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Where The Heart Is

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With every Skype call they have, Taehyung’s skin gets a little more bronzed, the tan a little darker. It’s fun to watch, especially when he shows them his tan lines from diving or falling asleep on the beach with a book on his face (Jimin’s personal favorite), though it also kind of makes them jealous a lot. Jimin is pale for his standards, wrapped up in a huge blanket on his bed after giving his hoodie to Jungkook. It’s still cold in South Korea and late summer in Australia, so it’s no surprise to Jimin that Taehyung looks even sweatier now than he did an hour ago, when he excused himself from their conversation to call his parents instead, because he’d finally worked up the nerve to come out to them.

Which is kind of a huge deal, so Jimin is metaphorically on the edge of his seat, sitting cross-legged on his bed with his laptop in front of him, Jungkook rummaging around his room while they’re waiting for Taehyung to dish.

“So how’d it go?” Jimin blurts out eventually, after a few more seconds of Taehyung just sitting in front of his webcam, spacing out. “You’re not crying, are you? Your face looks wet.”

“It’s sweat,” Taehyung says automatically, snapping out of it very slowly. He runs both his hands down his face, glistening weakly in the poor video quality. “It’s really hot here, and I’m stressed. The back of my shirt is, like, soaked. It’s gross.”

“Take it off,” Jungkook says from the other side of the laptop, making Taehyung squint at his camera and Jimin roll his eyes.

“Shut up,” he says quietly, before turning his attention back towards Taehyung, worrying his bottom lip. It seems like a bad sign that he still hasn’t told them anything, and Jimin’s stomach hurts. “So? Are you gonna be okay?”

Taehyung takes a deep breath, staring out the window for a couple of seconds before he turns back towards his webcam, stare blank as he says, “I need a boyfriend.”

Jimin just stares back. That doesn’t tell him anything. Jungkook finally plops down next to him again, watching Taehyung with a tentatively amused frown. “We all do, man.”

“No, I mean, I really need one,” Taehyung says, and there he is, mouth hanging open, staring at them with his eyes wide. He looks like Kim Taehyung again, Jimin guesses, but he still has no idea what’s going on. “My parents, they’re -- uh, they’re pretty much alright with it, I guess? Mom got a little weirded out at first and I explained like a thousand times that I’ve known for years and that it’s normal and that I’m not the only one and yes I’m really sure, blah blah. And they didn’t get mad or anything, they seemed pretty willing to accept it. But they kept, like… They kept worrying that I wouldn’t be able to find someone now, you know? I guess because they don’t know any gay people or whatever, they thought we’re so rare I’d never be able to find a boyfriend and they were legitimately concerned for my happiness and all, so I…” Taehyung shrugs, still staring right at them, looking like he can’t quite believe what he’s saying himself. “I told them I already have a boyfriend.”

“Oh,” Jimin says. From the corner of his eye he can see Jungkook try his hardest to suppress a laugh.

“And of course,” Taehyung continues, a hint of terrified amusement now in his own voice, “they asked where he’s from, because they’re still old and a little conservative, so I couldn’t just tell them he’s Australian, some guy I met here. They wouldn’t have liked that. So I said he’s in Korea. Told them we skype almost every day, made it sound really romantic.” Jungkook is pressing his lips together firmly at this point, but the next sentence sends him over the edge. “They wanna meet him.”

Jungkook dissolves into giggles even as Jimin shoves his shoulder so he faceplants into the mattress. It would be kind of a horrible reaction to all this if they weren’t such close friends, and in fact it seems to loosen Taehyung up a little, since there’s a tiny grin tugging at the corners of his mouth now. He still seems borderline horrified, but it is kind of funny, and Taehyung is usually the type to rather laugh about the shit he does than fall into a pit of despair and self-pity.

“Just tell them you broke up,” Jungkook says, though it comes out muffled because he’s still making out with Jimin’s mattress. Too muffled for Taehyung, trying to understand them all the way from a different continent.

“What?”

“He says you could tell them that you broke up,” Jimin translates, and watches Taehyung’s brow furrow in consideration. “You know, right before you come back here, or something. Just tell them you’re sadly not together anymore, and they won’t want to meet him.”

