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we promised the world we'd tame it

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his hands tremble and quiver, fingers jostling at the mere sight of jimin's body. there's a pit opening in his stomach and it's being filled with every lewd thought he ever had about jimin in the times he would watch the older throw his head back to laugh (neck exposed waiting to be bruised) or finish off the last of his ice cream (tongue swiping over his lips and the corner of his mouth, sweet). 

taehyung continues sliding his palms flat over jimin's stomach, shaping out his curves and memorizing the rhythm of his skin into the grooves of his grip. a shudder breaks from jimin, breaths still coming out high and broken. "hurry up."

taehyung looks at him again. 

not at his body, not at the way he's lying on the cold bathroom floor, not at his hair which is swept up from all the sweat and motion. he looks at him. at jimin. at his bright eyes and expectant smile, at the red plumpness of his lips, at the pink over his cheeks. 

he smiles. he shudders himself. "i don't want to."

jimin wriggles his hips a little then. kicking out a visual to aid to his own frustration. he needs this, he's saying. they both do. and they waited too fucking long and the time to do it is now. hurry up, taehyung hears him say again even though he does.

hurry up. 

"jimin," he ends up saying in a whisper long after he's exhausted himself of tasting everything jimin had to offer. from his sweat to his spit to the slick between his legs: kiwi lubrication. he hovers over the older and makes multiple mental notes of every single expression that crosses jimin's face. from the short confusion to the short intrigue to the long, long desire. "i've wanted this for so long. too long. i'm not about to let it end in five minutes."

jimin smiles at that.

he's amused. not yet touched and not yet in love. just amused. he shakes his head and flips them over gently. "we'll go slow then."

thinking of anything but physical sensation becomes impossible. jimin kisses feverish and panicked and rushed, tongue everywhere at once. the similarities between jimin and himself have always been minimal and have many ends but one that taehyung notes in this moment is that jimin's patience about as thin as the character development in michael bay movies. 

already stretched out and wet from taehyung's need to drag out foreplay for as long as it can go, jimin wastes no time ripping open a condom and rolling it down taehyung's shaft before settling down onto him slowly. he whimpers when he bottoms out and his eyes fall shut, mouth falling open further, head falling back, neck stretched out. he reaches heaven. for a moment, it's completely still. taehyung's skin prickles with anticipation, his attention solely on the way jimin feels around him. so much so that he barely hears the music blaring from the other room, only hearing the soft exhalations both of them share. 

their breaths mingle in one as jimin starts to move and taehyung gets the signal that he can raise his hips to meet him. they move slow and in tandem, the slow drag makes taehyung's toes curl and his eyes roll back. when their eyes aren't closed or fluttering, they're on each other. that contact builds up a heat that doesn't compare to the burn of liquor or jimin's own toe curling warmth. it's heat that electrifies the air right down to a single atom. 

it happens like that. their first time. jimin rides him until he's on the edge and taehyung meets him with equal desperation. happens like taehyung jerking him off desperately until his cum is caked on taehyung's ribcage. even through the exhausted state his orgasm leaves him in, jimin rides him weakly, chasing out the orgasm that he doesn't get right away. because jimin is impatient when it comes to himself but, goodness, does he like to tease. when he does finally come, he grips jimin's hips hard that the skin turns white and cries into his mouth, spilling curses and praises onto his skin. 

in the midst of ecstasy, before coming down from his high, he hears jimin murmur something he can't make out but doesn't get a chance to clarify. he opens his mouth with the intention to ask but all that comes out is his drawn out moan. then jimin's breaths fluttering against his lips stop sounding like whispers and start blaring out some 8-bit version of a well known song.

taehyung wakes up to soaked sheets and cold, cold realization. he's an adult. he's had wet dreams before and he's no stranger to it. but typically when he wakes up from a dream like that, he can barely remember what it was that made him come in the first place. 

but this dream is etched into him.

because it's not a dream, it's a memory. and he's never been more confused. he groans at his groin, ridiculing the dark stain on his lilac bedsheets and tries to remember what it was his father told him the first time he asked him why he sometimes woke up to it. 

'it's normal,' his father had said. 'there's nothing to be ashamed of. throw it in the washer and move on.'

after reaching for his phone charging on the other side of the room and turning off the alarm, he starts the routine he hasn't had to do in a long time. as he balls up the sheets along with his sweatpants, he thinks about the dreams he's been having for the past few weeks. ever since he joined a trial study for some new synthetic drug, offering his body up to an experimentation in exchange for some pocket money. 

it had been jeongguk's idea. 

when taehyung mentioned the dire but not so dire need for some extra cash, jeongguk mentioned a flyer he had seen in the subway one night: USE YOUR BODY FOR SCIENCE. he said he'd asked all of his friends, that it was legit, and that, as far as past experiments went, no one had been hurt as even their trial runs were damn near kfda approved. it was safe, extra money, and would make taehyung's resume look way more interesting than everyone else in his major. 

for the first few weeks, they took notes of taehyung's overall state. they made notes on his physical qualities, his mental health, his emotional stability. then they started giving him the pills. his only job was to take one each morning and record his experiences each day before the weekly check up. the pills, he'd noticed straight away, weren't addictive or pleasurable in any way. he felt nothing. not a dose more energized, not a dose more lethargic. the only thing that changed were his dreams.

whereas in the past they were distant and soft, blown out like an old imaged that can't be focused no matter what new technology comes by, now his dreams were so vivid they were lucid. like he was living them. like he'd lived them. every dream was drenched in familiarity. he knew what he would say before he said it, knew what would happen before it did. they were dreams but they weren't. 

memories, he'd written down in his notes after the first pill. i'm dreaming memories. 

 

 

 

trial one  

"hey," jeongguk snaps his fingers in front of taehyung's face, jolting the older from his stupor and setting him in the forefront of reality. 

jeongguk looks tired but content, hair mussed and mouth a little too pink. he looks ravished and ransacked but utterly high on life. taehyung tilts his head, swirls around the cold cafe au lait in his short white paper cup. "hey, yourself. i like your new look."

a laugh escapes jeongguk's throat. it sounds different from his usual laughs. it's light and it's warm like there's nothing weighing down his chest, settling between his lungs to make breathing a difficulty. he waves a hand at the barista behind the counter when they call out his drink and turns to taehyung before going to retrieve it: "seokjin kissed me."

as the young one trots off to retrieve whatever sugary sweet poor excuse for a coffee monstrosity he's ordered now, taehyung considers the revelation. for years, jeongguk had done a good job of dancing for seokjin, jumping through hoops while balancing succulent sweets for his eldest friend. he ran before seokjin could even ask him to and didn't scare off any suitors as much as he made them the smallest amount of hesitant. 

no one, including jeongguk, thought anything would happen. everyone believed he, though his efforts were obvious and sincere, was cursed to be seen as a sweet little brother for all of his life. but even so, taehyung could tell the feelings didn't travel down a one way street. 

sometimes when seokjin didn't think anyone was looking, he smiled at jeongguk with the kind of fondness that makes people want to jump the gun and get married no matter how much they don't believe in it. part of taehyung thinks he should be surprised about it but a bigger part of him is too busy swimming in a pool of his own 'i told you so's'. 

when jeongguk sits back down, he's still smiling.

