It's not a surprise to anyone that Taehyung and Jimin are getting married.
It is, however, a bit of a surprise to Taehyung how quickly they're getting married, but he's known they'd be together practically since they were born.
His mother probably knew before they were born.
There are things that bring people together, like fate, but this isn't that sort of arrangement.
It's a matter of politics.
The first time Taehyung sees Jimin is a month before their wedding day. He's seen pictures before, seen him on the internet only a few times (the boy is either very obedient or a master at avoiding scandals), but he's never talked to him. Maybe he should have. Honestly, he didn't even feel like a real person. Until this moment, Park Jimin has just been a non-playable character in a quest Taehyung hasn't quite made it to. A book that Taehyung's had on his shelf for years and somehow forgotten to read.
Now, Taehyung could touch him if he wanted to.
He won't, because that's creepy and weird and definitely uncalled for, but he could.
If he wanted to.
Park Jimin is cute in the way that an awkward teenager is cute. He's halfway between baby fat and the definition that comes with maturity, his face a little squishy but promising. His nose has a little bump in it, and his lips are almost too big for his face. Not that Taehyung has any room to judge. His ears stick out funny and he hasn't grown into his limbs yet, so he kind of stumbles around and prays he doesn't break anything. His mom says that his brother was just the same, but it's not reassuring because Namjoon is still the same and Taehyung doesn't want to have to worry about ruining dishes for the rest of his life.
Jimin holds out his hand. It's small and chubby and cute, his nails are nicely trimmed, but it's also shaking a little in the way that his voice doesn't when he says a short, "Hello, nice to meet you."
Taehyung feels a little bad. He's not scary, but he's really tall. Much taller than Jimin, at least, although looking at him it's probably not that hard. He wishes he could make himself a little smaller, if only to make Jimin more comfortable.
Not running into things as much would be a nice bonus.
Of course, Taehyung knows that it's probably less his physical size that's making Jimin's hand shake and more the fact that they're going to be married in a month.
The only reason Taehyung's not shaking is because Park Jimin is still making the transition from Semi-Known Entity to Physical Presence. Even seeing his mother bustling over the wedding plans for the past few months has not affected him as much as a short, rehearsed, over-polite sentence from this stranger that he's going to be spending the rest of his life with.
He's not so different from the people his parents rule. His life is in the hands of the government just as much, if not more.
Politics have determined his entire future, handed it to him in a neatly wrapped bow in the form of Park Jimin, and Taehyung would be unwise not to take it.
In all honesty, he's happy with the decision his parents have made for him. He has far more leeway than Namjoon-hyung when it comes to prospective partners. For example, gender.
Taehyung has known he was gay from a young age - maybe too young. But when you're surrounded by very physically fit bodyguards in all black day in and day out, you're bound to notice some things.
When he told Namjoon, his brother just laughed like the ass he is.
He's happy, though, that he's the second son. It would be...hard, being next in line for the throne. Namjoon has to make every decision for the sake of the country.
Taehyung just has to do this.
He doesn't need to produce an heir. He doesn't need to keep the family name going for the sake of politics, for the sake of making things easy for his children's children. He can marry whomever he pleases, as long as it's beneficial to his country also. Which is, honestly, still a fairly short list, but at least it’s longer than Namjoon’s.
It was decided that he would marry Jimin far before he was old enough to have an actual opinion on anything, but Taehyung trusts his mother's instincts almost as much as he trusts his own. He knows that she wouldn't hesitate to call it off if it seemed that Park Jimin was not a good fit for her son.
He wonders if Jimin has that sort of faith in his family.
He wonders what Jimin thinks about all of this.
He wonders if he and Jimin will ever actually fall in love, the way his parents did.
It's impossible to tell, but the walls behind Jimin's eyes make Taehyung think it might be a little harder than he's prepared for.
The wedding is a simple affair.
For Taehyung, at least.
For everyone else, no extravagance is spared. It's a party for them, for the country, a national affair, but Taehyung has trouble enjoying any of it through the butterflies in his stomach.
The only thing Taehyung really cares about is the food at the reception (his mother made sure to order all of Taehyung's favorites, and Taehyung made sure she ordered all of Jimin's, too) but the amount of time, effort, and money that went into this wedding is so much that it makes Taehyung's head hurt.
The ceremony is held in the gardens, not the ones that Taehyung likes to stroll through in the morning, the ones where Jimin talks to the gardeners and maybe sometimes Taehyung, but the big ones in the Arboretum, where the more interesting indigenous plants grow. Where it feels more like a fairy tale than real life.
Taehyung has always really liked these gardens, used to get lost in them when he was a kid. He would wander off for hours, irritating his guards and his mother and his father and also sometimes himself, when he got so lost even he didn't know where to go. Namjoon always knew where he was. Somehow. Would always know exactly where to find him. And he'd always say, "It's time to go home. Let's go together."
And they would.
Taehyung wonders if Jimin would know where to find him.
The past month has done very little to help Taehyung get any closer to his future husband. Jimin isn't shy, exactly. Not with anyone else, anyway. All he's heard from the staff is how lovely the prince is. He helps out in the kitchens when he can. He's on a first name basis with the gardeners. The other day, Taehyung was passing by one of the extra bedrooms only to see a glimpse of Jimin helping one of the maids make the bed.
Taehyung might have said something, gone in and made conversation, if it weren't for the fact that Jimin was taking great pains to avoid him.
It's not that Jimin doesn't like him. Taehyung doesn't think he does, anyway. Jimin doesn't even know him well enough to dislike him, unless he's one of those people that makes extreme assumptions based on first impressions. Which would be unfortunate because Taehyung doesn't really like those people.
But that seems against everything else about Jimin that Taehyung has observed so far.
Taehyung thinks that Jimin might just be having a little extra trouble adjusting to the idea of being married. They're young, only 16 (Jimin is turning 17 soon), and marriage isn't really on the agenda for most kids their age. He knows that the other kids in his class at school whisper about it a little bit behind his back, but as far as he's concerned it doesn't appear to be malicious. For the most part, they're just excited. More excited than Taehyung is. But he guesses that it makes sense. For them, it's just a party.
For Taehyung, it's his whole life.
For Jimin...who knows what it is.
But this marriage is a marriage of friendship. A joining of two countries on good terms.
Taehyung hopes that they can be friends, too.
They talked once, in the gardens after Jimin stopped talking with the gardeners.
"It's nice out here, isn't it?"
Jimin had seemed surprised to see him out there. To see anyone other than the gardeners and his own shadow. Taehyung didn't take it personally. "Yes, it is," he answers simply, smiling lightly. His face was illuminated by the sun as he looked up at Taehyung. Taehyung remembers that very clearly.
The season was just starting to flip the switch from summer into autumn, and Jimin was just sitting there on the stone bench in his hoodie and jeans, his black hair unstyled, cheeks red from washing his face in the morning and eyes a little puffy from sleep.
"It's a little early to be taking a stroll," Jimin had said casually.
Taehyung remembers trying to decide if that was a hint that Jimin wanted to be alone. "I often take strolls in the morning."
There was a moment of silence before Taehyung said, "I hope I'm not disturbing you."
"It's okay," Jimin had answered, and Taehyung is still confused about whether he was disturbing Jimin or not. "I just like it to be quiet in the morning."
So Taehyung had sat down on the ground at Jimin's feet, leaning his back against the bench, close enough that he could have leaned against Jimin's legs if he had wanted to.
He didn't, because that would have been weird and uncalled for, but he could have.
If he had wanted to.
Just based on that interaction, Taehyung thinks they could be friends.
He hasn't seen Jimin yet today. It's the Day. Taehyung's mother had spewed off some nonsense about not being able to see each other until the ceremony. Something about luck, or something stupid, because even at 16 Taehyung knows that a relationship isn't luck, it's hard work, and if it works it won't be because he didn't see Jimin until they met at the altar.
In reality, he's kind of glad they don't see each other because he doesn't think he could handle it if his husband ignored him on their wedding day.
It's the Day. Their Day.
They're not in love but some day, that's going to mean something.
It means something to Taehyung.
He wants to ask Jimin what it means to him.
He'll find out eventually.
There is no bride in this wedding, so they both walk aisle at the same time. It's better that way, Taehyung thinks. Puts them on the same level, right from the beginning. This may be Taehyung's country, but they're still walking in at the same time. Jimin isn’t behind Taehyung and Taehyung isn’t behind Jimin. They’re together.
He hopes this is how it always is.
Jimin looks nice, the way a teenager forced to dress up for a family photo looks nice. He's uncomfortable. Taehyung doesn't know him that well yet, but he's good at people. He can see the strain in the corner of Jimin's eyes, in the way he smiles. This isn't the smile he gives the cooks or the gardeners or the maids. It's not even the one he gave Taehyung out there on the bench.
Taehyung wants to smooth the strain away, if only because no one should deal with that kind of stress on their Day. He wants to brings his fingers up the corners of Jimin's eyes and rub his headaches away.
Now, he takes Jimin's hand, smoothing his thumb over the back of it, back and forth, back and forth, and Jimin might be thankful. He doesn't know Jimin well enough to tell, but it makes Taehyung feel better, so he continues through the sermon, through the vows, and before he knows if they're sealing the deal with an awkward kiss and the clapping is so loud it seems a little bit like the sky is falling.
Taehyung presses the memory into the folds of his brain. It means very little to him now.
But maybe one day it will mean more.
The reception passes by in a blur. The students from his classes, usually nameless but now suddenly close friends, come up and congratulate him. Taehyung makes sure to always introduce the people who greet them to Jimin, properly, without titles, because people know who Jimin is but they don't Know, and Jimin doesn't Know them at all.
Jimin is grateful.
Taehyung is able to tell.
There are some people from Jimin's country, also.
Taehyung has met Jimin's mother and father before, at least twice, at important functions. Their kingdom is smaller than the one Taehyung's family controls, but they're extremely vocal. Influential. Taehyung knows his parents consider them to be trustworthy. Almost friends.
Maybe definitely friends, if political jargon didn't get in the way.
