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Jul 21, 2021
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#vmin AU where taehyung is a cynical, talented author of children's books & jimin is the single, doting dad of the child who happens to be taehyung's biggest fan. au where they meet at a book signing and taehyung isn't the bright, sunny personality they'd expected to see. (+)

cw // smoking Instead, they bump into Taehyung outside the building, a half burned out cigarette between his nervous fingers. He's snapping at someone over the phone, irritation rolling off of him in waves. He curses aloud; Jimin stares, taken aback, as his hands instinctively
come down to cover his child's ears. He frowns, visibly put off, and when Taehyung hangs up the call, Jimin can do little to stop his little girl from running forward with wide, bright eyes and an eager smile as she approaches the author.
And Taehyung isㅡhe doesn't hate kids, he really doesn't. Once, he used to love them. There was a time, when he would dote over them, cooing at their little hands and pudgy cheeks. Now though, as life burrows its way into his frown lines and settles over his heavy sighs, there's
cw // minor character death, depression little joy for him in anything, let alone the hustle and bustle of little children. Amidst his own difficult childhood & estranged relationship with his parents, the loss of his wife & his child in an accident, & the burden of his late
night thoughts, he's grown listless & angry. Bitter. He writes stories for the child he used to be & for the child he later fathered, but between the prose and the poetry, between the dark illustrations and watercolour florals, Taehyung's sadness finds a home between the pages.
And so he's a little bitter, grey oceans crashing against the shores of his heart. It's the kind of sadness that lingers, following him like a shadow & taking a seat beside him when he sits down to have a lukewarm meal by himself in an apartment that feels too large. Too empty.
cw // smoking And he looks down at little girl, at her wide eyes and curious mouth. His heart does a thing, tugs a little at its strings, and thenㅡhis expression hardens a little. "What is it, kid?" He murmurs, lighting another cigarette. He lights it up.
She blinks up at him, the top of her ponytail barely reaching the tops of his thighs. Then, she smiles & holds up the hardcover book in her hands. "Will you sign this for me?" And Jimin, closer now, clears his throat a little. "Please?" She adds, glancing back at her father.
Taehyung sighs, the orange embers of his nicotine stick reflected in her brown eyes. "I don't start the book signing for another half hour, kid," he murmurs, bringing a hand up to rub at his temple. "You can wait in line inside with everyone else." Jimin reaches for her hand.
"Come on, baby, we'll go wait inside, okay?" Jimin murmurs kindly, gently pulling her back by the shoulder before throwing Taehyung a tentative glance. "Fuck," Taehyung mutters, as the two of them walk away, catching the blunt end of his cigarette against his hand and flinching.
The line is long & it's not for another 90 minutes, that Jimin & Ara see Taehyung again. He's got on a neck-tie & is wearing a smile to go with it, looking worlds apart from the weary eyed man they'd walked into earlier that day. "Hello!" Taehyung smiles brightly. It's forced.
Jimin snorts, but Ara is delighted, stepping onto the little foot stool propped up against the table. "Hi," she beams, eyes twinkling like stars. She holds up her book again and Taehyung's smile falters in delayed recognition. "Are you feeling better now, ahjussi?" He blinks.
Taehyung stares for a moment, then tries to smile a little wider, looking down at the book as he opens it to the cover page. "What's your name?" He asks instead. "Ara!" She answers, forgetting her question as easily as it had come. "That's a nice name," Taehyung murmurs.
"Thank you." She preens, the apples of her cheeks pink. "Eomma chose the name, right, appa?" She tilts her head back, looking up at Jimin with a smile that resembles her father's. "That's right," Jimin says softly, fingers gently carding through the flyaway hairs atop her head.
It's not entirely true, although Jimin recalls the way his ex-girlfriend had once expressed liking the nameㅡthat is, before she'd left little Ara with little else besides a note and a chaste kiss over Jimin's sleeping face. He never saw her again, and she'd made it clear she
wanted nothing else to do with the child. Ara was unplanned, the result of a drunken night right out of high school. But Jimin's never had the heart to tell her that her mother left by choice, leaving nothing behind but Ara's name and the shape of her eyes.
And so, Jimin tells Ara about her mother in the best light that he possibly can. He tells her about her mother's sense of humor, her laughter and her smile, tells her that she'd named their baby with affection in her voice. He doesn't talk about the way she'd fallen into
the sort of helplessness and despair that sometimes came with childbirth. Post-partum depression made living together difficult at times, and Jimin figures, years down the road, that maybe her absence has been for the better. And while Ara has grown up without her mother, Jimin
thinks he does the best he can do to play the role of both parents. Presently, Taehyung scribbles over the cover page, then caps his pen again. "There," he says, handing the book back. "Thank you," Ara gushes, hugging the book to her chest. It's wider than her frame.
And if Taehyung's mouth quirks up at the corner in a smile that's softer than he registers it to be, no one says anything.
And, and, maybe Jimin and Taehyung meet again, their paths crossing as though they were always meant to do so. It's as if their lives are bound together by an invisible string, its fraying edges red with the touch of fate. So they meet, outside stations and inside coffee shops.
They meet at the corner store of Insadong's art district, when the weather is no longer hot and Taehyung's turtleneck brushes along the edges of his jaw. They're standing on opposite ends of the display counter, a lilac sketchpad in Jimin's hand for Ara's art classes at school.
