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Cake Waltz | Park Jimin
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baker!jimin au
word count: 2.9k
genre: fluff, suggestive
bts au where Jimin is the chef of the café 'Cake Waltz' and he doesn't tell you because he likes to hear you talk about how you're in love with the chef's food and would let the chef step on you and use you as a spatula (1/7)
I never thought all it would take was one look at the love of my life to make my day better.
I never thought all it would take was a whiff of the scent overfilling my surroundings, making my skin tingle with happiness, making my heart melt.
I never thought the taste itself could drive me crazy- the taste of love.
"I think I found the love of my life," I sighed as I bit into the savoury croissant, the rich taste of butter making my eyes roll in delight. I bit back a moan but failed- this kind of goodness needed to be expressed out loud.
"Mmm, it's amazing!" I looked up from my croissant at the cup of hot chocolate just placed at my table, and looked further up at the person who had placed it there.
"It's on the house."
"Ay, Jimin," I winked at him, pushing my hair back, "You don't need to do that! Your boss would get angry!"
"You just enjoy our food so much," Jimin laughed, running a hand through his brown hair, "I had to. Hot chocolate goes well with croissants, try it."
"If you insist," I looked at him pointedly, taking a little bite of the croissant and drinking hot chocolate while it was still in my mouth, as instructed by Jimin. His eyes were expectant, and when I widened my eyes in surprise, his own filled with delight.
"Told you!" He clapped in victory.
"I blame you for not giving me this combination before when I have been a regular for months now!"
Jimin shook his head, smiling. Saying he had to get back to his customers, he took his leave. I sipped on my hot chocolate as I watched him serve the customers and interact with them.
I noticed I had been staring with a smile (probably creepy) at Jimin when he caught me, passing a smile before getting back to work. I cleared my throat, finishing my croissant, trying to stifle my smile.
It was what I liked about this café. Apart from the homey feel, the comforting warm colours that decorated the interior, giving an overall vintage vibe, the food was downright amazing. My sweet tooth never got too much of the goods here; from the chocolate glazed donuts to the croissant and cakes, everything was delicious. I could never appreciate the food enough.
And the people here- especially Jimin, who always took his time to interact with his customers and recommend them something. Since I was a regular here, usually coming after office hours, Jimin and I could interact like friends for quite a while now. He was usually busy with customers but always made time to talk to me too.
"You're leaving?" He asked as I was wearing my bag.
"Yeah, thank you for the meal," I smiled at him, dramatically bowing.
Jimin laughed, "See you tomorrow?"
"If I'm lucky- I might have to overwork tomorrow. Pray for my soul!" I waved at him as I left.
"Try to survive a day without eating from here!" Jimin laughed.
I hated work sometimes.
Even though it was what I liked- graphic designing, I sometimes hated my company. Especially my boss who had to nit-pick at everything and nag at everyone- even when things were nearly perfect.
I sometimes hated my mouth too- my big mouth that got me into trouble.
"You're sulking too much today, so I brought you chilled latte and a piece of toffee cake," Jimin said, seating himself in front of me. I had my head down, so I rubbed my eyes as I looked at the cake and then at Jimin.
"Thank you, you're the best. You and the chef who makes this."
Jimin smiled, his eyes glinting mischievously. "What happened? You've never skipped more than three days here unannounced."
"Did you miss me?" I smiled a little, not sure if it was because of the delicious toffee cake or the thought of Jimin having missed me-
"Can't say I didn't," Jimin admitted, "You get used to people when they visit every day."
"You do, don't you?" I looked at Jimin, sighing.
"So... Tell me what happened."
I sipped at my latte, "I might have told my boss that if he was going to nit-pick at every little thing, he might as well do the work himself-"
Jimin burst out laughing, applauding me.
"I'm tempted to throw this cake at you right now."
"You love food more than anything, so I know you won't waste it."
"I didn't mean it like that!" I defended myself, "I meant that he could like... give us an example, you know? Doesn't your boss ever nag at you?"
"My boss might be nicer than yours," he smirked.
"He definitely sounds sweet," I smirked back, "He's your age, right? Is he hot? Can I marry him? I want to have his kids right now, this cake is amazing."
Jimin snorted, slightly flushing, "Are you sure you're in love with the chef you've never seen... or the food?"
"Is it too bad if I love both and they come as a package?"
Jimin shook his head, laughing, "You're gonna be real shocked when you actually see the chef then."
I leaned forward, "Are you sure it's not one from the group of your friends that hang out here? Namjoon? Jin definitely seems chef material."
"It's none of them," Jimin shook his head furiously, "Anyways, you kind of did the right thing, though you could have phrased it better. What's done is done- so enjoy your food."
"Thank you for being my comfort place," I said, smiling when he blushed, "How come you always know just what food to bring to make me happy?"
"You're like an open book," he fiddled with his fingers as he said, "You really can't hide your emotions."
"That's weird," I raised an eyebrow, "I thought I was good at hiding my emotions. At least other people tell me that."
Jimin leaned forward, locking eyes with me, "Maybe I just know you too well now?"
For a second, I flushed as I scanned his face, his fingers playing with the white collar of his shirt, the mole on his collarbone peeking out and I was tempted to touch it-
"Maybe I'm too comfortable here," I didn't break eye contact with him, "Maybe I don't feel the need to hide my emotions here... at least... in front of you."
For a moment, we both stared at each other, neither of us ready to break this intimate moment.
"What are you thinking?" Jimin whispered.
"I don't know," I couldn't stop my eyes from falling on his plump lips, "I... don't know."
Jimin sighed, taking the spoon from my hand and scooping the cake, forcing me to eat the big bite he made for me.
"What was that for?!" I mumbled through my full mouth, wiping my lips.
"Can you come here tomorrow night? After the café closes?"
I frowned. "Why?"
"I'm asking you on a date," Jimin admitted, and I almost dropped my latte on my lap, "I want to surprise you with... something."
I narrowed my eyes at him. "I don't know why this sounds so suspicious, but okay. You better have something up your sleeve to make me fall for you, Park Jimin, because right now, the chef has my heart."
Jimin only smirked, and the glint in his eyes told me that he, indeed, had something up his sleeve.
I stared at my reflection outside one of the shops- I wasn't sure what was the appropriate dress code for a date- but since it was Jimin- who had seen me in my work clothes, my formal clothes and my comfy oversized hoodies, I decided I was dressed rather well- the monochrome outfit with a colourful scarf around my neck was enough.
Sighing nervously, I walked to the next building- the café. The lights were dim, the door sign said 'closed' and as I inhaled, I noticed Jimin approaching the door.
"Welcome," he greeted, and I entered with a salute, looking around.
"Are you gonna murder me here?"
"Oh please," Jimin rolled his eyes, "If I wanted to, I would have picked a better spot than my café."
"Point, but doesn't help," I pointed at the dim lights. "What are you up to?"
"Well," Jimin smiled, scanning me, "As good as you look in this outfit, we're gonna have to hide it."
I narrowed my eyes at him, "Are you gonna tell me what you are up to, or-"
Grabbing my hand, Jimin led me to the kitchen, which was well lit, and it looked like someone was about to cook seeing how the ingredients were scrambled around the counters.
"Aren't we gonna get in trouble if the chef finds out you've been doing god knows what at this hour?"
"Well," Jimin was smiling wide now, his eyes drooping, making me smile back, "Since this is my café, I shouldn't have to worry, should I?"
My smile didn't drop though my heart sank. "You're joking right?"
Jimin laughed out loud, and I huffed in disbelief, shaking my head, grabbing a rolling pin from the counter.
"Park Jimin!" I hit his arm lightly with the rolling pin, making him laugh harder, "We've been friends for almost a year and you didn't bother to tell me that you were the chef that I wanted to meet so badly?"
Jimin tried running away from me and it ended up in a chase, the both of us doubling over with laughter as I tried to catch him, the rolling pin still being waved in my hand.
"You- let me get you!" I tried to sound angry but laughed, and Jimin dodged my attack as he grabbed me from behind, his arms wrapping around my waist and one hand taking the rolling pin away.
"I wanted to surprise you... at the right time," he said, his voice a low melody in my ears as he brushed my ears with his nose, making me tickle, "This is the right time... what do you say?"
"It certainly feels right," I smiled, getting comfortable in the back hug. I was about to complain as his arms left my waist, only to find Jimin putting the apron around me and tying it behind my back. I unwrapped the scarf and put it to a side.
"Are we baking?"
"Yes," Jimin waved a hand, "Whatever you like."
"You definitely know how to woo a girl, don't you?" I bit my lip as he smirked, wearing the apron over his grey shirt.
"Do I now?"
I only shook my head and we decided that we would make cupcakes. I watched as Jimin measured the ingredients, helping out with handing him something if he needed but mostly just watching him do his thing.
"So... chef-nim," I wriggled my brows, "All those times I praised the chef must have made you happy."
"I liked the other part better," Jimin looked at me knowingly, and I flushed for the first time, realizing he was talking about all those times I might have been a little high...
"I want to have the chef's kids."
"I would gladly let the chef step on me and use me as a spatula."
"Shortbread turns me on more than my ex."
I groaned as I buried my face in my hands out of embarrassment, stifling my own smile as I heard Jimin laugh. "It was fun to hear you talk like that... I hope you don't stop."
I raised my eyebrow at the suggestive statement. "If you say so. Which one was your favourite?"
Jimin dropped the spoon in the bowl, making me jump a little as he leaned over the counter so our faces were only a few inches apart. He scanned my face lazily, taking his sweet time.
"If I have to pick one... the time you said you'd let the chef use you in the kitchen and-"
"Oh my god, stop!" I tried to hide my face because the embarrassment of it all was finally catching up but almost gasped in surprise as Jimin held both my wrists in his hands, lightly.
"Come on, don't be shy now," he wriggled his own brows.
I shook my head in amusement, finally looking at him in defeat. "Okay, mister chef. You have me now. You've had my heart from way before- even when I wasn't aware that you were the chef. And your friends! They called you Mochi and were always... waltzing here! I should have made the connection!"
Jimin laughed, "I was going to name this café 'Mochi Bakes'." He got back to mixing the flour and when I moved in front of him, putting my face in my hands as I watched him, he leaned forward again, this time rubbing a finger of flour on my nose.
"You did NOT!" I wiped my nose, glaring at him, "Is this a challenge?"
"Now let's not get messy-"
His eyes went wide in surprise as I jumped over the counter, watching him by his apron strands before he could make a run and picked a pinch of flor, rubbing it on his cheek.
"That's what you get for having the cutest cheeks ever," I poked him on his cheek, and he rubbed another finger of flour on my nose.
It was chaos then- the two of us dodging each other's attack of flour, until we were left with empty bowls and the black aprons had turned white.
"I win," I laughed, breathless, "I even got some on your hair."
"Not yet," he put the bowl on the counter, grabbing my face in his hands and rubbing his face all over my hair, making me punch his chest, failing to push him back because I was weak from all the laughing.
"That was the dirtiest move ever!" I said, breathless because he still had my face in his hands, staring at me rather intently. I took that chance to stare back at him, my eyes fluttering as I took a step, then another, cornering him.
The smirk on his face that had been growing dropped when it was too late- when I had already dunk one finger in the melted chocolate and inching my face closer to distract him, bopped his nose.
"I win."
Jimin wiped the substance on his nose, laughing when he discovered it was only chocolate, and surprising me when he put one arm around my waist, brought me closer and kissed me.
While I enjoyed the feeling of his lips on mine, he had dunked a finger in the chocolate and broke the kiss, leaving me breathless.
"Hope you liked that. I win," he said, sliding his chocolate covered finger across my lips.
"Are you sure?" I smirked and held him by his collar, bringing him down to kiss him.
Jimin's hands went in my hair, eagerly kissing me back and we both revelled in the taste of the chocolate, making the kiss sweeter. When he was done, he drew back, licking his lips.
"Now that's exactly what I had in mind when I said I wanted the chef," I breathed.
"Well," Jimin joined his forehead with mine, "Lucky for you, this chef won't let you get bored."
With that, he kissed me again, pushing me back and back until I was flat across the counter and he was on top of me. My hands roamed around his neck, his chest as he smiled through the kisses.
"Can we get back to the baking part now?" I said when my stomach growled loudly.
It took us more time than usual to make simple chocolate cupcakes, thanks to the both of us being extremely distracted. But the wait and the effort were worth it in the end.
"How come you make the most perfect things?" I asked as I nibbled at my cupcake, "I mean, I just saw you bake. Even I can bake like that. What kind of sorcery do you use that it turns out perfect every time?"
Jimin smiled, drinking his coffee, "I guess practice does make a man perfect. I was always interested in baking. I'm glad my friends and family supported me and helped me open up this café."
"I have to thank them then," I winked, "I really love how this café turned out, Jimin. I love how you interact with everyone and keep the vibe of this place, even when you're busy. You know how this is my comfort place. I can't function anymore without tasting something from here!"
Jimin flushed, clearly happy, "You pump me up way too much. It's not like I'm the best here-"
"Trust me on this," I shifted, making my posture attentive, "I've tasted a lot of bakers. A lot, okay? I've never been so obsessed with one. You think I go around in every café moaning over food and asking for the chef's number? Nah. It's only you."
Jimin leaned back in his chair, his fingers tapping delightedly on the table, "I actually thought you might have done that at least at one other place-"
"So far as sweets concern, no. One of my childhood friends owns a chicken restaurant. She's the only one I confessed my love to- confessed to the food, to be more specific."
"That's impressive. You have to take me there one day. It looks like I have competition."
I smiled, looking down at my now empty plate.
"You won the competition before it began, Park Jimin. You won my heart."
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wavyyl0sr · 6 days ago
hiii, here’s a promised request: idol!reader and idol!jungkook having a sneaky night off? reader is having a hard time bc idol life as negro, and they haven’t seen jk in a while and are missing him really badly; then he suggests they have a night out and they plan to watch the sunrise together on the hood of his car, reader doesn’t vent or anything but jjk just holds them and they have some smutty action and fall asleep together... jjk wakes up early enough to catch the first few moments of the sunrise and wakes up reader and they just have a sweet time together... just angst, smut and fluff; maybe some i love you’s.... bonus points of reader calls him ‘bun’ at one point,,, 🥺🥺(she or they pronouns, it doesn’t matter to me!)
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a/n: this is such a cute request, hope you enjoy this imagine :) p.s. here’s sum tissues, you might or might not need it... (also i didn’t think i would make it this long but here we are).
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The pace of his legs gets quicker, the fresh wind hits his tan skin while his white shoes hit the gravel becoming dirty. Doing a new music video for BTS' new song is enjoyable, especially when Jungkook has the chance to be running through the woods from Namjoon and Taehyung. The concept of the music video is Alice In Wonderland, Jungkook, and Jimin being the white rabbits, and Taehyung, Namjoon, and Hobi being Alice. Jungkook continues to run through the woods, brushing any branches that he's come in contact with.
"Cut!" The director yells, Jungkook stops running, taking a second to breathe. Resting his hands on his legs, he looks to his left, seeing Namjoon and Taehyung drinking water. A staff brings him one which he thanks her. Walking down out of the woods, Jungkook makes his way to the area where staff members made so the men can get refreshments and take small breaks.
Turning his back from a half-sleeping Jin, he looks up seeing Director Kim Woo-Hyun. "Tomorrow, Jimin and Jungkook we will pick up from where we left off. Suga, J-Hope, and RM will have their scenes directed most same with Jungkook. Please get a good night's rest as I need everyone to be here at what?" "Eight forty-five!" Everyone shouts out, Director Kim Woo-Hyun smiles nodding his head. "Everyone take care, I'll see you all tomorrow, night." Everyone bids their goodbyes while the group of men walks up to Jin and Jungkook.
Picking their belongs up, Jungkook checks his phone seeing it flooded with emails he'll probably check on Saturday. "You guys wanna go downtown and eat at our favorite restaurant or just go to our dorms and eat leftovers?" Jimin asks, crossing his fingers, everyone agrees to the first choice while Jungkook stays quiet not paying any attention to them. Feeling a nudge against his arm, he looks up seeing Namjoon give him a weary look.
"You okay?" Namjoon asks while the group starts walking to their cars. Jungkook shrugs while the two stop their tracks letting everyone walks up more. Kicking the small rocks under his left shoe, Namjoon hits him softly.
"Are you disappointed that Director Hyun yelled at you?" Jungkook shrugs, knowing that's exactly why. Looking up at Namjoon, he tears up a little, more disappointed in himself than anything. "Hyung, there's so much going on in my life. I try to catch everything on time but it's stressful. Everything with the comebacks, the touring dates, the recording songs, making the songs, dancing to them, having meetings. I know, I know. I'm used to it just like everyone else but I can't help but feel overwhelmed. Plus I've been having more nightmares recently. I'm just so exhausted." Namjoon bites the inner side of his cheek, feeling bad for his brother.
"It's okay to feel overwhelmed, I would be very shocked if you went through this not feeling a little overwhelmed. It's not easy doing what we do, but damn you do an amazing job at juggling it. Even when think otherwise, it's true. I do think you should hang out with us just for the rest of the day, you need to feel better and I think it would be good if just hang around us for a while. Even if it's just for twenty minutes." Jungkook nods at Namjoon's words, but before he can speak, Jin rolls down the windows, "If you don't get in this car, you'll have to walk fifty miles back home!" Jungkook laughs, smacking Namjoon's arm.
Namjoon shakes his head, sighing heavily. He gives Jin a thumb down signifying he needs to wait. Looking back at Jungkook, "I mean what I said, just join us for twenty minutes or less and you and I can talk about this."
Jungkook hums, pushing his hair aside with a nod. "I'll think about it, okay?" Namjoon mutters an okay, giving him a side hug. Ruffing his knuckles in his hair, Jungkook laughs when Namjoon lets go.
"Don't be afraid to ask me for anything, that's why I'm here," Namjoon says with a smile, watching Namjoon go in Yoongi's car, Jungkook unlocks his, getting in his also. Buckling up, he checks his phone going through his messages to find his missing person. Finally finding them, he types in his request quickly sending it.
pretty angel
Jeon Jungkook: Hey y/n, I was wondering if you wanted to hang out today?
pretty angel: sounds like a good idea, where would we go tonight?
Jeon Jungkook: It's a surprise, where are you so I can pick you up, angel?
pretty angel: ouuu a surprise? i'm that special 🥺 i'm at home, i'll drop my address
Jeon Jungkook: Alright, and yes you're very special :) wear comfortable clothes, bring two big blankets and a phone charger. You might need one to where we're going.
pretty angel: should i bring extra clothes jungkook?
Jeon Jungkook if you want angel, bring yourself and the requests, okay?
pretty angel: okay bun 🥺
Jungkook smiles at the nickname, never getting tired of them calling him it. Everything about Y/n was perfect to him. Driving out of the parking lot, Jungkook's phone buzzes two times. One message was from Namjoon asking if he wants dinner and Y/n sending their address to him. Turning the radio on, Jungkook rolls his windows down to feel the wind. Realizing the drive to Y/n's house would take twenty minutes, Jungkook makes a quickie to the gas station to buy any snacks Y/n and he enjoyed.
Putting a hat and sunglasses on, he gets out of his car and walking up to the building. His heart races in hopes no one would recognize him. Opening the door, he walks in, nodding at the cashier, and going down the aisles he picks up a bunch of snacks and drinks of his and Y/n's liking.
Going up to the cashier, Jungkook buys the items and quickly leaving to pick Y/n up. His heart flutters when thoughts of them pop up, some of the men would say he had a crush but no matter how much he denied it, he tends to let them in easier than the rest.
Driving through the streets, he taps his fingers against the leather wheel, checking here and there to see how far away he is from Y/n's place. He knew where he would take them, he knew there was a place where only he went to where he didn't feel like an idol but a human who could express themselves freely without cameras in their face all times.
Reaching Y/n's place, he opens his car, taking a deep breath before getting out. Checking his hair, and breath. Jungkook smiles walking up to Y/n's porch. Knocking his knuckles against the white wooden door, he waits a couple of seconds, admiring Y/n's small garden.
You walk up to your door gripping your backpack and phone. Opening the door widely, a smile plants on Jungkook's mesmerizing face. "Hi, angel!" He says proudly, Y/n's heart flutters at him. "Hi bun, I have everything you requested. I also brought extra clothes just in case of anything." You say with a pretty smile, dazzling his heart.
Jerking his head, he runs his fingers through his hair, moving to the side to let you out. Doing so, you lock your front door and giving him a small smile. A little nervous around his presence. You two walk to his car, Jungkook opens the door for you, letting you in. Closing the door for you, he goes to the driver's side and shutting the car door close. You place your backpack on the ground next to your feet, checking your hair and placing lipgloss on your lips.
Looking at him, he stares at you; obliviously. You bite on the inner side of your cheek, placing your lipgloss in your pocket and putting your seatbelt on.
"So where to?" You ask, Jungkook starts driving out of your parking lot, tapping his fingers against the wheel. "Somewhere special, special for me and you." He says, quickly looking at you with a smirk.
You never knew what that man could do to you, how his worlds made your day and his voice, damn his voice is attractive. "Jungkook?" Your voice is mellow in his ears, a song he could replay over and over and never get tired of. He hums, waiting for you to speak. "Why'd you ask me to hang out with you? Thanks for asking but you're so busy so when you asked it surprised a lot." You say truthfully, you look at his side profile, seeing how his jaw clenches and unclenches.
Looking down at your lap, you play with your nails not sure if you crossed a line on accident. "Cause I wanted to hang out with you, pretty baby." You smile, but your facial expression never fails to tell him what he says sounds like utter bullshit to you.
"Jungkook that's adorable but it sounds like a lie. What really happened?" You question, resting your hand on his thigh and shaking it. He stifles a laugh, sighing. "Work has been stressful, of course, you understand the feeling. I just needed time away from everyone and I do miss you, Y/n. I missed just being around you whether you producing your music or just having lunch together. So I thought why not ask to hang out with you. Plus I know juggling your career is making you go crazy, yes?" You nod, biting your lip.
"I'm sorry, Jungkook. I wish I could do something to fix your stress." You mutter out, his brows furrow, "baby you just being around me, speaking to me is more than enough to make me smile. Please remember that."
You smile widely, glancing at Jungkook for as long as you could, appreciating his presence. His cologne waft around the car with yours mixing into a pleasant odor. The car becomes quiet, which lets you take the time to stare out the window seeing city lights and different cars pass by your eyes rapidly. Taking the time to admire the sky, the light baby blue colors become a different mixture, turning orange a bit with the clouds covering the blazing sun. Becoming focused on nature's beauty, you softly hum to the beat of whatever song that played smoothly through the radio.
Jungkook's heart moves hastily, feeling anxious but calm. He wanted to feel relaxed, which he did but every time he glanced back at you, you seemed to notice and give him a warming smile. His eyes would flicker to your lips and back to the road every chance he got. If it was possible, Jungkook would press his lips against yours and pray for the best.
Your eyes peer back to Jungkook wondering if you wanted to stir a conversation with him or keep the quiet going. Did you enjoy speaking to Jungkook? More than you probably should, but you also loved quiet more than Jungkook.
Jungkook opens his lips, without realizing he's speaking. "How has this month been treating you?" He turns to you, when the car stops at a red light, you shrug too tired to explain how much pain you've been going through and this is the only time you haven't cried from all day.
"It's been alright, boring but alright." You say, mentally begging for him to not ask more questions about how work is treating you. Thinking he heard your begging, he doesn't say anything but lays his hand on your thigh. You jump a little, not excepting him to do that. Looking at him, you smile, picking his hand you wrap yours around his resting your head on the window letting rest take over your body.
Jungkook's thumb circles Y/n's inner thigh the whole ride until he finally reaches his destination. Turning the car off, he unlocks the door open picking up his backpack, phone, and lays them on the top of the car.
Opening your side of the door, he stares at your sleeping body for a second before he shakes your arm to wake you. Jumping from your sleep, your brows nit together, while you itch your eyes to see clearer. Looking at your surroundings kind of, you see Jungkook with a lopsided smile.
"We're here, angel." He says weakly, you stretch your arms, picking your belongings up, and get out of the car. Taking the time to see where you are now, your eyes widen while Jungkook stands behind you, resting his chin on your shoulder. "Jungkook...this is so pretty." His heart dances to the beat of your compliment, feeling an unknown accomplishment.
The cool wind scraps between the frail cracks of the branches that attached to the old black oak trees. The smell of nature and Jungkook's cologne gave you a unique blanket of security. You stare at the bright green mountains that stood high with pretty cherry trees flourishing from it. With the birds softly chirping and squirrels picking nuts from the grass at a rapid pace. The cherry trees that were close to blooming tasty cherries created a beautiful pairing with the sky.
Feeling Jungkook's hands wrap around your waist, and press soft kisses against your shoulder you lay your right hand against the back of his head, running your fingers through his warm brown hair.
Your heart ached in slight pain, knowing this desired dream you two created could never last with everyone's eyes on you at all times. But at this moment, no one but Jungkook was focused on you. And you loved it.
His hands unwrap themselves from your body, the breeze hitting your melanin skin. Jungkook takes up his bag unzipping it as you stare up at the mountains that kissed the clouds. Jungkook takes out a big sleeping bag, tossing it on top of the car top. He then places his computer, his phone, and your stuff on the sleeping bag.
Rewrapping his arms around you, his fingers tickle your skin as beauteous laughter leave from your lips. His lips graze against your cheek, giving you sweet nothings in your ears as you feel mushy against him.
"Bun! Stoppp I-I can't stop laughing." You laugh out the sentence, stumbling over your words. He smiles, pressing more kisses against your face but missing your lips. "What's the magic word, angel?" Jungkook stops tickling you for a second as you say bird and raise your hand to the sky. Jungkook looks up as your press a kiss against his cheek almost touching his lip. Getting out of his grip, you start running around the car as he follows, yelling your name while you laugh hearing him become breathless behind you.
Once Jungkook finally reaches up to you, he tugs you down to the floor, making you hit his body before you hit the grass. His brown eyes soften deeply, for you and your pretty laughter. Silence creeps up on you two as you both admire each other's beauty. Feeling the urge to confess yourself you look to the right, making sure you don't look him in the eyes longer. Resting your head on his chest, his arms wrap around your waist, rubbing your back a bit.
"This is perfect." You mutter, he hums, letting you stand up. You help him up, brushing off anything of your body. Now seeing the car, your brows furrow in oblivious while Jungkook giggles.
"You like?" He says in a teasing tone, you chuckle not sure if your surprised but it's Jungkook, you expected some shit like this from him. Shit, when you with Jungkook you never know what can happen next...
"Jk, this is giving me a sleeping tent...without the tent. Please, I actually like it. Also ho-" before you can finish your sentence, Jungkook picks you up, placing you on the top of the car as he opens the car door picking up a big bag and closing it. Passing it to you, you open it seeing all the snacks and drinks you both like. Jungkook gets on the car (magically), with a big smile on his face.
"You never fail to surprise me, mi amor." You say, still looking at the bag, picking up the snacks and drinks you like out. "That's what I always strive for, angel." You raise a brow, looking at him. "And you always succeed, always always making me proud." His heart flutters, letting butterflies erupt from his body.
Passing the bag to him, you open his computer open, typing his password in, a little surprised you remember it in the first place. He comes closer to you, thighs touching. Going to netflix you skim through each section that was provided.
Seeing Love Jones you quickly press on it to watch. Jungkook pulls out his snacks and drinks, opening the big bag of chips to share with you. You two share the bag, pushing it to each other's side every once in a while. "What is this movie about?" He questions, eating on the chip. You slurp your drink down, taking a big sigh after.
"Watch and I'll explain later." Taking your words seriously, you two watch the movie, eight minutes deep. Closing up to being nine minutes until you paused it, smiling widely at Jungkook. Your crisscrossed, body fully facing him now.
"Now. Can you spit game like dat? Or nah?" Bitting on his chip, he nods running his fingers through his hair. "You can't, I don't believe it." You say laughing your ass off to the thought of Jungkook trying to get someone's number and stumbling his words up or dropping something because they're so pretty. "Oh believe it, pretty girl, I can spit game. You just don't realize I am." You scoff, passing the bag of chips back to him rolling your eyes playfully.
"Bun, we've been friends for what? Two years now? Not once have I seen you try spitting some poems like that to some fine thang. Plus you have money so it would just help a lil. And one thing a bitch loves doing is finessing the system as much as they can." You continuously laugh, while Jungkook rolls his eyes and scoffs.
"You're an oblivious person, Y/n. Truly." You shrug, "then say something to me, something that would make me want you." You lean closer to him, lips ghosting over his. Your eyes flicker down to his lips, laying your hand on his thigh. His face becomes flush at the immediacy and your new boldness. "Say whatever you want, Jungkook. But I know you, I know you can't. You're pathetic that way." He scoffs, still having that evident blush on his tan skin.
"You know me?" You hum to his question. You knew exactly where this conversation would lead to. All he needed to do is just accept the challenge.
His thumb rests on your bottom lip, caressing it slowly. His eyes stay on you, flaring something up in him. He pulls your bottom lip up, dragging his thumb down your chin, to the nape of your neck, against your collarbone.
"Baby, you pull me in with your lips, tugging me in a midnight high. No one's watching, angel. Just you and me. Don't go shy on me now, you know you wanted me. Taunting me in explicit thoughts that leave me breathless during the night. Say, baby, is this what you asked for? With pleading eyes, begging to penetrate me during the dusk? You should know, I like it when you're rough. Say, baby, is your name Aphrodite? Picking cherry seeds of trees that bloom ecstasy you beg for. Or is your name Athena? Blooming that same tree of cherries that hit high of the clouds, clouds of my sexual healing. Hm, bet your name is angel. I got a liking to it, you pull strings of my harp, baby. And well, your the base of my music. Moaning high against my clouds, letting lightning struck down to the grounds of any cherry seeds that fall during the process of our, our love. Say, baby, is this what you wanted?" Jungkook finishes his piece, his hand now dragging away from your heated body.
You stared at the man in shock, lips open slightly with a mind blank. Jungkook smirks, now pressing play on the movie. You close the computer, now making him give his attention to you.
"Where the fuck did you learn that from?" He laughs, tapping your cheek with his finger. "I told you, I can spit game. You just don't realize I am. But did I make it clear for you baby?" You nod intensively, still seeing that smirk on his face. "Fuck, Jungkook if I- why haven't I notice?" He shrugs, playing with the rings on his fingers.
"You underestimated how good I am. Now I need that perception of me you have in your mind changed." Resting his hand on your shoulder, Jungkook pushes you down, pulling your hands up and gripping your wrist with both of his left hand.
You whimper, feeling his knee nudge against your legs. You look at him innocently, tugging on your bottom lip with your teeth. His breathing is steady, hands also steady. Pushing your head up, you feel his grip loosen, now having the chance to pull him closer.
Lips connecting, your heart jumps, begging for him to do something, anything. Jungkook snakes his hand up your chin, caressing his thumb on your cheek. Moving his lips, his tongue pressed down on your bottom lip, you open your lips a bit letting his tongue swirl against yours. His hands hike your shirt up a bit, fingers continue to drag your shirt up. Jungkook lips press soft, quick kisses on your cheek.
You stare at the man with vulnerability mixed with lust, letting go of the worries that clouded your mind, you let Jungkook pull your shirt off only leaving you in your bra and sweatpants. The cheeky smirk that appears on his face makes you silently scoff.
Jungkook moves his hands in-between your legs, slightly pushing them away from each other. The only barrier that seemed to leave Jungkook and you unpleased was your clothes. The man you once believed that wanted nothing to do with you was now taking your clothes off to show you how much he wants you and you only.
He was right, you were oblivious.
Fingers slowly making their way downwards, he unties the strings of your sweatpants pulling the waistband down with your undergarment. He looks back at you, eyes with a known question. You nod giving him your full permission, Jungkook slips a finger between your folds, moving it around in a circular motion. You sigh out of pleasure, suddenly he slides his index finger against your entrance, teasing you a little to watch you squirm. Giving you no warnings, he slips his index finger in you, continuing the circular motion against your clit. You bite your bottom lip, turning your hand in a fist. Slipping another finger in you, he watches your body tense, then slowly rides his fingers against the euphoric rhythm he's leading.
The pace was slow, but at the moment that's exactly what you needed. Adding his thumb against your clit, Jungkook slides his middle and index finger in you, imagining himself fucking you senselessly. Your wet around his fingers, making it easier for him to pick the pace up. You open your lips, soft whimpers leaving with grips against the blankets tighten. Jungkook curls his fingers, purposely hitting your g-spot. Each moan that left your pretty lips, made Jungkook's ego boost.
You gasp loudly when his fingers abruptly pull out only to rush themselves in you. "Fuck. Do it again." Jungkook smirks, licking his lips as he does what you ask. You moan much louder, begging him to fuck you. Moving his left hand up, you place it on your breast, squeezing the fabric and his hand against it, you whimper.
"Hmm, you like when I fuck this pretty pussy? You want more?" You nod, incoherent words sputter from your lips. "Say what you want baby, tell me what you want." His tone deepens with each thrust against your pulsating cunt. "Please go faster." Moving at your desired pace, your moans get louder with each thrust, Jungkook stared at your face the whole time, watching how quick worry and oblivion disappeared with only lust and pleasure to appear.
Feeling yourself getting close you whimper, begging him to continue. "Cum all over, baby. All over my fingers." He groans, you listen only focusing on his grunts. Each praise that left his mouth begged you to cum all over his fingers.
Feeling your body getting weak, you feel your cum ooze out on his fingers and a bit on the blanket. His eyes darken at the pretty sight, you breathe heavily, still gripping on the blanket for support while your legs laid wide for his pleasure. Cum oozing from your cunt still, Jungkook pulls his fingers out from you, catching the soft whimper that came with it.
Licking his fingers, Jungkook goes back down, licking you up. You moan once again, your cunt pulsates against his tongue. Your eyes flutter open, blinking a couple of times as you stare at the sky.
You smile to yourself, feeling a rush of happiness pull you into wonderland again. Jungkook smiles at your clueless state, taken napkins to clean you. Pulling your clothes back up, you push yourself up with your forearm, looking at the man.
"Do you underestimate me now, Y/n?"
You hear the cheeky tone under the question, scoffing you pull him closer to lay on his chest. "No, Jungkook, I don't." You smile at him, he smirks. Pulling another blanket on you two, Jungkook grips you tightly planting a kiss on your forehead.
"Jungkook?" He hums, twirling his fingers with yours. "What comes next after this? Is this a one-time thing?" Jungkook glances at you, heart dancing in the clouds. "We can continue this, this can be our little hideout. And what comes next? You become my girlfriend. That's what comes next." You smile, liking the idea for a second. Jungkook catches the frown cast on your face, "Hey, hey, why the sad face?" You shrug, sighing heavily.
"Jungkook as much as I love that idea, there's no way in hell that could work. I have a dating ban and well no offense but your fans scare the living shit out of me. What if someone finds out?" He realizes the shortcomings now, but still somehow managed to have that pretty smile dazing you. He laughs a little realizing you called his fans batshit crazy (come on we all know it's true).
"The dating ban is iffy, but if and when my fans find out and they aren't happy that just sounds like a personal problem to me. They're my happiness but so are you, and if they can't live with the idea that someone other than the boys and them make me happy then they will have to live with that fact until I die. I didn't do this to make you feel worried, I did it to remind you how much you make me safe." You smile, pulling his face closer to you, locking your lips with his. Jungkook rests his hand over your head sharing the same romantic smile with you.
"I love you for many reasons, Y/n. Don't you ever let your fear cloud my words." The stars' light hits your skin as you two share a promising kiss. "I love you too. I really mean it, Jungkook." You feel his head rest on your chest, as his lips press kisses all over your clothed body.
Feeling the sleep you've been running away from catching up to you, you let your eyes close, letting Jungkooks hums and kisses take you to sleep.
The sky slowly makes way for the opulent sun, with each rays hitting every green mountain and oak trees. The birds awake to make chirping sounds while squirrels rustle through trees and grass to find their hidden treasure. The moon sees the colorful beaut, making its leave slowly. The moon turns into different cuts of circles to the naked eye. The white clouds that became unseen from the moon and stars become more apparent with the sun's help. The quiet stillness of each movement from nature made Jungkook's body push away from you, but still keeping his arm around your body.
Feeling the sun's rays hit his tan skin, he awakes, slowly. Itching his eyes, he looks up at the sky, seeing the moon and sun having a small dance while the clouds become the audience that is indulged by the beauty.
Looking down at your sleeping body, a smile twitches against his skin. Though he wanted to let you sleep he also wanted to wake you. Shaking you softly, you groan, turning away from him. He stifles a laugh, shaking you a little harder.
You wake up, itching your eyes too. Yawing a lot, you sleepy look at Jungkook. "Hm? What happened?" Tiredness was still rich in your voice. He points his finger up at the sky, eyes now widen at the pretty scene, you lay your weight on Jungkook's shoulder, happy he woke you.
Intertwining your fingers with his, the two of you stare at the sky, breathing in natures' love. Feeling kisses against your cheek and forehead, you nuzzle your head against his chest. Jungkook felt a type of escape he’s never felt.
You were the escape.
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wavyyl0sr · 12 days ago
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pairing: nonidol!taehyung x black non-binary!reader
genre: established relationship, drabble
warnings: heartbreak, brief talk about death in the family (summary), brief talks about rehab and alcohol abuse.
summary: it’s been six years since you and taehyung have been the picture-perfect couple. friends and family always praise how healthy the relationship is. that was until two years ago, your mom had passed away from a heart attack. now isolating yourself frequently, taehyung has seen less of you and you seem to not care. you acknowledge the fact that the relationship is going nowhere but the drain. You also realize you need to focus on your path of life before it’s too late.
a/n: thinking of doing a pt. 2 with more description, (this idea came out of nowhere, took me ten minutes to make).
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Tossing your bag on the couch, you sigh walking to your shared room. You’ve been having withdrawals, trying your best to stay away from alcohol knowing if you went back you would just be placed in rehab relearning the steps you already know. Opening the door, you see your boyfriend already focused on whatever foolishness he’s doing.
Smiling and cursing loudly. Walking past him, you press a soft kiss against his cheek, then walking into the bathroom. Closing the door behind you, you walk to the hidden door next to the sink.
Pulling it slightly open, you pull your luggage and two envelopes of money that would last you for three years or more if you used it just how you planned. Opening one of the envelopes, you pull a train ticket out, placing it in your pocket before reopening your luggage and stuffing the envelopes in there.
Looking in the mirror, you fix your scarf on your braids. Turning the water on, you splash water on your face, dapping the water off with a paper towel and turning the sink off.
Placing your left hand on the bathroom door and gripping your luggage with the right. You sigh heavily, knowing what you were getting yourself into before actually taking the steps. Turning the lights off, you open the door and closing it behind you with your luggage hitting the wooden floor.
Taehyung turns in your direction, brows furrowing in confusion. Pulling his headphones off, you continue to stare at him with pleading eyes. “Where are you going?” He mutters the room becomes a broken glass and every step you take becomes more agonizing with bleeding cuts.
“Going home.” Becoming more confused, “what are you talking about? You’re home.” You shake your head. “No, Taehyung. I’m going back to Chicago. Back home.”
“What?! Why? I mean why didn’t yo-” “Because I need to get myself together, Taehyung. I need to go back home and mend my heart and mind.” Feeling his hand touch the side of your cheek, you jump, moving your face to the side before he fully touches you.
His heart aches in shock, pulling his hand away. He sighs. “Is it something I did? What can-” “There’s nothing you can do, Taehyung.” Your heart cuts in two hearing how harsh you sound. “Well, how long are you going to stay?” You honestly didn’t know. You just knew you needed to get away.
“How long healing takes.” You mutter, walking towards your bedroom door, Taehyung follows behind like a lost puppy.
“Will you come back?” You hear the crack in his voice, knowing he’s already tearing up. Just like you. “Yes.” You don’t know if you're lying either to him or you. “Can I kiss you?” You shake your head, pulling the door open and slamming it. You were selfish for that you think to yourself but it’s better to be selfish then letting him in even more.
Opening the front door, your place your promise ring on the small table. Shutting the door close and getting in your car. You see him staring at you by your bedroom window, seeing tears fall to his chin.
You two knew you wouldn’t be coming back. There was no point in returning anyway.
Not in your eyes anymore. Even when you love him most.
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sorryimananti-romantic · 13 days ago
REIGN | Kim Taehyung
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prince!taehyung; fantasy/royalty au
word count: 7k
genre: fluff, angst, idek
summary:  bts au where Taehyung is a prince of a kingdom hiding his true identity of a faerie and you, his personal chef and childhood friend, finds out
I really don’t know what compelled me to go to the forest in the middle of the night.
More importantly, I don’t know what compelled me to follow Prince Taehyung when I should have been going to my room worrying about what I had to cook tomorrow as the Prince’s personal chef.
Telling myself it was just curiosity that led me here and not the feeling of dread with a hint of excitement, I followed the Prince out of the castle- he really knew when the guards changed the shifts and how to avoid the several eyes that should have been on him. I’d go as far to say he carved this path for me- I wasn’t caught, and that was more commendable than the fact that he wasn’t either.
I was more surprised when I found him going out of the castle through a secret tunnel (not so secret anymore) hidden behind a shed, leading directly to the thick forest. Making sure I was light on my feet and kept a good distance away from him, I treaded the path until the Prince stopped, looking around. I hid behind a tree and had to hold in my squeal of surprise when I heard a whistle-
It wasn’t a whistle. It was… a song. A call.
*insert’s DNA whistle tune*
Hearing footsteps, I dared a peek and my eyes went wide as I beheld not one but seven people-
Not people.
They were not humans.
What were 7 faeries doing in this kingdom where humans hunted faeries for sport?
And more importantly, how come the Prince- the only heir to the throne was a faerie and no one had noticed for more than two decades?
Bewitched, I watched their inhumane movements, realizing I should have guessed- but it was too far-fetched to think the heir to the crown was a fae. I watched seven beautiful faeries, translucent wings shimmering in full display as they conversed. To calm my own wild heart, I sank to the ground, wondering how the whole kingdom was unaware of this.
How had Prince Taehyung hidden his identity all these years?
I let memories flash through my mind- I’d always been in the castle ever since birth- daughter to the royal chefs, so I’d seen the Prince grow up. The king- his father- he was very much human. He had been sick for years now- a very human thing. His mother, the queen had died right after his birth-
Had she been a fae? But who had allowed this?
Had the court even known?
Several questions clouded my mind- was her identity hidden so the King’s only heir could deceive everyone as a human and rule one day?
I scoffed- everyone always thought the Prince had ‘otherworldly’ beauty. No wonder.
I dared another peek, trying to remain as quiet as possible. The seven were sitting around fire now, and it looked like they were having fun- they were laughing loudly over something.
I seized that chance to get the hell away- I didn’t want to freeze in this chilly night in nothing but my usual uniform of a dress and a cloak. Pursing my lips and inhaling once, I got up, afraid of my bones cracking, but sighed in relief when they didn’t.
One step, two step, three-
Shit! I gasped as I felt sharp pain on my feet- a thorn. I had stepped on a thorn, and I had been too loud-
“What do we have here?”
I turned my head a bit too quickly, my eyes going wide and my heart stopping as I beheld the seven faeries in front of me- including the Prince. My mouth opened as if to justify my presence, but they still had their wings out.
It was no use.
“Don’t kill me?” I was still frozen in my spot, and one of them with blonde hair snickered.
“What are you doing here?” Prince Taehyung asked, his eyes fierce.
“I’m sorry, but,” I shifted, straightening- I had no reason to show them that I was afraid, “You’re not in the place to ask me, Prince.”
He raised his brow, “What are you gonna do? Tell the world?”
“No one is going to believe you, girl,” Another faerie with a deep voice said, “Erase her memories, Taehyung.”
The world blackened in front of me for a good second because of the fear, and without thinking, I made a run for it. I heard the shouts but ignored them- they had wings- they could catch up any second, I didn’t have time to spare-
I screamed as one of them came right in front of me and I turned, treading deeper into the forest, ignoring the warnings that came from behind as I ran and ran-
And screamed, falling through a trap-
Everything went black.
“You should have just erased her memories without mentioning it. She wouldn’t have run.”
“Easy for you to say, Namjoon, but she would have tried anyway.”
“You’re the one who scared her anyway, Jin. Who told you to jump right in front of her?”
“It’s not like she wasn’t already scared! You’re the one who was grinning like devils, Jungkook. You and Jimin.”
“If you’re all done arguing,” the Prince said, “Should we get to the matter at hands, now that she is awake?”
I internally sighed- I had been trying my best to act that I was still unconscious as long as I could, but it seemed like either my heart was too loud or my eyes were rolling in a panic behind my eyelids. I opened one eye and shut it immediately as I saw the seven staring at me.
“Sit,” the Prince ordered, and I didn’t wait for him to repeat as I obeyed. I am such a coward-
“Why did you follow me?”
“I was just… curious. No other reason,” I admitted, and he scanned my face for lies, his shoulders relaxing.
“Are you going to wipe my memories?” I asked, gulping.
“No,” the Prince shook his head, “I only healed you. You can return to the castle. You can pretend this didn’t happen, or you can try telling someone- no one will believe you anyway.”
The devilish smirk creeping on his face told me he was right- but that wouldn’t stop me from trying. I licked my dry lips, nodding. “Can I… leave now?”
He nodded, and I slowly got up, afraid I’d fall again out of fear this time, and I scanned the seven before bowing at them, turning to go-
And ending up half running to get away from them. I wasn’t sure if the snickers I heard were real or my imagination mocking me.
After reaching the comfort of my room, I sank on the floor, not bothering to get rid of the cloak or my dirty shoes as my mind went over the events.
I was in deep, deep trouble.
“Come with me,” I grabbed Jiho’s hand and led her to the corner of the garden, making sure we were hidden.
“What is it that you can’t tell me on the bench over there?” Jiho wondered, shaking her head.
I scanned the people around me, making sure the Prince or one of his lads wasn’t present or watching me from somewhere before I locked eyes with Jiho. “What I’m about to tell you might sound strange, but you have to believe me.”
“Okay,” Jiho nodded, eager to hear what I had to say.
“The Prince… I followed him last night-“
“You did NOT!” Jiho gasped, slapping my arm, “How utterly rude!”
“Shut it!” I shook my head, “I followed him out of the castle, and he went into the forest, where he had… six other… friends- of sorts, with him and-”
“I don’t like where this is going-”
“The Prince is a faerie.”
Jiho stared at me for a good minute. “The Prince… is a faerie?”
“Yes, he is. I saw him with his faerie friends- they had their wings out, those translucent wings we always heard of. And they discovered me and were going to wipe my memories but they let me go. Tell me you believe me,” I sighed, my voice breaking as I saw the unreadable face of Jiho.
“So you’re telling me… that the Prince is a faerie?”
I nodded.
“Sure. The Prince is a faerie. With wings. You may have taken his otherworldly beauty part a bit too serious-”
“I’m not joking,” I groaned, almost crying, “I knew no one was going to believe me, but you, of all people-”
“You really shouldn’t work too hard in the kitchen,” Jiho shook her head at me, “You’ve always been a hard worker. Now you’re having strange dreams. I knew some day you were gonna lose it.”
“Jiho!” I put my head up to stare at the sky in disbelief, “It was not a dream, Jiho. It was real. Ugh, fine. I’m crazy. Forget I said any of this.”
Jiho laughed a little, patting my shoulders, “Take a break, will you? You’ve been in the castle for too long. Take a vacation, clear your head, you can always come back to your job. You know the Prince prefers your cooking the most.”
I rolled my eyes, but nodded, realizing that the Prince was indeed, right. No one would believe me, ever.
Had I really dreamt it?
I went back to the kitchen, trying my best to not mess up the roasted chicken I was making for his dinner. Setting the plate, I decided I would bring the food to his room myself, just to check how he would take my presence.
Just to make sure I was sane.
Knocking on the Prince’s room and hearing the faint ‘Enter’, I opened the wooden door, blinking once to adjust my eyes to the brightly lit room. It looked like the Prince was busy studying- several books and scrolls were scrambled across the sofa where he sat, the table and even the floor.
“Your Highness,” I mumbled, and he looked in surprise at me, nodding as he made space on the table and I set the tray, a bit too aware of his eyes on me.
“Have a seat, why don’t you?”
I scanned his face- he usually would ask about my health and my parents whenever I brought him food, which was at least once a week. We were on friendly terms since we had known each other since birth and I knew his food preferences- basically his mood preferences better than anyone else. We weren’t the best friends, but… we weren’t strangers either.
I took the chair in front of him, bowing my head slightly as I did. He hadn’t touched his food yet, instead-
He was busy scanning me.
“So did you try telling anyone?”
So last night wasn’t a dream. I did not know whether to sigh in relief or dread.
I stared at him- his black curls were getting in his eyes. “As hard as it is to admit, you were right. No one would believe me.”
The Prince scoffed slightly, raising a brow, “Should I have wiped your memories after all?”
I dismissed the question, scanning him, “How come… no one knows? The king… he’s human, isn’t he?”
“Very,” Prince Taehyung sighed, finally taking a bite of the chicken, nodding in approval. “It was my mother.”
“But the queen- did your father change the records then? Made everyone believe she was human too?”
“Something like that,” he nodded, “Of course, not everyone in the castle is unaware of this. I can’t really hide my identity forever now, can I?”
“I say you’ve been doing well so far,” My tone was bitter, and the Prince dropped the fork in his plate, sitting back to stare at me.
“Are you like the rest of them then?” He asked, his eyes fierce, “Now that you know that I am a faerie, are you going to hate me like humans do?”
“Of course not,” I shook my head, “I’m just sad that you lied to me. I thought… we were… friends, Taehyung. I feel foolish now- maybe I was the only one who thought that. We aren’t the best friends ever, but we aren’t strangers, are we?”
I knew Taehyung was recalling our friendlier times together, when we were still kids and being of the same age, our parents had allowed us to be friends with each other. We’d spend most of our childhood together- it’s how I knew his preferences so well. However, his job had made us distant- not being able to meet and catch up as often as we used to.
Not being the same as we used to.
But was it surprise that I saw on his face?
“You don’t… hate me?”
I frowned, “Just because you’re a faerie doesn’t mean I hate you instantly, Taehyung. Although, if I do feel a little ‘hate’, it’s purely because of your attitude.”
He shook his head, smiling now as I gaped at him. This was exactly why I would ‘hate’ him.
“I’m sorry,” he began, “I’m just… surprised. Because you don’t hate me. You know too well how this world treats faeries.”
I nodded, my lips pursed- the world really wasn’t ready to accept faeries as another specie on this planet. They hunted faeries since hundreds of years, there had been wars, and now the faeries were in hiding, scattered around the planet.
One in front of her.
“It must have been… hard for you.”
“I’m pretty much a human,” The Prince scoffed, “I only meet with my faerie friends once in a while. We’re not all that different from humans, you know. Maybe not as brutal.”
“I’ve heard faeries can be cruel,” I said.
The Prince leaned forward, his smirk growing, “Not in ways you think.”
I cleared my throat, refusing to unveil the layers of meaning in that one sentence as I shook my head, “I won’t tell anyone- I won’t do anything. On one condition.”
“And what is that?”
“I want to know more about you- about… all of this,” I struggled for words, but he nodded, understanding.
“I don’t want you to leave. Frankly, I’m used to your meals. In fact, your meals remind me of… my family,” he looked cautiously at me, and in that moment, I knew he wasn’t talking about his human family, “So here’s something we can do. You can bring my meals more often. We can talk. Just like old times.”
“We’re not going back to old times, I think,” I got up, and wasn’t sure if the flash of hurt that passed his eyes was my imagination, “But we can try.”
The next day, when the Prince finally arrived from settling matters in the capital city, I set the food tray and sighed, gathering my courage.
I don’t know what took over me- why I agreed to give him his meals personally every day.
Already, the people in the kitchen, especially those who usually had this duty were glancing at me strangely. It’s like they all forgot that I was, after all, once a ‘friend’ to the Prince.
The head chef had gone as far as to tell me to be ‘careful with who I involve myself with’.
Ha. As if the Prince would be interested in me.
Me, a nobody- I was not extraordinary in anything other than my cooking skills, which I took pride in. I was plain. The Prince would never look at me that way. Especially now that I knew he was a faerie, the slim chance had reduced to nothing. If he would settle for a human, that human better be extraordinarily beautiful.
Not that any of this mattered to me- I shook my head, finding myself already having arrived at his door. I really needed to stop thinking so much.
It was just an agreement- I would shut up (that sounded like I had the upper hand) about him being a faerie, and he would be answering all my questions.
Simple. Easy peasy.
I finally knocked on the door and entered, bowing once before I set the tray. The Prince glanced at the single serving of lamb chops.
“You haven’t had dinner yet, have you?”
“No, I usually eat an hour from now, after wrapping up the stuff in kitchen,” I answered.
“You should eat dinner with me from now on, while you’re at it,” the Prince said nonchalantly, and I gaped at him.
“Please, it’s already bad that of all the times, I have to stick with you throughout dinner- what would people think?”
“I don’t really care what they think,” he muttered, complementing the food and I thanked him, “come on, you really should.”
By now I was squirming in my chair, “Taehyung, it’s really okay, please. I can’t have dinner with you in the palace.”
Taehyung sighed, scanning my face, “Would it be so bad, if you did?”
I shrugged. He nodded in understanding, saying I could ask him anything I want to.
“I don’t know,” I said, staring at the full moon from the window near me, “I’m just… confused. How did your parents meet? How did… this happen?”
“This?” Taehyung laughed, motioning at him, “You mean how did I happen?”
I bit my lip, trying my best not to laugh as I nodded.
“Well, faeries aren’t… what you think they are. Trust me on that one- I have lived as a human all of my life, so I know better how both the sides think. Faeries… they just want to live peacefully alongside humans. My mother was very ambitious- she wanted to create harmony between the people,” he took a few sips of water before continuing, “My father, as a king, once met her in the forest- he got lost during a journey and my mother helped him find his men. He was surprised that she didn’t eat him alive.”
I finally laughed and the Prince watched me with an amused expression, “I mean, he wasn’t wrong-“
“We’re not animals,” the Prince laughed as well, and I was glad he knew I was only joking, “Anyways, they met. They fell in love. They were expecting me- during the last months of her pregnancy, my father finally convinced a few of his court members to let her inside the castle so she could be taken care of properly. They agreed- she might have been queen if she hadn’t passed away giving birth to me.”
I noticed the sadness in his eyes as he said that, “I’ve heard it’s hard for faeries to have children. I’m sure your mother loved you- even when you were not in this world. I’m sure she loves you.”
He smiled, nodding. “We couldn’t tell the public that I, a half-faerie, was the only heir to the throne. So I learned the human ways. That’s all there is to it. You know me- you and I… you never noticed anything amiss with me, did you?”
“Only your ‘otherworldly’ beauty,” I said sarcastically, making him grin.
“What do you… plan to do, Taehyung?” I asked, folding my arms, “People will expect you to produce a heir. They would expect you to drive the faeries out of this world- or into extinction, if possible. How are you going to handle this?”
Taehyung, having finished, wiped his mouth with a kerchief, “It would be slow, but I can begin this. The change that my mother dreamed of. The unison between faeries and humans that my father still wishes of. All he can do is guide me- make it happen. Make it a reality.”
I was surprised- I didn’t expect him to be… ambitious. He really sounded like a true leader that moment.
“You really did grow up, huh?” I shook my head, smiling, “So you are going to do this? No matter the consequences? No matter if people revolt or not?”
“I am,” Taehyung was determined, “Which side will you stand with?”
I got up, straightening my navy blue dress, picking the tray to take my leave, looking at him one last time right in his eyes.
“Of course, with you.”
“I’m not sure we should be doing this,” I said, taking his hand as I stepped on one of the higher rocks.
“You’ve only said this for the 10th time,” Taehyung shook his head at me in disapproval and I stuck out my tongue at him.
“Give me a break- I need to drink water,” I stopped, sitting on one of the rocks as I glanced at the length of the mountain we had crossed, taking out my flask from my satchel and gulping down water. Taehyung took that time to stretch as well.
“What if we get caught?” I asked, wiping my mouth, “You’re a faerie- I’m sure you can… fly or, I don’t know. Disappear? Wipe their memories? But I am only human.”
“What a disappointment that must be,” Taehyung mocked.
“Shut up,” I said, and he faked hurt, “remember what we promised. When it’s just us two, you’re not the Prince. You’re just Taehyung.”
He glared at me and I smirked, “Scrawny little Taehyung who would follow me anywhere-”
“I would not follow you anywhere!” He said and I laughed, clapping, “And I was definitely not scrawny.”
“Oh please. I don’t think I could ever forget the ruckus you created when I was about to leave the castle a few years ago.”
“I should have let you go,” he groaned, motioning to follow him as we continued climbing the mountain, “look at you now. Arrogant. Never thanked me once.”
“Why do you think I cook for you every day?” I tsk-ed. “It’s not like I love cooking for you.”
“You love cooking. You’d cook for anyone.”
“It’s different-” I paused mid-sentence, making Taehyung raise an eyebrow as he turned to look at me.
“Is it now?” He smirked, and I rolled my eyes.
“I am obviously talking about the money, take your head out of the clouds you’re in right now.”
“Of course you are,” he simply said, and even though I couldn’t see his face, I knew he was smiling.
Walking a few more miles, we finally reached the summit of the mountain, and he stood, stretching his arms and exhaling, putting his hands on his hips and smiling. “Here we are.”
“I thought there were supposed to be faeries here? Have you lost it, Taehyung?” I looked around- it was completely empty and extremely cold.
“Oh- I forgot,” he turned to me, waving his hand in front of my face, making me blink as I noticed little sparks from his finger-
And it was like a veil lifted from in front of my eyes- I could suddenly see everything clearer. There were various huts, and-
So many faeries.
I gasped- they were all so beautiful, the little children playing in the air, their wings shimmering. The older faeries sitting in a circle around fire and watching the children with smiles on their faces. The men working, the women with them-
“It’s like a little clan,” Taehyung said, “I thought you should see. It’s where my friends live. Here they come.”
I saw the familiar faces approach me, this time without the devilish smirks on their faces. They all hugged the Prince one by one and then shook hands with me, introducing themselves.
“We’re his childhood friends,” Hoseok, the one who looked the friendliest out of them, said, “Just like you.”
“Glad to hear I was not his only friend, honestly,” I laughed as I looked awkwardly at Taehyung, widening my eyes a bit. He could have given me a little warning before! He never told me his friends from that night would be here too.
He only shrugged, stifling his laugh. “Let’s go,” he said, and we all followed him to another peak, where the boys helped me find a grassy spot I could sit on as we stared down at the city.
“Are the other faeries aware that I am a human?” I asked, looking around- some were trying not to stare at me, but some really couldn’t help it. “I feel out of place.”
“They are,” Yoongi said, “But you have to understand why they’re… wary.”
“Of course,” I nodded, “They have every right to be.”
“You think differently,” Namjoon commented, “Faeries aren’t all that innocent either. Humans and faeries- both haven’t been the best of people.”
“I know,” I said, “It’s just… the faeries I’ve met have been kind.”
Taehyung shifted, “You talk as if you’ve met other faeries?”
“I have, actually,” I admitted.
“The way you were so scared,” Jungkook laughed, “I thought that was your very first time encountering a faerie.”
I was positive my cheeks had flushed- I couldn’t hide them anyway. “That was more because of the fact that the Prince I’d known my whole life,” I looked pointedly at Taehyung, “Had never bothered telling me.”
“And risk endangering himself?” Jimin retorted.
“Oh please, why would I ever do that to the future Prince?” I fluttered my lashes and they laughed. “But no, I wouldn’t have done that. I guess that’s where he misjudged me. I really don’t care if he’s faerie or human- to me, he’s just the little brat I have to cook for every day.”
“You love it,” he said, and I shook my head.
Talking to his faerie friends, I realized that it truly did not matter if we were different species- we thought alike. It’s not like I expected them to be different- to be special, though they were in a way. It was just the whole situation- the way we all sat in a circle and ate cherries while they talked about the future they dreamt of and wanted to make true thanks to Taehyung being the prince that I realized that this was all very mundane.
His friends opened up to me when they realized I really did not treat them any differently than I treated Taehyung. I had to admit- it was very fresh to talk to someone other than the kitchen staff. It felt like gaining new friends- I told them and they teased me over it, but I knew their smiles were genuine.
“You’re all so… normal,” I said as we descended down the mountain, going back to the castle, “I don’t know what I expected, but… normal.”
“I really want to know what you were imagining about faeries,” Taehyung said, “Please, I’m curious.”
“I don’t know,” I shrugged, “The faerie I once encountered was normal too- apart from the inhumane speed and skills.”
“What’s the story?”
“I once went to the forest in search of a new herb I could use in cooking,” I said, carefully stepping where Taehyung was so I wouldn’t slip, “A man thought it was a nice idea to try and… kidnap me. For what purpose, I don’t want to think. Anyways, I was fortunate. A faerie- a male faerie rid him immobile and helped me escape, telling me to be careful. I never got to thank him- I hope I meet him someday.”
Taehyung glanced at me, “It seems like you have a thing with not thanking people.”
I slapped his arm, “I was too surprised. Anyways, that’s one of the reasons why I don’t have anything against faeries.”
“I was-”
My eyes went wide as I saw something flying right for Taehyung’s head while he was busy looking at me, and I instantly jumped on him, grabbing him as we rolled down the mountain, the both of us groaning in pain and Taehyung’s eyes widening as he saw the arrow stuck to a tree now.
“Run!” I grabbed his hand, and he led the way, hiding behind one of the bigger trees as we caught our breath.
“I don’t know if the assassin knows I’m a faerie, so I cannot use my powers unless he’s alone,” Taehyung whispered and I nodded, “I’ll distract him-“
“No,” I held his shoulders, shaking him, “You’re the Prince. I’ll distract him- you run.”
I only saw a flicker of surprise on his face before I donned the hood of my cloak and picked a rock from the ground, running, narrowly escaping another arrow that came flying for me, dashing for the big rock, hiding behind it. Taehyung signalled an okay at me, and I threw the rock away from me as a distraction, making the assassin believe I had moved.
As soon as the assassin was in my vision, I did the most stupid thing I could have done.
I ran at him.
I heard Taehyung scream my name as I pushed the assassin, stealing one of his daggers and holding it to his neck, grabbing him by the hair.
“I am a chef, and I am better than you with knives,” I whispered harshly in his ears, “So I’d be careful if I were you.”
To prove my point, I dig the blade a little into the vein popping out harshly at the side of the neck, and he grunted, going still. The man had to know I was bluffing- sure, I was better with knives probably, but I had no stamina.
The man grabbed my arms and in an instant, had me flipped over on the ground, but Taehyung came full force at him, smashing at him and knocking him out cold with a punch that had to have contained magic.
Because there was no way he could knock out a full grown man with a single punch.
“You are the most stupid person I have encountered in my life!” Taehyung was furious and didn’t bother to help me up, “How could you just risk your life like that? Do you not have a brain in there?” He tapped harshly at his own skull, making me flinch.
I got up, wincing in pain- I must have a few bruises here and there. “In case you forgot, Prince, I just saved your life. Can you stop being an ass about this and just deal with this situation?”
Taehyung shook his head- he was clearly angry. He only tied the man with a rope he dug out of his bag, saying it was better to just leave him here- he could either live if he was smart enough, or die. I shrugged- it was the best option we had.
I followed him, rather slowly now- I must have twisted my ankle, and Taehyung seemed to have noticed. He led me deeper in the trees and ordered me to sit, saying it was getting dark so we should light a fire and rest a bit before going back to the castle.
Starting a fire and angrily handing me the bag of cherries, he went to look for fresh water and I asked him to clear his head while he was at it- he really was angry. He was rarely ever angry, and it was unsettling.
After a heavy silence, I finally swallowed before speaking. “Sorry, I guess. For being… stupid.”
Taehyung sighed, “Thank you for saving my life then, I guess.”
I smiled, glancing at him, my smile growing wide as I saw that he was smiling too. “You should be more careful when you’re out- you’re the Prince, for heaven’s sake. You shouldn’t have been out in the first place, sneaking around like that. And you should always have guards around you. No matter how good a Prince you are, there will always be someone who would like your head on their wall as decoration.”
Taehyung threw his head back as he laughed, “Are you sure you’re not one of them?”
“I’d like to cut that tongue of yours that you just love to use,” I shook my head, and Taehyung scanned me.
“Look at you, silly. You’re bruised all over.”
“Because of you!”
Taehyung brought a hand to my face, tucking stray hair behind my ears as he examined my face, and any retort I had in mind got stuck in my throat as I stared at him- his eyelashes that were casting shadows on his face due to the warm glow of the fire, making his skin look flawless-
Except for the cut that ran on his cheek.
“Let me heal you,” his voice was low as he locked eyes with me, looking for permission. I gulped before I nodded, and he lightly touched the various cuts and scratches on my face, sending warm sparks as they stitched back.
He took my hands next, and I watched the magic happen this time- he only ran a thumb across the wound as it stitched back. I gasped a little- it was the first time I was seeing him heal me. I had been unconscious when he had healed me a week ago.
“I’m glad you aren’t hurt- nothing serious,” he said, taking my arm and examining where my shirt had been torn, healing the long cut as well.
“I’m glad the arrow didn’t go through your head,” I mumbled, and he smiled. I showed him my ankle, and he bent his head, the black curls falling over his face as he ran a hand over the blue bruise.
“All done?”
“All done,” I confirmed, smiling at him, “Thank you. You’re hurt too. You should heal yourself.”
“I’m wearing leather, so I’m not that hurt,” he said, healing the cut on his hand.
“If anyone sees the cut on your face and me with you, I would be hanged.”
Taehyung rolled his eyes, “I can’t exactly see the cut on my face right now. I would need a mirror.”
“I’ll tell you where it is, so just heal it,” I insisted, “It’s definitely not a good idea to go back like this.”
“Alright,” Taehyung groaned, “Tell me where it is.”
I looked at his left cheekbone where the cut ran along, motioning it on my face- but he had it all wrong. Sighing, I took his hand.
“Use… the magic,” I said, running his thumb along the wound and he obeyed, and I watched as the cut neatly sew itself back, leaving only crusted blood. Before I knew it, I was running my own thumb across it, wiping the blood.
He was looking at me with eyes a little wide, mouth parted, and my heart sank as I realized how close we were. Clearing my throat, I drew back, and he mumbled a thanks, drinking from his flask.
Getting rid of the fire and taking our stuff, we walked back to the castle, sticking close this time and not speaking much- both because we had to be aware of every step now.
And because I was unable to talk now- thanks to my heart wilding around.
“You’ve grown rather attached to my company, haven’t you?” I wriggled my eyebrows at the Prince, who acted like he was sick, making me scoff.
“How very Prince-ly of you,” I commented, shaking my head, but amused to see him laugh as he dug in his dinner.
“You’ve changed the way you do steaks, haven’t you?” Taehyung looked at me, and I bit into my own piece, satisfied that it came out just as I wanted.
“Do you like this one better, or the previous version?”
“I like both,” he took another bite, “You can give me whatever you like anytime- I don’t think I’ll mind.”
“Wow, okay, you’re addicted,” I shook my head, trying not to smile at his words- my heart full of pride at his approval, “What would you do without me?”
“Get a faerie chef?”
“I’d like to see you freaking try,” I glared at him.
A few days had passed since that incident in the mountains- and by this point, we were back to our normal routine, which was me serving him food whenever he was available, listening to him talk about his day and his work, anything and everything.
I had to admit- even I was used to this routine now. And I had to admit that I missed him when he was out of town for two days, having returned tonight, which was why I accepted his offer to have dinner with him.
It didn’t help that he wanted to have dinner on the balcony, the sky magically starry tonight.
It didn’t help that he looked at me so intently whenever we talked- I had no idea if it was his habit or because I looked strange when I talked- I’d even gone as far as to ask him if something was on my face.
That didn’t stop him.
“On a serious note, I can’t ever think of replacing you,” Taehyung said, and I had to set down my fork as I looked at him, my eyebrows raising, “Your cooking… it reminds me of my grandmother. My faerie grandmother. She passed away when we were kids.”
My mouth parted- I knew about this, I just hadn’t known it was his faerie grandmother. “You must miss her.”
“Very,” he nodded, finishing his steak and I decided to let him do the talking while I finished mine, “She was very warm. You would have liked her.”
“I’m sure I would have,” I said, smiling.
After I finished my food, I looked up at Taehyung staring at me. “What’s wrong?”
He blinked, as if coming out of a daze, and shook his head, “Nothing. Just thinking.”
“Penny for a thought?”
“Why don’t you look at me differently now that I’m a faerie?” He asked, and I frowned in confusion, “I mean, I honestly thought you would grow distant. I thought we wouldn’t be the same anymore. But dare I say we have grown closer these past few weeks?”
I got up, stretching as I walked to the edge of the balcony, staring at the sky. “It’s not like humans treated me any better. You of all people should know it doesn’t matter that you are a faerie or a human. You’re the only person in this whole castle that ever cared.”
“I still do,” he said, joining me, having noticed the use of past tense, “I thought you had better company in the kitchen now?”
“It’s only business, Tae,” I said, shaking my head, “You know how no one wanted me. Now that I’m your personal chef and the youngest royal chef, everyone is still wary of me.”
“Are you happy?” Taehyung asked, and I looked at him in surprise, “I always used to tell you that if it was too hard, I could let you go. You could have gone anywhere- you would have become a world famous chef.”
“You stopped telling me that a few years ago, didn’t you?” I narrowed my eyes at him.
“It’s not because the offer didn’t stand anymore,” his adam’s apple bobbed, “It was because… I didn’t want to let you go.”
I raised my brow, “You’re in love with my food, I get that-”
“No, stupid. I didn’t want to let you go.”
“Oh,” I opened my mouth, but shut it, in fear of something stupid escaping. I turned my head to look at the sky and heard him laugh slightly- probably at my flushed cheeks.
“You remember how I caused a fuss when you were about to leave… after your parents died.”
“I do,” I smiled.
“I couldn’t lose my only friend,” he shook his head, “I was always looking forward to when you’d make something new and I would be the first who got to taste your dishes. You’d let me criticize them, and you’d actually listen to what I had to say- you didn’t dismiss my opinions, like the people in the court did because they thought I was too young.”
“I sound like I only ever cared about food,” he laughed, and I joined, shaking my head.
“To be fair… food matters.”
He made an impressed face at me, but continued, “You’re the only one I can be myself around. Even when I was… a human to you. You feel like home.”
I looked at him- he looked vulnerable at that moment. And I realized he had never put walls around himself when he was with me.
Just like I had never done the same.
“Can I hug you?”
My heart skipped a beat at his question- if I had a sassy remark to that, it disappeared in an instant as I stared at him. He drew closer, his eyes not leaving mine, me not moving from my spot his answer as he put his arms around my waist, resting his chin on my shoulder.
I laughed a little as I wrapped my arms around his neck, “This feels like old times.”
“It does, doesn’t it? We were kids, we had nothing to worry about. I missed this.”
“Can’t say I didn’t,” I said cautiously- I was no longer sure if there was a line between us. He seemed to be crossing one every day.
Drawing back, his hands went to tuck my hair behind, my arms falling limp on my sides as I just watched him with unreadable expressions in his eyes- I wasn’t sure if I wanted to decipher it.
“You know I like you, don’t you?”
“Of course you do,” I managed to say, and he laughed, shaking his head.
Gosh, he was beautiful.
“I really, really like you. I think- I think I love you. I know I have for a long time now.”
Before I could respond, he was cupping my face, one hand going to grab my neck as he craned his neck to meet my lips, and I froze in my spot as he pecked my lips softly, drawing back to look at my reaction.
“I… do you know what you just did?” I asked in a whisper, not sure if he had done this in the heat of the moment or if this was something he actually wanted.
He answered me by grabbing my waist and bringing me closer, one hand going to fist my hair as he kissed me, more desperately this time, and my arms automatically went around his neck as I sighed into the kiss, my legs going weak.
He broke the kiss, searching my face for any objection, and this time it was me who had to tip-toe and struggle to kiss him as I cupped his face, him smiling through it as he led me to the table, making my back crane as he took control of the kiss.
I had to break apart for breath, not being able to control the laugh creeping up on me, making Taehyung smile as he asked what was so funny.
“I thought you were in love with my food!”
He took my hand and planted a kiss, not breaking eye contact, making my stomach twist uncontrollably, “I love these hands that make the food for me.”
“You’re ruining the mood.”
He laughed, kissing me again, “Let’s forget about the food part. I love you- the you I am so comfortable with.”
“But…” I made us stand properly, “I am a chef, Taehyung. You and I… are you sure about this?”
“You’re my friend before you’re a chef,” he said, “And anyone who has a problem with this can go to hell.”
“It’s not that simple,” I warned him.
He took my hand, caressing it as he led me to the edge of the balcony.
“This kingdom… the people will never be happy with how things are. I want to take that first step of uniting the humans and faeries. The first step towards a peaceful world. People are going to hate me, and I know I will not be able to see my dream in my lifetime- maybe it will take a few decades to make it happen- but what I am sure of is that I cannot do this without you.”
The way he said my name desperately made me tear a bit- I knew what he said was true. I just never realized he could care about me so much.
“I cannot face all that without you by my side. This kingdom needs a queen like you,” he squeezed my hand, and I nodded, understanding. I wrapped my arms around his waist, resting my head on his chest, hearing the rapid heartbeat that was a declaration of love itself, revelling the feeling of his nose buried in my neck.
“Let’s do this together, no matter what,” I promised, “No matter what happens. I’ll stay with you.”
“To the very end?”
“To the very end.”
36 notes · View notes
wavyyl0sr · 15 days ago
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started: 4/29/2021
last update: 6/8/2021
requests: closed for the moment.
╰ the original creator of every fic/imagine idea. the actions in any of my fics/imagines are all fictional. any oc are all mine. fics/imagines ideas are all mine, any old fics/imagines come from my wattpad (W0ND3RLUSST-).
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╰ note: some might have no link, don’t worry! I either haven’t finished the masterlist or started it.
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𝘩𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘺 𝘵𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘭𝘪𝘱𝘴 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘢𝘨𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘵 𝘮𝘺 𝘴𝘬𝘪𝘯, 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢 𝘵𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘰 𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘢 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦.
↳ press here to continue <3
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𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴 𝘸𝘳𝘢𝘱 𝘢𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥 𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘩 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳’𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘢𝘵𝘴, 𝘢𝘴 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘷𝘰𝘪𝘤𝘦𝘴 𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘦𝘤𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘴𝘺.
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𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘢 𝘱𝘰𝘦𝘮, 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘮𝘦 𝘸𝘳𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘥 𝘶𝘱, 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘥.
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𝘢 𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘺 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴 𝘤𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘦, 𝘮𝘺 𝘭𝘪𝘱𝘴, 𝘮𝘺 𝘵𝘰𝘯𝘨𝘶𝘦, 𝘮𝘺 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳𝘴. 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵, 𝘪 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦.
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╰ note: some might have no link, don’t worry! I either haven’t finished the masterlist or started it.
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falling for you is a dream that could last for as long as we want it to.
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wrapping my lips on your soft skin, i kiss your petals to remind you, you’re always safe.
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42 notes · View notes
wavyyl0sr · 16 days ago
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banner made by the talented @dee-ehn
pairing: non!idol jungkook, black non-binary reader
genre: friends to lovers, explicit, one shot
warnings: alcohol consumption, slight voyeurism, cursing, edging, overstimulation, thigh riding, fingering, facesitting, creampie, dirty talk, slight praise kink(?), mentions of nipple play, crying kink, exhibitionism, pet name (bunny, but towards reader), choking, aftercare, dom!jungkook, sub!non-binary reader
summary: you have an open relationship with jungkook, the biggest no-no in the relationship is sexual talk, but what happens when you’re both are tipsy and jungkook’s thoughts can’t shut up?
a/n: at this point, i think i kinda forgot how to write smut cause this crap has been in the drafts for some weeks and i was struggling with the writing (that and because i was having many writers block) okay hope you enjoy!
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To say seeing Jungkook at your doorsteps with a bottle of your favorite wine, a bag of takeout food, and a pretty smile on his face as you stood in front of him unamused is an understatement. Jungkook and you have been best friends since middle school. The peculiar man you grew up with has made a habit of coming over to your house every other weekend drinking whatever alcohol that suits the mood of the week. You don't say a word, letting him in while his cologne gusts against your nose letting you feel lightheaded.
Jungkook places the bottle and bag down, taking his expensive work shoes off and placing his valuable black coat on a coat rack you bought a year ago. Walking in the kitchen you open your dishwasher, pulling two plates, utensils, and two glass for wine. Jungkook rolls his sleeves up, to wash his hands, afterward he popped the wine bottle open and pouring out the amount you and he desired.
"How was work?" You ask, Jungkook wipes his hands on a piece of napkin now giving his attention to you. Shrugging, "work is work, tiring and annoying." You give him a pity smile understanding that statement.