Jimin's older brothers are also there, causing trouble in a good natured way, and Taehyung immediately likes them. He likes Jimin with them. He's so much more comfortable. Taehyung almost wishes this marriage happened the other way around, where Taehyung traveled to Jimin's home, because Taehyung feels like it might be easier for him to open up around Jimin's family.
He thinks about being so far away from his parents and brother and he feels so sad.
Jimin must be very strong, to be able to keep a happy face on whenever important people are around.
Taehyung's almost glad that Jimin avoided him for the past month if it means that Jimin didn't pretend around him.
Pretending is a step away from lying. Taehyung understands, but he'd rather start off their relationship on a cleaner slate.
Jimin is still going to pretend, though. Jimin is the sort of person to hold back so that others don't worry.
Taehyung worries anyway.
That might be what Jimin needs.
Someone to worry about him whether he wants them to or not.
To Taehyung, that sounds an awful lot like a mother's job, but he's a Husband now, and he doesn't know what Husbands are supposed to do, so he carefully files that away under his mental list of Husband Duties.
He thinks he'll ask his dad about it later.
He doesn't have to worry right now, though, not when Jimin is with his family and friends. His smile lights up the whole room. His entire presence is brighter than the light of the chandeliers overhead.
"He'll be a good match, don't you think?" Namjoon slides up beside him, grinning so his dimples show. His hair is shaved on the sides and bleached blond. Taehyung remembers his mother's face when she'd first seen it.
He smiles into the glass of wine in his hand. "I hope so."
They both look at Jimin in the the middle of the ballroom, dancing with one of his small cousins, her shiny shoes scuffing his own as she stands on them. Jimin stomps, extra exaggeratedly, and she wails in delight loudly enough that her mother moves to shush her. Jimin deftly twirls the girl away and grabs the aunt instead. "May I have this dance?" he asks cheekily.
"Rascal," his aunt says fondly, face a little flushed with wine and embarrassment.
Taehyung is grinning from the side of the room. "I think he will be, actually." He nibbles his lip. "After he gets used to everything."
"You both will have some things to get used to," Namjoon points out casually, smiling at a duke and duchess as they pass by.
"But he's so far away from home! His family won't be as close as mine is." Taehyung swirls the wine in his glass, a nervous tick.
"You won't exactly be next door."
His parents have gifted him a nice estate a few cities away, not quite secluded but in a small, sleepy town, the kind that Taehyung has always wanted to experience. Nothing is too far nowadays, not with planes, trains, and automobiles, but it will definitely be something new and different.
Taehyung is equal parts nervous and excited. "I'll still be closer, though." Not only that, but some of the staff from the castle will be following them to the new estate. Taehyung has lived in the castle since his birth. He knows almost all of the staff. He hopes that at least some of the people that follow them are the ones that Jimin has befriended. Hoseok the gardener, maybe. He should ask.
If Jimin finds it easier to talk with the staff than with Taehyung, then, well, that sucks, but Taehyung is going to do his best make him as comfortable as possible.
If the the past month has been frustrating, and the Day has been slightly off, that night is just...
They're both tired, enjoying the party to the fullest but on their own, with different people. They barely acknowledged each other’s presence during the reception, unless you count eyeing one another the whole evening.
Taehyung spent a lot of time talking with Jimin's brothers, actually. He was very careful not to ask any personal questions; he'd rather Jimin answered those himself. But he asked about favorites. Foods, colors, music, movies, books. The kind of things you tell strangers on the bus.
He doesn't ask, but he learns that Jimin is somewhat afraid of thunderstorms but likes it when it rains. Jimin can't sit still for too long before he starts getting antsy. His parents put him in dance classes and fencing when he was little to try and siphon off some of his energy. Jimin wants to dye his hair orange.
Taehyung thinks Jimin would look good with orange hair.
He doesn't know what Jimin was doing during the few times where he was out of Taehyung's line of sight, but he hopes that Jimin was at least interested in him enough to ask Namjoon a few questions. Not that Namjoon would ever tell him if that were the case.
Although, thinking about it, it might be better if Jimin didn't. Namjoon has no qualms telling anyone about every terrible thing Taehyung has ever done. It's just good dinner conversation to him. The verbal equivalent of his mother pulling out baby pictures. Hey, have you heard the story of that one time Taehyung got stuck in a tree and cried for hours before someone found him? Well, you have now.
Jimin has his entire life to figure out exactly how lame Taehyung is. He'd rather they didn't start too early.
But maybe hearing about Taehyung's ridiculous escapades as a child would help break the ice.
As it is, the room is practically chilly from their awkwardness alone. It's not just Jimin either. It's Taehyung who's hesitating to step through the door. Jimin is already bustling quietly around the room, looking extremely tired if the set of his shoulders means anything. All of their belongings are in suitcases, ready to leave in the morning when they wake up for their...for their new life together. So Jimin has to rifle through bags and more bags to find the stuff he needs for bed. Taehyung can hear him muttering to himself softly, mildly berating himself for not leaving out the stuff he needs. Taehyung's mother has set his clothes for the morning on the dresser, his sleep clothes on the bed, and he kind of wishes Jimin's mom were here instead of on the road back home so that Jimin's clothes were sitting right next to his, if only for Jimin's own comfort.
Taehyung goes through the motions of getting ready for bed on autopilot. Jimin is ready before he is, out of his overly formal wedding clothes and into a t-shirt and boxers, makeup washed off except for the little smudges of eyeliner under his eyes that he's probably too tired to care about. He ruffles his hair out of it's styling on his way out of the bathroom and slides under the sheets without a care in the world.
If there's one thing Taehyung is grateful for, it’s that not only is Jimin not making a big deal out of them sharing the same bed, but he also seems completely content to just...sleep. Taehyung would have been really surprised if Jimin suddenly wanted to do the dirty or something, based off of everything else he's noticed, but they're horny teenagers so what the hell does Taehyung know? Anything could happen.
He really hopes not, but anything could happen.
Taehyung slides into bed, watches Jimin set his alarm in the morning a little early so he has time to shower. Taehyung sets his own a little later. He doesn't smell too bad, and he'd rather just take one shower after their flight instead of taking two. He hates sitting around in travel grime. Least favorite.
They're both still lying there. Awake. Taehyung is staring at the ceiling, thinking thinking thinking and it's annoying, really. He'd rather sleep than think almost always. At least he's not alone. Taehyung knows that Jimin is awake too from the quiet, frustrated huffs every once in awhile on his side of the bed.
"How do you feel about flying, husband?" Taehyung asks softly, almost to no one but not quite.
Jimin's back stiffens. His whole body. Taehyung can feel it through the mattress just as well as he can see it in the semi-darkness of the temporary bedroom. He almost wonders if Jimin won't answer him. Exactly how far is Jimin going to take the avoidance. It's frustrating. Taehyung is too tired.
"I like flying," Jimin answers.
Taehyung isn't surprised that it was the casual husband that made Jimin uncomfortable. It was out of his mouth without a thought, but it might have been too soon. He can't wait until they get to the point where the word doesn't make either of them tense like they're about to be assaulted. His filter is gone. Maybe he shouldn't be talking.
Keep it safe. "What's your favorite color?"
Jimin snorts a little bit. It might be cute eventually. "Starts with b and ends with loo." It's a lot of words considering how late it is and how sleepy the room feels. They both want to sleep so badly. Taehyung can tell.
Taehyung hums. "Ah. I like green, too."
Another snort. It's growing on him. "Dumb joke."
"M'not funny after midnight."
"That's a shame."
Taehyung laughs a little, lazily, sleepily into his pillow, more smile than sound. "So, you only like me because I'm funny?"
"I'm not even sure if I like you at all."
It's said...just a shade too seriously for Taehyung not to feel the brunt of his words. Not meanly, but not kindly either. Like a smack that hurts a little more than intended because it hits a sensitive place. That's not even a metaphor, that's exactly what it is.
Park Jimin seems to lose his filter at night, too.
It's a minute, at least, before Taehyung can trust himself to answer. "Harsh." He keeps his voice light, but the tense atmosphere his silence has created has to have clued Jimin in on the fact that he's hit a nerve.
Jimin must know, because he doesn't reply.
Doesn't ask Taehyung any questions that might lighten the mood.
Taehyung turns in the bed so he's facing the opposite wall.
"I like blue, too."
It's a long night.
Taehyung wakes up with the sun.
It's unusual that Taehyung is up so early, especially when he was up so late and was so emotionally exhausted as he had been the night before. When he wakes up, he feels the stress of the last night, the last month, feels it settled in his bones now that he's letting himself acknowledge it. His head still feels heavy. His too long limbs want to settle into the mattress and stay there forever.
But the more Taehyung wakes up, the more he realizes that maybe it wasn't the sun that woke him up.
Maybe it was Jimin.
Jimin isn't in bed with him anymore. He's not too far away. Taehyung can hear him still, probably sitting in the bathroom, on the toilet.
Taehyung is awake.
It doesn't matter that they don't know each other well. There's nothing worse than crying in a bathroom by yourself. Taehyung strongly believes that crying deserves company, even if it's silent. But not everyone subscribes to that belief. Taehyung knows this, so when he pulls himself out of bed, running a hand over his face to rub away the sleep, and makes his way to the slightly open bathroom door, he makes enough noise to betray his presence, and then he waits.
"Shit." Jimin's voice is muffled by something, probably his own hand. Taehyung swallows. "Shit, come in."
With Jimin's consent, Taehyung pushes the door open a little further and slips inside.
Jimin is sitting there, still in his bedclothes, towel in one hand and travel clothes in the other, crumpled in his fist. His hair is a mess, sticking flat to one side of his head, and the make up that had been smudged under his eyes has migrated down his face and been rubbed at so it's smeared over his cheeks. It's impossible to tell if the residue left around his eyes is eyeliner or dark circles, because Jimin looks so. Tired.
And sad. There is a snotty wad of toilet paper sitting on the bathroom counter and tears are running down his face.
Taehyung wants to give him a hug but that's weird so he doesn't.
"I..." Jimin's voice cracks. He takes a deep breath. "I can't figure out how to work the shower."
