Taehyung had grown up under the microscope. As the only child of a career politician, he’d been trained to be in front of the media since he could speak. It was all he knew. It wasn’t all bad. He loved his parents, he’d met some amazing people, he’d travelled and experienced so
much. He was lucky. It was hard to handle sometimes.
Sometimes he just wanted to be normal. Which is why he’d begged his parents to allow him to go to college like a normal kid - away from home. It had taken a year of preparation; of shortlisting and negotiating with the
Schools. Security requirements had to be evaluated. There was a lot to organise, and it was always difficult to ignore the guilt that came with who he was and what he imposed. But he had to do this for him.
He just wanted to feel normal for the first time in his life.
He wanted a college experience.
He wanted to sleep in and miss class. (But he knew that wouldn’t be possible with the media watching and reporting his every move.) He wanted to go to parties (possible! Probably!) He wanted to live in the dorm, make friends, date… normal stuff.
That longing for the mundane sat on his chest and burrowed in, making it hard for him to keep his mood lifted as time went on and summer began. It was just a few more months until he’d be off to college. It felt too long, and every day when his secretary read him his schedule,
And the stylists came to prepare him for the day or nights public event he was required to attend, the weight in his chest grew heavier. Nothing about his life was normal, and he was reminded of it all day long. Schedules, photo ops, secret service agents… it was a lot.
So he had to wonder if anyone was truly surprised that the first chance he got to taste a little freedom, he latched onto it with everything he had?
It wasn’t rebellion, it was /living. For the first time, Taehyung was experiencing life.
And inevitably, he was also
Falling in love. With his very handsome, very sweet RA.
But Taehyung should have known better than to think he could have a break from his not normal life. Should have known there’d be consequences to everything he did and didn’t do.
And he should have been told that there was a threat they were taking seriously.
It would have been nice to know his life was in genuine danger /before he got kidnapped, right after having his heart thoroughly shattered by the revelation that his RA was actually an agent.
It might have been nice to know that someone, anything in his life was real before it ended.
loosely based on the premise of The First Daughter
-strangers to friends to lovers, bodyguard x client
-forbidden love, mutual pining, misunderstandings, secrets
-kidnapping, violence, threats, guns
-angst, hurt/comfort, fluff, happy ending
Dressed in his bathrobe, hair still damp, Taehyung sat in front of his vanity dabbing moisturiser on his face as his father’s assistant’s assistant informed him of the schedule for the next day. A minute by minute program of the day he was going to college.
Once he got to the press conference, Taehyung sighed and stopped him.
“Can we just - can we pretend I’m just a normal kid going to college?” He pleaded, “just for a moment. I’m just - normal. I’m going to wake up and have breakfast with my parents, get dressed, pack my car,
and after a tearful goodbye, I’ll be gone. No cameras, no reporters, no staff, no timetable. Just normal.”
Hanuel gave him a small smile. “But you’re not normal,” he responded.
Taehyung felt a part of himself deflate. “Guess not,” he murmured.
He listened to Hanuel reel off
The rest of the schedule in silence, and did his best to thank him politely when he left.
He stared at his ceiling for a few hours before he could sleep, and wondered where the excitement he was supposed to feel was hiding.
Morning came. Taehyung was dressed in one of his many plain suits, befitting the son of a politician; formal, conforming, not meant to be a statement. Boring, in his opinion, but what his family’s stylists keep giving him because he’s not meant to be too eye-catching. He’s
art of the first family. One part of a model family, an ideal to look up to. He’s always known it, and he doesn’t mind, not really. He likes suits, and he thinks classic is always in style. But he’s not ignorant to the way the media make him out to be this unfashionable, dorky
Child, dressed like an office worker with no individuality.
Sometimes he perused fashion blogs, but once he’d been caught looking at one and been told in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t appropriate for a member of the first family to dress in such conspicuous clothing. He
made sure not to let anyone catch him looking again after that.
He gave his mother a smile as real as he could when she fluffed his hair and asked if he was feeling okay, and then followed her and his father out to the press conference. A totally normal way to start the
journey to college.
Taehyung rarely spoke to the media in any official capacity - only when the agenda required a family focus during a holiday. So he was nervous to step up when the two questions he’d been briefed on were directed at him, as easy as they were.
Yes, he was looking forward to college, just like any other regular kid in the country.
Of course he’d miss his home, and his family - but maybe not the press conferences.
A small comment for laughter, and then he was done, and they were escorted to the waiting convoy to
Drive them to the airport.
At least he would be with his family, even if his parents couldn’t stay long because politics had to come first. They couldn’t justify the expense of taking the plane on taxpayer money without an offical reason; so the president would be the president
And Taehyung would only have a few sparing moments for his father.
Something he was used to, but it didn’t mean he liked it.
It wasn’t until they arrived on campus that he started to feel truly nervous. His stomach twisted in knots and his fingers tapped away at his thigh. He looked out the window and licked his lips anxiously, seeing the way the students stopped and stared and whispered.
How was he going to make friends when he was a spectacle? Something to be pointed at and whispered about?
He looked over at his mother when he felt her hand entwined with his own, and squeeze comfortingly.
She smiled gently. “You’re going to do great,” she assured him.
It wasn’t exactly what he wanted to hear, but he knew she meant well.
“I remember my first day of college?” His father piped up from the seat across from them. “I fell into the fountain in the middle of campus.”
Taehyung laughed in disbelief.
“It’s true,” his father grinned. “I was completely lost - I saw the most beautiful girl and was trying to find her again, and stood up on the ledge of the fountain to get a better view, and then I just fell in.”
Taehyung rolled his eyes, fondly. “It was mom, right?”
“Of course, it was,” he answered, shooting her a wink. “I didn’t find her again for another year and a half after that, but I knew that first day I saw her she was it for me.”
Taehyung gagged playfully, but he was
warm at the story, and felt lucky his parents shared such a true and strong love. A lot of other kids he’d met over the years in his position couldn’t say that same.
“Maybe I’ll find someone like that too,” he said, a little hopeful but still doubting it. His parents were
The exception, not the rule. He, of course, was the anomaly. There was no way he’d have a love story as honest and normal as his parents, he was sure of that.
They pulled up on the curb outside the dorms, and Taehyung stared at the building with a growing sense of trepidation. The door was opened by a member of the secret service and he stepped out of the car, smoothing down his dress shirt nervously: everyone else he saw on campus was
Dressed so casually. He felt out of place and he’d barely taken a step onto the grounds.
He waited for his parents, who walked with him inside. He ignored everyone and everything else as much as possible as they greeted they were greeted by the resident advisors (after they’d
Been cleared by security) who handed Taehyung a campus map and led them up to his room. They were professional, despite being students. he had to give them credit, they only went a bit red and barely showed their nervousness. They left the family outside the door, and Taehyung
Scanned the keycard.
His enrolment in the college had meant a massive refurbishment had taken place over the last year and a half, due to the security measures required for a member of the first family. He knew it had been hard on the staff and students. But at least they
Had new state of the art dorm facilities and security systems.
He pushed open the door and stepped inside to the room that would be his new home for the next year.
It was empty.
“I thought your roommate was supposed to be here,” his mother said with a frown.
“Not everyone lives on a schedule, mom,” Taehyung replied, looking around.
It was a spacious room, compared to what he’d imagined. The room was rectangular and divided in two. The beds were against each side wall. A large window cut the back wall, and two simple desks stood
Side by side under it. He noticed the window was customised - it would only slide up an inch, and it was likely bulletproof. He swallowed, ignoring the unease he felt at knowing such measures had to be taken.
They each had built in wardrobes beside the door, and there was a small fridge and microwave on one side between the bed and wardrobe, and a small couch and coffee table on the other.
Taehyung felt the first flutters of excitement with his nerves. This was his room. He space.
He hoped his roommate would be his friend too. They’d have to put up with a lot, but he really really just wanted to have a good year.
Lydia, his fathers travelling secretary, informed them his roommates ETA was fifteen minutes out. His name was Jimin, and his family were
supporters. Taehyung rolled his eyes at that. Of course there were stipulations like that to room with him. Couldn’t have any support of his fathers opponents, in case they sells secrets or whatever.
Then Lydia announced it was time.
Taehyung looked at his father. “Already?” He asked, disheartened.
Daesung gave him a regretful expression, and Taehyung sighed.
They said good-bye outside the car. Is mother cried a little, but held it together in front of the crowd. His
Father hugged him tightly and whispered words of encouragement. He was teary eyed and emotional and so was Taehyung.
The convoy left with Taehyung watching from in front of the dorms. He was alone… except for his security detail.
The four agents that flanked him, making him unapproachable and completely unable to fade into the background. With a tight and painful throat, he walked back inside, giving small smiles to the people he passed - a few of whom returned them. He arrived back to his room, and
Started to unpack while he waited for his roommate to arrive.
He didn’t have to wait long. He’d barely u packed his electronics before he heard the commotion at the door.
“Oh my god are you serious?”
Taehyung winced at the loud complaint and waited for the door to open. There was the sound of the key card swipe unlocking the door and then an agent opened the door for a short, dyed-red haired guy to walk in.
Taehyung stood a little straighter.
Jimin looked at him and Taehyung looked back. There was a tense silence as Taehyung let Jimin asses him, eyes scanning and narrowed.
“Okay. First of all, this is college not a boardroom. We really need to address your wardrobe,” he said with a sigh, dumping his backpack on the
floor. Taehyung blinked, surprised, but Jimin wasn’t done. “And secondly, if your men in black clones are going to be searching my stuff the least they can do is heave it inside. My bags are heavy as hell.”
It took Taehyung a moment, but he couldn’t help the way his smile
came from the inside out. He was being accepted. Brash, whiny, but not mean.
“I thought I looked okay,” he said, glancing down at himself with a slight frown. He was dressed in slacks and a white button-down.
Jimin raised and eyebrow and snorted. “Maybe if you’re meeting
with the provost or something.”
Taehyung gave a slight grimace. “Well… I am? Later on…” he had to attend a welcome party. He didn’t want to, but it was important to show gratitude to the college for accomodating him.
“Oh god help me, are you as uptight as they say?”
Jimin asked bluntly.
At that, Taehyung frowned. “I’m not uptight.”
Jimin looked him up and down. “Right. Well I’m here to attend college and have a full experience; making friends, going to parties, hopefully dating, probably failing a subject or two…”
“So am I,” Taehyung replied. At Jimin’s dubious look he frowned harder. “I just - I want the same things as you. Okay?”
“Alright. Well, I’m gonna unpack a bit and go to the bathroom, and after that I want to walk around the orientation fair and go to the welcome party. What are
You going to do?”
“I…” he wanted to join Jimin so badly, but his duties as a first family member always had to come first.
“There’s parties all week?” Jimin said at his hesitation. “If you have lame plans today, tomorrow? I mean, I know I’d like to be friends with my
For he first time, Jimin looked a bit nervous.
“Tomorrows perfect,” Taehyung replied with a smile.
“Great.” Jimin held out his hand with a smile in return. “I’m Jimin.”
They shook hands, and Taehyung felt his heart lift. This was just the beginning.
Taehyung was wrong about his life before college - he hadn’t been living in a fish bowl. He’d been swimming in an aquarium- college was the real fish bowl.
Orientation week was the week before classes officially began, and Jimin took him out to a campus cookout, and one
Actual party that he knew his agents completely ruined the vibe of. It was hard to party (underage or over) when there was suites up security scanning over everything and accosting a few people when they inevitably got too close in a crowded house.
Taehyung tried to ignore
the annoyed looks of the hosts and guests, and left pretty early. Jimin stayed behind and regaled him with stories of how crazy it got when he was gone and Taehyung tried not to take it personally.
The fact that normal was a faraway dream was never more obvious than that when
His first lecture, Taehyung arrived early and took a seat a few rows back from the front, middle section. His agents were posted in the corners of the room. He felt boxed in even before the lecture hall started to fill. But then he felt exposed when there was
a circle of empty seats around him, and the whispering grew and grew. He could feel eyes on him constantly, curious and judgmental. It didn’t stop even when the lecture began and the professor was fifteen minutes into discussing the syllabus and expectations for class.
The lecturer tried to joke about the attention, but it only made Taehyung feel more awkward and make it all the more obvious.
Until he was saved.
A few rows back, in a maroon and dark grey hoodie, a guy asked a ridiculous question, making every scoff and laugh, and Taehyung
Turned to look at him.
They caught eyes, and the little grin the guy shot him had his heart race; he’d known exactly what he was doing. He saved Taehyung on purpose. Heart racing, Taehyung shot him a smile of relief, gratitude, and curious wonderment. Class settled after that.
When it was finished, Taehyung made a plan to thank the guy. He had to. So he raced out of the classroom looking for him in the crowd of students, and called out.
“Um, thank you, maroon hoodie.”
The guy paused and turned back, looking down at himself. Taehyung smiled and
Walked over to him.
“Sorry. I don’t know your name. Thank you, for saving me back there.”
Maroon hoodie shrugged. “No problem. I just did what anyone would have.”
Taehyung shook his head slightly. “Not anyone. I know that for a fact.” He held out a hand. “I’m Taehyung.”
“Jungkook.” They shook hands, and Taehyung lost himself staring at Jungkook for a moment. He had a really great smile. “Well I gotta…”
“Right.” Taehyung dropped his hand and blinked, blood rushing to his cheeks. “Class. Me too.”
“I’ll see you,” Jungkook said.
“Yeah,” Taehyung nodded, maybe too eagerly. “I’ll see you in class.”
With one last look, Jungkook walked off, and Taehyung stared after him, feeling a little dazed.
“Woah, who’s the hottie?” Jimin startled him with his sudden appearance and Taehyung let out a little yelp.
Jimin giggled and linked their arms together. “So? Who was he?”
They had their next class together. A general ed class, so Jimin had come to pick him up.
“Just a guy in my class,” Taehyung replied, clearing his throat, a little embarrassed. “He was nice.”
Jimin have him a
“Yeah, he definitely looks nice,” he replied, definitely a little suggestive and teasing.
Taehyung rolled his eyes. “Shut up.”
So far, the best thing about college had been Jimin as his roommate (aside from meeting Jungkook.)
They got along well, and Jimin was a fun, lively guy. He flirted and teased, but he wasn’t mean or cruel, and Taehyung had seen his quieter caring sides too. He was enjoying getting to know him.
“He looked older than us. Maybe a junior,” Jimin said.
“Maybe,” Taehyung shrugged
“I’m not sure.”
He did look older. Taehyung was a freshman, but he was twenty. Older than most. He’d had to wait before he could go to college. Jimin was the same age as him. He’d had to put off college immediately after high school to work when his mom had gotten injured.
But she was working again now, and sent him off to get an education. It was nice not being the only old freshman.
Taehyung couldn’t help but feel like Jungkook was even more attractive if he was a little older. Oh god, what was wrong with him? He already had the beginning of
a crush? He really needed to get out more.
(napping- back later)
As much as Jimin tried to be inclusive, no one else seemed much inclined to make any effort to be friends with Taehyung. It was too much to deal with, apparently, so the college experience he’d been hoping for remained painfully out of reach. The only upside was that despite
all the hardships he knew he caused Jimin, Jimin never wavered. Even though he lost friends (“I don’t want to be friends with people who don’t have the bare minimum of respect anyway.”) he still stuck with Taehyung, dragging him out, introducing him to people, making sure he was
Experiencing as much as possible.
One night, they were huddled up on Jimin’s bed watching a movie when they slipped into serious conversation.
“I just - you know when you hit this point and realise that what you thought you knew was wrong? Or the people you knew
weren’t who you thought?” Jimin looked troubled and Taehyung felt guilty because of it. “I don’t know, I guess I’m just learning a lot about myself and the people around me - and you, too.”
