In the roughly two years they’ve come to know each other, Taehyung has come to know one thing about Jungkook very well, and that is that he leaves absolutely no opportunity to waste. Jungkook is zero percent planning, but a hundred percent perfectionism and opportunism, so in retrospect, Taehyung should have seen this part coming, at least – their harmless trip of shopping together in the mall being extended thanks to Jungkook’s (not so) sudden exclamation, “Hyung, let’s check out this store!”
And by this store, he means an electronics store. Last Taehyung checked, they don’t sell clothes in an electronics shop.
Taehyung, predictably, raises an eyebrow. “For… what,” he asks dryly.
“I want to buy a camera,” Jungkook says, voice still easy and nonchalant. He doesn’t even seem to falter a single bit, his eyes still crinkling up just like always when he’s in a good mood.
“You have a camera. Remember? You shove that thing into my face sometimes.” Taehyung stops now, pretends that his hands are Jungkook’s camera, and pulls them close to his face. “Like this.”
Jungkook smiles in earnest now and pushes Taehyung’s hands so that they touch his face. “No, more like this.”
Taehyung really wants to get mad but can’t help but laugh anyway. “You get the idea.”
“That I love your face?”
Another thing that Taehyung has learned in two years is that Jungkook, just now, did not flirt and completely meant this one. Taehyung sighs. “No. That you have a camera.”
“It’s not for me though?” Jungkook lets go of Taehyung’s hands and Taehyung puts them down, tilting his head and looking like a bunny. “I want to check them out for a friend!”
Oh. “Fine, then?” Taehyung just shrugs – neither of them have any plans after this, so there’s no problem.
Jungkook quickly navigates his way to the electronics store, very confident and sure of himself, and Taehyung just tags along – as in, buries his head into Jungkook’s nape, hands together, just so that Taehyung doesn’t lose him in this crowd. Taehyung doesn’t exactly know what compels so many people to visit an electronics store in a weekend, because Taehyung just doesn’t see anything in a bunch of electronics.
And then Jungkook stops, having found the aisle for cameras. They all look… similar to Jungkook’s, only varying in minute details and in their prices. Jungkook stands still – Taehyung can’t see it but he supposes that Jungkook is examining the prices and product details carefully. Well, not his thing. Taehyung straightens and comes face to face with a retail worker in a royal blue-orange uniform.
Taehyung swears he has seen him before. Or, well, to be more precise, he’s definitely seen that combo of a fringe kept to the side, droopy eyes, Nubian nose and full lips before. No, not like in his dreams or anything – although with these thighs, the guy could very well look like he came from his wildest dreams – but just… something about the retail worker feels immensely familiar. But then again, Taehyung can’t even recall what he had for dinner yesterday (…cup ramen maybe?) so this might just be his mind playing tricks. Maybe if he’d know the name or something, that’d help a lot.
When the retail worker notices that Taehyung looks at him, he flashes a practiced smile. Taehyung smiles back.
“Can I help you with anything?” the retail worker asks. Taehyung swears he has heard that voice before. Maybe in a higher pitch? But he’s heard it, heard the kind of soft way of talking a long time ago.
Taehyung looks at Jungkook, who is now at the opposite aisle, concentration all over his face. “I’m just tagging along,” he tells the retail worker. “I don’t really need anything.”
“Oh? I see.”
And Taehyung burns to ask him – if they’ve met before, but it’d be so awkward to just drop that out of nowhere. He needs to find a way to make this conversation go smoothly. Or, well, as good as it gets, considering this guy is working and he can’t hold him back for longer than five minutes (tops).
“One less person to take care of, hm?” He considers leaning on an aisle, but there isn’t any solid ground to lean on, so he just awkwardly stands just like that, arms crossed.
The guy chuckles at that, a sound that is kind of dry.
“My friend—“ Taehyung points at Jungkook, “is a photography major, so he kind of knows all that stuff about cameras.”
“Mm, yeah, photography majors do.” He kind of pouts when thinking and it’s so cute and Taehyung is hit with a sort of odd nostalgia he could peg as hallucination. He is pretty sure he knows this guy. From where is the question.
“But…. They can’t sell it as well as I do.” The retail worker’s smile is smug, and Taehyung laughs.
“Do you sell a lot of cameras?”
“Well… kind of? I don’t usually have my shift here, though.”
“Ah. Do you like it?”
“I’m okay with anything.” Retail worker’s eyes look so dead in that moment Taehyung believes this guy gave up on life in general. Now, would this be any other situation – say, a party – Taehyung would’ve introduced himself by now. But the retail guy looks kind of like he wants to stop the conversation. Taehyung can’t blame him, because technically speaking, he’s disturbing him right now. And as if Taehyung has called for it, he sees a short girl with a very pretty face and the same uniform as Retail Worker come up to him. Taehyung coughs and frantically checks the digital camera next to him.
“So,” Taehyung begins, voice very business-like, “about this cam—.”
The retail worker looks at him quizzically, and for the first time, it really looks like the emotion reaches his eyes. It’s cute, except this situation is dire, and if this girl is his manager, then he’s in trouble because of Taehyung. And he can’t have that.
The girl stands right behind the retail worker, peeking her head curiously to the camera Taehyung randomly chose. “Jimin-ah?” she asks.
No. That makes as much sense as… Taehyung can’t even think of anything. It just doesn’t. This isn’t his childhood friend of Busan, Park Jimin. No. No! For starters, his Jimin was cute and chubby, and smiled very widely. This Jimin looks like… like he genuinely regrets that the world didn’t end in 2012. Okay, no, Taehyung is exaggerating (maybe), but… retail worker’s smile didn’t even once reach his eyes. It can’t be Jimin. Maybe a lookalike.
The retail girl looks at Not-Jimin, totally not realizing that he was technically slacking off. “Jimin-ah, do you know where the camcorders are?”
Not-Jimin cranes his neck. “Should be here, noona,” he says, pointing at the aisle across them.
“Ahh, oh my god! I can’t believe I didn’t find them!” the girl complains, and shoots a sweet smile in Not-Jimin’s direction. “Thanks, you’re a lifesaver as always.”
“No problem, Hyojung noona,” Not-Jimin replies, smiling with a hint of his eyes crinkling this time, and it looks so odd on him! This is not the Jimin Taehyung knows! Like, not even in the slightest. Yes, puberty is a thing, but Taehyung refuses to believe that someone’s smile can change so much that it changes from pure sunshine to a dim bedside lamp. That just can’t happen.
Retail girl goes away and Not-Jimin and Taehyung are alone again. Taehyung kind of notices at this point that his mouth is completely open, and quickly closes it.
“Jimin? Park… Jimin?” Taehyung says, testing the name out on this guy. It doesn’t fit. Taehyung refuses to fit it to him.
Not-Jimin raises his eyebrows. “Do we… know each other?” he says carefully.
“I’m… Taehyung.” If Not-Jimin is really his childhood friend, then he must know Taehyung as “Taetae.”
And when Not-Jimin’s eyes go impossibly wide, Taehyung very grimly realizes that this is in fact his childhood friend from Busan, who somehow lost his million dollar watt smile in the span of… Too Long.
“Tae….tae?” Jimin says, voice colored in shock, testing out the words much like Taehyung has before. It sounds odd on his mouth, too, just like Jimin’s name had on Taehyung’s. Taehyung wonders if Jimin, too, thinks the Taehyung from the past and the Taehyung of the now don’t fit, either.
“Yeah. Yeah, that’s me.”
“Oh… oh my god…” Jimin says, quickly scanning Taehyung. “Oh god. It’s been so long!”
“Yeah. Roughly ten million years maybe.” Ten million years in which Jimin’s beautiful smile got lost in the process. He should light a candle.
