Au; Sports captains Taehyung & Jeongguk don’t exactly see eye to eye...
[THREAD PART 2]
The jeongguk in this au’s actually a brunette but I couldn’t find any pictures that would match SO
“Jeongguk, I told you we have to lay the tarp down first.”
“Tarp shmarp.” Jeongguk waves him away, much to his irritation and Taehyung rubs at the bridge of his nose, crinkled in frustration.
They’re supposed to stay in tents tonight. He refuses to sleep in one that’s damp.
He knocks Jeongguk out the way, snatches the equipment from him, and lays down the tarp with a huff.
“Why can’t you just follow set fvcking instructions for once in your life?” He asks, unrolling their tent and gathering the poles to one side.
It’s bad enough they have to stay out in the cold this evening. The least Jeongguk could do is cooperate.
“How hard could it possibly be to set up a tent?”
Jeongguk hunkers down opposite him, skimming over the instruction manual.
“We just have to stick a couple sticks in places.” He says, reaching for a pole and wiggling his eyebrows suggestively, “I’m sure you’re quite familiar with that.”
Taehyung’s tempted to smack him, though he’s more frustrated there’s actually a laugh tickling at his throat.
He chews on the inside of his cheek, does everything in his power to keep his lips from turning, tugging up into an unsolicited little smile.
“Shut up.” He ducks his head, busying himself with the tent poles — he has to. Jeongguk’s idiocy is too infectious.
“Are you seriously on your phone right now?”
Taehyung swipes at his brow, at a bead of sweat trickling down his temple. He would’ve thought it’d be colder out in the woods, but as it turns out, pitching up tents is quite the work out.
Not that Jeongguk would know.
He’d skilfully evaded all of his orders, much to Taehyung’s chagrin. He hadn’t even realised Jeongguk had disappeared from his side.
“Huh?” Jeongguk blinks up from his phone, the grin on his face only broadening in tandem with the scowl deepening on Taehyung’s.
Taehyung heaves himself up from the ground, knees clicking as he staggers to his feet.
“We’re supposed to be putting this up /together/.” He says, swatting away the hand Jeongguk shoots out to steady him.
And Jeongguk cocks an eyebrow up in question.
“We /did/ do it together.”
“No,” Taehyung argues, “we didn’t.” He then juts an accusatory finger in Jeongguk’s direction, prods at his chest with a dissatisfied huff.
And Jeongguk, surprisingly, folds rather quickly, bobbing his head in acknowledgement and dragging Taehyung in by the hand he has raised —
“Okay,” he pulls him in, infuriatingly smooth in the way he wraps an arm around Taehyung’s waist, “I’m sorry.”
The apology slips from his mouth so easily, Taehyung’s half convinced Jeongguk had been abducted and replaced with some oddly obedient doppelgänger.
His concerns, however, don’t last long enough for him to voice them as Jeongguk’s lips tilt up into that one smile. The one that’s a little too devious, but not quite a smirk.
He dips his head, carelessly invading Taehyung’s space right in the middle of the camp site.
“We can do /it/ together next time.”
And really, it’s a line if ever Taehyung’s heard one. A bad one at that, too. He’s almost ashamed by how hard his heart rams into his rib cage, stuttering inside his chest as Jeongguk’s nose brushes against his cheek.
[I hate to break the momentum for the story, but please kindly refrain from replying to this, and any other of my au, threads. It’s just to prevent the threads from breaking c: thank you]
Contrary to what one might’ve thought, the coaches are actually rather lenient towards the entire alcohol smuggling fiasco. Jooheon had just about had an aneurism when he’d returned to his tent to find Coach Ahn awaiting him, the pack of beer he’d hidden inside his duffel bag —
dangling between his fingertips.
Granted, it had taken a whole lot of grovelling and apologising, but in the end, he’d turned a blind eye to it all.
“Just don’t overdo it.” Is what he’d said.
Which brings Taehyung to his current situation.