He could have woken up Taehyung, and Taehyung would tell him so if that was actually the problem. So he just moves to sit on the counter beside where Jimin sits on the toilet, left butt cheek slipping a little into the sink, but he's not sitting for comfort, at least not his own.
When Jimin reaches for the toilet paper again, Taehyung gently holds his wrist to stop him and then opens one of the drawers underneath him and pulls out a travel pack of floral printed tissues (not his choice). Jimin sniffles gratefully as he takes one. "Sorry." He wipes at his cheeks. He misses a lot of the makeup but it's alright.
"Don't be sorry."
"No, I'm..." Another deep breath. "I'm sorry about last night." His voice is wavering, but this, this apology, is firm. There's no room for wobbling. "I shouldn't have said that. I...I like you." He swallows. "You've been nothing but nice to me, and everyone has only...mostly nice things to say about you."
"I knew you talked to Namjoon-hyung."
Jimin smiles. It's watery but it's okay. "I just...didn't want you to still be hurting because I said a few words I didn't really mean."
"Apologies are good band-aids." Taehyung smiles too, softer than he usually does, because Jimin is soft, almost fragile at the moment. "I hope that's not why you're sitting in here by yourself."
"And I really hope it's not because you can't figure out the shower."
He laughs. "Nope. That was just...the straw that broke the camel’s back. Can't even figure out the shower.” He laughs again, but it sounds more like a strangled sob. “Everything is different to the point where I can't even figure out the damn shower."
Taehyung pulls his legs up, crossing them to sit Indian-style, the bones of his ankles digging a little into the ceramics of the counter but he doesn't mind. "Do you want to talk about it?"
A part of him expects the answer to be no. Jimin has been rather closed off, and he's more vulnerable now, but that doesn't mean his walls are down.
But maybe they are, because he leans back against the back of the toilet, and he says, "I miss home, mostly." He swallows again. Taehyung sees his Adam's apple bob. "I...I've never even been in a relationship, and now I'm married? I knew it was going to happen but..."
"Yes!" This is the first time Jimin has looked at him throughout their conversation. "Everything is different. This month has been so different, because you're real. You're not just in the background anymore. It's..."
Taehyung grins. "Different."
"Yeah." Jimin smiles a little too, a little less watery than before. "It's different."
"Maybe 'different' can be our 'always.'"
"Don't." Jimin smacks him.
The room is lighter.
"I'll get used to it," Jimin says after a while.
"It's okay if it takes you a while," Taehyung tells him. "But avoiding me probably doesn't help."
Jimin doesn't pretend not to be guilty. "Sorry...I thought that...if I avoided you it would be...less real?"
"There is no one within this entire castle that knows more about what you're going through than I do." Jimin sighs, but Taehyung keeps going. "I don't know everything, because this is my country, my castle, my family, but pretty much everything else. Everything else I can connect with at least a little bit better than the gardeners."
"The gardener is nice!"
"He's coming with us," Taehyung says absently.
Jimin perks up. "He is? Hoseok-hyung?"
Taehyung smiles. "Mhmm."
"I asked him a few weeks ago and he said he wasn't!"
"I am a prince," Taehyung says, mockingly scandalized. "I have connections."
"Okay, I asked my dad."
His smiles brightens, big and real and genuine, and Taehyung barely even notices the makeup still on his face. It falls a little, suddenly, not into sadness but into confusion. "Why?"
Shit, Taehyung didn't think about this very well. "You...liked him?" That sounds bad. "I mean, you guys are friends! I wanted you to have people you know whenever we leave! The cook has to stay and the maid you're friends with has a family here so she couldn't come."
Jimin is staring at him.
"Shit, sorry, is that too much?" Taehyung is so ready to backtrack. He will backtrack to the womb. Goodbye world. See you later.
"No," Jimin says, right before Taehyung is about to start ascending from the mortal plane. "It's not too much. It's nice. I didn't know you had noticed."
"I wasn't the one avoiding you," Taehyung points out, not harshly, but maybe a little pointedly. "It seems like you talked to everyone in this castle except for me."
"I haven't talked to your brother."
"That's a lie."
"That's a lie," Jimin admits, smiling.
"You've talked to Namjoon-hyung more than you've talked to me! And Namjoon-hyung is so lame! I'm much better company."
Jimin makes a face. "I thought Namjoon-hyung was fine company."
"But I'm better company, that's the whole point," Taehyung says, sitting primly on the bathroom sink.
"I'll have to trust you on that, I guess."
The atmosphere gets quiet again, less tense than before, but it's still there, right underneath. Taehyung doesn't want to pry anymore than he has, but he also doesn't want Jimin to feel like Taehyung wouldn't listen again. "You don't have to tell me everything, but I'll listen if you need me to." He grins. "I'm also very good at distracting."
Jimin hums, taking a deep breath. Taehyung wonders what Jimin sounds like when he sings.
He bets it would be really nice.
"I might take you up on that later." He checks the time on his phone. "Maybe not right now. I'm already running late."
"I'm running early." Taehyung's alarm isn't supposed to go off for another half hour.
He laughs. A full laugh. A belly laugh. It's warm. "Maybe you've got time, but I don't."
"We do." Taehyung says. "We've got a lot of time."
Jimin looks at him for a seconds. Then he nods, nose a little pink.
Taehyung stands up. "Let's me show you how to use the shower."
The ride to the airport goes quickly. They don't have to go through security because it's a private flight, but it's still...a hassle.
There are paparazzi waiting for them by the doors. There's very little Taehyung wants to do less than smile for the cameras right now. He's tired, Jimin's tired. Jimin's eyes are still red and puffy under carefully applied makeup. Jimin does a better job of pretending than Taehyung does, even when Taehyung probably feels better in the long run. Or maybe Jimin just likes cameras. Taehyung will have to remember to ask later.
Things feel better, though. Even if Taehyung feels tired, things feel better. He doesn't want to say he's glad that he caught Jimin crying, but he's glad that choked feeling has dissipated. He isn't sure what he would do if he had to just sit there, stewing in it, for the entirety of the 2 hour flight. It's not that long for a flight, but it's too long for that. No thank you.
Jimin smiles right up until the doors close behind him. "Oh my god." His entire bearing dims a little bit. "I hate that."
That answers that question.
"You seemed right at home," Taehyung points out. He knows the way to the boarding area by heart. He could do it with his eyes closed. Jimin is forced to follow. His hands clench and unclench a little, reaching every once in awhile, like he wants to hold onto Taehyung so he doesn't get lost. Taehyung wouldn’t mind, but he's not sure they’re at the point where hand holding would feel anything less than unnatural.
"Cameras are exhausting." Jimin sticks close instead. His feet almost hit the back of Taehyung's carry on. The bodyguards around them should be enough to make Jimin feels safe, but it's probably more just a natural reaction to being in a new place than any sort of actual fear. "You've got to make a beeline, get through it as fast as possible." He makes little hand motions that Taehyung appreciates.
"But then you're rude."
"I know! It's the worst!" He groans dramatically. "Trying to deal with a pushy cameraman and a nosy interviewer while also trying to talk nicely about someone you don't like?"
"The worst!" Jimin grins. "There's a reason I'm not on television much."
Taehyung hums. He'd wondered. "Why is that? You're a perfect angel?"
"That," Jimin agrees. "And also I told my mom that if she made me appear on too many television broadcasts I'd pick a wedgie or something on camera."
Taehyung's pretty sure he's done that before. "There are worse things."
"Please don't tell my mom."
Surprisingly so, after the wall Jimin's had up for the past month or so. Maybe it took a lot for Jimin to build that wall. Maybe it wasn't his normal self at all. Maybe he's naturally open and friendly, like he is now. And it was just...
It was just Taehyung.
It makes sense, after seeing him more or less charm the pants off of the entire wait-staff, but it still stings. Just a little bit.
But it's better now, and that's all that Taehyung cares about really.
This conversation is really nice. Even without the past month, it's still really easy. Easier than it should be. Taehyung is also friendly, also open, but things don't always click, not even between two open and friendly people.
Easy bodes well.
Jimin takes a window seat on the plane.
There is a lot of space, a lot of seats. Which one does Taehyung take. Would it be awkward to sit right next to Jimin? Would it be awkward to sit down somewhere else? What does he do. His mother didn't prepare him for this.
Jimin makes the decision for him. "Stop making that face," he says flatly, patting the seat beside him.
Taehyung stores his carry on and sits down. Jimin is staring at the window, even though all he can see right now is asphalt and the people running around, scrambling to make sure the plane can take off without sudden death or spontaneous combustion.
"Do you like flying?" Jimin asks.
"Not particularly." Taehyung shrugs. "I prefer driving."
Jimin grimaces. "Sitting still for that long hurts me, both physically and emotionally."
"But on a car ride, you can stop and get ice cream. Just pull off of the highway whenever you want and pick up a Blizzard from DQ and suddenly the world is a better place."
Jimin is still looking out of the window. "Ice cream doesn't help my ass."
"Besides." Jimin taps his fingers against the arm rest a little. "I'm more of a milkshakes guy."
Taehyung looks at him dumbly. "A Blizzard is a milkshake."
"Not if you can't drink if through a straw," says Jimin incredulously, like he's put off by the very thought.
"What kind of rule...you can't just make rules up!" Flabbergasted.
Jimin sticks his tongue out. His tongue! Out. At Taehyung. How unprincely. "Someone has to."
"I want a divorce."
He pretends it doesn't hurt when Jimin throws his shoe at him. "You punk, you're stuck with me forever." His voice hardly even wobbles.
"I'm glad." Taehyung smiles his brightest smile. He's joking, but he's not, and he needs Jimin to know. "I don't know you very well, but I'd rather be stuck with you forever than that girl staring me down at the reception."
Jimin goes back to looking out the window. Taehyung thinks he might be blushing just a little bit but he can't be sure. "There were many girls staring you down at the reception, Taehyung, you looked very nice."
"There were more people staring at you."
Jimin's laugh is disbelieving but Taehyung knows this is fact because he counted. "You looked hot. You have to accept it."
"Accepted." He laughs. "Although it might have had more to do with the fact that none of them knew who I was."
"Hot and mysterious. The complete package."
