Jungkook’s art commissions were piling up at the same rate as his motivation for doing them was depleting.
Taehyung, a part timer at an art gallery, was underpaid but overzealous.
Cupid, meanwhile, was working overtime, this holiday season.
Artist Jungkook, Student Taehyung
Aged up Jungkook, younger Taehyung
Imperfect writer’s imperfect characters
Jungkook just couldn't find the shade of periwinkle blue on his messy table since the last 15 mins and finally threw his palette on the ground in frustration.
He was late on his commission, sub par on the progress and once again away from his family on Christmas.
He walked out of his apartment and wandered aimlessly on the well-lit roads of Seoul, with a lot of dark thoughts about his own self-
Had he already peaked?
Had he already delivered his best work?
Was this the end of his career?
He didn’t remember the last time he had been excited about a new painting or an exhibition.
His Manager had been doing everything in his power to excite Jungkook -money, fame, reviews, commissions… but all those had been scaring him even more.
He wondered if he deserved it.
He was still wallowing in his thoughts when he realised that he had walked over to the art gallery which was housing the latest exhibition of his paintings.
He stood at the gate wondering whether he should go inside and have a look. It was fairly crowded.
May be watching his works on display, being admired, might fuel his will to work on his pending commissions.
Or it might sadden him even more.
It was a gamble.
“I don’t think you should miss this!” a sweet faced security guard chimed as he saw Jungkook standing on the gate, in two minds.
Jungkook smiled and bought an entry ticket.
“Jeon Jungkook's Timeless” Jungkook read the display. He hadn’t been to this exhibition even once despite his Manager telling him that he needed to be seen for his work to sell.
He took a tentative step into the hall and walked over to the first painting.
“May I help you?” a deep but excited voice rang from behind him.
Jungkook turned around to look at the owner- A strikingly handsome boy, perhaps in his mid 20s, dressed in a black button down and black trousers.
The badge on his chest read - Kim Taehyung
"Mmm… No I'm not looking to buy anything. Thank you… Taehyung" Jungkook said politely.
Taehyung smiled. "No problem. Just call me if you want to discuss any art piece… Jungkook is my favorite."
Jungkook felt a warm explosion inside his heart. "Yeah?"
"Yeah" Taehyung said with a bright smile. "Contrary to the popular rumour that he's an old man, he is quite young. It's amazing what he's achieved in such a small career."
Jungkook chuckled. He had heard that rumour too. "So he isn't old, you say?" Jungkook asked.
"He's an old soul, if that counts. Anyway… I'm sorry, I won't disturb you. I go off when someone talks about Jungkook. Please enjoy the paintings." Taehyung said and took a step back.
"No… please, I think I need your help" Jungkook said urgently, a little hesitant.
Taehyung smiled. "At your service!"
And so Taehyung showed Jungkook all of Jungkook’s work, telling him in greatest details as to how and why he loved each of those paintings.
He mentioned details which Jungkook had never imagined anyone would even notice.
He made them all sound so romantic.
Jungkook thought that had he not known himself, he'd have fallen in love with himself today.
"Look at the pallette he's used here… it defies all the usual safe colour combinations but it is still so soothing to the senses, right?"
Jungkook smiled in awe. "Right"
"That's what I love about Jungkook" Taehyung said excitedly.
Jungkook gulped. "What do you love about Jungkook?"
"A lot of things… He's so bold yet so subtle… everything about him is so unique... there's just no artist, present or past, who you can compare him to."
Jungkook was too overwhelmed to speak. His eyes now shone with tears.
But Taehyung was too lost in the painting to notice. "Someday I wish to be rich enough to afford his art. Till then, I'm happy showing it to others."
Jungkook took a deep breath.
"Do you have a favorite piece?" He asked.
Taehyung's face lit up. "Of course I do! Follow me!" He said excitedly as he led Jungkook to the back of the hall to a display which was sectioned off.
There was only one painting there- a self portrait- with only the outline of the face, no features.
"Some of me" the title card read.
"This is my favorite Jungkook, so far" Taehyung declared proudly. "I am not an employee here, just a part timer, and so I had to fight to get this one a prime spot."
Jungkook couldn't remember when was the last time he had found someone so adorable. "Why is this your favorite?"