"well?" taehyung prods. "you know you're dying to give me the details so just do it already."

he shifts then, doing his best to come off as more aloof than he is. "it was simple, really. i was helping him with one of his assignments -- he had a monologue he wanted to practice for. and he leaned over to kiss me."

"and you're sure the kiss wasn't just in the script he's reading from?"

jeongguk nods. "it's from a film noir movie. hays' code. no kissing allowed. that was all him."

"good for you," taehyung utters without thinking completely. his mind is still stuck on his memories. they're stuck on jimin, on loop like a terrible ear worm of a song. "is he as good a kisser as you made him out to be?"

"better," jeongguk's eyes fall closed. he's reminiscing just like taehyung, only his memories are closer, barely escaping his grasp. "and he's handsy."

taehyung chuckles. "match made in heaven then."

"what's wrong with you?" jeongguk tilts his head. "you're not...i don't know, you're talking weird."

"talking weird?"

"talking less. which is weird. for you."

taehyung nods. 

someone else has noticed it. if he wasn't so stuck in the memories, he'd probably be excited because he's been noticing it for the past few weeks. the memories, the sequences of events playing out over in his mind again and again and again has made him quieter than usual. there's something off about these memories, upsetting in more ways than just one. it stunts him. "i know," he agrees. 

jeongguk raises a brow. "you know? that's all?"

"yeah. i'm not sure why. i just feel out of it lately..."

the words don't come out completely. they get lower and lower until they fade into obscurity and it's almost like taehyung was never speaking in the first place. his attention has been taken by someone walking past the cafe window. black letterman jacket, red hoodie underneath, black pants, red shoes. black, red, black, red, black. 

taehyung sees blood for a moment that barely lasts a moment. 

he knows that figure. 

he knows the perfect set of shoulders and the clean posture, the certain walk with the uncertain step. he knows it well. in his mind, jimin smiles at him again. amused and aroused. but not yet in love. taehyung's body tenses up and jeongguk, ever perceptive, notices right away. he follows his gaze, standing slightly from his seat to look out the window and at the retreating figure. 

he frowns at taehyung when he sits back down. "what is it?"

taehyung blinks at him. 

"i don't..." he nods after jimin's figure has disappeared. not turned a corner or entered another building. disappeared. faded into the city like nothing. "i don't know. nothing."

after watching him for a few more minutes, likely weighing out whether he should say what he's about to say, jeongguk takes the first sip of his drink. then he smiles again. "they're really fucking with you down at the lab, huh?"

"it's not bad. first week they had me run on a treadmill for about a half hour and kept taking notes on my breathing. what that has to do with how i respond to the drugs, i have no idea."

"if you don't know that just means you wouldn't get past the first stage in becoming a medical major."

taehyung adjusts himself in his chair and scratches his head, messing up his hair but not finding it in him to give a crap. mostly he's just trying to shake out the memories and that heavy feeling in the pit of his stomach. it's exhausting, feeling this distracted and not having a reason. "are all doctors this prideful or is it just you?"

"it's a requirement. be in good academic standing, have some experience with volunteering in hospitals, and be cocky as fuck."

"that makes you and seokjin soulmates, doesn't it?"

jeongguk rolls his eyes and scoffs like he's annoyed but the rouge brushing along his cheeks and the suddenly dreamy expression makes it evident that the mere thought of being seokjin's anything gets him giddy. 

"shut up."

 

the flyer jeongguk had handed him was a plain white sheet with gray images, black letters that spelled out "opportunity like no other" and "money guaranteed". the sign alone had been cryptic and left more questions than answers. it wasn't until the two of them called themselves and did more research that they even knew what it was for.

("we're researching any aversive affects to zestra. zestra is a drug we've been working on for quite some time, it focuses, we hope, on a cure for alzheimers'."

"alzheimers?" jeongguk repeated before taehyung added his own ounce of incredulousness. 

"shouldn't you be using lab rats that are...a little older?"

there was a pause. then:

"since we're still in the beginning stages of perfecting it, we think it best to have a person of your age test out the first phases because, should anything go wrong, your body can repair itself faster. it's simply a trial.")

now as taehyung sits in front of the young woman in charge of the session, he feels much more familiar. the light grey/violet shade of her hair looks like it shouldn't be permitted, contrasts greatly against the stark white minimalism of everything else. but a few weeks meeting here and discussing the trivialities of the medication has solidified the fact, not the perception, that she practically invented professionalism. 

from what taehyung's seen anyway, it's her who runs the entire thing. 

as roa types something onto her desktop, logging in new information on taehyung's progress, she offers him a short smile. "tell me about your dreams, taehyung."

for a second, he considers replying with something brief and punchy like how he's always wanted to be a firefighter. but he's been to enough sessions to know that roa means the dreams that plague him at night. the one's he's noted several times as being "too lucid".

he blushes a little at the mention of it. looks down at his lap. fumbles with his thumbs. "it was a sex dream this time."

roa smirks at that. "still a memory?"

"yeah," taehyung swallows down the knot in his throat. "me and some guy i used to know. our first time together."

"how was it?"

when taehyung looks up, roa is looking back at him, eyes piercing hard into him too intensely. taehyung shrugs. "good enough for me to dream about it, i guess."

she hums. "still lucid. still memories. is there anything that's changed about the dreams?"

taehyung shakes his head. "not really. they're becoming more focused, i think. on a particular set of memories. before i got random things. like my mother teaching me how to ride a bike or my first day at university."

"and now they're all about this guy, right? first-time guy?"

"somewhat."

somewhat means yes.

taehyung has been dreaming about jimin every day since the second time he took a dosage. he's dreamt about ice skating with him, the two of them falling over each other and holding each other up on shaky arms. he's dreamt about them talking and laughing, about their picnic dates and overt pda. everything earlier were just snippets of moments. but lately they've been scenes, whole conversations stretched out in real time instead of dream time. they've been getting longer and longer.