"All that and a bag of chips."
Taehyung laughs. "If there was a bag of chips in that reception my mother would have had a conniption."
"I'll sneak some in, next time," Jimin says casually. "Crinkle the bag really loudly just so she knows I've got the goods.When I open them, the whole room will smell like potatoes and grease and trans fats."
"It's not like you're going to get married again," Taehyung says, only realizing how true that is after the words have already flown out of his mouth.
Jimin chews on his lip for a second. Taehyung can't tell if he's digesting this fact or if he's trying to figure out how to respond or if he's thinking about what an idiot his brand new husband is or—
"When's the next reception?" Jimin says easily, after only a few seconds of Taehyung panicking. "I'll take care of catering."
Another second, before Taehyung can properly analyze Jimin's fragile emotional state from that response, he decides to just go with it and worry about it later. "An entire evening sustained by Lay's chips and a 2-litre."
"Hey, I know how to throw a party," his husband says, disgusted at the insult. "There would be at least three 2-litres of different soda, and one lemonade for the people who are healthy or whatever."
"Of course." Taehyung nods. "Maybe even a large pizza or two."
"At least two." Jimin is looking out of the window again, chin propped up on his hand, short fingers covering his smile as he watches the employees scramble to get everything finalized so that they can leave. "The key to these events is variety."
"Ah." Taehyung bites his lips, trying to control his smile. "Have you thrown many of these events?"
"Oh, hundreds. I'm the major event coordinator back home."
"Everyone must roll around instead of walk."
"It's balanced out by lots of exercise."
Taehyung can't keep himself from grimacing. "Exercise is the worst. No, thank you."
"Exercise is wonderful, excuse you." Jimin looks at Taehyung incredulously, brow furrowed and lips pursed in an expression that's more ridiculous than anything. "It's what gets me out of bed in the morning."
"Oh no." Taehyung rolls his eyes. "Are you one of those people that wakes up early to go run or lift weights or something? Because I'm still waiting for that divorce."
Jimin smacks him on the arm. "Exercise is an important part of life, Kim Taehyung. It makes it so you don't become one with the couch cushions."
"Have you talked with my mom recently? Because I'm pretty sure she's said that at least a million times."
"Your mom is a smart woman." Jimin's eyes crinkle as he smiles. "She makes good tea, too. I didn't expect that."
Taehyung gapes at him. "You had tea with my mother?"
Jimin hums affirmatively.
"Have you gone hunting with my father, too?" he grumbles.
Jimin scrunches up his nose at the thought. It's really cute. "I'm not big on hunting, actually." He smirks at Taehyung. "Although we have chanced upon each other in the library. Did you know your father has exceptional taste in books?" He blinks innocently.
"I can't believe you're friends with my entire family," Taehyung wails. "First loser Namjoon-hyung and then my loser parents! I'm the coolest."
"I think loser is genetic."
"Bitch, it might be." Taehyung sniffs haughtily. "But I'm the best loser in my family."
Jimin barks out a laugh, one, sharp and loud and from his belly, throwing his head back against the headrest.
The pilot comes on the intercom and tells the two of them to buckle their seat belts. Jimin goes back to looking out of the window, smile not quite fading, and as the plane makes its way down the runway and up into the air, Taehyung might even be a little bit excited for the future.
It’s a big house. That’s Taehyung’s first thought when they pull up.
Not as big as the castle obviously, but probably about the same size as where they go for vacations sometimes. More of a mansion than a house, with lots of green lawn and a dark blue roof and soft white stone and the promise of a really nice garden in the back (Taehyung’s parents know how much he loved the garden) and Taehyung is kind of itching to go check it out. Would Jimin like to come with him? Jimin really liked the garden at home.
The garden might have to wait though.
All of the staff is waiting for them by the doors, standing in neat rows on the lawn to welcome them, and although there are some familiar faces, for the most part there are plenty of new friends to make. It gives Taehyung a good feeling. Starting over. But...not. Just enough old to offset the new. To keep things from being too scary.
Taehyung turns to grin at Jimin as he gets out of the car, but Jimin barely spares him a smile before going to greet the staff. He looks nervous, a little green, but by the time he reaches the first person, a smiling man with dirt on his forehead named Lee Jinki that Taehyung is left to assume is a groundskeeper, all unease is gone from Jimin’s face, his shoulders, and he’s smiling back just as brightly.
It’s a little worrying how well Jimin can turn it on and off, but Taehyung shouldn’t be surprised when they grew up the same, knee deep in politics and forced into smiles and nice suits.
Jimin makes his way down the line, greeting everyone. It’s not until he breezes up the main stairs and smiles at Taehyung over his shoulder before going inside that Taehyung realizes Jimin barely looked at him at all.
“Welcome home, sir,” Jinki says when Taehyung greets him, bowing politely.
“Home.” Taehyung takes a deep breath and smiles. “Home sounds nice.”
“Jimin?” he asks one night, lying in bed, talking to the back of Jimin’s head. Jimin is sitting at the desk, writing a letter by hand to someone that Taehyung has never met.
There are boxes piled up in the corner, half unpacked. Taehyung’s shoes are thrown haphazardly in his closet and all of Jimin’s hoodies are piled up on the dresser by the bed. It’s been a week and Taehyung still has an entire box full of clothes he has to put away. Don’t even get him started on his books and papers and toiletries. His mother would be appalled. The only thing that he’s completely unpacked are all of his picture, carefully hung on the walls and set on tables around the house.
But the staff is nice. Smaller than Taehyung is used to, which just means that he can know everyone, and doesn’t have to settle for knowing most of them. And he can know about their families, and their pets, and their lives. Not just their faces and names and job description.
He thinks he’s excited.
Is Jimin excited? They can be excited together.
Taehyung watches as Jimin finishes his sentence, stabbing the ending period with extra fervor, pursing his lips a little. Finally Jimin smiles at him over his shoulder. “Yes, Taehyung?” He looks nice in the lamp light, kind of tired. But nice.
“Do you like it here?”
Jimin pauses, eyes flitting up to the ceiling lazily as he carefully considers his words. He smiles. “Yeah, I think I do.” And then he goes back to writing.
Taehyung settles into to bed, pulling the covers up by his chin, and falls asleep to the sound of Jimin’s pencil scratching against paper.
Jimin is gone before Taehyung wakes up.
It’s been awhile since Taehyung woke up with the sun.
Jimin is beside him this time, his hands clutching at his face and the blanket tossed aside sometime during the night. Taehyung is careful not to wake him as he gets out of bed.
His bare feet dig into the lush carpet as he quietly waddles around, trying to remember how to walk in the dim light of the morning, pulling on some slippers and throwing a sweatshirt on over the t-shirt he slept in before walking out the door and into the hallway.
He stops by the kitchen first, where one of the cooks hands him a muffin and a glass of juice and ruffles his bed head, tutting like the mother she is. Taehyung thinks her name is Heeyeon. He’s almost certain but he’s also half awake so he thanks her genuinely and profusely without using her name and then wanders off through the mansion until he reaches his destination.
Taehyung has always loved the garden.
This one isn’t the one that he grew up getting lost in, but it’s a close second, carefully cultivated under his mother’s watchful eye because she knows how to make her son happy.
He’s always been grateful. Now he’s grateful and he misses his mom.
There’s something to be said about being outside in the morning. When the sun is bright but not blinding and the autumn-soon-winter chill is kept at bay with layers of cotton and fleece and a good feeling. Taehyung breathes in, the air is crisp, and he thinks this might be his favorite thing.
By this point, they have been here long enough that Taehyung has wandered the garden a fair few times, usually in the evenings or just after lunch right before his food stupor hits. There is usually a lot of bustle, at least three staff members flitting about for Taehyung to chat with. Jongdae, one of the waitstaff, often hides in one of the trees until Junmyeon comes and scolds him, but until then Taehyung thinks that Jongdae is pretty good company.
Now, though, it’s soft and quiet, and Taehyung is soft and quiet, and everything fits tightly and comfortably together.
Taehyung doesn’t come across another soul until he’s deep in the garden, his mind far away, and realizes there is a man there humming as he waters flowers.
“Hello,” Taehyung calls.
It takes another few tries before he manages to get the gardener’s attention. The other man turns, pulling out one of his earphones, and Taehyung laughs because Kanye West seems a little abrasive for the early morning.
The man looks embarrassed. “Ah, sorry, sir.” He bows. His hair is short, black, unstyled in the early morning, but his skin glows and his presence is big and Taehyung thinks he rather likes him.
Taehyung squints at the groundskeeper’s face, going through the list of names in his head. Jinki is the head gardener, and Taehyung hasn’t talked with many of the others, but he knows this man’s name for sure. “Hoseok-ssi, right?”
“Yes.” Hoseok grins. “You can probably call me hyung, if you’d like.”
“You’re the friendly sort.”
“So are you, if I’ve heard correctly.”
Taehyung smiles, taking a seat on a stone bench near where the older man is standing. “You’re friends with Jimin, I know. Does he call you hyung?” Taehyung remembers Jimin calling him that, a long time ago. In the bathroom where Taehyung thought things might become different. That feels so long ago.
His smile becomes a little more brittle.
“He does,” Hoseok confirms.
“Then so will I.” Taehyung sits criss-cross on the bench, holding onto onto his ankles and trying to keep the chilly air from going up his billowy pants.
“Does Jiminie talk about me often?”
“I wouldn’t know.”
Hoseok smiles - or, not exactly smiles, but his face softens, his sharp edges smooth. “Ah.”
“Ah,” Taehyung repeats. He smiles. He doesn’t think it reaches his eyes. “You don’t sound surprised.”
“Jimin is only good at talking when the talking doesn’t matter.”
Taehyung doesn’t know what that means, but Hoseok says it with such certainty that he doesn’t feel the need to evaluate whether he agrees or not. “He’s just getting use to the new situation, I think.” He pulls his legs into his chest, resting his chin on his knee. “It’s really new. A lot to take in. Married life is hard.”
“Hard for you both, I would imagine.” Hoseok turns, refocusing on the plants he’s paid to care for, but taehyung would kind of like a friend right now more than he would like a gardener.
