eyed Taehyung out from behind the building, at 6 in the evening to bring him to his dorm.

Ha ha, the start of his copper days. Copper because he still has enough hope for it to somehow get better. Maybe.

--

Taehyung steps on the heels of his green converse and flings his jacket on the hook behind the door.

“Mom!” His voice rasps, probably from all the spicy mustard Jimin tricked him into swallowing. “I’m back! What’s for dinner?”

“Tae… I’ve told you to stop calling me that. You know I’m not your biological mother.” Seokjin calls from the living room, sighing before he places the book he was reading on the counter. “Plus it’s only 4 and Joonie invited us over; granted that I bring food despite him being the host…”

Seokjin’s the mother figure of their little group of whatever-they-were. One would think that seniors would dorm with other seniors due to their compatible schedules with each other. But Taehyung had insisted he choose to room with him because Jimin wasn’t able to persuade the supervisor to let the two of them dorm, and was matched with some other 2nd year they didn’t know. Plus he wasn’t as quick as Taehyung to force Seokjin into choosing to room with him. Taehyung: 51; Jimin: 50.

“Oh, so how’s your term project going? Almost done? Because I really don’t want to spend the weekend cleaning up rotten glaciers.” Seokjin muses, walking towards the fridge only to sigh when he realizes he had finished yesterday’s leftovers an hour ago.

Taehyung drapes his arms on Seokjins shoulder, “Hyung… Glaciers don’t rot, they melt, why doesn’t anyone understand this simple concept?”

“Maybe because whenever someone gets a whiff of your room, they swear that there’s an actual rotting body, “ the older peels Taehyung off, “but since you don’t kill people, we assume it’s your project.

Anyway, we’ve got nothing in the fridge and we need ingredients for some black bean noodles.”

This makes Taehyung puff out his cheeks in displeasure, “But I’m craving spaghetti today…”

Seokjin waves the other off, “I’m craving my diploma and acceptance into medical school. We can’t always have nice things in life, Tae.”

Taehyung whines and before he can go into his room to greet his glacier children, there’s knocking at the door to which Seokjin calls the younger to answer. “Tae, door!”

“Yes, hyung. Just a second!”

When he opens the door, he finds a boy just a centimeter or so shorter with doe eyes, sharp nose and body that screams better-than-his. The boy holds out his hand, looking indifferent, “Hey, my name is Jeon Jungkook. Freshman. My roomma-“ There’s a noise from the room next door that sounds like someone clearing their throat. “-hyung wanted me to meet new people. And…” He takes a deep breath before avoiding Taehyung’s curious eyes. “Make new friends…”

“Friends.” Taehyung repeats.

Jungkook scratches the back of his neck, pulling the red beanie just a bit down. “I, uh, yeah.” He sighs, “I don’t give a shit either way. Less annoyances in my life that way.” A muffled voice calls his name sternly. “Actually, yeah, let’s be friends. Yeah? Good. Great. See you some time later, bye.” And Jungkook spins on his heel, heading down the next door over and is greeted by a tight voice to which he, once again, sighs.

Seokjin pops his head from the corner, phone nestled between his cheek and shoulder, “So who was that?”

Taehyung gingerly pushes the door shut and cocks his head to the side, still unsure of their interaction. “New freshman neighbor next door. Said he wanted to be friends? Wait, no, he didn’t… But then again, he said he did?”

“Oh-kay…” Seokjin furrows his brows in confusion, before heading back into their small kitchen. “No, Joon-ah, we will not, I repeat not, be having fried chicken.” Pause. “Have you still not learned your lesson from last week? I will not be blamed for your missed phil test because of your sore throat.”

“Spaghetti won’t give us sore throats~” Taehyung sing-songs as he skips to the bathroom.

Seokjin responds with a stern ‘no’ just as Namjoon barks out a laugh from the other end of the line.

--

“So, black bean, garlic, butter, asparagus and two bottles of sesame oil.”

Taehyung walks down the dairy aisle, skimming through the cheese section until he spots a stick of butter. “Hyung, I still don’t get why you’re not the one buying the ingredients.” How much butter did they need? Two sounded reasonable. He tosses it into the red basket.