Taehyung took a deep breath "Its a self portrait, but not quite... there's an outline but no features... it looks like the artist is learning to love himself. He's not quite there... but he'll get there someday. Don't you think so?"
Jungkook pursed his lips and nodded. Some part timer at an art gallery knew him more than he knew himself.
"You have a great choice" Jungkook said softly.
Taehyung smiled and bowed. "I think this is my favorite for now. Subject to change when he launches his next collection. "
"You think he'll make more art?" Jungkook asked, truly counting on Taehyung’s words.
Taehyung shrugged. "I hope he does... if he doesn't, by the time I get rich- all his pieces would have been sold out... and they'd have become obnoxiously expensive... and I'll never be able to have a Jungkook in my living room!"
Jungkook chuckled. "Cute"
Jungkook hung around till gallery-closure time, till he found Taehyung to be free again.
"Is there anything I can do for you, Taehyung, to repay you for your time and knowledge?" He asked.
Taehyung shook his head. "I don't even do this for money, Sir. I want to be an art critic someday... have my own art gallery perhaps..."
"You'll be very successful... I have a proposition for you..." Jungkook said, smiling his first true smile in a long time.
Jungkook woke up to the incessant ringing of his phone.
"What?" He said groggily into the phone.
"JEON JUNGKOOK, YOU BETTER HAVE A VERY GOOD EXPLANATION FOR THIS!" his manager screamed.
Jungkook chuckled. He was expecting this.
"WHY WOULD YOU BUY YOUR OWN PAINTING?!"
Jungkook giggled- something he hadnt done ever since he was a teen.
"I'm holding it for someone... till that someone can buy it off from me."
Jungkook was humming a song as he made breakfast for himself.
Nothing could ruin his mood today, not even his fuming manager.
Ji-Ho was was glaring at him from the dining table.
"I can't believe this... after making me pay so many people to keep ur identity a secret, you revealed your face to people at the gallery!" Choi Ji-Ho complained.
Jungkook smiled and shook his head "Nope!"
Ji-Ho looked a little sceptical. "But didn't you say you told that part timer?"
Jungkook giggled again. "I introduced myself as Choi Ji-Ho"
"Whaat... why would you use my name?!" His manager screamed.
Jungkook shrugged "I didn't want to tell him my name... that would have made him conscious... and he wouldn't have given me his frank opinion on my work. He's so insightful... so intelligent... and he really gets my art... its like he can hear my paintings!"
Ji-Ho didn't look too impressed. "But do you intend to meet him again?"
Jungkook smiled and nodded enthusiastically.
Jungkook put down his breakfast and asked Ji-Ho to follow him to his studio.
"Because this!" he said, pointing towards his commissioned art which had been pending for ages but which he had finished over night.
Ji-Ho's jaw dropped. "Holly shit! You finished this! I can't believe it! Go meet this Kim Taehyung all you want! Holy shit!"
"What do you study?" Jungkook asked Taehyung, as they settled into a table by the window in a quaint cafe- a place Taehyung had suggested.
"History of Art" Taehyung answered.
Jungkook mouthed a 'wow'. "You are really serious about your career in arts."
"What do you do, Mr Choi?" Taehyung asked after a moment. It took Jungkook a few seconds to realise that Taehyung was talking to him.
"Huh? Oh... me? I manage artists... I be their manager" Jungkook made a mental note to ask his Manager how did he introduce his profession.
"Anyone I know?" Taehyung asked curiously.
"Umm... no... just obscure ones... upcoming artists" Jungkook lied, terribly.
"I hope you get to manage the famous ones some day... like Jungkook" Taehyung said sincerely.
Jungkook's heart hopped around his rib cage. He had never met someone like Taehyung.
He was unbelievably kind and his optimism was infectious.
"What if you don't become an art critic? What's plan B?" Jungkook asked on their second date.
"Why won't I become an art critic though?" Taehyung asked innocently.
Jungkook smiled at the simplicity of the question.
"Of course... that was a stupid question" He said with a smile
Over the next few dates, Jungkook let Taehyung pick the places, the menus, the movies. They talked about art, food, and almost everything else.
Jungkook loved listening to Taehyung's ramblings.
They were walking through the Namsan Park and Jungkook was wondering if he could hold Taehyung’s hand. But he couldn't muster enough courage and finally dropped the agenda.
