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It is with great regret that Jungkook stirs at eight twenty-one in the morning to find Taehyung wedged between him and the wall by Jungkook's bed, bundled up in Jungkook's blanket, his laptop on his lap and a cup ramyun cradled in his hands.

Taehyung's eyes are swollen and red-rimmed, a tell-tale sign that he had probably been sobbing the entire night, and Jungkook only has to shift his head to catch a glimpse of Taehyung's laptop screen, paused on an episode of some anime as he sniffles and shovels more instant noodles into his mouth with the plastic fork.

In all honesty, there is nothing strange about this situation (at least, Jungkook reckons, not anymore), but Jungkook would appreciate if Taehyung stopped stealing his bed-space and his blankets (and leaving Jungkook's ass out in the wild to freeze) and waking him up from his much deserved post-finals sleep-in mornings with his crying. Also:

“Why are you eating in my bed again?”

Jungkook's voice is hoarse from sleep, but still every bit annoyed. If Taehyung notices, he doesn’t seem to give a shit, now slurping the soup from the cup.

“Why are you even in my bed?”

“Sorry, it’s just,” Taehyung lowers the cup ramyun long enough to spare Jungkook a glance. “There was a horror movie trailer that popped up as an advertisement and, you know…” he makes a vague gesture with his hands, but Jungkook just lifts a brow. “It was four in the middle of the night, for god’s sake.”

“Mm…”

“I hate horror.”

“Mm.”

“You were the only other person in the vicinity.”

“All right, Taehyung.” Giving him a long-suffering look, Jungkook leaves it at that and slinks into the bathroom, groaning to make his displeasure known.

It has always been like this. But first, it had been Jungkook, Taehyung and Jimin, transfer students from the countryside to Seoul for senior year in high school. There had been a distinct difference in the way they spoke, and although out of good nature, the teasing of classmates played up their insecurity.

Within each other, the three had found a semblance of belonging and familiarity. Sometimes, when you’re far from home, talking comfortably in satoori is all one needs.

Freshman year in college had been great, returning to their triple-sharing dorm and collapsing onto the nearest bed (which had happened to be Jimin's) while arguing over dinner plans will always be one of Jungkook's fondest memories. Getting drunk at parties and waking up half naked also had its own perks, somehow, excluding the hangovers.

Jimin had moved out come sophomore year to share an apartment with Yoongi and Hoseok (“Up till this date,” Taehyung had whispered scandalously into Jungkook's ear, while the both of them were standing at the bedroom door, watching Jimin throw his things into his bags, “I still don’t understand how that kid managed to seduce two third years at the same time.”), and both Taehyung and Jungkook had no choice but to switch to a twin-sharing dorm. It’s more expensive, but cheaper than covering a third non-existent roommate’s rent.

That aside, Seokjin had been very generous by always letting everyone in and cooking dinner without even being asked. Maybe it’s because graduate students have more free slots (“But we still have a shit ton of work to do,” Namjoon had said, when Taehyung voiced the thought out around a mouthful of kimchi fried rice. “It’s equivalent to having a packed timetable.”), and Seokjin's cooking rivals all their mothers’ so it’s safe to say that no one complains.

Yoongi takes care of Jimin and Hoseok well enough, and sometimes Taehyung and Jungkook would benefit in the form of free takeout if they happen to drop by at the right time. Despite his blatant dislike for everything, Yoongi's quite the generous soul.

And it’s always nice to have visitors over at two in the morning during hell week, when Taehyung's slaving over an essay on poetic devices, and Jungkook's program codes have seen errors in the fifth debug (basically, when they’re both going near insane). When Jungkook opens the door, Hoseok would be half asleep with his chin on Jimin's shoulder, and Jimin would hold up a pizza box, familiar rings beneath his eyes, say, “leftovers?”

Jungkook is dozing off at the sink with his toothbrush in his mouth when Taehyung calls out to him.

“The school just emailed us the links to sign up for next semester’s classes.”

Spitting the toothpaste out into the sink, Jungkook rinses his mouth with a groan, because signing up for next semester’s classes would mean paying the fees and the thought of parting with more money makes Jungkook's head spin.

Apparently, Taehyung shares the same sentiments. “I can’t believe we have to downgrade from cup ramyun to… is there even anything more budget than cup ramyun.”

When Jungkook checks his email, he realizes, rather grimly, that the modules for third years cost a little more than previous years’.

“I think I’m going to try applying for more student loans,” he says, but Taehyung is sprawled out asleep over the bed, completely knocked out from his anime marathon.

 

Taehyung does the weirdest things, so Jungkook's not supposed to be surprised. But in his defense, he had been shaken awake at god knows what o’clock and Taehyung looks as if he had just woken up (he had, the anime marathon had messed up his entire body clock).

“Jungkook,” he says, and Taehyung's eyes are twinkling. Jungkook doesn’t have a good feeling about this. “Jungkook, let’s get married.”

The silence that falls is so thick that it’s comical, and Jungkook almost chokes, croaking out a “what?”, too confused to do anything else but stare.

“I found something.”

Taehyung's laptop screen is nothing short of blinding in the dark of the room, and Taehyung dims the brightness before turning it over to show it to Jungkook.

“Married students receive more financial assistance,” Taehyung's voice is low and hushed as Jungkook listens to him, bewildered and still floored from the unexpected proposal just moments ago. “If we declare independent and our monthly income is low enough, we can get more loans and aid than when we’re dependant and our family’s income is considered during the application.”

“Uhm,” Jungkook says slowly, “wait. You want to get married so we can get cheaper tuition.”

When Taehyung nods, the realization finally hits Jungkook, and he sits up, pulling Taehyung's laptop closer to scan through the Google search results. “Nobody has to know, we just have to register the marriage and keep it up till we graduate or something, then we can get divorced?”

Laughing doesn’t seem very appropriate at the moment, but there is nothing that Jungkook wants to do more than to snort and tell Taehyung that he can take his dumb ideas to the trash, except that it’s actually good and Jungkook's desperate enough.

“Right,” he opens up another link, brows cinching at the absurdity of their discussion. “But it says that some schools have a policy where they won’t change the status of students once they enrol.”

“Leave that to me,” Taehyung's eyes crinkle up at the sides and he grabs his laptop back, giving Jungkook a thumbs’ up as he starts to walk out of the room. “I’ll drop by the financial department tomorrow and ask. Just tell me, are you in?”

Jungkook stares up at Taehyung for a couple seconds, weighing the pros and cons (the pros are in more abundance). It’s three in the morning, three weeks before the start of junior year, when Jungkook says three words, “count me in.”

 

(Taehyung calls him around noon the next day, while Jungkook's waiting for the water to boil, tearing off the foil of the last cup ramyun in their stash.

“Yeah?” Jungkook empties the seasoning into the noodles, his phone pressed between his ear and shoulder.

There’s the sound of static crackling across the line, then Taehyung's voice breaks through. “Plan’s a go. Meet me at the city hall at two, bring Yoongi and Hoseok.”

What? I thought we agreed that no one has to know!”

Yes, but— I was on Google last night and we need two witnesses.”)

 

Jimin's gone back to Busan for a week, thank fucking god, or he’d never let them live it down.

Yoongi's face twists into the most incredulous expression that Jungkook has seen on anyone, ever, and Hoseok drops his spoon onto the floor, mouth falling open from where he had been pouring cereal into a bowl, at the island.

“Witnesses for what?” Yoongi sits up a little straighter on the couch, and Jungkook watches him and Hoseok share a look. “Did you two do anything illegal…?”

No. No,” Jungkook's never felt so mortified in his entire life. “We just need, uh, witnesses. To register a marriage.”

No one speaks for a while, then Hoseok pipes up, “I think it would have been better if the two of you had done something illegal.”

 

(“Okay,” Taehyung turns to them as they’re walking out of the building. They’d been given weird looks while signing the forms but the process probably went fine since they were told that they’d be able to collect the marriage certificate in about four days or so. “Please don’t tell anyone. Don’t tell Jimin.”

Yoongi just snorts. “Trust me, I just want to forget I ever signed that thing,” and Hoseok nods, almost violently beside him.

“I,” Jungkook finally says, after a fitful round of four-sided staring. “I can’t believe I just got married.”

A passer-by gives all of them a Look.)

 

To their credit, things don’t change much. Other than the fact that they’ve got a marriage certificate hidden somewhere in their dorm and a significant amount of their fees cut, nothing changes.

Jungkook still spends majority of the mornings left during the break waking up to Taehyung blowing his nose, still stays in the dance studio till late some nights and Seokjin still invites them over for dinner.

The semester starts with students filing back into campus, bleak and cold, and the alarm icon at the top of Jungkook's phone screen makes a comeback. His timetable is merciful enough, with Tuesdays free, Wednesdays and Thursdays starting at four in the afternoon.

Friday nights are saved for the parties that Taehyung's friends always seem to throw, and if he’s lucky, Jungkook would find someone who likes the way he looks enough to take to bed, then wake up on Saturday afternoon to fight over the last painkiller with Taehyung, who’d just returned to their room, his hair a mess and clothes rumpled.

Sometimes, Jungkook indulges him when Taehyung throws offhanded comments about needing a masseur, and Jungkook is the only person that he could possibly be hinting at. He regrets it soon enough, when Taehyung starts to think that he’s entitled to them.

Yoongi and Hoseok don’t bring the matter up, and Jungkook is ever grateful, because Taehyung has the worst habit of stealing food right off Jungkook's spoon, and anyone with insider information would have the perfect chance to poke fun at the both of them.

There’s the occasional situation in which Jungkook and Hoseok are alone in the dance studio, and that’s when Hoseok would sit down beside him, ask him if they’re doing good. The answer is always the same: great. Taehyung and Jungkook have never been better, they can even afford to eat out at fast food joints more and actually get coffee at cafés instead of buying instant mix.

Friends are godsent. Friends like Yoongi and Hoseok are godsent.

Jungkook's typing up a report for his case study, rushing it for submission over the weekend when Taehyung comes back, his shirt half tucked out and a line of fresh hickeys down the side of his neck.

Upon spotting Jungkook, Taehyung groans and flings himself over his legs, smothering his face into one of the cushions on the couch.

“Chivalry is dead,” Taehyung's voice gets muffled against the cushion as Jungkook yelps and lifts his laptop off just in time to save him a trip to the repair shop, setting it back down onto Taehyung's back, out of convenience.

“Why?” Jungkook barely glances over, “is it because your hook-up didn’t bring you breakfast in bed?”

Taehyung lifts his head, nose scrunching up in disgust. “God, no. He was just an ass in general and didn’t prep me enough.”