“I am, Tae. Oh! Yes, thinner please!” A deeper voice responds to Seokjin before he comes back. “Noodles must be handmade and this place is just for that, now don’t you buy those shrimp chips. I can hear the plastic from over here.”

Taehyung’s fingers stop before the bag of chips, itching to grab. He eventually does and throws three in, purposely whistling loudly and he hears Seokjin scream inside. “I don’t get why you need two bottles of sesame oil either. Not like we’re making sesame oil noodles.” Taehyung picks at the loose plastic wrap of the bottle before lifting it up to read the price. Those are worth six bags of shrimp chips; he scrunches his nose in disgust.

“I. Not we. I am making dinner. Kim Taehyung, just buy them or I’m not making you sunny-side up for breakfast tomorrow.”

Taehyung whimpers because Seokjin only uses his full name to be assertive and mean it. So he finds the rest before going on line. He spots a familiar red beanie a few customers before him and strains his neck to get a closer look. Ah!

“Jeon Jungkook?” He practically yells, making the person in front of him jump.

Jungkook also gets startled because he frantically looks to both his sides before turning around with wide eyes. Taehyung didn’t notice this before but the younger is cute, fluffy cute.

Taehyung gets angry stares from other customers and immediately regrets raising his voice. But when he catches a few eyes, they quickly look away, faces turning pale. He turns back to Jungkook, expecting a smile, wave or even a gesture of acknowledgement.

But he doesn’t. Jungkook just scowls, clicks his tongue and hurriedly grabs his bagged groceries before practically running out the store.

So this is how it felt to be openly hated in public. It didn’t feel very nice.

--

“Yes! Food’s here, guys!”

“You’re not even gonna greet us, huh.” Seokjin lightly hits Namjoon’s shoulder, eliciting an exaggerated yell of pain.

“What did Mom make?” Jimin jogs from the living room towards the plates of food Taehyung was carrying.

“Black bean noodles,” Taehyung responds at the same time Seokjin groans a ‘stop calling me mom.’

Taehyung spots Hoseok in front of a paused Mario kart race and takes a seat on the couch while Seokjin sets the table with a starving Namjoon close behind. “So, what’s the occasion? Thought you all were busy with term projects.”

“Yoongi hyung’s brought us new prey,” Hoseok replies with his tongue stuck out in concentration. “Said he didn’t want the quote unquote loaf of moldy bread to stay in the room all the time so he said he’d introduce him to us- Damn you, Park Jimin! That’s cheap!”

“Red shells work that way, Hoseok hyung. Losing hope already?” Jimin giggles, swaying to the side as he matches the turn of Yoshi’s car.

“You can’t lose your birth name,” Hoseok snorts with pride, already forgetting about Taehyung. “But you can lose your life’s fortune- Aha! Suck my ass, Park Jimin, I win! You owe me two bowls of ramen!” He jumps up, swiveling his hips with raised arms as he makes indescribable noises of joy.

Taehyung laughs at a pouty Jimin, whose arms are crossed, mumbling obscenities.

“Alright alright, table’s set and ready!’ Seokjin calls and three heads snap right, scrambling to take a seat. “Easy, there.”

There’s a loud sound coming from the door and Namjoon sighs in annoyance. “Yoongi hyung, I’ve told you many times to knock with your hands, not your feet. I don’t want to pay for repairs again.”

“Oh shut it, kid. Don’t tell me what to do.” Yoongi enters as he unwraps the blue scarf from around his neck. “Ah, yeah. Here’s the moldy bread I brought.” He points his thumb behind him and a boy with the same doe eyes, sharp nose and very much still better-than-his body comes in. The red beanie from before has been swapped to a black one, “Hey.” Jungkook looks around with big eyes, taking in the faces and surroundings before he narrows them when he sees Taehyung. He doesn’t say anything to him, though, “Jeon Jungkook. Freshman. Roommates with Yoongi hyung.”

The rest say their greetings, introduce their names and year, until it gets to Taehyung’s turn. Feeling quite uncomfortable with the situation, he shifts in his seat and slowly lifts a hand to wave, “I’m Kim Taehyung, second year. Nice to meet you…” Jungkook flares his nostrils at this and makes his way to the closet to hang his jacket.