"you know...a fun fact about dreams is that it's pretty much impossible for a person to dream of someone they haven't met. even if you don't recognize the face in your dream, it's always one that you've seen before in real life."

"...is that fun? or is it just a fact?"

"you caught me. typically, if you keep having the same dream or consistent dreams of a specific person, it means there's something--"

"--that i haven't let go of," taehyung finishes. he knows the story, knows the consensus. namjoon has told it to him over a million times. "i've been told that."

looking half humored, she asks: "have you?"

he can tell that roa is waiting for him to go into detail and explain more. but he can't. that chapter of his life is over. jimin is over. 

"that's all," he says.

 

"i want this to work," jimin says to him in the middle of the night. the two of them are strewn out against the canvas white blankets and feeling for parts of each other they still haven't discovered yet. 

taehyung doesn't open his eyes, too sated and too exhausted to properly lean up. he just pulls himself closer into jimin's side, nuzzling his cheek against jimin's stomach and inhaling his scent. he hums. "i hadn't realized it wasn't."

jimin takes a deep breath. he breathes the right way, his stomach ballooning outward instead of his shoulders rising up. his fingers find their way into taehyung's hair, dance their way into his scalp and settle onto a single lock. 

"you know what i mean."

"do i?"

taehyung inhales deeply then. he breathes the wrong way. shoulders lifting, stomach going in. jimin always tells him it doesn't help his anxiety, breathing like that. a baby, he tells him, you've got to do it like a baby. his mouth finds jimin's bellybutton and he presses a wet kiss to it. 

"i care about you," he murmurs. a phrase that can be said in fewer words. three words to be specific. but taehyung doesn't like to make things real when he isn't ready for reality and jimin likes the allure of neverland. "that's what matters."

he feels jimin agree. there's no shift in the older's posture, no shift in the atmosphere, no feeling that he has to lift his head. but he can feel jimin agree. the feeling is deep inside of him and loud like the final horn. he feels jimin's fingers curl into his hair, caress his roots gently. "yeah," he whispers back. "i care about you too."

call him a schoolboy, like he's still seventeen years old, but taehyung only ever wants to sleep for days after an especially  vigorous ride. his stamina is good, great even. sometimes it's him asking jimin if he wants to go again and not the other way around. but tonight, his body is spent. the fight they had had days before was already weighing down on his shoulders, all of it coalescing and coming down with an angry round of make up sex did nothing to help. along with relief, there's exhaustion.

he's close to sleep. 

then jimin says: "what's a simpler way to say that?"

"say what?"

"that we care about each other?" when taehyung doesn't respond, leaving him hanging for much too long, jimin tries again. "you don't wanna be in a relationship with me, do you?"

fatigue becomes a background figure in taehyung's mind as his eyes slowly open and adjust to the dark. not again. they can't have this fight again. if taehyung were being absolutely honest, there isn't a lot to fight about. there's no need to argue or fuss, to talk over each other at high volumes, or plead for a different perception. 

jimin shifts, gently nudges taehyung from his stomach and sits up. "i should go."

"no--"

"really," jimin starts getting dressed, pulling on his pants. completely forgetting about his underwear in his stupor. "i'm wasting your time and mine. it's stupid to even think..."

"think what?"

jimin stills for a second. taehyung watches his bare back, the dimples in his lower back, counts each breath he takes. "nothing."

the knot in taehyung's throat, the one that's always there, thickens and he forces himself to swallow it down. he notes, without tearing his eyes away from jimin, the sheets in disarray, the flicker of his bedside lamp, the pure pointlessness of all existence. "i love you."

"you can't just say that."

"but that's the answer, isn't it? that's the simpler way to say i care about you. plus, it's true."

jimin turns around, crewneck still forgotten in his grip, upper half still exposed and beautiful. he sighs. 

"you can't just say that," he repeats.

"i'm not. i love you, i do. i have since the moment i met you. the very second you looked at me, i knew it."

the best thing about being with jimin is that jimin could read him like a book, knew him better, often times, than he knew himself. it made their fights intense and real because they could always tell when the other person wasn't saying everything or when they were lying, little telltale signs like jimin avoiding eye contact or taehyung shrugging a lot. so when he says it, jimin knows. 

he knows.

it's real.

his shoulders sag. "all this time we spent fighting because you couldn't tell me that earlier?"

taehyung shakes his head slow. disbelief. fear. the mess he's about to dive into. 

"i was terrified."

jimin closes the space between them and goes in for a kiss--

taehyung shoots up from bed, heart racing and beating so wildly against his chest that if he didn't know any better he'd think he could get bruises. he clutches at his chest and tries to take in all the air he can without making his heart hurt even more. 

a dream, he tells himself. just a dream, just a dream.

so fucking vivid and real that it feels like he's there. he curls and uncurls his fingers, still feeling jimin on his palms. the thickness in his throat becomes more pronounced and he rips he sheets off and runs to the bathroom, crouching in front of the toilet. he opens his mouth and gags into the void. when nothing comes out, he jams his fingers down his throat. when nothing comes out then, he falls to the floor, the cool tiles easing his body heat. 

he lays there for a while. his breaths come out in spurts until they steady and smooth out and he feels like a full person again. he takes another deep shaky breath before peeling himself from the floor, going to the sink, and splashing himself with cold water. it quiets down. just him and his breathing. the dripping tap and his reflection.

his eyes are red and he, for someone whose practically identified for the golden hue of his skin, looks pale. he can't look at his reflection for long. he tears his eyes away and pinches the bridge of his nose. if he squeezes hard enough, maybe he could squeeze the dreams away. 

another shaky exhale.

a blurry image of jimin in his arms.

"okay," a stillness. "okay."

 

"you look like you didn't get any sleep."

when taehyung looks up from his note taking, the current lecture on the 1940s film noir and the hays code, hyejin is eyeing him. when hyejin looks at him -- at anyone -- it's always different. her eyes are intense, perceptive, kind of like she knows what you're thinking or what you're going to say before you say it or how the world ends. and she's just humoring you by asking. 

today, her eye make up is a dark purple. it somehow manages to make her look even more intimidating. 

taehyung looks back down at his notes. "these trials are intense."

"i thought you said the drugs were duds."

"they are. i mean, i don't feel anything when i take them. everything's the same. but when i go to sleep, it just..."

