Taehyung hears his father talking while he walks up to the living room with a bread in his hand that almost drips with strawberry jam. He bites it down and hears how his father is telling Jungkook how irresponsible he was being for the both of them.
Taehyung smirks, comes up behind his dad and stares at their driver's son. Jungkook holds a rigid posture. His head bowed, jaw set, shoulders tight. He hears everything Taehyung's father says, reminding him lastly that he is going to the same college as Taehyung because of him.
“Your father was a gentleman, Jungkook,” Mr. Kim's voice drips with disdain, “but, that doesn't mean I have to tolerate your reckless manners! Treat my son with respect! Never forget he is not on your standard!”
Jungkook nods, voice tight, “I am sorry. I will keep that in mind.”
Taehyung rounds the couch, his face morphing into a sad expression, “dad, I think you are forgetting to remind him how he shouted at me.”
His dad smiles at him, nods, frowns at Jungkook, “also, no matter what happens, keep your voice in check!”
“Cannot believe I am paying for your education and this is what you are turning into. An ungrateful, mannerless youngman!”
Taehyung watches how Jungkook's jaw ticks. He knows Jungkook gets scholarship. Taehyung knows he is the star football player of the college. But, so what?
Taehyung's father is paying for his education since he was a kid. He is used to having everything Taehyung throws off. He used to wear the clothes Taehyung got, but now he can't. Because of how grown he is.
But, at the age of twenty, he is still under Taehyung's dad's control.
Taehyung watches the way Jungkook's eyes shift from his shoes to Taehyung's bare feet.
An idea occurs to Taehyung, and he is whining, “dad,” his eyes go large for his dad to see, “because of him, I fall on my ass and now my spine hurts.”
Jungkook's jaw twitches.
“Can you ask him to help me wear my shoes?” Taehyung pouts, “you know, I hate when I have to ask my maids to do that for me. It doesn't come off as a good manner.”
Jungkook grips his hands together. His father smiles wide, nods.
“Jungkook, help your hyung with his shoes!”
Taehyung's lips twitch when Jungkook looks up at him, eyes oozing the wrath Taehyung can feel to his bones.
“They are in my closet,” Taehyung points, “the white ones.”
Jungkook doesn't move, “you have more than thirty pairs of white shoes. Which ones?”
Taehyung flutters his lashes, “the converse!”
Jungkook turns to get them, and Taehyung leans against this dad's side.
“Anything else you need to tell me, bub?” his father kisses the top of his head, “you can, you know?”
Taehyung shakes his head, “nothing else, dad. Thanks.”
“Then I will be leaving,” he gets up, “office is draining me.”
“Take some rest, dad,” Taehyung smiles, “are you coming for dinner?”
He shakes his head, “I am leaving for a business trip tonight, bub. I can't.”
Taehyung's smile dims. He knows what those 'business trips,' mean.
He looks at his mother's bedroom. She is still sleeping. After she fell from the stairs and her lower body got paralysed, she barely leaves the bed.
His father has an affair with his secretary. That's the only one he kept for a long time. There are more.
Taehyung knows it all.
He wishes he could tell someone. He wishes he could tell his mother. He doesn't. Not when she is living under the false illusion that her husband is a loving man who dotes on her every wish.
Taehyung cannot take it away from her. He knows it will get him nowhere.
Taehyung watches his father go to his mother's room. Hears them talk and his mother laugh at something his father says.
He smiles. He can live his entire life pretending that he has it all. A perfect family and a perfect life.
He blinks when two pairs of shoes drop on his lap.
“Which one?” Jungkook pulls him out of his thoughts, “choose.”
Taehyung frowns, “how dare you drop them on my lap?! What the fuck?!”
Jungkook stares, “choose, Taehyung. I don't have time for this.”
Taehyung chooses one, throws it on Jungkook's lap while he crouches in front of him, “this one.”
Jungkook takes it, grabs his ankle and pushes his foot into it. Taehyung watches Jungkook tie it up, using more strength than he should.
“It hurts!” Taehyung whines.
His father gets out of his mum's bedroom. He waves at Taehyung, points at Jungkook before he leaves.