“I know right!.” At least now, Jimin looks more like he is okay with living. He looks very frantically around, maybe to check if the manager is around. “Are you free this weekend? We could catch up with things.”
Taehyung can’t remember anything important for next week, so. “Sure! Where?”
Jimin purses his lips in thought, his nose scrunching up and it’s so cute. “There’s a café I know here, we could get free food!”
Free food? Free food? “Yes! Oh my god yes,” Taehyung says very excitedly. “Whenever you like!”
Jimin chuckles again, this time a bit more lively than before. “Okay. 2pm?”
Jimin gives him a smile and— oh god, it looks even cuter now that Jimin’s older. His features all melt and his cheeks puff and his eyes turn to the prettiest crescents Taehyung has seen. Wow, that means he doesn’t need to light a candle. Maybe just make it his personal goal to see it more often? Yeah. Definitely.
“Your personal goal?” Seokjin says when Taehyung is done telling his story, putting a bookmark between his paperback and closing it. He does this whenever he deems a conversation topic serious enough, and apparently, Jimin is serious enough. Seokjin remembers Jimin’s basics, so to say – he’s the one you played a lot with! he had exclaimed excitedly —but no details. Still, the topic is serious enough to put the paperback away. Maybe Taehyung should feel flattered, but he feels nothing. The nothingness gnaws at him. “Taehyungie, don’t you have, like, assignments you should tackle first?”
Here’s the thing: Taehyung really needs a break. From assignments, from school, from everything basically. He tries to get breaks whenever he can, but they’re small, and small plasters won’t help big scars in the long run. And the past six months have been quite a long run for him. He needs to get out of this city, or at least this environment. That would be cool. But thing is, Seokjin quite doesn’t seem to grasp that. And in the… well, roughly twenty years he’s come to know his elder brother Kim Seokjin, he knows one fact like the back of his hand, and that is that Seokjin places a lot of importance in things that are sensible. For example, assignments are things that are sensible to Seokjin. Yoongi, Seokjin’s boyfriend, is something that is sensible to Seokjin. Park Jimin’s smile, Taehyung’s (supposed) personal goal in life, is something that is not sensible to Seokjin.
“I do,” Taehyung says, sounding kind of defeated. A long time ago, he would’ve shouted protests at his brother, and a long time ago, Seokjin would not have asked Taehyung about his assignments in an eerily mild manner. They’ve both grown (tired). Or maybe Taehyung did, considering he didn’t even protest at all. He might need the break in more ways than one. “I just told the story like I felt it at the time, hyung.”
Seokjin looks like he’s trying to find an answer in Taehyung’s eyes, but Taehyung has already written down all of the answers he knows in yesterday’s exam. Taehyung has given up, or maybe he thinks he does – since, after all, he did feel energized with Jungkook and Not-Jimin earlier today. Maybe more like him giving up on school life? Oh. He knows. He has given up in Seokjin’s eyes, Seokjin’s eyes that only see sensibility.
Finally, Seokjin sighs, eyes full of worry. “I know you need a break. Just hold on a little, okay?”
“I’ll try to,” Taehyung replies. He doesn’t know for how much longer he can hold on though.
Seokjin scoots closer to Taehyung, pulling him close, like he had so many years ago. “I know you got this. It’s all over soon.”
Seokjin’s warm and big and Taehyung wishes he’d be young again, just so he’d find an excuse to nuzzle into Seokjin’s neck like he had when he was younger. Everything feels so warm and true like this. “I love you, hyung,” Taehyung says in earnest.
“I love you too, Taehyung-ah.”
Maybe Seokjin really did understand his need of a break, and maybe, Taehyung had been too caught up in pretending that he hadn’t noticed.
It’s hard to tell how people look like when they’re in retail uniforms. For one, uniforms are unflattering, and maybe that is their purpose, but they’re not only unflattering in form but also in colors. Who even thought of royal blue and orange as good color match? Who sat down and thought, oh what a good color combination, let’s make all our employees wear this? Would employers, who think of these uniforms, wear these? And if they don’t, then why do they enforce this? Isn’t this world a world of give and take? Stuff like, don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want others do to you? This is really a weird world they live in. Even weirder that Jimin, Taehyung thinks, looked… well, okay in it.
But right outside the mall, he looks incredibly attractive. A red-black striped shirt has never looked better on anyone. And the solid black pants… Jesus. Is this really Jimin? Taehyung has probably seen him shit at some point in time. Like, is this really his cute chubby friend Jimin? Like, yes, he had established this before, but… is this really Jimin? Like, really really? It’s hard to discern His Jimin and Not Jimin. He knows he’s being stupid, but he’d love to know where the line begins and ends. For categorizing purposes. Even if he can’t remember a lot of his Busan friend Jimin from his childhood. Or Busan in general. That’s what you get for moving a lot.
Jimin has big black sunglasses on his face, so Taehyung can’t make out the pretty eye smile when Jimin smiles at Taehyung, but he supposes it’s cute just like always. When Taehyung comes up to Jimin, he makes sure to smile as widely as he can. As much as he’s confused about His Jimin vs Not Jimin and This Jimin, he’s still happy he got to meet an old friend. He really has to express his happiness to Jimin once they’re in the mall.
“Free food,” Taehyung says once they’re in the mall.
Jimin takes off his sunglasses and puts them on his head, eyes looking much livelier than he had been on the retail. Looking dead must come from the atrocious uniform color choices. “I know right,” he says, not minding Taehyung. “Honestly… I really go to parties sometimes just for the free food.”
“Yeah, I get you. They’re so loud.”
“Seriously! It’s so… sometimes I want to leave when there is none left. People are okay, but parties aren’t exactly my thing.”
Jimin still speaks so softly. Not as excited as before, but just as slow and the words dragged out as back then in Busan, Taehyung notices. Though then again, he doesn’t seem… exactly talkative. He does respond when Taehyung talks, of course – and the walk to the coffee shop turns out to be ten minutes long – but he hardly initiates communication, so to say. And doesn’t laugh heartily, just chuckles in varying degrees or smiles.
When he sits down right opposite Taehyung on a place with a window next to it, Taehyung has a bit of a hard time trying not to stare directly into Jimin’s soul, so he tries to focus his attention on other places. Like his gorgeous full lips… or his full defined arms… or his thighs… okay. No. Lips maybe. That’s natural, right? To look at someone’s lips when they talk. Well, even if it hadn’t before, now it is, Taehyung decides.
“Woah. How long has it been?” Taehyung says.
Jimin looks outside, trying to remember. Taehyung uses the chance to remember as well. Hmm. Cute smile. Very cute smile, one where his eyes crinkled in a pretty way. A soft way of talking, just like from before, though Taehyung admits that came back to his memory when Jimin talked again. A Busan accent, though Taehyung admits that might just come from the fact that he knows Jimin’s from Busan. But that’s it. He can’t even remember for how long his family was in Busan. Oh god. What are they going to do now? Isn’t this meeting supposed to be a catch up? But Taehyung has like, nothing to catch up on because he doesn’t even know where to begin. Fuck.
Jimin looks back at him, head a bit tilted. “I suppose it’s been ten years now? We’re both twenty, aren’t we?”
“Yeah, it’s been ten years then.”
“Did we celebrate our birthdays together?”
Jimin looks down, running a hand through his hair. “We wanted to,” he says, voice still sounding light, “but then you moved.”
Taehyung frowns. He has zero recollection of that. “We moved a lot because of Mom’s job,” he says, just because he doesn’t know more than this. He has to keep it safe.
“I know,” Jimin hums. “You told me.”
“Did I?” Taehyung looks to the counter, eyeing the waiter. His lack of long term memory is going to ruin him one day. “I see,” he adds dumbly, although he doesn’t see anything.