Taehyung is reaching for a pack of gel pens when their eyes meet, and Jimin is the first to smile. Taehyung almost looks a little affronted at the greeting, before he nods in greeting. "You live around here, author-nim?" Jimin asks casually, because ever since that day in June,
it's as though Taehyung is suddenly everywhere. "Maybe," Taehyung says curtly, and Jimin breathes out a quiet, bemused huff. "Are you this bright when you write those fairytales too?" Jimin jokes, and Taehyung gives him a dry, withering glance.
Taehyung doesn't answer; there's no need to. But for those wondering, Taehyung is indeed quite the same when he writes. Often, he's even more withdrawn, irritation weaving a frown over his young, pretty face. He's written stories after one too many glasses of burgundy wine.
He's poured over his manuscripts, vision blurry and eyes damp as he hunches over the pages and maps out illustrations of a little boy that looks like his own lost child. He's inhaled nicotine, tapping away the ashes over tainted pages, a tear stain here and an ink stain there.
He's crumpled up page after page, tossing them into the bin and missing only half the time. And then he's lied back down on the sofa, nursing a headache and a glass of amber liquid, pages strewn over the floor amidst crayons and pens and bottles of ink.
But no one needs to know that, and he doesn't grace Jimin with an answer as he pays the bill and walks out of the shop.
But then they meet again, and this time it's at the end of December, when Ara is staying with her grandparents over the holidays and Jimin is trying to meet deadlines at work. They meet on a day off, when Jimin rewards himself with a break, when the days are short and the nights
are too long, and they're both a little tipsy as they find each other on the neon-lit dancefloor opposite a dimly lit bar. And Jiminㅡhe never does this, he doesn't bring strangers over for a casual fck. He's hardly dated through college or after that, too busy with looking
after Ara and trying to fill the role of both a mother and a father. 🔞 And it's beenㅡgosh, it's been ages since he's been with another man like /this/, grunting softly as he rocks up against slender hips and digs his fingers into soft, tanned skin.
🔞 He doesn't even get a look at the man's face, doesn't exchange a single word the entire night as th takes it from the back wordlessly, gripping the headboard of the inexpensive bed. Jm pulls out before he finishes. Later, after his partner falls asleep, he lies on his back
& stares up at the chipped paint over his ceiling, wondering if Ara's okay. Because that's all there is now. Ara. His mind always comes back to her, little space left in his heart & mind for himself. (He doesn't allow himself to think of something like this happening again.)
And it's later, as the alcohol flushes itself out of his system and daylight sets in, sun rising over the mountainous backdrop of Seoul, does he finally register Taehyung's presence. Like this, still asleep and quiet and without the omnipresent frown over his brows, he looks
almost peacefulㅡamiable even, if not still a little lonely and world-weary. There are bruises beneath his eyes from months and years of tossing and turning in his sleep, a dimple between his lips where a habitual cigarette often finds a nervous home.
Half undressed & groggy, Jimin pauses on his way to the bathroom as his eyes linger on Taehyung's sleeping face & he wonders to himself what the other's story isㅡwonders why it is that Taehyung, despite being as young as he is, seems to have shut the world out & built up walls.
When he returns from his shower, towel laid over his head, the bed is empty and Taehyung is gone. It's just as well, because Jimin's phone vibrates with a call and things (rightfully) fall into place once again. Plopping down onto the bed, Jimin answers the call, & Ara's bright
smile comes into view. And for a while, Taehyung is forgotten, as are Jimin's desires to find companionship, intimacyㅡor even just a distraction from his day to day roles. He's back to being a father, a mother, an office worker, a son. That's all there is to it, really.
And then, as winter passes by & spring comes along, the seasons shedding their fluffy white coats for something a little brighter, laced with pink & white cherry blossomsㅡthey meet again. This time, it's in the dairy aisle of a grocery store. Jimin almost laughs in disbelief.
Taehyung glances up, a packaged bottle of almond milk in his hands. He lifts a brow & breathes out a noise of amused disbelief. "About time," he says; it's the first time he's made an almost-joke around Jimin. "Was beginning to believe I was finally free of you." Jimin snorts.
"How's the kid?" Taehyung asks off-handedly. "Ara's good," Jimin murmurs, lifting a cart of chocolate milk into his trolley. "Hope she, uh, wasn't home that night," he murmurs. "Whaㅡoh," Jimin blinks, before chuckling. "No. No, she was with my parents for the holidays."
"They live in Busan, so," Jimin explains, shrugging a little. "Bit warmer than it is here & she likes the beach." Taehyung grins a little at that. "Knew you didn't quite sound like a Seoul-guy," he says lightly, to which Jimin rolls his eyes & grins back. "Surprise surprise."
There's a bit of a pause in which Jimin hesitates and then, "Look, I don't normally do that stuff. I don't know whatㅡ" "It's fine," Taehyung shrugs. Jimin blinks, peering up at him, and then nods. "Okay, cool. So, we can justㅡ" "Pretend it never happened?" Taehyung offers.
Jimin smiles a little, helplessly, and nods. "Don't worry about it," Taehyung chuckles. "It's not really my thing either." "What? Sleeping with men?" Jimin quirks a brow. He lowers his voice a little; they're outside after all. "No," Taehyung says, "Flings."