"How do you stay so positive... college sounds tough... even ur work hours are hectic?" Jungkook asked.
Taehyung sat down on the grass and patted the place next to him asking Jungkook to join him. Jungkook smiled and sat down next to him.
Taehyung leaned back, laying down on the grass and tugged on Jungkook’s arm asking him to follow suit.
Once they were laying next to each other, Taehyung pointed to the sky.
"When I get stressed, I look at the sky... its so vast... so many stars, galaxies... its limitless... and then I remind myself that I'm such a small part of this universe...
a measly human... and humans have such short lives... do we really need to stress so much... takes so much life away from the years."
Jungkook wasn't looking at the sky but admiring Taehyung as he spoke- he was just perfect in Jungkook’s opinion.
"What helps you destress, Ji-Ho?" Taehyung asked.
Jungkook took a deep breath. "You... only you."
Taehyung's face broke into a smile. And before Jungkook could muster the strength to hold Taehyung's hand, Taehyung leaned in and kissed him.
And Jungkook thought, he should just let Taehyung take the lead, every single time.
When they stopped kissing, Jungkook sighed.
He wanted to say 'Be my boyfriend'
but he got all lost and hassled because Taehyung was gazing at him- his face flushed, his lips parted.
"Be mine..." he mumbled, instead.
"I don't believe in ownership of humans... but I guess I'll make an exception for you.... So I guess I can be yours."
Jungkook had heard about artists being in love- their lovers being their muse... and then them making all their art about the love of their life...
Finally he was having a first hand experience.
"What are you calling this new collection?" Ji Ho asked Jungkook as the latter worked on a wall-sized painting of the night sky.
"The Life in my Years" Jungkook responded without looking away from his canvas.
Ji Ho nodded approvingly. "Let me guess... is it something Taehyung said...?"
Jungkook didn't respond but his face broke into a huge smile.
"Wow, you're blushing" his manager teased.
"So, when do you intend to tell him about you being you...?" Ji Ho asked, "you guys have been dating for what... 3 months?"
Jungkook narrowed his eyes- "you're keeping a tab?"
"We have been using each other's credit cards, remember?" Ji ho laughed "Of course I am keeping a tab"
Jungkook kept his brush down. "Tae has his exams right now... I'm waiting for them to get over. So last day of the month... that's when I will tell him."
Ji Ho frowned. "Isn't that the day of your new exhibition opening?"
Jungkook grinned. "And guess who'd be my guest of honor"
"I'm gonna puke at the mush!" Ji ho said, making barf noises.
"Go ahead" Jungkook said, going back to his painting, "I'll use your credit card to pay for cleaning my entire studio."
That night, Jungkook texted Taehyung, wishing him for his next exam.
'It's your exam tomorrow... why am I feeling so jittery' he added.
Taehyung read it and laughed.
'If you carry on being so cute, I'd fall in love with you' Taehyung responded
'You mean, you aren't already? I'm hurt' Jungkook replied. He was joking but his heartbeat soared waiting for the reply.
Taehyung read the text and it had somewhat similar effect on his cardiac system too.
'Are you?' He texted, his fingers slipping thrice in typing two words.
Jungkook sat up in his bed.
Was he? Was he in love with the guy who'd shown up and turned his whole life upside down in the most amazing way? Was he in love with his muse? Was he in love with the man who was fueling his imagination and making him a better artist everyday?
'Can I tell you in person when we meet- I don't think a text or a call will do justice to how I feel about you'
Jungkook sent the text and regretted it immediately. What if Taehyung assumed that Jungkook didn't feel that way.
Taehyung responded almost immediately
'Yes... I agree.. Can't wait to see you... miss you so much, Ji ho.' -his text read.
Jungkook belatedly congratulated himself for not confessing love to Taehyung just now.
Because he might have stabbed himself with his own brush had Taehyung said- I love you 'Ji Ho'!
Jungkook's exhibition was opening in one of the biggest art galleries in the country.
He had not been this sure of his work in a long time. He wasn't holding back
He wasn't nervous about his art but he was sweating buckets over telling Taehyung that he was indeed Jeon Jungkook
"You remember the drill, right?" Jungkook asked Ji ho for the nth time.