“I think that’s called maturity,” Taehyung’s murmured in response.
“Yeah, I’m mature
As fuck,” Jimin laughed, and so did Taehyung at the ridiculousness of it.
“Seriously! People… people suck, Tae. I’ve really had my eyes opened,” he let out a sigh.
“Sorry,” Taehyung apologised.
“Why are you apologising?” Jimin questioned. “People suck but you don’t. I mean
There are so sucky things around you. Like the security detail being so up in everyone’s grill -” Taehyung’s grimaced, “- and being confronted with this newfound maturity I definitely did not ask for-” at that, Taehyung snorted, “- but I think you’re amazing. I’d rather be with
You and all the sucky things that come with you, than hang around people who are just, I don’t know, cowardly and two-faced. You don’t know how many times live heard people be all nice to your face and then gossip horribly behind your back. It’s the worst. People suck!”
Taehyung felt his heart squeeze with a strange sensation of both happiness and sorrow. His eyes welled up, but he blinked the emotional tears away.
“You don’t suck either,” he said, nudging Jimin with his arm.
Jimin grinned. “I know, I’m awesome.”
They fell into a comfortable silence, lie the kinds of one only shared by people who have a real understanding of each other.
Taehyung had never felt more seen.
He glanced up at Jimin’s wardrobe.
“Hey, um. You… were you serious about addressing my wardrobe?”
It was almost alarming the speed Jimin straightened and the way his entire body seemed to light up. He was way too excited.
Taehyung was just a little terrified.
Jimin wanted to debut his new wardrobe at a midterms party at a frat house, and Taehyung agreed to with some reluctance. He’d avoided organised parties because going meant a lot of hassle for the hosts. His agents had to do their own security sweeps before it started, and it was
A lot to deal with. But this particular frat had asked him to come to a few parties, even to rush, but he’d declined. So jimin assured him they’d put up with whatever they needed for him to be there.
And they did. And Taehyung actually enjoyed himself. He was complimented
on his outfit a lot - Jimin had put him in wet look leather pants with a shine, and a red silk shirt. He’d styled his hair back, even applied a little makeup, and highlighter. He felt… different but good. Almost… himself in a way he’d never felt before.
So he enjoyed the night. He nursed one drink, and took a shot with Jimin, and who had confessed that one of the frat members had caught his eye. It was a senior, so Jimin didn’t think he had a chance, but Taehyung had watched the guy - Yoongi - after Jimin pointed him out, and
Seen the way he stared at Jimin.
He encouraged Jimin to go over and talk to him, he promised he’d be fine alone.
He stood and sipped his drink, smiling slightly as he watched his friend and his crush talk for a moment, before he felt a bit awkward and wandered through
As time passed, and he was alone, he started to feel it. People waved and said hi, but no one came over to him. He felt like an outsider, intruding on everyone else’s good time, his agents were just doing their job, but for the first time he started to feel real
anger at their presence. They were so obvious, so just - there. It was like walking around with a big neon sign attached to his head, “DONT BOTHWR BEING FRIENDS ITS TOO MUCH HASSLE”
He clenched his jaw and walked toward the table where a huge bowl of jungle juice was sitting
and picked up a plastic cup.
He drank the entire thing quickly, and went for a second before someone stood beside him.
“Woah, slow down cowboy.”
Taehyung was shocked.
Jungkook took the cup from his hand with an easy smile. “Jungle juice is the silent killer. Take it easy.”
“Oh. Um. Thanks,” Taehyung cleared his throat.
Jungkook glanced around, and leaned in. “Want to go outside?” He asked, “it’s quieter.”
Taehyung nodded. It was loud inside. The music was a lot and he needed some air. He was going to tel Jimin, but when he turned to look for him he saw him straddled on that Yoongi’s lap on the couch across the room, making out.
Right. He gave Jungkook a tight smile and followed
Him out of the frat house into the yard.
There was a pool, and some people were inside - others were playing beer pong on a ping pong table, some were smoking.
Taehyung was just relieved to breathe some fresh air; he hadn’t realised how stuffy it had gotten inside.
He was glad to notice his agents backed off when he and Jungkook found two spare chairs to sit on by the pool.
“So, first frat party?” Jungkook asked him. He had a bottle of water in his hands.
Taehyung nodded. “Yeah. It’s usually a bit… hard to go to parties, and
um, people tend to enjoy themselves more when they don’t feel like they’re being observed by government representatives.” He tried not to sound bitter, but he didn’t think it worked “sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.”
Jungkook was staring at him.
“No… it’s how you feel. And I mean, it’s gotta be hard to be in your shoes too.”
There was a splash of someone jumping into the pool and Taehyung looked over at them.
“Looks fun,” he mused.
He’d never jumped into a pool like that before.
“Wanna do it?”
Taehyung whipped his head back to look at Jungkook.
“I… I can’t,” he shrunk away.
But Jungkook smiled. “Sure you can.” He held out his hand and Taehyung stared at it. “Let’s go.”
Taehyung had never felt more longing and desperation to do something more than in that moment. He took hold of Jungkook’s hand, and held on tightly. They stood and Jungkook led him a few steps back to from the pool.
Someone noticed what he was going to do, because suddenly there was a shout and an announcement about it, and people started chanting his name.
Jungkook still hadn’t let go of his hand. Taehyung couldn’t help but laugh and smile, embarrassed and excited.
“Yes,” Taehyung beamed.
They took off at a run, and jumped into the water. Taehyung plunged under the water, and came back up with that same huge grin a second later, drenched and happy.
Jungkook was up too, wet and smiling at him.
“You saved me again.”
His words were quiet compared the the cheering and music around them, and the sound of others jumping into the pool.
Taehyung couldn’t help the wonderment he felt inside from showing on his face. There was something about Jungkook that was so curious, so… appealing to him.
And it wasn’t just because Jungkook had saved him again. Something about the way he looked at him… the way he spoke.
It made Taehyung feel seen. Like Jungkook could see /him. Past the agents, past his family, past the media painted version of him. He saw Taehyung.
Or that was what it felt like, at least.
The moment between them was broken by someone jumping in a little too close to him, and Jungkook stepped forward with a surprised and almost irritated expression, an arm went around his waist protectively.
“Careful,” he murmured.
“Maybe we should get out before someone jumps on you by accident and your agents freak out.”
Taehyung could only nod, so hyper aware of everything, staring at Jungkook profile as he led him from the middle of the pool toward the edge.
“Tae!” He was broken from his daze by
Jimin’s shout. Jungkook waa leading him to where his friend was waiting.
He felt bereft when Jungkook’s arm fell from his waist when he gestured for Taehyung to climb out first. Jimin helped him.
“Your beautiful shirt,” Jimin bemoaned. “We have to take it to be cleaned.”
Taehyung looked down at himself, feeling cold and exposed. The silk stuck to his skin, clinging to him, a few buttons were undone, and his nipples were hard and erect under the wet material. He felt a flood of heat to his face, and wrapped his arms around himself, self-conscious
At how exposed he was. He’d never felt so naked in public before.
He froze when he felt warmth drop over his shoulders.
“Here,” Jungkook said. “I’m guessing you didn’t bring a jacket.”
“Thanks,” Taehyung murmured, and gripped it tightly.
“Tae - want to go?” Jimin asked.
Taehyung frowned at him. Wasn’t he having fun with his crush? But then he noticed the red-rimmed eyes and way Jimin’s smile wasn’t quite as real or happy as he was trying to pretend it was.
“Yeah,” he nodded, concerned. He went to give Jungkook back the jacket, but he shook
“Keep it,” he said. “Looks better on you anyway.”
Taehyung felt warm. “Okay… I’ll see you in class.”
“See you then,” Jungkook agreed.
Taehyung left with Jimin, looking back once to see Jungkook staring after him, hands in his pockets.
Oh, god he was in so much trouble.
Everything came crashing down on Taehyung’s head in the morning.
He woke up to his phone ringing, and winced at the multiple missed calls from Hanuel, and even Lydia. But none from his parents, which meant something was wrong. But he didn’t know what, until he opened a message
And followed the link they’d sent.
It was to an article with photos of him at the party, some with a red cup in hand, others with him drenched in the pool. One had been taken at such an angle that it looked like he was - he didn’t even know. But his buttons were I dined and his
Shirt was wet, and the photo they used made him look drunk.
The headlines were about his ‘wild night’ and the article listed underage drinking, and lies about his time at the party. He felt hollowed out and sick, shamed like he’d done something terrible.
He closed his eyes. This was bad.
He knew he was going to get an earful, and he knew it didn’t matter that he had only had two drinks, or that he hadn’t done any of the things the article listed except the underage drinking (it was his birthday in less than two months though)
and jumping into the pool.
He’d just… had fun. Like a normal person. But it didn’t matter. Because that was what the media did; twisted and manipulated to their own agenda. And it wasn’t even because of him, it was all to try and drag down his father .
He already knew what
they were going to say; actions have consequences, he has to be better, he knows better, he knows how important the next year is, he has just damaged the administration with his thoughtless actions.
He didn’t want to hear it. But he didn’t have a choice either.
Jimin’s voice was groggy from the other side of the room. Taehyung exhaled when he saw a photo of him and Jimin at the party, Jimin hanging off him, his sheer shirt hiding nothing.
“What’s going on? Who’s calling so much?”
Taehyung swallowed. “The Oval Office.”
Jimin sat up and wiped his eyes.
“Your dad? Why?”
“Not my dad,” he responded. “The office of the president.”
He handed over his phone and showed Jimin the article. He watched as Jimin grew a little not awake with every second, eyes widening as he read, mouth parting.
“What the fuck,” he breathed, and Taehyung waited, knowing what was coming.
Even Jimin had limits.
“I can’t believe this… I’m in the news?” He looked up at Taehyung, face contorted. “And I look hot!”
Taehyung blinked. “What?”
“Oh my god, I’m going to call my mom and tell
Her I’m about to have my fifteen minutes.”
“What?” Taehyung repeated.
Jimin handed him back his phone. A smile on his face.
“Hey. Stop stressing out, Tae. It’s okay; I know what I signed up for. You’re my friend and nothing is going to change that.”
Taehyung felt like he
Was going to cry. In his hand, his phone buzzed again. Another call from Lydia.
He stared at it.
“Do you need me?” Jimin asked him.
Taehyung shrugged. He didn’t know. He’d never had a friend like Jimin before.
He answered the call. Jimin sat down beside him.
“Taehyung, did you see the articles?” Lydia asked firmly. He could hear the disappointment and disapproval in her voice.
“I did,” he replied. “It’s not true. I didn’t do the things written. Except have a drink.”
“That might be true, but the news doesn’t care about your truth. It’s what it looks like that matters, and what it looks like is the president’s dutiful, and well-behaved son has gone to college to go wild and party.”
Taehyung could feel Jimin’s disbelieving stare.
He put a hand on his forehead and closed his eyes.
“I know. I’m sorry,” he apologised.
“What are you apologising for?” Jimin hissed, “you did nothing wrong!”
Taehyung ignored him.
“The president is furious. We are coming up to an election year, and now he’ll have to
convince the public he can run the country again. How is that supposed to be a credible when it appears he can’t control his own child.”
“Control?” Jimin all but growled.
Taehyung felt hurt and angry.
He clenched his jaw, holding back his retorts about being a person not a doll. Jimin looked like he was about to combust beside him. It was nice… someone feeling so much for him. Showing the things he wished he could.
“It won’t happen again,” Taehyung said, ever obedient.
“This is ridiculous,” Jimin snapped, standing up.
“It better not, Taehyung,”
Taehyung’s startled, not expecting his dad to say anything, but he’d assumed he’d been listening in.
“Dad - ”
“I’m not talking as your father right now.”
“This is your president speaking to a member of the First Family.”
I didn’t ask for this, Taehyung thought miserably.
“We can’t afford these kinds of mistakes, not when the election year is about to begin. You
need to remember that you are not just another college student. You’re the son of the President of the country. You are held to a standard, and must uphold it.”
Taehyung felt the weight of the words like a crushing foot on his shoulder, forcing him down to the floor.
“I understand,” he replied quietly.
Jimin make a sound of disbelief and paced the room, fists clenched at his sides. Taehyung was regretting having the phone on speaker.
There was a moment of silence.
“Son?” The tone shift was obvious and Taehyung felt his body relax
He took his own phone off speaker.
“Dad,” he said again, turning away from Jimin.
His father sighed. “Being 20 isn’t easy, and college is supposed to be fun. I wish you could go and feel free to do what you want, but - I’m sorry, Tae. It’s just not possible.”
“I just.. wanted to go out with my friend, and have fun.”
“I know that, and I trust you. Your mother and I both do.“
It didn’t feel very reassuring to hear it.
“Did you have fun, at least?”
“Yeah,” Taehyung said, remembering the night. Remembering Jungkook. “I did.”
“I’m glad then.”
“Dad… dad can we talk about my security detail? It’s too much,” he whispered. “It’s suffocating me. I - I can’t make friends like this, dad. Please.”
“It’s been given to you for a reason, Taehyung,” his father said after a moment. “I’m sorry.”
Taehyung felt defeated. “Fine. Bye.”
“Taehyung — ”
He hung up.
He turned to Jimin, who was staring at him with a frown and a pout.
“I’m… gonna go back to bed,” he said.
Jimin nodded. He looked sad.
“Yeah. I’ll go and bring you some breakfast, okay?”
“Thanks,” Taehyung whispered, feeling his tears began to well.
Once Jimin had left, and Taehyung was alone, he curled up under his blankets and sniffled quietly until he fell asleep.
Taehyung didn’t leave the dorm room until after midnight to shower and freshen up. He wanted to avoid as many people as possible.
Hanuel emailed and said they found out two of the fraternity members had been bribed by the media to take photos of him. He felt nauseated by
The news. That was the only reason they’d wanted him at the party, for money.
Judging by how furious Jimin was when he stormed out of the dorm a few hours ago, that Yoongi guy was in for an earful. He still hadn’t come back though, or answered his messages, so maybe he got
More than an earful. Taehyung had yet to learn why Jimin had been crying at the party too. He felt guilty for not asking his friend how he was, and being so concern about himself and his own issues. It wasn’t like his issues would ever change. He might as well just accept it.
At least he could shower in peace. That was something.
Monday morning came with a swarm of unexpected media, storming the campus and breaking into the dorms. Taehyung, terrified of being chased by the mob, sprinted up the stairs, uncaring of who he pushed and ran to his
room, knocking harshly on the door for Jimin to open up. But he didn’t, and too stressed to think clearly when he heard the media calling out up the stairs for him, he ran to the first open door he could see - the RA room at the end of the hall.
He slammed it shut and let out a shaky exhale, his head falling forward to rest against the door, eyes closed.
(interlude: do you guys want to see yoonmin’s story too?)
second interlude: please vote on a name for the au (or qt with a suggestion of your own!)
He turned his to see Jungkook, lounging on a beanbag, book in hand, looking at him with amusement.
“You’re… not Jordan,” Taehyung said dumbly.
“Nope,” Jungkook replied with a grin. “Jordan preferred something more low key. I’m the new RA. Started last week.”
“So this.. is your room.”
Taehyung felt hot with embarrassment, and that silly giddy feeling that came from being close to someone you liked.
“It is. Is everything okay? You kinda… rushed in and slammed the door.”
Taehyung felt awkward in his room, and embarrassed at how he’d arrived there.
“Just - paparazzi invaded campus,” he muttered, waving his hand dismissively. “It’s fine.”
Jungkook frowned. “It doesn’t sound fine. At all.”
Taehyung bit his lip and sat on the desk chair while Jungkook grabbed his phone and proceeded to glare at it for a moment while tapping away.
