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Jungkook meets his Prince Charming on a Monday night.

Of course at this point, he still doesn't know that. All that's caught his eye from the other side of the room is a boxer who's a bit too light on his feet.

“Hey.” Yoongi cuffs him keen along the ear, where his old wound is. “Game face.”

Jungkook turns his head back, indignantly rubbing at the side of his temple. “Jesus, Coach.”

“You get distracted, you lose. It's not gonna be my problem once you're stuck in the ring.”

“Right.” He fixes his stance, careful of his busted knee. Injuries are a staple in this. If you're not hurt, you're not doing it right. “Sorry.”

Yoongi clicks his tongue, then turns to look around the training gym. “The hell were you looking at, kid?”

“Nothing. C'mon, let's go.”

“Was it that one?” Yoongi ignores him and teases, pulling off one of his focus mitts and pointing between the punching bags, at a man with brown hair buzz-cut to his head. Sweating onto the mats, tossing quick blows. It's not him that Jungkook was looking at. He's nowhere near as beautiful.

“No. It's no one, come on.”

“That one?” Yoongi goes on, and points to someone else. “He's pretty.”

“Shut the fuck up.” Jungkook reaches forward and knocks Yoongi on the shoulder, his bruised knuckles stinging. “Let's train. You're wasting time.”

I'm wasting time?” Yoongi turns back around, snickering. “Your eyes were the ones wandering, not mine.”

“My eyes weren't wandering—”

“Shut up.” Yoongi cuffs his ear again, painfully grazing the barely-healed wound, and puts the focus mitt back on. Steels his stance, raising his hands as targets. “Okay. Go.”

Jungkook scowls, but nods and throws another swing. He's careful to focus just enough on Yoongi, but his eyes keep wandering, glancing over Yoongi's shoulder whenever he gets the chance, at the man in the far corner of the room.

He's built of tense muscle, thin skin stretched something gorgeous over his sharp bones, body taut like a real fighter's as he moves. He's probably new here. Jungkook's never seen him around. Because fuck, he'd know if he'd seen a face like that before. So he stares, stares a whole damn lot. Sue him. You don't get a lot of pure faces around here, so he'll take what opportunities he gets.

Training ends sometime past midnight, because that's always how it goes.

“Get home safe, kid,” Yoongi tells him before he leaves, like he always does. It's a nice routine they have going.

“Gotcha.” Jungkook smiles and gives him a mock salute.

This is all familiar. The small gym is quiet during the day, and even more so during the nights. Jungkook likes the peace, the quiet.

It's in the locker rooms when he sees that man again, the one who'd undeniably caught his eye. He's even more striking up close, but Jungkook's never been the type to brave any situation like this, so he does what locker-room-code instructs and politely avoids eye contact. It's unnecessary though, because the man speaks to him.

Wicked cut, man.” Jungkook startles, looks up. “Bleeding a bit, though.”

The guy's leaning against the metal lockers, a sheer shirt and a loose pair of sweats thrown over his lithe frame. His duffel bag is hanging off his shoulder, hair wet from the shower. He looks good. Eye-catching in that way most normal people couldn't be if they tried. Stunning in the rawest fashion, tan like a summer beach model in those sexy calendars you can buy. He hands Jungkook a cloth.

“Uh. Thanks.” Jungkook nods brusquely, taking it. It takes him a moment to register what he means, but the man watches him patiently, eyes on the side of Jungkook's head. Right.

Lifting the cloth, he pushes it against his temple. He'd been practising a few weeks ago and Yoongi had gotten a well-placed heel of a palm against a wound from an old fight that he'd wrongly assumed was healed. And the ruptured stitches had to be cut out and the gash had to be fried with disinfectant all over again, with the gory scald feeling like it was corroding his skull. And then again today, that same injury had busted open. Feeling too lazy to bandage it, Jungkook had just let it bleed. He's pretty used to things like these.

The cloth grates against the torn skin around the wound, but it soaks up the dribbling blood quite nicely.

“Keep it,” the man tells him.

Jungkook meets his eyes. The sounds of the old boiler clang beyond the concrete walls, and the late night boxers' feet squeak over the gym floor. The noises bounce in the hollow corridor. It's a little awkward, but Jungkook's always been a little awkward, so he's used to this too.

It's nothing odd to see on fighters, so Jungkook doesn't think too much when he notices it. The purple swell on the man's temple, a vile laceration growing from its edge and onto his arched brow bone like a willow branch. He still stares a little, though, and the guy just raises a single, dark eyebrow, smirking like he knows something, some dirty little secret. The blackened veins beneath the skin around his eye shift with the movement.

“Thanks,” Jungkook eventually repeats, looking away from the fragments of violence.

“No sweat. Can I ask you something, though?”

It's a simple question, but Jungkook knows it well enough. Vagueness can never be good, because you never know what's on the line.

Jungkook shrugs, still holding the cloth to his wound, and turns back to fiddling with the stuff in his locker. “Ask away, man. Can't guarantee an answer, though.”

“Ah, mysterious. I really dig that kinda thing.” The guy chuckles, and Jungkook's jaw sets into something firmer, his rigid eyebrow twitching. The man points down at Jungkook's left knee. The correct one. How the man could tell so easily is beyond him. “Hurt your knee?”

That's all he asks, but it's enough to seem like a threat.

“What's it to you?” Jungkook asks back casually—or at least as casually as he can manage without gritting his teeth too hard.

“Nothing, really. Just curious.” And he smiles, as if he's saying humour me.

“Stairs,” Jungkook grunts.

“Always the stairs, isn't it?” He laughs, a mellow timbre that entirely lacks the caution Jungkook's life is loaded with.

He should be being more careful, but it's easy to trust a pretty face. Jungkook just can't shake the attraction he feels toward this guy. Can you blame him? He's a little—a lot—on the perfect side, like one of those museum busts come to life, marble-sculpted edges and the whole deal.

“Hope it's not too bad.” His casual air is infuriating, but he's cautious enough to take a step back when Jungkook visibly bristles. And don't think Jungkook doesn't catch it; the tactical way the guy's feet naturally move, staggered left in front of right, the subtle fall into an instinctive orthodox stance. Knees bent and ready, before he rights himself and again leans on the lockers.

Quick instincts make a quick fighter. A quick fighter makes a victor. Some people rely on agility, so maybe that's this guy's trump card. Something that sets him above the casual boxers that frequent this place.

Jungkook had sworn he'd seen something more in the way this guy moved during the occasional, self-indulgent glances he'd took. Maybe he'd been right. Maybe Jungkook's not the only fighter of that sort in this place. The sort where behind each paycheck is a grand story of busted knuckles and skin mashed under a fist, a man falling to his knees with his eyes going blank by another's fault.

“Not too bad at all,” Jungkook says, careful with his words. Careful not to say too much. There's a hidden danger to letting other people know your injuries, your weak points. You never know which ones are the backstabbers.

“I've really got to get going,” the guy says, taking another step back and jostling his heavy bag into place over his shoulder.

“Hm.” Jungkook gestures to the cloth, still pressed to the side of his head. “Thanks for this.”

“No sweat. But I'll see you around?”

The guy smiles, and there's something so off about it that Jungkook can't place. He isn't even sure he wants to, because this man is beautiful and it's always the saddest thing when beautiful and terrible turn out to go hand-in-hand.

“Who knows? It's a big city, big world.”

The man just snickers, giving him a wave that feels more like a taunt than a goodbye.

“Wishful thinking, no? Wishful thinking.”

He leaves with a metal clang of the locker room door, and Jungkook hates how he stares at the way the sheer fabric tugs and catches on his bony shoulder blades as he walks away. It's nice, admittedly. Something hot to think about, how those shoulder blades and the muscles holding them might move in different circumstances.

Jungkook hops into one of the gym showers, and it's only because he's alone that he even dares to think this—but as he stands beneath the lukewarm spray of water, he spends an embarrassingly long time contemplating whether or not it would be too immoral to jack off to the thought of how that man's muscle had pulled beneath the hot blush of his skin.

 


 

It's no secret that Jeon Jungkook is a well known name, and that's a fact that speaks volumes. He's good. Enough to be known, enough to be feared.

So yeah, you could say he's expecting a win tonight. Expecting that warm catharsis, although you probably shouldn't call it that. But he should have learned by now, not to have expectations for anything. Should have learned that nothing is ever gonna be what you want it to be, because if there's anything the world couldn't give less of a shit about, it's you.

Mainly, it's him.

You hear 'bout tonight?

There's a lot of talk going on, a lot about what's coming. Talk about how this here's gonna be the biggest thing in a long while, right up there with Paddy Monaghan and his 114th straight win back in the '70s, then some more talk about how he's a fraud, and nothing compared to Bobby Gunn, and then even more talk. Talk about how these guys tonight are gonna blow that fucker Gunn straight outta the water.

But, again, that's all just talk.

Jungkook can't wait to see those fucking jaws drop when he strings together a bit of reality right before their eyes, cuts through their little words.

Call it what you want, really. Pretend it's greater than it is, just like that. Anything if it makes the hard parts easier for you.

As for himself, Jungkook will just choose to call it living. Getting ready to die. All that.

He cracks his knuckles for the billionth time this night, cringing at the mild pain, and then doing it again. Sweat's cooling his back beneath his loose-fitted tank-top. He's wearing jeans for this fight, to hide the bandages wrapped around his still-weak knee. It's been months, and it's almost healed, but not quite. Still, he needs the money. Fuck preparation. If you can't take it, then you can't take it. If you can, then you get a couple bucks in the process.

So what, he's a gambler. What's he got to lose?

Blood. A bit of pride. More blood. Not much else.

“How you feeling?”

“Feeling fine.”

“Hm.” Yoongi purses his lips, crosses his arms and regards Jungkook with disapproval. Nods at his cigarette. “Liar. You're smoking. Again.”

“Yeah, well.”

“Weren't you trying to quit?”

“Everyone's trying, Coach.” Jungkook chuckles and leans back against the concrete wall, blowing smoke up at the stained, dark ceiling. “What do you want me to say? I feel like I'm gonna shit myself. You want me to say that?”

“No. My problem is you look like it. Look scared, kid.” Yoongi lifts a hand and lightly flicks Jungkook's forearm. “You think you're gonna win looking like that? Like some wimpy little half-ass bitch?”

“Little,” Jungkook scoffs. Sucks again on his cigarette, the filter balanced so gently between his fingers that it's almost frightening. “Says you, Mr. Four-foot-two-and-a-quarter.”

“Watch your mouth,” Yoongi warns, and takes his hands out of his sweater pockets, fiddling with the clean gauze wrapped neatly in a bundle. “Or I'll watch it for you.”

“Mm. Is that a threat? 'Cause I'm pretty sure you can't even see my mouth from down there, shorty—”

Reaching up, Yoongi plucks the cigarette from Jungkook's hands, crushing it on the floor beneath his shoe before he stuffs the ball of gauze into Jungkook's mouth, who just stands there for a moment, baffled. Then he lets out a muffled laugh.

“Like I said,” Yoongi deadpans, and point down the hall to the dimly lit concrete room, sodium vapour lamps buzzing desperately over the sound of the crowd. “This is gonna be big. You get scared, you're gonna lose. You lose, you don't get money. Then you fight again, before you're ready, and you'll probably lose again. Sick cycle, Jeon. Don't get sucked in.”

What Yoongi isn't considering is that it might already be too late.

Rolling his eyes, Jungkook gingerly takes the gauze out of his mouth, shaking it out flat before wrapping it around his hands.

“I'm not ready now, either,” Jungkook says, and warily brings his knee up. Bends it, tests it. It still hurts, and most of his weight is kept on his right foot. That's a hard balance to mask in front of a vigilant opponent. He'll have to be careful.

Yoongi slaps at his knee, and he brings it back down. “Don't flaunt it, you idiot. Fight starts, like, now. Kim's in this same fucking building. What if he sees you hopping around like a shithead that can't land a fall, what then?”

“Okay, first of all, it was your fault for kicking me in the fucking knee during training like a goddamn degenerate—”

“No, it was your fault for letting me kick you in the knee. Got that?”

“That makes literally no sense—”

“Shut up. Listen.” Yoongi points a finger in his face, and Jungkook indignantly swats it away. “The only edge you've got in this is that no one knows you're hurt. So don't lean too much to your right, and always keep both knees more bent than you have to, left more than right. Good?”

“...All right.” Jungkook furrows his brow, and then runs his gauze-wrapped hand down his face before sighing and beginning to wrap the other one. “Dude, I'm gonna fucking lose.”

“Shut up, Nancy Downer, you've got this.”

“Debby Downer. Negative Nancy. Pick one, dumbass.”

Yoongi clicks his tongue. “Brat. Maybe I should beat you to shit right here. Let Kim have the pickings. Rip your pulpy body to shreds.”

“Ah. Fuck,” Jungkook just breathes. Because that statement gets him thinking again. The terrible things he's heard about this coming opponent. How the guy fights. Fights, not to simply win, but to injure. Fights with intention, fights for the fun of it. “Fuck, man. I just—”

“Stop, Kook. I know what you're thinking. Stop. He's just a guy. Just like you. You've won more fights than him, even. 'Sides, there are worse rumours going around about you than him any day, okay? Have you looked in a mirror?” Yoongi squeezes his bicep. “You're fucking huge.”

“Always your cute fucking muscle pig, huh, Coach?”

“Only to me.” Yoongi smiles, and it's weirdly gentle. It's been a long time since Jungkook's been nervous before a fight. Years, actually. Maybe it's making Yoongi a little unnerved, too. “But everyone else, they're scared of you, man. I know you've never actually seen that Kim guy, but let me tell you, he's a fucking twig. One of those dainty ones, you know? Probably quick on his feet, but there's no way he packs much of a punch.”

Jungkook nods, putting extra care into tucking in the gauze around his hands properly, as if having that perfect would help him fight better. A shitty good-luck charm for those with no sentiment to begin with.

“A pretty face, maybe. But that's about it.” Yoongi jabs him in the flank, smiling wider when Jungkook giggles and flinches away from him, playfully pushing his hand to the side. “I know you're weak for those. So don't fall for it.”

“Got it, Coach.” Jungkook chuckles, and kicks himself off the wall.

“You ready?” Yoongi asks.

“Nope,” Jungkook says, popping the p, letting a relaxed smile grace his features. Because he can already feel it. The buzz. Whether he wins or loses, it's still going to be there. The fulfilment of finally being good at something, of finally doing something right. “Let's go watch me get fucking killed, hey?”

“Yeah, that's the spirit.” Yoongi sighs sarcastically, and starts walking with Jungkook down the dark hallway.

“You know me. Just a glowing ball of spirit, aren't I?”

“Really loving your positivity tonight, Jeon.”

“Mm. One thing, man. When you drag my dead body out of the ring, make sure my pants stay on. These jeans are kinda loose.”

“Don't talk like that, kid.” Yoongi gives him a rough pat on the shoulder. “Don't. You'll make me cry. You've got this. Where's your confidence? Where's that cocky brat I always want to sock straight across the mouth, huh?”

Jungkook scoffs, crossing his arms and drumming his cold fingers over his forearm. The main room is essentially a concrete box, dark and crowded and hot. It's in the basement beneath a small, private boxing gym, an inconspicuous place hidden in this massive, screaming city. Just one more place of depravity, one among the far too many.

“Who knows. Got lost in hell, maybe.”

“Eh, there's no such thing.”

Jungkook laughs. “Then what do you call this?” And he gestures at the mass of people in the stench of liquor and cigarette smoke. Faces illuminated just barely by the hanging lights up above, their expressions hidden in the shadows of their hoods, the deep hollows of their eye sockets.

“This?” Yoongi chuckles, and pulls his hood up like everyone else. It's cold down here, and it's raining outside, above ground. Jungkook half wishes he had a hoodie for himself as well. But he knows better than to try to fight with so much loose fabric, something that would make it harder to breathe, make him easier to choke.

He's an opponent tonight. He's not gonna be an easy one.

Yoongi goes on, “Kid, you're crazy if you think this is hell.”

They're walking toward the centre, pushing through the throng of people, and a ring is clearing there. Everybody knows what's coming. Everybody's expecting something. Always with that dangerous expecting.

Maybe you're here for the victory, maybe you're here for the loss. Or maybe you're here for violence. Maybe you just like brutality, the reminder of how animal you can get while still remaining painfully human.

Jungkook likes to say he's here for the money.

But that's not true. The thrill, the experience, riding the spike of adrenaline, it all gets to him just the same as it does to everyone else. Shockwave excitement spills out with his blood, and he always smiles at the splatters of red like an old friend.

“Shit, so what do you wanna call it then?”

And then the referee's ambling to the middle, and the crowd clears back some more, leaning against the cracked cement walls. The guy's wearing a pair of old sweats and a sweater printed with the logo of some university there's no way he actually went to, almost comically unofficial. But he commands authority, at least somewhat.

Yoongi doesn't answer the question, but Jungkook knows what the answer would have been well enough.

Call this your life, kid. Love it or hate it. Hell's no fucking escape.

“Remember your knee,” Yoongi just says instead, and elbows Jungkook's side. Then he steps back with the crowd, leaning against one of the pillars in the corner of the room. Sometimes the gym owners prepare a ring for these things. There might be some mats placed on the floor. But they don't want to have to clean the mess off them, because they know a lot of blood is going to be spilled this time around. Because they know who's fighting tonight.

Kim Taehyung.

Tonight's gonna be bad. Jungkook wonders if he can take it this time. Wondering is kind of pointless though, so he just forgets that and steels himself to fight.

“All right, back off, people, we're starting.”

Jungkook clicks his tongue, cracking his knuckles again. A bad habit. He should work on dropping that soon. Probably not good for the joints.

The ref gestures at Jungkook, saying something. It's all static, though, and he's only now realizing the galvanized edge to his nerves. But he's done this enough to know it's some sort of introduction being spoken. Not that he needs one. Everyone here knows who Jeon Jungkook is. And then the guy's pointing at the other side of the circle, saying something else. Some other introduction. Kim Taehyung. Kim Taehyung. Kim Taehyung. Of course, everyone knows who Kim Taehyung is as well.

Jungkook included.

He's heard the rumours. Who hasn't?

Kim Taehyung, the wiry guy who looks like carefully constructed royalty, with soft hair and a softer smile. Kim Taehyung, the same guy who's smashed the bones in his fist countless times because he's reckless, off-the-hinge and absolutely brutal, with no hesitation about a few shattered knuckles if the sacrifice means his opponent gets knocked out cold, jawbone dislocated, missing a few teeth and a fuckload of blood. A first-rate fighter if ever there was one.

Then he's walking up, that infamous Kim Taehyung, with his face shrouded by a hood, and Jungkook would be lying if he said he's not smiling the slightest bit.

There's a tingle in his fingers, maybe because he'd wrapped the gauze too tight, but more likely because he's excited. So he might lose, so what. He'll still get to see it, that violent beauty in action. Because Yoongi's right; Jungkook's a sucker for a pretty face. An even bigger sucker for the beauty of the brawl. So when that pretty face can fight, when it can fight well—he's in love. Not with the person necessarily, but the moment.

There's something striking about the skilled cut of a punch. Something he could never ignore, a cold-cock right to the heart.

“You guys ready?”

Jungkook nods, never being much of a talker, his eyes locked on the man before him, that grey hood still covering that pretty face he's heard so much babble about.

“Ready as I'll ever be.” Taehyung chuckles, and his hands play at the hem of his sweater. Jungkook is attentive. The guy's taking his time. Why?

“All right. Come on in—” And the ref motions them to the centre of the ring. Jungkook walks up as his opponent's pulling his sweater off, over his head.

Jungkook's watching, ready for that pretty fucking face. Expecting some picture-perfect pansy, lean muscle, skinny in all the weak ways. Expecting a pert pair of lips, maybe. A comely set of eyelashes draped over cute, wide eyes, maybe. Just expecting.

But, again, he should have learned by now not to have expectations for anything.

That sweater comes off, the shadow of the hood gone, and Jungkook sees who Kim Taehyung is. Sees the man from the gym on that one pleasant Monday night a few days ago.

Recalls the bloody cloth he'd tucked in his back pocket, and then promptly forgot about.

And for a moment, he feels lost. Like his everyday life is mixing with this separate calamity he lives, two existences he tries to keep separate the best he can despite their desire to bleed together.

Taehyung throws his sweater to the side, into the arms of someone in the crowd, his loose shirt left draping off his body. He's composed of angles—planar, geometric, fucking mathematical. Skinny and wiry like Yoongi had said. But there's a natural grace to how he handles himself, and Jungkook's slightly enraptured.

Pretty will never be a good enough word, but it's all he's got. All he can come up with.

Then Taehyung smirks at Jungkook, and that's enough to snap him out of his daze. There's a fight to win, blood to spill and bruises to leave.

“You guys, all right, you guys. You guys ready? Yeah? All right.”

They get close, touch fists. Jungkook's got his wrapped at the wrists and hands, none beyond the knuckles, but he notices Taehyung hasn't wrapped anything. One of those devil-may-care attitudes, perhaps, of those people that live solely for the pain.

Their eyes lock.

“Jeon,” Taehyung says, nodding. Smiling softly, like all the rumours say he does.

That gets Jungkook thinking, mind racing through all those other rumours. How many are true, how many are exaggerations. How many don't even skim the cold surface.

“Kim.” Jungkook nods back, composed. Don't forget, he's good at this. A seasoned professional. Good at winning, good at faking.

“How's your knee?” Taehyung says, his deep voice carrying pleasantly over the rising chaos. The crowd's getting frantic, charged. Then his smile gets dark, toothpaste-clean teeth looking like knives in the dim light.

And Jungkook says nothing.

“Five steps back, five steps back,” the ref yells, having to raise his volume as the voices around them build, build, build. All that, and something's gotta come tumbling down. “Right, all right, you guys. You've got this? 'S a fair play fight, you know what that means, ref calls the shots. Mouth guards in? Yeah? Good? You good? Fair and square guys, no biting, all that. Keep it respectful, you know the drill. Good? You good?”

Good.

Jungkook's not ready but that's too bad. So with that final look of his, Taehyung regards Jungkook with a smile that's not quite happy, but maybe smug, or even carefree. They both want to win. They both want what they love.

“Ready?” the ref calls, clapping his hands and pointing at Jungkook. “Ready?” he calls again, and this time points at Taehyung.

Jungkook just his chin upward, a quick, businesslike affirmation. Taehyung claps his hands, swinging his arms around him, pacing back and forth, shouting a blunt yup.

“All right, all right. Let's get fighting!”

So the ref steps back to meld into the crowd lining the walls. Leaving Jungkook, leaving Taehyung.

Game on.

The audience is loud. Jungkook's heartbeat is louder.

And the fight is ear-splitting.

Slam.

There's a lot to this story.

You might want to know about the raw knock of Jungkook's fist against Taehyung's chin, how the ricocheting pain bursts through the bones of his knuckles which he really should be more careful about protecting.

Bash.

You might want to know about how Taehyung gets the strong, tactful heel of his palm right across Jungkook's cheekbone. How the reason he doesn't fight with a hand wrap is frankly because he doesn't need one. How he's quick, like the wiry ones always are. How, unlike Yoongi had said, he packs a crooked punch, brimming with power and hope and desperation, which the wiry ones never, ever do.

You might want to know about the unforgiving kick delivered to Jungkook's left knee.

Or maybe about the sick crack as Jungkook goes down onto the concrete, as his eyes roll back into his head before he blacks the fuck out.

You might want to know about all that, but there's really no need.

Jungkook loses that night. That's all you really need to know.

 


 

“Kid.”

That's the first thing Yoongi says to Jungkook when he wakes up. Kid. As if he didn't practically die the last time he was conscious, however long ago that was. As if he didn't lose pints of blood all over the ground, as if he isn't swollen like a grape, as if he's just fine.

Walk it off, is always Yoongi's motto.

“Hn,” Jungkook grunts. He thinks he might have been trying for words, but he's not really sure.

“You alive?”

“F—Mm. No.”

“Alive enough?”

“Guess.” He gets halfway through a shrug before he realizes it hurts too much and just drops his shoulders.

“Good enough for me,” Yoongi mutters. He gets up from his chair, placing a firm hand on his lower back and stretching. Jungkook wonders how long he's been sitting there, probably with his back hunched over like he always does. When he thinks too much, like he always does.

Yoongi hands him a cigarette, and Jungkook takes it. Tradition. Medication. Something like that. He lights it for Jungkook too, and looks at him gently when his shoulders relax as he inhales.

“How long?” Jungkook mutters in a puff of smoke, and lifts his empty hand in front of himself. Inspecting the scrapes along the knuckles, the splint over his ring finger like a fancy engagement ring. That finger's broken. The others seem fine. But it still doesn't change that his finger's broken, and that's probably gonna set him back.

“Nothing big. Two days? Three?”

“What, can't count, old man? That brain of yours okay?”

“Peachy,” Yoongi spits. “Watch your mouth. I'm only five years older than you. Means I'm five years better, too.”

“You wouldn't hurt an invalid,” Jungkook scoffs. “Would never hurt me, either. You're all talk, Min. All talk and no game.”

“Wanna add a couple more days to that count, keep fucking talking.” Yoongi walks to the other side of the room, and Jungkook's tired eyes follow him as he laughs in response. “You want coffee?”

“Ugh. I'll probably barf.”

“All right, no coffee then. Had to clean all your fucking blood, don't wanna deal with your puke too.”

“You?” Jungkook asks, and tries his best to sit up straighter in the bed, fluffing the old, flat pillows the best he can and ignoring the lingering brown stains of his blood. “Jimin didn't come over?”

“Nah. Guy was busy. Too many people getting killed in this city. Said he'd come by to check on you later though, so try not to die.”

“I'll do my best.”

Yoongi's facing the counter, fiddling the coffee pot. It hisses as he releases the steam, and the glass spout clinks against the ceramic mug when he pours it. Jungkook loves these sounds, these smells.

“Hey,” he begins before he can stop himself, “how's Kim?”

“Jesus. Kim?” Yoongi clicks his tongue, taking a moment to place the coffee pot down and walking back across the tiny single-room apartment—kitchen, bedroom, and living room all crammed into one brick-walled box. It's oddly cozy, though, with thick rugs covering the concrete flooring, bookshelves lining the walls. “Kim's... Who the fuck knows?”

Jungkook furrows his brow and Yoongi sits in the chair next to the bed, holding his coffee mug, the black one he always uses with the thick handle. He reaches forward, helping shift the pillows behind Jungkook's back, and then pushes his chest back down when he tries to lean forward. Then he adjusts the blankets around Jungkook without saying a word, making sure he's comfortable.

“Guy's pretty secretive,” Yoongi goes on. “You are too, so you know why. Not that anyone really wants to know about you, or him, outside the ring. 'Cause let's be honest, you're not that interesting when you're not getting the shit kicked outta you.”

Thanks, Coach.”

“You're a real boring dude, Kook. My guess is Kim is, too. Just left with his coach afterwards, from what I saw. Maybe a couple buddies. Remember, though, I was kind of busy dealing with you. You know how much you fucking weigh, Jeon? And I had to lug your bag-of-muscle body all the way to my car. Jesus Christ.”

Jungkook laughs, his voice a little rough. Smoking never helps much with that. Neither does getting beat to within an inch of your death. But still, he laughs. Smiling at that, Yoongi takes a sip of his coffee.

“But if you're asking what he was like, I'd say he wasn't much better than you. I mean, okay, he was conscious, but other than that.” Yoongi takes another small sip, and chews on his tongue a bit when it most likely burns. “Did a fucking number on him, kid. Got him bad.”

“Hm. Good.” Jungkook nods, and reaches over to the ashtray on the bedside table, flicking the butt-end of his cigarette. “Did he bleed?”

Yoongi whistles, raising his eyebrows and swirling his coffee with two careful hands. “Boy, did he. Not as much as you, sure, but he bled. Bled like hell.” He catches Jungkook's grin, and rolls his eyes. “That makes you happy, huh? Fucking sadist, I swear.”

“Deserved it. Guy fights dirty,” Jungkook grunts.

“You do too, Jeon. Don't forget.” Then Yoongi lifts a hand and pats the blankets over Jungkook's left knee. “But yeah, Kim fights dirty. Real dirty. Fucker knew about your knee, even. Can you believe that? Christ, even I couldn't tell you keeping your weight off it.”

Jungkook sighs, but doesn't say anything. Not telling Yoongi about the stupid shit that happened in the locker rooms. It really was more chance than fault, that he'd see his coming opponent there. Still, it happened, and Kim caught him with his guard down, his injury obvious, and that's just that.

No extra cash rolling in this time around, which is a shame. He'll just need to pick up more hours.

“But yeah, you didn't lose to some asshole. Guy's kinda like you, I think, just trying to live. There's a reason people respect him. I doubt he went drinking after, doubt he blew his wins on some whores or blow or anything like that.”

Jungkook scowls. “Don't compare me to that.”

“Why not?” Yoongi chuckles. “You're living a fantasy if you think you're any better or worse than anyone.” He sips his coffee some more, black and bitter because cream and sugar lean a tad on the pricey side. A luxury. Yoongi prefers his coffee a little sweeter, but this is just one more thing he's got to live with. “We're all just fucking degenerates. You, me, Kim. Everyone.”

Jungkook leans his head back against the pillows, feeling the wrapped bandages around his head peel uncomfortably against his blood-sticky hair. “Such a downer, Coach. Jesus.”

“Ah. Sorry. Just saw my friend get beat to shit in a fucking gym basement, you know? I've been on the low side lately.”

“Jesus,” Jungkook says again, not knowing what to respond with. Sorry? No. He's not sorry. Oops? Maybe. There's a lot he's got wrong.

He ashes his cigarette again. “Got any more?”

“Nope,” Yoongi says, popping the p like he's too happy to say it.

“Liar.”

“Smoker.”

“Whatever.” Jungkook rolls his eyes.

“Yeah, whatever. Listen, Jimin's gonna be coming around later,” Yoongi says, getting up, his knees cracking. There are bags under his eyes, even worse than the ones normally adorning his pale skin. Eyes bloodshot, hair a mess. No sleep, probably the entire time Jungkook's been out. It's almost painful, thinking of the frantic way Yoongi must have shone a flashlight in his lolling eyes, checking. And he's not making a big deal of it now, but he surely must have panicked when he called Jimin only to be told he'd have to be put on hold for a few days.

Yoongi doesn't have a lot, and Jungkook has even less, but they both have each other. For now, at least.

“Stick around till then, all right?”

Jungkook grins at him, wondering how ridiculous his beat-to-shit, plum-swollen face looks coupled with such an expression. “Couldn't leave if I tried, Coach.”

 


 

“Open your eyes.”

“They are open.”

“Open them more.”

Jungkook huffs, and Jimin exasperatedly lifts a hand to Jungkook's face and pulls the most swollen part of his brow bone up with his index finger, and uses his thumb to push his bulging cheek down.

Ow,” Jungkook hisses quietly, but stops himself from flinching backwards.

“Stay,” Jimin tells him, and shines the white flashlight into his eye, one of those hardcore doctor's lights that burn your retina to a crisp. Jimin gets his face close, watching Jungkook's pupil intently as it shrinks, then takes the light away to watch it dilate again. Then he does it with the other eye, fingers jabbing again at the swollen skin around it.

“Ow,” Jungkook grunts again, and Jimin just rolls his eyes.

“Wuss.”

Sitting on the kitchen table with his legs hanging off the edge, Jungkook swings out a foot to kick him, but Jimin takes a quick step back, avoiding it.

“Head's good,” Jimin tells Yoongi, who's off to the side reading a book on the couch.

“Sweet,” Yoongi says back without looking up.

“Knee's shit.”

