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The familiar din of the cafeteria at peak hours barely registered for Yoongi as he eagerly watched Seokjin call over one of the cafeteria workers. Hoseok nudged Yoongi in the side with an elbow, and Namjoon sat forward in his chair at the table they’d claimed in order to get a front row seat for what was about to happen.

“Excuse me,” Seokjin said as the woman came over. “I’d like some caviar to go with my chicken please.”

Hoseok snorted and got jostled by Namjoonon and Yoongi on either side of him. If he laughed out loud, everything would be ruined.

The woman looked at Seokjin and then looked around like she wanted to be sure she’d heard correctly.

“Caviar?” she repeated, staring at Seokjin like he was out of his mind.

To his credit, Seokjin kept a straight face.

“Yes, please,” he confirmed, holding out his dish like he was waiting for her to scoop some fish eggs onto it that moment.

“We don’t have caviar in this cafeteria,” she said, judgment clearly evident in her voice. “I know this is a good university, but caviar? Really?”

“What do you mean you don’t have caviar?” Seokjin demanded, plate lowered and eyebrows furrowed. “The meal plan for a semester is 2,000 dollars. I expect to get my money’s worth.”

Namjoon covered a laugh with his hand as Hoseok had to duck his head to bury his face in his arms in order not to draw attention to himself.

Yoongi could feel the amused grin stretched across his face as he watched Seokjin get more agitated.

“That doesn’t cover caviar,” the woman told him a bit disdainfully.

“This is an outrage,” Seokjin announced, having caught the attention of a handful of nearby students as he forcefully put his plate down on the counter. “I’d like to speak to a manager.”

“This is a university cafeteria,” the woman informed him, losing her patience. “There’s no manager. You can try to talk to the dean, I guess…”

“That’s exactly what I intend to do,” Seokjin proclaimed. “This is a disgrace.”

With that, he turned on his heel and stalked toward the exit, muttering under his breath all the while and leaving upwards of ten people staring after him in shock.

Once everyone resumed what they had been doing before Seokjin started demanding caviar, Yoongi, Namjoon, and Hoseok got up from their seats and casually made for the door, careful not to look suspicious.

When they got outside, however, all bets were off, and Hoseok sagged against the wall of the building as he laughed loudly, Namjoon and Yoongi joining in.

Seokjin appeared from around the corner and collapsed against Namjoon’s side with a wail.

“I can’t believe you guys made me do that,” he complained, embarrassed laughter escaping even as he tried to swipe at each of them in turn.

“That was amazing,” Hoseok wheezed. “Classic.”

“I can never go back to the cafeteria again,” Seokjin whined, shoving at Hoseok’s shoulder.

“Sure you can,” Namjoon told him, patting him on the back. “You wouldn’t want to waste your meal plan money, after all.”

Yoongi snickered as Hoseok yowled, and Seokjin made another sound of distress.

“That was one of the best dares, honestly,” Yoongi said. Which was a little bit of a compliment to himself since he’d been the one to come up with it.

“I did a really good job!” Seokjin insisted passionately, moving seamlessly from mortified complaining to self praise. “I didn’t break once!”

“You did,” Namjoon agreed. “It was a good dare and you executed it well.”

“One for the record books,” Hoseok offered between chuckles.

“Better be,” Seokjin sniffed. “I deserve credit for that.”

“And we’re giving it to you,” Namjoon assured him, starting back toward the dorms with the other three following suit.

Seokjin was right. His performance had been noteworthy. Absolutely one of the best completions of a dare since the four of them had started daring each other to do ridiculous things on a regular basis.

It had started out during the second semester of the previous year when Yoongi, Namjoon, and Hoseok had been freshmen and Seokjin had been a sophomore. They’d been hanging out in Seokjin’s single room, and someone had dared Hosoek to make a prank phone call from the dorm phone. He’d done it, and the rest of them had ended up as writhing heaps of laughter on the floor.

After that, the dares had kept going and increased in intensity and creativity. It had become part of their routine, and though the dares were often humiliating and always unpleasant for the one doing them, they all revelled in it. Watching each other suffer through whatever the rest of them could come up with certainly kept things interesting.

Now it was kind of their thing, though they didn’t advertise it. If everyone knew they were constantly fulfilling dares, then doing humiliating things in public wouldn’t be nearly so bad since their classmates would assume it was a joke. Having people think that Seokjin was actually appalled that they didn’t have caviar in the cafeteria was what the game was all about.

“Who is gonna buy me pizza since we obviously can’t go back to the cafeteria for dinner tonight?” Seokjin wanted to know, in step with Hoseok behind Namjoon and Yoongi. He hastened his pace just enough so that he could stick his face between the two of them.

Namjoon sighed. “That’s not part of the deal…”

Yoongi didn’t bother arguing because he figured that Seokjin would wear them down before they got back to Namjoon’s room.

He was right.

 

---

 

“That smells awful,” Hoseok exclaimed, fanning the air in front of his face theatrically.

“Truly vile,” Namjoon agreed.

“Thank you!” Seokjin chirped, looking proud of the mixture he was currently preparing.

On the couch in the common room of the dorm building (and the only place they could find a blender), Yoongi had been instructed to face the other direction so the concoction would be a total surprise.

Yoongi could smell tuna, though. And possibly pickles. He wouldn't be going in completely blind, but that wasn’t going to make it any less disgusting.

“Almost done,” Seokjin announced as Yoongi heard something drop into the blender with a plop, prompting some groans from the studio audience.

“Any day now,” Yoongi said on a sigh.

“You are going to be in no rush to drink this,” Hoseok assured him over the roar of the blender.

“Better than just sitting here, listening to you all make commentary,” Yoongi shot back.

“I’m not so sure,” Namjoon told him before snickering when the blender stopped.

There were some exaggerated gagging sounds as Seokjin, presumably, poured it into a glass.

Yoongi readied himself. The only thing better than watching his friends do stupid stuff at the expense of their dignity was acting like every dare they gave him was a piece of cake. Without fail, they’d all grumble and whine and complain when Yoongi shrugged off whatever it was instead of cringing and wailing like he was often doing inside.

By then, he had a reputation to uphold as well. And it wasn't as though he was going to break over a gross smoothie.

“Ta da!” Seokjin sang as he walked in front of where Yoongi was seated, holding a large glass of a brown, chunky mixture.

“It looks like actual shit,” Namjoon observed as the glass changed hands and Yoongi found himself holding the questionable smoothie.

“You have to drink half,” Hoseok reminded him eagerly.

“But since it was prepared with love,” Seokjin jumped in, hand over his own heart, “you should really consider drinking all of it.”

Yoongi snorted. “Let’s not push it.”

It looked like shit, but it smelled like the bottom of a dumpster. He was not looking forward to finding out which it tasted more like. However, such was his fate.

“Bottoms up,” he announced before tipping the glass back and getting his first mouthful.

It looked like shit, smelled like garbage, and tasted like vomit.

With difficulty, Yoongi swallowed the horrible cocktail.

Definitely tuna, pickle, ketchup...was that some kind of vegetable stuck in his throat? Fruit? Meat? He didn’t want to know.

He looked at the glass. Another big mouthful and that should be half.

“Are you gonna puke?” Hoseok wanted to know, leaning over Yoongi’s shoulder.

“No,” Yoongi told him, annoyed, as he swatted in the direction of Hoseok’s face to get him to stop breathing in his ear.

One more swallow.

Yoongi tipped the glass and made sure to get a big mouthful so he wouldn’t have to go back a third time.

It truly was rancid.

Forcing the horrendous conglomeration down his throat, Yoongi set the glass down on the coffee table in front of him with enough force to make it a statement.

“Done,” he said, sitting back and resting an ankle on his knee. “Tuna, pickle, ketchup, and what else?”

“Oh, some maraschino cherries, a hotdog, peas, a banana, chocolate sauce, hot sauce, vanilla yogurt…” Seokjin listed, still sounding proud of what he’d created. It had been disgusting.

“Hm,” Yoongi replied, casual. “Anyone else want a taste? There’s a little less than half a glass left…”

“You’re no fun,” Hoseok predictably complained. “You didn’t gag or anything.”

“What can I say?” Yoongi replied with a smirk and a shrug, feeling good about keeping up his reputation, despite the awful taste still on his tongue.

“If you want someone to gag, you could try it,” Seokjin suggested to Hoseok sweetly.

Hoseok made a face. “No way.”

“Alright,” Namjoon clapped his hands once. “Shall we go back? Jason Goes to Hell awaits.”

“Do we have to watch that?” Hoseok complained, forgetting about the smoothie at the mention of a scary movie.

“It’s not even gonna be scary,” Namjoon assured him. “You know that by the time they get past the third movie in a series, they aren’t even trying anymore.”

“Yeah, and also I drove all the way to the video store to rent it,” Seokjin cut in, picking up the partially finished smoothie to dump it down the drain.

“But that’s only, like, ten minutes away,” Hoseok whined. “Can’t we go pick something else out?”

“No, I wanna watch Jason killing people in hell!” Seokjin protested, adamant.

“Do you really think that’s the premise?” Namjoon mused. “I mean, people in hell are theoretically already dead. Why would he be killing people in hell?”

“Well, there’s only one way to find out, so we’d better watch it,” Seokjin declared, disregarding Hoseok’s continued complaints.

Yoongi stretched his arms over his head as he followed his friends toward Seokjin’s room to watch a movie about an inhuman killer possibly going to hell.

Another success.

He was happy with that.

 

---

 

“...long live black and gold…

“Hoseok was definitely the right person for this dare,” Seokjin observed, Hoseok's voice echoing across the quad. “He’s so loud.”

There was definitely no missing him as he ran across the quad, singing their rival school's song. Most of the students who were in the area stopped to stare, many of them grimacing at his song choice and a few shouting expletives.

But he had to get through the song twice before he was allowed to quit.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” a guy yelled when Hoseok finished the last verse only to start again.

“Why don't you go bother them if you like their school so much!” a girl added, and Yoongi snorted out a laugh, seeing Seokjin cracking up in his periphery.

“We should have rented a video camera from av,” Namjoon mused, watching Hoseok abruptly change direction when an angry looking guy from a fraternity started threatening him. “This is gold.”

Yoongi couldn’t help his bark of laughter when Hoseok had to dodge a frisbee, intentionally thrown in his direction, as he started up on the last verse for the second and final time.

Running in their direction, Hoseok held the last note of the song only to break off in a yelp when somebody threw their shoe. Fortunately, they missed, but Hoseok whizzed right by them in order to avoid anymore projectiles.

Meanwhile, Seokjin had his head on Yoongi’s shaking shoulder as they both laughed and Namjoon was nearly doubled over with mirth.

“Oh man, that was good,” Seokjin crowed, wiping a tear from his eye.

“Gonna be hard to top, for sure,” Namjoon agreed.

“I actually just thought of a great one for you,” Yoongi told him, unable to stop his smirk.

“Oh! What is it?” Seokjin wanted to know, already eagerly anticipating the hardships that lay ahead for Namjoon.

“I’ll tell you later when we find Hoseok,” Yoongi said, starting off in the direction their aforementioned friend had run.

“Aw man,” Namjoon complained, probably already worried about what Yoongi had in mind for him.

The leaves on the trees that lined the path toward the dorms were only just starting to yellow on the edges.

The new semester had just started, and already they were putting the previous one to shame.

Yoongi had a good feeling about the coming year. It was definitely going to be one to remember.

 

---

 

“Thank you very much,” Yoongi said, though no one had offered him any praise. With the way everyone was laughing, he thought it was safe to assume it was implied. “This was truly the idea of a genius.”

Namjoon was on the sidewalk outside the building that housed the cafeteria in the center of campus. It was midday, so there were hoards of students milling about- on their way to lunch, on their way to class. Namjoon was busking, a hat sitting upturned on the ground in front of him boasting a few coins of generous students. And the kicker was that he was dancing.

It was no secret that Namjoon could not dance.

Truthfully, Seokjin was just as bad, and Yoongi wasn’t much better. Hoseok was the only one among them that had any dancing talent, but there was just something about watching Namjoon attempt to move along to the hip hop playing from the tinny speakers of his portable cassette player that was impossible to beat.

“What is he doing?” Seokjin exclaimed as Namjoon attempted some weird shuffle.

“No clue,” Hoseok informed him after observing for a second. “It’s impossible to tell.”

Yoongi happily received a high five from both Seokjin and Hoseok for his idea.

“Classic,” Seokjin proclaimed.

Namjoon struck a pose as the song ended.

It was safe to assume that Namjoon was going to try to get Yoongi back for this with his next dare, but it was so worth it.

It wasn’t like some stupid dare was gonna break Yoongi, anyway. He could take whatever they threw at him.

 

---

 

For the past two years, it had been the four of them. Of course they all had other friends, but when it was the end of a long week, it was always the four of them congregating in one of their rooms so they could unwind and shoot the shit and probably dare someone to do something stupid.

“He’s really fun,” Hoseok was telling them as Seokjin put the case of beer he’d bought on Namjoon's desk. “I’ve never met his roommate, but Jimin says he’s cool, too.”

“How do you know this stranger, again?” Seokjin teased, kicking off his shoes and dropping onto Namjoon's bed like it was his own, either not noticing or pointedly ignoring Namjoon’s wince when Seokjin’s weight had the blanket coming untucked and the comforter going askew.

“He’s in my environmental science class and my dance elective,” Hoseok told them. “I know you guys are gonna like him.”

Yoongi wasn't particularly social, so he wasn’t thrilled with the idea of having to actually put effort into being a human when all he wanted to do was sit back and laugh at his friends being idiots. But he trusted Hoseok’s taste in people. Mostly. It would probably be fine. And if this Jimin guy didn’t vibe well with them, then oh well. It was just one night.

“Also just so you know,” Hoseok went on, sitting down in Namjoon’s desk chair only to get right back up again when Namjoon motioned that he wanted to sit there, “he’s really open about the fact that he likes men, so don't be, like, thrown off.”

“Are you trying to tell us something?” Yoongi teased, instinct telling him that humor was better than sitting there sulking about having to associate with new people. “Is this a meet the boyfriend thing?”

“No,” Hoseok huffed, aiming a punch at Yoongi's shoulder. “I just didn’t want anyone to be uncomfortable if he makes a comment.”

“None of us are gonna be uncomfortable,” Namjoon told him seriously, squinting at all of them as though to make sure his statement was accurate.

“I don’t know! I was just making sure!” Hoseok defended, holding his hands up. “I don’t know your lives.”

“Yes, you do,” Seokjin said on a laugh.

Hoseok huffed again.

But before they could discuss anything further, there was a knock on the door.

“Be cool,” Hoseok said, scrambling to get up from the floor to let them in.

“They’re freshmen,” Yoongi commented blandly, leaning back against the bed and holding out his hands when Namjoon made to toss him a can of beer.

At least there was alcohol. Having to interact with strangers was always less painful when there was alcohol.

“Guys,” Hoseok said, two people behind him and the door closed again. “This is Jimin and his roommate, Taehyung.”

Jimin looked like the teen heartthrob in some prime time TV show with his wavy, center-parted brown hair and his almost delicately handsome facial features. Not the kind of guy Yoongi usually found himself friends with (though Seokjin was always very self-praising when it came to his above average looks), but his smile was friendly as he greeted them, so Yoongi wasn’t going to write him off.

Taehyung, conveniently, seemed like he might be the best friend character of the male lead on that same TV show with his large eyes that darted around at all of them and his overly large grin that had just an edge of discomfort to it. And Yoongi definitely didn’t mean that as an insult- he knew he, himself, wouldn’t be cast on the show at all. You had to be better looking to be on TV. And both Jimin and Taehyung fit the bill.

“This is Namjoon, and Yoongi, and Seokjin,” Hoseok introduced, a hopeful smile on his face as everyone said their hello’s- bouncing excitedly on his heels like he was waiting for everyone to proclaim that they were all going to get along famously.

“There’s beer on the desk,” Yoongi offered, not making a move to get up and serve their guests, but figuring that offering was hospitable enough.

“Thanks!” Jimin said with a grin, graciously accepting the can Namjoon passed him and stepping aside so Taehyung could get a beer as well.

“So!” Hoseok exclaimed, wound up as ever. “You guys can make yourselves at home. Just sit anywhere.”

Jimin smiled and took a seat on the floor underneath the window, Taehyung following behind and sitting down right next to him.

“Gimme a beer!” Seokjin demanded from the bed, reaching out dramatically and flopping to the side.

Calmly, Namjoon leaned forward and handed him a can.

At least it seemed that the evening wouldn’t be too different.

 

---

 

Hoseok was right- Jimin was very easy to get along with. And though they hadn’t had a private huddle to confer, Yoongi felt it was pretty safe to say that they all liked him, just as Hoseok promised.

Currently, Jimin and Hoseok were on their feet to demonstrate a part of the dance they were learning in their elective, the rest of them scooting out of the way as well as they could in the cramped room.

“You guys should try to teach Seokjin,” Yoongi suggested from his spot on the floor, crowded into where the bed met the wall so he didn’t get in the way of anyone’s limbs.

“Why me?” Seokjin complained. “Why not you? Why not Namjoon?”

“Namjoon would be just as entertaining,” Yoongi allowed, taking a swig of his beer around a smirk as Seokjin continued to protest.

“Seokjin and Namjoon are hopeless,” Hoseok informed the newcomers so they would be in on the joke.

“Don’t say that. No one is hopeless,” Jimin tried, smile genial and posture relaxed like he had known them for longer than an hour and a half.

Yoongi envied the ease with which he was able to integrate into a situation since Yoongi was more of a stick to the wall and talk to only people he knew kind of guy.

He could see why Hoseok had taken such a liking to Jimin.

“No, they really are,” Hoseok told him. “Yoongi isn’t good, but there’s hope there. These two…” he gestured to Seokjin and Namjoon in turn and shook his head somberly.

Taehyung, sitting less than an arm’s length away from Yoongi as they both tried to stay out of the way, laughed loudly enough that Yoongi was momentarily startled. Not outwardly, but he turned his head on instinct toward the sound.

The effortless way that Jimin carried himself was not shared by Taehyung. It was like he was always thinking- trying to figure out if he should say something or do something, and if so, what? Yoongi could relate to that. But while Yoongi often decided, nah, I’ll just sit back and observe, Taehyung’s mental scrambling ended with him standing up to demonstrate the strange way he saw some guy hit a volleyball or a loud exclamation at one of Jimin’s stories before he shrunk back again.

There was an air of anxiousness that Yoongi picked up on from him, but that didn’t seem to stop Taehyung from enjoying himself.

When he didn’t appear to be frantically thinking about what to do next, he was listening to the conversations going on around him with unmistakable interest and focus, grinning widely or laughing loudly when he was amused.

All in all, the result was a bit erratic and overwhelming, but there was something endearing about Taehyung.

Despite his initial hesitance to bring any new people into their well-worn and comfortable group, Yoongi liked both Jimin and Taehyung. He wouldn’t mind hanging out with them again. And based on how much fun Seokjin and Namjoon seemed to be having, Yoongi guessed that this wouldn’t be the only time the two were invited.

“How does that guy in our class do this move?” Jimin was saying to Hoseok as he did some sinuous move with his hips, eyes sparkling with amusement for whatever he was gearing up for.

“Oh yeah!” Hoseok exclaimed, apparently knowing just what Jimin was talking about. “Like with unnecessary thrusts or something.”

Jimin nodded, laughing, and starting the move again, only this time punctuating every body roll with a sharp thrust of his hips.

“That’s it exactly!” Hoseok crowed, and Taehyung was clapping his hands as he bent over with peals of laughter.

Yoongi felt himself chuckling along, his unease from having to socialize with new people finally starting to drop away.

“Wait so you know the girl Hoseok is after?” Namjoon asked after the laughter had died down, referring to the girl in Hoseok's dance elective that he was always talking about.

Jimin nodded, grinning mischievously.

“Well?” Seokjin demanded, leaning forward and managing to kick one of Namjoon's pillows off the bed. “Is she everything Hoseok says she is?”

“I’m not- I don't-” Hoseok tried, looking a bit embarrassed, but everyone’s attention was on Jimin.

“She’s a good dancer,” he offered.

“No one here cares about that,” Seokjin cut in, and Taehyung cackled next to Yoongi.

“Do the stars shine in her eyes?” Namjoon mocked, even though Hoseok had never used that particular phrasing. Not that Yoongi could remember, anyway.

Jimin snorted. “I’m not sure about that,” he said, amused. “Though I'm probably not the one to ask since I'm usually busy looking at the guy with the hips.”

Hoseok laughed, shoving at Jimin’s shoulder, and Yoongi saw the twin looks of recollection on Seokjin’s and Namjoon’s faces. They’d forgotten.

Yoongi hadn’t forgotten, but it wasn’t like he’d been sitting there, fixated on that particular thing.

“Well, you're useless then because I want an opinion on the girl Hoseok likes,” Seokjin complained, equally as unconcerned about Jimin’s sexuality the second time he found out about it. “Does Taehyung know her?”

Taehyung's wide eyes when everyone turned to him had Yoongi thinking that he was surprised to be brought into this conversation. Or maybe that was just how he always looked when his eyes weren’t creased from laughing.

“I don’t know her,” Taehyung told the expectant faces turned toward him.

“Guess we won’t-” Namjoon had started before Taehyung spoke again, pulling the attention back to him.

“But,” Taehyung added, making sure the word was loud enough to halt the conversation before it could go too far off track, “I would be just as useless as Jimin.”

There was a moment as everyone processed that, Taehyung looking torn between looking defiant about his declaration and like he was nearly second guessing himself.

It didn’t take Yoongi long to ascertain what Taehyung meant, but he watched as realization settled over everyone else's features.

Yoongi felt a knot of tension form in his stomach. Not because he had anything against anyone being gay. It was just-

“You guys are roommates?” Namjoon confirmed. “That worked out well.”

It was just nothing, Yoongi decided. What did he care who either Jimin or Taehyung wanted to date? He didn’t.

“Are you guys, like…?” Hoseok asked, letting the question trail off.

Jimin laughed and Taehyung screwed up his face.

“Apparently not,” Yoongi snorted, Taehyung's scrunched up nose having him chuckling and fully abandoning whatever anxiousness his body had tried to force him into.

“Did you guys pick to be roommates?” Seokjin wanted to know.

“We’re freshmen,” Jimin reminded them, shaking his head in amusement. “Just a coincidence.”

Seokjin gaped, seemingly amazed by the serendipity. It was pretty unlikely.

“Jimin just walked in on the first day and announced it,” Taehyung told them all, pleased when Hoseok cackled.

“And Taehyung told me two weeks later,” Jimin cooed, teasing.

Face red, Taehyung pouted and tried to explain away his hesitation. But considering the easy way Jimin had made a gay joke at his own expense and Taehyung had made an effort to follow his example with only half the confidence, that made sense.

“Okay, Jimin,” Seokjin said when Taehyung and Jimin had stopped playfully bickering over exactly how Taehyung had initially brought it up. “You have an assignment.”

“Okay?” Jimin replied, smile stretching across his face before even knowing what was being asked of him.

“Pay attention to this girl next time and report back!” Seokjin demanded. “Inquiring minds want to know!”

Jimin laughed, sitting back down and accepting the fresh can of beer that Hoseok handed to him.

“I will do my best,” Jimin promised, only acknowledging Hoseok’s complaints that his crush wasn’t that big of a deal with an amused grin.

And that was how their group gained two more members.

 

---

 

Walking back to his room that night, Yoongi found himself moving more quickly than usual. He didn’t run, knew that was a bad idea after who knew how many beers, but his pace was clipped and his shoulders tense.

It was like he could feel something behind him- hiding between buildings, behind trees, in the dark windows of empty classrooms- hoping to catch him unawares. But he was aware. He always had been.

Yoongi had been feeling the shadow for as long as he could remember. Though he hadn’t understood the danger until he was a little older- eleven, maybe. Or perhaps earlier.

What he knew was that the foreboding presence had been with him since he had become cognizant.

Sometimes he went months without feeling like it was just a few steps behind him or waiting around the next corner. But no matter how long he was able to avoid it, it always came back. Always.

When he had been fifteen, it had been too quick, too sly, too ready to pounce. And Yoongi had been vulnerable- not ready for its attack that time.

It had enveloped him in its inky blackness- filling his lungs until he couldn’t breathe, clouding his vision until he couldn’t see.

Yoongi had thought that that was the end. He’d thought that it had gotten him.

Somehow, he’d managed to shake it off. He’d run and exhaled hard until the thick wisps had been cleared from his lungs and he could see the world again like he had.

He’d fought the shadow and won.

But it wasn’t a lasting victory. The shadow was back a few days later, keeping out of sight, but Yoongi could feel it.

It followed Yoongi to his classes, to his piano lessons, and home at night.

The shadow was never very far.

After nineteen years of keeping it at bay, Yoongi thought that he was pretty good at it. Though he knew that he could never relax, never slow down to let it catch up to him.

Because while he had fought it off once and lived to tell the tale, he knew it was likely that he wouldn’t be able to a second time. He didn’t know if he had it in him to extract himself from its clutches again.

Breath coming fast by the time he made it into his building and up the stairs, Yoongi was quick to close the door of his room behind himself and twist the lock on the handle.

Crawling into bed with a fuzzy mind and leaden limbs from the alcohol, he welcomed sleep with open arms.

He had lasted another day.

But in the morning, it would start all over again.

 

---

 

“Is this some kind of initiation?” Jimin asked, some mix between amused and horrified.

“You don’t have to do it,” Hoseok assured him.

“But if it makes you feel any better, we’ve all done much worse,” Seokjin cut in, grinning eagerly and obviously very much hoping that Jimin would accept the dare he’d just suggested.

Blowing a breath out of his nose, Jimin glanced behind himself at the professor in question.

“He has a wife!” Jimin lamented, gripping onto the plastic cafeteria chair like maybe he could melt into it and not have to go.

“So hopefully he won't respond and make everything even more awkward,” Namjoon said, and Jimin pouted in response.

Taehyung was watching everything like he was at a tennis match, and Yoongi was just grateful that this wasn’t his dare. Though that likely wouldn’t happen since flirting wasn’t exactly Yoongi's speciality. If someone was going to flirt with a professor, the hope would be that the professor would realize they were getting hit on, and Yoongi could make no such promises.

“You do flirt with everything with a pulse,” Hoseok allowed, and Yoongi couldn’t tell if that was meant as an encouragement to do it or a comfort.

It was true, either way. Jimin was just the type to whom flirting came naturally- his smiles seeming like he was sharing a secret and his touches easy.

He didn’t so much act that way with Yoongi since Yoongi's personality didn’t really encourage that kind of interaction, but he definitely did it with Taehyung and Hoseok, and even Seokjin and Namjoon to some extent. It didn’t mean anything except that Jimin was a flirt.

Perfect for the dare, honestly.

Jimin sighed, laughing nervously.

“Okay, okay,” he agreed. “I’ll do it.”

“Yeah!” Seokjin cheered quietly as Hoseok did a little celebratory dance.

“You got this,” Namjoon encouraged, patting Jimin on the back as he got up from the table.

With one more laughing grimace in their direction, Jimin was maneuvering between the tables of students enjoying their lunch and towards the lone professor eating a sandwich at a table near the back of the cafeteria.

The man was at least forty five, taught in the math department, and wore a wedding ring.

Yoongi was cringing inwardly as Jimin casually slid into the chair next to the man.

They were too far away to hear what he was saying, but the way his lips curved as his head tilted...it was obvious even from across the cafeteria that it was flirting.

Jimin laughed at something the man said, chin resting in his palm as he leaned in.

“Shameless,” Namjoon snorted appreciatively.

“He’s a master,” Hoseok agreed.

Yoongi sipped his coke as he watched, seeing Taehyung with a french fry halfway to his mouth that he seemed to have forgotten about with Jimin’s performance.

Jimin smiled, placing a hand on the professor's arm, and Seokjin hooted- Taehyung's knees hitting the underside of the table as he hunched over and giggled.

It was obvious as Jimin’s palm skated down his bicep that the professor had realized that this was no innocent conversation, gathering his things hastily and bidding Jimin goodbye.

They were all muffling laughter into their food as Jimin made his way back to their table, laughing silently through his obvious embarrassment.

“That was incredible!” Seokjin exclaimed as soon as Jimin was close enough that telling him so wouldn’t cause a scene. “You are a god!”

Not that Yoongi thought he’d been holding out, but if Seokjin had still had any reservations about Jimin, they were certainly squashed.

Jimin took a small bow even as he grimaced and giggled in mortification.

“That was...impressive,” Hoseok told him, still laughing in disbelief.

Namjoon offered a handshake, and Yoongi offered an air five over the table, not wanting to get up.

“Oh man, Jimin,” Taehyung laughed, smacking his knee under the table. “That was great.”

“You know, it’s probably your turn next,” Jimin told him with a quirk of his brows as he sat down to finally finish off his lunch.

The drastic change from happy amusement to disappointment and horror was comical- Taehyung’s eyes widening as his mouth dropped open and his lips went slack.

Yoongi snorted into his burger.

“I’m already brainstorming a dare for you,” Seokjin promised, cracking his knuckles theatrically and then wincing when one of his finger joints popped painfully.

Taehyung’s laughter was nervous as he absent-mindedly dipped a soggy fry into a pool of ketchup.

And after Jimin’s dare, Yoongi couldn’t blame him.

 

---

 

“Rap?” Taehyung squeaked, which was kind of a funny effect with his deep voice.

They were in the cafeteria again, but it was during the dinner rush, this time.

“You said you like rap,” Namjoon pointed out.

“Yeah, but-” Taehyung’s mouth worked for a second before words came out again. “But I didn’t say I could rap.”

“What about all those lyrics you talked about memorizing?” Yoongi couldn’t help but tease.

“But you guys want me to freestyle rap,” he hissed, eyes wide in panic.

Yoongi shrugged, lips quirking.

“That was practice,” Jimin offered. “It’s not like you’ve never rapped before.”

“Freestyle!” Taehyung repeated, voice too high.

“You can do it!” Hoseok encouraged as though the idea of a dare wasn't to make someone do something humiliating.

Taehyung let out some kind of whimper. “I need a minute.”

Seokjin shrugged, going back to his lasagna.

As Hoseok and Jimin recounted something that had happened during their dance elective earlier, Yoongi found himself watching Taehyung, who had not touched his food since being presented with the dare.

He was definitely not paying attention the the anecdotes being shared. Gaze unfocused, he was drumming on the table with his fingers- nerves radiating from him like heat from a fire.

Yoongi felt a little bad. He wanted to tell Taehyung that showing his weakness would only make it worse. But as someone who showed his every emotion on his face, Taehyung was likely not even able to do anything about it.

“Ready?” Hoseok asked a few minutes later, looking back over at Taehyung who still looked petrified, fingers tip-tapping against the tabletop like the manifestation of nerves spilling out.

Meeting his eyes and taking a deep breath, Taehyung nodded solemnly. “Okay.”

He rose up, looking determined, and made his way to the front of the room by the pop machines.

They were all silent, even Hoseok, as they waited for Taehyung to begin.

“Ayo,” he began, and Yoongi winced- face scrunching in a laugh.

“Oh god,” Seokjin chortled as Taehyung continued.

“It’s dinner time in the cafeteria…”

People were starting to pay attention now, and Taehyung’s forced confidence was seeping out of him with every word he uttered.

By the time he was wrapping up, Taehyung was wincing- cheeks flushed and shoulders hunched- and he scampered back to their table to a smattering of confused applause, laughter, and positive and negative yells.

“Oh my god,” he whined, slumping into his chair and burying his face in his arms.

“That was great,” Hoseok laughed, smacking him on the shoulder in congratulations.

“Iconic,” Seokjin offered.

“You did it!” Jimin enthused, an arm around Taehyung's shoulder.

Taehyung mumbled something into the crook of his elbow that was unintelligible, but clearly in the category of I am mortified.

“It could have been a lot worse, honestly,” Yoongi said, taking pity due to Taehyung's obvious distress and placing a hand on his back.

Head lifting slightly, Taehyung peered at Yoongi through his disheveled bangs.

“Really,” Yoongi insisted with a quirk of his lips. “You did good.”

Taehyung’s pout lessened and he scooted up on his chair so he was actually sitting on it properly.

“Go easy on him,” Jimin said with a fond smile, arm still around Taehyung. “He’s soft.”

“I am not!” Taehyung argued, voice louder than he intended with the way he shrank back immediately and glanced around him as though to make sure he hadn’t garnered anymore unwanted attention. “I’m not soft.”

“It’s not a bad thing,” Jimin assured him, hands held up in innocence.

“I’m not soft,” Taehyung insisted, though he didn’t seem like he was expecting any agreement.

“But just think!” Seokjin cut in with a snap of his fingers, setting his plastic cup down on the table with a crack. “Now you get to help think up dares for the rest of us.”

Yoongi watched as that sunk in, Taehyung's eyes taking on a mischievous glint as his lips stretched into a grin.

“Uh oh,” Hoseok joked, tipping back in his chair so it was balanced on just the back two legs.

It had Yoongi wanting to reach over and make him sit properly so he wouldn’t break his skull open on the floor and ruin dinner for everyone, but he fought the urge. He was too far away anyway.

“No, seriously,” Jimin said on a laugh. “Uh oh is right.”

Taehyung beamed proudly.

“Hoseok is next,” Namjoon stage whispered across the table.

Hoseok grinned. “Bring it on.”

 

---

 

“Yoongi! Come on!”

The yell was punctuated by a thud on the lower half of his door that shook it on its hinges.

“Hold on!” he called back, sounding as annoyed as he could, though considering this same routine happened twice a week before Composition II, he was more than used to it.

“Why aren't you ready?” Mimi complained, heavy boot thumping against the door again.

“For fuck’s sake,” Yoongi griped, pulling the door open and shouldering his backpack.

Mimi beamed, arms full of books as usual, leaving only her feet free for knocking. The black marks from the soles of her combat boots on the bottom of Yoongi's door were testimony to the fact that Mimi needed to utilize her backpack more and actually put things in it.

“We’re not even leaving late,” Yoongi said, rolling his eyes as he locked the door behind him.

“How was I supposed to know how long it was gonna take you?” Mimi defended, though she was still smiling- refusing to match Yoongi’s mood.

Grumbling some more, Yoongi followed Mimi down the hall and out of the building, though he wasn’t half as annoyed as he was acting. Mimi probably knew it, too.

They’d met the previous semester in Comp I, and had hit it off working on a group assignment. She was probably used to him and the enjoyment he took from complaining.

“So what was the deal in the quad yesterday?” she asked when Yoongi was squinting against sun and stepping out of the way of a kid on a skateboard.

“Huh?” Yoongi grunted, swallowing down a curse when a second skateboarder nearly ran over his toes.

“Your friend?” she prompted, shaking her head to get her blonde hair out of her face when the wind blew. “Climbing trees and yelling?”

“Yodeling,” Yoongi corrected her with a smirk, laughing as he recalled Taehyung’s dare for Hoseok that had been played out the day prior.

Hoseok trying not to fall out of a tree while doing a very poor impersonation of yodelling had been even funnier than it sounded. Laughter was also contagious, so Taehyung literally on the ground, laughing until he cried, had only made it funnier.

“Because that makes more sense,” Mimi snorted.

Yoongi shrugged, lips still curved up in a grin.

“I don’t understand you and your friends,” Mimi told him on a laugh, pushing her shoulder against the heavy door of the music building and using all of her weight to open it.

Not having to squint against the sun had Yoongi in a better mood as he stepped inside, air conditioning on too high for mid-fall.

Or maybe it was remembering Taehyung bursting out laughing an hour later during dinner at just the thought of Hoseok’s impressive performance that had Yoongi’s disposition brightening.

“You don’t have to understand,” he informed her, playing like their stupid dares were some lofty concept that were difficult to grasp. “But just know that I am the master among men.”

“Isn’t it supposed to be god among men or something?” Mimi asked, brows scrunched as she judged his proclamation.

“I wasn’t going to go that far,” Yoongi said, squaring his shoulders as they turned down the hallway that housed their class. “But you said it…”

“As if,” Mimi scoffed, shoving him in the bicep with her books and cackling when he nearly veered into the wall.

Yoongi just shrugged, righting himself again. “You did say it.”

 

---

 

“Stop! No!” Seokjin yelped, trying to get up from the pretzel twist he’d gotten himself into on the floor of Namjoon’s room and failing. “Someone take the Baileys away from Hoseok!”

“Why did you even buy it?” Yoongi asked, taking a swig of his third beer of the evening.

“So we can be fancy,” Seokjin said guilelessly before he went back to trying to swat the liquor out of Hoseok's hands from eight feet away. “Someone do something!”

Namjoon finally took pity on them both and got up from his desk chair, wrestling the bottle out of Hoseok's hands and passing it to Yoongi who set it between the bed and the wall.

“Why can’t Hoseok have Baileys?” Jimin asked, chuckling at Hoseok's pouting and complaints about being denied.

“Projectile vomiting,” Seokjin proclaimed sagely.

“And he stayed in Seokjin’s room through all of this,” Namjoon added, shedding some light on why Seokjin was the most concerned about Hoseok's alcohol consumption...despite being the one to have purchased the Baileys to begin with.

Taehyung winced through a chuckle, taking a swallow of his orange juice.

The past few times they’d all hung out, Taehyung had turned down the beers that were passed his way. He said he didn't really like to drink, which was fine. Yoongi wished he’d just said so to begin with instead of accepting the beer out of politeness. Because it wasn’t as though any of them were gonna force him. Seokjin had even started getting extra juice and pop when he went out to buy alcohol for all of them so Taehyung would still have something.

“Well that explains it,” Jimin laughed, patting Hoseok on the back even as he continued sulking.

“I wasn’t gonna drink enough to get sick,” Hoseok insisted.

“Best not to take any chances,” Seokjin said, and Hoseok made a face at him.

“Okay, shut up and listen to this,” Namjoon said before there could be any more bickering.

He pressed play on his boombox and a heavy beat filled the space, rapid fire rapping in a deep voice following.

Namjoon was always finding new, underground rappers to listen to. Yoongi too. Music was what they had bonded over initially, both aspiring rappers with a thirst for discovering new music and artists. They went to shows when they could and compared notes about the lyrics and beats they were working on.

Unsurprisingly, this latest find of his was good- the beat having Yoongi tapping his fingers against his nearly empty beer can along with it. Hoseok and Jimin were up, coming up with moves, and Taehyung, sitting cross legged to Yoongi's left, had his eyes closed- head bobbing with the music.

Yoongi's lips quirked to see his immersion. He definitely hadn’t been exaggerating when he said he liked rap music a lot.

After the mixtape ended, Namjoon put on something they’d listened to countless times and turned the volume down, allowing for Seokjin’s ramblings about his new Polaroid camera to be audible.

He pulled the camera out of his bag and brought it to his face, pressing the button to capture Yoongi with his knees to his chest, leaning against the wall- mechanics in the camera loud as it spit the photo out of the slot in the front.

“Can I see it?” Hoseok asked, getting up to take the black, plastic camera from Seokjin’s outstretched hand.

He put his eye to the viewfinder, rotating in a circle and appearing to be studying them all through the lens.

He finally settled on Namjoon, sitting in his desk chair with his ankle resting on his knee and a beer in his hand.

“Smile!” Hoseok instructed, and Namjoon obliged- holding still as the camera whirred.

The undeveloped picture was set on the desk and then Hoseok was back to peering through the viewfinder.

“Give it back,” Seokjin tried, reaching out even as Hoseok ignored the request.

Instead, he pointed it at Jimin who was posing, only to move it away as he hit the button- guaranteeing a blurred photo when the image appeared.

“Hey!” Jimin complained, getting up to smack Hoseok on the shoulder even as they both laughed. “That was gonna be a good picture!”

“Don’t waste the film!” Seokjin wailed, reaching out with both hands as though that might convince Hoseok to unhand his new toy.

“Lemme try,” Jimin requested, happily taking the camera when Hoseok handed it over. “Taetae, scoot over.”

Before Yoongi knew what was happening, Taehyung was leaning into him and holding up a peace sign as the flash went off and left spots dancing in Yoongi’s vision.

“Okay, Winston,” he teased, earning himself a hard shove to the shoulder and Taehyung laughing nearly in his ear.

“Fick, that film is expensive,” Seokjin complained loudly. “Give it back.”

Yoongi’s brows jumped.

“I’m sorry, what was that?” he asked, lips curving up into a smirk as he looked in Seokjin’s direction.

“Fuck,” Seokjin corrected himself emphatically as Yoongi laughed at him. “Fuck.”

“What’s fick?” Yoongi pressed, spurred on by Taehyung's loud laughter to his left. “How much Baileys have you had?”

“Fuck you,” Seokjin told him cheerfully, waving a middle finger in his direction.

“Fuck you or fick you?” Yoongi asked, amused grin tugging at his lips.

Taehyung cackled, smacking the ground with his palm.

“Geez, Yoongi isn’t that funny,” Hoseok snorted, promoting Taehyung to sit up and put some effort into quelling his laughter.

Seokjin got up from the bed to give Hoseok a high five, his unsteady steps letting Yoongi know that his assumption about Seokjin’s level of inebriation was pretty spot on.

Hoseok grinned, pleased by the response.

“I mean, right?” he went on even as Yoongi flipped him off. Hoseok knew what an actually angry Yoongi looked like, and a lazy middle finger was not it.

Looking to Jimin for agreement, Hoseok instead watched a silent exchange between Jimin and Taehyung- Jimin’s eyes sparkling as he wiggled his eyebrows while Taehyung flapped his hands and pouted in his direction.

“What? Why? What?” Hoseok asked, looking back and forth between the two. “What’d I miss?”

“Nothing,” Jimin said innocently, shooting a winning smile at Hoseok and Taehyung in turn. “Taehyung just thinks Yoongi is funny, that’s all.”

“I am funny,” Yoongi confirmed, but no one was paying him any mind.

Hoseok frowned, still appearing confused by the exchange.

“Taehyung thinks Yoongi is funny or…?” Namjoon asked, dimples appearing as he grinned in amusement.

“What?” Hoseok said again, looking around like everyone was in on something he wasn’t privy to.

Yoongi could feel the ball of dread forming in his stomach before his somewhat inebriated brain even caught up with what Namjoon was implying.

Seokjin howled when he caught the meaning.

What?” Hoseok repeated, getting agitated that he seemed to be the only one not in on the joke.

“I think Taehyung might have a little crush on our dear Yoongi,” Namjoon said with a chuckle.

Yoongi chanced a quick look at Taehyung, his eyes wide on Jimin and his mouth pulling down at the corners.

“Oh hoho!” Hoseok exclaimed, jovial now that he knew what everyone was talking about. “Is it true?”

He looked to Jimin for confirmation- the younger boy saying nothing, though his dancing eyes said enough.

“Yoongi, though?” Seokjin wanted to know, face screwing up comically. “Yoongi? When I’m here?”

Hoseok threw a piece of wadded up paper at Seokjin, Taehyung laughing weakly. Without even looking over, Yoongi could sense the discomfort pouring off him.

“Yoongi of all people, though,” Namjoon teased with a shake of his head.

“Hey,” Yoongi protested because that was pretty much his cue.

But he wasn't really focused on arguing in his favor, muscles tense and so aware of Taehyung’s proximity despite the fact he was two feet away.

There was some agreement from Hoseok and some more ribbing at Yoongi's expense that he disagreed with on autopilot.

“It’s not…” Taehyung tried, eyes wide and panicked on Yoongi when he finally looked over.

Yoongi shrugged, looking away.

“I am god-like, some would say,” he offered easily with a smirk.

“Who says that?” Seokjin demanded, and Yoongi shrugged again, leaning back against the wall casually.

After that, Jimin turned the conversation toward Hoseok's crush and his latest observations- probably wanting to rescue Taehyung from his embarrassment.

Yoongi was glad to be out of the spotlight, as well.

Though even as Hoseok was teased, Yoongi couldn’t shake the tightness in his chest- the dread weighing heavy in his belly.

He forced himself to sit still, but all he wanted to do was climb out if his own skin.

 

---

 

Yoongi hadn’t been able to help the swift trot he’d employed to get home that night.

The shadow had been right behind him- tickling the hair on his nape and sending chills down his spine.

Even worse, it had been with him in Namjoon’s room, hovering and leaking its inky blackness so Yoongi couldn’t help but breathe it in.

It was suffocating.

But with the others in the room, he hadn’t been able to flee- couldn’t exactly explain the threat that loomed for him and him alone.

The shadow had been tucked between the bed and the wall, skirting the perimeter of the room and reveling in Yoongi’s fear- fear that he couldn't outwardly show.

As soon as everyone had started dispersing for the night, Yoongi had been on his feet- skin prickling with the proximity of the shadow and the instinctive urge to escape.

Even the cool night air as he briskly made for his room hadn’t been a relief because the shadow had nearly kept pace with him, just a step behind him.

It was sheer force of will that kept it from lunging forward and suffusing into Yoongi's body.

Closing his door with a heavy thump behind him, Yoongi could feel the way his heart was pounding under his ribs, breath fast and hands trembling.

That had been close. Too close.

Yoongi wished he could feel more relieved that he’d escaped for the time being, but the victory was temporary. He was already thinking about the next time he’d have to fight it off.

He couldn’t prepare, not really. All he could do was try to remain strong and wait.

Because the shadow would come back. It always did.

 

---

 

“Am I allowed to cover my junk?” Seokjin wanted to know, t-shirt over his head and being thrust into Yoongi's hands.

The night air against Yoongi's bare arms was a touch too cold, so he imagined Seokjin must have been pretty chilly as he stepped out of his jeans.