Jungkook turns to face Taehyung, “you wanted to go bike riding. Why the hell did you blame me when you fell?!”
Taehyung shrugs, “you promised to follow me!”
“I just stopped to talk to Jiwoo because she needed some help about an assignment! I just stopped for two seconds!” Jungkook hisses, grabs the ankle and drags Taehyung forward, “you rich brat!” his breath is hot against Taehyung's face, “next time you do this, I will-”
“You will, what?” Taehyung snorts, arches a brow, “no, what? What will you do? Don't forget,” he points a finger at Jungkook, “my dad pays for your entire life! You will be on the street without him! You better keep your head where it should be! In front of me. Bowed!”
Jungkook snorts, “yeah?” his hand grasps Taehyung's wrists, “you realize this, right? If I want, I can have your head somewhere else?”
Taehyung feels the current run down his spine, “Jungkook!”
Jungkook hums, “what, babe?” he murmurs, “scared? Good,” he hisses, “be terrified.”
“Next time you run to your daddy,” Jungkook growls, “whine and pout for him to give you the attention no one does, I will make sure you have a reason! I didn't hurt you, Tae, next time I might break your spine!”
He jerks Taehyung free and stands up, “come on! We are late!”
Taehyung gets up, grabs his backpack, “you talk to me like that one more time and I-”
Jungkook marches out of the house, hops down those few steps to the car that Taehyung got for his birthday, and opens the door for him.
Taehyung gets in, glares and watches Jungkook move.
Jungkook gets on his bike, wears the helmet and starts it. He goes ahead, the gate opening to let him out, and Taehyung's car follows.
Taehyung watches how Jungkook turns towards the lane where Jiwoo lives, stops by her door and horns. She comes out hopping, smiles wide at him.
Taehyung watches her get on his bike. Jungkook starts the bike, leading his car towards the university.
Taehyung thinks of their childhood. They used to be best friends. The two of them. Somewhere, down the lane, they grew up. Realized the power imbalance and things changed.
Jungkook grew distant. Started hanging out with others, while his behaviour towards Taehyung started to change.
One day they got into a fight, and it grew so much, Jungkook screamed at him and told him how he only talked to Taehyung because he had to. Was forced to.
Taehyung didn't have anyone. He was never really sure who wanted to befriend him for his money, or who really liked him. So, he just had Jungkook.
That day, it felt like he lost his only friend.
Losing terrifies Taehyung. When the few relationships around him are all so fake.
He clung to Jungkook like his life depended on it. He knew Jungkook was getting suffocated. His life was not like Taehyung's, and he could make more friends and have a normal life.
So, Taehyung used the only thing he had. Money, power. The sole things that pushed Jungkook away.
He used those to keep Jungkook closer. In any shape or form. Jungkook hated him. He hates him.
Taehyung knows. He knows he should probably stop. Let Jungkook be. This is not how you keep someone close. This is not the way.
But it terrifies Taehyung. The thought of abandonment.
“Sir, are you okay?” His driver asks, “we are here.”
Taehyung blinks, watches how the car is parked in his university, and he nods, tries to flaunt a smile.
He flinches when the door is jerked open, “get out!”
He looks over to see Jungkook standing there, impatient.
“Damn, you can't open your door, Tae?” Jiwoo comes to stand beside Jungkook, “way to be spoilt!”
Jungkook snorts, eyes moving all over Taehyung, “he can't do a lot of things on his own. Way to be rich.”
Taehyung sucks in a breath, puts up the smile and gets out, “that's right.”
He puts on his sunglasses, “I am rich, I can pay someone to do these chores for me. Why would I bother?”
He turns on his boots and walks towards the Arts building. His eyes are focused on the gate while he notices those lingering eyes on him.
He ignores. As always.
Taehyung sits down on the bleachers. His pompoms right by his side. He ties his shoes and hears the laughs coming from the next bleacher.
He looks up to see Jungkook and his friends. All of them in their gears, ready for the match. Some are with their lovers. Talking.
Jimin is their head cheerleader. He is as always, with his boyfriend Yoongi, the centre. Beside him, is Namjoon, the goalkeeper. Hoseok, the halfback. Jin is right beside him, the offence guard, and Jungkook, the quarterback.