Ji Ho tried not rolling his eyes
"Yeah. I'll wait for Taehyung at the gate, escort him to the adjoining hall- where u'll be waiting with some nauseating romantic bs. Then you'll whisk him to the exhibition"
"You are a heartless ogre" Jungkook said in mock offence. "Remind me to find a replacement for you and then fire you."
Ji Ho laughed and walked out, not feeling too confident about his role in this skit either.
Taehyung couldn't stop fawning over his boyfriend's invitation to the art gallery of his dreams to see a Jeon Jungkook exhibition on the very first day- a by-invitation-only event.
He was so excited that he ended reaching earlier than he was supposed to.
A staff member stopped him at the gate. "Do you have an invitation, Sir?" The guard asked.
"Umm no" Taehyung said sheepishly. "The invite is with my boyfriend... I'm I'm bit early."
"What's his name, I'll let you in, if he's on the list." The staff said helpfully.
"Choi Ji Ho" Taehyung volunteered as he too peered into the guest list.
"Wait, you mean Mr Jeon's manager?"
Taehyung blinked... "Umm... he manages artist but not Mr Jeon"
The staff member called his senior "What's Mr Jeon's manager's name?"
"Choi Ji Ho" the senior replied.
Taehyung shook his head at them "You're mistaken... or maybe there are 2 Cho JiHos" He pulled out his phone. "Let me call him..."
"Oh there he is!" The staff member screamed when they saw Jungkook’s manager walking out. "Mr Ji Ho, Mr Jeon's Manager."
It took Ji ho only a few moments to realise what was happening.
"Kim Taehyung?" He asked hurriedly. "Please come with me." He said, grabbing Taehyung’s arm, before the staff could confuse him any further.
Taehyung looked at him utterly confused. "I'm sorry, how do you know me? Is your name Choi Ji Ho, too?"
Ji ho was sweating. "Can you please hold your questions for 5 minutes..." he said nervously, leading him to the hall where Jungkook was waiting.
Ji ho ushered a hassled Taehyung into the huge hall.
The moment Taehyung entered, he saw Jungkook, looking more dapper than ever, waiting with a huge bouquet of flowers, and a gift sitting on the floor besides him.
Despite the chaos, Taehyung's face broke into a huge smile. He jogged to Jungkook, into his waiting arms and sighed in relief.
"Lord, Ji Ho, I missed you so much"
Jungkook froze and took a step away. "Tae, there's something I have to tell you..."
The real Ji Ho turned around on his heel as fast as humanly possible and escaped.
"Wait, that person, he's Jeon Jungkook’s manager! How do you even know him?"
Jungkook kept a finger on Taehyung’s lips and silently asking him to wait.
He picked up the gift from the floor.
"There's something you need to know Tae but first, open this."
Taehyung looked at him incredulously "What is all things..." he said, as he tore the wrapping.
What emerged was a painting... a portrait, of Jungkook. And unlike his previous works which only had an outline of his face, this was a proper, detailed portrait, with all his features.
"Wow, it's you... but this looks like Jungkook’s art... but how..." Taehyung mumbled.
Jungkook shut his eyes and punched the air victoriously...
"You know me so well, baby" He said with reverence, bringing Taehyung’s hand to his lips and touching his knuckles softly.
"Tae, I am not Choi Ji Ho... I am, in fact, Jeon Jungkook. And I am eternally grateful to you."
Taehyung was watching him without a single expression on his face.
"I was going through a terrible slump... I thought my life was over... that day when I met u in the gallery, I was contemplating quitting... but you... you are an angel... you made me love me again... "
"I lied about my identity,because I wanted more of your unbiased opinions...and I don't think anyone's seen me the way you see me, or anyone's seen my art the way you see it- u are the best art critic I've ever met..." Jungkook said in awe
Taehyung was very quiet
"But why did u lie about liking me?" He finally asked.
Jungkook’s eyes went wide. "What?"
Taehyung drew a long breath, his eyes shining with tears "you didn't have to pretend to have fallen for me, Mr Jeon... you could have gotten my unbiased opinion without it too."
Jungkook shook his head trying to formulate an answer... "Tae... I wasn't pretending... I didn't lie about liking you... I love you!"
Taehyung scoffed softly. "How do I know if this is the truth?"
Jungkook shook his head frantically. "No... no Tae... please understand... I really love you... I just told you why I didn't reveal my identity..."