Currently, they were all behind the science building and out of the glow of the lights that lit campus at night. But in a moment, Seokjin would be running a lap around the main walking path.

It was late enough that campus was nearly dead. More importantly, it was empty enough that Seokjin wouldn't get busted. There was the occasional straggler, however, so Seokjin’s state of undress would be witnessed by people other than themselves.

“Well, I don't want to see it,” Namjoon said in response to Seokjin’s question.

“But wouldn’t it be great if he was waving his arms around like a crazy person?” Hoseok countered, getting a laugh out of Taehyung.

“That is a compelling idea,” Jimin admitted, glancing over at an underwear-clad Seokjin.

“Come on,”Seokjin complained, looking to each of them imploringly.

As often happened, all eyes turned to Yoongi, everyone waiting for him to offer something definitive.

He sighed. “How about one hand covering, one waving around.”

Seokjin didn’t appear thrilled with that, but he didn't argue- knowing that was the best he was gonna get.

“Sounds reasonable,” Jimin said with a grin, eyes twinkling with mischief.

Arms crossed in front of him, probably more due to the chill in the air than modesty, Seokjin just stood there in his underwear, waiting for the go ahead.

“Whenever you're ready,” Namjoon told him with a laugh, and Seokjin grimaced.

Hoseok quietly hooted as Seokjin stepped out of his underwear, Taehyung muffling laughter into his palm.

“If you guys aren't here with my clothes when I get back, I will personally kill each and every one of you,” Seokjin threatened, pointing at them menacingly with the hand not currently occupied covering himself.

“We will be,” Yoongi said with a roll of his eyes. “Just go.”

After giving them all one last look, Seokjin ran out from behind the building- one arm waving frenetically and his bare back seeming to glow under the lights.

The visual was immediately funny, having all of them hunched over and trying to keep from making too much of a ruckus with their laughter. This was one of those dares that would actually get them (Seokjin, in this case) in trouble if they were caught.

“Should we leave?” Yoongi joked, earning a smack on the arm from Namjoon and a loud cackle from Taehyung.

“And miss this?” Hoseok asked, gesturing to Seokjin rounding the bend by the dining hall where a couple of guys were hanging out. Their hoots and jeers had them all nearly collapsing in laughter again.

“This is so good,” Namjoon snickered, leaning against the wall and watching as some guy started clapping as Seokjin whizzed by.

“It is,” Hoseok agreed. “Almost makes me wish we’d saved this one for Yoongi. Maybe something would finally get to him.”

“Eh,” Yoongi said, eyes still on Seokjin as he swerved around a girl and appeared to be apologizing even as he ran and flapped his arm around. “Doesn’t seem that embarrassing.”

Truth be told, he was very glad that he wasn’t the one streaking. That definitely would have been embarrassing, but it wasn’t like he would show it- not now and not if he’d actually been asked to do it.

Hoseok scoffed at his nonchalance, annoyed as ever, and Yoongi grinned.

“Well,” he finally countered, nudging Yoongi in the side and obviously setting up for a jibe, “at the very least, Taehyung would have appreciated it if we’d dared you to do it.”

Taehyung’s face was a deep red, visible even in the low light when Yoongi instinctively glanced over out of the corner of his eye.

Unlike so many other times, Yoongi had nothing to counter with. Taehyung’s weak chuckle was the only sound that cut through someone yelling at Seokjin to put some pants on.

Yoongi shrugged, watching as Seokjin finally started to make his way back to them from the other side of the quad. The view was just as funny from this angle, and despite feeling dread trickling down his spine, Yoongi couldn’t help but snort at the sight of Seokjin.

“I would enjoy this no matter what,” Jimin cut in, waggling his brows and making Taehyung laugh, for real this time.

“Even if it was you?” Namjoon countered with a chuckle.

“I have nothing to hide,” Jimin told them confidently, and Hoseok shoved him on the shoulder.

“Jimin really does have good abs,” Taehyung confirmed, as though that was the only thing a person needed to feel comfortable running naked through campus.

“Be careful what you volunteer for,” Namjoon laughed. “Hoseok is probably already getting ideas.”

Hoseok rubbed his hands together ominously before bursting out laughing.

Aaaah!” Seokjin yelled, speeding by them and back around the building so he was out of sight. “Clothes!”

Yoongi dutifully held them out before, drawing back. “I didn’t hear a please,” he taunted, smirking at how very impatient Seokjin looked. Though it was cold and Seokjin was completely naked, so it was understandable.

“Yoongi! For fuck’s sake!” he exclaimed, one hand shielding himself and the other reaching out.

Cackling, Yoongi handed the pile over and snorted at Seokjin’s slew of expletives and nonsense sounds as he got dressed.

“So Jimin basically volunteered to do this next,” Hoseok put in when Seokjin was stepping into his jeans.

“Not sure if I can recommend it,” Seokjin told him, fumbling with his shirt to get it facing the right way and right side out. “But it was certainly an experience. By all means, be my guest.”

“As entertaining as that would be, I vote we get out of here before campus security shows up,” Namjoon cut in.

“I second,” Yoongi piped up, moving in the general direction of the dorms when Namjoon started off. “Hoseok,” he added, throwing an arm around his friend’s shoulders, “if you want to get Jimin naked, you're gonna have to do it another time.”

“Shut up,” Hoseok said, shoving a cackling Yoongi off of him.

“Aw, if you wanted me naked, all you had to do was ask,” Jimin told him, sidling up to him and batting his eyes.

Hoseok groaned. “That’s not how I meant-”

“Mmhmm, sure sure,” Yoongi taunted, gratified with Taehyung's loud laughter behind him and Seokjin’s snickering.

“Did I mention how flexible I am?” Jimin was saying as Hoseok adamantly tried to explain himself.

Hands shoved into his pockets as he walked, Yoongi enjoyed his teasing being carried on without him.

Any evening that ended with Hoseok flapping his arms and insisting he didn’t want to sleep with Jimin was a good one.

Add Seokjin having to make a fool of himself, and it was nearly perfect.

Nearly.

Taehyung's promises that he’ll give them some alone time in his and Jimin’s shared room served to remind Yoongi of the discomfort from earlier that he had swallowed.

But the moment was over and everyone had probably already forgotten. If only he had as well.

 

---

 

“I just had the most brilliant idea,” Seokjin announced, letting himself back into Namjoon’s room after a snack run that he had gotten stuck with when he lost rock, paper, scissors.

“Based on how many beers are in you, I doubt that,” Yoongi replied dryly.

“No, it’s great!” Seokjin insisted, setting the plastic bag on the desk and kicking his shoes off. “It’s the perfect dare for Taehyung.”

Taehyung looked over in surprise, can of soda halfway to his mouth. “Why me?”

“Because it’s perfect!” Seokjin exclaimed, though that wasn’t exactly an answer. “Namjoon, you took lit last semester, right?”

“Yeah…”

“So, you have Romeo and Juliet around here somewhere, right?” Seokjin wanted to know.

Namjoon raised his eyebrows. “Yeah? I think? Should be on the bookshelf over there.”

Seokjin enthusiastically made his way over to the shelf and, after a few seconds of looking, held up the dog-eared paperback triumphantly.

“Balcony scene, balcony scene,” he muttered to himself, flipping through the pages too erratically to be doing a thorough job of looking.

“Give me that,” Yoongi finally said with a roll of his eyes, sitting forward and snatching the book out of Seokjin’s hands.

“Hey!” Seokjin protested, making a grab for it.

“I’ll find the scene for you,” Yoongi told him, already scanning over the words and flipping ahead.

Satisfied with that, Seokjin sat back.

“So, what’s the dare?” Hoseok asked when Seokjin didn’t make any move to explain further.

“Oh yeah!” Seokjin beamed, sitting up to address his audience.

“Here,” Yoongi grunted, leaning forward to pass the book back- finger stuck in the correct page.

“So, I was thinking Taehyung could rap Romeo’s monologue from the balcony scene,” Seokjin told them, taking the book from Yoongi with a flourish.

Jimin frowned. “That doesn’t sound very-”

“But the kicker is that he has to rap it to Yoongi and keep eye contact with him the whole time,” Seokjin finished, looking proud of himself.

Yoongi felt his stomach drop to the floor- not a long fall since he was sitting down, but the swooping sensation wasn’t pleasant regardless. Why should he have to take part in Taehyung’s dare? That didn’t seem fair. That seemed like a legitimate complaint.

“That’s pretty good,” Namjoon agreed, and Seokjin very nearly preened.

“Hey, if it’s Taehyung’s dare, how come I have to be a part of it?” Yoongi griped.

Given his history of wanting to avoid doing stuff, no one seemed surprised that he was protesting. Though no one appeared particularly sympathetic to his plight either.

“You just have to sit there,” Seokjin assured him, scooting over to give the book to a nervous looking Taehyung and gesture for him to move closer to Yoongi.

“Oh, hold on,” Namjoon requested, getting up from his bed to grab a cassette from a drawer. “I have some beats on here that he can rap to.”

“And Yoongi can even give him tips when he’s done!” Hoseok piped up, looking pleased with the whole arrangement.

“Why would I do that?” Yoongi asked with a sigh, slouched over and dreading everything.

“Because you rap!” Hoseok told him. “And Taehyung doesn’t, but kind of does. It’ll be like a two-for.”

A beat started playing from the tinny speakers of Namjoon’s tape deck, and Taehyung looked just as troubled by his dare as Yoongi was.

“Wait,” Yoongi said, speaking over the background track and hoping to delay the inevitable. “If Taehyung is doing Romeo’s monologue, then am I supposed to be Juliet in this scenario?”

Jimin snorted, slumping sideways and smacking Hoseok as they both laughed.

“If the shoe fits,” Seokjin offered, pushing Taehyung until he was sitting cross-legged in front of Yoongi.

“It doesn’t, though,” Yoongi grumbled, though no one was paying him any mind.

“Plus,” Seokjin went on, “Taehyung is clearly Romeo.”

At that, Taehyung almost seemed pleased, shoulders squaring and lips pulling up a bit, before he seemed to remember himself and he shrunk back with a nervous glance at Yoongi.

“Start whenever,” Seokjin instructed, sitting almost as close to Yoongi as Taehyung was and looking as excited as Yoongi was not. “Eye contact! Don’t forget!”

“I have to read though,” Taehyung reminded him, mouth open slightly as he waited for Seokjin to reply in a way that reminded Yoongi a little bit of a goldfish.

He had to fight off the smile before someone misunderstood.

“Well, look back and forth between the book and Yoongi,” Seokjin said impatiently. “Just make it work!”

Taehyung nodded, bracing himself, and taking a couple of seconds to feel the beat- head bobbing and fingers tapping against the creased cover of the play.

“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?” Taehyung started, a bit shaky, but not actually bad. “It is the east and Juliet is the sun.”

He paused, eyes boring into Yoongi’s and making a tight knot of tension form in Yoongi’s chest as he forced himself not to look away.

“Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,” Taehyung went on, glancing back at the page before settling on Yoongi’s eyes again. His face was about eight shades of red, but he didn’t look away- not until he had to read the next line. “Who is already sick and pale with grief.”

A laugh to his left had Yoongi turning his head, but before he could shoot a glare at the culprit, Seokjin’s fingers were pressing into his cheek and making him face Taehyung again.

Yoongi sighed loudly even as his nails dug into his palms to have Taehyung’s big eyes so fixed on him again.

“It is my lady, O, it is my love!” Taehyung was rapping when Yoongi started listening again. “O that she knew she were!”

Despite his nervously drumming fingers and his enflamed face, Taehyung was fully invested in this dare of his- eyes boring into Yoongi’s as he did his best to rap the famous monologue at him.

Taking a deep breath and schooling his face, Yoongi tried not to squirm under Taehyung’s stare.

“Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,” Taehyung continued, deep voice repeating the words on the page. “Having some business, do entreat her eyes to twinkle in their spheres till they return.”

A snort from behind him, and Yoongi forced himself not to turn lest he end up with Seokjin’s fingers digging into his face again.

It was all Yoongi could do not to look away from Taehyung as he went on- the second half of the monologue even sappier than the first half. But even though this wasn’t even his dare, he didn’t want to break. All he had to do was sit there, as Seokjin had said. That actually made it worse, in some ways, but he could do it.

At the very least, he was sure he was less red than Taehyung who looked like a very intensely determined tomato.

Finally, Taehyung made it to the last lines.

“See how she leans her cheek upon her hand,” he said rhythmically. “O that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek!”

“Do it!” Hoseok hooted. “Touch his cheek!”

Yoongi scowled, finally allowed to look away from Taehyung who was still staring at him even though he’d concluded the monologue, and therefore, the dare as well.

Seokjin started clapping, keeping at it until everyone sans Yoongi and Taehyung joined in, looking pleased with himself.

“That was beautiful,” he mock-sobbed. “So romantic. So touching.”

Yoongi grimaced.

“So fitting as well,” Namjoon teased, eyes twinkling and dimples appearing in his cheeks. “Yoongi is very sun-like.”

“Fuck you,” Yoongi tossed back, knowing that that had been pure sarcasm.

“So how’d he do?” Hoseok pressed when all Yoongi wanted to do was move the fuck on and pretend that had never happened.

“Fine,” he gritted out.

“Wow, you’re a terrible teacher,” Hoseok said, probably trying to provoke Yoongi into disagreeing and giving a thorough rundown of Taehyung’s rap skills. But Yoongi was in no mood.

“Yep,” he agreed, holding his hands out as Namjoon helped himself to another beer.

“I think he did great,” Jimin proclaimed, grinning proudly and scooting over to throw an arm around Taehyung’s shoulders.

“Yoongi, why did you look so uncomfortable?” Seokjin asked, chuckling at Yoongi’s embarrassment just like best friends ought to.

Yoongi levelled him with a look. “Have you ever had someone rap a Shakespearean monologue at you? It’s fucking weird.”

“I would be honored if someone rapped Shakespeare at me,” Seokjin sniffed. “Ungrateful piece of shit.”

Yoongi flipped him off and Seokjin laughed.

A glance back at Taehyung as Yoongi opened his fresh can revealed that Taehyung was still blushing- eyes darting to Yoongi only to quickly look away when he saw Yoongi was watching him.

Yoongi leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes. That had happened, but now it was over.

He had a creeping feeling, however, that it was far from over. He’d let his own discomfort show too much, and now they were going to be clamoring to get him to crack.

The stakes were even higher now.

Yoongi couldn’t show his weakness.

 

---

 

“Hey Yoongi,” Hoseok said when Yoongi returned from clearing his dinner dishes a few days later.

There had been a little bit of teasing regarding Taehyung’s crush on him, and few more cracks about him being a terrible Juliet, but there hadn’t been anymore dares regarding the two of them despite Yoongi’s fear.

Hoseok’s tone and the mischievous grin, however, spoke of nothing good.

“What?” Yoongi asked, trying to ignore the bad feeling he had.

“I have a dare for you,” Hoseok nearly sang, waiting for Yoongi to accept.

“Did you just think of it while I was getting rid of my dishes?” Yoongi asked with a quirk of his brow.

“Yep!” Hoseok informed him with a smile.

Looking around at the rest of the table, it seemed that they were just as in the dark as Yoongi was.

“What is it?” he asked on a sigh, watching as Hoseok sat forward with glee.

“Hold Taehyung’s hand for the whole walk back to the dorms,” he told Yoongi, eagerly waiting for a reaction.

“Are we twelve?” Yoongi complained, pinching the bridge of his nose- more an affectation of annoyance than an attempt to stop a headache. So far, anyway.

“Aw, come on!” Hoseok cajoled, still looking hopeful when Yoongi cracked his eyes open. “It’ll be good!”

“Also, you’re basically daring Taehyung to do something, too,” Yoongi pointed out, voice even.

Hoseok huffed. “But he’ll enjoy it more than you.”

Jimin rolled his eyes and socked Hoseok on the arm.

What?” he defended, rubbed exaggeratedly at the spot he’d been hit.

“Doesn’t mean he wants to hold my hand walking across campus, Hoseok,” Yoongi scoffed, swallowing down the discomfort of the sound of those words in his own voice.

Pouting, Hoseok sighed. “Okay, okay. It can be a dare for both of you.”

All eyes were on Taehyung then, and Yoongi was hoping he would refuse- say that he’d just completed a dare a couple days ago. But despite the flush of his cheeks and his uneasy eyes as he glanced sideways at Yoongi, Taehyung shrugged.

“Okay,” he agreed. “As long as I get credit for doing a dare, too.”

“Great!” Hoseok clapped his hands once. “Shall we get going?”

Yoongi sighed loudly, just so everyone knew that he was inconvenienced by Hoseok's whims, though he got up to follow the others out of the cafeteria.

They stalled when they stepped out into the crisp fall air, doors of the building that housed the cafeteria closing behind them with a thump.

Taehyung was fidgeting, rubbing his hands against his jeans.

“Okay,” Hoseok was saying, “from here to the dorms.”

Yoongi, appearing as unamused as possible, held out a hand, instinctively closing his grip when Taehyung’s warm palm met his.

Hoseok was smiling gleefully as he admired the result of his dare. He snickered.

“Never thought I'd see Yoongi holding someone’s hand,” Namjoon observed with some amusement.

“Taehyung’s hand might wither away,” Seokjin added sagely. “He is truly risking everything.”

“This is stupid,” Yoongi said with a scowl. “Can we walk?”

Namjoon snorted at his petulance, but began moving in the direction of the dorms.

Walking while holding hands...it was pretty impractical, in Yoongi’s opinion. He had to take care to move at the same pace as Taehyung, not to mention the fact that they had to move as one large unit to skirt around people going the other direction.

Yoongi didn’t even want to think about if anyone had noticed them holding hands and if they were thinking things.

“Why is your hand so sweaty?” Yoongi griped when they about halfway back to the dorms.

Taehyung was looking at him a bit panicked when Yoongi glanced over...and up.

“Sorry,” he hastily apologized, letting out an awkward chuckle, but looking so cowed that Yoongi felt bad for bringing it up.

Shrugging, Yoongi looked back in the direction they were walking. Having Taehyung's insistent gaze on him for too long had him feeling cagey.

“It’s fine,” he said, not knowing if Taehyung was still watching him since he was determinedly facing forward.

“Okay,” Taehyung said quietly, too late for a natural pause before a reply.

Taehyung's fingers flexed before regripping his hand, and Yoongi swallowed.

“Almost there!” Hoseok informed them unnecessarily, beaming as he matched their pace before hurrying ahead to fall into step with Seokjin.

There was dread rising in Yoongi’s gut that he was powerless to stop.

Even when Taehyung let go of his hand and they went inside, the unease was still there. It gripped him like a threat.

One wrong move, and it would all be over.

 

---

 

Yoongi felt like he was choking, lungs constricted and throat tight. It was the shadow, he knew. It was trying to wrap around his neck, slither down his throat until he couldn’t breathe in clean air. It wanted to permeate every fiber of his being until he couldn’t even dream of escaping.

His skin was crawling like it wasn’t his own and prickling with sensitivity that only served as a reminder of how much he wished he could shed it and escape.

The shadow had been looming, waiting until he was alone, until he was distracted, to really make its move.

Stepping into a shower stall in the communal bathroom in his building, Yoongi ripped his shirt with the ferocity with which he yanked it over his head.

Save for peeling off his own skin, scalding water was all Yoongi could think to relieve the unease gripping his entire being.

Pants kicked off, Yoongi turned the water on as hot as he could bear it and stood under the spray. He winced at the temperature, but it was a welcome distraction from the discomfort crawling across his skin and the looming danger of being swallowed alive by the dark mass that was hovering nearby.

It was like the shadow was trying to weaken him, break down his resolve. But he wouldn’t crumble so easily.

Water droplets rolled down the white tale in front of him, and Yoongi closed his eyes, focusing on the heat of the water and nothing else.

His skin prickled as the hot water beat down against his shoulders. He wished he could scald the shadow off him, but while the need to shed his own skin was lessening, his chest was still tight- dregs of the shadow coating the inside of his lungs.

Breathing in deep, Yoongi tried to imagine the darkness clinging to the steam he inhaled and being exhaled toward the tiled ceiling.

The panic was ebbing, and Yoongi braced his hands on the wall and let his head hang. He was tense still, but so, so exhausted.

The shadow was getting stronger everyday and he was getting weaker.

There was no one he could turn to for help. He was on his own.

It was all up to him, and Yoongi was starting to doubt his ability to to keep it at bay.

But he had to keep up the fight. He had to.

 

---

 

Yoongi couldn’t catch a break. Even when he wasn’t being dared to do anything, even when Taehyung wasn’t being dared to do anything, the guys didn't let up. They’d still tease and make comments and take care to be sure Yoongi was next to Taehyung.

Even just the slightest sign of weakness and they were like vultures who smelled carrion. He couldn’t blame them- he had been so careful to never like them see him sweat. Of course they were going to jump on the opportunity to get him back for all the dares he’d given them that had had them cringing and wanting to hide until the embarrassment had worn off.

It was all Yoongi’s fault. He hadn’t masked his discomfort and now he was paying the price. He’d ruined everything for himself.

Being crammed into a booth with Taehyung smushed into his side wasn’t so bad. Not without the implications.

It was nice to have immediate and loud laughter beside him when he made a sarcastic remark. Though it was less nice when it was an exclamation at Jimin on the other side of the table right in his ear.

But Yoongi wasn’t entirely consumed with his own problems. He felt bad for Taehyung, too. It was obvious all the suggestive eyebrow waggling, teasing, and shoves to sit down next to Yoongi embarrassed him.

When they were all hanging out in one of their rooms and they were forced to sit next to each other, Taehyung always started off sitting so stiffly- like if he relaxed and listed even slightly closer to Yoongi, an alarm would go off. He’d be so tense that would make Yoongi nervous by proxy.

But as time wore on and the others weren’t so focused on playing sadistic matchmaker, Taehyung would relax- sprawling comfortably and ending up in Yoongi's space despite his initial reluctance.

Occasionally, he’d realize that he was nearly leaning against Yoongi's side as he listened to Seokjin tell a tale of how some kid in his morning class had gotten a piece of chalk thrown at their head and he would straighten back up with reddened cheeks and a nervous, sideways glance at Yoongi. But usually he didn’t even notice that his knee was pressed against Yoongi’s thigh or that he didn't need to speak so loudly when he asked Yoongi a question about his music because they were mere inches away.

It wouldn't have been bad, except for the fact that Yoongi never forgot that Taehyung was next to him or that their friends could have been paying attention to their proximity. A couple of beers would take the edge off, but Yoongi still could never completely relax.

It was all taking a toll on him, and he was exhausted.

Which was why he couldn’t help the confused curse that spilled from his lips when he got home from class and found Taehyung sitting on his bed, looking sheepish.

Taehyung winced when Yoongi swore, and made Yoongi immediately feel guilty.

He wasn’t mad at Taehyung. Obviously, this hadn’t been his idea. It had been Seokjin’s.

He knew that for a fact because, when he’d run into Seokjin on his way to class that morning, Seokjin had told him that he’d left a book for class in Yoongi’s room the night before. So, Yoongi had given him his keys- planning to pick them up from Seokjin’s room on the way home, which he had.

He really should have known that Seokjin had pulled something like this- making Taehyung sit in his room and wait for him. He’d been trying to invite himself over, too, when Yoongi had picked up his keys. Probably to see his reaction. Fortunately, Yoongi had been adamant about being too tired. But he really should have known.

“Seokjin dared you to do this?” Yoongi sighed, closing his door behind him and toeing off his shoes.

Taehyung nodded, turning red and chewing on his lower lip.

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung apologized, looking like he wanted the floor to swallow him.

“Not your fault,” Yoongi grumbled, shrugging out of his jacket and leaning his hip against his desk chair.

“Um,” Taehyung started, fidgeting amping up despite the fact that the big reveal was over. “If anyone asks can you-”

Taehyung cut himself off, wide eyes on Yoongi’s face before they darted away as his cheeks colored more.

“Can you tell them I was waiting in my underwear? They told me to, but-”

“Christ,” Yoongi muttered, feeling annoyance anew welling up in his chest. Couldn’t they just let it go? Was Taehyung in his underwear really necessary? Unbidden, the image of Taehyung waiting on his bed in only his underwear popped into Yoongi's head. He-

“I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable or gross you out or-”

Yoongi shook his head before Taehyung had finished speaking.

Yeah, he would have been uncomfortable, but that wasn't Taehyung's problem. And the fact that he hadn’t done as he’d been asked for Yoongi’s sake-

Something kind of warm and disconcerting slithered in next to the annoyance in Yoongi’s chest, but he ignored it.

“You’re fine,” Yoongi told Taehyung. “Thanks for- but this isn't your fault, okay? You don’t have to feel guilty or be worried about my feelings. They're being as relentless to you. It's them.”

Taehyung nodded, appearing a bit relieved, but still uneasy. He probably wanted to go back to his own room. It hadn’t been his choice to sit in Yoongi’s room. He probably had homework to do or something.

“I’ll tell them you were in your underwear,” Yoongi said, carefully keeping his voice even. “You’ve done your dare.”

Taehyung blew out a breath, lips pulling up into an uncharacteristically timid smile. “Thanks.”

Yoongi nodded, feeling the furrow of his own brows. This was more than he’d been prepared for after a long day.

“Um,” Taehyung started again. “I’ll…”

He gingerly got up from the bed and made a careful step toward the door.

“Yeah,” Yoongi nodded again, gesturing to the closed door. “See ya tomorrow probably.”

“See ya,” Taehyung agreed, quickly making the last few steps to the door before turning the handle and managing to hit himself in the toe with the door in his haste to exit.

A sheepish smile and wide, nervous eyes were the last things Yoongi saw before the door closed and he was left alone, just like he’d wanted.

For some reason, it took another minute before he moved to go sit on his bed.

 

---

 

“You owe me ten bucks,” Seokjin insisted, leaning forward in the grass to point at Namjoon. “I got a late fee for that video because it was in your room.”

“For the last time,” Namjoon countered, reclined with his hands holding his weight and his legs stretched out in front of him, “I kept telling you it was in my room and asking you to pick it up. It's not my fault you kept saying I’ll get it tomorrow .”

Seokjin sighed theatrically, looking thoughtful for a second before he grinned hopefully. “Five dollars?”

Namjoon snorted. “No.”

Groaning in defeat, Seokjin flopped back onto the grass, complaining further as he reached underneath himself and tossed away an acorn.

Yoongi chuckled, not particularly sympathetic. Namjoon truly had told Seokjin to pick up the tape multiple times.

He was relaxed, something he hadn’t been feeling much lately. But for a week or so, Yoongi had somehow managed to avoid any Taehyung related dares. Sure, he’d had to follow Hoseok around for three hours and call him sir (and that included going to a lecture with him where he had to explain at least four times to those who asked that no, he was not in this class, but he was here because his employer wanted help taking notes that day), but as he always had in the past, Yoongi had completed the task with an indifference that the others could only dream of.

The reprieve from being reminded of Taehyung’s crush had had the knot of tension in Yoongi’s chest loosen after feeling like it was so tight, he might just cease to breathe.

But with this group, it was too much to hope that they were done with them completely.

“You’re so cruel, Namjoon,” Seokjin complained. “So cruel.”

Hoseok laughed, nudging Seokjin’s leg with his sneaker clad toe. “Why don't you give Yoongi that dare you were telling me about?” he suggested. “Would that cheer you up?”

“Oh!” Seokjin exclaimed, sitting up fast enough that he winced and rubbed at his side before he focused his attention on Yoongi.

The dread that slammed into him had Yoongi fighting not to show it on his face as Seokjin grinned wickedly.

Technically,” he went on, cementing Yoongi’s fears, “it's a dare for Taehyung, too.”

Taehyung was wearing the blank expression that appeared on his face when he was caught off guard. Apparently, he wasn't as pessimistic as Yoongi regarding what his friends would find entertaining.

“I would like to see,” Seokjin said grandly, “Yoongi sit on Taehyung's lap. Here.”

Yoongi tried not to blanch, throat feeling too dry all of the sudden.

Hoseok was grinning widely, like his suggestion that Seokjin voice his dare was worthy of gloating.

“I would like to say that I’d enjoy watching that occur,” Namjoon added, earning himself a pleased smile from Seokjin, who was also gloating.

“How long?” Yoongi asked, the thrum of his pulse loud in his ears and his left arm prickling with the knowledge that Taehyung was less than a foot away- probably looking at him with his huge eyes.

Yoongi forced himself not to check, keeping his gaze steady on Seokjin.

“A half hour?” he suggested with a shrug that said he hadn’t thought it through beyond the initial idea.

“Don’t make Taehyung withstand Yoongi’s boney ass on him for that long,” Namjoon argued, and Yoongi was torn between being affronted by the slight his ass had just received and being grateful that he wasn’t going to have to be the one to protest.

“Excuse me,” he settled on, shooting Namjoon a look.

Namjoon laughed. “You know it’s true, though. I’m just trying to save Taehyung a lot of discomfort.”

“Fifteen minutes?” Seokjin tried, looking back and forth between Yoongi and Namjoon.

“Ten,” Yoongi gritted out, not enough of a fool to think that anyone would go for five.

Seokjin surveyed the rest of the group for reactions, and apparently was satisfied.

“Okay,” he agreed, looking no less eager to see Yoongi suffer. “Ten minutes.”

Taehyung stretched his legs out in front of him, looking unsure about whether or not that was what he was supposed to be doing.

Nodding eagerly, Seokjin gestured at Taehyung like he was saying to Yoongi this is your chance.

Sighing again, just so there was no mistaking that he didn't want to do this, Yoongi scooted over and raised up a bit so he could sit down in Taehyung's thighs.

Hoseok wolf whistled and Yoongi rolled his eyes. “The scandal,” he said sarcastically.

Sitting on the lap of an adult as an adult wasn’t as comfortable as he remembered from climbing to sit on his grandmother's lap as a child, but that was to be expected.

Yoongi could feel the shift of Taehyung's quads underneath him as he tried to adjust, and Yoongi rested a hand on the grass to keep his balance as he moved to situate himself better.

“Put your hands on his waist,” Seokjin instructed, and it took Yoongi a second to realize that he was talking to Taehyung.

Warm hands tentatively came to rest on his hips, half on the bottom of his denim jacket and half on his pants.

“This is beautiful,” Namjoon proclaimed. “I wish I had Seokjin’s polaroid camera.”

At the mention, Seokjin groaned.

“Aw man! Why didn't I bring it? Dammit.”

“Are we going to discuss the seating arrangements for the entire ten minutes or can we move on?” Yoongi griped, able to feel every twitch of Taehyung's fingers, even through his jacket.

“Touchy, touchy,” Seokjin tsked, but fortunately changed the subject. “So, when I returned that video, I might have rented a horror movie about an evil leprechaun…”

“That looks like it's gonna be terrible,” Yoongi laughed around a grimace, trying to ignore the fact that, when Taehyung leaned over to try to engage with the rest of the group and see around the person in his lap, Yoongi could feel Taehyung’s breath on his neck.

“I’m so pumped!” was Seokjin’s response. “Want to watch it tonight?”

“I don't really like horror movies,” Jimin admitted, lips twisted.

“Me either!” Hoseok exclaimed. “Finally! Someone who’s on my side. Finally! I knew I liked you.”

Throwing an arm around Jimin’s shoulders, Hoseok turned back to the rest of them.

“A sane person who shares my sentiments,” he proclaimed. “See this? This is a person with good taste in movies.”

Namjoon raised his eyebrows at Hoseok’s over-the-top reaction to Jimin’s very simple statement. Not that over-the-top anything was unexpected when it came to Hoseok.

“Geez, get married then,” Yoongi said with a roll of his eyes.

Taehyung's hands hand shifted so they were underneath the bottom edge of Yoongi's jacket, palms suffusing warmth through the thin cotton of Yoongi's t-shirt.

It was actually kind of nice since the chill of autumn was in the air and Yoongi wasn’t wearing a warm enough coat for the drop in temperature that had happened after the sun had hit its peak and started to sink in the sky. But it shouldn't have been nice, and it wasn’t nice in the way anyone would think if they knew he thought it was nice. It was weird that it was nice, and Yoongi was annoyed that he hadn’t just worn a thicker jacket.

“Says the guy sitting on someone’s lap,” Hoseok fired back with a pleased grin, not bothered enough by Yoongi's remark to remove his arm from Jimin’s shoulders.

“It’s a dare,” Yoongi snapped, regretting it when he felt Taehyung stiffen underneath him as Hoseok’s eyebrows rose.

Don't show them your weakness. Never let them see you sweat.

“Let’s vote on the movie,” Seokjin suggested after a couple of very uncomfortable, quiet seconds had passed after Yoongi's outburst.

“You know you're gonna win though!” Hoseok complained, curious eyes no longer on Yoongi.

Seokjin shrugged, a deceptively innocent smile tugging at his lips. “We’ll just have to vote and see.”

“Who votes in favor of watching Leprechaun?” Namjoon asked, already raising his own hand.

Seokjin’s hand shot up, and Yoongi could feel Taehyung shifting to raise his. Yoongi didn't really feel like watching a movie right then, but he’d rather watch some dumb horror flick than whatever the alternative was so he raised his hand.

“Who has good taste and is sane and doesn't like watching people get killed?” Hoseok defiantly prompted, raising his hand along with Jimin, even though the vote was already on Seokjin’s side.

“Guess we’re watching it,” Seokjin observed, as though that hadn’t been obvious from the beginning.

“Maybe Jimin and I will go do something else instead,” Hoseok threatened, and Yoongi had to bite his tongue against the remark he was tempted to make at that because he knew it would just flipped back around and he’d have four pairs of eyes staring at him with amusement as he was forced to sit on Taehyung's lap.

“Aw come on,” Seokjin argued, not actually wanting to drive anyone away with his movie choices. “I’m sure it's not scary. It's about a leprechaun. How scary can it possibly be?”

“But it's a horror movie,” Hoseok countered.

“About a leprechaun,” Seokjin finished. “Come on.”

Hoseok deflated and looked to Jimin who also looked like he might have been swayed.

“I mean,” Jimin started, “it is about a leprechaun.”

“You are basically a leprechaun,” Taehyung interjected, nearly startling Yoongi since he hadn’t spoken since Yoongi had sat on him. “You should show your support.”

Despite his foul mood, that startled a laugh out of Yoongi- Taehyung's fingers tightening just slightly on his hips with the movement.

“Fuck you,” Jimin said, but he was laughing- not looking mad at all.

Fine,” Hoseok acquiesced begrudgingly. “I’ll watch.”

“Awesome,” Seokjin proclaimed. “And good news all around. Yoongi, you can sit on the ground again like a regular person.”

Yoongi didn’t hesitate to slide off of Taehyung’s legs so he was sitting on the grass, Taehyung’s warm hands sliding off his hips and leaving the places they’d covered feeling cold.

“So, my place after dinner, then?” Seokjin was saying, drying leaves rattling above their heads with the breeze. “Don’t want to risk another late fee if someone holds the tape hostage…”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Namjoon gusted out on a sigh.

The sun was dipping lower in the sky, the golden light slanted across the library so the bricks stood out in stark relief.

Autumn was Yoongi's favorite season- the summer’s heat finally easing up and making way for cool air that felt fresher than summer humidity when breathed in. Sweaters and jackets, new notebooks, and old growth being shed by the trees in time for winter.

Despite spring being often referred to as the time of new beginnings, Yoongi had always associated that feeling with the fall. You can't start fresh without a clean slate. So while many saw the end of summer as a time of death, Yoongi always felt like it was the true beginning- making way for the new growth that would come with spring.

Crisp fall wind and evening temperatures getting low enough to bring a pink flush to noses and cheeks exposed to the elements were things that Yoongi looked forward to.

But sitting on the hard ground with the breeze blowing and seeping cold air beneath his jacket, Yoongi wasn’t enjoying the weather or the change of seasons. Yoongi was cold and he wanted to go inside.

Even worse, he’d been fine a minute ago. He’d been fine with Taehyung’s legs and hands lending their heat, his frame blocking the wind, his proximity suffusing Yoongi with warmth.

Now he was just cold, trying not to shiver as Hoseok listed all the movies he’d rather watch that Seokjin hadn’t rented.

Taehyung's shadow stretched longer and longer as the sun made its descent, the dark edges rippling across Yoongi's lap so he could make out the shape of Taehyung's profile on his thigh.

The breeze blew the hair at his nape and Yoongi shivered.

He needed a warmer coat.

 

---

 

That night, the shadow came to Yoongi in his dreams.

Sure, he’d been able to feel it hovering as it always was during his waking hours, but the real battle started when he slipped into sleep.

He was trapped in a house with a group of strangers and there was a dark presence among them. Suspicions were being thrown around- maybe it was one of them. But Yoongi knew what it was. It was the shadow that had been with him for as long as he could remember. It was here and it was breathing its toxicity onto all of them.

But even as they crept down to the basement in hopes of hiding from the shadow, only to immediately sense that it was down there with them, Yoongi knew that he couldn't tell them what it was that they were all running from or that it was him who had brought it. If they knew….surely they would abandon him to fight it off on his own. And with the buffer they provided, he knew it would be a losing battle.

With the feeling of inky blackness right behind him, smokey edges flirting with the nape of his neck, Yoongi woke up with a gasp. His sheets were soaked with his sweat and his underwear was sticking to him like an uncomfortable skin.

Shivering in the chill of the room after he threw the sodden sheets away, Yoongi tried to calm his racing heart. It had been a dream. The shadow wasn’t tickling down his spine.

Though that was hardly a comfort considering how often his dream was a reality. Maybe not the house of people who could sense the dread, but at that very moment, he could sense the shadow in the hallway, practically pacing outside his door and waiting for him to leave the safety of his room.

And even though it wasn’t nearly on top of him like it had been in the dream, Yoongi could feel the ghost of its presence on his skin.

The shadow had really been gaining traction in the past few weeks. Even asleep, he wasn't safe.

Could it truly get ahold of him in a dream? Yoongi didn’t know, but his heart was still racing from the close call he’d just woken up from.

There was no denying that he was skilled at skirting its advances and turning his back when it crooned from the depths of the darkness, trying to tempt him to just give up.

But the ferocity with which it was tailing him lately had Yoongi nervous. There was a part of him that felt like he was only delaying the inevitable, but the more stubborn part of him refused to back down.

He’d fight it with everything he had. He wouldn't, couldn't, think about surrender.

Teeth gritted and muscles tense, Yoongi closed his eyes. Even asleep he had to be ready.

It was only when the pale streaks of dawn were sneaking in underneath his blinds that he managed to relax, drifting off for a fitful hour before his alarm sounded.

 

---

 

“Well, damn,” Jimin said when Seokjin stepped into Namjoon’s room with a tall, dark haired boy behind him.

“Don’t,” was Seokjin’s immediate response, pointing a stern finger at Jimin where he was cross legged on the floor next to Taehyung, “hit on my cousin.”

Hands up in surrender, Jimin chuckled. “I wasn’t,” he insisted, lips quirked. “I was just saying what everyone else was thinking.”

He looked around the room, then, searching for agreement.

Yoongi raised his eyebrows.

“Okay, maybe not everyone,” he amended. “But, I mean…”

He gestured at Seokjin’s cousin, and Seokjin scowled.

“This is Jeongguk,” he told them. “He’s a senior in high school and he’s staying with me for the weekend.”

“Jeongguk,” Jimin said with a tilt of his lips.

“Jimin!” Seokjin scolded, exasperated.

“It’s fine,” Jeongguk interjected, appearing younger now that he was speaking. “Makes me feel pretty good about myself, honestly,” he added with a chuckle.

“See?” Jimin exclaimed, grinning at a still stern looking Seokjin. “Everyone wins.”

“Better than those girls in the cafeteria, anyway,” Jeongguk went on, nose wrinkling.

Jimin’s brows jumped, lips parting to say something before Seokjin interrupted him.

“He’s not gay,” he informed Jimin before he could get any ideas. “He’s just afraid of girls.”

“They’re scary!” Jeongguk insisted loudly.

Seokjin ruffled his hair fondly and gestured for him to sit on the bed, quickly introducing everyone and pointedly rolling his eyes when he got to Jimin.

“So, do you guys, like, all have girlfriends?” Jeongguk asked after Yoongi had inclined his head in greeting and no one had immediately started speaking.

“Not me,” Jimin was quick to answer, nearly sparkling at Jeongguk as he smiled.

“Okay, well, I figured that,” Jeongguk said with a laugh. “I’m not dumb. But the rest of you, I mean.”

“Taetae’s in the same boat as me,” Jimin told him, arm thrown around Taehyung’s shoulders in solidarity as Taehyung flushed.

“Are you…?” he asked, motioning between the two of them.

Taehyung rapidly shook his head, eyes darting over to Yoongi briefly like he couldn’t even help it- like Yoongi might somehow be confused about his relationship with Jimin. Like that would matter either way.

“Taehyungie deserves better than a boyfriend who’s gonna hit on some guy right in front of him,” Namjoon pointed out with a chuckle, reaching out to pat Taehyung’s shoulder and only causing him to blush even deeper.

“Namjoon has a girlfriend,” Taehyung helpfully put in since no one had actually answered, relaxing back when the focus was no longer on his sexuality or relationship status.

“She lives three hours away,” Seokjin added, “so, who knows if she's even real?”

“Seokjin,” Namjoon said wearily, “you have literally met her.”

“Or have I?” Seokjin countered, widening his eyes and striking an inquisitive pose.

Namjoon shot him a look.

“Okay, I have,” Seokjin acquiesced. “But wouldn’t it be more interesting if she was fake?”

“For whom?” Namjoon wanted to know.

“Me,” Seokjin replied easily. “Anyway, I don't have a girlfriend at the moment, but I certainly have prospects.”

Prospects?” Yoongi guffawed. “Have you left your calling card with the butlers of the girls you’re courting?”

Taehyung smacked the floor as he laughed, tension gone from his frame, as Hoseok snickered.

“Make fun all you want,” Seokjin proclaimed. “You remember how hot that one girl was who I hooked up with last semes-”

Yes, we remember,” Hoseok interrupted. “Mostly because you bring it up every three to four days.”

Jeongguk snorted, burying his laughter in a fist when Seokjin pretended to glare at him.

“Well, Hoseok is the one pining after some girl he’s too afraid to talk to,” Seokjin informed his cousin, eagerly throwing Hoseok under the bus.

“Am not!” Hoseok predictably argued. “I talk to her all the time! Jimin?”

All eyes turned to Jimin for confirmation.

“Well, all the time might be stretching the truth a little bit, but he does talk to her,” Jimin told them.

“At least once a class!” Hoseok insisted.

“Do you keep a tally?” Yoongi couldn't help but tease. “You get to mark off a day on your calendar whenever you exchange more than three words with her?”

“Well how about you?” Hoseok pressed. “I don’t see any ladies in your life.”

Yoongi felt himself frown, fingers clenching tight on his thigh.

“I’m busy,” he said with a shrug, jaw tight. “When I’m not with you assholes, I'm working on compositions and shit.”

“Your priorities are skewed!” Seokjin jumped in, pointing a finger at him.

“So I should hang out with you less?” Yoongi guessed, lips quirking and muscles loosening.

“Not me specifically,” Seokjin explained. “You should definitely still hang out with me. I'm your most important and attractive friend. But the rest of these guys…” Seokjin made a slicing motion at his own neck. “Dead weight if you ask me.”

“In other words,” Jimin said, turning to Jeongguk, “you are not in the right place if you were looking for girl advice.”

Naturally, Seokjin immediately protested, joined by Hoseok, as Jimin giggled at the outburst his statement had caused.

“Oh! Oh! Oh!” Seokjin suddenly exclaimed, cutting off Hoseok mid sentence about the girl he’d dated junior year in high school. “I have an idea!”

Habitually, Yoongi felt his stomach twist with dread.

“Jeongguk!” Seokjin said, and Yoongi let out a breath he hadn’t meant to hold. “We dare each other to do stuff all the time. So how about, for the full college experience, we give you a dare this weekend?”

Jeongguk looked mildly terrified, and rightly so.

“Um,” he said before Seokjin went on.

“How about we find you a girl and you have to ask her out?” he suggested, eyebrows raised in anticipation as he looked at Jeongguk.

“But what if she says yes?” Namjoon cut in. “And then Jeongguk is gonna have to be like sorry, just kidding. That's rude.”

Seokjin sighed. “Okay fine, then he just has to strike up a random conversation with one.”

“Is that enough of a dare?” Hoseok wondered.

Glancing over at Jeongguk whose face had paled, eyes wide with fear, Seokjin nodded. “Yeah, seems like it.”

When Jeongguk looked over at him, Yoongi offered an encouraging quirk if his lips.

Never let them see you sweat, he tried to telepathically communicate.

But at least it seemed like he and Taehyung weren’t going to be the focus that weekend.

That was something Yoongi never took for granted.

 

---

 

“How about her?” Hoseok suggested, motioning to a girl who had just stepped out of the dining hall.

They were camped out on a bench in the middle of the quad, and had been for the past thirty minutes, looking for a girl for Jeongguk to chat with.

Jimin and Taehyung weren’t there, a rumpled Taehyung greeting them when they’d stopped by their room on their way to breakfast. He’d grumbled out something about being up too late and going back to sleep.

They’d clearly played it the smartest because it had been a half hour and nothing had happened yet. It was cold and Yoongi found himself wishing he was curled up in his own bed instead.

“No, look how friendly she looks,” Seokjin protested, all of them watching the girl smile and wave as she passed another girl.

“Why can’t the girl I talk to be friendly?” Jeongguk squawked, legs jiggling nervously.

“Are you trying to give the kid a panic attack?” Namjoon asked, leaning forward over the back of the bench to look at Seokjin.