“Yeah but…” Taehyung chews on his lower lip again. “The whole point of this imaginary boyfriend is that they need to think I’m happily taken and stuff. If I break up with him that’ll just prove their point that being gay means being unhappy, and I’m back to square one.”

Jimin doesn’t have an answer to that, other than Taehyung’s parents do kind of sound like dicks right now (though he supposes it could have gone worse). Next to him, Jungkook sits up again, wiping tears from his eyes with an index finger. “I can be your boyfriend,” he says, wiggling his eyebrows at Jimin’s laptop.

Taehyung laughs. “No, they know you. I thought about it, you know, but they know both of you, and that would be weird. If one of my best friends was my boyfriend, I would have just told them his name. I need someone they haven’t seen before.”

“Have they seen Hoseok?” Jimin asks pensively, going through all their friends in his head.

“I think so.” Taehyung sighs, fiddling with the hem of his shirt with both of his hands. “Plus, uh, it has to be someone small.”

“What?” Jungkook looks dangerously close to his next giggle fit.

“I don’t know, okay?” Taehyung says defensively, and louder all of a sudden, throwing his hands up at them now. “They asked me what he’s like and I just sort of imagined some random cute boy and told them he’s small! I need a small guy with a cute nose who likes music and anime and is willing to play my boyfriend in front of my parents.”

And Jungkook’s gone again, diving into the mattress all by himself this time as even Jimin is fighting to hold back a laugh. He and Taehyung just sit there grinning stupidly at each other, both trying to process this situation somehow, until Jimin reaches for his phone.

“I’ll ask Hoseok, okay? He knows a lot of people. He’ll find someone before you’re back.”

Jungkook just laughs a little louder, turning on his back now to make sure Taehyung can hear him. “You two are actually gonna do this? Get some random dude -- a random small dude, sorry -- to play your boyfriend to prove a point to your parents? Like, how’s that gonna work? What’re you gonna do if you actually fall in love?”

“If I find someone else I can still imaginarily break it up with my imaginary boyfriend and get together with the other one,” Taehyung shoots back immediately, almost pouting now. “As long as I’m still happy then I don’t think my parents would mind. They just don’t want me to be alone --”

“No, no, Taehyung, I know you.” Jungkook props himself up on his elbows so he can stare at the webcam, with both Taehyung and Jimin watching him warily. “You’re gonna fall in love with the imaginary boyfriend. And what then?”

It’s kind of a mean thing to ask, Jimin thinks, but it’s not like Jungkook is wrong. Taehyung falls in love with every cute boy he sees, crushing on people he meets on the train but never talks to, rambling on for days about people he just barely knows. He frowns softly at Jungkook, then turns his attention back to Taehyung, who’s squinting at his camera now.

“Then I’ll date him,” he says flatly, “without having to worry about introducing him to my parents. I don’t know where you’re seeing a problem here.”

“Oh my god.” Jungkook puts both hands over his eyes, still laughing a little. “You guys watch too many dramas.”

“Leave us and our fairytale fantasies alone,” Jimin says gently, relieved that Taehyung seems a little sarcastic himself, solemnly nodding his head, instead of taking Jungkook too seriously. Their entire friendship builds on not taking each other too seriously. “I’ll text Hoseok and tell him to ask around. We’ll work it out. It’ll be fun.”

He really hopes it will.

 

Hoseok stares at the cigarette between his fingers like it personally hurt him. Which, he guesses, is kind of true. It’s not healthy and he knows it, and he should stop, he’s a professional dancer and needs his body in best possible health, and so on. Right now he teaches street dance to teenagers that came here to learn freestyling but still act like it’s all too embarrassing in front of their peers to actually fucking freestyle, even though they’re in a goddamn practice room with nobody else watching and everyone looking equally ridiculous, so that’s how being a professional dancer is going for him, and that’s why he still hasn’t quit smoking. He likes teaching and he likes dancing and he even likes the kids, but he also likes some damn peace and quiet once in a while.
Not that he’s getting any of that.

