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You Were My Versailles At Night

Work Text:

xx

 

beaver:
I miss you.

seen, 17:46 16/07/29

 

xx.i

 

smoky:
I miss you.

seen, 02:34 16/08/12

i

Jeongguk is but a mere, a mere, fan. He’s just a normal human being, turning twenty one this coming September, majoring in Photography and just trying to live his life to the fullest. Nothing special can be said about him but he’s okay with that. Being normal isn’t a pain; in fact, it’s good— though if he really wanted, perhaps tried hard enough and joined a music agency, said yes to that offer years ago, he would have already been one of those idols making their way to the top in the Hallyu scene.

But, alas, Jeongguk is but a mere fan; a fanboy and an owner of a fansite dedicated to BTS’ own vocalist, pianist and visuals, Kim Taehyung. Sometimes, Jeongguk lays late at night, thinking of how he’d have met Taehyung already if he’s pursued the idol life but he comes to the conclusion that it wouldn’t have been the same. He thinks his feelings wouldn’t be this intense— he wouldn’t have been this infatuated towards a boy with a soulful voice, a rectangular smile, and a heart of gold.

Who knows though; because Jeongguk can also picture himself liking Kim Taehyung in all the parallel and alternative universes that his own self comes up while sitting on a bench in the park, early morning fog clearing slowly, camera in his hand and ready to capture anything that captures his interest. Although no one, Jeongguk means No One, will ever beat Kim Taehyung in capturing Jeongguk’s attention in a heart beat. His best friend slash hyung slash future business partner for a Lamb Skewer restaurant, can attest to that.

His infatuation towards Taehyung starts when he’s scouring Youtube for quality song covers. He ends up on Taehyung’s cover of Someone Like You by Adele and he’s stumped by the deep voice, gravely yet has a full grasp of the pitches that he can reach, the falsettos he can deliver and the emotions— the emotions dripping from the singer has left Jeongguk awestruck.

That is the start of his admiration.

Now Jeongguk’s intense emotion from the band’s first year of being formed has simmered to something akin to a proud father— or perhaps, mother. Jeongguk still goes to concerts when he has time, taking pictures of Taehyung and sometimes other members, then posts them on his site that gets more appreciation than he thinks he should. He’s not even that active anymore, having a hard time putting effort into being a fan when his university insists on drowning him in last minute essays and projects (it’s his fault. Procrastination is a curse). Still, he keeps the site neat, posting old unreleased pictures, hashtag throwback, and when he’s got time, he goes to any event that he can. Or that he’s allowed to.

Yoongi likes to call him whipped when he comes home in the middle of the night, exhausted from attending an event with BTS performing late, saying,

"Fulfilled your fanboy duties already? Wow, that was fast."

In which Jeongguk retaliates with withholding the take out lamb skewer Yoongi explicitly asks of him to buy before he takes off to the event earlier.

Sometimes, Yoongi drags him out of his apartment forcefully, tugging him to the nearest club to socialize with, in Yoongi’s words, attainable people who’ll appreciate you more than Kim Taehyung ever would and yeah, those words stings because Jeongguk likes Taehyung more than his idol persona, actually likes the boy behind the foolish smiles, the flirty words and the heart stopping winks. But they’re also true so he lets Yoongi shove him in the middle of the dance floor, pushing a glass of beer on his hand, before he’s swallowed into the crowd that smells like alcohol and sex and The Good College Life.

On a good day, with a group project that he has to do alone because the other members are shitty As Fuck, Jeongguk sits in front of his laptop, textbooks beside the device and printed articles scattered on the side, the floor and on top of his bowl of cold ramen. He tries to finish the project but Yoongi, who’s visiting again catches him staring at pictures of Taehyung that he has taken, unreleased and only his for the keeping.

With a snort and a roll of his eyes, Yoongi spits, "Fucking loverboy."

Jeongguk whips his head to Yoongi’s direction, sticks his tongue out and secretly messes the order of the older’s music sheets when he’s not paying attention, causing Yoongi to play a Beethoven piece on the piano in a non-chronological order and in the most horrid sound ever heard.

Despite their antagonistic relationship, banters bordering on insulting each other’s talents, Jeongguk is still thankful for Yoongi’s existence in his miserable life because it’s Yoongi who stays up at night, waiting for Jeongguk to come home with a cold dinner on the table and a Welcome home, brat after Jeongguk has fulfilled his fanboy thirst for one Kim Taehyung.

So yes, Jeongguk is just a fan. Nothing special, just normal.

And he’s a fan of Kim Taehyung.

He might also is in like with the musician.

Either way.

ii

"Thank you everyone! I love you! Be careful going home, okay?"

A drop of sweat falls from a wet clump of hair, trailing down the side of Jeongguk’s face and disappearing past the neckline of his oversize white shirt. He lets out a breath and wipes the side of his face with the back of his hand.

He feels alive.

His eyes takes in the sight of Taehyung, long fingers wrapped around the microphone and lips pressed on it, saying words of goodbye and encouragement to his fans. To Jeongguk. It makes his heart ache just a tad bit.

But Jeongguk is also happy; happy that Taehyung is happy and not pulling a fainting act, unlike months ago. He’s also glad that he gets to attend this concert, the last concert BTS is having in Seoul before they go on a world tour and leave the country for a few weeks— even months.

Another breath of air escapes him and he grins towards the stage. He smiles wide, bunny teeth showing as he watches Taehyung wave goodbye, almost dropping his mic first and then actually dropping his mic when he waves too eagerly which prompts the crowd to laugh and for Taehyung’s cheeks to rise in an even deeper blush, lips blooming into an embarrassed but still as endearing smile.

Jeongguk watches him, enamored. The light passes his face, and for a brief moment, Taehyung catches his gaze. Jeongguk freezes; smile, body, heart; he might as well be malfunctioning. But then the moment ends and Jeongguk convinces himself that no, Taehyung has not been looking at him and that was just a figment of his overactive imagination.

Jeongguk has always been a dreamer.

When the band leaves the stage, the crowd starts to dwindle, taking Jeongguk with them. He finally inhales a breath of fresh air once outside, gulping large amounts of it and trying to rid himself of strong sweet perfumes that sticks to his shirt, his sensitive nose twitching when he takes a sniff and still smells the stench.

It’s worth it.

Walking a ways from the crowd that’s hoping to catch a glimpse of the band when they leave, Jeongguk slumps his body beside the cold concrete of the arena, leaning his head back and letting the wind ruffle his hair, drying the sweat matted on his forehead. Adrenaline is still pumping in his veins and his heart is still trying to calm down from the rush of participating in such a lively concert.

Jeongguk recalls the scene just a few minutes ago, the picture of Taehyung staring at him, square in the eyes like he recognizes Jeongguk and is trying to pierce a hole through Jeongguk’s skull (heart). He tells his delusional self that it’s true but he knows it’s not because— that’s just crazy.

He’s not fucking crazy. Not that crazy anyways.

Sighing in defeat, Jeongguk fishes a pack of cigarette inside his pocket, simultaneously unveiling a lighter. He pops one in between his lips, lights it in the next second and inhales the nicotine, letting it relax his body and mind, ridding him of stray thoughts that’s trying to fool the fuck out of him.

He’s in the middle of his second cigarette when the door a few steps away from him bangs loudly against the wall. A figure comes out and Jeongguk doesn’t have to squint to know who it is.

Dark hair, tall figure, lithe form and confident strides.

Kim Taehyung.

But Taehyung isn’t paying any attention to Jeongguk who’s turned his body in his direction, wide doe eyes staring at him, surprised at the turn of events. Seriously, what the fuck. He can’t be this lucky but apparently, he is.

"Excu—" Jeongguk starts and promptly chokes on the smoke. He’s coughing, wheezing as he tries to take in much needed air. Even after that commotion, Taehyung still hasn’t seen him, causing the idol to bulldoze through Jeongguk; or at least, tries to bulldoze through him before letting out a surprised squeak, a fuck!, the end of Jeongguk’s cigarette missing Taehyung’s face by an inch. Jeongguk panics for that brief moment, heart stuttering in its beat at the thought of tainting Taehyung’s flawless face.

Eyes full of rage pierces through Jeongguk’s own and his breath hitches. He doesn’t know why Taehyung’s mad but the sight of him like this, agitated and perhaps ready to punch a wall, hopefully not Jeongguk, has Jeongguk swallowing spit audibly.

"What?" Taehyung snaps and Jeongguk backtracks, blinking his wide eyes.

He throws the forgotten cigarette on the ground, steps on it and squishes it with the toe of his Timberlands. Taehyung watches Jeongguk with disgust evident on his face, undivided attention now on the smoker in front of him.

Jeongguk looks up after putting out his cigarette, wiping the corners of his eyes after almost coughing his tainted lungs out a few minutes ago.

"Are you fine?" Jeongguk asks, voice hoarse. Or well, he thinks he asks, he’s somewhat still in disbelief seeing Kim Taehyung so close to him.

He’s surprised he hasn’t run for the hills yet because being in close proximity to someone he idolizes, someone he’s a big fan of, makes his heart want to jump out of his chest. Jeongguk has never seen Taehyung this close, opting to watch from a far distance, sometimes behind his camera and sometimes, reminiscent of the events of today, under dark stadiums filled with screaming and crying girls shouting the vocalist’s name.

Now, Jeongguk is in front of Taehyung, albeit an agitated Taehyung, but still Kim motherfucking Taehyung. Jeongguk manages to take in a deep breath while Taehyung watches him for a few moments before Taehyung’s boot clad feet scuffs the asphalt, a huff escaping past his red— so red, lips. Probably from being bitten relentlessly.

"Do I look like I’m fine?" Taehyung retorts, tilting his head, red hair following his movement, sliding to the side.

Jeongguk is entranced, mesmerized, but still manages to keep himself looking cool as ice even when he’s screaming bloody hell internally.

"Uhm," Jeongguk starts then shrugs. "You look like you wanna punch someone but maybe that’s just me."

It absolutely surprises Jeongguk when Taehyung lets out a bark of laugh. He watches the bob of Taehyung’s adam’s apple, smooth neck on full view to Jeongguk. HD; high definition and quality. Wow.

"You bet I do," Taehyung answers, his once tensed form slowly unraveling, muscles relaxing.

Jeongguk blinks, nods. "Okay…" He trails then in an act of stupidity or just anxiety of meeting his celebrity crush, Jeongguk offers the box of Marlboro Light towards Taehyung. "Want one?"

Taehyung looks down at the box then back at Jeongguk who’s waiting, anticipating the other’s response then back down to the box before morphing his face into distaste.

"No, thanks. I don’t like consuming beaver butt." Taehyung informs while wrinkling his nose.

Jeongguk makes a face. "Beaver butt?"

Taehyung nods, bobbing his pretty little head. "Yeah. Some, if not all, cigarettes contains beaver butt. Isn’t that just gross? Ugh. How can you do that." He shakes his head and it reminds Jeongguk of his mother when she’s disappointed in something he’s done. Like steal the last cookie in the jar.

The information causes Jeongguk to study the box of smoke in detail, looking immensely offended but then shrugging his shoulders after a short beat. He doesn’t really care and he says as much.

"Don’t care."

Taehyung pulls another disgusted face. He still looks immaculate despite pulling faces that Jeongguk has only seen from afar or behind a screen. Jeongguk thinks it’s rude, unfair; unfairly rude, rudely unfair to look that good. He, however, tries not to bristle at all these negative faces Taehyung is gracing him with, telling himself that it’s a blessing to see this side of Taehyung out of the camera.

"You’ll die early," Taehyung says, lips pulling into a tight line.

Jeongguk grins wide and unintentionally blurts out, "At least I’d die with your face the last thing I’ve seen."

A second later, Taehyung’s lips stretches into a huge rectangular smile, his eyes forming into small crescents. And Jeongguk— Jeongguk’s face blooms into red, noticeable even under the shitty light of the lamp post after realizing what he just said.

Fuck his life, seriously. So much for his Good Luck.

"I mean, uh, I don’t mean that— well, I do mean that but like not in a creepy way, you know? I’m not a creep, I swear. I’m just a fan. Oh, shit. I wasn’t supposed to say that. I’m sorry. I’ll go now," Jeongguk blushes deeper and he can see Taehyung watching him with mirth flashing on his dark eyes, amusement shining through and Jeongguk’s about this close, this fucking close, to digging his own grave right then and there in front of his crush— uh, celebrity crush.

Jeongguk’s backing away, sweaty hands shoved inside his pockets, ready to leave the vicinity and never show in front of Taehyung’s face again in this lifetime when Taehyung giggles. Giggles. What the fuck. Jeongguk pauses, rests his weight on his heels and stares at Taehyung.

Taehyung’s famous and most appreciated boxy smile that lights up the fucking world - Jeongguk’s world - paints his face. It makes Jeongguk’s stomach churn, butterflies going wild— wilder than ever.

"You’re adorable," Taehyung says and there’s something in his voice, like he’s teasing, like he knows something that Jeongguk doesn’t. It grates on Jeongguk’s nerves just slightly. "I’m Kim Taehyung but you probably know that." Taehyung continues and shoves a hand forward.

Jeongguk’s momentary daze at being called adorable by Taehyung breaks when he sees Taehyung’s lean fingers in the air, waiting for his reply. He slowly reaches out and grasps Taehyung’s hand, the heat radiating from it making him shiver. Jeongguk tells himself it’s the weather; it’s getting colder these days, after all.

"Yeah, I do." Jeongguk admits, blush high on his cheeks and Taehyung beams. Beautiful. "Jeon Jeongguk," He introduces, lips lifting into a smile, welcoming.

"Nice to meet you, Jeongguk!" Taehyung shakes his hand vigorously, grip strong and firm. "Want to hang out with the band?"

Jeongguk almost passes out after the question registers.

Instead, he chokes then agrees. Taehyung laughs.

Wow.

iii

As much as Jeongguk wants to say that what follows his fortunate meeting with Taehyung outside the arena on that one fateful night is them being BFFs and all chummy with each other, that isn’t the case. Not at all.