“I’m just trying to find an appropriately intimidating girl,” Seokjin defended, scanning the quad diligently.

“They’re all intimidating, though,” Jeongguk mumbled, having given up trying to suggest dares he could do instead after all of his ideas, including going through a drive-thru in a cardboard car, were immediately vetoed by Seokjin.

“Wake me up when you're done,” Yoongi groused, sitting back on the bench and stretching his legs out in front of him.

“Don’t be a spoilsport,” Seokjin complained, hitting Yoongi in the arm even as his eyes followed a group of girls cutting across the grass. “And we’re looking at girls. It's fun.”

“We’ve been out here for thirty minutes,” Yoongi pointed out. “And looking for the most intimidating girl, which is completely subjective by the way, is taking longer than the actual dare is going to. Just pick someone. And wake me up when you do.”

“But it's at least a little fun, right?” Hoseok pressed, forcing himself into the teeny space between Yoongi and the wrought iron arm of the bench.

Yoongi grumbled as he was forcibly smashed into Seokjin’s side.

He cracked an eye open to look at Hoseok. “No.”

“That girl’s skirt is really short,” Hoseok went on, nudging at Yoongi and trying to get him to look even though his eyes remained closed, feigning sleep.

“Did you pick someone?” Yoongi asked, arms crossed over his chest tightly so Hoseok couldn’t yank on one.

“No…”

“Then stop bothering me.”

“There! She's good,” Seokjin said five minutes later, and Yoongi blinked open his eyes to see Seokjin gesturing at a tall girl with long, dark hair and big eyes.

Yoongi recognized her as one of Mimi’s friends, Jiho or something, and truthfully, she was one of the least intimidating people Yoongi had ever met, but he chose not to share that information. At least someone had been chosen, so hopefully that meant they could go inside soon and do something more interesting.

“Go! Before she leaves!” Seokjin urged, shoving at Jeongguk to get him off the bench.

After a moment of hesitation, Jeongguk shoved his hands in his coat pockets and started across the lawn- face of someone headed for punishment.

Jiho was too far away for them to hear what Jeongguk said to her, but his body language spoke of someone very uncomfortable- hands fluttering momentarily as he talked before being hastily put back in his pockets.

When Jiho replied, a friendly smile on her face, Jeongguk stepped back like a cornered animal, and Seokjin hooted, Hoseok snickering into Yoongi's shoulder.

Jiho gesturing to the big clock hanging on the outside of one of the building with a giggle made it pretty clear that what Jeongguk had asked for was the time.

“Weak,” Seokjin groaned, and they all watched as Jeongguk turned the color of a ripe cherry before saying something else and scurrying back toward them.

“The time?” Seokjin complained when Jeongguk sunk back on the bench and covered his red face with his hands.

“Shut up,” was the muffled reply.

Jiho was looking at them, waving when she met Yoongi’s eyes. He gave a smile and nod in acknowledgment.

“Wait you know her?” Seokjin squawked, turning to him and leaving Jeongguk to wallow in embarrassment alone.

“Not well,” Yoongi told him, not wanting his familiarity to somehow make the dare null and void. He didn’t want to have to wait while Seokjin chose another candidate, and besides, Jeongguk might explode from embarrassment if he had to talk to another girl. “She’s friends with Mimi. I met her once.”

“Why don't you introduce any of your single friends to all these girls you apparently know?” Seokjin wanted to know, shooting Yoongi what he thought was a winning smile.

Yoongi quirked a brow, standing up from the bench in the hopes that they could move on from this activity and location now.

“I thought you had prospects,” he teased, stretching and wincing when his knees, stiff from the cold and from sitting so long, cracked.

Seokjin scowled, socking Hoseok on the arm of his parka when he cackled, making a thwop sound like he’d hit a pillow.

Hoseok complained anyway.

“No harm in having more!” Seokjin chirped, throwing an arm around Yoongi's shoulders and turning his back to the rest of the guys who were still laughing at him. “Will you think about it?”

“No,” Yoongi said honestly. “I don’t plan on having another thought about this ever.”

“Wow, rude,” Seokjin huffed, taking his arm back and falling into step with Namjoon. “Do you secretly know a bunch of girls?”

“As if I’d tell you,” he joked, dimples winking as he grinned.

“You’re all terrible friends,” Seokjin announced to the snickering bunch. “Jeongguk, from now on you’re my only friend.”

“Oh good,” Jeongguk replied, sounding so unenthused that it had all of them cracking up as they stepped through the entrance of the dorms where Seokjin lived.

They were supposed to meet up with Jimin and Taehyung for lunch. And since the whole dare process had taken so long, that was soon.

It had only been a little over a month since their group had grown from four to six, but already it seemed weird for it to just be the four of them. Well, the four of them plus Jeongguk, in this case.

Yoongi couldn’t help that he was anticipating the knock at the door that would be Taehyung and Jimin, finally awake and ready to join society.

But for the time being, he was pretty content to watch Jeongguk join in to tease Seokjin. He fit right in.

 

---

 

“What do you mean you can't go?” Yoongi demanded, fixing Namjoon with a disbelieving stare.

They were in Namjoon’s room along with Hoseok, waiting for the others to arrive, when Namjoon broke the news that he wouldn't be attending the show with Yoongi that they’d been planning to go to for a month and a half.

One of their favorite local acts, a rap duo whose beats were on par with any of the big names in the industry, was playing a free show on the second Friday of October, and they’d been excitedly talking about since it had been announced. But now Namjoon was bailing on him, and while Yoongi wouldn’t mind going alone, it was always more fun to go with someone else who could appreciate the music and share his excitement.

“I’m sorry,” Namjoon said for a second time. “I’m as bummed as you. More, probably. But my theory teacher assigned this huge paper, and there's no way I'll finish if I don't work all weekend.”

“Can’t you just take a couple hour break to go to the show?” Yoongi tried. “And you can work the rest of the weekend.”

It seemed reasonable, but Namjoon was already shaking his head. “When I say all weekend, I mean all weekend. My breaks are going to be for sleep and food so I don't die.”

Yoongi frowned. The show would still be good, but…

“Hoseok,” he said, turning to him where he was flipping through a magazine that he’d found on Namjoon's desk. “Want to go?”

“Can’t,” he replied. “The dance showcase is coming up, so we have rehearsals Friday.”

“Damnit,” Yoongi swore. That meant that a refusal was just as sure from Jimin.

“Look who I found,” Seokjin announced, barging in with Jimin and Taehyung on his heels.

“What an amazing feat,” Yoongi cracked blandly, unable to help the way he could feel himself sulking from the bad news Namjoon had given him.

“Some rare specimens you got there,” Hoseok added, squinting at the newcomers.

Seokjin hastily shoved onto the bed with Hoseok, ensuring that Taehyung had to sit on the floor with Yoongi, as usual.

Poor Jimin typically ended up there as well simply because he and Taehyung often arrived at the same time.

“Doesn’t anyone want to go to the show with me Friday?” Yoongi whined, giving up on not outright pouting at that point.

“Hoseok and I have practice,” Jimin told him apologetically, unaware that Yoongi already knew that.

Yoongi looked over at Seokjin beseechingly. He wasn’t as into rap, but he was usually up for whatever.

“I’m going home this weekend, I told you that,” Seokjin reminded him, tone playfully taunting that Yoongi had forgotten.

“Fuck, right,” Yoongi grumbled. Things weren't looking too hopeful for him. Though only almost everyone had told him no.

Carefully turning his head, Yoongi found that Taehyung was already looking at him- mouth partway open like he wanted to say something.

Yoongi raised his eyebrows as a kind of invitation for Taehyung to say whatever it was that he wasn’t.

“I can...go?” he said, unsure. Taehyung nervously licked his lips, waiting for Yoongi to tell him if he would be permitted to accompany him. Which was silly. Of course Yoongi wasn’t going to say no. Even if them going together was going to cause endless teasing.

“Okay, cool,” Yoongi agreed. “It’s at eight on Friday.”

Taehyung’s lips stretched into a brilliant grin, like Yoongi had just given him the greatest present he’d ever received.

Clearing his throat awkwardly after returning the smile with the wattage turned way down, Yoongi looked away. Taehyung’s earnest gaze wasn’t something he could get used to.

Predictably, Seokjin and Hoseok were jostling each other and waggling their eyebrows in Yoongi’s direction.

“What a nice first date,” Seokjin teased, not meaning any harm, but still making Yoongi’s jaw clench.

“So sweet,” Hoseok agreed, hand over his heart as he regarded the two of them in turn.

“Well, at least I have a date,” Yoongi tossed back, stomach lurching even though it was a joke, “which is more than I can say for either of you.”

Jimin ooh-ed appreciatively, and Yoongi smirked at Seokjin’s and Hoseok’s pouts.

“Fucking school,” Namjoon groused, obviously more hung up on the fact that he couldn’t go than by who his replacement was. “You have to remember everything so you can tell me about it. I need to know the whole setlist from start to finish.”

“I’ll try, but it’s fucking hard to keep track of every song at a show,” Yoongi said, plaintive at the fact he was being given an assignment.

“I’m good at memorizing things,” Taehyung jumped in, smiling proudly when attention turned to him. “I can try, too.”

“Perfect,” Namjoon proclaimed, appeased at least for the moment. “And enjoy it in my stead. I really wish I could go.”

“I will,” Taehyung told him sagely, glancing at Yoongi briefly like he often did- like he was helpless to stop but didn’t want to get caught. “I definitely will.”

 

---

 

Stepping out of the taxi, Yoongi shivered from the chill in the air. Autumn in full swing was bringing temperatures that dipped nearly to freezing after sundown, and Yoongi was glad he’d worn a scarf since they’d be outside most of the evening.

Now though, the sun had only just disappeared from view, so it wasn’t too frigid yet. The show was set to start in an hour and a half, but since it was near the outskirts of the town closest to campus, Yoongi and Taehyung has decided on getting dinner in town beforehand.

When Yoongi had suggested it, Taehyung’s eyes had widened like he couldn’t believe Yoongi wanted to spend the extra time with him. But he and Namjoon had already made plans to eat in town, and Yoongi had no reason to want to change that just because Namjoon could no longer come. The food in the cafeteria wasn’t bad, but it was definitely nice to eat out sometimes.

“I’ve never been here,” Taehyung said as they stepped into the little pizza joint, glass and metal door swinging closed behind them and keeping the warmth of the restaurant trapped inside.

“It’s pretty good,” Yoongi said with a shrug, unzipping his jacket and unfurling his scarf as he made his way up to the counter with Taehyung in tow.

Fancy, it was not. But the pizza was good and very cheap, so this was often the restaurant of choice when Yoongi and the others were in town.

“How many slices are you ordering?” Taehyung wanted to know, eyes on the hanging menu behind the counter and coat brushing against Yoongi’s as they waited in line.

“Only one,” he replied, fishing his wallet out of his pocket and not bothering with the menu since he knew what he wanted. “They’re giant.”

Taehyung was making indecisive noises when Yoongi stepped up to the counter.

“One slice of the meat lover’s and a coke, and…” he turned to Taehyung who nearly startled when he realized Yoongi was waiting for him to give his order.

“Oh, we’re ordering together?” he asked, eyes moving to Yoongi’s wallet and then back to his face.

“Yeah, whatever,” Yoongi said, fishing a few bills out. It was going to be cheap, anyway. “I got this.”

“Thanks,” Taehyung told him, equal parts awed and sheepish as he flushed.

It wasn’t like this was a date. Despite the jokes that had been flowing since Taehyung had offered to go in Namjoon’s place. Taehyung didn’t need to be making it a big deal that Yoongi was paying because it wasn’t. Yoongi probably would have offered to pay if Namjoon had come as planned. Or if it had been Seokjin who was free. Probably.

“Are you gonna order?” Yoongi asked when Taehyung was still staring at him and the cashier was also still staring at him a few seconds later.

“Right!” Taehyung nearly yelped, too loud and too enthusiastic. “Um! I’ll have...um. A slice of…”

Taehyung’s knee was flexing as he stared so hard at the menu, it might combust. His brain was whirring and running through every possible thing he could say and what the outcome would be. Yoongi recognized the tells. It was the same way he got when they were all hanging out and he saw an opportunity for a joke. A split second of intense, internal debate, and then Taehyung was blurting out the most bizarre thing anyone could have possibly said in any given situation.

“...pepperoni pizza,” he finally said, forceful even as his face shuttered right after like he was worried he had made the wrong choice, “and a cup for water.”

Yoongi wanted to tell him that he could get a drink- that another buck fifty wasn’t gonna push him into ruin- but ultimately, he decided to just leave it. This moment had already stretched too long for his liking.

“Alright,” the cashier said, pressing a couple of buttons and probably just as relieved as Yoongi that the ordering process was coming to an end. “That’ll be five-thirteen.”

Passing over a five and a very crumpled one, Yoongi awaited his change and dreaded the second round of thank you’s that were sure to follow as soon as the cashier stepped away to get their food.

“Thanks again,” Taehyung predictably told him, lower lip clamped between his teeth and his eyes wide with his head tilted down so he was looking at Yoongi through his lashes- something Yoongi hadn’t know was possible given that Taehyung was significantly taller than him. “You didn’t have to pay for me.”

Yoongi waved away the thanks, stuffing his wallet back into his pocket and looking around at the tables to try and preemptively choose the best place to sit, rather than meeting Taehyung’s eyes. “A pizza slice is, like, two bucks. It’s no big deal.”

“Still,” Taehyung said, but Yoongi didn’t reply, hoping to let it drop. He really had no reason to be annoyed that Taehyung was thanking him. Any polite person would. Not thanking him would have been cause for complaint.

But it was just a stupid thing that didn’t mean anything. They didn’t need to make it a big deal.

“Here you go,” the cashier said, stepping back up to the counter and holding out two grease soaked paper plates with pizza slices so big, they each hung off in three places, “meat lovers and pepperoni.”

Yoongi took his food and snagged a couple of napkins, picking up his empty drink cup and shuffling in the direction of the table that seemed the least likely to get a cold blast from the door when anyone walked in.

In any other circumstance, Yoongi probably would have offered to get his friend’s drink when he filled up his coke at fountain machine, but he feared another awed thank you when he wasn’t even doing anything special. It wasn’t a big deal.

Taehyung ended up picking up Yoongi’s cup on his way to fill up his water. “Coke, right?”

Yoongi nodded dumbly, muttering a quick thanks when Taehyung returned- no meaningful eye contact necessary.

“This is really good!” Taehyung exclaimed after his first bite- right after his first bite so he kind of had to talk around a mouthful of cheese and bread.

Nodding as he chewed, Yoongi was glad Taehyung liked it. Not that he’d worried. Or that Taehyung would have any reason not to. It was pizza, for fuck’s sake. But being the one in charge of all the plans- plans that had been made before Taehyung was even part of them- had Yoongi hoping that everything went smoothly and that Taehyung had a good time.

They spent the first few minutes mostly in silence, eating their slices like they were half starved to death. But as Yoongi’s slice got smaller and he started actually pausing to chew for the proper amount of time, the silence starting feeling a little stifling.

“So, uh,” he started, wiping at his lips with one of the crumpled napkins he’d dropped next to his plate, “you’re a physics major?”

For all the time they all spent together, Yoongi hadn’t heard Taehyung talk about his classes or what he was studying much. Yoongi had a moment of panic that he’d somehow gotten Taehyung’s major wrong before Taehyung nodded, swallowing and taking a drink.

“Yep,” he confirmed, chuckling nervously with Yoongi’s full attention on him. “It’s, well, you know. Physics.”

Yoongi wasn’t sure what that was supposed to mean- wasn’t Taehyung knew either.

“Honestly, physics was my worst subject in high school, so maybe I don’t know,” he joked, unsure of what else to say. Besides, best get it out early that he knew next to nothing about the subject. He’d been the one to bring it up, but he didn’t want Taehyung going on about some complicated physics laws that Yoongi didn’t understand.

“Really?” Taehyung asked, brows jumping and looking genuinely surprised. “But you’re really smart. I’d have thought you’d be good at that kind of stuff.”

Shrugging, Yoongi took a sip of his coke and scrunched his long discarded straw wrapper between the fingers of his other hand. “Just didn’t click,” he said by way of explanation. “I did well in my math classes, and I never had any trouble with bio or chem. I dunno. I had to fight for the B I got. Not my proudest moment.”

“I bet if you had a good teacher,” Taehyung offered, hands moving as he spoke. “Since you’re good at math. My high school teacher had a very formulaic approach, but one of my professors here uses the theories and science behind it as the foundation. I think how it’s taught makes a huge difference. That’s why I like it, I guess. Because it’s more than one dimensional. Not that other sciences are, but...just that it has all these rules and specific calculations, but also has so much room to grow as science becomes more advanced… It’s really interesting.”

Yoongi hadn’t ever thought about it that way- had been too busy just trying to stay afloat and cursing himself for signing up for the class in the first place. But that made sense. Not that Yoongi was tempted to test Taehyung’s theory by signing up for a physics class.

“So yeah,” Taehyung said with a twitchy shrug, looking sheepish- like he was worried that the bit he’d said might have bored Yoongi already.

“Do you know what you wanna do with it when you graduate?” Yoongi asked to show he wasn’t in danger of nodding off on his pile of greasy napkins. Though he was cursing himself almost immediately, hating that he’d just asked what his relatives asked him when he saw them on holidays- their brows tilted like surely there was no legitimate job for a music major.

“Not totally sure yet,” Taehyung admitted, chewing a bite of crust. “But it’ll probably be something I have to go to grad school for. Not many physics related jobs that don't require a master’s.”

Yoongi winced in sympathy. Grad school wasn’t something Yoongi had ruled out for himself, but it wasn’t something he absolutely had to do if he wanted to find a job. He was still undecided.

Taehyung waved his hand, scrunching his nose up. “That’s a ways away.”

“Shall we?” Yoongi asked, their slices demolished and drinks empty.

Nodding eagerly, Taehyung pushed back from the table- chair screeching against the sticky floor and making both of them cringe. Though Taehyung buried a snicker in his fist a second later, pulling a smile to Yoongi's face.

The field where the show was going to be was a ten minute walk outside of town, the air even colder than when they’d stepped into the pizza parlor since the sun had been down for a while.

Yoongi stuffed his hands in his jacket pockets, keeping pace with Taehyung who was nearly bouncing as they walked along the edge of the paved road, no sidewalks and a ditch running through the dried grass on either side.

Every once in awhile, a car would pass and the headlights would have Yoongi squinting and having to readjust to the darkness afterwards with only intermittent street lights to keep them from being completely in the dark.

“So,” Taehyung said after a minute of two of silence, the gravel beneath their feet nearly sufficing for conversation, “how’d you guys all meet? I know Hoseok said he and Namjoon were roommates freshman year, but…”

Yoongi nodded, shoulders hunching against a gust of wind.

“Yeah, they were roommates,” he confirmed. “They got lucky. Like you and Jimin. My roommate, however…” He grimaced.

“Bad?” Taehyung asked, mouth twisting exaggeratedly in anticipation of Yoongi’s explanation.

“He…” Yoongi pushed his hair back, hastily shoving his cold hand back into his coat pocket. “He would come home in the middle of the night wasted, and like, slam around and wake me up all the time. Felt like almost every night, though I guess it probably wasn’t every night. Sometimes he’d bring girls home, like, while I was there and have them stay over. And I wasn’t exactly in need of hearing... plus, it's weird having a stranger sleeping in your room.”

Taehyung’s face squinched in sympathy.

“Anyway,” Yoongi went on, squinting hard when he was nearly blinded by the shine of headlights in his eyes as a lone car drove past, “that’s how I ended up meeting Seokjin. He had a single on my floor, and he’d always see me in the lounge when I was avoiding my room. He’d sit down and distract me from my homework. But he also let me crash on his floor in a sleeping bag he had for some reason a bunch of times when my asshole roommate randomly brought someone home.”

“Wasn’t the floor uncomfortable?” Taehyung wanted to know, face managing yet another variation on the contorting with sympathy theme.

“Not as uncomfortable as staying in my room would have been,” Yoongi promised, seeing the way Taehyung’s eyes widened and his mouth snapped closed in his periphery.

No, he didn’t want to talk anymore about his ex roommate’s sex life either, thank you.

“So, anyway, I met Namjoon in one of my theory classes first semester,” Yoongi told him, steering the subject back in the proper direction. “We were the only two who were interested in applying music theory to rap. Go figure.”

“You introduced him to Seokjin?” Taehyung guessed, shuffle-stepping so he was a bit in front of Yoongi in order to turn back and look at him.

“Don’t trip,” Yoongi warned when Taehyung started walking backwards. “Gravel in your palms sucks.”

Smiling sheepishly, Taehyung fell back into pace with Yoongi like a normal person.

“And no,” Yoongi said, answering Taehyung’s question. “I didn’t. They actually already knew each other from some gen-ed class...maybe lit, I dunno. And they were friends. Add Hoseok and…” Yoongi shrugged. “Just kinda fell into place.”

“Meant to be,” Taehyung said with a grin, wind ruffling his bangs and the tip of his nose pink from the cold.

Yoongi opened his mouth to say no, it hadn’t been meant to be. It had just happened. But Taehyung looked so gleefully dazzled by the whole thing that Yoongi just shrugged again. “I guess.”

“Like Jimin and me,” Taehyung went on. “I keep hearing more and more bad roommate stories, and I can’t believe how lucky we both got.”

“Both?” Yoongi said, feeling his lips starting to curl up into a smirk. “How do you know Jimin isn’t rueing the day the two of you were paired up?”

“Hey!” Taehyung squawked, laughing as he shoved Yoongi on the shoulder and made him stumble. “Shit, sorry. I didn’t mean to almost push you over. You’re lighter than I thought.”

“Somehow I feel like I’m being insulted on top of just getting shoved,” Yoongi said with a roll of his eyes, but he couldn’t hide the amusement in his voice. It was nice to joke around with Taehyung like this- without Taehyung being so nervous to be around him, and without the others to poke and prod and tease. It was really, really nice.

Taehyung looked like he was going to apologize again, but then he seemed to notice the way Yoongi’s eyes were dancing, and he just laughed instead before he gaze moved past Yoongi and his mouth dropped open.

“Oh my god! That fire is gigantic!” he exclaimed, staring at the bonfire raging in the distance.

“Probably for the show,” Yoongi told him, pressing the back of his cold hand to his even colder nose before giving up and putting his hand back in his pocket. “Because it’s cold.”

He really should have brought gloves. But he didn’t think he was going to feel this cold. It wasn’t even supposed to get below freezing. He hadn’t, however, taken into account the wind which was making it feel colder than it was.

The bonfire was, indeed, for the show- fifty or so people milling around in the space between the fire and the little makeshift stage that had been set up.

Even twenty feet away from the flames, Yoongi could feel their heat against his face.

“This is really cool,” Taehyung said for probably the seventh time, the two of them facing the fire since nothing was yet happening on stage. “Do you and Namjoon go to shows like this all the time?”

“When we can,” Yoongi told him, glancing over and seeing the flames reflected in Taehyung's eyes even though he was looking at Yoongi. “There aren't many acts that come here. These guys went to school where we do, though, so they do shows around here between playing bigger venues.”

“That’s awesome,” Taehyung marvelled, holding his hands in the direction of the fire. “If you tell me the song titles as they play, I can memorize the setlist for Namjoon.”

That’s right. Namjoon wanted a full, detailed report. And Taehyung didn't know their discography.

Yoongi nodded, attention pulled from Taehyung's fingers- backlit by dancing flames- when there was a burst of feedback from the stage. Following the flow of the crowd, Yoongi and Taehyung moved toward the stage, watching as the techs filtered off the stage, and the anticipation in the air rose until it was nearly buzzing around them.

Two men in hooded sweatshirts came out and pulled an enthusiastic cheer from the audience, their greeting booming from the speakers stacked next to the stage.

Taehyung’s elbow made contact with Yoongi’s side, the grin on Taehyung's face of excitement as the first throbs of bass permeated the air had Yoongi returning it- matching wattage that time. Though Taehyung might have had him beat by default due to the nature of his big, square shaped smile.

The duo on stage started with an audience favorite, cheers erupting with the first few powerful syllables that were spit into the mics.

Reaching out, Yoongi put a hand on Taehyung's shoulder and pulled him down to get his ear at the same level as his mouth.

Silver Spoon,” he said loudly, Taehyung blinking at him in confusion. “The song,” Yoongi explained, raising his volume and stepping closer. “Silver Spoon.”

Understanding passed over Taehyung’s face and he smiled, giving Yoongi a thumbs up.

Okay, good. Attention turning back to the stage, Yoongi rocked gently to the beat- lyrics washing over him as his lips moved with the words that he knew by heart.

The music was an escape, letting the tension and worry that had built up drop away and get carried away on the powerful voices that seemed to be driving straight into Yoongi’s chest. It was impossible not to give himself over to the beat- happiness, excitement, satisfaction bubbling up as passion gripped him by the throat and had him imagining that each and every word uttered by the performers was moving through his body like it was part of his blood.

When the song changed, Yoongi stepped in close to Taehyung again- lips quirking at the enthusiastic head bobbing and the way Taehyung seemed almost surprised to see him when Yoongi pulled him down again to tell him the song title.

Every time a new song began, Yoongi yanked on Taehyung's arm and shouted the name over the music- Taehyung grinning and giving him a nod or a thumbs up. Yoongi didn’t know if Taehyung was really going to be able to remember a setlist of songs he’d never heard before, so he tried to make a mental note of each as well. Hopefully, together, they’d be able to make a semi accurate list for Namjoon.

“They’re so good!” Taehyung exclaimed during a brief interlude, beats of the last song dragging out and morphing before they’d transition into the next track.

“Huh?” Yoongi blinked, in the zone and not expecting the commentary. Of course, he registered what Taehyung had said a second after he’d said huh, but Taehyung was already leaning into him- hand on his shoulder and mouth right up next to his ear.

“They’re really good!” Taehyung said, voice deep and seeming to run through Yoongi’s frame only to exit at his feet like a bolt of electricity.

Taehyung’s lips were too close to his ear, hot breath making the hair on the back of Yoongi's neck stand up.

He wasn’t the type to hang all over his friends. Not like Jimin or Taehyung. Not like Seokjin. Or Hoseok. So the proximity was jarring- body buzzing in surprise. But maybe it was the music, the adrenaline running through his veins. Because he didn’t mind. Instead, he just grinned as the next song started.

Turning excitedly, Yoongi startled a bit to see Taehyung’s face so close to his own. And if the widened eyes were anything to go by, he wasn't the only one surprised to be face to face like this. But that wasn’t the important thing.

“This is my favorite song!” Yoongi yelled, leaning over to speak into Taehyung's ear. “Just One Day.”

Eyes still saucers, Taehyung nodded at him when he pulled back to make sure he’d heard him.

But then his gaze was pulled to the stage, rapping low under his breath as he watched the duo perform his favorite track- the lyrics winding through his chest and squeezing so it felt like his blood was pumping with the beat.

It was during the last song that that he felt it.

At first, Yoongi thought he’d imagined it. Or maybe someone had tossed a water bottle or something.

But there, again. A frigid raindrop on his cheek. And another. Followed by two more, and then a barrage of cold droplets as the last bridge hit its climax.

It was raining.

And they were in the middle of a field. There was no where to go. Besides, the last song wasn’t quite over- the stage shielded from the sudden shower with a makeshift awning.

Yoongi did his level best to ignore the very cold precipitation until the song ended, but once the duo was bidding them goodnight, Yoongi registered just how fucking freezing he was.

Of course he didn’t have a fucking hood on this coat. Of course. It was too damn cold to unzip his coat to hold over his head. And his scarf would get soaked through in a matter of seconds. He was just gonna get wet. That was all there was to it. Fucking hell.

Blinking rapidly against the water that wanted to collect on his lashes, Yoongi looked over at Taehyung as the crowd started to disperse- lucky people dashing for their cars that were parked along the shoulder of the road.

“Guess we hafta make a run for it,” Yoongi said, glad to see that Taehyung, at least, had a hood. Though Taehyung was still curling in on himself to try to stay warm and dry- an impossibility, it seemed.

“I’m ready if you are?” Taehyung replied, hands shoved in his pockets and hair nearly obscuring his eyes from how he was holding his head in an effort to keep his face from getting wet.

Already, Yoongi could feel the way his hair was dripping water onto his cheeks- the strands spiked and brushing his forehead.

“Go?” Yoongi suggested with no real enthusiasm. Running was not his favorite thing. Though neither was getting wet in a sudden downpour. Or standing in a field and freezing his ass off.

Taehyung nodded and they both took off- not too fast since they had to traverse the shoulder of a narrow road at night with a barrage of raindrops falling on them and wet gravel beneath their feet. It was safe to say it was more a light jog than a run, but at least they were headed in the direction of civilization- a roof, hopefully, and a pay phone.

Taehyung’s longer legs had his pace a little quicker than Yoongi's, but with Yoongi hastening a bit and Taehyung glancing over to make sure Yoongi was next to him, he never got too far ahead.

Still, when they burst into the little 24 hour diner, Yoongi was winded- hands on his knees right inside the door as he panted and watched his hair drip onto the floor in front of him.

The funny thing about physical activity in the cold was that Yoongi had no idea if he was hot or cold. There was sweat gathering beneath his coat from the exertion of running half a mile, but at the same time, his face was entirely numb- ears aching from the cold. He could feel frigid water trickling down the back of his neck and underneath his collar, making him shiver. The slickness underneath his bangs was probably a combination of sweat and rainwater, and Yoongi didn't know if he wanted to rip his coat off and air out or if he wanted to curl up and try to get warm.

“You okay?” Taehyung asked, bending over to look Yoongi in the face as he tried to catch his breath.

Taehyung sounded a bit breathless as well, but he was still upright and apparently not on the cusp of death.

“Yeah,” Yoongi huffed, straightening up and trying to push his wet hair off his forehead with numb fingers. “Just don't...run very often.”

“Me neither,” Taehyung commiserated, though that was no comfort since he was doing much better than Yoongi despite that.

“Wanna go sit?” Taehyung suggested, gesturing at the nearly empty row of booths to their left.

Yoongi nodded, following when Taehyung headed toward the furthest booth and slid onto the bench with a sigh.

“I’m gonna…” Yoongi said, shrugging out of his sopping coat and shivering when the air hit his damp skin. “Bathroom.”

Taehyung nodded, eyes wide and concerned even as Yoongi shuffled away.

Paper towels could only do so much, but Yoongi’s hair was at least no longer dripping when he finally sat down a few minutes later.

“I used the pay phone by the bathroom,” Yoongi told him, scooting across the padded bench and feeling his muscles nearly groan their approval. “Cab’ll be here in fifteen.”

“‘kay,” Taehyung replied, hair still wet where it fell over his brow despite his hood. It kept falling in his eyes, long fingers coming up to push it away only for it to heavily swing back where it was before. “I ordered two hot chocolates to go...I hope that's okay. I didn’t know what you wanted. I mean, I know you usually drink coffee, but it's late, so…”

Had Yoongi been there to order, he probably would have gotten coffee anyway- hyped up from the show and unlikely to fall asleep any time soon, regardless. But hot chocolate was fine. He wasn't gonna be a dick and not drink it. Besides, anything hot sounded wonderful even though his fingertips were finally starting to regain feeling.

“Hot chocolate sounds good,” Yoongi told him, feeling his lips turn up at the beaming smile that erupted on Taehyung's face. “While we wait, let’s see if, between the two of us, we can remember the setlist. Otherwise, Namjoon will whine and complain for ages and-”

“They did thirteen songs,” Taehyung interjected, looking thoughtful. “First, they did Silver Spoon. Then, Autumn Leaves. After that, Let Me Know, Rain, and Danger. Then…” he paused for a second, glancing out the window and into the night- streetlights illuminating the wet pavement and the streaks of rain that were still coming down hard.

The fluorescent lights hit the bridge of his nose, his cheekbones, the bow of his lips. If Yoongi had his dad’s old 35mm camera with him (that was currently shoved under his bed and regretfully neglected due to all the coursework he had), it would have been a striking picture- Taehyung in a 24 hour diner with wet hair, thoughtfully gazing out the window at a rainstorm.

He was so intent on trying to keep the visual in his mind, like he could somehow imprint this theoretical photograph into his memory if he stared hard enough, he nearly startled when Taehyung turned back to him with a triumphant grin and a snap of his fingers.

“Then they did Tomorrow, House Of Cards, Run, Fire, and Jump,” he listed off confidently. “Then your favorite, Just One Day, and then Stigma, and then they ended on Blood Sweat and Tears. Was that everything?”

Taehyung was looking at him like Yoongi was going to score him on how well he memorized the setlist when Yoongi could say for damn sure that he wouldn't have been able to come up with that, in order, on his own. Recited back like that, though, it sounded right. He’d already forgotten that they’d even played Autumn Leaves, but sure enough, they had. And Taehyung remembered.

“Wow,” Yoongi finally said with a disbelieving chuckle, honestly impressed. “You really are good at memorizing stuff. You shoulda been a history major.”

“I thought about it,” Taehyung admitted with a pleased smile, turning that grin on the waitress when she brought them their hot chocolates in paper cups with plastic lids. “But I don't know what I would have done with that after graduation. I mean, I thought about philosophy, too, but I really don't know what kind of job I could get with that.”

Yoongi had to give him that, snorting in agreement as he wrapped his cold fingers around the warm cup. Eagerly, Taehyung grabbed his own hot chocolate and took a swig, yelping around his mouthful and holding a hand over his lips as he winced and swallowed.

Hot!” he wailed when he managed to get the drink down instead of spewing it all over the table like Yoongi thought might happen for a second there.

“You don’t say,” Yoongi teased, lips curving in a smirk as he pulled the plastic lid off his cup to blow gently on the contents.

Taehyung had his tongue hanging out if his mouth as he fanned it with his hands, eyebrows furrowed and eyes shining with a pout that he couldn’t complete with a stuck out lip since his mouth was open. He looked absolutely ridiculous, and just the fact that this was a physics major with an interest in philosophy who memorized a setlist of songs he’d never heard before like it was nothing...it just made the whole scene even funnier, and Yoongi couldn’t help it as he hunched over the tabletop and snickered.

Ehy,” Taehyung complained, probably an attempt at hey with his tongue lolling like a dog. “Ih uhs.”

“It hurts?” Yoongi guessed, biting his lower lip against another laugh that wanted to spill out.

Taehyung nodded emphatically, looked positively affronted that Yoongi could laugh at him at a time like this.

It was past ten at night, Yoongi was soaked to the bone, sitting in an unfamiliar diner, and watching a fully grown, intelligent person fan their tongue that they’d burnt on hot chocolate.

Yoongi set his cup down as he cackled, head tossed back and hands on his belly- not even worried about the attention he was garnering from the few other patrons in the place.

To his credit, Taehyung was trying really hard to look wounded by Yoongi’s amusement, but it was obvious that he was having a lot of trouble not joining in. Finally, he had to stop fanning his tongue when a laugh bubbled out of him and his mouth was tugging into a grin despite his best efforts.

“It hurts,” Taehyung insisted after their laughing fit had died down somewhat- eyes bright and still smiling even though he was trying to complain.

“I don’t doubt it,” Yoongi assured him, warmth spreading down his fingers when he held his cup again- warmth spreading through his chest as Taehyung shot him puppy dog eyes that ended up creased with laughter as he reached across the table to smack Yoongi on the arm for continuing to chuckle at his plight.

Opening his mouth to poke more fun, Yoongi flinched at the sound of a horn- upsetting the quiet clink of silverware and soft chatter that was serving as background noise.

Through the window, Yoongi could see a cab parked at the curb outside- headlights cutting through the dark and illuminating the rain that was still falling steadily.

“Cab’s here,” Yoongi observed, ignoring the disappointment he felt at the realization as he hastily shrugged his uncomfortably wet jacket back on.

They made a mad dash from the entrance of the diner to the backseat of the cab, hot chocolates clutched in cold fingers and rain falling on their already drenched clothes.

The cab ride back to campus was only fifteen minutes, lights of the town moving past them in a blur as they recalled more details from the concert that they could appease Namjoon with when he inevitably asked for a play by play.

“Thanks for bringing me,” Taehyung said to Yoongi when they got out at their building, rain still coming down but the overhang over the front door only a few steps away.

Yoongi waved off the thanks like he’d waved off Taehyung’s offer to pay for the cab ride.

Having Namjoon cancel on him initially felt like the worst thing- like he wouldn’t possibly be able to enjoy the concert as much without him. And though having Namjoon as a companion for shows was always fun, Yoongi had had just as good of a time with Taehyung. It was different than being with Namjoon, of course, but it was no less enjoyable.

Grunting as he shouldered open the heavy door, Yoongi tried not to fixate on the fact that he was disappointed that the evening was over already. Who knew when they’d be able to hang out again like this, without everyone else staring and teasing and looking for any opportunity to embarrass them?

“I’m glad you could come,” Yoongi told Taehyung honestly, hitting the button for the elevator and listening to the creak of old gears as it groaned to life.

When Taehyung didn’t say anything, Yoongi spared him a quick glance.

He was looking at Yoongi in surprise, smile stretching across his face as readily as the blush did.

Yoongi looked back at the backlit up button, and waited for the elevator to arrive.

The ride to their respective floors was quiet, and Yoongi hated that it felt like the air was thick with something he didn’t want to think about.

“See you tomorrow?” Taehyung said when the doors opened on the fourth floor- the floor where his shared room with Jimin was.

Yoongi nodded. Of course he’d see him tomorrow. They always all got lunch together on Saturday.

Taehyung shot him a shy smile as the doors closed- so timid compared to the unapologetic grins from the diner.

Sometimes when Yoongi returned from seeing a really great show, he felt like his world had shifted- like he’d never be the same again after experiencing that particular music on that particular day.

As he shuffled down the hall on the sixth floor, Yoongi felt unbalanced- like something had irrevocably changed.

He told himself it was the music, but for the first time, he wasn’t so sure.

 

---

 

By Wednesday of the following week, Yoongi’s universe hadn’t shifted back. It hadn’t shifted back, and he felt like he’d barely slept at all. The number of dreams that had him waking up in a cold sweat, however, suggested otherwise. He had to have slept if he was having nightmares.

But any sleep he was getting didn’t feel restful, and the dark bags beneath his eyes were just the physical manifestation of the bone deep exhaustion he was experiencing. Because not only was he not sleeping well at night, he was spending every waking hour alert, wound tight, and ready to flee from the clutches of the shadow at any moment.

Friday night, Yoongi had felt a bit unbalanced when he fell into bed, but he’d been in too good of a mood to be thinking about and fearing the shadow.

Saturday, however, was another story. From the moment we awoke, he could feel how close the shadow was- like it had crept in during the night when he wasn’t paying attention. And since Saturday morning, it hadn’t let up. It was around every corner, blending in with the darkness, breathing down Yoongi’s neck.

No matter what he did, no matter where he went, he couldn’t escape. The shadow was omnipresent and feeding on his fear.

Even worse, it was feeding on his exhaustion, too- preying on his weakness.

Its whispers didn’t promise darkness and downfall and terrible things. No, not anymore.

Now, its breath on his ear sounded like a siren’s song- sweet and tempting and seductive.

Wouldn’t it be nice to stop running? Wouldn’t it be great to just give in? Don’t you want to give yourself over to me? You want to, I know you do, it said.

Yoongi didn’t know what he wanted anymore.

But he knew he was scared- terrified, if he was honest. He knew that he had been running for as long as he knew how, and that he didn’t know what it would be like if he stopped.

So, he didn’t. He wasn’t ready.

If he let the shadow in, there was no going back. And he was stubborn. Stubborn and scared. So he walked just a little bit quicker from class to class, despite his exhaustion. He avoided anywhere it could corner him alone- working late in the library, in a music practice room after hours, walking home alone at night without consciously trying to outpace it.

He hadn’t been able to rest since Friday, and it was taking a toll. He was twitchy and grumpy and exhausted and weak, and every once in awhile, he found himself almost wanting to just surrender and let whatever happened happen.

But he couldn’t, and he always shook the urge away forcefully when he found himself listing toward the deceptively sweet whispers like a cool hand on his fevered forehead.

The shadow knew what it was doing, and it knew that it was wearing him down. He had to rally his defenses. He had to. Otherwise...otherwise Yoongi didn’t know what would become of him.

Instead of a shift, his world would flip upside down and send him tumbling into the ether- unprepared and afraid and vulnerable.

Yoongi sucked in a breath, squaring his shoulders and feeling a surge of his resolve.

He wasn’t going to give in.

The shadow could keep trying, but he wasn’t going down without a fight.

 

---

 

“This is so fucking stupid,” Namjoon complained, dragging a hand over his face before shoving it back into the pocket of his parka. The second half of October had swooped in and brought with it a chill that couldn’t be denied. It felt like fall was being chased out by an impatient winter who would stop at nothing to snuff the life out of any plant that dared to try to thrive- late blooming flowers starting to decay and the last of the leaves giving up and tumbling onto the cold ground.

It seemed too early for it to feel like winter. Where had the fall gone? It hadn’t been so cold at this time last year, Yoongi was sure of it.

Yoongi pressed his nose into his thick scarf, gloved hands in his pockets, and toes curling in his boots from the cold. Despite the weather, they were all huddled outside the cafeteria before the dinner rush- sun already dipping low in the sky and making it feel much later than it was. The sun already felt like it was setting too early, and now he was rarely back in his room before it got dark.

Yoongi loved the fall, but he and winter didn’t particularly get along. Seokjin claimed it was because Yoongi was tiny and delicate and got cold too easily (one third of that was correct). Yoongi thought it had more to do with the early setting sun and short days that left him feeling like he’d been robbed of precious hours, even though he logically knew that wasn’t true. Either way, Yoongi was grumpy and cold and just wanted to go inside to eat.

But Seokjin had dared Namjoon to find a random girl on the quad and propose to her, so here they were- standing outside at twilight in the cold while Namjoon tried to put off the inevitable and Seokjin bounced eagerly on his heels.

“She looks like she would step on you,” Seokjin said, grabbing Namjoon excitedly by the bicep and pointing him in the direction of the girl he was referring to. “Pick her!”

“She’s walking away,” Namjoon complained, only halfheartedly trying to shake Seokjin off his elbow. “I’m not gonna run and chase her.”

“Isn’t his girlfriend gonna be mad?” Hoseok worried, brows pinched even though he’d been on board ten minutes ago when Seokjin had first voiced his idea.

Seokjin barked out a laugh at that. “No way,” he said, still latched onto Namjoon’s arm and probably colder than he was letting on. “I’ve met her, remember? She’d just be mad that she wasn’t here to see him make a fool of himself.”

Hoseok looked to Namjoon for confirmation.

“That’s,” he sighed, massaging the bridge of his nose, “probably true.”

“Oh! Her!” Seokjin exclaimed, yanking Namjoon in the opposite direction so he could see the girl Seokjin had focused on this time.

“Which one?” Namjoon asked, zeroing in on two girls walking toward them- one with a knit cap on top of her dark, chin length hair, and the other with fluffy earmuffs and brown bangs that brushed her lashes.

“I was thinking the girl on the right, but either,” Seokjin said with a shrug.

“Are they even old enough to be in college?” Namjoon groused, tipping his head back in annoyance. “Jesus, Seokjin. I don’t want to get arrested.”

They did look young, probably freshmen, but now Namjoon was clearly just trying to avoid doing the dare.

“Just hurry the fuck up so we can go in,” Yoongi grumbled, voice muffled by his scarf. “I’m fucking freezing.”

“One of them is in my history class,” Jimin piped up. “So, since she’s in college, I’d imagine you wouldn’t get arrested for proposing.”

Namjoon groaned as Seokjin shot Jimin a grateful smile.

“Yeah, I think I recognize one of ‘em from orientation,” Taehyung added, knit cap pulled over his ears and nose red from the chill in the air.

“See?” Seokjin trilled, unlatching himself from Namjoon to push him forward. “You won’t be arrested.”

Namjoon was grumbling under his breath, but he was at least stepping forward.

“Fuckin’ fina-” Yoongi began before Seokjin shushed him, wanting to hear Namjoon’s proposal.

At the very least, they’d see him get down on one knee. Seokjin had been very adamant about that.

“Excuse me,” he said, coming to a stop in front of the two girls and halting their movement toward the cafeteria. “I have an important question to ask you. One of you. Um.”

“Christ,” Yoongi muttered, and got an elbow in the ribs.

“I was wondering,” Namjoon went on, slowly dropping down onto one knee and pulling a ring pop, still in its packaging, out of his jacket pocket to hold in front of him, “if one of you would take my hand in marriage.”

The sound of scuffling had Yoongi turning to see what was happening. Taehyung was smacking against Jimin’s arm with one hand while he hid a snicker behind the other- eyes shining with amusement as he watched the girls exchange confused looks in the face of Namjoon’s proposal.

Yoongi’s lips were quirked when he looked back to the scene in front of him.

The girls were giggling awkwardly and Namjoon was still kneeling, and okay. It was pretty funny.

“Uh,” one of the girls started while the other eyed the ring pop with interest. “I’m not really interested in accepting a proposal from someone I don’t know, so…”

“Do I have to accept to have this?” the other asked, pointing at the ring pop and smiling down at Namjoon hopefully. Her friend nudged her in the side and shot her a look, but Namjoon was shaking his head and standing up.

“Nah, you can just have it,” he said, dropping it in her palms and responding to her chirped thanks with a nod before he wished the girls a good evening and walked back to where the rest of them were waiting.

“Nicely done,” Hoseok congratulated, and Namjoon gave a dimpled, closed mouth smile and a slight bow as they all headed inside. Finally.