Tucked between Hoseok, who by the way is one pint away from spilling his guts all over the campfire, and Jeongguk, who teeters into the drunker side of tipsy, Taehyung thinks it’s about time he head off to bed.
Though Hoseok quashes any of his plans to flee by throwing —
himself onto his lap.
“You...” he slurs, voice muffled into Taehyung’s sweater, “you’re an a**hole.”
Now if only Taehyung had a penny for every time he’d heard that line.
“But,” Hoseok sniffs, raising his head just high enough to flash him a grin, “I love you anyway.”
And alright, Taehyung supposes it’s kind of cute, so he lets the initial comment slide. Just this once.
“I love you too, buddy.” He chuckles, softer this evening, ruffling Hoseok’s hair with a shake of his head. He doesn’t say it often, but he does. In a brotherly way, of course
& Taehyung opens his mouth, plans to coo at him some more just so he can make fun of him for it tomorrow morning, but the next thing he knows, there’s an arm snaking around his waist and a chin on his shoulder.
“What about me?”
Taehyung stills, stares at Hoseok in mortification
He can only thank his stars Hoseok’s probably too in over his head with alcohol to think straight, so he probably won’t recall any of this later on.
“What about you?” He asks, stomach aflutter. He’d rather play dumb and wait for Jeongguk to drop it on his own.
But he doesn’t have to wait for that to happen because Hoseok’s swooping in, scrutinising Jeongguk through narrowed eyes.
“Yeah, what about you?” He echoes, uncharacteristically bold thanks to the liquor in his veins, “you don’t even play for our team. Taehyung /despises/ you.”
Why that sits so wrong with him, twists at something inside his chest, Taehyung will never know. He’s professed it countless times before without hesitation. And he feels the exact same way still.
Jeongguk squeezes at his waist, draws him closer.
“Is that so, Taehyung?”
Taehyung’s not sure how to answer. He knows what he /should/ say, but he’s taken aback by the word that rolls off of the tip of his tongue so fast, he has to bite his lip to swallow it down.
He’d wanted to say no.
And it’s a realisation that leaves him tongue-tied and so utterly confused. Because if he doesn’t despise Jeongguk then what does he think of him?
He’s not a friend. Friends don’t kiss.
But he’s not a boyfriend because Taehyung doesn’t like him like that.
He’s jostled from his internal ramblings, ones he’s sure will keep him up later.
Hoseok’s staring at him, at Jeongguk who chuckles into his ear.
“Is what he said true?” He asks, nosing at the side of his neck and Taehyung doesn’t think it’s fair.
How could he expect him to say yes when he’s being all affectionate? That’s manipulative is what that is.
“Do you really hate me?”
Taehyung doesn’t think, doesn’t care that Hoseok’s right there, only focuses on the fleeting press of teeth against the skin of his throat
Taehyung is, for lack of a better word, mad. Livid, even. He doubts he’ll be able to look Hoseok in the eye for the rest of camp.
“Tae, c’mon!” Jeongguk calls after him, jogging up to his side and even having the audacity to laugh. /Laugh/ as if he hadn’t just embarrassed him —
right in front of his teammate.
“What’re you so mad for?” He asks, and Taehyung has to fist at his sleeves, squeeze the material tight between his fingers, to keep his cool or so help him, he might just drag Jeongguk to the nearest lake and be rid of him once and for all.
“What am I so mad for?” He repeats, incredulity dripping from his every word, “Jeongguk, that was humiliating. You can’t just...“ he throws his hands up, aimlessly swishes his palms through the air as if that would be enough to explain what he can’t articulate.
Jeongguk cocks a brow up at him, amused despite Taehyung’s obvious irritation.
“I can’t what?”
“You can’t /hold/ me like that!” Taehyung yells once they’re far enough away from the makeshift fire pit for no one else to hear, “you can’t— you can’t hug me or kiss me or,”
he swallows, now so riled up he thinks he might be treading into hysteria, “you can’t do things that’ll make people think you like me.”
Make him think he likes him.
They’re supposed to be rivals. They always have been. To change that now would be going against the grain.