Dejected, Taehyung lowers his head and stares at the empty plate in front of him. Another bad first impression. Good going…

They’re all finally seated at the table with Jungkook straight across from him which gives him a cold sweat, but he’s got actual sunshines on either side of him and he hopes that they’ll deflect the lasers beaming out the younger’s eyes.

“What’s your major, Jungkook?” Leave it up to Seokjin to break the ice. Nice, Mom.

Jungkook ponders over it like it was a math question, rolling the noodles in his mouth. “Forensics.” Nothing else, nothing more. Short and simple.

Hoseok leans over, curious eyes scanning the boy, making the younger move the other way. “For a little cutie like you, you don’t talk very much~” He cackles with his teeth and everything. This makes Jungkook furrow his brows as color starts to creep up his neck; as if to hide this, he quickens his eating pace.

“Ah! He is, he is~” Jimin chimes in from Taehyung’s right, black bean sauce smeared over his lips messily. “Kookie~” Jimin all but squeals, cooing at the newly found pet name, “This hyung has become very fond of you! Let’s get to know each other more in the future, yeah? Kookie, kookie~”

Taehyung holds back a laugh, marveling at how infatuated his best friend is with their new prey. Jungkook’s expression tightens when he darts his eyes from Jimin to Taehyung and back. “Don’t call me Kookie, shorty.” He retorts, voice low but loud enough to be heard.

Jimin who had been smiling, freezes with red growing in his eyes and Yoongi is the one this time to roar a laugh. “H-Ha ha, our Kookie… I’m your hyung, despite my height, I’m still your hyung~” He tries to keep his composure, eyes no longer glinting the way it did before.

Jungkook doesn’t respond and continues to inhale his noodles. Namjoon and Yoongi eye the two in amusement while Seokjin, tired from the day, sighs in defeat and tries to only focus on enjoying his dinner. Hoseok, on the other hand, cracks a smile, waiting expectantly for Jimin’s reaction. And as for Jimin, well, Taehyung’s trying his best to hold him back with a hand on his.

As if on cue, Jungkook meets Jimin’s eyes and smirks.

“Okay that does it. You little ungrateful punk!” Now Taehyung gets up and hooks his arms under Jimin’s, the older’s legs practically scrambling to keep its footing. “Let me at ‘im! I’m the same height as Yoongi hyung!”

Yoongi’s mouth twitches and resumes eating. “Don’t lump me with you, kid.” To which Jimin responds with even more intense flailing. Hoseok shakes with laughter and Namjoon quietly snickers.

“At least Yoongi hyung is respectable.”

Jimin stops, jutting his tongue at the inside of his cheek, “Ha! Yea- Ha! Ha ha ha!” Speechless, all he does is mutter under his breath about wanting to break the other’s bones.

“Park Jimin. Jeon Jungkook.” Seokjin states, all the boys freeze as if he addressed them all. Jimin and Taehyung take their seats with their heads low. “It’s been a long day, so let’s all just finish dinner without bloodshed, yeah?”

They all answer, “Yes, hyung.”

--

And it kind of goes like that for the next few weeks of Jungkook’s “acceptance” into the group. They were used to snarky comments because there was Yoongi. But coming from a younger and much taller person needs some getting used to.

Jeon Jungkook fit right it. Like he was their missing piece and they were his.

Jimin now has two younger brothers to look after, even if one of them constantly bullies him. He’s got a short temper now; no pun intended. But it’s all for fun and games. Park Jimin, after all, is the sweetest, most forgiving cinnamon roll.

Taehyung was no longer the youngest, but he still acted like one; too attached to his position to ever let it go. Although his and Jungkook’s relationship was uneasy at first, he had gathered his courage and talked to the younger. They’ve become closer, well, close like friends, school friends. But with the soft heart Taehyung has, he lets it go, not too keen on keeping negative thoughts.

Turns out Jungkook and Yoongi room together in the room right next to Taehyung and Seokjin’s. Now Taehyung can’t really avoid the awkwardness between them.