“Taehyungie…” Jimin begins, running a hand through his hair one more time. “Um, you don’t need to pretend like you remember anything, you know.”
Taehyung stares at him very blankly, trying to process the info. Oh god. Oh god. He feels heat flushing all over his cheeks and licks his lips nervously. He feels so ridiculously dumb right now. “I—“
“No, it’s fine!” Jimin’s smile is warm. “It’s really been a long time.”
“What… are we going to talk about then?”
“Mm… I don’t know.” Jimin waits a bit longer with the reply when the waiter comes, who instantly recognizes Jimin and flashes him a wide smile. Taehyung hears himself order a latte macchiato and cheesecake. Yeah, Taehyung doesn’t know either. This is so embarrassing.
“Ah!” Jimin finally exclaims, clasping his hands together. “What are you doing for a living?”
“Coding major trying to exist,” Taehyung says grimly. “Life is hard. How about you?”
“You’ve seen me,” Jimin replies dryly.
“Wait, you’re working fulltime?” Fulltime in that uniform? Fulltime of a Jimin who regrets the world didn’t end in 2012? Now everything makes sense. This Jimin, that must be the retail worker he sees. And the Jimin right in front of him is suffering because of it. Of course. Royal blue and orange, for God’s sake.
“But…” Taehyung fiddles with one of the napkins on the desk. “Don’t you have anything you wanted to major in?”
Jimin looks away in thought, running a hand through his hair (seems to be a habit). “Photography, maybe? To be fair, I hadn’t thought of it before I started the job. But… I wonder how people make such beautiful pictures with cameras. I want to try that out, too.”
“Why did you take the job anyway?”
“I didn’t know what to take as major, so I… I thought anything was better than sitting around like a slob.” Jimin shrugs helplessly, and that’s when the waiter comes up. He places their cakes and coffees, flashing a wide smile in Jimin’s direction.
“Let me know if you and your friend need anything, Jimin-ah,” the waiter says, voice smooth.
“Thank you hyung!” Jimin replies, beaming. Taehyung isn’t sure if Jimin likes the waiter that much or if he loves the free food so much. He turns to the cake and digs in, and Taehyung just follows suit. The cake-eating goes by in relative silence, and aside a glass of water for both of them, they don’t ask for anything extra, and Taehyung is… fine. Maybe. Maybe he’s fine. He keeps feeling completely awkward. What if he had messed it up for good with Jimin? What if Jimin wouldn’t want to see him ever again? Say something like, you don’t know me anyway? The problem is that not only Jimin’s right to an extent, but that Taehyung really does want to keep him with a friend. So what if he can’t remember ninety percent of his stay with Busan! He notices him lick his lips more than once, and he usually does that only when he’s very nervous.
“Have you dated anyone so far?” Jimin asks out of the blue. Oh god. Taehyung flattens his fringe, licks his lips and stammers an “um”, which is known to everyone who knows Taehyung as the holy trinity of Taehyung’s nervous habits.
“Uh, um, I’m… yes?”
And then Jimin laughs. It starts like a chuckle but then his voice rises and his eyes disappear, showing his front teeth. One of them is a little wonky, Taehyung notices. But most importantly, Jimin’s laugh is a laugh that makes him want to laugh as well, so they laugh for a minute straight.
“I’m yes,” Jimin repeats and laughs a little more. Taehyung reaches over and slaps him.
“I’m not going to forget this one.”
“Well, at least you remember!”
That seems to sober up Jimin a little. He licks his lips and runs a hand through his hair. “I don’t… really, actually,” he says. “I don’t know. I have a better time remembering things when I see it.”
“Do you remember me better now that you see me?”
Jimin seems to consider it for a second, searching something in Taehyung’s eyes just like Seokjin had last week. But Taehyung doesn’t feel like he’s being asked something by that gaze. Instead, it feels like Jimin’s asking himself, just genuinely considering it. And who can blame him? In the ten years they’ve come to know each other, Taehyung knows close to nothing about Jimin.
“Yeah,” Jimin says softly. “Yeah, I think I am beginning to remember you.”
Taehyung shoots him a very, very soft smile in return.
In the roughly twenty years Taehyung has come to know one thing about himself very well, and that is that he keeps thinking of what ifs when he should be focusing on the present.
His last week of term passes by with not only Taehyung forcibly trying to think of exams and not of how he should text Jimin, or what will happen afterward. It goes… well. Taehyung can’t really say. Part of him wants to say that his endeavor of blocking Jimin out went well, but then he remembers that he thought of Jimin randomly during an exam. So maybe it didn’t go well? He wants to ask somebody, but Jungkook has just as many exams as Taehyung does and Seokjin is being gross with his boyfriend. And they’re the only ones he really bugs when he’s worried.
Once Sunday rolls over, he pushes all these thoughts into the far back of his mind to eat as much ice cream as he wants to with Jungkook. Exams are over, so he shouldn’t care about that sort of thing at all. At all! And it’s going to work out with Jimin. What exactly, he isn’t sure, but it will work out. He’s sure of that.
“Hyung. I have something for you,” Jungkook says once a comfortable silence settles between the two and reaches out into his bag. Taehyung cranes his neck, but only sees Jungkook’s back, so he leans back again. Jungkook emerges with a small package with a ribbon on top, smiling at Taehyung. “Hyung, congrats on finishing your second year!”
“What the—“ Taehyung begins, eyebrows raised. Gifts aren’t their thing at all. They don’t present each other when term is over. Sometimes they gift each other stuff during their birthdays – although Taehyung can recall that Jungkook hasn’t gifted him anything for his birthday last year – but that’s about it. This is just… odd.
“I forgot your birthday present? And once I saw this, I had to gift it to you,” Jungkook offers. Oh. Now things make sense.
“You’re half a year late.”
“The present is good.”
Taehyung sighs – what kind of defense is this? — but can’t help feel quite grateful about the present anyway. “Thanks,” he says, unpacking the present. Jungkook watches him with expectant eyes, Taehyung can tell, and once he’s done ripping away the last strip of tape—
Taehyung blinks. Then blinks some more. And then looks at Jungkook.
“A… camera?” Taehyung says. It’s one of the models Jungkook likes a lot, that much he knows. But… wow. He hadn’t considered this at all. Manga, maybe. Or a Tidal gift card. But a DSLR? Odd.
“You say you forget a lot, right?” Jungkook begins. “Maybe that will help you with your memory.”
That makes Taehyung look at the camera with an entirely new light. He gently touches the surface, smooth at some parts and other parts designed for finger hold, and gently runs his finger through the logo. He then looks up to Jungkook, Jungkook with his dark brown hair and gentle eyes and his simple tees and simpler jeans, and doesn’t see a hybrid of best friend and younger brother like he usually would, but just… just his best friend.
“Thank you,” Taehyung says again, this time in earnest. “Thank you, Jungkookie.”
Jungkook gives him a sweet smile in return.
As tempting as the idea is, Taehyung can’t seem to pick it up.
He’s tried it and at first, there was a certain kind of thrill, but then the places started to look dull on the camera. He’s used to this place. Or maybe, he’s just being ungrateful. But he believes he’d be even more ungrateful if he’d take pictures he doesn’t even like. No. That doesn’t seem to be it. The real reason Taehyung doesn’t pick up is that something is gnawing on his mind, but Taehyung doesn’t know what.
He and Jimin meet up more often, the awkward catching up meeting long forgotten. Taehyung finds out Jimin’s good at dancing, and has once saved someone’s (metaphorical and literal) ass from tutoring classic dance – that very someone would turn out to be the waiter/café owner at the place Jimin gets free food from. And that Jimin is kind of competitive about games – as in, shouts a lot and gets mad fast and fuels Taehyung’s own competitiveness.