Jiwoo walks up to Jungkook, in her hands a yellow rose. Taehyung watches her hold it out for Jungkook to take.
Everyone in that gang laughs, shoves Jungkook, slaps him on the back.
Jungkook takes the rose, winks at her before pushing it behind her ear.
Taehyung stands up.
“Here's your rose, Tae,” Jimin holds it out for him, “whoever you want to give it to.”
The head cheerleader takes his position, “come on, guys! Take your stand.”
Taehyung ties the rose under his headband and gets in position.
“We have to win today!” Jiwoo squeals hushly, “if we do, Jungkook will take me home!”
Jimin laughs, looks forward, “let's cheer for them to win then!”
Taehyung gets in position, his eyes stay focused on the scoreboard. He does it for the fun of it. He likes cheering.
Before the last goal, Jungkook looks over. His eyes search the stands and settle on Jiwoo.
Taehyung watches him point at her, throw a kiss before mouthing, 'this one's for you,' and then score the goal.
The crowd goes wild, along with the cheerleaders. The match ends.
Taehyung watches Jiwoo run towards Jungkook and Jungkook swoop her up in his arms. They kiss, in the middle of the field, with everyone watching. Taehyung claps when Jimin does, nudges him and tells him how cute the couple looks.
Taehyung hums, smiles.
“Listen,” Jungkook comes running when Taehyung walks out of the changing room, “I am not going home tonight. Just go and don't be a pain in the ass. Please?” he makes a face, “just don't cry to daddy dearest-”
Taehyung nods, “yeah, okay.”
Jungkook blinks, “what?”
Taehyung nods, “okay. I will go home.”
He side steps Jungkook to leave and Jungkook holds his elbow to stop him.
“What are you planning?” Jungkook hisses, “Tae, I swear, if you are planning something stupid, I will have your head!”
Taehyung sighs, “got it.”
Jungkook blinks, eyes moving over Taehyung's face, “what the fuck are you planning?”
“Nothing,” Taehyung rubs his temple, “listen, can I go now? I need to buy some supplies for my art class and the shop will close. See you.”
He walks off, ignores the players who wave at him.
Jungkook groans in his mind, dragging himself up the stairs to Taehyung's room. He knocks twice before opening the door.
Taehyung is on the windowsill, drawing something.
Jungkook grits his teeth, “why are you not downstairs yet? We are getting late!”
Taehyung looks at him, those large eyes flutter back to his canvas, “you go, Jungkook, I will not go to the uni today.”
Jungkook frowns, “what do you mean you won't go?”
Taehyung smiles, “Yoojin asked me out on a date. I am going for a picnic.”
Jungkook blinks, “what?”
Taehyung nods, there is a small smile on his lips, “yeah.”
Jungkook frowns, “a date? You don't like going on dates.”
Taehyung hums, “I am trying new things. How long can I rely on my old entertainments, hmm?” he chuckles, “you got boring.”
Jungkook feels the anger flair.
He marches up to Taehyung, “I am not your doll! Don't fucking treat me like that!”
Taehyung nods, “I know. Jeez,” he makes a face, “you got laid last night. Why are you still so frustrated? Calm down, please. Go to uni, I am not coming.”
Jungkook watches Taehyung hop off of the windowsill. His long legs hit the fuzzy, white carpet, and he walks up to his bed on his bare feet. Taehyung drops on the bed carelessly, those booty shorts don't hide how that ass jiggles when he falls on his chest on the bed.
Taehyung rolls on his back, legs crossed over each other while he holds the small canvas up in front of his face.
Jungkook watches how that baggy shirt rolls up, leaving Taehyung's tanned midriff bare for his eyes.
“You can't miss classes for a date,” Jungkook curses, “Tae!”
Taehyung shrugs, “leave, Jungkook. You are wasting my time.”
Jungkook glares, “uncle will have my head-”
“I got his permission,” Taehyung throws the phone at Jungkook, “read. Also, I told him I don't need you to trail me anymore. Get out.”
Jungkook reads the message and looks back at Taehyung. He grits his teeth and takes a hold of Taehyung's ankle to drag him down the bed. Taehyung gasps, eyes wide and on Jungkook.