--

“Muh-muh-mailbox~” Taehyung hums, carrying a few letters, “Making my way to the box of mail~”

Every month Taehyung writes letters to his family back in Daegu. He’s a filial son so that’s to be expected and he lives for handwritten letters because they’re just so romantic and hold so much raw emotion; it’s hard not to love. He was also holding letters written by Yoongi since he’s too busy these days to really write.

Skipping around the corner, he notices the few people on the street seem to steal glances at him, unsure of how to feel about his hard face contrasting his giddy voice. “Receive my letters full of L~ O~ V-“

Taehyung crashes straight into something…no, someone. It takes him a few seconds to regain his footing and stop his eyes from swimming around, but when he looks up, he wishes he had just fallen and maybe, never even get up. The first thing he had learned when one bumps into someone by accident is to say ‘sorry’ so he does, but his voice is low and he stutters. “S-So…rry…”

“Hah?” The man he crashed into gives him flashbacks to when he was surrounded by those jocks back in freshman year. Taehyung avoids eye contact, partly because he’s intimidated and partly because the sunlight reflecting off the man’s bald head is blinding. He’s wearing a tight black suit that hugs his apparent muscular body and Taehyung has never felt so dead in his life.

“Watch where you’re fucking going, uh?” He bears his teeth, “What’s with that look? Y’picking a fight, is that it, huh?”

The color from his face drains and Taehyung breaks out into a cold sweat, clutching onto the letters like his life depended on it. This is where the boring life of poor Kim Taehyung ends. Yup.

The man is about to reach out before a figure loops an arm around Taehyung’s, tugging him back. “The fuck are you?”

Taehyung looks to the side, still shell-shocked and finds Jeon Jungkook trying to possibly…save him?

The man snorts, “What’s a lil’ bunny like you gonna do?”

A visible vein pops on Jungkook’s temple and Taehyung really doesn’t know who he should be more afraid of.

“Fucking try me.” Jungkook provokes.

--

Jungkook is first to talk. “I can’t believe you let people push you around like that.”

The younger had literally beat the living shit out of the guy. Roundhouse kicks, jabs, uppercuts and everything. Taehyung had been thrown to the side, away from the action and watched in horror as Jungkook pummeled him to the floor, to which he ran with his tail between his legs.

“Honestly! You’ve got people scared shitless because of the rumors and the way you look yet you can’t use it to your advantage to, I don’t know, not get yourself into trouble?” Jungkook rambles on, making hand gestures with an annoyed expression. Right after that incident, he had immediately hooked an arm around Taehyung’s and started on their way to the mailbox. Like it was natural.

“You’re always so- so… So soft hearted, hyung. It’s not gonna get you anywhere, especially when you meet people like that. Stop being so submissive and do something!” Once Jungkook sees a mailbox nearby, he grabs the letters Taehyung was holding and carefully slips them through the lid. And they walk back just like that, Jungkook continuing his rant, not sparing a glance, and Taehyung so baffled that he can’t take his eyes off the other.

It’s when they’re a block away from the dorms that Taehyung breaks.

Breaking as in a giggle fit. He had been trying to hold it in ever since they were halfway to the dorms. Bent over, one hand clutching his abdomen and the other holding his jaw, Taehyung giggles, chuckles, laughs, cackles. Tears sting the corners of his eyes, still unable to grasp onto his sanity, he claws at Jungkook’s arm for balance.

“W-What’re you laughing at??” Jungkook questions with flushed cheeks, trembling eyes betraying how demanding he should be.

What a sight to behold. Two young men kneeling on the street, one exploding with laughter and the other red in the face, trying to lift the other up. One would think they were both drunk at 10 in the morning; poor college students, they’d think, they were bound to break from the stress.

Taehyung tries to calm down, holding himself to keep from spiraling into another fit. “T-This is- ha… absurd…” He manages and Jungkook has to lean closer to make out the words being said. “It’s like a… pfft-fucking manga!” He barks out, “Like a f-fucking shoujo manga!”

Jungkook blinks twice, face practically on fire, “A-A what?”

“W-What was that?!” Tears are literally rolling down his cheeks, “The generic bad boy male lead actually has a heart! How fucking cheesy!” Cramps, he feels his stomach tightening. “J-Just like how the delinquent character heroically saves the kitten from getting hit by a car! Oh, my god!”

