The air is chilly when Jungkook wakes up. The tent’s material is orange and casts softly tinted morning light over the interior. Jungkook shakes his head free of his sleeping bag and blearily looks about. Taehyung’s sleeping bag is empty. Jungkook stares at it, squinting, then finds his beanie and some sandals to slip on, tugs a hoodie over his head, and crawls outside. The sun is struggling over the lip of the horizon, painting their campsite in gold. Jungkook rubs at his eyes and trudges past the other tent. Jimin managed to get a six person tent off of a friend or something - Jungkook’s not sure what the story is, but the rest of his hyungs are all crammed into the ugly green thing, snoring away.
There’s dew on the grass, which licks at the ankles of Jungkook’s sweatpants. He shivers, glad he’s in socks, and buries his hands in his hoodie pocket and starts towards the lake. The sun is shining off its surface too brightly but Jungkook can see the small pier, and he can see Taehyung’s silhouette.
Taehyung hears his approach the moment Jungkook steps onto the wooden pier, and he turns to look. He smiles. He looks too bright for such an early hour. “Jungkookie.”
“Hey, hyung.” Jungkook slowly folds his legs beneath him and sits next to Taehyung. Taehyung is sitting on his hands to keep them warm. His feet dangle just above the water’s surface. Jungkook tilts his head to rest on Taehyung’s shoulder and closes his eyes. “Sleep all right?”
“Yeah.” Taehyung shifts a bit then finds Jungkook’s hand inside his pocket. He links their fingers awkwardly. “You?”
Jungkook hums sleepily. The more the sun rises, the more warmth it brings. “Why’re you up so early?”
He feels Taehyung shrug. “Sunrise is pretty.”
“Yeah,” Taehyung says quietly, and Jungkook opens his eyes and twists his head to look. All of Taehyung is golden, right down to the tips of his lashes. There’s a great glowing disc reflected in both eyes.
Jungkook smiles a little and closes his eyes again. “You’re weird, hyung.”
Taehyung chuckles lowly but doesn’t comment. Jungkook blinks his eyes open and watches the sun climb higher and higher, turning the reflective mirror of the lake so bright he has to squint. They stay where they are, seated together, keeping warming in oversized hoodies and woollen beanies, for a good while. Jungkook can feel every deep inhale and exhale Taehyung takes - Taehyung, who is oddly calm and quiet, and Jungkook wants to know what he’s thinking, but he’s so content right now and - Jungkook doesn’t realise he’s nodded off on Taehyung’s shoulder until Taehyung is shaking him awake because the others are up and Yoongi is calling them for breakfast.
Jungkook rubs at his left eye and stares across the lake. The wind stirs it and a trio of ducks waddle in from the far side. Jungkook’s fingers are still linked with Taehyung’s, so he squeezes them and steals another look at crisp-morning dewy-grass bright-eyed Taehyung before he gets them both to their feet. Taehyung falls into step behind him, eyes closed, face tilted towards the sun. Jungkook bows his head and shrugs further into his hoodie, until the collar comes up over his mouth, and he smiles.
That night is their last night, and they go out in style. Jimin damn near shrieks and he and Hoseok wrench Yoongi back when it looks like he’s just about ready to throw himself into the fire because “Jesus fucking Christ you and Seokjin hyung are gonna make me puke, god fucking dammit Namjoon.”
Seokjin laughs and burrows further into Namjoon’s side, sleeves pulled down over his hands as he tries to keep warm in the cool night air.
The stars are bright above and the long grass looks yellow in the light of the fire. Jungkook moves his bottle of beer to his other hand and shakes his fingers, flinging condensation into the air. He’s going to have to drink faster. The fire is making his beer too warm and it’s hard to swallow. Hoseok plops down into the vacant chair next to Jungkook, pulls the blanket on it over his knees, knocks the neck of his beer to Jungkook’s, and drinks.
“Got it,” Taehyung calls. Seconds later, music fills the air. Taehyung holds his phone up triumphantly, careful not to pull the aux cable free, then rests his phone on the speakers and steps into the light of the fire. He holds his beer above his head and closes his eyes and starts to dance to the music.
Jungkook sinks lower into his chair and tilts his head as he watches. Taehyung is the inverse of this morning - a silhouette of light on a backdrop of darkness. He’s hypnotising to watch and Jungkook feels warmth growing in his chest and spreading to the ends of his fingers. Hoseok’s hand is on the nape of his neck, giving him an affectionate squeeze, before he’s up, swaying with Taehyung.
Taehyung grins, eyes meeting Jungkook’s for a brief moment - Jungkook holds his gaze, unashamedly staring back - before they lift to the sky and close again. Jungkook grins and turns his attention to his beer, focused on peeling the label off. Jimin makes an offhand comment and Yoongi says something sarcastic and everyone’s laughter rings into the night air.
Taehyung doesn’t reply for a while. It’s sometime past one and the night had gotten cold, fast. They’re both wrapped up as much as they were at the lake, but that hadn’t been enough. So after some rearranging, they’re coupled under blankets and sleeping bags, sharing body heat. The warmth and the beer makes it hard for Jungkook to stay awake.
Taehyung nuzzles his nose against Jungkook’s. “Hey, Jungkookie.”
Jungkook wriggles closer and finds Taehyung’s hand under the mess of covers. “Yeah, hyung?”
“Do you - “ Taehyung cuts off and tilts his head. It puts their foreheads together but Jungkook has a funny feeling that Taehyung is trying to avoid his gaze, even in the darkness.
“Nothing,” Taehyung whispers. He lifts his head and nuzzles his nose against Jungkook’s again. It makes Jungkook’s drunken head spin and he pulls himself even closer to Taehyung, propping his weight up against him. Taehyung lets him, even gives him space for Jungkook to slot his head under Taehyung’s chin and bury into the warmth at his neck. “Go to sleep, Kookie.”
Jungkook hums and closes his eyes. “Night, hyung.”
Taehyung exhales quietly and his arm comes to rest on Jungkook’s waist. “Night, Kookie.”
It gets too hot and Jungkook rolls away and gets out of his beanie and hoodie and even manages to get his socks off without having to use his hands. But then four o’clock rolls around and it’s cold again, and the boys, sleepy and unaware, bring themselves closer again. Taehyung finds Jungkook first, and Jungkook automatically makes space for Taehyung at his side. And when Jungkook rolls over, seeking more warmth, Taehyung closes himself around Jungkook to hold Jungkook to him. Jungkook isn’t really accustomed with being the small one, it’s always Taehyung burrowing into chests for hugs, but he doesn’t mind it so much. Taehyung’s lips brush over Jungkook’s cheek and Jungkook is lulled to sleep again.
Life goes back to normal two days later with the start of second semester. Jungkook sits in his lecture hall, grateful that the weather is relatively warm again, but questioning as to why he bothered coming to the first week lecture. He leans back in his seat, bag on the floor, phone in his lap, ankle balanced on his knee. There’s no notes worth taking - and if there are, they’re online. He bounces his foot in the air, one of Yoongi’s beats on loop in his head.
His phone vibrates in his lap.
Jungkookie you nerd you on campus?
Cheers hyung. Yeah I’m in a lecture now
A first week lecture…?
Jeon Jungkook get your ass out of there
Come meet me
Wait why are you on campus?
Jungkook is already scooping up his bag and headed for the nearest exit as he sends the reply. He’s slipping his sunnies onto his face and stepping out into the quad when Taehyung’s reply comes.
Was picking up my textbooks. What building you at?
Outside D Block
Meet me at the candy shop?
Jungkook rolls his eyes and starts making his way across campus.
Yeah sure hyung
Jungkook sits up on the counter and Yoongi stands behind it. They watch silently as Taehyung goes about, opening lids and scooping out candy and cramming it into a white paper bag. When it’s too full to fit anymore, he brings it to the bench and balances it against Jungkook’s thigh - then goes to start his second bag.
“Still can’t believe you’re working here,” Jungkook says.
Yoongi sighs. “Shove it, kid.”
“But the irony, man.”
“Yeah. I’ve been told.”
Jungkook grins and starts to eat out of the candy packet. He picks out the sour ones - Taehyung is a fan of sour candies until he’s about three candies in, and then he leaves them for Jungkook because he knows they’re Jungkook’s favourite (not because he’s a baby who can’t handle them).
“Taehyung tell you about his beach idea?” Yoongi asks. He drags the candy towards him and starts picking his way through it.
“He wants to go to Gangneung.”
“Gangneung?” Jungkook searches for Taehyung and shrugs. He finds him standing by the international candies. Sunlights streams in through the window to paint his profile in light. “Yeah I guess I’m keen.” He sits up a little straighter. “Oi, Tae, hurry up. I’m hungry and you pulled me out of class.”
Yoongi snorts and looks up at Jungkook. “You fucking went to class, you nerd?”
“Jungkookie’s a good student,” Taehyung murmurs as he comes around the corner, attention on his bag of candy as he peers into it. “Leave him be.”
“Whatever.” Yoongi holds his hand out for the second bag then weighs them up in his palms. “Here,” he says, handing the second one back to Taehyung. “This one feels heavier. I’ll charge you for the lighter one.”