"How was yours? Sure Solan didn't nag you again, did she?" You shake your head no, opening the bag of ethnic food you so craved for. "It was pretty boring, Solan is on probation for whatever reason so she can't nag me for more than three months. So I guess it was a good day?" Jungkook coughs, trying to hide the laugh that almost left his lips as you shake your head.
Giving him his plate of food, he takes it to the living room coming back to pick up the two bottles of wine, you continue to scrap up whatever you wanted.
"You know, my assistant, Chloe? She asked me out." Stopping your movements, you turn to the left staring at Jungkook who is too satisfied by the food he's eating. "She did what?" The shock in your voice was noticeable no matter how much you tried to hide it. Picking your plate and some napkins up you walk to the living room sitting next to Jungkook as he nods.
"And what did you say? I mean clearly, that was kind inappropriate for a workplace?" He nods again, "I told her that I am her boss and I am very flattered but I just can't damage our image like that. I mean she's pretty, yeah but I think it's much better if she crushes on someone else at work, not me." You sigh, eating more of your food while Jungkook switches the tv on skipping through channels.
"You are an attractive dude. Hella weird but attractive, poor thing...Also how much did you spend on this bottle? It tastes better than the last one." You say, picking up your glass, stirring it as you take a sip.
"Roughly around two thousand or four? Meh, the more expensive the better." Jungkook tells you nonchalantly, looking at him you cringe at the price. "Jay, you worry me. Why would you even? You know I actually don't even care, keep spending them dollars on me." Jungkook chuckles, pulling his tie down to feel more comfortable.
Crossing your legs together, Jugkook picks his glass letting it get close to yours. You realize what he's doing letting the glass hit each other with a click sound. "To jobs that make you want to die." You laugh, repeating his words as you two take a long gulp from the glass.
Jungkook's gaze never leaves yours as you two stop drinking. Licking his lips, Jungkook starts eating again while you pay attention to whatever the hell is playing on tv.
You understand the stare he's giving which makes you stop caring about the idiotic movie that is playing on lifetime. Turning away, you stop eating taking up the glass once again. "Yes, Jungkook? What's on your mind?" He stays quiet for a minute, wondering if he should cross a line.
"JK, hello?" Snapping your fingers in front of him, he jumps now remembering why he was staring. "What's the question?" You ask, Jungkook itches the back of his neck laughing just a little.
"This movie is boring," he mumbles, you raise a brow, agreeing to his words. "You remember when we were back in high school and we would just blast music and get drunk off my friend's Jin bottles of liquor?" You nod slowly trying to figure out where he's going with this.
You also remember the reason why you two stopped. "I honestly forgot why we stopped doing that, it was pretty fun." You weakly smiling remembering when you two drunkenly kissed. If you didn't accidentally break Jungkook's mom's vase it would've been the night of you losing your virginity.
You only remembered so well because he was your first kiss. Breathing out heavily, you look Jungkook in the eye, "I had broken your mom's vase that's why. Then we just thought it was best to stop underage drinking and also because Jin started screaming at you for drinking his alcohol when he specifically told you to never touch his cabinet of drinks." You two laugh remembering how red Jin's ear's got when he started cursing Jungkook out.
The worse part, Jungkook's mom came home early to see her son getting cursed out and her broken vase because Jin found it and never placed it back in the hidden area.
"God that was a day, you got cursed out by Jin and your mom then your dad came home and he took your electronics away. The worst mistake we've done in so long." You continue to laugh, finally feeling the liquor setting in your system.
"You say worse I say best, and I only say this because of the kiss." Almost snapping your neck you start coughing while Jungkook smirks.
"You thought I forgot? How could I forget something so taboo? I realized that night you weren't the little innocent Y/N I thought I knew. I never forgot how you kissed me, I truly was fooled into thinking that wasn't your first time, bunny." He watches your body language, seeing how quiet you become how you don't make eye contact with him like you normally do.
Leaning back, he sips on his wine slowly, widening his legs, he pulls his sleeves up even more showing off the long black and red snake tattoo you picked out.
"We were pretty young and drunk. It was a mistake." You say, he chuckles running his fingers through his slick hair. "Why are you saying that? I know that's not true, you know it too. Why sit here and lie? We're best friends, right? We can tell each other anything." His voice lowers, sending you shivers down your back.
"Jungkook you're so irritating, what are you drunk?" You laugh nervously as he sits there, eyes still staring at you and you only. He shrugs, stirring the almost done wine.
"And if I am? It's not like I'm not bold when I'm sober anyway." Feeling his hand lay on the back of your neck you shiver even more trying to ignore the butterflies in your stomach.
"I have a question, Y/N. But only if you're comfortable answering. If not we can go back to eating and act like I never said it." Feeling his lips ghost over your ear, you sit with anticipation while his words make you feel hazy. Moving away, he gets comfortable now turning the tv off as the house becomes silent.
The only thing that you could say that ruins it is the jazz music that leaves from the radio you forgot to turn off.
"Do you really think that night was a mistake? Us kissing? The hickey I gave you?" The question he asks makes you stop moving, the only thing you can think of is the night of the kiss. Jungkook rubs his thigh, waiting for you to answer.
"If I told you I didn't find it as a mistake till tonight what would you say?" Biting his tongue, he grins. "Then I would have to fix that wouldn't I?" He gets closer, licking his lips.
You turn, now staring completely at him, your eyes glance at his lips fluttering back to his brown eyes. "Hmm, I guess so. What would you fix it?" You ask, seeing something in him change. Jungkook smirks, resting his hand on your thigh.
"Whatever you want." He mumbles, closing the space between you two. His breath smelt like wine, wine you've been babysitting for the longest. You can't help but get lost in his eyes, eyes filled with galaxies that you could only uncover if you let him in. Jungkook waits patiently for an answer, fingers fiddling with his rings. You sigh, shrugging to his expectations. Jungkook was never one to intimidate you, it was hard, after all, you knew him for half of your life.
But at the moment, if you didn't have an answer Jungkook would have one for you, quickly. Glancing down, you bit down on your tongue, softly sighing.
"You don't have an idea do you, bunny?" You nod, his hand moves down to your chin lifting your head. Tilting your head a bit, you pout while all he does is smirk. "You want me to take the lead?" He questions. With a slight nod, Jungkook leans closer, your eyes instinctively shutting. Your heart flutters, feeling the soft lips that you've dreamt about. Jungkook lifts your body, pulling you onto his lap. Straddling his thigh, the palm of his hands rest on your ass, gripping you closer- creating friction against each other.
Small whimpers drip from your lips, music to Jungkook's ears. Cupping your face, Jungkook stares at you, falling deeply. Your beauty was something he could never wrap his mind around, you were a blessing in disguise.
Grinding softly on the smooth cloth, Jungkook quickly flexes his muscles to give you satisfaction. Draping your arms around his neck, your head hangs low against the nape of his neck feeling the nice pleasure you secretly begged for. "God that feels good." You whisper, breathing hard already.
Jungkook smirks at you, you grip his shoulders feeling so lost in ecstasy. "Faster baby, I know you can." Holding your hips to guide you, you let go any worry receiving only pleasure from him.
Jungkook's eyes darkened as he observes your movements, small words of encouragement left his lips. Every move, every word, and every groan that he did stimulate your precious body. Rocking yourself to the unforced rhythm, your hands clenched tightly on Jungkook's black tie. Desperate whimpers left from your plump lips leaving him turned on.
The hardness of his thigh sent shivers down your back, pulling you closer his lips ghost over your neck, pressing soft pecks on you. Feeling his hand snake around your throat you moan softly, enjoying the grip he has on you.
The silent moans you've held onto for a while slowly became audible to him. You had slowed yourself down which lead Jungkook's hand to grip tightly around your throat. Your body grows tired from the wine but each time you felt his hands grope your ass you kept the pace going. Feeling so close to cumming, your moans grew louder and louder.
Recklessly sputtering incoherent words and whimpers, Jungkook flexed his muscles letting you hit every spot that got you weak. Leaning onto his body, while the familiar feeling clung onto you.
You pushed yourself closer begging and needing his touch. Whatever he gave you, would satisfy your high. "Fuck I'm close." You whisper a few quiet moans slip past your lips, your body heating up from all the tension.
Gasping, Jungkook wraps his hand around both of your wrists pushing you down on the couch. Before you can complain, His lips crash onto yours. Subconsciously wrapping your legs around his hips, his lips press softly against your cheek, now staring down at you.
"Years after and I still managed to have you moaning in my ears like this." He smirks sinisterly, you groan against his grip wishing he didn't stop you. Cooing at your mummers, Jungkook kisses your cheek and lips hoping that will calm you. "Hmm I think it would be much better if you came on my fingers and not on my thighs, don't you think?" You nod, enjoying the idea. "I can't do that if you don't say it, say what you want, baby."
"Please fuck me."
He smiles, pushing his fingers against your shorts and underwear, pulling them down slowly. Letting them rest on your ankles he looks up at you with lusting eyes. Pulling your shirt off, you look him in the eyes with lust.
"You want this? You want me, Y/n?" You mumble a yes, hoping he heard, to your expectations he looks back at you with a reassuring grin.
"Then I'll give my baby whatever they want." He mutters mostly to himself while going down on you, lips ghosting your thighs. His fingers hook against your skin pulling your body closer to his face. His eyes flicker up at you, seeing your face relaxed. However, your body was tensed with anticipation until his tongue pressed onto your clit. Flatting his tongue, he drags his tongue up, teasing your aching core.
You whimper, loving each touch he gave you. Eyes peeking up at you, Jungkook takes his middle finger, caressing your slit. His middle and ring finger collects any arousal while he blew air against your needy core. Slowly, pressing his middle finger on your clit, he rubs it softly in a circular motion secretly begging to hear your pretty moans.
"Hm, so pretty." He mutters, yet you catch it not truly comprehending how genuine the compliment is. Pushing his fingers in, you sigh a moan, needing more than what he's giving. Curling his digits against your cunt, the tip of his fingers caressed each needy spot of your cunt, not missing any chances to make you moan his name.
"F-uck, Jungkook that feels so good." You moan out, he smirks. Pumping in you slowly while the feeling of your arousal coaxes his fingers even more. His movements are slow but it makes you feel so good. Jungkook stares at you, watching how your face twists each time his fingers rock in you, hitting your g-spot. "Look at me." Your eyes flutter to his order, feeling slightly intimidated by his stare. Jungkook eyes flicker down to your pussy, giving his full attention to pleasing you. A causal smirk laid on his face, hearing your moans getting louder while the pace of each finger moved quicker and slower than the last.
Grinding yourself against his fingers, Jungkook smiles liking this side of you. Though he already knew it. Jungkook buries his face between your legs, sucking softly on your clit. Pulling his fingers out, you whimper- choking on your words while Jungkook continues to lap his tongue against your clit, twirling it in a figure-eight motion.
Pulling your body up by your waist, Jungkook gets comfortable on the couch. Adjusting your posture, your mind clicks in understanding what he's doing. Laying your hands on his board shoulders, your clit hits his mouth, making your nerves twist.
"Fuck what are you doing to me?" You question breathlessly, His tongue continues with the figure-eight motion, for a little while. Each time he kept hitting your g-spot, you cried. Tears starting to form, you begged him to let you cum. You were close and he knew it, rocking yourself with his pace. Jungkook sucks up your arousal, while your tears kept falling.
"Please, fuck- right there, baby." Accepting your needy request, he kept the pace you wanted going, letting your lewd thoughts spur. Gripping his shoulders, your fingernails sink into his skin. Twitching from every rock, you moan his name loudly as your body flutters to the familiar feeling. "So close." You mew, begging to catch your high. Your right hand slithers to Jungkook's throat, gripping it tightly.
"Fuck" You moan, feeling your cum hit against his tongue, you cry a lot harder than the last time, moaning loud, just how he wanted. Licking your cummed up cunt, you become more sensitive to his touch. Jungkook swiftly lifts you, letting you stand drenched in cum. Feeling your cum drip to your thigh, Jungkook stands looking at you and you only.
His fingers press under your chin, lifting your face. He smiles, with a twitching smirk. "You still think what happened was a mistake?" Unable to speak, you shake your head making Jungkook smile wide. "Your such a good doll, taking everything I give you without complaints. You, my deserve everything you desire. And I have a feeling I can do that with ease." Turning your body around, he pulls you closer making you feel how hard he is. Whimpering, Jungkook's lips ghost against your left ear, making your knees go weak.
"You have me so hard and I haven't even fucked you yet. You want me to fuck you?" You bite your tongue from moaning his name, you were so desperate and each word that left his mouth edged your needy cunt.
"Yes, fuck I need you." He hums at your words, liking your response a lot. "Your wish is my command." Picking your body up, you gasp, laughing a little while picking up the bottle of wine. Jungkook's heavy hand slap your ass, rubbing it afterward with a pretty smile.
The playful mood that left quickly returned when Jungkook sang a song you two found comfort in. Hearing your room door open, Jungkook turns on the lights, plopping you down on your bed. Standing in front of you, he runs his fingers through his hair letting out a sigh.
Picking the bottle up from your hands he places it down on the mini black desk you own. Squatting down in front of you, your stomach itches with butterflies fluttering. Jungkook tilts his head, admiring your beauty once again. "You know Y/n when I do something I believe it can go as long as it wants. I guess that's why I keep asking you, do you want this? I don't want it to be like high school where we got drunk and made out. I want it to be where we fuck, we wake, we fuck again and I give whatever you want whether it being materialistic or not. I want us to go far but only if you want it to." You smile, nodding. Picking his left hand up, you press your lips against the palm of his hand. "I know what I'm getting myself into. I know exactly what I want, and I want what you want. I don't think what we're about to do is going to leave me thinking it was a mistake. I've always wanted this, whether it being a one-time thing or not." His eyes gleam at your words, but they also search for any worry.
Not finding anything, Jungkook places his hand on your cheek, pressing kisses on your skin. Leaning you back on the bed, a million thoughts that swirled in your head went mute when his lips kissed you, with passion. The kiss was better than the last, it always was.
Your melanin skin showed pretty against the soft cream-colored duvets. Leaning down to your nipples, his tongue flicks up, pushing your legs aside with his knee. Your hands make their way to his hair, twirling the soft curls that were starting to show. Dragging his teeth on your nipple, delicately. You moan his name while everything felt slow-motioned. Teasing your nipples with his mouth, you beg him to take his clothes off. You were growing impatient and you knew he secretly was too.
Watching Jungkook unbutton his shirt slowly, you decided to give him a show also. Groping your left tit, your hand moves down to your cunt, gently pressing your clit, your body jolts with a soft whimper leaving your lips. rubbing your clit in a circular motion, just how Jungkook did. He glares down at your cunt, unbuckling his belt swiftly. You stared at his tatted buff chest, moaning his name loudly. You begged him to fuck you till you could speak anymore and he stared. He enjoyed what you were doing, too much for his liking. Getting indulged by each other's drunken symphony.
Now only in his boxers, he gets closer to you, letting you feel small in his presence. Pulling to down, he tosses them somewhere, later to be found. Pushing you closer to the headboard, the bed dips as he gets on top.
"I love seeing you under me." You smile, pulling him closer, "I love when you're on top." You say, Jungkook lays his right hand on the headboard while his left hand aligned himself with your entrance. Teasing your slit with the tip of his dick, you grip the pillow under you tightly while he slides himself in you slowly. Tensing at how big his seized is, you two breathlessly moan.
Looking back down at you, his eyes warm up to the sight of your body. "You okay?" You mutter a yes, telling him to continue. Getting comfortable with his length, Jungkook pushes more of himself in you.
"God, you are so gorgeous." Your heart thumbs at his praise, feeling even needier than the last time. Jungkook starts to rock himself in you slowly, leaning in closer. The sounds of your wetness hitting his dick make you both moan. You moaned pathetically, while Jungkook repeatedly grinds himself in you. Hearing the bed squeak, Jungkook moans, groaning each time your wet cunt smacked against his dick.
"So good baby, so fucking good." He moans breathlessly, he continued to fuck you stupid. Placing his hand around your throat, you let a whimpering moan, his tight grip around you made you moan louder than the last. Drilling deep inside your cunt, you tear up feeling high off of ecstasy. Your eyes shut as pleasure took over Jungkook and you. "You feel so good around me, wish I could fuck you every second of the day, baby." You mewl at his words, "fuck yourself against me, baby, let yourself go." Moaning more at his words, you cry much harder, tracing small circles against your clit.
Feeling Jungkook's dick shove in and out of you while you fingered yourself kept you a moaning mess just for him. The combination was a desire you never knew you wanted. You had become obsessed with him. "You like it, baby? You like how it feels?" You moan, feeling his grip around your throat tighten a little more without realization.
"Yea-h feels so good." Jungkook continues to pound himself in you, constantly hitting your g-spot with no problem. Taking your hand away, you looked up at him, swirling your tongue against your fingers.
Jungkook throws his head back with a deep airy moan. Your tears continue to come while your moans left with each heavy thrust. Jungkook fucked you hard with love in the mix of it, feeling so high, you felt the known wave of pleasure crash into your body letting you know that if he stopped now your desires would never come true.
"Fuck I'm so close, J-Jungkook." You moan, almost screaming your words. "Hmm, so close baby, you can cum, cum all over me." He whispers, slowly easing you in your orgasm, you continue to whine under him, begging for him to cum in you. Jungkook urges you into your orgasm even more with slow paces. Feeling so weak, you squeeze onto Jungkook's bicep screaming moans, loud enough to wake your neighbors.
"That's it, baby, just like that." He moans, his thrusts become sloppy but consistent for your liking. Your sweet cum drips all over his dick and on the duvets. You look up at Jungkook, feeling his grasp against your throat go. With both hands on the headboard, you lift your hands, cupping his cheeks and caressing his skin with your thumb. Pulling him closer your lips come in contact with his, swirling your tongue around his, you smile in the kiss. "Cum in me." He groans loudly, eyes closing for a second. He was so close and you knew it, feeling yourself orgasm a second time, your grind yourself against his dick letting yourself become what he needed most.
Your moans intertwine with his, becoming broken with deep grunts. Fucking himself in you, he hisses, muttering incoherent words. Throwing his head back and moaning loudly, you feel him cum inside you, feeling the mixture.
Softly hitting your g-spot to get off his high, you whimper each time feeling very sensitive. Pulling himself out of you, he wraps his veiny hands around his dick, letting his cum hit your stomach. His eyes darken seeing his cum leak out from your pussy. You moan begging to taste him just at least once.
Jungkook gets closer to your mouth, lining his dick with your mouth, eyes begging to see if you wanted it just as much as he did. Opening wide, you lick his dick, sucking his cum just as you promised. Feeling him pull out with a 'pop' He stares at the cum that drips from your mouth to the valley of your breast.
Collapsing beside your body, Jungkook gets up again going in the bathroom as you watched patiently. Coming back with a wet cloth, Jungkook cleans you up with a simple hum. "Baby." He looks up, you half-nod stretching your arm to where the wine bottle is. Jungkook stifles a chuckle handing you the bottle, whispering a thank you. Jungkook wipes your face, then the valley of your chest, leaving pepper kisses on your skin.
Taking a waterfall from the bottle, you sigh feeling tired and free. After Jungkook cleaned you up, he places his boxers back and gets under the duvets with you.
Passing the bottle to him, he pulls you in his arms, resting his head on the headboard with you. Looking down at you while he sips on the bottle, he gives it back to you with a smile. "What?" The hidden playfulness in your tone makes his smile widen.
"I just can't believe it's been like what? Almost six years, and I finally did more than kiss you?" You smile, shrugging, "We've, or in this case, you've become more experienced with sex, hm?" The two of you laugh, sharing the bottle. "Question?" He asks, seeing his smile showing less your brows furrow, nodding. "Why were you crying when we fucked?" You bite your lip, laughing. "Jay, when I get fucked good I start crying, it feels good honestly." He shrugs, still surprised, and then smiles.
"You are something else, Y/n." He mutters, pressing a kiss against your forehead. You hum, getting comfortable on his body. "You too, you too, Jeon." He laughs, placing the wine down and pulling you closer before you two drift to sleep.
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lavishedinjimin · 24 days ago
Muse -> kth (art students! au)
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— synopsis: Out of all the things in the world, one final project at the end of the semester was the least of your expectations. What you didn’t expect, though, was partnering up with Kim Taehyung, the most respected senior artist on campus. But what the—he wants to do what with you?!
↳ pairing: taehyung x f. reader
↳ genre: f2l, smut
↳ rating: 18+
↳ word count: 17.4k
↳ warnings: dom/sub themes, virgin/corruption kink, unprotected sex, slight size kink, degradation, oral sex (m and f receiving), breeding, name-calling, faceslapping, ragdoll y/n lol kidding, Taehyung doesn’t care that OC’s a virgin, if you get what I mean, everything consensual
Reminder: Before you read, I just want to say that I am nowhere near an art student so some pointers, terms, or subjects that are stated on this fanfic might be incorrect or misused. I tried to fact-check to the best of my abilities haha! Enjoy!
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Giving the portfolio back to your possession, he speaks at the same time: “It’s still a suggestion after all. You can tell me yours if you have one.”
You chuckle at that. Little did he know that your mind was too busy overthinking how things stacked up instead of brainstorming an idea. Since you feel more comfortable with him than before, you tell the truth.
“I have absolutely no idea,” you snicker. 
“Yeah?” he smirks, nodding his head once. “I hate to say this, but this is the only concept I’ve got as well.” Taehyung sits down crossed-legged beside you on the bed, tapping his fingers on his pile of nude portraits. 
“Then I’ve got no choice but to say yes.” 
Taehyung feels his heart thump rapidly in his chest. 
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You sat silently at the very back of the lecture hall, sipping on your Iced Americano as you doodled aimlessly at the back of your sketchpad, listening to music through your headphones. The room was still empty, being one of the few ones to arrive early.
You jump when a hand suddenly smacks your desk, looking up to see who it was.
Lee Yeseul. You were tempted to roll your eyes at her, but you knew better. She leans at the back of someone’s chair, staring down at you with her signature annoying smirk. She touches her ears, wanting you to remove your headphones. Not complying with her demand, you continue to draw, completely disregarding her. You do not want to waste your time dealing with a bitch that wants attention.
Yeseul grunts in annoyance as she steps forward, removing the device away from your head.
You groan from her aggressiveness. “Hey! What the—” She throws your headphones on your desk.
She scoffs, “I was trying to talk to you, loser.”
You send her a glare, “I thought people like you don’t talk to losers like me.”
Yeseul was – as cringy as it may sound – your typical, spoiled brat in her class who bullies everyone for her gratification. She thinks that she’s the best artist on this campus and always discourages everyone below her. She’s a senior artist, and you were still a freshman. Plus, you are always unaccompanied and private, making you the perfect target. But you were smarter than other people. You didn’t give her the reaction and satisfaction that she needs, shrugging her away when she tries to make a move on you.
Adding to that, you liked to be alone. You like to think and create paintings on your own time and own style. You focused more on uniqueness and making your own color and design, while others just wanted their painting to be pretty.
“Leave me alone, Yeseul. You’re wasting your time.”
She laughs, tucking a strand of her ashy-brown hair behind her ear. “Whatever, Y/n. I think you’re the one who’s wasting their time drawing.”
Is she actually serious?
“Dumbass,” you mutter under your breath, not enough for Yeseul to hear. You still don’t look at her as you continue your little portrait of Captain America. “I think you’re forgetting that we’re both an art student, Yeseul. Get away from me and go hang out with your boyfriends or something.”
You hear her gasp, clearly struck by your words. Yeseul hasn’t got a boyfriend which was the point of your remark. She always tries so hard to seduce every senior artist, but everyone was clever enough to focus on their projects rather than deal with an annoying child like her.
“Oh, Y/n. You wished you never said that.” She spoke with a deep and slow voice, trying to intimidate you.
You chuckle as you place your headphones back, “Oooh, scary.”
Before she could even retort, you notice that your professor has come inside the room and you quickly discard your headset and shove it inside your bag. Yeseul scurries to her seat in the front row as other colleagues pack the room.
Normally, the freshman and senior artists would have their separate rooms and schedules, but earlier today, the head professor of the Arts District had announced all students to gather inside the hall. You didn’t know the reason why, or what she had planned.
“Everyone, take a seat please,” the professor beamed with a kind smile.
Unexpectedly, loud laughter resonates around the room as a group of boys suddenly enter, not noticing the professor in front of them.
“I swear, she looked like a deer in headlights when I said those words to her. Ten out of ten would do it again.” One of them says out loud, eyes disappearing from smiling too much. You chuckle in your seat as you sip on your coffee.
They all jumped simultaneously, turning towards the professor’s direction where she had her hands on her hips, clearly pissed. They bowed at her, stating their apologies.
“Kim Taehyung, still hanging out with these kids? I thought you’re better than that.”
Kim Taehyung, the top senior artist. All A’s, immaculate artworks. 
He has the highest scores out of everyone, his artwork better than all of the Fine Arts students. Tons of students really look up to him and almost praise him for his paintings. Not only that, but he was also Yeseul’s target. You flick your eyes in her direction, watching how she rests her chin on her right palm, staring at Taehyung in awe.
But in all honesty, Taehyung had the looks. He has slightly wavy hair, his dark brown eyes similar to the color of your Americano. His face was shaped perfectly like it was created by Aphrodite herself. You figure that he also likes to work out, his broad chest and shoulders were undoubtedly eye-catching as well. You lick your lips unknowingly.
He wasn’t a troublemaker, as you recall, though he only hangs out with such people. Whenever you see his artwork posted around the campus, it encourages you to put more effort into your work. He was just like you. He’s not following anyone’s lead, and he knows what he likes. He knows how to stand out effortlessly, and his paintings are one of a kind.
And still, there was not a single molecule in your system that had the courage for you to talk to him. No matter how kind and approachable he seems to be, you were still shy – and he was still intimidating. Not to mention his friends. You never had a good past with some seniors anyway – some of them had a mindset that all freshmen should ‘get on their level’ before they would talk to them. All of it was a bunch of nonsense.
Taehyung doesn’t say anything in reply to the professor, instead, he bows. All seven of them sat a few rows in front of you. You caught sight of Yeseul’s dirty look towards you. 
She’s so immature.
“Anyway, all of you are probably wondering why I brought you here.” You don’t notice that your coffee is already empty until you only hear slurping sounds, your straw trying to get more of the liquid. Frowning, you slumped your body on the chair as you listened.
The professor suddenly brings out a folder, making your intrusiveness grow wider. “I have paired every one of you to work on a year-end project for portraiture.”
You could’ve sworn you felt your heart drop to the ground.
“Each freshman will be paired with one senior, and the two must decide who will do the work.”
You hear recurring gasps and groans; agreeing to your thoughts. “That’s bullshit,” you heard someone grumble under their breath.
“Everyone, let me clarify. Since my class focuses on portraitures, one of you will draw, and the other one will be your muse. But I still should see the collaboration of ideas here.”
“No way, madam.” One of Taehyung’s friends quickly speaks as he stands up, making their group laugh, and pull him back down to his seat, patting his back.
“Yes way, Mr. Kim Seokjin. I want everyone to trust me with their partners. I know each of my students and I’ve paired everyone based on the similarities of your portfolio. This is to build everyone’s ability to work with a fellow artist, and to share ideas.”
You snort as she mentions all the things you hate the most.
“The pair who has the highest score will have their painting displayed inside the Fine Arts Exhibition building.” Your eyes enlarge, irises sparkling in abrupt desire.
The Exhibition! 
You’ve tried so hard to get one of your art exhibited inside that place. It was where some lucky students’ creations will be shown if their professors liked their work specifically, or if it stood out to them. It was almost rare for professors to choose art made by a freshman, but you wanted to change that. You received hope for this project all of the sudden, and the Fine Arts Exhibition was the only thing that’s currently driving you to your goal.
“And by the way, there are no limits for this project. Any concept, any art style is appreciated – as always.” 
Your professor was already announcing partners, and your heart was thumping too fast for your liking. You bite your lip from the horrible atmosphere, your palms getting sweaty. You acknowledge a lot of sighs and grunts when they hear their partners, and you just wish that you’ll get someone assiduous enough.
“Kim Namjoon with Sing Junghoon, Park Jimin with Yong Hyesa, Kim Taehyung with…” you didn’t know you were holding your breath as she flips the page.
The world feels like it was in slow motion.
“Kim Taehyung with Y/n.”
Silence fell inside the room once you heard your name fall unexpectedly from your professor’s lips. You hear a couple of murmurs and whispers as Taehyung swivels around to look at you. His eyes meet with your wide ones in complete shock. Taehyung’s face was not as different as yours; his mouth was slightly open and his eyes big. A couple of his friends look at you as well, making your face warm in embarrassment.
No fucking way.
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“You really think that you could work with her?” Park Jimin asked, still scanning the utter turmoil that Taehyung was in. Taehyung doesn’t reply as he keeps his eyes on you, eating your lunch with your friends. He sees how you weren’t keeping track of what your friends were even saying from being so immersed in your meal. Taehyung watches you flip your hair to one side of your shoulder.
“Hey,” Jimin nudges his shoulder.
“Sorry, what did you say?”
Jimin scoffs, “I asked you how you are supposed to work with a girl like her.”
He sighs, running a hand through his hair as he lets out a sarcastic chuckle, still keeping an eye on you. One of your friends suddenly snatches a piece of meat from your plate and runs away with it, instantly plopping it inside her mouth. You don’t even bother scolding her for it.  
Taehyung tilts his head to the side and clicks his tongue. “I don’t know, man. But we’ll see. I’ll figure her out.”
He turns to Seokjin, who was looking at him suspiciously. “Stop staring her down like she’s a piece of meat. What are you thinking about?”
“So how are you with you and Lee Minseo?”
Seokjin laughs at his attempt, shaking his head in disbelief. “You’re not so smooth, Taehyung. Anyway, Minseo and I have talked about it already. We’re meeting up tomorrow.”
Taehyung frowns, slightly jealous of his friend. Seokjin already has everything planned out when he doesn’t, and it was a first for him.
Normally, Taehyung was always the first one to have everything arranged. But he just doesn’t know anything about you besides being so introverted and shy. “You, go approach her, immediately.”
He turns to Seokjin while his eyes narrow, “Right now?”
“Yeah. Don’t you wanna finish this project as soon as possible? Taehyung, you have to know who you’re working with first. Y/n probably won’t make the first move, and I know that you know that.”  
Taehyung runs his tongue along his bottom lip, observing how you were nodding and smiling at your small group. He hasn’t seen any of your artwork yet, and he was curious.
Maybe it was just like his: distinct and unique. The kind where there’s no specific explanation to it, for it was open to interpretation. The words of your professor repeat inside Taehyung’s mind, and his body suddenly fills with optimism.
Seokjin laughs at him. He sees how Taehyung’s face changes with determination, knowing exactly what was going through his mind. “Go, Taehyung.”
He smirks as he slings his bag around his shoulders.
Who are you, and what do you like, Y/n?
“Why are you not excited about this, Y/n? You’ve partnered up with Kim Taehyung! Your work will end up inside the exhibition for sure!” Seoyun, one of the few people that you were friends with says with a huge smile on her face. You look down, blushing. You don’t know why but every time someone mentions his name, you immediately turn shy.
“I don’t exactly know how I’m supposed to feel, Seoyun.”
“Y/n, seriously, you’re so lucky. He’s the top student, and he’s also very tall and hot!”
You blush at Hayoon’s statement.
“But I mean, I understand that you’re shy to come up to him, but it’s for a project, Y/n. Don’t you wanna do this for the exhibition?”
You frown, “I do, but I just…I don’t know. Maybe I’ll try to talk to him someday when I get the confidence. Maybe.”
“Y/n…” Seoyun warns your name out loud, her eyes focused somewhere behind you. “I think that someday is today.”
“Nope. Perhaps tomorrow.”
Seoyun panics and grits her teeth as she speaks, “No, I mean, like right now!” 
You crease your eyebrows at her, “What do you mean?”
Your eyes followed where Seoyun was looking at and you turned around, almost shitting your pants as you saw the one and only Kim Taehyung behind you, smiling as he grips his bag straps. Your mouth opens as you try to speak, but nothing comes out. He was wearing a black button-up tucked inside black slacks. His hair is slightly wavy and long that covers the top of his eyes. His appearance up close immediately took your breath away.
“Hey, Y/n,” he smiled, eyes narrowing a little as he flashed you a cute heart-like smile. You could’ve sworn you heard your friends squeal just a little.
But you, on the other hand, start to panic. Were you supposed to stand up and greet him? Or should you just sit there and smile without being too obvious of your feelings? You remove your gaze from him and look down on the cemented floor as you try to find your words. 
“Hi,” you peek up at him. 
You can feel Hayoon stepping on your foot, making you screech quietly. She gives you a look that says ‘get a grip!’, and you try your best not to fuck up.
Taehyung chuckles silently and steps forward, making your heart race. He sits on the space next to you, letting his bag rest on the floor of the cafeteria.
You were too close to him at this moment. He never lost his eye contact with you – which made your chest pound rapidly. You nervously tap your foot on the ground, your friends clearly aware of your behavior.
“Do you girls mind if I sit here for a moment?”
They nod at his request, yet you were still there, sitting in shock and not saying anything. You let your hair fall to cover the sides of your face so that Taehyung can’t surely see you. 
“So, how’s everyone’s day?” Taehyung asks, turning his attention to the two other girls. They instantly reply.
“You just made it better,” Hayoon beams, leaning her head on her right palm. The way she was scanning him up and down was just too obvious. Taehyung only nods with a smile.
If other people saw what was happening right now; Kim Taehyung, sitting with three other girls during lunch break, would probably assume things instantly. You already sense people burning holes at your back.
“Y/n?” Taehyung’s voice suddenly says right in your ear while your body jumps in surprise. He laughs a little at your reaction.
“Don’t worry about her, Taehyung. She’s probably just speechless.” You narrow your eyes as you give a death glare to Seoyun. Taehyung’s lips curve into a smirk as he looks down. His hair falls right in front of his eyes and it almost gives you a small instinct to brush it away from his face.
“So Y/n, I came here to ask you something,” Taehyung speaks as he scoots closer to you. You gulp at the sudden proximity, wanting to move away from him but you were afraid to look rude. You don’t reply, so Taehyung just continues. “Do you want to meet up after your schedule? You know, talk about the project?”
You hang your head low as you try to find the correct words. Of course, you want to get this project done as soon as possible, but just being with Taehyung was too much for you to handle – or that’s what you think anyway.
“Of course she does!” Hayoon exclaims first but Seoyun stops her furthermore.
“Hey,” he whispers beside you. Taehyung wishes to place his hand on your shoulder to assure you, but he stops himself. Taehyung finds yourself so endearing, even if you weren’t saying much. He’s already so engrossed by you, but heck – he still doesn’t know much about you.
He admits to himself that you’re cute.
“What do you think? I mean, if you want we can talk tomorrow. I’ll give you your time if you’re not comfortable with today and I’m sure I can—”
“No! No, um. We can meet today.” You cut him off immediately, finally using your voice again. You knew that both of you wanted to finish this project quickly, so you don’t want to lose any more time. Taehyung flashes you a gorgeous smile as he lifts a hand in front of you for a handshake.
“Great! Let’s meet up at the main gate later when you’re done with everything.”
You shyly reach out to him and you clasp your hands together, his slender hand bigger in comparison to yours. “Nice to meet you Y/n.”
You force out a small smile at him, “You too, Taehyung.”
Your hands stay together for a few seconds before he retrieves his hand back with a little smile. He grabs his bag and finally stands up, “Nice talking to you, ladies.” He gives a final smile and walks away.
You look behind you, keeping your eyes on him, and watch how he brushes his hair with his right hand, throwing his head back.
Park Jimin, who is also one of his friends, was waiting for him and he gives Taehyung a fist bump. Jimin suddenly locks eyes with you and gives you an unsuspecting wink. Your eyes become big and you quickly look away, turning your attention back to the girls who were looking at you with a wide grin. 
You let out a deep sigh, your mind running with numerous thoughts. You were always like this; you tend to overanalyze things. The term ‘go with the flow’ wasn’t always a strong pursuit when it comes to you. There were times where you wanted to change this personality of yours and live life in the present, to stop yourself from thinking way too deep in the future, but change is difficult. You admit that you have problems with self-confidence, and you hope that you could change that.
Especially being partners with Taehyung. You didn’t want to embarrass yourself in front of him.
This is one of the reasons why you paint. It was always a contrivance to express your personality when your own words and actions couldn’t. You just bring out a canvas and some tools, and you can communicate your emotions.
You hope Taehyung won’t see you as weird. You hope he’d understand you.
Main gate. Main gate.
Did he already arrive? Or do I have to wait for him?
What if he doesn’t come and I just made a fool of myself?
Is it even three o’clock?
You bite your lip as you check your watch, and yes, it was exactly three o’clock.
What if I’m too early?
You groan at all of the thoughts that have been eating your mind. You grip the bag straps tighter as you keep walking towards the main gate where Taehyung told you to meet up. You hope that he’ll already be there because you didn’t want to wait at all.
“Y/n! Wait up!”
Oh, God. You knew who that voice belonged to.
You turn around and see a familiar ashy-brown hair, smiling at you. “What do you need, Yeseul?” You mutter.
She comes up beside you and smiles like she wasn’t just saying shit to you earlier at the lecture hall. “Where are you going?”
“The main gate,” you reply monotonously.
“Oh! Me too! Let’s walk together.” You sigh quietly, not loud enough that she could hear. You can already guess what she originally planned, and you were not prepared for it.
“How’s it like being partnered with Taehyung?”
You gulp, avoiding eye contact. You don’t say anything as you keep walking. “You’re one lucky freshman, Y/n. Are you and him close already?”
Lucky. You heard that word a million times today.
You shake your head, “I don’t know. I’m supposed to meet up with him now to talk about the project.”
“Oh,” she scoffs, “but I just saw him a few minutes ago! He’s still hanging out with his friends. They’re at –” Before she can finish her sentence, a voice calls out your name and you turn around, somewhat smiling in relief when you spot Taehyung, running up to you with a smile on his face.
Yeseul looks at Taehyung and then back to you, clenching her jaw. You wanted to laugh at her, but you prevent yourself from doing so.
Taehyung comes up to you with two Iced Americanos, “I figured that you love these.” You shyly look away from him while a smile creeps up your face, feeling your cheeks turn scarlet.
“You didn’t have to. I-I’ll pay you back!”
“No, please. It’s a gift from me.”
Your heart melts from his simple action, although you remember that Yeseul was still right beside you. She sneers at the both of you, “Wow, am I disturbing something?”
Taehyung turns his head in her direction, “Yes, you are.”
Ding, ding, ding! Knockdown!
Yeseul rolls her eyes and proceeds to walk away, but she was still looking at Taehyung, “Tae! Maybe you should buy me a coffee next time.” Taehyung chuckles as a reply, letting her walk away without replying. He looks back at you, “Sorry about that.”
Shaking your head immediately, you spoke, “Don’t be. You have nothing to be sorry about. She’s crazy.”
“I know she hates you.”
“You do? How?” You lift an eyebrow at him, and he smiles pathetically at you.
“She always talks about people she hates during class when the professor’s not around. It’s sad, honestly.”
‘Wow, she’s really living like that?’ You think to yourself.
Shrugging your shoulders, you say, “Well, she likes you.”
Taehyung laughs quietly, “I’m not into girls like her, Y/n.”
“Oh,” you awkwardly chuckle, “okay.”
Then what are you into, Taehyung?
You almost wanted to slap yourself from that stupid thought.
“Let’s go?”
Both of you proceed to walk towards the main gate, not knowing where he was planning to take you. Once you are out of the campus, he leads you to a shaded seating area where he and his friends would usually hang out.
He sits down and motions you to sit across from him. You obey, placing your tote bag beside you, a wooden table separating the two of you. 
Nervousness came to visit you again. 
Taehyung smiles, “So…” he takes a sip on his coffee, and you instinctively do the same. “How did you feel when they said that we were doing a project?”
You chuckle, looking away from him as you still couldn’t stare at his eyes for any longer than five seconds. “I…I was expecting it to be individual work. But when she said that we’d be pairing up with seniors, I was lowkey disappointed.”
He smirks at you, leaning his head on one hand. His strong gaze was directly on yours and you found it hard to speak when he was staring at you like that. You didn’t have much experience talking with boys, and everything was a new occurrence for you.
“What? Why?” He seems so intrigued, which pushes you to continue. 
“Well, I’m not really into these group projects and pairs… and all that. It might seem kind of shit to you but it’s just what I prefer.”
“No, it’s alright,” he waves his hand in front of him, “You can say anything and I’ll listen. I know people who are like you as well. They would rather work by themselves so they can work freely, is that it?”
You grin at him, the feeling of being understood satisfies your heart. “Exactly. It’s not like I hate people, or I don’t value their opinion or ideas. But if there was an option of working individually instead of with another person then I’d go by myself.”
Before you can forget, you seize your collection of paintings from your tote bag so that he can take a look at your artwork and style, handing it to him with a little smile. He gladly accepts the thick, black portfolio and puts it inside his own bag.
The corner of his mouth lifts, leaning his body forward as he rests his forearms on the table. There was a certain glint in his eyes that you can’t seem to comprehend. “Let’s say there was an option to go solo on this project, would you leave me?”  
Fuck. You don’t know how to answer that question.
You weren’t sure of your thoughts, too. If you said yes, you probably sound like you didn’t want to work with him. But on the other hand, Taehyung enthralled you. You want to see how things will turn out if you work with him. His works had a unique statement that only Kim Taehyung could create. You want to see how both your ideas combined will come to life.
“Well?” He teases, obviously knowing what he’s doing to you. He likes the way your face gets flushed in shyness.  
“No,” you giggle.
“No?” A look of bewilderment covers his face. He was sure that you would’ve chosen to go solo. He smiles as he squints his eyes at you slightly, “And why’s that?”
“Because I want to work with you, and maybe…” you pause for a while to find the correct words to say, “and maybe get to know you a little more.”
His heart quickly warms up, feeling the satisfaction from your answer. He felt the same way with you – and he was excited to work with an artist who had the same interest as him, hopefully.
“So, do you have any ideas?” You asked. You didn’t brainstorm on anything yet and all that was in your mind was working with Kim Taehyung. He smiles and leans forward, combing his hair back. “I want to do something different, something that I’ve never tried before.”
You chuckle, “I thought you’ve tried everything already, Taehyung.”
His eyes turn into slits as he laughs, showing off his teeth, “Not everything, babe.”
Your heart skips a beat as you gulp, feeling things that you aren’t supposed to feel.
“You see, there’s one type of painting that hasn’t been featured on the exhibition building yet. And you know what that is?” he asks, never losing eye contact.
“Uh…” you look up, trying to think as you imagine all the art displayed inside the exhibition. As you do so, Taehyung scans your face, taking a good look at you.
He wishes his plan goes well.
“I’m not so sure,” you smile lightly.
You crease your forehead when you notice that Taehyung was hesitating to say something, his eyes darting in different directions. The look on his face worried you. “Taehyung? What is it?” you lean forward in an attempt to make him feel at ease.
Your heart jumps when he finally locks his strong eyes with you once again.
“WHAT?” you fume as you slam your hand down on the wooden table, abruptly standing up from your seat. Taehyung anticipated this reaction, so he was calm. “You want to do what?!”
“Y/n,” he starts, urging you to sit back on your seat, but you still stand your ground. Suddenly, you remember that one of you has to be a muse; oh my god—this is a portraiture project!
“Y/n, Y/n, hear me out,” he laughs quietly, watching all the blood rush through your face. “It will be fun!”
“I am so not getting undressed in front of you, Taehyung! I know you’re attractive, we both get it! Sure, you’re fucking hot! But I’m not! I won’t show my body to you! Especially not for this project! No!” You stomp your feet like a child, pacing left and right as Taehyung watches you with an endearing smile. He tilts his head to the side, placing his chin on the palm of his hand. He examines you, eyes running up and down your figure as your words of abrupt compliments repeated again and again in his mind. He didn’t even notice that he was biting his lips.
“Sit down.” He says firmly with a deep voice, making your stomach turn.
Maybe it’s the coffee.
It’s definitely the coffee.
You gulp as you did as you’re told. As if you can’t get any more bashful, you turn your head away from him.
“I’m sorry if it was too abrupt, Y/n.” he speaks with a monotone voice and you can feel the timbre in your fucking tummy. “But I just think a nude painting will be a good idea, it’ll be unique, Y/n. No one has ever created art like that before on our campus. It will be the first. There’s no way it wouldn’t be displayed in the exhibition.”
He sighs quietly when you don't buy his pursuit.
“Sorry, Y/n. I understand that you’re not up for it.”
Wow. Is he guilt-tripping?
You grab your bag whilst standing up again from your seat. You see the shock in his expression. “W-Where are you going?”
“Back to my dorm. I need to think.”
“Y/n, please, let’s try this again, okay? Just forget that I even suggested it—”
You clench your jaw, gazing at him one final time. “I said I’ll think about it, Kim Taehyung.” And at that, you turn your back to him and walk away to catch a bus ride home to your dorm, leaving Taehyung and your empty cup of coffee behind.
And… something else.
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Taehyung hates the way he feels right now. As he slumps his body down on his bed, his body feels like it weighs a hundred times heavier. He admits that it was his fault; he shouldn’t have suggested that idea, especially to a person – to a girl that he wasn’t close with.
“I won’t show my body to you! No! Especially not for this project!”
Your words repeated inside his mind as if stabbing his idiotic brain. He picks up a pillow and groans loudly against it, closing his eyes in dismay.
“I know you’re attractive, we both get it! Sure, you’re fucking hot! But I’m not!”
Little did you know… little did you know that Kim Taehyung finds you attractive as well.
Cries of frustration leave his lips. The deadline of the project was next week and big activities like this should be planned out until tomorrow. God, what the hell is he supposed to do now?
Suddenly, his phone vibrates upon the pocket of his slacks. He picks it out and reads the I.D: Seokjin.
He rests his head against the pillow, answering his friend’s call. “Hello?”
“What happened? I saw Y/n fucking leaving you out there!” Seokjin laughs loudly, making Taehyung blush in embarrassment. “What the fuck happened with the two of you? It was like a freaking breakup scenario!”
“Hyung, stop laughing,” Taehyung sighs while rubbing his face with his other hand, “I messed up. I messed up so bad.”
Seokjin was still laughing at the other end of the call, cackling like a madman. Seokjin – knowing Taehyung – actually thought to himself that his plan would flourish. “Kim Taehyung, what the hell did you say?”
“Just… I just suggested an idea that she didn’t like.”
“Wow. That’s a first!” he snorts, “I can’t wait to tell the boys this one—”
“Seokjin, please. I don’t want to lose this.”
“You say that every time, Tae. And every time you fucking win.”
He thinks for a while, ignoring Seokjin’s voice for a short amount of time. His mind wanders off to somewhere else, going into a world of his thoughts.
“I don’t want to lose her.”
The line falls silent.
“Taehyung,” the older one says first, his voice now empathic, “what’s up?”
He doesn’t regret what he said, nor he doesn’t want to take it back. In his mind, Y/n was the prettiest girl he has ever laid eyes on. Sure, he did not notice her much before the announcement at the lecture hall, but at the exact moment they both laid their eyes with each other, he was starstruck by your beauty.
Taehyung’s idea of a nude portrait was initiated before the professor announced partners. He already had this vision even before he knew who his partner would be. If his partner were a man, there wouldn’t be a problem with that, he would still recommend the idea. But when Y/n’s name was called, he was deep down excited.
He, although, feels bad. You must have felt so flustered. He wishes he could turn back time and forget that he said that if your reaction was negative.
Taehyung understands your point of view though. He was a man that you don’t know, you two weren’t friends, you two weren’t close. He had only started talking to you today, and it was too abrupt for him to recommend something like this.
But despite the fact, he hopes that you won’t ditch him as his partner or go solo because he genuinely wants to work with you. Someone as mysterious and captivating as you shouldn’t be ignored and be overlooked.
“Taehyung, are you still there?” Seokjin’s voice snaps him out of the trail of thoughts.
“Are you okay? I think you zoned out.”
“Yup, I’m…I’m fine,” he takes a deep breath. “I’ll call you later, hyung. I need to do something.”
“Alright then,” Seokjin says, “See you.”
“See you.”
Taehyung throws his phone somewhere on the bed and is quick to rush to his bag that was on the floor.
He takes out your portfolio.
With careful hands, he feels his chest sinking. Why did he feel so upset? Flipping to the first page, a feeble smile paints his face as the first image was a picture of you.
He traces the image with his index finger, his smile growing bigger as he further examines your face.
“Beautiful,” he whispers to himself.
Taehyung traces your full name written in cursive at the bottom of the image. Was it weird to depict how someone’s name can fit a person’s character so much?
At the very corner of the page was your social media account, specifically your Instagram. Without thinking any further, he crosses his legs together and places the portfolio flat down in front of him on the mattress. Grabbing his phone, he types in your username.
“Oh wow,” he chuckles in delight, being more enchanted by your beauty. The pictures in your profile consisted more of your artwork, but the best artwork he saw was you.
Taehyung spends the remaining time of his afternoon examining and admiring your works. Mostly abstract and full of vibrant colors, just like his. Each one of your creations screamed your name. Your style was something else; and he truly believes that the two of you will make a great partner, giving and receiving tips and advice from each other.
It doesn’t matter that you’re still a freshman art student. Your art, in Taehyung’s opinion, is masterpieces that deserve a place in the exhibition.
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The next morning at school, you purposely avoid Taehyung and his group with your head low as you walk past them, continuing the journey to your classroom.
Jimin nudges Taehung’s shoulder when he spots you. Quickly, you scurry away from them.
“Umm…” Jungkook starts, looking at Taehyung with a confused expression. “You two still aren’t close?”
“Yeah,” Jimin buts in, “the deadline is in 6 days. Remember Taehyung, this is a big-scale project.”
“It’s seven in the fucking morning,” Taehyung grunts, “Can you guys not rub it in my face that I did a horrible job with Y/n yesterday?”
As the group of boys goes their separate ways, Seokjin sticks by Taehyung’s side. The two make their way across the green campus field. “You can say it, you know,” Seokjin speaks. Taehyung lifts a brow at him.
“Say that you like her.”
Taehyung’s mouth curves into a smile, eyes narrowing. “It feels unfair. She fucking hates me.”
“So, you like her?”
He groans, “I do like her.” A blush creeps up his face, lifting a hand to rub the back of his neck timidly, “I like her a lot.”
“Well, you reap what you sow. You better fix this before Y/n changes her mind and goes solo.”
But what Taehyung doesn’t know is that you truly have no plans to go solo.
You, on the other hand, were a mess last night. You wondered if Taehyung hates you, or if you looked like a fool yelling at him. But what’s more stupid is how the fuck you’re getting your portfolio back without it being awkward.
You couldn’t even at least spare him a glance earlier as you walked past him. How are you going to actually talk to him face-to-face?
Going to the café that you usually visit every day to buy your coffee, you were about to pay for your drink until two familiar faces ran up to you.
“Make those three cups!” Hayoon shouts and you immediately press your index finger against your lips, shushing her.
You turn your attention back to the lady behind the counter, “Three iced coffees please.”
“Sooooo?” Seoyun walks up behind you to massage your shoulders, easing the tension from your stressed muscles. “How did it go? You didn’t send us a text.”
“What, with Taehyung?” you say while your two friends follow you to sit at the nearest unoccupied table. They eagerly nod, excited for what you will say.
“Did you guys bond well?”
“At first, yes,” you say under your breath, avoiding eye contact as you do, “but, uh, he just said something I didn’t like.”
Hayoon and Seoyun gasp. They both look at each other before exclaiming, “What?!”
Seoyun brings his fist down on the table, “Did that motherfucker harass you—”
“No!” you quickly retort, shaking your head as your eyes fly to the other customers in the shop to see if they heard your friend’s harsh speculations.
Who's gonna tell your friends that Kim Taehyung suggested a fucking nude painting.
“I can’t say exactly what it was. But I need to talk to him today because I forgot I gave him my goddamn portfolio.” 
“Miss Y/n?” The bartender calls out your name, and Seoyun was kind enough to fetch it for you.
Hayoon was next to speak, “You guys aren’t getting along well?”
You shake your head ‘no’ as an answer.
“That isn’t good, Y/n. It’s either you both fix whatever happened or go solo. Would you rather go solo?”
“No.” You immediately say without any hesitation.
“Remember, Y/n. I feel like Taehyung is your golden ticket to the exhibition. Don’t waste the opportunity.”
Seoyun gives you and Hayoon your coffees before standing up.
After a little more banter, the three of you part ways, going to each of your respective destinations.
As the day went on, today felt like it was a thousand hours long. It was boring, and you thought that seeing Taehyung again would make things better.
No longer being mad at him for what happened yesterday, you had a goal to find him on this big campus. Students were either looking chill; calm and collected, or they’re speed-walking stressfully to their classes.
Though cliché as it may seem, art students are really competitive when an opportunity of their creation being displayed in the Fine Arts exhibition building comes to play. It makes them feel the gratification of a real artist.
You bet Taehyung has felt that a hundred times by now. His paintings being featured so many times in the exhibition really made him look superior and all-mighty, although his behavior did not reflect that at all.
He’s humble, unlike the other seniors.
Clutching your tote bag tighter to your side, you go to the senior’s building with the hope to find your partner.
As you step inside, instead of being greeted by a bunch of fourth years, right at the entrance was Yeseul getting too close with Taehyung.
She was putting her hands all over his chest, obviously making him feel uncomfortable by the look on Taehyung’s face. Why isn’t he pushing her away?
You grit your teeth together, storming your way towards them to rip Yeseul away from him; but she was quick to notice you.
“Oh, hello there, Y/n. Here to see your partner?” she snarks, wrapping her arms around Taehyung’s neck. She also dared to step closer to his body, almost inches away from touching. 
Oh no, she did not just do that.
You drop your bag to the floor, and in an immediate motion, you swing your arm up to her shoulder and shove her away from Taehyung. Her frail body jolts backward, almost losing her balance.
“Stay the fuck away from him.”
Taehyung’s eyes expand as his heart pumps rapidly. 
He did not expect that from you at all. 
“Wow, that’s fucking new!” Yeseul exclaims, “Y/n finally speaks! She speaks, everyone!” She looks around as if people are watching.
No one was watching. There was no one else inside the entrance hall other than the three of you.
“You see,” you were about to retaliate until Taehyung grabs your arm. You look at him for a quick second, ignoring the way his expression tells you to stop. “You see, Yeseul, I don’t waste my time with a pathetic girl like you. Always craving everyone’s attention. Do you think you're the shit? What if I tell you that everything thinks you're just a sad spoiled bitch that got into this school because of daddy, wasting his money by—”
“Y/n!” Taehyung retaliates. 
“Wasting his money by bullying other students instead of focusing on yourself? Just say you’re an attention whore and move on with your embarrassing life—”
“Y/n! Stop, let’s just go.” Taehyung says sharply as he immediately takes your bag from the floor with one hand as the other tightly clasps around your wrist. “Let’s go!” Taehyung yells before Yeseul can even process what you said to her.
But thank God a wave of courage dwelled up inside you to speak your mind and stand up for yourself from Yeseul’s bitchy nature.
Taehyung drags you out of the building, but your eyes never leave hers. “Fuck you.” You enunciate without sound after smiling like a little devil.
Nothing was more satisfying than seeing Yeseul finally speechless.
 It seems like you took out almost all of your energy on Yeseul because you nor Taehyung did not speak until he led you into a secluded alleyway in between two large concrete buildings. 
Unexpectedly, Taehyung uses both hands to hold onto your arms, leaning a bit down so that his eyes are at the same level as yours. 
“Why did you do that, hm?” he asks, scanning your entire face as if trying to figure it out himself. “Y/n?” 
Tilting your head to the side, you once again avoid looking directly at his eyes. You did not notice that you balled your fists beside you while the past image of Yeseul’s hands touching Taehyung comes to play. Your chest caves in and out, speechless. 
Taehyung then places his right hand on top of your head, patting your hair gently. “Talk to me.” 
Grunting, you finally look at him. “I hate her.” 
“I fucking hate her! I hate how she touched you! I hate that she has the fucking audacity to be all up on you! And I hate how you didn’t do anything to stop her!” Quickly, you press your hands against his broad chest and attempt to jolt him backward, but he is strong to stay still. 
“Shh, shh, Y/n,” Taehyung firmly holds your hand, catching your eyes fueled with bitterness. In an attempt to hide a smile, he purses his lips. “I’m… I’m sorry, yeah? I fucked up a ton. But you know what, Y/n?” 
“What?” you say with a sour tone. 
“I’m glad you finally stood up for yourself.” 
It was true. You felt a sense of relief once you’ve finally spoken your mind. Even though you said some horrible things to Yeseul, she deserved it. 
You take a deep sigh, resting your head on the concrete wall behind you. “You weren’t even pushing her away, Taehyung. What was she even doing with you?”
He bites the corner of his bottom lip when you aren't looking. He did not want to assume, but you sounded jealous. 
“Nothing, babe. She just suddenly came up to me.” 
You gawk up at him while a blush forms your cheeks. 
There it was again. Babe. 
Your eyes fly to his lips, then down to his chest, and finally to his pelvic area. Not even noticing that you’re staring way too hard, Taehyung coughs to get attention back. 
“Eyes up here, Y/n,” he speaks with a provoking tone. 
Slowly, Taehyung tauntingly smirks and you instantly feel butterflies in your lower stomach. 
“Uh, um…” you fake a laugh, “I just, I just need my portfolio back.” 
There was a seven-second silence with the two of you just staring at each other. You raise your eyebrows at him, waiting for him to talk. 
“I left it at my dorm—” 
“—You’re impossible, Kim Taehyung!” You gasp, about to walk away again but he was quick to stop you this time. 
“Come to my place, Y/n. Please? Let’s talk about the project there.” He pleads, his mouth almost creating a pout, “I’m serious. I really want to do this with you, Y/n. I don’t want you to walk away again.” 
All of those words from him, and you felt the same way. His hand crawls up your arm, causing little bumps to appear on your soft skin. Caressing your arm tenderly, Taehyung looks a bit sullen. 
“I’m really sorry about yesterday, for throwing you off like that.” 
“It’s okay,” you say genuinely. You have never seen Taehyung so upset like this. It was a strange sight to see, but you were happy that he’s willing to try all of this again. The feeling is mutual. “I’ll… I’ll go to your dorm.” 
That huge grin reappears on his face and it was enough for you to feel relieved and once again, charmed that he is your partner. 
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Following Taehyung's lead to his room, the halls were gloomy and silent, almost as if his dormitory was haunted. “I know what you’re thinking,” Taehyung smirks, looking back at you. “Too quiet?” 
“Yeah.” You giggle. 
“Wait until it’s midnight and you hear people fucking. Walls here are too thin.” 
You do not know how to respond to that as you attempt to stop yourself from blushing too hard. 
Taehyung’s room was apparently at the very end of the hallway and there was still a long way to go. As you trail behind him, you can’t help but stare at his broad shoulders. He was wearing a simple gray tee, and the thin material of the shirt provides enough to see the structure of his upper body. 
He had to be working out. He was tall as well. Whenever you talk to each other, you always have to tilt your head upwards for his entire face to be visible to your vision. 
Taehyung, as if he knows that you’re looking at him, combs a hand through his hair while throwing his head back. He does this a lot as you notice. 
“We’re here!” He exclaims, rummaging through his bag to get his keys. While you wait patiently behind his figure, the door parallel from his room opens. 
It was Jimin. 
“Oh, hey Y/n!” He greets with big eyes, surely not expecting your presence. 
Taehyung whips his head around. “Jimin, hi.” He sends him a certain look which you cannot decipher its meaning. 
“What’s… what’re you guys doing?” He looks down at you and a smirk slowly emerges from his face. You instantly look away. 
“We’re meeting up for the project,” Taehyung says for you as he fumbles with the key to his door. “Obviously.” He quickly adds. 
Jimin hums and leans his body against his door, eyeing you from top to bottom. Even though you were not looking directly at him, he can sense your awkwardness.  
“That’s all?” 
“Oh my God, shut up,” Taehyung chuckles, finally pushing the door open. He sees that you were, once again, hiding your face by looking down on the polished floor. 
Unexpectedly, he lays a firm hand on your lower back and pushes you in his with a slight force. Somehow, that simple action caused butterflies; a fluttering feeling inside your stomach. Your eyes widen as he guides you inside his dorm room. 
Taehyung sends a quick look at Jimin who was smirking at him the whole time. “Literally shut your mouth.” 
“I’m older than you.” 
“At what?” Taehyung snorts, “three months?” 
“Okay, so? I was born three months before you. So respect me.”
He no longer replies and shuts the door behind him. You stiffly stand in the midst of his room, scanning the area around you. His room was nothing but plain. But what shocks you the most are the scattered watercolor paintings scattered all over his wooden floor. 
Nude paintings. 
As if Taehyung was just playing with paint a few hours ago, these drawings were dispersed around the area as if he wanted to show it off. 
You stay silent, bashful. 
“Oh,” he finally speaks as soon as he realizes the situation. Quickly, he moves in front of you, kneels, and starts collecting the mess of papers on the floor. “I-I’m sorry, I forgot to clean these all up—”
“They’re so beautiful,” you insinuate, voice small. 
Taehyung feels a warm feeling inside of him, cursing at himself for even blushing at your compliment. Usually, he would feel proud and confident when people admire his creations, but with you — he turns shy. He continues cleaning the floor, picking up the watercolor papers. “Thank you. I… uh, yeah.” 
“No really, Taehyung,” you shake your head, “Can I see? Please?” 
Turning to you, he gives you a sympathetic smile, diverting his attention away from your twinkling eyes. “They’re not supposed to be seen, Y/n.”
You sit down on his bed as determination takes over you. “Oh please? I’ve never seen anything like yours. Please, Taehyung?” you fake a pout, hoping that he’d give in. He stares at you with his mouth slightly parted, “Please? You’re still my partner after all.” 
He sighs deeply, holding the stack of papers in both hands. He kneels in front of you, sitting on the heels of his feet, and eventually gives it to you. 
Not taking his eyes off of you, he studies your expression. 
With the look on your face, your sparkling eyes, your eyebrows adjoining together, watching the corner of your mouth lifting into a smile, Taehyung watches you in absolute awe. 
“These…” you whisper to him as you can’t seem to take your eyes off of his collection. “These are so good, Taehyung.” 
The paintings were colorful; they seemed messy but you can clearly see the artistic view on them. Though you can clearly see an abundance of women’s butts and boobs and nipples — that was all beside the question. 
“Is this why you asked me to do a nude portrait?” 
Taehyung’s mouth goes dry. He was expecting this question, although he still feels jittery. 
“Y/n,” he suddenly comes closer to you, “I’ve been having an interest in creating these types of paintings recently. I mean, a-as you can see here, I’ve been practicing.” Taehyung explains while releasing a quiet giggle. “I just thought it’ll be a good idea to, uh,” he gulps, “to make one… with you.” 
Taehyung tilts his head up at you, but before you could reply, he lays his hands on your knees. A shiver runs down your spine at this, wetting your lips. 
He looks so damn attractive up close. 
“Y/n, I want you to be my muse.” 
Taehyung’s eyes burn in desire, confidence building up in his system as he leans himself closer to you. He mutters the next words underneath his breath, “You’re beautiful, Y/n. So beautiful that I want to display your beauty to the whole fucking campus.”
Your body weakens. As the air between the two of you thickens, the whole world closing around you, you feel Taehyung run his hands up your thigh excruciatingly slow. With his eyes still locked on yours, time just stops and you allow yourself to get lost in his dark eyes. 
“You don’t have to hide, Y/n. You’re such a stunning lady, it’ll be an honor for anyone to have you as their muse. I am the lucky one, Y/n.” 
He speaks to you with such gentleness in his monotone, deep voice. Unintentionally, you bite down on your lower lip. Taehyung exhales a shuddered breath as he watches you. His eyes study your face, the distance between your eyebrows, eyes, he examines all the little things, even your impurities. 
For him, you were flawless. 
“You really do know what to say, huh?” you smile meekly, admiring him and his splendid soul. You feel so loved by him  – appreciated, even. 
“I’ve never been more sure of my words.” 
Taehyung gives you a final smile before standing up. You watch him walk over to his study desk where your portfolio lays. Letting out the breath that you were apparently holding in, you wipe your damp hands on your clothes. 
Giving the portfolio back to your possession, he speaks at the same time: “It’s still a suggestion after all. You can tell me yours if you have one.”
You chuckle at that. Little did he know that your mind was too busy overthinking how things stacked up instead of brainstorming an idea. Since you feel more comfortable with him than before, you tell the truth.
“I have absolutely no idea,” you snicker. 
“Yeah?” he smirks, nodding his head once. “I hate to say this, but this is the only concept I’ve got as well.” Taehyung sits down crossed-legged beside you on the bed, tapping his fingers on his pile of nude portraits. 
“Then I’ve got no choice but to say yes.” 
Taehyung feels his heart thump rapidly in his chest. 
It wasn’t like he was dying to see your body – no. His point was not to be a pervert. 
His point goes deeper than that. Taehyung thinks that this idea suits you and your aura perfectly. You were both dainty and mysterious at the same time, something about you is just so alluring and captivating. The way you look at him with those eyes of yours, you were like a magnet to him. 
Tempting, like he’d imagine the outcome of this painting. 
Taehyung’s left hand reaches out, hesitates and stops for a second, although it continues until his fingers lightly brush against your cheek. You smile, feeling soft from his gentle touch. He lightly tucks a strand of hair to the back of your ear. 
Those pesky butterflies just never go away, do they? 
“Besides, Taehyung, this is still a collaboration,” you abruptly stand up, facing him. A sudden burst of confidence shoots through your body as you hold his jaw in one hand. You giggle in amusement as you notice his eyes expand in shock. 
Leaning down to give him a provocative stare, you smirk, “You’re not the only one who has the say.” 
Watching him prod his tongue against his cheek causes your stomach to do backflips for the hundredth time today. He tempts you with his strong glare, gazing up at you with hooded eyes. 
He swiftly grasps your wrist, making you let go of his jaw. Raising his eyebrows, he replies with a bold tone, “I’m still superior to you, my little freshman.” 
You and Taehyung exchange numbers before you leave. You stand in between the doorframe, saying your goodbyes. 
“I’ll see you tomorrow at your place?” He reminds, his tall and slender figure towering in front of you. 
“Yup,” you say, grasping your portfolio in your arms. “I’ll be sure to text you my address.” 
Before you even have the opportunity to shut the door behind you, finally leaving his room, he refrains you from doing so. 
Your heart rate quickens. 
Turning around, you whisper, “Yeah?” 
He shows off his handsome smile, that same smile he would put on whenever he receives an award onstage for his incredible work. 
“Your art is magnificent.” 
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“He said what?!” Hayoon shrieks as you both walk to the main building. Seoyun wasn’t with the two of you because she was at her own partner’s house, working on the project. 
“He liked my art,” you say quietly, blushing as you reminisce about what happened yesterday. You remember his words, his alluring voice, the gentle yet strong gaze he was giving you, it all felt unreal. “He said it’s quote-unquote magnificent.” 
Hayoon gasps, putting a hand over her agape mouth. You laugh while staring at the pavement, clutching your portfolio tight. 
“What else happened? Did you guys—”
“—Y/n! Good to see you.” Your body jumps when a voice suddenly startles you. Looking up, you see the head professor of the arts district in front of you. She seems amused at your frightened reaction. 
“H-Hello, madam,” you politely smile, clearing your throat. 
The professor also greets Hayoon. 
“I’ve actually been wanting to have a little chat with you, Y/n.” She clasps her hands in front of her chest. “How are you and Kim Taehyung? Doing well together?” 
Hayoon purses her lips, looking away. 
“Um,” you laugh awkwardly, suddenly feeling hot. “We’re… we’re doing good.” 
“Any progress?” She inquires, raising a brow. 
“No, not yet,” you shake your head, “We’re going to meet up later though, finally start on the project.” 
The professor seems so engrossed in Taehyung. It became clearer to you that Taehyung was a bigger deal in this department than you thought. 
Her mouth lifts into a sly smirk, her warm eyes looking straight into yours, “I am looking forward to your collaboration with him, Y/n. You know,” she leans her body on one hip, “I trust my judgment with partnering the two of you together. Based on both of your work, I feel as though you and your senior will create an incredible piece of work. Don’t tell this to anyone…” she suddenly leans in to whisper. 
Your eyes turn to Hayoon, giving her a confused gaze. 
“I’m mostly looking forward to you and Kim Taehyung’s work.” 
And without saying anything further, she says a simple goodbye and walks away. 
She’s anticipating your artwork the most! How awkward can it be if she finds out that your planning to work on a nude fucking painting? 
“I- madam?” You immediately call out to her, spinning around. “You said that we are all free to paint whatever we want, right? As long as it’s a portrait?” 
“Exactly, miss Y/n. No further limitations than that.” 
As you say, madam. 
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The knock on your door startles the living soul out of you. You release a mantra of “fuck’s” in your mind, shaving the last bit of your leg hairs as quickly as you can. 
“Coming!” you shout from your small bathroom, hoping that Taehyung would hear. You angle your right leg better, tip-toeing on the toilet seat. 
After a quick minute, you clean yourself up and get dressed. You did not know how to act since it was the first time a boy came over to your dorm. Puffing out a breath, you psych yourself up. 
Twisting the doorknob open, you greet him. “Hey—!” 
Good fucking luck to me. 
Taehyung looks so good. He shakes away the hair that slightly covers the top of his eyes so that he can get a better look at you. He was wearing a simple white tee and sweatpants, yet you can absolutely see his prominent body through the thin material. Taehyung carries a large white canvas stuck between his arm and waist, a bag over his shoulder. 
He scans your body, eyes raking you up and down. 
The tension between the two of you instantly thickens. 
“Hello, my little freshman.” 
“Don’t call me that.” 
“I’ll call you whatever I want.” He speaks with an authoritarian tone, suddenly sounding serious and sharp as ever. You let him inside your room where you already set up a tarp on the ground. He sees that you have already arranged the living room, clearing the living room from all the unnecessary furniture. 
“So, let’s start?” he voices out without looking at you. He finds your easel and places the canvas on it. 
We’re suddenly rushing everything? 
He sees that you weren’t talking, once again, so he looks at you expectantly with a quirked eyebrow. The expression on his face made you feel small and intimidated. 
“I don’t know where to start,” you barely say through a whisper, fiddling with your clothes. 
His eyes narrow, tipping his head to the side a little bit, “Right.” 
You feel severely embarrassed. 
A good-looking guy in front of you, eating you up with his eyes like you’re a meal. You shuffle your foot against the ground, unable to form any words. 
Suddenly, he strides forward to you. You try to hide the way your body just instantly stiffens, but it is impossible. Your body reacts without your permission, goosebumps appearing when Taehyung places his hand on top of your head. 
He gives your head a couple of pats, stroking your hair right after. Taehyung leans down until his face is almost parallel to yours. His mouth grows into a little smirk. “My bad,” he mutters with a husky tone, “I forgot who I was working with.” 
Your mouth goes dry. What was that supposed to mean? 
Taehyung sits down on the floor, legs crossed. You copy him. 
“First of all,” he leads the conversation, which you thank the heavens for, “I feel responsible for your comfortability, Y/n.” 
Oh God, it’s starting. 
“You have to trust me, okay? I want to keep the professionalism between us when we,” he gulps, “when we start this. And by that I mean when you take your clothes off.” 
He ignores you, “I want this to be somewhat similar to the watercolor paintings you saw yesterday.” 
You muster up the courage to speak, hoping that your voice won’t fail you. “You mean, something contemporary?” 
He smiles, a proud look on his face. “Exactly. The painting won’t show your vagina, of course,” he nonchalantly says while standing up. How can he speak as if this is a completely normal conversation? “But, if you like, we can show a bit of your breasts.” 
“Sure,” you barely formed the word. 
“Great,” he fiddles with his equipment, setting up the scenario. “Take your time, Y/n. We have all the time in the world right now.” 
Taehyung watches you at a distance from his peripheral vision. He sees you taking off your shirt. 
He shakes his head, forcing himself to stay focused. “Do you,” he clears his throat, “do you have anything in mind, color-palette wise?” 
“Neutral colors.” 
After that, you take off your shorts. The only clothing left was your undergarments. 
You feel like you were giving him a striptease. The air kisses your skin as you become more exposed to him. 
You find it unfair; you’re going to get naked and he isn’t. 
“Feeling okay?” He asks, and you just respond with a quick nod of your head. 
“Um, do I take these off too?” you ask, referring to your bra and panties. Even though you already know the answer, you just want to make sure. 
Your heart jumps when you catch a glimpse of him biting his lower lip. Taehyung feels the need to get used to looking at your body because he’s going to do that for the next few hours or so. But he can’t stop staring at you. 
You exhibit breathtaking beauty. 
“Yes,” he answers while he applies a layer of white paint on the canvas. You watch him work his hands up and down, observing all his movements. 
A different aura replaces him all of a sudden. He was doing the bare minimum but he looked so sublime. 
But you stand there, not moving a muscle. You heard him loud and clear, although you can't seem to undress. 
Taehyung chuckles, still painting the canvas, “You want me to help you?” 
“What?” you blurt in shock from his sudden nerve. 
With that, he lays his eyes on you, unwavering. “You want me to undress you?” 
In a quick motion, Taehyung drops his brush and walks to you. You can immediately hear your heart pounding in your ears as he closes the distance between the two of you. “Taehyung…” you murmur, almost whimpering. 
The noise you made undoubtedly excites him even more. 
“Yea?” he says softly, “does my muse need help to get undressed?” 
Your body melts then and there.
Unknowingly, you nod. 
Taehyung watches your pupils dilate as you look up at him. You were driving him wild with just the way you were staring at him. 
“Is it okay to put my hands on you?” 
You blush at that, finding it cute that he asked for permission. “Of course.” 
Taehyung doesn't hesitate to put his big hands on your hips, feeling the material of your lace panties. He hisses, clicking his tongue. “Damn, babe,” he bites his lip again, “I know you’re shy, and I like it that you’re shy...” the pads of his fingertips tap against your skin, teasing you, “But for us to continue with this project, you have to let me see your body. You have to be comfortable with me, m’kay?” 
“But,” you hesitate for a moment, looking anywhere aside his eyes. “You’ll be the first one.” 
Taehyung creases his forehead in confusion, stepping closer until your body touches. “Y/n, you mean that,” he stops the urge to let out even the faintest of groans, “You’ve never done t-this with anyone before?” 
He looks at you with such care, not even a single spot of judgment written on his face. You don't even notice that his hands are crawling up and down your waist, caressing your body so softly until you feel those familiar cold shivers. 
You pry your eyes away, muttering a shy “yes”. 
The shine in Taehyung’s eyes diminishes, replacing it with a darker, more lustful shade. He holds your chin up with brute force, sick of you looking away from him. 
He didn’t expect to feel this way. So prevalent and in control of your own body, he feels a surge of power rush through him as he notices your face flush. “I hope you know you can’t back out now, baby.” 
“Take off your bra,” he states simply with unwavering eye contact. He was looking down at you passing the bridge of his nose, mouth slightly agape. 
He could’ve sworn he heard another whimper. 
Fuck, did that sound drives him crazier.
With his hands still on your waist, you lift your arms and reach behind you, your clammy hands unclasping your bra. 
Taehyung wasn’t apprehensive to stare at you anymore. He’s way past that. Not when you’re looking at him so innocently like that, your pretty eyes trying their best to gaze at him – he doesn’t care anymore. All he wants to do was fucking get this painting done and possibly fuck you. 
You slip the straps off of your body, dropping the garment on the floor. 
He unconsciously bites his lip, your breasts on display for him, like art in a museum. He chuckles when you let out a whine. 
“Why are they hard?” he teases, referring to your erect nipples. 
You did not know if his question was rhetorical or not. He steps away a little so that you can slip off your panties as well – and to have a better look at you. 
Is it normal for people to feel this way? 
Your body shudders from his cold stare, waiting for a signal to remove your underwear. Taehyung steps behind the canvas, eyes still on you. “Go on, I'm waiting baby.” 
That pet-name will be the death of you.
You hook your thumbs inside your garter and swiftly pull your panties down your legs. Lowering your head, you step out from the pool you made on the floor and toss it to the side. 
“Stop looking at me like that,” you murmur, tucking a small strand of hair behind your ear. 
“Like what?” 
“You’re basically eye-fucking me.” 
“Don’t you want that?” he grins cockily. His unexpected surge of confidence and the new atmosphere he has created in the room were making you breathless. 
You don’t reply, instead, you ask him what position he wants you to be in. 
“Probably on your hands and knees, but that’ll be too inappropriate.” 
“I’m kidding.” 
You swallow the lump in your throat as he directs you in a position on the floor. You sit back on your heels, arms resting above a wooden desk prop he wanted to include in the portrait. 