Jeongguk stops walking.
Taehyung does too. And well, now he feels kind of bad for raising his voice.
“Look, Jeongguk.” He starts, tries to come up with something, anything to say that could possibly relieve their conversation of the slightest ounce of tension.
“I don’t get you.”
Taehyung blinks, dumbfounded.
“You get jealous when I flirt w/ other ppl, but then you get mad when I flirt w/ you.” Jeongguk shakes his head, glares at the ground, “you kiss me whenever you like & im fine w/ that, but when I initiate it, you turn away.”
Taehyung wants to deny it, claim everything he’s just said is complete bullshlt, but they both know that it’d be pointless.
“What is it you want from me?” He asks, quiet. Tired. Not quite defeated, but the waver in his voice is enough indication he’s getting there.
And it’s all too sudden. Hell, barely a week ago they’d been at each other’s throats. Taehyung shouldn’t feel this much this fast.
He doesn’t know what to say.
He doesn’t know what he wants.
But Jeongguk does.
And it hits Taehyung like a ton of bricks the moment the words topple from between his lips, knocking into his chest and making it just that little bit harder to breathe.
“I like you, Taehyung.”
Shock tears at his insides, renders him speechless.
And Jeongguk shakes his head.
Forces a laugh through the slits of his teeth.
“It’s... stupid, I know, but— fvck.” He runs a hand through his hair, humiliation burning at the tips of his ears, & tugs. “It’s just once you get past all the,” he gestures towards him, “a**hole, you’re kinda really fvckin’ cute.”
“You noticed something off with Satan and Lucifer’s dynamic?” Hoseok asks, nudging at Jimin despite his roommate’s lack of enthusiasm the entire morning.
“For the nth fvcking time,” Jimin begins, gathering every last inkling of self control he possibly can, “Satan and Lucifer —
are the same person.” He bites his tongue before he can lash out, perhaps let a few insulting names slip through his teeth, as much as he’d like to watch Hoseok’s expression crumple.
He does look though, curiosity getting the best of him even when he’s at his wits’ end.
They’ve all gathered at the centre of the clearing, bright and early courtesy of coach Ahn’s rapid whistle blowing barely an hour after sunrise. The old man sure has a penchant for making their lives as miserable as possible.
“What do you mean?” Jimin brushes back his hair w/
a quick sweep of his headband, “they look as constipated as they did yesterday.”
And they do. He’s not too sure what goes on behind closed doors, but Taehyung and Jeongguk are always on edge with each other, be they on the same team or not.
Hoseok clicks his tongue, trudges up next to him with a shake of his head, “guess some people just aren’t as inquisitive as me.”
And Jimin scoffs, turning on his heel and heading for Jeongguk.
Inquisitive? Please. Nosy, more like.
“Yo.” He pats Jeongguk on the back, settling next to him on the log a couple of the basketball players had rolled out in front of the campfire last night, “what’s up with you?”
In lieu of a reply, Jeongguk merely takes an aggressive bite out of his apple.
Jooheon snorts, ruffling at his fringe before he settles his cap atop his head, “he’s been a sourpuss all morning. Good luck getting anything outta him.”
That, apparently, warrants a response as Jeongguk shifts his glare from the ground to one cackling point guard.
And Jimin really does wonder now what had happened last night after he and Taehyung had left the bonfire.
“Chill, man.” Jooheon knows it isn’t the right thing to say, but Jeongguk hasn’t been this easy to rile up in days. It’s funny. “What? Did you and your boyfriend fight?”
Very very mad.
And Taehyung supposes he has the right to be, considering how quickly he’d brushed off his confession last night. God, he still cringes at what he’d said.
He’d /laughed/ for crying out loud, cackled right in front of Jeongguk’s reddening face.
But what else was he supposed to do? Tell him he likes him back and potentially lead the poor sod on? No, Taehyung’s pretty sure lying would’ve made him an even bigger jerk.
That being said, he does feel bad. So much so, he’s actually getting heart burn.