Taehyung holds out a sour snake for Jungkook to eat and smiles at Yoongi. “Thanks, hyung.”
Yoongi rubs the back of his head and punches the numbers in. “Whatever, kid, just pay up.”
Taehyung carries his bag of textbooks in one hand and his bag of candy in the other as they leave campus and head for some lunch. Jungkook catches Taehyung staring between the two quizzically and eventually asks.
“What’s up, hyung?”
“Nothing,” Taehyung says, but it sounds like a question. “Just - “
Taehyung holds the bag of candy up to the sky and tries to peer through the white paper bag. “Nothing… It’s nothing, Jungkookie.”
They catch the bus to Gangneung - and are sorely disappointed.
“What do you mean we’ve missed the swimming season by a week?” Taehyung whines. He crouches in front of the banner and pouts at it.
Seokjin sighs and looks up from where he had searched it on his phone. He ruffles Taehyung’s hair. “Sorry, Taehyungie.”
Taehyung sighs. “It’s ok, hyung…”
They attempt to swim anyway. It becomes a game for just about everyone on the beach who is as disappointed and as stubborn as they are. The lifeguards race up and down the beach on their quad bikes, telling people to get out of the water. And the boys are obedient - until the lifeguards are out of view and they run back in. The swell is a bit violent - the bit of swell that they do get that Japan doesn’t block - and there’s a shelf that’s deceiving as fuck that Jimin and Hoseok had been the first to find the hard way, and so maybe they can understand why they keep getting kicked out.
“Typhoon season starts soon too,” Namjoon reminds them as they all collapse onto their towels. “In like two weeks or something.”
Jungkook slips his sunnies on and closes his eyes. Taehyung’s mop of wet hair is a shock on his stomach but Jungkook let’s him settle and get comfortable.
“At least we got to go in,” Taehyung says, and when Jungkook opens his eyes to look, Taehyung is holding his hand up and trying to block out the sun. “So it wasn’t all bad. You guys wanna get naengmyeon after this?” There’s a round of agreement and Taehyung drops his hand, grinning. “Good.”
They pass out on the bus ride home. Taehyung sleeps with his cheek on Jungkook’s shoulder and Jungkook sleeps with his cheek on Taehyung’s head. Taehyung tangles their fingers and all Jungkook can smell is the sea salt clinging to Taehyung’s hair. Seokjin wakes them when they get to Seoul, and they trudge after the others, sleepy and disorientated, fingers still interlaced. Taehyung trails behind Jungkook, rubbing at his eye, and Jungkook gently tugs when he feels Taehyung moving too slow.
“Hey, hyung.” Jungkook holds his phone between his ear and shoulder and hands over the cash, then scoops up his plastic bag.
“Have you finished classes?”
“I was supposed to meet Taehyung to give him some notes from some guy who did the same units as him last semester, but he didn’t show,” Hoseok says. “Can you get them and take them to him? I’ve got class in 10.”
Jungkook shoulders the door open, strings the plastic bag over his wrist, and slips his sunnies on. “Yeah, sure. Where are you? I’ll head your way now.”
Taehyung lives with Jimin in an apartment a 15 minute subway ride from campus. Jungkook punches in the code for the door and lets himself in.
“Hyung?” he calls, kicking off his shoes.
There’s movement in the direction of the bedrooms and then Taehyung appears. “Jungkook.”
“Hey, hyung…” Jungkook frowns. He holds up the notes from Hoseok. “Hoseok asked me to drop these off… Hyung, are you ok?”
Taehyung scrubs at his eyes but it makes them more red. “Yeah, I’m good. Wanna - wanna curl up in bed and watch a movie or something?”
Jungkook nods and follows Taehyung to his bedroom. He stops in the doorway and Taehyung stops in the middle of the room - then hurries to tidy it.
“Sorry,” he mutters, closing his textbooks and picking them, and one of his favourite brush kits, up off the floor and dumping them onto his desk. “Just - give me a second.”
“Taehyung, you sure you’re ok?”
Taehyung stops and rubs a hand over his mouth. His curtains are closed, which Jungkook thinks is odd because Taehyung loves sunlight (Taehyung is sunlight, his mind provides). “Yeah.” Taehyung rubs his hands over his whole face next. “Yeah.” His voice comes out scratchy and thick. “Just - “ He lowers his hands and starts scratching at the inside of his wrist and he’s swallowing really fast and - “I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I want. I think I fucked up. I think I chose the wrong degree.”
Jungkook’s shoulders slump. “Hyung…”
“But I don’t know what else I want to do.” Taehyung’s lower lip is trembling but he stops it. “I don’t know what - I can’t think of anything. At all. There’s nothing - “ The skin on the inside of Taehyung’s wrist is breaking and beginning to bleed.
Jungkook’s never seen a panic attack but he kinda maybe thinks that Taehyung may be about to have one. His cheeks are all pale and he’s breathing too loudly and -
“Come on, hyung,” Jungkook says softly. He grabs Taehyung’s laptop and climbs onto Taehyung’s bed and drags Taehyung with him. This is all very strange for flippant sun-loving Taehyung, who lives life with his face turned towards the sky, like there’s a never-ending summer in his veins. “Whaddya wanna watch?”
Taehyung rubs at his eyes and clings to Jungkook’s wrist. “Halloween is soon. I wanna go to Everland.”
“That answers nothing,” Jungkook says, laughing.
“Hocus Pocus,” Taehyung says. “I want to do a - I dunno. An art piece. That’s - somehow Halloween inspired. I think.” Taehyung’s voice is small. “I don’t know what I want to do.”
“You love painting, hyung.”
“It’s not enough,” Taehyung whispers. “I just wanna - I don’t wanna grow up. I just wanna keep - I don’t know.”
Jungkook turns Taehyung’s wrist over. The skin is angry and red. Small dots of blood have come to the surface but nothing drastic. Jungkook turns it back over and rubs his thumb over Taehyung’s knuckles.
Jungkook accidentally stays the night. At some point, Jimin pokes his head in, looking for Taehyung. Jungkook stirs and pushes himself up a bit, careful not to knock heads with Taehyung or to abruptly pull his arm out from under the curve of Taehyung’s neck. He blinks at Jimin and then around himself, disorientated. A slot of yellow light from the hallway bleeds onto the carpet. Jimin hushes a quiet apology, sends Jungkook back to sleep, and closes the door.
They wake late the next day, blinking their eyes open to an afternoon sun. Jungkook groans and massages his eyes and the bridge of his nose. Beside him, Taehyung exhales and rolls onto his front.
“We missed class,” Taehyung says, voice suggesting he’s about ready to nod off again.
“Yeah,” Jungkook agrees quietly. He turns his head to look at Taehyung. “Hey, hyung, how you feeling?”
Taehyung shrugs a shoulder, eyes closed. “Sleep helped.”
Jungkook nods and turns his gaze back to the ceiling. He tugs his arm free from under Taehyung’s ribcage and stretches. He looks at Taehyung again. “Wanna do something?”
Taehyung grins and opens his eyes. “Sure.”
Somehow they end up at Cheonggyecheon. Jungkook grumbles around his ice cream about feeling like a tourist. Taehyung laughs at him and sits on the lowest step so that he can put his feet in the water.
“I like it here,” he says. He kicks his heels together and laughs, startled, when a tiny fish makes a small leap. “Dude there’s fish!”
“No way.” Jungkook shimmies down to sit next to him and squints, trying to spot them. Taehyung leans forward with him. “Where?”
“I dunno. There was one just then, though. Oh! There!”
“There. They’re - I think they’re maybe silver. So the afternoon sun is making it really hard to see them. But - there. Like - “ Taehyung grabs Jungkook’s hand and forces him to point right at it. “See? They’re swimming against the current.”
Jungkook rubs his straining eyes. “This is giving me a headache. You’re certifiably full of bullshit, hyung.”
Taehyung splutters. “I am not! You’re just going blind in your old age.”
“You’re two fucking years older, hyung.”
“Wouldn’t know it by your damn eyesight.”
Jungkook laughs despite himself and shoves Taehyung and his rectangular fucking grin away from him. He munches on his ice cream again. “What else do you wanna do, hyung?”
Taehyung folds himself over his knees and puts his hands in the water alongside his feet. He tilts his head and wades his fingers through the water. Sunlight dances on the top of his head just like it dances on the caps of the small stream. Jungkook doesn’t press any further for an answer. He leans back, pressing his lower back against the edge of the step above him, and laps up the warm weather as he finishes his ice cream. Taehyung starts humming under his breath and makes little plip-plop noises as he drums his fingers on the surface of the water. Jungkook watches him quietly until he can’t any longer.
Taehyung takes them to the LED flower exhibition at Dongdaemun and Jungkook grumbles some more.
“What are we now?” he asks as they come out under the plaza from the subway. There’s still food vans set up from summer holidays. “Tourists or a couple.”
“Both,” Taehyung says with a roll of his eyes. He takes Jungkook’s wrist and drags him across the plaza. “Come on, you baby.”
The flowers are pretty. They duck past a few photos and find themselves a clear spot of railing to lean up against.
“Do you like it here too, hyung?” Jungkook asks quietly.