Taehyung nodded, his eyes shining with tears- "Yes, something about ur art, ur slump, ur needs, ur purpose, ur everything..."
Jungkook looked on, speechless.
"I am not some manic pixie dream girl, Mr Jeon... I am a real person, with real dreams and hopes and feelings. Feeling which obviously mean nothing to you..."
Jungkooks eyes shined with tears too.
"Tae... listen I didn't... I wasn't thinking about..."
"That's right," Taehyung said, cutting him short. "You werent thinking about me..."
He shook his head again, and turned around to leave.
Jungkook took a deep breath.
"Wait, Tae, please don't leave... I can't lose you"
Taehyung chuckled humourlessly, as he took backward steps towards the exit.
"Ur upset about losing ur boyfriend? Imagine losing ur boyfriend and ur favourite artist on the same day"
And Taehyung turned away to leave, storming out of the hall without a second look.
Jungkook watched him leave, every bit of his soul crumbling.
Perhaps Taehyung was right, he thought, he really wasn't thinking about anyone but himself
"Sorry"He whispered, too late, too lonely
Jungkook had lost track of how long he had been on the treadmill, but his legs were beginning to hurt.
It was becoming a recurring issue- him losing track of time, appointments, deadlines, mealtimes...
His heartbreak was present in every aspect of his daily life.
It had been 2 months since the unfortunate day at the art gallery and Jungkook hadn't uttered a word about it.
Ji ho was hovering at the door to Jungkook’s home gym, wondering if he should interrupt or not... but after 30 mins, he was sure that he needed to step in.
"Hey, almost all your paintings from the exhibition have been sold out" Ji ho said, entering the gym. "Congratulations"
Jungkook hit the stop button on the treadmill and slunk down, sitting on its edge, catching his breath.
He didn't respond to Ji-Ho.
He continued narrating the numbers, statistics and reviews to a rather uninterested Jungkook.
"Another thing...I was at an art magazine's office yesterday and I saw Taehyung’s resumé on the editor's table. He's applied for a job."
Jungkook stilled. He nodded after a moment.
"So... " Ji Ho hesitated.
"So what?" Jungkook shot back.
"You know them all... all the editors are chasing you for interviews and articles... just put in a word for him. He'll get a job anywhere with your recommendation."
Jungkook shook his head as he got up and fetched a towel to wipe his sweat off.
"No... I won't do that and you shouldn't do that either..." he finally said.
"Why?" Ji Ho asked.
"He won't like it...and frankly, he doesn't need it..." Jungkook added
Ji ho huffed. "Listen, I don't know what happened between you guys that day, but I can take a guess... but whatever happened... you had a good thing going on... it seemed special... So why dont you reach out to him and try fixing it?"
Jungkook took his time to respond.
"He doesnt want me. He blocked my number, he moved away after college ended for him and I don't know where he is... he instructed his friends not to tell me. He's made it clear. I want to respect that..."
Ji ho wasn't entirely convinced.
"What is he's waiting for you to find him and apologise?"
Jungkook smiled a wry smile. "I considered that but then..."
"But then...?" Ji Ho asked frowning.
"I'd rather disappoint him than hurt him again..."
Ji ho looked impressed. "Wow" he whispered, "Alright, I won't bother you on this again... just take care... I'm here to talk, if you need me."
Jungkook nodded as Ji ho started to leave.
"Wait" Jungkook suddenly said. "You said, what we had was special... why did you say that?"
Ji ho scratched his head. "Umm... I saw the effect he had on you and the effect you had on him..."
"What effect did I have on him?" Jungkook asked, not ready to let go.
"I don't know if I'm explaining it well," Ji Ho struggled "but that day when I escorted him to meet you... he was quite hassled. But the moment he saw you, he smiled n ran into your arms... I had frankly never seen that happening in real life... it was like stuff out of a movie"
Jungkook smiled sadly.
It did feel like stuff out of a movie...
Alas! It ended too soon for his liking.
Taehyung was drumming his fingers on the plastic folder in his lap which contained his certificates and his resumé.
He was waiting for his interview and fairly nervous about it. It was one of the biggest art publications in the country.
He had spent too many days pitying himself over a boy who broke his heart and was determined to get his life back on the track.
In his own words- he was too young to be broken by the world.
"Kim Taehyung" the receptionist called his name to meet the panel.