“Very smooth!” Jimin complimented, falling into step with him when they’d stepped inside and out of the cold. “I’m impressed.”

“And that is not to be taken lightly from the king of flirting,” Hoseok added with a laugh.

Jimin hit him for the comment, but didn’t protest.

“I’m less impressed,” Taehyung said with a put upon sigh, getting five pairs of confused eyes on him. “I was hoping I could have the ring pop afterwards.”

Namjoon rolled his eyes good naturedly and patted Taehyung on the shoulder. “Next time I have a ring pop, I’ll give it to you.”

Taehyung lit up, and Yoongi couldn’t help but chuckle fondly at the scene. Ring pops were like ninety cents. As if Taehyung couldn’t just go buy one himself.

“Namjoon is getting really good at doing these dares though,” Seokjin observed, unzipping his coat and reaching into his pocket for his meal card. “Pretty soon, he’s gonna give Yoongi a run for his money.”

Namjoon beamed proudly, but Yoongi scoffed- unwinding his scarf so his look of derision was fully visible.

Please,” he said, waving a bare hand and stuffing his gloves in his pocket with the other. “In his dreams. He complained for, like, ten minutes before he even did it. My dick practically froze off in the meantime.”

“I’ll be sure to take longer next time,” Namjoon teased with a faux sweet smile. “Just for you.”

Yoongi returned the fake grin and flipped him off.

“Freeze your dick off...could that be a dare…?” Seokjin murmured, thinking out loud.

“No one is going to actually freeze their dick off for a dare,” Hoseok informed him, putting a hand on Seokjin’s shoulder as though to ground him. “Is the cold getting to your head?”

“Yeah, I need my dick,” Jimin agreed. “And that just sounds like such a waste.”

Taehyung cackled as Jimin smiled innocently at all of them.

“Not literally,” Seokjin was saying to Hoseok. “But maybe something with a freezer…?”

“Watch out,” Namjoon said, leaning in to stage whisper into Yoongi’s ear. “It’s your turn next.”

“What’s he gonna dare me to do?” Yoongi challenged with an eyeroll. “Stand with the freezer door open? Sit on an ice pack? He already streaked, so that would be too derivative.”

“Seokjin has already gotten to come up with too many dares,” Hoseok protested at the same time Seokjin said ice packs! “Uh uh. I have lots of ideas. Just you wait.”

Hoseok’s eyes were twinkling with mischief and Yongi felt his stomach drop. Was it too late to volunteer to do whatever Seokjin was trying to come up with?

With any luck, Hoseok’s dare would be something as stupid as stand with your dick in the freezer for ten minutes. But the fact that Hoseok stole the seat Yoongi was aiming for so he’d have to sit next to Taehyung wasn’t promising.

“I burnt my tongue last weekend and it still hurts!” Taehyung was complaining to Jimin.

Yoongi focused on his food and tried to pretend he couldn’t feel the shadow behind him- watching, waiting.

It’s only a matter of time, it whispered. Only a matter of time.

 

---

 

“What about like,” Seokjin mused, breaking off to take a swig of beer from the bottle in his hand, “putting ice directly on your dick. For a certain amount of time.”

Hoseok was staring at Seokjin with the most judgmental look Yoongi thought he'd ever seen on his face, and it had him laughing into his own beer even though he was just as unimpressed by Seokjin’s ideas.

“No one is freezing their dick off,” Namjoon said firmly.

“Not literally,” Seokjin insisted, exasperated like Namjoon was the one being ridiculous.

Jimin was watching the exchange with his chin resting in his hands, amused by the whole thing. He’d sat outside the science building wearing a tin foil hat and holding a poster board about the apocalypse on Monday, so it wasn’t gonna be his dick.

It wasn’t going to be anyone's dick considering Seokjin was the only one who thought this was a good idea.

“Or maybe, like, touching it to something cold outside?” Seokjin suggested, and Namjoon rolled his eyes.

“I am not going to come save you if you get your dick stuck to a pole or something like in A Christmas Story,” Namjoon promised him.

Taehyung's horrified expression pretty much summed that thought up.

“It’s not cold enough for that to happen yet,” Seokjin said, waving off the concern.

“No, I already said that you don't get to come up with another dare,” Hoseok finally cut in. “You just dared Namjoon two days ago. It's somebody else's turn.”

“I need more time to refine my ideas, anyway,” Seokjin said.

“Not enough time in the world,” Namjoon muttered into his beer, though Seokjin completely ignored him.

“Okay, anyone have any brilliant ideas for Yoongi?” Hoseok asked, and Yoongi prayed that Jimin would jump in with something because he didn’t ever dare Yoongi to do anything with Taehyung, or vice versa.

But Jimin didn't jump in. Seokjin didn’t insist that they go get some ice. Hell, Taehyung could have jumped in and saved them both. But none of that happened.

What happened was that Hoseok, upon the silence that greeted his question, turned to Yoongi with a devilish smile on his face, and Yoongi felt his pulse speed.

“Guess I'm pulling out the big guns tonight,” he said, and Yoongi felt his stomach drop to the floor. He didn’t know what Hoseok was going to say, but he had an idea. And he wondered if it was possible to throw up his entire heart, and if so, if he wouldn’t have to do it.

“Now, I know we've all been thinking it,” Hoseok prefaced, looking far too gleeful.

Hoseok’s face as he judged the fuck out of Seokjin two minutes prior was the best thing Yoongi had seen all day. His mischievous grin and sparkling eyes right then, however, was the worst.

“I dare Yoongi and Taehyung to make out,” he said grandly, and Yoongi almost wondered if a light bulb was about to burn out because there was a ringing in his ears that nearly drowned out the rest of what he said. “And yes, Taehyung will get credit, too, so he won’t have to shove an ice pack down his pants, or whatever.”

There were rubber bands wrapped around Yoongi’s lungs- hundreds of them- and he couldn’t breathe. He didn’t dare look over at Taehyung for his reaction, though his widened eyes and pink cheeks were already flashing behind Yoongi’s eyelids as he blinked.

“Hoseok,” he said, using every ounce of energy he had to keep his voice steady. Because what he was about to say was valid. It was reasonable. And it had nothing to do with the rubber bands that were squeezing the life out of his organs. “That’s not fair.”

“Why not?” Hoseok asked, though he didn’t seem like he was really waiting for an answer with the grin he flashed like everything was fine. “Remember when Namjoon and Seokjin made out last year? That was gold.”

“I missed that?” Jimin squawked at the same time Namjoon said, “That was your dare, too, come to think of it.”

“That was entirely different, and you know it,” Yoongi reasoned, voice firm, and eyes absolutely avoiding Taehyung.

Because it was different. And not just because Yoongi had to hold on so tightly to the neck of his beer bottle that his knuckles were turning white just to keep his hands from trembling.

Hoseok let out a little puff of air like Yoongi’s protests were for the sole purpose of bringing down his good time.

“But it’ll still be fun!” he insisted, pouting through his exclamation. “Right?”

Come on, Jimin, Yoongi plead in his mind. You’re friends with Taehyung. Say something. Make this stop.

But Jimin wasn’t saying anything. Taehyung wasn’t saying anything.

Namjoon was, but he was just accusing Hoseok of being a pervert since he kept daring them all to kiss.

In a fit of panic, Yoongi looked over at Seokjin. Maybe he’d be on Yoongi’s side. Maybe he’d declare that he’d figured out the best way to freeze Yoongi’s dick off, and they all had to go out and buy bags of ice from the convenience store across the highway right that second.

But when he caught Seokjin’s eye, Seokjin just shrugged, face seeming to say ah well, this is what Hoseok wants, I guess. Like it wasn’t a big deal.

Fuck. Yoongi’s heart was racing- pulse thundering in his ears and fingertips even throbbing with it as he clenched his fist.

What Yoongi wanted to say was, this isn’t fair to Taehyung.

What Yoongi really wanted to say was, do not make me do this, you can’t make me do this, you have no idea what you’re asking, I can’t.

The rubber bands seemed to be wrapped around his trachea now, too. He opened his mouth to try again- to insist that just because Seokjin and Namjoon kissed for a dare didn’t mean that he and Taehyung should.

But he felt like he couldn’t get enough air to speak- chest tight and lungs feeling frozen.

Maybe it wasn’t rubber bands. Maybe it was ice. Maybe his organs were freezing over. Or turning into granite.

“How about instead of makeout, they just kiss for ten seconds or something,” Namjoon was saying, but it sounded far away- like Yoongi was underwater, drowning, and everyone else was on shore, not even trying to save him.

“Aw that’s weak,” Hoseok complained, but he sounded a little resigned.

Yoongi tried to feel some amount of relief, but he couldn’t. He felt like his vision was tunneling as his stare stuck on the wheel of Namjoon’s desk chair.

His eyes had turned to stone, too. His arms. He couldn’t fucking move.

“It won’t be too bad,” Jimin finally spoke, voice sounding a little strained around the edges, though that could have just been Yoongi projecting. “Right, Taetae?”

“Y-yeah,” was Taehyung reply- definitely unsteady and tense and too high for his normal speaking voice.

Everything went quiet before the volume of the room burst back and left Yoongi reeling as someone grabbed his beer bottle from him, the others discussing how this should all go.

God, this was happening. Yoongi hadn’t been able to talk his way out of it. It was fucking happening, and oh fuck he wasn’t ready for this.

Everything was a little blurry as his granite eyeballs started moving again, ears ringing and heart pumping.

On some sort of auto pilot, Yoongi managed an eyeroll- throwing out, “how come all of my dares seem fit for a kid in middle school?”

Seokjin laughed at that, and Namjoon poked more fun at Hoseok for being the mastermind of everything.

Could everyone tell that half his insides were made of granite? That the other half were being squeezed by hundreds of rubber bands? Could they all hear how loudly his heart was pounding?

Don’t let them see you sweat, don’t let them see you sweat, don’t let them see you sweat.

Yoongi blinked, trying to remember how to focus his eyes and get his body to work again, but the only thing Yoongi was seeing was Taehyung, right in front of him with wide, nervous eyes that kept darting around like he didn’t know where to look.

But Yoongi, with eyes still not working how they were supposed to, couldn’t look away. He saw the apology on Taehyung’s face, like this was his fault that Yoongi was trapped in his own worst nightmare.

Yoongi wanted to tell him that it was fine (it wasn’t), and that it wasn’t his fault (it really wasn’t), but breathing was proving difficult, so talking was definitely out of the question.

Taehyung’s tongue darted out to wet his lips- like a nervous tic, not like he was trying to be seductive or something- and all the air in Yoongi’s lungs felt like it was blocked up.

There were hoots around them, Namjoon saying something and Seokjin replying, but Yoongi’s ears felt like they were filled with cotton.

What would happen if he threw up all over Taehyung’s shirt?

Someone said something behind the high pitched ringing Yoongi could hear, and then Taehyung’s dark eyes flicked down to Yoongi’s lips.

Yoongi’s skin flashed hot and then cold, vision going fuzzy again as the room spun and Taehyung leaned in.

Don’t let them see you sweat, don’t let them see you sweat, don’t let them see you-

Yoongi was on his feet before he’d even processed that he’d managed to move.

He was dizzy and his legs felt unsteady and he still couldn’t fucking hear, but he could feel everyone’s eyes on him.

He had to get out of there.

“This is fuckin’ stupid,” he might have muttered as a weak excuse for his reaction before he was making for the door and slamming into the hallway.

It was a little easier to breathe out here, but there was a tickle along his spine that had Yoongi taking off at a run to get away.

He took the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator- not wanting anyone to follow him out and try to get him to come back. Not wanting to be stationary lest he get caught.

His feet thundered on the wooden steps, pushing off on the ground floor and running out the door and into the cold night. The bite in the air almost felt good after feeling like he was suffocating and cornered. But it was really too cold to be out without a coat- Yoongi’s still sitting in a heap in the corner of Namjoon’s room- so it was good that his building was only a three minute walk from Namjoon’s.

But that night, with the shadow right on his heels and breathing against the back of his neck, he made it in a minute and a half.

Taking the stairs two at a time, Yoongi made it up to his floor and to his room- the need to escape not diminishing in the slightest.

Hands trembling and chest tight, breathing shallow and nearly painful, Yoongi shut the door behind himself. The solid oak was supposed to be a barrier between himself and the outside world. And it was. But lately it hadn’t been keeping out the shadow.

When he'd first moved into the room, he'd been able to flee the dark presence threatening to overtake him. He'd been able to enter his room and lock himself away from everything he didn't want to think and feel and experience. Now though...now, the shadow was seeping in through the crack underneath, from the sides. It was hot on his heels, giving him no time to even take a breath.

Palms braced against the door as though that could keep the darkness at bay, Yoongi looked at his hands- pale skin, pronounced knuckles, flat nails. They were his own. They looked as they always had, though they were shaking as they pressed futilely against the wood. Maybe it should have been comforting, the familiarity, but it wasn't. All the sight of his hands did was make Yoongi that much more eager to climb out of his own skin.

But for as much as he was grateful for the extra stability leaning against the door provided for his trembling knees, he had to move. The shadow was filtering in and surrounding him, more insistent than ever, and he couldn't let it catch him. It knew he was weak. It was just waiting to strike.

Pushing off the solid surface unsteadily, Yoongi swiftly turned and walked to the other end of his room before pivoting and pacing back. His legs were still shaking and all he wanted to do why lay down and pull his blankets over his eyes like when he was afraid of monsters as a kid, but he knew that if he stopped moving, the shadow would get him.

Even now, walking briskly back and forth, the darkness was creeping in, surrounding him from all sides and pressing in like it was going to consume him.

It had gotten him once. It had caught up to him and taken him unawares. But somehow, he'd been able to shake it off and escape. This time...this time, Yoongi had a feeling that he wouldn’t be able to fight it off if it caught up to him. It was too strong, too persistent. And he was weak- worn down from running all these years. Conversely, the years had only made the shadow stronger.

It was closing in on him. There was no where left to run.

Yoongi sunk down in the middle of the floor, knees digging into the scratchy carpet, fingers curling against the material, and head buried in the crook of his elbow.

His breathing was rapid and he only barely realized that he was sobbing as he tried to curl into himself.

"Not now, not now, not now," he pleaded brokenly, but it was no use. He could feel the dark descending on him, tickling against the back of his neck- right there.

It was too late. There was nothing he could do.

The shadow wrapped around him and Yoongi felt something in him break.

Those walls were crumbling and there was nothing he could do.

It had never been shadow at all. He hadn’t let anything in. It had gotten out.

 

---

 

He was seven years old, sitting on the school bus next to the boy who lived up the street, when he first heard the word gay.

“It’s when two boys kiss, ‘steada a girl an’ a boy,” the boy had said, horrified fascination settling over his features like when he’d been prodding at that pile of dog poop they’d come across the day before.

“That’s a real thing?” Yoongi had wanted to know. He’d never heard of two boys kissing. All the movies he’d seen had had a boy and a girl. Every single one.

“Yeah!” his friend promised him. “My brother told me ‘bout it yesterday. There's a gay on his soccer team, so none of ‘em wanna change their clothes in front of him, yanno. Cause he might look.”

Yoongi was still having trouble wrapping his head around the whole thing. He’d never seen it, was all. If it was real, then how come it was all boys kissing girls on tv? He’d been to his uncle’s wedding a year ago. His uncle had married a girl.

If it was real, then how come he didn’t know any boys who married boys? Sounded better than marrying a girl. Then they could share all their stuff and have twice the toys. It seemed pretty practical, when he thought about it. But his friend’s face made it seem like a bad thing. Guess that was why Yoongi had never seen two boys kiss before. He didn’t know why it was bad, but he guessed it had to be.

At eleven, Yoongi had heard the whispers. There was a boy in his class- quiet, seemed kinda delicate, nice enough- that everyone thought was gay. Yoongi had no clue if it was true. The boy had never said anything about it. But everyone else was convinced. Even the girls. And why would care, anyway? Unless one of them wanted to kiss him or something.

The boy already didn't have many friends since he was really shy. But now that everyone had decided that he was gay, no one wanted to talk to him. No one even wanted to get near him. It was like cooties all over again except even more serious.

Faggot,” someone muttered when he walked by one day, and the other boys laughed.

The boy winced but kept walking.

Faggot was another word for gay, apparently. But meaner, it seemed.

Yoongi didn’t like how everyone was bullying this kid. Whether he was gay or not, it wasn’t nice. But he knew that if he said anything, everyone was gonna think he was gay. And he wasn’t. He didn’t want to be a faggot.

So, he just stood by, blank faced with lead in his stomach, while the other boys refused to let the boy sit with them at lunch.

At some point, the teachers or a parent or someone got wind of what was happening and their whole grade got a talking to about how gay people were just people, too, and that it wasn’t something to tease someone for.

That was basically what his mom had said when it had come up once.

By the time Yoongi was fourteen and starting high school, most of the kids he went to school with claimed not to be homophobes, though that didn’t stop the whispers and rumors about so and so and how they might have possibly been gay. And the word faggot was tossed around a fair bit, apparently an insult for just about anyone, now. Though the meaning certainly wasn't diluted.

A few months into his freshman year, Yoongi’s older sister convinced him to watch some dramatic, romantic movie with her when her friend had bailed on her. Yoongi would have much rather watched something else, but his sister could be persuasive when she wanted to be.

The main couple was a man and woman, as was to be expected. But unlike any other movie Yoongi had seen, a side story involved two men falling in love.

“So progressive,” his sister had marvelled with starry eyes, Yoongi shifting awkwardly on the couch- unsure how he felt about watching a love story between two men.

It was during their kiss scene- nowhere near as heated as the one between the man and woman, of course- that Yoongi's chest started feeling a little funny. His stomach, too. What was he supposed to do with his face? That was a stupid thing to be concerned with when his sister was obviously watching the screen, not him. But he felt like the universe was watching and judging his reaction.

It had never taken so much concentration to keep a blank face, though Yoongi didn’t know what his face wanted to do instead.

“Do we really need to see that?” their dad had asked, walking by with a beer in his hand while the guys were going in for a second kiss.

Their dad wasn’t against gay people. At least Yoongi didn’t think he was.

“Would you say that if it was a girl and a guy?” his sister challenged, already a social rights fighter at seventeen.

Their father was silent for a moment, and Yoongi found himself holding his breath- gaze stuck somewhere near the bottom, left hand corner of the screen.

“I don’t want to watch anyone kiss like that,” their dad finally muttered, wandering back out of the room.

His sister made some sort of sound like I showed him, but Yoongi was still frozen. He was a little lightheaded, actually.

But something stupid like a movie and his sister challenging how open-minded their father really was was something he’d been able to convince himself not to fixate on.

The dreams, however...those were harder to escape.

Every adolescent boy had sex dreams that he did not ask for. That wasn’t the issue.

Surely, other boys woke up uncomfortably aroused with images from a dream that they, in no way, wanted. Surely. But they also probably woke up from others that they did- maybe dreaming about the girl they sat behind in algebra and thought was attractive, or about a celebrity, or the girl on the cover of that month’s Playboy that they snuck peeks at when they bought candy at the convenience store.

A handful of times, Yoongi dreamt about that kind of thing too. And it was a relief, more than anything. It felt normal.

Because the rest of the time…

Yoongi didn’t think about the other dreams- the ones that plagued him a few times a week as his hormones went haywire. He didn’t think about them. Because if he thought about them, it acknowledged their existence. And if he acknowledged their existence, then that meant that maybe their existence meant something. And he absolutely refused to believe that.

How could he acknowledge that, most of the time, he wasn’t dreaming about beautiful women with long hair and big breasts? How could he let himself dwell on the fact that, more often than not, it was men he dreamt of- broad shoulders, sculpted jaw, strong hands, long legs- draped over him, or sometimes under him? That was not what he was supposed to be dreaming about.

Why couldn’t he just have a dream about one of the senior girls like any other guy? Why, instead, was he dreaming about one of the guys from his history class palming him through his jeans? Why did he keep dreaming about the bassist from that band he liked between his legs and rubbing up against him? And why did he have to wake up hard after dreaming about kissing along the chiseled abs of a handsome stranger?

None of that was what he wanted. He hadn’t chosen to have those dreams. It wasn’t fair. He just wanted to be like everyone else. Maybe not in all ways, but in thisway. He hadn’t asked for this.

Most mornings when he woke up throbbing with the wisps of one of those dreams dancing behind his eyelids, he’d just ignore it- grit his teeth and pretend it had never happened.

In one of the rare instances that he couldn’t talk himself out of it, he quickly took care of himself in the shower- eyes on the white tile wall and mind just as blank.

But for as unsettling as the dreams were, Yoongi got very good at ignoring them- brushing them off and telling himself that they didn’t mean anything.

And for the most part, he believed that.

Still, in the back of his mind, there was that niggling worry- that shadow that followed him around like a silent companion that only he could see. It had always been there, but the dreams made it bigger, stronger, more insistent.

The one time that the shadow had caught him was when was fifteen.

Always having been interested in music, Yoongi’s parents had signed him up for piano lessons when he was in elementary school. By the time he was in high school, he’d gotten good enough that he was accepted by a program at a local college that helped to hone the musical skills of high school students and prepare them for hopefully going to college for music.

There was a recital, of sorts, at the end of the year in the college's auditorium with performances from both high school and college students.

Technically, Yoongi was supposed to be backstage when he wasn’t performing, but there were so many talented musicians that he wanted to watch. So, he’d snuck out and into the dark auditorium, falling into an empty seat at the end if a row just in time to watch a high school senior, whom he’d gotten to know over the past few months, perform.

Yoongi had heard bits and pieces of the song he was playing on guitar, but it was different to see him on the bright stage in a dark auditorium, performing for a real audience.

The performance was amazing- pulling Yoongi in immediately and having him almost breathless as he watched.

Watching the boy’s long fingers fly over the frets with ease, Yoongi was slammed with the suddenly very clear fact that his admiration went beyond just appreciation. He was in awe of his skill, yes. He was in awe of his entire person. Watching this performance had his heart fluttering in response to more than just the music. It was attraction. It was a crush.

It was what Yoongi had never, ever wanted to acknowledge. But it had sneaked up on him there, in that dark auditorium, settling around him like a swath of fabric wrapped tight.

Part of him wanted to get up and bolt. But he didn't want to cause a scene. And he didn't want to miss the rest of the performance either.

There was panic simmering under his skin as he sat in the dark amongst strangers, the beguiling guitar swirling through him and making him dizzy.

How could this have happened? He didn’t want this, but he didn’t know how to run from it now that he’d seen it for what it truly was.

In that moment, Yoongi had thought that it was all over.

But somehow, somehow, he’d managed to shake off that realization like rain off an umbrella. He made excuses, after he left that auditorium. It was just the performance. He was getting his emotions confused. It was only admiration, after all.

That truth that had snuck up on him that day had stayed, folded away in the velvet chair he’d been sitting on.

He’d escaped.

When Yoongi was in eleventh grade, he dated his first girl.

She was in orchestra, and was serious about music, though she wasn’t serious about much else.She was pretty, funny, and only half an inch taller than Yoongi.

They met in statistics and she seemed to find Yoongi's sarcastic remarks charming. His friends urged him to ask her out, and he couldn't think of any reason why he shouldn't, so he had.

Their relationship was fine. It was fun. They watched bad movies together that they rented from the video store near Yoongi's house, and made out when his parents went to bed.

To have a girlfriend and like her and kiss her...Yoongi felt like a giant weight had been lifted off his shoulders. What had he always been so worried about?

During their relationship that spanned four months and ended mutually, they got each other off three times- just quickly with hands while they both listened intently to be sure no one was coming to check on them.

He’d gotten off with her. With her hand on him, he’d been able to come. And that knowledge was better than all three of those orgasms combined.

Armed with that reassurance to himself, Yoongi didn’t bother to date anyone after they broke up amicably.

He liked women, but he just didn’t have time, he told himself. And with his studies and piano lessons and practice, it seemed more than reasonable.

The change in scenery when he went to college had him hopeful. All his old worries could stay at home, embedded in the walls if his bedroom at his parents house, in his sheets, stuck between the keys of the upright piano in the living room.

For a while, it seemed like that had really worked.

The shadow was still a whisper in his periphery, but it wasn’t threatening to overtake him with every step like it had been.

However, it was only a matter of time before everything started creeping back in. Old worries, betraying thoughts, a reality that was trying to make itself known.

But Yoongi was good at ignoring all of that. He was an expert.

Then his sophomore year had started and Hoseok had brought Jimin and Taehyung into their group of friends, and every defense Yoongi had built up started to unravel.

He dreamt about Jimin first.

The dreams had slowed since he’d been in the throes of puberty. They still happened every once in awhile, but they were pretty easy to brush off.

The dream about Jimin was too.

With how much of a flirt Jimin was, Yoongi was willing to bet that ninety percent of people who had met Jimin had had a sex dream about him.

So it was easy to ignore that. Explicit as it had been.

Then the Taehyung dreams had started.

Somehow, the worst part was that they weren't all sexual. Some were sweet kisses. Some were cuddling. Some weren’t even romantic- just the two of them on some weird outing that could only exist in a dream. And of course, there were plenty that had Yoongi waking up with arousal and shame flowing through him.

At first, it had been easy to chalk all of it up to the power of suggestion. With Taehyung’s interest in men, his crush on Yoongi, and all of the dares, it was no wonder he kept dreaming about him.

But as the dreams continued and Yoongi got to know Taehyung more as a person, he began to struggle to brush them off as easily as he used to.

Even more troublesome was real life Taehyung, who laughed at his jokes, who stared at him like he was trying to see into his soul, who was a little awkward in his own skin while still unapologetically being himself, who simultaneously over thought and under thought every decision he made, who had so seamlessly slipped into their friend group...who startled a smile out of Yoongi even when he was intent on glowering, who had warmth curling in Yoongi's chest whenever he was on the receiving end of one of his too big, rectangular smiles…

Yoongi had always been an expert at sloughing off any reality he didn’t want. If he put his mind to something, he’d always been able to figure out a way to get the result he wanted.

Taehyung had changed all of that.

And now that his world had truly been flipped upside down, Yoongi was floating through space- unsure of what he should even be trying to grab onto.

If only he’d never shown his weakness.

If only he’d been stronger.

If only he could stop thinking about Taehyung's eyes on his lips as he’d leaned in…

After years of stubborn repression, this was uncharted territory.

Yoongi felt like everything was spiraling out of control.

He didn’t know what came next.

 

---

 

At eleven thirty the next day, there was a knock at the door.

Yoongi was tangled up in his blankets, awoken from a half doze. He’d slept horribly- mind on a constant loop of everything he’d been ignoring his whole life. Just when he would manage to fall asleep, he’d startle awake after some sort of nightmare, and it would all start again. He was exhausted and drained and anxious and planning to stay right where he was until further notice.

“Yoongi?” was called through the door, Hoseok’s voice- unsure. “Are you in there?”

Not responding was tempting, but Yoongi knew that if Hoseok told everyone he went to Yoongi’s room and got no answer, Seokjin would get all concerned and come bang his door down to make sure he hadn’t died. It was better to just make some excuse about why he wasn’t going out for anything today to buy himself some time.

“‘m sleeping,” Yoongi grunted, loud enough for Hoseok to hear.

There was hesitation, and Yoongi was glad for the fact that his friends knew not to disrupt his sleep. At least it wasn’t unusual for him to be crabby and unwilling to talk if someone woke him.

“Can I come in?” Hoseok finally asked, and Yoongi felt his stomach swoop at the thought of having to see anyone.

Now that he’d realized...surely it would be written all over his face. Maybe Hoseok wouldn’t know what was different, but surely he’d know that something had changed.

“Seriously, I’m tryna sleep,” Yoongi told him. “I’m not getting up. I have a headache.”

Another pause.

“I just wanted to apologize,” Hoseok said, speaking more softly, though Yoongi could still hear him. “You were right. It was different than daring Seokjin and Namjoon. I should have listened to you.”

Just the reminder of what had almost happened and what had caused everything inside Yoongi to crumble had Yoongi's heart pounding and his stomach twisting. He squeezed his eyes shut, and sunk further beneath his blankets like he could escape from reality.

“So, yeah,” Hoseok was saying, tone even more unsure since Yoongi hadn’t reacted at all. Knowing Hoseok, he was probably beating himself up and making himself sick over whether Yoongi was mad. “Um. I’m really sorry, so. Uh. Are we-”

“It’s fine,” Yoongi said, just so Hoseok wouldn’t misunderstand Yoongi's refusal to face the outside world as anger at him. “It’s whatever. I just have a headache, so I wanna sleep.”

The silence before Hoseok spoke again told Yoongi that Hoseok didn’t completely buy it, but hopefully it was good enough that Hoseok would leave him to try to deal with everything on his own. Maybe he really could go back to sleep. He needed it.

“Okay,” Hoseok finally replied. “I’m- I hope your headache gets better. See you later?”

Yoongi only grunted at that, not willing to make any promises, and he only relaxed when he could hear Hoseok's footsteps walking away.

But for as exhausted as he was, sleep felt like an impossibility.

 

---

 

“Yo,” and a thud against the bottom of the door. Mimi’s boot.

It was Monday morning, time for class. But Yoongi wasn’t feeling any more balanced than the day before. His sleep pattern had only gotten worse, and he hadn’t even showered.

Even though he hated to miss class, especially any class for his major, it was not happening that day.

“I’m not going,” Yoongi called, not trying to hide how hoarse his voice was from not sleeping. “I’m sick.”

What?” Mimi squawked, followed by a louder thud that sounded less like a kick with a boot and more like Mimi had collapsed against the door. “Don’t make me go alone! Our compositions are due on Friday and everyone is gonna be all stressed out! And what’s his face keeps trying to talk to me! If you’re not there, there’s nothing to stop him!”

Despite himself, he snorted.

“Have Hyojung run interference,” he suggested. “I don’t actually do anything to stop him.”

“He’ll probably sit in your usual seat! Yoongi, don’t do this to me!” Mimi wailed.

“You’ll be fine,” Yoongi placated, looking over at his keyboard. Their compositions were due soon, and Yoongi hated what he had so far. Maybe he could try to work on it later. At least it would give him something to focus on.

Mimi groaned. “You’re awful. But...feel better or whatever.”

“Thanks,” Yoongi replied, repeating the sentiment when Mimi promised to let him copy her notes.

Part of Yoongi wondered if going to class and thinking about something else would have been better, but he just felt like he was completely transparent. Without all the walls he’d built inside, he didn’t know how to function. He wasn’t ready.

But he did drag his keyboard over so he could work on his composition without getting out of bed.

As always, music was a welcome reprieve.

 

---

 

On Monday afternoon, Namjoon had stopped by- worried. Yoongi had maintained his sick lie, grateful that his voice sounded no better than it had that morning.

Nonetheless, he’d kept asking to come in to talk.

“You sound like my father,” Yoongi had grumped. “And I already told you, I’m sick. It would be stupid to come in and get sick, too.”

“We’re worried,” Namjoon had insisted, always reasonable in a way that became frustrating when one was trying to be unreasonable in peace. “Hoseok thinks you’re mad at him.”

“I already told him I’m not,” Yoongi had sighed. “Yesterday. I told him yesterday. I’m not mad.”

“But no one has seen you since you stormed out on Saturday.”

Yoongi had had to grit his teeth against a wave of anxiety.

“I was annoyed on Saturday, but now I’m sick,” he’d lied. “I’m not mad at Hoseok.” That, at least, was the truth.

“I hope you can tell him that face to face soon,” Namjoon had said, sounding every bit the disappointed father that Yoongi had accused him of being.

But at least he’d given up after that, leaving Yoongi to his fitful naps and attempts at salvaging his composition from the mess it had become.

The visit that he was most dreading, however, came on Tuesday when Yoongi still hadn’t gone to any classes or met up with everyone for lunch like he always did.

The knock was quiet, tentative, and Yoongi had a feeling he knew who it was before the person even spoke.

“Hey, ah, Yoongi?” was said when Yoongi didn’t answer, the deep timbre of the voice unmistakable. “It’s Taehyung…” as if he didn’t know that.

Yoongi found himself fisting the blanket that was wrapped around him, barely breathing like maybe Taehyung would believe he wasn’t there if he didn’t make a sound.

“Hoseok said you’re sick, so...I hope you’re feeling better. Or. Not as bad as before...um. Are you in there?”

It was so tempting to just not say anything. Maybe he was in the bathroom. Maybe he was at the infirmary. Maybe he was asleep. But not answering might have been even worse than answering.

“Yeah,” Yoongi forced himself to say. He still sounded like shit. He guessed that was a good thing.

“Oh, okay,” Taehyung replied, almost seeming like he hadn’t expected the response. “Um. Are you? Feeling better?”

“Maybe a little,” Yoongi told him, unsure of whether or not that was true. He certainly looked worse since he hadn’t shaved in days and he’d been living off granola bars and crackers. But maybe he didn’t feel quite as hopeless as he had on Saturday night. Maybe.

“That’s good,” Taehyung said, letting the silence linger a beat too long. “Um, I just wanted to come by to say sorry. For Saturday. Um. I know you were uncomfortable. But you’d never turn down a dare so. I should have refused it. I probably just made it worse. I’m sorry, I- I’m sorry.”

“You don’t need to apologize,” Yoongi assured him, speaking before he’d even considered what to say. “You didn’t do anything wrong. I was annoyed at Hoseok and them at the time, but I’m over it now. You have nothing to be sorry for.”

The force with which he spoke startled him. He’d just been kind of listlessly answering questions through the door and feigning sick and not having the energy or will for anything else. But Taehyung being sorry for...what? For not turning down the dare so Yoongi didn’t have to? For existing? For inspiring all the dares with his crush on Yoongi? It was a bunch of stuff he couldn’t control, nor should he have had to. He shouldn’t have to apologize. The last thing Yoongi wanted was for Taehyung to be feeling bad about any of this.

Apparently, his forceful tone surprised Taehyung as well since it was a handful of seconds that seemed to stretch on forever before he spoke again.

“I...okay. Thank you,” he said, voice too quiet and tentative for the Taehyung he knew.

“You don’t have to thank me,” Yoongi insisted, too many feelings trying to inflate in his chest at once. “It’s fine.”

“...okay,” Taehyung said again. “Um, if you need anything? Since you’re sick. Medicine or. Tea. Food? I’m just two floors down, so.”

Yoongi closed his eyes against a wave of...it was kind of like warmth, but more pointed. Nice, but it almost ached.

“Thanks,” he mumbled, only loud enough for Taehyung to hear him. “I’m just gonna nap now, I think.”

It was all too much. He couldn’t deal with any more, right then.

“Okay,” Taehyung said, just as quietly and almost drowned out by the hum of the heater. “Feel better.” The door moved a little, like Taehyung had touched a hand to it, before Yoongi heard him walking away.

Collapsing back on the bed, Yoongi pressed the heels of his hands hard against his eyes.

When would he be ready to face all of this? When would he be ready to face Taehyung?

Yoongi didn’t even try to sleep- knowing that laying down and closing his eyes was like an invitation to every thought he didn’t want to deal with.

Instead, he put his headphones back on, and went back to fiddling with the harmonies in the seventh measure.

Everything else could wait.

 

---

 

It was Wednesday when there was a loud, insistent banging on the door.

He’d known this was coming.

“Yoongi!” Seokjin’s voice. “Open the door for me this instant!”

He was actually surprised it hadn’t happened sooner.

“I’m sick,” he called out. “Can’t I just rest and recover like a-”

“If you don’t open the door, I'm gonna tell the RA that you have meth in there or something, and then she'll open the door for me. And probably campus security, too,” Seokjin threatened.

“For fuck’s sake,” Yoongi grumbled, dragging a hand down his face and grimacing at the scruff that he’d been ignoring on his jaw.

“I’ll do it, Yoongi,” Seokjin promised, and Yoongi knew he wasn’t lying.

“Fucking hell,” he complained as he got up on creaky legs. “I’m coming, I'm coming.”

But as he neared the door, panic seized him.

“You’re alone, right?” he asked, and Seokjin’s palm smacked against the door in annoyance.

“Yes, just let me in,” Seokjin huffed.

Seokjin looked worried and frustrated in equal parts when Yoongi opened the door, Seokjin shoving in immediately like Yoongi might change his mind and shut him out.

“You look awful,” Seokjin told him, pausing at the edge of the bed and pulling Yoongi's desk chair out instead.

“No shit,” Yoongi grunted, flopping back on his messy bed that he’d barely left for the past three and a half days. “I’m sick.”

The look Seokjin shot him definitely said that he wasn’t buying that at all.

“I haven't been sleeping well,” Yoongi tried. “Feel like shit.”

Seokjin’s face softened at that.

“What’s going on?”

One of the things Yoongi had learned about Seokjin during the year prior was that while Seokjin was basically the human version of a labrador retriever that had lost its mind, he had a responsible streak that reared its head when any of his friends were sick or upset or in distress of some kind.

There was a reason Hoseok had been staying in Seokjin’s room when he was horribly ill from drinking Baileys.

Yoongi appreciated Seokjin’s concern- knew he was lucky to have a friend who actually gave a shit and would make sure he didn’t just waste away in his room. But couldn't he just have a few more days of skulking around and pretending the outside world didn’t exist?

A messy, half hearted shrug was all Yoongi could muster. He wasn’t ready for this conversation. With any luck, Seokjin wouldn’t press. Too much.

“Look,” Seokjin said, looking at Yoongi seriously. “We’re all really sorry about taking the dares too far. It seemed like fun at the time, but we were really relentless with the Taehyung stuff. It wasn’t fair to you or him. We’re gonna stop with those dares, okay?”

At this point, what did it matter? But Seokjin didn’t know that. And Yoongi appreciated the apology, anyway.

“Thanks,” Yoongi mumbled, hating to acknowledge that those dares had broken him, even though everyone had nearly seen it happen.

“You’ve got to leave this room, though,” Seokjin went on. “You need to go to class. And shave. Please shave.”

Yoongi laughed despite himself, holding up his middle finger even though he knew Seokjin was right.

“Will you have lunch with everyone tomorrow?” Seokjin asked. “Hoseok thinks you’re mad at him. Taehyung, too, though he hasn’t said it out loud. At least not to me.”

“I told both of them I wasn’t mad,” Yoongi said, brows furrowed. He didn’t want his breakdown to be causing other people distress. God, was it so hard to just become a hermit in peace?

“You told Hoseok in your own special gruff way through a door,” Seokjin pointed out. “Not the most convincing. And...when did you tell Taehyung?”

Another lopsided shrug. “He came by...yesterday? Fuck, I have no clue what day it is anymore.”

“Wednesday,” Seokjin said, speaking slowly like Yoongi was stupid. “Wait. Did you let him in without him threatening you? Because-”

“I told him through the door,” Yoongi interrupted, sure that Seokjin was about to go on some tirade about how he shouldn’t have to threaten to lie about illegal drug usage to get into his own best friend’s room. And while that was true, Yoongi didn’t want to hear about it.

Seokjin blinked at him. “You told both of them you’re not mad through the door,” he deadpanned. “I can’t imagine why they don’t believe you.”

Yoongi scowled. “I was sick!”

Seokjin looked at him like he wasn’t going to dignify that with a response and that Yoongi had better realize that Seokjin thought he was full of shit.

“Anyway,” Seokjin sighed, “will you come out now?”

Yoongi froze.

Seokjin meant...come out of his room. Obviously, that’s what he meant. Yoongi knew that was what he meant.

But just hearing those words sent ice cold panic flooding through him, and Yoongi was trying to get his heart to start again after the shock of hearing that come from Seokjin’s mouth.

Evidently, his panic showed because Seokjin was looking at him kinda funny.

“What- oh.” Seokjin snorted at his own choice of phrase. “I didn’t mean-”

But then the smile was falling from his face as a look of realization settled behind his eyes. Yoongi could see all the pieces of the puzzle falling together in Seokjin’s mind, and he was helpless to stop it. He couldn’t even look away, feeling like he was watching a car crash in slow motion. Except, instead of a car crash, it was his entire life shattering before his eyes.

“Wait, you’re-”

Seokjin cut himself off, and Yoongi had to look away, jaw set tight and eyes staring unseeingly at a wrinkle in his sheets. He didn’t want to see Seokjin’s expression change as he realized whom he’d been best friends with for the past year- whom he’d let sleep on his floor, whom he had drunkenly regaled with his innermost fears. Yoongi couldn’t watch Seokjin’s face when he started seeing Yoongi for what he really was.

The silence was deafening- Yoongi having no desire to speak because what could he say? And Seokjin...Seokjin was probably horrified.

“Shit, fuck,” Seokjin muttered, and while that might have been entertaining coming out of Seokjin’s mouth since it sounded more like Yoongi’s choice words, at least sandwiched together like that, it wasn’t. Yoongi just felt sick. “Why didn’t you tell us?”

Yoongi couldn’t help the sharp look he shot at Seokjin then. Why didn’t he tell them? Why would he have? How could he have if he hadn’t even managed to admit it to himself?

“Shit, and we were daring you and Taehyung to do all that stuff…fuck,” Seokjin went on, seeming almost like he was talking to himself. “Fuck, we’ve been such assholes!”

Seokjin did look horrified, then, but not in the way Yoongi had been expecting.

But then Seokjin was looking at him with sloped brows, concern pouring off of him, and Yoongi had to look away again. He didn’t know what to make of that, but he didn’t want to make anything of it. He just wanted to crawl under his covers and pretend this conversation wasn’t happening.

“You coulda said something,” Seokjin told him quietly, and Yoongi’s throat ached at how gentle his voice was. He still couldn’t look at him. “It’s not like anybody would have a problem with it. Not any of us, anyway. I mean, we hang out with Jimin and Taehyung everyday. No one cares that they’re gay.”

Yoongi flinched at the word, and hated himself for doing so.

They were quiet for a minute that felt like the most painful eternity- every second making Yoongi’s grip on the edge of his mattress tighten.

“Seriously, no one is gonna care,” Seokjin finally said. “They’re just gonna feel like assholes for all the dares. But it’ll be fine, I promise.”

Yoongi didn’t know how Seokjin could promise such a thing, but he appreciated the sentiment more than Seokjin would ever know.

It was only after another thirty seconds or so that Yoongi trusted himself to talk.

“You can’t tell anymore,” Yoongi said, voice even rougher than before.

“Of course,” Seokjin was quick to agree. “I wouldn’t- it’s not my place. I won’t.”

Yoongi managed a nod of acknowledgment, but his throat was tight again, and he didn’t think he could manage a thanks.

“Do you want to talk about any-”

Yoongi was shaking his head before Seokjin had even finished, staring holes into his own knees, and Seokjin cut himself off.

“Do you want me to go?”

It was like Seokjin was trying to talk to Lassie. Which would have been funny except nothing was funny, and Yoongi was trying like hell to hold himself together.

“Okay, I’ll go,” Seokjin agreed, and Yoongi was relieved to hear the sound of Seokjin getting up from his squeaky desk chair. “But come to lunch tomorrow, okay? Everybody misses you.”

Yoongi nodded. Because while that sounded so terrifying at the moment, it probably wasn’t going to get any less terrifying until he did it. And he needed to rejoin society. Staying holed up in his dorm room forever was not actually an option.

“Okay,” Seokjin said again when he got to the door. “And I wasn’t kidding about shaving.”

Still looking away, Yoongi managed a strangled half laugh, which Seokjin answered with a chuckle before he let himself out of the room and closed the door behind him.

Gasping out a sob that had been waiting for escape, Yoongi let his head drop into his hands.

He was still cautious that Seokjin might change his mind or that the others wouldn’t react well, but just Seokjin saying that he didn’t have a problem with it...there were tears coating Yoongi cheeks and his palms when he lifted his head and tried to take a breath.

Letting his lungs fill with oxygen even as tears continued to fall, Yoongi felt kind of okay. Not great. Still scared shitless. Still unsure of most everything. But maybe kind of a little bit okay.

A tiny bit of the weight he’d been carrying around all these years had been lifted.

And it felt good to just let himself cry.

 

---

 

The thought of facing the world with his new self awareness was no less terrifying on Thursday, but Yoongi had told Seokjin he’d come to lunch. If he didn't show, he’d have Seokjin hammering down his door and screeching about cocaine or something. Plus, he couldn’t miss his music theory class that afternoon. He’d already missed Tuesday's class, and missing two in a row was not an option.

So, Yoongi had gotten up on Thursday morning with determination and dread both settled on the back of his tongue. He’d showered, shaved, put on real pants for the first time in days, and left his room with a pounding heart and trembling hands.

A real meal would be good. Seeing humans would be good. Doing anything other than stewing in his own fears would be good.

Everyone was already gathered when he got there, Seokjin smacking the table as he laughed at something Hoseok had said.

Yoongi took a deep breath, and made his way over to the empty chair they’d saved for him between Seokjin and Namjoon- not next to Taehyung like it normally would have been. Yoongi didn’t know how to feel about that.

“Hey,” he said, sinking down in the seat with his burger and fries.

“Yoongi!” Seokjin greeted happily, likely glad he didn’t have to employ more extreme methods to get Yoongi out of his room. But the greetings from everyone else were tentative, like they didn't know how to interact with him, and it had Yoongi’s stomach twisting.

He raised his eyebrows like they were all being idiots as he picked up his burger.

“Are you feeling better?” Jimin asked politely.

Yoongi wondered how many of them bought that he’d been sick.

“Mostly,” he said with a disinterested shrug as he bit into his food.

“Hoseok was telling us about how there was a mouse on the loose on his floor last night,” Seokjin offered when the uncharacteristic silence of the group became alarming.

“Did you scream?” Yoongi asked, turning his attention to Hoseok who was watching him warily.

In fact, that’s what everyone was doing.