He took the chance to look around. There wasn’t much in the room; it was much the same as his own, just a single. It was very neat.
A class schedule was pinned to the cork board on the wall, with a few other campus flyers, and a photo of Jungkook with two other guys. They were both in uniform- army, from what he could tell.
But there wasn’t much else noticeable in the room except a stack of textbooks and
a few autobiographies of sports people.
“I have an idea,” Jungkook suddenly announced.
Taehyung looked at him in confusion.
“We’re sneaking out.”
“Sneaking… out.” Taehyung repeated. “That’s… that’s not possible.”
Jungkook didn’t stop grinning. “There’s a first time for everything.”
Taehyung shook his head. “No, I mean… I - the agents. I can’t - if I actually manage to get away from them it could cause trouble with
their jobs.” He looked down at his hands. “I might not like having them around all the time, but I don’t want to get into difficult situations because of me being ungrateful either.”
Jungkook was silent for so long Taehyung looked up in concern, only to feel frozen at the
Warm intensity of the stare directed at him.
His cheeks heated up immediately at the attention.
“Sometimes, Taehyung,” Jungkook said softly, “we need to be selfish. And it’s okay. It’s normal, and it’s okay.” He stood up and held out his hand. “Let’s go.”
For the millionth time in Jungkook’s presence, Taehyung felt an eruption of butterflies in his stomach,m. His skin tingled and burst where their hands met.
“Okay,” he whispered, standing.
“Great. Just — ” Jungkook turned and went into his wardrobe, pulling out a large black
hoodie and matching pants.
“We’re going incognito,” Jungkook explained. “Get changed. And grab that black cap too. I’ll be just outside.”
Left alone, Taehyung changed, and allowed himself a moment to soak into the knowledge that he was wearing Jungkook’s clothes.
Taehyung had no idea how, but Jungkook did it. He kept his hood on and head down and followed him. Sometimes they ran, sometimes they walked and hid. But they got away.
Taehyung was… free. For the first time since he was a kid, he felt completely free.
Taehyung waited, being as inconspicuous as possible, while Jungkook got the movie tickets for whatever was on at the time, and they headed into the cinema with drinks, chocolates, and a popcorn each. In the dark, in the back corner, Taehyung felt comfortable enough to take off
the cap and hood. He couldn’t hold back his smile.
The movie had already started, so Taehyung didn’t pay too much attention to it. He was happy to just be.
He was also way too aware of Jungkook right next to him.
When Jungkook poured his pack of m&ms into the popcorn, Taehyung made a strangled sound of disgust.
Jungkook tried to convince him it was good, and eventually Taehyung tried some - because how could he refuse Jungkook’s earnest expression?
“It’s disgusting,” he said after A
“The salty sweet flavour is what makes it great,” Jungkook defended.
Taehyung couldn’t help his little smile. It was gross but…
“I kinda like it.”
Seeing Jungkook’s satisfied expression was worth just one more mouthful of the the weird food combination.
Taehyung hadn’t realised how exhausted he was, because suddenly the lights were on and he was waking up. His head had been resting on Jungkook’s shoulder.
“Morning,” Jungkook teased.
Taehyung blinked and then Startled. Sitting up straight.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” he apologised,
Jungkook just shook his head. “So what do you want to do now?”
Taehyung didn’t know.
“Um.” The whole day had felt like a date. It wasn’t, he knew that, but it felt like it. He wanted to keep feeling that. “Hot chocolate?”
“Let me look for a cafe,” Jungkook agreed. “We can try for one off the main roads. Might be less busy.”
Taehyung wondered why he was so considerate, and how he didn’t seem burdened at all. It wasn’t easy, being around him. But there was something about the way Jungkook just
Took it in stride, always seemed to step in at just the right moment, somehow give Taehyung a sense of comfort and freedom without doing much at all.
How was he supposed to not fall?
“Found one,” Jungkook sounded proud.
“I’ll follow you,” Taehyung said.
He tried so hard not to read into the way Jungkook grabbed his hand at one point and just… didn’t let go.
Taehyung accepted the scolding about running away without his agents easily, not really hearing it. He was too happy to care about being told off like a child. the lingering touch of Jungkook’s hand, his smile, the way they conversed so easily about almost everything…
He felt like even his heart was smiling.
When Jimin finally arrived back to their dorm after almost 36 hours gone, he couldn’t even bring himself to pretend to be upset about not getting a message that he was safe.
“I hate Yoongi,” Jimin whined as soon as he arrived.
Taehyung eyed the hickey on his neck.
“Do you?” He asked, amused as Jimin flopped back on his bed.
Jimin let out a dramatic sigh. “No, but - Maybe a little.” He whined and then he sat up and hugged one of his pillows. “He doesn’t do commitment,” Jimin said quietly.
“So. I can either be a fuckbuddy or nothing.”
Taehyung frowned. “Is that why you were crying at the party?”
Jimin looked down. “You noticed?”
“You’re my best friend,” Taehyung answered, feeling a little embarrassed.
He let out a huff when Jimin landed on top of him, hugging him with squealing noises and cooing. Taehyung laughed and pushed him off when he started tickling him.
Jimin’s mood dropped quickly as he lay beside him, and Taehyung empathised with his friend.
“You deserve better than being a booty call,” Taehyung told him.
Jimin’s lips poured and trembled. “I really like him. He’s in the music department too… he’s a genius - so talented.” Jimin sighed. “He’s so cool.”
“Maybe he’s at his peak,” Taehyung said after wracking his brain to figure out how to comfort him.
“I mean - what if he’s only cool now? He might become a bum, and then you’ll be able to look back in the future and be relieved.”
Jimin was silent for a moment and
then he burst out laughing, rolled over and rested his head on. Taehyung’s forearm.
“I know you’re right, it’s just - ” he let out a groan. “He’s such a good kisser! And his di—”
“I really don’t need to know!” Taehyung cut him off, red-faced.
“You’re so innocent, Tae,” he said wistfully. Tae stiffened a little. “Not in a bad way!” Jimin said, sitting up.
“Isn’t it just another way to say I’m naive?” Taehyung muttered.
“No!” Jimin shook his head. “All I meant was that you’re… Untainted. Yeah… you just have this
purity about you. You’re not naive. I wish I was more like you.”
Taehyung sat up too.
“I wish I was more like you. More free,” Taehyung replied.
“Well… let’s be free!” Jimin said with a smile. “Let’s do something fun!”
“I don’t know!”
Taehyung smiled. “I kind of… I shouldn’t go out.”
“Um. I kinda. Snuck out? Without any agents… got in a bit of trouble.”
“Wow, Tae! You’re growing up!” Jimin wiped away fake tears, and Taehyung chuckled. “So did you manage it alone?”
“Sneaking out… oh my god, who did you go out with!” Jimin asked eagerly. “Was it a date!? Did you go on a date??”
Taehyung’s entire body heated up and Jimin gasped.
“You did!! Who?? Tell me, tell me, tell me!”
Taehyung groaned and hid his face in his hands.
“It wasn’t a date,” he denied. “I just… he was helping me. That’s all.”
“Uh huh. So who was it?”
“Um. You remember Jungkook?”
“The one from your class you can’t stop staring at on campus? The hot one you jumped in the pool with? Um. Yes, definitely I remember him,” Jimin exclaimed teasingly.
“I don’t stare!”
“Yes you do,” Jimin poked his cheek and laughed. “Okay. Okay, how about we stay in and
We can order pizza, I’ll go out and buy some beer, and we can have a mini party in here?”
That night, he went to bed thinking it might be the happiest day he’s ever had.
He wanted more, but for now, it was enough.
He didn’t see Jungkook for a few days, and he tried not to let it affect him. Jimin forced him to leave a note of the whiteboard outside the RA’s door, thanking him and inviting him to meet him at the campus thanksgiving bonfire on the weekend.
He didn’t end up coming, and Taehyung tried not to be disappointed. It didn’t matter much anyone because he needed to stick close to support Jimin emotionally, since Yoongi was there. They talked, and Taehyung was surprised by the apology he was given in behalf of the frat.
It seemed sincere, and Yoongi did seem nice. He was just sad for Jimin, who couldn’t hide the longing on his face, or the hurt when Yoongi had his arm around another guy’s waist later in the evening.
Taehyung was learning a lot about people; things he’d never had the chance to experience before. The bubble of his life was being popped, and he stepped out further into the world every day. People were all so different, and it seemed a silly realisation to make, but it was so
much more obvious to him now because there were less people trying to please him. Or his father. College kids didn’t care about politics as much as politicians did. They didn’t try to gain his favour to get closer to his dad. It was disconcerting and refreshing.
But there were always people who enjoyed provoking and instigating.
During the week between the bonfire and thanksgiving weekend when campus would empty for the holiday, Taehyung was informed there would be a rally for his fathers opponent on the free speech area on campus.
He really wanted to skip classes that day. But what would that say about him? That he was a coward for avoiding it? That he was scared? He didn’t know, but people said whatever they wanted and didn’t care about his truth. So he didn’t have a choice but to attend class.
It happened that he needed to cross that area to go from one class to the next, so Taehyung braced himself when it was over, and tried to keep his head down as he went.
But, of course, someone saw him, and called him out.
(it’s 2am lol I’m sleepy back tomorrow)
“Well, if it isn’t the First Son, our nations prince,” came the mocking call out.
Taehyung clenched his jaw and stopped walking. He looked over at the guy on the microphone. Drawing the attention of everyone around them.
“Where are you going, President’s Son? Scared of
some good old fashioned debate?”
Taehyung hated this. He hated a lot about his life, when he was truly honest with himself. The way he didn’t have a choice for so much, how he was treated like a prop in his fathers political career, used for an agenda, criticised and made fun
Of for just existing.
But this was what he hated most; cruelty for the sake of cruelty, meanness disguised as a jest, the malicious intent to humiliate under pretence of debate - as if he had anything to do with his fathers politics, or the state of the nation.
He had been born into the life his parents had spent years working hard for. He couldn’t fault them for striving to live their dreams and ambitions - his father had wanted to be the president since he could talk, and his mother had made the conscious choice to put her own
ambitions aside and be the support he needed. When he’d asked her if it was hard to give up her life for her husband, particularly in the modern era, she just smiled.
“There are a lot of ways people can live their dreams, and dreams change. I love your father, and I believe in
Him and his vision. It’s his time now. When his time is over, I know that he will support whatever it is I choose to do.”
“But what about women’s rights and equality?” Taehyung had wondered.
“The fact I can make this choice is my right,” she’d replied. “I didn’t feel
Obligated to put my own wants and desires aside - I chose to. Your father wanted to be president so badly he used make speeches in his sleep! So I don’t feel cheated from a life I might have lived - I have the life I choose to live, and I have loved every moment of it.”
He admired his parents, and loved them so much.
But they chose this life for all of them, and they all had to deal with the bad parts. But it was easier to deal with the bad parts of things when you chose that path.
It wasn’t a debate these people wanted, it was a reaction. So when the crowd started to chant his name, Taehyung turned and walked away.
“Guess he’s daddy’s little toy,” the guy jeered. The insinuations of the phrasing had Taehyung almost stop and go back. “Only does what
daddy tells him.”
Taehyung didn’t go to class.
He locked himself in his dorm the rest of the day, and not even Jimin could coax him out of where he hid under his covers.
Taehyung went home for Thanksgiving, like most of the campus. He was glad to see his parents again, happy to have the chance to be with them. He went to the annual thanksgiving party hosted by the president, he danced, chatted with some people, but ultimately felt out of place.
It wasn’t until his father came to find him and told him that in two weeks he’d be visiting. Plus, it was the governors holiday ball, and Taehyung was invited to attend. He was thrilled when his father said he could invite his friends if he wanted. Jimin would be ecstatic.
He was right - Jimin was thrilled. Even more so when Taehyung told him it would be his way to show his gratitude, so he wouldn’t have to pay for anything - not the new suit, not his salon and spa experience, nothing.
Jimin was torn between accepting and not, but he proclaimed
His pride wasn’t so big he’d refuse to save so much money. Taehyung was glad he understood him.
It was also Jimin’s idea to bring Jungkook. As a surprise date.
“You don’t have to call it that - but he’s your friend, right? Just ask him to come as a friend.”
It made him nervous, and he got so in his head about it, he forgot to say anything until the day of. Jimin was beside himself when he woke up freaked out and had to go and rush to Jungkook’s room to tell him he was already on the guest list, and his appointments were made.
He felt bad that he sort of bulldozed Jungkook into the day, not giving him much of a choice to say no, even though he did look reluctant to agree. He was too nice. But Taehyung was just so happy to spend time with him again.
They’d seen each other in class, and chatted briefly on campus, but it hadn’t been anything close to their non-date. But Taehyung was sure he was reading Jungkook’s cues right, that he didn’t want to have to go to class and stop talking, that it was hard to say goodbye.
He hoped so desperately he was right, because his crush wasn’t a crush anymore. His feeling were consuming, and though he was used to keeping his emotions under control, it was hard to stop the urges to be around him all the time; to knock on his door, to ask to study, to go out.
When the hairdresser was done with them, both Jungkook and Taehyung stared at Jimin with some amazement. He’d dyed his hair black, and he looked fantastic.
“I know I’m hot. You can close your mouths,” he smirked
Jungkook snorted, and Taehyung rolled his eyes.
Taehyung glanced at Jungkook. His hair grown out since the start of semester, a nice length on him. It had been curled a bit, and was pinned back on one side.
“You look nice too,” he said shyly.
Jungkook looked over and caught his eye. He gave him a smile. “I’ve never had my
hair so long before,” he responded, seeming self-conscious.
“It suits you,” Taehyung assured him. “I’m not sure Ive seen anyone suit it better.”
Jungkook’s cheeks went just a little red. He cleared his throat.
“So where are we going next?” He asked.
“To get dressed.”
Taehyung was more excited than usual to meet with the stylist. They would all be in black tie, as was the dress code, but going with friends was a first, and Jimin was so excited he couldn’t help but match him.
Taehyung was dressed in the plainest suit of the three.
He eyed the embossed lapels of Jungkook’s jacket, and the double breasted tuxedo Jimin had on with envy. But also admiration- they both pulled off their looks very well.
Taehyung had to laugh when Jimin stared at his ass for a whole minute before he very seriously asked the
Stylist for all the details about the pants because he’d never seen his ass look so good before.
Jungkook seemed to grow nervous when they were in the car. He kept swallowing and his fingers tapped on his thigh repeatedly.
As expected, the press was waiting for their arrival. There was a red carpet leading inside the venue. Jungkook grabbed Taehyung’s wrist after Jimin exited the car, more than happy to give Taehyung a moment alone with Jungkook.
“Taehyung - I don’t think, I shouldn’t go in.”
He looked so nervous, Taehyung put his hand over Jungkook’s on his wrist.
“It’s going to be okay,” he said as reassuringly as possible.
Jungkook opened his mouth again, but then closed it and gave a small nod. Taehyung, in a moment of courage, reached up and cupped his cheek.
“I’m really glad you came,” he said softly.
Jungkook’s eyes were wide and before he could say anything, Taehyung got out of the car. He gave the media a small wave and a smile and waited for Jungkook. He was stiff beside him, but when Taehyung linked their arms, he didn’t
pull away. He was happy, and a little nervous to introduce Jungkook to his father, who would see exactly what Taehyung was feeling even if he didn’t say a word about it.
( if you’ve seen the movie, you know what’s coming… even if this is only loosely based on the film, it’s gonna happen )
Hanuel was waiting for them on the carpet, and Jungkook and Jimin stood with him while the media asked him a few questions, about college, and who he’d come with.
“Some friends,” he answered easily.