Jeongguk hopes it’s the case but it’s not and Jeongguk is left staring at his phone, ignoring the fact that he has to organize a set of pictures for his midterm project that is due in two days. He continues staring at his phone, ignoring the girls standing beside him, chattering about idols that Jeongguk doesn’t know because he only really pays attention to BTS. Call him outdated but he’s a loyal (Taehyung) BTS fan. Besides, being a fan of more than one group seems so tiring— so troublesome that it turns Jeongguk off to a whole new level.

The clock strikes seventeen thirty.

Quickly, Jeongguk shoves his phone inside his pocket, grabs his camera perched on the bench beside him and walks to where the throng of girls and a few boys, are. He joins the crowd of people who’s got their camera covering their faces, ready to take multiple pictures of their idols.

When the airport’s departure gates opens, the screaming intensifies. Jeongguk winces, both from the shrill sounds trying to murder his eardrums and the jab from an unknown elbow meeting his ribs. He ignores the pain and instead focuses on Taehyung - Kim Taehyung - exiting the gates, looking immaculate as ever.

He takes Jeongguk’s breath away with his laid back outfit; black pants, cream colored oversized shirt and a lensless circled glasses that makes him look so beautiful. Stunning, wonderful. And for a moment, Jeongguk forgets how to function, fingers frozen on his camera as he stares at Taehyung, walking leisurely like the airport is his runway and the world is his audience.

Jeongguk is brought back from his reverie when another jab is delivered to his ribs. He jumps and grunts at the pain, goddamn sure that he’s going to have a bruise the size of Russia after this event.

He doesn’t dwell too much on the culprit though because Taehyung is still walking towards their direction, looking sleepy soft, hair shiny, fluffy. Jeongguk realizes that he’s only taken five pictures maximum and That’s Not Good. Not enough for public release and some for him to keep. So he goes back to capturing the ethereal man that is Kim Taehyung. He’s so focused on taking shots that he doesn’t notice himself moving to the very front, almost out of the line where the fans should be. He only notices when he’s shoved so far— fucking far, that the worst and most cliché thing happens to him.

Watching his camera - his Precious - fly off his hands and tumbling down the floor in slow motion, looking sharpened by an Instagram basic filter called Ludwig, seems so incomprehensible to Jeongguk. Unbelievable. Blasphemy at best. But when the clatter reaches his ears, Jeongguk snaps his head down quickly, witnesses the exact time his camera breaks into unrecognizable pieces and on the next second, beholds the exact time his heart also breaks in pieces.

Because that’s his favorite camera and it’s— broken.

Jeongguk can’t hear anything, not the sudden silence then the gasps  that follows from his fellow fans. He keeps on looking at his camera, biting his trembling lip and trying to hold back the tears gathering behind his eyelids. He takes a deep breath that sounds like a sniff. Jeongguk isn’t crying but he might as well be with how broken he feels.

Fuck.

Forcing himself to get over it, he bends down to gather the shattered pieces of his camera, but when he’s reaching out for it, fingers almost brushing the cracked screen, another hand appears on his vision, fingers looking familiar. So, so familiar. Jeongguk’s brows pinches together, his teeth letting go of his lower lip as he looks up and—

Well, sees Kim Taehyung frowning - pouting? - down at his camera who looks like it has gone through so much when in reality, Jeongguk has just been careless owner.

"Wha—" Jeongguk chokes and straightens quickly, almost tripping to the side but rights his equilibrium on time, preventing him from embarrassing himself in front of Taehyung. Again.

Taehyung turns his gaze at him, eyes looking sad. Jeongguk copies Taehyung’s expression but for another reason. He isn’t quite fond of Taehyung looking mellow when the idol looks better smiling at everything and nothing in particular.

"Is this yours?" Taehyung asks, words coming out slow, voice deeper than normal.

Jeongguk, still tongue-tied and quite dazed, gulps audibly and manages a nod in reply.

Taehyung continues as a sigh escapes past his lips, "I’m sorry."

That prompts Jeongguk to move his tongue, take a hold of his brain once again and hurry to say, "No. It’s— it’s not your fault."

The corner of Taehyung’s lips lifts into a small smile as he looks at Jeongguk with an emotion akin to fondness. Jeongguk figures he’s still in shock of breaking his own camera if he’s seeing these kinds of things.

"Still," Taehyung affirms. "Next time, use the strap, okay?" With those words, Taehyung leans closer; close enough for Jeongguk to drown in his scent, vanilla and something fresh— like newly cut grass, the wild flowers blooming on summer and the faint rays of the sun beating down on Jeongguk in an early, lazy, morning walk.

Taehyung’s closeness lasts for a maximum of ten seconds but in those brief seconds, Taehyung has slung the strap over Jeongguk’s head and around his neck; he’s brushed his fingers on Jeongguk’s heated skin that flushes deeper when he feels Taehyung’s fingers linger on the side of his neck, pads pressing lightly on where Jeongguk’s mole lays.

Ten seconds is the amount of time it takes for Jeongguk to forget his broken camera and—

"Jeongguk, right?" Taehyung’s full on grinning, head tilted to the side slightly. "I like your pictures."

—and four words is all it takes for Jeongguk’s brain to short circuit and forget that he’s surrounded by a lot of fans, taking pictures of Kim Taehyung and now, him too.

The panic only sets in when Jeongguk’s on his way home, Taehyung’s touch still scorching his skin.

Shit.

 

taehyung:
jeongguk!
you dropped your camera in the airport.

jeongguk:
…i. i did. yeah.
why.


taehyung:
let me buy you a new one?

jeongguk:
why.
it’s not your fault.
it’s okay.
i swear.

taehyung:
but…
please?
please.
p lease?????

jeongguk:

okay.

 

The panic continues to haunt Jeongguk after Taehyung, who gave him his number after he hang out with him and the members of BTS for five minutes tops, messages him and offers to buy him a new camera.

Jeongguk feels like a charity case but he also knows Taehyung is a persistent person. He’s followed the musician since debut and by now, with his none stalker-ish ways - he’s just extremely observant - knows that Taehyung is stubborn and is not one to give up on something that he’s decided on already.

iii.i


"So."

Jeongguk blinks, tilts his head and says, "So."

Taehyung chuckles and reaches out, ruffling Jeongguk’s hair. Jeongguk’s eyebrow twitches at the action; more from being touched by Taehyung so casually and less from his hair being messed after he’s spent (see: attempted) twenty minutes making it look perfect; just the right amount of gel and hairspray and— yeah.

"That camera?" Taehyung smiles at him, a beanie hiding his eye-catching hair.

They’re in a small café, recommended by Taehyung after he’s thrice convinced Jeongguk in buying him a camera, sitting in a far corner table where people can’t peek at them and take pictures of Taehyung subtly. It’s cozy, smells of freshly baked cookies; homely.

Taehyung says, "It’s owned by Seokjin’s parents. Cute, isn’t it?"

"Yeah," Jeongguk agrees as he thinks of the oldest band member and is impressed at how this information has not leaked out to the fans yet.

With the mention of why they’re there together, Jeongguk’s lips sets into a tight line immediately. He doesn’t quite like the thought of Taehyung buying him a camera. That’s just— there’s no correlation whatsoever. They’ve known each other for less than a month; talked a maximum of twenty minutes if their conversations are counted and combined together, which really isn’t much, and they’ve interacted less than five times if Jeongguk recalls correctly (he does).

What is going on, Jeongguk doesn’t know.

"Camera, yeah," Jeongguk mutters, legs bouncing under the table as he tugs his red beanie down his ears while looking to the side, peeking at Taehyung from the corners of his eyes from time to time. "You don’t have to— you know, buy me one. I have another one."

To prove his point, Jeongguk picks up the camera perched on the seat beside him and shows it to Taehyung proudly. It looks intact but also outdated, the brand good but the version an old one. Jeongguk, however, doesn’t care much. As long as he can take pictures, he’s good to go.

Taehyung doesn’t seem to share his sentiment.

"You do," Taehyung says, eyeing the camera with curious eyes. "But I feel guilty for breaking the other one." He starts chewing on his lower lip, peeking at Jeongguk anxiously.

Jeongguk shakes his head and smiles assuringly. "Told you, it wasn’t your fault."

"But—" Taehyung huffs, crosses his arms in front of his chest and pouts at Jeongguk. Fuck, Jeongguk thinks, eyes flicking from Taehyung’s kicked puppy expression to the cup in front of him then back to Taehyung’s face.

A defeated sigh escapes Jeongguk. He can’t win.

When will he ever win against Kim Taehyung?

When Jeongguk mutters a Fine, sounding and looking like a petulant child forced to do something he doesn’t want to - he does, he does, he does - Taehyung whoops, arms raising in the air and exclaims, "Yay!"

"But," Jeongguk cuts Taehyung’s impromptu victory dance, causing the other to pause with his hands balled in front of his face, his rendition of his fellow idol and friend Sana’s Shy Shy Shy coming to a halt. Jeongguk grins at Taehyung’s wide eyes, expectant, waiting. "I have to pay you in some way."

Putting his hands down on his lap, Taehyung does that cute expression of his where he blinks his eyes, lifts his lips in a tight adorable smile before he nods, "That’s fine. You can buy me a dinner or two."

Jeongguk’s heart stutters at the words. He stares at Taehyung for a while and nods his head vigorously, agreeing. With that, Taehyung continues his victory dance and Jeongguk watches him over the cup of now cold Hot Chocolate, hiding his fond smile.

He hears Yoongi’s voice inside his head, muttering, "Fucking whipped." Jeongguk ignores it as he swallows the beverage slowly, heart expanding into what he feels like the size of Jupiter at the sight of Taehyung’s wide smile.

iii.ii

"Hi!"

Jeongguk flushes and stutters, "H-Hi."

Despite having spent time with Taehyung weeks ago while buying a camera that Taehyung has insisted on purchasing after Jeongguk has eyed the thing five times in a span of three minutes, Jeongguk still can’t help but feel flustered in front of Taehyung. It’s hard to flip the switch from shy to cool when Taehyung’s been eyeing him ever since he entered the room, sending winks his way while Jeongguk snaps pictures of Taehyung, red face covered with his new camera.

Now he’s in front of Taehyung, album on the table in front of the idol, waiting to be signed. This is the first time Jeongguk has gone on line for a fansign and actually has the guts to face the other. The other times, Jeongguk has opted to stand back, watch with careful eyes and tells himself that he’s content with the distance he’s created between them.

This time though, Jeongguk steps on the platform, says a good natured hello to the other band members, with Jimin exclaiming a, "Jeongguk!" enthusiastically like they’ve known each other for years when in reality, their meeting has only lasted for a few minutes.

Jeongguk now stands in front of Taehyung who grins and winks at him. "How’s the new camera?"

"It’s— great. Really great. I—" Jeongguk swallows, flicks his head to the side then back to Taehyung. "Thank you."

"Pfft," Taehyung rolls his eyes and flips the album in front of him. Jeongguk’s album. He writes something, flips another page and signs that one with his messy signature. Jeongguk watches the spectacle that is Kim Taehyung signing autograph on his album for the first time despite being a fan since debut. "It’s nothing. Your pictures of me are my favorite."

At the admission, Jeongguk shuffles on his feet, face reddening further. Taehyung continues to grin at him.

"Really. Thank you," Jeongguk insists, a hand brushing the camera hanging down his neck.

Taehyung’s smile morphs into a soft one, eyes looking down before looking up again. He’s gazing at Jeongguk softly; stare penetrating through Jeongguk’s entire being with slow but sure intensity.

"It’s nothing." Taehyung repeats and hands Jeongguk his album. "Thank you for coming to the fansign."

"Yeah," Jeongguk nods, holding the album close to him.

Then Taehyung adds, "I’ll text you later, Gukkie!" Causing Jeongguk to almost face plant on the ground, probably would have ruined his new camera and newly autographed album in the process. Thankfully, he catches himself on time. Good Save.

Jeongguk curses, turns back to Taehyung - who’s snickering behind his hands with a Hoseok cackling by his side - with wide eyes, bobs his head into a nod and scampers away, back to the shadow where he can take pictures of Taehyung without the other knowing.

iv


taehyung:
gukk!
jeonggukkie!

jeongguk:
yes, hello.
taehyung-hyung.

taehyung:
call me taetae :((((

jeongguk:

yes, hello, taetae.

taehyung:
:DDDDD
want to watch us practice?

jeongguk:
really?

taehyung:
yeah!

jeongguk:
i’ll be there.

taehyung:
:DDDDDDDDDDD

v

It’s summer. Summer means reckless behavior, alcohol spilled on carpets, half-smoked cigarettes burning on the roadside and the sun beating down—

down, down, down on sun-kissed skin.

Jeongguk watches as Taehyung walks around, fingers brushing against rough concrete filled with graffiti. He’s got a spray paint on his other hand and Jeongguk can’t help but admire the way Taehyung shakes the bottle, grin down at it before raising his hand and adding to the vandalism that is on the wall.

The sun bounces on his skin, arms deliciously and evenly tanned, one of the traits that Jeongguk adores so much. His hair is blonde, again, and Jeongguk— Jeongguk is loving every minute, every second of this.

When Taehyung has asked him to go on an adventure, Jeongguk hasn’t thought of abandoned buildings, of rundown shops, of old bookstores and of unknown streets. He doesn’t think of Taehyung’s fingers wrapped around his wrists, dragging him down the road to God knows where. But he doesn’t question Taehyung. Jeongguk, with his feet on the ground and his heart on his throat, follows Taehyung wherever the artist takes him.

And here they are.

Taehyung is a wild child with a penchant for pranks that causes him to let out a loud guffaw, mouth parted into a soundless laugh with his head thrown back. Contrary to that, Jeongguk likes it safe, for most of the time anyway. He likes routine, the predictability of what he’s going to do that day and how he’s going to tackle them.

But with them together, here, right now, with the birds chirping on an old tree, the world wrapped under the quiet of the leisurely afternoon sun, Jeongguk can’t help but throw all inhibitions out the window and just let everything be.

Jeongguk is taking pictures of Taehyung. He asks, voice dripping with uncertainty, "Can I take pictures of you…?"

Taehyung beams at him, boxy smile making Jeongguk’s heart stutter in his chest. "Of course, Gukk. I love your pictures."