He grimaces, rubs at his chest and continues to bore holes into the back of Jeongguk’s head in hopes that he somehow telepathically receive his apology. One could only hope.
“You break his nose again or something?”
Seokjin sidles up next to him, an eyebrow poised in question.
And Taehyung gnaws on his lip, contemplating whether or not to tell him. However, it doesn’t seem he has to considering how quickly Hoseok slinks up to join them, a wily smile upon his face Taehyung would recognise from a mile away.
“It’s not his /nose/ that Taehyung broke.”
Taehyung grasps him by the collar and yanks him closer, practically breathing fire into his teammate’s face.
“How did you know about that?”
And Hoseok, the sneaky b*stard that he is, just shrugs, a grin even more wicked than his last stretching across his face.
“I didn’t, really.” He admits, gently plucking his collar free from between Taehyung’s clutches, “but judging by your reaction, my guess hit the nail on the head.”
Stone cold, tension yielding silence is all Taehyung gets from Jeongguk that entire morning. He sticks close to his basketball buddies, the meat heads effectively shielding him from view and Taehyung should be rejoicing, really.
Jeon Jeongguk steering clear of him — out of sight, out of mind, and minding his own business. It’s everything Taehyung’s always asked for and then some.
“Guess it’s a good thing we’re splitting from our partners today, huh?” Hoseok says, nudging Taehyung w/ a suggestive grin.
“Yeah.” Taehyung turns around, tearing his gaze away from the back of one fuming captain’s head. It’s a little like deja-vu, glancing at Jeongguk from afar, though he doesn’t quite glare at him with as much malice as he used to.
It’s a good thing they’re splitting off.
Space is good. Time away from each other, especially now after last night’s confessional blunder, sounds perfect. He can only hope Jeongguk’s cooled down a bit by sundown lest their tent become a battleground.
Taehyung straightens abruptly, “yes coach?”
“You’ll be team A’s captain for today’s games. Make sure you allocate everyone a position that brings out their strengths. I’m sure you’re familiar with the role by now.”
He nods and Coach Ahn dismisses him w/ a wave
of his hand.
“As for team B,” Taehyung swallows, the stupid little thrum of his heart loud in his ears as he watches his coach approach the other group of athletes across the fire pit, slow to a stop right in front of the last person Taehyung wants to go head-to-head with today.
“Jeongguk,” he begins and Taehyung’s shoulders stiffen as Jeongguk finally spares him a glance, “what do you say? Been a while since you’ve played captain.”
There’s a tiny plea on the tip of Taehyung’s tongue, a diminutive voice in the back of his head that
offers hopeless excuses for Jeongguk to decline. He couldn’t possibly compete w/ the guy right after what he /did/ to him last night. That just wouldn’t be fair to him.
“I...” Jeongguk trails off, calculative eyes piercing & Taehyung shakes his head. Please.
“Yeah, I’ll do it.”
Try as he might to chill out, play the game with a more casual approach, Taehyung can’t help but put his one hundred and ten percent into anything he does. It’s just how he is, the innate desire to always give everything his A-game and, maybe even more importantly, to win —
a constant drive that keeps him on his toes.
At times, it really is quite frustrating. Like now, for example. He already feels like the biggest jerk in the world for basically flat out rejecting Jeongguk and he can’t even find it within himself to throw the game.
They’re ahead by one point several rounds in, all foul play and sneaky tactics aside, and Taehyung’s starting to feel the burn in his lungs. It’s been a tough match thus far, definitely far more intense than the typical baseball game because the movement’s non stop.
They’re always running, tackles & dodges consistent.
Taehyung stumbles, grapples for the flag Seokjin shoves towards his chest, & breaks into a sprint. He’s good at this — covering metre upon metre w/ a single stride, barely breaking a sweat as he flies across the field.
His team’s base is within sight now, not an opponent in sight to stop him from snagging yet another point and Taehyung’ll admit he gets cocky, dares to slow down and risk a glance over his shoulder.