"Ah," Jimin nods in understanding. "No, same. IㅡI actually haven't evenㅡ" He pauses, realizing he's divulging too much information to someone who's basically a stranger. He hesitates, then throws caution to the winds. Screw it. "I haven't even really been with anyone sinceㅡ"
He shrugs. "Since Ara's mother." "Divorced?" Taehyung asks quietly. "No, we were never married," Jimin admits, a little sheepish. Taehyung lifts a brow & Jimin looks down at his feet. "Do you ever regret it?" Taehyung asks, curious. "What? Ara?" Jimin smiles faintly. "Never."
"Raising her alone though, on the other hand..." he trails off, a sigh sitting at the edge of his lips. "I don't...regret it, but I won't say I've never wished it would be easier." "I get that," Taehyung says softly. "Raising kids is tough." "Yeah? You got kids?" Jimin asks.
The question seems to have a visceral reaction, and Taehyung winces a little. His lips press together thinly, gaze hardening a little. He looks for a moment, as though breathing is too difficult. "Used to," Taehyung mutters quietly. "Had a little boy." "Had..?" Jimin murmurs.
Taehyung hesitates for a moment, nervous trepidation settling over his shoulders. He's never spoken about it aloud with anyone but his therapist. It feels almost wrong somehow, as if saying it aloud solidifies the fact further. "My wifeㅡ" he starts, brows pulling together.
"She got into an accident on the way home once." He pauses, biting the inside of his cheek. "Jongsuk was in the back seat, andㅡwell. You know." Jimin stands still, feet rooted to the ground. "He was three," Taehyung murmurs, then smiles faintly. "Sure looked like me."
"Oh," Jimin finally breathes. Taehyung's world pulls away from below his feet; Jimin feels as though it takes him with it. "Fuck, I'm so sorry." "Don't be," Taehyung murmurs. "S'not like it's your fault." But Jimin feels as though something ragged has pierced through his heart.
"What about your wife..?" He asks, words hushed. For a moment, he forgets where they are; the world is empty, except for Jimin and Taehyung, and the lingering shadow of despair that's been following him around for all these years. It stands between them now, like an old friend.
Taehyung's smile falters a little and he hesitates. "It was a pretty bad accident." "Oh," Jimin whispers, and he swallows hard. "Yeah," Taehyung murmurs. The silence that stretches on after that feels infinite.
"I guess we're both no strangers to love and to loss," Taehyung says after a bit, and his faux smile is back in placeㅡthe one he'd worn like an accessory at the book signing event. Jimin nods a little, too stunned to say much else, and when they part ways later, he wonders if
the loneliness that eats away at him is even a fraction of what the other must be feeling.
And then, they drift away again, like the foam atop river currents that run in opposite directions. Jimin loses himself to work and parenthood again. And if he holds Ara a little tighter, lingers a little longer when he kisses her cheek at bedtimeㅡwell.
Meanwhile, Taehyung writes and he writes and he writes. Then he writes some more. Some nights are worse than others, and he finds himself heaving over the toilet seat after one drink too many. On these nights, he dreams of bright eyes and twinkling laughter, of small handsㅡ
that fit snuggly against the center of his palms. He dreams of quick, happy feet and peels of laughter, of clumsy first steps andㅡ Sterile hospital rooms. Funeral parlors. He dreams of it all, and then he writes. And he writes some more.
. Taehyung sips on his coffee, a warm caramel macchiato. It's the only kind he can stomach, not too sweet, nor too bitter. It's summer again, & his publisher has just walked out of the coffee shop. 'The bookㅡ' he'd said, hesitating, 'It's a bit...dark, don't you think so?'
And yeah, maybe it's a little. Dark. For a kids' book. Taehyung can acknowledge that. 'There's a fairy in it,' he'd said though, slowly enunciating the name, 'Peupeu.' 'Well, Peupeu needs to get some help,' his publisher had muttered.
Taehyung taps his fingers against the table, staring at the door long after the man walks out. The coffee runs cold and he inhales deeply, suppressing what swells inside of him like a weary sigh. Well. He'll just have to rewrite it, that's all.
He stares out the door until his vision blurs, colours & shapes overlapping. A switch seems to flip itself off somewhere at the back of his mind; for a moment the world ceases to exist. His surroundings become white noise, static against the roar of his pulse over his eardrums.
A chair scrapes against the floor loudly and Taehyung blinks. The world comes back into focus, bringing with it a familiar face. Ara is leaning over the table, arms outstretched over the mahogany towards him. Her chin rests on the wood, big eyes staring up at him curiosly.
"Do you need a hug?" she asks somberly, head bobbing against the wood with every word. She blinks up at him and Taehyung blinks back. "What?" He shakes his head a little. Where did she even come from? He frowns, perplexed. "Where's your faㅡ" "You had that look," she says.
What look? He tenses a little, feeling defensie, and schools back a passive expression. "Appa always tells me he needs a hug after he looks like that," she says quietly. Her feet kick back and forth, skirt flaring over her legs where she's perched on the very edge of the chair.
"I wasn't looking like anything," Taehyung retorts, twisting around in his seat to look for Jimin. Sure enough, Jimin is seated by the window, frowning at his laptop as he types away. A tall glass of iced, black coffee sits on his table and Taehyung looks back at Ara.