He’s meeting up with Namjoon and Seokjin in a few minutes, already standing around at the street corner waiting for them so they can go to their usual bar and have their usual conversations about nothing at all, really. It’s nice. It’s socializing, and no peace and quiet in his own apartment all by himself, but it’s nice. Hoseok has to force himself to not avoid any and all human contact -- if he’s being perfectly honest, he’s been having trouble even connecting with Namjoon and Seokjin ever since it’s just the three of them, but maybe he’s getting the hang of it. Maybe he just has to keep trying. It’s probably better than being home alone all the time.

He’s scrolling through the contact list on his phone while he waits, occasionally checking his Kakao chat with Jimin as if he’d forget the description of Taehyung’s dream guy he was given. Small with a cute nose. A lot of people should look small next to Taehyung, you’d think, but apparently Hoseok knows less short people than he’d thought. The ones he does know probably aren’t up for the task. Or they’re just plain assholes. Many short people are assholes, Hoseok has figured out over the past few days.

He likes Kim Taehyung, only really knows him as that one loud guy Jimin always hung out with because they’re practically joined at the hip (they somehow still manage to come off that way now that Taehyung is in fucking Australia doing who knows what), but Hoseok likes him. If he’s going to get him a fake boyfriend, it’s going to be one that isn’t an asshole. There has to be one short person with a cute nose in Seoul that isn’t an asshole.

Someone pulls the cigarette right from the fingers of his other hand, and Hoseok is ready to punch a dude before he realizes it’s Namjoon. He just frowns at him instead, though it might look more like a pout. “I was smoking that.”

“You weren’t,” Namjoon says, taking a drag and giving it back to Hoseok afterwards because he wasn’t raised in the jungle. “You were just holding it there while staring at your phone. Someone send you nudes?”

He cranes his neck to look at Hoseok’s smartphone screen, but it’s still just his contact roll so he doesn’t even try to hide it. “No,” he deadpans, shifting his attention to Seokjin and returning the smile he gets from him at least. “Hey, Seokjin.”

Hoseok had briefly considered telling them about his new mission, but decided against it. The fewer people know, the better, he guesses, as always with secret missions, and the two of them would probably let everybody know and constantly talk about it to each other and the thought alone is enough to make Hoseok feel like throwing up in his mouth a little. Namjoon swears that he and Seokjin aren’t a couple, but Hoseok has been third-wheeling for months now and knows better. It’s like they’re married, but a weird kind of married, where they’ve been living together for thirty years and raised three children and a dog together and still try to tell people they’re just friends. Hoseok’s not telling them jack shit about Taehyung’s fake boyfriend.

“Hey,” Seokjin replies, putting an arm around both of their shoulders as if trying to disprove Hoseok’s secret thoughts. “Let’s get inside. We’ve got something to tell you.”

Hoseok blinks at him, then squints at them both, because that does not sound like he’s trying to disprove anything Hoseok has been thinking about the two of them for a while now, it sounds more like the opposite. “Are you two finally moving in together?” he asks, jokingly of course. Of course. “Adopting a cat? A dog? A child? Because yes, I’ll be the godfather, it’s so touching of you to ask me. But only if you’ll call it Hoseok. I don’t care what gender it is or if it’s an actual kid now or a puppy. It’ll be Hoseok and it’ll be amazing.”

“Why would I want you to be a godfather to a cat?” Seokjin asks calmly, while also squeezing Hoseok’s arm through his sleeve so hard it pulls a rather unattractive squeal from his throat. He’s pretty sure that’s gonna bruise.

“Monster,” Hoseok grumbles, though not even trying to get farther away from Seokjin. “So you are adopting a cat?”

“No.”

It’s the only answer he gets until they’re inside their booth at the bar, and it’s nicely warm inside and the beer tastes a little like home and after his frustrating dance lesson and a walk in the cold this is actually nice enough to make Hoseok forget what they were talking about anyway. But of course his friends can’t let that happen.

“So you haven’t heard?” Namjoon asks, leaning over the table towards him conspirationally. Hoseok just blinks at him, fingertips playing idly with the sticker on his beer bottle.

“Haven’t heard what?”