“What did you do?!” Jungkook hisses, tugs him up to sit on the bed, “Tae, what did you do?!”
“Listen carefully, Tae,” Jungkook holds his finger up at Taehyung's face, “if you do something stupid and fuck up my scholarship and my only way of getting out of his hellhole that is your house and life, I will do something very nasty-”
Taehyung arches a brow, “read it.”
Taehyung takes the phone from Jungkook's hand, “it says clearly, I asked my dad, and he agreed to it. Your scholarship is intact, as we have nothing to do with it. You got it. Also, my dad will pay for you till you are twenty-one, but you don't have to stay as my assistant.”
Taehyung pulls his ankle free with a jolt, “just leave me alone.”
He lies down on the bed again, going back to his canvas.
Jungkook reads the message and reads it all over again. He looks at Taehyung to see Taehyung painting. A bear, tattered, scarred, looking exhausted.
The bear is sleeping, hugging itself. Jungkook looks back at the message. Back at the painting. He frowns when he sees Taehyung adding raindrops, falling over the bear.
Jungkook nods to himself, drops the phone on the bed, “why...” he sighs, “why is the bear in rain?”
Taehyung shrugs, “because I am drawing him in rain.”
Jungkook arches a brow, holds himself back from saying something nasty, “and, why are you drawing him in pain? Why can't you draw him happy? God,” he curses, “can't you see anyone happy? Everyone has to be sad around you?”
Taehyung's brush pauses, he himself stills for a second. His eyes stuck on the bear. Then he smiles, draws another raindrop.
“I don't know what happiness looks like.”
Taehyung pulls up his headphones, wears them, plugging them up. A clear sign for Jungkook. He needs to leave.
Taehyung keeps his promises. Jungkook knows that much about the brat. He sits on his bike, waiting.
Taehyung walks out, wearing jeans till his knees and a shirt that's knotted around his waist. His headband in place to keep those unruly curls away.
He gets right inside the car.
Jungkook leads the car as always. Keeps his eyes on his rear mirror to see Taehyung leaning outside, his eyes on the passing buildings.
He looks tired.
Jungkook frowns, looks ahead. He takes the turn towards Jiwoo's house to pick her up.
The car goes straight ahead.
For a moment Jungkook stares. Then he follows the car to stop the bike right in front of it.
“What the hell are you doing?” Jungkook asks the driver, “you are to follow my bike!”
The driver gulps, “sir said we don't have to anymore.”
Jungkook pauses, looks at Taehyung, “what?”
Taehyung smiles at him, “I told you, Jungkook. You are on your own, and I am on my own. You don't have to lead the car anymore. It's okay.”
He waves, leans back on his seat, “come on, uncle, let's go.”
Jungkook watches the car rush past his bike.
Jungkook curses when he sees Taehyung's hand, out of the window to feel the breeze against his palm.
He starts the bike, runs up to the car to glare inside, “keep your damn hands inside! Someone will break it!”
Taehyung blinks, “there's no one here.”
Jungkook glares, “Tae!”
“Do as I say!” Jungkook points a finger, “keep yourself inside! Keep the window up! Don't be a brat!”
Taehyung frowns at him, “just go to pick up your girlfriend. Stop worrying about my safety!”
“Oh, I am not worried!” Jungkook snorts, “but, your dad will scream if anything-”
“Happens. Keep the damn windows up. I swear!”
Taehyung rolls his eyes, makes a face at him as he lets the window up. Jungkook nods, then bristles when Taehyung opens the roof of the car, flips him off and squirms on the other side of the car.
“This brat!” Jungkook hisses.
By the time they are already in the campus ground. Jungkook seethes, watches Taehyung gets out of the car and parks his bike to catch up to him.
“What are you trying to do?” Jungkook asks, standing in front of Taehyung, “what are hell are you planning? I know you are-”
Taehyung swipes those unruly curls out of his eyes. He stares at Jungkook through his sunglasses.
“You know, you are acting like a caged bird who was freed but is not sure if it should fly away or stay. I freed you, Jungkook. Just get out of my face. Yeah?”