Taehyung smiles. The soft glow of the artificial light looks almost as good on him as sunlight does. “Yeah. But they’re only an exhibition. They were supposed to go in March but they extended it to October.”
“Oh.” Jungkook frowns. “That sucks. Sorry, hyung.”
Taehyung laughs. “It’s fine, Jungkookie. Who knows what else they’ll put in.” He nudges Jungkook and starts to grin. “Will you let me drag you on another tourist couple date when they put it in?”
Jungkook - debates making his voice all gruff for a moment because - because - but he doesn’t. He grins shyly (fuck shoulda tried for gruff) and says, “sure, hyung.”
“Even if they just fill it with grass like over there?”
“Even if they just fill it with grass like over there.” And just for extra measure, Jungkook throws on a “promise.”
They end up wandering along the Han River (“Bloody hell, hyung, really?” “The damn thing goes through the whole city, Jungkook, it’s unavoidable, whaddya want me to do? Drain it?”), bumping shoulders as they shove their hands in their pockets and try to beat the cooling night air.
“You know what’ll warm us up?”
Jungkook pauses and looks at Taehyung - but he’s fully serious, so Jungkook rolls his eyes, takes Taehyung by the wrist, and drags him towards the street. “Bar or convenience store?”
Taehyung considers it for a moment. “I kind of want to do both. But if I get drunk I feel like it’s more romantic to kiss you out here by the river and not in some shitty bar full of people.” They both stumble to a stop. Even Taehyung seems surprised he said it - but then he laughs, loud and long, and gets Jungkook moving again. “Don’t look so startled, I’m only teasing, Kook.”
Jungkook looks at his wrist in Taehyung’s hold and blindly follows. He holds the beers thrust in his direction whilst Taehyung roams the shelves for suitable snacks, and Jungkook doesn’t manage to get a word out when Taehyung insists on paying for it all. Eventually they’re back down at the river, sitting on the grass and looking at the city across the way.
“Why can’t I get a degree in this?” Taehyung asks, gaze drawn towards the sky.
Taehyung snorts. “Fuck no. Just - this. Life. Why isn’t there a life degree? Or - “ He shrugs.
“It’s summer all the time in your world, hyung,” Jungkook blurts. He blinks and holds his beer to his lips for a moment. He takes a sip. “I mean - you’re the only one who could - “ Jungkook bows his head and shrugs. “It’s not a degree I think I’d be able to get. You’re better at the here and now thing. I think it’s an artist thing.”
Jungkook shrugs again. “Yeah, I guess.” He sighs and drags his hand through his hair. “Fuck. I dunno.” He looks down at the beers they’ve already finished. “I’m drunk, hyung. I dunno what the fuck I’m saying.”
Taehyung laughs and rests his head on Jungkook’s shoulder. “Neither do I, Kookie.” He turns and rests his chin on Jungkook’s shoulder instead, observing him. “You look good in moonlight, Jungkookie.” He reaches out and strokes a gentle finger down Jungkook’s cheek. “It’d be a real pretty painting. Or maybe a photograph.”
Jungkook’s breath leaves him quietly. “Yeah?”
Taehyung grins. “What is with all the yeahs? Yeah. Maybe I’ll paint it sometime, or even shoot it. I wanna get back into photography…” He brushes his finger over Jungkook’s features, appreciating Jungkook’s facial structure, the bridge of his nose, the swell of his lower lip.
Jungkook breathes out quietly - then breathes Taehyung in. “Is this the part where you ‘romantically kiss me by the river?”
Taehyung tilts his head and smiles. “That’s how it works in the dramas, isn’t it?”
Jungkook lifts his gaze from Taehyung’s lips to his eyes. He matches Taehyung’s smile the best he can but - it’s younger. More shy. He kinda hates himself for it. He looks away and sighs and admires the city lights reflecting on the river. “Yup. That’s how it works in the dramas.”
“Y’know, Jungkookie,” Taehyung says as they lean their tired, drunken selves up against each other on the subway home. Taehyung looks down and links their fingers. “If everyone looked as good as you under moonlight, I could understand why we always have sex at night, you know?”
Jungkook blinks and then “nobody looks as good in sunlight as you, hyung, yet everyone loves morning sex anyway.”
Taehyung seems to take a moment to wrap his drunken brain around it but when he does (or at least when Jungkook thinks he does - Taehyung could just be really drunk), he laughs.
Taehyung doesn’t deal with winter. He is made for - made of - summer. Seokjin scolds him as he pulls up the collar of Taehyung’s jacket and wraps the scarf around his neck so that it covers his mouth and nose. Taehyung’s eyes are bright, even as he tries to bury further into the warmth. Jungkook tilts his head forward and buries his nose in his own scarf.
“It’s not winter yet,” Taehyung reminds them, voice muffled.
Namjoon snorts and musses Taehyung’s hair. “Fair point, brat. But today is fucking cold and you don’t do fucking cold, remember?”
It’s obvious Taehyung is grinning, even from behind his scarf. He hunches his shoulders forward and puts his hands in his pockets and squeezes his thighs together. Jungkook wants to laugh because how has Taehyung survived 20-something years of Korean winters when he can hardly handle Korean fall.
“We’re going to be late,” Jungkook says, fishing for his phone. Sure enough, there’s an abusive text from Yoongi asking where the fuck they’re at.
“Subway’s over there,” Namjoon says.
As they start walking, Taehyung manages to huddle between Seokjin and Jungkook, grabbing what extra warmth he can.
“It’ll be warmer on the subway,” Seokjin tells him, adjusting Taehyung’s scarf for him again.
“Yeah, hyung?” Taehyung sounds hopeful.
Taehyung nods his head. “Thank fuck.”
Jungkook hides a smile in the depths of his scarf.
“How can one person,” Yoongi begins slowly. He’s leaning with both elbows on the table, squinting at Taehyung like he’s trying to figure him out. “Be so fucking stupid?”
“Yoongi,” Seokjin scolds, and Jimin gives Yoongi a good whack.
Taehyung pouts and noses at his scarf.
Hoseok laughs and massages Taehyung’s shoulders. “Ignore him, Taehyungie.”
“I’m not wrong though,” Yoongi says.
Hoseok looks at Taehyung - who is bouncing his knees and has his hands clenched in his pockets and is trying to wriggle deeper into the warmth of his scarf and who’s teeth keep chattering and oh there’s another one of those spontaneous violent as fuck shivers - then looks at the rest of them, who have shed their scarves and coats to sit in shirts and jeans. “You might be a little right…”
Taehyung whines and shrugs Hoseok’s hands off of him. Jungkook takes pity, and swaps Taehyung’s frozen mango smoothie for his hot chocolate. Taehyung shoots him a grateful look and holds the drink to his chest, happy for its warmth. He hugs it tight, even when Jungkook shimmies over and pats the space next to him and Taehyung stands and then squeezes himself in next to Jungkook.
He leans up against Jungkook and bows his head. His knees keep bouncing so Jungkook tells him to drink, get some warmth into him. Taehyung nods and does so. Soon, he’s still - but he keeps the hot chocolate close to his chest.
Jungkook raps a knuckle on Taehyung’s knee and takes a sip of Taehyung’s smoothie. “It’s not even winter yet, hyung.”
Taehyung chuckles and lifts his drink to his lips. “Fuck,” he says. “Don’t remind me. I miss summer.”
“Because you’re weird,” Yoongi mumbles. “No one fucking likes summer. It’s too hot.” He keeps stabbing his straw through the lid of his drink, back and forth, back and forth.
“Sexual frustration,” Hoseok coughs into his fist and Jungkook has to fight against a laugh. Jimin glares Hoseok’s way and Yoongi looks anything but impressed.
Beside him, Jungkook can feel Taehyung’s shoulders shaking in amusement. He presses a little closer. Taehyung gives him a small smile.
“Better?” Jungkook asks, nodding his head towards the hot chocolate.
Taehyung’s smile widens. “Yeah,” he says quietly. “Thanks, Jungkookie.”
The night is cold but the clubs are warm and they strip out of their layers and purchase some drinks and weave their way through the crowd until Hoseok’s got them right in the middle of the dance floor. Taehyung throws his arm over Jungkook’s shoulder and starts to sway his hips, lips parted and - what the fuck is it with this kid and his goddamn tongue, Jungkook has to wonder as he starts to match Taehyung’s sway. Taehyung’s tongue vanishes as he laughs and then drinks from his beer, and then the song is changing and they’re jumping, shouting the lyrics at the top of their lungs as they hold their drinks to the ceiling.
Taehyung separates from Jungkook to start matching Jimin’s weird dance and the two march towards each other in the middle of their circle, eyeing each other up, before they’re laughing and Taehyung has both hands raised and he’s turning in a circle, tongue out again as he bares his teeth. He meets Jungkook’s gaze and Jungkook watches as sharp shards of coloured light flash over Taehyung’s face then lets Taehyung drag him in to also take part in what looks like some weird tribal dance - which is all fun and games until Taehyung manages to knock foreheads with Jungkook.
Jungkook swears and jerks back, massaging at the wounded area. “Hyung!”
Taehyung laughs and whines apologies, fingers grasping at Jungkook’s shirt to try pull him closer again. “Come on,” he says, speaking the words right into Jungkook’s ear so that he can be heard. “I’ll buy you a drink.”