“Christ, what?” Yoongi complained. “I don’t have ebola.”

Namjoon snorted, and a little bit of the tension eased.

“To be fair,” Namjoon said, “we don't know what you had. It could have been ebola.”

Yoongi rolled his eyes as Namjoon grinned.

“It wasn’t ebola,” Yoongi clarified unnecessarily. “And I'm better. So you can stop staring at me like I'm a leper, and instead tell me if Hoseok screamed when he saw the mouse.”

That startled a laugh out of Hoseok, and it was like an exhale- the weird atmosphere dissolving as Hoseok insisted that he didn't scream while the rest of them questioned the truth of that bold claim.

By the time they were throwing away their trash and dumping their trays, it was almost like Yoongi hadn’t disappeared off the face of the earth for four days.

Except Yoongi couldn't bring himself to meet Taehyung's eyes because just the sound of his voice had too many feelings welling up in Yoongi’s chest, and he didn’t know how to deal with them.

Just the glances at Taehyung's profile that he had taken had his heart beating too fast and his lungs feeling blocked up.

Taehyung made him feel out of control, and Yoongi hated that feeling.

He was almost certain he hated it.

 

---

 

“Seriously, Yoongi,” Mimi said for the twelfth time as they exited their composition class on Friday. “That was fucking amazing. Holy shit.”

They’d presented their compositions in class that day, Yoongi having spent hours in the computer lab the day before combining all the pieces he’d recorded when he’d been holed up in his room. He really should have recorded in a soundproof room in the music department, but he didn’t have time for that. Unsurprisingly, his professor had chided him for the white noise that had snuck onto some of the tracks.

However, other than that, his feedback had been good- really good. The best he’d gotten all semester. He was feeling pretty great about it.

His piece had ended up a lot darker than he’d initially planned. It had transformed as he’d worked on it in his room as his life had nearly flashed before his eyes and anxiety wrapped around him.

Yoongi could hear the pain in his composition- the worry, the fear, the confusion. It hurt a bit to listen to, but he was proud of it.

“That was so good!” Mimi gushed, jostling him by the forearm. “You should get sick more often. I mean. Not because I want you to be sick, but if that's the kind of thing you come up with...”

There was a twist in Yoongi's stomach at his lie being revisited. Not that it was going to do Mimi any harm to think he’d had the stomach flu. But he had a panic inducing moment where he wanted to just come clean.

The thought of telling Mimi was somehow less intimidating than telling any of his friends. Maybe because she was a girl. Maybe because he didn’t know her as well. Maybe because she was one of the most laid back people he knew. Maybe because she wasn’t aware of the fact that Taehyung had a crush on him and that they’d been doing awkward, couple-y dares for the past few months.

Regardless of why, the thought of just telling her the truth flickered into the forefront of his mind before, he decided that no, now wasn’t the right time. He wasn’t ready yet.

But just the fact that he’d been tempted? That was kind of huge.

“Thanks, but I’m gonna try not to make a habit of it,” Yoongi finally said, swallowing down the truth and saving it for later.

“Do you think I can write something like that if I get sick?” Mimi mused, wincing when they stepped outside and were immediately accosted by a gust of wind. “I think Jiho has a cold. Maybe I should go hang out with her.”

Yoongi shot her a look that had Mimi laughing and shoving at his arm.

“Okay, okay, I won’t do that,” she acquiesced. “But seriously, dude. That piece was amazing. I am in awe.”

“Thank you,” Yoongi said, ducking his head at the praise. It was nice to hear it, but still left him embarrassed.

“Well, I’ve gotta meet with some friends in the library,” Mimi announced, stopping outside the bookstore instead of walking back to the dorms with Yoongi like she usually did. “Have a good weekend, musical genius.”

Yoongi laughed, adopting a smirk and a little shrug at that praise, which had Mimi snickering as she waved goodbye.

Stuffing his cold hands in his pockets, Yoongi headed back toward his dorm. He could probably squeeze in a nap before he had to meet the guys for dinner.

Hanging out with all of them and pretending that nothing was different (technically, it wasn’t, but the acknowledgement of reality made it feel that way) was still kind of nerve wracking. What if they could tell? What if Yoongi lost his mind and just blurted it out? What of they’d known all along and he was the only idiot who hadn’t figured it out?

So far, everything had been okay. And Yoongi had no reason to believe it would stop being okay. He just had to take it one day at a time and get comfortable in his own skin.

It was tempting for him to think that he had to learn to be comfortable in his own skin again, but that wasn’t the case. He never had been, was the problem. He’d pretended, sure. But now was the time for him to really and truly embrace who he was. Finally, he could fully be who he was and own it.

Scary as it all still was, it would get easier. He knew it would because it already had. He’d just almost told Mimi. Sure, he’d chickened out, but he’d thought about it. He had a long way to go, but he would get there. He would.

He was Min Yoongi, musical genius. He could do anything.

 

---

 

Yoongi fiddled with his keyboard, headphones around his neck and not on his ears because this wasn’t what he was supposed to be doing. His next composition wasn’t due for weeks and he’d done his theory homework already. What he was supposed to be doing was his history paper. It was Saturday, but due to his hermit stunt, he was behind on his work. Not behind enough to be actually late, but he had to spend Saturday working instead of hanging out with his friends in order to get back on track.

And musing about his next composition was not helping anything.

Just when he’d set his headphones down and gotten up to move to his desk, there was a knock at his door. Pausing, Yoongi looked at the solid oak like he could discern who was there that way. He wasn’t expecting anyone. Seokjin had said he was gonna be doing homework, too, but maybe he had gotten restless and was going to use Yoongi to procrastinate. Wouldn’t be the first time.

But when he turned the lock and swung open the door, it wasn’t Seokjin standing there, whining about how much reading he had to do.

It was Taehyung, fingers twisted up in front of him and eyes wide and nervous.

The shock of him suddenly right there had Yoongi reeling, but he tried not to show it.

“Can I come in?” Taehyung asked, biting at his lips and shifting his weight from foot to foot.

Yoongi nodded dumbly, stepping aside so Taehyung could come inside and shutting the door behind him.

It was just the two of them, alone, and Yoongi pretended he couldn't feel his heart racing.

But what did Taehyung want? Had he figured him out? He must have seen right through him. Was he here to tell Yoongi that he knew?

In a weird way, Yoongi almost hoped so. At least it would be one less person he was lying to.

“Um,” Taehyung started, standing awkwardly in the middle of Yoongi's room and glancing around at the possible places he could sit, though he didn’t make any move to do so.

Yoongi stayed standing as well, too keyed up by the unexpected visit to do anything else.

“Um,” Taehyung started again, looking at Yoongi before his eyes darted away and then came back. The nerves were radiating off him, and that was doing nothing to calm the jittering inside Yoongi's chest. “I know I said this before, and you said you weren't mad, but...you’ve...lately, you seem...maybe not mad? But, um, uncomfortable around me. So, I just wanted to say sorry. Again. For, um, I dunno, just going along with the dares, and-”

“You really don't have to apologize,” Yoongi cut him off, sensing that Taehyung could have gone on for quite some time. And just the fact that he was apologizing...

He said it was for going along with the dares, but he was basically apologizing for his sexuality and feelings, thinking that those had made Yoongi uncomfortable. Which. They had, only not in the way Taehyung thought. But even if he was just some ass who was uncomfortable around gay people, Taehyung sure as shit shouldn't have been apologizing for something he couldn't control.

Plus, just the fact that it was Taehyung feeling like he’d done something wrong- Taehyung, who worked everyday to feel comfortable in his own skin, who overthought everything, who tried to be as confident in his sexuality as Jimin was in his but wasn't quite there yet.

Yoongi fucking got it. More than Taehyung knew.

“You haven't done anything wrong,” Yoongi said when Taehyung seemed thrown off to have been cut off from his speech before he was done. “You don’t need to be sorry.”

“I, um, also probably went along with everything and maybe acted a certain way since I...like you,” Taehyung went on, confession breathy and rushed as his head dipped and his cheeks flushed. And fuck if a shot of adrenaline didn't shoot right through Yoongi’s heart to hear him say it so plainly, his own face feeling too warm. “So, I just wanted to tell you that I’ll try not to accidentally act like that, so you don't have to worry.”

Despite the tumbling routine his heart was attempting, Yoongi felt his brows furrow at that.

“I’m not worried,” he said. “You don’t have to act any way, or not act any way for my benefit. Or anyone else's.”

Taehyung swallowed, nodding slowly and then quicker.

“I,” Taehyung paused. “Thanks. I just. You seemed uncomfortable this last week. Around me. And I...just wanna fix it. Because...because. So I just wanna make sure you're not weirded out or-”

Taehyung,” Yoongi interrupted again, startling both of them with the force of his tone. “I am not weirded out.”

He’d stepped forward, when he said that- trying to get Taehyung to listen. But now they were just close. Too close to be having a casual conversation. Yoongi could see the pores on Taehyung’s nose and the way he kept blinking, like the little split second barriers from having to stare at Yoongi up close were keeping him from panicking. But still, his dark eyes were wide on Yoongi in that way that had Yoongi feeling off balance and nervous and maybe a little giddy, but mostly just overwhelmed.

Taehyung looked like he was about to say something, probably something else that could be categorized as an apology, and Yoongi… To say he didn’t know what came over him would be a lie, but that didn’t make it any more in character for him.

Before Taehyung could say anything else about how he was to blame for Yoongi’s general discomfort in the world, Yoongi hooked a hand around the back of Taehyung’s neck and pulled him in to press a kiss to his lips.

Initially, Taehyung froze- probably too shocked to even fathom what was happening. Yoongi could barely wrap his head around it, and he’d been the one to initiate it. But then Taehyung was kissing back and…

In a lot of ways, it was pretty much the same as kissing a girl. As in, it was lips again lips. From a practical standpoint, it was exactly the same. Except, unlike when he’d first kissed a girl, he wasn’t thinking so this is it? Because this was it.

It wasn’t anything too intense- just the warm press of Taehyung’s lips against his- but it had Yoongi’s head feeling light and his pulse roaring in his ears. There was a pleasant tickle at the base of his spine and adrenaline shooting down to the tips of his toes.

It only lasted a couple of seconds, but when Yoongi pulled back, he was breathless. Taehyung looking at him through half lidded eyes, his lips so close and inviting, made Yoongi want to lean back in, but he was doing this all in the wrong order.

Because he couldn’t catch his breath with Taehyun so close, Yoongi stepped back, and that seemed to have Taehyung snapping back to reality- gaze snapping to his eyes from where it had been settled on his lips.

“What was that?” Taehyung asked, voice sounding lower than usual and making Yoongi almost shiver. It was like Taehyung was halfway between blissed out and completely unsure of where he stood. Yoongi could relate.

“I’m,” Yoongi started, taking another step back because he still couldn’t think when it would be so easy to get pulled into Taehyung’s orbit again. He looked to the side, eyes catching on his keyboard- thinking about the four days he’d spent coming to terms with himself. He could do this. “Shit. I’m...gay.”

It was the first time he’d said those words and they felt weird on his tongue, the proclamation sending a sharp jolt of adrenaline through him- nothing like the pleasant zings from kissing Taehyung. But he was going to get used to this. He was.

When Yoongi glanced over to see Taehyung’s reaction, Taehyung looked shell-shocked, though maybe not as much as he would have been had Yoongi not just kissed him, and like he wanted to say something, but wasn’t sure what. Knowing Taehyung, there were probably seven sentences battling to be the one he chose.

Yoongi spoke again before he could.

“I was never weirded out by you,” he said, hoping that Taehyung would finally believe him. “It was just...you and the dares and everything made it so hard to stay in denial. Impossible, actually.”

Taehyung’s lips parted, brows sloped in worry.

“Don’t apologize,” Yoongi cut in, holding up a hand.

Taehyung’s teeth clacked shut before he shot Yoongi a sheepish little smile.

“It needed to happen,” Yoongi assured him. “I honestly don’t know how I managed to convince myself for so long… Anyway, that’s why I got all weird about the dares and why I left last Saturday. It’s been...a tough week. But I’m feeling better, I think. It’s still...a lot. But…” Yoongi nodded to himself, letting out a breath. “Yeah, I feel okay.”

Looking up, Yoongi found Taehyung staring at him with his mouth hanging open a little and his eyes wide in what looked like amazement. He couldn’t help the way his lips quirked at that.

“Wow,” Taehyung finally said. “I...thanks for telling me.”

Yoongi nodded, shoving his hands in his pockets and suddenly feeling a little self conscious.

“I’m, uh,” Taehyung glanced down at his watch, “supposed to meet Jimin for dinner soon, but...if you ever want someone to talk to about it? Because I...have been there, you know? So.”

“Thanks,” Yoongi said, though he wasn’t ready to sit down and hash out everything he’d been burying in the depths of his mind all these years with someone else. But it was nice to know that was there was someone who would listen, should he ever want to. And even better, that someone got it.

“Does anyone else know?” Taehyung asked, and that was valid. That was also a good reminder that even though he’d been okay telling Taehyung, he still wasn’t ready for everyone to know.

“Seokjin,” Yoongi told him. “He kinda figured it out by accident. When he came to try to drag me out of my room on Wednesday. But that’s it. I- I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell anyone. I’m just-”

“Oh of course!” Taehyung cut in, staring at Yoongi almost in horror, like the idea that he would have told anyone without Yoongi’s permission was beyond imagination. “I would never- it’s not mine to tell.”

Yoongi nodded, nerves settling a bit. But there was still the fact that he and Taehyung were standing in the middle of his room, alone, having just kissed. And Yoongi didn’t quite know what to do with that. He’d definitely done a few things out of order.

“I should-” another glance at his watch, knee jiggling.

“Don’t keep Jimin waiting,” Yoongi said, and Taehyung giggled- nervous still, but seeming less burdened than when he’d shown up at Yoongi’s door.

Hopefully, he was finally going to stop feeling guilty for all of Yoongi’s inner struggles that had accidentally manifested in external ways. Hopefully, Yoongi hadn’t just burdened him with even more.

“Thanks again for telling me,” Taehyung said as they both migrated toward the door. “Or showing me, I guess.” He snickered and immediately sobered, like he was going to get scolded for joking.

Yoongi snorted even as he felt himself blush, and Taehyung exhaled through a chuckle.

“See you tomorrow?” he asked, looking hopeful, but worried.

He was probably afraid that Yoongi was going to lock himself away again since the last time they’d almost kissed, that was exactly what had happened.

But Yoongi didn’t want to hide out in his room anymore. Okay, it was still a little tempting. But he had things to do outside of his teeny dorm. He wasn’t going to see Taehyung if he stayed hidden.

“Yeah,” Yoongi agreed. “I’ll see you at lunch.”

Taehyung beamed, wide and happy, and Yoongi found himself mirroring it, even though he was pretty sure his cheeks were still pink.

But he had a reputation to uphold, too.

“Alright, alright,” he said, opening his door and making exaggerated shoo-ing motions as he faux scowled. “I don’t need Jimin complaining to me if you show up to dinner late.”

Taehyung laughed, the sound sending warmth curling through Yoongi’s chest as Yoongi settled on a fond smirk.

“See ya,” Taehyung said again before he waved and made his way down the hall.

Closing the door and taking a steadying breath, Yoongi didn’t even know what to make of all that. That had definitely not been the plan. But he was relieved, in a lot of ways. He’d taken a step. He’d said it out loud, and he was still here- still himself.

Then there was the kiss. Yoongi had to really trying not to just start laughing in disbelief when he thought about it. But that had been good. That had been-

Yoongi had no idea how he was going to focus on his history paper now.

But if he wanted to meet up with everyone for lunch, he had to get at least the first draft done today.

After a couple minutes of basking. He’d earned it.

 

---

 

There was a twist in his stomach when he walked into the cafeteria the following day, heart too active for just being on his way to lunch. But Yoongi couldn’t help the way his pulse spiked when he walked up to the table where most of his friends were already waiting, and Taehyung looked up to meet his eyes.

There was a little smile for him that he returned with a simple quirk of his lips even though he kind of wanted to laugh because they’d kissed, and now they were just gonna eat lunch and…

Suddenly, Yoongi was struck with a new worry, even though he knew that, logically, it was ridiculous. But he wondered...what if everyone could tell? He felt like there was an electric current stretched between him and Taehyung, two seats down. It wasn’t like anyone else would be able to feel it, but...what if they could? He knew they couldn’t. But he felt like the air was crackling with it.

“How was your Saturday?” Seokjin asked him, and Yoongi nearly choked on his food before realizing that Seokjin was just asking because he’d been doing homework all day. He hadn’t magically seen into Yoongi's mind and found his memories of kissing Taehyung. Though he wouldn’t have had to look far since they wouldn’t leave Yoongi alone.

Swallowing and managing not to get anything lodged in his throat, Yoongi gave a disinterested shrug.

“Dull,” he offered. “Did the first first draft of my history paper. You?”

Ugh!” Seokjin exclaimed, flopping halfway onto the table. “Mind numbing! I was so tempted to come bug you.”

“Good job not doing that,” Yoongi told him blandly. “I’d have told you to go away.”

Hoseok cackled as Seokjin tried to look upset.

Taehyung was snickering, and Yoongi found himself smiling.

His neck prickled with Taehyung’s proximity, sparks igniting in his blood when they caught eyes briefly throughout lunch. If he let his gaze linger too long, Yoongi suspected that he might get pinned by Taehyung’s intense stare. And if that happened, his red face would have given them away for sure.

It was a little like being a kid with a secret. Sure, there was a layer of fear and worry that still clung to him, but there was something exciting about it too. Something very I-know-something-you-don’t-know that had Yoongi feeling a little giddy.

Still, he knew he had to be careful not to let on that there was something- something- between him and Taehyung. He definitely wasn't ready for anyone else to know. Besides, even he didn’t really know what they had besides a kiss between them.

Even as Yoongi took care not to let his focus get stuck on Taehyung’s smile, he was equally as careful not to avoid looking at him at all. Because the last time he’d done that, Taehyung had tried to apologize for his general existence, and Yoongi didn't want him to think he’d done anything wrong.

“So, I have a great dare for Yoongi for after lunch,” Seokjin proclaimed casually when most of the food that had been on their colorful cafeteria plates had been demolished.

Everyone kind of froze, probably thinking of that last time Yoongi had been dared to do something.

But Yoongi knew that Seokjin wasn’t going to hit him with anything he was uncomfortable with, so he tipped his chin to show he was listening.

“Go to the campus bookstore,” Seokjin said, “and narrate yourself shopping. For, like, ten minutes.”

Namjoon snorted. “That’s a good one.”

Seokjin preened and did a little bow.

It would be a bit embarrassing, for sure, but this was the kind of thing Yoongi could complete without even flinching. And Seokjin knew it.

He appreciated Seokjin setting him up for success and helping him to earn back his unflappable reputation. At least somewhat.

“Do you want me to do it in first person or third person?” Yoongi asked, sitting back in his chair and stretching leisurely.

“Oh,” Seokjin’s eyes widened. “I imagined first person, but third could be really funny.”

“You have to do third!” Hoseok insisted. “That will be hysterical!”

“Yeah,” Namjoon agreed, “narrating his life and speaking about himself in third person. Genius.”

“He picked up his plate and observed the contents shrewdly,” Taehyung demonstrated, picking up his plate and squinting at it.

Jimin cackled and smacked him on the arm.

Yoongi was smiling before he could stop himself.

“So,” he said, forcing his gaze away from Taehyung's happily laughing face, “shall we? I’m done.”

There was agreement all around followed by the scraping of chairs and rattling of silverware.

It was time to remind everyone why he was the master of completing dares.

Taehyung grinned at him when he glanced over, and Yoongi’s lips were curving as he shoved his hands in his coat pockets.

“Ready?” Seokjin asked, throwing an arm around Yoongi’s shoulders and steering him out of the cafeteria.

Yoongi smiled, quirking a brow. “Of course.”

 

---

 

Bitter cold. That’s the only way Yoongi could describe it as he stepped out of the language building and gritted his teeth against the gust of wind that blew his hair back from his forehead. He should have worn a hat. But he hadn’t taken the wind chill into account when he’d gotten dressed.

At least he was on his way home. A few more minutes and he’d be able to curl up under a blanket and hopefully not move for a few hours at the very least.

Head down and hands shoved in his pockets, Yoongi grimaced as he walked into the wind- having the fight the resistance of the strong gusts.

When he felt a hand on his elbow through his coat, his first instinct was to shake it off and throw scowl at whomever was trying to slow his pace and keep him in the cold longer.

But when he turned his head, lips already twisting into a grimace, he was met with Taehyung's smile- cheeks pink from the cold and brows sloped like he was worried Yoongi wouldn’t want to be bothered.

“Hey,” Taehyung puffed, sounding like he’d been running. “Are you...headed home?”

Yoongi tried not to think too hard about Taehyung going out of his way to catch up with him.

“Yeah,” Yoongi told him, shoulders curling in when the wind permeated through his scarf.

“Wanna get coffee?” Taehyung rushed to ask, probably able to sense that Yoongi’s patience was worn through with the cold.

A coffee shop wasn’t his bed, but…

“Okay,” he agreed before he could convince himself he’d rather go home.

Taehyung lit up, bangs plastered to his forehead with the way his beanie was pulled down low to cover his ears, and for just a brief second, Yoongi forgot about the fact that he was freezing. But then the wind swept in again, and he was swiftly reminded.

The walk to the coffee shop across the street was mostly quiet, save for a few curses from Yoongi when a particularly frigid gust had him shivering, but that just gave Yoongi time to wonder what this was. Was it a date? It was just the two of them, but Taehyung hadn’t said anything about it being a date. And they’d hung out before, just the two of them. That hadn’t been a date. Except, in retrospect, fuck, it kinda was. But still not really.

So, this coffee outing might or might not be a date.

That was...fine. It was fine. It was what it was. Whatever it might be.

Yoongi was about ready to start cursing at himself by the time they stepped out of the wind and into the blessed warmth of the cafe.

Taehyung paid for his own hot chocolate and Yoongi paid for his own coffee, so that was a tick in the not a date box, but the way Taehyung was fidgeting across from him once they’d settled into a booth near the back was a tick in the maybe not not a date box.

“Are you don’t with classes for the day?” Taehyung asked, bringing his mug to his lips and wincing when the liquid was too hot.

“Haven’t learned not to do that yet?” Yoongi teased, and Taehyung pouted exaggeratedly at him- shooting him the most textbook rendition of puppy dog eyes that Yoongi had ever seen. “But yes, I’m done for the day.”

“Hooray!” Taehyung grinned, pushing his cup away, perhaps so he wouldn’t be tempted to take a drink until it was cooler. “So, how are you doing? Um...you know, since…”

Yoongi had to assume he was talking about the fact that he’d just come out...kinda. To himself. And Seokjin. And Taehyung.

Feeling a bit self-conscious, Yoongi shrugged a shoulder. “I’ve been alright.”

“Sorry,” Taehyung grimaced. “I guess you might not want to talk about it. I just- when I came out, I felt like I wanted to talk about it, but I was afraid to bring it up because, even if the person I was talking to seemed cool with it, I didn’t want to weird them out or bore them or something. So, I spent a lot of time hoping people would bring it up, and they never did. Probably because they didn’t want to be accidentally offensive. But yeah. Sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Yoongi waved him off. “That makes sense.”

Taehyung seemed to nearly slump with relief.

“When did you…?” Yoongi began, not finishing the sentence since speaking openly about this was still foreign to him. “If you don’t mind being asked about it, still,” he added with a quirk of his lips that Taehyung answered with a laugh.

“I don’t mind,” he confirmed, scooting to sit up straighter. “It was pretty recent, actually. Well, officially, anyway. It was…” he paused, eyes darting away as he seemed to think, “less than six months ago? Five months, maybe?”

Yoongi felt his eyes widen. Only five months? Considering he’d known Taehyung for three… It was no wonder he wasn’t as comfortable as Jimin, who’d mentioned that he’d been out since he was fifteen. When they’d all met Taehyung, he’d only been out for a couple months.

“That is recent,” Yoongi agreed, and Taehyung nodded.

“I waited until after graduation,” Taehyung explained. “The town I lived in...it’s not super small or anything, but nothing ever happens, so everyone is always gossiping and talking about each other's business. I didn’t like the thought of having everyone at school whispering about me so…” Taehyung shrugged, fingers pushing at the hair on his nape.

“But you knew before?” Yoongi asked, finding himself leaning forward on his elbows. Logically, he knew he wasn’t the only one who’d struggled with his sexuality, but to actually hear a real, live person talking about it…

“Yeah,” Taehyung nodded again, not seeming bothered by Yoongi’s curiosity. “Probably from, like, freshman year? For sure, anyway. I kinda knew before that, but didn't call it what it was. And freshman year, I guess, I thought maybe I liked girls too? Because it wasn’t like I didn't like girls. There were some girls who hung around with my friends and me, and they were nice and pretty. So, I thought maybe...but probably by sophomore year, I realized I wasn’t really interested in any girls like that. Not like my friends were. Like, them talking about girls and the stuff they wanted to do with them…” Taehyung let out a breathy little laugh. “That did not appeal to me.

“So, yeah, I definitely knew,” Taehyung said, pulling his drink back over, but not bringing it to his lips again. “But like I said, I didn’t want to be the talk of my high school class, so I didn't say anything. It was kind of...funny sometimes, having this secret that nobody knew. But it mostly just sucked, honestly. By my senior year, I was so sick of keeping it in. I went to all the dances with girls and everything, and my friends dated girls, and I hated everyone always pestering me to ask someone out. I was so tempted to tell my best friend while we were still in school. Or there was this girl I was pretty close with. But if they even said it to one other person...everybody would know. So I waited and told both of them after graduation. And they were the only ones I had to tell, because of course they both told other people in confidence, and those people didn’t care about keeping it a secret, so everybody knew. I told my mom. Before it got out. She...is okay with it. But I think she still thinks I'll somehow end up with a girl. If I meet the right one, or something.” Taehyung let out a laugh, but it wasn’t very humorous.

“What about your friends?” Yoongi pressed, wanting Taehyung to be okay and hating to think that he’d had already been hurt.

“Oh, they were fine,” Taehyung said with a shrug. “They were surprised at first and then they were just like oh, no wonder you never wanted to date any girls. My best friend was even like I know a guy who knows a guy who likes guys, I can introduce you. So, that was nice, I guess.”

“So, have you never dated a guy or…?”

“Well, he did introduce me,” Taehyung admitted with a giggle followed by a scrunch of his nose. “It wasn’t really dating as much as it was convenient. It was just over the summer. He wasn’t my boyfriend or anything. We just fooled around and hung out, basically,” Taehyung said, cheeks coloring slightly at that. “When we both left for college, it was just like see ya, it’s been fun. I haven’t talked to him since I got here.”

It was stupid, but the thought of Taehyung and this nameless, faceless guy had Yoongi feeling unsettled. Even though he knew he shouldn’t be. It was in the past. Besides, he had absolutely no claim over Taehyung whatsoever. Whatsoever. This wasn’t even a date...unless it was. But even so.

“So, you...until now?” Taehyung hesitantly asked, fingers wrapping around his mug and eyes nervous- like Yoongi might shut down from just being asked. “You don’t have to talk about it, though,” Taehyung hastily added.

Yoongi didn’t have any desire to go into detail. Not right then. But maybe talking about it would be good.

“Yeah, pretty much,” he confirmed, fingers drumming against the porcelain of his mug- steam rising off the dark liquid.

“You didn’t even know or-?”

“I didn’t want to know,” Yoongi corrected, seeing Taehyung’s brows slope and his lips turn down in concern, so he continued. “I thought the worst thing in the world would be acknowledging it. But not acknowledging it was the worst thing I could do. It was time.”

Taehyung was nodding, but he still looked worried.

“Are you...okay?” Taehyung wanted to know, chewing on his lower lip like that might have been the wrong question to ask.

But that felt like the right question as Yoongi took a moment to assess. Was he?

“I…” he finally began, watching the steam curl in the air in front of him. “It’s still scary. Terrifying. It's gonna take some time to get used to it, just in my own mind. Because I don't want it to be this foreign thing I don't identify with, you know? But...I’m okay.”

He was okay. He was.

It was like an exhale to realize that- to say it.

Taehyung was nodding again, lips curving up in a tentative smile, “I’m glad.”

Returning the smile, Yoongi ended up with his gaze on his coffee again and his cheeks feeling warm.

He was okay.

 

---

 

“Why the fuck are all these dares outside?” Yoongi complained, the words muffled from his mouth being buried in his scarf. It felt like winter even though it was technically still fall, and the rapidly setting sun was doing nothing to make it feel any warmer. Or maybe it was, and the minute it dipped below the horizon, Yoongi's fingers were going to start dropping off one by one.

But no one answered him, too used to his complaints.

“That tree?” Seokjin suggested, pointing a few feet in front of them at a large maple.

“Unless Jimin was imagining it as more of a stripper pole alternative,” Hoseok pondered, surveying all the trees in the quad- devoid of leaves but perfect for whatever Jimin had in mind, apparently.

“Hmm,” Jimin hummed thoughtfully, smiling as he also took in their options. “What do you think Taetae? Were you thinking more stripper pole or grinding up against something more substantial?”

Despite the fact that Taehyung was about to do a sexy dance against a tree in the middle of the quad in the middle of the day, he didn’t look nervous like he had when they’d dared him to rap in the cafeteria. Instead, he, too, was just casually pondering the trees.

“Maybe something medium?” he finally decided, moving toward a tree with a trunk he’d probably be able to wrap his arms around and have his forearms overlap on the other side.

“Alright, give me your coat when you're gonna do it,” Jimin said before turning to Namjoon. “Is the music ready?”

Namjoon held up his portable cassette player with a dimpled grin that Jimin returned.

“Ready?” he asked Taehyung, who nodded solemnly- like the dare he’d been tasked with was of utmost importance.

Unzipping his parka and shimmying it off his shoulders, Taehyung yelped at the cold- mouth hanging open before he gritted his teeth and whimpered. Yoongi pressed his nose a little more firmly into his scarf in sympathy, but with all the noise Taehyung was making, he was going to draw more attention from being cold than from actually dancing.

“Hurry up and start it,” Taehyung wailed at Namjoon, bouncing in place and rubbing his arms through his sweater.

Yoongi was hiding a fond smile in his scarf at Taehyung’s whining, but as soon as the music started, Taehyung’s entire demeanor changed.

When Jimin had suggested the dare, Yoongi had pictured a ridiculous performance like one that Namjoon or Seokjin would give if they’d been the victims of the dare. But even though Taehyung was playing it up and trying to be funny with way he was making eyes at the tree, it was nothing like what Yoongi had been expecting.

No one had warned him that Taehyung could actually dance. As someone who knew very little about dance, Yoongi supposed that maybe what he was seeing wasn’t enough to declare him as skillful, but he could certainly move like a dancer- much closer to the sinuous hip rolls he’d seen Jimin do than the awkward gyrations of Seokjin pretending to be sexy.

With his lower lip caught between his teeth and his eyes heavy lidded, Taehyung had his hands on the tree trunk like he was dancing with it at a club- hips moving fluidly from side to side in a way that had Yoongi very glad that he had already acknowledged the fact that he was attracted to Taehyung because trying to explain away the way his mouth went dry at the sight would have been quite a challenge.

Taehyung’s hips pressed against the front of the tree as he tipped his head back- the slope of his neck somehow seeming even more provocative than anything else. Hooking a leg against the side of the trunk, Taehyung rolled his body while Jimin and the other’s hooted from where they stood to watch.

A small crowd had gathered, just trying to figure out what the fuck was going on and why some guy was rubbing against a tree with music playing in the background, but Yoongi couldn’t focus on anything but Taehyung and the confident tilt of his brows as he turned and pressed his back to the tree, hips swinging again and making Yoongi grateful for his scarf that covered half his face because he had no idea what kind of expression he was wearing.

Even though the flex of his thighs through his jeans was...very nice,Yoongi was mostly just focused on the swipe of Taehyung’s tongue across his lower lip and the way his eyelids drooped seductively when he tilted his head back.

Yoongi was familiar with the way Taehyung laughed with his entire being when he found something funny, and the way his every emotion played across his face. He had watched him over think and put his foot in his mouth and worry that he’d said the wrong thing. But he’d never seen this self assured, oozing sex appeal version of Taehyung. Yoongi hadn’t been prepared for it, but he still liked the way it clicked into place with all the other sides of Taehyung that he’d gotten to see. Despite the way it had him reeling.

When the song finished, Taehyung’s sultry expression broke into a smile that turned into a laugh that turned into a grimace as he hugged himself and made a beeline for Jimin and his coat. The act of getting back into said coat was just as noisy as the act of getting out of it, and Yoongi chuckled underneath the wool covering his mouth, fondness shoving in next to the little zips of interest he couldn’t help but feel from watching that performance.

“If being a physicist doesn’t work out,” Seokjin was saying, patting Taehyung on the shoulder of his fluffy parka, “or you just want some extra cash, you could definitely make it as an exotic dancer.”

Taehyung giggled, face lighting up at the bizarre sort of praise, as he fished his gloves out of his pockets to wiggle his fingers back into.

“I teach him our dances sometimes,” Jimin explained, grinning proudly. “He’s really good.”

“I did theater in high school,” Taehyung reminded everyone. “I’ve taken a dance class before.”

“Was it a pole dancing class?” Hoseok asked, and Taehyung laughed, swatting at him.

During all the commotion and teasing and congratulations, Taehyung’s eyes caught Yoongi’s, and he couldn’t help but feel like Taehyung was waiting for him to weigh in on the performance.

The others had basically said it all, while simultaneously saying none of the things that Yoongi was actually thinking. So, he raised his eyebrows, hoping that Taehyung would get the message. Something along the lines of well, then, that was a nice surprise.

Taehyung’s eyes curved before he looked away, distracted when Seokjin was trying to copy one of the moves that he did, and Yoongi was confident that Taehyung knew what he’d meant.

In other news, Yoongi would never be able to look at a tree the same way again.

 

---

 

Jimin and Hoseok had dance practice after lunch that day, bidding them all goodbye and heading in the opposite direction.

Seokjin was imitating a bird for some reason as Taehyung nearly collapsed in laughter, and Namjoon shot Yoongi a look like why do we know these people?

But Seokjin and Namjoon split off to go into their dorm building, and then it was just Yoongi and Taehyung.

This exact scenario had played out countless times, but this time there was a knot of nerves in Yoongi's stomach because there was something he wanted to do.

“Did you know that people call pigeons rats with wings?” Taehyung asked Yoongi with a snicker. “And seagulls are sea rats.”

Yoongi had heard that before, but he liked how entertained Taehyung was by it.

“Imagine an actual rat with wings,” Taehyung was saying, hands moving animatedly as he talked. “Its weird tail just flapping in the wind as it soars over buildings!”

Yoongi snorted, chuckling more at Taehyung’s train of thought than the image itself, though that was undeniably unique in its own right.

“That would be fucking weird,” Yoongi agreed, grinning at the enthusiastic head nodding Taehyung was doing at his agreement.

But as much as he’d have liked to have heard more of Taehyung's theories about flying rodents, he had a plan. So before Taehyung could continue with that subject, he voiced the question he’d been holding onto all through lunch.

“I saw in the newspaper that they’re playing some indie film about a jewel heist at the theater in town tonight,” Yoongi told him, boots scuffing over dried leaves and filling the spaces between his words with the scrap and crunch of them against the sidewalk. “Wanna go?”

Yoongi knew that Taehyung liked him. He knew that. It was the furthest thing from a secret. Taehyung had even said so himself when he’d come to Yoongi’s room to apologize. Before Yoongi had kissed him. But that didn’t mean that a burst of adrenaline didn't shoot down to his fingertips when he asked. Because this was him being proactive and taking a step and showing Taehyung that he wanted spend time with him- just him.

He wasn’t flat out saying it was a date, but…

“Oh!” Taehyung’s brows jumped, mouth hanging open and eyes wide, and Yoongi was probably never going to get sick of his surprised face. “Yeah! That- that sounds good! Is anyone...else coming? I mean, not that-”

“No,” Yoongi cut him off before Taehyung could ramble about all the reasons that he was asking that weren't the actual reasons. “No one else is coming.”

“Oh,” Taehyung said again, a flush spreading across the bridge of his nose as he seemed to trying to keep himself from smiling too widely at that. “Okay.”

“Okay,” Yoongi repeated, maybe a little bit of a tease, but mostly just because he was also trying not to act like a fucking embarrassment at Taehyung’s eager acceptance.

Taehyung's second okay, their third overall, was entirely unnecessary, but that was fine.

It gave Yoongi the opportunity to quirk his lips at Taehyung in amusement while Taehyung huffed and got all flustered.

He wasn’t saying it was a date, but...he was pretty sure they both felt like it was. And that was what mattered.

 

---

 

“When are you gonna trust me with Baileys again?” Hoseok whined when Seokjin pointedly passed the bottle over to Namjoon without asking if he wanted any.

“Never,” Seokjin informed him with a smile. “You still owe me a new rug.”

Hoseok slumped over in defeat, nose scrunched as he seemed to recall that specific detail.

They were all gathered in Namjoon's room as was the case on most Saturday nights. It was refreshing to be able to just sit back with a beer and enjoy the rhythm of the banter of his friends. Yoongi didn’t have to worry that he was going to be dared to exploit Taehyung's crush on him. He didn’t have to be wary of his sexuality creeping up on him. He could just be.

Two nights prior, he and Taehyung had gotten on a bus going to town and grabbed a quick slice of pizza before sliding into the worn seats of the little theater on Main Street and watching a film about a botched jewel heist.

Maybe not the most romantic on paper, but the fact that it was just the two of them- by choice, not because no one else was available- felt like a big deal.

Turning to see Taehyung’s profile, lit by the screen in front of the in the dark theater, had been as enjoyable as the movie had been.

“But when they cut off the guy's ear!” Taehyung had exclaimed as they’d exited the theater, eyes comically wide and jaw sagging in horror.

It had been brutal, indeed, but that hadn’t stopped Yoongi from playfully elbowing Taehyung in the side through his thick coat, barely registering the frigid air against his face as he’d teased Taehyung that the movie had been too graphic for him. And the pout Taehyung had turned on him had had his chest filling with fondness that left no room for the the cold of the evening.

When Taehyung had stepped out of the elevator on the fourth floor after they’d gotten back, Yoongi had had visions of pulling him back to kiss him and leave no question as to whether or not it had been a date. But he hadn’t quite been able to gather the courage. Though the way Taehyung kind of paused with his hand blocking the elevator from closing as he thanked Yoongi for inviting him had Yoongi feeling like Taehyung was thinking the same thing. So even if it hadn’t happened, it felt like they were both working up to it. Or at least that they both wanted to be.

“Whose turn is it to get dared?” Namjoon asked, pouring a shot’s worth of Bailey's into a plastic cup.

“Not me!” Hoseok announced proudly. As though they could have forgotten the fact that he’d gone to his history class the day before in a long wig.

“Jimin hasn't done anything in awhile,” Seokjin observed, having attempted opera on the quad earlier in the week.

“Taehyung hasn't either!” Jimin reminded them, a little tipsy already from taking vodka shots.

“Traitor,” Taehyung complained through his laughter as Jimin slung an arm around his neck in a show of solidarity, perhaps.

“Okay, how about this,” Hoseok suggested, tossing back the vodka he’d gotten his hands on when he was denied Baileys. “One more making out dare, and then I'll retire as the resident pervert.”

Seokjin had already flopped down on the bed, cackling loudly at Hoseok's proposition.

“Will the position be available, then?” Jimin wanted to know, waggling his eyebrows.

“Yes!” Hoseok exclaimed, apparently wanting to rid himself of the title Namjoon had stuck to him despite the fact that he was going to play into it one more time. “Yes. You will be the new resident pervert.”

“Wow,” Namjoon said, like he was an unenthused sportscaster. “A turn of events.”

All of that was completely ridiculous, and would have been absolutely hilarious had Yoongi not had a good idea of where it was all going. Because while it wasn’t going to be anything that involved him, he could already feel the heaviness in the pit of his stomach.

“So,” Hoseok went on, rubbing his hands together, “as my final act as the pervert among us, and because both Jimin and Taehyung haven’t done any dares recently, I dare the two of them to makeout.”

That had been just what Yoongi had known was going to happen, but his stomach still dropped to hear it.

A month ago, hell, two weeks ago, he’d have been relieved not to have been a part of that dare. And it wasn’t as though he wished that they’d have dared him instead, because that was still terrifying and about twenty levels of complicated. But he hated that someone who was not him was going to be kissing Taehyung.

He and Taehyung had something. They’d basically been on a date two days before, for fuck’s sake! But neither of them had openly acknowledged it as such. They hadn’t talked about anything regarding the two of them, actually. They’d talked a bit about sexuality, sure. And Yoongi had kissed Taehyung once, but they weren’t official. They weren’t exclusive. He knew Taehyung had a crush on him, but he didn’t know what that meant. Not really. It could mean he wanted a relationship, but it could also mean that he was simply attracted to him and nothing else. Yoongi couldn’t demand that they not go through with the dare as though Taehyung was his boyfriend.

That thought had his stomach swooping like he was on a rollercoaster, but that was something to deal with at a later time. Because right now, Taehyung and Jimin were about to makeout, and Yoongi was powerless to stop it from happening.

Even if he did know where they stood. Even if he knew that Taehyung wanted to be with him and only him (oh fuck, since when had Yoongi decided that that was what he wanted?), no one else knew that they had a thing. No one (aside from Seokjin) even knew that Yoongi was gay. So even if Taehyung was his boyfriend (fuck fuck fuck he wanted that, he fucking wanted that), he’d have to unload everything he’d been keeping guarded all this time to explain why Taehyung couldn’t kiss Jimin.

No matter which way he looked at it, there was nothing he could do.

And even if Taehyung was somehow able to read his mind and know that Yoongi really fucking didn’t want him to go through with it, what could Taehyung say to stop it? Nothing valid unless he announced that he and Yoongi had kissed and had a thing.

Fuck.

There was no way around this. No fucking way around it, and Yoongi felt sick.

When he looked up from the spot on the floor he’d been glaring at, Taehyung was looking at him. There was something anxious in his eyes, like maybe he’d just run through everything in his head that Yoongi just had, and he’d realized that there was no way out of the dare.

Maybe that was just wishful thinking, because if Taehyung really had thought all of that, then maybe they were on the same page after all.

But Yoongi had no way of knowing whether or not that was true, so he looked away- grabbing for a plastic cup and motioning for Hoseok to pass him the bottle of vodka.

“You don’t even know what you asked for,” Jimin was saying as Yoongi unscrewed the cap and poured two shots worth into his cup. “You are gonna get a show, let me tell you. Taetae and I aren’t like that, but…” Jimin whistled. “It’s not like we’re gonna be afraid to go for it. Right, Taetae?”

Yoongi saw the elbow Jimin nudged against Taehyung’s side out of the corner of his eye.

“Y-yeah,” Taehyung agreed, not sounding so sure, though Yoongi stared at the clear liquid in his cup instead of looking at Taehyung’s face.

“You don’t hafta have stage fright,” Jimin comforted, his vowels loose with the alcohol he’d consumed. “It’s not like this’ll be the first time we’ve kissed.”

“Whoa, hold up!” Seokjin demanded as Yoongi felt his stomach sink even further. “I thought you said you guys didn’t have anything going on!”

“We don’t!”

That was Taehyung- his response immediate and tone desperate.

Yoongi took some comfort in that.

“Doesn’t mean we’ve never kissed, though,” Jimin said, waggling his finger at Seokjin.

“It was just one time,” Taehyung rushed to say. “At the beginning of the school year. We don’t- it was just once.”

Yoongi could feel Taehyung’s eyes on the side of his face, but he tipped his head back and winced at the vodka burning its way down his esophagus.

“It was for science,” Jimin happily announced, seeming satisfied with that by way of explanation.

“So, how long is this supposed to last?” Namjoon asked, getting to the point, finally.

If it had been a different situation, it probably would have been Yoongi to get them back on track, but Yoongi wanted no part in this.

“Five minutes?” Hoseok suggested, and Jimin exploded with giggles.

“That’s a long time to watch people make out for!” Jimin informed him through his laughter.

“How about one minute?” Namjoon proposed, and Yoongi was grateful for that at least.

“Sounds fine,” he grunted, tipping his cup back to try to get any drops he’d missed. But mostly so he could continue to avoid looking at Taehyung, because he didn’t trust his face not to spell everything out for the whole room to see.

“Does somebody have a watch on?” Hoseok wanted to know. “I took mine off this afternoon.”

Yoongi did, but he was sure as hell not gonna volunteer to be the one timing it. Though, that would give him an excuse to just stare at his watch instead of-

“I do,”Seokjin said, and whatever. That was fine.

“Ready?” Hoseok asked, and Yoongi eyed the vodka bottle where it was sitting a foot away from him on the floor.

“Wait!” Jimin squawked.

Even though Yoongi wasn’t looking, it was impossible not to notice that Jimin was currently straddling Taehyung’s thighs.

Yoongi felt like his stomach was full of...since when was vodka made out of lead?

“Ready!” Jimin chirped, and against his better judgment, Yoongi looked over when Seokjin called go!

Jimin was going for it, that was for sure- his hands holding on to Taehyung’s shoulders as his head tipped to the side as though he was trying to give Yoongi the best possible view of the way he was nipping at Taehyung’s lower lip.

Taehyung’s hands were just lightly resting on Jimin’s hips, but he opened his mouth for Jimin’s tongue, and Yoongi had to look away.

He wanted to be mad, but there was no one to be mad at. Except himself, maybe.

