Taehyung meets Jungkook for the first time when he is twenty--two years after his first break-up and six months since he’s gotten over his last one. Their first meeting was as normal as it could have been; Taehyung and Jungkook were in the same class, and sat next to each other not out of friendliness but out of a lack of available seats. Jungkook, a first year in college at the time, had not yet made any memorable friends, and so he decided not to move from his spot next to the older man.
They begin talking one month into their quiet schedules of sitting next to each other. Taehyung comes to class late that day, eyes half lidded and sleep deprived, with dark circles rimming the bottom of them. Jungkook shoots him a look of concern, but the other brushes it off with a small smile. The next day, there is a can of coffee on the chair he usually sits in, too sweetened for his liking. Taehyung drinks it anyways and calls out in thanks after class. Jungkook returns the notion with a shy wave as he rushes away.
They both decide to stay on campus for their winter vacation. Neither knows until one lonely evening, when Taehyung is carrying two containers of takeout too much for one person to finish and runs into Jungkook on the way back to his room. The other also holds a plastic bag in his hand, and Taehyung can see the outlines of a few containers of cup ramen and two bottles of soda from within. He returns the other’s sheepish expression with a wide smile of his own, holding up his bag of food in offering.
It’s vacation, and during vacation nobody sleeps early. The two of them spend their time curled on Taehyung’s bed with television reruns playing on Taehyung’s laptop, talking about useless things like which character they would like to hang out with for a day, or how many pieces of chicken they can fit into their mouth at one time.
They talk about some important things too, like what songs Jungkook listens to when he’s sad, or what Taehyung likes to paint to release his stress. They talk about their worries for the future, their worst days and their best ones, and fall asleep side by side, accidentally forgetting to brush their teeth and spilling the empty containers onto the floor in the middle of the night.
They start dating during Taehyung’s last year in university. The confession is a cute one, coming out by accident from Jungkook’s lips one evening as they lay together comfortably tangled in the blankets, waiting for sleep to come.
Truth to be told, Taehyung says it first, although he hadn’t meant it the same way. They’re talking about a recent embarrassing episode that had happened to Taehyung while he was in class. Taehyung has just finished recounting the horror when Jungkook laughs into his palm.
“Next time just call me over, hyung. I can give them a piece of my mind for you,” he jokes, and Taehyung laughs.
“That’s what I love about you, Kookie,” he says with a blissful sigh.
“I love you too,” the other calls back on instinct, voice hushed but full of feeling. The room is quiet for a few seconds as the words sink in, and when Taehyung looks over, eyes wide as he tries to determine the true meaning behind those words, he finds that the younger is flushed from neck up, eyes flitting in panic. He is probably trying to decide what the best course of action was, whether to run out of the room and never speak of the incident again, or maybe play the whole thing off as a joke.
“As in… like-like love?” Taehyung asks, and Jungkook splutters into a giggle at his innocent choice of words.
“Yeah,” he breathes back, gaze trained on the ceiling, and Taehyung feels something warm and fluttery settle in his stomach. He likes the feeling, he decides, likes it very much. “But I know you didn’t mean it that way, so--”
“No,” Taehyung interrupts, and Jungkook finally gathers the courage to look at his hyung. When Taehyung reaches out to hold his hand, a small, pleasant spark runs through the both of them, foreign but pleasant. “I didn’t mean it that way... but I don’t think we’re that far off after all,” he says, and the way his heart skips a beat when Jungkook’s face lights up at his statement only confirms this thought.
Taehyung first finds out that there’s something wrong with him after he graduates, holding an unsteady job in the studio and still trying to look for any run-down apartment in the neighborhood. When he first finds one he is ecstatic. The talks with the landlord go well, and he is told he can move in as soon as the man is finished readying the place for him, maybe as soon as a week later.
He tells his mom, who congratulates him with a warm hug and a bit of advice for the future. Don’t splurge too much, she says, and always give her a call if he needs her. Give her a call when he doesn’t either. He nods excitedly, and quickly makes to grab his phone.
Jungkook is surprisingly calm when he tells him of the fact. The tone of his congratulations is sincere, that Taehyung can tell, but the other is a bit more reserved than he would’ve liked to hear coming from the man he’s been dating for almost two years. The rest of their conversation goes in a similar manner, Jungkook sounding a little bit distracted and a little bit on edge the whole time, and Taehyung hangs up an hour earlier than he usually does with an unsettling feeling in his stomach.
He finds out the next day when Jungkook suddenly asks him to hang out for the night. Taehyung never says no, of course, no matter how busy he is, but this time when he enters his boyfriend’s house the place is empty and the rooms are dim and unnaturally tidy. The lighting reminds Taehyung of the house of a cult, which he doesn’t say out loud.
He doesn’t need to say anything, however, because when he walks into the dining room the place is elaborately set up and Jungkook is sitting there with nervous hands as he fidgets in his seat. His eyes light up when he sees Taehyung by the doorway, and he leads the other to sit down at the table.
It is hilariously mismatched, because on the table are wine glasses filled to the brim with soda, and two giant plates of ddeokbokki and barbeque fried chicken sitting next to fruit scented candles and carefully folded napkins. Taehyung takes one look at the food and his face splits into a grin.
“You’re a dork,” he says, and Jungkook laughs.
“I know,” he replies, “but just let me say it.” The speech has definitely been practiced, but even then it spills uncertainly from the younger’s lips, and afterwards when Taehyung turns the light on to spite the younger (and maybe just so he can gaze into and appreciate the other’s face more easily) Jungkook’s cheeks are dusted pink and his eyes roam from side to side at the table.
He feels it then for the first time, the feeling of being so full to the brim and utterly satisfied, but at the same time so empty and longing for the man in front of him even if he is only three steps away, and Taehyung can’t help but let the tears in his eyes spill down as he wraps the other in a tight hug.
It’s too early for their two year anniversary, but Jungkook promises him one each and every day of their remaining lives together, and maybe it is still a little too early for them to be making such promises to each other, but Taehyung doesn’t care. Here, in the other’s arms without a care for anything else in the world, he can’t bring himself to care. He’d gladly give the other the rest of his life.
Alas, Taehyung’s family is supposed to get a visit from their relatives the next day, and Jungkook walks him home in the small glow of the night sky, hands intertwined and hearts full. When they kiss outside his door it isn’t playful and fluttering like their usual kisses are; this time their kiss is deep and slow, holding all the meaning that they haven’t said to each other, and Taehyung feels a lurch in his heart that makes his breath stutter and catch in his throat.
When they pull away, Jungkook looks into his eyes and, different from his usual goodbye messages, gives him the most loving smile he has ever seen.
“I love you,” he says, and this time this is different. It is different, because Jungkook has never said it out loud before, nothing more since the first time that Taehyung heard when they started dating, and when Taehyung whispers it back he realizes that it may well have been his first, too. It surely isn’t the first time Taehyung has said it, but it is the first time he’s admitted it to Jungkook without the teasing in his voice, without the light-hearted laughter that comes after his usual proclamations of love. This time, Taehyung is one hundred percent serious when he says it, and he means it, too.
When he goes to bed that night his heart feels so full that it might just burst, and Taehyung goes to sleep holding his left hand close to his chest, his finger newly wrapped around by a simple silver band that he never wants to let out of his sight. The ring is his promise for forever, he thinks, and as long as his love holds true he will never let it go.