Jeongguk preens at the compliment, lips tugging into a grin before he backs away, hides his face behind his camera and watches Taehyung do random things, taking candid pictures of sun’s rays glinting off blonde hair and a smile that can rival the brightness of the brightest star in the galaxy.

He’s been content on clicking on his camera and checking if the shots are good. That is, until Taehyung turns to him, grin plastered on his beautiful face and says, "Want to try?" He hands the spray paint towards Jeongguk who’s now clutching his camera on his hands. Jeongguk hesitates, then sighs in defeat at the eager expression on Taehyung’s face. He can’t— Jeongguk can’t say no to that.

He quite likes the cheerfulness oozing out of Taehyung right this instant.

So Jeongguk takes the spray paint, faces the wall and starts to paint a replica of Taehyung’s face on it.

Taehyung chokes behind him. "What the fuck?"

Jeongguk pauses on his artwork, tilts his head to look at Taehyung and smiles sheepishly. "What?"

"You’re painting me." Taehyung states, sounding flabbergasted as he points at the wall with almost half of his face painted on it.

A deep flush rises up from Jeongguk’s neck to his cheeks, ending on the tip of his ears. "I— Yeah… I guess? Is it okay?"

Taehyung blinks and nods, huge smile on his face. "Fuck yeah! Finish that, Gukkie!"

Jeongguk can’t help but laugh before he shakes his head and focuses on the art he’s started of Taehyung.

 

Jeongguk is finished with the painting or vandalism, perhaps? It doesn’t really matter because once he finishes the piece of art, Taehyung instantly takes a picture of it and asks Jeongguk to take pictures of him beside and in front of it, making silly poses that has Jeongguk snorting behind his camera, hiding his blush because Taehyung is gorgeous. So, so gorgeous.

They’re now sitting on the steps of an abandoned building. They don’t even know where they are except that they know the way out— back to the real world. It doesn’t really matter, Jeongguk thinks and basks on the fact that he’s with Taehyung, and he’s enjoyed himself the whole time.

"That’s a good shot," Taehyung says, pressing his side against Jeongguk’s body as he points at the picture shown on the screen of Jeongguk’s camera. Jeongguk tries to breathe properly, the proximity of Taehyung, this close, does something to his mind and heart and body that he doesn’t want the other to know.

Yet. Or ever.

Jeongguk nods. "Yeah," He says and swallows the of course it is. it’s you after all and turns the page to the next picture. "This is good too."

Taehyung hums, hand coming up to cover Jeongguk’s own that’s holding the camera. "It is. I’ve always loved your pictures of me, Jeongguk."

The admission has Jeongguk flushing, pressing the next button and showing a picture of Taehyung hanging off Jeongguk’s back, a leg wrapped around his waist. Jeongguk still feels the weight of Taehyung on his back and his face reddens deeper.

"Oh! I love this shot," Taehyung gushes, snatches the camera from Jeongguk and continues to smile at the picture of them together.

Self-timer is a blessing and a curse, Jeongguk decides.

"Send the pics to me later, yeah?" Taehyung nudges Jeongguk who’s furrowing his brows at a spider hanging off a leaf of a potted plant, trying to climb their way up using its own web. Huh.

Jeongguk jolts and turns to Taehyung, doe-eyes wide. Taehyung giggles at his reaction, eyes dancing in humor. Jeongguk feels warmth spread inside his chest at the sound and the sight of Taehyung looking so happy.

Taking in Taehyung’s request, Jeongguk nods a few times, head bobbing up and down, eager. "Yes, of course, I will. Do you want— uh, a developed… version too?"

"Developed?" Taehyung puts the camera down on his lap and leans closer, eyes filled with curiosity. "Is that what you do when you hide in that dark room like a stalker for hours?"

"I’m not a stalker," Jeongguk mutters, offended. He’s a fan, not a stalker.

A pout mars his face which prompts Taehyung to poke his lips, grinning at him. "I didn’t say you are."

It’s too close. What Jeongguk means is, Taehyung’s too close but yes, it’s also too close. Taehyung’s lips that is. Too close to his own and Jeongguk holds his breath as he catches his lower lip, the one Taehyung poked, between his teeth. He catches Taehyung’s eyes follow the movement and Jeongguk is left breathless.

He’s about to back off— back away before he does something that he will regret for eternity, when Taehyung leans down and presses his lips on Jeongguk’s own. Jeongguk’s breath hitches, his eyes widens and he meets Taehyung’s own widened eyes.

Taehyung pulls away slowly and lets out a breath as a blush creeps up his cheeks, faint on his tanned skin. His eyes are downcast and he starts fidgeting with his earlobe, a habit Jeongguk has noticed he does when nervous.

"I’m sorry?" Taehyung mutters, peeking at Jeongguk through his long eyelashes. Jeongguk curses internally because how can Taehyung still look so good like this, uncertain and apologizing? "I mean, no, I’m really not sorry. Ha ha. I’ve been wanting to do that since, like, forever but I mean, I’m sorry that I… did that?"

Adorable. Jeongguk decides that Taehyung is adorable. He gulps, forming words in his mind, hoping his tongue will not go against him and he ends up biting it while spewing words of, hopefully, assurance to Taehyung.

"It’s fine," Jeongguk says and offers a smile. "Totally fine." He adds and takes Taehyung’s hand that’s fiddling with his pierced earlobe. "I’ve been wanting to do that too." He confesses, patting Taehyung’s knuckle after laying it on his lap.

"Really?" Taehyung’s lips stretches into a smile.

Jeongguk copies the smile, nods and says, "Really," Before he captures Taehyung’s lips on his own and this time, his eyes are closed and Taehyung’s eyes flutters close after, the feel of his eyelashes against Jeongguk’s cheeks making his heart beat in an unbelievable speed.

It’s summer and the sun’s beating down on them, breeze of the wind not enough to cool off their heated body but—

it’s enough.

It’s a start.

vi

Taehyung shouts, "Goodbye! I love you all and take care going home!"

Jeongguk watches from the crowd, beaming at Taehyung’s never-ending energy. He knows the man is only running on copious amount of coffee, energy drinks and take out pizza. Jeongguk has been there to witness Taehyung gulp down a slice of pizza and respectively chokes on it. Which causes him to laugh so hard until tears escapes the corners of his eyes while Taehyung is wheezing for water.

Despite the mishaps leading to the show, Taehyung turns up looking divine; handsome in his outfit of ripped jeans and leather jacket. There’s no traces of the tired and grouchy him from hours ago. He looks immaculate and Jeongguk wonders how this man is real. He can’t be.

When the show ends, Jeongguk rushes backstage. He can't help but halt in his steps when Taehyung’s form comes out from behind the dark curtains, looks to the side and straight at him before he sprints towards Jeongguk and jumps on his arms.

"Jeongguk!" Taehyung exclaims, laughter in his voice. He’s flushed, smells like sweat, and skin burning like fire on Jeongguk’s touch.

"Tae," Jeongguk huffs, almost falling but straightens himself up, grunting at Taehyung’s weight on him.

Jimin appears next, shoving the curtain out of his way and runs a hand through his sweaty hair. Jeongguk smiles at him when he looks at them, Taehyung clutching at Jeongguk tightly.

"Gross," Jimin says and makes a face before Hoseok shoves him out of the way, saying, "Cute." The both of them walks down the hallway and disappears through the door of the dressing room, leaving Jeongguk and Taehyung standing there with staffs ignoring their antics, used to it by now.

Taehyung ignores his fellow members and hugs Jeongguk closer, wraps his arms around his shoulders and interlocks his legs around Jeongguk’s waist. Jeongguk feels the most privileged man that has ever graced the earth.

"Did you like the show? Was it as good as the practice? Even better?"

Jeongguk laughs at the barrage of questions, hoisting Taehyung up to prevent the other from sliding down his body.

"Yeah," Jeongguk breathes out as a reply. "You were amazing."

"Really?" Taehyung beams at him as Jeongguk starts to walk down the corridor towards the band’s dressing room.

"Really." Jeongguk confirms while pushing the door to the room with his feet and drops to the couch with a loud grunt, Taehyung on his lap.

"Good." Taehyung says. "I dedicate this show for you."

The heart is a fragile little thing. One wrong move and you die. One right move and you’re alive.

Jeongguk’s heart stutters, stops beating for the briefest millisecond before continuing in a speed that leaves him gasping for air.

He looks at Taehyung—

and smiles, feeling his heart fall in a deep hole. In a black hole. In a love pit.

 

"This fine?"

A nod.

Jeongguk brushes the pad of his thumb on the corner of Taehyung’s lips slick with spit. He pushes on plump lower lip, red from being bitten by Jeongguk’s own teeth. Taehyung smiles at him, nibbles on his thumb, and leans down to peck him on the lips.

"And this?"

Taehyung grins and flicks Jeongguk’s nipple with his tongue, looking up at Jeongguk through long eyelashes. Jeongguk lets out a moan and nods.

"Yes."

Taehyung trails his tongue down Jeongguk’s abdomen, stopping to dip in his navel, causing him to groan and buck his hips against Taehyung’s own.

"Stop moving," Taehyung says, gripping Jeongguk’s hips and holding them flat on the mattress. Jeongguk growls playfully at him and Taehyung clicks his tongue. "Demanding."

"Well, if you could just— I don’t know, fuck me already, that would be great."

Taehyung scrunches his nose, looks like he’s thinking about it before he shakes his head, lips curling into a teasing smirk.

"Nope."

And he continues to flatten his tongue on the tip of Jeongguk’s cock, wrapping his lips around it and sucking lightly. Taehyung moans around the length in his mouth, tasting the pre-come leaking from Jeongguk’s cock. His hands moves from pinning Jeongguk’s hips on the bed to gripping Jeongguk’s thighs, sweaty palms splaying over heated skin as he takes in more of Jeongguk’s length inside his mouth.

Jeongguk squeezes his eyes shut tightly— so, so tight, the feeling of Taehyung’s mouth around him making his stomach clench in uncontrollable desire. There’s still adrenaline pumping in his veins due to the concert that has ended an hour and something ago. Jeongguk’s sure Taehyung’s adrenaline rush hasn’t subsided yet and that’s why he’s teasing Jeongguk like this.

It’s not the first time they’ve fucked. Not the first time Taehyung swallows Jeongguk’s cock down his throat like it’s his only job and not the first time Jeongguk is on the verge of just pleading Taehyung to get over it and fuck him already.

It’s not.

Because after that brief kiss, on that afternoon with Taehyung’s face painted messily on a wall already full of vandalism, full of words like fuck everything, smash the patriarchy, and an ominous when i die, fuck it, i wanna go to hell that Jeongguk later finds out is some line from a song, they’ve experimented. A lot.

A lot—

And a lot of kissing. A lot of rolling around the bed, trying to one up each other with laughter escaping past their lips. A lot of lube and spit and moans and groans and used condoms in hotel rooms.

It’s the same. Tonight is the same with Taehyung unraveling Jeongguk and with Jeongguk unraveling Taehyung in a different way.

He feels his cock hit the back of Taehyung’s throat. Jeongguk’s legs trembles and a loud moan escapes him. He reaches out and tugs on Taehyung’s hair, pulling the bowed head up, his cock still inside Taehyung’s mouth and the sight is Fucking Pretty.

Taehyung smiles at him around his cock; or tries to, at least and Jeongguk groans a, "Fuck, Tae."

Taehyung mumbles something, muffled when he bobs his head up and down Jeongguk’s length. He continues like that, humming as he blows Jeongguk, the sound vibrating on the cock in his mouth, and Jeongguk is wrecked into hitching breaths and fisting white sheets with his hands.

The heat surrounding Jeongguk’s length leaves when the desire he’s chasing for is close within his reach. He looks down at Taehyung who grins at him with cherry red lips, pre-come stuck on his bottom lip and eyes dancing with mirth.

"Good?"

Jeongguk curses and throws his head back on the pillow under him. "Fucking good."

Taehyung laughs, voice deep, hoarse; wrecked.

"I know," Taehyung says and drags his body up Jeongguk’s own. He straddles Jeongguk’s lap, gyrating his ass on Jeongguk’s hard length.

A choked out moan escapes past Jeongguk’s lips when his cock slots on Taehyung’s slicked crack. When the fuck—, he questions but when he takes in Taehyung’s wicked grin, he shakes his head, grinning back at the mischievous guy above him.

"Are you done teasing?"

Taehyung hums and nods. "Sure, Beaver love."

Jeongguk would scold him but the sight of Taehyung lifting his hips, reaching a hand back and shoving two fingers inside himself, riding his own fingers and moaning while doing so leaves Jeongguk speechless. He licks his lips, splays his hand on Taehyung’s moving hips, before moving a hand to wrap around Taehyung’s hard cock, bobbing against his stomach.

"Babe."

"Gukk," Taehyung keens, body tensing before relaxing. He looks down at Jeongguk as he pulls his fingers out of his own hole. "I wanna ride you today."

The reaction those words elicits from Jeongguk has Taehyung chuckling, pinching Jeongguk’s nipples between his fingers. Jeongguk’s head bobs eagerly still before a hiss escapes him at Taehyung’s violent action.

"Okay," Jeongguk stammers. "Okay. Yeah. You can— do that? Do that." A firm nod follows the words that he wants to sound like a demand but instead comes out like a plead.

"Of course, baby," Taehyung pats Jeongguk’s cheek and reaches behind him, takes a hold of Jeongguk’s cock, lines it with his slicked entrance and slowly; agonizingly slowly starts to slide down the hard length.

A whimper escapes Jeongguk, followed by a moan from Taehyung as Jeongguk’s length settles inside Taehyung fully. They’re quiet for a few moments, just staring at each other, eyes half-lidded, darkened with desire but heart beating so fast— so slow—

erratic. Erratically beating hearts. Unsynchronized in the best way possible.

Taehyung starts to move and Jeongguk falls deeper, moaning Taehyung’s name. He holds onto Taehyung’s hips, keeping himself grounded, where he is, where they are, where his heart is safe.

But he finds out that there’s no safe place for his heart to hide when Taehyung leans down and captures his lips in a deep kiss, hips bouncing off Jeongguk’s cock in a fast pace, chasing orgasm— completeness that they both need.