It was a poor decision, one he pays for dearly because the next thing he knows, arms are looping around his torso and tackling him to the ground.
“Fvck.” He curses, palms slamming down onto damp soil as a whistle blows, ear piercing and gear grinding.
He has half the mind to curse at the player behind this, an array of colourful words at the ready, but a mere glance up at the boy already on his feet and dusting off his knees forces the words back down his throat.
Jeongguk blinks down at him, a scarily familiar sneer on his face
“Try harder next time, Kim.”
It takes Taehyung a minute or two to fully take in the snarky comment & it surprises him how much it actually... /upsets/ him.
Not Taehyung. Not Tae. Not peaches.
It becomes evident Taehyung isn’t as into it for the rest of the game’s duration, but he blames it on his fall, says it jostled his ankle a bit more than he’d anticipated. And that’s good enough for everyone.
The match ends with a tie breaker, Jeongguk’s team winning by the skin of their teeth and Taehyung comes up with an alibi to excuse himself as quickly as possible. Call him a sore loser, but he doesn’t want to face Jeongguk right now. Not yet, anyway.
It’s stupid, really, utterly laughable that he let a couple of measly words get to him, and Taehyung supposes he deserves it. He’d be bitter too if his crush had taken his feelings as a joke.
But still. He hadn’t thought Jeongguk would be /this/ mad.
The tent feels colder despite the warmer weather and the sun high in the sky and Taehyung wonders if he might’ve come down with something.
He stretches out his legs, lips downturned as a dull throb tugs at his ankle. Fvck. He shouldn’t have agreed to play today.
He’d overestimated himself, that’s for sure.
“Hey,” the front of the tent parts and Taehyung quashes the tiny bout of hope that blooms inside his chest. Gosh, he must’ve caught some sort of bug to be acting this out of character.
“Heard your ankle was acting up again.”
Hoseok squats in front of him, outstretching an ice pack.
Taehyung takes it wordlessly, a nod of his head all the gratitude Hoseok needs. He’s glad he isn’t poking fun at him. Goodness knows Taehyung isn’t in the mood for it.
Taehyung wouldn’t say he misses Jeongguk. The ache in his chest is far too tiny, too minuscule — it’s negligible, really, comparable to how one would probably feel if they lost their favourite fountain pen. And that’s not to say Jeongguk is Taehyung’s favourite anything.
There’s just this slight discomfort in the pit of Taehyung’s belly, increasingly more noticeable the higher up his spine it climbs and by the time it’s burrowed it’s way into his chest and settled there, in the little space between his ribs, he’s already out in search for
the culprit behind such an unsettling feeling. Figures. Jeongguk isn’t even around and yet he still manages to be the absolute bane of Taehyung’s existence.
A man on a mission — though what that mission entails exactly is still debatable — Taehyung makes a beeline for the common grounds. A no man’s land of sorts. He & Jeongguk may not be at war as of yet but w/ the way he’s been acting all morning, Taehyung doesn’t doubt they will be
“Have you seen Jeongguk?”
Hoseok’s the first person he runs into and Taehyung doesn’t waste time dilly dallying, fisting the front of the poor boy’s shirt and hauling him close to ensure he knows he isn’t up for any games right now.
Hoseok purses his lips, plucks his collar free from Taehyung’s clutches and dusts off his shirt. He’d just ironed this.
He dodges a fist, a smooth parry landing him a good, safe few feet or so away from one red faced captain.
“I’m afraid not, chief.”
And that’s essentially how all the subsequent interrogations go.
“You seen Jeongguk?”
“Nah, sorry man.”
“Do you know where Jeongguk is?”
Truly a fruitless search.
Taehyung hadn’t even realised this camp sight was so big.
Which brings him to be ridiculously unprepared for the confrontation he’d been anticipating all afternoon upon his return to their tent. Taehyung would be surprised, but fortune never really has been in his favour
And when Jeongguk spares him the briefest of glances as he enters
a fleeting glare Taehyung’ll admit he almost flinches at, its all the confirmation he needs.