The next day, Taehyung wakes up feeling a pounding headache and a disoriented mind as his phone’s alarm beeps for him to wake up. It’s Saturday, he remembers, but he also remembers his mother making a fuss for the past week about her sister visiting with her family, which means he still isn’t allowed to sleep in today.
With a sigh, Taehyung rubs his hand against his face in an effort to wake himself up, and finds the motion much more effective than he had hoped as something hard scratches his cheeks from the force. He yelps a little in shock, and pulls his hand away to inspect whatever had caused the damage. His vision focuses in on a silver ring on his ring finger, and he stares at it in confusion.
It doesn’t look fake, that’s for sure, but why he has it on he doesn’t know. The ring is simple and elegant, something that seems more for sentimental purposes than it would be for fashion, and it definitely isn’t Taehyung’s taste. He pulls it off without second thought and leaves it on the table next to his bed as he rolls himself out of it to prepare for the day.
He receives a message on his phone later that day from a contact saved as nothing but a smiley-face, someone he doesn’t remember knowing at all. It wishes him a simple good morning, and Taehyung scrolls through past messages to try and gain a sense of who this person is, and he comes up with nothing but mindless conversation. He sends a question mark back at the person, who replies a few hours later with a question mark of his own. Taehyung shrugs and ignores it.
His mother asks him a few days later how everything is going in his life, and Taehyung replies with a smile. It’s great, he tells her, he’s already noted down the things he has to pack for his new apartment, and work at the studio is slow but fun. When she looks at him as if waiting for him to continue, he nervously adds that he’s been looking for ways to try and put his own work on display.
She looks a little troubled, and nods uncertainly, and Taehyung half-smiles back at her, not knowing what else to say to that expression.
Three days later, another text comes in.
‘Tae, are you busy? Do you need help packing?’ the message says.
Taehyung stares at it blankly, trying to remember just who he’s told about his new apartment, but his mind pulls up blank other than his mother and the rest of the family. He politely replies that no, he’s fine, thank you. When a message replies back with an ‘Ok…’ he pays no mind to it, and tosses his phone back onto his bed, continuing to organize his things into different boxes.
His mother asks him if there’s anything wrong that night, and he replies with a confused smile. He’s fine, he tells her, and asks her why she thinks there’s something wrong.
His mother looks like she isn’t sure what she should say to that, and she slowly replies with another question, asking if he’s troubled or has had a fight or anything.
Taehyung blinks. “I’m positively peachy,” he says, shooting her a wide grin that usually puts a smile on her face, but this time her expression is still not convinced, and Taehyung fills the awkward silence with talks about his ideas on how to decorate his new apartment.
A call comes in from the smiley-face contact another two days later, and Taehyung answers his phone with a perturbed expression and an uncertain voice.
“He...llo?” he says slowly, and there is an audible sigh of relief on the other line.
“Oh thank god, I thought you were dead or something.”
“Um, excuse me?”
“You hadn’t called for a few days, and I didn’t want to just stop by because I thought maybe you were busy,” the voice says again.
“Okay…” Taehyung replies, unsure of what to say. Was this person a friend he hadn’t spoken to in a long time? But even so, he isn’t sure he would so readily forget about someone he was close enough to give a nickname to on his phone.
Apparently, the other notices the hesitation in his voice. “Tae?” he asks, surprising Taehyung with the usage of his nickname. “Are you okay? You sound… you don’t sound too good.”
“Uhm…” Taehyung starts, not sure what he should say to make this not awkward. But then again, forgetting someone’s name is nothing if not awkward, and a little bit insulting. “I’m sorry, it must’ve been a long time since we’ve talked but…” he drifts off. “Uh, who is...this?”
“...” The other line is silent for a few seconds, and Taehyung calls into the phone to see if it is still connected. “...What?” comes the disbelieving reply a bit later, and Taehyung laughs nervously.
“I’m sorry, it’s just, your name isn’t on my contacts list, and I don’t think we’ve talked in awhile or something, so I really can’t remember you--but it seems like we were really close! Maybe we can catch up one day--”
“What--Tae, did I--did I do something wrong? You’re joking with me, right??” the other cuts him off, voice sounding rushed and panicked, and Taehyung laughs nervously. “Why are you treating me like I’m a stranger or something?”
“I--um, sorry, I’m kinda busy…” Taehyung drifts off, suddenly not feeling like he wants to continue the conversation. “Maybe I can catch up with you later, yeah?” he says, and mumbles a bye into the phone before he ends the call, despite the other’s protests. It sends an uncomfortable feeling down his stomach, but he makes to ignore the vibrating on his phone until finally, one hour later, it stops.
When he checks it, there are thirteen missed calls and a grand total of thirty-four messages of apology and confusion. Taehyung doesn’t reply, however; he himself is confused at the situation. He hopes that these missed calls and messages are the end of it, but deep down he knows that it can’t just be so easy.
Taehyung finds out his answer a few hours later, when the sky is dimming and his mother is busy preparing for dinner. Taehyung, having finished his packing and with a little boredom to spare, wanders around the living room, flipping channels on the television and poking his head into the kitchen every few minutes. He has conveniently left his phone upstairs in his room so as to not have to worry about the mysterious stranger, but that plan proves futile when there is a ringing at the door. His mother asks him to see who it is, and without much thought Taehyung calls back an affirmation and goes to answer the door.
When he opens it, he is met with a boy quite possibly younger than him with beautiful brown eyes and a pleasant face. The person seems like he had been in a rush, his breathing coming out fast and unevenly. Taehyung smiles pleasantly.
“Hello!” he calls. “Can I help you?”
“I came straight from class,” the boy says, and the smile falters on Taehyung’s face, because he recognizes this voice. It is clearer in person, but it is undoubtedly the same person who had called him earlier that day.
“You know my address?” Taehyung asks, slowly, and the person looks at him as if trying to read him.
“Why wouldn’t I,” he says back unsurely, and Taehyung shrugs with the same uncertainty.
“Um, I don’t know…”
“Sweetie, who is it at the door, you’re letting the cold air in!” his mother calls from the kitchen, and he hears her footsteps approaching the living room.
“Uhh--” he calls back, but stops when he realizes that no, he still doesn’t know this person’s name yet.
“It’s Jungkook, aunty,” the boy calls back politely, and the same time that Taehyung turns to get a good look at the person at the door and match the name to his face, his mother comes out and lets out a delighted smile.
“Jungkook,” she calls fondly. “It’s been a while since I’ve heard about you. How’s school?”
“Uhm, it’s fine,” he says, eyes not leaving Taehyung’s questioning gaze.
“...Mom,” Taehyung finally says, turning around and stepping aside. “Is he a friend of ours?”
“Tae,” Jungkook calls, and his face looks hurt. Taehyung stares at him, pressing his lips together, before he looks to his mother for help. But the woman is frozen in her spot, eyes widened in horror as she stares back at her own son. In this situation, Taehyung can’t help but feel like he’s the odd one out.
“...Mom?” he calls again, and his mother finally chokes on her breath, before breaking down into hard sobs.
Taehyung learns for the first time that he used to have a grandmother whom he loved very dearly. His mother shows him a picture of her in their family album, and her face is familiar. He’s heard many stories about her, but he doesn’t remember holding such strong an affection for her as he’s being told; he doesn’t even remember visiting her at all, really.