“Figured.”

“And, uh, everything else is...” he begins, and purses his lips as he regards Jungkook. “Subpar.”

“Yup,” Yoongi chuckles.

Jimin grins that signature grin of his, and claps Jungkook on the shoulder. “You'll heal.”

Jungkook smiles in response. “That's generally how it goes.”

“Just don't get hurt too soon.”

“Also generally how it goes,” Yoongi butts in from the couch.

“Yeah, thanks, Min.” Jimin snickers, and begins tossing his tools into his black backpack. He doesn't have anything too fancy or technical, but it's more than the average back-alley doctor might have. He often depends on his friend Seokjin to get ahold of these things for him, the medical equipment you can't simply buy in stores.

Jungkook's met Seokjin a couple times. He'll never admit it, but the guy kind of scared him. Big and tall and low profile, illegal in everything he does. It's funny, too, because that might make him almost exactly like Jungkook. Still, despite what Jimin insists, Jungkook will never believe he's a nice person. No way.

“So,” Jimin begins, and tosses his backpack into the corner of the room. He holds out his arm and Jungkook grabs onto it, the big muscle of the guy's bicep that he just can't help but sometimes compare himself to, and carefully steps off the table. “Haven't seen you lose in a while, man. Yoongi tells me it's the knee, but you know what I think?”

“What's that, Park?” Jungkook says absentmindedly, half of him already knowing what Jimin's going to say.

“Think it's 'cause of that fucking babe everyone tells me was in the ring.”

Jungkook barks out a laugh. “I think babe might be going a bit too far.”

“No way. Babe's exactly right,” Yoongi says, placing his book on the coffee table and taking his feet off the couch to allow them room to sit. “Like one of those fucking singer-actor-dancer-comedian-pornstar-whatever-the-fucks. Face like that could be making total bank if he wanted.”

“Makes you wonder what he's doing in these fuckass circumstances, then,” Jimin says. He helps Jungkook onto the small, single-seat couch and joins Yoongi on the big one.

“Same shit we're doing,” Jungkook mutters, and leans forward to grab the remote off the old coffee table.

“Which is?”

“Fuck if I know.”

“You always get so emo after a loss.” Yoongi rolls his eyes. “You're not thirteen anymore. Grow up.”

“Trying my best, man.” He turns on the TV, flicking through the channels.

“Football, football,” Jimin quickly says.

“No. News.” Yoongi nods at the remote in Jungkook's hand. “Channel seven. Check.”

After fights, Yoongi's pretty careful about keeping track of the headlines. Just for a week or two. Bare knuckle boxing is illegal. Going back to the gym for practice once Jungkook's feeling better only to find the place had been found out would be putting a lot on the line.

“So fucking on edge, Min.” Jimin rolls his eyes, and then tucks his feet up next to himself and leans against Yoongi.

“It's called being careful, kid,” Yoongi mutters, and flicks his eyes over the news ticker scrolling over the bottom of the screen. Jungkook looks too. It's a big city they live in, a lot going on behind the screeching cars and breaking bottles, and they're just part of the background noise. But they're still involved, nonetheless. It's good to be informed.

“Hey, Kook,” Jimin says, slinging his arm over Yoongi's shoulder and tucking him against his body.

“Yeah?”

“Tell me more.”

He hums. “About?”

“You know. About that babe.”

Chuckling, Jungkook says, “Wish I could. Not much to say, though. Can't remember jack.”

That's a filthy fucking lie.

Because there's not a single thing he can forget.

Kim Taehyung, Kim Taehyung, Kim Taehyung, a mantra stuck in his mind, a prayer, a curse.

Jungkook remembers the way he moved, his long legs graceful like you couldn't believe. People don't move like that, angels move like that. He was holy in the worst fucking way. Pure, not white-pure but red-pure.

“Come on, kid. One thing,” Jimin insists. “I hear so much about the boxer. Kim Taehyung, that fright of a fighter. But I wanna hear about the man.”

Jungkook scoffs, tongue poking at the inside of his cheek as he rolls his eyes.

“You were in the ring with him. You had to have learned something. So tell me. God, I need to know. All right?”

“Jesus Christ, Park,” Yoongi grunts, eyes stuck on the screen. “Guy's not a god.”

“Maybe. But he's something, that's for fucking sure.”

“Something crazy, maybe,” Yoongi says. “Something wild, maybe. I wasn't close enough, I couldn't see his eyes.”

“Kook.” Jimin looks at him, and gives him a fake pout. “'Cause, I mean—you saw his eyes. Right? So one thing. Something. Anything.”

Jungkook chuckles. “He's a normal guy, just like the rest of us.”

“Whatever, people talk about him, okay?”

Yoongi says, “People talk about Jeon here, too.”

“Yeah, but I know him. He's not a legend in my eyes. He's my little baby Kookie.” Jimin reaches across the space between the couches and pinches Jungkook's cheek, a hand which Jungkook indignantly swats away. “Just tell me. Tell me about this legend, this fucking brutal, living god.”

“Fuck.” Jungkook sighs, and gestures lazily with his hand for Jimin to go on. “What do you wanna hear?”

Jimin's eyes light up. He's always had a passion for the atypical, the extraordinary, everything that's out of the way and distorted. That must be part of the reason for his career choice, too. Back-alley doctors deal with the people that get broken by their decisions and have nowhere to turn, the estranged ones. As a doctor, Jimin gets real close. Knows those people to their very bones, the sounds they make when they crack. Knows their blood, the cold force as it pumps through their veins. Putting bodies back together in the exact opposite way Jungkook takes them apart. It's kind of funny how their knowledge of the gruesome is almost scientifically balanced.

Jimin has a fascination. Maybe Jungkook does too.

Because Kim Taehyung had brown eyes, with a blasé joy striking across them as his fists threatened to push Jungkook's eyeballs straight through to the back of his head.

And now Jungkook wants to have sex with him.

Whoops.

He'll admit it. That doesn't mean he doesn't hate it. The carnal desire he'd felt when Taehyung struck a blow to his collarbone, when he'd looked him in the eye and made sure to smirk before he swung a tactful foot around the back to get his knee, to trip him, bring him down.

Wanting someone to fuck you, wanting someone to own you, just wanting in itself is pure, is raw, is real. The picture-perfect human script. Jungkook hates how the feeling lingers. That want for Kim Taehyung with his brown eyes, his pretty face, his long legs and his hellish sneer.

“Tell me about his scars,” Jimin says animatedly. “Did you see any?”

“It was dark, man. I could barely see my own hands.”

In truth, Kim Taehyung had a scar right above his brow bone, not at all an uncommon place. Porcelain and clean, thick like the exposed bone of a knuckle might leave, as though his opponent had torn the skin of his fists while tossing punch after punch. Jungkook wonders if Taehyung won that fight, the one in which he got that scar.

“How about injuries? Anything weird? Come on, dude, give me something.”

“Black eye, I guess. Nothing too weird.”

Jimin groans. “You're so fucking lame.”

“Let the kid live.” Yoongi laughs.

“Whatever. Was he muscular? I've always heard he was skinny, like a fucking stick. No way, right? He beat you. There's no way. He's gotta be a giant, right?”

“Nah. Pretty normal. A bit on the skinny side, I dunno.”

Of course Jungkook remembers that too. Kim Taehyung's body had been something lovely to look at in motion, the sort of body Jungkook wants ramming into his full speed like a fucking derailed train. Hardcore and homicidal, the way all good sex is.

Anything else?”

“Ugh. Small cut on his lip, I guess.”

“Which?”

“Bottom.”

“Right?”

“Left.”

Yoongi chuckles, and raises an eyebrow. “Look at this sleuth.”

Jungkook shrugs. “I just notice things.”

“Not enough, clearly,” Jimin huffs, and Yoongi laughs reaches up to ruffle his hair before he nestles his weight further against Jimin's body.

But Taehyung's lips. Jungkook hates that he wonders how the bastard kisses. How his pupils might be blown from arousal instead of that burning, halfway-sexual need to maim and mutilate.

“What is it with you and failures?” Yoongi muses to Jimin, who just smiles affectionately back at him.

“Gonna talk shit, 'cause you've got one right fucking here,” Jungkook grunts, gesturing to himself and kicking his feet up onto the coffee table.

“Hey, hey, watch it, that's nasty,” Yoongi complains.

“I hurt my knee, I gotta keep it straight.”

Jimin cuts in, “Actually, you shouldn't let it get too stiff—”

“Did I fucking ask you?”

“Do you think I give a shit? I'm your doctor, kid. You're gonna listen to what I say.”

Jungkook rolls his eyes, and leaves his feet on the table, until Yoongi reaches over and starts tickling the bottoms of his feet. Then Jungkook's giggling, frantically pulling his feet back towards his body.

“My house,” Yoongi mutters, and relaxes back beneath the crook of Jimin's arm, kissing him on the jaw when he's comfortable. Jimin scrunches his nose and coos at him.

“You guys are fucking gross,” Jungkook grumbles. “I'm going home.”

“You can't even walk, Jeon.” Yoongi laughs.

“I'll go home anyways. Fucking drag myself down the street to avoid your faggot shit.”

Okay, Mr. I-fucked-three-dudes-in-high-school-and-twelve-more-since-dropping-out. Okay.”

“All right—You wanna go, Coach?” Jungkook crosses his arms, jerking his chin up at Yoongi.

“I'll say it again,” Yoongi snickers, reaching over Jimin and grabbing the remote from Jungkook's hands. “You can't even walk.” Then he flicks to the sports channel.

“Aw, sweet,” Jimin murmurs, perking up.

“Sometimes I feel like you only come here for the TV,” Yoongi says.

“Mm. And to check whether Jungkook's died or not. It varies.”

“Ass.”

“Yours truly, baby,” Jimin sing-songs, winking.

Jungkook sighs again, resting his elbow on the couch's thick armrest and turning his attention to the TV. “I'm so going home.”

 


 

Hook, off the rear hand.

“Weak.” Yoongi cuffs a focus mitt against Jungkook's ear. “Go again.”

Hook off the rear hand, then palm upwards into a hammerfist, impact made off the upper forearm and the bottom of the fist.

“Hm. Better.”

“Still weak?”

“Still weak.” Yoongi bounces side to side on his feet, not actually bothering to step off the ground, just transferring weight from one foot to another. Jungkook hops from left to right in front of him, shaking out droplets of sweat from his hair with every movement. “Go again.”

So he goes again.

“Gotta work on your hammerfist. You're still wimping out 'cause of your broken finger, so stop it. Just being good at closing the distance isn't gonna do you jack.”

“Got it,” Jungkook says.

“Go again.”

Jungkook goes again.

He knows Yoongi's right. He's always been an offensive fighter by nature, but with these lingering injuries and no time to let them properly heal he has so start looking at alternatives. Bare knuckle boxing is dangerous to begin with, the fighters having no cushy gloves to protect the fists. You get a hand wrap, if you want it. Other than that, it's just you.

To close the distance means to step into the incoming punch instead of away from it. You throw your opponent off, you get hit with less force, and he hits you sooner than he'd expected. If you're lucky he might break a hand bone, and that'll end the fight right there. It's also risky, because if you can't take the punch then you're done.

Thankfully, there are very few punches Jungkook can't take.

“Go again.”

Closing the distance is Jungkook's typical tactic, and very few people can fare well against it—not with him being the bulky mass of condensed muscle that he is. He's still small enough to be agile, feather-light on his the tips of his toes.

In fact, Kim Taehyung's the only fighter he's come across that's ever been able to effectively counter him.

Kim had been quick, bullet-smart and hard to keep track of. Knew Jungkook's strategy, had probably seen it before in his years of experience. In turn, Jungkook knew his tactic, as well. He just couldn't keep track, not with his knee injured, with the room so murky, with Taehyung so bright. Alight and ionized, painful to look at for too long.

Most of the memory of the fight had been hazy to begin with, when he'd woken up two, three days afterward. It's been over two months at this point and Jungkook remembers even less, but that's okay. His mind clings to the important parts. He knows if he were to go back and redo the fight it would still end the same. Jungkook's done the math. It wasn't a misplaced punch or a reflex misstep that cost him anything. He tells himself it was because of his knee. But things are never what you tell yourself they are. In reality, he lost because he lost and that's just how it goes.

You win some, you lose some. That's just how it goes.

“Go again.”

Jungkook throws another punch, wincing when his still-tender ring finger feels the impact.

“You're pushing yourself.” Yoongi sighs, and Jungkook almost thinks he's going to call it quits for training today. Instead, he lazily fixes his stance and looks Jungkook firmly in the eye. “Just. Go again.”

Jungkook nods, a quick, jerky motion of the head that splatters more sweat onto the mats. He sweats a lot, if it's not obvious. Yoongi's always liked to make fun of him for it. That's how they met, actually. Bonded over Jungkook's fucking sweat, if you can believe that, with Yoongi hanging out at the gym and seeing some rawboned teenager come crawling in, who then proceeded to grab a pair of gloves and bash his fists repeatedly into a punching bag with no proper rhythm at all. And then Yoongi had taunted him about it, something rude about his sweat that neither of them can remember because Jungkook had then turned around and packed a wallop right across Yoongi's cheekbone, getting them both promptly kicked out.

But Yoongi had loved boxing, still does, and will for as long as his heart's beating. And Yoongi loves potential even more, making Jungkook a state-of-the-art, glossy little project. Plus he was only a kid, and Yoongi's got a bleeding heart no matter how hard he tries to hide it. There's gotta be something wrong if a kid has some reason or desire to be beating anything—living or not—to shit.

You might say Yoongi provided Jungkook with an outlet for frustration. Call that a good thing, a bad thing, call it whatever. Who gives a damn. It happened, it's over, and now they're here.

“Go again.”

Now they're here, and they're not going anywhere.

Jungkook was seventeen when he met Yoongi and nineteen when he first placed a foot in the ring, is twenty-five now and will probably be a hundred and gone by the time he's packing it in.

The organizers of bare knuckle boxing don't care about a fighter's age. If some dumbass kid decides he wants to be a bit suicidal, they let him have his cake and eat it too. Normally, it's spectacularly funny. Some people make bets on how many teeth the sorry bastard's gonna lose. They saw Jungkook step up and were laughing, right up until this fucking nineteen-or-twenty-or-whatever-the-fuck year old kid shattered his opponent's skull against the slave-strap force of his knuckles.

“Go again.”

“—You trying to kill the fucking guy?”

Jungkook stops short, but only because Yoongi does as well.

When training, they'll get people bothering them. Because, again, Jeon Jungkook is a big name. People get curious, but Yoongi never lets it bother them, because if people are scared of Jungkook, then they're terrified of Yoongi.

But Yoongi stops short. And Yoongi never stops short.

“Just saying,” the voice behind Jungkook says. “He seems kind of...”

And Jungkook turns around, and now it's his heart that's the one stopping short.

Kim Taehyung looks him up and down, arms crossed, leaning against the ropes of the ring that only Yoongi and Jungkook should be in at the moment.

“...Battered,” he finishes with a smirk, and uncrosses his arms to instead grip the ropes at his sides, making the old turnbuckles creak against their corner-posts. “I mean, I know it's not my business—”

“It isn't,” Jungkook spits.

“Right. I'm just worried.” Taehyung smiles with his perfect teeth, his pretty face, and Jungkook scowls back. “How's your knee, Jeon?”

“Fucking peachy.”

“Good to hear. I was worried.”

“Were you now?” Jungkook steps forward, cocking an eyebrow. “Real funny. How 'bout you watch yourself, Kim. 'Cause I can give you something to worry about. Worry real good.”

Yoongi grabs him roughly by the back of his shirt, sighing as he pulls him back.

“You watch yourself, kid, or you'll get kicked out. You know the rules.”

Only sparring allowed on the main floors. The illegal stuff stays in the basement.

“Hn.” Jungkook clicks his tongue at Taehyung, but nods. “Yeah. Right. Sorry, Coach.”

“Yeah,” Yoongi grunts, and looks over at Taehyung. “The hell do you want?”

“Ah.” He laughs a little sheepishly and scratches the back of his neck with slender fingers that Jungkook takes awful close note of. “Was actually wondering if you had some spare mitts lying around. It's cool if you don't, I can just ask someone else, you know.”

Yoongi raises an eyebrow. “That's it?”

“That's it.”

“Bull,” Jungkook scoffs.

“Watch it,” Yoongi warns again, and elbows him in the side along the massive bruise he'd gotten a few weeks ago that's only just begun to yellow. He almost doubles over in pain, but he has pride, so he just grits his teeth and stands straighter, with his shoulder blades tensed and pulled back. To Taehyung, Yoongi goes on, “Use these. We've got spares at home. Gotta move on to sparring anyways.”

Then he hands his mitts to Taehyung.

“Wh—Yoongi—” Jungkook hisses, baffled. But Yoongi just shoots him a glare, so he shuts up.

“Ah, jeez.” Taehyung twirls the mitts in his hands. “Thanks so much, man, really, we're just so unprepared, you know? Fucking Mondays or Wednesdays or whatever the fuck it is today.”

Yoongi chuckles. “New at this gym?”

“Yup. Coach and I thought we'd try something different.”

“Mm. It's a good gym. Good choice.”

“Yeah. Ton of good fighters.” Jungkook scowls some more when Taehyung looks at him, and Taehyung just scrunches his nose and grins in response. Not exactly a genuine grin, but toothy and playful nonetheless.

“All right, well—welcome, man. I hope you like it here,” Yoongi says, and exchanges one of those cool people handshakes with Taehyung, with the quick arm movements that Jungkook's always been a little too awkward to get right on the first try. “And keep those. I don't need 'em.”

“Shit, thanks so much, uh, Min Yoongi, was it? Yeah. And, uh—” He turns to Jungkook's flat expression, and nods. “Jeon.”

“Kim.”

“See you around?”

“Hm.”

Then he's barking out a laugh, pulling the ropes out of the way and stepping off the raised platform of the ring, chuckling to himself as he heads back to the other side of the gym.

The minute he's gone, Jungkook turns to Yoongi.

“What the fuck was th—”

And Yoongi, expecting that, immediately cuffs him across the ear. He likes doing that.

“It's called respect, kid,” he snips, and then knocks the back of his hand against Jungkook's broad chest as he walks past him to the duffel bag placed next to the ropes. “Learn it sometime. Sick of your shit.”

“Sick of yours,” Jungkook mutters, and shakes out his hair.

“What was that?”

“Nothing, Coach.”

“Right.” Yoongi comes back to the middle of the ring with two pairs of gloves and two sets of headgear, hands Jungkook his before putting on his own. “We're using gloves this time around, 'cause you're being a wuss over your fucking finger.”

“Shit hurts, is why,” he grumbles indignantly, pulling on the headgear and the gloves.

“Get over it.” Yoongi readies himself, and Jungkook does too. “All right. Full sparring. All punches go. We'll start slow, build up, like always. You know the drill.”

“Yup.”

“Ready?”

“Guess.”

“Okay. Go.”

 


 

Jungkook's head is a clipped tape after that, stuttering, stuttering, stuttering back to the beginning. The scene at the boxing gym plays out in his head again and again. What he could have done better, how we could have been harsher, got his point across clearer. He's bitter about it, and even though nothing really happened, he still feels like he lost. Like Taehyung won. Which makes no sense, and Jungkook knows that it makes no sense, yet he still can't ignore it.

He's not even sure he wants to.

It's a nice image, admittedly, to have playing on repeat in the back of his mind while he works.

Kim Taehyung, hair pushed up from his face by a thick headband, sharp eyebrows exposed something heart-stopping. The planes of his forehead, angles moving down to his nose, his curved cupid's bow and lips falling below that, shadows stark under the white lights of the gym. Mildly sweaty.

A fucking nice image.

“Jeon, you done yet?”

“Pretty much,” he grunts, giving the screwdriver a final, hard twist.

“Come on out, man. Got someone asking for you.”

“Shit. One sec.” He scrapes his heels on the concrete, sliding the mechanics creeper out from beneath the car. Still lying on his back, peering over at his coworker who's fiddling with something beneath the hood up front, he asks, “Who?”

“Dunno. Some small muscular dude. Asking when you're off.”

“Ah.”

“If you've got something on the agenda, you're probably good to go. Boss said you could leave once you've checked the box sections.”

“All right.” He stands up, wincing when his knees crack, and kicks the wheeled creeper to the corner wall. “Sure you're good to do the engine?”

“Oh, yeah, I'm almost done.”

“Sweet. See you tomorrow, man.” As he walks he dusts off the knees of his dark blue jumpsuit, which he never actually wears properly - just keeping the sleeves tied around his waist and wearing only a white tank top. He says it's because it's easier to wash the car grease off the tank than the jumpsuit, but really it's mostly because he likes how his biceps look when he's sleeveless.

“Kook,” Jimin calls when he exits to the lobby of the mechanic's.

“Jiminie,” Jungkook calls back, throwing a sweater on over his work clothes. “What's up?”

“We're headed to the gym.”

He furrows his brow. “Why?” He and Yoongi had already done their training for the day, early in the morning.

“To watch the fight. It's today, man.” Jimin pulls open the glass door, holding it for Jungkook and then following him out into the parking lot. “I'm so fucking pumped, no joke. I've been waiting for this since that time you got your ass walloped by this guy way back when.”

“Kim? He's fighting already?”

Jimin shrugs, falling into step beside him along the sidewalk. The sun's lower on the horizon, and the streets are bustling. “Eh, been about two months, right? Three? I dunno. But you should probably set one up soon, too, huh?”

“Yup,” Jungkook clips, and then lets out a breath in a harsh huff. “Yoongi's been on my ass about that recently.”

“And you don't wanna?”

“Just don't feel ready.”

“Ah, kid, you're never gonna feel ready. Should know that by now.”

The wind blows and it whips Jungkook's hair, the loose sleeves of his jumpsuit left tied around his waist, the open front of his sweater.

Jimin gestures to his clothes. “Dude, zip that. You look like a hobo, fucking rust and grease all over. And you smell like car oil. Jesus, why didn't you change?”

Laughing, Jungkook shoves his hands in his loose pockets. “Sorry, seemed like I was making you wait.”

“Would've been fine with it. The hell's Kim gonna think when he sees you looking like this? Guy won't wanna talk to you.”

Jungkook clicks his tongue. “Wouldn't want him to, anyways.”

“Oh, shit, what is it? Boxer beef?” Jimin jabs him in the side. “Tell me. I'm like, the number one Kim Taehyung fan, all right?”

“Say that again and I'll slit your throat. Guy's a joke.”

“Fat fucking joke, then, considering he beat you.”

Jungkook huffs, staring ahead down the sidewalk.

“What, is it because he beat you?”

“I've lost before, Park. Nothing special.”

“Not often.”

“Yeah, well.” Jungkook breathes in, breathes out till his lungs feel empty, and breathes in again. The city smells like gasoline, but maybe it's just him. “You'll see. See him talk, see him fight, see him win. 'Cause he's gonna win. Fucker's got a face, always like he knows he's gonna win. Then you'll see.”

Jimin laughs at him, airy and light as if they're not about to go make a show of someone's blood gushing pretty onto the concrete. “And they say I'm caught up.”

 


 

So it's Thursday. Kim Taehyung's fight is on a Thursday. Nighttime, of course. Sometime around eleven, although things like these are never on the dot. Around Jimin, Jungkook had acted like he'd forgot. It goes without saying, though, that he didn't. Never could.

Strictly speaking, that's impossible. You can't just forget about someone like Kim Taehyung.

Jungkook's fascinated with him, like Jimin had said. A god. A living, breathing god, whom you can still make bleed if you want it bad enough, whose heart you can still stop if you need it bad enough.

“I just want something to do with him,” Jimin's telling Yoongi. Jungkook and Jimin had met up with him at the gym and now they're walking down the narrow stairwell with Jimin's voice, too bright for these circumstances, bouncing off the chilled cement. “Sometimes I wonder, you know? People like him, is their blood any thicker? Are their bones any stronger? Like, man, what do you think he smells like? All those wins beneath his belt, bet he smells like heaven. Fucking Bounce dryer sheets and blood—”

“Shut the fuck up, Jimin.” Yoongi sighs. “You're gonna get hit, talking stupid like that. I can't lug your body up these stairs if you do, I'm a boxer, not a weight lifter. Gonna leave your sorry ass down there.”

“Jungkook can carry me.”

“Jungkook won't carry you.”

“Jungkookie?” Jimin turns to him hopefully, flashes his pretty teeth.

“Yup,” Jungkook grunts. “Your ass is getting left behind.”

“Ah, jeez.” Jimin shakes his head. “I need better friends.”

The basement is crowded, again. A ball of cliff-edge danger whirring through these bodies, between the desperate fingertips that twitch and curl into fists. Nights like these, everyone's just dying to bleed. But only two people really get the opportunity.

Moments caught in the minutes. Something's always wrong but people never care enough to mention it.

“You want a beer?” Yoongi will say.

They'll all say yes.

And he'll run upstairs, to the fridge at the back of the gym that the owners are nice enough, are trusting enough—of Yoongi, at least—to allow him to use. Then he'll stay up there a bit and breathe before he comes back down with his hand clasped around the sweating necks of a few bottles.

“Drink up.”

Jungkook holds his drink tight, like he's choking it. Glass down here is dangerous, but nobody gives a shit. There are piles of shards always kicked into the corners, the fat ends of bottlenecks sometimes caked with dried blood. But nobody gives a shit. A bottle smashed on the skull isn't even gonna be the worst injury. Won't even make top five.

“Okay, okay,” Jimin's saying to a group of strangers he just met, ever the amicable type. “Okay. Who's his coach? How about that? Does anyone know?”

“Ah, some Jung guy,” a man says, big and tall and wearing some heavy metal band shirt that Jungkook probably listened to in high school. You know the type. “And no one really knows him, either. Keeps on the down-low.”

“Always with the fucking down-low,” Jimin huffs. And really, isn't he one to talk. Everyone has heard of the infamous Doctor Park, but very few know of the Jimin portion of that name. They picture an aged, looming figure with a surgical mask, like you see in those horror flicks, fingernails caked with blood. Not that Jimin never has blood on his hands, but that's mostly because he's too poor to buy good soap, or too lazy to wash his hands very well to begin with. When people hear of Doctor Park, they never picture a five foot something twenty-seven year old cuddly kid with an infectious laugh and an occasional flashbang temper. They don't know Jimin, and they'll probably never know Jimin. There are a lot of Parks in this city.

“Anyone else? Does he come here with people? Like, I'm talking—who do I talk to to get to talk to him?” Jimin really has no shame.

He's got a new obsession each month, it seems. A new fighter for him to wonder about, to want to take apart and get to know, as he says. Jungkook finds it creepy, like he's some damn serial killer with a heart of gold. When he tells Jimin that, the guy just laughs in response and says he's just curious.

“What a fucking creep,” Yoongi mutters to Jungkook. They're both standing off to the side, leaning on the square pillar in the corner of the room, half-involved in the circle of Jimin's conversation but staying relatively secluded in case the guy says something really weird.

“Ugh.” Jungkook sips his beer, wishing it were colder. “We should be used to it by now.”

“Should we? Kid's gonna spout some of that pervert shit like wanting to feel how hard Kim's muscle is or something, and the guys'll be on him like a pack of hounds. You think I'm fucking dealing with that?”

Jungkook chuckles. “Saddest part is you'd probably fight 'em till your heart stopped.”

“Then we'd both be dead, Jimin and I. What a romance. Shame the spotlight won't even be on us when we bite the big one.”

“Hey, you'll get the news headlines.”

“Whoop-dee-doo.” Yoongi swirls his beer by the neck before knocking back the last of it, tossing the bottle in a nearby trashcan with a hollow, metallic clank. “Maybe a fancy fucking funeral, too. Get all the family I totally have to show up, cry about me and my lover I got buried with.”

“Aw, man, I'd show up to your funeral. No sweat.”

“Bet you'd piss on my grave.”

“Please, I'd do so much worse.” Jungkook rolls his eyes. Chugs the rest of his drink in one go and tosses the empty bottle into the can. “Probably dig up your precious Jiminie and fuck his corpse, yeah? Get back at you for all those cheap shots during training.”

Yoongi howls with laughter, and it's not even the dry kind. “I'd drag you to hell, kid.”

“And I'd love you for it.”

“Okay, okay,” Jimin's saying to the group. “Where does he train?”

“Ah, shit. People see him sometimes over at that boxing gym on the south end, the one with a few busted punching bags lying in the corner, you know?”

The few men standing around nod and mumble in agreement.

And Jimin asks some more questions.

Jungkook's pretending not to listen, but he is, attentively. He wants to know, too. Who wouldn't?

“What a creep,” Yoongi grunts again and shoves his hands into his sweater pockets, letting his head fall back against the sturdy side of the pillar.

“Can't be that bad, though. It's how you two met, right?” Jungkook pokes Yoongi in the stomach, grinning when he bats his hand away. “The legendary Min Yoongi, you remember? Always after the legends, that Jimin.”

“Yup. I was just one of his obsessions.”

“Miracle he got you to stick around.”

“I think it's 'cause I was the only one he actually had the balls to go up and talk to.” Yoongi gestures to himself. “I mean, to be fair. I'm kinda small.”

“Pack a mean punch, though.”

“Psh. Thanks, kid.”

Then they're cut off by some yelling, louder than the already-present calamity.

“All right, all right, all right!”

Jimin scrambles off the wall, jumping up next to Yoongi and clinging to the sleeve of his arm, flashing his eyes around the dark room.

“Is it starting? Or is this, like, some other weird ritual shit you boxers get up to?”

“Shut up.” Yoongi gently clouts the back of his head. “Let people know you never come to these, you're fresh meat. Dead on the curb come morning.”

“Jesus,” Jimin mutters.

“Just the truth, babe.”

“Jesus.”

Jungkook's tuning them out. Focusing. He never comes to these fights. Frankly, they don't interest him. It's not fun watching the hot spatter of blood when you've been the foundation of it yourself. When you know what the crunch of a cheekbone feels like beneath your knuckles, it's never as good to just be hearing the bone breaking. It's like watching a porno. It's not as satisfying as it could be, and you're always wishing it was you in the action, getting pounded to absolute hell as you moan and scream for more.

So it's not the fight that interest Jungkook, specifically, but it's already been established what is.

“All right, all right,” the ref says, over and over. Spits phrase after phrase, getting steadily drowned out by the commotion.

“Jesus,” Jimin's saying again, and he's stepping to the side a bit, pressing against Jungkook as the crowd shifts. “Is that him? Jesus.”

“Not Jesus. Taehyung,” Jungkook jokes dryly. His voice sounds calm but that's only because he's good at faking calm. On the inside he's rupturing at the seams.

Taehyung's pushing through the crowd.

He's here.

He's wearing that grey hoodie.

That grey hoodie that Jungkook wants so badly to fucking rip off his body so he can run his tongue over the carved edges of his hard stomach. To keep licking down and down until he's between his legs with the suffused heat of the guy's erection right in front of his face, to snap the elastic waistband with his teeth, pull it down and get the guy's cock down his throat till they're both sickeningly satisfied.

Jimin's right.

Jesus.

Jungkook loves sex. Jungkook loves violence. They're pretty much the same thing.

As Taehyung walks by—hood over his face, figure swathed by that massive sweater—Jungkook's mind is running a mile a minute but his feet are straight planted. As Taehyung lets his eyes flicker up it only gets worse, faster and slower simultaneously because the world can never make up its goddamn mind. As Taehyung meets Jungkook's stone cold gaze, his eyes flash in recognition.

And he gives Jungkook that pretty boy smile he's so famed for.

Maybe the world stops spinning, for this single moment. The most pathetic part is Jungkook still can't keep up.