He doesn’t like it when Jeongguk’s mad at him.
It’s a sneaky ploy, Taehyung’ll give him that. How he managed to play his cards right, make it so Taehyung /wants/ them to be civil,
he has to give Jeongguk props.
God, he doesn’t remember the last time the tension between them was this suffocating, and painfully so. Because he’d been so sure they’d moved past this and learned to play somewhat nice.
He wants to ask him how he is, but he suspects that might only stoke the flames. The last thing Taehyung wants to do is drive Jeongguk even further away.
Because they’re partners.
They can’t win the rest of the team games if they’re fighting.
So he bites his tongue, awkwardly shifts his weight between his feet as Jeongguk proceeds to ignore him, rolling up his sleeping bag with a huff.
“Wait,” Taehyung takes a hesitant step towards him, “what’re you doing?”
They don’t head back to their rooms for another day.
Jeongguk straightens up and dusts off his knees, and Taehyung hates how awkward everything is. All over again.
He’s half convinced Jeongguk won’t even grace him with a reply, what with the way he tucks his sleeping bag beneath his arm and strides out, right past him.
But he pauses, steps faltering at the entrance to their tent & Taehyung swallows down a humiliating plea for him to stay.
“I’ll be sleeping in Yoongi’s tent tonight.” He says eventually, after several tortuous seconds.
And Taehyung can’t say he didn’t see it coming. If anything, he’d be more surprised had Jeongguk chosen to stay.
Jeongguk watches him for a moment, seemingly hesitant to actually leave and Taehyung dares to let himself believe he isn’t entirely mad at him anymore, ++
staves away the pride that urges him to keep his mouth shut because vulnerability is weakness and he’ll be damned if he lets Jeongguk bear witness to that again.
He doesn’t want to fight. Hasn’t for a while now.
But it’s too difficult to admit it out loud.
So he settles for something else, a request that isn’t quite as humiliating as admitting defeat.
He can’t just let Jeongguk leave like this, finds he doesn’t /want/ him to. And it’s with this newfound realisation that Taehyung ++
summons up enough courage to reach for him, fingers hooking into the back of his sweater.
“Do you,“ he swallows, tamps down the voice that usually keeps him in check — he doesn’t fvcking care about pretences right now. He’s tired. “Do you have to?”
It’s only after the words have left his mouth that Taehyung registers just how stupid the question is. Of course, he has to. The poor guy’s probably still humiliated over last night
“Taehyung.” Jeongguk hangs his head, his body all but deflating with a single sigh.
But Taehyung doesn’t let him finish. He knows where this is going, what he’s going to say and he doesn’t want to hear it.
“I’m sorry.” He blurts, panic seizing his gut and propelling him closer, “about how I reacted and what I said.”
Jeongguk stills, lingers by the opening of their tent and Taehyung takes it a good sign he hasn’t yet swatted his hand away.
And God, Taehyung wouldn’t dare do this for anyone else. He doesn’t think he’d be able to stomach it.
It’s tough enough as it is.
“I laughed because I didn’t think— we’re not... we don’t— fvck.” He’s never been good at expressing himself, much less his feelings (not that he has any) and it’s annoying because he knows what he wants to say. He just doesn’t know /how/ to say it.
He supposes his idiocy and sheer incapability to formulate proper sentences works in his favour because Jeongguk’s not quite as stiff anymore.
“Wow.” He deadpans, sarcasm /dripping/, “I’m touched.”
And Taehyung grits his teeth, blushing furiously. He’s /trying/, damn it.
He sniffs, takes in the biggest breathe he possibly can without accidentally bursting a lung & throws caution to the wind. Screw it. He might as well rip off the bandaid.
“I’m flattered that you like me. I really am, and I swear I didn’t laugh at you to belittle your feelings +
it was just so sudden, y’know? I was... shocked, is all. I wouldn’t do that to you. Not after we’ve...”
“Canoodled?” Jeongguk offers, finally turning around to flash him a coy smirk and Taehyung exhales sharply, chokes on his own spit at the other’s shamelessness.