When the feeling in his stomach turns into immense pleasure, they fall. Taehyung falls with a stutter of his hips, a hitch of his breath and a drawn out moan, coming on Jeongguk’s hand pumping his cock.

Jeongguk falls in another way—

Jeongguk falls when Taehyung’s blunt nails grabs the side of his neck, leaving small crescents on Jeongguk’s flesh. He falls when Taehyung leans his forehead against his, bounces off his cock despite overstimulation and mouths lyrics on his lips. Filthy lyrics that has Jeongguk bucking his hips against Taehyung’s own.

He comes with a stuttered groan, fingers digging bruises on Taehyung’s skin.

Jeongguk leans up and mouths lyrics back on Taehyung’s lips. Mouths words of devotion, of promises, of love, of something that Jeongguk is starting to feel for the other.

He mouths lyrics—

—of confession.

vii

jeongguk:
practicing?

taehyung:
no.
composing.

jeongguk:
good luck, smoky babe!

taehyung:
thanks, beaver love!

 

It’s hard to maintain a relationship with someone whose schedule is as erratic as the weather. Granted, they're really not in a relationship which Jeongguk stresses over but it’s fine.

It’s fine.

Because, at least, he’s got Taehyung. Not the idol; the musician slash actor slash model Kim Taehyung but the person that is  behind the pretenses and the forced smiles, Kim Taehyung.

Jeongguk is content with that.

However, as he goes through old pictures of Taehyung he’s taken from a year ago, he wonders if it’s possible for them to be in a relationship. It’s a big shot, one that will leave both of them gasping for air if found out by the media. But mostly, one that will leave Jeongguk picking shattered pieces of his heart off the cold, hard ground.

Despite the cons, Jeongguk entertains the pros.

Nothing is going to change. Not in the grand scheme of things, at least. They already cuddle often, whenever Taehyung’s got the time. Albeit, platonically. If one can call a relationship between people who fucks sometimes platonic. And yeah, they already fuck whenever they can, so what’s going to change?

Romance. The romance will come into picture and that has Jeongguk bouncing his legs under his work table.

He’s trying to read a book; a poor attempt at being productive when all he wants to do is sleep or go to the gym or call Taehyung. The latter option is crossed out already since Taehyung is busy composing and the other two— his body is too awake to sleep but too exhausted to move. It’s hard when one pulls an overnighter the day before.

And that’s why Jeongguk’s just flipping through pictures of Taehyung at seven in the evening, ignoring everything, especially Yoongi’s invites of going out for a drink. He knows that’s code for getting smashed and Jeongguk has yet to recover from last week’s night out.

Jeongguk’s admiring the sharp colors of a shot of Taehyung from one of the band’s concert, slightly feeling like an obsessed stalker, when there’s a knock on his door. The rhythm is familiar and his eyebrows shots up past his bangs, a grin instantly plastering on his face as he goes to open the door.

"Taehyung-hyung," Jeongguk greets with a smile.

Taehyung smiles back, stepping inside Jeongguk’s apartment. "How did you know it was me?"

Jeongguk shrugs. "You always knock in that rhythm. I don’t even know why but it’s distinct. Meaning, you're the only one who does it."

"Oh," Taehyung breathes out. "Oh! Nice!"

A laugh escapes Jeongguk as he heads to the small living room, plops on the couch and opens his arms for Taehyung to cuddle close to him. Taehyung jumps on the couch quickly, scoots close to Jeongguk and lets Jeongguk’s arms wrap around him.

"Hmm," Jeongguk tightens his hold around Taehyung. Taehyung squirms and buries his head on the crook of Jeongguk’s neck, comfortable. "Why are you here? Aren’t you supposed to be composing?"

"I was." Taehyung answers. "I’m done." There’s a lilt on Taehyung’s voice, one of excitement. It shows when his body starts to vibrate beside Jeongguk, squirms now relentless.

"What is it?" Jeongguk cocks a brow, curious— so curious.

Taehyung’s beaming at him, phone in hand. He shows Jeongguk the screen and says, "I finished the song. I finished it and it’s—" He pauses, doubt flashing in his eyes. "About you."

vii.i

It’s all about Jeongguk.

Taehyung thinks he’s in love. He’s in love, in love.

In. Love.

When the feeling crashes into him, his mind blanks. He’s stuck on composing, lyrics refusing to flow out of his mind, of his heart, of his hands. He’s stuck when he starts thinking of Jeongguk and everything just falls into pieces.

Like perfect dominos—

pieces to pieces to pieces to pieces.

Taehyung thinks he’s in love and he runs to Jeongguk’s side quickly when he finishes writing the lyrics. He doesn’t think of consequences, of anything but telling Jeongguk what he feels for him.

Jeongguk opens the door for Taehyung; welcomes Taehyung with open arms, wide bunny smile, soft eyes and warm heart. Taehyung’s heart stutters. He doesn’t know if Jeongguk feels the same but—

But Taehyung just wants to tell Jeongguk how he feels. Or else he’s going to burst; the emotions trapped inside his mind, body, heart trying to kill him inside out.

He shows Jeongguk the lyrics of the newly composed song. A draft, he tells him. Still he’s so excited he’s bouncing on his perch on the couch, beside Jeongguk who’s looking at him fondly, patiently. His stomach bursts into butterflies— even bats and birds and all the insects that exists. The feeling is so intense, he thinks he’s in love.

When Jeongguk is reading the lyrics from the phone, Taehyung’s body calms down. He watches Jeongguk mouth the words, lips moving just slightly. They're words of confession, of what Taehyung feels, of how he felt when he realized that he feels more for Jeongguk than mere— mere anything of what they are now. He feels more, is what Taehyung knows.

He’s chewing on his lips, eyes expectant and heart on his throat as he continues to gaze at Jeongguk. He’s never done this before— never even consider falling in love despite writing lyrics about love for years. Most of the times, his lyrics are inspired by his parents’ relationship or some drama he’s recently watched or his neighbors who’s always fighting yet he can hear them fucking at the end of the day.

Taehyung has always focused on music, never thinking of relationships, of commitments that will snatch his attention away from climbing the top of the music industry with his band members. But now— now he thinks he’s ready. He thinks he’s ready and in love and Jeongguk is smiling at him, wider than ever, eyes forming into small crescents, swimming with adoration towards Taehyung. His bunny teeth makes Taehyung coo, fingers twitching with the want to pinch Jeongguk’s cheeks. Instead of doing just that, Taehyung takes in a deep breath and smiles uncertainly back at Jeongguk.

Jeongguk says, "Cheesy."

Taehyung pouts, glares at Jeongguk playfully, and grumbles, "Fine. Whatever. Give me that." He reaches for his phone but Jeongguk takes a hold of his wrists instead and pulls him close, on top of him, on his lap. Close to him. Taehyung’s heart beats in staccato. He counts the seconds passing by, listening to the faint ticking of the clock as a minute silence wrapped around them.

"It’s great," Jeongguk finally says against his neck, warm breath fanning on his skin. Taehyung shivers and wiggles his body.

"Serious?" Taehyung prompts and wiggles more. Jeongguk grips his hips tightly, halting his movements and he grins, wicked, mischievous.

"Stop that." Jeongguk grunts, scrunching his nose in that cute way of his. Taehyung snatches a kiss from pouting lips. "And yeah, serious."

"Amazing." Taehyung comments, smiles wide while playing with both of Jeongguk’s gauge earlobes.

He watches Jeongguk’s eyes flutter close; watches plump lips part as Jeongguk breathes a content sigh; watches as jaw clenches tightly when Taehyung moves up his lap; and feels Jeongguk’s fingers slipping under his sweater, warm fingers rubbing soothing circles on his skin, causing goosebumps to rise.

Jeongguk opens his eyes and stares at Taehyung, contemplating; calculating. He takes a deep breath and Taehyung watches closely, intensely.

Jeongguk asks, "Wanna be my boyfriend, hyung?"

Taehyung freezes, stomach churning. There are butterflies but there’s something too that he can’t pin point but there’s also happiness blooming on his chest so he focuses on that. He beams down at Jeongguk, kisses him softly, soundly, before saying,

"Thought you’d never ask."

viii

"Beaver, baby."

"Stop calling me that."

"But it’s cute, isn’t it?"

"Fuck, no. It sounds like Justin Bieber."

"What’s wrong with Justin Bieber?"

Jeongguk wrinkles his nose and shrugs his shoulders. "Nothing. But he’s a little shit, so."

"You look like a beaver though." Taehyung reasons further, lips stretching into a wide grin.

A sigh escapes Jeongguk before he looks at Taehyung, relenting. As always. "Fucking fine," He says then adds, voice sickeningly sweet, "Smoky."

"What the fuck?" Taehyung exclaims, looking at Jeongguk, exasperation laced in his voice. "That doesn’t even make sense."

"Of course it does, Smoky love." Jeongguk grins. "You hate smoking and complain about it whenever you kiss me."

"That’s because it’s bad for your health!"

"I know," Jeongguk nods and, because he’s a little shit, promptly pops a cigarette between his lips.

The both of them are outside the balcony of Taehyung’s apartment; a small little thing that Taehyung has rented after three years of living in a dorm with the other band members. They’re taking a break; Jeongguk from studying and Taehyung from writing music. It’s been a week since they’ve been together like this, Taehyung just coming home from an out of town schedule the day before. It’s peaceful between them, the stress of schedules wiped out in lieu of relaxing, heat emanating from both of their bodies as they sit on the cold ground beside each other.

Jeongguk lights the cigarette and Taehyung frowns but doesn’t scoot away. He hides a smirk.

"You smell gross," Taehyung says, nudging Jeongguk’s side while Jeongguk puffs out smoke past his lips.

"It’s nicotine, Taehyung." Jeongguk tells him, turning his head and blowing smoke on Taehyung’s face.

"Stop that," Taehyung pouts and Jeongguk laughs.

"Nah. Aren’t you used to it, yet? Doesn’t Seokjin smoke?"

"I guess," Taehyung sighs, head falling on Jeongguk’s shoulder. "Doesn’t mean I don’t hate it. I still do."

"But Smoky—"

"Beaver."

"—it’s relaxing. See."

Jeongguk moves from Taehyung, making the other groan, ready to scold him but then he pulls Taehyung into a kiss, puffing smoke on his parted lips. Taehyung fists Jeongguk’s hair in between his fingers, tugging on it harshly as he swallows the smoke, and pushes his lips harsher on Jeongguk’s own. Jeongguk smiles into the kiss, thumb brushing small circles on Taehyung’s cold cheek.

Pulling away, he smirks at Taehyung, mirth swimming in his gaze.

"Chill?"

Taehyung tugs on Jeongguk’s gauged earlobe, the other hand coming up to ruffle Jeongguk’s hair before fisting a handful of the dark strands and tugging harshly. The actions makes Jeongguk hiss in pain but there’s still good humor in his eyes.

"Damn chill but disgusting. Never do that again."

A shrug is Jeongguk’s only reply before he leans down again and captures Taehyung’s lips on his. He knows Taehyung can still smell and taste the tobacco in his breath and tongue but Taehyung still reciprocates the kiss with vigor, licking inside his mouth, sucking on his tongue and biting on his lips, eliciting a series of moans from Jeongguk.

"Wow. Okay," Jeongguk mutters, opening his eyes slowly. "I thought it’s disgusting?"

Taehyung grins, leans down and pecks Jeongguk’s lips more, "It is but it’s you. You’re an exception."

Jeongguk’s heart shakes above his ribcage at the words.

"I—" He stutters, blush high on his cheeks.

Taehyung’s laugh clouds his mind and he lets that settle in his heart, in the forefront of his mind, and in every pore of his body.

ix

The media is observant.

Sometimes, they write articles about Taehyung with Jeongguk, attaching blurry pictures of them together walking down the streets of Seoul, wondering what their relationship is. There are a few accounts commenting who Jeongguk  was - is - and it makes Jeongguk nervous. Agitated; because of their words— their accusations. It’s no brainer they’ll be saying those things about him but Jeongguk is a mere human being and he’s got to start somewhere.

Taehyung and him has got to start somewhere, from the beginning, before it all started.

However, people never lets it go and Jeongguk frowns at the articles, wrinkles his nose at the few choice of words and snorts at the ridiculous ideas they come up with. He shows them to Taehyung and all Taehyung does is laugh and say, "Oh man, that one’s funny."

Jeongguk pushes his face away, "You’re not helping."

The pout, because it’s a pout - fuck, damnit - marring Jeongguk’s face forms into a smile immediately when Taehyung hooks his chin on his shoulder, long fingers massaging his tense shoulders as Jeongguk continues to scroll down the site.

"Stop, Gukk." Taehyung says, pads of his fingers pressing on the knots found on Jeongguk’s back.

Jeongguk sighs and puts his phone on the floor, beside the game controller they’ve been using earlier.

"I am," Jeongguk says. "It’s just—" He shrugs, not exactly wanting to talk about it. It still nags at him relentlessly, like some mantra trying to crack his skull open with incessant repetition.

Jeongguk loathes the media. Has always loathed the media and will always loathe the media.

But they’re observant and this prompts him to say words that he really doesn’t mean but has to because Taehyung is important to him.

The most important.

"We should stop meeting up for a while, Tae."

Taehyung’s fingers on his back stills. Jeongguk stops breathing, waiting for Taehyung’s reaction.

"Why?" Taehyung says, strain evident on his voice.

Jeongguk hesitates, feeling ridiculous but he tells Taehyung anyways because he deserves honesty.

"The media is catching up and there are more sasaengs following us." Jeongguk states, a sigh following. "Didn’t you notice?"

Taehyung moves to sit in front of him, crosses his legs and leans his elbows on his bent knees. He says, "I did." Then adds, "But I don’t care."

Exasperation bubbles from Jeongguk’s stomach and before he can bite his tongue, he’s already spewing the words out.

"But I do!" He runs a hand through his hair, tugging at the strands. "Not only is your career on the line but also your reputation. Think of your fans, Tae." Jeongguk pleads while taking Taehyung’s hand on his. "Think of me."

Lips once formed into a soft, relaxed line morphs into a deep frown. Taehyung furrows his brows, looking at Jeongguk, calculating.