“Ouch.”

“Yeah. Impatient, too. I’m all sore now, I want a massage.”

“Don’t look at me, I’m busy.” Jungkook lets out a soft laugh, meeting Taehyung's pleading gaze with his own, but it’s two hours later, when Taehyung has finally gotten a shower and Jungkook's pressing his thumbs down in circles over the small of Taehyung's back, when he wonders why he gives in every time.

A low moan bubbles up from the seam of Taehyung's lips, and Jungkook's hands still over Taehyung's back, the skin still warm and a faint pink from where Jungkook had been dutifully rubbing over it with the heels of his palms.

“Why’d you stop?” Taehyung cranes his neck, peering around with mild disappointment in the downturn of his lips, and Jungkook returns his look with a blank stare until it hits him that he might, might have almost sported a boner because his best friend just moaned. Very, very inconvenient.

He hopes that the stutter isn’t obvious, but Jungkook just presses his palms down over Taehyung's back again, a little rougher than he had. “Can’t my hands get tired?”

Fuck him very much, indeed.

 

(Jungkook tries not to think about it, but the level of difficulty climbs, steep and merciless, and it isn’t really his fault, is it? It’s Taehyung who would insist on lying face down over Jungkook, it’s Taehyung who would demand Jungkook's hands on him, Taehyung who makes those godforsaken little noises when Jungkook's fingers press down just right.

There are times when Jungkook would jerk himself off in the shower, Taehyung's moans looping steadily in his head.

He washes the evidence off of his hands thrice, comes out of the bathroom with the worst weight on his chest and allows Taehyung to pull him over by the front of his shirt to watch another episode of anime that they’ve been religiously chasing.

“Hey, Jungkook?”

“Yeah?”

“I stocked up our ramyun stash this morning,” Taehyung turns to flash Jungkook a grin. “We’re geniuses. We can actually afford the bigger cups now. The ones that are a hundred and fifteen grams?”

Something twinges in Jungkook's chest, but he smiles back and lets Taehyung press up against his side as their video buffers, says, “that’s great.”)

 

Finals creep in like the build-up of clogging in arteries, silent and dormant until all Hell Breaks Loose, and all of a sudden there are people who would trade anything to spark a career in grave digging.

They are only three days into study week when Jungkook jolts awake from where his forehead had been pressed to the keyboard of his laptop, to the sound of Taehyung mumbling in his sleep, cheek pressed against the top of their desk and a page of his readings half-turned.

Fair is foul,” Taehyung mutters, words slurring, as Jungkook lets out a quiet snort of amusement, gently shaking him awake. “Foul is fair.”

It takes a few more nudges, turned rattles, until Taehyung's eyes flutter open and he’s giving Jungkook a dirty look that spelt more than how dare you wake me from my fitful slumber, but more of, what crap have I been spouting that you’ve heard, because all he needs is one look at Jungkook's face and he knows.

It’s not the first time, after all.

“Don’t worry,” Jungkook says, leaning back in his chair to stretch his arms up above his head, groaning quietly. “Nothing as bad as the stuff you said last semester when you were doing that module on romance classics or something.”

In his half asleep state, Taehyung actually cringes. “That’s all the reassurance I need.”

“You were reciting from Macbeth, I think.”

“And you would know?”

“Remember that time in high school when we studied that and had to act out a scene from it? I played Banquo because he only had like, four lines?”

“Oh. Oh.”

Jungkook laughs, and Taehyung laughs along, revelling in the 2am silence and the tired burn of their lungs.

Time sifts slowly and for a moment, Jungkook is a grain of sand caught in the neck of an hourglass.

He stares, taken in by the soft wrinkles at the sides of Taehyung's eyes, curving into barely-there crescents. His gaze drops down, tracing over the smooth line of Taehyung's lips, drinks in his quiet, sleepy laughter.

(If he had been any more exhausted than he is right now, Jungkook would have dived in and kissed Taehyung breathless, right there and then.

But for now, he just holds his breath and lets Taehyung bump their shoulders together.)

The rest of the week continues in a similar fashion, sometimes Jungkook listens to Taehyung speak Shakespearean in his sleep, and other times it’s Taehyung who wakes Jungkook up by waving a cup ramyun by his nose. “Our grades await,” he’d whisper in a creepily eerie voice, and it takes all of Jungkook's willpower not to smack Taehyung away.

Taehyung's laughing when he finally opens up the program that Jungkook had coded, running the exe file with both brows raised sky high in mild incredulity. “Did you really waste your time on this?”

“Just try it out, all right. Is it that hard to say ‘thank you’ to me?”

“All right, all right.” Taehyung taps into the command prompt, a single press of the spacebar beneath the sentence “should I sleep?” and the response that generates is a “no”.

Jungkook lets out a bark of laughter, and nods for Taehyung to continue, and he does, although somewhat disgruntled, tapping the spacebar again.

If “should I sleep?” generated a “no”, then “should I shower?” generated a “yes”.

“Is this a diss program? Is it rigged? Did you hardcode all the outputs?” Taehyung's flabbergasted, but he continues anyway, and “should I eat?” generates a “yes”.

“It’s just an application that cares about both your wellbeing and grades.” Jungkook grins, pinning the exe file to Taehyung's taskbar and giving him a thumbs up before returning to his own work. “And every time you run it, there’s a fifty-fifty chance for ‘yes’ or ‘no’, so I didn’t cheat or anything. It’s all up to fate.”

Taehyung grunts in reply, but Jungkook catches him using it anyway, a few times during the week when Taehyung thinks that Jungkook's not paying attention.

 

It’s another one of those middle-of-the-nights, in between sunrise and that space of morning that’s not-really-morning, because it’s not a new day if Jungkook hasn’t even slept yet, god damn it. He’s sprawled out against the side of the couch with Taehyung's head on his stomach, a worn out reading guide on his face.

“Fuck,” Taehyung groans, his voice muffled under the book, and Jungkook grunts in response, shifting in his position so Taehyung's head is no longer in danger zone, right against his crotch.

“One more week.” Jungkook hardly recognizes his own voice, it’s a scratchy, pathetic rasp, whittled down with countless nights of cramming and squinting at the too-bright screen of his laptop when he could have been swathed in the darkness and comfort of sleep.

“When’s the last time I even got laid?”

Jungkook makes a soft noise of disgust and shoves Taehyung off of him, the other boy rolling onto the floor with a betrayed yelp. “Probably not too long ago, in comparison to yours truly.”

“Well.”

Taehyung settles against the other side of the couch, and the silence packs over again, quiet and restlessly thrumming between them until Jungkook sets his laptop down onto the coffee table with thud so loud that Taehyung jumps.

“I’m so tired I could die,” Jungkook mutters, and when he meets Taehyung's gaze, he can see the same exhaustion in the other’s eyes, seeping through Taehyung's skin in blatant hints; the hunch of his back, dark rings beneath his eyes, and it feels as if Jungkook is looking into a mirror.

Taehyung offers him a small smile, says, “R.I.P.”

“Aren’t you being a little mean?” Jungkook chucks a cushion at him, scowling. “To your husband?”

“Am I?”

“I think protocol says that I should be getting a ‘feel better’ kiss about now.” It’s meant to be a grumble, sass even, but once Jungkook says it, there’s a snap of panic in which he realizes that he had meant it.

That he actually wants it.

Then Taehyung says, “I could, if you really want me to.”

He’s got his comeback right on the tip of his tongue, but with the way that Taehyung is looking at him right now, Jungkook's breath catches at the back of his throat, every coherent word melting into one syllable of “oh”.

“It’s not like I haven’t done it before.”

Jungkook lowers his gaze, fixing it on the way Taehyung's running his tongue over his lower lip, wetting it. Full, pink lips and a darkened glint in his eyes. Remembers the way Taehyung's lips had felt on his own one evening almost three years ago, in the dark of their shared apartment.

They’d been watching porn on Jungkook's laptop. Really bad porn, if Jungkook might add, and Taehyung's face had been scrunched up into the most obvious of distaste. Jungkook had laughed, said, “bet I could suck dick better than her.”

“You don’t even swing that way,” Taehyung had given up, paused the video and glanced up at the ceiling to cleanse his eyes.

“Who says?” Maybe they’d been caught in the moment, maybe it was just a hit and go kind of thing, but then Jungkook had offered to suck Taehyung off.

And Taehyung. He had turned his eyes, heavy with surprise and with an intensity so deep that Jungkook still feels the heat going down to his cock, even now. He’d said, “why not?”

So Jungkook weighs the offer in his mind, lets Taehyung inch closer across the couch until their lips are barely brushing, and whispers, “why not?”

Taehyung's lips are on Jungkook's within the next second, wet, warm and familiar. A little shiver runs down Jungkook's arms as he reaches up to pull Taehyung into his lap. Vaguely, Jungkook lets himself marvel at the irony of the situation. Taehyung had been his first kiss, and three years later, they’re married and coming back for seconds.

If anything, their second kiss is a far cry from their sorry excuse of a first. It had been more of a shy peck, Taehyung leaning in to steal the smirk right from Jungkook's lips with a low murmur of “less cocky, more cocking”. It hadn’t even been remotely sexy, but Jungkook had tugged Taehyung's boxers down and wrapped his lips around the head of his cock, relying solely on his porn-watching experience and private bathroom fiascos to bring Taehyung over the edge.

Taehyung's hand fists at the front of Jungkook's shirt, pulling him closer as their lips move, messy and desperate, and Jungkook tilts his head, trailing his lips across Taehyung's jaw, then down the side of his neck.

“God, Taehyung.” Jungkook's mouthing at Taehyung's exposed shoulder, when he finally pulls back and takes in the state of the other, his lips pink and swollen from the kiss, wet with spit. Taehyung looks a wreck, and Jungkook knows he doesn’t look any better himself. “I— I want to suck you off.”

There’s a faint twinkle in Taehyung's eyes when he laughs, his voice slightly hoarse, and he leans back onto his hands, thighs falling open. “Let’s see if you’re any better this time.”

Jungkook's sucked enough cock since that first time to know that he’s definitely better. He’s kneeling on the floor between Taehyung's knees, his hands caressing up his inner thighs as he parts them, tugging Taehyung's boxers down to pool at his ankles.

“I’ll let you be the judge of that,” Jungkook says, and when he takes Taehyung's cock into his mouth, as deep as he can, Taehyung's head falls back so fast it hits the wall behind the couch with a loud thud.