“Look at me.” 
The view you give him; your body’s side profile and your big, pure eyes, was enough for his cock to grow hard beneath his sweatpants. He curses, enticed by how beautiful and hot you are. 
Taehyung grabs his paint palette, giving you one final examination before swiftly painting the background on the blank canvas. 
“I can see that you’re holding your breath,” Taehyung says after a minute, “Relax, babe. You’re with me. You don’t have to worry.” 
It’s fucking happening. 
He was actually going to painting you naked. NAKED. Tits and butt out for the whole campus to see.  
You were hoping that once this painting is finished, no one will judge you nor Taehyung. You pray that they’re open-minded enough to accept a fucking nude portrait. 
Suddenly, an itch crawls upon your shoulders, and the urge to scratch it grows closer and closer. You scrunch your nose, waiting for the perfect time to do it. 
When Taehyung was more focused on the canvas, you remove your arm from its original position so that you can scratch your shoulder. 
He didn’t notice — yes! 
“It’s only been five minutes and you’re already itching?” he snorts, “want me to scratch your itches for you so you don’t have to move?” 
You roll your eyes, “That’s so weird.” 
“Whatever, Y/n. We can take five-minute breaks every twenty. What do you think? You won't be sitting there the whole time, I just need to do the background, a rough outline, and a sketch of you and we can take turns painting the rest after that.” 
You exhale a satisfied breath. “Oh thank God.” 
“Just don’t move so much.” 
What Taehyung wanted to capture was the innocence of your gaze despite the raw nudity of the painting. He was eager to deliver that there is always purity, gentleness, and chastity in a world painted in red. 
And you were being the most perfect muse he could ever have. 
Just like the painting: ‘The Girl with a Pearl Earring,’ Johannes Vermeer illustrated a mellow, warm aura surrounding the girl with such beguiling eyes, capturing everyone’s attention. 
Taehyung yearns to have that same effect with you as his model. 
“Y/n,” Taehyung accidentally says too adamantly, your shoulders flinching as an effect. “Keep your eyes on me. Got it?” 
“Why?” You ask, “Isn’t my nudity the focal point here?” you pronounce sarcastically, but your partner did not grasp that. 
“Not really,” he shakes his head, “you’ll see, baby.” 
You click your tongue, “Don’t call me that unless you’re planning to do something else to me, Kim Taehyung.” 
“Mmm,” he hums, running his tongue against his lower lip. He stops painting for a second, resting one hand on his hip. “That’s a bold statement right there.” 
“You’re not denying it?” your eyes enlarge, that small, weak feeling beginning to reappear once more. 
Without a response, he proceeds to his artwork with a smug grin. As he draws your body’s outline, applying shades here and there, depicting how the sun shines against your soft, supple skin, he tries his hardest to be focused. 
Every time he would glance your way, your eyes would immediately lock onto his. He doesn’t know if you do it on purpose, but those innocent eyes, he’s struggling because of them. 
You look at him so sweetly with such a pure look, despite the position you’re in. 
“What do you want, Taehyung?” 
He tilts his head, questioning, “Hm?” 
“What’s with that face? Do you… d-do you want me to do something else? Is there anything I should do to—”
“All I want is your lips against mine right now, Y/n.” 
How are you supposed to respond to that? Your throat goes dry, eyes instantly looking away from his gaze that suddenly turned dark. 
Suddenly, you hear the paintbrush drop down to the floor, footsteps coming closer to you. You hitch your breath when Taehyung crouches down in front of your body, placing two large hands on your skin. 
“Look at me, baby. Look at me the way you do with those pretty eyes.” 
Taehyung fakes a patronizing pout, holding your chin with two fingers. “There we go, you look so fucking beautiful like this. I couldn’t help myself back there, Y/n.”
“What happened to professionalism, Taehyung?” You muster up the courage to say, although with a small tone, you still made your point across. 
“Fuck that.” 
Without wasting a single second, Taehyung holds your head in his hands and presses his lips against yours. Feeling each other’s warmth and presence, you don’t stop him. You sit straight as Taehyung’s right hand slides up and down your back. 
“Kiss me, baby,” he mutters, “kiss me.”
There was nothing to lose, the painting was long forgotten as you press your forehead against his, deepening the kiss. Taehyung smirks from your neediness, your hands trying to find a place to stay. 
He runs a hand through your hair, massaging your scalp softly. You feel butterflies in your stomach when he groans, that deep yet hoarse sound arouses you even more. The hand that was in your scalp tightens, grabbing a bundle of your hair as he roughly pulls it back. 
You let out a moan, not intending to. 
Taehyung uses this opportunity to kiss you harder, sliding his tongue in. You whimper against the kiss, eyebrows furrowing, feeling him explore every single inch of you. 
Taehyung presses his body against yours, making you lay down on the floor with him on top of you. With his legs on either side of your body, he holds you in a trap. 
He feels his primal urge seething through his veins, gazing down at you with a heavy breath. He scans his eyes down your naked body, his tongue aching to lick every part of you, to claim you. 
You blush from his rugged stare, tilting your head to the side. You absolutely did not want him to see how flushed you’ve become. 
He releases a grunt as he places his hands on your hips, slowly going north. He feels the goosebumps caused by his touch, making him smile. “Is it too straightforward to say that your innocence turns me on?” 
You bite your lip, not wanting to speak. Your body already spoke measures and he can see your lust. 
“If you keep staring at me like that,” he leans his head lower until you can feel his breath fanning against your collarbones. He merely closes his eyes, “I might fucking ruin you.” 
“Then do it.” 
Taehyung hears you loud and clear, and he chuckles. Without expecting it at all, he reaches up to wrap his hand around your throat, squeezing gently. Your eyes expand, appalled as you emit a little mewl.  
“Tsk, tsk,” he licks his lips, feeling his underwear tighten beneath his sweatpants, “What is it with these innocent girls, huh? Always acting so naughty even though people barely lay a finger on them.” He watches your breathing getting heavier, your nipples getting harder as the air caresses your sweet skin. “Do you want me to touch you down there?” 
You bite your lip, nodding your head. 
Taehyung coos, “Good girl. But tell me with your words. Let me ask you again, Y/n. Do I have your full consent?” 
“Baby, you don’t know how badly I want this. I’m going to use you, I’m going to control your body as if it’s a toy. Do you want that? I won’t be done here if I don’t see you crying and begging me to stop.” 
“Taehyung,” you whisper, wiggling your hips in need, “yes, I want it. I want you.” 
Not even three seconds after you’ve said yes, Taehyung took the advantage to immediately press his lips against your neck, sucking and biting like an animal. You throw your head back in awe, feeling his warm hands gripping your breasts. 
He groans, giving your neck purple and red marks. “Already a whimpering mess,” he licks the skin below your left ear after noticing that it was a sweet spot of yours. You lift your hands up to wrap around him, but he was quick to put them together in one hand and pin your wrists above your head. 
“If you wanna touch me, you gotta beg,” he raises his brow, “do you wanna be a pathetic little girl and beg?” 
Teasing you, he runs his fingers down the valley of your breasts, leaving a trail of goosebumps behind. His eye contact does not waver until his hand is inches above your needy, wet cunt. 
“I love every single part of you, Y/n. The whole campus would be so jealous of me,” he winks at you with a menacing look, trying to lighten the situation up. 
“May I kiss you down here?” He barely says in between a low moan as his hand starts playing with your slick folds. “Please let me,” his eyebrows creases, “let me fucking taste this pussy.” 
Your stomach jumps at his cruel words, biting your lip to stop yourself from letting out an embarrassing moan. With a single nod, he dives in. 
And doesn’t go easy on you at all. 
“Oohh shi—” you squeal, hand flying to grab his hair right when his tongue dances against your sensitive clit. He looks up at you, analyzing your reactions. His wet tongue flicks against your bud, hands firmly holding your hips apart. 
Taehyung ruthlessly licks you like he hasn’t eaten a meal in ages. Truth be told, in his head, he forgot he was dealing with a cute little virgin pussy. He was too focused on his pleasure, too focused on the noises you made.
“Please, oh my God, s-slow down!” you yelp, trying to squeeze your legs shut, but he pries them open. 
He picks his head up for a moment to say, “Do that one more time, or else I’m not gonna let you sit down for days.” 
It took you a second to figure out what he means by that. And when you do – you feel yourself getting deeper into a subspace, something you have never experienced before. You feel ten times lighter, all with the help of Taehyung’s strong stare as if he’s turning into a different person.
A slow smirk dwells on his face. He holds your cheek in one hand, stroking you gently. 
“I love the look in your eyes, baby,” he murmurs, “so mesmerizing.” He distracts you with his words, making you lost in his dark irises. 
It was until he unexpectedly plunges a finger inside your soaking cunt, earning a loud gasp. Your back arched painfully, throwing your head back and Taehyung stopped himself from giggling too loud. 
“There, there,” he shushes, putting his lips against your neck, “You can take it, baby. Hm? It’s just one finger.” 
You hold onto his wrist, pleading at him with round eyes, “Please,” you mewl, “I h-haven’t – mmphh – done anything like this before!” 
“I know, baby, and it’s so fucking fun to torture you like this. Corrupt your innocence like this…” he slowly pumps his digit in and out, your wetness coating his slender finger. “I can’t even explain how good it feels for me.” 
Taehyung might sound arrogant, condescending even. Although he knows that this turns you on as well, he can see the way you were submitting to him. 
He feels your walls clench around him, making him hiss. “So tight, goodness. Gonna stretch that tight fucking cunt so good, so good around my thick cock. Uh-huh, you want that?” 
When he thinks you’re ready, he inserts another finger in. This time, he pumps his fingers in and out at a fast, steady pace. He hits your sweet spots so well, making you feel euphoric. Your eyes roll back, and Taehyung’s dick twitches. 
“That’s right,” he sighs, “stretch this little virgin pussy out for me, mhmm?” 
Taehyung does slight scissoring movements with his fingers then switching to repeated ‘come-hither’ motions. Your moans effortlessly flow out of your mouth, not ever thinking to yourself that you can create those types of sounds. 
“How does that feel baby, hm?” he licks his lip with his tongue, skilled fingers pumping in and out, stroking your g-spot. His ears perk up at the sound of you whimpering after he hits just the right place inside of you. “Oh yeah,” Taehyung chuckles, “that’s my spot. That’s the spot right there.” 
Your legs quiver, feeling a tightness in your lower stomach but you don’t say anything to him. Were you about to cum? Is this how you’re supposed to feel? 
But Taehyung knows. Taehyung can sense everything from you. He keeps his pace steady and is consistent to rub your good spot until your body experiences a gushing wave of bliss. 
Your sweet, hot moans fill his ears and it was enough to drive him crazy, his fingers soaked in your cum. 
“Good job, baby,” he snickers, caressing your stomach, “You came so good, so pretty for me.”
You feel so shy right after, though. Immediately, you raise your arms up to your face to cover your blushing cheeks, squealing. 
“Aww, baby, baby,” he chuckles warmly, “Why are you shy? You just came around my fucking fingers, Y/n. Don’t be embarrassed about that.” Taehyung uses a taunting voice, carefully moving your arms away. 
“You know what will help you get rid of that shyness of yours, huh?” he asks while standing up. Your eyes go wide as you watch his long, slender fingers playing with the waistbands of his sweatpants. 
You shake your head ‘no’ as an answer. 
“Kneel and take my cock out.” 
“But…” you gulp, “I’ve never—”
Taehyung leans down and tugs you by the hair, forcing you to sit up. He growls and drags you to a kneeling position. You wince and yelp from how hard he was grabbing your hair. 
“Did I say you can retaliate, huh? Slut?” Without any warning, he slaps your left cheek. The slap resonated throughout the quiet room, your cheek heating up from the blow. You wince in pain, about to rub your cheek to soothe the skin, but he was quicker to land another harsh slap. 
“You’re crying? Aw, so fucking pathetic. Maybe if you’ll do as I fucking say, I wouldn’t have to ruin your pretty face.” 
Taehyung feels like a different person. He stands tall before you, dripping in pure dominance. He watches your lips forming a pout, your hands finding their place on your thighs. Even with a bruised cheek and watery eyes, you still looked beautiful, and he loved the thought that you’re only like this for him.
“What are you waiting for?” he raises a brow, “fucking suck my dick.” 
Taehyung barely hears the whine that falls off your lips right before you hook your fingers under his waistband. Your face was inches away from the large tent in his sweats. You wonder deep inside your mind how big he was. 
Guess you were going to find out. 
He palms himself above his tight boxers, making his dick twitch from the needed sensation. “You see this cock? You’re gonna put this inside that mouth of yours, right baby?” he leans down, grabs your face in both hands, and says with a gravelly voice, “Suck it good or else I’m gonna use your mouth as my own personal fleshlight, okay? Now get to it.” 
Right after you try to throw your nervousness aside, his cock springs out from his boxers and the leaking red tip hits your face. 
Taehyung couldn’t hold back his groan from the hot sight – his dick, long and hard, right against your pure face. He tries his hardest not to grab his shaft and stroke himself already, feeling impatient, but it’ll all be worth it to see you gagging on his cock. 
With nimble fingers, you take his cock in your hands and stroke him gently, all while examining his face to see if you’re doing a good job. 
“Your hands are so small compared to my dick,” he chuckles arrogantly, stroking your hair away from your face, “Wrap your lips around it. God, do I have to tell you everything?” 
You whine from his degradation but obliged anyway. Taehyung lets out a long, deep grunt when you finally get his erection inside your mouth. At the back of your mind, you worry if you’re doing a good job. But looking at the way he was biting his lower lip, the way he was slightly bucking his hips forward, you thought to yourself that perhaps you’re making him feel good. 
You did not expect Taehyung to act like this at all, so incredibly overpowering, and someone who loves to see you tremble with only his filthy words. 
You try to suck on his cock, attempting to go deeper and take him further inside your mouth, but your gags are stopping you. Saliva drips down the corner of your mouth, eyes closing shut when his tip hits the back of your throat. 
Taehyung groans, eyes rolling back as the sensation of your throat closing around him so tightly makes him rock-solid. With a devilish smile, he pulls his cock out and grabs the shaft, “Fucking slut,” he slaps his wet cock against your cheeks, creating thudding sounds, and rubs the red tip all over your poor mouth. “Is my dick really that big?” 
“Taehyung please,” you whine, feeling the uncomfortable wetness down between your legs. 
“Please what?” he jerks his cock in front of you. “Wanna back out? You don’t want it anymore? That’s okay, you can just fuck yourself and make yourself cum. That’s what you want?” 
“N-No! No—” you quickly grab his thighs, “please, please help me.” 
“Help you?” Taehyung laughs before gripping your hair tightly, forcing you to tilt your head back in a painful manner. “Why? Is this not what you have in mind? Huh?” 
Suddenly, he slaps your face again. “You thought you’re gonna get good, soft sex for your first time? That I’ll go gentle on you?” 
He presses his tip against your mouth, forcing your lips to open. He then pushes his length deep, deep inside you, going past your gag reflex. You grab onto his thighs tighter, your nails digging hard onto his skin as you try your hardest not to gag so much. 
Taehyung holds the back of your head, a smirk creeping up his face all while he fucks your mouth. “Awh, fuck yes,” he moans, eyebrows furrowing together, “You really think just because I was sweet to you these past few days, I’m going to be the same person when I fuck you? Huh?” 
He thrusts his cock deeper, violating your already sore throat. Your eyes start to feel heavy as they close by themselves, causing more tears to drip down your face. “Oh, baby,” Taehyung finally gains the slightest bit of sympathy and pulls out. 
You harshly breathe in and out, your throat not used to be coerced like that. His cock was dripping in your saliva and you can’t seem to get your eyes off of it.
Taehyung promptly kneels in front of you and pushes you until you are laying back down. You shriek as he wraps his arms around your body and flips you around. The hard floor almost bruises your knees, but you didn’t mind because he quickly lays himself on top of you. 
He angles his head close to you until his lips are barely hovering on top of the shell of your ear. “Your pussy’s dripping down your thighs, baby.” You release a moan right after he bites your ear, your stomach doing backflips. “I want you to take my dick like a good girl, okay? And if it hurts too much, just say stop, and I’ll stop.” 
You can fucking feel his tip throbbing against your core. He teases your wet hole with his tip, precum leaking off of it. Your mind was clouded in desire, and all you can think about was how it feels to have cock deep in your guts. 
A string of curses falls off of both of your lips, his tip pushing in and it immediately stretches your walls out wide. You buck your ass up for him, and that action made him slap your asscheek. 
“Good girl,” he chuckles, “makin’ my job easier, huh?” 
He grabs onto your hips and you feel that painful stretch, whimpering and moaning out loud. “Tae, fuck,” you grunt, “you’re so fucking big.” 
Almost halfway in, he pulls out again, only to put his dick back in deeper. You throw your head back, mouth agape, completely speechless. Thanks to your sopping wet cunt, it relieved some of the pain.
He puts his right hand underneath you, reaching to grab your neck. His hair tickles your ear as he thrusts at a steady pace. His low grunts and whimpers can be heard, “Shit, Y/n. Only if you can see how wet you got my cock right now – fuck. This tight pussy fucking drips, baby. Mhmm, yeah, take that dick.” 
The way he talks dirty to you got you clenching around him. He was utterly different from the Taehyung you’ve first talked to. His hands grip your neck tighter as he goes in deeper, deeper, deeper than you’ve ever thought he can. 
“Holy fuck!” you clench your toes, “Taehyung, you’re so d-deep! I can’t…” you cry, body quivering as he ignores your cries, fucking you harder now.
“What? What is it, baby?” his balls slap against your clit, continuous lewd clapping sounds fill the area. You can feel him so deep inside of you that it feels unreal. You can feel the pain mixed together with pleasure, creating a weird yet a feeling so fucking good you don’t want him to stop. “I know you can take it harder than this. This little pussy can take it rougher, I know it. C’mon baby, be a good girl for me.” 
Taehyung stops for a second to flip you around again, your back pressed against the floor. Your mouth dries from the sight of him: his neck and forehead damp in sweat, lips plump from all the lip bites, eyes seeming so lustful as he looks at you with an animalistic gaze. 
A slow smirk reappears on his face, “God, you’re beautiful.” 
Then and there, he plunges his cock back in. “Ohhh there we go,” he sighs, “there we fucking go.” He had the audacity to laugh, giggling from the way your body was quivering. 
Taehyung lifts both of your legs up, placing them over his shoulders. The new position made you gasp, eyes wide, and his cock hit just the spot inside of you. Taehyung bites his lip, closing his eyes in pure pleasure. “Oh just like that!” you pant, hands finally having something to grab onto as your nails scratch Taehyung’s back. “Please don’t stop, Taehyung!” 
He puts his head at the crook of your neck, his lips attaching to your dewy skin to lick the sweat off of it. He was making you feel so fucking dirty, turning you into a completely different person. 
“You feel that, baby?” Taehyung asks, “feel how I’m burying my dick so deep inside your cunt? Nudging your fucking cervix with the head of my dick like this? Ohh, fuck yes,” he grins, seeing your eyes water once again, “No one will ever fuck you as good as my dick, Y/n. Fucking remember that.” 
Your body jerks back and forth from how hard he was thrusting into you, his hips colliding with yours with vigor. You have never felt so intimate with a person before, and this exceeded your expectations. Taehyung holds onto your breast, groping it hard before giving it a little slap. With each hard thrust, your moans simultaneously fall off your lips.
“Please, please, please,” you beg pathetically, “I think I’m going to cum.” 
“You are? Aw,” he fucks you harder, putting you faster to your climax, “My little virgin slut wanna cum on a dick for the first time?” How he can talk so straightforward like that without stuttering, despite the overwhelming euphoria he was feeling, was impressive. A knot inside your tummy grows bigger, feeling it snap anytime soon. “Cum all over me, baby girl. Make me proud and cum. Mhmm, that’s it, oh God baby you just got tighter.” 
You moan with each hard and deep thrust, your hair sticking to your forehead and neck, hands digging deeper into his skin. One final hit on your g-spot, you cum all over his cock. 
Taehyung praises you, watching your whole body shiver as he feels your cum spilling onto himself. He holds your face and presses his lips against yours, drinking all your whimpers. He smirks, finding you endearing how you struggle to kiss him back. 
“I’m gonna cum inside of you baby,” he rasps, “gonna breed you so good with my hot cum, you’re gonna take all of it inside that pussy.” His thrusts turn sloppy and it slowly loses its original tempo, trying to catch his own high. Just the thought of his cum spilling out of your pussy, white sticky liquid leaking down to your asshole was all it took for him to orgasm. 
He pummels his cock deep as hot ropes of cum spurts inside of you, filling your fresh womb. He grinds his hips hard, hands on either side of your head. 
“Oh my fucking God,” he says after a while of the two of you just laying there. He looks at your fucked-out face, giggling, “You were so good for me.” 
Taehyung had literally drained your energy and you lay there like a lone piece of meat. 
“Y-You’re,” you barely whisper to him, “you’re insane.” 
He chuckles, “I know right.” 
He sits up from the floor and analyzes your body. Your chest was still heaving up and down. As he drags his eyes down south, he notices your knees were bruised. “Aw,” he pouts, placing his hand on your knee and rubs it. “We should’ve done this on the couch, huh?” 
You roll your eyes, “I hate you so much.” 
“But did you like the sex?” 
You hate how you blushed at his question. A sneaky smile appears on your face, and that satisfies his inquiry. 
“Let me get you dressed up, baby. Let’s continue this fucking painting tomorrow or something.” 
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It seems like ages since you’ve been inside the lecture hall. The last time was when the professor announced partners for this project, and here you are, with Taehyung, all freshmen and seniors waiting for the announcement. 
Was the exhibition really a big deal? Some might ask. 
For others, not really. 
But for you, it may sound cliche, but it’s your dream. 
Although then again, the whole campus would see your naked body from you and Taehyung’s painting. 
Adjusting your posture on your seat, you release a ragged breath. Taehyung glances from beside you and places his right hand on your knee. He gives you a simple smile to reassure your nerves. 
“What does it feel to get your art displayed at the exhibition?” you ask him in pure curiosity. He must feel incredibly proud of himself, right? 
“Happy,” he replies, shrugging his shoulders, “and surprised. Look, Y/n. I don’t always assume that I’ll have the highest score. There are plenty of talented artists around here, there’s always competition.” 
“Who do you think is our biggest competition here?” 
Taehyung doesn’t answer you immediately, for he takes his time to scan around the area. The room was already filled with students, familiar faces. He chuckles, quirking a brow at you as he plays with his lower lip at the same time.
“Do you really wanna know?” 
You nod slowly as confusion settles in. 
“Aside from my friend, Jeon Jungkook, I think Yeseul has a chance at winning.” 
You feel a sour sensation in your stomach right after you hear her name being pronounced. You sink deeper into your chair, huffing, “And why’s that?” 
“She’s in my batch, babe, and she often gets the highest scores because portraits are her forte. That’s her strong pursuit.” 
Your eyes glance to where Yeseul was sitting, always at the front row, of course. She had her legs crossed, patiently waiting for the professor just like everyone around you. 
“If she wins, I’ll—”
As if on cue, the door bursts open and the professor quickly walks in with her assistant. Her assistant holds a canvas, showing only the back part so that it’ll be a surprise to all of you. 
Taehyung snakes his hand over to grab yours, intertwining them in his bigger one. 
“Great to see all of you here again,” she stands behind the podium, “Partnering all of you is a first in our department, and truth be told, I am astounded as to see the wonderful portraits all of you have given me. I appreciate the time and effort since I know that this type of approach is new to everyone.” 
“Can she just go straight to the point?” Taehyung whispers to you, making you giggle. 
“The painting I have here,” the professor’s assistant continues, “has reached the highest score and will be displayed in the Fine Arts exhibition building.” 
You look at Taehyung, who had such a strong gaze at the professors. His eyes were drawn into slits, biting the inside of his cheek. He seems so focused, eyes glued to the painting. 
After the professor’s cue:
1…” the canvas flips around. 
“Lee Yeseul and—”
“—Oh my fucking god,” Taehyung gasps, his mouth forms a wide, surprised grin. 
You feel as if a large boulder begins to weigh your entire body down. Your heartbeat starts to beat rapidly. Your shoulders droop down, tilting your head low. 
You hate to admit it, but you were disappointed. The most down you’ve felt in a long time. 
Watching Yeseul and her partner stand up to bow to the whole class feels as if your heart was a pincushion, being stabbed with tiny little spears. 
Awfully enough, you admit to yourself that their painting is exquisite. Figuring that she made her partner her muse, Taehyung’s words about her totally made sense now. 
“Well,” Taehyung chuckles, “better luck next time, I guess.” He takes the situation lightly, grabbing the straps of his bag, ready to leave. 
Until he looks at you. 
Good thing that the both of you are seated at the very back of the lecture hall and no one can see the way Taehyung tilts your head, resting his hand on your cheek. “Hey,” he softly mutters, “I’m proud of you, okay? So fucking proud.” 
You tuck your bottom lip between your teeth after catching a glance of Yeseul’s dirty smile towards you. 
“You’re still my little winner, m’kay?” he pats your head, “Remember that our efforts still matter, Y/n. Wait until I see that we got second fucking place.” Taehyung winks at you, once again trying to ease your tension. 
Once the students start to crowd the exit door, you and Taehyung stand up to follow them. 
Yeseul is talking to the professor, probably about the exhibition, when Taehyung pulls you closer to him. He leads you to the exit until you decide to turn your head around. 
“Yeseul?” you immediately call out to her without any second thinking, and she raises her eyebrows at you. 
Taehyung snakes his arm around your waist. 
“Congrats,” you smile as you keep up with Taehyung’s footsteps. 
That takes Yeseul by surprise. She opens her mouth but nothing comes out. Her mind goes blank. 
“T-Thanks, I guess.” She replies.
Taeyung laughs loudly once at the hallways, “Don’t tell me that’s fucking sincere.” 
“Definitely not sincere. Not sincere at all.” 
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Fast forward to three weeks, Taehyung had already graduated college, and it was the first day of vacation. 
After the whole portraiture project, it was finals season, and for you, that means cutting every social activity and focus on studying and paintings with deadlines. 
But Taehyung just knows how to get you hooked. He promised that he’d treat you to a date after all the events are done. He invited you to a classic dinner date, to which you appreciated him when he declined your offer to split the bill.
He’s a total gentleman, that’s one word to describe him. But as soon as the four walls of his dorm engross the two of you, pushing you against the nearest wall, that ‘gentleman’ title of him goes straight to the trash. 
Taehyung pins your wrists above your head, his mouth leaving wet trails of kisses down from your lips and to your neck. “Remember the last time we did this, baby girl?” he chuckles, whispering close to your ear, “You became my little plaything.” 
You scan the room as you think of something witty to reply. While his other hand crawls down south near your core, your eyes land on a spot above his study desk. 
The portrait. 
He displayed your nude portrait?! 
Taehyung notices your silence and follows the direction of where you were staring. He looks behind him, then back to you with a smirk. “Ah, yes. I seem to have forgotten to tell you.”
“You’re a little devil.” Your face heats up as you look at your own body unclothed. “I think it’s great that the whole campus doesn’t have to see our painting.” 
“Agreed. And now, your body is for my eyes only. You’re my art, displayed in my own little world.” 
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Tysm for reading! I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. 
If you enjoyed reading this fic, I would really appreciate reading your thoughts and reactions by commenting or sending an ask! Those type of things make me rlly rlly happy and they’re fun to read! 
Remember to hydrate ;)
896 notes · View notes
min-youngis · 26 days ago
Rubies and Roses -
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Kim Taehyung x Reader
Fluff, Humour, Angst; NC-17; 40k words
Strangers to Lovers, Fake Dating AU, Non-Idol AU
Swearing, Alcohol, Slow Burn, Mutual Pining, Emotional Constipation, Makeout Mentions, Implied Sexytimes
Being a fake girlfriend slash fiancée slash wife for hire is a very lucrative business, one which you’ve come to depend on to pay your rent and your student loans. It’s easy; all you have to do is smile, simper and flash a ring at a client’s nagging relatives or interfering friends. However, none of your previous clients have needed your services for three months. None of your previous clients have been Kim Taehyung, who wants access to his trust fund and thinks he can convince his parents that he can be responsible with it by proving that he can hold down a mature, completely normal and not-at-all fake relationship. And you? You’re a professional. A party where you dupe his friends, you can do. A brunch to convince his parents is easy. But this isn’t any job, and the boundaries between customer and something more are about to get increasingly blurry.
Spoiler Alert: The degree of fake-ness is inversely proportional to the amount of time you spend together. Also, there was only one bed.
A/N: i've licherallee never been to a lakehouse. you can pry the bff jungkook and hyejin agenda from my cold dead hands. there are like seven tropes in this.
i'd love to hear feedback, spread the love!
masterlist in my description.
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              When Jane Austen wrote what she did about the universally acknowledged truth, she probably hadn’t envisioned it being proven so fully in a scenario like this.
              Jackson bends his head down, lips close to your ear, body slightly tilted towards yours. To anybody watching, and there are a lot of people who fall in that category, the two of you would look like the perfect couple.
              “You did a good job,” he whispers, even as his hand respectfully moves to hover over the small of your back from their previous position wound tight around your waist – just possessive enough to seem loved up, but not so much that it feels uncomfortable.
              You’re about to reply – something along the lines of ‘I always do,’ but before you can say anything, his arm is wrapped around you again, and you’re gently but insistently tugged back against his firm chest. You know what that means. You’ve been doing the same dance the entire night – hell, the entire year. Taking a delicate sip of champagne from the flute in your hand, you plaster on a smile, summoning all emotion that’s possible when your feet feel like they’re about to fall off, and follow Jackson’s lead.
              The next victim of your joint scandalous subterfuge is an old couple, distant work acquaintances of Jackson’s father. You’d feel bad, but you’ve been around the elite long enough to know that nobody can be pitied; or worse, underestimated.
              The two of you go about the routine, tried and tested. He introduces you as his fiancée, you giggle at something he says and look at him like he hung the damn stars, and he finishes up with some variation of ‘She's made me a better man. I’m ready to settle down now.’
              They seem convinced, giving the two of you smiles and congratulations that you accept with minimal guilt, and then they’re gone as well, just another set of dupes in this elaborate plan.
              To his credit, Jackson isn’t the worst customer you’ve had. He’s charming and handsome, and you don’t even have to fake the laughter after his jokes, which is more than can be said of your usual clients.
              He steers you smoothly towards one of the various open doors lining the side of the room that lead to a balcony, his palm solid on your back in case anybody is watching, which is a more than reasonable assumption. You can feel eyes on the two of you, and for a second, it grips you, the vice-like fear that you’ll get caught and consequently won’t get paid for this job. But Jackson, smooth, suave Jackson, stops right before the doors, turning more fully towards you and bending slightly so he can whisper, “Sorry about this. My mom’s looking.”
              You’re not sure what ‘this’ refers to until he straightens up, his hand moving from your back to the side of your head so he can delicately tuck a strand of your hair from the elaborate do behind your ear. Somebody should give him an award.
              The soft smile you bear is more impressed than particularly touched. But whatever convinces his parents to stop asking him to settle down, you suppose.
              “Did it work?” you ask softly, your manicured nails unconsciously tapping out a staccato rhythm against the glass of your champagne flute as your other hand rests on your side, fingers occasionally running along the expensive, smooth, silk material.
              Jackson looks up, gaze flashing quickly back to you, and you can see a satisfied grin tugging at the side of his mouth. He really is quite handsome.
              Maybe if you had met him under different circumstances.
              His hand trails away from where it was gently rested on your neck, the calluses on his fingers, combined with the wind from the open balcony door next to you, leaving goose bumps in their wake. “Hook, line and sinker,” he mutters, before leading you out to your initial destination.
              He lets go the moment you’re both out of eyeshot of the guests inside the ballroom, moving towards the railings, his body visibly relaxing once it’s out of the spotlight. You follow suit, winding down slightly even as you know that the show isn’t over. The watch on your wrist tells you that there’s still an hour left on the agreement.
              “Thanks for doing this. I haven’t had such a peaceful dinner party in months. Only two questions about my future.”
              You chuckle, mimicking him and resting your forearms on the railing, the cool wind a welcome reprieve from the stuffiness inside. The balcony overlooks what’s been introduced to you as the family estate, and you can see small groups mingling in the gardens.
              “Is it usually this crowded?”
              “Not always. My mother’s been increasing the length of the guest list for the last two years or so. Partly to show off the fake hedges, but mostly in the hopes that I find a girlfriend.”
              It’s the same story in most of these families, you’ve come to realise in your long, illustrious career as a partner-for-hire. You don’t normally take an interest in your customer's lives beyond what pertains to the job at hand, but over the course of the last two hours, you’ve come to indulge in a cautious liking to Jackson.
              “There must be upwards of five hundred people here. You’re telling me that in the last two years, you haven’t found a single girl you’ve wanted to get to know?”
              He doesn’t reply immediately, his hand disappearing into the inside of his suit and re-emerging with a small bottle of vodka. Maybe he sees your eyebrow lifting up in subdued interest, maybe he doesn’t; but with a polite ‘May I?’, and on receiving your acquiescence, he primly plucks the nearly empty champagne flute out of your grip and places it on the ledge jutting out of the wall.
              Still, he doesn’t answer immediately, opening the bottle and taking a swig straight, going through the motions of disgust and relief from the sip before silently handing it to you. As you do the same, he replies, “I have, of course. I’ve had my share of fun. But I know what my parents will expect of me if I tell them that I found somebody permanent. And I’m not ready to take over the company until I explore my options.”
              “What about me?” you ask, passing the bottle back to him. Your throat burns in a continuously delayed reaction to the alcohol, and it tastes awful, but it still serves to warm you. “Won’t they expect you to do all that now, since you’ve introduced me as your fiancée?”
              “Nah. I’ll give it a few weeks and tell them we broke up. I hired you mostly to make them stop nagging.”
              “If you want me present for a staged break up, it’s an additional ten percent.”
              His shoulders shake as he laughs, his lips shiny from the vodka in the dim, yellow, ornately covered bulb on the balcony ceiling. He has a nice laugh, you think. Rich and pleasant to hear.
              “I’m good, thank you. That’ll be a pretty messy conversation, I probably shouldn’t put you through it.”
              You pass the nearly empty bottle back to him, watching as he finishes the last sip with a hiss. The buzz has taken up residence just below the surface of your skin, and you think that maybe, you might be able to make it through the next hour without wanting to stab somebody in the eye with your heel.
              But after tucking the empty bottle safely back into his jacket, he turns towards you and says, “Come on, I’ll drop you home.”
              “But your time isn’t up yet. You paid for three hours.”
              He raises an eyebrow in question, his face thrown into sharp definition as his strong profile is lit up by the bright lights spilling out from the ballroom. “Do you want to stay?”
              “Well, no, not particularly. But the payment is non-refundable and –"
              “Y/N, I'm not sure if you noticed, but the payment doesn’t mean shit to me. If you want to stay and be fake-engaged for another hour, then by all means, let’s go back inside and find some other relatives to fool. But we’ve already convinced the ones that matter.”
              You hum in thought, looking up at him curiously. “Are you sure? I think there was an aunt who seemed a bit sceptical.”
              “Trust me, we still have to make it through the farewells, and you won’t want to stick around once those are over.”
              He drops you off at your doorstep (his BMW looks obscenely out of place outside your student apartment), takes back the expensive fake-engagement ring with a polite ‘Thanks for helping out,’ and ends with a polite request for you to keep the fancy shoes and dress he had paid for.
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              “Dude, this is Versace.”
              “I am aware, yes. Are we out of cereal?”
              Hyejin looks up from last night’s dress that’s spread out on the small dining table as you continue to open cupboards in your shared apartment kitchen. “There should be a bit left in the shelf near the sink. Is he going to book you again? Can he book you again? Can you book him?”
              You snort as you pour milk into your bowl, getting a spoon and slowly taking a seat opposite Hyejin, careful not to rumple the dress as you place your cereal down a safe distance from the fabric on the table. “Yes, that’s exactly how it works.”
              She gives one last, long, sad look at the garment before folding it neatly and placing it on the table, and pushes her chair out and makes to get up. Even just after waking up, this early on a Saturday morning, her long hair falls sleek and shiny behind her as she makes herself a cup of coffee in between yawns.
              “What’s your plan for today? Any new clients?”
              Swallowing a mouthful of hyper-sweetened sugar cereal, you reply, “Nope. Need to catch up on homework. I have three submissions by tonight and I’m yet to begin two of them.”
              “And the one you’ve started?”
              “Twelve errors, last I checked. Bitch of a day. What about you?”
              She comes back, nursing her cup in her hands as she reoccupies her seat. “Once I’m done with this week's grading, I’ll probably head to the library with Jungkook. Want to join?”
              The grin you crack is more rueful than amused. “And have multiple breakdowns in public? I don’t think so.”
              “Suit yourself.”
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              You’ve just submitted your final assignment when you get the email, right before you’re about to close up shop and fall asleep. The clock shows 11:43 PM, and you thank Hyejin's miraculous TA manifestation powers for letting you get through another week without having to beg for an extension.
              Hello, the email reads.
              I hope this email finds you well. Or at least with an opening in your schedule over the next few weeks, because I require a fake-girlfriend. Is that rude? Would you rather I referred to you in a different way? I promise I’m not a creep. My parents just won’t let me get to the trust fund until I convince them that I can hold a relationship for more than a month because I need to be responsible or whatever. Again, I promise I’m not a creep. Just a drunk dude looking for a girlfriend. A fake one.
              Let me know when you’re free, and we can set up a meeting. My number is 765-785-5566.
              Hopefully eventually yours (again, fake),
              Kim Taehyung
              You have to read it thrice to comprehend the content, the words ‘trust fund’ catching your eye each time. Suffice to say, it’s easily the most weirdly worded request you’ve received in your career. And the shadiest. But also, possibly the most profitable, if it’s legitimate. But there’s an easy check. Your personal client verification system should be able to help.
              Are you awake?
              The clock reads 1:07 AM, but if there’s one thing you know about Jungkook, it’s that his peak starts at midnight. You’re hardly surprised when he replies in less than a minute.
              JK: ofc, what’s up?
              You know a dude called Kim Taehyung?
              JK: yeah, he graduated from here two years ago. he was my calculus TA a couple of semesters back.
              Oh. So not super old, then?
              JK: no, i don’t think so. just two or three years older than us. why?
              Without text, you send him a picture of your screen, incriminating email still open, and wait for his reply.
              JK: oh nice
              Yes, ‘nice’. Should I go for it? Is he a creep?
              JK: i think he made it very clear that he isn’t a creep.
              A creep wouldn’t call themself a creep.
              JK: a bad creep would
              Can you stop typing the word creep?
              JK: creep
              I will not hesitate to block you.
              JK: he isn’t a c***p. quite nice, actually. he does freelance photography, mostly to piss off his parents who want him to get a business degree.
              Oh wow. So he’s rich rich.
              JK: very much so. go for it.
              After receiving blessings so encouraging, in a matter of minutes, you’ve messaged the number in the email with a request to meet the next Thursday evening.
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              You can’t believe you’re going to have to fake date a rich hipster.
              That’s all you can think about as you hover outside the café, wondering if it’s too late to cancel. You’ve passed this place before, when you’ve had to walk across to the other side of the campus town. Always with the luxury cars parked outside and kids with fancy laptops sitting facing the window. You suppose it’s nice of your potential new client to suggest a meeting location that’s convenient for you, but you sincerely hope he doesn’t expect you to eat anything. Twice already you had to rethink this; once, the morning after you had received the email, when you remembered how unprofessional his request was, and the second, when he had proposed this specific venue for the meeting. But the words ‘trust fund’ served as a powerful deterrent from cancelling each time.
              You tug the strap of your bag up your shoulder and take one last deep breath before pushing the door open.
              You already know what he looks like. He had sent a picture of himself for easy reference, and Jungkook had very graciously allowed you to go through his Instagram so you could have some background, but even without all the preparation, there’s no way you can miss him. Not with the vividness of his hair, the blue sticking out like a fluffy, sore thumb against the backdrop of the muted brown walls and neutral toned décor in the café.
              He’s picked a table in the corner, engrossed in his phone as he occasionally takes sips from the cup in front of him. You’re the last person to get distracted on the job, but the careless elegance with which he sits, the hint of an attractive smile on his face as he sees his phone and the obvious effort that he’s put into his outfit makes you hope, just a little bit, that this deal manifests.
              But of course, at the end of the day, it’s about the money. There’ll be no compromises just because he happens to appeal to some of your more superficial sensibilities.
              He doesn’t notice you approaching at first, not until you’re about a foot away from the table and you clear your throat. Straightening up, he places his phone face down on the table and gestures at the empty seat next to you.
              “Y/N? Lovely to meet you. I’m Kim Taehyung.” His palm feels a little rough in yours as he gives you a polite handshake, his large fingers fully engulfing your own. His voice is the same colour as the smooth mahogany wall behind him.
              You reply with a small smile and a short ‘Likewise’, already pleased with what you’ve seen.
              “Would you like something to drink?”
              “I’m good, thank you.”
              Nodding, he leans back in his seat. “How long have you been doing this…service?”
              “Nearly a year now.” You search for any judgement in his manner, but you only find curiosity as he acknowledges your response. And then, with a jolt, you realise that the only thing you really have to care about is how much money he’s willing to pay, and it really shouldn’t matter what he thinks about your side-job.
              Taking a slow sip of his drink, he continues, “And you enjoy it?”
              You shrug. “It pays more than the on-campus jobs.”
              It’s nice that he’s trying to make conversation without jumping straight to the point of the meeting, but it hangs over the two of you, thick like a fog, and you see no point in delaying it any further.
              “It’d be helpful if I had some background about your situation, and why you needed to contact me.”
              “It’s like I said in the email. My parents don’t let go of the fund until I either turn 27 or prove to them that I can handle it.”
              Humming, you ask, “And what makes them think you can’t handle it?”
              “Beats me. I’ve been living away from home since I graduated two years ago on the money I make as a photographer, but if I want to actually create a brand, I need funding. And I can’t wait another three years for that.”
              “And you think a relationship would help convince them?”
              “It’s worth a shot,” he shrugs. “But it can’t be super short.”
              “What’s the timeline we’re looking at, roughly?” You have to keep the frown off your face. You can’t handle more than one client at a time, and the longer you spend with this one, the less opportunities you get for being paid by other potential customers.
              He winces slightly as he says, “Three months.”
              “At least.”
              You’re about to call it off then and there, ready to tell him to forget it, that it’s completely ridiculous and not at all feasible for you to be stuck to a single customer for that long, but in an instant, he’s talking again, and what he says makes you slow down, if just for a bit.
              “Money isn’t an issue. Just because I don’t have the fund doesn’t mean I can’t pay you well. I’ll even give you an advance. Or we could do instalments, every three weeks or so.”
              Dubious, you slowly lean back in your seat, not taking your eyes off him. You recognise that he’s desperate, that you’ve got the upper hand now. Calmly, you ask, “What are you prepared to offer?”
              He pulls a pen out of his pocket and smooths out a tissue in front of him. As he’s scratching out zeros, your eyes hone in on the expensive watch on his wrist. It had better be one hell of a sum he’s writing.
              “Is this okay?”
              The number on the paper makes your eyes goggle, but you know you can get more. If he’s willing to pay, you’re more than willing to take. The barrel of the gun loaded with your student loans stares you down as you pick up the pen he’s placed on the table, and make a modification. Sliding the tissue back towards him, you say, “Half in advance. And this is only final if we can agree on the conditions.”
              To his credit, he doesn’t seem too fazed by the figure. Easily, he nods, pocketing the pen and folding up the tissue neatly before placing it in between the both of you on the table. The symbolism is unmistakeable. No power to either party. He’s got terms too.
              You can recognise good business when you see it, and graciously, pulling out the Notes app on your phone, you gesture at him to start talking.
              He leans forward on the table, all seriousness now as his body loses some of the carelessness. His fingers interlock in front of him, nails trim and obviously manicured. “It isn’t just my parents we’ll have to convince. My friends too.”
              Your eyebrow cocks up, thumbs pausing in their typing. “You’re going to lie to your friends?”
              “Their parents know my parents. We can’t take chances.”
              Nodding, you let him continue. It’s none of your business whom he trusts and whom he doesn’t. If you have to convince his friends that you’re hopelessly, head-over-heels in love with him, then that’s what you’ll do.
              “Every other Sunday I have brunch with my parents. You’ll have to come for at least two per month. Deal?”
              “Deal, provided I get to choose which weeks.”
              “That’s fair. There’s bound to be a gala sometime in the next three months, and they’ll expect us to be present together. Can you handle extended family and friends scrutinising our every move, trying to catch us out?” He asks it like it’s a challenge, and you have to resist the urge to sound too cocky when you reply, remembering your previous assignment and how well it seemed to go.
              “It’s my job. I can handle it,” you nod surely.
              “Good.” You ignore the little trill that runs down your spine at his impressed tone, subtly shaking it off. “You’ll have to come to hang out with my friends too, occasionally. Not too often,” he continues, hands up and palms out to appease you as you open your mouth to argue that you’re still a full-time college student. “Maybe just once in three weeks or so.”
              Standing down, you hum in slow agreement. “Alright. Anything else?”
              “That’s about it, really. Just show up and play pretend, and we should be good.” He leans back on his seat, little less intense now.
              “Not so fast. I’ve got conditions too.”
              “Go ahead.”
              The folded tissue paper stares at you from the table as you begin your customary list that you give all your clients.
              “College comes first. If I have an assignment due and I can’t make it to something, or if it’s finals week and I can’t show up for your gala, you can’t pull out of the deal.”
              You aren’t sure why you were expecting it to be harder, but with an easy shrug, he replies, “Of course. Besides, I can tell them that you’re a college student anyway. Not an issue.”
              “If this is going to work, we have to pretend to know each other. I’ll need a list of details about your education, job, family. Basic relationship information.”
              “Likewise. We should meet again before Sunday.”
              “The first brunch.”
              Eyebrows furrowing, you utter, “That’s just three days away”
              “The sooner this starts, the sooner it ends,” he says in a sing-song voice.
              The wisdom in his words is obvious, but meeting again is impossible. “Fine, but let’s just do it over a call or something. I have classes and submissions this week.”
              “Alright,” he agrees simply. “What else?”
              “Physical limits. Hugging is okay, holding hands is fine. You try anything more, deal’s off and you don’t get any money back.”
              His reply is a little slow in coming, and it makes you wary. It had been going so well, too.
              “Absolutely…but won’t it be weird if I’m the only one who’s initiating things?”
              “How do you mean?” you ask, frowning.
              “If we have to pretend that we’re happy together, we have to pretend we’re happy together. It can’t just be me trying to hug you or kiss you while you stand there and take it. That won’t be natural. My friends, at the very least, will know that something’s up.”
              Stunned, you sit there as you re-evaluate all your previous clients. Of course, it hadn’t occurred to you either; you knew that you were just being hired to stand there and look pretty and dole out simpering looks and fake giggles. But none of them had brought this up.
              “Yeah,” you reply cautiously, still reeling from this revelation, all too aware of his concerned gaze on your wide-eyed expression. Shaking it off, you repeat, more surely this time, “Yeah, of course. What are your limits?”
              He doesn’t press you on your weird reaction, for which you’re eternally grateful. You can’t have him knowing that you’ve been a sucker this entire time. “Same as yours, I suppose.”
              You nod, back to professionalism as you continue making a note on your phone. “And finally, if you expect me to wear different clothes, or shoes, or any changes as such, you will handle the expenses.”
              The confused expression he sports in response is more than a little endearing, to your annoyance. “I don’t mind paying, but why would I want you to wear different clothes? Your clothes seem fine. Of course, unless you decide to wear leopard print to a fundraiser, then we’ll definitely need an intervention.”
              It takes you a minute to realise he’s messing around, and in spite of yourself, you can’t stop the small smile from appearing in your face. And you’ll take the compliment that your clothes are fine.
              His delightfully boxy grin is playful as he continues, “Of course I’m not going to tell you what to wear. But if you do need fancy clothes for the galas, I’ll definitely pay for them.”
              You think about all the expensive fabric you’ve got stashed away in your closet from your previous assignments, and reply, “No need, I can handle that myself.”
               He nods, setting down his cup from which he’s been taking sips periodically for the duration of the conversation. “Anything else?”
              The list on your phone says you’re done, and you respond to his question by silently closing the device and pulling the tissue paper towards yourself. You stick your palm out to him, and return his satisfied smile as he shakes it.
              “I look forward to our business together, Y/N. I have a feeling we’ll get along splendidly.”
              “Or at the very least, convince everybody else into thinking we’re getting along splendidly,” you reply, ever the optimist.
              “That’s the spirit.”
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              It’s widely accepted that a library is a place to be quiet. Turns out, Jungkook never got the memo.
              You ignore his hiss, pretending to have not heard him as you continue scrolling through the study material on your laptop and making notes. Next to you, Hyejin’s long decided to do the sensible thing and put in her headphones in an effort to tune out the man sitting on the opposite side of the table. He didn’t get the memo about how to whisper properly either, it seems.
              “If you keep ignoring me, I’ll…do something.”
              This time, you peek over the top of your screen at him, countering his claim with a single, unimpressed eyebrow lift, before dropping your head back down. You could say something snarky, like how terrified you are, or how you can hardly wait to see the ‘something’ he has planned, but that would mean you were engaging him. And you certainly aren’t about to do that.
              “Okay, fine, I won’t do anything. But can you just listen to me, please? I promise I’ll just plead my case one more time, then I’ll shut up and you can go back to your permanent hissy fit.”
              “I am not in a permanent hissy fit.”
              “Finally, she speaks!”
              At this point, you’re resigned to your fate. Exasperated, you nudge your laptop half-shut, let out a deep sigh so he knows how much this is costing you, and then fix your gaze on him, uttering in no uncertain terms, “I will not come to your weird sex club party tonight.”
              His eyes light up as he prepares to convince you. Where he gets the enthusiasm and optimism from, you’ll never know.
              “Ah, but that’s the thing. It isn’t a sex club party. It’s just a normal party, where the seniors and alumni can meet and talk shop. The fact that everybody gets drunk and hooks up with each other is inconsequential.”
              “I’ll go.”
              You turn your head towards Hyejin so fast, you nearly get whiplash. Betrayed, you harshly whisper, “Dude, what the fuck?”
              She shrugs, unfazed. “Could be fun. And it’d be nice to meet some people in the industry, make some connections for the future.”
              You can feel yourself slip. Crossing your arms on your chest, admittedly a little petulantly, you argue, “They’re only a maximum of three years older than us. How in the industry could they possibly be?” The air quotes are implied in your tone.
              You know how these annual parties go, how most of the ‘connections’ made are of the non-biblical nature, and how the chances of actually meeting somebody who can help you once you graduate are slim to none. A massive waste of time if there ever was one. But there are some alumni in your field who’ve made it, and who could potentially guide you. If they don’t get shit-faced first.
              You’ve made your decision, but you aren’t happy about it.
              “Fine. But when people start passing out, we leave. We find who we want to talk to, have a drink so it isn’t a complete waste, and then we’re out, okay?”
              Jungkook’s loud whoop gets dirty looks from the others trying to study on the table, but he remains unbothered, shooting them an unrepentant ‘Sorry,’ before he turns back to you and Hyejin.
              “You’re a menace,” Hyejin remarks, grinning in spite of herself. “What’s the sluttiness quotient of this party anyway? Is it super formal?”
              Jungkook looks horrified at the prospect. “Oh god no. Just think of it as a normal, college party.”
              Sourly, you grouse, “This is starting to sound less like a networking event and more like an excuse to get drunk.”
              “Now you get it!” Jungkook’s smile is delighted, cheerful in the face of your annoyed expression. “Lovely chatting with you ladies. I’ll send the details and we can meet outside at 7. Cool?”
              Hyejin answers for the both of you, as you’re only left to groan lowly in regret and foreboding. “Cool.”
              “This is going to be terrible, isn’t it?” you ask as you watch Jungkook hop up and scurry out of the room to escape the librarian who’s begun to angrily descend on the table to reprimand him for being loud and disturbing. You can sympathise with her.
              “It’s a party. They aren’t historically known for being bad.”
              “It’s an excuse.”
              “It’s a break, Y/N. I could use one, and you look like you could too.”
              You sigh in half-irritation, half-sheepishness. She’s right. You’re being a bitch on purpose. Permanent hissy fit, you hear in Jungkook’s sing-song voice in your head. “Yeah, okay. But I’m really not staying any longer than we have to.”
              She pats your arm soothingly as she placates with only a hint of patronising in her voice, “We’ll see.”
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              Whoever owns this house deserves a medal of bravery for letting in gaggles of unruly college students get sloshed in it. As you, Hyejin and Jungkook stand outside the large gates, people walk in around you. You can easily pick out the students and the alumni, the latter appearing more at ease and confident (and with fewer eye bags), but everybody looks laughably out of place in their short dresses and hoodies at the entrance of what looks more like an estate than anything. There’s a round water fountain and a drive way and everything.
              “Are you sure this is the right address?” But even as you pose the question, there’s no doubt in your mind about the veracity of Jungkook’s information. You’ve seen some of these people on campus before and the outfits indicate that everybody here knows how the night is going to end, regardless of how posh the venue is and how professional the get-together is advertised as.
              “Oh, this is definitely it. It’s always the loaded ones that host it.”
              Hyejin straightens the strap of her purse as she takes a deep breath in. As the three of you survey a group of students tugging in four large kegs, she absently hums, “I hope they aren’t too attached to whatever fancy upholstery they’ve got.”
              “In and out,” you mumble, more to reassure yourself than anything. You join the others and move towards the open gate.
              You know that you’re slightly late. 7 PM had become 7:15, which then became 7:30 because Jungkook couldn’t get his hair to stand straight, but even so, the size of the crowd surprises you a bit. It seems a lot of people had the same idea. A break. Not to mention the fact that the house (mansion, more like, you amend) has interiors that are more suited to the galas that you attend as a part of your side-job and less like a venue for the rager that this party is definitely going to end up being. The lighting is dim, and the music is those god-awful pulsing tracks on loop that you can only truly appreciate when you’ve got some alcohol in your system.
              The three of you make a beeline to the table with the beer bottles, each grabbing one before Hyejin leads the way to the staircases to get to the first landing, so you’ll be overlooking the rest of the crowd. Easy to survey and find the seniors you want to talk to. But the more people you encounter on the way, the less certain you become that any talking is going to happen at all. Already, in the corners, you can see bodies wound tight together. The music thrums and almost everybody dancing seems a little unsteady, already tipsy. All around you, there’s noise and chatter and the sound of glasses clinking, and very little of the conversations you manage to overhear seems to have anything to do with job opportunities.
              The three of you finally shove your way up to the landing, Hyejin’s hand in one of yours and Jungkook’s palm warm in the other so you don’t lose each other in the crowd. On finally reaching, you lean against the banister, taking in just how raucous it is down.
              “It really is just a party.” Jungkook seems a little awed for whatever reason, like he really expected something productive to come out of this weird final year ritual.
              You huff as you wince after a sip of shitty beer. “I fucking told you so, didn’t I?”
              Amused, Hyejin points at a table being carried in that has shot glasses lined up. “And it’s only about to get worse.”
              “There’s absolutely no way we’re going to find anybody we know in this mess, leave alone a specific person we actually want to talk to. We should leave.”
              “At the very least,” Jungkook begins, resting his elbows on the railing as he takes another sip, “we can talk shit about the décor, have a few drinks and then go.”
              Hyejin nods in agreement, settling as well against the banister. “We’ve come this far. Would be a pity if we only stayed for five minutes.”
              Sighing, you concede defeat. “The fact that they have two chandeliers in the foyer really is so pretentious.”
              “I think I saw gargoyles outside too, on the walls.”
              The three of you giggle as you think about how excessive and gaudy it all is, especially with the nature of the party playing out below.
              “I’d love to have some of that floral wallpaper, as a souvenir.”
              Before you can reply to Hyejin’s comment (with an emphatic yes, and a suggestion to use it in your own apartment as a joke), a voice comes from behind the three of you, making you whip your heads around.
              Kim Taehyung’s tone is unreadable as he asks, “Awful, isn’t it?”
              He’s got a half-full glass of something dark brown held in his hand, looking much more casual than he had two days prior at the café. The washed denim jeans he’s wearing with the plain, spotless white t-shirt on top are a far cry from his previous poised, chic outfit. But you pick out the details; the black nail polish, the neat ruffle of his bright blue hair, the many rings adorning his fingers that glint along with the metal of his watch, the Gucci belt. Effort. Suddenly, the well-fitted t-shirt looks very expensive. He looks expensive.
              “It is quite terrible, yes,” you smoothly agree, keeping your voice as neutral as he is, not letting any surprise show on your face.
              “It belongs to my parents.”
              You nearly choke on air, letting out a soft ‘Oh no.’ Next to you, Hyejin’s trying hard not to laugh, even now, in the face of extreme embarrassment.
              Jungkook attempts to salvage the situation with a grimace. Hurriedly, he says, “They’ve chosen some lovely colours for the curtains, and these marble staircases are very…shiny.”
              You could punch him, you really could. You know that they know each other, but only in the we met once and haven’t spoken since sense. This is going splendidly. Distantly, you curse yourself for not realising the possibility of Taehyung’s presence here. You had been so focused on the fact that this was going to be a shit-show, not to mention occupied with the thought of the brunch with the man standing opposite you and his parents tomorrow, that the chance didn’t even cross your mind.
              You ignore Hyejin nearly snorting on your other side and rush into action. You can’t be sure but there might be a small smile playing on Taehyung’s lips when you start talking. It’s gone as soon as it arrives. He continues to stand there, all long limbs and sharp angles, chin up in a carelessly arrogant manner that makes him seem a lot more imposing than you had thought he was. Silently waiting for an explanation, an apology, a defiant stare-down; you can’t be sure. You settle for an introduction.
              “Hyejin, Jungkook – this is Kim Taehyung. The…client I was telling you about.”
              “We’ve met!” Jungkook excitedly says, previous gaff forgotten.
              It’s like a switch has been flicked, and immediately, Taehyung is all smiles. His broad shoulders settle into a less threatening stance as he pulls a delighted Jungkook into a one-armed hug. “I remember you. How have you been?”
              As they continue exchanging platitudes, your eyes narrow in suspicion. Could that have been some sort of test? To check how well you do under pressure, under scrutiny? This new Taehyung, the happy, friendly one definitely seems more natural than the stern façade that was there earlier. Maybe it was an act, to see how you would handle it.
              You’re pulled out of your thoughts by the man himself. “How come you guys aren’t down there?”
              Before anybody else can reply, you stick your chin up to look him in the eye. You’re still smarting from his little challenge. “How come you aren’t down there?”
              “Can’t handle the wallpaper,” he replies easily. The twinkle in his eye serves to both annoy and soften you. “If I had known you would be here, I could have introduced you to my friends tonight.”
              And then Hyejin, who hasn’t said a word the entire conversation decides to open her mouth. “What’s stopping you?”
              It’s all you can do to not elbow her on the side.
              Taehyung has a curious look on his face, an expression of planning – nay, scheming is more accurate. Slowly, he asks, “Yeah, what’s stopping us, Y/N?”
              You have a hundred, no a thousand reasons, but you stick to the four most obvious ones. “This isn’t planned. First meeting was supposed to be with your parents tomorrow. I don’t want to go down there. It’ll be weird if I just show up with no warning.”
              Immediately, Taehyung begins to counter, checking off on his fingers as he undoes all your hard work. “It’ll be fun. It’s actually better if you meet my friends first, especially when most of them are too tipsy to notice anything suspicious. We aren’t going down there. I have given them a warning, I told them I’m dating somebody yesterday. And we can solidify the whole college thing by saying that you finished an assignment before you expected to, so you showed up last minute.”
              Jungkook lets out a low whistle next to you as Hyejin wordlessly has a satisfied sip of her drink. But you aren’t convinced. Eyes narrowed, you ask, “What do you mean, we aren’t going down there? Where are we going?”
              He hooks a thumb above his shoulder pointing towards the next flight of stairs. “Second floor. Exclusive for friends, less people, better alcohol.” After a beat, he continues, smirk playing on his lips, “Nicer wallpaper and no chandeliers.”
              You purse your mouth, trying to keep your laughter from bubbling out. If the look on his face is any indication, he definitely knows.
              The Hyejin-shaped devil on your shoulder hums and says, “You did come all the way here. Wouldn’t want it to be a waste of time, would you?”
              Internally, you grumble at her betrayal. Outside, you play your last card. “But what about these guys? I can’t just leave them alone.”
              “Oh, we’ll be just fine, Y/N. We’re old enough to take care of ourselves. Go. Have fun with your boyfriend.”
              “Client,” you grit out at Jungkook, who holds his palms out, placating. “Kim Taehyung is my client, who enjoys giving me absolutely no time to prepare.”
              Taehyung seems nonchalant about your obvious annoyance, his only comment being an easy, “When you do meet my friends, you really should just call me Tae. Slightly odd to be referring to your boyfriend with his full name.”
              You send a prayer up, along with a wish for the traitors by your side to be shat on by pigeons, before wincing through a preparatory swig of beer and squaring your shoulders, shifting into job mode.
              “Alright then, Tae. Let’s go dupe your friends.”
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              “Oh. You’re real. Guys, Tae’s girlfriend exists!”
              The weight of his arm around your shoulder is comforting, loathe as you are to admit it. But it’s the deep chuckle you hear near the top of your head, and the smell of his rose-scented perfume that really puts you at ease. You’re loathe to admit that too.
              “This is Park Jimin. Clearly, like all best friends and roommates, he has the utmost faith in me.”
              Your hand that isn’t tight around the beer bottle is gently lifted up as your new acquaintance swoops down to place a small peck on the knuckle. “Charmed,” he smiles, flirtatious grin and tone unmissable. You suspect it never leaves. Soon enough, he’s joined by another man, taller, who easily slings an arm around his shoulder.
              They’re all awfully touchy, you notice. If this is going to work, you’re going to have to be more obvious. Shifting your near-empty drink, you loop your free arm around Tae’s waist. If he’s surprised, he doesn’t show it; just takes another sip of his drink. The grin is seemingly permanent on his face as the new entrant begins to talk.
              “Kim Namjoon. Also surprised to find out you exist.”
              You shrug half-heartedly, in a sorry to disappoint manner. You know they’re joking, that it’s all in good fun, but just how averse to relationships is Taehyung, for you to be greeted with a reception like this one?
              “Truly, I’m hurt. Did nobody believe me?”
              This seems to be the cue for the next person to arrive. “We believed that you believed that you had a girlfriend. I’m Lisa.”
              “Y/N,” you reply with a smile, amused at the banter.
              The energy in the room can’t be more different from the one in the party you just left. There are probably around twenty people here, all lounging around in cosy sofas in small groups. The sound of easy chatter interspersed with laughter fills your ears, and the lighting is much better too. Instrumental music plays soft in the background, and there’s a shelf full of liquor bottles against the wall. Most of the party-goers have glasses like Tae, probably with whiskey or rum, if you’re reading the labels right. There are a few couples strewn around, sitting in laps, holding hands, and you catch sight of a group in the corner downing shots. It’s…easy. Warm.
              Kim Taehyung throws good private parties.
              You both fall into step behind Jimin, Namjoon and Lisa to a table in the corner, already occupied by two other men. On the way, he pulls you a little closer, angling his head so he’s speaking into your ear. His low timber makes a shiver run down your spine when he whispers, “You look like you’re taking inventory. It’s a party, at least pretend you’re having fun.”
              You bristle at his comment. Putting on your sweetest smile, you lift your neck as he obediently turns his face to the side to hear you better. “Don’t tell me how to do my job.”
              That grin reappears, the challenging one, and you aren’t sure if that’s a good thing. If he enjoys riling you up, you’re going to have a hard job of pretending to be his girlfriend. Maybe it was another test, to see how you would react. Either way, it irks you that you can’t figure him out. All your previous clients had been easy. Smile, giggle, get paid. This is uncharted territory.
              You don’t realise that you’ve both stopped walking, still trying to figure the other out until an amused voice breaks you out of your reverie.
              “If you’re done ogling each other, you can have a seat.”
              You and Taehyung are the only ones left standing in front of the table, the other three having sat down. You didn’t even realise that you had reached until Jimin had teasingly commented.
              You clear your throat, breaking away from the man whose grin has somehow grown, taking a seat at the corner of the couch closest to you. Half of it is already occupied, and it isn’t very large, and when Taehyung sits down next to you, his thigh presses against yours. You resist the urge to shuffle away.
              You let Jimin take the mostly empty beer bottle from your hand and replace it with a glass of whiskey. Already, you’ve staked out the people that you’ll have to be careful about. Taehyung’s best friend slash roommate has an easy-going nature about him, all sunny smiles and coquettish winks, but there’s a gravitas there; he’s much more than meets the eye. Namjoon seems harmless enough, but that might just be because he looks like he’s nearly about to pass out. Lisa is friendly, and your biggest problem about her seems to be accidentally getting too comfortable and revealing something yourself. That leaves the other two men whom you haven’t been introduced to yet.
              “This is Jin and Yoongi.”
              You’re the picture of polite composure. You play the part of nervous, new girlfriend being introduced to the friend group perfectly, but internally, you’re sizing everybody up.
              “We’re glad you could make it, Y/N. We didn’t think we’d be able to meet you till game night next week.”
              Jimin helpfully supplements Jin’s comment by saying, “But then again, we didn’t think we’d be able to meet you at all.”
              There’s an easy way about his voice as Taehyung refills his glass from the bottle on the table and replies, “I told you, she was supposed to be busy. Weren’t you, babe?”
              The pet-name throws you off, and it’s decidedly more about him being a little shit and less about the two of you playing relationship, but you don’t let it affect you. Your mask is firmly on now, and you’re on comfortable territory as you go about your job. “I was supposed to be busy, but my assignment got over early, so I could make it.”
              “Any regrets?” Jin asks. The implication is clear in his teasing tone. Any regrets about dating him?
              You don’t know where the courage comes from, when you decided that this assignment deserved more from you, but the next thing you know, you’re cheerfully saying, “None at all,” and swooping up to drop a quick kiss on Tae’s cheek.
              His eyes light up, recognising that you’ve taken him up on this game. In that moment, you swear something shifts. It’s still a deal, but it’s a challenge too. A competition to see how far you can push the limits before the façade begins to develop visible cracks. You aren’t a daring person when it comes to your job, preferring to do the sensible thing and just be in and out; but something about Kim Taehyung makes you want to win.
              His arm rises, slinging over your shoulder, tucking you in the crook of his body. He hovers for a second, letting you take the lead and tell him if he’s overstepping, but you don’t move away and just take a satisfied sip of your drink instead.
              The little display doesn’t go unnoticed.
              “If you guys are going to start making out, we’re kicking you out of here,” Yoongi absently observes in a bored drawl. But he’s entertained, you can tell. They all are. Good, you think. Let them think we’re one of those couples. As long as they think we’re some type of couple at all.
              Taehyung feigns hurt as he gripes, “You can’t kick me out. This is my party.”
              “We’ll manage. Y/N can stay.”
              It’s a joke, all in good fun, you understand that. But it warms you, this ready acceptance.
              The attention shifts to you now. You can feel eyes and burning curiosity, and patiently wait for the first question as you bask in the warmth of Tae’s body heat. He might be annoyingly competitive, but he’s one hell of a cuddler, you can already tell.
              “How did you guys meet?” Namjoon finally asks. It’s an easy one, predictable and planned.
              “Remember when I had to drop off some stuff for the college donation fund?” Taehyung starts. “I went to the café after. It was Y/N’s shift and she kept finding ways to come to my table.”
              That wasn’t in the story.
              Improvising, you quickly interrupt with a wide, hopefully fond, grin. “Because he sat there for so long even after he had finished his drink, and we were running out of tables to seat people.”
              You catch an impressed raise of his eyebrow, disappearing in a flash as he continues with a rich laugh. “And she wasn’t very subtle about it either. I left soon, but the next time I came, she was on shift again.”
              “Why did you go a second time?” Lisa asks curiously. You’re in the same boat as the others, waiting for his next sentence. The story went off the rails the moment he started it, and now you’re running headfirst into this blind.
              You’ve seen his polite smile, his cocky smirk, his cheerful grin; but this cheeky quirk of his lips, boyish twinkle in his teasing eyes is something delightfully new. He replies as he squeezes your shoulder gently, visibly, “Had to get her number.”
              You tell yourself that it’s natural, that when cute boys smile like that, all charm and teasing and flirt, it’s only normal for your ears to redden, your cheeks to heat up and for your heart to do a bit of a somersault. Objectively.
              Regardless of the cause, the consequence is the real clincher. As you hide your blush behind a sip of your drink, you hear coos around you, and isn’t that reaction what you were going for?
              Taehyung ducks his head, this time whispering much closer to your ear. “Impressively done.”
              You’ll let him believe it.  You’ll let yourself believe it.
              When that’s done with, it’s easy to move on to other topics. You know that it’s far from over, that the next time you meet them, you’ll have more questions to answer and harder questions to answer; but for tonight, they’ve had their fill.
              When you finally make to leave, pleading pending assignments and early mornings, Taehyung offers to walk you out. You wave at the others, nearly surprised at yourself for having a good time. The two of you make your way through the crowd in the ground floor, out the front door and across the lawn to the open gate, outside which Jungkook and Hyejin said they would be waiting.
              There’s no physical contact between the two of you now, no hands on shoulders, no palm in warm palm. He walks next to you, head craned up towards the starless sky, as you watch him out of the corner of your eye.
              “I’m sorry about the stuff I said about your wallpaper.”
              You don’t know where it comes from, but it does, and the next thing you know, he’s giving you that teasing grin again.
              “And the chandeliers?”
              “I’m sorry about the things I said about your chandeliers too,” you dutifully reply, now a little more at ease after finding out that you haven’t seriously offended him.
              “The gargoyles are terribly hurt as well.”
              Giggling, you turn around, walking backwards for the few seconds it takes for you to find the grotesque statues near the front doors and utter a heartfelt apology.
              “They really are extremely ugly,” he admits after a beat, making you look up at him. “I could never stand that wallpaper, and even I have to admit that the double chandelier is a bit excessive.”
              Curious, you pull your purse higher on your shoulder as you ask, “You don’t live here anymore?”
              He sounds genuinely horrified when he replies. “Oh, god no. Neither do my parents. It’s just in the family and we use it for events now. Nobody’s lived here in years.”
              The gate is just a few steps away, and you spot your friends standing in the distance, waiting for you. Jungkook waves and you wave back, letting him know that you’ve spotted them.
              “Your friends seem nice.”
              The smile you’re graced with this time is another new one; shark-like and a little terrifying. “Wait till you’re racing against them during game night next Friday. Can you make it?”
              “Too soon to say. I’ll let you know,” you tell him.
              “Alright,” he nods. “I’ll pick you up tomorrow morning. 11.”
              “11,” you agree. You stick your hand out, waiting for him to shake it. It’s a job after all.
              “Nice doing business with you,” he grins.
              Primly, you reply, “And you,” before you give up the game for the night and turn around with one last smile.
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              Kim Taehyung (Client): good job today
              I don’t get paid for nothing.
              You too.
              Kim Taehyung (Client): i should warn you, brunch with mr. and mrs. kim isn’t exactly as fun.                                                                           if it gets too much tomorrow, we can leave
              I can handle it.
              Kim Taehyung (Client): we’ll see.
              Another challenge. One might almost think that you’re enjoying this deception.
              Kim Taehyung (Client): just keeping things from getting too boring
              Or safe.
              Kim Taehyung (Client): touché. you don’t seem to be complaining though
              I’m complaining right now.
              Kim Taehyung (Client): would you like me to stop?
              Kim Taehyung (Client): just make some bird noises tomorrow if you want to leave before the main course arrives.
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              “Put this on.”
              His focus is on the road in front of him, sleeves of his formal shirt rolled up to the elbows as his long fingers absentmindedly tap a silent pattern on the steering wheel. Your focus has to shift from his profile to accept the tiny jewellery box that he’s handed to you without looking. The box is unlabelled; no brand, no maker’s logo. Again, the thought enters your brain: rich rich. Inside, there’s a silver necklace with a tiny square pendant set with numerous glinting stones that wink in the sunlight. Diamonds.
              As you gingerly lift it out of the satin padding of the box and lay it on your palm, he answers your unasked question. “They’ll be expecting it. The Kims like to stake their claim.”
              “How will they know that you gave it to me?”
              “They’ll find a way to bring it up, don’t worry.”
              Nervously, you push your hair to one side of your neck as you wrap the chain around, centring the pendant at the base of your throat, right at the clavicle before clasping it at the back. “Your exes must have been very lucky.”
              You revel in the easy quirk of his lips as you right your hair again, hands moving down to your lap to smooth out your dress. It had been another ‘gift’ from an old client for a lunch with his boss; a soft, pastel blue frock with a little satin clinch around the waist and a hem ending just at your knees. You suspect that once he got the guarantee for a raise after pleading family expenses, he had simply forgotten to take the dress back. You aren’t complaining.
              “It looks good on you,” Taehyung observes, darting a quick glance at you out of the corner of his eye, gaze focussing on your neck before moving back to the road.
              “Money often does,” you smile. “Now what do I need to know about your parents so I don’t fuck up?”
              Distantly, you know that the assignment isn’t for them to like you. It’s for them to believe you’re his girlfriend. But still, a good impression can’t hurt.
              He turns the wheel, pulling into a street of large mansions, not unlike the one you had gone to last night. Less gaudy and decidedly more modern, but no less imposing. “Ask them about the company. Compliment the food. Don’t mention money. If they ask about your classes, be as brief as possible – we don’t want them to get too curious. My father will want to talk about his gardening, so indulge him. And don’t mention my photography until they’ve had at least a glass of wine each. We have to stick around long enough for them to at least give us a chance to prove this is real.”
              You jot down everything he’s saying in your mind, ensuring that you’ve registered all of it. The car moves down towards the end of the road, stopping at the third last house on the right. The guards take one look at the sleek black sedan before they push the gates open, letting it in. There’s a driveway with a well-maintained lawn, tiny mushroom lights on the sides and colourful flowers bordering each patch of grass. Taehyung pulls into a spot a couple of feet away from the entrance, and before you know it, you’re both standing in front of the main door, wine bottle in his hand as the other wraps loosely around your fingers.
              There’s nothing in his physical manner that indicates nervousness, but you notice a slight tension in his shoulders and his usually easy smile is tight around the edges.
              Not so casual after all.
              You give his hand a gentle squeeze as you offer an encouraging smile. “Don’t worry, I’m a professional,” you shrug, eliciting a chuckle from him, his shoulders loosening up a bit.
              “This is it,” he mumbles.
              Unprompted, you take a deep breath in together before he presses the doorbell.
              “Tae! We’ve been waiting, what took you so long?”
              Mrs. Kim is an imposing woman. Her thinning hair is in a sensible bun at the top of her head, demeanour brusque as she sweeps her son into a quick hug. Her eyes are sharp, the wrinkles around them conveying more experience than age. The nervousness in your smile is only half-fake when you lift a hand up in a shy wave as Taehyung introduces you.
              “Traffic,” he shrugs, once he’s handed over the bottle of wine. “This is Y/N, the girl I was telling you about.”
              Her handshake is firm, but her expression is kind as she smiles. “We’ve heard quite a bit about you. Come to the backyard, we’ve set up there. Such lovely weather today, we just had to go outside.”
              You had planned a whole ‘Lovely to meet you, Mrs. Kim’ and ‘What a beautiful house you have, Mrs. Kim’ routine, but without a breath to let you get anything in edgewise, she’s turned around, leading you through the house. You feel a squeeze on your fingers and look up to see Taehyung’s trademark smirk that you’re quickly getting tired of.
              A challenge. His mother is the test.
              It’d be so easy to just let it go. To say nothing, to only speak when you’re spoken to and be silent when you aren’t, but you can’t let this go. As you take in the high ceiling and the paintings on the walls, the wooden upholstery and the sheer curtains, you truthfully say to the back of her head, “This is a lovely home, Mrs. Kim.”
              “Oh, thank you, Y/N. It is quite nice, but just a little big for two people. If only we had a son who didn’t move out, this would have been much cosier.”
              Undeterred, you press on, ignoring Taehyung’s sharp look as you begin to lie through your teeth. “Would you believe me if I told you how excited he was on the way over? Wouldn’t stop talking about how much he misses this house. And rightfully so.”
              “There’s an easy fix for that.” But you detect appeasement in her tone, directly contrasting her pointed words.
              Satisfied, you grin at the man next to you as he gives you an impressed look. This is a win in your books.
              Both of you step outside to the patio behind your hostess, making your way to the table set up in the middle of the neatly trimmed grass lawn that’s filled with food. There’s a running cascade against the compound wall on the side, water splashing softly into the pond below, and with the sun shining just so, it’s all incredibly ideal. Except for the stern looking man standing next to the table.