Taehyung’s fingers cuff around Jungkook’s wrist and then he leads them through the crowd, hunching his shoulders to get between people and checking back on Jungkook with a smile every once in a while. Jungkook rolls his eyes and trudges along after him - pretends that it’s the music and the crowd and the alcohol that has his pulse -
“Whaddya want?” Taehyung asks, knocking the soft side of his fist on the bar. “Shots? Let’s do shots.”
“Whatever you want, hyung.”
“Yeah?” Taehyung’s gaze slides over to him. The lighting at the bar is shit and it throws Taehyung’s face into strange shadows. “Whatever I want?”
Jungkook looks at where Taehyung’s fingers are still around his wrist. He nods. “Yeah, hyung.” He looks up again. “I’m down for anything.”
Taehyung stares for a moment - then quirks the left side of his mouth and grabs a bartender’s attention. Jungkook watches Taehyung hook both elbows onto the bar and stand on his toes so that he can lean in closer to the girl, talk to her more easily. Taehyung grins at her, looking sharp and dangerous, and laughs at something that’s said before handing over the cash and standing on flat feet.
“Hope you trust me, Jungkookie,” Taehyung says, grin wide as he pockets his wallet again.
“Why wouldn’t I?” The words are slipping free before he’s aware of them. Jungkook blinks at Taehyung and Taehyung smiles.
“Aww,” he coos, wrapping an arm around Jungkook and hugging him close. “My Jungkookie trusts me.”
Jungkook scoffs. “Maybe not with my life - “
“Bullshit, I’m the first person you’d call.”
Jungkook shakes his head and worries at his lip. “Yeah, yeah, ok.” He pauses. “After Seokjin.”
“And Yoongi - roommates, man.”
“And Jiminie. You have to call those two at once so someone fucking makes things happen because Yoongi - “
“And after Hoseok.”
“And after Hoseok,” Jungkook agrees.
Taehyung starts to laugh and passes a tequila shot to Jungkook. “So I’m the last person you’d call.” He hands Jungkook a glass with a shot glass inside - it’s a jagerbomb. Of course it is. “Here’s your chaser.”
“Jagerbomb chasers? Really, Tae? Is that even safe?”
Taehyung shrugs, grin so wide Jungkook can count all his teeth. “I asked her to put a little something extra in them too.”
Jungkook just stares. “You - of course you fucking did.” He sighs and holds up his tequila shot to cheers with Taehyung, and then he’s knocking both drinks back and slamming the glasses on the bar and grimacing and dragging the back of his wrist over his mouth.
“Fuck,” Taehyung says, nose wrinkled - and then he’s calling for the bartender and ordering another round.
“You’re dangerous,” Jungkook says, watching Taehyung hand over the cash again.
“Like you didn’t already know,” Taehyung says, shooting him a sly look. When he hops down from the bar, he steps in closer to Jungkook, breathes the same air as him, and tilts his head. He’s silent for a moment. “Why do you think we fit so well together, Jungkookie?” he asks.
Jungkook stalls, not sure what that’s supposed to mean at all - and really, it’s Taehyung, it could mean any hundred of things - but the words rattle inside Jungkook’s ribcage and -
“There you are!” Hoseok’s voice is too loud by Jungkook’s ear. He tries to jerk away from the noise as Hoseok throws his arms around the both of them. “The fuck is taking so long?”
Taehyung gives Jungkook a small secret smile then beams at Hoseok. “Nothing,” he says, stepping away from the pair to collect their drinks. “Just teaching our Golden Maknae how to drink like a man.”
Jungkook bristles. “Yah.” He snatches the drinks from Taehyung. “I can drink just fine.”
Taehyung inclines his head and holds up his drink. “Bottom’s up then, Jungkookie.”
Jungkook and Taehyung stay inside each other’s orbit for most of the night. They collapse back on an available sofa at some point, legs interlocked and shoulders pressed together, as they laugh too loud and talk too fast. Taehyung tips his head back to rest on the sofa and laughs, eyes closed and hands held to his stomach, whilst Jungkook doubles over and twists, forehead coming to rest on Taehyung’s knees.
“Jungkookie,” Taehyung calls, hands weaving into Jungkook’s hair. “Why are we laughing?”
Jungkook sits upright, shakes Taehyung’s hand off, and rubs at his stomach. “I don’t know.”
Taehyung snorts, hand flying up to cover his mouth. His eyes start watering.
“Don’t you fucking dare hyung my abs hurt and your laughter is fucking contagious.”
Taehyung’s shoulders start shaking and he looks so ridiculous, hand pressed to his mouth so tightly it contorts his face, eyes scrunched up and watering, cheeks going red - Jungkook starts to laugh.
“Yah,” Taehyung says through his own laughter, whacking Jungkook’s thigh. “Now look who’s causing shit, you little shit.”
“Sorry, I’m sorry,” Jungkook wheezes. He breathes out shakily, tries to recompose himself - “Fucking ow hyung!” He forgot Taehyung was a violent laugher.
Taehyung leans his weight back into the sofa and smiles at him, drunk and on a high. “Don’t be such a baby.”
Jungkook punches Taehyung’s thigh.
“Ow! Jungkook, the fuck?”
“See, who’s the baby now? Fucking hurts, huh?”
Taehyung whines and rests his head on Jungkook’s shoulder. “So mean.”
Jungkook looks down and Taehyung tilts his head back to look up at Jungkook. There’s a beat then Taehyung is reaching up to loop his arm around Jungkook’s neck, guiding him down -
“Oi, come dance with me,” Jimin says, tugging Taehyung away from Jungkook.
Taehyung lets out an ‘oof’ and rubs at his shoulder. “I think you dislocated it.”
Jimin rolls his eyes. “One of you come dance.”
“Where’s Hoseok?” Jungkook asks, leaning back into the sofa. He relocates his beer and takes a sip from it. His knee keeps bouncing.
Jimin thrusts his finger in Hoseok’s direction. He’s currently necking on with some chick.
“Yeah. And Seokjin and Namjoon and Yoongi are all being boring old fucks and drinking at one of the tables.”
“I’ll go with you,” Taehyung offers. He starts to slide out of his seat. “Jungkook?”
“Nah, I’m gonna join the boring old fucks.”
“Hurry up,” Jimin says, tugging on Taehyung’s arm.
Taehyung lets himself be pulled away, laughing at Jimin’s huffy attitude, but he still manages to look back over his shoulder at Jungkook before disappearing into the crowd.
Two hours later and they’re all stumbling their way to the taxi rank, huddling together for warmth. Taehyung clings to Jungkook, teeth chattering and head bowed against the cool night air.
“You good, hyung?” Jungkook asks, rubbing his hand up and down Taehyung’s back. He attempts to go for concerned but ends up laughing.
“Fuck you,” Taehyung mutters, but he presses up against Jungkook some more. “I’m cold…”
“I know, hyung,” Jungkook says, and this time he does manage to sound concerned. “Cuddles tonight?”
“Just for the record,” Jungkook says quietly, tilting his head closer to Taehyung so that only he can hear. “If my life ever was on the line, you’re the one I’d call first.”
Taehyung starts to smile. “Yeah?” He tightens his hold around Jungkook. “Me too, Kookie.”
“You’d call yourself first?”
“Fucking brat,” Taehyung mutters, shoving Jungkook away from him for a brief moment. “No,” he says, pulling Jungkook and his warmth back to him. “I’d call you first.”
“Oh,” Jungkook says sarcastically, nodding his head. “That’s what you meant.”
“I fucking hate you.”
Jungkook laughs and tries to warm Taehyung up again. “Love you too, hyung.”
They all spend Christmas Eve at Seokjin and Namjoon’s place. There’s no snow this year but Taehyung rocks up looking like he’s set to go to Antarctica, and Yoongi almost dies of laughter.
“Shut up,” Taehyung mutters, teeth chattering even beneath all his layers. “It’s cold, hyung…”
“Apparently,” Jimin agrees, grinning as he starts to unbutton Taehyung’s jacket. “How do you think our heating bill is going?”
Yoongi can’t stop grinning. “Wait - wait - lemme -“
Taehyung ducks his head shyly. “Don’t. Don’t guess.”
“That bad?” Namjoon calls from the kitchen. It’s followed by the sound of something breaking. “…Shit.”
“Kim Namjoon get the fuck out of my kitchen or so help me - “
Jungkook and Hoseok sit side by side on the couch and start to snigger.
“Oi, Jung Hoseok, don’t know why you’re laughing,” Namjoon says as he pulls Hoseok off the seat. “You’re replacing me.”
“Namjoon,” Hoseok whines, trudging off to the kitchen.
Taehyung trudges over, still wrapped up in his scarf and beanie, and takes a seat next to Jungkook. He brings his knees to his chest and holds his hands under his arms and puts his chin on his knees. Jungkook starts to smile.
“Here, hyung,” he says quietly. He reaches forward and opens the drawer under the coffee table and pulls out a blanket. He drapes it over his and Taehyung’s shoulders and shimmies so that they’re sitting pressed up against each other. He can feel Taehyung still shivering from being outside and he has to wonder how one human being can be so cold. “You’re not getting sick, are you?”