The moment ends before it even starts, but maybe Jungkook should be grateful.

“Kook?” Yoongi asks, slicing the static.

“Yep?”

“You good?”

“Peachy.” He grins.

Jimin wiggles his eyebrows. “A legend, I'm telling you.” He chuckles, leaning against Yoongi's frame and Yoongi subtly does the same thing back, both supporting each other. “Downright legend.”

Jungkook wants to deny it. There's a lot Jungkook wants to deny.

But Kim Taehyung is good. Maybe better than Jungkook on a good day. His punch is a fine punch—not perfect by any means, but that's to be expected. A potent sort of punch, one Jungkook had felt across his face like a shot of something hard down his throat.

The ref says his introductions, and Jungkook couldn't give two shits. It's always the same, it's always just fat hype choking the air.

Taehyung's taking his hoodie off, and Jungkook's watching. Again. He's wearing baggy black shorts and a loose-fitted tank top, again. If Jungkook looks hard enough he's pretty sure he can see the barest outlines of Taehyung's nipples, cold beneath the fabric. Which, he admits, is a little pervy of him, as Yoongi might say. But who gives a shit. It's Kim Taehyung. Everyone's gonna get a bit pervy looking at a guy like that.

“All right, all right,” the ref's still saying.

All right,” Jimin mocks quietly. “Get on with it, Christ.”

“You ready? Good. You ready? Yeah?” The ref begins to take slow steps backwards, into the ring of people surrounding the fight. “We ready?”

“Jesus, come on,” Taehyung gripes loudly, chuckling and knocking his head back, shaking out his hair. “Yeah, we're fucking ready! Get to it!”

The crowd laughs, cheers, gets louder. Jungkook finds himself smiling, too. Like it or not, the guy's one of those people. Crowd-pleaser if ever there was one.

“All right,” the ref grunts, a little offended. “Whatever. Uh... Yeah! Let's fight!”

“Shit, finally,” Jimin says, and stands a little higher on his toes.

The minute it's called, Taehyung's smile drops. His expression goes cold, competitive, killer. A grand focus comes over his eyes, a steely sheen over those brown irises that Jungkook can't exactly see in the dim light, but can still envision perfectly.

Jungkook remembers seeing that look, right before he'd blacked out. It was a nice look.

The first swing of the fight is a miss, and no one's surprised, because Taehyung dodges quicker than lightning.

The first solid contact makes everyone flinch, whistle under their breath, because Taehyung's a real hard hitter, no lie about it.

The first trickle of blood makes everyone lean in further, itching to get close while still knowing they have to stay out of the way of the fighters. But with things like these proximity is so tantalizing.

Taehyung's eyes stay on his opponent, but Jungkook's secretly wishing in the back of that twisted head of his that the guy would glance over and catch his eye, look at him with his lascivious stab wound of a gaze—carnal like sex, like murder. But he's busy, busy winning, and Jungkook finds himself completely satisfied just watching that, too.

Not that Taehyung's not getting hit, because he is. Just far more sporadically, a few isolated knocks when his opponent gets lucky while he in turn shocks a stream of hits, well-placed and careful. A few on those busted cheeks, some against the that heaving windpipe, a bit more on the temple where blood wells from the loveliest.

“Fucking hell,” Jungkook hears Jimin say over the bumbling commotion around them.

“You can call this shit godly?” Yoongi goads incredulously.

“You don't?” Jimin asks back, and Yoongi just shakes his head. “When's it done?”

Yoongi sighs. “Whenever they're done.”

The fighters' feet scuff against the floor as they dance, the opponent moving desperately. Taehyung's getting cocky and damn if there isn't anything sexier, the way he punches again, smirking. That fucking pretty boy and all his nerve. Fighting is honest, and maybe that's just one reason why Jungkook loves it. Taehyung likes to hit, and he doesn't bother to hide it. If you want it dirty you've gotta tell the truth.

Jungkook's never wanted anything so bad in his life. A big reason he never watches fights is because he always finds himself comparing. Watching a bad move and thinking how much better he could have done it, how he would have stepped to the left instead of the right, how he would have taken that opportunity, made that hit count.

It's not even his fight, but the adrenaline's building nonetheless.

These things can drag on for a long time, but Taehyung cuts this one short. A clean cut of his knuckles, and his opponent's tumbling onto his knees. The ref butts in, but the guy waves him off, claiming he can take more of this. He gets hit again, because Taehyung's merciless. Another and another and eventually they're really seeing the man you hear of in the rumours.

Kim Taehyung, who'll bash your skull in if you stand still for a second too long.

Jungkook thinks of the gym that one day. Thinks of Taehyung's clean teeth as he had smiled, friendly and a little fumbling, a little cute in that way Jungkook's always liked his men to be. He juxtaposes that scene to this, all this blood and brutality, and almost laughs at how nicely those images look placed next to each other.

Dorky little babe and his cutthroat counterpart. Oh, boy.

It's over too soon.

“Break, break!” someone in the crowd's yelling. “Break!”

Taehyung's knee cracks against the opponent's collarbone before the guy manages to wrest himself free from his cruel grip. He hobbles. Taehyung steps back.

“You're done, man! Fucking done!” someone else yells.

He is. The ref rushes in and catches the guy right before he topples, and that's that. Not like it's a surprise or anything. Everyone knew who would win. It's just nice to watch it go down, to watch it happen.

The ref yells the winner but it can't be heard. People are rushing in, swarming and chaotic, congratulating their shining victor. No glory's left for the loser, who just bleeds and wobbles on the concrete. Jungkook actually wants to rush in himself, to clap Taehyung on the back like an old friend, feeling the tense, rippling muscle built there, to then pull him into his arms and kiss his plump lips and suck the blood welling up in his mouth. Wants to taste the victory as if it were his own.

He doesn't, of course, because he values his pride.

But he is looking, sure. So he catches it, Taehyung's heady glance.

Because even though they have nothing to do with each other, Taehyung takes his victory and uses it to look Jungkook straight in the eyes. Jungkook looks firmly back, not leaning off the wall and not uncrossing his arms, just quirking an eyebrow. Not even bothering to fight the smirk he feels playing at his lips.

Taehyung's eyes glimmer.

Enjoy the show?

You know I did, baby.

 



“How's that finger been?”

“Fine. Better.”

“Wrist?”

Jungkook shrugs.

“Knee?”

“Shit.”

“Still?”

“Still.”

Yoongi chuckles, shoving his gloves into his duffel bag. “Liar.”

“Dude, I'm serious,” Jungkook insists and pulls the sweaty headgear off his head, shakes out his hair. “It hurts going up the stairs and stuff.”

“And stuff,” Yoongi scoffs. “You just don't wanna fight, kid. Think I'm stupid?”

Know you're stupid.” Laughing, Jungkook quickly hops out of the way of Yoongi's light-hearted swing. “And I do want to fight. You know that. I love fighting. I just don't wanna risk it. Hasn't even been three months, Coach. You want me to fucking die?”

“Aw, jeez. I know that. Just worried about you, kid. Worried about money.”

Jungkook shakes his head. “Always with the fucking money, isn't it?”

“Isn't it ever.” Yoongi runs a bruised hand through his hair, pushing it to the side. “Jimin, too. Jimin's got it tough with the money.”

“Worry about him, too?”

“Mm. Don't you?”

“Well.” Jungkook grabs the towel he'd left on one of the nearby gym racks and wipes at his heated face, flushed from exertion. “A bit. But Jimin's always got his ways. Always got that extra cash flowing from somewhere.”

“Creepy kid, I'm telling you. Good at keeping a foot in the door when it comes to the illegal shit. Meddles with too much, if you ask me.” Yoongi nudges Jungkook, then picks up his duffel bag. “Just like you. Illegal.”

“Says you.” Jungkook rolls his eyes. “Damn professional on all that illegal shit. Bet I'd be a saint if I hadn't met you.”

“Don't kid yourself. You'd probably be in jail, just like the rest of those angsty little teens with fuckslut parents.”

“Jesus, Coach.” Jungkook laughs. “Such a downer, I swear.”

“You know me. It's my purpose.” Yoongi adjusts the strap over his shoulder, jostling the massive bag to the side. He nods at Jungkook. “You gonna head home?”

“Wash up, first. And then probably after.”

“Yeah, that's good. You smell fucking rancid like always, so.”

“Oh, shut up.”

“Just telling the truth.” He begins stepping back toward the door of the gym. “I've gotta get going. But catch a taxi or something, yeah? Don't walk, man, it's mad cold out, raining like hell.”

“All right.” Jungkook winks, loosely towelling the sweat from his hair. “Get going, then. Can't keep the sweetheart waiting, hey?”

“Ugh, don't call him that.” Yoongi scowls, and Jungkook sticks his tongue out childishly.

Have fun, Coach.”

“Go die, Jeon,” Yoongi yells back and pushes the door open, leaving Jungkook alone in the scalding white lights of the empty boxing gym.

It's sometime past midnight. Maybe one, maybe two, maybe three, four, five. Training sessions with Yoongi always end up being longer than they feel.

Jungkook breathes, letting his exerted lungs calm down and letting air come in more natural inhales. A few scuffs of feet can be heard from the floor above, where the majority of the punching bags are kept, as a few people brush up on their solo skills. But that's about it as far as other presence goes. It's always so peaceful during times like these, with just the occasional nighttime boxers. Jungkook heads to the heavy doors of the locker rooms at the back of the gym.

The showers are never what you could exactly call warm, but they're not cold, either. Just the slightest bit uncomfortable, with the stream either too strong or too weak depending on the day. Jungkook doesn't mind. He just stands there, staying beneath the water for a bit too long like always, humming some stupid tune with his eyes closed, fingers running through his hair because he's not gonna have to worry about the water bill when he takes long showers here.

Normally he has all the time in the world, with the gym being as empty as it is.

But, over at the front of the locker room, the door creaks.

Jungkook can't see from back here, with the tiled wall between the showering and changing areas blocking his view, but he hears steady footsteps against the floor, the thump as someone drops their stuff onto a bench, the clang as they open a locker.

Not that Jungkook's a prude or anything, but he'd rather not have someone catching him in a filthy locker room humming some old cartoon show theme while buck ass naked.

Quickly, he shuts off the shower before anyone can join him and grabs the towel he'd left on the hook, drying his hair off hurriedly and tying it around his waist with water droplets still left clinging to his body. Then he leaves the wet floor of the shower area, stepping over the section of raised tiling. He's hoping whoever's here at least has the common courtesy to ignore him. Frankly, Jungkook's not the most sociable person. Especially not at whatever-the-fuck-past-midnight, and he doesn't feel like having to shoot death glares at someone trying to make friendly conversation.

He's thinking all this, water dripping from his wet hair down the sides of his face, when he walks in between the rows of lockers.

And Kim Taehyung's there, casually peeling off his sweaty shirt.

And Jungkook's heart casually stops.

Taehyung freezes, his hands clasped around the hem of his tank, halfway pulled off so it's bunched around his chest, the fabric hooked over his elbows and his stomach exposed. It's absolutely killing Jungkook, this struggle to keep his eyes up.

Looking at his face instead, Jungkook sees the lingering wounds from his fight. It's only been a few days, and a few days on gashes and bruises like that are next to nothing. The guy's gonna be feeling these for weeks. He looks exhausted, but while the wounds are still open they aren't raw, and the swelling's gone down. There weren't many to begin with, because he'd held his own substantially. And he's still ever a staggering sight.

Taehyung stares at him, bloodshot eyes going wide for a fraction of a second.

“Jeon.” He nods, stuck like a deer in the headlights. Jungkook's honestly no better.

“Kim,” he clips back.

“Uh. You... have a good day? Or, I guess. Night?” Taehyung smiles a little tightly.

“Peachy,” Jungkook says in a flat tone.

Nodding again, Taehyung blinks, before he quickly finishes with pulling his shirt off. Breaking the weird spell. He faces away to toss his shirt into the bag he's got in his locker, his bare back turned to Jungkook. And—fucking hell. Taehyung's got a broad back, muscle rippling beneath the sharp shoulder blades when he lifts his arms, fiddling with his things.

Again, Jungkook wants.

“You have a spare towel?” Taehyung asks without turning around, and Jungkook takes that opportunity to stand looking at the expanse of the guy's tan skin, mildly bruised in a few locations, for just an indulgent second longer.

“Not to share,” Jungkook says and turns around to face his locker before he's caught staring, playing with the lock until his blank mind finally recalls the combination.

“What if I asked nicely?”

“Depends how nicely.” Jungkook pulls open the creaky locker door, plucks out an extra towel from his bag and begins running it through his wet hair. And sure, he has a few more. He always does; he's prepared.

Taehyung hums low, and Jungkook's eyes flick to the side to see Taehyung giving him a curious squint.

“How nice do you want it?”

A real arrogant jerk, this guy.

“How nice can you make it?” Jungkook shoots back. Two can play. The game's always more fun with more players.

Raising an eyebrow, Taehyung leans back onto the closed lockers next to him, his sharp elbow holding himself against the metal. There's a long bench between him and Jungkook, cutting through the row of lockers, and they're a substantial distance apart. Still, Jungkook feels Taehyung's presence hot and heavy—as if they're touching, wet skin on sweaty skin.

“You really want me to answer that?”

Jungkook doesn't know what to say, but he feels like Taehyung's packed full of clever little phrases just meant to make him tick. Always something up his sleeve.

Instead of speaking, Jungkook reaches into his bag and grabs a clean towel, one of the few he keeps folded at the bottom. Throws it at Taehyung. It's mostly to solve this problem he's faced with of having Taehyung entirely fucking topless before him, only a pair of athletic shorts caught far too low on his hipbones that Jungkook's thought about licking across one or two or five times since their fight.

“You're welcome.”

When the towel thumps against his chest, Taehyung hurriedly grabs the thing by the corner before it falls and shakes it out before he drapes it around his neck.

“Thanks,” he says, not sounding like he means it too much, laughing maybe at Jungkook or maybe at the situation.

“I'll need that back,” Jungkook says.

“You'll get it back. No worries.” Taehyung gives him a mock salute as he walks past toward the showers. Closer by, Jungkook notices the cut above his lip, skin rough with stubble like he hasn't shaved in a few days. “You come here nights, right?”

“Not all nights.”

“Well still, you'll see me someday. I come here often now too.”

“Hm. That's good.” Jungkook looks down at the loose tuck of the towel around his waist and hooks his finger beneath the fabric, waiting for Taehyung to leave.

And he's almost gone. But just before he turns the corner at the end of the lockers, Taehyung whirls back around and leans against the metal sidings.

Jungkook stares back and raises his eyebrows. Taehyung does too, raises those perfect eyebrows of his, framing the jut of his brow bone, dark edges stark against his dewy skin.

“I feel like you're nicer than they say,” Taehyung says, still holding his weight against the lockers. “Just a feeling.”

“It's just a towel, Kim. Don't think too much of it.”

“All right, all right. Thanks again, though. And watch the rain when you leave, man. It's cold out.”

That simply, Taehyung turns the corner. Jungkook's left with his finger and thumb hooked between his towel and his wet skin, standing there and feeling kind of idiotic, not even entirely sure why. Taehyung's just one of those people. Dizzying to stand near for too long.

One of the showers turns on, the hollow spray echoing around the tiled walls. Jungkook pulls off the towel from his hips and fumbles for his clothes, wanting to leave before Taehyung gets out of the shower, before he can return the towel just yet.

He doesn't get a taxi like Yoongi had suggested, but the walk home isn't that bad. His hair gets wet all over again which is really no big deal at all. There are other things on his mind. He walks slowly along the night street, feet splashing in the puddles with his hands shoved in his pockets, rain dripping in rivulets from his hair.

And if pressed, he might admit that he spends a few guilty moments wondering how the rest of Taehyung looked beneath those damn shorts.

 


 

Jungkook gives the ratchet a good twist, hearing the satisfying scrape when metal grinds against metal.

“Not that I'm trying to push you or anything.”

“Sure, sure,” Jungkook grunts from beneath the car.

“Like, I sorta am.”

“I feel you.”

“Okay—can you just listen to me for two fucking seconds?”

Jungkook drags himself from out beneath the car, sitting up straight on the creeper.

“I'm listening,” Jungkook says condescendingly, “and I don't care.”

Yoongi rolls his eyes, leaning back into the tattered chair he keeps in the garage. “Yeah, but Ireland, man, that's where bare knuckle boxing thrives.”

“Think I don't know that?” Jungkook leans over and grabs a thin cloth lying next to his tools, wiping at the grease on his hands. “I'm not going to Ireland.”

“Fucking lame. Why?”

“Do you seriously think I can take those Irish dudes? They're fucking nine-foot-a-hundred, all right? I couldn't even take Kim, and I'm pretty sure he's shorter than me.”

“So this is about you losing to Kim?” Yoongi gives him an unimpressed stare.

“No. This is about me not wanting to die before I turn thirty. If I'm gonna bleed out on the concrete of some pathetic shit show, I'd sorta prefer it to be after I've hit the glorious three-oh. My dying wish, if you get me.”

Yoongi rolls his eyes, picking at the torn fabric of the armrest. “You're not gonna bleed out—”

“Psh. Watch me. You'd be surprised how much people fucking bleed.”

“Jesus. Such a downer.”

Jungkook goes through his tools and finds a smaller ratchet, then winks at Yoongi. “Got it from you, Coach.”

Yoongi sighs. “Just listen. There's a match this month in Ireland, and they're looking for someone good. Okay? And you're good.”

“Fine, I'm good. I know that. So what? How am I gonna get there? Fucking swim? Flights are mad expensive, you know that.”

“Shit, I dunno, kid. Down payment?”

“And if I lose? Then we're uber fucked. Fucked squared. I'm knocked to shit and down a couple grand. Whoop-whoop, raise the damn roof.”

“All right, sass master. I'm trying to think of possibility here. Since when were you the practical one?”

“Since I've gotten like, three consecutive eviction notices that I've barely scraped by on.”

“Oh, boo-hoo. We've all got it tough.”

“Yeah, you say that. Then watch me get kicked out and come crying to your place. You'd get sick of having me there, and suddenly all this'll be your problem.”

“Don't kid yourself. Your problems will never be my problems.”

“God, so mean, Coach.” Jungkook absentmindedly twirls the ratchet by the knob, the old metal clicking as it goes around.

“Okay. So no on Ireland. What then?” Yoongi pulls at the fabric of the couch and lets go of it so it slaps back down, releasing a cloud of dust. “The gym's not planning on allowing fights for a while. Guys say the cops have been picking up on watch in the area recently, mostly because all the drug crime happening at a few of the clubs around town. And they've got some fights there, too, but there's no way you're going to those. Gonna get your ass arrested.”

“Please, I won't get arrested—”

“Yeah, sure. Cell's just waiting for you, kid.”

“Okay, okay.” Jungkook huffs. “I know. And I've been wanting to fight soon, too. Hours down at work aren't the best. And also—” Jungkook clangs the ratchet on the side of the rusty car. “I'm here doing all this free work for you and Jimin. All that money, time—straight down the drain. Look at how fucking nice I am.”

Yoongi laughs. “I'd pay you if I had the cash.”

“Wouldn't take it if you did.” Jungkook shrugs. “It's not that bad, anyways. I like doing this stuff.”

“Hm. Jimin says thanks, by the way. Couldn't be here today, busy with some friends he said. But still.”

“I know. Guy always says thanks.” Jungkook twirls the tool some more. “What friends?”

“Dunno. Some Namjoon guy, I think.”

“Who's that?”

“You don't know him. Friend of Seokjin's.”

“Ah.”

“You should really get out more. He's nice.”

“Mm-hm.”

“Need more friends, kid.” Yoongi laughs. “Jimin's always making new friends, I swear. Recently met some Jung guy, too. Can't remember his first name, but apparently he's a coach as well. Maybe you could train with him. Get a different perspective.”

“Sure, sure.” Jungkook looks up and can't help but smile upon seeing Yoongi's deadpan expression. Rolls his eyes. “Jimin said you guys are planning on riding this out to the cliffside when it's fixed up.”

“Don't change the subject.”

“Too late. It doesn't matter anyway. You know me, Coach. I lay low.”

“Too low.”

“Whatever. Friends are overrated. I wanna hear about your plans. Cliffside?”

Yoongi sighs, but relents. Jungkook's always been stubborn. “That's the plan, anyways. I don't fucking know. Kid's probably gonna make me drive, too, 'cause he's a lazy piece of shit.”

“Still,” Jungkook says. “It's romantic. No?”

“Gross,” Yoongi grunts, and reclines farther into the chair. “Don't say it like that.”

Jungkook giggles. “Goddamn romance, huh? Gonna let him fuck you under the stars, Coach?”

Yoongi reaches out with his foot and kicks one of Jungkook's loose tools at him. “You're disgusting.”

He shrugs and lies back down onto the creeper, pushing himself beneath the jacked up car. “Eh. I'd honestly say Jimin's worse.”

“You're putting yourself up against the devil here.”

“Aren't we all?” Jungkook says at the underside of the car.

“Again, so emo,” Yoongi chuckles. Jungkook fixes the angled teeth of the ratchet and begins turning it again.

 


 

Jungkook goes to fight in the city. Lay low, Yoongi had told him, but at this point everyone's got to know that Jungkook's probably the last person to listen to instructions. There's just too much to do to be laying low, too much to be had.

Fights are everywhere because it's a big city, and south side, north side, people love to bleed all the same. It's not hard to find a place that allows such things, to contact the guys, to set something up. All in secret of course. Yoongi only has to think he knows everything. And it's almost too easy, how smoothly it goes. Because he's Jeon Jungkook. Everyone would fucking kill to have such a name fighting at their set-up.

So—big fight down at some shabby dive between Jeon Jungkook and someone else. He hadn't even checked the guy's name.

When he walks in, the atmosphere is chemical. Potent and impure and everything he's been expecting. A little sour if he breathes in too deeply, but that's fine.

This isn't the ring. This is just the main floor of some club along a big street, filled with too many people with too little time, all in a rush to get completely blasted. Coke in the bathroom and molly from a stranger's pocket straight onto the tongue, that kind of club. It might be odd to feel nostalgic about places like these, but it's been a while and Jungkook has very little to be sentimental about to begin with.

He has some memories from these places. Not nice memories necessarily, although that's subjective. Mostly memories of shitty people that are a bit too fun to play with. Reliving a few moments doesn't seem like a bad idea.

“Hey, sweetheart.”

And Jungkook smiles.

“Hey there.”

Fight's not for an hour or two or three or whatever. He's got time.

Not that he distinctly plans on going along with this guy, but it just sort of happens. It's hot in the club and he gets dancing, gets hotter. The dark makes it hard to see, but he's glad for it because the less real this feels the easier he can imagine the bumpy line of this guy's nose as the straighter slope of Taehyung's, can imagine his eye sockets aren't sucked in too far, can imagine his chin isn't jutting out as prominently as it is.

He feels a little guilty about it, but not enough to stop. In his mind he's dancing with Taehyung, and this entire situation isn't as regressive as it feels.

And he's not drinking because he's not a moron, but he's still lost in a decidedly different way. Not thinking right. That's why he's not too shocked when he swears he sees Taehyung's face across the room, somewhere against the corner wall that's better lit by the bathroom hallway's lights.

Jungkook just lets his eyes keep rolling over the crowd, frowning a little at the hand on his hip that gets more possessive as time goes on. It's not the right size of hand, far too small, too weak. Taehyung makes a mean fist, he remembers. His hands aren't like this, and it's putting Jungkook off a little.

The guy leans down to whisper a question into his ear, and Jungkook curls a lip and pulls away from the vile breath.

Still, he says yes.

Because yeah, he's not drinking. But he tells himself this is different.

He snorts two lines and it's probably not a good idea, but he's always hated the simplicity of good ideas.

“We're alone in here,” the guy hints. Jungkook stops fiddling with the edge of the bill against the soft line of powder, looks up at the mirrors and frowns when he realizes he can see this man's face far better in the buzzing white lights of the bathroom. Not Taehyung. Not even good looking. Jesus Christ, what the fuck is he thinking?

“It's funny how you think that means something,” Jungkook says, and chuckles before he rolls up the bill and snorts his third line.

The guy doesn't seem happy but he's probably smart enough to know not to say anything. He'd felt Jungkook's body through his clothes. All that muscle, all that power, all that fight. You don't get on the bad side of people like him if you've got at least half a brain.

“I'm kind enough to share, sweetheart.”

“Mm. And I'm kind enough to accept.”

Jungkook smiles. His teeth look yellow next to the clean alabaster of the coke, even yellower still in the grimy bathroom mirror. Everything is bright and his pupils are fucking massive and he has the weird urge to lash out, scream and laugh and punch. This stuff gets him going, and that's exactly what he needs.

Four lines might be too much, too reckless, but that's what tonight is about anyways. It's been a while and his tolerance has probably dropped. Hopefully he can still fight. Hopefully his heart doesn't smash through his ribcage before the match is even called. Hopefully.

And so there goes his fourth line.

He knocks his head back and savours it with his eyes closed, letting his sweaty hair fall away from his face. Standing up straight from being hunched over the counter, Jungkook wipes the back of his hand over his right nostril and turns to look at the guy, assessing him. Not a good face, but not totally disgusting either. With a hand gripping his chin, Jungkook generously pulls the man close and kisses him. For the road.

“Thanks, babe,” he says when he pulls back from those dry, thin lips. He bets Taehyung's are nothing like this. Full and velvety, probably. A real good pair of lips to smush against yours.

“Anytime,” the guy says back, melting in the attention, because Jungkook is beautiful like nothing you'd find in a place like this. A real lucky strike, if you believe in luck.

When he leaves the bathroom, eyes lolling yet tight at the same time, he sees Taehyung and immediately he wonders about that luck.

There's a cigarette dangling from between those wonderful lips of his and Jungkook wants to pluck the damn thing out and replace it with his mouth, suck the smoke from Taehyung's lungs so they can both get dying quicker. Then the stick's pinched between the guy's bruised fingers and the smoke is blown to the side. As his eyes lazily follow its trail, he sees Jungkook.

Taehyung's focus turns away from the girl he's talking to, catching Jungkook's gaze and holding it there. Raising an eyebrow.

You all right?

I'm fine, babe.

Jungkook nods curtly and Taehyung smile back, raises his hand in a little wave. He's leaning against the walls just outside the brightly lit hallway, just as Jungkook had thought he'd seen him earlier, that picture he'd assumed was just his imagination running wild. But Taehyung's here and real as hell, regarding Jungkook half amused, half curious, as if there's a million questions running through his mind and he can't pinpoint which one to ask first.

Can you blame him, though? Jungkook's a real piece of work. Anyone looking at him right now could see that, easy.

Maybe Taehyung's disappointed. Which would really make no sense, considering he and Jungkook have no actual correlation. Really, Jungkook wants to explain, he's not always like this. Not always the type to work his hips a bit for a knock of free blow in a public washroom. But he's also got too much pride to bother with something like that.

“Kim,” he just says, like always.

“Jeon,” Taehyung says back. And he knits his brow, regarding Jungkook's glassy, shot eyes, almost as if he finds this funny. Like he's entertained in some sick way. “Good luck tonight.”

Of course. That's why he's here.

Jungkook smiles loosely and walks away into the pulsing mass of people. Because he has something to do, something to win. Always with the damn win.

Maybe it's because he's high, but he feels good about tonight. He tends to get cocky often, but it's usually a front and only Yoongi can see through it. But there's no Yoongi tonight. This is painfully unofficial like always, but there's still money and a sugary victory on the line and that's all Jungkook cares about. He feels electricity in his blood, feels like he's gonna win.

He heads to the back, through the door past the bouncer that doesn't even glance at him, and loosely wobbles down the stairs. The music on the floor had been loud, but the noise here is a level of a different sort. Not hard on the ears by any means, but like it's hiding something sinister.

Starting soon, he hears the murmurs.

And Jungkook is so ready it hurts.

He hangs out in the back halls of the basement, away from the big room. The walls of his nostrils feel raw with each inhale, and he's fairly sure his nose will be one of the first things to start bleeding once the fight starts. Which is a little exciting, if you think about it. If you think about the red dripping onto his lips, getting licked away by his pink tongue.

Very exciting, in fact.

He's not sure how long he spends back there, just thinking, eyes closed, picturing what's coming while chewing on the inside of his lip, fighting the twisted urge to smile. It's been too long. He's still feeling the dry high when the crowd in the main room gets louder. He's not even worried. He's fought while hopped up before and won just fine. He could do it again, could probably do it a million times.

Tonight he could probably do anything.

Jungkook's walking out through the crowd, pushing people aside. This basement is smaller than the usual one at the gym, and that means people will be standing closer during the fight. That's fine. That's better than fine.

Maybe Jungkook will get some of them, too. Just for kicks.

Torn up cardboard is strewn out onto the floor, flattened boxes to catch all the blood they're gonna spill. Jungkook grins at their implication. Maybe he'll pull a Kim Taehyung tonight, spill blood everywhere like the guy's so infamous for. Yeah, maybe he'll do that. Make it look real pretty this time around, a human colour for such a human moment.

Jungkook doesn't wrap his knuckles tonight.

“Good luck,” he hears from behind him.

It's Taehyung. Taehyung's down here and Jungkook's not even surprised.

“Thanks,” Jungkook says, turning around to catch the anticipation behind Taehyung's eyes.

“Put on a show, yeah?” Maybe Taehyung's drunk. Jungkook's not surprised. “For me?”

“For me,” Jungkook corrects, and smirks. “You're free to enjoy it, too.”

“Mm. I will, babe.”

“I know you will.”

It's dark but Jungkook knows Taehyung looks so sexy it kills, just because he knows Taehyung always looks like that. And not that he fights to impress, but he feels the need to make it extra good tonight.

So the fight starts and he does just that. Makes it so damn good, like he's so skilled at doing.

It's mostly the same. The fighters get in the centre and touch fists, and it's five steps back before the ref calls go. Then they're on. His heart gets even quicker, if you can believe it, and he would be scared if he hasn't experienced worse before. All this exertion coupled with the high. An explosive heartbeat, counting down like a ticker.

Tonight is different, as he'd been feeling the entire lead-up to this. Maybe that's what changes it.

Spoiler, but there's no winner or loser tonight.

Only the people that got away and the people that didn't.

Jungkook's throwing a quick jab with his right and when he turns to follow through, he sees someone walking up from the crowd. Which is wrong. The crowd moves as a body, and anyone who strays is getting in the way. Everyone knows that.

So this figure walks forward and Jungkook's still catching up. Then from his other side, someone else emerges from the mass of people. This is so wrong. And Jungkook's still catching up.

“Hey—”

His hands are clamped around his back before he even has the chance to think, and it's wrong because his opponent's still standing right in front of him, blank worry on his face. And the bloody, beaten guy takes a step back, and Jungkook tries to step after him, but then he once again remembers the cold hands holding his wrists together.

He's hearing yelling. Not the good kind, but the lost kind. The scared kind. Words unable to be made out. The adrenaline drains from his body to be replaced with dread but he still feels baffled. He's hearing everything and nothing at the same time. It's all really just static. And Jungkook's still catching up.

He's being dragged up the stairs by a man in a bulletproof vest, exposed beneath his now-unzipped jacket. Being hauled out the front door and out into the night, another rainy one, the blue and red lights quietly glimmering off the wet pavement and vehicles. A cruel pair of hands shoving down on his shoulder, pushing him off the edge of the curb, through the car door.

And Jungkook's still catching up.

In fact, he doesn't feel like he's really got it until the side of his head is being grazed against the black edge of the police cruiser, the door then slamming shut behind him as he sways in the back seat.

Ouch.

