"Why the hell should I do that?"
"Because you’re almost thirty."
"I’m only twenty five, what the fuck? What’s my age got to do with this?"
"I, personally, think that it’s time for you to settle down."
"I already did, Jimin."
Jeongguk runs his hands through his gel filled hair, grimacing at the sticky feeling on his fingers and wiping his hand on the back of Jimin’s couch which earned him a horrid screech of Stop tainting my beautiful furniture! Jeongguk rolls his eyes; fuck if he cares.
"Seriously though, Gukkie," Jimin sighs and settles down beside him, throwing an arm around his shoulders. "Just this once. Your parents agreed to this too."
"I don’t need anyone but my baby girl," Jeongguk grumbles, a small pout forming on his lips.
At the mention of the babe, Jimin smiles softly, nodding his head in understanding.
"I know that, Gukk. But don’t you think you and your little monster deserves to find love once again?"
Jeongguk frowns, contemplating the pros and cons. He doesn’t want to get into some meaningless relationship once again. He’s tried countless of times before and all of them failed quite grandly to please the most important person in his life.
It has always been like that and Jeongguk doesn’t see it changing anytime soon.
Despite the worries plaguing his mind, he sighs in defeat and looks at Jimin accusingly.
"Fine," He relents, sigh so deep he feels like it reached Hell itself. "But if monster doesn’t like them, they’re out of our lives in a heartbeat. Got it?"
Jimin grins, sits up, and claps his hands like a little child. "Oh, Gukkie! It’s not monster who’s going to choose them, it’s you. So you better choose a good one," He tells Jeongguk who wrinkles his nose at that bit of information.
"Whatever," Jeongguk grumbles.
Smiling happily, Jimin then stands up, not after ruffling Jeongguk’s messy hair and saying, "Time for me to get to work. Oh, so many things to do. So many people to meet. A wedding to plan!"
Jeongguk already regrets agreeing.
What the fuck is the Millionaire Matchmaker anyways? Fuck.
Taehyung smiles up at the sun beaming down at him, eyes squinting into small crescents. It’s a good day, he thinks, wiping the trickle of sweat running down the side of his face. The air is still, gust of wind coming in small intervals and that should have him whining actually because as much as Taehyung loves summer heat, he also hates summer heat. He doesn’t fancy sweating in buckets and smelling like he rolled on a ground full of pig shit. Nevertheless, today is an exception. He doesn’t mind the rays beating down on his tanned skin, making his skin glow and the small patch of freckles stand out.
"Good morning, sunshines," Taehyung greets, brushing his hands on the growing tomatoes on the ground. "How are you today, my little babies? I hope no insect invaded your privacy," He coos like he’s talking to his children and not some fruits disguising themselves as vegetables.
There’s a small scoff behind him. He’d know that scoff anywhere, everywhere, even in his deathbed.
"Yoongi," Taehyung turns and grins, smiling at the older whose hair is fading to a dull blonde. He still looks adorable, in Taehyung’s personal and too biased opinion.
After all, Min Yoongi is his favorite hyung; his songwriting, rapping, genius with his tongue (no innuendo intended just plain truth) hyung who takes care of him when he’s in Seoul and trying to survive the city life that he’s never been fond of.
"TaeTae," Yoongi greets back, hands on his pockets, lips curved into a small fond smile.
"Hyung," Taehyung cocks his hips to the side, haughty as he raises an eyebrow. "When did you get here? I told you to call me, didn’t I? So I can pick you up," A pout forms on his lips, brows furrowing in his faux anger.
Yoongi rolls his eyes and steps close. "Brat," He says before reaching an arm and ruffling Taehyung’s hair, now dark instead of the blonde he was sporting just two weeks ago. "I came early. Didn’t want to disturb your sleeping ass."
"That’s what she said," Taehyung wiggles his eyebrows, mirth in his eyes. Yoongi rolls his eyes again. Taehyung continues to beam.
"Anyways," Yoongi turns around and walks down the path of soil, fingers brushing green leaves that Taehyung has cared for all of his life with the exception of going back and forth to Seoul which sucks balls hard as he likes to say. Being in University in his late twenties sucks but he’s put it off enough. It’s time to finish his degree as much as he loathes to do it (he also does admit that he loves it. Very much so. It’s the air he breathes, along with oxygen).
"When are you coming back?"
Taehyung follows, boots scrunching on the gravel, face tilted just slightly up to soak the rays of the sun. He breathes in deeply, expression soft, content.
"Hmm," He hums, opening an eye to look at the back of Yoongi’s head. "I don’t know. The end of summer? Next year? Never?" Taehyung jokes. Half-jokes.
"Tae," Yoongi comes to a sudden stop and turns to Taehyung who almost bumps at him, letting out a gasp of surprise at the sudden pause. "You’ve got one year left," The tone of his voice makes Taehyung frown. If Yoongi isn’t so soft towards him, he would’ve been scolding Taehyung by now.
"I know but—" He whines, a groan following after. "I want to stay here, hyung," He sighs then adds, wistfully, pleadingly, "I want to stay with grandma."
And well, he can see that Yoongi knows; with the gentle curve of his lips, small smile forming on his face and the soft, understanding look on his eyes. "I know, Tae," Yoongi says as a hand takes Taehyung’s own with dirt on his nails, rough with years of labour. "Just a year more and you can move here."
The thing is, Taehyung doesn’t want to live in the city. He doesn’t hate the city but it suffocates him. The constant feeling of not belonging, of being different always claws inside him, making his throat tight and his heart beat faster than it should be.
Taehyung doesn’t hate the city life but he prefers the country; where the air is fresh, the people always smiling, silence deafening but comforting, and food organic instead of that mass produced import bullshit.
And he doesn’t have to conform to what society wants— tells him to be.
He can be a hella gay artist who paints hella awesome masterpieces while planting hella awesome veggies and fruits.
He’s more into this Hella Country Life than the Chaos City Life.
"Fine," Taehyung finally huffs and squeezes Yoongi’s hand before painting a smile on his face and twining his fingers with Yoongi’s, dragging the older to where he claims the strawberries are finally growing! And they taste so sweet. Sweeter than Suga-hyung. In which, as a retaliation, Yoongi trips Taehyung on the way, making the other flop his arms on the ground, dirtying his clothes further.
It’s a good day.
Jeongguk wants to punch a wall.
But all he does is bite his knuckles and scream into them. He doesn’t want to break anything in his anger. The laptop on the ground says otherwise, broken into two. That’s the second laptop he broke this week. Fuck.
He really should start boxing again. It’s his way to manage his anger management issues. Which, in his personal opinion, has been lesser the past few years.
Until, well, this year. This month. This week. This minute. This very milli second.
Groaning in defeat, he stands up and exits the room, office, prison, whatever. He needs a breath of fresh air or perhaps a good bottle of whiskey.
As he stomps down the corridor, takes the elevator down to the lobby and respectively stomps his way out of the building, earning him looks of curiosity from the receptionists working overtime, he chooses to calm himself the best way he knows.
By not breaking anything, of course. But instead, he takes the subway train to anywhere; he doesn’t care.
"Fuck," He slumps on the seat, closing his eyes.
There’s no one in this part of the train except for him and that boy wearing an ugly sweater he recognizes that Jimin gushed about last month. Some Saint Laurent shit that looks like a rag. Jeongguk eyes the man, dark hair a mess, skin tanned in that natural way that not everyone is able to achieve (beautiful), hands with remnants of dirt in them and nails long, soil stuck inside.
Jeongguk should be disgusted because he’s a neat freak; has a case of slight germaphobia that forces him to wash his hands every time he touches a foreign doorknob or really, anything.
But the way this boy, man, guy, bro— is so messy, ruffled in the best way with his face content, leaning on the window of the train, has Jeongguk’s chest unraveling with jealousy because he also wants to get dirty (in a not sexual way but that can be discussed over coffee and chocolate cereal). Despite his growing envy, Jeongguk admires the man’s guts to go out in such a horrid outfit with dirty hands, like the opinions of other people doesn’t matter.
Jeongguk wants to think like that. He does but it’s hard to when he’s grown up thinking that dirt under your fingers and a horrible set of clothes can be your downfall.
At least, in the society he lives in.
He doesn’t know in what society this guy belongs to but he wants to know— and perhaps join. Maybe.
Still staring, Jeongguk startles when the guy turns towards him, huge eyes boring holes into his own wide ones. He fumbles for a bit, swallowing spit and almost choking on it but catches his bearings after, clearing his throat and sending a small glare towards the guy.
The Guy is now watching him with furrowed brows and amusement dancing in his eyes. Jeongguk bristles because what the fuck is amusing, bro. He lets the boy know this by tilting his head and pursing his lips in a tight line.
"Cute," The guy says, voice surprisingly deep— possibly deeper than the Pacific Ocean.
Cute? What the fuck?
Jeongguk says as much, "What the fuck?"
A tinkling laugh graces his ears, washing over his entire being and settling on his chest. It’s the kind of laugh that isn’t fake, it’s full of cheer; something genuine and kind, unlike the humorless ones he’s so used to hearing his whole life.
Jeongguk tries not to admire the way it sounds; tries to not smile at how the guy’s eyes disappears as his lips stretches into a rectangular smile. It’s a unique one and Jeongguk—
He kind of likes it.
"Cute," The guy repeats before standing. "This is my stop."
Jeongguk hasn’t even noticed that the train has stopped, the announcement blaring in the speakers. He blinks and watches as the guy walks towards the opening doors but before that, he makes a beeline to where Jeongguk is sitting, reaches a hand, and ruffles Jeongguk’s gel filled hair with a fond smile on his face.
"Cheer up, kiddo." The Sweater Guy says, smile blinding. Jeongguk squints, feeling like the sun is in front of him, scorching him with its heat and trying to melt him from the inside out. Jeongguk puts his foot down. He refuses to melt for some weird ass guy who wears ugly branded sweater (even though it really does look good on him).
As a reply Jeongguk scoffs, swats the guy’s hand and says, "Mind your own business."
Sweater Guy chuckles, says a quick, "Cute," once again and steps out the doors of the train, offering a small wave towards Jeongguk’s way.
When the door closes and the train is moving again, Jeongguk sighs, leaning his head back and looks at the flickering light of the moving vehicle.
His anger has subsided, mind cleared from whatever problem has set him off and he’s quite— baffled. But he feels like more than a ton of weight has been lifted off his shoulders after the encounter earlier.
Jeongguk shakes his head, closes his eyes, and tries to forget ugly sweaters and blinding boxy smiles.
Yoongi has told him, "It will be fun, Tae."
That should have been enough to clue Taehyung that it definitely isn’t going to be fun. Yoongi’s definition of fun is Taehyung’s definition of torture. How has he forgotten? Taehyung agonizes.
Yoongi has dragged Taehyung from his farm, leaving his tomatoes alone for evil insects to fest on. He tells Yoongi this and the older only rolls his eyes at him, tells him that his grandma will take care of it before he shoves Taehyung in the passenger seat of his car and drives off to the sunset—
Sounds romantic, yeah? But when Taehyung is shoved into the shower, told to scrub carefully and use his beloved strawberry shampoo and body wash, he feels like he’s sold his soul to the devil that is Min Yoongi.
Now Taehyung is fidgeting on his seat, looking around like a trapped mouse as other guys and some girls chatter about this and that. Taehyung can’t focus, Yoongi’s words echoing in his mind and giving him an unnecessary headache.
"You’re going to be on a show, okay?"
"Yeah. Heard of Millionaire Matchmaker before?"
Taehyung nods, still confused. "Yeah. Isn’t that where pretentious assholes try to score a date with girls and fail miserably?"
Yoongi laughs and pats Taehyung’s cheeks affectionately. "That’s one way to describe it," Taehyung nods as he listens. "You’re going on it."
Taehyung takes the information in. He blinks, then frowns as he shakes his head. "But— I’m not a millionaire? You, yes but me? Nah. I’m a farmer, hyung."
"Aww, baby," Yoongi coos at Taehyung’s adorable confusion. Taehyung pushes his face away, acting annoyed but the smile on his face tells Yoongi otherwise. "You’re not the millionaire. You’re going to be one of the date contestants."
"Wait—" Taehyung stares then bursts out, "What?! Hyung! What the fuck? I don’t want to. What the hell? How can you do this— I’m— I—" In the end, lost for proper words, Taehyung stomps his foot, pouts angrily and looks away from Yoongi to glare at the leaves falling from a tree.
"Tae," Yoongi says, careful, voice soft. "You gotta get over that fear of commitment, okay? It’s high time you get back to the dating business."
Taehyung whines, pout still marring his face. "But not like this, hyung. I know I haven’t been so—" He pauses as he looks for the right word to use. "—welcoming to the idea of dating these past few years but hyung, not like this."
Yoongi frowns as he looks at the indecision in Taehyung’s eyes. He sighs and takes Taehyung’s hands in his, tracing the callouses on his palms. "Just try it, Tae. Hey, if you’re lucky enough, no one will choose you. Just have fun. Be yourself. Okay?"
Taehyung chews on his lower lip, contemplates the pros and cons before he nods, relenting.
"Okay." He says. "Okay, but if this goes to shit, I’m blaming you and you have to buy me Jjajangmyeon for a whole year."
"Deal," Yoongi agrees, gummy smile showing. Taehyung smiles back and heaves a sigh.
And now, here he is, dressed in the tightest skinny jeans that Yoongi has insisted he wear and one of his loose sweater that has a rip on the neck of it, his collarbone on full view. He looks good but despite amazing visuals, his nerves are on edge, fingers fidgeting with each other and legs bouncing as he waits for some Park Jimin to call them to the next room and evaluate them. It’s nerve-wracking but Taehyung is going to heed Yoongi’s advice. He’s going to be himself and no one else.
Sitting in a plastic chair is tiring, hurts his ass, and Taehyung is about to stand up, start pacing and perhaps burn a hole on the floor when a guy with bleached blonde hair shows up, grinning at them, at him. Taehyung’s heart beats faster.
"Hi! I’m Jackson," He introduces with a huge smile. His excitable energy is infectious and somehow, Taehyung feels himself smiling back, albeit small, but still a smile.
Some people greets back while Taehyung nods, still nervous.
Jackson eyes all of them, eyes falling on Taehyung for a brief moment before moving on to another person. Taehyung chews on the inside of his cheek, anticipation running through his veins.
"Right," Jackson finally says. "You, you, and you. Come with me."
Jackson’s finger points at Taehyung and he has to blink, twice, thrice, to decipher what’s going on. When Jackson offers him a smile and ushers them to follow him, Taehyung can’t help but nod and move his legs, following like a lost puppy.
When he enters the room, Taehyung sees two other person. There’s a black haired guy with the cutest eye-smile Taehyung’s ever seen and a girl with long black hair. He wonders who’s Park Jimin and finds out when they introduce themselves. Leaving Taehyung baffled As Fuck.
"Hello! I’m Park Jimin," Cute Eye-smile guy says.
"And I’m Park Jimin," Long Black-haired girl says.
Apparently, both of them are Park Jimin.
Taehyung has never been more confused in his life but this is South Korea, after all. He shouldn’t be this surprised. But he is. Go figure.
"As you know, I’m Wang Jackson," Jackson grins. "Right. Here’s their profiles."
Taehyung watches as both Jimins reads the three profiles. He doesn’t even pay attention when the other two are evaluated and only snaps out of it when one gets into a verbal fight with Guy Jimin, accidentally or intentionally saying that Jimin is short and should, probably, drink more milk.
"You, shoo. Don’t show your face in my agency again. I swear to god—" Jimin, the guy one, jesus fucking christ, hisses, flipping the folder of profiles and finally gets to Taehyung’s own.
Taehyung doesn’t even know what’s written there. Yoongi’s the one who has filled it, after all. For all Taehyung knows, Yoongi has written that he’s a stripper in need of Sugar Daddy when in reality, Taehyung is an independent man who don’t need no man to cater to his needs. Thank you very fucking much.
"Kim Taehyung?" Guy Jimin looks at Taehyung, narrowing his eyes as he scans Taehyung from head to toe. "Yoongi’s friend?"
At the mention of Yoongi’s name, Taehyung nods quickly, ignores the butterflies in his stomach and says, "Yeah. That’s me."
"Hmmm," Girl Jimin hums, looking down at the folder in front of her before tilting her head to glance at Taehyung questioningly. "Still in University? Aren’t you too old?"
Taehyung bites his lip and shrugs, "I guess. But it doesn’t matter if I’m twenty or thirty, as long as I’m finally following my dreams, I don’t care what other people says."
Girl Jimin smiles. "What’s your major, Taehyung?"
"Van Gogh is one of them."
"Okay, Jimin. Twenty questions is finished," Guy Jimin says and smiles at Taehyung. "What do you think of kids, Taehyung?" He questions, eyeing Taehyung intensely.
At the mention of kids, Taehyung brightens up, his shy demeanor flying out the window and replaced by a guy with a blinding boxy smile and sparkling eyes.
"I love kids," Taehyung says, adoration mixing with his deep voice. "I mean, not in a pedophile way. That’s just gross. But I have two younger siblings that I basically helped raised with my grandma." He informs, smile unfaltering.
Jimin watches closely, nodding as he takes in Taehyung’s answer. "Do you want kids in the future?"
Taehyung’s expression then turns wistful, smile dimming into the smallest of them all as he looks down and shifts on his feet. He looks up again and faces Jimin with slightly regretful eyes.
"I guess. Yeah, I do. I once wanted to name my son Taekwon and my daughter Taeguk. I’ve always wanted kids but this is South Korea and being gay is a sin. It’s impossible."
There’s defeat in his voice and Taehyung frowns at himself for opening a part of him to some strangers. He bites at his lower lip, brows pinching together as he tries to not suffocate in the silence that has followed his confession.
Jimin’s eyes fills with amusement for a brief moment before it turns to something akin to pitying, almost understanding. Taehyung doesn’t want any pity. He’s thankful when Jimin shifts his expression, eyes suddenly staring hard at Taehyung, boring a hole on his face. Taehyung fidgets with the end of his shirt, peeking at Jimin through his eyelashes as the other examines him with an intensity that he doesn’t quite comprehend.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, Jimin opens his mouth and says, "That’s good." He smiles, nodding. "You’ll be perfect for him."
Taehyung blinks, confused. "Huh?"
Jimin only shakes his head, waves a hand in the air as dismissal and faces Girl Jimin and Jackson. "I like this kid Taehyung," Jimin tells them like Taehyung isn’t there. He frowns but says nothing. The other two nods in agreement and Taehyung breathes out a quiet sigh of relief.
Jimin faces him again and smiles, eyes crinkling into the smallest of crescents, making him look youthful; handsome. "You look great," He starts. "Has good morals, likes kids, and will probably put Jeongguk in his place. Hoseok will most likely choose you too. Let’s see. Come to the gathering dressed like this. Your collarbones are sexy," Jimin says, then grins and winks at Taehyung.
"Thank you," Taehyung rolls his eyes, a slight blush rising on his cheeks as his fingers twitch by his sides, the urge to touch his collarbone suddenly overcoming him. Damn Park Jimin.
"Alright. That’s good. We’ll send you the information about the gathering as soon as possible. Have a nice day, folks."
Taehyung nods, waves a goodbye while smiling his boxy smile and finally exhales a breath of relief when the door closes behind him.
Jeongguk’s set mood these days are annoyed, irritated, mad or angry.
Yes, he knows they’re all synonyms of each other. He’s not a grammar nazi for nothing. That, however, shows how he’s seriously So Done with his life. Or, in this case, Park Jimin.
"Okay," Jimin beams, hands clasped on the table with his cup of Frapuccino half-way done.
Jeongguk wrinkles his nose. "Okay what?"
Jimin continues to beam, condescending in all the ways Jeongguk hates. "I found the perfect guys and girls for you. They’re all amazing."
"I don’t care?"
"Doesn’t matter, babe," Jimin replies. "Because you’re still going to meet them, choose one to go on a date with for a day and perhaps, hopefully, find your one true love."
Hearing the ridiculous words uttered by Jimin, Jeongguk scoffs loudly against the rim of his cup of Americano. "True love?" He mumbles and rolls his eyes. "Yeah, right."
A familiar squeal catches Jeongguk’s attention and immediately, his mood does a one hundred eighty degree; happy, loving, content.
Jeongguk puts the cup of coffee on the table, stands from his seat and turns to the little girl running towards him.
"Monster," Jeongguk breathes out as he crouches down and opens his arms for the girl to barrel into him, wrapping small arms around his neck.
"I miss you, daddy," The girl nuzzles against the crook of his neck and Jeongguk’s heart clenches inside his chest.
He stands up, cradling his daughter in his arms and sits on the seat he has abandoned, placing the girl on his lap.
"I miss you too, baby girl," Jeongguk replies, kissing the tip of her nose. "But why are you here?"
Dark strands of hair whips side to side as the girl shakes his head and giggles. "I missed you! Grandma brought me here."
Jeongguk blinks and looks around but doesn’t find his mother. "Okay— Where’s grandma now?"
"Mhm," The girl nods, playing with the collar of Jeongguk’s shirt. "She told me to say hi to you and that grandpa and her are off to vacation this weekend."
Jeongguk blinks again, trying to decipher what his daughter is telling him. Apparently, his mother decided to relent to their granddaughter’s whims or perhaps, whines of missing Jeongguk, prompting them to bring her in the coffee shop that he frequents. The only coffee shop that Jeongguk has ever liked.
And now, his daughter is telling him that they’re off to vacation this weekend? What the hell.
"But—" Jeongguk stutters, looking at his daughter in disbelief. "You’re supposed to stay at grandpa’s this weekend."
"Hi, Taeguk-ah," Jimin cuts in, amusement dancing in his eyes.
Jeon Taeguk, Tae-ah for short, daughter of Jeon Jeongguk and the only love of his life, faces Jimin with a tilt of her head and a haughty cock of her brow. Too haughty for a five year old, in fact. Jimin swears the girl has something against him.
"Jiminie," Taeguk beams, face splitting into a gorgeous smile. Both the older men melts. "You’re here?"
Jimin rolls his eyes and sticks his tongue out good-naturedly. "Of course, baby," He replies and reaches out to pinch Taeguk’s cheek lightly. "Why do you like ignoring me, hm?"
Taeguk turns to her father then, stares at Jeongguk for a while who plants a kiss on her cheek before looking at Jimin once again. "Because you steal daddy from me all the time."
Jimin mutters a quiet oh, yikes, laughs loudly and shakes his head. "Sorry, Tae-ah. I won’t do it again."
A frown pulls on the little girls adorable face as she looks accusingly at Jimin. "You said that last time too!"
"Oh," Jimin’s eyes widened. "Huh."
Jeongguk watches the both of them bicker as he rubs soothing circles on his daughter’s back. He laughs at Jimin’s bewildered expression, muffling the sounds as he buries his face on his daughter’s dark hair.
"Oh my god," Jeongguk gasps and looks at Taeguk proudly. "You really are bossy, aren’t you?"
Taeguk puffs her chest, white dress making her look angelic but mischievous smile saying otherwise. "Of course!" She exclaims, smiling proudly. "I’m like daddy. The boss. The big guy. Like daddy and grandpa."
"But you’re a girl—" Jimin starts and shuts his mouth immediately when Taeguk turns her attention to him with the cutest glare he’s ever seen.
"I’m a boss like daddy," She insists, shifting on her perch on Jeongguk’s lap and crosses her little arms in front of her chest. She then looks at Jeongguk with a pout, accompanied by puppy eyes. "Right, daddy?"
Jeongguk nods immediately and throws Jimin a mock glare. "Of course, monster. You’re the boss of boss. Grandma is a boss too. Of course," He’s quick to reassure the little girl with a firm nod, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
Taeguk turns to Jimin again with a huge smile. "See?"
Jimin rolls his eyes at the father daughter duo, too fond to even argue with them. "Of course, love."
At the agreement, Taeguk finally settles down and plays with Jeongguk’s phone, maneuvering around the device with surprising ease. Jeongguk isn’t worried and lets her be, pressing a soft kiss on top of her head before facing Jimin with a serious face.
"Where were we again?"
Jimin shrugs and pushes his empty cup to the side, "True love, Gukk."
Jeongguk frowns, "Right." He looks down at Taeguk who’s managed to open some random game on his phone. "I don’t know, Jimin. Mom and dad are off to vacation and no one is babysitting Taeguk. The show gathering is this weekend, yeah?"
Jimin nods and frowns as he watches Jeongguk help Taeguk match the colors on a game, making the girl giggle when the bubbles on the screen pops. "Yeah, it is. I’d re-schedule but I’ve already sent the invitations and it’s too late now."
A deep sigh escapes Jeongguk. "I don’t know," He repeats. "You know I don’t like leaving Tae with strangers."
"Well," Jimin’s expression tells Jeongguk that it’s not only well he wants to say. He waits with bated breath, wanting to know the meaning of the sparkle that has appeared on Jimin’s eyes as he looks at Jeongguk but also dreading it. Contradiction is a bitch. "You can bring Taeguk to the set."
The suggestion has Jeongguk frowning deeply, brows furrowing in disapproval. "I don’t want to expose her to the awful limelight yet, Jimin. You know that."
"She’ll have to in the future, anyway, Gukk," Jimin reasons and sighs, placing his palms flat on the table. "And we’re not going to film her. She’s just going to watch and you can look after her. I’ll look after her. Even Joonie will."
Running out of choices, Jeongguk clicks his tongue, helps his daughter pop another set of bubble on the game she’s still playing and says, "Fine. We’ll be there."
The smile on Jimin’s face is blinding and unfortunately, scheming.
Jeongguk can only hope the weekend will go as smoothly as it can be.
It’s the weekend and Taehyung is not ready for this.
This being appearing on a show and becoming - maybe, hopefully not - some millionaire’s toy or date or whatever this show calls it. Taehyung calls it Bullshit; a cure for desperation in these rich entitled bastards who has too much time in their hands. Because who the hell does this? Who wants to be on this kind of television show? Not Taehyung. Definitely not him.
And yet, here he is, staring at his closet, wondering what to wear. Jimin has told him that what he has worn at the interview has looked great on him; sexy. So he’s trying to find just the right outfit, something similar yet different. He doesn’t think his normal wide pants and loose oversized shirt is going to get the thumbs up from Jimin— both Jimins and Jackson. Thinking about the trio has Taehyung’s lips forming into a frown. He sighs and puts his hand on his waist, cocking his hips as he narrows his eyes at his closet, like it’s offending him on a whole new different level.
It isn’t. Not yet, anyways.
"Ugh," Taehyung groans, blinks his eyes and berates himself for thinking so much about this. Didn’t he say he’s not thrilled at being picked to be someone’s toy? So, why the motherfuck is he agonizing about what to wear? Jesus.
Sighing deeply, Taehyung stands a few more seconds in front of his closet before stepping close to it. He takes out a black casual looking formal pants, a blue checkered button up shirt and a black shirt to go under it. He puts them on the bed, scrutinizes them intensely before he nods to himself.
He mutters, "Right, that’s good enough," and continues to get ready, fingers constantly twitching in anxiety.
When he’s finally ready, he shoots Yoongi a message.
i still hate you.
i love you too.
i’ll be there.
i’m not god but good enough.
just hurry, hyung.
The exchange has him relaxing while making his way inside the establishment they’re having the gathering. It’s a simple looking restaurant; not too fancy, not too shabby. Taehyung is thankful for that. He doesn’t quite know what to do if Jimin has chosen a high-end place and Taehyung somehow - because he’s got Bad Luck chasing his tail - does a perfect copy of Ouran High School Host Club’s Haruhi (Real Life Version), bless that anime.