Taehyung shakes his head.
Taehyung smiles a little and rubs at his eyes.
“I don’t like the cold,” Taehyung whines.
“You’ve mentioned,” Yoongi drawls.
“You know what I also don’t like?” Taehyung snaps. “Fucking Min Yoongi.”
Jimin draws his head back and then starts to laugh. “Shit. Winter makes Taehyung grumpy as fuck.”
Dinner leaves them all warm and sleepy. They turn off the lights and put on a movie. It’s not long before they’re all dozing off. Taehyung rests with his head on Jungkook’s shoulder, blinking slowly and tiredly as he watches the film in a daze. Jungkook watches Taehyung and the movie in equal parts.
Taehyung hums and closes his eyes, shimmying closer to Jungkook. “I’m gonna fall asleep.”
“’S ok,” Jungkook murmurs, own eyes feeling heavy.
Taehyung breathes out quietly, hand finding Jungkook’s. “C’mon.” He stands and pulls Jungkook up with him. They stumble into each other, bodies heavy with exhaustion. Taehyung tugs again, starts leading Jungkook to the balcony.
“Hyung - “
Taehyung snatches up some blankets as they go, and both their jackets. He helps Jungkook slip into his and then lets Jungkook help him into his, then takes them both out onto the balcony. He shuts the door behind them quietly and they work together to make themselves a sort of nest, before settling down and huddling into each other’s warmth.
“You’re crazy, hyung,” Jungkook whispers. “You hate the cold.”
Taehyung hums and puts his head on Jungkook’s shoulder again and closes his eyes. Light from the street puts splashes of orange on their faces. “I’m ok for now.”
“If you get sick, Seokjin’ll kill me.”
Taehyung chuckles quietly and blinks his eyes open. He tilts his head and smiles, warm and sleepy, up at Jungkook. “Shh, Kookie. Stop whining.”
Jungkook shakes his head and shimmies down a little so he can sink into the blankets some more. They’re leaned up against the sliding door, and Jungkook can just feel the cold of the glass through the blankets and his clothing. He finds Taehyung’s hand. His fingers are already cold. Jungkook clutches them tightly, hoping to warm them.
“Look, Jungkookie,” Taehyung says, words almost inaudible. He pulls his free hand from the blankets and points up. Jungkook follows. “Someone hung mistletoe…”
Jungkook stares up at the plant. It’s fake, plastic berries glistening too brightly - never mind the perfect dusting of snow on the leaves. “Probably Namjoon attempting to be romantic or some shit.”
Taehyung snorts and hits Jungkook’s shoulder. He buries himself inside the blankets again. “In movies, they kiss under mistletoe.”
“Mm, hyung,” Jungkook says.
“So I’m meant to kiss you now?” Taehyung’s voice is hushed, breath warming the air around them in clouds of white. “That’s how it works in the movies.”
Jungkook turns his head to look at Taehyung, finds him staring up with dark eyes and soft lashes and a strange amount of alertness considering the sleepiness clinging to him. Jungkook swallows, fingers twitching against his thigh. He wishes he drank more. He wishes he was a little more delusional from being so tired. Maybe then he’d be brave enough to lift his twitching fingers and cup Taehyung’s face and -
Jungkook nods, once. “Yeah, hyung. That’s how it works.”
Taehyung stares at him for some time. “Huh,” he says at last. “That’s nice.” He turns away and lowers his gaze again.
“Yeah, hyung,” Jungkook echoes tonelessly. “It is nice.”
Someone wakes him. It takes him a moment but it’s Seokjin and Hoseok. Jungkook rubs at his eyes and sits up a little straighter. There’s a weight on his shoulder. When he looks, Taehyung is fast asleep.
“C’mon, Jungkookie,” Hoseok whispers, helping to unravel the blankets wrapped around the pair. “Let’s get you two to bed.”
Jungkook frowns. “Hmm?”
Hoseok chuckles and flicks Jungkook gently on the forehead. Beside him, Seokjin is trying to stir Taehyung. “You’re lucky you didn’t die of hypothermia. What if you’d slept out here all night?”
Jungkook blinks blearily at him. “Wha?”
Hoseok rolls his eyes and tries to help Seokjin stir Taehyung. Jungkook can feel him shivering violently under the sheets, bones shuddering against Jungkook’s. His teeth chatter audibly.
“His skin is like ice,” Seokjin says, clicking his tongue. “And his lips are about 15 minutes away from turning blue.” He looks at Jungkook. “You too, Jungkook. What were you two thinking?”
But sleep is still clinging tightly to Jungkook and his head starts to droop.
“Whoa nup come on we’re getting you two to bed.” Hoseok helps Jungkook to his feet. He picks up a blanket and wraps it firmly around Jungkook, then hugs him, keeping him warm. “Hyung, you got Taehyungie?”
“He’s not waking up.”
“He sleeps like the dead,” Hoseok says.
“I’ll help,” Jungkook murmurs, though he’s got his head resting on Hoseok’s shoulder and if he’s not careful he’ll nod off again. “I’ll help…”
He pulls away from Hoseok and fights to get his arms out of the blanket whilst also trying to keep it wrapped around him. It’s cold. A lot colder than when he and Taehyung first came out. He crouches in front of Taehyung and is a hell of a lot less gentle than his hyungs when he takes Taehyung by the shoulder and starts to shake him.
“Yah. Hyung. Wake up.” He pats Taehyung’s cheek - and stalls. Seokjin wasn’t exaggerating. Taehyung is freezing.
“It’s ok, Jungkookie,” Seokjin says, noticing Jungkook’s panic. “He’s fine.”
Jungkook nods because Seokjin is pre-med he knows this stuff and lets Hoseok pull him away and take him to bed. As they walk through the living room, Hoseok calls over his shoulder to Namjoon to go help Seokjin.
“Here,” Hoseok says, pushing open the door to Seokjin and Namjoon’s room. “They said you two can sleep here. They’ll take the spare room.”
Jungkook tries to protest, even as Hoseok gets him out of his jacket and under the covers.
“Seokjin wants you two sleeping with the electric blanket,” Hoseok explains, voice hushed. He turns the blanket on and makes sure the covers are pulled right up to Jungkook’s chin.
Jungkook - he’s sleepy. He’s not sure what he’s trying to do. He thinks he tries to speak, or nod, but his - his eyes are closed and he’s not sure when that happened. There’s murmuring around him as more voices join Hoseok’s, then there’s weight on the other side of the bed and the blankets are lifted and cold cold skin meets his. Jungkook shivers but instinctively knows it’s Taehyung - who else could be shivering so violently with skin so cold - and so he turns and pulls Taehyung against his chest. The blankets shift again and Taehyung’s teeth start to chatter a little quieter and he lets out a shaky breath against Jungkook’s collarbones and -
On Christmas Day, Jungkook wakes to Taehyung and a fever.
Taehyung presses their foreheads together and smiles sleepily, eyes closed. “And you were worried I was gonna get sick. Ha.”
“Hyung,” Jungkook mumbles, wiggling closer to find more of Taehyung’s warmth. “If I’m sick, you definitely are.”
There’s a beat of silence and then Taehyung is taking Jungkook’s hand and holding it to his own forehead. “Feel warm?”
Jungkook stares at his palm on Taehyung’s forehead. “Yup.”
Seokjin’s gonna kill us.”
Taehyung laughs and holds Jungkook’s hand to his chest. He breathes out quietly, already lulling to sleep again. “Merry Christmas, Jungkookie…”
Seokjin stares at them across the bench, arms folded, expression severely ‘not impressed’. “Do not expect sympathy.”
“But hyung,” Taehyung whines.
Taehyung blinks at him, lips parted, cheeks dusted with red. He turns his head in Jungkook’s direction. Jungkook shrugs and pulls his blanket around him tighter. He’s got nothing either.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
Yoongi snorts and sips from his coffee. “Give him a break. Taehyung’s doing an art degree for a reason, remember?”
It’s said in jest. And it’s Yoongi - who is an ass all of the time and is also doing an arts degree. But Jungkook still winces and swings his gaze in Taehyung’s direction. Taehyung just laughs, tipping his gaze to the ceiling.
“Hyung,” Jimin mutters, shooting Yoongi an angry glare.
“Anyway,” Taehyung says. He stands and drapes his blanket over Jungkook. “I need to go. I told mum I would be round for dinner tonight so I need to get myself onto a bus somehow.” He says his goodbyes, wraps himself in his layers, and leaves.
Jimin punches Yoongi. “Fuck, you’re such an ass.”
Yoongi holds his cup of coffee to his chest protectively. “The fuck? What’d I do?”
“Tae’s really stressed about his degree.”
“How the fuck am I supposed to know?”
“I fucking told you!”
Jungkook tunes them out, especially when Namjoon and Hoseok gets involved - and then Seokjin gets dragged into it. He hides his phone under the counter and shoots Taehyung a text.
You good hyung?
The reply takes a good while in coming and Jungkook swings side to side on his stool and gnaws at his lower lip. He unlocks his phone as fast as possible when he feels it vibrate.