“Where is your girlfriend?” Taehyung looks around, “go, pick her up. Go on dates. Go to parties, damn, enjoy your life. Why are you still trailing me?”
Jungkook steps up to him, face to face, “I don't trust you. You are just like your dad. Manipulative, nasty, spoilt, horrible.”
“You and me both know why he pays for my everything,” Jungkook takes a hold of Taehyung's elbow, “so, no, Taehyung. I won't fall for your words like my dad did. He went to jail for something he didn't do. Because of your dad! I don't trust you people!”
“Sad,” Taehyung snorts, eyes scorching on Jungkook's face, “he knew he won't be able to give you the life you might want and made a deal with my dad. I have nothing to tell you except for this, Jungkook. Pick your fight with the right person. Your dad. Not me or mine. Yeah?”
— It's too late. Good night.
— Shall I continue the story?
— Here's my kofi if you want to support : ko-fi.com/amyungv
Taehyung side steps Jungkook and walks inside the Art building.
Jungkook watches him go, his eyes follow Taehyung until he can't anymore.
Then he turns on his heels and pulls out his phone to ask Jiwoo if she would like him to pick her up or she already left.
“Tae, if you don't want Jungkook as your assistant and guard,” his father chews his food, eyeing his son and Jungkook on the dining table, “you have to choose someone from my security team. I would not approve of you going around just by yourself.”
Jungkook focuses on the rice on his bowl, his chopsticks tracing patterns on it. Taehyung hums, sips his water.
“Sure, dad,” he eats his noodles, “just appoint anyone and please,” he makes a face, “someone around my age. I don't want anyone old who would boss me around.”
His father laughs, “well, you know Park Seojoon, right?”
Taehyung squints his eyes, “yeah? He is one of the head security chiefs on your team. Why?”
His dad nods, “his younger brother just joined the company. I can hire him for you. Just two years older than you. Park Bogum.”
Taehyung agrees with a nod, “It's fine. If you chose, he will be great. Just, tell him he has to take me everywhere I say and not ask anything. Also, ask him to wear casuals because I hate your suited, formal men. Yeah?”
Jungkook rolls his eyes, feeling bad for Bogum already.
Taehyung gets up from the table, bows to his father, “I will go to sleep, dad. I have a class tomorrow. Pretty early.”
“Bogum will be here,” his dad nods, typing something out, “to take you there. Good night, angel.”
Taehyung hums, walking up the flights of stairs to his room.
“Is there something you need for the next month, Jungkook?” Taehyung's father looks at him then, “Tae asked me personally to not give you any work. I don't want to upset him. So, you don't have to do anything. But, do you need something for the upcoming tournament?”
Jungkook wipes his mouth, shakes his head, “no, I got it covered, sir. You don't have to worry.”
“I will deposit the money in your account as per usual. By the starting of the next month. Also, a little tip because Tae said you did pretty well up until now. As his servant.”
Jungkook grits his teeth. His grip on the chopsticks tightening. He stays silent and gets up to bow when Mr. Kim leaves the dining table.
With a few seconds of silence, Jungkook sits back down, stares at the food on his plate and then slams the chopsticks down with a curse.
Angry, frustrated tears sting his eyes. He glares at the food on his plate and thinks how he would take anything over this.
Any rough life can't be worse than this constant ridicule he faces every day. He can do hard work, but these constant jabs get him every time.
Only if his father understood he would rather have a family and be poor than have this. Money in his bank and no respect in his entire existence.
Jungkook wipes his eyes furiously, pulls out his phone and dials Jiwoo's number.
“Are you free tonight?” he gets out of the house.
Jungkook comes back the next day morning after spending the night with Jiwoo. He drags himself inside the house around seven in the morning. He wipes his eyes, drags himself up the stairs to the bedroom and knocks.
He hears nothing. Jungkook sighs, knocks again.
“Tae, get up!”
“Tae, either get up or I am coming in,” Jungkook presses his forehead against the door, those beers in him leaving his terse, “I don't care if you are naked or scream your lungs out about my manners-”
Jungkook stops, looks over his shoulder as Mrs. Gwan.