But apparently he has, has visited his grandmother for a week every summer since he was five until she had passed away when he was thirteen years old. She was a sweet woman, loved Taehyung dearly and always spoiled him the most whenever the families went over to play.
His mother told him how his grandma would hold him in her arms at night and tell him stories of her childhood, how she went out of her way to go and plant the flowers he said he had liked one day when they took a walk in the park, how she always prepared his favorite foods and stuck all of his drawings on her refrigerator to look at whenever she woke up.
His mother told him how much he had loved his grandmother as well, how he always drew her first when he declared he would paint a masterpiece for the family, how he always wandered into the kitchen so that he could watch his grandmother cook in the morning, how he climbed into the blankets with her and asked her to tell him stories about what it was like when she was young, and then proceeded to massage her shoulders in the morning when he found her pounding down wearily on them. Taehyung shakes his head as he listens to his mother ponder over the younger years fondly--he doesn’t remember anything of the sort.
She smiles, a little bitterness in her eyes. “You’ve forgotten every summer after you left,” she tells him, and Taehyung’s eyes widen in shock at the information.
“It broke your grandmother’s heart every year when you would go back and stare at her shyly like she was a scary lady. But you were a sweet kid. You opened up quickly, like you always do,” his mother recounts. “You always forgot about her, but you never stopped loving her in your heart, Taehyung-ah.”
She tells him that they had gone to the hospital a countless number of times, but every single time tests were done the results always came out negative. There was simply nothing wrong with Taehyung’s body no matter how much they checked, and it came to a point where the doctors had to advise against so many tests because the radiation was starting to have a negative effect on the young boy’s body.
They had to give up on figuring out what was wrong with him, however, and maybe it was a good thing, because when Taehyung’s grandmother had passed away at the beautiful age of eighty-nine, Taehyung had not been as devastated as he would’ve been. The loss of his memories had made it easier for him to move on, and hearing these words from his mother, Taehyung feels sick to his stomach.
He doesn’t want to be the only one feeling better--if anything, he wishes he could remember what he is hearing, wishes he could’ve experienced the pain in exchange for keeping the memories. But he is broken, and he leaks love, and all that remains of the woman he’s heard about are the stories and the pictures of him on her lap, arms around her neck. The boy in the photo smiles widely like he is happiest boy on Earth, but Taehyung stares and he cannot remember.
When he turns his head, he sees the other boy, Jungkook, sitting at the farthest corner of the couch. He seems visibly shaken, eyes dull and unfocused, and Taehyung’s heart breaks at the sight of it. He doesn’t remember, not in his head, but what he does know is that his lack of feelings are telling him that he must have loved this boy very, very much.
“I’m sorry,” he calls softly, and it takes a while before the other realizes that the words are directed towards him, and he looks over with an unreadable expression.
“I…” he starts, unsure of what to say. “Hyung, you’re my closest…” his voice breaks a little at the end, and he cuts off abruptly. Taehyung stares at the boy who refuses to make eye contact with him, looking so lost in the room, and it breaks his heart too that he cannot remember the other. Jungkook lets out a frustrated sigh, clenching his eyes shut. When he opens them again, they seem softer, determined, almost.
“What do you say about… trying again?” he asks quietly, and Taehyung blinks. “If you would like, we could… we could be friends, at least? You’re one of the few friends I have, hyung.”
And Taehyung smiles, a flutter making its way to his heart. As of right now, this boy is a stranger to him, and he doesn’t know a thing about the other, but seeing the other’s eyes light up with hope as he nods at the proposal, he can’t help but think that maybe, it would be easy to fall back into friendship with this person.
They start on a positive note; Jungkook stays over for dinner, and although Taehyung finds it awkward at first it seems that the invitation has been passed over to him so many times that conversation falls easily within the group. Taehyung and Jungkook sit next to each other, and Jungkook knows what dishes Taehyung likes, what he is willing to try, what he prefers not to eat. He knows what to say to make Taehyung laugh, what inside jokes and anime references Taehyung makes to himself each day, knows when he is serious and when he is not.
When he has to go back, they end the note in a positive light, and Jungkook leaves with a wide smile and a small wave. Taehyung reciprocates it with a genuine one of his own.
Later that night, when he mindlessly scrolls through his phone, his finger presses the button leading to his gallery, and Taehyung is shocked to see the many pictures he’s collected over the years that have Jungkook in it. He remembers the setting for some of them, remembers visiting that one sweets shop that had newly opened and was offering everything fifty percent off, remembers his trip to the river during sunset to try and get inspiration. Many of these places are in his memory, with the only absence of it being the presence of Jungkook in all of them.
A little sadly, Taehyung scrolls all the way down until he reaches the very first picture that he’s saved of the other, eyes widening as he reads the date to be sometime three years ago.
He is younger back then, his hair still black and his fashion sense limited to a few cool looking sweaters and jeans. Jungkook looks almost like a kid, jawline not as sharp as he recalled the other’s being today, and a bit of baby fat still in his cheeks. What remains the same, however, is the smile he holds as he looks into the camera.
The pictures seem to show the progress of their relationship, and it’s funny, really, how Taehyung can pinpoint the exact moment where their relationship seems to have changed. It’s just another selca of the two of them, but in this one Taehyung presses against Jungkook just a little closer, and although his smiles aren’t as wide as usual, his eyes are the most content he’s ever seen. It’s a him that he doesn’t know, doesn’t remember. Taehyung has lost three years of memories spent loving this person, he realizes with a chill.
After he goes through his photos, Taehyung falls asleep with a wet sleeve placed over his eyes.
It’s easy to fall in love again with Jeon Jungkook, Taehyung thinks. It takes him exactly two months again for him to feel those flutters that he can associate with love.
Jungkook is endearing, with a cute smile and laugh that he seems to only show Taehyung. Since they’re past the stage of awkward meetings, with Taehyung being someone who just always shows himself at the very beginning, and Jungkook having the advantage of three years worth of memories and facts about his hyung, their friendship falls easily. Sometimes Jungkook will forget, though, that they are no longer what they used to be, and he will wrap his arms around Taehyung, or will press his face close into the other’s neck.
Taehyung will flush at those times, and Jungkook will pull back with a start and an apology. Taehyung always says it’s fine, and to be honest with himself he never really minds.
Exactly two months later, when Jungkook calls Taehyung with an excited voice, the younger rushes to the man’s new apartment waving a paper at his face.
“It’s a showcase,” he says with bright eyes. “For dance--I was chosen to be one of soloists, and oh gosh, hyung, I’m so happy, I was--I kept practicing for it, and I can’t believe it came true!” If Taehyung knows anything about the younger in the time frame they’ve been together, it is that Jungkook is unusually quiet when it comes to his university life, and although he has his fair share of friends, Taehyung doesn’t think Jungkook’s the type to go around sharing his excitement so openly to others. He gives him a wide smile in congratulations.
“I can’t wait to see you,” he says, and Jungkook looks at him with wide eyes, before his face breaks out into a hopeful grin.
“Are you coming, hyung?” he asks. “You won’t be too busy?”