That something seems to gnaw on him even worse when he invites Jimin home. Seokjin, predictably, loves him, and seems to recall more about Jimin than Taehyung does – and definitely more than he had told Taehyung. Bad memory doesn’t run in your family, huh, Jimin had said and Seokjin had replied sarcastically, no, just runs in Taehyung. Aside his belief that Jimin and Seokjin are conspiring against him, Taehyung is grateful that they got to meet each other too, enjoying the mindless banter.
Seokjin at some point in time returns to his room, so Jimin and Taehyung are pretty much alone in the living room. Taehyung shoots Jimin a look. “Are you up for videogames?” he asks.
“Mm, I’m okay,” Jimin says in English (very cutely), looking around. “Your apartment is kind of big.”
“I guess,” Taehyung says and shrugs.
“Have you seen mine?” Jimin sits up and looks at Taehyung intently. “It’s probably the size of your living room in total.”
“Really?” Now Taehyung looks around as well. It looks average-sized to him; Taehyung remembers living in bigger places. The only thing that has always seemed a little too big for him was the massive TV they had, but they had won that in a lottery and it had seemed silly to just gift that someone else.
“Yeah. I can show you a picture, if you want to,” Jimin says, unlocking his phone and rummaging through his pictures. “Though the camera isn’t really good on my phone.”
That was it.
Taehyung abruptly stands up, feeling a sudden vertigo. He blinks and waits a bit until it’s gone and then runs hastily into his room. He just can’t believe that this was what had bugged him for so long. It all makes sense now.
“Hey, where are you going?” Jimin shouts.
“I’m right back,” Taehyung says without looking. It doesn’t take him long to find the camera – right on top of his textbooks, a trophy for the term he’s successfully survived – and comes back.
Jimin’s expression turns from confused to one in complete awe. “Oh my god,” he breathes. “Oh my god!” he then says, this time louder. “I’ve been eyeing this one forever!”
“Have you?” Taehyung finds much more joy in looking at Jimin than the camera. Jimin looks at the camera like all of his dreams came true in one moment, looking at every detail of it carefully.
“I did. It’s such a good camera,” Jimin says and then looks up to Taehyung with the softest and happiest expression Taehyung has seen him with ever. His eyes aren’t crescents, but open and shine in the most brilliant way Taehyung has seen from him so far, and his mouth is open to a wide, toothy smile.
Taehyung makes sure to save this picture inside his mind forever.
“Do you want to have it?” Taehyung asks. Jimin looks at him like a deer caught in headlights.
“I want to give you the camera.” Surely Jungkook wouldn’t mind that Taehyung is giving his gift away, right? He hopes he doesn’t.
Jimin looks intently at the camera, eyes wide from shock. “I—“
“I know you like photography, so, have it.” Taehyung gives him a very soft smile and he swears he can make out Jimin very faintly blushing. He leans a bit closer, hands over Jimin’s smaller ones. He wants to memorize everything of Jimin right now. This Jimin — this is the best Jimin he knows. Not Retail Worker Jimin, not his childhood friend Jimin, but this Jimin.
Jimin looks up to Taehyung, obviously very overwhelmed, eyes a kaleidoscope. “Taetae, I don’t… I don’t know what to say…”
“Then say nothing.”
Jimin shuts up then, just looking at Taehyung, and Taehyung looking back at him. It feels like they’re the entire world, or more like the entire world is them.
“I’ll only take this camera with me if you travel alongside me,” Jimin says very quietly.
It almost feels like a no-brainer for Taehyung, and the yes should come easy to him, but the lack of air he feels and the skipping of his heart tell him otherwise.
Taehyung’s voice is barely above a whisper. “Why?”
“Because I want to remember you.” Jimin’s voice is just as silent.
His heartbeat is unnaturally fast right now. Time seems to have stopped. Everything seems to be Jimin, or more like Jimin seems to be everything.
“Okay,” Taehyung whispers. Jimin doesn’t smile at this, but his eyes beam with the force of a thousand suns, and Taehyung thinks it might just be the same thing.
There is a gentle smile on Seokjin’s face when they eat dinner. Taehyung has a very vague feeling that this is related to his conversation with Jimin before.
“You’re leaving, huh,” he begins, stuffing rice into his mouth. The food puffs his cheeks and Taehyung guesses Yoongi must love that, considering how gross the two of them are. So Taehyung had been right. It doesn’t surprise him exactly, considering Seokjin’s Elder Brother Mode is always turned on to the max. And also, it spares Taehyung the hassle of having to tell Seokjin.
Taehyung just replies with a non-committal mm, immersed in the chicken. Now that Jimin is gone, he isn’t sure if the entire sequence of Taehyung giving Jimin his camera was a dream or not. It really felt like one — feels like one, even: the soft touches and the softer smiles, the kaleidoscope eyes of Jimin and I want to remember you, it all feels so… unreal. And worse, all of the sensations fly inside him, soft like butterflies, and part of him wants to relive that moment again and again and again, until it becomes his everything. Though, to be fair, maybe it already is Taehyung’s everything; he isn’t sure if he’s ready to shoulder the world and its problems yet. Just yet, anyway.
“When are you going?”
“Probably on Saturday.”
“Who’s going to pay?”
“Mostly Jimin,” he says between two bites of chicken.
“Oh? Does he have enough money?”
“I have a bit too, you know!” Taehyung points at Seokjin with his fork, smiling wide in pride. “Commissions.”
Seokjin blinks, then seems to remember, his smile stretching out wide. “True! See, Taehyung-ah, they paid off.”
Taehyung remembers the times he had vehemently protested against doing commissions for codes all too well, and he also remembers the times Seokjin had told him gently that it would pay off. Life truly is something else, and maybe he shouldn’t condemn Seokjin’s (sensible) way of living sensibly so fast again.
“I hope you’ll enjoy it, Taehyung-ah,” Seokjin says, reaching over and ruffling Taehyung’s hair. Just like in old times. Taehyung laughs, just like in old times. “You deserve that break.”
“Thank you, hyung! I bet you’ll miss me. Also… please don’t fuck on my bed.”
Seokjin laughs his trademark laughter, the one that sounds like he’s cleaning a window. “I’ll leave your bed untouched, I promise you.”
“You’re my favourite hyung!” Taehyung says cheerily, feeling his heart almost burst because of the love and gratitude he feels right now. Not just because of the bed, of course.
“Of course I am.” Seokjin reaches over and puts his hand on Taehyung’s nape, then ruffles his hair. “Come on, let’s clean up dinner.”
Seoul - Gwangju, Jeolla-do
Taehyung is about to fall asleep in the bus when he hears something shutter from his right. He turns to his right and notices Jimin with the camera in his hands, posture straight and eyes alight. Any other time, he’d probably feel something from that gaze, but he has woken up at 5 am today and he really wants to catch up on sleep. He has trouble keeping his eyes open in the first place.
“We’re not here yet,” Taehyung manages to bring out, voice slurred.
“I know,” Jimin says, voice ridiculously cheerful for someone who, too, woke up at 5 am. “Just recording my Jiminvision.”
Jiminvision. Taehyung is way too tired to comment or even form a proper, coherent thought. “Sounds nice,” Taehyung slurs, his eyes closing in rapid speed. Before he drifts to sleep, though, he thinks he catches a hint of Jimin’s blinding smile. But that may just be dreamland.
Gwangju is about as nice as Taehyung remembers.
Maybe now that he’s not half everyone’s size, he feels like he can appreciate it a bit more. The buzz of the streets feel different than in Seoul; a bit calmer, maybe. And of course, the characteristic Gwangju dialect coloring the speech of the locals. It sounds like a melodic slur to Taehyung’s ears, and he really wants to talk like that himself. He should know how to, maybe, because he’s lived here for a while, but Seoul speech seems to overrule all sorts of dialects. He has a hard time keeping his Daegu dialect as it is anyway.