“Sit with me?” he asks, his voice small.
Hoseok pauses. “I could use a break,” he says after a moment, even though it’s early enough that he surely hasn’t been out here for that long. He groans as he sits down. “Old bones,” he comments when Taehyung looks at him.
“You can’t be that much older than I am, hyung,” Taehyung tells him with a smile.
The other man ignores him. “I’m old and wise.”
“Like an elephant.”
“Like an elephant.” Hoseok snorts. “Tell this old man your heart.”
“My heart is empty,” Taehyung says with a blank face. He shivers a little in the cold of the morning.
Hoseok runs a hand through his hair. “If anything, I’d say you have the opposite problem.” He crinkles his nose at the younger boy. “Your heart is too full.”
Taehyung keeps his face blank. “I’m overflowing with emotion.”
“That’s the spirit.”
He laughs, breaking into a grin. He hides it in the crook of his elbow and peers over his arm at his new friend. “I don’t know if it’s a problem,” he mumbles.
“What was that?”
“I don’t think it’s a problem,” Taehyung says a little louder, raising his head so the sound isn’t muffled. “It’s just inconvenient at the moment.”
Hoseok ruffles Taehyung’s hair familiarly, and maybe Taehyung should be offended but mostly he’s just comforted. “It’ll be a huge asset later, don’t you think?”
“I don’t think loving too much will ever be a problem,” Taehyung hums thoughtfully. “Some people are just harder to love.” Some people don’t give it back. His stomach drops. He hopes that isn’t the case.
Honestly, he’s probably overreacting, because things really are better than they were before. Jimin talks to him fairly regularly, usually initiates conversation, but Taehyung can’t help but feel a little jerky, a little like he’s walking on eggshells waiting for the next time Jimin wants to see him, and it’s exhausting to be ready and waiting all the time. But Jimin is easing into a new lifestyle, and Taehyung can stay ready and waiting until finally they both can breathe freely together.
It’ll even out.
Taehyung firmly believes that.
“It might not be a problem,” Hoseok is saying, and it pulls Taehyung out of his own head. “It might just make things tricky.”
“Things are always harder when you care about how they end up,” Hoseok tells him with a shrug. “Jimin knows a lot about that.”
Taehyung messes with the drawstring on his sweatshirt. “Jimin cares a lot?”
Hoseok laughs, more hot air than noise. “Jimin makes things harder.”
“I wish he would talk with me more.” Maybe he could help. Taehyung wants to help.
“Honestly, Taehyung-ah.” Hoseok pats him on the back, and it’s not exactly soothing but it reminds him that Hoseok is there. “You might have to talk first.”
That’s what Taehyung doesn’t want to hear. He hides his face in his arms again. “I don’t know if he’ll want to listen.”
Hoseok hears him, this time. “Maybe you’ll just have to make him.”
Home will be a little harder than Taehyung anticipated.
It’s more than just moving in boxes and unpacking clothes. It’s more than talking to the staff and filling out paperwork and setting up family pictures. It’s more than shoving his dirty socks under the bed.
His family has lived in the castle for generations. Decades of life seeping into the floorboards and the stone and the wood and mortar. He’s had enough time to get settled, to breakdown the cardboard boxes and mess up his room and make friends with the staff, but the house feels a little empty without the memories of sliding down the banisters to color the walls.
(He amends this almost immediately. Minho the security guard gives him tips.)
The mansion is more objectively homey than the castle Taehyung was raised in. But Taehyung was right in his first impression. It’s big. Too big for two teenage boys who are married and barely know each other. Too big for two teenage boys who are a mess and need to get to know each other.
Taehyung thinks about this while he sits in this kitchen, hopped up on the counter with a mug of hot chocolate in his hands.
"You're not supposed to be here, your Highness," the cook, Kyungsoo, tells him flatly, even as he makes him midnight pancakes.
"Hyung, please enable my late night snacking."
"This is a full meal."
"Depends on how many pancakes I eat."
"You're going to eat all of them," Kyungsoo says, unimpressed as he puts more pancakes on the plate by the stove. His eyebrows furrow. “Actually.” He takes his phone out of the pocket of his apron, setting the now empty pan on a different burner while he types something out with slow fingers. “You’re only eating half of them.”
“Aw, Hyung, are you going to join me?” He reaches his feet out toward the older man in a lazy mockery of reaching for a hug.
Kyungsoo looks at Taehyung’s sockfeet blankly. “No.” He pours more batter into the pan.
Taehyung sighs, falling backwards dramatically onto the island, remembering last minute to control himself so he doesn't slam his head onto the counter. It's too late, really. Taehyung should be asleep. He wants to be asleep.
But he can't.
He's been feeling bizarrely on-edge for the past week. He's never had a big move like this, but with all of the activity, it's not surprising that Taehyung is a little jittery. He's been dusting shelves with the maids, and planting flowers with the gardeners, and washing dishes with the cooks, and getting himself well-acquainted with the house that's his now.
Taehyung bangs his head lightly on the table
Jimin has been doing pretty much the same things as Taehyung, but he always seems to be doing them at a different time or in a different place and honestly, Taehyung wants to go back to the airplane where he got to talk to Jimin about catering a party with chips.
He had hoped that things would only improve, but even though that conversation felt like one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind, everything since then has been one big regression. One step forward, two steps back. And another two steps. And another.
For a while, Taehyung was able to convince himself that it was like a fever, and it would get worse before it got better, and Jimin would figure out how to tuck himself into Taehyung’s life and let Taehyung tuck himself into his and they would figure things out together.
The transitional period has long since passed.
It’s been months and things are only getting worse.
It’s frustrating. He just wants to talk to his husband. His husband who he is going to spend the rest of his life with. His husband that he can barely get to sit down and talk with him for ten minutes.
And it isn’t even like Jimin is rude or anything. When they do talk, Jimin is wonderful. Funny, quick, kind. He doesn’t seem angry, or hesitant, or anything. Taehyung feels so warm after those conversations, like he can see the two of them maybe having coffee together when they’re old and still being happy in each other's presence. Something soft and easy and settled.
Until Jimin leaves and that’s the last Taehyung sees of him for days.
They sleep in the same room, the same bed, but honestly Taehyung isn’t even sure if Jimin sleeps at all. Taehyung isn't an early sleeper, but every night he goes to bed alone, no husband to be seen, and every morning he wakes up with an empty, warm spot in the blankets which is the only real indicator that Jimin has even been there at all. He can only think of one time where Jimin was asleep before him and that was when Jimin had been up for a solid 48 hours beforehand. The only reason Taehyung even knows that Jimin was up for that long is because of the staff Jimin had spent some of his time with and the man working the security cameras. And no, Taehyung didn't ask anyone for Jimin's whereabouts. The security guard, an older man named Minwoo that Taehyung likes quite a lot, had apparently seen Jimin wandering the grounds well past midnight and gotten concerned. Which, frankly, Taehyung understands. Because that's concerning.
And Minwoo had asked Taehyung about it, because he is Jimin's husband, and should know something.
But he doesn't.
"Maybe you should ask him about it," Minwoo had said. "Next time you see him."
"I can almost guarantee you'll see him before I do," Taehyung had replied, smile stretched thin.
Taehyung feels a little bit like Sisyphus rolling the stone up that goddamn hill only to have in inevitably roll back down again.
Taehyung gives Kyungsoo a thumbs up and a groan.
A moment passes.
"Hyung, how do you make friends?"
Kyungsoo doesn't blink. "You talk to them."
"What if they don't want to talk to you?"
Taehyung sits up with a frown, leaning on his elbows. "We're talking purely hypotheticals."
Kyungsoo looks at him over his shoulder, unimpressed. "Okay." He snorts. "Hypothetically, you're married."
"And your hypothetical husband seems to be avoiding you."
"Meanwhile, he's making friends with all of the staff, and he seems fine talking to them."
Something acidic drops in Taehyung stomach. He picks at the sticker on a piece of fruit and doesn't look at Kyungsoo while he hums in agreement.
"So clearly he wants to talk."
"He just doesn't want to talk to me." He sounds too bitter, even in his own ears.
Kyungsoo looks at him.
"Hypothetically," Taehyung clarifies.
"Of course." Kyungsoo turns off the stove. He takes the pan and spatula over to the sink, pushing his sleeves up the elbow and busying himself with the dishes. The clink of the dishes against the sink and the smell of soap and maple from the syrup is calming. "You're young, you're in a weird situation. You're allowed to be upset about it."
Taehyung closes his eyes. Why can't he be asleep right now? "Hypothetically upset."
Kyungsoo throws the drying towel at him.
"I am basically your boss!" Taehyung squawks through the towel over his face.
Kyungsoo ignores him. "He isn't talking to you, and it's not because he doesn't want to talk. So, why?" He sets the pan and cooking utensils, now clean, down beside the sink and opens his hand towards Taehyung. Taehyung throws him the towel back, and Kyungsoo slowly starts to dry. "What's different about you?"
"I'm his hypothetical husband!" Taehyung pouts. "He should want to talk to me! We're going to be together forever."
With a sigh, Kyungsoo sets the towel over his shoulder and starts wiping down the counter with a sponge. "Young people make me tired."
"You're not that much older than me, Hyung," Taehyung sings. Levity feels a little heavy right now, but he tries his best. Kyungsoo sees straight through, but Taehyung soldiers on. "Are the pancakes done?" He doesn't want to talk about this anymore. He's making himself upset thinking about it.
Kyungsoo sighs again, and it feels like a judgement, because Taehyung isn't dealing with his problems, or something. "Do you want some milk, too?"
"No, I still have my hot chocolate," Taehyung answer, picking up his slightly cool mug again.
He turns around, looking for the voice in the doorway.
Jimin grins. "Hey there, stranger!" It's too loud and cheerful for this late at night. Taehyung can feel the bag under his eyes, and he can see the ones under Jimin's, but Jimin looks at ease. He thinks it might be a lie, but Taehyung might also be bitter. "Any hot chocolate left?" Jimin looks hopefully at Kyungsoo.