Taehyung shakes his head. He wouldn’t give up the chance to see his dongsaeng do something he was so passionate about, after all. Jungkook’s always told him anecdotes of him staying at his dance studio for hours until it was time to lock up, and the younger has fallen asleep on the table of Taehyung’s apartment countless times for him to know that dance was not just something to pass the time. “Anything for you,” is what comes out of his mouth.
Sometimes Taehyung will say things that make Jungkook feel as if everything between them is all right, was how it used to have been. At those times he will tell himself that his hyung is just being nice like he always is, but this time, in the heat of the moment, Jungkook forgets all those things that he has to remind himself of daily. Cupping the other’s cheeks, Jungkook bring’s Taehyung close to him and tilts his head, pressing his lips against the other’s in a gentle kiss.
Taehyung’s heart stutters, and his breath catches in his throat, and after a while Jungkook pulls back with a wide smile, teeth peeking out. He sees the swirl of emotion in Taehyung’s eyes and the smile disappears. “Oh--oh god, hyung, I’m so sorry, I wasn’t thinking--” he says quickly, but Taehyung shakes his head.
“It’s okay,” he replies quietly.
“But it’s not okay, I did that without your permission, and--”
“It’s okay, Jungkookie,” Taehyung says, again, and Jungkook grows quiet, looking into the other’s eyes.
“...Okay,” he says a while later, his voice cutting through the silence. “...Can I do it again?” he asks.
Taehyung doesn’t move for a bit, but Jungkook remains patient as he stares into his hyung’s eyes, and finally the other nods. It is just one bob of the head, so slight that the younger blinks his eyes, not sure if it was him just imagining things or not. But then Taehyung nods again. “Okay,” he says quietly.
Jungkook closes the distance carefully between the two of them, but when his lips meet the other’s Taehyung lets out a contented sigh and presses back naturally, almost like he is used to Jungkook’s touch. It is light and sweet, but it lifts a weight off of both of their shoulders, and when Jungkook pulls back there is a shy smile on each of their faces.
They don’t mention the kiss and for a bit, everything turns back to the way it was again, when they were just friends and talked easily around the other. But the dance showcase at Jungkook’s university comes, and after his performance Jungkook meets Taehyung at the entrance of the university. The other gives him a smile, and there are no flowers but Taehyung hands him a bottle of soda in congratulations, which he takes with a smile of his own. Something silver catches his eyes.
On Taehyung’s finger is a familiar silver ring, one which Jungkook had had to stop wearing but kept around his neck attached to a silver chain of its own, and Jungkook’s eyes waver as his gaze catches on it, words unable to come out.
Taehyung seems to notice his gaze, following it down to where his finger is, and ah, he knows what the other is looking at now. When Jungkook looks back up at him his eyes are shining bright, and Taehyung can’t help but to return the look with a smile of his own.
Taehyung forgets Jungkook for a second time half a year later, when everything seems to be going perfectly for him. Jungkook has graduated from university and has found work as an intern in a small magazine company. Taehyung had been surprised when he first heard about it, because the other never seemed to mention anything about his love for writing. When he had told him that, however, the younger only shrugged with a strange expression, telling him he must’ve forgotten. Taehyung doesn’t think he would’ve forgotten anything as important as his boyfriend’s major, of all things, but then the implications of the sentence come together and he quiets, giving Jungkook a guilty pout of apology. Jungkook had laughed then, telling him it wasn’t an issue since he knew now.
It turned out that the company building was situated somewhere close to Taehyung’s apartment, and after weeks of waking up at cruel hours of the morning to make the daily commute to work only to get back at late hours in the evening, Taehyung makes the offer of having Jungkook moving into the apartment with him.
The younger is at first unsure of the idea. He doesn’t want to impose, he says, but Taehyung isn’t having any of it. They’ve been dating for half a year already, which is probably a really short amount of time, but Jungkook’s known him for far longer, even if he can’t remember, and if the other hasn’t left him yet then Taehyung was more than willing to let the other stay.
And so Jungkook moves into Taehyung’s place on a warm day, after the two of them sort out the new changes with the landlord of the place. The lady is sweet about it, only raising their rent based on electricity and water, probably due to the fact that she’s seen Jungkook around the place so often that they’ve both become familiar with her.
Their schedules end up not matching each other’s too well; Taehyung is a little more flexible with his hours but he prefers to go to the studio in the afternoon, and Jungkook works in the morning and spends his nights at the dance studio, and the two of them only manage to see each other for a few hours a day and in the weekends. Nonetheless, the presence of someone else living in the apartment is satisfying, and Taehyung lets a smile bloom onto his face whenever he sees his lover’s cup and towel in their bathroom every morning.
One night, Taehyung returns to the apartment much later than usual, in the hours between midnight and sunrise, and he finds a few plates of food carefully wrapped and set out on the counter of the small kitchen. The sight makes him smile, before his tired mind recognizes that the dishes are a little too full to have been left over for just one person. His suspicions are confirmed when he opens the rice cooker to see it still full and untouched, and he heads over to their bedroom to find Jungkook curled up in sleep, mouth open wide and dead to the world around him.
The sight is adorable, and there is a lurch in Taehyung’s chest as he watches the other sleep. Carefully, he pokes Jungkook in the cheek and stifles a giggle when the other snaps his mouth close in a trained action.
“Kookie,” he coos, and there is no answer. “Jungkook-ah, why didn’t you eat without me?” he asks again, pecking the other on the cheek. Jungkook stirs in his sleep, moving slightly on the bed before his body stills again, and a fond smile blooms on Taehyung’s face. “You’re going to be hungry in the morning,” he whispers again, stroking his lover on the cheek.
At this, Jungkook stirs from sleep, his eyes opening tiredly and falling on Taehyung, who stares back at him in apology for waking him up. Wordlessly, he pulls the other man down and curls an arm around him before falling back to sleep.
Taehyung protests for a little; his clothes are dirty from sitting in the studio all day, but Jungkook only presses a kiss to his forehead and grumbles incoherently. He looks unconscious, but his fingers mindlessly card through Taehyung’s hair in an effort to lull him to sleep. The action is comforting, and Taehyung finds it working as his body slowly relaxes, his gaze trained on the man in front of him.
He thinks he could stay like this forever, silent in the night with Jungkook pressed close to him, and before he finds his eyes closing completely he presses a careful peck to the other’s lips, a silent ‘I love you’ hanging through the air. The two sleep like that, arms around each other and bodies close.
The next day, Taehyung wakes up to an empty bed and two layers of blankets on top of him, which he kicks away with a sigh. He lolls in bed for half an hour and is almost about to fall back asleep when his alarm finally rings, and he checks the time only to curse and push himself up and out of bed. He would have to wake up now if he even wanted a chance to get an impromptu meal down his system before heading out to work.
He realizes that something is weird when he goes to the kitchen and there is already leftover food there, warm and ready to eat. There’s a note wedged underneath with handwriting that is not his, saying that he will return home late. Taehyung stares at it blankly, before he suddenly begins to feel a little nauseous. Shakily, he unlocks it phone, and stares at the wallpaper on his homescreen. It is a picture of him and someone else, smiling happily into the camera. The picture seems to have been taken quickly, because it is blurred at the edges, and Taehyung himself looks like he has just woken up. But still, he can see the utter happiness in the two faces staring back at him, and this realization has him turning a little pale.