Namjoon just grins, and so does Seokjin, which is a little creepy, but at least Seokjin is leaning back all comfortably and not half-laying on the table like his not-boyfriend. “Guess who’s back in town,” he sing-songs, and okay, that does make it creepy again.

But Hoseok just continues staring at them with a puzzled expression, gaze shifting from one to the other and back, and he shrugs. Some part of him actually believes himself, maybe. That he has no idea who they’re talking about, that there’s any possibility it’s not who he thinks it is.

“He really hasn’t heard,” Namjoon says helpfully, turning a little to shoot Seokjin a look, who smiles back at him and shrugs.

“Hmm. You tell him.”

So Namjoon turns back to him, expression almost gleeful, and Hoseok notices just now how his own free hand has wandered under the table to grip at the bench he’s sitting on, trying to brace himself for what he’s about to hear, still praying to every god out there that he’s wrong, that Namjoon is about to say something entirely else --

“Yoongi’s here.”

Fuck.

“Here?” Hoseok croaks. “As in --”

“In Seoul,” Seokjin says quickly, barely hiding the smirk around his lips. “Not here at the bar. God, Namjoon, look at how scared he got.”

“Shut up,” Hoseok says, voice a little too small for his liking, and clears his throat. “You sure? How do you know? Did he tell you?”

“I found out,” Namjoon says, sounding smug. “I don’t think he wanted to tell me, but he sent me a picture and I recognized the subway station in the background. He’s confirmed it by now. So yes, he’s here and we’re sure. We’re meeting up with him this Saturday, lunch at the usual place.”

Hoseok doesn’t know why he’s telling him this. Can’t imagine why he’d want to be there, why Yoongi would want him to be there.

“He already said he’s looking forward to seeing the three of us again,” Seokjin says softly. Hoseok can feel his eyes on him, and tries very hard not to look like he’s about to pass out. “He said that, Hoseok. So he’s expecting you to be there.”

“Yeah, yeah, I got it.” Hoseok’s voice is just hoarse now. He swallows around the tightness in his throat, nodding more to himself than to his friends before he looks up at them again. “Saturday, yeah?”

He guesses he’ll just have to be ready to see Yoongi again, whether he feels like it or not. Who knows how long the guy will stay this time, and it’s not like Hoseok doesn’t want to see him. He wants to. There’s barely anything he wants more right now, he’s just… scared, he guesses. Which should be normal, right? It’s always scary to meet an ex-boyfriend after not having seen each other for a year.

It’s just twice as scary if said ex-boyfriend is Min Yoongi.

 

It only dawns on him much later that day, when he’s at home and in bed already, scrolling through his phone again, re-reading Jimin’s messages.

[09:48] 지민이: Ok so it has to be someone small or just smaller than tae thats not the hard part

[09:48] 지민이: He says he needs a cute nose????? Idk what noses his parents find cute but yeah

[09:49] 지민이: Just find someone cute! And he has to like music and anime

[09:49] 지민이: Or I guess

[09:50] 지민이: You know he just has to be patient enough to put up with taetae. Someone nice

[09:52] 지민이: Like me, but cuter

It’s not a complete match. Hell, it really isn’t, but he’s already given up on finding a complete match on Taehyung’s fairytale prince, so he’s grasping at straws here, but it kind of maybe somehow adds up, if you squint.

The anime part is a little questionable. But the rest? Stoic patience, the willingness to put up with someone loud and weird like Hoseok or Taehyung, music, small, cute… It’s Yoongi. Taehyung’s fake boyfriend is Yoongi.

Hoseok locks his phone and drops it on his chest. He’s not going to tell him. Fuck no. As far as he knows, Yoongi and Taehyung don’t know each other, and he’s not about to drop that bomb on his ex. Besides, maybe Yoongi is patient, maybe Yoongi has played along with some of Hoseok’s more unconventional ideas in the past, but he can already imagine his face if he asked him to play some guy’s boyfriend and introduce himself to his parents all nice and well-behaved. It wouldn’t work out. It would be a nightmare, actually.

He’s not doing this.

There has to be another short non-asshole guy that would fake-date Kim Taehyung in this hellhole of a city.