"Aren't you supposed to be with your dad?" He asks, wary. "I'm bored," she says quickly, wide eyes staring right into his soul. He squirms internally and lowers his gaze, too afraid of how easy it is for this child to read him. "Shouldn't just wander off, y'know," he mutters.
"I didn't," she says, pointing a small hand towards Jimin. "Appa said I can walk around as long as he can see me." Taehyung snorts a little at that and then nods towards the café. "Walk around somewhere else, then. I've got work to do." She stares, then shakes her head.
Taehyung holds back a sigh. He can feel a headache coming on already. "Listen, kid, I appreciate the company, butㅡ" "Are you destressed?" She cuts in, curiosity lacing her young voice. Taehyung falters at that. The question hits him like a slap. He swallows.
"Appa's deㅡdestressed," she says, frowning a little as though she's unsure of the word. Taehyung can't help it. He hesitates and then offers, "Depressed." "Hm?" She kicks her feet back a little harder, pigtails bouncing atop her head. "It's 'depressed'," Taehyung murmurs.
She nods a little. "Yeah, that. Are youㅡyou know?" Taehyung falters a little and then breathes out a disbelieving chuckle. "Do you know what that even means?" Ara pauses, gaze drifting towards the ceiling as she pretends to think. She hums softly, then shakes her head again.
"Where'd you even hear that?" Taehyung mutters, feeling a little unsettled. He turns a little and glances over his shoulder. Jimin is busy, too absorbed in his work to notice. "Appa said it," she says. "To you?" Taehyung asks, incredulous. "No," she shakes her head.
"I heard him telling grandma," she explains. "He said he was feeling destreㅡ" "Depressed," Taehyung supplies helpfully, voice quiet. "Yeah, he said that," she says, shrugging a little. "And he looked like that." She points at Taehyung, bright eyes swimming with questions.
"Like what?" Taehyung dares to ask. His voice drops to a shaky whisper and Ara copies him, sliding off the chair to tip-toe as she leans even closer and whispers theatrically. "Like the way he looks when he misses the bus," she whispers, bringing a hand up to conceal her mouth.
And it's both apt and ridiculous, so Taehyung breathes out a short laugh. It's a hollow sort of laugh, because while unexpected, he gets what she means. 'Like the way he looks when he misses the bus'ㅡthe way he looks when his life slips right through his fingers.
It's the expression of a man who's got everything, only to have it snatched away from him. Taehyung wonders if he looks like a man who's missed the bus, the train. The flight. He wonders if he looks betrayed, quiet panic flooding his veins.
He wonders if his face betrays the love he's lost and he gulps, hard. He opens his mouth but the words escape him even as Ara gazes up at him expectantly. The world seems to slow down again, becoming a blur of colour and noise. His eyes sting with something warm, chest tight.
"Have you ever missed a bus?" Ara asks, smiling up at him sweetly. "It's reaaaally annoyingㅡI missed the school bus once." "Yeah," Taehyung murmurs, heart heavy. "I have." "It was the worst day of my life!" She declares, nose scrunching up. "Mine too," Taehyung whispers.
"Was it a school bus?" She asks, curious once more. Taehyung blinks a few times, blinking back the dampness that clings to his lashes for a moment. He clears his throat a bit and shakes his head. "No, uh. Not quite." "Were you very sad?" She asks, voice hushed and eyes big.
"Yeah," Taehyung whispers, taking in a slow, shaky breath. His mind feels heavy, coated with cobwebs. He barely registers the little hand that settles atop his own as Ara pats his hand, much like he assumes Jimin pats hers as he puts her to sleep every night.
She pats his hand slowly, a gentle rhythm to the way she comforts him, as though she's the adult and he's a toddler with a scraped knee. "Do you need to cry?" She asks, and Taehyung wants to both laugh and cry. He can see the hard earned fruit of Jimin's efforts in raising her.
"Does your father often ask you that, too?" Taehyung murmurs, breathing out a watery sort of chuckle. She nods, saying, "He says it's better to get it out instead of holding it all inside, or else I'll get sick." "He's right, though," Taehyung murmurs.
"You shouldn't get sick either," she says, offering him a smile that pinches at his heart and eases the tears past his lashes. He blinks, and a tear slips through, breaking the facade he's held up for all this time. He swallows again, so hard that he thinks his heart might be
pushing up against the back of his throat. "I won't," he reassures her. Her smile widens a little and the world comes rushing back in, with all of its sights and sounds. The smell of coffee makes itself known, and Taehyung is reminded of the fact that they're sitting in the
middle of a coffee shop in broad daylight. He blinks & lowers his gaze for a moment, withdrawing his hand from the middle of the table. Ara's hand falls against the wood with a 'thud' & she scoots back up onto her chair, looking as though she's worried she did something wrong.
[A/N this was just meant to be an au prompt idk why it turned into a thread 😭 sorry for all the grammar mistakes & rushing along in the first half of the thread dnsnsm was kinda busy when I wrote it quickly but tysm for reading this!!! ♡ gonna be back tmrw 🥺]
Taehyung must have lost track of time, because he doesn't know when the sun had started its descent. It's no longer at its peak, instead suspended amidst the clouds in all of its golden hour glory. A chair scrapes against the floor & footsteps draw near.