"You have a stellar record." The head of the panel, the chief editor remarked.
Taehyung liked her- she was formidable, yet kind. He had followed and admired her work and was ready to break his back to work for her.
Taehyung thanked her.
"I love your passion for Van Gogh... Any favorite contemporary artists?" She asked towards what seemed like the end of the interview.
Taehyung drew a long breath
He had 2 choices- he could either lie about his favorite artist n sell a false narrative or he could name his actual favorite and open his unhealed wounds.
He took a split second decision- he didn't want to start a job based on lies.
The other interviewers smiled and looked at the editor.
"Oh, he's my favorite too... you saw his latest works?" She asked.
Taehyung bit his lip "Some of it" He replied
"I think it's one of his most honest works... what do you think?" She asked.
Taehyung wanted to say that he really didn't relate 'honesty' and Jeon Jungkook but somehow restrained himself. He reminded himself to be professional.
"It certainly gives away more of Jungkook than he's ever shown us... its all him... raw and unfiltered."
"He named it- the Life in my Years. What do you think that means?" The editor asked.
Taehyung smiled. He did have a detailed theory on that.
No one was surprised when Taehyung bagged the job.
Taehyung loved his job and everyone at his job loved him back.
No one was surprised when he started getting more important assignments and more recognition.
Withing a few months, he was the blue eyed boy of the publication.
And so, it came as a shock when he was suddenly summoned to the Editor's Office late one evening.
"Kim Taehyung, I have news for you. You can decide whether it's good or not" She said, smiling mysteriously.
Taehyung gulped. "Shoot" he said weakly.
"I put in a good word for you with the management... threw around words like a prodigy and extraordinary" she said, cocking an eyebrow.
"Thank you" Taehyung chimed.
"I said, you were ripe for a promotion, they obviously said that you were too young and you need to prove yourself..."
Taehyung didn't like where this was going.
"So I picked the most perfect assignment for you to prove your mettle with- one I know you cannot fail at..."
Somehow Taehyung already knew what was coming.
"I proposed your name for a cover article on Jeon Jungkook!" She announced excitedly. "You are already so deep with his work! Go interview him, analyze his work and get that promotion you so deserve! Isn't this just perfect?!"
Taehyung held on to the armrest of his chair to keep himself from sinking.
"Yeah... yeah... oh my god..." He mumbled in panic.
His editor clapped her hands in glee.
Jungkook almost lost his balance and had to hold on to his canvas to keep from falling when Ji Ho announced it to him.
"Taehyung?" He asked, his huge eyes wider in shock.
Ji Ho nodded enthusiastically
"Kim Taehyung?" He asked to reconfirm.
"Your Taehyung!" Ji ho added.
Jungkook paced around his room.
"Why would he agree to this?" He asked.
Ji ho shrugged "You have a problem?"
Jungkook shook his head.
"They're asking for dates in the next month... do I give it?
Jungkook nodded absent-mindedly
"No hang on... Ji Ho" Jungkook called out.
Ji Ho stopped in his tracks "Yes? Problem?"
Jungkook bit his lip "Next month is so far away..."
Ji ho laughed, shaking his head.
And Jungkook laughed along... after a long long time.
Taehyung sat on his desk, playing with the paper weight, lost in thought.
"Shortlisting questions for Jungkook?" His co-worker asked him, as he got up to leave for the day.
Taehyung smiled and waved her goodbye.
He was in fact shortlisting questions and wondering if he could slip in one which he had wanted to ask for a long time-
"Did you really ever love me?"
Jungkook let out a noisy breath which made Ji Ho look up from the papers he was reading.
"Nervous?" he asked.
Jungkook didn't respond.
"Don't be... if ur going to be nervous, imagine how nervous that would make Taehyung..."
Jungkook nodded, agreeing in theory.
They were seated in a lounge which served as a sitting area outside Jungkook's studio, waiting for Taehyung and the rest of the team from the art publication to arrive.
Jungkook was dressed in a sharp suit and Ji Ho was trying not to poke fun.
"You do know that they're brining outfits along for the photoshoot, right?" he asked with a suppressed smile.
"If I were you and I wanted to impress a guy, I would show him what's on the inside." Ji ho said, with a shrug.
"You want me to pour my heart to him in the middle of the interview?" Jungkook asked sarcastically.
