It’s Taehyung’s idea to bike along the Han River. He drags Jimin into it in typical Taehyung fashion, catching him by the wrist just as Jimin walks into the dorm, exhausted from an extended dance practice. Jeongguk and Hoseok are still at the studio, but Songdeuk-seonsaengnim had sent him home after thirty minutes of mistake after mistake; there’s too much going on in his head right now to concentrate on the choreography, and seeing Taehyung’s wide, imploring eyes just makes the cacophony in Jimin’s head swell.
“Come with me to the river,” Taehyung says.
“I’m tired from practice,” Jimin hedges, twisting his fingers in the strap of his duffel bag, even though they both know Jimin is going to relent eventually. With Taehyung and Jimin, it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.”
“I’ll bike,” Taehyung insists. “All you’ll have to do is sit there.” There’s a hopeful little quirk to Taehyung’s mouth, similar to the way Taehyung had smiled at him when Jimin first came to live with the rest of them in this tiny dorm in the middle of Seoul, too many miles away from home; Jimin had been wretchedly lonely and quiet, terribly aware of the way his words sounded too rough and out of place in the midst of Seoul standard. In a way, Taehyung and his warm smile had saved him.
It’s this shared history—and something else too that Jimin doesn’t want to name—that makes Jimin’s resolve crumble away, and Jimin sighs. Taehyung’s grin stretches from ear to ear.
They rent a bike from one of the tourist rental shops along the river; neither of them are from Seoul, and it’s not like it’s cheap or easy to take a bike all the way up the country, let alone keep it in a dorm that houses nine boys. Pocket money is tight for trainees, so Jimin offers up half of his meager allowance this week so they can rent a single bike for two hours.
It’s not quite summer yet, even if the weather seems to think otherwise, and almost near sunset, so they have the pick of the lot for bikes. Taehyung picks a red one with a wide basket in front and a sizable shelf in the back—”for your sizable ass—ouch, why’d you hit me?”—and spends a few minutes tweaking the height of his seat. Jimin watches and complains about how long he’s taking, his satoori peeking through, and Taehyung fires back that he’s going through a growth spurt, something that Jimin wouldn’t anything about, huh. It’s normal, easy. Jimin scowls and makes to grab at him, but Taehyung dodges, laughing, and starts cycling away, forcing Jimin to shout and run after him.
“You brat,” Jimin hisses through clenched teeth once he’s hooked his fingers into the back of Taehyung’s bike, digging his feet into the bike path to slow him down. The backs of his thighs protest, but Taehyung does slow down, stopping on the side of the bike path. Thankfully, not too many people are cycling right now, though a couple of bikers swerve around them and admonish them for being careless. “What happened to ‘I’ll bike, all you have to do is sit there’?”
“Sorry, sorry,” Taehyung says from the seat, not sounding sorry at all. “Come on, hop on.”
“No, I don’t want to play with you anymore,” Jimin complains plaintively, but they both know it’s just a farce. Taehyung’s grin is mischievous and sheepish simultaneously, a dangerous combination of charm and mischief that’s gotten the two of them equal parts into trouble and out of it, and Jimin grumbles the entire time he hops, side-saddle, onto the back, his hand shyly gripping onto the waist of Taehyung’s shirt for balance. Taehyung’s body is too close, too warm in the late afternoon sun.
“Dude, you’re going to fall off if you hold it like that,” Taehyung says, shifting so that he can balance the bike upright with one foot on the pedal.
“Shut up and bike,” Jimin says, but he grips a little tighter as Taehyung kicks off.
It takes a few hundred yards of squabbling and yelling for Jimin to find the right position to put his feet and his hands so he feels somewhat stable, but after that, the trip smoothes out, and both of them quiet down. Jimin ends up with his hands tucked neatly in by his thighs, his legs pushed out just a little to avoid catching his feet on the wheel. There’s something digging into Jimin’s ass something fierce, but Jimin doesn’t mind it so much when they make their way out of the park areas out to the riverside, and then it’s just the two of them, the lush windswept grass by the river bank, and the river. The entire Seoul skyline is orange and beautiful, the sun glittering off the river. The fresh breeze off the river gets stronger as the path dips, and Jimin feels Taehyung stop pedalling to take advantage of the hill.
“How’re you holding up back there?” Taehyung asks, his words whipped back by the wind. “Still with me?”
Jimin leans slightly against Taehyung; if anyone asks, it’s the downward slope of the hill that pushes Jimin into him, but it doesn’t explain why Jimin still rests his temple against the expanse of Taehyung’s back when the path flattens out again. With one ear resting on Taehyung’s back, Jimin can hear the dependable thump thump of Taehyung’s heart, beating out a familiar rhythm. It’s one Jimin’s heard every day since coming to Seoul, since Taehyung had smiled at him that first day, and Jimin’s not sure if he’ll ever be able to listen to it without associating it with Seoul itself, and all the memories Jimin’s made here. Despite the awkwardness between them for the past week, Jimin doesn’t think he’d trade this moment—being here with Taehyung, watching the world slowly spin—for anything.
“Still with you,” Jimin says with his eyes fixed on the river, one ear listening for Taehyung’s heart. He hears it speed up, just slightly, as Taehyung starts to pedal again.