Hanuel led them inside, informing Taehyung that his father was 5 minutes out.
He led Jungkook and Jimin to the refreshments and asked Taehyung to accompany him to greet the governor for a moment. Jimin shooed him away, and Taehyung felt a little guilty at how tense Jungkook was. But at least he knew they understood that he had duties to attend to, and
Wasn’t leaving them alone without good reason.
His father arrived with his usual fanfare, and he greeted Taehyung first with a long, hard hug, whispering that he’d missed him.
“Miss you too, dad.” He meant it. He really had. For most of his life, it had just been him, his
Mom and his dad. A few staff members had been around so long they were like family, but Taehyung had never been closer to anyone than he has been his parents. College had shown him just how much he relied and depended on them, which he knew needed to change, but also how much
He loved them too.
“Let me introduce you to my friends.”
“Looking forward to it.”
They walked over to where Jungkook and Jimin were standing and quietly talking, and smiled at them as they looked like they’d been caught in a spotlight.
“Dad, this is Jimin, my dorm mate and best friend.”
“Hey Mr President,” Jimin greeted him, taking his hand with a grin. Taehyung could see his nerves. “Thanks for letting Taehyung come to college. He’s great. Really.”
Taehyung held back his laugh.
“I’ve heard a lot about
you, Jimin. I hear you have a promising future as a dancer.”
Jimin flushed completely red. “Oh, well, that is — I hope so!” He squeaked.
“Dad, this is Jungkook.”
Taehyung felt so nervous. His father turned to Jungkook, who was standing very tall and looking very
Flustered but determined.
“Mr. President. It’s an honour to meet you.”
“Jungkook, is it?” He glanced at Taehyung and back to Jungkook. “Good to meet you. How do you know Taehyung?”
“Oh - I-,” Jungkook seemed to stammer over his words, so Taehyung cut in.
“We have a class together,” he said. “And Jungkook became our dorm RA when Jordan left.”
“Fancy that.” His father took his arm. “Listen, Tae, I’ve got to do the rounds before the vultures descend. I’ll find you later, okay?”
“Sure, dad,” Taehyung smiled. “I’ll be here.”
“You too.” He laughed at the ca e his dad made, but he knew that he loved it too. His father was so charismatic with people, so good with them.
“Your dad is awesome,” Jimin breathed. “Right, Jungkook?”
Taehyung frowned when Jungkook seemed distracted.
“Oh, yeah.” He gave a tight smile. “He is awesome. Yeah.”
Taehyung peered at him, concerned. But before he could ask, someone came to speak with him, and he gave them an apologetic look before he was whisked away for a little while.
The night ended a few hours
later. They had to drive back to school, so the three of them left a little earlier than Taehyung’s father. They said goodbye and headed out.
“Oh, I gotta go to the bathroom,” Jimin said the second they stepped outside.
Taehyung gave him a long-suffering look.
It just hit me now. I’ll be quick.”
He rushed back inside, and Taehyung and Jungkook were alone.
“Did you have fun?” Taehyung asked. “Those things can be a bit overwhelming.”
“I don’t know how you do it,” Jungkook said, shaking his head. “I mean, you talk to so many people
About so many different topics. It’s - I admire that.”
“Oh.” Taehyung was surprised. “Thanks.”
“I mean it,” Jungkook said quietly. “You’re amazing. More than I ever imagined or thought you would be.”
Taehyung felt flushed and happy.
“I - you’re kind of amazing too,” he said, looking down.
He looked back up to see Jungkook looking at him with a pained expression.
“What is it? Are you okay?”
“Taehyung, I - there’s something I need to - "
He were cut off by a sound like a gunshot.
Taehyung turned his head to the sound, and saw a large, dark sedan speeding toward the venue. Everything happened in a rush. His agents were on him in a moment, Jungkook had hold of his arm as he was rushed away. They spoke over their radios. They ran through the venue, to the
Back entrance, where it took only moments before a black sedan pulled up. He barely had a second to breathe from the first moment. His adrenaline was high. He was put into the car and turned to see Jungkook just standing there, hand on the door.
He brought a hand up to his mouth and spoke.
“Bear cub secure.”
The words shattered the world.
Jungkook shut the door with Taehyung still staring at the window as they drove away, unable to make sense of it but completely aware of exactly what had happened.
Slowly, he fell back into his seat, and utter devastation settled into his body, hollowing out his chest, his stomach, his heart.
/bear cub secure/
His breath hitched. He was going to be sick. He’d never felt so emptied of everything before.
Jungkook was an agent.
He was an agent.
He’d been an agent all this time.
Taehyung’s arms wrapped around his body, holding on tightly to the pieces of himself that felt like they were coming apart with every second that passed.
Jungkook was an agent, and he was a fool.
“Oh god,” he breathed.
His hands were tight, gripping his chest.
He was going to be sick.
“I’m sorry,” he called out, as loudly as he could though he knew it was barely a whisper, and then he leaned over and threw up on the floor of the sedan.
Taehyung was taken to the residence his father was staying at. He was silent, except for apologising about the vomit in the car, and refused to look anyone in the eye.
He felt utterly humiliated. Everyone knew. Everyone had known. Every single person that spent their life
working for the family had to have known. The agents who protected him daily; they’d known. They’d heard him talk to Jimin about Jungkook. They’d seen them talk.
Anger, hurt, humiliation - they made his skin prickle hot and when he reached the room he’d been assigned for the
Night, he slammed the door shut with the full force of his emotions.
Oh god, he had never felt so betrayed before.
He wanted to scream.
That day they’d ‘snuck out’ - what a lie. What a show. It had all been an act, he realised. He put his fist in his mouth and bit down on his knuckles. His eyes were stinging with tears while he felt his heart breaking in his chest.
None of it was real.
It hurt so badly.
He felt suffocated by his clothing. The stupid suit, the stupid suit he hated so much. He ripped the blazer off and his tie and pulled the shirt out of his waist band.
He needed - he needed to shower. He felt dirty. Used. Stupid.
He sniffed and walked
to the phone on the bedside. It took a moment before he reached housekeeping and asked them to find him some clothes to change into. He was having a shower, he wanted them when he got out. They told him they’d have them soon. He hung up.
“Stupid,” he whispered, tears falling
down his nose. “Stupid stupid stupid.”
He was dressed and sitting on his bed, calmer but still upset, when there was a knock on his door and his father opened it.
“You knew,” he murmured, shaking his head. “You knew, and you didn’t say anything. You didn’t tell me.”
“Do you know how many
Threats I receive every single day against you? Hundreds, thousands, every single day. What am I supposed to do?”
“Talk to me!” Taehyung stood up. “Tell me things so I don’t get set up up for absolute humiliation.” Taehyung felt his tears come back up, hot and painful.
His father had no response and Taehyung scoffed lightly.
“Do you know what the worst part of it is, dad? It’s not that everyone knew except me. It’s not that I’ve been publicly humiliated. It’s that I’ve just realised how painfully fake everyone about my life is.”
“Tae — ”
He shook his head. “Please leave, dad. Because I understand, I do. I know why things are set up the way they are, and it’s so god damn disappointing that I can’t even be angry about that. But I don’t trust you right now. I don’t trust anyone, and I don’t know what to believe.
So please leave me alone so I can figure out if I can even trust myself.”
There was silence, and the his father left, and the door clicked shut.
Taehyung couldn’t stop his lips trembling violently as he couldn’t hold it back anymore. He started to cry, and then he
Collapsed on his bed, and sobbed his heart out, like a child in need of comfort that they knew couldn’t and wouldn’t come.
okay! so things will divert more from the movie plot from here, but some will be sprinkled in.
I wanted to write jks pov but I’m super into Tae’s character atm so I will continue with tae, and then when I find jks I’ll write his pov, maybe another thread
im so sad right now omg, I teared up writing these scenes. It’s 2am so I’m gonna go to sleep now, and I’ll be back with more tomorrow, hope you’re enjoying it lmk!
“No you stupid agents. Don’t talk to me right now!”
Jimin’s voice was loud in the halls of the residence, drawing Taehyung from his pitiful thoughts as he laid up in his bed.
“I will find him without your help!”
Taehyung couldn’t even manage to smile at how angry Jimin
sounded. He could imagine the look on his face, but it didn’t bring him the same sense of belonging it had before the previous night.
The door suddenly burst open, and Jimin closed it loudly and immediately kicked off his shoes, stripped off his jackets, and crawled into the
Bed beside him, hugging him tightly.
“Hi Tae,” he whispered. “Im here now.”
Taehyung’s lower lip trembled. “How’d you get here?” He asked.
“Well, my best friend forgot to call me in his distress. So I bugged Hanuel, and then your dad called me and told me to come. Which is
The only reason I’m just very angry at him, and not extremely angry.”
“You yelled at the agents,” Taehyung said softly. “They’re just doing their jobs.”
“I really don’t care. You’re crying, and that matters more than stupid agents who have to deceive to do their jobs.”
Deceive. Yes, he thought with bitter sadness. He’d been deceived.
“Do you know what you’re going to do?”
It wasn’t a question, the tone wasn’t asking.
“We are going to lay here and order breakfast in bed, and then, when we’re done eating, you’re going to shower and the
We are going shopping.”
“Shopping?” Taehyung frowned.
“Yes.” Jimin said firmly. “We are going to ignore whatever the hell your stupid stylists say about what you can and can’t wear, and buy you a whole new wardrobe that is you, that you feel good and like yourself in. And then
We are going to go back to school, we are going to keep our heads up and make the boys - bcos they’re boys not men if they’re idiots - who hurt us regret it.”
Taehyung smiled through his tears.
“You’re a good friend, Jimin.”
“I’m only following your example,” Jimin replied,
carding his fingers through Taehyung’s hair soothingly.
“So tell me how to work the phone and I’ll order some breakfast to be brought up here.”
Taehyung sighed. “We can go to the dining room.”
“Oh no. No way. You’re not ready. Stop putting others first! Be selfish here!”
Jimin exclaimed. “You’re hurting, and those agents out there might be protecting your body, but I’m protecting your heart right now, and it needs some care first. And no one /no one/ will deny you anything today, and if they do, I’ll rip them a new one, okay? I’m not scared of
A little man in a suit.”
Taehyung didn’t fight him. He was too happy that he’d found someone that cared so much, so sincerely.
Before they left, Taehyung caught sight of his father working in his office, the door open. It meant he wanted to talk, he was waiting for Taehyung. Otherwise the door would be shut.
He told Jimin he needed a moment.
He knocked on the doorframe. “Can I come in?”
“Always.” His father put the file he’d been reading aside, and removed his reading glasses, giving Taehyung Is attention.
Taehyung took a deep breath.
“What will happen to him?”
His father was silent and studied him for a moment. Then he leaned back on his chair.
“He’s a good agent,” he allowed. “He’ll be reassigned.”
Taehyung pressed his lips together. “No,” he sighed after a moment.
“No, he doesn’t have to be. He was just doing his job. It’s not his fault I misinterpreted his actions.”
His father hummed.
“If you’re sure,” he said after a moment.
Taehyung gave a nod, even if he felt uncertain. Then he straightened up.
“So are there any other undercover agents pretending to be my friend i should know about?” He asked, his hurt and anger seeping into his tone.
“Anyone else fake in my life?”
His father exhaled heavily. “There’s no one else assigned to be close to you,” he answered.
Taehyung scoffed. So there were other agents posing as students. But they wouldn’t interact or approach him. That had been Jungkook’s job. Being close.
He knew what that meant. He wasn’t stupid. Jungkook had been assigned to be close to him, to insinuate himself into Taehyung’s trusted circle, and to be the one to take the hit of it came. Which meant he probably had no family.
All the times he’d saved Taehyung, every time
Taehyung thought he was in the right place at the right time, or had shown up for him, it was all staged. He was just doing his job under the pretence of friendship.
They weren’t friends, or more.
He was just a client.
The thought caused a sharp pain in his chest.
“Tae, there are dangers you don’t - ”
“No, I do understand there are dangers,” Taehyung cut him off angrily. “I also understand that I’m not trusted to know or obey professional boundaries if I’d been told about an agent posing as a friend.”
“It’s protocol,” his father said.
“Well protocol can fuck itself,” he snapped.
Taehyung rarely cursed, so his father looked surprised.
“Protocol,” he spat, “is the reason I just lost one of the two people I counted as friends. Protocol is the reason I can’t make any other
Fucking friends because I’m suffocated by it! So you and your fucking protocol can sit with the knowledge that your son is miserable and lonely because of you.”
Taehyung turned on his heel and walked swiftly out, ignoring his father calling his name. He kept his head high and jaw clenched to hold back the threatening tears. He wouldn’t show weakness, he wouldn’t show how affected he was. He especially wouldn’t show anything to the agents
who worked with Jungkook. There was no way in hell he was going to give them all more to gossip and talk about than they already had.
So he held his chin high and kept his shoulders down. He slowed to a walk with as much an air of superiority and indifference as he could.
Jimin raised an eyebrow at him.
“Let’s go,” Taehyung said, his resolve hardened for the first time in his life. “Let’s get some new clothes,” he inhaled and exhaled, “and a new me.”
Jimin linked their arms. “All right. Let’s get to work.”
It got out quickly around the school that Jungkook was an undercover agent when he moved out of the RA’s room and was suited up along with Taehyung’s other agents. His hair was cut short and neat, and it was like looking a new person in a lot of ways. Even the way he stood
Taehyung had thought after a few days of his absence and many pep talks from Jimin, that he was prepared to see him again.
He was wrong. But lucky for him, he had years of training on how to put on a face for the public, and it was they training he dipped into.
He the first time he saw Jungkook was before his morning class. He was tired and unprepared, but at least he’d put in an effort with how he looked.
It took a moment for him to recover after he stepped out the door and saw Jungkook on duty, in his suit, with his earpiece, very
much the picture of an agent. Jungkook met his eyes, and Taehyung plastered a pleasantly polite and fake smile on his face, murmured good morning as his usually did to the agents, and then ignored his existence.
Or at least he tried too. But Jungkook was constantly in position in his eye line and it was impossible not to be aware of him. Over the course of the day, he grew frustrated, but he tried to keep it under wraps.
It was surprising when Jungkook broke protocol.
He was eating lunch alone. Which made him want to laugh or cry, because ironically, Jungkook had been the one who would join him when Jimin had class and couldn’t.
Jungkook left his position, and stepped forward to him and spoke. Taehyung stilled. He could see the way the
Other agents were either tense or looking away.
He looked at Jungkook, as blankly as he could.
“Yes?” He was proud he kept his voice from wavering.
“I’m- I wanted to thank you. I, Um, for my job.”
Taehyung hummed and forced a smile. “Sure. I mean, you didnt
Do anything wrong.” He shrugged. “You were doing exactly what you were assigned to do; act.”
“Anyway, I get it, so you don’t have to worry. And by the way, I think Taehyung is too personal to refer to me by, isn’t it? We’re not friends, after all.”
He wondered if the way Jungkook’s face fell and contorted with pain was real.
His own chest felt like it was caving in with every word. But he needed the distance. Boundaries. He needed to protect himself now. He couldn’t rely on anyone else to do it - excluding Jimin, maybe.
He stared at Jungkook for a moment before he went back to eating his food, effectively dismissing him.
Jungkook stayed there for a moment, and then with a quiet murmur of, “of course, Mr. Kim,” he stepped back to his position and didn’t speak to him again.
The changes Taehyung made didn’t go unnoticed.
The media started to pick up on his new wardrobe and in came an influx of jokes about how he must have finally discovered fashion, or how his style was worse, or better, or whatever they decided.
He started accepting invitations
to go out to parties he never had before. There was only a few weeks to Christmas vacation, and he had to study for exams, but he was also fully booked socially for the first time in his entire life.