 


 

Lay low, Yoongi had said. The guy's been a fucking square ever since he retired from boxing, but it's still probably a good idea to listen to him.

And Jungkook hadn't listened.

And now Jungkook's here.

Whoop-dee-doo.

He'd been booked and then told he'd get one call, and he knows it'll have to be Yoongi. There's no way around it. Sure, he could call Jimin, but Jimin would probably just go right to Yoongi, or he'd catch a ride from his decidedly more illegal friends that Jungkook's a little embarrassed to admit scare him, and he'd rather bear Yoongi's I told you so than be put face-to-face with people like that.

So he's waiting in the holding cell, elbows on his knees and head hanging low, exhausted. Occasionally blood will drip from his hair, getting soaked by the nice wound stretching from his forehead to temple. It's making a puddle on the floor next to the scuffs of mud and rain water from his shoes. A few of the others who got caught sit around him, the occasional one leaving for their turn to make a call or one coming in once they're finished getting booked as well.

He wonders how many people managed to get away. There are always more of them than those who actually get caught. These operations are mostly for deterrence to begin with. Get the fighters and a few from the crowd, scare the guys out of it for a while. Just hold off the crime.

He wonders if Taehyung got away. Or if he's in this same building as him, waiting to get booked, waiting to make a call just like all these other sorry fuckers.

“Jeon Jungkook,” an officer calls, opening the door.

He gets up, pushing his bloody hair out of his eyes.

“Yep. Call?”

“Bail.” She motions for him, a quick movement of the hand that seems a little irritated. He stands there blankly for a few moments, and she does it again, pressing her lips together.

“Ah—yeah. Okay, um.” A few of the surrounding men huff and glare in disdain as he steps through the door, and then he follows the officer down the hall toward the front of the police office.

“That was quick,” she comments as they walk.

“Uh, yeah. I guess.”

“Don't you think it's weird?” He knows what she means, and frowns.

“I don't know what to think.”

“Hm.” She says no more, and he carefully keeps his mouth shut.

Crimes like these are considered less serious, and the suspects can post bail the day of, with no waiting around for a bail hearing. There's really no use keeping people like him around when there are murders and other much bigger things happening elsewhere in the city.

“Jeon Jungkook,” she says when they get to the front office. The man at the front desk turns around, shuffling through a few papers in his hand.

“Uh... Jeon Jungkook. Yep.” He motions Jungkook over, and the female officer heads back down the hall, leaving them in the quiet front office. “Lucky kid,” the man says.

“Yeah.”

“Too lucky, almost.” He looks up, and even though Jungkook's looking down at the guy in his seat, he feels uneasy. And he just stares, until Jungkook fidgets and coughs. Then he chuckles. “All right. Sit down, we're gonna sort out some paperwork. Fun, fun.” He huffs. Must just be pissed off, having to work after hours like this. Jungkook makes a note to be extra careful. Really, he just wants to leave.

He gets asked a lot of questions, but it's nothing hard. The whole time he's spaced out, occasionally bringing up a hand to wipe the blood collecting along the side of his face. Some of it he misses, and it drips down his neck and soaks his shirt collar. And he keeps nodding, yes, yes, answering where he lives and his age and other simple shit.

Still spacing out.

Because he's not stupid. There's only one person he knows directly who'd known he was at the club, who'd known he'd gotten arrested. And to make this situation worse, he now owes that person bail.

“Kook!”

Taehyung's in the lobby.

Jungkook's not surprised. Or more accurately, not as surprised as he should be.

The guy grins a little mockingly at Jungkook, then at the police officers who had brought him to the front area of the station. Everything is tense but Taehyung doesn't seem to care a single bit. He just stands up from the seat placed along the wall of the lobby, hands casually shoved in his pockets, something like amusement behind the way he regards Jungkook.

Jungkook gives him a hard smile, and when he gets close enough, he snaps quietly, “It's Jungkook. You only call me Jungkook.”

Taehyung just rolls his eyes.

And the worst part is, he knows the situation he and Jungkook have going on. The tension which is ever-present, like it or not. Doing this is only gonna make it worse and Taehyung fucking knows that.

Not to say Jungkook isn't thankful. Because he's let go. He's done this before, and he knows how it works. Always followed by the fines, discussion of the past few infractions and such, then promptly filed away by the city because things like these are never the biggest problem. It will cost him time. Money. But he's let go all the same and it's about as simple as that.

What's not so simple is this; walking out of the police station with Taehyung, just the two of them, their lone footsteps light against the wet pavement as they stand beneath the overhang, shielded from the rain for the time being.

“Here,” Taehyung says, and grabs the umbrella he'd left on the nearby stand. Hands it to Jungkook. “Would've brought two but I'm an idiot, so.”

Jungkook doesn't want to take it but he knows Taehyung will insist if he says no. He nods without meeting Taehyung's eyes and takes the umbrella. As they walk he makes sure to stand close, though, and holds the handle closer to Taehyung than himself.

“Let me ask you something,” Jungkook says, eyes locked straight ahead down the silent street. With the hand not holding the umbrella, he wipes the dripping blood from his face again. It's getting thicker, stickier. He's starting to realize he's lost a quite a bit of blood tonight.

Taehyung chuckles. “Feel like I know what you're gonna ask.”

“So let me.”

“Hm.” Taehyung lifts a hand and gestures loosely, go on. “Ask away, Jeon.”

Jungkook clicks his tongue. There are so many questions, and he doesn't know how to phrase a single one. “Why?” is the best he can come up with.

“Because I am a saint,” Taehyung drawls, and taps the 't' bluntly against the roof of his mouth.

“Yeah, right,” Jungkook scoffs. “How much?”

“Not too bad.” Taehyung shrugs. “Could cover it with a cash bail. Whole thing was only filed as an infraction, you know?”

“How much?” Jungkook repeats and looks over at Taehyung, who looks back with a frown.

The rain patters against the nylon umbrella, a gentle, plump spate of sounds.

“Two grand,” Taehyung says after a while.

And Jungkook wants to die. Because not only is that two fucking grand that's gonna be out of his pocket, it's two grand he owes to Taehyung, a guy he barely knows beyond the occasional challenging stare.

He breathes in, then out, and doesn't say anything because there are no words he can draw up that would be suitable for what he's feeling right now. Breathes in again.

“Fuck,” is the best he's got. Hopefully that conveys this pure shit feeling. “Just fuck.”

“Don't sweat it, man. Forget about it for now.”

Jungkook sighs and tilts his head back. His hair, stiff with coagulated blood, shifts back and drags through the raw, welling wound. More blood drips down the sides of his neck along with the rainwater. He lifts his hand, the stains looking black instead of rust red in the low sheen of the isolated streetlights, and peels his bloody hair away from his forehead. Running that hand through his hair, he feels the dried red flakes come loose from the ends of the strands.

“Can't—God, can't fucking believe I owe you two grand, Jesus fucking Christ—”

“Language,” Taehyung snickers.

“Shut up, Kim,” Jungkook snarls. Shakes his hair out, getting even more ticked off when the disgusting droplets of blood fly from the ends into his face. “This is so—I'm so—”

“Boned?” Taehyung supplies. Jungkook scowls and Taehyung just turns to the side and gives him a cheeky smile back.

Jungkook grunts something and kicks an opportune pebble near his foot. It clatters down the street into a puddle with a barely audible splash. With his fingers he irritatedly wipes away the spots of blood he feels on his cheek, but that only smears more along his skin, another dirty streak.

“Why did you do it?” Jungkook asks again. “I could've handled it myself. You know that, man, so why did you do it? I can't—two grand. Okay? That's four digits I owe you. You.”

Taehyung rolls his eyes. “Stop acting like I'm the worst thing to come out of this. You've got bigger problems, that money being one of them.”

“I could've handled it—”

“Yeah, sure,” Taehyung says stretching out the syllable. Jungkook raises an incredulous eyebrow, the busted corner of his lip turning down. “I'm not exactly keeping up with the Jeon Jungkook agenda, but I know you haven't been in a fight since the one between us a few months ago. And then this one.”

He doesn't bring up how Jungkook had lost back then, how Taehyung beat the absolute blood and bones and wits out of him. Oddly respectful. A little admirable in a way, if you look past the usual cocky air about the guy. You don't often find fighters who aren't constantly grappling for a chance to boast.

“And jeez, the market's been kinda dry recently. All the cops hanging around and scaring everyone off.” Taehyung looks at him pointedly and he just glares back. Huffing a laugh through his nose, Taehyung goes on. “Fighting down there, in a fucking place like that. You just seemed desperate, okay?”

Jungkook scoffs. “The hell does that mean?”

“Oh, what, that word hit a nerve? Fine, not desperate. Just... in need of a bit of help. How's that sound? Less pathetic? Enough to your liking?”

Jungkook stares flatly down the empty street. A few traffic lights flicker in the distance and he glares at those too, just because he doesn't feel like he's sufficiently expressed his anger quite yet. “Right. And since you're such a fucking saint.”

Taehyung shoots him a toothy grin, barely visible in the night, hidden even from the dim glow of the streetlights by the umbrella they're both walking underneath. Then he winks, too playful considering all that's happened.

“The saintliest.”

Jungkook spins the umbrella and the water collected on top whirls out to the sides.

“Don't think I owe you for this. I never asked you for anything.”

“Wouldn't expect it, Jeon.”

They hit a curb on the block and Jungkook looks down to step off the edge. As he moves his head, a heavy clot of blood comes loose from his hair, pulling a bit more from the sticky, open gash. A lot of blood.

“Aw, dude, that's nasty,” Taehyung comments, and easily steps off the curb.

Jungkook follows, but the small shift of levels feels astronomical. God, he usually has Yoongi to drive him home immediately after a fight. And it's been a long night. Too long.

“Jesus,” Jungkook mutters. Lifting a hand again, he presses it tentatively to the hot wound.

“You good?” Taehyung asks. His pace slows.

“Peachy,” Jungkook says quickly. Taehyung nods, but he reaches out and takes the umbrella and holds it up for the both of them. Jungkook immediately crosses his arms over his chest and shivers. Uncrosses them to wipe the blood, then recrosses them and shivers again.

The last thing he wants it pity, so he keeps walking.

“I'll pay you back, though, for the meantime,” Jungkook says. “I know I owe you that.”

Taehyung shakes his head. “No, you don't. You don't have the money, I know you don't. Stop with your fucking pride. Just make sure you pay the fine, all right? Money all comes back anyways, once that's all settled.”

Jungkook sighs but doesn't protest. He's flat broke. Taehyung knows because he probably knows what it's like.

Nodding, Jungkook just keeps looking ahead. The lights in the distance wobble. So do his feet, with each step he takes. Wobble, wobble, wobble. He doesn't know this street, but he hopes it's close enough to his apartment that he can make it there on foot eventually. Getting lost is nothing. The only real worry is whether he'll black out before he gets there.

If his body's gonna give out on him, he'd prefer it to be in the solitary comfort of his own home and not in the middle of the street with a guy who'd done him far too great of a solid. The last thing he wants to become more indebted.

“You good?” Taehyung asks again.

Jungkook nods curtly.

“All right,” Taehyung says carefully, and steps a bit closer. Points down the street with the hand not holding the umbrella. “Bus station is just down there, okay? Just—”

“I know,” Jungkook snaps. “I'm not a”—and he coughs a bit, choking on the blood seeping from his bashed inner lip to the back of his throat—“fucking charity case or whatever.”

“Okay, okay. Jesus, just don't fucking pass out on me, all right? I can take you in a fight, but that doesn't mean I can carry your ass.”

Jungkook tries to say something, but he ends up biting his tongue, so it comes out as a rushed mumble. He sways on the next step he takes.

Taehyung's watching, of course. Because Jungkook looks like he's been hell and back. The minute Jungkook staggers, he notices in an instant.

“Yeah, uh, you're not good,” he says with conviction. “Um—”

Too late.

The rush of adrenaline might be able to carry you pretty far, but once it's gone, it's gone. And everything hurts.

The worst part is it's almost funny. Jungkook's knees buckle first, because that's generally the pattern a body takes as it falls. You get used to it.

His head blanks for a second, and he feels himself topple in and out of coherence, catching snippets as his body gets closer to the wet concrete. He never actually hits it, though.

“Jesus fuck, what the hell did I just say, Jeon. Now I gotta fucking—”

It's almost funny. Almost. He kind of wants to apologize.

“Come on, stand—God, you're heavy.” He gets pulled up onto his feet, and he quickly leans against the hard support. Taehyung, he remembers. Right. The guy's got Jungkook's arm hooked over his shoulder, trying to pull him up onto his feet.

It's just a spell, he swears. It'll pass, like always.

“Nh—no,” he mumbles, and breathes for a bit, using Taehyung's broad shoulders for support. “'M fine.”

“No you're not. Come on, don't make me deal with more of your shit, just—”

“I—Taehyung, I'm fine—” He picks his weight up off Taehyung's side.

“No, seriously—”

“Really—Fuck off.” Jungkook swats at his hands, clearing his throat. “I'm fine.”

Taehyung clicks his tongue. The umbrella's resting over his shoulder to free his hands, so he takes it again by the handle and holds it. “Crazy, I swear,” he mutters, and gets walking again. “You live far?”

Jungkook falls into slow step next to him and shrugs. In truth, he feels ridiculously dizzy, but he's not telling anyone that. He catches the constant worried glances Taehyung keeps shooting his way in his periphery.

“How far?”

“What, planning on walking me, Kim? How cute.” Jungkook snickers a bit, but it's mostly to save face. That was a little embarrassing, what happened just there.

“Don't flatter yourself, I'm not that generous. Show me a real goddamn charity case and maybe you'll get some pity. Still don't want you to die, though.”

“I won't die.

“Says you.” They're quiet for a while, until Taehyung eventually inhales deeply, and exhales, like he's thinking. “I'm not trying to say you're being stupid, but I kinda am at the same time. You're not gonna make it home if you walk and you know that. Either pass out on the pavement or get mugged or both.”

“I'll bus.”

“Same shit.”

“So what, then?”

“I live close.” He look at Jungkook. “Ten minutes tops. And I can help you back.”

Jungkook's eyes trace the barely visible lines in the sidewalk. “I can't—that's too much to ask.”

“Not asking, though, are you? I'm offering. Don't gotta take it, but just saying. I've got a couch.”

“I—”

Taehyung raises an eyebrow at him, a question with a fairly simple answer. And Jungkook considers it, swaying again.

 


 

“Pick yourself up, man, I'm tired.”

“Ungh.”

Realistically Jungkook should be thinking about how much pain he's in, how much blood he's lost, how he can barely lift his feet to the next step without nearly collapsing. But he's not, of course. He's thinking about Taehyung, mind going haywire because the guy's got a solid arm hooked around Jungkook's body, helping his rag doll limbs up each step one at a time.

Ugly discolourations mar Taehyung's skin, black and blue along his arm, a yellowing, halfway-healed bruise smudged onto his collarbone. That rippled scar above his brow bone that Jungkook remembers noticing back during their first fight. Jungkook studies him and wonders how those marks happened.

“'Kay,” Taehyung says. Jungkook snaps back to reality. “'Kay, can you stand? I'm gonna let go of you.”

Jungkook indignantly holds himself up straight, trying to quell his panting breaths, shallow and heaving from something as simple as damn stairs. “I'm fine.”

“You keep saying that,” Taehyung grumbles, and fishes his keys out of his pocket.

“'Cause I am.”

“Right, Jeon.”

Inside the apartment is pretty much what Jungkook had been expecting. Something modest and sparsely furnished, a lot like his own place.

“Couch is there. You don't get the bed. I'm not that nice,” Taehyung tells him, walking inside. Jungkook follows, hobbling and trying to hide it, and leans on the wall near the door while attempting to kick his shoes off.

“Wouldn't expect it.”

“Hm.” Taehyung leaves Jungkook stumbling and dizzy in the foyer, throwing his keys on the table with a loud clatter that makes Jungkook flinch. “Unless you want to share?”

“I don't,” Jungkook says, maybe too quickly.

“You sure?”

Jungkook's halfway through toeing off his second shoe, the rain-soaked back of his shirt probably smearing blood onto the wall he's leaning on, and he's ready to collapse. He looks up at Taehyung, a hard stare to go with the hard atmosphere.

“It's your bed.”

Taehyung grins, shrugging with his thumbs hooked in the pockets of his rain-wet jeans. “It's an open bed.”

Jungkook has to force himself not to think about the implications of that. Nothing's more dangerous than a running mind. There's no way Taehyung means that, saying it as casually as he is.

“Thank you,” he says instead of giving a response, stone-cold to hide the stirring feeling in his chest. Because he's nothing if not thankful. Snippy, sure, and a bit hard to warm up to, but thankful nonetheless. Then he drags his feet over to the couch, casting his heavy eyes down to check his shirt and making sure it's not too bloody or wet before flopping face-first onto the cushions. “Thank you,” he repeats in a mumble, sounding a bit more sincere.

“Don't mention it,” he hears Taehyung say, followed by footsteps disappearing down the hall. But Jungkook's so tired he barely registers the words, more so noticing the comforting timbre of Taehyung's voice, the smell of his place, the soft fabric of the throw pillows. Jesus, the guy has throw pillows. Fucking fancy.

Jungkook's fingers unconsciously curl into the cushy surface. It's like comfort, or the closest he's ever been able to get to it. Nothing's quite like the feeling of lying down, taking the vertical gravity off your muscles and letting your weight sink into something nice, after a fight. Good or bad. Win or lose.

Somewhere in the back of his mind is the fact that he's in an essential stranger's house, taking up his couch, bleeding onto his cushions. Not to mention that stranger is Kim Taehyung. There's too much wrong with this, too much that could go south, but that always seems to be the case regardless of whether someone so frighteningly beautiful is involved or not.

Jungkook will worry about it tomorrow.

 


 

Light's suddenly shining through his eyelids, waking him up, and the first thing Jungkook notices is the blanket draped over his body. How sweet. After that, it's the barrage of the headache, muscle ache, body ache, the pain-stabbing-through-to-your-bones sort of ache. Which isn't so sweet.

Agh, fuck,” he grunts, bringing an arm up to bury his face in the crook of his elbow, at least shielding his eyes from the stabbing light.

“Oh.” There's a frantic clattering and the room goes dark again. “Sorry. Forgot you were here.”

Shit. Time to worry.

Jungkook cautiously lifts his head from the pillow he'd buried it in, wincing when some scabs stick and rip off from the side of his face, clinging there along with the mess of dried blood.

“Morning,” Taehyung says. He's standing at the kitchen counter, frozen. An empty coffee pot in one hand, the other placed on the handle of the faucet. And he gives Jungkook a smile pulled tight like an elastic, waiting to flick. Maybe he regrets bringing Jungkook over. He'd been drinking last night, Jungkook's fairly sure. And though it had probably worn off later into the night, he must have been tired. Not thinking clearly.

Fucking pathetic, Jungkook thinks. He's feeling like a one night stand about to get chucked onto the pavement, and he didn't even get laid.

“Morning,” he mutters back. They stay still for a while, Jungkook half-awake and flat on his belly, Taehyung watching. The room is scarcely lit by the foggy morning sun slitting through the blinds, dark enough that a light would be nice but not dark enough that Jungkook can't see the way Taehyung's eyes pass over him from across the room.

“Are you...” Taehyung begins. Twists the tap to fill the coffee pot with water, snapping out of the odd staring game they've got going. The dull sound of the water flowing into the thick glass is nice, only because it cuts the tense silence. “You okay? Or.”

“Fine,” Jungkook says, lifts the quilt, and sits up, wrapping the fabric around his shoulders.

“Cold?”

“Mm.”

“You want coffee?”

“Nah. I—I should...” Jungkook looks around, avoiding Taehyung's gaze. “Go, actually. Probably.”

Shaking his head, Taehyung turns off the tap, and it's dead silent again. Not even the sound of cars outside. “Yeah, you want coffee,” Taehyung decides for him, chuckling.

“Got shit to do,” Jungkook mumbles, but shifts into a more comfortable position on the couch, taking the weight off his left side, that damn knee acting up again. Maybe he should have waited some more. Maybe he should quit altogether.

“Wouldn't have been out there last night if you did.”

Jungkook just grunts. “All right. I was bored. Wanted money.”

“Doesn't make you special.”

“Think I don't know that?”

“Just making sure.”

“Yeah. Thanks,” Jungkook says scornfully, and fixes Taehyung with another firm stare. He just raises an eyebrow at him before looking down to focus on fiddling with the tub of coffee grinds.

“Snippy in the mornings, aren't you?” Now he's unfolding a filter, not even paying attention to Jungkook's tired glare. The machine cap's plastic clicks, followed by a deep bubbling sound as the water heats up, a slow drip into the pot. Jungkook fidgets, fingers toying with the frayed edge of Taehyung's blanket. It smells nice. “Guess I should be glad you didn't join me in my bed. Not that you wouldn't make great company, don't get me wrong. But I'm a bit of a cuddler myself.”

Then he winks at Jungkook, eyes flashing up just for a moment before he looks back down at his busy hands. It's annoying, how Jungkook's heart trips over itself.

“Quit playing, Kim. Now,” Jungkook says as flatly as he can. “I don't do games.”

“Really?” Taehyung laughs, grabbing two mugs and going about his morning like this is the most normal conversation he's had, in the most normal scenario he's ever lived. Jungkook is on edge. Maybe Taehyung's just good at hiding it. Taking his eyes off of him, Jungkook instead looks down at the throw pillow next to him, the art of his caked blood clinging to the fabric. Picks at it.

“I somehow doubt that.” Then Taehyung walks over, holding a mug of coffee out to Jungkook. “Judging by how well I've seen you play.”

Jungkook bites the inside of his lip, feeling a scowl coming on but wanting to hide it. Being nice. That's what this is about, after all.

Never mind that the last thing Jungkook wants to give Taehyung is niceness, and that the it's last thing he wants in return. Never mind that what he wants is to be fucked and slapped and ruined and made wonderful in every way other than this. Never mind all that, please. There's a code to follow when you're taking up space in someone else's damn home.

“Hn,” he just grunts. And he removes his hands from the warmth of the blanket to take the mug. “Thanks.” Taehyung, instead of walking away like Jungkook had expected, then sits down on the low wooden coffee table across from him so they're eye-level with each other. Jesus. His eyes are brown, Jungkook still remembers. Mundane and not, at the same time.

Jungkook sips his coffee and raises his eyebrows in a question, only because he feels pretty sure his voice would crack if he were to actually say something.

“Question,” Taehyung says.

Jungkook nods.

Taehyung holds up two fingers. “How many—”

“Jesus. Two.”

“You sure?” Then he adds a third, grinning a little.

“Shut up.” Jungkook rolls his eyes and leans back farther into the couch cushions, putting a bit of space between him and Taehyung. For safety, or something like that.

“Just checking.”

“I'm fine.”

“Quit saying that. Couldn't even walk straight last night.” Taehyung sips his coffee. For the first time Jungkook notices the mug, childish Rilakkuma drawings covering the surface. Which he would have never expected, judging from the version of Taehyung he'd heard about in the stories. Based off this Taehyung though, out of the ring and altogether different—because people always tend to change when competition gets involved—it's not the most far-fetched thing. Goddamn Rilakkuma mug. It's kind of silly. Kind of cute. “I mean, I can call a guy if you just want your head checked or something. He's real good—kinda bouncy I guess, but I trust him.”

“I'm fine,” Jungkook insists. “I've done this before. Had worse. You have, too. No?”

“Guess.” He shrugs and sips his coffee again, the long sleeves of his sweater inched over his fingers to protect them as he holds the hot mug. Hair mussed, pyjama pants loose, only going down to below his knees before cutting off at an uneven, probably hand-cut edge. Before he can tell himself not to look, Jungkook's eyes flick down to Taehyung's calves for a self-indulgent peek.

“You were just out of it. I dunno. Falling over, holding onto me and shit. Not that I blame you, I mean, I'm pretty damn good to hold onto. But.” He laughs lowly, giving Jungkook a once-over in his still-bloody shirt, firmed by the dried rainwater, his wild hair, the old red plastered down the skin of his neck. “You don't seem like the type.”

“I'm not.”

“I'm sure.”

Jungkook sips his coffee, and the mug clinks against his teeth. His hands are shaking, and he hopes Taehyung doesn't notice.

“So you're fine?” Taehyung asks.

“Stop asking.”

“Okay, okay. Just don't faint on me or whatever. I don't have time for that sort of thing.”

“And you've done enough.” Jungkook's referring to a lot of things; positive and negative. The bail and the roof over his head. Or the damn games Taehyung plays with him. That mad calamity rushing Jungkook's mind whenever Taehyung gets too close, says something too gorgeously nuanced, looks at Jungkook in just the right way, or the wrong way, depending on how you look at it, your morals and such. And this probably goes without saying, but Jungkook really has no morals when it comes to this sort of thing.

Jungkook sips his coffee, and Taehyung sips his coffee. Taehyung's eyes are on Jungkook, and Jungkook's eyes are elsewhere. Maybe he should—yeah, that's probably a good idea.

“Thank you,” he blurts. Sighs, releasing some of the tightness from his chest and lets his breath blow away the steam curling from the black ripples of his coffee. “I'm—It's very—You're...”

Taehyung smiles at him, amused, condescending, playful. Too much for Jungkook to try to decipher at this hour of the day. “Lost a lot of blood there, Jeon. Don't think too hard.”

He scowls, chewing on his tongue, waiting a moment before again settling for saying, “Thanks,” because he can't think of any better way to express it.

Because he doesn't have two grand to blow on a damn mistake like this. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong people. Because he could use the help, but he'd probably be too damn prideful to go to his friends for help, assuming they could even afford to do so.

“It's no problem,” Taehyung says, and the most bizarre part is he sounds like he means it. Where is the stipulation? That whole caveat of being so-and-so's whore for the next little while until the debt's paid off? Jungkook's only asking because he's had experience with that. It goes without saying that this isn't the first time he's dropped the ball, isn't the first time there's been something he's needed, assistance he's received. Money is tight and the thing about money is that most people need it.

And the people that have it love their power-trips.

Looking at Taehyung, though, Jungkook doesn't see someone with a lot of money. It's like Yoongi had said those few months ago; Taehyung seems a lot like him, and that's the most striking part. Because he lives like Jungkook, in a run-down apartment, beating the life out of fellow empty souls for a bit of extra cash, and yet he's not taking the first chance to jump down Jungkook's throat, rip his vocal cords out and strangle him with them. Because he lives like Jungkook, and all the rumours seem anything but true.

Granted, the rumours are rarely true.

They say Jungkook's a cold-blooded killer, but in truth he's the worst softie you're gonna find.

Maybe Taehyung's the same. Softie with a sexy stare, sexy smile, a little scary but like the title implies, still soft. If you look at him the right way. Who knows? Jungkook doesn't.

“Thank you,” Jungkook says again. The only thing he knows is that he knows nothing. Not about Taehyung. So what if the guy didn't take the opportunity to kill him in his sleep? So fucking what? He could do it now. Jungkook's still woozy, really woozy. And Taehyung's strong enough. If he's the type to fly off the hinge every now and again, this could end badly.

But Jungkook's pretty sure he can barely stand, so for now he'll just hope.

“I'll pay you back,” he murmurs.

“Don't—” Taehyung begins.

“Like just for the meantime. Because—”

“Don't,” Taehyung says again, a bit firmer. “Bail money comes back. I didn't even use a bond, so there's no damn middle-man. Just promise you'll pay your fines, I guess.”

“I know.”

“And don't get in anything worse or whatever,” Taehyung adds.

“Why? That doesn't affect the bail, it—”

“I know.” Taehyung laughs, then sips his coffee. “Just don't.”

Jungkook's quiet for a while. “I'll try.”

“Good.”

Jungkook stares at his coffee, swirling the liquid and watching the sloshing movement. On his skin he can feel Taehyung's gaze like a branding, but he doesn't look up. Instead he sneaks a peek beyond the brim of his mug, again seeing the exposed muscle of Taehyung's calves, the rough skin of his empty hand resting on the edge of the coffee table, graceful fingers occasionally drumming out a simple tune.

He's lean. Bony. And really, you can't blame Jungkook for thinking some of these things.

Because it's true last night roughed him up good, but goddamn, seeing Taehyung like this makes him want it some more. Imagine it; it's not hard. How Jungkook would put up a fight just because he wants it that much worse. He's the type to get mouthy, only because he likes when the bruises are his fault. The flat palm-marks and dotted fingerprints on his parchment skin like a Hallmark card greeting; see you again soon. In hell, in heaven, anywhere but here.

Taehyung's of that damn type. Leaking desire into the people around him, that kind of type, you most likely know. Jungkook's never been an exception, always just another target for this type that Taehyung slots so cleanly into.

“Dude, careful,” Taehyung says. Reaches forward, taps the ceramic edge of Jungkook's mug with a dull clink of a short fingernail against the gloss. Then he lifts that finger and points at the side of Jungkook's head. “Look.”

Jungkook feels like he knows what he means, but he lifts a hand to check anyways. Sure enough, the warm spill down the side of his face is blood. Maybe yesterday's wound opened again, a shallow scab on a deep laceration. Maybe it never healed over in the first place.

“You're bleeding,” Taehyung says helpfully.

“I don't care,” Jungkook mutters. He looks down at his mug and sees what Taehyung had meant. Some of his blood had dripped onto his hands, smeared onto the lip of the mug, swirled into the black coffee. Gross.

He leans forward and puts it down on the table, and then unwraps the blanket from his body so he doesn't get blood on that, too.

“Here,” Taehyung says, and hands him a cloth from his pocket. A small, pink design embroidered to the corner, some initials. KTH. Cute. The gesture brings Jungkook back to the first time they'd met. If he recalls, there may have been these same initials on that other cloth he'd received. If only he'd checked, maybe seeing Taehyung's face in their first fight wouldn't have caught him so off-guard.

“Got blood on your cushion, too,” Jungkook says. Presses the cloth to the side of his head with one hand while grabbing the corner of the cushion with the other. “Sorry.”

“Nah,” Taehyung says, and takes it from him, placing it to the side. “You really okay?”

Fine,” Jungkook says again. “I said quit asking.”

“I dunno. Bleeding all over my damn cushions, I gotta ask.”

“Yeah. Sorry,” Jungkook repeats.

“I know, Jeon. I'm joking. Don't give a shit about my cushions. By the way, your towel's at the dry cleaner's—” Taehyung begins.

“I don't give a fuck,” Jungkook mumbles into his coffee. “Keep it if you want. I never actually thought I'd get it back.”

“Well, I don't need it.”

“Let the dry cleaner's keep it.”

“I doubt Mrs. Kwon would want a nasty towel like that.”

Jungkook huffs a laugh. “Just let Mrs. Kwon keep it, yeah?”

Taehyung smiles at him, and Jungkook feels dizzy. It's probably the blood loss. But Taehyung is beautiful, dizzyingly beautiful, even more so than blood loss. Jungkook's always been hard for blood, but now he's harder for Taehyung. It's the truth, and what a crude truth it is. His focus is shifting—has been ever since he'd first laid eyes on the guy, how his jaw locked as he grit his teeth for a swing, how his lips pulled apart in a gush of air as he panted. What a sight to focus on.

Blood is thick and eye-catching. Taehyung is better.

So Jungkook feels dizzy, but that's really nothing new.

Taehyung leans back, the bony jut of his elbows peeking out from his half-length sleeve as his arm moves behind him to support him. Other hand gripping the handle of his mug.

“I was thinking,” he says. “I never told you my name.”

Jungkook snorts, but he sees that Taehyung means it. “I know your name, Kim Taehyung. Everyone knows your name.”

“You know a name.”