Merry Christmas Jungkookie~ have a good day
Jungkook stares at the reply. Types a few of his own but deletes them all. Eventually he just shakes his head, jaw clenched, and locks his phone.
“Nice going, hyung,” he mutters, standing and walking past Yoongi.
Yoongi throws his hands in the air. “The fuck did I do?”
The Christmas fever isn’t the first of the season for Taehyung.
“Hey,” Hoseok says, frowning as Taehyung falls into the seat next to him. He grabs Taehyung and steadies him. “Hey, Taehyungie, you ok?”
Taehyung shrugs Hoseok off and starts fidgeting. “Fine. I’m fine. Have you ordered?”
“No, wait, hang on - “ Hoseok grabs Taehyung’s wrists and keeps him still. “Slow down, TaeTae. You good?” Hoseok frowns some more. “You look like you’ve got a fever.”
“Hyung,” Jungkook says, deadpanning at Taehyung. “Again? Why aren’t you at home?”
“Can’t go home,” Taehyung mutters, twisting his wrists free and grabbing for the menu.
“What do you mean?”
“Jimin has Yoongi over.”
“Come to mine,” Jungkook says. “If Yoongi’s with Jimin then he’s obviously not with me.”
“I need to stay on campus.”
“Taehyung,” Hoseok says. “You look awful. Go with Jungkookie.”
Taehyung shakes his head and calls for the waiter. He places his order in a rushed snippy manner that isn’t really him, then starts to fiddle with his phone.
Jungkook reaches across the table and stops him. Taehyung lifts glassy eyes to look at him. His lips are chapped. “Taehyung.”
“I need to stay.”
Taehyung grimaces. “My - my project. It’s not - I need to stay. Fix it. Restart it. Burn it. I can’t get the colour combination right, something isn’t working.”
“You’re rambling,” Jungkook tells him quietly.
“Not a good thing to help a fever,” Hoseok says. “You’re going home.”
“I need to fix it.”
“When is it due?”
Taehyung frowns at them strangely.
Jungkook shakes his head. “You’re coming home with me.”
Taehyung bites. “I’m not a fucking child,” he hisses, teeth clenched. “I have to - I need to - this is all I can do,” he blurts. “This is all I can do and I can’t do it well. I need to fix it.”
“Ok,” Jungkook says quietly. “Ok.”
After lunch Jungkook goes to the studio with Taehyung. Hoseok looks grateful. Taehyung couldn’t care less.
“Here,” he says bluntly, dragging a stool over for Jungkook to sit on.
Jungkook ducks his head to try see Taehyung’s face. The signs of the fever are obvious. He doesn’t say anything though, just takes the seat offered to him. “Thanks, hyung.”
Taehyung grunts and changes shirts to an oversized t-shirt that hangs off his shoulders loosely and has paint stains all across it.
Jungkook wants to make a comment about the whole building being cement and not that warm and maybe Taehyung should paint in warmer clothes in winter - but he doesn’t. Instead he watches Taehyung drag his easel closer to Jungkook so that Jungkook can watch him work. Jungkook stares at the canvas. There’s the beginnings of a jaw line and - Jungkook squints. Fuck he’s not good at art.
“Looks good, hyung,” he tries.
Taehyung finally snaps out of it a bit. He laughs. “Really, Kookie?”
“Well I think it does…”
“You’re confused aren’t you?”
“It’s not finished,” Jungkook protests. “I can’t make assumptions until it’s finished.”
“Saying it looks good is an assumption,” Taehyung reminds him gently as he continues setting up his gear.
“No it’s - a progressive - comment - of criticism.”
Taehyung laughs again and starts to work. He’s got to be one of the most distracted artists Jungkook’s ever seen. Usually he’s dancing and singing and doing impersonations and checking his phone and getting lost outside the window - a calm bubble of happiness that Jungkook finds odd to the severe concentration he’s seen on other students in here.
But today Taehyung is still.
Jungkook lets it go for a while until he can’t no longer. Taehyung’s shoulders are drawn so tight it looks painful. “Hyung…”
“Yeah, Kookie?” Taehyung says, voice croaky.
Jungkook slides off the stool and comes to stand beside Taehyung. “You ok?”
Taehyung works his jaw. He’s shivering and Jungkook doesn’t know if he’s actually cold or if it’s the fever, which is painting itself bright red across Taehyung’s cheeks and nose. “No,” he says at last, choking the word out. His eyes water. He uses his forearm to try wipe them dry. “I don’t know what’s wrong.”
“Hyung…” Jungkook purses his lips and shifts his weight, unsure what to do.
“I can’t - it’s just not coming. I’m just trying to force it.”
“Want me to put some music on?”
“Hasn’t worked,” Taehyung says, and his breaths are getting gaspy and Jungkook’s heart breaks because it’s the goddamn worst sound he’s ever heard. “Nothing works. I can’t even say there’s no inspiration. That’s bullshit. I know what I want to paint I just - can’t.”
Jungkook sets Taehyung’s brush down and is careful to check where the wet paint is on Taehyung’s skin, on his clothes, then turns Taehyung to face him. Taehyung covers his eyes with his forearm. Jungkook lets him.
“It’s ok, hyung.”
“It’s not it’s not.”
“You need summer, hyung,” Jungkook says quietly.
Taehyung hiccups. “Wha-what?”
“Summer, you need summer.”
Taehyung thinks it over for a moment. “I don’t like winter,” he says quietly.
“I don’t like the cold…”
Jungkook smiles sadly and rubs Taehyung’s shoulders. “I know, hyung. You need to dress warmer…” Jungkook shakes his head. “You need summer, hyung. Everything will be fine in summer.” He looks for Taehyung’s clean shirt and jacket. “Spring is in three weeks, Tae, and then everything will be ok again. But for now, you need to come home. You’re not well.”
Taehyung’s breaths get gaspy again. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry, Jungkook. I’m sorry.”
Jungkook swallows and brushes Taehyung’s hair back. He wishes Taehyung would lower his forearm. “Let’s go home, hyung.”
Spring brings cherry blossoms. The few times Jungkook goes to meet Taehyung at the studio, he catches Taehyung at the window, chin resting on his hands as he stares outside at the blossoming trees. The sun is still cool but it loves the angles of Taehyung’s face as much as always, and Taehyung loves tipping his face towards it.
“Hyung,” Jungkook calls.
Taehyung turns and pulls out his left earbud. He smiles. The sunlight does pretty things to his smile. “Jungkookie!”
Jungkook slides his hands into his back pockets and rocks on the balls of his feet. “Hey. You - you wanna get lunch?”
Taehyung blinks at him, processing the question, then “yeah! Yeah, that sounds great. Hang on just let me - “
Taehyung came to class in his paint stained clothes from home, so he doesn’t change. But he packs up quickly. Jungkook catches glimpses of the canvas. The jaw line is still there. There’s a gigantic sketch of a flower that’s in the works, covering what would be the right eye and cheekbone.
“Ok,” Taehyung says, running his eyes over the studio. “Let’s go.” He leads them outside, happily rambling to Jungkook all the while, even as he pulls his jacket in tighter around himself against the chill of the wind. “You were right, Jungkookie,” he says, tipping his head to the sky and squinting against the sun.
“I just needed to wait for summer. For warmth.”
“You don’t like the cold,” Jungkook says, shrugging. He drops his gaze to his feet. “It made sense.”
“Did it?” Taehyung hums and takes Jungkook’s arm. “C’mon. Let’s go look at the trees before we get something to eat.”
Jungkook lets Taehyung drag him across campus to where the university’s biggest collection of cherry blossoms lie. The pink petals are everywhere and Jungkook automatically finds himself starting to smile in awe. Taehyung skips ahead, finds a branch low enough, and shakes it. Pink petals rain down around them.
“Aren’t they pretty?” Taehyung asks. He bends down and scoops up a handful of fallen petals. He smiles and shows them to Jungkook. “Look! Don’t you like them, Jungkookie?”
“They’re really nice, hyung.”
Taehyung beams and tosses the petals into the air. He steps closer to Jungkook then turns so that they’re standing shoulder to shoulder. “So many couples,” he whispers dramatically. He makes a show of pointing them all out to Jungkook. “Who knew spring could be so lonely, hey?” Taehyung sighs and links arms with Jungkook.
Jungkook looks at Taehyung and curls his fingers into a fist. He bows his head. “Yeah, hyung.”
No, Jungkook thinks. I want to be braver.
Winter made me brave but summer makes you strong, hyung.
“I’m fine,” Jungkook mumbles, pulling his arm free.
“Hey, Jungkook.” Taehyung snatches up Jungkook’s arm and keeps him in place. He frowns. “Are you sure? You don’t sound very fine.” He pouts. “You can always talk to me you know?”
Jungkook inhales -
Taehyung is here, standing amongst cherry blossom petals dancing on the wind, littering the ground, painting the trees pink -
Taehyung is here, letting the sunshine caress him, love him, touch him -
Taehyung is strong -
Jungkook can be brave -
Jungkook goes round to hang out at Jimin’s and Taehyung’s. He lets himself in, calls out his hellos, and toes off his shoes. The curtains are all open, windows too. A breeze ghosts through the apartment, chilly enough that Jungkook shivers. Sunlight pours over the floorboards and furniture and creeps right up to Jungkook’s socked feet.