Yoongi was tossing back another shot when Seokjin called time, and Yoongi could at least take solace in the fact that Jimin was climbing off of Taehyung’s fucking lap. Finally.

Still. He made sure the vodka didn’t go far. He had a feeling he was going to need a few more shots to squash down the unease in his chest.

 

---

 

"Is'like...sheeeeeeee...sheeeela...sheela-something."

"Like the name? The name Sheila?" Namjoon asked, looking clueless as to what Yoongi was talking about. Which, objectively, made sense considering the three additional shots Yoongi had taken. But subjectively, Yoongi was annoyed that no one knew what he was saying.

"Nooooooooo," Yoongi waved his hand. "Not tha name. Sheeelaaaaa...isn'that what a female kangaroo's'called? Sheeeeeela..."

"What's it about?" Namjoon pressed, squinting at him like he was trying to solve a very difficult riddle.

"Mimi said issa feminis'song. But you don'hafta beya girl'ta listen to'it. You don'even hafta beya kangaroo! You can beya human or a kangaroo orrrrrrrrrrrr a dish rag."

"A dishrag?" Hoseok sputtered, leaning forward to stare at him. "Why would a dishrag be listening to feminist music?"

"Why not?!" Yoongi demanded before collapsing against the side of Namjoon's desk in a fit of laughter. A dishrag. He was so fucking funny. A fucking dishrag. Fuck. That was genius.

“Oh man,” Seokjin was saying, voice even louder than Yoongi’s chuckles in his own ears. “It’s getting late. I have homework to get done tomorrow. I should probably be heading out… Hey, Yoongi! Didn’t you say you had stuff to get done tomorrow, too? Wanna head out now?”

Yoongi squinted up at Seokjin as he stood over him, the ceiling light creating a kind of halo effect, which was pretty fucking hysterical, but even with the way his vision was swimming a tad, Yoongi could tell that Seokjin was giving him a look that had to mean we’re leaving now whether you want to or not.

If he’d been adamant about staying, maybe he would have tried to argue. But leaving sounded just fine. Laying down sounded spectacular. And then there was the fact that he’d been avoiding looking at both Taehyung and Jimin so his mind would stop replaying their kiss. It was only sort of working.

“M’kay,” he agreed, letting Seokjin haul him up by an arm as the floor shifted underneath him.

“See you guys later,” Seokjin said as he steered Yoongi toward the door. And shit he was drunker than he’d thought. There was just something about standing up that really drove the point home.

Yoongi grunted and flapped an arm in response to the goodbyes from everyone else. He did not specifically zero in on Taehyung’s tentative see you.

Once the door was closed behind them, Seokjin was tutting at him like Seokjin had never been three sheets to the wind before. Yoongi remembered specifically that one time when Seokjin had suggested they play a drinking game and then-

“Do you wanna talk about it?” Seokjin asked, pressing the down button for the elevator while keeping ahold of Yoongi’s elbow with his other hand. Not like Yoongi was going to just fall over. Standing still felt pretty okay. Walking would probably be fine. It was just good they weren’t attempting any stairs.

“Nothin’ to talk about,” Yoongi muttered, following Seokjin into the elevator and not even bothering to question it when Seokjin hit 1 instead of 3 to go to his own room. Yoongi knew that Seokjin was going to insist on walking him back. There was no point in arguing.

“No?” Seokjin replied, and Yoongi gritted his teeth because he could tell Seokjin knew he was full of shit, but he really didn’t want to talk about it.

“It’s nothing,” Yoongi insisted, not liking just how sharply that came out, but not wanting to backpedal either.

Seokjin hummed as they stepped out of the elevator, making their way around a group of probably also inebriated girls to get to the exit.

It was cold out,Yoongi knew, but he was drunk enough that it wasn’t really registering. Seokjin, on the other hand, was hissing at the temperature and rubbing his own arms- in only a sweater since he hadn’t needed to bring a coat to go up two floors.

“You don’ave to walk me there,” Yoongi tried, but Seokjin waved him off and started rambling about how awkward it would have to be to call Yoongi’s mother when he hit his head on the sidewalk and died because Seokjin hadn’t made sure he got home okay.

Forming words with a tongue that didn’t feel like cooperating was exhausting, so Yoongi didn’t bother to argue. Even though, clearly, Seokjin would not have been the one tasked with calling Yoongi’s mother in the case of his untimely demise.

“Drink water,” Seokjin instructed when they made it to Yoongi’s door- Seokjin still standing by as Yoongi dug his keys out of his pocket and leaned against the doorframe to get the key in the hole.

Almost, almost-

“And it’s okay if you don’t want to talk about whatever it is with me,” Seokjin added, casually like he hadn’t been gearing up for this the whole walk back. Yoongi knew better.

He grunted in response, finally getting his key in and successfully turning it to unlock his door.

“I’m not the one you need to talk to, anyway.”

Motherfuckingsonofa-

Then Seokjin was patting him amiably on the shoulder and reminding him to keep some painkillers by the bed- and a garbage can too, just in case- before he practically pranced away.

Okay, he probably wasn’t prancing. And there was probably only one of him, too.

Yoongi pushed into his room and squeezed his eyes shut, a wave of dizziness distracting him momentarily from that fact that Seokjin had completely seen through him and managed to get the last word in despite Yoongi’s attempts to avoid the topic completely.

But as he flopped down on his bed- shoes shoved off, but pants still on, and ceiling fan seeming to spin even though it wasn’t turned on- Yoongi knew that Seokjin was right. Because when he closed his eyes all he could see was Jimin’s lips pressed to Taehyung’s, and all he wanted was for Taehyung’s lips to be only for him

Fuck, he was motherfucking sunk.

And that was his last coherent thought before he let sleep swallow him whole.

 

---

 

For as much as Yoongi wanted to do something on Sunday to rectify the fact that he had no clue where he and Taehyung stood, he was a little busy making friends with his toilet and trying not to let his head explode despite not being able to keep down any painkillers.

Thank goodness Seokjin had stopped him when he had.

Nonetheless, Yoongi was certainly in no state to be having important conversations.

When Monday morning dawned, Yoongi knew that he didn’t want to wait any longer. He’d spent the entirety of the day before going over and over what he wanted to say, though he still hadn’t settled on any particular wording. He was not about to spend another day beating himself up over not being direct about what he wanted. If Taehyung didn’t want the same things, then he’d deal. But at least he would have given it a shot.

Yoongi knew that Taehyung had a class at nine on Monday mornings- had heard him complain about it countless Sunday evenings over dinner. So at eight thirty, Yoongi got up and dressed and made his way down to the first floor by eight forty five.

He’d thought about waiting outside Taehyung’s room, but that seemed like the kind of thing a crazy person would do. And he wasn’t about to just knock. Jimin would obviously know that something was up, then, and Yoongi still wasn’t ready to deal with the others knowing.

So, Yoongi waited by the elevators instead. And worst case, he could claim he was waiting for someone else. Mimi lived on the eighth floor. He could easily have been waiting for her, if anyone asked.

But none of that became necessary when, at eight forty nine, Taehyung stepped off the elevator- backpack on, coat zipped up, and red scarf covering half his face. He looked pretty sleepy still, and he didn’t even notice Yoongi as he made for the front door.

“Taehyung,” he called, voice scratchy from disuse, and watched Taehyung stutter to a halt just as his hand made contact with the door knob.

Head turning, he blinked as Yoongi made his way over to him- seeming like his sleep-addled brain was trying to process the situation. It was probably not every Monday morning he got accosted before he could even get outside.

“Can I walk with you to class?” Yoongi asked, and Taehyung nodded, slow and then fast, as he regarded Yoongi with wide eyes.

“Yeah,” he cleared his throat. “Yeah! Of course!”

Following Taehyung outside, Yoongi winced at the chill of the air against his cheeks. He reached up and tugged his beanie down further over his ears before stuffing his bare hands back in his pockets. A glance over at Taehyung revealed that he’d been watching him, but Taehyung was quick to look away when he’d been caught- cheeks pink from the cold or from embarrassment, Yoongi couldn’t say for sure.

Actually, he couldn’t say much of anything. Now that he had Taehyung all to himself, only a few students passing them now and again on their way to class or the cafeteria and definitely not paying them any mind, he didn’t know how to start.

Taehyung swallowed noisily beside him, their shoes scuffing along on the pavement and seeming to make even more sound with the obvious lack of conversation.

Just when Yoongi was taking a breath in an attempt to say something, Taehyung beat him to it.

“Ididn’twanttomakeoutwithhim,” he blurted, eyes darting to the side to see if Yoongi caught that.

He had. And he felt a weight release from his shoulders. Taehyung had been worrying about it, too. They were on the same page with that, at least.

“Cool,” Yoongi said, nodding and trying not to smile with the knowledge that Taehyung hadn’t wanted to go through with the dare. “I didn’t want you to, either.”

Taehyung’s brow jumped, eyes round as he regarded Yoongi. “Really?”

Yoongi nodded, allowing his lips to quirk in a smile as Taehyung’s face was taken over by a grin.

“So, I was thinking,” Yoongi went on, confidence bolstered by just how pleased Taehyung seemed to be that he hadn’t wanted him to kiss Jimin, “maybe you don’t kiss anyone else from now on.”

Yoongi wasn’t sure if he was trying to be smooth with the phrasing, given the circumstance, or if it was just a cowardly alternative to saying what he really meant. But with Taehyung actually pulling his scarf down to gape at him before nodding enthusiastically, he supposed it didn’t really matter.

“Does this…” Taehyung started, gaze bouncing back and forth between Yoongi’s face and the direction in which they were walking. “Do you mean- Are you asking me out?”

“Yeah,” Yoongi told him with a nod, matter of fact. But he could feel the smile tugging at his lips with the happiness pouring off Taehyung- an actual bounce in his step as they neared the building his class was in.

Taehyung let out a little disbelieving giggle as they slowed to a stop outside the entrance.

“I have to go in,” Taehyung told him, though that wasn’t news. “I can...stop by after my class this afternoon? At four? You don’t have any classes after that, right?”

Yoongi shook his head, admiring the way the morning sun shone against Taehyung’s hair and internally rolling his eyes at himself for something to do other than focusing on the way Taehyung kept biting at his lower lip. But Yoongi could feel the soft smile on his own face. He was so fucked.

“Is that...okay?” Taehyung asked, continuing to worry his lips with his teeth and fiddling with the flaps on his coat pockets with his gloved fingers.

“Yeah,” Yoongi told him, reaching out and fiddling with the end of Taehyung’s scarf since he couldn’t exactly just kiss him right there on the quad. “Yeah, I’ll look forward to it.”

“Okay,” Taehyung said, a little breathlessly- eyes still shining with happy incredulity and his lips stretched wide in a smile. “Okay. I’ll see you later. Around four?”

Yoongi nodded, feeling the way his lips and eyes were curving in response- stomach twisting and heart pounding so he could feel it in his throat.

After a handful of see you laters and okay I’m goings, Taehyung disappeared into the building with a little giddy smile thrown over his shoulder at the last second before the doors swung shut, and Yoongi wondered how he was supposed to get through his classes with the knowledge that Taehyung was coming by his room later.

They were actually dating, and Taehyung was stopping by Yoongi’s room later. Alone.

That was… This wasn’t just maybe or what if anymore. This was actually real. This was actually happening. Yoongi was dating a guy. He was dating Taehyung. It didn’t feel bad scary anymore, but it was still definitely a little terrifying. A lot terrifying. But in a mostly good way.

Taking a deep breath of the cold, morning air, Yoongi let it out and watched his breath curl in front of him. This was new and intimidating, but he could feel the smile tugging at the corners of his lips even as his heart hammered against his ribs with anticipation.

He just had to remember to keep breathing for the next...seven hours. He could do that.

It was with a fond chuckle that he realized Taehyung was probably going to have to remind himself to breathe for the next seven hours as well.

At least he wasn’t alone.

 

---

At four minutes after four, there was a knock at the door, sending a bolt of adrenaline down to Yoongi’s toes. This was it. This was when it became real.

Opening the door, Yoongi was greeted by Taehyung’s grinning face. He was breathing quickly, like he’d hurried to get there, and that had Yoongi smiling through his nerves as Taehyung stepped in and let his backpack drop onto the floor.

"Hey," Taehyung breathed, stepping into Yoongi’s space before Yoongi even registered what was happening and throwing an arm around him for a quick hug.

Yes, hugging was a thing. Yoongi got his arms to work before Taehyung pulled back with a sheepish giggle, looking around like he didn’t know what to do with himself.

Gesturing to his bed, that he’d specifically made, Yoongi waited until Taehyung had taken off his coat and was seated, perching and looking nervous like he had when he’d been dared to sit and wait for Yoongi in his underwear, before he sat too. That memory, though Taehyung hadn’t actually been in his underwear, had heat crawling up the back of Yoongi's neck. Now certainly wasn't the time to be parsing that thought.

"How were your classes?" Yoongi asked, trying to sit comfortably on his own damn bed. He kind of wanted to ask Taehyung if he’d managed to concentrate at all, since that had been a struggle for him and he was willing to bet he wasn’t the only one.

"Pretty good," Taehyung said with a shrug and a nod. "Got a bunch of problem sets in physics today, so that was... But it was okay. I understand the theorems, so."

Yoongi was, once again, glad he wasn’t taking physics or anything like it. The idea of trying to absorb that kind of information while he'd been distracted like he had that day was nearly laughable.

"How about you?" Taehyung asked, gaze so intense on Yoongi's face despite the casual nature of the question.

"Eh," Yoongi hedged. "Fine. Did a lot of listening today in comp, so that was good. Gearing up for our next big assignment. But we've got two weeks until it's due, so the pressure isn't on yet."

Taehyung was nodding like everything Yoongi was saying was absolutely fascinating.

“Can I hear something you composed sometime?” he asked, and Yoongi nodded- wondering what Taehyung would think of the piece he composed last time. But he felt a little weird going to grab the cassette tape and then sitting in silence as they listened to the musical manifestation of Yoongi’s coming out angst. Another time.

There was so much to say, in a lot of ways. But Yoongi didn’t know where to start.

"Today was... Did you really ask me out this morning?" Taehyung blurted out, seeming immediately embarrassed for asking and nearly collapsing as he giggled.

"Yes," Yoongi told him, honestly in just as much disbelief as it appeared Taehyung was. He let out a chuckle, watching Taehyung grin at him.

"I never thought..." Taehyung began, looking down at his hands that were resting on his denim covered thighs, "that this would happen. I mean...that you would ever like me. It's..." he broke off to chuckle again, eyes flickering up to meet Yoongi’s. "How long? Have you liked me, I mean. If..."

That was a good question actually.

"Hard to pinpoint when I was trying to pretend I didn't," Yoongi confessed, wincing a bit at how that sounded. "I mean, if it had been someone else I was being dared to...do all that stuff with, it would've been hard to keep lying to myself. But with you, it was impossible."

Taehyung's brows were slanted, mouth open, and-

"I swear to fuck, if you try to apologize again..." Yoongi threatened, and Taehyung huffed out a laugh, lips curving and mouth closing. "But yeah. It was like that whole bandaid ripping off thing. Anticipating it was worse than doing it. Kind of. You know."

Did he? Had that made any sense? Maybe he should have pulled out his coming out music, after all. But Taehyung was nodding emphatically, so maybe he at least kind of knew what Yoongi was getting at.

"But, uh," Yoongi went on before he lost his nerve and stopped talking, "I can’t say exactly when I started liking you. Definitely by after the concert. I mean, before that. But after the concert...there was hardly any use trying to deny it at that point."

Taehyung's facial features looked like they were fighting amongst themselves to make multiple different expressions, though that was hardly unusual.

"Me too," Taehyung said when his face had settled into a focused earnestness tinged with a little self consciousness. "Well. Obviously I liked you before. But that was when Jimin gave me a stern talking to about not getting my hopes up because I came home all lovesick.”

He looked back at his lap, flushing with that confession, and Yoongi couldn’t help the little thump his heart gave or the flip of his stomach, thinking of Taehyung being as thrown off kilter from their non-date as he had been. Though that did raise another concern…

“Jimin must still think you shouldn’t get your hopes up…” Yoongi ventured, feeling bad that all this time, since Yoongi had told Taehyung he was gay and kissed him, Taehyung had had to pretend that nothing had changed. But at the same time, Yoongi still didn’t feel ready to face the outside world with this new reality he was only now becoming comfortable with.

“Yeah,” Taehyung confirmed, looking back up. “But I’ve been trying not to make him worry.”

“Is it...sorry I’m making you keep this a secret,” Yoongi said, scrubbing at the back of his neck and looking at Taehyung’s backpack and coat sitting in a pile by his door. “It’s not forever and it’s not you or something. It’s just me.”

Huffing out a breath, Yoongi could feel his lips pulling down in a frown. It was super shitty of him to make Taehyung hide something like this from his friends. And the last thing he wanted was for Taehyung to feel like Yoongi was ashamed of him. It was just…

“I understand,” Taehyung assured him, though Yoongi didn’t feel like he deserved the patience Taehyung was giving him. “It’s like how I didn’t want to come out in high school because the thought of everyone I saw everyday suddenly knowing was so intimidating. That’s how it is for you now. Because everyone you know...almost everyone you know thinks you’re straight, so it’s scary to think of them finding out something else. It was so easy to come to college and tell Jimin or you guys that I’m gay compared to telling my best friend from home whom I’d known for ten years. It’s really hard. I get it.”

That was...Yoongi hadn’t thought of it like that, but Taehyung had been able to put words to the trepidations Yoongi had been feeling, better than he would have been able to himself. It was kind of a relief to know that his fears at least made sense. And it was an even bigger relief that Taehyung understood.

“Yeah,” Yoongi said on a little raspy laugh, a bit cowed to have Taehyung so accurately explain how he was feeling with so few hints from Yoongi. It was like he had drawn a dot during pictionary and Taehyung had come up with exactly what he was trying to depict. “Shit, yeah. That’s...but I’ll get there. I will.”

“You will,” Taehyung agreed, enthusiastically nodding at Yoongi like he could share his unwavering belief and confidence with how vigorously he nodded his head.

Yoongi found himself smiling without even meaning to, fondness bubbling up in his chest. And now that he wasn’t trying to pretend he wasn’t thinking it, Taehyung was really fucking cute.

Maybe the softness Yoongi was feeling was being shown on his face, because when they locked eyes, their gazes just stuck, and Taehyung seemed almost unnerved, almost flustered, to have Yoongi looking at him like that. But Taehyung only broke eye contact once with a brief glance at Yoongi’s lips- the flicker of his gaze so quick, but enough to have Yoongi’s heart picking up in anticipation. Then Taehyung was leaning in, eyes reflecting back the multitude of emotions that Yoongi was feeling in that moment.

Taehyung’s lips pressed to his, a hand braced on his knee as he scooted into Yoongi’s space, and this was so much better than their first kiss. Because, while that had been kind of earth shattering in its own way, this kiss was without the fear that Yoongi had had the first time in admitting his sexuality. Taehyung’s lips moved cautiously against his, but there wasn’t the shell shocked hesitance of the first time. This time, they knew where they stood. They both knew that this was more than just a silly crush or an experiment or a desperate gesture to illustrate the truth.

This was Taehyung’s fingers gently cupping the back of Yoongi’s neck. This was smiling into the kiss and warm breath against lips as they parted and came back together again. This was knees brushing and denim snagging and the muscles in Taehyung’s shoulder flexing under Yoongi’s gripping hand. It was racing hearts, quiet gasps, and the winter sun sinking fast enough that it was nearly dark before the kiss was even over.

This was a beginning Yoongi never thought he’d have. But he was ready now.

 

---

 

"Okay, but what about dry ice," Seokjin said, twirling his fettuccine around on his fork and dragging it across the cheese sauce on his plate.

"What about it?" Hoseok asked, already appearing alarmed, even without context.

"Dick freezing," Seokjin supplied through his mouthful of pasta as though it should have been obvious.

"How was I ever the token pervert when all you wanna talk about it freezing our dicks off?" Hoseok wondered at the same time Namjoon said, "The only thing that could make that plan worse is dry ice. Absolutely not."

"He's less of a pervert and more of sadist," Yoongi offered, distracting Seokjin from defending his dry ice ideas to Namjoon.

"Thank you," he said, striking a pose with his thumb and forefinger in an L-shape under his chin as he grinned. As though Yoongi had defended his honor or given him a compliment.

Yoongi snorted and Hoseok gaped, table rattling when Taehyung smacked his hand down on it as he cackled.

It was the first time they were all hanging out since Yoongi had asked Taehyung out, officially- the first time since Taehyung had come to his room and they’d kissed for...well, quite some time before Taehyung had to go do his homework. Yoongi had homework too, but he hadn’t been about to cite that as a reason for Taehyung to leave. It was good one of them had.

Everything felt different, but not bad different. Yoongi had caught Taehyung’s eye, intentionally and unintentionally, countless times since they’d all met up for dinner, each time sending a dizzying rush to his head and down to the tips of his fingers. It was crazy to look at Taehyung and know that they were dating- that Taehyung wanted to be with him and knew Yoongi wanted to be with him too. To know that they’d kissed and would kiss again. They had their own little secret world that no one knew about, but that was fine for now. Because they knew and Yoongi could see the same giddy excitement in Taehyung’s eyes when they looked at each other across the table that he could feel in his own chest.

"I want ice cream," Taehyung announced after he’d finished the last of the mashed potatoes on his plate, though he made no move to get up. Instead, he just leaned back in a stretch, arms over his head and feet knocking against Yoongi's under the table.

For a moment, Yoongi considered getting up to bring Taehyung his ice cream, imagining the delighted smile he’d get in response. But that would be entirely too conspicuous. Yoongi wasn’t exactly known amongst his friends for his willingness for physical activity. Sure, it was just getting up from the table and walking thirty feet, but to do that just to bring Taehyung ice cream, unprompted... It was too out of the ordinary.

Another time, Yoongi told himself as he watched Taehyung heave himself up and stretch again, the bottom edge of his sweater pulling up past the edge of his jeans and flashing a slice of skin.

"Do you want some?" Taehyung asked, and it took Yoongi a second to realize that Taehyung was looking at him and specifically asking him.

Yoongi started to shake his head, watching as Taehyung's brows jumped, apparently having realized that it was conspicuous to have only asked Yoongi.

"Anyone?" he prompted. "Ice cream?"

"Me!" Seokjin exclaimed, fork half in his mouth. "Swirl please!"

"You’re not even done eating," Jimin snickered as Taehyung made his way over to the soft serve machine.

Seokjin shrugged. "Will be soon."

The thing about being in denial about one's sexuality was that any sex Yoongi had allowed himself to think about wasn’t really any sex he was interested in. So while he'd privy to conversations amongst other guys about the things they wanted to do with certain girls, he’d never really related or joined in, feeling like an alien watching another species discuss something he didn’t understand. And that disconnect from all of it had had Yoongi feeling a bit like he was above all that, in a way. He’d have never been voted the token pervert amongst his friends.

But the thing about about accepting one's sexuality was that, with the walls he’d built up in his own mind to protect himself from the truth just piles of rubble, now there was nothing stopping Yoongi from thinking about sex in a context that he actually found desirable and. Well. He wasn't above anything. He was just as susceptible as anyone else to the turn his mind took as he watched someone he was attracted to eat a soft serve ice cream cone.

"Yoongi?" Hoseok said, and Yoongi blinked, looking over to where Hoseok was staring at him expectantly.

"Huh?"

Hoseok huffed, apparently affronted that Yoongi hadn’t been paying attention.

A sideways glance revealed Taehyung's lips closing around the tip of the ice cream, and Yoongi forced himself to meet Hoseok's eyes instead.

"I said it's your turn to be dared, right?"

That sounded right, and embarrassingly, his first thought was that they were gonna dare him to mime fellatio on a goddamn ice cream cone. But he was probably the only one thinking about that.

"Guess so," Yoongi said with a shrug.

Hoseok's eyes gleamed as he and Seokjin exchanged a look.

"How do you feel about visiting a professor during their office hours?"

Yoongi frowned. How was that even-?

"A professor you don't have," Hoseok clarified, grinning wickedly. "Who teaches a class you've never taken."

Ah.

Yoongi stretched in his chair, letting his lips curve with nonchalance.

"I feel alright about it," he said, unable to stop the way his eyes were drawn back to Taehyung as he licked his lips.

Yeah, he’d be ready to annihilate that dare. Just as soon as he got his mind out of the gutter.

 

---

 

“I don’t know what I want!” Taehyung wailed, flipping the pages in the menu forward and then back again. “I mean, I do. But I want too many things.”

It was Thursday night, and instead of seeing what the cafeteria had to offer, Yoongi and Taehyung had gotten into a cab and headed into town for dinner. The little Italian restaurant they were in wasn’t fancy or anything, but it was certainly a step up from the pizza place they’d been to before the concert and the movie.

The two of them had had a few outings, just the two of them, but they had all been before they were actually dating for real. So, Yoongi had had it in his head that they should go out on an actual date. But even though he’d been thinking it, Taehyung had beaten him to it- showing up at Yoongi’s door after his afternoon class the day before and nervously suggesting they go into town the following day for dinner.

It had taken a little finagling since the others didn’t know they were dating yet, so if they’d found out that Yoongi and Taehyung were going to get food, they’d have had a few hangers on who also would prefer Italian to cheeseburgers from the cafeteria. And that would not have been very date-like.

Yoongi had told Seokjin he had too much work to do on his composition to go to dinner since it was due the next day. It was due the next day, but Yoongi had finished it up earlier in the afternoon. Taehyung had apparently told Jimin that he had to meet up for a group project in the library that night, so he’d just grab an early dinner by himself. And when six o’clock had rolled around, they’d met up by the administration building just in time for the cab Yoongi had called to pull up.

Glancing around to make sure none of their friends were nearby as they climbed in the backseat was kind of comical, a little like they were secret agents or criminals or something equally ridiculous, but it also had guilt twisting in Yoongi’s gut to know that all of this sneaking around was because of him. He was working towards telling the others, though. He was. It wouldn’t always be like this. But in the meantime,Taehyung was being incredibly understanding, and Yoongi was very grateful for that.

“What do you usually get?” Taehyung asked, dark eyes finding Yoongi’s over the menu he was still flipping through.

“I haven’t been here a ton of times,” Yooni confessed, “but I’ve gotten the chicken parmesan and the gnocchi. The gnocchi is really good. They’re both good. But the gnocchi is fucking incredible.”

Taehyung was nodding, flipping the page of the menu back and presumably reading over the descriptions of the dishes Yoongi had just listed.

“They both sound good!” Taehyung exclaimed, looking up at Yoongi like he’d wounded him by giving two recommendations and not actually helping Taehyung decide what to order.

“We can order both and just...share,” Yoongi suggested. But was that too couple-y? They were a couple, but it was only their first real date. And it wasn’t as though everyone around them was going to know just based on them sharing entrees, but-

Taehyung was nodding enthusiastically, closing the menu with a snap and a exhalation that sounded like relief.

The fact that Taehyung had been so overwhelmed by what to order had Yoongi’s lips quirking, his heart giving a little thump to remind him that they were dating and on a date and that Taehyung’s restless fingers against the condensation of his water glass was probably the manifestation of his awareness of that, too.

After they’d ordered, ending up going with the two entrees to share, the final grain of awareness that this was a date seemed to settle, and Taehyung wiggled in his seat, snickering when he caught Yoongi’s eye.

Yoongi chuckled as Taehyung shifted again before finally settling, shooting a sheepish grin at Yoongi.

"We're on an actual date," Taehyung supplied in a stage whisper. "Still kinda can't believe it."

Yoongi felt his lips pulling up in a smile, able to fully relate to that feeling.

"But I'm trying to believe it!" Taehyung assured him, as though Yoongi might have been worried that he was just going to float around in disbelief forever. Though considering that's pretty much what he was doing at the moment too, he couldn’t blame him.

"Me too," Yoongi confessed, and Taehyung’s eyes creased with a smile.

"So, uh," Taehyung started, pushing his fork over two inches only to move it right back. "How are you, uh, doing? Like...you know. With everything."

"Better," Yoongi told him honestly.

He was glad that Taehyung understood that it was still a struggle- that just because he had come out to himself and was glad he had, it was still hard sometimes and that he still had hurdles to overcome. But at the same time, he worried that Taehyung was living in fear that Yoongi would just change his mind about everything since he’d fought so hard against this to begin with.

"Telling people is still intimidating as fuck," Yoongi admitted, "but I think it might be getting slightly less terrifying? At least you and Seokjin already know, and Jimin isn’t going to be horrified. So, then it's just Namjoon and Hoseok, and logically, I know they're not gonna be disgusted, or anything. Just surprised."

Taehyung was nodding, swallowing his mouthful of water before speaking.

"Do you think... how about your family? " Taehyung asked. "Or...you don't have to talk about that if you don't want."

Yoongi shrugged, flopping back in his chair. Telling his family would be stressful in a whole different way than telling his friends. It was something he wasn’t thinking too hard about because he didn’t have to deal with it yet. But talking about it was probably good. Yoongi was really trying to move away from the whole repression thing.

"I can talk about it," Yoongi told Taehyung, picking up his butter knife and twirling it between his fingers like he did with his pen during class. "I definitely haven't told them yet. I will, though. Don't know when, but..." Yoongi shrugged again.

"Will they..." Taehyung trailed off. "I mean, when I told my parents, I figured they wouldn’t be excited, but they'd be okay with it. Do you...?"

"My sister actually may be excited," Yoongi offered, startling a laugh out of Taehyung.

"Why?" Taehyung asked. "Not that she shouldn't be, but..."

"She’s a social rights fighter," Yoongi explained with a quirk of his lips. "She’s very open minded, and likes nothing more than calling people out for being less accepting. I’m sure she’ll own some gay pride paraphernalia within a week of me coming out to her. If she doesn’t already, that is.”

“Wow, that’s…really supportive,” Taehyung marvelled, eyes wide.

“She is a crusader,” Yoongi said with a chuckle. “But it really is nice to not have to worry about her reaction. Not once have I been concerned that she won’t be completely okay with it.”

Taehyung was nodding emphatically. “That’s really great. So your parents must be...at least kind of open minded since you and your sister both are…?”

“Yeah, they’re reasonably open minded,” Yoongi confirmed. “I mean, they definitely don’t have a problem with gay people in general. And I’m sure that they’ll end up being fine with it. It’s just...you know how Jimin was saying that his mom knew even before he told her? I just know that there is no way that that’s the case. I know my parents have no clue, so it’s gonna be a huge shock to them. Even if it’s not a bad shock...it’s also not gonna be a good shock. It’s just gonna be like a holy shit what, kind of thing.”

"Yeah, I don't think my parents were expecting it either," Taehyung commiserated. "Even though I thought it was obvious."

"Did you tell your mom that you're seeing someone?" Yoongi asked. It was something he’d thought of before. It would have been totally reasonable for Taehyung to have mentioned it to his mom since that wouldn't exactly out Yoongi to anyone in his life.

Taehyung shook his head, taking another gulp of water. "No, I haven’t told anyone."

"You can...if you want," Yoongi offered. There was something a little heady about the thought of someone, anyone, knowing. Yoongi kind of liked the idea, especially since it wasn’t linked with the fear of having to come out to anyone he knew.

"Oh!" Taehyung's brows jumped. "Okay. Maybe I'll tell her next time she calls. If Jimin isn’t around, anyway."

Thinking of Taehyung on the phone, excitedly telling his mom about them...it had warmth bubbling in Yoongi’s chest. Taking a drink of his water, Yoongi tried to keep his cheeks from heating with the swirl of giddiness working its way through him.

"She'll want to meet you," Taehyung told him sheepishly. "When I tell her. She's gonna want to know all about you and want a picture and start planning when she can meet you."

That was a little intimidating, but it also just served to remind that this was really happening and that relationship things like meeting parents would happen. It wasn’t an unwelcome reminder.

"Despite what you might think," Yoongi began, playful smirk pulling at his lips, "parents usually love me."

It was relief that flashed across Taehyung's face before the amused grin- apparently glad that the thought of meeting Taehyung’s mother hadn’t put Yoongi off.

"I know I'm," Yoongi gestured at himself, hoping to demonstrate his sarcasm and grumpiness, "but I can be pleasant. And I censor myself and everything."

Taehyung laughed, nose crinkling adorably.

Yoongi hated to admit how weak he was to cute, but…

“The amount of curses you manage to string together though…” Taehyung giggled. “It’s pretty impressive.”

“Would your mother be impressed?”

“Well, no,” Taehyung admitted. “Censoring is probably the way to go.”

Their food was brought out, and Yoongi watched as Taehyung’s eyes widened, taking in their food. He was reminded of a cartoon with hams or something reflected in their pupils, and he chuckled.

"So good!" Taehyung exclaimed, taking a bite of the chicken parmesan and chewing vigorously.

Yoongi grinned at Taehyung’s enjoyment, spearing a piece of gnocchi with his fork.

"Oh my god," Taehyung moaned after he’d sampled the gnocchi as well, cheek bulging a little as he tried to talk with food still in his mouth.

"Told you it was good," Yoongi said, helping himself to another bite. "Maybe I'll just eat all of it since it's my favorite."

The squawk Taehyung let out as Yoongi jokingly started pulling the dish closer to himself had both of them looking around to see how much attention that had garnered. Yoongi snickered at Taehyung's sheepish face, pushing the gnocchi back so it sat between them again.

Watching Taehyung exclaim over the food was almost better than eating it.

Okay, it was. It was better. But only barely.

 

---

 

The cold had Yoongi burying his face in his scarf, hands shoved deep in his pockets. But neither of them wanted to go back to campus just yet. Neither of them were ready for the date to end.

So they'd opted for an after dinner stroll, sun disappearing hours before and leaving nothing but the bitter chill of winter on its way.

The tips of Yoongi's ears were starting to sting with the cold, but the way Taehyung was nearly bouncing along beside him, enthusiastically describing the debacles that had happened in his physics lab that day, had it all feeling worth it.

The sight of a girl with her jacket open to reveal a sweatshirt with their university's insignia on it had both of them watching her walk by.

"Wouldn’t it be my luck that the guys all decided to come into town for dinner tonight," Yoongi weakly joked.

"I could just hide," Taehyung offered, pulling Yoongi’s mood out of guilt and worry land with his playful grin.

Taehyung crouched, hands on Yoongi’s shoulders for balance.

"No, this won't work," he decided, standing back up. "You’re too small."

"Fucking..." Yoongi complained, swatting in Taehyung’s direction and watching as Taehyung danced away with a mischievous giggle. Not that he could actually be mad at that.

"Or I could be a tree," Taehyung suggested, stepping to the side of the sidewalk and holding his arms up in an imitation of branches.

Yoongi snorted. "No one could tell the difference," he deadpanned.

Taehyung laughed happily, "branches" dropping as he fell back into step with Yoongi.

The light from the street lamp traced over the slope of Taehyung's nose, catching on his eyelashes, and shining off his freshly licked lips.

Yoongi wished he could stop and get a hand around the back of Taehyung’s neck, pulling his own scarf down and pressing a kiss to those lips...

But not there. Not on the street with people passing by them and cars idling at a stop sign.

Later though...

They’d already decided that they had to go back to their respective rooms after their date- too much homework to get done to justify doing anything but.

Still, Yoongi didn’t intend to let Taehyung go on his way without a kiss. Or two.

That thought was the only thing that had him almost looking forward to heading back to campus.

That, and the cold stinging the tips of his ears.

But mostly the promise of a kiss.

 

---

 

There had been no reason to become a tree, in the end. After walking around for a bit longer, until Yoongi's toes had started going numb in his boots, they’d called for a cab on the payphone in front of the movie theater and had gotten a ride back to campus.

Idling in their building as they waited for the elevator, Yoongi could feel his pulse spike. Their date was over, but not quite. He was just praying to some deity who might have some interest in his love life that no one else came in and needed to get on the elevator.

Taehyung was fidgeting next to him, taking his gloves off and shoving them in his pockets. Yoongi felt it was safe to assume they were both thinking the same thing.

The elevator chugged on its way down to them, and Yoongi felt Taehyung lean into his side, their winter coats brushing.

"I wanna kiss you," he murmured in Yoongi's ear, hot breath having the hair on the back of Yoongi's neck standing up. "If there's no one in the elevator. I wanna kiss you."

Yoongi nodded, not quite trusting his voice to be anything but a gravelly mess with the way anticipation was rolling over his skin.

Their eyes caught and Taehyung’s dark eyes stuck on his, betraying his own want and drinking in everything Yoongi was sure was pouring from his own gaze.

There had been a handful of kisses since Yoongi had actually asked Taehyung out, most of them in Yoongi’s room since he didn’t have a roommate. But they hadn't gotten beyond sitting up making out. Because Yoongi knew if they got horizontal, he wasn't likely to pull back in time for Taehyung to go back to his room to get his homework done.

There was also the feeling of not wanting to fuck anything up. This was the first relationship Yoongi had had where he was actually fully invested. And even more, they were friends. There was more on the line.

Though Yoongi was having a harder and harder time talking himself out of anything beyond making out. He thought that maybe that's because there was no reason to, anymore. But that was something to investigate another day. An elevator ride to the fourth floor was not that long.

Finally arriving on the ground floor, the elevator doors opened, and they stepped on, Yoongi unzipping his coat as he walked.

No one else was behind them.

Taehyung jabbed the six, and Yoongi shot him a confused look. Hadn’t they agreed they didn’t have the time to go back to Yoongi's room?

"I'll ride it back down," Taehyung hastily explained, cheeks flushed. "After. I'll go back down. I just- it'll take a little longer to get to the sixth floor."

Ah. That made sense. And Yoongi had no qualms about that logic.

The doors closed behind them, so achingly slowly. But as soon as it became clear that no one was going to burst into the elevator and ruin their moment alone, Yoongi was moving- hands grasping both of Taehyung's and twining their fingers together as he walked Taehyung backwards and pressed their joint hands against the metal wall next to Taehyung’s head.

Their lips met before Taehyung's back even hit the handrail, and the soft sound Taehyung made into Yoongi’s mouth had a shiver of arousal shoot straight down his spine.

There was no time to ease into it, time ticking down with every inch the elevator ascended.

The kiss was deep- wanting and a little desperate. Taehyung's mouth was warm and giving, letting Yoongi kiss him how he wanted. But he was meeting him, pressing back and returning the fervor as their lips slid and tongues curled together.

It was so heady, want slithering down Yoongi's spine and having him gripping Taehyung's hands even tighter. He wanted to just sink into him, keep kissing him, feel him-

They both startled at the ding as they arrived at the sixth floor.

Yoongi stepped back from where he'd been caging Taehyung against the wall. But still, his head was swimming from the kiss and he just stared at the hall before he had to lunge for the open door button as the doors started to close.

Taehyung's gaze was hazy when Yoongi looked to him, mentally reminding himself that he had homework to do and so did Taehyung.

"Tonight was fun," Taehyung said, eyes darting between Yoongi’s eyes and lips.

Jabbing the button to keep the doors open again, Yoongi chuckled. Fun. He really just wanted to let the doors close again and press Taehyung into the corner so-

Taehyung snickered, apparently also considering the understatement of that descriptor for the last twenty seconds.

"Homework," Yoongi said, reminding them both. But his voice was rough.

Taehyung nodded, gaze forcefully leaving Yoongi's mouth.

"See you tomorrow at lunch?" Taehyung asked, eyes shining hopefully, and Yoongi smiled through his want.

"Yeah," he agreed, knuckles brushing against the back of Taehyung’s hand as his lips quirked, and he finally stepped off the elevator before the doors could close.

Only one more day until the weekend. Maybe...

But fun. Yes, the date had been fun. It was with a smile Yoongi was glad no one was around to see that he acknowledged that they could have plenty more nights just like that one.

 

---

 

“So?” Mimi demanded as they exited their composition class on Friday morning, elbowing Yoongi in the side through his parka before she shrugged hers on as well.

They might have just gotten a considerable amount of homework, but Yoongi’s mood was too good to be brought down. He had only one more class before the weekend, and he’d gotten really positive feedback on his most recent composition.

Even Mimi tugging on his sleeve as he tried to walk wasn’t getting to him. Though he grumbled just the same. Not that that was going to get her to stop.

So?” Mimi said again, flicking the pom pom on the top of Yoongi’s knit hat.

“What?” Yoongi complained, swatting her hand away.

“Who was it about?” Mimi half whined, shoving through the door of the building ahead of Yoongi and turning around to stare at him imploringly.

“What was what about?” Yoongi asked, stuffing his hands back in his pockets as he was greeted with the cold once again.

Mimi blinked at him like he was stupid. “Your piece.”

Oh. How could she even know-?

Yoongi hadn’t set out to write something for Taehyung. Or about him, rather. But he couldn’t help that that’s what had been inspiring to him lately. He hated to be such a sap, but...well. Apparently he was.

But their pieces didn’t even have lyrics. How could Mimi have known he wrote it for someone when it was just instrumental?

“What makes you think it was for someone?” he challenged, hoping that he sounded casual and not defensive.

Mimi sighed at him and shot him another look. “The last piece you wrote was really dark, and everything you’d written before that was pretty dark too. And now suddenly you write this beautiful, uplifting thing? Of course it’s for someone.”

Yoongi didn’t know if that was necessarily true, but she was right.

Still. He wasn’t sure if he should admit that.

Yoongi,” she complained, tugging on his sleeve at his elbow again. “How could you not tell me you have a girlfriend? Aren’t we friends? You should tell me things like that.”

Yoongi snorted at her whining even as he felt his stomach twist with nerves. Should he…?

“We’re acquaintances,” he teased, earning himself a punch in the arm that he barely felt through his coat. “And...I don’t have a girlfriend. I wrote it...for my boyfriend.”

That was the first time he’d used that word to describe Taehyung. Was that what they were? Well, yeah. But was that would Taehyung would want to be called? They hadn’t ever discussed terminology, and Yoongi was new to this whole dating boys thing. Though he doubted Taehyung would take issue with the title. Or almost any title that indicated that they were together.

Semantics aside, Yoongi could feel his heart beating in his chest at the fact that he’d just said that out loud. No one knew that he and Taehyung were dating outside of the two of them. And now...he’d told someone. Kind of. It was a little freeing and a lot scary, and Yoongi wasn’t sure if he even wanted to look at Mimi to see her reaction.

Even so, when two whole seconds passed and she hadn’t said anything, Yoongi couldn’t help himself from glancing at her. He caught the tail end of the surprise on her face before she was smacking him on the shoulder with a gloved hand again.

“Tell me these things!” she griped. “But have you played it for him yet? Did he freak out? In a good way, I mean.”

Apparently, when he’d thought Mimi would be relaxed about the whole thing shortly after he’d come out and considered telling her, he’d been right.

Yoongi let out a relieved laugh at her continual complaints and subsequent rapid fire questions.

“No, I haven’t played it for him,” Yoongi told her. He knew Taehyung had shown interest in his compositions, but he was still self conscious about actually playing anything for him. Especially this piece in particular.

“You have to!” Mimi insisted, shouldering her way into the dorms they both lived in. “You have to play it for him. He’ll die, seriously...in a good way, again.”

“Yeah, I…” Yoongi trailed off, nerves rising at the thought, but knowing Mimi was right. “I will. Also...the whole thing is kinda new and on the downlow, so if you could not mention it to anyone just yet…”

He winced at his own request. Yoongi hated being so paranoid and secretive. But he wasn’t ready for his love life and sexuality to be common knowledge. It had barely been any time since it had become knowledge that he was privy to. And he definitely needed to tell his friends before anyone else found out. But still. He felt like shit having to tell Mimi to keep it a secret.

“No worries, dude,” she said, miming turning a key in front of her lips and tossing it over her shoulder. “But you have to tell me if he flips out when he hears it. If he doesn’t, there’s something wrong with him and you need to dump him.”

Yoongi snorted out a laugh, stepping onto the elevator with Mimi in tow, and doing his best not to think about the kiss he and Taehyung had shared in it the night before on the way back from their date.

“I promise I will let you know,” he said, and Mimi grinned.

Somebody knew. Somebody knew and they weren’t freaked out or anything.

That hadn’t been so bad.

It was a small step, but it was something he’d be able to cling to when the worries of telling his friends and family popped up. It could be done. He could do it. He had and he would.

Just one step at a time.

 

---

 

"You don’t have to," Taehyung assured him, squirming a little where he was sitting on the foot of Yoongi's bed.

It was Saturday afternoon, and it had been fairly easy to arrange for time alone. Namjoon and Seokjin were both in their respective rooms, slammed with homework, and Jimin and Hoseok were making noise about choreographing something together. No one cared what Yoongi and Taehyung were doing, so Yoongi had opened his door to Taehyung after lunch, closing it behind him and accepting the greeting kiss Taehyung had eagerly pressed to his lips.

And as Mimi had instructed (but not only because she’d told him to), he’d offered to play his most recent piece for Taehyung. Unsurprisingly, Taehyung's response had been enthusiastic, eyes widening and affirmations that he was, indeed, interested spilling from his lips.

So there they were, Yoongi unplugging his headphones from his keyboard, and Taehyung watching him from Yoongi's bed.

He had his piece recorded on a cassette, too, but unlike his previous piece, this one was more melody driven and had fewer parts layered underneath the main piano line. Doing it live would probably have more impact, too.

"Okay," Yoongi said, placing his hands on the keyboard. "Ready?"

Taehyung nodded eagerly, and Yoongi took a breath.

"It’s, uh," he paused, feeling the flush creeping up his neck and keeping him from looking up to meet Taehyung's eyes. "I wrote it for you."

Without waiting for Taehyung's reaction to that, Yoongi started playing- the melody so familiar after tweaking it and changing it and perfecting it for hours.