              Test number two? Something about the subtle tightening of Taehyung’s grip tells you that he doesn’t joke around when his father is concerned.
              “Tae,” the man says shortly, nodding in greeting. “Didn’t think you’d show up today.”
              The transformation is eerie. The easy manner is gone, ready smile replaced by a blank expression as Taehyung replies, “I wonder why.”
              You suspect this is normal, if Mrs. Kim’s relaxed manner is anything to go by; but the tension in the air is palpable. You almost regret whatever white knight streak you have that makes you jump head first into situations like this, but you don’t like it when your fake-boyfriend looks like a storm cloud about to burst.
              “Hello, Mr. Kim. I’m Y/N, Taehyung’s girlfriend.”
              He grunts as he grips your palm, making an effort to smile and be polite. At least he doesn’t seem to have a problem with me, you think. Yet.
              The four of you take your seats in silence, parents sitting opposite the two of you. You’ve got an eye on the entrance back to the house. You hope you won’t need it, but you always appreciate knowing the escape routes.
              The atmosphere is stifling as all three of the Kims sit mute. Praying that they don’t see it as a rude overstep, you lift the wine bottle you had bought, opening it as you cheerfully say, “The bougainvillea at the front seem to be growing well this season, Mr. Kim. Do you use a special fertiliser?”
              You can feel Taehyung’s hard stare at the side of your head as you pour out portions of dark purple liquid into everybody’s glasses, but you ignore it. This isn’t about him. This is about the job.
              “Just a regular, water-balanced formula once a week.”
              It’s a short reply, but a reply nonetheless.
              You plod on. “I’ve heard that they’re demanding plants. You must be very experienced to be able to grow them so healthy.”
              He grunts again, but there’s a smile growing on his lips that he hides behind his glass. Inside, you crow at the small victory. Just like that, Mrs. Kim begins to talk, asking you about what you do. Flattery will get you everywhere; it’s a lesson you had learnt early in your career.
              You easily carry on the conversation, steering away from the topics you had been warned about in the car. Taehyung sits mostly quiet next to you, but he does speak once in a while, to help you veer away from sticky topics that might lead to an argument. You’ve never played mediator more successfully, making sure to offer Mr. Kim more bread when he gets that bullish look on his face like he’s about to start a confrontation, and enthusiastically gushing over the necklace you’re wearing when Mrs. Kim seems like she’s about to say something sneaky.
              The problem arises just when you’re about to let out a sigh of relief, thinking the worst of it is over. You do have a cinnamon roll in your hand. That should mean you’re nearly done, right?
              “How’s your job going, Tae?”
              An innocent enough question, but there’s an underlying sinister tone in Mr. Kim’s voice. The air slowly begins to crackle, like a distant thunderstorm.
              To his credit, Taehyung doesn’t engage immediately. Perfectly civil, almost too properly, he replies, “Good. I have an exhibition coming up next weekend.”
              “For people to pay you for clicking a button?”
              His jaw tightens. “The photographs aren’t for sale.”
              “Great, you aren’t even getting paid.”
              There’s danger in Taehyung’s gritted teeth, and it’s echoed in the clench of his fist that you wrap your hand around under the table, resting on his thigh. You don’t know how effective bread will be in getting Mr. Kim to back off, with his exasperation and annoyance writ large on his face, and you don’t bother trying. His mother seems to notice nothing out of the normal, and maybe this is how it is every weekend. They certainly have the dramatic prolonged silences down, along with the less-than-subtle barbs.
              You let your palm rest over Taehyung’s knuckle, just there for moral support. Even your insofar stellar intercessions can’t salvage this now, but you don’t like seeing him like this. Troubled, angry.
              You watch as he takes a deep breath in, and in one swift motion, he’s put a mask back on; painfully polite and pointedly calm, like a tornado trapped in an unbreakable glass bottle. “I think we’ve done a great job of welcoming Y/N today. Hopefully you haven’t scared her away. Can’t wait for our next brunch.”
              And just like that, he’s flipped his palm open so they’re enclosing your surprised hand and is tugging you none too gently out of your seat. All you can do is offer a half-hearted smile in sudden farewell to his parents before you’re being led rapidly to the house. He doesn’t stop or wait for a reply from the not-too-surprised couple on the table (not that there seems to be one forthcoming), and he doesn’t slow down. You have to nearly jog to keep up with his wide gait, long limbs allowing him to take one step to match two of your own.
              He doesn’t stop until you’re seated in the car, doors closed as you both sit in silence; his stormy, and yours tentative. His eyebrows are furrowed, jaw clenched, hands balled up in a frustration you think he’s almost used to by now.
              You crumple the fabric of your dress in a slow fist as you intone, “I think they believed us.”
              That’s all it takes for his shoulders to droop, sound that almost sounds like a laugh leaving his mouth in a whoosh. His head falls back against the headrest with a silent thunk in resignation, neck arched as his eyes tiredly close. You somehow don’t think a lot of people see him this way, and it feels like some sort of privilege.
              “You fared better than I thought you would,” he mumbles, still not looking at you.
              “I told you, I’m good at my job.”
              “You most definitely are. And I usually storm out before we reach desert. It lasted longer today.”
              You accept the compliment with a tiny bloom of pride, watching silently as Taehyung lets out a long, deep sigh and sits up, tucking his seat belt in and preparing to start the car.
              “They didn’t seem too suspicious about us.” The rest of your sentence hangs in between the two of you, lingering in the silence of the car, only getting louder when he turns on the ignition. They were too busy criticising you.
              In a way, it had been a blessing. They didn’t look too closely, didn’t notice the way you had fumbled over your words when you narrated the story of how you met or the flash of panic in his eyes when they had asked you about when he gifted the necklace, needing you to come up with a story on the stop. But the goal is the trust fund, and you both seem to be as close to that as you are to the sun.
              You know you’ll get paid, regardless of whether Taehyung gets that money at the end of the three months or not, but somewhere along the way, somehow, you had gotten invested in this. And you aren’t about to sit and analyse the cause and effect of this development.
              “We’ll go in stronger next time. Maybe more expensive wine?” you ask, only half-joking.
              You watch his eyes dart to you in astonishment as he asks, “Next time? You’re seriously up for a next time?”
              “I don’t like leaving jobs incomplete. If the point is to get your trust fund, we’re going to get your trust fund. We just need a different angle now.”
              “Fascinating,” he observes, now with a little more of his customary cheer in his voice. “Do elaborate.”
              Thinking hard, you slowly begin to explain. “They know you have a girlfriend now. What we need to do is make them think you’re in it for the long haul, that you’re mature enough to handle an adult relationship.”              
              “How do you propose we do that?”
              It hits you like a thunder bolt. “Invite them to the exhibition.”
              Confusion and reluctance are clearly at war in his eyes as he asks you to elucidate. “What on earth does that have to do with anything?”
              The wheels are in motion now, and you nearly trip over your words in your haste to get them out. “They haven’t seen any of your photos, have they?”
              “No, they’ve never really been interested,” he says, voice darkening momentarily.
              “Then they’ll see them there. You get offers for commissions at these exhibitions, right?”
              “Yeah, I do, but how is that related to – “
              “Good offers?” you press.
              “How do you think I afford my flawless fashion sense?”
              You spare him an unimpressed look, but continue with the plan. “Then they’ll see that you get paid well for your job. And if I’m there, they’ll see that you’re holding down a steady relationship too. Then all you have to do is plant some friends in the crowd to talk up your many good qualities. Super mature, easy win. Maybe you won’t get the money immediately, but it’s bound to make some sort of impact.”
              The look of grudging respect you get is almost worth the disaster meal you’ve just sat through. “I knew it was a good idea to hire you. I’ll send them the invite and see if they accept. Just one problem though.”
              You nod, signalling him to continue.
              “They know all my friends. All the families are close. If I plant them, they’ll figure something’s up.”
              You hum thoughtfully as Taehyung pulls into the street with the student apartments, thinking of a workaround. And as you slow down next to the curb, Taehyung silently waiting for your answer, you staring at the door of your apartment building, you get it.
              “But they haven’t had the absolute pleasure of meeting Ahn Hyejin and Jeon Jungkook.”
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               Caw caw
               Kim Taehyung (Client): what
               Bird noises. To escape.
               Kim Taehyung (Client): your timing is impeccable
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              “Am I your favourite person in the world?”
              You give up on Hyejin, turning to Jungkook on your other side as your library chair slightly creaks under you. “Am I your favourite person in the world?”
              “Absolutely not. That honour is reserved for myself, and myself only.”
              “Am I one of your favourite people?”
              Hyejin huffs at your constant chatter, looking up from her laptop to fix you with a steely gaze. Before Jungkook can answer your question (with a definitive ‘yes’, you hope), she brusquely asks, “What do you want, Y/N?”
              Without preamble, you say, “I need you both to dress up fancy and schmooze some parents.”
              “No problem, your parents already love me,” Jungkook gloats, putting his arms up and tucking his palms behind his head, elbow narrowly missing your ear as he perches there, satisfied.
              “Not my parents.”
              “Other parents like me too. Also, teachers. Just adults in general.”
              “The librarian doesn’t seem to like you too much right now.”
              At Hyejin’s remark, Jungkook immediately pulls his arms back down, setting his chair straight again so he isn’t teetering on the two back legs. Sure enough, the adult in question is walking towards your table with purpose. She stops next to your chairs, hisses at you to shut up, and with one last glower, turns around to walk back.
              You wait till she’s a little way away before you continue. “It’s Tae’s parents.”
              “Tae?” Hyejin asks suspiciously. “Your client, Kim Taehyung?”
              You nod, not fully meeting her eyes. “The very same. You need to hype him up and tell his parents about how responsible he is, and how he’s so good at his job, and other assorted nice things about him.”
              Even before Jungkook begins to speak, you know he’s going to say something that will make you want to face palm. “Listen, Y/N, I know he and I are tight and all that – “
              There it is.
              “– but I have to confess, I hardly know the man.”
              Huffing, you reply, “You don’t have to say things that are true. Just things that will make his parents think he’s mature enough for the trust fund.”
              “I think I should hype myself up to his parents so they’ll give me the trust fund.”
              You and Hyejin ignore his fatuous comment. She’s looking at you with a hawk-like stare that’s more than a little unsettling.
              “Why are you doing this?” she shrewdly asks. “You get paid regardless of whether he gets the money or not. Hell, you’ve already gotten the advance. Why do you care so much to go to such lengths?”
              Again, you’re forced to look away, at anything but her eyes. You fix your gaze at a spot somewhere near the right side of her forehead as you shrug and reply, feigning an easy nonchalance you don’t feel. “Just don’t like leaving it unfinished. That’s the point of the job, isn’t it? The trust fund?”
              Your evasiveness isn’t lost on her. “Isn’t the point of every job your payment?”
              “Yeah, uh, that too. But that’s already guaranteed. This is the…er…secondary point of the job. This job. The point of me faking this relationship.”
              Jungkook pipes up, “You’re getting a little too comfortable with the whole lying thing. It’s one thing to pretend to be dating somebody for a single night to get their parents off their back, or to get their friends to stop nagging, but for three whole months? And to his parents for him to get money that has nothing to do with you?”
              Immediately, you withdraw, shrinking into yourself. There’s an obvious wisdom in his words, an undisputable argument. When will the lies stop? What if you get so comfortable with looking at a relationship clinically, valuating it by how close you are to your cover being blown, that you forget what the real thing is like? And why have you decided to push those limits now, for this client in particular?
              You force those thoughts away, preferring to focus on tangible things, things you can quantify and uncomplicate. Things like Kim Taehyung’s exhibition on Sunday evening, four days from now.
              “You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to – “
              “We didn’t say that.”
              You turn to Hyejin in barely concealed shock, immediately toning it down when you take in her wary expression.
              “We didn’t say we won’t do it,” she repeats, voice patient. “We’ll help, of course we will. But we just want you to be careful. Don’t get so attached. At the end of the day, he’s still just a client, Y/N, and he’s making use of your services as a fake girlfriend. And these families bring their kids up to be charming. It won’t hurt to remind yourself of where Taehyung’s from once in a while.”
              “I know that. I just…don’t want to leave a job done halfway,” you finish lamely, voice failing you towards the end of your sentence.
              Hyejin is right. As much as you want to refute it, you know that all the men you’ve been employed by from families like Taehyung’s – coffers filled with old money and trust funds set up for them with companies waiting to be taken over – have been groomed to act the same way. Charming, smooth, devilishly handsome and making every person they talk to feel like they’re the most important thing in the world. It’s how business deals close, and that’s what they grow up learning. As much as you want to claim that your current customer is different, you do realise that you hardly know him, that you’ve only met him a couple of times, and that all the information you really have on him is stored in a Word document under headings like ‘Childhood Pets’ and ‘Favourite Vacation Spot’. Hardly organic. It’ll do you good to be cautious with your runaway feelings and keep your eyes on the prize.
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              Kim Taehyung (CLIENT): how good are you at car games
              Good enough to beat you, I’m sure.
              You huff and delete the message before he can read it, Hyejin’s voice ringing clear and true in your head, before drafting a new, more impersonal one.
              Kim Taehyung (CLIENT): we’re doing need for speed this friday at game night.
                                                            can you make it?
              What time does it start?
              Kim Taehyung (CLIENT): 7. everybody comes directly from work, usually wraps up by 10ish
              I can be there, but I might be a little late. 8 maybe.
              Kim Taehyung (CLIENT): sure. just be prepared to lose.
              There he goes again, giving you such a lovely opening to goad him, to continue the banter. It takes everything to not do just that, and stop that particular thread of the conversation right there before moving to more important information, relevant doubts.
              Who all are going to be there? Any surprises?
              No more games.
              Kim Taehyung (CLIENT): wouldn’t you like to know
              Yes. That’s why I’m asking.
              Hyejin would be proud of you.
              Kim Taehyung (CLIENT): just the people from the party
                                                           oh and irene, she wasn’t able to make it that night so she hasn’t had the pleasure of being fooled by us yet
              I’m sure she can hardly wait.
              Kim Taehyung (CLIENT): me and her both
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              Hyejin’s sensible voice in your head is at direct odds with the other, less smart and more irrational one that’s controlled by your emotions as you stand outside the front door. You check the address on your phone screen and look up at the number plaque to double check if you’re in the right place. Of course, if this was a real relationship, you would have been here before; but it isn’t and now you stand outside Kim Taehyung and Park Jimin’s house for the first time after allegedly dating the former for a month, wondering why this feels like such a big deal.
              It isn’t a particularly impressive building. Nothing like the extravagance that you’ve started associating with him and his friends and their kind of money. The lobby is a little fancy, sure, and there’s plenty of glass in the construction, but it only looks a little above average. Nowhere close to your price range, but not very close to what you had thought was theirs either.
              You weren’t sure if it was customary to bring something, and you hadn’t wanted to ask for fear of seeming too eager (to him, to yourself, to your wise advisor, Hyejin), so you had settled for coming empty handed. You regret it now, your hands begging for something to hold as you knock on the door, the smart rap sounding far more confident than you feel.
              “Y/N! Right on time, your boyfriend’s being a sore loser.” Jimin greets you with a wide grin that weirdly puts you at ease as he holds the door open, gesturing to where you can leave your shoes. This is fine. It’s just a group of friends hanging out who have no suspicion. Absolutely no problem.
              “How can I be a sore loser if I didn’t lose?” comes the indignant cry from inside the house.
              You giggle as Jimin hooks his thumb behind him in the direction of the living room with an exaggerated scoff and a ‘Can you believe this man?’ look on his face. He guides you out of the foyer and into the house as it opens up into the hall filled with the people from the party lounging around and looking at you, except Yoongi and a woman you haven’t seen before, probably Irene, who’ve got their eyes glued to the screen in front of them, controllers in their hands as they guide their cars.
              You raise your hand in a shy wave, smile easy as they call out various greetings, but really, you’ve only got your eye on one man. You’ve seen him in different outfits; formal shirts, ripped jeans, the chic trench coat from that first meeting at the café, but this? Nothing could have prepared you for this Taehyung.
              Hair mussed, missing the usual artful messiness, like he couldn’t be bothered to style it. Loose grey sweatpants rolled up at the ankles along with a plain, black, nearly faded t-shirt. It’s hard to look away from him at the best of times. You know, objectively, that he’s handsome, and it’s only been a bit of a problem so far, but he looks so comfortable right now, sat there on the couch with one leg languidly crossed over the other knee, leaning back against the cushion as he smiles at you.
              Like a boyfriend.
              As if on cue, like she’s just waiting on standby for a situation like this, the Hyejin in your head tells you to stop being a ninny and to focus on the job. The others go back to watching the screen as you make your way to Taehyung’s side of the couch, his eyes not leaving you as you walk towards him.
              When you feel his hands coming up to tangle with your uselessly dangling fingers as you stop next to him, you argue that that’s just what couples do when they meet.
              “Hey, babe,” he grins, looking up at your face, gently tugging your arm until you’re bent enough for him to press a kiss to your heated cheek.
              Enough of these entirely unnecessary and increasingly annoying bodily reactions. You have a job to do. You smile in gratitude as Jin shuffles a bit on the couch, offering you enough space next to Taehyung for you to slip in in between the two men. You let your body naturally curve into his frame, but make no mention of it, appearing as instinctive as you can. You can still feel eyes on you – Jimin’s gaze darting to the two of you from his spot on the loveseat, the teasing look Lisa and Yoongi share in your direction as there’s a break in the game. Time to give them a show.
              “So what’s your excuse for losing?” you playfully demand, looking up at Taehyung, revelling in his tiny frown, just a step away from being described as petulant.
              “I didn’t lose. Lisa pushed me.”
              The woman in question is quick to come to her defence, laughing as she denies, “I most certainly did not. I didn’t even touch you, liar. You’re just mad you lost to me twice.”
              “Twice?” you goad, feigning amused surprise. Eyebrow cocked, you comment with a grin, “I had no idea you were so bad at this game.”
              Hoots of laughter erupt around you as you tease him, pleased to see his lips quirk up. A gleam enters his eyes, one of challenge, but not the kind you’re accustomed to now. This is personal and has absolutely nothing to do with the arrangement.
              “Maybe I was saving up my energy to beat you.”
              “Maybe you’re just a lousy player.”
              His expression gets sharper. Unconsciously, you’ve moved into his side even more, neck tilted up to maintain eye contact, reciprocated by the slight curve of his spine as he bends slightly to do the same. You’re close enough to make out the single blue strand of hair that’s escaped from the rest of the messy bunch in an effort to rest on his forehead, ending right at his eyebrow. You itch to move it out of the way, and it’s only the loud sound of the game’s theme song playing, signalling that Yoongi’s won the round, that stops you. Just in the nick of time.
              You pull away blinking, trying not to be too jerky with your movements, as he dips his head in the direction of the consoles waiting on the floor in front of the large screen television, abandoned by the previous players as they engage in a healthy bout of crowing and denial. His expression hasn’t changed, still a little testy at your taunting, and it sends a shiver down your spine.
              “Y/N, if you don’t beat him, I’ll be very disappointed.”
              You take your seat next to Taehyung on the floor, lifting a controller as you grin in Jimin’s direction. “We wouldn’t want that now, would we?”
              Your fake boyfriend’s knee is solid against yours, heat burning through the layers of fabric.
              “I’m not going to lose,” Taehyung insists. He chooses the route for the game and you familiarise yourself with the controller.
              As the countdown begins on the screen, a large, fiery ‘3’ accompanied by the blaring of a horn and the revving of wheels with theatrical clouds of smoke briefly covering the screen, you hum, “We’ll see.” You’ve discovered that you quite enjoy pushing his buttons. And what Hyejin doesn’t know won’t hurt her.
              It might hurt you, the voice of reason points out in your head. You brush it away impatiently. You’ve got a race to win.
              It doesn’t take too long to get in the lead, and once you do, you’re determined to not lose it. You hear Taehyung let out a low ‘Fuck’ as you zoom past him, and he arches lower to focus on the screen, his knee pushing into yours. You’re determined to not pull away and to not let it distract you either as you work to maintain your position on the score board. To his credit, he doesn’t give up until the very end, sour look on his face as you do a little jig in glee when you’re displayed as the winner. He doesn’t seem mad, though. Not really. A little put out but still with a small smile on his face as he watches you laugh with the others.
              “How fun for you,” he drily intones, but with no real heat in his sarcasm.
              Jin and Namjoon replace the two of you on the floor as you get up, moving away from the centre. You’re about to sit back down on the couch, feeling light from the sheer positivity that’s there in the room and heady from your victory, when you hear Taehyung behind you ask, “Help me get the dinner from the kitchen?”
              It isn’t like you’re going to say no.
              You let him guide you to the kitchen as you try not to be too obvious in finally taking in the house. The furniture is nice, but not too nice. There’s a potted plant near the corner of the living room, and you suspect it’s placed there specifically because the windows let in sunlight in its direction. The walls are painted a light grey and are bare except for a clock and the generic light fixtures. It’s such a far cry from the grand settings you’ve seen him in so far, but definitely more comfortable. Of course, there are elements of expense – the large, flat screen television, the marble island counter you see in the kitchen and the temperature-controlled fridge (which is a bit excessive, in your opinion, but you’re not going to risk criticising his property again).
              “How did you get so good at racing?” he asks with no bitterness in his voice, only curiosity.
              You reply after a beat, watching as he takes out the boxes of pizza from the covers sitting in the counter that you suspect had been delivered before you arrived. “Just part of my charm, I guess,” you shrug, pleased at his amused chuckle in response.
              A loud whoop comes from the direction of the living room followed by the exaggerated sounds of vehicles crashing from the television. In the kitchen, there’s a hush, like it’s underwater and everything else is above you on land. It’s suddenly very small as you shuffle behind him, pressed up against the island, trying desperately not to brush against his back as you make your way to the refrigerator to pull out a large bottle of something fizzy, doing as he indicates.
              “There are tissues in the top drawer to your right,” he directs as he takes glasses from an overhead shelf. You grab a few napkins in silence, turning around to make your way past him.
              You end up staring at his neck, lurching a bit to stop yourself from walking straight into him. His hands shoot out, palms burning into your shoulders through the fabric of your t-shirt as he steadies both of you with a low, surprised ‘Oh!’. He’s close enough for you to hear his slow inhales.
              You can’t look up. You won’t look up.
              In the end, you can’t stop yourself from looking up.
              His arms are slow in leaving your frame, coming down to rest easily at his sides as he grins and playfully drawls, “This kitchen ain’t big enough for the both of us.”
              Again with that damned strand of hair that’s begging to be set right. Wordlessly, you take a slow step back, holding out the napkins you’ve collected for him to take and place on top of the boxes. You’re smiling on the outside; easy, nonchalant, suave. In your brain, Hyejin is vigorously and relentlessly ringing an alarm bell. The tips of your fingers twitch where they brush against his.
              “Good?” he asks, placing a bunch of boxes on your outstretched arms as he watches you balance them.
              You nod, not trusting your own voice, letting him lead the way out of the kitchen with his own share of the load and the bottle.
              Maybe the universe is looking out for you, because when you reach the living room and you’ve set down the boxes near the couch, Taehyung is challenged to a rematch by Lisa, leaving you to take a seat in between Irene and Jin.
              Conversation with them is easy, you find. In the middle of watching the game and distracting the players with good-natured jibes, you find out that Jin is a bit older than the others and has just started practicing as a doctor, and that Irene is at law school. Both of them, like everybody else in the room (apart from you), are from families with old money, brought up in the lap of luxury, groomed to take over companies and legacies.
              You have to constantly remind yourself to not get too attached. Three more months, you think. Three months and I’ll be slipping out of their lives as suddenly as easily as I slipped in.
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              “How do I look?”
              “Like you’re about to be insufferable the whole night.”
              Jungkook grins, tugging at the lapels of his black suit one last time to straighten it out. Next to him, Hyejin is going through the pointers that Taehyung had sent a few hours ago. It had been decided that the two of them would act as accidental guides for the Kims through the exhibition, strategically leading them to sections that are crowded, or where people happen to be discussing commissions at the moment.
              You don’t forget that this is your idea, and consequentially, you realise that if the plan somehow falls apart and makes the entire situation worse than it already is, you’ll have nobody to blame but yourself.
              Hyejin notices your frown as you absentmindedly smooth down the silver chiffon material of your dress. She gets that look in her eyes, the warning one that’s been making an appearance more often in the last two days, when you had returned from Taehyung’s house with a decidedly rosy hue blushing your cheeks from the all the adrenaline and the man himself. You appreciate her looking out for you, making sure your head is screwed on tight and reminding you constantly about the goal; you definitely need it now.
              “His relationship with his parents has nothing to do with you,” she cautions.
              You let out a huff as you sit down next to her on the couch, bringing your knees up to your chin and wrapping your arms around them. “I know,” you softly mumble.
              There isn’t much else you can say. You do know. Rationally, what his parents think about him is no business of yours whatsoever. What matters is your money, and you don’t have time to worry about anybody else’s. Already you’ve crossed lines with this client that you’d never dreamt of even toeing with any others. His friends know you, his parents know you, and now you’re pretty much a part of his life for the next two odd months – why did you agree to this again? Did you think yourself so immune to him? So invincible?
              It doesn’t bear thinking about, and certainly doesn’t bear speculating now; not when you need to have your wits about you for the rest of the night.
              “We should leave,” Jungkook says, casting a glance at the watch on his wrist.
              You sigh, unfolding and forcing yourself to refocus. “Let’s get this over with.”
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              Your brain can’t comprehend what your eyes are seeing.
              The three of you are fairly early, just a couple of minutes past the opening time. The crowd is only starting to arrive, in all their understated finery paired with diamond earrings. From the outside, through the glass, you can see people milling about, gliding between photographs, all of which are too far away for you to make out. The champagne in the flutes that nearly everybody is holding sparkles even more than usual under the lighting of the room. All this you had expected.
              What you definitely had not expected was to see Kim Taehyung with his hand around some other girl’s waist, wide grin on his face as he speaks animatedly to a patron, champagne flute being waved around excitedly.
              “Does he have another fake girlfriend?”
              Your teeth clench, Hyejin’s dry question going unanswered. What is he playing at? Jungkook and Hyejin stand next to you on the curb, looking at the sight as you try to reel in the green monster. His hair is set professionally, smoothed above his forehead with gel, enhancing the stretch of his formal shirt, top button undone and sleeves rolled up.
              The person he’s talking to drifts away and you watch with increasing annoyance as he turns to the girl next to him, your hands curling into fists as they both laugh at something.
              “Y/N? Are you alright?” Jungkook asks hesitantly, his palm hovering over your shoulder, cautiously waiting for you to reply.
              Jaw tight, your tone carefully controlled, you answer, “That fucking bastard. How does he expect anybody to believe this ruse if he goes around doing shit like that?”
              Whatever feelings you had (or thought you had had) fly out the window as you tap into that anger. You’re here to get paid. You’re a professional. If he can’t do his part right, that’s his fault. Doesn’t mean you have to jeopardise your job.
              Shoulders back, chin up.
              Fucking idiot, your brain helpfully adds as you see him give the girl a dazzling smile, one of his patented I’m trying to impress you grins.
              At that moment, you promise yourself. No more stupid banter, or unnecessary communication. Everything you do with this man henceforth is to meet your end, and that is to be his fake girlfriend for the next few weeks. You’ll do what it takes to get your fee – which is showing up and being convincing – and no more.
              “What are you going to do?” Hyejin asks, understandably a little worried. The reflection of your face comes into sharp focus on the glass, throwing the firm set of your jaw and determined eyes into stark light.
              “My fucking job.”
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              “Y/N! Just in time to meet Mrs. Park. She was one of my first customers.”
              You let Taehyung pull you into his side and swallow down the bile when you think about how he was doing the same thing to somebody else just a few minutes ago. Instead, you put on your most charming grin and politely shake the old woman’s hand.
              “And I’ll forever be glad I found him,” she smiles, stopping for a second to fondly place a palm on Taehyung’s cheek. “I am convinced nobody else could have done my babies justice.”
              Taehyung laughs, light pink blush appearing on his cheeks. You take a sip of champagne, ignoring any bodily reactions you might be having at the sight.
              “Mittens and Whiskers would have looked good with any photographer, Mrs. Park. You just happened to hire the most handsome one.” He winks in a manner that can only be described as roguish, making you want to gag.
              And Mrs. Park – poor, sweet Mrs. Park – lets out the most flattered giggle, hand on her heart as she misguidedly tells you, “Smart as a whip, your boyfriend is.” Her next words are directed at said boyfriend himself. “Save a slot for me in the next few weeks, will you, love? My cats have missed posing for their favourite photographer.”
              With a bow, Taehyung replies, “Absolutely. I’ve missed my favourite customer.”
              The singular doesn’t go unnoticed by her, and you can still see a faint blush on the back of her neck as she walks away from the two of you.
              “You’re horrible,” you mutter, as you take a sip of your champagne.
              “Who’s horrible,” he starts, turning to look at you with a shameless grin, “is Whiskers, who still has my blood and a good three layers of my skin on her conscience.”
              You hum, keeping your smile fixed firm on your face as you wait to see who’ll be approaching next. Taehyung’s arm is no longer around your waist, but the heat of his body is ever present next to you.
              “Hyejin and Jungkook are in position, I see.”
              Your eyes find them hovering near the entrance, waiting for Mr. and Mrs. Kim to enter. Jungkook looks to be a bit on edge, constantly messing with the cuffs of his shirt, but Hyejin seems to have slipped into the role easily, appearing for all she’s worth like she’s highly interested in a close up shot of a flower.
              “Thanks for doing this,” he mutters, keeping his voice low and bending a bit so nobody can pick up on the conversation. “I know you didn’t have to.”
              The underlying current of gratitude in his voice makes your stomach squirm, but you don’t let it affect you.     “You’re welcome,” you shortly reply, in the interest of civility. You aren’t going to tell him that you’ve started to rethink it.
              If he notices anything amiss about your manner, he doesn’t mention it. He just places a large palm against the small of your back before steering you towards somebody else to schmooze.
              And that’s how the evening goes. He’s the picture of professional charm, effortlessly mingling with previous clients and new potential ones, constantly toeing the line between praise and flattery, easily playing this role. You don’t miss the glint of pride in his eyes in the moments between conversations as he takes in the room, watches people watching the photographs he’s taken. It makes you sick how fond you become in those instances, and it’s only the champagne in your glass and the tiny finger foods that he chivalrously holds for the two of you on a tissue that keep you from saying or doing something you’ll no doubt regret in the future.
              The exhibition-goers dole out these comments every so often, things about how lucky you are to be dating somebody so creative, what an incredible mind he has, what a terrible flirt he is, and you grin and bear it all, playing the part of proud girlfriend perfectly. The last one is courtesy one Mrs. Min, another elderly woman (Taehyung seems to have been collecting them like stamps), and you think you quite outdo yourself when you let out a soft giggle and playfully slap Taehyung on the chest as you titter, “How do you think we got together, Mrs. Min?”
              You feel his fingers flex on your back. You can tell he’s trying hard not to burst out laughing as he promises the poor old lady to write her into his schedule and sends her on her way with a charming kiss to her knuckle that has her fanning her face as the two of you turn away.
              “And I’m the horrible one?” he chortles as you both weave your way through the ever-growing crowd.
              You sniff pompously, not deigning to reply. This is always the part of the job you’ve enjoyed. Not so much the deception, of course, but the acting and the guarantee that you’ve successfully convinced somebody with no room for doubt whatsoever. You feel the buzz under your skin, the sensation of a job going well. At least for this one evening, Taehyung can be a regular client and this can be a regular job.
              You’re absolutely prepared to let the conversations around you just drift past unless you’re required to join in, but you have no chance to be a mute spectator. At that moment, you hear a familiar brusque voice behind you say, “Taehyung.”
              You feel rather than see his shoulders tense a bit before he regains his bearings. This is his turf. His photographs. His customers. Not his parent’s. When he turns around, he’s back to his charming host setting, boxy grin defiantly firm as he greets them.
              “I didn’t notice you coming in. I trust you’ve been enjoying yourselves?”
              Mr. Kim nods a bit half-heartedly, like he doesn’t want to admit it. “It’s not so bad. At least there’s a bit of a crowd.”
              It’s much more than a bit and Taehyung knows that, but there’s no further discussion on the topic. As grudging as the comment was, the slightly impressed tone in which it had been conveyed was unmistakable.
              You finish your greetings and momentarily tune out the preliminaries happening next to you. Mrs. Kim asks a very pointed question about how close Taehyung’s apartment is to the exhibition that he easily breezes over. He seems invincible here, under the lights and around the chic glamour, surrounded by his photographs and looking like one himself. More invincible than usual, that is.
              Your eyes seek out Hyejin and Jungkook in the milling crowd, and catch them hovering dutifully nearby, not taking their attention off of their targets. When they notice you looking, they flash identical wide grins. Jungkook throws in a reassuring thumbs up for good measure. Hopefully that means everything is going as planned.
              “I’ve got a few customers waiting to discuss projects with me. Why don’t you continue to have a look around?” Taehyung asks, and with identical polite smiles, you’re both pulling away from the circle. Out of the corner of your eye, you notice your trusty friends sidling closer, beginning to talk in too-loud voices about the composition of a photograph nearby. You have to hold in a snort, knowing for a fact that neither of them has any real knowledge about what they’re spewing.
              “That went well,” you mutter, only half-sarcastic. Compared to the previous time they had met, the Kims were practically turtle doves cooing.
              Taehyung seems to agree, giving you a short, satisfied nod as he has a sip of champagne. “I’m surprised they showed up at all,” he confesses, almost sheepishly.
              And that’s that. No more comments from you. You continue your role, as if nothing happened, as if you aren’t positively, annoyingly delighted at the at least halfway success of the night. But of course, just when you’ve started slipping into your regular professional mould, your guard having slowly come down over the last hour, you run into her. The woman Taehyung was with at the beginning of the evening.
              “Enjoying yourself?” Taehyung asks with a twinkle in his eye. You notice that there are no preliminaries with this one, no introduction, no insofar customary ‘This is Y/N, my girlfriend’. His body is still next to yours, his palm is still on the small of your back and his rose-scented perfume is still clouding your senses, but he’s never seemed more far away.              
              She gives him a smile, her fingers curled delicately around her champagne flute as she teasingly replies, “Here? In a room full of your best work? Hardly.”
              “I’m supposed to be winning all my visitors over, not the other way around.”
              “Don’t worry, Tae. You’re almost as good at it as I am,” she winks.
              Okay, that’s enough. You clear your throat. First softly and then a little louder to make your point.
              Taehyung shakes his head, as if he’s suddenly remembered where he is. Immediately, his regular grin is back on his face as he introduces you. “Jennie, this is Y/N, my girlfriend. Y/N, meet Jennie.”
              You nod politely at the lady who smiles back at you, her tone amused as she teasingly asks, “How on earth can you stand him? I see him twice a year and leave every meeting feeling like I’ve been pitted against a tornado.”
              “It’s exhausting,” you play along, slightly surprised but not letting it show. You’re so curious about who this is, and what she is to Taehyung, and how they seem so comfortable with each other. It doesn’t help that the man himself offers up no explanation except a wounded ‘I’m very charming, I’ll have you know.’ But your previous decision to remain neutral and Hyejin’s stern presence in your head guides you to bite your tongue, and you ask no more questions. It’s none of your business.
              “You’ve gotten better at self-portraits,” she observes, gesturing at the section in question with a subtle tilt of her glass.
              “I learnt from the best,” Taehyung replies with what can only be described as a smirk.
              You can feel it in your gut, that you’ve stepped into something far deeper than you had thought. Maybe they’re just friends, but he doesn’t talk to his other friends like that. In fact, the only person he uses that voice on, that face on, is you.
              You notice the way his eyes light up as he speaks to her, tone light and comfortable. Flirty even. You’re in no way excluded from the group. You talk and laugh, maybe putting a little bit more bite in your teasing taunts – capably aided, abetted and initiated by Jennie – at Taehyung than is strictly required, but you can’t stop wondering what they are to each other. What if they’re actually dating but they don’t want anybody to know? What if they just hook up from time to time? What if they’re exes who never really got over each other? Each possibility leaves a sourer taste in your mouth than the previous. And does he owe you an explanation? Does that come under information necessary for the job?
              Conversation finally has to still as another old lady (does he keep them stored somewhere?) comes up to Taehyung to talk about a commission, and Jennie slips away with a hug. Your smile tightens around the edges as you notice the way his hands linger on her back for a beat longer than needed.
              You aren’t sure what you’re more annoyed about – him being so obvious about whatever the fuck he’s got going on with Jennie in public and risking exposure of your scam, or the other, unmentionable feelings you’re grappling with. Regardless of the reason, whatever lingering warmth you had in your manner prior to the offending interaction disappears, leaving you cold.
              His questions are met with monosyllables, and you only do as much touching as the job demands; sidling close when you notice somebody watching and pulling a bit away as soon as they leave. You know you’re being irrational. Childish, even. But you are, as the kids say, over it.
              The frigidness of your manner doesn’t go unnoticed by Taehyung, and nearly an hour later, as the crowd begins to dwindle, only leaving behind a few stragglers, he asks, “Are my photographs so bad?” His tone is light, playfully curious, but you know that he’s waiting for an explanation.
              You don’t meet his eyes, preferring to continue looking at a polished frame that the two of you are standing in front of. “Your photographs are fine.”
              “That’s what I’ve always wanted to hear.”
              You let out a short, noncommittal hum.
              When he speaks again, it’s more serious. “Is this one of the hissy fits that Jungkook said you were prone to?”
              You want to smack him upside on the head. And then smack Jungkook upside on the head.
              “I am not having a hissy fit.” You cast a cursory glance around the room, noting that there’s only the two of you, Hyejin and Jungkook remaining. It seems like as good a time as any to escape. “We’re done here?” you ask, making sure you aren’t leaving anything unfinished in the assignment for today.
              His eyebrows knit together as he slowly replies, “Yeah, I guess. Are you sure everything’s alright? Did I do something?”
              “I don’t know. Did you?”
              You don’t know where it comes from. All you know is that you’re dipping your foot in shark-infested waters and that you need to leave. You turn before he can reply, beginning to move away, but barely make it two steps before you feel a heavy palm close around your wrist, making you stop to a still and look back up at him.
              His fingers burn into your skin, but that’s nothing compared to the near warning in his eyes as he lowly utters, not letting go of your hand. “I don’t like mind games, Y/N. If you have something to say, say it.”
              The sudden U-turn in his manner throws you for a loop, but you refuse to back down, holding his gaze. The photographs around you seem alive, like spectators. You can feel Hyejin and Jungkook waiting to intervene should the need arise, but you can take care of yourself.
              If he notices the flash of danger in your pupils, he makes no comment. “If you have something to say,” you bite out, wrenching your hand free of his grip, “say it. I don’t appreciate being blindsided on a job. Why hire me if you already have a girlfriend?”
              You don’t give him a chance to reply. You know you’re running on an assumption, not to mention you’re being completely presumptuous in speaking like this to a client at all, but uttering the possibility out loud leaves you wanting to crawl out of your skin and get under three layers of blankets to fall asleep and not wake up. Wordlessly, Hyejin and Jungkook follow as you brusquely walk out the door, your shoulders squared. Out of the corner of your eye, you notice their hard glares at the man you’ve just left behind, and you feel a rush of gratitude towards them.    
              Maybe you’ve just fucked everything up spectacularly. Maybe you’ve thrown away a huge sum of money that you had been practically relying on for next month’s rent, and maybe you’ve succeeded in making yourself look like a damned fool. But for now, you just want to leave.
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              Kim Taehyung: lisa and irene want to hang out with you sometime next weekend
              What for?
              Kim Taehyung: idk. to ‘get to know you’. they want to grab lunch.
                                          what do i tell them?
              Kim Taehyung: okay
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              You’re dying to bring up Jennie. You know you should have vanquished that curiosity, but if you’re going to get answers from anywhere, you can bet it’s going to be from two of Taehyung’s closest childhood friends.
              You had gone home the night of the exhibition with your head in a tizzy. First came a sort of vindictiveness, born from the adrenaline of telling Taehyung exactly what you had thought, and the cruel hope that he had been well and truly hurt – or maybe you just wanted to be responsible for some fraction of his feelings. Next, you had faced a grim satisfaction, knowing that it was something that had to be pointed out for the two of you to continue being convincing. Perhaps the theatrics could have been avoided, but regardless, it had to be done. And then that point had led to the spiralling realisation that you might have just doomed yourself and this operation.
              The ride back had been silent. Hyejin and Jungkook were obviously curious to hear the parts of the story that they hadn’t been able to piece together, but they held their tongues, letting you go through all these stages and finally arrive at a heavy dread that settled at the pit of your stomach like a block of iron.
              Hyejin had to force feed you dinner, and then you were tucked into bed waiting for sleep to take you away. You hadn’t said a word since the altercation, and you were a bit worried about what would come out if you attempted to talk.
              Miraculously, thankfully, you had fallen asleep soon. You had never been more grateful for your classes that kept you busy through the week, leaving you too busy to think about anything or anyone else. The next fortnight had passed in a blur as you focused on your assignments and caught up on course material. On the first Wednesday, you had told Hyejin and Jungkook everything, and it sounded even worse as you narrated the incident out loud. They had been understandably annoyed, but kind enough to not utter the real question that you had been studiously avoiding. Why do you really care?
              Every night you would look at your phone, sometimes embarrassingly opening Taehyung’s chat. The longer you went with no contact from him, the more certain you were that the job was off. You knew that an apology was in order, that it was up to you to reach out and tell him that it’s none of your business, and that you shouldn’t have reacted that vitriolically; but there was still a part of you that felt wronged. You had been blindsided.
              There had been no polite enquiry about whether you were free for Friday game night with his friends or Sunday brunch with his parents, and you were too scared of rejection and too proud to bring it up first. At least this way, you could cling to the little fibre of hope that he was just busy, and wasn’t attending those events himself.
              So, when you had read Kim Taehyung on your notification panel at 9:15 PM on Tuesday night, the absolutely embarrassing whoosh of relief you let out was extremely justified. There was none of the teasing in his texts that you were so accustomed to, just short and to-the-point, but you were still in business, and that elation was more than enough to tide you over the conversation.
              You had been thrown off but touched at Lisa and Irene’s invitation, and had accepted with only momentary hesitation. Then Taehyung had told you about what he had been up to in the past two weeks so you wouldn’t seem clueless when you met them. You had forcefully stifled the pang of guilt as he confirmed that he had done both game night and brunch, explaining your absence with the excuse of college work. Still, you didn’t apologise.
              The two of you had navigated around the sticky bits, making no reference to the incident, but you could feel it hovering like a phantom, gliding over every overly polite and bitingly civil message that was sent.
              Which brings you to now, sitting opposite a slightly tipsy Lisa as Irene laughs at her next to you. You don’t know what you were expecting, but it definitely wasn’t to have fun, which is what the lunch has pleasantly turned out to be. Fun.
              Questions about your relationship with Taehyung have been kept to a minimum so far in the conversation, to your relief. You’ve spoken about classes and their jobs and it’s almost painfully easy to talk to them, enough for you to have to continually remind yourself that this will only last another month or so.
              The tipsier Lisa gets and the more talkative Irene becomes, the more the idea itches – you should ask them who Jennie is. You’ve opted to stay sober, knowing that it’s better to keep your wits about you so you don’t slip up, but hopefully the same can’t be said for them, and they won’t think too much of your curiosity. And if they do, you justify, this is a perfectly normal question to ask. Which girlfriend wouldn’t question their boyfriend’s excessive friendliness with somebody else?
              “Who is Jennie?”
              Immediately, all sound ceases. Silence settles over the table like a blanket. The three of you had been laughing about something inconsequential, but now, there isn’t a trace of that glee. The reaction only serves to pique your interest even more.
              Cautiously, Irene asks, “How do you know Jennie?”
              You debate lying, coming up with some vague story about how you happened to overhear somebody talking about her or something. But in the end, you decide to be honest.
              Trying to sound suave (but not completely uninterested; you’re still playing the jealousy card), you truthfully reply, “She was there at Tae’s exhibition.” After a significant pause, you continue, “They seemed…close.”
              Lisa sighs softly before replying, setting her glass down. “She’s our friend. She used to be in school with us.”
              “And?” you drift off, pushing a bit, needing this information that you’re so close to getting.
              “She dated Tae for nearly two years in high school,” Irene continues, taking over.
              Oh, you think. That’s not so bad. Just an ex, then. But she isn’t done.
              “They were one of those couples who everybody thought would be together forever. Always hanging out, holding hands in the corridors, all that mushy stuff. Then they ended up going to the same college and it became almost certain.”
              Your voice comes out small when you ask, “What happened?”
              “It wasn’t her thing,” Lisa shrugs. “People say that the only reason she went to college at all was to be with Tae, but that wasn’t enough. She dropped out after two years and moved to Paris to apprentice under sculptors there. She’s been living in Europe ever since, working the art circuit.”
              “And Tae?” you enquire, already dreading the answer.
              “There was a moment when we thought he’d follow her.”
              “I think there was a moment when he thought he’d follow her too,” Irene adds slowly, thoughtfully.
              Lisa nods, continuing, “But he had this dream about his own photography brand and he was still trying to convince his parents that it wasn’t a mistake. Jennie didn’t have that responsibility holding her back. She could afford to be a little rebellious and follow her heart across the ocean and never look back.”
              “And he never fully got over her,” you finish, remembering the look in his eyes as they spoke to each other at the exhibition.
              Your spiral into embarrassment, guilt and pity is prevented by Lisa who places a comforting palm on your hand atop the table. Her eyes are still a little hazy, but she sounds perfectly coherent and honest when she says, “Until he met you.”
              You’re about to scoff, say something about how it’s unlikely that a two-month long relationship can undo the heartbreak that’s lasted four years, but Irene interrupts in an all-knowing tone, like she’s perfectly aware of what you’re thinking. “We were all sceptical when Tae told us he was dating somebody, and had been dating somebody for a whole month. Since Jennie, he’s only had one-night stands and fuckbuddies, and occasionally a casual thing with someone that’s lasted a week or two, tops. We thought you were one of those inconsequential hook-ups.”
              “Thanks,” you drily reply. Irene grins and gives you a mock bow.
              “But then,” Lisa continues pointedly, almost daring you to interrupt with more snarky comments, “he said he wanted to introduce you to us, and we saw how the two of you acted during that party, like nobody else was around.”
              You wonder if you should have taken up theatre as a major, if you’ve managed to do such a good job of convincing them. Even now, you can feel the beginnings of a small smile on your face. But that’s not acting. Not really.
              “I saw you guys in the kitchen that night, you know?” Irene pipes up.
              She ignores your blush (either you deserve an Oscar, or you should start writing love songs) and continues. “It was intense. I even bumped into the door while entering and neither of you noticed. It’s like you both were in a bubble or something.”
              You open your mouth to say something, but Irene rushes to reassure you before you can continue. “Don’t worry, I left immediately. I didn’t want to see you two make out on the kitchen counter,” she shudders.
              You begin to refute that anything of the sort happened, but stop at the last second. Let them think you got nasty in the kitchen. It’ll only hold the lie in good stead.
              They’ve got their point across well, and you nearly believe what they’re saying, but something still niggles at you. “The way he was talking to her at the exhibition was so…intimate. I felt like I was intruding.”
              “That’s how we feel anytime we’re around you and Tae, too,” Lisa grins, making you smile gratefully in her direction. Gratitude for what? For believing in the sham? Or for kindling your tiny hopeful flame?
              On a more serious note, as if recognising that you still need the closure, Irene comforts, “You have to understand, they were together for years. Their breakup was one of necessity, and it completely wrecked him. And I know it seems like he should be over it by now, but she only shows up in the city twice a year and he must have been pleased that he timed her visit with his show.”
              “So, you don’t think there’s anything left there, romantically?” you doubtfully ask, hating how desperate you are for this reassurance and loathing even more the fact that it’s coming more from a personal space rather than a professional one.
              They’re slow in replying, but you appreciate that they’re replying at all.
              “If it’s really bothering you so much, you should talk about it to Tae,” Irene says, tone sensible.
              In contrast, Lisa continues with a consoling smile, “But from the outside, this honestly is the happiest we’ve seen him in a relationship in years. You’re good for him, and we hope he’s good for you, too.”
              You think about the emotional turmoil of the last few weeks, the constant fear of being caught, the stringent avoidance of your feelings and the continuous war between your head and your heart, not to mention the exhaustion of always being on guard.
              “Yeah,” you reply with a smile, trying not to burst into bitter laughter. “Yeah, he’s good for me.”
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              The package arrives Tuesday night, and Hyejin brings it in when she enters the apartment. It’s got your name on it and she tosses it towards your cross-legged frame on the couch.
              It feels soft and plush, like there’s some sort of fabric inside, and there’s no return address. Before you can open it, full of curiosity, your phone vibrates with a new message.
              Kim Taehyung: did you get it?
              You don’t bother replying, now completely intrigued and too impatient to see what’s inside. You’ve had no contact with him since your lunch with Lisa and Irene three days ago, and you want to know what’s finally made him break that stony silence. Carefully, you tear the outer packaging, leaving you to stare at the contents with muted awe. A soft gasp escapes your lips unconsciously as you look down at the open parcel, gently pulling it out of the inner wrapping and delicately laying it on the coffee table in front of you.
              You hadn’t even noticed her re-entering the room, but behind you, Hyejin breathlessly utters exactly what you’re thinking. “What the fuck?”
              The dress is a dark midnight blue, floor length and elegant. The clinch at the waist gives way to a sheer layer that glimmers with every shift of the fabric, and the silver glittery material is just enough to make it look like stars against the darkness of the blue underneath. It looks expensive to behold, and it feels expensive under the pad of your thumb as you silently let your fingers run down the length of the dress, lightly skimming the cloth as if it’ll disappear into dust if you put too much force.
              You slowly turn around to face Hyejin, who’s mirroring your slack-jawed expression. She surveys you, just as you do her, and she’s the one to finally break the pregnant silence. “Is that from – “
              She quiets abruptly at your subdued interruption. The silence morphs into something significant, and both of you turn your attention to the offending article in front of you.
              A grimace and a shrug accompany her next words. “At least you still have the job.”
              You nod. There’s nothing else to say. At least you still have the job.
              You’ve seen expensive dresses before. It’s unavoidable with your clientele. But you’ve never been so scared of one. This isn’t even the most extravagant outfit you’ve come across or been required to wear, but you still handle it gingerly as you fold and repack it, keeping it away from your body like it’ll grow teeth and bite your hand off if you disrespect it.
              Hyejin goes to the kitchen with a shake of her head that you ignore as you pull your phone out and open Taehyung’s perfectly timed message. You know what this means. A gala, and you’ll have to see him again. You still haven’t apologised. He still hasn’t brought it up. You think for a moment about your reply before you begin to type.
              Just received it.
              Kim Taehyung: there are two events over the next three weeks. one this sunday evening and another next friday. you'll need to be there for at least one of them in that dress. your choice.
              Sunday is alright. What time will I have to be there?
              Kim Taehyung: i'll let you know
              Kim Taehyung: and can you make it for game night this week?
                                          they're starting to get suspicious
              You’re going to kick yourself for this later, you just know it, but you only briefly hesitate before replying in the affirmative.
              When there’s no further response from his end, you shut your phone and let out a deep sigh as you lean your head back against the cushions. Lisa and Irene had said that they wouldn’t mention the Jennie conversation to Taehyung, not wanting to get too involved, and allowing you to broach the topic in your own time, but you aren’t sure when you’ll get around to doing it. On the one hand, this awkwardness and the cold shoulder you’re on the receiving end of that’s only thinly veiled as professionalism leaves a bitter taste on your tongue. You didn’t expect to be so affected, but you hadn’t realised just how much you enjoyed the easy banter and competition the two of you had. However, on the flip side, this does make it easier for you to maintain your distance; your hand had been forced, but that doesn’t change the fact that the last few weeks have been more like your previous assignments than the beginning of your time with him. Safe and known.
              But you owe an apology, and the last week has shown you that you’re a coward. In four days, you’ll be seeing him and his friends again. You’ll have to pretend nothing is wrong, that you’re winding down from weeks of intense college work, that you’ve missed your boyfriend terribly. But only one of those three things is true. You still don’t know where he is with the trust fund. You don’t want to know why you care. What you do know is that you should let it go, and don’t have the strength to.
              The dress seems to glare at you through its cover as you think yourself in circles.
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              Taehyung is just another client.
              That has been your mantra for the entirety of your journey to his apartment, repeating periodically in your brain, intervals decreasing the closer you get to your destination. It reaches a feverish pitch now, ceaselessly looping as you stand outside his front door.
              Taehyung is just another client. It is perfectly fine if he hates me for dredging up something painful or for being presumptuous. My job is to pretend to be his girlfriend and get paid for it, not to earn his favour or approval.
              You’re on time this evening, slightly early even, unlike the previous game night where you were only present for half the duration. You almost wish you could have been late today as well, to have the security of a crowd of people to hide behind, but instinctively, you know you’re on thin ice. You don’t want to jeopardise this any further. You’ll do what you’re being paid to do. You still haven’t apologised.
              From behind, you hear the sound of footsteps on the staircases that you had just climbed up. Not wanting to be caught nervously hovering outside your boyfriend’s apartment by somebody who could possibly be your boyfriend’s friend, you fill your lungs with air and knock on the door.
              “Hey,” Taehyung says, stopping short when he sees that it’s you. “I thought you were the pizza.”
              He doesn’t move aside, and instead opts to just silently watch you. He’s dressed comfortable again, in a hoodie and shorts this time, and the sight of him after so long nearly knocks the wind out of your body.
              Shrugging with a nonchalance you don’t feel, you reply, “Sorry to disappoint.” In your head, the chanting is so rapid that the words are tripping over themselves in an effort to keep you grounded.
              “We need to talk,” he says, either not noticing or not caring how you seize up at his words.
              You pull yourself together and give him a nod in agreement. Wordlessly, he steps aside to let you into the house. Not a second before you move into the living room, he moves to hold your startled hand. Loose, impersonal. Cold.
              Lisa and Yoongi are the only ones who’ve reached so far, and along with Jimin, they raise their hands in lazy greeting from their perches on the couch and the floor as they continue to watch the sitcom playing on the television. You respond in like, returning Lisa’s friendly smile with a genuine one of your own. Taehyung doesn’t stop, though. Once the greetings are over, he tugs you with little explanation towards the interior of the house.
              When the others look at him with questioning expressions, a cheeky grin makes an appearance on his face as he replies, “What? I missed my girlfriend. I want some alone time.”
              Even the uncertainty of the upcoming conversation and the discomfort at how business-like the evening has been so far aren’t enough for the blush on your neck to hide itself. Distantly, as Jimin waggles his eyebrows and Lisa smiles at you knowingly, you wonder if you should ask him if he’s interested in a career in fake dating. He could give you a run for your money.
              You’re quick to sober up as he leads you to what you think is his room, shutting the door and dulling the sounds of chatter and the television. He drops your hand instantly, and moves to stand to the side near his table, letting you linger hesitantly somewhere between the wall and the bed. The room is begging to be analysed and dissected. Out of the corner of your eye, you notice a bookshelf that you’re dying to inspect and the bedside table has a pair of glasses that you’ve never seen him wear. But now isn’t the time, and you don’t have the right. Maybe it will never be the time, and you’ll never have the right; you’re about to find out.
              You let him scrutinise you, knowing that you deserve the sharp look in his eyes. He’s going out on a limb even letting you continue working on this. You fight to not squirm under his steely gaze, your fingers itching to fidget and your feet begging to shift their weight. Finally, he opens his mouth, and what comes out makes the repetition in your head grind to a screeching halt.
              “My parents love you.”
              “Oh?” you shortly let out. The surprise is clear on your face.
              “They think you’re good for me.”
              Feeling like a broken record, you repeat, “Oh?”
              His expression is closed but keen as he asks significantly, “Are you?”
              The breath is nearly knocked out of your lungs with a whoosh. He’s giving you a chance to end this if he thinks you can’t reel it in. Irritation and admiration war for dominance in you. It’s true that you threw a wildcard at him the last time you had met, but does he have to treat you like a child? But this isn’t the time for righteous anger, or for praise. He’s looking for honesty. You’ll give it to him.
              Just like that, he nods shortly before moving around you to open the door. You want to chalk that up to a job well done, want to be out of the stifling intensity of this room and your position so close to his bed, but before you can stop yourself, you blurt out, “Sorry about what happened with Jennie.”
              At the exhibition. Four years ago.
              His fingers still on the door knob. Maybe he knows that you know. The longer the silence drags, the more you believe that he does. Your suspicion is confirmed as he replies without turning to face you. “Thank you. So was I.”
              You continue, rushing before he can open the door. “Will your feelings for her be a liability in this arrangement? The exhibition was a close call.” The words cause a pang when you say them out loud, a bloody knife twisting somewhere near your chest, but you ignore it. Maybe you’re entitled to some righteous anger.
              That one makes him turn around. You’re prepared for his anger and hostility, but not the grim honesty in his tone as he answers, eyes trained on you. “I’m sorry if I worried you about our cover being blown. There’s nothing going on between me and Jennie, but we were close and it’s difficult to let that friendship go. It won’t be an issue.”
               It’s almost more than you could have asked for, and it takes effort to school your expression into one of cool cognisance as you nod once at him, at direct odds with the sheer mind-numbing relief you feel at hearing him utter those words. You expect him to turn around and open the door at that, but the ensuing quietness in the room prolongs as he continues to survey you. Not with the hard, confrontational look that he had earlier, but a curious tilt of his head as his eyebrows furrow and his lips purse in thought.
              The chant in your head returns but for wildly different reasons.
              “Is there something on my face?” you concernedly ask.
              He replies with an entirely unrelated question of his own. “Am I the most interesting client you’ve ever had?”
              You don’t know the half of it.
              It pleases you that you’re back on solid ground with him, that he’s talking to you again. It annoys you that you’re pleased. “Definitely the most exhausting.”
              “Have you ever lashed out at any of your previous customers about their exes?”
              “None of my previous customers have ever flirted with their exes in front of me in the middle of a job before,” you shoot back.
              There’s no heat in either of your words, though, despite the open animus in the contents of the dialogue. Slowly, the side of his lip begins to quirk up and you mirror him. A weight feels like it’s been lifted off your shoulders as he finally smiles – one of those big, boxy grins that you’ve become so accustomed to seeing him wear. You marvel at how light you feel after weeks of having your heart in your mouth and holding your guilt up like a permanent umbrella over your head.
              Just to confirm, you ask one last time. “So, we’re good?”
              He nods affirmatively. “We’re good. Now mess your hair up a bit so it looks like we made out.”
              Obediently, ignoring the swoop of your stomach at his words, you turn towards the full-length mirror on your right and run your hand through your hair a couple of times, making it look uncombed. Behind you, Taehyung steps into frame, clutching at random fabric on his hoodie and making it look rumpled.
              You meet his eyes in the reflection and he grins at you, tousling his hair. “Thanks for the dress, by the way. It’s beautiful.”
              “You can keep it if you’d like,” he easily offers, waiting for you to reach his side so he can open the door. “Now look a little dazed, will you? I have a reputation of being quite the kisser.”
              Before you can even process what you’re saying, you reply, “So do I.”
              He can’t hear the clamour of voices in your head, the chant all in the wrong order, jumbled in your mortification. If he could, he wouldn’t have chuckled, low and dangerous, before squeezing your palm in his and pushing the door open.
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              There’s a shift. You can feel it in the relaxed drop of your shoulders, Hyejin notices it the moment you greet her in the morning, and even Jungkook can tell from the soft humming under your breath.
              “What are you smiling about?” he suspiciously asks as he slips into the library chair opposite you, always one to start a conversation where silence is valued.
              “Am I not allowed to smile?” you retort. But you still tone it down a notch, slipping a bit in your seat so you can continue your assignment on your laptop without your transparent facial expressions being scrutinised.
              Jungkook is nothing if not persistent, though. Ignoring your pointed look at the ‘MAINTAIN SILENCE IN THE LIBRARY’ poster on one of the bookshelves surrounding your table, he continues, “Last I heard, you were all mopey about that asshole’s dress.”
              “I thought he was a ‘cool dude’?” you ask, fingers up in air quotes.
              Sniffing pompously, he replies, “That was before he decided to screw you over. I’d take him out in a heartbeat now.”
              Jungkook has the disposition of somebody who would rather send a strongly worded email and end it with ‘Yours respectfully’, but you’re touched by his staunch support nonetheless and tell him as much.
              You had thought Hyejin wasn’t paying attention to the conversation happening next to her, but she proves you wrong. “He isn’t an asshole anymore. He’s a friend.” The derision is clear in her voice, and you’ll readily admit that you deserve it.
              Jungkook’s eyebrows rise so high, they brush against his fringe. “What happened last night?”
              “I apologised. He apologised. We’re good,” you shrug, letting them fill in the words you haven’t said.
              It’s an over simplified version, and the only one you’re willing to give them. ‘Friend’ is the title you came up with last night as you watched him whine in consternation at landing on Jimin’s property for the third time on the Monopoly board. It’s a safe compromise, in between acquaintance and…anything else. You know you’re treading on a fine line here, continuing to get so comfortable with him, giving him a clepe so personal when you’re going to be out of his life in the next six weeks or so, but you’ve been flying high at the relief of having him back. In whatever capacity.
              Hyejin narrows her eyes at you, disapproval writ large on her face. “Remember the point.”
              You wave her concerns away. Can’t you have one day? “Yes, it’s the money. I remember.”
              “Will you stick around after the three months if he doesn’t get the trust fund by then?” Jungkook is shrewd. Shrewder than you give him credit for.
              You refuse to look either of them in the eye as you evasively say, “He’ll get it.”
              Hyejin’s sigh is more sympathetic than disappointed. “I hope you’re prepared to turn up the charm to a hundred tonight at the gala. Mr. Kim is hardly easy, if the exhibition showed anything.”
              There are many things you regret about the night of the exhibition. The idea of inviting his parents is not one of them. You had asked Taehyung last night about where they stood on the issue, if there had been any development. He seemed optimistic, more hopeful than you had ever seen him. The brunch you had skipped was the most interactive one since he had graduated from college, and Mr. Kim hadn’t completely flipped out when Taehyung’s job was brought up in conversation. It was heartening to hear, and you’re almost excited about the event tonight, to have a chance to be back on familiar territory.
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              Kim Taehyung was made to be an heir. It is of no matter that he does not want to, or that he has other ambitions. Pride and elegance are stitched into his spine, and the invisible threads holding together his expensive three-piece suit that is stretched across his shoulders are spun in powerful gold. You know that he risks irking his parents further by not engaging with their business partners and distant relatives, but you had thought he’d be going into this half-hearted, with the weight of unfulfilled expectation on his back and a rude retort to anybody who dares to so much as breathe a sly, cutting remark about his career choices. As the night progresses, you see just how sorely mistaken you had been.
              “Oh, of course I remember your daughter, Mrs. Lee. I was hoping to catch up with her tonight. Is she around?”
              Mrs. Lee simpers in second hand shyness as she tells the man on your arm that her daughter is out of the country at the moment, but she’d absolutely love for them to meet when she’s back.
              You clear your throat with a polite smile, your teeth flashing. Best not to forget that you’re right here. Taehyung chuckles next to you, his other hand that your arm isn’t wound around coming up to conspicuously rest on your fingers tucked in the crook of his elbow. “My girlfriend and I would love that, Mrs. Lee. Have a good evening.”
              Even with a slight that obvious, Taehyung manages to come off as charming, his back straight and chin up as the two of you escape from the twelfth person who’s come to proposition him on behalf of their offspring this night. His palm is warm as it continues to rest over your hand. Out of the corner of your eye, in between the mingling crowd, you catch a flash of an approving smile on Mrs. Kim’s face. You shuffle closer.
              “Didn’t know you were such a hot commodity,” you mutter, even as you continue sporting a pleasant smile on your face as the two of you aimlessly amble through the crowd that’s gathered on the ground floor of the same house where you had been introduced to Taehyung’s friends for the first time what feels like years ago. You’re confident in the knowledge that you won’t be left alone and in peace for too long before another hopeful approaches.
              “Shocked,” you correct immediately, trying not to smile too fondly at the low, appreciative laugh he lets out.
              “Mr. Kim! It’s been far too long. How is business?”
              The person who’s approached is weasel-like, and his nasal voice makes you want to throw a punch at him. But that might also be because of the obvious disdain in his tone as he says the last word. You’d rather not examine the reason for your defensiveness.
              Taehyung, on the other hand, has the patience of a saint, the experienced upbringing of an heir to an empire and the confidence of a man who’s just been solicited twelve times in the last hour. His easy grin doesn’t falter as he smoothly sidesteps, “Please, call me Taehyung. Mr. Kim is my father.”
              “Of course,” the man concedes, manner greasy and mockingly accommodating, before he shifts his attention to you. “And who might this be?”
              You move your palm to shake his hand, refraining from crushing his fingers. “Y/N. I’m Taehyung’s girlfriend.”
              “How is your wife, Mr. Park? I don’t think I’ve seen her this evening.”
              The man turns ashen, making you suspect that Taehyung’s hit a nerve with the question. He frowns and chidingly says, “Don’t embarrass me, boy. It is an open secret that we have...separated.”
              “I had absolutely no idea,” Taehyung replies, exaggerating regret in his voice. The hard glint in his eye makes you certain that he had all the idea in the world. “I’ve been a bit occupied with my business. I find it tiresome to keep up with these matters. Have a lovely evening.”
              And just like that, another critic cut down to size, you and Taehyung serenely glide away, leaving behind a sputtering victim. His diplomacy is unmistakably polite, veiled behind syrupy sweet words and a smile that can charm the hardest of people, but it’s no less biting.
              “His wife left him a month ago,” he explains softly when you look up at him with what you hope is more curiosity than impression. “All their shares in the company belonged to her, and he’s been ass-kissing for retribution ever since then.”
              Your eyebrow cocks up, surprise evident in your gaze. “I thought you didn’t care about what happened to the company.”
              “I don’t,” he winks. “I just like gossip.”
              His hair is black tonight per the request of his parents, probably dyed during the day since you had seen him just twenty-four hours ago with blue locks. With the dark navy suit and the confident tilt of his chin, he makes for an imposing figure. It’s no wonder that people seem to physically shrink out of the way when he walks past, cutting a path in the crowd. He’s a wildcard in the glittering room, and the guests seem to be equally drawn to him like a moth to a flame and wary of him like a cat to water. But uncertainty is nothing in the face of curiosity, and people continue to approach throughout the evening; if not for nothing else, just to see.
              You stand by his side the entire time, some part of him constantly in contact you; a palm on the back, a hand curled around fingers, elbows interlocked in silent support. You can feel the weight of speculative gazes on the two of you together, and you work your damnedest to seem natural. You smile and laugh and look at him adoringly, all the while wondering whether it seems so easy because you’ve just had a lot of practice or because you hardly have to put in any effort at all.
              He makes it so easy to believe that this is all real, that you could actually be attending this event as his legitimate plus one instead of being the admittedly costly key to his trust fund. You watch as Hyejin’s cautionary words are proved time and again right in front of your eyes, as he expertly wields his charismatic looks and easy confidence to leave the nicer conversation partners with hearts in their eyes, and to humble, humiliate and give a harsh reality check to the not-so-nice ones; all with a wide smile on his face and single pointed attention in his gaze. That’s how he gets them, and maybe that’s how he got you too, as much as you don’t want to admit it.
              “You want to take a break?”
              “I wouldn’t be opposed,” you carefully reply. “Will it be weird for us to walk out in the middle, though?”
              “Oh, absolutely.” His mischievous grin shows that he doesn’t care. “Let them think we’re sneaking out together.”
              The implication isn’t lost on you, but you can feel looks in your direction, prickling at your skin through your dress, as if waiting to catch you slipping up. You could do with a breather.
              At your confirmation, Taehyung discreetly leads you away from the centre of the room, towards the walls that are less crowded. Once he can tell that everybody who’s watching has turned back to their conversations, satisfied that there’s nothing of note to gossip and get excited about, he guides you out of the room. Not in the direction of the front entrance like you were expecting, and not even to the empty staircases that would have left you both in the open to be gawked at, but through a small door to the side leading to a dimly lit corridor that ends in what looks like the kitchen.
              You make to sit down on one of the chairs on the side, but he tightens his grip on your hand. When you look up at him questioningly, he puts a finger to his mouth and softly says with a shake of his head. “Not here. They’ll find us when they come in for more appetisers.”
              His palm burns in yours as you let him pull you further. It’s almost deafeningly quiet in the rest of the house, far away from the crowded room you’ve just left, and lighting is sparse. It only gets darker as he moves to the corner of the kitchen and guides you through another door that opens into what you surmise is a wine cellar.
              The room is small – smaller than all the others you’ve seen so far. It houses tall racks arranged in two columns filled with bottles, and the air smells a bit sweet and musty. Through the open door, you hear the sound of rapid footsteps approaching, likely waiters coming to the kitchen like Taehyung had predicted. On impulse, you nudge the door closed behind you. The soft click suddenly cuts out all the lights that had been filtering in from the adjacent room, and the ensuing darkness is only broken by two dull yellow bulbs hanging overhead.
              The sharp angles of Taehyung’s face are suddenly thrown into stark definition, and you hurriedly slip your palm out of his, instead opting to turn towards the column of shelves to the side closest to you, away from him, and attempt to engross yourself in the labels on the bottles at your eye level. He makes no remark, and the shuffle of his soft footsteps indicates that he’s doing the same on the other side. The only sound you can is the two of you breathing, and the thump of your heart beat.
              This is a different kind of awkwardness. Not the grim uncertainty before the talk last night, not the anticipatory shyness you had felt the first few times you had met him, not the crisp stubbornness you had employed at the exhibition and not the cool avoidance you had had to deal with for the two weeks you hadn’t spoken to each other. This awkwardness is associated with racing hearts and the hyperawareness of the distance between the two of you, fully caged behind fearful longing, overthinking and necessarily crushed hope.
              Your fingers twitch at your sides as your eyes unseeingly skim past labels, and then come up to find the other hand, just so you have something to hold and to keep steady. The silence stretches. You finish the first shelf in the column, imbibing nothing, and move to the one behind it. His footsteps stay away from you. You nearly jump when you hear the clink of a bottle being lifted off a rack, and by the time it’s set back down, you’ve scurried to the end of this shelf too.
              He hums something unintelligible, his voice low and soothing. It does nothing to ease the blood pounding in your ears, and only makes you wring your hands further. You almost wish you were back out there, in the middle of all the people. At least you’re lying to others then, which is infinitely easier than lying to yourself, when your body insists on throwing every proof of your misguided attachment in front of you like an unavoidable grenade.
              His voice is distant when he remarks, “I wish we had a bottle opener in here,” but it hits you like he’s standing right behind your frame and whispering the words in your ear, making you feel the timbre of his casual tone deep in your bones. When you reply with an acknowledging ‘Yeah’, you have to pinch your wrist to keep your voice steady and grounded.
              You wind in and out shelves, keeping an eye out so you don’t end up running into Taehyung in the middle of both columns, until you reach the second last one. You pause, pulling yourself out of your incoherent thoughts and forcing yourself to listen, searching for his footsteps. You find them getting louder. He’s coming towards you.
              In a flash, you move towards the wall, away from the direction in which he’s walking, intent on cutting around another shelf and emerging in the middle so you won’t be caught, but the moment you turn the corner, you stop short.
              He stands there, in between both columns of shelves, facing you with one hand casually tucked in his pocket and the other with the jacket of his suit draped over his forearm. The checked pocket square glares at you from its position on his waistcoat. Almost comically, one of the two bulbs hangs just a bit away from the top of his head, making him look like he’s under a spotlight, demanding your attention. As if anything could distract you right now.
              He looks you up and down. With a start, you realise that your hands are still clutching each other, and you immediately detach them, letting them hand by your sides once again. Your purse swings a little in the sudden jostling. It’s the first time you’ve slipped up in front of him, given him an indication of something other than the calm confidence you project, and it leaves you feeling awfully exposed despite the shadows that you’re thrown under.
              You say nothing, but you make sure your face is closed and back to the smooth mask of professionalism. It’s never been more difficult.
              He cocks his head to the side, tongue working his cheek before he grins – just a flash of teeth, tugging at your firmly rooted frame, and then he speaks. “You look nice in the dress.”
              “Thank you. It was a good choice.” Your voice comes out miraculously steady. Maybe your body hasn’t completely given up on you after all. “We should go back,” you suggest.
              “We should,” he nods in agreement. He doesn’t move. Neither do you.
              You’re glad for the terrible lighting. It means he can’t read your eyes. But luck is a double-edged sword; you can’t read him either. Why is he standing there, unmoving, almost adamantly keeping his gaze trained on you? What could he possibly gain by sending your heart into near palpitation?
              The beginnings of footsteps start filtering into the edge of your consciousness; first slowly, and then all in a rush, jolting you from all the feeling you’re trying in vain to avoid. You see a vivid flash of agitation in Taehyung’s face at the same moment you realise that somebody is about to open the cellar door, poised to discover the nearly disgraced heir to the hosts’ company far away from where he’s supposed to be, when he’s expected to socialise in the middle of a throng of equally admiring and suspicious relatives and business partners to please his parents who need to be kept happy and unaware of his escape. The gravity of the situation is not lost on either of you.
              Whatever tension was there in the air earlier snaps as both of you jump into action, swiftly making your way to the back of the room, intent on getting behind the last shelf. His breath echoes in your ears, his body so close to yours as you rapidly walk along the wall, keeping to the shadows. The door begins to creak.
              There’s hardly any space between the shelf and the back of the room, and if this were two minutes ago, you would have hightailed it out of there, unwilling to be cloistered in such close quarters with this man for fear of betraying your emotions, but you hardly have time to think about the repercussions, invested as you are in being hidden as soon as possible.
              You end up with your back against the shelf, the glass of the bottles cold against your body even through your dress, and your front cringing away from Taehyung’s chest. As the door finally opens in the front of the room, you fight to keep your breathing steady, knowing that he can detect any hitch because of how close the two of you are pressed and with your face directly at level with the skin of his neck. The slow puff of air in and out of his nose lightly hits the top of your head. Your hands are balled into fists, unwilling to unfurl for fear of reaching out to the man in front of you. You resolutely refuse to look up.
              Sound filters in from the kitchen as somebody calls out to the person who has entered the room. “Make it quick, will you? Just bring anything.”
              Inside, the entrant’s voice echoes as he irately replies. “Don’t rush me! I’m not going to risk getting fired because I served the wrong wine.”
              You hold your breath as he walks further into the room. In front of you, Taehyung is still as a rock. The footsteps get louder and you pray to the universe that they stop before reaching the back.
              The man must be around six rows away from you now, picking up and replacing bottles periodically, humming in a considering or dismissive manner occasionally. You’re inclined to agree with the person in the kitchen. Just take anything.
              As if you had summoned her, you hear a second pair of footsteps entering the cellar, much to your chagrin. Unable to stop yourself, you roll your eyes in exasperation at the turn of events. You want nothing more than to be out of here. From above, you hear an amused huff. You can’t stop yourself from tilting your neck back so you can see Taehyung’s face, and you find him already looking back at you. Even in the shadows, the ever-present twinkle in his eyes is visible, lips curled in mirth at your annoyance. You wish you could, but you can’t look away.
              “What’s taking you so long?” the woman says, impatience mirroring your own.
              “I’m almost done, don’t interrupt – “
              “Just take one, it doesn’t matter.”
              “I will not just take one. Wait.”
              You feel equal parts relief and respect as the woman finally, finally, says, “Fine, then I’ll take one. Here, look? Done. Now stop wasting time.” The man grumbles something not entirely nice and you hear bottles being replaced before footsteps move away.
              But you make the mistake of celebrating too early, letting out the breath that you had been holding before you hear the door close. In the ensuing slouch of your frame, your back presses against the bottles you had been resting on, and you hear them shift. With how you’re already stubbornly angled away from Taehyung’s body, that little movement is all it takes for you to lose your balance, and you’re suspended on your heels for an endless second with panic writ large on your face. The door to the cellar still hasn’t closed, you know they haven’t left, and you think this is it. You’re going to knock down a shelf, and then that shelf will knock down the other and it’ll keep going until the floor is full of broken bottles and spilt wine, leaving you and Taehyung exposed.
              Your worst-case scenario never plays out, because the next thing you know, you’re pressed against a firm chest with an arm around your waist holding you tight and steadying you. Your hands instinctively wrap around your rescuer, and in all the excitement, you let out a small squeak.
              It sounds like a marching band in the quietness of the room.
              “Did you hear something?”
              The arm around your waist tightens as you hear one of the servers turn. They sound far away, like they were on the threshold of the door when you fucked up. So close, yet so far.
              Taehyung smells like roses.
              You prepare yourself for the worst, cursing at your pre-emptive relief as the footsteps get closer, when the other server says, “Now you’re just stalling.”