The younger opens and closes his mouth, as if to say something but can’t; like a gaping fish, he’s rendered speechless.

“And that just now! I was saved like the generic female lead from the scary bad guys!” Taehyung can’t help but reenact the scene, holding his heart and jutting out his lip to appear helpless. “Romeo, where for art thou, Romeo?” He jumps up to stand, “’Tis I, Romeo, here for thou, Juliet!” And Taehyung knows very well that Shakespeare is not manga but he’s too caught up in the moment for it to be lost. “Oh, my days, just take me away…” He chokes out, index finger wiping a stray tear from his eye.

Taehyung notices Jungkook’s lips trembling and flinches, getting the feeling he had laughed way too hard and way too loud for the younger’s liking. “H-Hey…sorry, I didn’t mean to make fun of you…” He reaches out to ruffle Jungkook’s hair but decides not to, as they aren’t that close in the first place.

And Jungkook looks up with bright, shiny eyes that just scream endearment and he lifts his hand to cover part of his face because he’s smiling. He’s smiling a goofy smile, bunny-like teeth up in front and the ends of his mouth curl so beautifully. It’s just so unlike the Jungkook he had come to know; more like so unlike the Jungkook, he had come to see. His nose scrunches by his curved eyes, Taehyung notices Jungkook smiles with his whole face and he’s never seen anything this wow so up close before.

So, Taehyung stands there, mouth agape like Jungkook had been minutes before; staring at the lovely crinkles of skin and imperfections of a perfect being. He can’t help but smile as well, his signature boxy smile.

Jungkook laughs like he looks when he’s smiling, so full of innocence and youth and wild and something Taehyung had yearned for ever since he left primary school.

“Yeah,” Jungkook says when his smile softens, “That was pretty cliché.”

And Taehyung can just tell, he can, that Jungkook makes his copper feel golden.

--

Days pass, with Jungkook now visiting Taehyung and Seokjin’s dorm more frequently than Jimin ever had. They spend their time sharing manga recommendations, live-watching new sports anime episodes and stealing Seokjin’s limited edition Mario games to play.

Jeon Jungkook fits right in with Kim Taehyung. Like he was his missing piece and the other, the same.

They still hang out with the rest; it’s just that when one finds someone who feels like your other half, it’s hard not to spend every second together.

It was hard at first, of course. Jungkook being the closeted-type of person, too shy to open up, would only start to slowly warm up to Taehyung; starting with small grins and nods of heads as greetings to full-on 20 second handshakes that turn out to not really be a handshake but more of wanting an excuse to touch hands.

But Taehyung is content, even though Jimin has been whining about him not spending as much time with him as he had before. He’s happy, even though he still gets questionable stares and cautious eyes when he’s going to and from class. He’s ecstatic, even though as the days pass, he feels this disgusting twist in his stomach like he hasn’t eaten in months, like he hadn’t just downed that chicken breast Seokjin had been saving for a midnight snack. He felt like he was walking on air, even though his hands and feet burn when they know they’re moving for a purpose, when they know something he doesn’t and Taehyung doesn’t like that one bit. Taehyung doesn’t like not knowing the things his body does.

Kim Taehyung has always been honest but these days, it feels like he’s living a lie.

--

“Then Hoseok hyung decided that- Hey, you’ve got that look again.”

“Huh?” Taehyung looks up from where he was fiddling with the pages of the manga Jungkook had recommended the week before. “What look?”

Jimin leans forward and pinches his best friend’s nose, “The look you’ve been getting when you’re thinking of something, someone and want to possibly, like I don’t know…kiss him.” He states as a matter of fact, smiling the smile that reaches the corners of his upturned eyes. “So?”

Taehyung frowns and shoots Jimin a look that totally contrasts the growing heat on his ears. He’s got nothing to respond with.

“You know we’re not as oblivious as you think, right?” Jimin raises his eyebrows, “You know I’m not as oblivious as you think, right?”

“Why would I think that?” Taehyung replies, clearly making the effort to avoid his best friend’s taunting eyes as much as possible.