"Ara?" A familiar voice calls our for her & she slides off of the chair. She's a little small for her age, petite & light; briefly, Taehyung wonders how old she isㅡwonders if Jongsuk would've been her age by now. He swallows past the cotton wool lodged in his throat & looks up.
Jimin is hurrying over, black rimmed glasses perched over his nose, and he stops in his tracks when his eyes land on Taehyung. He pauses, blinking, and then grins lightly, "Well, I'll be damned." Taehyung hopes he doesn't look as miserable as he feels as he attempts a smile too.
"Hope she wasn't disturbing you," Jimin says, apologetic even as he takes Ara's hand into his own & pulls her close. She slips behind him, peering at Taehyung. "No, IㅡI was just about to leave anyway," he says. His now-cold cup of coffee is half full, manuscript untouched.
"Oh, yeah?" Jimin quirks a brow. "Well, I just finished up with some work too and...Ara and I were gonna go to the park, then get samgyeopsal for dinner..." He trails off for a moment, looking unsure. Pausing, Jimin bites his lip and says, "You're more than welcome to join."
Taehyung hesitates but then his mouth seems to decide for him, as he says, "Okay." Jimin looks a little surprised, as though he hadn't expected Taehyung to accept the invitation. And if he notices the way Taehyung's eyes are rimmed red, damp along the corners, he says nothing.
The walk to the park is quiet for the most part. Taehyung hangs back a little, ten steps behind as Jimin & Ara walk together ahead. He watches with a quiet sort of nostalgia, at the way Ara pauses to point out every oddly shaped leaf & flowers in her favourite colour. (Blue.)
It turns out Ara's turning five tomorrow. It seems fitting, if she was born when Jimin was twentyㅡwhich means Jimin is probably the same age as he is. Taehyung thinks about the numbers and the hypotheticals, lost in his thoughts as he followsㅡten steps behind at all times.
Jongsuk would have been four this year. Taehyung had gotten married early, half way through college, to his then girlfriend of eight years. High school sweethearts. Childhood sweethearts. Something like that. He falters in his steps and then stops, heart sinking like an anchor.
The sun has set by now, sky painted with shades of lavender and rose. The shadows of the trees grow longer, Taehyung's own shadow twice as large as it was just moments agoㅡas if his sadness has fallen into step with him. His feet remain rooted to the ground, and his mind drifts.
He does this a lotㅡdrifting. His mind likes to wander lately, likes to skip over stones & fly over mountains. A coping mechanism, perhaps. It feels a lot like dissociating, & yet not, whenever his mind shuts itself off & he feels as though he's looking at himself through a lens.
He zones out for a moment, lost in thoughts of what used to be. Briefly, he wonders if most people grieve for this long as well, or if people move on & step into the boundaries of sanity earlier. Taehyung doesn't feel very normal, doesn't know if his sanity is intact most days.
Hell, he can't even remember if he used to be any different before all of this. He thinks he might have been. He remembers laughing a lot, easy to please and quick to feel amused. He used to be affectionate and loud, fun and excitable, social andㅡ Just. Different.
Amidst the thoughts that miss his family, Taehyung wonders if it's strange that above allㅡ He misses himself.
"Hey, you coming, or what?" Jimin's voice cuts through the air like a gust of wind. Taehyung blinks and looks up. Jimin and Ara are already at the end of the path, making their way back as Jimin points to the station at his left. "Bus'll be here in five minutes!" He calls out.
Taehyung's feet stay rooted to the earth; then, with a strength he didn't know he possessed, he manages to take a step forward and then another. And then, as if the universe is playing a game of metaphors with him, Taehyung leaves behind a part of him when he steps onto the bus.
Perhaps he doesn't realise it then, but a fraction of the weight that holds down his heart chips away a little as the doors of the bus close behind him. Perhaps, the universe has decided that it's time for him to get up on the next bus, & to try again after missing the last one.
Dinner is a quiet affair. Taehyung doesn't speak much and neither Jimin nor Ara prompt him to. That doesn't stop Ara from chattering a mile a minute though, telling Taehyung everything and nothing. Taehyung learns that her favourite colour is blue. She likes the ocean.
Ara likes ballet and dislikes peas. ('Me too,' he thinks briefly). She likes Maths and hates just about everything else so far, but she's only five and she's only in kindergarten and she's only just learned to count backwards from a hundred.
And Taehyung hums and he nods appropriately; doesn't say much but she seems content regardless. It's the first time in a long while that he's actually sat down and shared a meal with another person; a meal that isn't another leftover takeaway running cold on the table.
And later that night, when he lets himself into his quiet apartment, he wonders if it's okayㅡif it's really, truly okayㅡfor him to feel a little happier, if only for a moment. There's something infectious about Ara's laughter, much like her father's. They both giggle and then
chuckle, dimples pressing into their cheeks as their noses scrunch up with delight. Infectious enough that, despite Taehyung's stubborn determination to remain unhappy, he had found himself smiling along. For just one evening, he had felt. Nice.
A part of him, a rather large part, feels guilty. Is it too soon to smile again? Too soon to relieve the burden that settles over his shoulders and suffocates him to sleep at night? What exactly is too soon? How long did one have to mourn the loss of a child and a forever-love?