As he enters, he’s greeted by a beaming Jackson who ushers him inside a private room, big enough to house twenty or so people. Taehyung bites his lower lip while looking around, observing, keeping himself mum for now.
He’s thanking a waiter, smiling softly, when Jimin comes in with a flourish, exclaiming, "Hello, beautiful people! Ready to meet your millionaires?"
Taehyung’s eyes widens at the mention of more than one millionaire. Jesus, he didn’t sign up for this. Yoongi did and yet, it’s Taehyung who’s suffering.
What a life he is leading. Really.
A chorus of yes! bring them in! and sure! echoes around the room, sans Taehyung, of course. He’s not ready. Taehyung doesn’t think he’s ever going to be ready. Despite nerves wrecking havoc inside his body, Taehyung finds himself taking a deep breath, eyes closing for a mere second before opening them again.
And when he opens them, he’s faced with two unfamiliar men; one smiling brightly, like the sun is shining out of his ass and one with a passive expression, eyeing the people around him with calculating eyes.
Taehyung pauses when he meets the other’s gaze. That— looks familiar. Taehyung wracks his brain of where he’s seen the other man, lower lip in between his teeth and gnawing at it while thinking. He only catches Jimin introducing the two of them; Jung Hoseok and the familiar guy, Jeon Jeongguk. Other than that, he hears nothing, not when Jimin tells everyone to, "Enjoy! Socialize and limit yourselves to two glass of drinks. Don’t get drunk, folks," before the host ushers to the side, behind the camera crew and talks to the director.
Honestly, Taehyung should have paid attention, stop staring at the familiar man and start socializing but he doesn’t. Not until he remembers. It clicks in his brain and before he can do anything, he’s facing the man who’s talking to some girls, smiling at them sweetly, charmingly.
Taehyung exclaims dramatically, "You’re that cute pretentious asshole from the train!"
The man, Train Man for now, turns to Taehyung, head whipping so quickly that Taehyung winces in pain in the other’s stead. That must have hurt.
Five seconds pass - Taehyung has kept count - before the other’s eyes widens in recognition. He watches as the man reels back, face contorting into an offended expression.
Jeongguk honestly is a good man. He’s a good man who loves his daughter dearly and sends gifts to his parents, special occasion or not. So he doesn’t fucking know what he’s done to deserve someone accusing him to his face - his face! in front! - of something that Jeongguk is definitely not.
He reels back at the accusation, the words that has come out of the pretty boy’s mouth because for one: as Jeongguk recalls, he’s been genuine and not an asshole when they met on the train. He’s been angry, yes but asshole? What the fuck, and two: this man is really testing his patience. Thankfully, Taeguk is there so Jeongguk thinks of his daughter which calls him down considerably. There’s still irritation bubbling in the surface but it’s mild now; not as intense as earlier.
"Excuse me?" Jeongguk says, exasperation bleeding through his voice.
Jeongguk splutters, "Fucking—" He catches himself, glancing to where Taeguk is and finds his daughter playing with Yoongi, Jimin’s friend. He breathes out a sigh of relief before continuing, "Oh, Jesus. Excuse you? Who the fuc— fudge are you?"
It’s really fucking hard to filter himself when he’s mad. It takes a lot out of Jeongguk to do that when he’s calm let alone seething like a volcano waiting to explode any minute.
Pretty Boy beams at Jeongguk. Jeongguk squints. Another sunshine along with Hoseok and Jimin. Tsk.
"Kim Taehyung," Pretty Boy - Taehyung, what a nice name - says, pauses and continues, "I’m one of the, uh, date contestants?" His voice is soft but deep— deeper than Jeongguk remembers. It rings inside his ears and settles on his bones. Jeongguk refuses to back down, even when Taehyung is doing things to him that no one has ever done before. Like, oh, maybe make his heart skip a beat at the way his lips pulls into a tight but sweet smile, and how he wants to ask the other then and there for a date, and more. Jeongguk’s pretty sure Jimin would skin him if he does that and anyway, that’s probably his hormones talking.
Jeongguk shakes his head to get rid of the thoughts clouding his mind before he tilts it and scrutinizes Taehyung like he’s some animal in a zoo. He can feel all eyes trained on them, the commotion gaining the attention of everyone. Jeongguk doesn’t even know if the camera is still rolling, or if they’re on pause. He only pays attention to Taehyung, looking the epitome of a perfect model. Is he a model?
Jeongguk blinks his eyes then nods in acknowledgement at the other. "Huh," He breathes out. "I’m surprised you’re not wearing that ugly sweater today."
Taehyung frowns, looking insulted. Jeongguk’s lips twitch into a small smile.
"That was a gift from Seokjin-hyung! Take that back, you prick."
Jeongguk smirks, enjoying this mouthy man’s expressions. They’re raw, open; something that Jeongguk hasn’t seen for a long time. He can admit that Taehyung is adorable despite being taller with a glare that can pierce through anyone’s soul. If glares could kill, Jeongguk would have been six feet under already, with a daughter kicking his grave for being so conceited.
Instead of apologizing though, Jeongguk lets his smirk widen and shrugs his shoulders, nonchalant like.
"I’m just telling the truth. Glad you're not wearing that eyesore today."
There’s a twitch in Taehyung’s fingers, feet following and when Jeongguk is sure that he’s about to pounce, stance ready to claw Jeongguk’s eyes out with his bare hands, Namjoon, director of the show and Jimin’s own lover, shouts, "Okay, folks! Break it up. We’ve only started filming and you all are making a commotion already. Go get yourselves some retouch. You all look horrid, goddamn."
"Whatever," Jeongguk rolls his eyes, throws Taehyung another condescending smile before walking off to where Jimin is standing beside Namjoon, snickering at Jeongguk with glee mixed with mirth clear in his eyes.
Jeongguk hopes Jimin chokes on the Yves Rocher he’s munching on. Tsk.
After the director calls for a break following the commotion Jeongguk and Taehyung has created, Taehyung finds himself a corner to hide in. He’s waiting for Yoongi but the older isn’t here yet, so he tries to entertain himself with something that isn’t his phone. He looks around, pauses as he eyes someone sitting to the side and brightens when he sees who it is.
A girl is playing with a rubik’s cube, fidgeting with it, determination on her features. Taehyung watches her for a few moment before he approaches cautiously. He doesn’t even know why there’s a kid there. Still, he sits beside her on the floor as she continues to fiddle with the game, trying to solve it on her own which Taehyung finds cute, absolutely adorable.
Taehyung says as a greeting, "Hello."
The girl pauses and turns to him with huge doe eyes that can rival Taehyung’s own. Maybe even giving Taehyung’s own huge eyes a run for his money. With her big eyes, she tilts her head and stares at him which quickly has Taehyung feeling like he’s being judged. It’s a kid, for christ’s sake but Taehyung holds children’s opinions higher than adult’s own so it’s understandable, at least to Taehyung, that he feels just slightly anxious when the kid keeps on staring at him with unblinking eyes.
"You’re pretty," The girl says, finally and Taehyung’s cheeks immediately blooms into a faint blush, the compliment from the child making him feel good about himself.
"You’re prettier," Taehyung replies, lips forming into a boxy smile.
The girl shakes her head, saying, "No, no. You are!"
Taehyung giggles and copies her, shaking his head in disagreement. "No, you are!"
A huff comes out of the girl before she puts the rubik’s cube on the floor and crosses her arms in front of her chest, the perfect picture of a petulant child that Taehyung has seen countless of times.
"Fine," She huffs. "We’re the prettiest of them all!"
Taehyung butts in, "You mean fairest?"
"No. Prettiest, oppa!"
Taehyung laughs, amused and nods, "Okay. The prettiest then."
The girl beams at him, lips pulling into a beautiful smile despite one of her front teeth missing. She’s still adorable and Taehyung can’t help but coo at her, reaching out to pinch her cheek lightly.
"I’m Taehyung. You can call me Tae-oppa."
"Oh! Me too. Almost!" The girl exclaims, giddy. "My name is Taeguk. You can call me Tae-ah and I’ll call you Tae-oppa."
Taehyung grins at her. "Alright, Tae-ah. Why are you here?"
Taeguk makes a face and Taehyung is enamored. The kid is the most adorable.
"Daddy is working here today."
"Daddy?" Taehyung cocks a brow. "Who’s that?"
At the question, Taeguk looks around before a wide smile appears on her face. She then points to two men standing and talking closely while saying, "That’s daddy!"
Taehyung follows her finger and furrows his brow. Jeongguk and Jimin? Jimin?
"Jimin?" Taehyung questions, wondering if Jimin is married or something.
Taeguk shakes her head vigorously. "No, not Jiminie-oppa. Daddy!" She jabs her finger towards Jeongguk who’s laughing at what Jimin has said.
Taehyung’s eyes widens. He looks at Jeongguk then Taeguk then back to Jeongguk before saying, "Jeongguk? That’s your daddy?"
"Yepp!" Taeguk nods excitedly, proudly.
To say that Taehyung is surprised is an understatement. He’s bewildered by the fact that Jeongguk has a daughter and still managing to be an absolute dick. Okay, Taehyung is being harsh. He admits that he’s also in the wrong. After all, he’s been the one who started it. Nonetheless, that doesn’t cross out the fact that Jeongguk is a rude, albeit handsome, prick.
Taehyung is quite agonized.
"Oppa," Taeguk tugs on his shirt and looks at him with curious eyes.
Taehyung looks down at her with a questioning smile. "Yes, Tae-ah?"
"Can you solve this? Joonie-oppa gave it to me and told me to complete the color squares! But it’s so hard," She pouts as she shows Taehyung the rubik’s cube, bottom lip jutting out adorably and Taehyung gets the urge to squish her. He doesn’t.
Instead he plucks the game off her hand and says, "Watch, angel."
"Angel?" Taeguk vibrates in her place at the nickname while Taehyung fiddles with the cube, easily solving the game bit by bit.
He pauses on his quest to line the yellow cubes and blinks at Taeguk, "I mean, it just— can I call you that?" His voice turns hesitant, lower lip trapped between his teeth.
Taeguk, however, nods quickly. "Of course! Daddy calls me monster, you can call me angel!"
And well, Taehyung’s heart probably has expanded to an unbelievable size at the happy expression on Taeguk’s face.
It makes him feel both ecstatic and melancholic at the same time.
The filming commences.
On the show, actual episode that will be aired on the television, it would seem like they haven't taken a break but in reality, there have been a lot of breaks. Mishaps that can’t be showed on national television.
As the filming continues, Jeongguk gets to know many people; from a student who’s taking dancing as a major in Seoul University to a businessman who owns a Japanese restaurant that Jeongguk promises to visit one day, he gets to know most of them.
But he’s not that curious about them. Who he’s curious about is Taehyung who’s laughing with Hoseok, rectangular grin plastered on his face and deep laugh reaching Jeongguk’s ears, making him twitch in something he insists as irritation but admits, deep down, is actually immense attraction.
He pushes the thought away when the crowd shifts and he’s facing Taehyung whose boxy smile drops the moment he sees Jeongguk in front of him. For some reason, it’s only him and Taehyung, other’s refusing to join them. Maybe they’re waiting for the both of them to start throwing punches at each other, perhaps also afraid to get involved into their fight. No matter, it’s only them; Taehyung and Jeongguk. Jeongguk and Taehyung.
Seeing Taehyung’s beatific grin fall from his equally beautiful face, Jeongguk has to push the disappointment that has crawled up his throat and forces himself to smirk, head cocking to the side as he sips on his glass of dry white wine, Sauvignon Blanc, just like he has requested.
"Hello, Kim Taehyung," He greets, tipping the glass towards Taehyung.
Taehyung squints his eyes at Jeongguk before greeting back, tone clipped, "Jeon Jeongguk."
No, of course Jeongguk doesn’t like how Taehyung says his name, tongue curling on the syllables before dripping out of his mouth; deep, slow, enchanting. No, Jeongguk doesn’t, okay. (He does, he admits later while pulling at the strands of his hair with Taeguk giggling at him, amused at her father’s antics, or in this case, frustration.)
"What do you do, Kim Taehyung?" Jeongguk asks, genuinely curious as he eyes Taehyung’s features.
"I farm," Taehyung replies quickly, unabashedly.
Jeongguk blinks, once, twice, thrice, then laughs, head tilting back just slightly.
"What?" Taehyung frowns, looking offended. Jeongguk immediately quietens, clamping his mouth shut. "I farm. Farming. You know, plucking vegetables and planting them. If you want a detailed explanation, I can go find the exact definition for you."
Jeongguk examines Taehyung and stares at him in mild disbelief. He says, states, "You’re serious."
Taehyung nods curtly. "I am. You thought I was joking?"
Jeongguk shakes his head and breathes out, "Oh… huh."
And well, no one can really blame him. Taehyung doesn’t look like he farms for a living or spends his free time plucking cucumbers from where the hell they grow. Because Taehyung looks like a model; tall, lithe, handsome. He’s the picture of someone who has stepped out of Vogue Magazine or Harper’s Bazaar; he looks like he belongs on a runway in Milan, Paris, New York, wherever. Although thinking about it now, Jeongguk vaguely recalls, on that one fateful day he has decided to take the train randomly, Taehyung’s nails with dirt stuck on it, and his tanned skin isn’t born out of cheap tan cream or by laying under a tan bed. Taehyung’s golden skin is glowing, stunning, and the faint freckles decorating his face, scattered on his cheeks, are charming.
Now Jeongguk understands why Taehyung seems so bright, like the sun has blessed him with its blinding light because Taehyung probably spends most of his time under it. Who wouldn’t love him? Jeongguk can’t help but agree with the sun. The sun is a very sly man.
"Well, yeah," Jeongguk stammers and tries to find the right words to explain what he’s thinking. "I mean, you look like you’re— you don’t farm. Yeah, that," Jeongguk gulps and berates himself for almost saying like you're an artist, a model, a celebrity, a masterpiece. Thankfully, he catches himself from saying just that. After all, he doesn't want to seem weak in the face of immense beauty. Jesus Christ, he sounds whipped.
And Jeon Jeongguk isn’t whipped for ugly sweater wearing boys. No, man.
Taehyung grins though, eyes softening and Jeongguk breathes out a quiet sigh of relief.
"Why, thank you," Taehyung says and eyeing Jeongguk with a tilt of his head. "What about you, hm? I would’ve googled you but I’m too lazy."
Jeongguk chuckles and shrugs. "I’m no one. Just some random businessman."
Taehyung hums and nods. "I see," He says then adds, "I met your daughter, by the way."
The admittance has Jeongguk’s eyes widening before fleeting to Taeguk who’s now watching from the sidelines, sitting on Namjoon’s seat comfortably. When he meets her gaze, she waves at him excitedly and he waves back, a grin plastering on his face.
He turns back to Taehyung and breathes out, "Oh. You did."
Taehyung nods, his demeanor suddenly excited before he gushes, "She’s adorable! And smart. Very clever, that girl."
Jeongguk smiles fondly and says, "She is."
"You’re lucky." Taehyung adds, gaze switching to the side, looking at Taeguk who’s still watching them, now making faces at Taehyung.
Jeongguk watches the interaction between both Tae, slightly bewildered because Taeguk— his little monster, likes Taehyung? Seriously? Despite his surprise, he agrees, tone proud, "I truly am."
The conversation he’s had with Taehyung has Jeongguk’s heart racing quick— quicker than normal. He does understand what that means but he doesn’t allow himself to entertain the feelings starting to root and grow inside his very being.
Not yet, at least.
When it’s the time to choose who they want to date, the premise changing just a little with Jimin exclaiming, "We’ll change the rules a little. Choose the person you want to go on a date with and that’s that. No going around the bushes with two person to choose from whatsoever. Just choose now."
And who’s Hoseok and Jeongguk to defy that little spitfire? No one.
So they stand there, facing the by now familiar faces of the date prospects. Jeongguk’s eyes flicks to Taehyung who’s standing at the back, gaze filled with apprehension.
"Okay, Jeongguk. Choose who you want to go on a date first," Jimin says, arm swiping in front of him like all of these people are for Jeongguk to feast over. That doesn't sound as good as it should be. Perhaps to some other man, but Jeongguk? No. Jeongguk has gotten over his teenage ways, which, admittedly, has been a roller coaster ride.
After Jimin has spoken, Jeongguk smiles, bunny teeth on full show which makes some of the occupants in the room sigh, swoon.
Jeongguk eyes all of them before his gaze settles on large eyes, dark hair, sun-kissed skin.
"Taehyung," Jeongguk says. "I choose Taehyung."
Taehyung’s lips forms into a grimace. Seeing that, Jeongguk can’t help but feel just a tad bit disdainful. Sure, they’ve talked in a civil manner but Jeongguk knows that between Hoseok and him, Taehyung would rather go on a date with Hoseok than Jeongguk. Fat chance with that happening now though. Ha.
Jeongguk is being an insolent adult. Child-adult.
Jeongguk asks, "Disappointed?"
Taehyung huffs and rolls his eyes. "No." Because he’s really not. Despite Jeongguk being such a pretentious, conceited, and not to mention, childish asshole, Taehyung finds some charm in his bunny smile and his fonds gaze towards his daughter.
"Right," Jeongguk rolls his eyes. Taehyung makes a face at him in retaliation. "You so want to go with Hoseok."
This time, it’s Taehyung who rolls his eyes before he shrugs, quick, nonchalant.
"Not like I can’t back down. I can, but I won’t. I’ll be going on a date with you and you better make it worth my time."
Jeongguk smirks and says, "Oh, of course, babe. It will be."
Taehyung scoffs. "Let’s see."
(As it is, Hoseok ends up choosing a girl with long dark hair but his attention isn't on her at all. It’s on Min Yoongi who’s smiling his gummy smile while playing rock, paper, scissors with Taeguk.
It’s amusing, and a little baffling.)
The date goes— as well as one has expected it to be.
No, scratch that.
The date goes as unexpected as unexpected dates should be.
Jeongguk arranges it with the help of Jimin who literally has to twist Jeongguk’s ear to stop him from doing extravagant things like rent an air balloon or an island for his date with Taehyung. To Jeongguk’s honest defense, he’s never really had to put any effort in dating someone.
Taeguk’s mother is not even an exception since Jeongguk and her has been in an on and off relationship before she got pregnant, pops Taeguk out and leaves her to Jeongguk who’s willing to take care of a baby at twenty years old, not even finish with University. Thankfully for him, he’s loaded and his parents are understanding, even offering to babysit Taeguk when Jeongguk is busy with school as well as being an intern in their own company. It definitely wasn’t a tragic sob story but not an easy climb to the top either. People has to experience defeat before being reborn anew, stronger than ever.
And that’s why Jeongguk’s knowledge in actual dates— the romance and all, isn’t that vast. It’s minimal at best, most of them taken from dramas that he’s seen in passing, all ridiculous yet good sounding to him. Go figure.
"Jimin," Jeongguk whines, squeezing his eyes shut tightly.
Jimin continues to play with Taeguk. They’re building a lego house and Jeongguk is already wincing at the amount of pain he’s going to go through by stepping on stray legos anywhere in the house.
"What do I do?" Jeongguk continues to mutter as he thinks of what to do for his date with Taehyung.
Jimin, bless his black soul, finally comments, "Start with simple, Gukk. Shopping, hang-out together, movies, dinner. You know, the teenager type of date. Don’t fret so much about it."
Jeongguk sighs and nods, "Fine."
He’s planned it perfectly, just as Jimin has told him. Shopping, lunch, go home for a bit, and then dinner. Simple enough.
Jeongguk should’ve expected that nothing is simple when you're trying to date someone like Taehyung.
They started well enough. A shopping on the biggest mall district that Jeongguk can think of.
He meets Taehyung outside the mall on a sunny day. It’s still warm despite the season changing to autumn. He’s dressed as casual as he can be; striped shirt, black jeans, and boots. Jeongguk definitely has not - emphasize on not - spent an hour choosing his outfit. Although Jimin, Namjoon and his own lovely daughter, Taeguk, would say otherwise.
Anyway, he sees Taehyung standing just to the side of the entrance but before he approaches the man, Jeongguk pauses on his steps and takes in how Taehyung looks under the sun; his skin golden, sun-kissed in the most gorgeous way that has Jeongguk’s breath hitching in his throat. He’s also wearing a casual outfit; loose black shirt under dark flannel shirt and black skinny ripped jeans. Jeongguk shakes his head to get himself out of the Taehyung induced daze he’s slowly entering. That is not what he’s here for. Kind of.
"Taehyung," Jeongguk greets, small smile on his face.
Taehyung turns to him and grins, fashionable circled sunglasses somehow staying on the back of his head even with the force of his movement.
"Jeon Jeongguk," Taehyung says and raises a hand in a small wave.
"Ready?" Jeongguk asks, tone challenging.
Taehyung’s eyes narrows playfully. "Bring it on."
Shopping goes well. Very well in fact that Jeongguk now has a new pair of Timberlands, five white shirts that Taehyung has insisted aren't in the same colors so it’s totally fine to buy five of them, Jeongguk! He detects a sarcastic tone there but Jeongguk ignores it in lieu of paying for the garments. Taehyung has also found a cute dress for Taeguk, a flower crown, and shoes that he says he can picture Taeguk wearing, all adorable like. Jeongguk melts just a tad bit at how Taehyung is so sweet, so giddy at the thought of Taeguk wearing the things he’s picked for her.
He doesn’t pay for everything because as Taehyung has hissed, "The fuck you are paying, Jeon. I’m capable of paying for myself. Who do you think I am?" Jeongguk shuts his mouth and bites his tongue to prevent himself from saying My date? Future boyfriend? I don’t know? So he relents, lets Taehyung pay for art supplies and one wide legged pants.
And now, here they are, on their way to lunch.
Jeongguk enters an establishment he’s frequented enough to know that they serve good healthy food. Taehyung however, walks slowly behind him, takes in everything as Jeongguk finds them a place to seat.
When they’re finally seated, Jeongguk relaxes on his seat and trains his gaze on Taehyung who’s sitting tensely, back straight while frowning at the chandelier hanging from the ceiling. He smiles, watching Taehyung’s features contort into something akin to confusion which he finds amusing, cute even.
"Couldn’t we have gone to— I don’t know, Subway or something?" Taehyung furrows his brows while looking at Jeongguk, scrutinizing the other man.
Jeongguk cocks a brow and says, "You want Subway?"
Taehyung scrunches his nose, shrugs, "Better than this."
A snort escapes Jeongguk then before he smiles at the waiter who suddenly appears. Taehyung startles, jumping on his seat, a hand coming up to clutch the fabric of his shirt just above where his heart lays. Jeongguk can hear him muttering "fucking mini heart attack" which prompts him to swallow a laugh with a clear of his throat.
After ordering their drinks, water, thanks and food, Caesar Salad for Taehyung; a small portion of pasta for Jeongguk, Taehyung turns to Jeongguk, lips formed into a tight line.
"I swear to god, burger would have been better than this."
Jeongguk laughs, entertained. "I’m sure it is."
Taehyung scoffs before his mood mellows and he asks, "How old is Taeguk?"
The mention of his daughter has Jeongguk brightening, turning like the doting father that he is. "Five. Six on January thirteen."
Taehyung hums, nodding. "And what do you like to do in your free time?"
Jeongguk wrinkles his nose and says, "What is this? Twenty questions?"
"What? It’s a date, isn’t it? Twenty questions is the easiest way to get to know each other," Taehyung reasons, raising a shoulder in a light shrug.
"Fine," Jeongguk sighs and thinks about the question. "Actually— define free time."
The look Taehyung sends Jeongguk is dubious, like he’s said something unbelievable, in the lines of I actually hate dogs or something offending as that.
"What?" Taehyung snipes, breathy. "Free time, Jeongguk! A day off. Vacation. Whatever you rich people want to call it."
Jeongguk opens and closes his mouth before a thoughtful expression crosses his face. "Hmm, I don’t know. I don’t have a lot of free time," He informs as he taps his fingers against the table. "Taeguk and I stays at home, I guess? We watch movies that she prefers and eat take out."
Taehyung smiles at him and nods approvingly. "That’s great! Spending time with your daughter on your off day is good."
"I’d spend all my days with her if I can."
Hearing that, Taehyung coos at Jeongguk and reaches out to ruffle his hair with a blinding smile on his face. Jeongguk can’t find it in himself to scold Taehyung about ruining his done up hair that he - the stylist - has spent almost half an hour fixing.
"That’s so cute," Taehyung says.
Jeongguk’s cheeks blooms into a light blush as he rolls his eyes. "If you say so."
The lunch has went, admittedly, as said, well. Jeongguk has enjoyed himself and it also looked like Taehyung has which is a plus. Jeongguk doesn’t know what he would do if Taehyung has deemed the date boring, bland at best.
is a disaster.
Well, Taehyung uses the word disaster perhaps a little dramatically. But it sends the right signals, close to defining the dinner date he’s had.
It starts fairly good. Jeongguk takes Taehyung into another fancy restaurant that has Taehyung feeling awkward. Again. When will he ever stop feeling awkward in all these expensive establishments? Gotta tune in on the next episode, he thinks internally.
He’s wearing a maroon suit courtesy of Jeongguk, of course. It’s comfortable, just the right fit. But when he enters the restaurant with Jeongguk, camera crew following behind them, recording their every move, he feels like running back out. Suddenly, the suit is too tight and his hands are too clammy, sweaty. Taehyung is fine with attention, good enough with it; he’s sociable for Christ’s sake but when posh people looks at you like you’re out of place, doesn't belong in their world, it’s just too much to take in. Despite his done up hair and make-up that the stylist insist on putting on him, Taehyung still feels normal and when Jeongguk turns to him, smiling wide, he’s forced to swallow the lump stuck in his throat and uses all he’s got to smile back assuringly, like all of this is just fine— dandy and all.
But Taehyung doesn't say anything, lets Jeongguk complete the date he’s planned intricately because Taehyung’s got hope lingering in his veins, trying to rush up to his brain and let him fall. He’s in the line between jumping and backing away. He stays there.
Focusing on what’s happening, Taehyung plasters a smile on his face as they’re lead to a table by the corner, seat being pulled for them by two waiters which has Taehyung blinking in bafflement. He continues to smile though, says a brief thank you and settles on his seat, shifting here and there to find a comfortable position. He doesn’t, so he gives up, lets his ass sit right there and faces Jeongguk who’s looking at him with amusement swimming in his eyes.
Jeongguk shakes his head, mirth evident in his voice as he says, "You’re amusing, you know that, right?"
Taehyung looks at him, confused. "Amusing? How?"
Jeongguk hums. "Well, you look at everything with a child-like curiosity. Like it’s your first time coming to this kind of place."
Taehyung flicks his gaze to the side, to where the camera crew are then turns his attention back to Jeongguk and says, "It is."
He watches as Jeongguk blinks then lets out a chuckle, still looking immensely amused.
With that reaction, Taehyung squints his eyes at the other, feeling irritation crawl up his skin at the condescending tone Jeongguk has used. Like Taehyung not having eaten in such a posh restaurant before is funny.
"Really," Taehyung snaps, hands curling into fists on his lap. "Not everyone can afford your rich lifestyle, you know. Not like it excuses all of you for being such pretentious dicks."