              Your thoughts are running a mile a minute. All the hand holding, all the arms-over-shoulders – they all tame in comparison to this. They’re all casual, for show, to keep up the ruse. But this? With the smell of his perfume filling your senses and his thighs pressed to yours, so close that you can feel the rise and fall of his chest with each worried breath and the pounding of his heart in a rhythm that mimics your own? This is far more intimate and personal. And dangerous.
              The footsteps stop, and an insistent voice pleads, “No, I swear. I heard something.”
              “It was probably a rat. We’ve wasted enough time, come on.”
              This time, you don’t relax until the door closes and their arguing voices fade, away from the cellar, away from the kitchen. You don’t let go of Taehyung’s body until you can hear nothing but the sound of your own too careful breathing, his arm still solid around you. You’re about to move, when you make the mistake of looking up.
              You feel a sense of déjà vu as you see him facing down, eyes boring holes into yours. In slow motion, as if you’re outside looking in, you notice his free hand rising, the jacket crumpling into the crook of his elbow as his fingers stop bare inches away from your cheek. You can feel the heat of his palm on your face as it hovers. He’s no longer amused; only a curious uncertainty mars his expression. It looks dreadfully out of place compared to his usually sure, easy expression. You’re stock still.
              When his fingers make contact with your skin, the spell breaks.
              You jerk away from him, swiftly pulling out of the suddenly stifling circle of his arms and sidling out of the tiny space as fast as you can. You don’t look back until you reach the end of the shelf, stood in the middle of the columns and willing yourself to calm down. Your cheek burns where his fingers made split second contact, and your heart is sure to beat out of your chest, but you force yourself to think. Logic will make things easier. You remember the job, you remember the money, you remember Hyejin’s words and put everything else on the backburner.
              When you turn around, your mask is back on and so is his.
              Taehyung doesn’t meet your eyes when he says, voice rough, “Sorry.”
              “Okay. We should go back.”
              There’s no resistance this time. You look away as he tugs his jacket back on, smoothing the lapels. When you walk out of the cellar back to the party, side by side, both of you keep your distance.
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               Kim Taehyung: my parents wanted to know if you’d be able to make it for brunch next week
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              “I need an excuse.”
              “Good morning to you too,” Hyejin dryly replies, signalling you to continue as she takes another sip of her coffee.
              You take the seat across from her on the table, your feet erratically tapping on the floor below and your fingers fidgeting as they fold together on the surface in front of you. “Yes, very good morning. If one were to require a mildly fabricated reason to skip out on an engagement, what would you suggest they do?”
              She ignores your question, instead opting to fix you with a look that’s equal parts concerned and exasperated. “Have you been getting enough sleep?”
              You wave her off, but still attempt to discreetly move your face so it isn’t in the direct path of the morning sunlight streaming in through the window, hoping she won’t notice the tiredness in your eyes. How are you supposed to tell her that in the last three days, you’ve cumulatively slept for fourteen hours?
              Her eyes narrow a fraction at your clear disregard for her well-placed worry, but she doesn’t push, probably recognising that you don’t want to talk about whatever has been bothering you now. “What do you need an excuse for? What did you do?”
              “What makes you think I did anything?” you ask, trying to inflect offense. It’s half-hearted to your own ears. Didn’t you do something? Or almost do something?
              You get a lazy, unimpressed eyebrow lift and a silent sip of coffee in response.
              Sighing softly, you amend, “Okay, fine. Maybe something was done by one of the parties involved.” At her prodding look, you evasively continue, “That may or may not give some cause for thought.”
              “More thought that you’ve given it holed up in your room for the last four days without talking to anybody?”
              You’re about to deny her allegation, indignantly reply that you haven’t been holed up, but the words stop short at the tip of your tongue. Isn’t this the longest conversation you’ve had with her since you came back that evening?
              “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to avoid you,” you reply in lieu of a direct answer. “I’ve just been busy.”
              “Yes, thinking.” There’s no sense in refuting it.
              The two of you survey each other silently across the table. Your nervous energy has long since evaporated, leaving you tired and slumped in your chair, and Hyejin’s cup is now empty, all her attention on you. The weight of your phone burns in your pocket.
              “I had to talk Jungkook out of an intervention,” she begins. “He was ready to do all your assignments for you.”
              “What did you say?” Both you and Hyejin know that you needed those submissions to distract yourself.
              “I told him he could do mine instead. He refused.”
              Your lips quirk up on the side unbidden, and she mirrors your expression with a small smile. “Is this an intervention?” you ask, suddenly suspicious.
              “Depends. Is it working?”
              “I don’t know. I’m tired.”
              “Do you want to talk about it?” she asks, the closest to invasive she’s ever been. So it is an intervention.
              There’s no sense in stalling anymore. "Say, hypothetically, if something happened between certain persons involved, and it wasn’t supposed to happen – “
              “Could you be just a little bit vaguer? I don’t think this explanation is confusing enough.”
              You huff and shoot her with a reproachful look, letting her know that you don’t appreciate her sarcasm. But still, it serves to nudge you a little closer to coherence as you restart. “At the gala, there was a moment.”
              Confused, she asks, “A moment of what?”
              This is it. You take a deep breath and then say, “A moment where he and I did something.”
              “Did what? You’re talking in circles, get to the point.”
              “There was an almost-kiss!” you blurt out, sudden desperation lacing your words, watching as Hyejin’s eyes widen before settling into something wary.
              “Was it because somebody was watching, to not blow your cover?” she asks.
              “No,” you mutter softly, voice barely over a whisper. Still, it seems to echo in the stillness of the room. “We were alone in his wine cellar.”
              At Hyejin’s baffled expression, you relate the entire sordid tale. You begin at the full, unabridged conversation in his room and then move to the fateful night, finally ending by pulling up the message you had received an hour ago, the first instance of contact from Taehyung in four days, and showing it to her. She stares at the screen, stunned into momentary silence as you lean back in your chair, feeling lighter after finally letting go of everything you’ve been holding onto.
              “It’s like the both of you have the same, twisted understanding of client boundaries,” she mutters, nearly in awe.
              “I know,” you whine, relieved that somebody else is there to share the burden of the stupidity now. “It would have been so much easier if he just hadn’t done anything. Then I could have happily continued agonising over whatever feelings I had and then got rid of them next month, but no. He just had to go and pull something this idiotic.” You end your rant with a disgusted click of your tongue before letting your head fall on the table in front of you in a gesture of annoyed helplessness.
              “So we’re admitting you had feelings now?” she asks, her voice coming through muffled through the barrier of your arms resting on the table and cocooning your head.
              You come up for a second, just to give her a sour look. “We have bigger fish to fry, Hyejin. That ship has sailed.”
              “You know…” she starts, and you hear the soft thump of your phone being set back down on the wood somewhere near your head. “It isn’t so big a deal that you can’t finish the job. There’s just a month left, like you said.”
               You come up for good this time. “Were you listening at all? How on earth can I face him again after that? It’ll be so awkward.”
              “Or romantic.”
              You look at her like she’s grown a second head, waiting for her to continue. She fixes you with a significant expression, making sure you aren’t about to immediately interrupt and then explains, “You’re both pining. Won’t that come across to people as cute? All the lingering touches and unsaid words and secret smiles?”
              You sputter at her teasing, rushing to indignantly clarify, “There are no lingering touches and all that other crap. I am a professional, I’ll have you know.”
              “Then go be a professional. Use whatever happened to your advantage. It’s just a matter of covering up the awkwardness with a little acting. Or maybe chip away at the acting, since you’re so comfortable now with feeling things.”
              You think it over, letting the words crystallise and ignoring the internal cringe at the way she had phrased the last part. She isn’t wrong. “And what about him?”
              The fact that you’ve stolidly refrained from saying his name throughout the conversation doesn’t evade either of you, but she doesn’t push it. “Don’t bring it up unless he does. Makes it a little mysterious.”
              “You’re having far too much fun with this,” you grouse. She doesn’t even bother to deny your accusation, only wordlessly sliding your phone closer to you so you can reply to the offending message before you overthink it to death for another four days.
              I’ll be there.
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              It’s a bracelet this time – platinum chain links interspersed with small gold stars that twinkle when the sunlight hits them just right.
              Taehyung doesn’t look at you, paying too much attention to the nearly empty road in front of the car. You fiddle with the new jewellery on your wrist that had been waiting for you in the passenger seat when you entered. You knew what you had to do. There was no reason for conversation other than short and conspicuously unbothered greetings.
              He pulls into the familiar driveway, parks in the same spot as he had last time, and the two of you walk to the front door in silence. No wine this time, just a bouquet of flowers that he cradles in the crook of his elbow. He rings the doorbell and then hesitantly lets his hand drop against yours. Your cheek burns at the previous time you had skin to skin contact. Unceremoniously, you tangle your fingers with his. How can something feel so familiar, but so foreign?
              Mr. Kim opens the door this time, greeting the two of you far more politely than he had previously. He grunts in thanks for the flowers that his son hands over and leads the two of you into the dining room. No waterfall to distract you this time.
              The moment you’re both seated and not a second later, Taehyung lets go of your hand, his fingers grazing your palm as they pull away. You’re horrified to hear Hyejin’s voice in your head teasing ‘lingering touches’.
              You aren’t sure what went down in the two brunches you had missed, but there’s a marked difference in the quality of interaction between the Kims. And today, they make a conscious effort to include you. Taehyung hadn’t been joking when he said that his parents like you.
              There are minimal signs of confrontation for you to de-escalate this time, save for the occasions when Mr. Kim passingly but significantly mentions the trials and tribulations of finding somebody else to take over the company when he retires. Years of misunderstanding and a lack of mature interaction can’t be eroded in a few months.
              Eventually, with no biting comments to distract them this time, they shift their focus to you. At least with this, you’re on solid ground. You answer questions about your classes and your plans after college. You’re touched when they try to invite you over to their place for Christmas if you aren’t going back home, but you’re quick to politely decline. You and Taehyung will be breaking up right about then.
              This is the easy part. The eating and the drinking and the answering of rehearsed questions and the gracious laughter as they say something they think is funny. What unsettles you is the tiny flashes in Taehyung’s expression, cracks in his smooth mask. You see it out of the corner of your eye as you discuss the bracelet with Mrs. Kim, your voice betraying your genuine fondness; but for once, you don’t try to hide it. Just as you’re leaning back in your seat, you catch sight of the look in Taehyung’s face that’s half turned to you – unreserved, open, and awfully reminiscent of the stillness it had held when his arm was tight around your body and his hand was hovering next to your cheek.
              It makes a reappearance as you’re talking up the garden to Mr. Kim, a tiny grin joining the already too sweet picture as you gush over fertiliser compositions that you both know you couldn’t really care less about. By the time you notice it again, as you’re passing the container filled with lemon squares to him per his request, your nerves are fraught with the strain of the knowledge that you’re being watched, and that you’re being watched like that. He’s quick to wipe it from his face when he sees that you’ve realised, and it smacks you upside on the head that he doesn’t want you to know. Going by the momentary quizzical flash that passes like a swift shadow across his face, maybe he hadn’t known either.
              Secret smiles.
              You need to get out of here right now.
              Mercifully, it doesn’t take long for the farewells. There’s decidedly less animosity in the family compared to what it was like previously, and you hope that means Taehyung will get the trust fund soon. Maybe even before you pack up shop and leave in the next three weeks. You’ve stopped entertaining the possibility of hanging around to see it come to fruition. Now all you want to do is hightail it out of this mess.
              The walk to the car from the house is tense, at least for you. There’s always a chance that somebody from the house might be looking through a window, so your hand remains ensconced in his large one. You fight to not memorise the feeling of the lines on his palm burning into yours; there’s no point. This time, you’re the one to pull away first, the instant you’re both out of eyeshot.
              The drive back is silent, as expected, and you don’t catch a repeat of the LookTM, as you’ve come to dub it in your brain, for which you’re thankful. You aren’t sure how much more you can take. It’s only when he finally pulls up outside your apartment that the quietness is broken.
              You wordlessly unclasp the bracelet and hold it out for him to take.
              “Keep it,” he says.
              Oh, fuck no.
              You don’t look at him as you gently place it inside the cup holder on the console in between the front seats. The minute interaction has sent the silence through a sieve, leaving it thinner and anticipatory, the atmosphere changing from a thick rope to an easily snappable thread. You should just leave. You should say goodbye, open the door and walk into your apartment with no ceremony; but the thought of being so formal and detached makes your skin crawl.
              “Your parents seem to be warming up,” you offer up as tribute to a conversation that’s filled with ambiguity before it’s even begun.
              “You deserve a lot of credit for that. Thank you.”
              You don’t look at each other. You don’t have to. The genuineness is amply clear in his voice, even when the words are directed towards the windshield that you’re both facing, stiff and unwilling or unable to move.
              “Glad I could help,” you reply, hazarding a perfunctory nod.
              The thread thins further in the ensuing quiet. When he sighs in preparation to say whatever it is that he’s going to say, it’s pulled impossibly taut, just a miniscule, weak tug away from finally snapping.
              “About the gala – “
              “Don’t worry about it.”
              You have to keep from laughing at your word choice. You have to get out of this car. You have to run far, far away from Kim Taehyung and his questionable actions with your feelings, and his terrible decision to bring up what you’ve been studiously avoiding, and his fluffy, black hair and his permanently twinkling eyes and his easy banter and his terrible gaming skills and his LookTM.
              But you stay. The thread has long since been cut.
              “Are you sure?” he asks. You can hear muted agitation in his voice. You risk a peek at his reflection and notice that he’s chewing his lip in concern. “I’m sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable.”
              You wave his consternation away. “It’s alright.”
              “Okay,” he concedes, making you let out an internal sigh of relief. “If you’re sure.” He’s indulging you. Not pressing despite the fact that you can both feel the weight of what happened hanging over your heads like a sword. But if you don’t want to talk about it, he won’t make you.
              Words can’t even begin to explain how unsure you are, and once again, you feel a slightly worrying urge to burst into hysterical laughter at how far from the truth you’re straying. What would he say if he found out that you haven’t been able to sleep properly, that you’ve been throwing yourself into college work with all the gusto of the straight-A student that you used to be in high school, that you had been avoiding your friends to avoid talking or thinking about him?
              “I’m sure.”
              He nods. You unbuckle your seat belt. The sound rings in your ears; too loud, too conspicuous, too symbolic and too dangerous around a thread that you’ve just haphazardly and messily repaired with painfully temporary untruths.
              “Is that all?” you ask, trying not to sound too eager.
              “Actually,” he begins. “Jin has a lake house where we usually spend the holidays. We’re going the weekend before Christmas this year, and they wanted to know if you could make it.”
              The weekend before Christmas is when your semester gets over. He knows it, you know it, and you can’t plead schoolwork to get out of it. It’s also a week before the breakup is scheduled. One last hurrah.
              “I’ll let you know,” you compromise.
              Unsaid words.
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              Kim Taehyung: we need a headcount for the transport tomorrow. do we count you in?
              Your last paper is over. You’re done with the semester. There’s nothing holding you back, and there’s nobody to stop you.
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              “Y/N! We’re glad you could make it!”
              The wooden house towers over and around you, the open windows letting in a chilly draft that makes you grateful for your woollen jumper. “Thanks for inviting me,” you reply with a smile, a little conscious at having the attention of all four people in the room on you.
              Jin waves away your politeness as he smiles, “Nonsense. We’re happy to introduce you to the annual tradition.”
              The consequences of your post-exam, impulsive actions only really hit you in the morning, when you had woken up and realised what you had agreed to. You had lied down on your bed, staring at the ceiling at 7 AM, waiting for some sign that it was all a confusing dream. But a quick look at your phone, with messages from Taehyung telling you that Lisa and Jimin would be picking you up from your apartment around mid-morning, was sad confirmation enough. It was harder to explain to Hyejin after that what you had gotten yourself into, mostly because you yourself weren’t entirely sure.
              You straddled the line between relieved and disappointed when you found out that you wouldn’t be spending four hours in a car with Taehyung, but Lisa and Jimin hadn’t let you dwell on it for too long. When you weren’t dozing off in the back, still recovering from the semester, they had graciously included you in their fun. You felt like a fraud, pretending to be so comfortable with them, but you felt that you owed them that much. This might be the last time you hang out with them, after all.
              There hasn’t been a whole lot of interaction between you and Taehyung over the last three weeks. You had been focused on school work and he had kept his distance. Apart from an encouraging ‘All the best for your finals!’ message from him, there had been virtually no conversation until the day of your last paper, when he wanted to confirm if you’d be joining on the trip. You don’t want to say you missed him – you were too busy for that; but some part of you is still a little giddy at meeting him again, as awkward as the last time had been.
              However, he isn’t there in the large living room. Jin, Irene and Yoongi have reached before your group, and they lounge around the cozy cushions in comfortable silence interspersed with occasional chatter. It’s only late afternoon, but the weather is cold enough for everybody to be bundled up in woollens and blankets. The forecast predicts snow soon. You hover with your backpack at the door, uncertain about where to go, when Jimin, who’s walked in with you, notices.
              “You’ll be bunking with Tae, of course. Where is he?” he asks the others.
              “Bringing in the supplies with Joon and Jennie.”  Yoongi’s tone is lazy, unconcerned. You are not.
              You try not to show your surprise on your face, but you’re speaking before you can stop yourself. “Jennie?”
              “Yeah, didn’t Tae tell you? She joins us whenever she happens to be visiting during this part of the year,” Jin says.
              You’re saved the bother of a reply by the entry of the three absentees at that moment through the back door. They’re each holding heavy crates of what you suspect are alcohol bottles, and Taehyung is mid-grumble about how they should have taken more people to carry the stuff, when they notice that the last car has arrived. You stand there with a hand on the strap of your backpack and the other hanging down as you take him in after so long.
              His black hair is longer, nearly brushing the bottom of his ears and framing his face perfectly. He’s wearing a dark blue jumper that stretches across his shoulders and he looks so warm that you nearly forget that he had omitted to mention the tiny fact that Jennie would be present. But it’s easy to forget everything else when he catches sight of you and his frown curves into an easy, genuine smile. Despite yourself, you have to mimic him.
              “Let me keep these in the kitchen. I’ll show you to the room then,” he says in lieu of a welcome.
              You wave at Jennie and Namjoon as they follow Taehyung into the kitchen when they greet you. In the minute it takes for them to return, the others in the room exchange sly glances that set you on edge until Yoongi airily comments, “I pity the fool who has to share a wall with them tonight.”
              You’re the fool, you think ruefully, letting your blush speak for you despite your inner turmoil. You’re all the fools who’ve been strung along for months with no clue that this is probably the last time you’re going to see me.
              It’s embarrassingly easy and almost instinctive to slip your hand into Taehyung’s when he comes back. All misgivings you had had about whether it would be awkward given the nature of your not-relationship and the dangling ends you had left the previous meeting with lock themselves into a tight box. You can only think about the solid, comforting warmth of his palm in yours and aching familiarity with which he smiles down at you as you walk out of the room towards a small corridor with doors lining either side.
              “We’ve got the one at the end,” he explains, not letting go of your hand even when you’re both out of eyeshot. You’re treading a dangerous path, but you aren’t going to complain. “Right opposite Jimin and Joon,” he continues, pushing open the door to the room you’ll be staying in for the next two nights, until Monday morning when you leave.
              It’s easily the room with the best view; large open windows on one side face the lake and smaller windows on either side of the bed open to show the edge of the woods that surround the house. There’s an attached bathroom and a single wooden wardrobe that you stash your bag in, next to Taehyung’s. Then you turn around and survey the singular bed.
              He points at the futon near the door that already has blankets and pillows on it and says, “I’ll take the couch.”
              Before you can stop yourself, you reply, “You don’t have to.”
              There’s an entire bed between the two of you, for fuck’s sake, but you can feel the uncertainty in his tone when he replies, “I can’t let you sleep on the couch. This is your first time in the house, I won’t deprive you of a bed.”
              “It’s a large bed. I’m sure we can both fit.”
              He looks at the offending piece of furniture, then up at you, and then back at the bed.
              You rush to backtrack. “Unless you don’t want to, of course. I don’t mean to tell you where to sleep, if you’d be more comfortable on – “
              “I’m fine with it if you’re fine with it.”
              “I’m fine with it.”
              “Alright, then.”
              Both your voices are light, but there’s an easily perceptible shift in the room and the beginnings of the tension that had enveloped you the last time you had been together. And you’ve only been here less than an hour.
              As if to cement the agreement, Taehyung walks towards the bedding and gathers the quilt and pillow in his arms from the futon before going to the cupboard behind you. The hairs on your arm stand on end as he brushes against you on his way, but you don’t make a sound. He places them in the bottom rack and then closes the door before straightening up to face you. “If you feel uncomfortable in the middle of the night, let me know. I really don’t mind.”
              You nod, softening at his thoughtfulness. But there’s still something nagging at you. “Didn’t know Jennie would be here,” you hum, and for the first time, you meet his gaze head-on. You need to know.
              He pauses, not answering but contemplating. “Should I have told you?”
              “I don’t know.”
              You could cut the sudden tension in the room with a knife, as both of you continue to stare each other down, expressions closed, waiting for the other to say something that won’t upset this precarious balance you’ve got going.
              It’s a tentative rap on the door that pulls your attention away. Jimin’s voice comes muffled through the wooden door as he says, “If you guys have finished…reacquainting, we’re about to start lunch.”
              “We’ll be there in a moment,” Taehyung replies as you hurriedly move to freshen up from the drive, cursing at yourself for your foolishness. What right do you have to act like a jealous partner? You wash your face almost furiously and look at your reflection, willing yourself to steel your nerves and to stop fancying that this is something more than a job.              
              Isn’t it, though?
              Outside the bathroom door, the floorboards softly creak as Taehyung paces.
              It’s going to be a long weekend.
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              If the compulsive overthinking doesn’t do you in first, the cold will be to blame for your premature death.
              You rub your palms up and down your upper arms in an effort to stay warm as you longingly watch Irene, Jin and Namjoon try to coax fire out of the stacked wood in the backyard. The sun has long since set, leaving them to work with the light streaming out of the house and the torch of your phone that you’ve been employed to hold up. The others are inside collecting drinks, marshmallows and blankets.
              After a quick lunch, you had pleaded a headache chalked up to the academic tension of the previous month and had gone for what was supposed to be a nap, but a quick look at the dark sky outside the room window as you groggily sat up declared that you had overslept. When you had stepped out of the room, you saw the place bustling with activity, and Jin quickly employed you to help them light the bonfire.
              Unfortunately, the bonfire itself didn’t get the memo and seems to have no intention of being lit. Used matchsticks litter the ground as they continue to try in vain to get the wood to catch flame. Each breath comes out as a white puff of air from your mouth, even with your hoodie. You wish you had gloves.
              “Cold?” an enviously bundled up Namjoon asks, shooting you an amused look out of the corner of his eye.
              Taehyung had told you that you would need to carry warm, full clothing, but you had grossly underestimated just how bad it would be. Unlike everybody else, who’s come fully prepared.
              With a sheepish smile, you reply, “I didn’t believe Tae fully when he told me about the weather here.”
              “It’ll probably snow tonight,” Irene observes, standing from her hunched-up position and groaning as she stretches for a second before crouching back down. “If there’s enough, we can get the sled out tomorrow.”
              “Do you go out on the lake?” you ask, attempting to distract yourself from the chattering of your teeth.
              “Never during this time of the year. There’s a canoe, but if anybody falls in, hypothermia is a guarantee,” Jin grins. “And I’d like to not spend my holidays as well treating sick patients.”
              Taehyung and Jennie walk out from the house at that moment, pulling your attention away. There’s a tug in your gut as you watch them laugh together as they make their way towards the four of you, both of them carrying brightly coloured marshmallow packets; but even to your almost permanently cynical eye, there’s a perceptible difference in the way they’ve been interacting compared to the exhibition. He doesn’t lean into her as much now. As they get closer, they drop the goods on a chair nearby and join the group that’s now surrounding the sad bundle of sticks.
              “Does nobody have a lighter?” Jennie asks with a frown on her face as she surveys the matchsticks spread out on the floor.
              “There might be one near the kitchen stove,” Jin says thoughtfully. It seems to be worth checking, so he and Jennie walk back into the house.
              Taehyung turns towards you. “How are you not freezing?” he asks, scrutinising your impractical outfit.
              “I most definitely am.” Cold air escapes from your mouth as you speak. You turn off the flashlight on your phone and tuck the device into the pocket of your hoodie, keeping your hands there so they can be at least a little warmer.
              He notices your discomfort and a grimace crosses his face. “This won’t do,” he mutters, eyebrows knit together. “Give me your hands.”
              You see no way around it. Irene and Namjoon are still standing nearby; even with the closeness between your and Taehyung’s bodies, it’s quiet enough for them to pick up on every word. And you’re cold, goddammit.
              His hands are blessedly warm from being inside when they enclose each of yours. It’s intimate in a way you haven’t let yourself feel with him before – the weather has obviously addled your instincts. He takes one hand in between both of his, rubbing soothingly; or maybe it’s just soothing to you. You wordlessly watch as he easily covers your hand with his own, his fingers dipping in between yours occasionally to warm you up before he repeats the same with your other hand. In the second-hand light coming out from the house, his cheeks hollow as he gathers both your hands, cupped in his, and brings them up to his mouth to blow on them. The calluses on his palm brush against your knuckles, and his lips are barely a centimetre away from your skin.
              You’re warm now, but for all the wrong reasons.
              He’s fully focused on your fingers, his attention on your hands that he’s still holding and rubbing and blowing on, but you can’t look away from his face. When his eyes dart up unexpectedly, you’re given no warning, no time to move your gaze elsewhere. His expression is arresting, and he doesn’t break eye contact until he’s gently brought your arms back down and let them go with one last rub. The ghost of his skin haunts yours as he takes a step back, suddenly frazzled, face closing up in an instant.
              “Thank you,” you whisper, unsure as to why.
              “You’re welcome,” he replies, tone brusque.
              At that moment, Jin and Jennie return with a delighted shout of ‘We found the lighter!’. In the ensuing bustle, as you all go back to surrounding the unlit bonfire, you and Taehyung slip away from each other, trying to put people in between you.
              Your heart is beating out of your chest. That was too close, too reckless. If it happens again, you aren’t sure you’ll be able to keep yourself from doing something stupid. Thankfully or not, Taehyung seems to have come to the same conclusion as you. When the fire is finally lit and everybody’s outside and sitting on chairs, he ends up on the opposite side of the circle.
              The placement gives you too good a view and too much leeway for painful decisions. You’re thankful for the conversation happening around. If there had been silence with nothing to distract you, you wouldn’t have been able to pull your eyes away from him. He laughs at something Yoongi says next to him, and the sound is as rich as you remember it being. When he takes a sip of beer, the bob of his Adam’s apple is highlighted by the fire in between the two of you.
              You wish you could say you’re being discreet, that you’re subconsciously storing all these images in your mind secretly, but you’re just a few steps away from openly staring, and it’s only a matter of time before he notices. The reflection of the flames dance in his eyes as he doesn’t look away, and you have to fight to break eye contact and refocus on whatever Lisa’s saying next to you.
              As the fire begins to get smaller and the embers smoulder and slowly die out, you all trail in to the dining table. Even here, by mutual, unspoken consent, you keep your distance from each other. Complete avoidance is impossible for countless reasons, one of which is that you simply don’t want to; but it’s easier to pay less attention to him and to your own, blown-out-of-proportion internal reactions at every little thing he does here, when he isn’t in your direct line of sight. Jennie is on your right-hand side, and she proves to be an entertaining and interesting conversation partner.
              Your good luck carries forward to when you trudge to the living room, Namjoon already expertly shuffling a deck of playing cards. As you sit around the low table, your knee bumps into Irene’s next to you, and you feel a different kind of melancholy at how easily she smiles at you. How easily everybody smiles at you, how attentively they listen to your answers when they ask you about college, how graciously they include you in their conversations and banter.
              How soon you’ll slip out of their lives.
              You haven’t spoken about it to Taehyung yet, but you know that it’s on his mind too. After tomorrow, you’ll get your final instalment of the payment and you’ll be finished. The painfully uncertain, nearly magnetic push and pull that you’ve got going with him is temporary, as much as you don’t want it to be.
              It’s only a matter of time before your luck runs out, and you know that avoidance is no longer possible as people begin to sleepily meander into their rooms to go to bed. Goodnights are called as the group splits up slowly, doors closing and lights being turned off. You and Taehyung separate from Namjoon and Jimin last, and you turn into your room the same time as they do with sleepy smiles.
              Suddenly, there are no human buffers to hide behind anymore.
              The door softly creaks shut with a foreboding you shouldn’t be feeling. But you’ve been feeling a lot of things you shouldn’t lately. You’re wide awake after your nap in the car and your decided non-nap in the evening, but your roommate’s eyes droop just a bit. You wordlessly gesture at him to go get changed first, and spend your waiting time trying to distract yourself from your thoughts by turning on the dimmer lights. It doesn’t prove a very efficient diversion – it’ll take more than the paltry act of flicking switches to pull you out of your mind that seems to be surrounding your body whole these days.
              When he steps out, ready for bed in what looks like the cosiest pullover in existence, you take his place. Again, you need to have a pep talk with your reflection. You wash your face once, twice, thrice, hoping that you can shock yourself with cold water into calming down. It works marginally well. You re-emerge to find Taehyung standing at the foot of the bed.
              “Do you prefer a side?” he asks, voice slightly rough from sleep, pitched lower than its already deep tone.
              “Not particularly.”
              He nods, moving towards the side closer to the door, allowing you to walk to the one near the wall. Wordlessly, easily, too comfortably, the two of you fall into a rhythm of closing windows and drawing curtains. Your toes wriggle in your socks as they scuff the wooden flooring. When you’ve turned back around to face the bed after pulling the last curtain shut on your side, you notice that he’s got the spare blanket from inside the wardrobe, so you both won’t have to share one.
              You slip under the covers, resolutely not looking at him. He does the same.
              The bed is big. Still, you can feel the heat of his body next to yours. In the sudden quiet after the bustle of flapping curtains and padding across wood, everything seems to sound deafening.
              His breaths next to you are too measured. Outside, an owl hoots.
              Your postures are identical; both stiff-bodied, palms resting on your stomachs, legs stretched out unmoving under the blankets. It’s your least preferred position to sleep in, but you don’t dare curl up on your side when the lights are still on.
              “Are the switches on your side?” you ask, knowing full well where the switches are.
              “Oh, yeah. Sorry.”
              Still, you don’t move.
              The mattress had shifted when he moved to turn off the lights, and then again when he settled back down in the same position. It’s made you hyper-aware of how close he is, how the slightest motion can disturb the heavy stillness.
              As your eyes adjust to the lack of light, your other senses prickle. Neither of you move. The owl hasn’t stopped hooting. You realise how your breath has picked up pace and calm yourself, slowing down to calculated inhales. There’s no question of him not noticing – there are no secrets in a darkness this loud.
              You should turn. You should go to sleep. You shouldn’t be here. You don’t want to leave.
              The slope of the ceiling stares back at you, illuminated by the faint light from outside, and you interlock your fingers over your stomach. A silent show of support to yourself.
              You had hoped that Taehyung would fall asleep soon, judging by how drowsy he had been, but he’s perfectly still next to you. Somewhere along the way, his breaths have come to adjust to a cadence similar to yours.
              “Do you have enough space?” he asks, voice soft and low. It reminds you of honey. It reminds you of angry bees.
              “Yeah. You?”
              “I’m good.”
              Silence again.
              You wonder if this is how the entire night is going to go – neither of you moving, bodies laid out in awkward discomfort, a million unsaid words stacked in the inches of air in between. Maybe he’ll fall asleep without meaning to. Maybe you can finally see him unseen then.
              He shifts. It’s a small thing, probably just a downward wriggle to cover more of himself under the blanket, or a quick repositioning of his leg that’s begun to fall asleep, but you can feel it deep in your bones. Your breath hitches and you completely stop breathing for a second.
              “What happens tomorrow?” he asks, mercifully waiting until you’ve resumed regular airflow into your lungs.
              “Irene said we might bring out the sled if it snows tonight.” That isn’t what he’s asking, and he knows that you know.
              He clears his throat before continuing. “I meant about the…job.”
              Your voice is blank, devoid of feeling when you reply, “The agreed upon period gets over. If you want me present for a staged break up, it’s an additional ten percent.”
              The ensuing silence stretches. Ten seconds, twenty seconds, half a minute. He clears his throat again, as if about to say something, but you get no response. You hear him breathe through his mouth when he opens it for a split second, and again, you wait for him to reply. Again, he says nothing.
              You offer no assistance. No more.
              When he finally does speak, it sounds like he’s steeled himself to say the words, his tone exactly the same as your previous, impersonal one. “I can handle the break up myself.”
              The quiet is tinged with something sour this time. But you’ve had enough.
              “Good night,” you mumble.
              “Good night,” he replies.
              He sounds mellow. The owl hoots again.
              In a fit of bravery, you take the plunge and fully turn to face the wall with your back to Taehyung. You feel him do the same to you.
              You don’t know how long it takes, but he falls asleep first. You listen to his breath evening out and getting deeper, as you continue to stare unseeing at the wall, your eyelids finally fluttering shut sometime later.
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              A foot touches yours before it retreats hastily.
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              There’s fabric between your fingers – soft fluffy material you can’t bring yourself to let go of in your unconsciousness. It smells like roses.
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              It’s cold. Your blanket is nice, but it isn’t enough. Warmth appears in the form of a heavy arm around your waist, and a handy nook that you’ve managed to worm your head into. It’s smooth like skin.
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              Your quilt is a barrier. You kick it out of the way and nuzzle closer to the warmth next to you. The sound of slow rustling nudges at the edges of your consciousness before you’re being secured further against something solid. The small puffs of air atop your head never falter, never wake fully. Their steadiness lulls you deeper, tugging you further into sleep.
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              Your legs aren’t resting on the bed anymore. They’re entangled with something else. Somebody else.
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              There exists a realm between dreaming and waking, and you feel trapped in it. Something tickles your neck, but you ignore it. You’re too warm, too comfortable in your blanket cocoon.
              But blankets have never felt so solid before.
              In the few seconds it takes for you to snap to full wakefulness after realisation sets in, you’re already moving. Or trying to, anyway. This blanket, in addition to being solid, is also quite strong. You settle for opening your eyes and squinting against the light streaming in through the windows, as it callously ignores the thin curtains and pierces into the room with a vengeance. Everything seems excessively bright and loud, and you give yourself a few, still moments to calibrate and become fully aware of your position.
              You wish you hadn’t.
              Your head is tucked securely into the crook between Taehyung’s neck and shoulder, his jaw resting atop it. One of your arms lies curled up in between your bodies, and the fabric of his pullover looks crumpled near your hand, like it had been caught and released from a rat trap. Your other arm has found purchase around his frame, and your palm is set against the small of his back. And as the icing on the cake, you register one of your legs thrown over his. Your only saving grace seems to be the fact that he doesn’t seem to have woken up and realised what a mess you’re both in.
              You need to get out of here. Fast.
              But it’s so comfortable here, and so cold outside.
              Impatiently, you brush the thought away and focus on extracting yourself without waking him up. Gingerly, you begin to undo what damage you can, piece by piece. First comes the leg that you slowly lift up from atop his, kicking off the blanket from the bottom half of your body. Then, you retrieve your arm that’s curled around his frame and tuck your hand that had been so close to his chest into yourself, removing contact. The biggest problem seems to be his heavy hand on your waist, grip unyielding even in sleep. You hardly dare to breathe as you begin to slowly pull away from his comatose form, reaching behind yourself to tug at his hand as unhurriedly as you can. His breath hitches when you start to pry his fingers off and you immediately stop short. Your momentary panic ebbs as he resumes his slow inhales. You listen closely for another second before you attempt again.
              This time, you get as far as closing your fingers awkwardly around his wrist before he begins to shuffle again. You make no sound and remain still in your weirdly twisted position until he settles back down, but your heart sinks when he sleepily huffs and tightens his grip before slipping back under, undoing all your painstaking effort and leaving you worse off than you were before.
              You’re starting to get increasingly impatient with him and with how hard he’s making this. Already, your feet are getting cold and you half-heartedly regret starting this operation at all. Staying like this, cocooned in his arms under the warm blankets and away from the elements outside, is exasperatingly starting to seem like a good idea. It would be so easy to just resume your previous position and copy Sleeping Beauty who’s currently being a pain in the ass next to you, but logic and rationality persevere. It’s probably barely eight in the morning, and already you’re having this debate with yourself, having to actively summon reason. It must be some kind of record.
              You decide to approach the problem a different way the third time around. You slowly, haltingly turn from your side until you’re facing the ceiling. Your resolve is sorely tested again as you have to blink a couple of times when you’re confronted by the increased brightness of the room that this new position allows. From this angle, it’s easier to reach his hand on your side. Delicately, with an internal sigh of irritation and impatience, you begin again.
              You only manage to last a minute of slow-moving manoeuvring before your luck finally runs out for good, just as you’re precariously half-sitting with his heavy arm in your grip suspended in the air as you prepare to set it down on the bed after sidling out from beneath it.
              His breath shallows and the offending fingers twitch as he begins to wake up and you begin to panic. It’s too late to pretend to be asleep. With your heart in your mouth and his wrist in your hand, you turn to the side as his eyelids flutter open, narrowing against the light.
              Sleepy mumbles. “Wazhappenin.”
              You’re so fucking endeared.
              Realisation dawns on him slowly, in bits and pieces, and you watch it all come together in his widening eyes that reflect your own. He sees your obviously escape-ready posture, your grip on his wrist that’s half-lifted. All you can do is wait in silence as he puts two and two together.
              He wrenches his limb back, tugging it out of your readily permitting hold as he immediately shuffles away from you, back to his side of the bed from the centre that you had both gravitated towards in the middle of the night. You take your first full breath of the morning once you’ve got more distance between your bodies. It feels stolen. You sit up fully.
              “I’m so sorry about that,” he says, voice gruff after just waking up and with the shock that he’s still processing. He looks equal parts guilty and confounded, and his messy hair combined with his wide-eyed, startled deer expression makes it too easy to regret moving at all.
              Should you tell him? Should you admit how you were just as wrapped around him, if not more, just a few minutes ago and that you wish that you could go back to sleep just like that? That it’s so poetically tragic, the way the beginning of your last day together is coloured in shades of longing and faceless embrace, and that it’s only in sleep that the walls crumble down?
              “Shit happens,” you shrug, turning to move off the bed like you’ve been trying to do for so long. You can feel him looking at you as you walk to the washroom to start your day. To escape from his terrified glance. You won’t look back at him. You won’t make it more difficult.
              Taehyung is still in bed when you get out, blankets ridden down to his chest and one arm thrown up to cover his eyes. You had tried to wash away the feeling of being so close to him, but the sight jolts your memory, making it near impossible to forget.
              The sounds of others waking up in different parts of the house trickle in, with doors creaking open and footsteps padding around the wooden floors. You’re going to join them, and you’re going to pretend everything is alright, leaving Taehyung behind in this room to work through whatever he needs to work through. You can’t be around him.
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               It had snowed last night. You didn’t notice. You had been sleeping too well.
              The morning has been fraught with tension. Each miniscule touch translates into an inferno under your skin, the goosebumps that erupt when he’s near have very little to do with the weather, and you have to actively work to mask your anxious frown with a smile.
              Whatever good fortune the universe had bestowed upon you the previous evening that allowed you to navigate all group activities with minimal contact with Taehyung has obviously evaporated into thin air. Or maybe your body has decided that one unconscious betrayal is not enough and is intent on making you gravitate towards each other.
              Breakfast had seen the two of you foisted next to one another, and the table seemed much smaller than you remembered it being. His elbows brushed against yours far more often than necessary and he visibly flinched away when your knee bumped into his. You had to force yourself to relax when Irene asked you if you were okay. Specifically, she asked you if you slept well, to which you politely replied that you had never slept better, causing Taehyung to seize up next to you for a second.
              You didn’t have clothes that were warm enough to go out in the snow, and you tried using that as an excuse to avoid it entirely, but miraculously, unfortunately, Taehyung had extra. It hadn’t been his idea for you to borrow his off-white cable knit sweater, but when you put it on and stepped out of the room, you can swear his gaze darted towards you too many times to be accidental or coincidental.
              The sweater smells like him. Like roses and regret.
              It’s that sweater that covers your frame now, at the top of the small, snow-covered hill that stands a few metres away from the back of the house. As if proving a point, the universe has decided that your suddenly-not-fake-enough boyfriend is to be your sledding partner after you told the others that this is your first time, despite your greatest attempts. And you had attempted, but everybody else already had their groups, and you didn’t want to push for fear of seeming suspicious. Nobody seems to have noticed, but you reckon that the flash of hurt in Taehyung’s eyes as you go around trying to be with anybody but him isn’t a figment of your imagination.
              Either way, all your efforts are in vain. You stand next to him at the crest, last in line, dubiously watching Jin drag the sled back up the hill after his turn. It looks awfully small.
              The others are occupied in a highly competitive snow fight a few paces away, so they miss the way the two of you shuffle on the board at first, trying not to touch each other. Wordlessly, you move, trying to find some method of staying on without being completely pressed up against each other. Again.
              You manage with some compromises; the heat of his body is ever-present behind you, but not stiflingly so – there are a few, blessed inches that grant you that much, his arms hover on your sides, holding the steering cord in front of you, but he doesn’t make contact with your waist, and his legs frame yours, feet positioned half on the board, half out in the snow.
              “Ready?” he asks, voice too close but still painfully far.
              Securing your feet on the board and with one, last, reassured glance at Taehyung’s fingers wrapped tight and secure around the cord in front of you, you nod shortly and reply, “Yes.”
              Two things become apparent to you in a very short time, within moments of him kicking off. The first is that Taehyung is not a very good sled driver. You weren’t expecting a whole lot, but fresh snow shouldn’t be so bumpy, and you definitely shouldn’t be pitching so much to the right. The next thing is that for all the punctilious effort you had put in to keep your bodies as detached as possible, the rush of the wind and the speed of the sled down the hill doesn’t allow for such precautions. Barely a few seconds of rough sliding, and Taehyung has skid so far down the board that he’s almost as close as he was in the morning.
              Both realisations contribute to the cause and consequence of what happens next. You’ve lost your firm seat on the wood beneath you, and your body follows the motion of the sled. You don’t know when you let out the tiny squeak that indicates that you’ve suddenly become uncomfortably aware of how precariously you’re positioned, and how likely it is that you’re going to be thrown off, but it gets stifled partway as Taehyung’s legs instinctively lift off the snow and lock around yours. He substitutes both his arms on the cord for just one, using the other to tug you into his body before you can tumble into the snow.
              He laughs.
              Your heart is wildly beating out of your chest, none of you have contact with the snow to control the sled properly, your hands are clutching his forearm that’s keeping you from being flung overboard and the fucker is laughing right in your ear, adding to all the tumult you already feel.
              You could thank him. You should thank him. You could thank him, or you could shout at him for acting like a reckless idiot. You want to turn around and kiss him. He’s so close that you’d just have to tilt your neck up a bit and there he’d be. But in the end, the adrenaline, his proximity and the sound of his rich chuckles reverberating through you, his chest rumbling against your back – they all get to you. The giggles slip out before you can stop them.
              There’s no client and job here, no worry about the future, no fear of possibility and muted hope and none of the tangled feelings that you’ve been weighed under for weeks. There’s just him, the comforting solidity of his frame so close, the chill wind roaring in your ears and hitting your face, and the sled that’s hurling down a hill uncontrolled. You’re fit to burst from everything you’re feeling, and peals of laughter erupt uninhibited, ringing out into the mostly silent hillside and mingling with the deep guffaws from behind you.
              You’re both still laughing as the sled decides that this is too much movement, finally reaching its limit three quarters down the slope. You’re still elated when you feel yourself being thrown to the side, Taehyung’s body doing the same as he entirely releases the steering cord in favour of tugging you out of the sled with him.
              The giggles continue, interspersed with yelps, as you finally make contact with the soft snow, arms and legs holding on to each other in a confused jumble as you both tumble around. You finally roll to a stop a few feet away from the forced ejection, panting a bit in exertion but with a wide, seemingly unbreakable smile on your face.
              And then the position you’re in hits you.
              Your giggles unconsciously taper off as you take in the closeness of his body over yours. One of his forearms is sunk in snow right next to your ear, to hold himself up, and the other cups the back of your head, protecting you from the impact. The euphoric grin on his face mirrors your own, his cheeks slightly flushed from the cold and excitement, and his usually neat hair is mussed.
              He seems to register the compromising nature of the position a few seconds after you do. He doesn’t pull away. You make no move to ask him to.
              The coldness of the snow under your back feels like a minor inconvenience. You can feel his fingers still on your hair, nearly digging into your scalp from the suddenness of the impact, and the brush of his chest against yours, matching every slowing breath you take. Your wide grin steadily diminishes, and so does his, until you’re both looking at each other straight-faced.
              But eyes can’t lie.
              You’re so close, your faces so near, that you can see the muted buzz in his gaze, reflecting the same pull that you’re sure is present in your own. You’ve hidden it half-successfully for so long; no longer apparently. You survey each other, unmoving, deathly quiet compared to the noise of joyous hysterics from mere moments ago. The sounds of happy laughter and chatter from the rest of the group as they continue throwing snowballs at one another are regaled to the background of your consciousness. All you see is Taehyung.
              His expression doesn’t change as he lowers his head. Haltingly, he waits for you to push him away, to push yourself away, to startle and shove him off and jump up and continue this little dance of avoidance and attraction that you’ve indulged in for so long.
              You don’t.
              Your body thrums as his elbow bends next to your head, getting closer. You can count his eyelashes now. You can make out the chicken pox scar from fifteen years ago near the corner of his eyebrow.
              You don’t dare to move, or to make a sound. The moment proceeds at a snail’s pace, and you’re terrified of doing something that will disturb it –
              The heavy snowball comes out of nowhere and shakes you to the very core. In an instant, your half-lidded eyes that were looking up at an equally unaware but strikingly alert Kim Taehyung are replaced by wide blown astonishment. It had struck him hard on the side, hitting true, and falling down cold and crumbling on your body.
              “Oi! Keep it in your pants till we get back inside. I’m not nursing any sore throats this time.”
              Jin’s more annoyed than playful order serves like a punch to the gut, and immediately, you and Taehyung are a mess of separating limbs, clambering up and dusting snow off from your clothes and hair, not meeting each other’s eyes. There’s a good two feet of distance between the two of you now, and you’re freezing more after standing than you had been while lying down. While you been willingly pinned down.
              Keep it together for just one more day.
              There’s nothing to be said, nothing that will change the situation, and the snowball fight in the distance is beginning to look incredibly inviting. Hopefully, somebody will accidentally pack a stone in one and knock you out.
              Not sparing the man next to you another glance, for both of your sakes, you begin to pick your way through the snow. Until a hand closes over your wrist. Instantly, you’re transported to two months ago, at the exhibition. It’s laughably different, but maybe, in some sense, it’s always been the same. You stop in your tracks, gathering your wits about you before turning around to face him.
              He makes to speak, expression intense. It’s the most open you’ve seen him, the most vulnerable he’s seemed in your acquaintance. His jaw works for a second, and you wait to hear what he could possibly have to say.
              You never get the chance.
              His face closes over and his grip slackens, fingers lingering for a bit, thumb tracing a whisper of a million almosts over your pounding pulse, before he pulls away for good.
              “Good acting, right up till the end,” he says, voice musing but rough. Unmindful of the shock on your face, he brushes past towards the others, chin up and back straight.
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              The news about the trust fund comes after dinner.
              It had been too cold to go outside, and nobody wanted to put in the work to light the bonfire, so the cards were brought out again, and the television plays episodes of a sitcom that nobody’s paying full attention to. Around the centre table, Namjoon, Jimin, Jennie and Lisa quietly play a very diluted game of blackjack with no bets. The rest of you absently watch, attentions splitting between them, the screen in front and whatever conversation happens to be going on at the time.            
              The lights are dim inside the house, and there’s the general calm that comes after a long, satisfying day. It’s tinged with a bit of gloom at the thought of having to return home tomorrow, but you can’t wait to get out of here. You had already found his pillows and blanket moved from the bed to the futon when you entered the room in the evening to do the same.
              You’ve got Lisa’s head on your shoulder, and you’re warm indoors, in your own clothes, as you take a look around the room, letting the conversation ebb and flow around you. You hate how you know about Yoongi’s appreciation for a good tangerine, and Jin’s favourite whiskey. You’ve come to develop a strong respect for Irene’s quiet watchfulness, and Namjoon’s cleverness. Lisa and Jimin have done so much to make you feel comfortable and welcome, that you feel a physical pang of guilt when you think about what you’re soon to do. You regret ever feeling anything negative towards Jennie, as she’s become one of the people who’ve made you laugh the most in the last two days.
              It’s a soft but insistent call of your name that tugs you out of your thoughts. You blink a few times and turn to your left, where Taehyung is facing you. He looks just as tired as you feel. When you lift an eyebrow up at him in question, he ducks his head towards the kitchen in a silent request for you to get up.
              Hesitant as you are to leave the comfort of your curled up position on the couch, Lisa gives you no choice but to do so as she lifts her head from your shoulder with a smile. With a grin that’s becoming more forced with every passing second, you rise and follow Taehyung out of the room. You feel eyes follow the two of you, but nobody passes any comments. This is normal. People in relationships spend time together in private sometimes.
              He stops only after you’re both fully inside the kitchen, and at his wordless gesture, you close the door behind you. Outside, Jin’s shout comes through muffled as he complains, “You have a perfectly good bed, must you deface every other surface in the house?”
              Both of you ignore him.
              Taehyung is leaning with his back against the counter, and you stop a few paces away from him. A good, respectable distance.
              “They gave me access to the trust fund.”
              It’s so sudden that you have to do a double take at his face to ensure that he isn’t joking. Even the precautionary, adamant stalemate that you’ve both intrinsically agreed upon isn’t enough to detract from the excitement shining in his eyes. His shoulders are drooped a bit in relief, and there’s a hint of a smile that’s threatening to widen.
              You take the initiative and break into a pleased grin – fond, glad, and genuine. He can start that business now, do what he’s always wanted to. You don’t bother to hide the softness you feel at the thought; it’s far too late for that. You can leave knowing that you haven’t left anything unfinished. In a professional capacity.
              “Guess they came around after all, huh?” you reply, your smile smoothening into a something kinder as you take in the steady grin on his face.
              “Apparently so,” he shrugs, trying to act nonchalant and failing miserably. He switches to a more earnest tone as he continues, “I owe most of it to you. Truly, despite…everything, thank you.” He doesn’t have to explain what he means by ‘everything’. His vague, dismissive hand gesture does enough, and both of you can feel it hanging over your heads.
              “What can I say, I’m good at my job.” Your smile now mirrors his – a little sad, a little resigned, but grateful nonetheless as you repeat one of your oft quoted dialogues at him, revelling in the spark of recognition in his eyes.
              “There’s no reason to extend the job now,” he says. “My parents will be heartbroken at your absence from the brunch table.”
              Your eyebrow raises. “Did you think I’d stay if this news hadn’t arrived?”
              He shrugs. A mirthless, rueful tilt on the corner of his lips and clear honesty in his eyes. “I had hoped.”
              You say nothing.
              A beat passes. Then another.
              He’s laid his cards open in front of you, giving you the choice to do with them what you will.
              Your fingers itch on your sides. He continues to watch you, unwavering. You aren’t wearing his sweater anymore, but the scent lingers around you.
              “You smell like roses.” You don’t bother to hide the tremor in your voice.
              “Part of my charm.”
              You don’t know who moves first. Just that one second, you’ve got a good seven feet of distance separating your bodies, and that the next, there’s barely enough space for a pencil to be placed in between them. You both have too much practice in being too close and pulling away too soon, and this is nothing excessive considering this morning and last night, but the skin of his neck feels smooth against your palm and the warmth of his hand on your back has never felt more real.
              All the contact from the gala, the exhibition, the brunches and the game nights pale in comparison. Flashes of the closeness of his body in the wine cellar, the hidden looks over brunch, a leg trapped under covers and messy hair framing a gleeful face with the back drop of a clear sky run through your mind as you kiss him like how you’ve wanted to for a month now. Two months? Maybe more. The lines blur somewhere.
              You shouldn’t be surprised at how quickly it gets heated, considering all the moments that have happened and how much pent-up emotion you both have, but still, you can’t stop the surprised ‘Oh’ as you’re spun and leaning against the counter, easily clambering up as he chuckles softly, breathily, before your lips meet again.
              You’ve just managed to wrap your legs around his frame, and his fingers are secure in your hair. All you can feel is him and all you can hear are the sounds of kissing and tiny gasps, until the door is thrown open with a sudden, almighty bang.
              For the second time in less than twelve hours, Jin is responsible for the hurried detangling of your limbs from Kim Taehyung. He furiously watches, waiting until you’re both standing, righting hair and smoothing down clothes, facing him. You want to be embarrassed, you really do, but all you feel is light.
              Taehyung at least has the good grace to seem a little sheepish as Jin begins to scold the two of you. “What did I specifically tell you about making out in common areas? This is where we make our food. Y/N, we love having you here, and we were delighted to push this trip by a week so you could join us, but if I catch the two of you going at it like rabbits near the gas again, I – “
              “Wait, what did you just say?”
              Your expression is one of confusion, as you pose the question to Jin, who’s impatiently stopped in his tracks. You catch Taehyung subtly shaking his head at the annoyed man out of the corner of your eye.
              “Stop making out in public,” Jin promptly replies.
              “No, before that.”
              “We cook our food in this room.”
              Exasperated now, you prod again. “No, after that.”
              Doubtfully, Jin answers, “That we didn’t mind pushing the trip to this weekend so you could join us because Tae asked?”
              A beat passes. Your definitely-no-longer-fake boyfriend lets out a defeated sigh as you slowly reply, “Yeah.” Your confusion gives way to a grin of realisation. “Yeah, that.”
              Blessedly unaware of what’s happening, Jin dubiously frowns. The interruption had obviously thrown him off his righteously indignant rhythm. “That’s hardly the point. As I was saying, you have a whole room for yourselves that you could have used, and the fact that your first instinct was to come to the kitchen instead is honestly concerning – “
              “You know what, Jin?” This time, the interruption comes from Taehyung. “That’s a splendid idea. We do have a room to ourselves.”
              Jin throws his arms up in vexation. “Finally, now you understand. Wait, where are you going?”
              Taehyung’s hand in yours is solid, real, genuine, and everything it wasn’t as he tugs gently and pulls you along, both of you skirting the wall of Jin’s precious kitchen towards the door. He replies, as you try to hold in your laughter under the doctor’s disapproving look, “To that room you speak so highly of. Bye.”
              Leaving behind a baffled man in the kitchen, the two of you round the corner and quickly walk to the bedroom. On the way, you can’t stop yourself from teasingly asking, “You asked them to push this a week up so I could join? All for little ol’ me?”
              “Shut up,” he groans, making you laugh as you catch sight of the blush on his face and his embarrassed smile as you reach the door to your destination. His hand gives yours a playfully scolding squeeze, and it makes a trill run down your spine at the ease of the motion. It’s so lovely to not have to pretend anymore.
              Unable to resist the temptation, slightly giddy at the revelation, you continue, “Did you just want to spend more time with me? Did you have a crush?”
              Further goading stops in its tracks as the door is pushed shut behind you, and you’re swiftly pressed right up against it by a suddenly very confident Taehyung. The words dissolve on the tip of your tongue as he keeps you pinned with his hands and his eyes against the wood.
              “I still do,” he mutters, voice low, fire blazing in his eyes.
              You clear your throat, trying to remember how to speak in the intensity of his gaze, unable to recollect your question at the moment at the lightning quick change in his demeanour. “Huh?” you manage.
              “I still have a crush on you.”
              Those are the last intelligible words that are spoken for the rest of the night. It appears the two of you are back to challenges, but you can’t quite bring yourself to be annoyed by their new flavour.
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              The librarian still hasn’t realised that her favourite students are back yet, but it shouldn’t take long to change that.
              “Where do I start?” you patiently ask, amused by your friends’ incredulity.
              Jungkook sputters, “What – How? Wait. What do you mean it isn’t fake anymore?”
              “How about the beginning of the weekend? Tell us everything you couldn’t over text.” Hyejin replies, placatingly patting Jungkook’s hand. “And make it good.”
              “Oh, it’s good,” you grin, unable to stop yourself. You have an hour left before you need to leave for brunch with the Kims, and maybe forty-five minutes before you all get kicked out of the library, so you promptly begin.
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chimknj · a month ago
Birthmark: Pt. 1
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Pairing: Namjoon x Jimin 
Genre: Soulmate!au, Sci-fi, Angst, Smut
Word Count: 6k
Summary: Namjoon, Hoseok and Yoongi were street punks pulling heists before they pulled the wrong one. Now, they have to drag a weird alien and his caretaker to another planet because otherwise the galaxy will fall into chaos. Oh, and the alien’s got the same birthmark as Namjoon. Weird, amiright? 
Disclaimer: These works are completely fictitious and for entertainment purposes only. They are not meant to reflect or label the members of BTS in any way. The events within never took place. Thank you
Tags: Soulmates, smut, angst, Graphic Depictions of Violence (fight scenes), gun violence, alien!Jimin, alien!Jin, criminal activity, hacking, sci-fi, futuristic dystopia, repressed memories, mentions of war, mentions of traumatic pasts, mentions of mental illness, mental breakdowns, panic attacks, swearing/cursing, 
AO3 < Masterlist > Next Chapter 
So many things could go wrong. Rackham could have changed their passcodes; they could have issued new security cards. They could have doubled their security cameras or they could have simply shut down the building for the day. It’s why Namjoon needed to be on his toes the entire time. On his motorcycle, he kept himself a few cars away from the caravan by the light. Large, black, with the signature triangular symbol of Rackham Enterprises, it stood out in the sea of cars around them. The driver could catch him in the side view mirror and decide to give him a run-around. He’d have to adapt the plan should that happen. 
“Yoongs,” Namjoon said, his bluetooth earbud picking up his voice, “You seeing them?”
“Crystal clear,” said a voice on the other end. 
“What are you picking up?”
“A bunch of bullshit,” said the technician. “Apparently, one of their girlfriends is mad because he ditched her to transport this energy thing. Must be pretty important, huh? Sounds like he was gonna get lucky too.”
“If Hutch wants it, then yeah, it must be.”
Hutch Robinson was another southside kingpin who ruled the streets with money and blood. Namjoon thought about the massive man as he followed the caravan down the street. They wouldn’t be doing this job were it not partially for Hutch. He told them the best way to repay their debt is by doing a job for him. The other half of this scheme goes to Hoseok, whose pride and stupidity earned him a gambling debt he could not payback. Namjoon told him a million times that you don’t play against a card shark like Hutch and expect to win. He almost wrung the scrawny man’s neck when he came home and dropped the number on him. Sixty-thousand CM chips. Sixty. Thousand. Credit. Money. Chips. It was money the little street boys did not have. It was money he knew they could not payback. If Namjoon had not offered their services in exchange, Hoseok would be dead in a dumpster somewhere. 
The communicator on his watch suddenly lit up. He recognized the name across the small screen: ‘Dee’ with a heart emoji beside it. He knew what the woman would say if he did not answer her. 
“Hey Dee,” he said, making sure Yoongi and Hoseok heard her and stayed silent. 
“Hey baby,” her soothing voice came into his ear. Something about the older woman set his nerves at ease, much like when he was a child. “Whatcha up to?”
“Not much, chillin’,” he answered. “You doing good, Dee? How’s work?”
“I’m alright. I just finished a consultation with someone from the department. Listen, baby, I’m calling to see if you and the boys wanted to come by for dinner. I’m cooking your favorite and I know you boys don’t eat much.”
“Sure,” he said. “You know we never say no to your cooking. Is six good for you?”
“Sounds fine.” She paused, “Namjoon-” that isn’t a good sign, “What are you really up to?”
“Nothing, just chilling with Hobi. We just, um, finished some errands. You know, little stuff: getting some food packs, Yoongi’s meds, and all that.”
“Kim Namjoon... if you’re doing what I think you’re doing, I’m gonna whoop your skinny as-”
“-Dee, we’re not doing anything bad. We’re being law-abiding citizens, I swear.”
“Mh-hm,” he pictured her crossing her arms, disbelief in her eyes, “You, Hoseok, and Yoongi couldn’t stay outta cuffs if your lives depended on it.” She sighed, “Well, alright, I gotta go, Joonie. See you tonight.”
“Alright, love you.”
“Love you too.” He waited for the call to drop before he said, “Hoseok, if we get cuffed for this I’m gonna make you wish that Hutch had stuck you in a meat processor instead, got it?”
“I get it, I get it,” said another voice in his earpiece. “Haven’t you threatened me enough today?”
“Not nearly enough.” 
He shot a glance upwards. Above him, the city skyscrapers went so far up he couldn’t even see the tops anymore. Daylight barely broke through the faint smog coming from the factories of the nearby Industrial District. Hundreds of cars flew between the tall buildings, their pattern parallel to the streets below. Up there, Namjoon spotted a red car hanging right over him. He imagined Hoseok in the driver’s seat, tattooed hands on the wheel as he followed the caravan from above. He’d expected Hoseok to choose something a bit more flashy, but he kept it subdued this time. A good choice for a stolen car. Once Namjoon planted a tracker on the caravan, Hoseok would pick him up and they’d follow it through Yoongi’s radar. Then it’s off to the smoke and steel of the industrial district. 
He and the caravan made it to another intersection. Namjoon pulled out a disk smaller than a button from his pocket as he rode closer to the truck’s side. He needed to slip it under without the back cameras catching him. He moved at an angle, bypassing a few cars in the lane, and sat right beside it. 
“Setting the tracker now,” he told Yoongi. Quickly, he bent down and stuck the tiny tracker underneath the bumper. “Yoongi?”
“One sec,” he said. He can almost hear the faint typing of Yoongi’s keyboard. When the light turned green, Namjoon sped ahead of the caravan. “Intersection of 15th and Vine?”
“Then we’re online, gentlemen.”
“Hoseok, pick me up between the antique shop and the Korean place.”
“On it.” 
Namjoon circled back to the same intersection but drove into an alleyway between two shops. He parked it at the backdoor of the Korean restaurant and waited a few seconds before Hoseok’s car lowered into the narrow alleyway. The people standing around moved out of the way, some of them shouting about it being a no-parking zone, to which Hoseok responded:
“Park this, fucker,” he said, shooting up a middle finger as Namjoon slid into the passenger seat. “Fucking tramps,” the red-haired man muttered, pushing the thrusters back into gear. “Did they spot you?”
“Nope,” he replied. Namjoon pulled out a tablet from Hoseok’s glove compartment. “Yoongi, talk to me.”
“They made a left on the next block,” Yoongi answered. “They’re only three minutes from you. You can still catch them.”
“16th and Vine, it is,” said Hoseok, turning out of the alley into the designated street. Pulling the steering wheel towards him, the car pulled upwards into the sky streets instead of the ground. Namjoon kept his eyes on the red dot on his street map as Hoseok spoke, “Why is Rackham even using street vans for this? They usually stick to air trucks.”
“I guess whatever this power source is can’t be up in the air,” he answered. 
“It’s a delicate piece of machinery,” Yoongi told them. “Its exterior might be damn near indestructible, but its inner parts are fragile. Flyers have a lot of steer sensitivity, so there’s the possibility that a sharp turn or short stop might set it off. Considering what I’ve read about it, you don’t want that going off when you’re next to it.” 
“Damn,” muttered Hoseok. “You two sure you want to steal this thing?”
“Oh, did you happen to come across sixty-thousand credits while you were flying around?” Namjoon snapped, “Because last time I checked, we had forty credits left in our account.”
“Crazy how money disappears when you’re not paying attention, huh?”
“Or when you’re not watching the one holding the card.”
“It’s not like we wouldn’t have taken the job, exchange or not,” he said. “The account was drying out.”
“But we’re not getting paid for this job,” Namjoon replied. “We’re getting your debt erased instead. Take a left here; we can catch up with them on Chrome.” 
“Got it.” Hoseok took the turn, then said, “But Hutch will see our expertise and might consider hiring us for other jobs.”
“He’s got his own boys for that, and I ain’t joining his crew. I know the shit those guys get up to... pushing those poor girls onto the streets. I’m not down for that.”
“I don’t know,” Yoongi said, “A lot of his boys aren’t too bright or good with tech-”
“-not as good as you, Yoongs-”
“-and I bet there’s things he can’t be seen doing,” he continued, “Such as this job. Rackham can’t know he was involved or otherwise they’ll come after him.” He hesitated, “We’re his fall back guys.”
“So, let’s make sure we don’t fall, boys,” said Namjoon. “Hobi, get us higher. We’re almost there.” He held on as Hoseok raised them further into the air. “Yoongi, you got our location still?”
“Had it the whole time. Hoseok, you have the employee sticker up front?”
“Of course,” he said. He nodded to the sticker plastered on the windshield of his car. The name ‘Eric Do’ with an employee ID number stuck out in the tinted windows. A barcode on the side will be scanned by an android, who then let them pass into the employee parking lot. “Once we get into the parking lot, we put the scrambler into the passcard swipe and you lead us to the R&D department of Rackham Enterprises.” 
Namjoon knew the plan backwards and forwards. According to inside people, this power source was a Rackham project. Recently arrived from Tokyo, it was being transported to their Research and Development Department for more experimentation. Hutch did not explain what it did or why he wanted it, but Namjoon guessed he had a buyer for it already. Especially since he only gave them a week-long window to get everything together. Namjoon personally did not care. He only wanted it to pay off the debt, that’s all. With the debt paid, they can work on their next job. Hoseok was right. Their bank accounts were running closer to the negatives. He already started asking local fixers if there are any jobs around.
“We’re coming up on them,” he felt Hoseok slow the car down. “Facial concealment on.” He switched a toggle on the dashboard and the windshield in front of them rippled. “Now, they’ll see the forgettable face of Mr. Eric Do, another corporate slave.” 
Slowly, Hoseok joined the line of cars heading in through the parking lot port. The pair sat in the car, nerves startling to rattle them, as they moved up to the entrance station. A steel android with a large triangular shape on its chest, turned its head to their windshield. If it spots a fake, it'll lock down the port and sound an alarm. But, thanks to Yoongi's technological magic, the android suspected nothing.
"Eric Do, Sanitation Department," it said in a robotic voice, "Clock-in time: 5:32:01 pm. You are two minutes and one second late to your shift. Your pay has been docked by two credit chips. A strike has been added to your warning sheet. You have two more strikes left on your warning sheet. Thank you and have a pleasant day.”
“Damn, these megacorps don’t play around,” huffed Hoseok, who smoothly drove through. 
“Time is money, Hoseok,” said Namjoon. “If you’re late, you’re not working. If you’re sitting around, you’re not working. If you take a shit, then you’re not working. To them, no work equals no pay." 
“You’ll never catch me in a suit, bro,” said Hoseok, pulling into a parking spot down the row. “Not in a million years.”
“Me neither. I have trouble trusting people in fancy suits.” 
They finally parked and Hoseok turned off the engine. Namjoon looked at the tablet to see the caravan parked in the loading bay of the building. The loading bay is closer to the laboratory than the parking lot, so they’d need to act quickly. “Got the stuff?”
“Lab coats and masks,” he reached behind them in the backseat for the duffle bags. He handed a set to Namjoon, who began removing his denim jacket. “Name tags,” he gave Namjoon a lanyard with a laminated card, “Gloves and most importantly.” He withdrew two handguns and magazines from the bag. “In case we run into trouble.”
“Fair enough.” 
Namjoon loaded the magazine in the gun, then tucked it into the back of his pants. Pulling on the face mask over his mouth and nose, he took another breath before stepping out of the car. Once inside the parking lot, his nervousness returned. They stood by the elevators with other factory workers, who stayed absorbed in their own business to notice them. Nobody should be able to recognize them since they’re not wanted men...yet. Namjoon watched them all file into elevators and managed to get into an elevator alone together. 
“Got your location,” he answered, his voice is in his ear. Namjoon looked to Hoseok, who’d fixed his own earpiece on. “There’s only droids up ahead by the door. They’re gonna scan your cards, then you take a left at the end of the hall.”
“Got it.” 
“Are you ready for this?” Hoseok asked Namjoon. 
“As ready as I’ll ever be, bro,” he said. “Remember, it’s a grab-and-go. Avoid conflict or making conversation if you can.” 
“Do we even know what the fucking thing looks like? How will we know what it is?”
“Check your watch,” said Yoongi. 
Namjoon tapped his watch, seeing a small photo come up on the screen. He saw a silver cube with the edges surrounding a blue sphere. It looked complicated and intricate. “It’s supposed to be small,” Yoongi explained, “And made of metal. Like I said, you gotta be super careful when handling it otherwise the shit might blow up.” 
“Great,” Hoseok rolled his eyes, “Good to know I might lose my hands holding that thing.”
“What’s that writing on its sides?” asked Namjoon. “I don’t know what it is. Is it alien?”
“Yeah, it is. From Rackham’s records, it’s Rituian, an old alien language.”
“Rituian? Never heard of them.”
“That’s because they died out thousands of years ago,” he said. “They supposedly made this device but nobody knows exactly why or what it’s for. Rackham must’ve gotten their hands on it somehow, and probably want to experiment.”
“And Hutch wants to sell it.” 
The elevator stopped and Namjoon and Hoseok meshed themselves into the crowd. They went down the hall as Yoongi instructed, swiping their cards through the androids at the entrance. According to them, his name was David Kim, a lab technician. Yoongi instructed them to take the left at the end of the hall, pass a few rooms, then make a right. Namjoon walked with purpose and intent, keeping his head straight. He knew if he looked too suspicious, they might attract attention. They walked to a pair of steel doors being guarded by two men. 
“Just hand them your cards,” Yoongi said, “And walk on through.”
They did. Namjoon met the eyes of the large man who took his employee card. Wearing bulletproof gear and a helmet, he’d be prepared for a fight. Namjoon knew his little pistol would be nothing against the automatics the Rackham guards carry. They needed to be collected as if it was an everyday exchange. The guard, however, withheld his card for a moment. 
“Hey,” he said, “I haven’t seen you before.”
“I’m new,” he replied. “First day on the job. My supervisor said you guys would be cool with it.”
“Nobody informed us that there’d be a new hire on the floor today.”
“Are you sure? Maybe you should check your employee records again.” In his earpiece, he heard Yoongi rapidly typing away. 
The guard turned to a computer station near the door. He typed in the employee number on the card, waited a few seconds before they heard an automated voice: “New hire found.” Namjoon internally exhaled in relief. The guard turned around, handing the card to him, “Sorry about that, bud. They usually send us notices, but I guess you slipped through.”
“Nah, no worries, man,” he reassured him, taking the card. “You’re just doing your job. Have a good one.”
“You too.”
They let him through the doors. Hoseok stood right outside and exhaled deeply, “Man, there you are. I thought you’d been cuffed.”
“Me too. Let’s keep going. Yoongi, where next?”
“They’ve taken the device to a lab two doors down from you. It’s Lab A57.” 
“Lab A57.”
He and Hoseok walked towards the room before the doors opened suddenly. They slipped into a hidden space behind a wall and looked around the corner. Four guards came out of the laboratory with two scientists in lab coats. One scientist held a clipboard and jotted down notes as his partner started speaking. 
“...Subject is in perfect condition,” they heard him say as they came towards Hoseok and Namjoon’s hiding spot. “Vitals are stable. Healthy auditory and respiratory abilities. We’ll start with some DNA experiments before moving on to anything physical.” 
That did not sound right to Namjoon. The device is a little box. How could it have DNA or any sort of hearing and breathing capabilities? He looked to Hoseok, who shrugged. They waited until the group was down the hall before going up to the laboratory doors. Hoseok grunted when they reached it. 
“Damn, it’s got a triple lock. Passcode, biometric, and key,” he looked over to Namjoon. “How’re we gonna get in now?”
“Think you can break bio, Yoongi?” he asked. 
“Can a snapping turtle chomp your hand off?”
“Um...I guess?”
“Put your watch to the biometric part of the lock.”
Namjoon did as asked. He could hear Yoongi muttering and typing while he stood like an idiot with his watch to the small thumbprint scanner. Hoseok kept his eyes on either side of the hallway while Namjoon tapped his foot. “Yoongi…” he said in a low voice, “Yoongi, hurry up. Someone can come any second.”
“They already are,” he said, “Just give me one...ah-ha! Got it.” The scanner beeped and Namjoon quickly withdrew. “Passcode is 4431,” a code that Namjoon punched in, and then slid his card. 
“Go, go, go!”
He and Hoseok rushed into the room and quickly shut the door behind them. “Remember, you guys got five minutes before surveillance picks up that someone entered the lab,” said Yoongi. “Get the thing and get out of there.”
In a large room of different monitors, computers and power stations, Namjoon expected to find the small device locked in a box or stuck to a machine they’d have unhooked somehow. However, his eyes widened when he saw what the guards wheeled into the room. Inside a tall cage sat a man with his head between his knees. Namjoon could hear his cries from the other side of the room; he muttered something in a language Namjoon did not understand. They’d stuck pads and wires underneath his white shirt, so nearby monitors displayed his vitals. 
“That’s not a cube,” Hoseok whispered to him. 
“No, it’s not. Yoongi, what the fuck?”
“The device’s tracker goes right there. It’s in there with you.” 
Namjoon found out why that was when he slowly approached the cage. Around the corner of the cage, he saw a tracker blinking at him. “Because we weren’t tracking the device,” he said. “We were tracking this guy.”
The man perked his head up when he heard Namjoon speak. Black hair hung lank around his face, soft features warped in a frightened expression, and straight and narrow eyes looked at him fearfully. Namjoon carefully walked to him, which caused the man to scurry into a corner. He was shaking. He trembled from head to toe and would not meet Namjoon’s eyes. 
“Hey, hey, hey,” Namjoon said, a foot from the cage, “It’s okay. We’re not scientists. We’re not here to hurt you.” He took off his mask to show his face, “We’re not gonna hurt you.” 
“We just wanna know where the power thingy is,” Hoseok looked around the room as if the device would pop into existence. “If you know, just tell us and we’ll leave you here.”
Namjoon took a good look at the man’s face. He saw the split on his full bottom lip and the bruise on his jaw. Another cut went through his eyebrow; an angry red mark circled around his left eye where he must’ve been struck. They’d beat him into submission. Namjoon knew what it felt like to be beaten this way. The captive still shook and kept his eyes shut, muttering and whimpering in a language Namjoon couldn’t make out. He crouched to the space in front of the cage to try meeting his eyes. 
“Hey,” he tried calling him, “It’s cool. It’s ace.” When he did not get another response, he said, “I’m Namjoon.”
“Joon, we’re not here to make friends-”
“-What’s your name?”
The man stayed silent, but he lifted his face slowly to Namjoon. Their eyes remained locked for a moment. He was young, perhaps younger than him. Namjoon thought time stopped. He felt something warm blossom inside his chest; it filled him with a comfort he hadn’t felt in a long time. He saw his eyes look at Namjoon's hand on the bar. His sleeve had slid down to show his wrist. On his wrist were two wavy dotted lines. Everyone told him it was an interesting birthmark; they'd never seen one so specific before. The man’s eyes then widened and he smiled at Namjoon. "Namjoon!” the man beamed, “Namjoon!”
“Have you two met before?" asked Hoseok.
Namjoon shook his head, "Nah. Never." He turned to the man in the cage, "Yeah, I'm Namjoon. What's your name?"
"Namjoon, Ratka. Ratka, help."
"Ratka? Is that your name?"
He shook his head, then began rambling again. Namjoon could not make heads or tails of it. “Yoongi,” he said, “You got a translator on this guy?”
“Gimme a sec.” He heard more typing, then Yoongi spoke, “He’s...He's speaking Rituian."
"That language on the cube thing?"
"Yeah. It's a dead language. Nobody speaks that anymore. I mean, I got a pretty rough translation going on here, but it's not precise.”
“Okay, what’s he saying?”
“His name’s Jimin. He’s saying that a bunch of humans took him away from the temple and that they stole the cube from him. You have to help him get it back so you can restore home. I...I don’t know what he means by that. I’m guessing that Rackham kidnapped him from somewhere and took the device to another location.”
“Fucking great,” cursed Hoseok. “So we did all this shit for nothing!”
Jimin talked so rapidly it made his head spin. He caught names mostly such as ‘Jungkook’ and ‘Ratka’. “Can you please explain to me what the hell ‘Ratka’ means? He keeps calling me that.”
Yoongi paused, then said, “Ratka means-Holy shit!”
“Holy shit?”
“You guys gotta move! Company’s coming your way fast!”
Namjoon’s body tensed once again and he looked to the cage’s lock. Standard passcode lock, he put his watch to it and began unlocking it himself. "What are you doing?” asked Hoseok, who edged over to him while aiming his gun to the door. “Let’s go!”