"I am thinking of you, Jeongguk." Taehyung squeezes his hands then wrenches them away. Jeongguk bites his lower lip. "But if you only care about my career and so called reputation then okay. Okay. Right. Fine." He breathes in deeply. "Let’s stop meeting up. I’m going to be out of the country for a month anyways. You do your thing and I do mine."

Jeongguk hears the venom on Taehyung’s voice and he almost - almost - lets his building emotion get the better of him. But he holds them, fists them inside his hands and throws them in the back of his mind.

"Yeah. That’s good."

"Right."

 

It seems like Taehyung has taken the you do your thing and I do mine seriously— or in this case, to the next level because Jeongguk sends him texts, calls him, and even tries to FaceTime but Jeongguk only hears silence. There’s nothing but Taehyung’s voicemail and Jeongguk is left staring at his phone screen after, screen wallpaper a picture of Taehyung he took in one of the band’s concert.

"Hello! This is Kim Taehyung! I can’t answer the phone right now. I’m either sleeping or eating or composing or spending time with my beaver! So just leave a message after that dull tone thing. Bye!"

Jeongguk’s heart soars at the ridiculous mention of his nickname, happy that Taehyung hasn’t changed that. Yet. It means Taehyung still cares. Right? He starts biting on his nails anxiously when he hears the beep before he exhales a deep breath.

"TaeTae," Jeongguk starts. "I hope your tour is going well. I miss you and Vick. Vudy misses you too. Call me when you hear this or have time."

 

The days not spend stressing over Taehyung’s silence is spent with Jeongguk roaming around the city streets, taking pictures of the scenery that he’s seen thousands of times but has never tried to appreciate. He does now, pausing on a sidewalk, raising his DSLR and snaps a photo of a child petting a dog. It reminds him of Taehyung— and he smiles then shakes his head, vanishing Taehyung’s face away from his mind.

Albeit that’s real hard to do when Taehyung’s face is on almost every store he passes, on that huge billboard on the highway and on the huge wall, advertising a clothing brand Jeongguk’s bank account can’t afford even if he works ten part-time jobs a day.

It’s hard to ignore Taehyung when he’s everywhere and it’s a torture to him because Taehyung can ignore him easily yet Jeongguk is left agonizing over Taehyung on a daily, even when he doesn’t want to.

The agony comes to a stand still when Jeongguk, one day while walking around Seoul, turns his head, stares at the multiple television decorating an electronic store’s window, and sees a picture of Taehyung wrapped around Jimin as they exit the airport.

Incheon International Airport.

Jeongguk stops, turns his whole body and reads the words written underneath the picture. His breath hitches when he reads BTS finished with their international tour but it has only been two weeks and Taehyung has said one month and Jeongguk clutches his camera hard, knuckles turning white.

He doesn’t know what it means; that Taehyung has lied to him or that Taehyung has ignored all his messages and voicemails— that Taehyung has ignored him.

Jeongguk swallows audibly and trudges back to his place, thinking of that essay he has to finish but mind clouded with Taehyung’s lithe form exiting the doors of Incheon Airport.

 

"Hello! This is Kim Taehyung! I can’t answer the phone right now. I’m either sleeping or eating or composing or spending time with my beaver! So just leave a message after that dull tone thing. Bye!"

Jeongguk squeezes his eyes until he sees red spots. His throat constricts, disabling him from saying anything first. He gathers all the courage he can muster and whispers to the phone, to the dead of the night, to Taehyung,

"TaeTae, how are you? Vudy and I misses you. Work hard and don’t forget to eat right. Call me when you can." When you want.

He doesn’t expect anything— not really because three weeks of silence from Taehyung seems like a clear enough indication that he doesn’t want anything to do with Jeongguk. Anymore.

So when his phone rings two minutes later, Taehyung’s name flashing on his screen, his heart starts to pick up and his breath halts in its inhale. He watches the dots move on the screen, Taehyung’s face above it before he answers, voice uncertain.

"H-Hello?"

Silence.

"TaeTae?"

A breath.

Jeongguk gulps. "I miss you."

A beat passes and then—

"I miss you too."

Relief washes over Jeongguk. He’s so relieved that his eyes starts to sting, tears gathering. He shuts them, imagines Taehyung right there beside him, and his heart calms considerably.

"Welcome back." Jeongguk says, lifting his lips into a small smile.

"Yeah," Taehyung replies, voice deep, shaking Jeongguk’s world once again. "Can I— Can I come over now?"

The uncertainty, the hesitation, in Taehyung’s voice makes Jeongguk’s heart ache. He sounds like he’s asking for too much, like Jeongguk’s permission is the most important thing. Jeongguk bites his lower lip harshly before nodding.

"Yes," He says. "Yes, of course. Come over anytime."

And when Taehyung shows up in front of Jeongguk’s apartment, knocking in the rhythm of their newly released song, Jeongguk opens the door, haste in his actions. He pauses and takes in everything that is Kim Taehyung, in front of him and not behind the screen of his laptop or television. The weight on his shoulders eases; doesn’t leave him fully but he feels the weight lessen.

"Taehyung," Jeongguk breathes, eyes wide.

Taehyung peeks at Jeongguk through his eyelashes, corner of his lower lip caught between his teeth. He smiles and Jeongguk almost cries because he misses that sight. This sight of Taehyung in front of him. Real and not a figment of his imagination.

"Hi." Taehyung says.

"Hello." Jeongguk replies.

And they stand there, like it’s not two in the morning and everyone’s sleeping, dreaming of anything, everything, and nothing.

They stand there, fingers twitching, wanting to reach out but hesitates.

Taehyung moves first and Jeongguk moves the next second. Hands reaching for necks, fingers dipping on warm flesh and soft lips attaching on equally soft ones, albeit slightly cold from the weather outside.

"I miss you," Jeongguk whispers against Taehyung’s lips, cradling his face like he’s the most precious thing in the whole wide world— most precious person in Jeongguk’s life.

Taehyung nods vigorously, leaning close and kissing Jeongguk deeply, tongue tracing plump lower lip before biting on it and mouthing his reply on the corner of Jeongguk’s lip. "Miss you too."

Jeongguk’s happy, and he hates— hates to cut their reunion after weeks of being apart but he has questions that requires answers and so he pulls away from Taehyung, brushes his thumbs on the other’s reddened cheeks and looks at him square in the eyes.

"Why did you ignore me?"

Taehyung flicks his eyes to the side, hands coming up to cover Jeongguk’s own on the side of his face then shrugs, not voicing anything.

Jeongguk sighs. "Tae, you told me you’ll be away for a month. Why did you lie," He questions, pauses then continues, "I thought— I seriously thought we’re done. That you’ll never talk to me again. What did I do?"

For a few seconds, Jeongguk’s meet with nothing but silent breaths. He keeps on gazing at Taehyung, mapping the idol’s face once again, like he has done hundreds— thousands of times before. He never gets tired of the realization that he gets to touch such a beautiful human being. Jeongguk is thankful yet— right here, he’s miserable. Miserable just looking at Taehyung who’s avoiding his gaze, keeping his lips in a tight line, gripping Jeongguk’s wrists lightly.

The clock ticks and they’re still in front of Jeongguk’s apartment, silence in between them. It’s uncomfortable and Jeongguk is about to let go; just let go, Jeongguk, he tells himself but then Taehyung meets his eyes, full of emotions and Jeongguk’s breathless.

Breathless. Speechless.

Taehyung is beautiful even when he’s slowly cutting Jeongguk’s heart to pieces with his silence.

"You said to not meet up. That my career is important. I just did what you told me." Taehyung states, voice blank even when his eyes says otherwise.

"That doesn’t mean cutting all the connection between us, Tae." Jeongguk says patiently.

Taehyung shakes his head and lets out a hoarse chuckle. "It does, Jeongguk. You care about my career more, don’t you?"

Jeongguk frowns deeply, brows furrowing as he takes in Taehyung’s words because what the fuck.

"What?" Jeongguk spits, unintentionally cold. He can’t help it when Taehyung’s accusing him— just like those articles on the internet. Fuck. "What the fuck are you talking about?" He retracts his hands from Taehyung’s face, letting them fall to his sides.

Taehyung frowns back at him as he shifts on his feet, looks around and trains his eyes back to Jeongguk.

"Exactly what I said. You only care more about my career than this relationship."

"Are you saying I’m using you?" Jeongguk asks, exasperated. "Taehyung!"

"Jeongguk!"

"Shut the fuck up!" A voice from three door’s away shouts at them. Jeongguk and Taehyung startles, looking at each other with wide eyes before Jeongguk pulls Taehyung inside his apartment.

"You’re saying I only care about you because you’re an idol." Jeongguk deadpans after closing the door, turning to Taehyung, looking at him with disbelief.

"I’m saying you don’t care about our relationship!"

Jeongguk pulls on his hair and starts pacing, "I do! But I don’t want you to get outed by the media. You’re not even out, Taehyung. Does your parents even know you’re gay? Do they?"

Taehyung scoffs and crosses his arms in front of his chest. "Yes, they do, Jeongguk. The members know. How do you not know this, huh?"

Jeongguk continues to frown. "You think I know everything about you? News flash, Taehyung. I don’t."

"Obviously, when you keep on talking about my career and this bullshit. I want—" Taehyung pauses, bites his lip and chokes out, "—you."

"You have me," Jeongguk says, voice turning soft, like a mere whisper but still decipherable, loud in the silence that follows the statement. "You have me. I care about you, not because you’re an idol whose face is plastered in all the stores around Seoul but because you’re Kim Taehyung, with the bright smile, the beautiful voice, the elephant mole that resembles mine, and the one who bought me a new camera because I broke my own."

Taehyung’s cheeks blooms into a deep blush as his lips pulls into a smile at the memory. "Granted, it was my fault you broke your favorite DSLR."

Jeongguk shrugs and smiles back, eyes crinkling on the side, turning into small slits. "It was a fan’s fault."

"Still, you were there because of me, so, my fault." Taehyung argues, stepping closer to Jeongguk, his poise relaxed, better than when he’s just arrived in front of Jeongguk’s place earlier.

"Yeah," Jeongguk breathes out. "I was."

Coming as close as possible, boots clad feet in line with Jeongguk’s own bare ones, Taehyung grasps Jeongguk’s biceps. "I really—" He shuts his eyes. "Miss you."

"Yeah," Jeongguk nods and pulls Taehyung into a bone crushing hug. "Don’t ever disappear on me again." He whispers against warm, tanned skin. "Please."

Taehyung wraps his arms around Jeongguk’s form. "I won’t."

ix.i

The interviewer asks, "Who’s Jeon Jeongguk to you?"

Taehyung tilts his head, cocks a brow, gives a sly look and replies, "A special person."

ix.ii

ktae95 posted a picture:
my beaver with vudy and vick! <3 #cutiepatooties #meetmypets #:D

 

"Taehyung!"

"What?"

"Why that picture?"

"Because it’s cute, love."

A sigh. "Ugh."

x

Jeongguk loves Taehyung.

It is a fact that he has known for a very long time and contrary to popular belief, despite his closed off personality and the constant need for personal space, Jeongguk isn’t emotionally constipated. He’s just shy and needs to warm up to people before he can goof off with them. He isn’t someone who denies himself of feelings that shakes his bones to the core.

Yoongi once told him, "You’re an introvert. Maybe the line between extrovert and introvert but leaning more towards the latter."

Jeongguk blinks at Yoongi, brows furrowing in confusion. "What now?"

"The reason why you’re so socially inept." Yoongi states, rolling his eyes and Jeongguk frowns, feeling a bit offended.

"I am not socially inept." Jeongguk counters causing Yoongi to snort into his black coffee.

"Whatever makes you sleep at night, Gukk."

And yeah, Jeongguk isn’t good with crowds. Would rather stay at home playing video games and order pizza instead of going out to a party on a Friday night but he likes it.

So Jeongguk very much has a good grip and understanding when it comes to his emotions.

And when the realization that he loves Taehyung comes crashing down on him, Jeongguk stays still, dropping his pen on the sheet of paper he’s scribbling the answers to his homework on. He tilts his head up, looks at the ceiling and lets his lips stretch into a wide grin.

The feeling comes bubbling up, from his stomach raising to where his heart lays and he feels giddy. So, so giddy.

"Oh my god," Jeongguk says to no one. To the ceiling. To himself. "I love Kim Taehyung."

Uttering the words makes the feeling more real. It rings truer than anything Jeongguk has ever said in his life. He can’t help but laugh; he laughs loudly in happiness because he’s in love. He’s never thought he’ll fall in love in this century where loving someone seems so overrated but here he is, in love with Kim Taehyung.

"Jesus Christ," Jeongguk mutters as he runs his hands down his face, lips still formed into a grin.

 

jeongguk:
hyung.

yoongi:
what.

jeongguk:
i’m in love.

yoongi:

took you long enough to realize

jeongguk:
what?!
what do you mean by that!

yoongi:
it’s kim taehyung, isn’t it?

jeongguk:
…yes.

yoongi:
whipped.

 

Of course, Jeongguk is happy to know that he loves Taehyung. But telling someone, the person, Kim Taehyung, that Jeongguk loves him more than what they are now, makes Jeongguk want to go for a run and move to Alaska. Maybe.

It’s nerve-wracking thinking about it; confessing to Taehyung who’s got the world under his feet, people at his beck and call, and Jeongguk’s heart on his hand. The ball has always been on Taehyung’s court and Jeongguk’s just a mere follower who’ll ask how high if Taehyung asks him to jump. It sounds goddamn ridiculous but Jeongguk won’t have it any other way.

He just wishes it was easy to confess in person, just like how he’s imagined it in his head.

It also doesn’t help in the grand scheme of things that Taehyung is always away these days; on tour overseas, doing fansigns, having concerts, practicing until midnight and composing songs for days, locking himself in the company’s studio to perfect one song - one song - that he insists doesn’t sound right when Jeongguk tells him it sounds absolutely marvelous.

What also doesn’t help is seeing Taehyung post pictures of himself with different people on his instagram account, mostly with fans, girl fans, which Jeongguk finds adorable but also with his co-members in compromising situations. Like that picture of him with Jimin on his lap, face buried on the crook of his neck; or that shot of Taehyung with his shirt halfway off, Hoseok’s hand attached to his sides, where his ribs lays, sweat evident on his sun-kissed skin.