“Fuck,” Taehyung hisses, fingers curling into Jungkook's hair, and Jungkook groans around the girth of Taehyung's cock, moving his head slowly, his tongue tapping over the head and tasting the bitterness of pre-come already beading at the slit. “Fuck, Jungkook.”

It takes only a few more bobs of Jungkook's head for Taehyung to start pushing at Jungkook's shoulders, moaning low in his throat, but Jungkook ignores him, swallowing every drop when Taehyung shudders from his release. He pulls back with a smug smile on his face, tongue running along his lower lip. “Well, that was quick.”

“I thought—” Taehyung is obviously dazed, chest heaving slightly. “I thought you hated swallowing.”

“Things change,” Jungkook grins, tucking Taehyung's cock back into his boxers before getting up from the floor and onto the couch, pulling Taehyung closer.

“Some things don’t.” Taehyung leans in, lips brushing against Jungkook's, and he allows Jungkook to kiss him again, nibbling on his lower lip. “You still use too much teeth.”

But Taehyung doesn’t complain, not when Jungkook has him pinned against the bed barely ten minutes later, lips marking a line of bruises all the way from Taehyung's shoulder to his stomach, two fingers thrusting into him. “Taehyung,” Jungkook rasps, and Taehyung can only whimper in response, hips jerking from a touch to his prostate. “Fuck, you look so good like this.”

“Been thinking of me?” Taehyung's words catch in his throat, but he smiles, hands pulling at Jungkook's shoulders

“Yeah. The noises you make when I’m massaging your back, god.” Jungkook's rolling the condom on now, slicking himself up with lube, and Taehyung watches him with half lidded eyes, hooded with want. “I wanted to fuck you, make you moan for me.”

Taehyung rests a heel on Jungkook's shoulder, breathing out something along the lines of “actions speak louder than words” before it melts into a hitched moan, Jungkook sliding in with one smooth thrust.

If Jungkook had thought that Taehyung sounded great moaning, then Taehyung crying out Jungkook's name as he comes is a hundred times better. The brokenness in Taehyung's voice goes straight down to Jungkook's cock, and he fills the condom, groaning into Taehyung's shoulder as his hips stutter, moving in sloppy thrusts.

“Hey,” Jungkook whispers, a little while later after he’s finally caught his breath and gotten his pulse back to normal.

There’s no reply, because Taehyung's already asleep, exhausted from the sleep deprivation and sex. He’s curled up against Jungkook's side, eyelashes fluttering against his cheekbones as he breathes, and for a moment, Jungkook doesn’t know what to do.

The lights are still on, and Jungkook's making to switch them off when Taehyung groans in his sleep, turning onto his side. He ends up wiping Taehyung down with a damp towel and tucking him in, spending the next half an hour just watching him sleep.

Jungkook doesn’t know if he should feel relieved that Taehyung doesn’t seem to have a problem with what they’d just done, but if there’s one thing he knows, it’s that he’s scared. He’s absolutely terrified.

One night stands are not uncommon to Jungkook, but hook-ups are hook-ups, and they know well enough to leave once it’s done. It’s standard protocol, and Jungkook has gone through it enough to know it by now.

But Taehyung isn’t a hook-up, he’s Jungkook's best friend (that he’d just fucked) and they live together, for god’s sake. A single wrong move could bring everything down to shit, he’s heard enough about FWBs catching feelings for each other to know that it’s never a good thing.

 

(Jungkook gets up extra early the next morning, not wanting to be in bed when Taehyung wakes up, but he stirs to the sting of light bleeding into red stains beneath his eyelids, and a pair of arms wrapped tight around his waist, a soft warmth against his chest.

It’s not as bad as he’d imagined it to be. It’s not unusual to find Taehyung in bed with him, anyway, given, it’s not the same thing, but it’s not too different, either. They’re just a little less clothed, is all.

Untangling himself from Taehyung's koala limbs prove to be the most difficult, but Jungkook manages, gently extracting himself from the other’s hold and tucking a pillow into Taehyung's arms instead.

Jungkook swings his legs over to the side of the bed, about to stand, when something changes.

It’s a little like seasons shifting into one another, subtle, but still there, all the same.

Taehyung makes a soft noise, hugging the pillow closer, and Jungkook tenses up because it finally hits him that this is happening.

It’s happened, and it’s no longer just him, his hand and a bathroom. It’s him, it’s him and Taehyung.)

 

Taehyung, for the most part, doesn’t change.

Apart from the more regular occurrences of hugs and quick make-out sessions during their study breaks, their dynamics remain a constant, familiar cruise that still finds Jungkook planting himself face down onto Taehyung's stomach when he’s tired, still has Taehyung playing dead on the floor of their dorm and wailing for a funeral.

When they kiss, it’s always with the same sort of fire and desperation.

It simmers just beneath Jungkook's lungs, enough to burn when he breathes in too deeply from the nip of Taehyung's teeth, warm enough to spark the desire of grabbing Taehyung down into his lap whenever Taehyung decides to walk around their room with his hair still wet from the shower, and a towel loosely wrapped around his waist.

So Jungkook stops thinking, and lets himself get swept up, tugged along by whatever seems the most comfortable.

(Comfortable is having his head in Taehyung's lap, with the other’s fingers threading through his hair while he speaks in satoori. It’s so warm, so familiar, so easy to get used to.)

 

There’s nothing like running on two hours of sleep (involuntary naps, they’re the worst, because they’re better at fuelling exhaustion, rather than to drive the tiredness away), and as if things couldn’t get any worse, Jungkook opens the door to their dorm after his last finals paper, all ready to collapse onto the nearest surface, only to find Jimin and Taehyung wrestling in bed.

So Jungkook does the safest thing which is to slink towards the general direction of the bathroom, but he’s not fast enough.

Jeon Jungkook!”

Jungkook makes a soft noise at the back of his throat as he feels himself yanked into the battlefield, and for a brief moment he’s actually afraid for his life. “Jimin—”

Jimin is holding a somewhat crumpled manila envelope, and it looks familiar. Too familiar, if anything.

Taehyung says, “uhm.”

“The two of you got married and I wasn’t invited to the wedding? I didn’t even know there was anything going on with you two. The closest was that time in high school when I caught you sucking Taehyung's dick, and—”

“Whoa, whoa.” Jungkook manages to pry the envelope out of Jimin's fingers, “that’s not it.”

Then?”

They exchange glances among the three of them, and Taehyung finally takes a deep breath, holding Jimin by his shoulders. “Okay, Jimothy,” he says, more placating than ever, and Jimin's nose flares at the term of address. “It was just an idea to, uh, cope with our financial difficulties?”

The blank stare Taehyung receives in response makes Jungkook's skin start to crawl, goose bumps rising.

“So, if we declare independent and our total monthly income is zero,” Taehyung continues, “we get to receive more financial aid.”

When Jimin turns around to look at Jungkook, the horror on his face almost makes Jungkook feel bad, and he rubs down Jimin's arms soothingly as Jimin sits between them, lost and completely mind-fucked.

“You two got married for money.”

Essentially, Jimin had nailed it right on the head, but Jungkook doesn’t really want to put it out that way. There’s a burn in his chest, a pressing weight as the reality continues to settle. Whenever Taehyung reaches out to grab his hand, or kiss him (which has started happening quite a lot as of recent. Maybe it’s the stress), there’s a thrum by his ear that has to remind him that this isn’t real; it’s just a short-term arrangement. Everything is a short-term arrangement.

He looks up, stealing a glance at Taehyung, who’s watching Jimin with an almost pleading gaze. But it settles a little better with Jungkook that Taehyung hasn’t made any attempts to admit it either.

“I will never believe in love again,” Jimin sniffles later, dramatically throwing himself off Jungkook's bed and shuffling out of their dorm, yelling a couple more incoherent things over his shoulder as he leaves.

Taehyung lets out a little laugh, and Jungkook thinks that he senses nervousness in it. “Well then,” he tosses Jungkook a smile, wide and as bright as always, but it doesn’t really reach his eyes this time. “That was awkward.”

“How did he find out, anyway?”

“Told him to grab my notes for me, he must have found the cert on my shelf.”

Jungkook flops onto his back and lifts a hand to pinch his nose, sighing. “Fuck me.”

Perhaps it’ll take more time to get used to, but ever since their fiasco during study week, Jungkook has come to realize that Taehyung has developed very different reactions to the things that he says.

He snaps his eyes open the moment he feels Taehyung's fingers working at the zipper of his jeans, lips parting in a surprised yelp. “What are you doing?”

“You extended an invitation,” Taehyung drawls, eyes twinkling with mirth, finally tugging off Jungkook's jeans and boxers, cool fingers wrapping around his cock and drawing out a small hiss from the boy beneath him. “I merely accepted it.”

“I was—”

Taehyung cuts him off with a kiss, the sort that leaves Jungkook's head spinning and his thoughts clouding over with want. “I’m going to fuck you,” he whispers, lips grazing at the lobe of Jungkook's ear, and he shivers. “I’m going to wreck you, take all that stress out of you. You can think of it as a reward for making it through finals.”

“Can you just hurry up and get to it?”

“Nope. Magic word?”

It’s almost amazing how Jungkook can hate someone so much he’d gladly stab them, but still want them to bone him at the same time. He grits his teeth, trying to swallow most of the whine before mumbling, “please”.

Taehyung grins at him, light and satisfied as he reaches over to the nightstand, grappling for the lube. “There’s my good boy.”

He makes a show of tilting the bottle and drizzling the liquid over his hand, then rubbing his fingers together, and Jungkook's eyes follow the trickle of lube down Taehyung's palm, feeling his arousal spike and warm his blood.

When Taehyung circles his finger at the rim of Jungkook's hole, he almost goes insane, hips bucking up in protest while he attempts to throw him the most threatening glare he can muster in the moment.

“Oh my god, please hurry up and— fuck!”

Taehyung's soft laughter fills his ears, a low, soothing voice that guides him through the haze of pleasure that follows. He murmurs quiet praises as Jungkook rides him, warm hands holding onto Jungkook's hips and helping him as he fucks himself on Taehyung's cock.

It does wreck him.

Jungkook's orgasm is a quick shock that crackles down his body and makes his toes curl, back arching, and Taehyung's palms seem to fit perfectly in the curve of his spine as he groans by Jungkook's ear.

“Come on,” Taehyung murmurs, lips pressing against Jungkook's jaw while they’re curled up into each other in Jungkook's bed. “Let’s get cleaned up and then we can take revenge naps. We’ve lost too much sleep these past few weeks.”

Taehyung's fingers are gentle as he rubs shampoo into Jungkook's hair, and Jungkook lets him, almost dozing off while they’re standing beneath the spray of the shower, and Taehyung laughs again, his voice rich and familiar, homely.