"Oh no... I meant, inside the clothes... abs and all... never mind..." Ji ho said with wink but he successfully diffused the tension because Jungkook couldn't help chuckling.
He was still shaking his head in mirth, when he heard a knock on the glass door of the lounge and Jungkook was a bunch of nerves again.
He looked up at a team of half a dozen people- photographers, stylists and tailing them all- the cause of his thumping heart.
Their introductions were all a blur to Jungkook till he saw Taehyung stepping towards him.
He was dressed in black trousers and a black button up- pretty much how he was dressed when Jungkook had seen him for the first time.
Jungkook smiled and extended his hand.
Jungkook was almost impressed with how put together Taehyung looked as he looked him right in the eye and grabbed his hand for a firm handshake.
"Kim Taehyung, Mr Jeon. Thank you for this opportunity."
For the next few hours the photographers and stylists fussed over Jungkook as Taehyung sat at a distance, drowning in his notes, ignoring the circus.
"Can we shoot u while u while u paint?"
"Can we get a shirtless shot?"
Jungkook sighed at the commotion
"Say Tae!" The photographer yelled, "do you want to present him as a sexx symbol on the cover... will that go with the theme you have in mind?"
Taehyung froze and inpulsively looked at Jungkook who was anyway staring at him.
Jungkook shook his head ever so slightly but it was prominent enough for Taehyung to notice.
"No..." Taehyung said firmly.
But before Jungkook could celebrate their little moment, Taehyung added "I don't see him like that... let's keep it art related."
Once the stressful shoot was done, the staff left Taehyung with Jungkook and Ji Ho.
Taehyung settled down with his coffee mug.
"Is there any topic you'd want me to avoid, Mr Jeon?"
Jungkook shook his head.
Ji ho realised that the tension in the lounge was too much for him to handle and left on a terribly made up pretext.
"Your welcome" He mouthed, before leaving.
"First of all, congratulations on your exhibition doing so well" Taehyung said his rehearsed lines.
"Congratulations on your job." Jungkook responded sincerely.
Taehyung looked thrown off but he ignored it. He placed his dicta-phone on the table between them and carried on like a thorough professional.
"Did you always want to be a painter?" Taehyung asked.
Jungkook nodded. "I wanted to be good at whatever I did..."
"What keeps you motivated?"
"Lately, nothing" Jungkook said truthfully.
Taehyung didn't like where this was going.
"What was your motivation for the last collection you put out?" He asked.
Jungkook took a deep breath.
"You'd know this one..."
Taehyung huffed avoiding eye contact. He pointed towards the dicta-phone which was recording.
"My muse... I had a muse..." Jungkook said softly.
Taehyung hated to ask the next question but he knew he was being appraised on it and he could not - not ask this, when the artist himself was volunteering information.
"Could you tell us a little about... this muse of yours?" He asked biting his lip.
Jungkook looked at him for a long moment. "I might need to take his permission before I talk about him..."
Taehyung looked up and saw Jungkook staring at his face with his head tilted to a side, asking for a permission?
Taehyung shut his eyes and said a prayer for patience and resilience.
He also nodded a little before opening his eyes. He was met with a small smile from Jungkook.
"He was someone I met through my art... knows me better than I do... brought out the best in me?"
"Lets come back to this topic later..." Taehyung said, suddenly uneasy in his chair. "What are you working on now?" He asked weakly.
"Its called All of Me. its about what shaped me- people who love me, people whom I loved, people who wronged me, n those whom I wronged."
Taehyung turned his notes around noisily, trying to calm himself down.
"You want to see my work in progress?"
Taehyung shut his eyes tight and nodded, gathering the papers in front of him.
He looked up up saw Jungkook offering him his hand.
Jungkook could see Taehyung’s internal struggle on whether to accept his hand or not, on Taehyung’s face. He waited patiently. He had nothing to lose.
Finally Taehyung slipped his hand into Jungkook’s waiting hand as he hauled him up from his seat and then led him to his studio.
Jungkooks studio was made of white walls and huge glass windows which made the entire space look bright and welcoming.
Taehyung looked around, his eyes shining with excitement... his turmoil over their clasped hands momentarily forgotten.