He doesn’t remember the dark haired man in the photo, but he remembers the conversation he had with his mother almost half a year ago. He remembers looking through their family albums, hearing about a grandmother he supposedly loved but couldn’t remember, and as the screen on his phones darkens back to black he realizes that maybe he loves this man too. He loves him, but he can’t remember him.
Taehyung doesn’t go to the studio that day; he calls in sick, and from hearing the shaking in his voice it doesn’t take much more convincing for them to wish him well, maybe even another few days off if he likes. He hangs up with trembling fingers, not sure what to do afterwards, and spends a good amount of time just sitting on his couch with a dazed expression, fingers holding his phone loosely.
He falls asleep on the couch like that, and startles awake to the feeling of something draping over him. Looking around dazedly, he is met with a silhouette in the dark, and he mumbles in confusion, mind still not attuned with the real world yet.
There is a light chuckle in the air. “Did you not go to work today, hyung?” the voice asks him. Taehyung shakes his head mindlessly, before he blinks and quickly sits up. A pang shoots through his head, and as he clutches it with a groan a soothing hand cards through his hair.
“You shouldn’t have slept so much. You won’t be able to sleep tonight,” the voice says, and Taehyung looks up. The man stares back at him lovingly, and his steady gaze is slightly unsettling. Suddenly, Taehyung is a little scared.
“Uhm…” he calls out, voice raspy from sleep. The other hums in reply. “Are… are you my lover…?”
The air turns tense within a split second, and the man’s gaze turns into one of shock, then horror, before it schools into something so indiscernible that Taehyung isn’t sure how to react. Finally, the man opens his mouth to speak.
“You don’t remember me,” he says.
Their third beginning is only awkward for a week, in the time that Taehyung doesn’t know how to react around the other. Jungkook has been sleeping on the small couch these days in an effort not to make the other any more uncomfortable than he already is, and they manage to make small talk in the short amount of time when they are both together.
But it is easy to love Jungkook, Taehyung thinks as he sees the other snuggling into his blanket on the couch one night. It would be easy to love him again, and the smiles he gives to Taehyung whenever he comes home from work, or the small loving touches Jungkook will give to Taehyung at night when he thinks he is asleep, holding his hand gently and brushing the hair from his face. But Taehyung is scared to fall this time, because it’s as if his body has remembered the feeling of loving Jungkook much more readily than his mind ever will. He leans into the others touch sometimes, seeks his warmth in the middle of the night, and from what Taehyung has found out from his mother, he knows that if he falls again, he will fall hard. And then he will forget.
One day, Jungkook hands Taehyung an elegantly bound book, and the latter takes it questioningly in his hands.
“I didn’t know if it was going to happen again,” he says, pressing his lips together afterwards. “But I thought that maybe it would help… in case you woke up and decided that you didn’t want to give me a chance this time.” Taehyung blinks, before he opens the book, and his eyes widen as he notes the pretty handwriting on the sheets. Each page was written carefully, as if the story being told is a precious part of history, and as he skims it he recognizes his name on many of the pages.
“What…” he starts, looking back up at the other, who seems to be fidgeting in his spot.
“It’s a journal. A bit of the entries are useless, but…” Jungkook pauses, shrugging slightly. “I wrote down our first meeting from memory. And a bit of what I remember after that, too. And after a while it kind of just became something I used to record our memories in,” he says. “I thought maybe it would be a good idea, if you wanted. To kind of just, I don’t know. Write down whatever you find meaningful. So that you can at least try to keep the memories in case you lose them.”
Taehyung continues to stare at him with an unreadable expression. “You don’t have to, of course,” Jungkook adds quickly, but Taehyung shakes his head.
“No, that’s… that’s really sweet of you. I’ll try to use it as much as I can. Thank you, Jungkook-ah,” he says. Something flashes across the younger’s eyes, but it is gone too quickly for Taehyung to analyze, and he smiles back at him uncertainly.
“Yeah,” he calls, voice sounding a little sad. “No problem.”
Taehyung’s first contribution to the journal comes late that night, or early in the morning, whatever one would consider the time. There are dried tears staining his cheeks that he had forgotten to wipe off, lost in the midst of reading each entry as carefully as possible.
‘His name is Jeon Jungkook,’ He writes carefully, not sure if his words are worthwhile enough to out on the paper. ‘And I trust him.’
Sometimes Taehyung will read the journal and he will be filled with warmth at the detailed descriptions written in neat handwriting. Sometimes he feels angry, because the accounts feel like something made up from a fictional novel, and at these times he will scoff until he reaches his own part of the journal.
At these times, he turns quiet, because the messily scrawled words are undoubtedly in his handwriting, and although they are much less skilled and not as eloquently put, they are words that are filled with raw emotion and, undoubtedly, is him, his heart, writing.
Many of them are little anecdotes, just small things like ‘Jungkook brought home ramen for dinner tonight,’ or ‘Today was our day off, and I really want a dog but the apartment doesn’t allow for any so we went to a pet shelter and I named them all and the small white one I named after Kookie it was really cute,’ followed by a drawing of a cute puppy in the pages. Taehyung laughs at these, eyes crinkling up as he turns the pages. It makes him wistful, not being able to remember more than half of these small moments he had shared with the other.
If he remembers going on a picnic, he doesn’t remember Jungkook sitting with him, eating all of the tomatoes because he had asked him to. When he thinks back to his daily visits to the park, his mind pulls up blank when he reads that Jungkook had come along on one of his walks and sang to him when they sat down to rest. But it’s these things that he can’t remember that make him fall more and more easily each time.
And then there are the entries he writes late at night, when the other is fast asleep on the bed next to him, after Taehyung has opened up enough to be comfortable with the other all over again.
These entries hurt the most, because Taehyung can see the wrinkles of the paper and the smearing of the ink from where his tears have fallen.
He realizes something the seventh time after he falls in love with Jungkook again, as he fingers the edges of the pages in his book, eyes scanning sadly down the entries. The book is almost three quarters of the way full at this point, each page condensed and filled with words. It takes longer to read each and every time, but as Taehyung flips to and from the pages right before he marks a new beginning, he sees a familiar pattern in his writing.
Nearing the end of each time frame is one entry, a little bit longer than the rest, written in careful letters.
‘I love him so much I feel like my heart is going to burst,’ one of them reads. ‘He gives me a feeling of being complete and whole. I feel so full that my heart wants to spill, and even then I feel like everything is just a dream.’
‘I feel really happy tonight,’ another one reads. ‘It’s like my heart is lurching in happiness, like something keeps pounding at it with every heartbeat that I feel.’
There’s a signal to it, he realizes, a certain feeling that he always has before he will forget. Each and every time, without fail, it is the feeling of his heart leaping into his throat and swelling with a sense of fulfillment before he goes on to lose that satisfaction the very next day.
Knowing this information, Taehyung isn’t too sure whether he should be happy or not. Either way, he thinks love is inevitable, and that feeling is something that will undoubtedly hit him soon. He’s powerless to stop it, because it’s Jungkook they’re talking about, the Jungkook who is willing to give him anything and everything, and the Jungkook he’s willing to give anything and everything to in return.
And Taehyung goes to bed with a heavy heart and a clouded mind, dreading the day that feeling of eternal happiness comes back to taunt him, like a promise made to be broken.