They bundle up in Taehyung's bed, under the sheets, and Jungkook's arms wind around Taehyung's waist, his head tucked against the crook of Jungkook's neck.

“You make a good body pillow,” Jungkook says, soft and hoarse. “Maybe we should just sleep like that from now on.”

It’s a while before Taehyung replies, but Jungkook is already asleep, nose nuzzled into the top of Taehyung's hair.

“Sounds good.”

 

Jimin's going back to Daegu with Yoongi for the semester break, along with Hoseok and Taehyung who’s visiting as well, so when they’re at the train station, Namjoon and Seokjin wave them off, and for the most part of the train ride, Jungkook has company.

If there’s anything about Busan that he’s missed, Jungkook would say that it’s the sea. He would say that he’s missed getting up just before sunrise to pull on his running shoes. He’s missed tossing them off with his socks after a jog and digging his toes into the sand, still warm despite the decreasing temperatures.

The water is cool and clean as it laps up over Jungkook's feet in clear waves. The breeze is tinged with salt and smells like home.

Sometimes, during the worst bits of the semester, Jungkook would think about catching the next train home from Seoul, would toy with the idea of leaving without a word. Turn it over and over in his head until it dissipates because the most irrational decisions are made on impulse.

“You’re always here when you come home.”

Jungkook startles, but just barely, before sinking against his mother’s embrace, letting his arm curl loosely around her waist. “Sorry, I missed the sea.”

His mother smiles, tousling his hair up with the breeze, her touch familiar and affectionate, and for a moment, Jungkook remembers Taehyung, remembers how Taehyung has a penchant for doing the exact same thing. “I wish I could send the sea to you.”

Jungkook laughs, low and fond, “you bet I wish you could too, Mom.”

“How’s your studies coming along?”

“It’s fine,” Jungkook reaches down to squeeze her hand, and she hums in approval. “I haven’t failed anything yet.”

“Found anyone special?”

“Nah.” Jungkook tries not to think about Taehyung, his smile. Tries to forget that he’s married to his best friend and that maybe “just friends” isn’t enough anymore.

His mother just laughs, tells him that he’s still in the prime of his youth and that he hasn’t got anything to worry about, the time will come.

That night, Taehyung calls, and Jungkook had been on the brink of sleep. The vibration against the wooden surface of the nightstand jolts him awake, and he reaches out, sliding his thumb over the screen to answer with a groan.

“Hey, hey.” Jungkook doesn’t realize how much he’s missed Taehyung's voice until he finally hears it, and it has been a long time, a couple weeks and a few days. “Don’t tell me you’re sleeping this early?”

“I’m on semester break,” Jungkook all but growls, “sue me.”

“Well, don’t get used to it.” He hears shuffling on the other side, like Taehyung's in bed and he’s turning onto his side. “Can’t let your body think that it’ll be getting ten hours of sleep a day for much longer.”

“Way to ruin my mood.”

Taehyung laughs, low and warm, it fills Jungkook up with some kind of longing. Like wanting to touch him, trail his fingertips down Taehyung's arm while coaxing his mouth open in a soft kiss.

The desire thuds against the inside of his chest, melts into something darker, maybe despair.

“Why’d you call anyway?” His words come out harsher than he’d intended, and he attempts to amend it. “I was this close to falling asleep, asshole.”

“I just missed my husband’s voice,” Taehyung says, easily, as if it’s completely normal.

Jungkook's breath catches in his throat, pulse skipping in quick jolts as he stops talking, stops breathing, and he must have been silent for quite a while, because Taehyung's speaking again, his tone careful with a hint of anxiety.

“Are you okay? Did I scare you or something?”

Jungkook sits up, tries to dispel the awkwardness as best as he can. “Nah, babe. I missed you too,” and on second thought, “can’t wait to come home into your arms.”

There’s a faint crackling of static across the line, and everything is quiet for a couple of seconds.

Then Taehyung says, “I’m going back to campus tomorrow.”

“Oh.”

“I’m taking the first train.”

Taehyung's going back to Seoul, and Jungkook's not supposed to, at least for another week, but in this moment, there is nothing that Jungkook wants more than to see Taehyung again.

Jungkook exhales through his mouth, says, “yeah. Yeah, me too.”

Before he hangs up, Taehyung says “I’ll see you?” like he isn’t asking a question. It feels like he’s telling Jungkook to hurry up.

 

There’s a rush by his ears even before Jungkook opens the door to their dorm. Taehyung's already there by their makeshift kitchenette of a shelf, squatting awkwardly so he’s eye level with the second shelf where they’ve stuck their microwave into, no doubt waiting for his chicken pie to heat up.

He startles when Jungkook closes the door, standing up and turning around, though Taehyung breaks out into a wide smile soon enough, all soft and relaxed. “Why’re you standing there? Aren’t you going to come kiss me hello?”

Then Jungkook's dropping his bag onto the floor, striding over to back Taehyung against the wall by the microwave, kissing him so fervently that Taehyung's lips part with a quiet gasp, forming a small, surprised “oh”.

Taehyung's moan goes right into Jungkook's head, making him blink and pull back, his hands cupping either side of Taehyung's face as he takes in the pink tint in his cheeks, the flushed lips and the dazed look in Taehyung's eyes.

“Jungkook,” Taehyung breathes out, holding Jungkook's gaze for a couple more beats, and then he’s dropping down onto his knees, fingers tugging clumsily at the front of Jungkook's jeans.

It takes all of Jungkook's willpower not to yank at Taehyung's hair too hard, his fingers are tangled in the soft strands, gently tugging Taehyung's head back, stroking his nape with a low groan brimming at the back of his throat.

Taehyung's palms are flat on either side of Jungkook's hips, and Jungkook can feel the wetness of Taehyung's tongue as he presses it onto Jungkook's crotch, over the thin fabric of his boxers.

“Quit teasing,” Jungkook's almost whining, and Taehyung is smirking against him as he glances up, eyes expectant. “Please. Fuck, just, please.”

Jungkook's grip on Taehyung's hair tightens when Taehyung finally takes him in. The heat is warm and wet, and by the time Jungkook breaks, his hips stuttering as he fucks slowly into Taehyung's mouth, Taehyung's lips are swollen and slick with spit.

He tugs Taehyung up, kissing him sloppily, mouthing at the side of his lips. Jungkook tastes himself on Taehyung's tongue, it’s bitter and strange, but Taehyung is sweet.

“I missed you,” Jungkook's voice is hoarse, breathless. He says it like he means it, and maybe that’s why he feels a twinge in his chest when Taehyung doesn’t reply him right away.

Taehyung stares up at him, eyes unfocused but still clear, holds the silence for one heartbeat too long. “I missed you, too.”

Before Jungkook can take the buffer to heart, Taehyung is backing him towards his bed, and Jungkook topples onto the mattress with clumsy limbs once the back of his knees collide with the edge, letting Taehyung unravel him, peel away his sanity layer by layer.

Taehyung fucks him with a ferocity so intense that it has Jungkook's back arching, head thrown back only to have Taehyung's lips pressed tight at the hollow of his throat. Jungkook doesn’t know, doesn’t care, not anymore. It’s like Taehyung’s marking territory, with the way his lips are leaving bruises down the side of Jungkook's neck, dark and loud.

His arms are sliding off from where they’re looped desperately around Taehyung's neck for leverage, trembling with the little effort it takes to hold on, and Jungkook cries out, moaning Taehyung's name in a low, broken whimper.

“Come for me,” Taehyung whispers, growls, lips brushing against Jungkook's earlobe. “Come for me, babe.”

Jungkook does, completely wrecked beneath him, half sobbing as Taehyung slams his hips down, and the last thing Jungkook hears before he blacks out is Taehyung's voice, murmuring softly by his ear, and his fingers carefully brushing Jungkook's sweaty bangs away from his eyes.

“It’s okay, go to sleep, I’ve got you.”

 

“Gross,” Jungkook declares, as Taehyung pries off the lid of his peppermint mocha, tearing off a piece of his sugar-glazed doughnut and dipping it into the drink.

The subject in question lifts his gaze, a faint glare in his eyes. “You just haven’t lived.”

Jungkook's living really well, thank you very much. His eyes follow the soft dip of Taehyung's fingers as they bring pieces of doughnut into his mocha and then up to his lips. “I’ve never met anyone other than you who does this.”

“Isn’t it customary to have done this sometime in your life? Maybe when you were a kid?”

Jungkook vaguely remembers stuffing torn pieces of bread into his mug of hot chocolate some cold mornings back when he was younger, but he prefers not to bring it up lest Taehyung decides to use that as a backup to his argument.

Their table is tucked into a warm corner of the café. One of their favourites, and most of the baristas recognize them, it doesn’t matter at which unearthly hour they visit, someone on the shift is bound to give them an extra pump of hazelnut syrup or something along the lines (Taehyung's wheedled enough for a free muffin, once).

It’s the last weekend until the next semester starts, and according to Jungkook, they should “let loose and live” before they face death once again. Taehyung's all on board, especially since Jungkook's offered to pay for drinks.

It could almost be a date, Jungkook muses (maybe he had been pretending so), watching Taehyung from across the table as the sips on his mocha, whipped cream sticking onto his upper lip like the cliché of all clichés, and Jungkook finally understands why these scenes in movies always end with kissing.

Except, Jungkook and Taehyung aren’t actually on a date and the right thing to do is to offer Taehyung a napkin.

Taehyung makes a face and laughs, murmuring “thanks” before dabbing at his lips with the napkin and missing one tiny bit, the part at the side of his left lip.

Jungkook allows the blot of cream to drive him crazy for another five minutes before stretching his arm across the table to swipe it away with his thumb, and Taehyung stills at the contact.

For a moment, they stare at each other, Taehyung's gaze is shadowed, indiscernible, but he’s the first to break the silence, grinning wide and helping Jungkook to clean the cream off his thumb with the napkin that he’s holding.

“Thanks,” he says again, and Jungkook offers him a faint smile, glancing away.

“No problem.”

They drain the rest of their drinks in quiet revelation, or at least, on Jungkook's part. There’s a soft thumping in his chest that rises, like a crescendo, whenever he thinks about the look in Taehyung's eyes.

 

It’s Taehyung who spots the store first.

Almost hidden, it’s a single, narrow door stuck full of the sort of stickers mostly found on the bumpers of cars, but there’s a wooden sign swinging on a hook, with the shop name burnt into it, and Jungkook thinks about art classes back in high school where he’d pressed a soldering iron into a wood chunk— it looks the same.