She is basically the housekeeper. Almost like a mother figure to Jungkook. Jungkook smiles at her, nods.
“Sorry, did I scream loudly?” he makes a face, “was calling Tae, you know how late he sleeps-”
Mrs. Gwan smiles, “he is in the garden, bub. He needs to meet Bogum today?”
Jungkook pauses, “shit, I forgot,” he chuckles, “good. I will just take a nap then. Wake me up in an hour?”
She nods, ruffles his hair, “go, sleep. I will wake you up.”
Jungkook walks down the corridor, thanks his stars that Mrs. Gwan can't smell Jiwoo's scent on him.
Jungkook gets inside his room, walks up to the bed and discards his phone, watch, and wallet. He goes inside the bathroom to shower.
When he comes back, he goes to the window to pull the curtains back, so he can rest an hour in the darkness of the room.
The view makes his stop.
Taehyung is by the gazebo, standing by the rose garden, with a man standing right in front of him.
Jungkook watches how the man plucks a rose, holds it out for him with an exasperating bow. Taehyung giggles, takes it with a nod and tucks it behind his ear with a grin.
“God, people will do anything for money,” Jungkook rolls his eyes, “poor man. Have to pretend to like that brat to get his salary. Shit, what a job.”
Jungkook watches how Taehyung sits on the step of the gazebo and pats the place beside him. Bogum sits right away, with a smile.
Bogum is saying something, and Taehyung's eyes are on him. There is a smile that lingers. A smile that is far from the sneers Jungkook always received. Jungkook closes the curtains.
“Damn, I hope you stick, bro,” he drops on the bed, “otherwise, he will be again my business.”
By the time he walks downstairs after taking the nap, Taehyung is gone.
Jungkook picks up Jiwoo on his way to the university and throughout the day he kind of forgets about Taehyung.
“You are not rushing to leave today,” Yoongi sips his cola in the cafeteria, “what's up?”
Jungkook turns to him with a shrug, “nowhere to go from now on. I don't have to pick up Taehyung and drop him anywhere. Finally, I am free,” he holds his drink up.
Jimin sips his iced-tea, eyes on Jungkook, “he got a lover?”
Jungkook snorts, “with that attitude? No.”
Jimin frowns, “you keep saying he has an attitude, but I have never seen him misbehave. I mean, I share a few classes with him. I am in the cheerleading team with him. He never did anything-”
“He is a weirdo,” Jiwoo peeps in, “didn't you notice how he has no friends? He's rude.”
“He is too proud of himself and so full of himself,” Jiwoo frowns, “always makes Kook do his chores. Most of the time I hear Kook rant about him when we are out on dates. Imagine how badly you have to treat someone for them to talk like that about you?”
“Also, he doesn't attend any parties or any gathering at all,” Jin murmurs, “I asked him once, and he said he doesn't want to because apparently my house is not a safe place?” Jin snorts, “ran like I do drugs or something?”
Hoseok hums, “same experience here. I asked him out-”
“For a movie that the entire class was going to?” Hoseok munches on a crisp, “but he said the theatre isn't the one he goes to, normally. What does that mean?”
“It means, he needs to book an entire place before he steps inside,” Jungkook sighs, “make me run for his every whim.”
Jimin rolls his eyes, “okay, Jin hyung, you live in the Frat house. Anyone with a little brain will deny your offer at first. He doesn't know you. Second, Hobi hyung, he did well by not going. Damn, the theatre was so packed. I had to leave. You didn't plan it well at all!”
“Well, I part-time at the library,” Namjoon leans in, sipping his juice, “recommended him a book once. He came back the next week and I asked how it was. He stared right at me and said it was pretty inspirational, but he only read the name.”
Everyone stares at Namjoon.
Namjoon's dimples show, “not going to lie, that was the mos adorable and crazy reply I ever got.”
Yoongi laughs, “so, all I got of this guy is, he is honest. He said he won't attend Jin's party because he felt unsafe. Which we all should learn. To say no when we want to.”
“He is intelligent, knows how packed a place can get with so many students. He got himself out of that one. Maybe he doesn't like the crowd, we can't judge him for that. He is witty, I like that in a person. I don't see a problem with him, to be honest.”