But what’s even nicer is knowing that he has nothing to care about. It’s summer, and he doesn’t need to think about assignments or group work or exams or anything. He can only look at pretty scenery and travel with his childhood friend. Jimin seems to share the same sentiment, looking curiously at most things, smiling a lot and generally looking alive. This, Taehyung thinks, is his second favourite Jimin.
Jimin takes, predictably, a lot of pictures, of basically anything that he deems interesting. That mostly seems to be things related to nature, Taehyung notices. Whenever Jimin sees just a blotch of green, he takes a picture of it. So it doesn’t come to him as surprise that they end up visiting 5.18 Memorial Park, a rather large blotch of green. Perhaps more green than Taehyung has seen in a long while.
“I’ve been here,” Taehyung says, the memory hitting him. The air is different, sure, but the trees and the pavement feel ridiculously familiar, like the edge of a memory. Jimin turns around, smiling softly.
“Mm. In middle school.”
“Do you like it?”
“Yeah.” Taehyung pouts, trying to remember. Maybe, is what he wants to say in reply when he hears the sound of a camera shutter. Jimin lifts his camera and clicks. Taehyung turns to the camera, posing properly this time, smiling. Jimin takes a picture of that as well and then puts it down so it’s hanging down from his neck. It looks so much nicer on him than it had on Taehyung. Organic, in a sense.
They walk around, Taehyung humming a bit to himself, and Jimin next to him, hands in his pockets, always threatening to come out. When they stand in front of the massive memorial statue, he remembers his middle school time a bit more vividly.
“For how long have you been in Gwangju?” Jimin asks, hands on the camera.
“I was here for… two years of middle school, I believe,” Taehyung tells him when they look at a memorial of the May 18 movement. “We went here as class.”
“For history?” Jimin says, camera on his neck now, studying the statue.
“Yeah.” He remembers how frustrated he had been about this group assignment that he’d run to this very memorial, late at evening. He remembers how pink the sky had been, and how his frustrations had spiked because of it – how dare it be pink while he’s wailing around! And he remembers how he’d internally shouted at the memorial statue, and how he wished whatever had happened hadn’t happened, just so he doesn’t have to do the assignment. He scoffs at the memory; his life would probably not be as nice as now if the democratic movement hadn’t happened.
“That’s nice,” Jimin says. “I only saw this in our textbooks. I never really travelled anywhere.”
Taehyung catches how slumped Jimin looks. It’s really so easy to read Jimin, because the words the eyes are the window to the soul seem to apply to him to a tee. “Now you saw it in real life,” Taehyung says, turning to Jimin. “And we will get to visit many places together.”
“We will?” There’s a glimmer of hope in Jimin.
“Mm. Just follow my lead!” Taehyung says cheerfully.
“I will!” Jimin says just as cheerfully, eyes turned to crescents and smile wide, high fiving Taehyung. His hands are so small next to his. “Then I won’t have to worry about anything!”
“Precisely!” Taehyung says. That’s the way I like you, he wants to add, but that would feel odd, right? So he keeps it to himself.
Jimin laughs, then, and enthusiastically takes his camera – even pulls the neck band out. Taehyung watches with mild confusion at first, especially because Jimin turns the camera around so that the object lens is on him — oh. Okay. Taehyung pulls Jimin close, and Jimin puts an arm on Taehyung’s shoulder. Taehyung can practically feel how Jimin smiles his widest smile, and Taehyung feels like giving his widest smile as well. He’s aware of Jimin’s head next to his, he’s aware that Jimin smells a bit like tangerine, and he’s aware of Jimin’s happiness as though it’s tangible in the air. Maybe that should feel odd to him, and perhaps, it is. But right now, Taehyung is swimming in how attune he is to Jimin.
Jimin takes the picture.
Gwangju, Jeolla-do - Gochang, Jeolla-do
The next time they sit on a bus, Taehyung is much more awake and gets to see a lot of familiar greenery. He remembers these places. He remembers running through the fields and he remembers his grandma, ever the kindest soul. And the more Taehyung remembers, the more he realizes that maybe, he’s just forgotten a large part of his stay in Busan.
“I was there as kid! At my grandma’s place,” Taehyung tells Jimin. “We had a farm and I helped her tending the crops.”
“Are you sure you did that?” Jimin asks skeptically, peering outside. “Like, you probably were as tall as the crops.”
“Bold of you to say, since you’re currently the same height as the crops.”
Jimin kicks him mercilessly into his shin. “You asshole,” he sneers, while Taehyung tries his best to look apologetic through his laughing fits. He remembers this, too, he realizes – he remembers Jimin being very touchy about the height topic, and he remembers—
“Jiminie,” Taehyung says. “Remember that one time you jumped the entire day? Because you thought you’d get taller that way.”
“I wish that had helped me—“ Jimin answers but then his eyes widen. “You remembered! Oh my god! I thought you’d never remember anything about me.”
“That’s not true!” Taehyung protests. “I remembered your smile before, you know! That didn’t change.”
Jimin looks down and runs a hand through his hair. “You did?”
“Yeah. It’s still as cute as I have in my memory.” No, a voice in Taehyung tells him. “Ah! Even cuter, actually.”
Jimin blushes furiously and it’s so ridiculously cute that Taehyung can’t help but laugh.
“Grandma?” Taehyung calls, knocking one more time, looking around. “Grandma!”
The place of his childhood is exactly like he remembers it – a simple bungalow built of wood, in the middle of fields that seem to stretch themselves out endlessly. Taehyung noticed rows of canola, and a bit of corn. The last time he had been here, those were rows of tomatoes and cucumbers. Though his grandma always had a variety of vegetables, not just one.
The door eventually opens, but instead of his grandma, it’s a young man with a long face and prominent cheekbones who can’t be much older than Jimin and Taehyung. He frowns when he sees Taehyung, but it quickly turns to a soft smile.
“Are you looking for your grandma?” the man asks, Gwangju accent lilting. “She’s at the fields. Dunno where exactly, though.”
“Thank you. And you are?”
“Jung Hoseok. Her caretaker.”
Caretaker. Taehyung feels a guilt rise sharply in his chest when he hears that. He could’ve looked after her, but instead, he hasn’t even spared a single thought about her aside on holidays. He looks down and nods, the lump in his throat rendering him useless.
“I’m Park Jimin, it’s lovely to meet you,” Jimin chimes in. “This is my friend and her grandson, Kim Taehyung.”
“Lovely to meet you! Do you want to come in? Mrs Kim prefers to stay at the fields on her own.”
“That would be cool!” Jimin tugs at Taehyung’s shirt. “Come on Taetae, let’s get in.”
“You couldn’t have done anything,” Jimin whispers, late at night. His hand strokes the back of Taehyung’s hair comfortingly. “It’s better that she has a caretaker rather than being all on her own.”
“I could’ve been there for her,” Taehyung says, his voice full of guilt. He pulls his knees close to his body, watching the curtains move quietly. It’s a nice night, not too warm and not too cold, the air clean. From the curtains, Taehyung can make out some stars, but he can’t bring it to himself to appreciate them. Not tonight, when he’s feeling so blue. “I… I feel like I left her behind, Jiminie.”
Jimin doesn’t say anything for a moment, just strokes Taehyung’s hair, and it’s the only thing Taehyung needs right now. It reminds him a lot of when Seokjin would pull him close and gently play with his hair at night. Then the movement stops. He only hears Jimin breathe in, breathe out. “Taetae. Taehyung, look at me,” Jimin says finally.