“I’ve always wanted to visit a second hand bookstore,” Taehyung murmurs, and that’s how they find themselves within the confines of bookshelves for hours.

In retrospect, it should have been claustrophobic, but there’s just something about the scent of old books that strips everything else away until they’re only looking at books and touching the pages.

Nothing else matters.

“I don’t even read,” Jungkook's mumbling, almost halfway into a book of yellowing pages.

Taehyung grins at him, resting his head onto Jungkook's shoulder as he steals a peek at what Jungkook's reading, and his eyes light up in recognition. “Oh, The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I’ve read this before. It’s one of my favourites.”

“Yeah?”

“There’s this quote from it that I could never quite forget.”

Jungkook lifts his gaze, fixing it on Taehyung as he beams, taking the worn paperback from Jungkook and starting to flip through the pages until he seems to find what he’s looking for. He steps closer, and Jungkook catches the faint citrus of their shampoo from Taehyung's hair.

You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget,” Taehyung breathes out, and maybe it’s the way his eyes shine when he’s talking about things that he loves, but Jungkook can’t look away.

He lets Taehyung read him more quotes from the book, then Taehyung slots it back into the shelf, picking up another novel.

The Song of Achilles.” Taehyung is positively radiant, and it’s twenty minutes later when they’re both curled up into each other on one of the beanbags that’s in random corners of the store. “Where’s that part? Let me find— ah.”

Jungkook lets Taehyung press up close to him, murmuring excitedly about his favourite novels and reading out quotes to him. Taehyung's voice is low, hushed, but still every bit as eager as anyone can get. There’s light in his eyes when he’s talking about what he likes, and what he doesn’t like.

“Oh, oh. Listen, okay, this is me. I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else—”

They’re halfway through a novel by Neil Gaiman when an old lady peeks at them from around a shelf, and with a soft, apologetic smile, tells them that the shop is closing.

“How long have we been in here?” Taehyung looks around incredulously, but with all the shelves surrounding them, there’s no way to tell what it’s like outside the shop.

Jungkook pulls out his phone with a quiet chuckle, checking the time. “Long enough, it’s almost eight.”

“That’s almost five hours,” Taehyung turns around to gape at Jungkook, a mixture of awe and horror on his face. “I can’t believe you let me babble at you for five hours.”

“Well,” Jungkook almost stumbles over the single syllable. “Only I would love you enough, right?”

Taehyung looks at him, and there it is again, that feeling as if he’s about to say something, but he staves it off with a smile, wide and boxy. He hooks his arm with Jungkook's, and bumps their shoulders together. “I could just believe that.”

And Jungkook wants to.

He really, really wants to, especially when Taehyung's skin is warm and he’s so close, it’s only going to take one single second for Jungkook to reach down, slip his fingers with Taehyung's, to hold his hand.

Suddenly, Jungkook’s financial status isn’t that high up his list of problems anymore.

 

The second semester of the year starts off as the highest point on a roller coaster track, plunging straight down to academic doom, and if Jungkook had thought that college was aggressively suicidal back in the first two months of freshman year, then Freshie Jungkook would probably have never applied for undergraduate studies.

It’s almost torturous how Thursdays see him spending a straight eight hours in tutorials back to back, because his elective had ended up taking the evening slot on Thursdays instead of being scheduled for Friday afternoons (Jungkook almost writes in to complain, because I remember hearing something about Fridays being set aside for electives during the orientation day speech?) as they always do.

Jungkook is half dead by the time he stumbles out of the tutorial room, clutching his notes to his chest (it makes him feel insecure, because being a CompSci major meant that ninety percent of the time, he’s carrying his laptop around. Papers and pens have dwindled into something of the past, and doing a module on Understanding Art meant actually taking down notes, with a pen, on paper).

Taehyung is leaning against the door of the room opposite, holding two takeaway cups. There’s a boy standing next to him, and they’re laughing over something together, but once Taehyung spots Jungkook, his eyes light up, and he gives the boy a little wave before starting towards Jungkook.

“Looking good,” he flashes Jungkook a wide, teasing grin. “Loving those rings under your eyes.”

“Shut up. Who’s that, by the way?”

This isn’t the first time Taehyung's waiting for him with coffee at nine in the evening on Thursdays, and maybe that’s why Jungkook hasn’t gone mad yet. Nothing like bean water to keep his sanity in check.

Taehyung holds one of the cups out to him, and Jungkook immediately takes a long sip. The latte has gone lukewarm in the time that Taehyung had bought it and spent waiting outside the room, but it’s coffee all the same, and coffee regardless of its temperature is Good Coffee.

“You’re welcome,” there’s a low, sarcastic drawl in Taehyung's voice, and he snorts, taking the lecture pad from Jungkook's arms. “That’s Sungjae, he’s in my Gothic Fiction lectures. Also, I can’t get over the way you hold actual books. This isn’t a laptop, you don’t have to hold it like it’ll break when it falls.”

“I refuse to change the way I hold my stuff,” Jungkook grumbles, shooting Taehyung a look over the rim of his latte cup.

The other merely hums, slotting Jungkook's lecture pad into his bag and slinging it back over his shoulder. “Anything you say, babe. Where should we eat tonight?”

“I don’t really want to go anywhere,” Jungkook sighs, fixing Taehyung with a small, sheepish smile.

“We’ll just settle with our ramyun stash, then?”

If there’s anything that Jungkook really appreciates about Taehyung, it’s the fact that during these times, Taehyung never complains, never whines, and would always pat his cheek with an “all right”.

That, and the way that Taehyung has started to crash his dance practices with the excuse of having forgotten his dorm keys, so he has to wait for Jungkook in order to go back.

They’d leave last, Hoseok and Jimin fixing them with suspicious glances, for all the right reasons because the moment they shut the door to the studio, Taehyung has Jungkook pressed against the floor to ceiling mirrors, lips leaving a bloom of red along the side of Jungkook's neck.

“Fuck me,” he’d say, nipping at Jungkook's earlobe, and Jungkook's resolve is never strong enough, has never even been strong in the first place.

Jungkook fucks Taehyung slow and deep, pounding him from the back as he tugs gently at Taehyung's hair, making sure that he’s looking straight at their reflections.

“Look at you,” Jungkook growls, his voice hoarse, and Taehyung's whimper makes him teeter on edge. “You look so pretty like this, cheeks all pink and begging for my cock. Did you want me so bad you even sat through practice just to wait for me?”

Taehyung whispers, “yes,” head tipping back onto Jungkook's shoulder, eyes squeezing shut. “God, yes, I want you so bad.”

On the fourth time they walk back to the dorms from the studio together, Jungkook finds out. “Wait,” he says, as Taehyung's turning the key in the lock and opening the door to their dorm.

“Hmm?”

“Didn’t you forget your keys? I mean, that’s why you waited for me?”

There’s a short pause, then Taehyung laughs, the sides of his eyes crinkling. “Yeah, I probably didn’t search hard enough just now.”

Taehyung can say anything he wants, but Jungkook's seen the way his cheeks heat up, noticed the way Taehyung's smile is more of nervous than embarrassed.

 

“It’s time to confess.”

They’re all at Namjoon and Seokjin's apartment, at the complete mercy of Seokjin's cooking (he’s made kimchi fried rice this time, and it tastes so much like home that Jungkook almost gets onto his knees to cry. Judging from how quiet the entire table is, it’s safe to assume that everyone else is homesick too).

Jungkook looks up from his bowl when his skin starts to prick, and Seokjin is looking at him. “Uhm?”

Seokjin narrows his eyes, and when he points his spoon at Jungkook, he swears his heart skips a beat. “Are the two of you dating?”

Taehyung almost chokes around his mouthful of rice, and Jungkook wants to die because that makes everything unnecessarily suspicious.

“No? What makes you think that?”

“You’re always together, and don’t give me that bullshit about being best friends, because I don’t think best friends spontaneously make out and walk around with their hands in each other’s back pockets.”

This time, Jungkook is the one who chokes, “god.”

He doesn’t see the way Taehyung's smile falters, just a little. It’s hardly even there, just a flicker before it’s back, bright and soft.

“Come on,” Taehyung's saying, as Jungkook chugs down the rest of his water, face burning. “He’s a good stress reliever. You know it isn’t easy to find hook-ups these days, we’re all really busy.”

Jimin and Yoongi choke on their food at the same time, and Hoseok has to pat their backs.

“What?” Jimin wheezes, looking so disturbed that it would have almost been comical if not for what he says next. “You’re fucking. You’re actually fucking. I owe Hoseok fifty bucks now.”

“You bet on us?” Jungkook doesn’t know if he should be amused or offended, but Taehyung's laughing, so it’s probably not too bad (right?).

“All those times we left you two alone in the studio,” Hoseok lifts a brow, gesturing around with his spoon. “I mean, why else would you want to remain in an empty studio?”

“Taehyung forgot his—”

“He forgets them every time we have practice? Jungkook,” there’s exasperation seeping into Hoseok's voice, and he actually sighs, shaking his head. “Even if that’s true, the both of you aren’t that subtle at eye-fucking each other whenever we eat out. Jesus Christ, I’ve seen the way Taehyung looks at you.”

“I don’t—”

Filthy looks,” Hoseok says in a stage whisper, and Yoongi snorts. “Absolutely filthy.”

Before they leave, Seokjin gives Taehyung a new box of condoms (to Jungkook's mortification), “practice safe sex, kids,” he says, as if it’s the most casual discussion topic ever, and Taehyung's face is so red that Jungkook has to turn aside.

Namjoon offers to throw in some lube, but Jungkook's walking away so fast that he doesn’t know if Taehyung has accepted it or not.

 

When Jungkook wakes up, it’s to a warm weight on his stomach, eyes opening to a blurry, sleep-tainted silhouette.

Taehyung is sitting on his stomach, a pair of black-framed glasses perched on his nose, the ones that he always wears when he’s working on assignments and needs some sort of indication that he has to focus.

Jungkook mumbles, “what the fuck—”

“Shh,” Taehyung puts a finger to his lips, effectively shutting him up, and Jungkook just blinks, bleary and confused. Maybe a little worried. “I need to write a descriptive piece about watching the love of my life wake up in the morning.”

It’s way too early for him to become an emotional wreck, but Jungkook's pulse spikes up, thrumming almost pleasantly in his veins, pulsing in his ears. “I’m the love of your life?”

“Well, we’re kind of married.” Taehyung scrunches his nose up, glancing away just in time to miss the way Jungkook's smile sort of just dissolves into neutrality, or as much as he hopes it is. “It’s close enough.”