He can’t very well continue now that Jeongguk’s looking at him. He does still possess a little self-preservation.
Jeongguk tilts his head, a playful glint in his eye Taehyung might almost say he’d missed, “is that all?”
Yes. Yes, it is. Taehyung knows what he’s playing at and he refuses to humour him, but he’s also aware he’s treading on thin ice. Jeongguk could very easily turn his back on him again and march right out of here.
So he supposes he can afford to throw him a bone.
Just a tiny one.
“You’re not,” he purses his lips, struggles to get the words out with the way Jeongguk looks at him, as if he /knows/ and finds amusement in Taehyung’s humility, which he no doubt does.
“You’re not half bad.”
Taehyung would like to say he and Jeongguk are back to normal — they’re on good terms, that’s for sure — but he can’t help but take notice of the distance Jeongguk ensures to keep between them. And it’s not that Taehyung misses the closeness or anything. It’s just, well, weird.
That being said, Jeongguk’s been /extremely/ thoughtful and Taehyung doesn’t quite know what to make of his uncharacteristically kind gestures.
Take this morning, for example. Taehyung had just barely gathered his bearings, hauled himself upright when Jeongguk had ++
poked his head inside the tent, albeit giving him a scare.
“Morning, sleepy head.” He’d said, positively beaming despite Taehyung’s less than enthusiastic response, before promptly tossing a muffin in his direction, “got you breakfast.”
They set off nice and early to complete the tasks for the scavenger hunt, figuring it’d be best to get them all done before sundown. Taehyung would rather not have a repeat of their near death experience while orienteering. His ankle’s still recovering.
“Which one are we doing first?” He asks, pocketing his cellphone and trailing after Jeongguk. They’re supposed to take photos to prove they’ve accomplished the challenges, so he hopes there’s nothing too physically taxing on the list.
“Find a wild berry or fruit.” Jeongguk reads aloud, hunkering down by a bush with questionably bright berries, “well, that’s one down.”
And thus they proceed to power through the list of items to find.
It’s almost therapeutic, going for a leisurely stroll through the forest and Taehyung finds he’s actually enjoying himself.
“Alright,” he dusts off his knees, “I’ve got the photo. What’s next?”
And Jeongguk purses his lips, scanning the list with a hum.
“Climb a tree.”
“Are you sure about this tree?” Taehyung asks, gnawing at his lip as Jeongguk clambers up the branches, “maybe we should go find a smaller one.”
His heart lurches just /watching/ him. God.
“Why?” Jeongguk’s at least a good ten metres up by now, “I got this.”
The branches are pretty sturdy, girthy in comparison to those of the surrounding trees, so Taehyung does find comfort in that, but it’s difficult to keep his cool when Jeongguk doesn’t stop.
“Hey,” he calls, the first bout of panic propelling him closer to the base of the tree++
“I think that’s high enough.”
He can barely make him out anymore, his silhouette blocked out by foliage and Taehyung calls out once more.
“Jeongguk, c’mon! I took the photo, can you come down now?”
If Jeongguk falls from this height, Taehyung’s pretty sure he’ll be nursing more than just a broken ankle.
He presses closer to the tree, feels the bark dig into the pads of his fingers as he squints up past the criss crossing branches, just about managing to make out ++
Jeongguk straddling one.
“Jeongguk!” He hisses, frustration gradually displacing the panic filling his chest, “quit fvcking around, would you?”
He’s scared, damn it, afraid Jeongguk might seriously get hurt over a stupid challenge.
Jeongguk huffs, but, nevertheless, begins his descent back to Taehyung.
“Careful Tae.” He says, hopping down onto the penultimate branch, “I might start thinking you actually care about me.”
Now what possesses Taehyung to blurt his genuine thoughts on this is a mystery.
“I do care about you.”
And Jeongguk kind of just stares, a pink flush climbing up the column of his neck and latching onto the tips of his ears. Taehyung would’ve laughed had he not been red in the face, himself.
He hadn’t meant to let that slip.