“He is spoilt rotten,” Jiwoo counts on her fingers, “he treats people like trash-”
“I am not defending him, of course not, he has faults like every human does,” Jimin sighs, “but, Jiwoo, you are not half as rich as he is and your attitude is almost tripping over the edge.”
“Also,” Yoongi counters back, “we just see how rich a person is. Rich people have rich problems too. Like, this. We are judging him like it's our business. As if we have the right. The only person who has the right to say shit is kook because he suffered. We can frankly shut up.”
Yoongi picks up a crisp, “now, if we are done discussing a boy and his attitude, can we focus? The nightclub. Are we all going?”
Jungkook nods, “I don't see why not.”
Jimin nods too, “this weekend, right? I will ask my cheer team to join us too.”
They all nod in agreement.
Taehyung looks over his shoulder to see Jimin standing by the door of the art class. He wipes his hands on the apron and nods, silently approving Jimin to walk inside.
“I just came here to ask you if you are busy this Saturday night?” Jimin smiles.
Taehyung blinks, “it will depend on what you want from me.”
Jimin's eyes widen a little, but his smile does too, “I want to ask you if you'll come to the nightclub we all are attending on my birthday.”
Taehyung stares, “we are not friends.”
Jimin blinks, “whose fault is that?”
“I don't like people,” Taehyung shrugs, “most of them.”
Jimin laughs, “damn, I do attract anti-socials. My boyfriend is like you. Anyway, you can like me. You know me. We cheer together.”
Taehyung thinks, eyes unfazed on Jimin, “you want me to pay for the club? For all of you?”
Jimin blinks, shakes his head, “no! It's my treat. I am inviting you because I know you and I never see you in any parties. So, this might be a good way to get to know you.”
Taehyung hugs himself, frowns, “I am not a species for you to learn and poke and gossip, you know?”
Jimin shrugs, “I know. That's why instead of doing that, I am here,” he holds his hand out, “asking you to be my friend. You can either take my hand, be my friend, or just let people's judgements of you hold you back from having a normal life.”
“People always judge, you know?” Jimin smiles, “it's in our nature to try to drag others down, so we can uplift ourselves. We have to learn to accept the genuine ones. I know you are the way you are for a reason, and I hope I be your reason to believe everyone is not the same.”
Taehyung watches the extended hand and Jimin's face. He wipes his hands on his apron, nervously bite down on his lower lip.
Jimin waits. He doesn't pull back. It's silly. They are not in kindergarten to be friends with a handshake but whatever it takes.
Jimin doesn't back away.
Then Taehyung reaches out, like a scared puppy. Jimin feels his heart squeeze at the thought that Taehyung had to think this hard to make friends. He blinks back the tears in his eyes at the thought that something happened for Taehyung to be terrified of trusting people again.
When Taehyung's hand finally touches his, Jimin grasps it. He holds tightly, as if holding onto a person who is drowning or maybe getting lost in a quicksand.
Jimin pulls Taehyung to him, in a bone-crushing hug, ignores how stiff Taehyung goes.
“You can trust me, TaeTae.”
Taehyung feels the breath getting knocked out of him. He holds Jimin too, a little reluctant, a little confused.
But those arms feel good. How long has it been since someone hugged him?
Ages. Years. Last was his mother. Before she met the accident.
Taehyung hugs Jimin back.
The nightclub is crowded. Taehyung walks in behind Jimin. He looks around, smiles when Jimin points at the booth they are going to be in.
“Are you sure you are not feeling weird?” Taehyung asks Bogum who follows him inside, “hyung, you don't have to be here. I will be fine.”
Bogum's eye go wide, “you kidding? I look so handsome, and you don't want me to be here?” he shouts over the loud music, “or, you don't want your friends to snatch me up?”
Taehyung bites back a laugh, “just don't flirt too much! Oh, my God!”
Bogum follows him to their booth.
Taehyung pauses when he sees so many pairs of eyes on him. He almost freezes when he sees Jungkook with Jiwoo. She is sitting on one of his legs.
Taehyung lets out a deep breath, shrugs, and morphs his face into indifference while he follows Jimin to his seat.