Yoongi was proud of it, pleased as he played through the transition that he’d struggled with for over a week and finally gotten right on Monday. But as he neared the end, his nerves amped up, wondering what Taehyung was thinking.

Playing the final chord, Yoongi took a steadying breath before finally looking over at Taehyung whose mouth was hanging open as he regarded Yoongi like he had never seen him before. Yoongi hoped that was a good thing.

But the longer Taehyung stared at him, the more uneasy he got.

"So, that was that," he said, standing up from his little stool and taking a tentative step back toward Taehyung.

"You really wrote that for me?" Taehyung asked, bouncing up from his spot on the bed.

"Yeah," Yoongi confirmed, hand closing over the back of his own neck and feeling the heat of it against his palm.

"Wow," Taehyung breathed. "That was amazing. Even if it wasn't for me, it was...beautiful. And I can’t believe you thought of me and-"

"Stop," Yoongi complained with a self conscious chuckle as he reached out to shove Taehyung's shoulder.

Yoongi was well past his capacity for receiving compliments. It was one thing to get good feedback in class from his professor mixed in with constructive criticism. But to have pure praise coming from someone he knew well, whom he cared about...it was too much and Yoongi thought his face was about to sizzle off.

They’d both shuffled forward as Taehyung spoke, and now they were close- the proximity making Yoongi's nerves prickle.

Taehyung looked like he wanted to keep stroking Yoongi's ego, but his eyes kept getting stuck on Yoongi’s lips. And that was a sure fire way to make the compliments stop. Not to mention...

Before Taehyung could say anything else, Yoongi reached up and got a hand around the back of Taehyung’s neck, pulling him down and kissing whatever Taehyung had been about to say off his lips.

Moving forward so his foot knocked into Yoongi’s, Taehyung grabbed onto Yoongi's hips and pulled them flush- fingers tapping out almost a nervous rhythm until Yoongi got the crook of his elbow around Taehyung's neck to pull him in even further. His t-shirt hem lifted with the movement and one of Taehyung's hands slid underneath to grip his bare hip, making Yoongi shudder.

They didn't have to pull away, this time. They weren't on a schedule. There was no one around. There was nothing to put a stop to this kiss- nothing to keep them from moving beyond that.

In the past, they had been in a similar spot- alone in Yoongi’s room with nothing but the hum and pop of the heater to interrupt them. But Yoongi had been trepidatious then, not feeling ready for anything beyond the meeting of tongues and kneading of Taehyung's hands on his waist.

But now... Now Yoongi just wanted, Taehyung's little gasp into his mouth when he gently bit his lower lip having arousal rolling over his skin and making him dizzy.

He didn’t know if Taehyung stepped back first or if he stepped forward, but Taehyung was holding tight to his waist to keep his balance when the backs if his legs hit the edge of the bed.

Taehyung was blinking at him questioningly when Yoongi pulled back to get a breath.

He was still a little nervous to take the next step since he’d never done any of this with a guy before. But he and Taehyung had all the same parts, so logically, he couldn’t be too out of his depth. Moreover, it was hard to care about anything but getting the heat of Taehyung's mouth back on his own.

With Yoongi nudging him backward, Taehyung let himself get pushed onto the bed so he was seated on the end like he’d been when Yoongi had been playing for him. But this time, instead of sitting on his little stool in front of his keyboard, he was climbing onto the bed after Taehyung to straddle his thighs and keep their mouths sealed tight.

Fingers digging hard into Yoongi’s hips, Taehyung let out a groan as Yoongi got settled in his lap.

And yeah, this was good. Yoongi could get a better angle like this, holding onto the hair at Taehyung's nape as he kissed him again, deep and messy, but so fucking good, and as much as he liked that he could feel Taehyung's interest when he pressed his hips forward, he wanted more.

"Keep going," Yoongi said brokenly after pulling away with a wet smack from Taehyung’s mouth.

Taehyung was staring at him like he'd spoken a foreign language- eyes so dark and glassy, and lips puffy and slick.

"What?" Taehyung asked, and christ, his voice was deep.

Yoongi shivered, forcing himself not to lean in again just yet.

"Keep moving up the bed," he explained, his own voice rough and gravelly with want. "Scoot up."

Obligingly, Taehyung slid up the bed, Yoongi crawling over him and dropping down to kiss him as soon as Taehyung’s head made contact with the pillow. Hands braced against the mattress above Taehyung's shoulders, Yoongi sucked Taehyung's lower lip into his mouth and gasped when Taehyung gripped his waist and rocked his hips up.

Oh fuck. Taehyung was definitely hard. He’d felt it when he was in his lap, but like this, with Yoongi straddling him and Taehyung moving his hips up-

"Jesusfuck," Yoongi hissed when Taehyung did it again. He was hard, too, and he couldn't help how he angled his hips to meet Taehyung's- needing that friction, loving the way it had Taehyung groaning into his mouth.

God, he’d thought about this. He’d gotten off to the fantasy of Taehyung’s moans so many times in the past few weeks. The thought of Taehyung’s hands on him, bodies pressed together, tongues twisting and stroking-

Taehyung’s hand high on his thigh had Yoongi's hips flexing even as he pulled himself from the mindless state of want he'd been in.

Lips hovering above Taehyung’s, sharing breath, Yoongi shivered as Taehyung's hand moved higher before his thumb was pressed to Yoongi's erection over his pants.

"Fuck," he choked out, shudders rolling through him as Taehyung's palm pressed against him, gently kneading.

When Yoongi sat back a little, pushing into Taehyung’s hands, Taehyung's face was some mix of smug at having Yoongi twitching against his palm, and blissed out and overwhelmed at being in this situation at all.

Brows pinching as the heel of Taehyung's hand pressed against him, Yoongi sucked in a sharp breath.

"Haven't done this before," Yoongi forced out, knowing that Taehyung was aware, but feeling like he needed to say it anyway. "With a guy. Haven't-"

Taehyung nodded, tongue swiping over his lower lip and easing up on the pressure of his hand. But that wasn’t what Yoongi wanted. That wasn’t the result Yoongi had been hoping for.

"Is this okay?" Taehyung asked, brows sloping, but Yoongi was already pressing Taehyung's hand back against him.

"Yeah," he huffed out, cheeks burning at the flicker of amusement that crossed Taehyung's face at his impatience. "Just. Have you?"

It didn't matter. Not really. But Yoongi still felt like he wanted to know. Even though he didn’t, too, because he didn’t like the thought of Taehyung like this with anyone else. It was stupid to be jealous but-

Taehyung was nodding again, looking nervous like he was worried that wasn’t the answer Yoongi wanted. But he'd figured.

"Not...everything," Taehyung clarified. "Not...sex. But handjobs and blowjobs, uh..."

That had been what Yoongi would have guessed. He didn’t want to imagine it or anything- Taehyung with some other guy making him moan... But it was fine. He just wanted to be the one making him feel good now.

"Okay," he said, shifting and getting his mouth on Taehyung's again, rocking his hips down into Taehyung’s hand.

But for as fucking amazing as it felt, he didn’t want to be the only one. Getting a hand between them, Yoongi pressed his palm against the bulge in Taehyung’s jeans, not knowing which he liked more- feeling just how turned on Taehyung was against his hand or the choked moan he let out into Yoongi’s mouth. Or maybe the full body shiver was his favorite part. Regardless, he didn’t hesitate to knead against Taehyung's erection, doing what he liked to do to himself when he was rubbing himself through his pants before he really started to touch himself.

"Oh fuck," Taehyung groaned, hips rising to meet Yoongi's hand.

Taehyung’s eyes were so dark with pleasure, lips swollen and parted on a gasp. Yoongi dipped down and kissed him deep- not able to get enough. Their tongues slid together, muffling their sounds of pleasure between them.

Yoongi wanted to get his hand against Taehyung without any fabric in the way. He wanted to feel the heat of him in his grip, wanted to make him come.

He was about to pull back enough to ask if it was okay to pop the button on Taehyung's jeans, but he never got to.

Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. But not like he could have used that extra time to do something to prevent it. He was in slow motion, too. He was frozen.

The sound of a bang on the door came at the same time as someone calling his name from the hall.

Before Yoongi could even react beyond shock, he heard the sound of the doorknob rattling. And then, because apparently he’d been too eager to get his lips on Taehyung’s that he’d failed to lock the door, the door flew open and the muffled voice of Hoseok was suddenly not so muffled anymore.

"Yoongi, do you have a tape of that song from last semes-"

He abruptly stopped.

At some point, Yoongi had turned his head toward the door, the rest of him frozen, so he had to see Hoseok's face change to complete and utter shock when he saw them- Yoongi on top of Taehyung, hand still between them, both of their lips probably flushed and swollen from kissing.

"Holy fuck," Hoseok gaped, loud voice ringing jarringly in the small room. "Oh my god. Fuck. Sorry. I didn’t-"

Yoongi wanted to say something. It isn't what it looks like? No, because it was exactly what it looked like. And he didn't actually want to deny it. He didn’t want to deny Taehyung. He just...fuck. He didn’t want it to happen like this.

He felt like there had been ice water poured down the back of his neck, and the cold had spread to all his limbs. He still couldn’t fucking move, and Hoseok was just standing there- staring at them in shock and appearing just as frozen.

It felt like the longest moment of Yoongi’s life, Hoseok’s sudden movement after all that making him startle.

"Sorry!" Hoseok exclaimed once again before pivoting and speeding out of the room- door slamming behind him and making Yoongi wince.

Even with Hoseok gone, it took Yoongi a moment to gather himself enough to even turn his head away from the closed door.

Taehyung was staring at him with wide eyes when he turned back to look at him.

Slowly, Yoongi climbed off of Taehyung, standing up from the bed for lack of anything else to do. He certainly wasn't hard after all of that.

Taehyung sat up, scooting to the edge of the bed and looking up at Yoongi in concern as Yoongi paced.

"Fuck," Yoongi offered, because what else was there to say?

Abruptly, Yoongi changed direction and shuffled to the door, turning the lock. Probably didn't matter at that point but...

"Shit," Yoongi said, facing Taehyung again and agitatedly running his fingers through his hair. He felt helpless. What was he even supposed to do? He felt itchy in his own skin, pacing to his desk and then back again. "Did you see his face?"

Taehyung nodded jerkily, lips pulled down.

"Fuck, what if he's horrified?" Yoongi asked, feeling sick at just the thought.

But Taehyung was shaking his head. "No, he wouldn't be. He's literally hanging out with Jimin right now. He's not disgusted by...people being gay. He's not. He wouldn’t be-"

Yoongi watched as Taehyung's frown deepened.

"He’s gonna tell Jimin, isn't he?" Taehyung asked, and Yoongi felt guilt slam into him.

He knew that Taehyung wasn’t worried about Jimin’s reaction, but of course he’d have wanted to tell him himself. And now that had been taken away. Yoongi wished he hadn’t been so adamant about no one knowing. He could've just let Taehyung tell Jimin. It wasn’t like Jimin would have had a bad reaction. He’d probably have had a good reaction. But now Taehyung wasn’t gonna get to see it.

"Fuck, I'm sorry," Yoongi exhaled, dropping down next to Taehyung on the bed- deflated.

Taehyung blinked at him. "Why are you sorry?"

"Because now you aren't gonna be the one to tell him," Yoongi said with a defeated shrug.

"That's not your fault," Taehyung told him, but of course it was.

"It kinda is," Yoongi puffed out on a humorless laugh.

Taehyung shook his head, scooting closer so his knee bumped Yoongi's.

"Are you...okay?" he asked.

Shrugging one shoulder, Yoongi leaned back on his hands with a sigh, letting his legs relax so his thigh was flush with Taehyung's. He wasn’t the best with initiating physical contact, but the warmth was a comfort.

"No one is gonna be horrified," Taehyung told him steadily, turning to make eye contact- gaze imploring like he was begging Yoongi to believe him. "Really. They all...Jimin and I...Namjoon and Seokjin and Hoseok never have treated us differently at all. They're not gonna treat you differently either."

Logically, that made sense. Yoongi knew that none of them were homophobes. But it was different when they’d known him and not known he was gay until now. It was different.

But they were gonna have to find out at some point. This might not have been ideal or anything close to it, but at least the thought of everyone finding out wasn’t going to be hanging over his head for much longer. There was something to be said for just getting it over with.

"You’re right," Yoongi said. Because he was. They weren't going to be disgusted. They weren't.

Taehyung smiled, hesitating a little, but leaning forward and pressing a light kiss to Yoongi's lips.

After all of that, Yoongi wasn’t really in the mood for getting back to what they'd been up to before they’d been interrupted, but didn’t seem like Taehyung was either.

That was okay, though. It wasn’t like he was gonna tell Taehyung to leave. It was still nice to just hang out.

Yoongi played a couple pieces he’d written last semester, and let Taehyung fiddle with the keyboard, too.

When Taehyung headed out a couple of hours later, Yoongi pulled him in for a kiss- inhaling and letting himself sink into it.

Taehyung blinked when they separated, dazed and flushed and so tempting to just keep kissing. But Taehyung had to meet up with some people for a group project in one of his classes, and Yoongi had music theory homework he should really get started on.

The next day, he would have to deal with the fallout of Hoseok finding out like he had. His worry simmered underneath his skin, but he allowed himself to ignore it for the moment.

Taehyung was right. It would be fine. It would be fine.

Yoongi really fucking hoped it would be fine.

 

---

 

Couldn't they just not talk about it? Yoongi couldn’t help the thought as he stood outside the door to Hoseok's room. He already knew. He couldn’t extra find out. But it wasn’t just about that. Yoongi knew that. He knew he needed to talk to Hoseok. But, fuck, he didn’t want to. Not about this. Not after watching his face morph into complete and utter shock the day before.

Still, Yoongi took a breath and raised his hand, knocking and tensely waiting when he heard movement inside.

"Oh," Hoseok said when he opened the door, and just the fact that he wasn’t greeting Yoongi with a bright smile like he usually would had Yoongi internally wincing and forcing himself not to just turn around and go home, putting this all off for another day.

"Can I come in?" Yoongi asked, feeling a little better when Hoseok at least offered a tentative smile as he stepped aside to let Yoongi pass. But his eyes were anxious and unsure, and Yoongi hated to think that there was a chance that that trepidation would always be there.

"So, uh," Hoseok said, sitting down on his bed and gesturing to his desk chair. "Sorry about, uh, yesterday."

Yoongi sunk down onto the chair, watching as Hoseok’s face turned red at the mention of what he’d walked in on. Yoongi chose to ignore the heat in his own cheeks.

"It’s-" Yoongi started, not sure how to finish that sentence.

"Are you...?" Hoseok began when Yoongi didn’t pick up again.

Was he what? Gay? Together with Taehyung? There were a lot of ways that sentence could end.

Yoongi raised his eyebrows, waiting for Hoseok to finish his thought. He didn't want to risk assuming, and answering the wrong thing.

Shifting uncomfortably, Hoseok cleared his throat before speaking again. But instead of finishing his previous question, he asked a new one. "How long have you and Taehyung been...?"

He didn’t complete that sentence either, but at least there was only one thing he could have been asking.

"Couple weeks," Yoongi offered, tilting one shoulder up. "Officially, anyway, I guess. Little longer unofficially."

Hoseok nodded slowly, eyes not on Yoongi's face as he seemed to be thinking that through.

"Were you gonna tell us?" he asked, brows furrowed. There was something almost accusatory in the way he said it, and Yoongi latched onto the defensive anger that surged up at that. Because angry was better than scared.

"Eventually," he said, hands clenching into fists where they rested on his thighs. "But it's nobody's business."

That had Hoseok's head snapping up, lips pulled down. "Of course it is! You're both our friends. Why wouldn't you tell us?"

"I said I was gonna," Yoongi defended. "But you’re acting like it's your right to know. It's not your damn business!"

Hoseok held up his hands, clearly not wanting to get into a fight, despite Yoongi's push in that direction.

"But it was less than a month ago that I dared Taehyung and Jimin to make out," he pointed out, the reminder making Yoongi wince. "If I’d known you guys were...together, or whatever, I wouldn't have done that."

It was a valid argument, loathe as Yoongi was to admit it.

"And you're our friends," he emphasized. "I'd...think you would tell us something like this."

And they were going to, because they were friends. They just hadn’t yet. Because everything was kind of terrifying. It was new, and Yoongi was fucking scared.

"We were going to," Yoongi said again.

Hoseok nodded, and Yoongi didn't know what else to say.

The two of them were silent for a moment, Hoseok's socked feet shuffling against the carpet and Yoongi just trying to breathe.

"I didn’t even know," Hoseok started, eyes darting to look at Yoongi before moving away again to look at Yoongi’s feet, "that you like...guys."

A bolt of anxiety shot through him, buzzing in his limbs. But Yoongi just shrugged, even though Hoseok wasn’t looking directly at him.

"Do you?" Hoseok asked, making brief eye contact again.

"Like guys?" Yoongi asked, perplexed considering what he’d walked in on.

Hoseok nodded sheepishly.

"What do you think?" Yoongi snorted, trying not to let his nervousness over what Hoseok thought of him show.

"I mean, if you like guys or just...Taehyung," Hoseok explained, shrugging and looking like he was afraid Yoongi was going to scoff at him.

Yoongi hadn’t thought of that line of reasoning, though it made sense that Hoseok had wondered since Yoongi hadn’t given any indication he was interested in men.

But now he had to say it when he’d thought it had been implied.

“I’m,” Yoongi started, swallowing, and trying to get the word unstuck from the roof of his mouth, “...gay.”

His gaze was on the little piece of fuzz next to Hoseok’s foot, but Yoongi forced himself to look up and meet Hoseok’s eyes. He could do this. He was doing this. He was going to stubbornly own this with as much energy as he’d put into denying it before.

Hoseok, despite having seen him on top of Taehyung, looked surprised. But not horrified. He didn’t look horrified. Yongi clung to that as he maintained eye contact.

“How come you never told us?” Hoseok finally asked, seeming genuinely confused. And that was actually really comforting, in a way.

“Hadn’t really told myself,” Yoongi gusted out, tension in his chest loosening a bit since Hoseok wasn’t looking at him like he was a leper or escorting him out of his room. They were just talking, and it was fine. Hoseok was asking relevant questions and not seeming to be judging him and it was fine.

Hoseok’s mouth formed and exaggerated oh shape as he absorbed that, and Yoongi snorted.

“So, you and Taehyung are, like, officially dating now?” Hoseok asked, and Yoongi had to try not to let his mouth pull into an embarrassing smile from just hearing someone else say it.

“Seems that way, yeah,” Yoongi said, trying for nonchalance, but knowing the corners of his lips were turning up despite his best efforts.

Hoseok smiled, and relief so potent bloomed in Yoongi’s chest that he wanted to laugh with it.

“That’s awesome,” Hoseok told him, eyes curving and shining with earnestness. “I’m really happy for you guys. Jimin said that Taehyung was really into you. Like, way more than we knew when we were teasing.”

Yoongi huffed out a little chuckle, rubbing at the back of his neck and trying to will his blush away. There wasn’t any response he could think of that wasn’t going to make him sound like either an indifferent asshole or a lovesick idiot.

“Sorry for that, by the way,” Hoseok added, smile turning sheepish. “We were dicks with all the dares. We didn’t realize it wasn’t just some little crush. Or that you- Just. Sorry for all that.”

Waving it off, Yoongi had to convince himself not to ask what Jimin had said, exactly. Yoongi obviously knew that Taehyung legitimately liked him since they were dating, but the way Hoseok made it sound… Yoongi determinedly told his heart to calm the fuck down because now wasn’t the time.

“Are we...okay?” Hoseok asked, pulling Yoongi back from his embarrassingly schmoopy musings.

“Yeah…? Why wouldn’t we be?” Yoongi replied, eying Hoseok in confusion.

“The dares and the not knocking and all that,” he said, brows sloped in concern.

Yoongi laughed, genuinely. And, fuck that was nice.

“Technically, you did knock,” he pointed out, choosing to ignore the embarrassment that still clung to him in regards to that unfortunate event. “But then you just walked in right after.”

Hoseok snickered, dragging a hand down his face.

“Oops?” he offered, and Yoongi cackled. “I learned my lesson?”

They were okay. Hoseok knew and didn’t care. He knew and he’d seen and he didn’t mind.

That was a giant weight off of Yoongi’s shoulders.

Yoongi looked at Hoseok who seemed to be cringing at his past self’s choices.

“Well, thank fuck for that,” Yoongi said.

Hoseok guffawed, and Yoongi grinned. Things were gonna be fine.

Thank fuck, indeed.

 

---

 

No rest for the weary, Yoongi thought to himself wryly as he knocked on Seokjin’s door the following afternoon. Now that Hoseok knew, there was no sense in hiding it.

"Are you gonna tell everyone else now?" Hoseok had asked before he’d left. "Can you? Otherwise it'll be like I know something I'm not supposed to know, you know?"

"Do you?" Yoongi had teased.

But he had already been planning to tell Namjoon and Seokjin. After Hoseok had seen them, he’d known that he’d have to tell the others, if Hoseok didn’t beat him to it.

At least Seokjin already knew about his sexuality, Yoongi comforted himself as he listened to what sounded like Seokjin tripping over something on the way to the door. Seokjin even suspected he had feelings for Taehyung. With any luck, this would be an uneventful confession.

"You’re just in time!" Seokjin exclaimed when he opened the door, not even questioning why Yoongi was there. "I really don't want to start my paper."

Stepping into Seokjin’s room and closing the door as Seokjin flopped dramatically on his bed with a groan, Yoongi took a breath. Best to just get into it, right?

"I came here to tell you something," Yoongi began, dragging the desk chair over so it was closer to the bed.

Seokjin squinted at him.

“Have you come to confess to killing my pet goldfish when I was eight?” he asked, suspicious. “It’s not like I didn’t feed it. Why did it die?”

“...what?”

“I was just thinking about it,” Seokjin told him, sitting up but slumped over. “I seriously fed it! But it still ended up floating at the top of the tank! Clearly, it was not my fault. So, I thought maybe it was yours.”

“No, I was too busy trying to get my hamster to stop running away to play fish assassin,” Yoongi told him impatiently. “Anyway, I wanted to tell you that-”

“How did your hamster run away? Didn’t you have a cage for it or something?”

Seokjin,” Yoongi sighed. “I’m actually trying to tell you something.”

“Oh,” he straightened up. “Right. Okay. What do you have to tell me?”

Yoongi blew out a breath. This wasn’t going to be scary. Seokjin wasn’t going to be shocked. He could do this.

“Taehyung and I are dating,” Yoongi said before he could try to overthink the phrasing. There it was. He officially told someone.

Seokjin blinked, lips parted slightly, before he clapped once and pumped a fist in the air. “I knew it! I knew you liked him!”

Yoongi rolled his eyes at Seokjin’s one-man celebration, but internally, he was just so relieved that Seokjin was reacting like he’d pretty much expected him to.

“I knew it, I knew it I knew it!” Seokjin crowed. “I knew it when you got drunk and started talking about kangaroos! Oh man. I am a marvel. An icon. Truly.”

“Don’t you think you’re pushing it?” Yoongi griped, leaning back in Seokjin’s desk chair and making it groan in protest. “Realizing at that point isn’t very impressive considering-”

“Now, now,” Seokjin cut him off. “Don’t be bitter. One day you will achieve greatness, too.”

Snorting, Yoongi decided to just let Seokjin have his moment. If it could even be called that. Because Yoongi was having a moment where he was starting to actually think that maybe his sexuality didn’t have to change everything. If Seokjin could find out he was dating Taehyung, and go off on a self praising diatribe like it was any other day, then maybe life could truly just go on as normal. This certainly felt normal. For them, anyway.

“So, does anyone else know?” Seokjin asked, drawing his knees up and scooting in like they were sharing secrets now. Even though Seokjin had nearly been yelling moments prior.

“Hoseok…found out,” Yoongi offered, not wanting to expound. Though from the way Seokjin’s eyes were widening, his attempt to not get into semantics was futi-

“Found out how?” Seokjin asked, leaning forward.

“Does it really matte-”

But Seokjin was cackling at smacking him on the knee before he could even finish.

“Oh my god!” he laughed, reaching out to hit Yoongi again in his mirth. “I’d say you defiled poor Hoseok, but considering he keeps daring everyone to kiss each other…”

“Don’t think that was what he had in mind,” Yoongi muttered, cheeks hot.

“What were you doing?” Seokjin squawked, nearly bouncing where he sat and looking far too entertained by Yoongi’s embarrassment. “Were you naked?”

Seokjin!” Yoongi snapped. “No! Everyone’s clothes were on. For fuck’s sake.”

But Seokjin just laughed, even as Yoongi glared at him

“So, do Namjoon and Jimin know?” Seokjin finally asked when he was calm enough to do more than hiccup through a laughing fit.

“Hoseok told Jimin, I think,” Yoongi said. “I still have to tell Namjoon.”

“He won’t care,” Seokjin told him, waving a hand in front of him. “He’ll probably just want to know how you feel and if you are completely emotionally distraught over all the teasing and dares from before.”

Yoongi had figured as much. Though his own reasoning did little to quell the anxiety that came with having to reveal his sexuality to any new person. So, hearing Seokjin predict Namjoon’s reaction was actually comforting.

“Wow, so like, there aren’t going to be any more secrets next time we all hang out,” Seokjin marvelled, and the anxiety that had been slightly lifted came roaring back.

The idea of everyone knowing that he and Taehyung were together, the idea of everyone watching them like they were gonna start acting differently…

Apparently, the unease was clearly written on his face, because Seokjin was talking again.

“If it gets awkward, I’ll divert the attention,” Seokjin promised, smiling in a way that was perhaps supposed to be reassuring, but was a little concerning. Though Yoongi certainly appreciated the sentiment. A lot. “I’ll even streak again, if it comes to that.”

Yes, Yoongi had reason to be troubled by that smile.

“Please no,” he groaned, dragging his hands over his face and grimacing.

Seokjin cackled. “If,” he emphasized. “Only if.”

Still concerning, but...Yoongi was grateful. It was nice to know that Seokjin was looking out for him.

Though he really, really hoped it didn’t come to that.

 

---

 

"Age before beauty!" Seokjin hollered, lunging in front of Namjoon to help himself to a beer. "I mean, either way, I'm first. But just in case you were under the impression that you’re prettier than me."

"How could I possibly be," Namjoon deadpanned, and Seokjin beamed, popping the top on his beer and taking a swing while waggling his eyebrows around.

Telling Namjoon had, indeed, been pretty uneventful. His brows had jumped at Yoongi’s proclamation, eyes getting a bit wider, but ultimately, he’d taken it in stride as he did with most things. And just as Seokjin had predicted, he’d worried about the effects of the dares, apologizing for them once again. But he'd been mostly just surprised and supportive. He must have said wow about ten times.

And with that out of the way, everyone knew. Everyone knew and no one had looked at him like he was a leper.

Of course, hanging out with everyone together now that they knew was a step in itself, but so far, so good.

Yoongi had ended up in his usual spot on the floor, and Taehyung in his, which was right next to Yoongi.

More than ever, Yoongi was aware of Taehyung’s presence, sitting just a few inches away from him and laughing with Jimin about something Yoongi had missed.

After he’d talked with Namjoon, he and Taehyung had reconvened- Yoongi filling him in on how it had been talking with Hoseok and telling Seokjin and Namjoon.

Taehyung had talked with Jimin, and apparently Jimin had smacked him on the arm for not telling him and then tackled him in a hug. So even though it would have been preferable for Jimin to find out from Taehyung and not Hoseok, all was well there.

It had been so, so hard to pull away when Taehyung had had to go back to his room. All Yoongi had wanted to do was keep kissing him, letting himself give into the soft press of Taehyung’s lips against his and lose himself completely. But there was homework to be done, and class to go to the next day.

That night, however... Yoongi needed to not be thinking about that right then. Not while Seokjin was singing some song about trains.

Everyone was behaving almost normally. Almost. There were little glances in his and Taehyung's direction, like maybe they could see the difference they all knew had happened over the past few weeks. And Taehyung was being maybe slightly more tentative in everything he did. He kept glancing at Yoongi, too. Like he was worried that Yoongi was gonna lose his shit at any moment. Which he was not. He wasn’t. Because he was going to own this. He was going to sit next to Taehyung, the guy he was dating, and be comfortable with it, even with everyone knowing.

"You will all be pleased to know that Hoseok spoke to the girl of his dreams," Jimin offered when Seokjin’s spontaneous song had ended.

"I talk to her all the time," Hoseok huffed.

"But for, like, five whole minutes, this time," Jimin announced, and Namjoon snickered.

"Hey," Hoseok scowled. "Some of us are single and have difficult lives. Don't judge."

With that as a reminder that Namjoon was not the only one in a relationship, four sets of eyes tentatively turned toward Yoongi and Taehyung.

Yoongi sighed. "May I help you?"

"Yes!" Seokjin exclaimed. "Introduce me to one of the girls you’re hoarding! Not having anyone I'm even interested in dating is so dull!"

"I already told you no," Yoongi laughed, glad that they’d been able to gloss over what could have been an uncomfortable moment.

"That's so unfair!" Seokjin complained as Hoseok howled in laughter. "Maybe I wouldn’t be so horrifyingly single if I met someone worth dating!"

"You’re horrifying, alright," Namjoon snickered.

"You are all just the worst! The absolute worst!" Seokjin lamented, miming stabbing himself in the chest with the gusto of someone reenacting Shakespeare.

Taehyung cackled, flopping over so he was half draped on Yoongi- forehead thunking against Yoongi’s shoulder and hand landing on his knee. The contact was welcome, but Yoongi could feel the exact moment Taehyung’s brain had caught up with him, and he started second guessing the action. His whole body stiffened, and he made to pull away. But that wasn’t what Yoongi wanted. He didn’t want to have to tiptoe around his friends when he had nothing to hide. And he certainly didn’t want Taehyung to feel like he needed to censor himself for Yoongi’s sake when they were around other people.

Before he could lose his nerve, Yoongi’s arm darted out and wrapped around Taehyung’s waist. It wasn’t keeping Taehyung from moving away if he wanted to, but it was an invitation to stay.

Taehyung froze, scooting a little so he could sit up but he was still close enough that his knee was pressed to Yoongi’s and Yoongi’s arm could remain slung around his waist.

Yoongi knew that the others were watching- knew that they were seeing proof of their relationship and Yoongi's sexuality. If there had been a disconnect in their minds without having seen, that was probably gone. This was real and it was happening, and if anyone had any issue, well, too bad, honestly. Because Yoongi liked the warmth of Taehyung against his side. He liked the smile Taehyung shot him, so happy and content.

Seokjin grinned at him when Yoongi looked over, eyebrows raising like a thumbs up without the use of hands. Like a go you. Snorting quietly at Seokjin’s enthusiasm, Yoongi quirked a brow. But he was silently pleased to know that Seokjin was truly on board and happy for him.

Taehyung snuffled another laugh against his shoulder as Jimin did some sort of interpretive dance move, and Yoongi relaxed.

It wouldn't be like this all the time, but just being able to let his worries go when he was with his friends was even more than he had hoped for.

 

---

 

"Seokjin, oh my god," Hoseok cackled, listing into the wall outside Namjoon's room as Seokjin attempted to mimic the dance move Hoseok had just demonstrated.

"It was the same!" Seokjin insisted, stomping his foot and laughing despite his proclamation.

"I'm gonna get a noise complaint," Namjoon warned. "Go home."

That's what they were doing, but somehow they’d ended up stalled just outside the door. Yoongi had only had one beer, but Seokjin, Hoseok, and Jimin were all a few drinks in- pink cheeked and giggling at everything.

"It was the same, right Jimin?" Seokjin asked, linking arms with Jimin as he pushed himself up from where he'd been slumped against the wall.

“No,” Jimin huffed out through his laughter, and Seokjin scowled, gearing up to defend his dance attempts.

“Guys, seriously,” Namjoon said before Seokjin could speak. “My RA gets really strict about quiet hours sometimes. I don’t want to get written up.”

“Fine, fine, I’ll go take my dance skills elsewhere,” Seokjin announced haughtily, trying again to grab for Jimin’s arm after the other boy had shaken him off the first time. “They aren’t appreciated around here anyway.”

“Goodnight,” Namjoon said pointedly, eyes laughing as he shut the door and they started off down the hall toward the elevator.

“Taetae, make sure I drink water when we get back!” Jimin requested, stepping onto the elevator and pressing against Taehyung’s side.

“Uh,” Taehyung started, wide eyes darting over to meet Yoongi’s.

Before they’d left, during a loud and rambunctious reprise of the train song, Yoongi had leaned over so his mouth was right next to Taehyungs’ ear and murmured, “Want to come back with me?”

Taehyung’s gaze, when it met his, had been intense as he’d nodded eagerly.

The anticipation simmering under his skin had been hard to ignore, especially since they couldn’t just get up and leave.

“I’m actually...going to Yoongi’s,” Taehyung said, cheeks and ears turning red.

The reaction was immediate from the others- hooting and attempts at wolf whistles that only Jimin truly succeeded at.

Yoongi put on his most unimpressed, what-the-fuck-is-wrong-with-you-idiots face, and just hoped that his cheeks weren’t too flushed.

“Ohohohohoho,” Seokjin cackled, making some gesture that might have been intended to be crude, but Yoongi couldn’t figure out what it was supposed to be.

“You should have added a few more ho’s to that,” Yoongi told him blandly.

“I ran out of breath,” Seokjin explained, as though Yoongi was giving him legitimate feedback, and Yoongi snorted.

They parted ways with Seokjin and Hoseok, both of them making kissy faces like they were all in third grade, and Yoongi, Taehyung, and Jimin shuffled outside, into the cold, to make the short trek to their building.

At the fourth floor, Jimin bid them goodnight with a wink after having been humming what Yoongi suspected to be an attempt at a porn soundtrack for the entire ascent.

Taehyung was still red when he looked over to Yoongi, eyes worried like Yoongi might have changed his mind after all of the teasing. And while it had been embarrassing, their friends teasing them was normal and felt normal. Had they politely declined comment when Taehyung said he was going to Yoongi’s, thatwould have been weird.

“Now that that’s done,” Yoongi quipped, buzzing inside with anticipation, but trying not to show it when they were stepping out of the elevator and into the sixth floor hall.

Taehyung chuckled, sticking close as they walked the last thirty feet to Yoongi’s door.

They’d been alone there a handful of times before, but this felt different. They weren’t just going to sit and talk about their day. And while the expectation of what was going to happen had Yoongi feeling a little nervous, he wanted too damn much to let anxiousness get the best of him. No, he couldn’t focus on things that could go wrong when he could feel the arousal at just the thought of what was coming starting to pool in his belly.

Letting them both into his room, Yoongi turned and shut the door decisively behind Taehyung- turning the lock and making eye contact as he did. Taehyung snorted out a laugh, shrugging out of his jacket and watching Yoongi do the same. After Yoongi had kicked off his boots and Taehyung was tentatively stepping toward him on socked feet, it was almost like the air shifted. Because there was nothing keeping them from indulging in each other like they wanted to.

Hoseok could show up and pound on the door as much as he pleased, and Yoongi didn’t intend to let that stop him. Though that wasn’t likely to happen since Hoseok probably had a good idea of what they were up to.

Yoongi tugged Taehyung down by the back of the neck, lips fitting together and a contented sigh rising in his own throat at finally getting to do what he’d been thinking of doing all night. Taehyung’s lips parted eagerly for him, and Yoongi took the opportunity to suck Taehyung’s full, lower lip into his mouth, reveling in the shudder that wracked Taehyung’s body and the deep, little moan he let out.

Biting Taehyung’s lip gently, Yoongi couldn’t get enough- couldn’t get close enough. They were flush against each other, Yoongi finally releasing Taehyung’s lip in favor of kissing him and tasting him and swallowing the choked gasp Taehyung let out when Yoongi sucked on his tongue. Fuck. He just wanted all there was to have, hands sliding under the hem of Taehyung’s sweater to get at the warm skin there.

“Off,” he muttered between presses of lips, diving back in before Taehyung could even respond. But with his palms sliding up so the sweater was bunched around Taehyung’s ribs, Yoongi was pretty sure he got the message.

Their kiss broke with a wet smack when Taehyung pulled back, yanking his sweater over his head and dropping it to the floor. His hair was mussed and staticky, and his skin gleamed in the low light from Yoongi’s desk lamp, and Yoongi was filled to the brim with too many feelings to deal with at any one moment. So he grabbed the hem of his sweatshirt and tugged it over his head, not even bothering to smooth down his hair before he divested him of his t-shirt aswell, and then stepped back in so they were skin to skin.

Taehyung gasped into his mouth, Yoongi feeling a sound vibrate in his own throat with the feeling of Taehyung’s warm skin against his.

“What do you want?” Yoongi puffed against Taehyung’s lips- so soft and swollen and slick, he never wanted to pull away.

“I don’t-” Taehyung cut himself off as he trembled, Yoongi’s lips finding their way to his neck. “Anything. Whatever you want. I just-”

Hips rocking forward as Yoongi traced his tongue along Taehyung’s jaw, he couldn’t stop his own moan to feel how hard Taehyung was for him. He knew that Taehyung could feel his erection as well, and all he wanted was for there to be no more fabric in the way.

Yoongi popped the button on Taehyung’s jeans before fumbling with the closure on his own. He didn’t want to pull away from the kiss that had started up again, but he forced himself to in order to shove his jeans and underwear down his legs before kicking the material away with his feet.

Watching Taehyung sliding his pants over his hips, Yoongi stepped back and dropped back on the bed. He scooted up, admiring the flex of muscle beneath the skin of Taehyung’s thighs and eyes catching on the jut of Taehyung’s cock.

With all of that skin on display just for him, Yoongi initially forgot to be self conscious. Taehyung’s gaze, eyes so dark and shining in the soft light, tracing over Yoongi as he waited there on the bed had Yoongi’s skin prickling briefly with embarrassment, but that was short lived when Taehyung was climbing onto the mattress and bracing himself above Yoongi to kiss him again.

There were so many things that Yoongi had imagined they could do that night, all of which still sounded immensely appealing to him, but at that moment, what he wanted most was just to feel as much of Taehyung’s skin against his as possible. So with his arms winding around Taehyung’s ribs and curling up to press his hands against his shoulder blades, Yoongi pulled Taehyung down so their chests were touching- stomachs, hips, thighs all flush.

The feel of Taehyung’s length, hard and hot, beside his own had Yoongi shuddering and shifting to better line them up- thighs widening so Taehyung could fit between them and knees bracketing his hips. Like that, their arousals pressed when Yoongi’s tilted his hips up, and the blissed out look on Taehyung’s face when he did it again had tingles dancing down Yoongi’s spine just as much as the contact did.

Taehyung’s hips rocked down to meet him the next time, and lights burst behind Yoongi’s eyelids. Taehyung was moaning as they continued to try to kiss, elbows digging into the mattress beside Yoongi’s head. He was trying not to crush him, but Yoongi wanted him closer still, tightening his hold around Taehyung’s ribs and pressing his heels into the mattress to roll his hips up harder.

Fuck,” Yoongi rasped, letting his head fall back as he sucked in a lungful of air. The slide was a little too dry in all honesty, but it was so good that he was pretty sure it would make him come anyway. He could feel the stutter of Taehyung’s hips and the moans he was currently burying against Yoongi’s jaw, and knew that he wasn’t the only one to be so affected by the simple act of rubbing against one another.

Then Taehyung was shifting so his weight was on his left elbow. Yoongi’s initial thought was no, stay. But Taehyung spitting into his right palm and reaching between them had Yoongi realizing what he was doing, and-

Oh, fuck,” he groaned, fingers digging into Taehyung’s back and eyes closing against a wave of pleasure as Taehyung wrapped a slick hand around the both of them. That was even better. The slide was easier, now. And Taehyung’s warm hand around them both, stroking up and down, and squeezing just enough, and-

Taehyung’s rhythm faltered, grip tightening, and Yoongi felt the wet of Taehyung’s release against his stomach at the same time Taehyung gasped against his hair, the sharp inhalation morphing into a deep moan as he rocked his hips in time with his still-moving hand, and jesusfuck, Taehyung had just come- on him, against him, for him- and that was the hottest fucking thing Yoongi had ever experienced.

Taehyung was huffing into Yoongi’s shoulder, hand still, but body trembling a bit. Yoongi could feel himself pulse in Taehyung’s lax grip, hips twitching on their own accord in an attempt to get some friction. He was so fucking close, and having Taehyung come had just shoved him even closer to the edge. It wouldn’t take much to tip him over, at that point.

Just as he was considering taking matters into his own hands, Taehyung readjusted so he was just gripping Yoongi, and then he started up again, stroking him steadily and this time, pressing the pad of his thumb to the tip of Yoongi’s cock, and oh fuck, he was done.

With a groan much louder than he intended, Yoongi felt his muscles lock up and his back bow as his orgasm swept through him- pulse thundering in his ears, nails probably marking up Taehyung’s shoulders, and eyes shut tight enough he could see colors as his length bucked in Taehyung’s grip and shot his release between their stomachs.

Taehyung’s lips were against his jaw when Yoongi relaxed back against the bed took a deep breath in.

Christ,” he muttered, bringing an unsteady hand up to push his hair off his forehead.

The next thing he knew, Taehyung’s big eyes were peering down at him like he needed to gauge his reaction even after all that. Though there was definitely a hint of pride in there, too, which was pretty well earned.

Yoongi’s lips quirked as he hooked a hand around the back of Taehyung’s neck and pulled him in for a kiss.

“That was really-” Taehyung puffed against Yoongi’s lips, and Yoongi hummed in agreement, sealing their mouths together again and shifting as Taehyung eased himself onto his side so they were laying side by side.

The kiss turned lethargic, and Yoongi started to feel the chill of the air against his bare skin.

“Get up for a second so we can get under the covers,” Yoongi murmured, kissing Taehyung again and not doing anything to motivate either of them to move.

“I guess I should probably…” Taehyung started, breath catching at the kiss Yoongi pressed to his neck, “...should probably get going, anyway, soon. It’s late.”

Yoongi frowned, nipping lightly at the skin at the base of Taehyung’s throat before raising his head to look him in the eye.

“You can just stay,” he said, stomach swooping a little. Maybe Taehyung didn’t even want to. Was that too relationship-y? Having him stay over? They were in a relationship, though. And Yoongi wanted him to stay. Though if Taehyung said again that he should leave, Yoongi wasn’t going to beg.

Taehyung’s eyes widened. “Really?” he asked, sounding so genuinely surprised that Yoongi started to feel self-conscious for offering.

“Yeah,” Yoongi said with a half shrug. “It’s only two floors, anyway. Pointless to go now when you can just stay here.”

He wasn’t sure of his own logic on that, but Taehyung was nodding, face breaking out in a grin.

“Okay,” he said, gaze traveling down to Yoongi’s lips and staying there for a moment before he leaned in for a quick kiss. “But I should call Jimin. So he knows I’m not coming back tonight.”

“Phone’s over there,” Yoongi said, gesturing toward his desk and pushing himself up so he could actually work on getting under the covers.

Sitting up as well and swinging his legs over the edge of the bed, Taehyung paused. “Uh,” he began. “Tissues?”

And yeah, as Yoongi moved, he was also reminded of the cum on his stomach.

Reaching over with a groan, Yoongi grabbed a tissue for himself and another for Taehyung, taking a moment to wipe himself off before getting up to get a fresh pair of boxers from his drawer.

By the time he made it back to the bed, Taehyung had put his own boxers back on and was sitting in Yoongi’s desk chair with the phone to his ear and his fingers twisting the cord.

Pulling the blankets back, Yoongi collapsed in bed with a satisfied sigh. Sheet pulled up to his waist and laying on his stomach with his cheek smashed into his pillow, Yoongi watched Taehyung fiddle with the phone cord.

“Jiminnie, hey, it’s me,” Taehyung said, cord completely wrapped around his index finger. “Shut up!”

It was a playful shut up, but Taehyung’s cheeks were red, so Yoongi had to assume Jimin was teasing him about sex-related something.

“I can walk just fine,” he hissed into the phone, and Yoongi buried a chuckle in his pillow even as he forced himself to not think too hard about what that implied right now. Now was time for sleep, not daydreaming about all the other things they could do in the future. “I’m just calling to tell you, in case you would worry, that I’m staying here tonight.”

With warmth curling in his chest and his lips curling up fondly, Yoongi watched as Taehyung pulled one foot up in front of him on the chair and rested his chin on his knee as he listened to whatever Jimin was saying on the other line.

Jimin,” Taehyung whined, starting to wrap the cord around his pinkie finger instead, this time. “I’m gonna hang up now...I’ll see you tomorrow. Drink water! Night.”

The phone was put back on the cradle, and Taehyung met Yoongi’s eyes sheepishly.

“Jimin...uh…”

“I think I can pretty much guess how the other half of that conversation went,” Yoongi told him with a snort.

Taehyung flushed, but snickered, getting up and shuffling back over to the bed after turning off the desk lamp when Yoongi asked him to.

“It’s gonna be a little tight,” Taehyung worried, sliding under the covers and nudging into Yoongi’s side.

“Just don’t knee me in the balls,” Yoongi requested, and Taehyung’s laugh was too loud for how close he was to Yoongi, but that was okay.

“I’ll try,” he promised, hesitantly draping an arm over Yoongi’s waist.

Carefully, so as not to upset Taehyung’s arm, Yoongi reached out and turned off the light on his bedside table.

The room was plunged into darkness, but that somehow only served to make Yoongi even more aware of Taehyung’s presence.

It was definitely a tight fit with the two of them crammed together in a single bed, but Yoongi was glad that Taehyung had wanted to stay.