"funny dreams," she quips, turning back to the front of the room where their professor has paused sullivan's travels and is explaining the rise and fall of veronica lake. when hyejin speaks again, her voice is reminiscent of an old video made for health class. "have you woken up surrounded by a pool of your own pleasure? find out what it means on this edition of 'your body and you'."

"not those kind of dreams, you pervert."

"what kind then?"

taehyung shrugs. early this morning after he managed to get back to sleep for twenty minutes, he dreamt of jimin again. they were in a living room, one dimly lit with a few scant candles. an old song was playing, probably ella fitzgerald. and they were slow dancing. "just the past."

she looks back at him then and her eyes, the eyes that see and know everything, look sad. she smiles something small and too sympathetic. "you okay?"

"i'm fine."

he's not fine.

seeing jimin every night is killing him. hearing his voice next to his ear, feeling his fingers dance along taehyung's bare skin, the realness of it all is choking the life out of him. 

he can feel hyejin's gaze still. it's insistent. when he looks back at her, he notices her shirt for the first time. it's a white hoodie he recognizes as his brother's. he smiles. "you and hyung, huh?"

for a second, taehyung thinks he's had her, that there's a going to be a pink dusting over her cheeks but then she smiles. she tugs at the sleeves of namjoon's hoodie and wraps her arms around herself. even though she smiles like she not only knows everyone's secrets but like she has a secret of her own, she hums a note of disapproval"

"your ability to evade your own emotions is always impressive."

 

 

trial two

"you don't really get out much, do you?"

taehyung pockets the cash, this time it's 120,000. for some reason, he was given a bonus for the nightmares he had last week. they said it was just a courtesy tip but taehyung fears that the real reason is that the nightmares will get worse. and they don't want him to back out. at least not yet. 

he may be quiet lately and maybe namjoon is right about him having changed in the past few months, but being reserved doesn't mean his dumb. it doesn't mean he can't see what's around him and know what it is. when he first sat down in their waiting room and filled out an application, giving all the details of his health, they had told him they were trying to develop a drug that could help millions.

they never specified what it was for and taehyung didn't ask. as far as he was concerned, they could be dispelling a drug to kill all of mankind's white blood cells and he wouldn't really care. he hasn't cared about much of anything for months. 

when he looks up, roa is watching him behind her clipboard. "what gave it away?"

"it's funny," she crosses her arms. "you seem like a sociable person. like you've never had a boring day in your life. but you're like this."

"like this?"

she worries her lip. looks him up and down. the move should probably look sexual and make him feel unnerved but it doesn't. she's only analyzing him like she would a specimen under a microscope. "sad...what happened? what turned you into this person?"

taehyung looks at her, stares head on for a few moments. then he shrugs. "i thought i just had to tell you about the medicine. not my life story."

she nods.

"fair enough," she hands him the new prescription. he's got to hand it to them: the way they handle themselves is professional even if it is too cryptic to be comforting. they only ever give taehyung a dosage of seven small pills for the week, never giving him access to the full amount he'll be taking for the next couple of months. every week, he comes in, sits down, they examine is physiological state, take notes on his heart rate and brain waves, then sit him down and review his notes. then they send him home with cash and a new dosage. "please be as detailed as possible."

taehyung thumbs through the pages of his worn composition notebook where he's been keeping highlights of his own dreams: today, i dreamt about him again. we went to the park and variations thereof. "even if it's a sex dream."

"even if you come twice."

"tell me, honestly, am i gonna find everything i've written on the dark side of the no sleep thread on reddit one day?"

"as fun as that would be, you probably won't."

 

taehyung's friends are always pulling him to and from party after party, jello shot after lap dance after hilariously big bongs. since the bad break up, the one seokjin often refers to as "if the third godfather movie and the third spider-man movie resulted in a disastrous baby", he's been wary about parties. parties meant people and people meant his ex and his ex meant angry crying over toilet bowls and red solo cups. 

even though he never really wants to, he always allows them to pull him into the dungeons of luxury. because his entire life has taught him that there's pain and then there's the pain that happens when you're alone with no one to distract you. the one that cuts a deeper wound, burns more flesh. it's easier to get drunk and lip synch to the spice girls than it is to sit at home and stare at the past.

l'appel du vide, yoongi called. 

l'appel du vide. 

he's not drunk yet but he's working on working on it. right now, he's just getting the vibe, making sure there are more than enough friends around to take care of him. there needs to be. because when he plans to get drunk what he really means is that he plans to drink so much that he passes out and can't remember anything the next day. he needs to be around his friends for that kind of recklessness. so, for now, he sits with a few of them on the patio of a sorority house.

there are green, pink, and orange string lights hanging up on the wooden slabs above. music is playing so loud from the living room that it, along with the crickets and the soft winds, is heard clearly outside. taehyung doesn't recognize the song by name but he knows he's heard it plenty of times. from the end credits in cheesy movies and happy conglomerative commercials. 

it's him, sooyoung whose sitting on jinri's lap, jieun who looks ethereal and uncharacteristically tough sipping on her hard lemonade, jeongguk who's sitting in between eunha's legs while she leans forward and attempts to braid mini fishtails into his hair. jisoo is sitting next to taehyung trying and failing to use a bong (trying not to make it obvious that he's never actually used one before). and heeyeon is sitting on a railing complaining about being at a party full of fetuses. 

"that's it," she sighs eventually, removing the blunt from her mouth and becoming engulfed in an almost seductive cloud of smoke. "i'm telling jin to come, i wasn't supposed to be babysitting."

eunha mutters without looking up from jeongguk's hair: "jieun doesn't mind."

heeyeon scoffs. "that's because she's already drunk."

jeongguk peers up from his phone for the first time to throw a quick glance in jieun's direction. "she's not."

"no, i am." jieun speaks up for a brief moment before offering one of her heart stopping smiles and going back to her hard lemonade. it's not typically her to hang out with people close to her own age, jieun has always been very eclectic that way. it's no surprise that she'd rather focus on drinking that socializing.

at least she's polite about it.