“Taehyung hyung,” he calls, shuffling forward. The floorboards are warm. “Where - “
Taehyung comes stumbling out of his room, cheeks flushed, eyes bright. “Jungkook!”
“H-Hi,” Jungkook says, startled. Taehyung has paint smeared over his hands and left cheek. “What are you doing?”
“Come,” Taehyung says breathlessly, hopping over to Jungkook and wrapping wet fingers around his wrist and dragging him towards his room. “Paint with me.”
Jungkook pulls a face. “I can’t - “
“Shh don’t be silly. It’s easy.” Taehyung nudges his door open. “See?”
There’s white butcher paper all over the floor, covered in bright splatters and explosions and -
“Yeah,” Taehyung says with a laugh. “And hand painting. Was just about to try my feet!”
“How old are you again?”
Taehyung shoves him. “The weather’s really nice and I haven’t done this in forever and I thought why not. Come on,” he says, hopping around as he tugs at his socks. “Socks off. Roll up your jeans. Do you want something to change into?”
And so they spend the next hour slipping around on butcher paper, making footprints and handprints and fingerprints and Taehyung shows him how to make teabag explosions and then they try mimicking blood splatter patterns and at one point Taehyung hits some wet paint and slips and he reaches out with paint covered hands for Jungkook and drags him down with him.
Jungkook groans and pushes himself to all fours. Taehyung blinks up at him - then tips his head back and laughs. He lifts a hand and smears paint all across Jungkook’s cheeks, laughs some more when Jungkook swears at him and tries the same, then loops his arms around Jungkook’s neck and -
“The fuck are you two doing?”
Jungkook jolts backwards and looks at Jimin standing in the doorway. “Hey, hyung.” He pushes his hair back off his face and - “fuck.”
Taehyung starts to laugh. “Pink suits you.”
“Fuck off.” Jungkook tries to use his nails to get the paint off his hair. “Hyung,” he whines.
“Here, here, here,” Taehyung says - except he doesn’t help. He makes shit worse. “There.” He smiles. “Bit of light blue. Want some orange?”
“I fucking hate you.”
Taehyung paints a love heart on Jungkook’s cheek with his finger. He smiles.
Maybe summer wasn’t Taehyung’s answer, Jungkook thinks a month later when Taehyung is banging on their door at two in the morning, drunk off his ass.
“Slow down, hyung,” Jungkook mumbles, rubbing at his eyes as he pulls Taehyung inside before he can wake their neighbours. “You’re drunk.”
Taehyung stares at him with a heaving chest and red rimmed eyes and starburst lashes. “We need to go to the studio.”
“Yes. Please. I need to burn it all.”
Jungkook groans and starts to tug Taehyung in the direction of his bedroom. “Fuck, Tae, it’s two in the morning. Let’s just go to bed.”
But Taehyung digs his heels in. “No. No. Please let me - let me go fix it.”
And because Jungkook gives in too easily - gives in to Taehyung too easily - they find themselves at the studio a little less than an hour later. Taehyung drags out his three canvases and lines them up against the wall then steps back to stare at them.
“Something’s wrong,” he says suddenly, shoulders slumping.
Jungkook frowns because he definitely can’t see it. He really likes them. Faces and flowers. That’s what he sees. He crouches to look at them closer. “They’re good, hyung. Really good.”
“No,” Taehyung says, voice hollow. “I mean with me. Something’s wrong with me.”
Jungkook straightens. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. Something just doesn’t - feel right.”
“Have you tried speaking to Seokjin?”
“Not yet,” Taehyung admits, gaze drifting towards his artwork. “I don’t want him to -
“He’ll worry regardless,” Jungkook reminds him. “He always worries.”
“He’ll just tell me to go see someone,” Taehyung says quietly.
“Maybe you should, hyung.”
“Hmm.” Taehyung offers Jungkook a sad smile. “I don’t think I’m meant for growing up, Jungkookie.”
There’s a lot of things Jungkook wants to say. He wants to tell Taehyung that - that - that he likes the way he drinks the sun and goes where the wind blows and who gives a shit if that’s how Taehyung lives his life, he should just go with it. He wants to tell Taehyung that he doesn’t need to have everything figured out just now, that he’s allowed to be happy, to live in the moment, to tell the world to go fuck itself and its problems. He wants to spin words into something beautiful and powerful and motivational for Taehyung, but that’s not Jungkook.
And sometimes that’s not needed.
So he shrugs and says, “then don’t.”
And Taehyung starts to cry.
They watch the sunrise on the soccer fields. Taehyung rests his head on Jungkook’s shoulder, struggling to stay awake. His cheeks are blotchy and his eyes are bloodshot and occasionally he hiccups but - but it’s better than the hyperventilating and sobbing and the desperate desperate fingers that had clung to Jungkook as Taehyung tried to calm down, tried to drag in air, tried to -
“Thank you,” Taehyung says quietly. “And I’m sorry.”
“Neither of those is necessary, hyung,” Jungkook whispers, finding Taehyung’s hand and squeezing. “You can go to sleep if you want. I’ll wake you in a bit. And then we can go back to mine for the day.”
“I like the sun…”
“I know, hyung. It looks good on you.”
Taehyung nods slowly. He leans more and more of his weight against Jungkook. “It’s warm…”
Jungkook looks down at Taehyung. His eyes are closed. The morning sun touches Taehyung gently, happily, like it’s glad to have him back for the day. Jungkook lifts a finger and follows the line of the sun down the bridge of Taehyung’s nose. He stops at his mouth. Taehyung catches sunlight on his lips, even as he sleeps.
For summer break they go to Jeju. Yoongi sleeps the flight over and Jungkook and Jimin snicker to each other as they see how much shit they can balance on him before he wakes. Taehyung sits across the aisle, head titled to rest against the window as he too sleeps, lapping up the early morning sun. Hoseok sits beside him, silently jamming away to the music on his phone. Seokjin and Namjoon sit a row behind, playing cards - until Namjoon loses half of them between the seats.
Jeju is hotter than Seoul but there’s an ocean breeze that makes up for it. They stay in a guest house that has a rooftop entertainment area. They dump their shit, change, and head straight for the beach.
“We’ll actually get to swim this time, hyung,” Jungkook says, coming up beside Taehyung.
“Hmm?” Taehyung turns wide eyes to him, coming out of his daze. He smiles. “I know. Fucking finally.”
They make their way down the sand, paying the 10 000 won for the mat and umbrella hire. As they set up, Hoseok and Jimin run back up the beach to the corner store to buy snacks and beer.
Yoongi sits under the umbrella and grumbles. “It’s hot.”
“It’s summer,” Namjoon reminds him.
Taehyung laughs and tries to drag him out into the sun. “You’ll be fine, hyung.”
“You barely survived winter. Let me barely survive summer.”
“You gave me shit for all of - “
“Fuck off I did. I was your favourite hyung. Still am.”
Taehyung steps back a few paces. His skin turns gold in the sunlight. Something in Jungkook quietens and he lowers his gaze.
“Kookie, you coming for a swim?” Hoseok asks, as he and Jimin return and dump all the shit on the mat.
“I’m gonna hang here with Yoongi hyung for a bit,” Jungkook says quietly, folding his legs beneath him to sit next to Yoongi. He takes the beer that’s handed to him and mutters a quiet thanks. He can feel Taehyung’s eyes on him, can imagine him pouting. He licks his lips and meets Taehyung’s gaze. He smiles. “I’ll come in later, hyung, promise.”
Taehyung nods jerkily, lets Jimin drag him away. He stumbles as he’s pulled backwards. He keeps his eyes on Jungkook until he can’t any longer.
“You good, kid?”
Jungkook swallows the beer in his mouth. “Yeah.”
Yoongi tilts his sunglasses down his nose. “You sure?”
Jungkook shrugs, watching the others run into the water.
“He’s a lot more dependent in winter.”
Jungkook jolts out of his thoughts. “What?”
“Taehyung. He’s a lot more dependent in winter. Especially on you.”
Taehyung falls backwards, submerging himself. He surfaces, lips pulled wide as he laughs and jumps onto Jimin’s back, toppling the both of them. Sunlight sparkles off of the water’s surface. Namjoon attempts to splash Hoseok but gets Seokjin instead. Hoseok dies of laughter and Seokjin shoves Namjoon’s head under until Taehyung selects him as his next victim.
“Yeah,” Jungkook says at last. “I guess.”
“It’s ok to miss that, Kook,” Yoongi says, nudging Jungkook’s knee. He takes a sip of his beer and lays down. “Now I’m gonna finish my beer and have a nap. Wake me when the beers are going around between us all.”
“Yeah yeah yeah old man.” Jungkook looks to the others again. Taehyung catches his gaze and starts waving madly. Jungkook hesitates.
He was brave in winter.
Taehyung is strong in summer.
Jungkook swallows. He can be brave in summer too. He can.
He stands and runs down to join them.
“Jungkookie!” Taehyung yells, laughing as Jungkook barrels into him. He wraps his arms around Jungkook and drops, dragging Jungkook under the water. They surface with a gasp and Jungkook shakes water from his hair. Taehyung laughs and shoves Jungkook away - only to bring him back again, eyes round, lips parted in awe.