It was like some switch happened on campus for him. He accepted invitations and people talked to him more. He didn’t go to every party; some he wasn’t allowed due to security issues, others he had to study, but it didn’t the shift in his new social life.
He even started to accept dates, on Jimin’s encouragement.
“Well. Why not?” He said one night. “You want a college experience, dating is part of that for a lot of people. You’re almost 21, it’s very normal to date. So, go on a date. Maybe make Jungkook regret being an asshole.”
(Once it is the Xmas vacation in the fic, I’ll pov switch )
(Back later tonight with more)
He went I’m on two dates before the break, and to three parties.
The first date was nice but boring and it was evident the other party only wanted to be seen out with him. The first two parties were fun. He danced with Jimin, won a few rounds of beer pong, had to drink the
King Cup which was disgusting, went drunk swimming, danced on a table as a dare, and very nearly accepted a dare to skinny dip in the fountain on campus. Jimin saved him from that one, luckily.
Taehyung was having… fun. He was being a bit reckless, but for the first time in
His life he pushed aside the guilt and need to always have good behaviour, and just… lived a bit. After all, Jungkook the one who said it was okay to be selfish?
He went around in his new wardrobe, which wasn’t all cotton button downs and sweater vests, or jeans and blazers.
He wore skinny jeans and oversized tees which he tucked in and that exposed his collarbones. Or he dressed in tight turtlenecks with a button up over the top - his own style but elevated, as Jimin said. Modern elegance, contemporary chic. Not his plain, nondescript, basics from
He had satin and silk shirts, a bright red leather jacket Jimin insisted he buy, with a black sequin shirt and black leather pants and boots to match. His jeans weren’t just straight and single colour anymore. He had a variety of skinny and slim, distressed and
He knew what he was doing was a little pathetic. He was genuinely trying to be himself more, but he was also doing anything he could to get Jungkook’s attention.
The second date was to the third party. So Taehyung wore his new outfit. Red leather jacket, leather pants
And sequinned shirt, andJimin made sure he looked great.
They walked to the party together, since Taehyung was meeting his date at the bar where the party was being held.
Jungkook and his other agents were walking with them, and his outfit was so different and eye-catching
He was starting to feel incredibly self-conscious in it.
“You look hot as fuck,” Jimin told him. Then he leaned in closer. “And trust me, Tae, he’s been staring at your ass most of the walk here. He’s noticed.”
Taehyung swallowed and kept his head high despite his nerves. “Right. I can do this.”
“Yes! Yeah, you can!”
They arrived, and Taehyung’s date was waiting outside. He wasn’t expecting the way he was greeted - an arm around his body, pulling him close, and a swift kiss near his
ear with a whisper of “you look smoking.”
His heart rate picked up, but he just smiled and chuckled a little, and pretended it wasn’t making him a bit uncomfortable how suddenly he acted familiar and intimate.
They went inside, and Taehyung looked around with wide eyes.
It was packed and he felt a bit nervous. The music was loud, and he grimaced a bit when his date tightened his grip on his waist and waved, calling out to people he knew.
He led them to an open table, apparently save by his dates friends, and Taehyung’s took a seat across from
Him. Jimin gave him a concerned look and told him he’d be close by, and he was grateful for that. This date felt off and he wasn’t sure he liked it.
But then he saw Jungkook, glaring at his date, and some small part of him light up with satisfaction. Well.
If a shitty date was what it took, to affect him, then Taehyung was going to make the most of it.
Taehyung was drunk.
He could feel himself falling into this state of sloppiness, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. His date was better the more he drank, he had more fun, he felt more free, like he could do anything.
When his date asked to dance, he agreed happily.
He stumbled slightly as he walked, and his hands caught in the bar. He eyed it for a moment before he got an idea. Somehow, he pulled himself up on it, and then he started to dance, and people began to cheer and yell for him. He didn’t care about anything and it was fun!
He frowned when he felt hands on his legs, and saw his date caressing them, rubbing up and down as close to his ass as he could reach. He kept dancing, ignoring the touch, but flinched when there was a smack to his cheek.
Before he could say anything, he gasped, wide-eyed at
the sight of Jungkook punching his date, and then yelped as he was pulled down off the bar by Jungkook, thrown over his shoulder and taken out of the bar.
“Let me down!” He shouted angry and indignant.
“Tae!” Jimin’s voice came from behind him and he raised his head from where he was hitting Jungkook’s back to see his friend. “Tae!”
“Jimin! Save me,” he giggled, “I’m being kidnapped by a pretender.”
“Jungkook let him down,” Jimin demanded.
“Thank you Jiminieeee, I love you”
Jimin sighed. “I love you too, but shut your drunk ass up. Jungkook. Put him down now.”
“He’s drunk,” Jungkook responded, walking off again. Taehyung didn’t like being over his shoulder like a sack. It hurt his stomach. “He’s a danger to himself and others.”
“Oh, that’s bullshit, you jealous asshole!” Jimin grabbed Jungkook’s arm. “Let him go. You have no right to do this! What the fuck have you done, Jungkook?”
It was funny how quickly he felt sobered up. “Let me down,” he said quietly. “Now.”
It took a moment, but Jungkook let him down, and Taehyung stepped away, his arms around his stomach. He felt drunk but aware, and that awareness was bringing a lot of shame and regret with it.
He didn’t look at Jungkook. He wanted to be as far away from him as possible.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” he said quietly.
“Let’s go home, Tae,” Jimin said, wrapping an arm around his shoulders.
Taehyung nodded and turned around, knowing the other agents would be there, and asked for the car.
It arrived moments later.
Before he got in, he looked back at Jungkook, who was staring at him with this hopeless look on his face.
He looked away, to his head agent, Seojoon, the longest serving, someone who’d watched him grow up.
“I’m sorry,” he apologised, tearily.
Seojoon shook his head. “You’re not the one who should be sorry, Taehyung.”
Taehyung looked back at Jungkook, who was staring at the ground now. His fists clenched at his sides. He didn’t look like the picture of an agent in that moment.
“Can you promise me something?” He asked.
“Please don’t judge him too harshly. It’s not all his fault.”
Seojoon didn’t give him a response, and Taehyung got in the car beside Jimin.
“I fucked up,” he whispered.
“Yeah,” Jimin replied. “You did.”
“It’s going to be bad,” he breathed.
“Hey. Don’t think about it right now,” Jimin said, firm but comforting. “You’re not in the right state. Let’s get back to the dorm, wash up, hydrate, and get into bed. We can deal with it all tomorrow, okay?”
Taehyung sniffled. “Okay.”
(back tomorrow with the last part of the fic from Tae’s pov - it’s 3:30am tomorrow will be hell)
Taehyung with a pot in his stomach - and it wasn’t from the hangover. He saw Jimin tiredly rubbing his face with both his and Taehyung’s phones beside him on his bed.
He hadn’t realised Taehyung was awake, so he watched as Jimin’s phone rang, he saw the caller and
Let out a sigh, answered with a curt good morning, and then sighed again.
“We haven’t spoken in months so don’t pretend to be all buddy-buddy with me,” he snapped grumpily. “I know why you’re calling, and the answer is; kindly, fuck yourself.”
Taehyung closed his eyes as
Guilt overwhelmed him. Jimin was suffering because of him.
Taehyung opened his eyes again, and saw Jimin looking at him.
“No, he’s not awake yet.” A pause. “No I’m not going to wake him up so you can all yell at him.” Taehyung sat up. Jimin scoffed.
“If Mr. President has a problem with me being a good friend, he can shove it up his ass.” Taehyung’s eyes widened. He held out a hand for the phone, but Jimin glared and shook his head.
“No, I won’t wake him and I don’t care who his father is! People make mistakes - oh. Good
Morning, Mr President, sir.”
Taehyung insisted on the phone but Jimin turned away, a finger up telling him to wait.
“All right then,” Jimin inhaled. “I think that Taehyung has been good all his life, pressured to behave and dress and be a certain way because of your career.
He’s not rebelling, he’s trying to figure out who he is because no one ever let him,” Jimin was ranting, and Taehyung could only stare, “not to mention that his trust has been broken, and yeah, people make dumb choices when they’re hurt, Mr. President. Maybe Taehyung’s choices
Have more severe consequences than others, but he’s — ”
Taehyung’s heart was in his throat, and he was in awe of Jimin’s boldness and sheer audacity to speak to the President of the country like that. Even grown men who worked in politics their whole lives struggled to do so.
He watched as Jimin’s face changed from frowning and righteous, so surprised, and bashful, and even shy, and he sighed. His father was a master manipulator. He could turn anyone into a puddle with a few choice words and compliments, making them forget what they’d been upset about
Which is exactly what he’d done to Jimin, who thanked him, and handed Taehyung the phone with a shamed look on his face.
“He’s good, huh,” Taehyung murmured with a little bit of amusement.
“Yeah,” Jimin nodded. “Shoot.”
Taehyung breathed in deeply and put the phone to his
“Hello?” He said timidly.
“Taehyung.” His fathers voice was heavy with disappointment. “Do you know the damage you’ve done? What were you thinking?”
“I’m sorry,” he murmured, feeling small.
“Sorry isn’t going to fix this. You know how crucial this time period is.
I understand you’re unhappy but acting out - ”
“Unhappy?” Taehyung cut him off. “I didn’t choose this life, dad. I didn’t choose to be your son, and I didn’t choose to be lied to and treated like a child, or to have everyone constantly watching and criticising me for existing.”
“No. You didn’t choose it, but it doesn’t change that it is who you are, and right now. It is the thing that needs to be the priority. You are not just a college student, you are a member of the First Family, and everything you do reflects back on your mother and I, and make no
Mistake, Taehyung - you do affect my Presidency. Your actions do have bearing on how this government can operate. Putting out your fires means taking focus from governing, and may even mean I need to compromise on an issue because your actions or words will be used against me.
That is the way it is, until my time is done, and it will not change, no matter how unhappy you may be or much you want it too.”
Taehyung felt chastised and shamed. He was made small by the hard reminder of who his father was and what he did, and just how badly he’d messed up.
“Now,” his father said with an exhale. “Your mother is on the way, and you will be returning here with her. Your college has arranged for you to take your remaining examinations tomorrow.”
“All of them?” Taehyung exclaimed. “That’s three exams!”
“I assume you have spent at
least some time studying instead of partying,” his father said sternly, and Taehyung knew he was mad. “So it shouldn’t be a problem, should it?”
“No,” Taehyung replied quietly.
“There are consequences to your actions, Taehyung. Don’t forget that. I’ll see you tomorrow night.”
The flight home was quiet. He couldn’t bring himself to speak to his mother much and he was exhausted from his crammed exams.
They were met by Hanuel for the convoy back, and he gave Taehyung a look torn between sympathy and pity and disappointment and Taehyung refused
To look at him. He was so tired. He didn’t respond, except for one one syllables, so anything he said or asked. He kept his head down as he walked, hating how exposed he felt, how judged.
Until they got into the residence and it was just the three of them, he couldn’t relax. But even then, he saw the way his father was tense.
“Please, just - please give me one night before you yell at me for being a terrible son and remind me of my duty and how much more
important it is than me.”
“Tae, honey-” his mother was upset, and Taehyung stepped back when she reached out, feeling immense guilt at the look on her face.
“I just need some space,” he said.
He glanced at his father, who had his hands in his pockets, and kept quiet.
Taking it as permission, he left them in the hallway and closed the door of his room behind me, letting out an exhale.
He went and sat on the bed and checked his phone; another message from Jimin telling him not to go on social media.
No worries there. Taehyung had no desire to read more terrible things about himself. The story of his night - the underage drinking, the bar top dance, the agent punching out his date and rumours about his relationship with his agent - it had broken during the night.
It was the biggest story of the day. He knew why his dad was upset; they were supposed to be focusing on his health care plan, but he’d been fielded questions about Taehyung instead.
He sighed and sent back a message saying he wouldn’t, and went to shower and freshen up. It was late, and he was tired and ready to sleep.
Sleep didn’t come, which worked out okay because there was a soft knock on his door. He sat up in his bed with a small frown. His father
Walked in, with a hand behind his back.
His dad pulled his arm around, and showed him what he’d been hiding; a slice of chocolate cake.
Taehyung gave him a small smile. His father looked a bit relieved and walked in, taking a seat on the bed beside him and handed over a small spoon.
“The chocolate cake agenda should be pushed more often,” Taehyung murmured, taking a bit and savouring the delicious taste.
“It would retain my make things more interesting in negotiations for sure,” his father mused.
They ate in silence for a few bites.
“When you were born” his father started, “and your mother and I knew we were going to pursue this life, we made a promise that we’d always put
our family, put you, first.”
Taehyung ate in silence, listening.
“Neither of us knew what the future would bring us. We knew what our goals were, but that’s not the same as understanding the reality of them.” He sighed. “Neither of us grew up the way you did. We come from
normal families, who weren’t in politics. I don’t know what it’s been like for you, growing up as you have. I’ve only been able to watch you as did. You’ve always been mature for your age, and maybe that’s something we’ve taken for granted - that I’ve taken for granted.”
Taehyung inhaled. “Dad, I need you to treat me like I’m an adult, not a teenager that needs to be chained to behave. I need space, and I need you to trust me to make decisions. Your staff follow your lead. They still treat me and talk to me like I’m a child, like a problem that
Needs to be observed and controlled.”
His father looked alarmed at that.
“What do you mean?”
“It’s - it’s hard to explain? I feel like I have no choices. That my opinions don’t matter. I have to dress a certain way, act a certain way, speak a certain way. If I step out
Of the box I’m being pushed into, I get scolded like I’m incapable of making decisions. I feel like I have no autonomy.”
His father frowned and pursed his lips thoughtfully.
“If that’s how you feel, I’ll look into it. Taehyung, you do know that your mother and I love you,
right? We want you to be happy, and we want you to live a fulfilling life.”
Taehyung gave him a wry smile. “I sense a but.”
“But I’m the President of our country. I’m not just your father, and your not just my son.”
Taehyung bit back the sarcastic comment about it being impossible to forget that.
“This year is an election year. If I’m going to be re-elected, we all need to be above any scrutiny. I do everything I can to keep you out of the media, but there’s only so much I can do in our
social media landscape. Your… escapades have already affected public perception, of all of us. It’s not fair, but it is the way things are.”
Taehyung felt shamed crawl up his spine.
“I - I know I messed up.”
“I know you do, and I was very angry with you.”
“Until your friend decided to lay into me.”
He groaned. “Jimin’s very honest.”
“He is.” His father laid a hand in his shoulder. “I am glad you’ve made a friend like him. It’s eased many of my worries.”
Taehyung ate another piece of cake, feeling abashed.
“What he said… I
think it goes back to what I was saying earlier. We’ve taken for granted how mature you are, and forgotten you’re still growing into yourself. But I need you to prove he’s right, that you’re not rebelling. You can find yourself in ways that don’t involve sleazes and alcohol.”
Taehyung nodded mutely. He really had been so stupid. But there was something he had to know.
“He’s going to lose his job, isn’t it?” He couldn’t look at his dad. He heard his inhale and exhale, he didn’t know what it meant. Disappointment? Pity?
“He broke a lot of rules,” he said eventually. “And while I’m not unhappy that he defend your honour, so to speak, he knows that his actions have consequences too. He has been removed from active duty, and will have to attend a hearing. I don’t know what will happen to him. It’s
Out of my hands.”
Taehyung grimaced and nodded. “It’s my fault.”
“No. His actions are not your responsibility. Now, why don’t we finish this cake, and maybe your mother will let me back into bed since we’ve spoken.”
At that, Taehyung chuckled quietly. “Let’s hope.”