Jungkook finds Taehyung crying one night while he is curled up in bed. The former comes home to a silent apartment and, thinking it must’ve been a tiring day for his hyung, heads to Taehyung’s bedroom to wish the man a silent good night. But what he hears is not the soft snores and contented breaths coming out of the other. Instead, he hears pained sniffles, somewhat muffled underneath the blankets. Slowly, he approaches the figure in the bed and lays down next to it. Jungkook can feel the figure stiffen, all muffled cries now silenced, but still he makes to wrap an arm around the other and whisper soothingly into the blankets.
“It’s okay,” he says, but even his voice comes out exhausted and unconvinced. The crying starts up again, and Jungkook holds Taehyung in his arms for as long as the other needs, not sleeping, not dreaming. He holds him until his own eyes start to droop, and even then he presses himself close, mumbling Taehyung’s name in his state of half-consciousness.
“It’s not okay,” Taehyung finally says when he has calmed down enough, and Jungkook pulls away to look into the other’s eyes. They seem scared, like Taehyung knows something that Jungkook doesn’t.
“Hyung,” he calls, voice a little more alert than before. “What’s wrong?” When the other doesn’t reply he presses a hesitant kiss to Taehyung’s forehead, not sure how intimate he can get with the other yet. It hasn’t been a month since Taehyung’s last… relapse, and Jungkook doesn’t know if the other has opened his heart to him again in that short time. Sometimes it takes a short while for Taehyung to bear his heart out to the other, other times it takes a bit longer.
But at his touch Taehyung relaxes into the hold, fingers crawling out from underneath the blankets in order to grip onto Jungkook in a slight but firm grip, and Jungkook smiles at the acceptance. He presses a kiss to the other’s eyes this time, and then, a little more slowly in order to give the other time to back away, softly kisses Taehyung on the lips, pulling back with an encouraging smile.
“Tae,” he calls, and the other opens his eyes to look at him. “Tell me what’s wrong?”
The elder doesn’t say anything for a bit, and Jungkook waits patiently, his hands rubbing slow circles into the other’s back. Then, after a few moments of silence, Taehyung lowers his head and opens his mouth. “...I think I’m going to forget you again,” he tells him, and immediately, he feels Jungkook stiffening. He waits for the younger to say something.
“...Okay,” Jungkook finally replies, and Taehyung turns to him, eyes glistening.
“What do you mean, okay? I said I’m going to forget you, Jungkook-ah.”
I know. It’s fine. We can start over. We always do.”
“But I don’t want to start over. I’m scared, Jungkook. I don’t want to lose you.”
You won’t lose me, hyung. You’ll never lose me. I won’t leave you--I didn’t, I didn’t leave you the first time, you know? Not the first time, not the second, not the third and I sure as hell won’t leave you now. I love you, you know? Sometimes I don’t think you know just how much I do. Ever since college, I’ve loved you. You were the first person I opened up to, really opened up to. I was always so shy, but I’m glad I took the effort to talk to you.”
“That’s not-- That’s not it. What I mean is, I’m scared of losing everything we have. Isn’t it tiring for you, having to put up with starting all over again each time? Doing the same things over and over again? I know--” Taehyung pauses, taking a deep breath to still the trembles in his voice. “I know it won’t matter to me anyways once I forget, but I don’t want to… I don’t want to lose you, Jungkook. The me right now… I love you,” he finishes quietly, and Jungkook feels his heart quickening at the confession. It’s been so long since he’s heard it. Carefully, he shakes his head and pulls Taehyung closer to him.
“It’s okay to start over, hyung,” he starts. “You can forget one hundred, one million times. I won’t leave you because of it. Those memories? I’ll make them with you over and over if you want. We can have our first date once a month if you want. As long as you let me, I can… We have all the time in the world, hyung. We have forever.”
"But Jungkook,” Taehyung calls in a broken voice. “I can’t give you forever.”
“You are giving me forever, hyung. How many times have you lost your memories of me?” Jungkook asks, and Taehyung mumbles a cracked seven into the air. Jungkook smiles at this. “Seven. And you’re still here, right? Every time you forget, you always manage to come back to me. Isn’t that all the promise I need?”
And Taehyung stares into his lover’s eyes, gaze flitting from left to right, trying to find any lie in the other. But Jungkook’s words are sincere, has been since the very first time he has confessed to Taehyung, heck, maybe even before then.
“You’re too good to me,” he whispers, and Jungkook presses a kiss into his neck, holding him closer.
“Never too good for you,” he mumbles, rubbing his face against the crook of Taehyung’s neck. The soft strands of hair tickle him, but the warmth and the weight is comfortable, and Taehyung finds himself sighing shakily as he holds on tighter to his lover. “You deserve the world,” Jungkook whispers. “Anything for you.”
The words send a searing heat into the pit of his stomach, and he feels his heart lurch, as if it’s about to burst from all the love it carries. But the feeling makes Taehyung feel sick, because he just knows what’s going to happen the next day. It makes him kiss the other back even more desperately, and Jungkook meets him halfway.
“I love you, hyung,” Jungkook sighs into the other’s mouth, hands pressing lovingly into Taehyung’s side. What he hears in reply has him breaking away quickly, however.
“Can you show me?”
“...What?” Jungkook asks, not believing his ears, and Taehyung repeats himself, no ounce of joking in his voice. Jungkook feels a flush making its way onto his cheeks. “I--hyung, isn’t it a little too early? You--it’s been a month--” he stutters, trying to find the right words to say, but is cut off by a pair of lips pressing onto his own, and Jungkook melts into the kiss easily. It is fast but careful, until Taehyung makes to press himself close to Jungkook, grinding their hips together. The other lets out an automatic moan at the sensation that hits him, and immediately flushes and breaks away, eyes unfocused and slightly dilated. Taehyung looks back at him with wide eyes glistening in the dimness of the moonlight.
“You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” Taehyung whispers, and Jungkook shakes his head quickly.
“No, it’s not that--god, I’ve thought about it so many times, but,” Jungkook pauses, his gaze tracing the other’s features. He lingers at each and every feature of Taehyung’s face. “Are… are you sure?”
Taehyung nods without breaking his gaze. “If it’s anyone I trust, it’s you,” he says, and Jungkook leans forward to capture his lips once more.
The next day, Taehyung wakes up with sore muscles and a sluggish mind, not processing anything other than the fact that he is extremely hot under all the layers of blankets piled on top of him. With a huff, he makes to kick them off, earning a grunt from next to him at the movement. Taehyung freezes, not sure whether he should work up the courage to turn his head and see who it is next to him, or to just close his eyes and try to wake up from what must’ve been a dream. It had to have been. There was no way he had let someone into his apartment the night before--he doesn’t even remember having a drink before bed.
But then something else catches his eye, and Taehyung feels a scream bubbling up in his throat. It is his own leg, very bare as it rests atop of the blankets he had just wrestled with. Usually, this wouldn’t be a problem, because Taehyung is quite fond of wearing shorts to sleep at night, but this time he sees no trace of any kind of cloth covering him, even though almost half of his thigh is sticking out of the covers.
Gulping, Taehyung wriggles a little in the bed, and almost wants to cry when he feels the softness of the covers brushing against his bare body. His body begins to shake as he tries to crawl out of the bed and grab his clothes, possibly making his way out of the place before whoever the person was next to him wakes up.