"This way" Jungkook said, pointing towards a corner
Taehyung kept pace, belatedly realising that he had left his dicta-phone outside
He found himself in front of a huge canvas which had a human figure in a corner and stars all over
"Measly human" Jungkook said with a smile
He took him from painting to painting with familiar references... things which Taehyung needed no explanation about. Things which he already knew.
"And this one," Jungkook said pointing towards a painting which was covered with a cloth- "is the showstopper... my masterpiece"
Taehyung was getting increasingly restless with the proximity and the familiarity and the way he felt so defenseless around Jungkook.
"I'm so excited to show it to you Tae... I want..."
"Stop it Jungkook! Forgodsake, stop it!" He screamed.
Jungkook froze, a little apologetic about how he had gotten carried away.
"Can you please just pretend that we don't know wach other so that I can get through this stupid interview and get out of here!"
Jungkook mulled over it quietly.
"What do you mean by 'No'?" Taehyung cried.
"Last time I pretended, look where it got me... ruined my whole life..!" He screamed back.
Jungkook shook his head like a sullen kid
"I refuse to pretend anymore! I am Jeon Jungkook- U r Kim Taehyung & I'm bloody so in love with u & I miss u so much & I am so sorry I messed up & I can't stop making everything about u &,& I cant believe that u don't even find me sexy!"
Jungkook had screamed those words out so loud that he was panting.
Taehyung frowned, his eyes shining with tears.
"Where did you get that last part from?" He asked in a small voice.
Jungkook had one hand on his hip and the other behind his neck, he looked frustrated.
"Which last part, Tae?" He asked weakly.
"T-that I don't even find you sexxy..." Taehyung said softly.
"You told that photographer- YOU DONT SEE ME LIKE THAT!" Jungkook cried like the biggest victim on planet.
Taehyung looked like he was either about to break into a laughter or tears.
"Bullshit" He cursed quietly. "I was just feeling possessive..."
Jungkook sighed as he pulled Taehyung into a hug and he hugged him back.
"I'm so sorry Tae. So so sorry... I was so stupid... I can't believe I did that to you... I messed up so badly... please forgive me... please be mine..." he said in a frantic whisper.
Taehyung smiled against Jungkook’s ear. "I don't believe in the ownership of humans but..."
"Oh shut up!" Jungkook said playfully as he kissed Taehyung in the middle of his studio, on the best day of his life.
The interview was a breeze. Taehyung already knew the answers even before he asked the questions.
He got that promotion, and a painting of him, in Jungkook’s collection called-
'All of me'
He was after all the muse.
There was no dearth of love, motivation or colours in their life.
Jungkook often spoke about the best day of his life, often making his art critic boyfriend roll his eyes.
However the narrative was set to change a little one fine day almost a decade after they'd met.
They were casually strolling down the gallery which was hosting Jungkook’s exhibition.
"I can't believe you've sold every single painting you've put out... its insane" Taehyung said as he saw the last of Jungkook’s painting being taken my a patron.
Jungkook smiled and shook his head. "That's not true... there's one which is yet to be bought... its sitting pretty in my studio, waiting for someone to buy it off me..."
Taehyung's jaw dropped. "Oh my God! I forgot about that one- you kept it? For all these years?!"
Jungkook shrugged and nodded.
Taehyung broke out laughing "I'll buy it off you today! What's the going rate?"
Jungkook shook his head..."I'm afraid there's an interest which you'd have to pay too for making me hold it for you for so long..."
Taehyung laughed and pulled Jungkooks arm to make him walk ahead.
"Yeah?! Clown! So what interest are you charging?" He asked and turned to look at Jungkook but found him, below his eye level, bent on one knee holding out a ring.
"Kim Taehyung, be mine, with a ring on it?"
Taehyung gasped, his eyes wide on the verge of tears.
"Yes" He whispered as Jungkook slipped the ring on his finger.
He hauled Jungkook up and kissed him amid deafening cheers from the onlookers.
"I'll accept that as payment" Jungkook whispered. "Finally, sold."
This one's for all the artists I've come across on this bird app- I cherish you all! Thanks for raising my standards of art in life.
Thanks for reading, you all. You are a lovely audience
All my love
Jungkook’s art commissions were piling up at the same rate as his motivation for doing them was depleting.
Taehyung, a part timer at an art gallery, was underpaid but overzealous.
Cupid, meanwhile, was working overtime, this holiday season.