it’s hoseok that convinces taehyung to get one, his very own assistant in miniature, delicate wrists and feathery hair. taehyung is skeptical at first, because what if he breaks it? but the shopkeeper assures him that they’re built to last and very durable.
taehyung doesn’t really trust the proprietor's guarantee though, she looks like she just wants the thing off her hands, so he decides to be extra careful with his new friend.
except all of taehyung’s efforts to keep jeongguk safe yield completely fruitless once he learns of jeongguk’s awkwardly blundering nature. more than twice taehyung has to hook a pinky around jeongguk’s petit arm or pick jeongguk up around his tiny waist and pull him back from the lip of his table lest jeongguk topples over the edge and disintegrates into powdery glass.
“sit still,” taehyung scolds, time and time again.
“i will,” jeongguk promises, hands clasped.
sometimes, while taehyung works at his desk, jeongguk potters around the inkwell and examines the specks of dust filtering in the sunlight that slants onto the wood and tries to catch the pinpricks of dust with his cupped hands. he isn’t exactly as much of a help as far as glassmen go and most of the time does more harm than good.
jeongguk will stir the ink as instructed, steadily clockwise and not too jerkily, until taehyung turns his back for one second only to find jeongguk has upturned the inkwell. taehyung might be mad if it weren’t for how sadly jeongguk looks at the indigo splattered on his palms.
jeongguk cuts paper and helps sew bindings, his little fingers nimble when they want to be, but disastrous when they don’t cooperate and after jeongguk pokes his thumbs thrice with the needle even while wearing his thimble, taehyung takes away his blunt scissors and yellow thread forever.
after taehyung stops requesting his assistance, jeongguk wiles away his time on taehyung’s workbench, pulling out scraps of old leather from taehyung’s mess of parchment and piling the softer ones into a bundle where he’ll settle down to watch taehyung. maybe once or twice jeongguk might have worried that taehyung would get rid of him. he tries his best but sometimes he thinks taehyung made a mistake in picking him on that fateful day, overlooking jimin’s translucent red hair and yoongi’s dozing figure.
occasionally, jeongguk will find it in his willpower to do a bit of cleaning, and when he does, he scurries around the haphazardly stacked sheafs of papers, dragging the ones taehyung deems rubbish to the border of the desk he inhabits, and with a small oomph, forces the discarded matter over the void and watches in satisfaction when it hits its mark in the bin.
but mostly, jeongguk just watches taehyung, nestled in his pyramid of scavenged leather and head propped up on his elbows.
he studies the sweep of taehyung’s eyelashes fluttering and the faint line between taehyung’s brow and the fluidity of taehyung’s hands as taehyung works. jeongguk falls in love somewhere in between the hours of desk tidying and paper cutting and ink stirring, his heart adrift at sea.
one day, taehyung finds jeongguk sitting cross-legged in the middle of an open book, head lowered and eyes moving in the direction of the words.
jeongguk looks mildly ruffled when taehyung pets his wispy bangs, cheeks colouring like they sometimes do when taehyung is out and jeongguk sneaks too much of his red wine.
“alice in wonderland,” taehyung reads, curiously.
jeongguk finds it wondrously amazing that alice could become big and small with a simple potion. maybe if he were big, he would be more helpful to taehyung. or maybe, maybe taehyung wouldn’t mind being small, maybe the two of them could be small together. there is enough room in jeongguk’s matchbox bed to hypothetically fit both of them, he thinks.
but for all the magic that exists in his world, jeongguk finds it extremely unfortunate that he has never heard of such a thing, a growing and shrinking potion.
taehyung decides jeongguk is looking a bit scruffy these days, so he boils some water in a kettle and tips it into a chipped tea cup that he finds while rummaging through his cupboards for something jeongguk won’t drown in.
jeongguk wants bubbles and taehyung can’t refuse when jeongguk sticks out his bottom lip like that, so the small bath ends up filled to the brim with soap bubbles and jeongguk slops water all over the counter when he clambers out, plodding around in a scrap of fabric as a makeshift towel and leaving wet footprints wherever he goes.
“my book,” jeongguk chants, “my book,” and taehyung isn’t sure why jeongguk is so attached to alice, but jeongguk’s eagerness is rather endearing.
there are nights where taehyung will get in bed and jeongguk will already be there, glass cheeks looking almost soft in their roundness.
“can i sleep with you?”
and taehyung will scoop him up with a laugh, plop him down in his own bed crafted from an empty matchbox. jeongguk would give taehyung the most rueful look.
“you’re too small. i’ll crush you.”
and jeongguk will clamber into his matchbox with a mutinous expression that suggests otherwise. the bed taehyung made him is nice, but he feels distant looking at taehyung from his place on the side table, lonely in his cardboard box. he punches the cotton ball underneath his head into a more comfortable shape and rolls over.
when the lights are out and taehyung’s snores reach jeongguk’s ears, he creeps quietly to the edge of taehyung’s bedside table and gauges the distance from his position to taehyung’s sleeping face before taking a heart thumping leap across the abyss.
he lands in an air pocket in the sheets and struggles for a moment to untangle himself. taehyung’s nose is directly above the footholds jeongguk finds to climb up and every breath taehyung exhales tousles jeongguk’s hair.
taehyung’s face is softer than jeongguk’s cotton ball and blanket combined.
“if i wasn’t so small.”
jeongguk flops onto his back, taehyung’s cheek pillowy beneath him.
“if i wasn’t so small,” he muses.
“if i wasn’t so small, would you love me?”