“We’re taking him with us!” 
“For what?”
“Attention please!” another voice said over a loudspeaker. “This is a Code Blue Warning! This building is now under lockdown! This is not a drill! We repeat: this is not a drill! Please remain calm and in your designated station until Code Blue is cleared.” 
“Aw fuck!” Hoseok quickly rushed to the laboratory doors, looking out the small window, “We gotta jam, dude!”
"I can fend them off," said Yoongi. "But you guys need to get out of there now!" 
Namjoon unlocked the cage and helped Jimin stand up. “Stay close to me, okay?” he told Jimin, who nodded at his words. "Do what I say and we'll get you out of here." 
He and Jimin met Hoseok at the door. He steadied his breath as he looked out the window with Hoseok. He spotted the geared up soldiers in the reflections of the windows. He studied them carefully. Rather than all black, these men wore snow white uniforms. He spotted some with black X’s on their shoulders or patches on their chest. Soldiers. Militants. They held automatics, wore helmets, and moved as one unit. Why are they here? 
“Those are militants,” Hoseok said, confusion on his face. “Why did they call Militants? Is he that big of a deal?” 
He did not answer right away. Namjoon saw two soldiers nestle into either side of the hallway pillars, while one set up a barricade for three of them to kneel behind. He recognized the bold writing on their shield: ‘Official Militant Force Property’. A thought hit him, but he did not dare say it out loud. He found it strange that they drove Jimin here. He found it odd when the guard at the door felt particularly interested in doing his job. What if they’re not here for them at all? Regardless, once they opened the door, they’d take the shot the second the trio left the room. He looked at the door, touching its steel walls and reinforced window. Outside, he saw the extinguishers in the upper corners of the hallway. He nodded. 
“We’re gonna use the door as a shield,” he told Hoseok, “Yoongi, there are-”
“-I gotchu.” 
Suddenly, two clicks went off and the extinguishers sprayed thick, white smoke right onto the soldiers. Shots fired, people coughed, and the hallway became consumed by the smoke. Namjoon readied himself, then pushed the door open. He, Hoseok and Jimin stayed behind it when a few bullets hit the outside, their shots making the door shake. Namjoon aimed his gun out the other side and fired back at the rain of bullets. He did not know if he hit anyone, but he heard a militant call ‘man-down’ from behind them. Then, they made a break for it. They kept their heads down and moved quickly away from the fog. Namjoon kept the collar of his shirt over his mouth and nose; a move Jimin copied right after, and ran after him. Hoseok kept cover over them, firing shots back at any Militants who came after them. Unfortunately, the smoke slowly began dissipating.
They'd made it halfway into the second hallway before more Militants blocked their way. Namjoon wanted as little trouble as possible, but it'd found him anyway. He pulled Jimin behind him as he lifted his weapon. A soldier came forward with an electro-stick extended, his pose meant to intimidate and scare. Namjoon fired off two shots which caught the militant off guard, and he took his chance. One clear hit into the solar plex made the man double over. The militant raised his stick to hit him, but Namjoon grabbed his wrist and squeezed. He headbutted and disarmed him, twirling the stick out of the man’s hand. Another militant charged forward, dodged a few swipes of Namjoon's electro-stick and punched him in the jaw. Namjoon felt the stun, but immediately countered by blocking the next hit with the stick. He raised the man's firing hand upwards, and then poked the vibrating stick into his eye. It was natural for him. Every motion he made, every hit he landed, felt natural. Something inherent inside him made fighting so much easier. The second militant went down quickly, but a third and fourth approached holding handguns.
Hoseok’s gun caught one of the militants in the chest. Namjoon grabbed the fourth man's weapon, pulled it from him and smashed the electro-stick into the side of his head. The stunning blow sent the man to the floor. He turned to see Hoseok nod at him, but Jimin smiled. He said something in Rituian that Namjoon guessed was praise. They had to keep going.
“Take a left into the storage closet,” Yoongi told them. “There’s a garbage chute you can jump into.”
Namjoon found the storage closet by the elevator, and broke the lock with the baton. All the adrenaline in his body sped through him, fueling the quickness in his hands. Confusion and questions flashed through his mind as he entered the small storage space. Why did they send government soldiers and not Rackham guards? Rackham is a business corporation; nothing military or federal. Once Hoseok closed the door, Namjoon spotted a trash chute door attached to the wall. He glanced over to Hoseok, who’d pulled out another magazine to reload. The chute had a locked handle; most likely only employees could open it. Any trespassers would be locked in here.
“Yoongs, it’s a dead end, bro,” he said. 
“Use your encrypter,” he replied. “That should open it.”
“Namjoon!” Jimin pleaded, shaking and frightened, looked between him and the door. 
He ignored him, and put his watch close to the number lock. Making sure both watch and lock turned on in sync, he watched dozens of number combinations scroll on his watch. A loud shot rang out that echoed around the room. 
“Attention!” a loud voice said, “This is Militant Force Control. We demand you come out with your hands in the air!”
“-I know, I know,” he said, his heart racing as the numbers continued spinning. “One sec.”
“Open the door!” the person said again. “Open the door and come out with your hands up or we will break it down! This is your final warning!"
‘Code Unlocked’ read in green letters before the chute opened. He ushered Jimin in first. When he began going off in his strange language, Namjoon hushed him. 
“It’s gonna be okay,” he reassured him. “Just slide down, okay?” he gestured to the chute, “Slide.” 
Jimin seemed to understand him. The puppy eyes looking up at him would’ve made him melt any other time. But right now, he heard it pounding in his ears. Jimin finally let go of the handle and his cry echoed the long way down. Namjoon then beckoned Hoseok forward, who climbed into the hatch hastily. They both looked to the door when someone began ramming the other side. They saw the metal door shake each time they hit it; it would not hold on much longer. 
“See you down below,” said Hoseok, who positioned himself properly, and then slid down after Jimin. 
Namjoon had just gotten himself into the hatch before the door burst open. A dozen rounds hit close to his head right as he locked the chute. The high winds coming upwards smelled faintly of rotting garbage, which made him cough and wrinkle his nose. His body fell straight down with the winds causing him to bump here and there along the way. The scent grew stronger the further down he went before he plopped into a truck load of garbage. He groaned at the aches in his body, and the thick rancid scent filling his nose. Namjoon coughed and stared around. He did not see Jimin or Hoseok with him. In the large waste room, he only saw more large dumpsters lined up ready to be taken to the dump. Had he lost them?
“Yo! Down here!”
He glimpsed over the side to see Hoseok and Jimin standing there. “Come on,” Hoseok continued, “They’ll be on us any second.”
He jumped down from the dumpster and looked to Jimin, who only nodded at him. There’d be more time for questioning later. The lockdown sirens echoed loudly in the wide space compared to the enclosed hallways above. Namjoon gazed around, seeing no maintenance workers in sight. He kept the stick in hand and led the other two down the row of large dumpsters. If they’re lucky, they could hide out in one closer to the doors and wait it out. Militants would eventually realize they’d escaped and leave. 
“You can go through the small side door,” Yoongi told them as if he’d read Namjoon’s mind. “There’s a control room in there. If you look on your right, you’ll find a ventilation shaft. That should take you outside the building.”
“On it.” 
They found the control room at the far corner by the loading dock doors. It was fairly easy to unlock with his watch encryptor. They’d be out of the building in no time; then they can take Jimin to Hutch. Looking over his shoulder, he saw the man in his plain shirt and sweatpants, barefoot and injured. He looked helpless. He looked lost and scared. Hutch was expecting the device he asked for, not Jimin. He worried for a brief second what the man might do with him. Jimin was pretty. Too pretty to ignore. 
‘It’s not your problem,’ he said to himself as the door opened. ‘You just need the money.’ 
But deep inside, he did find something wrong with it. The three of them went into the control room, full of consoles and monitors, and found the ventilation shaft. Hoseok kicked it a few times with his boot until the metal bent inward and came off the hinges. The lockdown siren eventually stopped blaring, which was a good sign to Namjoon. He urged Jimin and Hoseok through the shaft first, then followed like before. His long, wide body was not built for the crouched position he was bent into, but he managed. He kept his eyes ahead as best he could and saw light shining in the darkness of the vents. Through its blinds, he saw the opposite building’s brick walls. They can jump down, then head off into a maze of side streets to lose the militants. They’d need to lay low for a few hours, possibly a day, before giving Jimin over. 
They reached the end of the vent where the cool air hit their faces. Hoseok turned to Namjoon, “You ready?”
“Cover your ears, boys,” he said, cocking his gun once again. 
However, before Hoseok could fire the shot, something attached itself to the otherside of the vent entrance. They fell back as a hook ripped the covering off and exposed them to the street outside. Namjoon’s heart sank when he saw who’d opened the hatch: Militants. A large white truck sat outside, two Militants aimed their weapons at them while another pulled the grappling hook back into the car. 
“This is Militant Force Control!” an automated voice said from the car. “You are under arrest! Drop any weapons and raise your hands above your heads!”
“Fuck me…” Namjoon whispered, then put down his stick and raised his hands. 
They grabbed Hoseok first, who spewed dozens of insults at them as they pushed him into the van. Namjoon gently moved Jimin forward, but the other stayed in place. Namjoon saw the shaking fingers against the steel walls; he recognized the slight shake of his head seeing the white uniforms at the end. “Jimin, go,” he whispered, “They will drag you out if you don’t go with them.”
“No,” he mumbled. “Namjoon-”
“-Go with them,” he swallowed thickly, “It’ll be okay. Just do what they say and they won’t hurt you.” 
Jimin shook his head and edged back to Namjoon, but then a Militant reached forward and grabbed his ankle. Jimin’s pleading cry tore through his chest. Jimin grabbed onto the thin edge of the shaft, fingers digging into the cracks. In the half light, Namjoon saw the inner part of Jimin’s wrist. Two wavy dotted lines went from the start of his wrist and along the vein. He glanced at his own wrist, seeing the same lines in the same place. He looked back to Jimin, whom the Militants took into a separate van: beige with blacked out windows. The image of his birthmark on someone else’s wrist raised more questions. They grabbed Namjoon last, slapping metal cuffs onto his wrists. Namjoon expected them to take him into Jimin’s van, but instead, they forced him in beside Hoseok.
“Wait, hold up!” he called out, “Where’s he going? Where are you taking him?!”
“None of your business, Trash,” grunted a Militant, slamming the door in his face. “Asset has been acquired,” he said into a communicator on his wrist. “Bringing him in now. Have the doctor on standby; we think they hurt him.” 
“Fuck you, asshole! Where are you taking him?!” he slammed his hands on the dark window. 
“Joon,” Hoseok touched his shoulder gently, “Joon, chill.” 
A Militant in front of them ripped out their earpieces and handed it to someone sitting beside him. Yoongi. They were tracking Yoongi. He hoped the man would be able to conceal himself well enough. He turned his head to the back window where Jimin’s van sat still parked. He heard a pounding on the side of the truck and it began moving. He imagined how frightened Jimin must be. He'd been in Rackham’s hurtful hands; he worried what Militants might do to him next.
The birthmark stayed in his head all the way there.
28 notes · View notes
btsmakesmehappy · a month ago
MicroWave | 3
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Genre: Fluff, ANGST, Future Smut
Pairing: Agent!Yoongi x Reader (Agent au. Neighbor au)
Word Count:7,2k
Rating: 18+ (M)
Warning: Protective Yoongi, memories of died parents, lil tsundere Yoongi (because tsundere Yoongi is just hot and sweet af), mention of sex under influence, mentions of sextape, mentions of blackmailing and threat (all of those bad things are just mentioned for a bit), Yoongi being soft and loving (that’s the point of this story), please let me know if I missed any other warnings!
Chapter: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | ongoing
Summary: Yoongi can’t help to worry about his neighbor. Not only that she almost burned the apartment down, she also trusts people too much, and yet she doesn’t want people to help her. She is just trouble written in bold and capital and he shouldn’t be acquainted with her. But yet, he makes it his mission to help her with all costs.
Series Masterlist: The Company
A/N: Thanks to @arizonapoppy for betareading mine. Your comments are the ones that made my day! Also to everyone who read, reblog, like, and comment to this series. I love you so much and you are the reason why I continue writing despite how lacking I am.
Go check the other series because *sst... It’s all connected!
Also, please send me an ask if you wanted to be added in my taglist!
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“You know that I have a doorbell, right?” Yoongi grumbled as he opened his door. His hair was wet and you saw steam coming from his bathroom.
You smiled sheepishly as you entered his apartment. “I’m sorry.”
His eyes fell to a box that was in your hand and took it from you, afraid that you would drop it at his doorway. It’s not that you always fall, but you just looked unstable: taking your shoes off and holding a heavy box. “This is kinda heavy, what is this?”
“My granny sent it!” You walked ahead of him to his kitchen, grabbing a pair scissors from the counter. “Hurry, let’s open it!”
Yoongi put the box on the counter in front of you and he raised one of his eyebrows. “And tell me again, why do you need to open it here?”
You turned your head to him and pouted, “why? I want to share this with you.”
He sighed. “Fine, what is it?”
“It’s my granny’s special lasagna!” You smiled widely, eyes twinkled in excitement. It’s been a while since your grandmother sent you some food, and you just missed it so much. “Just look at that cheese layer, it looks so good!”
Yoongi hummed, “and you need my microwave, don’t you?”
“Well, you can eat it too!” you yelled out, eyes avoiding his gaze, “ and I don’t think my microwave can be used anymore.” You sighed as your hands took the lasagna from the box. The lasagna itself is pretty big. And with your usual eating portion sizes, you can save money for almost a month. But now your lasagna will be consumed by Yoongi and you, so maybe you can last with it for around one or two weeks. But still, free food, right?
He opened the microwave’s door and let you put the lasagna inside. “Aren’t you full? We just had dinner.” He looked at you in worry. Sure, both of you just had dinner around one hour ago, and you were not gonna lie that fried chicken was still residing in your stomach.
“A little, but I just want to take a bite. Besides, there’s always a room in my stomach for my granny’s special lasagna!” Your eyes were on the buttons on the microwave, pressing some of it and letting it run. You had gotten used to it by now, since you had been borrowing his microwave for almost a month. “This microwave is easier to use than mine.”
He scoffed, “yeah, because yours is like hundred years old.” He walked to the fridge and grabbed two cans of beer and handed one to you. “You should just throw it away. Why do you keep holding onto it?”
You sighed and opened the beer, sipping it a little to let the coldness and the bitterness hit you. “I know.”
Yoongi grabbed the oven mittens and opened the microwave just as the timer went off. “No good things will happen if you keep holding the past, and hey, it’s just a kitchen tool. You can just buy a new one when you get enough money.” He put the hot lasagna on the counter and grabbed a plate from underneath.
You saw Yoongi skillfully cut and serve the lasagna in front of you, “I wish… it’s just hard to give it away, let alone throw it out.” With the spoon, you scooped up a bite and blew on it to cool it down. After a moment, you ate it slowly, savoring your comfort food since childhood. “Damn, that’s good.”
“Well, just try harder. Or give it to me, I’d love to hit it with a bat. It’ll be a nice experience.” He took a bite and chewed it slowly. He looked at the slice of lasagna and bit his lips, thinking.
“What is it? Does it taste bad?” You frowned in concern, worrying that Yoongi didn’t like it.
“Damn.” He sighed and looked at the can of beer in his hand. “We should eat this with wine, not with this cheap beer.”
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After that incident on Friday, you come to realize Yoongi can be even more protective than he usually is. He knocked on your door the next morning, letting you know that he was planning to drop you off at your work. He called you fifteen minutes before your clock out time, letting you know that he was waiting in front of your workplace. And he checked in a couple of times a day, for a few days.
You rejected his offer at first, deciding you would bother his work, especially on weekdays, but he was persistent and you just couldn’t dare deny him. Besides, you do feel safer around him. You love how he always asks you about your day. You love how he tells you about his day. You love how he curses with you whenever you tell him about an annoying customer you had at the store. You love how he casually picks a blanket from the back seat (which he keeps in his car for you but he always denies it) and drapes it over your lap when you wear a skirt. You love how he strokes your head when you’re drowsy until you fall asleep. You love how his car smelled, a musky scent with a hint of tobacco, a smell that whispers Yoongi whenever you take a breath.
Yes, Yoongi does smoke an occasional cigarette. You never noticed it until you found a pack of cigarettes in the glovebox and you asked him about it. He never smokes in front of you, or even in front of his friends. He only smokes when he’s alone or when he’s stressed about work. He’s been trying to stop completely for a few months now, so one day, when you jokingly said to him that you want to try a cigarette just once, he glared at you and snatched the cigarettes away from your sight.
You’ve never been a fan of smokers, but when you imagine a cigarette tucked between his long fingers, you begin to sway. He’ll look good, hell, he’ll look hot as fuck.
Of course you’d love it more if his fingers tucked in your own, intertwined with your fingers, but that’s a different story.
It’s Wednesday and again you’re back inside his car. You watch the passing street scene as you listen to Yoongi ramble about his brother. The weather is nice; it’s cloudy but you still see sunshine seeping through the clouds, but it’s still too chilly for short sleeves. You snuggle into your black cardigan to stay warm. Well, technically once upon a time, it belonged to him. He loaned it to you one day and you refuse to return it.
“Are you okay?” he asks as he looks at you worriedly.
You turn to him and give him a smile. “I’m fine, I just feel cold.”
He turns the temperature up and looks at the rearview mirror. “I don’t know if you do it just so you mess with me, I told you to bring a thicker jacket, didn’t I?” he sighs. “Just take my jacket then-”
“I’m fine, geez.” You giggle as you hit his shoulder lightly. “You should worry about yourself, Yoon.”
“Fine.” He pulls to the curb in front of the campus main quad and sets the car’s parking brake. “I’ll pick you up at four?”
You nod as you unbuckle your seatbelt. “I can go home by myself you know.”
“No can do, my lady,” he grins and ruffles your hair.
You get out from the car before he can even see your reddening face. “I’m going. Thank you for the ride.”
And he drives away, leaving you with a heavy heart. Truthfully, you don’t have class today and you feel bad for lying to him. Today you’re going to do the job Rosé got for you last week, but you don’t want Yoongi to know about it. You’re sure he will give you an earful or maybe try to give you his money to stop you from working. And you don’t want that.
After you wait for a few minutes, making sure that Yoongi is long gone, you walk to the nearest bus stop, heading to an antique shop uptown. Last night, someone sent you a message by the name Jiho and told you everything you should know about the job. Basically, the task is simply to pick up a package of antique jewelry from the shop and deliver it to him on time. That’s it.
Of course you’re suspicious about it, but again, you check the shop and it does seem to be a genuine shop. So for now, you decided that it’s safe.
It doesn’t take too long for the bus to arrive at your destination stop, and the shop is just around the corner. The shop is small. The front door is just some old wood painted brown and the windows are full of antique stickers and pictures. Through some clear spots in the windows, you see some furniture lining the walls and decorations arranged nicely on tables. You push the door open, causing the bell to ring. The air inside the shop is dusty; the owner hasn’t turned the lights on, so you can clearly see the dust flying on the sunbeams.
A grayed-hair man pops out from a door in the back. He studies you from head to toe skeptically. “May I help you?” His tone is cold and you can’t help but feel a little intimidated.
You clear your throat, then manage, “yes, I’m Y/N, I’m here to pick a package for Jiho.”
His expression relaxes as he smiles. “Oh, you’re here for Jiho. Wait a minute.” The man returns to the back room, and comes back again with a velvet box that would fit in the palm of your hand. He opens the box and turns it to show you. “So this is the locket. Pretty, right?”
You look carefully at the green locket in front of you. It’s pretty big for a usual locket, more like the size of a pocket-watch. The locket is shaped like an egg, with  a tosca green paint on the base, and gold patterns encircling the locket above. The pattern is indeed beautiful and intricate, it’s like you usually see in a Chinese museum. You want to touch it but it looks so fragile that you’re afraid to break it. Maybe it’s better for you to just leave it in the box. “Right. So I’ll just be on my way then.” You close the box carefully and put it inside your backpack.
“Wait, did you say your name is Y/N?” the man calls out to you, stopping you just before you exit the door.
You tilt your head in confusion, “yes, I’m Y/N. Is there something wrong?”
He walks closer to you, eyes scanning you closely, thinking. “Are-are you Hyun’s daughter?”
With the mention of your father’s name, you freeze. “Do you know my father?”
The man smiles. “Of course! He was my friend. That’s why you look so familiar, you look just like your mother! Your mother’s name is Yeri, right?” The smile fades as he sighs. “I just can’t believe what happened with them. It’s just so unfortunate.”
You bite your lips nervously, the accident that took your parents isn’t something you’d want to remember. It was just tragic and unpredictable, and you were too young to accept the fact that you’d never see your parents ever again. “Yes. It was so sudden.”
“You know, your father’s stuff is still here, I’ll get it for you if you want.”
You tilt your head in confusion, what stuff? “I’d love to. But I need to deliver this first. Maybe next time I’ll visit you again?”
“Oh right, of course. You should go. It’ll take me awhile for me to find it anyway. I’ll make sure to find it before you come back again.” He waves you away and smiles.
Why is my father’s stuff in that antique store?
You walk to the bus station, arriving just at the right moment when the bus pulls up. Luckily the bus is almost empty, so you take an empty seat near the window and your mind begins to wander. It’s been a long time since you talked about your parents, not that you ever want to talk about them. And to be honest, you’d rather forget about them, if possible.
They were too busy for you when you were a kid. You spent almost all of your time alone, eating leftovers or buying takeout with any money they left for you on the refrigerator. You barely saw them each day, either they worked late or went to work so early. So it’s fair to say that you didn’t have a nice childhood.
That doesn’t mean you hate them. You knew they loved you. You knew they always snuck into your room in the middle of the night to watch you sleep and kiss you. You knew how they saved your letters and drawings you made in school, hanging them in their room and or in the kitchen. But still, you were just a child and the only thing you wanted was their attention.
So when they came home in the afternoon on the day before your tenth birthday, you were ecstatic. When they promised you that they would take you on a trip the next day, you were over the moon. Only to be woken up the next day by your grandparents, who said that your parents died in a car accident. At that time, the concept of death was very vague for you. You thought that your parents broke their promise and ran away, leaving you alone. You were more disappointed than sad. What they did so early on that morning is still a mystery for you. But the only thing you knew was you’d never see your parents ever again.
And everything went in a flash. You followed your grandparents to the countryside, leaving your childhood house. Leaving all of your memories with your parents. Leaving every bit of evidence that your parents loved you.
Your grandparents fit in your life immediately. They showered you with love and attention that you’d never had. They fed you homemade meals that you’d never eaten. They still can’t fill the empty spot in your heart, but at least, you feel loved. They always make sure that you don’t feel lonely and sad, especially on your birthday.
You tap your vibrating phone and put it to your ear. “Hello, granny!”
“Happy birthday, sweetie. How are you?” You hear a rustle on the other end. “Hey, come here and speak with Y/N!”
You smile as you hear your grandfather grunt. “Hey grandpa! I’m fine and healthy. How are you both? How’s grandpa’s back?”
“He’s fine. We finally hired a part-timer to help us. You know that kid Beomgyu from the red house around the corner? He has been a great help.”
“I remember him. I’m glad that you can take some breaks. Grandpa, please don’t scold him much, okay?” You giggle, remembering the little boy you used to babysit back then.
Grandfather snorts. “He works well, even better than you! So don’t you worry about us. Are you eating well? How’s your studying?”
“I’m fine!! Everything is going well here, so I’d say the same to you: don’t worry about me. And of course he works well, he is getting paid after all!”
He laughs, “yes that might be true. Hear that? She’s fine! Your grandma here is so worried about you.”
“Of course I’d worry, she’s a little girl living alone in a big city, how couldn’t I be worried?” she whines. “I’m so glad that you’re fine, Y/N. Just please come home for holidays or anything, we miss you and we’re not getting younger. I want to see you again at least once before I die…”
“Granny!” you let a loud cry, and clear your throat immediately after realizing that you’re still in a bus. “You’ll live until a hundred years, but yes, I’ll try to find  time to come home. I’m still on the bus now, can I talk to you later?”
“Ah right, take care sweetie! Come home soon!”
“Love you!” You hang up the phone and put it inside your pocket.
You look at the window beside you and see your reflection. “You look just like your mother!”
You do look like your mother; the differences are that you have messy hair, dark bags under your eyes, some pimples on your cheeks, rather than a grown, elegant woman like your mother. Even if she was not using any makeup, she still glowed. She was the woman that you’d wanted to be as when you grow up. Instead, you grew up without caring about your appearance that much. The only thing that you use is just a lip tint and maybe a compact for some occasions.
You take a deep breath, hoping the thought of your parents would vanish into the air, as you rise from the seat and walk to the door. There’s no need for you to be sad about them, they won’t come back.
Just as you step your foot onto the sidewalk, suddenly a rush of wind flows right to you, making you pull your cardigan a little tighter, a reminder that you’re not alone.
And maybe, just for today, you’ll let them wander in your thoughts for a little longer. Today is a special day, after all.
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Yoongi throws his head back and sighs. His eyes fall again on the screen in front of him. The footage has been playing for a couple of days, sabotaging his work output on a weekday. It’s not that he doesn’t have anything to do at work, but you just keep appearing inside his head. That’s why at least, he needs to finish this first.
He found that the man who harassed you before has followed you for almost a year, he suspects. The man, whose name he finally knew after investigating it further, Jaebum, also works in the store near your apartment that you usually visit. A year… how come you didn’t realize his presence?
“So you have found the man, Hyung?” Jimin asks as he pops his head in Yoongi’s cubicle.
“Yes, I have. But I still don’t know why he did it.” Yoongi runs his fingers through his hair in exasperation.
Hoseok rises from his seat and lets out a loud noise as he stretches. “Isn’t obsession the usual motive?”
Yoongi shrugs and closes the footage on his screen. “Yes, maybe? I just have a bad feeling about him.”
“Aren’t all stalkers worth bad feelings?” Jimin raises one of his eyebrows. “What are you going to do with the footage though?”
Yoongi unplugs the USB from his computer. “I’ll give it to Y/N, I think?”
Hoseok walks over to him, crooking one eyebrow at him. “Who-whoa. Wouldn’t it make Y/N terrified?” When Yoongi doesn’t answer further, Hoseok’s eyes widen. “Yo-You want her to be afraid! But why?”
Yoongi bites his lips and looks at the USB in his hand, then curls his fingers around it, gripping it tightly. “She is so careless! I just want her to be more careful!”
Hoseok eyes Yoongi in silence, thinking. After a bit, he opens his mouth. “You want her to run to you… you want her to ask for your help, don’t you?”
Yoongi again doesn’t answer, only turns his head to face Hoseok.
That makes a smile fall on Hoseok’s face immediately. “You’ve changed, Hyung.”
The sudden charge makes Yoongi’s cheeks turn red and he turns his gaze away. “Shut up. And you should stop doing this psychological-thing to me, dumbass.”
“I’d never stop, besides, I’m studying you, Hyung. I ju-”
“Hyung! Yoongi-Hyung!!” Jungkook opens the door harshly and yells, interrupting the talk. He rushes up to Yoongi and takes a deep breath. “Remember your neighbor? Y/N?”
Jimin hits the younger man’s shoulder lightly. “Of course, he does! We just talked about her earlier! You should see Yoongi-hyung’s face! He just-”
“She’s here! She’s in The Company!”
“What? What do you mean she’s here?” Jimin tilts his head in bewilderment.
Hoseok squints in confusion. “I know you have something special with this girl, but isn’t it too much if you tell her where you work?”
Yoongi frowns. “Are you crazy? I never told her where I work!”
“How do you think she knows, then?” Jimin’s eyes widen. “Don’t tell me she’s a spy! That all those gullible things she did were all an act. Oh my God, she’s damn good, isn’t she? I ca-”
“That’s not what I meant!” Jungkook pouts and looks at Yoongi’s face with a serious face. “Y/N.. She’s in the investigation room right now.”
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Yoongi yanks open the door to the observation room and rushes in, followed by his three friends behind him. His eyes fall immediately on the big glass window giving a view to the investigation room, where you sit.
“What the hell?” Taemin screws up his face at the men. “What are you guys doing here?”
Jimin steps in and smiles sheepishly. “Eh... We got some information that you got Y/N, so here we are.”
Taemin folds his hands over his chest. “What? How do you know her?”
“She is Yoongi-hyung’s girlfri- no, I mean friend.” Jimin whispers.
“What? I didn’t know you have a girlfriend! I tho-”
“Why is she here?” Yoongi interrupts, his eyes are still on you, eyebrows frowning in worry. You look so terrified and confused looking at the man in the suit sitting in front of you, and all that Yoongi can think about is how to drag you out from there.
Taemin clears his throat. “Well, our team has been following some guys who stole museum things and sold them in the black market. And that pretty lady over there somehow had a Chinese locket that was stolen in Beijing a month ago. Apparently, she was told to pick it up and deliver it to another buyer.”
Yoongi turns to look at him in disbelief. “That can’t be true! She would never do something like that. Y/N... She’s just a normal girl...”
“Of course we know.” Taemin smiles. “She didn’t even know about the value of the locket, just casually putting the two hundred million won locket in her backpack. The man we suspected before paid her some money and she thought that it’s just a freelance-part-time job. Don’t worry. We’re only talking to her as a witness in this case.”
Yoongi sighs in relief. His mind is in chaos right now. Why does she keep looking for more money? How much does she need anyway? What does she do with the money?
The man inside the investigation room rises and walks to the door. When he enters the command room he is confused by the sudden crowd. “Why are you guys here?”
Jungkook tugs Minho aside and whispers in his ear. “She is Yoongi’s girlfriend…”
Minho’s eyes widen and he chuckles. “Seriously guys, your team’s got some troublesome women.”
Jungkook pouts and his cheeks flush. Jimin looks away from Minho, hiding his expression and Hoseok just shrugs casually. No one wants to complain or explain any further when all of them know that they are always involved in weird women.
“Oh, and by the way, Jungkook, do you never have any plan to take the forensic girl on a date? We’ve kinda got a bet going here with Taemin and Sehun about when you’ll date her. I thought highly of you and I’m going to lose some money!” Minho grunts, “so, please. Take her on a date soon.…”
Taemin looks at Minho immediately, “Hyung! That’s like cheating!”
“Is she done? Can I take her home?” Yoongi asks as he walks closer to Minho.
“Yeah. You can take her.” Minho points to a basket with all of your stuff. “Oh, I think it’s best for her not to use the money. She shouldn’t be an accomplice.”
Yoongi nods and silently gathers your bag and phone. As he stands in front of the door, he sighs again. With his hand tightly gripping your bag, he closes his eyes, regaining his composure.
Finally, his free hand finds the doorknob and opens it slowly. And his eyes met with your confused eyes immediately.
“Yoongi? Wh-why are you here?” you stutter.
“I work here. Let’s just go home.” He looks at you coldly and leaves the room, before making sure you follow along with him.
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He doesn’t know what to do. He wants to be mad at you, he wants to know what the hell happened and why. He wants to know everything about you.
It’s maddening.
And it’s hurting him.
All this time, the only thing he wanted is just to know you better, and by better he means everything. Like your lunch menu, or your childhood, and even your dreams. He tries hard to make it happen, but he doesn’t understand why you keep it all to yourself.
You make him confused.
He doesn’t even know what’s wrong with him, the only thing he knows is that his heart skipped a beat when he saw you for the first time, hugging your deceased microwave. The only thing he knows is that his eyes have been drawn to you ever since that day. The only thing he knows is that he wants to be with you, for as long as he can.
And just like Hoseok said before: yes, Yoongi wants you to ask for his help, to run into him, to take his hands, and to open your heart. And maybe that footage was a stupid and selfish move of him. Or maybe he’s just that desperate.
He wants to be the one to make you happy, he wants to be the one who makes you smile widely. If people want to label it as selfish, doesn’t that mean that every love is also selfish itself?
“---Yoongi… please say something…” You call out to him after both of you enter his apartment. Yoongi hasn’t talked at all on the drive home from the big building where he works. And it makes you uneasy. Even if Yoongi talked so much before, you still can’t understand him completely. And now he is silent? It doesn’t make it any easier.
Yoongi slams your backpack on his couch. Your keys jangle in some pocket. “What do you want me to say?”
You gulp at his cold remark, stepping back away from him. “I- I’m sorry. I jus-” you stutter.
“You’re lucky that you were just taken as a witness. But what if they take you to prison?” he hisses.
“I-I know.. I--”
But Yoongi has lost all his patience. He’s tired of this situation. He is tired of guessing your thoughts and your actions. “What were you going to do with the money?”
You grip your shirt tighter, eyes looking at the floor, already wet with tears. “You know my answer, rent, food, anything for living…”
“Don’t lie to me.” He steps forward, and you step backward without thinking. Your back bumps into the windowsill. You look away to avoid the intensity of his eyes. “I know approximately how much the rent is on your apartment, and have an idea of your living costs. I know that even with just one job you can survive…”
“There’s no need for you to work to death if you just do it for a living. Why do you keep needing money to the point you work at such a suspicious job?”
Your hands tremble and with your eyes clouded with tears, you can’t think properly. You pinch your arm hard, to stop you spilling your deepest secret. “My-My grandparents are sick…”
Yoongi looks at you carefully and walks to the couch. “Is that so?” He pulls his phone out from his pocket and unlocks it. “Maybe I should just call to check on them. Also, I should thank them for the lasagna last week--”
“NO!” you yell as you grip his arm tightly. “Ple-Please don’t…”
“Then why do you keep lying to me?” His face softens as he looks at your pale face. He gently removes your hand from his arm and holds your hand. His other hand moves to your face to swipe your tears carefully. “I just want to help you Y/N. Will you let me?”
And with that last sentence, you take all of your courage to look into his eyes. His charming eyes now show sadness and disappointment. His gummy smile is now replaced with a tired smile that completed his overall look: a look that shows you how stupid you are. A look that shows how sincere he is. The look of the man that you keep pushing away unconsciously. The look that will make you regret for the rest of your life if you don’t speak up now, if you don’t tell him anything.
And it aches inside you.
The pain suffocates you each time you feel the tears roll down your cheeks.
“Y/N?” he calls you sweetly, eyebrows creased in worry.
And with that voice, you let your head fall onto his chest. You let your silent crying turn into loud sobs as your hands cling to him for dear life. “Hel-help me…” you mutter softly.
Yoongi is stunned as he sees you break apart on his chest. The way you keep your pain and problems all to yourself must be killing you by inches, and yet you are always smiling and doing your best. He puts his arms around you and hugs you tightly, letting you calm down in his embrace. He doesn’t care if he will be hugging you for hours, the only thing that is important for him is that you can at least lessen your burden by letting him carry it together with you.
The only thing he wants you to know is that when your tears dry out and your body is worn out, he will be there for you, with you, the first time you open your eyes.
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After you calmed down and are seated on the couch, Yoongi hands you a cup of warm water with a little bit of honey. Well, he doesn’t have anything much in his apartment. With just one look, people who walk into this apartment will know that this apartment is just for him: full white with not a sign of hospitality or even a decoration. It’s actually better than before. After you met him and became his regular guest, slowly he began to stock the things you’d usually enjoy. He just does it subconsciously.
Honey, beer, and sausages.
The three things for your usual moods. Honey when you’re tired, beer when you’re excited, and sausages when you’re too busy to remember to eat.
He remembers how once you knocked on his door in the middle of the night with an empty cup in your hands and a tear welling on the corner of your eye, asking for a glass of warm water. You were writing your papers that were due in the morning and when you wanted to boil water, the pot was broken. (He mentally noted to buy you one.) And while both of you waited for the water to boil, your eyes searched for something in his kitchen, a bottle of honey. Which of course, he didn’t have. He has some now.
Back then, the stress was too much for you. The accumulated fatigue made you very sensitive. So, when he saw your gathered tears, Yoongi grabbed his jacket and wallet and ran outside, only to walk in five minutes later with a bottle of honey and an assortment of any food that he could find at midnight.
At the time, he questioned himself as to why he moved his body faster when it’s about you, but he found the answer right away when you looked at the stuff he bought. Your smile and his rapid heartbeat, how your smile magically sent an unknown wave to trigger his heart rate.
He realized how he was already head over heels about you.
You sip the honeyed water slowly until it’s empty. “You want more?” Yoongi asks as he takes the glass from your hand.
You shake your head. “No, thank you.”
“I’m sorry I yelled at you before.” Yoongi sits on the couch beside you, taking your hands in his, his thumbs drawing soothing circles on your skin, spreading more warmth to your body. “I know it’s hard for you, and I shouldn’t force you to talk. I’m sorry. You can tell me anytime you are ready to trust me.” He brings your hands close to his lips and plants a feathery kiss.
“I trust you, Yoongi.” You take a deep breath. “I just never tell anyone about this…”
And so you tell him.
How three years ago you met Jaebum when you were working in the convenience store. How he was so kind and thoughtful to you, helping you study and helping you to adapt in the city. How you trusted him and liked him. How he dragged you to the bar one day and forced you to drink unknown and bitter drinks. How you woke up naked in a hotel room with him. How you didn’t remember anything about that night. How he told you that he had your sextape and blackmailed you. How you have to send him two million won every month for two years.
Yoongi listens to your story carefully, taking a few deep breaths to calm himself. He is furious. He wants to track that bastard and kick him in his nuts and other places too, then after a few bruises and maybe some fractures, he will send him to the police. But instead, his grips on your hands tighten and he pulls you into his chest.
“It’s okay now, I’ll take care of it.” Yoongi whispers as he strokes your back calmingly. “You don’t need to be afraid.”
Again, you shake your head and put your arms around him, feeling safer than ever. “I don’t. I have you now, don’t I?”
Yoongi smiles and kisses the top of your head lovingly. “You have had me since day one, little bug.”
You look up to see his face, his smile widens and his cheeks turn pinkish, the same shades that’s on your cheeks. “I--”
“I almost forgot...” Yoongi interrupts, his hands moving to cup your cheeks and he inches forward to kiss your forehead gently. “Happy birthday, Y/N.”
You don’t believe how relieved you are after hearing those words now. Those words were the one you longed ever since your tenth birthday. Those words were the reminder that you’re left alone in this world, how you’re not a complete person. Now, those words don’t remind you of how lonely you are, but instead, those words fill the empty spot in your heart perfectly and make you warm. Yes, Yoongi does it for you.
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After you tell Yoongi about Jaebum, Yoongi calls his friend in the police immediately. Luckily after he explained to the police and gave them the footage of Jaebum following you, Jaebum will be processed. Apparently, he has a prior crime before so the process goes pretty smoothly. But the one thing that Yoongi concerns is that you are needed to be a witness. He’s worried that you’ll meet that bastard again.
“For now, I ask them so you won’t see him, but it might be difficult when it goes to trial.” Yoongi takes your cold hand in his, trying to warm it a little as both of you step inside the police office. “Are you okay?”
You have never been inside this police office before. Two years ago, when Jaebum first blackmailed you, you gathered all of your courage to report him in this exact building. Back then, you were so hesitant and didn’t have any evidence, only ended with you walking back home without even stepping into the building, but thanks to Yoongi, at least, you can sue Jaebum for stalking and blackmailing now. You take a deep breath and tighten your hand, “but then it’ll be over, right? He’ll be in prison?”
Yoongi smiles and pulls you into a hug. “Yes. You're a strong woman, I believe you’ll be okay. But promise you’ll tell me if you’re uncomfortable with this, okay?”
“What if he’s already posted it on the internet? What if the video-”
He silences you as he pinches your cheeks. “I’ll take it down. I’ll search every part on the net and delete it. Don’t worry about it.”
You raise one of your eyebrows. “You can?”
Yoongi scoffs and smiles widely. He tugs your hand to walk again behind him. “Of course. Who do you think I am? Besides, I don’t think Jaebum actually has the video, it might be just a fraud.”
His feet stop in front of a blue glass door, what it seems to be the police’s office, and he knocks on the door. “Yes, little bug. Either way, I’ll take care of it.” Yoongi ruffles your hair as he looks into your eyes sweetly, sending you a weird sensation on your chest.
The door suddenly opens before you reply anything, and a tall man in a blue suit walks outside to you. His sharp eyes turn to look at Yoongi and at you. “Are you Miss Y/N?” You nod, hands still clenching Yoongi’s sleeve. The man clears his throat and hides his smile immediately. “I’m Jinyoung, and I’m Yoongi’s friend. I’ll need you to answer some questions, please follow me.”
You look again at Yoongi who gives a reassuring smile, and walk with Jinyoung to the room on your left.
Yoongi on the other hand walks freely in the office to the interrogation room. His eyes dart to Jaebum who’s talking to a police officer, who shows him some footage on the laptop.
Noticing a new presence, Jaebum looks up and when he sees Yoongi, his eyebrows frowning immediately. “You…”
“Nice to see you again.” Yoongi smirks. “It’s really nice to see you handcuffed like this.”
“You jerk. Just because I touched that woman you sue me with this nonsense?” Jaebum’s face reddened as he tries to grab Yoongi. “I’ve never followed her!”
Yoongi raises one of his eyebrows and turns to Jackson, the police officer. “What the hell is he talking about?”
Jackson shrugs, “Right? He denies every charge except the fraud thing. He has already confessed about the sextape, which he lied about.” He slams the table in front of him. “Just give up! We have all of the evidence.”
Jaebum takes a deep breath and runs his fingers through his hair desperately, his eyes start to water. “I told you, I didn’t follow her! I work every night, you know that I need money!”
Yoongi steps closer, “a month ago, you followed Y/N to her floor at night, I saw you in the hall.”
“What? I only saw her in the convenience store with you. Sure I followed her for a little while that day, but I have never followed her to her apartment!”
“That’s not what I meant. The next day after you saw her, where were you?”
“Like I said, I was working! You can ask my boss and my co-worker for that matter.” He sighs, his right hand moves to the water bottle in front of him and he gulps it down. “And when I saw her at her workplace, it was just pure coincidence. Please believe me.”
Yoongi shares a look at Jackson and nods. They walk quickly outside and head to the empty room beside the interrogation room with the laptop. “I don’t think he is lying. What should we do?” Jackson asks as he scratches his head.
Yoongi looks again at the footage. “It should be him. If not, who else?” He bites his lips as he looks carefully at the screen. His eyes widen as he realizes something.
The man who followed you every day lights his cigarette with his left hand. He also uses the phone with his left hand. There’s no way… “This guy is left-handed?”
Jackson peeks to the screen. “What? But Jaebum is right-handed. Then who is he?”
This is bad. I thought it was the same man. Does this mean that another man is following her? But who is he?
His thoughts start accumulating and bothering his mind. To think that you are still in danger makes him anxious and sick. “Jackson-ah, just to make sure, please ask him again. I’ll call you later.” Yoongi leaves the room hurriedly, ignoring the call from his friend.
He has to see you.
Who is that guy? What does he want from you?
“Yoongi? Why do you look so pale?” You raise your eyebrow as you clutch a can of apple juice in front of a vending machine. “Did something happen?”
He looks at your brown eyes, the ones that look at him with such care and trust, which looks a little lost and confused. He remembers how his mission in Hawaii became, in many ways, the turning point of his life. Regrets, disappointment, sadness, fear, all because he couldn’t control everything: his mind, his mission, and his emotion. Everything was unpredictable. Everything went exactly opposite to his plan.
Just like this time.
And now it is even worse.
Why does this happen to a woman he adores the most? Why does this happen to a woman that he wants to protect? Why does this happen to a woman who has just opened her heart for him?
His hands turn into fists. This is so unfair…
“.... Yoongi?” you call softly.
And again, even in his most chaotic mind, your voice still stands out. Your warmth is his finish line, a way out from the labyrinth inside his head, a ray of sunshine that shows him the path. No matter how messy his way and how long he walks, it is you that he always seeks.
Subconsciously, his hands reach out to you and pull you into his chest. His breaths even out in your warmth. Your racing heart calms his heart. It’s like everything is falling into their right places.
Your tiny hands wrap around his back. “What’s with the sudden hug? Did you think I’m gone missing or something?” you smile and let out a small laugh.
Why can you still smile like this?
“Don’t worry, I’m fine. I can do it.” You pat his back softly. “It’s not like we can control and manipulate the process right?”
Don’t you ever feel anxious? Don’t you ever feel afraid?
“Isn’t that what you’re thinking? That trial?”
But Yoongi doesn’t answer. He just hugs you tighter, doesn’t care that both of you are still standing in the hallway of a police office. Doesn’t care that it can be seen as an inappropriate display of affection. He needs it. And you let him, even if it makes it hard for you to breathe. It’s just right.
Maybe you are just the right answer. Maybe you are the help that he always needed. Maybe you are the balm to soothe his troubled mind. Maybe it’s okay not overthinking it.
Maybe he needs you more than he knows, just as much as you need him.
And one thing he’s sure of for now. That you’re here with him, and he won’t let bad things happen to you.
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TAGLIST (Send me an ask): @kb-bangtanenthusiast @w0lfqu33n @gee-nee @jaienn​ @nctssidehoe @codeinebelle​ @kali-20 @mygalaxysupernova​ @jeoncookie-bts​ @kookunot​ @1-in-abillion​ @beingbeings​ @enchantingbrowneyedgirl @yiyi4657​ @jinsalpaca​ @giadalin​ @spring2787​ @drmrastraea​ @katbonv​ @fluffyjoons​ @baebyjoonie​ @theresnoplacelike​ @gguki​ @purplewinterluv​ @safi4x​ @kpopmagics @min-yus​ @somewhereofftheglobe​ @moglen​ @yoobikook​ @loveyoongles​ @louisavuittonswrld
Go check the other series because *sst... It’s all connected!
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vjjkknjmygjhsksjpjm · a month ago
OK! SO I’m going to rewrite my Taehyung story because the one I currently have I dislike how it ended up!!! And I’ll write the sequel into it! And for my Wattpad JK story the update will come if anyone here actually read these lol, it’s a challenging chapter but it’ll come. I’m not sure which one will come sooner but if I actually do have people here who read my work I promise I’m working on it the best I can with my busy schedule!!!
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zelsposts · 2 months ago
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Hybrid List 
Mafia List
Poly List
Smut List
List of the Lists
//hope y’all are enjoying!! will update the lists everytime i encounter some good reads again,, luv you all :*
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btsmakesmehappy · 2 months ago
MicroWave | 2
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Genre: Fluff, Angst, Smut (in future chapter)
Pairing: Agent!Yoongi x Reader (Agent au. Neighbor au)
Word Count: 5,7k
Rating: 18+ (M)
Warning: Y/N is followed by mysterious man, stalker. Yoongi is a fluffball, a protective kind-hearted neighbor. mention of ulterior motives. (let me know if there’s something I missed)
Chapter: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | ongoing
Summary: Yoongi can’t help to worry about his neighbor. Not only that she almost burned the apartment down, she also trusts people too much, and yet she doesn’t want people to help her. She is just trouble written in bold and capital and he shouldn’t be acquainted with her. But yet, he makes it his mission to help her with all costs.
Series Masterlist: The Company
A/N: Finally after a long procrastination, I’ve finally finished this story. I wanted to make sure I finish it first or at least have a solid story, because what is plot and outline when you just can write it in any way you like? Shout out to my beta-reader and my forever supporter @arizonapoppy​! thank you for always listen to my story and take care of me. Love you!
Go check the other series because *sst... It’s all connected!
send me an ask if you want me to add you in my taglist <3
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It’s ten past eleven in the evening when you set foot on your apartment floor. You don’t usually come home this late, but because you need more money, you took another part-time job in a sandwich shop. It sums up why your week is so busy, college until four, tutoring high school students until seven, part-time job until eleven, and that’s only weekdays. On weekends your schedule is tighter as you hop from a shift at one store to another store, and sometimes you can come home at dawn.
You’re lying if you say those jobs don’t make you tired.
It’s killing you.
But it’s not that you can bargain. You need money.
You look at a plastic bag in your right hand. You decided that since Yoongi helped you with your key situation, you want to give him something. And because you have no time to buy anything, you decided to give him some sandwiches from your store, ignoring the fact that you also got an employee discount for them.
You ring his bell immediately after you arrive in front of his door, hoping that he hasn't fallen asleep yet. And with just a few rings, Yoongi opens the door.
“Y/N, did you just come home this late?” he asks with a creased forehead. He looks fine in (once again) a black sweater. His hair is wet and there’s a towel hanging on his shoulder.
“Yes, it’ll maybe just be this way for a few months, before I’m busy at university again.” You giggle and reach out your hand to give him the plastic bag. “I’m bringing you sandwiches as a thank you.”
Yoongi sighs and smiles. “You don’t really need to. I just-” His smile vanishes suddenly and you can see his jaw clench. He grabs your arms and pulls you inside his apartment and immediately closes the door.
You are caged between him and the door as he hovers over you. You gulp nervously with his sudden action and his proximity. “Yoon-”
“Ssh.” He hushes you with a held-up finger as he peers through the hole on the door.
“Wh-what is it?” you whisper confusedly.
He pulls away from the door and drags you to the living room. “There’s a man following you.”
Your eyes widen. “Wh-what? Who?” Your throat immediately dries out, in contrast with your clammy hands. You didn’t sense anything or anyone in your walk home, and you’ve never been followed before. Is it a robber?
“Just wait here for a minute. I’m gonna check on him.” Yoongi grabs one of his trash bags and walks outside, ignoring the way you reach for his hand.
You follow him to the door, wanting to check it for a moment. But you walk back to the living room, after you become terrified to find someone you know lurking in the hallway. You pace back and forth with uneasy feelings as you bite your nails nervously.
And after a few minutes, Yoongi comes back and you rush immediately to him. “Ho-How is it?”
He smiles softly and pats your shoulder. “I found him wandering in the hall so I challenged him. And then he just ran away without giving me any answer. So he’s gone for now. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” You smile weakly and your knees weaken. You plop down to the floor and take a deep breath to control yourself. “Are you sure he’s following me? Maybe it’s just a mistake.” Still, even if you’re terrified, you shouldn’t accuse someone just because he walked behind you.
“I’m not really sure, but he does seem suspicious,” Yoongi replies and holds onto your arms to help you stand again. He guides you to sit on the couch and walks to the kitchen. He’s back with a glass of water, which you accept gratefully. He sits beside you and looks at you worriedly. “You don’t notice anything?”
You shake your head weakly. “What should I do?”
“We need to check if this man really followed you, and after that we can report it to the police.” He reaches for one of your hands and pats it lightly. “Don’t be afraid. I might be wrong too.”
“But what if he follows me again tomorrow?” You look back at him with teary eyes.
Yoongi releases your hand and looks at the plastic bag you brought earlier. “It’s perfect timing. I haven’t had dinner. You should eat it too, it’s too much for me anyway.” He grabs a wrap of sandwich and opens it, then offers it to you.
“Yoon,” you plead. This isn’t the time to have dinner. You almost peed yourself before and you’re sure you can’t go to sleep like this.
He again pushes the sandwich to you, forcing you to take it. “Just eat it first.”
You sigh. Sure you can’t rely on him that much. But isn’t this just rude and heartless to ignore your question? You bite into the sandwich emotionless, a part of you disappointed with him, but another part telling you that you’re just his neighbor. But you can’t avoid tears that threaten to fall from the corners of your eyes.
“Just call me if you see him,” he says lightly as he takes a bite of his sandwich. “No, actually call me when you get off work.”
You look at him with disbelief. Your heart beats fast and you can even hear it thumping through your ears. What did he say?
“You work in the sandwich shop in the main street, right? I’ll pick you up tomorrow.”
“Yes.. but why?”
He turns his head to face you. He tilts in confusion. “I thought you’re afraid to walk home alone?”
“I do, but why are you helping me again?”
He stands and ruffles your hair. “Why are you keep asking that question? We’re neighbors right?” He then grabs another wrap of sandwiches and looks at you. “Seriously, you gave me too many sandwiches. Just take this one home with you.”
You look at him with your jaw slightly drop as you receive the sandwich mindlessly.
“Let me walk you home.”
You shake your head, afraid that you’d bother him again. “It’s okay, it’s just a few doors down anyway.”
Yoongi laughs, showing you his pink gums, and you’re sure that it’s the cutest laugh you’ve ever heard in your whole life. “I know, dummy. I need to teach you about the door, remember?”
“Ah. right.” You smile sheepishly. “Or you can just text me the code?”
“Why do you need to write the code? What if someone steals your phone and sees the code?” He folds his arms and looks at you weirdly. “It’s like you write your ATM pin and attach it on your ATM card, isn’t it? Who does that?”
You laugh weirdly and diverts your eyes from his gaze, remembering the piece of paper you with numbers on it that you put with your cards in your wallet. “Haha, yes. That’s totally true.”
Yoongi’s jaw drops and he frowns in concern. “Oh my God. You did it, didn’t you?” He shakes his head in exasperation. “How did you even survive for three years? Is it pure luck?” he mumbles as he walks to the door.
You pout and follow after him, holding your sandwich tightly in your hand. “I heard that!”
“Well, I said it just so you could hear it.” He chuckles and holds the door open for you. “Come on, we have some training to do.”
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That night, Yoongi’s eyes and fingers are moving fast in front of his computer, and no, it’s not about The Company.
Tonight, it’s about his neighbor.
His neighbor who somehow always gets on his nerves, and not in a bad way. Or is it?
He’s never met a woman this naive and clumsy like you. Well, he doesn’t really know if naive will do justice to you because sometimes he feels that you’re a little dumb. Sure, he knows that you’re not that dumb dumb, you’re a scholarship student for godsakes. But after a series of encounters with you, he doesn’t even know anymore.
The only thing he knows is that you need to be protected at all costs.
And yes, he will volunteer at a heartbeat.
So, here he is. Hacking into the government’s CCTV recordings to investigate the man in the hallway from before. He’s absolutely sure that the man was following you-- call it an instinct-- but he didn’t want to tell you that since it’ll make you even more afraid. He would tell you if he’s sure and he has enough evidence so you can report it to the police. That was the main goal.
But the universe was doing a strange thing earlier, when somehow he blurted out that he’ll pick you up from work.
It was a little unpredictable even for himself.
He doesn’t usually behave like this.
It’s like, ever since the first time he met you, you sneaked into his head like a computer virus, making him do something he doesn’t usually do.
His eyes attached to the screen as he searches for you in the footage in front of the Sandwich Shop. And at five to eleven o’clock, he sees you leaving the shop. You walked cheerfully with earphones attached to your ears and backpack on your back, not knowing or caring about the surroundings around you. It’s like you’re in your own world. And watching you almost slip into a puddle, plasters a smile on Yoongi’s face.
But the smile immediately vanishes when his eyes catch a black-hoodied man walking behind you from the corner of the street, like he’s waiting for you. Yoongi can’t see his face, but he wore the same clothes as the man he confronted a few hours ago. He watches silently as the man follows you to the apartment.
It’s weird.
And it sends shivers to Yoongi’s spine.
He can’t see his face, but the only thing he knows is that man is up to something bad. And he won’t let it happen.
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“Really, Y/N? Don’t you already have too many jobs?” Rosé asks as she sweeps the floor. It’s Thursday at ten thirty PM, and you’re busy cleaning the shop after hours. She turns her face to you and ties her pink hair up in a ponytail, as she continues, “You’re gonna die of fatigue.”
You giggle. “I’m used to it. And I can’t stop looking for a job with more money, can I?” You turn the last chair upside down and put it on the table. “Just tell me if you know some job openings.”
She puts the broom in the corner and pouts. “And let you leave me in this depressing shop alone? I don’t think so.” She unties her apron and walks to the back of the shop with you following behind her.
You hang your apron on the wall beside the locker and reach for her apron to do the same. You open your locker, letting the rust smell creep into your nose as you grab your backpack. “Just move with me then.” You look yourself in the mirror on the back of the door before you close it tightly. You fish your phone from your pocket, looking at the screen as you walk to the front.
Rosé rolls her eyes, “Yeah right. Like my mom would let me.” She paces faster over to the cashier, “Mom, should I head home first?”
Rosé’s mom stops counting the money and grumbles. “Why did you disturb me? Now I’ve lost count!”
You laugh at their good-natured bickering. “Well, I should head home, then. Thank you, Mrs. Park. See you tomorrow, Ros!” You wave quickly and head outside. You stand in front of the shop, looking again at your phone screen.
Should I call him?
Won’t it bother him?
“I thought you'd call me.” A familiar voice jolts you from your own thoughts. A little smile pastes on your lips as you look at the origin of the voice.
You walk faster towards him. “Why are you doing here, Yoongi?” You can’t hide the little happiness you felt when you saw him. It’s like he’s been away for so long and you finally met him again. And the fact that you saw him last night, doesn’t change how you miss him.
Well, not that you miss him. You’re just relieved to see him again.
“I’m picking you up, just like I promised.” He leans casually on a blue SUV. Just by standing and smiling before you, he makes your heart race. You can’t deny that he looks good in suits, since you usually see him in a sweater. And the way he just loosens his tie slowly is simply breathtaking. He looks different, in a good-- sexy --way.
“Ah right, thanks.” You immediately look at your clothes. You’re like the opposite of him, hoodie-jeans-and-running shoes. Not that they’re bad. Sure, they’re all worn out, but still you feel like an under-dressed sore thumb, standing beside him.
He opens the passenger door for you. “I just took off from work, if you’re asking. This is my work uniform.”
You cough awkwardly as you slip inside the car. “You look nice.”
He enters the driver seat just seconds after and buckles his seatbelt. “Seatbelt, please,” he says softly and turns to you, “or do you want me to put it on for you?”
“I can do it by myself, thank you very much.” You feel heat rushing to your cheeks. “Stop teasing me.”
He laughs and starts the car and drives away. His eyes sneak a glance or two at you and to his rearview mirror. “Have you eaten?”
“I literally work in a restaurant.” You roll your eyes.
“So? Just answer the question.”
You sigh, “No, I haven’t. It was a busy day at work.”
He laughs again, and you believe that it actually becomes one of your favorite sounds. And you’re absolutely sure you’re gonna record it someday. “Let’s have dinner then. What do you want to eat?”
“Hmm. I never eat out…”
He steps on the brake just when the traffic light turns red and turns to you. “What? Like never never?”
You laugh awkwardly and look outside the window. “It’s a little pathetic, isn’t it? I only eat at home.”
He drives again and looks at the street. “Eating premade food at home..”
“Hey! It’s cheap and plenty easy. I’m just too busy, you know.”
“Sure,” he scoffs. “Gukbap? My treat.”
Your eyes widen and look at his pale face. “I don’t need your pity. I’m fine eating at home,” you hiss.
“That’s not what I meant. Sorry.” He sighs. “But I never pity you. It’s just I’m older and a man, it’s a common courtesy. If you don’t want to, that’s okay. We can go home.”
You bite your lips and fiddle with your hands. “Sorry, I don’t mean it like that. It’s just you’ve been too much help for me these days. I just-”
“I understand. You don’t need to feel bad about it. I’m sorry.”
The car again stops at the traffic light. The space is filled with an awkward silence. What a way to thank your savior, Y/N. It’s not that you're mad at him. You’re thankful, a lot. But it’s not the first time you received this type of kindness. It’s either out of pity, or the one who gave it wants something for you. And you don’t know which category Yoongi belongs to.
“Do you want to sleep with me?” you blurt.
Again he steps on the brake harshly, and luckily there are no cars behind you. “What the hell are you talking about?” His jaw dropped. He looked flabbergasted.
You clear your throat and continue, still avoiding his eyes. “Do you?”
Yoongi sighs and you see his cheeks redden under the streetlight. “It’s not that I don’t want to. You’re a beautiful woman. But seriously, what are you talking about?”
Your heart skips a beat with his praise, but you shake your head to knock it from your head. “In the past, I discovered that people wanted to help me because they have some ill-intended purposes..”
He blinks his eyes several times and continues his driving. “Well, that might be true. I didn’t expect you’d have some thoughts like that.” He looks at his rearview mirror one more time and then takes a U-turn suddenly, which makes you look at him quizzically. “But seriously, I just want to help you and get to know you better.”
“Where are we going?”
“Gukbap place. You drained my energy, I need to eat something.” Before you even protest, he continues, “It’s just one dinner, okay?”
You fold your arms and sigh. “Are there any noodles?”
He lets out a small laugh. “You are unbelievable, did you know that? Just try the Gukbap, it’s the tastiest one there.” You nod and look outside, resting your temple on the window in silence.
And Yoongi just can’t help but feel that the sight warms his heart. He wants to reach his hand to ruffle your hair again but he holds it back. Yet, he can’t hold the smile that keeps appearing on his face.
You’re confusing. He’s sure now that you’re not as naive as he thought before, and he doesn’t even want to call you dumb. But one thing that he does know..
That he needs to lose the man who is trailing behind  both of you.
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One dinner then turns into two, and seven, and somehow you and Yoongi have dinner together for a month. He always has the way to make you agree to have dinner with him and he always skillfully pays it first. The last part always makes you pout on the way home and it always disappears every time he casually pats your head or holds your waist when you lose your balance on the stairs, replaced with blushes on your cheeks.
And each time you spend with him, your feelings for him grow. He becomes the highlight of your day, the cherry on the top of your sundae, your shelter when you’re rained on. He is one of your closest friends.
So after days of waiting for you outside the shop, he waits inside these days. Rosé and Rosé’s mom happily accept him, since he is not just sitting around. Yoongi always finds a way to help Rosé’s mom, either with her point-of-sale machine, or her phone, or just listening to her stories. And Rosé? She always teases the both of you. She flirts at him at first, but after getting to know him, she stops. Maybe she finds a thing or two when she looks the way you and Yoongi look at each other.
“So I just tap this button and they’ll deliver my food?” Mrs. Park corrects her glasses and looks closely at her phone.
“Yes, you can just input your credit card numbers here or just pay for it when they deliver it,” Yoongi explains as he points to the screen.
Mrs. Park nods and smiles. “I understand it now. You make a good teacher, Yoongi. Rosé would never teach me this.”
“I heard that!” Rosé emerges from the back and rolls her eyes. “I taught her so many times but she never understands! It’s not my fault that she’s a bad student! Back me up here, Y/N!”
“I’m not joining your feud, Rosé. You are my best friend, but she is the one who pays me, so...” You shrug, gaining laughter from Yoongi.
“See? She is not patient at all!” Mrs. Park shakes her head.
The bickering with Rosé and her mom continues, but you don’t even pay any attention to them, as your eyes fall on Yoongi. He wears a brown coat with a hoodie inside, not his usual work attire. His hair is wet, maybe because he got caught in the rain as he arrived at the shop. “I thought you were coming from work,” you say as you turn the chairs.
He rises from his seat and follows you. “I did. It's a casual Friday. What do you want to eat tonight?”
“I’m fine with anything.” Your hand stops and you turn to face him. “But at least I’ll pay for tonight?”
Yoongi folds his arms. “Hmm. Nope.”
You pout. “Come on. I saved so much money because you paid for the dinners before. Let me pay, please?”
He smiles and pats your head. “Let’s see later.”
“Okay lovebirds let’s go home,” Rosé calls from the door. “I need to close the door.”
Yoongi puts up the last chair and pushes you out the door, ignoring the fact that your cheeks reddened. And you mentally take a note to kick her ass. Can she be a little more explicit about it?
Rosé walks to your side and lets Yoongi help her mom closing the shop. “Sorry to disturb you two. I promise I’ll let you borrow the shop next time,” she whispers and winks.
You hit her shoulder lightly. “Can you stop it?”
“Oh right, that reminds me. I got a job for you.” She drags you to the side, knowing the fact that you don’t want Yoongi to know about another job you’d take. “My friend’s brother wants someone to deliver a package to his downtown office. Apparently the last time they used a courier the packages were somehow broken. The package is antique and pricey, so they want someone they can trust. He wanted me at first, but I have class that day. You’re free on Wednesday, right?”
“I think I am.” You raise one of your eyebrows. “It isn’t something weird, right?”
“I don’t think so. I searched the store, and it is really just an antique store owned by an old man. And he doesn’t do deliveries, only pick up. But my friend’s brother doesn’t have time to pick it that day. The pay is good for just that simple job; he looks desperate.”
You nod. “Fine if you’d say so. Just text me the details later.”
“Done, come on let’s go home!” Mrs. Park opens her umbrella and runs to the street. “See you kids!”
“Mom, wait for me! I’ll text you, Y/N! See you around, Yoongi!” Rosé waves and runs after her mom leaving you and Yoongi alone in front of the shop.
You remove your backpack and put it over your head, ready to run in the rain. “So where did you park your car?”
He pulls you from the street. “It’s a little far from here. I’ll get my car.” He puts up his hoodie and zips his coat.
But before he steps out, you stop him. “Why? We should just run together. It’s just a little rain.”
“That little rain is gonna make you sick afterwards.”
You squint your eyes and move closer to him. “But isn’t it more romantic? And why do you think you won’t get sick?”
He laughs and tucks your hair behind your ear. “There’s nothing romantic about it. It’s just plain stupid. And I’m just stronger than you.”
“It’s just more efficient!” you pout. “And you’re just older and taller.”
He takes a deep breath and looks at the street. “I’m just being nice here! Just stop stopping me from taking care of you.”
You can’t help the corners of your mouth twitching and you at least hide it by biting your lips. “Fine.” You step a little closer to him, your chests almost touching. “If you keep doing this, you’ll have a difficult task to lose me afterwards! I’ll stick on you like a troublesome gum under your shoes, or worse, I’ll bug you whenever I want. Do you really want that?”
Yoongi looks down to find your face is just inches away from touching. He gulps awkwardly, never having been so close with you like this before. He enjoys it, with you just a few breaths away from him. How he can count the lashes of your eyelids and how he can see his reflection on your eyes. He enjoys it so much, to the point that he wants to remove any distance as his eyes carefully focus on your pale pink lips.
But he gains his composure, still not wanting to back away from you but keeping his distance. He pinches the tip of your nose softly and smiles, displaying his pink gums to you. “I don’t think I’d want to lose you anyway. I’ll let you stick on me happily and I’ll even give you a name, little bug.”
You gasp and back away from him, jaw dropped and clench your chest, acting hurt “Like a pet?” you ask jokingly.
He laughs and squishes your cheeks. “Just wait for a minute okay?” He runs into the rain, ignoring how you call for him.
You wonder why every time you speak with him, you always lose. Not that it isn’t a bad thing. Like when you put a lot of chilies into spicy noodles and he warned you. Maybe it’s the first time you won an argument with him, even though it was barely an argument. It’s just you being so stubborn and he's just as concerned with you. He let you do what you wanted and as a result you couldn’t even finish half your noodles. He even had to run to a store to buy milk just so you could tone down the spiciness. After that, you were sure that Yoongi knows the future or maybe you’re just plainly stupid.
Therefore, you always do what he says. But that doesn’t mean you will stop disagreeing with him. You do enjoy every little bickering you have with Yoongi and somehow he lets you too. You know that he does all of those things because he genuinely cares for you. Well, at least it’s your own instincts. Both of you never speak about it out in the open.
But you notice how his eyes are drawn to your lips and you see his dilated pupils up close. You’ve never been so sure before: you do have an attraction to each other and the chemistry just falls into place.
But that doesn’t mean you want to let him pay for your dinner.
Tonight, you’ll make sure that you pay faster than him.
“Y/N?” a hoarse voice breaks into your thoughts.
The rain is still falling, raining even harder than before, clouding the surroundings and makes it harder to see who’s calling out to you. You can only see a black silhouette from the corner of your eyes as he moves closer to where you stand. The man stands before you, drenched from head to toe. You just look at him weirdly. A thought sneaks into your mind that maybe the man wasn’t calling you and you’re just hallucinating, and the man is maybe only staying out of the rain, waiting for it to stop.
But the man keeps staring at you even though you turn to look at the street. “How are you?” His voice is sharper than the harsh rain, sending shivers through your spine, not because of his tone, but because you know the owner of the voice. Your eyes widen and you step back unconsciously. Your hands tremble and the backpack falls from your hand.
The man laughs cynically. “So you do still remember me.” He steps forwards slowly. “I still think about you, you know.”
He reaches out his hand to touch your cheek and you freeze, not knowing what to do. And he realizes it too, as he grins bigger and his steps grow more confident.
Tears threaten to fall from the corner of your eyes, clouding your vision. You want to yell but every time you open your mouth you can’t find any voice coming out. You feel weak and disgusted with the way his calloused fingers touch you.
Suddenly a hand swats his arms away from you, and a figure stands in front of you. “Who the fuck are you?” You feel a huge rush of relief filling you as you realize the newcomer is Yoongi. His eyes glare at your stalker, looking ready to ambush him. Yoongi steps slowly closer to the man, his hands balled into fists. “I said, Who the fuck are you and what are you doing touching my woman with those filthy hands?”
But the man doesn’t answer, he just hisses and then runs from your sight.
Usually, as an agent, Yoongi will run after suspects and capture them. He would send the man to the police so that he’ll be processed by law and won’t bother you anymore. Usually he won’t stop until he’s sure that the man is in jail.
But he isn’t an agent right now.
He is just Min Yoongi.
He’s just a man whose heart aches when he sees your pale face before him. He’s just a man who doesn’t want to leave your side just so he can catch some criminals.
He’s just a man who immediately pulls you into his chest to hold you and let you know that you’re safe with him now.
“It’s okay now.” He strokes your back as your tears finally fall. “I’m sorry I left you alone. I’m sorry.” He repeats each sentence in a soothing tone, hoping they’ll turn into a spell that will stop your tears and your shaking body.
You sob in silence as his warmth envelops you. He holds you close to his heart and you can feel it calming you down. You gather all of your strength to open your mouth and to let out two words that you mean with all your heart. “Thank you.”
Your voice sounds weaker than ever, he notices. He cups your face gently, lifting it so he can see you clearly. Your crying has stopped, and he uses his thumb to brush the tears away. With every touch he makes, he wants you to forget what happened, he wants you to just look at him and only him.
“Can we go home now?” you ask softly; your voice cracks.
His eyebrows crease in worry. He pulls you into another hug, to brush his lips on the top of your head, so light that you don’t even notice it. “Of course, little bug. Let’s go home.”
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It’s not the first time you let Yoongi come into your studio apartment. He sometimes brings over some food, wanting you to eat with him when you have no energy left to eat out. He grumbled at first, surveying your small room, compared to his two-bedroom apartment. You didn’t want him to be uncomfortable, so you suggested that both of you should just go to his room, but he somehow made himself at home by jumping on your bed and reading any books you left on your nightstand. And you just can’t stop him. Not when he was trying his best to force you to eat some food.
But tonight is different. You’re emotionally drained and Yoongi noticed it too since you don’t have any energy left to protest. So he forces you to take a warm bath. As soon as the door shuts behind you, he looks for something to eat in your small kitchen , only to find that all you have are some packs of instant noodles. He doesn’t want you to eat such unhealthy food this late, but at least you’d eat something and it’s better than nothing.
“I’m fine, Yoongi.” you smile weakly, as you finish the broth 30 minutes later.
He pushes you over to the bed after eating. “I know, but I also know that you need plenty of rest.”
“I’ll be fat if I sleep after I eat,” you gripe, but still you snuggle into your bed, moving your body to find a comfortable position.
“I don’t mind. I’ll still accept you,” he says softly as he pulls your blanket to cover you up.
You look at him with a hope in your eyes as you reach your hand to hold his hand, “can you please stay with me? At least until I am asleep?”
Yoongi actually wasn’t on casual Friday. He had been on a mission, and he’s actually pretty tired. All he wanted was just some sleep and maybe some whiskey before that to take the edge off. But with your small hand wrapped in his, his heart thumps, and he doesn’t even care about anything except you. “Sure.”
And so he’s there, sitting on the floor, your lumpy second-hand orange area rug cutting into his legs, watching you as you fall asleep, watching as your breaths even out and your grip in his hand weakens. He carefully removes your hand from his and tucks it inside your blanket. He should close the curtains so your room is darker, but the way the moon shines brightly and accentuates every part of your face just makes him crazy for you. And knowing that bastard was there to touch your beautiful face only angers him even more.
He knows the man. It’s the same stalker who followed you a month ago in the store. It’s the one whom you described as an obsessive ex-boyfriend. But actually, he doesn’t feel like it. Yoongi thinks that the man is way more complicated than an ex-boyfriend who wants to get back together. Call it an instinct.
He needs to know more about it so he can protect you. It’s the only thing he wants: to keep you safe at all costs.
He knows that you’ve finally accepted his help for small things but at the same time he also notices that there’s still an invisible wall between the two of you, whether you know it or not. A wall that prevents him from helping you any further, a wall that conceals all of your problems away from others, keeping them for yourself. He knows that you do it because you are an independent woman, even though by doing so you’re worrisome, and he loves that trait in you. But he wants you to understand that it’s okay to ask help from people and he’ll be there when you need it.
He tucks your hair away from your peaceful face and sighs. If only you looked like this every time I see you. I don’t want anything anymore. He leans in and kisses your forehead softly, afraid of waking you up.
Maybe it’s just a matter of time until you finally fully open your heart to him. Maybe it’s just a matter of time when you can lean on him completely.
If only you’d let me
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rosaetae · 2 months ago
spellbound to be | two
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☇ “I don’t need to drink your blood to have my lips on your neck.”
[this is a part of tale of the purebloods] — prologue / one / two / three / four
➣  pairing: jungkook x reader
➣  genre: vampire!jungkook, fanatasy!au, soulmate!au, angst
➣  a/n: SURPRISE i know i’m late LMAO but lol part 2 is here and haha another surprise! there’s going to be more parts to stb! don’t kill me i know ur gonna hate waiting another 8 months for each part
➣ word count: 10.3k
➣  rating: pg-13
➣  synopsis: jeon jungkook is the cursed pureblood to have fallen in deep love with someone who was not his Complement. having to have fallen hard, he has to compensate with a life full of heartbreak and pain— one of which a burden weighs heavily on his shoulders. so much so, he hires a witch one day to reverse his inevitable Complement tie.
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Three nights have passed.
The first morning of your stay was peculiar, but adjustment never was a problem for you. However, you did find discomfort in waking up at 800 by two nymphs knocking on your door in unison, no lie that those knocks belonged to Cricket and Calla. They'd pause when you ignore it, your body jolting awake for a split second only to drift back to sleep, pulled by the lure of sweet nothingness— that is, right until they knock once more, a little louder and sharper that it causes you to shoot up alert and awake. It follows with a curse towards your mortal part of yourself for having that strong urge to fall back asleep after a night of slight shuteye.
If there was one thing you've learned about these immortal beings is that they never found waking up as a problem. Their bodies have exquisite circadian rhythms, and they'd wake up, eyes open and mind alive, without a struggle. You, however, did not inherit that perk from your mother and it's probably self evident with your dark circles.
You'd open the door and greet the beautiful nymphs with a tired "good morning" and a yawn, and they'd come right in respectfully to run you a bath.
The first day was very peculiar because the king was not present in the castle, though you didn't question it. Instead, you found yourself choosing to explore the castle once you dismissed Calla and Cricket to tend to other duties rather than catering to you, assuring them that'd you'd be fine with your own self fabricated tour.
The thought of searching for the severance lingered in your head, but you conclude that the search can wait a couple of hours in exchange that you marvel at the architecture of such grand beauty that you can never really indulge in due to your non-royal blood.
Selene followed along, sharing the same curiosity as you do as you make arbitrary turns. You find yourself staring at statues of jet black elegance that were sporadically placed here and there, adoring the golden accents of the premises. It had its own touch as did renaissance art in the mundane world had— details and details were precise and evident, allowing you to stare at them longer than you'd hope to, but with all masterpieces, you are entranced.
The king's servants who walks along the halls tending to their own duties don't mind you, not batting a single eyelash your way as you roam around with Selene. It makes you question why they have not acknowledged you or bothered to ask your intentions, but as long as they don't mind you, you don't mind them.
To be felt like a queen is an understatement.
Eventually, you found your way around in full circle from the east and west wing to the grand dark doors of the library. You pat yourself on the back for having to find your way around the castle by yourself despite your own mind being directionally challenged.
Alas, as the moment of self-celebration ends, you begin the real reason why you were a guest in the king's property from the beginning.
It began with a few books, unsure of where to begin at first before growing more interested into the topic of Complements in hand. You even dismissed Calla and Cricket when they came to direct you to supper, assuring them that you weren't hungry and you were too engrossed in research. You've grown so invigorated that you didn't realize it had began to grow dark, you having to snap your fingers for the candles on the table to light, flames of an orange hue bursting in a ripple effect that firstly started off on those on the table, to the floating candles above you, as well as the large chandelier held in the center of the room.
A dauntingly beautiful moment.
When the first yawn strung along, you realized, from the large golden analog clock just above the immense windows, that it was rather late that first night and decided it was time to sleep. It made you wonder why you haven't seen the king yet, but you shake it off, replacing with the wonder of why you assumed his trip would be an excursion in the first place. It didn't surprise you as much to find Selene already sleeping at the foot of your bed, snoozing away under the moonlight streak peeking from your window.