When Jungkook doesn’t reply, Taehyung picks his notebook up, and Jungkook catches some messy pencil scrawls on the page.

“Close your eyes,” there’s a faint plea in the undertones of Taehyung's voice that has Jungkook complying almost immediately. “Pretend you’re asleep, until I say you can open them.”

They stay that way, Jungkook's eyes closed in the soft morning light, and the only sound around them is the muted scratch of Taehyung's blunt sketch pencil running over paper (to take notes?). Taehyung doesn’t speak, and Jungkook doesn’t try to make him.

Jungkook doesn’t know how long they try to play pretend for, but when Taehyung tells him that it’s all right to open his eyes again, his voice is a faint whisper by Jungkook's ear, and Jungkook's eyes flutter open.

Their faces are so close that their lips are brushing, and Taehyung has everything but nothing in his eyes all at once.

Jungkook lets himself drift (Taehyung is an ocean and maybe that’s why Jungkook finally allows himself to admit that he’s in love with a boy who brings the beach to him, brings home to him, when home is so far away from the city), near drowning in all the words he wants to say but doesn’t know how to, he doesn’t trust himself enough to make a sound.

“Mm,” Taehyung says, “I like that expression.”

Then he’s gone and Jungkook feels disoriented from the sudden loss of proximity, leaving him with the remaining half of his heart lodged painfully in his throat. There’s a vague memory of himself at eight years old, stuffing too many marshmallows into his mouth during a game of Chubby Bunny.

It tastes sickly sweet, like death and reward at the same time.

 

Sunday morning finds Jungkook with his arms around Taehyung's waist as the other attempts to make scrambled eggs in a stainless steel bowl, on top of their portable induction plate (They’d fitted it on top of their shelf in the process of putting together their makeshift kitchenette, and the induction plate has since become an integral part of their lives).

“Shove it,” Taehyung's whining, trying to shrug Jungkook off his back. “I can’t move my arms properly.”

Jungkook just grunts and buries his face against Taehyung's nape. He hears a sigh, but Taehyung doesn’t complain again.

The door to their dorm opens, without warning, but it’s such a regular occurrence that neither of them even flinch as Jimin flops facedown onto the nearest bed, laying on his back. “I have arrived for breakfast!”

“None for you,” Taehyung quips, spooning a bite of eggs into Jungkook's mouth. “You should go buy us hash browns or something, peasant.”

 Jimin makes a small, indignant squawk, scowling as Jungkook conveniently nods in agreement, about to bite back with an insult of his own when Taehyung shuffles over to stuff him up with a mouthful of eggs too.

“You know,” Jimin says, later, when they’re all full and sprawled across Jungkook's bed. “The two of you are being so domestic that I might just believe that you got married without ulterior motives.”

Jungkook's heart hammers in his chest, and he hopes his laughter doesn’t come out too forced. “Money makes the world go round.”

He doesn’t know what he’d been expecting, perhaps laughter, or for someone else to continue the joke, but the silence that settles over them squeezes at his throat, threatens to choke him until he somehow swallows everything he’d said.

“I just remembered,” Taehyung is the first to speak up, his voice is soft, careful. “I need to return a book to the library, so I’m going to go first. Be back later.”

Jungkook watches as Taehyung shuffles around to throw some things into his bag, then he picks up his book and leaves the dorm without even looking back.

Suddenly, he feels like the shittiest person in the world, and apparently Jimin doesn’t hold back on telling him just so.

“You didn’t really mean that.”

Burying his face into a pillow, Jungkook groans, voice muffled. “Fuck.”

“You’re always doing this,” Jimin mumbles, sitting up to tug at Jungkook's shirt until he turns his head and meets the other’s eyes. “Saying things without thinking through. Some of the shit you say really hurts, you know?”

“I’m sorry.” Jungkook presses his face back into the pillow, feeling his skin flash hot and cold. “Fuck, I’m the worst. I just— I like him.”

It comes out as a whisper, with Jungkook lifting his head just enough so that he knows that Jimin's heard him, even if Jimin gives no indication of having so.

“I like like him,” Jungkook says, the realization stirring in him in slow storms, until he wants to throw up.

(This isn’t like how it is in the movies, Jungkook thinks bitterly. Not at all. He’s supposed to feel butterflies in his stomach, he’s supposed to feel so light he floats on his feet. He’s not supposed to feel like this.

Wasn’t love supposed to be a good thing?)

Jimin simply pats him on the back. “You’re screwed,” he says, “but I think you should tell him. He deserves to know. You know you’re just going to keep saying all those dumb things around him, right?”

“I didn’t mean—”

“I know, Jungkook.” Jungkook lets Jimin tug him into his lap, lets him thread his fingers through Jungkook's hair. “I know you don’t, but you have the worst defence mechanism, and you shouldn’t be trying to protect you from yourself anyway.”

“I don’t think he feels the same. I’m just going to make a mess of everything.”

“You never know until you try.”

“I don’t know, Jimin.”

Jungkook really, really doesn’t know.

 

One thing that Jungkook can’t tolerate when it comes to parties is that he’s never sure if the pounding in his head is from the bass of the deafening music, or if it’s from a headache, because of the loud music.

Jungkook's head is pounding.

But this time, it isn’t from the music, and it isn’t a headache. It’s from the furious thump of his heart in this throat, and he tastes bitter poison at the back of his tongue.

A couple of hours ago, Jimin had called him, asking if he wanted to go to a party at some guy called Jackson’s house. He’s a friend of Namjoon's and Namjoon had extended the invitation to all of them.

“It’s a Friday,” Jimin had said, solemnly. “As your friend, I cannot allow you to degrade yourself any further. It’s time to venture out of your shell, hermit. There is a whole world out here for you to see.”

“Fine, fine.” Jungkook had been typing up the last few paragraphs of his report, the very last one for at least two weeks to come. “I’ll go.”

“See ya!”

Jungkook had texted Taehyung and asked if he wanted to come along, but Taehyung had to work on some group project, so he passed.

And yet, here Taehyung is, pressed up against a wall, though clearly uncomfortable, and someone almost twice as wide as him is all up his personal space, holding out a red solo cup, one hand resting on Taehyung's waist.

The guy leans in, whispers something in Taehyung's ear, and Jungkook finally snaps, striding over to curl an arm around Taehyung's waist, pulling him closer. Possessive.

“Hey,” Jungkook's voice is low, almost bordering on dangerous from the surge of jealousy coursing through his veins. He knows that he shouldn’t be doing this, that whatever Taehyung does is not his problem, but fuck that. Fuck it all. “What’re you doing here, babe? I’ve been looking for you, why didn’t you answer my calls?”

When he looks up from Taehyung's surprised stutter, Jungkook knows he’s glaring, but he can’t bring himself to care. The guy seems to get the point, lifting a brow and backing away with both hands raised in mock surrender, sarcastic.

“Thanks,” Taehyung murmurs as Jungkook turns to face him again, letting out a sheepish little laugh, nudging his nose to Jungkook's cheek. “He was mega pushy and I didn’t know how to make him go away. You saved my ass, literally. I—”

“What the fuck are you doing?”

Taehyung stares at him, his smile unsure. “What do you mean? I was just… doing my thing. And then that guy—”

“I thought you said you had to work on a project?”

“Well, yeah,” Taehyung's brows cinch together into a tight frown, and Jungkook hates that he looks so clueless, that he doesn’t even know why Jungkook's getting mad at him. He hates that he’s the only one getting so worked up, because Taehyung doesn’t seem to care. “I finished it early and it’s a Friday, so why the fuck can’t I chill?”

“Chill, like go home with someone?”

There’s a pregnant pause after Jungkook lashes out, and even with the music blasting loud from the speakers all around them, the incessant buzz of drunken conversation in the background and maybe a couple cheers from games, Jungkook only hears the adrenaline flooding his ears; an increasingly growing panic.

“What’s with you these days?” Taehyung pulls away from Jungkook's side, harsh, and Jungkook stumbles back slightly, feeling numb. “Why do I have to tell you where I’m going and what I’m doing when you don’t even care?”

“I care—”

“Why the fuck do you?”

“We—” Jungkook sputters, searching Taehyung's face for any semblance of forgiveness. His words come out weak, near desperate. “We’re married.”

Taehyung inhales sharply, lips pressed into a tight line, then he breathes out through his nose, nostrils flaring. “Yeah. Yeah, we are. But we only did it for the financial aid. You said it yourself, Jungkook.”

Jungkook wants to tell him he’s sorry, wants to press his face against the slope of Taehyung's shoulder and breathe him in, pretend that the argument never happened, but then Taehyung's gone, and Jungkook is left standing alone in the middle of strangers.

He doesn’t know how long he’s been standing there for, staring at the wall, but when he finally comes to his senses, it’s to someone shaking him by his shoulder.

“Hey,” the guy says, “You doing okay, dude?” He’s slurring, a soft foreign accent in his words, probably slipping out due to how tipsy he is.

Vaguely, Jungkook makes him out to be Jackson, and he nods, voice strangled. “I’m okay.” He’s not okay.

“Do you…” Jackson purses his lips, glancing around, and when Jungkook follows his gaze, they’re the only ones in the living room. It’s a mess, with empty cups littering the floor and a couple chips here and there. “Do you need me to call someone?”

“No—”

“I change my phrasing. I’m going to call someone. Who did you come with?”

“No one,” Jungkook whispers, and Jackson watches him, a little more sober now.

“Who invited you?” There’s no threat in his question, but Jungkook picks up on the concern in Jackson’s voice, and he doesn’t want that. Doesn’t need that anymore. He just wants to sleep.

So Jungkook looks down, scuffing his sneakers quietly against the ground. “Namjoon.”

It’s about half an hour when Namjoon's car pulls up in Jackson’s driveway again, and Jackson stands from where he and Jungkook had been sitting on the front porch. He holds out a hand to help Jungkook up, then pats him on the back with a smile. “Go home, get some rest.”

“Jungkook?” Namjoon sticks his head out of the window, one hand on the steering wheel. “We thought you went back. Come on, get in. I’ll take you to the dorms.”

The ride back to the dorms is silent, and Jungkook keeps his gaze in his lap, Taehyung's words reverberating in the confines of his head.

Before Jungkook gets out of the car, Namjoon turns back, his smile soft. “You all right?”

“Yeah. Sorry about bothering you and making you come back to get me. I—”

“Hey, hey. It’s all right, kiddo. If you need anything, call me or Seokjin, yeah? You know we’ll always help you out.”

“Yeah,” Jungkook breathes, his throat tightening. “Yeah, thanks Namjoon. I got it.”

“No problem.”