"okay," heeyeon looks up from her phone. "he's coming."

jeongguk freezes and looks up, locking his phone as he tries to send eunha a glare that isn't all that intimidating. "whatever you did to my hair, undo it. now."

taehyung watches most of them begin to scramble, most of them filtering back inside the house where the party is about to be in full swing. parties at sororities are rare. parties at sororities with sought after upperclassmen is even rarer. the excitement that starts to bubble up and over invades the atmosphere until the air is electric, until taehyung can feel the currents coursing throughout him. 

he watches jeongguk fix his hair about eight times before the younger drags him into the living room and sits down with him on the couch. jeongguk tucks a joint behind his ear, holds onto a cold, unopened beer, and waits. next to him, taehyung can even feel his bones start to vibrate. when seokjin finally arrives, taehyung takes his first hit off the bong because he knows 

seokjin, being the handsome and popular person that he'd become, is quickly sucked into the same group of admirers who flock to him every time he shows up to one of these shindigs. jeongguk, like usual, holds onto party favors for him before calling out a soft and poorly disguised excited "hyung". then something that wouldn't have normally happened happens. seokjin hears jeongguk, turns toward him, jeongguk smiles, seokjin doesn't. then he turns away. 

the exchange is brief but hard-hitting, so anguished that taehyung doesn't even have the heart to offer jeongguk a pitying look. he knows the expression he'll find on the younger's face will make him want to hate everyone. 

after some time to allow the disappointment to settle, jeongguk rests against the sofa, sinking into the cushions. then he asks in a small voice: "wanna get shit faced?"

"yes."

 

they drown in jello shots and spliffs and beer pong and neon colored bongs. they trail from the living room where they start a reefer, to the kitchen where they become keg champs, to the bathroom where their immense intoxication makes them draw terrible tattoos on each other's faces. to someone's bedroom which is decorated in deep lilacs and lights pinks, they fall onto the plush canopy bed and graze their fingers against the silk cover. they get the zelda theme song stuck in their head and hum it up on their way to the roof.

it's when they're hanging out up there, their feet dangling over the gutters on the edge of the roof, jeongguk's eyes following seokjin's body as the elder maneuvers around people in the backyard that jeongguk speaks again. speaks again without his voice being laced by the amusing premonition thc can offer. 

he purses his lips at the same time that he pouts. "he doesn't love me."

taehyung doesn't say anything. he doesn't even plan on the silence being a response, he just takes too long to come up with something to say and eventually jeongguk asks how he dealt with it. "dealt with what?"

"the break up," jeongguk manages. his words are becoming more slurred, tongue dragging instead of cracking like the whip it usually was. "you and...you know."

ah. 

it was a simple answer.

"i didn't."

"what the fuck?!"

whoever screams out the profanity has a voice that's loud enough to make jeongguk cringe even from up here. when jeongguk cracks his eyes open again and taehyung looks down at the backyard, the first thing they both see is seokjin looking up at the two of them, panicked. his face has gone ashen white, lips thin and pursed tight, eyes so wide he almost looks demonic. 

everyone looks up. someone starts running. most people stare. seokjin takes careful steps toward the door and holds a hand up at them. don't fucking move.

"i don't know," taehyung hums. "he acts like he loves you."

"no, he doesn't."

"yes, he does. i know that look."

that look drives seokjin up to the roof with sandeul with him, makes him drag jeongguk up into his arms and carry him to safety. sandeul follows suit for taehyung but without that look

that look that means kissing under the covers, holding onto each other tightly in private and in public, dancing in the night clubs and in the kitchen, that look that means being. taehyung knows it well. somehow he has mental images of himself looking at jimin in that very same way. he can even feel the exact moment jimin stopped looking at him like he was amused and started looking at him like he, too, was hopelessly devoted. it was life changing.

seokjin takes the both of them back to his place. he makes a bed for taehyung on the couch, initially makes a palette for the both of them but jeongguk wouldn't stop untangling himself from the comforter and slipping back into seokjin's bedroom. a drunk jeongguk was an especially needy jeongguk. a drunk jeongguk combined with a deeply infatuated jeongguk was not the jeongguk anyone could deal with properly.

unable to deal with the constant interruption, seokjin just lets the youngest sleep with him in his room. for a while, taehyung lies awake in the living room and hears snippets of their conversations. he hears jeongguk ask why, he hears seokjin say something about an age gap, hears jeongguk say he doesn't give a fuck, hears seokjin say that he does. but the tablets -- the zestra combined with the hard liquor and the weed is making consciousness an improbability and taehyung's eyes slip closed. 

before he slips into slumber, he imagines a new heading for the latest journal entry: trial two or why i should avoid mixing drugs. 

 

jimin is sitting in front of him, legs spread for taehyung to stand in between them, and he's making sounds too lewd to describe. his breath is tickling taehyung's skin, making the small hairs on his jawline stand to attention. his voice breaks -- "ah" -- and shakes -- "tae" -- and almost makes taehyung come right on the spot. 

taehyung opens his eyes for the first time and look down between them where they're connected. he's got a hold of jimin's dick along with his own, gripping both and sliding his hand up and down their shafts as slowly as he can. slow because the pace drives jimin crazy. slow because he does everything with jimin as slowly as he can. slow because he wants things to last longer. wants them to last as long as possible. 

"tae," jimin breathes out again. he grips taehyung's shoulders and his entire body jolts when taehyung's thumb presses his slit. "come on, hurry up. i have to get to work."

chin nestling into jimin's neck, taehyung shakes his head a little before inhaling his scent deeply. he smells like a future that taehyung daydreams about, the one every person envisions where their life comes to hilted perfection. "we have time," he murmurs. "we have time."

and he keeps repeating that same idea even when the dreams bleed into different scenarios that have already happened. he whispers it to jimin when they're making out on someone else's bed in someone else's house. jimin lets him kiss every part of him, bite his lip, lick him but he presses against him every so often with different versions of "but we probably should hurry before someone comes". and taehyung continues to tell him that they have time. 

in one scenario when jimin points out that they really don't have time, that the clock is running out, that they're going to be late, taehyung says that they can make time. pull it out of thin air and take as much as they want, use it up for themselves. they can create it, make it like they make love each night and add as much of it they want to their lives.

"we can make time."

and in the first scenario, when they both come and it spurts between them messily kind of like their words when they first confessed to each other, jimin sags against him and they both forget about work. because they have  time.

 

taehyung remembers jimin.

he remembers kissing him a lot. a lot. so often that his friends complain about it, that they wager bets on how long he could possibly go without kissing jimin. bets he always lost. so often that jimin's mouth became his second favorite taste right after cherry sours and before white wine.

he remembers jimin holding him or the two of them walking downtown with their arms looped, on their way home after another party.

he remembers laying with jimin. not just sex either. he remembers laying with him in bed as much as he remembers laying with him in flower fields, as much as he remembers laying with him on trampolines and watching above. their hands would entangle each other, fingertips dancing and grazing the other's existence.

taehyung remembers jimin. 

that's exactly why the dreams, no matter how happy they are, are like nightmares. because he's tried so hard to forget.