Kyungsoo puts two plates of pancakes down on the table, and Taehyung suddenly knows who Kyungsoo was texting earlier. He squints at the cook, betrayed.
The cook ignores him, as per usual.
“Actually, is there any coffee?” Jimin asks Kyungsoo hopefully.
Kyungsoo shoots him a look, pouring him a cup of hot chocolate. “It’s past midnight.”
“The night is young.”
He shoves the mug of hot chocolate at Jimin. “No.”
Jimin pouts, and Taehyung hates that it’s the cutest thing ever. He’s surprised Kyungsoo’s heart of stone doesn’t crack and melt.
Evidently, he’s been around Jimin enough to be immune. “Sit down and eat pancakes.”
“Yessir.” Jimin grins, holding his mug in both hands. He’s wearing a gray sweater and he looks really warm and soft and Taehyung could probably hug him if he wanted to.
He wants to.
If only for the reassurance.
He doesn’t know what Jimin would do, and he’s feeling a little fragile right now. He’s not sure what he would do if Jimin pushed him away.
Probably cry about it to Namjoon and his parents.
He’s already cried about it a little to Namjoon, but there is only so much that his brother can do from miles away. Honestly, Taehyung hasn’t told Namjoon just how much this whole thing is bothering him. This is his first time trying to deal with something on his own, and trying to figure out a marriage isn’t exactly easing into adulthood, but it would hurt to admit to his brother that he can’t even make his husband like him.
He isn’t even sure if he could actually say it out loud. It’s just kind of…
Taehyung watches Jimin happily pour syrup on his pancakes, watches Jimin warm his small hands on his cup of hot chocolate, and everything feels one step away from right, slightly askew like a picture frame on a wall, a few degrees from perfect, and Taehyung hates it.
“Jimin?” he asks after a moment. Jimin looks up at him, mouth full of pancake, completely at ease, and Taehyung is going to break that, but he thinks Jimin probably deserves it. “Do you not like me?”
There’s a moment where no one in the kitchen is sure what to do. Taehyung is staring at Jimin, determined to get an answer, but Jimin seems too shocked to say anything, not even chewing, just staring back.
“Alright, I’m leaving,” Kyungsoo says. “I’ll be back in an hour to clean up the plates if I don’t hear any yelling.”
And with that, he’s gone.
Jimin swallows his pancakes as the kitchen door swings shut behind Kyungsoo. “Why—” he chokes out, coughing a little into his hand. His voice sounds too forced to be cheerful. “Why would you think that? Of course, I like you. Why wouldn’t I?” He’s gone from staring to looking anywhere but at Taehyung.
If Jimin thinks that Taehyung isn’t going to talk about this to spare Jimin’s feelings, then he would probably be right. Except this has been happening for a couple of months and it’s not just Jimin’s feelings that need to be spared. Taehyung is two wrong steps away from exploding, but that’s not what he wants.
So he swallows it down. Or tries to. His words still come out harsh and bitter. “See, that’s what I’m trying to figure out.” He sets his jaw. It’s late and Taehyung is tired, more than just psychically, and usually him losing his filter means a soft, silly Taehyung, but right now he feels jagged around the edges. “Because I keep trying to think of why you would be avoiding me and I can’t figure out a reason. Except that you’re uncomfortable with me but I can’t…” He tightens his grip on his mug. “I can’t do anything about that if you don’t talk to me.” He chews on the inside of his cheek. “And you’ll talk to everyone else in this whole household but you won’t talk to me, your husband.”
Jimin runs a finger around the tip of his coffee cup. “We talked just yesterday,” he says confidently, but he’s still looking at the stove and not at Taehyung.
“You said hello to me in the hallway and introduced me to a staff member I already knew and then you left!” Taehyung huffs. Wheein had been really funny about it, teasing Jimin and slapping Taehyung on the shoulder like they were old friends (Taehyung had found that very comforting, honestly) but Jimin had turned bright red and left soon after.
Wheein had patted his shoulder kindly. “Fix your face, buddy,” she said, tickling his chin. “Never play poker.”
“I’m good at poker.” He’s just tired.
He’s tired now.
Jimin can tell exactly how upset (hurt, confused, frustrated) Taehyung is by the set of his jaw and the strain around his eyes, which might be why Jimin isn’t looking at him, because he seems to prefer avoidance to actually dealing with anything.
Taehyung can almost feel his blood boiling. “Look at me,” he snaps. Make him listen.
Jimin looks at him - oh, he looks at him, harsh and sharp and Taehyung doesn’t even care. “I don’t want to talk about this right now. I just want to eat pancakes.” His pancakes sit half-eaten on his plate, gripped tightly in one hand.
Taehyung’s own meal suddenly looks unappetizing. A cold, sticky mess. “You never want to talk about anything,” he says, jaw clenched and everything about him right now is sharp and pointed and Taehyung honestly doesn’t like that but there isn’t anything else he can do.
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Jimin tells him coldly. “I like you fine.”
Taehyung scoffs. “Clearly.”
The clatter of Jimin’s plate slamming down on the table is so loud. Jimin slides off of the counter. “I’m going to bed.”
“Are you sure?” Taehyung calls behind him, feet swinging, leaning back on his hands. “Then you’ll have to deal with me again later when I go to sleep, too. Twice in one day.”
Jimin actually hesitates at that. “It’s not that I don’t want to deal with you,” Jimin tells him, but he’s gone back to looking away, walking purposefully towards the door. Look over your shoulder, Taehyung prays to someone, maybe Jimin. Please, at least look back. “I told you, I like you.”
Taehyung’s heart shakes a little. “I liked you better when you told me you weren’t sure.” Even thinking about that night makes his heart shake a little more. “At least then, you weren’t lying to me.” He doesn’t bother snapping this time. He’s almost soft Taehyung again, but it still feels a little like he’s broken.
He’d thought it was okay, he’d thought they were okay, after that talk before. After the airplane. Taehyung thought that they had figured it out.
Maybe that just makes this worse.
He hears Jimin take a deep breath. When he looks, Jimin’s hand is on the door, knuckles white. He can’t see the other boy’s face, but something tells Taehyung it’s jagged, too, just like his own. “I’m not lying.”
“Then why.” It’s an accusation, a lazy one, halfway between a statement and a question.
Taehyung is willing to wait.
“We’re going to be together forever.”
Taehyung has said those words himself. To everyone. To Kyungsoo, to his parents, to Namjoon.
Hearing those words out of Jimin’s mouth sounds like they mean something different.
“Yeah,” Taehyung says, when it’s clear that Jimin isn’t going to continue without some prodding. It gets stuck in his throat.
“I…” Jimin takes another breath. His hand hasn’t moved from the handle, and Taehyung thinks that’s probably because Jimin would rather be anywhere but here. He’s shaking though, and Taehyung’s heart drops because this is the last thing he wants.
He just wants Jimin to talk to him.
“We’re going to be together forever,” Jimin says again with a sigh, more to himself than to anyone else, setting his forehead against the cool metal of the kitchen door.
Taehyung stares at the back of Jimin’s head. “I know.” He’s confused.
Jimin shakes his head. “You’re going to have to put up with me forever.”
“I want to.” It’s sincere.
“You don’t know me.”
“I’m trying.” Taehyung has to actively remind himself to stop holding his mug so hard. He’s going to snap the handle off.
“I…” Jimin groans in frustration, but now Taehyung thinks it might just be frustration at not knowing the right words to say. “I’m trying to…” It’s so quiet that when Jimin swallows nervously, it’s audible. Or maybe Taehyung is focusing so hard his giant ears are picking up whatever he’s focusing on and right now he’s focusing on Jimin.
“I’m trying not to embarrass myself!” Jimin chokes out, forehead still pressed to the door, and his face is so red Taehyung can see it from his spot on the island.
Taehyung blinks at him. “What?” he says dumbly.
Jimin finally releases his hold on the door and starts pulling at his bangs in distress. “We’re going to be together forever!” he almost yells, turning to look at Taehyung again.
“I know!” Taehyung almost yells back, alarmed.
This is a different Jimin than Taehyung has seen. Different than the one on their wedding night or in the bathroom or on the plane or the months before and after those events. His eyes look wild and he’s talking with his hands. “I’m trying to—” He cuts himself off with a loud whine.
“Stop groaning at me,” Taehyung says.
“I’m not groaning at you!” Jimin snaps back. “I’m groaning at me!”
“Don’t tell me what to do!” Jimin picks up the dish towel Kyungsoo was using and throws it.
“That’s the second time!” Taehyung complains, pulling the towel off of his face. “Stop!"
“You really don’t want to deal with me forever!”
Taehyung throws the towel back. “You don’t know what I want!”
The towel flops over Jimin’s shoulder, but Jimin barely notices. “I know me, though!”
“Well!” Taehyung’s face is red from yelling and he can’t think. “You don’t know me!”
“I’m trying not to ruin anything!”
Taehyung can’t even think of a response, he just looks at Jimin incredulously and gestures frantically around the room.
Jimin pouts. “I’m trying!”
“I woke Kyungsoo up to make me angsty midnight pancakes!” That would have been guaranteed death if Taehyung didn’t sign off on Kyungsoo’s paycheck. “What would you ruin?"
“I’m really lame!” Jimin snaps defensively. “And I’m not funny.”
“I think you’re funny!” Taehyung is still yelling. He takes it down a few decibels. “We talked about bad movies the other day and I laughed for hours.”
“I have to think of conversation topics ahead of time!” Jimin is pulling at his hair again.
“So I don’t embarrass myself!”
“Well, stop!” Taehyung growls.
It’s quiet again.
Jimin looks shocked, but he still waits, holding himself tightly around the stomach. His eyes are red and watery. He’s breathing hard. He’s looking. He’s looking and he might finally be seeing.
Taehyung takes a second to catch his breath.
“I don’t care about what you think about you,” he says after a moment. “I want to know what I think about you.”
Jimin opens and shuts his mouth once, twice. Third time. “Okay.”
Taehyung’s heart stops shaking.
That night, Jimin is there when Taehyung goes to sleep, and in the morning, Taehyung wakes up with Jimin close enough to touch, if he wanted to.
He won’t, because he’s not sure they’re there yet.