Jeongguk knows it’s platonic; totally, definitely. Hopefully. So he shouldn’t get jealous. He is not jealous just— envious.

Envious in a way that even though Taehyung is his boyfriend, they still don’t act like it. Or, at least, Jeongguk doesn’t think so.

Jeongguk has dreamt of romance since he’s been a kid. He’s a romantic person who likes to pamper the one he loves; kiss them until they laugh against his lips, hug them until they complain to him playfully, give them gifts even though it’s a normal weekday, and take them to dates on warm nights, watching the sky as they lay on the grass under the picture of twinkling stars.

He hasn’t done any of those with Taehyung. Their relationship is built on friendship— and sex until they progressed to what they are now.

And every time Jeongguk suggests them to go on dates, on inconspicuous excursions that Jeongguk wants Taehyung to enjoy outside his popular status, Taehyung only stares at Jeongguk, blinks his huge eyes, long-eyelashes fluttering close and making Jeongguk entranced, before he smiles and say, "But I like being with you here, Gukk. Let’s just stay here."

Really, who was Jeongguk to say no to Taehyung saying that followed by a boxy grin and a kiss to the lips? No one. Someone; who’s in love with Taehyung.

That’s why it makes Jeongguk’s throat constrict when he thinks of telling Taehyung he loves him. Being in a relationship is different, there are feelings involved but not as intense. However, telling someone you’re absolutely, grandly, totally whipped as fuck in love with them is another case.

Love is a huge thing and Jeongguk doesn’t even plan on telling Taehyung until— well, he does.

Accidentally.

 

There’s a banging on his door and Jeongguk stirs on his sleep, groaning as he rolls over and feels for his phone under his pillow. He squints at the screen, eyes forming into the smallest slits possible to acquire the time.

It’s five fucking o’clock in the morning. What the fuck, fam.

The pounding on his door continues, the sound piercing through the quiet apartment. Jeongguk slumps on his back and stares at the ceiling for a minute, listening to the incessant knocking before he groans loudly, mutters a curse and slips out of his comfortable position on his bed.

I swear to fucking God, this better be good, he thinks rubbing a hand down his face, followed by a huge yawn. He’s exhausted but the knocking - knockknockknock knockknock - is annoying the hell out of him.

Wrenching the door open, he opens his mouth, ready to lash out at the person disturbing his precious sleep, but when he sees the person, registers the blinding smile in his sleep dazed mind, Jeongguk’s throat dries, his eyes widening a fraction as he takes in the red hair, tanned skin, gorgeous eyes.

"Tae?" Jeongguk rasps, voice deep from sleep, scratchy.

Taehyung rocks back and forth on his feet, his body emitting energy that can’t be found in Jeongguk’s own. Jeongguk examines him, from head to toe; he looks tired, evident in the faint bags under his eyes but he still looks fucking glowing. It’s five in the morning and the sun has yet to rise, yet Jeongguk feels like it has because Taehyung’s presence is as bright as the sun and is captivating as its rays.

"I’m back," Taehyung says softly, the words washing through Jeongguk’s entire being.

He opens his mouth to say Welcome back, babe but Taehyung barrels on him on the next second, body crashing into Jeongguk, legs and arms wrapping around him and in his state of weakness due to fatigue, just woken up with bones weary, Jeongguk and, consequently, Taehyung falls to the floor with a loud crash.

A groan escapes Jeongguk, breath escaping him in a loud huff, Taehyung’s weight on him making him wheeze. He would have pushed Taehyung off of him but the laugh that graces his ears and the warmth of the body laying on top of him makes him smile wide, arms coming up to wrap around Taehyung’s shoulders. His fingers grips the jean jacket Taehyung’s wearing, tightly. He feels grounded.

Taehyung repeats, "I’m back, Gukkie."

Jeongguk hums, lips still stretched into a huge grin, "Welcome back, Tae."

 

This time, the sun is already rising, streams of orange and lilac peeking through the curtains. The windows are open and the mild breeze of the wind ruffles them. Jeongguk watches the movement for a moment before he flutters his eyes close and throws his head back, a hitched moan escaping his lips.

"Tae," Jeongguk whispers, looking down at Taehyung through half-lidded eyes.

Taehyung looks back at him, eyes dark and he looks ethereal in between Jeongguk’s legs, fingers spreading Jeongguk’s entrance with a languid pace. He’s teasing, Jeongguk knows, insides twisting at the pleasure building inside him.

"Yes?" Taehyung sing-songs, fingers dragging out slowly before slamming back inside Jeongguk, eliciting a loud groan originating deep from Jeongguk’s core.

Jeongguk leans up, bending his elbows and reaches a hand to scratch the side of Taehyung’s neck, blunt nails leaving faint red marks. Jeongguk wishes he can leave permanent ones, but he can’t. So he settles for this.

"Stop teasing." The nails on Taehyung’s neck trails up, threading through his hair. "Or else I’ll fucking sleep again and you’ll be left jacking off in the shower."

Taehyung snorts and rolls his eyes, "Pfft. Yeah right, babe."

"Fine. I’m going back to sleep. I’ve got class in a few hours," Jeongguk says and lays on the bed, pretends to snore.

In retaliation, Taehyung fits another finger inside Jeongguk, making the boy jolt and hiss in surprise. Taehyung laughs and Jeongguk kicks his bare hips with his leg.

"Right. Fine," Taehyung mutters and retracts his fingers. He leans down and kisses the tip of Jeongguk’s hard cock, sucking and licking pre-cum as he pumps the base because he’s a tease before he moves his body up, hovering over Jeongguk.

Blinking his eyes, Jeongguk smiles at Taehyung, lazy, sleepy. His body, despite being awake for almost an hour after Taehyung’s surprise visit, is still pliant, soft in the early morning light. He traces Taehyung’s furrowed brows with his fingers briefly, watching them relax before he wraps his arms around Taehyung’s neck, feeling Taehyung’s lube covered length against his stretched hole.

Taehyung slowly pushes in, one hand gripping Jeongguk’s hips and one bunching the bed sheet tightly. He leans his forehead on Jeongguk’s own, breathing heavily as he continues to move forward, body strung out, tense. Jeongguk’s own body isn't any better, tense as Taehyung settles fully inside him, tight heat enveloping Taehyung’s pulsing cock.

Breathing against Taehyung’s parted lips, huffing puffs of air, Jeongguk finally relaxes, causing Taehyung to inhale a stuttered breath as he too unravels his taut body. Taehyung relaxes further after a minute, eyes fluttering open and meeting Jeongguk’s soft gaze. He exhales a breath and Jeongguk lazily smiles at him, leaning up and kissing Taehyung’s swollen red lips.

"Gukk," Taehyung grunts, fingers twitching on Jeongguk’s hips.

Jeongguk nods at him, wrapping his legs around Taehyung and urges him to move. "Move, babe."

And Taehyung moves, slow, matching the way the world is spinning - Jeongguk’s world - and Jeongguk pulls him closer as he gazes at Taehyung’s face, pleasure evident on the part of his mouth, lips slick with spit, and the flutter of his eyes, quick to open and meet Jeongguk’s stare. Taehyung’s gaze is filled with desire, dark and intense, his breath warm against Jeongguk’s own.

The feeling bubbling in Jeongguk’s stomach is one of oncoming orgasm and something— something so intense he moans loudly. Taehyung unravels the hand gripping the bedsheets and comes to wrap long fingers around Jeongguk’s leaking cock. Jeongguk moans loudly, head falling back, swallowing more moans down his throat as Taehyung thumbs the tip of his length. The legs wrapped around Taehyung tightens considerably which prompts Taehyung to quicken his pace, slamming his hips and thrusting inside Jeongguk’s insides faster, chasing desire, tasting completeness on the tip of his tongue.

Seeing Taehyung like this, all open and lovely and trusting, Jeongguk’s heart clenches. He pulls Taehyung into a deep kiss, tongue invading his mouth and licking the roof, so filthy, so good. He sucks on Taehyung’s tongue as he meets Taehyung’s thrusts, gradually becoming erratic, losing its rhythm and the sense of leisurely pace. Jeongguk doesn’t mind because he wants to fall—

fall, fall, fall.

And when Taehyung bites on his collarbones, grip tightening on Jeongguk’s cock and pumping it a few more times, Jeongguk buries his fingers on Taehyung’s soft hair, legs shaking. Jeongguk tugs on Taehyung’s hair harshly before he comes with a muffled moan, painting Taehyung’s hand with his release.

Taehyung thrusts inside him once, twice, thrice, making Jeongguk twitch in over-stimulation, before he pulls out and pumps his cock, using Jeongguk’s own come as lube to ease the action. Jeongguk watches Taehyung throw his head back, tanned neck on full view and sun-kissed skin dotted with the slowly intensifying faint rays of the sun peeking through the curtains. Taehyung fists his cock a few more times, moans escaping him before he whimpers, looks down at Jeongguk with eyes that makes Jeongguk want to bury himself inside Taehyung in the best way possible, Taehyung finally stills, body tensing and releases on Jeongguk’s stomach, white liquid splattered on Jeongguk’s clenched abs.

A breath escapes Jeongguk then. A few seconds passes before Taehyung leans down and kisses Jeongguk deeply, biting his lower lip teasingly. Jeongguk can feel the intense emotion rushing up from the pit of his stomach, and when Taehyung plants a final kiss on his lips, Jeongguk says,

"I love you so much."

Taehyung’s content expression morphs into surprise. Jeongguk watches him blink, stare at Jeongguk, an indecipherable emotion passing his eyes - uncertainty? Couldn’t be - before a wide grin blooms on his face.

Taehyung squishes Jeongguk’s face with his hands, filthy with lube and come and spit but Jeongguk doesn’t mind, and smooches him soundly before saying, "I love you too."

Jeongguk loves Taehyung.

And he’s glad that Taehyung loves Jeongguk, him, too.

xi

It starts when the band is celebrating an award. Jeongguk is there as Taehyung’s plus one even though he’s pretty much claimed a place in the group’s circle. He’s an unofficial member of the band, as Taehyung likes to call it.

The title was given to him when Taehyung has asked Jeongguk to sing one of the band’s song. Jeongguk has voiced out his hesitation, saying, "I’m not as good as you, Taehyung." but Taehyung brushes it off with a smile and pleading eyes, causing Jeongguk to sigh, open his mouth and start singing.

The rest is— history, kind of; but not before Jimin screams, "Taehyung! Leave now. Jeongguk is replacing you."

In which Taehyung retaliates with making a face, saying with a haughty voice, "You can’t replace beauty, brains, and talent, Jiminie. However," Taehyung dramatically pauses. "If you want my Jeonggukie to take your spot, I don’t mind."

Hoseok laughs at the background when Jimin tackles Taehyung to the ground, pulling the vocalist into a headlock. Seokjin shakes his head and continues discussing the pros and cons of a big venue versus moderate venue for their next concert with Namjoon, their manager. And Jeongguk— Jeongguk watches on the sidelines, snickers escaping past his lips.

Remembering that has Jeongguk snorting onto his glass of beer. They’re in Seokjin’s place, trying to drink in moderation but failing miserably once Yoongi enters the room.  He introduces himself to the band as Jeongguk’s Best Hyung and offers two bottles of vodka like a peace offering or a thank you for taking care of Jeongguk, that insufferable brat before making a beeline towards Hoseok, flashing the drummer a gummy smile. They click instantly and Jeongguk is amused.

Drinking in moderation has therefore been scratched out from the evening’s plans with Yoongi’s offering on the table and here Jeongguk is, standing on the steps of Seokjin’s place, puffing smoke out of his mouth.

"I thought you’re trying to quit," A voice reaches Jeongguk’s ears, causing him to choke on the smoke.

Coughing a few times, Jeongguk turns to face Taehyung who’s looking at him with a serves you right expression. Jeongguk ignores it and instead smiles at the idol.

"I was," Jeongguk says. "But it’s hard."

Taehyung settles beside him, putting a space between them. Jeongguk doesn’t take much notice since there are strangers around them. It’s fine.

"You’re seriously going to die early."

Jeongguk snorts and throws the unfinished smoke on the make-shift ashtray set beside a potted plant. "I know, love."

Facing Taehyung fully, Jeongguk brushes his fingers on the back of Taehyung’s knuckles laying on the idol’s side, limped and relaxed. He feels Taehyung tense at the brief touch but Jeongguk tries to tell himself that it’s nothing. Nothing.

It’s nothing when Taehyung, a little later, drunk in vodka and wine and beer clings to Jeongguk, whining at the other to take him home, exclaiming fuck me on the kitchen counter, Gukk!

It’s nothing because Taehyung is still there, beside Jeongguk.

Jeongguk is fine.

xii


Taehyung realizes it too late. Or honestly, he’s ignored it too long so the consequence to that is realizing it too late. He’s buried himself in writing music, trying to channel all his frustration on the one thing that has always been there for him; the one thing that has never changed.

The only thing that he has never stopped loving.

Pouring his emotions into music is easy enough, the lyrics flowing down the pages of countless of papers and the notes written hastily but clearly on music sheets. He gives his all, ignores the bitter feeling of guilt on the pit of his stomach and shuts out the world.

Shuts out Jeongguk.

Taehyung realizes it too late. He should’ve known better to procrastinate. Nothing good has ever come out of procrastinating. Especially when it comes to people; to someone he cares so deeply about.

Yet Taehyung has lost the love and he doesn’t know where it went.

The acknowledgement towards his fading affection comes when Jeongguk pulls him close. Taehyung doesn’t mind physical contact. In fact, he initiates it often and he lets Jeongguk hold him tight, arms wrapping around his waist as he buries himself on the crook of Jeongguk’s neck, inhaling the familiar scent. Something sweet, but also that distinct smell of Jeongguk that Taehyung’s always loved.

Loved.

"I missed you," Jeongguk says, lips forming into a small fond smile.

Taehyung prevents himself from looking away and instead forces his lips to smile back, hands coming up to cup Jeongguk’s cheeks.

"Yeah."

He doesn’t say I miss you too because— because that would have been a lie. And he’s lied - lying - enough to Jeongguk that it keeps him awake at night more often than not.