“Because I know you’re as oblivious as you think you are if not more so.”

“Do explain, Park Jimin, oh humble best friend of mine.”

“And I will, dear Kim Taehyung, oh foolish best friend of mine.” Jimin’s voice goes up an octave, enjoying the pleasure of teasing the other. “Kim Taehyung, face of pure handsomeness yet feared by all students on campus.”

Taehyung grunts in disapproval but lets Jimin continue.

Jimin smirks, “Kim Taehyung, known as a legitimate member of the mafia, used to come to this very table with a look of defeat every day.”

“I’m not a-“

“Not a legitimate member of the mafia.” Jimin finishes the other’s sentence, “But after his run-in with an actual legitimate member of the mafia, Kim Taehyung was saved like all the damsel in distress’ in those romance novels by a very obnoxious, piece of-“

“Jimin.”

“-by a very cold-hearted fetus who was actually a hot-hearted fetus.” Jimin ignores the apparent change in Taehyung’s expression to that certain description. “Now, Kim Taehyung comes to this very table, not as often but he comes, with a different look. A look of infatuation.”

“That lit course isn’t doing you justice.”

Jimin flicks Taehyung’s nose.

“Ow…” Taehyung carefully rubs his nose, “What are you even getting at?”

“That you’re in fucking puppy love with that wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing named Jeon Jungkook, you oaf.”

--

In love?

Puppy love, for that matter?

With Jeon Jungkook?

That’s impossible. Well, nothing’s impossible, but Taehyung’s pretty sure it’s highly unlikely.

Taehyung has been pacing around the dorm for half an hour after lunch with Jimin and Taehyung does not like thinking too long about things.

But he ends up thinking much too long when Jungkook is involved. He thinks about when it started; when he started to really enjoy the younger’s company. He looks back and notices that whenever they’ve been together, Taehyung would always steal glances at the other, unconsciously, of course. Whenever they’d laugh, Taehyung would always be the first to ease it out, wanting to see the pure joy on Jungkook’s face before it left.

It was weird, to say the least.

But why? Why was it weird?

Taehyung doesn’t know. He just wants to put a name on it. So it would feel definite. Because Kim Taehyung doesn’t like not knowing what things are.

--

“Let’s say…”

“Hm?”

Taehyung clears his throat before continuing, “A friend of mine was never really close to this person…”

“Uh, okay?” Seokjin, once again putting down his book, looks at the younger curiously. When will he finish his book, no one will know.

“A-And after an incident, they became closer. This friend of mine has told me that they’ve been feeling weird when they’re together and doesn’t know what to do or feel.” Taehyung twiddles his thumbs, hoping he didn’t have to explain anymore than he had to. But, of course, he had to because Seokjin doesn’t know.

“So this friend of mine has been getting closer to this other person, closer than they have with their very best friend… What should my friend do?” Taehyung looks expectantly at Seokjin who plays along with a finger on his chin.

“Maybe you friend’s allergic?”

“Eh?”

“I’ve heard that there have been studies of microorganisms that surround our bodies, spanning a good few feet from us. We’re like walking ecosystems and scientists have theorized that compatible bubbles of microorganisms tend to welcome each other and essentially mix together. I guess you can call it attraction?”

Taehyung’s eyes widen like they’ve just seen the world, “R-Really, hyung?”

“Yup, heard it from my bio-chem professor.”

“My friend is… allergic to this person?”

Seokjin hesitates, guilty that he didn’t confront the problem head on. “Uh… Maybe?”

Taehyung flashes a smile and pulls Seokjin into a tight embrace, “Thanks, Mom. You make everything right.”

“Ah…ha ha ha…right.”

--

“You… what?”

Jungkook lifts his head from Taehyung’s lap, letting his streak of 537 on Piano Tiles end. They’re in his and Yoongi’s dorm, just sitting on the couch, waiting for Seokjin to call them for dinner.

Taehyung looks down from another manga the younger had suggested, “I think I’m allergic to you.”