“I'm not about formalities,” Jungkook says, rolling his eyes. That hurts his head a bit, worsens the loose pounding, so he tries to keep his gaze still. Yet the room keeps spinning. He'd never actually realized it had started to.

“Too bad, 'cause I am.” Taehyung puts his mug down, next to Jungkook's bloody one. Then he leans forward, his elbows placed on his knees. A bit too close, if you ask Jungkook, but no one really needs to know about his internal crisis right now. He just steels his gaze, because he's nothing if not a master at pretending. “Kim Taehyung. Nice to meet you. Call me Tae if you want, but you don't have to. Not like it's exclusive or anything.”

“Hm. Tae. Cute.”

He grins, teeth nice like all those expensive people. But Taehyung's not like that. He probably just got lucky. “I'm all about being cute.”

“I see,” Jungkook murmurs, and flicks his gaze down to Taehyung's Rilakkuma mug before looking back into Taehyung's eyes. Their faces are very close. Jungkook's said it before; he'll say it again. What a damn babe, this one.

“You like it?” Taehyung asks, referring to the mug. It sounds a little dirty, his tone, but that's probably just in Jungkook's head.

“Why not?” Jungkook shrugs.

“Cute, no? I like it, at least.” When he looks back at Jungkook, the air only gets thicker, and Jungkook doesn't know why. “And your name?”

“Jeon Jungkook,” he says, only because it seems right to respond. Cements the thought that, yes, he and Kim Taehyung are here, as more than opponents but less than everything else. It's odd.

The room spins some more. Taehyung squints at him, smirking softly.

“You good?” he asks again.

“Why not?” Jungkook repeats, a little breathier.

Taehyung presses his lips together, and Jungkook watches that for a little too long before he pulls himself back. Then Taehyung's reaching forward to brush Jungkook's matted hair away from his forehead, and he tries to pull back but that makes his head rush too.

Thump. Thump.

There's his heart, his weak blood thrumming brutally behind his eyes.

“Bleeding real bad still,” Taehyung comments, almost speaking to himself.

“Don't—” Jungkook mumbles, lifting a hand to push Taehyung's gentle fingers away from his hair. “Don't touch me.”

Taehyung just laughs, slaps his hands on his knees, and pushes himself up from the coffee table. “Yep. I'm calling a dude.” Then he walks off.

“No,” Jungkook says and tries to stand up, but he can't get his body to lift itself. “Listen man, no, I don't need—I'm fine. I'm really...”

Some more stuff is said, but he can't really remember it. A few more moments pass but none of them stay with him, and everything is just left blank, torn tapes where the moments went wrong.

 



He wakes up for the second time that day, this time to a keen prodding against the side of his head. Having done this before, he knows better than to move. Instead he just opens his eyes, screwed up as he adjusts to the light.

“Oh, you're alive?”

“Don't sound so disappointed.”

Jimin's sitting to the side of the bed where Jungkook lays, steady hands held to the wound at his temple. At first Jungkook doesn't question anything. This is far too common a scene; Jungkook getting reckless, Jungkook getting thrashed, Jungkook getting half-dead. Yoongi bringing him here unconscious, acting annoyed to hide his worry. Jimin playing along while being tactfully reassuring.

Usually that's after a fight.

But in his last memory Jungkook recalls no such thing. No hard-knuckles against his teeth as someone makes him eat shit, no nose smashed against the concrete right before he blacks out, no delirious ins-and-outs of consciousness as Yoongi turns the steering wheel with frantic, mechanical spins.

In his last memory is a cozy little apartment and a pretty little face.

“Tell me what you remember,” Jimin says, like always. Jungkook blinks. “Anything? C'mon, Kook. I can put a needle to skin, but if it's brain damage we're talking, you're boned.”

“I'm—Yeah, I'm fine.”

“'Kay. So what do you remember.”

Jungkook lifts his hand on the side Jimin's not sitting on to scratch the bridge of his nose, but Jimin calmly reaches across his body and pushes his arm back down.

“Don't move. Just talk.”

“Right. Just. Let me.” And Jungkook lets his heavy eyelids fall, hiding from the light. Jimin has a bright lamp he keeps next to this bed, the one he uses for his patients. Which Jungkook hates, saying it makes his head hurt, but as Jimin always says, he's the doctor. Needs it so he doesn't sew the wrong thing shut. Which isn't professional at all, but it also must be kept in mind that Jimin is the furthest thing from professional.

It's relaxing, how Jimin's hands brush against the side of Jungkook's head, pulling at the tender skin around the gash, stretching the old scars painted there. Skilled, attentive hands, perfect for a job like his.

“Kim,” Jungkook says.

“Good, good.”

“Fought. Um, bled, went to Kim's house. Passed out, woke up, passed out. Again.”

“Mm. Okay.” Jimin nods brusquely, pulling back. Grabs a soft cotton from the side table he keeps next to the old bed for times like these, whether his patients be Jungkook or any other person—though he usually isn't so comfortable with bringing people other than Jungkook to his place. A small dab of antiseptic, a light blue stain on the white surface. “Hold still.”

“Yep.”

It stings, but it's really nothing. Again, Jungkook's used to this sort of thing.

“So, think your head's good?” Jimin asks when he takes the cotton away.

“Hope so.”

“That's the spirit, kid.” Jimin smiles, and it reaches his eyes like it always does. He places a hand on Jungkook's shoulder, supporting him as he tries to sit up. “Staying hopeful. Proud of you.”

“Thanks, doc,” Jungkook scoffs. Halfway into sitting straight, he gives up and lets his weight fall back onto his shoulders, still mostly lying flat.

“All right,” Jimin says, wiping the blood from his fingertips and pumping some sanitizer onto his palms, beginning to clean up his supplies. Lights, scalpels, scissors, needles. “All right. I've got a few more questions for you.”

“I'm fine,” Jungkook gripes.

“I know. That's not what this is about.”

“Oh.”

That's all he says. He's not stupid. Jimin smiles at him again, his various metal tools clinking as he fiddles with them.

“So...” And he wiggles his eyebrows. Jungkook would punch him across that smarmy mouth of his if he weren't so weary. “Explain this to me, Jeon. 'Cause I'm damn confused. I get a call at six in the fucking AM with Kim on the line because my precious little friend dropped near-dead in his apartment. How's that work out?”

Jungkook shrugs. “How's he have your number?”

“Met him a while ago through a friend—”

“Who?”

“Namjoon. You wouldn't know him, some guy Seokjin knows.”

“Why—”

“Jeon,” Jimin snips. “Stop changing the subject. I've been wanting to meet Taehyung, you know that, so I got the chance and I did. Big deal. But know what's a bigger deal? Is you”—Jimin pokes Jungkook in the chest—“and your knocked-out ass getting hauled down here by the guy. Since when did you know him? Like, he's a bit of a social butterfly, so I kinda get it. But you're a fucking rock. I'm pretty sure the only reason you even talk to me is because I owe you a twenty from way back when.”

“Do you really?”

“Yeah, for gas money that one time, you remember? Back before my car broke down—okay. Jesus, the subject.” Jimin clicks his tongue. Tosses the last of his cleaned supplies into a bag before throwing that beneath the bed, and wiping down the small tabletop. “You know Kim, he knows you. You were at his house. So what the fuck.”

Jungkook shrugs. “I was... I had—a situation.”

“A situation.” Jimin raises an eyebrow. “Huh. A damn situation. What, a situation you can't tell me? Or Yoongi? 'Cause we're gonna get to that, too. Been up to a lot, Kook. You'd be surprised what Tae told me.”

“Ugh. What'd he tell you?”

“Some stuff. Told me about the fight. Where it was.” Jimin drums his fingers on the wood of the table. From the street outside, Jungkook can hear the cars whipping by. It must be later in the day. How long he's been out, he has no idea. Jimin's apartment is in the basement, and he likes to keep the blinds shut. “There's no way Yoongi set that one up with you. Guy fucking hates that place. For a reason, too.”

“Hm.”

“Got your ass arrested.”

“Yeah, well. I fucked up.”

“Damn right you did. Idiot.” Jimin sighs. “Was it worth it?”

“When is it ever?”

“All right, emo. That's not really what I meant.” Jimin's smiling again. He's always been easier to talk to. The real fright's Yoongi.

“I would've won, though,” Jungkook says, grinning as well. “Should've seen me. Was fucking killing it.”

“Eh, you did all right,” someone says from the door. Taehyung. Jungkook shouldn't be surprised. Seems he just loves to show up. “Could've been quicker. A few more lefts wouldn't have hurt, I think.” He's leaning on the door frame, still wearing the same clothes he'd been wearing back at his place, what he must have slept in. Baggy fabric knotted around the waist, tumbling over his thin frame.

“Don't care what you think,” Jungkook grunts.

“Just my two cents.”

“Don't need 'em.”

“All right, boys.” Jimin chuckles, shaking his head.

Taehyung walks over, his hands shoved in his pockets. “He alive?” he asks Jimin, and then sits on a chair on the opposite side of the bed, scraping the metal feet against the cold floor. There used to be carpet in this room, but Jimin tore it up when he got sick of cleaning blood out of it for the umpteenth time. Now it's just rough concrete.

“Alive enough.” Jimin shrugs.

“I'm right here,” Jungkook mutters indignantly.

“Sadly,” Taehyung says. The words are accompanied by a smile, though, and Jungkook really doesn't know how to interpret that. Taehyung lifts a hand and places it on the edge of Jungkook's bed, careful of the bloody parts of the fabric, absentmindedly fiddling with the loose strings. “Do you know how many problems you've caused me, Jeon? Meant to go to the damn gym today, get some training in. Instead I'm here.”

“Eh,” Jimin butts in, “you had to haul his body down the stairs at your place, and again down here, right?” Then he smacks Jungkook's chest and says condescendingly, “He's a big boy. Must've been a bit of a workout.”

“Fuck off.” Jungkook scowls. Jimin ignores him and gets up, walking across the room to the drawers on the other side.

“Question,” Jimin begins, shifting through the objects, pulling out a roll of gauze. “The hell was Kook doing at your house? Last I checked, he seemed to have a bit of a problem with you.”

“Oh, did he?” Taehyung laughs, and his playful gaze flicks to Jungkook's irritated one. “Maybe he's over it, then. We had a sleepover, Park. Did you hear? Secrets and pillow fights, the whole gay deal.”

“Jolly.” Jimin chuckles. Returns, and forcefully grabs Jungkook by the neck, tilting his head before beginning to wrap the gauze around his head.

“Ugh, don't do that. I look stupid.” Jungkook lifts his hands to get it off, but Jimin knocks them away and keeps wrapping.

“You always look stupid. And I don't want you losing more blood.”

Jungkook grumbles, but stops complaining. Jimin's always rough when he does this part, but it's only because he's worried what'll happen if he doesn't do it tight enough.

Jungkook has a lot of questions but there probably aren't a lot of answers. Not enough, anyway. This seems normal for Taehyung, normal for Jimin. Jungkook's out of his element, but that always seems to be the case.

“Do me a favour,” Jungkook blurts. To both Jimin and Taehyung.

“I've done you fucking plenty, Jeon,” Taehyung says.

“Just this, yeah? Keep your mouth shut around Yoongi. Guy's gonna fucking gut me if he hears.”

Taehyung's silent for a moment, and purses his lips. Jimin's working hands briefly still at his temples, a frozen feather of a touch before he keeps going.

“Hears about what?” Taehyung asks carefully.

“How I fought. Where I fought. How I kept it a secret. All that. I dunno, I guess if you ever see him, or if he comes to ask you, just say you don't know. And Park—you shut it, too.”

“Mm.”

“I'm serious about this. Kim, your money's involved. I've gotta get Yoongi to lend me his car to drive to the courthouse and shit, pay the fines, whatever those are gonna be. So zip, yeah?”

Taehyung's lips press together in a guilty smile, and Jimin giggles softly. Before Jungkook can catch up to make anything of it, there's someone else pushing the door open. And though his view is blocked by Taehyung's shoulders, but he's got a pretty good idea who it is. Shit.

“Hey, Park, is he—”

“Peachy keen,” Jimin responds, far too chipper, looking up.

Taehyung grins, looking almost apologetic, tongue playing across the edges of his teeth. And then he scrapes his chair over the concrete, sliding a bit to the side. There, in the doorway, is Yoongi, looking like he'd take the first chance he got to make Jungkook bleed out the rest of the way. Finish what his opponent yesterday failed to do.

“Jeon,” he says.

You can't blame Jungkook for this part, but he giggles. Because as angry as Yoongi is, he's never as intimidating as he wants to be. Not when you know him as well as Jungkook does.

“Sorry, Coach.”

“Right.”

“Really, I am.”

Yoongi rolls his eyes. It's no worry; he'll come around. Always does, because Jungkook is one of the few things he has left that he can still come around to.

“Jimin, I wanna talk to you,” Yoongi says, turns around and leaves. Jimin pats Jungkook on the shoulder and gives an apologetic smile before he follows Yoongi out.

The door slams shut. It's quiet. Jungkook fidgets.

“Wild day,” Taehyung comments. When he smiles, Jungkook almost feels selfish. A man like this, alone with someone like him in a dark room, hidden from the skies. Jungkook realizes he's never seen what Taehyung looks like in the sunlight. Glowing, probably. Almost as if the blood of the night had never been there, like some bad joke that's been kindly forgotten.

A pencil right now would be great. Sketch that knockout smile onto Bristol board, make it last. A smile like that, you'd be damned if you didn't.

“Wild,” Jungkook mutters in agreement. Looks around the room, the brick walls and drawn curtains, the harsh shadows from the bright white lamp kept on the table.

“You think they're really talking?” Taehyung nods at the door.

“Dunno. Yoongi's probably just pissed at me. Scared he'll rip my head off if he stays in the same room too long.”

Taehyung snorts. “Guy can't be that bad.”

“You'd be surprised.” Briefly, the thought of asking about Taehyung's coach crosses his mind, but he doesn't actually put it into words. Instead he glances at Taehyung and blurts, “When'd you meet Jimin?”

“What, bothered you that much?”

“No,” he says quickly. “Just wondering.”

Taehyung laughs, but answers anyways. “Not too long ago. Maybe a few weeks.”

“He never mentioned you.”

“Yeah, well. Why would he? Apparently you had a problem with me.” He quotes Jimin's words with a smirk.

“Never said that,” Jungkook grumbles. Pulls himself up into a sitting position, winces when his head swims and leans back onto the metal headboard.

“So you're just always grumpy then?”

“Hm.”

It's tough to know what the right response to anything is. The tension, taut in the air against Jungkook's skin, is driving him mad. Even more so is Taehyung, again with the blithe attitude that he wears far too well.

Taehyung shifts, and Jungkook flinches, body immediately anticipating a hit. Just reflexes, shot nerves. It's understandable, all things considered. Taehyung quirks an eyebrow at him, then pulls out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket. Only that. Jungkook's on edge, though. Jungkook's always on edge.

Flicking one out, Taehyung brings the pack up to his lips and sticks one between his lips. “Want a smoke?” he mumbles around it, holding the box out to Jungkook. Maybe to ease the tension. He's doing a better job than Jungkook, at least.

“Ah, I...” It's with a bit of will, but Jungkook shakes his head. “I quit—or been trying to, I guess.”

“Damn,” Taehyung says. Gestures to the one dangling between his lips. “Do you want me to—”

“No, no,” Jungkook says, waves off the notion. “It's fine.”

Taehyung hums, sounding relieved, putting the pack away and lighting himself. An orange glow, the shadow flickering over the curved edge of his nose. “Quit, huh?” He hums, his eyes fluttering shut as he takes a drag. Bony fingers gently balancing the cigarette as he considerately blows the smoke out the side of his mouth, leaning back in his chair. Says again, “Damn.”

“Just trying.”

“Still. Makes you a better man than me.” He takes another drag, and looks fucking hot doing it.

“Can't take much, can it?” Jungkook snickers. The smell of the smoke, musty and ashy and thick, is calming. Like home.

Taehyung smirks. “You shit.” And he smokes some more, Jungkook watching the mellow curl as the wisps dissipate. He misses it, a little. A lot. A whole damn lot.

“Sorry about this,” Taehyung says, carefully flicking a bit of ash onto the concrete, kicking at it with his shoe.

“Nah. I get it.” Some tension spills from Jungkook's shoulders. It's quiet, but he's always liked the quiet. “You move down to lights?”

Taehyung shakes his head. “No. Just end up smoking more anyways. Waste of money.”

“That's smoking for you,” Jungkook says.

“Tell me about it. Jesus.” He rolls his eyes. Smokes more, and lets Jungkook watch. This is bizarre, but Jungkook's okay with it. Moments pass, minutes counted down by the shortening of Taehyung's cigarette. Voices can be heard murmured through the walls, Jimin and Yoongi and maybe some other people that Jungkook's too tired to place.

“Let me ask you something,” Taehyung says after a while.

“Hm.”

“You...” He purses his lips. His smoke's down to the butt, so he throws it on the concrete next to the old soot stains, crushes it beneath his shoe. “Jimin said you're a mechanic.”

“Yeah, I mean.” Jungkook shrugs. “Don't do free work, though, if that's what you're asking.”

“Right, Jeon.” He chuckles, pulling out the pack of cigarettes again as he speaks, like it's second nature. “You owe me, don't forget that. Two grand in debt straight under my thumb.”

Sighing, Jungkook says, “Gonna hold it over my head, huh? Didn't know you'd stoop that low.”

“You'd be surprised.” He winks. The tip of his second smoke gets lit, simmering in orange. “Lack of virtue can be beneficial. So—two seconds—let me blackmail you, all right?”

“What kind of damn question is that?”

“I'm joking. Just—” Smoke blown out the corner of his mouth, pretty lips puckered in a killer kiss that Jungkook can't take his eyes off of. There are a lot of pauses when he speaks. He's a quick smoker, get it done and over with, that kind of type. “Hear me out. You said you need a ride to pay your fines. Right? And I need you to do that to get my money back.”

Jungkook hums. He knows where this is going. Likes where this is going—don't tell anyone that part—and so he smirks. “What, you wanna be my ride, Kim?” he asks, tone a little thicker than it needs to be.

Maybe he's being a bit too bold, but he can't say he cares much. There's always been something inherently sexual with how they interact. Everything from the first glancing punch to these meticulously chosen words. Jungkook's just continuing the trend.

When Taehyung sucks on his cigarette he sucks hard, making the tip ash up rapidly. Like he's trying to get more out of it. Like he's trying to cut it short, pretend it's not as real as it is. And he huffs a low laugh at Jungkook's response and buys time, the filter touched gracefully to his lips, not even bothering to savour anything—smoking just for the hell of it. Because he has to, because he feels the need.

While Taehyung's been some worshipped enigma in every story Jungkook's heard told about him, reality finds he's surprisingly easy to make heads or tails of.

“...I'm asking,” Taehyung amends, giving Jungkook a keen glance, “if you'd take a look at my car. Then maybe I could be your ride.”

“Or I could just take the bus. Taxi. Anything.”

“You could,” Taehyung simpers. “But you won't.”

“And you know this how?”

Taehyung's getting near to the end of this cigarette. His other hand is already reaching for the pack. “Just an offer, man. Take it or leave it, but we'd both benefit.”

“Resourceful thinker, aren't you?”

“Just making the best of things.” Then there goes that cigarette butt, burnt out, crushed beneath his shoe. And then there's the next one. It's called a habit for a reason. “What do you say? You can't lose. And, like I said before—I'm real good company.”

Now there's a memory. Jungkook has to fight his smile, the thought of their first meeting, the first Monday in the locker rooms, floating into his head. It's real funny that not even a week later they'd ended up trying to bash each others' brains out. And now they're discussing a trade-off. Times change.

Jungkook sighs, head knocking back against the headboard. Then he looks at Taehyung and gestures to his pack of cigarettes. “Give.” Takes one. “Gonna need a whole lot of these if I'm gonna be spending time with your ass.”

Taehyung laughs, and when he holds the lighter up, Jungkook leans in close to the flame. Feeling the familiar warm burn before his face, making sure to puff his cigarette as it gets lit, eyes fluttering shut with something like comfortable nostalgia. He's tried quitting eight times. He's failed eight times. The down-period between each attempt gets shorter as he goes along. But with how the smoke cools over his tongue before he breathes it into his lungs, he can't say he cares much.

“Sorry,” Taehyung says. They're close. Gazes locking a bit too precisely to be comfortable, puzzle pieces that slot together even when they're from opposite sides of the image.

“Don't be.” Jungkook shakes his head, takes a drag. “Some people aren't built to quit. Slow suicide tastes too damn good, anyways.”

“Amen,” Taehyung breathes. And they smoke.

 


 

They set it up for two weeks later. It's such a lousy way Taehyung does it, too. Just decides for himself, because he's free that Saturday, and so Jungkook better be able to make it as well. That's not how it works, and people have agendas, but he doesn't care. And so Jungkook adjusts.

He's not the type to toss plans out the window on a whim, but he tells himself this is different. Two grand and a couple smokes that he's cost Taehyung. So this is different.

“Just tell Yoongi I'm busy,” Jungkook says into the receiver. “Hurt myself, maybe. Can't make it to practice.”

“Tell him yourself.”

“Why can't you? You're seeing him later, right?”

“Why should I?”

“I'm fixing your damn car for you, aren't I? It's almost done, too. And I don't do free work. So consider this payment.”

Jimin scoffs. “Yeah. You just don't wanna face Yoongi.”

“Well, the guy's fucking pissed, all right? Maybe I want to live a little longer.”

“Right, Jeon.” It's easy to imagine how Jimin's rolling his eyes. “You tell yourself that. But you're cancelling 'cause of Kim, right?”

“It's called a bail debt. Jesus, I've got a heart at least.”

“Sure you do. What I'm saying is you're not gonna be hanging out with that guy if your goal is to live a little longer. Plus he smokes like a damn chimney. Come to think of it, you do too. Get you a pack and you burn through it two seconds flat.”

“Honestly, I'd rather get lung cancer than deal with Min right now. Higher survival rate.”

Jimin sighs. “Jeon...”

“Just do me this, all right?”

Jungkook hears Jimin sip something on the other line, pausing, thinking. “Listen. Just this, kid. But Yoongi's gonna find a way to beat your ass one way or another, remember that.”

“I know, I know. I'll apologize. One day.”

“God, I'm too nice to you.”

“There's no such thing. Kindness makes the world go 'round, Park.”

“Shut up.”

Jungkook makes a note to thank Jimin later. Because he's not desperate or anything, but he really needs that Saturday free.

 


 

It's seven PM. Taehyung looks good in the sunset. He's leaning against the metal siding of his car with one foot crossed in front of the other, mannequin limbs posed like model-height refinement. A cigarette is caught between his lips as he stares off into the sky. Orange sun streaks through his hair and across his skin, eyes squinting at the light, brows furrowed, handsome.

It's not news, but Jungkook's staring.

“Need something?” Taehyung asks, eyes flickering from the distant, billowing clouds to look to his side. Jungkook blinks, body bent over beneath the propped-up hood, wiping grease off a silver breaker bar yet still distracted.

“Uh... yeah. Quarter-inch drive ratchet. And a shallow socket.”

Taehyung's fingers dance over the toolbox placed on top of the car as he searches. “Which?”

“The fatter one.”

“Hm.” Gentle clinks, and then he passes them to Jungkook and takes the unneeded tool from his hand to place back in the toolbox.

“Thanks.”

“No problem.”

Taehyung squints back out at the horizon, the tip of his cigarette flaring up orange when he sucks on it, mimicking the hue of the blazing sky.

“See something interesting?” Jungkook asks, turning—forcing—his attention back to the engine.

“Cumulus.” Taehyung blows smoke out in front of him, his version of a gesture indicating where he's looking. “Or maybe it's cumulonimbus. What's the difference again?”

“One of them means rain. The other one's just pretty.”

“They're all pretty, though.”

Jungkook hums. “I guess.” The ratchet clicks softly as he twists it.

They're out in the parking lot of Jungkook's apartment complex because neither of them have a garage, and there's no way Yoongi's gonna lend Jungkook space in his considering some of the recent events. Taehyung had driven his clunking car over quite late into the evening, engine wheezing and definitely sounding unfit to be driven for even longer than ten minutes. And Jungkook had been a little irritated at the inconvenient timing, but there wasn't much he could do. Besides, Taehyung had given him a sheepish smile and a seemingly truthful sorry, and Jungkook's anger fizzled out in a snap, some other tune clicking into place in his drumbeat heart.

Taehyung had taken that opportunity to give Jungkook his number, saying if any more favours were to come up on either side, they'd now have a means of communication. And not that Jungkook's the type to dwell on things, but he's overthinking the gesture, flipping it through his mind and looking for that undeniable something more that seems to be a constant behind everything that happens between him and Taehyung.

“I think cumulonimbus was the rain one,” Taehyung's saying. “It was in the Up movie, you know? Something that fat kid Rufus said, I think—”

“Russell.”

“Hm?” Taehyung turns his head away from the dry oil-on-canvas clouds. Jungkook doesn't lift his head to look at him, though, knowing he'll just get sidetracked again.

“The fat kid. His name's Russell.”

“But then who's Rufus?”

He snorts. “Fuck if I know. Maybe you mean that rat thing from Kim Possible.”

“From what-what?”

“Kim Possible?” Jungkook gives the ratchet a good last twist, then braces one arm on the edge of the car, wipes the back of his hand over his forehead. “You know? Ron Stoppable. Boo-yah, or whatever, he said that a lot.”

“Jeon.” Taehyung quirks an eyebrow at him. “You drunk?”

“I'm fucking serious. Ron Stoppable and his soul brother, the naked mole rat Rufus. Google it.” Then he holds out the ratchet and socket. “Breaker bar, again.”

“Whatever you say.” Taehyung laughs and shakes his head once more, then takes and returns those pieces, digs through the toolkit. “That's the long one, right?”

“Yup.” Taehyung gets it, hands it to Jungkook. “Thanks.”

“No problem.”

And Jungkook works in silence again, and Taehyung smokes just the same. Maybe he's thinking something. Jungkook wants to know but doesn't want to ask.

Doesn't have to, actually, because in a few minutes Taehyung finishes that cigarette and starts speaking again. “Rain would be bad, though.”

“What?” Jungkook looks up.

“Rain.” Taehyung's pulling out another smoke, and this time points with the filter end at the distant clouds before he flips it back around between his fingers and places it in his mouth, too gracefully. “It'd be a damn problem if it rained.”

“Sure would,” Jungkook mutters, and wipes the greased end of the breaker bar again. “Your point?”

Taehyung chuckles, stopping to puff his cigarette as he lights it. For just a self-indulgent second, Jungkook looks up while the guy's not paying attention and admires. Looks down again. “Just pick it up, Jeon. We've been here like two hours. Three? I dunno.”

Jungkook grunts. “These things take time. Thing's real dusty under the hood, too. Not my fault you never took care of your car, is it?”

“You've got no light once the sun goes down. Just saying.”

Looking up, Jungkook fixes Taehyung with a deadpan stare and a sarcastic, “Yeah, thanks, Kim.”

He just nods back, raising his eyebrows with a smoky grin gusted through his teeth. “No problem, man.”

Jungkook rolls his eyes. Holds out the breaker bar. “Wrench. 40 mm.”

“'Kay.”

This is how it's been going. Jungkook will admit that Taehyung's not the worst person he could have standing here. Better than Yoongi, at least, who couldn't name a damn tool to save his life and always requires a description of what each one looks like.

“I'm almost done, okay?” Jungkook says, giving the wrench a final twist on a bolt. “Then it's mostly just cleaning the gunk outta here.”

“Need help?”

“No.”

“Not even a little?”

“No, I'm fine.”

Taehyung walks over anyway. Bumps his shoulder against Jungkook's, nudging him to the side so they can both stand over the engine.

“It looks good,” he comments.

“You don't even know what you're looking at.”

“Sure I do.” He gestures loosely down at the general area beneath the hood. “Engine, right? See, I've got this. Pretty much a professional.”

“Don't insult me,” Jungkook says. “Apprentice, maybe. Little novice boy.” Taehyung laughs, and Jungkook likes how it sounds. He hands him the wrench. “Just hold this for me.”

“All right, teach.”

Taehyung twirls the wrench around his fingers as he watches Jungkook grab the cloth he'd hooked on the grill, scrub down the tops of the metal parts. Jungkook's never liked working while being watched. Even worse that it's Taehyung watching him, which speaks for itself. So he's a little tense, robotic in the way he moves, careful not to lean and brush too far to the side on which Taehyung stands.

“Done?” Taehyung asks him.

“Hm.” Jungkook nods. He's been wiping in the same circle for a while now, not realizing it's already fairly clean. Against his side he can feel the subtle shift of Taehyung's muscle as he moves, as he gets a bit too close, not close enough. The heat punching off his body, the warm smell of cigarettes making Jungkook woozy. “Guess. Just this part, though.”

“There's more?”

“Well. It'd probably be good to take a look beneath the car. Even just to clean it up a bit.”

Taehyung frowns, then turns from the engine to look at Jungkook. “Now?”

“Uh.” Jungkook keeps his eyes down on the cloth, how wiping thoroughly at his hands. “I mean—I could? You... you want it totally good, right? And I owe you that much.”

“How long's it gonna take?”

Jungkook shrugs. “Hour? Two? Who knows, depends what's wrong with it.”

Taehyung purses his lips. Then looks at the sky. “We'll lose light.”

“Oh.”

There's a lot he could say, but that's all he bothers to voice.

“We could do it tomorrow?” Taehyung suggests carefully, words slow. Or perhaps Jungkook's imagining it. His eyes flicker up, and he looks at Taehyung through his lashes.

A little coy. Maybe on purpose.

The first rule of bare knuckle boxing is not to pull your punches. If you waste energy then you're wasting opportunity. Do everything with intention, and get it right the first time or get beat. And Jungkook's good at boxing, adheres to this doctrine because he likes victory and knows that's what you have to do to get it.

But this isn't boxing. This is real life, with real events and real consequences. Where the scene doesn't cut short once you've been dealt enough, where you don't black out once it gets too bad, where there's no ref to call the shots and tell you when you've crossed the line.

Jungkook wonders where Taehyung draws his lines. Wonders when his own had dissipated.

Because morals are nice, but Taehyung is nicer.

“We could.” Jungkook nods.

Taehyung nods. “Yeah. Or like...”

Jesus Christ.

Jungkook inhales, and lets it all go in a rush.

“...Fuck, do you want to come in? For tea. Or something.”

Something like surprise flickers across Taehyung's eyes, but he's probably been expecting this.

“Sure.”

 


 

“Uh... Chamomile? Earl Grey?”

Jungkook hadn't actually meant tea, had meant to imply more along the lines of that something, but he's not quite sure of the etiquette for getting someone to fuck you straight after you invite them into your house. So tea it is.

“Look at you. Fancy,” Taehyung comments. He's sat at the stool of the peninsula counter separating the kitchen and the living room, head rested on his hand, watching Jungkook.

“Not really. I've only got the two. So pick one.” Jungkook washes the car grease off of his hands. Some is smeared on his clothes, too, but he doesn't really care.

Taehyung laughs. “Surprise me.”

So they're drinking Earl Grey, sitting on opposite sides of the narrow counter and facing each other. Jungkook's tapping his feet on the metal bar of his stool. Taehyung's speaking.

“You're free to borrow it any day, really. I just need it fixed.” He takes a sip.

Jungkook smirks. “You'd trust me enough to lend it?”

“Should I not?”

“Eh, it's up to you.”

“Just don't crash it, man. I'll kill you if you do.”

“Wouldn't dare. I owe you enough already, don't I?”

“True. But your debt's gonna be cleared in a bit. Maybe I could do with a bit more to hold over your head.”