At Taehyung’s words, Jeongguk jumps in his seat, lips curling into a sneer. It looks like he hasn’t expected Taehyung to say that but what can Taehyung do? He feels his throat constrict, anxiety building up under his skin as the clock ticks by.
"Oh?" Jeongguk raises a brow. "Well, not everyone likes to dig on dirt twenty four seven just for a mere potato. Are you sure they're grown naturally? No dangerous chemicals used, hm?"
Taehyung leans back into his seat at the accusations, clenching his jaw and gritting his teeth. He is going to snap; he can feel it.
"For your information, they're all naturally grown unlike all of your import bullshit. Rich assholes like you don't know anything."
For some reason, Jeongguk’s lips forms into a smirk, looking the picture perfect asshole that Taehyung has always known he is before saying, "I might not know anything, babe but rich assholes like me are the reason you’re eating. We pay you, you do the dirt."
What. The. Fuck.
Taehyung looks at Jeongguk with wide eyes, surprised evident in his dark orbs. Not only that but he also looks truly offended, pained. The emotion doesn't last though, immediately replaced by rage. Taehyung then kicks Jeongguk’s shin under the table, the force of it making Jeongguk let out a pained yell before Taehyung says, "Fuck you, Jeon Jeongguk. I hope you choke on your gourmet steamed salmon or whatever the fuck you ordered. I’m done."
With those parting words, Taehyung looks at the camera crew who has turned silent, watching them, bemused and a little worried. He bows to them, ignores the attention he and Jeongguk has gained from other costumers and stomps his way out of the restaurant, cursing under his breath while loosening the tie wrapped around his neck.
Damn, why didn't he choke Jeongguk with it?
Jimin wants to kill him with his own bare hands, Jeongguk deduces.
When the disaster of a date reaches Jimin’s ears, the older instantly calls Jeongguk, screeching at him with his high-pitched voice. Jeongguk hangs-up, the headache throbbing in his temples only intensifying at hearing Jimin’s voice.
Now he’s here, Jimin standing on his doorstep. He swallows, breathes in deeply before opening the door.
Jimin doesn't give him a chance to say anything, firing words at Jeongguk that has him pursing his lips in disdain.
"Are you fucking serious?" Jimin shouts as he steps inside the house and walks to the living room. "Are you really fucking serious, Jeon Jeongguk?" He repeats and paces the floor, running a hand through his dark hair. "Are you alright there in the head?"
Jimin faces him and jabs a finger on his temple, where the headache still hasn't subsided. It only intensifies. Despite the pain, Jeongguk allows him, feeling like a fifteen year old once again, being scolded by his hyung for skipping class. He doesn't retaliate, doesn't even say anything because he knows that he's the one who has wronged Taehyung.
Taehyung who has given him a chance and yet he’s somehow managed to fuck it up grandly. He wallows in misery.
"I can’t believe your ass!" Jimin continues, voice reaching impossible pitches. Jeongguk briefly applauds him internally. If Jimin has reached such highs in their high school days, he would've gotten that lead in the musical. Sadly, he didnt. The past is the past.
Still exasperated beyond belief, Jeongguk understands, Jimin continues, "You find a good man and you do what?" Jimin pushes his finger on Jeongguk’s chest this time, clad only in a thin, almost transparent, white button up shirt. "You insult him! This is why we can’t have nice things, Jeongguk. Why are you so fucking childish?"
Jeongguk sighs, pushes Jimin’s finger off his chest and rubs the spot with a frown.
"I’m sorry, okay? I didn't meant to. He started it…" He mumbles the last part quietly, hoping that Jimin doesn't pick up on it but as it is, Jimin hears everything, knows everything.
"Oh, for fuck’s sake. Are you five years old? You’re worse than Taeguk. No, scratch that, Taeguk knows better than you. God."
There’s defeat in Jimin’s voice, even regret because Jimin truly thinks Taehyung is perfect for Jeongguk. Taehyung is gorgeous, loves kids - even Taeguk, finicky little daughter of Jeongguk - likes him, asking Where’s pretty Tae-oppa? after the shooting has wrapped up.
And here Jeongguk is, letting the man go because he’s an asshole. Jimin is So Done.
"I know, Jimin. God, I know," Jeongguk rubs his hands harshly down his face, looking exhausted.
It has been two days since the date and Jeongguk hasn't slept a wink due to Taehyung’s face, full of hurt, always flashing in his mind whenever he closes his eyes. He only gets proper sleep when Taeguk finally comes home from visiting his parents and decides to sleep beside him on his bed. Still, the guilt gnaws at his insides and he low-key wants to set himself on fucking fire.
"If you know then why the fuck did you say those words? Have you seen his expression? God, it looked so painful on the screen, imagine seeing it live. If you weren't my best friend, I would've punched you already." Jimin says, slumping on the couch with a loud thump. "Yoongi-hyung called me yesterday and you know what he said? He told me to tell you, Jeon Jeongguk, asshole of the century, to tighten your security and sleep with one eye open. I’d feel bad but I really am not."
Jeongguk snorts and rolls his eyes. "Whatever. This fucking matchmaker show is a joke anyway."
"Hey!" Jimin punches Jeongguk’s arm, making him wince. "Fuck you. My business has nothing to do with your emotionally constipated ass."
"I am not emotionally constipated."
"Right. Let me rephrase that, my business has nothing to do with your cowardly and childish ass. We can’t fix you. Go get some serious help."
"I hate you."
"Oh, darling," Jimin starts, sickeningly sweet as his lips pulls into a wicked grin."Not as much as Taehyung hates you."
Pain flashes in Jeongguk’s face which disappears quickly, schooling his features into a passive one.
"I don’t care," Jeongguk grits out and ignores the butterflies clawing inside his stomach at the mention of Taehyung.
Jimin continues to smirk and pats Jeongguk’s cheek lightly, cooing at him like he’s a child.
"Of course you don’t, baby. Of course, you don’t." The keep telling yourself that is left unsaid but clear on his voice and Jeongguk kind of wants to shoot himself. Of course, only after shooting Jimin. It’ll be a double suicide or some shit. A homiecide, so to say since they're best friends.
Instead of entertaining his morbid thoughts, he goes to the kitchen, makes some lunch and hopes that he’ll feel at least a bit better soon.
There’s a stand still between them.
Or in this case, a stand still in Taehyung’s part. He doesn’t know what Jeongguk is doing nor does he want to know. For all he cares, the man could go swimming with the sharks and get eaten whole. That would amuse Taehyung.
Taehyung still can’t shake the disappointment and rage coursing through his veins every time he thinks of that awful day and remembers Jeongguk’s hurtful words.
Jeongguk is an asshole and Taehyung has met more than enough of them in his lifetime. He’s even went on a couple of dates with some of them which is the fucking taint in all his twenty six turning twenty seven years of life. He has given the other the chance to prove himself to Taehyung and Taehyung has seen bits and pieces of Jeongguk that isn't clouded with his entitled attitude. In fact, he’s began to like the other, until Jeongguk fucks it up.
Taehyung doesn’t condone assholes who doesn't admit they're wrong and if Jeongguk is going to be like that then Taehyung is out, gone, bye. Which, as would be seen on the incoming episode of Millionaire Matchmaker, was what Taehyung has done. Good.
He remembers when he tells Yoongi a recap of what happened, whining and cursing Jeongguk to hell and beyond.
Yoongi, listening carefully, suddenly springs up, seething, when he hears what Jeongguk has told Taehyung.
He says, "I’m going to beat that kid. Let me go, Taehyung."
Taehyung chuckles and shakes his head, arms wrapped around Yoongi’s smaller form, pulling him back on the couch.
"Hyung, you don’t have to. It’s fine. It’s done. I won’t see him again."
Seokjin, who’s just coming out of his room, looks at the both of them and tilts his head in curiosity. "What’s going on?"
Yoongi growls and Taehyung is used to the other’s rage, so he doesn't back off, only tightens his hold and cuddles his hyung closer. Seokjin, however, cocks a brow, amused.
"Jeon Jeongguk," Yoongi spits, cold and bitter, like he’s tasted the worst Lamb Skewer in the whole planet. "That dickwad millionaire who Taehyung went on a date with said some pretty fucking nice things," He says, tone belying to everyone in the room that what Jeongguk has said definitely wasn’t nice.
Nodding in understanding, Seokjin joins them on the couch, sits on the other side of Yoongi and pats the younger’s hair soothingly, seemingly placating the other.
"I see," He sighs. "But if Taehyung says it’s fine, then it’s fine, isn't it?"
Yoongi’s lips forms into a sneer before he hisses, "I swear to god, Kim Taehyung. If I see that kid again, Taeguk there or not, I’m going to skin him alive." He lets the threat ring in the momentarily silent room before relaxing his tense body, muscles unraveling. Taehyung finally lets him go with a deep sigh of relief.
"Well, if it makes you feel better," Seokjin starts, grin plastered on his face, blonde hair making him look angelic yet the following words that escapes his mouth says otherwise. "I’ll help Yoongi dispose of the body."
"Seokjin-hyung!" Taehyung exclaims as Yoongi chuckles, giving the older a disapproving glare.
Seokjin only smiles, beatific with wide innocent eyes. Taehyung knows nothing is innocent with his cousin. He’s a fraud, so to say.
"It’s fine, hyung." Taehyung repeats, voice hushed, calm.
It’s not really okay but Taehyung is going to get over it. Not now but soon enough.
"You liked him though," Yoongi says as he threads his fingers through Taehyung’s blond hair.
Taehyung shrugs. "Not much. His daughter is cute though."
"Taeguk, yeah. Very adorable and smart."
Taehyung nods enthusiastically, lips forming to a boxy grin. "Yeah! I’ve always wanted to call my daughter Taeguk, you know," He recalls, voice dimming into a wistful one, remembering the past.
Yoongi smiles at him and tugs on his hair lightly, "I know, Tae. Jeongguk and Taeguk would’ve been perfect for you."
With those words, Taehyung turns quiet for some seconds, eyes glazing over while chewing on his lower lip. He takes a deep stuttering breath before he breathes out a quiet, "Yeah."
Taehyung, admittedly, loves kids. He wants kids on his own, he wants a family, a dog or two maybe, and the love of his life by his side. The picket fence that everyone has always dreamed about.
He almost actually gets it; within his reach, that life. But something has gone wrong and Taehyung is left alone.
A guy - which Taehyung doesn’t think about now (too painful, too raw) - has come knocking on the door of Taehyung’s heart. He’s been a teenager, full of life, full of hopes, full of dreams. And he comes knocking on Taehyung’s door. The door in which no one has ever come through before.
And Taehyung falls.
It’s easy because he is so lovely. So sweet to Taehyung that Taehyung couldn’t help but love him so dearly.
Taehyung asks, "Are you sure?"
Bogum replies, "Yeah. Let’s live together."
It’s a good life.
Until their fifth year of being in a relationship.
Taehyung is in his second year of college, working on his chosen degree that people has told him will not benefit you! that’s a useless degree but Taehyung perseveres, wants to prove them wrong, wants them to swallow their words when Taehyung is a popular artist, creations littering his own gallery.
However, Taehyung quite doesn’t finish because in his second year, fifth year of being in a happy relationship, Taehyung’s world comes crumbling down in front of him.
In hindsight, he should’ve known that happiness is something that doesn’t last. The concept of happiness should come with a warning, Taehyung believes. Because it comes abrupt, like a flash of a camera before disappearing in a blink of an eye and he’s left there somehow blinded, lost in the sea of spots in the forefront of his irises.
Happiness, in Taehyung’s opinion, is blinding.
Bogum and him has been blinded by happiness that when misery has finally decided to hit them in the face, they’ve been left wondering where they went wrong. It’s both of them; their happiness at stake.
One day, Taehyung has woken up, looks at Bogum beside him, smiles and plants a kiss on the other’s lips, still breathing heavily, asleep.
He watches the man he’s spent five years with and thinks of everything that they’ve went through. He remembers when they moved together, just fresh out of Daegu and trying to navigate the city life that they were not familiar with.
Bogum has laughed, "Tae, this is the wrong direction."
Taehyung has scrunched his nose and huffed, "It is not. I have an in built GPS."
A roll of the eyes has been Bogum’s reply before he grabs Taehyung’s elbow and pulls the younger close to him.
"According to my GPS, we’re going the opposite direction," Bogum says then ruffles Taehyung’s hair. "Come on, babe. Better get home before the sun sets. You wanted to watch the sun set from our rooftop, right?"
Taehyung sighs and bumps the side of his head on Bogum’s shoulder before he nods and says, "Yeah. Yeah, I want to watch it with you."
Taehyung laughs under his breath as he shifts his eyes to the window, the rays of the sun peeking in and falling on Bogum’s sleeping form. It’s— beautiful, how the rays makes Bogum’s tanned skin look like he’s glowing, the white of the duvet contrasting against the endless patch of sun-kissed limbs and the darkness of his hair. He’s still sleeping peacefully and Taehyung loves him, so much.
Looking at Bogum right now, Taehyung’s fingers twitches, wanting to paint the older; wants to memorize how Bogum purses his lips in his sleep before settling into a soft line; how his eyelashes fans on his cheeks, dark and captivating; how his fingers twitches against the bedsheets, like he’s trying to reach for something and when Taehyung intertwines their fingers together, he settles down, lips quirking up on the corners in a small smile.
He wants to paint Bogum but the urge is mild, contrary to when they first met, when Taehyung has forced Bogum to sit still, hyung. i’m going to paint you. Now, the feeling is not as immense, doesn’t make him want to grab a brush and splatter reds and greens and yellows and violets on a blank canvas.
Now, instead of grabbing his sketchbook and a pencil, Taehyung stays beside the other, studies him more closely and notices all the flaws.
Taehyung traces the too prominent bruises under the other’s eyes and frowns. Bogum works as a drama teacher which means late nights of practice, endless hours of preparing for a play and less time being with Taehyung.
Thinking about it now, Taehyung can’t help but sigh because they haven’t been together properly for almost two weeks. Taehyung is busy with finals, so as Bogum along with an end of the year play. Les Miserables, Bogum has told Taehyung. Taehyung, sadly, could only smile small and nod, bones tired as he tries to not fall asleep on the kitchen counter while they’re eating dinner.
"Tae?" Bogum nudges Taehyung softly as a frown mars his face.
Taehyung startles, and in the process, knocks the glass of water that’s propped closely to him with his elbow.
"Fuck," He mutters, eyes wide as he watches the drops of water cascade down the dining table to his lap. He doesn’t react for a while. "Shit."
Bogum’s frown deepens before he reaches out and traces Taehyung’s jaw.
"Have you been sleeping?" He whispers and bores his gaze on Taehyung’s face.
Taehyung blinks and sighs, chews on his lower lip before he shakes his head as a reply.
"Been working on something," Taehyung says, tired eyes drooping once again, Bogum’s soft touch lulling him to sleep.
"Hey," Bogum retracts his hand from Taehyung’s flesh and Taehyung lets out a whine, wanting the warmth back.
He peeks one eye open and sees Bogum stand from his seat, round the small table and settles beside Taehyung, chin resting on his hunched shoulder.
"Let’s sleep, yeah?" Bogum whispers, rubbing soothing circles on the small of Taehyung’s back.
Taehyung, despite wanting to voice out a refusal, ends up nodding.
Remembering that scene, Taehyung should have noticed how bland they’ve been. Nothing is exciting anymore and they’re always missing each other in a way that Taehyung doesn’t think about Bogum all the time anymore, in between breaks of working on a painting or reading for finals because apparently, knowing how to draw different shapes and blend all kinds of colors isn’t enough for Taehyung to succeed in his chosen future occupation.
Taehyung swallows then and pulls his hand away from Bogum’s warm cheek, painted with lines from the pillow case.
When Bogum’s eyes flutter open, he stares at Taehyung, not even surprised, and Taehyung stares back.
Bogum smiles and, with voice coarse, deep, from underuse, says, "Morning, Tae."
Taehyung smiles back, nods. "Morning, Gum."
And that’s that before they stand up, get ready, try to eat breakfast; respectively fail miserably at it, then leaves the house separately with a brief kiss and a goodbye.
It’s a day when Taehyung has watched Bogum dream of something, rays of sun casted on his tanned skin and realizes that in spite of wanting to paint Bogum because he loves him so and he can, the feeling that rises up from Taehyung’s chest, settling on his dry tongue isn’t quite the same anymore.
Falling out of love is a thing.
In between watching a movie on their rare days of actually having a day off together without anyone pestering them, and shoving popcorn down their throats, Bogum utters,
"We’ve changed, huh?"
Taehyung pauses, stares at a character being murdered, blood splattering everywhere on the screen before he turns his head, consequently all of his attention, towards Bogum.
He opens his mouth, blinks again, and says, "Yeah."
There’s an undercurrent of sadness swimming in Bogum’s eyes as he watches Taehyung. Taehyung watches him in return and suddenly, there’s something stuck in his throat, a lump that has been building since that morning, when the sun has risen on the east and the wind is humid, and Taehyung can’t quite breathe properly.
He wheezes, breath catching in his throat as the words fly out of him in rapid succession, "Hyung, I can’t."
Bogum smiles and cups Taehyung’s cheeks with both of his hands, squishing the soft flesh. Taehyung laughs, voice teary like he’s going to start sobbing any moment now.
He’s been waiting.
And here it is.
"I know, TaeTae," Bogum whispers, thumb brushing Taehyung’s cheeks. "But we have to, don’t we?"
Taehyung can’t believe them, he really can’t. They’re such a fucking minimalistic couple that even when they’re feeling so much, they can’t even voice out their thoughts properly. It’s fucking funny but also endearing in a way that they know what each other is thinking. After all, they’ve been together for half a decade, been in love for the same amount of time and that has to mean something, right? Of course, it does.
Here, facing each other as they admit, albeit ambiguously, that they’re not the same anymore and that they have to go their own way soon, soon, soon proves that they are still connected. But— different because they’ve changed.
In a way, they’ve tried to save this relationship with spending more time together, with doing things that they’ve always found interesting; like reading poems to each other loudly in the most comical voice they could manage. They try to salvage the most important thing that they have in common with them, Bogum and Taehyung, being just— them, a couple that wants their love to survive in a century that shuns a love like theirs away.
They have tried, mostly in bursts, small gestures, brief conversations, light touches, intense want to keep their heads above the water instead of drowning down the heart break ocean.
"I love you, hyung," Taehyung whispers as he runs his fingers from Bogum’s jaw up to his temple and threads through dark locks.
Bogum nods, smiles, understanding. "I love you too, Tae."
Taehyung sighs and leans his forehead against Bogum’s own as he inhales deeply, heart thudding inside his chest, rapid— ready for a race, because it actually fucking hurt. He has not expected falling out of love to feel like a hundreds of bricks has fallen onto his being. He has expected a paper cut and yet he’s served with a stab straight to his goddamn guts.
His stomach lurches.
"But we’re not in love anymore," Taehyung says, states, like it’s a known fact that doesn’t hurt the very depths of his being.
"No," Bogum says as his head jerks in a quick nod, voice cracking. "No, we’re not in love anymore."
It’s— disappointing that the life that Taehyung has planned to a T, even dotting all his fucking I’s just in case, is crumbling down in front of his eyes. It’s dramatic, the way he’s seeing their fall out but Taehyung can’t explain it in an easy way, in a good way, in a happy way.
He can’t because—
"Okay," Taehyung clutches Bogum’s hair, fingers trying to hold on. He knows it’s because first loves are hard to let go and Bogum is Taehyung’s first everything. Somehow, in the depths of his mind, he’s refusing to accept the fact that his first love is ending and he has to move on.
"Yeah," Bogum lets Taehyung cling to him, even holding the other close to his chest, burying Taehyung’s face on the crook of his neck. He says, "It’s alright, Tae."
Taehyung snorts, edges of his eyelids damp. "Right," He replies and tugs on Bogum’s hair harshly because Taehyung doesn’t quite believe it’s going to be alright in his part.
Bogum hisses and pinches Taehyung’s side, making the younger bite his collarbone before pouting up at him, eyes wider than normal. He grins despite the pain swirling in his chest.
"I promise," Bogum says. "You’ll be fine."
Taehyung makes a face and clings to Bogum tighter, wrapping limbs around the older the whole night, never letting go.
He says, as Bogum settles them on their bed, voice weary, tired, "I hope so."
The now is different.
Despite wanting a family, and Yoongi’s voice still rings inside his head, an incessant echo of, "Jeongguk and Taeguk would’ve been perfect for you. Jeongguk and Taeguk would’ve be—", Taehyung is afraid to dive head first and yeah, he might want to do that with Jeongguk with the pleading eyes of Taeguk in the background, but Taehyung has learned to be cautious, to lock his hopes in a cage, to put a timer on happiness, to expect nothing but heart break at the end of the road.
Jeongguk and Taeguk would’ve been perfect for me, Taehyung relents, burrows his face on his pillow and screams loud.
His heart beats rapid—
It comes as a surprise.
University has started once again and without further ado - read: with all the reluctance Taehyung could muster yet failing miserably at it - Taehyung ends up staying in Seoul to finish his last year of University.
Taehyung’s never thought that starting from the bottom once again would be this exhausting and time consuming. Yet, he doesn’t quite want to go back in time.
Though, he’s old now; in the last years of his twenties, and he doesn’t quite belong to the class of teenagers and young adults chattering about parties on the weekend and sleeping around. Taehyung has actually never done any of that. Except, perhaps, that one time he drank too much wine and puked on Bogum’s new shoes. Nonetheless, he feels out of place, awkward and treading on waters that he will never be familiar with despite plenty of people urging him to socialize.
Taehyung socializes, alright but definitely not in the lines of copious amount of alcohol and deafening music. He socializes by crashing in Yoongi’s and Seokjin’s apartment, plenty of organic vegetables in one hand, and a bottle of wine on the other with a grin plastered on his face.
And that’s it. It’s the only kind of socializing that Taehyung could force himself to attend to.
So, it honestly comes as a surprise, and Taehyung later would scold himself for being surprised, that there’s someone contacting Taehyung besides Yoongi and Seokjin.
It has been twenty minutes at most after Taehyung has called his grandma, asking if the farm is still in great shape and no annoying pests are contaminating the vegetables and fruits.
His grandmother says through the phone, "We’re good, Taehyungie. Your siblings are doing great in school. Thank you for asking."
Hearing that reply, Taehyung has bursted into a series of giggles before he assures his grandmother that he was about to ask how all of them were
Taehyung asks, "Seriously, ‘ma. Are you three fine?"
A hum flows through the connection, his grandmother voicing out her answer in the next second, "Of course, child. Who do you think we are? Tsk. Stop worrying about us and focus on your school."
Instantly, a smile blooms on Taehyung’s face and he sighs happily, glad that his family is fine without him there. Not that they’re dependent on him because Taehyung can’t even cook for shits. Still, he likes knowing that his absence isn’t noticed that much, that the gap isn’t too wide for his siblings to question why their hyung is not with them.
"Fine," Taehyung huffs, indignant, though a gentle smile still appears on his face. "Call me when anything happens, okay? And I mean anything. I don’t care how small, ‘ma."
"Yeah, yeah." His grandma laughs and Taehyung grins. "I will. You take care, child. I love you."
"I love you too, ‘ma."
The conversation hasn’t lasted for long but it has Taehyung sinking on the couch with a content smile on his face, feeling comforted by the knowledge of his family being fine.
The surprise comes as a text message while he’s reading a book as a way to take his mind off of things that shouldn’t be thought of. The Complete Guide to Suicide is printed on the cover of the book which would have given other’s the wrong idea. Honestly, Taehyung is just a curious person and reading controversial books in his past time has become a strange hobby to cure his art block, sometimes loneliness.
…what do you want, jeon?
Are you still in Seoul?
Do you want to meet?
why the fuck would i do that?
Taeguk wants to see you.
Taehyung frowns at the text conversation before sighing deeply. Taeguk’s beaming face flashes in his mind and he relents because he admits, albeit reluctantly, to himself that he actually wants to see the child again.
To be honest, curse Taehyung’s adoration for children.
Right, okay. Alright.
Jeongguk has Taehyung’s number and of course, Taehyung has Jeongguk’s number. It’s only polite, courteous to offer his number back when Jeongguk, stammering just slightly with a hesitant voice, asks Taehyung can I, uh, have your number? just in case, we lose each other, like you know, around the mall and if that hasn’t been cute and awkward at the same time, Taehyung doesn’t know what. It really had Taehyung’s heart bursting into sparks of adoration, the look of expectancy on the other’s eyes reminding him of Taeguk. He honestly has forgotten about the exchanged until Jeongguk has messaged him and now Taehyung is headed to a small café to meet the father and daughter duo.
Taehyung swears he said yes because it’s Taeguk and he’s weak for adorable kids who’s got the name he wanted his own daughter to have with puppy eyes that Taehyung has imagined would be on full force, looking at Jeongguk pleadingly, almost teary eyed as she asks her father to let her see Tae-oppa.
So, yes, it’s absolutely understandable when Taehyung enters the coffee shop, looks around and hears a familiar squeal of his nickname.
Taehyung grins widely when little arms wrapped around his legs. He looks down and sees Taeguk’s beaming face that prompts him to beam back, lips forming into a boxy grin.
"Tae-ah!" He greets and crouches down, picks up Taeguk and cradles her in his arms. "How are you, angel?"
Taeguk wraps her arms around his neck and gives him an eskimo kiss that has Taehyung almost weeping on the floor because that’s so precious.
"I’m good, oppa! I missed you."
Taehyung melts because God, that’s the nicest thing he’s heard since Jeongguk has insulted everything that he stands for.
He replies after planting a kiss on the tip of Taeguk’s nose, "I miss you too, angel." And even though he doesn’t want to, he adds, albeit reluctantly, "Where’s your daddy?"
"There!" Taeguk points to a table in a corner. Taehyung turns his gaze towards the direction and sees Jeongguk smiling at the both of them or maybe just Taeguk. He’s pretty sure the man doesn’t like him that much but whatever. He smiles back though because he’s not rude and his grandma raised him good, before he approached the table, settles on the seat across Jeongguk with Taeguk sitting on his lap.
"Hi," Taehyung says, small smile tugging on his lips. He still feels bitter but for the sake of being civil, Taehyung squashes the emotion, pushes it down where it’s going to have a hard time resurfacing.
Jeongguk’s lips twitches into a small, hesitant smile and nods in greeting. "Hello, Taehyung-ssi."
"Just Taeyung is fine."
This time, Jeongguk grins and Taehyung wants to kind of punch him with his fists. Alternatively, lips but only five percent of him wants to do that. Hm.
"Okay, Just Taehyung."
Taehyung rolls his eyes and scoffs, "Haha, funny."
Taeguk giggles and tugs on Taehyung’s hand, playing with his long fingers, bending the digits here and there which— tickles, just slightly, before asking, "Oppa doesn’t have work today?"
Shaking his head while wiggling his fingers, tickling Taeguk’s stomach and making her laugh merrily, he replies, "Nope. Oppa’s in school so no working for now."
"Oh," Taeguk blinks then beams happily. "Good! Do you want to go to uh, what’s that, daddy? Amu— Asu—," She turns to Jeongguk with a cute frown and Jeongguk chuckles as he reaches out to pinch her nose lightly.
"Amusement park, monster."
"Yeah, that!" She nods her head vigorously then looks up at Taehyung with pleading puppy eyes. Taehyung’s head immediately chants oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. He knows what’s coming and he can’t say no to that. Damnit. "Wanna go with me and daddy?"