Taehyung. Last he had heard his full name from Jimin… that must’ve been in Seoul. That feels so far away now. Taehyung turns around to him. Jimin doesn’t look a single bit sleepy; his eyes seem to reflect the starry sky, firm and beautiful.
Jimin pulls Taehyung into a hug, arms wrapped tightly around him. It takes Taehyung’s breath away a bit, not only because Jimin’s arms are strong. Taehyung breathes in Jimin’s faint tangerine smell, feels his soft skin, and slowly wraps his own arms around Jimin.
“Your grandma is so proud of you, Taehyungie,” Jimin whispers finally. “She doesn’t feel bad you’ve left her behind. So don’t think that way, okay?”
“What’s there to be proud of,” Taehyung says before he can stop himself.
Jimin takes in a deep breath. “You’ve grown up well,” he whispers. “Look at you, you’ve gotten so handsome. So handsome, Taehyungie. You’re polite and you respect elders, and you care a lot about others. You’re so kind, and you have a lot of thoughts.”
He can’t hide, even to himself, the fact that his heart swells up at this flattery. He doesn’t see himself that way – he just tries to be a decent person most of the time. But caring? Not really.
“It isn’t flattery, by the way,” Jimin whispers, chin on Taehyung’s shoulder now, as though he had heard Taehyung’s thoughts. “That’s just how you are.”
It’s easy to believe this with Jimin. Taehyung might have protested with someone else, claimed that they were lying because there’s just no way that all of this applies to Taehyung. When it’s Jimin, it’s easy to believe everything.
“Thank you, Jiminie,” Taehyung whispers when the lump in his throat dissolves itself and his breaths come easier. He snuggles closer to Jimin, intent on absorbing the warmth that radiates from his chest. “You’re really kind too, you know.”
“Just barely,” Jimin scoffs. “But for you, I’ll try my best.”
When Taehyung wakes up, he has perfect sight to the door. Jimin isn’t on his bed. Or their bed. It’s hard to say with the two futons so close to each other. He stretches his arms out, thinking about last night. For you, I’ll try my best. That sounds like Jimin. Jiminie who is so caring and so kind – is he sure he hadn’t just bragged about himself? Because everything he had said last night applied to himself. The chubby, cute kid from his past has grown up to such a beautiful man inside and out. And his smile is still the most beautiful he has ever seen. What he wouldn’t do to see that smile forever. His chest fills up with a feeling Taehyung can’t exactly place. It’s more than happiness, something that fills his chest sticky and sweet.
He sees the door open and someone come in — or, well, to be more precise, a pair of legs.
“Good morning!” Jimin says and crouches, coming on eye level with Taehyung. Taehyung expects a warm, smiley face, but is instead greeted with a camera lens.
“Mm,” Taehyung replies, rubbing his sleep away on one eye, and smiles warmly. “Thanks for last night.”
Jimin takes the picture. “I didn’t even do anything, really,” he says, putting the camera away and looking genuinely like he has no idea just how much his words helped Taehyung. He shoots Taehyung a warm smile, and Taehyung smiles warmly back. “But I’m glad I could help, even just a little.”
The sickly sweet feeling gets stronger, so much so that it hurts Taehyung’s chest a bit. But in a good way. Jimin is so… charming. So unexpectedly charming. His droopy eyes and his little Nubian nose and his full lips and his thighs… they are next to nothing when Taehyung thinks of the stars sparkling in Jimin’s eyes when he’s happy, or how his nose scrunches a little when he’s in thought, or the wide stretch of his lips, revealing all of his teeth, even that little wonky tooth.
Jimin is so… so beautiful. Taehyung had known this, obviously, had known this since he’d seen Jimin in his regular clothes. But right now, it feels like he’s really aware of it. Aware with every fiber of his being. Jimin, his childhood friend from Busan, is beautiful. So very beautiful.
“Taetae?” Jimin asks, sounding a bit funny. “Is there something?”
Oh. He’s staring. Taehyung coughs, throws his blanket to one side and sits up, crossing his legs, Jimin following suit. He has a vague feeling that Jimin feels about as awkward as Taehyung does now.
“Are we going to Busan today?” Taehyung asks when he feels like the silence is too long. It feels like the wrong thing to say, but he doesn’t know what he should say instead. Voice out his feelings? He can barely word them into thoughts. The feeling is abstract… kind of like a color. Cotton candy pink, maybe.
“That’s the plan,” Jimin says, eyes full with relief. Because of what, Taehyung doesn’t know, but it really looks nice on him. “Breakfast is ready, by the way. Your grandma made scrambled eggs for us.”
That makes Taehyung stand up for real. Scrambled eggs from his grandma? More like his favourite dish of all time. He hears Jimin laugh in response when he enters the bathroom, and normally, Taehyung would feel content with this only. But today… today it’s like something’s missing. Like he should’ve done something. Anything but walking into the bathroom.
He washes his face and hopes he doesn’t think like that for the rest of the day.
Gwangju, Jeolla-do – Busan, Gyeongsang-do
There is a word Jungkook used to say a lot, especially when he’s one upped Taehyung. Bonus points if it was about something Taehyung had claimed that Jungkook wouldn’t be able to do it. Jungkook doesn’t say it nowadays, mainly because Taehyung knows better than to doubt Jungkook the All-Rounder, He who is Capable of Everything, but still — he feels like life gave him a sign with that exact word written all over it. In big, bold letters, even. And Taehyung feels ridiculous.
He tries to think about Jungkook, about how he’d tell his stories, while Jimin sleeps soundly next to him. They had agreed not to talk to each other until Taehyung is back, since Jungkook wants to hear everything in one piece. That guy seriously loves to treat real life like he treats his anime – binge-watching everything. Taehyung looks at Jimin’s small hands; they look so ridiculously empty. Like something’s missing. Okay. No. Focus, Taehyung, he tells himself.
Jimin and I went to the 5.18 Memorial Park! He looked so happy to see the statue in IRL real life, Jungkookie. It was amazing. Would Jungkook even be interested in Gwangju? Hmm. Maybe about his grandmother? Jimin and I went to Gochang! To my grandma! She tends corn and canola now. And a bit of tomatoes. I was so slumped because she has a caretaker now. Like, really guilty, y’know? But Jiminie gave me courage again. And the caretaker is nice. A bit loud sometimes. And I don’t get him. Gwangju dialect is crazy. But, like, you should hear Jiminie talk in Busan dialect. It sounds so cute. Cuter than yours for sure. Jimin in general is cuter than you, Jungkookie. Maybe you should consider giving up the title of the cutest— wait. What was that? He isn’t even talking about his grandma in this. He frantically searches something in Jimin’s face – something like an answer or a solution to this problem – and then Jimin stirs and opens his eyes and it’s like all of his worries evaporate in an instant.
“Mm?” Jimin says. “We there yet?”
“Nah,” Taehyung says gently. Jimin looks so angelic when he’s sleeping or stirring awake. More so than usual, actually. “You can continue sleeping.”
“Will do.” Then Jimin closes his eyes again. The sickly sweet feeling returns, engulfing Taehyung’s chest and his entire body. Before he can think, he gives Jimin a kiss on his forehead. It’s soft and barely touching his forehead, actually, but he swears he hasn’t felt this complete in a long while.
Taehyung lets out a content sigh and watches skyscrapers upon skyscrapers battling for the dominance of the sky, before it hits him. He kissed Jimin. Oh god. Oh… god. He kissed Jimin. What the fuck? It’s not like Taehyung has a crush, right? Part of him wants to hide his face to the world forever because this is quite frankly embarrassing – he hasn’t even gave Seokjin a good night kiss in like, ages, but it’s overruled by a huge sense of completion. He feels complete now… yeah. And also, a more reasonable part of Taehyung tells him, that is totally something friends would do. Or travelers. Right. Precisely.