Jeongguk, however, just smiles and nuzzles Taehyung’s hands still on his face. He plants a kiss on both palms before leaning and capturing Taehyung’s lips on his own.

Taehyung presses his lips against Jeongguk, the action soft, gentle, like if he dives in for more, something between them is going to shatter. So, they kiss languidly, taking time in mapping each other’s lips, hands running down each other’s sides, back, chest, neck—

And Taehyung lets himself fall in the arms of Jeongguk, clutching the back of his neck as he lays on the soft sheets, Jeongguk hovering over him. He smiles when Jeongguk looks at him, eyes searching Taehyung’s own.

When Jeongguk litters kisses down his throat as he opens Taehyung up, fingers pushing deeper, Taehyung lets out a series of moans, eyes falling shut. He thinks of the first time he’s seen Jeongguk as Jeongguk adds another finger inside him. The first time Jeongguk has entered his vision, Taehyung’s heart picks up, like the slow verse before the bridge, leading to the climax. Taehyung’s heart bolts like a bullet train the very first time he’s seen Jeongguk but now, with Jeongguk beside him, hand cradling his cheek, Taehyung’s heart doesn’t pick up as fast.

It beats—

—so slow. So, so slow.

"Okay?" Jeongguk whispers against Taehyung’s lips, their breaths mingling into one.

Taehyung’s breath hitches as Jeongguk starts to push in, length slowly spreading Taehyung’s insides. He nods at the question, then croaks, "Yeah."

Jeongguk starts moving then, after a few minutes, and it’s like a slow dance, his hips moving in a pace that goes in tandem with Taehyung’s heart. The urge to tell Jeongguk to move faster, to get rougher, to wreck Taehyung just like before, overcomes him in a way that he has to bite his lip harsher to prevent himself from doing so. Taehyung doesn’t say anything and instead meets Jeongguk’s languid pace with a roll of his hips, eliciting a moan from the other.

It’s like they’re making love; love making in the slowest way possible and Jeongguk is looking at him so lovingly, like Taehyung’s an art that needs to be handled carefully, with a note fragile: touch with caution. Taehyung would have bristled because he’s far from fragile but Jeongguk knows that. What Jeongguk wants right now is slow even though Taehyung wants it fast.

What Jeongguk’s showing him right now is his deep love for Taehyung,

—but Taehyung wants nothing of that.

Once the thought crosses his mind, he pulls Jeongguk into a kiss, attaching their lips in a brutal kiss but somehow, it turns into small pecks that has Taehyung keening against Jeongguk’s lips. He thrusts his hips against Jeongguk’s own, Jeongguk’s length pushing deeper inside him and a bubble of emotion bursts inside Taehyung.

Threading his fingers in Jeongguk’s hair, he watches him huff a breath and bite his lower lip. Jeongguk’s eyes are half-lidded, filled with desire but most importantly, filled with so much love it starts to make Taehyung teary. In the midst of getting pounded slowly into the mattress, Taehyung pulls Jeongguk’s face closer, lips brushing against Jeongguk’s fluttering eyelashes.

Taehyung says, "I love you."

The words are bitter on his tongue but he does mean them, but not in the same way anymore.

Jeongguk replies, small smile tearing at Taehyung’s inside, burning his conscience like no fire has ever done before, "I love you too, Tae."

xiii

Affection is Taehyung’s middle name. It might have also been Flirty and Tease but affection takes the cake.

Taehyung is someone who likes being around people; he basks in the attention and feels content in giving some. He doesn’t hold back; when he gives, he gives his all.

And it’s the same with love.

At least, he thought it was.

Now, Taehyung slams his palms on the piano, the dissonance making him flinch and frown at the ivory keys.

He’s thinking of all the the ghost touches setting his skin burning like hot lava, spreading like wild fire throughout his whole body. He’s thinking of soft lips scattering kisses from the top of his head down to the soft dip of his collarbone. He’s thinking of warm hands, finger pads pressing gently on his shoulders as he chases the pleasure building— running through his veins.

Taehyung’s thinking of all the affection dished out to him and he can’t— he can’t muster out any feeling but the clenching of his core, butterflies turning into bats, sharp fangs biting his insides, making him bleed inside out.

Kim Taehyung’s middle name is affection but he’s starting to think otherwise.

"Tae," Namjoon calls out from the doorway when the echoing of the piano dies down. Taehyung frowns at him.

"What?"

Namjoon sighs, entering the room fully. He settles beside Taehyung on the piano bench, fingers coming up to brush on the keys. He presses a C-Major then a G-Major and Taehyung rolls his eyes, slapping Namjoon’s hand away.

"Stop." Taehyung pats the ivory keys softly, in dark contrast to when he slammed his palms on it just a minute ago. "Don’t break my baby."

Namjoon huffs out a laugh. "Isn’t your baby Jeongguk?"

At the mention of the man, Taehyung  freezes. His heart starts beating in staccato. Not in excitement of the thought of Jeongguk, like before— weeks ago— a month ago

His heart is beating the way it is because he doesn’t feel the same way towards Jeongguk anymore. Even when he’s tried so hard looking for the feeling; trying to regain the emotions but he can’t. Couldn’t.

"I—" Taehyung swallows and looks to the side, away from Namjoon’s calculating gaze. "I guess."

Namjoon hears the uncertainty in Taehyung’s voice, the unattached way he’s talking about Jeongguk. So unlike when Taehyung ’s still pining.

"What happened?" Namjoon asks, quiet, feeling like he’s treading on dangerous waters.

Explaining what he’s feeling to someone is difficult. Taehyung doesn’t even know what happened. He’s clueless and it shows in the flick of his eyes, up then to the side; it shows on the way he chews on his lips vigorously, making them red, bloody red; and it shows on the way he’s now fidgeting with the sheets of music on top of the piano, wrinkling the edges in his agitation to do something with his hands. His anxiety is showing; vivid, crystal clear.

Namjoon watches him. Taehyung can feel his eyes on him, intense and questioning. When he sighs in defeat, leaving the sheets on his lap, rustling every time his legs bounces up and down, Namjoon finally relents and lays a hand on top of his. Taehyung looks at him and almost tears up because fuck. Just fuck.

"Fuck, hyung," Taehyung hisses, squeezing his eyes shut tightly until he sees spots before opening them again. "It’s like— one day I feel so much for him and the next— the next they’re gone. Like whoosh! gone. And every time he touches me so gently, I feel uncomfortable. Every time he tells me I love you, all I want to do is run for the hills." Taehyung explains, broken. "And I don’t know what to do."

“Slow down, Taehyung-ah.” Namjoon soothes, rubbing circles on Taehyung’s clenched knuckles. “What do you mean by that?”

Taehyung looks at Namjoon with eyes filled with regret and swimming with something akin to guilt.

“I don't feel the same way towards Jeongguk anymore, hyung.” Taehyung says and the words slams into him so hard he gasps for breath.

Not saying anything about something makes the illusion that it isn't true and that's why Taehyung has avoided acknowledging his dwindling feelings; ignores the bats clawing inside his stomach every time Jeongguk looks at him so softly, and tries with immense difficulty to remain attached to the familiar feeling of Jeongguk’s whispered words of confession on his neck in the middle of the night. He tries so hard to forget that he himself is taken by surprise by his admission and once the words are floating in mid-air, unable to take them back, Taehyung watches - realizes - in horror that he majorly fucked up and is majorly fucked up.

It's a hard pill to swallow. Like thorns going down his throat, killing him slowly but surely.

“You don't love him anymore?” Namjoon asks, voice patient, reassuring.

Somehow, Taehyung finds that annoying yet comforting. He wants to tell Namjoon to punch him in the face for being like this but he also wants to hug Namjoon for being so understanding. So supportive.

Taehyung opts for clutching Namjoon’s hand in both of his, gripping tightly.

“Yeah,” Taehyung says; doesn’t add I do but it’s different now. “Remember when I used to gush over him? I don't feel like that anymore. I feel— hollow.” He explains, looking down and tracing the black and white keys on the piano with his eyes. “It's like I'm doomed to only love and not be loved in return. I don’t—” Taehyung hesitates, lips pulling down into a grimace. “I don't need his love. His love makes me uncomfortable. All I want to do is love him and love him so hard. Write him poems and sonnets and confessions and songs but without him reciprocating, you know?” The further he explains his situation, the more confident Taehyung is about the emotions swirling inside him.

Namjoon’s looking at him like he's some puzzle to be solved and Taehyung squirms on his seat. Taehyung likes attention, basks in it but this kind of attention he doesn't like. He's not some math problem or a lab rat waiting for the researcher’s evaluation; the verdict. Still, Taehyung waits until Namjoon speaks.

“You know,” Namjoon starts, voice soft, soothing. “I've heard about this before. Loving someone from afar, pining over them without the desire of the feelings being reciprocated.” He says and Taehyung listens, nodding. “It sounds like some tragic unrequited love but it isn't. You love and that's it. You're content in loving that person without asking for more. It’s— what was it? Aromantic? Something Akoiromantic?” Namjoon furrows his brows, trying to remember.

“Akoi?” Taehyung repeats. “Japanese?”

Namjoon shrugs, offering Taehyung a small smile. “I guess but there's an English term for it. I'm pretty sure it’s Lithromantic.”

“Lithromantic." Taehyung repeats, testing the words on his tongue. It’s foreign, unfamiliar in a way that his tongue curls slowly when phrasing the words as he tries to grasp what it means.

"Yeah," Namjoon hums. "You’re not the only one, Tae."

Instead of feeling comfort, a camaraderie with people the same as him, Taehyung feels anxious. "But that’s not love. That’s— that’s not romance. Where’s the romance in that?" The words streams quickly out of him, his chest falling up and down as he tries to take in much needed air.

It’s not love. I want to love Jeongguk. Jeongguk. Love.

"Taehyung-ah," Namjoon faces him fully, eyes gentle, like he’s handling a child. Taehyung feels like a child, less than a child. "Love isn’t always give and take. Sometimes, you love because you want to love, like doing the opposite feels wrong. You don’t need anyone’s opinion about your feelings nor do you need their permission to harbor those emotions. Love is just— well, love."

Taehyung shakes his head, lower lip trapped between his teeth before saying, "Love is romance, hyung. What’s the point of loving if I don’t want them to love me back?"

A sigh escapes Namjoon then. "I don’t know but ask yourself, do you feel better with Jeongguk or without Jeongguk? Love him more now that he’s closer than before or not? I don’t have answers for you. The only person who has that is you."

Now that someone’s questioning him, asking the right questions, Taehyung starts to think. Back to the day when all he sees of Jeongguk are glimpses; not clear but still has him trembling on his spot, heart trying to escape out of his chest to chase the man. Taehyung compares it to now, when Jeongguk’s hands are on his reach, just a hair breadth away from his; it doesn’t make him wanna chase, instead he feels content with the distance. That small distance keeping him close yet far from Jeongguk.

He takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and lays a hand above where his heart is beating for Jeongguk but at the same time not.

"I love him, hyung," Taehyung says. "But it’s not the same."

That's how Taehyung finds out that one falls in love; deep, deeper, deepest—

—but really doesn't need to be loved back.

He just wishes he realized it earlier, before Jeongguk has carved a spot in his heart just for the spot to turn into a blackhole, taking every feelings that Taehyung has harbored for months towards Jeongguk.

Still, Taehyung’s glad to know.

Even though it hurts.

xiv


Jeongguk is not fine.

"Why are you being like this?"

Taehyung glances at him briefly then goes back to his music sheets, scribbling notes like his life depends on it.

Jeongguk knows music is Taehyung’s life. Taehyung lives off of words scribbled on paper, on every surface of his room, on every nook and cranny of Jeongguk’s body. And Jeongguk understands his need for isolation but it’s been weeks of Taehyung ignoring Jeongguk, conversations limited to hi, hello, good morning, have you eaten? and goodbye. The last one makes Jeongguk swallow hard every time Taehyung opens the door, looks at Jeongguk with solemn eyes, utter the word, then closes the door silently like he’s leaving Jeongguk’s life for good. Like he’s not coming back. And Jeongguk sits there, contemplating, over-thinking; his mind is exhausted and his heart is scared yet he’s still grasping on tiny threads of hope lingering whenever Taehyung comes back to him in the dead of the night, smelling like nature— freshly cut grass, and the very air, the only air, that Jeongguk needs.

"Taehyung," Jeongguk sighs, looking at Taehyung pleadingly. He wants to talk; just like before. When they sit around, watching shitty tv shows, and making rude comments about the characters. They haven’t done that in so long and Jeongguk misses them.

Misses Taehyung despite the other just being an arm’s reach from him.

So close yet so far. The words rings truer this time than when he’s just seeing Taehyung on the screen.

It hurts.

Taehyung balls up the music sheet and throws it on the trash, missing just a few inches, the paper falling beside the bin.

"Tae," Jeongguk says again. "I miss you."

This time, the scribbling and any sound coming from Taehyung halts. Jeongguk watches as Taehyung chews on his lower lip, grips his pencil tightly before he drops it and turns to Jeongguk. Finally, finally.

"Jeongguk," Taehyung mumbles, eyes flicking to Jeongguk, fleeting, before he looks down again, gaze trained on the blank sheet in front of him. "I’m sorry." Taehyung says, quiet but clear.

Jeongguk’s ears rings, or is that the fire alarm? Or maybe his own alarm telling him to abort! abort! escape now, Jeongguk! but he doesn’t listen. He stays standing, looking at Taehyung with wide eyes, not quite comprehending what’s happening.

"What?" Jeongguk says and wipes his now sweaty palms on his jeans, preventing himself on choking from the emotions suddenly crashing into him, making his mind reel.

"I’m sorry," Taehyung repeats, louder this time. Final. Sharp. Flat. All in one. Jeongguk clenches his jaw. "It’s not your fault. I tried— I really… I tried so hard." Taehyung breathes in and Jeongguk sees his lips are trembling, his eyes contorting into something akin to pain and Jeongguk’s heart clenches because he doesn’t like seeing Taehyung in pain. He’s seen enough of Taehyung in pain.

"What are you saying, hyung?"