"Daddy and I, monster," Jeongguk corrects. Taeguk ignores him in favor of pouting at Taehyung, trying to convince him with her cute expression although Taehyung has already agreed ever before she has asked him.
Taehyung gulps, glances at Jeongguk who’s also looking at him expectantly, gaze almost resembling Taeguk’s own. I can’t with them, Taehyung screams internally. He sighs then and grins down at the girl before he says, "Of course, Tae-ah."
True to her request, the three of them do end up going to the amusement park or as young people call it now Lotte World. Taehyung has never been in Lotte World and he’s as wide-eyed as Taeguk when they entered the establishment, taking in everything that his eyes catches attention of. It’s— lively, full of people, laughters, happiness; everything that makes Taehyung’s heart expand because seeing the smiles on people’s faces despite the world trying to take them down has him believing that at least, something good still exists in this world.
Taehyung, admittedly, is a cynic.
He rolls his eyes at himself at the thought, shakes his head to ged rid of them and looks down at Taeguk who’s skipping between Jeongguk and him, holding both of their hands on each of hers. He can’t help but notice the domesticity of the act. It’s endearing, it’s cute— and it gives him hope.
The feeling settles in his bones like a poison, gradually growing. It has him swallowing audibly while stomping on the feeling before it spreads widely, before he gets too attached. He doesn’t want to get too attached when Jeongguk and him hasn’t worked. Not even the littlest of bit. They’re opposites and they don’t attract. Taeguk is the only connection in between them now and if Taeguk hasn’t taken a liking to Taehyung, who’s to say that Taehyung would ever see Jeongguk again? The thought sends a pang of something to his chest— something akin to pain but he ignores it.
Taehyung ignores the feelings coursing through his veins; the hope, the hurt, the uncertainties, and instead focuses on the now.
Taeguk turns to him, ice cream in hand. "Are you enjoying yourself, oppa?"
Taehyung smiles at her and nods as he wipes the corner of her lips, cleaning the bit of ice cream there.
"I am, angel," Taehyung answers and looks around, a frown marring his face when he doesn’t see Jeongguk anywhere. "Where’s daddy?" He asks before flushing red because did he just. He corrects himself after a subtle clear of his throat, "Where’s Jeongguk?"
Taeguk continues to consume her ice cream, licking the melted bits of it that’s trailing down the cone. Taehyung tilts his head, waiting.
Finally, Taeguk copies Taehyung, tilting her head to the side before giving him an answer, "I asked daddy to get some hotdogs!"
"Oh," Taehyung breathes out and nods. "Okay."
When Jeongguk returns, hotdogs in hands, he gives both Taehyung and Taeguk one each.
He says, "Monster, didn’t you just eat?"
Taeguk shrugs, the picture of a gleeful child with ice cream on one hand and hotdog on the other. Taehyung snaps a picture, giggling at the mess Taeguk has created by trying to eat hotdog and ice cream at the same time.
What makes the picture more epic though is Jeongguk’s expression, eyes wide, mouth agape and hands trying to stop Taeguk from doing the deed. It’s adorable, cute, and he saves it, almost makes it his phone wallpaper before he stops himself from doing so.
Don’t get too attached, Taehyung reminds himself meanwhile smiling at the bickering Jeongguk and Taeguk. Don’t.
When they’re finally done eating, Jeongguk grumbling about Taeguk having stomach ache later, they continue their excursion, Taeguk pulling the both of them to the booths where one can win stuff toys.
She exclaims, "Daddy, I want that!"
Jeongguk looks at the huge lion plush before nodding. Taehyung watches as Jeongguk tries to win Taeguk the toy but fails. He hides his laugh behind his hands but Jeongguk still hears him and says, "Are you laughing at me, Just Taehyung?"
Taehyung chuckles and shrugs, "What if I am?"
Glaring at him playfully, Jeongguk points a finger at him and says, voice challenging, "What about you win the toy, hm?"
At the taunt, Taehyung purses his lips and huffs, "Fine. Watch carefully, Jeon. Learn from the real master."
In the end, Taehyung wins Taeguk the lion plush that she’s been eyeing (see: pointing relentlessly). He smirks at Jeongguk after he hands Taeguk the plush, head cocking to the side, expression proud, cocky.
"See?" Taehyung says, boxy grin in place.
Jeongguk scrunches his nose and because he’s competitive, says, "Whatever. I’m going to win that bunny toy. Do you want that one too, monster?"
Taeguk looks at the two adult males, not comprehending what’s happening but still grins at the both of them and nods, says, "Yeah, daddy!" before burying her face on the lion who’s almost as big as her.
A smirk crawls up Jeongguk’s lips and he sends another playful glare towards Taehyung before taking the toy gun and— of course, failing once again to win the toy.
Taehyung, this time, bursts out into a series of laughters, his deep voice gaining attention from other people but he doesn’t care. It’s so amusing how Jeongguk tries and fails to prove to him that he’s better. It’s also so adorable, like a child proving to his parents that he’s an adult now, not a baby anymore. Jesus.
"Oh my god," Taehyung gasps in between laughters.
Jeongguk blushes, rolls his eyes. "Shut up."
Taehyung purses his lips to stop himself from laughing again but still bursts into one. "I’m sorry. It’s just—" He wipes the corner of his eyes and looks at Jeongguk with mirth in his eyes. "It’s funny."
"Go to hell," Jeongguk replies, very adult-like.
Taeguk chirps in, "Daddy said a bad word! Pay up!"
Jeongguk groans, fishes for change in his pocket, and hands Taeguk five thousand won. "You two are—" He starts, looking between Taehyung and Taeguk. "—insufferable."
Taeguk furrows her brows, not knowing what the word means. Meanwhile, Taehyung grins mockingly at Jeongguk, picks up the toy gun, and because he’s a little shit, says, "I know. Watch and learn, again."
Two tries was all it took for Taehyung to win the bunny toy and Taeguk squeals while Jeongguk narrows his eyes at him.
"See?" Taehyung puts on a show of flipping his non-existent long hair. "It’s easy."
"Easy my ass," Jeongguk whispers but Taeguk still hears it, shouts a Pay up! and Jeongguk is less than five thousand won once again.
"It’s okay, Gukkie," Taehyung reaches out and pats Jeongguk’s cheeks. Jeongguk’s eyes widens at the action but Taehyung doesn’t see it as he hands Taeguk the bunny plush that’s, thankfully, smaller than the lion one, before looking up again and says, "Not everyone is as skilled as me."
Jeongguk only scoffs and rolls his eyes. "Yeah, right," he says and turns his attention to Taeguk who’s tugging on the ends of his shirt. "Yes, monster?"
Taeguk smiles and offers Jeongguk the bunny plush. "Since I have the lion, you get the bunny, daddy!" She pushes the toy towards Jeongguk’s hips and Jeongguk can’t help but take it, even though he wants to say, No thanks, traitor. "Tae-oppa is amazing, isn’t he?" Taeguk adds.
And okay, Taehyung’s lips forms into a smile so wide he fears his face will split into half. But it’s totally worth it as he watches Jeongguk sigh, cradles the plush in one arm and holds Taeguk’s hand on the other before the both of them faces him with identical expressions; questioning yet fond.
Happiness courses through his being and Taehyung doesn’t want it to end.
The visit to the amusement park ends pretty late.
With Taeguk running on sugar high, prompting Jeongguk to relent on her incessant whines of one more time, daddy!, they stayed longer than what Taehyung has expected and judging by Jeongguk’s tired but fond sighs, what the other has intended. Despite their energy draining just by looking at Taeguk running around, they still stuck to her, indulging her whims as best they could.
When Taeguk tugs on Jeongguk’s hand and raises her arms up, asking to be picked up, Jeongguk smiles and holds her in his arms, bouncing her for a bit. Taehyung watches while walking beside them, small smile painted on his lips.
Taeguk yawns then and leans her cheek on Jeongguk’s shoulder, facing Taehyung. "I’m tired," she pouts.
Taehyung softly brushes a finger on the tip of her nose, making her giggle sleepily.
"Wanna go home then?" Taehyung asks and throws a glance towards Jeongguk.
Jeongguk nods, lips still set into a soft smile, hands rubbing soothingly on Taeguk’s back. "Yeah, home."
The drive home is uneventful. Taeguk has fallen asleep on the backseat while Taehyung is trying to not fall asleep with Jeongguk driving comfortably beside him, navigating the roads with ease.
Initially, Taehyung has told Jeongguk, "I can go back on my own."
Jeongguk has frowned as he shook his head and insisted on dropping Taehyung off, all the while saying, "In that condition?" He looks pointedly at Taehyung, eyes drooping, head nodding and startling when he realizes he’s falling asleep on his feet. "Not likely, Taehyung. I’ll drive you."
Exhausted, Taehyung has not argued further, only nodding and entering the car after making sure that Taeguk is sitting properly on the back with a small pillow under her chin, preventing her head on falling to the side.
It’s quiet and comfortable, the three of them tired, and when they arrived outside Taehyung’s place, Jeongguk has to nudge Taehyung to let him know, his eyes half-lidded with sleep.
"Tae," Jeongguk shakes the older, hand on his arm. "We’re here."
Taehyung jolts, eyes wide as he turns to Jeongguk. "What?" He blinks and processes what Jeongguk has told him before smiling sheepishly, quite embarrassed. "Oh," He breathes and nods. "Okay. Thank you."
Jumping off the car, Taehyung then proceeds to stretch his arms up, cracking his bones. He turns, opens the back door and lightly brushes a finger down Taeguk’s warm cheek before leaning in and planting a soft kiss on her forehead.
"Goodnight, angel," He whispers, soft smile on his face and retracts himself from the car, closing the door softly.
When he straightens back up, he lets out a squeak, faced with Jeongguk’s presence, hand coming up to his chest, dramatically clutching his shirt.
"Holy hell, Jeongguk. Don’t scare me like that," He says, voice breathy.
Jeongguk chuckles and runs a hand through his hair. Taehyung watches him curiously; the aura emitting from the younger is— bashful, somewhat apologetic, more than thankful. Taehyung is observant enough to pick up on obvious cues. However, that’s probably just Taehyung’s imagination. Nonetheless, he looks at the other expectantly, wondering what he wants from Taehyung.
A beat passes before Taehyung gets fed up by the silence that’s slowly turning awkward. Taehyung doesn’t deal amazingly with awkward environment despite him being awkward As Fuck.
Jeongguk shifts on his feet and continues to thread his hand through his hair, suddenly looking nervous, jittery. "Uhm," He starts and bites his lower lip. Taehyung blinks, waits. "Thank you, hyung," Jeongguk eventually says, gaze flicking to the side before he faces Taehyung with a smile on his lips. "Thank you for today and I’m— I’m sorry."
Taehyung opens his mouth to reply but Jeongguk quickly breathes in and rushes the words out before Taehyung can say anything, "I’m sorry for the last time. You know, the date. I didn’t mean to be so rude. If you want, you can punch me. Just—" Jeongguk pauses, eyes wide as he gazes at Taehyung, chewing on his lower lip. "I’m sorry."
Now, this is a surprise. Never mind the text message, this one takes the cake.
Taehyung blinks at the man, keeps quiet for a few seconds before he lets out a soft laugh.
"Wow. That’s one awkward apology," He says, mirth in his voice. "I accept. I mean," Taehyung shrugs and continues, "It’s fine. The past is the past and I enjoyed myself today," he explains, hands finding themselves inside his pockets. "Thank you, Jeongguk."
Jeongguk shakes his head, expression somehow sheepish. "No, thank you. Taeguk really likes you."
Taehyung brightens up, like the first intense rays of the rising sun. Jeongguk squints a little. He’s so bright, so beautiful. Jeongguk wants to punch his face or bash it against the wall for thinking that. Slightly.
"I like her too," Taehyung admits, voice fond, smitten.
"That’s good." Jeongguk nods, looking at Taehyung with this soft expression that has Taehyung’s stomach bursting into butterflies.
Oh, no sir. No, sir, no. Fuck.
He breathes in, shuts his eyes briefly before he offers another smile at Jeongguk.
"I— well, gotta go," He mutters. "Goodnight, Jeongguk."
Jeongguk bows a little, showing his gentleman side. If only he did that on their date, Taehyung thinks before shaking his head, getting rid of the unbidden thoughts trying to consume his mind.
Jeongguk replies, "Goodnight, Tae-hyung."
Taehyung sleeps well that night; dreams of bunny smile and cute giggles the center of his mind.
Taeguk wanting to see Taehyung doesn’t stop there. Jeongguk seriously is questioning his daughter’s attachment towards the older man.
He asks Taeguk one day, before he - reluctantly - drops her to kindergarten, "Why do you like Taehyung so much, monster?"
Taeguk smiles brightly at him, reminding him of Taehyung - which— rude. He’s talking to the one love of his life and Taehyung appears in his mind? Rude - before saying, "Because he’s pretty!"
And okay, that’s an understandable reason but all of Jeongguk’s lovers has been pretty, beautiful, gorgeous yet Taeguk has refused to accept all of them, throwing tantrums whenever one of them visits their house.
What’s so different about Taehyung?
Jeongguk mentions this to Jimin, voice curious as he says, "I don’t understand, Jimin," He sighs, looking down at his cup of coffee. "Why does Taeguk like Taehyung so much? I’m pretty sure she likes him more than me." He pauses then frowns deeply. "Wait, don’t answer that. Oh my god, my own daughter doesn’t love me anymore."
Jimin rolls his eyes and sips on his matcha green tea, a hum escaping past his lips at the brew gracing his taste buds. He eyes Jeongguk, scrutinizing the younger man.
"Stop being so dramatic. It doesn’t suit you," He says, contorting his face into a disgusted expression. Jeongguk over-reacts sometimes and he’s quite used to it but still. "It’s probably because they almost have the same name."
Jeongguk intervenes with, "What about Taeyeon?"
Jimin waves a hand in the air, like a dismissal towards the mentioned woman. "She didn’t like kids, Jeongguk. Taeguk somehow picked on that. Taehyung loves kids. Even told me he wanted to name his daughter Taeguk in the future," Jimin informs, grinning at Jeongguk who takes in the information with eyes that of a student learning something great for future reference. Hmm—
The older continues with a grin on his lips that has Jeongguk wishing for him to choke on his tea, "Isn’t that just adorable? It’s like fate."
At the words, Jeongguk frowns because if it’s fate then Taehyung and him would’ve been together by now. But no, they’re not and that’s pretty sad. Jeongguk doesn’t dwell on it too much. He saves that for later; when he’s alone and has time - hopefully - to think more of his life that has somehow become some kind of romance drama.
"I just—," Jeongguk doesn’t continue and Jimin understands somehow, patting his head soothingly.
"I know, Jeongguk," Jimin says, voice placating, like he’s comforting a child. "Too bad you fucked up with Taehyung, huh?" Jimin teases, grin on his lips.
Jeongguk groans and glares at the older, "Fuck you, Jimin."
Jeongguk is proud of his daughter for being so smart; a fast learner so to say. Witty personality that rivals Jimin’s own.
But now, Jeongguk curses the God that science has failed to prove to him exists in this world. Jeongguk should become an Atheist if this is what he’s getting from the entity up above that blue sky.
Taeguk, the smart kid that she is, gets a hold of Jeongguk’s phone while he’s sorting out documents to bring to work. Accidentally, or perhaps intentionally - Jeongguk wouldn’t put it past his daughter, to be honest. That little monster of his - she presses call and that’s how Jeongguk finds her sitting on the kitchen floor, giggling to herself with the phone pressed closed to her ears.
This is when Jeongguk really questions the existence of God.
He halts on his steps at the sight of his daughter and studies her figure, watches carefully how at ease she was handling his phone like it’s her own. Extendedly, it is but—
Taeguk giggles again and says, "Really, oppa? Yey!"
Jeongguk wonders who’s oppa, feeling like the overprotective father that he’s becoming before realizing that there’s only one person that Taeguk likes calling oppa.
"Taeguk?" Jeongguk calls out, soft, careful.
Taeguk faces him but doesn’t put the phone down.
And oh, okay. His daughter is rude.
Taeguk continues to smile and nod at the voice, Taehyung - Jeongguk’s absolutely sure -, speaking on the other side of the line. A couple of nods later with Jeongguk witnessing his daughter talk to someone he doesn’t even have the guts to call for no reason at all (not that he’s been thinking of calling Taehyung for a week now. No, ha. No— of course… not. No), Taeguk finally exclaims,
"Okay, oppa! See you!"
It baffles Jeongguk only slightly when his little girl comes bouncing towards him, his phone cradled on her little hands while excitedly saying, "I’m going to meet Tae-oppa!"
Jeongguk, still in a stupor of disbelief, says, "Really?"
Dark hair bounces in little ringlets, the curls falling perfectly on the side of her face, making her look angelic as she nods vigorously. "Yepp!"
"Wait a fuc— fudging minute," Jeongguk looks at his daughter with a disapproving expression settled on his face. "Since when are you meeting Taehyung?"
Taeguk’s excitement dims as she notices her father’s disapproving look.
"T-Today?" She stutters, biting on her lip with wide eyes.
"Who said you can?" Jeongguk retaliates, voice soft yet still stern.
"I— I can’t?" Taeguk’s bottom lip trembles and her eyes turns glassy, watery.
Jeongguk frowns, not liking seeing his daughter sad.
A few seconds pass before he sighs, crouches down on Taeguk’s level, and grasps her shoulders lightly.
"I didn’t say you can’t. Of course you can, monster. As long as Taehyung is okay with it," He explains, rubbing soft circles on her reddened cheek. "But next time, ask me first, okay? I don’t want to find out like this."
Taeguk, doe eyes still watery, nods, a smile slowly forming on her lips. "I understand, daddy. I won’t do it again."
Jeongguk smiles and plants a playful kiss on her lips. "That’s my monster."
A giggle escapes Taeguk before she hugs Jeongguk tightly, thin arms wrapping around his neck.
"I love you, daddy."
Jeongguk hums, heart bursting at the seams in happiness, chest warming considerably.
"I love you too, monster."
Jeongguk ends up calling Taehyung to make sure that his daughter isn’t imposing on the other. He doesn’t want to drop responsibilities on Taehyung if the other is busy or just plain doesn’t want to take care of a five year old kid.
The conversation is anti-climactic with Jeongguk asking for informations about their little meet up. When Jeongguk recounts about Taeguk’s accidental call to Taehyung, the other laughs loudly, honestly music to Jeongguk’s ears. He stomps on the thought.
"Oh my god," Taehyung breathes out after laughing for a good one minute, two minutes tops. "So, that’s why. I was so confused on why you were calling me," He chuckles and continues. "Imagine my surprise when a giggling Taeguk is all I heard." Taehyung laughs once more, making a smile tug on Jeongguk’s lips. "She’s smart."
Jeongguk sighs, seemingly peeved by his daughter’s actions but really, he’s proud. "Yeah, she is," Jeongguk agrees with a hum. "Thankfully, she called you and not a client or someone from work."
Taehyung hums back, "Mhm. So, is she coming?"
"Where are you?" Jeongguk inquires, brows pinching together.
"University," Taehyung replies immediately.
Jeongguk blinks. "Oh… Wait, are you allowed to have Taeguk there?"
Taehyung chuckles. "Yeah, sure. I’m just painting, anyway. I’m in the art room. I’ll meet you two by the gates, yeah?"
"Okay— yeah," Jeongguk nods then repeats, "Okay. See you."
"See you and Taeguk."
Jeongguk hasn’t been to University of Seoul for years, graduating a few years ago and avoiding the hell out of school in general. Not that he doesn't like studying but he’s been so tired of it that all he has wanted to do was drop out and maybe go become a stripper.
The occurrence of Taeguk has changed Jeongguk’s view of his future career, however and that’s why, even now, Jeongguk still gets flashback of late nights writing essays, crunching numbers on his calculator and falling asleep on his desk, cold cup coffee almost tipping over his work table.
Seeing it now, with new eyes, Jeongguk still feels nauseous but nostalgic. He’s experienced the good and the bad of university life and no matter what he thinks of school, he’ll always treasure it. Especially when it has given him the best gift anyone has ever given him, namely, the spawn that’s bouncing beside him, chanting, in her sweet singing voice, "taetae-oppa. taetae-oppa. taetae-oppa, here we come."
Jeongguk watches his daughter dance cheerily as they wait for Taehyung to emerge out of the gates. They could’ve driven inside but Jeongguk is almost late for work. He’s only dropping Taeguk for Taehyung to get and then he’s off.
When Taehyung eventually graces the line of their sights, especially Taeguk, his little girl squeals, retracts her hand from Jeongguk’s hold and runs to Taehyung. He watches as Taehyung brightens up, still resembling the sun - when will Jeongguk ever see Taehyung and not think of the sun, who knows - and flops his long limbs as he meets Taeguk’s little form, running to her and scooping her up with a merry laugh escaping his lips.
The both of them approaches Jeongguk who’s standing beside his car, itching to go but also wanting to stay. There are matching grins on their faces and Jeongguk squashes the feeling of immense affection he feels for the both of them. He shouldn’t feel like that towards both; only Taeguk and not Taehyung but the emotion stays, choking Jeongguk internally. He almost sighs in frustration but prevents himself from doing so.
Instead, he grins at the both of them and reaches out to ruffle Taeguk’s hair set into a ponytail. He earns a cute glare from the action which prompts him to grin wider.
"Morning," Jeongguk greets as Taehyung bounces Taeguk on his hips, the perfect picture of someone who knows how to take care of kids, of someone who loves kids.
Taehyung beams at him. Jeongguk blinks and clenches his fists by his side because shit, that’s cute.
"Good morning, Jeongguk-ah," Taehyung greets back, emphasizing the good which Jeongguk has left out. His morning wasn’t quite as good as Taehyung’s but he admits, it has gotten considerably good since, well—, two minutes ago.
Jeongguk smiles, nods. "Yeah. So, uh, it’s really fine that Taeguk is with you today?" He worries his lower lip, glancing at Taehyung through his eyelashes. "I mean, I can drop her to the kindergarten, no worries. You could’ve said no. Have some chill time while— uh, doing what you do."
Taehyung rolls his eyes and smooches Taeguk’s cheek. It makes her giggle and cup her hands on his cheeks, squishing together and making him look comical.
"Stop worrying," Taehyung says, slightly muffled while Taeguk pinches his cheeks repeatedly. He lets her, finding it endearing instead of annoying. "I don’t have any classes today, anyway. As long as she doesn’t ask for you, then we’re good. No need to stress over it," He explains before adding, teasingly, "And I paint. Or draw. Whatever you prefer. Artist, Painter."
"Oh," Jeongguk’s gaze fleets from Taehyung to Taeguk, like he’s watching some kind of ping pong match. It doesn’t make sense though because all they are doing is play with each other, making ridiculous expressions and planting kisses on random parts of their faces. Still— Jeongguk watches contentedly for a while before he musters a few words as a reply. "If you say so. Just— call if she does ask for me," He smiles then turns sheepish, ducking his head for a bit and glances at Taehyung who’s looking at him with amusement swimming in his eyes. "And uh, I didn’t know you’re an artist."
Taehyung quirks one corner of his lips into a teasing grin, a brow cocking in the process. "Now you know. Congratulations, Jeon Jeongguk."
Jeongguk shrugs lightly and says, voice apologetic, "Sorry."
"Sorry?" Taeguk repeats while she looks at Jeongguk curiously.
Taehyung grins at her and hums, "Hmm, daddy is saying sorry to oppa for being such a meanie."
Taeguk juts her bottom lip out, eyes jumping from Taehyung to Jeongguk. "Daddy was a meanie to Pretty oppa?"
Jeongguk snorts and rolls his eyes before pinching Taeguk’s cheek. "Just a little," He says. "I already apologized so we’re good."
"Yes, angel. We’re good," Taehyung tacts in, assuring the little girl who continues to furrow her brows while looking at the two adults she’s with.
After a few seconds passes, Taeguk blows out a puff of air, cheeks puffing cutely. Jeongguk and Taehyung simultaneously smiles at her sweetly, eyes adoring.
"Okay," Taeguk nods, firm, her dark hair following the action. "Because I love daddy and oppa and I don’t want you to fight."
Jeongguk coos and closes in on her, nuzzling his cheek against her own. "We won’t, monster. I promise. Right, Tae?"
He really should have been more, hmm, careful. Jeongguk should have been more careful with their proximity. Getting close to Taeguk has resulted in Jeongguk also being close to Taehyung which is, admittedly, a bad idea. Now Taehyung is inches away from his face, large eyes even larger, cheeks slowly blooming red as he stares at Jeongguk unblinkingly.
He absolutely can’t help but notice the mole on the tip of Taehyung’s nose, standing out from the faint freckles decorating his cheeks. And that one subtle mole hiding under his lower lashes— Jeongguk blinks as his eyes trails down to Taehyung’s lips, plump and red and— there’s another mole there.
Taehyung has constellations of moles and Jeongguk is but an astronomer wanting to study them, to touch, maybe plant kisses on each of them.
Gulping audibly, Jeongguk forces himself to look away and step back. Drowning in Taehyung’s dark gaze seems like a good idea, great even, if only Jeongguk is not a coward and still feels the remnants of the bitter taste of guilt on his tongue, disabling him from actually doing anything. Not that he would.
He would never.
"Uh," Jeongguk clears his throat, looking at the leaves from the trees falling down. Autumn has arrived; Jeongguk’s favorite season.
Taehyung, ever the brave person among the both of them, chirps in, "Right!" He beams at Taeguk while nodding. "No fights because fights are bad. Get it, angel? Never fight, okay?"
Taeguk giggles and nods, changing the atmosphere once again. It’s always her saving the both of them from the awkwardness they find themselves always stuck into.
"Awesome!" She exclaims, giggles still escaping past her lips.
"Right," Jeongguk says. "I need to get going, so—" He glances at Taehyung, like he’s asking for permission to go. It’s like a husband asking his husband - okay, too much information, Jeongguk - for consent to go with a kiss on the lips and a sweet wave of goodbye.
Taehyung tilts his head , one corner of his lips quirking up into a smile. "Okay," He says with a casual jerk of his head. "Go then," He adds and faces Taeguk, telling her, "Say goodbye to daddy, angel."
The sight has Jeongguk swallowing dryly. He can picture this, everyday of his life, saying goodbye to Taehyung and Taeguk, with their wide grins in the forefront of his mind as he heads to work. And when the day ends, he’ll come home to the same grins and simultaneous chirps of, Welcome home!
He can picture it and it has his heart beating rapidly. The organ skips a beat when Taehyung steps closer, lets Taeguk wrap her little arms around his neck without letting her go, the space in between them small, just inches, too near.
"Bye, daddy," Taeguk says and plants a kiss on Jeongguk’s lips after she hugs him.
Jeongguk rubs his nose against hers briefly and pulls away. He glances at Taehyung who slowly steps back, Taeguk in his arms, smile on his lips, mirroring Taeguk’s own. He stares at the both of them for a couple more seconds, memorizing the slope of their lips, how their grins are almost identical, the sparkle in their eyes and the rustle of their dark hair as the wind blows.
It’s a beautiful scene. One that Jeongguk wants to keep for the rest of his life.
"Bye. Call me," Jeongguk says before stepping back and entering his car, throwing a brief glance at the two who are waving their hands at him.
Jeongguk arrives to work with a wide smile on his face.
What a great day.