Jungkook sits straight, scrunching his nose in confusion and Taehyung’s lips curl slightly at the adorable sight. “Is it the clothing I wear? I haven’t been near animals recently… Are you allergic to peanuts?” He questions, blowing air into his palm to get a sniff. “I have been eating peanuts recently…”

“Nope, nope and nope!” Taehyung singsongs, finally relieved his problem had been resolved. “It’s your microorganisms.”

“My what?”

“Microorganisms.”

“Microorganisms,” Jungkook repeats and Taehyung nods triumphantly. “And why do you think that?”

“Because Seokjin hyung said that we’re surrounded by microorganisms and that if two ecosystems of microorganisms were to come into contact, they’d mix. If they were compatible, then they’re soul mates. If not, then they would reject in terms of allergies!”

“Ah… right…” Jungkook rests his head on Taehyung’s shoulder this time, making the older freeze at the contact. “So if you’re allergic to me, then does that mean we aren’t gonna hang out anymore?”

“Huh?”

“I mean, according to Seokjin hyung, we aren’t compatible, right?” He feels Taehyung nod his head. “Then you’ll get sick if we hang out anymore, so let’s stop? I really did enjoy being with you, hyung.”

“O-Oh…”

Taehyung misses the smirk on Jungkook’s face when Seokjin calls that dinner is ready.

--

“Why aren’t you eating, Tae?” Seokjin asks, mouth full of spaghetti. “You’ve been wanting this for a while and I finally made it.”

Taehyung doesn’t answer, staring straight at his plate, rolling the meatballs around with his fork. “Jungkook doesn’t want to hang out anymore.”

Seokjin almost chokes, “W-What?”

“He said that if I’m allergic to him then we shouldn’t hang out anymore,” Taehyung adds, voice so soft, it could barely count as a whisper. “H-He said that I might get even sicker if we do.”

Great. Seokjin sighs, dabbing a napkin on his lips, “Taehyung.”

The younger looks up, eyes drooping downward as though he were about to cry and it breaks Seokjin’s heart.

“Do you love him?” Pause. “Do you love Jungkook?”

Taehyung lowers his head, unsure of how to respond. If he had known, he would’ve answered Jimin right away. He wouldn’t have bothered Seokjin about it and he wouldn’t have to battle with all these emotions he’s never felt before.

Was it a no? No. He cares for Jungkook. But did he love him? He likes Jungkook, yeah. But, maybe, it was more than like. Taehyung doesn’t want to call it love because what if… what if it wasn’t and he was fooling himself, misleading Jungkook and Taehyung doesn’t want that.

“We’ve seen the way you look at him.” Seokjin continues, “You look at him in a way you never do with us. And we know, Tae, we know the difference.”

He did? Why was that? He loves the rest just the same. He loves Seokjin like he loves brand-new warm comforters; he loves Namjoon like he loves new space discoveries; he loves Yoongi like he loves his favorite songs; he loves Hoseok like he loves being sun-kissed on the beach; he loves Jimin like he loves nostalgia.

Taehyung loves Jungkook like… like he loves the comfort of being protected. Like he doesn’t need to think twice to know for sure of something, anything. Like he doesn’t have to worry about being loved because he just knows he is. Like all of the above but more. So much more.

He loves Jungkook like he loves coming home to someone always waiting for him.

He loves Jungkook like he loves food.

He loves Jungkook like… he had loved him in all his past lives.

“I-I think I do.”

“I think you do too, now finish that before it gets cold, yeah?”

--

How to confess to someone you like…

Nope that doesn’t look right.

How to confess to someone you love. Enter.

Too confrontational.

Too vague.

Too extravagant.

Taehyung slumps in his chair. “Google… I thought you were supposed to have all the answers to the world’s questions…”

Taehyung hasn’t gone out with Jungkook since. And the younger hasn’t tried to contact him either. Now this is weird and he’s sure of it. It makes Taehyung sick to his stomach, not being able to be with someone he’s been with for weeks.

He’s also been too caught up in finding ways to confess, if that wasn’t apparent already. None of them suit his tastes. It’s 4-something in the morning and Taehyung really needs to focus on his classes because college is not a game, okay.

But he can’t focus. He hasn’t been able to. So he decides on a walk to stretch out his body from all the googling.