“If you're trying to get me to drive careful, it's working.”

“Mm, so should I talk about debt some more?” Taehyung grins, swirling his tea. “Imagine everything you'd owe me. Gets the heart pumping, huh? I'm not a great person to owe things to.”

“No?” Jungkook chuckles.

“Not at all.”

“Should I be scared, then?”

“Depends. Are you?”

Everything is offbeat. Jungkook's never been good with tempos, steady or not. Still, he's handling himself fairly well. Taehyung looks at him like he's both the prey and predator, and Jungkook looks right back all the same.

“Can't say I am.”

“Shame. Maybe it just hasn't caught up yet. They say that's how adrenaline works.”

“Maybe.” Jungkook shrugs. Sips his tea. Straight Earl Grey has always been a bit on the bitter side for him, but he hadn't cared enough to bother with sugar. This isn't really about the tea.

“Can I smoke in here?” Taehyung asks, already pulling out the pack because he already knows the answer.

Jungkook points at the ashtray set off to the side of the countertop. “Knock yourself out. Place reeks of it anyways.”

“Just checking.” Taehyung smiles, then holds out the pack to Jungkook. “You?”

“Mm.” Jungkook takes one. After Taehyung lights himself, he brings the lighter up and holds the flame steady for Jungkook as well. “Know how they say smoking works?”

“How's that?”

“Adrenaline rush.”

Taehyung huffs a slow laugh, thin smoke cascading from his mouth. “Probably why it's nice after a fuck.”

“Hn. Probably.”

Jungkook laughs too, though his heart's crammed tight in his throat. Doing somersaults in his mind is the artful picture of Taehyung, a duvet halfway covering his sweaty body, those willowy fingers quivering slightly as he flicks a Zippo to life before his face.

Jungkook recalls Jimin's words from way back when—a living god. Which was bullshit through and through. Taehyung's a pretty fucking normal guy, but that's really the best part. It's the normal people that Jungkook finds the most astounding. Maybe he wants to know more about Taehyung. Curiosity is a tricky thing.

Taehyung's sitting here, right across the counter, drinking tea and smoking like this is nothing. In this moment he could become a regret that it happened or a regret that it didn't, and it's hard to tell which one would be worse.

Jungkook's an opportunist. He wonders if Taehyung is as well.

“I didn't think you'd be one for tea,” Jungkook says. Implying, always implying.

“No?”

“Just don't seem like the type.”

Taehyung shrugs. “I'm really not.”

“Then why'd you agree?”

“Dunno. Why'd you ask?”

Jungkook's lips turn up slightly into something resembling a smile. “You know why.” He crushes his half-smoked cigarette into an ashtray. Reaching across the narrow counter, plucking Taehyung's from his stained fingers, he does the same.

“I don't think I do.” Taehyung's also smiling, and it's also not quite right, because nothing is ever quite as right as you want it to be. But that's okay, because Jungkook sees lust in Taehyung's eyes, and nothing in his entire life had ever fallen into place so perfectly as everything is in this moment.

“Don't play dumb,” Jungkook mutters, and pushes his mug out of the way. Takes Taehyung's and does the same. Brings his hand forward to curl his fingers into Taehyung's shirt collar, gently. “It's not cute.”

After that, though, nothing is gentle. Unsurprisingly. All it takes is the slightest lean forward from both sides, and Jungkook's got his lips slotted against Taehyung's. Everything he imagined it would be, a devouring sort of kiss that makes your entire world zoom in on the chapped skin touching hot against yours, the wild rush of breath.

Jungkook can't think but he doesn't need to.

Taehyung laughs against his lips and Jungkook presses forward harder to shut him up, tugs him closer by the sheer fabric of his shirt. The edge of the counter digs into his abdomen and he almost feels like he's going to fall off the stool, but the discomfort is lost somewhere in the backdrop. Because Taehyung's good with his lips, very good. It should be expected from someone like him, with a face like his, a body like his, to handle himself well. But it still catches Jungkook off guard.

Taehyung's kisses are warm in the start and get hotter in an instant, a quick, overwhelming flare-up.

“You—” Jungkook begins to say, and doesn't know where to go from there. This just feels like it needs words, a simple something to contain it. Instead, he tightens his fingers on Taehyung's shirt until his nails dig through the fabric and into his palm, pulling the guy closer.

Taehyung hums, and Jungkook feels the soft vibration against his mouth, a warm tingle followed by a sharp breath. Cold fingers come up and brush against the back of Jungkook's hand, slowly work their way under his palm, and loosen his grip on Taehyung's collar.

“Choking me, babe,” Taehyung murmurs against Jungkook's lips, a smile still in his tone and satisfaction pressed between them, hot in their mingling breaths.

“Hn. Sorry,” Jungkook says flippantly, and lets Taehyung's hand play with his, knitting those fingers into the spaces between his and squeezing tight, just for a moment, before letting go. As cold as Taehyung's hand is, the air of the apartment is colder. The lingering heat of the cigarette over his skin possibly adding to that warmth. Opening his mouth the slightest bit, Jungkook coaxes Taehyung's lips apart, briefly taking a moment to revel in how he just lets him before pulling the guy's bottom lip between his teeth and biting. Taehyung growls but doesn't pull back, and Jungkook loves that, too. “Sorry,” he just says again, and passes his tongue over the skin he bit, wetting Taehyung's lips some more and tasting his saliva.

“Where—” Taehyung says, and gets cut off when Jungkook leans forward some more to get him back into another kiss. For a moment he complies, moving his lips against Jungkook's and toying his tongue into his mouth, brushing it gently against Jungkook's own and licking some at his teeth. But then he brings a hand to Jungkook's collar, pushing him back to take a moment to breathe before asking, “Where are we doing this?”

Jungkook blanks, passing his eyes over Taehyung's face—the subtle blush rising to his cheeks, his mildly reddened lips and the way they stay parted as he pants. That white scar is still there, digging into his eyebrow and commanding attention. The faintest bruise along his jaw, and another more apparent one that begins low on his collar and disappears beneath his shirt. There's probably more, too.

Jungkook wonders what Taehyung might have looked like while getting those bruises. Wants to try it for himself and find out.

“Bedroom,” Jungkook finds himself saying, and Taehyung's already hopping off his stool. Jungkook does the same and walks to the edge of the counter, grabbing Taehyung by the wrist and loving the feel of the hard bone shifting beneath thin skin. “Come on,” he says, because although this could be done in silence he wants to be saying something, anything.

Jungkook's never been the most involved in regards to others, especially in matters such as this, which he'd normally be entirely comfortable with leaving just up to bodies, skin on skin and mouths and hands where they feel best. That's what he's good at, that's what he knows. Words are generally kept at bay because that's how he likes it. How impersonal it makes everything. But the thought of a fuck like that with a guy as good as Taehyung makes Jungkook's gut twist up something fierce.

“I like your place,” Taehyung says as Jungkook leads him down the hall.

“Don't be awkward,” Jungkook mutters, not turning around.

“Sorry.” Taehyung laughs. “I'm a bit of a talker. I can do quiet fucks, if that's what you're into. You want me to shut up?”

With his hand on the doorknob to his room, Jungkook almost pauses, the momentary thought of wondering how much he should really trust Taehyung snapping through his mind. Not just in regards to allowing the guy in his house, but with other things as well. The whole interpersonal aspect, and wondering about the fallout. What might happen afterwards, and all else which he's never been good at. But he doesn't let himself hesitate, and just opens the door.

“No,” he mutters, so quiet he's almost sure Taehyung doesn't catch it. But as he turns around he sees a flicker of surprise in Taehyung's eyes for just a moment, and then the most muted smile, something sharp about it that Jungkook doesn't bother to place.

“Like hearing me talk, Jeon?” Taehyung chuckles.

“No,” Jungkook says again. “I meant I'm not into quiet fucks.” Slamming the door shut behind them, Jungkook steps forward and presses Taehyung against it. Hard bodies pushed together, brimming with power and something else, something dangerous, flammable when alone and downright explosive when together. The kind of precarious luck that Jungkook's always loved getting too close to, feeling the off-right sort of heat against his skin, a warning that he never listens to because he loves the horrid outcome.

When he kisses Taehyung, it's different than it was in the kitchen and different than every other fuck Jungkook's ever had. Taehyung is unfamiliar, and maybe Jungkook likes that. You never know what's coming and so maybe this is a good thing. Jungkook's never fucked someone whose smile he's liked more than his body. And so maybe this is a good thing.

“So you want it loud, Jungkook?” Taehyung simpers, pulling back, and—the name. Don't think Jungkook doesn't catch it. Maybe Taehyung's saying it because that's just a thing he does, something he's used to, but it sounds so lovely on his tongue. Something hot bursts down Jungkook's spine, and his shoulder blades pull back and tighten. He presses closer to Taehyung, carding a hand through his hair that's just as soft as it looks, and slots their legs right so he can feel the heat of Taehyung's crotch flush against his own.

“Depends. You think you can do loud, Taehyung?” Jungkook says back, and he makes sure to add the name, too, just to see how it feels. His forehead is pressed against Taehyung's, their noses gently touching, chests right up against each other's with a pressure that's just on the wonderful side of too much.

“If that's what you want.” Taehyung's hands come up to his hips, grip hard but do nothing more, because they're still getting a feel for each other. “I'll give you anything you want, sweetheart,” Taehyung says, his voice dropping to a rough whisper, his eyelids hooding over the murderous glint blooming up his pupils. Black swathing those gorgeous brown irises that Jungkook's spent too long just fantasizing about.

And now this. It almost feels unreal, but at the same time this is the hardest shot of reality Jungkook's experienced in the longest while. Because the pain of fighting is nothing but an escape, and there's nothing like a boyish smile, a sexy stare, and a hard body to bring you right back down, to ground you.

“I put up a tall order,” Jungkook murmurs, his lips brushing against Taehyung's as he says it. His hand tightens in Taehyung's hair and he brings the other one up to press against the guy's chest, feeling the heavy strike of his heart boom, boom, booming through his ribs.

“I'm sure I can deliver.” Taehyung smirks. He wears it damn well, and he knows it.

As he speaks, Jungkook feels Taehyung's hot breath move across his lips, wildly tantalizing. Before he's really thinking Jungkook's tilting his chin forward, catching Taehyung in a sweet little lip-lock. Testing the waters.

The thing about fucking a guy you've never fucked before is you don't know what makes him tick, the spots on his skin that are best to suck gently between your lips or the right rhythm at which to move against him. The good part is the discovery. Jungkook knows every trick in the book when it comes to the human body, along with pleasure and pain and all else with such a correlation, but he doesn't yet know what tricks work on Taehyung and, again, that's the best part.

Poking his tongue out, Jungkook pries Taehyung's mouth open and revels in the hot, wet breath that flows together with his own, the heavier rush of air as Taehyung's breathing gets quicker right along with his. Taehyung kisses back a bit harder, uses teeth, sharp edges grazed against his the delicate skin of Jungkook's bottom lip. It's a teasing little warning before he's back to the burning slide of his tongue, the plump press of his lips.

The tension in Jungkook's shoulders melts only to build again in his lower belly, hot and strained and anticipating. Because if Taehyung kisses this well then there's got to be a lot he's even better at.

“Come on.” Jungkook growls. Pulls harder at Taehyung's hair, a demand. “Come on. Kiss me like you mean it.”

Taehyung smiles against his lips, and their teeth clack together. He smiles a lot, Jungkook's noticed. It's nice. “Jesus,” Taehyung says, but still uses those hands he's got on Jungkook's hips to dig hard against his hip bones, pushing off the door and flipping them around so it's Jungkook that's the one caught between the hard wood and Taehyung's body.

Then his lips move down from Jungkook's mouth, giving him a moment to breathe that he'll never admit to actually needing, and trail down his neck, tongue passing over the hot column of Jungkook's throat before finding a good spot to latch onto and suck. It's done a bit harder than he needs to, and it's followed by a quick nip that makes Jungkook jolt.

“Ah—fuck, there you go.” Jungkook sighs, his eyelashes fluttering, head tilting almost imperceptibly to the side. A low growl rumbles in Taehyung's throat, and his thigh slots between Jungkook's legs. When Jungkook instinctively grinds down onto it, Taehyung's grip tightens and he shoves Jungkook's pelvis back against the door with a rattle of the loose doorknob. His tailbone stings upon the impact. And it's rough, and it hurts, and Jungkook barely catches the moan spilling from his lips.

“Jesus, you like that?” Taehyung says, his tone a little darker, a little more loaded than it had been before. The words are punctuated by a bite clamped down over the sensitive juncture of Jungkook's neck and shoulder, and his core tightens, a shuddering breath rushing out from him. “You like it like this?”

Jungkook chuckles, his throat feeling tight, the hand in Taehyung's hair now more to keep himself together than to be assuming any sort of control. “Just saying. You put in two grand for this ass, might as well cash in.”

The huff of Taehyung's laugh is felt over the cooling saliva on his skin. “Pricey fuck, aren't you?”

“Hm. For a reason.”

Taehyung kisses up Jungkook's neck again, trailing his mouth along his tense jawline over to his ear and casually says, “Think we're good, are we?” before nibbling on the soft skin of his earlobe, toying with the metal piercing using his tongue. A quick shiver bursts along Jungkook's spine, and a choked noise gets caught in his throat. Taehyung snickers. “We'll see. 'Cause I've had a lot of good fucks, Jeon. Probably better than you.”

“Bullshit,” Jungkook says, and it's meant to come out stronger than a whisper, but that's what it turns out being, a shaky breath that would be barely audible if Taehyung weren't listening, if he weren't as attentive as he is. And Jungkook likes that, as well. Likes this unabashed attention, the intent behind the touches Taehyung gives him. “I'll blow your fucking mind, Kim.”

“Oh, will you now?” He licks once more over Jungkook's ear, hot breath, hot tongue, smirking when he feels the suppressed shudder move through Jungkook's body, the weakening of his knees as he supports more of his weight against the door. Pulling back, he gets to a distance where Jungkook can meet his eyes, yet still close enough that it's beyond dizzying.

The proximity. The attractive blush up on Taehyung's cheeks, the lines of his face where the shadows fall sharp, the soft curve of his lips as he smirks.

Jungkook swallows, doing his best to collect his thoughts in this moment where Taehyung's cutting him some slack. His cock feels hot and heavy between his legs, straining as blood rushes to it, a furious heat coiling up in his groin that just gets worse and worse. There's a persistent urge to grind his hips down, to work his growing erection against the firm surface of Taehyung's thigh, the heat radiating from his body, making Jungkook want. But just giving in is a separate thing from being made to give in.

“I dunno,” Taehyung goes on, voice lilted and slow. Leaving one hand firm and forceful on Jungkook's hip, he brings up the other and runs a single fingertip down Jungkook's cheek. A good move guaranteed to make anyone melt, especially when coupled with a smile like that. “'Cause you're pretty, Jeon. Real pretty. But I've had prettier.”

Jungkook's eyebrow twitches, and his teeth grind together. It must show in his jaw, the tensing, the distaste toward what was just said, because Taehyung's lips twitch upward slightly. Almost like satisfaction, but laced with a little something else.

“I doubt it,” Jungkook breathes, words ragged around the edges, restraint playing in every corner. “I really fucking doubt it, Kim. 'Cause you haven't had pretty till you've had me.” Using the hand still laced between the locks of Taehyung's hair, Jungkook grips hard and tugs him back into a searing kiss, alight and scalding where their skin meets. And maybe it's a bit cocky to say, but that's just the way to be. Because if there's anything Jungkook's better at than fighting, it's fucking.

It's true that there's a certain familiarity to the push and pull of strained, worked muscle, almost off the brink of insanity. The bloody, battered soul of the boxer. But the same goes for the lover, and Jungkook is undeniably both.

He scrapes his sharp canines along Taehyung's lip and licks up behind Taehyung's front teeth, messy, shoving Taehyung's tongue out of the way with his own. A snarl pulls up through his throat when Taehyung fights him on that, pushes back, resists.

“Careful there, big boy.” Taehyung pulls back again, and Jungkook's getting sick of it, these games, this talking. He chuckles, condescending in a different way than Jungkook's used to. “I know I got you once then, but I don't think I could do it again.”

Jungkook almost laughs. Their fight. It's been a while since he's thought of it. And this is still a play of power, but it's a bit different. Just a bit.

“You couldn't do it again,” Jungkook corrects. “You only won 'cause I let you win.”

“You're funny.” Taehyung rolls his eyes. He notches his thigh up and doesn't miss the way Jungkook's breath hitches. “And now?”

Jungkook reiterates, “Only 'cause I'm letting you.”

“Cute,” Taehyung drawls, and he seems done with this too. The talking. His hands tug at the hem of Jungkook's shirt and he hikes it up, making Jungkook instinctively lift his arms as Taehyung pulls the thing over his head. He's surprisingly careful about it, making sure to pull the collar so it doesn't catch on Jungkook's chin before it's off, and he drops it onto the floor.

Jungkook's hands creep down to pull insistently at Taehyung's shirt too, and though he says nothing, Taehyung gets it and shucks it off, hem-first, then right over the head so it falls to the ground inside-out. It's just for a bit, but Jungkook stares. He'd seen Taehyung shirtless before, in the locker room that one odd night. But this is different, because that back then had been all about the thoughts behind the shadows, and this here it's everything out in the open.

“Yeah?” Taehyung snickers, and Jungkook blinks. Looks away from Taehyung's chest and instead to his eyes, his raised eyebrows and his tongue playing between his teeth, grinning all cocky like he's won something good.

“Shut up,” Jungkook mutters, and pulls Taehyung close. “Shut up.” He kisses down his neck, sucking a mark right near his Adam's apple as his hands work at his belt. “Jesus, why'd you wear a fucking belt?” Jungkook growls, fumbling with the buckle, almost frantic but not quite. The heat of Taehyung's erection is straining against the fly, and Jungkook lets his knuckles graze over it a little self-indulgently, feeling the large bulge and falling into that trap of wanting just a little bit further.

“Sorry, babe. Didn't think I'd be getting laid.”

“You're an idiot. Why else would I have agreed to this?”

“Maybe 'cause I coughed up two grand for you, yeah?”

Temporarily,” Jungkook corrects. He feels Taehyung scoff, sounding amused. Carefree. With the cold metal belt buckle coming loose at his fingertips, the leather unsheathing from the loops as he tugs it off and away, Jungkook might feel comfortable enough to say he feels the same. Carefree. That's the kind of presence Taehyung has. Jungkook's not used to this, feeling so at ease while at the same time feeling like he's two seconds from bursting out of his skin. “Just quit making this about the debt.”

“Done deal.”

Jungkook nuzzles a little at Taehyung's neck, breathing in his scent and enjoying it a little too much, rocking onto the thigh Taehyung still has shoved up between his legs. His calves are beginning to hurt, but it's the least of his worries.

“Shit,” Taehyung breathes, palming down Jungkook's stomach, letting his fingers dip into the lines of Jungkook's abs. “Shit, Jeon. Your body's a fucking blessing, you know that? Closest I'll ever get to heaven, I swear.”

“Psh.” Jungkook shakes his head, looking to the side as he feels his cheeks burn. “Shut up, Kim. Just get on with it.” So Taehyung's hands come up to Jungkook's hips, urging him to grind harder against his leg, tilting his pelvis slightly forward and increasing the friction of the fabric of his boxers against his cock, caught behind his zipper and painful in the best way.

Jungkook never thought he'd combust from lust alone, but that was before he'd set himself up to be having sex with Kim fucking Taehyung. All those people who want him, all those people who crave him. And now he's all Jungkook's, at least physically, head to toe. A living god, remember? It's stupid, but maybe Jimin had been onto something.

A growled moan spills from Jungkook's lips, and he muffles it in the hot skin of Taehyung's neck, sweaty and getting sweatier as he gets more worked up. Once again Jungkook brings his hands up to Taehyung's hair, just because he likes the purchase and control it gives him, to tug hard, cruel. Because there's a wild possession striking through Jungkook's veins, the red phosphorous end of a match coming to life, a sudden flare-up. Because there are all those people that want Taehyung, but he's here with Jungkook.

“Fuck,” he grits, and rocks his hips down, baring his teeth to leave a bite mark on Taehyung's smooth, tan skin, doing his best to split through because he loves ruining perfection, loves corrupting and debauching all that isn't his. Although Taehyung might be too far gone to be dirtied much more, it's nice sometimes to pretend it's a saint you've got tearing you to pieces at his fingertips. Taehyung tenses, wincing a little when Jungkook draws blood, and that only makes them both happier. “I—Fuck, Tae, I wanna feel you to my fucking core.”

It's not like he really knows what he means, exactly, but the intention is clear enough. That Jungkook wants to get fucked, and wants to get fucked good. Doesn't want this to end up being a waste of time. A positively animal sound rumbles in Taehyung's throat and Jungkook revels in how he feels it tingle against his lips. Those large hands clasp firmer around Jungkook's hips with a decided power, the kind you only ever get from someone who knows how to wield it.

Taehyung jams his thigh up, pressing up against Jungkook's straining erection till it hurts so, so good and Jungkook makes a silly, choked noise in the back of his throat. His fingers curl tight in Taehyung's hair, and the guy ruts his hips forward and whines in protest, bodies getting closer and giving Jungkook an even better surface to rub his clothed cock on.

“Oh, nh—” A high sound gets caught behind Jungkook's tongue, and he does his best to swallow it down, but Taehyung knows he's got him. Not that Jungkook's ever been hard to get, but nevertheless. Opening his mouth, he grazes his teeth along the slowly-forming bruise he'd left on Taehyung's neck.

“Bed?” Taehyung asks, the rushed air of his words brushing faintly over Jungkook's hair.

“No shit,” Jungkook says, and his voice is breathier than he wants it to be, but that's fine.

“Just checking,” Taehyung says, and abruptly grips Jungkook by the chin and pulls him into a wet kiss, quick, lips popping apart softly. Taehyung's a knockout kisser, whirlwind-dazing like everything else he does, and he doesn't give Jungkook a single moment to get back on his feet before he grabs his wrist and tugs him toward the bed. Jungkook's bed.

Never mind the personal side of this that's crawling something fierce beneath Jungkook's skin. There's a blade kept beneath the mattress in case things go south, but if he's being honest with himself Taehyung's a bit of a dweeb, and is probably not the type to make Jungkook require a weapon at any point. Unless he's into that. Fuck. Remind Jungkook to ask him later, if a later ever comes.

Shoving Jungkook on the bed, Taehyung's on him in an instant, straddling him with his crotch right up against Jungkook's. The hard line of his cock can be felt through his jeans as he ruts his hips forward, pulling Jungkook close with his wide palms over his waist and growling into his mouth.

“Jesus,” Taehyung says under his breath, and begins unfastening Jungkook's pants with shaky fingers. The pinpoint pressure of Taehyung's ribs can be felt against Jungkook's chest as they press together, skin on skin, moist and sweaty in the mildly humid air, somewhat uncomfortable but still warm, still real, still happening.

Jungkook trails his fingers along Taehyung's sides and digs the pads into the wayward bruises soaked beneath his tan skin like blotted ink. A quick pressure, just to leave him sore. An irritated mh gets caught in Taehyung's throat, and he scrapes his nails along Jungkook's lower belly, white marks over suffused skin.

“That hurts,” Taehyung spits, and Jungkook smiles to himself.

“I know, babe.” And he sucks Taehyung's swollen bottom lip into his mouth.

Taehyung pushes Jungkook's shoulders back and gets off his lap for a moment to make quick work of his pants and boxers. Taking that moment, Jungkook reaches for the bedside table to dig through the drawer and fish out a condom and a bottle of lube, throwing them somewhere on the mattress. Then he quickly kicks his own pants off, the button already undone by Taehyung in his impatience.

Jungkook's cock springs free from the waistband and bobs over his belly. It's a little embarrassing, how hard he is, considering the mild extent of what they've done, but Taehyung seems to be in the same situation anyways, his cock big and hard and curved upward. And fuck, Jungkook wants it. Wants it in his hand and in his mouth and is his ass and just wants Taehyung all over him, holding him with his large hands and lean arms, wiry body pinning him down and strong hips slamming into him.

“Fuck.” Jungkook doesn't even bother to hide the raw desire coursing through his veins, simply reaching for Taehyung and spreading his legs to provide room between them. He's angular, frame cut and built so fucking perfectly, rough and masculine and everything Jungkook likes in a guy. “Fuck, Kim, you're so—”

He doesn't let himself finish that thought because the last thing Taehyung needs is an ego boost. Instead, the thought comes through in Jungkook's actions, the way he stares, enraptured, as he wraps his hand around Taehyung's cock and pumps, a sigh fluttering through Jungkook's parted lips as he gets to touch.

Ah,” Taehyung breathes, and Jungkook rubs his thumb gently beneath the pink head, flicking across the stretchy skin of the frenulum and enjoying the way Taehyung tries and fails to restrain his buck into Jungkook's hand. Stroking down straight to the base, Jungkook admires how Taehyung's foreskin pulls back from the glans, and then gives his balls a quick squeeze before running his hand back up again. A shiny bead of precome wells at the slit, and Jungkook smears it with his thumb and brings it to his mouth without even thinking.

“Fucking hell,” Taehyung grits, and Jungkook flutters his gaze playfully to Taehyung's as he lets his thumb pop from between his reddened lips. Maybe that flicks a switch, because Taehyung's hands are immediately gripping beneath Jungkook's thighs, forcing them apart to allow him to situate himself between them. His chest is pressed almost suffocatingly to Jungkook's.

“How do you want it?” Taehyung mutters through his panting, grabbing the bottle of lube that Jungkook had left to the side. And he's probably referring to position, but Jungkook couldn't care less about that.

“Hard,” is all he replies with, a blunt word that packs a punch and allows permission. When Taehyung kisses him, Jungkook follows those words with a bite just to be sure.

Ah—fuck,” Taehyung just says through his teeth, and his hips buck forward, rubbing his cock against the smooth skin of Jungkook's inner thigh. “Hard, huh?” A soft chuckle against Jungkook's lips.

“Think you can do it, Kim?” Jungkook mumbles, teasing, his hips moving to run the wet tip of his dick over Taehyung's abs just for any sort of friction.

“Easy,” Taehyung scoffs. Pulling back, he fiddles with the bottle of lube, popping the cap with a click and pouring the fluid over his fingers. “You're nothing special, Jeon. Just like any other fuck I've had. Done it a million times.” And he pulls Jungkook's asscheek to the side, kneading the flesh as he rubs one slick finger over his hole.

“Th—then it better be damn good,” Jungkook bites out, his back arching instinctively as his hips try to push down onto the nowhere-near-enough pressure of that finger. He's not really thinking about Taehyung's words, because as true as that may be, they both know there's something about this moment that sets it apart from other ones. As for what that is exactly, who knows.

Taehyung huffs a laugh, but says nothing, and then he's pressing his finger in straight past the second knuckle without even giving Jungkook a moment.

“Oh—nh, Jesus,” he grunts, his arms tensing at his sides, his fingers curling into the bedsheets till his knuckles go white. God forbid he reach out and grip Taehyung for support. That'd be a little too intimate, which is odd to say considering the situation, but there's a thought process somewhere behind it. Not that Jungkook can remember it right now.

Taehyung has long fingers, nice and elegant and knobby in the right places, and Jungkook likes how the pads feel digging into the swell of his ass, likes how the knuckles catch going in and out of his tight rim. That one finger shoves deep, curls, stroking against the muscular folds of his inner walls and rubbing, back and forth and back and forth, drawing out barely-stifled noises from Jungkook's parted lips.

“More,” Jungkook says, not liking the slowness, the silence, the almost careful way Taehyung handles him.

“Hm.” Taehyung complies, pushing a second finger in with a lewd squelching sound that seems all too loud. The sheets rustle as Jungkook wiggles his lower half, seeking more. “You good?” Taehyung asks him out of the blue, and Jungkook clenches in surprise, which is a little embarrassing, because Taehyung must feel it around his fingers.

“Fine,” he says. Maybe Taehyung takes that as a go-ahead, because he suddenly rams his fingers deep, the wide part of his hand pressed against Jungkook's firm ring of muscle, and crooks them hard, prodding at Jungkook's insides. Clenching his teeth, Jungkook swallows a groan, his fists tightening at his sides and threatening to put tears in the flimsy sheets.

His cock stands ridiculously hard, twitching and dripping precome onto his belly, bobbing heavily as he bucks his hips and fucks up into nothing, and then rolls them back down again onto Taehyung's perfect fingers. Each curl, knuckles bending and straightening inside him, makes his balls feel heavier, makes his cock feel fuller, molten lava pooling below his navel.

Taehyung leans forward, poking his tongue at the seam of Jungkook's clamped lips, urging them open and licking into his mouth before beginning to trail his tongue down Jungkook's neck, collarbone, chest, over to one pectoral and, shit, latching his hot mouth onto one of Jungkook's nipples.

Ah, fuck, that's—” He grunts, his hips stuttering, throat closing in tight and making it far too difficult to breathe. His nipples are sensitive, ridiculously so.

“Hm?” Taehyung just hums, seeming to recognize this fact. The heat of his tongue laving over the bud sends a shot of pleasure down Jungkook's spine, clouding his mind.

“Shit, Tae,” Jungkook settles on saying, his back bowed tight, eyes squeezed shut to try to keep himself together. “Shit, shit, I—”

“You like that?” Taehyung murmurs, letting go of one nipple only to move to the other one, doing the same thing with his tongue and this time adding a gentle scrape of teeth, rolling the hardened bud between them and making Jungkook writhe.

“Shut up,” Jungkook just chokes out, not liking Taehyung's tone, arrogant just like Jungkook fucking knew he would be.

“Brat.” Taehyung laughs under his breath after unlatching from Jungkook's nipple, then kisses it once quickly and giggles at the way it makes Jungkook jolt, a broken sound clipped short behind his teeth. Moving up again, Taehyung peppers kisses along Jungkook's neck as he continues to move his fingers in and out, rubbing and rubbing, a sensation just short of enough that Jungkook feels like he's constantly on the verge of losing his damn mind. Then Taehyung makes it worse, casually saying into the sweaty space just below Jungkook's ear, “Do you want my tongue?”

“Mmh—I, what?”

“My tongue,” Taehyung repeats, like it's fucking nothing. “Your ass. My tongue.”

“Uh, I.” Jungkook wants to ask what again but he knows what. “Yeah,” he just breathes quickly, wanting to turn to the side and hide his face in the pillows.

“'Kay.” Taehyung giggles and removes his fingers quickly, making Jungkook gasp, and sits back. Grabbing Jungkook beneath the knees, he pulls his legs apart far enough that the stretch burns. Without hesitating, he's running his tongue over Jungkook's asshole, pressing it flat and licking a stripe from the lower part of his crack and up to his perineum.

Jungkook swallows hard, torn between lifting his head to look down at Taehyung's head between his legs and letting neck relax and getting lost in the feeling. In the end he has no choice in the matter, because Taehyung is incredible with his tongue, circling it around Jungkook's rim before shoving it past the tight ring of muscle, feeling hot and slick and filthy inside him.

“H—ah, oh God.” Jungkook moans. Pulling back for a second, Taehyung spits on Jungkook's hole before delving his tongue right back in, pushing it in deep to suck his lips around the rim. “Yeah, fuck, fuck.”

Jungkook's cock twitches and oozes precome with every motion that Taehyung gets just right, rolling his tongue around his hole, working it in and out, deep but not deep enough.

“Fingers. I want—I want your fingers too,” Jungkook demands, and he hates the way Taehyung snickers before he complies.