But as he tries to move, an arm wraps around his waist and pulls him back down and Taehyung falls onto his pillow with a small yelp. The hold is warm but foreign, and he quickly makes to break away.
There is a long, low groan that rings out, freezing Taehyung in his action, and a voice laced with sleep calls out to him.
“Why are you moving so much…” It’s a beautiful voice, even sends shivers down Taehyung’s spine, but he lets pushes aside the ridiculous attraction and tries to calm himself down.
“C-can you let me go?” he asks, pulling away with a little bit more force. “I think this is my apartment, and maybe we might’ve had a... one-night stand or something, but it’s morning, and--and I’d like it if you could leave as soon as possible.”
This seems to wake the other up, and the person lifts his head with an alarming speed, eyes boring into his so intensely that Taehyung fidgets, bringing the blankets up closer to cover himself despite the sweat that starts to build up on his body. “G-get out,” he manages to say, trying to hide the fear in his voice, and the other man scoffs out a laugh.
Taehyung watches, dumbfounded, as the other continues to quietly chuckle to himself, and he feels himself getting angry at the mocking sound. He’s about to call out again, maybe to tell the other to get out before he calls the cops or something, but then a tear slips through the other man’s eye, and Taehyung finds himself frozen in his place.
The chuckling cracks, and suddenly another tear falls, and the man only laughs louder, covering his eyes with his arm, although Taehyung can tell it is an obvious attempt to hide his tears.
“U-uhm,” Taehyung calls in confusion, worry filling his expression. No matter how confused he was, he wasn’t the type to leave someone alone while they were having a mental breakdown, even if there seemed to have been some accident between the two last night. He tries to reach over and tap the other on the arm, but the man screams this time and rips himself away. His eyes are filled with anger and pain.
“Don’t fucking touch me,” he hisses, before rigidly pushing himself off the bed. Taehyung is too stunned by the pain in his chest to feel embarrassed at the show of skin. He doesn’t know this man, but the hostility directed towards him almost wraps around his heart, and Taehyung feels a lump forming in his throat as his eyes start to burn.
Taehyung numbly watches through a blurred vision as the man all but rips a few articles of clothing off the floor and storms out of his room. A few seconds later, Taehyung can hear the bathroom door slamming closed.
Taehyung blinks, and then wipes his cheeks at the wetness, staring strangely down at his tears. He doesn’t understand why he’s crying--he has no reason to cry.
He gets up slowly to put his clothes back on, mind feeling a little detached from the rest of his body, but as he manages to slip his shirt back on his eyes come to fall on the many pictures that he had placed on the top of the drawers. He himself doesn’t remember placing them there, but one of the people in the picture is, undoubtedly, him.
It is Taehyung, staring into the camera with the happiest eyes ever, always pressed close to the person next to him in each and every one. It was the man from before, the one who has locked himself in Taehyung’s bathroom, he realizes, and Taehyung stares at the stranger in the photos blankly, trying to remember any sort of affiliation he has with this person. His mind is empty, and he turns to look around the room.
The place isn’t out of sorts--it seems normal as ever, is the first thing he notices. The second thing he notices, then, is that it is very normal, even though there is obvious evidence of two different people living in it. A black collared shirt that obviously does not belong to him is draped across the table, and there are bottles of lotion and towels hanging by the door that don’t belong to him, yet look like they’ve been there forever. Taehyung feels a small sinking feeling in his stomach as he takes in this fact.
As he rushes over to the desk to try and find any sort of familiarity, his eyes fall upon an elegantly bound notebook, looking worn but well-loved at the same time. Taehyung feels a throbbing in his heart, and he quickly flips open the book to a random page, eyes flitting across the pages as quickly and carefully as he can.
He only stops reading when his nose is too clogged to breathe, and his eyes are too tired to continue. The page is damp and brittle at the same time, the result from constant wear of teardrops falling upon it at different times. Taehyung flips back to the very last page, and a cry escapes his throat.
‘His name is Jungkook, and I love him so much. But I think I’m going to lose him again.’
When he approaches the bathroom door it is eerily silent, although Taehyung isn’t sure whether he prefers this to the sound of the other crying. The name feels foreign on his tongue when he says it.
There is no answer, and Taehyung taps at the door nervously.
“Please,” a muffled voice rings through the door, sounding so utterly tired and wrecked that Taehyung finds his heart sinking. “I just need some time.” The voice is quiet, and it repeats the request one more time, before another cracked wail sounds.
Taehyung begins to cry too, sinking down to the floor as he apologizes over and over again. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m so sorry,” he repeats for a long time against the door.
He is Jeon Jungkook, and he is supposed to be Taehyung’s most important person, but Taehyung cannot remember him.
He is Jungkook, but Taehyung cannot remember him, and he thinks he broke him.
Taehyung falls asleep against the door of the bathroom, and when it finally opens he startles awake as he falls into warm, comforting arms.
The man, Jungkook, he looks tired and sad, and Taehyung cries again. “I’m sorry,” he starts, but Jungkook shakes his head and holds him close.
“I’m sorry, hyung,” he says, cradling the other in his arms. “I lost my composure for a bit. I’m fine now. I’m sorry,” he presses a chaste kiss to Taehyung’s temple, and holds him as he continues to cry.
“It’s okay,” he whispers, leading him carefully back to bed, and when he tucks Taehyung in he gives him a weak smile, before pulling his fingers away. “You should sleep, hyung. We can talk about this tomorrow.”
And Taehyung wants to tell him to stay, but he can’t because he’s supposed to love Jungkook but he doesn’t remember the feeling of loving him, only feels the clench in his heart that he can’t explain, and watches as the other walks slowly out of the room, closing the door without looking back.
Jungkook takes care of everything that day, receives a scolding for being hours late to work and not calling in earlier, calls Taehyung’s studio and explains that the elder was out with a sudden high fever, and that he couldn’t call because he had been too panicked, but everything should be fine after a few days.
Taehyung can see the other’s eyes, tired and sad despite the effort he gives to smile to Taehyung, and one night, as the other sleeps on the couch, Taehyung comes to pull the blankets up closer to his neck, and Jungkook unconsciously rubs his cheek onto the back of Taehyung’s palm, who freezes in his motion.
Jungkook’s hand frees itself from the covers and holds onto Taehyung in a loose grip.
‘He deserves better,’ Taehyung realizes to himself that night, and a small seed of an idea sprouts in his mind.
He pushes it to the back of his head until a few days later, when his mother calls and cheerily asks him how he and Jungkook are doing, and Taehyung bursts into tears afterwards.
He makes to move out of their apartment one day, quietly while the other is still at work. Unbeknownst to Jungkook, Taehyung has already found work in another city, hours away from home, and has quit his job at the studio with a sad apology and thankful smiles. The few colleagues he had wished him well on his journey, some telling him that they’ll keep in touch, although Taehyung knows it’s more of a polite gesture than a promise.
He doesn’t pack much, just one suitcase and a bag filled with some of his clothes, the necessary documents and some other belongings of his required for daily living. His fingers linger as they trace the cover of the black journal, sitting innocently on his desk, before he makes to pull himself away.
Taehyung gives the small apartment a final once over before he turns and lets the door close behind him, trying hard not to look back.