He supposes he'd be mourning forever, but a small part of him wonders if he could be allowed happiness again. Even if it's something as brief, as passing as a shared dinner or listening to a child's laughter. Maybe even the delight that comes with the first snow, or the happiness
that comes with coming home after a long day's work. Is he...allowed to...laugh, perhaps? To go out with people, to make friends, to enjoy food again, to smile again, toㅡ To fall in love again?
Taehyung's never dated guys, never had the time. He'd been friends with his then-girlfriend since they were seven, had asked her out when they were teenagers and then had married her in college. He'd been devoted to her through most of his life so far, for as long as he could be.
But he's been no stranger to knowing he'd found men attractive, even in middle school. When he was nineteen, he'd told his girlfriend he thinks he might be bi, and she'd shrugged and they'd never spoken of it again. And Taehyung hadn't thought of it much either, not until after.
Not until months after the funeral, when an old friend had come by and, in a moment of weakness, had kissed Taehyung. And Taehyung had kissed him back. And they'd been a little drunk as they made their way to the bedroom, but it felt right at the time and they'd both wanted to
fall into each other. And they'd done it again, once, twice, four times, and then they acted like it never happened. Taehyung lost himself in his writing, and his friend announced his engagement to a girl he'd only ever met twice. A family decision, or something.
And then Taehyung had sworn to himself that he wouldn'tㅡcouldn'tㅡbe with anyone else again...that is, until a few months ago, when he'd found himself pinned underneath Jimin's sturdy yet light frame, against unfamiliar bedsheets. They'd kissed, but only fleetingly, before
Taehyung had turned away with a knot in his throat and an ache in his chest. And they'd done what they had to do, with his face pressed into the pillow and his back turned to the other, and when Taehyung had woken up the next morning, he left before Jimin could greet him.
That's where the chapter should have ended, but Taehyung's story seems to keep finding its way back into Jimin's. The sonnets of his life filter into the pages of Jimin's book, staining them with ink and familiarity.
Jimin is still, in many ways, a strangerㅡif not, perhaps, a familiar one. Taehyung doesn't know a single thing about him that amounts to anything substantial. But he knows the little things that he almost wishes he didn't. He knows that Jimin has a chip along his front tooth.
He knows there's a tiny freckle at the base of Jimin's pinky that matches Taehyung's own. He knows that Jimin enjoys spicy food and mixes his drinks. He knows that Jimin dances like it's his last day on this world. Taehyung has watched him from the bar, entranced by the way
Jimin would move, eyes closed and body lost to the music. He knows that Jimin drinks black coffee and that he's 'destressed'. Jimin's family lives in Busan and he's one heck of a parent. He knows that Jimin loves his daughter more than anything else in the world.
He knows that Jimin loves good food and that he used to dance. Little facts, passing information gathered from table talk & amidst the aisles of stationery shops and grocery stores over the last ten months. He doesn't know much else, like Jimin's birthday, his favourite colour.
He doesn't know what kind of job he works at, what his dreams and his fears are. He knows Jimin cries in his sleep though, had seen it that one night when the hands on the clock hung between the printed 4 & 5. As if by instinct, Taehyung had reached out and placed a hand over
Jimin's chest, patting gently until the heart underneath his palm had calmed itself down. He didn't have the heart to leave just then, waiting until he'd felt Jimin get out of bed hours later. And now, amidst these thoughts, Taehyung realizes one thingㅡthat for one, brief
moment, he hadn't been thinking of anything else. He'd been so lost in thoughts of dimpled smiles and freckled hands that Taehyung had forgotten to remain sad for just a moment. He's already had enough to drink, bitter soju coating his tongue, but as he trudges into the kitchen,
he reaches for the wine bottle, hands shaking. It was the perfect remedy to temporary happiness. Whenever Taehyung forgot, whenever he found himself smilingㅡhe turned to the misery that came with a drink or two or three, pushing himself back under the river currents of despair.
cw // implied alcohol dependence And it's funny, maybe, that he seeks to medicate his happiness instead of his sadness. He doesn't have a problemㅡnot really. He's not addicted to drink and inebriation. He's fine without it, but it's the nights like this, when the hours stretch
too long and the guilt eats away at himㅡ That's when it soothes him the most. So now, as he settles on the couch, a glass of something deep burgundy in his hands, Taehyung closes his eyes and lets himself swim in the shame.
He doesn't know when he falls asleep, but it must be soon after he hits the couch because the glass is still half full when it slips out of his hands and falls to the ground, staining it red. He slips into a fitful sort of sleep, haunted by dreams that make little sense.
The dreams are always the same; disconnected laughter, running feet, familiar scents and warm embraces. And then it all comes crashing together, like a truck against a concrete wall. It's been months, well over a year, but Taehyung doesn't think there's been a single night where
he hasn't woken up in cold sweat, panting and damp with perspiration. He relives the day his life had fallen apart over and over again, like one would relive the last moments of their life. It plays in his mind, like a sick movie or an unsettling recording.
He wakes up to the memory of the phone ringing incessantly, like an alarm that never shuts off. It rings like it wants to chase him out of his dreams, growing louder and louder until Taehyung wants to buckle forward and slap his hands over his ears. But the ringing only grows
louder, echoing along the hollows of his skull until he's crouched over the floor and dry heaving with tears clinging to his lashes and his heart lodged against the base of his throat. And then, every once in a while, he'll remember a memory he's tried so hard to block out.