 

trial three

(trial two continued)

 

when taehyung wakes, he's still asleep.

he wakes up in a dream. not like the other dreams where the kissing is so real, he swears his lips feel bruised when he wakes up. not like the other dreams where he can forget about it five minutes after waking up. no. no, this time he wakes up in a place that is no longer a reality. he can see the room around him as clearly as he would if it were real. he's standing in the bathroom again. this time there's no jimin sitting on the counter in front of him. 

there's only him.

his reflection stares back at him just as confused as he is and taehyung definitely knows he's dreaming because his hair is light brown and pushed back. he doesn't wear it like that now. when he was a kid and he used to have terrible nightmares, he'd taught himself there were only two ways to get out of them: a) scream so loud that you screamed in real life and woke yourself up or b) hurt yourself badly. 

but as he presses his hands against the smooth countertop, he's afraid that if he tried either one of those in this dream, he wouldn't wake up. it felt like real life. 

he hears shuffling then the shower starts running and for the first time he realizes he isn't alone. he doesn't have to turn around to know who it is. in fact, he doesn't even want to turn around. he's prepared to stay put, to not even move at all, when jimin starts talking.

"we have to pick up a new mattress today, alright? i can't sleep on that rocky lump anymore."

what happens next is something like cognitive dissonance. inside, taehyung is aware that this is a dream. inside, he's afraid -- terrified, maybe. but outside, he behaves the way he's supposed to. the way the memory serves him. so instead of running away and ignoring the suggestion, he gives the same answer he gave before: "i thought i made it better."

"i said you make it tolerable, but there's only so much peace you can bring when you get hot like a furnace."

"the only reason i'm hot is because you're so sexy, babe."

jimin's laugh echoes and bounces against the shower walls. "new mattress. today."

taehyung looks back at his reflection before looking down at the countertop and observing everything sitting there. toothpaste with the cap off --jimin. waterproof music player -- both. some expensive cologne gifted to taehyung from his brother over christmas -- taehyung. the medication, the half empty orange pill bottles spread out evenly -- jimin. now he really feels sick.

sure, for the past few weeks taehyung has had every dream he could have possibly had about jimin. he's had seven dreams about their first dates, three about the first time they had sex, and about a thousand about the first time they said 'i love you'. but even so, what luck is it that he crash lands in this dream, in this old reality? how is it in all the three years he got to spend with jimin, he lands in the dream where jimin has already gotten sick?

he remembers when jimin told him.

the entire day he'd been quiet and reserved, eyes lost on a horizon that he thought he'd never get to see. then at the very end of the day, when taehyung was trying to coax him into telling him by giving him gentle kisses and slow dancing with him in their living room, he'd told him he'd been to the doctor for a check up.

taehyung starts brushing his teeth, against everything inside him. he's acting on memory now. "what's on the agenda for today?"

"a couple of lectures, a couple tutoring sessions, then maybe we can meet at ikea after?"

taehyung pauses. "did you cancel the appointment?"

there's no answer for a few minutes, just the water from the shower head cascading downward but jimin doesn't say anything. the silence makes taehyung feel even worse because he knows exactly what memory this is. this is the big fight. 

"jimin?"

"what?"

"what? i'm -- did you cancel the appointment or not?"

silence again.

then the shower turns off and jimin is stepping out, grabbing an aqua blue towel off the rack and shaking at his hair. when he steps out completely, wrapping the towel around his waist, he avoids taehyung's eyes. he's gotten thinner. a lot thinner from what he used to be, sometimes his eyes start to look sunken in, and he gets so sick he's skin looks pale yellow. today, he looks -- looked -- better. just pale. 

taehyung watches him.

"jimin, please don't ignore me."

"i'm not."

"then answer the--"

"i cancelled it."

the same way, identical to the first time, taehyung gets that sharp pain in his chest before his heart takes a swan dive down the depths of his stomach. he remembers a specific word jimin had used when he first told him, a word that made taehyung rethink life in a big way. inoperable

when taehyung first heard the word, his entire world stopped spinning and froze over. for a little while, all he could do is cry. and jimin would try to comfort. and because of this, he would continually fall into pits of hatred, as he'd explained to jimin through heavy breathing and deep sobs: "you're the one who's sick and all i can think about is losing you, i'm so fucking selfish."

"you won't."

"you can't be serious," his voice shakes when he speaks. "jimin--"

"i know i said i'd try treatment but i don't want to anymore, that's all."

taehyung stares at him. jimin looks back for the first time since he stepped out and, though he's looking, he does a good job of avoiding him still. "that's all? that's all? what are you gonna do then, huh? just get worse and worse until--"

"it's my life. did you know that or did you forget?"

"it doesn't just affect you."

"but i'm the one who has to go through it. i'm the one who has to lose all this weight, i'm the one whose hair is going to fall out, i'm the one who's going to be too weak to even go to the bathroom by myself and i don't want that."

they stare at each other. 

jimin is sure.

taehyung is scared. 

he feels like he could cry. he feels like he's watching the bad moon rising, seeing the beginning of the end of the world. and though his hart clenches and breaks into crumbs, the heat that overtakes him is anger. he would probably brush past jimin, nudge his shoulder on his way out of the bathroom but he's been afraid that jimin would break. 

jimin follows him out.

"you can't be angry at me for choosing life over that."

"you're not choosing life," taehyung turns on him and crouches a little, brings his hands up to his lips in something akin to a prayer. "you're choosing to waste away. you wanna fade and i won't let you, i can't let you."

"no one is letting me do anything. my life, taehyung. can you understand that? it's mine."

as they spoke, they stepped into the living room and when jimin delivers that last line, taehyung sinks into the couch and buries his head in his hands. there's nothing out there, no words, no images that can properly convey the utter devastation a person feels when the person they love tells them they're choosing to die. 

it wasn't like jimin was on his last legs at the time. he wasn't broken. but most disasters start off rather quietly, don't they? lots of ships have sunk in seconds. the titanic took almost three hours. 

he can't swallow down the thickness this time and he starts crying right away. jimin falls down in front of him, pressing his knees into the carpet and his elbows into taehyung's knees. his hands cup taehyung's cheeks. he knows jimin is about to apologize. he'll tell taehyung that he loves him. taehyung will say if he really loved him, he would take the treatment. and the fight would continue. 