Taehyung’s neighbors in his new apartment all seem to be friends with each other, walking freely in the hallway and shouting out through the balconies to get each other’s attention. He feels a little out of place being situated right in the middle of all of them, but they are pleasant to him at least. Sometimes Seokjin, the eldest of all of them, will come knocking on his door with an offering of a plate of food in his hands.
Sometimes Hoseok will call out for him in the middle of the night, asking with a smile too sunny to appear after daylight if he wants to hang out with the rest of them the next day. In the few times that Taehyung says yes, Jimin sits next to him happily, and they talk easily about unimportant things.
Of course, he never feels completely at ease with the rest of them. He notices how their gazes are polite when they look at him, and he notices some more intimate looks shared between a few of them sometimes, like how Jimin will watch Yoongi with a look of utter affection as the elder whines about being brought out into the daylight after two days without sleep. And Jimin doesn’t know, because the elder will never let him see it, but whenever he is busy play fighting with Hoseok or laughing merrily at one of Namjoon-hyung’s jokes, Yoongi will watch him back with the same quiet affection.
It is at times like this that Taehyung thinks back to his past. He remembers, and knows that it will only bring him pain in the long run.
But, if anything, Taehyung would give all that he has to keep these memories--they have become his only form of comfort during the slower days, when he is not caught up in work or his newfound friends, when he is sitting alone in his apartment during the evening, looking out at the window as the television plays mindlessly in the background.
During these times, Taehyung allows himself to indulge in what little left he has of the man he loves, the measly three weeks that Jungkook was able to give him before Taehyung turned tail and left. Those memories, and the pages that Taehyung remembers by heart in the black journal, they are what get him through the longest of nights, and the coldest of beds.
He knows he’s being selfish, but he can’t bring himself to stop liking the other--in fact, it seems to be growing more each day as he keeps on recalling.
How fucking hilarious, he thinks to himself, that he would be falling more and more in love with a man that isn’t even with him, just through memories alone.
Taehyung allows himself to think, and to wallow in the memories of the lingering warmth of the other’s touch against his, allows it to seep into every nerve in his brain, until one day, he wakes up, and doesn’t recall it anymore.
He is walking back home from a grocery run one day when somebody calls out his name. When he turns, he is met face to face with bright, clear brown eyes and a shocked expression, almost as if the person can’t believe who he is seeing. Taehyung returns the expression with a confused smile of his own as he tries to dig through his memory to find out who this man is. His brain, unhelpfully, turns up blank.
“Hello,” he calls anyways, voice unsure. “I’m sorry, but I don’t quite remember your name...uhm.”
The other laughs slightly in response, and if Taehyung had known him better he would say his reaction had almost a bitter tone to it, but the man shakes his head quickly. “It’s fine,” he says. “I’m… my name is Jeon Jungkook. We were... “ he drifts off, as if not sure what to say. “We were friends… back in the day.”
Taehyung ‘ahh’s in response. “Jungkook-ssi, is it?” he repeats with a smile. “Sorry, I don’t remember you, but it’s nice seeing you again, I guess,” he says, and the other doesn’t reply for a while.
“How have you been?” Jungkook finally asks with a small smile, and Taehyung blinks.
“Um, I’ve been okay,” he replies. “How have you been?”
The other chuckles lightly. “I could’ve been better,” he says, and Taehyung gives him an expression of sympathy. He’s not sure why, but something about the longing in the other’s eyes makes his heart throb.
Swallowing once in confusion, Taehyung clears his throat. “Uhm, would you like to tell me why? I can’t help you, but I can at least listen,” he offers.
Jungkook looks at him with an expression that makes him fidget in his spot, but then the other smiles, small but sincere, and Taehyung feels his heart skip a beat. “Yeah,” he says softly. “I think you could help me a lot, actually.”
They take their talk to a local cafe, and the mood shifts from solemn to light as the topics become less and less heavy. All that Jungkook tells him about his troubles is that he has lost someone dear to him, someone he’s been waiting for to come back that he loves very much.
His descriptions are vague, and even if they weren’t Taehyung doesn’t think he would know who the other is talking about anyways, but the way Jungkook sighs into his cup and gives Taehyung that expression full of utter hope and love makes the other’s heart clench. He wishes him all the best.
“I hope that person comes back to you, then. You must love him a lot,” he says with an encouraging smile. Jungkook smiles back.
“Yeah,” he breathes, eyes meeting Taehyung’s head-on. “I’m waiting for him to come back to me, too.”
Conversation flows easily afterwards, and Taehyung mentally berates himself for forgetting a man like Jeon Jungkook, because the other is, quite possibly, his soul-brother. They speak on such a similar wavelength that Taehyung’s had the other comment on his sentences before he’s even finished with them, and he seems to know every single pun or inside joke that Taehyung unconsciously makes without trouble. He doesn’t think he’s ever gotten so comfortable with someone so quickly before, and before he knows it night has fallen upon them.
Taehyung realizes with a start as he catches the workers in the corner of his eye, working to wipe down the tables, and quickly his eyes find the time. It is much later than he realized.
“I spent your whole day,” he says apologetically to Jungkook, who smiles in return.
“It’s no problem, it was worth talking to you again, hyung,” he says sincerely, and Taehyung feels his lips lifting into a smile.
“Hey,” he says, “If you’d like, maybe we could exchange numbers and meet up another time? It was fun talking to you.” The other looks a little confused, but agrees nonetheless, and Taehyung takes out his phone (with, he has to admit, a bit more enthusiasm than he would’ve liked) before handing it to Jungkook and receiving the other’s phone in reply.
“You’ve changed your number too, huh…”
Taehyung thinks he hears Jungkook mumbling as he stares at the contact once he receives it back, but when he asks the other to repeat his sentence the younger only shakes his head with a smile. As he is about to leave, however, Jungkook calls him back.
“Wait, hyung,” he reaches into his bag and pulls out an elegant looking black journal, edges slightly worn. Taehyung’s face contorts in confusion.
“Are you still in school?” he asks, and Jungkook laughs and shakes his head. His voice wavers a little when he speaks.
“It’s... a journal. I carry it around for, I don’t know, luck, I guess. Or maybe just for sentimental purposes. But you should have it,” he says, and presses the book into Taehyung’s hesitant hands.
“Er… I don’t--I mean, thank you, Jungkook, but this seems to hold some sort of meaning to you, I can’t just--”
Jungkook interrupts him with a shake of his head. “It’s fine, hyung. It belongs to you, anyways,” he says, and Taehyung’s unsure smile freezes.
“...What?” he asks slowly, but Jungkook only smiles with those same unreadable eyes.
“You can always come back, Tae,” he says, and Taehyung remains quiet. “Even if you forget, I never will.”
When it is clear he will get no response, Jungkook wishes him a polite goodbye and a wish to meet again.
Taehyung returns back home a little numbly, not sure what to make of the parting message Jungkook had left him with. It was cryptic, if anything, and he’s not quite sure if he really wants to know. He holds the book tightly in his hands as he sits quietly on his couch.
It’s not his, the notebook; it shouldn’t be, he has no memory of it ever being in his possession, but when he looks at it his body is filled with such an overwhelming sense of deja-vu that he can’t bring himself to dispute the claim. Taking a deep breath, Taehyung opens the journal to the first page.
‘His name is Kim Taehyung, and he is the man that I love.’