A large billboard with the letters SIKE passes by. Oh. Right. That was Jungkook’s word. That was what life wanted to tell him. Sike. It only dawns to Taehyung later that this was probably not what it said, but he thanks his subconscious for helping him out in that matter anyway.
“Daedapo Beach!” Jimin says, stretching his arms out wide. Taehyung trails along, holding the camera instead. It feels so foreign in his hand, like he’s not holding a camera, but a part of Jimin. Jiminvision. How fitting. “Pretty, right?”
You’re pretty, Taehyung wants to say and bites his tongue, just nodding instead. There has to be a way to stop these thoughts. He can’t stop thinking this way since they’re in Busan. Jimin’s love for his hometown is something… truly something else. Jimin usually smiles and that’s nothing new, but this time, it’s like he can’t stop, pointing at everything he wants Taehyung to see (and it seems to be almost everything in the city), usually accompanied by sparkling eyes, almost beckoning Taehyung to say something about it. And Taehyung… god, if Taehyung doesn’t give. He’d give anything for Jimin.
Fuck. There he goes again, thinking these thoughts.
“The sunset is nice here,” Jimin tells him, pointing at the sun. Objectively speaking, it must be and Taehyung registers the beauty behind a sunset at the sea, but what’s even more beautiful to him is the sunset in Jimin’s eyes. And Jimin’s nice smile.
“Aren’t you going to take a picture?” Jimin asks him. Oh. Right. Camera.
“Y-yeah! Totally!” Taehyung enthusiastically lifts the camera to the sunset and takes a picture. The preview flashes shortly on the small screen and the picture is just so shaky (as shaky as Taehyung’s heart? Debatable) that Taehyung has to take one again. It’s more stable this time, but just… unflattering. Jimin’s are probably nicer.
“You never showed me your pictures?” Taehyung says, looking up to Jimin. Jimin looks down, kicking a bit of sand with his shoe.
“Yeah. Mm… I don’t know… they aren’t that nice. I want you to see nice pictures.”
“They’re probably beautiful,” Taehyung protests. “You work so hard for them!”
Jimin smiles but it looks kind of pained. “They’re just… ordinary?” he says helplessly, looking at Taehyung now. “I don’t know. They’re okay.”
Taehyung fiddles around with the camera. One button has got to show the previews of the pictures and he swears he has used that before, but he can’t remember. He can practically feel Jimin’s horrified expression.
“Please don’t!” Jimin tells him. “They’re really not that nice.”
“I don’t believe you, Jimin.”
“Seriously! They’re as boring as I am!”
“What the fuck!” Taehyung shouts, glaring at Jimin. He feels anger rise from his stomach up to his chest and it makes him sick. Jimin? Boring? In what world? “Park Jimin! What the fuck! You aren’t boring! Who told you that?”
Jimin looks away, a pained expression on his face. “My ex-boyfriend,” he mutters finally.
“Fuck your ex-boyfriend,” Taehyung sneers. “He doesn’t know anything for shit.” His mind helpfully supplies him with images: Jimin, wonder and surprise on his face when he first got the camera; Jimin, who keeps smiling wide at anything he sees in awe; Jimin, laughing and being so kind and Jimin comforting him and—
He drops the camera so that it hangs loosely around his neck and takes Jimin’s hand. “Jiminie,” Taehyung says, trying to sound as stern as possible. “Jimin. You aren’t boring. You’re beautiful and you’re kind and you’re fun to be with, okay?”
Jimin looks to him, looking almost hopeful. “You… you don’t think I am boring? Even when I am at retail?” he whispers.
“No, not at all,” Taehyung affirms. “You’re so much fun to be with. I just dislike the uniform.”
Jimin’s laughs, eyes a bit glassy, and he gives Taehyung a brilliant smile, one that knocks Taehyung’s breath away and stops his heart for a second. “Thank you, Taetae,” he says. “Seriously, just… thank you.”
“I didn’t do anything,” Taehyung says, smirking. Jimin kicks him in the shin, and Taehyung winces loudly, and Jimin laughs, long and progressively high pitched. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. It feels normal, natural, even, to do this with Jimin. To be with Jimin.
“Taetae, you know…” Jimin begins. The sun is slowly setting, revealing a palette of violets and pinks and reds. Taehyung doesn’t need to be reminded this time to take a picture. “I’m always so grateful to be with you. Every moment.”
“Me too, Jiminie.” Taehyung stops to look at Jimin and holds his hands one more time. They’re soft and small and beautiful. Taehyung wants to hold them forever. “Let’s see each other for a long, long time, okay?”
“Okay,” Jimin breathes, intertwining their hands together. Taehyung had felt a bit bad before for not remembering a lot, even when they had been in Busan, but it seems to disappear like the last ray of sunshine in front of them.
Busan, Gyeongsang-do – Daegu, Gyeongsang-do
Taehyung wakes up, feeling something soft on his cheek. The light is dim and it must be… sometime at night. It takes him a while to realize that he slept on Jimin’s shoulder, and he’s still so sleepy that he only has enough energy to process this.
“Is it comfortable?” Jimin asks him.
“I’ve had better pillows,” Taehyung jokes and Jimin scoffs. “Nah, it’s comfortable, don’t worry.”
“I’m glad,” Jimin says softly. He reaches out to Taehyung’s hand and holds it, like he isn’t sure if he should or not. Like they haven’t held hands last evening. Like Taehyung’s heart hasn’t stopped. Like Jimin isn’t the owner of Taehyung’s heart. Like. Like. Like.
“Taetae…” Jimin whispers. “Have you ever… ever felt like you loved someone so much you feel like you just aren’t enough for them?”
Taehyung’s chest tightens a bit. “Yes,” he whispers back, feeling more awake now. He blinks, gathering his surroundings a bit better.
“The kind of love that is sickly sweet and you don’t know what to do?”
He thinks of a blinding smile. “I have.”
“Like…” Jimin almost seems to trip on his own words. “Like… like they’re everything to you.”
If only you’d know. “Every day and every moment,” Taehyung mumbles, gripping Jimin’s hand a bit tighter. Jimin doesn’t say anything for a while, and Taehyung doesn’t want to turn to him: his heart is out in the open, out there and bleeding.
“Me too,” Jimin whispers. And when Jimin intertwines their hands again, Taehyung understands. Finally everything seems to make sense.
“Your parents are so lovable, Taehyungie,” Jimin tells him, sitting on his bed and hands folded neatly on his lap, looking at Taehyung sweetly. Taehyung feels a bit bad; his room was big enough for him, with a bed and place for his PC, but now, the space almost feels a bit too small, now that Jimin’s here. Or too big? Jimin’s hands look so empty, like they’re waiting to be held by Taehyung.
Wow. Knowing that you’re in love with someone makes absolutely nothing better.
“Right,” Taehyung coughs, turning to his PC, tapping his foot impatiently while staring intently at the progress bar. Soon the pictures would be on his drive – Taehyung’s so happy Jimin finally wants to show his pictures to Taehyung - and then they could go back home. Back to Seoul. And it doesn’t feel as bad now – Seoul, that is. It doesn’t feel like a big jail anymore. His assignments feel less like they’re unsolvable, but more like he could do it. This trip really helped him, Taehyung realizes. Oh, wait, no. Jimin, Jimin really helped him. He isn’t sure if Jimin knows. But then again, there’s a chance Jimin doesn’t know just how charming he is – charming in all the subtle ways.
“You know,” Jimin says. “The pictures are all in my blog, actually.”
“What?” Taehyung turns back to Jimin again, who seems kind of flustered. Like this (crucial!!) piece of information was not meant to be said.
“Yeah. Jiminvision. I named them like that, and posted the pictures. The ones I found okay.”