“What?” Jungkook asks.
Taehyung is going soft and quiet, fingers gentle as they start to trace down Jungkook’s chest.
“Y-yah, hyung! What are you doing?”
Taehyung smiles broadly. “Diamonds. I want to paint diamonds. Jungkook, I want to paint diamonds! Flowers and - ”
Taehyung starts to laugh excitedly and points out the glimmering water droplets on Jungkook’s skin. “See? The sunlight likes you too, Jungkookie.”
They stay until the sun starts to set. They start to pack up their stuff and Seokjin sends Jungkook to find where Taehyung wandered off to.
Jungkook finds him on the rocky outcrop. He sits with his legs hanging out over the water, fingers under his thighs, face tipped towards the sun. Jungkook sits next to him and rests his head on Taehyung’s shoulder.
“The others are leaving.”
Taehyung hums and frees a hand to point at the sunset. “The sunset is pretty.”
Jungkook looks to Taehyung. He’s drenched in orange sunlight. The deja vu makes Jungkook’s stomach warm. “Did you hear me?”
“I heard you,” Taehyung says, smiling down at Jungkook. “Did you hear me?”
Jungkook looks back to the sunset. “Yeah, I did.” He frowns. “Hey, hyung.”
“Yeah, Kookie?” Taehyung says quietly.
“Why do you love summer so much?”
Taehyung blinks. “I dunno. Wanna give me a few minutes and I’ll come up with something cheesy for you?”
Jungkook snorts and rolls his eyes. “I’m good, cheers.”
Taehyung shrugs and finds Jungkook’s fingers. He starts to play with them as he thinks. “I - “ He stops and squeezes Jungkook’s hand. “I just like the warmth. And the sun. I like the light…” He turns his face to the sun again. “You’re warm, Jungkookie.”
“Yeah,” Taehyung says softly. He swallows and bows his head. “You are. It’s why - why - “
“Why what, hyung?” Jungkook sits up straighter and tries to see Taehyung’s face. “You don’t have to - “
“It’s why you’re safe.”
Jungkook doesn’t know what to make of that. “Safe?”
“Yeah. You’re safe.” Taehyung shrugs. “I don’t know how else to explain it. But to me, you’re safe.”
Taehyung starts to massage over his chest and somehow Jungkook knows not to push. He remembers to the studio that night, when Taehyung cried and cried, basically incomprehensible but for the messages he sent when he pressed panicked fingertips into Jungkook’s skin and clung to him. Jungkook remembers holding Taehyung upright, eyes wide as he tried to take it all in before his brain kicked in and he hugged Taehyung tight and brought him back down.
“Have you spoken to Seokjin yet?” he asks.
“No,” Taehyung whispers.
Jungkook nods. “Ok.”
“I don’t wanna go yet. Have you got your phone?”
“Um.” Jungkook checks his pocket. “Yeah, actually. Want me to tell them we’ll meet them back at the guest house.”
“Yeah,” Taehyung says. He starts to sway, humming to himself. “Summer is nice, Jungkookie.”
Jungkook laughs as he sends off the text. “You’ve mentioned, hyung.”
“Let’s make this summer perfect.”
Jungkook breathes in deep and closes his eyes. The heat of the day is fading but the night promises to be warm. “And how do you suggest we do that?”
“Well, firstly, let’s see what clubs Jeju has on offer.”
That night, Jungkook drinks enough that he is brave enough. He and Taehyung gravitate closer and closer, until they’ve possibly lost the others. They dance close, breathing the same air. Jungkook rests dark eyes on Taehyung - finds Taehyung staring back - and remembers the sunlight on the dip of Taehyung’s back earlier today, remembers how it highlighted the curve of his neck, remembers how it ran soft fingers over Taehyung’s features and rested on the swell of his bottom lip.
Yellow light flashes over them, like a mockery of the sun itself, but it’s enough.
Taehyung comes alive, solar flares going off in his eyes and sunlight bleeding into his skin and sunshine leaking from his mouth and Jungkook cups the back of Taehyung’s head at the same time Taehyung loops his arms around Jungkook’s neck.
Jungkook isn’t surprised to find Taehyung tastes like summer.
Taehyung wakes Jungkook just before sunrise. Jungkook grumbles, mostly out of severe disorientation because who what when, but he lets Taehyung drag him out of bed and up the stairs and out onto the roof entertainment area. They drag two seats over to the half wall and sit as close together as possible.
“Sunrise is in a few minutes,” Taehyung whispers, finding Jungkook’s fingers. “Watch it with me.”
Jungkook nods wordlessly and directs his gaze to the horizon. He takes it higher, higher, higher. The moon is pale. The stars are vanishing. The night sky is sickly pale.
“I didn’t mean for it to happen like that.”
Jungkook tilts his head so that he can look at Taehyung out of the corner of his eye. “Hmm?”
“Last night,” Taehyung says. “Or this morning. Fuck, how long were we out for?” He shakes his head. “That’s not the point. I - “
Jungkook closes his eyes and tries to wriggle his fingers free of Taehyung’s grip. He fights to keep his voice level. He can be brave in summer, whatever the fuck that now means. “It’s fine, hyung. We were drunk.”
“No, that’s not what I mean,” Taehyung says quietly.
Jungkook doesn’t push because right now he isn’t sure he wants to know what Taehyung means. The sky continues to grow lighter and lighter, and then the sun is breaching the horizon and painting the earth in bright splashes of gold and orange and yellow. Jungkook tries not to look but he can’t help it. He turns his eyes Taehyung’s way. The sunlight creeps up his chest and highlights the line of his jaw, the cut of his cheeks, the bridge of his nose. His eyelashes sparkle with golden light - Taehyung closes his eyes against the light and tips his head back, breathing deep as he soaks in the sun and its warmth.
“You know, Jungkookie,” he murmurs. “When I say that’s not how I wanted it to happen, that’s not to say I didn’t want it to happen.”
Jungkook drops his gaze to his lap. “You don’t have to - “ He swallows. When the fuck did his life become some cliche chick flick?
“You like to look at me in the sunlight, don’t you, Jungkookie?”
Jungkook’s heart stops. This feels like a trap. He goes with the safest reaction. Anger. “You know what, fuck this.” He makes to stand. Taehyung’s hands fall on him and pull him back into his seat. “Fuck. Taehyung - “
Taehyung keeps his gaze set on the horizon. “You know why I think I like summer so much?” He tilts his head, hair brushing across his forehead, and smirks at Jungkook. “Because I’m selfish and I like having your eyes on me only.” He laughs and holds Jungkook’s hand to his chest. “Relax, Kookie. Watch the sunrise with me.”
“I already agreed I would,” Jungkook says tightly.
Taehyung starts to hum and sway side to side. “I know. I just like to hear you say it.” He starts to clap his hand with Jungkook’s. “Will you do me another favour, Jungkook?”
Jungkook doesn’t answer for some time. His mind draws contrasts between Taehyung in winter and Taehyung in summer. Taehyung painting with his hands and Taehyung wanting to burn his work to the ground. Taehyung laughing so hard he cries and Taehyung crying so hard he can’t breathe. He looks at the Taehyung in front of him now - and sees the Taehyung he sat on the pier with at camping, the Taehyung he cuddled up with when the tent was too cold, the Taehyung he laughed with in the club, the Taehyung he played a tourist couple with, the Taehyung who -
Jungkook can be brave in summer.
Jungkook is brave in summer.
He tugs on Taehyung’s hand, leans over, cups Taehyung’s face, and slots their mouths together. Sunlight licks at the side of his face, warm and comforting and so fucking happy - just like the boy beneath him, who grins into the kiss and continues to hold Jungkook’s hand tightly to his chest.
“Hey, hyung,” Jungkook asks quietly. They’ve curled up in the one chair. The sun has long since risen. They soak up the morning rays, both ready to nod off again.
Taehyung tips his head back against Jungkook’s shoulder and hums, eyes closed.
“What was the favour you wanted?”
“Oh.” Taehyung smiles. “Don’t worry. I got what I wanted.”
Jungkook sits on the pier, knees to his chest and arms wrapped around his shins. The sun slowly dips lower and lower, painting the caps of the waves gold and orange and turning the waters a strange sort of green. Jungkook closes his eyes and tips his head back. The sea breeze ghosts over him, brushing over the bridge of his nose and sweeping his hair to the side.
Tomorrow they go home. Summer vacation ends in two weeks. Jungkook promised his parents he’d come home for a bit but he hasn’t even looked into dates and buses and all that shit. None of that matters now. He can hear the others laughing behind him at the picnic table. He’ll join them again in a moment, but for now -
Movement catches his attention. Jungkook cracks an eye open and glances left. Taehyung happens to meet his gaze and smiles. Jungkook isn’t surprised to see Taehyung’s face is also tipped towards the sky, but whilst Jungkook is lapping up the soft touch of the breeze, Taehyung is drinking in the sun. Jungkook smiles, so wide he almost laughs, and nudges Taehyung. He tries it Taehyung’s way. He tips his head back, closes his eyes, and drinks in the sun.