 

the dream only gets worse. 

it gets worse because unlike most dreams, taehyung has to live through every second all over again. he gets to watch from the point where jimin told him he didn't want treatment to the point where jimin becomes bedridden to the point where the doctors give up and pull taehyung aside to tell him how little time jimin has left.

he has to watch jimin disappear all fucking overlain, watch him lose so much weight that he's unrecognizable, watch jimin dragging himself up to throw up in the middle of the night. watch when dragging himself to the bathroom becomes too difficult for jimin, when he doesn't want to bother anyone to take him, and he accidentally wets himself. taehyung is aware that he's dreaming but he can't get out of it. sometimes when he's holding jimin against him, he'll hear his conscious self whimper and cry. 

he's getting jimin into bed, carrying him as best as he can and settling him down in the new sheets. as his condition worsened, jimin went to his own merit again and said he wanted to go home. the hospital, taehyung reasoned, has everything jimin will need but he insists he wants to be home. he doesn't have to say that if he's going to die, he wants to die in his own bed, in the home he's built with taehyung. but they both know that's what he means. 

jimin groans when his head hits the pillow. taehyung lays down next to him. they woke up that day, that morning, knowing that this was it. 

when they first moved in together, taehyung thought it was the beginning of the rest of his life. moving in together was one step into their life. they would get married, they would move to switzerland, they would have kids. they'd spend the rest of their lives living and experiencing having all the time in the world. 

but there's always the life you picture and the life you get.

"you don't kiss me anymore," jimin says. "did you know that?"

"yes, i do."

jimin shakes his head. "no. you kiss me. like my forehead and stuff but you don't really kiss me. not like you used to. you look at me different too...i disgust you, don't i?"

"no..."

"i don't have long," jimin murmurs. a slip of the tongue. he's not supposed to say that, not while they both know. his health has only gotten worse and today has been too peaceful. death is in bed with them watching the clock on the drawer. "just tell me the truth."

taehyung looks at jimin closely. his skin has gotten so pale, his veins are clear against his skin. his hair has thinned out. his lips have become perpetually dry. but he's still beautiful. he's still the jimin who sat down next to him on a long bus ride, the same jimin who he fell in love with seconds before they even kissed. he closes the sliver of space between them and presses his lips to jimin as eagerly as he can without taking jimin's breath away. "the truth," he murmurs when he pulls back. "i'm not disgusted. i just don't wanna take things too far."

"like a kiss is going to hurt me."

"it could. it has."

jimin hums.

his breaths are getting a little more shallow and his eyes cast down when he takes taehyung's hand into his and draws a finger against his knuckles. each trail gives taehyung chills and normally he would blame it on the contact but at this moment, he blames it on the fact that this is the last time he'll feel jimin's hands on him.

"you're going to be okay, right?"

taehyung thinks.

will he be okay? the day after he met jimin, he told his brother he was sure he'd fallen in love and that he'd met his soulmate. a minute before their first time together, he'd been ready to tell jimin just how much he loved him. a week after their first date, they were already talking about moving in together. after two months, they did it. after two and a half years, taehyung bought a ring. the very same day he bought it, jimin was diagnosed.

taehyung wanted to wait.

his plan was to propose after jimin got better because jimin would undoubtedly, inevitably get better. he couldn't be sick. he wouldn't die before his twenty-fifth birthday. taehyung holds onto jimin's hands. "i don't know...i wanted to...i was going to..."

taehyung reaches around the bed until he finds the velvet box that fell out of his pocket when he laid down. he takes the ring out of its place and curls back into jimin. he holds the ring in front of him and jimin smiles wide, tries to laugh but knows he's too weak to let it out. his breaths get more shallow.

"would you?" he murmurs the question in a thick voice. 

when he slides the ring on jimin's finger, jimin chuckles a little and asks him in a breath what took him so long. taehyung says he'd been planning it for a while and the two of them take solace in the moment, that they may not have been able to get married but at least they can be engaged for however many hours jimin has left. 

then: "it's beautiful," jimin says. "would you...when...would you bury it with me?"

the fact that death was approaching and that jimin would be gone was something that taehyung accepted without really thinking about it. the way he saw it, jimin would likely die and taehyung would follow soon after. not intentionally. he wouldn't take his own life. he would just collapse in on himself. but that single question wakes him up, makes the truth stand to attention and he can't pretend it's not real. an image of jimin -- jimin's body -- laying in a coffin starts to plague him and he chokes on the words he can't say. 

"i'm sorry, i shouldn't have..."

"i will," taehyung manages. "i'll...yeah, i'll do that."

"...please don't forget me."

they're both crying now. not sobbing. just letting the tears roll down without much of a show. taehyung shakes his head. "how could i?"

"would you wait for me?"

"for a thousand lifetimes."

they lay there together and they cry and taehyung tries to grip onto jimin as hard as he can without hurting him. maybe if he holds him tight enough, he can keep his soul from leaving his body and no one, above or below, can take his heart from him. a few hours later, when both their eyes are closed as if they're about to sleep, jimin whispers:

"i'm scared."

taehyung whispers back:

"me too."

 

when taehyung wakes up again, he really wakes up.

he wakes up to seokjin sitting over him looking scared, wiping the tears from his cheeks, and repeating that it was all just a dream. whatever it was, he whispers, was just a dream. 

"it's okay," seokjin says again, his hand is resting on taehyung's chest and he's drawing circles. "please don't cry, it's okay."

that only makes taehyung cry harder. 

the dream became more unclear the longer it went on, the closer it came to the end. the conversation he'd had with jimin, the last one, was fading in and out. but he knows what happened. he remembers it. they hold each other tight, they fall asleep together. and taehyung wakes up alone. as he remembers the details of that morning, of crying over jimin's body and pleading with a corpse, his chest constricts and he dry heaves. 

seokjin pulls him up into a sitting position and draws circles on his back. he nearly starts crying when taehyung doesn't stop wailing, clutching at his shirt in an attempt to claw out his heart. if he rips it out there's no way he can go on hurting this fucking badly. 

when he had finally accepted that there was no way jimin was waking up, he called his brother. his brother made the necessary arrangements because taehyung was too hysterical to even speak. namjoon sat with him when the people arrived to take the body away, held him when he cried, made sure they handled jimin as gently as possible when taehyung started yelling for them to be fucking careful.

taehyung sobs again and seokjin pulls him into his chest.

"it's okay," he says again. "what's wrong, taehyung? you're scaring me, tell me what's wrong."

"he's gone."