Taehyung feels shocked and upset. That Jimin didn’t tell him! This is incredible. “And you never told me?”
“I…” Jimin runs a hand through his hair. “Well, I felt like they weren’t enough for you. B-but!” Jimin adds once Taehyung opens his mouth to speak. “Now I like them. And I want to show them to you. We only need to wait until this is over, and then we can look at them together.”
The promise of looking at the pictures together soothes Taehyung a little, but a part of him knows better than to show Jimin this. Hah. As if Taehyung would let Jimin go like this. He crosses his arms. “No,” he says firmly.
Jimin’s eyebrows shoot up. “No?”
“I’m mad at you. You thought the pictures weren’t enough for me.”
“We talked about this in Busan already, though. I… I’m trying to be more self-confident, you know,” Jimin says helplessly. It’s so cute to hear him struggle like this. So, so, so cute. If Taehyung didn’t love Jimin with the force of a thousand suns already, he would feel like that now.
“But you didn’t tell me you had a blog. That’s unfair game, Jiminie,” Taehyung says, looking away, trying his best not to put his face into his hands and smile helplessly. Jimin’s so cute, god.
“I’m so sorry! I really am! Let me… let me make it up to you!” Jimin exclaims. “Please?”
“I’m not an easy guy,” Taehyung says and pouts for good measure as he turns to Jimin. “You will need to think of something really good.”
“I—“ Jimin begins and lifts an arm, looking completely helpless. His eyes seem to search an answer in Taehyung’s eyes frantically, but Taehyung has already given him all the answers. It’s up to Jimin to connect the dots now. And just as he thinks that, Jimin opens his mouth, closes it, and something akin to understanding flashes across his face.
“Alright,” he says finally, and Taehyung can hear just how much Jimin tries to keep his voice even right now. “Come here.”
Come here? Well then. Taehyung sits down right opposite to Jimin, eyebrows raised. Jimin looks immensely… focused right now. Like he’s taking a picture. Wait. No. More like he’s nervous. Oh god. That was the last thing Taehyung wanted to achieve with this. What had he been thinking?
“I’m sorry, I was just joking, Jiminie, I am not—“ Taehyung begins before Jimin shushes him impatiently. Oh… okay? Okay. He can deal with this. Definitely.
“Come a bit closer,” Jimin tells him. Taehyung scoots a bit closer, so that their knees touch on the bed. “No. Closer.” Taehyung shoots him a quizzical look, but Jimin looks so immensely firm that he just does as he’s told, bringing their faces in close proximity. Or, a voice in Taehyung says, too far to kiss. Wait. Wait. Whoa. Hold on there. Was that… Is that Jimin’s objective?
“Closer,” Jimin breathes now, his eyes trained on Taehyung’s and so dark. Oh god. He’s meaning it. Jimin… Jimin likes him. Likes him back. Jimin, the sun… Jimin, his personal universe, likes Taehyung. Whoa. Wait a moment there. He needs to process this. Jimin likes him.
“I—“ Taehyung begins, but Jimin just cups his face brusquely and presses his lips on Taehyung’s. Taehyung is pretty sure he just heard his heart stop, notices himself that his lips slightly part and feels all of his muscles freeze. This… this isn’t happening. Where are the secret cameras? Where is Jungkook to tell him that this is just one big joke? Anything? Anyone? This can’t be happening. No.
Jimin pulls apart – well, apart, more like just enough that Taehyung’s entire line of vision becomes Jimin – and looks at him intently. His hands are so soft and so small and so beautiful on Taehyung’s face.
“I can’t believe you like me back,” Taehyung whispers.
Jimin doesn’t even show a hint of a smile. “You can’t believe? Can’t believe?” he whispers, shock all over his voice. “You… you should.”
Jimin’s words feel less like a command but more… more like the truth. “I should,” Taehyung whispers back.
“I can’t believe you like me back either, though,” Jimin breathes. Taehyung is so close to Jimin that he smells the tangerine fragrance on Jimin’s skin, close that he could practically count all the stars in his eyes.
It’s hard to say who leans in first, and who kisses first. All Taehyung feels is Jimin, his awkwardness in his muscles melting slowly away. Everything is Jimin – or, well, Jimin is everything. Always has been and always will be. He wraps his legs around Jimin and runs a hand through the back of Jimin’s hand, and Jimin’s hands seem to be busy running all over Taehyung’s back. Jimin’s lips are so beautiful and so warm and so soft, just like everything about Jimin, and Taehyung feels a burst of soft colors inside him. He sighs contentedly into the kiss. He’s... he’s waited so long for this. So, so, so long.
They pull away to catch a breath and Taehyung honestly feels like it was a time too short. And, judging from the look Jimin shoots him, he probably feels the same way.
“Did I make it up to you?” Jimin asks, voice careful.
“Mm.” Taehyung crosses his arms again as if in thought. Jimin laughs in disbelief. “I suppose it’s enough,” he replies. Jimin slaps him, still laughing hard. And Taehyung… he could never not give in, even if he wanted to, and laughs along.
This Jimin — not Retail Worker and not Self-Conscious Jimin and not Timid Jimin, but this. This Jimin, eyes alight and cheeks flushed, sitting right on his childhood bed – this Jimin is his.
And Taehyung would not want to have it any other way.
“There is so much of you in this, hyung,” Jungkook complains in the library as he scrolls through Jimin’s blog (a simple Tumblr blog with a kind of an inconsistent tag system – Taehyung was tagged Kim Taehyung, then Taehyungie, then Taetae all in the span of three posts, and the places are tagged all over the place as well). Taehyung had honestly wanted to tell Jungkook everything, but Jungkook had quickly shushed him, just going with let me see the pictures instead, feigning disgust at the sight of Jimin and Taehyung holding hands. And also, this now spares him to tell the story over and over again. He supposes he’ll make an exception for Seokjin, but only because Seokjin is his all-time favourite hyung.
“Well, duh,” Taehyung replies, leaning back. “He loves me.”
“I can tell.” Jungkook looks carefully at the pictures, humming at whichever image he likes a lot. He stops at the earliest – Taehyung and Jimin smiling together at the 5.18 memorial statue.
“I like this one best,” Jungkook comments. “It… feels very pure. The lighting is good. Have you been dating him then too?”
“In Gwangju? No. We were just friends.”
“Huh. All no homo? Really? You look like you’ve made out at least thrice and had sex on top of it.” Jungkook wriggles his eyebrows. “Who has been topping, Jimin or you?”
Taehyung wants to slap Jungkook, but Jungkook goes out of his reach before it can happen, almost falling off his chair while doing so. “First of all, a twelve-year-old like you should not know about this,” Taehyung says, pointing a finger at Jungkook. “Secondly. It’s Jimin hyung for you.”
“Oh, you were the one bottoming?”
“You’re going to see the bottom right this instant if you don’t stop!”
Jungkook laughs, like the devil he is, and straightens himself. Taehyung laughs too eventually, pulling Jungkook close with his arm and slapping him on his shoulder. He feels so ridiculously fond over Jungkook – Jungkook who hadn’t even said a single word about Taehyung giving Jimin his camera or Taehyung getting a boyfriend or… just about anything. He’s blessed in life, really.
“Anyway, looks like a good vacation,” Jungkook says.
“Well, it was perfect to me.” Well, if perfect could even begin to describe how much Taehyung had liked the vacation (Jimin). “I feel more energized now.”
“Really?” Jungkook’s eyes light up at this. “I’m glad. Hopefully the semester goes well for both of us, with high energies.”
“We’re gonna make it work, Kookie.”
“Always, hyung!” Taehyung and Jungkook high-five each other, and things feel like they are just… just right.
(Jimin and Taehyung switch, by the way.)