Maybe it’s the hopelessness, or maybe Jungkook's just too tired, but right before he closes the door, he calls out. “Namjoon?”

“Mm?”

“What do you do when you like someone you’re having a no-strings with?”

 

(The lights are off when Jungkook opens the door. He takes a shower and lays in bed for an hour, maybe two. Maybe three.

Taehyung doesn’t come home, even when Jungkook's fallen asleep.

When he wakes up the next morning, Taehyung's bed is still empty, his pillow and blankets the way they’d been the night before.)

 

Jungkook sees less and less of Taehyung after that.

There’s the occasional glimpse that Jungkook manages to catch, but it’s usually when Taehyung comes back to take a shower before he leaves again. He can’t remember a single time in the last two weeks when they’ve spoken to each other (actually spoken, and had a conversation, not Taehyung tapping his fingers on Jungkook's desk and asking him where things are).

Taehyung only comes back at odd hours, when Jungkook's already asleep, and he leaves early in the morning, before Jungkook wakes. Taehyung's avoiding him, and Jungkook knows it.

Hoseok is the one who finally asks Jungkook about him and Taehyung, if they’re doing fine, because Taehyung was around last night and we haven’t had the both of you over together for a while, one of you are always busy.

“Great,” Jungkook answers, tone clipped, and if Hoseok notices how forced his smile is, he doesn’t mention it. “Fine.”

“You don’t have to lie to me, Jimin's been really worried about you two.”

“He doesn’t have to be.”

They’re both sitting cross-legged in the studio, towel draped around their necks, and Jungkook stares at himself through the reflection, remembers the last time both he and Taehyung had been in the studio together.

Taehyung had rode him, slowly, their foreheads pressed tight together until Jungkook had groaned and tipped his head back, knocking it against the glass of the mirror. “Fuck,” Taehyung had moaned by his ear, low and throaty. “Fuck, Jungkook.”

And Jungkook misses it. He misses the way Taehyung says his name, the way the syllables roll of his tongue when he does.

When Taehyung's sleepy and trying to struggle through a particularly vicious episode of anime. “Jungkook.”

When Taehyung can’t think of anything to write for his essays and Jungkook has finished all of his. “Jungkook.”

When Taehyung's at the counter relaying their drink orders to the barista and he forgets the extra requests Jungkook had wanted. “Jungkook?”

“Jungkook?”

Hoseok's frowning at him, just a little, because the guy is a literal ray of sunshine and he probably never ever really frowns.

Jungkook says, “yes?”

“I said,” Hoseok repeats, more slowly this time. “Try talking to him. He likes you a lot, Jungkook. You know that, right?”

“Oh.”

 

(Jungkook doesn’t believe him, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t think about it.

He likes you a lot.

Jungkook's staring at the ceiling the way he’s done for the past few weeks. It’s quieter without someone else breathing in the same space. Makes everything feel a little colder and lonelier.

You know that, right?

Sometimes, Jungkook's not sure what to know, and what not to know.)

 

Whenever Taehyung returns to the dorm while Jungkook is there, he never stays for longer than two hours. And he never smiles.

But when Jungkook spots him on a Wednesday afternoon, after an advanced programming lab, Taehyung is standing by the fountain in front of the campus building. He’s laughing, and Jungkook catches the soft echoes of it.

It fills him with nostalgia, and he’s already starting to walk towards him when he notices a second person with Taehyung. He recognizes the boy as Sungjae, the one Taehyung had said was in his lecture.

Taehyung bumps his shoulder to Sungjae’s, and Jungkook's heart drops to his stomach because it’s a familiar gesture, Taehyung had done the same to Jungkook so many times over the past few years. He hands are curling into fists, and he can feel his nails digging into his palms, but he stays where he is.

Sungjae says something, then leans in to plant a peck onto Taehyung's cheek. Taehyung's eyes widen, and—

Jungkook turns back the way he’d come and leaves. He doesn’t want to know what happens next.

Jimin drops by a little later that evening with leftover Chinese takeout, and finds Jungkook spacing out, sitting at the corner of the couch and staring at the blank wall opposite. He’s holding a half empty bottle of vodka in one hand and Jimin's eyes widen.

“Hey,” Jimin murmurs carefully, settling down next to him and slinging an arm around Jungkook's shoulders. “What’s wrong?”

“Had a long day,” Jungkook lets Jimin rub circles over his shoulder with a thumb, quiet and defeated. It’s a standard answer that Jungkook has decided on for whenever others ask about him. It’s safe and vague, also very legitimate in more ways than one.

“All right. I left the food in your mini fridge. Don’t forget to heat it up before you eat it.”

Jungkook speaks up when Jimin's hand is on the doorknob. His voice is so soft that Jimin could have missed it, but Jimin turns around anyway, sitting back down next to him.

“I think he’s dating someone.”

Jimin's brow lifts, and he’s confused for a bit. “Who? Taehyung?”

“I saw Sungjae kiss him on the cheek earlier.”

“Sungjae’s like that with everyone, Jungkook. I know him, I don’t think that means much.”

“At least he looked happy,” Jungkook says, eyes fluttering shut as his head starts to loll onto Jimin's shoulder. His cheeks are pink, and his words have started to slur together, blending. “He’s never happy when he’s here, with me.”

“Jungkook…”

“I miss him.”

Jimin stays for a little longer, leaving only for a bit to get Jungkook's blanket, draping it over the sleeping boy before putting the bottle of alcohol away. He tries to wait until Taehyung comes back, but when there’s no sign of Taehyung nearing three in the morning, Jimin thinks that he may understand why Jungkook has been so miserable lately.

He sends Yoongi and Hoseok a text, and stays over with Jungkook until he jolts awake in the morning to the sound of Jungkook retching into the toilet.

 

It takes almost a week before Jungkook racks up enough confidence to actually talk to Taehyung. He’s waiting on the couch when Taehyung opens the door, and he seems surprised that Jungkook's still awake (or maybe even more so that Jungkook is very blatantly waiting for him).

“Taehyung.”

They stare at each other, then Taehyung turns around, making to leave again. Jungkook almost stumbles over his laptop charger getting to the door in time, and he grabs at Taehyung's arm, desperate enough to let it show, it seeps from his skin, his voice.

“What?”

Jungkook tries not to notice how cold Taehyung sounds, how distant he’s being (he hadn’t even set his bag down). There’s a tension in the air so thick that Jungkook feels as if he might choke if he tries to breathe in.

“Will you stop being like this?”

An exhale through the mouth. “Like what?”

“Like…” Jungkook bites down on his lip, turning Taehyung around until they’re facing each other again. This, Jungkook wants to say. Like you don’t care about me. Like you don’t want anything to do with me. “Like whatever we had between us doesn’t exist anymore.”

He watches Taehyung's expression shift, and he lowers his head, eyes shadowed under his bangs. Taehyung lips part, as if to answer, but he presses it into a thin line, and Jungkook is suddenly aware of how hard his heart is beating against his ribs. Raging, racing.

Taehyung says, “nothing even existed between us in the first place,” and pulls his arm away from Jungkook's grip, twisting the knob until the door creaks open.

Jungkook doesn’t stop him again, but he does try one more time to make Taehyung stay. “I miss you,” he whispers, but it’s loud in the silence of the night. “I miss us.”

For a moment, Jungkook feels his hope rekindle, because Taehyung freezes, and his shoulders droop just a little. Barely noticeable, but then the flame flickers and dies down again. Taehyung steps out and lets the door close in Jungkook's face.

Taehyung doesn’t even have to say anything, Jungkook can hear his thoughts loud, ringing clear in the atmosphere.

There is no us.

 

Jungkook's phone lights up with an incoming call from Jimin. It’s a little over four in the morning, and Jungkook can’t sleep, his entire body still strung up from his earlier conversation with Taehyung. He can barely start to imagine why Jimin is calling him.

“Hello?”

“Hey,” Jimin sounds breathless, tired, “hey, Jungkook.” His words are strained, and Jungkook hears the exasperation in them.

“What’s up?”

“What happened?”

“What…?”

Jimin let out a long sigh, breathing loud into the receiver, and Jungkook swallows. “What happened,” he repeats, “with you and Taehyung? He turned up at our apartment looking like a fucking wreck.”

Jungkook chest squeezes, and he thinks of how Taehyung had looked right before he’d left. How exhausted he’d seemed from the back, as if talking to Jungkook wore him down and took him apart.

“Oh,” Jungkook's grip on his phone tightens until his knuckles go white. “He… is he okay?”

“It took all three of us about two hours before we could calm him down. He’s asleep now, but I swear to god, what the fuck happened?”

“I,” Jungkook takes in a deep breath, closing his eyes. He wants to know that, too. They’ve been skirting around each other for at least two months and honestly he’s tired, he’s so fucking tired of having to always gather up his shit just to talk to Taehyung only to forget everything he’s planned to say and watch Taehyung walk away again. “I told him I missed him.”

There’s silence on the other end, but Jungkook knows that Jimin's listening because there’s still static crackling across the line.

“Okay,” Jimin finally says. “Okay. Tell you what, meet you at the dorm lobby. I’m getting Yoongi to drop me off, we need to talk.”

Jungkook says “okay”, and numbly gets out of bed, shoving his feet into flip flops and getting into the elevator. It’s a slow ride down to madness, the yellow light flickering in the dim, tiny compartment, red digits flashing in descending order until he reaches the lobby.

He hears the sound of Yoongi's bike before he sees it, and Jimin's throwing his helmet off at Yoongi, who curses before catching it in his arms, clearly bewildered because his boyfriend’s best friend had turned up crying merely an hour ago, and now his boyfriend wanted a lift to meet his other best friend.

Jimin grabs Jungkook's arm and by all means drags him over to the tattered couch at the lobby, the one beside the shelf stocked with issues of the school’s monthly journal. “You two,” Jimin hisses, eyes bloodshot, “need to fucking stop this.”

“I—”

“What are the both of you even doing? Did you try to talk to him, really talk—”

“Do you honestly think I haven’t tried?” Jungkook's barely aware that he’s raising his voice with every consequent word, doesn’t give a fuck that it’s almost five in the morning. “He won’t even let me talk to him. He shuts me out, he doesn’t fucking listen!”

“Stop talking in circles with him.” Jimin's grip on his arm is relentless, but his eyes are softer now, no longer angry, just pleading. “You know how he is. He’s stupid at analysing things for someone who aced lit in high school and majors in creative writing.”

“What,” Jungkook spits, bitter and sarcastic, “I should just blurt out to him that I like him?”