The moment Jeongguk leaves, Taehyung turns to Taeguk and says, "Want to come with me and paint?"
Taeguk’s eyes brightens and she clutches the fabric of Taehyung’s sweater as she nods her head happily. "Yes! I like drawing!"
Taehyung chuckles and without further ado, brings her to his work room, the one he’s been occupying since six in the morning because he can’t sleep and somehow, in his plan of just taking a walk, he ends up in the university and taking advantage of it, he heads to the art room, where his unfinished painting of a landscape is.
Taeguk says, "Pretty!" when she sees the painting, on full display for everyone to see.
Taehyung puts her down and lets her roam around the room, telling her to not touch anything, especially the paints loitering around. Technically, a kid shouldn’t be here; the various paints and sharp objects laying on the floor, on the shelves, everywhere hazardous to their health and general being but Taehyung trusts Taeguk enough to listen to him and actually not touch anything without Taehyung’s permission.
"Alright," Taehyung chirps, claps his hands to gain Taeguk’s attention.
Hearing the sound, Taeguk turns to him, attention diverting away from a half-finished sculpture of naked man. Taehyung blinks then groans because what the fuck, Taeguk shouldn’t have to see that. Jesus.
"Oppa," Taeguk starts and Taehyung listens, watches her strut her way to him and stands just a few inches away. "Why’s the man naked?"
"Uh," Taehyung stammers, licks his lips as he glances at the sculpture and furrows his brows. "It’s— it’s art?"
Okay, that was lame. Of course it’s art but a little girl like Taeguk wouldn’t understand that. The only thing she probably knows is that people aren’t supposed to be naked in any circumstances other than bathing or showering.
Taeguk tilts her head, her own brows furrowing in confusion at Taehyung’s vague answer. Taehyung bites back a smile when the action oddly reminds him of Jeongguk.
"Art?" Taeguk questions. "What’s art?"
And of course, Taehyung has to go on a long tirade of what real Art is and to a five year old at that. However, Taeguk is a good listener.
Taehyung explains, "Painting is art. Writing, singing, dancing, is art. Anything can be art, angel. If someone puts all of their effort into it and you feel something from their creation, then that’s art."
"When daddy sings me to sleep it’s art?" Taeguk looks up at Taehyung with curious eyes.
She’s on his lap with Taehyung’s spare sketchbook and coloring pens. She sits there and draw lines while listening to Taehyung, pausing sometimes on her quest to draw a sun— a red sun because apparently, red is Jeongguk’s favorite color and she’s drawing something for him. Sometimes, she gives Taehyung a colored pen and ask him to draw something small on the corner. And Taehyung has considered to stop talking, figuring that Taeguk is bored out of her mind from the littlest bit of the impromptu Art lecture she’s getting from him but no, when Taehyung has stopped talking, Taeguk frowns at him, nose wrinkled, eyes expectant and has told him to continue. So Taehyung does.
And now— he’s quite lost in his lecture but hey, as long as she understands and he understands, it’s good.
"Of course," Taehyung answers as he tucks a stray strand of hair behind her ear. "Do you feel good when daddy sings you to sleep?" Taeguk nods, lips pulled into a smile. Taehyung smiles back and says, "Then it’s art."
"Okay! I’ll tell daddy that!"
"Mhm, you do that, angel." Taehyung hums and keeps silent as she draws grass on the white paper, but uses the orange colored pen. Taehyung doesn’t correct her because if that’s what she wants to do, then who is he to defy her? Honestly. "Are you hungry?"
At the question, Taeguk nods but still vigorously, almost painfully, presses the pen against the paper, coloring with an intensity that Taehyung quite admires.
"Do you want to eat now?" Taehyung asks as he fiddles with the ends of her hair, waiting.
Taeguk nods again then with a last scratch of the pen, she puts it down, pats the paper with her drawing and finally picks her head up and shows her masterpiece to Taehyung.
"Look, oppa!" She shoves the paper to his face which prompts him to laugh, and looks at it cross-eyed.
Taking the paper in his hand, he smiles at the— mess, he doesn’t know what it is but still, he praises her.
"It’s beautiful, angel," he says and pinches her cheek lightly. "Now, eat?"
Taeguk hops from his lap and takes his hand. His legs are— quite numb but he shakes it off with a quiet hiss as she chirps at him, "Food, food, food!"
And so they head to the university cafeteria.
Which, Taehyung should have known, is a bad idea because now they’re sitting with his classmates, the imbeciles cooing at Taeguk and asking questions that Taehyung doesn’t know how to answer.
Bambam says, "Hyung, she’s cute! Didn’t know you have a daughter."
Yugyeom nods beside him as he offers Taeguk a banana, looking scared yet hopeful. When Taeguk takes the fruit from him, he instantly lights up which makes Taehyung roll his eyes.
"Yeah, hyung," Yugyeom agrees with Bambam. "Who’s the mother?"
Taehyung scrunches his nose and sighs. He takes the banana from Taeguk, peels it and gives it back to her.
"She’s not my daughter," Taehyung informs. "She’s a— uh, friend’s daughter."
"Ohoho," Bambam sings while he looks at Taehyung with teasing eyes. "Who’s this friend, hm? Never heard of them."
Taehyung almost says, watch Millionaire Matchmaker next month to find out! but then stops himself because he doesn’t want them to know. Not yet at least.
"Just a friend." He says, final.
Taeguk, finish with the banana looks at them one by one. Her gaze lingers to Bambam before she grins at him. Bambam swoons quite audibly.
"I’m Taeguk!" She waves a small hand before climbing on the chair she’s sitting on and onto Taehyung’s lap. She quite likes clinging to him. Taehyung worries a little but lets it go. "I’m going to marry Tae-oppa!"
Taehyung chokes on his coffee that’s got more sugar than caffeine and looks at Taeguk after making sure he hasn’t made a mess.
"What?" Taehyung rasps after throwing a heated glare towards Bambam and Yugyeom who are doubled over in laughter, tears on the corners of their eyes. He hopes they choke and die. "You are?"
Taeguk smiles at him and hums, almost sounding mature. "Yes! I’ll tell daddy later!"
Still shocked, Taehyung repeats, voice small, almost a squeak, "You are?"
"Oh man," Bambam laughs, wiping his eyes. Asshole. "Never thought you’re into this, hyung."
"Into what?" Taehyung hisses, eyes narrowed.
"Hey, lolita, hey," Bambam sings and laughs once again. Yugyeom who’s just recovering from his own laughter bursts into one again, following Bambam and seriously, Taehyung wants to strangle them.
Instead of committing mass murder, Taehyung faces Taeguk and says softly, "Okay, angel. Listen—"
To be greeted by such words, in Jeongguk’s opinion, is quite rude.
What Jeongguk has expected when he comes and get Taeguk from spending time with Taehyung is— well, something that resembles the morning. Grins on their faces, playing with each other and all that.
Not a loud screech of, "Daddy, Tae-oppa don’t want to marry me!"
Jeongguk is shocked, baffled, perplexed to hell and beyond.
"What?" Jeongguk spits quickly, eyes fleeting to Taehyung who’s looking at him with this deer in the headlights expression, like he’s committed something illegal which— according to Taeguk’s words, he hasn’t. Almost but not quite.
"Tae-oppa said we can’t marry," Taeguk looks up at him, clutching his dress pants in her small fingers, a pout on her lips.
"But— you’re a… kid?" Jeongguk says, confused, not quite comprehending what’s happening.
Taehyung finally snaps out of his daze and comes closer to them, saying, "Uh, I don’t know what she’s thinking but she said she’s going to marry me. Haha."
Jeongguk feels as awkward as the way Taehyung’s laugh has come out of his mouth. Wow.
"Why?" Jeongguk points the question to Taehyung then at Taeguk. "Didn’t you say you’re going to marry daddy?"
Taeguk huffs and lets go of his pants, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
"Taetae-oppa is more prettier," Taeguk explains and okay, ouch?
"Only prettier, monster," Jeongguk corrects before saying, "Are you saying I’m ugly?"
He hears Taehyung muffle his laughter behind his paint covered hands. Jeongguk throws a playful glare at him. Taehyung shrugs his shoulders, lips pulled into a grin.
Taeguk, however, starts flopping her arms as she stomps her feet. Jeongguk watches his daughter, amused and just quite scolding himself for spoiling her because look where he is now. Joke’s on him, to be honest.
"But I want Tae-oppa!" Taeguk stomps her foot again. "If Tae-ah can’t, then daddy do it!"
Jeongguk almost spits his lungs out at the sudden lurch and onslaught of butterflies that has appeared on his stomach at his daughter’s words.
He squeaks, "Me?"
Taehyung adds, "Him?"
Taeguk nods, "Yes!"
They’re a sight to behold, Jeongguk guesses. Because they’re outside and Taehyung’s schoolmates are coming in and out of the gates, gazes trained on them, some muttering to themselves as they watch the debacle that is— that is them; Jeongguk, Taehyung, and Taeguk.
Looking to the side, Jeongguk sees a few girls giggling as they watch them and he smiles at them, almost looking painful, almost a grimace but not quite. It’s a smile; an I’m sorry you have to see this. My daughter is so embarrassing, oh my god kind of smile.
"I don’t think it works like that, monster," Jeongguk says after he turns his attention to Taeguk and Taehyung who’s waiting for him to say anything, eyes wide, anxious.
"No?" Taeguk pouts, expression dimming, eyes swimming in disappointment.
Taehyung sighs then and crouches down, planting his incredibly long fingers - Jeongguk doesn’t stare, shut up - on Taeguk’s shoulder and whispers, quiet, almost like a secret between them but Jeongguk still hears. "We’ll see, angel. Who knows what the future holds."
Jeongguk reels back, tilts his head up and mouths to Taehyung, "What?"
Taehyung shakes his head and smiles at him before turning his gaze back to Taeguk whose lips are now pulled into a wide smile, earlier expression of distress wiped out of her cherubic face.
"Okay!" Taeguk chirps and nuzzles Taehyung’s face with hers.
Jeongguk is still confused as Taehyung grins up at him, boxy smile making his heart skip a beat then run a race back and forth like the only thing it needs to function is Taehyung’s bright smile and sparkling eyes and quiet support.
Taehyung gets a call at six fucking o’clock in the morning.
One fact about Taehyung is that he doesn’t sleep often. He’s always awake, woke, eyes open more than sixteen hours a day. He knows he’s jeopardizing his health but he can’t help it. When the inspiration comes crashing down, what’s an artist to do? Ignoring the itch to paint doesn’t help because it keeps on coming back, like an annoying fly that won’t leave until it’s killed, unfortunately.
But when Taehyung does sleep, he needs more than twelve hours, maximum fifteen hours to spend time in dreamland. He gets this kind of sleep on the weekends, when he’s not too busy and he can, for his sake and others, hole himself up inside his small apartment. And after getting that much sleep, he sits on the couch, disoriented and trying to comprehend what the world is doing, what year it is and what he should eat for— dinner, lunch, and breakfast. All in one setting.
Being waken up at the crack of dawn, when the sun is just starting to rise and the air is slightly cold, making him shiver under his duvet, makes a grumpy Taehyung.
And a grumpy Taehyung means growling on his phone, voice scratchy, deep from underuse, sounding like he’s ready to record some scream song or murder someone.
He growls, "Fuck, fuck. Who the fuck is this? What the fuck do you want?"
The other line is quiet for a moment and Taehyung groans in annoyance, eyes blinking a couple of times to look around. He looks at the small clock perched on his bedside table, sees 6:15 am and grits his teeth because he has only slept for two hours. Two hours!
Admittedly, it’s no one’s fault but his own; that he’s exhausted, head pounding from the lack of sleep. However, Taehyung has an appropriate reason, for once— and it’s because he’s just finished his finals, the painting more than fifty percent of his grade and he hasn’t slept for more than three hours everyday, slaving inside the art room he has claimed since the beginning of the semester.
It’s no wonder he’s ready to gauge eyes out with his bare hands when the shrill sound of his phone ringing interrupts his peaceful sleep.
This call better be important.
"Taehyung?" The other line finally says.
Taehyung is still disoriented, mind a haze as he replies, more like snaps, "That’s my name. Don’t wear it out."
"G-Good morning?" The voice greets, almost sounding scared, hesitant.
Rubbing his eyes, Taehyung shakes his head and tries to remember why the voice is familiar. Too familiar in fact that he frowns when he can’t put a face on it. A couple of seconds pass, five seconds, he counted before he gasps, eyes widening, dazed expression morphing into shock.
Jeongguk breathes out deeply through the line. Taehyung holds his breath.
"Yeah," Jeongguk replies. "Did I— uhm, wake you up?"
Taehyung licks and bites his lips, swallows and emits a grunt, an agreement. Still, he says, "Yeah— yeah. But, why did you… call?"
Another silence commences from the other side. Taehyung pinches his brows together, takes the phone away from his ear and makes sure that Jeongguk hasn’t hang-up on him. The other hasn’t. If Jeongguk had, after waking Taehyung up this early, he’d have to disfigure the other— somehow, or something.
"Can you— do me, a— uh, favor?" Jeongguk asks, hesitant, voice small, almost shy.
Taehyung blinks at the closed door of his room before he nods, figures that Jeongguk can’t see him and says, "Sure." Then adds, "As long as it’s not illegal."
He hears Jeongguk chuckle which prompts his lips to twitch into a lazy smile, the air around him seemingly warmer, wrapped around in a content smoke.
"It’s not," Jeongguk says. "I just need— uh, Taeguk is, is sick, you know?" At the mention of the little girl, Taehyung’s breath hitches and his heart clenches inside his chest, aches just a little. He opens his mouth to voice out his thoughts, in the lines of oh my god, is she fine. what do you need? my kidney? two kidneys? i volunteer but Jeongguk doesn’t let him, rushing in, "She’s fine, Tae. Just a cold but she can’t go to the kindergarten and I would’ve asked Jimin and Namjoon but they’re filming something and my parents are out of town and I can’t think of anyone to call so I just— called, uh, you. I called you."
Taehyung listens to Jeongguk’s explanation, head jerking into a few nods as the picture completes itself in his mind. He knows now why Jeongguk has called him, what favor he’s asking of Taehyung, or at least, Taehyung has a suspicion and he’s already agreed.
"Okay," Taehyung says then clears his throat, repeats the word, "Okay."
"But you don’t know—"
"You want me to babysit Taeguk?"
"I— yeah. I would’ve stayed home but I’ve got an important meeting to attend. I swear, Taehyung. I’ll make it up to you."
Taehyung snorts and rolls his eyes. "Shut up. Send me your address. I’ll be there as fast as I can."
He hears Jeongguk breath out what seems to be a sigh of relief. Taehyung can’t help but smile, endeared.
"Okay. Okay, I will." Jeongguk replies quickly. "Thank you, Tae. Thank you so much."
"Yeah, yeah. I’ll be there, Jeon."
When Taehyung enters the Jeon residence, he doesn’t expect Taeguk to be awake, wearing a Pokemon onesie, sniffling as she looks at him with watery eyes.
Taehyung turns his head to Jeongguk who’s closing the door. The other smiles guiltily, ducking his head and rubbing the back of his neck as he says, "She didn’t want to go back to sleep. Said she’s going to wait for you."
A sigh escapes him. He reaches out and pats Jeongguk’s cheek twice, letting the man know that it’s fine, no worry before he walks closer to Taeguk, squats down to her level and brushes his cold thumb on the corners of her eyes.
"Angel, you need to rest," Taehyung says, voice soft, coaxing.
Taeguk pouts at him, brows furrowing as she shakes her head stubbornly. She says, "No. ‘aven’t seen you for so long. I missed you."
Taehyung swoons, coos at her as he plants a soft kiss on her flushed cheek. "I missed you too, angel but you’re sick. I’m worried."
"Hmpf," She sniffs, both in defiance and of her cold. "Daddy missed you too."
Jeongguk lets out an embarrassed groan behind Taehyung, mutters, "I did not."
Taehyung, however, only giggles, amused at the both of them. He picks Taeguk up from the floor, holds her tightly in his arms and turns to Jeongguk whose cheeks are just slightly red, eyes avoiding his. He rolls his eyes. Children.
"I missed you too," Taehyung grins, swaying his body side to side as Taeguk lays her chin on the crook of his neck, closing her eyes, still sniffling.
"I—," Jeongguk chokes out, eyes narrowing as he sees Taehyung’s teasing grin. "I did not."
"Are you saying my little angel is lying?" He cocks a brow, challenging.
"For one, she’s my monster and two, no, I am not," Jeongguk replies, fed up with avoiding Taehyung’s eyes and instead trains his gaze to Taeguk who’s slowly falling asleep on Taehyung’s chest, fingers bunching the fabric of Taehyung’s fashionably cut up sweater.
"So, you did miss me," Taehyung insists, boxy grin now plastered on his face.
"Shut up, okay," Jeongguk grumbles before he moves and takes his briefcase, pats his suit and steps closer to Taehyung and Taeguk. "I’m going to work," He says, looking at Taehyung, eyes lingering on his long eyelashes and just briefly glancing on his lips, before leaning close to plant a gentle kiss on Taeguk’s cheek. "I’ll see you guys later, yeah? I’ll bring take out. Any request?"
"Bulgogi, please?" Taehyung says, hopeful, puppy eyes trained on Jeongguk. "Lots of rice. And, ah, hwagwaja."
Jeongguk nods with a smile. "Alright, sir. This humble servant will bring you food for dinner. Take care you two."
Taehyung nods, smiles back as he waves Jeongguk away, careful to not jostle Taeguk who’s now sleeping soundly against his chest. "Bye, Gukkie."
The day goes like this;
After Jeongguk leaves, Taehyung tries to put Taeguk down on the couch so she can sleep comfortably. However, she clutches his sweater tightly, whining in her sleep and sniffling. So, Taehyung ends up laying on the couch with Taeguk on top of him, head pillowed on his chest as he watches the news channel.
When Taeguk wakes up, she asks for Jeongguk, saying, "Daddy? Daddy! I want daddy!"
And Taehyung panics, just a tad bit surprised by her tantrum but he takes it in stride, shushing her by rubbing her back and wiping the tears trailing down her puffy cheeks.
"Tae-ah, oppa is here," Taehyung whispers as Taeguk sniffles, blinks her eyes and focuses her sight on him. "Want me to call daddy?"
She hiccups and rubs her eyes with her hands roughly. Taehyung purses his lips, grabs her arms gently and pats her eyes with the hem of his sweater.
"No," She murmurs, voice small.
Taehyung continues to wipe her cheek, makes sure that it’s dry before planting a soft kiss on her forehead. "Okay," He says. "Do you want water? Food?"
"I want pudding."
And pudding she gets.
Taehyung is thankful that Jeongguk has stocked enough chocolate pudding to last Taeguk for a week. It’s cute and very— admirable. But Taehyung guesses that that’s what single fathers do. Go grocery shopping, make food, take care of their child.
He feels a bubble of slight envy that turns into melancholy when he realizes that he’s never going to have that kind of family. At all.
He vanishes the sad thoughts just in time for Taeguk to ask for another pudding and Taehyung is more than happy to give it to her, telling her to eat slowly, drink water, chew before swallowing.
And that’s their day until Jeongguk arrives with the takeout and dessert, jolting the both of them from their perch on the couch. They’ve been on the precipice of falling asleep when the door opens and Jeongguk shouts, "I’m home!"
Taeguk sits up first, quick to jump off the couch and rushes to Jeongguk, stumbling in the process which has Taehyung’s heart halting in its beat in worry before continuing when she only giggles, stands up and continues to waddle towards Jeongguk’s figure.
Jeongguk smiles and picks her up, tossing her in the air a couple of times, her giggles echoing in the living room. Taehyung watches them adoringly, the sight so incredibly homely, comfortable at best.
They look like the perfect picture of a happy family.
"Hi, monster," Jeongguk blows a raspberry on her bare neck, making her laugh out loud. Taehyung grins. "Feeling better? Were you good for Taehyung?"
"Mhm!" Taeguk nods vigorously, eyes wide and innocent. "I was! Tae-oppa gave me pudding!"
"Oh?" Jeongguk glances at Taehyung as he walks towards the couch where he is, plopping on the space beside him. "You did?"
Taehyung shrugs, nonchalant as he offers a boxy smile. "Sure. Nothing wrong with good old pudding."
"True," Jeongguk agrees and settles Taeguk in between them before putting the plastic bag of take out on the coffee table. "Here’s dinner. I hope you saved a space for dinner, monster."
Taeguk wiggles on her place. "I did! I did!"
It’s truly a wonder how a kid can eat, Taehyung muses as he watches Taeguk shove another stripe of meat inside her mouth, almost swallowing quickly but stops when Taehyung glances at her with a chiding expression. She chews slowly then and Taehyung smiles, nodding in approval, continues to eat his own portion.
The dinner goes well, his stomach so full he doesn’t know if he can even stand up but then Jeon Jeongguk, equally as full as him, takes out four beautiful boxes full of delicious hwagwaja and Taehyung’s stomach suddenly isn’t as full as thirty seconds ago.
What a traitor.
Taeguk scrambles to her father, climbs on his lap and watches in anticipation as Jeongguk opens one box. Taehyung almost whines when Jeongguk glances at him as he slowly takes the lid off, teasing with a smirk on his face.
He wants to stomp on his face with his lips or— something.
"Jesus Christ, what are you? In a drama? This is not some slow motion matrix movie, Jeongguk!" Taehyung exclaims playfully, throwing the other a faux frustrated glare.
Jeongguk laughs, holds Taeguk close to his chest as he shows the both of them the pretty decorated pastry.
A small hand quickly snatches one, giggle escaping past her lips as she does so. Taehyung and Jeongguk watches her taste the dessert for the first time, her eyes lightening when the taste is to her liking.
"It’s good!" Taeguk exclaims and offers Jeongguk the bitten pastry. Jeongguk bites onto it, humming in approval, eyes close as he savors the taste bursting in his tongue.
Meanwhile, Taehyung watches them with a smile on his face, content in examining how the father daughter duo interact in their own home. It’s not different to when they went to the amusement park or when Jeongguk dropped Taeguk in Taehyung’s university. However, the domesticity is palpable here, that homelike atmosphere lingering in every nook and cranny around the house, which makes Taehyung sigh— He sighs in longing, swallows hope once again and chides himself for allowing his mind to believe, for a second, that this could be his.
Taehyung swallows, biting his lip and is about to reach out for a piece of the pastry when Taeguk turns to him and offers him the one she’s holding, the one Jeongguk has bitten out of, like this is normal, like Taehyung is a part— a large part of them.
Another drop of hope prickles on his skin.
"Taste it, oppa! It’s so good! Right, daddy?" Taeguk glances at Jeongguk then back to Taehyung, offering her dessert to him and who’s Taehyung to refuse? With the force of her smile and eager eyes, Taehyung bites off from the pastry pinched in between her small fingers.
He hums, just like Jeongguk and nods, shows a thumbs up, says, "’s good, yeah."
And Taeguk continues to eat, her cold forgotten but still there in the continuous sniffles and a bit of cough, teary eyes. Still, she’s getting better and her cheerful personality hasn’t dimmed. It’s so lovable.
As he glances at Jeongguk, he finds that the other agrees with him, of course but it’s nice knowing that Jeongguk is as whipped for his daughter as Taehyung is.
What a good camaraderie.
"It’s nothing. Really."
"Still," Jeongguk leans his elbow on the kitchen counter, resting his chin on his palm as the other hand traces the rim of his cup of tea. "You really helped me."
Taehyung kicks Jeongguk under the table, playful. "Cheesy," he teases. "I said it’s fine. You’re just making me feel awkward, the hell, Jeon."
Jeongguk laughs and for some reason, reaches out and brushes the back of his hand against Taehyung’s cheek, rough skin of his knuckles leaving a burning trail on Taehyung’s heated flesh, now flushed deep red.
"Taeguk loves you," Jeongguk says, soft, almost a whisper.
Taehyung follows Jeongguk’s action, the way he retracts his hand from Taehyung’s cheek, the way he ducks down as he says the words, cheeks blooming into red, shy. He doesn’t know what to do with it and the beating of his heart is not helping. It beats against his chest, a steady drum in the quiet of the night, the deafening silence that wraps around them after Jeongguk’s statement.
His heart is— tumbling down, like dominos but haphazard, aimless like cupid is fucking drunk when targeting him so he ends up hitting Taehyung’s heart but with alcohol-induced arrow that’s got Taehyung feeling fucking drunk; in Jeongguk’s gaze, in Jeongguk’s touch, in Jeongguk’s mere presence.
He sucks in a deep breath, nods and says, "I love her too."
The smile that spreads on Jeongguk’s face is beautiful. Taehyung hates himself for thinking of it but facts are facts no matter the hatred.
"You two are adorable," Jeongguk says, lips quirked up into a cheeky smile.
Taehyung wrinkles his nose, ignores his cheeks blooming into a soft blush. "Shut the fuck up."
"Ah, ah. Bad word. Pay up."
A snort. "Yeah, right. You’re not Taeguk."
A shrug. "But I’m Jeongguk."
"So? I don’t have money right now."
"Pay with a kiss."
A beat; a suck of air, a stuttered I’m so—
— and a touch of lips.
It’s probably careless of Taehyung to do it but the rational part of his mind has flown out of the window the moment Jeongguk has caressed his cheek so softly, almost lovingly, eyes gentle in the way he has gazed at Taehyung.
He blames it on the dessert, on the spike of rush that flows through his veins at the mere touch, and on the heart that feels too much.
Taehyung presses his lips against Jeongguk’s own, hands cupping the other’s cheek lightly as he bends over the counter top, the space disabling him from getting closer but it’s enough; enough for their lips to glide together, soft and wet, shy and hesitant, curious to the bone.
Jeongguk pushes closer, head angling to the side to accommodate their more than complicated angle of kissing. That doesn’t stop them from sucking on each other’s lower lip, tasting the sweet sugary dessert they’ve both consumed just an hour ago, tongue swiping along the swollen flesh, before breaking away, gasping for air, panting for reason, trying to comprehend what just happened.
"I—," Taehyung starts, face centimeters away from Jeongguk’s own, lips red, so red and breathing shallow, lungs still trying to take in much needed air.
"No, it’s—," Jeongguk cuts in, licks his lips, glances on Taehyung’s own then back up to his eyes.
Taehyung shakes his head as he chews on his lower lip, making it all the more swollen.
"I’m sorry," Taehyung says, chokes out as he gasps for air. His chest feels tight, kind of like when he’s doing cardio for the first time in months and his stamina has dropped down to minus zero. "I didn’t mean to."
A frown mars Jeongguk’s face at the words and Taehyung swallows audibly. What now, what now.
I do, I do.
Taehyung shakes his head, "No."
"Really?" Jeongguk searches Taehyung’s face, looks for something that Taehyung is afraid he might find so he schools his expression into a neutral one, despite wanting to show everything, an open book, readable by everyone.
"Yes," Taehyung replies. And repeats, "Yes."
The kiss has created a wall in between them.
A huge one that is not easy to breach for the fact that one wall doesn’t exist and one keeps on standing tall, even through countless amounts of calls and messages, it keeps on standing tall, disabling them from communicating properly.
Jeongguk is uncertain. And Taehyung is avoiding him.
He doesn’t exactly know what has happened.
The evening when they kissed, Jeongguk still felt the lingering touch of Taehyung’s lips against his, despite the other saying that he didn’t mean it. Jeongguk, admittedly, has been more than disappointed. Not only because he thought they’re finally making progress, or he is, but no, apparently, they weren’t and it’s all just been some great imagination on Jeongguk’s part.