The first time Jungkook saw Taehyung Kim was a passing glimpse at the White House, when he’d been on duty and Taehyung had been walking with his the First Lady through one doorway and then the other out of the space he’d been stationed.
It was his temporary post before
he was going to be sent to the college Taehyung had chosen to attend. He was one of five agent’s selected for undercover work, posing as students.
He didn’t see Taehyung in person again until their first day in class. It was precautionary, to make sure there was no recognition
from the subject.
His job was to become Taehyung’s friend. To get close, and protect him from inside his circle. He wasn’t allowed to let Taehyung know his true identity; it could compromise both of their safety.
Jungkook had agreed to the assignment eagerly. He thought it
Would be simple.
He hadn’t counted on feelings. Hadn’t counted on Taehyung being so much more than what the file on him said. He hadn’t thought his natural beauty could shine more from the beauty Jungkook discovered radiated from inside out.
He hadn’t thought it through. Hadn’t taken Seojoon seriously when he warned him not to let himself get too attached, to keep himself at length because Taehyung was an easy person to like when you got to know him.
He hadn’t counted how crushing it would be to see the complete
and utter betrayal and devastation on his face when Jungkook had put him in that car and said those three words that shattered the fantasy he’d been living in.
He had fucked up, and it was killing him.
(this pov starts after the governors ball when jks identity is discovered btw)
It had barely been two hours since he’d deposited Taehyung in the car and watched it drive away.
With Taehyung safe, the President safe, and the threat neutralised with the investigation beginning, he had been ordered to meet with Agent Park at the Presidents residence.
He was about to have his ass handed to him, he knew it. Fuck. He couldn’t calm down. He couldn’t get the look Taehyung had given him out of his head. He was going to lose his job. Fuck, he was going to be taken off his detail, maybe worse.
He has showed his ID as he entered the residence, and was met with judgement and scorn from his colleagues. He expected it, but it still sucked.
Seojoon was sitting in his office, reading a file. Jungkook assumed it was probably his.
Seojoon was a senior agent. His direct
supervisor. He dropped the file on his desk and glared at Jungkook.
“Do you understand the gravity of what you’ve done?” He asked.
“Yes, sir,” Jungkook nodded.
“No, I don’t think you do.” Seojoon shook his head. “Do you know why one of our most important rules is
not to form personal relationships with our subjects?”
“Impaired judgement, sir,” Jungkook responded.
“That’s exactly right. Your assignment was to become a friend. The rules had to bend a little for you. But you assured me you were ready for this, that you could maintain
Distance. You failed to do so. Can you tell me the other reason why we don’t form personal relationships with our subjects?”
Jungkook was at a loss.
It was so obvious, and shame and guilt curled up inside of him.
“Trust. Because if they can’t trust us, we can’t protect them to the best of our ability. Do you know what you’ve done? Broken that trust. So now what should we do to rebuild that trust he had in us?”
Jungkook had no answer.
Seojoon sighed. “The reason you were accepted into our ranks was because of your impeccable record, and because of your legacy. We believed you would follow in the footsteps of your father and grandfather, putting the nation above yourself. But I can see
Now that we put too must trust in someone green.”
Jungkook clenched his jaw.
“How many other agents with my background and training look college-aged, sir?” He asked, feeling slightly offended.
“You’re right. You were a Ranger for a good many years - but you’re not a Ranger
anymore. You’re a secret service agent, and you’re not making mistakes on foreign soil. You’re making them in front of the nation. First Family detail is an honor, a privilege, and you have spat on it by letting your personal feelings get in the way of your job.”
“What was I supposed to do? I didn’t know - ”
“Don’t bullshit me!” Snapped Seojoon. “Don’t try and act like you haven’t been flirting and encouraging Taehyung. You knew what you were doing, and your deception has all of us in the shit with the President. Do you understand me?”
Seojoon sighed heavily again and rubbed his forehead.
“Just - tell me something.”
“We’re you leading him on or was it genuine?”
“Well, considering the President wants to shit you off to fucking Siberia, you’d better give me the right answer because otherwise I can’t promise you’ll be an agent after today.”
Jungkook tensed, mildly panicked at the President hating him, and at the thought of never
seeing Taehyung again.
“Sir, you were right,” he replied after a moment. “Taehyung was… he is easy to like. I didn’t mean for this to happen, but before I knew it I was in over my head. It’s… it’s genuine, sir. My feelings… I tried to stop them, but I couldn’t. I’m sorry.”
Seojoon stared at him, and he was embarrassed and humiliated by the confession he’d made, but he knew he had to be honest now if nothing else.
“To be honest, Jeon, I think that just makes it worse,” Seojoon responded tiredly. “The second you realised, you should have removed
Yourself from your position.”
He knew that. He’d known what he should do, for months he’d known. But he’d been selfish. He hadn’t wanted to be away from Taehyung. He had been selfish enough to deny what he felt just to remain by Taehyung’s side, even if he’d tried to distance
Himself at the same time, he was always keeping a watch on him - not just for his job, but because he wanted too.
“For now, you’re suspended from active duty.”
Jungkook’s eyes widened. “Sir - ”
“No, Jeon, you have no right to complain about this. You’ll leave now.
Go back to the college, pack up your shit, and make like you were never there.”
Jungkook stood for a moment, unmoving, and all he could think was the irrational thought of ‘but who would protect him?’
“Yes, sir,” he acknowledged, and was dismissed.
Outside the office,
eyes were on the office, curious and judgmental eyes.
At 26, Jungkook wasn’t the youngest agent, nor the least experienced. But he had only been an agent for three years. His rapid rise through the ranks was due to a combination of his family legacy and his own reputation. It
had ruffled some feathers, him being assigned to the First family, even if it was only to the President’s son and not Presidential detail. But like he had said to Seojoon, they needed agents that could blend into college. He had a young looking face, and his everyday clothes
Fit right into that environment.
As a Ranger, he was familiar with covert operations and high risk situations. But infiltration, raids, and missions behind enemy lines were not the same as close contact protection detail.
The senior agents looked at him with something close to disgust. His friend and colleague, Yugyeom, was waiting for him.
“Need a ride?” he asked.
Jungkook gave a curt nod. He wanted to get out of here, had to. Taehyung was upstairs somewhere, and everything in him was
crying out to go and find him, to apologise. But he’d already done enough damage to both of them, and if he was going to keep his job he needed to follow his orders now. Even if he hated them.
Yugyeom drove quietly. They’d become fast friends, being the same age. He’d come from the FBI, and worked on threat assessment and analysis.
“Listen, I’m not supposed to tell you this,” Yugyeom started, a little hesitant.
“What is it?” Jungkook frowned.
He ran a hand through his hair. The other on the wheel.
“It’s getting serious- the threats against the bear cub.”
Jungkook stilled. “Tell me,” he demanded.
“Today wasn’t an accident. We’re not sure of their intentions - whether it was fear, or assessment of our response.”
“It’s always both,” Jungkook muttered.
Jungkook smacked his fist on the side door. “Fuck,” he cursed, frustrated at himself, at everything.
He could feel Yugyeom looking at him.
“So it’s true then?” He questioned. “You really did catch feelings?”
Jungkook poked his tongue in his cheek and didn’t answer.
Yugyeom shifted him his seat. “Well, he is beautiful. Objectively.”
“He is more than his looks,” Jungkook snapped.
“Woah, down boy,” Yugyeom chuckled. “You’ve got it bad. Huh?” There was a seriousness to his tone, and
despite the lighthearted phrasing, neither of them were laughing.
“It doesn’t matter,” Jungkook said, looking out the window. “Whatever I had, it’s gone. I have nothing.”
“You’ve got me, I’ll be your shoulder to cry on,” Yugyeom teased.
Jungkook snorted. “I’d rather die.”
They fell into silence, Jungkook deep in thought and worry.
“We’re going to catch them,” Yugyeom said. “We always do.”
Jungkook didn’t responded. He had faith in them, in their work. But the day lingered in his mind, the car coming for Taehyung, the spike of his own fear.
It had been a long time since he’d felt fear so viscerally. His training had taught him how to accept, process, and use fear instead of it being the primary emotion. Fear hampered efficient cognitive function, and in high risk, high intensity situations that could be the
Difference between life or death, of you, and the people around you.
But when Taehyung was in danger, the fear was there, clear present and centre. He had to make sure Taehyung was okay, he had to keep him safe. He’d known he liked Taehyung a lot before today. But now he knew
it ran a lot deeper than he’d thought.
Yugyeom was right. They would catch the group behind the threats against him, they always did. But when? That was the question, and just how close would they get to achieving their goal before they were caught?
Jungkook was in shock.
“You have one more chance,” Seojoon had told him over the phone less than an hour ago. “And you better not fucking blow it, Jeon, because there’s only one person you owe this chance too, and it’s not the President.”
Jungkook closed his eyes. His body swelled with gratitude, and confusion, admiration, worry, and a small amount of anger. Taehyung was too nice. He was too damned nice and self-sacrificing for his own good, that was something that he’d picked up on quickly. He always pushed
His own feelings aside for others. Always considered everyone else and everything thing else, and decided his own needs were lesser. It came from his position, Jungkook was aware of that, it was mentioned in his psychological profile. He wasn’t a pushover, he had values and
Positions he would hold strong too. But he struggled to find his own value sometimes.
It had been changing slowly, however, since Jimin had entered his life. Jimin was a good influence on Taehyung. A stronger personality, a loyal, supportive, and protective friend.
There was a lot of shit Jungkook was dealing with, and would have to deal with professionally, but Jimin’s response to him after this was a mildly frightening prospect in the back of his mind. Especially since Taehyung was the one responsible for him not being fired.
He could not fuck this up, not again. No matter what, he had to keep his head on straight, and earn back his position, his respect, and more importantly, forgiveness.
It was immediately clear that Taehyung was not going to forgive him or give him room to prove himself. He completely shut down on Jungkook, and he’d underestimated just how much it would hurt.
The fake smiles, the cutting politeness, the forced pleasantries directed at Jungkook were all a dagger in his heart. But worse was watching Taehyung smile and laugh and talk to everyone else but him, watching him flirt with other people, watching him act so differently and know
that it was entirely his fault, that he had no right to complain and no one else to blame.
He wasn’t a fool, he knew what the looks Jimin gave him meant when Taehyung flirted with someone else. Jimin was not subtle, nor trying to hide his feelings like Taehyung was. He made it
very clear that he wanted to - in his own words - stuff Jungkook in a trash bag and throw him away.
He hated how smug Jimin looked whenever Taehyung looked amazing - his wardrobe had changed, his style was evolving, and it was amazing to watch him but at the same time, torture.
Every day, he felt more and more pathetic and desperate at his small, unnoticed or unacknowledged attempts to get Taehyung’s attention. He tries to position himself where Taehyung could see him. He did things that were not strictly within his bounds; like get him a new water
Or pick up something he dropped. Taehyung barely acknowledged him beyond a polite thank you or nod. He couldn’t even bring himself to care about the disapproval from Seojoon, and the reprimands he got.
One night, Jimin stepped out of their dorm, and Jungkook was on duty. He glanced at him and assumed he’d go to the bathroom, but he stopped and leaned against the wall beside Jungkook. He swallowed nervously, but he couldn’t sense the usual hostility.
“Your job sucks.”
Jungkook didn’t respond. He looked at at David in his position the end of the hall, who looked away.
Jimin sighed. “I feel like I should have a cigarette and a fancy night gown on or something,” he said, making Jungkook look at him in confusion. “In the movies the characters
Always have something like that when they talk in the dark, a serious conversation. It sets the tone.”
Jungkook couldn’t help the twitch of his lips. Jimin had a way about him, that was for sure.
“Serious conversation?” He asked quietly.
Jimin hummed. He kicked his heel
against the wall.
“I’ve been thinking about this, and I know what Tae thinks, but I want to here it from you.”
Jungkook felt uneasy.
“And don’t fucking lie to me,” Jimin said, voice hardening quickly. “Or I swear to god, you’ll learn to fear me more than the President.”
Jungkook waited. He had a feeling Jimin probably would scare him more if he was serious about it.
“He’s not a normal guy, and the only reason you’ve met is because of that. But if he was as normal as he wishes he could be, would things be different?”
“I don’t… what if scenarios are a waste of — ”
Jimin scoffed. “I’m this close to kicking your shin so hard you won’t be able to walk for a week.”
Jungkook clenched his jaw. “My answer won’t change anything.”
“Don’t be a coward.”
“It’s all well and good to be the hero who can jump in front of a bullet and save the damsel in distress,” Jimin waved his hand dismissively. “But running away from your feelings, refusing to acknowledge them, that’s another type of cowardice.”
“You’re naive,” Jungkook replied through gritted teeth. “Fancy words from a kid with no life experience.”
Jimin laughed shortly through his nose. “Coward,” he provoked. “Answer the question. It’s not hard. You know what I’m asking.”
Annoying. Tenacious and annoying. He was irritated by Jimin now. But he knew it wouldn’t stop.
“If things were different?” Jungkook shook his head. His lips pursed and he grimaced. “If things were different…” he knew the answer. He knew exactly the answer was.
“If things were different, I’d still follow him around,” he said after a moment. “I’d spend every minute I could with him. I would choose to be with him, because I wanted to, not because I had to.”
His words lingered in the air, and after a moment, Jimin pushed off the wall.
He met his eyes.
“Good answer,” he said, with a grin.
Jungkook exhaled through his nose.
“Well, you’re probably going to really hate the next few weeks until break,” he said, amusement in his eyes. “Good night.”
Jungkook watched him go with a frown, and sighed when he was back in the room. What the hell did that mean?
Jungkook felt like he was going crazy. Watching Taehyung dress up and flirt, drink, date, party… having to be witness to this side of Taehyung, where he was the life of the party for a few moments, and the next he went quiet with a sad expression on his face. like he was unaware
he was even looking like that… it was the worst he’d ever felt. He couldn’t concentrate on his job. He found himself staring at Taehyung more than he was surveying and assessing the risks around them. His worry increased, because maybe Taehyung couldn’t see it, but he could and
so could Jimin, and Seojoon - the way he was acting wasn’t him, the way he looked like he was forcing himself to be happy.
And it was his fault. When he clocked off duty and went home, Jungkook was filled with bitterness and resentment. He drank a bit too much, he worked out
too hard to the point he had muscle aches and strains.
All he wanted to do was take Taehyung away like he had that one perfect day. When it was just the two of them - the other agents at a distance, unnoticed - when Taehyung had genuine smiles and Jungkook was caught
up in discovering him, in realising that this guy was special. Not because he was the Presidents son, but because he was Taehyung. He wanted that so badly.
But he couldn’t have it, and it was all killing him. The distance when they were so close, the silence they couldn’t stop
Hearing, the words unspoken on the tip of his tongue.
Jimin looked at him sometimes, his face asking him, begging him, to do something. But he couldn’t. It wasn’t his place. He’d already crossed that line, he’d broken Taehyung’s trust in him. He couldn’t overstep again.
Jungkook felt vicious loathing and poisonous jealousy and anger the second Taehyung’s date groped him outside the bar, not caring that Taehyung was visibly uncomfortable with the close contact. It was obvious the kind of guy he was, and as much as Jungkook knew that this was
an attempt to get back at him, it was also Taehyung just making bad choices and — he couldn’t fucking do it say anything!! The frustration was at boiling point. He was on edge, watching as Taehyung was plied with alcohol, his date leering at him.
“Jungkook - get your head in the game,” Seojoon’s voice came through his earpiece, and he clenched his jaw.
“This is illegal,” he hissed back into the mic around his wrist. “We need to stop it.”
“It is not our place. We can’t affect his personal autonomy.”