He'll remember looking out the window, his wife on the phone as she tells him she's nearly there. Jongsuk mumbles something in the back, and then mimics the sound of a plane: whoosh. He'll remember the way his heart had dropped into his stomach, phone slipping out of his hand as
cw // car accident , death of a minor character a familiar car loses control of the wheel right before his eyes. It skids after knocking into a black sedan, before it flips over. Once, twice. And then it stops in the middle of a busy intersection. The oncoming truck never stops.
And Taehyung had watched, feet rooted to the ground. He'd heard the twisting of metal through the phone where it lay on the carpeted flooring of his publisher's office. He hadn't been able to move, stunned into silence and paralysed with fear and shock.
And then the phone started ringing, and it wouldn't stop. It didn't stop for the entire hour Taehyung stood frozen by the window. It didn't stop as the ambulance came and the hospital took over. It didn't stop later either, when the funeral parlor took charge.
And now, as Taehyung jolts awake and gasps for air, the phone continues to ring. His heart speeds up, perspiration sticking to the collar of his shirt. His chest feels tight, every breath labored and heavy. He's panicked, fear gripping every bone in his body.
He answers without checking, and the breath he'd been holding escapes him in a rush when he hears a familiar voice on the other end of the line. It's his editor, and as Taehyung gulps in oxygen, he hopes the man on the other end of the line doesn't notice him crumbling.
He doesn't sleep again that night, and he doesn't touch the wine again. Instead, he picks up a pen and a notebook and he does the only thing that helps him forget without any guilt. He writes.
He doesn't see Jimin again, not for a while. But their stories are intertwined and their lives are meant to mold into one, and so, as summer comes to an end and fall begins again, Taehyung lights a candle for the eighteen months that have passed in mourning.
They meet again, as they must, at a lantern festival around Chuseok. Jimin's alone today, bundled up in a woolen scarf and a blue coat that brings out the threads of honey in his brown eyes. There's a camera in his hands and a pensive frown over his features.
He doesn't notice Taehyung as he walks backwards, trying to fit the landscape into the lens of his camera, and he stumbles a little when he walks right into a solid figure that catches him instinctively when he stumbles. Blinking, he turns around and his apology trails off.
And perhaps it's testament to the fact that they keep finding each other like this, that it's been nearly a year of crossing pathsㅡbut Jimin's expression is neither one of surprise, nor of amusement. Instead, he smiles, as if Taehyung is an old friend. Or maybe, it's just
pityㅡsympathy, maybe? Maybe Jimin remembers the way Taehyung had looked after his brief conversation with Ara at the coffee shop all those weeks ago. Maybe he remembers the way Taehyung's voice had cracked when he spoke about his wife and son. Maybe, Jimin is just being kind.
"Hey," he breathes, the word escaping him with cold mist. Taehyung lets go of him, murmuring an equally soft, "hey." There's no point turning away anymore, no point running in circles to get away from each other, so for once, instead of leaving, Taehyung asks, "how are you?"
"Good," Jimin says softly. "You?" Taehyung pauses, thinking about it. "As good as I can be," he says finally. Jimin nods in understanding. There's a pause, then: "Haven't seen you since, uh, that day," Jimin says. "Oh," Taehyung murmurs. "I didn'tㅡI don't have your number."
Jimin nods slowly, looking towards the lanterns. He hesitates, then, "I could give it to you. Y'know, if you need anything, or just...need to talk to someone." It's too intuitive, and Taehyung wonders if maybe Ara has spoken about her conversation with him. But maybe not.
There's something warm about Jimin that makes Taehyung believe he'd always be willing to give a shoulder to lean on to just about anyone. "Sure," Taehyung murmurs, a little dazed.
That night, before Taehyung goes to bed, the looks through the phone at the photos of crimson amd gold foliage and he falls asleep with the knowledge that he now has one more, new number on his phone.
They meet at a bar. Not the kind with a dance floor at the back, but the kind where human beings with hollowed shells stopped by to substitute the emptiness of their souls with a drink. Taehyung had been the one to text him first, about a month after he'd gotten Jimin's number.
Now, a couple drinks later, Taehyung hardly remembers what excuse he'd come up with to invite the other. Frankly, he doesn't care. He's justㅡ Not happy. Relieved, maybe. As it is, Jimin and Ara have been the only people Taehyung has really spoken to ever since. Well. That.
That isㅡthe only people outside of his usual circle of publishers, editors & illustrators. So he's not. Happy to see Jimin. That is to say, he isn't unhappy either, he's just. There's a cavity somewhere in his chest, right beneath his heart, that feels a little fuller now.
It's as if something familiar has settled beneath his rib cage and made itself a home, right against his sternum. Something warm, somethingㅡ Companionship, maybe. Friendship, perhaps. Taehyung thinks Jimin could be a friend, by now. He'd like that.
Most of Taehyung's old friendships have receded into shadows, it seems. They now linger, like pleasant memories, and take their seat beside the shadow of his heavy heart that always accompanies him wherever he goes. He'd drifted away from everyone after the incident, withdrawn.
So here they are; Jimin and Taehyung. They're at a bar, but not the kind with a dance floor at the back. It's the kind that's made for the broken hearted, and Jimin's smile runs like a balm over the cracks that line the walls Taehyung has laboriously built up.