Nonetheless, Jeongguk savors the memory.
But— Taehyung has disappeared from their lives.
Taeguk asks, "Is Tae-oppa coming?"
Jeongguk can only sigh and smile, sadly, "Not today, monster. Maybe tomorrow."
And it’s been like that for a couple of weeks now.
To say that Jeongguk has lost hope is an understatement. Jeongguk not only has lost hope but his heart breaks just a tad bit. For him and Taeguk.
Due to that, Jeongguk agrees when Jimin comes barging in his office, exclaiming, "Be on my show again!"
Jeongguk has started saying, "Fuck no. Jimin—"
Jimin cuts in and says, "This is the last time! You let my show flopped with a capital F. You owe me, Jeon Jeongguk." He sighs and more calmly adds, "You’ve been sulking over Taehyung for a week now or well, months actually. Don’t you think… it’s time to move on?"
Moving on is all about tactic and effort not time nor avoidance.
So, Jeongguk sighs, rubs his hands down his face and mutters, "Fine."
Jimin grins at him, not as bright as before but just as sweet, understanding. "Great. I’ll find your perfect match."
A perfect match.
Jeongguk snorts, shakes his head as a bubble of humorless laugh escapes from him when Jimin finally exits his office.
Surprisingly enough, this time, Jeongguk actually finds someone that he remotely likes. He hasn’t been too thrilled with Jimin’s constant mingling in his business but he knows his best friend is just looking out for him and Taeguk. He thanks the other silently for his effort when he finds a date to his liking, hopes he doesn’t fuck it up again and tries to forget rectangular smiles, freckled nose, and baritone voice.
He does, for a while.
Her name is Lisa;
She is— incredibly beautiful, has a bright aura to her, huge kind eyes and a blinding smile. She reminds him of Taehyung which— should have really told him something but he ignores it, doesn’t dwell too much on the thought, doesn’t dare dig too deeply and instead enjoys his date with Lisa.
It goes really fucking well.
Jeongguk says, "Wow."
Lisa looks at him funnily, head tilted just a bit to the side. "Wow?"
"No, I mean," Jeongguk chuckles and shakes his head. "The date went well."
"Of course it did," Lisa replies, grinning and loops her arms with Jeongguk’s own, dragging him down the street in the cold weather of a late winter night. "You did good."
Jeongguk flushes, smiles at her and says, "Thank you."
The first date with Lisa going well means she gets to meet Taeguk.
It has always been like that with Jeongguk. The thing about him is, if Taeguk doesn’t approve of his lover, he stresses about it, does everything he can for them to bond but up until Taehyung has appeared, no one has ever smashed the wall that Taeguk has put up when it comes to approving her father’s lovers.
Taeguk likes Lisa, squealing when she sees her blonde hair, both of their huge eyes meeting before they break into wide grins and— and bond. They bond like Jeongguk isn’t there, sitting beside them and listening in to their conversation.
Taeguk exclaims, "I love disney princesses!"
Lisa chimes in, "Me too! Who’s your favorite, Tae-ah?"
"Belle is pretty," She says, voice dreamy.
"Oh," Lisa breathes out. "So Beauty and the Beast?"
Taeguk nods her head quickly and hums, "Mhm! I love Beauty and the Beast. What about unnie?"
"I love Mulan," Lisa informs, grinning at her. "She’s amazing. Have you seen it?"
Taeguk shakes her head, lips jutting out just slightly into a pout. "Nope."
"Do you want to see it?"
And so, Jeongguk ends up watching Mulan with the both of them, sitting with his arm behind the couch, fingers tapping against Lisa’s shoulder, feeling content to just sit there and listen to them chat. It’s the first time in weeks he’s felt relaxed, the thoughts of Taehyung always haunting him; when he’s asleep, when he’s awake and in between.
Lisa coming to their lives is a blessing.
Still, it doesn’t mean he forgets.
Neither does Taeguk.
One night, Taeguk crawls beside him, saying, "Wanna sleep with daddy tonight."
Jeongguk opens his arms, hugs his little girl and hums a song, as he rubs gentle circles on her back.
After a few minutes of silence, in which Jeongguk has believed that Taeguk has fallen asleep, the girl shifts, looks up at Jeongguk as she props her chin on his chest.
She says, "I miss Tae-oppa."
Jeongguk feels like someone has punched his stomach at the sad tone Taeguk has used. He looks at her tired eyes and brushes a thumb on her cheeks. He knows what she’s feeling but maybe— to her, it’s like a rejection, that she’s been abandoned and the thought alone makes Jeongguk bite on his lip, dejected in all the ways possible.
Because Jeongguk misses Taehyung too. He’s not going to deny it but he will never admit it out loud. Not yet, at least. He has grown so fond of Taehyung, liking, loving his warm presence beside him and how he interacts with Taeguk in such a comfortable way, with ease that Jeongguk has never seen anyone done before. In fact, he admits that he likes Taehyung, so much too much very much, that the feeling somehow chokes him, intense and bordering on something that he doesn't want to entertain yet. The sensation of falling is there, on the tips of his fingers, coaxing the appendages to twitch, to let go and just— fall.
But he doesn’t— doesn’t put a name on anything but he feels it. Knows it deep down his very being.
And it’s Taehyung, Taehyung, Taehyung.
Taeguk whispers again, "I miss Tae-oppa."
And this time, instead of keeping mum, quiet as a corpse, Jeongguk grunts in agreement, holds his daughter closer, tighter, as he says, "Yeah, me too."
Jeongguk puts a name on the intense emotion trying to swallow him inside out on a chilly winter night, christmas lights decorating the streets and music crooning about family and all that— baby it’s cold outside. It is, indeed, cold outside.
With Lisa by his side, it’s just a bit warmer but he only notices the weather a little as they enter the venue and mingle with the crowd, his mind drifting more than a mile, away from the actual place, somewhere not quite above the clouds, but just kilometers away.
He puts a name on the emotion when he sees Taehyung, head thrown back as he laughs, deep voice reaching Jeongguk’s ears even from across the room, making his skin prickle, tingle in the best kind of way. He gulps and tries to focus on the girl beside him as they approach the group, consisting of Jimin, Namjoon, Hoseok, Taehyung and some tall blonde guy Jeongguk doesn’t know.
When Lisa and him approaches, stops just a few steps away, the group quietens before facing them with smiles on their faces and voices out their greetings at the same time, causing Lisa to giggle and Jeongguk to shake his head at his friends.
A mess, that’s what they are.
As they calm down, Jeongguk says, "Hello there, you hooligans."
Hoseok grins brightly. "Jeongguk, my man. And who’s this?"
Lisa instantly smiles, bowing her head a little before saying, "Lisa, Jeongguk’s date. Nice to meet you…"
Hoseok quickly offers a hand which Lisa shakes as he chirps, "Hoseok. Nice to meet you too, m’lady."
Jimin rolls his eyes and shoves Hoseok away. "Hi, Lisa! How are you? I see that you two are still together?"
A shy smile forms on Lisa’s lips before she greets Jimin and nods her head in the process.
"Sure are," she says and laughs, patting Jeongguk’s arm curled around hers. "He’s a sweetheart."
Jimin’s eyes fleets to Taehyung briefly who’s staying quiet, observing the other’s instead of talking. He smiles at the younger before returning his attention to Lisa, eyes sparkling in mischief.
"Yeah?" Jimin cocks a brow, lips forming into a teasing smile. "That’s good! Always put him on his place, alright? He’s really hard to handle. I’d know, I raised him," He sighs then, sounding defeated, voice playful.
Jeongguk scoffs at Jimin and Lisa laughs, tinkling, like the chime of bells on a good summer day. Comforting, bright.
"Anyways, why don’t I introduce you to other people, hm? Take you away from this humpy grumpy for a while," Jimin suggests, more like states, offering his arm for Lisa to hook with.
Lisa glances at Jeongguk for affirmation, an eyebrow raised. Jeongguk only shrugs then nods, letting her go with a pat to her knuckle. And with that, Lisa grins at him, plants a kiss on Jeongguk’s cheek quickly before twining her arm with Jimin’s own.
Jeongguk watches them walk off, Hoseok and the blonde guy following them, chattering about his date with Yoongi last Friday. He briefly wonders where Yoongi is as he trails the back of the four of them, disappearing in the midst of the crowded room.
"Hi," Taehyung says, hesitant, eyes darting to the side before settling on Jeongguk’s form once again.
At the sound of Taehyung’s voice, Jeongguk tells himself to calm down, to be rational, to not start weeping or something, perhaps recite some cheesy Shakespeare poem, a perfect rendition of Romeo Oh Romeo Wherefore Art Thou Romeo. He doesn’t think Taehyung would like that— or like, who knows. But he doesn’t do it, tamps on the feeling of wanting to grab Taehyung and hug him tightly, closer, like the both of them are one entity.
"Hello, Taehyung," This is what Jeongguk ends up doing, greeting Taehyung with a small smile on his face, acting like Taehyung hasn’t cut him - them; jeongguk and taeguk - from his life.
He feels awkward in his own skin, somehow; so fucking awkward in the face of Taehyung whose beauty takes his breath away, who’s smile makes Jeongguk’s heart want to jump out of his chest, and who’s voice he dreams about every goddamn night when he’s not supposed to. He feels so awkward, there, where he’s standing yet he’s also relieved that Taehyung isn’t avoiding him.
After that mishap - The Kiss - Jeongguk and Taehyung continues to avoid each other, more on Taehyung’s side than on Jeongguk because he’s tried to contact him; tried so hard and doesn’t get anything.
So he— gives. up.
And he meets Lisa.
From then onwards, Jeongguk tries to forget Taehyung. Taeguk is somewhat distracted, the new addition to their duo taking all her attention but as mentioned, she still asks for Taehyung every night, without missing a beat and Jeongguk dies just a little bit every time he lies.
He’s incredibly thankful to Lisa, however, for diverting most of Taeguk’s attention from Taehyung. Although he can’t say the same for himself because despite having Lisa beside him, a constant warm presence that soothes Jeongguk’s heart just a little, Taehyung is all he can think about.
It’s Taehyung and Jeongguk’s mind never gets tired of running several laps, mind circling and centering on Taehyung.
He wants to blame the older for— for his misery and Taeguk’s pouts every morning and— and just— he wants to blame Taehyung and he does, but he’s also missed him so much that Jeongguk forgets on blaming Taehyung, stares at him instead and says, after a quick but deep intake of breath,
"How are you?"
Taehyung is watching him with dark eyes, intense and calculating. Jeongguk doesn’t know why and he’d want to know but he bites his tongue, lets Taehyung see all of him, the bits of what he’s showing him this evening.
"I’m… good," Taehyung finally answers, lips pulled into a small smile. "How about— about you?"
Jeongguk shrugs, smiles back, civil. "Same. Good old."
"And—," Taehyung hesitates, nibbles on his lower lip before sighing and saying, "And Taeguk? How is… she?"
The need to scream intensifies but Jeongguk swallows audibly, shrugs nonchalantly like Taehyung’s avoidance hasn’t affected the both of them, especially him, and says, "She’s good. Still likes to sass the hell out of me."
A chuckle escapes Taehyung, deep, throaty, settling in Jeongguk’s bones, stabbing at his heart because he misses that sound. He does.
"Really?" Taehyung grins, rectangular, like the usual. "That’s my angel." He says, fond then pauses, looks at Jeongguk with wide eyes and stammers, "I mean, not my— she’s—"
Jeongguk shakes his head, giggles, quite amused despite yearning consuming him slowly but surely. "No, it’s fine. She’s— she likes being called angel. By you. Only you."
"Oh," Taehyung breathes out, surprised, eyes wide. Jeongguk finds him adorable, charming, enchanting.
This time, Jeongguk grins warmly, almost blithely. "Yeah."
As the night continues, Jeongguk bit by bit, brick by brick, pieces to pieces, puzzles forming, finally puts a name to the emotion;
He thinks, yes, it’s love.
He adds, yes, he’s in love.
Taehyung is a fucking fool.
He’s a fool who falls too easily, gets attached too deeply, feels too much, much, much that it threatens to choke him even with him protecting his throat.
Undoubtedly, it’s his own fault.
It’s him wrapping his fingers around his neck, pressing the pads of his fingers harshly on his flesh, disabling air from going in and out of his lungs, mouth, whole being. He’s the one ruining his life;
When he kissed Jeongguk, he actually— meant to confess like, can we start again? one more time but fear has gripped his heart, uncertainty has held him down and the promise of heart break has disabled him from voicing what he really has wanted to say; the words that would have, most certainly, changed their relationship for the better.
But Taehyung is afraid of diving head first, fearless.
He’s not the same teenager anymore who doesn’t know what heart break is, who doesn’t know the concept of falling in love then falling out so sudden, who doesn’t know that although it feels good to love someone, it hurts more when you don’t love them anymore.
It’s difficult to trust himself when it comes to love.
He doesn’t trust himself at all and even when he tells himself to just— go, get it he doesn’t because what if— it hurts? Again?
Taehyung doesn’t like the pain that consumes his whole being, like swallowing poison, killing him but is still able to keep him alive.
What a double edged sword, love is.
Taehyung blinks, looks at the white canvas and turns to Bambam who’s looking at him all funny like.
Bambam frowns, shifts on his feet and glances at the nothingness of Taehyung’s artwork— or not-artwork before saying, "You’ve been staring at nothing for a solid ten minutes now."
"What?" Taehyung repeats then frowns because no, that’s impossible. He’s only settled himself on his seat not thirty seconds ago. That can’t be true. But a glance to the clock hanging on the far wall of the room tells him otherwise; tells him that what Bambam has said is true and he’s done nothing but gaze at dusts, small particles floating in the air, for the last ten minutes.
"Oh," He breathes out. "Right. Uhm."
"Something wrong?" Bambam sounds concerned, lips formed into a deeper frown, brows pinching together.
Taehyung shakes his head and smiles reassuringly. "No, I’m fine. Lack of sleep."
Bambam doesn’t look convinced but he sighs in the end and settles on the floor, beside Taehyung’s chair, leaning his head on the older’s thigh while closing his eyes.
"I haven’t seen Taeguk in a while, hyung," He says.
Taehyung swallows, hopes it’s not as audible as he thinks it is but Bambam’s reaction is telling enough; that he’s been too obvious.
"She," He starts, eyes flicking to the blank canvas then down to the brush he’s holding tightly in his right hand. "She is— uhm, busy. With her, father."
Bambam hums, watching him intently, "Is her father Jeon Jeongguk?"
Taehyung blinks and looks at Bambam in surprise. "Yeah? Wait, how did you know?"
Snorting, the younger rolls his eyes and pokes Taehyung’s thigh repeatedly. "I watched the episode of Millionaire Matchmaker."
"Oh," Taehyung breathes out. "Oh! Wait, really?"
"Yes, hyung," Bambam chuckles. "It was interesting. You walked out from him. Wow, I never thought someone would do that, especially on that show but wow, that was great."
The younger’s words prompts a breathy laugh from Taehyung, his posture relaxing, mind finally coming out of whatever haze he’s been in.
"I know. He really just pissed the fuck out of me."
"So, what changed?"
"Huh?" Taehyung cocks a brow.
Bambam grins at him. "What changed? Why was Taeguk with you? Why do you look heart broken? Why can’t you paint?"
Yeah, Taehyung, why can’t you paint?
He knows why and it’s because— the sight of Jeongguk with that girl, sweet as she is, sparkling eyes, bright smile, hurts like hell.
He can't help but think of them, imagine them doing what Taehyung, Jeongguk and Taeguk has done before. And— it's, perfect. The picture is perfect, that of what society approves. Because Lisa is a girl and she's beautiful and Taeguk probably is so fond of her. Maybe more than she's fond of Taehyung. And Jeongguk; Jeongguk deserves better, not Taehyung the farmer, not Taehyung the painter, not Taehyung the coward whose always running away from his feelings.
Taehyung isn’t jealous; yeah, okay, maybe a bit but he’s got only himself to blame. It’s always him trying to jeopardize anything good that comes because, as he believes, happiness doesn’t last and love is a brief feeling that comes and goes whenever it wants to and Taehyung doesn’t want to feel defeated again, especially when it’s Jeongguk— and extendedly, Taeguk.
He knows he’s hurt them buy cutting off all communications, avoiding them to a great degree. And Taehyung feels guilt claw at his insides, the emotion prompting the lump stuck in his throat to grow, grow, grow and in the end, he’s left in pain anyway.
He doesn’t see the point in loving if this is what he gets, either by giving up or diving down.
What’s the point, Taehyung?
"I don’t know."
"Listen to me."
"I am, hyung."
"No, Taehyung," Yoongi sighs, sounding exasperated. "Listen to me clearly."
Taehyung finally looks up at him, from his sketch of— of Taeguk and Jeongguk, not quite perfect because he hasn’t seen them both, together, in a while and well, his memory is shit.
He closes his sketchpad quickly but Yoongi has probably seen it. He sighs, agonized.
"I am listening, hyung."
Yoongi settles beside him, on his and Seokjin’s couch because Taehyung couldn’t handle being alone anymore, the loneliness wrapping around his small apartment, memories pulling him down to depression; so he crashes on Yoongi’s and Seokjin’s apartment. It’s more— homely, comfortable, doesn’t make him want to swallow shattered pieces of glass.
Shifting on his perch on the couch, Taehyung puts the sketchpad on the coffee table and faces Yoongi, curious of what he wants to talk about. Taehyung has a hunch but, he doesn’t quite want to acknowledge it.
Ignorance is bliss.
"You need to come out there, Taehyung," Yoongi says, face serious, voice firm.
Taehyung makes a face because, okay. "Right," He says, confused. "I don’t really feel like going out in this weather, hyung."
The weather mirrors Taehyung’s emotions; a hurricane, a storm, wind clashing against the glass windows, trees swaying violently as rain falls down like bullets, washing the sins of the world with its vicious liquid.
It’s winter and it’s December and Taehyung is turning twenty seven in two days. He feels ancient, he’s so exhausted.
He’s so lonely.
It’s his own fault.
Yoongi sighs, glares at him as he runs a hand through his dark hair. Taehyung thinks he fits dark hair better than blonde but— he’s biased. He loves his Yoongi-hyung, sue him.
"Stop joking around, Kim Taehyung," Yoongi almost hisses and Taehyung blinks in shock, wonders what’s gotten into him. "You’re hurting your own self. Have you seen your face in the fucking mirror? You look like fucking death incarnate."
At the words, Taehyung makes a face, insulted. He opens his mouth to retaliate, say, excuse me? you’re one to say that! you’re paler than me but Yoongi shakes his head, glare still in place and Taehyung shuts up, doesn’t even make a sound, just contorts his face the ugliest he can to convey his disapproval.
Yoongi continues, voice tired, frustrated in all the ways Taehyung can’t explain. He still doesn’t know what’s going on but his hunch— is there, in the traces of Yoongi’s annoyance towards him, or his actions.
"Stop running away from your feelings. Stop running away from them," Yoongi says, eyeing him pointedly.
Taehyung sucks in a breath, doesn’t let it out for a while and basks at the burn in his lungs before he replies, rushes out, "I am not— not running away. I am—"
"You are," Yoongi insists then points at the sketchpad laying innocently on the table. "Tell me, how many sketches have you done of them, Taehyung? You’re sitting here, sighing every fucking second when you can go and chase your happiness. You’re a coward, aren’t you?"
He is not—
"I am not—" Taehyung mutters, whispers so quietly, almost just a breath of words, floating in the air. His chest feels so fucking tight and this is unfair of Yoongi, attacking him like this. He feels so open, so raw and it hurts badly without his armor of protection, his apathy to protect him from the immense pain the words is causing him to feel.
"You are," Yoongi asserts, unforgiving, even when Taehyung is looking at him pleadingly to stop, he didn’t come here to feel all the more shitty.
"Hyung," Taehyung chokes out, fists clenched into tight balls. "You can’t just— say that."
"Of course, I can, Taehyung," Yoongi says, nonchalant, blunt. Taehyung bites his lower lip. "You’re hurting yourself. When will you stop running away from your feelings? The past doesn’t define your future nor your future define your fucking past. Don’t let it stop you from being happy. Right now, you don’t look ecstatic, not even a genuine smile has escaped that annoying mouth of yours for weeks. You’re turning twenty seven soon and you’re still acting like a fucking toddler."
Okay, that was a low blow.
Taehyung isn’t acting like a fucking child. Taking care of his heart, avoiding heart break, is not childish. It’s called being cautious, careful.
"I am not acting like a child," Taehyung says as he narrows his eyes at the older.
Yoongi tilts his head, lips quirking into a cocky smirk and says, "You fucking are."
"I am not, hyung," Taehyung repeats, chants like a fucking mantra to himself, to Yoongi, to the world. He is not a coward, not a toddler in need of scolding, especially from Yoongi. "I am not."
A sigh, somewhat defeated, a cross between exasperated, a lot more frustrated. "Taehyung," Yoongi starts and takes Taehyung’s hand in his smaller ones. "Do you love Jeongguk?"
Taehyung grits his teeth, avoids Yoongi’s gaze and clutches the older’s hands in his tightly.
Does he love Jeongguk?
Love is such— a complicated thing. It’s broad; can mean a lot of things, can ruin a lot of lives, can bring a whole race into their knees, can kill a man in his sleep.
Love is a murderer of all things holy.
Yet Taehyung jerks his head into a small nod, says quietly, softly, "Yeah." Then adds, wistful but a small smile on his lips, "I’m in love with him."
Yoongi tugs on his hands and Taehyung looks up from studying the contrast of their skin, their intertwined hands. He sees Yoongi with a smile, consoling, soothing.
He says, "Then be in love with him."
Taehyung wants to say, I can’t but Yoongi adds, "You can. Be in love, be happy, have a family, adopt a dog, raise a child. You can."
And Taehyung almost actually cries because that’s all— that’s all he’s ever wanted since he has witnessed his parents repeat their wedding vows on their twentieth wedding anniversary, before they left him and his siblings. He misses them, quite a lot but he’s not sad, knows they’re in a good place and Taehyung— Taehyung wants their everlasting love, surviving multiple hurricanes, coming out stronger, more in love.
He looks at Yoongi as he chews on his lower lip, feels hope spread throughout his whole being, feels love pull him down deep but he’s breathing.
He’s breathing and he feels alive.
Despite the uncertainty still stabbing at his insides, the multiple insects telling him to run away, Taehyung takes a deep breath, listens to the whistle of the wind from the outside, shuts his eyes and pictures Taeguk and Jeongguk and happiness.
It’s an amazing sight.
Sadly, Lisa and Jeongguk doesn’t quite work out.
There’s nothing wrong with Lisa; she’s lovely, kind and understanding. However, there’s everything wrong with Jeongguk.
Lisa is observant, so much so that she confronts Jeongguk one evening, after their date while they’re sipping on red wine, dessert plate laying on the side.
She says, "You don’t love me."
Jeongguk almost chokes on red wine and that would have been embarrassing. He prevents that by forcing himself to calm down, to stamp the sudden onslaught of anxiety building in his stomach as he gazes at her with surprise painted on his face.
"I do," He says, brows furrowed. "Why do you say so?"
Lisa smiles, sips on her wine and studies Jeongguk’s face behind the rim of her glass, lips twitched into a small knowing smile.
"You’re always dazing out when we’re together and sometimes, you look at me like I’m not there, like you see another person and not me," She explains, voice calm, not accusing.
Still, Jeongguk feels guilt rise up from his guts, disallowing him from looking her straight in the eyes. He knows that’s a sign, that what she’s saying is true but maybe— maybe Jeongguk is tired of lying, of stringing people along, of forcing himself to forget when he couldn’t— can’t, of trying to delete an existence that’s too deeply engrained in his bones that he can’t sleep properly most nights.
"It’s okay," Lisa assures with a shrug of her shoulders. She looks composed, too composed in fact that Jeongguk should feel insulted or something but there’s an underlying sadness in her eyes that Jeongguk observes when he finally raises his gaze to meet hers. She’s smiling at him, understanding. "I know it’s impossible to dictate what the heart feels. I’ve been there, done that."
Jeongguk listens, nods and swallows the lump stuck in his throat. He says, "I’m sorry."
Lisa snorts and downs her glass of wine, lips now pulled into a grin. "It’s okay. At least I noticed before I fell too hard, eh?"
Guilt. It’s guilt pumping through his veins, up to his brain, down to his heart. He can’t quite breathe properly so he gulps a huge air, ignoring Lisa’s amused stare before forming words that hopefully convey his remorse.
"Really, I’m sorry for— not telling you," Jeongguk starts. "I was, in a way, running away which didn’t help. I’m an asshole, aren’t I?"
"You are," Lisa agrees, then giggles after, eyes crinkling. She’s adorable but— "So, who’s it? Was it that guy you first went on a date with?"
"Yeah," Jeongguk admits because he’s not going to lie anymore, not going to hurt anyone because he’s a dickhead that needs to man up, like how his parents has taught him to be. "Taehyung, yeah."
"Taeguk loves him, you know," She informs, fond at the thought of Taeguk who calls her li-unnie. "She’s always telling me about him. Tae-oppa here, Pretty oppa there. It’s adorable."
"Oh god," Jeongguk groans because of course Taeguk would talk about Taehyung. He hasn’t heard her speak about him for a while but he knows she misses him dearly by the way she’s always clutching the lion plush that Taehyung has won for her that day in the amusement park. "I’m really sorry. I didn’t know. I should have—"
"Jeongguk," Lisa calls out, takes one of Jeongguk’s hand in hers and rubs soothing circles on his knuckles. He relaxes and smiles at her, thankful. "I said it’s fine. Quite sad that you didn’t introduce me to him. I think we would’ve gotten on well, eh?" She grins, presses a finger on the space between his thumb and forefinger, massaging lightly. "From what I remember, he’s gorgeous. Were you afraid I’ll steal him?"
Jeongguk snorts, shakes his head with a fond smile on his face, slightly embarrassed. "No, no," He chuckles. "I just— forgot. I didn’t mean to not introduce you two."
"I noticed," She rolls her eyes. "You were so focused on him that one time. What a whipped man." She teases then adds, "I wished you’d have looked at me like that but then again, love is complicated."
"Yeah," Jeongguk agrees, wraps her fingers around her own thinner ones. "It is."
"So go make it less complicated," Lisa beams at him; bright, beautiful, ethereal. She’s quite a masterpiece, just like Taehyung. "I love you," She says and Jeongguk’s breath hitches because— the feeling isn’t quite reciprocated. "I love you," Lisa repeats with a teasing smile on her face. "But I’m not in love with you. It’s more platonic than romantic, you know? I think we forced each other long enough to get tired of it, don’t you think so?"
"Oh," Jeongguk breathes out, processes her words, understands what she’s implying and nods. "Yeah, you’re right." He says. "I love you too. Taeguk loves you too."
"But you’re not in love with me."
"And I’m not in love with you."
"So go get your Taehyung and leave me alone."
They share similar kind grins; genuine, people who sympathizes with each other.
When days pass by, when one ignores the time, when the mind is a blank space, it’s easy to forget that the world is spinning and not everything is bad.
But— Taehyung, despite admitting his feelings, despite wanting to chase like a cat to a mouse, he doesn’t do anything. Cowardly, he knows but he’s also busy.