"who's gone?"

taehyung's breath ravages wild and haggard and he breathes out jimin's name. "jimin," he pants. "jimin, jimin...he's gone."

seokjin sighs and pulls back from him. he holds his hands on taehyung's shoulders, eyes still panicked and sympathetic. "who?"

taehyung blinks away his tears, world stilling again. he knows seokjin knows jimin. they'd met. they'd danced together, they'd gone on several dates to events that jimin wanted to attend but taehyung couldn't care less about. seokjin took jimin to the carnival and to halloween costume parties, the two of them cooked together. seokjin knows jimin. "what?"

"who's jimin? what are you talking about? you're scaring me so much, taehyung, please..."

 

 

end of trial declaration

roa isn't alone today.

she's sitting at the main desk as usual but there are two men standing on either side of her with their arms crossed in front. taehyung is used to seeing roa dressed in all white, looking pristine and professional aside from her hair which is always going against the grain. but seeing the guards dressed in all white is new. it adds a layer of mystique, only furthering his confusion and frustration.

this is the end of the trial. 

and he's got more questions than answers. 

after pulling him out of hysteria and calming him down, seokjin comforted him as best as he could while being more confused than ever. he'd never heard of a jimin. jeongguk hadn't either. hwasa, namjoon, his parents -- no one had heard of jimin. 

but taehyung has so many memories of him. he has over three years of memories. he sees himself falling in love with jimin, sees the two of them swimming in a public pool after closing time -- he knows jimin. but no one else has heard of him. 

roa smiles. "you have a lot of questions, i'm sure."

"...what is this?"

she keeps her smile on and picks up the notebook lying discarded on top of her desk. she thumbs through the pages. "you wrote a lot a guy named jimin. tell me about him."

"please..."

"what's he like?"

"just tell me what's going on," taehyung's voice breaks. "i'm...these dreams, i know them all. they were all memories, jimin is someone i knew. all of it was real but...no one else in my life knows who he is."

roa nods. 

she takes a deep breath, gets up from behind the desk, and walks around until she's perching on the edge of it. "we haven't been completely honest with you, taehyung. for that, i wholeheartedly, genuinely apologize. but you make movies, right? even you have to understand the importance of deceit when it comes to doing your work the right way. what we told you, the research for a cure for alzheimer's--"

"that was a lie?"

"no, that's the truth. by the way, i understand you're frustrated but i would appreciate it if you avoided interrupting me. it's true that what we were looking for was a cure. but it's also true that we discovered something else in our attempts. a way to change the world and the way we perceive it, to alter human thinking. to know what was, what is, and what can be."

"what can be?"

"...you mentioned several times that you knew these dreams. that they were memories, things that happened before."

"right."

roa bites her lip. "you were half right. they're things you remember certainly. they are memories. but they have not happened."

hanging on to her every word, taehyung finds himself going cold at those last words. his heart skips a beat. "i...i'm -- what?"

"humankind only has one perception of time. we think of things when they happen and as they happen, linear. nothing more, nothing less. what we've done is created a way to expand that. to know the future, to know what we can do to change it."

"wait," taehyung feels the acid burning his throat and building up. he's sick. he's going to be sick. and nothing feels real. a few weeks back, mid-way through the trial taehyung saw jimin on campus. but he blinked and he was gone. taehyung complained to roa that he was afraid he was beginning to dream while he was awake. but... "what exactly are you saying to me?"

the question pours out of him slow like molasses. 

roa offers him that same tight lipped smile. 

"your dreams. it's the future. your future."

 

zestra was still in the beginning stages.

they weren't even sure how it worked yet. all they knew was that they had the power to see their own future and they wanted to use it to their advantage. the cons were headaches and hallucinations and confusion. what happened -- fuck -- what happens with jimin was so devastating that taehyung let it knock the wind out of him. when his friends asked him about the bad break up, they meant a bad break up. one with an ex whose name taehyung can't even remember. because the pain of breaking up with them can't compare to what happened, what happens, with jimin. 

non-linear thinking is what they'd achieved. a non-linear perception of time. that's why the future felt like a memory. the physicality and imbalances in his brain reshaped themselves. the technicalities of it, taehyung still couldn't wrap his mind around. all he knew was that they ruined him. how could he live his life knowing that it'll come to a screeching halt with a devastation like no other? what was the point of living? 

and he knows, he knows, that he goes on living. he dreamt a snippet of himself, a few years older, wearing a cheap band around his finger. someone asked -- will ask -- him how long he's been married and he'll freeze. he knows he won't let jimin go. at least not right away. right away meaning five years at the least. he'll get a taste of heaven and be banished to hell.

again.

what was the point of living?

 

he kicks around it for days after.

even when his heart warms at the sight of seokjin publicly holding jeongguk's hand and introducing him as his boyfriend instead of his friend. even when he smiles when he catches namjoon giggling at text messages to and from hyejin. even when everyone around him is stepping into the beginning of their happy ending, he hangs out in the shadows. 

he doesn't want to meet jimin.

he wants his future to change. 

for all he knows, it's their relationship that stresses jimin out and gets him sick in the first place. maybe if they never get together, jimin can live. but mainly, selfishly, if they never get together, taehyung will never have to hurt. he won't have to fall in love harder than ever and have the rug ripped out from under him. 

he remembers asking jimin what he would do if he knew his future. "all the sadness you ever experience," he says. "can be gone. you know your future and you can choose a different one so you won't make the same mistakes. what would you do?"

he gazes out of the bus window in a daze, eyes barely catching sight of the passing landscapes and the street lights. he likes the express bus because there are fewer stops and, as a result, more time for him to think too much and reflect. the bus starts going in for the last stop before they hit the highway and taehyung gets comfortable. they're in for a long ride. his music is all set. his phone is charging in the low-grade outlet.

he's setting up a few songs for his queue when a shadow passes over him and he looks up, heart caught in his throat because he knows, to see jimin. healthy, fully glowing jimin, cheeks pink, lips plump smiling at him politely. before jimin asks, taehyung thinks of what he's going to say. 

is it okay if i sit here?

"is it okay if i sit here?" jimin asks. 

he doesn't have to. most people just sit down, grab a seat regardless and kick their legs back. but jimin has a tendency to be too kind when he feels like it. taehyung can change things right here. he can say no and keep everything from spiraling out of control. he can say no and never know what it feels like to feel jimin in his arms at night. he can say no and never know what it feels like when jimin says he loves him for the first time, for the last time. he can say no and not be heart broken. 

long ago...or, long into the future, jimin answers his question. what would you do, taehyung asks him. jimin shrugs. i'd do it all over again, he'll say. part of life is pain. part of life is hurting. we grow because of it. it's better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all. is that cheesy?

against everything in him, taehyung smiles at jimin.

he says yes.