To say the least, you only got a few hours of sleep, only to restart the unfamiliar morning of waking up in a castle in expensive silk sheets with two ethereal beings knocking on your door to run you a morning bath.
That morning, you grew more concerned about King Jungkook, wondering why he hadn't informed you beforehand that he had a trip that was taking him rather long. You ate your apple and fig marmalade toast in thought, sitting next to Calla and Cricket who were enjoying their bowl of apple cinnamon oatmeal— one that reminds you of the mundane world and their instant oatmeal packets.
"Did King Jungkook ever say where he went off to?"
The question makes Calla and Cricket look up from their bowls respectfully and at the same time, both of them blinking at you blankly. The crunch of you biting into your toast adds more awkward tension, but it doesn't steer away from question.
"Our king tends to do that," Cricket speaks up first.
"He goes off on journeys without a word—"
"And we are never told if and when he comes back—"
"It's sporadic, but we never question it."
It was your turn to stare at them blankly. "Isn't that... worrisome?"
"Yes," they say in unison, blinking at the same time as well.
"But we trust him—"
"He finds a way to come back—"
"No matter how far—"
"Or how long."
I nod, taking in their voices from both sides of my ears. "Have there been times when he's been gone for too long?"
They nod at the same time.
"But he knows he has a kingdom to serve," Cricket says.
"He doesn't forget his duties."
"He has never betrayed us—"
"And we will never betray him."
And so, that night, you somehow managed to fall asleep while reading about a witch's journal entry about her Complement tie. It must have been maybe 20 minutes you were out cold because you are jolted awake by a feeling— one of which is similar to a gust of wind blowing on your neck, despite your hair flowing over your shoulders and the book you used as a pillow.
It is no doubt that the feeling was a harbinger of a presence just beneath the shadows of the library.
Sitting up, you blink multiple times before rubbing your eyes and speaking. "Do you usually lurk in the shadows?"
As your shoulders relax, you hear the rhythm of slow footsteps stepping out of the ebony abyss and into the dim candle lights of where you see the face of someone you thought you almost missed.
"It's what I do best," the king jokes, causing a tired, but amused scoff to past your lips.
Hearing his voice gives you a sense of reassurance as you flip close the book you managed to have napped on— a witch's take on the Complement tie, her journal being filled with endless complaints, yet hopeless love letters to her Complement. You recall starting to drift off to sleep during one of her many daily rants about feeling tied down. "You should head to your chambers now. I'm sure you haven't been able to sleep since the beginning of your stay."
"No, no, I have," you deny with not much depth, but King Jungkook raises an eyebrow, looking past your lie. And ironically, you lift your arms over your head by instinct to stretch, a yawn stretching along your face before you could even catch yourself.
Shaking his head, he lowly chuckles. "You're dreadful at that."
"Excuse me?"
"Lying," he quips before you raise an eyebrow, slouching. "While usually I don't condone straight dishonesty, I'll let this one time pass. I'll find Calla or Cricket to bring you some chamomile tea to your chambers to help you sleep tonight."
"Your grace—"
"Jungkook," the figure corrects you as you raise an eyebrow. "No need for formalities. You should head to bed. I've been told you have been staying up here at unreasonable times."
You scoff, trying to disguise your lie. "Have not."
"Again," he sighs. "Dreadful at that. Now, if you would please go to bed—"
"I haven't seen you in the past few days and the first thing you ask of me is to go to bed?" You sarcastically challenge, arching an eyebrow at him. He does the same, wondering if you were actually that affected by his absence, your apparent sarcasm not shining through. "Not curious at all about what I have found?"
There's a curl on his lips. "You're a guest first before a witch I asked a favor from. I will not be able to get any shuteye if my own guests cannot even rest throughout the night; I will ask about your findings tomorrow."
You pause right before you press your lips together. "Aren't I your only guest in this castle?"
The riposte is quick to make anyone irritated, but by how his lips curl, he was somewhat amused at your quick-minded wit. He straightens his shoulders back for a long enough moment to admire him from your distance.
"Head to your chambers and get ready for bed. I will not repeat myself again," there is authority in his voice— one deriving from a true king, but the way he says it with a grin shows his comfort in demanding such order to you. "Go, while I have someone bring you tea."
"Your grace," you sang for his attention intentionally to tease. He peers at you for a mere moment, obviously annoyed before you give him a genuine, yet tired smile. "How was your trip?"
His face morphs from irritation to confusion to the softening of his features, taken aback by your question. Almost as if he has never been asked that before. He blinks awkwardly, conjuring up an answer that would match the level of authenticity your question emanated, but keeping it as confidential as he could. "Just fine. Why do you ask?"
You shrug. "I can't be a little bit curious about your life?" The tired smile grows on your face as you get up, rippling your fingers with a turn of your wrist to put out the candles in front of you, the only form of light shedding in the room being the candle chandelier hanging on top of the ceiling. "Welcome home."
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There was nothing more frustrating than reaching a dead end.
Complement this, Complement that— but there was no trail leading you closer to a severance.
When you think you're close to finding one when the narrator of some sort of work or piece or journal you're currently skimming through talks about how they do not want a Complement, it always results into the same outcome— they fall in love with their Complement whether they like it or not.
The only thing ever close to finding out how to cut such a tie was from the book your mother cursed.
And while this may be the start of your second week in the castle and reaching yet another dead end, you never realized how much you wanted Complements to not work out all for the sole reason of this quest until now.
Ultimately, you have reached a level of frustration that abruptly, you get up and wander off into the endless aisles and shelves of books and collections galore after spending hours to no end trying to find one thing worth noting. It was rather annoying that it had led to the same thing over and over again, causing you to wonder if a Complement tie held a power so strong here in the Upper World that not even a severance was thought of.
Not like you were in a rush to find out, but it seemed from the countless works you ingested, there was seemingly no way of getting out of the Complement tie.
It's forged into a person's life through and through.
Stumped, you walk into one of the aisles that you recall roaming through for more research, but you spontaneously stumble upon a collection of Edgar Allen Poe poems in vintage binding. Mused by the featuring mundane artists, you grab the composition and open the book to examine it, the hardcover embroidered in gold and dark green was enough to make you be careful not to ruin the spine. As you flip through pages, you notice from your peripheral that something had fallen out of the book.
With knitted eyebrows, you kneel down to pick up the item that slipped away from the book, you growing curious as to what could have been put into the book for safe-keeping. Perhaps a bookmark, nothing too special.
However, that wasn't the case when you pick up the item; a sketch. In finely shaded lines and strokes of what you think could be charcoal remains a sketch of a beautiful young woman staring at you with solemn eyes. Her hair was long enough that it didn't end at the bottom of the page, and she had a smile so small, so petite. She wore a high-collar dress, it seemed— the ruffle reaching just below her chin and the sleeves puffing at the point of her shoulders.
You only stare at the sketch for nearly a moment, digesting every feature of this mystery woman who slipped out of the page of where "Romance" by Edgar Allen Poe remains inked along the following open page. Examining the portrait further, you turn it over, wondering what else you could find out about her, the mysterious beauty. And like so, you find writing in the most elegant handwriting, one that you could most likely not decipher, but you try to read in attempt.
My precious Dawn,
It is another day that I miss you terribly. If only the Nokris allowed us to see each other once more, I would be the most ebullient man alive. I only hold this sketch of you to keep me sane until our next encounter.
I think of you, I dream of you. You consumed all of my thoughts, and now I only count the hours, the minutes, the seconds, until I could see your costly form.
I miss you, dreadfully.
And terribly enough, I love you the most.
Until we meet again, Jungkook
Eyes widening at the name signed at the bottom of the paper, you could only fit the pieces together as so, recalling the name of Dawn by which the name flew out of the nymph's tongue in the litany of important people Jungkook had lost. Flipping the paper over again, you stare at the promising sketch, tagging a name to the beauty with the somber eyes and petite smile.
No doubt that he drew it, and no doubt that he drew it with the same amount of love he had for her.
Before you could gather your thoughts together, you felt your hair rise, a presence only you know who had the possibility of having such effect on you nearing. In a frenzy, you place the sketch back into the spine, shutting the book closed and returning it to where you found it as if you never pulled the book out in the first place.
Your name echoes throughout the room, you rushing over to the end of the aisle to peek your head out from it, your eyes laying on Jungkook's form who wears colours of purple and black today. It makes him look more noticeably pale than usual.
"Hi," you meekly called out, his eyes meeting yours as you shoot him a wave, walking towards back to your table, hoping you didn't look suspicious walking out of the aisles empty handed.
He watches you trail back to your work station of where books were stacked, papers were spread, and pages were marked. Sitting down in your seat, you let out a sigh as you look up at Jungkook, him walking over to the other side of the table to stand in front of you. "Anything?"
Letting out another sigh, you slouch into your seat. "Not really. Unless you want to hear about Cordelia Maine's Complement— a werewolf with mother issues... who would have known?"
The amusement in your voice causes Jungkook to slightly laugh, the sonorous sound creating heaven swirls in the air. "Cordelia Maine is completely ruthless with her way of words and has no fear in talking about anyone rather coldly," Jungkook smirks, almost as if he had known her personally. "Especially her Complement. Is that all you found?"
"Other than the recap of the history of Complements, then yes."
Jungkook lets out a heavy sigh, as if that was something he didn't want to hear, right before he nods. "Go rest."
"What?" You laugh, glancing out at the window in which the sun peaks through the grand glass. "It's 2 in the afternoon."
"You're not finding anything valuable here, I'm afraid. I will take you somewhere where you might," Jungkook announces. It causes you to raise an eyebrow in such curiosity. It reminds you that you have been confined within the areas of the king's hold, and that the outside world does perhaps exist. "We leave at dusk."
"Leave? To where, exactly?"
You blink, remembering hearing of Sagewood, the nocturnal kingdom, alive and at its peak at night. Hearing stories about the faes that dance all night long, the vampires with the palest of all skins that even glow under the moonlight, the witches with the darkest of magic performing under the powerful guise of the lunar moon— these were people of the same likeness of you and King Jungkook, but they remain solitary in Sagewood, unable to leave— not like they would like to, anyways.
Jungkook acknowledges your pause, staring at how you roam your sight over the large amount of research you have taken in over a span of a week. He taps his knuckle on the table, grabbing your attention.
As you flicker your eyes up to him, he gives you a comforting smile.
"Rest. I will let you know of our departure."
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The brief pause to your research inside the castle's library led you to your chambers, knowing very well that Jungkook's command of "resting up" was highly unlikely. As you open the door to your chambers, you were surprised to find the colorful nymphs, Calla and Cricket in the room, harmlessly changing your sheets that were previously a dark plum in replacement to a crimson red hue.
"Calla, Cricket," you acknowledge their presence kindly as they both pause their movements to bow. You give them an encouraging nod, waving a hand towards them in hopes they'd continue as you shut the door behind you. "No, please, continue. I'm taking a break from all the research."
They continue their job effortlessly, Cricket changing the duvet, Calla changing the pillowcases. "Is it imploding your mind?" Cricket asks, her dark blue lips curling into a smirk.
"I would say yes, but I have not been very successful with finding anything worthy," you answer, earning a chuckle from the nymphs as you wander to sit on the mahogany chair just right next to the window, watching the nymphs spread the sheet in a swift manner, smoothing out any wrinkles easily. Chewing on the inside of your cheek, you mindlessly hug your robe around your body. "Cricket, Calla."
"Yes, m'lady?" They say in harmonious unison.
"You've mentioned before that Jungkook has lost important people in his life."
"That is true," Calla answers knowingly.
Pursing your lips, you clutch onto the hemming of your robe for a mere moment before asking, "who was Dawn?"
For you, there is a tinge of embarrassment on your part. It is, really, not any of your business, but your recent discovery has made you more curious than a feline.
Calla is the first to react as she lowers the pillow that was in a fresh new scarlet case in hand, glancing at Cricket who stands at the foot of the bed on the mirroring side. They share a look, one of the same expression of nothing, before Cricket sighs and speaks first. "Dawn.... Well, she was our king's very beloved—" Cricket turns over to look at you. "They fell in love rather young centuries ago when he found out that the Faes, specifically the Nokris, have picked up a human child into the Upper World."
Calla places the pillowcase at the head of the bed, smoothing her hand over it a couple of times to straighten out the wrinkles. "They loved each other so much that Dawn wanted to spend the rest of eternity with him. Of course, Jungkook could easily provide that for her."
"So one day, he did. On their anniversary," Cricket continues. "However, she failed to tell him that as a child, poor Dawn was diagnosed with a heart disease so early on in her life."
"It was her mortal parents who were desperate to find a cure that they traveled through time and space to consult with Ravena, our ambassador, in search of finding a cure."
"Ravena led them to the Faes, where they took her in and enchanted her so she could live longer— only in the expense that she is raised in the Upper World."
"By our king turning her out of love and hope, the Fae's enchantment caused a reverse reaction in Dawn."
"And her beating heart came to a full stop."
"Her blood became poison—"
"Her lungs decayed—"
"Her heart turned into ash—"
"And King Jungkook tragically watched the love of his life die in his arms."
Face contorting into an expression unreadable, you feel a heavy feeling on your chest as Calla and Cricket both share sympathetic looks as they finish each other's sentences in a sorrowful mantra only before continuing again.
"Ever since then, word rang across the kingdom."
"Like wildfire."
"People believe that's why he is called the Cursed Pureblood out of his honorable brothers. That, and the series of unfortunate events that followed after."
"He has a heart of gold— our king," Cricket defends, her eyebrows creating a look of pity. "Don't mistake his past for who he is as a person. He blames himself to this day for her death, blaming himself to no end that he murdered his lover."
The tragedy makes your heart ache, as if you could feel the immense pain that Jungkook had felt, though it is not equivalent— beyond compare. It felt torturous, having to be in love with such a promising person, wanting to give that eternity to someone who wanted to be with you more than anything, only to have them disappear in your arms. You, too, would have blamed yourself to no end for murdering your own lover.
Head full of thoughts, it takes you a minute to realize that Calla and Cricket had finished their task, looking at you with respectful smiles and bowing before exiting your room of where you were left with your thoughts and a snoozing Selene in her own mini bed in the corner of the room as your chamber door was shut to a close.
Maybe that's why Jungkook wanted to cut the tie so badly— he hates being attached to someone he has lost, hates being attached to someone who paints his hands red, hates being attached to someone who reminds him everyday of his wrongdoing.
You wonder why you never asked in the first place why he was so devoted into finding a severance in his Complement tie, but you no longer need to.
It made sense to you now that he no longer wanted to be attached to a constant reminder of a heartbreak.
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It took two trips to reach to your destination in Sagewood.
When the sun had disappeared entirely, Jungkook had knocked on your door a couple of times to find you in your jade gown covered with your ebony hood. He led you outside of the castle to the stables of where he opens the gate to let out a forest green steed with bright lilac eyes out, his friendly accomplice being named Yeba. Jungkook noticed that you couldn't help but reach out to touch its mane, the living beauty neighing softly. He watches you gape at his steed in awe, forgetting that you had grown up in the mundane world of where horses certainly did not look like his.
He warns you before he helps you onto the back of Yeba that the trip to reach the border of Sagewood is usually an hour, but given that she was not just any horse, Yeba would take you both there in 10 minutes. Interestingly enough, you don't protest about riding on the same horse as him, but he does notice how your eyes widen in the dark when you are told of this announcement.
However, with ambition, you then go ahead and take his hand, climbing on the marvelous creature and wrapping your arms around his waist.
He doesn't think much of the proximity between you two as he notices that when Yeba starts galloping, you immediately had tightened your arms around him so tight that it would've constricted his breathing— this is, if he actually could breathe.
Jungkook discerns during that 10 minutes of wind passing through your hair and the sound of Yeba's hooves that you were in fact, holding onto dear life out of fright. Oddly enough, it amuses him, for he knows he will not ever allow an incident like that to occur. Even when Yeba comes to a halt, you do not loosen or let go, and he takes a mental note of your arms trembling around his torso.
Surely, you weren't aware that you both had made it to the border, seeing that you were still clinging and trembling against him. He chuckles lightly to himself, resting a hand over your quivering one that gripped your other forearm, hoping that would bring some sort of serenity to you, and a sense of awareness.
"We've arrived at the border," Jungkook informs lowly. However, when he sees that you have not reacted, both to his hand over your hand and to his announcement that you both had made it to Sagewood in one piece, he only lets out a sigh. Thoughtfully, he soothingly rubs his hand on top of yours. "___. We're here. You can let go now."
Immediately, as if his touch became electric shock, you retract every fiber of yourself from the king, gulping as you regain your composure. Jungkook ignores the warmth that had gone from underneath his hands as he makes one assertive nod, swinging his foot over to gracefully land onto the ground. And before you could do the same, Jungkook was already reaching up to grab your waist the minute you swing your leg over, helping you get off Yeba as easily as he did.
He shakes off your gratitude with a n easy nod before he looks over his shoulder, eyes searching for the one person who knew of his arrival and completely ignoring your frazzled mind and heart at the entire trip and interaction with him.
That was as close to the king you'd ever get.
The man at the border was a blind ghost named Tolazar. He remains as the middleman between Sagewood and Frawen, always having a deadman transport ready for the other party. Tolazar is someone Jungkook trusts, always leaving him to watch over Yeba for every trip he makes to Sagewood as well as providing the same deadman transport right on the other side, and when he spots him, they exchange a few words before sharing acknowledging nods.
Jungkook then leads you past Tolazar to a horse and buggy, a man with eyes as white as an eggshell with not a single pupil in sight sitting at the front of the buggy, ready to begin the excursion as Jungkook helps you into the elongated back, almost identical to the back trunk of a truck. You sit comfortably next to a stack of boxes, already coming to the conclusion that Sagewood was no place for you nor Jungkook by the utter power that emanates within the grounds.
He takes a seat next to you, his arm resting on a box right before you both took off in a much more slower and calmer pace compared to Yeba's speed that had you clinging for dear life.
"Not too long now," Jungkook says beside you quietly, glad that your heart rate was slowing down compared to minutes ago where it was in a rapid frenzy.
"Can I ask you something?"
The burst of such question makes Jungkook oddly amused at the fact that that was your first word the whole night. He stares at you, finding it peculiar at how you were staring down at your knees pressed against your chest. He notices that your eyelashes are long as you peer down.
"So long it does not make me want to chop my head off answering, proceed."
Hesitance was evident, but the question comes out one way or the other. "Who was Dawn?"
Despite your better judgement, you wanted to keep your knowledge about her hidden, but your curiosity got the best of you— you wanted to know who was Dawn to him.
And Jungkook thought it to be a rather blunt question, one that admittedly threw him off, but there was no way of hiding her, nor kicking around the bush of who she was. Surely, he assumed that Calla and Cricket must have let the name slip— after all, her name was the reason why he is known as the infamous Cursed Pureblood roaming the Upper World.
His silence, he thought, must have made you nervous, or made you want to retract quickly, like a hermit crab taking one breath of air and cowering back into its shell. "I'm sorry if I said something wrong—"
"No," he begins, propping his elbow in a position where he could rest his head on his hand. "I don't mind the question."
It's odd.
He doesn't feel the need to hide her name or her presence or who she is to him when her name, to him, has and will always be sacred. Yet, here is King Jungkook, Cursed Pureblood, making no protest on explaining the significance of Dawn to you, someone he barely knows, but feels like he's known forever. It takes him a moment to recollect his thoughts, the sound of horse hooves and the carriage moving along a bumpy route filling his ears.
That is, until he looks up at you.
There's a serene and worrisome look of a sort spread across your face. Your eyebrows knitted together in concern that you might have triggered something, but eyes as innocent and thoughtful as if it were a bunny in a bush— harmless.
He relaxes.
"Surely," he begins, slowly. It causes your ears to perk up, "you've heard about the Cursed Pureblood."
"Heard," you murmur. "But paid no mind to it."
"Despite its prevalence?"
"Maybe in the Upper World. I was raised in the mundane world," you remind him before you glance up for a moment. Usually, you're very witty, always having something to say, and here you are, being careful as a hawk, walking on egg shells, desperate to know more.
"The Pureblood made the mistake of falling in love with a human," he began— a beginning already being so foolish as the words roll off his tongue. "So much so, he promised her eternal life so they can be together forever. So like every vampire in love, he recklessly turned her, ignoring all the stakes and consequences that love already has blinded him to.
"One too many laws of the Upper World were broken by the Pureblood, driven by madness and love. He thought that love could conquer all and that if he had that one human by his side forever, eternal happiness can be achieved."
Jungkook could laugh dryly, could cry remorsefully, could scream carelessly. Never has he been able to summarize a tragedy of his own life so easily, especially to a stranger like you. Heavens, he didn't know how he even began explaining and spilling such a story to you, and yet, here you both are.
Sitting on the back of a horse and buggy truck surrounded by boxes, nothing but the peculiar moonlight shining light on both of you, and this is when he feels vulnerable enough to tell you a tragedy he kept closed from for years?
The peculiarity is invigorating, he keeps digging himself a deeper hole.
"What he didn't expect was that by turning her, he killed her," he lets out, flinching as he says the last bit. "Ever since then, everyone believed that the entirety of his life is cursed."
"How so?"
It was rather simple, he thought. "Inability to be loved."
He notices you furrow your eyebrows.
"Killed his own lover, was never his father's favorite, mother passed away, best friend gone in the expense of him," he explains, shrugging. "I'm only cursed to be incapable of love."
Jungkook notices that, after a moment of where he realizes he had exposed a vulnerable side of him to you, you had let out a snort. Immediately, he raises an eyebrow at you, as you try to stifle back a laugh, using your hand to cover your peeking smile.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to laugh. It's oddly similar to the story of the Lonely King."
"Lonely King?" He scoffs, seeing that the mood has been enlightened a bit. "Is that what it's been molded into?"
"It's oddly similar," you smirk, before you sit up to prepare the start of a summary. "It was a tale that mortals would tell their children. The king fell in love with someone, only for her to die in his arms. After that, his parents passed, his only best friend passed— he had a whole kingdom behind him but he was lonely in his castle. Unlike your story, this one had a happy ending."
"How so?" Jungkook asks, arching an eyebrow
"Well," you shrug. "The king found love again. Long story short, he got married, gained his followers' trust back, had kids, and he was no longer the Lonely King anymore. The end."
"That's it?"
You nod, thinking that it would be more, but the happy ending was enough to suffice an audience.
"The mundane world is so naïve," he comments as you laugh in response.
"No, you're just cynical."
"You believe that nonsense? Happy endings? Fairytales?"
"It's not nonsense, your grace," you tell him, a small smile growing on your face as you were discreetly optimistic. "Happy endings can happen to anyone. Even in the Upper World."
"Not in this story."
"This story is yours," you smile, hopeful. "Besides. My mother wasn't the type to think big of happy endings, either. She eventually got hers."
You roll your eyes, ignoring how Jungkook is amused by your reaction to his dark response. "No. Surely, you're aware— she was fully immortal, she could have spent her whole life not worrying about dying. And then she met my father one day on a trip into the mundane world. And weirdly enough, they were Complements. Interesting, isn't it? The mundane world has no knowledge about Complement ties and they simply fall in love with whoever. Luckily, my father fell in love with my mom. They were so in love, my mother wanted to be with him for eternity, too.
"Unfortunately, there's no real spell to be immortal," you smile sadly. "So in order to be with my father, she sacrificed her infinite youth. One day, my mom curated a spell to reverse her immortality in order to age with my father. To grow old with him. They lived long enough to spend a life together, had me, raised me in the mundane world. My father passed away first and then my mother five years later. Though short-lived, that was my mother's happy ending."
"She didn't even die with him."
"No, but she lived with him," you nudge him, trying to have him see the world with the glass half full. "Happiness comes in different shapes and forms, your grace. She was able to experience it with him, and maybe one day, you will, too."
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There was a period of time on the trip to the destination when it was just silence.
It was agonizing, yet indulgent. The silence was murderous to you, but the sound of your heartbeat and breathing next to him made Jungkook indifferent to the current situation. He was more focused on how you were mesmerized by your very own surroundings, given by your doe and curious eyes twinkling under the moonlight as you make head turns in every direction.
He forgets that you had grown up in the mundane world where Sagewood would only ever be told in fairytales or myths.
Specks of violet undertone lights were illuminating the forest of where the trail leads, an indication that you both were nearing the destination. Wordlessly, Jungkook takes note of how the light bounces off your delicate skin easily. Oddly enough, it makes his stomach churn.
After all, Sagewood emanates a very powerful energy— especially at night that you can even feel it in your bones. It holds a different power, one too dangerous when in the wrong hands.
When the carriage stops, your sight of tall elongated trees with flaming orbs floating within the sky is directed to the final destination of a large mushroom hut, dimly illuminated within the inside. Jungkook notices you're still silent, propping himself up with the help of the boxes to stand, reaching a hand out towards you. "We're here."
He leads you off the buggy with a helping hand, you taking it gratefully until you're both on solid ground, walking into the mushroom structure— a place that Jungkook is no stranger to. It's usually vacant at this time, a lot of Sagewood citizens unaware of such place that holds tremendous knowledge. You both walk the path of speckles of cobblestones and moss, stepping up on the few steps to the asymmetrical wooden door, Jungkook gripping the black handle and turning it open and pushing it.
There's a bell and a creak, and Jungkook takes the first step inside, you following after. You had to blink a couple times to grow familiar to the place that seemed so small and cramped from the outside that ended up being gigantic in the inside.
Floating shelves of books and glass displays of artifacts had decorated the inside in an organized chaos, everything and anything set everywhere and anywhere.
"If it isn't the Frawen king," a voice announces and you whip around to see where the origin of the voice is in such a fast motion only to find a man peeking from a table just a few feet away, arising and adjusting his tiny circle glasses.
"Hello," you greet him, giving a single head bow, and he raises an eyebrow at your appearance. As you open your mouth to speak, a gust of wind flies over your shoulder, a bird, realizing it's an owl once it lands on the man's shoulder.
"And Circe's daughter," the owl coos. "I am Glassius."
"And I," the rather tall man with tiny circle glasses sitting comfortably on his nose raises his finger. "—am Bibitz."
You smile kindly at them. "My name is ___."
"We've expected your arrival," Bibitz speaks. "What brings you to the crown of Sagewood?"
"Everything you obtain about the Complement ties," Jungkook answers with authority. "And to sever it."
"Interesting," Glassius bellows before cocking its gray feathered head to the side. "Come, come. Bibitz and I will show you our collections."
As they turn to lead you the way, you take a curious note of Jungkook rolling his neck, his body seemingly tense. Hesitating to take a step forward towards the two strangers, you look up at him, giving him a slight nudge with your elbow. "Are you alright? Is something bothering you?"
"Nothing," he responds, coolly. "You can go ahead. I'll just wait outside."
And before you could agree in acknowledgement, he's already disappearing out the exit, you furrowing your eyebrows for a moment in concern for him before you follow the owl and the librarian into the ever so curves of the abode's library floating shelves.
"You're a strong entity, aren't you?" Bibitz blurts, but it sounded more like an obvious observation on their end— you more oblivious from his statement, if anything.
"I'm sorry?" You ask behind them, peering at the back of their heads.
"She is the direct bloodline of Circe," Glassius coos in an obvious riposte. "A hybrid, specifically."
Eyes widening, you stop in your tracks when you hear the one thing your mother engraved in your mind to keep as a secret, for your own life hangs on a thread.
"No worries, your secret is safe with us," Glassius immediately states, causing you to hesitantly step forward to keep up with their pace once more. "Besides, no one would believe us if we were to tell the world there was a hybrid living among us."
"You emanate tremendous power, young hybrid," Bibitz calls, seemingly intrigued by your presence. "Not only are you the daughter of the goddess witch, you are apart of the mortal ground. I feel that something is hindering you from reaching your full potential."
"My full potential?"
"The minute you stepped foot on the lands of Sagewood, the energy shifted. It only ever shifts when Circe enters our parts, but with her passing, we were wondering what source of power could it be," Bibitz explains. "And the minute you stepped foot onto our property, we knew one thing: you were the reason the energy shifted— you obtain such strong energy, young one, no wonder Circe kept your identity a secret."
Glassius turns to you. "There is a reason why hybrids are illegal in the Upper World. They are peculiarly given overbearing strength as they interconnect with the Upper World and the mortal world. You, however, are an exquisite reason— probably the worst there is."
"A vessel of power," Bibitz states. His words have somehow created goosebumps along your skin. "The Counsel has yet to meet you, but once they find out your capability, you will have their almighties at your feet."
You are unsure of what to say, mostly because it sounded like responsibilities that you weren't capable of, and a whole lot of mumbo-jumbo, but there is a part of it where you are intrigued. Mesmerized, even. Surely, however, you aren't naïve enough to believe them, no matter if they are the crown of Sagewood, holding such knowledge of the Upper World that no one knows of.
It is then as you are processing their words of you being some sort of vessel that they had stopped in a small cubicle area surrounded by shelves of books and displays of what seemed to be strings.
In an instant, Glassius flies off of Bibitz shoulder, its gray feathers flopping in the air momentarily before it lands on top of a glass display, one that you didn't take notice of.
"This is probably the closest you'll get to severing a Complement tie," Glassius coos.
As Bibitz takes a step forward, he lets out a string of tsks before tapping on the glass display. "However, there is a slight problem."
Following their steps, you look attentively at the glass display and what it beholds, only to take notice of a closed book, one with a binding that is familiar in your eyes before it had burst into flames when you opened it.
"My mother has that book," you marvel, pointing at the same replica of a book that your mother managed to curse when you were searching for a severance. However, this book was different, because if you look carefully, majority of its old pages were ripped right out.
Glassius cocks its head to the side. "Your mother has a copy?"
"Yes," you nod. "However, the most vital information that I need, she cursed."
"She cursed it?"
"Bursted into flames when I opened it."
Glassius and Bibitz exchanged glances right before Glassius flies away from the glass display, your eyes arching at his sudden flee.
"He'll come back," Bibitz assures. "There is something that will help you."
And reassured, Glassius comes back with a small book in between its beak, tilting its head upwards in order for you to reach it.
"And this is?"
"An inverse spell book," Glassius states as you take it from its beak. "To reverse spells, including curses. There should be something fruitful in there to help reverse the curse your mother set on her book."
"You know my mother is Circe right?" You ask the most obvious rhetorical question known to the Upper World. "What if these spells don't reverse her curse?"
Bibitz coyly smiles. "You underestimate your own power. Even if those spells don't work, you have a mind of your own to reverse her curse somehow, don't you? Have you not conjured up your own makeshift spells before?"
"I guess, but—"
"Take what you can from it. We are positive that you will be able to concoct something in opposition to your mother's power, as you are the only one who holds such knowledge of her own strength. From us, however, we will give you all that we have in regards to your research."
Nodding, taking their word for as it is, you peer over to the book of where the pages are evidently ripped out of its binding.
"What happened to that book, may I ask?"
"That is the original copy by the author," Bibitz states. "There were only ever two copies in the entire Upper World, believing that your mother was lucky to get a hand on the other one, but unfortunate enough to curse it. The author, himself, went insane and ripped out the pages of his own original book and burned them."
"He regretted cutting his Complement tie," Glassius puts it bluntly. "I'm sure regret turned into rage and now we only have the cover of what is left."
"So you just have the copy, with majority of the pages ripped out?"
"It's the closest thing we have regarding knowledge of a severance. However, perhaps the closest thing isn't in Sagewood, but right under your nose," Bibitz smirks.
"Let that spell book help you," Glassius nods in some sort of vague agreement. "It will be your guide."
You let out a hesitant sigh, wondering why they believe you hold so much power, even more-so than your own mother. How are they so faithful that you will be able to reverse a curse your mother put on on purpose?
You roam in silent thought behind Glassius and Bibitz who lead you back to the main lobby of where the front door was. They don't speak a word either, and you're almost convinced they can read your mind.
That is, until they come to a stop.
"The Frawen king is seemingly ambitious to have come here to Sagewood."
You blink. "Why 'ambitious'?"
The librarian and owl exchange looks with each other shamelessly once again, before both simultaneously looking at you in silence. Raising an eyebrow, you egg them to continue and answer your question with a motion of your hand.
"Any vampires, including Purebloods like the Frawen king, who enter Sagewood will have their inhibitions are lowered."
"Inhibitions?" You laugh, eyes skimming through the pages. "Are they just drunken vampires in Sagewood?"
"Not... necessarily," the owl says.
"Their inhibition to quench their thirst, we mean," Bibitz clarifies.
"Oh," you speak, blinking obliviously. It takes you a moment, but with the realization that a lower-inhibited vampire next to a half mortal doesn't sound too safe. "Am I in danger if I linger for too long?"
"From us? No. However, the Frawen King may have some trouble trying to control his thirst. You both shouldn't be here for too long."
"These are everything that we have in our archives relating to the Complement," Bibitz states, handing you a bag of books that they had taken off from the shelves while you were too busy walking in your thoughts. "However, we advise to use the spell book to be your guidance. We will send out a messenger if we ever do find something worth your research."
"Wait, are you sure—"
"Name it as returning the favor to your king. He has helped us several times, it is only a matter of time we help him," the owl speaks and then the librarian goes, "here catch this." And with sudden reflex, you catch a juice box in your hands.
"What is this?"
"You'll need it," the owl speaks. "Now leave. The moon reaches its peak soon."
With no hesitation, you nod and give them a hurried farewell and appreciation before rushing over to a loitering Jungkook just outside the premises, his head angling up as he stares up at the moon.
"Glassius and Bibitz gave me some of their findings," you inform him as you walk over to him. He doesn't flinch at your sudden arrival, but he does raise an eyebrow seeing the bag of knowledge you carry with you. "We should head out."
Without any disagreement, he silently leads you to where the buggy stayed stationary. He offers his hand to help you onto the back, but you decide against accepting it in hopes to not provoke him under the Sagewood moon. Graciously, you shake your head and insist you can get up by yourself, doing so without hearing his protest.
As you take a seat, you decide to sit in a position of where your body faces his side profile, giving him enough space from you as possible. It was not because you were afraid, but you felt bad having him suppress his hunger the more you lingered near him.
A predator who cannot eat his prey.
Jungkook notices your change of seating, but nevertheless sits where he sat the first time, arm propping onto the box as he seems to lean more away from you.
The transportation goes on its way, your bodies lurching forward until the buggy goes a certain comfortable pace. For a few minutes, it's agonizing silence. Jungkook doesn't face towards you and instead keeps his eyes open to the luminescent woods surrounding you both.
You don't think of saying a word until you notice him flinch, his fist clenching on top of the box as his body turns away from you.
"Your grace," you bring his attention towards you momentarily, however he doesn't turn to face you, but you knew he was listening. Your fingers tap at your knee as you carefully tread the waters. "How are you feeling?"
"Just fine," he lies. Rolling your eyes, you set the bag that laid on your lap next to you, deciding to move closer towards him. He senses this, causing him to tense.
You pause, wanting so much to help him, but unsure how to approach it. You let out a sigh. "Have you ever had witch blood?"
"No," he states, his breath sounding strained. He peers over his shoulder for a moment, eyes widening slightly to see that you were indeed closer than he anticipated. You weren't close to him enough to where he could your breathing, but close enough to make our the sparkles in your eyes. "That would mean risking to get hexed."
Smiling at that, you edge on closer.
"You're free to drink mine," you softly offer and he looks at you, eyebrow raised as if you offered the most ridiculous thing to man. "I won't hex you."
The king lets out a scoff, not letting temptation engulf him that easily. "I am not drinking your blood, ___."
It was your turn to scoff. "Why not?" You inquire as you ever so innocently crane your neck to the side, letting hair strands fall from your shoulder, exposing skin to the open. You don't miss his eyes that glance at your neck before quickly averting them back to your eyes.
"While you were outside waiting, I was informed that Sagewood lowers your inhibitions. And because I am just so generous, I am offering my own neck because you, sir, need to drink," you say, sleepily tapping your neck. "Besides, I've always wanted to get bitten."
Jungkook is utterly appalled at your ambitious offer. An ambitious, tempting offer. "You shouldn't be saying that, ___."
"Go on," you egg him on, drumming your fingers along your neck. "I'm sure it'll taste great. Hybrid blood?"
"Not even a little bit?'
"Come on."
"No, ___," he stubbornly affirms as he looks ahead at the road trailing behind you both. There's a pause in the situation at hand, but you notice him clench his fist, his veins on his hand evident. Seeing that, you roll your eyes.
"Jungkook, you keep twitching. You want to. It's your instincts."
"___, I need you to stop tempting me."
Rolling your eyes at his stubbornness once more, you fully move your hair to one side of your neck, exposing bare flesh under the moonlight as you place a hand on Jungkook's forearm carefully. This causes him to tense up, inhaling sharply, but refusing to look at you.
"Listen to your body, Jungkook," you continue, daring to release your hand from his forearm to gently graze his cheek, moving his gaze over from the dirt road to meet yours. He stares at you with restrained eyes filled with hunger, but you can point out his inner turmoil easily.
Cautiously, you give him a reassuring nod before shifting your body in a way where your back faces him, closing your eyes in preparation if the moment ever decides to come— if he will ever decide to listen to his own needs for once.
"It's okay." There's a change in your voice. It's gentle and the most sincere. "I trust you."
And in an anticipatory moment, you feel an arm wrap around your waist, holding you steady. It allows your body to instinctively grow a billion goosebumps. Another hand holds the side of your head that tilts to the right, a fistful of your hair entangled between his fingers. Surely, your heart was beating out of your chest, but even Jungkook could sense that it did not derive from fear.
Unexpectedly, you feel the tip of his tongue leave a tiny damp trail, retracting it for a moment as his breathing cools the area, almost sending you taunting chills down your spine in aching suspense.
"You shouldn't," he whispers against your neck, very lowly in your ear.
"Give in, Jungkook," you coax with all the breath you could muster, but it comes out ragged and messy, if it weren't for the close proximity and elongating desire in the given moment making you yearn for him to get it over with.
At the peak of the build up, you feel him pull away and you suspect he would let you go entirely, the closeness and leaving a lick on your neck as a way to tease you, to make you scared, but Jungkook could sense that fright was entirely out the picture when you mindlessly bring your hand to cover his that holds your waist, your thumb rubbing circles in a way to encourage him— to finish what he began.
Admittedly, and he hates that he truthfully feels this way— captivated by your nurturing persona, one that cares and looks for others, a witch with no intention to harm, but to care. How could he, himself, take advantage of your generosity and your concern and stick his fangs into you? How could the whole point of this excursion is to distance from you, his Complement, yet it was so easy to throw it all away when he is this close to tasting you?
A pernicious moment such as this one leaves Jungkook at a cross roads and your heart to fasten, the sound of it pounding through Jungkook's head in torment because while he is so desperate and so exasperatingly close to burning all bridges, you have somehow— in some ineffable way— paved a passage towards yourself, his one and only Complement.
Frustration doesn't even come close to where he feels— he is more than irritated than anything that he may just be going down the path you've created. Vexation grows at an all time high as the smell of your blood and the sound of your heart enhances his every sense that in a blink of an eye, he tightens his grip around you, pulling you closer to his chest that you feel his heaves, the rise and falls. The sudden propinquity surprises you first that you weren't fully prepared to feel the instantaneous bite down your neck, a strangled groan rumbling from his throat.
At first, you're paralyzed everywhere, your eyes widening at the foreign feeling over your body before you completely succumb to it, closing your eyes and growing limp in his hold. In the mundane world, you remember your father watching movies that revolved around the inauspicious concepts of drug abuse, and this moment was exactly as described as one of the movie scenes you can recall— euphoric.
A complete out-of-body experience.
Jungkook holds you tightly, as if he was almost frightened of you leaving his grasp. A prey escaping a predator's hold. You take notice of this, squeezing your hand around the one that held you tightly at your waist that was sure to leave a bruise by how rigid he held you. It doesn't do any good, so you result into intertwining your fingers around his, letting him know that you're still alive. Doing this in turn led to an unexplainable, pleasurable trick set by Jungkook, one that catches your breath in a trap, and your body feeling as if it had been set on fire. And as if he knew your next move, he slaps a hand over your mouth the minute you release the anticipated moan.
He knew that if he had heard your sounds elicit into the midnight sky as clear as crystal, he would not be able to stop his doings— or rather, he would be afraid of taking more than what you offered.
The enthralling moment comes to a close before you realize it, the aftermath coming to a halt as Jungkook cleans up the excess blood dripping from your neck with his tongue as you tried so very hard to stifle a sound. His hand still covers your mouth, and in hindsight, the sound you released earlier as a reaction felt embarrassing, being why you are biting your tongue as hard you can. The minute he pulls back, your shoulders slump as you relax, the hand at your mouth retracting and dropping to your lap meekly, your fingers still holding his other.
Furrowed eyebrows, you look down at your lap when you see that his hand still holding yours was quivering. Immediately growing concerned, you adjust your hands to remain attached as you take the second to shift and face him, eyes desperately trying to search for his under the Sagewood moon.
"Jungkook," you speak in a careful tone, using your free hand to find his taciturn cheek. He is glancing away as if he had just murdered someone, as if he is scared he had killed you. "Jungkook? You're shaking."
You gently bring his cheek with both hands to have him look at you, his eyes wide and scared, as if a child experiencing the unexplainable. Eyebrows knitting together, you hush him, attempting your best to calm his nerves. "It's alright. You're fine, I'm fine. See?" You bring his shaking hand to your chest, over your heart that was still beating. "I'm okay."
"I'm okay," you repeat as he begins to dial down, noticing how his glassy eyes made him more vulnerable under the moon. "You were able to control yourself. You're okay."
It takes him a few minutes, but patiently, you wait until he lets out one more heavy sigh that allows him to regain his composure. He hasn't attained it fully, but it was enough to have him squeeze your hand in silent gratitude, one that makes you meekly smile.
Jungkook notices how you begin to turn your body again, him absentmindedly reaching to grab at your wrist before you pause and look at him with a small smile.
"I'm not going anywhere," you reassure him, only shifting your body slight so that you sat next to him in a comfortable position where your head rests on his shoulder. It soothes his nerves feeling you close to him, especially when you loop around his arm, assuring him more-so that you really aren't going anywhere.
His ears perk to the sound of you reaching over and rustling something in your bag a minute later before he furrows his eyebrows to see you pull out a juice box, confused at what you had in your hands.
"Glassius and Bibitz gave it to me," you explain. He couldn't help but laugh.
And in silence, he hears you sip it down after piercing a hole through the top, taking you a few minutes to down it, feeling his own heart calming to a regular pace as well as his breathing slowing. He's grown so used to the solace silence that he doesn't realize that you had fallen asleep on his shoulder, juice box still in hand.
He recalls when he had last made a visit to Glassius and Bibitz, a favor that they needed from him. And having those two be the the crown of Sagewood and the seers of the Upper World, it began to click to him of the last thing they had said to him: "The next time you will see us, we will repay you for your greatest deed in small gratitudes. Beginning with an apple."
He smirks at the thought, never realizing that this is what they meant. Admittedly, he is grateful that the apple juice was given to replenish the minerals he had taken from your body. He takes that moment to realize that your being, snoozing away on his shoulder, was present— a simple form of gratitude itself and he wonders what else Glassius and Bibitz will offer in the future.
As he glances down at you for a mere moment of time, he slowly and surely registers the mistake he has gotten himself into. Because while you had underwent an out-of-body experience, the taste of you was enough for him to get addicted and he remembers a similar feeling traveling his body when he had a taste of Dawn.
Jungkook, now, is not so sure if he wants to move forth with the search any longer.
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chimknj · 2 months ago
Welcome to the Dollhouse
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Banner made by @jin-fizz thank you so much for making it for me <3 
Pairing: Hoseok x Jungkook/Yoongi, Hoseok x Jin
Genre: Angst, Crime, Serial Killer
Word Count: 21k
Tags: Graphic Depictions of Violence, necrophilia, murder, assault, blood and violence, descriptions of surgery, delusions, kidnapping, drugging, spiral into madness, group sex, anal sex, oral sex, strangulation, suffocation, mentions of infidelity, toxic relationships, 
Summary: Hoseok always wanted friends he could keep around forever, and he found a way to make that happen. 
A/N: first, I’d like to thank @voiceswithoutlips​ for beta reading for me once again. It took us four hours, but I’m really happy with the work we did together. Thank you, love <3 
Second, this is the third part of my true crime series. If anyone has been wondering why I’m writing so much darkfic, lol, that’s why. 
Disclaimer: These works are completely fictitious and for entertainment purposes only. They are not meant to reflect or label the members of BTS in any way. The events within never took place. Thank you. 
written for #thebtswritersclub monthly project challenge. 
It started with Ella. A tall blonde with a tiny waist, she was fun-loving, adventurous, ambitious, friendly and kind. She first came onto the scene as a fashionista, glamorous and chic; she was ‘every girl’s best friend’. Hoseok fell in love the moment his mother handed her to him. She told him that he’s the first kid to own an Ella doll, and he never felt more special. He spent hours playing with Ella, even before his mother invented her playsets and friends. He made dozens of stories through her and her friends, living in a world so different from his own.
His mother and father worked often: his mother on her toy line, and his father on every woman he came in contact with. He grew up more or less on his own in their grand mansion in the hills. Ella filled in that loneliness; she became a constant companion. He did not care if other boys bullied him for carrying around a doll; he loved her. She was his best friend. Even when he grew older, he collected more Ella dolls, keeping each first edition in display cases around his house. He never wanted to be apart from her.
He honestly preferred the dolls over real people. Every weekend he and his boyfriend, Jin, went out to the hottest clubs or bars or to someone’s house party. They’d drink, socialize, and dance all night. They’d surrounded themselves with people just like them. Hoseok used to enjoy it, until one night, when he realized how much he hated these people. Hoseok hated these social-climbing, shallow, self-centered people. They only cared about The Next Big Thing, and who was dating who, and the latest scandals. They talked about trips to Fiji or Paris; how much money they made, or what new possession they owned. So superficial. So ignorant. Hoseok sometimes thought back to Ella and her friends, wishing his friends acted like them.
He sat in the VIP booth one night and imagined Ella in someone’s place, asking him about his newest project rather than if he and Jin are still on the rocks. He pictured her boyfriend, Adam, in Jin’s place, giving him a playful wink as they talked about having a ‘guys fishing trip’. Ella’s best friends Cecilia and Sabrina would be there too; Cecilia would be chattering away about her recent success in her chemistry lab; Sabrina would be telling them about a baby she delivered that afternoon. Interesting people with interesting lives. He’d gone home that night already thinking of how he could make Jin look like a doll.
What if he could make them like Ella and her friends?
‘No. That’s crazy. They’re people, not toys.’
‘Ah, but what if people could be toys?’ a voice said in the back of his head. ‘Imagine how much happier you can be with your very own life-size Ella and Friends set!’
Want to read the rest? Head over to AO3! 
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taeken-my-heart · 3 months ago
Revenant Finale
Summary: You’d always been told that when you died that you’d walk into the light towards Heaven. Only problem is, you died and the light never showed up. Now you’re attached to a handsome but grumpy and sleep deprived medical student and neither one of you knows what to do to get you to finally cross over.
Rating: PG15
Pairing: Namjoon x Reader
Genre: Fluff, angst, Ghost!au, MedicalStudent!Namjoon
Word Count: 6538
Warnings: Mentions of a seizure, though nothing is graphically described.
The majority of the next two weeks went by mostly uneventfully. You spent the larger part of your time split between watching Namjoon work at the hospital or in class. Sometimes, when your family could spare an hour, you’d spend time with them in your room; listening as they spoke to your comatose body.
Cora was often with your mom when she came to visit, touching everything in your room that interested her before coming back to stand at your bedside. On occasion, she’d stay in daycare and you’d get your mom to yourself. She told you about everything going on in the world and it was a bizarre mixture of comfort and anguish. Things were changing without you while you laid in that bed waiting to wake up. Time truly waited for no one. It was strange to think that one moment you were here and the next you were gone and the majority of the world wouldn’t change even a little because of it.
On this particular morning, your family had yet to come see you. You lounged on the couch across the room from where Namjoon was taking the vitals of your body and watched him work. You felt suddenly sleepy, like a dream was dragging you in and you felt your body clench tight before slumping over on the couch. The noise of the room, a blaring alarm, it all sunk into clouds of nothing.
Opening your eyes, the ceiling of your hospital room quickly came back into focus and you took a deep breath. For the first time in what felt like forever, you could feel something more than just gentle pressure. Your whole body felt like it had been tensed for hours; you were sore and out of breath and you watched zombie like as Namjoon quickly exited the room.
The room was filled with nurses, Dr. Bang standing over your body and you watched as everyone took a collective sigh of relief. What had happened? Why did everything feel so sore and where had Namjoon gone?
There was a tingle that spread through your whole body, similar to when your foot falls asleep and you winced, flexing your fingers as they stung. When the pain had subsided and you’d caught your breath, you stood from the chair to look for Namjoon. As you stepped into the hallway you suddenly found yourself standing in the disabled bathroom. Frowning, you looked down to find Namjoon huddled in the corner, face buried in his folded arms. His shoulders shook and you paused in surprise.
“Are you OK?” You asked softly.
Namjoon jumped, gaze darting up to you. His eyes were red rimmed and puffy and your heart ached for him. You went to sit beside him, wishing more than anything that you could wipe the tears from his face.
“I should be the one asking you that.” He groaned, wiping at his nose with the back of his hand. “I’m so sorry. I just- I don’t know why you’re attached to me, I don’t know how to help you.” His bottom lip quivered as he stared down at his shoes, tucked underneath him on the cold linoleum floor.
“I want so badly to help,” he continued, looking back at you, “I want to be able to make things better, but I don’t know what I’m doing and that…that was terrifying. I thought that I’d lost you.” He reached his hand forward to stroke against your cheek and for a moment you nearly jumped at the contact.
It felt so real, like you were actually sitting in front of him, two normal people, and you could feel everything as though you weren’t somewhere floating between life and death. It was euphoric.
He seemed to be having the same thoughts as he watched, transfixed, as his thumb stroked across your cheek and down towards your mouth. “We, I mean.” He whispered, “I thought we’d lost you.”
“What happened?” You asked and he looked at you in confusion.
“You don’t remember? You were staring right at me.” When you shook your head no, he continued. “You had a seizure. I called a code blue and everything just happened so fast. It looked like both your body and you were having a seizure. It was awful. I was so scared. I really don’t know how I’m supposed to help you.” He repeated.
“It’s ok.” You said softly, leaning into the contact of his hand on your face. You craved the affection, the way his thumb lit nerve endings across your face. It was electric; he was electric. “Just having someone who can see me…someone who knows I’m still around and is willing to fight to get me back. You have no idea how much that means to me.”
“I wish I could do more.” He bemoaned and you smiled. “I want to make it all better.”
“You’re going to make such an excellent doctor.” You sighed, reaching up to grab his hand. “I’m glad you’re taking care of me; I couldn’t ask for anyone better.”
Namjoon flushed, dropping his hand into his lap but you kept your fingers tangled with his, squeezing gently. You wondered if he could feel you as strongly as you could feel him. “Not even Hoseok?” He teased.
You could see the apprehension in his gaze as he asked it and you grinned, shaking your head. “Nope, not even Hoseok. Only you.”
You reached out to wipe the tears from his face, watching in amazement as they disappeared with the swipe of your fingers. You wondered what was going on with your body right now; why you were suddenly so present.
Standing, you motioned for Namjoon to stand up as well. He stood, going to splash some water on his face before grabbing a paper towel to dry off. “Let’s get you back to work.” You hummed, moving towards the door. “Somehow, things will all work out. Don’t you think?”
He moved towards you, staring down into your face, eyes still slightly red but dimples on display as he smiled. “They better.”
Around three in the afternoon, your family came. Cora was dressed in the cute yellow dress you remembered agonizing over. It was too expensive but you wanted her to have something that made her feel like a princess. In the end, your mom had paid for it and then it had taken 3 days to convince Cora to take it off after trying it on so you could wash it.
“We rushed over as soon as we were able.” Your mom said and you watched as her eyes filled with tears, “she had a seizure? What happened?”
“We’re not really sure at this point in time,” Dr. Bang started, “it’s not typical for someone to have a seizure this far along into their recovery. We’re doing more tests to make sure everything is functioning properly; with special attention to her brain. So far, though, she seems to have actually improved. Every test we’ve run has come back very positive. It’s extremely encouraging.”
Your mother flopped in the chair beside your bed, relief washing over her features and you watched as your brother Luke went to go squeeze her shoulder. Your dad and Ethan both stood with Dr. Bang as he gave more information, but your attention was captured by Cora as she attempted to climb on your bed.
You grinned as your mother fussed over her, pulling her back into her lap while Cora pouted. Normally, your daughter was fairly fussy with what she wanted. It seemed like you being here in this bed had subdued her somehow. You missed your feisty girl.
They spent the afternoon fussing over your hair, straightening your bedding and putting new, fluffed pillows under your head. You smiled at the attention, their love warming you from the inside out.
You couldn’t wait to give them all hugs again.
The apartment was quiet once more. Namjoon flipped on the lights in the hallway, illuminating it in low florescence as he slowly removed his shoes. He was weary this evening, you could almost see his thoughts racing through his mind as he leaned against the wall, kicking his final shoe into the shoe bin by the door.
He stood, sluggish, and moved towards the living room to sit on the couch. “I guess I broke a cardinal rule today.” He sighed. You came to sit beside him, brows furrowed in your confusion.
“What rules?”
“The unwritten one that says to not get too attached to your patients.” He looked over at you with a sad smile. You felt your chest clench but you weren’t sure if it was good or bad. Admitting to being attached sounded nice…but he said it like it was a bad thing. “I thought we were gonna lose you today and I felt like I was losing a piece of myself with you.” He admitted.
“Is that a bad thing?” You asked carefully.
His head dropped onto the back of the couch, staring up at the ceiling. “I guess it depends on how you choose to see it. It’s got its good and its bad. I can’t fall apart every time I lose someone as a doctor, and it’s bound to happen. I know it sounds callous to people on the outside, but you have to separate yourself from the tragedy somehow or it will chew you up and spit you out.”
“You haven’t lost me, though.” You pointed out softly and his answering smile was grim.
“But have I ever really had you?” You couldn’t say anything to that because the truth is, you didn’t really know the answer. “At first, we thought you were dead. Then we find out you’re actually in a coma, which could be good or bad depending on if you wake up. If you do wake up, will you even remember me? All this? We’re banking on a whole lot of what ifs.”
You paused, rubbing your lips together before finally releasing your thoughts. “You sound as though you’re thinking of something more beyond me just waking up and being with my family again.”
He looked over at you, eyes scanning the planes of your face before speaking. “Did I read things wrong?” He whispered. “I thought there was potential for something more…between us. I’m sorry.”
You shook your head. “No, you didn’t read it wrong.” You leaned your head against his shoulder, burrowing into his neck. You could smell his cologne, sharp and woodsy and you inhaled deeply. “But what about Eunae?”
Your head rose as he shrugged. “What about her?”
“Haven’t you been wanting to take her out? I mean, let’s be honest, I’m half way between alive and dead. I’m not exactly a catch right now. Even if I wake up…I have a daughter. Eunae doesn’t have baggage like me.”
Namjoon scoffed. “Everyone has baggage, Y/N. You wanna know my baggage? The real reason I haven’t asked Eunae out, I mean.”
You sat up fully, angling your body to face him and you nodded. “Lay it on me.”
He smiled before sighing. “Because I’m scared,” he said. “Not of Eunae or commitment but I’m scared of being left behind. My mom left my family when I was 7. Got home from school one day and all her stuff was just…gone. No note, no explanation. My mom was the happiest person in the world; if she was suffering in any way, you’d never know. I guess that’s what made it so easy for her to leave and have everyone reeling.”
“I’m so afraid that I could give my entire world to someone, like my dad did, and they could just take it all away from me. You build a beautiful life with someone, get married, have children, and then suddenly they’re just…gone. So, there you go. I’ve got mommy issues.” He laughed; short and humorless, twisting the ring on his finger in circles.
It would be a lie if you said you weren’t surprised, because you certainly were. Namjoon seemed so put together, like he had no problems in the world. It was a good reminder to not judge a book by its cover because you just never knew what was under the surface.
“I’ve got ex-boyfriend issues.” You finally said with a grin and he smiled. “It’s like you said, we’ve all got our baggage. Let’s not worry about things right now, we’ll face things as they come. First, though, I need to wake up.”
Namjoon chuckled, nodding. “Aren’t you hungry, by the way?” You asked and he looked down at his watch.
“Yeah, actually. I’m gonna order some take out. I’m feeling pizza.”
“If you put pineapples on it, I’ll judge you.”
Namjoon grimaced. “I’m not a monster."
Namjoon yawned loudly, stretched across the couch lethargically. Jin and Jimin had arrived shortly before the pizza and they’d brought company with them. Taehyung and Jungkook were as good looking as you remembered, Taehyung stretched like a cat across the carpet while Jungkook nursed his lukewarm beer.
It had been hours since the hospital; since the scare of the morning, and being with this group, though most didn’t know you were even there, made you feel like you’d been missing something all your life. Because of Tim (your ex,) you’d become rather isolated friend wise. There were a few work acquaintances and a couple friendly regulars at the bar, but it wasn’t the same as having a solid group of people to call your own.
You’d given up a lot of yourself to be with Tim and then in turn to be a mother. You wondered if being a part of a group like this was still attainable. Between work and spending time with Cora, having friends just seemed like an impossible dream. The first thing you needed to do when you woke up was to find a new job. You couldn’t keep going on acting like these sort of relationships weren’t important.
Namjoon yawned again, standing and stretching. “I gotta get to bed. I’ve got clinicals again tomorrow and I’m barely functioning as is.”
“Night!” Taehyung called from the floor, eyes blinking slowly up at him, looking more cat like and regal than before. Namjoon said his goodnights before looking over at you and inclining his head slightly towards the hallway. You moved from your spot in the living room and followed him down the hall towards his room. He shut the door after the two of you, clearing his throat and you watched him curiously.
“I was wondering,” He idled, scratching the back of his neck. “Would it be weird if I asked you to stay with me…in here? I know you don’t sleep right now but, it would make me feel better to have you closer. No pressure, of course! I was just wondering.”
His words tapered off in his embarrassment and you smiled. “Which side?” You asked.
He grinned, pointing to the right and you moved towards the mattress, sitting down and patting his side of the bed. “Come on then.” You hummed. He chuckled, cheeks pinker than before.
“I need to change and brush my teeth.”
“I’ll be here.” You nodded, moving to lay down against the bed.
He returned not long after, dressed in pajamas and smelling minty. He grabbed the covers that had been squished down towards the end of the mattress and pulled them up and over your shoulders. Burying himself the same, he stared over at you and you watched him pull the blankets to his chin.
“Thanks for humoring me.” He muttered softly.
“I’m not humoring you; I want to. It’s nice to be here with you, to feel normal again.”
He scooted a little closer, reaching his hand out carefully to touch your arm. You could feel it as though your body was really here, lying with him in this bed. So real, so intense.
“It’s like you’re really here.” He whispered, running the tips of his fingers gently down your arm and watching the goosebumps left in his wake. “Not in that hospital bed.” You shivered.
He tucked his chin into his chest, clearing his throat once again. “Uh…I like to cuddle at night, is…is that ok?”
You chuckled, nodding and his hand slid carefully around your waist, pulling you closer. You could feel the warmth of his chest through your fingertips and you tried not to let your emotions show.
“Goodnight.” You whispered.
His fingers dancing across your spine was his reply as he closed his eyes, drifting quickly to sleep.
It was still dark when the bird’s started chirping; happy and bright like they knew the sunrise was on its way. Namjoon’s alarm hadn’t gone yet, but his body had woken as though on instinct. His bed felt empty, the room absent as well and he sat up suddenly.
“Y/N?” He called, stepping from his bed and into his slippers. There was no reply and he opened the door to his room, moving down the hallway and into the living room. The empty beer bottles and pizza boxes from last night were still laying on the coffee table, but otherwise, the room was deserted.
Namjoon’s heart lurched uncomfortably in his chest. “Y/N?” He whispered. Still no answer.
Where were you? You’d been practically attached to his hip the last few weeks, but where were you now? What if you had died during the night? He hadn’t prepared himself for a situation like that and he felt suddenly nauseous. Rushing back to his room, he quickly showered before dressing and running from the apartment. He was in such a hurry he nearly left his bag.
The subway was even emptier this time of morning. He’d left earlier than normal, but fear was controlling his limbs right now and he could hardly sit still; knee bouncing loudly in the empty carriage.
What if he got there and you’d died? Been moved to the morgue? Bile rose in his throat and he closed his eyes, willing the thought away. He couldn’t handle this right now, he’d deal with it later if it came to it. Maybe you were just attached to your body in the hospital room now. Stranger things had happened, right? Seeing ghosts in the first place definitely fit that bill.
When the subway arrived at his station, he rushed from the train and up the stairs out into the morning. Birds were chirping louder now as the sun was starting to rise. Namjoon didn’t even stop to drop his things off in his locker, he walked as quickly as was acceptable to the room he knew was yours.
Rounding the corner, his body sagged with relief to see your body still laying in the bed. He moved closer slowly, watching your chest rise and fall and he thought he’d throw up all over again from the emotions rushing through him. Still, he didn’t see your ghost standing anywhere around and he ached to know what had happened; where you had gone. He moved closer still, standing over your bed and reaching out carefully to run his hand over your forehead.
His heart nearly dropped as your eyes fluttered open, darting around the room before settling on him. You smiled and he felt like his whole body was melting into the floor.
“You’re here.” You whispered.
“You remember?” He asked, eyes stinging.
You nodded. “Everything.”
Namjoon choked back a sob, the stinging behind his eyes leaving tracks down his cheeks as he bent forward, hugging you close. “I thought you’d died.”
“I’m sorry I scared you,” you said, running your fingers through his dark hair. His tears wet through to the skin of your shoulder. “I felt a tug, though, the sort you can’t ignore, and then I was back here in my body. I knew you’d come.”
He pulled back to look at you, smiling and you pulled his face down towards yours, kissing him softly. “Thank you for helping me.” You whispered against his mouth and he kissed you again before pulling away.
“I didn’t do anything.” He huffed, but you shook your head to dispute.
“You saw me. You have no idea how much I wanted to be seen.”
You hoped he knew what you really meant.
You had the feeling he did.
“Thank you for not hating me after I was so rude to you at first.” He smiled shyly.
You chuckled, running your fingers down his cheek. “Well, I was a trespassing ghost.” Namjoon’s stomach growled loudly and you looked down before back up at him. “Have you eaten?”
He flushed, shaking his head no. “I was so worried you’d died; I couldn’t think of anything else.”
You glanced up at the clock and then back at him. “There’s still an hour before your clinicals start. Go now and get some breakfast from the cafeteria.” He looked like he meant to refuse you and you smiled, kissing him once more. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here when you get back.”
He grumbled but stood, shaking his hair through with his fingers and nodded. “I’ll ask the doctor if I can call your family with the news. I really want to be the one to do it.”
“I want that too.” You grinned.
Once the sun had fully risen and you’d been fed, Dr. Bang entered the room, smiling bright. “We sure are happy to see you awake. You gave us a scare the other morning.”
You sent Namjoon a private smile before answering, “Yes, I heard thanks to Mr. Kim.”
“Namjoon will make an excellent Doctor someday.” Dr. Bang smiled, “you’ve been in very good hands.”
The next few minutes you spent with Dr. Bang as he explained your progress to you so far and Namjoon stepped out of the room to call your family. They still weren’t sure why you’d had a seizure and you wondered absently if somehow it had woken you up, but thankfully all scans and bloodwork had come back normal since then.
Both Namjoon and Dr. Bang had to return to work, with promises to return when your family came. Suddenly, you were left to your own thoughts. You’d been in a coma for just over a month so you really hadn’t missed much of the world, especially since your spirit or ghost or whatever you had been, had been wandering around seeing and hearing things.
Mostly, you’d missed out on time with your family. Your daughter. You couldn’t wait to hold her in your arms. You wondered if you’d have to testify at Tim’s trial. Most likely. You were alive and well, but he had intended anything but and you needed to make sure he never had the opportunity again.
When your family finally arrived, Namjoon stayed close by your side, explaining to them what had been going on with your care as you cuddled Cora in your arms. She talked happily about her upcoming show-and-tell at daycare and you discussed all the things she thought maybe she could take with her.
Your brother Ethan owned a snake that your daughter was a little bit obsessed with and you were mildly afraid he’d actually let her take it with her to show off. Ethan and Luke were both “cool” uncles, giving Cora anything she wanted and sometimes you questioned their motivations. You had the feeling they were both vying for the position of favorite uncle.
Come lunch time, after your family had left and you’d eaten, you laid back in your bed, staring out the window as a bird soared passed and landed on the branch of a nearby tree.
“How are you feeling?”
You turned to see Namjoon standing by the door and you smiled. “Good. Tired, but really good.”
“Do you have enough energy to see one more guest?” He asked, and you frowned. Another guest? But who?
He motioned for someone to come in and you smiled brightly as a familiar handsome man in a leather jacket entered. “Jimin!”
Jimin laughed, scratching at the back of his neck. “This is weird,” he admitted with a grin. “I know we technically met but, you know.” He shrugged and you laughed.
“But you couldn’t see me. Well now you can; how’s it feel?”
“Surreal.” He admitted, walking to the side of your bed. “You said my name with so much confidence and I’ve never seen your face before. It’s like meeting someone you’ve met before and forgetting their name. I’m a little embarrassed.” “I’m truly offended.” You nodded resolutely and he grinned, taking the seat beside your bed.
“What are you going to do now? Back in the world of the living, everyone can see you. It must feel like a new lease on life.”
You smiled, twisting the sheets over your lap between your fingers. “I’m gonna find a new job. I’ve got two right now that make me feel like I have barely anytime to breathe, let alone feel human again. I want a change of pace.”
“They’re hiring receptionists here, you know.” Namjoon said suddenly. “Not yet, I mean, but I know a few of the current receptionists are going back to school and planning on putting in their two weeks. Maybe I could put in a good word. Hours are decent and pay is good.
” “Thank you, Namjoon. I’d appreciate that.”
~ 1 year later ~
“I don’t want to wear pants!” Cora complained loudly and you sighed, rubbing your eyes.
“Honey, I told you before, we’re moving boxes today; a dress just isn’t practical.”
Cora stomped across the room, sitting down on the couch between boxes. She was wearing the frilly pink dress you’d bought for her just last week and looking like a little pouting princess. Goodness, if she weren’t your kid…
“I hate pacticyool.” She frowned and you chuckled, moving to stoop in front of her.
“It’s practical, and that just means that it will be hard to do things in your beautiful new dress. We’re gonna be getting dirty. Do you really want your beautiful princess dress to be covered in dirt and maybe even get ripped?”
Cora huffed, kicking her feet forward slightly in a miniature tantrum before letting her folded arms fall to her sides. “I don’t want it to get broken.” She admitted and you stood, reaching out your hand for her.
“Then let’s change quickly. Namjoon and Jimin will be here soon.”
“What about uncle Taehyungie? He promised to bring me a ring when he got back.”
You smiled, hoisting her to her feet and helping her maneuver through the boxes back to her nearly empty room. One box left open with a small t-shirt and some jeans on top, you helped her to unzip the back of her dress.
“Taehyung, Jungkook, and Jin will be waiting at our new apartment for us. I’m sure they’re all really excited to see you!”
This cheered her up and she quickly helped you to drag her t-shirt over her head, insisting she could do it herself like the independent little stinker she was. After getting her into a pair of socks and taping the last box with her pink dress safely inside, you stared out back over the tiny, dingy little apartment one more time.
It was a piece of crap, honestly, but it had been your piece of crap since Cora was only a baby. You’d had a lot of really amazing memories here and a couple of not so amazing memories too. It was bitter sweet to say goodbye.
A knock at the door roused your attention and you went to open, beckoning both Namjoon and Jimin inside excitedly. “Good morning!” You cried as you shut the door behind you. “Did you bring your muscles?”
“And then some.” Jimin flirted, wiggling his eyebrows at you and you laughed. Namjoon smacked his shoulder, going to reach for your waist before pausing.
Cora had come back into the living room just then, curly, red haired ragdoll clamped in her little arms and she beamed widely as she saw the two new additions to your party. She didn’t know about Namjoon and you yet, you’d been afraid to introduce her to someone that might not be a more permanent fixture in your life until you were positive.
Now…well, the small rock on your finger made you feel safe, but with “uncle” Jimin in the room, now was not the time to tell her. “Namjoon! Uncle Jimin!” She shouted happily, bouncing towards them and into their arms.
Your heart soared as she clung tightly to Namjoon’s neck and he rubbed his hand up and down her back. You couldn’t have asked for a better man to raise your daughter with you. Couldn’t believe he was so willing to step up to the plate.
You ushered everyone to start grabbing things before you got misty eyed and the four of you spent the next ten minutes moving boxes into the moving truck. Namjoon and the guys had helped last night too, after Cora had gone to sleep, so there wasn’t much to move now, but you’d insisted on leaving a few of the light one’s so she could feel like a “big girl helper.”
After everything was packed up, the four of you squished into the cab of the moving truck and started the journey to the other side of the town, closer to your new job. Namjoon had kept his word and had helped you to get a job at the hospital.
Your first paycheck had nearly made your eyes bug out of your skull and you’d definitely cried as your skimpy looking bank account had sagged with its weight.
 You were by no mean’s rich, but you felt like you were these days.
The apartment complex was newer construction. White stucco and tree lined streets greeted you as you arrived. Namjoon had gone apartment hunting with you at your insistence. Once you told Cora about the two of you (and mitigated any potential problems or confusion,) you intended for him to move in with the two of you. You wanted him to like the place.
Jin had groaned about finding a new roommate, complained loudly about the hassle and Jimin had rolled his eyes, whispering that they’d actually already gotten someone; Seokjin was just a drama lover and wanted a rise. He’d been disappointed not to get one, but you’d just laughed.
Cora was overjoyed to see Taehyung as you pulled up along the curb, practically leaping into his arms once he’d unbuckled her. You followed after her, Jungkook holding out a hand for you to take as you stepped down and you thanked him.
Taehyung let the rest of you grab a box while he carried Cora up to the 16th floor (on the elevator, of course. He wasn’t a martyr.) Jin complained about Tae being a slacker and you grinned, sliding the key into your door, pushing it open and stepping inside.
“Wow, nice digs!” Jungkook complimented, walking into the open floor plan main room, across the linoleum floors and to the window. “You’ve got a balcony?” He cried suddenly, twisting the lock. “What luxury is this?”
You laughed, placing your box on the kitchen counter and moving to stand on the balcony with him. “Nice right? Not much of a view, really, but it’s not a brick wall either, so we’re really moving up in the world.”
Namjoon laughed from behind you, hugging you around the waist and you glanced over your shoulder to see Cora occupied with Taehyung at the countertop. She was opening a small sparkly purple box that you assumed was her new ring and you grinned before cuddling further into Namjoon’s chest.
“We don’t have balconies in student housing.” Jungkook complained.
“Someday, man.” Namjoon said, standing and patting him on the shoulder.
“Mommy!” Cora squealed and you could hear her bare feet slapping across the linoleum as she ran to you. You turned and bent down to look as she held her fist in the air. “I’ve got a ring like you now!”
You smiled, staring down at the giant pink ring, lopsided on her finger from being slightly too big. “So you do!” you cried happily as she jumped around, thrusting her fist in everyone’s face for them to have a look.
After an appropriate amount of time spent praising Cora’s new ring, you all returned to the truck to grab more boxes. After 10 minutes, Cora began to complain about being tired so Taehyung took her back up to the apartment to keep her occupied while the rest of you finished the job.
You ordered takeout that would hopefully arrive right around when you were finished in the truck and spent the next 20 minutes daydreaming about cream cheese filled rangoons. You were famished by the time the food had arrived (and thrilled into a small victory dance due to a working doorbell.)
Everyone sat down on the living room floor, Cora with a pillow underneath her, and you all chatted late into the afternoon. Early evening came and everyone said their goodbyes, only Namjoon staying for dinner.
You made spaghetti, Cora’s favorite, and Namjoon helped her to find the box full of her stuffed animals. You’d all managed to set up the large furniture before the others had, had to leave, so at least there were beds and seating. You’d spend most of your day off tomorrow unpacking while Cora was at her grandparent’s house.
“Dinner’s ready!” You called, setting plates and forks down on the table. “Cora, baby, do you want juice or water?”
“Water, please.” She requested, crawling up into the dining chair and grabbing her fork. She dug in messily and you watched as she slurped spaghetti messily up and over her chin. Oh well, she was getting a bath anyway.
After grabbing waters, you sat in your own seat, smiling over at Namjoon as he waited for you to eat. You took a bite of your food, staring down at your daughter as she waved her head back and forth over her plate, staring down at the noodle hanging from her mouth and wiggling like a worm.
“Cora, honey.” She looked up at you, eyes wide as though you would scold her and she slurped the noodle noisily into her mouth.
“Yes?” She questioned softly.
You looked over at Namjoon before continuing. Now was as good a time as any, you supposed. “What would you think if Namjoon came to live with us too?”
“Oh.” She said, looking over at him, taking in his features pensively. “That would be cool. He doesn’t have a bedroom, though. Where will he sleep mommy?”
“Well,” you started, but she interrupted quickly, ideas sprouting quickly in her little mind.
“We’ve got a couch!” She supplied, “Or, mommy says we have sleeping bags too.”
You chuckled, continuing on carefully. “Actually, mommy and Namjoon were thinking about getting married. What do you think about that? Would that be nice?”
“Married?” She mumbled, testing the word in her mouth. “Is that when mommy’s get babies?”
Namjoon choked on his sip of water and you giggled nervously. “Well, sometimes honey.”
“Mommy said she can only get a baby if there’s a daddy.” Cora replied matter of fact. “You can be a daddy, right?”
Namjoon patted at his mouth and the dribble of water in front of him on the table with his napkin before continuing. “Yes, someday I would like to be a daddy.”
Cora shrugged, going back to her spaghetti. “I think it sounds fun.” She replied, slurping another noodle into her mouth. “My daddy had to go somewhere right now, but maybe you can be my new daddy. Will you give me a sister? I really want a sister.”
Namjoon grinned over at you and then back at her. “I’ll definitely try my best to give you a sister.”
He chuckled as you smacked at his arm but Cora continued on. “When will you get married? I would like to have a sister soon, please.”
You reached across the table to pat at her mouth with your napkin. “Well, we haven’t decided when exactly we’ll get married, but soon. Maybe next year.”
“That’s forever away!” Cora complained. She turned to look at Namjoon. “Will you move in tonight?”
He smiled, rubbing at the back of her head. “Not tonight, but really soon. I don’t have any of my things to move in yet. Are you happy that mommy and I want to get married?”
Cora nodded, grabbing a fork way too full of noodles and attempting to shove them all in her mouth at the same time. “I think it’s cool.” She slurred sloppily around her mouthful. To un-trained ears, it sounded like a whole lot of noise and nothing else, but thankfully you were accustomed to her speech patterns.
You grimaced. “Babe, finish your mouthful before speaking, please.”
After Cora was tucked into bed and had finally fallen asleep, both Namjoon and you turned the TV on low and sat back on the couch. “Thank you for cleaning up.” You said softly and he smiled, wrapping his arm around your shoulders and kissing you softly.
“Happy to help.” He whispered back. “So, Cora seems happy.”
“Yeah,” you smiled, leaning your head back against his shoulder. “I’m glad. I was afraid…not that I had any reason to be; she loves you. Still, I want my two favorite people to get along.”
Namjoon reached for your hand, fiddling with the ring on your finger absentmindedly. “I’ll admit I was nervous too. Didn’t know what I would have done if she’d been upset. Turns out, all she was really concerned about was getting a baby sister.”
“Which you promised her.” You chuckled and he grinned, shrugging.
“I’ll at least enjoy trying to fulfill that promise.” He grinned wolfishly and you rolled your eyes with a smile.
“Well, actually, about that…” you trailed off, reaching for your purse and pulling something from it to hand to him.
He gaped down at the pregnancy test in his hands, mouth flapping uselessly as he grappled for words. “Really?” He asked, looking up at you with wide eyes.
“Really.” You nodded as he looked back down at the pregnancy test. “I took it last night…so, did you have fun trying?” You teased.
He laughed, looking down at you as his eyes darkened. “I did. Hey, you in the mood to roleplay?” He mused.
“What did you have in mind?” You grinned as he tucked his face into your neck, kissing along the edge of your jaw.
“How about some good old fashioned baby making?” He teased and you grinned.
You pulled his head up to hover over yours, staring into his eyes. “Are you OK with this? It wasn’t planned, but are you happy?”
His features softened, smile settling into a gentle simmer. “I couldn’t be happier.” He murmured, kissing you deeply.
You hummed against his mouth, wrapping your legs around his waist. “Take me to the bedroom, Mr. Kim.”