He’s not that free when he goes home to Daegu and hugs his grandma tightly. He forgets his problems when his siblings whines at him to stop kissing us on the lips! we’re not babies anymore prompting him to laugh merrily. He’s unable to look back nor forward when he visits his parents grave on the first of January, telling them stories of the farm, of his siblings, of Yoongi and Seokjin and— he doesn’t tell them about Jeongguk and Taeguk because Taehyung can’t quite force himself to say their names, tongue-tied when he thinks about them, much less talk about them. Especially to his deceased parents.
So he forgets as the days pass by but the lingering want, desire is there. The longing keeps on intensifying and he stands by his balcony on one cold winter night, back to Seoul again, watches as cars zooms past the almost deserted roads, and whispers, to himself, like a prayer, a plea,
Please, make it right.
What Taehyung means with right isn’t Jimin barging in on his art room where he’s halfway done with a painting of another landscape because painting humans, people, only ends up with him painting Jeongguk or Taeguk and JeonggukandTaeguk. It’s a vicious cycle.
Jimin exclaims, "Kim Taehyung!"
Taehyung yelps, red splattering on the canvas. He looks at the mess in horror, almost weeping because— now the piece is ruined. Fucking Park Jimin.
He turns to Jimin whose hip is cocked to the side, hands on his waist, looking the perfect picture of someone who Taehyung wants to strangle so so badly.
"What?" He snaps, narrows his eyes in suspicion.
It’s never good when Jimin just comes sauntering in without telling him or Yoongi or anyone for that matter.
Jimin grins and walks closer to him, plucks his brush from his hand and drops it on the floor which is rude, by the way. That’s his expensive brush.
"You’re going to be in Millionaire Matchmaker."
Taehyung stares at him comically before bursting out in loud laughters.
"What?" He wheezes in between laughs. "Me? Oh, that’s funny. Phew." He wipes the corner of his eyes dramatically and pats Jimin’s flawless cheek with his paint covered hand, smearing blue on the flesh. He smiles secretly, humored. "I think you entered the wrong room. I’m not a millionaire."
Jimin tilts his head and wipes his cheek, messing up the paint there. When his hand comes up blue, he glares at Taehyung for a few seconds before sighing and says, "I changed something for the show, it’s a special episode so we’re having someone who’s not millionaire on it. And," Jimin pauses, grins, "I picked you."
Taehyung snorts, looks at Jimin in disbelief and shakes his head because— that’s really ridiculous. The show is a joke and Taehyung going on it twice makes him a larger piece of fucking joke. Not only because everyone will know he doesn’t come from money - not that that is a problem. He’s proud of his lineage - but also because of what he did to a certain man the last time he’s on it. That episode has gotten quite— bad comments due to Taehyung’s actions.
But he doesn’t quite dwell on it; that was the past, nothing to do with his future and a fucking joke.
"No," Taehyung opposed, frown marring his lips. "I’m not going to be a— a fucking joke again, Jimin." He says with a furrow in his brows.
"You won’t be," Jimin swears, voice sharp as he steps closer to Taehyung, bends over just slightly so he’s eye-level with the other who’s sitting with his back hunched, trying to disappear within himself. "But it’s going to be a new experience, right?"
Taehyung frowns, shrugs, stubborn. "A new experience that I don’t fucking need."
"It’ll help you forget," Jimin says, and that’s a blow— to his guts, to his weakness. It’s a hook, line, and sinker; in which all Taehyung has ever wanted the past months was to forget but he couldn’t quite do it. Doesn’t know how to except Yoongi’s incessant suggestion of, go to a club. drink. get laid. forget. easy. It isn’t easy so he follows none of those and here he is. Jimin is the devil incarnate, with his pretty smile and paint covered fingers, cups Taehyung’s cheek, and says, "Let’s find you the perfect match."
He knows he’s going to regret this with a capital R but Taehyung is also tired of the loneliness consuming him every night.
Every night when he closes his eyelids, trying to fall into a dreamless sleep, a familiar face appears, followed by a shy smile, and a cheery squeal. He can’t sleep.
"Fine," He huffs, finally. "But if you find an asshole, I’m suing your company."
Jimin throws him a mischievous grin, eyes sparkling, like he knows something Taehyung doesn’t.
He says, "Oh, I’ll find the perfect match for you."
"Where’s the camera crew?"
"Oh, well. They’re—" A long pause. "—coming."
Taehyung frowns, eyeing the man driving beside him. "Where are we going?"
Namjoon sighs and glances at Taehyung with smile on his face, resembling that of Jimin’s own. Taehyung is beginning to loathe this couple.
"We’re almost there."
Scrunching his nose, he settles on the seat and looks outside. Of the buildings they pass by, looking familiar because Taehyung has passed these same buildings before. His heart clenches in nostalgia, knowing that he will never drive by these streets anymore for the same reason as before. It’s— disappointing.
"Fine," He huffs. "Fine."
When they arrive on the location, Namjoon stops him from going out, planting a warm hand on his arm.
"Wait," The older says and brandishes a dark cloth. Silk, Taehyung observes.
He raises a brow and examines the cloth, suspicious. "What is that?"
Namjoon grins at him and says, "Blindfold."
"The fuck?" Taehyung sets his lips into a straight line. "Why? Aren’t we just meeting potential dates? Why do we need a blindfold?"
Namjoon shrugs, waving the cloth in front of Taehyung’s face. "Jimin has changed something in the show. Told me it will, uh— make it more interesting. Or something."
Taehyung furrows his brows, still skeptical but lets Namjoon wrap the blindfold around his head, covering his eyes before he steps out the car. Namjoon helps him navigate, heart thudding in his chest loudly, louder than normal as he focuses on using the rest of his senses not blocked by a fucking cloth.
He listens in, to every rustle of the tress, blow of the cold wind that makes him shiver because it’s still the end of January, meaning, winter hasn’t quite left yet. He focuses on the sounds of his breathing and Namjoon’s breathing, steady, slow. And he clutches Namjoon’s hand that’s guiding him in his, tight because he’s scared and doesn’t quite trust Namjoon to not let him fall off a set of stairs or a cliff. Whichever.
A door opens.
Taehyung’s step falters but Namjoon is there to urge him forward, lead him to his doom or as Jimin calls it, his eternal love. Whatever that means.
He doesn’t quite trust Jimin when it comes to matchmaking.
"Here," Namjoon whispers, a smile on his voice.
Taehyung bites his lower lip, anxious, nervous.
"Yeah," He whispers back before the blindfold drops and—
—and there are no people.
No camera crew, no cameras at all, no potential dates, no Jimin and now, as he hears the door clicks shut behind him, no Namjoon.
Jeongguk smiles at him, standing a few steps away, dressed in casual clothes; almost resembling Taehyung’s normal clothes when he’s lazy and doesn’t want to go out of his apartment.
"Taehyung," Jeongguk says and Taehyung clenches his jaw, breathes in and out quickly because what is happening.
"What," is the only thing he can muster to say. His brain has frozen, short circuited at the sight of Jeongguk after months— that almost felt like years, of separation, of not seeing each other.
"Hi," Jeongguk greets, steps closer. "Surprise?"
Taehyung furrows his brows, steps back when Jeongguk keeps on walking closer. "Where are we?"
Jeongguk blinks then says, "Oh, we’re in Namjoon’s house. Nice, huh?"
Observing the environment, Taehyung agrees that it’s nice. It’s minimalistic, cozy, homely but he still can’t comprehend the reason of why he’s here and why Jeongguk’s here and why this place. Where’s the fancy restaurant, the wine, the chattering of strangers, the cameras recording their every move?
"Why?" Is what Taehyung says, questions, because he doesn’t want to hope, doesn’t want take an offering that will leave him broken once again.
Jeongguk smiles, tilts his head down with a shy expression on his face. It’s— cute, and Taehyung misses him so much.
"Because," Jeongguk starts, staring at the floor. He picks his head up then and focuses his gaze on Taehyung, eyes intense, dark and determined. Taehyung’s breath leaves him in a rush. "I love you," He says. Taehyung’s hands shakes by his sides. "I’m in love with you," He adds, corrects, emphasizes the words by saying them in a slow manner, letting the spaces in between get filled with his emotion, with his honesty and Taehyung’s shock. "And I want to ask you, Kim Taehyung, to go on a date with me. Just like the first time, but less disastrous. Please."
Taehyung is the master of avoidance; a firm believer that ignorance is bliss, procrastination is the only nation he’ll ever rule and paying bills last minute shouldn’t get shunned but instead praised.
However, Taehyung has learned that ignorance isn’t always blissful because he’s suffered enough the past months by ignoring his heart and procrastination is a hell of a miserable nation to rule without someone coming home to him with delicious dinner and sweet desserts, and paying bills— well, Taehyung is still working on that.
What he’s trying to say is, Taehyung is done running from his feelings. He’s ready to take Jeongguk’s hand and fall together, despite not having any fucking parachute with them. They’ll live, hopefully, as long as they don’t let go.
"Okay," Taehyung says after long minutes of silence. Jeongguk is looking at him uncertainly, resembling that of a scared bunny. He bites back a smile. "But I want to arrange it," He says, slow, looking for the right words. "If you did, it’s going to flop again."
Jeongguk looks at him with a hurt expression, quite insulted but then grins, and steps closer, closer, just a few steps away, almost there but not yet.
"That’s fine," he says.
"Good," Taehyung replies.
Taehyung tilts his head, wonders what the other wants. Jeongguk pointedly looks at the space in between them, wanting to breech it but asking for permission before he does so. Taehyung smiles at him sweetly and nods, opening his arms wide.
Jeongguk immediately closes in and gathers Taehyung in his arms, leaving Taehyung breathless and clutching on his shirt clad back.
"Tae," He whispers, crushing his chest against Taehyung’s own like he hasn’t touched him in forever. Taehyung nuzzles his face on the crook of Jeongguk’s neck, inhaling his scent, the way he’s always wanted to before. Jeongguk mutters again, as he plants a kiss on the visible patch of sun-kissed skin on Taehyung’s neck, "Tae."
Taehyung breathes in, then out. Slow, deliberate, as he whispers back, "Gukkie."
And he feels calm, content, comfortable after months of agony and sleepless nights.
Jeongguk, as they lounge on Namjoon’s huge couch, arms around Taehyung, not wanting to let go even for just a second, asks, "Can I kiss you?"
Taehyung chuckles, props his chin on Jeongguk’s shoulder and says, "Jimin said no kiss on the first date."
"But—" Jeongguk makes a face. "This is our second date."
"It is?" Taehyung teases, boxy grin on his face. "Where’s the candle lights, the classical music, the rose petals, the delicious dinner, and the decade old wine?"
"Demanding," Jeongguk snorts and Taehyung mouths at his jaw, trailing small kisses on his cheek before finally planting his lips on Jeongguk’s awaiting one, their breaths mingling as they pause and stare at each other, so fond, so in love.
"Get used to it," Taehyung mutters, smiling against Jeongguk’s soft lips. "I’m needy."
Jeongguk grins and pulls him in for a kiss, holding the back of his head firmly in place to keep him from pulling away. Taehyung lets him; he doesn’t think he will stop Jeongguk from kissing him any time soon, or ever.
He presses his lips firmer on Jeongguk’s own, puckering for more when Jeongguk pulls away briefly, mouths at his cheek before diving in for his lips again. This time, Taehyung cups his cheeks with both hands, holding him there, pressed tight to him, and licks on his lower lip. Jeongguk retaliates with a bite, a simple nibble that has Taehyung’s breath stuttering on its intake. He swipes his tongue along Jeongguk’s bottom lip, pressing a lasting kiss before he pulls away, breathing heavily.
He says, "Cheat."
Jeongguk grins and bumps their forehead together. "As long as I can kiss you."
Taehyung snorts and leans in for a brief kiss, letting his lips linger on Jeongguk’s own, eyes fluttering close before opening slowly, lashes fanning on his cheeks.
Jeongguk smiles, preens at the compliment, almost puffs his chest, proud. "Yeah?"
"Yeah," Taehyung agrees, ruffles his hair and settles beside him, arms wrapping around his waist, face burying on the crook of his neck.
Taehyung can fall asleep like this.
According to the weather report, it’s going to be sunny.
And sunny it is.
However, Jeongguk doesn’t know if it’s because of Taehyung’s rectangular smile that the sun has risen, no clouds in sight, the wind still, perfect even or that it’s because of the sun that Taehyung has woken up looking so bright, tanned skin glowing, bright smile blinding enough for Jeongguk to squint his eyes.
He appreciates early mornings but this kind of brightness, so early at this time of the day, both from the sun and Taehyung is just— rude. His heart can’t take it when Taehyung bounces to him, dressed in wide legged pants and huge cream colored knitted sweater that allows him to cover half of his hands, creating a sweater paw.
Jeongguk resists to melt into a puddle of fucking goo not only because he’s going to finally go on his date with Taehyung but also because he’s not that weak. It takes more than that for him to melt like a whipped man possessed.
"Good morning," Taehyung greets, eyes fleeting around before he asks, "Where’s Taeguk?"
Jeongguk tilts his head, cocks his brows. "Morning, love," He says and adds, "With Jimin."
"Oh," He sounds disappointed which Jeongguk ponders over until he voices out the reason in the next breath. "I thought she’s coming with. I wanted to show her Daegu."
"Daegu?" Jeongguk blinks, eyeing Taehyung curiously.
Taehyung nods enthusiastically, beaming widely. "Yeah. We’re heading there. You gotta see the farm! I know it’s winter and there really aren’t any live plants right now but we have a greenhouse!"
Jeongguk, honestly, has not expected this. Taehyung is bringing him to Daegu? To his family? Holy mother of good cheerios— He might as well hyperventilate right there and then.
However, he doesn’t. Thank god. He only chokes as he tries to swallow inaudibly, failing to do so and prompting Taehyung to look at him, amused at the sound that escapes out of his mouth.
"Right. Uhm," Jeongguk coughs out. "Do you— uh, want me to bring— something? Like a gift? Your parents or anyone—"
Taehyung tacks in, voice suddenly small but still chirpy, "They’re dead. But! My grandma is there and siblings. They’ll like you."
"Oh," Shit. "I’m sorry. I didn’t know."
"It’s okay," Taehyung ruffles his hair with a shake of his head, a quiet dismissal. "I don’t really like talking about it but— well, you’ll know eventually so."
"Yeah," Jeongguk nods then pulls Taehyung into a hug, buries his face on the other’s neck as he tightens his arms around him. "Thank you," He says. "For trusting me."
Taehyung wraps his arms around him and sways their bodies side to side, smile on his voice, "It’s only because I love you."
And okay, that’s the first time Taehyung has told him that he loves him.
Jeongguk has been quietly agonizing over the fact that Taehyung hasn’t said anything about loving him when Jeongguk has laid out his heart for the other’s taking. And now, his chest bursts in happiness while hearing those words, lips pulled into a wide grin as he hugs Taehyung tighter.
"Good," He says, then adds, "So, Daegu in winter?"
Taehyung pulls back, grins at him and intertwines their hands. "It’s cold but it’s beautiful."
The drive to Daegu is— interesting, to say the least.
Jeongguk now knows Taehyung likes classical music but also trot. The other sings as a song comes from the speaker, baritone voice music to Jeongguk’s ears but the song quite— just makes him laugh in the passenger seat.
Taehyung sings dramatically as he maneuvers the road with one hand and with his free one gestures around, reaching out to flick Jeongguk’s cheek before belting out the last notes like the true trot singer that he hopes he is. Jeongguk can’t help but adore him more as he watches, so fond, so charmed.
He also finds out that Taehyung has been one huge Big Bang fanboy.
Jeongguk vibrates in his seat as Loser comes and he resists to sing along but ends up doing so anyway. He can feel Taehyung’s gaze flicking to him before settling on the road and when they hit a red light, the song fading to the next one, Taehyung turns to him with a closed but adoring smile on his face.
"You like Big Bang?" Jeongguk asks, surprised mixed in his voice.
Taehyung wrinkles his nose before focusing his attention back on the road but not before rolling his eyes at Jeongguk’s ridiculous question.
"Have I been living under a rock in Daegu? No, Jeongguk," Taehyung says, teasing. "I do live in Seoul right now. Of course I know fucking Big Bang," He replies as he taps his fingers on the steering wheel, on time with the song playing.
The song changes from Fantastic Baby to Crush by The Gigs, one that Jeongguk remembers from his late teens.
He hums along then says, "I love your voice."
Taehyung’s lips twitches into a shy smile and, with eyes still trained on the almost deserted road, says, "Thank you."
The rest of the drive Jeongguk spends with listening to Taehyung’s voice serenade him with different genres of music, sometimes he joins the other, their voices harmonizing beautifully. Almost perfectly.
Like they’re one entity.
Jeongguk is not fidgeting. Definitely not.
He’s also not sweating buckets as they trudges closer to Taehyung’s home, where his family leaves, that Jeongguk will meet soon.
Okay, Jeongguk is sweating buckets and is fidgeting. He feels like he’s going to ask for Taehyung’s hand which— he probably should do; kill two birds with one stone and all that.
It’s not like he can’t picture himself and Taehyung married, albeit the ceremony out of the country because South Korea still doesn’t accept the same sex marriage. Still, Jeongguk has entertained the picture of marrying Taehyung, of proposing, of hearing I do and spending forever plus eternity with the other.
The thought has him smiling, goofy, happy.
Taehyung turns to him before opening the door to the house, "Why are you smiling like that?"
Jeongguk shakes his head and squeezes Taehyung’s hand twined with his. "Nothing. Just excited."
A boxy grin appears on Taehyung’s face then as he says, while unlocking the door, "Me too."
It goes like this;
Taehyung shouts, "I’m home!"
Then there are feet stampeding on the floor, more than one pair before a girl and a boy, no more than twelve years old, comes crashing on Taehyung’s body, hugging him tightly.
Taehyung laughs, bright, cheerful.
And Jeongguk has never seen someone so beautiful, so ethereal, exquisite at best. Taehyung, with his head thrown back and deep laughter echoing in the space around, is captivating, enchanting Jeongguk all over again, making his heart beat so fast— he can’t even follow anymore on which way his rationality would go; left, right, to Taehyung.
He doesn’t care, as long as Taehyung is the finish line.
"Hey," Taehyung pushes his siblings off of him and grabs Jeongguk’s wrist, says, "This is Jeongguk."
They stare at Jeongguk with similar curious eyes before they smile, as boxy as Taehyung’s and Jeongguk can’t help but adore them already.
"Hi!" The girl chirped, say, "Are you oppa’s boyfriend?"
The boy adds, "Hyung’s boyfriend!"
Taehyung rolls his eyes at them, "Yeah, he is. Where’s grandma?"
Being called Taehyung’s boyfriend by Taehyung himself and his siblings, makes Jeongguk’s insides flutter, doubling the amount of butterflies tickling his stomach.
"Grocery." The both of them says, like they’ve practiced it before, perhaps has actually done it before, Jeongguk wouldn’t put it past them.
"Okay. Right," Taehyung nods. "You two stay here. I’ll take Jeongguk around."
Jeongguk waves at them as Taehyung pulls him back out, hand still on his wrist. He follows the man with no questions asked, let him lead Jeongguk wherever he wants, even to the ends of the earth.
Taehyung brings him first to the greenhouse; a small little glass house with plants that Jeongguk has never seen before. Or, has never paid attention to. Both.
"Look!" Taehyung chirps, drags Jeongguk to an orchid with a flower blooming on it, looking fresh, anew.
It’s like their relationship; a metaphor of some sort.
"It’s beautiful," Jeongguk says as he stands beside Taehyung, a hand on the small of the other’s back, just wanting to have a connection with him, even if it’s small, or brief.
Taehyung nods and breathes out, "It is."
The trip to the greenhouse ends with Taehyung putting a Pink Camilla behind Jeongguk’s ears, saying, "You’re beautiful, Gukkie."
Jeongguk blushes, takes the flower from his ear and pulls Taehyung close to him.
He says, quietly, secretly, "And you’re enchanting."
Taehyung lets out a melodic laugh, the sound settling on Jeongguk’s heart, warming his insides, making him feel so blessed that he’s met Taehyung even after all the shit that he’s done in his younger life.
The next stop has been, what Taehyung has called, Ice Hill of Biseul Mountain.
Jeongguk is curious because what the hell is an Ice Hill Mountain but when they arrived, his mouth drops at the beauty of it. The sun is setting now and the weather has grown considerably cold, wind whipping against their bare cheeks, making them shiver but still shoulder on to see the beauty of it all.
And a fucking beauty it is.
More so when Taehyung stands closer to the glacier, the white in contrast to his dark hair, the golden of his skin, and he looks even more beautiful than before. He looks almost angelic in his white jacket that swallows his lithe frame, protecting him from the cold weather.
When Jeongguk has asked, "Why are you wearing such huge jacket, babe?"
Taehyung grins at him and says, "I get cold easily."
Jeongguk has then stated, "I’ll keep you warm."
And that prompts Taehyung to halt in his steps, stare at Jeongguk with wide eyes before his expression brightens up, happy smile plastered on his face and Jeongguk, with cheeks flushed from the weather and his cheesy words, takes in the sight with dark eyes, thudding heart, and clear mind.
He wants to treasure every faces that Taehyung makes, especially when he’s the reason for it.
He wants to treasure Taehyung.
So, they stay in the Ice Hill for a while, Taehyung dragging him to take pictures of everything that captures his attention.
He urges Jeongguk to stand in front of the glacier and pose— cutely. Jeongguk stares at him, like Taehyung has said something dumb which— he has because Jeongguk doesn’t do cute. However, he relents when Taehyung juts his bottom lip out and looks at him with puppy eyes that he’s too weak for to resist. Damnit.
"Fine," Jeongguk huffs.
He poses with the V sign, grins widely, bunny smile on the loose and Taehyung cheers, takes more than a dozen of pictures and throws his arms around Jeongguk’s shoulder after, nose nuzzling the side of his face.
Taehyung whispers, "Cute."
Jeongguk snorts and says, "You said that too."
"Cute," Jeongguk explains. "When we first met— on the train, remember? You said cute."
Taehyung turns to him fully, arms around his shoulder slackening, and Jeongguk fidgets a little, the scrutinizing gaze of the other making him nervous.
Taehyung continues to stare for another few moments then tackles him into a hug, burying his face on Jeongguk’s neck as he exclaims, "You remembered!"
Jeongguk wraps his arms around him, ignoring the couple of people now looking at them due to Taehyung’s actions. He doesn’t care. Let them watch. Let them see who he loves and who Taehyung loves.
Love, after all, has no boundaries.
Love, Jeongguk believes, conquers all.
"Of course, I did," He says, tightening his hold around Taehyung whom he can feel is grinning against the skin on his neck. "I will never forget."
Taehyung mutters, knocking his forehead on Jeongguk’s clavicle. "Sap."
They somehow end up going to a temple. It’s the end of January, and everything is quiet, dark, but as they enter the place, the only thing that Jeongguk wants to do is bow down and thank all the Gods that exists for Kim Taehyung and Kim Taehyung forgiving him and Kim Taehyung giving him a second, third chance.
And Kim Taehyung—
—loving someone like Jeon Jeongguk.
Taehyung stands beside him, quiet as they stare at the large statue, left to their own thoughts. Jeongguk clutches Taehyung’s hand in his, gripping tight but loose enough to not bruise.
"Thank you," Jeongguk says, looking at the statue still, letting the silence consume him and letting the emotions bubble up from his stomach, from his heart, where his long suppressed feelings for Taehyung has hidden, but never forgotten. "I’ll take care of him." And Jeongguk isn’t talking to the statue now, he’s telling Taehyung’s parents that he’ll make their son happy, the happiest he can be— with Jeongguk and Taeguk.
Taehyung sniffs beside him and he turns to the other, smiling sheepishly.
"Shut up, Jeon," Taehyung grunts, pulls Jeongguk close by his side and lays his head on his shoulder. "Thank you too."
Jeongguk hums, lids closing minutely. "For what?"
Taehyung squeezes his hand. "For not giving up on me."
Jeongguk says, "Never."
And thinks, as if.
Planning takes a lot out of a person. Much more so arranging a date but Taehyung comes prepared. Oh, he did alright. Kind of.
He’s got experience in being some romantic little shit who surprises his boyfriend for an evening of romance, good food, and wine.
He doesn’t wine and dine Jeongguk, no. He brings Jeongguk back home, to Daegu, to his grandma.
She exclaims, "Oh boy! Look at him! What a gorgeous man, you have here, Taehyung."
Taehyung watches as a blush spreads throughout Jeongguk’s face, shy smile twitching on his plump lips. Taehyung loves him so, so, so much.
(He’s glad he stopped running.)
"I—" Jeongguk starts, looking at Taehyung’s grandma, at Taehyung himself then back to the old woman. "Thank you," He finishes, voice small, gratitude dripping off his voice.
"Psh," The woman waves a nonchalant hand. "None of that. Stay for dinner, will you?"
Taehyung tacks in, "Of course! I missed your home cooked meals, ‘ma."
"Sweet talker," She says as he pulls Taehyung into a hug. "Isn’t he, boy?" She directs the question to Jeongguk who nods immediately, agreeing because yeah, Taehyung is a sweet talker.
He talks and he’s sweet.
It’s a dinner that Taehyung will never forget.
Jeongguk gets the Spanish inquisition treatment from his siblings, both of them curious about the new man in Taehyung’s life. Jeongguk is great enough, answering with a patient smile on his face, nodding in between as they tell him a story of when Taehyung falls on a lake, or when he’s bawled his eyes out when he’s lost Sonshimmie while taking a walk only to find out that the dog has found his way home, earlier than Taehyung.
Taehyung sits there, embarrassed, yet not minding any of it at all.
He wants Jeongguk to know him, inside and out. His demons, his angels, the in between. He’s not going to run away from anything anymore, not going to keep on denying himself happiness, especially when it comes to Jeongguk.
This he believes; this he will follow to the grave.
The questioning continues until they ask, voice just a tad bit more curious than before, eyes wide in anticipation;
"Are you like Bogum-hyung?"
And Jeongguk looks at them with furrowed brows, confused then looks at Taehyung who pauses on his way to shoving a huge dollop of rice inside his mouth.
Taehyung puts his chopsticks down and sighs, looks at his siblings chidingly before he smiles at Jeongguk assuringly, "Bogum. I’ll—" Taehyung swallows then continues, "Tell you about him after dinner."
It’s a topic that Taehyung has hoped to avoid as long as he could. He doesn’t know if he’s ready yet but he also doesn’t want to hide this part of him from Jeongguk. He knows quite everything about the man, the media giving him all the information that he needs. And of course, Jimin and Yoongi. But— Taehyung is still reluctant in opening up, especially about Bogum whom he still holds dearly. He’s not in love with him anymore, doesn’t remotely love him one bit, but he will always remember him as someone who made Taehyung who he is right now.
Someone brave, someone cautious, someone who’s chasing for what he wants, someone who will see the bad in the good and the good in the bad.
Bogum has been a large part of Taehyung’s life and telling Jeongguk this is important, won’t be a walk in the park, not just a passing breeze but he thinks, as he glances at the man talking to his siblings and grandma with a constant smile on his face, it will be worth it.
The drive back to Seoul is long.
Three hours, give or take fifteen minutes but they fill it with casual chattering. They don’t breech the subject hanging in the air, the elephant in the room, the huge sign telling them to talk talk talk.
They talk but not quite the topic that’s needed to be talked about.