What is going on, Taehyung? Jeongguk wants to ask, shout, yell but he ends up zipping his mouth because the expression on Taehyung’s face is so broken, so guilty that Jeongguk has the urge to cradle the other close to him; protect him from whatever is hurting him. Jeongguk, however, doesn’t reach out, stays in place, mustering all the self-control he’s got left in his body.

"It’s—" Taehyung starts and he looks up, meeting Jeongguk’s gaze. His eyes are watery. Jeongguk furrows his brows, confused. So, so confused. "I don’t know what happened, Jeongguk. It just… disappeared and Namjoon-hyung said it’s because I’m not built for love? I mean, relationship? Love and relationship?" Taehyung’s breaths are coming in quick huffs and his hands are trembling on the table, on top of the white paper decorated with lines, and with lyrics hastily written on it. Jeongguk blinks his eyes at the sight, trying so hard to not close up, to not feel numb.

What’s happening? Jeongguk thinks as he takes a step closer to Taehyung. It’ll take him approximately two steps. But he only takes one.

Taehyung continues, seeing that Jeongguk himself won’t - can’t - utter any word. "One day I loved you." Loved? Jeongguk swallows hard. "And the next day, when I woke up, I— I don’t anymore. Love you. I don’t love you anymore."

The silence that follows is deafening, Jeongguk wants to say but there is no silence. Not in his mind. There are crashing waves of pain, of disappointment, of hurt drowning him from the inside out and all he can feel is numb— numbness originating from the very core of his being; the very being that Taehyung owns, that he’s given to Taehyung, that he has trusted Taehyung to take care of.

His heart breaks.

"I don’t— I don’t understand," Jeongguk stutters, gulps and forces his muscles to move. He starts pacing the floor, looking at Taehyung from time to time. His mind is in chaos. His heart in shambles.

Jeongguk is breaking.

"You said you loved me, hyung," Jeongguk says, pleads. "You told me you love me and I love you. Taehyung, I love you. I don’t understand what you’re saying." He runs a hand through his hair, gripping tight and pulling because fuck, fuck. "Did you even love me?"

Hearing the words, Taehyung jolts from his seat, looking livid and offended.

"I loved you!" Taehyung screams at Jeongguk who winces at the sound, the words echoing throughout the room, bouncing on the walls and hitting Jeongguk like a fright train. Loved. Loved. Loved. The past tense hurts more than it should. "I loved you so much, Jeongguk. Don’t you dare question that. My feelings for you were true." Taehyung’s voice gradually becomes quieter until it’s a mere whisper. "Please. Don’t do this to me."

Jeongguk shakes, quivers at how he’s trying not to shout back, retaliate the same way. He clenches his hands into fists, swallowing the lump stuck on his throat, preventing him from breathing properly. It’s hard to breathe when the reason he’s breathing is the one trying to suffocate him.

"Don’t do this to you?" Jeongguk whispers past his gritted teeth. "What about me, Taehyung? What about my feelings? I’m telling you, don’t do this to me." He can feel tears building behind his lids, threatening to fall. "I love you."

Taehyung’s the first one to cry, a drop of tear trailing down his face, followed by more. He’s always been sensitive; always feeling more, always giving more.

"I’m sorry," Taehyung chokes out before a sob escapes him and he bends, hands on his knees, face down and hidden from Jeongguk’s gaze. "I’m sorry. I’m really—" Another sob. "I’m really sorry, Jeongguk."

Jeongguk rubs his face and feels it wet. When did the tears start flowing? He doesn’t know but now, he feels like bawling his eyes out. Just like Taehyung. Maybe more than Taehyung. Instead of doing just that, he wipes his face and strides to the couch, letting his body fall on it before training his gaze on Taehyung.

"But how, Taehyung?" Jeongguk asks, voice shaky. "Did you just— wake up and decided that you don’t love me anymore?" He laughs, bitter, flat. No humor. "Looked at me one day and thought, oh, I don’t love Jeongguk anymore, let’s just ignore him until he gets it and leave me alone. Is that it?"

Taehyung shakes his head vigorously and chants, still leaning on his knees. "No," He says. "No, no, no." The words is repeated more, like a mantra, a chant to keep him grounded. Jeongguk can see he’s breaking and Jeongguk hates this. How can he prevent Taehyung from breaking when Jeongguk himself is shattered to pieces already?

Can someone already broken heal someone breaking?

"Then what, Tae?" Jeongguk’s voice is tired. In a span of twenty minutes— give or take five, his whole world exploded in misery.

"No," Taehyung repeats. "I looked at you one day and I felt… nothing."

xv

Love has no timeline. It comes and goes as it pleases. And sometimes, it stays. For long.

In Jeongguk and Taehyung’s case, love defies all timeline.

Because Jeongguk is still in love and Taehyung is saying, saying, he’s not.

"Lithromantic?"

Taehyung nods, cradled beside Jeongguk. He sniffs and in retaliation, Jeongguk sniffs too, grip tightening around Taehyung. He doesn’t want to let go. Never wanted to let go but Taehyung squirms a bit, lips tugging down into a slight uncomfortable frown and Jeongguk loosens his hold. Just a little. Taehyung breathes easier.

"Yeah," Taehyung whispers. "Namjoon-hyung told me about it when I explained my situation to him."

Jeongguk is trying to understand. Trying to pinpoint when their relationship ended without him knowing. Trying to dig through every memory he has, scalpel in hand, cutting sheets with sharp precision.

He comes up empty.

Except, Taehyung, as he recalls, stops answering his phone calls in a matter of seconds; instead, the calls are always answered when it’s about to go to voicemail. There’s also a picture of Jeongguk’s apartment slowly becoming barren of Taehyung’s things when weeks ago— before everything starts to fall apart, Taehyung’s music sheets are scattered on the coffee table; and Taehyung’s plush Vick is still on the sofa but now, it’s gone, leaving Jeongguk’s plush Vudy alone.

Jeongguk now knows why the calls sound cold, sound as blank as a sheet of white paper. He now knows why his apartment feels like the middle of winter, leaving Jeongguk trembling under his blanket even when the season is changing to summer. At the realization, he has to hold back a whimper and prevent himself from burying his whole being inside Taehyung. He’s so in love it hurts—

but Jeongguk keeps telling himself to just let go because it’s what Taehyung wants. Needs.

"Explain to me, Tae," Jeongguk whispers, voice small, insecure.

So Taehyung explains, voice shaking in the middle, remembering what Namjoon has told him, has explained to him in details and Taehyung couldn’t even disagree because what else is the reason for his fading - faded - feelings? None but this.

He tells Jeongguk of the nights he spent reading about Lithromanticism, trying to find camaraderie in other people as he searches, scours, the internet for information. He finds some in English and asks Namjoon to help him.

It took him days, weeks, even to properly accept the fact that Taehyung isn’t built for that kind of love. He wishes he was but he isn’t and when he tells Jeongguk this, Jeongguk traces the veins on Taehyung’s knuckles, lightly brushing on his skin in a soothing manner.

Jeongguk listens intently, quiet as he holds Taehyung close to him, trying to remember the feeling of the other against his body because— because in the next second, minute, hour, it’s ending. Going way. Gone.

His clutch around Taehyung slowly tightens once again but Taehyung lets him despite the small squirms and the hitched breaths of slight discomfort escaping past his lips. Jeongguk is about to let him go— like brandishing a plaster off a painful wound; quick but effective because Taehyung sounds uncomfortable in his arms and Jeongguk has never wanted Taehyung to feel remotely close to that around Jeongguk. His arms are unraveling on their hold around Taehyung’s form when Taehyung holds on to him tightly, clutching on his biceps. Jeongguk swallows the hope that builds on the tip of his tongue.

No, he tells himself. Don’t.

"You don’t want my affection?" My love? Jeongguk cuts in as Taehyung explains the whys and the hows. More on the whys, less on the hows. Jeongguk’s heart feels like it’s ripped out of his chest in the worst manner possible.

Taehyung bites his bottom lip, nodding. "Yeah," He says. "I’m sorry."

Jeongguk shakes his head, starting to understand, although still confused. "It’s okay."

When Taehyung mutters his final words, the end of his story, mouthing them against the crook of Jeongguk’s neck, Jeongguk lets his eyes drop close, a tear sliding down his cheek as he buries his face on Taehyung’s hair, inhaling his scent, that distinct addictive scent that Jeongguk has learned to love.

"I’m sorry," Taehyung says. "I loved you."

Loved.

Jeongguk nods, lets out a choked, barely comprehensible Okay and holds Taehyung closer.

He mutters, "I love you."

So much, Tae.

xvi

"Goodbye, Jeongguk."

Jeongguk twitches his lips into a small smile.

"Goodbye, Taehyung."

Taehyung copies his expression, but with a hint of guilt.

"I’m sorry," Taehyung says. "Again."

"It’s okay," Jeongguk repeats.

Again.

It’s not okay.

xvii

Taehyung is an actor on top of being a musician. With being an actor, comes the lies, the glossed out words, the pretenses. It’s in built now, how Taehyung acts around people he’s not comfortable with and sometimes, people he cares for.

And Taehyung is a liar.

When he says he doesn’t feel the same way anymore, what Taehyung means is that the feeling has changed, turned upside down, luminance dimming into almost—

nothing.

But it’s not nothing because Taehyung stays up at night, thinking of Jeongguk, writing songs about Jeongguk.

And it’s Jeongguk, Jeongguk, Jeongguk.

However, this time, Taehyung recognizes the feeling of not wanting anything more. He still fantasizes about them together, of their late night talks, of their pranks towards each other, of stolen kisses, of tight hugs leaving him breathless.

But he doesn’t desire more.

He loves Jeongguk.

Loves, loves, loves Jeongguk but he’s content with watching him from afar; from the stage, only catching a glimpse of dark eyes, glinting with different colors, sometimes recognizing the camera covering squishy cheeks. And Taehyung knows Jeongguk’s looking at him with a gentle expression; tender, understanding, loving.

Taehyung is a liar and he loves Jeongguk.

xviii

"Thanks everyone!"

The crowd roars and the man on stage laughs, throwing his head back, sweat dripping down his neck as he grips the microphone on his hand. He sends a smile towards the screaming crowd, some girls with tears streaming down their faces. It’s a scene to behold. Ridiculous but still a flattering scene.

"Encore! Encore! Encore!" The crowd chants, jumping on their feet like it will get the people on stage to do what they want.

"Let’s give it a thanks to the band, okay?" A hand swipes backwards like he’s presenting a gift, huge smile directed to the people behind him, equally sweating, equally exhausted but filled with adrenaline rush. "That right there, on the drums, is Hoseok-hyung! Ain’t he just a ball of energy, eh?" The crowd laughs. "Playing the bass is my small bestest friend, Jiminie!"

"I’m going to choke you."

"Later, babe," A flirty wink is thrown Jimin’s way and the crowd screams louder, deafening. "Alright. My Seokjin-hyung works that guitar fine, yeah? Give him an applause, please!" A loud applause commences, the name being chanted over and over again and the said man, Seokjin, smiles as he runs a hand through his sweat dampen hair.

"And I am Kim Taehyung, vocalist and pianist. It’s been good seeing you all again!"

Taehyung lets the sound of the audience wash through him, inside his veins and his running blood. He breathes in, tilts his head back and shuts his eyes, basking in the feeling of being on stage again, singing his heart out, giving his all.

Despite the heartbreak and the regrets and the glimpse of dark hair, doe eyes, and bunny smile, Taehyung thinks—

It’s good to be back.

"This last song is an unreleased one!" Taehyung chirps to the microphone. "It’s going to be on our next album. I hope— I hope you all like it." His voice becomes softer at the end, expression turning something akin to wistful, his eyes dropping to the floor for a brief moment and corners of his lips forming into a small smile.

Turning to his band members, Taehyung breathes in deeply, lets his heart beat fast—

—so fast. So, so, fast.

He says while looking at the boy hiding behind the familiar DSLR, "I hope you like it." And sings with his heart on his sleeve, none for the taken.

 

Jeongguk watches Taehyung, the flutter of his eyelashes caressing his cheeks, the fingers gripping the microphone lightly, the bead of sweat that runs down his neck, disappearing past his soaked shirt.

Jeongguk watches Taehyung and he feels his heart clench so tight he can’t breathe. He’s breathless.

Because after all of the things that he— they went through, the memories playing like a broken record inside his head, glitching every so often, Jeongguk still loves Taehyung so much.

As Taehyung glances at him while he takes pictures, just like before, and says, "I hope you like it," Jeongguk bites his lower lip, takes in a deep breath and tells himself to let go.

Let. Go.

Despite telling himself those words, Jeongguk still wants to hug Taehyung; kiss him breathless, touch his face softly, murmur words of encouragement in his ears, wrap his arms around him tightly, and love— love him with all the love that Jeongguk’s entire being can muster.

But Jeongguk has learned that the road to love is long—

and to heartbreak short.

xix

The interviewer asks, "What’s your new song about?"

Taehyung looks down, lips curling into a small, wistful smile and replies, "A special person."

.i

 

BTS new single topping the charts.

 

.i

 

BTS comeback.

 

.i

 

BTS fansign.

 

.i

 

BTS concert.

 

00

Taehyung is but a mere singer; vocalist of one of the most popular band in South Korea in this decade. He doesn't think himself above others nor does he think of other’s below himself. They're equal.

And that's why Taehyung enjoys interacting with his fans in close proximity. Signing autographs when he can, taking selfies when he has time and talking to them on SNS when he's on a five minute break from filming or practicing or recording; basically, working. Taehyung appreciates his dedicated fans, especially those that leaves a great impression to him. There are many of them but one— one catches his attention in the midst of screaming girls and clicking of cameras and body guards shielding his body.

One catches his attention and it's that boy, right over there, looking at Taehyung with wide doe eyes, lips slightly parted as he gazes at Taehyung, awe-struck; starstruck.

Taehyung pauses on his steps, just a breath of a second and glances back at the boy. He blinks at him, the boy blinks back and before Taehyung comprehends what he's doing, he's grinning wide and sending a wink playfully. He catches the boy’s cheeks bloom in red, spreading up his ears and it's adorable.

It leaves a lasting impression on Taehyung.

He doesn't forget the boy.

Never forgets.