The sleepy goodnight mumbled into his shoulder had him smiling in the dark.

 

---

 

"So, when am I gonna meet the boyfriend?" Mimi asked, following Yoongi out of the music building and into the winter air. The last few, dry leaves that were clinging onto their branches rustled in the cold wind, and Yoongi grimaced, dipping his chin beneath his scarf.

They hadn’t even been talking about anything related to Taehyung or Yoongi's love life or dating at all. They'd been talking about a piece they’d listened to in class. Clearly, Mimi had been bursting to bring it up with the way it came out of absolutely nowhere as soon as they were out of earshot of their classmates.

"When? I dunno," Yoongi shrugged. "It’s not like I’m gonna bring him in for show and tell."

"Why not?" she whined, laughing.

Yoongi shot her a look that obviously stated that he wasn’t going to justify that with an answer.

He was doing his best not to let his own (embarrassing) giddiness at the subject show through or else Mimi was likely to never, ever stop pestering him about it.

Still, he couldn’t help but think about the morning before, waking up with one of Taehyung’s legs flung over his and Taehyung’s head dangerously close to not even being on the mattress at all.

"Where're you goin'?" he'd teased, voice rough with sleep, as he poked Taehyung in the back- covers askew and barely on him anymore.

Taehyung had blinked sleepily, turning his head and regarding Yoongi with the fuzzy headed confusion that sleep brought.

"Not," he'd replied, already deep voice dipping dangerously low. Dangerous for Yoongi's sanity, anyway. "Coming."

There had been a dirty remark on the tip of Yoongi’s tongue, but he was too sleepy to bother. Besides, Taehyung had been rolling into him, an arm thrown over his ribs and his face pressed into against Yoongi’s neck- warm breath puffing against his skin.

Yoongi had always thought he'd liked space when he slept, but he found he didn’t mind having Taehyung as a personal space heater.

"Let me meet him," Mimi cajoled. "Aren't we friends?"

"You can’t use that every time you want something," Yoongi warned.

Mimi just grinned, cheeks bunching up and gums showing.

"So, if I need a kidney, I can call you up? Because we're friends? Or if I need help hiding a body?" Yoongi suggested.

Shoving at his arm, Mimi cackled.

"Lemme meet your boyfriend, and we'll talk."

Yoongi sighed, rolling his eyes.

"Maybe you already know him," Yoongi suggested. "No sense meeting someone you already know."

"Well, what's his name, then?" Mimi demanded.

She'd said she was meeting someone in the dining hall after this, but she was still following him as they passed it. Apparently this was more important than her plans.

"Kim Taehyung," Yoongi finally offered, not expecting the shriek or the violent smacking of his shoulder. "Fuck, what?"

"Taehyung?!" Mimi exclaimed, excitedly speeding up so she could walk backwards and look Yoongi in the face. "I love that kid! He's in my lit elective!"

It seemed Yoongi wasn’t going to have to do any introductions, at least. But he was suddenly having visions of Mimi leaping at Taehyung when they had class next, and eagerly telling him about how she had comp with Yoongi.

"See? You don’t have to meet him," Yoongi told her.

"Why didn’t you say you were dating Taehyung sooner?" Mimi asked, punctuating her displeasure at only just having found out with a familiar smack against Yoongi's arm. "He’s so fun! And so cute!"

Yoongi must have looked at her strangely, because Mimi was snickering.

"I'm not gonna steal your boyfriend. Does me saying he's cute make you jealous?" she teased, elbowing him in the ribs, though he couldn't feel it through his layers. "Does it? Ey? Eey?"

"No," Yoongi huffed, unable to help the laugh at just how damn amused Mimi seemed.

"I guess I might be up for hiding a body," Mimi joked after she’d finished laughed at him. "Though it depends whose body. You're not gonna murder Taehyung, are you? Because I will not help you hide his body."

"Why would I write someone a song just to murder them?" Yoongi scoffed. "I want anyone who has experienced my genius to live as long as possible so they can continue to remember my brilliance."

Mimi gagged, and Yoongi laughed.

"Weren’t you gonna meet someone at the dining hall?" Yoongi asked as they neared their building.

"Fuck!" Mimi exclaimed, eyes wide as she stopped in her tracks before spinning in the opposite direction. "See ya Friday!"

Yoongi chuckled as he stepped inside, peeling his gloves off and bending his stiff joints. Despite the fact that he should probably warn Taehyung that Mimi was going to accost him in class, that had all felt extremely...normal. He’d feared that, even if someone was okay with his sexuality, any conversation regarding who he was dating or had dated would be steeped with some perpetual tension. But Mimi pestering him about Taehyung was no different than if she'd been pestering him about a girlfriend. It had just felt regular, which was something Yoongi had used to think he’d never feel if he were to embrace his sexuality.

Maybe he wouldn’t warn Taehyung about Mimi, Yoongi thought as he stepped onto the elevator. A Mimi surprise could be entertaining. He wouldn't be there to see it, but he was sure he’d hear about it twice.

Either way, Taehyung was coming over later. The thought had Yoongi's lips curving as he pressed the button for the sixth floor, and he wanted to laugh at himself.

At least no one was there to see him smiling when he was alone and thinking about Taehyung. That made it less embarrassing. A little.

 

---

 

"Hey," Yoongi said, closing the door behind Taehyung and accepting the kiss he’d come to expect, though it still had the back of his neck tingling.

They’d settled into a routine over the past few weeks. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, Taehyung came over after his afternoon class, and on the other days, they saw each other at dinner with the other guys. Lunch sometimes, too. Though typically lunch was only a few of them since they all had different class schedules.

It was nearing finals, so there had been days they couldn’t meet in favor of writing papers and studying for exams that loomed. And that was fine. The last thing Yoongi wanted to do was go home for winter vacation and explain to his family that he’d bombed half his classes because he’d been too busy screwing his new boyfriend. That was probably not a good way to come out.

They’d all been stressed lately, so Taehyung’s less enthusiastic than usual smile didn't have alarm bells going off. But when they’d flopped on Yoongi's bed, and Taehyung was fidgeting and not immediately exclaiming over the injustices of term papers, Yoongi knew something was off.

"What’s up?" he asked, watching Taehyung's face go through at least three expressions before he tried to smile.

"Nothing," Taehyung said lightly, unease in the curve of his lips that had Yoongi frowning.

Taehyung's inability to keep his feelings from being broadcasted on his face made him easy to read, and Yoongi found himself picking up on his friends' moods anyway. So, Taehyung sitting there with worry in his eyes and his fingers twisting his shirt sleeves had Yoongi's stomach twisting like it was the fabric.

He didn’t want to be obnoxious, forcing Taehyung to talk about something he didn’t want to, but sitting there pretending that Taehyung wasn’t distressed by something seemed pretty pointless.

"You don’t have to tell me," Yoongi said, trying for a more casual tone than he was feeling, "but let me know if I can do anything?"

Taehyung looked for a second like he was going to deny that anything was wrong again, but then he seemed to deflate.

"It’s nothing," he said. "It’s stupid."

Yoongi waited for him to elaborate.

"I just- this guy in my class," he explained. "He said some not-nice stuff. That’s all."

"What do you mean , not-nice stuff?" Yoongi asked, worry channeling in a more specific direction now that he had an idea of what was bothering Taehyung.

“Just-” Taehyung waved his hand. “It’s really not a big deal.”

“What did he say?” Yoongi pressed.

“It’s-” Taehyung cut himself off again, eyes sheepish when he met Yoongi’s gaze. But why would he be sheepish? Why was he so hesitant to say what it was?

“Taehyung, what?”

“I guess he knows I’m gay, somehow,” Taehyung began, still seeming reluctant to explain. “I mean, I don’t hide it, but I don’t broadcast it either. Anyway, I, uh...he saw us in town last week apparently? At the diner? Um. He…”

Yoongi felt sick, knowing where this was going. But he still had to hear it, still had to know-

“When I was leaving, he told me...he said…Don’t try sitting anywhere near me next class. I saw you and your faggy boyfriend in town last week. Fucking disgusting.

Taehyung looked guiltily at Yoongi after he finished, like he was the one to blame just for having heard what the guy said.

“Who is this asshole?” Yoongi wanted to know, feeling rage rise up in his so fast, it made his head spin. What kind of despicable fuckrag would dare say something like that to Taehyung? Taehyung, who radiated sunbeams out of his pores when he smiled and didn’t even like killing bugs. What kind of sick fucking sonnovabitch-

“Just some guy,” Taehyung said, flapping his hands and watching Yoongi worriedly. “It’s not important. I just-”

“I’m gonna fucking kill him,” Yoongi seethed, imagining the scene Taehyung described and getting more and more enraged. This piece of shit just saw Taehyung going about his life, probably smiling at someone or zoning out about who knew what, and interrupted that to spew those awful things at him- What the actual fuck?

“It’s not that big of a deal-”

“How fucking dare he say that shit to you?” Yoongi exclaimed, standing now because his anger wouldn’t let him sit still. “I can’t even fucking believe- I wanna smash his fucking face in.”

Taehyung’s brows were drawn when Yoongi looked over, and he looked confused. Though how he could be confused about Yoongi wanting to kill this asshole, Yoongi wasn’t sure.

“Wait,” Taehyung started. “You’re mad because he said it to me?”

“Yeah?” Yoongi stopped pacing, perplexed by Taehyung’s bewilderment. “Why wouldn’t I be mad about that? Why aren’t you more angry?”

Taehyung blinked up at him. “Because he called you...I thought you- I don’t know. I was worried. About you.”

“About me?” Yoongi repeated back dumbly, some of his rage draining out of him as he considered what Taehyung had said.

“If people know...they might say stuff like that to you, too,” Taehyung explained. “And he realized we were dating...I know it’s been hard for you, and- I didn’t know how you’d react to that. The negativity. I thought maybe you’d decide…”

“Decide what?” Yoongi urged, sitting back down and wanting to smooth the crinkle between Taehyung’s brows that was only deepening as he spoke.

“That it wasn’t worth it?” Taehyung said quietly, teeth digging into his lower lip as he regarded Yoongi cautiously.

“Not worth it?” Yoongi balked. As though he could go back to how things were before he’d come out. As though he’d want to.

Taehyung was watching Yoongi like he as a bomb that might detonate at any moment.

“You are gravely underestimating how stubborn I am,” Yoongi said, hoping to break the tension a little, though it was true.

That got a snort from Taehyung, but Yoongi knew that he couldn’t just leave it at that. He didn’t want Taehyung thinking that he was likely to decide he wanted to be “straight” again and go back in the closet like a turtle into its shell. Not only was that completely impossible, Yoongi didn’t want to. He knew there were a fuckton of hardships that lay ahead, but anything was better than being dishonest with himself. Moreover, even if his relationship with Taehyung was what outed him to people, it was fucking worth it because Taehyung made him so stupidly happy that it was ridiculous.

“Shit like that,” Yoongi went on, scooting a little closer on the bed and making sure to meet Taehyung’s still worried eyes, “like that guy and what he said, or whatever stupid shit people pull, isn’t gonna make me want to run and hide. It sucks and I hate that it happens and will happen, but it’s not gonna make me not want to be with you, okay? People like that can fuck themselves, for all I care. And I hope they fucking do if they’re gonna be dicks to you. But none of that shit is gonna change this,” he gestured between them, “okay?”

Nodding, Taehyung’s gaze was intense- his hands finding Yoongi’s thigh when he leaned in before one lifted to cradle Yoongi’s jaw. By the time Taehyung’s lips met his, Yoongi felt like his spine had turned to liquid from Taehyung’s eyes on him and the enormity of emotion that seemed to hang between them. The kiss had tingles erupting across Yoongi’s skin as he reached up to clasp at the nape of Taehyung’s neck to bring him closer.

He hadn’t said all he could say yet- a lot of things he wanted to say at some point still floating around in his mind as only half formed confessions and thoughts. But Yoongi was glad that they’d talked about this, hopeful that Taehyung was able to see that this, their relationship, wasn’t a passing fancy or something Yoongi was ready to drop at any given moment. Taehyung was important to him, and Yoongi didn’t half ass the things he cared about.

Taehyung’s lips against his inspired just as much emotion to well in his chest as want to rise in him, and Yoongi shifted closer still to try to communicate what he was feeling through the kiss.

“That guy can definitely fuck himself,” Taehyung agreed on a snicker when they pulled back briefly a couple minutes later, foreheads together and eyes having to cross a little to look at each other.

Yoongi snorted, pressing forward to kiss Taehyung again. “Definitely.”

 

---

 

Yoongi stomped his feet against the sidewalk outside the science building, trying to keep his toes from going numb. He’d have liked to keep his hands warm in his pockets, but he was holding two drinks- one coffee he was sipping from and one untouched hot chocolate- so the meager protection from the wind his gloves offered was going to have to do.

After talking it through the day before, Yoongi was pretty sure Taehyung knew that Yoongi wasn’t just going to up and leave because he had gotten cold feet about the whole dating a guy thing. But realizing that Taehyung had been worried made Yoongi think he should be more proactive in making sure Taehyung knew how much he meant to him.

He also wanted to make a point to not act like Taehyung was some shameful secret. Now that their friends knew, there was no reason to sneak around. Of course Yoongi wasn’t planning on engaging in any over the top displays of affection like he saw some straight couples doing around campus. He wasn’t a fan of people making out in public, regardless of gender or sexuality. But Yoongi wanted Taehyung to know that he wasn’t horrified by the prospect of people knowing they were together. If they had a bad reaction, they could eat shit.

As a music major, Yoongi wasn’t very familiar with the science building, so he didn’t know exactly where Taehyung's class was. All he knew was that Taehyung got out of class at one fifteen. So there he was, across from the entrance at one thirteen with a hot chocolate for Taehyung to surprise him.

People started exiting the building in larger clusters after the clock ticked past quarter after, and Yoongi’s eyes were peeled for Taehyung’s red beanie. Since Taehyung wasn’t expecting him, Yoongi didn’t want to miss him and have Taehyung just walk right past him, lost in thought.

Unnecessarily, his stomach was twisting in anticipation. Like the surprise aspect was working in reverse and throwing him off instead of Taehyung. It was dumb to be nervous because it wasn’t like Taehyung was going to be unhappy to see him. And at the very, very least, he’d be grateful for the hot chocolate.

Naturally, he needn’t have worried in any regard. Taehyung, when he emerged from the building a few moments later, seemed to spot him loitering at the same time Yoongi saw his red beanie. Taehyung’s surprise quickly morphed into a grin so wide it seemed like it took up his entire face as he hastened his pace to make his way over to Yoongi.

“Hi,” he said, voice full of wonderment, like Yoongi’s presence was equivalent to that of a mythical creature. “I didn’t know you were going to wait for me after class.”

“That was kind of the point,” Yoongi told him, lips pulling up in a wry smile and heart pounding with how happy Taehyung seemed to see him. “Here. It’s hot chocolate.”

Taehyung took the paper cup, eyes still wide like this was something much more amazing than Yoongi bringing him a drink for no reason. But Taehyung being so bowled over by the small gesture made Yoongi glad he’d done it. He wanted to do more things for him, too, so it wasn’t a rare and spectacular occurrence but something Taehyung could get used to. Because he deserved to get used to being treated like something special.

“It should probably be okay to drink since I’ve been standing with it in the cold,” Yoongi said instead of starting to spew the sappy thoughts zipping through his head. Now wasn’t the time. And besides, Yoongi was much more comfortable showing his feelings through gestures, rather than words. “I don’t think you’ll burn your tongue this time.”

Laughing, Taehyung swatted at him before carefully taking a sip.

“Mmm,” Taehyung moaned as he swallowed, and Yoongi had to pull his mind back from where it wanted to go. “Not too hot.”

“Good,” Yoongi replied, taking a drink of his coffee instead of just staring at Taehyung’s lips.

“I have class in fifteen minutes,” Taehyung fretted, glancing in the direction he was going to have to walk to get there. “I can’t hang out now…”

“I know,” Yoongi assured him. “I just wanted to bring it to you between your classes.”

Taehyung’s eyes softened as they looked at him, and Yoongi shrugged, heat creeping up the back of his neck.

“Thank you,” Taehyung told him earnestly, and Yoongi shrugged again.

“It’s fine,” he said, trying not to get hypnotized by the gentle way Taehyung was watching him. “It’s whatever.”

“Yeah, but still,” Taehyung insisted, grinning again and grabbing for Yoongi’s hand to squeeze. “Thanks.”

Before Yoongi could try to brush off the thanks again, Taehyung was leaning in for a half hug, that was more winter coats brushing together than anything, before stepping back.

“I’ll see you at dinner?” Taehyung said, beaming at Yoongi and leaving him a little breathless even though he hadn’t even moved in the last, like, five minutes.

“Yeah, dinner,” Yoongi agreed, returning Taehyung’s wave and watching him walk away.

He didn’t need to stand there until Taehyung was out of sight, he reminded himself, no matter how sunk he was. Because it was fucking cold and his toes were starting to go numb.

He was really, really sunk though. Really sunk.

But he was okay with that.

 

---

 

“It’s getting pretty cold out,” Seokjin was saying, gesturing with the beer in his hand and making Namjoon wince when the liquid nearly sloshed out and onto his bed. “We could probably just have someone stand outside with their dick out for a certain amount of time, and that would do it.”

“I mean, yeah, that would work,” Hoseok allowed, nose scrunched in distaste. “But do we really need to have a dick freezing dare?”

Yes!” Seokjin exclaimed. “I have put so much thought into it!”

“But why,” Yoongi deadpanned, quirking a judgmental brow at Seokjin and watching as Seokjin flapped around enough in response that Namjoon stood up to take his beer away from him.

“Because it has become a personal challenge!” Seokjin insisted, trying to make a grab for his beer.

“I have a lot more questions, but I feel that it’s best if we don’t go down this rabbit hole any further,” Yoongi said with a put-upon sigh. “Like why it’s become a personal challenge, for example.”

“Because-” Seokjin started, but Yoongi held a hand up.

“I don’t want to investigate further,” Yoongi emphasized, smirking as he took a sip of his beer and catching a snickering Taehyung’s eye.

“How was I ever the resident pervert?” Hoseok groused. “At least I don’t fixate on everyone’s dicks.”

“I am not the resident pervert!” Seokjin yelped, turning on Hoseok who was propped against the headboard. “I am not! I am just making a dare!”

“I already said I’d be the resident pervert,” Jimin said casually, stretching his arms over his head and yawning. “I don’t have a problem with fixating on dicks.”

Taehyung nearly snorted juice out his nose as he laughed, and Seokjin relaxed, seeming placated.

“Yes, see?” Seokjin said primly. “That’s Jimin’s job. I’m just doing God’s work.”

Hoseok nearly fell off the bed he was laughing so hard, and Taehyung was just a shaking mass as he bent over and cackled against the floor.

“God’s...work,” Taehyung wheezed, and Yoongi snorted out a laugh as Jimin giggled and leaned into Taehyung’s side.

“You are the strangest person that I know, Seokjin,” Namjoon announced, and Seokjin beamed, holding out his hands for his confiscated beer.

Namjoon shot him a look as he handed it back, like that would be enough to keep Seokjin from nearly spilling it again. But Yoongi suspected that there’d be another near incident within ten minutes. If Seokjin hadn’t downed the rest of the bottle by then.

“Oh, Taetae,” Jimin said, having gathered himself finally even though Taehyung was still hiccuping out occasional chuckles and dabbing at his eyes. “It’s ten already. Isn’t that when you said you wanted to leave?”

Deflating, Taehyung grabbed for Jimin’s wrist to check his watch even though he was wearing his own.

Taehyung groaned upon seeing the time and looked to Yoongi like he could do something.

“I might be god-like, but I can’t bend time,” Yoongi informed him, earning himself groans from almost everyone and a snicker from Taehyung.

“I don’t want to,” Taehyung whined, still looking at Yoongi. And yes, he was very cute, but Yoongi wasn’t about to encourage him to stay up when Taehyung had been adamant earlier about getting to bed at a decent time since he had to be up early to meet his physics study group.

Yoongi raised his eyebrows, and Taehyung sighed in defeat, flopping forward and pouting some more.

He really was too cute. It wasn’t Yoongi’s fault that his lips were turning up on their own accord as he watched fondly.

“Okay, okay,” Taehyung groaned, pushing himself onto his knees.

Yoongi reached out and patted Taehyung on the back placatingly, surprised when Taehyung turned to him and started to lean in like he was going to kiss him goodbye. He froze, though, before he went in for it, eyes wide as he looked at Yoongi’s face and then glanced up to realize that everyone was watching them.

It had been instinctual, Yoongi figured. If it had just been the two of them, obviously they’d kiss goodbye. But when they were all hanging out like this, that wasn’t something they did.

Probably because there were currently four pairs of eyes on them and they hadn’t even done anything.

Maybe Yoongi did it because he just wanted to make a point to their audienec who were gawking like them kissing was some huge deal. Maybe it was because Taehyung looked like he had committed some unforgivable faux pas. Or maybe Yoongi just wanted to kiss him.

Regardless, Yoongi found himself rolling his eyes at the whole situation as he easily hooked a hand around the back of Taehyung’s neck.

“For fuck’s sake,” he muttered before pulling Taehyung down to briefly connect their lips.

Taehyung looked shell shocked when Yoongi pulled back, the others all gaping at them.

Yoongi rolled his eyes again. “Happy?” he asked, addressing their onlookers.

“Yep,” Jimin chirped, probably approving of the happiness of his best friend.

Seokjin snorted, and Namjoon held his hands up in a way that Yoongi took to mean that he didn’t have a problem with whatever they wanted to do or not do.

Hoseok looked embarrassed, and Yoongi almost wanted to remind him that he’d seen them in a much more compromising state, but he opted not to because he didn’t really want to relive that either.

“Okay, I’m going,” Taehyung announced, standing up and shooting a sheepish little grin at Yoongi.

“Goodnight,” Yoongi offered, the others echoing the sentiment as Taehyung let himself out of Namjoon’s room to head back to his own.

Everyone was quiet for a moment after the door clicked shut behind him, and Yoongi felt his stomach starting to tie itself in knots. But no, it was fine. He was allowed to kiss Taehyung goodnight.

“Well, aren’t you Mr. Smooth Moves,” Seokjin said, breaking the silence, and Yoongi shot him the most judgmental look he was capable of.

“The next person to make unnecessary comments about that is definitely the resident pervert,” Yoongi informed the room at large, smirking when Hoseok’s eyes widened and Seokjin snapped his mouth closed.

“I thought it was nice,” Jimin said, and Namjoon burst out laughing.

“It’s official!” Namjoon announced, gesturing grandly to Jimin. “Pervert Jimin.”

“It already was official!” Hoseok insisted, and Jimin just beamed, sitting up a little straighter and preening under the attention.

And just like that, no one was even thinking about the kiss anymore.

Well, Yoongi was. And he imagined Taehyung was, too. But that was how it was supposed to be.

 

---

 

Yoongi found himself backed against the closed (and locked) door almost as soon as he’d let Taehyung into his room the next day. He’d barely gotten out a hi before Taehyung’s mouth had been on his, Taehyung’s coat on the floor and his body pressing warm against him.

“Physics get you worked up?” Yoongi teased when Taehyung pulled back to suck in a breath.

Giggling, Taehyung kissed him again, breath puffing against his lips when he answered.

“I just kept thinking about seeing you after,” Taehyung confessed, letting Yoongi pull him down and pour the warmth he felt in his chest into the kiss.

“Hope you studied too,” Yoongi joked, though he really did hope that. With finals the following week, it was getting down to the wire. But they’d both agreed that an hour or two spent together that day would do them good so they didn’t end up catatonically staring at their textbooks and absorbing nothing.

“I did,” Taehyung assured him with a chuckle, shivering when Yoongi pulled him in again and nipped at the tip of his tongue.

“Should we move to the bed?” Yoongi asked, not trying to be smooth, but if Taehyung was gonna be over him, kissing him, he’d rather they be horizontal. Because why stand up when you can lay down?

Taehyung nodded, stepping back and allowing Yoongi, with his fingers wrapped around his wrist, to lead him to the bed.

“Did it really not bother you last night?” Taehyung asked, sitting down next to Yoongi so their thighs were pressed together, but not leaning back in to reconnect their lips just yet.

“Hm?” Yoongi blinked, arousal already clouding his senses from having Taehyung against him seconds before.

“Kissing me last night,” Taehyung clarified, dark eyes searching Yoongi’s, though it was impossible to miss that he glanced down at Yoongi’s lips as well. “In front of everyone. I didn’t mean to go in for a kiss. I just…”

The shrug was sheepish, and Yoongi’s lips quirked as he rested a hand on Taehyung’s thigh and squeezed.

“It was a little scary,” Yoongi admitted, because there was no sense in lying and pretending that he had magically shaken off nineteen years of internalized homophobia and fear of judgment in two months. Taehyung knew it was a process. He understood that, especially because he was going through it in his own way, at his own pace. “But I mostly just wanted to kiss you, so I decided, fuck it.”

Taehyung smiled, fondness spilling over despite Yoongi’s less than romantic phrasing.

“I think…” Yoongi went on since they were on the subject and he’d been thinking about it. “At this point, doing stuff like that is still intimidating, but the idea of being controlled by my fear of what other people are going to think is a way scarier thought than anything else. I mean, just imagining that, had things gone differently, I could still be lying to myself and running away from the truth scares the shit out of me.”

Nodding, Taehyung scooted closer to rest his chin on Yoongi’s shoulder. It was pretty impossible to make eye contact that way, but the closeness was nice, and Yoongi felt himself relax.

“I liked it,” Taehyung added quietly a moment later, smiling shyly when Yoongi craned his head to look. “You don’t have to always do it, but...it was nice.”

“That’s what Jimin said,” Yoongi chuckled. “After you left. He said he thought it was nice.”

Taehyung snickered, grasping onto Yoongi’s bicep and burying his laughter in his shoulder.

“Did anyone else say anything?” he asked, more serious.

“Not really,” Yoongi shrugged. “Seokjin gave me some shit, but he didn’t mean anything bad by it. The topic got changed pretty quickly, and no one really seemed to care all that much.”

Taehyung hummed, smiling, and let Yoongi guide their mouths together again. It was good to be able to talk about those things, and make sure they were on the same page. But it was also nice to be able to kiss Taehyung and know that no one was going to interrupt them. And considering Taehyung was the one who pinned him to the door earlier, he felt it was safe to say that Taehyung was wanting just as much as he was.

In the weeks that had passed since they had first gotten off together, they had pretty much taken as many opportunities as they could to do that again. There had been many mutual handjobs, and a healthy amount of blowjobs as well. The latter had been intimidating to Yoongi since it wasn’t as though there was any way to practice that without just doing it. But Taehyung breathlessly asking him if he could suck Yoongi off with lust blown eyes and lips puffy from kissing hadn’t been something Yoongi wanted to say no to. And he wasn’t about to let Taehyung leave without returning the favor. Taehyung’s mouth was absolutely mind blowing, and though Yoongi knew his skills couldn’t compare just yet, Taehyung was certainly vocal about enjoying his attempts.

He was also very enthusiastic about offering his skills, which was why it wasn’t surprising that Yoongi ended up flat on his back with his pants and underwear around his thighs and Taehyung kneeling between his legs shortly after they’d resumed kissing.

The way Taehyung moaned as he took Yoongi in made Yoongi think that he enjoyed doing it as much as Yoongi enjoyed receiving it. Which was not something he would complain about. Knowing that sucking him off was turning Taehyung on just made Yoongi even hotter. And though he definitely liked returning the favor, he was also hung up on trying to get better, so he couldn’t lose himself in it the way Taehyung seemed to.

Fuck,” Yoongi choked out, trying and failing to spread his legs with his jeans in the way and threading his fingers through Taehyung’s hair. Just feeling Taehyung’s head bobbing with his hands in conjunction with the way his lips were sliding up and down his dick just made everything feel more intense. And fuck, Taehyung could take him in so far. It was like he didn’t even have a gag reflex. Though, when he’d voiced that thought out loud, Taehyung had assured him that he did.

Despite Taehyung’s tongue being devastatingly talented, Yoongi knew that just the knowledge that it was Taehyung between his legs was doing just as much to destroy him. And hearing Taehyung’s moans as he sealed his lips around him and pressed his tongue to the tip of his cock, like doing this for Yoongi was wrecking him too, had the pleasure nearly doubling.

Christ,” Yoongi rasped, hips tilting up and muscles trembling. “Taehyung, fuck. I’m-”

Body going still, Yoongi could feel himself pulse against Taehyung’s tongue as he released into his mouth and let out some gravelly, half choked moan with what breath he could gather.

With ringing ears and tingling fingers, Yoongi sobbed out an exhale, pleasure finally starting to ebb enough that he could breathe again while Taehyung’s tongue soothed against him before pulling his mouth away all together.

Taehyung’s lips were red and swollen when he crawled up the bed to squish against Yoongi’s side and kiss against his neck.

Fuck,” Yoongi groaned, dragging a hand over his face and feeling the smile Taehyung pressed against his skin. “Jesus. You are unfairly good at that.”

“Who’s it unfair to?” Taehyung giggled, kissing Yoongi’s mouth when he turned to look at him.

The first time Taehyung had blown him, he’d hesitated before even trying to go in for a kiss. But after he’d realized that Yoongi didn’t mind the taste of himself on Taehyung’s tongue- kinda really liked it, actually- he liked to pour every bit of want he was feeling after getting Yoongi off into a kiss.

“Me,” Yoongi croaked out when Taehyung pulled back with a wet smack. “I don’t know if I can ever get that good.”

Taehyung snorted at that, nosing along beside Yoongi’s ear and kissing against his jaw.

“You already are,” Taehyung breathed against his skin, and though Yoongi disagreed, he decided that it wasn’t worth it to argue his still-lacking, in his opinion, oral skills.

Instead, he decided to go about his quest to better his getting-Taehyung-off skills in a different way.

“Is there anything you want me to do?” he asked, yanking up his underwear with one hand while shoving down his jeans with the other. “Anything you do for yourself or anything you’ve thought about?”

When he flopped back down after kicking off his jeans, Taehyung was biting his lower lip nervously.

Yoongi raised his eyebrows. “Well?”

“Uhm,” he started, flushing as Yoongi watched him. “There’s one thing...well, I mean, I think about lots of things. But when I get myself off, sometimes…”

Yoongi thought his eyebrows were probably defying laws of gravity as he waited for Taehyung to finish his thought.

“SometimesIfingermyself,” Taehyung rushed to say, teeth digging into his lower lip as soon as he’d gotten the words out.

It took a second for Yoongi to decipher that, but when he did, his mind immediately provided him with a visual that had want shooting through him so fast, his head spun.

“Shit,” he croaked, and when Taehyung still looked worried, he added, “fuck, that’s hot.”

Taehyung gusted out a breath, though he was still blushing when he accepted the kiss Yoongi pressed to his lips, tongues tangling briefly before Yoongi pulled away again.

“What do you think about when you do it?” Yoongi asked, voice rough even though he’d already gotten off moments before.

“Lately? You,” Taehyung admitted, and Yoongi could hear his own pulse in his ears. “I pretend it’s your fingers. Or...your cock.”

“Jesusfuckingchrist, Taehyung,” Yoongi groaned, kissing him again. “You can’t tell me that after you get me off.” Because he could feel his body getting interested again, and that had to be some sort of a record.

“I could get you off again,” Taehyung offered, looking a bit sheepish, but mostly just pleased that he could affect Yoongi so much.

“Uh-uh,” Yoongi argued, rolling over and making room for Taehyung to lay down flat. “Your turn.”

With Taehyung’s help, he managed to get Taehyung’s underwear and pants off and on the floor before he dipped down to take Taehyung into his mouth.

Taehyung’s moan was loud, hips jerking up so Yoongi had to pull back a bit so he didn’t get choked. But fuck, he loved knowing how much Taehyung liked this- how good he was making him feel.

Working his mouth around Taehyung’s length, Yoongi reveled in Taehyung’s gasps and moans. But he couldn’t stop picturing Taehyung touching himself- sliding his fingers inside and thinking about Yoongi fucking him. God, just the thought was wrecking him, so Yoongi slid a hand beneath his boxers to get a hand around himself and ease the ache that had started to become distracting.

He didn’t know what he was doing, hadn’t ever even tried by himself, but he couldn’t get it out of his head. Gently pressing his fingers to Taehyung’s inner thigh, Yoongi slid his hand up, not wanting the touch to be a shock. But when Taehyung’s legs trembled open further with a press of Yoongi’s fingers, Yoongi let his knuckles drag lightly over the skin behind Taehyung’s balls.

Taehyung shivered, thigh muscles clenching as his hips rocked. Pulling his mouth back from Taehyung’s cock so he could see what he was doing, Yoongi caught Taehyung’s eye. He looked so completely wrecked that it sent a shudder through him.

“This okay?” he asked, and Taehyung nodded, eyes so, so dark and wanting.

In what Yoongi was sure was a very unsexy manner, he spit onto his fingers before touching the pad of his index finger to Taehyung’s entrance and-

Taehyung jolted, muscles spasming under Yoongi’s touch, as Taehyung sharply exhaled against a whine.

Pressing the tip of his finger in, Yoongi leaned back over to take Taehyung back in his mouth, arousal spiking through him at the broken moan Taehyung let out. Yoongi wrapped a hand back around himself, rocking into his own touch, as he sealed his lips around Taehyung’s length and carefully slid his finger further in.

Oh fuck,” Taehyung sobbed out above him, Yoongi’s dick pulsing in his hand in response, as he held onto the back of Yoongi’s head.

Pressing his tongue tight against the shaft as he sucked, Yoongi felt the way Taehyung’s body clamped down around his finger.

“Fuck, fuck. I can’t- ooh.”

Yoongi kept up the suction but pulled back enough that Taehyung’s release wouldn’t hit the back of his throat, finger still only halfway in and barely able to move with how tightly Taehyung’s body was gripping it- muscles squeezing and fluttering around it and making Yoongi groan as he imagined what that would feel like around his cock.

Swallowing, Yoongi pulled back, one hand still jacking himself off because holyshit.

Taehyung, panting and pliant on the bed, was so fuckong gorgeous and he’d just come for him and-

“Come up here,” Taehyung murmured, voice unsteady and so sinfully deep.

His eyes were still wet from his orgasm as he looked at Yoongi, and Yoongi hissed out a breath as he crawled over him to brace his free hand above Taehyung’s shoulder.

Taehyung replaced the hand Yoongi had around himself with his own as he kissed him sloppily. Taehyung was still catching his breath and Yoongi was shaking apart, so it was more of a messy slide of lips than anything else, but it still had Yoongi’s pulse spiking as Taehyung worked his hand around him. He was already so worked up from getting Taehyung off, hearing and feeling him come, and the fact that Taehyung fingered himself and imagined it was Yoongi fucking him. And of course Yoongi couldn’t get that out of his head now, either. He was so, so close, and after just a few strokes of Taehyung’s warm palm, he was shuddering and shooting onto Taehyung’s hip, a choked gasp muffled against Taehyung’s neck.

Flopping down next to Taehyung in the small amount of space available in his single bed, Yoongi sighed- exhausted, satisfied, and still a little turned on by the prospect of fucking Taehyung at some unspecified time in the future. They’d work up to it.

Yoongi was also curious about what it would be like to have Taehyung fuck him, but one thing at a time. They would have plenty of opportunities to investigate all of that.

For the time being, his limbs felt like jelly and all he wanted to do was close his eyes for a well deserved nap.

“Aren’t we supposed to be studying?” Taehyung mused after another minute during which Yoongi had started to doze.

Fuuck,” Yoongi groaned, pressing his face against Taehyung’s bicep, and keeping his eyes closed.

Taehyung laughed, shaking them both on the small bed.

“Wanna nap,” Yoongi grumbled even though his shirt was sticking to him with drying sweat.

“You can nap after finals,” Taehyung teased, and Yoongi pinched his hip, cackling when he yelped and flailed enough that Yoongi was nearly knocked onto the floor.

But at least he was awake.

“If we both get enough done today, maybe I can come over again tomorrow,” Taehyung offered pragmatically.

And fine. That was reasonable.

That didn’t mean Yoongi didn’t complain as he got up and changed his shirt, still muttering about the injustice of it all as he watched Taehyung pull his pants back on and start for the door.

“Stop whining,” Taehyung laughed, jumping back to avoid the swipe Yoongi made at him before darting forward and pressing a sweet kiss to Yoongi’s lips.

Yoongi tried his best to glare, but it was really hard when Taehyung was beaming at him, tips of his hair still sweaty and lips coming down one more time on his own.

“Study hard!” he trilled, snickering at the possible innuendo as Yoongi half-heartedly rolled his eyes.

Having time to see Taehyung the next day was motivation, anyway, Yoongi thought as he sat down at his desk after closing the door behind Taehyung.

It took a moment to get his mind away from Taehyung’s red-bitten lips, but he managed.

Mostly.

 

---

 

“This is not how anything was supposed to happen!” Seokjin protested for perhaps the thirtieth time as they all trudged outside in the cold.

It was the last day of finals, and all of them had finished their classes for the semester. The next day, Hoseok and Jimin were flying out to their respective hometowns for winter vacation, Seokjin was driving home and Taehyung was getting picked up the day after, and Yoongi and Namjoon were getting picked up on Monday.

Winter vacation was four weeks long, and while it would be heavenly to have that time off from studying and papers and assignments, it sounded like ages to go without seeing Taehyung. Yoongi hated how soft he was being, thinking that, but Taehyung had been making sad faces at him for the past day and a half, so at least he wasn’t the only one feeling that way. Still, he knew that four weeks, in the grand scheme of things, was not that long. It would be fine.

Yoongi probably wouldn’t spend all four weeks at home, anyway. Last year, he’d gone stir-crazy around the two and a half week mark, and had come back to campus to work on compositions and relax after the holidays. Taehyung said he’d try to come back early, too, but Yoongi knew it was likely his family would want him to stick around for the whole vacation.

Speaking of Taehyung’s family, Yoongi was slated to meet Taehyung’s mom when she came to pick Taehyung up. Taehyung said she was really excited, and not scary at all. Yoongi was mildly freaking out about it, overthinking absolutely everything, but he trusted that Taehyung was telling the truth. Besides, parents really did usually love him.

What Yoongi was much more worried about was telling his own family. He knew they’d come around. He knew they wouldn’t disown him or anything, and for that, he was grateful. There were people who had it much, much worse. But it was still intimidating as hell. There was a chance he wouldn’t tell them this trip home. Maybe there wouldn’t be a good moment. Maybe Yoongi wasn’t ready. But he wanted to tell them. He wanted to get it over with as much as he wanted to just be honest and upfront about who he was. So, that was hanging over his head, but ultimately, telling them would be a good thing. It would be a huge step forward, and Yoongi was all about moving forward, these days.

“I feel so betrayed!” Seokjin hollered, and Namjoon just smiled serenely. “I’m not supposed to be the one freezing my dick off!”

“I dunno,” Yoongi said, nudging Seokjin with his shoulder as they walked. “Seems like all the talking you did about it was asking for it.”

Nooo,” Seokjin scowled. “I was gonna be the one to dare someone else! This is all wrong!”

“I think it’s the perfect way to end the semester,” Namjoon proclaimed, and Seokjin spun around narrowing his eyes.

You,” he seethed. “You just had to steal the dare I masterminded and turn it around on me!”

“It’s literally standing outside with your dick out,” Hoseok pointed out. “I don’t know how much masterminding really-”

“My greatest weapon, turned against me!” Seokjin wailed, hands over his heart.

Jimin snickered. “What do you think for right over there?” he asked, pointing to a large tree near the shadowed side of the administration building. It was late enough that there shouldn’t have been many people in the building, and the tree would shield him from the sidewalk.

Campus was pretty dead, anyway- most students probably collapsed in exhaustion in their dorm rooms after finishing finals.

“Just stand with your back to the sidewalk,” Jimin suggested.

“I have the worst life and the worst friends-” Seokjin was complaining, though no one was really listening. He’d been whining for the past hour.

“Here, lemme see…” Taehyung jogged away from the rest of them and stood on the sidewalk. “All good!” he called, coming back and giving two gloved thumbs up. “Can’t see anything from there.”

“Ready?” Namjoon asked.

“Does it have to be three whole minutes?”

“It was gonna be five,” Namjoon reminded him, and Seokjin grumbled some more. “Ready?”

“Yeah,” Seokjin groaned.

“Okay,” Namjoon said, looking at his watch. “Three, two-”

“How do we know he’s actually doing it?” Hoseok asked. “I mean, he’s facing away from us. He could totally just stand there and pretend.”

“Do you want to check?” Namjoon questioned.

“No,” Hoseok quickly said, taking a step back and holding his hands up.

“No fucking way,” Yoongi scoffed when Hoseok and Namjoon turned to him. “It was your dare,” he said to Namjoon.

“That does seem fair,” Hoseok agreed.

“Seriously?” Namjoon complained, and Seokjin cackled.

“Not the reality youwanted either, huh?” he taunted.

“Okay, whatever,” Namjoon huffed. “Let’s just do this so we can all go inside. It’s cold.”

“How do you think I feel?” Seokjin squawked.

 

“Okay,” Namjoon said again, shuffling so he was just far enough that he’d be able to see if Seokjin was actually doing the dare. “Three, two, one…”

The sound of unzipping could be heard, along with a hiss from Seokjin.

“It’s fucking cold!” he yelped.

“He’s doing it,” Namjoon said on a sigh, walking back to where the rest of them were standing and looking as though ten years had been taken off his life from having had to chaperone Seokjin’s dick.

“Oh my god this was a terrible idea,” Seokjin whined. “So cold, so cold, so cold…”

He bounced on his heels and immediately stopped. “Nope! That was a mistake.”

Jimin snickered, and Taehyung listed into Yoongi’s side as he laughed.

“Isn’t the time up yet? Oh my god, what if it falls off?”

“Minute and a half left,” Namjoon informed him.

“Probably won’t fall off,” Yoongi added with a shrug.

“Gee, thanks, I feel so much better now!” Seokjin groused, and Taehyung held on tight to Yoongi’s arm as he cackled.

“So, guys,” Hoseok said, turning to them all with a smile. “It’s been a great semester!”

“How dare you!” Seokjin yelled. “How dare you happily reminisce while I lose the ability to have children!”

“You’re not going to lose the ability to have children,” Namjoon told him blandly.

“It has been fun,” Jimin agreed. “I’m glad we all started hanging out.”

Taehyung nodded enthusiastically, and Hoseok was beaming, probably still proud that he’d brought them all together.

Yoongi was actually a little surprised that Hoseok hadn’t taken credit for his and Taehyung’s relationship yet. Surely, he was just waiting for the right time to gloat about that.

“Me too,” Namjoon added as Yoongi nodded, catching Taehyung beaming at him in his periphery.

“I’m not!” Seokjin yelled. “Everything is awful and my dick is cold and-”

“Time’s up,” Namjoon interrupted, and Seokjin practically yelped with the news, presumably putting his dick back in his pants.

“Oh my god it’s so cold! I think I killed it! Somebody fix it!” Seokjin lamented, turning back around and holding his hands over his crotch even though he was all tucked away.

“I volunteer?” Jimin offered, laughing and raising his hand.

Seokjin paused, blinking at Jimin. “My dick is so cold, I nearly said yes.”

Jimin cackled, smacking Seokjin on the back.

“Just let me know if you change your mind,” he told him, but Seokjin was already hastening back toward the dorms and yelling about heating pads and impotence.

“You guys wanna watch a movie?” Namjoon asked, hands is his pockets as they all started back toward the dorms.

“Uh,” Taehyung said, shooting a quick glance at Yoongi.

They did have a reward of sorts planned for finishing finals week. Though it was pretty early still.

“As long as it isn’t super long,” Yoongi said with a shrug. He might’ve declined in favor of having Taehyung to himself sooner, but it was the last night all of them would be together until the end of January. It would be nice to be able to hang out with everyone sans finals stress before they all went their separate ways.

“Got plans?” Hoseok teased, and Yoongi shrugged.

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” he said easily, lips pulling up in a smirk.

Jimin waggled his brows at them before he turned to Namjoon. “What are we gonna watch?”

“Please no horror movies!” Hoseok jumped in.

Yoongi smiled to himself as he watched his friends playfully bicker over what they should watch, feeling pretty damn content with his life.

He watched his shadow stretch in front of him from the sun dipping in the sky, Taehyung’s shadow bobbing along right beside it.

“Hey!” Yoongi exclaimed, feeling hot breath puff against the back of his neck. “Taehyung, what’re you doing?”

Taehyung grinned, looking unapologetic. “Dunno. Breathing on you.”

“You’re so weird,” Yoongi griped, but they both knew he wasn’t actually annoyed.

“Wanna race back?” Taehyung asked, nearly bouncing as he walked.

“Not particularly,” Yoongi told him. “You know I hate running.”

“Aw, come on,” Taehyung cajoled, smiling at Yoongi and exuding excitement.

Yoongi was a sucker for Taehyung, and Taehyung knew it.

“Fine,” he sighed, and Taehyung beamed.

“Ready?” Taehyung said, stopping and holding Yoongi still too. “Set...go!”

They both took off, speeding past their friends and probably leaving them perplexed. Yoongi really wasn’t known for sudden bursts of activity.

Taehyung was edging him out, but his legs were longer, so that was no surprise. Yoongi wasn’t broken up about it.

When Taehyung made it to the door of Namjoon’s building, he turned around and grinned at Yoongi as he ran the last few yards.

Yoongi still hated running, but this was okay. Because this time, was running toward something. He wasn’t running away.