A fancy car that isn’t owned by both of them isn’t quite the perfect place for a serious conversation.
So they wait—
Until they arrive in front of Taehyung’s apartment.
Taehyung turns to Jeongguk but not before his eyes fleets to the front briefly; to stare at the windshield, at the blatant darkness encompassing the world, at the nothingness that the silence provides at almost midnight.
When he finally flicks his gaze to Jeongguk’s own, he finds the man watching him bluntly, emitting an aura of quiet impatient, the air full of questions, that has Taehyung sighing under his breath.
Taehyung says, "Let’s go inside?"
Jeongguk nods, smiles. "Yeah."
And once inside, Taehyung doesn’t beat around the bush. He doesn’t offer tea or coffee or me. He can do that later.
Taehyung cuts in to the chase and says, "Bogum was my first love."
He studies Jeongguk’s expression, hears him sucks in a deep breath before sauntering to the small couch pushed close to the far wall of his living room, facing the old television and wooden coffee table littered with papers; sketches of anything that has caught Taehyung’s attention.
"Okay," Jeongguk replies, finally seated.
Taehyung plops by his side, grabs one of his hands and wraps his own hands around Jeongguk’s own calloused one.
"Yeah," Taehyung continues. "We were together for five years before we—," He pauses, swallows. "Broke up."
Jeongguk, this time, covers Taehyung’s hands covering his own, rubs a thumb soothingly on his knuckles, urging him to continue as well as letting him know that it’s fine to stop, we can talk about this later.
Taehyung takes a deep breath.
"We were together for five years," He repeats. "Before we fell out of love."
He looks at Jeongguk to decipher his expression, sees him with sympathizing eyes and he smiles because it’s okay, it’s fine. People falls in love all the time. And people falls out of love all the time.
"Oh," Jeongguk breathes, covers Taehyung’s knuckle with his palms. Taehyung smiles softly at the gesture, feeling warmth wrap around his whole being, allowing him to continue despite the prickles of pain, of nostalgia rising up inside him at the mention of Bogum.
"Oh, is a good reaction," He jokes, nudging Jeongguk’s side lightly. "So, we fell out of love and that’s why I— I’ve avoided falling in love, you know? I know it’s cowardly but even when I wasn’t in love with him anymore, didn’t love him quite the same, it still hurt when we went our own ways. That’s why I," He halts, lays his head on Jeongguk’s shoulder and says, "That’s why I ran away from you. I didn’t want to fall in love with you. Was quite afraid to get too attached to Taeguk but I couldn’t help it. I’m only a human, Jeongguk. Despite telling myself to not fall, I fell and despite trying to not get too attached, I got more than too attached anyway."
He puffs out a breath after the words escapes him, heart beating so loudly, like the booming of drums against his ears, joined by a great bass that has his chest bumping wild. So wild.
Jeongguk is quiet for some time, doesn’t say anything and only moves to rest his head on top of Taehyung’s own that’s perched on his shoulder, one hand coming up to rub at Taehyung’s nape soothingly, like he knows the train of thoughts Taehyung’s mind is in right now.
They must be a sight, Taehyung thinks, lips quirking into a smile. But most probably a great sight.
Because even when he’s just spilled something so precious to him to Jeongguk, he doesn’t feel quite as sad as before nor as afraid. He only feels like the sky has been lifted off of his shoulders and he’s free from any burden that the world has dropped on him since he’s been born.
It’s a great feeling; a warm one, a content one.
Minutes passed and Taehyung doesn’t expect anything from Jeongguk, not even a peep. The other’s silent support is enough for him. As long as Jeongguk doesn’t leave, walk out of his life, tell him to go away, Taehyung is fine with this comfortable silence.
But Jeongguk does say something and Taehyung’s throat constricts, finds himself breathless at the words that graces his ears.
Jeongguk says with a firm hand settled on the back of Taehyung’s neck;
"Fall in love with me deeper, Tae. Get more attached to Taeguk. To me. I’ll be here, always. We’ll be your family. As long as you want me, I’ll stay. I’ll be in love with you; for eternity, forever. I don’t think that will ever change," Jeongguk says, a smile to his voice. "You’re my first love. My only love."
Taehyung bites his lower lip, overcome with emotion, with so much love he doesn’t know what to do with himself. So he wraps his arms around Jeongguk, hugs the man tightly and kisses him deeply.
He kisses him so deeply, smashing their lips together, teeth clacking painfully, nose bumping at the angle but in spite of the mishaps, the kiss still takes both of their breathes away; leaves them panting, breathless when they pull back and stare at each other, eyes dark, lips swollen and skin flushed red.
Taehyung rasps, "I love you."
Jeongguk grins, "And I love you."
"Nevermind, I don’t love you."
Jeongguk laughs, hovering over Taehyung as he tickles the other’s side, tanned skin bare, the expanse has Jeongguk swallowing spit, drool.
Taehyung is flawless.
He leans down and kisses the other’s shut eyelids, from the right to the left, trailing down to the tip of his nose, that adorable mole and to the faint freckles decorating his face. He plants small kisses on his flushed cheeks, smiling as Taehyung giggles when he presses his fingers on the other’s side, putting enough pressure to make him squirm in delight.
Lastly, he mouths at Taehyung’s lips, presses his own on the plump flesh a couple of times, pecking, just teasing before attaching more firmly, tongue swiping on his bottom lip, biting softly, nibbling slowly.
It’s a slow dance and Jeongguk hasn’t really prepared for this.
He actually feels so out of it; like he needs a manual on how to fuck, to do the deed, the birds and the bees, and all that shebang.
He’s done it before but with Taehyung smiling up at him, a hand laid on his cheek gently, his mind blanks, all knowledge wiped away from his brain and now he’s clueless like a fucking child.
Jeongguk weeps internally.
Taehyung, however, chuckles at his wide-eyed expression and pushes on his chest, equally as bare as Taehyung’s own.
"Lay down, Jeonggukkie," Taehyung says and Jeongguk follows.
He lays down on the bed, props his head on the pillow Taehyung has abandoned and waits for what’s going to happen next.
He’s not disappointed when Taehyung slides in between his legs, a mischievous grin painted on his beautiful face. Jeongguk sucks in a breath, clenches the sheets under his fingers as he stares back at Taehyung.
"Okay?" Taehyung whispers, leaning down and kissing the inside of his thigh. His legs quivers as he nods and Taehyung grins, continues to mouth at the skin.
Jeongguk bites his lower lip when Taehyung slides lower, meets the other’s gaze as he grasps his length in his hand, wrapping fingers around him experimentally.
Taehyung moves his hand and Jeongguk jerks, clenching his jaw at the feeling of Taehyung’s warm fingers on him, touching him so intimately. He actually almost chokes on his own spit when Taehyung continues to pump his length, relentless as he teases the tip, thumbing and spreading pre-cum on his crown.
He can’t quite say anything, just huffs out breaths of air, desire clouding his mind.
What he does say when he finally finds his voice is, "Tae." He repeats, "Tae."
Taehyung is biting his lower lip when Jeongguk looks down at him. He’s so close to his cock, breathing on it, just a few centimeters and he’ll be mouthing the tip. But Taehyung doesn’t, only continues to pump Jeongguk’s hard length, agonizingly slow, frustrating Jeongguk but at the same time sending him to a world of immense desire, intensifying when Taehyung bites the inside of his thigh, leaving a mark.
"Gukkie," Taehyung whispers, swipes his tongue up to his knees and looks up to him through his long eyelashes.
He looks so gorgeous, dark bangs swiped to the side, eyes wide, pupils darkened by want, cheeks flushed. Jeongguk wants to ruin him and he wants to be ruined by him.
He wants them to fall in the pit; simultaneously, with each other.
"Come here," Jeongguk mutters after inhaling, reaching out and cupping Taehyung’s cheek.
Taehyung pumps his cock one more time before scooting up, tangling his legs with Jeongguk’s own as he stretches his naked body on top, putting all his weight on the man beneath him.
Jeongguk doesn’t say anything, only cups Taehyung’s cheek and pulls him into a kiss, pecking his lips sweetly, fondly.
"Up, Tae," Jeongguk says.
Taehyung furrows his brows but moves up anyway, straddles Jeongguk’s chest, feeling quite exposed but trusts the other enough to bare all of him to Jeongguk. Jeongguk feels honored by the fact that he gets to see Taehyung bare like this, vulnerable as he is, skin to skin, warm flesh to warm flesh.
He puts his fingers on Taehyung’s thighs and rubs soothing circles there before trailing up, grasps Taehyung’s half-hard member and pumps it slowly. He looks up at the expression on the other’s face and memorizes the flutter of his eyelashes, meeting his cheeks; the way he bites his lower lip as Jeongguk scrapes his finger down the prominent vein on the side of his cock; the way his throat constricts as his breath hitches when Jeongguk fastens his pace, making his thighs quiver and close in on the sides of the younger’s waist.
"Gukk," Taehyung groans, splaying his fingers on Jeongguk’s chest. "More."
Instead of doing more, Jeongguk retracts his hand from Taehyung’s body, prompting Taehyung to look down at him with a deep frown, nails digging on his pectorals in threat.
He grins at the older and says, "Turn around, love."
Taehyung tilts his head, doesn’t move. "Why."
Jeongguk rolls his eyes and slaps his thighs, chiding, "Just do it."
"Fine," Taehyung huffs, turns around, still straddling Jeongguk’s chest.
And before he can settle down, wriggle his hips a little to tease the other, Jeongguk is suddenly pulling him up, closer to his face— to his—
Jeongguk laughs against the flesh of Taehyung’s ass cheek when the other moans loudly at his actions. He nibbles on the other’s cheek again before planting a soft kiss on the spot.
"Jeongguk," Taehyung grunts, lays his forehead near Jeongguk’s navel. "What the fuck are you doing?"
Jeongguk runs his hands down from the small of Taehyung’s back, where the twin dimples lays, to his tanned thighs that shakes as Jeongguk’s hands passes, down to the back of his knees, bent as he tries not to crush Jeongguk with his weight.
"Nothing," Jeongguk replies, cheeky. "Just admiring— Art."
Taehyung snorts, presses a kiss on Jeongguk’s stomach. "Where the fuck did you learn that?"
"Oh," Jeongguk starts, humor in his voice as he spreads Taehyung’s ass cheeks. Taehyung squirms, nervous. He knows he’s clean, even showered before but still. "From this monster who told me what the definition of real Art is."
"Really," Taehyung breathes out. Jeongguk swipes his tongue closer to his rim, teasing, letting Taehyung stew in the anticipation. "Was it— useful."
Jeongguk hums. "Yeah," He says, splays his fingers on the sun-kissed flesh of Taehyung’s thighs.
Taehyung then groans, huffs, "Please, don’t talk about Taeguk right now. My boner is going to go away."
A series of loud laughs escapes from Jeongguk’s lips before decides that he’s teased Taehyung enough, licks a stripe from Taehyung’s balls up to his hole, eliciting a strangled moan from the older.
He holds Taehyung’s hips firmly in place, feeling the quiver of the other’s thighs against his sides as he tongues on the rim, pressing just a little. He spreads his cheeks wider, licks slow, deliberate, like he’s dragging out the action which he is— just because he can and Taehyung’s moans that’s gradually getting louder is music to his ears, something that he wants to record and maybe listen to all the fucking time; set it as his ringtone or something like that but he won’t because— the real thing is better.
Swirling the tip of his tongue around the rim, Jeongguk pulls Taehyung’s hips closer to his face. Taehyung in retaliation, coming out of his surprise at Jeongguk’s sudden actions, drags his tongue down Jeongguk’s length then comes up and sucks on the tip, flattening his tongue as the taste of pre-cum bursts on his tongue.
Jeongguk muffles a moan on Taehyung’s ass, clenching a bit of flesh in between his teeth before he takes in a deep breath.
"Tae," Jeongguk calls out, breathy. Taehyung hums around the tip of his cock. Fuck. "Fine," He huffs because as it is, he won’t lose— whatever that means.
So he doubles his effort and goes back to licking around Taehyung’s hole for a few times before sliding his tongue inside, just the tip. Taehyung jolts as Jeongguk rubs a thumb on the puckering flesh, almost knocking Jeongguk’s head with his feet. He laughs, tilting his head to the side and slaps Taehyung’s thigh lightly, getting the other’s attention.
"Fuck," Taehyung says after he pulls from tonguing Jeongguk’s cock. "Can you just—" His breath shakes as Jeongguk flicks his tongue against his hole once again. "—make me come."
Jeongguk sighs, dramatic. Gone is the uncertain kid who doesn’t know what to do. Jeongguk wonders where that one has gone to but he doesn’t think too much of it, not important.
"Fine," Jeongguk relents.
With that, he spits on his hand generously and takes Taehyung’s dripping cock, covering it with spit before pumping slowly and with his other, spreads an ass cheek and continues to swirl his tongue around Taehyung’s hole. And, following Jeongguk’s actions, Taehyung continues to bob his head on Jeongguk’s cock, hollowing his cheeks and taking as much, swirling his tongue around the length as he pumps the base.
Jeongguk groans, moves his hands faster around Taehyung’s member as he feels his stomach tighten, the desire running through his veins consuming him while Taehyung pulls back and copies his actions, just pumping his cock with his long fingers, using spit for lubrication to bring Jeongguk to his orgasm.
It’s been a while, Jeongguk tells himself, when the built up gets too much and his hold on Taehyung gets tighter, hand moving faster, up and down the length on his grasp. He mouths at Taehyung’s ass cheek to muffle his moans, groaning in delight when Taehyung swallows him again, tight heat wrapping around his cock.
He lets go of Taehyung’s cock then, and holds the other’s hips in a bruising manner, pads of his fingers digging on Taehyung’s golden skin. He bucks his hips on Taehyung’s mouth, feels Taehyung’s throat constrict and with a last pump of Taehyung’s finger, Jeongguk smashes his head on the pillow under him, jaw clenching, eyes shutting tightly, mouth slackening, a drawn out moan escaping from him as he comes in Taehyung’s mouth.
He basks on it until he feels oversensitive, Taehyung still milking him, bobbing his head, gyrating his hips on Jeongguk’s chest, looking for his own release.
When he finally get’s a hold of his limbs, Jeongguk pulls Taehyung’s ass closer to his face once again, shoves his tongue on the twitching hole and pumps Taehyung’s hard cock dripping pre-come on his stomach.
He licks on Taehyung’s rim, feels the other’s nail dig on his thighs as he sucks, thumbs on his cock and before he knows it, Taehyung’s body stills, there’s a pain on his thighs from Taehyung’s harsh bite and his hand is painted white.
Taehyung comes so beautiful, golden skin covered in sweat, body tense before slackening, shaking at the force of his orgasm.
"Come, babe," Jeongguk pulls Taehyung to him, turns the other’s body with difficulty because Taehyung refuses to cooperate, just wants to lay where he is but Jeongguk wants to hold him properly, around his arms, face smashed on his chest.
"Damn," Taehyung chuckles, smacks his lips before licking them. "That was good."
Jeongguk looks at him, leans his forehead against his and presses a deep kiss on his swollen red lips, tasting his own come on Taehyung’s tongue.
"Yeah," Jeongguk agrees. "It was."
Taehyung then grins, playful. "Let’s do that again."
Jeongguk laughs, deep, warm, "Sure, love."
"But I’ll get to eat your ass," Taehyung adds.
"Pfft," Jeongguk snorts, nods, agrees because of course. "Whatever you want, babe."
"Fuck you too?" Taehyung bats his eyelashes, his bangs plastered to his forehead, messy, yet he looks just as gorgeous as earlier.
Jeongguk hums, pulls Taehyung closer to him. "Of course."
As Jeongguk drifts of to sleep, listening to Taehyung’s steady breaths fanning on the crook of his neck, Jeongguk grins, thinks of where they began and look, look where they are now.
Millionaire Matchmaker isn’t as shitty a show as it’s said to be, after all.
It is... a good morning.
Taehyung groans as he stretches before opening his eyes slowly, taking in the dark room. He blinks a couple of times, disoriented after such a long sleep.
Looking to the side, he finds no one with him and normally, Taeguk is there, sleeping beside him with the lion plush hugged close to her but this time, he’s alone, the sheets bunched and when he stretches an arm to the space, finds it still quite warm. Meaning, not a long time has passed when one of them, either Jeongguk or Taeguk has left the bed.
He takes the pillow from he other side of the bed and buries his face on it, a wide smile spreading across his face. Because— it’s so domestic. It’s the family he’s always wanted and a love that he’s always looked for.
Taehyung wants to scream but instead he punches the pillow, feels like a teenager in love when he’s already in his late twenties, yet that doesn’t stop him from doing cheesy things like draw on the blank span of skin on Jeongguk’s body, or jumping on the other as he makes dinner, followed by Taeguk hanging off his legs.
Taehyung is so happy.
He doesn’t want this to end.
After doing all his bathroom business; splashing cold water on his face to wake him up and brushing his teeth thoroughly, Taehyung finally emerges from the bedroom.
He heads to the kitchen and there he finds Jeongguk and Taeguk, giggling to themselves as they make a mess, flour on their faces and a plate stacked with pancakes on the kitchen counter. He looks at them, beyond amused by the two children he’s learned to deeply love.
"What’s going on?"
Taeguk beams at him and says, "We’re making pancakes, oppa."
Taehyung smiles at her, walks closer and wipes the flour from the tip of her nose before he plants a kiss on it.
"I see that, angel. But why are you two covered in flour, hm?" He cocks a questioning brow at Jeongguk who manages to look bashful and embarrassed at the same time.
Jeongguk then offers a sheepish smile, rubbing the back of his neck as his bunny teeth peeks from between his lips, making him look younger. His hair is covered with flour, so as his left cheek, looking like an imprint of Taeguk’s little hand.
Taehyung can’t help but giggle as Jeongguk says, "Uh, Taeguk wanted to get the flour from the cabinet so I lifted her up to get it but it slipped from her hands and fell on us?"
Imagining the scenario in his head, Taehyung finally lets out a guffaw, startling the father and daughter duo who looks at him fondly, smiles on their faces.
"Oh my god," Taehyung wheezes. "You two are unbelievable."
Taeguk giggles and reaches out for Taehyung to lift her off the counter, which Taehyung does, ignoring the flour sticking to him as she nuzzles her cheek on his before saying,
"It was fun, oppa! Daddy screamed loudly and almost dropped me!"
Taehyung then turns to Jeongguk who raises his arms, palms up like he’s telling Taehyung not guilty. no receipts.
"In my defense, I was surprised."
Taehyung snorts, "Right."
Jeongguk pouts, "I was. Tell her, monster. Daddy was surprised, right?"
Taeguk plays with Taehyung’s dark hair, nodding her head as she says, "He was, oppa. Don’t blame daddy."
With a sigh, Taehyung relents, steps closer to Jeongguk and gives him an eskimo kiss.
"It’s fine, babe. I was just kidding," He says, grinning. "We’ll clean later. For now, I’m hungry."
"Then take a seat, my babies. I’ll serve the homemade pancakes with maple syrup, right away."
"Chocolate too?" Taehyung and Taeguk says at the same time while giving Jeongguk similar pleading puppy eyes.
Jeongguk sighs, nods, and retrieves the chocolate syrup along with the maple one from the cabinet.
"Mhm! Thanks, daddy!"
Relationships aren’t as easy as one two three; Jeongguk discovers.
It takes a lot to keep a relationship going, especially when both has their own lives, has different kinds of job and time is a problem, a social construct that keeps them from meeting more than three times a week.
However, Jeongguk and Taehyung makes it work.
Taehyung moves in with Jeongguk after a few months of dating, finding no reason not to when moving in together is more helpful to their relationship than living in different houses. With this decision, Taeguk has been ecstatic, dancing around the living as she sings tae-oppa is moving, moving. tae-oppa is, is moving.
Initially, Taehyung has said, "I’m not living with you here in the city, just so you know."
Jeongguk only smiles and shrugs his shoulders, says, "That’s fine. I’ll live with you in Daegu."
Taehyung beams at him, hugs Jeongguk closer and pepper his face with countless of kisses, prompting Jeongguk to let out a couple of giggles.
"What about angel?"
Jeongguk grins at Taehyung. "She says she’ll follow you wherever you go."
Taehyung laughs and, softly, voice breathy, heartfelt with so much emotion, says, "I love you two so much."
"We love you too," Jeongguk replies and pecks Taehyung’s lips.
Despite the words, Taehyung still ends up moving in with them and Jeongguk and Taeguk has never been happier before.
Taehyung surprises them with, "‘ma said I should stay here and find a job."
"Oh," Jeongguk breathes out and rubs Taehyung’s back soothingly. "What about farming?"
"She forbids me to do so," Taehyung makes a face, like the thought alone leaves a bitter taste on his tongue. "Said if she sees me back there this year except for Christmas, she’s disowning my ass."
A burst of laughter escapes Jeongguk because he can totally picture it; the way Taehyung’s grandma has threatened the boy, spatula in hand and a hip cocked to the side. It’s amusing.
"So?" Jeongguk bites his lower lip after his laughter dies down, anticipation killing him.
Taehyung quirks one corner of his lips into a sly smile, keeping mum for a few more seconds before saying, "So," He pauses. "I need a place to stay since the contract for my apartment is ending soon."
Jeongguk feels his lips spread into a wide smile, eyes crinkling into crescents, almost disappearing at the force of his grin.
"Move in with me," Jeongguk says. "Come live with me and Taeguk."
Taehyung bumps his forehead against Jeongguk’s own, nods, and says, "Duh. Of course. Even if you didn’t ask, I’d still barge in."
"Good," Jeongguk presses a kiss on Taehyung’s lips. "Amazing."
Moving in together is also tricky because Taehyung is an artist who’s a slave to his talents, to his art, his passion.
He doesn’t sleep often, makes Jeongguk force him to get a shut-eye and prompts Taeguk to drag him out of the guest room turned studio for him.
They make this work too.
They make everything work.
From Taeguk blurting out one day, "Papa!"
( In which the both of them looks at each other, shocked then looks around, wondering if Taeguk is seeing some kind of ghost.
"Papa?" Jeongguk asks, concerned.
Taeguk grins at them, wearing a superman costume because apparently, she wants to save the world too.
"Yepp," She nods. "Papa. Tae-oppa. Papa."
Taehyung chokes, surprised, overwhelmed with emotions, eyes prickling in the corners as the realization hits him.
He quickly gathers Taeguk in his arms, muttering, "I love you, I love you, I love you."
Jeongguk watches them, takes a picture and makes that his phone wallpaper. )
To when Taeguk asks about having two daddies.
( "Is it weird to have to daddies?"
Jeongguk frowns, furrows his brows. "No. Why, monster?"
Taeguk shrugs, combs the hair of her barbie as she lays on the couch, head on Jeongguk’s lap.
"My friend says it’s not normal to have two daddies."
Jeongguk seethes quietly, doesn’t let opinions of judgmental people consume him before he says, "No, Taeguk. It’s not weird to have two daddies. You have Papa and I, don’t you? Do you think it’s weird?"
Taeguk shakes her head, looks up at Jeongguk and smiles, "No. I love papa and you."
"See?" Jeongguk breathes out a sigh. "Nothing weird. Tell them it’s not weird."
"Okay," Taeguk nods, appeased. "I will." )
And when Jeongguk grandly fucks up his proposal.
( "Tae," Jeongguk says as he goes down on one knee.
Taehyung blinks at him, looks around the living room, gulps audibly and replies, "Yes?"
Jeongguk is, admittedly, so fucking nervous. He’s never proposed to anyone before. Taehyung is his first everything when it comes to love and he’s— glad for that but the anxiety pumping through his veins right now isn’t really helping his nerves.
He’s a mess, so to say.
He gulps, gathers the guts to ask; he breathes in and before losing the words swimming in his mind, the perfect question, rushes out,
"Taehyung, will marry me."
There’s a pause—
And Taehyung laughs loudly, wheezing as he bends over, laughter echoing throughout the whole living room and Jeongguk blushes so deep, he wishes for the floor to swallow him whole.
"Holy shit," Taehyung chokes out, laughter in his voice. "Really now."
Jeongguk flushes deeper, mutters, "I was nervous."
Taehyung forces himself to calm down and drags Jeongguk up, wraps his arms around the younger’s neck and says, "I mean, of course I’ll marry you but way to state it that confidently."
"Ugh," Jeongguk groans, buries his face on Taehyung’s neck and says, "It’s just— I was so nervous. I didn’t know if you’ll say yes or no. I love you. I’m still so very in love with you and it consumes me everyday. Taehyung," He whispers, still against Taehyung’s neck. "I see you everyday but I never get tired of your face. I hear you laugh and— and all I want to do is sit there and listen. Taeguk and you— you two are my everything."
Taehyung brushes the hair on the back of Jeongguk’s neck, thumb pressing on the flesh as he listens, nods.
"Yeah," He says, replies. "I’m very fucking much in love with you too. I’ll be here. And, Jeonggukie," Taehyung forces Jeongguk to look at him, cupping his cheeks in both of his hands. "Yes, I’ll marry you."
Jeongguk whoops, shouts loudly before pulling Taehyung into a bone crushing hug.
"Fuck yes." )
They make everything work.
And— well, it’s not like there has not been any bumps in the road.
Of course, there has been but they conquered them together.
Like best friends do. Like lovers do.
Like forevers do.
Jeongguk laughs and shakes his head as he hears feet running against the floor, stampeding like elephants on loose, one from an adult and one from a child. His heart skips a beat when two pairs of large doe eyes trains on him, expectation on both gazes.
"Holy shit—ttake mushroom," Jeongguk chokes out in between laughs. "This is going to be my life from now on. Wow."
Taehyung eyes Jeongguk curiously, a brow cocking in question. "What are you talking about, babe?"
Jeongguk grins at him. "You’re both Tae."
Taehyung blinks and tilts his head. Taeguk looks up at Jeongguk then at Taehyung before copying the oldest, tilting her head too.
"Your point is?" Taehyung asks as Taeguk pretends to understand, nodding her head.
Jeongguk watches the both of them. They’re so endearing, adorable in ways that Jeongguk can’t explain and he can’t believe he’s got them in his life.
Taehyung is a blessing to Jeongguk. He understands the bouts of frustrations when Jeongguk is stressed about job. He tells Jeongguk that it’s fine, gukkie. you’re amazing when he starts doubting himself, starts questioning his capabilities. Taehyung’s always there when Jeongguk needs a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen to his problems. What’s Jeongguk without Taehyung? He doesn’t want to know.
And Taeguk— Taeguk is Jeongguk and Taehyung’s little spoiled princess who still sleeps between them most nights. He doesn’t mind, to be honest. He loves his baby girl and he can see bits and pieces of him on her; the way she wrinkles her nose in distaste when something she doesn’t like graces her line of sight; the way she’s just so stubborn, stomping her little feet on the ground when Taehyung tells her that no, monster, Papa can't take a break right now because she knows Taehyung is tired from trying to finish a painting and she misses him; she’s every bit of Jeongguk and now Taehyung’s too—
—and Jeongguk loves both of them so much. Holy shit.
"I love you, Tae," Jeongguk says, knowing that both of them will reply in different ways.
Taehyung’s cheeks rises in a blush as he rolls his eyes and says, "Sap."
Taeguk on the other hand, runs to Jeongguk and hugs his legs, screaming, "I love you too daddy! And papa! I love daddy and papa!"
It’s a good day. A good life.
A great love.