Squeezing two fingers back into Jungkook's clenched hole, Taehyung works them back and forth and coaxes him into relaxing. Jungkook grunts, muscles unable to find ground behind tensing and melting into the pleasure. Reaching down, Jungkook tries to bring one hand to his aching, leaking cock, red and neglected and fucking pulsing with his frantic heartbeat. But Taehyung catches this and swats his hand away, not bothering to stop tonguing Jungkook's asshole and just growling as a warning.

Jungkook whimpers, but his hands move obediently back to his sides, once again settling for pulling desperately at the sheets. When Taehyung works a third finger in, Jungkook sobs partly in pain, and Taehyung's tongue licks almost apologetically around the spit-slick muscle, kissing and sucking around the stretched, quivering hole.

“Fuck, Tae,” Jungkook spits, the name coming out just because it feels right, feels like something to help pull himself together. The sting of the stretch dies out quickly, and then it just feels so, so good, in that way that makes Jungkook lose his mind, throwing his head back and stretching his neck long as his back arches, entire body taut and willing.

Taehyung's fingers crook and wiggle around inside him, spreading and fucking him open, the pads occasionally rubbing circles into his prostate and wracking his body with waves of pleasure. His legs are shaking, breath shallow and scorching his throat.

When Taehyung pulls away Jungkook's not sure if he's disappointed or relieved. Massaging Jungkook's thigh, Taehyung watches and groans at the way Jungkook's asshole flexes around his fingers as he slowly pulls them out.

“Fuck, babe,” he murmurs, voice ragged. “Fuck—gonna fuck you so hard, Jungkook, fuck—”

“God.” Jungkook lifts himself onto one elbow and reaches forward to grab Taehyung by the hair at the nape of his neck, pulling him into a kiss and falling back down onto the bed with their bodies flush against each other. “God, I just—fuck me, holy shit, Taehyung, fuck me, now, I—”

Instead of saying anything, Taehyung responds by slamming Jungkook down by the shoulders, moving over his body. “Where's—” he begins, looking around.

“Ugh, shit,” Jungkook grumbles, and feels around the covers for the plastic packet. Finding it, he tears at it with shaky fingers, taking the slippery condom and grabbing Taehyung by the hips, rolling the condom on. He bucks at the sensation, and Jungkook just grumbles at him to calm the fuck down, Jesus, patting him on the outside of his thigh when he's got it on.

“'Kay,” Jungkook breathes, his limbs feeling loose, almost pawing at Taehyung's body as he crawls back over him. “'Kay, come on, come on.”

“You ready?”

“Yeah, Jesus, I've been ready for you since forever, just—ah—” Reaching down, Jungkook lines Taehyung's cock up to his hole himself, body alight with impatience. Feeling the hot girth, Jungkook trembles, his thighs coming in tight around Taehyung's body.

“Keep—fuck, keep your legs spread.” Taehyung growls, gripping hard enough to bruise and forcing Jungkook's legs back to the sides again. Jungkook's lip curls but he lets Taehyung jostle him around, strong hands held at his hips and lifting his lower half slightly off the bed. Smearing the tip back and forth over Jungkook's hole, Taehyung teases him, watching with mild delight at the way Jungkook's spine arches off the bed, pink lips parting as he lets out an impatient huff.

“Come on,” he grits again, clenching his teeth. He wiggles his ass but Taehyung stills him with a firm, warning hand.

“Ah jeez, Jungkook,” he murmurs, smirking at Jungkook when he makes a low sound in his throat. Still, Taehyung just keeps running a hand over his skin, regarding him almost appreciatively and worsening his blush. Sweat drips down the sides of Jungkook's head, sticking the locks of his hair to his forehead, and it's annoying but he's thankful for the way it almost hides his eyes. “You're so pretty like this, so damn pretty."

Taehyung's hips push forward a little, and the head of his cock dips into Jungkook's stretched asshole before pulling out again. Jungkook grunts.

“You wanna get fucked, Jungkook?” Taehyung taunts. “You wanna beg for me, babe?”

“Shut the fuck up,” he spits, bringing one leg up and in and knocking his heel against the back of Taehyung's thigh, hard, chuckling when he sees his jaw tighten in pain. “You said you were gonna fuck me, so shut up and fuck me.”

Taehyung rolls his eyes, his fingers digging into Jungkook's meaty hips, jerking him up. And he pushes in. It's not slow, but it's not too fast either, not the roughest Jungkook's ever had but rough enough that he can enjoy it.

Ungh—hurry up, you piece of shit, just—”

“God, so fucking noisy.” Then Taehyung's shoving the rest of the way forward, sinking his cock into Jungkook's tight, velvety heat. For a moment, he stays there, his balls pressed against Jungkook's ass as Jungkook furrows his brow and whimpers softly, hands curling into fists.

“Fuck, fuck, Taehyung, fuck—”

And then Taehyung's pulling out, almost to the tip, letting him feel his whole length. Pushing in again, their bodies rocking with the force.

“Sh—shit,” Jungkook stutters, his voice cracking and his hips shoving down in a needy plea.

“Stop fucking squirming,” Taehyung snarls as he picks up the pace, pinning Jungkook's pelvis down. In response Jungkook begins letting out little grunts and whines, his hands coming up to hold Taehyung's forearms for any sort of purchase as he lets himself get fucked, brutally taken apart piece by piece and wholly used. And it feels good. Better than any fuck Jungkook's ever had, and he doesn't want to think about the implications of that but he can't help it.

Because Taehyung is gorgeous in more ways than one. In the ring as a victor, the top dog, the killer. Here—because Jungkook's nearly been convinced—as a damn sex god, something about the way he moves and the way he looks, hair dark and sweaty, shaken out over his forehead. And out there, just as he lives among the world, a normal human being. Gorgeous in all those ways. And it's really hitting Jungkook that this is the boy he's wanted in his bed ever since he first saw him, here. It's almost ridiculous how dizzy that thought alone makes him.

“Tae,” he cries out, just as a reminder to himself that this man is his, even if it's only for this moment. “Fuck, Tae, don't stop, don't stop.”

Agh, shit, yeah.” The brutal pace is hard to maintain, so Taehyung switches to leaning over Jungkook's body a little closer and angling his hips so the tip of his cock drags against Jungkook's prostate with each long, deep thrust. Pulling out and pushing in, working over the same spot again and again and drawing out satisfied purring sounds from Jungkook as his lithe frame stretches and falls tight under the pleasure.

His muscles tremble, and he rolls his hips down desperately on Taehyung's cock, breath coming harsher and harsher, burning the back of his throat with each hot inhale.

“Harder,” he demands, sounding more needy than the intended aggressive. “Fuck me harder, I want it—fuck, oh, yes—”

“How hard?” Taehyung grins despite his ragged, unsteady breathing, his thrusts already getting quicker. Shifting the position of his knees, he changes the position of his cock inside Jungkook so the head is now jabbing repeatedly at the spongy gland. Where it hits it drives him wild, and Taehyung's slamming in brutally, rubbing at the deepest part of his inner walls.

“Just—” Jungkook's fingernails dig into Taehyung's forearms as his hands tighten, feeling the urge to just grab onto something in desperation. His hands fly to hold tight around Taehyung's waist instead, nails carving angry red lines down his sides and lower back. “Harder, c'mon, fuck me like a man, Taehyung, not like a li—little bitch, oh God, fuck—”

That gets him going. That gets him going good. Maybe it was the knock on his masculinity. Jungkook's always found that one useful in getting what he wants.

“Shut up, Jungkook,” Taehyung says through his teeth. The way he fucks Jungkook is hard and mean, violent and mind-blowing just the same. “Just shut the fuck up.”

“Make me,” he says, followed by a stupid whimper that he couldn't hold back as well as the other ones.

Taehyung chuckles, the low sound catching in his throat as he keeps ramming into Jungkook at a good, steady pace. “The fuck's that mean?”

“Hit me.”

“What?” For a moment, Taehyung slows, but Jungkook doesn't allow it and jerks his ass down onto Taehyung's cock, once again bringing his foot up to knock his heel against the back of Taehyung's thick thigh, just below his ass. This time he hisses at the pain, and his hips notch forward, forcing his cock deep inside Jungkook.

“Hit me,” Jungkook repeats, fixing Taehyung with a firm stare and continuing to rock his hips, back and forth and back and forth. “My face. Safeword red, yada yada. Just hit me.”

“Dude,” Taehyung begins, but Jungkook growls and kicks him again in the back of the thigh, where a bruise must already be forming. “Ow—stop that—”

“Hit me,” Jungkook ignores him and says again.

He sees the look in Taehyung's eyes, the one that begins to stir something warm inside him. Because it's familiar. This, with Taehyung fucking him from the front, with him not actually meaning it when he tells him to shut up, with the bruises formed being just for fun; this is unfamiliar. And it's not that he doesn't love it, the difference in the way this is playing out, but it's nice, really nice, to know and be in your comfort zone. This isn't supposed to feel like making love because it isn't. It's supposed to hurt and feel nameless and objective. Sex for the sake of sex, pain for the sake of pleasure.

Jungkook slaps one of Taehyung's forearms, giving him an insistent glare, but he doesn't need to say anything more because—

Smack.

“Fuck,” Jungkook spits, reeling in the hot shock.

“Yeah?” Taehyung asks, but Jungkook can barely hear him beyond the ringing in his ears, the scalding echo left over his cheek.

“Again,” he hears himself say, feels his body rocking with Taehyung's shallow thrusts, their hips pressed almost entirely against each other's.

And so it comes again, straight across his cheek, painful, the flare that comes with the reckless, in-the-moment type of fucking where you act on the first thing that comes to your head. It's not about thinking, it's about feeling. Feeling good and feeling bad and feeling satisfied.

The side of his face feels numb and stings something fierce, and that's always been his favourite part.

Taehyung grabs him by the thighs and starts picking up the pace again, fucking into him, their skin slapping together wet and lewd. Moaning loudly in approval, Jungkook does his best to move his hips in time with Taehyung's to get the blunt tip of Taehyung's cock hitting his prostate dead-on each time he pounds into him.

“Fuck.” Jungkook sobs. “More, gimme more, I need—”

“Shit, yeah, baby.” Taehyung grunts, and this time the hit comes straight across Jungkook's other cheek.

He hits well. Not so hard that it's a whiplash, but just on the brink of too much, just enough to be disorienting. The pain makes Jungkook's asshole clench tight in shock, in anticipation for more, and Taehyung's hips stutter in response as he sucks his bottom lip between his teeth and bites hard to try to stifle his moan. Jungkook's body shudders violently, broken cries falling from his pretty lips.

“Tae, I—Ah, ah ah,” Jungkook whimpers, drooling at the corner of his mouth, and Taehyung slows down for a second to quickly lean forward and kiss his swollen lips, licking it away. It's almost affectionate, the way Jungkook melts into the kiss, body responding by arching up against Taehyung's warmth. But that's a precarious thought to have, and it's easier just to chalk it up to lust and pained passion instead.

“Shit, Jungkook.” Taehyung pants, pressing deep into the shuddering boy beneath him. “Shit, shit, so good, Jungkook, you feel so good.”

The blush beneath Jungkook's skin get stronger, gets hotter as Taehyung keeps fucking into him—rougher, faster.

“Fuck, keep going, please—there, there.” Jungkook's delirious with want, his mind floating somewhere between the cracks of pain and pleasure. His back is obscenely arched, kept high off the covers so his pelvis is tilted just right for Taehyung and the angle at which he fucks him open, the pace kept high. “Fuck, Tae, love your cock, holy shit I—please keep going, please, feels so good, feels—”

Mmph, yeah, I know, babe.” Taehyung jostles him, and Jungkook's body twitches to try to keep himself from writhing too much. The shocks of pleasure are translated to quick spasms of muscle, his abs tightening, the veins in his forearms bulging as he holds onto Taehyung a bit too hard.

He wants to reach between them and touch his cock, but it's always been better when he could come like this, from just being filled, right to the fucking brim, his hole stretched wide to accommodate the girth of a cock. Besides, he's not even sure Taehyung would let him do so. Not even sure he could collect his thoughts enough to loosen his grip on Taehyung's waist and bring his hand to his shaft.

“More.” Jungkook grunts, his body seizing as his nails claw frantically at Taehyung's skin. “More, Tae, I'm so close, I—shit, gimme more, c'mon—”

Smack.

Once again, Taehyung's palm strikes across Jungkook's cheek. A moan rips through his body and he quivers under the intense pleasure, his asshole clenching hot and tight around Taehyung's thick cock.

“Yeah? Gonna come, baby?” Taehyung snarls, sounding wrecked and absolutely animal. The way he slams into Jungkook is violent, is lovely. Jungkook nods frantically, keening and sobbing and spreading his legs open more to allow Taehyung to fuck him harder, to own him just like Jungkook wants him to.

Leaning down and pressing his chest flush against Jungkook's, Taehyung lays his weight almost flat over him and rams in so fucking deep that it makes Jungkook's body curl up. His teeth scrape along Jungkook's tense jawline and he sucks his earlobe into his mouth, the metal piercing clanking against his teeth as he plays with them, and Jungkook is fucking gone.

“Fuck, Taehyung—fuck—” A needy sound somewhere between a grunt and a whine tears up from his throat, and as quick as he'd said it, he's stuttering something along the lines of coming just barely before his orgasm hits him, rocking through his body, so powerful and ruthless that it's like Taehyung's trying to kill him with this. The funniest part is, it wouldn't be too far-fetched if he was.

“Fuck, baby, that's right, fuck.” Taehyung strong hands pin his hips down, and he fucks Jungkook through his orgasm.

Jungkook moans, his cock twitching, his balls pulling tight as the muscles in his groin tense hard, hot white come shooting out in thick ropes between his and Taehyung's stomachs. It coats the space just below Taehyung's navel, dripping down over the dips of his pelvic bone, and the weaker spurts end up all over Jungkook's lower belly. His hips buck through it all but Taehyung keeps him from moving too much, snarling as he holds him against the mattress and fucks him deep.

Taehyung's teeth clench, and Jungkook blinks up at him with delirious eyes.

“Keep going, fuck me, use me,” Jungkook feels himself begging, and Taehyung doesn't even wait a moment before complying. His sharp hip bones slam against Jungkook's ass as he snaps them forward repeatedly, and he can feel the soreness of a beginning bruise on the skin where Taehyung's hands clasp him tight.

Nnh—Jungkook, yes, yes, yes.” He growls it right next to Jungkook's ear, and his teeth come down hard over his shoulder as he comes, ramming in hard one last time and staying buried in the heat of Jungkook's asshole, those muscular inner walls rippling around his length. Jungkook feels his cock pulse inside him, how it throbs as it pumps out spurts of come, and he's never hated something as simple as a condom so much in his entire damn life.

“Fuck, Tae,” Jungkook whimpers, panting hard and trying to catch his breath.

Taehyung hums, his slow rocks into Jungkook dying down, and he licks the bite mark he'd left over his shoulder apologetically. Sitting back, he slowly pulls out, making Jungkook wince at the crude emptiness, the indescribable pain as his asshole gapes open around nothing for a moment. Taking the condom off, Taehyung ties it up and steps off the bed for a second to throw it out in the trash can across the room. Jungkook watches with mild satisfaction as Taehyung's legs wobble, the movement almost indiscernible.

Jungkook reaches for the tissues he keeps on the bedside table to wipe the come off his chest. When Taehyung comes back and flops down next to him, Jungkook silently reaches for him and cleans him off as well, then throws the wadded tissues back onto the night table. It's quiet. Jungkook doesn't know whether to take that as a good or bad thing. The only sound in the room is their slowing breathing.

Seemingly without thinking, Taehyung reaches over and gently grasps Jungkook by the sides, pulling him against his body. Not spooning, exactly, but bodies held together nonetheless. Sharp angles digging into each other. It's just for a moment, because maybe Taehyung knows. Probably, he knows. The stinging of Jungkook's cheek doesn't dissipate, but rather becomes a soft tingle in the background.

“Do you want me to leave?”

It's a sudden question. Usually the answer is obvious. Usually it's a relief the minute the person's out the door.

But Jungkook goes still, and he doesn't say anything.

“I mean... Can I stay?” Taehyung changes the question to. Taking the fall.

“Go ahead,” Jungkook breathes, and it sounds more like a thanks than a permission. They both fall asleep pretending this is just for the sake of convenience.

 



“You want syrup?”

It takes a silly amount of effort to even say that much. Morning had come far too soon, and now Taehyung's leaning on Jungkook's kitchen counter, reading instructions off the back of an expired Bisquick box. And Jungkook's making pancakes.

“Aunt Jemima?” Taehyung asks.

“Yeah. I think.”

“Sure.”

Jungkook flips a pancake.

“It says you have to wait till there's bubbles,” Taehyung tells him.

“Oh.” Jungkook flips it back over again and uncooked batter smears over the spatula.

“Not like that.”

“Whatever.” One of the six pancakes in the frying pan is a deflated mess, so Jungkook pokes at it and tries to fix its structure.

“You're making it worse,” Taehyung comments, leaning over the stove.

Jungkook elbows him away. “Just. Read your damn box.”

They're here doing this because Jungkook's not as quick a thinker as he'd like to be. The rustling sound of Taehyung stepping around the room and pulling his clothes on had woken him, resulting in a quiet, deer-in-the-headlights look from Taehyung frozen with his jeans pulled halfway up his thighs. With it being early morning, Jungkook had just stared back and eventually croaked You want pancakes?

Because pancakes are a friendly gesture, right?

At least Taehyung said yes, probably because he's nice enough to not want to embarrass him.

“They're probably good now,” Taehyung says looking over Jungkook's shoulder.

“I've got it,” Jungkook mutters. Flips them. They're a little burnt, but it's not too bad.

“You're a good cook,” Taehyung says, fingers toying with the flaps of the box. “Like. Skilled. With the spatula.”

“They're fucking pancakes, Kim. Stop kissing my ass.”

Licking his lips, Taehyung stifles a laugh. “Just filling the air. I don't do awkward. Awkward sucks. And you're like—prime awkward.”

“Hm.” Using the cleaner edge of the spatula Jungkook scrapes at the burnt areas, twists the pan with his other hand. In his periphery he swears he can feel every move Taehyung makes against the hairs on his arm. “Did me fine last night.”

“Oh, ha-ha.” Jungkook doesn't have to look over to know Taehyung's rolling his eyes. “Look at that, I got myself a fucking jokester.”

“Just saying.” Jungkook shrugs, smiling as he scrapes the spatula over the bottom of the frying pan.

“Shut up. Cook your pancakes, Jeon.”

It's a nice morning, which is saying a lot coming from Jungkook. His body still might ache and his bruises still might throb, but Taehyung's leaning against the counter laughing at him when he winces as he sits in a stool, and that's not such a bad thing. Fuck off, Jungkook just tells him, and Taehyung giggles some more.

“Since I'm here,” Taehyung begins around a mouthful of pancakes. Swallows. “Or since I'm still here, I guess.”

Jungkook purses his lips and swirls a piece of his tastefully burnt pancake in the syrup on his plate, glancing up at Taehyung carefully.

“Can I ask.” The fork twirls between his fingers as he chooses his words. His eyes flicker to Jungkook's face, and he nibbles on his tongue a bit before he speaks. “If you're... like, if you're okay?”

“Mm. Should I not be?”

“Like.” Taehyung flips his fork and taps the back end against his cheek, then raises his eyebrows at Jungkook.

Jungkook feels an almost tender smile pull at the corners of his mouth. “I'm fine, Taehyung. Sorry about that.”

“Psh. Why are you apologizing?”

“'Cause I asked you to do it. I mean. There's always the question of comfort. On both ends.”

Taehyung shrugs. “Wouldn't have went with it if I wasn't comfortable with it.”

“Just sorry.”

“Don't be.” Taehyung scrunches his nose and shoves another bite into his mouth. “You're so tense. Like you haven't done this before.”

“Not... Not really. Not like this. I don't often...”

“Offer pancakes?” Taehyung supplies. Yeah, that's it. It definitely sounds better than I don't talk to the people I fuck.

“Yeah.” Jungkook sighs, feeling a little silly at how easily he meets Taehyung's smile with his own.

“Yeah, that was a bit weird,” Taehyung teases.

“Sorry.”

“Nah, don't be.” He stabs another portion of his pancakes, and Jungkook remembers he should be eating his own instead of just watching Taehyung like an idiot. “I like pancakes.”

It's not really about the pancakes, but Jungkook nods. “This is just...”

“Different?”

“I—Yeah, sure. Whatever. Different.”

“You know,” Taehyung says, reaching over for the plastic bottle of syrup. “You didn't have to make me pancakes. Could've just told me you wanted me to stick around.” His gaze locks with Jungkook's for a second, a pointed look. “You know I would've.”

Jungkook shrugs. Takes a bite of his pancakes, and chews it for a moment, just thinking. “Yeah, but. Who doesn't like pancakes?” And he grins, because it feels right.

It's a fact he'd known for a while, but Taehyung is nice. He's really seeing that. And though he wants to hate it he can't, because nearly everyone's got to be weak for such an outright charmer like Taehyung. Jungkook included.

“I have work,” Jungkook says almost regretfully, glancing at the clock. “In a few hours.”

“Mechanic's?”

“Yeah. It's kind of near the gym. Not really.”

Taehyung nods. “I know the one. They pay you well?”

“Eh. Well enough.” With his fork he absentmindedly draws lines through the thick syrup puddled on his plate, moving around what's left of his pancakes, and chuckles. “Not as well as you, clearly, being able to cough up two grand straight outta nowhere.”

“I just save well.”

“Where do you work?”

“Ah.” Taehyung rubs the back of his neck almost sheepishly. “Bookstore.”

Pressing his lips together, Jungkook sputters a laugh. “Bookstore?”

“What about it?” Taehyung challenges playfully.

“I dunno. One of the biggest underground boxers in the business. Working at a fucking bookstore.”

“Well sorry, asshole. Not all of us can be sexy, hardbody mechanics.”

“Not what I meant, Kim.”

“I know, I know.” Taehyung winks and waves it off. “Just weird to think?”

“...I guess, yeah. Weird to think.”

“It's fun, though. Working there.”

“Nice place?”

“Pretty nice. Quiet, but you know. We get a few regulars, keep my lonely ass company.” Taehyung sits up straighter. “You should come check it out sometime. I can get you free books.”

A stray blush creeps over Jungkook's cheeks, and he's not even sure why. “I dunno, man. I'm not much for books.”

“Neither was I.” Reaching over, Taehyung gently taps Jungkook's forearm with the back of his scuffed knuckles. “Bet I can make you a book nerd, Jeon. Go with that awkward nerd personality of yours.”

Jungkook scowls, but it softens considerably when he sees the glimmer in Taehyung's eyes, the almost childlike excitement. Scoffing, he rolls his eyes and swats Taehyung's hand away.

“Shut up. Eat your pancakes.”

Taehyung helps Jungkook wash the dishes. It feels domestic in an odd way, but Jungkook knocks it down a few pegs to Taehyung just being nice. He's never been a romantic, but even this feels cheap. A smoke between Taehyung's poised fingers, a half-contrite, half-worried smile as he holds the pack out to Jungkook.

“You smoke too much,” Jungkook says, leaning forward for Taehyung to light him. His hands smell like lemon dish soap.

“Tell me something new, Jeon.” A fresh ease falls over Taehyung's broad shoulders once his cigarette starts burning, and Jungkook fights the odd urge to reach out and pluck the stick and flatten it in the ashtray, replace its presence with his lips over Taehyung's. “And you need to buy your own lighter.”

“I'm trying to quit, remember?” Jungkook laughs around his cigarette.

“You don't quit by hanging around people like me.”

“Then maybe I should stop,” Jungkook says, and Taehyung meets him with a flat gaze. “Or maybe you should stop. You know, smoking kills, yada yada.”

Not smoking kills, as well. You ever hear that one? I read it somewhere. Got a friend that likes preaching that shit to me when I start coughing up a damn lung, that's what I tell him.”

“Sad fuck, whoever he is.”

“Eh, just pretentious. Artsy, kind of. He's the one that got me a job at that bookstore. Not surprising, really. Likes to rub that one in my face too, constantly.”

“I hate him already.”

Taehyung grins. Looks up to blow smoke toward the roof, eyelids fluttering shut, calm. The fluid curve of his neck is littered with red marks, and Jungkook's eyes fall over each one carefully, tracing them like constellations, satisfied with himself and this outcome. That's a first.

“Fuck, I'm tired,” Taehyung breathes. “Wanna stay here forever. You got a nice place, Jeon.”

“It's exactly like yours. Shitty. Cold.”

“Nah. It's comfortable, you know?”

Jungkook chuckles. He can hear the sound of cars whipping over the wet pavement outside. It must have rained last night while Jungkook was out cold, a warm body tucked against his and drowning out the rest of the world.

“We should get going,” Jungkook says after a while. Perched on Taehyung's fingers is his second cigarette, while Jungkook's savours the last of his first before crushing it in the ashtray.

“Ugh,” Taehyung groans and twirls in his stool. Stops to take a long drag, and then rests his head in his hand, elbow on the counter. “I'm too tired.”

“I've got work in like an hour, man. Get out of my house.” Jungkook walks over and prods his side.

“I can't walk,” Taehyung insists, giving Jungkook a pleading look. “My legs hurt.”

“What, one fuck and suddenly you're incapacitated? I worry for your sex life, Kim.”

“Ass.” Taehyung jabs Jungkook's arm and then snuffs out his cigarette butt in the ashtray, a thin wisp of smoke drifting up. “It's your fault for kicking me in the damn thigh. Twice.”

“Oh, yeah.” Jungkook snickers. “Sorry about that.”

“Jesus,” Taehyung says, and reaches out, using Jungkook's body as leverage to twist the stool around, and then rests his arms over his shoulders the best he can. “I'll go if you carry me.”

“I'm not your fucking wagon.”

“Yeah, well, I'm not your horse, but you still kicked me. So consider this your apology.”

“You're so lazy.” Jungkook shakes him off but Taehyung clings tighter, fingers now swivelled into the loose fabric of his shirt. As Taehyung pulls, he giggles, and Jungkook does too despite rolling his eyes.

“Come on, Prince Charming. Sweep me off my fucking feet, yeah?”

Someway, somehow, Jungkook ends up with Taehyung pressed against his back, chin dug into his shoulder, his hands beneath Taehyung's thighs clasped around his waist.

“Stop squeezing me, I'm not gonna drop you,” Jungkook complains halfway down the stairwell.

“I don't know that. You're shorter than me. Gotta earn my piggy back trust.”

“No I'm not.” Jungkook jostles Taehyung to the side, earning him a silly squeak and a pair of arms frantically coming tight around his neck.

“It's okay.” Taehyung pats Jungkook on the head once he's righted himself again. “If it does anything for your pride, you still make a pretty solid Prince Charming, shorter or not.”

“Stop calling me that or I'll drop you over the railing. Ain't your Prince Charming.”

Taehyung laughs. “So what are you then?” He doesn't give Jungkook time to answer, but it's okay, because he's not sure he would have had a good response anyway. “Onward!” Taehyung just calls, and digs his heels into Jungkook's thighs.

 


 

The coming weeks find Jungkook leaning against the musty hallway outside Jimin's door in a weak excuse for “formal wear”, a wrinkled white dress shirt tucked into a black pair of slacks and a tie around his neck that could look like silk if you're creative enough. His thumb methodically presses on each fingertip, index, middle, ring, pinkie, and back and forth. His other hand holds his shabby cell phone to his ear.

“Hurry up.”

“I know, I know, just let me finish this drink,” Taehyung's fuzzy voice says from the receiver. “Or...How about you just come in for a sec, man? We've got time.”

“No we don't.”

“You've got like four hours or something.”

“Kim—”

“Yeah yeah, just hold on. I'll—” There's a couple hollow bangs on the other end, some rustling. “I'll get the door.”

“No, we've got to get going—”

“Really,” Taehyung says as he swings the door open, his voice momentarily heard both in person and belatedly from the receiver before he hangs up. And it's even harder to say no like this, face-to-face, Jungkook met with the image of Taehyung and his mussed up hair, electricity bound by a boyish smile. “Just fifteen minutes.”

“The time—”

Ten minutes.”

“Tae—”

It doesn't take much convincing. It never does with Taehyung, a trend Jungkook's been noticing about himself.

On the single-seat couch is Jimin with his ass planted on Yoongi's lap, who grimaces and moves his face out of the way when Jimin opens his arms wide in a lazy air hug before dropping them back in his lap. He gives Taehyung and Jungkook a warm, drunk smile and a loud hey guys! when they walk in. The pale, reddened knuckles of Yoongi's thin fingers toy carefully between Jimin's thicker ones, just a casual gesture. They really do look caught up in one another. Jungkook can't help but wonder what it's like, feeling familiar fingers between fingers. An anchor or a hot air balloon.

“Psh. Who brought your ass in here?” Yoongi jerks his chin at Jungkook, but it's teasing, like things have always been between them. “Go back to jail, kid.”

“My fault.” Taehyung laughs and throws himself on the couch, plucking a half-empty bottle from the coffee table, presumably his. For a second his hand gently brushes the inside of Jungkook's palm, but instead moves up to grip him by the forearm to pull him to sit on the other side. When Jungkook is comfortable Taehyung kicks his feet up onto his lap, and Jungkook lets him.

“Sorry, coach. Crashing your party.” Jungkook gives him a shit-eating grin. This is how their arguments always end. If you ask Jungkook, though, this wasn't an argument at all. It was simply a classic case of “Yoongi being a bitch”.

“Yeah, yeah. How's your head?” Yoongi snickers.

“Fuck off.”

Those so-called ten minutes end up turning into an hour, and come to a point with Jungkook muttering something about being late and Taehyung trying to reason that they have all the time in the world.

“It's not your ass that's gonna get convicted.”

“You're not gonna get convicted 'cause you're late, you idiot. That's not how it works. Also you're not gonna be late”

Jungkook huffs, running up the stairs of Jimin's dingy apartment building two at a time. His hand is wrapped around Taehyung's forearm, fighting the urge to trail down to his hand as he pulls him upward behind him.

“Watch me, Kim. You'll be visiting me in state prison.”

“It's a damn infraction, Jeon. You're literally going in to pay a fine.”

“State prison,” Jungkook reiterates, shaking his head. They come up to ground level, leftover sunlight just barely bleeding through the clouds. “Gimme your keys.”

“Why are you driving?”

“'Cause you drank like five bottles.”

“Two.”

“Two too much.”

“Christ, Jeon.”

Still, Taehyung hands him his keyring.

“You got a soft spot for Rilakkuma or something?” Jungkook comments once they're sat in the car, jingling the keys and all those Rilakkuma key chains and a few other cute things he doesn't recognize.

Taehyung leans over and holds them steady. “Only this one's Rilakkuma. This one”—he points to a different one, a yellow bird—“is Kiiroitori. And this one”—and he points to another—“is Korilakkuma. And then this one Gudetama, which is like a different thing—”

“And this is Kumamon, yeah?” Jungkook points to a small black bear.

“You know it?”

“Nah, Yoongi does. Used to have it on his phone before Jimin gave him enough shit for it.”

“Psh. Of course that loser would be into Kumamon.”

Jungkook rolls his eyes and pointedly shakes the mess of key chains in front of Taehyung's face. “Right, Kim. Right.”

“Shut up.” Taehyung bats the keys out of his face and jabs a finger at the wheel. “Drive. Let's go get your ass convicted.”

 


 

“Told you we wouldn't be late.”

“Shut up.”

“Just saying. How much time we got?”

“About an hour.”

“Fuck,” Taehyung breathes in a puff of smoke. The window's cracked, but the car still feels stuffy. They're in the parking lot outside the small municipal courthouse, shadowed beneath the lot roof, the summer sun casting low light and leaving the streetlamps to do most of the work.