“You do like him—”

“I love him,” Jungkook's almost yelling now, his breathing harsh. Jimin stops talking, and just stares up at him, his own chest heaving. “I love him,” Jungkook says again, in a whisper this time. “But, loving someone doesn’t make them obliged to love you back.”

Jimin lets go of Jungkook's arm, snatching up an issue of the journal from the shelf and shoving it into Jungkook's chest. He sputters, clutching at the magazine before it drops to the ground.

“Do you even read the school journal, dumbass?”

Jungkook doesn’t get it. “No.”

“Read it,” Jimin says, softly, and Jungkook has never felt more lost than he is right now. “And then for god’s sake, for your sake, spit the truth out into his face. He’s Taehyung, he’s been our best friend for four years. Nothing ever works out when someone’s left out of the loop. Let him know.”

 

It’s near the back of the issue, but Jungkook finally finds it in the literary section. There’s a piece whose title sounds familiar, too familiar, written under the alias “V”. Jungkook knows who it is, Jimin would know, too. Taehyung had asked them for suggestions back in freshman year, and it had been them who’d finalized it.

“Why do you need an alias?” Jimin had asked, then, but Taehyung hadn’t given them an answer, just smirked and flashed them a thumbs up instead.

But now, Jungkook knows what it had been for.

The piece is titled, “Watching the Love of Your Life Wake Up in the Morning”.

 

(Sometimes I wish he wouldn’t ever wake up, so I can trace my fingertip along the slope of his nose and the curve of his lips. He is beautiful in the light of sunrise, when he’s asleep, and I know that he doesn’t have to worry about anything. Not yet.)

 

It’s Hoseok who opens the door when Jungkook knocks the next morning. He smiles, letting Jungkook in. “He’s still asleep,” Hoseok murmurs, heading to Yoongi's room where Jimin had crashed at the night before (not that it’s strange, because having Taehyung stay over has become quite a regular occurrence the past two months).

Jimin saunters out, bleary eyed, and scowls at Jungkook, though in good nature, disappearing back into the room to drag Yoongi and Hoseok out of bed, declaring that they should go on a well-deserved date and have breakfast, ignoring Hoseok's sleepy whines. He gives Jungkook a discreet fist-pump before closing the apartment door, and the automatic lock sounds.

Taehyung is curled up around Jimin's pillow, looking so small and vulnerable that Jungkook's chest aches.

 

(But if I had a choice, I’d never want to watch the love of my life wake up, because the love of my life doesn’t know that he’s found a home in the centre of my universe. I’m just a stray meteor caught in his orbit, one day I will spin away, and there will be others like me.

Maybe one of those other meteors will be lucky enough to crash into him.

Maybe they’ll be the love of his life.)

 

He runs his fingers through Taehyung's hair, vaguely recalling the mornings he’d woken up like this, with Taehyung's fingers threading gently through Jungkook's hair, fingertips brushing over his scalp. Jungkook would lean into his hand, and Taehyung would laugh.

 

(Every morning, I fall in love with the flutter of his lashes just before he opens his eyes. His voice sounds best raw with sleep, and there is no greater pleasure than knowing that I am the first person he sees every day.

Later, in the afternoon, in the evening, he’ll see other people, but before them, I was there first, and I think there has to be some kind of miracle in that.)

 

Taehyung's eyes flicker open, and for a while, Taehyung smiles at him, leaning pliantly into Jungkook's touch, until Jungkook actually speaks, then he flinches, jerking back. Suddenly aware that he’s not dreaming.

“I read your feature,” Jungkook murmurs, quietly tugging Taehyung back against him, wrapping an arm securely around his waist.

“Oh.”

They don’t speak, and Jungkook lets Taehyung watch him. He doesn’t look away, not now, not when all he’s ever done is look away because he’s been too scared to let Taehyung know. He had been scared, when Taehyung had accepted his own feelings.

“It…” Jungkook starts, but his words trail off when Taehyung chews on his lip, eyes careful. “Our dorm doesn’t feel like a home without you in it.”

Taehyung's breath catches, and Jungkook doesn’t give him a chance to reply before he’s surging in, pressing their lips together. He kisses Taehyung, steals all the words right from his throat. Jungkook kisses Taehyung like he can’t get enough, like he’s starved for it, and Taehyung lets him, little noises bubbling up from his lips between gasps.

 

(Somewhere along the way, we will all realize that we only start chasing the things that we were once given a taste of, because we cannot want what we do not know. I think he makes me feel loved in the little moments that matter, and now I want every moment to matter.)

 

Taehyung's phone goes mad on the bedside table, right then, and as Jungkook groans, Taehyung moves to grab it off so the device doesn’t plunge to the ground from how hard it’s vibrating.

“What,” Taehyung grunts into the receiver, and Jungkook settles for mouthing over the exposed parts of Taehyung's shoulder instead, lifting a quizzical brow, wanting to know who it is. Taehyung puts the call on speaker.

“—on my bed!”

It’s Jimin.

“Mm,” Taehyung murmurs, a wicked glint in his eyes before he lets out a long, drawled moan that goes straight down to Jungkook's cock.

“No,” Jimin's saying, “I said no, no fucking in my bed. My bed.”

Jungkook ends the call before Taehyung can make any more obscene noises.  Firstly, Jimin had been a life saver these past two months, and it’s only right that Jungkook doesn’t give him grief for his good will. Second, Jungkook doesn’t want to spring a boner and actually have to fuck Taehyung in Jimin's bed.

It’s with much difficulty when they finally manage to get back to their dorm. The walk through campus had been so tensed that Jungkook hadn’t even been able to look Taehyung in the eye.

Three tries later, Taehyung finally turns the key in the lock with Jungkook kissing the back of his neck, hands smoothing up the hem of Taehyung's hoodie to caress the skin of his stomach.

“I’ve missed you,” Jungkook breathes out, his nose skimming along the inside of Taehyung's thighs. “I’ve missed you so fucking much.”

“I—” Taehyung lets out a little stutter, fingers gently tugging at Jungkook's hair. “I’m sorry I never stayed long enough for you to finish talking.”

Jungkook hums in response, kissing up Taehyung's thighs to the junction where they meet his hips, then stops. “What are these?”

They’re faint, red marks. Hickeys, but so faded that they’re almost unnoticeable. Taehyung sucks in a deep breath. “Oh, I... I’ve tried to… with other people,” he stops when Jungkook growls at this. “But,” he’s almost breathless, panic making his voice go up one octave. “I’ve never gone all the way. I just couldn’t. How could I?”

Taehyung reaches up, cupping Jungkook's face in his hands and pulling him up to press chaste kisses to his lips, and there it is, the fondness in Taehyung's eyes that Jungkook has missed so much, would give anything to see just two days ago.

“How could I,” Taehyung murmurs, “when my heart is somewhere else?”

They fuck slowly, Jungkook slipping a lubed finger into Taehyung one at a time, making sure to stretch him out as best as he can, until Taehyung is begging for more.

Jungkook sits up against the headboard, hands resting on Taehyung's hips as he lifts and drops himself in Jungkook's lap, riding his cock in a leisurely, unrushed pace. It makes Jungkook moan, tip his head back at how prolonged every thrust upward is, the friction hot and delicious around his cock. “Mine,” Jungkook rasps, fingers wrapping around Taehyung's cock to jerk him off in time with his bounces, and Taehyung's hips stutter.

“Yours,” Taehyung breathes, face buried into the side of Jungkook's neck. “Only yours.”

They come like this, with Taehyung gasping into Jungkook's shoulder, and Jungkook's grip on Taehyung's hips tighten until he knows there will probably be marks later.

 

(Whenever I watch the love of my life wake up in the morning, I’d wish that one day, he’d let me find a home in him as well.

For now, I will be the stranger who smiles at him from the other end of the world.)

 

By the time Jungkook stirs again, it’s almost three in the afternoon.

Taehyung is beautiful even in the harsh light of the afternoon sun, and Jungkook brushes his knuckles over his cheek, his throat tightening. He waits for Taehyung to open his eyes, and Jungkook smiles.

“I love you,” Jungkook says, and Taehyung's eyes widen, he stops breathing. “I want to do it right, this time.”

“Jungkook—”

“I want a home in us. I want—” it’s rushed and completely impromptu, but it has to be now. Jungkook knows it has to be now. He’s already dragged it out for too long. “I want whatever we have to be real.”

Taehyung takes a deep breath, smiles, whispers, “everything is real when you want it to be.”

 

(But one day, I will wake up too late on a Sunday morning, and the love of my life will be in the kitchen, in T-shirt and boxers, trying to scrape burnt eggs into the trash. He will turn around, and he will say, “I should have just stayed in bed and woken up with you.”)

 

“Hurry the fuck up,” Jimin's waving them over, amidst all the other graduating seniors. “Group photo! And then we have to throw our caps. It’s mandatory.”

Jungkook almost trips over his graduation grown, still wondering why on earth a piece of paper is worth so much torture, and four years of it, no less. “Hold on,” he shouts back, ignoring the glare that Jimin shoots him.

Eventually, he finds Taehyung in his third group hug within the last ten minutes, wrapping his fingers around Taehyung's wrist and making him glance up in surprise. “Jungkook?”

“Hey,” Jungkook says, “come with me.”

“What’s wrong?” Taehyung lets Jungkook pull him along, almost concerned. They’re already outside the auditorium, but Jungkook's not stopping. “Are you okay— oh.”

The moment they’re far enough from the crowd and the noise, Jungkook turns around and promptly goes down onto one knee. He fumbles around inside his graduation gown, and almost drops the blue velvet box. His throat closes up, and the first time he opens his mouth, the words he’d been meaning to say doesn’t make it pass his lips.

So, he tries again.

“Will you,” Jungkook clears his throat. “Marry me? I mean, I know we already are, but, will you marry me? For real this time, not for the financial aid, not for anything else, just for me.”

Taehyung breaks into the widest smile that Jungkook has ever seen up to date, and it dazzles the fuck out of him, leaves him punch drunk and disoriented.

“God,” Taehyung breathes out, and his voice is thick, eyes glassy with tears, but he stretches his hand out, letting Jungkook slip the ring onto his finger. It’s a simple, silver band, but to them, it’s much more. It’s a promise, and that’s all they need.

“Will you?” Jungkook prompts, teasing, and he smooths his thumb over the cool metal around Taehyung's finger, marvelling at the claim.

Yes, dumbass.” Taehyung laughs, softly, sniffles. “Took you long enough.”

Maybe it’s stupid, maybe it’s impulsive, but Jungkook likes to think that it’s recklessness that has brought them where they are now, and they’re not in a bad place.

Not a bad place at all.