“With pleasure.” He grinned.
Thank you so much for going on this journey with me and being so patient! I decided to combine the last two chapters together. I hope you like it. Please let me know what you think! <3
Copyright © 2019 by Taeken-My-Heart. All rights reserved.
33 notes · View notes
min-youngis · 3 months ago
aesthete - j.jk
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banner is miNe
~ Pairing: Jeon Jungkook x Reader (artist!kook)
~ Genre: Fluff (is v soft), Suggestive (?), a smidgen of angst
~ Rating: T bordering on M (yes, i'm an ao3 gal why do u ask)
~ Summary/Excerpt: You can feel it when he whispers that he wants to paint you, his words kissed against the side of your jaw, lips feathering across your skin like his brushes.
Established Relationship
~ Word Count: 1.7k
~ Warnings: implied sexy times, kissing, casual nudity, eM0TionaL vuLnerABiLity i suppose
~ A/N: i would simply like to see a harry styles and bts interaction tomorrow, i think that would be super. disclaimer- this story has nothing to do w that.
i'd love to hear feedback, spread the love!
masterlist in my description.
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You know you love him. You can feel it when he offers to drop you off at work, because you're en route to his client, and your heart flops a bit at his thoughtless kindness. You can feel it when he takes pictures of you on dates when he thinks you aren't looking, and then again when you catch him setting those pictures as his lockscreen wallpaper.
You can feel it when he whispers that he wants to paint you, his words kissed against the side of your jaw, lips feathering across your skin like his brushes.
His fingers trace a path of comfort up and down your back; earlier, you would've thought it was mindless, but now you know better. Every catch of his nail on your shoulder blade, every lazy dip of his finger tips down toward the small of your back is art. And you don't know how you feel about being something as reliable as his canvas.
You don't answer immediately, choosing instead to silently let your palm settle more solidly against the side of his chest, your head cushioned next to it. Slowly, you look up, resting your chin on his firm torso. There's a stupidly poetic beam of moonlight entering the room, cutting across his face and throwing it into stark definition, even from the awkward angle at which he has to bend to look you.
With his weight solid beneath you, the heat of his body that you had recently been intimately acquainted with effortlessly grounding you, and the soothingly relentless patterns of his fingers on your back, the vulnerability in your eyes isn't easy to miss.
"What if you see too much?"
"With you, it's never enough."
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You nod slowly, letting yourself settle in position, body draped on its side over the hardwood floor. Your palm holds your head aloft as you face the empty chair a few feet from you sideways. You can feel heat below you, lying down as you are on a patch of sunlight, can feel heat over you from the midday warmth seeping in through the open window, can feel heat in jungkook's touch as he positions your free arm so its comfortably curled in front of your chest, your fingers grazing your already sensitive neck.
He kisses you once, twice, thrice, countless times on the side of your head, calloused painter fingers taking their time in making subtle adjustments to your limbs. Occasionally, he stops in his calculated movements, walks in front so he can look at you from the perspective in which he's going to be immortalising your body in art. Eyes rake down your naked frame, gaze warming you and making you shiver despite the summer sunlight hitting you directly.
His fingers trail fire as they gently push your upper thigh a little more to the front, burn imprints onto the small of your back as he makes you straighten the curved in arch, leave scorch marks against the side of your neck as he tilts it to rest more firmly on your palm.
And you let him. How could you not? He's treating you like you're made of china. Like you're art. Your breath hitches every time you feel him on you, his palm settling on your stomach to soothe paradoxically keying you up more. You don't say a word. The gentleness is too much, too kind.
"You good?" he softly asks, smoothing down your hair as he kneels behind you. This is intimate; far more intimate than anything you've done before.
You're only half-lying, you know. But nonetheless, you nearly purr as jungkook's palm slides down from your forehead to cup your jaw, tilting your painstakingly positioned head up to face him. If he sees the muted fear in your eyes, he makes no mention of it.
He dips his head, dropping a soft kiss against your lips that you sigh into, letting you press up into it as much as you need to ground yourself. His warm fingers don't leave your face. Your eyelids flutter open when you pull away, a little calmer, a little more reassured.
"If you feel uncomfortable, we can stop immediately, okay? Just say the word." His tone rings with conviction, with comfort, with kindness; and you know that you're going to pull through with this.
Wordlessly, you nod, returning his soothing smile with a small one of your own before he moves your neck back to its previous position.
He takes his time setting up, smoothing down the pad on the easel, examining his pencils with concentration and care. You've seen him do it a hundred times, but it's different now. When all the preparation is to draw you.
You resist the urge to shift, already a bit restless after being still for no more than ten minutes. But there's an unacknowledged thought in your head, disowned but definitely present. Selfishly, a little narcissistically, and incredibly terribly, you want to see how it turns out. How you turn out.
"I'm starting now," he softly says, gently tugging you out of wherever you've zoned out to.
Giving your fingers one last flex, you nod. "Where do you want me to look?"
"Right at me."
His answer should make you want to wrench yourself off the floor, grab your clothes and send you running for the high hills. All it does is make you smile. "Okay."
You've sat in on some of his projects; watched him as he designed colourful tapestries for clients, landscapes filled with rainbows and elephants for day care walls, elegant, artistic prints for framing and portraits for celebrities. But here, on the receiving end of his focused gaze, is an entirely different ball game. After a point, you don't know who's observing whom.
Jungkook's tongue pokes out occasionally, lips get pursed in a concentrated pout. His foot taps a bit as he compares you to what he's drawn so far, eyes narrowing as he smooths some strokes. His little habits keep you from noticing the strain on your bent wrist, the soreness in your thighs. Above you, the sunlight becomes a little warmer as it gets closer to noon, and the family of red finches that comes to your garden everyday makes its appearance known through the open window.
It's all so stupidly ideal, everything happening around you. Sat on his three-legged stool with one hand on his waist as he stretches his back ever so often, giving you reassuring smiles occasionally, making you giggle when he pointedly looks at your boobs before winking obnoxiously, his oversized grey t-shirt falling over broad shoulders and smelling like paint and patchouli soap and comfort; Jungkook could be the model, the artist and the muse, all rolled into one.
You're observing the way the messy ponytail on his head is slowly starting to come apart, wispy strands brushing against the bottom of his ears, curling against the cut of his jaw, when he finally says, "Done."
You're silent for a second, just letting yourself look at him a bit more, observing as he paints a few more marks on the paper in front of him before he places the pencil down, arms coming up and back straightening as he stands up and stretches, nudging the stool out of the way. It's too soon to revert to the knowledge that you're perceived, and that how you're perceived by him is now so transparent and just a few steps away from you. You're far better off in this quixotic fairytale, where all you have to do is watch Jungkook, no doubt with an overfull gaze of fondness.
He tilts his head to the side with a knowing look. "Do you want to see?"
Slowly, you ease your limbs, massaging your wrist as you come up to a sitting position. "I don't know," you shrug, busying yourself with rolling your ankles to get the numbness out, not meeting his eyes. "Do I want to see?"
You feel him watching you as you pull on clothes, tugging your t-shirt over your head and examining your pants to find the front and back.
"I like it. But I think that's less because it's artistically good and more because I like you."
It's corny. It's so cheesy, and it's so stupid, but incredibly, it's affirming. And it makes you want to see.
Smoothing your hands down the front of your leggings, you turn around to face him, small smile and twinkling eyes greeting you and making you feel a warmth that not a single shade of sunlight could manage during the last hour. His arm is extended towards you, palm open, waiting for yours.
Wordlessly, you convince your legs to guide you to him, feet scuffing on the wooden floor and suddenly sounding too loud. Fingers curl as you timidly place your hand atop his, letting him gently tug you close to his frame. With a soft kiss to your forehead, he twirls you so you're facing the paper.
You hardly notice his arms winding around your waist, barely register his chin resting atop your head.
You're painted in quiet hues of pink, lips curled up slightly in a small smile, eyes dripping honey. The curve of your hip right down to the tapering of your ankles are all softened. You don't even realise that you're tracing out the image, shaking fingers stalling momentarily as you find something new, something you. The scattering of moles on your forearm, the curl of your hair at the bottom, the subtle red of the mosquito bite near your belly button, the brown birth mark near your knee. You still once you reach your slightly smudged feet, chipped blue nail polish thrillingly evident.
"You kept wiggling your toes."
It's such an innocuous statement, an explanation for something so fascinatingly real, and it makes you want to punch and kiss him simultaneously. You're too overwhelmed to reply, though, settling for squeezing his arm silently, subtly moving backwards closer to his chest.
His breath whooshes against the hair on the top of your head as he asks, squeezing back, "Are you glad you saw it?"
You'd nod, if you weren't so scared of displacing the moment, suspended in air and tender.
"Yeah," you whisper, letting your hand fall. Silently, you turn around, wrapping your hands around his waist and trying to convey as much as you can through the hug, head burrowing into his frame as his chest rumbles with fond, muted chuckles. "I love it."
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83 notes · View notes
btsmakesmehappy · 3 months ago
MicroWave | 1
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Genre: Fluff, Slight Angst, Future Smut
Pairing: Agent!Yoongi x Reader (Agent au. Neighbor au)
Word Count: 4,8k
Rating: 18+ (M)
Warning: stalker (not explicit), Yoongi is a soft bun, Y/N is clumsy and naive.
Chapter: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | ongoing
Summary: Yoongi can’t help to worry about his neighbor. Not only that she almost burned the apartment down, she also trusts people too much, and yet she doesn’t want people to help her. She is just trouble written in bold and capital and he shouldn’t be acquainted with her. But yet, he makes it his mission to help her with all costs.
Series Masterlist: The Company
Go check the other series because *sst... It’s all connected!
A/N: Thank you again @arizonapoppy who always help me! Without you, I won't even have any will to write and finish this series. Love you!
also please send me asks for the feedbacks and if you want to be added in The Company taglist!
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You don’t know what you would do now if you choose to stay in the countryside. Maybe you’d sow seeds or milk the cow. Maybe your skin would be so tanned because you spend most of your time outdoors. Maybe you’d be sent into marriage with a neighbor's grandchild just so you can maintain your grandparents’ farm. Or maybe you’d be staying at home, nursing your second-born child to sleep.
But instead, you chose to accept your teacher’s offer for some scholarship in the city. Instead of staying in your comfortable grandparents’ house, you used all of your savings and some of your parents’ insurance money to rent a studio apartment in the city. Instead of eating warm nutritious meals three times a day, you eat mostly twice a day, But don’t take it the wrong way: you eat warm food too, since you usually eat microwave dinners.
You’re grateful to receive a scholarship to such a prestigious university in the city. You do. Even if the scholarship only covers your tuition fee, you’re still happy. Even if it means you need to work multiple part-time jobs just so you can buy food, books, or basically anything to live a proper life, you still have a smile on your face.
Yes, you want to live in a more positive way. You’re just being optimistic here.
You loved living in the city when you were kid, but when your parents suddenly died in an accident, you had no choice but to live with your grandparents. It’s not that you hated them. You do love your grandparents. But to move to a place completely different when you’re just a ten year old was very hard. You missed the sound of cars and the loud noises of the city. You missed the bright lamplights in the night. You missed walking only five minutes to get your favorite ice cream from the convenience store.
So when you dropped your luggage in your new apartment, the first thing you did was to open your window widely, letting the noises fill your dusty room. You’re happy to finally live in the city again, happy to start something new. Happy that you can do whatever you want.
And now, you’re in your third year of your university, still struggling to live by eating instant food.
You open your fridge to check on your stock of food and decide that chicken rice will be your dinner tonight. It’s been four days that you’ve eaten the same stuff. You’re sick of it, but you won’t complain about it anyway. You can’t.
As you push your food into the microwave, your phone vibrates in your pocket. After you push the start button, you walk to your desk while fishing your phone from the pocket and put it on your ear. “Hey granny! How are you?”
“I’m fine! How about you? Are you eating well?” Your grandmother yells from the other end, it means that she puts it in the speaker again, while she is doing something.
You giggle and take a glance at your microwave on the countertop. “Yes. I’m good too. I eat so much every day that I don’t even want to take a look at my scale. What are you doing anyway?”
“Really? Good then. I’m making lasagna for your grandfather. He’s a little upset that the tractor broke yesterday and he even slipped in front of the Baek family.” she laughs a little.
“Oh my God, is he okay?”
“Yeah, he’s fine, just a low back pain. And shame. Oh, I should send you some too! You love my lasagna, after all.”
You smile as you open your laptop. “I’m fine, just eat it with grandpa. I’ll send you some money for the tractor, okay? And take him to the hospital if he’s still in pain.”
You turn immediately to the source of the sound, eyes widen as you see smoke coming from your microwave. “Granny, I have to go. Talk to you later. I love you. Please send kisses to grandpa as well!” you hurriedly speak and hang up the phone.
You walk quickly to the kitchen and unplug the cord from the socket, then open your door and windows to let the smoke out. Luckily you see no fire or anything, but you just wasted money on your burnt dinner.
You sigh, and lightly stroke the microwave. “You know, when I adopted you from a thrift store, I expected more. But well, maybe three years is more than enough.” You hug the machine tightly. It’s one of your most prized possessions in your apartment, and your first thing you bought when you move to the city. It has sentimental meaning to you. “Thank you for the three years. You’re the best-”
“What are you doing?”
You jerk with the sudden voice coming from the door. Your eyes fall to the pale man with messy hair leaning on your doorframe with an amused smile on his face. You immediately release the machine with red cheeks, feeling embarrassed to be exposed. “Nothing.” You smile awkwardly. You scan the man from the head to toe, trying to remember who he is. “I’m sorry, I don’t recognize you. You are?”
“Oh right, I’m sorry. I’m your new neighbor. I just moved today. 3C.” He reaches his hand out to you. “I’m Min Yoongi, nice to meet you.”
“I’m Y/N. Nice to meet you too.” You accept the hand politely. “Do you need something?”
He scratches his head lightly. “Not really, I just heard a big sound and I was wondering what it was. It looks like it came from your room.”
You fiddle with your shirt nervously. “Yes, my microwave seems to be broken. Don’t worry though, it didn’t catch fire and I believe the fire alarm will work well.”
He nods and walks away from the door, slightly eyeing the microwave you hugged earlier. “If you want, I can try to fix it. Just let me know.”
You smile. “Thanks. I’ll let you know.”
You shake your head quickly and close your door. You sit again in front of your desk, hands reach for your phone, deciding to transfer some money to your grandparents.
You sigh after reading the amount of money in your account. This semester cost more than the last semester. That means: today is another cup noodles day.
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A month later
When you grew up in the countryside, you always knew your neighbors. It’s kinda rude if you just stay at your home without mingling with the others. But life in the city is different. After almost three years living in this apartment, you only know your landlady, who’s living on the first floor. That’s it.
Oh, except you knew a man on the same floor as yours, who you met a month ago.
Min Yoongi left an impression on you. Like how his hair is always messy and he looks so tired. How his skin is so fair that it’s almost white, hidden in his long sleeves. He actually looks so cold and unfriendly compared to your neighbors in the countryside, but in this city, especially in this apartment, he is more friendly than any of your neighbors.
Well, you don’t practically know why. You only met him twice or maybe thrice after he snuck to your door in your smoking the microwave incident. And it’s a shame how he always met you in such unfortunate events, like when your keys fell from your ripped pocket, or your bag of groceries just exploded, or even when you slipped in the hallway.
It’s also annoying how you’re supposed to help him since he’s the new one, but instead he’s the one who helps you. It just makes you lose the opportunity to befriend him. You’re almost sure that he’ll think of you as an unlucky woman and will avoid you for the rest of his life.
But you were wrong.
It is Tuesday evening at six o’clock, when you hear a knock on your door. When you open it, you’re surprised and a little delighted to see Yoongi standing before you. You smile. “Hey, neighbor! Can I help you?”
Yoongi scratches the back of his neck. “Hi, do you mind if I borrow a pot?”
“Sure. Let me-” your hand pauses before the cabinet. As your microwave is broken, you’ve had to cook instant noodles for the past few weeks, so you actually need it. But this man seems to need it too and you have to reply to his kindness from before. But you don’t have any other pot or pan and you don’t really want to go to the convenience store. Wait, what day is it? Tuesday? Then he shouldn’t be working tonight. It should be okay then.
“If you need to use it, it’s okay.”
You open the cabinet and pull out your pink pot. “Don’t worry. You can use it. I’m not cooking for tonight.”
Yoongi receives it with a wide smile. “Thank you, I’ll return it as soon as possible. Have a good night!”
You wave to him vigorously with a smile, feeling happy that at least you can help him once.
You look at your watch and immediately grab your purse. You have a little time to shop before seven. Well, you already know what you’ll buy since you need to save as much money as possible. With that kimbap in your thoughts, you run outside to go to the convenience store.
At least tonight, you won’t eat some cup noodles.
At least for tonight, you won’t think about your savings.
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You open the store with your elbow and head directly to the food section. You look into the various types of kimbap, frowning a little after seeing the empty tray of your favorite tuna mayonnaise. Just when your hand reaches the salmon, another hand sweeps in and grabs the last salmon kimbap. “Ah,” you whine quietly.
“Oh, sorry, do you want this?”
A little perplexed, you wave your hands vigorously. “It’s fine. I can take anything. You should take it.” You look at the man before you; his small face is covered with a black mask and a black baseball hat. “Ohh, Yoongi-ssi?”
“Hey, Y/N. I didn’t realize that this would be your dinner. Then you should take this. I borrowed your pot, it’s just inappropriate for me to ruin your dinner plan again.” His eyes narrow to crescents and he places the kimbap in your hand.
You laugh awkwardly. “Thank you. I.. appreciate this, I guess.”
A sudden call of your name makes you freeze in the spot. You’re familiar with the voice and you’ve been avoiding him so hard for two years. It’s just so unlucky for you to suddenly meet him.
The man walks closer to you. “Right? You’re Y/N?”
You try to ignore him and unconsciously hide your body behind your neighbor. Your hands tremble as you hold your kimbap for dear life and your mind goes blank.
Yoongi looks at you with a raised eyebrow and turns his head slightly to look at the man who is approaching you. Yoongi then lightly pats your trembling hand and takes the kimbap from you, placing it in his basket. “You only want this? You really need to eat more, you know.” He picks another type of kimbap and puts them in the basket again. “You need to eat at least three of these.”
You look at him confusedly and nod. “Okay.”
“Good girl.” He smiles again. Even though his mouth is hidden in his mask, his eyes crinkle cutely. He holds your hand all the way to the cashier. “You sure you don’t want the ice cream? You know, the fish-shaped thing you always love?”
“No. Ibst guess...” you answer as you follow Yoongi, leaving the other man standing confused in the aisle. Still he looks at you weirdly from afar, sending shivers through your spine.
Yoongi puts the basket on the checkout counter and shrugs. “Fine, don’t steal mine,” he giggles and ruffles your hair. He gives his credit card to the cashier and leans toward your ear. “My treat.”
You look at Yoongi again, who is now holding a bag of groceries in his hand, but this time in amazement. He seems bigger, like a knight in shining armor. Well, a knight in an all-black outfit from head to toe.
Wait a minute, Yoongi is a stranger. Why are you letting a random man hold your hand?
But still, you let him. You let his big hand wrap yours. You let the warmth from his hand seep into your skin.
And you feel more relaxed than ever. You feel safe with him beside you.
Just as both of you step outside the store, Yoongi leans toward you again. “That man is still looking at us. Actually he seems like glaring? Do you want to walk around for a little bit to lose him?”
You turn to face him, to sneak a glance at the man behind you and you see him still looking at you. “Can we? I don’t want to trouble you.”
“Not a problem.” Yoongi walks again, dragging you with him in the opposite direction of your apartment.
You walk in the neighborhood casually side by side. It’s a little past six in the evening, but the wind still feels cold on your skin. You cross your arms to wrap your body, trying to keep you a little warmer.
“You want to head back?” Yoongi asks softly.
You shake your head and smile. “No, it’s fine. It’s been a while since I walked around the neighborhood. This is nice.” You turn to him with concern on your face. “I’m sorry. But we can head back, if you want. I’m sure you have something to do.”
He shrugs. “Nah. This is nice.” He lets out a little yawn. “Makes me a little sleepy, but it’s alright.”
“Yes. it’s kind of comforting.”
“Let me guess. An obsessive ex-boyfriend?”
You scoff. “Kinda. How did you tell?”
“He’s still following behind us, hiding behind the brown building. And as for the boyfriend, I just guessed.”
“Wow, you’re an observant guy, aren’t you?”
He giggles. “Well, it’s either I’m observant or that man just plainly sucks at following you.”
“Thank you anyway. I appreciate it.”
"No worries." He stops at the nearby park. Taking up a seat on the bench, he opens the grocery bag. He removes his mask and puts it in his pocket. "So what do you do?"
You accept the kimbap he hands you with a small nod. "I'm in my third year in university. Also work part-time at some places. You?"
Yoongi opens a salmon kimbap and bites into it. "I work in technical stuff."
"Oh that's why you told me you can save my Mickey." You nod again in understanding as you chew quickly.
"Mickey?" He raises an eyebrow as he hands you another kimbap.
You laugh awkwardly. "I mean, my microwave. Sorry that was super weird."
Yoongi lets out a laugh. "Not at all. I think it's cute. Well, a little weird actually, but that's acceptable."
Heat rushes to your cheeks and you try to ignore it by munching your second kimbap.
Yoongi watches you eat with a smile in his face. He always loves to watch the others eat, and seeing you tear into those kimbaps so deliciously just makes him full of contentment. He looks around the perimeter to search for the questionable man but he can't find him anymore. "You want to head back? I think he’s gone."
You nod with your full mouth. Gathering your trash, you throw it into the nearby bin.
The walk back to your apartment is actually quite fun as both of you try to get to know each other. It’s been a tiring month as you worked your ass off, so actually talking to people really means something to you. You learned that he moved here from Hawaii as a relocation, while he learned that you are in a scholarship program and live alone. The last part was his guess as he takes you to your door and picks your spare keys under a potted plant in front of your door. “You really should find a new place for that spare key. You live alone, right? It’s dangerous.”
You take your key from his hand and smile sheepishly. “Right. Thank you.”
“Or maybe you should install a security lock, you know, that kind with a passcode, it’s easier and you don’t need to bring a key with you,” Yoongi says. He gives you another kimbap before you walk inside your living room.
You look at your feet, lost in thought. You’ve been thinking about it since a year ago, but since you’re too busy at your work and have to save money, you never were able to do it. “How much does it usually cost?”
“It depends, but actually I have a ‘buy one get one’ free promo after I installed mine. Don’t ask, I also don’t know why they had that promo. If you want, I can contact them for you.”
“Really? I’ll be thankful. So I pay you half price then?”
He smiles widely and you actually can see his gums. “You don’t need to. It’s just free stuff. But don’t worry, I know the owner so I assure you that it’s the good one.”
Your eyes widen. “But... I don’t really want to bother you...”
He pats your shoulder and turns away. “Just take it, okay? Just think of it as my welcome gift!”
You reach out your hand to grab his sleeves. “Why-why are you helping me?” It’s just what you’ve been taught when you’re a kid: you should never receive help from strangers, who know what they’d want. It might be a trap or fraud. It won't hurt to have a little suspicion, right? Sure, this is maybe not the best way to address your suspicion so explicitly.
“Because I know it’s hard for you to live in this city, study, and make money at the same time. Besides, we are friends and also neighbors. We should help each other.” He smiles again and ruffles your hair. “I had a great time talking with you, neighbor. Just remember to close your door and windows. Oh and here.” He picks a yellowish bottle from his paper bag and hands it to you, a banana milk, and walks away.
You see him walk to his door, and when he wants to close the door, he mouths, Go inside already.
And it makes your heart skip a beat.
You lean on your door after you close it tight. Your face is getting hotter and you feel weird as you look at the banana milk in your hands.
Jesus, he might be a serial killer or human trafficker.
And yet, you decided to trust him for now. Sure, maybe you’re just too naive, but you literally don’t have anyone in this city, let alone a friend. So, the thought of having a new hot friend who happily helps you just makes you elated. This is maybe your happiest moment in three years, even beating the moment when you got a bonus from your work.
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Yoongi hums as he enters his apartment. He always does it when he’s in a happy mood and seeing him in that condition makes another man on the other side of the apartment annoyed.
“Where the heck did you go, hyung? I thought you just went to the nearby store?” Jungkook yells, never moving his eyes from his phone.
Yoongi puts the bag on his counter and starts unloading it. “I just met my neighbor and walked around a little.” He takes a good glance at Jungkook and sighs. “Seriously, what happened last night? You just disappeared when I paid for the drinks and came back in the middle of the night looking this miserable.”
Jungkook bites his lips, refusing to answer. He just looks at his phone silently.
“Fine, if you don’t want to tell me.” Yoongi’s eyes fall on a pink pot in his sink. “Glad that you didn’t skip a meal.” Yoongi picks up a kimbap and throws it to Jungkook. He looks at the fish-shaped ice cream bar on his counter, pouting a little when he finds it has already melted.
“Where is my banana milk?” Jungkook asks around a mouth full of food.
Yoongi throws his melted ice cream into the trash. “Oh, right. I’m sorry I forgot about it.”
Jungkook looks at Yoongi with a pout on his face, not only does his woman not want to talk to him, he can’t even have his favorite drink. Well, Jungkook can’t be mad at Yoongi, as he is the guest: living and eating as he likes in Yoongi’s apartment. He’s actually pretty lucky that Yoongi doesn’t kick his butt out of his place.
“I’m going to work in my room, so please don’t disturb me.” Yoongi walks to his room full of computer screens with a bottle of americano in his hand. “And turn off the lights when you go.”
With a small slam of his door, Yoongi sits at his desk. He’s still investigating the incident in the hall and forensic office a few days ago. It shouldn’t be hard, since not many people came to the Company on the day of the incident, but unlucky for him, the culprit was doing a great job to hide his body and face from the CCTV. It makes his job harder. The way the culprit moves the CCTV cameras to hide his figure seems like a professional job. Maybe, hopefully not, that incident is connected with the Black.
Yoongi lets out a sigh and runs his hand through his hair, the bright screens lighting his pale face. He feels bad for all of his team. He was the one who handled the Black Case in Hawaii, and he did it poorly. If only he went into the field more and wasn’t stuck in front of his computers, maybe he wouldn’t have lost Jiseok two years ago. If only he had looked for the Black a little more back then, maybe he could have found Jiseok and maybe that incident in Hawaii a month ago wouldn't have happened.
He feels that it’s partly his fault.
Sure, his team never blames him. He couldn’t do anything anyway two years ago, since it was a secret mission. But still, the fact that he couldn’t do anything was killing him, and soon enough it turned into regrets, which sometimes sneak into his sleep, pestering him as a nightmare.
That’s why he asked the Boss personally to be relocated here even if he hates working in an office. He doesn’t want to miss anything about this mission. He needs to stop the Black, even if it means that he needs to wake up in the morning --so cruel!-- just to go to the office. This mission is his priority right now. He has to do something.
His fingers move quickly over the keyboard, changing the view countless times. This is going to be a long night, but luckily he had a great dinner before and he’s sure that he can make it through the night. And hopefully he can get some leads.
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Yoongi walks lazily to his kitchen in the morning, only to find that his living room is too bright. He looks around and his eyes fall on Jungkook who is still in the same spot as yesterday. “Man, you didn’t go home?”
Jungkook turns his head to meet Yoongi’s eyes. “Is it morning already?”
Yoongi sighs and opens his fridge to pull out a carton of milk. “Let’s have breakfast.”
“I’m not starving.” Jungkook looks at his phone again and slides it into his pocket. He stands and walks to the bathroom. “I’m just going to wash up for a bit.”
Yoongi looks at his younger friend with a sad smile. He doesn’t know what happened to Jungkook, but it is surely serious and bad. He takes his phone from the counter and texts Taehyung about Jungkook. He knows that it isn’t his place to meddle in other people’s business, but he’s worried about Jungkook; everyone does.
Jungkook is like his little brother. He basically raised him along with other agents. Jungkook is like a fused version of the older ones. And even though Jungkook is a grown-up right now, Yoongi sometimes still sees him as a shy kid who laughed with hands covering his mouth. Jungkook laughs freely now, but he is still a little shy, especially with that girl in forensics.
Yoongi scoffs, who would even think that Jungkook would be this mad about that girl?
Thirty minutes later, both Yoongi and Jungkook are both ready to go to work. It’s as they are walking down the hallway, that you open your door.
You wear a grey hoodie and black pants. You sling your blue backpack clumsily with your hands full, a big water bottle in your right hand and a banana milk in your left. Your hair is tied into a low ponytail, your usual hairstyle. “Hey, neighbor!” you call out to them.
Yoongi replies with a nod, as he drags Jungkook with him. “Morning, Y/N. This is my friend, Jungkook.”
You look at Jungkook, who keeps silent in confusion. The way the taller man’s eyes show sadness and fatigue actually makes you curious. “Not a morning person, I assume?” you laugh a little as you hand the banana milk to Jungkook.
“You don’t have to. Isn’t this your breakfast?” Yoongi asks as he pushes Jungkook’s hand away from the milk.
“That’s fine. It seems he needs it more.” You grab Jungkook’s hand and put the milk in his grip. “Nice to meet you, Jungkook.”
Jungkook nods weakly. “Nice to meet you too. Thank you for the milk.”
You smile at both of the men and walk to the stairs. “I see you later, I guess.”
“Oh right, when do you want to change the key? I called the shop and they can do it today.”
You stop walking and turn to see Yoongi. “Today? I don’t think I can. I have a job until the evening.” You tap your finger on your chin, thinking. “Do I have to be here when they install it?”
Yoongi looks at you weirdly, not knowing where the conversation is headed. "Not really, why?”
Your face beams as you continue to talk and hand the key. “Then would you tell them that I put the key in the potted plant?”
Yoongi eyes widen. “What?”
You tilt your head in confusion. “What? I’m sorry I don’t want to bother you again, but would you please tell-”
“Are you crazy? Why’d you give the key to strangers?”
“I don’t really have a choice! You’re right I really should install it since I’ve lost like twenty keys since I lived here. But I don’t really have the time. I work every single day till evening,” you pout as you fiddle with the hem of your hoodie.
Yoongi runs his fingers through his hair in exasperation. “What about the weekend? Or any other day?”
You shake your head weakly. “I’m sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t change the lock. Sorry that I bothered you with this kind of thing.”
He sighs and reaches out his hand. “Fine. I’ll be there when they change it.”
“What? No-no. You have a job, I don’t want to disturb you.”
Yoongi quickly grabs the keys from your hand and puts it in his pants. “That’s okay. I’ll check it at lunchtime. The faster the key changes is the better for my sanity.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Nothing.” He sighs again as he hands you his phone. “Just at least keep your phone with you, okay? I’m gonna update you by text.”
Your eyes beam in admiration and you quickly tap in your numbers. “Thank you. I really appreciate it.” You look at your watch and your eyes widen. “Oh my God, I have to go now. Just call or text me if you need something.”
Yoongi watches you running down the stairs and shakes his head in disbelief. He actually wants to offer his car to drive you to your university, but you run so fast that you’re gone before he can even say anything.
“Wow, she is really gullible, isn’t she? She’ll get hurt someday.” Jungkook scoffs and stabs the straw on the lid of the banana milk. It’s when he sips the milk, he smiles a little. “Or maybe she’s just stupid?”
“She literally just gave her breakfast to you, don’t be such a jackass. But yeah, I think so too.” Yoongi looks at the screen of his phone, your phone number, and then to your door. Why do I keep wanting to help her?
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chimknj · 3 months ago
We Were Born Sick
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Pairing: Yoongi x Hoseok
Genre: Angst, Crime/ Au: Cult, 
Word Count: 9k
Tags: Graphic Depictions of Violence, Major Character Death, cults, religious cults, Implied/referenced homophobia, murder, gun violence, mentions of conversion therapy, mentions of mass murder/suicide, hate crime, swearing, violence, 
Summary: At 9am this morning, Min Yoongi was found in the Church of God’s Children with a .25 millimeter gun and the church leader in front of him. Detective Kim Namjoon wants to know how he got there. 
Disclaimer: These works are completely fictitious and for entertainment purposes only. They are not meant to reflect or label the members of BTS in any way. The events within never took place. Thank you
Thanks so much to @voiceswithoutlips​ for beta reading this for me again lol I really enjoy working with you so much! <3
Taglist: @hoebii @taegularities @eternalseokjin​
“This one’s a doozy, Namjoon. Even you might give up.”
He’d heard rumors throughout the station since he walked in. The news stations have been covering the story all morning; most of the officers are still down in the compound getting the survivors on buses and cleaning up. Survivors. He thanked God that at least some people survived the tragedy. They had all been very cooperative. However, there is still one person every investigator has interviewed, or attempted to interview. 
“I will give it a shot,” Namjoon replied. 
The older detective had come over to his desk with a request to interrogate the suspect. They’d assigned Jin the case when they first caught wind of it months ago. Namjoon had no problem giving input or discussing it with him. The ‘hillside girls’ case was not an easy one: five young women found scattered across the hills in the span of a year. Initial reports stated that they may have died during childbirth, since they all showed signs of having delivered or C-section incisions on their bodies. But further examination revealed that the deaths were anything but natural. Whoever did this, tortured, and murdered these women, whether during or after pregnancy isn’t clear. Namjoon thought of the person who’d do such a thing, and shuddered. It was revolting, ungodly. 
“His name is Min Yoongi,” said Jin, walking beside him. “They found him in the chapel with Hudson, holding a gun and muttering to himself. It’s a .25 millimeter pistol; the same type of bullet they found in Hudson’s body. We’re guessing he must’ve shot him during the, know.”
The massacre. Namjoon did not care what the media had said, calling it a ‘mass suicide’. It wasn’t. 918 people died in the compound that morning. 918. The number stuck in his head like fly paper. He could not imagine every single person in that number wanting to die. They’d already found some evidence that some people might’ve been injected with a poison. They could not all have wanted to follow their ‘prophet’ into the afterlife. No man of God would ask people to die for them. He prayed silently whenever he saw the footage on television. All those people who looked for a purpose in life; who looked for guidance and acceptance, and instead received death. Hudson was a damned murderer. A vile, evil man who is burning in Hell right now. Namjoon added those five young women to that 918, making it 923. 
“Is he one of them? A follower?” Namjoon asked. 
“We’re assuming so, but we think he defected at some point or lost his faith.”
“Yeah, that would do it.” 
They reached the interrogation room at the end of the hall. They walked inside a small room with a two-way mirror. On the other side, Namjoon saw Min Yoongi. Pale, narrow with a mop of golden hair, he kept his head bent as he clutched a rosary in his hand. Through the small speakers, Namjoon heard his muttering something under his breath. 
“...Forgive me, Lord, for I have sinned. Forgive me, Lord, for I have sinned…”
“Oh yeah,” Namjoon nodded, “He was one of them.” He took off his badge and placed his gun on the table. He took off his jacket to roll up his sleeves. On his wrist, he wore the rosary bracelet his mother gave him. 
“Since when do you show that off?” asked Jin, surprised at his colleague. 
“Not often,” he answered, “But it’ll get him to trust me. I’ll go talk to him.”
Namjoon entered the small room, Yoongi’s mutterings a bit clearer now, and said, “Morning, Yoongi.”
“Forgive me, Lord. Forgive me, Lord-”
“-I’m Detective Kim, but you can call me Namjoon if you want-”
“-Forgive me, Lord-”
“-I just wanna ask you a few questions about what happened this morning-”
“-Forgive me-”
Namjoon watched him. Yoongi appeared stuck in this mantra of his, eyes closed shut and hands wrapped around a silver chain in his hand. Namjoon opened the file that Jin had left on the table. ‘Church of God’s Children’ was the cult’s name. James Hudson, a fat balding man, started the church in the 70’s with small gatherings in Indianapolis. Hudson proclaimed that he was the voice of God, and that it was through him that God spoke. He claimed to be a prophet, who could see the end of days approaching; by following him, you would be saved from damnation, he declared. The same old bullshit all these religious zealots spew to gain trust. 
Did Yoongi believe this once upon a time? What made him break his faith in Hudson? Namjoon read on to see that Hudson eventually purchased private land far from the city near the hills. He named it ‘Kingsville’ and promoted it as a utopia-like community where everyone was equal. From what the survivors said, none of it was true. He wondered what he could do to bring Yoongi out of his state. He looked over testimonies they’d gathered from people who’d broken away from the cult; all of them wrote the same thing. 
“God is good all the time,” said Namjoon, keeping his eyes on the man in front of him.  
Yoongi stopped mid-sentence and looked up at him. His brow furrowed in curiosity, he replied, “And all the time God is good.” He studied Namjoon for a second, “How do you know our words?”
“Because your reverend did what people like him do: steal things from other cultures and claim it as theirs,” he replied, closing the envelope. “He sort of picked and chose what he wanted to put into his followers. You guys have bits of catholicism, christianity, and protastant ideas spread throughout. Such as your rosary,” he nodded to the necklace in Yoongi’s hand, “It’s a catholic prayer necklace. Each large bead is a different prayer, and it’s for praying to Mary so she can deliver your prayers to God.”
“How do you know that?”
Namjoon showed his bracelet, and Yoongi’s eyes widened. “Weren’t expecting it, were you?” he glanced at another testimony, “Because according to Hudson, anyone who is not in your cult does not believe in God and will be damned for all eternity. Is that right?”
Yoongi hesitated, “I don’t know anymore.” He relaxed in his seat, eyes turned away from Namjoon, “Everything he said was a lie. He wasn’t a prophet. He was a demon speaking with the Devil’s tongue.” 
“Hm, pretty accurate imagery,” he nodded. “I don’t believe in telling others how to worship, so feel free to do it however you’re comfortable, but before we do that, I’d like to ask you some questions.”
“You want to know what happened in the church?”
“I do.” He pushed a pad and paper towards him, “You can write it down if you want.” He noticed Yoongi’s hesitancy. He recalled the cult having been around since the 70’s. From what people said, a good majority of the members couldn’t read or write, well, if not at all. “Can you write?”
“A bit.”
“Not a lot. You don’t need it when you’re working the fields.”
“Right. So, perhaps you just tell me then?”
“You won’t understand.”
plenty about what you do,” he said. 
“You might know The Lord, but you don’t know me, sir.”
“Then help me know you.”
Yoongi looked away from him, arms crossed over his chest. Namjoon had seen this kind of reluctance in a lot of culprits. “You find the camp yet?” he asked. 
“Yes, we found everyone-”
“-Nah, I don’t mean the houses. I mean the shacks, back by the warehouse. Your people find those yet?”
“Why don’t you tell me what the shacks are for and I’ll tell the people there to keep an eye out?” He saw Yoongi take a deep breath, but stay silent. “It’s okay to tell us. I won’t judge you for whatever it is you did in there-”
“-It ain’t about what I did in there. It’s about why they put me in there.”
“Why did they put you in there?”
“Because I’m sick.”
Namjoon’s stomach churned at the phrasing. He’d heard it many times growing up, and hearing it now still stung. “Sick?”
“I...They….They put me in there because I had a sickness, and only God could take it out of me.” He shut his eyes as he said, “They put you in the shacks if you’re unclean. What I was doing wasn’t right, and...and they didn’t like it.”
“What made you unclean?”
“They say committing sin makes the soul unclean, so I had to go into the shack to cleanse it again. I had to suffer as Jesus suffered for our sins.”
He looked at him for a moment. “What sin did you commit?”
He thought back to the Hillside Girls. “Did you have sex with someone you weren’t supposed to?”
“A woman?” When Yoongi did not respond, he raised an eyebrow, “A man?” 
Yoongi’s head shot up at the words, “Wha-”
“-It’s okay,” he immediately said. “People say that to me too, when they find out I like men. There is nothing wrong with you, Yoongi. You’re not sick or dirty, or evil for loving another human being. That’s what God is about, right? Love? Men like Hudson use religion to justify their hatred and bigotry. They shield themselves with it as if it’ll save them when people call them out on their bullshit. You loved someone, didn’t you? You loved a man and Hudson found out, didn’t he?”
He did not answer immediately. “I loved James,” he said, not looking at Namjoon. “I love him like a father. He took care of me when my parents both passed on; he gave me a job in the warehouse with the other big guys. He said I might be small, but I was just as strong.” Namjoon did not dare interrupt now that he was talking. “There’d been a time where I would've done anything he’d asked me to do. I would’ve given him the shirt off my back or the bread on my table. He’d done so much for me and mine. Then, that little rat Jungkook told him about Hoseok and me.”
“Hoseok?” Namjoon flipped through
files beside him. “Who is that?” He searched for the name. 
“The most beautiful man in the world…” he noted how Yoongi’s tone softened. He glanced up to see a fond expression on his face, eyes casted off elsewhere as his mind drifted off. “A real angel. I thought I’d never love a man more than God, but I did.”
“Your boyfriend?”
“Boyfriend is too small of a word, sir,” he replied. “Partner is even worse. Hoseok...Hoseok was more to me than just that. He was the air in my lungs. He was the sun that brought light into my dark world; he comforted me in a way I had never felt. I looked at him and knew I could trust him with my entire soul.” He thought for a moment, “Once, we were laying in my bed together after lights out, and I swore...I swore our hearts beat at the same time. I had my head on his chest, curled up close to him, and I could hear it in the night. Our bodies went into sync as if we were one.” 
“I know the feeling. I feel like that about my Jimin.” He thought of the dance instructor, most likely just getting to his studio. He was teaching the younger students today; he loved working with children who were so enthusiastic about it. “He was your entire world and James got in the way?”
“By putting you in the shacks?”
“What were the shacks for?”
“To make me clean again.”
“Yes, I know, but how? Why didn’t he put Hoseok in there too? Why only you?”
Yoongi sighed, “If you wanna hear what happened in the church, I gotta tell you what happened before the church.”
“Then tell me what happened before the church.”
Heaven is a twenty-seven-year-old man with dark brown hair and eyes. Heaven is a dimpled smile and heart-shaped lips. Heaven is Hoseok, the only person Yoongi chose over the entire world. When he laid beside him, it’s as if God gave him a slice of paradise on Earth. They’d turned out the lights ages ago, but he could sense Hoseok near him. Soft fingers brushed on his wrist, the pad of his thumb gently moving over the inside and to his palm back and forward. He could smell the flowery scent of fresh laundry and feel the heat Hoseok brought under the sheets. Yoongi lived in the house furthest from the middle of camp, so nobody came knocking in the late hours. Hoseok often told his housemate, Jungkook, that he’d slept over after a long day in the warehouse so he did not worry. They thought he slept in the spare room Yoongi’s parents built, not in his bed. Yes, it was a lie, but a white one. They didn’t need to know what he and Hoseok did once the lights went off. 
“We should just go,” whispered Hoseok. They’d finished a while ago, but neither of them felt tired yet. In only their underwear, the pair stayed together under the covers in each other’s arms. Yoongi never knew a safer place to lay than here. “We can do it, you know. The city isn’t that far from here. We can go tomorrow night when it’s dark and catch a bus there.”
“We don’t have money, Hobi. We don’t have jobs.”
“No, but I got cousins in the city. They can help us out until we get on our feet.” Hoseok wrapped his arms around Yoongi tighter, “I don’t wanna sneak around like this anymore. I want to tell the world how I feel about you; I want everyone to know that you’re the person I love. Isn’t that what God would want for us? To be happy? I know I’m happy when I’m with you, and I want people to know that.” 
His words made Yoongi smile. The thought of living in a city apartment with Hoseok sounded like a dream. Yet, being outside the town tightened his chest. He’d only ever known the life he lived within the walls of their town. What if he couldn’t find a job or a good source of money to bring into their house? “I can’t read that well,” Yoongi said softly. “I can’t write that well either. I don’t know how to do anything else except the warehouse and field stuff. In the city, you gotta know how to use those typing machines they have-”
“-Computers. They’re called ‘computers’, Yoongi-”
“-Yeah, those. I don’t know how to-”
“-My cousins could teach us. We’d have help, Yoongi,” Hoseok entwined their fingers together, his soft digits slipping between Yoongi’s, “We won’t be baby lambs going into a wolves’ den. It’d take a bit of time, but we’d make it work. We can get out of here; other people have, so why can’t we?”
“We need money to leave.”
“No, we don’t. We can just go like Abigail, John and Liza did a few months ago. We might have to rough it a day or two, but the roads aren’t far. We can reach one and hitch our way to a bus station. We can do it, Yoongi.” 
Even in the darkness he could see the hope in his lover’s eyes. Every piece of his heart screamed to agree. He could leave the town and go away with Hoseok. They could live happily together in the city, where they wouldn’t have to hide themselves. He could hold Hoseok’s hand. He could kiss him. He could say ‘I love you’ out loud without worrying who might be listening. He could love him in the light the way he deserved to be loved. James always said a man loving another man was wrong; he said all ‘sodomites’ would be smited from the Earth and sent into the fiery pits of Hell. But, how could that be true when it was God who gave him this heart? God brought Hoseok into his life by chance; why would he be against it when he brought them together? Yoongi spent his entire life living in shame of the thoughts and feelings he had for other men. 
Until he met Hoseok at a service. James always brought a few followers to his city appearances to try recruiting new people. Yoongi normally did not go, but something inside him said he should go along, that one time. While passing out food packages to the homeless people who walked in, he spotted Hoseok by the door. His leather jacket and jeans did not hide the hunger in his face and sadness in his eyes. Yoongi felt compelled to help him as he did for every person he saw. He remembered taking up a sandwich and water and handing it to Hoseok with a kind smile. He wanted to talk to Hoseok; he wanted to know his name, where he was from, and how could Yoongi keep him around. Life had not been kind to Hoseok: he’d grown up in a broken home, dropped out of school at a young age, and ran away from his home at seventeen. He’d recently been released from jail when he came across James and his words. A wayward man with no home, Hoseok found his place with the church. He laughed that he never saw himself ‘finding religion’, but he credited Yoongi with showing him the way there. 
It took a few more visits before Hoseok joined their congregation. Then he moved into the compound some time after that. He and Yoongi worked in the warehouse together, unloading supply trucks and separating the contents for the rest of the month. They grew closer through work and the church. They taught each other so many things they wouldn’t know otherwise. He taught Yoongi how to dance, and Yoongi taught him how to tie knots. Hoseok showed him different songs he could play on his guitar; he showed Hoseok the best places to fish in the lake. It felt like God tied a string around their wrists to keep them together no matter where they went. Even here in the dark, he could feel that connection. He never wanted it to go away. 
“Okay,” he whispered after some time. “Let’s do it.”
Hoseok pressed his lips to Yoongi’s, letting them linger there for a moment. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” 
They dove into another kiss before rays of light came from outside the house. Yoongi turned to the window and saw silhouettes through the curtains, flashlights cutting through the thin fabric and into the bedroom. His heart jumped into his throat, and his body started shaking. He tried making out figures amongst the lights, but they moved too quickly to focus on correctly. Wide eyes watched the lights leave from his window towards the front of the house. He shot a look at Hoseok. 
“Yoongi,” Hoseok immediately jumped from the bed, grabbing his pants from the floor, “Get into your pajamas. Now.”
“-Do it now, Yoongi. They’re-”
They both turned their heads when the front door burst open. Thundering footsteps and shouting voices sounded through the house, and Yoongi wanted to run. He truly did, yet fear kept him still. Nobody was supposed to be awake; they only met this way late at night. He heard them throwing doors open, shouting for him and Hoseok as they tore through the house. The closer they got to the bedroom, the tighter his chest became. 
Someone kicked open the bedroom door, causing both men to jump at the sound. Holding his rifle, Jungkook stood by the doorway with two other people: Suho and Taehyung. The sight of Jungkook, broad and muscular, with his automatic rifle terrified Yoongi. He clutched the sheets tightly, as if that might help him. 
“I told you, Jungkook,” Taehyung said. “I told you they were in here together! Didn’t I say it? I saw them and I told you!! Didn’t I do well?”
“Yeah, you did.” Jungkook smirked at the pair in front of him. His eyes landed on Yoongi, “I always knew you were a queer. I told James that, but he didn’t listen. Now,” he cocked his gun, “I’m gonna take care of you myself-”
As he raised the gun, Hoseok rushed forward and pushed the barrel up into the air before hitting Jungkook square in the jaw. The action caused a spray of bullets to shoot up into the ceiling. He turned to Suho, who launched forward and began wrestling him to the ground. Yoongi did not know what to do. All the sounds. All the fighting. It sent him into confusion and panic. Hoseok eventually straddled Suho, punching his face before Taehyung intervened. The younger pulled Hoseok off him, and kicked him hard in the stomach before pointing his gun at him. 
“I’d stay where you are if I was you,” he warned in a threatening tone. His eyes looked over to Jungkook, who’d straightened himself up, and was helping Suho stand. 
“What’s going on in here?” 
James rushed through the doorway. Yoongi’s racing heart stopped, seeing the older man looking at him in disappointment. He’d expected him to rage, to scream and beat him for this. Instead, he removed his sunglasses and ran a hand over his bald head. “Ah, Yoongi,” he sighed, seeing Hoseok panting on the floor with blood over his mouth. “I was hoping what Jungkook said wasn’t true.”
“Ja-James, I can explain,” Yoongi said quickly. 
“You don’t have to explain shit to him, Yoongi,” spat Hoseok. “He’s just a bigoted piece of shit who-” A swift smack of Taehyung’s pistol cut through his words. 
“It’s not what it looks like!” he continued frantically, trying to steady his shaking hands by holding the sheets. “The spare room bed is broken, so I told Hoseok he could-he could sleep in here! It wasn’t like that!”
“Don’t lie to me, boy,” said James. “I’m not a fool. I know what I’m seeing, and I…” he shook his head, “I’m disappointed in you, son. I never thought you’d fall into temptation this way.” He glared down at Hoseok, who held his bleeding nose, and hissed. “I knew letting you into my church was a bad idea. I only allowed it because I thought Yoongi should have more friends. Now, I know what you had in mind when you befriended my Yoongi.”
“No…” Yoongi breathed, “No, James. No.”
“Take them both outside!” he ordered the three men before walking out of the room. 
Jungkook and another man took Hoseok by the arms, dragging the struggling man down the hall. Suho and Taehyung yanked Yoongi out of bed. In nothing but his underwear, he felt the chilly night weather on his skin. He stumbled a few times on his shaky knees, but the pair kept him upright as they walked. He then saw how many people they’d brought with them. The rest of the militant division stood outside the house holding torches and blunt objects. What had they expected? A secret orgy going on? Yoongi recognized some of the faces in the crowd. These people were his friends, his neighbors. He sat next to them in church. He shared food and worked together with them. They used to be friendly. Now, they only glared at the sight of him. 
Taehyung and Suho forced Yoongi to his knees in front of James. However, it was Hoseok’s screams that made him look away. Jungkook and the other follower tossed Hoseok onto the floor and began beating him. Yoongi watched fists and feet slam down into his body; the force of it caused the skinny man to contort to the hits. He tried shielding himself, but Jungkook’s boot crushed one of the arms over his face. Hoseok tried fighting back. He crawled away from them at one point towards Yoongi. Hot tears streamed down his cold cheeks seeing Hoseok’s face bloody and broken from the beating. Yoongi tried moving to him, but Jungkook kept him firmly in place. 
“James, make them stop!” Yoongi cried, “Please, make them stop! Stop! It wasn’t his fault!” 
Jungkook grabbed Hoseok by the hair, dragging him back to the tree. “No! No, Hoseok! No! Stop! Please, don’t! Leave him alone!” Jungkook continued beating Hoseok harshly, his fists becoming red and raw. “Take me instead! It was me! It’s me! James!” he looked up to the man above him, “Please.”
“He is unclean,” he said solemnly, “There is no saving someone like him. Let this be a lesson to you boy, look what happens when one falls into temptation and the devil’s tricks.”
Yoongi turned to Hoseok just in time to see Hoseok finally collapse to the ground. Seeing his limp body spread on the dark grass, watching Jungkook cackle and taunt him further, Yoongi screamed. He screamed, but could not hear it. The entire world shattered in a single moment; his heart broke and bled through him. Nobody made a sound. Nobody hugged or reached for him. They all stood and watched. It was then that Yoongi broke away from Taehyung and Jungkook and ran to Hoseok. He slid onto the ground, his knees scraping through the soft grass, as he brought his head onto his lap. Yoongi cradled Hoseok in his arms, his name coming out through his sobs. It was all his fault. He was the one who gave into his disgusting thoughts; he was the one who hugged and kissed him first. He brought this on them both, and God will never forgive him. 
“Take him to the shacks,” he heard James’s voice in the distance. “And put Him in the woods. Don’t bother burying him. He ain’t worth the trouble.”
They’d beaten him fiercely. Crimson covered his sun-kissed skin, and broke through his nose, lip, and cheeks. If he was breathing, Yoongi couldn’t feel it. He held him tightly as hands tried forcing him away. How could He let this happen? Why would God put such a beautiful creature into his life, only to then take him away? Had he done something wrong? Had he not prayed enough? Worshipped enough? The Lord was punishing him for this, he knew it. Finally, Jungkook and Taehyung pulled him away. They dragged him across the front yard; he did not fight back or scream. He only muttered Hoseok’s name. He whispered for forgiveness for what he’d done. He had never meant for this to happen. 
They should’ve left. 
Namjoon listened to Yoongi as he recounted the story. He managed to keep the lump in his throat from swelling as he did. It made sense to him now. Losing someone you loved was traumatic on it’s own; having to witness it drove it deeper. Yoongi sat shaking, tears spilling down his face as he sobbed into his hands. He’d finally broken at the very end. Namjoon did not know what to say except:
“It wasn’t your fault. It was Hudson’s fault.”
He’d never heard this Hoseok mentioned in the reports. He’d scanned for the name amongst the dozens they’d collected so far. If they did put him in the hills, nobody has discovered a body yet. Maybe they did bury him after all. Namjoon decided he’d leave Yoongi for a moment, perhaps get him some water. He returned to Jin in the other room, who turned to him with teary eyes. 
“That’s fucking sad, man,” the detective said. “I don’t blame him for blowing the bastard’s brains out one bit. I’d let him walk if the press weren’t all over this thing.”
Namjoon only agreed. As he walked out for coffee and water, he opened his phone and dialed Jimin’s number. Standing in the break room by the water cooler, he waited for him to pick up. 
“Hey,” he sighed in relief at Jimin’s voice, “You’re calling early. I thought you’d be swamped with that Kingsville thing.”
“We are,” he looked out to see the rest of the officers in the bull pit, “It’s crazy in here.”
“I’d imagine...Nine-hundred-and-nineteen people,” he said. “It’s awful. Are they still identifying people?”
“They are.” He paused for a moment, then said, “I know you’re busy with the kids, but I wanted to tell you something.”
“What? Is everything okay?”
“I love you.”
“Um, okay,” he chuckled, “I love you too.”
“No, I mean it, Jimin.” He thought back to all the times he had kissed Jimin; how the world became so much brighter when he had entered his life. “I love you. If anyone ever, ever took you from me, I’d…” he hesitated again, swallowing the dryness in his throat, “I’d kill them. I really would.”
“Namjoon,” he sounded worried, “Are you okay? Did something happen today?”
“No, I’m fine. I just...wanted you to know that I love you.”
Jimin stayed silent, then said, “Is this about that guy they’ve been talking about?”
“What? What guy?”
“Yeah, there’s this guy they’ve been showing all over the place. I think his name is ‘Min’? They’re saying he shot the guy who was running that cult.”
 he thought to himself, glancing back over to the other officers. The information must’ve leaked from somewhere. Nobody is supposed to know about Yoongi right now. “Maybe. I can’t say for sure, but we’re looking into it. Just...Just try not to watch the news for right now. I’ll talk to you when I get home.”
“Um, alright,” he said. “I love you.”
“Love you too.”
He hung up and then grabbed two paper cups. One with water, one with coffee, he went back to the interrogation room. The media now knew his name and his connection to Hudson. Namjoon hoped they did not try blaming this entire thing on Yoongi; the women in the hills had nothing to do with it. Or perhaps it did. When he returned, he saw Jin sitting across from Yoongi. He’d quieted his sobbing, but he still did not speak. How could Jin expect him to want to talk after what he just said? Jin made a few more attempts before Namjoon entered the room. 
“I tried asking him about the girls,” Jin whispered to him by the door. “But he won’t talk. He just keeps crying.”
“You would too,” Namjoon replied. “Look,” he said, “The press knows about him.”
Jin stomped his foot and hissed out a curse. “Damnit, who told them?”
“I don’t know. I was talking to Jimin and he says Min’s on the news.”
“Fuck,” he sighed. “I gotta go handle this thing before they start scapegoating,” he nodded at Namjoon, “I’ll leave you with him.”
“Alright. Let me know what happens.” 
“Will do.” 
Namjoon went back to the table where Yoongi still sat. He placed the water cup in front of Yoongi, then sipped from his coffee. “Yoongi...are you okay to talk again?”
“I-I don’t know,” he said. “The rest of it isn’t nice either.”
“I don’t expect it to be.” 
He saw the man mull it over in his mind as he sipped the cool water. “They took me to the shacks they had by the warehouse. There’s about five or six of them there. They’re dark, damp and made of wood. There’s no bathroom or bed. There’s a tiny window up top, but you still can’t see anything.”
“I’m assuming any rule breakers get put in these little punishment shacks, huh?”
“They do. People that talk badly about James; people who steal food or supplies; people who miss out on sermons or people who do ‘sinful’ things,” he said. “They get put in there. I remember one man getting put in there for having sex with his own wife on their wedding night.”
“Why did he get punished for that?”
“Because James is supposed to have sex with her first,” he drank more water and said, “That’s a rule. Being the prophet and messiah, he is supposed to be fruitful with as many women as he can.”
Namjoon snorted at this. “Of course he said that,” he rolled his eyes. Then it dawned on him, “Yoongi…” he pulled out five photos from the envelope next to him. He placed the pictures in front of Yoongi on the table. Each picture showed a different woman they’d found in the hills. “Were any of these women taken to the shacks?”
Yoongi studied the photos a moment, then said, “Not that I recall. These were James’s wives.”
“His wives?”
“Yeah, women who were chosen by God to birth the next Prophet when James died,” he answered. “There’s a whole ceremony for it. He’d say that God showed her to him in a vision, and said she is a divine object pure enough to bear a Son of God in her belly. But…” he tilted his head to one side. He pointed to one brunette and said, “They said she died giving birth to a still born...and she did too. They told us these two ran away,” he pointed to another blonde in front of him, “And that she’s still in the hospital.” He stared at them all in disbelief, then said, “Are they all dead?”
“Yes. They are. We found them in the hills behind Kingsville. They all looked like they’d recently given birth, then had their throats slit.” He examined Yoongi’s horrified expression, “We don’t know why he’d do this to them if they’d so willingly carried his children. Do you, maybe, have an idea?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t know them personally, so I can’t say why he’d kill them,” he said. “James killed people for whatever reason he could think of. Why do you think all of my friends...all of my neighbors...the people I grew up around and loved are all dead? Because he told them the government was coming for us. He said that they were jealous of our closeness to The Lord and were being guided by Satan to kill us. He said they’d enslave our women and put our children into camps to be given away to ungodly people. But that wasn’t true.” He sniffled, wiping his cheeks with his shirt, “It’s because of the guns and the stuff they found in the warehouse, right?”
“That was one of our reasons for going in there,” he confirmed. “Another was people claiming relatives of theirs were being held captive there. They said Hudson told them if they wanted to leave, they’d need to pay their way out and since he controls all money going through there, nobody was able to leave. So many people told us to look into them, so we did. Then I guess he wanted to get rid of any witnesses...not that he did a very good job, considering the amount of people who escaped."
"He was 'a no good son of a bitch," Yoongi said. 
"That's one thing we agree on." He took a drink from his coffee, then said, "How about you continue with your story? You said it helps me understand the church better.”
It was sweltering hot, as expected in the middle of the summer. His throat had never felt so dry. Every swallow pained him at this point. He pursed his parched lips, hoping to gain a sliver of moisture, but still dry. They’d have to bring water soon; his hollow stomach grumbled for the millionth time that day. He felt so heavy. He tried moving his limbs, but they ached and cramped up. The small eight by eight foot shack gave him almost no room to move around in the first place. He could only sit and feel the suffocating humidity slip through the cracks. Yoongi spent most days pressed to a hole in the wall, breathing in the fresh air. He needed to live. Hoseok would want him to live. 
James said he needed to suffer as Jesus had for their sins, which meant nearly starving and dehydrating him. They took him to the big house on the hill, James’s house. Militants would drag him into the basement where they'd stick electric pads to his temples. In between pangs of shock, they'd show him old fashioned pictures of men with men. James would tell him how wrong and disgusting it was; that he needed to reject these urges and be clean. It made him vomit. It made him sick. But not the photos or the shocks. 
Him. James. James and his fanatical followers. Every time they dragged him into the basement, he felt sicker and sicker. He saw them as they truly were, 
Yoongi saw no remorse when he called out for his friends to help him. He only saw disgust and hate. James continued with the shock therapy until he heard Yoongi praying under his breath one night. 
“What was that, boy?” he asked, bending down to meet Yoongi’s tired, bloodshot eyes. 
“...For-fo-forgive me, Lord, for I have sinned…”
He continued the prayer over and over as James laughed in delight. “You’re finally seeing the light!” he smiled widely, “Your soul is clean and saved once again!” his laughter rang around the dark, empty room. Yoongi did not care what they thought. He did not care if they forgave him. He only cared that God forgave him. 
For what he was about to do.
“And they accepted you back with open arms, huh?” 
“They did,” Yoongi nodded. “They threw me a party to celebrate me being saved. They were such liars. One minute they were all my friends and neighbors, then they tossed me in a hot box and didn’t care if I died.” He’d stopped drinking from his water, staring off away from Namjoon. “Perhaps this was their lesson.”
“God saw how evil and hypocritical they were, and decided he’d get rid of them all.”
The words struck Namjoon as odd. A moment ago he’d talked about James murdering his friends and neighbors, but now he believes they deserved it. He noted that before he asked, “What happened after you came back?”
“They set me up in a smaller house near James’s house. They said they wanted me closer to the community, but it was really to keep an eye on me. Eventually, James came to me and said people still didn’t believe I’d turned straight, so he told me I’d be marrying someone.”
Namjoon flipped through his files, “Angelica?”
He nodded, “One of the most beautiful women in Kingsville. He said no real man could resist her charms and beauty. If I wanted to prove I’d converted, I had to…you know...have sex with her.”
“Did you?”
“Didn’t have a choice. James and the elders stood outside our bedroom door, well, after James took her virginity.” 
Of course. 
“I’m not angry at her. I don’t blame her at all,” he explained. “I’m sure I wasn’t her first choice husband either. She was one of the good Hoseok. She understood that,” he swallowed thickly, “That his death really hurt me still, and she tried making things easy for me.”
“You didn’t have children though.”
“We tried,” he said. “I guess children weren't in God’s plan for us.” 
“Guess not.” He then said, “What work did they have you do then? I’m sure they didn’t want you working around other men.”
“Working in the hill house with James’s wife, Marceline, and his other wives.”
“Completely surrounded by
Namjoon almost laughed, “They wanted you to be straight, but then stick you around the women rather than the men who can pump you with testosterone..”
“To avoid temptation.”
“And what did these women talk about when their husband wasn't around, hm?” he smiled. “Their love and faith in the Lord?”
Yoongi blushed, “Marceline wasn’t like James. She understood me. She gave me the more ‘manlier’ tasks like chopping wood or fixing things around the house for her. She was...a wonderful woman. She’d be the first one to defend me whenever Jungkook and the other guys started in on me. The other wives weren’t as nice, but that was expected. They wanted James’s favor, so they treated me like shit too.” He saw the scorn on his face thinking of the other wives. 
“You did know these girls then?” he asked, gesturing to the pictures still on the table. 
“I did. I mean, I didn’t talk to them a lot, but I helped care for their babies when they were born.” 
“But, you said that he must’ve killed them because they gave him stillborns or miscarried.”
“Not all of them did. Jessica,” he pointed to the blonde, “Had a beautiful baby boy. She’d managed to name him before she passed. Adam,” he smiled, “Cutest baby you ever saw. Big brown eyes and chubby cheeks. Marceline took care of him personally, and I helped her on occasion.” 
Namjoon paused, watching Yoongi again. “And how did James react to this?”
“Well, the way any other father would. He’d talk about how they’re going to be the next prophet and God will cherish them above all other children. Of course, he’d be devastated whenever the girls ran off, but I suppose now that was just a show.”
“I guess.” He finished off his coffee, then said, “Now, the church? What happened?”
“Alright...James had just announced that we’d all be meeting God together over the church loudspeakers that go through the town. I was there when the militants brought out the big buckets of cyanide and started mixing it with Kool Aid.” He ran a hand through his golden hair, then said, “I watched people take cups and down them like shots. The militants forced some people to drink it or injected them with it. James said that God will reward us for our sacrifice in the face of the Devil’s army, the government.”
“Yes, we know that part now. I’m talking about you, Yoongi. What did you do?”
“Marceline told me and the other girls to run off into the hills. I…” he straightened himself in his seat and leaned forward, “I couldn’t leave. James had hurt so many people already. He took young girls as brides, forced himself on them, and acted like it was God’s command. He punished and killed people for not listening to him and treating him like the Messiah come back to us. He,” he wiped his eyes, “he took Hoseok from me. He killed the one person I’d loved above everyone else. If he’d left me and Hoseok alone, Hoseok would’ve been alive today, he’d be in my arms if it weren’t for James. Now, you’d think that I’d want to join him; that I’d drink that Kool Aid and finally be with him in paradise. I couldn’t do that.”
“Then what did you do, Yoongi?”
The chapel was a tall white structure with a peaked roof top with a cross on top. The church kept the bushes and greenery around it lush and well kept all year round. Yoongi shook from head to foot as he walked up the dirt road to the building. In his hand, he held his father’s gun. He had to bypass militants and escaping followers to get back to his old house, but he managed just fine. He had found it where he’d kept it when his father passed away from sickness; the trunk at the foot of his bed. Yoongi foolishly thought if he’d reached it in time, perhaps he would have fought off Jin and the others that night. No, he would’ve lost immediately to Jin’s automatic. 
God had meant for him to use it for this moment. 
He found James alone in the church. Rather than be down in the center of town with his followers, who were dying for him right now, he was hiding in there. Yoongi took in the back of him for a moment. He realized how old and sickly James 
He breathed heavier when he moved around these days, he wore his dark sunglasses more often now which were prescription. Marceline had said his diabetes had begun to affect his eyesight, and he might become blind if he did not see a doctor. He overheard the wives talking about how he took pills to get aroused. The bouts of gout he’d get made it difficult for him to walk some days. It was the Lord’s way of slowly killing him, and Yoongi would finish the job for Him. 
“Excuse me, James…” he took a seat at the end of the room. All the nerves in his body went down to his hands, holding the pistol. He’d only fired it once with his father’s help. It wasn’t like anybody would blame him. 
“Yoongi?” he did not turn to look at him, “What’re you doing here? You should be at the square with everyone else.”
“You got time for a sinner?”
This made him look over his shoulder, “Very little, but as His Vessel, I am obligated to listen for Him.” He struggled to turn in the seat, then said, “What is on your mind?”
“I wish to cleanse my soul before I meet Him, sir. I…” he took a deep breath, “I’ve been having these unholy thoughts about...about other men.”
“But I have you working with the women. They’re meant to steer you from that; it is why you married Angelica, remember?”
“I still think of them as much as I try not to,” he said. “I feel guilty and sick when I do.”
“What is it you think about?”
“Kissing other men. I think about being in bed with them. I think about being naked, and letting them take me the way they’d take a woman…” he thought of Hoseok, who’d always been gentle and passionate. “I think of Hoseok and how he made me feel. I think of how he made my heart race whenever he smiled at me. He made me feel alive. He made me see that there is a world outside Kingsville, and that I could live in it. I loved him, James. I loved him almost as much as God, if not more.”
“Don’t you speak that blasphemy here!! God gave you life-”
“-And a heart meant to give love and receive it in return. You always say God puts us on specific paths to lead us to our purpose. Well, he put Hoseok in my path. If he did not want me to love him, why would he do that?”
“To test your faith and resolve against temptations of the Devil.”
“The only one who failed the temptations of flesh is the no good son of a bitch sitting in front of me.” 
Yoongi finally met his eyes and glared hard. All the anger seated inside him slowly rose up inside him. It made him clutch the gun tighter in his hands. 
“You little shit,” he seethed. “After everything I have done for you, you repay my kindness like this? I should’ve killed you that night; then you can be with your f-”
Yoongi stood and drew his gun on him. “Say that word. Go ahead. Say it, I dare you.” 
The sight of the gun startled James, who stood up as quickly as his size allowed. “Now, now, Yoongi...This is God’s house, son. You don’t want to shed blood in a holy place like this.”
“You built this church,” he said, “How holy can it be? You’re not a Prophet. You’re not His Vessel or Messiah or whatever you claim to be. You’re the Devil. You’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
“How dare you-”
“-Look what is happening right now. All those people you’ve fooled are now drinking poison at your command.” Yoongi trained the gun on him the way his father taught him. His heart pounded in his ears, and he steadied his breath. “I relive that night every day in my head. I remember how Jungkook crushed his arm; how Suho and him kicked him around like a ball before Jungkookfinished him off. I remember my heart, the heart that The Lord gave me, breaking and shattering like glass. It was my love for Hoseok that kept me alive in that prison. He would never have wanted me to give up and let you win.”
“And he wouldn’t want you to do this,” he held his hands up to defend himself. “Pu-put the gun down and we can talk about this.” Yoongi cocked the gun, and James clutched his sides, “Goddamnit, boy! Hoseok was a little fairy and he was corrupting you.” 
“The only one corrupting people was you.” He then said, “Hope you meant it when you said you wanted to be one with God. It’s about to happen.”
He fired. He watched the first bullet strike right into James’s chest. Blood seeped through the white shirt under his button down, growing larger as another bullet hit his chest. Once he pulled the trigger, Yoongi continued firing. Each bullet found a different target; they brought him closer and closer to death, and he couldn’t help but smile. When James finally hit the floor in a loud thud, Yoongi plopped down into a pew. His entire body fell into its exhaustion. He stared at the lifeless body in a pool of blood. Yoongi used to admire this man. He used to look up to him, and strived to be close to God like him. Taking deep breaths, feeling his body slowly growing numb, Yoongi looked up to the cross above him. Jesus looked back at him with his solemn eyes as he hung there. Was he judging him for what he did? 
“Forgive me,” he whispered. “Please, forgive me.” 
Hoseok. Lord, let him see Hoseok again. 
“Why didn’t you run away?”
“Too tired, I suppose.”
“It’s not easy killing someone.”
“Not easy seeing everyone you know scattered around the ground after drinking poison either.”
“No, it’s not.”
Namjoon couldn’t figure him out. Something about his story sounded off, but he couldn’t pinpoint it. If James already made the announcement, why was he not with them? Why was he alone in the chapel? He’d heard of cult leaders at least having their closest members or family with them when they died. James had guns stockpiled in the warehouse. They could have fought back against whatever government guard showed up. 
Then there are the ‘hillside girls’, whom Yoongi claimed not to know very well...after saying he didn’t know them. Namjoon nodded, taking the pictures and putting them in the folder. “Thank you for being honest with me, Yoongi. I’ll make sure the prosecution knows that you were cooperative with us.”
“I don’t see any reason to lie about what happened. You and your people already know if you can put two and two together.” He then asked, “They gonna put me away?”
“Considering what Hudson did and the information you’ve given us, I don’t think so. If anything, you’ll get a light sentence.” Was he not bothered more by what he’d lost rather than what would happen to him? Namjoon guessed people worked differently. “Thank you, Yoongi,” he said, finally standing up, “And I hope everything turns out right for you.”
“Thank you, Detective.”
Even as he left the interrogation room for his desk, the strangeness of it all nagged on him. He told Jin they should speak to him again tomorrow when he’s better rested. Lack of sleep could mess with memory pretty well. Yoongi loved Hoseok and wanted to avenge him, which he did. He couldn’t have been involved in anything else.
‘He looks smart, but he’s as dumb as his partner’, Yoongi thought. 
The good looking detective and another officer led him back to the little cell in the station. They’d be transferring him to the county jail until his trial. Yoongi didn’t see a jury convicting him after who he shot and the things they knew about him. It’s not as if they’d know the truth anyways. He was the only one who knew what really happened…
…”I loved Hoseok. I loved him almost as much as I love God, if not more…” he gritted between his teeth. His cheeks and eyes stayed dry as a smile curled on his face. “Much like you and your wives…”
James’s face dropped hearing this. "What do you mean?"
"Your wives..." He stepped closer, the giddiness inside him rising up. "You never found it strange how the babies came out dead or sick? Marceline said that God didn't intend for them to be mothers, but it was not God who decided that."
His eyes widened with shock. He leaned stepped backwards to his podium. "You...No, Yoongi...that...All because of Hoseok?"
"You took someone I loved, so I took someone you loved. Five of them."
"Hoseok would never have wanted you to do this. Killing grown folks is one thing, but..Yoongi...the Lord-"
"-Save the sermon," he warned, cocking the gun. "You're the last person who should be talking. You've killed plenty of people and gotten away with it. I killed those bitches because they meant something to you. Having them around ensured you could have more little Prophets running around to take over when you died. Those women stroked your ego and made you feel young...however little possible that it. I thought of killing the children, but why? When their mothers are the ones who can pop out more? If the child died in the womb or became sickly, then so be it. As long as it devastated you, I would be at peace with it."
"-Don't call me 'son'-"
"-I didn’t mean for them to kill him,” he said. “I have a reputation to keep. Imagine what people would say if they found out I let you two carry on like that. I had to do something!”
“You could’ve shown people that there’s nothing wrong with it!” Yoongi replied, trying to steady his shaking hand. “You could’ve taught love and acceptance instead of hate and lies! You could have told them to stop…” the swelling in his throat broke through and he felt tears go down his face. “He’s gone and it’s your fault! It’s your fault!”
“Yoongi, Yoongi, wait! Wait, wait-”
The force of the gun kicked back slightly, but his arm adjusted to it the second time. He saw James slump back against the podium as blood splattered his front. Yoongi stood watching his drooping eyes fall shut in his final moments. He took in the aging face with droplets of blood on the jaw and chin. This man once meant a lot to him. He could not believe he once thought THIS man was a vessel for God. Yoongi looked away from James to the radio station in the corner. Morning mass ended a few hours ago, and everyone went down to the square for lunch. They were  all in the perfect spot. Yoongi walked up to the station, took up the microphone, and cleared his throat. 
“My children,” he said in the grave, deep voice James put on for his sermons, “My gentle children...It is with a heavy heart and worried mind that I speak to you. Our enemies have decided that our light shines just a bit too brightly. Men from the government are coming to Kingsville, and they will not come empty handed. They will rain down fire and brimstone upon us! They will take your children and enslave them; give them away to heathens so they may be set on the path to Hell! They will rape and deflower our women! They will burn our homes and crops without remorse!” Yoongi smiled. He pictured them all standing by the picnic tables, trays of food in their hands as they listened to him. He could see the panic in their faces steadily growing in his mind. He continued, “It is time that we join our Lord in paradise. I ask my faithful followers to mix the potion that will take us from this world into the next. We will all drink it together as brothers and sisters. We rose from the ashes as one, and now we shall fall as one.” 
Yes, fall. They’d fall. They knew what James had done to him, Hoseok and so many others, yet turned their faces away. He remembered their stares when he had left the shacks. Those suspicious glances the men gave him, and the cold stares women shot if he looked at their husbands for a second. They all knew James had killed Hoseok, but they said nothing. They wanted to live like their leader, now they would die with him. 
“I know it will not be an easy swallow,” he said, still imitating James’s voice, “But it is one that we will take together.” 
James Edgar Hudson was pronounced dead at 1:52pm Friday, March 4th, 2018. He was found in the cult’s church with multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and stomach. Investigators suspect fellow church member, Min Yoongi , to be the shooter. As many people know, Hudson was the fanatical leader of The Church of God’s Children, a religious cult. Before his death, Hudson convinced his church followers to drink a mixture of cyanide and fruit punch in order to gain entrance into Heaven, making it one of the largest loss of life in recorded history. 
Min Yoongi, the follower who shot Hudson, testified in his trial that he could not believe someone he admired would ask his followers to die for him. After being declared ‘innocent’ and cleared of all charges, Yoongi went on to become a guest speaker at prominent church rallies and LGBTQ+ events, where he spoke about his time with God’s Children and how he has learned to love and accept himself. He recently started his own charity in honor of his partner, Jung Hoseok, called the Hope World Foundation, a foundation dedicated to providing safety, healthcare, counseling, and housing for LGBTQ+ youth in the city. 
As for the Hillside Girls case, Detectives Kim Seokjin and Kim Namjoon say they are still looking for leads. However, it is highly suspected Hudson and/or associates were behind the attacks.
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