“You smoke too much,” Jungkook tells him again.

“It's my car, Jeon.” Taehyung's head falls back against the headrest, his seat dragged all the way back so he can sprawl his long legs in front of him in the narrow space beneath the dash.

My lungs you're ruining.”

“That was all you, Kook. All you.” Jungkook watches him speak, watches him smoke. And it's true. That Taehyung's a rather new development in his sad life, which is probably why things haven't been as shit in these recent weeks as they have been at other points. It's like Yoongi always says; not that there's anything wrong with you. It's just you could probably do better.

So there's nothing wrong with Jungkook. It's just Taehyung makes him better. That's a nice thought. Jungkook smiles and watches Taehyung smoke.

“You didn't even have to come along,” Jungkook says.

“I don't trust you with my car. You know what they say”—Taehyung makes a stupid pseudo-jazz-hands gesture with his hand that's not holding his smoke—“Jeon Jungkook. Killer in the ring. Breaker of bones. Crasher of cars.”

“Shut up.” Jungkook rolls his eyes. They both know why Taehyung came along. It can be nerve-wracking, no matter how many times you've done it, to face the music and pretend you're not the total piece of shit you've spent your whole life making yourself out to be. “Don't talk about the ring. I don't wanna think about that shit right now.”

“Bad memories?” Taehyung jokes. “I hear they got a real mean one, goes by the name of Kim Tae—”

“Shut up,” Jungkook says again, reaching into the cup-holders and grabbing an old Kit-Kat wrapper to throw at Taehyung. “Just... I bet Yoongi's gonna want to set up a fight soon.” Jungkook sighs and kicks his feet up on the dash, a bit to the side of the wheel because he's too tall for this cramped car. Anyone would be, actually. It's an absolute shit car, low roof and loose steering wheel and all.

“Do you wanna?” Taehyung glances over at him, jaw loose as his tongue sways the cigarette in his mouth back and forth before his lips close around it and he sucks.

“Eh,” is the best answer Jungkook's got. Anything else would probably sound petty.

“Work doesn't pay enough?”

“That's not it. Just.”

“Habit?”

A hesitation, tongue clicking between his teeth before Jungkook says, “Yeah. Bad habit.”

“I get it.” Taehyung chuckles, removing his cigarette from his mouth and popping his lips around the filter before he blows out the smoke. “Bad habits, Jeon. I get it.”

“Do you ever just...” Jungkook thinks about his words, but this is Taehyung he's here with, so it's not very necessary. “Wanna drop it?” he settles on saying, which isn't the most succinct but again, this is Taehyung. So he probably knows.

“Every day, Kook.”

Jungkook looks at him. “Fighting?”

“Every day.” Taehyung blows his smoke lazily toward the half-rolled window. “Smoking too. Every damn day.”

“Sometimes I wonder about Yoongi. Made it look so damn easy. Retiring.”

“You wanna?” Taehyung asks him, and Jungkook shrugs, clicking the toes of his boots together, the dirty heels smudging marks onto the stained dash. Then Taehyung settles farther into his seat, reclining it a little with muted, rattled clicks. “He's just old, that guy. Found solace in his stupid Jimin. Romance-out-the-ass type deal and suddenly he doesn't need anything else but lube and a tight ass.”

“Jesus,” Jungkook says, barking out a laugh before quickly clearing his head of that wonderful image. “You think it's 'cause we're young? Or... young-er?”

“Nah. Think it's 'cause we just haven't found that romance type deal yet.”

Jungkook shakes his head, scoffing, but he doesn't say anything else because the implication is pretty enough.

“You'll get there, Jeon. Other people have done it, grown up and found that fucking goodness in their lives or the world or whatever.”

Jungkook watches Taehyung snuff out his cigarette butt in the steel ashtray, then agrees, “We'll get there.”

A light grin from Taehyung is all it takes for nothing to feel like an imposing weight anymore. Then Taehyung's reaching over, fingers pulling gently at the fabric of Jungkook's dress shirt.

“What?”

“C'mere,” Taehyung insists.

“No, why?”

But Jungkook's throwing his leg over the console, slacks feeling too tight around his groin to really spread his legs effectively, but forcing it to work until he's shifting the rest of his weight over and plopping himself in Taehyung's lap. Jungkook quirks an eyebrow at him, but Taehyung shakes his head and kisses him.

“You seem stressed,” Taehyung tells him without pulling away, hands exploring, discovering.

“So? Gimme a smoke.”

“That's not what I meant.” Taehyung's hands move to rock Jungkook's hips slightly.

“What? Offering to suck my dick or something? Hell, why not? I'll take it.”

“Not what I meant, either.”

“You should still suck my dick.”

“That's not how romance works, Jeon,” Taehyung pulls back to say, hiding his laughter in a sigh.

“I don't do romance.”

“I can't suck your dick in the car.”

Jungkook frowns, and considers this for a moment, and amends. “You should suck my dick when we get home.”

Taehyung doesn't comment on Jungkook's easy word choice. Home, wherever that may be. Instead, he just smile and agrees that, yes, he'll suck Jungkook's dick when they get home. Still, Jungkook doesn't let up, and goes on to mouth over Taehyung's jawline.

“Do you have lube in this car, or am I wasting my time?”

“Psh. Of course I do.”

“Just checking. Varying sexual readiness, all that. I don't know where you fall on the spectrum.”

“For future reference, it tends to be on the 'too ready' side.”

“Noted,” Jungkook murmurs, wiggling to get comfortable and settle his weight in Taehyung's lap. “Beauty of youth, or something like that.”

“I don't know if I'd call it beauty, but sure.”

Jungkook's hips grind back and forth on Taehyung's lap, pressing the growing heat of his crotch against his. “Jesus. Are we really doing this in a car? Now?”

“Eh. Why not?” Tilting his chin down, Taehyung nuzzles Jungkook away from his jaw and slots their lips together in a sweet kiss. They're getting more and more familiar as they go on, and Jungkook's finding he likes it. Then Taehyung moves down, pressing kisses along Jungkook's neck as he tilts his chin up to allow him room. His pulse is quickening, and Taehyung smiles when he feels it against his lips.

“God, this is fucking trashy.” Leaning over, Jungkook rolls the window closed so they have some semblance of privacy. The parking lot roof casts a dark shadow and the lot itself is empty, but you never know.

“It'd be the funniest thing if we got caught. Tack a couple more zeros onto that fine you've got going.”

“You'd have to pay it too,” Jungkook grumbles.

“Technically I'm already paying it,” Taehyung says, reminding Jungkook that he's yet again indebted to Taehyung. Money's tight, the fine is a couple hundred, and Taehyung's too generous.

“Shut up. Whatever.” Guilt hangs in Jungkook's few words. “Thanks, also.”

“Cut it out man, you already said that like a billion times.”

“'Cause I mean it.”

“You know,” Taehyung says, bringing his hands under Jungkook's thighs and grunting as he jostles him, “you're a real sap when you wanna be.”

“Psh.” The muscles in Jungkook's core already feel tight, a shiver rippling through them when Taehyung runs his hands over his thighs. These slacks are too tight, and the button is digging into his lower belly. “Maybe I'm just nice.”

“I don't believe that for a second, but sure.”

Jungkook's fingers come up to loosen his tie just a bit, and then travel downward and undo the top few buttons of his shirt. The sheer collar folds limply over his collarbones.

“Your car's so fucking small,” he gripes as he tries to find a better position for his knees, knocking them repeatedly against the sides of the seat. With impatient hands he begins unfastening his slacks, a light relief coming over him as the pressure is taken off his hardening cock.

“At least I have a car.”

“I have one too, asshole. It's just shot to shit, so I keep it at the shop.”

“Can't you fix it?”

“Ugh. No. I need some parts I probably still couldn't afford if I sold my right arm.” Now his hands have moved on to Taehyung's fly, jerking when his fingernails get caught on the zipper in his haste. “Maybe I'll steal Yoongi's.”

“Aw, but then you'll ruin his and Jimin's stargazing plans, or whatever the fuck.”

Jungkook snorts. “You heard about that?”

“Yeah. Jimin won't shut up about it. Talking about how it's gonna be all romantic and shit.”

“Man, they're so good at being gay.” Jungkook sighs, his breath ghosting Taehyung's collarbones as he works at the buttons of his shirt to get it open without actually having to take it off. Lazy as always, Taehyung sits back and lets Jungkook continue with his subpar job of getting them naked enough to fuck. “Like, you ever think about that? Yoongi and Jimin. I've never met two people who are so damn good at being gay.”

“I think you mean being in love, but sure.”

“Yeah yeah, whatever. Love is gay anyways. All love. It's fucking stupid and gay and—” Jungkook slides back on Taehyung's lap to try to pull his pants down a bit, and when Taehyung lifts his hips to give him room, his lower back bangs against the dashboard. “Ah—fucking hell, ouch. Watch it, Kim.”

“Sorry,” Taehyung says offhandedly with a giggle, his large hands coming around Jungkook's waist to hold him steady. “Hey, do you think Yoongi and Jimin are good at car sex? Like, just as good as they are at being a couple?”

“Why?”

“'Cause we're doing a real shit job right now. Just wondering if they'd do it better.”

“Psh. Maybe you are. I'm an expert at car sex.”

“Really, Jeon.”

“I'm a mechanic, that's how it works. Banging hot babes in Maseratis and shit. Years of practice.”

“Maybe in your dreams.”

Jungkook huffs a laugh. “Yeah, maybe. In reality I'm getting your nasty ass in some '90s era Toyota, but I guess I'll just have to make do.”

“Sorry to disappoint.” By now Jungkook's got Taehyung's pants and boxers acceptably out of the way, his cock pulled out and flopped against his upper thigh. Wiggling to find room to lift his hips some, Jungkook works at his too-tight slacks until he hears a dangerous ripping sound from one of the seams.

“Fucking—”

“Here,” Taehyung says and reaches to the side of the seat, pulling it back the rest of the way so they have plenty of room before the dash.

“Thanks.” Jungkook turns halfway around to extend his legs into the driver's side, and kicks off his boots to get his pants off the rest of the way. Briefly checking them for tears, he tosses them into a pile on the seat along with his boxers before he fixes himself back in Taehyung's lap.

“This is such a pain in the ass,” he grumbles.

“Eh, at least you got me.” Popping the lid of the console compartment, Taehyung pulls out a condom and a packet of lube.

“Gross.” Jungkook scrunches his nose. “You got the ketchup-packet-looking ones.”

“Yeah well, I don't know how I feel about having a full bottle of lube in my car, so.”

“You just don't live hard enough, Kim.”

Adjusting his position in Taehyung's lap, Jungkook winces a little when Taehyung's sharp zipper digs into the bare skin of his ass, the undone metal teeth exposed. Still, he wiggles until he's comfortable because he's determined to make this work. There's really no situation too inopportune to be having sex with Taehyung, as he's learned over the past few weeks in varying settings.

“Jeez, look at that.” Grabbing his half-hard cock by the base, Jungkook slaps it a couple times against the lower portion of Taehyung's stomach. “Can't believe my dick's still sorta hard after talking about Jimin and Yoongi car-fucking and all that.”

Taehyung rolls his eyes. “It's like you said. Beauty of youth, I guess.”

“Beauty of youth.” Jungkook chuckles. “I mean, you're closer to thirty than you ever will be to twenty, but”—he glances playfully at Taehyung's unamused stare—“beauty of youth nonetheless.” And he carefully takes the condom and packet of lube from his hands and places them on the console before he spits on his hand, kissing Taehyung again.

Sticking his hand down to Taehyung's crotch, the angle of his arm slightly awkward from being caught between their chests, he grabs Taehyung's cock gently by the base and rubs his saliva over the soft skin that connects down to his balls. The skin there is nice and tight and pink, a good pair of twink balls if Jungkook's ever seen any.

“I like your dick and all that,” Jungkook says against Taehyung's lips. “Don't think I've ever actually told you that.”

“Mm.” Taehyung shrugs. “I know it well enough.”

Jungkook huffs. “Jesus, never mind. Forget I said that.”

Taehyung's cock is hot in his hand, twitching occasionally as Jungkook rubs his thumb over the slipperiest part, spreading his spit along the underside. His own is quickly hardening in interest, blood rushing like lava below his navel, slow and scorching.

That's just one thing he likes about Taehyung. The sex isn't always mean. It can be of course, and it's incredibly nice when it is, but Jungkook's found that there's something about a casual fuck like this that can be just as enjoyable. Maybe it's the intimacy part, though that might be a bit of a long shot. Maybe it's just that sex with Taehyung is nice in general.

“Fuck, Kook, that feels good,” Taehyung murmurs, his hands sliding up his back and pulling his shirt up, the fabric wrinkled from being tucked tight beneath his waistband. His fingers thread into Jungkook's hair, falling in soft, unmade curls over his forehead. When Taehyung pulls, Jungkook makes an inarticulate sound in his throat, his hips bucking forward so the tip of his cock drags over Taehyung's stomach, his shirt hanging open to his sides.

“Touch me,” Jungkook mumbles.

Taehyung hums and curls his hand around Jungkook's cock, a little dry save for the clamminess of his palm and the sweat that's collected in the folds where Jungkook's legs meet, as well as from the warm skin of his balls. It chafes a bit as Taehyung strokes him, but not noticeably. The one hand Taehyung has in Jungkook's hair massages his scalp and then trails down to cup around the side of his neck.

“Put,” Jungkook begins, focusing too much on keeping his hips from humping into Taehyung's hand like a fucking dog to speak articulately. “Put them, ah—together. You know, like.”

Catching Jungkook's lip with his teeth and eliciting a quick jolt from him, Taehyung snickers and says, “What?”

“You know.” Jungkook pulls back a fraction and glances down between their chests, now rising and falling a bit quicker and flushed a bit redder beneath their shirts. “Dicks. Like,” he says, and pulls at Taehyung's fingers to make room to hold their cocks flush against each other.

“Oh—” Taehyung stutters, and his eyes stay locked on the tip of his cock pressed against Jungkook's, pink and pretty. Jungkook wraps his hand around Taehyung's and guides it up and down their shafts, squeezing to encourage him to tighten his slack grip. “Fuck Jungkook, you're real hard,” Taehyung breathes.

“Come on,” Jungkook urges, and his hips jump at sparse intervals, getting sensitive. Lifting his palm, he spits on it again and smears his saliva all over the hot skin of their lengths before placing his hand back over Taehyung's larger one. “Fuck, your hands are big. I've really wanted to do this with you, 'cause like dude, your hands—ugh, fuck yeah, that, do that more.”

Taehyung chuckles, twisting his hand on the upstroke and squeezing tighter as he gets to the tips, the sensitive skin of Jungkook's glans pressing against Taehyung's, foreskin sliding back and forth. The saliva has spread everywhere and it's getting on the outside of Taehyung's knuckles as Jungkook keeps his hand placed over his, cloudy and bubbly at points as Taehyung's strokes up and down. The squelching is a little nasty, too, but Jungkook can live with all that.

A bead of precome wells at the slit of Jungkook's cock as Taehyung tugs upward, and it spills over onto the head of Taehyung's.

“Shit,” Jungkook whispers, voice tight as he feels the warm moisture leaching between them. And Taehyung's getting wetter, too, leaving a pretty stretch of fluid across the space between their cocks. A quiet moan rumbles in Jungkook's chest and he's torn between letting his eyes flutter shut to enjoy the pleasure and keeping his gaze on the ridiculously erotic image of his shaft against Taehyung's, held firmly together by their hands.

Ungh—” Jungkook whimpers almost pathetically, his hips pushing up to fuck into the sensation. It's mostly Taehyung's hand doing the work, with Jungkook's just held encouragingly over his rough knuckles, but that's okay because Taehyung's fingers can wrap around enough to do a fine job of getting them both off.

“You're not planning on coming like this, are you?” Taehyung teases, briefly bringing his thumb up to rub the pad over Jungkook's slit and smear the collecting precome everywhere. Watching that, Jungkook's breath hitches.

“N—not really.” A small, self-deprecating laugh bubbles up from his lips. His hips keep twitching despite him trying his best to keep still, to make to this easier for Taehyung.

“You know I'd never fucking drop it if you did. Busting a nut this quick just frotting your dick up against mine.”

When Jungkook laughs it's a quick gust of breath, giggles in between heady panting.

“Shut up and let me enjoy this. Your damn mouth's always open, I swear.”

“You like my damn mouth, Jeon,” Taehyung accuses playfully. His free hand comes around from tracing patterns against the sweaty skin on the back of Jungkook's neck to trail down his chest, gliding over the curve of a pectoral before toying the warm pads of his fingers over Jungkook's nipple.

“I like your mouth when it's shut or when my dick's in it. I never said jack about liking the garbage it spews.” Despite these words, Jungkook's an unravelled little mess rocking back and forth in Taehyung's lap.

“Alright baby, let's keep the shit-talking to a minimum. I have feelings too,” Taehyung murmurs, and watches with delight as Jungkook's back arches into the teasing pressure of his nipple being played with. His cock jerks in Taehyung's hand each time he swivels his thumb around the bud, and helpless moans fall from his lips when he tweaks it gently.

“Debatable.” That already-weak word ends in a rushed groan with Taehyung tightening his grip at the base of their cocks and dragging his hand up slowly.

“Are we gonna fuck or is this gonna end with a shitty handie and a wrist cramp?”

Grunting, Jungkook collects himself enough to bat Taehyung's hands away, quickly reaching for the lube he'd left on the console.

“You're such a whiny bitch, Kim. There's nothing wrong with a shitty handie in the right circumstances.” After a few seconds of fumbling with the packet of lube with his spit-slick hand, Jungkook resorts to ripping it open with his teeth and grimaces when some of the bitter substance gets on his tongue.

“You've almost got me convinced. Almost.” Then Taehyung pats the meatiest part of Jungkook's hip with a light slapping sound. “Up up.”

Frowning and mildly indignant, Jungkook fixes the set of his knees and feet and lifts his hips off Taehyung's lap. Being in this position puts a mild strain on his calves, but some discomfort is to be expected when it comes to car sex. Spreading the lube over his fingers and warming it quickly between the pads, Jungkook reaches behind him and slides one finger from the top of his crack and down into the warm space between his asscheeks. Taehyung's hand digs into the flesh of one cheek and pulls it to the side to give him better access, leaving Jungkook with a free hand to place on Taehyung's shoulder to support himself. He takes the time to rub the lube over his rim before pressing one finger into himself.

“Mm—ah, fuck.” Jungkook grunts, wiggling his ass and working his finger deeper. “This is cheap lube, isn't it?”

“Quit whining, you fucking princess.” Taehyung rolls his eyes and releases his grip on Jungkook's asscheek to give it a good smack, making Jungkook's breath catch before going back to kneading it.

Jungkook grumbles and keeps moving his finger, shifting it back and forth by the bottom knuckle and pressing at the muscular folds of his inner walls.

As if to spur him on, Taehyung curls one hand around Jungkook's leaking cock and leaves the other on his ass, almost supporting him. Jungkook's a little thankful for it. His calves are starting to ache.

“I hate—ah God, I hate fucking in cars.”

“Mm,” Taehyung just hums in acknowledgement, running his thumb up the vein on the underside of Jungkook's erection and feeling the heavy pulse as his blood pumps. “You just love to complain, don't you?”

“Just. Filling the air.”

“That's my job.”

“Look at that. You're rubbing off on me.”

“God, I hope it doesn't go both ways. I'd hate to have any trace of awkward-Jeon in me.”

“Sh—shut up.” His voice is breathy at this point, words catching at the most inopportune times. Taehyung's hand is casually pumping up and down Jungkook's shaft, thumb flicking over the slit and playing with the dripping precome, the spill slow and steady because Jungkook always leaks so much. And he shoves in a second finger, sighing when his rim stretches to accommodate the digits.

“Tick tock,” Taehyung murmurs with a smirk. The glare Jungkook gives him is weak, his eyes glassy and his lips delicately parted. Still, wanting to hurry up as well, Jungkook scissors those fingers inside him, his spine arching and his ass sticking out farther back to give his wrist a better angle. Then he curls them, prodding at his insides and wanting more.

“Oh, fuck—nnh, yeah.” He moans when he finds his prostate, shoving his ass back onto his fingers to press the pads right up against the gland. His rim tightens forcibly in pleasure, and he has to consciously relax it to keep working his fingers up against that spot. Each crook of his knuckles makes his cock jerk in Taehyung's hand, precome oozing down the sides of his rock hard shaft.

He jams in a third finger a bit too soon, shuddering and whining at the painful burn.

“Jesus,” Taehyung mutters, his hand slowing its stroking as he watches Jungkook make himself feel good. “Jesus, Kook, you look so fucking pretty.”

It takes a lot not to let out the loudest, stupidest moan at that. Instead, Jungkook just shakes his head almost unnoticeably, continuing to push his ass back needily onto his fingers. Part of him wishes it were Taehyung doing this because his fingers get mad deep, but he doesn't want to stop either. Jungkook finds himself holding his breath with each crook and prod at his prostate, only to let it all out in a gust and sharply inhale again when he starts to feel lightheaded.

“Fuck, fuck,” he chokes out, his eyebrows furrowed. When he open his eyes to look at Taehyung, he realizes they have watered up enough to make his vision blurry.

“You good?” Taehyung asks, and it's partly in impatience and partly because Jungkook looks so fucking lost, pupils blown and cheeks bright pink, chest heaving. His thighs quiver from holding himself up for this long, in such an uncomfortable position.

“Yeah, yeah, I'm—” Jungkook trips over his words, frantically removing his fingers from his asshole with a filthy squelching sound. The emptiness that follows is unpleasant, and it only fuels the frantic fumbling of his motions. “Okay, God, I'm ready, fuck me, fuck me—”

Grabbing the condom he'd left on the console, he rolls it over Taehyung's cock and coats it with what's left in the packet of lube before throwing the plastic into the cup holders. Taehyung's hands come around Jungkook's hips to support him, and as Jungkook reaches beneath him to line Taehyung's cock up to his hole his own gives a violent throb. He needs this.

Jungkook grunts as he sinks down, Taehyung's girth stretching him wider than his fingers had and giving him a pleasant shock running up his spine. “Tae, oh, oh,” he whimpers, hands coming up to hold on to Taehyung's hard shoulders, not even waiting once he gets down to the hilt before beginning to rock back up.

“Fuck, Kook,” Taehyung grits, his grip tightening and probably leaving fingerprint bruises on Jungkook's hips. Leaning forward, he mouths along Jungkook's neck and trails open-mouthed kisses down until he gets to a nipple. Then he latches onto it, loving how one of Jungkook's hands go from his shoulders to holding onto the back of his head, fingers threading desperately into his hair.

“Shit, shit, Tae, that feels good, oh God you're so big, fuck—hn,” he babbles, a shiver pulling through his spine as he arches forward, Taehyung's tongue laving wet circles around his nipple. “Oh, oh, please.” He whimpers when Taehyung moves to the other one, and although he can feel the smirk as Taehyung licks at his nipple he doesn't do much about his cocky attitude other than another quick pull of his hair.

Taehyung peppers kisses up Jungkook's neck, occasionally using his teeth to scrape a quick mark of reddened skin just for satisfaction's sake. Then pulling back, he rests his head on the headrest and watches as Jungkook comes apart. “God, baby—you feel so good, so fucking good on my cock. Shit, shit—"

Jungkook's shaking. All this is putting a strain on his thighs and calves, and he's barely holding himself up. Not to mention that it feels good, so much so that he can barely think about anything aside from the motion of his hips to keep Taehyung's cock ramming right up against his prostate so perfectly.

“Fuck, Tae, hold me up, I can't—ungh—” Taehyung obliges, holding Jungkook steady with his hands almost below his asscheeks, fingers pushing into the supple flesh. Helping to reestablish Jungkook's frantic rhythm, he bucks his hips up and encourages him to start moving up and down quicker. In response, Jungkook moans loudly and digs his fingernails into Taehyung's shoulders for purchase, leaving marks.

“Like this, baby?”

“Yeah, I—oh—”

“You like that?” Taehyung grunts as he fucks into him. “You like bouncing on my cock, baby?”

Jungkook whines and nods, licking his dry lips and trying his best to get his words out. “Fuck—mm-hm, it feels so good, feels—oh, Tae, there, yes—”

“Fuck, yeah.” Taehyung squeezes his eyes shut, his long hair falling over his eyes. The brief thought that he should get a haircut soon before he starts looking like Shaggy passes through Jungkook's head, but leaves just as soon as all his other thoughts had. It's hard to focus when he's getting fucked this good. And no one's ever fucked him like Taehyung does.

Hah—ah, faster, faster,” Jungkook demands, his voice trembling. “Mm, Tae, yes yes—”

“Shit, baby, you take my cock so well, there you go, just like that,” Taehyung says, his breath rushing over Jungkook's skin as the boy practically squirms, the flush on his cheeks darkening even more.

His erection curves up, hot and red and stupidly hard like it always gets when Taehyung's cock is in him, that thick tip dragging along his inner walls and pressing into the spongy gland deep inside. Jungkook's cock rubs against Taehyung's lower belly as Taehyung rocks into him, smearing a sheen of precome over his tan skin and between the lines of his abs that show even more prominently as he bucks up into Jungkook's tight asshole.

“More, c'mon Tae, more.” Jungkook tries his hardest to meet Taehyung's movement despite his weak, shuddering body, desperate to keep up this tempo they have going. At a particularly rough thrust, Jungkook's back seizes, his body almost collapsing against Taehyung's as he melts into the pleasure. “There, oh please Tae, th—there, don't stop, don't stop.”

Agh, fuck babe, I've got you—feel so good, shit.” The nasty, wet sound of Taehyung's cock punching into Jungkook's hole resounds through the car, and the metal body and the wheels creak and groan beneath their movements.

“Tae, oh oh, Tae I'm gonna come—nnh, I'm gonna—” The backs of Jungkook's thighs slap against the tops of Taehyung's as he bounces in his lap. At points it seems like he's going to hit his head on the roof, but he's not thinking clearly enough to worry about that. Each brutal thrust tightens the coil below his navel more and more, a furious heat that slowly spreads through his entire body and makes him feel like he's gonna fucking implode.

“Shit yeah, babe, go on.” Taehyung snarls in his ear and Jungkook is gone, because Taehyung fucks him so well and he loves when Taehyung lets the voracious parts of him come through, loves how he handles Jungkook no matter the mood of the situation, whether it be rough sex over the hard surface of a desk or silly, casual car sex like now.

“A—ah, oh God—” Jungkook sobs out a loud moan, his sweaty forehead dropping onto Taehyung's shoulder and he blows his load against Taehyung's lower belly, his cock throbbing and twitching. He pants hard, orgasm making him dizzy, his asshole clenching and relaxing repeatedly around Taehyung's cock as he fucks Jungkook through it. Jungkook's hot come dribbles downward over Taehyung's skin.

“Come for me,” Jungkook pleads, continuing to rock his pelvis onto Taehyung's cock when he's collected himself enough to do so. "Fuck babe, show me how good it feels, come for me, God—”

“Yeah, Jungkook, oh Jungkook,” Taehyung grits through his teeth, his hands digging painful bruises into Jungkook's hips as he slams him down onto his cock, once, twice, hips stuttering and violent when his orgasm hits him hard. He growls low in his throat, curses falling from his lips, and Jungkook shudders and revels in the feeling of the hot pulse of his cock through the condom as he comes.

Taehyung's breathing is harsh and shallow, and Jungkook rolls his hips and presses quick kisses along Taehyung's collarbone as they both struggle to even out their heaving chests.

“Fuck,” Jungkook manages after a while and lifts his pelvis shakily, gritting his teeth and grunting when Taehyung's cock slips out of him and leaves him empty.

“Damn condoms,” Taehyung mutters, taking it off and tying it before looking around for a place to throw it out. He settles on rolling the window open and tossing it onto the parking lot paving.

“Gross. And illegal.” Jungkook scrunches his nose.

“Not my problem. Also, remember to get us both tested soon. I wanna fuck you raw.”

“Gross,” Jungkook says again. “And what if one of us fucks someone else?”

“Good question,” Taehyung just says carelessly and rolls his eyes. Then he smiles at Jungkook and it makes something warm bubble up in his chest. A different type of inside-out feeling from getting his brains fucked out two seconds ago. Still a pleasant one though.

“Can I ask you something?” Jungkook asks.

“What's that?” It's weird that it doesn't feel weird, how feather-light it happens, but Taehyung's hands sluice comfortably over Jungkook's hips, press just over the cut of bone. Lifting a hand, Jungkook reaches forward and gingerly pokes at the blunt, white scar along Taehyung's brow.

“When you got this... did you win?”

“Why?”

“I've always wondered.”

Taehyung grins, only a small sliver of teeth showing, mellow like none of that really matters. The corner of his right lateral incisor is chipped, something which Jungkook's just recently learned. “I did.”

And Jungkook kisses him, just once. A simple thing that still makes him shiver. It's not the answer he cared about, but the moment, the fragment of knowledge. One more, one more. There's a lot to learn about Kim Taehyung.

Being careful of the roof of the car, Jungkook climbs back into his seat. They're quiet for a moment as they fumble with the aftermath, Taehyung cleaning off Jungkook's come from his chest and buttoning his shirt back up, Jungkook checking his own for any stains before doing the top few buttons back up and pulling his pants and shoes on. Just to look mildly presentable again.

Reaching over, Taehyung's hands move to the knot of Jungkook's tie, and he goes still to let him adjust it.

“Can't you tie a tie properly? Jesus.”

“I'm not one for fancy, if you haven't noticed.”

“This isn't fancy. This is you paying a damn ticket because you 'disturbed the peace'. That's how the world works.”

“Fuck how the world works. I'm not even thirty. I wanna go back to playing Pokemon and stuff, you know, worrying about whether my friend would find a Pikachu in Viridian Forest before I did.” Jungkook rolls his eyes. “I'm too young for this shit.”

Taehyung laughs. “But you're still getting older.”

“I'd rather call it growing up.” Then Taehyung fiddles with the edges of Jungkook's tie, checking the folds before he sits back. It's not ironed right and there's a stain here and there if you look close enough. “I look like a dweeb in this.”

“You look fine. Amazing, if it means anything,” Taehyung says. Jungkook scrunches his nose to hide a grin. “I've always liked a man in a tie.”

“Even if he can't tie it right?”

Taehyung shrugs. “It adds character.”

“Thanks for the pity points, I guess. I'll take 'em.” Tilting the rear-view mirror, Jungkook fixes the strands of his hair. “Do I look courthouse worthy?”

“You look like you just had public sex in your man's shitty Toyota.”

Jungkook snorts. “Good enough, I guess.”

Before he steps out of the car, Taehyung catches him by the hem of his sleeve and fixes the button of the cuff. “You're a mess, Jeon.”

“I know.” And he laughs breezily. “I'll get better. No worries.”

 


 

Jungkook spends about fifteen minutes waiting in line, tapping the toe of his boot against the polished floor and cursing himself for not remembering to wear formal—or at least formal looking—shoes. Aside from that it goes over pretty well. He's not even sure why he was nervous. Doing this is nothing new.

“Thank you,” he says to the lady through the plastic, handing the cheque through the slot.

And she nods at him and it's done and now he owes Taehyung a couple more hundred. That's not the worst thing.

Jungkook's standing to the side of the hall, fumbling with the stubborn button of his wallet when he feels someone come up behind him. It doesn't even make him jump. With a newfound ease, a trickling calm, he just gives a content sigh and relaxes into the touch. A pair of wiry arms wrapping around his waist, a quick brush of a kiss over his neck, a chin resting gently on his shoulder.

“So? How'd it go, Prince Charming?”