But he could.
If he wanted to.
Jimin still wanders the house, and Taehyung still wanders the house, but most days they decide to wander it together.
It never felt lonely exactly, because the household was big enough that Taehyung could always find someone to talk to, but it’s different to have someone with him. It’s nice.
Sometimes Jimin still tenses up, or gets really quiet, and Taehyung is content to let him think to himself for a little while until he’s ready to talk again. Taehyung is slowly learning Jimin’s tells, trying to figure out when to leave him alone and when to distract him with jokes and happiness and maybe even a little affection eventually, when Taehyung feels more secure offering it. The nice thing about Jimin is that he wears his heart on his sleeve, once you start looking at his seams.
Today, though, Taehyung is by himself. He just came from bothering Byulyi from maintenance to try and teach him how to fix things, but once he dropped a wrench and nearly broke his toe, she sent him away with a sigh and a smile. At least he tried.
He tried to sneak a cake from the kitchen, but Kyungsoo just slapped an apple in his hand and told him that sweets weren’t for breakfast.
“Aren’t I the head of this household?” Taehyung mutters good-naturedly. One of two heads. Like a mythical, two-headed beast. Regardless, Kyungsoo should let him steal cakes. He takes a bite of his apple.
Jimin was in their room this morning when Taehyung woke up, said a sleepy good morning as he wrestled into his jeans, but by the time Taehyung is in and out of the bathroom Jimin has disappeared, leaving a post-it note on the door saying that he was off to chat with a new friend and he would see Taehyung at lunch.
Taehyung assumes that this new friend is a part of the staff, which means that Jimin is surely in the house somewhere. So he isn’t surprised when he hears Jimin’s voice floating down through the hallway. His words, however, are a little shocking.
“..can’t marry you, Jungkookie,” Jimin is saying. Taehyung stops chewing immediately, trying to hear. The door to the little office is ajar, and Taehyung can see the tufts of Jimin’s hair through the crack. “I’m already married to Taehyung. We can’t be together.”
Taehyung pushes the door open. “What?”
Jimin looks over at him, sitting casually in a chair, the look on his face somewhere shocked and amused, which Taehyung thinks is a rather interesting face for someone to have when their husband walks in on them with another man.
It takes a while for Taehyung to pinpoint exactly who Jimin is talking to, purely because the other person is much closer to the ground than Taehyung expected.
Like, not even four feet off of the ground.
And he’s glaring at him like Taehyung has punched someone’s grandma.
“What?” Taehyung asks, confused.
Jimin is trying not to laugh in that way you do when kids are dealing with serious business, one small hand coming up to cover his mouth as he looks at his husband. Taehyung doesn’t know where to look, so he settles on the child.
It’s a boy, small, kind of scrawny, but his fists are clenched like his might try to punch Taehyung in the knee. He has a small, round face that’s doing it’s best to scowl but honestly Taehyung just wants to coo.
He does not coo.
“Taehyung,” Jimin says after a moment, doing his best to arrange his face neutrally but he’s still smiling. “This is Jungkook-ah. He’s the son of Heeyeon-noona, in the kitchens. Jungkookie?” Jimin makes very direct eye contact. “This is Taehyung. He’s my husband.”
Slowly, Jungkook’s eyes travel up and down Taehyung. Taehyung doesn’t know what to do with his hands so he awkwardly clasps them behind his back while the child gives him a once over
“Is it because he’s tall?” Jungkook asks after a second.
Taehyung snorts but tries to pass it off as a cough.
“No, Jungkookie, it’s not because he’s tall.”
“Because my mom says that I’m still growing,” Jungkook says, still eyeing Taehyung before going over to where Jimin is sitting. Jimin doesn’t hesitate to pick him up and put him in his lap. Jungkook taps on Jimin’s chest with chubby fingers to get his attention, even though he has it all anyway. Taehyung wants to clutch at his face, it’s too cute. “I’ll be taller than him one day, maybe! My mom says so!”
Jimin smiles and repeats himself. “No, Jungkookie, it’s not because he’s tall.”
“If I get taller than him, will you marry me instead?” he asks earnestly.
Taehyung is about to melt on the floor.
Jimin laughs, soft and cute, and ruffles the kid’s hair. “But then what would I do with Taehyung? This is his house!”
Taehyung wants to say no, Jimin, it’s our house. But Jungkook beats him to it.
“We can switch rooms,” he says. “He can sleep in my room and I can sleep in your room. I can clean up my room and everything.”
Taehyung cannot believe that this child is the most adorable thing he’s ever seen.
Jimin pets Jungkook’s hair. “I’m sorry, Jungkookie, but Taehyung and I are going to be together forever.”
Jimin is also the most adorable thing Taehyung has ever seen.
“But what if Taehyung is not a good dad?” Jungkook pauses. “What’s the word for a dad without a baby?”
“Husband,” Taehyung answers.
“Thank you,” Jungkook says politely. He turns back to Jimin. “What if Taehyung is a bad husband? You need a good husband.”
“But what if Taehyung is a good husband?” Jimin asks, trying to keep Jungkook from seeing the way Taehyung is physically biting his own fist to keep from freaking out over how cute this is. “We can’t get rid of him, because what if he’s really nice?”
Jungkook looks at Jimin with wide eyes, thinking. “But how do we know?”
Jimin smiles. “Why don’t you ask? What do you need to be a good husband?”
“If you’re going to interrogate me, shouldn’t this be official?” Taehyung asks suddenly, grinning.
“You’re going to ask me lots of questions right?”
“Yes!” Jungkook sets his jaw mulishly. He looks rather threatening for a 6-year-old.
Taehyung does his best to look cowed. “Why don’t you and Jimin come up with some questions to ask and I’ll go to your mom in the kitchens and get some food and we can discuss this over tea, since we’re adults and this is serious business?”
Jungkook frowns. “What kind of food?”
“That’s up to your mom but…” Taehyung taps his chin. “What’s your favorite thing?”
Jimin is startled. He scoffs and buries his face in Jungkook’s hair, trying to hide his smile.
Which is all very good, but Taehyung has a much harder time controlling himself because Jungkook is currently staring him down and if Taehyung laughs at him then all will be lost. “I'm afraid we can’t have Jimin for tea. What else do you like?”
Jungkook thinks very hard. “Apples? When they are in things.”
“Like those little pies Kyungsoo-hyung makes?”
Jungkook nods vigorously.
“Okay.” Taehyung takes out his phone. “I will go and see if I can sneak away some of those little pies while you and Jimin think of some things, okay?” He shoots a text to a few people to commandeer some help. “Don't miss me too much.”
He doesn't think that will be an issue because Jungkook is already asking Jimin for a pencil and paper.
Taehyung grins on his way out the door.
Taehyung doesn't even need to steal any pies, because Jungkook’s mom is in the kitchen when he gets there, and happily gives away quite a few.
“He’s been good,” Heeyeon tells him, setting some pies artfully on a tray. “He can have sweets before lunch every once in awhile. I can't say the same for you.”
“Noona,” Taehyung whines, grinning.
Heeyeon sets down another pie. “It's okay. I won't tell your mother.”
There ends up being more food than anticipated, so Taehyung has Baekhyun and Jongdae from the waitstaff help him carry the many trays of goodies to where Jimin and Jungkook are waiting. Jungkook is sitting in Jimin’s lap at the table, a stack of flashcards in front of him and Jimin’s chin is resting on Jungkook’s head, watching at the little kid’s chubby hands shuffle and sort through the cards.
Baekhyun and Jongdae are taking this tea party arguably more seriously than their actual job, masterfully setting the table, setting down a vase and dramatically setting flowers in it (the flowers are a little beat up, and Taehyung strongly suspects that Jongdae just grabbed a handful from the garden while Taehyung and Baekhyun made a second trip). They’re even fussing over Jungkook, making sure he’s comfortable and the table is perfect for him, filling his plate, asking if the color of the napkin is okay, and Jungkook is positively beaming under all of the attention.
By the time Taehyung sits down in his spot, Jungkook already has pie filling on his fingers.
Jimin picks up the napkin to wipe them off but Jungkook is already reaching for the note cards. “Taehyung!” he starts.
“Hyung,” Jimin gently corrects.
Taehyung grins as he takes a sip of his tea.
“Okay, Taehyung-hyung,” Jungkook starts again, looking at his first index card. “Can you make good macaroni and cheese?”
He has to think for a second. “I think I make the second best mac and cheese.”
“Who makes the best?”
“I don’t know.”
“Okay.” Jungkook switches cards. “Are you good at scaring the monsters out from under the bed?”
“Hmm.” Taehyung taps his chin. “How big is the monster?”
Jungkook thinks. “Really big.”
“Does it have claws?”
“Probably. All monsters have claws.”
“Good point.” Taehyung bites his lip. “I think I’d be a very good monster scarer,” he decides finally. “But you have to be careful with monster scaring because sometimes they’re nice.”
Jungkook doesn’t look like he believes Taehyung, but he looks up at Jimin behind him. Jimin nods seriously and Jungkook goes on to the next flash card. “Do you like Iron Man?”
In all honestly, Taehyung prefers Deadpool, but he likes Iron Man well enough.
“Good husbands like Iron Man?” Jimin asks curiously, before Taehyung can reply.
“Yes,” Jungkook answers. He looks at Jimin pointedly. “I like Iron Man.”
“Do you?” says Jimin, raising his eyebrows. “Does that mean you’re a good husband?”
Jungkook shrugs dramatically, head jutting forward, “Probably.”
Taehyung clamps a hand over his mouth because this child is too much for him and he wants to hug him right now. He takes a bite of his mini pie instead. “I like Iron Man, too,” Taehyung says finally, after he’s managed to collect himself.
Jimin looks at him knowingly, laughing quietly above Jungkook’s head.
“Of course, you do,” Jungkook says wisely. “Everyone likes Iron Man.” Next card. “Do you share your toys?”
“Always.” Taehyung leans forward so Jungkook knows he’s serious. “Just like my mother taught me.”
“Good. Sharing is caring,” Jungkook recites.
They nod at each other.