(Hi - quick reminder, all of JKs pov so far has been his side of things after he put Tae in the car at the governors ball and his identity was discovered. It is the pov of events that already happened, so this scene is the bar date from Tae’s pov, where jk punched his date)
His jaw was taut as he stood and tried to focus on his job, surveying the bar, checking in on Taehyung.
He felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up for a moment and frowned. Something in his peripheral caught his attention. He looked at the bar, where two friends sat
with half drunk beers. They were chatting. He recognised one from one of his classes. Brown hair, plaid shirt over a grey tee, a blue hat on the bar beside them.
It seemed ordinary, but the way he occasionally glanced at Taehyung, and then his friend did, didn’t sit right.
He went to speak about his observations with the others, but a commotion drew his attention and he froze when he saw Taehyung getting up on the bar.
What the fuck was he doing?!
Jungkook a emotions swelled, a tumultuous tidal wave of disbelief and anger, of worry and the need to act, to protect. It clawed at him.
Taehyung was drunk. He swayed and he smiled like he was lost in space, and it wasn’t something that made Jungkook smile. He felt sad.
Jimin was trying to get Taehyung down, but he couldn’t hear or was ignoring him.
“Do not move from your position, Jeon,” Seojoon’s voice was a hard snap in his ear, the warning and order clear.
“We have to do something!” Jungkook plead in response.
“Be advised, No interference.”
Jungkook let out a growl under his breath. He caught Jimin’s eye, who was pointing at Taehyungand shouting something to him, he couldn’t hear over the noise, but he made out the words easily enough.
He felt torn in two. The energy of the bar was loud and raucous, his own heart was hammering hard, and his mind frantic with quick analysis. What should he do? What should he do? Jimin was telling him to do something, his own body was screaming it, but his boss and training were
Telling him that he was an agent assigned to protect, a silent observer meant only to interfere when Taehyung’s life was in danger. His life wasn’t in danger, just his reputation and self respect. Fuck.
Then something happened, and Jungkook was reacting before he could think.
Hands on Taehyung’s ass. Slapping at it. Groping it, the lewd cheering, catcalls and whistles. But it was the look on Taehyung’s face that had Jungkook seeing red.
Through the drunken daze, there was discomfort. But there was a flash, just a moment, of fear.
Jungkook was moving before he realised what he was doing. Seojoon was in his ear, yelling at him to stop, but Jungkook couldn’t hear him. His eyes were on the asshole groping his Tae.
Another slap, and Jungkook’s fist was suddenly connecting with the douchbag’s face. There was a scream, and the guy was on the floor, and he barely looked at Taehyung before he grabbed his arm, pulled him down and off the bar. Everything seemed muffled in his head. The slow
Dawning realisation of what he just did was coming in and taking over his sudden burst of anger. The adrenaline was high, and so was his heart rate and so were the voices in his earpiece.
“Let me down!” Taehyung shouted, hitting him.
Jungkook could hear Jimin coming after them. His knuckles ached a bit. Fuck, he’d - fuck. He punched someone. In public. Fuck. He’d - fuck.
“— I’m being kidnapped by a pretender.”
Taehyung’s giggles were laced with pain, and Jungkook flinched at the title he’d been given. Pretender.
“Jungkook. Put him down,” Jimin said firmly.
He exhaled and closed his eyes. Fuck. He kept walking.
“He’s drunk.” He said harshly. “He’s a danger to himself and others.”
A weak justification, but it was the only one he had in the heat of the moment.
“Oh, that’s bullshit, you jealous asshole!” Jimin grabbed his arm, and he snapped his head to glare at him. Jimin didn’t back down.
“Let him go. You have no right to do this! What the fuck have you done, Jungkook?”
They stared at each other for a moment, he could see the worry in Jimin’s eyes, and swallowed. What had he done?
“Let me down,” Taehyung said quietly. “Now.”
He didn’t want to. Jungkook knew as soon as he let him go, that was it. He’d never be close to him again. Reality was rushing at him in the form of his colleagues behind them, Seojoon cursing him out in his ear.
Jungkook let him down, and Taehyung stepped away, his arms around his stomach. Protective, defensive. Jungkook felt his heart break.
/look at me/ he pleaded mentally, but Taehyung didn’t. /please/
“You shouldn’t have done that,” Taehyung said quietly.
He knows but how could he have just sat back and watched some asshole with his hands all over Taehyung’s?
“Let’s go home, Tae,” Jimin said, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and shooting Jungkook a look of pity and apology.
Taehyung nodded and turned around, and Jungkook opened his mouth but didn’t know what he could say. He closed it again and stared at Taehyung. This would be the last time. He knew it. He’d never see him again.
His heart jumped when Taehyung, who’d spoken to Seojoon briefly as the car pulled up, turned back to look at him. He had to clench his fists to stay rooted to the spot and not rush to him, to make sure he was okay. To say goodbye.
Taehyung looked away, and Jungkook let go of the breath he’d been holding in a short, quiet huff of air that was as much to hold back the sudden onslaught of unbidden tears as to try and release his tension.
Seojoon closed the door of the car, gave him a scathing look before he got in the front seat.
He was so fucked.
“Let’s go, Jeon.” Sam, another of the four agents assigned to Taehyung, put a hand on his shoulder. “It’s done now. Let’s move on.”
He let him lead him to the
second car, where they joined David. Who just looked at him and shook his head.
Jungkook clenched his jaw and looked out the window, his eyes focused for a moment on the paparazzi outside the bar, and he felt a flash of anger.
“Fuck!” He growled. “Fuck!”
His hand punched the door.
“Jeon, calm down,” Sam said firmly. He was always the calm and collected one. “There’s nothing you can do about it now.”
He heard David snicker, and glared at him.
“You got something you wanna say?”
David gave him a look. “Yeah. You never should
have come back on his detail. Now you’ve got all of us mixed up in your teenage feelings bullshit, making us all look bad and incompetent because you are.”
“Fuck you!” Jungkook snapped. “You know nothing.”
David rolled his eyes. “We all know everything. It’s our job.”
(Literally falling asleep I’m so tired - back later)
“That’s enough,” Sam cut in, his authority clear in his voice.
Jungkook tongued his cheek and glared at David, who just shook his head again and stayed silent. The rest of the trip was tense. Jungkook’s hand were clammy and his heart hammering. He knew tomorrow would come,
as much as he didn’t want it too, because he knew what it would bring: change, and turmoil. Nothing good. Not for him, not for Taehyung.
Everyone on duty was silent in their judgement of him as he was walked to Sam’s office with him. Seojoon was still on duty with Taehyung, so
He was faced with a higher level superior. A desk jockey who had no field experience, that no one really liked nor respected, and because he knew it, he was an absolute fucking prick.
“Well if it isn’t the biggest fucking disgrace to the agency,” he jeered when Jungkook walked in. “Well done Jeon, you’ve just fucked up in front of the whole country for a piece of ass you have no right too.”
Jungkook stiffened angrily. “How dare you speak about him like that!”
“I’ll speak however the fuck I want to,” Paulson snapped, “you don’t get to speak back, know your place here, Jeon.”
Jungkook’s entire body was vibrating with anger, but he kept his mouth shut.
He hated him. He hated him. He wanted to punch the smug look off his
“Now, as much as I want to fire you, that’s not protocol. You’re suspended without pay, effective immediately. You’re going to a tribunal - where they /will fire you for being an incompetent fuck up, and don’t think for one second the agency will do a thing to help you.
When the story breaks, you’re going to be slaughtered so the rest of your team won’t be. Understand?”
Jungkook spoke through gritted teeth. “Understood.”
“With respect, Agent!”
“Understood, sir,” he growled out.
“Now get the fuck out of my sight.”
Jungkook was glad to go. He slammed the door hard on his way out, and ignored Yugyeom’s call for him as her stormed away. His anger at himself, at the situation, masked the growing helplessness he felt and he was more than happy to keep feeling it rather than anything else.
Outside in the car park, Yugyeom caught up to him.
“Hey, Jungkook! What happened?”
He held back snapping at the only person who hadn’t judged him, who’d stuck by him. Then he remembered -
“Can you send me a list with photos of the people in the classes I took? I might have
Something for you to check out. Just a hunch.”
“Sure, but - what happened?” He frowned.
“Suspended, fired, I don’t know. Whatever.” Jungkook sighed. “I just gotta get out of here before I explode.”
“Stay safe, man.”
“Yeah,” he muttered. “Thanks.”
“I’ll call you later,” Yugyeom nodded.
Jungkook watched him head back inside and then turned to the guard box where they all had to hand over the keys to their personal vehicles when kept there.
The guard handed it over, and he went to the
tw // mentions of war/bombing
He didn’t drive a car. He’d done two tours on foreign lands and been in two convoys where IEDs almost killed him. He’d been lucky, others hadn’t been. So he didn’t want a car. It was too triggering for him. Work was unavoidable.
But he didn’t need it in his personal life.
He preferred the speed of the bike anyway. Always had, after Jin had taught him how to ride one during their first tour together.
He didn’t know what he was going to do now. But he knew the suspension would mean it’s take at least
a week before he’d be called in for his hearing. A week minimum.
He stared ahead at the road and made a choice. A quick stop in at the apartment, a shower, change, and he packed up a bag to go.
He sent a text off, and then he left, despite it being almost dawn and he
hadn’t slept for almost 24 hours.
The message he sent was to Jin - I’m coming home, see you tonight
Jungkook shook his head as he listened to the daytime talk show hosts poke fun at Taehyung, and show photos of the bar, making jokes about a situation they had no idea about, using wrong information about what actually happened to be funny. It was like they didn’t give a
Shit that really people were involved. He didn’t care that much about what they said about him, but he cared how they spoke about Taehyung. The way the media were so callous and cruel, like he was an object - it made Jungkook furious.
“Turn it off,” Jin said as he walked in from outside. “It just pisses you off and you’re annoying when you sulk.”
Jungkook tongued his cheek and turned it off.
“They arranged the hearing.”
“For when?” Jin asked.
“Still got a week of freedom the .”
Jungkook sort of hated the word freedom.
Freedom felt like false hope. His life was all about it; fighting for it, protecting it, having it. Freedom to choose, freedom to carry arms, freedom of speech, freedom of free press, freedom, freedom, freedom.
The only time in his life he’d ever felt free were the stolen moments with Taehyung, where everything else faded and he fell into the delusion that they were just Taehyung and Jungkook; not an agent and the First Son. But there was no freedom in reality for them.
“I guess,” he muttered in response.
He fell back into the arm chair, and Jin got a glass of water from the kitchen.
“I’m leaving in the morning. But you can stay as long as you need. Mi casa su casa.”
“Thanks.” Jungkook looked at him and then around the house. It was sparse.
There wasn’t many homey touches. Just a couple of photographs of the guys in the unit. Some with his mother and father. Like Jungkook, Jin had grown up a military brat. They hadn’t known another life, and joined up once they were 18. Unlike Jungkook who’d followed his father and
grandfathers footsteps, Jin had raised his middle finger and said fuck you to his narcissistic pilot father and joined the branch he had the least respect for, the army.
When Jungkook joined Jin’s unit, he was barely 20. Jin took him under his wing, and they became brothers.
Jin was leaving for his next deployment in the morning. He’d be gone for a while, and Jungkook probably wouldnt see him for at least a year. His life had disintegrated, but at least it gave him a chance to say goodbye. Not that he’d say that out loud, goodbye. Just see you later
and that was it.
A few hours later, they were sitting outside on a bench overlooking the view. Green as far as the eye could see. Jungkook grimaced when he thought that Taehyung would probably like it out here, or somewhere equally isolated and beautiful.
“Man, you’re gone.”
The sun was setting. The sky was orange and blue.
Jin snorted. “For the presidents kid. You’re gone. It’s all over your face.”
Jungkook looked away.
“Isn’t he like, a teenager?”
Jungkook scrunched his nose and looked at Jin in offence. “Are you serious? No. He’s
21.” Jungkook looked down at the beer in his hands. “It was his birthday on the 30th.”
“Oh, that’s why you were sulking,” Jin said. “Mmm. 21. A baby.”
“It’s not his fault you’re an old man,” Jungkook retorted.
“I’m 31, I’m not old,” Jin shot back.
“Makes you the sleazy uncle,” Jin grinned and Jungkook scoffed. “This is gross. Let’s stop,” Jin shook his head.
“You started it,” Jungkook muttered.
“I did not. You call me old.”
“You are old.”
“I’ve known you for almost seven years and absolutely nothing has changed.”
“It definitely has,” Jungkook replied.
“Yeah - you fell in love.”
Jungkook immediately heated up in denial and embarrassment. “I did not. I’m not in love. I’m just - "
“Right. You’re just in denial.” Jin scoffed. “What else have you got to lose, JK? Unless the President
Pulls some strings - which he will not - you’re out of a job. The hearing is a formality, and you know it. So you may as well own it. Love, as sappy as it is, is the only thing that explains how and why you lost your damn head because no one who knows you can believe it.”
Jungkook remained silent at that. He’d had messages from friends repeating the sentiment.
“So? What are you going to do?” Jin asked again. “Give up?”
“Give up?” Jungkook frowned. “There’s nothing to give up. I already ruined everything.”
Jin scoffed. “How lame.”
“You can say whatever you want from here,” Jungkook muttered. “You didn’t see his face.”
It would haunt him forever, that look of betrayal.
Jin hummed. “Well, hope it works out I guess.”
“Any word from Yugyeom?”
Jungkook sighed. “He’s going deep as a favour, but
they don’t think it’s anything.” He pursed his lips. “I don’t know. I just - maybe it was the rush of the night.”
Seokjin snorted. “Are you seriously doubting your instincts? JK, you have trusted your gut for years. Don’t stop now.”
“Right,” he murmured. “Yeah.” He recalled the way those two at the bar had made him feel, the warnings his body had flagged. He was trained to recognise danger. “You’re right.”
Jungkook rolled his eyes.
“You’re five years older than me but I swear to god you’re a child.”
Jin laughed loudly. “Gotta keep you on your toes, JK. Someone has to have some fun around here.”
Jungkook grinned and drank some more of his beer. Twilight made the world purple. He liked it.
His smile fell away at knowing Taehyung would like it too. He’d probably spiel off some trivia about twilight, the science of the time of day. Some little interesting tidbit, a conversational topic and social technique he’d picked up over the years. Taehyung was smart and he
Knew a lot of interesting things.
Jungkook took another sip of his beer. Jin was right. He was out of a job. He’d never get close to Taehyung again. He’d never be allowed, unless Taehyung initiated and arranged it, and Jungkook highly doubted that would ever happen.
He needed to move on.
But he couldn’t. Not until Yugyeom got back to him, not until the threats against Taehyung were removed. His stomach churned because Taehyung had complained about how hard it was in college with so many agents on his security detail, and that his dad had
refused to lessen them. But Jungkook couldn’t tell him why. He couldn’t tel him that yeah, there were a lot of threats that were ultimately just words. Nothing would ever come of them.
But then there were very real threats.
Very dangerous ones.
He president had ordered that Taehyung be kept in the dark about how serious it was. The group targeting him were dangerous. They were professional. They were hard to catch and they were closing in.
Jungkook grit his teeth and gripped the bottle. He hated that he wasn’t there
Anymore. Not by Taehyung’s side, not protecting him. He’d never forgive himself if something happened now, when him not being there was his own fault.
Yugyeom called while he was on his way to the hearing. He’d stopped in for coffee at a cafe, just another man in a suit in Washington. He figured it was a call for good luck.
“Hey ,” he answered. “Calling to — ”
“I’m not supposed to be calling you, so I need you to
stay calm and listen.”