Taehyung opens the door, careful not to wake Seokjin up because he needs his beauty sleep to say the least. Right has he steps outside and closes the door; he hears the floor creak beside him and snaps his head towards the sound.

“J-Jungkook?”

Jungkook has on his red beanie and tugs it slightly down, “Hey, hyung.”

Now or never.

“I-I have something to tell you. Can we talk outside?” Taehyung gulps, holding onto the hem of his jacket to hide his trembling hands.

“Sure.”

--

They walk for who-knows-how-long. Eyes fixed straight, Taehyung goes through the list of possibilities of this not working out until he decides, fuck it.

Taehyung stops and grabs onto Jungkook’s arm, quickly pulling back when the younger halts.

“I-I…” Taehyung’s mind is swirling, it’s the middle of winter yet he’s sweating and his face feels like it’d burn the frost. “I…”

“You?” Jungkook urges, searching the older’s face for an answer, for something both don’t know what.

“I think I like you.” Taehyung finally has it out, voice too soft like how Jungkook described his heart.

“You think?”

“Uh… yeah…”

It’s killing him.

“So you’re not sure?”

The questions are killing him.

“I- I’m not… No- Yeah- I-“

It’s suffocating. Just get it over with.

“So you are in love with me?”

Love?

“I- Yes… I t-think so…”

It’s too much. The tears are threatening and Taehyung doesn’t want to cry in front of Jungkook.

He laughs. Jungkook laughs the way he did when Taehyung had teased him about how he acted. With his whole face and everything. And Taehyung loves that laugh, loves that face, loves that smile, those eyes-

“I love you too.”

What?

“T-Then why did you ask me those questions?” Taehyung’s voice wavers, “You could’ve said that first.”

Jungkook notices the slight tremble of the other’s lips and leans forward until they’re centimeters apart. “Can I?”

And Taehyung nods, oh-so-slightly.

It was fleeting, just a brush of the lips. Nothing passionate like those American movies, well… Taehyung would call this passionate. Because it makes him feel so loved and love is full of passion even without the eating-of-each-other’s-faces.

They both turn bright red, from the contact maybe, from the cold air? Taehyung likes to think of the latter.

“You didn’t answer my question.”

Jungkook giggles. He actual has the gall to giggle at ass ‘o clock at Taehyung’s face.

“Because,” he pauses to look right into Taehyung’s eyes, “you’re soft-hearted and I love that.”

--

Golden, copper? Fuck that shit.

You don’t need names for days like these. You don’t need to call it something for it to be something.

“Hey.”

“Mhmm?”

“What are we?”

“Mmmm… We can be anything you want us to be.”

--

“Want to meet my family?”

Jungkook jumps, “F-Family?”

“Yeah, family.”

“Like right now?”

“Like right now.” Taehyung grins, “They’re in my dorm for a visit.”

“O-Okay…”

“Great! You’re going to love them!” Taehyung pushes the door open. “Because they already love you.”

Streamers pop from the sides accompanied by hollering and whistles.

“Mom, Dad.”

“You better treat Taehyung right.” Namjoon calls out, flashing his thumbs up.

Seokjin exaggerates, “Taehyung likes his underwear fresh out of the drying machine.” Acting classes are doing him well.

“Mom, please…”

“Fucking finally,” Yoongi laughs, “Just don’t have sex on my bed.”

“Gross, hyung!” Hoseok complains, hand waving the imaginary smell away. “You two must always show up for family dinner, y’hear?”

Jimin pushes past, pulling Taehyung into an embrace, “Don’t you dare hurt my soul brother or I’ll rip your guts out and feed them to Mom.”

“I do not eat meat raw.”

“You hear that Jeon Jungkook? Mom doesn’t like his meat raw. Better cook that shit before it’s served.”

The boys settle down and ease back into their regular routine whenever they were together. Hoseok and Jimin by the television with Yoongi on the couch tapping away at his phone. Namjoon right behind Seokjin who refuses the younger to help out with lunch.

“I thought I was gonna meet your actual family?”

“These guys are my actual family.”

--

“Do you think we’ll be definite?”

“Nothing’s ever definite.”

“But… I want it to be.”

“Then that’s what we’ll be.”