They talk about a bit of nothingness at first. The weather. The rain. The heat. The cold. And then they talk about Ara, because she's all that Jimin really thinks about these days. And then they talkㅡ About little Jongsukkie and his bright eyes and his infectious smiles.
And Taehyung's smile twists into something miserable. So Jimin reaches over and he holds him, until the soju has been washed through their veins. Until the hour hand ticks towards midnight. Until the rain begins to fall again. Until the rain stops. When they pull away, Taehyung
breathes easier than he has in months, and he means it when he mumbles a quiet, 'thank you.'
__ "How are you feeling?" Taehyung looks up at the man before him. He's at the therapist's again. He smiles softly, tired, and he shrugs a little. "Better, I guess." "That's good." . . Living gets a little easier too. __
December rolls around and the pillars of Taehyung's life begin to shift a little. It's snowing, and in much the same the way that the snowflakes find a path between the skies and the earthㅡTaehyung finds a place for himself in the little space that Jimin and Ara call home.
It's not 'home' in the traditional senseㅡit isn't the brick walls & cool concrete. 'Home', to Jimin & Ara is wherever they are together. Home is in the coffee shops & libraries, the paved sidewalks & blossoming gardens. It's in back of a cab, & the sands of the beach.
Home is where the two of them are & Taehyung somehow finds himself right in the middle of it. It starts with infrequent dinners together, which later turn into frequent ones & walks in the park. Before he knows it, Taehyung is walking Ara home from school when Jimin is at work.
Jimin buys him coffee until he realises that Taehyung is only pretending to like the drink, too polite to turn down the bitter wake-me-up. So then, he buys him hot cocoa and Taehyung shouldn't feel as emotional about it as he does, butㅡwell.
The end of the year rounds the corner, and with it, Taehyung's birthday. He'd have forgotten about it, if not for the flowers that greet him on his desk when he goes to work. They're from his editor, a concise but thoughtful, 'happy birthday' sprawled over the card neatly.
And it's as he's carrying the basket home later that night, weighed down with sweet, sticky rice cakes, large pears and a bouquet of flowersㅡit's then that he feels the edges of embarrassment scorching at his cheeks when he finds Jimin at the very same bus stop.
He tries to conceal the basket a little, tries his best to avoid Jimin's inquisitive eyes, but Jimin is quick and Taehyung is thankfully onlyba little mortified when the latter gasps publicly and exclaims: "It's your birthday?!"
It is, yeah. But it's nothing special. Certainly nothing to write home about, but the following morning, he's greeted with a handwritten card that's been dropped off at his door by the mailman. It's in Ara's writing, love scrawled over the page in every colour of the rainbow.
(And if Taehyung calls in sick for the day and curls up on the couch with tears in his eyes and an ache in his heartㅡ Well, no one's any the wiser.)
Winter passes by as quickly as it had come. Taehyung lights the candles that mark 24 months since That Day. Two years. Jimin lights them with him. And then they pray. (Taehyung tries not to think about how Jimin has become a permanent fixture in his life by now.)
Taehyung wonders if he's moved on too soon, when he finally finds it a little easier to fall asleep at nights. He's doing better, but with the ease comes a different kind of guilt that eats away at him, nibbling at his subconscious mind until it's all he can think of.
He wonders if it's okay to sleep dreamlessly at night, or if it's okay to think of Ara instead of Jongsuk when he comes across an ice cream truck or a purple balloon. He wonders if it's okay to forget about his heartache sometimes, and to find himself gazing at Jimin longingly.
Then one day, long after Ara has gone to bed and Taehyung's eyelids have begun to grow heavy where he sits on the couchㅡJimin kisses him. And Taehyung stops wondering at all for a moment. For just one, fleeting moment, everything is forgotten.
Neither of them is drunk this time. There's nothing in their veins but the lingering caffeine of lukewarm tea with honeyed ginger. It's a chaste little thing, a fleeting brush of soft lips over his ownㅡbut Taehyung feels like the moment stretches on for an eternity.
It's a kiss that could be saying 'hello' or 'goodbye', perhaps a 'it's nice to know you'. It could mean new beginnings or overdue farewells, but the truth isㅡTaehyung doesn't know what it means when Jimin pulls back shyly and Taehyung leans in instead.
When Taehyung kisses him, chasing Jimin's lips underneath the safety of the night, he doesn't know if he's kissing Jimin because he wants to or because he needs to. He's not sure if it means, 'I like you,' or if it borders on, 'thank you for finding me'.
The kiss is slow and soft. And after that, neither of them knows who continues to kiss the other. They give and they take in equal measure, contentㅡand for the first time, Taehyung doesn't hate himself for it. They fall together, like stars colliding. Brilliantly.
[A/N: that's it for now hehe bed time for me. Thank u to those who are still reading this 🥺💕 qt rts are always appreciated ♡ Here's the start of the thread… ]


#vmin AU where taehyung is a cynical, talented author of children's books & jimin is the single, doting dad of the child who happens to be taehyung's biggest fan. au where they meet at a book signing and taehyung isn't the bright, sunny personality they'd expected to see. (+)
[ for those who would like to and are able to, here's my lil tip jar 🥺 ]


jm → th: love you, pretty fan account vmin | s/h | 20s
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