Although, with it out in the open now, he /can/ breathe a little easier. It was bound to come out at some point anyway.
“What?” He barks, cheeks flaming from sheer embarrassment and effectively startling Jeongguk back into action.
“Nothing.” He says, not the slightest bit convincing, but Taehyung doesn’t press any further. Now is not the time for a heart to heart conversation.
When Jeongguk does eventually sidle up next to him, thankfully unscathed, Taehyung can’t find it within himself to look at him.
Sure, the confession may not have been all that big of a deal, especially since it was probably already a given, considering the fact that they’re /friends/ now.
But it doesn’t make it any less mortifying.
“So,” he jumps, much to Jeongguk’s amusement, “what’s next?”
The scavenger hunt isn’t, surprisingly, all that bad. Disregarding the tree climbing incident, it may just be Taehyung’s favourite camp activity thus far.
It’s not too competitive, doesn’t necessarily require any additional effort and involves a pastime he thoroughly enjoys.
And Jeongguk’s made for relatively pleasant company. He’s cracked a couple jokes here and there, ones Taehyung’s chosen to ignore in favour of retaining his brain cells, but has otherwise kept their light conversation going.
It’s nice, gives Taehyung a chance to know a bit more about him.
In between butting heads and making out in various inconspicuous places throughout the past two weeks, they never really /talked/. At least not about themselves.
Taehyung learns Jeongguk’s favourite colour’s red++
that banana milk runs through his veins and that he has a younger brother who hopes to follow in his footsteps in captaining a varsity team too.
“What about you?” Jeongguk kicks at a loose rock he’d dislodged a couple yards back, “got any siblings? Pet peeves? Secrets?”
“Well,” Taehyung slips his hands into his pockets, taking a minute or two to consider his answers, “you already know I have a sister.”
“In kindergarten, right?” Jeongguk asks, and Taehyung’s steps falter for a moment. He hadn’t thought Jeongguk had been listening back then, ++
let alone that he’d remember such a tiny detail.
“Yeah.” He nods, tries to will away the smile tugging at his lips, “she’s turning 6 next month.”
It had almost slipped his mind, what with everything that had happened recently.
“Which reminds me I have to buy her a present.”
Jeongguk chips in then with a joke Taehyung doesn’t think is as entirely baseless as his previous ones.
“If we’re still talking then, I might just tag along.”
It’s supposed to be funny, made in lighthearted jest, but there’s something about it that doesn’t quite bode so well.
“Why wouldn’t we be talking?”
He’s partly curious, partly joking, and the alarm that spreads across Jeongguk’s face deserves a good chortle.
“Well it’s just, we’re not exactly known for being the best of buds back on campus.” Jeongguk says, rubbing at his nape ++
with a sheepish little smile, “I wasn’t sure if we were doing the whole, ‘what happens at camp stays at camp’ kind of thing, y’know?”
He has a valid point, and Taehyung can’t be mad at the guy for thinking as much, but he supposes he doesn’t hide his discontent very well ++
because then Jeongguk’s hurrying to explain himself.
“I’m not saying that I want to go back to the way things were before all this, pretend like nothing ever happened,” he pauses then, lips pursed in contemplation before he continues, albeit more hesitant ++
“I don’t think I could... pretend. You already know I uh— that I like you. The last thing I’d want is for us to stop talking after all this is over.”
Hearing Jeongguk say that he likes him, out loud and so easily, is something that’ll take Taehyung some time to get used to.
It’s still somewhat surreal to hear and will no doubt leave him flustered every single time Jeongguk utters those three words.
He could never.
So he turns away, if only to hide the heat he feels rising to his cheeks.
“I don’t want to pretend either.” He says, ++
promptly following the embarrassing admission up with an awkward cough.
And Jeongguk doesn’t say much for a minute or two, the silence deafening in Taehyung’s red-tinged ears.
But then he’s falling into step with him, bumping their shoulders w/ a playful hum.
“Then we won’t.”
899. Cant finish an update w/o Hoseok