Jimin’s face turns a little red from holding his smile in. He looks like he wants to scream but instead he buries his face in his shoulder.
Jungkook flips his card one last time and stares at it. “Jimin-hyung?”
“Did we have any more questions?”
Jimin blinks, trying to remember. “Can he reach the cookie jar?”
“Oh, right.” Jungkook switches cards again, and Taehyung is almost 100% sure that the cards are blank. “Can you reach the cookie jar?”
“There’s never been a cookie jar I can’t get to.” Taehyung is nailing this interview.
Carefully, Jungkook sets his flashcards down on the table, paper sticky with apple pie filling. “What about hugs?”
“Do you give good hugs?” Jungkook crosses his arms. “Jimin-hyung likes my hugs the best.”
Jimin nods. “It’s true.”
“I think I give pretty good hugs,” Taehyung says defensively.
“I guess the two of you will have to have a Hug-Off.”
“Clearly.” He looks at Jungkook. “Now we just have to hug each other.”
“No!” Jungkook says, clambering out of Jimin’s lap. “We both have to hug Jimin-hyung and then Jimin-hyung decides.”
“Wha—” Taehyung isn’t sure that he and Jimin have even...really hugged before? Weird. They should fix that. Taehyung wants to hug Jimin a lot, suddenly.
Jimin is his husband, so surely they should.
Jungkook runs around the table and pulls Taehyung up out of his chair. “You go first,” he says, physically pushing Taehyung towards where Jimin sits awkwardly in his chair. He pulls Jimin up, too. “And then I go second because my hugs are the best.”
“Of course,” Taehyung says warmly. He opens up his arms.
Jungkook is not impressed. “You have to give good hugs or Jimin will not like you,” he warns. “Do you want me to show you?”
“You can show him after, Jungkookie, so he sees how it’s done,” Jimin says lightly, stepping out from around the table and opening his arms, too. “Let’s go, Husband.”
“Okay, Husband.” He wraps his arms around Jimin's shoulders.
The way that Jimin slots into Taehyung’s arms is surprisingly nice. Or, not surprising, because Jimin has always looked like he would give really good hugs, in Taehyung’s opinion, but Taehyung expected there to be more elbows, more space between them. But Jimin is pressed up against his chest and Jimin’s head is resting on his shoulder. Taehyung can’t think of a single moment where they’ve been closer.
Jimin’s arms are wrapped tightly around Taehyung’s waist, strong and firm. Taehyung tries to remember if he’s ever paid enough attention to Jimin when his shirt is off. Probably not. They’re still at the point where the second skin shows, eyes are averted, but maybe Taehyung needs to start paying more attention because those feel like really nice biceps and they probably need to be properly appreciated.
But it’s not the biceps that he focuses on, or the way Jimin sighs into him and he can feel the breath on his shoulder, but the way that Jimin is present and solid and there. Taehyung squeezes tightly, resting his cheek on Jimin’s head, and everything feels soft. Together, Taehyung thinks they could melt into the floor.
Right when Taehyung feels Jimin start to pull away (for some reason, Taehyung really wants to see the look on Jimin’s face), Jimin stutters forward, falling into Taehyung’s chest again with a little oof.
He looks down over Jimin’s shoulder and sees a head of hair, small and close to the ground, and there is Jungkook clinging to the back of Jimin’s legs.
“My turn,” he says. He looks up at Taehyung. “You were taking too long.”
“Of course, Jungkook-ah.” Jimin’s voice is a little shaky as he twists around in Taehyung’s arms. His ears look a little red. “Your turn.”
It’s only when Jimin is trying to turn all the way around in Jungkook’s grasp that Taehyung realizes he still hasn’t let go. He hastily steps aside.
Jimin bends down and lets Jungkook throw his arms around his neck. Taehyung can see how tightly Jungkook squeezes. “You know, I have to say Jungkook’s are better,” he says after a moment of deliberating, but when he turns back around his cheeks are a little pink.
“I accept defeat.” Taehyung bows his head.
“Taehyung also gives good hugs though, Jungkookie,” Jimin says thoughtfully, picking Jungkook up. “Do you think I can keep him? Is he a good husband?”
Jungkook thinks long and hard, pulling on his bottom lip. “I think you can keep him but only if you like him.”
“I do like him,” Jimin says seriously.
Taehyung smiles. “Are you sure?”
Jimin smiles back. “I’m sure.”
They’re out in the garden when it happens.
“It” being the torrential downpour that drowns the hydrangeas.
“What.” Jimin pulls his sopping t-shirt away from his skin. “The fuck.”
Taehyung shakes out his hair, spraying water everywhere in a way that makes Wheein frown at him flatly while she hands them towels. “Mother Nature wins again.”
“Mother Nature can suck my dick,” Jimin says primly, running the towel over his hair and then throwing it around his neck.
“Does that count as adultery?” Taehyung asks with a snort, following Jimin on their way to their room.
“What?” Jimin looks over his shoulder. “If I get oral from a concept?”
“Adultery is also a concept.”
“I forget that you and Namjoon-hyung are brothers and then you say something annoying and suddenly I remember.”
Taehyung throws his towel at the back of Jimin’s head. “He’s your brother now, too.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t inherent existential crises so it’s fine.” He turns around and waits for Taehyung to catch up to him. They continue walking together. “Did you two get that from your mother or your father?”
“Grandfather,” Taehyung answers, opening the door for Jimin. “It skipped a generation.”
“Lucky you.” Taehyung puts the towel over his head. “You get to deal with all of this.” He makes a seductive gesture towards his body.
Jimin looks at him, unimpressed, and makes his way to the bathroom. “Lucky me.”
And then he takes his shirt off.
And Taehyung makes sure to look this time because the Bicep Revelation was a real thing and also it’s right there and wow, Taehyung really should have looked earlier.
Jimin is 18 and small and soft and squishy, but his arms and his chest are well-defined and his waist is trim and when he turns around to wring his shirt out in the bathtub his back muscles roll under smooth skin and Taehyung kind of wants to touch but he’s not going to do that, don’t worry.
He wants to.
But he won’t.
That would probably definitely to be weird.
He’s still a little sad when Jimin puts his shirt back on but it’s okay, it’s probably fine, he doesn’t have to think about it that much.
His eyes are a little glazed when he looks up to find Jimin looking at him and realized Jimin asked him something. “What?”
“Why are you still in wet clothes?” Jimin repeats. “Kyungsoo-hyung won’t let you into his kitchen if you’re dripping and that’s the only way you’re getting hot chocolate.”
“I’m Kyungsoo-hyung’s boss.”
“No one is Kyungsoo-hyung’s boss, he is the boss.” Jimin throws a pair of pajama pants at his husband. “Come on, there is liquid chocolate to be had.”
“Excuse me, isn’t it always me waiting for you?” Taehyung grumbles, peeling his shirt off and hanging it over the bed’s headboard. He pulls on a fresh t-shirt and turns around. If Jimin’s face is a little pink it probably has nothing to do with Taehyung.
As the rain started Kyungsoo started making the hot chocolate, so it’s not long before they have hot mugs in their hands and they’re sitting inside by a window watching the rain. They’re sitting on the window seat, sinking into the cushions, legs almost tangled together but not quite there.
Taehyung sighs. “Don’t you think it’s kind of romantic?”
“The sky opening up and shitting on you?”
He laughs. “I guess you don’t.”
Jimin pauses a moment and brings his mug up to his lips. “I do.” He takes a sip, looking out the window.
Taehyung leans back against the wall with a happy sigh, the kind that settles deep in your chest and warms up from the inside. He cradles his mug in both hands. “On a scale of one to ten, how romantic?"
“Getting caught in the rain, or rain in general?”
Jimin taps his thumb against the handle. “Rain in general, like a 7?”
Taehyung grins. “Getting caught in the rain?”
“If I say I think it’s an 8.5, does that mean we just had a romantic moment?”
“Then it’s a sold 2.7,” Jimin answers with an innocent smile. “And you can’t hit me because I’ll spill hot chocolate all over the pillow and I know you love this pillow.”
“Curses,” Taehyung says happily. “Married people don’t have romantic moments anyway.”
Jimin snorts. “I don’t think it’s marriage so much as children.”
“We should find a child so that we’re safe.”
Jimin pretends like he’s going to kick Taehyung in the shin, bare foot coming up, toes curling threateningly, and Taehyung would tickle the bottom of it if he didn’t know that Jimin would scream and freak out and Jimin is right, Taehyung does love that pillow.
By the time Jimin settles back down, he’s soft again, melting against the wall. “Don’t think we could be trusted with a child right now.”
“You do a good job with Jungkook.”
“So do you,” Jimin says quietly, taking another drink and pulling his sleeves down over his palms to try and warm himself up.
“I just don’t want to change any diapers.”
Jimin grimaces. “Agreed.” He pauses, looking out the window. “We should get a fake child.”
“Like what, get one of those babies you use for those high school projects or…?” Taehyung frowns. “Because I’m not game for that. I hated that project.”
“Nope,” Jimin says, popping the p and taking a drink. His eyes shift from the window to Taehyung. “How do you feel about dogs?”
Taehyung lights up. “I love dogs.”
“So much.” Taehyung flops his arm over his eyes dramatically. “Jiminie, I love dogs so much.”
“Do you love that dog?”
Taehyung stops his dramatics long enough to look confused. “Which dog?” There aren’t any dogs in the house. Taehyung knows because he asked all of the staff. Kyungsoo does, however, have a cat who loves to be cuddled but hates to be moved. Taehyung loves that cat too.
Jimin taps a chubby finger against the glass. “That dog.”
“Oh,” Taehyung says softly, peering out into the rain. “That dog.”
Outside of their window, camouflaged by gray skies and rain, is a dog. Sitting. Just sitting. Looking at the them, merely a few feet away, ears it hasn’t grown into yet, head cocked to the side. The house is gated pretty firmly, and Taehyung has no idea how this dog got in, but he thinks that the dog should be rewarded for it’s hard work.
A fake child.
Their fake child.
“I think I love that dog.”
Jimin brings his knees up to his chest, resting his chin on the them and smiling. “I think I love that dog, too.”