The way that the world plummeted at Yugyeom’s words almost had Jungkook stumble. He stood outside the coffee shop, silent because he couldn’t open his mouth.
“At 08:43 we received another threat against the First Son. The threat outlined more demands
regarding border control and immigration, the usual things. At 09:12 Taehyung was on route to college when the convoy was attacked by armed assailants.”
Jungkook stopped breathing.
“Two agents were killed, one injured, and the other is MIA, presumed captured and taken
with - ”
“No,” Jungkook whispered.
“Along with the First Son. Satellite imaging shows them being driven in trucks toward the border, but we lost them after a tunnel — ”
“You lost them?” Jungkook all but screamed. “Where is he?”
“It’s fucking noon, Yugyeom! Where is he?”
Yugyeom didn’t respond for a moment.
“We don’t know.”
Jungkook hung up. He threw the take away coffee he was holding in the trash, walked swiftly to his bike, and turned on the ignition.
His body shut down all reactions to focus.
He didn’t care about the hearing, and he didn’t care about his job.
Right now, all he cared about was the fact that Taehyung had been kidnapped, he’d been gone for hours, and who knows what was happening to him.
Jungkook was going to get him back. Somehow. He’d get him back.
Taehyung had grown up under the microscope. As the only child of a career politician, he’d been trained to be in front of the media since he could speak. It was all he knew. It wasn’t all bad. He loved his parents, he’d met some amazing people, he’d travelled and experienced so
new tags and warnings from here:
• guns, violence, kidnapping, blood, physical abuse, some torture elements (it’s not as bad as it sounds but it’s still not good)
• jk is about to get all Jack Reacher up in here, and we’ll see the depth of Taehyung’s strength
It was night.
Taehyung only knew a few things: he was hungry, thirsty, he needed the toilet badly, and it was nighttime.
He’d been gone at least half a day, and he didn’t know what was going on or the reason why he’d been kidnapped, but he knew his dad would be going crazy.
He was scared, and he was hurt.
His wondered if his cheek had been broken with how hard he’d been hit. It hurt to even twitch a muscle, and his eye was swelling. His lip was definitely cut and bleeding a little still.
The pain made it easier to focus and not freak out though.
I not freak out more than he already had, at least. His panic was a background buzz, a leashed animal for the moment. He had undergone some training for these situations, but nothing too in depth. He regretted not doing more, maybe he’d feel less terrified.
Hours passed. He grew tired, but the light in his little chamber was kept on. He wasn’t tied up, but the room was small. Tiny. He couldn’t extend his arms straight in either direction. He had barely a few inches above his head to stand. There was a tiny window at the top of the
wall, and the light was insanely bright and warm.
It was a form of torture, he knew. The discomfort that would only get worse until he had no choice but to relieve himself. the way they kept him awake with the bright, loudly humming light. His hunger. His pain from the beating
- they were waiting for him to break.
He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. He had to stay strong. He wasn’t weak, he wasn’t - he had to forget any shame and just pee because his bladder was going to explode. He closed his eyes and rocked on his heels. The enclosed room would stink after.
But he was scared the second he let his guard down to go, his captors would return. He was sure they were just waiting for him to give in.
His lips trembled a little. He had to stay strong. He would get through this until they came for him.
He was right. They came back just as his body was unable to stay awake, dropping off to sleep, uncomfortable in every painful sense of the word. It was more humiliating than he imagined to piss his pants in front of a group of men who wanted to hurt him, to see and make him feel
That way. He tried not to show any weakness, but he knew his eyes were wet with the sting of humiliation.
It was the worst luck that he had worn tan pants that morning. There was no hiding the large, acrid wet patch.
They were some kind of militia. All white men, which was
hardly a surprise. They were rough with him. Grabbing his forearms in bruising grips, almost dislocating his shoulder with hard hard they pushed and jerked him around. He was led through some kind of compound, and they laughed and jeered at his wet stain.
He kept his chin up as
much as he could. He was pushed roughly into a room with a chair and a video camera. He let out a shaky breath and wondered what they’d do to him on camera. It was a tragedy he prayed it was just a beating and not something worse. The lesser of the potential evils.
Taehyung steeled himself. He would not fold and bend to their whims and tortures. He knew it was easy to say that before the pain began, that thinking you’re strong enough and actually being strong enough we’re two very different things. He could take a hit or two, he could hold
His head up high through humiliation and vitriol. But this wasn’t the world outside, where he could hide away and recover, take a break.
He didn’t know when they’d find him. If they’d find him. How long would he have to endure? How long could he endure? Was his strength deep
Enough to withstand whatever they had planned for him?
He didn’t know. He knew he had to stay alive. He knew that he probably wouldn’t be killed because of who he was - he was valuable.
But dying literally and metaphorically were two different things too.
He was forced in front of the camera, and slapped around and spat on, until the leader called for enough. His face was bruised and swollen. His lip was cut and bleeding, his body pain. He was pretty sure they broke a rib. He hated that he had cried out in pain, but
He didn’t beg them to stop. He cried but he took it, which made it worse, but he held onto that pride while they forced him into the rickety chair. He whimpered in pain as they tied him to it, arms behind him, a rope harsh and tight across his chest, and his ankles tied to
the chair legs.
He glared through wet eyes, face strained from pain, at the leader. He read the ridiculous manifesto they ordered him to and then spat blood and saliva at them.
At least, he thought when he was back in his cell, at least his father would know he was fighting.
He didn’t know how much time passed. Days, hours, minutes. He was given food and water, but not medical assistance or a change of clothed. He stayed in his soiled pants, the torn, dirtied, and bloodied outfit. He has bruises all over his body. His ribs were definitely broken.
He guessed that it had been five days, since five times he was taken to that room, beaten on camera, forced to read something. His body and mind were revolting and fighting against returning to the recording room, and it took almost everything he had not to give in to the
Urge to scream and try to flee, or to break down into a mess.
He didn’t even care the words they forced him to stay, all he could focus on was keeping tight hold of that they string of sanity and strength. The still unbroken part of him that demanded he keep strong.
In the quiet moments, Taehyung thought of Jungkook.
He wondered if somewhere out there, Jungkook knew he was missing. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. They might have tried to keep it quiet, out of the press. Jungkook had been basically out of a job when he’d been taken. So it
Was reasonable if he didn’t know.
He held onto the memories they had, ones that kept him warm when he felt cold, that kept his mind from spiralling into bad thoughts. They conversations, the way Jungkook had made him feel.
He wondered if it really had been all a lie.
He wished he’d known before this. Before he overheard some of his guards talking about what they were going to do with him. They were getting scared, they’d been holding him too long. They were thinking of disposing of him.
His mind began to fray a little.
He wished … he wished a lot of things in his life. But now that the end was drawing so close, there was just one thing he found himself wishing for.
Taehyung just wished he knew if Jungkook had really loved him or not. It would’ve been nice to know before he died.
Jungkook has been in war zones. He’s been a part of covert operations, dark ops, with high-priority targets. He’s had orders that had his unit operate illegally on foreign soil. He is an elite.
Taehyung been kidnapped - the emotional high of distress it brought him - forced
Him to go back to those days, narrowed focus on one thing: the mission.
Now, he only had one singular focus.
Get Taehyung back.
Yugyeom kept him updated. He was going against protocol, and Jungkook was grateful for it. He sent through the information when he could, and it had Jungkook stressed.
He couldn’t do it by himself. He needed help. He needed a team. Lucky he knew a few people.
When he was serving, Jungkook knew he wasn’t in it for life, like Seokjin. He had his goals, his dream to join the secret service. He couldn’t deny, however, that he missed the team. Being a part of it; it was dangerous and shit, but the missions gave him purpose and the team
gave him a family, eyes in his back. The secret service wasn’t like that, which he hated. There wasn’t the same sense of loyalty and absolute grit to survive. It was a polished unit that had to face the cameras, not get lost in ops at night, in raids dressed in camouflage, or
undercover intel gathering for high vis targets.
So there was no one he would trust more than a team guy, and there was only one option for him for the guy who’d be in his ear, with eyes on everything.
Hoseok had been out for a while, but Jungkook knew he was working
private ops. Anyone with his skill set was in high demand.
He called him Barry eight hours after the call from Yugyeom the first day.
Jungkook had his sniper.
That night, Hoseok met him at an old site they’d do training in but one that had been shut down after the rental agreement ran out and newer facilities were made available - an abandoned warehouse by the docks - it was barebones but it had space and privacy.
after midnight and told him about the group that had taken him, and sent a video as proof.
He refused to send it, and Jungkook hated that he knew fucking why but he needed to see it, so he could make his own determinations about the mission.
Hoseok kept a hand on his shoulder while they watched Taehyung be beaten in front of the camera, pained but barely making a sound.
Fury and fear run through Jungkook’s veins. His fists were clenched.
Hoseok was calmer. “I’ve seen a lot of men with more training, experience
and exposure to this shit than him. He’s strong, Jungkook.”
“I know that,” he muttered, jaw clenched. “But you know as well as I do, people subjected to this shit are never the same again.”
Two more days past excruciatingly slowly, two more videos, two more reasons for Jungkook to put down every single one of the group that had taken Taehyung.
The story broke the third day, just as Jungkook and Hoseok were stocking up on ammo and supplies. Yugyeom had sent the
Confirmation of the location. They had to move fast before the secret service got there. Their third team member - friend of Hoseok’s who was always done for a good time - Jay, would meet them at the last concealment point on the ground a few miles out.
Jungkook watched the coverage for a moment before he cursed and stormed out of the store. Someone had leaked it, stupid fuckers. His phone rang.
He pursed his lips, debating.
Hoseok came out a few minutes later with their bags of stuff.
“Let’s get your body back.”
“I need to make a call,” he muttered. “Load up the truck.”
Hoseok nodded, and Jungkook answered the phone - jimin had called again.
“Where are you? Did you know? What the fuck - ”
“Calm down, Jimin. I’m getting him back.”
“What the hell is happening?” Jimin sounded panicked.
“Oh my god, Taehyung - is he okay? I - I - oh they fucking lied to me! They sent messages from his phone - ”
He fell quiet. Jungkook exhaled. He closed his eyes.
“Jimin. I need you to ask yourself if you’re really ready and willing to stay with him.”
“What does that mean?” He asked quietly. “Jungkook is he okay?”
The videos flashed through his mind.
“No,” he said after a moment. “No. He’s not. And he won’t be for a while, but he’ll need you, so you better get your shit together if you’re going to be there for him.”
“He’s my best friend, of course I’m going to be here.”
Good because after this, Jungkook didn’t know if he’d be there.
“You’re going to get him back?”
“Yeah.” Or die trying.
Jimin was quiet. “Be safe.”
(no more tonight bcos i had a very bad day and I need to sleep or I’ll cry again sorry it’s taken a bit for the updates! hopefully they’ll come a bit more often now. night xo allie)
Jungkook and Hoseok looked over the satellite imaging while Hoseok’s buddy drove them out. They discussed positions and the plan. This was a militia. They were well-armed, and a lot of them had some form of training. With such a high profile prisoner, theyd be on alert - but
Jungkook knew (hoped) it would be their downfall.
Stress would be running high, the longer Taehyung was with them, they’d be anticipating an attack. Not every member of the militia would be on the same page, they had to use it to their advantage. Jungkook and Jay needed to
draw as many of them out for Hoseok to put down as possible, and they had to get as much done as they could without the alarm being raised.
It was basically a suicide mission, and they all knew it, but no one said it aloud.
Jungkook and Jay made their way down to the compound. Yugyeom had sent him the intel they had - the sentry postings, the location of security cameras and other suspected surveillance areas. They’d chosen the western fence line for infiltration. The terrain made it a difficult
point of entry, but because of that there was less surveillance in the area.
The fence line backed onto a rocky outcrop, and they got to it, only to curse and have go to plan B when they saw the circular barbed wire - a new addition, apparently. They needed to find another way.
Hoseok suggested creating a diversion where they were and then just going in the front door.
Luckily for them, Jay was an explosives expert, who rigged a b*mb and radio a detonator in record time. The left it and made their way back.
Once in position, Jungkook and Jay nodded, and on Hoseok’s command, Jay detonated.
The explosion was loud and big, and the chaos began.
this is a raid/hostage situation so expect guns, blood, violence, death, injuries, violence.
They moved swift and focused, watching each others back,
[a/n: sorry, half a tweet I didn’t realise had sent!]
Jungkook had to trust that Jay was as well trained as Hoseok claimed, and as Jay himself appeared to be. With only two of them, they had to be extra vigilant. A team of five would have been better.
Hoseok shot down three
incoming targets, clearing the path for them to infiltrate through the gate.
Jungkook shot one man who appeared around the corner, and heard Jay’s rifle shoot off two rounds behind him as they ran for cover at the first building, closest to the gate. It was an outbuilding,
used for supplies, or so Yugeom’s intel said. They used the wall as cover as they ran for the main building, taking out anyone they saw enter their field of vision. They could hear the chaos of the compound. Jungkook’s heart was racing but his mind was focused. He had a mission.
They couldn’t afford to get pinned down in a shoot out. They were too outnumbered and out gunned. So they had to be quick and lethal, risk it all or die for nothing.
Jungkook and Jay breathed heavily at the corner of the building, and shared a lil to confirm they were good
Before Jungkook checked their position and the enemy positions around the corner.
“I’ve got you,” came Hoseok’s voice in their ear. “They’re panicked. Fucking morons. Bunch of amateurs.”
Jungkook frowned. Amateurs did not kidnap the president’s son under the nose of the secret service.
“Something stinks,” Jay murmured.
“They’ll be inside. These guys are just cannon fodder. They’ll have some kind of escape route inside, and you have to get to him first.”
“You ready?” Jungkook asked Jay.
Jay grinned. “Let’s light these fuckers up.”
Jungkook grinned back. He glanced around the corner, and saw the entrance to the main building, 50 metres away, no cover.
“Got us, Hoseok?”
It was fucking pandemonium. Jungkook didn’t know how he or Jay didn’t get hit in the rain of bullets. But Hoseok put down the pretend soldiers they couldn’t, and he cut through the others with a grenade, then his gun. They got inside and Hoseok told them he’d keep it clear.
It didn’t let up inside, they were forced to take cover immediately upon entry. They masked and goggled up, and threw a smoke grenade, the cover it provided made entry smoother.
The trouble was. They didn’t have a schematic of the internal structure. They had to clear it all.
But with only the two of them, judgement calls had to be made. They went deep, ignoring the front rooms. They encountered less resistance than they expected, until they made their way to the underground level.
That was when shit got heavy.
The professionals were downstairs. It was obvious immediate - just the way they moved and held their guns. Jungkook and Jay were pinned by the entrance, bullets coming at them.
“Fuck,” Jungkook cursed. He couldn’t see where Taehyung was - if he was even there. He looked at Jay,
who had a flash grenade in his hand and hoped Taehyung was somewhere else.
Jay threw it, and they used the explosive light and sound as cover to advance, taking down the first group. A bullet glanced off Jungkook’s arm.
He barely felt it, he was hyper alert and vigilant as him and Jay moved with speed and precision through the narrow halls. They came to a doorway and opened it on three. Jungkook paused when he registered the room after they cleared it.
It was where the videos were taken.
“Rooms clear, let’s move,” Jay said, voice firm and urgent. “Your boys not here. We gotta get him before they move out.”
Jungkook was going to make sure none of them got out of this place alive for what they did to Taehyung.
They moved, clearing a few rooms and taking down targets they came across - and then they smelt it, a mix of petrol and human waste.
They were set in by another group and Jungkook heard Jay groan in pain, and the hissed at the impact of a bullet lodge in his chest plate.
They managed to survive again, and then there was silence, an eerie kind of quiet.